Friday, August 24, 2007

Watch Out for that Guy Pushing the Stroller!

Several readers have emailed this article from the WSJ entitled "Are We Teaching Our Kids to be Fearful of Men?"

Are we teaching children that men are out to hurt them? The answer, on many fronts, is yes. Child advocate John Walsh advises parents to never hire a male babysitter. Airlines are placing unaccompanied minors with female passengers rather than male passengers. Soccer leagues are telling male coaches not to touch players.

Child-welfare groups say these are necessary precautions, given that most predators are male. But fathers' rights activists and educators now argue that an inflated predator panic is damaging men's relationships with kids. Some men are opting not to get involved with children at all, which partly explains why many youth groups can't find male leaders, and why just 9% of elementary-school teachers are male, down from 18% in 1981.

People assume that all men "have the potential for violence and sexual aggressiveness," says Peter Stearns, a George Mason University professor who studies fear and anxiety. Kids end up viewing every male stranger "as a potential evildoer," he says, and as a byproduct, "there's an overconfidence in female virtues."

Virginia's Department of Health has a troubling ad showing a man holding a little child's hand. The caption reads: "It doesn't feel right when I see them together." If you get a chance, click on the article and take a look at it and see the negative statement it makes about men.

The excuse given for the negative ad is:

Virginia's campaign was designed to encourage people to trust their instincts about possible abuse, says Rebecca Odor, director of sexual and domestic violence prevention for the state health department. She stands by the ads, pointing out that 89% of child sex-abuse perpetrators in Virginia are male.

The psychological damage to children of not having men around to interact with because of these scare tactics is never mentioned but something that should be considered by the Virginia Department of Health when they develop such ads. Surely, they can come up with something creative that would help make people aware of sexual predators but would not demonize men in general, most of whom are innocent.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Overdose: Richard Epstein on the Pharmaceutical Industry

University of Chicago Professor of Law Richard Epstein, author of Overdose: How Excessive Government Regulation Stifles Pharmaceutical Innovation talks with us about the impact of universal health care on drug research, why pharmaceutical companies are treated almost as badly as the tobacco industry and why there is no outcry for the thousands of people who are denied drugs by the FDA and die. It's easy for politicians and pundits to make simplistic statements about "compassion," universal healthcare and the evils of drug companies but much more difficult to understand and discuss in depth what impact government regulation would have on drug innovation, research and distribution. If you want to hear more than phony platitudes about the evils of drug companies put out by the media and other agenda-driven groups, take a listen.

You can listen directly (no downloading needed) by going here and clicking on the gray Flash player. You can download the file directly and listen at your leisure by clicking right here. And you can get a lo-fi version suitable for dialup by going here and selecting "lo-fi." As always, you can get a free subscription via iTunes and never miss another episode. You can't beat free.

This podcast is brought to you by Volvo USA. Music is by Mobius Dick.


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

US Cancer Survival Rate Among the Highest in the World

It appears that the best place to be for cancer care is the US -- you know, the country with the 42nd lowest life expectancy. All the media does is tout universal healthcare like that in the UK as something for the US to aspire to--but given the lower rates of cancer survival there, maybe that is not such wise advice. Take a look at this study on the poor cancer survival rates in the UK and the high ones in the US (Hat tip: Tim Worstall via Maggie's Farm):

Cancer survival rates in Britain are among the lowest in Europe, according to the most comprehensive analysis of the issue yet produced....

England is on a par with Poland despite the NHS spending three times more on health care.

Survival rates are based on the number of patients who are alive five years after diagnosis and researchers found that, for women, England was the fifth worst in a league of 22 countries. Scotland came bottom. Cancer experts blamed late diagnosis and long waiting lists.

The US is tops in cancer survival; I would think this analysis would be big news but I have yet to see a positive headline in a US newspaper. Am I missing something?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Dumb Kid Toys

The 86th Carnival of Homeschooling is up at Homeschool Buzz. If you take a look on the blog, you will notice some advertisements for magic tricks and other items such as joy buzzers that you may remember as a kid from comic books or other places. Seeing the pictures reminded me of the dumb stuff I was always ordering as a kid, first the Sea Monkeys--they died immediately--the magic rocks--they were kind of cool, the Joy Buzzers that provided hours of fun and finally, X-ray glasses that promised to let me see through clothing and spy on people. Yeah, sure. Most of the items I got through the mail were just a bunch of junk but the best part was imagining all the neat stuff I could do with them.

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Cognitive Simplicity--a Liberal Trait?

I often laugh when I read things written by liberal bloggers who try to interpret something that I have written. Granted, it doesn't happen often since this blog, hopefully, stays below the radar of most of the extreme lefty bloggers as it is small and targeted to people who tend towards being independent or libertarian types who believe in small government, something many on the left have no interest in (I acknowledge that the right also has problems with small government but that is another post!). That said, I have to point out the absurdity of some of the comments made by those of the far left persuasion to my recent PJM column that addressed a question by a male who said he had assertiveness problems and felt guilty even taking up space on the sidewalk. One of the several suggestions I made was the following:

I have seen this fear of manliness in many modern husbands and fathers. Some men today are afraid of appearing like their own fathers, whom they thought of as unfair, controlling or condescending to women—the son swears he will not act the same way. Unfortunately, he often goes to the opposite extreme of letting his wife or others run all over him. These men are often doing dishes, watching the kids and earning much of the money all the while feeling guilty if anyone is unhappy with them.

The problem here is not the man doing the dishes and watching kids (most modern men do nowadays, thank goodness!) but that some men act against their fathers and allow themselves to be doormats without saying a word to anyone. It is the guilt and harshness with themselves and the subsequent negative feelings that are the problem. Sticking up for themselves by setting boundaries and limits with others is reasonable. I would give the same advice to a woman who was supporting the family fully, caring for the children, cooking dinner and all the while feeling guilty that she was not doing enough.

Apparently, the above ideas are too complex for some liberals. For example, several of the comments at PJM that followed after Firedoglake linked there saw my response only in black and white:

Sundown asks:

Why do you think that men who do dishes aren't masculine? I say that's a very outrageous idea.

and Courtney says:

Oh, the HORROR of men washing dishes and spending time with their own children. Why is it that when women do the dishes, they're doing their wifely duty, but when men do the dishes, they're graciously "helping out" and "emasculating" themselves?? GROW UP. If a sink is full of YOUR dirty dishes, YOU WASH THEM. Same goes for YOUR OWN CHILDREN.

One of the commenters refers to me as Phyllis Schlafly in order to make it look as if I think women should be stuck in the kitchen while men go to work. If that is not black and white thinking, I don't know what is.

Another liberal, David Niewert talks about being a stay-at-home dad and states the following:

And there were moments — whispered comments, offhand remarks — where I was reminded that a lot of people, both men and women, privately viewed stay-at-home daddies as wimps or out-of-work losers. Sort of like Dr. Helen.

Niewert takes my statements out of context and projects his own liberal agenda onto them--look, he says, "she thinks stay-at-home dads are wimps!" I have never said that, nor have I ever thought that. If Niewert were not such a simplistic thinker, he would have done more than glance over Jane Hamsher's post on the PJM column and would have actually analyzed my post himself to see that I was responding to a man who was having assertiveness problems--and the man's problem was possibly a response of guilt to his own father being controlling and condescending towards women.

Some men are so guilty in that manner that they will not stand up for themselves in psychological ways with women or others. Apparently, this complexity of thought is more than Niewert or his cohorts can be expected to manage. My column had nothing to do with thinking that stay-at-home dads were wimps--and everything to do with men feeling that they are not allowed to express their feelings, something I thought liberal men were into. Apparently not. Men, in their book, are supposed to be the strong silent types that do dishes, watch kids, work all day, and never ever mention how they feel about anything. So much for escaping rigid gender roles.

For more on the supposed "cognitive complexity" of liberals, see this study on the traits of conservative vs. liberals here. My favorite line from one of the researchers is the following:

Conservatives don't feel the need to jump through complex, intellectual hoops in order to understand or justify some of their positions, he said. "They are more comfortable seeing and stating things in black and white in ways that would make liberals squirm," Glaser said.

Apparently, Glaser doesn't read liberal blogs.


Sunday, August 19, 2007

Self-Help Cornucopia

Many readers email me to ask my recommendations for good self-help books on a variety of emotional or psychological issues. I thought it might be helpful to some of you (and easier for me to direct requests here) to have a post of my favorite books for what ails you or someone you care about.

I will start with the most prevalent emails and google searches that this site gets: what to read when someone you care about has Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). The best book I have found on the topic is Stop Walking on Eggshells: Taking Your Life Back When Someone You Care about Has Borderline Personality Disorder and its accompanying workbook The Stop Walking on Eggshells Workbook. These books have very practical suggestions that are easy to implement and help to make sense of the disorder in a way that allows for understanding the person suffering from BPD, yet their focus is on the non-BPD individual who must interact and deal with someone with BPD. You can read more about the books in my post on "Walking on Eggshells" here. If you have a parent with BPD, try reading Surviving a Borderline Parent: How to Heal Your Childhood Wounds & Build Trust, Boundaries, and Self-Esteem. I read this book a few years ago for work and it really gave some good insight into how adult children of parents with BPD could learn to heal their wounds.

Turning to another area of concern for some of you is dealing with anxiety and depression, whether about your job, your family, or life in general. I know I have harped on Albert Ellis's work before but I do believe he has some of the best self-help books around for those with tendencies toward these two common problems. For anxiety related disorders, I recommend Ellis's book, How To Control Your Anxiety Before It Controls You and for depression, I recommend How to Stubbornly Refuse to Make Yourself Miserable about Anything: Yes Anything! An added bonus of these books is that not only do they teach you to lessen depression and anxiety, they teach how to live in a world where one is rejected frequently without letting it get the best of you.

Another area where of concern for emailers and others is with the emotion of anger. Now, I have to say that I am one who believes that anger can be a positive emotion that leads us to action or anger can let us know that we feel that we are being treately unfairly. I do not believe in eradicating anger, for it has its benefits. However, the way it is expressed may not always be healthy for the individual. If you are dealing with anger that you feel is unhealthy, try reading Ellis's How To Control Your Anger Before It Controls You.Specifially for women who are dealing with anger, look at Women and Anger, Use Your Anger, and The Anger Workbook for Women: How to Keep Your Anger from Undermining Your Self-Esteem, Your Emotional Balance, and Your Relationships. The Women and Anger book is a bit old (1993) but has some terrific academic research and information on why women are angry and what to do about it.

Finally, what are good books if you are dealing with a child who has emotional problems? This is difficult to narrow down as there are so many problems that afflict children. If your child has been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, it's a good idea to pick up a copy of The Bipolar Child: The Definitive and Reassuring Guide to Childhood's Most Misunderstood Disorder by Demitri and Janice Papolos. The book is chockfull of information on how to deal with school, home, medication and other areas that are essential to monitor in order to stablize the mood of your bipolar child. One childhood problem that we don't see talked about much is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder; it affects many kids, especially those who tend towards being a perfectionist. If you or your child has OCD, try Stop Obsessing!: How to Overcome Your Obsessions and Compulsions. And last, but not least, if your child has been diagnosed with ADHD, my favorite expert on the topic is Russell Barkley who wrote Taking Charge of ADHD: The Complete, Authoritative Guide for Parents.

Okay, I have just touched the surface of the self-help world but this post is already long enough so I will stop. Just as an aside, I used to scoff at self-help books and did not believe in them. I found out through trial and error that I was wrong and that many of them are helpful to millions of people--that is, if one can wade through the bad ones and find the gems. So do the rest of us a favor--if you have a self-help book to recommend, drop a line in the comments with the name of the book and why you like it.

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