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    I’m an opinionated Grumpy Old Man. I enjoy the intellectual give and take that goes along with that, but have very little patience for stupid people (Note: there is a big difference between “stupid” and “educated”. Some of the stupidest people I’ve ever met have a PhD…). Beside arguing, I like to build things in almost any media. Right now I’m mostly building in wood, Lego, and a bunch of different electronic media. I teach in a number of different venues - from preschool all the way through graduate school. Subjects range from talmud to neuroscience to engineering.

    For fun, I like to bash people with swords (OK, so they’re made of foam. It’s still fun). Although I spend a lot of my time in a wheelchair, I manage to keep pretty active (Like bashing people with swords). I am a libertarian, and have a hard time finding anything good to say about government or politicians. OK, politicians might make good sausage, but that's about as good as it gets.

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13 year old strip searched for Ibuprofin?

OK folks, get this:

A student at a junior high school is caught with Ibuprofen. The school has a zero tolerance policy for ANY medication. The student claims that the pills belong to another girl. The second girl is called to the principle’s office, and is subjected to a search. Not just her backpack and locker, but her body – a full strip search.

So, we all know that the whole “war on drugs” thing has gotten so extreme that it borders on insanity, but folks, this was IBUPROFIN, and I’m sorry, there just isn’t anyway to justify a strip search – especially based on the accusation of some other kid who is trying to stay out of trouble. Think about it – if YOU knew that you were facing the likes of a strip search, and all you had to do was point your finger at someone else (especially in middle school), how fast would YOUR finger be flipping out?

The thing that is even more amazing is that the courts have (for the most part)  supported the school’s right to carry out this search. Fortunately, the Supreme court had the decent sense to actually uphold the fourth amendment (which protects you from unreasonable search). Unfortunately, they also upheld a lower court ruling that the perpetrators could not be held personally liable for their actions. Sorry folks, even in the army in a war zone, following an order that you know is illegal will get you in a rash of hurt. “Just following orders” didn’t cut it at Nuremberg, and it certainly doesn’t hold water here.

I don’t know what has happened to the school officials involved in this incident – it took place in 2003 in rural Arizona. At the very least, I hope they lost their jobs. What SHOULD have happened is that every single school official involved (including the school board members and teachers union members that supported the perpetrators) should have simply been lynched. Now THAT is a nice clear message that no school official in the country could possibly misinterpret. Couple nice news pics of a bunch of bureaucrats hanging from the local live oak would make national headlines and make sure that any school official thought twice about this type of abuse of power. If lynching is too strong for you, I guess I could settle for burning them out of their homes, applying a liberal dose of tar and feathers, and running them out of town. Lets face it folks, in any other venue, these  thugs would have been labeled as sexual predators, face major jail time, and a lifetime of being labeled as perverts. Of course, in this case, it would all be justified.

Folks, our school systems suck, and they are eviscerating anything resembling our children’s civil and constitutional rights. As citizens, it is our responsibility to make sure that the legal system does not simply sit idly by and allow this type of abuse. If and when the legal system DOES let criminals like this off the hook, it is OUR job as citizens to protect our children from these predators.

“Rural Arizona” is an area that tends to have a large number of folks that understand the failings of the legal system, and I certainly hope that a few of them had the balls to polish off their shotguns and demonstrate that in some cases, vigilante justice is not only justified, it is necessary. Ladies and Gentlemen: lock and load. If I ended up sitting on the jury considering the prosecution of an individual involved in the appropriate disciplining of these perverts, I’d be proud to make a finding of “innocent”, and I’d be proud to to shake that persons hand.

The dangers of modern society or “why the Evil Ones want to use your kids as dog food”

Ok folks, time to put on the skeptic hat and rant.

For some reason, in the past week I’ve been exposed to 4 or 5 occasions where people have mentioned the drastic increase in day-to-day dangers that we are exposed to – especially with regards to the hazards out kids must be protected from. WTF? We and our kids are safer now than we’ve ever been before in history. Statistics for crime against children show drastic drops in the past 20 years, and violent crime against adults is also at near record lows. Of course, it could be argued that the reason we are so much safer now is because we all live ina state of constant fear and vigilance – our kids are safer because we never let them have an unsupervised moment, and we (as adults) are safer because ummmmm. I dunno, maybe because we spend all of our free time sitting in front of the tube instead of doing risky things like hanging out with our friends and neighbors?

Yes there are some”new” hazards that have presented themselves in the past 20 years or so – the ‘net is a great example. Of course, when I was a kid (when all we had was DARPA net), we didn’t have folks trolling the net for victims, or pushing porn in email. It was all available down at the corner, in the drugstore, or (if you’re catholic) from your local priest. The hazards aren’t anything new, but the advertising is. So why the freak-out? Well, in part, I think its simply because parents haven’t kept up with the reality of technology. When I was a kid, everyone knew where the “bad’ parts of town were, and could avoid them if they chose (of course, being kids, we HAD to explore them and see just how bad they really were – even then the perceived risks were overblown). Of course, now the ‘net brings the “bad” parts of town right into the living room – kinds like TV, but without the censorship it had in the 1960s. ‘Course, even in the 60s, my parents had TV shows that we weren’t allowed to watch (part of being a responsible parent is having some idea as to what your kids are doing). So, in the modern world of the net, why can’t we expect parents to have the same level of responsibility for their kids? You think facebook is full of pedophiles trying to lure your kid into a cheap hotel room? Simple: cut off Facebook. If you’re too lazy to bother keeping track of what your kids are doing online, you can download free software that will shut the sites off for you. Its called parenting, and it comes with having kids. Its YOUR job, not someone else’s.

OK, so much for the net. What about those predators that are lurking behind the bushes just waiting to grab your kid when (s)he’s waiting for the school bus? You know, the one that’s been out there just waiting for some irresponsible parent to allow a kid to be alone for just ONE SECOND because her Doberman Pincher needs some live food. Get real folks. The reality is that your kids are way more likely to be harmed by a FAMILY member than by a stranger. If you’re serious about protecting your kids, make sure they’re never left alone with their older sibling, aunts, uncles, grandparents, or other family members or friends. The kids are more likely to be physically or sexually assaulted by one of them than by a stranger. Kidnapping? O.nce again, the most common kidnapping are by family members (often in cases of separation or divorce) or by friends.

Now don’t get me wrong: there IS random crime and violence, and there is no way to avoid it. Nut jobs will always be out there, and there will always be random violent crime. The thing to remember is that it is extremely rare, and in reality, there is NOTHING that you can do to protect your kids from it. Some wacko decides to crash her car into the a store front, and guess what? It doesn’t matter WHAT precautions you’ve taken – if you’re there (or your kids are there) you might get hit. Some kid at a school gets fed up with something and decides to take it out by building a bomb, and there isn’t anything you can do to protect your kids, the school staff, or the random person that happens to be at school that day. Of course, the most likely source of danger to your kids is the car. That cell phone call you make while driving, changing the radio station, or simply being in the wrong place and getting into an accident. The most likely way your kids will suffer a serious injury is in YOUR car while YOU are driving.

So there ya go. Next time you see some rating-generating horror story about the one kid that was used as dog food by some whack job, put it all into perspective by thinking about he tens of thousands of kids that were killed, maimed, and otherwise damaged by the accident in the family car, in the family kitchen, or in the backyard – all while under parental supervision.

Yes, we all want to protect our kids (and ourselves) from unnecessary risks. If you really want to live in absolute safety, lock yourself in a closet, avoid all contact with any other people, and pray that your house doesn’t catch fire. Otherwise, accept the fact that life is inherently risky, and focus on living an enjoyable life. Take a chance and let your kids go for a walk on their own. Go for a bike ride. Do some of the things YOU did as a kid (and let your kids do them too). After all, you survived, didn’t you?