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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

If Your Brown-Eyed Husband Wants More Sex, Do The Laundry and Look At Your Facebook Profile

My crossword puzzle this morning was a themed one, and its theme was Sigmund Freud.  I used to delve into Freud and his theories quite a lot when I was teaching The Catcher in the Rye because, well, holy crap.  There is a ton of Freudian reference in there.  Beyond that, I, like most thinking people, have little use for the rest of Dr. Freud's musings.  While I do see "talking therapy" as generally a good thing overall, I don't see The Mother as the root of all psychoses, to be admittedly simplistic.  Or sex.  And, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. 

But all that thinking about Freud was evidently simmering on my brain's back burner, for when a psychology story popped up on my Google News Page, I kept clicking and clicking and, before I knew it, I had found several fascinating studies that I just have to share with you here.  It's kind of a Pop Psychology Potpourri!

1.  The Facebook.  Here's a study that seems obvious.  Facebook May Boost Self-Esteem But Reduce Motivation.  "This is one of the first studies of its kind to use (the Implicit Association Test) psychology research tool to evaluate whether there are any psychological effects associated with using the online networking site....The Implicit Association Test involved asking the participants to associate positive or negative adjectives with words such as 'me' and 'myself'."  Basically, a bunch of people gazed at their FB profiles for 5 minutes.  Then they were given the IAT, which showed a marked increase in self-esteem.  After that, they were given a task, to count down from a large number by intervals of seven, then answer some general questions.  The FB people performed more poorly with relation to accuracy and speed.  "Who needs this crap?" the FBers seemed to indicate, "when I'm already so awesome and have 670 friends?"  Or, to put it in more scientificky terms, "The researchers believe that after spending time on Facebook people generally feel good about themselves, so there isn't as much motivation to increase self-worth by trying hard in the lab task compared to those in the control group." 

2.  Brown VS. Blue.  This particular study, Why Do We Trust Brown-Eyed People More? really caught my attention.  I have brown eyes, as do Rick and Jared.  Sam's eyes are changeable, but are usually green.  I first started thinking about the people whom I do not trust, and I could not really come up with anyone right off the bat except George W. Bush and Congress, and the latter has too many people to have this theory apply.  Then I started thinking of any blue-eyed people I know, and I couldn't come up with any.  Then I stopped hurting myself and just read the damn study.  Anyway, this study ends up saying that it isn't really the eye color that determines trust; in the final analysis, it is the shape of the person's face that goes along with the eye color, and in that case, it seems to be that only in men is it the deciding factor.  Women of blue eyes and brown eyes are judged almost equally trustworthy.  The study ultimately found that "brown eyed men generally have wider mouths with upward-pointing corners, wider chins, bigger eyes and eyebrows closer to each other, characteristics considered masculine and more trustworthy. On the other hand, men with blue eyes tend to make them seem more shifty, sporting smaller eyes and narrow mouths with downward-pointing corners."  For the record--Sam has large, round eyes, and his mouth is not narrow or downward-pointing.  He can, however, at times, be shifty.

3.  The Honey-Do List.  Ladies, this study could be a bitch if The Wrong People read it.  Husbands Who Share Housework Have Less Sex sounds like something commissioned by the GOP or the NFL or Budweiser or someone like that.  You and I both know that this whole study is bullshit, and let me list just some of the reasons why:

1.  The data is from 1992-1994
2.  It defines a traditional marriage as one where housework is done exclusively by the wife.
3.  It mentions a previous study whose research implied that "married men generally have more sex in exchange for doing housework."
4.  It found that sex "is associated with the kinds of chores each partner completes."
5.  This:  The researcher "does not believe that the division of household chores - which in this study did not include child care - and sex have changed much since 1994."

Please do not point out to me that a woman authored this study.  I hope she has already gotten the call to Turn In Her Card at an authorized center.  Her face will be added to the Woman Wall Of Shame, along with, well, you all know who They are.

I have just completed my own Psychological Study titled The Longer You Stay In Your Jammies The Less Likely You Are To Accomplish Anything Beyond The Virtual World.  It's taken almost two full years of intensive research.  When I get around to writing it up, I'll be sure to let you know.  In the meantime, do catch me up or sound off in Comments.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Don't Tell Them, But My Students Were Right


Last weekend, my sister Patti and I drove St. Patsy to Gettysburg so that she could spend a month with her remaining sister and my favourite aunt, Shirley.  She and her husband (my Uncle Dick) are former English teachers and avid history buffs, as is my sister.  So...I was pretty much in heaven.  We crammed as much Gettysburg Battle Lore into 36 hours as was humanly possible, leaving time for family stuff as well.

One evening, after a narrated tour of the Battlefield and a long-awaited, up-close viewing of the life-size bronze monument of General Longstreet, we drove to my cousin's home for a cookout.  (No, I did not eat outdoors.  Don't be ridiculous.  And my cousin did a very sensible thing that I must mention:  he had a large oscillating fan out on his deck.  Not only did it provide cool air from the woods behind, but it kept bugs away.  Marvelously smart, that.)  As we sat around talking, I was immediately reminded of something my students used to tease me about.

You see, throughout my teaching career, my students used to swear that, because I was so enraptured with literature and constantly stringent with grammar and spelling, my idea of fun would be to sit around and talk about books and pick apart sentences and grammatical errors.  To discuss symbolism in film and literature; to argue whether a character's dialogue was true; to discover themes in what we've read and seen.  I used to fix them with an icy stare and simply move on.

At the big family table, my sister, my aunt, my cousin Mark (a former radio personality, writer, and journalist), and I immediately started talking about books.  There is a new Lincoln book out, and Aunt Shirley wants me to read it.  I want her to go and see the new Gatsby film.  Patti had read a critical analysis of Gatsby and was rereading the book before she saw the film.  And then we were off.  Pretty soon, we went from there to everyday errors that irritate us:  further vs. farther, irregardless (aargh!), it's vs. its, and so many more.  It was absolutely wonderful.  My students, of course, were right.  There is nothing I love talking about more than books and The Language.  And there is almost nothing I like more than the company of other English teachers.  Or English-y people.  Even when we don't agree--Mark reads a lot of fiction, and you know how I feel about that--I find their company stimulating and engaging.

At one point, my aunt mentioned her church group, the name of which tickled me.  She is Episcopalian, and her group calls itself the Episco-Pals.  You know, pals, as in friends.  I got a charge out of that.  I was informed that when a committee was organized for some project, they called themselves the Episco-Planners.  "That's wonderful!" I exclaimed.  "You can form a study group for the works of Edgar Allan Poe and call yourselves the Episco-Poes!  Virtually anything that begins with P, really, can be EpiscoPized."  It's true, you know.  They can be the Episco-Painters, Episco-Pilots, and they can use their Episco-Power to stamp out Episco-Porn.

Okay, so, maybe not that last example.  But it's fun to play with The Language, isn't it?  I know that's not so just for those of us who used to teach it or write it for a living.  It's a very satisfying contrast for me, to revere The Language in the gorgeous prose of Fitzgerald's Gatsby, in the speeches of Lincoln, and in the clean beauty of Whitman's poetry, but also to be able to tease it and twist it like the EpiscoPuns, slang, and creative neologisms that arise from every niche of our world. 

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

It's Like Festivus In June

Scores of people have told me that, since My Retirement, I have become a Changed Person.  My family tell me things like "Welcome back" or "It's nice to have you back to your old self."  Other people who have not known me for eleventy thousand years say things like, "You are so much more relaxed" or "I've never seen you so happy."
Rick says I am more "serene."

On Saturday, my friend Butch, who has not seen me since about January, said, "Wow.  You're catching up to Rick in the grey hair department." 

Chivalry.  Dead as a flat skunk on the turnpike.

Anyway. 

My Serenity and Inner Smile notwithstanding, I still have a few things to snark about.  Do you?  Howzabout we share, here, at the Dept.?  I'll go first, and you can grouse around in Comments.

1.  Brrrrrr.  It is June, and I have my heat on right now.  Allowing for the absolute fact that I Am Not Normal, it's still abusive that last night it was 49 degrees in NEO.  It got so cold in my house without the heat on that my cheapo wine fridge refused to work.  If it is exposed to temps below 61 degrees, its thermostat malfunctions. Well, guess whose reds were at a frosty 57 degrees until I unplugged it this morning to recalibrate?  Right now, it is 64 degrees outside.  On June 4th.  It was 65 inside when I came home from the afternoon movie. I do not suffer in my house, so on went the furnace.

2.  Duh.  Speaking of the movie, my "daughter" Kait and I went to the noon showing of The Great Gatsby.  Until a few teenagers showed up, Kait--at 20--was the youngest person there.  (I was the second youngest, even though I used my AARP card for $2.00 popcorn and free soda.)  At the end of the movie (possible spoiler!) the narrator Nick Carraway is shown placing a title page on the manuscript of the story he has been telling for the whole movie.  It says "Gatsby by Nick Carraway".  As he is doing this, a teenaged girl behind us said, "Wait.  Wait.  Is this a true story?"  A few moments later, she said, "Hold on.  Wait.  I thought the book was called..." (another possible spoiler detail) and then in the scene, Nick is shown writing "The Great" above the title.  The girl behind us says, "Nick Carraway?  I thought the book was written by F. Scott Um..." and then I stopped listening because I knew that if I didn't, I was going to have to go back there and teach for about an hour in order to be able to go on with my life.

3.  Hello?  The media are all exercised about this Pew Research report that says over the last 50 years, many more women are the sole or primary breadwinner for their families, a figure jumping from 11% in 1960 to 40% in 2011.  Well, holy crap, where the hell has everybody been?  How many of my readers needed the Pew Research report to tell them that?  How many of my readers have been living that stat?  How in the hell can this be News?  I guess I shouldn't be so intellectually disdainful.  After all,
Erick Erickson, Fox News contributor says it's downright anti-science:

"I'm so used to liberals telling conservatives that they're anti-science. But liberals who defend this and say it is not a bad thing are very anti-science. When you look at biology -- when you look at the natural world -- the roles of a male and a female in society and in other animals, the male typically is the dominant role. The female, it's not antithesis, or it's not competing, it's a complementary role."

Hey, so there ya go.  Ahem

4.  Grrrrr.  I've said it here before, and I'll say it again.  Until she said that stupid, condescending remark about the Hurricane Katrina victims, I liked Barbara Bush quite a bit.  I still do like the way she speaks her mind and seems to be realistic about her family and politics.  Everyone knew she was fully aware that the wrong son made it to the White House, and when she said there have been enough people named Bush at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, she was right.  Jebby disagrees, however, and he is already starting on the stump for 2016.  When asked about his mother's assertion that their family should end their aspirations for the Presidency of the United States, here is what Jeb said about Bar:  "What can I tell you? All I can say is we all have mothers, right? She is totally liberated, and God bless her."

What can I tell you?  If either of my sons said any of that condescending and chauvinistic bullshit, I'd call him out in the media for A) using empty, meaningless rhetoric; B) stating the obvious; C) being full of hot air; D) acting like a candyass.  Barbara Bush has more restraint than I do, so I'm sure she did all of the above, but in private.  She is totally liberated...what a perfect ass.  Hey, Jeb!  If it were up to people like Erick Erickson in your party, women would never have been liberated, such as we are.  And we liberated ourselves, no thanks to you. 

And the struggle continues.

Your turn now to unload your snark in Comments. 
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