Saturday, September 30, 2006

Homeschooling among Black Families is on the Rise

La Shawn Barber has an interesting post on the rise of homeschooling among black families:

I am extremely pleased to know that the number of homeschooling black families is increasing.

Before I elaborate on the race issue, let’s look at class. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, half of homeschooling families have incomes of $50,000 or less. Three quarters earn $75,000 or less.

Contrary to popular opinion, homeschooling is not a phenomenon of “the rich.” Well-off families often opt to send their kids to private and parochial schools. A high income is not a prerequisite to homeschooling. Having an intact family is more likely the key to successful homeschooling. Somebody has to be the breadwinner. I can’t imagine one parent working and homeschooling.

What I’m about to say next is controversial....

Read the whole thing.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

School Shooters, Depression and Prevention

The killer in a Colorado school shooting focused on taking female hostages. I wonder what we will find out about his history that led him to conclude that this rampage was his only solution? Notice that many mass murderers/school shooters kill themselves or are killed by the police during the crime. The men and boys who commit these crimes are often highly suicidal and decide that if no one cares about their perceived pain and emotional turmoil, they might as well take others down with them in a high drama episode that lets the world know how they feel.

It makes sense to me that we try to address male depression and high suicide rates as a way to prevent these killings. Ignoring the emotional problems of men and boys can have terrible repurcussions that affect not only the mental health of men and boys, but affect innocent victims like the girls at this high school. Prevention on the front end makes more sense than doing nothing if we are truly interested in saving lives. None of this excuses what these killers have done, but it is better to figure out how to put a stop to these rampages then it is to decide what to do with a perpretrator once they have killed. As a therapist who has worked with potential killers and seen how effective correcting these cognitive distortions and behavior can be, I think that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

New York to Ban Trans Fats?

Dave at the Crisper Blog has the lowdown on NYC banning trans fatty acids in restaurants. Can the government really operate like a nanny state and tell people what to put in their bodies? I say, "no," it should not. I do not care that it may be unhealthy--the overriding principle is that people have the right to choose what to put in their bodies, no matter what. Why not just have the restaurant list the amount of trans fat on their menu? Then consumers can decide if this is right for themselves. How can citizens ever learn personal responsibility if their choices are made for them by those who "know best?"

Don't Blame the Guy, He was Just Hormonal

Dr. Wes is a bit put out with the sexist interpretation a female researcher gives to men with too much testosterone. Does too much testosterone make muscle-bound men cut women off the road in a hormone driven rampage? "Yes," according to a study by a team of researchers on the effects of testosterone:

“Tests on brain cells in lab dishes showed that while a little of the male hormone is good, too much of it causes cells to self-destruct in a process similar to that seen in brain illnesses such as Alzheimer's.”

But it seems rats weren’t enough. It seems the ladies had to go and cross the line:

"Next time a muscle-bound guy in a sports car cuts you off on the highway, don't get mad -- just take a deep breath and realize that it might not be his fault," Ehrlich said in a statement.

Perhaps these same researchers of male deficiencies could try to make sense out of the increased road rage of women in the two decades:

The angry, young male profile of the aggressive driver is changing. The number of non-fatal traffic accidents involving women has increased eighteen percent over the last twenty years. Women's involvement in non-fatal accidents in 2000 was greater than that of men. Dr. Barbara Curbow, an assistant professor of social and behavioral sciences at John Hopkins University, researched the driving behavior of working women. Curbow discovered that women who have a demanding job and the additional stress of providing a good home life for their families "often become Mad Maxine on the roads." Futhermore, Curbow found a stronger correlation between stressful home lives and aggressive driving than aggressive driving caused by job stress. "Road rage was highest for women with low home rewards and high home responsibilities...[it was] lowest for women with high home rewards and high home responsibilities."

So Dr. Wes makes a good point when he says this about "soccer moms":

Have you ever been on the road at the hours between 3PM and 4 PM and seen a woman on a cell phone, sipping a latte, driving an SUV like a bat out of hell as she rushes to pick up her kids from school? It makes us 'muscle-bound guys' look like fairies! Never, ever, pretend such a woman gives a damn about anyone else on the road. Just stay out of her way. It seems womens’ amygdala are in epileptiform tetany at this time of day. Please, Dr. Ehrlich, don’t be too quick to judge male driving habits.

So, according to these studies, for women, it appears that road rage is a social response to stress and for men, it is biological due to too much testosterone. Does this mean that medical and behavioral experts should get men off the hook for road rage incidents since they can't help themselves? I doubt that will ever happen (nor should it, necessarily). I do, however, find it interesting that women's problems always seem to be blamed on other people--you know, those people who do not reward them enough at home, while men's problems are always blamed on the man himself, when convenient, or on biology, but only when convenient.

What do you think, who is more angry on the roads, men or women?

Update: Speaking of road rage, I assisted a colleague in putting out a road rage tape some years ago. I see it is still up on Amazon but I so do not recommend it.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

"Ugly" Americans Abroad

I love these guidelines proposed by a pompous outfit called the Business for Diplomatic Action for Americans traveling abroad. Apparently, this group is "concerned by an apparent rise in what it calls 'negative stereotypes about our collective personality,' and 'is hoping to clean up the image of Americans abroad." The group has published a set of guidelines for travelers, the World Citizens Guide, that suggests proper ways of behaving when visiting countries outside of the U.S.

Among its tips:

Be humble. In many countries, boasting is considered very rude. … Assume resentment as a default and play down your wealth, power and status.

Refrain from lecturing. Nobody likes a know-it-all, and nobody likes a whole nation of them.

Be quiet. A loud voice is often perceived as a bragging voice. Casual profanity is almost always considered unacceptable.

Dress for respect. Jeans, T-shirts and sneakers work for many of us much of the time, but there are people in other countries who believe such casualness is a sign of disrespect to them and their beliefs.

Perhaps people from other countries should be given the proper code of etiquette when they come here to the United States. It seems that we are often told to be tolerant of other cultures, no matter how outrageous or unusual the behavior. Because I must say--that whenever I encounter unusual or odd behavior from visitors to America, I usually hear how I am supposed to be sensitive to cultural differences. Are there concerned groups elsewhere telling foreign visitors how to behave properly in the US or is it just politically correct to bad mouth Americans while holding others to a lower standard?

Grand Rounds is Up

Grand Rounds is up at Tech Medicine. Take a look, especially if you are concerned about spinach and E.Coli--there is some good advice. Also, take a look at this picture of a pregnant woman in a bikini advertising non-alcoholic beer--is this such a good idea? I could be persuaded either way.

Monday, September 25, 2006

If Only We Could Understand These Women

What is it about this September that is bringing female baby snatchers and killers out of the woodwork? So far, a woman has had her throat cut by a woman and her baby stolen in Missouri (the good news--the baby was found) and now another woman in Illinois has been killed along with her fetus and three children by a female baby-sitter. What is suprising to me is that no one seems overly frightened or concerned by this behavior, possibly because these crimes were committed by women. Face it, if two similar crimes this close together had been committed by males against females and their babies (take the Scott Peterson case, for example), the press coverage would be different, with the horrors of the perpretrator being discussed -- and with good reason given the nature of these crimes. But with the female perpretrators, the first thing called for is a psychological evaluation and, of course, a little understanding:

On Sunday, the community turned to prayer to understand the slayings at a service for the slain family.

“This is an opportunity for people to turn to God,” said Debra Kenton, a member of the New Life Community Church. “Who else can explain things like this?”

I doubt very much that the female killer, Tiffany Hall, in the Illinois case will get death by lethal injection like Scott Peterson, despite possibly having killed five people. Tell me, if you can, what is the difference?