This blog has been created to discuss the topics covered in my book : Beyond Discouragement-Creativity.
My goal is to post relevant news articles which both reflect and refute my opinions and observations. As a visitor, your comments would be most appreciated. - Bienvenue. À vous la parole.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

I haven't bugged you in a long time. . . So. . .

I don't blog often but when I do. . . I blog long. . . . . . .

So with no further ado. . .

I sometimes get the feeling that I am a negative reporter of what is. I apologize if I come across that way. But then, our societies and our world are not only places of abode but  environments which tone the colours of our lives. And that needs to be looked into - and dealt with. We can’t go around with our heads in the sand. We need to know and to feel deep down in our gut whether ourenvironment is conducive to positive or negative mental and physical health. For our children and grand-children's future well being, that is a must.

This is not to say that I don’t question what I have written in Beyond Discouragement-Creativity. I repeatedly do. Was I right? Was I self-righteous? Am I wrong to think the way I do? Are children really suffering from an environment which is not encouraging of individual thought and unique creative impulses? I am not a guru. I don’t have all the answers or even a few. I can only hope my words encourage dialogue.

And so. . . here are a few contemporary issues (as reported in newspapers of the day) which highlight my books commentary.

    The Ottawa Citizen via an article entitled : Rise In Drugs Used For Mentally Ill Youth (Nov 09,11) reports an increase of 114% in the use of antipsychotics, once reserved for schizophrenics and mania in adults. How can this be written about and nothing other than this done? Nothing. . .  But then. . .  They’re only kids. They don't fight back. . . And we need our peace don’t we. . . And specialists need their syndromes and quasi impossible to diagnose diseases. And pharmaceuticals need their profits  - especially where kids are concerned.

And what about the kids?

In the Globe and Mail recently, an article extolled the virtues of good teacher-student rapport - right from Grade 1. . . . . Good Teacher Rapport Curbs Aggression. (26-10-11) The article states that bullying is mostly non existent when teachers and students get along. . . . . .

Sometimes I think saying things like the grass is green and the sky is blue and red roses are red can sound really dumb. . . especially to those of us who still believe in common sense. Naturally, children get along better with each other if they feel wanted and cared for and paid attention to in class! Many of our grandmothers who had tremendous wisdom but no education whatsoever knew that without ever being told.

And after school?

Kids Drinking As Young As 12, UK Study Finds. (National Post31-10-11) Nothing new to those of us who recently walked to the grocers a quarter mile away. . . in an idyllic Irish village - encountering groups (not gangs) of kids already tipsy and giggly - bottle in hand. And this, not a half hour after school had let out. . . No one but we “away people” (we strangers)  seemed to be bothered by it. Cheers. . .

Suicide rears its ugly head

Parents Seek Answers On Suicide. (Nov 2011)  An article in the Ottawa Citizen mirrors universally expressed feelings as, once again, a teenager chooses death over life. How sad it is that, as always, we adults return to one dominant thought in such situations. That adolescence is the problem stage rather than the environment in which these and all teens find themselves. And that the adolescent is the one in need of change or adaptation

For all intents and purposes, and for anyone who might have their doubts. . . adolescence is a normal stage in the life of a human being, But that’s not how our free, fun, easy and lazy democracies see it. Adolescence, to us, is annoying. It disturbs our me lifestyles and that is irritating. . . Teens are the problem not US. . . They act up because they act up. And as long as that is so in our minds, nothing will change and teens will continue to live their lives and give up their lives because no one cares enough to invite and mentor them into the adult big house. 
Teens are no longer children. They are naturally wannabe adults. That is angrily, upsettingly  and frighteningly the next stage in the evolution. But adults near and far don't see it that way. And as long as we perceive an adolescent to be not one of us, not worthy to be encouraged, not apprentices in adulthood, they will fall away from us - and far too often away from themselves.

Time for us to grow up.

Define prevention. . .

US Advisers Recommend HPV Shots For Boys. Gardasil’s sales hit $1.1 billion worldwide in 2009, So an Ottawa Citizen article reports (26-10-11). . . I guess if giving shots to girls has had this effect on “the economy”, adding boys to the HPV bandwagon just might boost sales to a record high.  (Sarcasm aside) I find it rather odd that we are willing to give our children HPV prevention shots (which are all about sex many of them wouldn't even have begun thinking about) but we cringe at teaching them sex-ed which would render them knowledgeable, more mature minded and safer. We are a bizarre lot.

The Globe and Mail (05-11-11) reminded me once again that article titles are what sell papers - not content. The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective Lesbian Families is sensational in its announcement though rather universal in much of its content. As far as habits go, none of them cited can legitimately be appropriated by any couples or group be they gay or straight. They’re simply common sense.

I can’t help but wonder if lesbian and gay parents would have been upset had the article been written under the title : The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Straight Families. 

As for the information presented which relates directly to parents and children of lesbian mother households, the article is truly informative, highlighting the fact that many of us could be more sensitive to both parents and children in this family construct as well as any other type (other than straight) of family arrangement. Hell, we're all in this together.

In essence, what I am saying is that gay parenting is straight parenting is parenting. The less we separate one parenting position from another, the more we respect parenting for what it is - the mentoring job of any and all adults in our “villages” to do the right thing by our children. Parenting is NOT ABOUT US!!!!! It’s about teaching and mentoring and encouraging and guiding children. It's about being responsible adults - whether gay or straight.

So back to too many highs. . .

Antipsychotic Drugs For Children May Be Overused (National Post).  (Reallllly?)

At the same time that I comment on advisors in the US wanting to add HPV to a boy’s life. And in another article that there is a 114% increase in the use of antipsychotics with children. . . I also read on November 9, 2011 that overuse of drugs with children is becoming a complication issue. . . .  Now, why am I not surprised? 

Further questions should be : Why are so many drugs being used on so many children? How did our children get to be sicker than any other generation of children before them - since the beginning of time??? How did we get this far without taking into account the possibly that we could be (and are) over-dosing our youngsters - rendering the success of their futures questionable if not impossible?

At the same time as we are purportedly over-drugging brattychildren in North America, Canada now wants to add jail time and punishment of a harsher nature to children and youth (at a time when crime has been down so far in the past 20 years we can actually consider our world civilized (somewhat. . . ) Read: More Jail Time For Youth Harmful Experts Say. Bravo to those experts who actually know about youth and crime and are knowledgeable about child and youth mental health. Maybe they will have some informed say in toning down the self-righteous punishment rhetoric overtaking our societies. (Ottawa Citizen 26-10-11)

Last but not least, 2 articles caught my eye on this 21st day of November. They both remind me that 2 things very easily accepted today : mediocrity rather than talent and lowest common denominator effort as excellence. And some wonder why I rant about the lack of opportunity for encouraging individual thought and unique creative expression.

In regards to the entertainment industry, (more specifically the American Music Awards) reporters state internationally that the music industry celebrates success rather than talent. They imply that sales rather than creativity or excellence is being encouraged, awarded and rewarded. This is rather ironic since the media itself elevates the off-stage antics and addictions of stars and starlets to a level of side-show freakism that is rather yellow journalistic. But what about us? Are we not as titillated by the countless televison hours, newspaper and magazine column content which report all the nasty tidbits? Is being talented in the areas of acting, singing or musicianship even worth the trouble anymore?

The second article which struck me comes from today's first page of the National Post (21-11-11). It actually highlighted a point made in Beyond Discouragement-Creativity; offering up the following title: Statistics Can Prove Almost Anything, Study Finds. In other words, anything can be true (even outright lies) if you manipulate its elements, say it loud enough, long enough and anoint yourself with a title of specialist. Though the study professors specifically targeted psychological research, their findings are true when applied elsewhere - and possibly more dangerously so.

Selling patently false ideas is a much bigger business today than snake oil selling was in past centuries. It is so because we take too many things for granted. Today, anything can be true if it is sold as fact through the media, pseudo-research and specialist commentary. In the past, you’d take a gun to the ornery crook who cheated you out of your hard-earned gold nugget . Today, we have a lot more gold nuggets so we just say “what the hey”, sip on our latte and the crooks keep selling their snake oil.

The journal Psychological Science (of the Association of Psychological Science) confirms the above. It describes how easy it is to render outright lies to be truth. It’s all in the way of laying out and processing information in order to achieve a specifically sought after outcome. Eliminating that which does not fit a desired conclusion also plays a part in denying a truth or establishing falsehood as fact. The gullibility of an ever wanting (rather than in need) public also engages in the possibility of such research being undertaken without consideration for the resulting effects of false findings. Such research practice also allows a lowest common denominator consideration of what is valid or not as a studied finding. Over the years, may or may not, might or might not, possibly or possibly not, could or could not, should or should not have become acceptable scientific terms - at least in the media coverage of achievements. As stated in this article, science related to social (and I would venture) commercial psychology is more often prone to such manipulations of fact. Such descriptions of findings, though iffy in definition find themselves becoming acceptable as scientific terminology in the minds of a population.  Yet, these words describe a less than stellar  examination of elements which in a not so distant past would never have been recognized as professional or ethical. In other words we must come to realise that there has to be something more reassuring from our scientific milieu than : may achieve the intended results

We only have to read the lengthy and often times dangerous side-effects of drugs that we too commonly imbibe to know that all is not well in the contemporary world of commercial science. The authors of a study regarding manipulation (if not falsification) of findings (Joseph P Simmons, Leif D. Nelson and Uri Simonsohn) politely describe this conscienceless manipulation of factual research as researcher degrees of freedom. In other words : Anything goes if you can sell your idea to be true - and no one bothers to stop you in your tracks.

I’d rather teach our children ethics and to think and analyse before they too are duped into believing everything they hear or read.


I feel giddy. I feel giddy and witty and wild!!! (OK. I know the lyrics are wrong. BUT I have again been exonerated.) I am not the only person to be yelled at for saying our kids are dangerously fat.

In the Ottawa Citizen of today: (24-11-11) an article by Teresa Smith indicates that our lifestyles are not only becoming dangerous they are causing other ills. Eating habits MUST change if these weight related issues are to be resolved. The title of this article is: Quarter of Canadian Children Overweight, New Report Finds., This report does not say maybe, might be or could be. It indicates that for sure, definitely and dangerously 25% of OUR children are overweight.

So does that make me happy??? NO! What makes me happy (on a strictly selfish level) is that I no longer feel like I am in a wilderness of bad vibesfor saying this same thing for several years now. In other words, it's nice to know somebody else can sit by my side to be berated. Thank you journalist Teresa Smith.

And so, we come to the end of another of my reviews. . .

Let’s get on with encouraging others (especially our kids) to think and create for themselves. This world is ours to tame and be responsible for. And that won’t happen without action and without considering ourselves and our kids intelligent enough to know that what we see and hear, these days, is not what we often actually get.