Mental Health in the Public Sphere

Million Muppet March

Here is the article!





This post is in response to a blog that Professor Papoulis posted a few days ago about the new Big Bird motif for the Obama campaign. This is an article about a massive protest against Romney’s plan to end public broadcasting in the form a muppet parade. This parade is one example of how this image has caught wild fire in the public sphere.  I think the reason why this image has blown up is because it shows weakness in Romney’s campaign. People say that instead of trying to eliminate the important social problems of today like unemployment or war (something along those lines) Romney has decided to target Big Bird- an innocent lovable muppet from the beloved children’s TV show Sesame Street.  Low blow? or valid point?



Jim Lehrer’s Performance

This is an article about Jim Lehrer’s recent performance in the presidential debate, as well as his personal persepctive on the matter.


Mr. Lehrer has been a target of intensifying criticism from partisans and analysts who complain that he did not sufficiently probe the candidates in the first two debates and was not particularly aggressive in following up his questions. The result, these critics say, is that the nominees were let off the hook on vital matters and the debates meandered to the point where they verged on being downright tedious.

I agree with the critics. I am upset that Lehrer allowed for so many important topics to get overlooked.  There was definitely a point in the debate when he could have been more assertive and interjected with a probing question ins tead he sat back and let the candidates run the show. Obviously that didn’t work out too well… How do you guys feel?

Psychopaths Catch a Break?


With relatively recent speculations concerning the Colorado shooter’s mental health, this recent study caught my eye. The article questions whether it is fair for criminals with mental disorders should have their sentences reduced due to their genetic conditions. I have a hard time with this question. On the one hand you look at the crime such as the shooting and you think – unforgivable, but on the other hand you feel a distant sympathy for the killer because they are “sick”, suffering from their mental disease.  I think it depends on the severity of the crime as well as the severity of the mental disease.


Below is another interesting article relating the Colorado shooting with American’s psyche.

Voter I.D Laws?!

This is is a video about voter i.d laws. Warning vulgar language! But its really funny!


Student-Athlete? Or Athlete-Student?


Are college athletes being exploited by the NCAA and their schools?


“March Madness” is a fitting title to bestow on the month in which one of the most prominent annual sporting events takes place – the NCAA Division 1 Men’s Basketball Championship.  The widely publicized coverage of this tournament has nailed it into America’s pop culture.   Every spring, as the snow begins to melt off branches, fans begin to fill out their brackets, battle over nose-bleed seats, and raid the apparel racks of stores in search of their new-found heroes.  Davis, Lamb, Sullinger, Barnes… it is sometimes hard to remember that behind these names are real people, real boys, and more importantly, real students.  It is also hard to realize, amid the glamor, that these young men are being unfairly exploited in their education and in their finances by their own schools as well as by NCAA league.

As a female “student-athlete” attending a NESCAC college, I openly admit that I have experienced only a fraction of the pressure and time commitment that the young men on these top Division 1 teams go through each year.  While I admire their skills and dedication, I have come to value and appreciate the emphasis placed on the balance between academics and sports in the NESCAC league. The NESCAC schools ensure that student-athletes receive the same educational opportunities as any other non-athletic student.  After all, as the NCAA states, we are “amateur” athletes and the vast majority of us will “go pro” in something other than sport.  The line between amateur and professional gets rather vague in Division I athletics.  Too often, the young men preforming in March Madness and other popular American sports, such as football, are treated not as amateur athletes but as professionals minus the pay.

It is impossible to imagine that these young men, who are putting ungodly hours into their sports in preparation for tournaments like March Madness, are receiving the same educational benefits as any other student.  Consider the time commitment: for practices, two hours a day, minimum; for games, at least three hours from pre-game warm-ups to post-game meetings; for workouts, an hour a day; for travel, whole weekends on the road; for recovery, at least a full night’s sleep.  Add a science lab, an English paper, and a French quiz on top?  It seems close to impossible!  To compensate for a student-athlete’s lack of time, it is well-known that members of these high-level teams are frequently advised to enroll in less demanding courses into order to ensure acceptable grades while maintaining their focus on their “amateur-level” sport.  This amounts to a compromised education.

Supporters of this system and even some athletes may argue that they are attending that college because of their sport and not for the academics. Athletes argue that their future – a lucrative future – lies in professional sport. I ask these athletes and their supporters to take a serious reality check. What are the odds that they make it to the professionals? 1.2% of NCAA basketball players get drafted to the NBA.  Ok, so what if they do make it?  The average career of a professional football player is estimated to last 3.5 years, and that is if they are lucky enough to escape without any major career-ending injuries. At 28 years a professional athlete’s career could be over, so what now?  I bet those athletes could use that education they put second way back when.

Another aspect of the athlete’s exploitation is financial. Although there are scandals and rumors of players unlawfully pocketing money from their respective school in reward for their performances and of recruits showered with “gifts” to lure them, it is easier to stick to the well-known facts. Schools do well by their athletes.  Combine the ticket sales, the concession sales, the apparel sales, the special event sales, the publicity sales, the alumni donations received… the money adds up.  Sport is big business, even at the college level.

So my question is: Are the athletes benefitting as much from the school as the school is befitting from them? I argue that they are not.  Responsible schools – that is, schools interested in educating not just exploiting their athletes – need to unite to set limits to protect athletes, need to learn how to accommodate these athletes’ schedules and give them the chance to “do college” as well as sport.  At the same time, athletes need to be realistic and take responsibility for their future beyond any sports career.





Homogenized Beauty

This is an article about “homogenized beauty” going global.

My mother went on a trip to South Korea this summer to teach children american literature. When she came back she obviously had plenty of stories to tell, but one that struck me as interesting was her take on Korean beauty. She told me that the number one plastic surgery procedure in Korea is the rounding of eyes. Essentially this procedure makes the Asian eye into a more Westernized eye with the addition of a creased lid.  My mother commented on how it is so sad that not only are American girls stuggling with vanity and beauty trends, but woman of different cultures are struggling to keep up with ours as well and I completely agree.

I am posting this article because one, it has to do with the intersesting phenomenon of “homogenized beauty” and two, because i feel as though it has to do a lot with social psychology and the mind.

Are there other instances where you guys see woman of different cultures changing their traits to fit the western stereotypes?


Stop Spending on Special Education?!

This article is about a study released this week by the Thomas B. Fordham institute.  The study focuses on making cuts in special education in order to save the country money.

This article really upset me.  In the panic of discovering the solution for our nation’s debt a lot of ideas cross the public sphere -good and bad. To me, this is a bad one. Levenson makes the claim that some school districts are over-staffing their special education programs in comparison to regular education programs. This is not an invalid arguement for two reasons. One, it is impossible to accurately compare a special needs student with a regular student, and two, special needs students NEED the extra staff.  Special need children often cannot process information just by listening to one instructor speak. They require the aid of multiple instructors  for full comprehension of their studies. Levenson gave to compromise of reducing the number of staff, by hiring the most qualified ones. I find this compromise to be too idealistic. The chances that there is a qualified special education instructor and aid in every school district is highly unlikely.

This is article is unfair and hopefully is not taking too seriously.


Teenage Depression

Here is a link to article about the dramatic rise in teenage girls dealing with depression between the ages of 12 and 15.

Being a girl,  I was immediately attracted to this article. Although the numbers and research may be new, the issues of body image and female stress hormones in relation to the brain is an age old one.  I think the fact that these issues are occuring earlier and earlier in teenage girls should be blamed on the current media system.  The media, specifically  television,  advertising, and magazines, is coming at us from all angles almost every moment of the day, but the difference lies in the way teenage girls, and the female gender in general, absorbs the information as opposed to males. Take any cover model on a female oriented magazine. A girl will look at the cover shot and immediately judge the model on her looks, clothes, ect. and proceed to compare herself to that image. It is very sad, but true. The more accessible the media becomes the more this trend will continue in young women, and that is scary.

47 Percent?

Here is a link to a video posted about Romney’s recent controversial comments at a private high dollar fundraiser.

Do you think this video will have an effect on the polls?

Romney’s slip of the tongue is an amazing example of just how powerful language can be in the public sphere. Romney clearly spells out his conservative beliefs using biased words such as “dependent”, “victims”, and “entitlement”.   All three of these words hold terribly negative connotations, and each word sheds a harsh light on the supposed helplessness of present-day Americans. He goes even further to say, “My job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.” It is as though these words are coming from a strict father scolding his rebellious children. Romney lost a few votes on this one for sure!

Obama Takes Action on Vets’ Mental Health

Read this article!


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