Sunday, June 30, 2013

Class Diagnosis | a small idea from Raising Adults

One of the biggest social challenges for adolescents stems from something called Class Diagnosis. Class Diagnosis is what happens when we group people by some  shared characteristic—age, gender, ethnicity, religious identity, national origin—and then assume they all share other characteristics as well because they’re in the group. It’s not that Class Diagnosis is completely without basis...we’re not giving anything away by acknowledging that old people tend to have more life experience than young people. It becomes a problem when it becomes a stereotype, a short cut, an easy answer to a complicated question: He’s young, what does he know?
I think Class Diagnosis seems most dangerous in the hands of politicians and social scientists because some of them have the power to lock kids up, or drug them, or establish law enforcement standards that are out of line. It was Class Diagnosis when people my age were young and they called us The Me Generation. We hardly had a chance to prove them wrong or right. Apparently it sounded right, and they just went with it.
Class Diagnosis happened again when marketeers jumped on Douglas Coupland’s novel Generation X. They weren’t trying to understand; they were looking for market share, trying to get their hands on the 125 billion dollars young Americans were spending each year. Coupland wrote a eulogy for the term Generation X:

The problems started when trendmeisters everywhere began isolating small elements of my characters’ lives—their offhand way of handling problems or their questioning of the status quo—and blew them up to represent an entire generation…Around this time my phone started ringing with corporations offering from $10,000 and up to talk on the subject of How to Sell to Generation X. I said no. (The Gap asked me to do an ad. It was tempting, but I politely refused.) In late 1991, after both political parties had called to purchase advice on X, I basically withdrew from the whole tinny discourse. And now I’m here to say that X is over.
Details Magazine,June, 1995, page 72

For Douglas Coupland Generation X was never about demographics or even generations. He borrowed the term from the last chapter of Paul Fussel’s funny book about America’s classless society, aptly titled Class. Thus, Generation X is a distributed category of people who don’t fit in any generation because they won’t fit in; a fifth column of people whose values run counter to the current culture. If anyone ever called you a hippy (and meant it) that probably sounds familiar.
Of course the question remains: How do we sell them stuff?
And now it’s happening yet again to the people known as Millennials (or, more lazily in my estimation, GenY—you know, the one that comes after X).
What’s shocking is that parents, grandparents, teachers, coaches, youth workers and everyone else who cares doesn’t raise a ruckus; doesn’t say, “Hey, you don’t speak for me,” to the hacks who make their living trashing a generation of people they barely know if they know them at all. Where’s the love? Where’s the loyalty?

— from Raising Adults

Saturday, June 29, 2013

in the wind | tweets from the week ending 06.29.13

Stop making sense | stupid Canadians + their sound banking practices

Seth Godin:  "Denigrating art you don't understand doesn't hurt the art-it reveals something about your willingness to learn"

Does this have the ring of truth? 74 assertions about Millennials compiled by Dan Schawbel

Senator Claire McCaskill: Justice against sexual predators does NOT equal a war on men

Fun + Games |  An online US map with the literal meaning of each state name (+ quite a bit more)

A parent's simple guide for talking with kids about alcohol in mass media from Common Sense Media

Sunday, June 23, 2013

in the wind | tweets from the week ending 06.22.13

take drugs... | a small idea from Raising Adults 

the next/next generation | researcher Neil Howe answers questions about post-millennial kids

Study: Cancer-linked HPV infections in US teenage girls have dropped by half in the last decade

The cost of US immigration reform ends up as money in the bank 

Hands On | Common Sense Media's list of 10 most violent video games

Friday, June 21, 2013

The cost of US immigration reform ends up as money in the bank

According to a new report prepared for the US Congress by the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation, it turns out that the budget impact of the immigration reform bill making it's way through the Senate right now (S. 744) lands in the neighborhood of $700 billion on the positive side over the next two decades. Alongside everything else, what do you suppose we could do with an additional $700,000,000,000.00 dollars? Read it for yourself...

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

take drugs... | a small idea from Raising Adults

Have we done right by America’s children? Sometimes. It does still seem crazy that one in five or six of our children grows up certifiably poor in the world’s largest economy. But the story told by most of the numbers, most of the time, is that most of our children have done right by us. Overall, they’ve done considerably better than we did at the same age. They should get credit for that. Maybe we should get some too.

That said, most is not good enough to protect and heal kids and families who aren’t doing well. Which means at least this: We have to look out for each other; we have to give better than most of us got.
Take drugs.... Hmm...that didn’t come out right... 
Let’s try that again: We have to look out for each other...we have to give better than most of us got...Take the example of drug abuse prevention and intervention.
“Just Say No” is dumb, naive, moralistic, wishful thinking that makes things worse for those who need help. 
Here’s something else dumb: 
Kids are gonna do that stuff anyway; the best we can do is try to make it safe for them. That’s why I let my kid’s friends drink at my house. At least I know where they are.
For the most part, kids who use mood-altering substances do so because they find a substance—vegetable, mineral, chemical; solid, liquid, vapor—that works for them. If they find more than one, it’s because on some level they understand the process of learned behavior. Never mind that abused substances don’t deliver the desired effects indefinitely—most kids haven’t been at it long enough to learn that yet—what they know is, they’ve found something that makes them feel good, or at least better, for a while. Adults who deny that cause-and-effect relationship look foolish—or dishonest—to their offspring. 
On the other hand, adults who simply roll over and permit alcohol and other substance abuse in their households give the impression they don’t care, and that feels a lot like being abandoned.
Helping kids find a way through this particular minefield involves staking out a space somewhere between Just Say No and Just Say Yo! That means treating our children like the intelligent beings they almost certainly are; capable of nuance, discernment and informed self-control.
While we’re on the subject of dumb and dishonest, let’s spend a moment on those people and organizations who secure their funding by creating the impression that all this is just too complicated for ordinary parents to comprehend and handle. Nonsense. I’m not saying there aren’t some complicated issues but I am saying that once we’ve heard the story behind the story from our kids, their behavior usually makes sense—not that it’s necessarily sensible, but that we can see why it made sense to them at the time. We don’t have to understand much more than that to know what kind of help to seek when we call in reinforcements.
— from Raising Adults

Monday, June 17, 2013

in the wind | tweets from the week ending 06.15.13

Think music can change the world? The ONE Campaign presents agit8: iconic #protestsongs by top global artists

"...close enough to touch" | Medgar Evers + the price of freedom

day by day, the American body count mounts while Congress looks the other way

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Get the Lead Out | The Newtown Massacre Six Months On

Friday December 14 to Friday June 14...

Six months from realizing the shocking ease with which 20 children can be slaughtered in just a few minutes to realizing the shocking ease with which US legislators can desecrate the names of those children through craven inaction month after month.

Is there a better time to tell your elected officials you want meaningful action to regulate the sale of firearms and ammunition through universal background checks — including internet and gun show sales — and funding law enforcement to measure results and ensure compliance?

P.S. This week, the number of Americans killed by firearms since the Newtown massacre topped 5,000 while the US Congress continues to pretend there's nothing they can do. Are you okay with that? If not, tell your Members of Congress to get the lead out.

Monday, June 10, 2013

in the wind | tweets from the week ending June 08, 2013

Less is more | Annual servings of sugary drinks + cereals to US kids decline by double-digits 

guns guns guns | 4695 US Firearm Deaths Since Newtown

Affordable Health Coverage | Coming Soon to a Household Near You 

I support 'Can music change the world?'

Digital Deceptions | Macfee report on kids misleading parents about online behavior + what to do

I'm not sure there's any number of Facebook likes that can replace a hug. - Seth Godin

aren't you glad to be alive? | different doesn't have to be scary 

pay me now or pay me later | US student loans at the crisis point 

Thumbwars | peer-to-peer campaign to end texting while driving

credit where credit is due | a small idea from Raising Adults

Free iPad app Kindoma lets children read with parents, grands, older sibs-whoever!-from anywhere in the world

the killings | 4849 US Firearm Deaths Since Newtown

As of June 09, 2013, the total of US gun deaths since the December 14 gun massacre at Newtown reached 4,849.[1]

We lost 20 on June 1st
22 on June 2nd,
15 on June 3rd,
28 on June 4th
17 on June 5th
08 on June 6th
11 on June 7th
16 on June 8th
five on June 9th

We can make gun violence harder.

Tell your US Senators and Member of the House of Representatives how you want them to vote on background checks associated with the sale of firearms through the internet and traveling gun shows.

Senate email  House email

If you're still wrestling with the notion that guns are easy to buy on the street (so why bother with background checks for gun show and internet purchases), check out this argument to the contrary from convicted felon Matthew Parker.

[1] Slate and the Twitter feed @GunDeaths are posting data in an interactive record of every gun death in North America regardless of cause and without comment.

Saturday, June 08, 2013

credit where credit is due | a small idea from Raising Adults

When I first researched Raising Adults in the mid to late-90s, the toxicity for America’s adolescents could be easily measured in violent crimes, low achievement, high dropout rates, unintended pregnancies, the percentage of American children living in poverty, sexualized violence against and between children and adolescents, millions of sexually transmitted infections each year, eating disorders and self-mutilation, addictive behaviors and drug dependency: “God, I feel depressed just thinking about,” I wrote in the first edition. 
Most of those measures are significantly lower today (and, current data being much easier to access now than in those days, I now know the picture was already changing by the time of the first printing in 1999). 
For Americans under the age of 19:
  • arrests for burglary fell 61% from 1990-2010 [1]
  • murder arrests reached a sickening peak in 1993, then fell 71% by 2000, and another 20% from 2000-2010 [2]
  • aggravated assault arrests peaked around 1994 and then dropped 28% by 2010 [3]
  • drug sale/manufacturing arrest rates in 2010 were less than half their peak around 1997 [4]
  • forcible rape arrests dropped 58% from 1990-2010 [5]
  • weapon law violations in 2010 were half the peak level in the mid-90s [6]
  • the dropout rate slid from about 15% in 1970, to around 12% in 1990, then to 7.5% in 2010. [7]
  • from 1990 - 2010, teenage pregnancy rates fell 42%; births to teenagers dropped by half; and the rate of teenage abortions declined by 59% from the peak in 1988, reaching the lowest level since 1973 [8]
Among the mixed and negative indicators...
  • arrests for drug possession/use were much higher in 2010 than 1990—even thought the rate dropped significantly from 2006-2010. [9]
  • Simple assault arrests—assaults with no weapon and no significant injury—were much higher among girls in in 2010 than in 1990—and much lower among boys. [10]
  • at this writing, sexually transmitted diseases among 15-19 year-olds are a mixed bag, with some infections down dramatically and others up just as dramatically. Syphilis fell to three cases per 100,000 in 2011; gonorrhea   dropped to 388 cases per 100,000, chlamydia climbed to 1,886 per 100,000. [11] [12]
  • In 1990, 20.6 percent of American children under age 18 lived in poverty. 
    • That percentage rose through the mid-90s, reaching 22.7 percent in 1993;
    • then declined (to 16.2 percent in 2000), 
    • only to rise again, returning to 22 percent in 2010. [13]
Have we done right by America’s children? Sometimes. It does still seem crazy that one in five or six of our children grows up certifiably poor in the world’s largest economy. But the story told by most of the numbers, most of the time, is that most of our children have done right by us. Overall, they’ve done considerably better than we did at the same age. They should get credit for that. Maybe we should get some too.

— from Raising Adults

[1] Bureau of Justice Statistics
[2] ibid
[3] ibid
[4] ibid
[5] ibid
[6] ibid
[7] National Center for Education Statistics
[8] US Department of Health and Human Services Office of Adolescent Health
[9] US Department of Justice
[10] ibid
[11] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
[12] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Selected STDs by Age, Race/Ethnicity, and Gender, 1996-2009 

Friday, June 07, 2013

pay me now or pay me later | US student loans at the crisis point

graphic by John Uebersax
This year, student loan debt exceeded $1 trillion as the price tag on higher education has risen more than 1100% since 1978.

On Thursday, Senate Republicans blocked a vote on the Reed-Harkin Student Loan Affordability Act—legislation that would freeze federal Stafford student loan interest rates at 3.4% before the big July 1st deadline.

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren points out that, "...right now, a big bank can get a loan through the Federal Reserve discount window at a rate of about 0.75%. Those are the same big banks that destroyed millions of jobs and nearly broke our economy."

I'm convinced we ought to, at the very least, freeze student loan rates where they are. 

Even better, I support Senator Warrens legislation to give students the same deal we give to the big banks: the Bank on Students Loan Fairness Act — in fact, I'd like to see that made permanent.

If you like the idea, you can add your voice right here.

New college graduates can't feed the real economy if their contribution is preempted by overwhelming debt — meaning, if these 80MM Americans can't participate, we can't grow.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Affordable Health Coverage | Coming Soon to a Household Near You

Last week, California's new health benefit exchange released the first round of information about coverage and rates for people like me who are not covered by company insurance plans.

It looks pretty much like what we were promised in the Affordable Care Act—what my sputtering uncle refers to as Obamacare.

In my case, I'll be able to stick with my current health coverage provider (with whom I'm very happy, thank you very much). At a quick read, it looks like the policy will meet, and possibly exceed, my current coverage. The major difference is that I will pay less than I pay now.

This is not a government giveaway. This is what scale looks like. The 13 plans tentatively approved in California have looked at the influx of new business under the Affordable Care Act and identified ways to make a profit by providing a high quality service. Do they welcome the regulatory framework that holds them accountable for the quality of that service? Who cares? They see a clear path to making an honest buck. It looks like a win/win.

The next, more detailed, round of information for California releases this fall. Meanwhile, the overview booklet is here, and there's a cost estimator here.

If your state is behind the curve setting up its health coverage exchange, the California plan may provide general guidance on what you can expect.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

in the wind | tweets from the week ending 06.01.13

Teach the students you have. A GenX professor reflects on Millennial students 

Memorial Day | a small idea from Raising Adults

5 life-changing ideas for the parents of new grads

Update 05.28.13 | Total US Gun Deaths Since Newtown 

How Music Travels | the evolution of western dance music

Ypulse fact-checks millennial attitudes about trustworthiness in the news 

warning: the internet is (more or less) forever 

Piper Jaffray's 25th Semi-Annual "Taking Stock with Teens" Market Research Project 

"We are the lamest generation" | a millennial confession 

I learned it from you, okay! | a small idea from Raising Adults 

Saturday, June 01, 2013

I learned it from you, okay! | a small idea from Raising Adults

Deep shaft miners used to take tiny song birds to work—probably still do in some places. The reason for this has less to do with the sweet sound of chirping than the fact that song birds are delicate; a fact easily confirmed by any pet owner who’s found her feathered friend face down on the newsprint. Turns out this domestic weakness is an asset in deep shaft mining. The little fellas have tiny respiratory systems and remarkable but equally tiny brains. Said plain: toxic gases are sometimes released in deep mines—gases that kill people. Song birds keel over long before the fumes reach levels deadly to humans. So the birds are an early-warning system: If the singing stops, everyone heads for the surface.
Adolescents are often the first to succumb to toxic social conditions.[iii]
Look around. It’s not hard to see that for some teenagers, the song is over.
Much has been made of the rate of adolescent suicide. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, reported suicides among 15 to 19 year-old Americans rose from 2.7 per 100,000 in 1950 to more than 11 per 100,000 in 1988. What’s been less well covered is the gradual (sometimes unsteady) decline back to a rate of 7.5 per 100,000 in 2010.[iv]In real world numbers, that was 1659 American kids who died at their own hands in 2010.
Teen suicides don’t happen in a vacuum. For perspective, it’s worth noting that the suicide rate among the parents of teenagers is much higher—more than double the teenage rate in 2010.[v] Who knows when or if we’ll return to the levels reported in 1950...

— from Raising Adults

iii Granting that young children are more vulnerable to disease, poverty and armed conflict than the rest of us, adolescents are often the first drawn into the causes of disease, poverty and armed conflict.

iv National Center for Health Statistics:

v ibid