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Fatherhood in the 21st Century

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Category: Child Safety
Small Boy with Assault Rifle

Thanks To TechAddiction.com For The Pic

Last year, when my son was 3, I noticed that a number of the kids in his preschool class were wearing Transformers clothing. I began talking to another father that I was friendly with and asked if his son really even knew anything about the Transformers, since he was only 3 years old. The reply surprised me. “Oh yeah, he loves the movies. I think he’s seen the first one about 50 times.”

My mind raced through the film. An all-out attack on a military base in the Middle East – bodies flying everywhere. A sexy Megan Fox. Machine guns, explosions, death. Is this appropriate for my 3 year old to watch? My mind flashed back to my childhood. I remember driving 100 miles to see Return of the Jedi on opening night, at the tender age of 4. When I was older, we had a video store on the corner that I used to rent movies from, and I recall renting any movie that I wanted to see – even R rated movies – well before the age of 12. Does violence in the movies have an effect on our children?

We tried watching the Transformers with our son. I skipped all the parts I thought were questionable, and watched the robot fight scenes. They didn’t appeal to him, and we didn’t even finish the movie. Problem avoided.

Fast forward one year, and things have changed. Now, my son wants to watch Transformers. He’s more familiar with the franchise because he received some toys as presents, and the other kids are bringing the toys to preschool more often. We watched it again, and this time, he loved the movie. I was very open with him –  I kept asking if he was scared, if he knew what was going on, if he knew that it wasn’t real. He said he wasn’t scared, that he knew it wasn’t real, and that he liked it. We ended up watching Transformers 2 the next night.

Last week I was in the basement, playing the video game Assasins’ Creed. This game, set in the 12th Century features a lot of running, climbing, and swordplay. Some of the swordplay is surprisingly graphic – the swords penetrate armour and flesh, protruding from the other side of the victims. After one particularly difficult battle I heard a voice behind me say “Go Daddy!” My son had come into the basement and had been watching from the shadows.

Once again I had a conversation with him.  And again he told me that he knew it wasn’t real and that he wasn’t scared by what he saw. I’ve seen no increase in his aggressiveness toward other kids, and he hasn’t had any nightmares.

My parents were not models of responsibility, and I would never let my son do many of the things that I was allowed to do as a child. But, I wonder sometimes if we are too protective in this 21st century. Bugs Bunny cartoons on Teletoon Retro have disclaimers before they air because of the ‘violence’ contained within, as if our children were going to drop anvils on each other. Last night I was playing Call of Duty: MW3 in the basement and my son came down again. He cuddled up beside me and watched for a bit. Then he got bored, and went back to his mom and sister.

I’d love to get my son interested in Star Wars. He’s the age I was when I was introduced to it, and I have fond memories of the series. In talks with other dads I’ve learned that they also feel this is the age to introduce them to ‘The Force’.

So, what to do? Well, I think we need to take that PG rating seriously – parental guidance means asking questions, talking to our kids, and making sure that they are okay with what they are seeing. There is obviously a moving line for this type of thing – what will be okay for one parent may be completely taboo for another. But in many ways, I think that as long as you are aware enough to be asking the questions, that you are probably responsible enough to make the right decision for your kids. In my case, I bought a copy of Transformers 3 to finish off the series with my son. And I’m looking for Star Wars on DVD. But I think I’ll keep those Sylvester Stallone movies locked up tight for a few more years.

I’d love to hear what you think.

This is a guest post by Jane Thompson of www.childproofingtips.com. -Nick’s Dad

Often parents see a sea change in their little one’s growth through the first year.  Your little one can be swift and energetic, leaving you gasping to keep pace.  Once they start crawling and moving about, trouble starts.  No one can deny the importance of baby proofing before your baby is out of the crib and moving about in your beautiful and spacious home.

Estimate The Requirements

Babies are curious by nature.  They toss things about and often tend to pop small things into their mouth.  While baby proofing your house, assess the characteristics of your home and think from the baby’s point of view.  Go down on your knees if required.  Think of the corners your baby can go to, any free wires, unlocked cabinets where cleaning supplies are, or any big things which can fall upon your baby, etc.

Mishaps That Can Occur In a jiffy

Thinking your baby can meet with a mishap within your house can be unnerving so keep in mind all the places the baby would go to.  Babies are prone to a lot of accidents before they reach the age of 4.  Choking is the most dangerous of these as babies put objects into their mouth.  Fire and drowning incidents are big hazards for young kids too.

Babies Choking

By virtue of their small size babies can get into small spaces where there is a danger of suffocation.  Do not lay your baby on a water bed unattended or leave the baby with pillows all around.  Although the pillows will not let the baby fall, suffocation is possible.  Soft toys, pillows, and cushions should not be placed near small infants who are yet to gain control of their movements.

Keep Popping Things Away

Curious babies tend to explore things when they get hold of them.   The baby’s crib should be far from window, curtains, or blind cords as the baby tends to pull them.  Do not tie a thread to a pacifier and hang it around the baby’s neck as this can lead to choking.  Likewise, do not leave the baby with toys that have long strings.

The living room can be a hazardous place for the curious crawling toddler and is one of the places that needs baby proofing attention the most.   Seal unused power sockets and plugs to prevent babies digging at them.  Ensure there are no free wires in which the baby can to get caught in or pull a heavy object upon them.  Remember to install baby gates on the top and bottom of staircases and ensure baby’s head does not get stuck between the rails.

Baby Proofing – Not Tough As It Seems

For first-timers, this can be pretty demanding as they have to learn a lot about babies and providing safety.  Do not worry as this will happen eventually.  While making your home safe, you will realize the hazards if you view like a baby would.  Parents must be conscious of what the baby can do and what they must do to avoid mishaps occurring inadvertently

My son went for a drive on a Yamaha Rhino this weekend – I’m not entirely sure how I feel about that, but Mom assures me that he was completely safe.

In the vein of letting things go and not being afraid of taking some small risks with your kids, I’d like to share a video with you from a TED event. Gever Tulley, founder of The Tinkering School, shares a list of 5 dangerous things you should let your kids do.

These come from a much larger list – a book Tulley has written titled [Amazon Link]Fifty Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do)“.

Enjoy.

I had another post planned for today, but a recent post by C.C. Chapman from Digital Dads made me rethink my plans. C.C.’s post was about a dance competition that he attended at which many of the elementary school age girls were dressed in fishnet stockings, tight boy shorts, and were performing very suggestive dance moves.

C.C. rightly (IMHO) suggested that he would refuse to allow his daughter to wear those outfits or perform those moves, despite the fact that dance is becoming a passion for his daughter.

Have You Been Tested As A Parent?

I haven’t, at least not in this way. Would I refuse to allow my son to do something that he wants to do, that his peer group is allowed to do, and that other parents in my circle think is okay because I don’t like it? I hope so.

One of the reasons I love writing about my experiences as a dad so much is because it forces me to sit down and think about parenting in a non-reactive way and to play out scenarios in my head and try to imagine what my response would be in those situations.

What Are Your Limits?

What I find so interesting about this story is that if just one of the dads involved had stood up and said “Hey, this isn’t right” this dance may never have occurred. Surely the moms and dads of those little girls knew that this was wrong, but they went along with it, not wanting to seem like a prude or go against the grain or draw unwanted attention to themselves. If just one person had objected, the others might have been shamed into rethinking that this was a good idea.

But not one of them did.

Fatherhood Friday at Dad Blogs
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I don’t pretend to be an expert on food. To be honest, I’m not even very knowledgeable about the topic of food. Sure, I’m a pretty good cook, and I have some ideas about what food is good for us and what food is bad for us. However, I don’t know enough to keep me from being in the 66% of people who are currently overweight.

A few weeks ago, Nick and I went to Wal-Mart in the afternoon and we bought a three pack of Reese Peanut Butter Cups. We each had one, and the third cup stayed in my coat pocket. That night when it was time for a bedtime snack, I offered him the third peanut butter cup. My wife made it clear that this was not an appropriate snack. Of course, when I actually thought about it, I also knew that this was not a healthy snack. However, habit and convenience led me to not think about it.

I think that most of us know about food, but we don’t spend a lot of time actually thinking about food or the food that we eat. Of course, as adults, we have every right to eat whatever we want and live with the consequences of that. However, my concern was that I was teaching Nick some poor eating habits, and that did not sit well with me. I reached out to a Nutritionist with a list of questions, and that will be the subject of a coming blog post. In the meantime, I came across an excellent video from TED 2010. In it, Jamie Oliver (of Food Network fame) talks about childhood obesity and the way that we feed our kids. It’s about 20 minutes long, and really made me think about how I feed my son, and also about how I feed myself. I hope that you enjoy it.


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The medical journal The Lancet has retracted the controversial 1998 study which first suggested a link between the MMR (Measles, Mumps, and Rubella) vaccine and Autism.

I hardly think that this will quiet the controversy, but it is an interesting development. Here is a link to the story on CNN.com:

http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/02/02/lancet.retraction.autism/index.html

The story at CNN has some interesting related articles and a video, but I am also copying the story here for you to read.

The Following Is From CNN.com:

(CNN) — The medical journal The Lancet on Tuesday retracted a controversial 1998 paper that linked the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine to autism.
The study subsequently had been discredited, and last week, the lead author, Dr. Andrew Wakefield, was found to have acted unethically in conducting the research.
The General Medical Council, which oversees doctors in Britain, said that “there was a biased selection of patients in The Lancet paper” and that his “conduct in this regard was dishonest and irresponsible.”

The panel found that Wakefield subjected some children in the study to various invasive medical procedures such as colonoscopies and MRI scans. He also paid children for blood samples for research purposes at his son’s birthday party, an act that “showed a callous disregard” for the “distress and pain” of the children, the panel said.
Following the council’s findings last week, The Lancet retracted the study and released this statement.

“It has become clear that several elements of the 1998 paper by Wakefield et al. are incorrect, contrary to the findings of an earlier investigation. In particular, the claims in the original paper that children were ‘consecutively referred’ and that investigations were ‘approved’ by the local ethics committee have been proven to be false. Therefore we fully retract this paper from the published record.”

Dr. Richard Horton, editor of The Lancet, said he reviewed the GMC report regarding Wakefield’s conduct. “It’s the most appalling catalog and litany of some the most terrible behavior in any research and is therefore very clear that it has to be retracted,” he said.
CNN was unable to reach Wakefield for a comment.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention praised The Lancet’s retraction, saying, “It builds on the overwhelming body of research by the world’s leading scientists that concludes there is no link between MMR vaccine and autism. We want to remind parents that vaccines are very safe and effective and they save lives. Parents who have questions about the safety of vaccines should talk to their pediatrician or their child’s health care provider.”

Since its publication, Wakefield’s study has attracted many critics who argued that the work had been so flawed it should not be regarded as scientific. Wakefield theorized that the measles vaccine caused gastrointestinal problems and that those GI problems led to autism. In his view, the virus used in the vaccine grew in the intestinal tract, leading the bowel to become porous because of inflammation. Then material seeped from the bowel into the blood, Wakefield’s theory said, affecting the nervous system and causing autism. But subsequent research has been unable to duplicate Wakefield’s findings.

A September 2008 study replicated key parts of Wakefield’s original paper and found no evidence that the vaccine had a connection to either autism or GI disorders. The study, conducted at Columbia University, Massachusetts General Hospital and the CDC, also found no relationship between the timing of the vaccine and children getting GI disorders or autism.
The Wakefield study has been a key piece of evidence cited by parents who do not vaccinate their children. “The story became credible because it was published in The Lancet,” Alison Singer, president of the Autism Science Foundation, said Tuesday. “It was in The Lancet, and we really rely on these medical journals.”

Singer, the mother of a child with autism, added, “That study did a lot of harm. People became afraid of vaccinations — this is the Wakefield legacy — this unscientifically grounded fear of vaccinations that result in children dying from vaccine-preventable diseases.”

Retractions are rare in medical journals and usually occur as a result of fraud or plagiarism, said Marcia Angell, a former editor of The New England Journal of Medicine. “It is a major event when there is a retraction like this,” she said. “It sounds like there was a misleading design of the study … patients not randomly chosen. There were ethical violations.”

William Schaffner, professor and chairman of the department of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, described the journal’s level of action as “unprecedented.”

“Since Wakefield’s study came out, some 20 other studies have come out, and each one of these studies, done by different researchers, in different populations and in different countries has denied the associations between vaccines and autism,” he said. “… Scientifically, this story is over.”

Schaffner added, “This series of events is damning and should refocus all of us in the field to find better methods of diagnosis and treatments.” The Lancet came under criticism for the initial publication of the paper 12 years ago.

Calling the Lancet’s retraction “exceptionally disingenuous,” Dr. Paul Offit, author of “Autism’s False Prophets: Bad Science, Risky Medicine, and the Search for a Cure,” said the medical journal has much to be embarrassed about over the matter.

“The science in that paper was never that good enough to warrant publication,” he said. “And it did a lot of harm. …

“The mere publishing of this paper created something that will never fully go way — the false notion that MMR caused autism,” said Offit, the chief of division of infectious diseases at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. The retraction did little to change the opinion of Rebecca Estepp, a spokeswoman for Talk About Curing Autism. Estepp said her son has autism and bowel problems. She said she remains convinced he had a vaccine reaction and that Wakefield’s research helped doctors identify how to help her son. “I guess the GMC can say whatever they want to say for the rest of their existence, but I know that my son got better because of Dr. Wakefield,” she said.

Cases in which U.S. families have sued alleging a vaccine-autism link have had mixed outcomes. In 2007, a U.S. federal program intended to compensate victims of injuries caused by vaccines concluded that a 9-year-old girl’s underlying illness had predisposed her to symptoms of autism and was “significantly aggravated” by the vaccinations. Two years later, three different American families sought compensation from the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, but the panel ruled that they had not presented sufficient evidence to prove that the vaccines caused autism in their children.
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Stork Craft & Fisher Price Recall 2.1 Million Cribs

I’ve got a few comments and extra information about this recall, but first, in case you haven’t heard about this yet, here is the link to the actual recall.

http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml10/10046.html

Note that this recall affects all of North America.

Getting through to Stork Craft has been almost impossible this week. However, I did manage to find a link to the Stork Craft blog that not only seems to work, but also provides the information that concerned parents need to get.

http://storkcraft.blogspot.com/2009/11/stork-craft-recall-information.html

The company has also issued a YouTube interview with the President of Stork Craft. You can view it here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4EuCV8f1ndc

Stork Craft has also posted a YouTube video showing how to install the recall kit. You can view it here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f2RUXYmipmU&feature=related

You should also note that this is not the first time Stork Craft has had a recall on these cribs. I covered the last recall here:

http://justcallmedad.com/2009/01/important-storkcraft-crib-recall/

While the repair kit has been approved by Canadian and US officials, one US official, Inez Tenenbaum, head of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, suggested on NBC’s Today show that “It is made of plastic, so if you can afford another crib that does not have a drop-side, or even if you can’t afford it, there are many charities in communities that can provide you with a new crib. That really is the safest way to handle this situation.”

This is the crib that we have; we have inspected it and have found everything to be in good working order. Nick is still sleeping in it for the time being.

Depending on the age of your child, you have a few options.
1. Replace the crib with a new crib.
2. Repair the crib as per the recall.
3. Replace the crib with a toddler bed.

Parenting is never easy, is it?

Fatherhood Friday at Dad Blogs
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Let me start out this post by saying two things:

1. I am not a doctor, just a concerned parent. This post represents only my opinion, and you should do your own research and consult your own experts before making a decision.

2. I live in Canada. This may seem insignificant, but my readers that live in the United States have many more, and in my opinion better, options available to them.

The Canadian government, like most other governments, has locked up the market on the swine flu vaccine. This means that if you want to get it, you will probably have to get it from a government clinic or vaccination program. This also means that the vast majority of the vaccines on the market today will have been chosen by the government in order to protect the widest cross section of people. Any pandemic prevention program is a numbers game; save the lives of the most number of people possible.

It is in that last sentence that things go from theory to reality for most parents, especially those that live in Canada. You see, the Canadian government has chosen two vaccines to distribute amongst its citizens. One is adjuvanted, one is non-adjuvanted. An adjuvant is a chemical substance that is added to a vaccine to quote “make it more effective” endquote. While that sounds like a good thing, it is a little misleading. See, the efficacy of the adjuvanted vaccine is around 98%, while the efficacy of the non-adjuvanted vaccine is about 95%. That hardly seems like a difference that makes it worth adding extra chemicals to a drug. In reality, an adjuvant does one other thing: it allows the drug manufacturer to use less anti-viral ingredients in the vaccine. Anti-virals are the ingredient that makes the vaccine work, and they are also the ingredient that is in very short supply. By adding an adjuvant to a drug, the manufacturer uses up less of the precious anti-viral ingredient and therefore increases the number of vaccines available to inoculate people. Thus, more people are able to get vaccinated.

At first glance, this seems like a great thing; more people get protected, and the world becomes safer, even for those who are not vaccinated. What’s the problem? Depending on where you live and what your government believes there is either no problem, or some very large concerns are raised. In much of Europe, adjuvants have been used for years. The adjuvant used in the Canadian vaccine is called AS03, and adults in Europe have been taking it or a variant of it for over a decade with very few side effects.

Notice two things: In Europe, and Adults.

In the United States, according to my research, the FDA currently has no approved vaccinations that contain adjuvants, despite their track record in Europe and approval by the World Health Organization. Why? Also, there has been very little data on their use in children. According to the drug information sheet, for children 6 months to 35 months “No clinical data are available for influenza vaccines with AS03 in this age group.”

Wait, did I read that right? There is no history of this drug being used in children from 6 months to 3 years old? Yes, that is correct. In effect, this vaccination program is going to be a very large clinical trial for the safety of adjuvants in children. Sounds creepy to me.

But, didn’t I just say that there are two vaccines, and adjuvanted version, and a non-adjuvanted version? Why not just request the non-adjuvanted version? Interesting. See, in addition to there being no research on the safety of this adjuvant in children under three, there is also no research into the safety of the adjuvant in pregnant women. So, even though the government claims that the adjuvant is safe for pregnant women, they also say that the preferred vaccine for pregnant women is the non-adjuvanted version. Because of this, the end-user does not get to choose the vaccine they receive. To me, that sounds like talking out both sides of your mouth.

Both versions of the drug available in Canada also contain Thimersol.

In the US, you have many other options, including Thimersol free versions, if you can find them, as well as a live-virus version that is inhaled into the nose as a mist.

I placed a phone call to my local health district, and was told that I could request the non-adjuvanted version, but that the decision on which version to give would ultimately be made by the person in charge of the clinic based on demand. There would be no guarantees.

What is a parent to do?

First of all, I’m not a Thimersol conspiracy believer. The drug (which acts as a preservative) is believed by many people to be a trigger for Autism, a disorder with whom any parent is well-versed in this day and age. The problem is, Thimersol was removed from almost every vaccine given to kids in 2001, and the rates of Autism continue to rise. This leads me to think that there is no Thimersol-Autism connection, and the vast majority of doctors agree with this. In my mind, there is no worry here.

Now I need to deal with the issue of adjuvants. There is a lot of talk about these chemicals on the internet, some of it correct, some of it sort of correct, and even more that is wildly wrong. The most glaring example of this is the claim that the adjuvant used in an anthrax vaccine is the cause of Gulf-War Syndrome. All of the actual research that I could find says that this is wrong, and that there was no adjuvant used in that vaccine. Other conspiracy options on the net include the adjuvant being used to sterilize our children for population control to the adjuvant causing a whole host of neurological disorders. I did not however, find any conspiracies relating to a zombie apocalypse, which is a good thing. Unless, of course, the lack of zombie conspiracies is actually a conspiracy in itself?

Even though I love a good conspiracy, I don’t believe that the government is going to knowingly sterilize an entire generation of people. However, I still don’t like the idea of my son being used as a test mule for the government or a drug company.

My available options were as follows:

1. Drive to the US for the nasal mist version.

2. Give my son the adjuvant-free version.

3. Give my son the dose and version reccomended by the government.

I strongly considered option #1. If I lived in the US, this would be my choice. However, the odds of being able to find it in the states near me, coupled with the fact that they probably wouldn’t give it to my son because we were from out of state meant that I had to let it go. My preferred choice was #2. I would gladly trade 3% in effectiveness for the reliability of a known vaccine (the swine flu vaccine anti-viral is created the same way that the seasonal flu anti-viral is created). However, I also decided that, if no other option was available, that I would allow him to get the adjuvant version.

In the end, we trekked to the swine flu vaccination clinic, stated outright that we wished for the non-adjuvant vaccine, and were promptly denied. There was only enough for pregnant women, period. Nick got the adjuvant version.

My decision process basically revolved around two factors. I did not believe that the government (and more importantly, doctors) would knowingly put an entire generation at risk, and also because I did not want Nick to get the swine flu. I have relatives in the medical field, and all of their stories are about how terrible this disease is. I know that there are a lot of anecdotal stories about the swine flu being milder than the regular flu, but in my experience many of these people are not being tested to determine whether they actually have swine flu or the seasonal flu. Doctors are treating everyone as if they have the swine flu to be cautious, but are not testing due to cost. The stories of confirmed swine flu cases I have heard all involve hospitals, very high fevers, and a lot of pain. In addition, the swine flu seems to be affecting younger children more, probably because they have been exposed to fewer viruses over their lives, while older people are more likely to already have some form of protection from the disease.

This was not an easy decision, and I know many will think me foolish for making the decision that I did. At last study, over 50% of people in Canada were not planning on taking the vaccine. I ultimately decided, based on Nick’s previous lack of reactions to vaccines and a (I can’t believe I’m saying this)  trust in the government experts, that my son would be safer taking the vaccine than not taking it.

Whatever you decide to do, please make sure that you thoroughly investigate all of your sources of information. There is a lot of great information out there, but there is also a lot of wildly inaccurate information floating around. Good luck to all of you in whatever you choose.

 Drug Data Sheet:

http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/dhp-mps/prodpharma/legislation/interimorders-arretesurgence/prodinfo-vaccin-eng.php

Fatherhood Friday at Dad Blogs
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I saw true fear last night in the eye’s of a mother.

Nick and I were at the playground trying out the “Big-Boy Swing” when I saw two little children run out of a back alley and down the sidewalk. I’ve never been particularly good at guessing the ages of children, but it struck me that these kids were way too little to be out on their own. I watched them for a few seconds and then they went back the way that they had come from.

As Nick and I played the boys came back once more. They made quite an impression on me. They were too small to be out running around in my opinion, especially up against a busy road. There was no parent nearby. I contemplated whether I should walk across the park and tell them to go home, then decided against it. They ran away again.

About 10 minutes later I saw a little girl (maybe 10?) running around on that side of the street. She ran across the park and asked me if I had seen two little boys. My heart sank. I told her that I had seen them, and the direction that they had run.

Nick and I left the park, and as I buckled him into his car seat I saw the mother looking around. I told her I was driving in the direction that she was looking, and asked her for her phone number in case I found the boys. She told me that she was going to be phoning the police for help, and gave me her address. She was obviously upset.

The good news: The boys were found. But it raised a few questions in my mind. Should I have talked to the boys? Should I have told them not to play there, or taken them home?

I pray that if Nick were ever lost that a kind stranger would rescue them. At the same time, I would be upset if some stranger walked up to them while they were playing in front of my house (remember, I didn’t know if the kids were right outside their house, or miles away from home).

I’d like to ask you: What would you have done? Left the boys alone? Talked to them? Called the police? Where do you draw the line when it comes to talking to other people’s children? What if they hadn’t been playing on the street, but instead running around in the mall, or hitting someone at the playground?

Fatherhood Friday at Dad Blogs
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There isn’t a parent out there who hasn’t made some mistakes. I don’t mean to pick on one individual, but at least you aren’t this guy:
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Visit msnbc.com for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

 

This is a really bad idea, folks. I know times are tough, but there has to be a better solution.

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