Saturday, December 20, 2008

Sex in the stairwell at a school in Philly led to a boy being suspended and the girl? She's still there:

Veronica Goss is the first person to admit that her son, Walter Ransome, made a big mistake in the stairwell of Francis Pastorius Elementary School the week before Thanksgiving.

Walter, a tall, lean boy with a shelf full of trophies from a Christian Youth Basketball Association, agrees that he was foolish that afternoon.

Before going to the after-school program at his Germantown school, Walter, 13, and an eighth-grade female classmate stopped in the stairwell.

It was there that that they briefly had sexual intercourse. Walter got kicked out of school for the incident. The girl stayed in school. Now, Goss is demanding to know why.

The mother in the article says this has happened before and girls get off scott-free while boys are punished. If true, this unfairness will lead to some consequences at some point for the school, if not now, then in the future.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Is it time to refinance?

SayUncle mentioned that interest rates are so low, the money's almost free. I wouldn't go that far yet, but it does seem that now is the time to refinance your house if you need to do so. He has a poll up asking people if they are refinancing. I won't steal it but you can go over and take a look. So far, over a quarter of the voters say they are waiting. I think the time to refinance might be when it hits 4%. What do you think? Is it better to jump in now or wait and see if the rates drop?

Countertransference 101

Over at Maggie's Farm, Dr. Bliss feels badly for a Baylor psychiatric resident who has a dilemma; she is attracted to her patient. Oddly enough, she is told by her supervisor that she is the only resident the supervisor has seen with this problem:

“I think you need to take this one to Dr Gabbard. I have never seen a resident with this problem before.” “Never!?” I thought, “I’m the only one!?” I worried incessantly about what was wrong with me to feel so incapacitated, unable to feel in control of the therapy in this particular case. I kept thinking in circular fashion, “I should not have this problem. I must stop it. I can’t stop it. I should not have this problem”—and on and on.

The therapist/patient attraction is psych 101. It's generally covered in supervision on counter-transference issues the first year of doing therapy, at least it was in my experience getting a PhD in psychology. Too bad this psychiatric resident wasn't prepared in advance--it would have helped her to deal with the situation without the guilt and anguish. Perhaps that is the difference between psychiatric training in preparing for the MD and psychological training for the PhD--the human component might be emphasized more for the PhD, both for the therapist and the patient.

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

John Hawkins at RWN has a round-up of reactions to Obama's pick of Rick Warren to do his Inaugural Invocation. My favorite? "Wanker of the Day: Barack Obama"--Atrios. Now that's some serious analysis.

Why so many uncleared homicides?

Bridget Johnson at PJM has an article looking at the Adam Walsh case and the number of uncleared homicides in the US:

Earlier this month, an Associated Press probe of FBI figures revealed that, despite technological advances in criminalistics, it’s just easier to get away with murder nowadays. The clearance rate of homicides, or cases solved in a year, stood at 61 percent nationwide in 2007, a steady slip over the decades from the first year of modern record-keeping, 1963, when the clearance rate was 91 percent.

In addition to DNA and other scientific advances that should be helping catch more criminals, not fewer, law enforcement also now has the benefit of reaping tips and captures with the help of modern media. America’s Most Wanted, the longest-running show on the Fox network, boasts 1,049 criminals caught with the program’s help as of this writing — yet for 27 years, host John Walsh has been at the center of one of America’s most infamous unsolved mysteries.

I remember when we talked with Bill Bass, forensic anthropologist and author of Death's Acre, he mentioned that due to all of the CSI type shows, people think that it is easier to catch criminals these days when indeed it is not. Part of the problem, he said (and I am recalling this from memory) is that since many of us are strangers and there is less community cohesiveness, no witnesses will come forward when there is a murder or they are reluctant to talk to the police.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Romantic comedies can spoil your love life (via Newsalert):

Watching romantic comedies can spoil your love life, a study by a university in Edinburgh has claimed.

Rom-coms have been blamed by relationship experts at Heriot Watt University for promoting unrealistic expectations when it comes to love.

They found fans of films such as Runaway Bride and Notting Hill often fail to communicate with their partner.....

The university's Dr Bjarne Holmes said: "Marriage counsellors often see couples who believe that sex should always be perfect, and if someone is meant to be with you then they will know what you want without you needing to communicate it.

"We now have some emerging evidence that suggests popular media play a role in perpetuating these ideas in people's minds.

I would assume that women watch these romantic comedies more often than men. If, as the research in the article shows, women then simultaneously communicate less with their partner and at the same time expect their partner to know what they need without communication, it is no wonder the women feel upset or betrayed in some way. Yet, at the same time, it is no wonder men are often baffled due to a lack of communication and high expectations that they meet some type of unrealistic need. Of course, this can also happen in reverse with men being the ones with the unrealistic fantasies--but I would say not as often. What do you think?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A New Blog on Happiness

I noticed a new blog ad up this morning advertising a site called Martin Seligman, author of books such as Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment and Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life is an advisor to the site.

I went over to the blog to take a look and found a good post there on how to give holiday shopping stress the heave-ho. The post describes those who are satisficers --where one buys things that are "good enough" and maximizers--who are always looking for "the best." Guess which person is happier? The satisficers and maximizers are from the research of Barry Schwartz, author of The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less. Here is a quick video of Dr. Seligman explaining the problem of holiday gift giving:

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Monday, December 15, 2008

Ask Dr. Helen: How can I keep my students from becoming little Marxists?

My PJM column is up:

It's not easy to keep young minds open to a variety of political views these days.

Take a look at the column and see if you have any advice for teacher Scott on how to help his students become more politically tolerant.