Friday, June 02, 2006

First Carnival of PsychBloggers

The first Carnival of PsychBloggers is up at OK, I'm Not Really a Cowboy Blog. Go check it out. He also needs crack money according to his donation button. If he's going into the field of psych, it's probably best to support this unfortunate habit-- he'll need all the crack he can get.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Podcast with Peter Beinart

Today we are speaking to Peter Beinart, who is the author of a new book, The Good Fight : Why Liberals---and Only Liberals---Can Win the War on Terror and Make America Great Again. Mr. Beinart is editor at large of The New Republic, a regular writer for Time and a television commentator. He talks with us about his new book, why Democrats are "too nice" to each other, and why only liberals can win the War on Terror. Glenn and I discuss our reaction afterwards and my only conclusion: When a liberal talks about defending America, it's called a "Good Fight" and when a conservative does, it's called imperialism. Read the book and judge for yourself.

You can listen to the podcast by clicking here or subscribe on iTunes, which we would appreciate. (It moves us up on the charts.) You can see our podcast archive of other shows here, and there's a dialup version right here.

Please leave any comments or suggestions below.
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More on Marriage

Is marriage in the US on the rocks like it is in Britain? Apparently, the changing views on marriage are not going to stop the British legal system from stepping in to further control interpersonal behavior as those who are living together will now be subject to similar "rights" of those who are married--and finally, now gay couples will be included in the screw job--I mean rights--that we heterosexuals have suffered with--I mean "benefited" from, for years. (Hat Tip: Hot Air)

BTW, I am not talking about the interpersonal relationship of marriage as a "screw job"--a wonderful relationship is the ultimate reason for marriage, I merely mean that unfair laws regarding marriage can sometimes be a "screw-job."

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Do Bipolar Youth Misread Faces?

Web MD points out an interesting study that found that bipolar youth may see hostility even in faces that are neutral:

Compared with those without bipolar disorder, bipolar youths gave higher hostility ratings to the neutral faces and reported being more fearful of those faces, the study shows.

While viewing the neutral faces, bipolar youths' fMRI brain scans showed more activity in the left amygdala, a brain area related to fear, compared with the brain scans of nonbipolar participants.

Which came first: bipolar disorder or seeing hostility in neutral faces? The study doesn't answer that question. It also doesn't show whether bipolar participants felt more irritable or aggressive after viewing neutral faces.

In my clincial experience, I often find that bipolar youth, particularly those who are aggressive, tend to misread social cues--that is, they perceive actual situations as worse than they are or read into people's actions or expressions, more hostility and threatening behavior than is actually there. For example, if someone stares at them, they may perceive it as a threat rather than a look of curiosity. Often a youth who is poor at reading other people's behavior will strike out aggressively in a case where aggression is not called for--whether that is because of fear or anger, or both is sometimes hard to tease out. Teaching youth who are bipolar or potentially aggressive to read faces, nonverbal movements and social interactions more clearly is a first step to teaching better coping skills.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Cathy Young has an interesting post on her recent trip to Israel.

Update: Pictures from her trip are now up.

The Carnival of Homeschooling

The 22nd Carnival of Homeschooling is up at The Common Room. I found this post on how step parents feel about their step kids troubling. What do you think--can step parents care as much about their stepkids as they do about their biological kids?

Is There Too Much Violence in the Culture or Not Enough?

Reader Patrick sent me this article from CNN describing a new pasttime for men--fight clubs. Apparently, men from the computer tech industries are proving their manhood by beating on each other in organized fight clubs:

Inspired by the 1999 film "Fight Club," starring Brad Pitt and Ed Norton, underground bare-knuckle brawling clubs have sprung up across the country as a way for desk jockeys and disgruntled youths to vent their frustrations and prove themselves.

The article obtains these brilliant nuggets from a couple of sociologists (one from a gender studies department, of course):

Men involved in fight clubs often carry bottled-up violent impulses learned in childhood from video games, cartoons and movies, said Michael Messner, a University of Southern California sociology and gender studies professor.

"Boys have these warrior fantasies picked up from popular culture, and schools sort of force that out of them," he said. In these fantasies, "The good guys always resort to violence, and they always get the glory and the women."

There is also a sadomasochistic thread running through underground fight clubs, said Michael Kimmel, a sociology professor at Stony Brook University in New York.

"Real-life fight clubs are the male version of the girls who cut themselves," he said. "All day long these guys think they're the captains of the universe, technical wizards. They're brilliant but empty.

"They want to feel differently. They want to get hit, they want to feel something real."

My interpretation is a little different. Violence is the new sex. Sex used to be forbidden and people went underground to do it--now sex is advocated everywhere--even college campuses hand out free condoms. But now the forbidden fruit in our society is violence and it has gone underground. These men never "learned" violence from video games, cartoons and movies as suggested by one of the sociology professors.

The aggression was innate to begin with but it was never channeled, and instead was stomped out of them in the culture as something wicked, immoral and "male." Perhaps these fight clubs are the new male ritual, like in the olden days when boys went through rituals to become men. The schools and culture have attempted to squash whatever maleness is left in today's men and all they are left with (besides football which is now banned at my daughter's elementary school) are a few underground clubs to artificially practice their manhood. Wouldn't it be better for our culture to accept and teach boys how to sublimate and deal with violence when they are younger so they do not have to grow up to be men so desperate to prove themselves that a broken rib and a thrashing at an "underground" fight club is the only way to prove their manhood?

Monday, May 29, 2006

If You Rule Out Discrimination, You'll Never Find Discrimination

Reader Bob informed me of this editorial in the Rocky Mountain News on the gender gap in graduation rates between boys and girls in Denver public schools. The difference? 9% fewer boys are graduating from high school. Believe it or not, the school system is finally turning its attention to this problem:

Nearly everyone involved with education is troubled by the large and persistent gaps in academic performance among racial and ethnic groups. Now the similarly large gap between boys and girls is beginning to get the serious attention it deserves as well.

But it's when you look at both factors simultaneously that the real puzzlement begins. A News report last week of the graduating class of 2005 in Denver Public Schools found that girls in any ethnic group are more likely to graduate from high school than boys in the same group. And the gaps are so large that black, white and Asian girls all graduate at higher rates than white boys.

We are probably on safe grounds ruling out any intention on the district's part to discriminate against white boys, so what else is going on? And not only in Denver, but in other big-city districts that have similar patterns?

Okay, what safe grounds would that be--that white boys are not discriminated against? Was a study done, did you ask the white boys what they thought? How will "experts" ever figure out the problem if they have already closed their minds to the possibility that their preconceived ideas about boys just might be wrong? Could it be that the schools are run mainly for the benefit of girls? Could girls have been told for the past thirty years to get ahead and get an education while boys are told education is for girls? I don't know--just a guess. But I guess it is easier to say the whole situation is puzzling then to open up a real dialogue with boys and their feelings about school.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

The High of Mount Everest and the Lows of Human Behavior

I guess for people who have a dream of climbing Mount Everest, nothing else--not even a person dying--can keep them from their goal (Hat Tip: Ann Althouse). I say that's pitiful. It reminds me of the French tragedy when thousands of elderly died of heatstroke when their kids and the government went on vacation in the month of August. What do you think--would you pass a dying man by to reach the top of a mountain or leave the elderly to die so you could have a vacation?