Parenting classes in High-School

Traduction en français ici, "Des cours pour être parents enseignés au lycée".

 

This is something I came across about six month ago. We had a staff meeting and somehow, we ended up talking about parenting classes. I had no idea such classes existed.

Let's start by looking at some statistics about teenage pregnancy.

We keep hearing about teenage parenting being a problem in the US (and elsewhere). Actually after doing some research, it appears that US teen pregnancy rate have dropped 44% from 1991 to 2010. But this is not the case for every state, according to Reuters, "Mississippi reported 55 birth per 1,000 teens aged 15 to 19 in 2010, more than 60 percent above the U.S. average, according to state data".

Despite the lower rates, US teenage pregnancy is above most developed countries. An article published on CBS News states that "according to the Center for Disease Control, the U.S. rate of teen pregnancies is nine times higher than many other developed countries".

But what is the rate of abortion which would probably  change a little bit those numbers. Well, actually quite surprisingly the abortion trends are the same as the teenage birth rates. According to the Child Trends DataBank, the abortion rate among teens ages 15 to 17 declined from 26.5 per 1,00 female in 1990 to 14.5 in 2000.  But if you read a little further, the study states that "more than one-third of all teenage pregnancies in the US end in abortion". In other words, the birth rates might have decrease, but high abortion rates should not be forgotten as having an influence.

Complete state list, here.

So what are exactly those parenting classes?

I think that the name of the class is pretty straight forward. Those classes are optional (currently under debate to know whether they should be required) and usually offered in high-school, mostly to girls. Along with those classes, the students work at daycare and take care of "computerized babies" for a weekend. The computer baby is what surprised me the most. So here is a picture of what it looks like, then you have a set of keys to take care of the baby. And apparently, that baby cries every two hours, and it cries so loud that you have to take care of him to make it stop crying! I even found a Facebook Group called "The fake baby for parenting class is worse than taking care of a real baby"!

Now, let's look at what people say about them.

An article on eHow clearly supporting parenting classes quotes Graeme Paton, editor for Telegraph.co.uk who said that "teachers are obliged to teach parenting classes because children starting school are unable to talk properly or use the toilet". The article also states that "raising a child is a difficult job, especially with no training" when comparing the importance of parenting classes to English, math or history.

People who are against it, talk about ethical questions while other think sexual education would be more useful. Some other raise the question of the ones who have no interest in having children.

What do I think about it?

Well, I think that these classes should be only required for girls who are pregnant (and maybe their boyfriend) but they should focus on how to raise a child. The classes should be very practical, for instance teach how to change diapers, how feed your baby, etc. What I would also do is to implement classes as they have in Finland where you learn how to take care of a household and they should be both for boys and girls. They teach you how to cook, clean, make a budget, etc. This being part of the parenting classes, that way the parenting classes would be less stigmatized.

It is true that this won't help changing some ideas conveyed by today's society about teenage pregnancy. I think that the first issue is in the media. Why have so many reality shows about teenage moms? For instance MTV has four seasons of a show called "16 and pregnant".

There are also other techniques to change the perceptions about teenage pregnancy such as a program called "The Silver Ring Thing". To be clear, I am not in favor of this program, and I think that it is another crazy idea! This is based on Christian theology and tries to encourage teens and young adults to wait to be married before having their first intercourse.

What I am saying is that what needs to be changed is people's way of thinking and that those classes might not be the best solution.

Also, as I was doing some research for this post, I found that the company that provides those fake babies also has an "Empathy Belly Pregnancy Simulator"! They let you "know what it feels like to be pregnant. It is a multi-component, weighted 'garment' that will - through medically accurate simulation - enable men, women, teenage girls and boys to experience over 20 symptoms and effect of pregnancy". Interesting, right?!

Now it is your turn to tell me what you think about it.

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Did you know Wednesday?

Traduction en français, ici. Le saviez-vous du mercredi.

Did you know that the warning labels on cigarette packages have an opposite effect on smokers?

According to a brain scan study conducted by Martin Lindstrom: "cigarette warnings- whether they informed smokers they were at risk of contracting emphysema, heart disease or a host of other chronic conditions - had in fact stimulated an area of the smokers' brain called the nucleus accumbens, otherwise known as 'the craving spot' [...]. When stimulated, the nucleus accumbens requires higher and higher doses to get its fix".

"In other words, all those gruesome photographs, government regulations, billions of dollars some 123 countries had invested in nonsmoking campaigns, all amounted, at the end of the day, to, well, a big waste of money".

Information quoted from:

Lindstrom, Martin. "Chapter 1: A Rush of Blood to the Head." Buy-ology. N.p.: Doubleday, 2008. 14-15. Print.

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The Beagle Brigade:

Traduction en français ici, La Beagle Brigade

"A massive nose on four little legs"

The last two times I flew to Chicago International Airport, I saw these little cute dogs sniffing passengers handbags. The dog would always manage to catch a banana or some leftover food from the flight. What struck me and almost made me laugh was that the dogs coat said "Protecting American Agriculture".

Those cute little dogs are extremely valuable for the Custom and Border Protection in American international airports. The Beagle dogs are specially trained to detect any unauthorized food that could carry disease and be a threat to American agriculture. Their small size and cuteness helps them move easily and almost unnoticed among those hordes of arriving passengers.

The dog sniffs the bags; and if it finds something, it will sit next to it moving its tail and will then move to the next bag after a treat. According to the Wikipedia article, "experienced beagles have a 90% success rate,  and can recognize almost 50 distinct smells".

According to an article published on The American Dog Magazine, about 75,000 prohibited agricultural products are seized every year thanks to those dogs. The dogs have such a developed sense of smell that they can find a plant material packed with some shampoo!

At first, I thought that this was completely stupid because all I saw the beagle catch was a banana and some sandwich leftovers. So is this really useful? Did the meat in that sandwich really have some disease and did that banana have some dreadful fruit flies? "The Beagle Brigade" article on the American Dog Magazine states that: "Hall [Program Manager with the Canine Enforcement Program of the U.S. Custom and Border Patrol] said quite often passengers unknowingly bring prohibited items into the country, such as parents who have cut up an apple for their child to eat on the plane, or those bringing home delicious mangoes from their trip to South America. Most travelers don't realize it is illegal to bring certain agricultural products into the United States, but the Beagle Brigade is always on duty to remind them."

If most of the travelers are harmless why not just sniff the luggage before they get on the delivery ramp? Well, on the other hand, there are crazy people who bring interesting stuff. Such as a man who brought live snails from London or a women who had over 20 living birds in her bag... But are those animals that threatening? I guess it depends where they come from.

If I would have to make a non-rational statement, I would say keep the Beagle Brigade to sniff the passengers bags as they are too cute and I don't mind seeing them around when I arrive on the American soil. On the other hand, without them, I could bring back some saucisson! More seriously, I think they are very useful for detecting illegal substances such as drugs, money, and firearms. But I am still a little dubious about their real need to get a banana from a passenger who wanted a breakfast on his way home.

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Butternut Squash Soup

Traduction en français ici – Soupe crémeuse de doubeurre

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-wCkCNw9zz4Q/UGv5WpQdD3I/AAAAAAAABFQ/aEe3_dGTzSA/s1600/Butternut-Squash.jpgAutumn in the Midwest has some very special vegetables. One of the cheapest cost wise is the butternut squash. Organic butternut squash at Whole Foods is only $0.99/lb. To take advantage of the cost and the fact that the squash comes from the Midwest (and is organic), Helena and I have been cooking some cream of squash soup. I thought I’d share our recipe for this cheap and delicious dish.

Ingredients

  • one butternut squash
  • 100 ml of heavy whipping cream
  • 100 ml of milk
  • 1 tablespoon of curry
  • salt and pepper

Preparation

The recipe is very easy, however there is one time-consuming part: the cutting of the skin of the butternut squash. The best method I’ve found for cutting the squash is found here.
The blog is in English, but all you have to do is look at the pictures to cut the squash.
The squash should now be in cubes like in the blog shows.

Once it’s cut, the next step is to steam the squash cubes until they are very soft. When you put a fork in a cube of the squash, it should break apart.

The last step is to take all ingredients in the ingredient list and put them together in a blender or food processor. Make sure that you are confident that they can fit in your blender. If not, doing it in two parts is fine. Just cut the ingredients in half for each one.

Voila! You’re done. The soup is very filling, so even a small cup is enough to make you feel full. I’d say this is good for about 6 servings. The ingredients cost something like $4, so it’s quite economical! It goes well with salad for a dinner meal.

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Super Size America

This gallery contains 5 photos.

Gallery | Leave a comment

Marketing – Chineese Restaurant Brochure

Traduction en français ici, Marketing – Brochure Restaurant Chinois

Here is a picture of what we got in the mail the other day. We first threw it away, and then regretted it because of its interesting image we thought it was worth a blog post.

Stereotypes are not supposed to be something positive in most marketing cases, so why reinforce them… It is said that Chinese people eat weird things such as cats and dogs, so why not horses? Now that I think about it, they also have horse meat shops in France…

But most of the time, horses are not associated with meat but as an animal you ride and take care of.

So for sure, this restaurant managed to catch our attention, but it also reflects a negative image. In addition, it made me focus on the image and not the name of the restaurant or their promotion. Personally, I don’t think I will go eat there any time soon.

FAILURE…
Traduction:

Voici une photo de ce que nous avons reçu dans notre boite aux lettres il y a quelques jours. Nous l’avions d’abord jeté à la poubelle avant de le regretter à cause de cette image qui valait un article sur ce blog.

Dans la plupart des cas, les stéréotypes ne sont pas sensés avoir une connotation positive en marketing, donc pourquoi les encourager… On dit que les chinois mangent des choses assez spéciales comme des chats ou des chiens, donc pourquoi pas des chevaux? Enfin, maintenant que j’y pense, il y a aussi des boucheries chevalines en France…

La plupart du temps, les chevaux ne sont pas associés à de la viande mais à des animaux dont on prend soin et avec lesquels on fait de l’équitation.

Ce restaurant aura bien réussit à attirer notre attention, mais ils donnent également une mauvaise image d’eux-meme. De plus, je n’ai payé attention qu’ à l’image et non au nom du restaurant ou à la promotion. Je ne pense donc pas y aller manger incessamment sous peu.

UN ECHEC…

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Sugar Free Miniature Reese’s

Traduction en français ici – Miniatures au beurre de cacahouète sans sucre ajoute

 

Here’s a package I saw  at Walgreens today. Sugar Free Miniature Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Marketed for diabetics and people who want a snack but without the calories.

This seemed like every other sugar free scam I see in grocery stores in the US, but this package had some interesting text on the front. The first thing I see is the “NOT A LOW CALORIE FOOD” text right below the sugar free text. Not too surprising, because the food cannot have all nutritional value sucked out of it, right? But then I see below that what really surprised me: “SEE NUTRITIONAL FACTS FOR SATURATED FAT CONTENT”. I had not ever seen this “warning” before. It really surprised me. I tried finding some information for why this was on the package, but I couldn’t find anything. It reminds me of the cancer warnings on a pack of cigarettes. So I flip it over to find that the serving size is 5 pieces (44g, one candy is about the size of a coin) and the amount of saturated fat for 5 pieces is 6g. Now when writing this blog, I thought I’d talk about saturated fat, but I think it’s much more effective to talk about the ingredients, since saturated fat isn’t inherently evil.

Oh, and by the way, the “sugar free” part, is now “sugar alcohol” under the carbohydrates section. They even have a fancy arrow pointing to it.  What’s funny is that 20 grams of sugar alcohol still adds about 70% of the calories as 20 grams of regular sugar, so the consumer is still ingesting about the same amount of calories, except now the sugar is replaced by lactitol and maltitol. Consulting the book of knowledge (Wikipedia): maltitol is a sugar substitute that unfortunately for diabetics, still increases your blood sugar level at the same rate as sugar. So there goes the reason for diabetics to buy this product (which they should just be avoiding sweets in general anyway, not trying to work around it). And trust me, diabetics, you’re not missing anything by not eating this “candy”.

Now onto lactitol, the book of knowledge (Wikipedia) states that this substance is used by doctors as a laxative. There’s even a warning on the package highlighted in yellow: “INDIVIDUALS SENSITIVE TO SUGAR SUBSTITUTES MAY EXPERIENCE A LAXATIVE EFFECT”. Right below that it says that Lactitol and maltitol “generally cause only a small rise in blood glucose levels”. Now, deconstructing this statement, this could mean ANYTHING. Generally? Generally if you consume a small amount you mean? That’s when you get a “small rise in blood glucose levels”? Maltitol has a glycemic index of 52, while sugar has a glycemic index of 60, so how is that doing diabetics any favors?

So let’s go through these ingredients. The first ingredient is “maltitol”. It comes BEFORE “Peanuts”! Wow. Reese’s should call them “Maltitol Cups” instead of “Peanut Butter Cups”. After peanuts is chocolate made with lactitol. But the good stuff comes at the end of the very long ingredient list. Near the end we have “emulsifier”. It doesn’t even say what is used as an emulsifier. In the ingredient list are two other emulsifiers, which are not inherently bad, but then why is there another unknown emulsifier later? Right after that are “Natural and Artificial flavors”, which are very common on US processed foods. Again, completely unknown. Could be anything for all we know. Most of the rest of the ingredients are approved by the FDA and are fine at low quantities, but then again you could search the world your entire life and never find any of these things in nature, so why would you eat them? Most of them are artificial, and we have no real knowledge about what the effects are with prolonged exposure to them.

I guess what you can learn from this is to not buy processed foods, especially ones with warnings all over them. I wouldn’t even consider this food, since half of the content is fake sugar (20 grams of artificial sweetener),  and other artificial ingredients.

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