Ethan Zuckerman on civic engagement

Tracking how young people are expressing voice and exerting agency in public spheres through participatory politics.

"Pre-gaming" leads to riskier behavior and more alcohol consumption, groundbreaking study finds

A Swiss study has found that "pre-drinking," "pre-funking," "pre-gaming"—basically, the ritual among college-age young adults of drinking before you go out to drink, leads to "excessive consumption and adverse consequences."

Pre-gaming didn't have a name when I was their age; it's interesting how the phenomenon (is it even a phenomenon?) has become a media meme this year. This NYT story is another example.

I realize the newly-released study provides citeable evidence about a behavior with dangerous consequences, but the results are kind of like, yo, thanks, Captain Obvious.

"Increased drinking was associated with a greater likelihood of blackouts, hangovers, absences from work or school or alcohol poisoning. Pre-drinkers were also found to engage more often in unintended drug use, unsafe sex, drunken driving or violent behavior."

Sounds about right. More in the LA Times. Read the rest

Some justice at last, for space-loving teen podcaster paralyzed by bullies

Photo : an iPhone snap I took of Sawyer (L) with space journalist Miles O'Brien (center) and astronaut Leroy Chiao (R) during the STS-135 SpaceFlightNow live launch webcast. This shot was taken minutes before the shuttle took off from launchpad 39A.

One of the bright spots in attending NASA shuttle launches last year with Miles O'Brien and the SpaceFlightNow webcasters was meeting a teen space enthusiast named Sawyer Rosenstein (web/Twitter). The 18-year old runs an awesome space podcast, does space education work with children, advocates for science and space awareness, and lots of other cool stuff. We invited him to write a guest feature for Boing Boing, and it is one of my favorite guest posts ever.

Sawyer is physically disabled, as a result of a brutal bullying incident at age 12 that followed many other bullying incidents in school—he reached out to administrators for help early on, and got none.

Today, 6 years after the sucker punch that permanently changed his body, Sawyer received some justice. A $4.2 million settlement with the school district governing the middle school where the attack took place. His family also reached a private settlement with the attacker's family.

That money won't erase the physical challenges. It won't undo the suffering he has endured. It won't make the countless surgeries he's gone through, and may yet again, go away. It won't ensure that the kid who bullied him doesn't harm someone again (the bully received only a few day's suspension after the attack). Read the rest

After pepper-spraying incident, UC Davis redesigns website

Link. They might want to rethink that motto, however. (thanks, @justinq!)

 Police officer pepper-sprays seated, non-violent students at UC Davis Read the rest

Police officer pepper-sprays seated, non-violent students at UC Davis

[Video Link, by terrydatiger, and Video Link 2, by jamiehall1516].

At the University of California at Davis this afternoon, police tore down down the tents of students inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement, and arrested those who stood in their way. Others peacefully demanded that police release the arrested.

In the video above, you see a police officer [Update: UC Davis Police Lt. John Pike] walk down a line of those young people seated quietly on the ground in an act of nonviolent civil disobedience, and spray them all with pepper spray at very close range. He is clearing a path for fellow officers to walk through and arrest more students, but it's as if he's dousing a row of bugs with insecticide.

Wayne Tilcock of the Davis-Enterprise newspaper has a gallery of photographs from the incident, including the image thumbnailed above (larger size at Ten people in this scene were arrested, nine of whom were current UC Davis students. At least one woman is reported to have been taken away in an ambulance with chemical burns.

This 8-minute video was uploaded just a few hours ago, and has already become something of an iconic, viral emblem accross the web. We're flooded with eyewitness footage from OWS protests right now, but this one certainly feels like an important one, in part because of what the crowd does after the kids are pepper-sprayed. Watch the whole thing. Read the rest