Tag Archives: Proble

Freaky Friday: Bully Brains

by Richard

This is actually kind of scary. We know that being bullied makes for some big-time backlash for the young dudes who get bullied. What we didn’t know until recently is that being bullied also makes some physical changes in the brains of those kids who get bullied.

Yeah, that’s right. Young dudes who get bullied actually suffer permanent changes to the structure of their brains because of the bullying.

If we thought there was a reason to crack down on bullying in schools before, brother, you’d better believe there’s more of a reason now.

They lurk in hallways, bathrooms, around the next blind corner. But for the children they have routinely teased or tormented, bullies effectively live in the victims’ brains as well — and not just as a terrifying memory.

Preliminary evidence shows that bullying can produce signs of stress, cognitive deficits and mental-health problems.

Now University of Ottawa psychologist Tracy Vaillancourt and her colleagues at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario plan to scan the brains of teens who have been regularly humiliated and ostracized by their peers to look for structural differences compared with other children.

“We know there is a functional difference. We know their brains are acting differently, but we don’t know if it is structural as well,”said Vaillancourt, an expert in the biology of bullying.

According to Vaillancourt, she finds changes to the hippocampus, the area of the brain responsible for memory.

Bullied young dudes have already been found to score lower on tests that measure verbal memory and executive function, a set of skills needed to focus on a task and get the job done. Mental-health problems, such as depression, are also more common.

Come on, dudes. This is ridiculous. We need to have a zero-tolerance policy for bullying in schools that’s actually enforced all the time, every time.  Kids need to feel safe when they’re at school, trying to learn.

I mean, come on. How can you learn if you’re constantly looking over your shoulder, fearing the next push or the next time someone starts name calling?

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A Different Definition

by Richard

The other day, I found out why there might be so many arguments between little dudes and their parents. Apparently, when they say something it means something totally different from what we think it means.

Case in point. When we were at Wingate University to participate in the regional competition of the Odyssey of the Mind, our team had a great position on the large, grassy area to use as a base camp. We had plenty of sun and lots of room for the little dudes and dudettes to run around and have fun. The only issue was down in one side of the grassy area where there was a bit of a bog.

The ground was so saturated from recent rains that water was just leaking out of the ground, like a spring, in one area. It formed a great, muddy swamp that existed just under the surface of some grass-like plants, eventually finding its way to a creek fed by a drainage pipe. Now, when I say this was muddy, I’m not messing around.

Some older dudettes, walking from the gym to a different building, went skipping into the bog. They didn’t realize it wasn’t solid ground and ended up losing their shoes to the muck. One girl found hers. The other girl didn’t. They spent about 30 minutes feeling under the mud and basically turning themselves into walking swamp things looking for these shoes. No luck.

So, yeah. Of course, Speed Racer thought it was the coolest thing ever.

I was talking to some of the parents of our group when I found out about this difference in definitions.

Speed Racer came limping up to me, his right foot and leg (up past his knee) were soaking wet and had a nice, stinky layer of mud all over them.

I was appalled, especially considering he didn’t have a change of clothes, there was a chilly breeze and we still had more than three hours before we could leave.

He was smiling. And couldn’t wait to tell me what happened.

“I was smart, Dad,” he said.

“Um . . . What? What? What? What happened to your leg? I thought I told you to stay out of the mud.”

“Right. Exactly. That’s why I was smart.”

I couldn’t really process that so I fell back on the classics. “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

He looked confused. “What?”

“Never mind. What happened?”

“Well, you told me to stay out of the mud and that’s what I was going to do, but I had to get to the other side — ”

“You couldn’t have walked around the mud? Your feet wouldn’t make it the, oh, 17 necessary steps?”

He looked at me like I was the idiot there. And, who knows, perhaps he was right.

“Anyway, Dad. I had to get across so I grabbed a long thin pipe but it didn’t work.”

I shook my head. “What didn’t work?”

He looked at me like I was the idiot there. Again. He gestured at his muddy golem leg.

“Well, I was going to use the pipe to get across the mud. That’s why I was smart. I tried to use the pipe to pole vault over the muddy bits. That was really smart. Only the pipe wasn’t strong enough and it broke and I landed in the mud and I got all muddy and it’s all right because it’s sunny and I’m going to let it dry and it’s not really a problem. Bye, Dad!”

And off he raced. I turned to the parents with whom I’d been talking. I could see my own expression — puzzled, confused — reflected from their faces.

“He did just say that was the smart bit, right?”

They nodded.

I shivered, wondering what, if he considered pole vaulting over the muddy bog instead of going around the smart bit, had he rejected as a dumb idea and did I really want to know.

No. No I did not.

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Dude Review: The Incredible Hercules: The Mighty Thorcules

by Richard

I’m going to keep reviewing these until at least one of you drops by the comments section to let me know that you actually bought a collection of the best comic book being published today. And, no, that’s not damning with faint praise. I love The Incredible Hercules: The Mighty Thorcules. It pushes all my buttons. It’s got humor, mythology, humor, butt kicking and smart alekry up the wazzoo. In short, it’s incredible. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.) Oh, yeah. And this collection has the best sound effect ever committed to paper. Take a look.

Come on! How can you not love the purple nurple of the gods?

Let me explain. For reasons too complicated to go into right now, the Incredible Hercules has to pose as his rival, the Mighty Thor (hence the title) and, this being a superhero comic, the two get into a fight. Now, Thor isn’t used to fighting bare chested. Normally that wouldn’t be a problem. But, see, Hercules isn’t above fighting dirty to win and is willing to give out a purple nurple (notice the sound effect “nurp” is, in fact, purple).

Being a serialized comic book, this could be a bit confusing, if it weren’t for the fact that The Incredible Hercules has the most inventive and fun recap pages ever speeding people up to brought. Basically, Herc has to impersonate Thor to stop an invasion of Earth by some particularly dire elves. Things do not go as planned and Thor has to impersonate Herc to stop the whole thing. Once again, things do not go as planned.

Dude! That hurts just looking at it.

Thor, normally one of the most noble fair-fightingest of the Marvel universe takes well to playing the part of Hercules. Perhaps too well. And, of course, notice the sound effect which, if sounded out, will sound suspiciously like nut crack. Hmm. Wonder where they got the idea for that sound effect? (To get a better look at this and the next picture, make with the clicky to enlargen.) [What? That’s a word, right?]

In the series, Herc has been accompanied by a young genius named Amadeus Cho, the seventh-smartest person on the planet. And someone who has even worse impulse control than the notoriously scatterbrained Hercules. In alternating issues, this collection follows Cho as he tries to find out what really happened when his parents were killed.

He’s looking for the man who planted the bomb, not so much for revenge, but to find out if his sister is really alive and, if so, where she is. When Cho finally does find the mastermind behind his personal tragedy, he’s confronted by an aged, bitter and more than slightly insane version of himself and forced into a no-win, life-or-death situation. His solution to the dilemma is uniquely his own.

Because this is a comic book, I wanted to say a little bit about the art. Reilly Brown on the epic Thorcules arc is absolutely fantastic. I mean, you get the expressions you’ve been hoping for when someone describes the action. While Rodney Buchemi doesn’t quite reach those heights on the Amadeus Cho sections, it still does a nice job of telling the story.

In all, I’ll give this book five (5) dudes out of five. It’s, sorry again, incredible. Go out and buy it now. Read it and laugh.

Otherwise. . . Well, let’s just say I wouldn’t want to be you.Let's run it up the flagpole and see who salutes.

Or your underwear.

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