Okay, since I don’t want this to become the infamous “B^3 missing blog post”, especially since it clearly went out on my RSS feed despite my fast deleting action, I’m reposting it. After all, we all know what happens when someone writes something and then pulls it from their site. The legends only grow in the retelling.
So here you go, friends.
This one is totally off topic, but it’s on my mind, and if I get the rant out of my system, I ought to be a lot more cheerful today. Sorry about that.
If you’re looking for WoW stuff, or just don’t want to bother with some old geezer ranting bout the world today, pass on by, my friends. Pass on by.
So, I worry about our kids. I worry about my son most, but yeah, I spare some concern for yours, too. I do. It’s all part of the service I provide.
I bet my folks said the same thing. And their folks said the same about them. And yeah, we turned out mostly okay.
But it’s true.
I look at the culture my son is growing in, and it freaks me out more than a little.
I already know my son will face challenges I never had to deal with. Hopefully, one he won’t have to deal with is growing up in an abusive home. And I look forward to the day he’s a teenager, and he tells me I just couldn’t possibly understand the stress he’s under, and the problems he’s dealing with, and how unfair I am for not giving him his own car when he turns 16. Ahhhh, those will be good times.
FYI, I never got a car handed to me. Or college, or the possibility of college. If I didn’t earn it on my hook, I didn’t get it. I can’t say I never got anything, however. When I graduated High School, my dad gave me a Smith and Wesson .357 magnum model 686 6″ barrel revolver in stainless with rubber combat grips. Damn, that was a nice gun. Sigh. I miss that gun. Sorry, back to the point.
I think the one thing I feel the worst about is how fast my son will have to learn in order to keep pace with the changing world.
The information age means more than just staying wired and connected. Having grown with the information tsunami, I’ve managed to ride the wave and stay on the crest without being overwhelmed… so far.
And I know what it’s like to have fallen off that wave, because I’ll get asked to come over and help install a Cable TV/VCR/DVD Recorder setup, because it’s just too confusing for some folks more used to the old rabbit ears era of long ago. Or to network a home PC setup, or troubleshoot a driver issue, or whatever. Programming a VCR? Okay, I leave that to my wife, I don’t handle that. Somehow, I keep having problems with the old VCR dealio.
Younger folks I’m sure think anyone over the age of 20 no longer have any grasp of things, but I think the 35 – 45 set have the simple advantage, if we were techies in the first place, of being there at the start and growing in tune with the changes. We simply add on to existing knowledge, concepts and ideas.
We stand on the shoulders of giants. We have learned along the way to improvise our solutions to pain-in-the-ass poorly designed technology, adapt to changing formats and standards, and overcome the challenges of wringing something useful out of it all.
But all that we can take for granted, those just starting out will have to learn from scratch. And there is no time for sitting on their butts watching Barney and then waltzing languidly into Kindergarten. And I feel really bad about that.
As much as I accept responsibility for trying to allow my son to have lots of unrestricted, imaginative fun as a child, and also get exposed to the computer and tech so he isn’t clueless, I can’t control the flow of information.
I worry about what lessons the rest of the world wants to teach him, and sometimes I want to scream, because once he’s out of the house, he’s at the mercy of whatever crackpot ideas the schools and his peers want to stuff in his head.
My son is 5 years old. From the day he was born, we were on top of all the rules and regulations about child safety. We had twin child safety seats of the appropriate type for both cars. He never, ever, ever sits in the front seat. He never travels without the appropriate safety harness.
When I was growing up, there were no safety seats. In fact, I can remember on more than one cross-state drive, laying not in the back bench seat, but laying in the window well above the rear bench seat. And do you think a cop pulled us over? My dad WAS a cop. Such things didn’t exist. Now, the story on our talk radio is about a mom that was arrested for standing 10 yards from her car, within sight of it, when one of her children was safely strapped inside, while she donated money to a Goodwill box.
She was arrested, and is facing criminal charges of child endangerment. Presumably because her car could have been carjacked. How times change, eh?
Every year, more studies are done about accidental deaths, and from those studies new laws are created to try and prevent them.
And that’s damn good. I think about the unsafe shit my folks did with me, like all the times I rode around alone in the back bed of our Jeep, and I cringe at all the kids out there that suffered to bring these laws into use now.
But there is one aspect of legislation out of liability studies that makes me nuts, and I mean serious nuts.
Liability. If a law is made, if choices are made that are based around liability, then pretty soon people who teach a lesson or moral are told what they are allowed to say, or risk incurring liability for any accidents that may possibly happen because someone once saw their TV show or movie.
I will give you an example of the kind of lesson that our children are being taught these days, and I’ll leave it for you to play your own game of ‘pick out what lessons are being taught to help kids, and which ones are taught to prevent our being sued’.
Here we go. When we let our son watch TV, we refuse to let him be saturated with commercials pimping the latest must-have toys into his head. So he watches cable-only channels aimed at the preschool and Kindergarten crowd, like Noggin.
One of the shows he likes is Fireman Sam, a nice smooth claymation-style British themed show about Firemen. And I admit, I like the fact he is watching something framed in another culture, just like I love him watching Sagwa, the adventures of the Chinese Siamese Cat. It’s refreshing to see him exposed to something other than Transformers or Ninja Turtles.
But he’s watching the show this weekend, and I’m sitting there watching with him. And the episode is about how haystacks can have a high internal heat, hot enough to spontaneously catch on fire. And, inevitably, there are two little kids playing near a haystack, that is smoldering and about to burst into flame, and they don’t notice.
Now, there is a little pain in the ass kid on the show, abrasive and disobedient, and more power to him. As you might imagine, he is usually the one that is disobedient to the directives of his elders, and thus needs to be rescued by Fireman Sam or die, the lesson being if you disobey authority, you will die a fiery death.
In this case, he is playing on his own because he was mean to other kids, and as he looks across a road, he sees the two kids playing, and the haystack that is about to burst into flames. He yells, he waves his arms. but he is 1 block away from the kids, across a small country road, so they can see him, but he’s just too far away to hear clearly. Since he is a troublemaker, they ignore him.
A short digression – in my neighborhood, if I was playing with others, and another kid started yelling at us and waving his arms, we would automatically go over there to find out whats going on, out of sheer boredom. And if he was being a smartass, and said something like “Nyah, nyah, made you come”, we’d pound him. Either way, it would relieve the boredom. So, whatever. I guess the British are far nicer about such things. And somehow, I have little trouble believing that.
Anyway, so the kids stay where they are and ignore the boy yelling and screaming and waving his arms.
Now, here is where I go absolutely insane. Instead of showing the kid walking across the street to tell the two kids to get the hell walk away from the haystack before it bursts into flame, he continues to stand there yelling. And yelling. Utterly ineffectually.
A car driving on the street stops, it is the first car to drive by, and a lady gets out of her car to ask him what is wrong. He points across the road, and explains that the haystack is going to catch on fire. Remember, it’s still only smoldering here, smoking, no actual flame yet.
The lady in the car runs across the street to warn the kids, right? She pulls out the fire extinguisher she keeps in the trunk? She yells? She flashes the kids to scare them into running? She fires a gun into the sky? Right? She takes some kind of personal action? Right? Hops in her car and blasts into the little field to rush to the kids’ rescue? Right?
Hell no! She pulls out her cellphone and CALLS THE FIRE DEPARTMENT TO COME TO SAVE TWO KIDS SHE IS LESS THAN A BLOCK FROM ACROSS FLAT GROUND.
And then the lady and the kid stand there by her car, and wait for the fire truck to arrive. And you see a nice 5 minute montage of the happy firefighters getting all dressed up back at the station and getting into their fire truck to save the day.
And just as the fire truck arrives, the hay stack bursts into flame, and the kids try to run away in a panic, and one isn’t looking where he’s going, takes one step and falls down. Does he get up and run? Does he crawl away? Does he fight or resist or take action to save himself? Does he show any initiative whatsoever?
No. He lays where he stumbled, cowering in fear.
And Fireman Sam rushes up as the boy lays there, and the boy tells him “I think I twisted my ankle.” With a whimper and a chin quiver, no less.
And Fireman Sam picks up the boy and dashes to safety, seconds before the burning inferno of a haystack topples over onto the place where moments before he had lain.
The whole thing…. the whole thing pisses me off so badly I can’t even begin to break it down. There are so many lessons buried in this short scene I want to choke the writer and make him do the funky chicken.
Am I crazy? Am I the only one that sees that and breaks down the message a young, impressionable mind will carry away from it? Am I alone in screaming WTF in my mind?
I swear, there are days I just want to cry.