Friday, November 17, 2006

Support Conservative Nonconformists

I checked out this post on Rudy Giuliani at the blog of one of my readers, Will Conway, who describes himself as "a high school student from Connecticut, and I am interested in US politics. I consider myself pretty far right on the political scale, and hold some controversial opinions. I hope you enjoy this blog."

Please go take a look at his blog and support young people who lean right--the new generation of nonconformists. Young people love to think of themselves as rebels and nonconformists in their "liberal" outlook, but the truth is, any kid who leans right today is the real rebel and has to go against the grain to have such views. Please support those young men like Will who are willing to be different.

The New Underclass

Are White, working-class boys the new underclass? (Thanks Mercurior):

White working-class boys have become the new "underclass", a report by Iain Duncan Smith, the former Conservative leader, warns today.

Boys from low-income white families are bottom of the heap in school performance, trailing behind every other major ethnic group.

The report argues that family breakdown, parental breakdown and peer pressure that it is not "cool to study" are the key factors in the collapse in educational achievements. It also cites drug and alcohol abuse by parents.

Where do boys get the idea that it is "not cool" to study?

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Another Stupid Quiz

Okay, the anchoress sucked me into this quiz and I don't even watch South Park:

Which South Park kid are you most like?


You are extremely hyper... mainly because of your high caffiene intake. You feel like you're under too much pressure.

Personality Test Results

Click Here to Take This Quiz
Brought to you by quizzes and personality tests.

Anyone out there watch South Park--who is this Tweek fellow? Is he lame?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Carolyn Ramsey, who is guest blogging at the Volokh Conspiracy shares her research on Intimate Homicides--here is a sample:

Lack of attention to non-lethal intimate violence may have been ‘the normal state of affairs’ throughout most of American history. Prior to the 1980s, only the colonial era (especially 1640 to 1680) and the late Victorian era (especially 1870 to 1890) witnessed sustained efforts to curb wife-beating and ‘unnatural severity’ toward children. However, scholars have overstated the level of public apathy toward men’s homicidal aggression against women. Leading criminal law casebooks, numerous law review articles, and books by influential legal scholars and historians repeat the erroneous claim that, in the past, the legal doctrines of self-defense and provocation endorsed men’s brutality, whereas women were severely punished for perpetrating intimate violence.

In fact, the converse was true. Data culled from dusty criminal case files in New York and Colorado demonstrates that, in both the eastern and western United States, men accused of killing their intimates often received stern punishment, while women charged with similar crimes were treated with leniency . . .

It is quite an eye opener--go take a look.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Interview with Popular Mechanics

popmechcov.jpgGlenn and I have been getting a lot of out of town visitors lately--this time it's Popular Mechanics editors, David Dunbar and Angela Diegel, who joined us for dinner. What do you do if you are like me--mechanically challenged to the point where installing a DVD player is considered a huge triumph and using a light kit to screw in a light bulb is your biggest victory? These experts have the answers.

They discuss how Popular Mechanics uses the web and their magazine to provide information to people with how-to clinics and articles that help both the novice like myself and those who are much more experienced expand upon their mechanical skills and understand how things work. They also tell us how their magazine holds the attention of scores of male readers (90% of their circulation) without sports or naked women. How do they do it?

You can listen directly by going here and clicking on the gray Flash player, or you can download the file directly by clicking right here. A lo-fi version suitable for dialup is available here. Better still, you can subscribe via iTunes, by clicking here.

This podcast is sponsored by Volvo at

Self Defense, Tennessee Style

Last night while watching the local Knoxville news, the lead story was a triumph in self defensive gun use. Greg "Lumpy" Lambert, a Knoxville commissioner was robbed at gun point at his car dealership. Even though the robber had the draw on Lambert, that did not stop him from protecting himself and his business:

Lambert, who is a strong gun rights activist and member of the National Rifle Association, reached into his pocket and pulled out his gun.

"I did a more proper draw out and up, and of course at that point I said, 'Drop it,' Lambert said. "He said he didn't want any trouble. He just wanted to leave. I said, 'You're not leaving with that gun.' Of course, I was using some profanities. I have to confess in a tense situation I can have a potty mouth."

Lambert says Stackhouse dropped his gun on the floor and fled. He left his driver's licence at the business.

Knox county authorities arrested him several hours later.

I love the picture of "Lumpy" drawing his gun here--I wonder how many news stations would feature such a positive gun story like this outside of Tennessee or the South?

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Dr. Helen--a therapeutic version of Little Green Footballs?

The Lure of the Big Screen TV

Glenn and I recently turned part of our basement into a podcast studio and media center, and just bought a big screen tv for it, actually this one, which is 46 inches long. I do watch some TV, but usually dvd's or shows like Sex and the City that I record. But watching the news on the big screen tv with high definition has a different feel than watching it on my small one without high def. It is more personal and engaging, like I know the people who are coming up on my screen. The news seems more "real" and urgent than it does on a small tv. I wonder how this feel plays into our psyche. Given the more personal feel of newer and better TVs, I wonder if people are more swayed by the media images that they see, since it sounds and feels more real than in years past. I wonder how this plays itself out in politics.

My patients, regardless of political party, often come in and parrot to me the news they hear on tv without question. You know, the Dems are great, the Republicans evil and such. When I watched the news just now with Nancy Pelosi and Wolf Blitzer, it seemed that they were right in my media room, talking to me personally. TV encourages people to think by linking images in their brains. Are these images stronger and more persuasive on a big screen with high def like the new ones out than they were on the smaller less clear ones? Now that tvs are getting cheaper and cheaper as well as bigger and clearer, will the emotions of viewers become even easier to manipulate? And if so, how will that play out in a medium that is captured by the liberal media? As tv's get bigger, clearer, and cheaper, will we start to see blue everywhere?

Is Rumsfeld Rigid?

I spent all day at a conference Saturday at the University of Tennessee on the use of a psychologicial instrument, the Personality Assessment Inventory or PAI. The author of the instrument and a subsequent book on the topic, Leslie Morey, was there to explain how to use the test to evaluate personality traits. The workshop was informative, the presenter solid in his knowledge and the material was interesting.

If you have been reading my blog for a while, you will know that I am not very happy with the political correctness of the majority of liberals in the psychological field. I try hard to avoid workshops where I will be bombarded with politically correct positions about men as perpetrators and women as victims to the negative traits of conservatives. Why, you might ask do I avoid such drivel? Because I have been bombarded with that viewpoint throughout my career and do not want to hear the conservative bashing that often goes on in seminars like this. I go to workshops simply to learn the material outlined in the brochure like scoring and using a test and I do it only because I need to meet the Continuing Eduation requirements for psychologists in Tennessee. I can read, after all, and would get more from a book much of the time than from a lecture. If I wanted to hear about politics, I would be at a covention for that discussion. But I digress.

I did not hear one bad joke about Bush, politics or any other crack for three-fourths of the lecture. Just as I was falling into a false sense that perhaps I had found the perfect workshop where the topic was adhered to and no mention of politics was forthcoming, there it was. As the speaker explained one of the scales of the PAI having to do with treatment motivation, he quipped, "If the scale is too high, the person is too rigid and set in their ways, like Donald Rumsfeld." So there it was, I was hoping I could make it through the seminar without the cracks and putdowns of the current administration but it was not going to happen. To the speaker's credit, he did mention that he worked at Texas A & M and Robert Gates was one of the best administrators he had ever seen. However, the use of Rumsfeld's name to make a point about the negative aspects of a test score on a scale measuring rigidity was not science or fact. It was an opinion and was not necessary.

So is Rumsfeld rigid? I don't think that rigid is the right word. If rigid means uncompromising, demanding of high quality work, sticking to your guns as an agent of change, then yes. But the use of the term rigid by the speaker above makes these traits sound negative, when they can indeed, be positive in certain settings, like in the military. My problem with some psychological tests and their inventors, is that what they perceive to be psychological well-adjustment in their eyes is not always what we need in times of war, in the military or in the society in general. Only history will tell us if Rumsfeld's traits were really rigid, or if they were the traits that we needed at the time but cast aside because we misinterpreted the traits of a leader in a negative light. By contrast, who would decribe the civil rights leaders or suffragettes as "rigid" even though they stuck to their guns for decades?

How many paedophiles can there be?

First, it was the New Zealand airlines demonizing men as potential pedophiles and having them change seats if they were sitting next to a minor child--now it's British Airways (Hat tip: Mercurior):

I mean, come off it, folks. How many paedophiles can there be? Are we really saying that any time an adult male finds himself sitting next to someone under 16, he must expect to be hustled from his seat before the suspicious eyes of the entire cabin?

What about adult females? Every week there is some new tale of what a saucy French mistress is deemed to have done with her adolescent charges behind the bicycle sheds; and, disgraceful though these episodes may be, I don't hear anyone saying that children should be shielded from adult women. Do you? Or maybe I'm wrong — maybe all adults will have to carry personal cardboard partitions with them on every plane or train, just in case they find themselves sitting next to under-16s.

Even as I write, I can imagine the lip-pursing of some of my lovely high-minded readers. How would you like it, they will say, if some weird chap was plonked next to your kids? And they are right that I would worry about some strange adult sitting next to my children, chiefly because I wouldn't want the poor fellow to come to any harm.

To all those who worry about the paedophile plague, I would say that they not only have a very imperfect understanding of probability; but also that they fail to understand the terrible damage that is done by this system of presuming guilt in the entire male population just because of the tendencies of a tiny minority.

The author of this opinion piece is right that the damage done to society because of the mistrust of men is high and far reaching--he points out that many men no longer teach kids, particularly in the area of physics, math and chemistry and it is hurting our science base. Just when we need more physics teachers teaching young people, we may see fewer men who are willing to take the job because the stakes of being called a perp are too high. Will the demonization of men hurt the science profession? I sure hope not.