Monthly Archives: July 2016

Puff: the Magic is Gone

When I was a kid I was glued to my 14″ black & white RCA TV on Saturday mornings to watch a bevy of cowboy shows. What childhood fun! After that I’d ¬†strap on my 6-shooter cap-gun, don my felt cowboy hat, and go after the bad guys (who were other kids my age and who were the good guys the Saturday before.) Complicated stuff, but it all worked out in the end.

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Of course not every kid had a REAL cap-gun. Some had sticks but in the ‘game’ they became real. Naturally we’d argue about whether our imaginary bullets hit the ‘bad’ guys, but in the end, miraculously no one died. We easily moved from murder into a baseball game until our mothers called us in for lunch.

Ah, childhood. Freedom. Few responsibilities. Little angst. Yet, as the lyrics say, “Dragons live forever but not so little boys. Painted wings and giant strings make way for other toys.”

Not many adolescent boys play with cap-guns any longer. Cellphones with apps help him with fantasy and vicarious conquests. Yet I wonder if theoretical fantasy is a proper substitute for theatrical fantasy. We acted it out: dirt, sweat and grime. Is this more satisfying than digital imaginings?

All¬†throughout history, stories are told of the developing boy mimicking the warriors of the clan, learning essential life skills through play. Im concerned that few boys ‘play’ any longer, preferring their digital device rather than the outdoors. What social skills are lost in the process? What opportunities for give-and-take are lost? How will this new phenomenon impact these boys as they grow into manhood?

 

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GOP Gerrymandering

Gerrymandering is a term used to describe the drawing of boundaries of congressional districts to benefit a particular ideology. In the past several decades, the Republican Party has been in control of the legislatures of most of the states. As a result, they are in charge of drawing the boundaries after each census. Naturally the lines drawn encompass areas which benefit their party and disadvantage the opponent’s party.

One district nearby me extends from Toledo to the suburbs of Cleveland yet is only a few feet wide in some places. In fact, it is not contiguous; the congresswoman cannot drive from one end to the other without leaving her district.

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If the congresswoman had a boat she could troll her district and fish at the same time. District 9 used to include all of the city of Toledo but, because it was heavily democrat, it now is ‘represented’ in three districts, thus diluting the strength of democrats living there.

Earlier this year the Washington Post ran a computer program which specified that a congressional district be drawn as compactly as possible. Below (bottom) is the result. At the top are the districts gerrymandered by the political parties.

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https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/01/13/this-is-actually-what-america-would-look-like-without-gerrymandering/

And so it goes. Slick political maneuvering. Welcome to America.