Saturday, February 04, 2006

Podcast on the Military, Oil and a Priceless Picture

We are talking yet again to military sleuths, Austin Bay and Jim Dunnigan, about recent world events. We also hear from Roger Stern of Johns Hopkins and Lynn Kiesling of Northwestern University on the rising price of oil. Surprisingly, Glenn got a call from Michael Yon today, and we added him to the podcast on the spur of the moment to discuss the taking of this photo and why he was not credited with its release. He also talks about how the blogosphere supported him in his work in Iraq and continues to help now that he is back in the US.

You can listen to the podcast here or subscribe via iTunes. Please leave any comments or suggestions below.

Friday, February 03, 2006


Is it my imagination, or do the primetime TV shows seem even more desperate to portray PC ideas and make stabs at Republicans? I was watching a few shows last night--watching would be a little strong--maybe glancing at them as I flipped through the channels. Will and Grace seems to be getting worse and worse with PC innuendos tossed in for good measure on every show. On this one, Grace mentions the "uppity Canadians, what with their free health care and gay rights." The message? Americans refuse healthcare to many and are hung up on homophobia. And the digs about homophobia continue in another scene, while at a resort of some sort, Jack tells his son not to hug him on a street corner since one corner is named Murder and the other Homophobia. Yes, that is typical of most Americans--just ready to kill or maim any two men they see hugging. And finally, after being exasperated with this show, I watched a few minutes of the following sitcom entitled The Four Kings--apparently about four guys who live together. Forgive me if I am vague on the plot--these shows are usually too silly to follow. The gist of it seemed to be that a couple of the guys wanted their friend, brother or whatever to attend or help out with a Democratic function in order to beat a "sleezebag Republican." The dude they are talking to has to let the audience know that he is "as good a Democrat as anyone who doesn't vote" (the guy is a slacker) but does not want to attend.

Okay, I watched less than thirty minutes of TV last night and saw at least three jabs at conservatives and/or Americans in general. The Democrats are portrayed as being the norm with the conservatives being abberant racists, homophobes or sleezebags. It's no wonder people are turning away from watching primetime TV and heading to the internet for entertainment and news.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Gender Differences in Heart Disease

The Washington Post had an article today (hat tip to Business of Life blog) looking at a different form of heart disease in women as compared to men:

Instead of developing obvious blockages in the arteries supplying blood to the heart, these women accumulate plaque more evenly inside the major arteries and in smaller blood vessels, the researchers found. In other cases, their arteries fail to expand properly or go into spasm, often at times of physical or emotional stress.

These abnormalities, which appear to be particularly common in younger women, can be as dangerous as the better-known form of the disease, strangling vital blood flow to the heart muscle, causing severe and sometimes debilitating pain and fatigue, and sometimes triggering life-threatening heart attacks, the researchers found.

I find this article interesting as the doctors told me I had clear arteries but could have had a coronary spasm that resulted in a heart attack. I wonder what will happen to the many women out there that the study mentions that have this condition and don't even know it?

How to Spot a Nutcase 101

Many college professors often write or ask me how to cope or deal with students with emotional problems who might be a danger to them or someone they know. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to predicting violence; it is an inexact science with a high level of false positives, yet because of the seriousness of what can happen if we miss a potentially violent person, it is important for us to at least have a lay person's ability to be aware of the warning signs if they are present. This does not mean that we need to round up students who seem odd---many of us are odd but not a threat. How do you tell the difference? Following is the type of question I get from teachers or professors that may help you determine if odd behavior is a problem or not:

"I am a professor at a college and am afraid of one of my students. He seems angry and has even gone as far as to make threats. I have been trying to placate him by being nice but his behavior is getting worse since failing my course, despite some extra points I gave him. What are the warning signs I should look for and what do I do?"

According to Gavin DeBecker (1997, source is below), the warning signs of violent students include but are not limited to 1) a tendency to use threats, intimidation, manipulations, or escalations; 2) adverse reaction to criticism; 3) rigid ideas and resistant to change; 4) sullen, angry, or depressed appearance; 5) refusal to accept responsiblity for actions; 6) paranoid thoughts that others are "out to get" him or her; 7) tendency to always be involved in some grievance, crusade or mission; 8) odd behavior that produces uneasiness and apprehension in other people 9) jokes about having weapons or praise for other perpetrators of violence; and 10) expresssions of dispair or hopelessness, such as, "What's the use? Nothing changes anyway."

The first step in preventing violence before it starts is to quit being Mr. or Ms. Nice Guy--it doesn't work. Violent people often attack the very people who are helping them. Why? Because you are there and not giving them all of the help they often feel entitled to have. For example, Peter Odighizuwa shot and killed his dean at the Appalachian School of Law after the dean went out of his way to assist him in getting a car, scholarship and back in the law school after doing poorly. It is not a kindness to keep bending your grading scale by giving a few points to a marginal student. Students with a sense of entitlement will only exploit your generous nature if you give in time and time again. Be alert to manipulation from students in the form of flattery. "You are the only professor who cares" or "I don't know what I would do if I didn't have you to talk to" are examples of manipulative behavior. Never become a student's counselor. Observe teacher/student boundaries at all times. Refer the student to the student mental health clinc if he or she seems to be chronically angry or stressed where services are generally free or included in the student activities fee. While records of counseling sessions are confidential, the counselor of a troubled student can be asked to report to school officials whether the student is attending sessions as scheduled.

Never permit verbal abuse from a student, in the classroom or anywhere else. Tell the student to leave the class if they make rude inflammatory remarks. Many faculty now include civility clauses in their course syllabi, setting expectations at the beginning of the semester for classroom decorum.

Don't count on your school to help you--especially if you do not have tenure--your adjunct contract may just not be renewed. One law professor told me that his school didn't care if students made threats because "if they shot a professor, the administration could just hire someone else cheaper." Okay, maybe this is a little cynical but some colleges take little or no action against threats of violence. Apparently, it is more important to put on a PC air of superiority than to protect their professors and students. For example, I wrote a paper along with some colleagues for law professors on how to deal with angry or violent students. We submitted it to the Journal of Legal Education at Georgetown who turned it down--stating that we "must be working with John Ashcroft" given the suggestions we made. Our outrageous suggestions? Have a designated person assigned in the school to handle reports of inappropriate behavior. Do remember, however, that your school is supposed to provide you with a safe environment. The Appalachian Law School recently settled their case for one million dollars for failure to warn students and faculty about Peter Odighizuwa's dangerous behavior. You are well within your rights to ask for stepped up security or discipline for the student etc.

I have some suggestions for books for those of you who want more information on how to protect yourself from violence. The first is The Gift of Fear. It is a bit too PC for my taste at times but the author, Gavin De Becker, gives some good tips and explanations for how to avoid violence. In addition, it is an interesting and easy read. The second book is J. Reid Meloy's Violence Risk and Threat Assessment: A Practical Guide for Mental Health and Criminal Justice Professionals (Practical Guide Series (San Diego, Calif.). Meloy presents some excellent descriptions of how to assess and understand those who are potentially violent. Also check out his book, The Psychology of Stalking, if you want to understand more about the stalker in your life.

"Psychosphere" Blogging

Dr. Sanity has a round-up of mental health blogging up. Check out the post by GagDad Bob on how the political parties now represent maternal and paternal archetypes. Can you guess which party is paternal and which is maternal?

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Post Office Shooting

This makes me really sad--I know that these types of mass shootings can be stopped if someone would pay attention. Note that the shooter is a female.

Update: Of course, this is a surprise--who could have guessed that this woman was irrational for years?

Another Anti-Republican Study

Well, it's about time for another absurd psychological study looking at the racism of guess who--I know you will be shocked--Republicans--hat tip Michelle Malkin. Take a look at this Washington Post article about a study that ties political leanings to hidden biases:

Another study presented at the conference, which was in Palm Springs, Calif., explored relationships between racial bias and political affiliation by analyzing self-reported beliefs, voting patterns and the results of psychological tests that measure implicit attitudes -- subtle stereotypes people hold about various groups.

That study found that supporters of President Bush and other conservatives had stronger self-admitted and implicit biases against blacks than liberals did.

"What automatic biases reveal is that while we have the feeling we are living up to our values, that feeling may not be right," said University of Virginia psychologist Brian Nosek, who helped conduct the race analysis. "We are not aware of everything that causes our behavior, even things in our own lives."

and the study goes on to say:

For their study, Nosek, Banaji and social psychologist Erik Thompson culled self-acknowledged views about blacks from nearly 130,000 whites, who volunteered online to participate in a widely used test of racial bias that measures the speed of people's associations between black or white faces and positive or negative words. The researchers examined correlations between explicit and implicit attitudes and voting behavior in all 435 congressional districts.

The analysis found that substantial majorities of Americans, liberals and conservatives, found it more difficult to associate black faces with positive concepts than white faces -- evidence of implicit bias. But districts that registered higher levels of bias systematically produced more votes for Bush.

Here is the test the biased liberals--I mean "reseachers"-- used to make their point. It has been around for awhile but I have never taken it until today after seeing this silly article. My results are quite interesting. The first time I took the test, my results said that I had a moderate preference for European Americans to African Americans. I took the test a second time and it said I had a slight preference for African Americans over European Americans. Well, which is it?

The test takes a bit of time--try it for yourself. But I remain a skeptic of this silly biased test--especially since the researchers are giving money to the Democratic Party--including Howard Dean. Doesn't that fact tell you all you need to know about the reliability and validity of their "unbiased" research? And where is any research done by conservative psychologists about liberals? Or is conservative and psychologist an oxymoron?

I also find the researchers conclusions about implicit tests to be laughable. They make the assumption that those with implicit or implied bias would be prejudiced in everyday life. One set of researchers at MIT and the University of Chicago did a study where they sent out the exact same resume to potential employers using a white or a black name. The whites got 50% more call backs. Wow, what a scientific study. I did my own similar scientific study in the late 80's. A good friend of mine in Manhattan was trying to get into a PHD program in clinical psychology. These programs are extremely competitive and hard to get into--sometimes with over 600 applicants and 10 openings. Needless to say, my friend was devastated when she was turned down by every program. She came to me in tears before sending out her next set of applications and asked me what to do to get in. I took a look at her 3.7 grade average from NYU and impeccable credentials and told her to leave everything the same and change her name from her English sounding one to her married name of Gonzalez and mail out the applications. She did and next thing you know, she was swamped with interviews. The only problem? Once they saw her white face, they quickly lost interest. The moral of my little unscientific study? We can all come up with results that match our world views if we try hard enough.

5th Carnival of Homeschooling

The 5th Carnival of Homeschooling is up and is being hosted by Palmtree Pundit who resides in Hawaii. Go check it out.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Podcast on Boys, Education and Hybrid Cars

We are talking today to Michael Gurian, the author of, The Minds of Boys : Saving Our Sons From Falling Behind in School and Life. If you have a boy, are a boy or care about boys, take a listen and gain more information from this expert on the minds of boys. We also have Jim Miegs, the editor of Popular Mechanics, giving us the lowdown on hybrid cars--are they hype or happening? You can listen to the podcast by clicking here.

As always, any comments or suggestions are welcome.

Update: Here is more on hybrid cars at Popular Mechanics.

Self-Made Sexist

Leave it to a woman at the Guardian to provide a sexist description of how she views being a man. In response to Norah Vincent's Self-Made Man, this is how the reviewer says she would act as a male:

Maybe that's why male-me would just give up trying to be great and succumb (with regret) to being arrogant, chauvinistic-appalling and subsequently having a whale of a time. I'd have the big red 'compensating' car, the smarmy chat-up lines, the commitment-phobia. I'd love 'em and leave 'em and, if it comes to it, pretend I never met 'em. I'd come home to my wife stinking of perfume, with my trousers covered in grass stains, and tell her off for being 'paranoid'. I'd trample on colleagues ruthlessly and swagger around the office like the undiscovered Donald Trump. I'd read Nuts on the loo because 'I like the articles'. And there you go. Not only does masculinity suddenly look a lot easier, it also looks a lot more fun. Odd to think, though, that women who are feminists might be more likely to become men who are chauvinists.

Lady, you must be one hell of a feminist.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Don't Call Me Grandma

Does anyone want to stay with the kids anymore? In this Newsweek article, there is mention that 40% of boys are being raised without their father. Now, this MSN article says that not only do grandmothers not want to be called Grandma but they are making their grandkids pencil in appointments to see them! The father issue is very important and one that needs to be addressed. But, in addition to fathers being absent, it seems that no one in the extended family wants to hang out with kids anymore--including grandmothers:

Look, I'd love to nip over and whisper secrets into 1-month-old Maggie's ears, or to dress 2-year-old Ryan in the black leather jacket I bought her recently and take her to look for late blackberries in Golden Gate Park on my bike (with its deluxe new kid seat). But I have a job. I'm a reporter, I have two books to write, a husband who wants to go to France, and I just bought an investment property in Portland, Oregon. I love my grandchildren, but being a grandmother got added to my to-do list.

Wow, this woman puts her grandkids in the same category as buying an investment property in Oregon. It's no wonder that kids don't know how to deal with simple human relationships. Here is another grandmother from the same MSN article discussing her feelings about her grandkids, "I love those little kids and I do want to have a relationship with them," she said. "But I'm not willing to give up my writing or my traveling. I'll be the best grandmother I can from a distance."

Yep, better not get to close to the grandkids--they might actually want to see you. As extended families become less influential in children's lives, I can't help but think this must affect their ability to learn about the closeness of human interactions. Perhaps the only lesson they take away is that they are just one more chore added to a too-do list and even there, they come up short. Add to this the guilt parents feel about not spending enough time with kids themselves and the never ending material goods being lavished on the little darlings and it's no wonder kids can be confused and unclear about the importance of human interactions. Extended family also gives kids examples of how other people behave outside of the daycare, school or their immediate family. Grandparents don't have to go overboard but perhaps not adding the grandkids to the to-do list but rather to the I-would-love-to see-them list would be a start.

Update: Just for the record, for my extended family, particularly the grandparents--please disregard the above--all of you are terrific grandparents who are generous with your time and love for your grandkids, despite your busy schedules.