Tag Archives: Slate

D.A.R.E. to make healthy choices

15 Mar

Earlier, I posted asking people to vote for my proposal to curb childhood obesity on Slate.  Unfortunately, I had to post quickly, and didn’t get a chance to fully explain it.  Slate’s Time to Trim Hive is “a project to crowdsource solutions to childhood obesity.”  They asked for readers to submit proposals and for others to vote on them.

Here’s my proposal:

We have D.A.R.E. to teach kids to say no to drugs. In D.A.R.E. we teach them what drugs really do to their bodies and how to make responsible decisions. We need a similar program about food, exercise, and physiology. Kids need to learn that sugar and caffeine can be dangerous and addicting. Let’s teach them about blood sugar levels and how foods interact. They need to learn about the impact that different types of foods have on their bodies and how what they eat can affect how they feel. Let’s teach them to make reasonable, moderate choices. And, like D.A.R.E., let’s do it in a positive way. Some bodies are just built heavier than others. Some kids won’t be skinny, no matter what they do. And that’s okay. This class can’t be another time (joining gym, health, and sports) where fat kids are made to feel stigmatized. We need to include information on metabolism and how everyone’s body is different. How it’s about health, not weight. So, let’s sit down with Michael Pollan and Michelle Obama and other leaders interested in the subject and develop a curriculum. Let’s find some sponsors to help us roll it out across the county across all levels of our schools. (Bill Gates, I’m looking at you.) Let’s start it early and make it fun and interesting. Like D.A.R.E., we’ll reach kids on their levels, introducing some concepts in elementary school and building on their knowledge as they grow older. Let’s have kids running home to share the information with their parents. As the program expands, we can add parental education components and engage local communities in the discussion. (Oh, and we’ll also give out awesome T-shirts.)

Click here to vote for my submission.  Remember you can vote using your Facebook, Gmail, Twitter, or Yahoo information.  Also, it looks like I only need about 30 more votes to move into the finals.  So, please, Share on Facebook with your friends.

Does anonymity cut down on trolls or community?

11 Mar

Troll in the dungeon, er comments.

Slate‘s Farhad Manjoo recently wrote a piece called Troll, Reveal Thyself in which he makes the case for ending the practice of anonymous commenters on the internet.  His argument can be summed up by saying that requiring people to post comments under their true identity leads to less trolling and an overall higher standard of commentary and discussion.  Generally, I agree.  And, it seems like most of Slate’s commenters (the majority of whom log in via Facebook, thus sharing their identity) do as well.

Farhad briefly spoke to the idea that some parts of the internet are best used anonymously.  “I’m not calling for constant transparency. If you’re engaging in private behavior—watching a movie online, posting a dating profile, gambling, or doing anything else that the whole world shouldn’t know about—I support and celebrate your right to anonymity. But posting a comment is a public act.”

And that’s where he and I disagree.  Unfortunately I believe that their are whole realms of the internet ( not the tech blogs and news sites that Farhad covers) , where forced anonymity in commenting would destroy community and the sense of belonging that people find there.

Here’s the comment that I,using my real identity via by Facbeook credentials, posted in response:

Generally, I agree with Farhad that tying comments to identity leads to higher quality commenting. But, I think that there are some topics that are better explored anonymously. A lot of people use the internet to reach out to communities and to discover parts of themselves that they are not yet comfortable with admitting to themselves, let alone the rest of the world.

I wrote my thesis on fanfiction and fan communities on the internet. So many teenagers use them as places to explore their identity, particularly their sexuality. With the stigmas that can be associated with having any sort of non-heterosexual gender orientation, requiring verifiable identity would rob young people (and some older people, too) of a place to find themselves without worrying about negative reactions from parents, friends, etc.

Online communities and message boards can also be a great way for people coping with eating disorders or weight issues to connect and to explore their thoughts and feelings. I’ve recently spent a lot of time exploring the Healthy At Every Size community. While the community has visible (non-anonymous) leadership, it seems that a lot of the people who are participating on the margins and trying to come to terms with their body would be driven to lurking if their real identity was required for their participation. After all, who wants all of their Facebook friends to know that they’re having body image issues?

No responses on Slate yet.  (It’s only been up a few minutes.)


Update: Apparently my comment went over rather well on Slate.  Two people liked it (which almost never happens there) and someone posted this:

As other commenters have pointed out, the adage about not saying anything you’d be ashamed to say in front of your mom doesn’t only apply to obscene, hateful, or rude speech – it often applies to personal or intimate topics that aren’t necessarily inappropriate for a public forum or comments section.

Maybe this is why Wyoming is happy… or at least not depressed?

9 Mar

Slate is reporting that Wyoming has one of the lowest rates of childhood obesity in the country.  They’re doing an ongoing series through The Hive (the tagline for The Hive is “Collective Wisdom”, but I can’t really figure our what separates it from slate aside from the annoying blue bar and the hexagon at the top of the screen) about the epidemic of childhood obesity facing our country.  You can play with their interactive map, read all kids of stats, and make suggestions for improvements.

Sadly, I have not found any statistics on the rate of pineapple eating…


The Hunger Games – not yet in production and already causing controverty

5 Mar

Slate has an article today called “Casting Katniss“.  For those of you who don’t  read young adult fantasy books (and why oh why don’t you?), Katniss Everdeen is the main character of The Hunger Games, a recently completed YA trilogy by Susan Collins.

While not original (it has all the basic bildungsroman tropes.  Dead father?  Check.  Kid send on a mission with no one else to rely on?  Check.  The weight of the world resting on the outcome of that mission?  Check.), it’s a fast and thoroughly enjoyable read.  Katniss is a female Harry Potter.  A Bella with a sense of agency and self worth.  (My thoughts on Bella and Twilight shall wait for another time…)  In all – she’s a pretty kick ass heroine.

So, now they’re searching for an actress to play our beloved heroine in the movie version.  (Why does there always have to be a movie version?)  And the drama is all about what race the actress should be.  Maybe it’s my privilege showing, but I didn’t consider Katniss’s race at all when I read the books.  She’s described as having dark hair, but her mom and sister are blonde.  I guess I thought she kind of looked like she was from Italy, if I had to pick somewhere.  But, apparently because her race was never specifically defined, fans of the series came up with very different ideas about what she looks like.  (Really this is one of the best parts of fiction, being able to read into it, and bring to it, whatever you like.  To see yourself in the character.)  This is the Blaise Zabini business all over again.  But, I don’t think Blaise was ever shown in the movies.  Was he?

Apparently Jennifer Lawrence of Winter’s Bone is the lead candidate right now, and she’s as blonde as blonde can be.  Maybe they’ll dye her hair?

While reading the books, the only character that I could clearly picture was Prim, Katniss’s little sister.  In my head she was Pim, Phil’s little sister from Phil of the Future.  Maybe it was just because the names were so similar…

Anyway, if you haven’t read the books, they’re great to lose yourself in.  And, read them before the movie comes out.  That way you, too, can complain about the casting decisions.



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