Saturday, April 14, 2007

One of my Favorite New Bloggers

Jules Crittenden has some good news and bad news. If you haven't read Mr. Crittenden's blog yet, go take a look--for those of you who are not familiar with him, he is a Boston Herald city editor and columnist who has reported on politics, crime, science, foreign affairs, and maritime and military matters in the United States, Asia, the Balkans and the Middle East.


Friday, April 13, 2007

Humilating Past Posts

I saw today that someone on Google had found an old post of mine from shortly after I first started blogging called "Slumming it." In this post, I bragged about wearing the tacky and embarrassing outfit you see to your left.

Okay, what was I thinking--I mean, take a look at this outfit--I am defending wearing that?

Here is what I said:

But in my regular life, you will probably not notice me for my fashion sense because I will be the one slouching in the corner with the too large purple sweat pants, ripped t-shirt and oversized down coat from the 1980's that belonged to my husband when he was in college.

I emphasized that I just try to blend in by wearing t-shirts and sweat pants and my favorite comment from this utterly absurd post is the following:

Um, that outfit is certainly not designed to help you 'blend in.'

Indeed it is not -- what was I thinking? I have tried in the past year to upgrade my wardrobe and quit slinking around like a homeless woman who should be standing in an unemployment line--or maybe with an outfit like the one pictured here, I am insulting the taste of the homeless and unemployed!

Men Just Want to Have Fun

Men, it seems, are watching more video on the Internet than women:

"Men are more visual than women, who tend to communicate in writing and or in words," said Debra Aho Williamson, senior analyst with eMarketer and the author of the report.

She said at first she was shocked at the disparity between the sexes because women tend to watch more television. But she argues men are generally ahead of the technology trend.

"Women are more likely to use the Internet to get things done, to accomplish tasks, to check something off of a checklist that they need to do," Williamson said.

"Men are more likely to use the Internet to have fun. And a lot of what you see on is silly, time-saving kinds of things that maybe women don't feel they have the time for, or don't want to have the time for."

Williamson said that despite the growth of, women have not been part of the site's traffic spike.

"You really do see continuing to be more of a male-dominated video site," Williamson said.

Hey, what if men are more visual and want to destress on the internet and have a good time watching videos, so what? I think it's great. The reason? If men don't go to therapy (and why should they?) or talk much to their girlfriends or wives (again, why should they if they are not getting any satisfaction from it?) and need a way to connect, laugh, be silly etc., then maybe the internet offers the perfect way to do that. TV pitches their advertising and shows mainly to women because they know that women control most of the purse strings in this country. The internet is still a bit like the Wild West, where even men can still find sites and blogs that are accepting of masculinity and don't portray men as either buffoons, chauvanists or both. Sure, some of these sites like Blogging Heads TV are still salivating over trying to get female viewers to show how "proggressive" they are, but I say, what's wrong with having guys as viewers and readers? They're an important demographic too.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Mary Winkler says killing her minister husband was an accident: "Defense: Woman pointed shotgun at abusive spouse ‘to get his attention.’" Well, I guess she got his attention, but last time I looked, shooting someone to get their attention was still illegal, but maybe not if you have these gems on the jury:

The trial could last up to two weeks. The jury — including a Baptist minister and woman who said she had been a victim of domestic abuse — will spend that time sequestered in a small-town motel without television, radio or cell phones.

I am always amazed at jury selection in these cases, I guess Winkler really will be tried by a jury of peers. I just wonder if someone who is a Baptist minister or a woman who has been abused herself will be capable of putting his or her feelings aside and being objective? I suppose being a minister could go either way, however, since the murder victim was a preacher. What do you think, will she get off or spend some time behind bars?


Podcast: Should Adolescence be Abolished?

Are we infantilizing teens to the point that we are raising a nation of wimps? Is adolescence extended so long that people have grey hair by the time they become adults? Robert Epstein, Director Emeritus of the Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies in Massachusetts and author of The Case Against Adolescence: Rediscovering the Adult in Every Teen, will discuss these questions and more on today's podcast. In a controversial thesis, Epstein's terrific and thought-provoking new book argues that adolescense is an unnecessary part of life that people are better off without. Find out how your teen's exposure to school and Western media may be setting him or her up for incompetence, poor judgement and social-emotional turmoil. What can you do about it? Read the book or listen to the podcast to find out. Or go take Dr. Epstein's competency test to find out how adult you or your teen is at or visit his website at

You can listen directly by going here and clicking on the gray Flash player, or you can download the file by clicking right here. You can get a lo-fi version suitable for dialup by going here and selecting lo-fi. And, of course, you can get a free subscription via iTunes -- and wouldn't you want to, really? You can go to our past archives at the

Music is "The High School Song" by Audra and the Antidote. This podcast is brought to you by Volvo Cars -- buy one and tell 'em it's all because of the Glenn and Helen Show!

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

"From Hell and Back"

Congratulations to the Duke Lacrosse players--this travesty should never have happened--but it is gratifying to see these innocent young men set free today.

One thing I did find puzzling was the following statement by the North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper:

However, Cooper said no charges will be brought against the accuser, saying she “may actually believe” the many different stories she told. “We believe it is in the best interest of justice not to bring charges,” he said.

So if you charge someone with a false crime and "believe" your false statements to be true, you're off the hook?

Toxic Psychology

Sometimes, I start to think that my profession is improving and not quite as PC and ridiculous as I tend to think it is but then I am proven wrong, once again. Yesterday, I thumbed through the April 2007 edition of the The Monitor on Psychology to catch up on what is going on in the field and I learned that the psychologists who profess to be knowledgeable about telling others how to change their cognitive distortions have yet to change their own. They continue to believe they are omnipotent, capable of interfering in political issues that have nothing to do with psychology or stress political correctness and a creeping socialism ahead of an actual knowledge base.

In this most recent issue, I learned from the front cover that America is "toxic" and if you read the article entitled, "Toxic America," you will learn why. Apparently, if you are too wealthy in our society, you will turn into an American who is unhappy and lives a short and lonely existence. The article implies that working long hours and having money is toxic:

Marmot believes the psychic smog that’s making Americans sick could be composed of two factors. One is that Americans’ long work hours leave us more stressed and less healthy. The other is that Americans may feel friendless and isolated due to social stressors created by our country’s widening income gap. In turn, that societal divisiveness may be bad for our health—not just poor people’s health, but everyone’s, he speculates.

What is the answer then, according to the psychological soothesayers? Why socialism, of course!

“We’re almost like a nomadic society on this treadmill, hoping that we’ll either strike it rich with the lottery, or that if we work hard enough, somehow we’ll become Google millionaires,” he comments.

The way America deals with social building blocks such as health care, education and pensions compounds the problem, Hedge believes.

In England, for example, a university education costs about $3,000 a year, and everyone has access to adequate health insurance. British citizens must retire at age 65, with many companies encouraging earlier retirement, and they receive both a government and employer pension.

“And it’s not linked to stock-market performance—your 401K doesn’t evaporate because of the dirty dealings of an Enron!” he says.

By contrast, many Americans angst over how they can possibly make enough to cover insurance and other basics, while saving enough for retirement. In 2005, for instance, the average cost of a year at a private American college or university was $21,235, with some private institutions costing double that amount, statistics show.

Yep, we greedy capitalists just need to become more like England and the European Union and we will be all be happy, healthy and non-toxic. Is that science or politics talking?


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Carnival of Homeschooling

The 67th Carnival of Homeschooling is up at Apollos Academy blog.


Getting Paid for Having Fun

Yesterday, I went to pick up my business mail which generally consists of a bunch of work-related correspondence that involves my attention--and not generally in a good way. So imagine my surprise at getting a package from Subterranean Press and finding a special signed edition of John Scalzi's The Sagan Diary with a whopping $25.00 honorarium inside--my reward for reading one of the chapters of the book on audio tape. Now, I know you are saying to yourself, "WTF is this woman chattering about here--you'd think she won the lottery or something," but in my mind, I did. I am always amazed everytime I get paid even the smallest amount for doing something that I enjoy--writing articles, reading an audio book, blogads payments for blogging etc. Have you ever noticed that getting paid even a little for something you like is worth more than getting a whopping check for doing something you don't or even just doing something you feel neutral about that feels like work? I imagine the key to fullfilling work is to turn doing those things we love from a hobby into a job--but then, maybe that would feel too much like work.


Sunday, April 08, 2007

At Least Google Listens

I was looking at the CoolTools4Men site and came across this link to an article entitled, "Men talk to Google not girlfriends." CoolTools pointed out that the article was a bit biased against men: "a silly piece, written in a misandric style, but it underlies the trend towards men spending more time interacting with their computers than with women." The article is a little dated, having been written in 2004, yet, it does bring up the interesting point that men seem to turn more to their computer for advice more than their girlfriends:

Men talk to their search engines more than their girlfriends, work colleagues or even their families, research has claimed.

A poll conducted by MSN Search found that search engines are the first port of call for nearly half of men seeking advice. Family are consulted by a third, while partners are the sounding board of choice for only one in four men.

In comparison, the study into gender search patterns reveals that women still opt for more traditional advice options, with one in three rating family as their number one choice for help and information.

Naturally, the article has to have the added twist of dissing men for turning to a search engine rather than a partner:

Male search vanity apparently knows no bounds. Almost a third of men admit to searching for themselves online and awarding themselves an average 80 per cent satisfaction rating for their general searching abilities. By contrast, just over one in five women have searched for their own name.

One in 12 men admitted to looking up ex-partners to uncover what they've been up to since splitting up, compared to just four per cent of women.

A typical male search query uses just two words, compared with three for women. Women are also more patient about investigating different potential routes.

There must be some good reason that men turn to the internet rather than to their girlfriends to get advice. Perhaps Google has the added advantage of actually providing some real advice and listening to a guy's problems without interruption and personal interpretation. Maybe when you balk at being talked at instead of being listened to, the internet provides a good place to go:

MSN Search marketing manager Clare Bolton said: "Search services have become so central to our lives that in many cases they're being treated like trusted friends.

"Men in particular seem to be turning to them like a mate in the pub to give advice, provide entertainment and even help out in rating potential girlfriends."

If men trust Google more than their girlfriend, what does that say about the way they perceive women's listening skills? Perhaps women who complain that their guy spends more time on the computer than he does with them should read Warren Farrell's Women Can't Hear What Men Don't Say: Destroying Myths, Creating Love. It couldn't hurt and it might teach a girlfriend the listening skills she needs to see her guy's Google searches for advice become a thing of the past, or at least recede into the background.

Violence Prevention Toolbox

One of the ways to prevent violence is to have a repertoire of techniques to use depending on the context of the violence one is about to encounter--no one technique is always the answer, so I am always looking for good books to add to my violence prevention toolbox. I found one in IronShrink's book, Surviving Aggressive People: Practical Violence Prevention Skills for the Workplace and the Street. How does IronShrink (or Shawn Smith, his real name) tell us to do this? By using psychological techniques and understanding of those who wish to commit violence against us to stop aggression before it starts.

Smith divides aggressors into two categories: The Desperate Aggressor and the Expert Aggressor. The Desperate Aggressor is one of the most common and is someone you might encounter in a work situation who feels that they have run out of options. "Violent crime in America is often spontaneous: someone loses their temper and the results are tragic. When an otherwise rational person reaches a high level of emotion, when they perceive no solution to their problem, then violence--normally not something they would even consider--may seem to them like their only option." These aggressors don't like to feel helpless and seek to regain their feelings of control. They are poor at problem solving and often another person who is skilled can help them to restore their composure. The book gives suggestions in concrete form on what to say and how to do this. Finally, Desperate Aggressors display verbal and physical indicators of stress. They might feel cornered, panicked and ashamed.

I enountered a situation like this very early in my career when I worked for the state of New York as a psychologist. A patient who had been living in the Willowbrook State School where he had been living a hard life was assigned to me. The first time I met him, he was holding some staff keys that I needed. Stupidly, I reached out my hand to him and said, "Give me the keys, please." The next think I knew, the patient punched me full force in the face and sent me flying into the wall behind me. I realized immediately that I should never have extended my hand outward and it threatened him. From then on, if I needed something from this patient, I would ask him to drop it on a nearby table and learned never to extend my hand to certain patients--it was seen as too much of a threat.

The Expert Aggressors are a different lot than the Desperate Aggressors in that rather than seeing violence as the last option, they view it as the preferred option. They are interested in social or material gain, in taking something that does not belong to them. They tend to attack those who are suitable victims and choose those who offer the greatest chance of success. They use "testing rituals" to determine the willingness of a victim. Some people will tolerate being attacked more than others. Those who are too trusting, kind or loving make the best victims. There are some very good techniques in the book to keep the Expert Aggressor from going too far. I have first hand experience in working with thousands of clamaints for disability evaluations who were Expert Aggressors. Some of the claimants would initially come in and try to use threats to get a positive evaluation or try to take over my personal space. When they saw that I put a stop to that immediately, and was not intimidated in the least, they stopped the nonsense and were fairly cooperative.

My only real criticism of the book is that Smith has a section on "weapons and gimmicks" and warns readers that weapons can be used against them, may not work, or may be used by younger members of the family. I have noticed that almost all psychologists have to plant a seed of doubt about weapons--their liberal training almost demands it. Weapons have saved the lives of multitudes of people. With the right training, they can work wonders; rarely are they turned on their owners. Does it happen? Yes, but not often. In my opinion, the willingness to use whatever works in an aggressive encounter, including weapons, and violence oneself may be the difference in whether one survives or gets out unscathed. Don't believe it when you are told not to use weapons to defend yourself, it is often psychological propaganda intended to erode our second amendment rights.

That said, I do recommend this book for those of you who work in Human Resources departments like the Evil HR Lady or are in a management position where you hire and fire. The techniques look sound and could even save your life or that of one of your employees. I must say that in my career, I have dealt with thousands of potentially aggressive people and used similar techniques to keep myself safe--if you understand what and who you are dealing with, you can often reduce the chances that aggression will take you by surprise.