Minor Thoughts from me to you

Archives for Children (page 1 / 2)

Freaking Out Over Babies in Boxes

Rachel Rabin Peachman gives me the reason for my weekly eye roll directed towards the New York Times. Finland gives new mothers a box loaded with baby supplies. The box can double as an infant bed. It's been a successful program in Finland, so American hospitals are following their lead.

American "safety" experts are freaking out, because these are unregulated boxes. And, by the mighty power of the precautionary principle, anything unregulated must be treated as a danger to society.

But the rapid pace at which the box programs have been adopted by states and hospitals worries some experts, who say the boxes have not yet been proven to be a safe infant sleep environment or an effective tool in reducing infant mortality.

“I’ve been very surprised at how much enthusiasm there’s been for this and how people are just jumping on this bandwagon,” said Dr. Rachel Moon, chairwoman of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ task force on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. “They’re just assuming that since it worked in Finland that it’s going to be fine.”

Well, yes. That seems a reasonable thing to assume. Hence the reason why I'm rolling my eyes at Dr. Moon. She appears be a professional worrier, which does nothing to change my general opinion that the American Academy of Pediatrics is primarily run by professional worriers.

The CPSC joins her in stressing out about these boxes.

Ms. Buerkle said there are a number of unknowns about the boxes. “What is the box made of? How durable is it? If you use it through three different children does it deteriorate?” she said. “But those are things they’ll determine in the standards committee.”

But Dr. Moon said safety standards need to be decided by unbiased experts, not the companies that make a product. She said she has many unanswered questions about the boxes herself, including: What are the age and weight limits for baby boxes made in the United States? Is it safe to pick up the box with the baby in it? What is the airflow quality inside the box? Is it safe to place the box with baby inside on the floor or on another surface?

Good grief, people. It's a box for newborn infants. I think it's very nature indicates that it's a disposable start, not a full bed. She appears to worry that there will be a rash of parents trying to stuff their children in boxes, carry the boxes around the house, and then mail them to their grandparents.

Meanwhile, Temple University has been busy using these new box programs to do some research.

On Monday, Temple University released data showing that box programs may influence the sleep practices of new parents. When new mothers in the Temple program received a baby box and face-to-face sleep education from a nurse before leaving the hospital, their reported rate of bed-sharing with their infant within the first eight days of life was 25 percent lower than the reported bed-sharing rate of mothers given nursing instructions and no baby box. Bed-sharing is a risk factor for suffocation and other sleep-related deaths. The A.A.P. recommends that infants sleep alone, on their backs, without any loose, soft bedding.

Dr. Megan Heere, medical director of the Well Baby Nursery at Temple University Hospital and lead author of the study, said she was optimistic about the baby boxes and their potential role in promoting safe sleep. “At this point we have no reason to believe they’re dangerous,” Dr. Heere said. “We’re of the thought process that it can only help.”

I'm with Dr. Heere. Let's try acting as though parents had a modicum of common sense. Parents who already have a good bed or bassinet for their infant won't use the box as a bed. For the parents who don't have those things, the box may very well be better than whatever they'd been planning to use. Let's not freak out until we've first seen whether or not there's a reason to freak out.

(Oh, and why am I rolling my eyes at the New York Times? Because of their typically breathless coverage and the fact that they chose to lead the article with the fact that the boxes are, gasp!, unregulated. As though that were the primary thing that mattered.)

What's a Women's Issue? →

Mona Charen writes, at The Weekly Standard, about a Jewish charity called In Shifra's Arms (ISA). Its goal is to support women who have an unintended pregnancy, want to have the baby, but are being pressured into having an abortion. For all that the mainstream feminists focus on supporting a ”woman's right to choose“, they mainly support a woman's right to choose an abortion and provide precious little support for women who want to choose life, but are pressured (by men!) to choose abortion.

These are some of the women that ISA has helped.

A 42-year-old married immigrant from Russia with older children had not expected to be pregnant again. Her husband, a truck driver, was tyrannical and difficult. Money was tight. He was so insistent that she abort the child that he left the family home for a week. When he returned, he actually drove her to the abortion clinic. She sat immobilized in the car. "I'd done it before," she told Nathan, "and I just couldn't do it again. Even if my husband divorces me, I cannot do it."

She turned to In Shifra's Arms, where she found sympathy and then tangible help. The first step was helping the client to decide what her own wishes were. Since money was tight, the mother elected to get certified as an X-ray technician. In Shifra's Arms helped her with funds for babysitting for two semesters.

Her husband did not divorce her, and in time, was happy about the new addition to the family. All are now doing well and are grateful to ISA.

Another client was in her 30s when she contacted ISA. An Israeli, she was living in the United States with her American boyfriend. When he learned of her pregnancy, he angrily demanded that she get an abortion. Worried that this might be her last chance to become a mother, she refused. Her parents were both dead, but she did have an uncle in America. A secular liberal and abortion advocate, he chided her for getting pregnant in the first place and urged her to abort. When she declined, he refused any assistance. "You did this to yourself," he said. "Don't come to me."

Her boyfriend seemed to agree. Her unwillingness to abort was an affront. The abuse was first emotional and then eventually physical. (Some men beat their wives or girlfriends in hopes of inducing an abortion.) It became so extreme that she moved out. The local women's shelter was full, and while she had stayed with friends for a time, she felt she couldn't impose for too long. Out of options, she turned to a Christian crisis pregnancy center. There, she was safe, but uncomfortable. The center featured Christian worship, which was awkward. Through an Internet search, she discovered In Shifra's Arms. ISA cooperated with a local Chabad rabbi to find the pregnant woman a place to live for three months, and linked her with a domestic violence group. They advised her to return to Israel before the child's birth. In Shifra's Arms paid for her plane ticket and two months rent in Israel along with psychological counseling. She delivered a healthy baby boy. Her child, she reported from Israel, was the best thing that had ever happened to her.

The American left focuses on protecting abortion rights to such a degree that they're often hostile to crisis pregnancy centers that offer choices other than abortion. But many women don't want abortions. They just want a helping hand. Surely true feminism requires you to support women when they choose life. I'm glad ISA is doing that.

Parents Should Avoid Comments on a Child's Weight

Roni Caryn Rabin reports, at the New York Times' Well blog.

Should parents talk to an overweight child about weight? Or should they just keep their mouths shut?

​And?

Now a new study offers some guidance: Don’t make comments about a child’s weight.

The study, published in the journal Eating & Weight Disorders, is one of many finding that parents’ careless — though usually well-meaning — comments about a child’s weight are often predictors of unhealthy dieting behaviors, binge eating and other eating disorders, and may inadvertently reinforce negative stereotypes about weight that children internalize. A parent’s comments on a daughter’s weight can have repercussions for years afterward, contributing to a young woman’s chronic dissatisfaction with her body – even if she is not overweight.

​Tell me more.

The new study included over 500 women in their 20s and early 30s who were asked questions about their body image and also asked to recall how often their parents commented about their weight. Whether the young women were overweight or not, those who recalled parents’ comments were much more likely to think they needed to lose 10 or 20 pounds, even when they weren’t overweight.

The study’s lead author, Dr. Brian Wansink, a professor and the director of Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab, characterized the parents’ critical comments as having a “scarring influence.”

“We asked the women to recall how frequently parents commented, but the telling thing was that if they recalled it happening at all, it had as bad an influence as if it happened all the time,” said Dr. Wansink, author of the book “Slim by Design.” “A few comments were the same as commenting all the time. It seems to make a profound impression.”

Some studies have actually linked parents’ critical comments to an increased risk of obesity. One large government-funded study that followed thousands of 10-year-old girls found that, at the start of the study, nearly 60 percent of the girls said someone — a parent, sibling, teacher or peer – had told them they were “too fat.” By age 19, those who had been labeled “too fat” were more likely to be obese, regardless of whether they were heavy at age 10 or not.

​That's scary. What should parents do?

Dr. Neumark-Sztainer was besieged by parents asking her this question, and wondering, “How do I prevent them from getting overweight and still feel good about themselves?”

In her book, called “I’m, Like, SO Fat: Helping Your Teen Make Health Choices About Eating and Exercise in a Weight-Obsessed World,” she notes that parents can influence a child’s eating habits without talking about them. “I try to promote the idea of talking less and doing more — doing more to make your home a place where it’s easy to make healthy eating and physical activity choices, and talking less about weight.”

For parents, that means keeping healthy food in the house and not buying soda. It means sitting down to enjoy family dinners together, and also setting an example by being physically active and rallying the family to go for walks or bike rides together. Modeling also means not carping about your own weight. “Those actions speak louder than words,” Dr. Puhl said.

This entry was tagged. Children Food

Love your spouse more than your kids

When your children eventually leave you — and if you’ve done your job right, that’s exactly what they’ll do

​What a great statement. It's blunt enough to be surprising, but completely true.

Karol Markowicz is arguing that you should live your life in such a way that you still have an identifiable life once you no longer have kids at home.

This entry was tagged. Children

Extract Child Support From Poor Men Who Aren't Fathers →

How is it possible in the Land of the Free that men can face huge fines, revocation of professional licenses, forfeiture of the right to international travel, and sometimes (as in Alexander's case until this week) even jail time, from owing child support to kids that aren't theirs? I wrote a feature about that 11 years ago, entitled "Injustice by Default." Short version:

Governments (and sometimes even hospitals) are financially incentivized to attach paternity to the children of single mothers, particularly those seeking welfare benefits. Departments of Child Support Services will sometimes go on information as flimsy as "Dude with this name living in Southern California"; if a records search turns up only one dude, he will likely be mailed a court summons. That court summons will often be very confusingly written, so that the men don't realize that they are just 30 days away from being declared the father via default judgment. Once you have been named the father, you owe all back child support (sometimes with interest), said support will be garnished from your wages, and it is devilishly hard to get your paternity undeclared, even with DNA proof and sworn affidavits from the mother.

So why don't we hear about this outrage more? Because nobody likes to defend "deadbeat dads," and the people hardest hit are typically poor men who have even less political and media clout than they do access to good lawyers.

Sometimes the modern version of women's rights seems more like making someone—anyone—else pay the bills than it does true equality.

Grimm's Fairy Tales

The Original Folk & Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm, cover art

For Christmas, my mom gave me a copy of the new edition of Grimm's Fairy Tales. The Guardian wrote about this new edition.

Rapunzel is impregnated by her prince, the evil queen in Snow White is the princess’s biological mother, plotting to murder her own child, and a hungry mother in another story is so “unhinged and desperate” that she tells her daughters: “I’ve got to kill you so I can have something to eat.” Never before published in English, the first edition of the Brothers Grimms’ tales reveals an unsanitised version of the stories that have been told at bedtime for more than 200 years.

I'm excited to have this edition. I think it'll make great bedtime reading for my four daughters.

Thanks, Mom!

Update: After reading this post, my mother would like to make it clear that she wasn't aware of the uncensored content of this edition of Grimm's Fairy Tales. Had she known, she never would have purchased it.

This entry was tagged. Children Fairy Tales

The Power of Bias →

Megan McArdle wrote recently about the power of bias, as applied to people's opinions of George Zimmerman. I recommended reading it for insight into how our thinking can be affected by bias. But, given the still swirling gun control debates, I was also struck by this passage.

Parents find it easy to imagine their child being kidnapped by a stranger, which is why many children under the age of 12 or 13 are now escorted everywhere by a parent or another trusted adult. But stranger abductions are incredibly rare and always have been, even in the days when first-graders regularly walked themselves to school. Parents find it easy to imagine their children dying in a gun accident, which is why you hear about parents who won’t have guns in the house, and refuse to let their kids play at the homes of parents who do. But those sorts of accidental shootings involving young children are about as rare as stranger abductions. On the other hand, very few parents would say “I won’t let you play at their house -- they have a swimming pool,” even though drowning is one of the most common ways for young children to die. Economist Steven Levitt estimates that swimming pools are about 100 times more dangerous than a gun in the home.

All Summer in a Day →

by Ray Bradbury

It rained.

It had been raining for seven years; thousands upon thousands of days compounded and filled from one end to the other with rain, with the drum and gush of water, with the sweet crystal fall of showers and the concussion of storms so heavy they were tidal waves come over the islands. A thousand forests had been crushed under the rain and grown up a thousand times to be crushed again. And this was the way life was forever on the planet Venus, and this was the schoolroom of the children of the rocket men and women who had come to a raining world to set up civilization and live out their lives.

"It's stopping, it's stopping!"

"Yes, yes!"

Margot stood apart from them, from these children who could never remember a time when there wasn't rain and rain and rain. They were all nine years old, and if there had been a day, seven years ago, when the sun came out for an hour and showed its face to the stunned world, they could not recall. Sometimes, at night, she heard them stir, in remembrance, and she knew they were dreaming and remembering gold or a yellow crayon or a coin large enough to buy the world with. She knew they thought they remembered a warmness, like a blushing in the face, in the body, in the arms and legs and trembling hands. But then they always awoke to the tatting drum, the endless shaking down of clear bead necklaces upon the roof, the walk, the gardens, the forests, and their dreams were gone.

This is a beautiful (and haunting) short story by one of the best craftsmen to ever write.

Why I'm Teaching My Son To Break the Law →

J.D. Tuccille, writing at Reason.com:

My wife and I used it as a starting point for telling our seven-year-old why we don't expect him to obey the law—that laws and the governments that pass them are often evil. We expect him, instead, to stand up for his rights and those of others, and to do good, even if that means breaking the law.

Read the whole thing.

You Should Get Married As Early as Possible, But No Earlier →

Megan McArdle, at The Daily Beast:

But as a general rule, you should err on the side of marrying early. By which I mean not that you should marry whoever happens to be around when you turn 22, but that you should be willing to recognize, at the age of 22, that you've found someone you want to marry. Right now, most Princeton students don't think that way. They think there's something weird about committing at 22. And if they try to commit, their friends and parents will warn them off.

I got married at age 22 and it changed my life forever, for the better. As a bonus, we'll have all four of our kids by the time I'm 30 and I'll be able to raise them while I'm still young and relatively energetic. I think getting married at a young age is a wonderful idea.

For Kids, the Ultimate Play Room … at Grandma's House →

The Harringtons' three preteen granddaughters will have their own room with custom bunks that have built-in cubbies to hold electronics, plus a modern-style bathroom fully stocked with a rainbow of nail polish. The two grandsons will sleep in a separate room with ladders that lead to lofted beds and a large table for building model airplanes or playing with blocks. Downstairs, they'll have five swivel bar stools behind their own breakfast counter. "We thought of whatever we could to draw them there," says Ms. Harrington, 70, a retired elementary schoolteacher.

Unreal. Growing up, I was super excited just by the fact that Grandma and Grandpa could visit us for a week. They lived 12 hours away and we only saw them once a year. Having them visit was more exciting than any custom room could have been.

This entry was tagged. Children

Child-Phobic Teacher Sues School District →

For once, I'm literally at a loss for words. How did this woman choose teaching as a career? Isn't "I can teach anyone above the age of 15 but I can't be responsible for my actions if I see a younger child" a bit of an interview killer?

A former teacher is suing the Cincinnati school district, saying she was discriminated against because of her rare phobia: a fear of young children. Maria Waltherr-Willard, 61, who had been teaching high school Spanish and French since 1976, said that when she was transferred to the district’s middle school in 2009, the children set off her phobia, causing her blood pressure to soar and forcing her to retire. Ms. Waltherr-Willard said that her phobia falls under the federal American with Disabilities Act and that the transfer violated the law.

This entry was tagged. Children

Mom sues police over arrest →

As if raising kids wasn't hard enough.

A stay-at-home mom from La Porte has filed a lawsuit against the city's police department, an unknown officer and one of her neighbors.

Tammy Cooper said she was wrongly accused of endangering her children and was even forced to spend the night in jail, all because she let her kids play outside.

She said her children, ages 9 and 6, were riding their motorized scooters in the cul-de-sac where they live while she watched from a lawn chair in her front yard just a few feet away.

"I was out there the entire time," Cooper said. "I never left that lawn chair the entire time."

Cooper said a little while later, a La Porte police car pulled up in front of her home.

"I went out there to see what he was here for and he said, 'Ma'am, we're here for you.' I said, 'Oh really? Why?' He proceeded to tell me he had received a call from one of my neighbors that my kids were riding their scooters unsupervised.

Cooper said she was handcuffed, put in the back of a police car and forced to spend the night in jail.

What's Wrong With the Teenage Mind? →

I thought this was very interesting. I think the key takeaway is that there's a very good argument for giving your kids true responsibility at early ages.

The crucial new idea is that there are two different neural and psychological systems that interact to turn children into adults. Over the past two centuries, and even more over the past generation, the developmental timing of these two systems has changed. That, in turn, has profoundly changed adolescence and produced new kinds of adolescent woe.

… The first of these systems has to do with emotion and motivation. It is very closely linked to the biological and chemical changes of puberty and involves the areas of the brain that respond to rewards.

… The second crucial system in our brains has to do with control; it channels and harnesses all that seething energy. In particular, the prefrontal cortex reaches out to guide other parts of the brain, including the parts that govern motivation and emotion. This is the system that inhibits impulses and guides decision-making, that encourages long-term planning and delays gratification.

This entry was tagged. Children

How to Land Your Kid in Therapy →

Sure, under parenting your children is dangerous. But so is over parenting. It seems that the trick with parenting is to back off, beyond what your first instinct might be. Just don't get so far back that you can't see your kids anymore.

Which might be how people like my patient Lizzie end up in therapy. “You can have the best parenting in the world and you’ll still go through periods where you’re not happy,” Jeff Blume, a family psychologist with a busy practice in Los Angeles, told me when I spoke to him recently. “A kid needs to feel normal anxiety to be resilient. If we want our kids to grow up and be more independent, then we should prepare our kids to leave us every day.”

But that’s a big if. Blume believes that many of us today don’t really want our kids to leave, because we rely on them in various ways to fill the emotional holes in our own lives. Kindlon and Mogel both told me the same thing. Yes, we devote inordinate amounts of time, energy, and resources to our children, but for whose benefit?

John Lasseter →

"He's Lots-o-Huggin Bear from Toy Story 3, without the abandonment issues."

Esquire profiles Pixar's (and Disney's) chief creative genius.

This entry was tagged. Children Disney

A Good Husband's Guide

Men and women are always arguing over who has the tougher role to play. Obviously, it's the other gender.

Leanne Bell offers an interesting take, called the Good Husband's Guide. Refreshingly, she takes the men's side of the argument.

In May of 1955, a magazine called Housekeeping Monthly ran a short point-form article called "The Good Wife's Guide." The article is unaccredited, but I am sure that like many other articles written in 1950's women's magazine, it was probably written by a woman. This article was sent around by email to all the workstations in my office, and probably visited many other inboxes around the world as well.

  • Have dinner ready. Plan ahead, even the night before, to have a delicious meal ready, on time for his return. This is a way of letting him know that you have been thinking about him and are concerned about his needs. Most men are hungry when they come home and the prospect of a good meal (especially his favourite dish) is part of the warm welcome needed.

  • Prepare yourself. Take fifteen minutes to rest so you'll be refreshed when he arrives. Touch up your make up, put a ribbon in your hair and be fresh-looking. He has just been with a lot of work-weary people.

  • Be a little gay and a little more interesting for him. His boring day may need a lift and one of your duties is to provide it.

  • Clear away the clutter. Make one last trip through the main part of the house just before your husband arrives.

  • Over the cooler months of the year you should prepare and light a fire for him to unwind by. Your husband will feel he has reached a haven of rest and order, and it will give you a lift too. After all, catering to his personal comfort will provide you with immense personal satisfaction.

There's more.

Now, most modern men would say that such a guide is sexist and demeaning to women. Asked privately, perhaps after a few beers and promises of confidentiality, most men would also say that such a home sounds darn appealing. And, it is. Mostly because we're not the ones working to make it.

But men aren't the only ones guilty of looking to enjoy the good life. Ms. Bell happily recognizes that and presents the opposite guide. The Good Husband's Guide.

  • Always make getting and keeping a full-time job with regular raises, benefits, bonuses and the potential for prestigious advancement your number one priority in life. Remember always that you have a wife and children who need your financial support, and that it is your responsibility to provide for them to the best of your ability.

  • Always arrive home refreshed and happy - put your bad day or your confrontation with your boss, the traffic, the crowds or the physical exhaustion you might feel aside and try to arrive home as cheery and lighthearted as you possibly can. Your wife has been struggling with the children and the housework all day, she does not need to hear about how bad your day was.

  • Be prepared to help with household chores when you get home - let your wife relax or talk on the phone since she has been dealing with these problems all day. Make supper for her often, and offer to clean up afterwards so that she may rest and feel appreciated.

  • Do not bore your wife with stories of the troubles you faced at work today. Remember that you are lucky to have a job and that many other men would be happy to trade places with you. Remember that it is not masculine to complain or let worries trouble you. Your job is to provide, and whatever you must go through to achieve this is part of your lot in life. A good husband knows that he is lucky to have a wife at all, and that a woman wants a strong, silent man she can depend on.

There's more of that too. Note how normal it all sounds? What husband hasn't heard his wife, or his wife's friends, express similar sentiments?

Let's leave that thought there and turn to Matt Patterson for a moment: Men, the Gender Wars Are Over -- We Won.

Men, our long twilight struggle with the opposite sex is over. Our victory is total.

Can you believe the way things used to be? Remember when our fathers and grandfathers would drag themselves to mind-numbing jobs every day, having the sole responsibility for the feeding, clothing, and housing of their entire family?

And things were no easier before marriage, when men's quest for sexual satisfaction was all too often hampered by the widespread moral code which taught women not to give out the "milk" for "free."

Well, that state of affairs just wouldn't do. So we men came together and did what we do best -- formulate and implement a plan. First step, design the perfect world, the perfect male world. We decided such a world would consist of two things: less responsibility and more -- and no-strings -- sex.

Brothers, have we succeeded.

The amazing thing, really, is how easy it was, how fast the old world of obligation and responsibility dissolved. The first, crucial step, of course, was convincing women that they had it bad, that our jobs were "intellectually stimulating" and not the soul-crushing monotony that they in fact were.

There's more of that too.

What's my point? Well, I was entertained by both Leanne and Matt. And both reinforced my personal opinion: "life is pain" and the grass is the same shade of green on both sides of the fence. We're just capable of deluding ourselves into believing that it's less rote, less monotonous, and more stimulating on the other side.

That's it, really. I'm not sure I have a broader point to make here. Except, you know, thank your spouse for handling whatever crap that they go through each day.

Progressively Regressive Child Care in Dane County

The Capital Times published an article on the shortage of child day care in Dane County. It's not until the 11th paragraph that they finally reveal that the state government is to blame.

The primary reason it's so hard to find care for infants is because of a state mandated caregiver-child ratio that requires one provider for every four babies or toddlers under age 2. Ratios increase according to the age of the child. For example, the ratio is 1 caregiver for every 13 children for 4- and 5-year-olds. So, the staffing costs for infants can be more than triple what they are for older children.

Most child care centers don't offer infant care, in part because of financial reasons. "Not to sound cold, but they don't make money on infants because the ratio is so small," says Jody Bartnick, the executive director of Community Coordinated Child Care, a children's advocacy organization commonly referred to as 4-C. Stricter regulations add costs, she said. Infant rooms require their own sink, their own refrigerator and other equipment.

And when those costs are passed on to consumers, they are significant for most household budgets.

4-C numbers show that the average weekly cost of infant care in Dane County as of March 2008 was $245 in a family child care center and $275 at a group center. For preschool care, the number drops to about $220 at both types of centers. At those rates, child care can cost between $11,000 and $14,000 a year -- compared with about $7,300 for in-state tuition at UW-Madison.

In the name of making day care safer, they've actually made day care nearly impossible to get. And, when you can get it, it's astronomically expensive. For an area that prides itself on its progressivism, this sounds pretty regressive to me.

Of course, they'll redeem themselves by attempting to raise my taxes so they can turn around and subsidize child care for someone else. The obvious solution -- deregulate the market -- would never occur to them.

You're doing a heckuva job, Jimmy Doyle.

Diversity in Ratings

Scene Stealer - The Web Is Pouncing on Hollywood's Ratings - NYTimes.com

The standard Hollywood ratings -- G, PG, PG-13, R and NC-17 -- must now compete with all manner of Internet-based ratings alternatives, some of which are gaining new traction through social networking tools.

SceneSmoking.org, which monitors tobacco use in movies, issues pink, light gray, dark gray or black lungs to films, depending on how smoking is depicted. Kids-in-Mind.com ranks movies on a scale of 1 to 10 in categories like "sex and nudity" and "violence and gore."

Movieguide.org issues ratings from a Christian perspective. A "+4," or "exemplary," means "no questionable elements whatsoever." A "-4," or "abhorrent," means "intentional blasphemy, evil, gross immorality."

The article goes on to talk about how people want to "fix" the MPAA ratings, according to various pet standards.

Why?

It seems like something great is happening. People that are passionate about different things -- and have different standards of acceptability -- are creating and disseminating their own ratings. Parents, or discriminating movie goers, who care about particular standards can use the ratings from a group that shares those same standards. There's absolutely, positively no way that Hollywood -- or the FTC -- can create a single rating system that represents all of those different standards.

There's a simple reason for that. One group of parents believes that nudity and coarse language is a natural and normal part of life. They believe that sex and nudity should be celebrated while their children should be protected from exposure to violence and aggression. There are other parents who would be horrified at the thought of their children seeing some bare skin but are perfectly okay with their children seeing movies that depict massive amounts of violence. Now, design me a PG-13 or R rating that makes both groups of parents happy.

I celebrate the diversity in ratings. I may even use one standard to evaluate which movies my children will be allowed to see and a completely different standard to evaluate which movies I'll see. Vive la difference!

CPS: State Sponsored Kidnapping

You want an easy way to make me angry? Threaten my kids. You want an easy way to make me really angry? Assume that every parent is a bad parent and then threaten my kids because you can't be bothered to figure out which type of parent I am. This story from "Great" Britain makes me furious.

A couple forced to give up three children for adoption despite a judge ruling they may have been wrongly accused of abuse yesterday vowed to take their legal fight to Europe.

Mark and Nicky Webster said they will never give up the battle to win back their daughter and two sons after the Appeal Court ruled this week that it was 'too late' for the family to be reunited.

The couple's nightmare started in October 2003 when Mrs Webster took their second son to hospital with a swollen leg. He was found to have a number of small fractures which doctors said could be caused only by physical abuse. The following year they were permanently removed and put up for adoption after a one-day court hearing.

Medical experts later concluded that the injuries were not caused by violent twisting and shaking, but were symptoms of rare case of scurvy. Mr Webster, 35, and his 27-year-old wife fled to Ireland in 2006 to stop their fourth child, Brandon, being taken into care at birth.

The Appeal Court ruled on Wednesday that even though the Websters 'may well' have been victims of a miscarriage of justice the adoption order on their eldest three children could not be revoked because the youngsters are now settled with their adoptive parents.

The couple have not seen the children, now aged nine, seven and five, since they were put up for adoption four years ago.

You want a model of unjust government? It's right there. Right there in one story. Screw up the investigation, take the kids, then refuse to let the parents have their kids.

I'm not honestly not sure how I would react in their situation. Let's just say: "not well". Stories like these are why I hate the very idea of Child Protective Services and other similar government agencies. There is no justification for this behavior.

My heart -- and prayers -- go out to Mr. and Mrs. Webster.