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Emblematic extravagance: the homes of strongmen

We have been here before. From Baghdad to Bucharest, from Saddam Hussain to Nicolae Ceaucescu. Tyrants or strongmen, forced from office, whose homes become emblematic of the corruption and extravagance of the ancien regime.

The latest home to be held up to this strange scrutiny belongs to, the – seemingly – now former president of Ukraine.

Since he fled Kiev, scores of ordinary citizens, as well as photographers and journalists, have been wandering at will around the enormous house he kept an hour’s drive from the capital. There is marble and gold, chandeliers and ball-rooms. There is a golf course, a zoo, even a fake Spanish galleon. The list goes on; a litany of profligacy.

What is it about the men who exploit their countries in a fashion so predictable there is even a word – kleptocracy – to define their style of misgovernance?

And what is it that makes them want… click here to read whole article and make comments


Loneliness is bad for your health

The News Story - Extreme loneliness worse than obesity

A new study reveals that as damaging as obesity is to health, “chronic loneliness” rivals it. The study, reports the Toronto Sun, finds that “loneliness increases the chances of premature death by 14%, which is as much of an increase as that caused by being overweight and nearly as bad as poverty in terms of undermining an individual’s long-term level of health.”
This news comes at a time when, according to the story, increasing life expectancy has left an ever-greater number of the elderly alone. One expert even advises that retiring to Florida, far away from loves ones, might not be the best route for senior citizens.
What the story fails to mention is the impact that increasing rates of divorce have had on loneliness. In addition to living longer, seniors are also divorcing more. Divorce effects… click here to read whole article and make comments


The economics of sex

Ever wonder why men seem to make less effort to pursue women, there are more break-ups and premarital partners, and marriages are later and less often? It’s all about the economics of sex – the demand, the supply and the cost. Oh, and the impact of the invention of the contraception pill.

This nifty video, by the Austin Institute for the Study of Family and Culture and shared by the NY Post, puts it all rather perfectly - right down to the fact that women hold the cards in consensual relationships but are not always aware of this.

Watch it for yourself, or read below where I’ve broken down the main points. Bet you’ve never considered sex in this light before!

Sex is an exchange


British contraceptive service admits an uncomfortable truth

ippf adAn International Planned Parenthood ad.

When I was in Sydney last May, a headline in the free MX newspaper handed out in the underground caught my eye. “Contraception education failing the young”, it announced and went on to say that half of all pregnancies in Australia aren’t planned. Young women were sticking with “the most unreliable forms of contraception”.

What were these forms? “A national study by Queensland University and Newcastle University has found the contraceptive pill and condoms were the most common methods of contraceptive among women aged 18 to 23.”

“Oh,” I thought to myself. They aren’t telling us that in England.

But now they are. Or rather, the pro-life press in the UK has picked up a report from the British Pregnancy Advisory Service which tells the same story. What is interesting is its authorship, since BPAS is one… click here to read whole article and make comments


Common teen behaviours linked to depression

Too much media, not enough sleep, and little exercise. Sound like your average teenager? Yes, and worryingly so, according to a recent article by Time Magazine. New research shows that a combination of these three behaviours puts teenagers at risk of mental health issues.

Coined the “invisible risk” group, these teens fly under the radar compared to their traditional counterparts – whose state of mind was easier to identify through their conduct (including skipping school, drinking excessively and doing illegal drugs). Instead, their unremarkable behaviour is a lot harder to pick up and puts them at a larger danger.

Really, it’s not all that surprising when you think about it. In terms of social media, more and more studies are finding that immoderate use can make a person feel unhappy –leading quickly to retreating into oneself, and creating or deepening insecurities (from comparing oneself to the seemingly perfect online lives of others).… click here to read whole article and make comments


What daddy’s little girl learns from her father

We often use the phrase "daddy's little girl", but I don't think fathers realize just how much impact they have on their daughters. 

A recent article by author Tara Hedman, an American mental Health counselor who specializes in women's issues, listed 25 things that little girls wish they could tell their fathers. They seem simple but to be honest, I doubt that many men are aware of them.

The messages girls get from their dads when they are young, and still twirling in frilly costume skirts, are the ones that they will take with them when they’re all grown up. This is especially so in two areas: how a girl values herself, and how she expects to be treated by men. I’ve picked the related ones out below – they are definitely worth taking into account if you're a father, you know a father, or hope to be a father one… click here to read whole article and make comments


Simple things make a happy marriage

The News Story - Want a happy marriage? Say ‘I love you’ ten times a week

A recent survey of 1,000 Americans on what makes for a happy marriage yielded some fairly predictable results.
Couples said that spending quality time together was key, as was “being able to have fun and having three shared interests and taking two holidays a year together.”  Couples also believed that kissing and telling their spouse “I love you” at least ten times a week was a crucial part of the marital glue. The happiest couples, the survey found, had sex at least three times a week.
It may be unpopular, but plenty of research indicates that the very best marriages rely not on equal division of household labor, female employment, or even, as some studies suggest, limiting how many children you have, but rather on plenty of plain, old-fashioned… click here to read whole article and make comments


Mothering in the work-life balancing act

mumandbabyRecently the UK Department for Education – not always a friend of the family – published a big study it had commissioned. The research examined the attitudes of working mothers.

Few areas of home life excite so much controversy and strength of feeling. So this is an area of debate where data, hard facts and the empirical experience of real people carry particular force.

And what were the findings of this study? Here is how the Daily Telegraph reported them: “Middle class women are deserting the workplace in droves to look after their children, an official study shows.”

Golly. That is some claim. Surely the irresistible drift of policy in recent years has been to propel women into the workplace – and away from the home – with inexorable energy. Tax and benefits steer mothers back to the career coal-face. Government ministers laud women who climb the greasy pole of the professions,… click here to read whole article and make comments


Passing on your faith to your kids

It’s something I’ve definitely wondered about before – what makes a child either take on or resent the faith of their parents? There are so many possible factors at play in a child - their temperament, school, friends, and interests. But according to a recent article, research (and a new book) by Professor Vern L. Bengston show that there are a few major influences.

Leading by example. This may seem like a common-sense finding, but it’s important - if parents actually live out their faith, their kids are more likely to appreciate the beliefs. Even if on a subconscious level, kids can definitely sense the duplicity of saying one thing and doing another. Also, this factor is made stronger if both parents hold the same beliefs, which gives more unity to the upbringing of their children.

A good parent-child relationship. No matter how great the example of a parent, if a child doesn’t… click here to read whole article and make comments


What should schools do about bullying?

We have to bring children back into orbit around the adults who care for them. Kids should also have some responsibility for younger children. This creates a natural hierarchy, so that kids don’t substitute their own peer hierarchy.

This is the last of four videos on bullying, published by the Institute of Marriage and Family Canada. Dr. Gordon Neufeld is a renowned Vancouver-based developmental psychologist. imfclogo

click here to read whole article and make comments


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