Question of Atheist Scruples – money money money

May 25, 2016

The question:

You and your spouse have trouble making ends meet. You have a nine-year-old daughter who is a natural model. Do you try to make money by promoting her as a model?

Probably not at the age of nine no matter how cute and poseable she is, unless her first gig can be pajama modeling for the Sears catalogue..

All I can think about here is Honey Boo Boo and the celebrity train wreck that has been her family’s life for several years. I’d heard that her mother set money aside for her future, but she still had to parade on TV to earn it.

If it was the Little Man that some talent scout caught sight of somehow and approached us about letting him become a brand icon.. I can’t deny the money aspect wouldn’t be alluring. But if he wound up the new face of some kids’ brand of athlete gear or sport drink, the money he made wouldn’t just be ours; LM’s Mom would be owed half of it. She’s not exactly swimming in a fortune right now either. We’d have to take her finances into account, too.

And also LM’s own thoughts about his future. At 9, he’d have more monetary sense, I’d hope, and understand that his name put to a product would help mom and dad financially. But it would still be his decision, ultimately. If he didn’t want to parade around in his underwear, or pretend to love a brand more than he actually did, we’d support his choices. Otherwise, how could he trust us with any other decisions he’d be called on to make in his life going forward?

Carrying on with the new tradition – TV shows or popular movies about modeling —

All that really comes to mind is Zoolander – During his (baffling) career as a male model, Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller) is lured into a brainwashing scheme where he’s supposed to kill a government leader. Fortunately, things don’t work out as planned.

In terms of fashion, I suppose Devil Wears Prada can get another mention and I’ll add the adorable Ugly Betty into the list. I think I caught the whole show on DVD. America Ferrara plays Betty who lacks all fashion and style knowledge, but winds up working as a personal assistant to the Editor-in-Chief of a high class fashion mag. Initially hired by his father in the hopes of curbing Daniel’s lust for ladies on the job, she turns out to be a good pick for the job itself. A little romance, a little mystery, a little klutziness and all in all, pretty okay.

So, audience, how would you answer?


Another priest, another porn charge

October 17, 2014

This time in Canada:

ICE forensic analysts are currently in the process of analyzing a number of computer and mobile devices that were seized.

“Dozens” of hand-drawn images, which under the Criminal Code are classified as child pornography, have been seized.

Investigators say the man gave the pictures to another person but at this point they don’t believe he distributed them over the internet.

“I have seen some of the images in this case and I can say that it’s not just children posed naked, but that it does depict sexual assaults of children,” said Lokken.

“Anytime anybody has certain influence or a position within the community, it puts them in a position where they could have contact with young persons, and that’s concerning to us,” added Lokken.

His name’s all the way at the bottom:

Richard John Docekal, 58, is charged with possession and distribution of child pornography.

I’ll have to watch for updates on this one.


Thanksgiving Satan Weekend part 3

October 12, 2014

It’s Satan weekend here. I’m Canadian and for Thanksgiving weekend I decided to give thanks to the fact that I live in a country where I can write about these things for kicks.

Third story, the Satanic Children Big Book of Activities — the handy PDF for anyone who wants it — was designed by the Satanic Temple supposedly to counter the habit of Orange County schools agreeing to let outsiders come in to distribute bibles. The Orlando Sentinel had an update on the story. Other sources were taking it as a “this is really happening!” story and some clarification was required.

District counsel Woody Rodriguez confirmed Thursday night that the group hasn’t approached the district with a formal request.

If that request were made, the district would first review the materials. Sublette said he didn’t know if they would be allowed or not. And when I first reported this story several weeks ago, the group said they didn’t have printed booklets on hand and had no local group to give them out.

At a board retreat Thursday night, Sublette strongly urged the board to put in place a policy that would ban the distribution of all religious materials by outside groups on school campuses, even if it would lead to a lawsuit.

That sounds like a good idea. If it can’t all be allowed, then none of it should be allowed. Seems plain and simple if you ask me.


Dear Saskatoon city and Transit: please make up and be friends again…

September 30, 2014

Or, if not friends, at least find a workable compromise and get the buses running again.

I’m glad we forked out for a better car this year. I can’t imagine trying to do all this running around from job to school to job to home to babysitter with the car we had before, which was on the verge of crapping out. At least we have a car. Others are not so lucky and it’s costly and frustrating to work around this.

The transit lockout has left Saskatoon’s Oskayak High School to hire its own bus service in order to get students to class.

During the first school week without buses, only one-third of the student population was able to make it to school.

“I heavily rely on the transit system because I have school, I go to work, and I have dance practices to go to and that’s not happening,” Grade 12 student Heaven Adams said.

“It makes it a lot harder. It’s a lot harder to find rides or I spend a huge amount of money on cabs and it’s just ridiculous.”

Adams, along with all of the school’s 315 students, uses city transit to get to classes.

Today’s adventure:

The Man drove me to work early so he could drive downtown to get the Little Man and take him to school. He and his mother have been stuck walking for an hour every morning but yesterday mom’s chronic back issues were acting up and she apparently had no way to get him there so he missed the whole day. (This is not the first time he’s missed, either, but that’s another issue — had she just asked on Sunday, we could have gone over there to get him Monday morning! I also kick myself for not thinking to suggest that. Poor kid’s gonna fall so far behind and it’s French immersion, too.)

So, the Man picked up the Little Man, drove him to school, then the Man drove back to my workplace so I could drive him to his workplace and drive back to mine. We didn’t have to pick up the Little Man in the afternoon, but I drove home so I could get a few things done and get supper started and then I’m back in the car to get the Man when his shift is done.

The city is into its second week without buses and the ways in which it is affecting people is growing.

Life without a bus ride has been very challenging for Grace Kuhn. She has been taking the bus for years. She uses transit for everything from getting to work, to appointments, to meeting with friends. She’s turned to Kijiji to help fill the transportation void but unfortunately that has fallen through as well.

“I literally sit down and cried,” Kuhn said.

She can’t afford to spend $600 a month on cab fare and she doesn’t want to spend all of her savings. What really frustrated her was the response she got after she wrote an email to her city councillor.

“Saying, sorry this has happened, but here’s a couple of links, you can (go online) to get yourself a ride. You’re kidding me?” Kuhn said.

Like I said, we’re very fortunate we can afford a car. A lot of people in this city rely on transit and even with a car, we use the bus quite a bit, too, on account of shift work schedules and kid trading between houses and other needs. We need a working bus system.

It’s great news that the city has agreed to pay for 10 new buses, but they’re not additional buses, they’re replacement buses for ancient machines that keep breaking down.

A shortage of mechanics that caused a backlog of bus maintenance was the biggest factor for cancelled routes prior to unionized transit workers being locked out by the city on Sept. 20.

Older buses were also partially to blame for cancelled routes after the Labour Day weekend.

Some of the buses currently in the fleet are over 20-years-old and have more than 1.5 million kilometres.

That’s like 2 trips to the moon and back. Small wonder they’re falling apart…

Unrelated, but interesting for other reasons (mostly because I somehow never heard about it), apparently at the start of September, a 9 year old took a brief joyride in a bus that was left running with the door unlocked. The kid promptly drove the bus out of the garage area and onto the street. Eventually he struck another bus parked not far away and another vehicle. Due to his age, the police are unable to lay any charges on him.

No injuries were reported and damage to the buses is estimated between $1,000 and $10,000.

“This is not a case where policies need to be reviewed or practises need to be reviewed, this is a case where, from what I’ve seen, policy and procedures were very clearly violated,” said Jorgenson.

The city is in the early stages of the investigation.


Archbishop caught with child porn videos

September 29, 2014

Over 100,000 of them.

A former Vatican archbishop accused of paedophilia stored tens of thousands of child porn videos and photos on a computer in his office at the Holy See diplomatic compound in the Dominican Republic, it has emerged.

Details of Jozef Wesolowski’s massive child porn stash have been revealed after the 66-year-old was arrested at the Vatican earlier this week.

He is the highest-ranking Vatican official ever to be investigated for sex abuse, and the first top papal representative to receive a defrocking sentence. He has been charged with sexually abusing minors and child porn possession and might face up to seven years in the Vatican’s tiny jail.

I wonder how many years it took him to get that many videos onto his work computer.

Some 160 videos showing teenage boys forced to perform sexual acts on themselves and on adults and more than 86,000 pornographic photos were meticulously archived in several category-based folders, the paper said.

Investigators said that at least another 45,000 pictures were deleted, while a second stash of material was found on a laptop Wesolowski used during his trips abroad.


Atheist Scruples: how old should a kid be before killing something?

September 17, 2014

When I was in junior high school or thereabouts, my eldest cousin was down visiting and his kids and I were playing upstairs at my Grandpa’s. The boy was 4 or so at the time and poking around in the closet. He found one of my uncle’s rifles that had been stashed up there and started swinging it around. His sister and I scrambled into a spare room and held the door shut while hollering at the top of our lungs for my cousin to get up there and rescue us from doom. The boy was adamant: “But there’s no bombs in it!” but there was no way to know for sure until my cousin and uncle could get the .22 away from him and check. I don’t know if he tried to pull the trigger. I don’t think my uncle was the type to leave loaded weapons around the house but being a farm, it may have seemed sensible to keep something close to hand. Only my uncle and grandfather lived on the land by that point and might have also forgotten the gun was up there.

Today’s question is somewhat timely — but only because rarely a day goes by between stories of a kid killing someone with a gun he or she didn’t know how to use and maybe shouldn’t have been touching in the first place.

Your father-in-law wishes to take your 12-year-old son hunting. Do you permit it?

Yes, because my father-in-law is a rational man who uses a bow and would make damned sure his grandson wasn’t stupid with it. He may not even be allowed to use it, but instead be forced to stay behind everyone that does until he’s taken a proper class in how to use one.

And the Man and I would also go – not so we can kill things, but because I haven’t used a bow and arrow since high school and I’ve been wanting to try it again in a target practice scenario. I recall it was pretty fun to aim carefully and let loose. Memory may fail me, I think I was pretty good at the time. All of the three times I tried it…

More recent story in mind here: the nine year old girl who shot her gun instructor with an Uzi. The children of the dead man released a video recently urging her to move on with her life and not let it cripple her future.

“You are only 9 years old,” Tyler, one of Vacca’s sons, says in the video. “We think about you. We are worried about you. We pray for you. And we wish you peace. Our dad would want the same thing.”

The 9-year-old girl dropped the gun after the fatal shot was fired, telling her mother that “the gun was too much for her,” according to a report released by the Mohave County Sheriff’s Department.

Time Magazine weighed in on this, taking the “kids should use guns” side.

Shooting a rifle accurately requires children to quiet their minds. Lining up the sights on a distant target takes deep concentration. Children must slow their breathing and tune into the beat of their hearts to be able to squeeze the trigger at precisely the right moment. Holding a rifle steady takes large-motor skills, and touching the trigger correctly takes small motor skills; doing both at once engages the whole brain. Marksmanship is an exercise in a high order of body-hand-eye-mind coordination. It is as far from mindless electronic diversion as can be imagined.

Points for improving concentration but you know what? They could also take up darts or bowling or golf and also improve concentration and marksmanship. It ain’t that easy to get a triple twenty, a perfect game or a hole in one.

Invite a child to learn how to shoot and the message is: I trust your ability to listen and learn. I trust your ability to concentrate. I welcome you into a dangerous adult activity because you are sensible and trustworthy. For young people accustomed to being constrained, belittled, ignored and told “no,” hearing an adult call them to their higher selves can be enormously empowering.

Let kids shoot tiny missiles traveling 2,500 feet per second but take away the lawn darts before anyone else gets killed. There seems to be something of a safety disconnect going on.

What’s the push for gun use at a young age really about? That’s the question I’d want to ask.

I don’t really think it’s about concentration and letting kids feel grown up. That’s what Solitaire and Han Solo are for. What games and imagination are for.

I don’t think kids that young should be allowed to use real guns. 12, like the age in the question, may be old enough but it’s going to also depend on the maturity level of the kid at that age. Some kids at 18 shouldn’t be handed a loaded weapon either.

The Daily Beast points to other news reports lately that illustrate how common it is for people to get shot on gun ranges – especially adults who are supposedly sensible and trustworthy and fully able to concentrate. And I quote…

Since the incident with the 9-year-old that attracted so much media attention, there have been at least five shootings at gun ranges—three accidental and two intentional—that resulted in three deaths and three injuries. In the last two weeks alone, a 65-year-old man accidentally shot and killed himself at a Massachusetts range; a 67-year-old man accidentally shot himself in the hand at a Maine range; Timothy Ramsuer Jr., 29, committed suicide with a gunshot to the head in front of witnesses at a Virginia range; two men were shot and injured at a Florida range during a failed attempt to unjam a 9-millimeter semiautomatic handgun; and a Georgia man fled to a gun range where he shot and killed himself after fatally stabbing his ex-wife.

There’s more in the article, and many links to these and other news stories along these lines.

Thoughts? Where do you sit on this issue?

(edited to add: People posting pictures of their kids with guns – what’s up with that?)


The reason I failed Elementary Education…

September 13, 2014

Well, not failed, exactly, but I did wind up in a meeting with an adviser near the end of my second year in university who suggested I apply for a different program or be put on probation my third year.

So I went back and looked at my Arts and Science courses from year one and literally said to myself, which class had the best grade? Sociology it is…

I enjoyed university quite a bit after that. I complained about the essays but I’m still glad I didn’t have to fight against my total lack of aptitude and passion. Kids deserve teachers that love the work and know how to make it exciting.

The Man and I were working with the Little Man a bit this morning. He’s already had some “homework” from his grade 1 teacher related to shoe-tying — he knows how, he’s just really slow and deliberate with it due to lack of practice. Parent/guardian fail there, to not have him better prepared. “I can’t!” He’d say and start crying. “No, you know how. You can and you will get better at this. That’s what the practice is for.” We kept telling him the same thing in various ways. He’ll be doing more of that before we sit down for lunch, and before we make cookies and before he plays any more games or watches a movie. And before his mother picks him up later today.

It was a similar but slightly more frustrating experience when he decided to write a to-do list with one thing on it: “PLAY NINTENDO DS”. He figured out “play” easily enough but he does way too much guessing rather than thinking things through. His guesses get really wild like he doesn’t see the difference between what’s likely to be the next letter based on the sound of the word and what’s absolutely ridiculously wrong.

Also, his personality seems to lean toward quitting when things get hard and gets stubborn when we try to show him how to figure things out. It was a minor war just getting him to write the colour RED. He was guessing every vowel except the one he needed, even after I told him it’s the same one in the word TEN that he’d just written down moments earlier. I don’t know if this is lack of confidence or lack of care or if he’s running on mad hope that if he stalls long enough someone will do the work for him. A mix of all three, probably.

Bringing me back to the education side of things. I don’t know the tricks that make kids eager to learn. How much of that can be taught though and how much of if is inherent in the kid himself?

All he really seems to care about knowing right now is all the ins and outs of Skylanders so what I probably should do is get a book of Skylanders crap and he can practice writing all their names and start writing everything he knows about them – which is already far more than I could possibly give a damn about. But, play to his interests, that’s probably a big key to future success here.

All of a sudden I’m reminded of a girl I knew through 4-H back in the days when it was more about horses and cows than computer programming. We had a series of public speaking assignments for this particular English class one year at school and every one of her talks was about horses. She was mad for horses. The teacher got tired of hearing about horses for some reason, however, and asked her to plan her next talk – the major 10-15 minute show and tell – on another topic. So, she came dressed head to toe in jockey gear and talked about jockey gear.

Well played.


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