AMERICA

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BSA

Published January 3, 2014 by Tony

SCOUTS & GAY RIGHTS

To paraphrase the Italian saying “new year, new life”, we can say “new year, new boy-scout”… this year begins a new era for the famous BSA (Boy Scouts of America), because young gay finally can become scouts. It’s long that the gay issue had been raised to the top of the organization, for the presence of homosexual educators and in response to some charges.

As always happens in these cases, BSA’s leaders and parents’ opinions are conflicting, with those who are open and tolerant and those who are intransigent and antonyms.
Although, in principle, the association offers to train future American ruling class, a model for shaping young explorers’ minds and bodies, we are talking about boys and girls who, when they do not wear the uniform, are people like everyone else: young individuals who revel, probably drinking, smoking, and of course having sex. Nothing to be surprised or worried.
Yet, since 1991 gays (members or leaders) cannot join the groups, as they are considered incompatible with the oath required to keep themselves “morally strong.” And a gay, in their opinion, does not have this feature. Unfortunately, for many Americans, homosexuality is still considered a “disease.”

We face the usual hypocritical behavior, especially if wes take into account that among scouts, there always have been gay instructors and only God knows how many young people with a different sexual orientation (perhaps never disclosed). In the scouts camps, given the strict division between male and female, the living together,  sleeping or taking a shower together, becomes an occasion of “initiation” and promotes promiscuity, as it is well known that it also happens in colleges, military, or prisons.

The same happened at the YMCA (Young Men’s Christian Association), that despite its religious nature, it was known to be a place where gay guys could meet.
I wonder, between the current American ruling class, how many people have had similar experiences when they were scouts, as now they cry “scandal “?!
The same hypocrisy that comes out at the oath’s time, when each new member must swear “to do my duty to God and my country,” although it can be reasonably assumed that almost half of the members are atheists or do not have a strong faith (70% of the scout groups are run by religious organizations).

The past May, the majority of BSA’s delegates expressed in favor of the acceptance of gay scouts, a provision which, as mentioned, starts this year. A true revolution that obviously pleases the associations that advocate the cause of the aspiring gay scouts (Scouts for Equality and Inclusive Scouting Network), but it must be said that there is still firmly in place the exclusion for gay leaders.

After this measure, came the first opposition and protests.
The conservatives among the first, with the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute in Washington affirming that such a decision “will inevitably lead to a dramatic reduction of members”. The Baptist Church has instead decided to continue the fight, asking churches and families to commit and seek the repeal of this provision pro-gay. Like to say that a gay boy cannot live together other peers and must be emarginated! And
then we wonder that around still there are so many cases of bullying and discrimination. Absurd!

Thanks God, according to a recent survey 63% of the Americans agree with the decision not to exclude gay from BSA and 56% believe that gay adults should be able to become leaders too. A survey that gives results quite different than the previous ones…. sign that times are changing and…. hopefully for the better.

MARATHON BOMBING

Published April 17, 2013 by Tony

BOSTON MARATHON BLASTS

MARTIN-RICHARD-DEAD-BOSTON-MARATHON-

In regard to the two bombs exploded in the crowded streets near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Monday, I just wanted to say that regardless of whether it’s a terrorist act or a madman enterprise, whenever innocent people are killed, it becomes a crime against humanity, insanity that has any explanation or justification. This event, which took place in a city deemed peaceful and at a sports event, which in itself is an event of peace, should give pause to all and in every nations, because now the madness has no limits, and whatever the reasons for this act, we got to the “pure” madness, where human life has no more value.
The death of the eight year old child, who at the finish line was waiting his dad to share with him the joy of his participation, should serve as a warning to those who commit such heinous acts, and I hope that Martin Richard’s face will remain forever in the mind of his killer.

SATURDAY DINING OUT

Published April 10, 2013 by Tony

SATURDAY NIGHT IN NAPLES and NEW YORK

Standard of living and lifestyle have influenced and still influence the way how people spend their weekend. If we take as a reference two medium families, one from Naples and another from New York, both formed by working parents, with one or more adult children, probably in a month the Neapolitan parents spend one Saturday or Sunday to dine out, while the New Yorker parents spend three. For New Yorkers the Saturday “evening dining out” was, until recently, an obligation, especially for couples with both engaged in work. Due to the popular demand, in order to go to a restaurant or pizzeria in New York, a Saturday evening reservation even was necessary. Where the New Yorker didn’t go out to dinner, as an alternative there always was a dinner party hosted by some friends at their home or in a pub. A lifestyle difficult to eradicate, even in view of the fact that wives were not inclined to spend weekend at home, between cooking and dishes.
Aside from this substantial cultural difference, there was another of economic nature, because an average Neapolitan family certainly did not have the same economic opportunity of the overseas peers.
Although a normal dinner in a normal restaurant in the Neapolitan hinterland costs less than the one in a similar restaurant in New York, the average Neapolitan family culturally is more “conservative” and traditionalist, with wives, who, although involved in work, have not lost their  “housewives” identity, preferring to stay at home during the weekend.  In Naples, there has never been a “dining party” culture, and instead of Saturday dining out, if anything, the custom of a Sunday lunch away from home has always been more in vogue. But occasionally and not as a weekly habit. The Neapolitan wife has always been very attached to the house and the children and  weekend is just a chance to spend more time at home with family, and attend to all those household chores that she has not been able to do during the week.
Our habits have not changed much over the years. The economic situation has led, if anything, to renounce to some Sunday lunch at the restaurant and be thriftier in foodstuffs purchase.

Americans, instead, after a hard week spent at work, look forward to weekends, planning in advance for them.  For many weekend means going out with friends or relatives, outdoor activities or watching a game in a stadium.
In the past, one of the largest changes in American eating habits was the increasing reliance on food eaten away from home (FAFH). FAFH increased from 33% of total food expenditures in 1970 to 47% by 2003. Most of this is at table service and fast food restaurants.
Much of the growth is attributed to the rising value of household time, especially as induced by more female labor force participation, and rising household incomes.
As a 2009 Zagat Survey showed, eating out was a way of life for many Americans, with 50% of all meals prepared outside the home. In short, restaurants became the family kitchen for the busy two-career families. According to Zagat Survey CEO Tim Zagat, “Americans are still eating out in restaurants, they are just making smarter choices.”

Recently, the economic downturn, occasional jobs and financial turmoil in America have made it difficult for people to find enough money to afford their “dining out” habit.
Lately, Americans are making family dinner more often than dine out, a trend that slowly took root before the recession. Mostly, they’re cooking with and eating a narrow range of foods — and relying, to some extent, on prepared, frozen, and canned items to feed their families quickly and economically. “It’s very boring. That’s the sad truth,” says Harry Balzer, chief food industry analyst for the NPD Group, a national market research company. “For the most part, we’re looking for what’s the eaesiest way out of this, what’s the cheapest way out of this.” Balzer said, the number of restaurant meals an American family eats — dine-in or takeout — has been flat, at just under 200 a year, correlating to plateaus of both women in the workforce and household incomes.

Even the New York Times supported the thesis of the “end of the dinner party” because people do not have more money, time and wish to do so.  Someone else says that beyond the crisis there is a lack of good manners and savoir faire, with people no longer able to have a conversation and that’s why lately “finger food” and “standing up” are preferred to dinner party.

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ADOLESCENTIAL LOVE AFFAIRS ARE RISKY

Published March 29, 2013 by Tony

MIDDLE SCHOOL DATERS & ACADEMIC PERFORMACE

Sometimes there are studies that seem to discover the hot water!
I read about a new research from the University of Georgia (UGA) concerning a survey on some students (from sixth grade to twelfth grade in six different school districts) to check the difference in academic performance between those who were already dating.
In summary, the results of the research reveal that students who date during this study period, have worse overall academic performance.
Wow! Amazing!
Weird, I was just convinced of the contrary!
In fact, it is well-known that wonks have always been the students who date earlier and more.

Sarcasm aside, I think no need to set up such researches to become aware that a student who begins flirting during adolescence, then will have another thing to think beyond the study.
Basically, an adolescent who begins to date and carry on an affair, only leads us to know that he/she is probably more “mature” than others. Where for “mature” I mean an adolescent who already feels a physical attraction (and not only) to the opposite sex.
Such maturity (including mental one) is the result of various influences, genetic, temperamental, social and environmental, while physical aspect and stage of sexual development also have their own considerable weight. On the other hand, all this is what, from time immemorial, differentiate unattractive/wimp/introvert teenagers from cool/lively/smart peers.
The research also highlights how emotional difficulties, bullying, depression, and anxiety are linked to higher rates of smoking, drinking, and drug use. Also, another recent University of Toronto study showed that children of divorced parents are 13 times more likely to start smoking cigarettes.
It was to be expected! Or were you thinking differently?
As mentioned ahead, family and social environment affect a lot on children’s behavior. I do not believe we’ve to be psychologists to understand it.

All things hackneyed. Researches or studies that may be, they have their cost. So I say, why researchers do not engage in something more useful, like trying to find ways to decrease divorces, bullying, anxiety, and so on and so forth?!
But, it is evidently easier to conduct a research, like those, to have the confirmation of things we already knew.

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