dangerousmeta!, the original new mexican miscellany, offering eclectic linkage since 1999.

SF New Mexican:

Lawsuit blames ‘Grand Theft Auto’ video game for teen shooting family at N.M. ranch.  Practice makes perfect.

09/26/06 • 08:09 AM • ChildhoodEntertainmentLaw • (0) Comments

Lifehacker:

Get a free college education online.

Tangential: They also have an item on how to make a NYC pizza; my comment is, this must be gourmet pizza.  On the street, where’s the cupful of oil per slice?  I consumed a lot of it during my years in Manhattan.  Soaking a few dozen napkins before consumption was necessary to keep the coronary arteries clear.

09/25/06 • 09:39 AM • BooksChildhoodGeneralScholarly • (0) Comments

SF New Mexican:

Santa Fe High: Rock-hurling students put teacher in hospital.  Read the comments.

09/14/06 • 07:22 AM • ChildhoodLawPsychology • (0) Comments

NY Times Health:

To Fight Stuttering, Doctors Look at the Brain. 

As many of you longtime readers know, I am an occasional stutterer.  Bloggers who have met me, tell me it’s not noticeable.  But it can be.  I’ve had enough experience to hide it all very well.  There are rare times when I can’t answer a telephone, because I can’t get out the required words on que. It comes and goes, depending on stress and other unpredictable factors.  I go for long periods with complete fluency, and other periods with face-contorting blocks.  For me, the bottom line is ... the more I use my voice, the less problems I have. Self-confidence, stress, exercise all figure into it as well. In Manhattan, where talking is existence, I was regularly the lead in proposal meetings and such with heads of most of the Fortune 500, betraying no thoughts of disfluency.  Here in Santa Fe, in the relative boonies, where I use my ‘talker’ much less, I occasionally have to go back in time to those uncomfortable moments of stiction. During bad periods, I preemptively override the mistaken judgment of others, and say, “I have a disfluency in my speech that occasionally surfaces, bear with me.”  Takes the pressure off.

The horrible irony is, most stutterers have a higher than average IQ ... yet we’re commonly judged ‘deficient’. Psychologists and others in the ‘head’ industry commonly blame us for this perception.  A load of horse manure.  As stutterers, we see the summary judgment too often; eyes never lie.  Sympathy’s worse. Give me a pitying look, I’ll give you a blockage.  It’s particularly difficult in these intolerant times, when individuals love to take advantage of others’ weaknesses. 

We stutterers keep a thesaurus in our heads; if our first choice won’t come out, we’ll use another.  Using another, the shades of meaning get altered, misunderstandings amplify ... and boy, do some like to take advantage of shades of meaning.  Political conversations get me into trouble, too often.  As you all can imagine, I can get myself into some really interesting dialogs, where one shade of meaning gets me branded a fascist, left-wing nut, conservative crank, or worse.  Aside from the requisite frustration, I eventually start laughing because I’ve been branded with so many different philosophies over a shade of semantics. 

It’s just such a pain in the ass, all the way around.  Yet it makes me who I am, and partially why I enjoy weblogging so much.  Here I can be fluent as I want, any old time.  A bit of compensatory therapy, you could say.

Treatment of stuttering has been filled with well-meaning scientists, therapists, outright quacks, well-meaning relatives, for decades.  Few put themselves into the shoes of a stutterer.  It can be crippling, to be cut off from communication with your fellow human beings.  Read the comment list, to see the grocery list of scholarly fixes, home-cures, and experiences of stutterers.  Hard science tells us we’re brain-challenged, psychologists tell us of our emotional disorders, laymen tell us we speak too fast.  We know better; none of it works consistently except to grow out of it before the first decade has passed.  In no other area of life have I ever observed a stronger placebo effect.  A ‘cure’ lasts three months on average, to gift you with your handicap once again once the newness has worn off.  This has been discussed as proof of the psychological nature of the ‘disease.’  Yet therapy doesn’t consistently work, either.  I’ve contemplated the ‘SpeechEasy’, strongly advertised as a cure-all, but know the placebo effect too well to get my hopes up.  And the price is expoitative. Troll the various stuttering bulletin boards, you’ll see many disappointed people for this, and many other so-called ‘cures’.

“Legato speech” is the only consistently beneficial technique I’ve ever run across.  Singer’s breathing of sorts ... turning on the breath for a phrase, rather than staccato breath, and softening consonants - but not enough to lisp.  I can’t always get it working at all times, but it is a huge help that gives great comfort in tough spots.  For emergencies, I carry a cattle prod for the back of my tongue [joking, just joking].

All that being said, this article is not especially new.  The excess of dopamine, a possible distant relationship to epilepsy, has been floating around for at least 20 years [I recall a good friend, whose wife was a speech therapist, running into my office in the late ‘80’s saying “Great news, Garret!  You’re brain-damaged, not stupid!  It’s not your fault!”  You see the previously unspoken opinion.  That article talked of a relationship to epilepsy, storms in the brain, right-side speech also].  What’s different is trying to shoehorn an existing drug to take advantage of those without fluency.  It would be horrible to give stutterers hope, in the form of a pill that can potentially cause diabetes and kill your pancreas. Even with a 50% improvement (as rumored). I’d rather be healthy and disfluent.  Many will make a different choice, though, because disfluency in its more severe forms promotes suicidal thoughts anyway.  Likewise, pagoclone isn’t much of a benefit, when anti-anxieties generally do no long-term good.  Ameliorating anticipatory anxiety is a good thing, but not a cure.  Many get used to the effect, and then relapse. The danger for all stutterers, is that we’re hoping, desiring, yearning for the miracle cure ... like you would not believe.  We’re a vulnerable group, and that makes us the victims of some real quacks.  The best news about this article, is that more research is being done.  I applaud the effort, and raise my voice in support of more research.

I still recommend Gerald Jonas’ “Stuttering: The Disorder of Many Theories.”  One of the finest, and most empathetic books I’ve ever read.  You can read of ‘legato speech’ in this priceless tome.

09/12/06 • 10:33 AM • ChildhoodHealthPersonalPsychology • (4) Comments

MSNBC:

Seeking straight A’s, parents push for pills.  Try eliminating caffeine and sugar drinks, first. And high glycemic foods. I’ve seen it a million times, if I’ve seen it once.

09/10/06 • 05:37 PM • ChildhoodHealth • (2) Comments

NY Times Education:

Report Finds U.S. Students Lagging in Finishing College.  Two blasts from the past for you, Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter on financing higher education (previous to the creation of the Department of Education, and the Republican Party’s desire to eliminate it).  Wish we could hear rhetoric such as Nixon’s, today: “No qualified student who wants to go to college should be barred by lack of money.”

09/07/06 • 09:05 AM • ChildhoodScholarly • (0) Comments

SF New Mexican:

Senate rejects limits on cluster bombs.  Shame, shame.  Unexploded cluster bombs end up killing kids.  And whose bright idea was it to paint them the same color as ‘food packets’?

09/07/06 • 08:32 AM • ChildhoodHealthHuman RightsPolitics • (0) Comments

NY Times:

9/11 Leaves Its Mark on History Classes.  Less inward, more outward.

09/06/06 • 08:32 AM • BooksChildhoodHistory • (0) Comments

NY Times Op-Ed Contributor:

A Little Learning Is an Expensive Thing.

09/05/06 • 08:18 AM • ChildhoodEconomicsScholarly • (0) Comments

Sydney Morning Herald.AU:

Devil in the detail: Vatican exorcises Harry Potter.  “... a potentially corrupting influence.”  If so, I want to put in my name for a couple of house-elves ...

09/01/06 • 10:01 AM • ChildhoodReligion • (0) Comments

Guardian.UK:

The ideas interview: Frank Kermode.  “We had no choice. Latin has been getting abolished now for two generations.”

08/30/06 • 11:07 AM • ChildhoodScholarly • (0) Comments

Washington Post:

Rock your baby to sleep ... with muzak’d Metallica.  And others.

08/29/06 • 11:17 AM • ChildhoodMusic • (1) Comments

SF New Mexican:

Teen airlifted to El Paso after skate-park beating.  Read the comments.

08/28/06 • 08:55 AM • ChildhoodHealthLawSanta Fe Local • (0) Comments

SF New Mexican:

The Santa Fe Police are checking the minor-identifying skills of waiters in the area, it seems.  So don’t be surprised if you get carded over the next few weeks; it’s got nothing to do with your ‘state of preservation’ ...

08/24/06 • 10:11 AM • ChildhoodFoodLaw • (0) Comments

SF New Mexican:

Princeton Review guide ranks New Mexico Tech for undergraduates.  A big congrats is in order.

08/24/06 • 10:07 AM • ChildhoodSanta Fe LocalScholarly • (0) Comments

Metafilter:

“Most 18-year-old students entering the class of 2010 this fall were born in 1988. For them: Billy Carter, Lucille Ball, Gilda Radner, Billy Martin, Andy Gibb, and Secretariat have always been dead ...”  And more.  It’s all too easy to forget this, the further we get along in our personal timelines.

08/24/06 • 09:47 AM • ChildhoodHistory • (0) Comments

CBC.CA:

Everything went downhill from Pac-Man?  Funny.  Just mention the name, I hear that widget-widget sound.

08/23/06 • 09:00 AM • ChildhoodComputingEntertainment • (0) Comments

Washington Post:

Do they deliver?  An overview of natural childbirth methods.

08/22/06 • 09:02 AM • ChildhoodHealth • (0) Comments

Indian Market roundup.

I showed up early for the Native American Clothing contest.  Got the ‘prime’ spot standing on the low barrier that surrounds the Soldier’s memorial needle in the middle of the Plaza.  When I arrived, it wasn’t just drizzling.  It was full-on raining. 

Happy, indeed, to see that my trusty Lowe Orion AW belt-pack’s waterproof cover worked splendidly.  I’d waited until very late in the game, Saturday, to see what the Santa Fe Camera Center had for rent.  I settled on what was left ... the Canon 70-300 DO IS USM.  Not a great lens, according to reviews.  Damn the reviews, however:

This little lens has significantly better AF and IS than the 100-400. 
[Not faster AF; just more accurate.]
The relatively slow aperture is almost completely mitigated by the IS. 
The weight is more manageable.
The diffraction optics have a tendency to go soft and hazy under certain conditions; use the lens hood always. 
One must lock the zoom feature while walking around.
It’s not white, it doesn’t attract attention.
Fits under a jacket, during downpours.

Needless to say, I really, really like this lens. Some quick samples, maximum range (300mm hard, ~460mm 1.6x, ISO 400, f/5.6, varying speeds but none above 1/60) ... just click the pic:

Some of the kids.

 

Sorry, the medium-size preview’s too large for my layout.  I’ll have to find time later to process the 200+ images, and create a gallery.

The contest got a late start, due to the rain.  There were fewer contestants, it seemed, than usual ... but there was still an amazing array of outfits shown ... some handed down for generations.  Contestants range from toddlers to seniors, Pueblo to Plains to Eastern tribes, represented in separate categories.  There is even a ‘contemporary’ competition, as well.  I would say, having seen these competitions over a few years now, that the range of colors for the traditional outfits are returning to their natural roots (pun intended).  Less neon, more earth-tones.  The traditional is getting ‘more’ traditional. 

The announcers described the features of each outfit ... or tried to.  It was entertaining when a youth pipes up to correct an announcer’s pronunciation or description.  “Trade steel arrowheads ...” “FLINT!”  They’re being judged during this contest, the contestants are very right to correct the announcer.  “Gorget” is not pronounced “gor-get”, but “gor-jet”.  The funniest thing to watch, however, was that some of the young women had folded their identification sheets into something like origami, perhaps in nervousness, and it took a couple of minutes to unfold each application, and another couple of minutes for the announcer to decipher the handwriting.  Some in the audience were annoyed, but it played out rather hilariously from the back of the crowd. 

Everyone in the contest went all-out this year. I can’t remember a single outfit that disappointed.  Each contestant was carrying implements appropriate to the outfit they were wearing, explanations of which made the long stand (3+ hours) completely worth it.  There were some very daring outfits in the contemporary section, yet it underlined that the business of contemporary Native clothing design is a huge opportunity.  Forget Ugg boots; wait until some of these young designers hit the big time.  Some outfits brought gasps from the audience.

Other than being somewhat stiff from standing (it took a good two blocks to recover bendable knees), I had a thoroughly enjoyable time, despite the rain.  I had a couple of conversations with some of the contestants’ parents, found out interesting details about their outfits, and had a ball shooting with the rental lens.

The poor design of the Plaza gazebo is something I’ve complained about liberally before.  It’s just too low to view events like this over the heads of a crowd. Even worse, the lights weren’t turned on under the roof, so those contestants standing at the back were completely in the dark, backlit by the white vendor tents behind the gazebo ... reduced to silhouettes.  You could really only see those who stood closest to the front stairway of the gazebo.  Poor visibility, added to rain, put many in the audience in a push-shove mode to get as close as possible.  Many who would have stood and watched, just gave up and left.  The use of umbrellas made it worse, though the announcers tried to discourage their use.  Few tourists dressed for the weather; not that anyone would ever expect them to.  I suggest bleachers, lighting, and a backdrop for the main stage area.  That, and a tent for the contestants to dress and then get to the stage without risking their fine and very valuable clothing in rain.

Briefly, onto the subject of tourists and rudeness.  This Indian Market, it was Caucasian women who were the problem.  Pushing, shoving, complaining that their lack of height gives them a God-given right to advance to the front of any group, or have any high viewpoint cleared for them (as Moses parted the Red Sea).  The logic is simple, ladies; if you arrive late, don’t expect to be able to see.  I took the brunt, as the only Caucasian on the low wall, they thought they could appeal to race, gender, or pity.  Or, they would just shove, whether I was holding a camera and shooting, or not.  One sat on my feet, jabbing me in the crotch with the ribs of her umbrella, apparently trying to encourage me to leave my perch [chalk up another creative use for a Moleskine; I shoved it down the front of my pants].  One knocked me back to fall onto the sharp points of the cast-iron fence around the memorial; no bruises, thank goodness.  Another head-butted her way in, knocking my elbow in the air and ruining a shot, and then jumped down again after using my attached belt-bag as a stabilizing device, howling in disgust because she still couldn’t see over the umbrellas.  Two elderly and slightly deaf Italian tourists decided to stand on either side of my perch, and started passing a baby back and forth in front of me, deafening both ears as they shouted Italian at each other.  At one point I had to drop my camera hard onto its strap, to help catch their baby. Idiots.  Somehow it’s my karma to end up in these situations.  As one after another would try to insinuate themselves onto my spot, the Native Americans around me would commiserate.  “Shoulda got here earlier, lady, right? Every year, it’s the same ... no manners.  Worse, you’re playing defense.”  I was pretty fairly pummelled by the end of the contest.

The digital photographers were also a problem.  Having an expensive camera does not give you the right to act as if the event is being staged for you and you alone.  No rope, no police tape, no propriety, no morality do these ‘digital monkeys’ abide.  It shamed me to be one of that group.  Some benighted individual was standing on a vendor’s table, trying to get a shot; I wonder what he crushed, and how expensive it was.  I would suggest SWAIA get a pair of burly volunteers to fend off these monkeys from the immediate stage area and surround.  The tyranny of digital seems worse than the tyranny of film, mixed with this modern adamant self-righteousness the tourist-mentality seems to breed.

But I live all year in a town driven by tourism, so this bugs me more than most, I would guess.  My plea is, be polite, be mannerly, when playing the tourist - or photographer.  You represent more than just yourself.  Your behavior dictates how everyone after you will be treated.

I’ll get that gallery up soon.  I have a kick-butt shot of Santa Fe in the rain, that I’ll post full-rez for the ‘fankids.’

08/21/06 • 02:18 PM • ArtsChildhoodGeneralPhotographySanta Fe Local • (3) Comments

NY Times Letters to the Editor:

Our Beautiful Racial Adoptions.  The racism isn’t always so subtle.  I clearly remember foster parents of my acquaintance (mostly white) hauling their little dark bundles around, being harrassed by their white neighbors, and spat upon by black neighbors.  The racism goes both ways, unfortunately.  It is a terrible shame, because in my experience black and other less ‘hybrid’ children ‘pick up’ faster that the white.  Smarter, earlier.  Nurture and culture rob us of many treasures.

The funniest episode I can relate, is a gaggle of white foster mothers, all sitting with black foster children in their laps, discussing the mysteries of “Sulfur 8” and settling on baby oil as the best way to care for African-American hair.  It is best, I think, when adopting a child of another race, to have good friends within that racial set, to avoid these and other pitfalls.  I’ve seen some raised in a relative vacuum, away from their cultures and/or races, and the culture shock upon entering the mainstream at an advanced age is cataclysmic. 

It is, ultimately not about you, the adoptor ... it’s what’s best for the child. They have a right to their culture and heritage.  Best immerse them all the way along their path of life.

08/21/06 • 08:30 AM • ChildhoodHuman Rights • (8) Comments

Boston Review:

The Forbidden Experiment.  Hmmm.  What of Helen Keller?

08/18/06 • 01:37 PM • ChildhoodPsychologyScience • (0) Comments

myway.com:

TV Found to Be a Painkiller for Children.  “The study involved 69 children, ages 7 to 12, who were separated into three groups and then asked to rate their pain on a numerical scale when they were stuck with needle used to take a blood sample. The children’s mothers also rated the kids’ pain.  Those watching TV cartoons reported half the pain as those who were being soothed by Mom.”

08/18/06 • 07:37 AM • ChildhoodEntertainmentPsychology • (0) Comments

SF New Mexican:

Councilor: Keep aerosol cleaners out of kids’ reach.  Snorting Dust-Off?  I guess it’s one way to beat allergies: freeze the sinuses.  Listerine was the concern in my day, but parents and merchants were informed ... nobody ever talked about legislating children from purchasing the substance.

08/16/06 • 09:19 AM • ChildhoodHealthLawPolitics • (0) Comments

SF New Mexican:

Misconduct by military recruiters cited.  They use fancy video games on widescreens around here.  Just remember, kids, don’t sign anything.  Don’t put your pen to paper, don’t trust a recruiter farther than you can throw ‘em.

08/16/06 • 06:29 AM • ChildhoodHuman RightsLaw • (0) Comments

Boston Globe:

Giveaway shows demand for e-books is strong.  I was just having a conversation yesterday, realizing that whereas I disdain reading text on a screen ... perhaps the younger generations are not so limited.

08/15/06 • 08:39 AM • BooksChildhoodConsumption • (0) Comments
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