Saturday, January 12, 2008

Maggie's Farm: Then and Now: this stuff would be funny if it wasn't so true.

Friday, January 11, 2008

"I Feel your Pain"

Jonah Goldberg makes some good points in his article, Voting in the age of Dr. Phil:

What Americans really want when they look into a politician's eyes is to see their own images reflected back, like in Narcissus' pool. The presidency in particular has become the highest ground in the culture war. Americans want a candidate who validates them personally. "I'm voting for him because he's a hunter like me." "I'm backing her because she's a woman too." "I'm for that guy because he's angry like me." Such sentiments have colored the presidential contest for so long, they've saturated it like stain into wood.

"Authenticity" -- on which voters supposedly place such a premium -- is really just a label put on self-validation. Bill Clinton infamously promised he felt our pain. Hillary Clinton similarly sold her 2000 bid for the Senate by arguing that she was more concerned about the issues that concern New Yorkers than was her competitor.

.....In a sense, this is populism updated for the age of "Oprah" and "Dr. Phil." Principles and policy details take a back seat to the need to say "there, there -- I understand" to voters. As Willie Stark, the populist protagonist of "All the King's Men," bellows to the insatiably needy crowds: "Your will is my strength, and your need is my justice."

Choosing understanding and false empathy over policy and hard decisions is not the way to choose a president.

Update: I see that Jonah Goldberg's book Liberal Fascism is up to #8 6 4 3 on Amazon and is now #1 in Politics.

Ask Dr. Helen: Should Men be Kicked out of the Church Nursery?

My PJM column is up:

There’s a double standard in our society when it comes to sexual abuse, writes Dr. Helen Smith, who reminds readers what the PC books won’t: women also commit sexual offenses against children.

Go take a look and let me know if you think that men should be barred from volunteering at places, like the church nursery, that have children present.


Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Serial Killers: Up Close and Personal

Yesterday, I had the chance to read an advance copy of criminologist Jack Levin's new book, Serial Killers and Sadistic Murderers - Up Close and Personal. Levin has specialized in the study of murder over the past twenty-five years and in the introduction, shares the toll this line of work has taken on his life (I can relate!):

...I must confess, from the outset, that I have also paid a high personal price for my work in analyzing the most depraved of murderers. Over the years, I have received death threats from the fans of killers about whom I have written. I have gotten nasty letters and phone calls from strangers who judge me based only on a short quote (or misquote) in a newspaper article they've read. I have received letters from numerous prisoners who believe I might get them a new trial or a reduced sentence, mistakenly believing that I am am an attorney rather than a criminologist. Mobsters have visited my office. Psychotics have stalked me. . ...To this day, it remains difficult to get a good night's sleep.

Living with murder has not always been easy. Yet by analyzing and better understanding--not justifying--the thoughts and actions of serial killers and other murderers, we can hopefully develop strategies that will thwart them and therefore benefit society. To the extent that we are successful, my experiences with murder will have been totally worthwhile.

So if bloggers get bent out of shape over real or imagined threats over the internet, think how this guy must feel dealing with this type of potential risk on a fairly constant basis from face-to-face killers and their fans--although honestly, for the most part, the killers themselves are not terribly interested in experts, they have their own agenda when it comes to the type of victim they are looking for. But intimidation for them is often amusing.

Levin gives some background on serial killers, indicating that they are rare--less than 1% of murders constitute this type of killing in the US with about 200 victims per year spread among around 20 killers. Serial killers, as opposed to spree killers or mass murderers kill a number of people with a cooling off period in-between. He has had some real face-to-face time with many of these killers and their families and provides a good description of his interactions with them. There is an interesting chapter entitled, "Threatening to Kill" where Levin describes some of the threats he and others have received over the years. His experience leads him to this conclusion:

I realize now that some people make a career of threatening others. They usually do not follow through. Instead, they get tremendous satisfaction from causing pain and anxiety in the lives of the people they hate. Their threatening messages are in and of themselves a form of revenge.

I would rate the book as fair to pretty good, I didn't learn anything new here, but it was worth reading, although you will have to overlook the PC overtones--Levin seems to sympathize with gun control, yet mentions that serial killers only use a gun as a last resort, offers no indignation when mentioning that colleagues want to shoot people who are "biased" up with anti-psychotic drugs, and uses case examples that are politically correct for the most part without showing the other side. If you want more in-depth psychological analysis, I suggest Serial Killers by Joel Norris. Although it was written in 1988, Norris asks some great questions and has some terrific insight into what makes this type of killer tick.

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Study Subjects Needed

I have been informed of a new study on domestic violence against men and am passing it along to readers:

The Men's Experiences with Partner Aggression Project is a research study at Clark University and is funded by the National Institute of Mental Health. Denise A.Hines, Ph.D., Clark University Department of Psychology, is the lead researcher on this project.

She is conducting this project in conjunction with Emily M. Douglas, Ph.D., Bridgewater State College Department of Social Work, the Survey Center at the University of Southern Maine, and the Domestic Abuse Helpline for Men and Women.

Our goal is to better understand the experiences of men who are in relationships with women who use violence. Extensive research has shown that men are at risk for sustaining partner violence in their relationships, yet few studies have investigated their experiences, and there are few resources available to such men. This is an under-recognized problem in the United States, and by conducting this research project, we hope to provide much needed information on these men, their relationships, and their needs.

If you are a man between the ages of 18 and 59 and you have been physically assaulted at least one time in the last 12 months by a current or former intimate female partner you may be eligible to participate in this study.

If you are interested in participating, please call the DAHMW at 1-888-743-5754 or email for information about the study and directions for participating. For more information about DAHMW visit their website:

It's about time.


Monday, January 07, 2008

Vox Day has an in-depth interview up with Jonah Goldberg on his new book, Liberal Fascism. Take a look.

Giuliani on the War and Energy Independence

Roger Simon and Claudia Rosett at Pajamas Media have an interesting conversation with Rudy Giuliani on the war and energy independence. There is great video and a transcript for those of you who would rather read than watch. I hope that Giuliani has taken a look at Bob Zubrin's work or maybe he can listen to our podcast with Zubrin here to get some ideas on alternative energy.


Sunday, January 06, 2008

The Carnival of the Insanities is up at Dr. Sanity's place. Be sure to check out this post on what men want to know. It's rather humorous and the comment section is a hoot.


Deadly Advice, Speed Dating and Murder

Yesterday afternoon, I got a chance to read a mystery, Deadly Advice, sent to me by author Roberta Isleib. Surprisingly, Isleib is a clinical psychologist and the main character of the book is Dr. Rebbecca Butterman, a psychologist who also writes an online advice column. It sounded rather familiar so I figured it was worth a read. It was.

The storyline starts out with Butterman's neighbor dying from what looks like a suicide intiitally but turns into a murder investigation. Dr. Butterman gets involved with trying to find the killer and finds out that her neighbor was involved in a seedy underworld of speed dating and erotic parties. Okay, I added the seedy part about the speed dating--some of you out there might have tried it and found it okay. The neighbor apparently was screwing at various parties and then putting the information along with pictures up on a website for the world to see.

Anyway, the descriptions of this uptight psychologist trying to delve into this underworld and her lack of confidence in herself are pretty interesting. Dr. Butterman spends much of the book second-guessing her looks and determining that she is some type of old maid at the age of 38. The online advice column she writes is not bad, but leaves her feeling rather unfullfilled since she gives silly flippant advice to women about the most intricate aspects of their lives. She seems for the most part, to be one of those types who think that "psychological complexity" is the mark of a higher status of being, when in reality, it is often a sign of a royal pain in the ass.

I won't ruin the plot line for you should you ever read the book, but it makes for a fun afternoon of reading if you like this genre.