Saturday, March 1, 2008

Spanking can be harmful?

MSN has a groundbreaking story that spanking is correlated with problems later in life.

I am totally kidding, of course, because obviously beating your child isn't a healthy way to interact with them.

The story claims a link to sexually deviant behavoir, and other risky sexual behavoir. This part is actually kind of funny, that kids that are spanked are more likely to have spanking in their sex. As if that's so deviant. I thought they were going to say like child porn or something was the deviant behavior. I personally think that the risky sexual behavior (they called out "premarital sex without a condom") would be more from the fact that the parent that spanks a lot doesn't have the communication skills to have a real conversation about safe sex with their children.

Then the story reveals that spanked children are more likely to be abusive and violent later in life. Gee, no kidding. Are they actually saying that children model what they're shown at home? Amazing. Chalk up another tally mark for the nurture theory. But it could also be nature, since the parents are violent in the first place, there could be violent tendencies in the genese. Guess that nature vs. nurture is still up in the air.

I couldn't imagine spanking my kids. I get pretty pissed off at them sometimes, but what possible good could spanking do? I guess it might give me an outlet for frustration, but I don't see how anyone could feel that hitting your kids will help them become better people. Especially a two year old. I have a two year old. It is just insane to think that I would hit him and expect him to learn not to do the thing that I was trying to correct. And besides, he already throws enough hard toys at me without me showing him that hitting is a good way to solve a problem.

Adults with children have a responsibility to act like adults. Hitting is perhaps the most baby-like way to try to resolve a conflict. People love to blame TV and video games for violence, and while they may reinforce the acceptance and normalization of violence, it has to start at home. If a person is raised in a nonviolent setting, then violence on TV and in video games will clearly be part of a world that's not real, and less likely to become part of a person's real life.

Don't hit your kids.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Excessive Packaging

Maybe the toy companies are in kahoots. My son got a bunch of toys for his birthday the other day, and there is perhaps more packaging material than actual toy in there. Some of the packaging material is even moulded (is that the British spellling?) to look like something real, such that I still have it because I somehow feel bad getting rid of it.

Now, looking at it objectively from the outside, I would think that as a toy company owner, I would want as little packaging as possible. Not just because it saves room in landfills, but for many selfish and pragmatic reasons.

1) You can fit more smaller packages in the same volume of shipping container (e.g. truck).
2) You can fit more smaller packages in the same amount of shelf space
3) Less packaging materials means less cost of goods sold
4) Less packaging materials could mean one fewer stations on the assembly line
5) You could promote your packaging reduction campaign as a green move for your company

I mean, in case you don't have kids that get highly-packaged toys, here's an example. There are many toys that are tied down in the box. But some toys are tied down in literally ten places. And this is not a big toy, like a 6" action figure or doll type of thing. The cardboard box is folded into an elaborate shape which depicts a scene native to the toy. This box is taped about 50 times (exaggerating, but literally five or more places). Then the toy is tied to the box by what are essentially insulated wire - a metal core with a rubber casing. This tie is wrapped around a limb of the toy, and then behind the box, it is tied to itself, and often taped over the tie in the back. Some toys have about two or three ties, but as I said, some have like ten of them. Some toys even have a screw holding it into the packaging. It always just makes me think, "they must really be afraid someone's going to steal this from the box."

So to all in the toy industry: reduce the packaging, please!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Global Economy is Here to Stay!

I hear a lot about people from various parts of the red states compaining about how all the manufacturing jobs are leaving this country, and everyone wants to bring them back.

Guess what, folks... the US is no longer a manufacturing superpower. Get used to it. With all the insurance and high wage requirements and all, we just aren't competitive. The only way we will be is if we put tariffs on imports from the mean giants (I'm looking at you, China) to offset the lower cost of biz over there.

On the other hand, maybe if our domestic international companies who had all the stuff (such as toys) made in China were accountable for quality issues (now I'm looking at you Mattel) we would move the manufacturing back here.

Sometimes I can't tell if I'm lefty or righty. (But then I remember I'm not a fundamentalist Christian, so I must be lefty)

Veterans' Benefits

I heard a story the other day on NPR about something where they said there was like a new bill or something proposing veterans' benefits of a 150 foot radius "no protest" zone around veterans' funerals. This is so disturbing to me, my only comment is "WHO THE HELL PROTESTS A FUNERAL?!!!!??!"

I am all for protests, but to protest a funeral is beyond despicable. I try to avoid negativity, but damn, who would do that? Sure, protest a speech by the president at your local college, but a vet's funeral - do you have no heart or soul? Maybe you should be a GOP...

Sub Prime Mortgages for Sale!

[Times illustration: Rossie Newson]
So everyone knows about the subprime mortgage meltdown (as it's been called). I heard a show on NPR the other day, and a man called in from NACA, sort of just to plug his own organization. But he had a great idea. He said that they give prime loans to subprime applicants, and then they become prime applicants.
In other words, you have these subprime applicants. They have poor credit, and maybe not the highest incomes. Most lenders will charge them a premium to get at their money, in the form of subprime loans, given at higher interest rates, with tricks to make the true cost of the loan seem not that bad. These tricks include interest-only payments.
Whereas when you have a prime applicant with good credit and they get a normal loan at a favorable rate that doesn't require interest-only payments to seem reasonable. So the underqualified person is set up to fail by being lent money on really bad terms, while the qualified person gets their money cheaper. Makes sense from a risk perspective on behalf of the lenders, but not so much from a consumer perspective.
So this NACA believes that subprime borrowers still deserve prime loans. In fact, this guy on the radio (he was the CEO or something) said that they feel it is the only way to do it. So NACA gives the underqualified people good loans that they will have a chance to be able to pay, because it is reasonably priced money. That way, they are set up to succeed. They aren't given a free ride, but if they budgeted appropriately when they determined how much house they could afford, they should be all set.
In fact, now with these big mortgage companies losing all their assets to foreclosure, NACA even works with the big lenders and the in-over-their-heads borrowers to come up with something that the borrowers can work with. This basically means the borrowers decide how much they can afford each month, and the bank gives them an interest rate (and maybe longer term?) that makes it work for them. The lender is able to continue getting paid each month on the mortgage, and the borrower keeps their home. Sounds like a win-win doesn't it?
The biggest obstacle to a full roll out of this is the fact that most lenders don't hold their loans. They are infamously packaged into a variety of investment vehicles, which sort of removes any incentives to work with borrowers. We'll just have to see how it all pans out.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Universal Preschool - No Thanks!

So I am mostly a liberal person, generally voting party line (i.e. all Democrats) but now I am hearing things I don't like from the Dems. Hillary (and probably all of them) are talking about universal preschool. Ugh! See my other unschooling blog for more info, but more school is not the answer. Only for those kids whose parents' vocabulary barely tops their own, would this be a good idea. For most of us, who are somewhat educated, universal compulsory preschool is BAD NEWS. I guess it is better than day care, somehow, but really in my mind they are the same. Since learning is always happening, whether there is a "teacher" participating or not. But this is all part of the work of Mr. Unschool, so I will leave it at that.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Protesting Lawyers?

So you probably already know that the government in Pakistan is in turmoil. The main leader, President Musharraf, who is also the head General, was re-elected a few weeks ago. It is apparently against the Pakistani Constitution for the President to also be the head General. So Musharraf promises to step down as General, but hasn't done it yet. Then the Pakistani Supreme Court was to vote on whether or not Musharraf's re-election was legal, and reportedly, were going to rule it wasn't on Sunday. But on Saturday, Musharraf declared a "state of emergency" and fired half the Supreme Court Justices. Immediately, international and domestic outrage began. Protestors took to the street and thousands have been arrested. TV has all been turned off except for Government-run news channels, and internet and cell phone access has been on and off.

This is clearly a terrible situation for Pakistan, and it could have big global implications, since there are a lot of delicate political situations involving Pakistan. For example, nukes vs. India. Or Afghanistan issues.

But I managed to find something humerous about this when I first heard about it, and it still remains funny to me. That is the image of lawyers protesting. In America, I think of street protest as the realm of the hippie (or post-hippie these days). On the other hand, I picture a lawyer kind of like an anti-hippie - the most straight-laced person around. So to me it is just funny to think of a bunch of lawyers as protesting hippies, or even hippies as lawyers. I guess it just goes to show how all countries have their own unique cultures.