Sunday, May 26, 2013

Takoma Park Makes History

[City Seal, Takoma Park, Maryland]
My new favorite city.
Takoma Park, Maryland, a small city just outside of Washington, D.C., has officially become to first city to lower their voting age to sixteen. Way to make history, Maryland! Hopefully it will be the first of many. Massachusetts is already looking to follow their lead.
Click here for the Washington Post article and here for the NYRA story.

Friday, May 24, 2013

These Days

I just hate the phrase "these days", but I love watching people who think they know how to use it. Awhile back a friend and I discussed the Les Miserables movie. You know, the new one with Anne Hathaway as the prostitute Fantine. It's a gritty film. Neither of us were fond of the 'Lovely Ladies' scenes. My friend sighed and said, "Movies these days."
That movie is an adaptation. Of a book. Published in 1862.
Want to complain about how chivalry is dead these days?
Chivalry is for knights. Knights were younger sons of rich lords whose daddies didn't leave them any money. Knights are homeless warriors on horseback. Knights gallop around the countryside, usually armed and in a gang, until the king tells them to go kill each other.
Chivalry is an anti-rape code. We have those too.
Want to complain about gangs these days?

Next time I hear someone talk about hoodlum teenage boys, I'm going to say, "You know what I hate? Knights. Oh, and squires and pages. Training seven year olds with swords? Is that really a good idea? What if they kill each other instead of slaying dragons? I hope the Black Plague smites them."
Moral of the story: Boys, if you don't open the door for your date, thou shalt be smitten by ye olde plague.
Want to complain about a teen pregnancy boom these days?
Yeah, we had one of those when the ancien regime came to an end. And it's all the fault of those newfangled factories. Thanks to the Industrial Revolution, teenagers moved away from their little villages to work in cities. Met a lot of new people. What they did in their free time was their own business. Orphanages overflowed.
Want to complain about drug use these days?
The sixties. No explanation needed.
Want to complain about computer use these days?

This is Bill. When he was in eighth grade (late sixties) he and his friends got in trouble for cutting class to play games in the computer room. Specifically tic-tac-toe. They wrote the programming. His social life was kind of pathetic. At least he was smart enough to put himself in classes with mostly girls when he wrote the school's scheduling program.
A middle-aged caucasian man wearing business attire and glasses
He's now a married man. With three kids. And a house. And a job. And several billion dollars. But that's irrelevant.
If you've read many of my other posts, you know one of my core ideas is that nothing important changes from generation to generation. There are no new problems, but sometimes we find new ways to complain about them.
Pffft. Bloggers these days.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

New Dangers

We live in dark times, people. I feel that I, Eliza Bloggersnark, have a noble duty to correct this. I'm a teenager myself. I've been writing with a quill pen for the past two years. Letters to long lost friends. Hogwarts acceptance letters. Mother's Day cards.
Don't let your children fall into this trap. Do you want your daughter forging Professor McGonagall's signature? Do you want her sending mail to poor girls without Internet access?
Parents, rise up! Teachers, defend! Students, do nothing! Your very education is at stake.

New dangers. There are none. We only find new ways to complain about them.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Feel Free to Die-If You're Eighteen

On Tuesday, Utah passed a law prohibiting teenagers from using a phone while driving. Not texting. That's already illegal for everyone. Calling is now banned and it's just for youth.
I did another post recently on the dangers of driving. Cars are monstrous hunks of metal that hurtle down the asphalt and sixty miles an hour, fighting for space with other monstrous hunks of metal. They can kill you. It doesn't matter how old you are, how experienced you are, what numbers are printed on your license. Distractions are fatal.
The law does allow for emergencies-like telling the police a monstrous hunk of metal has collided with your face, for instance. But if you need directions while driving you're on your own.
My parents talk while driving all the time. It's just not practical to pull over sometimes. You need to get somewhere and you need to get there now. Otherwise you'd have time to circle around the block and get lost. No phone necessary.
I'm on the verge of getting my license. Forget phones. I can't even watch the street signs. My radio's never on. Maybe I'll turn it up some time over the summer months. For now, my primary concern is getting there alive.
Of course there are safety issues. There's always a safety issue. But the lawmakers had to be somewhat lenient.  Legislators complained it interferes with personal liberty. Odd to see adults support us for once. They left adults their liberty and gave teenagers yet another driving restriction.
Once again, it's blamed on maturity and reasoning capabilities. No. We have very limited experience. Put a twenty nine year old man behind the wheel for the first time and you'll get similar results. But he can give friends a lift whenever they need it. He can drink at a party so long as he stays below the legal limit.
And while he's driving to that drinking party, he can call for directions.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Our Ads

A Spanish abuse awareness organization created this brilliant advertisement. When anyone over four feet tall looks at it. they'll see the message, "Sometimes child abuse is only visible to the child suffering it." The children themselves get a different message. " If somebody hurts you, phone us and we'll help you."
My favorite part isn't the simple but effective design, the raw true words, or even the empowering message. It's that one word-you.
How often do you see an add aimed at youth?
Is your Child happy in School?
Does your child struggle with acne?
Is your child falling behind in school?
We know more about school and acne than our parents. The only ads that say 'you' instead of 'your child' are for products no adults would ever want to buy. Website commercials say "Ask your parents before going online." Not, "Talk to your child about going online."
The abuse ad does have an obvious flaw. Millions of abused children are taller than four feet (122 cm). But you can't deny the heartwarming message sends. Finally, someone wants to strengthen youth.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Seniors: Fun and Games. Everyone Else: Die.

My school has this little program called arena scheduling. The name says it all. Scheduling means "the process of selecting classes you will take the following school year". Arena means "fight to the death, children, and don't come crying to the adults when you fail. We designed this so the older kids will win."
Here's how it works. At about 2:32 P.M., you log in so you can stare at the screen and practice clicking. This isn't the time to plan out your classes. No, we're supposed to have a goal and a backup plan a week in advance. At 3:00 P.M., the program opens. At 3:01, all the classes you want are gone.
Electives vanish in the first few seconds. The best teachers go next. Most people have a parent working on a separate computer, but that's still not a guarantee you'll get the class you need.
Since our school has roughly 2,000 student to worry about, they divide it up by grade. The juniors go first. They'll be seniors next year. That means they're taking English, half a year of social studies, and the rest is all electives. They get to pick their schedules two days in advance.
I'm a sophomore. I took creative writing 1 this year, and at the urging of my teacher, decided to take creative writing 2. Every last seat was occupied before it opened.
High school lasts four years. You need 3.0 math credits, 3.0 science credits, and 3.5 social studies credits. But remember, English is important. It's the only four year core class.
My friend Hannah is an honors student. She went to a charter school that taught 10th grade honors English to freshman. They had the same program for accelerated learners at my school. That means my friends are  taking 11H as sophomores. So 12H next year, right?
Nope. Doesn't work like that. The curriculum only takes you up to junior year. After that you're on your own. They have AP classes since you'll be in college next year, but some brains are just too delicate for that. They can take Shakespeare, science fiction/fantasy, newspaper, or creative writing 1 and 2.
That explains a lot.
I write for the newspaper, but I couldn't get English credit for it. I'm not a senior. They'll only count it as an elective. I'd gladly do the same with sci fi/fantasy, but I'm banned from enrolling. I'm not a senior.
My friend Lauren is a Shakespeare fanatic. Her drama teacher recommended taking a Shakespeare as an elective. She asked her counselor about it and was told she couldn't. Not a senior. She enrolled anyways (there was still a seat open) and she's waiting to see if they'll kick her out.
It's not just classes. Only seniors are allowed to be club officers. I've heard of schools that block other grades from eating in outdoor courtyards and parking in the best spots.
They say senior year is glory year, but that's no reason to give seniors special privileges. They've done nothing to earn it but survive three years of public education and pass classes. They're given ample opportunity to take easier classes while younger students who want to challenge themselves are banned. We see enough ageism in the world without allowing it to flourish in high schools.
Look away, sophomores! This is too complicated for your underdeveloped brain!

Rant over.