Friday, April 07, 2006

More Female Abusers in the News

Thanks to desert light journal for pointing out these two interesting articles--one from on female pedophiles and the other at about men who have been abused by women. When I read the latter article which states "it was hard to believe the three men's story: that they were victims of physical abuse at the hands of their female partners," all I could think was, is this really surprising news anymore? I guess it is to CNN.

Army Basketball Coach Dies at 28 of a Heart Arrhythmia

Thanks to all the readers who sent me this story on Maggie Dixon, the Army Women's basketball coach, who died last night of a heart arrhythmia:

Dixon was hospitalized in critical condition after suffering an "arrhythmic episode to her heart" Wednesday at the school, her older brother, Pittsburgh men's basketball coach Jamie Dixon said Thursday.

"She ... went to the house of a friend for afternoon tea where she said she wasn't feeling good and she collapsed," said Dixon, who read a prepared statement from the hospital on Thursday.

He said he had breakfast with his sister earlier Wednesday and that she had apparently been feeling well.

I wish that Ms. Dixon had an implantable cardioverter defibrillator like I have that deals with the most deadly of heart rhythms--recurrent, sustained ventricular tachycardia or fibrillation. However, the first warning sign for many victims of these rhythm problems is death--maybe that is why there is little publicity about Sudden Cardiac Death. Most of us are not here to make our voices heard. RIP, Ms. Dixon.

Sure Loser

I was reading a post on weight control over at Jane Galt's blog that got me thinking about my own weight control issues. My disgust with my weight started at the age of 12 when I was deep into puberty and realized my body was changing. My mother had always had weight issues and attended a weight watcher's-like group called,"Sure Losers." I should have realized by the name alone that this was a meeting for a 12-year old to stay from--but no such luck. My older sister and I begged my mom to take us with her to the meetings.

I will never forget the first time I walked into a group of 20 or so ladies who were of all age ranges--their only commonality seemed to be excess weight and a need to obsess over calories. The group leader's name was "Babe" and she was a short 70-year old who wore long gowns that would have been more appropriate at the Opera than at a weight watcher's meeting in the basement of her home. At my first weigh-in, I got on the scale and it tipped to 130 pounds--I was only five foot four at that point. "Wow, I used to weigh a lot less," I said, to which Babe replied, "when was that--when you were four? and gave a hearty laugh. Rather than pack up in disgust, I attended the meetings faithfully and listened to all that Babe spouted about how to eat. The tidbit I picked up most readily and held onto like it was gold instead of poison was, "You never need to eat another piece of candy as long as you live." I actively avoided all sugar and was already a vegetarian and thought somehow, I would always be healthy if I just avoided candy. Boy, was I wrong.

I spent the next years watching what I ate and exercising and running to keep myself healthy. I thought that eating sugar was a sign of weakness and only when my body would be so desperate for calories that I would crack and eat Tofutti during graduate school did I realize what I had been missing. I eventually became fairly plump from this endeavor--take a look at the calorie count on Tofutti and you will know why--especially if you eat a whole carton. The stuff is loaded with fat and calories. My family always looked at me with dismay when I would join them for a meal. I only had certain things I would eat that were healthy, fat free and vegetarian. Later on, after I stopped all of this foolishness, I told my mother how I had listened to Babe and thought I was never supposed to eat candy again. She gave me a puzzled look and said, "Why did you listen, no one else did!"

She was right--I never should have listened. I cannot say that any of the calorie restriction or dedicated exercise really helped my health. In fact, I sometimes wonder secretly if I ruined it. After all, at 37, I had a heart attack. The doctors say that this would not be caused by anything except bad luck, but I am not always sure. After my heart attack, I never tried to diet again. I am 5 feet 6 inches and weighed about 110 pounds at the time of my heart attack. I now weigh about 124. I swore that I would never let myself get hungry again and I don't. I eat candy when I feel like it--just had some really good peppermints last night-Yum!

I don't know why it took me so long to realize that no food in the world can make me immune to disease, aging and dying. Maybe I am just a "Sure Loser." However, with my new found knowledge, I feel disgusted when people talk about fat people being so unhealthy--they are not necessarily. I have seen overweight people in the past fly by me in a race, live into old age and generally do better in a lot of ways. I am not saying obesity is the answer, but then neither is being a twig.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Tips for College Students, New Professors

Are you (or do you have) a college-aged teen or young person heading off to college or are you maybe heading off yourself to teach at a college? If you thought all you needed was smarts and enthusiasm--think again.

Following is an implicit mainstream campus credo you may need to know, particularly if you are heading off to an elite school. In an interesting article a reader pointed out to me from The Washington Post entitled, "The Echo Chamber on Liberal Campuses," I found the following principal tenets that you'd best memorize unless you have tenure:

· Diversity, particularly linguistic and theological diversity, binds and unites a culture.

· Proportionate representation of races within a student body justifies corrective discrimination by race.

· All cultures are morally equivalent.

· Social justice may require unequal application of equal protection laws.

· The dearth of women in science screams gender bias; the dearth of men in nursing does not.

· Diversity promotes classroom learning -- except in English composition, for which foreign-born students must have their own section.

· Hate speech (racial, sexual and religious slurs) has no place on college campuses. Some words should never be spoken.

· No one should ever have to pay for health care -- or condoms.

I assume there are more but the above should be a start towards mastering the campus atmosphere at a majority of schools, especially the elite ones.

Podcast with Bill Frist on Immigration and Pork

We are talking briefly today with Senate Majority Leader, Bill Frist, for an update on immigration legislation. Questions include: What's with Hillary Clinton and her insistence that Jesus would be a criminal under the proposed bill? Is she joining the religious right? Will it be easier to get into this country legally in the future?

Glenn also asks a question about Porkbusters and Trent Lott's statement: "I'll just say this about the so-called porkbusters. I'm getting damn tired of hearing from them. They have been nothing but trouble ever since Katrina." Mr. Lott, the trouble has just begun.

You can listen to the podcast here (no iPod needed) or click here to listen on iTunes. (There's a low-fi version for dialup folks here and a collection of previous episodes here.) Please subscribe to our podcast via iTunes if you have not already done so!

Please leave any comments and suggestions below.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Sodomy of Boys is A-Okay

Can you imagine what would happen if the victims in this case were young girls instead of young boys? (Thanks to the reader who sent this story to me.)

The son of Arizona's Senate president confessed that he and another counselor shoved broomsticks and flashlights into the rectums of 18 boys in at least 40 incidents at a youth camp in June.

Now Yavapai County prosecutors say they will drop all but one assault charge and likely recommend little or no jail time if 18-year-old Clifton Bennett agrees to plead guilty.

A similar agreement has been offered to co-defendant Kyle Wheeler, 19, who faces an additional assault charge for choking three of the boys until they passed out.

Apparently, sodomizing a young boy with a broomstick and a flashlight does not constitute a sexual violation, merely a "hazing" (whatever that means).

Prosecuting attorney James Landis explained the plea agreement in court, saying the "broomsticking" was a hazing ritual and a punishment, not sexual assault.

....Landis said in court that the case was never viewed as "sexual in nature," in part because prosecutors could not prove Bennett and Wheeler had sexual intent. Parents of the victims said Landis told them privately that the incidents occurred while the boys had on clothes or swimsuits and that there was no evidence the defendants are homosexuals.

"We would certainly start from a different perspective if it was girls (as victims)," he said in court.

Wow, in a world where a man can lose his job for being falsely accused of trying to sodomize a girl, young men can almost get away scot-free if they actually sodomize boys. What a fair and just system we have.

Update: Sheila S. Polk, the Yavapai County Attorney, states that her office sees this case as a "hazing gone wrong" and not as sexual abuse:

There is absolutely no evidence that this was done with a sexual motivation. No penetration occurred, either in the anus or rectum. The victims were not secreted away to a hiding spot while this was done to them. It was done in front of the other campers. In fact, several photographs were taken by other campers. This is hardly the work of sexual predators. Rather, it is the work of two young men repeatedly making poor decisions. We all have heard reports of this sort of thing throughout the United States over many years: hazing gone wrong.

Was their conduct a good thing? No. Was it appropriate? No. Are they being held criminally responsible for their misdeeds? Yes. But to call this “sodomy” or “child molestation” when it clearly is not, harms these victims, unnecessarily taints these defendants and harms the criminal justice system in general. Quite frankly, it is slap in the face to child molestation and sexual assault victims everywhere to put this conduct in the same category.

Read the police report and see if you agree with her or not.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Podcast with Virginia Postrel on Kidney Donation

Talk about true altruism--today, we are talking with Virginia Postrel about her recent kidney donation to friend and author, Sally Satel. Virginia talks about the shortage of organ donations and discusses some remedies. Be sure and check out books by Virginia such as The Substance of Style and The Future and Its Enemies. I also highly recommend psychiatrist Sally Satel's book with Christina Hoff Sommers, One Nation Under Therapy : How the Helping Culture is Eroding Self-Reliance.

Click here to listen directly (no iPod needed!) or you can get it here via iTunes.

There's an archive of previous podcasts here, and a collection of low-fi versions for dialup here.

As always, please leave any comments or suggestions below. Thanks!

Give Me Another Cupcake

Wow, almost 5% of all three year olds are too fat to sit in a regular carseat:

"More than a quarter of a million U.S. children ages 1 to 6 are heavier than the weight limits for standard car seats, and most are 3-year-olds who weigh more than 40 pounds, the study found."

I am against vegan and whacky diets for young kids but what the heck are parents feeding their kids these days?

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Discussion with Dr. Leonard Sax on Unmotivated Boys

Here is an interesting transcript of a discussion from the Washington Post article with Leonard Sax, the physician and psychologist who wrote the op-ed, "What's Happening to Boys." The discussion, frankly seems a bit odd to me, as Dr. Sax seems to put some blame for boy's lack of motivation on environmental toxins and video games:

That's one reason I have begun to pay serious attention to the hypotheses regarding environmental toxins, in particular those toxins derived from plastics. We're all exposed to foods in plastic containers, regardless of our economic status. The possibility that these toxins may play a role in this phenomenon should at least be explored.

.....But here's the problem. We're seeing many more young men today who are unmotivated. In just the past 20 or 30 years, the proportion of young men living at home without the desire to make their own way in life has increased very substantially. Why is that? I don't think human nature can have changed in a fundamental way in just 20 years. Maybe it's partly the influence of video games, or changes in education or the workforce. But I think the possibility of environmental toxins must at least be investigated.

Uhhh, what about girls? Are they exempt from the toxins from plastic containers or do girls actually become even more motivated to attend college and get out of the house than boys when exposed to toxins? It makes no sense to me.

Another commenter asks about video games to which Dr. Sax replies:

Could video games be at least partly responsible for the phenomenon of 'boys adrift'? I think the answer is YES. Video games create a compelling alternative world. Success, victory, conquest in that world may compensate -- in the psyche of the boy/man -- for a lack of achievement in the real world.

Wow, now boys can just sublimate their ambition onto video games. Could it possibly be the other way around? Could some boys play video games to escape being told just how expendable and worthless they are? I don't know--just a theory--since many of my male patients tell me they play video games because they are lonely or feel down. Or just because they are fun.

And finally, another commenter asks Dr. Sax whether young men have opted out of college and career because these choices have become the province of mainly girls. Dr. Sax side steps this comment by saying:

Interesting, provocative, controversial point. I'm not comfortable with your idea that the broader horizons opened to girls over the past 30 years have narrowed the horizons available to boys and young men. But I thought I should post your question, so others can think about it.

Yep, better not touch that comment with a ten foot poll if you want to stay in the mainstream and sell your new book, "Boys Adrift: what's really behind the growing epidemic of unmotivated boys."

Overall, the rest of the discussion with Dr. Sax was quite interesting. Take a look and let me know your impressions. Do you think plastic is making men live at home until they are 34? Do you think that video games have ruined boys? Does the anti-boy culture hurt boys? Any guys out there 22-34 living at home who can shed some light on this issue?