In digital age, circus maintains flesh-and-blood appeal

Budapest’s international circus festival shows audiences are still captivated by the emotion of a live performance, Charlie Chaplin’s son Eugene, who heads the jury, said. The 12th Budapest International Circus Festival, with artists from all over the world, has performances from horseback-riders, jugglers, illusionists and aerial acrobats. And this year, it pays tribute to the 250th anniversary of the founding of the modern circus by Philip Astley, an English equestrian, in London in 1768. “The circus has a big show value. My father liked it and I think the important thing is you … must have some kind of emotion, and if this feeling, this emotion comes out, the public gets it,” Chaplin told Reuters. Chaplin was the biggest star in Hollywood’s silent movie era. Eugene Chaplin is one of his 11 children, and is a renowned recording engineer, and documentary filmmaker. In the opening act, Kevin Richter, a young Hungarian artist, performs a traditional horseback acrobat act, riding close to 20 horses in the circus ring. “The audience loves it that it is not a film they are watching, not some kind of edited recording, or a digitalised film… here acrobats risk their lives and this is a unique experience,” said Florian Richter, his father. Florian himself won the Golden Clown award at the 32nd Monte-Carlo International Circus Festival in 2008 with his own horseback act.

It’s refreshing to hear that the circus still has it’s appeal in this digital age..    🙂

Apple investors urge tech giant to help curb iPhone addiction among kids

Two of Apple’s biggest investors sent an open letter to the tech giant on Saturday urging the company to take prompt action to curb what they see as a growing smartphone addiction among children. Amid numerous reports about a mounting health crisis – both physical and mental – related to the entrancing qualities of smartphones, activist investor Jana Partners LLC and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System have asked Apple to create new ways for parents to restrict children’s access to their iPhones. “There is a developing consensus around the world including Silicon Valley that the potential long-term consequences of new technologies need to be factored in at the outset, and no company can outsource that responsibility,” the letter said. “Apple can play a defining role in signaling to the industry that paying special attention to the health and development of the next generation is both good business and the right thing to do.” The two investors collectively control $2 billion worth of Apple shares. Among their proposals to Apple: establish an expert committee including child development specialists; offer Apple’s vast information to researchers; and enhance mobile device software so that parents have more options to protect their children’s health. The letter cited various studies and surveys on how the heavy usage of smartphones and social media negatively affects children’s mental and physical health. Examples include distractions by digital technologies in the classroom, a decreased ability of students to focus on educational tasks, and higher risks of suicide and depression. The letter from investors comes at a time of mounting criticism about the long-term health impact of heavy usage of smartphones and social media – especially among children. While tech companies like Apple have remained mum about the addictiveness of their products, many Silicon Valley insiders have started to speak openly about the issue.

I think I feel dumber for having read that piece courtesy of the lazy and liberal Associated Press (AP).  How on earth is it Apple’s responsibility and/or fault if a kid is addicted to their iPhone?!?  Here’s a novel thought…  How about parents step up to the plate and be, well.. parents?!!  It is the PARENT’S responsibility to ensure their little rug rats are becoming zombies and wasting away their youth with iPhones, XBOXes, and so on.  The article suggested that Apple can’t “outsource” the responsibility.  Of course it can.  It can outsource it right back to the actual responsible parents.  Unreal…   Anyway, if you wish to read more of this mind-numbing article, and maybe lose a few IQ points in the process, click on the text above.

Taco Bell releases its own Mexican-style beer

Those who love Taco Bell and beer no longer have to choose between a chalupa and a brewski. The Cal-Mexican fast food chain has announced in a press release the roll out of its very own beer – the Beach Bell. The brew will be a Mexican-style amber lager that was created in conjunction with Four Sons Brewing, a craft brewer located in Huntington Beach, CA. The beer will be hitting the tap at Taco Bell’s Cantina store – the millennial-friendly minimalist set-up that slings booze and burritos underneath cool Edison lightbulbs. However, Taco Bell enthusiasts living outside of Southern California can hold their excitement. The company revealed the Beach Bell will only be served at the Taco Bell Cantina in Newport Beach, with no word on a larger release. Die-hard fans still have the ability to drown their sorrows, though — Taco Bell Cantinas nationwide sell a collection of domestic beer, wine and boozy “Twisted Freezes.”

Opinion/Analysis: ‘Whackapedia’ and its error fest

As a Wikipedia editor, I’ve made many edits and updates over the years to the American Civil Rights Union’s Wikipedia page without interference. So, imagine my shock when I was alerted this past Monday that someone had made the page revert to a very old version with content deleted and outright errors inserted. I went online and corrected a couple of things, but my corrections were instantly undone. Then, it got worse. On Wednesday, another editor removed a lion’s share of the content describing the ACRU’s activities and issues. Gone were entire sections on election law, environmental regulation, gun laws and religious freedom. Some of the worst damage was done to the personnel section. Judge Robert Bork, who died in December 2012, was updated as a current ACRU Policy Board member. So was James Q. Wilson, the celebrated political scientist who died in March 2012. On Friday, another editor restored the severely outdated issue sections but left the personnel errors. Earlier, an editor “nominated” the entire ACRU page for “deletion.” What might seem at first like a trivial nuisance is indicative of the power those hostile to liberty have over those who defend it. To a new generation, Wikipedia is Britannica — but without factual safeguards. Virtually all of the updates I added over several years were deleted. According to the site history, the revisions by several “editors” began this past April, and continued right up through this week. When I contacted a Wiki administrator who was listed as one of the revisers, I was told that because of my ties to the group (I am an ACRU senior fellow) I have a conflict of interest and could not fix anything myself. Instead, I should review a complicated procedure for suggesting edits — which may or may not be made. My request to restore my previous edits in order to correct the many errors was flatly denied. This is very serious business. It amounts to sabotage. When people want to learn about an organization or person, they often go straight to Wikipedia. While it’s bad form to cite Wikipedia as a sole source, it’s an excellent starting point for research on any topic. Millions of people access it daily, making it one of the top six websites in the world. If viewers see an absurdly outdated, sloppy page, it could deeply affect an organization’s ability to get out its message. Frustrated by the intransigence, I looked up Wikipedia’s conflict of interest policy, which is murky and geared toward preventing hostile edits that are defamatory or false, or self-serving inaccuracies, not edits of an entirely factual nature, such as listing current personnel or programs. One of Wikipedia’s cardinal rules is: “If a rule prevents you from improving or maintaining Wikipedia, ignore it.” In the essay, “Wikipedia: Ignoring all rules — a beginner’s guide,” it states, “Perhaps the spirit of the rule could be said in an even better way: Use your common sense over anything else.” Common sense tells me that fixing blatant errors is something that Wikipedia should appreciate.

One would think…  The takeaway here is..  Don’t trust Wikipedia!  Its usually a good starting point.   But, don’t rely on it.  I, too, have done some edits to correct some things on Wikipedia, and have gone back and seen my edits erased.  So, I appreciate what author Robert Knight is saying here.  To read the rest of his op/ed, click on the text above.

Report: 42 Percent of American Children Under 8 Own a Tablet

42 percent of American children under eight-years-old own a tablet computer, according to a report. Axios reported that the number is “up from less than 1% in 2011,” noting that, “Families with young children are now more likely to have a subscription video service such as Netflix or Hulu (72%) than they are to have cable TV (65%).” “10% of kids age 8 or under own a ‘smart’ toy that connects to the internet,” they continued. “And 9% have a voice-activated virtual assistant device available to them in the home, such as an Amazon Echo or Google Home.” The research, conducted by Common Sense Media, also discovered that 95 percent of families “with children age 0 to 8 now have a smartphone (up from 63 percent in 2013 and 41 percent in 2011),” while “78 percent have a tablet (up from 40 percent in 2013 and 8 percent just six years ago, in 2011).” The “digital divide” between higher and lower-income families has also started to close, according to Common Sense Media. “Since 2011, the gap in high-speed internet access between higher-income and lower-income families — the ‘digital divide’ — has been cut down from 50 to 22 percentage points (96 percent of higher-income families have high-speed internet versus 74 percent of lower-income families),” the report proclaimed. “The gap in overall mobile device ownership has virtually disappeared (3 percentage points), due to the number of lower-income families that now have a smartphone.” “Children from lower-income homes spend an average of 1:39 more time with screen media each day than those from higher-income homes (3:29 vs. 1:50),” they continued. “Children from homes with lower parent education consume more screen media than children from homes with higher parent education (2:50 vs. 1:37).” In a statement, Common Sense Media Founder James P. Steyer pointed out the potential benefits and risks to the increasing tech use by children. “In today’s tech-driven world, where things are moving so quickly, it is really important to step back and take a hard look at what technology kids are using and how they are using it,” Steyer declared. “Over the last six years, we have seen massive growth in media use and tablet ownership, and we haven’t even begun to experience the explosion of new technologies like virtual reality and voice-activated assistants in our homes. If we want to ensure our kids develop well and are successful in life, we have to make sure they get the most out of tech while protecting them from potential risks — and that means paying close attention to the role media is playing in their lives.” “It is promising to see many of the gaps closing when it comes to access to technology and devices among all segments of our population,” he added. “Technology is integral to success in our world, and every child deserves access to it. Over the last several years, we have seen the digital divide and app gap closing, which is a very positive development for our country.” In March, it was reported that 82 percent of children in “Netflix-only” homes don’t know what commercials are, while 38 percent of those in houses with a television were also unaware of the word.

25 weird and wacky jack-o’-lanterns to carve for Halloween

With fall comes pumpkins — and with Halloween comes jack-o’-lanterns. These symbols of the spooky season can be found in all shapes and sizes, but only the scariest or silliest usually catch our attention. Whether you’re planning to plop one on the stoop of your house or display it in a fall festival, deciding what to do with your annual jack-o’-lantern can be difficult. Do you want to make something terrifying? Or capture a celebrity likeness? Or, do you simply want to keep it fun and PG for the trick-or-treaters? If you need some help coming up with ideas, click here to see some of these weird, wacky and incredibly creative designs!


Opinion: Are you weak if you make your man a sandwich? This is why real men don’t marry feminists

Have you ever made your husband a sandwich? If so, you should be ashamed of yourself. Don’t you realize such behavior sets women back decades? That’s the message of a new article in The Daily Telegraph, entitled “When making a sandwich is a crime against feminism,” about an Australian woman named Maddie who asked a Facebook group of 26,186 mothers whether anyone had some yummy alternatives for her husband’s lunches, which she said she makes for him every day. Now that’s what anyone I know would call a nice wife. But that’s not what Maddie was called on Facebook. Instead, she was told she was nothing but a “slave” and a “1950s housewife.” She was also “weird,” as no woman in her right mind would do something so demeaning as to make her husband lunch. Click here to see just a sampling of some of the responses Maddie got:

And to read the rest of this excellent op/ed by Suzanne Venker.