Trick or treat time

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Halloween, like any holiday where there’s money to be made and fun to be had, is a big deal in North America—and not just for kids. Some adults (mostly on the younger side, one presumes) see it as an opportunity to indulge in equally outlandish dress and behavior; older adults decorate their homes and yards for up to a month in advance and stockpile candy in anticipation of roaming hordes of trick-or-treaters.

Neo-pagans and Wiccans do their seasonal thing (think, fellowship and decorative gourds, not human sacrifice). Some Catholics hold All Saints’ Eve parties for children or the whole family (those of Mexican extraction turn it into a six-day fiesta and commemoration); other religious denominations shun it altogether.

A lot (like me) do little more than carve a Jack O’Lantern and allow their kids to do an hour or two of trick or treating in the local neighborhood. (And no,… click here to read whole article and make comments



“The welfare fate”

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A few days ago we posted two articles on the American welfare state on the MercatorNet front page. They inspired Christopher Spellman, a search engine marketer and MercatorNet fan living in New York state, to create this cartoon. 


welfare state

Thanks, Chris. You hit the nail on the head.

click here to read whole article and make comments



Swedish working mothers not so happy after all

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Why is the mental health of working Swedish women among the worst in the developed world? Isn’t Sweden the Mecca of work-life balance, where heavily subsidised childcare and other family friendly policies make it a model state for women’s equality?

Maybe, but something seems to have gone wrong. Over the last two decades in many OECD countries younger workers increasingly have been exiting the workforce on disability pensions (mainly related to mental illness and back problems) but the psychiatric trend has been more pronounced among younger women, and most pronounced of all among Swedish women workers.


New cases of disability pension among women 20–29 and 30–39 years of age. Graph: BMJ

Because of the “heavy socio-economic burden” on countries that this trend represents, researchers from the Division of Insurance Medicine at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm set up a study of all women born in Sweden between 1960 and 1979. By analysing… click here to read whole article and make comments



Are married folks happier than those who cohabit?

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The short answer, according to a recent study, is Yes, No, Maybe, and It depends.

“Marriage, Cohabitation and Happiness: A Cross-National Analysis of 27 Countries” is co-authored by Kristen Schultz Lee (University at Buffalo, SUNY) and Hiroshi Ono (Texas A&M University). The subject is complex, delving into the impact on relationships of economic factors, religious context, and societal norms, such as attitudes towards gender roles.

At 34 pages (including appendices) it’s a daunting read (hint: skip to pages 20-23 and read the conclusion). The researchers are to be lauded for their attempt to be comprehensive (27 countries: over 40,000 respondents, age 18-75) and thorough, but they admit to an “underrepresentation of developing countries”. For instance, not a single African nation was represented in the study.

One doesn’t wish to be dismissive, but if that’s not a fatal flaw for a purportedly international study, it comes close to skewing data beyond the… click here to read whole article and make comments



Electronics in the bedroom add pounds to kids waists

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"If you want your kids to sleep better and live a healthier lifestyle, get the technology out of the bedroom," says Canadian public health professor Paul Veugelers. I guess he would be talking to the converted on this blog, but at least it is reinforcement if you get into an argument about it.

By “healthier lifestyle” Dr Veugelers basically means “not getting fat”. He led a study of nearly 3,400 Grade 5 students in the province of Alberta which showed that as little as one hour of additional sleep decreased the odds of being overweight or obese by around 30 per cent. The study also confirmed a link between getting less sleep and having electronic gadgets in the bedroom.

Half of the students had a TV, DVD player or video game console in their bedroom, 21 per cent had a computer and 17 per cent had a cellphone. Five… click here to read whole article and make comments



The case against same-sex marriage in five minutes (video)

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In case you missed it on the Conjugality blog:

When it comes to the behaviour of its citizens a government has only three options: it can promote, permit or prohibit their behaviour. Here are the reasons government should promote natural marriage and not support same-sex marriage. An excellent five-minute video.


click here to read whole article and make comments



The next big thing in sex-ed: the evil of heterosexism

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If you were worried about sex education classes that encouraged sexual relations between teenage girls and boys, you might now have something even more serious on your plate: indoctrination of kids against "heterosexism".

A report in the Australian Daily Telegraph today reveals that a programme teaching that it is wrong to regard heterosexuality as the norm for relationships is being piloted in 12 schools in the Australian state of New South Wales. There’s a similar programme in the state of Victoria. Academics and sexual libertarian groups such as Family Planning have had a heavy hand in them.

The target of these programmes is not just anti-gay discrimination and bullying but something much more radical -- what the theorists of the sexual diversity movement call “heteronormativity”. Training for teachers in the Proud Schools scheme advises them to “focus on the dominance of heterosexism rather than on homophobia”. Watch out for that other… click here to read whole article and make comments



HPV vaccine gets behaviour tick

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hpv vaccine

A study showing that vaccination against the human papillomavirus (HPV) is not linked with increased sexual activity amongst teenage girls has had wide coverage in the news today. Reports note that among parents who have decided not to have their 11- and 12-year-old girls vaccinated against the sexually transmitted, cancer-causing disease, concern that it might encourage promiscuity is a major concern.

Several studies based on self-reports have indicated this concern is misplaced, but the new study offers more robust evidence:

They selected a group of 1,398 girls who were 11 or 12 in 2006 — roughly a third of whom had received the HPV vaccine — and followed them through 2010. The researchers then looked at what they considered markers of sexual activity, including pregnancies, counseling on contraceptives, and testing for or diagnoses of sexually transmitted diseases.

Over all, in the time that the girls were… click here to read whole article and make comments



Anders Breivik’s mother

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At the time of the mass murder perpetrated by Norwegian Anders Behring Breivik last year I commented -- like others -- on the killer’s broken family background, in particular the absence of his father from the time he was one year old.

Recently another Norwegian, Aage Borchgrevink, has published a book which reveals another side to Breivik’s family experience -- the mental ill health of his mother, the Telegraph reports.

Psychologists reports going back to her son’s babyhood note that Wenche Behring is “a woman with an extremely difficult upbringing, borderline personality structure and an all-encompassing, if only partially visible, depression” and who “projects her primitive aggressive and sexual fantasies on to him”.

After Breivik's father Jens Breivik lost a child custody case with Ms Behring, social workers recommended that the boy nonetheless be removed from his mother to prevent "more severe psychopathology" from developing, a request that… click here to read whole article and make comments



What’s really wrong with the economies: the baby dearth

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While looking at a new outbreak of Boomer-bashing in the US media -- provoked by continuing economic woes and the election --I came across a columnist in the Atlantic magazine who gets what the basic problem is. “Demographics are economics,” says Derek Thompson. How true.

One way to think about the Great Recession is like a great pause button.

In normal times, millions of people get married in their mid-to-late 20s. They spend lots of money on a wedding. They buy a car, often with a loan. They buy a house, always with a loan. They buy new furniture and appliances. With their time and money coupled, expenses that were once extraneous now feel reasonable. Maybe he was individually satisfied with sports bars and she with Netflix, but as a couple, it makes more sense to watch live sports and TV shows on their new… click here to read whole article and make comments


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Family Edge looks at news and trends affecting the family in the light of human dignity. Our focus is the inspiring, creative, humorous, annoying, ridiculous, and dangerous ideas in the evening news. Send tips and brainwaves to the editor, Tamara Rajakariar, at tamara.rajakariar@

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