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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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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.


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.


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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Is Weight Lifting Good for Kids?

Sunday, November 4th, 2012 - by Helen Smith

Frederick Hahn, the author of Strong Kids, Healthy Kids: The Revolutionary Program for Increasing Your Child’s Fitness in 30 Minutes a Week thinks so. Hahn is the author of the blockbuster book The Slow Burn Fitness Revolution: The Slow Motion Exercise That Will Change Your Body in 30 Minutes a Week that advocates slow resistance training to increase your health and fitness for adults. He advocates weight training for kids to increase their lean body mass, improve flexibility, increase muscle strength and power and improve general fitness.

His book dispels the myth that weight lifting is bad for kids:

The common thought by people who don’t know better is fear of damage to the bone growth plates. Yet there has never been a single such case ever reported in medical literature. Others say it can delay a child’s musculoskeletal growth in kids–dramatically so. In an eight-week study on fifth graders, 20 boys and girls strength trained twice a week for 20 minutes and improved their body composition almost twice as much as their nontrained peers.

The book puts together an exercise and eating plan for kids and also teaches parents how to help their child set fitness goals. Hahn is not a big believer in those fitness tests the schools use where they measure kids by how far they can reach or how many push-ups they can do. For example the sit-and-reach test where a kid reaches forward on the floor to see how close he or she comes to touching their toes can be affected by how long or short a kid’s torso is or if they have short arms. If a heavy kids tries to do push-ups, it might be their high body weight, not lack of strength that is the issue. A better use of time, to the author, is to focus on strength training.

If you have an overweight kid or just one that needs a fitness tune-up, this book seems like a good one to help.

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What Happens After you Master 20,000 Hours at Your Life’s Work?

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012 - by Helen Smith

That is the question posed by a new book by Robert Greene called Mastery. The book reveals what happens to the brain after spending 20,000 hours studying a field or craft and how people like Einstein or Darwin come to be masters. He debunks the many myths about genius and believes that the secret to mastery is already within us. He interviews nine contemporary masters to help the reader learn to unlock their inner passion and become a master themselves. It looks like a good read if you are looking for help finding your life’s work or are doing it but need guidance on becoming a master at it.


Related at PJ Lifestyle:

P.T. Anderson’s Paradoxical Cult Drama The Master

Why The Master Is No Master-Piece

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Cash is Still King, Especially While Traveling

Sunday, October 14th, 2012 - by Helen Smith

I have seen articles discussing “the end of cash” and there is even a book out called The End of Money: Counterfeiters, Preachers, Techies, Dreamers–and the Coming Cashless Society. The author of this book, Wolman “flies to Delhi, where he sees first-hand how cash penalizes the poor more than anyone—and how mobile technologies promise to change that.”

Really? The poor (and not so poor) often use an underground economy with cash that keeps them from having to report income so I’m not sure how mobile technology will be a benefit there. There are many who work under the table for cash, collect food stamps and disability etc. This way, if they go over the limit allowed for income, they keep the cash and their benefits. With mobile technology only, it might be easier to spot this illegal activity. However, while this may be good for society, it doesn’t sound “good” for the poor, if “good” means they have more access to money in general. Once they lose their benefits, they have less. On second thought, maybe this is a benefit of going to a cashless society.

Anyway, I have been thinking about the use of cash while traveling in California for the past few weeks and I realize its benefits more than ever. Twice now, I have been in stores where the credit card machine broke, one for two days, and the owners would only accept cash for purchases. The beach area I am staying now has a sign up, “Cash only” because they either don’t want to deal with credit cards, it’s too expensive or some of their clientele doesn’t have access to a bank account or credit card. While shopping, my credit card wouldn’t work. Why? I am traveling in an unknown area and the card was locked down. When I tried to call on a weekend to get the card re-activated, no one would answer my call. Thank goodness, I have a few bucks on me to get me through until the week starts.

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The Slow Burn Workout

Tuesday, October 9th, 2012 - by Helen Smith

I just received the book The Slow Burn Fitness Revolution: The Slow Motion Exercise That Will Change Your Body in 30 Minutes a Week from the authors, Michael Eades, M.D. and Mary Eades, MD. They wrote it along with Fredrick Hahn who is a professional trainer. The idea behind slow burn is that it is slow-motion exercise with weights or your own body weight that you do for only 30 minutes a week to be fit and change your body. That’s hard to believe.

I spend a lot of time walking and trying to jog every once in a while though without much success as I am just doing a thirteen minute mile or so. Apparently, I’m wasting my time. The authors say that running is inefficient and risky. “The impact transmitted through the ankles, legs, knees and hips to the rest of the body from each running step is about three times your body weight. If your feet pound the ground eight hundred to a thousand times per mile, which is about average for the typical stride, and you are a 150-pound runner, you will jolt your body to the tune of a about 120 tons of collective force per mile you run.” That doesn’t sound good.

Apparently, the goal of exercise (according to the authors) is to build yourself up, not beat yourself up. They do not seem to think that exercise will do away with heart disease, or cure some diseases itself, but rather, it is a way to strengthen your muscles and bones and improve circulation and control blood sugar and help with back pain. They suggest just a half hour workout as little as once a week and spending the rest of the extra hours on the beach or doing something else you enjoy.

I tried the at-home routine with a door-knob, some free weights, a couple of towels and a chair and I have to say, it was pretty good. It seems to work flexibility in with the strength training which I desperately need from all the hours at the computer typing. The routine involved slowly doing pushups, squats using a door-knob, free weights for bicep curls and shoulder shrugs and abdominal crunches using a towel. I have to say, doing the exercises slowly was better for my joints and back. I guess I’ll try it for a while and see how I do, but I have to say that exercising once in a week doesn’t seem like enough to me. Though, I suppose if one combines it with the Eades’s program called Protein Power it would certainly be a start towards fitness.


More fitness and health at PJ Lifestyle:

Are the Treatment and Prevention of Obesity Different Problems?

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The End of Glasses?

Sunday, October 7th, 2012 - by Helen Smith

Will glasses soon be obsolete? Maybe so, according to this article at Tech Crunch (via Hotair):

Unless you’re a Hipster, eyeglasses are a major pain: kids wearing them get bullied, they’re expensive, they don’t play well with sports, and they can’t make up for perfect 20/20 vision. Finally, there may be a cure for nearsightedness (“Myopia”) on the horizon. Biomedical scientist David Trolio has experimented with a new contact lens that prevents the eye from malforming at a young age in the first place, by refocusing light as it hits the eye. He and his colleagues at State University of New York (SUNY) College of Optometry “successfully reduced the elongation of the eye that causes myopia progression.”

I wonder if this technology will work for adults? I wonder how young one has to be to get it done? I guess the rest of us will just have to deal with the bullying (really?), the cost (what about Costco?) and the imperfect vision. I am tired of wearing glasses and having vision problems but look how long it’s taken to perfect Lasik (and it’s still not great). Will this technology be that much better? I hope so.


Image via shutterstock /  wavebreakmedia

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Do Female Economists Think Differently?

Thursday, October 4th, 2012 - by Helen Smith

And if so, is it a good thing? It doesn’t sound like it from this article:

Economics is becoming less of a man’s world, and new research implies that as more women enter the profession that could lead to changes in economic policy.

“Without a doubt it will change policy,” said Ann Mari May, an economics professor at University of Nebraska in Lincoln and one of the study’s authors.

May and her co-authors surveyed hundreds of members of the American Economic Association for the study, which is due to be released in an upcoming issue of the journal Contemporary Economic Policy.

What they found was surprising: Despite similar training and background in economic principles, male and female economists tended to hold sharply different views about some of the biggest and most hotly debated economic issues.

For example, female economists were more likely to say employers should provide health insurance and that income distribution should be more equal. They also were more likely to disagree with the use of educational vouchers.

Women also were far more likely to conclude that job opportunities for men and women are not equal, and that specifically the economic profession favors men over women….

May thinks that as more women enter the field their voices will start to be heard when politicians and others craft economic policies. A more diverse group of expert opinions could lead to more rigorous debate and, perhaps, different ways of thinking about the nation’s major economic challenges.

It basically sounds like the female economists have socialistic tendencies that are at odds with liberty, freedom, and a capitalist society. In what way is their socialism going to help the economy and with “crafting economic policies?” In no positive way that I can see.


Image courtesy shutterstock / Jozsef Szasz-Fabian

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Does Productivity go Up After You Look at a Cute Kitten?

Monday, October 1st, 2012 - by Helen Smith


That’s what a new study says:

When economists talk about boosting productivity, they usually talk about increasing the adoption of new technologies and optimizing workflows. Japanese researchers, however, have come up with a very offbeat approach: Showing workers lots of pictures of adorable, fuzzy, baby animals.

A team of researchers at Hiroshima University recently conducted a study where they showed university students pictures of baby animals before completing various tasks. What they found, in research published today, was that those who saw the baby animal pictures did more productive work after seeing those photographs – even more than those who saw a picture of an adult animal or a pleasant food.

Well, I guess it’s time to view the One Cute Thing a Day blog for inspiration.


More cuteness at PJ Lifestyle:

A Dog Wearing an AT-AT Walker Costume From Empire Strikes Back

Furry Friday: Bipigasanship in the Caucus 

Cupcake ATM Provides Tasty Goodness for Both Humans and Dogs

3 Kittens Sucking on Their Bottles

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Dating Along Party-lines

Thursday, September 27th, 2012 - by Helen Smith

It seems that even dating is becoming more polarized with this election (via Newsalert):

Political affiliation has become a bigger deal now than it was during the last election,” says the CEO of Selective Search Inc., which is based in Chicago and has offices in 28 cities. Ms. Adler calls it a “party-line dating trend.”

Gone are the days when a Republican such as Mary Matalin might fall for a Democrat like James Carville, or vice versa.

“We’ve always screened for political views but now more than ever it’s showing up in the searches as a deal breaker if someone has polar-opposite viewpoints,” says Ms. Adler…

And I thought Obama was supposed to bring us all together…

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Human Nature is not Always Politically Correct

Monday, September 24th, 2012 - by Helen Smith

I like reading college newspapers to get a feel for the culture on campus. Today, I was reading The Stanford Daily and an article on the front page caught my eye. The article, “Groups react to sexual batteries” under “crime and safety” reminded me of how advice from politically correct women’s groups can actually be harmful to women. Unfortunately, I could not find the article online but I will summarize it for you.

A male suspect has been groping and attempting to sexually assault women — two of whom were in public places and another who was on a foot path. The police believe the same man may have perpetrated these three incidents and recommended that pedestrians be more aware of their surroundings and “women jog in pairs or small groups whenever possible.”

Good advice, right? “No” according to the Stanford Sexual Assault and Relationship Abuse (SARA) office: “To suggest that someone can employ certain tactics to ward off an offender–particularly when caught off guard during blitz attacks such as these–can be victim-blaming.”

This office goes on to encourage students to do whatever makes them feel “safe and empowered in public spaces and behind closed doors, but prefer not to give advice on self-defense.” The director of the Women’s Community Center at Stanford stated “We don’t advocate using self-defense as a prevention measure for a sexual assault or rape or relationship abuse because it’s not prevention.”

Huh? The woman attacked on a secluded foot path struggled out of a bear-hug by a perpetrator. Is that too much self-defense for these damsels of political correctness? They would rather a woman not use or learn self-defense to protect herself because to do so would somehow be victim-blaming? Do they really think the perp doing this is going to stop himself and say “no, this is wrong?” Perhaps if these sanctimonious women would come out of their cocoon long enough to join us in the real world, they would realize that the police officers’ advice is sound.  There will always be people in the world, both men and women, out to harm others. You cannot wish that away, no matter how much you may wish to do so.

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Independent Women’s Forum: Interview on Men ‘Going Galt’ and the War on Men

Thursday, September 20th, 2012 - by Helen Smith

I was interviewed for a piece by the Independent Women’s Forum on my new book, the war on men and why men are “Going Galt.” Here are a few highlights:

Smith has a book coming out from Encounter Books entitled Male Strike: Society’s War on Men. The thesis of the book is that the deck is so stacked against men that they are “going Galt,” as Smith puts it. The term comes from Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged in which society’s productive members went on strike—led by John Galt—because they were being exploited.

“In the case of men, the government and the politicians work in cahoots with women to extract money from men,” Smith says.” And then men aren’t entitled to a lot of the benefits, such as WIC (Women, Infants and Children Program) or a lot of welfare.”

The male strike can take the form of not marrying, not going to college or working at low-paying jobs and taking up hobbies to avoid paying into a system that uses state and federal programs to transfer men’s taxes to women. And taxpayer money doesn’t just go to what we regard as traditional welfare programs. Smith cites the Violence Against Women Act, which funnels taxpayer dollars to organizations staffed by activist women.

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Is the Toilet the Only Place a Man Can Get Some Peace and Quiet?

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012 - by Helen Smith

Cassy Fiano has a post here at PJ Lifestyle entitled “Five Things Men Do That Secretly Annoy Women.” I have to say that I read it with amusement, especially when Fiano’s main question seems to be “What’s the deal with all the toilet time?”:

…what is it about men and taking forever in the bathroom? Now that there are smart phones and tablets, the problem’s even worse. There are endless forms of bathroom entertainment nowadays for men to take advantage of, which means that men have an excuse to take even longer to spend an hour doing something that really, should only take two minutes. And why is that? Sure, you can sit in there and play Angry Birds to your heart’s content. But couldn’t you just do that, I don’t know, on the couch or something?

When I was researching my forthcoming book called “Male Strike:”  Society’s War on Men,” I wrote a section on the decline of male space, even in their own home. Brett McKay, the author of  The Art of Manliness: Classic Skills and Manners for the Modern Man had this to say about a man’s lowly position in their own house in modern times:

The rise of suburban culture with its emphasis on creating a domestic nest, usually meant sacrificing male space for the good of the family. Home designs in the 1950s exchanged the numerous, smaller rooms of the Victorian home for fewer, larger rooms. The goal was to create more open space where families could congregate together and bond while watching the Honeymooners on TV.

With no room to call their own, men were forced to build their male sanctuaries in the most uninhabitable parts of a home. Garages, attics, and basements quickly became the designated space for men, while the women and children had free reign over the rest of the house.

Commenters to Fiano’s post on all that bathroom time reiterated what many men feel, they have no space at home of their own so they have taken to using the toilet as a sanctuary:

Larry J
I heard one older guy claim that his wife had completely taken over the rest of the house so the bathroom was the only place he felt was his own.

Jeff states:
I remember my grand dad– when he got home from work, he’d have a glass of bourbon and read the paper. Today… if a man ever sits down in the presence of his wife, she’ll (a) complain about how tough her life is, (b) start a fight about something, or (c) iterate through the “honey do” list.

So men have made the toilet into their sanctuary. Maybe asking why these “annoying” men spend so much time in the toilet is the wrong question and the right one is: why don’t men have anywhere else in the house to go to get some peace and quiet?

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Why the Negative Titles for Books on Men?

Saturday, September 15th, 2012 - by Helen Smith

I saw that Hanna Rosin has a new book out entitled The End of Men: And the Rise of Women. I have to say that I really dislike and find distasteful the derogatory titles that these new books on men seem to find acceptable. Do authors lately ever have a title that makes men sound good, or decent or even likable? Are there any that don’t include women in the title or refer to how men relate to women? Just asking.

Seriously, titles like Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men into Boys or Save the Males: Why Men Matter Why Women Should Care or even Why Boys Fail: Saving Our Sons from an Educational System That’s Leaving Them Behind give the reader negative images of men that lead them to believe that men have no agency — that is, they are not autonomous, independent beings who deserve better, but rather immature characters who can’t hack it in the current system.

I am sick of these titles and wonder why anyone would buy a book that is geared toward men as failures. Certainly, few men are reading these books as most publishers only want books about men for women and therefore, take those books that make women feel good and make men look like losers for their female customers only.

If male, would you buy a book  entitled The End of Men?


Related at PJ Lifestyle on Rosin:

‘Feminist Progress Right Now Largely Depends on the Existence of the Hookup Culture.’

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Self-Pay Vs. Insurance

Thursday, September 13th, 2012 - by Helen Smith

Every time I go to a medical procedure that is not covered by insurance, I have a much better experience. While this is not unusual or unexpected,  I am always surprised at the difference. Today, I went to the dermatologist to have some skin treatment and to have them look at some spots on my face. Grand total: $75 out of pocket but more importantly, the treatment I got going to the side of the office that was self-pay was so different than the treatment received on the other side where the insurance patients sat.

I strolled into the left side of the office at my designated time and only one person was ahead of me. I looked through the door to my right at about twenty or more patients waiting on the other side with a couple of slightly harried-looking receptionists dealing with them and the paperwork. Last time I was there, I went to the ”insurance” side. It wasn’t fun. It was tedious with paperwork to fill out, annoyed tones when I asked a few questions and a rushed session with a nurse practitioner where half my questions weren’t answered. This time, in the self-pay area?  A polite assistant took me to a back room immediately, asked me how my day was and brought in the aesthetician to work her magic and look at the spots on my face. There was no rush and I left feeling happy and relaxed. Yes, I know going to the cosmetic side is much different than doing an actual medical procedure but honestly, not that much. Sometimes, you just want to go to a dermatologist and say, “what is this spot on my face and what do I do about it?”  You just typically won’t get a cheerful reply or good treatment when you ask.

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Will the New Kindle Fire HD Be an Improvement?

Friday, September 7th, 2012 - by Helen Smith

I just saw on Amazon that the new Kindle Fire HD will be  available as soon as next week. What caught my eye about the new Kindle was this:

Reduced Screen Glare
Most tablet displays are made up of two pieces of glass – an LCD on the bottom and a touch sensor on the top, separated by an air gap. With an air gap, light reflects off of every surface as it passes through from the front, creating multiple distracting reflections that reduce display contrast. Kindle Fire HD solves this air gap problem by laminating the touch sensor and the LCD together into a single layer of glass, creating a display that’s easy to view, even in overhead light.

One of my pet peeves with the Kindle has been the glare that often causes eye strain, at least for me. For that reason, I don’t use the Kindle as much as I would like, though we have several. I am hoping that this new one solves that problem. I look forward to trying it out.

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