Friday, February 29, 2008

Live Through This

Fuse TV has a new series called Live Through This about rock stars who have bad things happen to them. The show "takes a look at some of your favorite musicians and their heroic tales of recovery."

I was interviewed for the pilot show that featured Nikki Sixx from Motley Crue--remember them, 1980's, "Smoking in the Boys Room?" In the show, Sixx talks about the addiction problems that almost killed him. Since getting clean, Sixx is now working with Covenant House California to raise awareness of addiction in youth. He is also the author of a new book, The Heroin Diaries: A Year in the Life of a Shattered Rock Star and has released a new CD, The Heroin Diaries Soundtrack.

The next episode airs on Fuse TV on Sunday, March 2nd at 2:00 pm Eastern.

You can watch a YouTube clip with some of my interview here:

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Percentage of Male Teachers Hits 40-Year Low

An MSN article notes that male teachers continue to take a nosedive (Thanks Mike):

According to statistics recently released by the National Education Association (NEA), men made up just 24.4 percent of the total number of teachers in 2006. In fact, the number of male public school teachers in the U.S. has hit a record 40-year low. Arkansas, at 17.5 percent, and Mississippi, with 17.7 percent, have the lowest percentage of male teachers, while Kansas, at 33.3 percent, and Oregon, with 31.4 percent, boast the largest percentage of men leading the classroom.....

Why the downward trend in male teaching? According to Bryan Nelson, founder of MenTeach, a nonprofit organization dedicated to recruiting male teachers, research suggests three key reasons for the shortage of male teachers: low status and pay, the perception that teaching is "women's work," and the fear of accusation of child abuse.

Many men once in the profession say they quit because of worries that innocuous contact with students could be misconstrued, reports the NEA.

In addition to worrying about being called a pervert, men also face discrimination in the interview process, according to the article:

For men thinking of heading into education, Nelson offered hard-won advice: Be persistent. Get practical experience first. Look for resources to help you get through school, and, when applying for a job, make sure you have thick skin.

"People will ask you inappropriate questions," he said, recalling a recent e-mail he received from an aspiring male teacher who was asked during a job interview, "Why would any healthy male want to work with kids?"

In such situations, Nelson suggests stressing the positive aspects of having a man in the classroom. "When kids see [a man] in front of them on a daily basis, it helps to contradict negative stereotypes," Nelson said.

So men are told to get a thick skin, get used to handling "inappropriate questions," and learn to contradict negative sterotypes. In other words, if men are discriminated against, it is up to them to deal with the fall-out and to change negative steroptypes and to expect no help from other people. So men are guilty unless proven otherwise. Reader Mike who sent me the article link had this to say about the sexist way male teachers are handled at interviews:

What would the NEA or NOW or NAACP or.... say if "gay & transgendered" or "woman" or "black person" or.... the acceptable list goes on & on, were it substituted for "healthy male"??? I do believe something stronger than "inappropriate questions" would be used to describe this - no? And I would expect the ACLU to be filing suit within hours - yes?

The ACLU filing suit for sexism against men? Uhh, doubtful. Expect the downward trend of males in teaching to continue, for just like the marriage strike, most smart men will be hesitant to enter an institution where being male puts them at risk of being charged with abuse, having their livelihood taken from them with little or no due process, and being taken from the children that they love.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Can Hybrid Cars Interfere with Your Pacemaker?

Dr. Wes on Pacemakers, Defibrillators and Hybrid Cars:

With the interest and popularity of going "green" with hybrid cars (even with a select few of my fellow physician-bloggers) I thought it would be worthwhile to share a few tidbits about the potential for electromagenetic interference between hybrids and pacemakers or defibrillators. (Heck, maybe they'll need this info when they get older and have their pacer installed...)

If you have a pacemaker or defibrillator like I do, this information is good to know.

The Truth about Domestic Violence

"Canada is the scariest country on the planet." So says Erin Pizzey, at a domestic violence conference in Sacramento, Calif. Pizzy is an Englishwoman who founded the world's first shelter for battered wives in 1971 (thanks Mike). However, she quickly learned in her work that domestic violence is reciprocal and that women were just as culpable as men. She states, "Canada is ..."scary to men who suffer because of it, certainly, but apparently not to most other Canadians, who remain curiously indifferent to the demonstrable misandry permeating the institutions that define and shape our culture."

Apparently, this head-in-the-sand approach to domestic violence is prevalent in the US as well as Canada. What happens when someone tries to break the code of silence?

Holding women responsible for their violence was so at odds with the received wisdom of the movement's activists that, for her whistle-blowing pains, Pizzey's dog was killed and her entire family received death threats. Undaunted, she pursued her equal-responsibility crusade in the United States for many years in a fusillade of articles and books.

And Pizzy is not alone:

Another outlier, University of British Columbia psychology professor Don Dutton, is acknowledged by his peers as a world expert on IPV. He has proven, over and over again -- most recently in his definitive 2006 book, Rethinking Domestic Violence -- that the tendency to violence in intimate relationships is bilateral and rooted in individual dysfunction: Men and women with personality disorders and/or family histories of violence are equally likely to be violent themselves, or seek violent partners.

But Dutton's scientific credentials and extensive 25-year archive of peer-reviewed research cut no ice with Canadian policymakers, none of whom has ever solicited his advice.

I tried on a smaller scale to get the Tennessee Department of Health to review their misconceptions of domestic violence but never got a response from them --although I did hear back from one of my state senators whom I sent a copy of my letters to. It seems that when it comes to domestic violence, the status quo remains, women are the victims, men the perpetrators.

It seems, the article in the National Post that I linked to above put it correctly:

...pseudo-science absolving women of violent impulses, delivered on demand to interest groups by the same tiny, incestuous coterie of ideologically sympathetic professionals, is routinely applied in training police, family law judges, social workers and women's shelter personnel.

Pathetic and sad.

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Is Obama Feminized?

So I took a look at a book entitled The New Feminized Majority this week that purports to show how the values of American voters are dramatically shifting. How? According to the literature accompanying the book, there is a new feminized majority made up of both women and men that is:

...emerging as the pivotal force in American politics. Emerging trends show these values are broadly progressive and address not just the needs of women but the general interests of society. They are held by women substantially more than by men but have become the values held by a majority of all voters, including millions of men.

Like earlier eras in American history, such as the New Deal, the rise of the feminized majority today presents an opportunity for the Democrats to become the governing party for decades to come.

I love the presumption by the writers of the book description that certainly anyone reading it would be just thrilled to have progressive and socialist values shoved down their throats. There is no indication or question about whether these are good values to have, simply that they will "open up a window for major social justice movements to make progressive change."

Now, naturally, this "feminized" change may take the form of a male presidential candidate. The authors are not too keen on Clinton whom they describe as a "pathbreaking" but imperfect carrier of the feminized agenda. They seem to love Edwards but since he is out of the race, we will turn to their thoughts on feminized Obama:

Here is Obama's feminized philosophy in a nutshell. He highlights the importance of values in his own life and in the nations politics. He emphasizes that there is a "common good" or universal set of values that can bring all Americans together. He stresses change and the movement from self-interested patisanship to a feminized politics of the common good....

Obama is markedly feminized in his critique of the self-interested, greedy, "old politics" of partisanship. "It is such partisanship that has turned Americans off. What is needed is a broad majority who are reengaged and who see their own self-interest as inextricably linked to the interest of others." Here, the feminized Obama challenges the historic, masculinized American dream of looking out for oneself. Obama seeks to move American from narrow "self interest" (the masculinized narrative of Alone I Will) to a concept of shared interest with others (the feminized narrative of Together We Can, which Obama often cites as "Yes, We Can")...

Obama straddles the maculinized/feminized divide in foreign policy. As the 2008 campaign unfolds, he increasingly emphasizes soft power--diplomacy, international law, and cooperation--in the war on terrorism...

Funny, I can't help but think that the word feminized used by these authors is just another metaphor for socialism:

Socialism is the doctrine that man has no right to exist for his own sake, that his life and his work do not belong to him, but belong to society, that the only justification of his existence is his service to society, and that society may dispose of him in any way it pleases for the sake of whatever it deems to be its own tribal, collective good.

I think the new feminized majority is just another name for the same old socialist agenda. If so, count me out.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Are Single Sex Schools Really the Answer?

A Georgia school system is set to go single-sex:

Nearly four decades after this rural Georgia county stopped segregating its schools by race, it wants to divide students again—this time by sex. Greene County is set to become the first school district in the nation to go entirely single-sex, with boys and girls in separate classrooms—a move born of desperation over years of poor test scores, soaring dropout rates and high numbers of teenage pregnancies.

"At the rate we're moving, we're never going to catch up," Superintendent Shawn McCollough told parents in an impassioned speech last week. "If we're going to take some steps, let's take some big steps."

This pine-shrouded county of about 14,400 people between Atlanta and Augusta has in recent years become a magnet for retirees moving into luxury developments along the shore of Lake Oconee. But the vast majority of longtime residents—and most of the 2,000 students in the county's schools—are black and working class.

Will single sex classrooms lead to better outcomes in this Georgia school? It's hard to say, given that there are so many other variables that might be at play leading to the poor test scores, drop out rates and pregnancies. The article mentions that single sex schools tend to be private institutions with updated technology and ample resources, not poor school systems like Greene County's. It will be interesting to see if there is improvement or not.
Filmmaker Stuart Browning discusses the perils of public healthcare on Canadian National TV (CBC). You can watch it here.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid

Are you looking for a fun book for your elementary age or early middle school boy on the perils of navigating middle school? If so, take a look at Diary of a Wimpy Kid--a fun-filled book that is reviewed over at BooksForKids blog:

Greg is a scrawny, socially untalented middle school newby who longs to be a popular and muscular ladies' man, but totally lacks the motivation to make the effort to get there. Instead he spends a lot of his energy trying to avoid schoolwork, get his hands on a video game called "Twisted Wizard," and hang out with his sidekick Rowley. Now, clueless as he is, Greg realizes that Rowley is still stuck in kidsville and admits that Rowley's status as "friend" is no sure thing...

Frankly, the book sounds a bit painful to me but perhaps the idea of making middle school trials fun instead of traumatic is a better why to go. Anyway, if you want to learn more about the book, read the review here.


Sunday, February 24, 2008

A New Twist to the Prenuptial Agreement

At least this one does not involve the groom (Hat tip: Dave)--but maybe it should get him thinking:

There's a new prenuptial agreement in town - and it's beyond anything even Ron Perelman's lawyers could cook up.

Young brides are drawing up bridesmaids contracts that are sure to cause rifts between BFFs in bad floor-length dresses everywhere.

The agreements include specific grooming and behavior clauses - specifying everything from the required length and style of bridesmaids' fingernails to prohibitions on gaining weight before the big day - with the threat that those who don't comply will be dumped. ...

More than 20 percent of brides-to-be said they would use a contract to control bridesmaids, and half of them said they would sack one if she refused to follow the script, according to a survey conducted by UK magazine You & Your Wedding.

It seems to me that this type of pre-nup should serve as a warning sign to the groom. Think about it, if a bride is this controlling of her bridesmaids' behavior, what is she going to do to you after the wedding?

Thoughts on a Sunday Morning at Panera

It's amazing how honest most people are; I was in line this morning at Panera when a man handed the cashier a large Louis Vuitton purse and said, "There was a group of people who just took off and one of them left this purse." The cashier took it, shrugged and told the man, "I'm sure they will come back. I'll put it in a safe place." I then watched her tell her co-workers to be aware that a woman had left her purse and would probably be back to get it soon.

"Such quick organizational skills and honesty," I thought. I imagine the woman who left her purse will be relieved to find that a group of honest people made sure that her property was safe. I wonder what would have happened if this woman had found her purse? I think about how amazing it is that the default setting for most of us is honesty and doing what's right. It comforts me when I think about all of the terrible things that we human beings do to each other that seems so prevalent when clustered together on the evening news, but seem so much an aberration in the day-to-day world.


Victor Davis Hanson has an interesting piece up over at PJM on how we ended up with Obama:

One wonders how the United States has come to the brink of nominating and probably electing someone with almost no experience as either an executive or national legislator, replete with ratings and rankings that suggest he will be about the most liberal Presidential candidate since George McGovern.

You can read more here.