Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Bizarre 'Elf and Safety rule will see mother of baby Jesus ride into Bethlehem on a Donkey wearing HARD HAT

Health and Safety chiefs have put paid to a church's plans for a realistic Christmas nativity play -  by insisting that Mary wears a crash helmet as she rides into Bethlehem on donkey back.

The open air play, organised by The Bridge Church, in Neath, near Swansea, will see Mary don the hard hat and instead perch her traditional shawl on top as she rides the real donkey.

The animal's owners have insisted the schoolgirl must wear the protective head wear in keeping with council guidelines and their insurance policy.

Church youth worker Mark Barrett, 44, said: 'We’ve been advised that any young child riding a horse or donkey needs a hard hat for health and safety purposes.

'The owner of the donkey has asked us to do this to make sure we’re in keeping with council guidelines and his insurance policy.   'We don’t really mind, we’ve just got to comply with it, we’ve got to do everything we can to make sure everyone is happy.

'Our stars will be the children taking part who are aged between six and 16 and the donkey.'

The school girl playing Mary has not been chosen yet but she will wear her shawl over the high hat hiding it from view.

Mr Barrett added: 'Lot’s of children have been on donkeys at the beach so I don’t think we’ll have any problem finding a girl who’s comfortable with it.  'The donkey in question has been used on the beach before so he’s very docile.

'But a donkey is very high of the ground for a small child so it is better to be safe than sorry.


Helicopter parenting leaving adults stuck in adolescence

Amy (not her real name) sat in my office and wiped her streaming tears on her sleeve, refusing the scratchy tissues I'd offered. "I'm thinking about just applying for a PhD program after I graduate because I have no idea what I want to do."

Amy had mild depression growing up, and it worsened during the first year of university when she moved from her parents' house to her dorm. It became increasingly difficult to balance school, socialising, laundry and a part-time job. She finally had to dump the part-time job, was still unable to do laundry, and often stayed up until 2am trying to complete homework because she didn't know how to manage her time without her parents keeping track of her schedule.

I suggested finding a job after graduation, even if it's only temporary. She cried harder at this idea. "So, becoming an adult is just really scary for you?" I asked. "Yes," she sniffled. Amy is 30 years old.

Her case is becoming the norm for twenty to thirtysomethings I see in my office as a psychotherapist. I've had at least 100 university and grad students like Amy crying on my couch because breaching adulthood is too overwhelming.

In 2000, psychologist Jeff Arnet coined the term "emerging adolescence" to describe extended adolescence that delays adulthood. People in their 20s no longer view themselves as adults. There are various plausible reasons for this, including longer life spans, helicopter parenting and fewer high paying jobs that allow new university grads to be financially independent at a young age.

Millennials do have to face some issues that previous generations did not. A university degree is now the career equivalent of what a high school degree used to be. This increases the pressure on kids to go to university and makes the process more competitive. The sluggish economy no longer yields a wealth of jobs upon graduation.

It seems as if every article about millennials claims that these kids must all have narcissistic personality disorder. It's easy to generalise an entire population by its collective Facebook statuses. However, narcissism is not Amy's problem, or the main problem with millennials.

The big problem is not that they think too highly of themselves. Their bigger challenge is conflict negotiation, and they often are unable to think for themselves. The over involvement of helicopter parents prevents children from learning how to grapple with disappointments on their own. If parents are navigating every minor situation for their kids, kids never learn to deal with conflict on their own. Helicopter parenting has caused these kids to crash land.

The Huffington Post and the Wall Street Journal have reported that millennials are now bringing their parents to job interviews, and companies such as LinkedIn and Google are hosting "take your parents to work day." Parents went from strapping their kids into a Baby Björn carrier to tying their kids' ties.

A 2013 study in the Journal of Child and Family Studies found that university students who experienced helicopter-parenting reported higher levels of depression and use of antidepressant medications. The researchers suggest that intrusive parenting interferes with the development of autonomy and competence. So helicopter parenting leads to increased dependence and decreased ability to complete tasks without parental supervision.

Amy, like many millennials, was groomed to be an academic overachiever, but she became, in reality, an emotional under-achiever. Amy did not have enough coping skills to navigate normal life stressors - how do I get my laundry and my homework done in the same day; how do I tell my flatmate not to watch TV without headphones at 3 am? - without her parents' constant advice or help.

A generation ago, my university peers and I would buy a pint of ice cream and down a shot of peach schnapps (or two) to process a breakup. Now some university students feel suicidal after the breakup of a four-month relationship. Either ice cream no longer has the same magical healing properties, or the ability to address hardships is lacking in many members of this generation.

The era of instant gratification has led to a decrease in what therapists call "frustration tolerance." This is how we handle upsetting situations, allow for ambiguity, and learn to navigate the normal life circumstances of breakups, bad grades and layoffs. When we lack frustration tolerance, moderate sadness may lead to suicidality in the self-soothingly challenged.

Maybe millennials are narcissistic, like most 14-year-olds are. And maybe they will outgrow their narcissism later in life if 30 is the new 18. We don't have the data on what millennials will be like when they're 40. But more importantly, they need to learn how to cope.

Amy is still figuring out how to grow up. After a few months of therapy and medication to stabilise her depression, she started exercising to help relieve anxiety. She started online dating, something she found daunting before, and got a girlfriend. She started applying to post-graduate courses but also made a list of places she wants to apply for jobs. Amy still has no idea what she wants to do when she grows up, but she's a little less frightened of it now.


Men's and women's brains are VERY different

Men! Useless at discerning a woman's true feelings, deaf as a post when a baby is crying and utterly incapable of performing more than one task at a time.

Women! Forever getting overemotional, completely hopeless at map-reading and liable to go into meltdown at the prospect of parallel parking.

Men and women moan continually about the supposed shortcomings of the opposite sex - but now brain scientists have found a real reason for the stereotypical differences in male and female behaviour.  Women's and men's brains are wired in fundamentally different ways.

Neurologists used magnetic resonance imaging (radio-wave scans that produce detailed images of the inside of the body) to study the brains of almost 1,000 volunteers.

The differences between the genders were so profound that men and women might almost be separate species.

Men generally have more connections within each hemisphere and between the front and back of the brain.

In women the stronger connections usually run from side to side, between the left and right hemispheres.

In essence, what this means is that men are more logical and better at coordination and spatial awareness. Women are more intuitive, have greater 'emotional intelligence' and better memories for words and faces.

The research was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Ragini Verma, of the University of Pennsylvania, who led the study, concludes that male brains are geared 'to link perception with doing' - so men would be better at, for example, learning a new sport.

Female brains, meanwhile, are configured to handle matters of heart and mind and to study others' behaviour, then interpret it using intuition and analysis.


The genders also respond to pain differently. It has been known for years that women feel pain more than men.  Most chronic pain sufferers are women, and twice as many women as men get migraines.

Indeed, when it comes to migraines, the highly connected, emotionally sensitive female brain might be the problem.

A recent study of migraines by experts at Harvard Medical School's Centre for Pain and the Brain suggests that women's and men's migraines are different.

Their MRI scans of sufferers  showed that women's 'emotional circuitry' played an active role in their migraines far more than men's. This suggests that stress and negative feelings such as anger may play a much greater role in sparking women's migraines.

In fact, emotions seem to play a much greater role in magnifying the intensity of pain felt by women. Canadian investigators have shown that, while women generally report their pain sensations as being much more intense than men's, the disparity does not result from any difference in chemical pain messages. Rather, it seems to be determined by the amount of anxiety the women are experiencing.


The case against progress

By Marta H. Mossburg

Human moral progress is not a given, as progressives would like Americans to believe.

Take the ancient punishment of stoning, for example. A report in The Wall Street Journal earlier this week said the Afghan government is considering draft legislation to inflict as punishment public stoning on men and women who commit adultery.

Abdul Raouf Brahawee, the director of legislation at the Afghan Ministry of Justice told the paper that, “The Islamic Sharia instructs us to do so… There is a verse in the Quran about it.”

So much for 21st century enlightenment. Is this a case of former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton not properly communicating the importance of human rights and women’s rights – her number one priority? Or could it be that scientific knowledge and human nature are not fused at the hip but two distinct lines on the chart of life? It would be nice to believe in moral evolution. It’s very alluring to think that humans are inherently good and only need the right messaging or appropriate government prompts to create a more perfect union and world.

But it requires a permanent state of cognitive dissonance to accept it as true.

Look at Obamacare. People don’t seem to care that their previous health policies were “substandard” and the system immoral, at least to those who passed the legislation. Polls suggest they want both back, and so few are signing up for the new legally compliant and expensive policies that the system will blow up without major changes.

To take an older example, what about the War on Poverty? Has it done more to end poverty or impoverish the minds of generations of Americans who now take for granted being a ward of the state?

Even those at the top of society do not act according to the progressive worldview.

Psychologist and Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman wrote brilliantly in 2011’s “Thinking, Fast and Slow” about how even the smartest people make dumb decisions, limited in part by their own small sphere of knowledge and inherent prejudices. In one example he wrote about how he changed his method of grading after realizing how much weight he put on a student’s first essay to determine the quality of the entire exam. For example, if a student wrote an A essay for the first essay, he tended to grade the other essays higher, even if they were of lower quality because he had deemed that student an “A” student. The reverse was true as well.

And think about how people consume social media. Have we become more compassionate and more willing to give to those in need as we’ve become more connected? Not according to giving statistics, which show Americans’ charitable contributions holding steady as a percentage of gross domestic product over four decades.

Could it be that Facebook, Instagram and Twitter merely serve as platforms to amplify our best and worst traits and everything in between?

For those who see human existence as a long march of progress it might be unsettling to think that some of our biggest achievements do not improve who we are as people. But as Joan Didion wrote in “Slouching Toward Bethlehem,” “when we start deceiving ourselves into thinking not that we want something or need something, not that it is a pragmatic necessity for us to have it, but that it is a moral imperative that we have it, then is when we join the fashionable madmen, and then is when the thin whine of hysteria is heard in the land, and then is when we are in bad trouble. And I suspect we are already there.”

She wrote that essay in 1965 when “fashionable madmen” were not yet the establishment.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


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