Middle aged dads are evolution’s heroes

Mike the Psych's Blog

Forget your lean testosterone-driven  alpha male.

It’s the men with love handles, slightly overweight,who live longer, are better at passing on their genes – and are more attractive to the opposite sex! A recent study of women in Latvia confirmed that such men are more sexually attractive than lean men.

It’s a mystery why men remain fertile for so long after they have passed their reproductive and physical peaks.

41a1gp0xwpl-_ac_us160_Richard Bribiescas, anthropology professor at Yale University thinks he knows the answer. In his book “How Men Age” he sets out a theory about pudgy dads which suggests that the slow ebbing of male sex hormones after the late teens is the key to longevity not just for men but also for women.

Most men become slightly fatter after fatherhood and find it increasingly difficult to build muscles as their testosterone declines. this however prolongs their lives and strengthens their immune…

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Day of the Dead

Mike the Psych's Blog

In Mexico and parts of South America they celebrate “Dia de Muertos” on 1 and 2 November which coincides with the christian festivals of All Souls or All Saints days.

Christian missionaries often repurposed pagan festivals for their own purposes but the people in these regions still combine older beliefs, which may go back to the Aztec’s Lady of the Dead,  who looked after the bones of the deceased, with the catholic church events.

They believe that, starting at midnight on 31 October, the spirits of dead children come through the gates of heaven to be reunited wit their families for 24 hours.

Altars are stacked with flowers, food including special bread “pan de puerto“, and drink with toys and candles for the angelitos. Folk-art skeletons and sugar skulls provide the final touches.000013-2

On the 2 November the spirits of adult relatives join them and…

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Hotels can’t get the small things right

For update click here

Mike the Psych's Blog

DSC02023The Times travel section has identified a list of things which it believes irritates us when staying in hotels.

  • Room -orientation tours – isn’t that just touting for a tip?
  • Overcomplicated light switches – absolutely agree. In Lithuania last week I still hadn’t worked out all the possible combination when I left. And getting back to your room to find your iPad or phone has’ charged because you turned off the power by mistake….
  • Too short kettle cords – yes I was on my knees looking for a socket.
  • Tiny teacups – or it my case those glasses they serve cafe latte in. I hate them.
  • UHT milk – horrible stuff, couldn’t agree more.
  • Klepto-proof clothes hangers – not see those for a while.
  • Bad Art – try a literary themed room!
  • Gauzy white curtains – or wooden venetian blinds which also let the light in.
  • Hairdryers – not a…

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Facebook is for losers

A while since I posted this but the evidence all suggests that using social media can make you feel inadequate by comparing yourself with artificially inflated/enhanced profiles & pictures or number of people who like you.

Mike the Psych's Blog

figure_bed_computer_1600_wht_14033Most people who use Facebook do so to add positive updates but generally people who use Facebook tend to be more frustrated, angry and lonely.

This might be because positive updates from their “friends” make them feel inadequate.

Now researchers at Ohio University have discovered that people in a bad mood turn to social network sites and look up people less attractive or less successful than themselves rather than those more attractive and more successful.

Given a choice of profiles to look at on a new social networking link called SocialLink participants who had been put in a negative state of mind – by being given poor feedback on a test – spent more time looking at the profiles of people who were less attractive and less successful.

The message is if you’re feeling bad look for someone who’s feeling even worse and regain your emotional superiority.

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It’s…

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Dumbing down that smartphone

icon_flow_smart_phone_loop_500_wht_9550Have we reached smartphone-peak?

Have we finally realised we need to unplug ourselves from endless apps and social media connections? No more anxiety from FOMO or FOBO?

The NoPhone might have been a prank by two Canadian entrepreneurs having a dig at the latest smartphone upgrade but now there is a real alternative: the Light Phone.

It’s the size of a credit card and can make calls and store 10 numbers and that’s it. Retro or what?

It will be launched in the US by two friends, Joe Hollier and Kaiwei Tang, who used to design Motorola phones (I loved my flip-top Motorola) but grew jaded with the constant pressure to come up with increasingly addictive and life-consuming apps.

If you believe the statistics – and I find these figures unbelievable and not sure of their source – we tap our phones on average 2,617 times a day with almost 90% of us unable to resist checking our devises at leat once between midnight and 5.00 am. I am clearly an outlier in these statistics and in my usage despite blogging and using several twitter accounts.

Another survey from Deloitte however seems to confirm this trend with users aged 18-24 the worst offenders in that they are the ones most likely to use their phones in the middle of the night. These people are truly addicted and as Paul Lee, who led the research at Deloitte says “Consumers will need to learn how to run their lives with smartphones, as opposed to having their lives run by their devices.

Another trend is that of using video calls and social networks rather than standard voice calls which are declining. (Perhaps people like the idea of free calls and encryption?) A third of the respondents in the survey said they hadn’t made a voice call in the previous week.

Deloitte’s Key findings:

  • One in three UK adults has argued with their partner about using their mobile phone too much, according to Deloitte.
  • The rows were most common among 25-34 year olds the report found, while 11% of over 65s admitted arguments about overusing phones.
  • About a tenth of respondents admitted using their handsets “always” or “very often” while eating at home or in restaurants.
  • A third said they regularly used their devices while with friends or watching television.
  • One in three UK adults – and half of 18-24 year olds – said they checked their phones in the middle of the night, with instant messaging and social media the most popular activities.
  • One in 10 smartphone owners admitted reaching for their phone as soon as they woke up – with a third grabbing the device within five minutes of waking.

However it’s also been reported that a few famous showbiz people have said they are giving up social media and doing a digital detox but I’ll believe that when I see it. They are too narcissistic to be away from their digital followers for long.

nokia-n70 150px-nokia_3310_blueThere is however a market for old Nokia phones, such as the 3310 and N70, which are selling for hundreds of dollars online (I never liked Nokia phones with their fiddly keyboards but for a time they ruled the world).

But back to the Light Phone. It will sell for $100 in America and should be available in the UK by the end of the year. It shares the same number as your regular phone forwarding calls to it. It’s called “going light” – no emails , games or apps. Perfect when you’re out for a meal or enjoying some quiet time in the countryside.

One of the inventors said  he was constantly checking what other people were doing on social media and it was chipping away at his own contentment. (See post about social media and depression which proves his point).

I found I was getting lost in these scroll holes. I would come out not necessarily feeling good about myself. My smartphone was sucking me in. As soon as I stepped away – I call it breaking through the fomo threshold, getting over the fear of missing out, I felt free“.

He said he realised he was happier in those disconnected moments “when I can watch a sunset, appreciate my friends. We want to make a product that helps people appreciate their lives, not control their lives”.

The Light Phone is not a substitute for a smartphone but a supplement, but if it allows you to get away from all the social media intrusion. “Even just 20 minutes for a coffee“. He doesn’t see it as a retro regressive step but as asking the question about what we actually want from technology.

images-1It reminds me that I’ve got a simple Motorola W220 phone I bought in Lithuania 10 years ago to use on my regular trips out there.

No camera, less than £50, on a “pay as you go” contract. But it’s a flip top. It  might be so retro it’s trendy!

Does “the terrible twos” actually exist?

s1030647_2I’ve never agreed with the idea of the “terrible twos” and now a former teacher, coach, and therapist has come out and said what many of us have long thought.

Tantrums are caused by lax parental discipline and unrealistic expectation rather than being an inevitable part of child development.

9781785831089newGillian Bridge, in her new book The Significance Delusion says this behaviour is peculiar to the UK and the USA where there is an acceptance that toddlers’  frustrations are worked out in “semi-feral behaviour labelled the terrible twos” which doesn’t exist in many other parts of the world.

She says visitors to the UK are often baffled by misbehaving toddlers and either had higher standards of behaviour for their own children or were more indulgent of childhood without having expectations about a child’s self-control. Some thought Brits expected too much of their youngsters.

In more traditional cultures in Asia and Europe children are expected to learn quickly about hierarchies and the fact that adults had more rights than children because they had more knowledge, wisdom and experience. (Perhaps a lesson to be remembered as children get older and parents want to be their best friends on social media).

In Britain however toddlers are routinely taken to places where they are unlikely to behave well such as a pub or the cinema. “We take our children to an awful lot of places and get them to fit in with adult arenas which we wouldn’t have thought appropriate years ago” Bridge told the Times.

To make maters worse parents often ignore the ensuing meltdown or try to discipline them when their behaviour shouldn’t be unexpected in such environments.

She says this is apparent at the nursery gates where “harassed Mums and Dads … vainly attempt to restrain their struggling, squawking tinies or hopelessly give up on the attempt“. She says people view this almost as a rite of passage.

She added that parents are inconsistent and often didn’t behave to the standard they expected of their children.

Another so-called expert and super-many Jo Frost says these are the 5 areas where parents make mistakes.

Sleep – ensuring both parents and children get enough – and on a regular routine.

Food – establishing good eating habits and appropriate nutrition

Play – teaching children to socialise by playing and sharing

Screen time – no more than 30 minutes a day for toddlers

Manners – set a good example by behaving as you would like your children to behave.

I would include in that not smoking, getting drunk, or swearing in front of them – or is that too blindingly obvious?