Weak Broth, Meaty Chunks: Hugs, Water, Malls, and Drills

Observation StewI was on vacation last week. This meant that I was out doing things — or more purposefully, not doing things — and not on the computer. There were a few articles that caught my eye… and most are worthy of some discussion:

  • What’s A Matter With Kids These Days. I was really taken — and saddened — by this opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times. It talked about how camp counselors these days can no longer hug our kids. It made me long for the simpler days of my childhood — when children could run around neighborhoods, and emotion could be shown. I was a camp counselor, and there were times you hugged your kids because there was that strong relationship, or they needed comforting and you were the ersatz parent substitute. But the fear of litigation and the fear of predators — and in general, the whole business of promoting fear — has made us afraid to do it, and afraid of the litigation that might result if the child tells their parents. It’s sad that our society today is like that. But, on the other hand, do I want that simpler society? On vacation, I read the book “Space” by James Michner, and it was a bit prescient in predicting the growth of religion, the growth in the people who believe that the Bible is science, and the growth of the hatred of others. Wanting simpler days is code for not wanting the complexity and difficulties science brings. Technology — either in the form of the Internet or TV reporting — has brought the predators out into the open. Whether there are more now than before is unknown, but we see them now and we talk about them more. We’re still on the fear side of the pendulum swing, but I hope the day will come when we don’t have to worry about the predators, and those who are caregivers to children can feel safe comforting them with a hug. A fist bump just doesn’t cut it.
  • With Money Comes Water. California is in a bad drought. We’ve had them before, and this is likely cyclical, but the situation seems worse than before. This is likely because there is a greater awareness of groundwater depletion — in previous droughts, we just worried about the reservoir levels and assumed there was plenty of groundwater. We now know this isn’t the case; wells in East Porterville CA have already gone dry and they are living on bottled water. Further, there is the quest for oil and the use of fracking to get it — they believe it is safe, but it has contaminated ground water before. Just imagine how bad a drought would be if we couldn’t augment reservoirs with groundwater. So it is a little galling to read articles like this one: “Lifestyles of the Rich and Parched: How the Golden State’s 1 percenters are avoiding the drought.” They waste the water because they can afford to waste the water, or they pay to truck in additional water so they can continue their profligate ways. This is wrong. We hope that the people we tend to present as celebrities will also serve as role models; it is sad when they do not.
  • Ah, for the Days of Bratskeller and College Books. There are many who feel that one of the factors leading to the demise of Westwood as a college town was the rebirth of the Third Street Prominade in Santa Monica (others blame it on the gang violence that overtook Westwood in the 1990s, or the outrageous rents that are charged). We forget that the Prominade was once as forlorn as Westwood. Here’s what the Prominade looked like in the 1960s and 1970s, before the days of the Gap and Santa Monica Place. Let’s hope that the community in Westwood can revitalize that community as Santa Monica did.
  • Drilling Down This last article is a little less thought provoking, and a bit more referential. However, some might call it revolutionary, and others might just say I should chuck it. I fear that if I keep with these puns, someone will give me the shaft. But I make them still, because the guide is a guide to drill bits and drilling. That reminds me… I’m seeing the dentist on Friday.