Sunday, August 24, 2008

Woman Stymied In Drive For 'Beautiful Viking Baby

Listen to Scott Simon's description of a woman who insists on using the same Norweigan sperm donor for her second child because she wants her first child to have a full-sibling.

I agree with Simon's view that it is laudable when someone wants to parent a child of a different race. But Simon might be interested to learn about a study (presented at last weekend's APA conference) showing that full-siblings have less conflictual relationships (less sibling rivalry) than half sibs. The authors claim this indicates that kin selection is at work: we are more altruistic to those who share more of our genes.


Michalski, R. L., & Euler, H. A. (2007). Evolutionary perspectives on sibling relationships. In C. A.
Salmon & T. K. Shackelford (Eds.), Family relationships: An evolutionary
perspective (pp. 230-256). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press

I wonder how the children know who is a half sib. Any thoughts, readers?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Olympics 2008 -- Too much bare female flesh on display for ya?

Not too much for me.

Some sports commentators have been complaining that we've been getting nothing but endless up-close tours of the bodies of Misty May and Kerri Walsh. (See post by the Neurocritic about increase in TV coverage based on skin uncoverage, and long, informative post at about sportswriters negative reactions to female gymnasts' bodies).

Let's not complain about seeing all this athletic female flesh. I hope lots of pre-teen and teen girls are seeing the muscular arms on gymnasts and "real sized" breasts. Normally TV is saturated with one type of female body, one that isn't attainable without surgery and unhealthy eating. Now we're finally getting to see another type of body, one that sends a message that women's bodies aren't just sex toys.

After so much bikini exposure to authentic female athletes in swimsuits (think of the chests on those female swimmers), maybe the famous Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue will see the logic of displaying Olympic athletes in swimsuits rather than models.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Every american should watch this film

"No talking! Shut the fuck up!"

"Head down!"

"What are you dong -- praying? That;s not allowed!"

"On your knees!"

Stress positions. Endless interrogations. Your American captors claim to have a video of you attending a rally for Bin Laden in 2000 in Afghanistan, but you know you were working a wage-slave job in your native Britain. You've got a British accent, but your face is middle eastern, so back on your knees!

No humans should be treated this way. See for yourself.

Official movie site.

Watch the film for free right now.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

American Psychological Association meets in Boston Aug 14-18, respects food workers labor negoations

Although the dues to be a member of APA are sky high, and attending the convention costs almost $300, I'm still going to be attending. My students are giving a poster, and I really enjoy hearing the diversity of big name speakers and attending sessions. And -- it appears that APA is doing the morally right thing to support food workers at the Boston Convention Center.

UNITE HERE Local 26 and the Hotel Workers Rising campaign have asked the public to boycott ARAMARK, a company accused by the The National Labor Relations Board of harassing and intimidating workers.

I learned after receiving an email from Judy Strassburger, APA's Executive Director of Governance Affairs, sent to all APA registered attendees.

Within the past month, we have been informed that ARAMARK, the company that provides food service at the Convention Center, is in negotiations with its employees, members of the Food Services Employee Union, Local 26.

While it is important to note that the Union is not currently on strike, there have been periodic demonstrations at the Convention Center over the summer. It is possible that picketers could be present during our meeting.

The Union communicated to APA that if we were to agree not to have any food served in the Convention Center during our meeting, they would not picket.

The APA agreed to respect the boycott, but was forbidden by its contract with the Convention Center to contract independently to have food served during the meeting. There are few restaurants in walking distance. The decision was thus to provide a free trolley service during lunch time to the restaurants that are beyond walking distance.

So -- I always like bringing a sandwich from home...

What can you do? Stay in union hotels -- "Hotel workers rising" provides this search applet. or list.

Update August 15 2009 -- At the conference, foodworkers were picketing, but for any atendees who hadnt received APA's memo, the dispute and action to take would be unclear. It appears that APA didn't cancel the contract with ARAMARK. There were food concession stands in the exhibit hall. I can understand how difficult it would be to have people attending a meeting from 8 am to 6pm without any food (or coffee) inside the massive building. So one strategy could have been for APA to post signs telling people about the labor negations, inform attendees that if they want to respect the boycott they should bring thermoses and food from elsewhere, or to purchase food at the union hotel next door (The Westin waterfront). Attendees would then make their own choices.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

A step more nuanced than "Do onto others"

The golden rule, "Treat others as you would like to be treated" is a great first approximation. The drawback, as Robin Abrahams has noted, is that not everyone wants to be treated in the same way. In the realm of etiquette, she suggests this formulation:

"Avoid giving offense or alarm; avoid taking offense or alarm."

or: "Be liberal in what you accept, and conservative in what you send."

More generous than "do unto others", its like the strategy that beats competitors for Axelrod's cooperation/defection game, "tit for tat plus forgiveness (pdf)"