December 10, 2013
Intercollegiate Review Why Hooking Up Is Letting You Down by J. Budziszewski
In the ’80s, if I suggested in class that there might be any problem with sexual liberation, they said that everything was fine—what was I talking about? Now if I raise questions, many of them speak differently. They still live like libertines, sometimes they still talk like libertines, but it’s getting old. They are beginning to sound like the children of third-generation Maoists. My generation may have ordered the sexual revolution, but theirs is paying the price.
I am not speaking only of the medical price. To be sure, that price is ruinous: At the beginning of the revolution, most physicians had to worry about only two or three sexually transmitted diseases, and now it is more like two or three dozen. But I am not speaking only of broken bodies. Consider, for example, broken childhoods. What is it like for your family to break up because dad has found someone new, then to break up again because mom has? What is it like to be passed from stepparent to stepparent to stepparent? What is it like to grow up knowing that you would have had a sister, but she was aborted?
We human beings really do have a design, and I mean that term in the broadest sense: not merely mechanical design (this part goes here, this part goes there) but also what kind of being we are. Because the design is not merely biological but also emotional, intellectual, and spiritual, the languages of natural law, natural design, natural meanings, and natural purposes are intertranslatable, and most of the time interchangeable. Some ways of living comport with our design. Others don’t.
The problem with twenty-first-century Western sexuality is that it flouts the embedded principles and the inbuilt meanings of the human sexual design.
Mutual and total self-giving, strong feelings of attachment, intense pleasure, and the procreation of new life are linked by human nature in a single complex of meanings and purpose. For this reason, if we try to split them apart, we split ourselves. Failure to grasp this fact is more ruinous to our lives, and more difficult to correct, than any amount of ignorance about genital warts. It ought to be taught, but it isn’t.
The problem is that we don’t want to believe that these things are really joined; we don’t want the package deal that they represent. We want to transcend our own nature, like gods. We want to pick and choose among the elements of our sexual design, enjoying just the pieces that we want and not the others. Some people pick and choose one element, others pick and choose another, but they share the illusion that they can pick and choose. Sometimes such picking and choosing is called “having it all.” That is precisely what it isn’t. A more apt description would be refusing it all—insisting on having just a part—and in the end, not even getting that.
Time magazine 9 Reasons ‘Hookup Culture’ Hurts Boys Too Boys get hurt as much as, if not more than, girls
Rosalind Wiseman, the mother of two boys, spent two years of research for her new book, Masterminds and Wingmen, delving into the world of boys.
she interviewed hundreds of boys across the country — individually, in groups, over the course of extended e-mail correspondences — and their stories are really quite striking.
As Wiseman writes, we assume that boys are the perpetrators and beneficiaries of hookup culture — and thus we tend to ignore its effects on them. But those effects, it turns out, can be rather rough.
Mistaking Words and Movies for Reality
In a movie or book, "The MacGuffin" is the thing the hero wants. Usually the villain wants it too, and their conflict over who will end up with The MacGuffin forms the basic spine of the story.
Alfred Hitchcock noted -- counterintuitively, when you first hear this -- that the specifics of the MacGuffin don't really matter at all to a movie. He pointed out that the audience doesn't care at all about the MacGuffin. The hero in the movie itself cares, but the audience doesn't.
A MacGuffin only has one requirement: That it be important-sounding, so that the audience understands he hero isn't engaged in some trivial matter, but that the Stakes Are High
And that, of course, explains all you need to know about the abnormal political situation we find ourselves in, and the Cult of Barack Obama.
For Obama's fanbois, this is not politics. This isn't even America, not really, not anymore. This is a movie. And Barack Obama is the Hero. And the Republicans are the Villains. And policy questions -- and Obama's myriad failures as an executive -- are simply incidental. They are MacGuffins only, of no importance whatsoever, except to the extent they provide opportunities for Drama as the Hero fights in favor of them.
As with a MacGuffin in the movie, only the Hero's emotional response to the MacGuffin matters. Again and again, Matthews and his panel focused not on weighty questions of state, but on what toll these important-sounding MacGuffins took upon the Star of the Picture, Barack Obama.
Matthews was not terribly interested in hearing about the problems with Obamacare, or how Obama planned to address them. But he was very interested in learning how Obama was coping with the challenges.
Peggy Noonan made a similar point in Low Information Leadership
It’s a leader’s job to be skeptical of grand schemes. Sorry, that’s a conservative leader’s job. It is a liberal leader’s job to be skeptical that grand schemes will work as intended. You have to guide and goad and be careful.
And this president wasn’t. I think part of the reason he wasn’t careful is because he sort of lives in words. That’s been his whole professional life—books, speeches. Say something and it magically exists as something said, and if it’s been said and publicized it must be real. He never had to push a lever, see the machine not respond, puzzle it out and fix it. It’s all been pretty abstract for him, not concrete. He never had to stock a store, run a sale and see lots of people come but the expenses turn out to be larger than you’d expected and the profits smaller, and you have to figure out what went wrong and do better next time.
Here I will say something harsh, and it’s connected to the thing about words but also images.
From what I have seen the administration is full of young people who’ve seen the movie but not read the book. They act bright, they know the reference, they’re credentialed. But they’ve only seen the movie about, say, the Cuban missile crisis, and then they get into a foreign-policy question and they’re seeing movies in their heads. They haven’t read the histories, the texts, which carry more information, more texture, data and subtlety, and different points of view. They’ve only seen the movie—the Cubans had the missiles and Jack said “Not another war” and Bobby said “Pearl Harbor in reverse” and dreadful old Curtis LeMay chomped his cigar…
The Root Sources of Inequality
Walter Russell Mead hits the mark again with Obama Flubs Inequality Message
Obama, and those who think like him, focus so much on socio-economic causes of inequality that they tend to overlook the impact of cultural factors like the breakdown of the family and the decline of strong community institutions.
Actually, there’s plenty of evidence that unwed childbearing, father absence and fraying kinship and community networks exacerbate the problems of low-income people and make it incredibly hard for them to gain a foothold in the middle class. These are thorny problems that aren’t easily solved by the kinds of government measures Obama champions. So his speech says very little about the ways that strong marriages, family stability, or a robust role for churches in helping struggling Americans improve their lives can all improve economic mobility in this country. These social and cultural factors are arguably root causes of inequality, and it’s a pretty conspicuous omission to ignore that in a presidential speech on the subject. We’re glad people are talking more about about the yawning gap between rich and poor, but this troubling reality deserves a better treatment than Obama gave it.
Obama can't solve the jobs problem Glenn Reynolds
Last week, President Obama gave a much-touted speech on "income inequality." But while inequality is a valid concern, it's not so clear that unequal incomes are the biggest problem America faces.
More troubling -- as figures as distinct as Slate's Matthew Yglesias and National Review's Mark Steyn both noted -- is the growing divide between an America where people have jobs, and an America where people live off of government benefits.
So why is President Obama less interested in the shortage of jobs and more focused on mere "income inequality?" I think there are two reasons. First, while expanding the dependency class might be bad for America (and for the dependents), it's good for the political party that passes out the pork. And second -- and this is more troubling -- I think that Obama has no idea how to address the underlying jobs problem.
Mark Steyn on The Post-Work Economy
Consider Vermont. Unlike my own state of New Hampshire, it has a bucolic image: Holsteins, dirt roads, the Vermont Teddy Bear Company, Ben & Jerry’s, Howard Dean . . . And yet the Green Mountain State has appalling levels of heroin and meth addiction, and the social chaos that follows. Geoffrey Norman began a recent essay in The Weekly Standard with a vignette from a town I know very well — St. Johnsbury, population 7,600, motto “Very Vermont,” the capital of the remote North-East Kingdom hard by the Quebec border and as far from urban pathologies as you can get. Or so you’d think. But on a recent Saturday morning, Norman reports, there were more cars parked at the needle-exchange clinic than at the farmers’ market. In Vermont, there’s no inner-city underclass, because there are no cities, inner or outer; there’s no disadvantaged minorities, because there’s only three blacks and seven Hispanics in the entire state; there’s no nothing. Which is the real problem. Large numbers of Vermonters have adopted the dysfunctions of the urban underclass for no reason more compelling than that there’s not much else to do. Once upon a time, St. Johnsbury made Fairbanks scales, but now a still handsome town is, as Norman puts it, “hollowed out by the loss of work and purpose.”
“Work” and “purpose” are intimately connected: Researchers at the University of Michigan, for example, found that welfare payments make one unhappier than a modest income honestly earned and used to provide for one’s family. “It drains too much of the life from life,” said Charles Murray in a speech in 2009. “And that statement applies as much to the lives of janitors — even more to the lives of janitors — as it does to the lives of CEOs.” Self-reliance — “work” — is intimately connected to human dignity — “purpose.”
So what does every initiative of the Obama era have in common? Obamacare, Obamaphones, Social Security disability expansion, 50 million people on food stamps . . . The assumption is that mass, multi-generational dependency is now a permanent feature of life. A coastal elite will devise ever smarter and slicker trinkets, and pretty much everyone else will be a member of either the dependency class or the vast bureaucracy that ministers to them. And, if you’re wondering why every Big Government program assumes you’re a feeble child, that’s because a citizenry without “work and purpose” is ultimately incompatible with liberty. The elites think a smart society will be wealthy enough to relieve the masses from the need to work. In reality, it would be neo-feudal, but with fatter, sicker peasants. It wouldn’t just be “economic inequality,” but a far more profound kind, and seething with resentments.
December 9, 2013
"'None of us needs to live the saddest part of our lives 24/7"
The forgiveness of the Amish was an amazing story in 2006 and it continues today with the example of the mother of the mass murderer
Once a week, Terri Roberts spends time with a 13-year-old Amish girl named Rosanna who sits in a wheelchair and eats through a tube. Roberts bathes her, sings to her, reads her stories. She can only guess what's going on inside Rosanna's mind because the girl can't talk.
Roberts' son did this to her. Seven years ago, Charles Carl Roberts IV barricaded himself inside an Amish schoolhouse near Lancaster, tied up 10 girls and opened fire, killing five and injuring five others before committing suicide as police closed in.
The Amish responded by offering immediate forgiveness to the killer - even attending his funeral - and embracing his family.
Terri Roberts forgave, too, and now she is sharing her experience with others, saying the world needs more stories about the power of forgiveness and the importance of seeking joy through adversity.
'I realized if I didn't forgive him, I would have the same hole in my heart that he had. And a root of bitterness never brings peace to anyone,' Roberts said. 'We are called to forgive.'
One of her sons is making a documentary - called Hope - about her remarkable journey from heartbroken mother to inspirational speaker. Zachary Roberts originally conceived the film to help his mother. But it's also proving to be cathartic for him.
'It was like a step toward getting this off my shoulders and being able to speak about it,' said Roberts, 35, who lives in Sweden.'I have a kid now, and I don't want this to be one of those dark family secrets that nobody talks about. I want to be OK with it, and I want my daughter to be OK with it.'
Roberts appears in the trailer and doesn't mince words about the challenge that faced his mother after his 32-year-old brother's rampage: 'How does the mother of a mass murderer move forward in life?'
Terri Roberts' path toward healing and reconciliation began, surprisingly enough, that very first afternoon. Her husband, Chuck, had wiped away so many tears that he'd rubbed his skin raw. The retired police officer hung his head, inconsolable.
'I will never face my Amish friends again,' he said, over and over.
An Amish neighbor named Henry told him otherwise. 'Roberts, we love you. We don't hold anything against you or your son,' Terri Roberts recalled Henry saying as he massaged Roberts' slumped shoulders. 'We're a forgiving people.'
It was an extraordinary gesture, one that gave Terri Roberts her first glimmer of hope. She calls Henry her 'angel in black'. That same day, a counselor helped her realize that 'we do not need to live in our sorrow'.
'I can't tell you what that did for me. That was just so helpful for me, and I feel now that it's helped many other people,' Roberts said.
Rosanna wasn't expected to survive after being shot in the head. She laughs, cries and responds to stimuli, and King said she is mentally alert. But she requires constant care.
Terri Roberts' weekly visits with Rosanna force her to confront the damage her son caused. But Roberts also finds peace as she spends time with Rosanna and provides some relief to the teen's family, if only for a few hours.
'Beautiful young woman, but life is not as it should've been for this little girl. So my mind will never forget the hardship that day has caused in many people's lives,' Roberts said.
'And yet,' she said, 'none of us needs to live in the saddest part of our lives 24/7.'
Murphy's Law at work in Obamacare and how you can opt out
Margaret Wente Obamacare, where the liberal dream crashes and burns
The biggest threat to Obamacare is not Republicans. The biggest threat is Murphy’s Law, along with its corollary, the Law of Unintended Consequences. These are the most powerful laws in the world. They are even more powerful than the Affordable Care Act, and they are the nemesis of all master plans. Evidently, the President and his merry band of wonks had never heard of them.
In a bid to cut costs, insurers selling cover on the new exchanges in states including New York, Texas and California will not offer patients access to two renowned cancer centers - Memorial Sloan Kettering in Manhattan and MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, according to The Financial Times.
Access to Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles, one of the top research and teaching hospitals, may also be limited, as the insurers attempt to steer customers away from hospitals or doctors they consider too expensive.
Some hospital officials are worried about what they call an unintended consequence of the new law.
'We're very concerned. (Insurers) know patients that are sick come to places like ours,' Thomas Priselac, president and chief executive officer of Cedars-Sinai Health System in California told the FT. 'What this is trying to do is redirect those patients elsewhere, but there is a reason why they come here. These patients need what it is that we are capable of providing.'
But the bureaucrats at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) decided to issue a rule in March making insurers responsible only for paying claims during the first 30 days of the debtors’ grace period. Who’s on the hook for the other two months? Well, customers are entrusted to foot the bills for additional services. But if they blow off the payments, it’s up to physicians and hospitals to collect.
As one hospital rep told me: “It’s potentially catastrophic.” Private practices are already being hit hard with slashed reimbursements, the electronic-medical-records mandate, ICD-10 medical-diagnostic-code changes, and increasing federal intrusions on how they provide care.
New problems emerged on Friday, with a Capitol Hill source drawing attention to an apparent scam in the system. The source detailed how, after telling the user the password was incorrect, the site directed the individual to a “forgot password” page — which then asked for highly personal information.
“On that page I was asked for my check card number and my ATM pin,” the source said. “I was fairly confident this was a scam so I called customer service. After a 103 minute hold time, I was told that this was indeed a scam.”
The explanation is not exactly reassuring:
Some shoppers are being directed from the insurance website to an outside site that appears nearly identical to the real exchange, officials confirmed Friday. The fraud is widespread enough that they’re considering adding disclaimers to its website to warn users against divulging their check card or PIN numbers.
The Federalist offers advice on How to Opt Out of Obamacare Know your options and become savvy self-pay patients
Groom's first look at his beautiful bride
December 5, 2013
Other things about Obamacare
WSJ ObamaCare's Plans Are Worse How the Affordable Care Act raises prices and limits medical choices.
...the rules ObamaCare imposes to create a supposedly superior insurance product are resulting in an objectively inferior medical product. The new mandates and rules raise costs, so insurers must compensate by offering narrow and less costly networks of doctors, hospitals and other providers in their ObamaCare products. Insurers thus restrict care and patient choice of physicians in exchange for discounted reimbursement rates, much as Medicaid does.
Some are losing coverage. Boy with cancer loses coverage after Obamacare launch. Bureaucrats won't help unless pregnant or illegal alien..
Others who complained are now getting audited. Cancer Patient Who Spoke Out Against ObamaCare Now Being Audited
Bill Elliot was a cancer patient who lost his insurance due to ObamaCare and couldn’t pay the expensive new premiums. He was talking about paying the ObamaCare fine, going without health insurance and “letting nature take its course.”
He went on FOX News where his story was picked up by C. Steven Tucker, a health insurance broker who helped him keep his insurance. Now suddenly Bill Elliot is being audited for 2009 with an interview only scheduled in April 2014. Assuming he lives that long. That might be a coincidence, but Tucker is being audited back to 2003.
Medicaid Is Latest Health-Site Victim. States Refuse to Sign Up Enrollees Due to Incomplete Information from HealthCare.gov
So far, the federal government has been unable to transfer full Medicaid applications to states, potentially leaving people who sought to sign up for Medicaid through HealthCare.gov without coverage.
Millennials Abandon Obama and Obamacare A majority of America's youngest adults would vote to recall the president.
Over a long weekend followed by some supplemental tweaking,
the three guys who built the working Affordable Care Act policy search web site known as TheHealthSherpa.com for free accomplished what Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’s assembled contractors and bureaucrats couldn’t get done with a 42-month head start and hundreds of millions of dollars.
Looks as though Obama turned down an offer by IBM's CEO Samuel J. Palmisano turned down a free offer to hunt out health care abuse in 2010..
In a 2010 interview, IBM’s CEO said: “We could have improved quality and reduced the costs of the health-care system by $900 billion. … I said we would do it for free to prove that it works. They turned us down.”
It’s a little bit puzzling because I think there is a huge amount of both fraud and inefficiency that American business is a lot more comfortable with and more effective in trying to reduce. And this is certainly true because the IBM people have studied this very carefully.
When Palmisano went to the White House and made that proposal, it was based upon a lot of work and it was not accepted. And it’s really puzzling…These are very, very responsible people and don’t have a political ax to grind.
December 4, 2013
Health roundup: Aspirin, health-care apps, hangovers, arthritis and the 13 health benefits of coffee
Could an eye test be used to diagnosed Alzheimer's? Study shows disease kills eye cells as well as brain cells
Currently Alzheimer's disease can only be diagnosed for certain by studying a patient's brain after their death - other techniques involve memory tests
Layers of the retina are 49% thinner in mice with Alzheimer's disease which suggests processes occurring in a brain with dementia also occur in the eye
If the same is true in humans, an eye test could indicate if a person has dementia and whether drug treatments are working
WSJ Health-Care Apps That Doctors Use Programs range from diagnostics to hand-washing trackers.
Take your aspirin before you go to bed. Bedtime aspirin 'wards off heart attacks': Blood cells least likely to bind dangerously together if taking drug in the evening
Drinking After 40: Why Hangovers Hit Harder The Reasons Moderate Alcohol Consumption Gets More Complicated in Middle Age.
"A lot of older people are borderline dehydrated. They have less body water just from the natural effects of aging," Dr. Blackwelder says. It helps to drink water and have a full stomach when knocking one back.
The majority of alcohol is metabolized by the liver, which changes when people hit their 50s. (A small amount is metabolized in the stomach and mouth.) The liver gets bigger as people get older, but the organ becomes less efficient. Blood flow decreases, as do the number of hepatocytes, the liver's functional cells,
Certain enzyme levels dip, too, including one type of the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase, which breaks down alcohol. Women of all ages tend to have lower levels of this enzyme in the stomach. But between the ages of 50 and 60, men see their levels slide, too.
Particularly beginning in the 50s and 60s, the brain is more sensitive to alcohol. Booze basically enhances normal age-related cognitive decline. Neurons lose speed. Specifically, the insulating myelin sheaths around the axons of neurons—the parts responsible for transmitting information to other neurons—get smaller. As people age, "neurons are not as efficient. So you impair them with a little bit of alcohol, they are that much more inefficient,"
Older people are also more affected by alcohol's impact on sleep, a fact that can turn a mild hangover into a must-stay-in-bed-all-day affair. "Alcohol in all ages wrecks our REM sleep,"
Scientists carried out a year-long study on 1,200 patients with active, moderate-to-severe rheumatoid arthritis, who have not benefited from or been able to tolerate the side effects of current frontline treatment methotrexate. They found Sarilumba improved their condition by up to 20 per cent.
Developed by French drugmaker Sanofi and Regeneron, the new drug works by blocking an inflammation-causing protein called interleukin 6.
Patients given a 200 mg dose of Sarilumba every other week - on top of methotrexate - saw a 66 percent improvement in the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis after six months.
1. Coffee Can Improve Energy Levels and Make You Smarter
2. Coffee Can Help You Burn Fat
3. The Caffeine Can Drastically Improve Physical Performance
4. There Are Essential Nutrients in Coffee
5. Coffee May Lower Your Risk of Type II Diabetes
6. Coffee May Protect You From Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia
7. Caffeine May Lower The Risk of Parkinson’s
8. Coffee Appears to Have Protective Effects on The Liver
9. Coffee Can Fight Depression and Make You Happier
10. Coffee Drinkers Have a Lower Risk of Some Types of Cancer
11. Coffee Does Not Cause Heart Disease and May Lower The Risk of Stroke
12. Coffee May Help You Live Longer
13. Coffee is The Biggest Source of Antioxidants in The Western Diet
December 3, 2013
Security at the HealthCare.gov website is worse than before
With less than three weeks to sign up for insurance or pay a penalty, problems with the healthcare.gov website are still unresolved. It is impossible to imagine the anxiety and suffering of the millions who lost their health care policies and who don't want to put their identities at risk by going online to healthcare.gov.
“It doesn’t appear that any security fixes were done at all,” David Kennedy, CEO of the online security firm TrustedSec, told the Washington Free Beacon.
Kennedy said fundamental safeguards missing from Healthcare.gov that were identified by his company more than a month ago have yet to be put in place.
After warning Americans when testifying before Congress on Nov. 19 to stay away from Healthcare.gov, Kennedy now says the situation is even worse.
“They said they implemented over 400 bug fixes,” he said. “When you recode the application to fix these 400 bugs—they were rushing this out of the door to get the site at least so it can work a little bit—you’re introducing more security flaws as you go along with it because you don’t even check that code.”
Get this. The Federal Government doesn't have to notify anyone if the site is hacked.
“States are required to notify in the event of a breach, the federal government is not,” he added. “So in the event that Healthcare.gov gets compromised and all their information gets taken out of it they don’t have to notify anybody.”
Kennedy said the team working on Healthcare.gov is more likely to hide its security flaws than address them. When it was revealed that the most popular searches on the website were hack attempts—confirmed by entering a semicolon in the search bar—the website simply removed the tool.
The White House won't even give classified briefings to Congress about the security problems of healthcare.gov. Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Mike Rogers said,
“They could not even provide someone — CMS and HHS, the two folks responsible for the HealthCare.gov website — in a classified setting to come up and talk about the breaches that they know have happened. That’s just unconscionable.”
He warned that there is currently no coordinated effort within the administration to test the website’s newly-written code which was completed over the past two months of repairs, leaving it vulnerable to breaches. “You’re encouraging people to go to a site that our own government knows doesn’t meet safety standards when it comes to security of private information.”
The latest IBD/TIPP Poll finds that 78% say Americans should be worried about the security of the ObamaCare exchange website, and 53% say they should be "very concerned." This view was shared across parties, with 69% of Democrats saying security concerns are warranted.
More worrisome for the law's success, 82% of those aged 18-24 say concern is justified. These are among the people ObamaCare most desperately needs to enroll to keep overall premiums from spiraling out of control.
John Podhoretz writes in Commentary, No, Healthcare.Gov Isn’t Working. Much of the backend hasn't been constructed yet.
There is no such thing as a functioning website if the “back end” isn’t working. The “back end” is the catchall phrase for everything you don’t see when you visit a website. It refers to the software that translates pictures and words into what you see here. It refers to the software that mediates the relationship between 1) users who enter information, 2) the servers that store the website’s information, and 3) third parties hired to take some (but not all) of the information and process it on their servers and computers. It refers to the security systems put in place so that the website cannot be disabled by an outside attack and so that the data entered cannot be stolen or otherwise compromised.
In other words, the back end is the website. What many people are seeing now at healthcare.gov is a visual demonstration of a sign-in. If the sign-in data are not transferred to a database, nothing has happened. It’s like taking a practice test; it’s not scored and it’s not registered and it means nothing.
Obama administration officials acknowledged today that some of the roughly 126,000 Americans who completed the torturous online enrollment process in October and November might not be officially signed up with their selected issuer, even if the website has told them they are.
While the front-end of the website has been vastly improved, the back-end glitches remain a serious concern, IT experts and industry officials say.
For those who thought they enrolled in a plan through the federal exchange since October, the Obama administration now advises that individuals contact their insurance company to verify coverage and if none exists, to start all over again.
The Washington Post is reporting the bad news for Obama; about ⅓ of consumers enrolled through healthcare.gov have serious errors in the plans they chose.
The mistakes include failure to notify insurers about new customers, duplicate enrollments or cancellation notices for the same person, incorrect information about family members, and mistakes involving federal subsidies.