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Bird's Blog

Poetry, musings, observations, commentary, rants, confessions...and who knows what else!

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Location: San Francisco Bay Area

Teacher, writer, poet, grandmother, lover, wine-drinker, chocolate eater, beach comber, hiker, traveler, Giants fan, San Franciscan. All work on this blog is copyrighted material.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

News Bits

I've been on a bit of a news moratorium of late - but broke that fast this morning with a quick flight through a few online news sources. Here are three stories that caught my eye this morning:

Sesame Street is going global – taking its mission around the world. But just what is th
at mission?

Originally, Sesame Street’s goal was to prepare young children for school. Poor young children, though children from all socio-economic classes in the US were glued to the TV during Sesame Street. Along with numbers, letters, colors, these kids also learned, as Robert Lloyd of the LA Times points out, a world view of tolerance and peace.

They learned something else too: that learning occurs in short segments and must be entertaining. Sesame Street inadvertently has trained at least two generations now to be consumers of TV and entertainment, not necessarily of learning.

Now Kosovo, Bangladesh, and South Africa have experienced the Sesame Street phenomenon, and that experience has been recorded in a documentary airing this fall on PBS stations.

Revamped to suit the cultural and political issues of those areas, Sesame Street may indeed bring tolerance and learning to children in these poverty-, war-, and disease-stricken nations, but it will also capture and prime a new audience to become the chattel of entertainment and consumerism.

But maybe the ethics and mores of Sesame Street will shine through the glitz and entertainment, and youngsters will at least learn to do unto others as you would have others do unto you, something that, apparently, Jeff Skilling never learned and may now have a chance to reflect on (sans any TV, one would hope).

Yes, Jeff Skilling, former CE of Enron, has just received a 24-year sentence in a federal penitentiary (I love that word – will he actually be penitent whilst he is incarcerated?).

He’ll have a roof over his head, three meals a day, and healthcare (granted, rudimentary healthcare, but healthcare nonetheless.)

And his victims? Those working stiffs from Enron - not the investors but those folks who did their 40 hours a week, took care of their families, and were saving via Enron’s retirement plan for their dotage – they were sentenced to, as the U.S. District Judge who imposed the 24-years on Skilling noted , a ”lifetime of poverty."

Meanwhile, the global ecosystem continues to go to hell in a hand basket
. Can you guess which nations on the planet have the three largest eco footprints? Of course, you immediately name the US, but you might be surprised to learn that according to the Living Planet report, Finland and theUnited Arab Emirates also have mighty big feet.

And did you know that by 2050 we’ll need the resources of two planet earths to sustain the bio demands of the world’s population? Let’s see, will I be dead by then?

So while it may be hypocritical for the US to ask developing nations to curb their use of resources when we’ve already got ours, it makes sense. Unfortunately, those coming up behind us in development need to take a cautionary lesson from our story. But are they? Of course not. We are all greedy and want ours no matter what (even Sesame Street can't change that basic characteristic of humankind). No surprise there.

Well, what a lovely, cynical, and jaded way to start the day.



Blogger disguised said...

Although, who knows if purely wanting to sustain yourself is greed, which seems to be the case for many of these nations....

October 24, 2006 11:40 PM  
Blogger Peaches said...

Dr Suzuki from Canada talks a lot about the greedy nations.

Your Jeff Skilling apparently is going to appeal so will be held at home with an "anklet" on. As my partner said: How many black kids got that choice while they waited for an appeal??

Sesame St has been in Oz for 30 years. I am guessing that is how our kids had to be reminded that it was "zed" not "zee" and how I now can hear a slight American accent in our young teenagers. They use all the euphemisms of "cool" , "neat', "store" and many many more.
This is a great way (oh my poor nation) for the American 'culture' to be inculcated and reinforced in countries...
Next stop??? Big Mac country!!!

October 25, 2006 12:41 AM  
Blogger lettuce said...

yes, you have to wonder what kids in Bangladesh and Africa will make of the Street.

I see the force of your critique and concerns - though, of course, everyone does learn better in shorter segments, and if it is entertaining - or at least interesting!

Sesame St. was always , at least, to be preferred to Barney - our pet hate of the American TV kids imports!

October 25, 2006 2:23 AM  
Blogger Jack K. said...

The persona we currently occupy will be gone by 2050, but what persona will we occupy during that time? Just a thought.

Go here for more insights into this concept.

Swoosh. Or Vroom, Vroom. lol

October 25, 2006 5:36 AM  
Blogger Bird said...

disgusied - yes, for many developing nations it is about sustenance - but greed is mixed in there too. look at china. communist country though it may be - the big wigs want an american lifestyle. not a lot of attempt at developing while maintaining a small footprint.

lettuce - death to barney! i can't stand that purple thing - my kids never watched it. they did watch sesame street - one hour a day - usually with me. (though on rare mornings, we were all in bed, cuddling and i was really sleeping while they watched.)

shorter segments and entertaining - i have been wracking my brain this week - how to make lessons in combining sentences more "entertaining." but how many bells and whistles must i add and how short must the lesson get? and how can i do this for each concept i'm introducing? i am sometimes frustrated with the idea that i must "entertain" my students. i work hard to engage them, but at the college level -c'mon - the subject matter isn't always entertaining. and some concepts require more time and simply can't be done in 15 minute segments.

Lettuce and Peaches: is seseame street in england and australia the same one from here? or is it revamped for each country's particular style?

Vroom/Vroom - hahaha! the link won't work - darn. if it's my choice though, i will content myself with being stardust in the next manifestation of my life.

October 25, 2006 6:23 AM  
Blogger flic said...

Only eyedroppers can change that basic characteristic of humankind.

October 25, 2006 7:45 AM  
Blogger /t. said...

re: sesame street revamped -- it is here in canada -- we have canadian-produced 'segments' that reflect our culture, two languages...


October 25, 2006 9:34 AM  
Blogger Aunty Belle said...

Bird Beauty,
the sesame format is pernicious, chile'. Doan use it--all it really does is form them little brains to have SHORT attention spans--no tolerance for real lessons of perseverence, patience--Sesame Street is a scourge--no wonder we got "learning disabilites (I knows, they is such a thang, but ya' see what I mean--this short blast of info and then a change of topic--mmercy--no wonder li'l brains is busted up by age 7).

October 25, 2006 12:11 PM  
Blogger Jack K. said...

bird, sorry about the link. I tried it and it worked for me.

You might try the Michael's Teachings link at my site.

Hope this link will work.

vroom, vrooom.

October 25, 2006 1:07 PM  
Blogger Bird said...


link works now. don't know what the trouble was earlier. thanks!

October 25, 2006 4:49 PM  
Blogger flic said...

An eyedropper is a dropper for administering liquid medicines, especially one for dispensing medications into the eye. And this helps clear the eyes, and thus one can see better.

Hope this helps.

October 25, 2006 9:51 PM  
Blogger infinitesimal said...

You totally can send me their questions Boyed!!
And I will totally be sending your giftie this weekend.. Fo Sho.
I have not had a headache in 4 days!!!!! this is excellent for me.
You are gonna be pretty shocked at the source of this gift. A pleasant surprise for you.
Regarding Questions, it would be my pleasure to answer every question that you send to me.

October 25, 2006 10:07 PM  
Blogger Peaches said...

No we only got Sesame st exactly as it was for the Americans hence the affect on our culture, speech and attitude to 'stuff'.

I really find the Telly tubbies scary! So I can't complain about Semame St since I let my son watch ( with me ). He really took to Bert which really worried me. He found collecting bottle tops an interesting concept...he was only 3 at the time!

October 25, 2006 11:32 PM  
Blogger ThursdayNext said...

We are not allowing Jack to watch any TV right now...except for Sesame Street in the morning. He loves Elmo's World and CTW has great books.

I think Aunty needs to remember the difference between Sesame Street and nonsense like Teletubbies and such. We ALL grew up on Sesame Street...I don't exactly recall my brain being busted up at 7 years of age. If it was, I wouldnt possess a Master's in English Lit, now would I?

October 26, 2006 6:16 AM  
Blogger Bird said...

I think, as with anything perhaps, the isssue with Sesame Street is abuse. When parents use Sesame Street as babysitters and the only medium for early education, the outcome is mixed. My kids typically watched Sesame Street once a day. And usually, I watched with them, except on Saturdays, when, yes, I tried to sleep while they watched -but really - that wasn't too successful in terms of sleep.

But Sesame Street was a supplement to the "learning" they undertook at home: reading, coloring, pouring water and sand and beans from one container to the next, painting, singing, making "stuff" out of various materials, collecting leaves, stones, pebbles, gardening, working with clay, etc.

Sesame Street has its drawbacks - and among them is its now consumeristic orientation. SS's mission was to bring early education to disadvantaged children. Now CTN has a huge business in books and toys (and has had for years). Sadly, many of those toys are out of financial reach for the parents of SS's target audience. When Tickle Me Elmo came out on the market, kids clamored for it, stores couldn't keep it in stock, and the price was ridiculous.

October 26, 2006 6:47 AM  
Blogger Mayden's Voyage said...

Both SS and I were born the same year- I've never known life without it. I loved it then, and I enjoyed it even more when my kids were little because many of the segments were the same. I still knew the songs :) I almost always watched it with them.

As far as the marketing of expensive toys- well, just like everything else in life- if we can't afford it, we don't buy it. This is a lesson wayyyy to many kids never learn. Parents without the backbone to say NO.

Parents. They are usually the reason kids turn out the way they do...

October 26, 2006 10:03 AM  
Blogger boneman said...

Well, this here's one of the things I'm guessin' y'all ain't helpin' with.
Oh, we do what we can, but, in the long run, even some of the best minded folks screw the environment and sadly, most don't even realize it.

Right now, the very existence of this thing called the internet is powered by the likes of exxon and nuclear power, gm, ford, volvo,volkswagen,....dang!

Robots of Dawn starts out with a group of folks from inside the city touring the outside world.
I ain't so sure that it ain't so very far in the future, but what I do know is, I won't be here for the event.
unless there's reincarnation, of course.
Dang! Wouldn't that serve us right?

October 29, 2006 6:53 AM  
Blogger infinitesimal said...

I remember Buffy St Marie and Peter Max from my sesame street days.

October 30, 2006 10:20 PM  

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