Thursday, October 25, 2007

Trying My Hand at That Witty Sadly, No-esque Blogging

John Derbyshire over at National Review Online decides to put conservative thinking in its best light:

Startling Discoveries [John Derbyshire]

More from America's Newspaper of Record this morning. Headline: Stress Mess in U.S.

We're stressed out, we can't sleep, we're drinking too much—and it's getting worse.

Well, as a chronic somniac (i.e. opposite of an insomniac), I can sleep anywhere, anytime: ball games, movies, NR editorial conferences... no problem there. Drinking's a slight worry, though, I'll admit.

When did the NY Post become America's newspaper of record?
Forty-eight percent of Americans say they're more stressed now than they were five years ago, and the same percent report regularly lying awake at night because of stress, according to a new study by the American Psychological Association.

Oh, these "studies." That forty-eight percent could just be telling us that you feel more stress as you get older. Give us some good quantitative data. Did you measure stress? Did you measure it five years ago? With controls so the test groups are sufficiently similar? It's amazing what shoddy "research" these soft-science people get away with. Gimme numbers, gimme data. "Oh yeah, I definitely feel more stressed out than I did five years ago..." Uh-huh. Who can remember five years ago in that much detail? I'm pretty sure I was married to the same lady five years ago, and living in the same house. Beyond that it's all fog.

Derbyshire is now a real man a science? He seems to have made an elementary mistake: he took the NY Post story about the study to be the study itself. A simple error really.
"Stress continues to escalate, and it's affecting every area of people's lives," said Russ Newman, a psychologist and executive director of the APA.

Get a real job, pal.

???????????? Someone who writes professionally for the National Review is telling people to get real jobs? Derbyshire rolled out of bed, still hung-over from cocktails the night before, turns on his computer, has a brain fart over a NY Post article, and calls it a real day's work.

So what is it we're worrying about while we stare at the ceiling all night? Primarily two things: money and work, the main woes for nearly 75 percent of Americans.

In related news, dog bites man, sun rises in the east, courts strike down restrictions on illegal immigration, etc., etc.

That's way up from 59 percent of us stressed out over those two things a year ago.

Economies wax, economies wane, whatcha gonna do?

First he wanted comparative numbers, then he gets comparative numbers, then he poo-poos the comparison. Is he admitting that the economy was significantly better two years ago? Can we hold him to that?

We're also worrying about making the rent. More than half of people polled say paying the landlord or making the monthly mortgage causes great stress.

So maybe you shouldn't have bought that 8,000 square foot McMansion with a $1,200 a month heating bill on a 95 percent mortgage when you got promoted to Assistant to the Deputy Assistant's Assistant? Bad life planning.

If you're worried about paying the landlord, you obviously didn't buy a McMansion--or even a crappy shotgun shack. Does he really think 95% of Americans live in 8000 sq. ft. homes? That 95% of Americans work in management positions? That 95% of Americans are guilty of "bad life planning"?

The APA study was conducted online and involved interviews with 1,848 Americans nationwide.

An on-line study? So the subject group here is people on-line, with the time & inclination to participate in your study? Oh, that's well normed.

According to the report, all that stress and worry is taking a big toll on our lives, leading us to fight with family members, drink, smoke and give up on working out.

All things unknown in the U.S.A. five years ago. For heaven's sake: I've given up on working out at least 20 times, the first circa 1965.

If 20% of people experience x at time t, and 80% experience x at time t+1, that's called an INCREASE. To claim there has been an INCREASE in x is NOT to claim that x suddenly popped int existence.

"The high stress levels that many Americans report experiencing can have long-term health consequences, ranging from fatigue to obesity and heart disease," Newman said.

Goverment must act! Someone call Hillary!

If society makes us sick, maybe society should be altered in some way, y'know. But in Derbyshire's world, it's always peachy.

The study found that as a result of stress, 54 percent of people have fought with loved ones, and 8 percent say stress has led to separation or divorce.

...Which up to now have arisen from stress-free circumstances.

More than three-quarters of respondents say stress is making them sick, from headaches (44 percent) to upset stomach (34 percent) and grinding their teeth (17 percent). And then there's the not-so-healthy ways people try to handle all that stress, from eating junk food to tipping the bottle. Forty-three percent claim they eat—or overeat—unhealthy food to deal with stress, while a third say they lose their appetite and start skipping meals.

Plainly we need a federal Department of Stress Reduction. Or perhaps we could put Prozac in the water supply?

I'd settle for overthrowing capitalism, myself.

Drinkers and smokers report downing more booze and lighting up more often when feeling the effects of stress.

If these researchers aren't short-listed for a Nobel Prize, I'll want to know the reason why.

"Some people feel overwhelmed and out of control," said Beverly Thorn, a University of Alabama psychologist who was one of the researchers involved in the study. Thorn explains that people turn to bad habits when under stress—and that often makes them feel even worse. "It's a vicious cycle," she said.

Maybe they have the wrong bad habits.

If Derbyshire isn't short listed for the Pulitzer, we'll know why, too. Still, I have to agree with him that we need better bad habits--I would propose hacking the NRO site, or egging Derb's car, or the like. I imagine it would do wonders as stress relief.

But it's not all bad news.

So what's it doing in my newspaper?

More than half of Americans listen to music, read, or exercise as a way to alleviate stress. Others spend time with family and friends. More than a third say they pray when stressed out.

Hmm. I think I'll stick with the bad habits.

Advise to the Derb: stick to the drunk curmudgeon routine. It's much more charming than the social commentary.