Let's go with happy first (and you can skip sad if you want to).
What to do over the holidays (unlike the Times, I'll try to give you the free/low-cost stuff):
- visit the Gingerbread Villlage at the Sheraton, 1400 Sixth Avenue. Donations accepted for Juvenile Diabetes. Free.
- Seattle Center Winterfest. Lots of activities, not open on Christmas. Free.
- Holiday Carousel at Westlake. Fee.
- Model Train Festival in Tacoma at the Washington State History Museum. Fee.
- Seattle Public Library events today and tomorrow. Libraries are closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Note: on Friday, December 27th/December 28th there is a Children's film festival of animated short films at the Central Library.
- I recommend a walk around Green Lake to look for bald eagles and blue herons. The bald eagles can sometimes be found way up top the highest trees. The blue herons like to hang out at the water center on the southwest side of the lake by the docks.
- I also recommend Candy Cane Lane in Ravenna for lights but please park a couple of blocks away and walk in. Much better. Also, Olympic Manor out in Ballard is a great place to see lights. There is also Steve Pool's online resource for great holiday lighting.
Gun control - the lone person shot in last week's Colorado high school shooting, Claire Davis, 17, died of her injuries on December 22nd. The shooter did not know her and had started randomly shooting down a hallway, looking for a librarian whom the shooter believed had unjustly removed him from the debate team. The shooter killed himself as security moved in.
Davis was described as a sweet girl who loved horses and the English boy band One Direction.
After friends started a Twitter campaign, the band recorded a 13-second video message and sent it directly to the Davis family, a source close to One Direction told CNN on Thursday. The video shows singer Liam Payne delivering the message as the other four members stand by.
The kindness of strangers was one thing the Davis family remarked that they found in their tragedy.
On the upside, the Times reports that a Sedro-Woolley man received 8 years for the accidental shooting death of his girlfriend's four-year old son. If more people got big sentences for this kind of negligence, it just might wake some people up about securing their guns around children.
Porn. Not a happy thought around the holidays especially if you are thinking about your own children and having them view it. Apparently, this is a big issue and you might want to have to consider having a conversation about it as early as 5th grade. Why? Because of the Internet. The amount of stills and videos out there is huge and it takes just one kid with a smart phone and your own child's curiosity to start this up.
As the presenter of a Channel 4 documentary called Porn On The Brain, airing next Monday at 10pm, I'd been invited to sit in on a forward-thinking class led by sex education consultant Jonny Hunt, who is regularly asked into schools to discuss sex and relationships. To establish what these kids knew about sex - including pornography - he had asked the children to write an A-Z list of the sexual terms they knew, no matter how extreme.
Most of these children had just hit puberty and some were clearly still children: wide-eyed, nervous, with high-pitched voices. But the more mundane answers were just as shocking. For example, the first word every single boy and girl in the group put on their list was 'anal'. When questioned, they had all - every child in a class of 20 - seen sodomy acted out in porn videos.
While teenage boys will always be fascinated by, and curious about, sex, what's now considered 'normal' by under-18s is an entirely distorted view of intercourse and the way relationships should be conducted.
It seemed as if the children's entire expectation of sex had been defined by what they see in online porn.