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Whether you're a fan of my OSCARBLOGGER site, or if you're just casting your way 'round the web, I hope you enjoy my new blog: WHISPERING IN A WIND TUNNEL. Here I will discuss issues of politics, religion, race, gay rights, gender, you know, the big stuff.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

3 SIMPLE IDEAS


Ok, let's take a break from politics for a moment and talk about common sense.  Here are three things that America could change about itself that would make the country better, and that, for some dumb reason, we can't seem to do.

#1. STOP JUMPING BACK AND FORTH WITH DAYLIGHT SAVINGS.

Daylight savings first began around a hundred years ago as a move to preserve daylight and save fuel.  It began in Germany and is now used in 70 countries around the world, including, of course, the US.  While it may have saved some fuel a long time ago, we live in a much different world now (for example, an extra hour of sunlight in many places means an extra hour of using air conditioning).  Even worse, that lost hour of sleep makes a difference: every year the number of car and work related accidents go up the week after the "spring forward", and worker productivity goes down.  Although the percentage of change on these things is small, so what?  Isn't avoiding any increase of potentially dangerous accidents a good thing? So why go back and forth?  Why not pick one time setting and stick with it?  This seems to be one of those things that has been going on for so long that most people just accept it and don't much think about it.  But it's just plain silly.  One argument I've heard against keeping daylight savings year round is that kids will eventually have to go to school in the morning in the dark, which leads to my next point...

#2. QUIT SENDING KIDS TO SCHOOL ON FARMER'S HOURS

Making schooling mandatory began as far back as 1852 in the US.  To accommodate the fact that many students lived on farms and needed to get home early to help out, schools began and ended at early hours.  To this day, most schools follow the schedule of starting between 8-8:30 AM and ending between 3-3:30 PM.  But most children today don't work on farms, and this set in stone schedule is hurting our educational system overall.  Although the effort of getting up early is not such a burden on younger children, it's very difficult for teenagers.  Multiple studies have shown that teens need more sleep than adults, and that they are essentially programmed to stay up late and sleep in.  Over the years, when attempts have been made to push back school schedules for teens to deal with this, the results have been positive: according to the Center for Public Education's website, pushing back the school day results in higher attendance, less sleeping in class, and even less student depression.  Not to mention the fact that teens tend to get in the most trouble in that time period after school before their parents get home, when there's no real adult supervision of them. Pushing back school hours would for less unstructured time for teens and less general chances for mischief.  Now making this change would require teachers, school administrators and custodians to alter their own work schedules, but since happier students would make their jobs easier, I don't see why they should object to it so much.  So, once again, why not do something that would clearly have a positive benefit? 

#3. SWITCH TO THE METRIC SYSTEM ALREADY

Recently. long shot Democratic presidential candidate Lincoln Chafee mentioned something in his campaign launch speech that was a bit surprising: "Here’s a bold embrace of internationalism: let’s join the rest of the world and go metric".... "Only Myanmar, Liberia and the United States aren’t metric and it will help our economy!"  He was inevitably mocked for bringing up an issue few Americans feel strongly about.  And yet he had a point.  The metric system is an easier and more logical system than our current one(often called the British Imperial system), yet we cling to it except for a few things here and there(like in the pharmaceutical industry).  Part of our rejection of the metric system comes from the fact that it was developed by the French in late 1700's at a time when French-American relations were not good.  Centuries later, in the 1970's, there was a definite attempt to convert America to metrics (I can remember TV commercials promoting it from my childhood).  Laws were passed, but because they were voluntary, little changed.  Part of the problem is that there would be some expense involved in altering maps and such, but the main reason seems to be what some people call "American exceptional-ism". That is, the strong, often stubborn feeling Americans have that we have to be different.  Just as Americans shrug their shoulders at thousands of hand gun deaths annually as "the price of freedom", so do they defiantly resist a system of weights and measure used by other countries.  But the metric system is better, and our continued usage of our outdated system often puts the country at odds with others.  In an amazing example, back in 1999 NASA lost a 125 million dollar Mars orbiter because Lockheed Martin, the company that created it, used the American system while NASA used the metric system, causing confusion.  Can't a waste of over a hundred million tax dollars because of flummoxed rocket scientists be seen as some kind of clarion call for the country?  Apparently not since it happened over fifteen years ago.....grrrr!
A recent study from Northwestern University builds on this research, finding that high school students performed better later in the day than early in the morning, and most high school schedules contribute to sleep deprivation among students (Tonn, 2006). - See more at: http://www.centerforpubliceducation.org/Main-Menu/Organizing-a-school/Copy-of-Making-time-At-a-glance/Making-time-What-research-says-about-re-organizing-school-schedules.html#sthash.ObShZR0n.dpuf
A recent study from Northwestern University builds on this research, finding that high school students performed better later in the day than early in the morning, and most high school schedules contribute to sleep deprivation among students (Tonn, 2006). - See more at: http://www.centerforpubliceducation.org/Main-Menu/Organizing-a-school/Copy-of-Making-time-At-a-glance/Making-time-What-research-says-about-re-organizing-school-schedules.html#sthash.ObShZR0n.dpuf
A recent study from Northwestern University builds on this research, finding that high school students performed better later in the day than early in the morning, and most high school schedules contribute to sleep deprivation among students (Tonn, 2006). - See more at: http://www.centerforpubliceducation.org/Main-Menu/Organizing-a-school/Copy-of-Making-time-At-a-glance/Making-time-What-research-says-about-re-organizing-school-schedules.html#sthash.ObShZR0n.dpuf

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