Friday, June 24, 2005

Squittens, Cabbits, Sleep, and Slate

1) Thanks to April's comment yesterday, I can now direct you to this site where Sarah Hartwell discusses a variety of inadvertent and intentional (ack!) kitty distortions as well as persistent cross-breed myths like the squitten and the cabbit. People wonder why I'm so worried about cloning et al. It's because there's almost no horrific mutation someone won't try.

As Terry Pratchett wrote once, and I recall in mangled form:
If someone made a sign reading Don't Touch above the button that destroys the universe, we'd all be dead before the paint was dry.

2) Further prioritizing the Morphean bliss of slumber, Slate has this article about whether sleep or breakfast helps kids' cognition more. As a chronically under-rested teen, with circadian rhythms biased more toward the owl than the lark, I never awoke hungry and still don't. Here's another arrow in the quiver for those of us advocating the simple power of adequate sleep. Taken together, the scientific literature on breakfast and sleep suggests that making sure kids get enough shut-eye will probably do more for them than dragging them out of bed to eat their Wheaties.

3) In a Slate two-fer, this article talks about the prevalence of "problem" fiction in curricula for teens. Rather than reading classically worthy books, which don't have to be stuffy and naive, we're directing young readers toward blah-blah writing about the conflict-ridden.

I didn't watch many Afterschool Specials once I got the general idea. I only read so many Judy Blumes. I got bored with stupid characters inexorably stumbling into terrible situations that could and should have been avoided. I got tired of characters whose lives were so lousy that I couldn't relate. I felt alienated that there wasn't anyone portrayed who was vaguely familiar, and I drifted toward literature peopled by those I could admire. Is it best to push kids' faces into the muck of awful, if believable, lives told badly? Or could we assume that they'll inevitably discover permutations of sadness and depravity on their own, and instead give them literary-quality examples of people succeeding through hardship accompanied by strong character (and good vocabulary)?

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