Tuesday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

First of all, a happy birthday to the board game Monopoly, which is 75 years old this year. Here is an interesting history of the game at Gather.

Dana had a round-up at Mombian on what the election results mean for LGBT rights.

This PDF on how to prevent child molestation was recently circulated at my school’s lisserve. I thought I would share since it had some eye-opening statistics like 25 percent of children are sexually abused before their 18th birthday. And one in 10 men have molested a child. Yikes! The good news is the file provided by the Center for Behavioral Intervention in Beaverton, OR, also came armed with advice on how to protect your child from molestation.

Slate had an interesting map on the U.S. states with the highest percentage of smokers. The good news is no state claims 20 percent or more smokers. And overall, only 13 percent of Americans smoke cigarettes every day.

Speaking of smoking, one of my favorite digs in New England, Dunkin’ Donuts, is now serving pancake bites and sausage links as part of its breakfast menu, according to MSN. Okay, I’ll say it, yum!

In celebrity gossip break: the New Kids on the Block and Backstreet Boys have said they will tour together in 2011, according to Gather.

What else is in the news? What’s up with you?


Toys that Cross Over Generations

Parents magazine ran a blurb on the birthdays of popular kids’ toys. For example, Dora the Explorer is 10 years old, the Rubik’s Cube is 30, Etch A Sketch is 50, Thomas the Tank Engine is 65 (!), Curious George is 70, Monopoly is 75, and Tinkertoys is 95(!!).

I put exclamation points by the toys my kids played that I had no idea were that old.

All this talk about toys that have crossed over generations, and movies such as the Karate Kid and Toy Story 3, made me think of all the games I have passed onto my children just because I loved them as a kid.

For me, those games or toys include Barbie, who is only 51-years-old, by the way, the board game Sorry (76-years-old), and of course, Monopoly — which, by the way, has all these new game pieces like a battleship, canon and purse. Actually, I looked up when these pieces were introduced, and as it turns out, they are older pieces from World War II — I just didn’t have them in my game in the 1980s. Here is an interesting piece on the Monopoly pieces in The Straight Dope.

Other favorites are Hungry, Hungry Hippos (32-years-old), UNO (39), and Go Fish, for which its origins I could not find online.

What are some of your favorite childhood toys or games that you have passed onto your children?


Midday Coffee Break

What’s up?

People are still outraged over feminist Jessica Valenti’s nuptials being mentioned in the New York Times style section. As some of the writers at Salon Broadsheet pointed out, I wonder how much of the outrage has to do with the fact she was featured in the bourgeois New York Times rather than she is a feminist getting married.

Also, Salon reviewed a book about fatherhood — and “manhood” — in general by Michael Chabon.  

The Washington Post had a story on how computers are slowly replacing textbooks in the classroom. The Post also had another excellent healthcare story on how Wall Street and the banks are afraid of competition. In at least 30 states, five or fewer health insurance companies control three-quarters of the market. In Alabama, one company controls 90 percent of the market. It is time to resurrect Teddy Roosevelt and break up these monopolies.  

Nearly 400,000 Texans lost their health insurance due to a job loss, according to the Austin American-Statesman.

I love this: MomsRising got Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to wear a pacifier pin in support of its “I-won’t-be-pacified-until-meaningful-healthcare-reform-is-passed” activism. They are trying to get other senators to do the same.  

Because I am a glutton for punishment, I just bought this tear-jerker, Oprah-endorsed documentary called The Story of Mothers and Daughters. It is about…the mother-daughter bond. Eli is in the terrible 2s so I am not feeling it. But I need a little reassurance that it will get better.

Of course, this letter in Mamasource didn’t help. It is about a 7-year-old girl asking Santa to give her someone else as a mother. I did not need to read this.

Have you seen the movie Where the Wild Things Are? Apparently, some parents are peeved that it is too scary, according to Yahoo Movies.

What else is in the news? What’s up with you?


A Selfish Reason to Support Healthcare Reform

I am sure I am not the only one to encounter folks who do not support healthcare reform on moral grounds. As in — think of the children!

But here is a Washington Post story to send to them:

The average health-care coverage for the average family now costs $13,375, according to Kaiser. Over the past decade, premiums have increased by 138 percent. And if the trend continues, by 2019 the average family plan will cost $30,083.

Three years of slightly above-average health insurance will cost a solid six figures.

Those are numbers to marvel at. Those are numbers to fear. But they are not the numbers that loom in the minds of most Americans. And therein lies the problem for health-care reform.

About 160 million Americans receive health coverage through their employers. In general, the employer picks up 73 percent of the tab. This seems like a good deal. In reality, that money comes out of wages.

As Ezekiel Emanuel, who advises Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag on health-care policy, has pointed out, health-care premiums have risen by 300 percent over the past 30 years (and that’s after adjusting for inflation). Corporate profit per employee has soared by 200 percent. Hourly earnings for workers, adjusted for inflation, have fallen. The wage increases have been consumed by health-care costs.

Another 80 million Americans are on public plans, mainly Medicare and Medicaid. Those costs are paid by taxpayers. And about 46 million Americans are uninsured. The costs for their care are shifted to the insured: This raises premiums for the average family by $1,100 each year, according to an analysis by Ben Furnas and Peter Harbage of the Center for American Progress.

Those are some sobering numbers. By the way, I am still doing my part to push for a public healthcare option, which is the only way to lower costs in a market monopolized by private insurance companies. I have donated money to organizations that are lobbying Congress for the public option and have made my share of phone calls to Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s office. The other day, Sen. Feinstein’s line was busy. I am hoping she was bombarded by constituent phone calls for the public option.

What have you done for healthcare reform lately?