Thursday, February 26, 2009

L.A. Times: Shaming Johns

This looks like another variation of the "scared straight" scams that are shown not to change impulsive behavior....

At first glance, it seems these schools shouldn't work, said Michael Shively, a researcher who recently completed the first comprehensive study of the San Francisco program for the National Institute of Justice. The one-day, throw-everything-at-them-and-see-what-sticks approach, he said, lacks the intense, targeted and longer-term therapy that is generally thought to be needed to change a person's behavior.

Indications are, however, that the classes are a relatively cheap and effective carrot to dangle in front of johns. California prostitution arrest records, Shively's team found, show that recidivism rates among San Francisco men dropped 30% in the decade following the launch of their john school. A newer program in San Diego posted similar results, he found.
I am skeptical of this statistic because a lot of things can change in 10 years. It depends on there being a credible control group (similar offenders assigned to a non-treatment social group). There is often a benefit in giving people attention of any kind, but the "scared straight" component is usually ineffective.

See my essays, Words Don't Work and Things You Don't Need: Addiction Treatment.

Blog: The Other US Airways Flight Crew Member

I didn't see any of the US Airways TV interviews, but this is amusing...

Captain Sully is First Class - Doreen? Maybe not so much...
(San Francisco Chronicle Culture Blog, 2/18)
Each crew member calmly and professionally related their experience to Katie. As I watched, I was amazed and impressed by their composure and humility. Someone book me a flight on US Airways! These people are saints!

Then Katie got to Doreen, apparently working the rear of the aircraft where everything was "violent" and "horrible." The other flight attendants spoke of stoic yet swift evacuation. Not Doreen. "Coffee pots were floating!" and my favorite line of the interview, "I just went crazy and started yelling at people and pushing people."

The camera cuts to the rest of the crew, all of whom, and this is probably just me, seem to be thinking, "Oh Lord, here we go again."
Given what flight attendants are paid and the low quality it attracts, US Airways was lucky that rest of them were composed.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

L.A. Times: Iceland is Steamed

Iceland is steamed
Its economic meltdown, and the violent reaction of its people, may be echoed worldwide.
(Los Angeles Times, 2/8)
By the mid-1990s, Iceland had, through dicey finance and lots of debt, launched its journey to becoming one of the world's most affluent societies. Fortune continues: "But the principal fuel for Iceland's boom was finance and, above all, leverage. The country became a giant hedge fund, and once-restrained Icelandic households amassed debts exceeding 220% of disposable income -- almost twice the proportion of American consumers."...

"It's official: capitalism is monstrous. Try talking about the benefits of free markets and you will be treated like someone promoting the benefits of rape."

Friday, February 6, 2009

USA Today: Facebook Friends Share "25 Things"

Hey, I done that. I see it as the point where Facebook came of age as a unique community.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Web Tools: Cool Background Image

This web page from some kind of gaming site has a really cool background image. I might use it someday!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

UK Telegraph: Television and Mental Illness

(UK Telegraph, 2/2)
That study found: "Other things being equal, the more a child is exposed to the media (television and Internet), the more materialistic she becomes, the worse she relates to her parents and the worse her mental health."

N.Y. Times: Crying

The Muddled Tracks of All Those Tears
Crying as Catharsis Isn't Always the Case
(NY Times, 2/4)
This passage caught my eye...
People who are confused about the sources of their own emotions — a condition that in the extreme is called alexithymia — also tend to report little benefit from a burst of tears, studies have found. This makes some sense. One purpose of crying may be to block thinking, to effectively seal off the flood of unanswerable questions that come after any major loss, the better to clarify those that are most important or most practical. If this psychological system is already clunky, a fire shower of tears is not likely to improve it.
Alexithymia is a very common ailment!

I was also intrigued by this...
“Crying, for a child, is a way to beckon the caregiver, to maintain proximity and use the caregiver to regulate mood or negative arousal,” Dr. Nelson said in a phone interview. Those who grow up unsure of when or whether that soothing is available can, as adults, get stuck in what she calls protest crying — the child’s helpless squall for someone to fix the problem, undo the loss.

“You can’t work through grief if you’re stuck in protest crying, which is all about fixing it, fixing the loss,” Dr. Nelson said. “And in therapy — as in close relationships — protest crying is very hard to soothe, because you can’t do anything right, you can’t undo the loss. On the other hand, sad crying that is an appeal for comfort from a loved one is a path to closeness and healing.

L.A. Times: "Flying Palace"

The 'Slumdog' fight
Some say the Oscar contender is 'poverty porn,' but that criticism misconstrues the nature of art.
(L.A. Times, 2/4)
These critics are angered by the fact that hordes of Pepsi-sipping, popcorn-munching, affluent Western audiences are entertained by a spectacle of India's poor struggling for survival in the slums of Mumbai. They're also upset that director Danny Boyle, a white guy, is being lauded for a film about India that just doesn't get it right, that's filled with cliches and exaggeration and people who are downright bad.

N.Y. Times: More Mass, Less Transit

St. Louis may be girding itself for some of the most extreme transit cuts in the nation, but it is hardly alone. Transit systems across the country are raising fares and cutting service even when demand is up with record numbers of riders last year, many of whom fled $4-a-gallon gas prices and stop-and-go traffic for seats on buses and trains.

Their problem is that fare-box revenue accounts for only a fifth to a half of the operating revenue of most transit systems — and the sputtering economy has eroded the state and local tax collections that the systems depend on to keep running. “We’ve termed it the ‘transit paradox,’ ” said Clarence W. Marsella, general manager of Denver’s system, which is raising fares and cutting service to make up for the steep drop in local sales tax.

The billions of dollars that Congress plans to spend on mass transit as part of the stimulus bill will also do little to help these systems with their current problems. That is because the new federal money — $12 billion was included in the version passed last week by the House, while the Senate originally proposed less — is devoted to big capital projects, like buying train cars and buses and building or repairing tracks and stations. Money that some lawmakers had proposed to help transit systems pay operating costs, and avoid layoffs and service cuts, was not included in the latest version.
This is of concern to me, since I rely on public transit wherever I travel to.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

L.A. Times: TV and Depression

Study links TV and depression
The amount of time teenagers watch television increases their risk of becoming depressed as adults, researchers find.
(Los Angeles Times, 2/3)
Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and Harvard Medical School looked at the media habits of 4,142 healthy adolescents and calculated that each additional hour of TV watched per day boosted the odds of becoming depressed by 8%.

WWII Posters on Waste

I thought these images were interesting: Posters from World War II about avoiding waste.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Las Vegas Home Prices Dropping by Half?

Moody’s projects the total decline in the market will reach 52 percent by the end of the first quarter of 2010, says Mike Helmar, director of industry services and an economist who oversees Nevada forecasts.

“We don’t have much good news for you,” Helmar says. “We do have them continuing to go down.”

The firm listed the median price of Las Vegas homes reaching a peak of $320,000 in 2006’s first quarter and projects it dropping to $153,000 by 2010.