The only thing
I'll miss about media coverage of the Michael Jackson trial is the
amusing manner in which our telegenic Assistant District Attorney-turned-talking
head Jim Hammer refers to Michael Jackson as Michael Jackson on every
reference. If you don't know what I'm talking about, I just demonstrated
this in the previous sentence. But enough about Michael Jackson.
Most San Franciscans first became aware of Hammer when he prosecuted
dog mauling defendants Robert Noel and Marjorie Knoller in 2002. The
City and one Sunset District family in particular were revisited by
this horror last week. Among the tragedies of the fatal mauling of
12 year-old Nicholas Faibish by his family's pet pit bulls is that
it seems so likely to happen again.
Animal behaviorists have been quick to remind us that most pet owners
are not trained to recognize the warning signs when a pit bull starts
to become territorial in the home. Maybe those owners should be required
to recognize those signs. You need a license to drive your car and
are expected to understand how it works because it's very dangerous
Annie Jupiter Jones of the Mission District talked me out of being
phobic about pit bulls a couple of years ago. She introduced me to
a pit bull friendly organization, Bad Rap (Bay Area Doglovers Responsible
About Pitbulls). According to the group's web site, pit bulls do not
just "snap" and turn on people. The organization supports euthanasia
for pit bulls that display aggression toward people or a "defective
temperament." Again, it's up to the pet owner to recognize warning
signs of aggression. Visit www.badrap.org/rescue for more information.
Notes on happier subjects: Hank Machtay is a teacher at Galileo Academy
who reports that wonderful things are happening there. The state's
Department of Education recently named Galileo one of California's
Distinguished Schools for 2005. The high school was also named Exemplary
Career & Technical Education School. Last week, students from Galileo's
Academy of Information Technology showed off their web sites, videos,
and animation projects to visitors and mentors from IBM.
Machtay tells me that these highly skilled, dedicated young people
still need summer internships. Says Machtay, "Most businesses don't
know that if they take a high school intern through the San Francisco
Unified School District the district assumes the cost of insurance
and payroll taxes." Visit Galileoweb.org for more information.
Justine Wolitzer is a local who works for San Francisco School Volunteers,
a nonprofit organization with a mission to help public school students
build connections to the community through classroom volunteers. Here
is SFSV by the numbers, courtesy of Wolitzer, "Each year we recruit
and train approximately 2,500 individuals who volunteer in virtually
all 117 San Francisco public schools and serve over 30,000 students
- more than half the entire student population. Since we began in
1963, we have trained over 82,000 volunteers and we have reached over
830,000 students." That's impressive! Visit sfsv.org for more information.
For my money, the Randall Museum is still among the best kept secrets
for young people in the City. I plan to take my nephew there when
he visits in August. Smaller and less manic than the Exploratorium,
the Randall Museum is located out of traffic congestion in Corona
Heights. Kids can visit with animals, study dinosaur bones, or conduct
a science experiment. Grown ups and other San Franciscophiles can
enjoy great views and the Benny Bufano sculpture garden.
Finally, the best thing anyone can do for kids this summer is to turn
off the television. I found a great device in a gift shop on 17th
near Castro Street. TV-B-Gone has already made my house a happier
home. With a simple point and click, the key chain-sized device zaps
almost any television instantly. I contacted the inventor with an
assist from Gina Zagotta, a former advertising industry co-worker.
"The dangers of watching too much TV are very real," says TV-B-Gone
inventor Mitch Altman. "Studies show that TV undermines family time,
harms academic performance, encourages violence and promotes sedentary
lifestyles." The Neilsen company, which monitors viewing habits, reports
that the average child watches approximately 18,000 television murders
before high school graduation.
Altman says the idea for TV-B-Gone came when he was out with friends
one night and they all found themselves watching the restaurant's
television instead of enjoying each other's company. I don't recommend
using this device at any of the City's great sports bars, however
it is the perfect way to pull the plug on your mate's Law & Order
obsession. Trust me on that one.
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