Surrounding an exhibition at Maker City LA, artist Paige Smith A.K.A. a common name (previously), began to install new crystalized rock formations around the streets of LA. The geodesic rock formations which she refers to as urban geodes are created mostly with paper and spray paint or cast resin in random cracks and crevices around the city. She’s also installed geodes in Spain, Istanbul, Jordan, South Korea, and elsewhere around the world over the last few years. For the most up-to-date news on her geological street art you can follow smith on Instagram.
Once again, I find myself reading these so called critiques of "the left" and wonder what annoys me more, the absurd straw man arguments, or the weird Luddite thinking that employing people at below subsistence level wages instead of employing automation is somehow showing generosity to workers and/or is useful to society as a whole. If automation is cheaper than paying someone a living wage to do that task then hoo-fucking-ray! That's awesome. Once again, technology has found a way to ease the burden of human existence and potentially raise the quality of life for all human beings. That result is only possible however if we accept that capitalism has some serious problems for managing a complex economy where a substantial portion of the economic value is created by machines and not people.
The system is broken. The only way it's going to get fixed is if we are willing to accept that the world has changed far beyond the point at which capitalism makes sense, if it ever did. Pretending that people slaving away doing a task that technology makes redundant is somehow a good feature of our current economic systems is just abhorrent to me.
Well, the new meme on the Left in favor of higher minimum wages seems to be that since many minimum wage workers also receive government benefits, those benefits "subsidize" the employers paying minimum wage. Example from Kevin Drum here. This is utter madness. A few responses:
What a time to be alive.
I'm so glad that this kind of thing is merely a vague and distant memory for me.
The 7 Stages of Not Sleeping at Night
So much truth
|Мистер позитив из Омска
||Главная нелегальная свалка Москвы
||Новости отечественной урбанистики
|Очень плохой Адлер
||История одного распиздяйства из Сочи
||Олимпийский парк в Сочи год спустя
Master paper crafting duo Lucie Thomas and Thibault Zimmermann of Zim & Zou (previously) continue to create some of the most eye-catching paper illustrations around. The two French designers focus mostly on handcrafted objects made from materials like paper, thread, wood, and leather for one-of-a-kind window displays, editorial illustrations, and posters. Some of their most recent projects include a lovely poster commissioned by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to encourage childhood vaccinations as well as work for the SXSW Film Festival and Hermès Maison Shanghai. See more on Behance.
Hey, look, I’m home! Finally I’ll have a Hugo post whose comment thread I’ll be around to moderate. So let me present some not-terribly-organized thoughts on the current state of things (if you missed my previous Hugo-related posts on Whatever, they are here, here and here; also, File770 is doing a fine job keeping up with all the latest on the Hugos):
* I probably shouldn’t admit that I’m having a schadenfreudilicious time watching Larry Correia and Brad Torgersen now desperately try to put sunlight between themselves and that toxic bigot Vox Day, but I’m not going to lie: I am, and also, it’s not working for them at all, as there is a fairly obvious evidence trail to suggest there was hardly any sunlight between them until Day suddenly became inconvenient. Correia and Torgersen are two guys who brought an arsonist to a party, and when the arsonist started setting fires — as arsonists are known to do! — they tried to argue, while the flames rose around them, that they were not actually complicit in burning down the house. The time to disassociate themselves from Day would have been two years ago, before Correia, in a fit of unfathomable stupidity, decided that bruiting both Day and his interminably mediocre story as Hugo-worthy, and palling about with the fellow online, wouldn’t come back to bite him square on the ass.
My own supposition as to why neither Torgersen nor Correia realized what a bad idea it was to beclown themselves with Day’s company is that the two of them were, simply, too naive to think that the enemy of their enemy (i.e., the non-existent social justice warrior conspiracy designed to keep fun stories and/or conservative writers from the Hugo ballot) could be anything other than their friend. Certainly Mr. Day would validate their conspiritorial world view — hadn’t he just been kicked out of SFWA merely for expressing an opinion unpopular with the SJWs, and not at all because of his own actions? — and when he’s not performing for the crowd (that is, the Internet) or talking about something that specifically touches on his own expansive set of bigotries, Day is a perfectly lucid person.
He’s a fine con man, in other words, and Correia and Torgersen fell for his con. Day was looking for a way back into relevance in science fiction and fantasy and they very happily gave it to him, and didn’t realize until after the Hugo awards were actually announced, and the backlash against the slates in full force, just how thoroughly they had been played. Torgersen delirously announced after the Hugos came out that the Puppies had “stolen the Enterprise”; he wasn’t aware that he and Correia were the redshirts in that scenario, or just how much and how closely the two of them would then be associated with Day’s feculent character and actions.
Well, now they know. At this point Correia and Torgersen have to decide whether they want to be known either as Day’s fellow travelers, or his useful idiots. Or both! It could be both. Neither of these options makes them look good; nor, obviously, fits with their own self-image of being Brave Men Fighting the Good Fight™. But in fact, they aren’t fighting a good fight, and in fact, they got played. So: Fellow travelers or useful idiots. These are the choices.
* Also, can we please now stop pretending that this whole Puppy nonsense began for any other reason than that once upon a time, Larry Correia thought he was going to win an award and was super pissed he didn’t, and decided that the reason he didn’t had to be a terrible, awful conspiracy against people just like him (a conservative! Writing “fun” fiction!), as opposed to, oh, the voters deciding they just plain liked something and someone else better? Can we stop pretending that a fellow who practically begs people to nominate his work three years running, hiding the begging behind an oh-so-thin veil of “let’s stick it to the SJWs!” doesn’t desperately crave the external validation that he thinks the award will bring? Can we stop pretending that this is anything other than a grown up child stomping his feet, screaming look at me, look at me, loooook at meeeeee? Because, come on, folks. We’re well past the point of genteel here. Let’s call it for what it is.
(And yes, I know, Correia declined his nomination for the Hugo this year. Let’s talk about that for a minute, shall we. It takes a very special sort of fellow to allow himself to be on a slate to get nominated, marshal people to nominate him for the award as part of a slate, and then decline — and write a big ol’ puffed-up piece about why he was declining, social justice warriors, blows against the empire, blah blah blah, yadda yadda. Yes, nice he declined the nomination and let someone else on the ballot. But it’s a little like wanting credit for rescuing a baby squirrel when you knocked the baby squirrel out of the tree to begin with.)
To be clear, the Puppy nonsense now isn’t just about Correia really really really wanting validation in the form of a rocketship; Day’s stealing the Puppy movement right out from under Correia and Torgerson has changed things up quite a bit, and it’s certainly true at this point that this little campaign is about a bunch of people trying to shit in the punchbowl so no one else can have any punch. But at the beginning, it was Correia hurt and angry that someone else got an award he thought was his, and deciding that it was stolen from him, rather than being something that was never his to begin with. And I’m sorry for him that it didn’t go his way. But actual grown human beings deal with disappointment in ways other than Correia has.
Correia can bluster about this all he likes; he’s a lovely online bully, and certainly he wishes to project that he’s a Tough Guy Saying Tough Things, Toughly™. But, eh. If he was actually who he wishes he could project himself as, the Sad Puppy thing would have never happened. And, ironically, he would be better positioned to win the awards he craved, because he wouldn’t be seen as a petulant whiner about such things. As it is, all we can do for him now is let him show us on the cartoon face pain chart how much Worldcon hurt him, and offer him soothing hugs until all his pain goes away.
* I notice that Vox Day has been enjoying his moment, and has taken to making pronouncements along the line of “award this slate of things I managed to push onto the ballot or GOD HELP ME I WILL DESTROY THE HUGOS FOREVER BWA HA HA HAH HA HA.” Because that’s the sort of asshole shitbug of human he is.
So, a couple of things to know about Vox Day. One, he’s the sort of person for whom any scenario will be seen as a victory condition; if he were to be set on fire and pushed in front of a speeding train, he would cackle about how this was exactly what he had planned right up until the moment of impact turned him into flaming bits of kibble. So obviously he’s going to babble on about how he plans to destroy the Hugos forever if he doesn’t get his way. Why wouldn’t he. That’s a victory condition! Plus, he’s getting attention. In the grand pantheon of People Acting Like Children About the Hugos, he’s the Grand Baby, and attention is what he wants.
Two: Fuck that dude. If everything is a victory condition for him — and it is — then worrying about what he’s going to do is sort of pointless. What is he going to do? Why, declare victory! Regardless! So you might as well do what you want. And if that means voting “No Award” in the categories where there are only Puppy nominees, then by all means follow your joy. Yes, he’ll say that’s what he planned all along. You could open a can of peas and he would maintain that you’re doing exactly what he wanted. He wants you to see him as a mastermind, rather than as a general failure whose only successes lie in being terrible to other people, and encouraging others to be the same.
So, yeah. Ignore his shtick; focus on your thing, as it involves the Hugos.
* Many people are convinced this is The End of the Hugos. Guys, no. It’s really not, and if I may say so, running around as if one’s hair is on fire about it, as satisfying as it is in the short term, isn’t going to be useful — and besides gives the Puppies their glee, which is a thing I don’t think they should have. I am not saying that you shouldn’t feel angry, or upset, or exasperated, or whatever you feel. Feel that! Own that! Be that! And also, decide to do something about it.
First, by voting for the Hugos this year. There are some very good reasons to “no award” everything that’s on a Puppy slate, including entire categories — I understand Brad Torgersen is suggesting anyone who does so is a gigantic asshole, but at this particular moment in time, and given how he’s just been played by Vox Day, he should probably not be declaring anyone else an asshole, lest that mirror be put up to him — but there are also reasons not to, and you’ll have to decide for yourself the best course of action. But that starts with voting, which one can do with a supporting membership to Sasquan.
Second, by deciding to be part of the conversation about what to do with the Hugos from here on out, which may or may not include tweaking the award rules to better handle slates (which are a bad idea) and obvious block voting (which is not good either). I should note that I’m not personally entirely convinced a wholesale change in voting rules is needed, because to some extent I see this as self-correcting — honestly, after this year, would anyone want to be on a slate, much less a Puppy slate? Who wants that sort of asterisk on their Hugo? — but it’s a conversation to have. Specifically, it’s a conversation to have at the WSFS business meeting, which will take place at this year’s Worldcon, Sasquan.
Third, by understanding that this is a process, and it will take time. If a rule change is proposed at Sasquan and then passed, it has to be affirmed at the next Worldcon (in Kansas City) and then it will take effect the year after. Which means we may have at least another year of potential mischief along this line. Accept that this is a fact, be ready to deal with it (preferably with an eyeroll and the appropriate voting action), and recognize that the Hugos survive — or don’t — based on what the community around them decides to do. You can be part of that community. It takes effort and a bit of commitment. The good news is, there’s more to that community you’ll be part of than just the Hugos. And it’s a good community to be part of.
* Finally, on the subject of slates, for the avoidance of doubt, here’s my own personal position: I won’t ask to be put on a slate of nominees for a Hugo; If asked to be on a slate of nominees for a Hugo, I will refuse; If you see my name on a slate of nominees for the Hugo, you may assume I neither asked nor consented to be on that slate. I am fine with people recommending my work to others for consideration; I am not fine with people saying “vote this slate to get our nominees on the ballot for reasons.”
To be blunt about it, I don’t need to be on a slate — In my experience people have voted for me, or not, because they liked my work (or didn’t). Silly mutterings of conspiracy aside, everything of mine that’s been on the Hugo ballot got there under its own steam, by someone genuinely liking it and deciding to give it a slot on their nomination list. I’m proud of that; I wouldn’t want a work of mine on the final Hugo ballot (or any other ballot, for that matter) for any other reason.
I’m also opposed to slates in general — or in the case of the Sad Puppy slate, a weasely list of “recommendations” that had in their categories the number of slots as there are on the Hugo nomination list, nod, wink, nod — because, here’s a wacky idea, I think the point of popular awards is for people to vote for the things they actually like, not a slate designed to achieve some sort of political or social point (or, in the case of the Rabid Puppy slate, exist as advertisement for the slate-builder’s hobby-horse of a publishing house). Also, to be blunt, I don’t trust anyone else’s taste. I may or may not have terrible taste in science fiction and fantasy, but it’s my taste, and I’ll vote it.
In short: I don’t do slates — won’t voluntarily be on them, and won’t vote for them. And I’m not going to lie, from here on out, as regards the Hugos, I’ll think less of you if you participate on or vote for a slate. Because what you’re doing is showing that you don’t actually care about what the Hugos are (an award that acts as a snapshot, however imperfect, of the current state of science fiction and fantasy), but rather what the Hugos can do (draw attention to your own work, politics, social thoughts or whatever). The thing is, the latter happens because of the former. And that only happens when people vote their own nominees, not anyone else’s.
How many of these Chinese megacity names do you recognize? I recognize maybe five, probably four. Read the rest
The Ships Of The North
The Swedish magnetrine transportation industry, circa mid 1980s.
Saw this on Reddit. It’s “Building the Atomium for the World Expo in Brussels, Belgium”, in 1957. I love how this could be artwork from a SF story.
Mark Zuckerberg's Internet.org project bribes corrupt, non-neutral carriers in poor countries to exempt Facebook and other services of its choosing from their data-caps, giving the world's poorest an Internet that's been radically pruned to a sliver of what the rest of the world gets for free. Read the rest
always remember: all these systems of dominance rest on very fragile illusions. tap the glass.
Anthropomorphism + Wordplay = Awesome
We’ve already got a soft spot for anthropomorphic food so we love these playful minimal ink and acrylic illustrations created by Cape Town, South Africa-based illustrator and designer Jaco Haasbroek. From a bellicose birthday cake to what may be the world’s official all-purpose seal of approval, the series depicts adorably personified Food, Objects and Animals either speaking or captioned by painfully cute puns and other sorts of wordplay.
[via Free York]
Thank you for asking! I have a pretty fundamental understanding of economics.
But the short answer is: NO. Basic universal income is not the same as “printing money” so to speak, and inflation is not guaranteed. It simply redistributes money that is already in circulation more evenly. In fact, we have REAL WORLD EXAMPLES of places that have Basic Income systems or partial basic income systems that have seen very little, or NO increases in inflation as a result!
In that link I provided, for example, it cites two examples: “In 1982, Alaska began providing a partial basic income annually to all its residents. Until the first dividend, Alaska had a higher rate of inflation than the rest of the United States. But ever since the dividend was introduced, Alaska has had a lower rate of inflation than the rest of the United States. A partial basic income was also provided in Kuwait in 2011, when every citizen was given $4,000. Fears of increasing inflation were rampant, as Kuwait already had high inflation. Instead of bad inflation getting worse, it actually got better, decreasing from record highs to under 4 percent.”
(Being ‘on-call’ means that you get paid a little extra to answer your phone when at home and come in when needed over the weekend. My boss decides to take this from me due to ‘budget cuts.’)
Boss: “I tried to call you this weekend.”
Me: “Oh, did you? I didn’t have my phone with me.”
Boss: “We had a major issue; I needed you to come in.”
Me: “Oh, okay. Well, I was out with the family, so even if I took my phone I wouldn’t have had reception.”
Boss: “Not good enough! You need to have your phone with you at all times!”
Me: “Yeah… I’m not going to do that. When you paid me call out, I took it everywhere, on holiday, to the gym; I would have my phone by me all day and night, and always answer it no matter the time. Now that you’re not paying me, there is no chance I’m doing it for free.”
Boss: *suddenly silent* “Oh, I… uh… forgot about that. Do you want to go back on call?”
Me: “No, I don’t think I do.”
(Despite the drop in pay, it was the best decision I made, I had my weekends back and finally got a break from work.)
||Никогда такого не было, и вот опять!
|Пьяные банды московских дворников
||В Москве будет все очень плохо
||Творческий союз при Департаменте ЖКХ и благоустройства города Москвы сообщает...
When I was younger, I wish someone had told me straight-up that not all adults experience “a calling”. That many of them never find particular purpose in a career. That sometimes, their job is just what pays the bills and they have to seek satisfaction and fulfillment elsewhere.
Because as an adult, this pervasive notion that there exists a perfect path for everyone, that people should love what they do, and that work is meant to function as a vehicle for fulfilling a person’s grand life destiny is not only inaccurate for many of us, it can be toxic.
The ideal is so ingrained that I have to remind myself constantly I’m not a failure because I don’t adore my job, and because I’m not rocking the world with my work. That is okay.
Sometimes, work is just work. There isn’t always a perfect career path, magically waiting to be discovered. There might not be this THING you were born to do. Sometimes, you discover that what you really want to be when you grow up is “paid”.
It’s true. Capitalism only functions bc it needs the majority of people to struggle and not have access to fruitful, materially compensated (passion) work and livelihoods.
This is something i think about a lot w my first generation class and education privilege.
As many bike riders will know, sustained cycling can end up being a pain in the neck – literally. Tilting your head down toward the ground can provide temporary relief from that pain, but then you're not able to see where you're going ... unless you're using a Pedi-Scope, that is. .. Continue Reading Pedi-Scope is a heads-down display for cyclists
Awwww, fee fees. #sadtrombone #THECLOUDISALIE (at Teh Interwebs)
Some people consider traveling an unnecessary burden that you have to deal with from time to time out of sheer necessity. On the other hand, people who possess that spark of true wanderers and explorers can’t get enough of it. Wanderlust is the word that is most commonly used to explain the state of mind of these people are in. This incredible passion for traveling, experiencing new cultures and civilizations, and seeing new scenery is not easily quenched but also brings a lot of benefits for the traveler as a person. Modern means of transportation, like airplanes, are hardly a good choice when you are traveling with this specific purpose in mind.
This is why people like to take trains when traveling for the sake of traveling. Trains have always had that certain level of causality, as well as the air of mystique that makes them a desirable means of transportation. They are far more comfortable than buses, cars or airplanes, and they provide you with the opportunity to really enjoy magnificent sites during your travels. For this reason, we have decided to compose a list of the most beautiful train routes from around the globe, attempting to provide an option for anyone to experience a stunning train ride that will last through the ages.
Not many people living outside of Europe are aware how beautiful the scenery of Scandinavia really is. Riding from Bergen to Oslo, you will experience beautiful sights and the environment will change seemingly as if the seasons are changing as you go along. Beautiful fjords, snowy mountaintops and stunning grassy plains will compose this scenery.
Most travellers that go to Germany focus on Berlin and its immense history, high culture and vast cultural life. Still, Germany has a lot more to offer and one of the more beautiful parts is its wine country, the highlight of which is the Rhine valley. The railroad stretches from Mainz to Koblenz and there are a lot of things to see along the way.
The route this train ride will take you through is part of the Swiss Alps and has been put under official the protection of UNESCO as a world heritage. The Bernina Express Railway will take you through the magnificent scenery of the Swiss countryside, lakes and breath-taking glaciers. We recommend taking panorama cars for the best experience possible.
After the European Alps, let’s pop off to the Southern Alps train ride in New Zealand. If you take a train from Christchurch to Greymouth, you are in for a treat. Canterbury plains and the Waimakariri River, with its beautiful gorges await you along with the magnificent view over the Southern Alps, which will spread out before you.
Back to Europe, to north Portugal to be more specific. This scenic railroad line got its name from the Douro river and was first started in 1887. It follows the river the majority of the way and it’s a big part of the landscape you are going to feast your eyes on. The valley is also a key element of the picturesque scenery that this ride has to offer.
If you want a top-class luxurious experience, then you are going to enjoy the one The Royal Scotsman has to offer. Even the name itself echoes luxury and elegance! Take a trip from Edinburgh and enjoy the magnificent Scottish Highlands along with its lochs and beautiful green landscapes. The train itself is high quality and ensures maximum comfort.
When it comes to legendary sceneries in the USA, there is nothing more iconic than its deserts which always brings scenes from western movies to mind. There is simply something beautiful in the ruggedness of the desert and there is no better way to experience it than from the seat on The Sunset Limited! The train goes from Los Angeles and New Orleans and you are going to enjoy every minute of this 48 hour journey.
Another luxurious train ride that starts from Eastern Europe, in Budapest, all the way to the oriental Istanbul in Turkey. One of the countries that this very unique line passes through is Transylvania (Romania), home of the famous Vlad Tsepesh, more popularly known as Dracula and see the castle of the historical figure that the legendary vampire character was based on. The journey ends in Istanbul where you should visit the famous Haydarpaşa Terminal, one of the more famous train stations in the world.
Andalusia, a region of southern Spain, is considered one of the more beautiful landscapes in the world. Ever since 1930, Al Andalus Express has been giving people the opportunity to experience the Andalusia in a breath-taking and relaxing manner. This six-day journey starts from Seville and ends in Cordoba.
If you want to see the extravagant side of India, the Maharajas’ Express is the best option for you. This train ride has been titled “World’s Leading Luxury Train” and “World’s Most Expensive Luxury Train in Asia”, and these titles talk volumes about the quality of service and accommodation during the trip. From Mumbai to Delhi, prepare to be amazed!
There are very few places in the world that can match the primal beauty of the Alaskan landscapes. The route that the Denali Star takes will take you through many charming small towns and villages as well and bring you to the magnificent Denali National Park. The entire trip is over within a day, but keep in mind that this is a 12 hour expedition.
Ok, if you are a train enthusiast, then you certainly know about the Thomas the Tank Engine book and TV show. What if a I told you that you could ride the line that served as an inspiration for this character. Enjoy a charming ride through the Fathew Valley riding on a steam powered train line that dates all the way back to 1865.
One of the legendary train rides that isn’t recommended for novices. The 5,772 miles journey from Moscow, on the west of the country to Vladivostok in the east take somewhere around 13 days to complete in its entirety. An ominous number isn’t it? This is a real adventure through one of the harshest regions of the world.
South America always had a certain veil of mystery with legends about its rainforests, tribes and so on. One of the most famous archaeological sites of the pre-Columbian Peru is the citadel Machu Picchu. The Hiram Bingham train route can take you around the mountain in a journey that lasts six hours and includes exploring all the best sites.
This classic American train has been proclaimed “Best North American Train Trip” by National Geographic Traveller. The train route has been around since 1881 and travels a 45 mile journey between Durango and the town of Silverton.
The thing that makes train vacations a good idea is the fact that they can be a perfect summer or winter vacation and the dispute concerning which is better has gone on for ages. Pictures are worth a thousand words and experiences vary from train to train. The thing that is definitely true is that you will remember them for the rest of your life and once you try a scenic train journey, you will always love it.
Aww, cheer up! You’re not even close to rock bottom yet!
On April 12, it happened again: Rafi and Dvora Meitiv, the “free-range kids” of Silver Spring, Maryland, were picked up and detained by police. The siblings, aged 10 and six, were playing unsupervised in their neighborhood when a man walking his dog spotted them and called the authorities.
Back in December, Rafi and Dvora made national headlines when police picked them up as they walked home from a local park. The children’s parents, Danielle and Alexander Meitiv, subscribe to the philosophy of “free-range” parenting, which holds that children develop self-reliance by exploring their neighborhoods or riding public transportation on their own, if their parents judge them ready. (Disclosure: the Meitiv children attend the same school as my son, though I don’t know them or their parents.)
After the first incident, Montgomery County Child Protective Services investigated and found the senior Meitivs responsible for “unsubstantiated neglect.” Now an attorney for the couple says they will file a lawsuit over their family’s treatment. In fact, the law is not clear on free-range parenting in the state of Maryland, or anywhere else in the country: states and cities generally do not specify the youngest age at which a child can play or walk outside alone.
A few states have laws stipulating the minimum age when a child can be left home alone. In Illinois it is 14, in Maryland, eight, and in Oregon, 10. Maryland’s law further stipulates that a young child left in the care of a person under 13 is “unattended.” Many more states offer home-alone guidelines, which vary as widely as the laws do (age six in Kansas, age 12 in Mississippi).
In North Carolina, the state fire code prohibits leaving children younger than eight home alone. Rarely, a city will have its own ordinance establishing the home-alone age, as Albuquerque does (the age there is 10). In most cases, whether such home-alone rules extend to outdoor spaces is something lawyers could argue either way.It is possible to see public spaces as being just as safe, or even safer, than private ones.
Although the reaction to the Meitivs’ case has been largely sympathetic, the relative safety of their neighborhood—in a middle-class inner suburb of Washington, D.C.—has been a topic of debate. The police incident report from Sunday referred to “a homeless subject” near the children who was “eyeing” them. A Washington Post columnist worried that the Meitiv kids were not safe walking down Georgia Avenue, a busy road. Internet commenters went back and forth over whether the kids had been playing in a parking garage and how safe that could have been.
Defenders of free-range parents point out that child pedestrian deaths and violent crime in general have actually declined over the last few decades, while the risk of stranger abduction is infinitesimal. And it is possible to see public spaces as being just as safe, or even safer, than private ones. “Eyes on the street” can be protective—as shown, ironically, by the worried passersby who keep calling the police on the Meitivs. A child who is injured in a public place would arguably be more likely to get immediate help than a child who is injured at home, with no adult around.
This difference in perceptions matters, because CPS officers have a great amount of leeway in determining neglect. Laws regarding unsupervised kids are “intentionally vague, because there are so many contextual and fact-specific determinants” to each case, says Vivek Sankaran, who directs the University of Michigan’s Child Advocacy Law Clinic and the Detroit Center for Family Advocacy. “The downside is, it gives parents very little guidance about when they can get into trouble.”
In Maryland as elsewhere, CPS caseworkers weigh numerous factors in such cases, such as a child’s apparent well-being, maturity level, and the length of time for which he or she was left unsupervised. “It’s an incredibly subjective process,” Sankaran says. “There’s a wide degree of discrepancy and variance in some of the decision-making you see in CPS.”
The perceived risk of being at the playground, or walking by the side of the road, may be taken into account too. In other words, if a caseworker (or a judge) thinks a certain neighborhood isn’t safe, or that public spaces in general pose dangers for kids, that can count against “free-range” parents.
Would the Meitivs’ case have been handled differently if the kids had been walking in a subdivision with no busy roads and no homeless people? It seems possible. But families like the Meitivs aren’t usually the ones caught up in the system. Low-income parents who can’t afford child care, or who struggle to arrange it around unpredictable work schedules, may leave their children unsupervised out of necessity rather than on principle. Remember Debra Harrell, the South Carolina mother who got arrested because she let her nine-year-old play in a park as she worked at a McDonald's?
Low-income neighborhoods can also have a higher presence of police and social workers, raising the odds that parents there get reported. As Sankaran notes, these parents are also far less likely to benefit from the presumption that they are making good decisions for their kids.
The answer is not a brighter legal line on the right age to range freely—kids really are too different for that—but a more collaborative child-welfare model. “We should not be taking kids away from situations where reasonable minds honestly disagree” about parenting decisions, Sankaran says. “We should reserve coercion for those extreme situations where … it’s below the standard that any parent should be treating this child.”
I got it! I got it!… What the hell is this?