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The Real Spending Problem

The Real Spending Problem | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it
Tax giveaways are the costliest benefits the government provides.
Kenneth Weene's insight:

Fighting the real entitlements. Time to close those loopholes.

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enjoy yourself
Thoughts and comments about making life even better
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10 Stunning Photos Snapped by Inuit of Their Homeland - Indian Country Media Network

10 Stunning Photos Snapped by Inuit of Their Homeland - Indian Country Media Network | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it
Northern Canada has long held mystique for those of us who do not live there. Its ethereal aurora borealis, ice-dwelling sea creatures and otherwordly land
Kenneth Weene's insight:
These truly are great photographs of the North. Enjoy them while I, baking in Phoenix's heatwave, wish I was there. 
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Lead Detected In Baby Food Samples. Pediatricians Say There's No Safe Level

Lead Detected In Baby Food Samples. Pediatricians Say There's No Safe Level | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it
Twenty percent of baby food samples were found to contain lead, according to a report from the Environmental Defense Fund. Pediatricians say there's no safe lead level. FDA is reviewing its policy.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
Two things of which I am reasonably sure. One is that there will always be contaminants in the world. The second is that there will always be idealists who want to remove them. So, while the best level of lead is obviously zero, we have to find a reasonable approach to reducing what is such a common residual. Plants are watered and that often means lead pipes or just lead dissolved over the years in the water sources. Lead paints are still in some barns and storehouses. For all I know, some lead may even be in the soil where the fruits and vegetables are grown. So, let's keep trying to do better but realize that perfection is not around the corner. For my part, I think the water kids are drinking is a much bigger problem than residuals in baby food. 
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How Farmers Turn Their Salmon Pink

How Farmers Turn Their Salmon Pink | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it
Farm-raised salmon would naturally be white, rather than reddish-pink, but farmers add a coloring chemical to their feed
Kenneth Weene's insight:
Wild salmon and flamingos share a taste for crustaceans. And, we humans have a preference for red proteins. It doesn't bother me that farm-raised salmon are being fed a harmless dye since I know I'm ingesting so many chemicals not only in my food but also in the air I breathe and the substances I touch. At least when I eat my morning bagel and lox, I can figure that like everyone else I will eventually die so how much does it matter. How about you? Do you worry about the dyes in your food or do you simply figure in the end you'll be food for worms? Speaking of worms, should we stop using embalming fluid and spoiling their lives? 
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Baseball and gun violence: Two of America's national pastimes collide in Virginia

Baseball and gun violence: Two of America's national pastimes collide in Virginia | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it

Since the start of this baseball season, approximately 3,120 people have been killed with guns in this country — more than four times as many people as the active Major League Baseball roster.

Kenneth Weene's insight:
Would gun control laws have stopped the shooter in Alexandria who opened fire on the GOP baseball team? Probably not. He used a rifle. Perhaps he might have had a smaller magazine, but that would have made little difference. Would less gun control have helped to stop him? I don't think so. For all the brave comments of some of the GOP staffers, there were police with guns on the spot. 

What does have to change? Probably America's obsession with guns and the delusion that guns bring justice. I grew up surrounded by the Western movies that taught one lesson over and over, only the lawman should be armed. I grew up in the wake of World War 2 in a zeitgeist that taught us we should all know how to use guns and how to serve in the military—at least we boys. But the idea that we should have shootouts at baseball games or murders in workplaces; those were not part of our world. 

Certainly, part of what has changed is the armoring of leisure. Maybe we played cops and robbers with sticks and cap guns, but we didn't have video games in which we could vicariously kill, kill, kill. We didn't go to movies in which murder and mayhem abounded. We didn't listen to music in which anger predominated. So yes, our culture and its leisure have been becoming more obsessed with violence.

And, we didn't grow up either with guns or without. They were there. Even many city-dwellers learned to shoot. The camp my parents ran offered riflery along with the actually far more dangerous archery. My father had a handgun in our home, a souvenir from the war given him by my uncle; and yes, he had the bullets. And while neither my father nor anybody in our close family hunted, we had many friends in Maine who did. By the way, we have a handgun in our home today and when we were younger my wife and I enjoyed occasionally going to a range. She, by the way, is the better shot especially with a shotgun. 

But, now our nation has become gun obsessed. "I don't know how crazy this fellow who opened fire at ___(fill in the blank)______ was, but maybe had we some method of national mental health system and some form of weapons control it might have saved;" has become a mantra. Of those over 3, 1100 deaths how many might have been saved? How about the wounded and traumatized as well. 

I don't think that the congress is going to pass some new law because of the shooting in Arlington. I wish they would, but realistically I know they won't. They may decide that they have a right that the rest of us may not have to carry weapons wherever they go without local or property owner restrictions. That's how American politicians seem to think these days. (God help us for that.)

In the end, however, it is only when we as a society decide that guns are not an answer to life and that using them doesn't prove our worth that the mayhem will end. Now, here's my thought. Using a gun, like rape and graffiti (yeah that disparate a list) are about feeling personal empowerment. Wd do things to feel powerful when we don't. For some of us, we may have sufficient control of capacity to internalize the need for power by playing a game in which we can excel even if it's against a computer or in my case by writing and creating worlds in which I have ultimate control. However, we all need to feel some sense of empowerment. That's who we are. 

The best way to feel empowerment is through success in life. Be it as an author, a salesperson, or perhaps a chef. One thing that Bernie Sanders reminded us about in the last election is that everybody needs to feel they have a place  and often that is through their job. Everybody needs to have a chance to grow, and usually that is provided by education. He clearly was talking about changes that could reduce the amount of gun violence. 

Also during that same election, Donald Trump reminded us of something that was also true, that government has become for many the enemy, that which is holding them down. I applauded his stated goal of reducing the bureaucratization of our country. As Kafka told us. Nothing is more destructive of a sense of self-worth than being caught in the web of the bureaucratic. And that would include the nit-picking of gun control if it is not done with a better approach. 

So, let's try to change our society's fascination with guns and work to helping empower all of our citizens. 
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Philadelphia added 2 new stripes to the pride flag. Here's what they stand for.

Philadelphia added 2 new stripes to the pride flag. Here's what they stand for. | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it
It's a small but important step toward inclusion.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
Today being flag day, I thought this might be a worthwhile post. First off, I have to say it: I think these two additional stripes are ugly, unnecessary and just plain foolish. If we are talking about a flag that is supposed to celebrate inclusiveness and the value of all people, why do we then have to add something to recognize certain groups? And much as I may try, I cannot say that black and brown, especially next to each other add to this symbol's attractiveness. 

Let me just add for the record, that while I generally respect the right of people to fly flags—with some objection to the Confederate Battle flag which has become mostly a symbol of racism and repression no matter what its supporters claim—I honestly don't like the use of flags. Why not? Because their very existence as a class has to do with the conduct of war and the identification of separate groups. Even the gay pride flag was christened in the struggle for equal rights. Perhaps, someday there will be a flag that represents us all. No, not the UN's flag that has also flown many times into battle. When that day comes, perhaps I will take a different view. Meanwhile, I wish pride to all AND a world a peace. 
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Iraqi Kurdistan-Russia oil deal could have major implications for region

Iraqi Kurdistan-Russia oil deal could have major implications for region | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it
The Kurdistan Regional Government quietly signed a major deal June 2 with Russian oil giant Rosneft, allowing Russia its first entry to the Kurdish oil market, which was dominated by the United States and Turkey.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
I have long thought that the Kurds should have their own homeland, just one more ethnic group that was divided up at the end of the First World War. Of course when the great powers were haggling in Versailles, nobody realized that someday those backward people in their funny clothes and riding donkeys would someday not only be sitting on great pools of oil but that they would also prove to be among the bravest fighters in the Middle East. Now, as the Kurds of Iraq battle ISIS and strive to unite with their compatriots in Turkey and Syria, they are also proving to be canny players on the international stage. And Russia, always looking to expand her influence in the region, is eager to do business with the Kurds. Will this irritate Turkey and the US? Probably a little, but the oil will end up going to Europe and we want the European economy humming. In the background to this story is, however, yet another interesting point. Where in Europe will that oil go? To Germany. Recognizing that they can no longer rely on America under Trump, Berlin is already moving forward on a path less tied to us. 

I do love watching the machinations of world affairs. I wish we had somebody at the helm in Washington who could play the great game. Somehow building golf courses in Scotland isn't the same level of scheming as dealing in oil with the Kurds, Turkey, Russia, and Germany. 
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Puerto Rico votes in referendum to become US state - BBC News

Puerto Rico votes in referendum to become US state - BBC News | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it

Photo of Governor Rossello and his wife. The US territory backed a non-binding referendum - but the final decision is with Congress. 

Kenneth Weene's insight:
Puerto Rico is a remnant of America's expansionism and determination to be a major naval power during the age of wind and coal. Taken as a possession from Spain at the end of the nineteenth century, the Island offers a secure naval base in the middle of the Caribbean and was a great source of sugar and rum at that time. Subsequently, its small nearby islands were good for naval gun practice. Now, not so valuable, Puerto Rico exists more on tourism, remittances from the people who work in the states and those returning with pensions—many from the military. 

To become a state, independent, or continue as a commonwealth under American possession: these are the options. Government finances and hopes for economic growth push towards statehood, but there are many who want either independence or to keep things the same. 

Clearly, given the current bankrupt condition of the Puerto Rican government, something has to change, but what? I'm sure that Governor Rossello would love some viable suggestions. 

For my part, I think there should be some alterations of the current status moving towards a better economic situation for the island to then be followed by a referendum. 

How to address that economic situation? Well, to begin with, I suggest coming up with an aid package similar to what the World Bank might develop for a country that needed assistance coupled with some tax incentives for American companies wanting to do business in the Caribbean to build plants and offices there. What do you think?
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These eerie photos of deserted golf courses reveal a new normal in America

From Las Vegas, Nevada to Mahwah, New Jersey, many golf courses are being replaced with housing developments.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
Darn, golf courses are going the way of squash courts and pistes (the strip along which a fencing duel takes place). What other sport preferences will change over time? My guess is that while money may be part of the issue with golf, maintaining those course is a bit much, the type of exercise people want is also changing. Look at all the fitness clubs, dojos, climbing walls, and boxing gyms that are doing well. Will baseball also disappear? What is the future of racquet ball; has that one-time craze been cut off? Soccer has risen; tennis seems to be holding steady; football is reeling, but that mostly from concussions. What do you think? 

Speaking of baseball, you might enjoy Horatio at the Bat, one of the short stories in Sweet and Sour. 
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Electric Cars Could Reinvent the Great American Road Trip

Electric Cars Could Reinvent the Great American Road Trip | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it
We drove the Tesla Model X SUV from New York City to the Adirondacks. Here's what it was like.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
I've driven across country a few times, but never in a Tesla.Somehow, I don't see this charging process as something I want to relate to. For one thing—and it's a biggie—I don't like malls and popular restaurants. Now if they would install those charging stations near scenic walking locations and good museums, that might work better for me. Still my love for dashing across America found its way into one of my novels, Times to Try the Soul of Man. You might want to read it with a piece of apple pie, but you won't get that joke until you've actually read the book. 
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Finland's new, weird school 'courses' say a lot about how we teach our kids.

Finland's new, weird school 'courses' say a lot about how we teach our kids. | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it
Finland hopes a simple change to how students learn math, science, and other topics could help kids prepare for the real world.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
Another great educational idea from Finland, help kids integrate what they are learning by teaching not just subjects but also topics of interest. Like most of that country's educational approach this makes great sense and it seems to work. Finland's kids are always at the top of the educational heap. Hey, America, how about we start trying to improve our kids' educations instead of worrying about who's going to get their version of god or history wrangled into book sales. We could even have courses on "evolution versus creation" and "climate change yes or no" and let the kids learn how to decide for themselves. Could American parents accept their kids' capacity to learn and think? Could American politicians give up trying to use schools to manipulate votes? Well, maybe after a new generation had grown up receiving good Finnish educations. 
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32 architectural masterpieces everyone should see in their lifetime

32 architectural masterpieces everyone should see in their lifetime | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it
Prepare to be stunned by some of the world's most beautiful pieces of architecture, which everyone should see before they die.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
I haven't been to many of these fabulous structures and wish I had. So many wonderful places to go, so many great places to see. What a wonderful world. 
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5 Syrian families didn't know what they'd find in Canada. They found the perfect town.

5 Syrian families didn't know what they'd find in Canada. They found the perfect town. | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it
This Canadian town took in stranded flyers on 9/11. Now it's taking in Syrian refugees.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
I've never been to Newfoundland, but I understand it is different, beautiful, and, well, different. Canadians often make fun of Newfies as being naive, less educated, and, yes, different. Still, there is something remarkable about this story and the warmth of the people in Gander. If the hundreds of thousands of refugees of the world are going to find homes, a lot of towns are going to have to step up. Yes, towns more than cities. Places where personal contact can make a real difference. In the meantime, it's nice to see the best of humanity at work.
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These Trees: An anthology of photography and poetry

These Trees: An anthology of photography and poetry | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it

Award winning photographer and author, Ruthie Rosauer continues on her journey through the gardens and forests of North America and Hawaii.

Join her on her marvelous trek and discover her latest work, "These Trees". Ruthie shares over 130 original images and the poems she selected to go with them.

Kenneth Weene's insight:
I received my two contributor copies of Ms. Rosauer's new book, These Trees, and wanted to share her website. I don't contribute to many anthologies, but how could this Broody New Englander resist a request for poems about trees? 
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When I die, recompose me

When I die, recompose me | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it
What if our bodies could help grow new life after we die, instead of being embalmed and buried or turned to ash? Join Katrina Spade as she discusses "recomposition" -- a system that uses the natural decomposition process to turn our deceased into life-giving soil, honoring both the earth and the departed.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
I think this an incredibly challenging idea and something I strongly support. I suppose that there will have to be some adjustments, for example removing fillings and implants such as pacemakers, but for the most part, I'm sure that nature can make better use of our bodies than filling up cemeteries. Listen to this young man's ideas and you may never see death the same way. 
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4 Things to Know About Trump's $200 Million Apprenticeship Plan

4 Things to Know About Trump's $200 Million Apprenticeship Plan | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it
New apprenticeships are being touted by President Trump as a solution to unemployment and as a means of closing the skills gap.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
I think that making more hands-on training available is a great idea. And, there probably are too many government regulations on apprenticeship programs, although I'm not sure how much of that is a federal problem and how much is state since many of the skills that rely on apprenticeships are licensed at the state level. However, the big question is where will this money come from when Mr. Trump's budget guts the Department of Labor. Oh, and for those who ask why Obama hadn't thought of this, he did and he had expanded the apprenticeship funding. One more thing that nobody seems to be talking about is that those skills are changing every day because of new technology. Employers may want to hire apprentices as inexpensive and motivated labor, but will they want to retain them if the educational component isn't up to snuff? That's why proper supervision of apprenticeship training is important. Once upon a time, it was guilds that supervised their members. Apprenticeships were long and often unpleasant, but at least there was a chance a youngster could actually become a smith, a chef, a clothing maker, or a shipwright and someday have their own atelier. Let's make sure that the apprentices of today actually have futures. 
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Breaking: DAPL Approval Illegal, Judge Finds - Indian Country Media Network

Breaking: DAPL Approval Illegal, Judge Finds - Indian Country Media Network | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it
Standing Rock Sioux victory: U.S. District Court Judge James Boasberg orders more environmental study on the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL); effect on operations uncertain.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
This case finding has great ramifications. In effect it says clearly that the agencies of the government cannot bypass the law even if directed to do so by the administration. Clearly, the current administration, unlike previous ones, has tried to circumvent the proper procedures of government and the appropriate levels of consultation before acting. While a person with ADHD may often be quite intelligent and may take the right actions, this doesn't mean that their impulsiveness is not an issue. Right now, we have an administration that is clearly ADHD and it is the proper function of the courts to slow it down. 
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This free camp is helping military kids who've paid the highest price learn to be kids.

This free camp is helping military kids who've paid the highest price learn to be kids. | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it
Face-painting. Kayaking. According to the camp's staff, it's the least they owe their campers.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
Boy do I have mixed feelings about this story. On the one hand I think it great that these kids get a week at camp. Because of the absence or incapacity of a parent due to their service to our country, clearly it's unlikely that these kids could have such a chance without financial assistance. And, it is probably difficult for the remaining parent to let them leave. However, there is another issue that I have to raise. Should their existences be constantly labeled by their parents' service? Are they to be "military" brats their entire childhoods? If so, how does that affect their self-concepts? Their expectations about the future? Perhaps, their preordered career choices? Is this part of creating a military class. Why can't these kids be going to camp with other kids, kids with who they share other interests. Read the article and add your thoughts. 
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Cheese dispute puts July 1 target for Canada-EU trade deal in jeopardy

Cheese dispute puts July 1 target for Canada-EU trade deal in jeopardy | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it
Plans to bring most of Canada's new trade deal with the European Union into effect by July 1 may be unravelling due to a new dispute over who gets to import EU cheese.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
Okay, we're talking cheese here; and there's no topic about which I'm more passionate. I love cheese; never met a curd I didn't hold dear until it was eaten. Seriously thought, Canada is a major dairy producing country and that industry is very powerful. The dairy industry is saying to the Europeans, you send us much of your product for processing and distribution rather than you coming out with your own final brands. This means that all those small but wonderful products won't get advanced, only the basic stuff from the big European producers. How does that really help anyone? Having once sampled the cheeses of France, and that's only one country, I have to tell you that were I in Montreal or any other cosmopolitan city in Canada and I saw this plan I would be as angry as the Europeans. Protecting a country's industries is fine, but dans l'intéret d'un dieu we're talking fromage, cheese, the stuff of gods not cheetos.
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Where to find the best ice cream across the U.S.

Where to find the best ice cream across the U.S. | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it
We've got your summer to-do list right here.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
Ice Cream. What more is there to say? I love the stuff and try to not eat much of it. Anyway, if you're traveling this summer, there are some great scoops to be had. I wonder if my physicians would okay a road trip, Hmm, I could just do California's best for a couple of weeks. Wait, what about the rest of the coast and a quick jaunt over to Colorado. Oh hell, I do love a good sundae. How about you? What's your favorite? Mine is hot fudge on coffee ice cream. Yes on the whipped cream if it's real and definitely walnuts. Wait a minute, what about the cherry on top. Being from Boston, I also want jimmies, what the rest of the world calls sprinkles. Now that's good eating. 
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This is how people reacted when a guy wrote 'Trump' on a New York sidewalk in dry ice.

This is how people reacted when a guy wrote 'Trump' on a New York sidewalk in dry ice. | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it
Five hours after artist David Datuna wrote the president's name, it was gone.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
An artist takes a stand for our climate and at least one person, his eleven-year-old son, gets a second message. As the auriga said to Caesar, "We too are mortal."  
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Russian Subbotniks dream of coming to Israel

Russian Subbotniks dream of coming to Israel | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it
After joining the Jewish people two centuries ago, the Subbotnik community feels that Israel should recognize them as Jews and enable them to immigrate.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
The Cossacks had reduced the shtetl to ashes. An old man, one of the few survivors or this latest pogrom, limped and crawled through the death-littered streets until he reached the place where the synagog, now destroyed, had stood. Making his painful way through the smoldering embers he went to where the bema had been, where the ark which had held the holy of holies had stood. 

"God of our fathers," the old man began to pray, "for four thousand years we have been your chosen people. Couldn't you give somebody else a chance?"

If these people want to make the aliyah, if they want to offer their young to the Israeli military and to take their chances against the waves of Arabs hoping to destroy the Jewish state, how perverse it seems to me to be for the rabbis to object. 

Beyond that, have the people of Israel forgotten the tale of Ruth the convert who chooses her commitment to Israel over returning to her own people? 

I don'g go Biblical very often, but I surly think that this is a story of great emotional force. For another religion based story, you can check out my novel Widow's Walk, the story of one woman's faith and questioning. 
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Trump accuses Comey of lying to Congress - BBC News

Trump accuses Comey of lying to Congress - BBC News | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it
The president tweets that he was vindicated despite James Comey's "false statements and lies".
Kenneth Weene's insight:
By entering into a battle of name calling with Mr. Comey, Mr. Trump has now opened the gates to a simple question: Which of these two men is more believable? Of course, the fact that one took and shared contemporaneous notes while the other just shares tweets may influence our thinking. Whom do you believe, Trump or Comey?
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Greece hunts Colombians over hospital kit stolen in Athens - BBC News

Greece hunts Colombians over hospital kit stolen in Athens - BBC News | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it
A Colombian gang stole expensive medical instruments from hospitals in Greece, police say.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
Now this is a shitty side of the war on drugs. The thing that really shows how crappy these thugs are is that they are stealing medical equipment from Greek hospitals. Come on! Any one of the Columbian drug cartels has a higher yearly income than the Greek GDP. I mean, do they really need to steal the equipment? Meanwhile, getting back to the war on drugs, isn't it poppy cultivating season in Afghanistan? I wonder how many American troops are protecting those poppy plants from local gangs at this moment. Did you know that one of the best alternative plants that could be grown in the poppy region of Afghanistan is high quality cotton? Another is tobbacco. Did you know that the US government has a law prohibiting US aid workers from encouraging the growing of cotton or any product that might compete with American farmers?

 Here's a great Yiddish word to describe America's war on drugs: meshugge. It means crazy, mad, senseless, insane. Yep, that's the good old U. S. of A.
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The New Way To Prevent Anxiety in Kids

The New Way To Prevent Anxiety in Kids | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it
Researchers are developing new programs, based on cognitive behavioral therapy, with the aim of preventing anxiety disorders in children
Kenneth Weene's insight:
Lots of kids are anxious. Don't tell them everything is going to be fine. Don't minimize their fears. Do help them to figure out how to move forward. Do help them to learn the language skills they need to figure out how to cope. Do let them know that you are in their corner and know that it's not so easy being brave. 
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What to Do When Your Kid Says He’s Bored Again

What to Do When Your Kid Says He’s Bored Again | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it
Is your child ALWAYS bored? Put a stop to their boredom with these clever ideas.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
Parenting is never easy, especially not during the summertime when kids have so much time on their hands and so easily get bored. As far as it goes, this is a helpful article with ideas about how to deal with your child's boredom. BUT! What about reading a book? Listening to music? Practicing an instrument. Sure, we want kids to grow up feeling special and creative, but they should also grow up appreciating the creativity of others and the value of discipline as part of being creative. Anyway, hope you and your kids have a wonderful summer. 
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