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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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‘The Majority of Service Members Who Are Sexually Assaulted Each Year Are Men…’

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013 - by Helen Smith

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The New York Times (Hat Tip: James Taranto):

But in a debate that has focused largely on women, this fact is often overlooked: the majority of service members who are sexually assaulted each year are men.

In its latest report on sexual assault, the Pentagon estimated that 26,000 service members experienced unwanted sexual contact in 2012, up from 19,000 in 2010. Of those cases, the Pentagon says, 53 percent involved attacks on men, mostly by other men.

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image courtesy shutterstock /  for you design

Cross-posted from Dr. Helen

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Men On Strike at the Wall Street Journal

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013 - by Helen Smith

I talk with host Mary Kissel at the WSJ about my new book, why men are boycotting marriage and why men can’t speak out.

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Crossposted from Dr. Helen’s Blog

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‘Fathers Haven’t the Same Sentimental Appeal That Mothers Have.’

Monday, June 17th, 2013 - by Helen Smith

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I was researching Father’s Day and saw that it was Richard Nixon who made it a federal holiday:

The campaign to celebrate the nation’s fathers did not meet with the same enthusiasm–perhaps because, as one florist explained, “fathers haven’t the same sentimental appeal that mothers have.” On July 5, 1908, a West Virginia church sponsored the nation’s first event explicitly in honor of fathers, a Sunday sermon in memory of the 362 men who had died in the previous December’s explosions at the Fairmont Coal Company mines in Monongah, but it was a one-time commemoration and not an annual holiday. The next year, a Spokane, Washington woman named Sonora Smart Dodd, one of six children raised by a widower, tried to establish an official equivalent to Mother’s Day for male parents. She went to local churches, the YMCA, shopkeepers and government officials to drum up support for her idea, and she was successful: Washington State celebrated the nation’s first statewide Father’s Day on July 19, 1910….

In 1972, in the middle of a hard-fought presidential re-election campaign, Richard Nixon signed a proclamation making Father’s Day a federal holiday at last. Today, economists estimate that Americans spend more than $1 billion each year on Father’s Day gifts.

It seems to me that with all that fathers do for our country, it is the least that can be done. Fathers are important, just like mothers and it is unfair to pretend that they are not.

So Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there.

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Cross-posted from Dr. Helen

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Is a Man Doomed to Be Labeled ‘Immature’ No Matter What?

Saturday, June 15th, 2013 - by Helen Smith

The Telegraph has an article stating that men mature 11 years later than women and are 43 before they start acting respectable(!), according to this study (via Newsalert):

A study into the differences in maturity between genders revealed both men and women agree men remain ‘immature’ well into their late 30s and early 40s.

But the average age at which women mature emerged as 32.

Alarmingly, eight out of ten women believe that men ‘never stop being childish’ – with breaking wind, burping, eating fast food in the early hours and playing videogames their biggest bug-bears.

Staying silent during arguments, not being able to cook simple meals and re-telling the same old jokes and stories when with the lads were also hailed as signs of immaturity…

One quarter of women felt they were the ones made all the important decisions in the relationship with the same percentage wishing their partner would talk about themselves and what they’re feeling more often.

So, whatever men do is viewed as “immature,” even by the men themselves. Everything that men do is seen as immature; women’s behavior is viewed as mature. Silent during an argument? Immature. Yell, confront, and raise a man’s blood pressure? Mature. It’s very easy to play this game. Men are not displaying the behavior that women want; that’s always immature.

I wonder what would happen if the men truly opened up and started really talking about themselves and how they truly feel, not just how women say they should feel. Do you really think women would view this as mature? I would love to be a fly on the wall to watch that happen.

*****

Cross-posted from Dr. Helen

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The Sexual Harassment Industry

Thursday, June 6th, 2013 - by Helen Smith

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Over at Minding the Campus, Peter Wood writes an important article called “Sexual Harassment–The Feds Go Way Too Far”:

The DOJ/OCR Montana letter is a grab for power. To that extent, it is self-explaining. Opposing sexual harassment is a profession and, to some extent, an industry. The self-interest of the people who make their living opposing sexual harassment lies on the side of lower standards of evidence, broader definitions, and minimization of obstacles to new regulations. Regulatory self-aggrandizement is not a mystery, though it is usually mysterious to the regulators themselves who have a level of difficulty in apprehending their own motives akin to that of anorexics attempting to form an accurate picture of their bodies.

But empire building is only part of the story. The Montana letter is a step in the long progression of feminism towards a surveillance society. Fifteen years ago Daphne Patai in her book Heterophobia: Sexual Harassment and the Future of Feminism diagnosed feminism’s effort to write “a new chapter in the dystopian tradition of surveillance and unfreedom.” Patai saw the coming emphasis on “transparency, whereby one’s every gesture, every thought, is exposed to the judgment of one’s fellow citizens.” OCR is of course far from this level of intrusiveness, but not in spirit.

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Cross-posted from Dr. Helen

Image courtesy shutterstock / Camilo Torres

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‘Mating Preferences, After All, Are Driven Not Only By Attraction But By Attainability.’

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013 - by Helen Smith

James Taranto at Best of the Web: “Rich Woman, Poor Man: Why do female breadwinners tend to have unhappy marriages?”:

Why are men averse to higher-income women? Perhaps because they understand that women are averse to lower-income men. Mating preferences, after all, are driven not only by attraction but by attainability. In theory all men should be attracted to supermodels; in practice few would have the confidence to ask one out.

If, as Mundy suggests, female breadwinners find it a “struggle” to remain attracted to their husbands, then avoiding such a marriage seems a wise defensive move for a man. If the evolutionary psychologists are right, it’s a relatively easy one to make, since a woman’s earning power would not exert much emotional or sexual pull on a man.

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Cross-posted from Dr. Helen 

image courtesy shutterstock /  Andresr

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In Today’s America, the ‘Evolved’ Man Is the Metrosexual

Friday, May 24th, 2013 - by Helen Smith

Samsung says men are idiots

Over at MSN, in the “Men’s Department,” an article cutely has a caption asking if a commercial portraying men as dirty, unkept imbeciles is sexist:

Television maker Samsung is taking heat over a new commercial portraying men as dirty, unkempt, flatulent couch potatoes.

In the new ad for Samsung Smart TV’s Evolution Kit called “Evolutionary Husband?” posted May 14 on YouTube, a woman daydreams about plugging in the Evolution Kit into her man, who then becomes an “evolved,” multitasking marvel – caring for the baby while simultaneously making breakfast, painting, decorating a cake and watering a plant.

Her daydream is brought to an abrupt closure by a loud emission of flatulence from said husband — who remains the same dirty, zombie-like caveman who appears to have not left the couch in several days.

“Samsung TV is an Evolutionary TV,” says the message on the ad.

The man in the commercial is acting like a woman; that is how one becomes “evolved” in our screwed-up society. The only man worth dealing with is a metro-sexual. It’s no wonder men no longer want to get married as often.

Watch video on next page.

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8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back

Sunday, May 12th, 2013 - by Helen Smith

I was reading Drudge and saw that he and other intense internet users were enlisting the help of Esther Gokhale, author of 8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back: Natural Posture Solutions for Pain in the Back, Neck, Shoulder, Hip, Knee, and Foot:

Mr. Drudge is one of thousands of people who have trained with Esther Gokhale, a posture guru in Silicon Valley. She believes that people suffer from pain and dysfunction because they have forgotten how to use their bodies. It’s not the act of sitting for long periods that causes us pain, she says, it’s the way we position ourselves….

Mr. Drudge read Ms. Gokhale’s book, “8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back,” before training with her in person. “I needed her touch, her observations and her humanity,” he said.

I read and reviewed this book several years ago and it has really helped with computer-related pain:

I tried some of the exercises in the book which show how to sit, stand, bend and walk correctly and was pleasantly surprised that they seemed to ease some of the stiffness of the computer. The exercises with bands (that I already had in the house) were most helpful and stretched my legs out and felt great! I very much recommend the book if you spend too much time on the computer. If nothing else, the photography and illustrations make this book worthwhile on their own.

And if these methods work for Matt Drudge with his sitting up to 17 hours a day, maybe they will work for the rest of us.

Cross-posted at Dr. Helen.

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Is 25 the New 15?

Saturday, April 27th, 2013 - by Helen Smith

That’s the question asked in the 1st chapter of a book I am reading called Escaping the Endless Adolescence: How We Can Help Our Teenagers Grow Up Before They Grow Old. From the description:

Do you sometimes wonder how your teen is ever going to survive on his or her own as an adult? Does your high school junior seem oblivious to the challenges that lie ahead? Does your academically successful nineteen-year-old still expect you to “just take care of” even the most basic life tasks?

Welcome to the stunted world of the Endless Adolescence. Recent studies show that today’s teenagers are more anxious and stressed and less independent and motivated to grow up than ever before. Twenty-five is rapidly becoming the new fifteen for a generation suffering from a debilitating “failure to launch.” Now two preeminent clinical psychologists tell us why and chart a groundbreaking escape route for teens and parents.

Drawing on their extensive research and practice, Joseph Allen and Claudia Worrell Allen show that most teen problems are not hardwired into teens’ brains and hormones but grow instead out of a “Nurture Paradox” in which our efforts to support our teens by shielding them from the growth-spurring rigors and rewards of the adult world have backfired badly. With compelling examples and practical and profound suggestions, the authors outline a novel approach for producing dramatic leaps forward in teen maturity, including:

• Turn Consumers into Contributors Help teens experience adult maturity–its bumps and its joys–through the right kind of employment or volunteer activity.
• Feed Them with Feedback Let teens see and hear how the larger world perceives them. Shielding them from criticism–constructive or otherwise–will only leave them unequipped to deal with it when they get to the “real world.”
• Provide Adult Connections Even though they’ll deny it, teens desperately need to interact with adults (including parents) on a more mature level–and such interaction will help them blossom!
• Stretch the Teen Envelope Do fewer things for teens that they can do for themselves, and give them tasks just beyond their current level of competence and comfort.

The authors point out that even young people who appear to be succeeding by conventional standards wake up in their mid-twenties clueless about how to find a job, manage money, cook, or live on their own. They are educated but unable to care for themselves. “Twenty-five is now becoming the new fifteen.”

According to the authors, teens are living in a “bubble” that is undermining their development. They have their room at home, school, the shopping mall etc. but it,

“cuts them off from meaningful roles in the adult world, cuts them off from close day-to-day contact with adults, and it hyperexposes them to peer relationships, which become their primary socializing influences.”

The last chapter of the book points out that the staples of the Adulthood Diet are Challenge and Feedback. Teens don’t get much of it in their lives. We have done away with competition (too masculine, I suppose) and real-world feedback (kids need high self-esteem!) and therefore they never learn to master the larger world.

The book instructs parents and adults in how to teach kids to grow up and be an adult in today’s modern world. That’s no small feat. But better late than never because twenty-five should never be the new fifteen.

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Cross-posted from Dr. Helen’s Blog

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Men on Strike Now Available for Pre-order

Friday, April 19th, 2013 - by Helen Smith

My book, Men on Strike: Why Men Are Boycotting Marriage, Fatherhood, and the American Dream – and Why It Matters is now available for pre-order.

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Will 3D Printing Transform your Life?

Sunday, March 10th, 2013 - by Helen Smith

That is the question sought to be answered by the new book Fabricated: The New World of 3D Printing by Hod Lipson and Melba Kurman, who discuss the pros and cons of a 3D world where we could possibly have a machine that could make everything. The authors state “[in] the not-so-distant future, people will 3D print living tissue, nutritionally calibrated food, and ready-made, fully assembled electronic components.”

The book looks at the history of 3D printing and how it came about and from there, the chapters discuss everything from what these machines can make to the legal difficulties that will follow from the technology. From the Backcover:

Businesses will be liberated from the tyrannies of economies of scale
Factories and global supply chains will shrink, finding themselves closer to their customers
The law, already reeling from digital media, will once again need to be redefined
Our environment might breathe easier in a 3D printed economy, or it could choke on a rising tide of plastic
3D printed digital and intelligent, adaptive materials will change our relationship with the physical world

What do you think of 3D technology: Is it the next best thing or will we choke on a rising tide of plastic?

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Queen Bees: ‘Their Assaults Harm Careers and Leave No Fingerprints’

Sunday, March 3rd, 2013 - by Helen Smith


A reader sent me this WSJ article entitled “The Tyranny of the Queen Bee”:

Women who reached positions of power were supposed to be mentors to those who followed—but something is amiss in the professional sisterhood….

A 2007 survey of 1,000 American workers released by the San Francisco-based Employment Law Alliance found that 45% of respondents had been bullied at the office—verbal abuse, job sabotage, misuse of authority, deliberate destruction of relationships—and that 40% of the reported bullies were women. In 2010, the Workplace Bullying Institute, a national education and advocacy group, reported that female bullies directed their hostilities toward other women 80% of the time—up 9% since 2007. Male bullies, by contrast, were generally equal-opportunity tormentors.

A 2011 survey of 1,000 working women by the American Management Association found that 95% of them believed they were undermined by another woman at some point in their careers. According to a 2008 University of Toronto study of nearly 1,800 U.S. employees, women working under female supervisors reported more symptoms of physical and psychological stress than did those working under male supervisors.

The article points out that Queen Bees often assault careers in ways that leave “no fingerprints.” I find this interesting; I think that men are more direct in their tactics, often women tend to be more manipulative so that they do not have to take responsibility for their actions and can deny or disown them. And their victims barely know what hit them. Men’s directness is easier to spot and criticize, women’s tactics, not so much. It is more difficult to “prove.”

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Cross-posted at Dr. Helen.

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The Single Women Transforming America’s Cultural Landscape

Monday, February 4th, 2013 - by Helen Smith

Women are driving the demand for the rental market according to this CNBC article:

In fact, even as housing and the greater economy improve, a shift in demographic trends will likely favor the rental apartment market for the foreseeable future. It is all about women….

“What drives demand for single family homes is, ‘Oh honey, I’m pregnant,” says Buck Horne, a housing analyst at Raymond James.

But those words are being uttered less and less. Horne claims the shift in female education, marriage and fertility rates will drive rental apartment demand going forward. He points to a growing educational imbalance, that is, 3.1 million more women enrolled in college than men and 4 million more college-educated women in the workforce than men.

“That creates a structural imbalance in the number of suitable partners. Women leave college with good income prospects and are not finding suitable husbands and fathers,” says Horne.

Consequently, the millennial generation is delaying marriage and motherhood, and birth and fertility rates are dropping. The female fertility rate is at its lowest level in recorded U.S. history, according to the Centers for Disease Control/Raymond James research. 41 percent of children are born out of wedlock. Horne’s research finds single mothers prefer living closer in to cities and staying in full amenity apartment rentals. This all points to more structural, long-term demand for rental housing.

Though this article is concerned about the impact of renters on the long term structure on the housing market, my main concern is the impact of single women and mothers on the structure of our culture and government. Will they demand a “full amenity” government just as they do a full amenity apartment rental?

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image courtesy shutterstock / Rob Hainer

Cross-posted from Dr. Helen

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Changing Light Bulbs Can Be Empowering

Monday, February 4th, 2013 - by Helen Smith

I hate all the empowering stuff that feminists always go on about: “empowering” women in education, the workplace and the military etc. Usually when I hear the word “empowerered,” I think of a group that sees themselves as weak but wants the government or others to place them in a privileged position to obtain goodies or special rights that men are not entitled to. If one truly has power, they do not use the word empowered in every sentence. That said, I do like feeling “empowered” around the house when I can take care of simple household repairs without asking my busy husband to help me with general stuff, for example, changing light bulbs in high places. And if my “empowerment” helps my husband, so much the better.

My husband, Glenn, was nice enough to order me two different kinds of light bulb changers in order to see which one worked better. I have always used the Unger 3pc Light Bulb Changerkit and been very happy with it. It comes with a long-handled pole that allows you to change flood lights or regular bulbs easily in hard to reach places.

He also bought me this Bayco Light Bulb Changer Kit so I could compare the two. I have to say I was unimpressed with this brand. The changer comes with a suction cup you attach a string to to allow you to pull it away from the bulb easily. I ended up pulling it and breaking the bulb and then the string fell out.  If you are more skilled than me at figuring these things out, it might be okay but I found the Unger kit easier to use and the two mechanisms for changing the bulbs were simple, popped in and out and no string was necessary. I have to say I felt like a real handyman (woman) going around the house fixing all the lights and making sure they were all in working order.

So, whether you are male or female, I recommend the Unger Changerkit.  It can really make your life easier and give you a sense of “empowerment” if that is what you’re looking for.  Me, I’m just trying to give my husband time to do more important things.

Also read: 

7 Types of Dudes Who Annoy Everyone Just By Their Very Existence

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Lollipops and Colored Pencils of Death?

Thursday, January 24th, 2013 - by Helen Smith

I was traveling today on a plane and picked up the US Airways magazine where I read an interesting article by Ken Jennings on his book Because I Said So!: The Truth Behind the Myths, Tales, and Warnings Every Generation Passes Down to Its Kids.

The gist of the article was that many of the things parents tell kids are not necessarily true (though some are). One example he gave was when parents tell kids not to run with a lollipop in their mouth. It turns out that few kids ever get injured by running with a lollipop in his or her mouth. It was so interesting that I looked up the author’s website to find out more and found the following things that parents tell kids:

“Don’t cross your eyes or they’ll stay like that!”

“Feed a cold, starve a fever!”

“Don’t touch your Halloween candy until we get it checked out!”

“Never run with scissors.”

“Don’t look in the microwave while it’s running!”

“This will go down on your permanent record.”

Is any of it true? If so, how true?

I felt very comforted to know that kids running with lollipops was not a terribly dangerous act but then I had the misfortune to see this headline at MSNBC: “Girl survives pencil through eye and into brain.” It turns out a 20 month old was running with a colored pencil and fell on it and it went through her eye. It’s easy to think that a lot of the things parents tell their kid are just myths to keep kids from doing dumb things, but maybe there is a reason for it! Kids do a lot of dumb things.

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More on parenting at PJ Lifestyle:

The 5 Best Christmas Movie Fathers

What to Expect When You’re Expecting (Your College Kid Home for Christmas)

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Why I Will Never Work For Google

Sunday, January 13th, 2013 - by Helen Smith

So there are many reasons that I would never work for Google, but one of them, I discovered, is that there is no way I could answer the questions at the job interview. I read this article about the most outrageous job interview questions, became intrigued and picked up a copy of a book we received in the mail called Guesstimation 2.0: Solving Today’s Problems on the Back of a Napkin. The book gives simple and effective techniques needed to estimate virtually anything quickly.  Some of the questions that Google asks at job interviews are  “How many gold balls can fit in a school bus?” or “How many piano tuners are there in the whole world?”

According to the book, if you can answer questions like these you will be more attractive to companies like Google because it shows that “you are a flexible thinker, are willing to attack imprecise questions, and can apply your knowledge to real-world questions.” What the author calls “simple” estimates looked to me to be simple only to someone well-versed in physics for the most part but as I read through his examples of how to compute estimates, some of it made sense, some of it didn’t.  Good thing I’m self-employed.

What is the strangest question you have been asked at a job interview? How did you answer it?

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Trigger Point Therapy for Relieving Computer Pain

Monday, January 7th, 2013 - by Helen Smith

I am always in pursuit of something to relieve my neck and shoulder pain from the hours I spend at the computer (yeah, I could just stay off but then how would I fill the empty days without my vice?). Anyway, my husband, Glenn, ordered this trigger point foam roller called The Grid. I already have a regular foam roller but it is large and has lost its shape. I decided to give the new foam roller a try this week and it has been a positive experience so far.

The Grid boasts using trigger therapy to treat soreness and relieve pain:

Trigger points are tiny knots that develop in a muscle when it’s injured or overworked, and are commonly a cause of most joint point. They’ve been known to lead to headaches, neck and jaw pain, lower back pain, tennis elbow, and carpal tunnel syndrome.

Based on the discoveries of Drs. Janet Travell and David Simons, in which they found the causal relationship between chronic pain and its source, myofascial trigger point therapy is used to relieve muscular pain through stretching and applied pressure to trigger points. Trigger point therapy, such as that achieved using Trigger Point Performance products, can relieve muscular aches and pains in association with these areas. It can also assist with the redevelopment of muscles and restoration of motion to joints.

The foam roller comes with a very easy to use instruction pull-out that shows you basic exercises with correct form. I went through the set and it hits every muscle group. I’m already back at the computer and feeling better. If you have computer pain or just general tightness from sitting, this little device seems to be a good one. It’s also small and easy to take on trips, to the gym or the office. Of course, staying off the computer and moving around is probably a better solution to neck pain but not likely to happen for me.

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Related on Self-Improvement at PJ Lifestyle:

7 New Year’s Resolutions I Invite Others to Steal

13 Weeks: Week Nine — In Which We See Results

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TV Be Gone

Sunday, December 23rd, 2012 - by Helen Smith

Have you noticed that everywhere you go now there is a blaring television with the most disturbing news blasting in your ears? I have, and it’s getting really tiresome. I can understand that a sports bar or pub would have a TV for sports or something (though with the PC stuff some of the sportscasters spout on ESPN etc., I sometimes think I am watching the news), but why at every regular restaurant or even just in a store or doctor’s office do I continually have to watch the mayhem and anxiety-producing news that I am going out to escape? Apparently I’m not alone, as others around the web have noticed the trend in recent years. For example, a writer in South Carolina states:

One of my favorite lunch spots in Anderson has a giant flat-screen in the dining room. I hate it, but I love their pizza. So I keep going there. The television is always tuned to a 24-hour news channel. And the volume is loud. So while we diners polish off our pepperoni, we get to hear about a body being unearthed from a serial killer’s basement in Iowa. Or we’re treated to footage of wildfire consuming houses in California. I tell you: It’s not good for the digestion.

A website called the Eater had this to say about TVs in restaurants:

There are a few different ways to consider the TV dilemma, of course, and the first question is: why are restaurants doing this? According to The Dallas Morning News, this trend is brought to you courtesy of “the wired generation,” i.e. young people: “This is a very, very visual demographic…If they’re not watching TV, [they] are on their iPhones.” The goal, then, is to keep your eyes up and moving around the restaurant. Despite the terribly flattering picture this paints of today’s youth, it does make some sense from the point of view of the restaurateur.

And it’s not just restaurants, it’s doctor’s offices, stores, planes, and everywhere the public goes. Even my gym is inundated with TVs that show one catastrophe after the next. I thought people were watching less TV, but maybe this is at home where they have the choice. Or are people just turning to other gadgets and devices to give them something to do constantly? Is it too much to ask just to be able to sit quietly, ride the treadmill without the mayhem, or just read or stare into space in a public place? Apparently so. I often think about getting one of those TV-B-Gone remote controls that allow me to turn those darn things off. They give me a headache.

Am I the only person left in America who doesn’t want a running negative news report everywhere I go?

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Even Women Prefer Lower Voices in Authority Figures

Friday, December 14th, 2012 - by Helen Smith

This is what a study found on how women respond to female politicians:

Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher famously had elocution lessons to lower her voice and make it sound more masculine and authoritative.

She was advised – correctly, in light of subsequent research – that members of the public would find this more appealing.

Studies have demonstrated that men and women prefer leaders of both sexes in politics or business to have lower voices.

The new research shows this rule even extends to leadership positions traditionally occupied by women.

Unfortunately for me, the low voice phenomenon is accurate. When I was in LA recently, I had the opportunity to meet with voice coach Bob Corff who runs an LA studio. I tend to talk to0 quickly and my voice pitches upward when I speak at times. The first thing Corff told me was to speak slowly and lower my voice. “I sound like a man!” I exclaimed in my high-pitched voice. “No” you don’t,” he told me, “but if you want people to listen to you, you have to learn to communicate effectively. Lower your voice and slow down.” I now practice this technique when I am at a store, out in public or even just talking to others. It is hard and doesn’t come naturally for me but it works. I notice people hear more of what I am saying and respond better. It also helps me stay calmer when I speak which is important.

I still practice Corff’s techniques with an inexpensive audio CD called Corff Voice Studios: Speaker’s Voice Method that I highly recommend if you want to improve your voice for work, speaking, or just in general. You can also watch his video here at YouTube for more tips. (Oops, just removed the exclamation mark from that last sentence so you wouldn’t get the impression that I raised my voice).

Being a more effective communicator is ever important in the present economic and political climate.

YouTube Preview Image

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Sitting is Bad/Standing is Good? So What?

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012 - by Helen Smith

I read the article in the New York Times entitled “Taking a Stand for Office Ergonomics” (thanks to the reader who sent it to me):

But a closer look at the accumulating research on sitting reveals something more intriguing, and disturbing: the health hazards of sitting for long stretches are significant even for people who are quite active when they’re not sitting down. That point was reiterated recently in two studies, published in The British Journal of Sports Medicine and in Diabetologia, a journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes.

Suppose you stick to a five-times-a-week gym regimen, as I do, and have put in a lifetime of hard cardio exercise, and have a resting heart rate that’s a significant fraction below the norm. That doesn’t inoculate you, apparently, from the perils of sitting.

The research comes more from observing the health results of people’s behavior than from discovering the biological and genetic triggers that may be associated with extended sitting. Still, scientists have determined that after an hour or more of sitting, the production of enzymes that burn fat in the body declines by as much as 90 percent. Extended sitting, they add, slows the body’s metabolism of glucose and lowers the levels of good (HDL) cholesterol in the blood. Those are risk factors toward developing heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.

“The science is still evolving, but we believe that sitting is harmful in itself,” says Dr. Toni Yancey, a professor of health services at the University of California, Los Angeles.

It seems like everything we do these days is harmful. I’m just waiting for the government to demand that all offices come equipped with something like this FitDesk. Don’t get me wrong. I actually have this FitDesk and use it occasionally but you can bet that contrarian that I am, if someone told me to use it, I might just stop. Sitting might be bad for you, but so is a constant barrage of negativity from the media telling you that everything you do is somehow bad for you and then using the information to implement policies that restrict people’s individual choices.

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The 4-Hour Chef

Sunday, December 2nd, 2012 - by Helen Smith

I just started reading Tim Ferriss’s The 4-Hour Chef: The Simple Path to Cooking Like a Pro, Learning Anything, and Living the Good Life. If you have read other books by Ferriss, you will know that his style is manic, amusing and full of possibilities. That’s how I felt as I paged through his newest book.

He starts the book, not by teaching you how to cook but teaching you how to learn. Want to learn swimming? Don’t look to Michael Phelps. Try Shinji Takeuchi who learned to swim at 37. Takeuchi learned to swim not by sheer horsepower, like Phelps, but by effortless propulsion. Those people who are natural talents are not the way to learn, the ones who taught themselves despite having less talent can break the code down for the rest of us. I guess Ferriss is the reader’s guinea pig as he gleans what he can from the best in the culinary field to teach the reader how to cram 6 months of culinary lessons into 48 hours.

I must say that the recipes in the book sound exciting but I am not sure how tasty they are. On page 412, there is a recipe for Bacon-infused bourbon that is downright funny-looking with a bacon strip sticking out of glass of bourbon for guests at a cocktail party. Does this sound tasty to you? I don’t know. He not only teaches you how to make Vietnamese venison burgers but shows you in a section before what it is like to hunt and kill a deer with full photos. He also has a section on “how to Gut and Cook Tree Rat (or fish).” He has some simpler recipes for desserts or how to hard or soft-boil eggs for those of us with simpler culinary appetites (or who are just bad at cooking).

The book is a fill 667 pages of entertainment, weirdness and learning in addition to cooking. It is worth a read if you have the time.

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‘The Truth Is, Fat Is In and Thin is, Well, Mostly Fantasy.’

Saturday, November 24th, 2012 - by Helen Smith

It’s always nice to read, after stuffing one’s self at Thanksgiving, that Americans are getting fatter (via Newsalert):

Forget about the Thanksgiving feast. Potbellied and big-butted Americans stuff themselves silly all year round, a survey has found.

American men are weighing in at an average of 196 pounds — 16 pounds more than in 1990, a Gallup Poll has found. The average weight for women jumped 14 pounds to 156 pounds over the same period.

The truth is, fat is in and thin is, well, mostly fantasy.

When it comes to naming their ideal weight, men and women have lowered their standards considerably.

Men now put their ideal weight at an average of 185 pounds, the highest ever and up 14 pounds since 1990.

Women say their ideal weight is 140 pounds — up from 129 pounds in 1990.

I do think that Americans’ perception of weight has changed. What used to be considered normal weight is now thought of as thin. What used to be heavy is now normal.

Do you have an ideal weight and if so, what is it?

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Sex Therapy on the Rise

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012 - by Helen Smith

I saw on Drudge that sex therapy with the use of surrogates is on the rise:

MIAMI (CBS4) – Sex therapists in South Florida say they are seeing an increasing number of patients using sexual surrogates to overcome intimacy and performance problems.

A sex surrogate is a licensed counselor who works with single people suffering from sexual problems to overcome their issues, often by serving as a surrogate to allow them to practice overcoming the sexual issue they are trying to overcome….

Dr. Sonjia Kenya said sexual surrogates working with patients in South Florida are helping adults with autism, wounded warriors, and mid-life virgins.

“They’re professional and successful in every other capacity of their life, but they’ve never hugged anyone intimately, or been massaged without all of their clothes off or walked down the street holding someone’s hand,” Kenya said.

Sessions with a surrogate range from learning to flirt, hold hands, and touch to full blown sexual intercourse.

I am not sure how I feel about this. On one hand, it is beneficial for those with crippling fear or a lack of social skills to learn how to feel safe with a sex surrogate, on the other, this practice has the potential to harm. What is your take on sexual surrogates?


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Mommy, Why Would You Write a Book with Such a Mean Title?

Thursday, November 8th, 2012 - by Helen Smith

That’s what Hanna Rosin’s young son, Jacob, asks her everyday about her recent book The End of Men: And the Rise of Women.

I am reading Rosin’s book for additional research for my forthcoming book on why men are going on strike in marriage, fatherhood and in the culture. One reason I suggest in my book for men’s negative attitudes towards marriage, women and the society is the denigrating and damaging way that boys and young men are treated in our culture and a book with a title like this sure doesn’t help. To her credit, Rosin at least offers up a lame explanation to Jacob that “I want to convince people that some men out there need our help, since it’s not so easy for them to ask for it.” “He doesn’t quite believe me yet, but maybe one day he will.” Yet as I read the pages of her book, I am not sure what type of help she thinks men need and as Christina Hoff Summers said to me about men’s centers that try to convince men to be more like woman: “I don’t think that’s the kind of help men want.”

Rosin points out the ways in which girls are seen as better than boys. Rosin describes a shift in the US whereby parents, both men and women, prefer a girl when asked. It took two hypothetical daughters for people to say they would prefer the third child to be a boy. Rosin goes on to say:

Women are not just catching up anymore; they are becoming the standard by which success is measured. “Why can’t you be more like your sister?” is a phrase that resonates with many parents of school-age sons and daughters, even if they don’t always say it out loud. As parents imagine the pride of watching a child grow and develop and succeed as an adult, it is more often a girl than a boy that they see in their mind’s eye.

Did Rosin ever stop to think that with men are just responding to the culture around them. “The End of Men,” “boys are stupid, throw rocks at them,” Girl Power, and parents who want them to be girls–these are damaging messages to send to our young men. Boys and men keep many of their thoughts and feelings to themselves but don’t think that they won’t hear and respond to what is happening around them. Books declaring “the end of men” are contributing to the problem, not trying to find a solution to the reasons that boys and men are not faring as well in our society.

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