Friday, September 14, 2007

Online Sites for Kids

I have written before about the wonders of some on-line sites including Starfall and Club Penguin. In Slate, a couple of articles on a related theme. Emily Brazelon finds that 11 year olds are not so thrilled with Club Penguin but enjoy other sites. Interestingly, price is the big factor. If it's not all free, it's not all fun.

Michael Agger spends too much time in Club Penguin. It is a very comprehensive treatment for interested parents.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

The contract state

Recently, my 8 year old daughter complained that her mother kept reneging on promises. She would promise one thing and then when the time came to keep the promise, she would change it or move it further away in time. It was, of course, all true.

So we had a discussion as to what to do about it. I suggested that perhaps she would like to get things in writing the next time Mummy made a promise.

"What good would that do?"

"Well you would have a record of what the promise is."

"So what? She will just change it again."

"In that case you could point out that it is a binding contract."

"What does binding contract mean?"

"It means that if Mummy doesn't keep her promise, the government will step in to enforce it."

"Really, how?"

"You could take Mummy to Court and a judge would order her to keep her promise."

With that she whipped up Microsoft Word and drew herself up a contract including her consideration not to complain about the broken promise unless it was broken. Her mother was surprised to get the contract, in duplicate, but signed it anyhow.

Tonight, I found myself being presented with my own contract terms. I had, over dinner, promised to let my daughter stay up late over the Spring break if she went to bed early before it. An hour later I was asked to sit down and sign a contract to that effect, including the standard 'no complaint' clause. I happily signed and our signatures were witness and the contract was filed away.

I am a little worried that I have opened a can of worms here. Everything has suddenly gone from informal to highly legalistic. I guess our daughter has a few trust issues. But at the moment I have no complaints.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

The unformulaic Ratatoullie

As I wrote last year, Pixar seem to have a formula about their movies -- a good one -- and Cars exemplified that. Well, this year's installment, Ratatoullie, is anything but formulaic. There were no popular songs, no quick jokes intended to play on some bit of popular culture and a setting that was hardly wistful but instead a reminder of how rat infested Paris must be.

I went to see this movie with high expectations. This review in Slate will explain why. Clearly, the critics loved it. Now that review encompasses my impression too -- it did not disappoint. But more amusingly, if there was one big risk the movie took, it was to try and appeal to critics by, in part, being about them. It would have been so easy for critics to play on that with a snappy angle should the movie have failed in its goal. But it didn't and so instead the critics were humbled. When you see this movie you will see why that is so. The analogy will hit you over the head. And for those of us who consume the critics' output, it makes this movie and all the more satisfying dish.

Now, the children want some ratatoullie; anyone got any good recipes?