Monday Miscellany, 5/6/24

Monday Miscellany, 5/6/24 May 6, 2024

France threatens to send troops to Ukraine.  Young adults who can’t write their name.  And in the future, everyone will wear glasses.

France Threatens to Send Troops to Ukraine

France would consider sending troops to Ukraine if Russians break through their lines, and this could very well happen.  And if the Russians fire upon our NATO ally, this would trigger Article 5 of that treaty and drag the United States, as well as the rest of Europe, into war with Russia.

French president Emmanuel Macron made that threat in an interview after a speech in which he said that Europe would “die” if Russia wins in Ukraine.  From a UK report:

“I’m not ruling anything out, because we are facing someone who is not ruling anything out,’ Macron said when asked if he stood by comments earlier this year not excluding the sending of Western troops that sent shockwaves around Europe. . . .

Macron said ‘if Russia decided to go further, we will in any case all have to ask ourselves this question’ of sending troops, describing his refusal to rule out such a move as a ‘strategic wake-up call for my counterparts’.

He described Russia as ‘a power of regional destabilisation’ and ‘a threat to Europeans’ security’.

‘I have a clear strategic objective: Russia cannot win in Ukraine,’ Macron said.

‘If Russia wins in Ukraine, there will be no security in Europe,’ he warned.

In the meantime, Russia is reloading for a new offensive, mustering 150,000 troops armed by enormous contributions from its own allies, an “axis” consisting of Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, and Islamic terrorist groups such as Hamas.  Another UK newspaper raises the alarm in Putin’s crushing new offensive could be the end of Ukraine:

Missiles from North Korea, drones from Iran, and a massive amount of technical assistance from China. Russian President Vladimir Putin may complain about the backing Ukraine is receiving from its Nato allies, but it is doubtful that Russia would be able to maintain its military offensive without the help it is getting from its motley collection of autocratic friends. . . .

The help Russia is receiving from this unholy alliance of hostile states is certainly having a tangible impact on the battlefield, where Ukraine’s plight was recently described as being “desperate” by senior Ukrainian security officials. This parlous state of affairs, moreover, does not appear to have improved to any significant extent, despite the US and its European allies – including Britain – recently reaffirming their commitment to addressing Kyiv’s dire need for extra munitions. . . .

The shortages facing Ukrainian forces in the east are even more concerning given that the Russians are said to be assembling a 150,000-strong force to launch a fresh offensive in the coming months. The prospect of Russia making further gains, moreover, will be greatly boosted by the fact that the Russians continue to enjoy air superiority, with still no sign of the long-promised F-16 fighters, which the Ukrainians first requested 18 months ago, becoming operational. . . .

As the alliance Moscow has assembled to support its war effort in Ukraine graphically demonstrates, the conflict is, from the West’s perspective, no longer a war against Russia: it is a war against a potent combination of autocratic regimes that, in their different ways, are totally opposed to the concept of liberal western democracy.

Young Adults Who Can’t Write Their Name

In 2010, the so-called “Core Curriculum” intended to set a nation-wide standard for America’s schools said that in an age of computers and word processing programs, it is no longer necessary to teach handwriting and cursive.  As a result, public and many private schools dropped these skills from their curriculum.  Now many graduates of those schools cannot write legibly or even sign their names.

The London Daily Mail has published an incredulous article entitled America’s fight to save handwriting from extinction as IQs begin to fall for first time ever and teachers warn some 20-year-olds can’t sign checks anymore:

Teachers, parents and experts who spoke to said they were seeing kids and young adults who don’t know how to sign their name or read cursive. . . .

Dr. Lori Koerner, the assistant superintendent for the Riverhead Central School District in New York, told that it is essential for elementary and middle schoolers to be taught cursive.

‘Though technology has its benefits, children need to be able to read cursive in the event a document is presented to them along their journey.

‘They most certainly, at the very least, need to know how to sign their name,’ Koerner said.

‘I have encountered too many secondary students and employment candidates who cannot sign documents relative to their onboarding process.’

Teachers and coworkers continue to struggle with ineligible handwriting, and a 2021 survey conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Bic USA Inc. found that 45 percent of Americans struggle to read their own handwriting while a shocking 70 percent reported that they have trouble reading notes or reports from their coworkers.

Some people have expressed similar views, saying that signing important documents will become a stressful practice without the ability to write cursive.

‘My 20 year-old-granddaughter struggles to sign a check,’ said Kimberly Jacovino of Monroe, Connecticut.

The story also cites experts who say that the connection between the brain and the physical fine-motor skills involved in handwriting plays an important role in the development of cognitive ability.  They raise the possibility that dropping handwriting may be related to America’s declining IQ scores.

A number of states, including New York and California, have passed laws requiring that penmanship and cursive be put back into the curriculum.

In the Future, Everyone Will Wear Glasses

Nearsightedness–or myopia, the difficulty in seeing or focusing on objects at a distance–is reaching epidemic proportions world-wide.  Researchers estimate that by 2050, half of the world’s population will need glasses.

So reports Andrew Herbert of the Rochester Institute of Technology in Study Finds.  (For the published study, go here.)  Why is that?  According to Herbert,

Two recent studies featuring extensive surveys of children and their parents provide strong support for the idea that an important driver of the uptick in myopia is that people are spending more time focusing on objects immediately in front of our eyes, whether a screen, a book or a drawing pad. The more time we spend focusing on something within arm’s length of our faces, dubbed “near work,” the greater the odds of having myopia.

This implicates the dominance of electronic screens in our lives and those of our children, but worthwhile practices such as reading are also a factor.

Herbert also cites studies that suggest a way to prevent myopia or stop it from progressing further:  spending more time outdoors in the sunlight.

A 2022 study, for example, found that myopia rates were more than four times greater for children who didn’t spend much time outdoors – say, once or twice a week – compared with those who were outside daily. At the same time, kids who spent more than three hours a day while not at school reading or looking at a screen close-up were four times more likely to have myopia than those who spent an hour or less doing so.

In another paper, from 2012, researchers conducted a meta-analysis of seven studies that compared duration of time spent outdoors with myopia incidence. They also found that more time spent outdoors was associated with lower myopia incidence and progression. The odds of developing myopia dropped by 2% for each hour spent outside per week.

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