No Such Thing as a Free Lunch

Last week, we saw how corporations and the government were working to teach kids the valuable lesson that everyone wants to take your money at all times.

This week, the education of America’s youth continues in a more direct fashion, at an elementary school in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Uintah Elementary, like many area schools, has an electronic payment system for school lunches, so parents can load up their kid’s account from home and the account is credited when the child receives the lunch. The kids thus learn the valuable lesson of credit cards being free money.

And bullies have to learn new ways to get lunch money.

And bullies have to learn new ways to get nerds’ lunch money.

Continue reading

Man vs. Nature: The Path to Victory

Bullying, and how to stop it, has been a major topic lately. Now a school in New Zealand is making news for possibly having found the solution: eliminating safety.

Principal Bruce McLachlan of Swanson Primary School in Auckland signed up to be part of a study two years ago to see what happens when you give children more freedom at recess, but McLachlan went further and got rid of the rules altogether.

The boring, sterile playground equipment is gone, replaced by trees to climb and the “loose parts pit” full of random things like tires and a fire hose to play in. Now the kids are free to ride skateboards and scooters, explore the natural elements around them, and play something called “bullrush” which sounds like something that should be studied for concussion rates. The results showed the kids were more active, which is what was expected.

What was completely unexpected by the researchers were the number of behavioral changes shown. Continue reading

Respek Knuckles: Louisiana Public Schools

Sometimes it seems as though the world is made of outrage and bad decisions. It’s the perfect environment for good satire. The classic example is Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal, which was written when the wealthy were coming up with radical solutions to the problem of the poor (as well as England’s general attitude toward the Irish being generally hostile). A Modest Proposal outlined a solution of preparing the children of the poor as meals for the wealthy, thus reducing poverty and raising money through the extravagance of the meals. It mocked the bad decisions of the time and generated outrage, which could be turned from the satire to the real issues.

Now Louisiana’s Sabine Parish School Board has upgraded the level at which satire operates by turning it into a live performance art piece. Continue reading

The Intersection of Smug and Science

Chances are good that you or someone you know drives an electric or hybrid car. They are becoming increasingly popular–I was surprised after moving out to Denver how many parking structures have spaces reserved for electric cars with outlets for them to plug into.

Owners will give you plenty of good reasons for buying them: your gas mileage is tremendous, saving you both time and money when it comes to filling up; it’s better for the environment, as using less gas leads to less pollution; while the vehicles themselves are more expensive (both in the initial purchase and in the maintenance), it’s partially made up for with tax credits; and they don’t look nearly as stupid as they did when they first came out.

Let’s find out how they’re wrong, and how it can feel so good to know that. Continue reading

Who Heart Huckabee?

Liberals in this country have long derided the Republicans for waging a “War on Women” and former Arkansas governor and presidential hopeful, and current Fox News host, Mike Huckabee is tired of it. Speaking at the Republican National Committee winter meeting on Thursday, Huckabee threw the accusation right back at the Democrats.

“I think it’s time Republicans no longer accept listening to the Democrats talk about a ‘war on women.’ The fact is the Republicans don’t have a war on women, they have a war for women, to empower them to be something other than victims of their gender.”

I’m not sure when the Republicans accepted the Democrats talking about the alleged ‘war on women’ but okay, let’s roll with that.

“If the Democrats want to insult the women of America by making them believe that they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing them for them a prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of the government, then so be it. Let’s take that discussion all across America.”

All right, let’s follow this path all the way downstream and see what rabbit hole we emerge from. Continue reading

The Religion Wars

Major religions are constantly at odds with one another. Each of them say they are the only ones who are right, with serious metaphysical implications for those who are not part of their religion. When they look for new members, it’s more than a business pursuing new customers; it’s a fight for everyone’s very soul.

Christianity, in its various forms, has long been the most evangelical, searching for new converts in a fervent desire to grow their ranks and save people from Hell. But now it’s their ancestors, the Jews, who are making serious inroads when it comes to finding new members, and they’re doing it in what has long been a base of Christian conversion: prisons. Continue reading

Quick Update

Just wanted to let everyone know that I am succumbing to Mark Zuckerberg’s wily schemes and have created a Facebook page for Soft Core Sophistry. However, Facebook won’t let me say “Soft Core” in the URL (with spaces or without), so here is the link:

Just head on over there and hit the “Like” button both to validate my existence and also to follow along. It will update you when a new blog post goes up, as well as give you some extras, including things that aren’t long enough to merit a full blog post.

Share it friends, family, neighbors, and total strangers! Help make this grow! Then, when it becomes huge, you can turn your back on it, saying you liked it more when it was underground. Scoff at all the people who came to it late, after it went mainstream. Only you can make this happen.

The Simple Joy of Pushing a Hoop with a Stick

The Federal Trade Commission recently levied a $35.2 million fine against Apple, following complaints that the company didn’t do enough to warn parents about the potential problems with some of their apps.

Most notably, when their child was playing a game, a parent would enter a password to let their kid buy something in the game, but were not told that password would remain valid for 15 minutes, allowing the child to make continuous in-game purchases for that entire time. According to one of the complaints filed, a kid playing the game Pet Hotel ran up a bill of $2,600 before those 15 minutes expired. Continue reading

Happy Hunting

Recently, outrage spread quickly when news came out that the Dallas Safari Club tried to raise money to save the endangered black rhino by auctioning off a hunting permit to kill an endangered black rhino. The winning bidder paid $350,000 for the right to take the kill shot.

Now that winner’s name has become public, and he says he’s had to hire round-the-clock security due to the number of death threats he’s received as a result of his bid.

Luckily, I’ve come up with a solution that should make everyone happy. Continue reading

The Desolation of Smog

When Los Angeles was struck by terrible smog in the 1940s, everyone sprang into action. Scientists studied the causes, lawmakers worked to enact legislation to curb those causes, manufacturers came out with new designs to lessen the gases that led to the problem, and today the smog, while still present, is much less of a disruption on everyday life. This is how America responded to the smog crisis: research, committees, work, and solutions.

Beijing is currently dealing with what is likely even worse smog. Their response has been a little different. Continue reading