Four in Ten Americans Living Paycheck to Paycheck #Economy

couple-stress-over-bills-inside-house111-300x199More than four years since the economy shifted from recession to recovery, 36 percent of U.S. workers always or usually live paycheck to paycheck according to a survey released Wednesday by Another 40 percent say they sometimes do.

The figures are down from their 2008 highs and paint a rosier picture than a separate poll from June that defined check to check living differently. That survey had reported that three out of four Americans don’t have enough saved to survive for six months should they lose their jobs, and that 27 percent have no savings whatsoever. The survey asked respondents directly if they live check to check, producing the lower percentage.

The stress induced by constantly fretting over making ends meet has the same effect on the brain as constantly pulling all-nighters and can knock 13 percent off a person’s IQ according to a study released earlier this summer.

The press release for Wednesday’s findings stresses the slight improvement over previous CareerBuilder-commissioned surveys. In 2012, 38 percent of respondents reported living check to check, and CareerBuilder’s Rosemary Haefner calls that improvement “a sign that job security and spending power may be on the rise.” But direct data on the state of American worker earnings gives little indication of such improvement. Workers are making less than they did at the end of the financial crisis, in part because high unemployment allows employers to press more productivity out of their workforce without raising wages.

While workers have not yet bounced back from the financial crisis, bosses and corporations have. The ratio of CEO pay to worker pay hit 273-to-1 in the most recent figures. Bank profits are back to record highs five years on from the Wall Street collapse. Taxpayers continue to subsidize executive compensation, and executive compensation continues to be disconnected from actual executiveperformance.


Utah #Coach Suspends His Entire Team Over Poor #Discipline, #Cyberbullying To Teach Valuable #LifeLesson


“Always do what is right. It will gratify half of mankind and astound the other.”
― Mark Twain

(The following excerpt from Utah Coach Suspends His Entire Team Over Poor Discipline, Cyberbullying by Cameron Smith appeared on on September 26, 2013. To view it in its entirety please click on the link below.)

Matt Labrum had seen enough.

As the head football coach at Union High in Roosevelt, Utah, Labrum had watched his players receive discipline for skipping classes at school. He’d been more troubled by others who were accused of cyberbullying fellow teens. He didn’t like any of it.

So, after a loss to Judge Memorial Catholic High, Labrum told his team that as of that moment, they were no longer a team. All players — 80 in total — were required to turn in their jerseys and all equipment. No one would play football again until they “earned the privilege to play.”

Incredibly, the players say they have embraced the tough love.

“We looked at it as a chance to say, ‘Hey, we need to focus on some other things that are more important than winning a football game,'” Labrum told the Deseret News. “We got an emotional response from the boys. I think it really meant something to them, which was nice to see that it does mean something. There was none of them that fought us on it.”

The early results, as documented in this terrific feature from the Deseret News, have been remarkable. Players showed up at school the following day — a Saturday — at 7 a.m. and were told how they could re-earn a spot on the team. Teenagers have been cleaning up area streets as part of new team-mandated community service work. They are attending character classes during hours when they previously would have been practicing.

Just as importantly, the team’s natural leaders are starting to realize that they need to be more vocal and step in to help those teammates who go astray. A key part of Labrum’s decision to suspend the entire team was borne of his frustration that the players who did live up to his expectations were not rising up taking control of the locker room. Now, that is changing. Only two of the team’s seven original captains were re-elected during the team meeting the day after the Judge Memorial loss.

Others are reflecting on how their role as a member of the football team makes them role models in the town as a whole. Everything is changing, if slowly.

Are You As #Math Smart As An 8th Grader? #Fractions And Math Success


(This excerpt from Pop Quiz: Why Are Fractions Key To Future Math Success? by Sue Shellenbarger appeared on September 24, 2013. To view it in its entirety visit the link below.)

Many students cruise along just fine in math until fourth grade or so. Then, they hit a wall—fractions.

The wall is about to get taller. With mastery of the topic seen as a crucial stepping stone to progressing in math, federal standards are stepping up emphasis on fractions starting in third grade. National tests show nearly half of eighth-graders aren’t able to put three fractions in order by size.

The government is funding new research on more effective ways to teach the often-dreaded subject. The new methods preface early rote learning of complicated fraction rules with more work on building a conceptual understanding of fractions. And instead of traditional pie charts, they rely more on tools like number lines, paper models and games putting fractions in context.

Knowing how to place fractions on a number line in third grade is a better predictor of kids’ fourth-grade fraction skills than calculation ability, working memory or the ability to pay attention, according to a recent study of 357 children headed by Nancy Jordan, an education professor at the University of Delaware, Newark’s Center for Improving Learning of Fractions. The effect continues at least through fifth grade, based on recent research, Dr. Jordan says.

A child’s knowledge of fractions in fifth grade predicts performance in high-school math classes, even after controlling for IQ, reading achievement, working memory, family income and education, and knowledge of whole numbers, according to a 2012 study led by Bob Siegler, a professor of cognitive psychology at Carnegie Mellon University.

“If you don’t understand fractions, it’s literally impossible for you to understand algebra, geometry, physics, statistics, chemistry,” Dr. Siegler says. “It closes a lot of doors for children.” New federal standards known as the Common Core, which are being implemented in most states, require students to be multiplying and dividing fractions by fifth grade.

Raising #Girls: A Guide For Fathers #Parenting


There are few more-credible voices in this country on the subject of rearing boys and young men than psychologist Steve Biddulph, so when his latest tome Raising Girls turned his focus to females, attention was bound to be paid.

After the book was released in January this year, I was surprised by the tone of some reviews, including one by Kate Figes that ended with the sentiment “it might only be once a man starts talking about these issues their importance moves to centre stage”.

Another critique vapoured the heavy air of offence being taken; that it was perhaps inappropriate for a man, even one as professionally esteemed as Biddulph, to opine on the subject and folly to think anyone could cover such a complex topic in 250 pages.

Having written extensively about men, women and gender, I know you can’t help offending people, no matter how good your intentions or how carefully you phrase them.

Some people, particularly feminist bloggers and men’s rights activists, only see shit in their sandbox when you dare to venture into areas that have obviously caused them pain and frustration.

Often, you can offend both groups at once, as evidenced by the fact I’ll get back-to-back emails from readers accusing me of misogyny and being a “feminist mangina” about the very same article or post.

Biddulph, however, has bravely waded into fraught territory. As the father of a three-and-half-year-old girl, I found his book in turns gripping – when it specifically addressed many of my own challenges as a parent – and informative.

Mostly, however, it was hugely comforting in its message parenthood is not a one-shot deal, and we have lots of chances to get it right and raise daughters who are “wise, warm and strong”.

Irish reviewer Hugo McCafferty made the point back in May “having a daughter is the most amazing thing, but it’s also terrifying for a father.”

“There’s no point of reference, I know exactly how to treat a boy. Even in his most angst-filled teenage years I’ll just know when to push the issue or when to leave him alone, because I was there too and all I have to do is remember.”

But with girls, says McCafferty, “all help is welcome”.

I strongly concur and, as I’ve done many times in the past with Biddulph’s other works, I’d like to share some of his words with you in the hope they’ll spur you to pick up what I found to be an important and wise book.

One of his insights that rang particularly true with me was his breakdown of girlhood into five stages:

1. Security – ‘Am I safe and loved’ (birth – 2 years)

“As people respond to her needs, both physical and emotional,” writes Biddulph, “growth hormones, instead of stress hormones, flood her body and brain. She instinctively knows she is loved and safe. And she carries that inside her, always.”

2. Exploring – ‘Is the world a fun and interesting place?’ (2 – 5 years)

“She thinks, if people are going to stay close and care for me, I can relax and check out the toys, play in the garden, toddle across the grass, mess about with dirt and stones and leaves.”

3. People skills – ‘Can I get along with others?’ (5 – 10 years)

“She discovers she is not the centre of the universe.”

4. Finding her soul – ‘Can I discover my deep-down self and what makes me truly happy?’ (10 – 14 years)

“When your daughter gains identity through doing, and believing, and strengthening her inner world, she will be freed from the need for approval that haunts many teenage girls and makes them conformist and dull.”

5. Preparing for adulthood – ‘Can I take responsibility for my own life?’ (14 – 18 years)

“By steadying herself, and by receiving the welcome and support of older women, she can leave behind childishness and harmful gullibility, be accountable, connected to consequences, and proactive in making her life worthwhile. While life itself can deliver this realisation to a girl, leaving it to chance is a hazardous and unreliable way for this to happen,” writes Biddulph.

I’m sure many of you will recognise these or similar stages in children you know, perhaps even yourself. Biddulph also suggests that under stress, all of us are liable to “drop back a stage or two”.

“Think of those days when you just don’t want to get out of bed … or deal with people – that’s quite normal from time to time,” he writes, and it’s perfectly normal for young girls to do the same.

The stages are also not set in stone either, says Biddulph: “The nature of human beings is we can often recover things we missed out on, by getting them down the track.”

Thankfully, I’m pretty sure my daughter hasn’t missed anything so far, but what I found most reassuring about this first part of Biddulph’s book is it gave me a rough map of what to expect from my child in the years to come.

And as all men know – “it’s always easier when you have a map!” writes Biddulph.

Read more:

Beyond Amazon: How To Find That #Book You’ve Been Looking For

12458059-pile-of-old-books-with-keylock-and-magnifying-glassSearching for a book you remember reading as a child, college student, or happy dropout, but haven’t seen anywhere since? On the Web, there are now numerous ways to expand your hunt beyond Amazon. Abebooks ( is a consortium that connects you to thousands of used-book stores around the world. Another search site is the Berkeley-based You can also search a growing number of individual stores online, including the Portland-based Powells ( and Bolerium Books in San Francisco (, which specializes in rare books on labor issues and radical history.

Meanwhile, your local library can be a great help, too, thanks to a practice called interlibrary loan. Libraries across the country will lend you books and other materials, creating a vast collection that’s easy for you to access. Here’s how: If you don’t find what you’re looking for in your library’s catalog, ask a librarian to locate it elsewhere in the huge national loan network. Tell the pros as much about the book as you can. Title and author are most important, but publisher and publication date (or even a good guess at it) can be helpful too. They’ll do the rest.

Photo by shutterhacks, licensed under Creative Commons.

Read more:

#HyperSensualisation … #France Moves To Ban #Child Beauty #Pageants


“Child abuse casts a shadow the length of a lifetime.” – Herbert Ward

(This excerpt from France Moves To Ban Child Beauty Pageants appeared on on September 18, 2013. To view it in its entirety please click on the link below.)

Parliament in France has moved to ban child beauty pageants on the grounds that they promote the “hyper-sexualisation” of minors.

The Senate adopted the bill by 196 votes to 146 on Tuesday evening. It must now be passed by the National Assembly, before becoming law.

Organisers of such pageants may face a jail term of up to two years and a fine of 30,000 euros (£25,000; $40,000).

The measure was prompted by a row over a photo shoot in Vogue magazine.

The photos published in December 2010 showed a girl of 10 with two others, all three in heavy make-up and wearing tight dresses, high heels and expensive jewellery.

Vogue defended the pictures, saying they merely portrayed a common fantasy among young girls – to dress like their mother.

Parliament heard a report entitled Against Hyper-Sexualisation: A New Fight For Equality, which called for the ban on beauty competitions for the under-16s. It also recommended other measures, not included in the bill, including a ban on child-size adult clothing such as padded bras and high-heeled shoes.

“Let us not make our girls believe from a very young age that their worth is only judged by their appearance,” said the author of the report, former Sports Minister Chantal Jouanno.