Does a "zero-tolerance" approach to school discipline keep students safer or disrupt the educational process? The answer is, of course, complicated, but a new report by the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania [PDF of report here] presents an argument that the approach has sprawled greatly from its original anti-gun goals and that the impact has largely been to push students out of the classroom.
Zero tolerance was introduced in Pennsylvania in the 1990s, and, based on a 1995 state law, it required the expulsion of students found possessing a (broadly defined) "weapon."
But as the study goes on to note:
In Pennsylvania, as around the nation, zero tolerance took on a life of its own. Particularly over the last 15 years, it infected the culture of schools so that an even broader range of behaviors and conflicts, like school uniform violations or talking back to adults, became the basis for removal from school, even when removal was not required by law."
Sacrificed on the altar of order in schools: things like due process, conflict resolution, and the exploration of solutions to prevent future conflicts. And alternative discipline systems that focus on principles like restorative justice are sidelined as well; there's no opportunity to work through a collaborative process when mandatory suspensions are the default answer to many or most problems.
An Education Week story about the report illuminated the sheer number of suspensions in the system:
Pennsylvania school leaders issued an average of 10.1 suspensions for every 100 students during the 2011-2012 school year, the report says. The York City School District, which had the highest suspension rate in the state that year, issued 91 suspensions for every 100 students, the report says. Some students may have been suspended multiple times.
Under zero-tolerance policies, students in various states have faced suspension or expulsion for offenses ranging from playing with airsoft guns in their own yards, crafting a gun shape from a Pop Tart, and making gun hand gestures.
In aggregate, the policies are a parallel to the criminal justice system and its 1990s/early '00s rush toward mandatory minimum sentences. Both zero tolerance and mandatory minimums take discretion away from the authorities on hand to enforce rules, and both hand down sometimes draconian sentences that inflict harm far out of proportion to the offense in question, largely to satisfy a broad public desire to "get tough" on a specific problem.
While there's no getting around the fact that there is a guns-in-schools problem in America and a discipline-in-schools problem in many districts, evidence suggests that a broad-brush zero-tolerance approach to anything often causes more problems than it resolves; treating students like prisoners may do more to harm education than it does to save it. In fact, treating prisoners like prisoners are currently treated may cause more problems than it solves, but that's another series of studies entirely.
Wait, what did she say? Yeah, you read that right.
This blog post is a bit of a rant and it's a bit all over the place. My kids are NOT the center of my world, and that's quite simply because they aren't the center of any world, anywhere.
If you're feeling adventurous today, feel free to read on. I'll forewarn you though, this post contains subject matter about which I feel very strongly. As are most emotionally heated issues – I suppose it's controversial. But hey, I feel how I feel and that's not going to be changed.
The emotions that sparked this blog post were given a little bit of a supercharge last evening. Hendrix was picking out what he wanted to take to school for Show & Tell. He chose a little Imaginext action figure – one that he's had for about two years now. With the action figure comes a little yellow object. For the two years that he's had this toy, that yellow object has always been a drill to him. He gathered the action figure, the mask that goes with him, and the yellow drill and proudly told me he'd chosen that for Show & Tell. Then, you could see him thinking. And he promptly changed his mind and said to me, "You know what, I better not take this. My teacher will probably think it's a gun, and then I'll get in trouble," put the action figure back, and chose something else.
I often think about the world my boys will grow up in. I often get angry when I think about it. This particular situation just furthered those emotions for me.
In completely selfish terms, bringing my boys into this world was such a great decision – for me. They bring me so much joy, they fill my heart, they make me happy. But I often question whether or not it was the right decision for them. My boys are typical little boys. They love to play guns. They love to play good guy versus bad guy. They love to wrestle and be rowdy. That's the nature of little boys, as it has been since the beginning of time.
How long will it be before their typical boy-ish behavior gets them suspended from school? How long before they get suspended from daycare? \ How long will it be before one of them gets upset with a friend, tells that friend to go away and leave them alone, and subsequently gets labeled as a bully?
The mentality of our society in 2013 is nauseating to me, friends.
Many years ago, there was a time where young boys could run around with their toy guns, killing the bad guys. You could take the toy guns away from the little boys, and they'd find something else around them – a stick, their fingers, etc – and pretend it was a gun. Today, those little boys – if caught doing that – are labeled as threats, and immediate action is taken to remove that threat from the group.
There was a time – not too long ago – when bullying was defined as slamming someone up against a locker and stealing their lunch money. There was a time when kids got called names and got picked on, and they brushed it off and worked through it (ask me how I know this). Now, if "Sally" calls "Susie" a nasty name, Susie's whole world crumbles around her, she contemplates suicide, and this society encourages her to feel like her world truly has ended, and she should feel entitled to a world-wide pity party. And Sally – phew! She should be jailed! She should be thrown in juvenile detention for acting like – gasp – a teenage girl acts.
Modern parenting and thinking makes me crazy. The young generations of today (yes, I sound old. I realize I'm only 29 years old.) are being taught that they shouldn't have to ever put up with anything doesn't make their hearts feel like rainbow colored unicorns are running around pooping skittles onto piles of marshmallows.
Modern parenting is creating a generation that's not going to be able to function in society.
Your child, for whom you cater to every need, who you shelter from all things "evil." How will this child react when he or she grows into adulthood? "Debbie" graduates from high school and goes to college. She writes her first paper and meets with her professor about that paper and the professor tells her that it's junk and it will get a failing grade. How will Debbie cope with that if she's always been made to feel that no one should ever make her feel sad, or criticize anything she does?
"Donna" graduates from college and gets a job – you know, in the real world. She has to work on a committee to come up with a marketing plan. She shoots out an idea, and it gets immediately turned down. What is she to do? Go home and cry because no one liked her idea? Quit her job because she can't handle rejection?
Modern parents, who drop everything all the time to sit and play with the child, who "needs attention," or drop what they're doing to help the child the second he or she gets frustrated? How is Joey going to deal with the fact that there won't be anyone in his adult life who's willing to stop what they're doing, stop living their busy lives, to cater to his every whim?
How do you think "Billy" is going to cope in the real world, when his boss gives him a vague task to complete, and offers no helpful information as to how to complete this task? Mr. Boss is certainly not going to hold Billy's hand and help him through the task. Mr. Boss expects it to be completed by Monday. How has Billy been prepared to use his critical thinking and problem solving skills to be able to complete that task? He hasn't.
I certainly hope that the title of this blog post is starting to make sense. Parents who make their children the center of their universe are not doing anyone any favors. Obviously, as parents, we love our children more than anything. But dropping everything to cater to their every need is only going to lead to a very rude awakening once they enter the real world.
I'm not telling anyone how to parent, and I'm far from perfect myself. But when my kids can't find something, I refuse to help them until they've at least made a concerted effort to find it themselves. This isn't being mean, it's teaching them to at least attempt to solve a problem themselves before just giving up and asking for help.
When the TV gets turned off after the allotted time on the weekends, my kids are instructed to go play together in their room. I love and miss them during the work week, but I am not just a mom, I'm also Matt's wife, I'm also Stephanie, and I also run our household. There are things I have to get done, and my boys understand that. My children – while Matt and I both spend time playing with them – understand that the world doesn't begin and end with them. This allows them to find ways to entertain themselves, it builds imagination, and it teaches them to get along with each other without constant intervention.
We follow the rules and don't take toy guns or weapons to daycare. But I'll be darned if my boys aren't allowed to be little boys when they're at home. They have several toy guns and it's constantly a good guy vs. bad guy battle in my house. I feel like this teaches them to do the things they want to do, while respecting other's rules and regulations. It also teaches them that there are differing opinions about things in this world and that's ok. We can like and believe in the things we want, while respecting that others may not agree with us.
My children are all but ignored when they ask for something without using manners. They understand that when someone addresses or speaks to them, they are to speak back. When we go out to eat, we don't take 5 electronic devices to keep them "entertained" for the 15 minutes we have to wait for our food. If Hendrix is "bored" (and I use that term loosely), then he can put on his jacket and go play outside.
Everyone parents differently, and I respect that. The current generation may be one that expects nothing less than everything from this world. But I know of two gentlemen that are going to be able to accept failure and move on having learned something from it.
I know of two gentleman who will be hurt emotionally, but who will be able to work through the hurt and carry on with life. I will cushion the emotional fall as much as a mom can, but I will not completely prevent it from happening. They will not expect whoever hurt them to be punished. Heck, I might even teach my children the power of forgiveness.
These two gentlemen will understand the value of hard work, and know that hard work is required to get where one wants to be in life.
They will, while understanding the need for caution, appreciate that not everyone out there is out to get them. Not everyone is out to do evil things.
These gentlemen will understand that there are about a gazillion people in this world. While they are incredibly special to me and my family, they are not special to the world. That probably sounds terrible, but people! It's the harsh truth, and it needs to be embraced!
I know that I can't change the mindset of modern parents. That's never been and never will be my goal. I just want to make sure that I raise my sons to grow into respectable men who can thrive and succeed, due to having been prepared to do so.
My kids are not the center of my world because I love them enough not to allow them to be.
The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best family and parenting bloggers out there. Our contributing and guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor, and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. Stephanie Metz blogs at The Metz Family Adventures.
Lululemon has been in the news lately because the brand's founder, Chip Wilson, told Bloomberg News that when his $100 pants wear out more quickly than his cheaper competitors' do, it's women's fault. Women across North America were shocked to hear him claim that when Lululemon pants wear out too quickly, it's because women's bodies aren't built right – specifically, that their thighs are rubbing together.
I've got news for Chip Wilson: thighs that rub together are a physiologically normal trait in adult women. Implying that women's thighs shouldn't actually rub together is irresponsible.
Here's why: We live in a media culture that is toxic to women and girls. As a professor of advertising and media studies, I know firsthand that advertisements and magazines depict women with an idealized, extremely thin body type that is unattainable for the vast majority of people. In fact, most people don't realize that Photoshop isn't just used for retouching wrinkles and acne and for whitening teeth: it's regularly used to make models' waists and limbs dramatically smaller – so small that the proportions are physically impossible. And yet these images are so routine that we now see them as normal.
When we women look in the mirror and compare ourselves to the unattainable ideal, we fall short of the ideal – but we don't understand that the models themselves don't meet this ideal, either! Recently, a lot of young women have begun wishing that they could have a 'thigh gap,' just like that shown on models. There are entire web sites dedicated to this desire. But chasing the thigh gap is actually more likely to cause women to develop an eating disorder than skinny legs.
When I listened to Chip Wilson's interview and heard him say that Lululemon pants wear out quickly because women's thighs rub together, it really got my attention. Most women's thighs rub together – even those of us who are quite thin! Lululemon is supposed to be about women's health and fitness. By blaming women's bodies for a defect with his company's pants, Wilson is implying that a thigh gap is part of a normal, healthy body – and in the current context of our society and media, that's dangerous.
So, my Brave Girls Alliance colleague Marci Warhaft-Nadler and I put our heads together on the subject. Marci is a body image expert and an eating disorder survivor, and she agreed that Wilson's comments are dangerous and irresponsible. Together, we came up with a plan: To speak back to Wilson and Lululemon with a Change.org petition. Wilson is Canada's 10th-richest man, and Lululemon is the 4th most profitable retailer in the U.S. Being wealthy means having power. And there is no excuse for a man as prominent and wealthy as Wilson to body shame his own customers. He must be held accountable for his words.
We want Wilson to apologize to women for blaming their bodies for Lululemon's defective products. Although he posted an apology to YouTube recently, it wasn't to his customers; it was to Lululemon employees. And in that video, he apologized only for the repercussions of his Bloomberg interview – not for his words themselves. A week has gone by, and he has yet to show any understanding that he was body-shaming women or any remorse for doing so.
We also want Lululemon to pledge to manufacture clothing in larger sizes--at a minimum, sizes 14 and 16. The fact that their clothing line tops out at a size 12 is preposterous. First of all, size 12 is the average size among women in the U.S. and Canada. Secondly, it's entirely possible to be healthy while being a size 12 or larger. Weight is not the only marker of health! If Lululemon is a brand for women who want to be or become healthy, why shouldn't women of all sizes have access to it? Perhaps Lululemon is using thinness as a status symbol, but that's not right, either. Attention to our petition is on the rise. We've gathered nearly 1,200 signatures, and counting. Every time the petition is signed, Change.org delivers an email message to Lululemon. Together, our voices will be heard, and we can make a difference in the way business leaders speak about women's bodies.
Sign the petition today at change.org/lululemon.
The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best family and parenting bloggers out there. Our contributing and guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor, and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. Rebecca Hains blogs at rebeccahains.wordpress.com.
We are just about a week out from my son’s first birthday. I’ve polled friends to find out their opinions on how a first birthday should look.
When celebrating a first birthday, would you choose to have: A) A huge blowout bash (rent a moonwalk, bring in the clowns, hire a caterer), B) A simple soiree (send out invites to a dozen or so friends, provide food and drinks), or C) A candle, a cake, and a picture.
The majority have chosen B. Some make the point that this is a birthday he will never remember other than the pictures. Others say that this is a celebration more for the sake of the parents (to which I can’t help but respond with “Yay! We made it to one and he hasn’t been eaten by wolves. Hooray!”).
There will be no crafts, no invitations and no themes for this first birthday. I have chosen option C. I don’t want to seem like a birthday grump, I am quite the opposite. If anything, I set expectations for birthday celebrations too high, which is why I want to pace myself when it comes to my own kid’s birthday. With reality shows like “Outrageous Kid Parties” on TLC, I don’t want to get anyone’s hopes, or blood pressure, too high right out of the gate.
I look at it this way. My son has never had a cake baked for him. He’s never had a candle lit in his honor and stuck in a cake. And he’s never had his picture taken of him as he smears cake all over himself after it has been set on fire. We are already introducing quite a few mind-blowing antics into this whole birthday thing as is.
Let me address the biggest areas of intimidation for me when it comes to children’s birthday parties.
There is a file box in our office filling up with mementos from my son’s first year. This is for a baby book, which has already been purchased, and which remains unfilled. We hope to complete it before he leaves for college. Plus, I already crocheted his Halloween costume, so I’ve cashed all my chips for the year in that department.
I searched the internet for “first birthday ideas” and Pinterest is at the top of the results, rife with examples of bubblegum-sweet party crafts and posed picture ideas. Each pinned image is beautiful and stirring, and perhaps would be good fodder for a slide show that I can have running on loop in the background during my son’s birthday.
We may create a handwritten sign that reads “One!” to be used for a picture, but it will most likely be taped to his back like a “kick me” sign as he toddles away. Taking month-by-month pictures with a sign showing his age had to be abandoned as soon as he started to walk. When handed a sign, he looks at me as if to say, “Do I eat this or rip it up? Neither? Okay, I’ll do both.”
I found an image on Pinterest for a sports-themed birthday party, complete with fake grass on trays of baseball and basketball cake pops, goodie bags that look like popcorn bags from the ballpark and little pennants with varsity font wishing junior a happy birthday.
Here’s a theme for us: trying to wear socks. Maybe if we create a theme around an activity involving an apparel item that is ignored or removed 90% of the time we can improve the usage rate, right?
Forget sports, pirates, or rainforest friends, let’s go with celebrating trying to keep socks on my son’s feet. That’s something he needs more of every day.
We shipped out birth announcements four months after our son was born. I’m already starting to think ahead to the holidays. If we throw another mailing – electronic or otherwise – into the mix, our friends and family will be lucky to receive a Christmas card from us by Valentine’s Day.
Here is what you will see on my son’s first birthday: a cake, a candle, a camera, a kid, and two loving parents. We are thrilled to celebrate this milestone together. It is the first of many, and we want to make sure we enjoy it along with all the other little celebrations that make most days a reason for a party. We don’t want to knock his socks off just yet.
The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best family and parenting bloggers out there. Our contributing and guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor, and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. Lane Brown blogs at Mudlatte.com.
A few weeks ago, I noticed that a student was surfing the web during my class. So I asked her to come to my office, where she told me – with admirable boldness – that my efforts to police such behavior were wrong-headed. She had grown up with digital technologies, she said, and she had taught herself to “multitask” efficiently. Who was I to presume otherwise?
“Google ‘Clifford Nass,’ ” I replied. “Just not in class.”
Nass, who died last week, was the great slayer of the modern multitasking dragon. A professor of communications at Stanford University, Nass showed that people who did several things at once did all of them worse that those who focused on one thing at a time.
And the more we multitask, he found, the worse we get at multitasking itself. In most human endeavors, practicing an activity makes you better at it. Not so with multitasking: Veteran multitaskers are actually less efficient than people who just started doing it.
Nobody is really sure why. But it seems that multitasking places “switching costs” on the brain: Every time you change activities, you lose time while adjusting to the new task. And doing that over and over again exacts an even greater mental toll.
But here’s the sad irony: We think we’re doing everything really well, even when we’re not. My student honestly believed that she could learn as much in my class while web-surfing as she could without it. It just turns out that she’s wrong.
Ditto for homework, that great bane of American student life: the more digital interruptions that you allow yourself, the worse you do. Indeed, you’re often not studying at all. In a recent experiment observing people doing homework, psychologists found that students only devoted two-thirds of their “homework time” to homework; the rest was spent on Facebook and other distractions.
Predictably, multitaskers take longer to complete their homework and make more mistakes doing it. They also remember less of it later on. And, lo and behold, students who Facebook while doing schoolwork have lower grade-point averages than those who don’t.
So do students who text and Facebook during class, as researchers at Harvard recently showed. But most of them keep doing it, anyway. Eighty percent of college students admit that they text in class. And in a recent study of law school students, 58 percent of second- and third-year students who brought laptops to class used them for “non-class purposes” for over half the time.
That has led some of my colleagues to ban laptops from class. But that doesn’t seem quite right, either. Like it or not, our young people are going to have to learn how to use these new devices in ways that promote – not inhibit – their learning. And forcing them to go cold turkey won’t do that.
What would? First, we need to share the latest scientific information with them. Just as many colleges now require incoming students to take online courses about responsible drinking and safe sex, so should they insure that the students learn about the dangers of multitasking. We can’t expect our young people to adjust their behavior if they don’t know that there’s anything wrong with it.
From the earliest ages, meanwhile, we also have to teach children strategies for separating – not blending – different activities. Instead of texting and studying at the same time, for example, reward yourself with a “texting break” when the studying is done. You’ll finish your work in less time, and you’ll get more out of it as well.
Finally, we should warn students that multitasking could inhibit their human interactions as well as their academic success. At the time of his untimely death, Clifford Nass was exploring how digital technologies – which have always promised “connectivity” – actually make it harder for us to develop meaningful attachments to others.
Just like our schoolwork, our relationships need focus in order to flourish and thrive. If you’re Facebooking while talking to a friend or a lover, you’re not going to develop as intimate a bond as you would if you gave your full attention to him or her.
None of this is new, really. For thousands of years, Buddhists have taught meditation as way to protect the mind from over-stimulation. And a century ago, pioneering American psychologist William James noticed that children responded to almost all distraction; the challenge of adulthood was to resist it. “The faculty of voluntarily bringing back a wandering attention, over and over again, is the very root of judgment, character, and will,” James wrote.
He was right. But digital technologies are new, historically, and they have made it harder than ever to control our distracted minds. It’s time for the adults in the room to step up, and to start focusing on what matters: focus itself. Otherwise we’ll all be like a little kid, drawn to “every object which happens to catch ... notice,” as William James observed. Clifford Nass had another name for them: multitaskers.
The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best family and parenting bloggers out there. Our contributing and guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor, and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs.
As certain high school seniors work meticulously this month to finish their early applications to colleges, some may not realize that comments they casually make online could negatively affect their prospects. In fact, new research from Kaplan Test Prep, the service owned by the Washington Post Company, suggests that online scrutiny of college hopefuls is growing.
Very quickly, we've dipped into a pile of pressure-cooker topics: the pressure to succeed, educationally; the complicated series of hoops students have to leap through to attain admission to college; and the sometimes devastatingly fast and permanent ability of social media to change perceptions of a hasty and/or emotional user.
Like many New York Times trend pieces, it no sooner rolls out its thesis than it begins qualifying it due to lack of scientifically gathered evidence and college admissions officers who say, in a nutshell, "who has time to Google?" But the story does get to the core of one of our era's leading truths: the person you are online has a real impact on the life you lead everywhere else.
(See also: the National Security Council staffer canned for caustic anonymous tweets, the students who used Facebook to share confidential information about an upcoming test, and of course a whole pack of legislative aides and other public personalities who should have been deleting instead of tweeting.)
To take this into a context broader than mere online communication etiquette, the story points out one of the essential conflicts for all young people for all eras, ever: the brutal struggle between finding and being "yourself" (unpacking that term could take a lifetime's work) and fitting in and eventually earning a steady living.
All of this evokes the line of advice I have already cued up for my own son, likely to be delivered 12-14 years from now:
"Remember, son: anything you write or post anywhere is extremely likely to be read or seen by whomever you'd least like to see it... plus both your grandmas."
At last, women can find a Zen moment of truth in advertising as Lululemon’s sheer yoga pants return to shelves, bearing aptly phrased tags that read, “This is what celebrating failure looks like!"
When it comes to taking a good long look at failure, Lululemon Athletica and its founder Chip Wilson have given us an eye full, beginning with the unintentionally see-through pants and ending with Mr. Wilson’s choice to blame women’s thighs for some less than fabulous fabric choices made by the company.
First the $98 pants were recalled in March for being too sheer and then in July a reinforced version, dubbed “Full-On Luon,” replaced them only to be criticized by women for “pilling with wear,” according to Business Insider.
Wilson let fly the following comments during an interview on Bloomberg TV: "Quite frankly some women's bodies just don't actually work for it. They don't work for some women's bodies...it's really about the rubbing through the thighs, how much pressure is there over a period of time, how much they use it."
Now a new incarnation of the pants are on shelves for $92, re-branded as “Second Chance” pants. A tag on the bottom reads: "These pants were inspired by a need to find functional and beautiful design solutions for our sheer pants. This is what celebrating failure looks like!"
However, after failing to take ownership of poor quality control not once but twice and insulting women’s bodies, it would seem that in calling them “Second Chance pants” Lululemon missed out on some basic math and parenting rules.
The rules: 1. A second chance comes after one error, not several. 2. You don’t turn Namaste into nasty unless you want a serious time out. 3. Never blame mommy’s thighs for anything, ever.
I am one of the many parents who does yoga with her children and, even if I could afford a pair of $98 pants, they wouldn’t come from a company that behaves as Lululemon has.
A while back it would have seemed impossible for any CEO to top the sheer arrogance and prejudice exhibited by Abercrombie and Fitch for its stance against big clothing sizes and yet Wilson has managed to attain Nirvana non grata by the seat of his pants.
While Lululemon didn’t get the pants or the apology right, in the end they produced an excellent example for our kids on just how bad things can get when you refuse to own up to mistakes and choose to blame and insult others instead.
Maybe Wilson never really learned about the five principles of yoga: relaxation, exercise, breathing, diet, and meditation.
Perhaps Wilson needs to relax his grip on his ego, exercise better judgment, breathe the scent of humility, go on a strict diet of high quality standards, and meditate on what he says for a long while before he says it on television.
Brace yourself for a couple of big numbers: $21,000 or $105,000. The former is the average cost of having a baby; the latter, the cost of having twins. (Or, if you'd prefer to look at it a different way, the former is the cost of a decent new car, and the latter is the cost of a small house in a loose real estate market.)
The boom in assisted reproductive technologies (like in vitro fertilization) makes the twins price tag increasingly relevant. As a CBS news story notes,
... With single births, 60 percent of medical expenses are tied to mom's care whereas with twins or multiple births, 70 percent to 85 percent of costs are for infant care respectively.
These numbers come from a study published Nov. 11 in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, and while they shouldn't be shocking to anyone who has followed the bloat of American healthcare, they're a particularly poignant reminder of how much the modern system costs society in general, and parents in particular.
Separate from (but certainly related to) baby birthing cost is the amount of money parents actually end up paying out of pocket once the "cost" side is figured out. The New York Times published a heartbreaking story on the seemingly random, occasionally crushing price of having a baby, wherein the potential swing in expense is, for lack of a more accurate word, ludicrous:
When she became pregnant, [Renée] Martin called her local hospital inquiring about the price of maternity care; the finance office at first said it did not know, and then gave her a range of $4,000 to $45,000. “It was unreal,” Ms. Martin said. “I was like, How could you not know this? You’re a hospital.”
Here in Minneapolis, my wife and I had a perfectly normal, healthy, happy pregnancy and by-the-book birth followed by a cascading series of complicated bills that mounted up into the high four figures. Other friends have paid similar amounts, or half, or around $1,000. Insurance is part of the story, but the whole story is opaque, hidden behind deductibles and consulting groups and "we-didn't-know-that-was-optional" services that render the whole process about as understandable as a wooden tablet written in Rongorongo.
And of course the "birth" thing is just a drop in a much, much wider and deeper bucket. If you can stomach the read, the Monitor wrote about how the average cost of $241,000 to raise a child "sounds low." Maybe it's about time that parents, for their own sanity, started putting a monetary value on milestones like a first step or a first good report card. If an "I love you, Daddy" is worth $15,000, it helps defray the expenses. A bit.
The announcement that the new batsuit in the “Batman vs. Superman” movie is “awesome” probably means more to adult comic book fans than kids who are much more invested in what cool new phrases their brooding hero will utter.
While fans of the classic “THWACK!” and “KAPOWIE!” days when Adam West played Batman on TV in a shiny cowl, tights and a chunky, yellow utility belt can rejoice at reports that Ben Affleck’s attire may hearken back to West and the actual Batman vs. Superman comic, kids walk around being Batman all day long in their jeans and Batman T-shirt.
Kids don’t need a new batsuit when they have their imaginations and can base their playtime more on the most memorable lines spoken and scenes enacted in films. All they need from the new Batman is good writing and a sense of ironic humor.
Sadly, comic book characters like the new Batman are transitioning from page to screen and are being clad to suit cosplay, role play fantasy by adults (short for "costume play") rather than kids. Remember when comic books were for kids?
Batman is a prime example of kid play turned cosplay, having transitioned over the years from the emotionally scarred son of billionaire parents, orphaned by a street thug during a robbery, turned to crimefighting wearing a utility belt with a “Batarang” (boomerang shaped like a bat) to a heavily armored, weaponized franchise.
According to Business Insider, “Comic book lord and filmmaker Kevin Smith spilled during his latest Hollywood Babble-On podcast that he has seen a picture of Affleck in the new costume straight from director Zack Snyder and its awesome.”
Two of my four sons, Ian, 18, and Quin, 9, stood before the computer this morning reading about the new, highly praised, batsuit and shared the same sentiment, “Meh.”
“It’s on Ben Affleck, so it really doesn’t matter,” said Ian. “Was Christian Bale not available?”
“Can he do the voice? The deep voice,” Quin asked, trying his best to sound like Bale, “I’m Batmaaaan.”
When it comes to super heroes and my boys, you can cast anyone as Superman, but you have to be careful with the bat.
I think that’s because Superman is from another planet. He’s pretty, perfect, and he has actual super powers like heat vision, flight, super strength, and so they can’t imagine being him.
Batman is human so they can relate to that, but above all he has great lines that they can deliver in daily life.
According to my boys Adam West was “awesome” because he had “the voice” and the fighting was funny.
Michael Keaton was “too goofy.” Val Kilmer was too pretty. Quin says, “He looked like Batwoman.” Ouch! George Clooney was in Batman and Robin, which the boys dismiss as having no memorable lines.
Christian Bale is “the real” Batman and everybody who comes after the Dark Knight had better have the haunted eyes and voice to carry off the role.
Note that nowhere in there was costume a factor.
The armored bat battle suits, weapons, and cars are all there for two reasons – toy sales and cosplay fans.
In reality, when it comes to super heroes, what it really takes to make a kid into a fan is justice, coolly delivered with a side dish of humor.
In the Avengers, it was The Hulk saying to Loki, “Puny god” after he slams the troublesome, allegedly all-powerful, Asgaardian villain into the ground.
In Batman, it’s the moment when criminal kingpin Carmine Falcone, who had earlier lectured on how insignificant and doomed the good guys are, is cornered in his car and frantically demands to know what the heck he, Batman, is.
Batman breaks open the limo's sunroof, pulls Falcone out, and Christian Bale growls the now classic line that kids everywhere now say in a moment of supreme self-confidence, “I'm Batman!”
When making the new batman I hope the filmmakers remember the best superhero line of all, from Spiderman, “With great power come great responsibility.”
The responsibility isn’t about the wardrobe, merchandising, or the toy sales, but fighting for truth, justice, and all the while empowering kids’ imaginations.
An unusual name can be a curse, but it can also be a blessing - hit a professional highpoint while sporting a memorable, unusual name, and you may attain the sort of immortality enjoyed by psychiatrist and Freudian psychoanalyst Hermann Rorschach.
Mr. Rorschach – probably best known in current culture as "that inkblot guy" – is the subject of today's Google Doodle, recognized for his contribution to the art of personality analysis. Rorschach's method, which has echoed down from his era (the early 20th Century) to our own, is simple enough in theory: show a subject a series of inkblots and see what, if anything, they project onto the images when prompted. In practice, the test is notoriously difficult to "score" – while there are guidelines for how to evaluate answers given for the various pictures, it takes skilled, well-trained interpreters to tease any kind of diagnostic value out of the experience.
Depending upon who you ask, Rorschach tests are either a clever (if somewhat subjective) tool for analysis and detection of underlying thought disorders, or generally a pseudoscientific waste of time akin to cold reading. The test is reasonably easy to administrate, and the fact that it revolves around 10 standard inkblots helps guide those who must interpret the test but can also give crafty subjects a chance to study the blots and the criteria and "cheat" the exam.)
It is, in fact, entirely likely that Rorschach himself would be skeptical of his test as it is often used and interpreted – he didn't intend his test to be a general gauge of personality – he was skeptical of such tests, and developed his inkblot test to diagnose schizophrenia specifically.
The Rorschach doodle puts the pioneering psychoanalyst in good standing among other intellectual honorees from the 20th Century – other Doodles have honored Friedrich Nietzsche, Albert Camus, and Erwin Schrödinger.