August 24th, 2006

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I am no longer seducing the innocent

Some of you may have heard that social network sites (like the very one you are reading now) are vertiable "shopping malls for sexual predators" who feast upon the young innocents who, in all innocense, put their personal information up on the web for all to see. According to some (who, coincidentally, are running for re-election this year) a veritable crime wave of seductions, abductions, reductions, inductions and deductions is taking place over on myspace.com, facebook.com, and yes, even for the five people who still use Friendster. My Friends, even this very LiveJournal Post you are reading today is part of the terrible seduction of the innocent. We must do something at once! At once, I tell you! For if even one child suffers the terrible and unatural fate that may befall her from using these "social networking sites," then we have failed our duty to protect the innocent children of the world! And besides, it's cheaper then giving them health coverage or decent schools . . .

Well, turns out, maybe not so much. According to the most recent report by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (co-authored with, among others, the US Dept of Justice Office of Juvenile Justice and Deliquency Prevention -- not exactly anti-values liberals or coin operated sock puppets for industry) available here, http://www.unh.edu/ccrc/pdf/CV138.pdf, incidents of sexual solicitation for minors have declined in the last five years, from 1 in 5 minors receiving such solicitations to 1 in 7. In addition, and of note for those trying to address the problem, the number of solicitations originating from or referred from off-line friends and acquaintances increased substantially, while the willingness of young internet users to form relationships with unknown parties online decreased significantly. The study did not indicate whether social network sites played any role in sexual solicitations, but it observed that only 3% of online harassments (as oppoosed to solicitations) occured as a conseqeunce of blog entries or comments (the majority occuring via IM or email and having their origins either offline or through IM or email contacts).

Those of us old enough to remember the Communications Decency Act (which, oddly enough, also passed in an election year) will sense a trend. But it would be foolish to trust that the "new and improved" Supreme Court will feel the same way about restrictions on social networking sites that it did about the CDA. Best to nip this before it passes.

So take advantage of your election year clout over your Senator and Representative. Call and tell them you oppose the "Deleting Online Predators Act of 2006" as a miserable piece of election year pandering that imposes massive burdens on a very useful medium while not even addressing a real problem. Warn tham that a vote for DOPA will cost them a vote in November, and that when I send you to Washington I expect you to actually look at some facts rather than listen to a lot of bullsh#@ from luddites and loonies who have been convinced that anything teenagers like is immoral and bad for them since Adam and Eve clucked their head sadly over Cain building a city and what's this world coming to?

For those of you who want to know how to find their Senator or Representative's phone number, look here http://www.parenthub.com/family/time/people/congress.htm.

For those nervous about trying it, take my word for it, Democracy is fun! Staff for your elected official HAVE to listen to what you say. They even need to smile and be polite while you ream out their boss for being a total moron! And you'd be amazed at how few angry calls it takes to get a Senator or Representative to go from "Certainly I support this bill!" To "Please don't make me vote for this and piss off my constituents!"

So have fun and feel good about bringing democracy back to America. Go on and exercise your First Amendment right to petition Congress for the redress of grievances. Enjoy the feeling of moral superiority that comes from doing what's right and sticking it to [group you want to stick it to]. Take it from me, once you've been a citizen rather than a couch potato, you'll never go back!
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Cause and Effect?

Back in May, there was a study done purporting to show that parents take better care of attractive children then ugly ones. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7721095/ Researchers watched parents with children 2-5 years old in supermarkets and observed that children rated "ugly" were more often allowed by their parents to engage in risky behavior through neglect or inattention of the parent than the more "beautiful" ones.

At the time, there was much clucking of tongues at how shallow we are and how humans appear to be hard wired to be shallow (ah, there's genetics and evolution again).

But it struck me that we have a lot of children in our synogogue and, as I watched them running and playing, a thought struck me.

None of these kids is ugly.

I don't mean in some metaphorical "ain't humans wonderful and our spirits are beuatiful blah blah inner beauty blah blah" way. I mean that watching them all run around, cleaned up, dressed in their synogogue clothes, the pack of about 15 or so of them looked adorable. Obviously, Aaron was the handsomest and most adorable. But adjusting for that, they all looked real good.

But that seemed to me kind of odd. How did it end up that we have no ugly children in our synogogue? Did someone put "adorableness magic" in the grape juice?

Then I did a mental experiment, using Julian rather than Aaron to avoid as much prejudice as possible. Anyone who has seen Julian will tell you he is an adorable, handsome, happy bouncy toddler who -- when not wreaking unholy havoc -- is a pleasure to be around.

Now lets pretend Julian was raised by less attentive parents (like, say, his natural birthmonster) rather than Estherchaya and SethCohen. Hmm, add dirt to the face, mess the hair, probably some scratches, clothes a mess, add some snot, take away the happy attitude and sweatness. Color his energy a bit more destructive or whinny. MAN,THAT'S AN UGLY KID.
(Shake head to clear image).

So how do we have so many adorable kids in our synogogue? And is that why their parents are all loving and attentive? Or, just maybe, did the researchers reverse the cause and effect.