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Helen Smith

Helen Smith is a psychologist specializing in forensic issues in Knoxville, Tennessee, and blogs at Dr. Helen.
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How Men Commit Suicide in England

Sunday, February 15th, 2015 - by Helen Smith

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I am on an email list and received a link to an article in Newsweek called “The Trouble with Men: Why Men Kill Themselves.” Naturally the title has to have a troubling or negative title, it’s about men. The article is about the high suicide rate in the UK and states: “Suicides of men aged 45-59 have risen by 40% in a decade, and account for a quarter of all suicides in the UK.”

There is a graph pointing out that a majority of men (and a number of women) in the UK die by suffocation or hanging: 58% of male suicides and 36% of female suicides use this method. We always hear that it is the proliferation of guns that causes much of the male suicide in the U.S. — but if the guns are the problem, why is there also a high incidence of male suicide in the UK but the method is just different?

*****

Cross-posted from Dr. Helen, image illustration via shutterstock / 

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Could Strangers Diagnose Your Illness Better Than A Doctor?

Wednesday, February 11th, 2015 - by Helen Smith

Apparently, many Americans would trust strangers more to make a medical diagnosis than a doctor according to the email I was sent today by a site called CrowdMed:

According to a recent study by CrowdMed [www.crowdmed.com (http://www.crowdmed.com/)] — a groundbreaking medical website that helps “crowdsource” solutions to the country’s most difficult medical mysteries — nearly one in five Americans (19%) has had to wait at least six months for a doctor to accurately diagnose a family member’s mysterious medical condition.

But what if you can’t wait that long? If you had a medical condition that baffled your doctor, would you be willing to get suggestions from perfect strangers?

According to the CrowdMed Medical Trust Census — a survey of 1,500 Americans on their attitudes toward traditional and nontraditional medical diagnosis — the vast majority of U.S. patients are interested in consulting others who are not necessarily practicing doctors. Noteworthy findings include:

>> 73% of Americans would trust a NURSE to suggest a diagnosis
>> 74% would trust an ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE PRACTITIONER
>> 84% would trust a RETIRED DOCTOR
>> 87% would trust a FORMER PATIENT WITH RELATED SYMPTOMS
>> 62% would trust a MEDICAL STUDENT

According to the site, you fill out a questionnaire and “collaborate With Medical Detectives” and then receive a report which includes the top diagnostic suggestions and solutions from the community. Given the problems with our healthcare system these days, it might be quicker to make a stop at this site than wait for ObamaCare to come through….

*****

Cross-posted from Dr. Helen

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Porn? Playstation? ‘Pain-In-The-Ass’ Dates? What Are the REAL Reasons Millennial Men Aren’t Marrying?

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015 - by Helen Smith

I was in LA last month and stopped by the PJTV studios to do a roundtable discussion on Millennial men and marriage:

Dr. Helen Smith, author of Men on Strike discusses the state of the young American male with PJTV’s Andrew Klavan, Bill Whittle and Matt Orr. Are men shunning marriage because of the economy, or do they have alternatives to marriage, like porn and easy sex? Could it be that women simply giving-up on the hopes of having a relationship with the current pool of men in America? Hear the answers.

Or maybe American men have given up hope on the current pool of women in America: as one of the panelists notes, “Dating is a pain in the ass.” Here is our discussion:

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Cross-posted from Dr. Helen

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How Can Students Fight Back Against Oppressive Schools?

Monday, February 9th, 2015 - by Helen Smith

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I was happy and pleased to see at NetGalley that a new book focusing on how to fight back at school had been released called The Student Resistance Handbook. I was intrigued and ordered it after taking a look at the Amazon description:

The Student Resistance Handbook provides children with information on how they can effectively fight back against their school and work towards abolishing this abusive and oppressive institution. Legal non-violent tactics are presented that are designed to: disrupt the operation of school, substantially increase the costs involved in its operation, and make those who work for and support schools as miserable as they make the students who are forced to attend. The text was conceived to empower youth to struggle against the helplessness, passivity, and despair that schools were designed to instill. John F. Kennedy accurately claimed that “learning without liberty is always in vain.” This Handbook provides students with tools to fight for their liberty in order to attain a real education.

There was also an excerpt that looked good:

If you are looking to be warehoused in a more comfortable prison, this book is not for you. If you think getting a longer break for lunch or recess is a meaningful concession, this book is not for you. If you think better food in the lunchroom, more respectful teachers, and the end of standardized testing is what victory looks like, this book is not for you. There are no demands that can be issued or met short of ending the tyranny of compulsory schooling. If teachers or administrators want to reach out and negotiate with you, it will be based on a lie.They will only want to negotiate the terms of your surrender. Victory is when no one has to go to school and there are no consequences to not going. Given the rise of viable alternatives to school, this endgame is not completely far-fetched.

The book definitely looks worth a read, I look forward to getting my copy!

*****
Cross-posted from Dr. Helen

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Here’s How to Handle a ‘Friend’ Who Hates Men

Friday, February 6th, 2015 - by Helen Smith

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I received an email from an academic who was dismayed to learn that a female friend who is a professor believes that all men are rapists. He wrote to ask for my help in how to cope (I have abbreviated and changed some of the wording for privacy) :

Dr. Helen,

I am in an online group of professors and academics and a female professor who I am friends with posted on an internet meme about “Teaching Men Not to Rape.” The gist of this document was something along the lines of :

1. Don’t put drugs in women’s drinks.

2. When you see a woman walking by herself, leave her alone.

3. If you pull over to help a woman whose car has broken down, remember not to rape her.

4. If you are in an elevator and a woman gets in, don’t rape her.

5. When you encounter a woman who is asleep, the safest course of action is to not rape her.

6. Never creep into a woman’s home through an unlocked door or window, or spring out at her from between parked cars, or rape her.

I linked to articles to try and give her information on the rape statistics and how most men are decent guys but her response was that she gets near men in public and feels that they could overcome her physically.

Do you have any advice on how to deal with this kind of stuff for fathers, fathers who are professors, and folks who would like to be able to take this stuff on at work without risking losing their job? Any thoughts would be appreciated.

My response to this reader was:

You are too kind. You are trying to engage in an intellectual discussion where there is none. These ideas are based on what makes women feel good and give the Uncle Tims of the world a chance to strut their stuff by playing along with the game in the hopes of accolades. I think the disconnect here for you is “how can you engage with such a person?” How do you deal with someone who thinks you and your son are rapists while being a “friend” to you. Whether she is a parent or not matters none. Many nasty people who hate men have sons. The goal here is to let “friends” or colleagues know that their prejudices may have consequences. How do you do that?

It sounds like you tried to use logic but you were not satisfied with the results of her response. One way to fight back is by using their own words against them. How about this:

“I can’t believe someone with your open-mindedness would buy into this propaganda. Your open expression of such views as a professor may make male students feel uncomfortable producing a hostile learning environment for male students. I am sure that 50 years ago there were women who were afraid to be in a crowd of African Americans but we didn’t design our society to accommodate their prejudices. You need to think about whether it is fair or legal to stereotype a whole group of people based on gender.”

She will go onto deny profusely that this is not the case and maybe call you a “rape apologist.” Response? Was Atticus Finch a rape apologist?

Anyway, you get the idea. Use their own progressive ideas against them and often that will shut them down by using a bunch of Title IX rhetoric.

Helen Smith

Dear readers, do you have some more tips for our distressed dad on how to deal with a “friend” or colleague who thinks all men are rapists?

****

Cross-posted from Dr. Helen, image illustration via shutterstock / 

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Women Who Stalk: A Form of Personal Growth?

Thursday, February 5th, 2015 - by Helen Smith

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I read a story at the checkout counter at Earthfare from Psychology Today on women who stalk and thought it might interest readers. Unfortunately, there is only a portion of the story available online:

The lovesick who cannot eat or sleep are legion. Many go so far as to harass and stalk the lover who spurned them. And more often than one might realize, the stalkers are women.

Patricia*, a graphic designer and visual artist, was married and had a 9-year-old son when she began an affair with a man whom she refers to as Wolf. Lone-spirited and rugged, Wolf lived in a converted tack house on a ranch outside of San Francisco and seemed to be everything her corporate husband was not.

The affair lasted over a year. Wolf pressured her to leave her husband, but she refused. Yet when Wolf told Patricia he didn’t want to see her anymore, she wouldn’t accept it. She would go to the marina where his sailboat was docked and wait for him. She wrote fragments of Edna St. Vincent Millay poems in nail polish on the boat’s beautiful wood: I know what my heart is like / Since your love died. She also stole things from the boat, including a sail. “I became a predator,” she says. “I wanted to catch his scent so I could feel near him.”…

Pursuers may tell themselves that their stalking is a form of love or courtship, Sinclair allows, but that’s “just like how we once talked about a rapist as the guy who is overwhelmed with passion.” Today we have a similar myth about stalking. “People think it’s about being so in love, you’re not able to control yourself,” she explains. “But you’re driven by retaliation and obsession rather than love and idealization. Once you’re aggressive, you’re not idealizing, you’re not in love. All that’s left is the obsession.”

Stalking is mostly seen as a crime against women, and for good reason. According to a 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence survey, three times more women than men have been stalked. That still means there are plenty of male stalking victims. In fact, one in 19 men have been stalked, and about half reported that their stalkers were female. The definition of criminal stalking varies from state to state, but the three main criteria for the crime are repeated, unwanted, and intrusive behaviors; implicit or explicit threats; and causing fear. The study surveyed self-identified victims and was based on a definition of stalking as behavior that led them to feel very fearful.

The author of this piece, Lisa Phillips, has a book out called Unrequited: Women and Romantic Obsession in which she describes her own experience as a stalker:

The summer Lisa A. Phillips turned thirty, she fell in love with someone who didn’t return her feelings. She soon became obsessed. She followed him around, called him compulsively, and talked about him endlessly. One desperate morning, after she snuck into his apartment building, he picked up a baseball bat to protect himself and began to dial 911. Her unrequited love had changed her from a sane, conscientious college teacher and radio reporter into someone she barely recognized—someone who was taking her yearning much too far.

In Unrequited, Phillips explores the tremendous force of obsessive love in women’s lives. She argues that it needs to be understood, respected, and channeled for personal growth—….

Really? So when a woman is a predator, her behavior is to be understood, and channeled for personal growth. When a man is a predator, he goes to jail. Even if he is innocent (but suspected) there are often consequences, as the campus rape panic shows all too well. Phillips points out that this stalking behavior in women is quite common. Why is it so acceptable in our society? Why do we allow men to be followed and abused?

Women tend to destroy property when they stalk — what makes this okay? Women destroying men’s property is so popular, there is even a Hardee’s commercial about it. A guy has three girlfriends so they destroy his car, writing “Cheater” on it. Can you imagine a woman dating three guys who vandalize her car and write “Whore” across it? Watch the video and imagine the genders reversed:

*****

Cross-posted from Dr. Helen, image illustration via shutterstock / 

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Will Legal Zoom Level the Playing Field for Men?

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015 - by Helen Smith

I thought about this question as I read an advance copy of Law Professor Ben Barton’s new book Glass Half Full: The Decline and Rebirth of the Legal Profession. The book describes how technology can help make law more accessible to middle class consumers:

Modern technology can now handle routine legal tasks like drafting incorporation papers and wills, reducing the need to hire lawyers; tort reform and other regulations on litigation have had the same effect. As in all areas of today’s economy, there are some big winners; the rest struggle to find work, or decide to leave the field altogether, which leaves fewer options for consumers who cannot afford to pay for Big Law.

It would be easy to look at these enormous challenges and see only a bleak future, but Ben Barton instead sees cause for optimism. Taking the long view, from the legal Wild West of the mid-nineteenth century to the post-lawyer bubble society of the future, he offers a close analysis of the legal market to predict how lawyerly creativity and entrepreneurialism can save the profession. In every seemingly negative development, there is an upside. The trend towards depressed wages and computerized legal work is good for middle class consumers who have not been able to afford a lawyer for years.

The book discusses how sites like Legal Zoom make law more accessible to people. At Legal Zoom, they even handle divorce, though the site mainly seems to handle those divorces that are uncontested for the low fee of $299.00 but if you have more complex questions and needs, you can get help from a lawyer for “an affordable price.” Barton noted in the book that it is not that easy for low income people to get help from Legal Aid in a divorce unless there are domestic violence issues. But face it, how many men are going to be referred to legal aid for a pro bono lawyer due to domestic violence? Very few, is the way to bet.

I wonder if technology and entrepreneurialism will help men to gain equal footing in divorce and custody proceedings as law becomes more accessible through these legal sites? Right now, men with little income have no where to turn whereas the VAWA, and legal aid through the government are more likely to help women with free legal help. Technology and some creativity may just level the playing field for men who need legal help and don’t have the means to pay a lot for it. I hope these sites continue to grow and hire the excess of lawyers who may do well serving the under-served population of men who do not have equal access under the law.

******

Cross-posted from Dr. Helen

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The Surprising Reason Why More Americans Are Committing Suicide…

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015 - by Helen Smith

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Interesting article in The Economist (thanks Terry) on suicide:

BEING depressed is like having a terrible headache, says one Atlanta businessman. Except that a few days of rest do not stop the pain: “You’re just expected to keep going.” Trying to “man up”, he sought little help for his condition, choosing to hide it instead. “It all gets so debilitating that you don’t want to go on,” he explains.

He tried to kill himself more than once; fortunately, his attempts came to nothing. But the same cannot be said for a growing share of Americans. The suicide rate has risen from 11 per 100,000 people in 2005 to 13 seven years later. In the time it takes you to read this article, six Americans will try to kill themselves; in another ten minutes one will succeed.

Over 40,000 Americans took their own lives in 2012—more than died in car crashes—says the American Association of Suicidology. Mondays in May see the most incidents. The rates are highest in Wyoming and Montana, perhaps because guns—which are more effective than pills—are so common there (see chart). Nationally, guns are used in half of all successful suicides….

Activists say the government does too little to prevent suicide. Christine Moutier of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention complains that only $40m of federal funding will go to anti-suicide programmes this year. This does not include the billions the government spends on mental-health problems more broadly.

I think the following comment to the article is probably on target about the lack of focus on suicide:

“If suicide doesn’t get enough attention, it’s because it’s mostly men committing it.”

The article points out that women are more willing to ask for help. Could it be that the help available for men is not exactly the most welcoming kind? When the counseling programs focus their courses on “diversity” in grad schools, men’s issues should be a top priority. Not the kind of PC crap that these programs often focus on in men’s studies, such as how to relieve men of their masculinity and make them more like defective girls, but rather training real professionals to deal with, and address, the true discrimination and problems that men face today with regards to work (or lack thereof), marriage, relationships and other male topics. Maybe that would be a start.

*****

Cross-posted from Dr. Helen

image illustration via shutterstock /  

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You’ll Be Shocked At How Many Are on Government Disability for Mental Problems…

Thursday, January 29th, 2015 - by Helen Smith

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1 in 3 on Disability Have Mental Disorder; 42.9% in D.C. From the article:

CNSNews.com) – One in three, or 35.2 percent, of people getting federal disability insurance benefits have been diagnosed with a mental disorder, according to the latest data from the Social Security Administration (SSA).

Washington, D.C., the seat of the federal government, ranked in the top-ten list of states where disabled beneficiaries were diagnosed with mental problems.

In 2013, the latest data from SSA show there were 10,228,364 disabled beneficiaries, up 139,625 from 2012 when there were 10,088,739 disabled beneficiaries.

Disabled beneficiaries have increased 49.7 percent from a decade ago in 2003 when there were 6,830,714 beneficiaries; and the number is up 14.3 percent from the 8,945,376 beneficiaries in 2009, the year President Obama took office.

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Cross-posted from Dr. Helen, image illustration via shutterstock / 

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How Many People Hear Voices ‘Regularly’?

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015 - by Helen Smith

I can’t decide if this is troubling or decent advice: “The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back:”

Research suggests that up to one in 25 people hears voices regularly and that up to 40 per cent of the population will hear voices at some point in their lives. But many live healthy and fulfilling lives despite those aural spectres.

Recently, Waddingham and more than 200 other voice-hearers from around the world gathered in Thessaloniki, Greece, for the sixth annual World Hearing Voices Congress, organised by Intervoice, an international network of people who hear voices and their supporters. They reject the traditional idea that the voices are a symptom of mental illness. They recast voices as meaningful, albeit unusual, experiences, and believe that potential problems lie not in the voices themselves but in a person’s relationship with them.

“If people believe their voices are omnipotent and can harm and control them, then they are less likely to cope and more likely to end up as psychiatric patients,” says Eugenie Georgaca, a senior lecturer at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and the organiser of this year’s conference. “If they have explanations of voices that allow them to deal with them better, that is a first step toward learning to live with them.”

The road to this form of recovery often begins in small support groups run by the worldwide Hearing Voices Network (HVN). Founded in the Netherlands in 1987, it allows members to share their stories and coping mechanisms – for example, setting appointments to talk with the voices, so that the voice-hearer can function without distraction the rest of the day – and above all gives voice-hearers a sense of community, as people rather than patients.

Here are The basic assumptions of INTERVOICE from their website:

Hearing voices is a normal though unusual and personal variation of human experience.
Hearing voices makes sense in relation to personal life experiences.
The problem is not hearing voices but the difficulty to cope with the experience.
People who hear voices can cope with these experiences by accepting and owning their voices.
A positive attitude by society and its members towards people hearing voices increases acceptance of voices and people who hear voices. Discrimination and excluding of people hearing voices must stop.

I am leaning towards troubling….

*****

cross-posted from Dr. Helen

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Learn These Secrets on How to Survive Aggressive People

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015 - by Helen Smith

From the description:

Whether an aggressor is a seasoned predator or an irate individual, hostility is almost always preceded by warning signs–if we know what to look for. Surviving Aggressive People dissects the psychology of aggression. It exposes the subtle cues of impending violence and offers timeless methods for transforming a potential disaster into a peaceful victory. Using time-tested methods for conflict management and crisis intervention, this book offers persuasion and peacemaking skills that historically have been reserved for law enforcement, psychologists, and other professionals working the front lines of emotionally charged situations. In today’s world, these skills are a must for everyone. Newly updated, with a special appendix for healthcare workers, the enduring knowledge in Surviving Aggressive People can help deter hostility before it spins out of control. It might even save your life.

The book has some good advice that I have used myself on occasion. For example, the golden rule of violence prevention is “an adversary is less dangerous when he perceives you as similar to himself.” Smith gives some tips on how to reduce this “psychological distance”: Use humor, and employ politeness as a preemptive strike. When I used to see clients for disability claims, some would be angry and distrustful when they walked through the door. I stocked the fridge with Pepsi, Mountain Dew and other drinks that people seemed to like and when someone got upset, I would say, “Would you like a Pepsi or Mountain Dew? Then we can talk about your concerns.” It made people feel welcome and as if they were in a safe environment. I guess the caffeine wasn’t always the best idea but “would you like bottled water or caffeine-free herbal tea?” didn’t have the same ring to it and sounded haughty.

Anyway, you get the idea. The book is full of these helpful hints that may help you to reduce your chance of being a victim of violence and provides a framework for how to avoid it. I recommend the sections for healthcare workers on how to respond to neuro-behavioral aggression. It is surprising how few of them get training on how to respond when a patient gets aggressive. This book will help.

******
Cross-posted from Dr. Helen

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The War Against ‘ManSpreading’

Tuesday, January 6th, 2015 - by Helen Smith

As if NYC doesn’t have enough to worry about, a campaign is underway to curb manspreading:

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — If you take the subway, bus or train, you’ve probably seen men who take up more than just their seat.

As CBS2’s Vladimir Duthiers reported, the issues is now the focus of a new MTA campaign.

Sitting on a crowded subway can be a lesson in sharing. Each person is allotted 17.5 inches — the width of an average seat.

But for some, that’s simply not enough.

So what is “manspreading?”

“Manspreading is when men take up too much room on the subway by spreading their legs in a wide V. Like geese traveling,” explained actress Kelley Rae O’Donnell.

O’Donnell has become an anti-manspreading activist, making stopping the spread a personal mission.

“I guess you would call it subway shaming? It’s what my friends accuse me doing,” she said.

So, if it’s okay to subway shame men, is it okay to slut-shame women? Slut shaming is “defined by many as a process in which women are attacked for their transgression of accepted codes of sexual conduct.” So now men are attacked. Why is one form of sexism okay and the other not? And don’t give me the crap about the patriarchy. If you shame men in this way, you are a nasty sexist who deserves contempt.

The commenters to the manspread article seem to get this:

“P3n1$ envy” says one commenter and another states: “MY BODY MY CHOICE. What happened to that concept? feminazis targeting white males only GUARANTEED” and another one states: “Right…because you never see women with 5 bags/purses and set them all on the seat beside them as an excuse to not let people sit there. Just the men who are wrong, right?”

Right, the war on men is alive and well in NYC.

****

Cross-posted from Dr. Helen

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Is Pornography the Cause or the Effect of Men on Strike?‏

Monday, December 22nd, 2014 - by Helen Smith

This is a question sent by a reader in response to a recent study saying that pornography is keeping men from marrying. From the Washington Examiner article on the topic:

Pornography is replacing the desire among young men for marriage, according to a new study that finds males are chasing “low-cost sexual gratification” on the web over a wife and family.

“Traditionally, one of the reasons to enter into a marriage was sexual gratification. But as options for sexual gratification outside of marriage have grown, the need for a marriage to serve this function is diminishing,” said the report.

The report published by Germany’s Institute for the Study of Labor and co-authored by a West Chester University of Pennsylvania professor suggested that the government crack down on porn access, especially as more and easier tools to tap into the Internet, such as smartphones, expand. Saving marriage, said the report, will help the economy and society….

Researchers analyzed data from 1,512 surveys completed by American men aged 18-35 between 2000-2004. What they found is that porn use makes marriage unappealing. The study is titled: “Are Pornography and Marriage Substitutes for Young Men?”

The researchers were interested in how declining marriage rates impact society and the economy. They said that “stable marriages create substantial welfare improvements for society, especially to the degree that marital stability produces high-quality children.”

I think that Vox Day answered this question quite well in my book a while back:

The “strike” theory is generally correct, I think. The problem is that games and porn are entertaining, inexpensive, easily accessible, and reliable. Women can be entertaining, but they’re expensive, inaccessible for most men, and from the male perspective, shockingly unreliable. I would say that porn has raised the bar somewhat—it’s bound to be seriously annoying when Little Miss Real Life won’t give head when Jane Pornstar is twice as hot and is cheerfully performing all sorts of acrobatic stunts. And if you think about it, is a real woman who is average and only wants to have missionary-style sex once a week, minus a week for her period, actually any better than a wide variety of gorgeous porn stars catering to every bizarre fetish the Japanese can imagine and available on demand? It’s not quite so clear once you put it in those terms. The biggest communication problem is that most women see “relationship” as a positive thing. Most men see it as an ambiguous thing. So, when the selling point of Little Miss Real Life over Jane Pornstar is “relationship,” you can see where it’s not going to be very appealing. I don’t think there’s much of a “fuck you” element, though. The guys who think that way tend to be the players, particularly the Sigma players. A lot of the guys who opt out aren’t particularly angry at women, they just don’t see much point to pursuing involvement with them.

So, to answer the reader’s question — is pornography the cause or the effect of men on strike? — I would have to lean towards the latter, that is: porn and video games and other avenues are where men go to retreat and find satisfaction from a society and culture of women and their supporters who tell straight men that they are no good, pathetic, unable to measure up and might even be rapists.

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Why Did So Many People Fall for the UVA Gang Rape Story?

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014 - by Helen Smith

Christina Hoff Sommers emails: “Latest episode of the Factual Feminist. Topic: The UVA gang-rape story–Why did so many otherwise sensible people take it seriously?”

*****

Cross-posted from Dr. Helen’s blog

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Will You Get Dumped Because of Your Gift?

Thursday, December 11th, 2014 - by Helen Smith

Apparently so, according to this article at Today.com:

One of this year’s hot Christmas sellers will almost certainly be the Samsung Galaxy S5. Forty-two percent of shoppers think stores will have shortages of the popular smartphone this Christmas, according to a survey released Wednesday by big data firm 1010data. But before you run out to buy one for your significant other, you’d better be sure it’s what she wants.

The nationwide survey also found that most Americans have gotten the cold shoulder, silent treatment, or worse from their significant others as a result of giving an unwanted holiday gift (even if it was because the ideal gift they wanted was unavailable or out of stock).
The Samsung Galaxy S5 will likely be one of the year’s top gifts. But before you buy it for your significant other, make sure it’s what he or she want…

The Samsung Galaxy S5 will likely be one of the year’s top gifts. But before you buy it for your significant other, make sure it’s what he or she wants.

Just over half of the 1,004 respondents said the recipient argued, cried, complained—or even ended the relationship—after getting the gift. The remaining 48 percent listed “other” open-ended negative responses, including: “demanded a refund,” “slight disappointment they try not to show outwardly,” and “took it back and exchanged it for what she wanted.”

…..Still, you may want to not wait any longer if you’re looking for a popular product. Or you may risk spending New Year’s alone.

Note the “horrible” ending to purchasing the wrong gift: YOU MAY RISK SPENDING NEW YEAR’S ALONE. Really? Wouldn’t it be better to be alone than stuck with the ingrate who would dump you or cry over a gift? Maybe gifts should be used as a weeding process: if your partner cries over the gift or argues with you about it, it’s time to move on; and if she dumps you, count your blessings and find someone who prizes you more than a Samsung Galaxy S5.

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The New Sexodus

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014 - by Helen Smith

Milo Yiannopoulos at Breitbart.com explores (in a second segment) why men are on strike:

But although the sexodus, a new retreat into solitude by Western males, has a different flavour to it and dramatically different aetiology from previously observed social crises, many characteristics are identical. And what’s troubling about men throwing in the towel in both East and West is the rapidity with which the malaise is spreading across entire generations, fuelled not just by sexual dissatisfaction but also the economic and educational pressures felt by so many young boys.

He makes some good points, someone should write a book about this.

*****

Cross-posted from Dr. Helen

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Are America’s Law Graduates Really Getting Dumber?

Thursday, November 20th, 2014 - by Helen Smith

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Bloomberg Businessweek has an interesting article about why so many law graduates are failing the bar exam this year (via Newsalert):

The most recent bar exam test results are in, and they are ugly. In several states, people who took the bar in July were more likely to fail than those who took it last year, and scores on one portion of the test dropped to their lowest point in 10 years.

Are America’s law graduates really getting dumber? The people who put together the bar exam seem to think so.

The National Conference of Bar Examiners, a nonprofit that prepares one of the state-specific multiple-choice sections in which scores dropped dramatically, sent a curt message to law school deans in October. “The results are correct,” wrote Erica Moeser, the group’s president, in an Oct. 23 memo. “The group that sat in July 2014 was less able than the group that sat in July 2013,”…

As fewer people apply to law school, many programs have accepted less-qualified applicants in order to keep class sizes the same and to sustain their bottom line, says Derek Muller, a law professor at Pepperdine University. “This drop, while bigger than expected, is just a sign for what’s going to come for law schools as the incoming classes continue to decline in quality.”

Letting people in who are not qualified seems unfair to the students who invest so much time and then fail the exam. And what about the quality of the lawyers coming out? Is it compromised in terms of practice?

******

Cross-posted from Dr. Helen, image illustration via shutterstock /  

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Learning Israel-Style Self-Defense and Practical Fighting Skills

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014 - by Helen Smith

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I am re-reading the book Krav Maga: How to Defend Yourself Against Armed Assault as I went back to a private lesson last week. I took Krav Maga lessons about six years ago and decided that I needed a refresher course. For those of you who do not know what Krav Maga is, from the book I mentioned:

Krav Maga is today’s cutting edge self-defense and hand to hand combat system. Initially developed by Grandmaster Imi Sde-Or (Lichtenfeld) for the Israel Defense Forces and other national security services, Krav Maga has been thoroughly adapted to meet civilan needs. The method was designed so that ordinary citizens, young and old, men and women alike, can successfully use it, regardless of their physical strength. This is the first and only authorized comprehensive manual on the Krav Maga discipline, written by its founder, Imi Sde-Or, and his senior disciple and follower, Eyal Yanilove. This volume especially focuses on the various facets of dealing with an assailant armed with a sharp-edged weapon, a blunt object, or a firearm.

One of the tips the book mentions is to avoid injury. Apparently, I can’t follow that rule as I came home with a boxer’s contusion on my right hand. I remember when I took Taekwondo, I broke my fingers twice. I was in grad school at the time and decided it wasn’t worth risking not being able to write and left the classes after three years (the karate classes, not the grad school, though the risk of getting an expensive degree that wouldn’t pan out was certainly up for debate).

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Men on Strike Coming Soon in Paperback

Thursday, November 6th, 2014 - by Helen Smith

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Men on Strike has a new cover and preface and is coming out in paperback soon. Thanks to everyone who bought the book and made it successful enough to come out in paperback.

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Cross-posted from Dr. Helen

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People Treat Me Like an Adult and I’m Too Polite to Correct Them

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014 - by Helen Smith

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I was reading Dalrock’s blog and saw a post from a mom blog about a woman who is upset because she is treated by others like a child:

When I was a little girl, adults would often brush aside my viewpoint or do things for me because of my age. I couldn’t wait to grow up and take control over my own life. Fast forward a couple decades later. I’m a mom in my 30′s, but I still find myself being treated like a child by other adults and I can’t figure out how to stop it from happening without being rude.

I should start by saying that I’m not a particularly small or helpless person. Sure, I’m 5’4″ in sneakers, but I’ve always been athletic and loud, by no means a shrinking violet. My peers have never felt the need to baby me, in fact, when I was in college and on vacation with my sorority sisters, they once told me that in the event of a burglary, I was the one they would turn to for protection and a plan of attack. But those older than me treat me like I wander through life with my shoes untied and a teddy bear dangling from one arm, and I can’t seem to get them to stop.

The author of the piece goes on to complain that people do too much for her and provide with help and assistance:

Bosses have refused to let me walk a city block alone at night to the parking garage, even though my coworkers go without being questioned. I’ve been passed over for assignments involving incarcerated individuals lest I get hurt and given assistance I didn’t ask for with boxes or files. Whenever I have voice my distaste for being treated like I’m an incompetent toddler, people get offended and tell me they are just trying to be nice, and I feel like an evil witch.

I have always had the opposite problem. People have always treated me like adult as long as I can remember. I am not that tall or large –around five foot six and 120 pounds, but people always think I am taller and much larger than I am. I have rarely been given assistance for much, walked alone in NYC without so much as an escort, and usually was the one people asked for help, not the other way around. I have worked with incarcerated individuals for years and lifted my own boxes and files without assistance (unless I asked my wonderful husband!). In short, I have been treated as a competent adult for most of my life–and maybe it’s because I acted like one or maybe it has to do with one’s facial appearance or a combination of physical and psychological attributes.

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Is Marriage Worth Saving?

Saturday, November 1st, 2014 - by Helen Smith

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The American Enterprise Institute has a new study that looks at the benefits of marriage:

This study documents five key findings about the relationships between family patterns and economic well-being in America.

The retreat from marriage—a retreat that has been concentrated among lower-income Americans—plays a key role in the changing economic fortunes of American family life. We estimate that the growth in median income of families with children would be 44 percent higher if the United States enjoyed 1980 levels of married parenthood today. Further, at least 32 percent of the growth in family-income inequality since 1979 among families with children and 37 percent of the decline in men’s employment rates during that time can be linked to the decreasing number of Americans who form and maintain stable, married families.

Growing up with both parents (in an intact family) is strongly associated with more education, work, and income among today’s young men and women. Young men and women from intact families enjoy an annual “intact-family premium” that amounts to $6,500 and $4,700, respectively, over the incomes of their peers from single-parent families.

Men obtain a substantial “marriage premium” and women bear no marriage penalty in their individual incomes, and both men and women enjoy substantially higher family incomes, compared to peers with otherwise similar characteristics. For instance, men enjoy a marriage premium of at least $15,900 per year in their individual income compared to their single peers.

The study announces some public policy changes to encourage marriage, such as launching a national campaign to pursue school, work, marriage and parenthood, in that order; doing away with the marriage penalty; adding childcare credits; improving vocational programs; and expanding the maximum earned income tax credit for single, childless adults to $1,000, increasing their marriageability.

The study seems to miss the point: marriage is a liability for men (and for some women, though the law is on their side). The extra income might be nice, but when it gets you stuck with extra child support, alimony or just plain half your stuff taken away, what’s the point of making the extra dough?

Public policy should include making the marriage arena a more fair and equitable place for men. How about doing away with or reducing alimony, giving more equal access to children, making more fair domestic violence laws, doing away with jail time in child support cases and making them more fair, and providing at least some civic education for men and boys on their limited rights so they can make an informed decision?

But the real question is, is marriage worth saving?

More from Dr. Helen: 

On Men and Catcalling

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Cross-posted from Dr. Helen, image illustration via shutterstock / alphaspirit

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Video: What Do Critics of GamerGate Get Wrong?

Thursday, October 30th, 2014 - by Helen Smith

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Cross-posted from Dr. Helen

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How Adam Smith’s Ideas Can Make You Happier

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014 - by Helen Smith

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I am reading Russ Robert’s new book How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life: An Unexpected Guide to Human Nature and Happiness and it is quite informative. Roberts is an economist at the Hoover Institution at Stanford and he delved into Smith’s less famous book to gain insight into life and human nature and shares it with readers in simple, straightforward style:

Adam Smith may have become the patron saint of capitalism after he penned his most famous work, The Wealth of Nations. But few people know that when it came to the behavior of individuals—the way we perceive ourselves, the way we treat others, and the decisions we make in pursuit of happiness—the Scottish philosopher had just as much to say. He developed his ideas on human nature in an epic, sprawling work titled The Theory of Moral Sentiments.

Most economists have never read it, and for most of his life, Russ Roberts was no exception. But when he finally picked up the book by the founder of his field, he realized he’d stumbled upon what might be the greatest self-help book that almost no one has read.

In How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life, Roberts examines Smith’s forgotten masterpiece, and finds a treasure trove of timeless, practical wisdom. Smith’s insights into human nature are just as relevant today as they were three hundred years ago. What does it take to be truly happy? Should we pursue fame and fortune or the respect of our friends and family? How can we make the world a better place? Smith’s unexpected answers, framed within the rich context of current events, literature, history, and pop culture, are at once profound, counterintuitive, and highly entertaining.

By reinvigorating Smith’s neglected classic, Roberts provides us with an invaluable look at human behavior through the lens of one of history’s greatest minds.

I was most interested in the sections on being “loved and being lovely.” Smith says “Man naturally desires, not only to be loved, but to be lovely.” The author interprets this quote as “Smith means that we want people to like us, respect us, and care about us and take us seriously. We want them to want our presence, to enjoy our company.”

Smith also says that we dread being hated and hateful. Perhaps this explains why people are so afraid when it comes to politics. If you have the wrong political bent these days, you are seen as hateful and hated. Most people don’t seem to be able to tolerate being hated. Being hated is no fun, but pretending to go along with the PC crowd that is ruining our country has to be worse. Smith believes that true happiness comes when we earn the admiration of others honestly “by being respectable, honorable, blameless, generous, and kind.”

Yet how can you be those things in a society that does not value these traits? Our society rewards extroversion, hypocrisy, political correctness at all costs, and phony fads. How can one be genuine, authentic, and truly kind in today’s world? To do so is often to be hated, something Smith says that we dread. Is being hated that awful? Maybe we need people in this society who are strong enough to be hated in order to make significant positive changes in politics and society.

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Crossposted from Dr. Helen

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‘It Is Impossible to Overstate the Growing Weirdness of the College Sex Scene.’

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014 - by Helen Smith

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Heather Mac Donald has an article at the Weekly Standard on campus sexual assault:

Sexual liberation is having a nervous breakdown on college campuses. Conservatives should be cheering on its collapse; instead they sometimes sound as if they want to administer the victim smelling salts.

It is impossible to overstate the growing weirdness of the college sex scene. Campus feminists are reimporting selective portions of a traditional sexual code that they have long scorned, in the name of ending what they preposterously call an epidemic of campus rape. They are once again making males the guardians of female safety and are portraying females as fainting, helpless victims of the untrammeled male libido. They are demanding that college administrators write highly technical rules for sex and aggressively enforce them, 50 years after the proponents of sexual liberation insisted that college adults stop policing student sexual behavior. While the campus feminists are not yet calling for an assistant dean to be present at their drunken couplings, they have created the next best thing: the opportunity to replay every grope and caress before a tribunal of voyeuristic administrators.

The ultimate result of the feminists’ crusade may be the same as if they were explicitly calling for a return to sexual modesty: a sharp decrease in casual, drunken sex. There is no downside to this development.

As I read over the article, I thought about an episode of the Fresh Prince that I was watching last night. Will Smith was at college working in the bookstore and hitting on every female student that he saw. At one point, he blocked the door to a classroom so a good-looking woman could not get in as he tried to get her to go out with him. He didn’t take no for an answer and he was relentless even once they entered the classroom until the woman’s huge boyfriend picked him up, chair and all and moved him to the back of the room.

Nowadays, the girl could easily turn Smith into the college administration for “discipline.” If he had sex with her, he could be charged with assault or worse. Of course, it’s Will Smith and he’s cute and women will give him a pass. But what about the less cute, successful guy? What will these “Victorian” laws do to him?

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Cross-posted from Dr. Helen, image via here

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