Last night was the third episode of the second season of 30 Days. The first of the season featured a legal immigrant from Cuba (who is now a minuteman) living 30 days with an illegal immigrant family. In the second episode, an out-of-work computer programmer travelled to India to train for and re-take his outsourced job. In last night's episode, an atheist lives 30 days with a Christian family.
These shows are pretty interesting. Of course, nobody changes their point of view over night. It's nice, though, to see people with opposing points of view spend some time together, walk in someone elses shoes, communicate instead of talk AT each other, and find some common ground.
Set your Tivo for the 30 Days marathon (7 episodes) this Saturday on FX (starting at noon eastern).
From a NY Times article of the same title by Dave Itzkoff:
â€¦100,000â€¦loyal fansâ€¦[attended] DukesFest, a two-day celebration of "The Dukes of Hazzard," the down-home comedy-adventure series that was broadcast on CBS from 1979 to 1985. The annual gathering (held this year on June 3 and 4) is an opportunity for viewers to mingle with the show's stars, trade memorabilia, dress in kitschy T-shirts or simply watch fireworks or eat pork products named for the show's corpulent villain, Boss Hogg. But among this crowd there is a smaller, more dedicated group for whom DukesFest is a kind of mystical calling, a sacred convocation for those who can find transcendence in an event as simple as a car leaping over a ditch.
Their high priest is Ben Jones, the actor who played the character of Cooter Davenport, a garage mechanic, and went on to serve two terms representing Georgia's Fourth District in the United States House of Representatives. After moving to Rappahannock County, Va., Mr. Jones and his wife, Alma, opened a "Dukes"-theme general store called Cooter's Place in the summer of 1999, and staged outdoor festivals there, honoring the series.
"The show had sort of flown under the radar for a long time," Mr. Jones said in a telephone interview. "It's timeless, except for the doofus haircuts. But a lot of people I know have doofus haircuts."
Then "The Dukes of Hazzard" underwent a resurgence on cable television and DVD. Mr. Jones relocated his store to Gatlinburg, Tenn., and the DukesFest itself to the Bristol Motor Speedway, a racetrack in Bristol, Tenn. This summer, as he prepared to open a second Cooter's Place in Nashville, he brought DukesFest with him, as well as an official sponsorship from the cable channel CMT and all the surviving members of the "Dukes of Hazzard" cast: including John Schneider and Tom Wopat, who as Bo and Luke Duke were the show's hunky young stars, and Rick Hurst, who played the bumbling deputy Cletus.
What little boy in the 70's and 80's didn't love them Dukes (and Buck Rogers too). I did. If I remember correctly, it was a Friday night favorite.
I haven't seen it, but I hear the movie was terrible. You can see a bunch more from DukesFest at Cooter's Place.
From a press release of the same title from the University of Helsinki:
A recent Finnish randomized population-based study shows that TV-viewing, and particularly exposure to adult-targeted programs, such as current affairs programs, TV series and police series and movies, markedly increases the risk of sleeping difficulties in 5-6 year old children. Also passive exposure to TV increases sleeping difficulties.
Questionnaires concerning TV viewing, sleep disturbances, and psychiatric symptoms were administered to 321 parents of children aged 5-6 years, representing the typical urban population in three university cities in Finland.
The results of the study have been published recently in the Journal of Sleep Research.
- All the families that participated in the study had at least one TV set. In 21% of families, there was a TV set in the children's room. On average, the TV was switched on for 4,2 h a day. Children actively watched TV for a mean of 1,4 h a day and were passively exposed to TV 1,4 h a day.
- Both active TV viewing and passive TV exposure were related to shorter sleep duration and sleeping difficulties, especially sleep-wake transition disorders and overall sleep disturbances.
- There was also a clear association between the contents of actively viewed TV programs and the sleep problem scores. Watching adult targeted programs, such as current affairs programs, police series, movies, series, was related to an increased frequency of various sleeping difficulties.
- Watching TV alone was related to sleep onset problems.
- Watching TV at bedtime was also associated with various sleeping problems, especially sleep-wake transition disorders and daytime somnolence.
- Particularly high passive exposure to TV (>2,1 h/day) and viewing adult-targeted TV programs were strongly related to sleep disturbances. The association remained highly significant when socio-economic status, family income, family conflicts, the father's work schedule, and the child's psychiatric symptoms were controlled for statistically. The adjusted odds ratios were 2.91 (95% CI 1.03-8.17) and 3.01 (95% CI 1.13-8.05), respectively. There was also an almost significant interaction between passive TV exposure and active viewing of adult programs (AOR 10.14, 95% CI 0.81-127.04, p=0.07). By contrast, active TV viewing time and the viewing of children's programs were not correlated with sleep problems.
From an AP article of the same title from MSNBC.com:
The reality: There is little clear data on how TV affects child development at any age, much less before age 2 â€” and even less research on computers for tots, video games and other now-pervasive electronic media...
"Content does matter. Television designed to enhance cognitive development does so," said University of Massachusetts psychologist Daniel Anderson, referring to the well-studied preschool shows "Sesame Street" and "Blue's Clues."
But, "other kinds of TV or too much TV may interfere with cognitive development," he warned. "Most immediately, we need to know the effects of very early media exposure."
The American Academy of Pediatrics says children under 2 shouldn't watch TV at all, and that older kids should watch no more than two hours a day.
Yet the Kaiser Family Foundation found in 2003 that two-thirds of children under 2 were watching TV an hour a day plus spending almost another hour on computer or video games.
Almost half of 4- to 6-year-olds had TVs in their bedrooms. And after age 8, "screen time" â€” TV plus computers and other electronic media â€” soared to 6.5 hours a day, on average...
There's little disagreement that violent programs are bad for kids, leading to fear and aggressive behavior, and that TV in a kid's bedroom leads to sleep disorders.
Other issues are confusing. A few studies suggest that baby or preschool TV might lead to attention disorders, because the rapid pace of programming alters brain development _ while other studies directly contradict that...
Among the suggestions offered Monday:
- No adult TV when youngsters are in the room. Rachel Barr of Georgetown University says parents think babies aren't paying attention, but research showed that when "Jeopardy!" was on in the background, tots' play was distracted.
- If you need to pop in a video for the under-2 set while you cook dinner, talk them through it. "Look, that's a ball, just like your ball." "Oh, see the kitty â€” what does a kitty say?" It helps their comprehension, Barr's research shows.
There's a recent interesting blog post by Greg Stevenson about moral stories and the entertainment company Walden Media. Here's a quote:
In our constant attempt to wring all complexity or ambiguity out of stories, we have traditionally defined moral stories solely with reference to the amount of sex, violence, and profanity present. This despite the fact that the Bible contains sex, violence, and even vulgarities, thus demonstrating that such things can be present in the telling of "moral" stories. We have largely ignored the most central element of a "moral" story, which is the overall perspective or moral vision that the story communicates. Failing to recognize this has led to many Christians embracing shows as wholesome (due to the lack of sex, violence, and profanity) that are in fact communicating immoral messages. On the flip side, it also leads to rejecting shows with a sound moral vision because of certain undesirable content elements (Buffy the Vampire Slayer comes to mind, as I argue in my book).
Atheist Sam Harris was the guest on The Colbert Report recently. A few weeks back I blogged an excerpt from an interview with Harris where he commented on Islam and civil society. You can watch him on Colbert here.
Harris began the interview by trying to establish that an atheist is not exactly an exotic specimen:
Colbert: Tonight I'll ask, "If there is no Jesus, then who carried me on that beach?"...
Harris: We're all atheists with respect to Poseidon. We all know exactly what it's like to be an atheist with respect to Poseidon. Anyone worshipping Poseidon, even at sea, is a lunatic...
Colbert: Your book is called the end of faith. Um, what do you mean by the end of faith? Is faith ending or do you believe that faith should end?
Harris: I think it should end. I think either you have good reasons for what you believe or you don't. If you have good reasons, those beliefs are part of the world view of science and rationality generally. If there were good reasons to believe that Jesus was born of a virgin or that Mohammad went to heaven on a winged horse, that would be part of our rational world view. And it's only when people lose their purchase on evidence and argument - when they have bad reasons - that they talk about faith.
Colbert: Well I've got historical evidence. The Bible tells me that Jesus was born of a virgin... The Bible is without flaw. It is inerrant. We know this because the Bible says it is without flaw...
Harris' main point seemed to be that society is not sufficiently critical of the harm caused by religion (for example, opposition to condom use exacerbating the spread of AIDS in Africa) because of the respect it gives to religious dogma.
The episode of King of the Hill from a couple weeks back featured the Hills going church shopping after their favorite pew at the Arlen First Methodist Church was taken by a new family. Among the churches they tried before settling on a megachurch were a fundamentalist/revivalist type meeting under a tent, a Spanish Roman Catholic church, and new age/progressive type (where they didn't even get in the door before turning around to leave upon hearing "Day by Day" strummed on a guitar). They eventually got burned out at the megachurch with the endless string of activities occurring virtually every night of the week. The frequent calls asking them to take surveys to find out how they felt about this or that activity got old too. They return to Arlen First Methodist and get their favorite pew back by encouraging the new family to try the megachurch.
I watched the first two episodes of God or the Girl series on A&E. I was afraid it would be silly or cheesy or a joke or a soap opera or something, but it's not. It's actually a serious show. It almost seems more like old-school documentary instead of new-school reality TV. Four interesting, dedicated, and like-able young guys are trying to make the agonizing decision of whether or not it's God's will for them to choose seminary and celibacy. Set your vcrs or Tivos for 1 to 5 PM and 10 to 11 PM this Sunday (April 23) to see the five episodes.
From an article on abcnews.com:
The more sexual content in television and magazines that teens are exposed to, the more likely they are to have sexual intercourse at an early age, a new study says.
The University of North Carolina study, published in today's issue of the journal Pediatrics, concludes that white adolescents who view more sexual content than their peers are 2.2 times more likely to have sexual intercourse by the time they are 14 to 16 years old.
"Some, especially those who have fewer alternative sources of sexual norms, such as parents or friends, may use the media as a kind of sexual superpeer that encourages them to be sexually active," the study authors state.
And, as similar past studies have noted, "one of the strongest protective factors against early sexual behavior was clear parental communication about sex."
The article goes to discuss various limitations of the study, chicken-or-egg arguments, etc.