Friday, January 09, 2009

Wall Street Journal: "Atlas Shrugged": From fiction to fact in 52 years (via Newsalert).

Should schools pick applicants based on their adherence to "social justice"?

I received an alumni newsletter from the University of Tennessee and read up on some of the changes going on in the Psychology Department. One segment that caught my eye stated "New emphasis on social justice training." The website is here.

"Oh lord," I thought, as I read about the "buzz" in the faculty discussions and the agreement among each member that "we should add a new component to our training model." It seems that this new training model will be a two-semester course sequence of "social justice practica" which will teach students to conduct social justice research, and to gain skills in consultation, program development, and intervening at a systemic level to bring about social change.

The most troubling part of this little exercise was yet to come, however. It seems the psychology program has received double the number of applications for the doctoral program in Counseling in 2008 as they received in 2007 and the newsletter went on to mention that the doctoral students in 2008 were selected, in part, for their interest in developing social justice advocacy skills [emphasis mine].

My guess is that social justice is just another buzzword for adherence to liberal and left-leaning dogma. How many people will they turn away due to their politics? No one will ever really know.

I wonder what would happen if clinical and counseling doctoral programs across the country announced that applicants would be chosen for their "interest in liberty and free market ideas?" Should these programs really be choosing candidates based on their politics, because ultimately, that's what they are doing. As much as the Counseling psych website advocates that they are proud of the "diversity of their student body," I wonder how much diversity of political thought they allow?

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Ask Dr. Helen: Men who give too much (including internal organs)

My PJM column is up:

Giving your wife an expensive gift — even a kidney — to save your marriage will never work.

Read the rest here.


Thursday, January 08, 2009

Is right-leaning policy easier to pass with a Democratic President?

This article in the New York Times entitled, "Obama Promises Bid to Overhaul Retiree Spending" caught my attention this morning:

President-elect Barack Obama said Wednesday that overhauling Social Security and Medicare would be “a central part” of his administration’s efforts to contain federal spending, signaling for the first time that he would wade into the thorny politics of entitlement programs.....

Should he follow through with a serious effort to cut back the rates of growth of the two programs, he would be opening up a potentially risky battle that neither party has shown much stomach for. The programs have proved almost sacrosanct in political terms, even as they threaten to grow so large as to be unsustainable in the long run. President Bush failed in his effort to overhaul Social Security, and Medicare only grew larger during his administration with the addition of prescription drug coverage for retirees.

Of course, the details of how Obama will change these entitlements is not clear, but let's give him the benefit of the doubt, perhaps they will be reasonable. Is it just me or is Obama taking a very moderate and almost right-leaning approach to the economy in some ways?

If so, I think it's easier for a Democrat to do this. Republicans are afraid of being seen as "mean" and hurting the old and poor and tend to take on Democratic policies. Obama, on the other hand, may have more freedom to change these entitlement programs just as Clinton did with welfare reform. The media is on their side and though it may grumble, will not denigrate them the way they would a Republican. This more favorable treatment, in turn, will help the electorate swallow a bitter pill more readily than they would if they were being told they were being screwed by "the man." Maybe the only way to get right-leaning policies through is to elect a Democrat.


Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Score one for couples counseling

Blogger Stuart Schneiderman has a post entitled, "Does couples counseling work?" He mentions an article in Cosmo describing the advice given to split couple Madonna and Guy Ritchie:

Thanks to their counselor Madonna and Guy posted "a list of relationship guidelines" on the walls of their New York apartment. Of course, if you have children who can read or friends coming in and out, this is not a great idea.

Guy was instructed to "enrich his wife's spiritual and emotional well-being," and to study the Kabbalah with her. And both parties were told: "not to use sex as a stick to beat one another."

For my part I cannot even venture to guess whose stick was being used to beat on whom.

Be that as it may, the tenor of the advice tells me one thing: that Madonna was paying for it. I hate to attribute even unconscious venal motives to anyone, no less a professional, but the counselor's advice is clearly one-sided....

The counselor told Ritchie to serve his wife, to attend to her spiritual and emotional needs, and to worship with her at the same altar.

Perhaps that was just what he needed to see clearly what he had gotten involved in. Couples counseling helped Guy Ritchie to see the writing on the wall, and he decided to cut his losses. Score one for couples counseling.

Marriage therapy isn't always about staying together, sometimes it can help a lucky person like Guy realize that he is better off apart.


Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Some good news from the Madoff scandal (via Newsalert).
The Carnival of Homeschooling is up at the Why HomeSchool blog. My post on the double standard at school between boys and girls after sex in the stairwell is there in the section "Why people homeschool."


Monday, January 05, 2009

Should you throw a tantrum because you have to go to work?

Okay, this article (via Drudge) has to be the silliest things I've read this year (the year has just begun, I wonder what other nonsense is awaiting us). Anyway, the article says that if you feel stressed today about going back to work after the holidays, just throw a tantrum:

The end of the holidays, cold weather and economic gloom will make today one of the most stressful days of the year for returning to work.

But experts have come up with an unlikely remedy - throwing a tantrum.

'Releasing tension through shouting and screaming is a really beneficial way to expel the negative energies caused by stress,' said body language expert Judi James, the Big Brother psychologist.

I love the causes of work stress that a poll in the article found:

The advice comes as a survey reveals that people are most likely to be irritated by colleagues eating noisily (28 per cent), sniffing (26 per cent), talking too loudly on the phone (21 per cent) and even singing (5 per cent).

So, in response to these petty annoyances, one is to get angry and shout (luckily, the article does report doing so in a quiet place)? I hardly think this is sound psychological advice. Some of the commenters appear much more psychologically astute than the so-called expert Big Brother psychologist who (I think) incorrectly advocates a tantrum:

Oh how misunderstood this is. If anyone knew about human behaviour they would know that trying to vent stress or anger through shouting, screaming, throwing a tantrum or even using a punch bag will only result in you becoming more stressed and angry. If this was the case, Buddhists would be constantly shouting and punching walls. No, they relax and take deep breaths.

These so called experts need to get a grip on reality. Throwing tantrums & behaving badly is so 2008, get out & get some control over your life.

Screaming & shouting & behaving badly might de-stress you but it would not help those around you.

As for a tantrum they are for toddlers, which most of the adult population seem to behave like sometimes.

What is called for if one is upset at work might be assertiveness, not necessarily aggression. How about talking to the loud person on the phone and asking them to be a little less loud. Taking calm, deep breaths is relaxing and helpful--so is counting to ten. Taking a walk or clearing your mind is also good.

I don't understand encouraging people to engage in tantrums, it sounds like a recipe for increasing one's anger and frustration. It teaches nothing about self-control or problem solving and does not seem at all helpful. Or try reading a self-help book like Albert Ellis's How To Control Your Anger Before It Controls You before going into work, it just might have some better suggestions than the Big Brother psychologist noted in the article.

What do you do if stressed at work?

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Library use booming

It seems that because of the economy, library use is booming (via Newsalert):

In the fast-paced, instant message, Internet era, public libraries have often struggled for attention from patrons. But with the economy sputtering, unemployment rising, and no relief in sight, Massachusetts libraries, long the victim of budget cuts, are busier than ever before, said Robert Maier, director of the state Board of Library Commissioners.

Attendance is surging. Check-out rates are soaring. At some libraries, circulation - the number of items checked out in a given month - is up as much as 33 percent since last summer. And for the unemployed, libraries have become something like an office, with computers, Internet access, and even classes that teach how to write a r??sum?? and peddle it online. In a tough time, it seems, people are returning to a place where whispering trumps shouting and no credit card is necessary. At the library, just about everything is free.....

And without the library, Kathleen Foster, a mother of two, would still be spending a lot of money on books.

"In the past, I would take the girls to Borders, or Barnes & Noble, and let them pick out a book," said Foster one day last week, walking the aisles of the Thomas Crane Public Library in Quincy with her daughters, Abigail, 8, and Clare, 6. "I just don't do that now. We come here instead."

So, I wonder if book sales are down at Borders or Barnes & Noble as a result? I read recently that Amazon sales are up, but then, they sell much more than books.