Three month old Dylan Lee Edmonson is dead. His mother, 22-year-old Alexandra V. Tobias of Jacksonville, plead guilty to second degree murder in Dylan’s death. This is one of many deaths connected to an excessive amount of time on the internet.
Farmville is an online application/game that allows users to have their own virtual farm where they harvest crops and raise their own animals. Tobias told investigators that she became angry when Dylan began crying as she was busy playing the game. So she shook him.
Tobias said the baby could have potentially hit his head on the computer during the first shaking. The arrest report says Tobias put the baby on the couch, and stepped out to smoke a cigarette in order to regain her composure. By the time Tobias returned, the family dog had knocked Dylan off the couch causing him to cry once again. The crying caused Tobias to become even angrier and she shook the baby for second time. Afterward, Tobias realized that her son might be seriously injured, so she called an ambulance. Dylan died a short while after being hospitalized.
This is not the first time something like this has happened. A similar story occurred in Seoul, South Korea, when a couple’s newborn daughter died due to starvation. The couple had an internet addiction and were playing games online for an average of 10 hours a day. Ironically, one of the online games they played involved raising a virtual child.
The future is here -- in the form of an egg-shaped robot on wheels, sent to mold the minds of young Korean children.
The Korean Education Ministry would like all kindergarteners in Korea to have penguin-sized robotic English instructors by the end of 2013, according to the New York Times.
The robotic instructor, named EngKey, was developed by the Korea Institute of Science and Technology, and introduced to Korean kindergarten classrooms over the summer. The robot project is supposed to lower the cost of hiring human English teachers. Korea is one of the largest importers of native-English speaking teachers from around the world, but humans are costly to employ. The scientists who created EngKey are still working out the kinks, but the goal is to eventually replace native-English speakers in the classroom.
According to a New York Times classroom observation, “One type of robot, toddler-size with a domed head and boxlike body on wheels, takes attendance, reads fairy tales and sings songs with children. A smaller puppy robot helps leads gymnastics and flashes red eyes if touched too roughly.”
24-year-old Ariane Williams just finished teaching English for two years in Japan, and believes that there are certain things that a robotic instructor could handle. “A lot of the more concrete work I did in the classroom could have been performed by a robot. Sometimes non-native English teachers were insecure about their pronunciation or fluency, and had me simply read lessons aloud--many assistant language teachers even complain about feeling like tape recorders. All kinds of games and pronunciation exercises could be performed by robots to take stress off the main teacher,” said Williams.
However, Williams pointed out that the goal of learning English isn’t just correct pronunciation and language fluency, but also gaining awareness of another culture. “In rural Japan--and probably in parts of Korea as well--children aren't exposed to many people from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds. A kid who meets a foreign teacher in an English class, plays games with her, gets to ask her questions about her home, is a kid who is more likely to become an accepting and adaptable adult. Teaching younger generations to be comfortable with robots is an excellent goal, but surely it's at least as important to teach them to be comfortable with people of varied backgrounds, especially since increased dependence on technology goes hand in hand with globalization,” said Williams.
Recently, Myspace announced their new redesign plan—telling the world to “meet the new Myspace”. According to the blog The Blackweb, the new layout consists of a “broad array of programming, including originals, exclusives and content from around the Web.” One of the first social networking sites, Myspace had a bit of a downturn since Facebook became most people’s site of choice. Read more...
LOS ANGELES-- Two years. That is the sentence to be faced by disgraced former BART police officer Johannes Mehserle who was convicted on July 8th of the involuntary manslaughter of BART passenger Oscar Grant. To put things in perspective let’s compare and contrast a few numbers.
673: That’s the number of days from the shooting until the sentencing was handed down.
146: Number of days that Johannes Mehserle actually served in jail so far.
292: Number of days he is being credited with serving, as per Judge Perry's discretion.
438: The number of days, barring early release, that Mehserle will serve in state prison once the credit is applied to his sentence.
5113: The maximum number of days that the harshest sentence possible would have kept Mehserle behind bars.
After the sentencing hearing Alex Alonzo of StreetGangs.com, who has been one of the pool journalists covering the trial since day one, noted that those convicted on involuntary manslaughter charges usually serve only half the time. If so, the math may see Johannes Mehserle serving less than a year in prison.
Outside the court house Oscar Grant's uncle, Cephus "Bobby" Johnson, expressed resentment at the sentencing in no uncertain terms. At one point he made the comparison to the sentence given out for football star Michael Vick's abuse of dogs- Vick was sentenced to four years- while the man who killed his nephew was sentenced to just two.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court began discussing Mortal Kombat. That’s right. The court is hearing arguments to determine the constitutionality of California’s ban on the sale of violent video games to minors, in a case called Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vs. Entertainment Merchants Association.
A violent video game is defined in the ban as one that protrays, "killing, maiming, dismembering, or sexually assaulting an image of a human being," in a way that is "patently offensive," appeals to a, "deviant or morbid interest" and lacks "serious, literary, artistic, political, or scientific value." Anyone caught selling a violent game to a minor would be charged a fine of $1,000.
The video game industry argued that new media is often the target of restrictive laws, including comic books in the 1800s and movies in the 1900s.
Proponents of the ban, including California State Senator Leland Yee who helped pass the legislation, contend that video games are different than other forms of media, and used the game Postal 2 as a central example of a game where players maim and kill digital figures. According to NPR, the state argued that since the Supreme Court made an exception to the First Amendment 50 years ago to ban the sale of sexually exlicit material, then it should also ban the sale of violent video games today.
California Deputy Attorney General Zackery Morazzini brought in studies that showed kids who played certain games were desensitized to violence. Senator Yee stated that the techniques used in violent video games to kill bad guys are the same used to train military and police officials to hunt down and kill criminals.
The Supreme Court Justices were skeptical, asking questions about whether a ban like this would eventually lead to banning books and movies as well. Justice Sonia Sotomayor is quoted in TSSZ News saying, “How is this any different than what we said we don’t do in the First Amendment field [....], where we said we don’t look at a category of speech and decide that some of it has low value?... We decide whether a category of speech has a historical tradition of being regulated.”
Morazzini said that violent Bible stories or gruesome fairy tales like Hansel and Gretel would not fall under the ban because "That material is not patently offensive... It doesn't appeal to a deviant interest, and it has serious literary, artistic and educational value."Read more...
By now, most of us have heard the story of Tyler Clementi, a college student who committed suicide after his roommate posted a video of him kissing another man online. Clementi’s death has highlighted just how little privacy we have in our society today.Read more...
On October 13, Apple was granted a patent on an anti-sexting device that allows an administrator to censor text messages on the iPhone. The device seems targeted at parents who do not want their children to be 'sexting' their peers or sending inappropriate photos via text message.
CNN reported, "Messages containing blocked material either would not be received or would have the objectionable content redacted. Unlike other text blockers, Apple's version would also be able to filter content based on a child's grade level and claims to filter abbreviated words that may be missed by other programs."
In addition to censoring text messages, the patent also boasts the ability to turn texting into an educational activity. The tool has the ability to withhold text messages unless they are grammatically correct, preventing common texting lingo like LOL and OMG.
Perhaps the most interesting twist to the functionality of this device -- it can act as a tool to learn foreign languages. Confused? CNN reports, "Parents of kids who are studying Spanish, for example, could be required to send a certain number of messages per month in that language, according to the document. If kids did not meet the foreign language quota, their texting privileges could be automatically revoked until they send more Spanish-language text messages."Read more...
This story was originally published by L.A. Youth.
Editors' note from L.A. Youth staff:
Next month voters will decide whether to legalize marijuana in California. If it does become legal, anyone in the state who is 21 and over could smoke it legally, just like they can drink alcohol. It would still be illegal for people under 21. That got us wondering what our staff thought about marijuana. Here’s what they had to say.
It’s no big deal
I recently watched a documentary called The Union: The Business Behind Getting High. The filmmaker interviewed experts, including doctors. I found out that no one has died from using marijuana. I also learned that marijuana’s effects aren’t as intense as other drugs like heroin or LSD. The movie said that when you’re high, you think more deeply about things that you wouldn’t necessarily think about otherwise. Some people may feel very relaxed. Most people who smoke marijuana do not become aggressive and harm others. Once I learned about the effects, I didn’t believe that marijuana was such a big deal and that it was fine to smoke. lllllI also learned that marijuana provides medical benefits. It can help people with glaucoma, anxiety, nausea and more. It also relieves pain for people going through chemotherapy. The documentary included an interview with a medical marijuana patient with multiple sclerosis. He was shaking uncontrollably and was barely able to move or talk. They interviewed him after he smoked marijuana. He was shaking a lot less and was calm and able to speak. lllllI don’t like that people who smoke marijuana are viewed as losers who don’t contribute to society. I know people who smoke marijuana and still graduated and are going to college. Brett Hicks, 19, Loyola HS (2010 graduate)
It’s effects are exaggerated
For the longest time I thought marijuana was bad. But when I got older, I noticed people smoking it without any negative consequences. I have also tried marijuana a few times and nothing bad happened to me. I don’t think marijuana is as dangerous as other drugs like Ecstasy or acid (LSD). I used to think that if you smoked marijuana or did any sort of drugs you would die. I feel that the effects of marijuana are exaggerated by teachers and parents. Yes, marijuana isn’t the smartest thing to do since it’s illegal, but it won’t kill you. Name withheld
It can harm you in the long run
I’ve heard both sides of the issue: the one that schools and the government seem to drill into our heads (drugs will screw up your life so just say no), as well as the side my friends often take, telling me that no one has died from marijuana use and therefore it’s safe. I’m not against marijuana used for medical purposes—it’s proven to be an effective painkiller—but I don’t think anyone should smoke it just for kicks. Through some online research, I found out that smoking marijuana frequently increases the chance of a heart attack and weakens the immune system, on top of it causing breathing problems. Considering the potential consequences, I think marijuana just isn’t worth the trouble it causes. Elliot Kwon, 18, Palos Verdes Peninsula HS
My uncle has been arrested for smoking
I don’t like what weed does to people. My uncle smokes a lot. One summer after sixth grade I was staying with my grandparents. They would get calls when my uncle was arrested for smoking. He has even come to their house when he was high. He would always fight with my grandfather. I hated it because he never was aggressive otherwise. One time he was yelling at my grandpa and he started throwing things. I was afraid and I left the room. If California legalizes marijuana I will try to move out of the state because I do not want to be around more people like my uncle. Caitlin Bryan, 18, Valley Alternative Magnet School (2010 graduate)
It's hard to look at M.C. Esher's drawings of staircases -- those impossibly twisted and gravity-defying, yet seemingly realistic series of steps -- and not want to jump in and climb one yourself. To do so, perhaps the first step would be to apply Esher's 2D illusion of misleading right angles to the 3D world we walk around in.
Which is just what Kokichi Sugihara of Japan's Meiji University has been working on.Read more...
Election time floods us with numbers: from the percentage of likely voters to the tally of Senate seats up for grabs to, of course, the plurality of votes cast for the winning candidate. These kinds of numbers go together with election season like turning leaves go with a Northeast autumn – they’re practically a law of nature. But as you head to the voting booths next week, it’s worth remembering that, in fact, these particular sets of numbers are completely arbitrary and, some have argued, bad for democracy.Read more...