China’s growing gender gap

imgresThe now well-known gap between the male and female population in China continues to widen. Increasingly, the growing number of men is raising questions about what it might mean for the nation’s future – and it’s long term stability.

“Three decades after China implemented its contentious one-child policy, coupled with a lingering cultural preference for boys and the advent of cheap and accessible ultrasound technology, the country’s skewed gender ratio has only gotten worse,” reports todays GlobalPost. “Social scientists in China say the upcoming census results could reveal a gender ratio of 122 boys born for every 100 girls. Under natural conditions, there are typically 105-106 boys for every 100 girls.” Continue reading “China’s growing gender gap”

What made the news

It’s no big secret that what people think has a lot to do with what they watch and read. While ideologies and other belief systems also underlie public opinion, there is no denying the role of “news” in shaping contemporary worldviews – sometimes in direct opposition to empirical data.

For example, while many parents now fear sending junior off to school each morning, the odds of a child being shot in Sandy Hook fashion stand at less than one in a million, as it has for decades. If anything, schools recently have been getting safer.


After reaching a high of 63 deaths in the 2006-2007 school year, the number of people killed in “school-associated” incidents dropped to 33 in 2009-2010 – the lowest in two decades, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Continue reading “What made the news”

Where did the Asian characters go?

Mainstream movies continue to minimize or exclude Asian characters, even when depicting historical events about Asia itself.imgres-1

Is this authorial racism, a market-driven response, or part of a broader ethnocentrism in audiences?

These issues are taken up in a recent essay by David Cox appearing The Guardian entitled “Attempting the Impossible: Why Does Western Cinema Whitewash Asian Stories?” Opening paragraphs of the story are below:

“The Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004 killed at least 227,898 people. Around a third of these were children. The economy of coastal south-east Asia was devastated, with the loss in some places of two thirds of the boats on which fisherfolk depended. The environment was irreversibly defiled. Since many of the bodies were never found, psychological trauma was compounded by the tradition in many of the areas affected that the dead must always be buried by a family member. Continue reading “Where did the Asian characters go?”

Now Benedict hates capitalism

We don’t think 2102 was the best year for Pope Benedict, what with his relentless rants against marriage equality and his silly foray onto Twitter. For a guy supposed to have a direct line to God, the Pope seems to be a bit out-of-touch.

But wait. What was that recent thing he said? Yes, according to reports today from the BBC, Benedict has come out against the profiteers and selfish-individualists.imgres

“Pope Benedict XVI has condemned ‘unregulated capitalism’ for contributing to world tension, in a new year address to worshippers.”

Hang on, there is more: The Pope also decried ‘the prevalence of a selfish and individualistic mindset which also finds expression in an unregulated financial capitalism’, as well as ‘various forms of terrorism and crime.’

“The Roman Catholic Church leader spoke at a Mass in the Vatican, then greeted a crowd outside St Peter’s Basilica.  He deplored ‘hotbeds of tension and conflict caused by growing instances of inequality between rich and poor’. Continue reading “Now Benedict hates capitalism”

Syrian deaths more than reported

imgres-2“The world already believed Syria’s civil war to be monstrous, with nearly 45,000 slain,” reports todays Wired DangerRoom. “But when the United Nations plunged into the disparate databases cataloging the victims, it discovered there had been an awful oversight. The true death toll was more like 60,000 people, the data-mining operation revealed. And even that elevated total is likely to be low.

“The brutal truth is that no one really knows how many Syrians have died in dictator Bashar Assad’s brutal crackdown: Warzone death estimates are notoriously imprecise. By its own admission, the death toll compiled by the human rights tech group Benetech, on behalf of the UN, is inaccurate. But its assessment has the virtue of specificity, a factor that preempts some of the doubts raised about mortality estimates in other warzones. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, called the study “a work in progress, not a final product.” Continue reading “Syrian deaths more than reported”

Miley Cyrus and her fans

Miley Cyrus is famous for playing a character with a double life. A segment of her fan base has been kids conflicted over their identities, who see in the Miley/Hannah construction a version of emerging selfhood.

Of course, she is a good singer, too.

During the past year, Cyrus has become outspoken in her support of LGBT causes, as highlighted today in a story on HuffPost Gay Voices:

“’Can I say that my favorite fans are my gay fans? Am I allowed to say that, because half of America is still against it?”


“This isn’t the first time the 20-year-old pop sensation has spoken out on behalf of the LGBT community. Last February, she sparked controversy among some fans when she revealed a new tattoo — a small ‘equals’ sign on her middle finger — in support of marriage equality.’I believe every American should be allowed the same rights and civil liberties,’ Continue reading “Miley Cyrus and her fans”

Michael Moore’s New Year’s resolutions


Happy New Year! Have you made your resolutions for 2013? Here are mine:

1. Learn the names of the people two doors down from me and invite them over for dinner.

2. Learn how to make dinner.

3. Buy a gun. Stroke it. Squeeze it. Hold it. Love it. Shoot it! Ahhhh… Buy more guns… Stroke them…

4. Stop saying “I support the troops.” I don’t. I used to. I understand why so many enlisted after 9/11. Sadly, many of them were then trapped and sent off to invade Iraq. I felt for all of them. I understood those who joined because of a lousy economy. But at some point all individuals must answer for their actions, and now that we know our military leaders do things that have nothing to do with defending our lives, why would anyone sign up for this rogue organization? Continue reading “Michael Moore’s New Year’s resolutions”

Sugar is the new tobacco

Among the least likely viral megahits on YouTube is a 90-minute lecture by the food scold and pediatric endocrinologist Robert Lustig, entitled “Sugar: The Bitter Truth.”

“Public reception of Lustig’s new book, Fat Chance, will likely be just as divided,” reports todays imgres-2 “The book repeats and expands on the main point of contention in the sugar wars: whether our bodies treat all calories the same. The old guard says yes: A calorie is a calorie; steak or soda, doesn’t matter. Eat more calories than you burn, you’ll gain weight. Continue reading “Sugar is the new tobacco”


The intersection of positive psychology and game design was described by Jane McGonigal in her popular book Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World. See  SuperBetter to see what this means.

“SuperBetter is a tool created by game designers and backed by science to help build personal resilience: the ability to stay strong, motivated and optimistic even in the face of difficulty challenges.images-2 Resilience has a powerful effect on health — by boosting physical and emotional well-being. Resilience also helps you achieve your life goals — by strengthening your social support and increasing your stamina, willpower and focus. Every aspect of the game is designed to harness the power of positive emotions and social connection for live, feel, and act better. Continue reading “SuperBetter”

Kim Jong Un vs “cultural infiltration”

North Korea is doing everything is can to crack down on cell phones, TVs, and anything else that can bring “subversion” into the country.images-1

It’s a Stalinist campaign reminiscent for the old Cold War, as Kim Jong Un has recently ranted: “We must extend the fight against the enemy’s ideological and cultural infiltration.”

As reported last week, campaigns to indoctrinate North Korean children are nothing short of remarkable. writes that the new emphasis on media is just as extreme:  “Kim, who became North Korea’s supreme leader after the death of his father a year ago, called upon his vast security network to ‘ruthlessly crush those hostile elements.’

“Over the past year, Kim has intensified a border crackdown that has attempted to seal the once-porous 1,420-kilometer (880-mile) frontier with China, smugglers and analysts say, trying to hold back the onslaught. Continue reading “Kim Jong Un vs “cultural infiltration””

Adam Lanza’s body quietly claimed

imagesParents of children who commit crimes receive little support and are typically scorned or otherwised blame for the actions of their offspring.

This simple and tragic reality is discussed at length by Andrew Solomon in his book Far From the Tree in relation to the family of Columbine shooter Dylan Klebold.  Stunned by the actions of their son and his death, the Klebolds saw no memorials and received no sympathy, and instead were subjected to a decade of abuse and torment – which continues to this day.  Today the LA Times reported a similar story beginning to unfold for the family of the young man who committed the Sandy Hook murders”

“The body of Newtown, Conn., shooter Adam Lanza was claimed by his father last week, a family spokesman said Monday. Continue reading “Adam Lanza’s body quietly claimed”