Dr. Helen

Dr. Helen

Becoming a Supple Leopard

June 17th, 2015 - 4:16 pm

I am currently reading the new edition of Becoming a Supple Leopard 2nd Edition: The Ultimate Guide to Resolving Pain, Preventing Injury, and Optimizing Athletic Performance and I must say, it is a pretty amazing book if you have pain from the computer or sitting. For those of you who don’t know the book, it was written by Dr. Kelly Starrett, a coach and physiotherapist who teaches humans how to move in more functional ways. If you are looking for a workout, just picking up the book will provide that as it is huge and is 480 pages of amazing information complete with pictures of various movements along with tests to see how your body measures up.

It would make a great coffee table book or just a great all around gift if you need something for Father’s Day. Or if, like me, you are more of a pained jackal than a supple leopard, the book might provide some help in resolving some of the toll modern living has taken on your posture and health. I hope to post more on the book as I read more.

I read the headline over at the Washington Post (via Newsalert) and I can’t say I was surprised:

The average American woman weighs 166.2 pounds, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As reddit recently pointed out, that’s almost exactly as much as the average American man weighed in the early 1960s.

Men, you’re not looking too hot in this scenario either. Over the same time period you gained nearly 30 pounds, from 166.3 in the 60s to 195.5 today. Doing the same comparison as above, today’s American man weighs almost as much as 1.5 American women from the 1960s. At 195.5 pounds, put five American guys in a room and you’ve gathered roughly half a ton of manhood.

Overall weight gain since 1960 is slightly greater for women (18.5 percent) than for men (17.6 percent). And both sexes have gained roughly an inch in height over the same period, which accounts for some of that weight gain.

Maybe the weight is seen as unsightly by some, but on average, those who are overweight but not obese might be healthier. I imagine it matters how much one weighs in proportion to height and if the person is active and healthy vs. overweight and sedentary. I must admit that at five foot six, if I weighed 166, I would be a mess. Unfortunately (or fortunately?), I can’t carry that kind of weight but some women can.

Also read: 

Is Obesity a Disease or a Moral Failing?

The Nation is Not Your Extended Family

June 13th, 2015 - 7:10 am

I thought about this as I read a new book from the Fraser Institute called The Essential Hayek. The book shares the ideas of Friedrich A. Hayek in a simple to read short book:

Nobel laureate economist F.A.Hayek first revolutionized economists’ understanding of markets, and then profoundly challenged the public’s understanding of government. Hayek is one of only a few social scientists over the past 200 years who thoroughly rethought the relationship between individual people and both the market and the state. While countless works have discussed the importance of Hayek and his ideas, none have focused on making his core ideas accessible to average people. This volume highlights and explains Hayek’s basic insights in plain language to ensure that his critical ideas about the nature of society are both accessible and enduring.

In Chapter 9 on “The challenge of living successfully in modern society,” the author, Donald J.Boudreaux shares Hayek’s wisdom on the problems with treating the greater society like our extended family:

Part of our present difficulty is that we must constantly adjust our lives, our thoughts and our emotions, in order to live simultaneously within the different kinds of orders according to different rules. If we were to apply the unmodified, uncurbed, rules of the micro-cosmos (i.e. of the small band or troop, or of, say, our families) to the macro-cosmos (our wider civilisation), as our instincts and sentimental yearnings often make us wish to do, we would destroy it. Yet if we were always to apply the rules of the extended order to our more intimate groupings, we would crush them. So we must learn to live in two sorts of world at once.

The book points out that for those that we know, love and care for, it makes sense to make economic decisions not commercially, but by mutual agreement or with mom or dad making decisions. However, this works because the people involved know each other and can figure out what approach works best (unless dysfunctional which is also common these days). But the same cannot be said of strangers; we do not know what is best for other people we don’t know. In this case, it is best to follow impersonal rules with “arms length” exchanges and contracts.

“These exchanges and contracts give rise to market prices. These prices, in turn, guide each of us to act productively–both as consumers and as producers–with the increasingly large numbers of strangers who make our modern lives possible.”

As the media and government focus on making strangers personal friends and focus on “doing something” to relieve the suffering, it can often be a mistake. These practices can be counterproductive and lead to negative outcomes such as people and thus, the country becoming less productive over time.

Nowadays, over 50 percent of the population wants stuff for free as they relax on their parent’s couch and eat potato chips. But “a government big enough to give you everything you want, is a government big enough to take away everything that you have.” It’s just a matter of time. Hayek knew this and he will be forever relevant.

Women Who Shave

June 10th, 2015 - 9:56 am

The NYT‘s has a story on the large number of women who shave their faces:

Kate Somerville, a celebrity facialist whose long list of Hollywood clients includes Jessica Alba and Debra Messing, has a beauty secret that many women would prefer to keep secret.

At least once a week, she lathers up with her own brand of face wash and, using a Gillette Mach3, the men’s razor, proceeds to shave her face. Ms. Somerville, who is in her 40s, has sworn by this routine since her 20s.

“I hate to say this, but personally I get hairs above my upper lip, and have forever,” Ms. Somerville said, adding that waxing irritates her sensitive skin. “Initially I did it because of the hair, but then I noticed that it was a great exfoliant and that my makeup went on a lot better.”

Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor shaved their faces, according to Ms. Somerville, who said that an aesthetician who worked with them told her. She declined to reveal which of her celebrity clients shave their faces, but said that she recommends it widely and that many comply.

Michelle Money, who appeared on “The Bachelor,” made a YouTube video about shaving her face. “I don’t care who you are, ladies, you have hair on your face,” she says in the video, which has had more than 251,000 views. “Men don’t like it. Get rid of it.”

Ms. Money even recommends a razor for women that has a single blade at Amazon called The Tinkle Razor that is supposed to get rid of peach fuzz on the face.

At first I was a bit taken aback that any woman was owning up to shaving her face, but I was more astonished that a woman actually admitted to giving a shit about what men think. Sure, it’s just facial hair, but it’s a start. Kudos to her.

That is what a Japanese virgin stated in an article at Yahoo News:

A 2010 survey by the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research found that around a quarter of unmarried Japanese men in their 30s were still virgins — even leading to the coining of a specific term, “yaramiso”, to describe them.

The figure was up around three percentage points from a similar survey in 1992.

The period corresponds with Japan’s prolonged economic slowdown, after a stock and asset bubble burst and the one-time financial powerhouse suffered years of lacklustre growth.

Matchmaking expert Yoko Itamoto says the economic emasculation has taken its toll on Japan’s men, as more of them struggle to find secure, full-time jobs.

The men in the article do seem sad and down about their situation and some are attending a program called Virgin Academia to teach them more about sexuality and women. However, is not getting the real thing harmful? I don’t know.

What do you think? Is being a virgin fatal or not?

Also read: 

Ask Dr. Helen: The 47-Year-Old Virgin

Factual Feminist

June 8th, 2015 - 3:43 pm

Christina Hoff Sommer’s Factual Feminist: “Violent patriarchies exist. The U.S. does not happen to be one:”

Is Living Alone Bad for Your Health?

June 5th, 2015 - 10:19 am

I have wondered this for many years, from the time I was in grad school where one of my seminar classes focused on whether or not man was really a social animal. In this article on “The Downside of Living Alone”, the author points out that those living alone has increased:

As Rose M. Kreider and Jonathan Vespa have documented in a new working paper they presented at the latest annual meeting of the Population Association of America, the percent of Americans living alone rose from a miniscule 1.9 in 1910 up to 13.7 in 2010. During the same period, the percent living with relatives rose and then fell, while the percent living only with nonrelatives did the opposite, as Kreider and Vespa’s below figure illustrates. (The category “living with nonrelatives only” has changed quite a bit, they explain: it once meant living as a boarder, renter, or employee in another family’s home, while today it most commonly refers to living with an unmarried partner.)…

The increasing popularity of living alone among young and old alike is also tied to a growing economy and increasing standard of living—both happy trends. The trend as a whole is not unambiguously positive, however: Living alone and the related phenomena of loneliness and social isolation are associated with an increased risk of mortality. Indeed, several researchers have found in recent years that they can pose as much of a threat to health as smoking and obesity. Scholars commonly study those risk factors, and resources for quitting tobacco and controlling one’s weight abound. Isolation and loneliness, on the other hand, are seldom mentioned by health professionals, and few know that they take a physical as well as a psychological toll on those who experience them. Jessica Olien at Slate and Alan Jacobs at The American Conservative have argued that loneliness is not just rarely discussed but actually stigmatized today. You can tell people you’re trying to stay on a diet or quit smoking, whereas most of us would hesitate to volunteer that we’re feeling lonely, whether to a doctor or a friend.

I suppose that the reasons people live alone lead them to be happy or not so happy being an only in an apartment or house. If you are older and your spouse died, it may be difficult. However, if you are young and single and can afford living alone in NYC, it may be fine. In this article on singles in NYC, context is key:

Given how many New Yorkers live alone—in Manhattan, 25.6 percent of households are married, whereas the national average is 49.7—one would think we’d be at an increased risk for practically all these conditions. But Cacioppo points out that loneliness isn’t about objective matters, like whether we live alone. It’s about subjective matters, like whether we feel alone. To determine how satisfied people feel with their relationships, research psychologists generally rely on a twenty-question survey called the UCLA Loneliness Scale, which breaks down our connections into three groups: intimate (whether we have a partner), relational (friends), and collective (church, colleagues, baseball teams, etc.)…

The results of these surveys have crucial—and positive—consequences for urban environments. Loneliness, it turns out, is relative. Widows are likely to feel better in a community with more widows (Boca Raton, Florida, say) than a community with only a few single elderly women. And singles are likely to feel better in a town with more singles … like New York. It’s true that marriage is still the best demographic predictor of loneliness. But Cacioppo stresses it’s a very loose predictor. People can have satisfying connections in other ways, after all, and people in bad marriages might as well be on their own: Cacioppo’s latest study, based on a sample of 225 people in the Chicago area, shows that those in unhappy marriages are no less lonely than single people, and might even be more so. Nor do rotten marriages do much for your health.

So if loneliness is relative, it seems fitting that living alone could make one happy and living with others could make one miserable or vice versa, depending on how the person views his or situation. To say that everyone living alone is at risk for poor health, etc. is a mistake. Context matters.

“I doubt it,” I thought, as I read this story from the NYT‘s on female Viagra entitled ‘Viagra for Women’ Gets Push for F.D.A. Approval:”

Is sexual desire a human right? And are women entitled to a little pink pill to help them feel it?

Those questions are being raised in a campaign that is pressing the Food and Drug Administration to approve a pill aimed at restoring lost libido in women. The campaign, backed by the drug’s developer and some women’s groups, accuses the F.D.A. of gender bias for approving Viagra and 25 other drugs to help men have sex, but none for women.

“Women have waited long enough,” the effort, known as Even the Score, says in an online petition that has gathered more than 40,000 signatures. “In 2015, gender equality should be the standard when it comes to access to treatments for sexual dysfunction.”…

“I don’t think there is anything sexist about denying approval for drugs that don’t have an adequate risk-to-benefit ratio,” said Thea Cacchioni, an assistant professor of women’s studies at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, who is writing a book about the issue called “Big Pharma, Women, and the Labor of Love…”

Dr. Goldstein said it was gender bias to categorize male sexual dysfunction as a simple physical problem and women’s as complex, psychological and unamenable to drugs. He noted that antidepressants that increase the level of serotonin in the brain can have a side effect of decreasing libido. Flibanserin does the opposite — transiently decreasing serotonin while raising levels of two other neurotransmitters, dopamine and norepinephrine.

Susan Scanlan, chairwoman of Even the Score, said the side effects of flibanserin, like sleepiness and dizziness, were not so serious. By contrast, she said, Viagra and some other drugs for men can cause blindness, penile rupture and other serious side effects.

“The implication is that men can be trusted to make a rational decision of risk versus reward and women can’t,” she said.

Is the FDA oversight discrimination against women? It could be the opposite. It could be that no one cares much about men’s health and they are expendable so side effects in men, who cares? Or It could be that Viagra is now more effective for men and worth the risk whereas for women, the risk ratio is higher. And if you want to talk discrimination, why is there no male birth control pill?

One Million Views

May 31st, 2015 - 5:38 am

I was surprised to see that my movie “Six” has over one million views on Youtube.

Are Women without Kids Failures?

May 28th, 2015 - 6:34 am

Vox Day at Alpha Game Blog had this to say:

Most of the mothers I know used to proudly declare they never wanted to have children. Not some of them, not many of them, MOST of them. That is why the correct response to a young woman declaring that she doesn’t want to have children is to laugh at her, because bearing children is the prime raison d’etre for every woman. The woman who fails to do so is, quite literally, a failure as a human being.

I don’t think men who have no children are “failures,” nor do I think women who have no children are “failures.” I think that people make choices in life that are right or seem right for them at the time. People are autonomous beings who may or may not want children. While I agree that our culture is a negative one that often mistakenly tells women to go only for careers and other pursuits rather than have children, I do think there are some women who do not want them. This choice may be wrong for some but not for all.

I had a friend in college who didn’t want kids. She is happy today many years later without them. That is her choice. It should be everyone’s to decide what is right for their own life. To call that a failure for that decision seems extreme. What are your thoughts? Should men or women without kids be said to be “failures”?

Update: Vox Day responds.