• Still, “Helping,” your children with homework?
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    SF Gate

    Keith Robinson, a sociology professor at the University of Texas at Austin, and Angel L. Harris, a sociology professor at Duke, looked at 63 measures of parental involvement in children’s lives, including helping with homework, volunteering at school, punishing kids with bad grades, observing in the classroom, returning calls from the school and meeting with teachers and the principal. Robinson and Harris found that most had little affect on a child’s academic success.

    The researchers also found that as children got older and entered middle school parental homework help had a negative effect, bringing down test scores. “Even though they may be active in helping, they may either not remember the material their kids are studying now, or in some cases never learned it themselves, but they’re still offering advice. And that means poor quality homework,? Robinson told the Canadian magazine Maclean’s.

    The only two things that had a significant positive impact was read out loud to young kids and talking with teenagers about college

    Robinson was surprised by the study results that challenge the accepted notion that children of involved parents do better in school.

    “There is such an overwhelmingly positive sentiment toward more parental engagement, even dating back to the ’70s,? Robinson told Macleans. “And a good deal of federal dollars is spent promoting it. But things jumped out at us. Affluent children with good academic success do have involved parents, it’s just that that’s not the reason they have success. The relationship of parental involvement at the school—which varies greatly over racial and especially economic groups—never yielded positive estimates even one-third of the time.?

    And so why do children of more affluent parents do better in school?

    Robinson believes it’s because their parents talk to their children about college and these kids are growing up in an environment surrounded by high-achieving individuals.

    With so many years of pressure, schools guilting parents that they are not doing enough for their children’s learning, demands for more homework, parents outright writing stuff for their kids and messages linking the chances of your kids living in your basement and playing World of Warcraft until they are thirty to your failure to reteach in the evenings what the teacher was supposed to be competent to have taught that day at school, the truth finally comes out.

    Turns out educated people tend to talk about education to their kids and instil in them the value of such — and it works.

    Oh, and all the papers you wrote for your child, ya, it didn’t help a thing — and it likely hurt your child’s performance…

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  • How to destructive-conflict proof your relationship.
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    Psychology Today

    Looking back over my 20 years as a couples therapist, and considering the many other couples I’ve encountered in my personal life, I realize that the happiest and most satisfied of them exhibited three specific relationship skills. Don’t be disheartened if you and/or your partner are not great at these skills. They rarely come pre-installed; they need to be learned and practiced:

    These three relationship skills go hand in hand. Together they form a foundation of caring, trust, and connection to which couples can more easily return when they find themselves in times of stress, tension, or emotional distance. Of course, for couples to benefit from these skills, they should make an effort to practice them, get better at them, and integrate them into their daily thinking and communication.

    It’s simple, straight-forward and absolutely correct. And, he’s right — they seem to naturally occur in only about 10-15% of marriages and almost always need to be taught.

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  • Some signs of hope…
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    Canadian Mags

    Come Monday, five unpaid interns at Toronto Life magazine will be out of work because of a visit this week by an inspector of the employment standards branch of the Ontario Ministry of Labour. St. Joseph Media has been told that under the provisions of the Employment Standards Act it can no longer offer four-month unpaid internships unless the interns are fulfilling a job placement requirement from a school of higher education. This is not the case for most interns at Toronto Life historically, although two of the current 7 interns qualify and will be staying on.

    The ministry inspector also advised that, though he was starting with Toronto Life, the policy will be enforced later with other St. Joseph magazines and, indeed eventually, all magazines in Ontario.

    There’s huge hope here — though a certain irony…

    The media has finally been forced (by raw weight of public opinion) to speak to the reality that over a decade of using our youth as unpaid slave labor is a decidedly un-cool thing — and governments are finally taking action. Of course, they are starting with one of the worst offenders out there:

    Yep, the media — specifically magazine publishers…

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  • And now, from the, “Who would have guessed it,” department…
    2 Comments on And now, from the, “Who would have guessed it,” department…

    Web MD

    They analyzed crime rates in all 50 states between 1990 and 2006. During that time, 11 states legalized medical marijuana: Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.

    Using FBI data, the researchers looked at rates of murder, rape, assault, robbery, burglary, larceny and auto theft. None of these types of crimes increased in states that legalized medical marijuana, according to the study, which was published in the journal PLoS One.

    “We’re cautious about saying, ‘Medical marijuana laws definitely reduce homicide.’ That’s not what we’re saying,” study author Robert Morris, an associate professor of criminology, said in a university news release.

    “The main finding is that we found no increase in crime rates resulting from medical marijuana legalization,” Morris said. “In fact, we found some evidence of decreasing rates of some types of violent crime — namely homicide and assault.”

    Since 2006, 20 more states and Washington, D.C., have legalized medical marijuana.

    It almost goes without saying but, to date, I have yet to have a single client get stoned and beat his wife. The researchers may not have the guts to say it but I will: Stoned people don’t run around committing murders. They sit and giggle hysterically as they contemplate doorknobs or something equally inane.

    Apparently, when laws are updated to reflect the values of a population (rather then trying to force a population to conform to the values of the laws,) people stop breaking laws — even some unrelated ones. That they even bothered to study this at all is nothing more then evidence of decades of miserably failed drug policy that still has tens of thousands rotting behind bars and costing all of us money…

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  • Understanding male narcissism
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    He doesn’t simply celebrate his existence; he celebrates how much better his existence is than everyone else’s. No one goes as hard as he does; no one has killed it like he has. He never gets hangovers or takes no for an answer or fucks the ugly friend. He crushes that next-level pussy, bruh bruh, only the finest. He is pinstripes and full Windsor knots, smashing bottles and spiking footballs, things that are irrepressible, things that smack you in the face.

    He is a walking scorched-earth policy. He takes what he wants to satisfy some hedonistic impulse, and then he leaves her sobbing in a hallway with her friend on the other line. He wrings every moment of every drop of novelty. He is doing shots and never with a chaser, because moderation and restraint are for women and faggots and children. The only way to be a real man is to be a real man as ferociously as humanly possible. He goes all-in; he gets shredded and ripped and defines his life by aggression and competitions. He buys the hamburger that comes with two other hamburgers and a chicken cutlet on top of it. Why? Because it’s three hamburgers with a chicken cutlet on top of it.

    He is comfortable. This needs to be understood. He is on a log flume holding a drink with an umbrella in it, because ironic homoeroticism is the height of masculinity. This is how he thinks. There is no stress in his life, no obstacles, nothing impeding this path to pussy and alcohol and beige, deep-fried carbohydrates. Not her inhibitions, not her less-attractive, responsible friend who is telling her to go home, not max capacities, not having to work the next day. In the presence of exposed female skin he is feral, he is a scavenger, and he will sleep only when he is fed.

    It’s a disturbing article — and one as patently irritating to simply read as is actual exposure to the reality of the subject matter it covers. In so many ways, this author gets it — but, there’s a key point he misses:


    The why is simple. This American Bro either grew up without a father, or with one who may as well have not been there. Raised by a mother who loved and nurtured (And often engulfed) but who lacked all ability to teach him masculinity, this young man invented his own definition.

    It’s a fragile definition and he’s not strong or confident — it’s not the confident men who masturbate before a playboy centerfold or the strong men treat women as objects of contempt. It’s the little boys who have to crush and dominate to scrape together some sense of power in the face of that which they struggle forever to tear away from: Woman.

    And, the article also does nothing to describe his end. Eventually, he will be too old, too lonely and the desirable women too long married to continue this charade.

    His goal never was so much to penetrate all of these women anyway — as much as it was to prove to himself he can pull out, walk away and never look back. The end? That’s where, in his loneliness, he is finally paying a young woman to have sex with him and still does not believe he is paying for sex. No, he believes he is paying the prostitute to walk away and never come back at the end of the sex act.

    Why? Because, somewhere, the media maligned, culturally mocked and generally disregarded male who donated sperm to give him life either can not, is not allowed or will not step up and fill the desperately needed role of father in his life to call him out to be a man.

    Increasingly, it’s that he is not allowed — by the boy’s mother. Because, ya, “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle,” — or something…

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  • Peek through the window of an alternative to Alcoholics Anonymous.
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    By spring, Dominic had dropped out of college. His parents turned to the family doctor for advice. She told him to double down on AA—to attend ninety meetings in ninety days, which is a common AA prescription.

    It worked. Although many of the faces at the meetings kept changing and Dominic constantly felt the urge to drink, he found a few “oldtimers? who believed wholly in the program and who encouraged him to dismiss the great majority of people who fell through the cracks. They just weren’t ready to stop, he was reassured. Dominic soon learned to distract himself from thinking about alcohol and to call his sponsor when the urge arose.

    Four months into the program, Dominic became frustrated during a call with his bank. He bought a fifth of vodka and drank so much that he fell down the stairs, suffering three cracked vertebrae. A series of increasingly expensive stints in rehab followed throughout his twenties, with poor results. During this time, he was hospitalized twice and lost every job he held. A brief marriage ended in a bad divorce, and Dominic was deeply depressed by the time someone in his life recommended that he try something other than a 12-step program. Maybe talk therapy was worth a try.

    When Dominic entered my office, he had accepted as empirical truth that he was a deeply flawed individual: amoral, narcissistic, and unable to turn himself over to a Higher Power. How else to explain the swath of destruction he had cut through his own life and the lives of those who loved him? His time in AA had also taught him that his deeper psychological life was immaterial to mastering his addiction. He had a disease; the solution was in the Twelve Steps. When he was ready to quit, he would.

    It took eight months of psychotherapy before Dominic stopped drinking for good. Although he remained in therapy for several years after that, the key that unlocked his addiction was nothing more complex or ethereal than an understanding of what his addiction really was and how it really worked.

    Dominic had felt enormously pressured all of his life, consumed by a suffocating need to excel in every activity. He was driven by a hunger to be “good enough?—accomplished enough, successful enough—to please his demanding father and blameful mother. Whenever he felt he was not performing up to his potential, his old sense of being trapped by implacable demands arose, and with it came a deep sense of shame and an equal fury at the awful helplessness he felt about this burden. Those were the moments he had to have a drink.

    Eventually he came to realize that this odd coping mechanism made a certain kind of sense. By making a decision to drink, he was empowering himself—he no longer felt helpless. Once he understood the connection between his lifelong feelings and his urges to drink, he was able to view them with some perspective for the first time. He found that he was able to predict when his drive to drink would return, since it always tended to surface right after that old, unbearable pressure to perform. He developed enough awareness into what was beneath these urges that he could take a step back and deal with those issues more directly and appropriately. Over time, he was also able to work out the underlying narrative forces that had led him to feel so helpless throughout his life. He had, in other words, supplanted the notion of a Higher Power with something far more personally empowering: sophisticated self-awareness.

    Dominic’s history follows the same contours as thousands of others. But one part of his story warrants special attention: the series of failed attempts at rehabilitation. Dominic’s family lost close to $200,000— their total retirement savings—on this string of ineffectual programs.

    It’s a long article — but well worth reading — especially if you have been through the wringer of, “Going for rehab.”

    It used to be that articles like this would come out once a year — and the authors would be immediately drawn and quartered. Now I’m seeing more then one per week and, though there is still significant heat coming from proponents of, “The program,” there are also huge numbers of people listening.

    But the above is interesting for two reasons:

    (1). I’ve had so many people come through my office who have literally spent all of their retirement funds putting their children through one rehab after another — with zero success. The above story is far from an outlier — it’s pretty much the average.

    (2). It’s an excellent picture of how people really stop any sort of addiction: Self awareness, skills and empowerment.

    Apparently, free is far from cheap…

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  • How religion erases humanity.
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    Westboro Baptist Church members were met with a notable counter-protest at their first protest since the group’s founder died: a sign that read “sorry for your loss.”

    Counter-protesters held up the sign at a Westboro Baptist Church protest of a Lorde concert in Kansas City, the first protest by the group since founder Fred Phelps died. More than 20 Westboro Baptist Church members were protesting the Lorde concert.

    “We realized that it wasn’t so much about antagonizing them but sending out the countered safe that we are here for people who need that message and need that positivity” Megan Coleman, who helped make the sign, said according to Kansas’ KSHB.

    The message didn’t get across to all Westboro members.

    “I don’t even know what they’re saying,” Westboro Baptist Chuch member Steve Drain said.

    Here’s a basic rule of thumb:

    The foundation of morality is anthropology mediated through empathy.

    Morality = the ability to make non-harmful choices.

    Anthropology = the study of what it means to be human and your place in such.

    Empathy = the ability to feel what another feels and respond to such.

    In other words: You become good when you are aware of your commonality and belongingness with all other people and that awareness is then activated by feeling what another is feeling such that you take steps to offer what you would desire for yourself in the other’s place.

    However, when people believe they are evil, they, by definition, cease to trust that their humanity is any longer worth listening to. And, the logical next step is to replace their humanity and empathy with a religious code as the new guide to life — believing that the following of the rules will make them less evil.

    As soon as a person’s humanity and empathy is replaced with a religious code of law, we discover what Paul was getting at in Romans 7: We discover that men and women of the code will use even the most perfect rules as nothing more then a starting point to search for loopholes — or worse. In such they become utterly ugly and out of touch with even basic decency. We discover that Me + the code = chaos.

    The above referenced Mr. Drain is a classic example of this. He has so much contempt for himself he bought into a code of law as a means of living — so much so that he is no longer even able to understand someone showing compassion for him, much less show compassion to others…

    He’s so perfectly following his code he has become the definition of evil: Empathy free and personally heartless.

    Paul answered this problem the best in verse 4:

    For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.

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  • What happens when you just let children play.
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    National Post

    He didn’t start asking “why? until he became part of a playground and risk study by Auckland University researcher Grant Schofield and his research manager, Julia McPhee, three years ago. The researchers gave 16 schools a grant of $15,000 to build their vision of a playground that would reintroduce risk and help encourage physical activity in children.

    “It hadn’t occurred to me that anyone would actually abandon all school rules,? Prof. Schofield said.

    Mr. McLachlan built a few play structures, but they were dismantled as part of a larger building project (he claims they’ll be resurrected somehow once the project is done). As the debris sat cordoned off with caution tape in the middle of the schoolyard, he noticed students ducking underneath, grabbing chunks of wood and metal and building their own toys.

    While the caretaker and some teachers worried, Mr. McLachlan was energized to see them building makeshift seasaws and dismantling them once they got bored.

    About a year ago, Mr. McLachlan quietly informed his staff that they would all just stop saying “No? when they saw a child climbing a tree or a fence, or walking toward an area that used to be “out of bounds? and no longer was. There would be no big announcement, just a silent backing away.

    While many parents seemed to be on board with the new approach — the school is, after all, known for its more alternative approach — teachers were a harder sell.

    “I told them, ‘If this child gets seriously hurt, I’m the one that gets blamed,’? he said. “Some of them said ‘right.’?

    But the results spoke for themselves, he said. The students weren’t hurting themselves — in fact, they were so busy and physically active at recess that they returned to the classroom ready to learn. They came back vibrant and motivated, not agitated or annoyed.

    “They also weren’t telling tales on each other or going ‘So and so did this to me,’ which is what teachers deal with during recess time,? he said. “There was none of that — these kids have been totally focused on what they wanted to do.?

    This article speaks for itself.

    Apparently children have not changed since we were allowed to run free in the woods, shoot BB guns, build life threatening forts high in the trees and do other stuff so risky terrorism task forces would today consider us to be risks to national security.

    They still survive…

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  • Why you can keep your Chocolate addiction…
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    Design Trend

    “We found that there are two kinds of microbes in the gut: the good ones and the bad ones,” Maria Moore, an undergraduate student and one of the study authors, said in a news release.

    “The good microbes, such as Bifidobacterium and lactic acid bacteria, feast on chocolate,” Moore added. “When you eat dark chocolate, they grow and ferment it, producing compounds that are anti-inflammatory.”

    Study leader John Finley, a professor in LSU’s department of food science, said, “When these compounds are absorbed by the body, they lessen the inflammation of cardiovascular tissue, reducing the long-term risk of stroke.”

    Finley said he believes this is the first study of its kind to study dark chocolate’s effects on different types of bacteria in the stomach.

    The researchers found that people who eat dark chocolate with solid fruits such as pomegranates and acai can gain even greater health benefits.

    Piece after piece of research has been piling up of late regarding how much of even mental health starts in digestive bacteria. Now, it appears that even arterial health is under the same heading.

    Just in case you needed one more excuse to eat chocolate…

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  • The end is nigh — no, really…
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    “Even using an optimal depletion rate and starting with a very small number of Elites, the solution appears to be on a sustainable path for quite a long time, then Elites grow and consume too much, resulting in a famine among Commoners that eventually causes the collapse of society,” it says. According to one model run during the research, there is a total collapse of society just 125 years after the elites reach their maximum size.

    So the end will come, according to the study, not from running out of resources but from greed, pure and simple. Hear that, 1 Percent?

    Actually, they probably didn’t hear that. The report, which was penned in 2012, but recently accepted into the peer-reviewed scientific journal Ecological Economics, points out that the elites are typically blissfully unaware of society’s eminent demise. It says that “historical collapses were allowed to occur by Elites who appear to be oblivious to the catastrophic trajectory (most clearly apparent in the Roman and Mayan cases).”

    As in every good sci-fi flick, all hope is not lost. The study authors say that “collapse can be avoided and population can reach equilibrium if the per capita rate of depletion of nature is reduced to a sustainable level, and if resources are distributed in a reasonably equitable fashion.”

    Ah, so that’s all it will take. A sudden change of heart among the elites to distribute their wealth amongst the rest of us, and people to stop using natural resources like free lives in a video game. Better start hoarding bottled water and batteries now.

    Well, the good news is that almost all of the disease, warfare, zombie and terminator style paranoid fantasies of the end are never gonna happen.

    The bad news: Yes, society is likely to collapse — but only your great grandchildren will likely see it.

    And the worse news: It’s not even going to make a good movie. The 1% will simply take it all until there is nothing left.

    Something our politicians may want to take note of now — at least those who are not already bought and paid for…

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