Dr. Phil, 14 Years Is Enough

Since 2002, Dr. Phil McGraw has made unnecessary stardom out of psychology.  A specialist in forensic psychology, Oprah Winfrey chose him for advice on some case years ago, and he got his own show.  The rest, as they say, is history.  And that history spanning 14 years has just never makes any progress.

In today’s episode, first to be profiled was a 12-year-old girl who was extremely homicidally violent and it got so medically based he had to surrender this case to the realm of psychiatry.  With the help of an MRI radiologist, a prescription was dropped from her profile, a diagnosis was proposed, and she was behaving herself better.

But did they really need Dr. Phil?  They could have gone to a local psychologist and/or psychiatrist, and settle the matter there.

The other story covered was a grown man addicted to video games, perhaps as an excuse for a blood disorder.  Now Dr. Phil has nothing to do with blood, so he shouldn’t even go there.  Leave that to cardiologists and hematologists.  As for the relationship with his wife and child, psychology or even plain marital/family counseling could fit the bill.

See?  The white flag was flown twice.  Also, a few years ago, via Internet, he was equating a suicidal nature to not fearing death.  In reality, though, suicidal thoughts mean wanting to die, a completely different thing.  Could this be his misapplied forensic training haunting him?

In the ending credits, as usual, despite being an “advice” show, you’ll still need a professional for genuine advice.  (Just like the medical shows “The Doctors” and “Dr. Oz.”)  But I personally wouldn’t (pardon the pun) recommend any one with an social or emotional problem to Dr. Phil.

After all, are these matters really our business?

Globetrotting with Google Maps

On a tight budget?  Afraid of planes?  No worries, you can see the world with Google Maps!

I’ve looked at some European lands already, including the Nordic lands of Denmark and Sweden.  Due to a dream about traveling through what was (supposed to be) Mexico, I went to Google Maps, and I pulled up the state of Chihuahua (and there were no dogs running around!  LOL)

Chihuahua, MX
A desert road in the Mexican state of Chihuahua.

Since I was traveling through the desert in the dream, I thought it was more appropriate to showcase such in this blog post today rather than an urban scene.  From what I remember from the dream (remember, dream details, as usual, tend to fade quickly), the desert had commerce in certain pockets, with one chain restaurant, I picked a random rural road, and got as close to the dream as you can get.

Any other ideas for a virtual trip, be it foreign or domestic?  Just type it in Google Maps.

I must advise you, however, that this method is no substitute for going there.  You’ll see the region, but won’t experience it.  No social interaction, no cuisine, no folk dances, etc.  Overall, no cultural encounter.  And not only are some roads and streets not represented, some entire lands, particularly North Korea, are off-limits.  (I wonder if Cuba is, now that we’re getting more friendly with them.)

A perfect analogy, being a college student as well as an overall lifelong learner:  taking a college course on a subject give more “meat” to it than simply reading a textbook on such, sans the instructor (one thing I struggled with for quite a few years, until I figured it out and came to terms with its imperfection).  A textbook will present the facts, and perhaps explain them quite well (depending on the title, as well as the existing knowledge base and intelligence of the person reading them).  But you will not have a lecture or homework, and in the case of science subjects, a lab.  Moreover, without the professor, you may not get the exact information that the text is trying to convey, and of course, none of his/her additional factoids.  But, sometimes a text alone is enough when you want to read it “just for fun” rather than by assignment, despite the inevitable trade-off.  (By the way, now that I have settled down on Biology as a major, most of my other textbook pleasure readings, at least for now, deal with other subjects outside the curriculum.  But after graduation, there may be other texts, read for fun, that may lie in the domain of biology (namely, subjects not offered or taken), as well as outside.

The trade-off is the same with Google Maps.  Of course, in keeping with that analogy, for business travel, Google Maps is not an option.  But, for pleasure, it’s up to you if you want a more superficial “travel” through Google Maps or a real trip to the actual destination.  And if you can’t do it, so be it, just like my own academic dabblings outside my intended major of Biology.  Since in either case, I’m “dabbling,” I’m content.

Don’t be a stranger!

Do insects get trapped in water drops? Why aren’t they constantly drowning?

I posted a question on an entomology (insect) blog (which you can see here), and look at what me (along with some others) got in return in this post!  Click the source link for the post.  Never underestimate the power of the blogosphere!
Frankwmcarr Question: Is it true that very small insects (e.g., ants) can get trapped inside water drops due to the high surface tension forces of water? We got this question in the comments of Nan…

Source: Do insects get trapped in water drops? Why aren’t they constantly drowning?

Why Majors Give College Its Identity

College students, who make up a fraction of the high school graduate population (since, remember, college is not for everyone), may be viewed as an “elite” group that want to further their studies in a particular field, which would correspond to the “major.”  And of course, the major, or area of specialization, is just that:  the knowledge of one student’s major will probably be of little relevance to another’s plans.

I currently attend the Community College of Philadelphia, hoping to transfer to a university in a few years.  I am registering to be a biology major, and shall do the same at the university to follow.

You can now see the material covered in a biology major would have little relevance to an art major, a political science major, a sociology major, etc.  What is taught in one major would be quite irrelevant to someone seeking a career in another.  You would hardly use information beyond your major in the career you would expect to pursue.  For example, I was recently browsing through some geology texts in Amazon’s “Look Inside” feature, which allows you to preview select books.  While I could definitely understand the material and do the work of such a major, geology is not a profession I would like, and the subject doesn’t hold my interest as much as biology anyway.  So it would be unnecessary to “dabble” in that field (or any field beyond your major) in that amount of depth.  (At least it was good I made such a judgment.)

Of course, you do have the “general education” courses, that can expose you to fields beyond your major, but in less depth than the corresponding major lineup.  The emphasis here, however, is breadth, exposure to a number of different kinds of courses.  This presents a trade-off; you usually can’t have your cake and eat it too.  Of course, if you double major (which many colleges offer), you can dabble in a second area, but it seldom has an advantage over the standard single-major approach.  Minors are a common practice, and while the courses are equivalent to that of a major, the difference is that of quantity, that is, fewer courses.  But since employers tend to pay little regard for minors, it is often a good way to prepare for a hobby or side pursuit.

Moreover, with the Internet now, there are scores of things you can dabble in, but of course, you won’t have the instructive support of a professor.  The Web is useful when you need something for a “quick-reference,” but for an in-depth analysis of a subject, schooling may be more appropriate.  But if you’re already done college, your trajectory in life is probably already set (especially concerning your career), and it would not be worth getting another degree just to merely learn about something.  God has guided you in the direction he wants, and you should be content with what you already have (Phil. 4:11, 12).

No wonder Solomon’s quote in Ecclesiastes 12:12 says excessive study “wearies the body.”  You should be able to draw the line when it’s time.  We were meant to work, indeed (typically) longer than our studies.  Information is always increasing (especially in this very century we live in now), but our personal knowledge capacities are the same.  And that’s a good reason to have specialization.  Polymaths and other generalists are basically a thing of the past, as there was less information out there then.

US President Barack Obama planned to make community college free, rendering half of a four-year (bachelor’s) degree, or an entire associate degree for direct entry into the work force, affordable.  Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders, who is more of a socialist, patterns much of his politics after the Nordic lands, and hopefully (within the domain of state universities) plans to make bachelor’s degrees free.  These policies are a little too good to be true, since again, college is an elite group.

Knowledge may be power, but only enough in certain fields.  The “bliss” of ignorance of other fields certainly holds true as well, and indeed acts as a balance.

Don’t be too smart for your own good!


Across the Decades

Late this month is my 28th birthday.  A loose sketch of my life thereupon being born in 1988 works like this:  80’s baby, 90’s kid, 2000’s teen, 2010’s twenty-something, etc.  The key word here, however, is “loose” (I turn 30 in 2018, turned 20 in 2008, and reached both adult “gateways” of 18 and 21 in 2006 and 2009, respectively).

An FM radio station in my metropolitan area (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA), which I lovingly refer to as “Oldies 98” though it is no longer called that anymore, and for a very good reason:  1970s and 1980s music dominate (especially the former), with limited 1960s content and two special shows on Sundays entering 1950s territory.  One of which, from 7-10am, is devoted to the King of Rock and Roll (Elvis Presley), the other a doo-wop show from 9 pm to midnight.  (For those readers, e.g., Europeans, who do not observe “am” and “pm,” as far as I know, that would be 21:00 to 0:00).  Otherwise, 1950s content is not in the domain of that station.  Early 1990s music is on the rise as well, by the way.  Before you know it you will see mid-to late 90s content.

TV commercials from the 1990s and before are always showing their age.    What was new becomes old, and the old just gets older.  I only have two years to go until I hit 30, considered a tough birthday by some.  But for me, big deal.  It’s a birthday, period.  Just because it starts a decade in life doesn’t make it any more weighty than one’s 29th or 31st birthday.  And birthdays are for celebrating, not mourning.

I must say I have much in common with the Boomers and Gen X generations.  The Gen X-ers are coming of middle age, just as the Boomers are coming of old age.  I like books (as the blog’s name suggests) more than websites, and if the latter, prefer to print them out.  I prefer landlines over cell phones (especially if they have the classic “letter-based” numbers.  I appreciate technology, but great wisdom and judgment must be in its use.  Despite the fact Google and Wikipedia nearly killed the standard reference systems as you can find in a library.  I still enjoy encyclopedias (especially Britannica, which is, alas, now only offered online for a premium; the print forms and even CD/DVD software are no longer manufactured.  I get it free through my local community college).  Yet again, Google has its purpose, and we must be content with the 21st century methods of research.  But it also is the leader in pornography and other objectionable content, so wisdom is relevant there too.  No doubt about it, I am a “conventional Millennial.”

Age aside, you may ask, does this make me less “youthful?”  The question, though, is irrelevant, all of life is to glorify God.  Youthful or not.  I probably won’t get my bachelor’s till my early 30s, but who cares?  It’s a “quality over quantity” issue.  So it doesn’t matter how close to retirement I am; it’s about what you do, not how long you do it.

“Ob-la-di, ob-la-da, Life goes on, bra, La la, how the life goes on”