Archive for March, 2009

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Powerlessness

March 24, 2009

In a brilliant Tufts University study into human interactions and behaviors, researchers found that a lack of self-control occasionally is a better guarantor of success in communication. That may sound counter-intutive, but  it does work out.

They caused one half of a group to become exhausted mentally and the other group they left alone. These volunteers were all white. Then they introduced black men into the room and asked them to discuss race relations. Here is an excerpt, chronicalling the results:

The results were provocative. As reported in the February issue of the journal Psychological Science, those who were mentally depleted—that is, those lacking discipline and self-control—found talking about race with a black man much more enjoyable than did those with their self-control intact. That’s presumably because they weren’t working so hard at monitoring and curbing what they said. What’s more, independent black observers found that the powerless volunteers were much more direct and authentic in conversation. And perhaps most striking, blacks saw the less inhibited whites as less prejudiced against blacks. In other words, relinquishing power over oneself appears to thwart over-thinking and “liberate” people for more authentic relationships.

Read the article here.

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The Epitome of Hyperbole

March 23, 2009

Hyperbole is a fancy term which means “to deliberately exaggerate to make a point”. Think Charles Barkley in basketball or Bill Cosby in comedy or the judges for American Idol … no, wait, their exaggerations don’t have a point.

Anyway, I love hyperbole. It helps us grasp things that are absurd or out of proportion.

But when someone exaggerates with the intent to manipulate, that is almost criminal. The other day, I heard someone claim that their product could cleanse the colon of material which hides for years. To begin with, this cannot even be possible, given the amount of enzymes eating away at the contents of the digestive tract. But then they went further. They claimed that a regimen of cleansing the colon could remove up to 25 pounds of unwanted material! Actually, all the material in my colon is unwanted, but that’s another matter.

Let’s do the math on this. Your colon weighs less than one pound. Fully weighted down with digested food, it weighs less than 10 pounds. So where is this extra fifteen pounds coming from? Unless you’re swallowing really heavy doses of vitamins, you don’t eat anything that could weigh that much. But here is the kicker: Your colon does not store anything! In fact, if you do start forming little pockets in your colon and storing some of the waste material, you will die. That is called diverticulitis.

My point is that many people will hear these deliberately exaggerated claims and go out and buy this weight loss “miracle”. People who make these claims should be fined severely.

So let’s go back to listening to Charles Barkley…at least we know not to take much of what he says seriously.

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Moving Back with Your Parents

March 16, 2009

A few months ago, at a symposium, I posed the question “What will be the most pressing psychological need of this recession?” For the help professionals gathered, there was  bevy of answers, many of which I was prepared to address. But one young man said it bluntly: “Many will have to move back with their parents and deal with the crap they moved out to avoid dealing with”.

Wow, give that guy a medal for prophetic accuracy.

Indeed, this is turning out to be one of the most difficult emotional consequences of a rising unemployment rate, foreclosures, maxed out credit cards and downsizing. Adults are having to go back to living with their parents. Or to say it from the parent’s POV, adult children are reintroducing themselves into a quiet home.

Rosecrans Baldwin is one of Salon Magazines’ recession writers. In a recent issue, he tells about how he and his wife, returning from overseas, apparently brought the recession with them. Neither of them (both professionals) can find a job. So they live with her parents. And though the relationship is healthy, it is still awkward for grown adults to share a house together. Here is one comment from the article:

The guilt, though, and the awkward awareness of living on your in-laws’ largesse, is tough. It’s an ego-belittling situation; I’ve signed my own leases since I was 20. One morning I found myself changing loads in the laundry room, thinking: You’re an adult married man and you’re folding your mother-in-law’s brassiere.

Baldwin says it so well. Because it may apply to many reading this blog, I offer it to you as good reading material.

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10 Greatest Rock Songs of All Time

March 13, 2009

This is a Cross-post from my Facebook account:

Now for those who, like my Youth Pastor in 1973, think that all rock-and-roll is of the devil, do not read any further. For those of us who love that “african devil beat” and aren’t convicted by Holy Spirit there is anything sinful about it, here is my current top ten.

Just a few explanations. Everyone has their own idea of what a rock song is. Here are my criteria:

1. Beat is everything. Therefore, the beat and the drummer must be important to the song. Jimi Hendrix and Eddy V.H. solos won’t make the cut.
2. Rhythm guitar trumps everything.
3. Pop music doesn’t get included.
4. You must be able to workout on a treadmill going faster than 6 mph to these songs.
5. Everyone smiles when they hear these songs (except my aforementioned Youth Pastor).
6. They are in no particular order, since there really is no way to compare one song to another.

If you feel I have left one out that meets all my criteria, please enlighten me.

10 Greatest Rock Songs of All time

Smoke on the Water – Deep Purple
Taking Care of Business – Bachman Turner Overdrive
China Grove – Doobie Brothers
Vertigo – U2
More than a Feeling – Boston
Welcome to the Jungle – Guns N Roses
Smells Like Teen Spirit – Nirvana
Layla – Derek and the Dominos
I Want You to Want Me – Cheap Trick
Radar Love – either Golden Earring or White Lion

Almost made the cut:

Crocodile Rock – Elton John (too much piano)
Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen (song has too many slow parts to qualify)

Carry on my Wayward Son – Kansas (drums aren’t noticeable…but may be one of the greatest songs of all time).

Stacy’s Mom – As a favor to my friend Stacy, I left it off.

Now you know.

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Can the Majority Take Away the Rights of the Minority

March 6, 2009

This is from my Facebook posting this morning.

In the Supreme Court of California today, they continue the debate on Proposition 8. The question posed by opponents is this: Should the Majority be allowed to take away rights of the Minority? As Ken Starr pointed out yesterday, the question is not “Can they?” for that is well established in the rule of Law in America. The question is properly “should they?”.

When you ask a “should” question, it is an inquiry into morals and ethics. In order to decide the answer, you must know the basis of a country’s ethical decisions. John Locke, the English politician and scientist, proposed that no rule of law (except one) can exist without a moral consensus. A moral consensus is an agreed upon higher law that all human laws are based. That may be a religious book, a belief in God or in a higher code of law. If you do not have a moral consensus, there is no basis upon which to answer any question of what “should” happen.

After all, who is to say what constitutes a “right”? If it doesn’t come from an agreed upon higher law, then how can anyone say there is an absolute right or wrong?

Locke did recognize that there is an alternative to Moral Consensus: the opinion of the Majority. If you cannot agree as a nation on a higher rule of law, then you must define law by the mood of the public.

In California, that means the majority can decide to limit any rights they choose – especially when those rights are not defined or spelled out.

Therefore, the homosexual marriage lobby is stuck between a rock and a hard place. They cannot appeal to any Moral Consensus for their “should” – no religion or rule of Natural Law accepts homosexual behavior – so they must court public opinion. And at the moment, it is not in their favor.

Or am I missing something?

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