Forms and rates of violence against children, by gender of perpetrator

I recently encountered one of the best articles to elucidate the proportion of female perpetrators of domestic violence:
“An estimated 56 percent of abusers of all kinds [of violence against children] are women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The most common form, psychological abuse, can be as damaging as physical abuse.” - EZineWorm; also available under ‘Freud Was Right: Mean Mothers Scar for Life’ 
Straight from the source:
“Who abused and neglected children? For the analyses included in this report, a perpetrator is the person who is responsible for the abuse or neglect of a child. For 2008 … Women comprised a larger percentage of all perpetrators than men, 56.2 percent compared to 42.6 percent” – U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, ‘Child Maltreatment 2008’

Terrorism versus climate change

I recently had a chance to interview Monash University academic Dr Luke Howie, who is studying the effects of September 11 upon our collective psyche, and how we should manage the perceived threats of terrorism.

While writing the bio-piece, I realized the enormous disparity between how our over-response to the infinitesimal risk of terrorism, and our miniscule response to the substantial risk of climate change.

Helen Garner's True Stories and the old guard

I recently began re-reading a few articles in Helen Garner’s collection of non-fiction, True Stories (1996). I originally bought the book in 2000 as my non-fiction writing lecturer had prescribed it to us.

Garner is, without a doubt, a good writer. One of the things that I strongly remember is her ability to take even seemingly incidental, or personal events - and then extrapolate such instances into general social commentaries.

Why we shouldn’t let school interfere with children’s education

Is it possible that the biggest obstacle to improving state schools is our reliance on them?

I don’t just mean to repeat my old rant about how formal training can actually be a distraction to learning. Rather, it is that parents (and perhaps society in general) seem to be using schools to outsource the moral, social, and intellectual development of young people. We are not just overemphasizing formal education, but also underemphasizing the informal times and places that such young people are learning: everywhere, and all the time.

Entangled identities, the precautionary principle and gender profiling in ‘Schrödinger’s Rapist’

In her post ‘Schrödinger’s Rapist’, Phaedra Starling argues that each man carries the burden of proof that he is not a rapist until he can prove otherwise, and that in the mean time, it is correct for women to treat them as opportunistic. Specifically, she cites an anecdote where Stepchick blogger Rebecca Watson felt threatened after a man asked her out for coffee, while they were in an elevator together – and argues that doing so was a form of violence by the man. Richard Dawkins has weighed in on the debate with the following:
“The man in the elevator didn't physically touch her, didn't attempt to bar her way out of the elevator, didn't even use foul language at her. He spoke some words to her. Just words. She no doubt replied with words. That was that. Words. Only words, and apparently quite polite words at that.”

Web Cuttings - October 11th, 2011

Web cuttings: a collection of ‘me too’ moments on the intertubes.

Brad Feld is similarly sceptical about the use of titles to flatter and bribe employees:
"I’ve never paid much attention to titles. This is especially true when I’m involved in helping recruit someone for a company. I’m much more focused on what the person is going to do and what they’ve done in the past than what their title is (or was). Every now and then an obsession with title is a positive trait as it drives an important discussion about roles; most of the time it’s an annoying obsession with title."

The great state of Vermont should apologize for its cheese

In Australia today, our liberal, democratically elected government enforces laws that restrict us: for example, prohibiting advertising of cigarettes, and enforcing the use of seat belts in cars.

These interventionists, nanny-state laws go against our general libertarian bent. However, we accept such restrictive laws because most of us would like to inhabit a society where people are healthy and safe.

“Beings are not things, they are processes” - Tim Flannery on climate change and the fate of the world

On October 7, 2010, I had the chance to attend an evening with environmental scientist Tim Flannery and journalist Virginia Trioli at Melbourne’s Athenaeum Theatre.

While his earlier work The Weather Makers: the History and Future Impact of Climate Change (2005) describes the problem, he has used his latest book, Here on Earth: An Argument for Hope (2010), as an opportunity to constructively, and optimistically, discusses the possibilities before us.

SlutWalk and the violence of language

The parade of SlutWalk has past, yet its thesis remains - verbal assault, whether by men or women, is the forerunner for physical violence; when people, including women, call others ‘sluts’, they are ‘tagging’ them as fair game for sexual assault.

“SlutWalk is a protest and subversion of the way in which the word ‘slut’ is used police women’s (and gay men’s, and trans people’s) sexualities - who we sleep with, how we sleep with them, what we wear, where we walk at night,” Rachel Hills comments. “In particular, it’s a protest of the way in which the word ‘slut’ is used to scare, shame and invalidate sexual assault victims.”

While the problem is clear, the responsibility lies with more than just a handful of chauvinistic cops. Women are not the only victims, and men are not the only perpetrators.

Are we destined to become morally conservative in our old age?

I was recently talking to some friends about our parents’ views towards gay and lesbian people. It turned out that we could not credit our respective parents with acceptance of homosexuality, so much as with tolerance: instead of internalizing current social norms, they have simply managed to mask their unfashionable prejudices.

Being a moral relativist, I asked everyone what each thought our own ‘ideological Achilles heel’ might be when we reached that age. One of our friends mentioned polygamy. All of those at the table were part of a monogamous couple, so it was a valid argument, albeit a delicate one – and not one that we were likely to explore in much depth, even over a few tequila cocktails (as the case was).

Project management hack #3: Getting good, prompt feedback, and using it

The rapport that can build between a research candidate and their supervisor(s) can result in the best mentoring experience you will ever have. However, regardless of how well you get on with your supervisor(s), it is not a good idea to rely on them as your only reality check, especially over a three-year long project. For one thing, the feedback you get from someone on tenure might not be a good indication of how the wider public will receive our work.

Project management hack #2: Setting specific goals

Just as with prototypes after testing, goals invariably change mid game. Pennies can drop; light bulbs can flash only when we have come to a particular point in a project. New technologies, literature, or requirements can emerge – even while adapting initial technology, responding to a client’s initial requirements. There will often be discovery – and we should be receptive to it.

Project management hack #1: Focusing on technique (as opposed to outcome)

In life, there is no endgame.

Even the grandest crises are a chance to learn, adapt, try different techniques, and improvise. The latitude we have for developing and refining new techniques in a project – whether we are writing an 80 000-word thesis or rolling out a student management system – is truly enormous. Obviously, we do not always want to be experimenting wildly. For instance, if we want to develop our ambidextrous abilities by writing with our inferior hand, and so better channel our creativity, a literature studies exam is probably the worst time to start. Moreover, if we have a proven method available when saving a life, we should probably defer to tradition. Otherwise, however, we can apply deliberate practice to the performance – not just the dress rehearsal.

Project management hacks: an introduction

I recently finished a ten-month stint on a project implementing a new software system, where I picked up more than a few lessons about how not to run a successful project.

Applying these lessons right back into a project context scares me though: I have no ambitions for leading other professionals, managing a project, giving pep talks, or pontificating with generic sound bites of project management wisdom. However, I am interested in how I might apply some of these lessons to a somewhat more ‘academic’ project: a Doctor of Philosophy candidature.

Benefits of hiring ‘bums’, job hoppers and mini-retirees

Employers are like romantic partners – each is different. Just as in a relationship, colleagues can get sick of us constantly comparing our current role to previously held roles, or namedropping prominent clients. Being single for a while and out of a relationship, whether it is romantic or corporate, can help us to approach a new date, or a new client, with a fresh perspective. The problem is, however, that employers - much like serial home breakers with a thing for married men or women - tend to exhibit a preference for hiring from the ranks of the employed.

Education's forgotten stakeholder

Between scholarships for college-drop-outs, and commencement addresses at art and design colleges, the issue of the value of tertiary education has been getting plenty of airtime.

Yet it is important to keep in mind that there are significant differences between the U.S. - where most of the online commentary is originating from - and other countries, particularly Australian, in terms of the relevance of tertiary study and employment rates. After all, the U.S. is in the throes of what some online commentators are calling a higher education bubble and a jobs depression.