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Interesting Links for 05-06-2014

Original post on Dreamwidth - there are comment count unavailable comments there.

That children's stories thing has been floating around since at least 2006.</p>

It's good to see that a teacher of creative writing is casually plagiarising the internet for ideas...or maybe I shouldn't trust what the internet says. Which could be the basis for another item on the list, I suppose.

Both are entirely possible.

And thanks, I hadn't encountered that list before!

It's not to say it isn't funny - best not to get so jaded that I assume everything on the internet has been done before and, therefore, should be disregarded.

Although it sometimes feels like QI has done everything before...

If with the literate I am
Impelled to try an epigram,
I never seek to take the credit;
We all assume that Oscar said it.
— Dorothy Parker

Tomorrow, the Captain and I are getting up at before dawn to re-enact his grandfather’s D-Day experience.

I’m going to attach the Captain and his USian friend to a kite, fly it over the Meadows, set fire to it and have them jump from the burning aircraft yelling “Geronimo!!!”

I will use the opportunity afforded by the wet weather and the early opening of the local butcher to wade through thigh deep through cold water and blood carrying an assortment of deadly weapons and some bagpipes.

Anyone who gets in the way will be bayonetted or garrotted or set fire to because those are the sort of transferrable skills the modern 4 year old needs.

Once the Captain and I have rendevoused with each other and the French couple from number 73 we’re going to find gramps and kick him in the nuts, repeatedly until he puts his hands up and says “Kameradan, for me Tommy ze var is over.”

We’ll see how well suited a dead octogenarian is at fighting WWII for sure.

I shall look forward to seeing the results! You should, with luck, end up with a sufficiently traumatised child to engender a lifetime of bad decisions and right-wing leanings!

That's certainly what I'm playing for.

What could possibly go wrong by layering a third and fourth generation of post-traumatic stress disorder on the preceding generations shell-shock?

The children's stories not to write is mostly very funny, but it does have a few ringers on it. It seems to me that "Dad's new 'wife' Greg" is only a scary/bad thing for kids if you're homophobic and/or transphobic. And "The Popup Book of Human Anatomy" sounds utterly awesome, and I'm genuinely disappointed to find that it does seem to be fictional. I can also imagine that "Grandpa Gets A Casket" could be extremely helpful to kids if one of their grandparents did pop their clogs, which is a thing that happens.

In fact my kids already have several books that match those titles, and they're ones I made a special effort to get hold of. There are several ones that feature parents in same-sex relationships, of which my favourite is maybe One Dad Two Dads Brown Dad Blue Dads. We have multiple anatomy books, including an Usborne lift-the-flap version (although sadly no pop-ups), and two about sex specifically. And we have "Goodbye Mog", which is the one where Mog dies and (spoilers) the family get a new kitten.

I really don't think this stuff is a big deal for kids unless the adults make it one. It's like that copypasta that goes something like:
I was forced to explain homosexuality to my young kids because their uncle has come out gay. The conversation went like this:
'Why do you always see Uncle Bob with Greg?'
'Because they love each other, like me and mummy.'
'Oh, Ok. Can I have a biscuit?'
They're traumatised for life, I tell you!

It seems terribly unfair to set kids loose into the world without having had lots of good chances to learn about anatomy and about sex in a safe context. You can get by in life without literacy or numeracy (although it's hard), but you can't get by without a body. And there's no avoiding death either (yet), and it seems one of the more important aspects of human existence.

On the Dawkins vs Fairy Tales thing, I noticed this Guardian de-bunking story, which included this quote:

"If you did inculcate into a child's mind supernaturalism … that would be pernicious. The question is whether fairy stories actually do that and I'm now thinking they probably don't. It could even be the reverse."

Which is in line with his tweet you linked ... but the "I'm now thinking" bit does imply that he previously thought otherwise, and presumably said so. This makes the whole affair make more sense to me - while the Mail does sometimes make things up out of whole cloth, it's unusual for the BBC to do so. (Which isn't to say they always give a full, accurate and fair report.)

This is obviously one of those stories where there's vastly more heat than light and very little is going to be contributed to the good of humanity by further discussion. But it does amuse me to scrutinise Dawkins' statements in fine detail, doing close-reading on them as if he were some sort of prophet spouting infallible truths.

On the substance of the matter, I think similarly about fairy tales for children as I do about Father Christmas and wrote about it at length, complete with Daily Mail twisted headline: Why Santa is Evil and Wrong.

Edited at 2014-06-06 07:28 am (UTC)

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