March 5, 2015

"What happened next ..is truly stunning: nothing"

Stephen Hayes in the WSJ  How America Was Misled on al Qaeda’s Demise
The White House portrait of a crumbling terror group is contradicted by documents seized in the bin Laden raid.

It was quite a haul: 10 hard drives, nearly 100 thumb drives and a dozen cellphones. There were DVDs, audio and video tapes, data cards, reams of handwritten materials, newspapers and magazines. At a Pentagon briefing days after the raid, a senior military intelligence official described it as “the single largest collection of senior terrorist materials ever.”

The United States had gotten its hands on al Qaeda’s playbook—its recent history, its current operations, its future plans. An interagency team led by the Central Intelligence Agency got the first look at the cache. They performed a hasty scrub—a “triage”—on a small sliver of the document collection, looking for actionable intelligence. According to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, the team produced more than 400 separate reports based on information in the documents.

But it is what happened next that is truly stunning: nothing. The analysis of the materials—the “document exploitation,” in the parlance of intelligence professionals—came to an abrupt stop. According to five senior U.S. intelligence officials, the documents sat largely untouched for months—perhaps as long as a year.

In spring 2012, a year after the raid that killed bin Laden and six months before the 2012 presidential election, the Obama administration launched a concerted campaign to persuade the American people that the long war with al Qaeda was ending.
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At precisely the time Mr. Obama was campaigning on the imminent death of al Qaeda, those with access to the bin Laden documents were seeing, in bin Laden’s own words, that the opposite was true. Says Lt. Gen. Flynn: “By that time, they probably had grown by about—I’d say close to doubling by that time. And we knew that.”

This wasn’t what the Obama White House wanted to hear. So the administration cut off DIA access to the documents and instructed DIA officials to stop producing analyses based on them.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:57 PM | Permalink
Categories: Brave New World

March 3, 2015

Don't 'Follow your passion' instead 'Make a dent in the universe'

"Follow your passion' is bad advice writes Cal Newport on Business Insider

Toward the end of a high profile panel discussion on job creation, held during the 2012 Democratic National Convention, the conversation turned to a ubiquitous piece of career advice: follow your passion.

One panel member in particular disagreed with this suggestion: Steve Jobs biographer Walter Isaacson. It wasn’t Isaacson’s dissent that caught the audience’s attention, however, but instead his revelation that the late Steve Jobs agreed with him.

“I remember talking exactly a year ago right now to Steve Jobs, who was very ill, and I asked him that question,” Isaacson said.

He then recalled Jobs’s response:

Yeah, we’re always talking about following your passion, but we’re all part of the flow of history … you’ve got to put something back into the flow of history that’s going to help your community, help other people … so that 20, 30, 40 years from now … people will say, this person didn’t just have a passion, he cared about making something that other people could benefit from.”

Isaacson’s summary of this perspective was harsher:

“The important point is to not just follow your passion but something larger than yourself. It ain’t just about you and your damn passion.”
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Jobs flips this mindset. Instead of asking what the world can offer you, he suggests, you should instead ask what you can offer the world. The goal is not to love every minute of your job, or to identify your one true passion, but is instead to put a dent in the universe (to use another famous quote from Jobs).
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:53 PM | Permalink
Categories: Career

The Color Blue and colorblindness

Blue is the overwhelming “favorite color.Blue is seen as trustworthy, dependable, and committed. Blue is the least “gender specific” color, having equal appeal to both men and women. The color of ocean and sky, blue is perceived as a constant in our lives.

Color-Meaning-Blue

But our ancestors couldn't see it. Ancient people didn't perceive the color because they didn't have a word for it, say scientists

Ancient languages, for instance, didn't have a word for blue and scientists believe as a result our ancestors didn't notice the color even existed.  In 'The Odyssey,' Greek poet Homer famously describes the 'wine-dark sea.'  In 1858 William Gladstone, who later became the British prime minister, counted the color references in the Homer's Odyssey and found blue wasn't mentioned at all. Black is mentioned nearly 200 times and white about 100. Red, meanwhile, is mentioned fewer than 15 times, and yellow and green fewer than 10. It wasn't just the Greeks. Blue also doesn't appear in the Koran, ancient Chinese stories, and an ancient Hebrew version of the Bible, according to a German philologist named Lazarus Geiger.  Egyptians, who were the only culture that could produce blue dyes, were the first ancient civilization to have a word for the color blue.

A few years ago I was fascinated by a Radiolab podcast  Why Isn't the Sky Blue?   As languages evolve with new words, red is always the first color named and blue the last.  And this is the case in every language studied,  Linguist Guy Deutscher tested this out with an experiment on his daughter Alma.  He taught her every color but never  told her that the sky was blue.  One day he pointed to the sky and asked her what color it was.    Alma was perplexed.  She simply saw a void.  Every day that was 'sky blue'  Deutscher asked his daughter .  One day she said white and only learned over time that it was blue.

If you go to the link you can download the podcast and read the fascinating comments.  Some suggest that a vitamin A deficiency could result in a loss of the ability to see blue.  Others point that the Japanese had a word for blue but not for green until contact with the west;  the Vietnamese word "xanh" means both green and blue; the Hebrew Bible referenced blue in several parts.

Many people don't distinguish well between blue, cyan and green

 Cyan Icon  This is the color cyan

Wikipedia on cyan
The web color cyan is synonymous with aqua. In most languages, 'cyan' is not a basic color term and it phenomenologically appears as a greenish vibrant hue of blue to most English speakers.  Reasons for why cyan is not linguistically acknowledged as a basic color term can be found in the frequent lack of distinction between blue and green in many languages. Some varieties in the cyan color range are teal, turquoise, electric blue, aquamarine, and other colors described as blue-green..

 Color Icon Blue  This is the color blue

Wikipedia on blue
The clear sky and the deep sea appear blue because of an optical effect known as Rayleigh scattering. When sunlight passes through the atmosphere, the blue wavelengths are scattered more widely by the oxygen and nitrogen molecules, and more blue comes to our eyes. Rayleigh scattering also explains blue eyes; there is no blue pigment in blue eyes. Distant objects appear more blue because of another optical effect called atmospheric perspective.

 Cona-Hue-Ranges-Map-02
From Work with Color where the links work

How Many Colors Can Most of Us Actually See?
Cones are photoreceptors on the human retina responsible for color vision. Most people are trichromatic, meaning that they have three types of cones — red, blue, and green — and information from the different types of cones combines to produce color perception. Since each type of cone enables the eye to distinguish approximately 100 shades, the average human combines those exponentially and is able to see about 1 million shades.
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Evidence suggests that some people have four types of cones — including an additional orange one — and are able to see 100 million shades. According to color vision researcher Dr. Jay Neitz, only women can have four types of cones. Yet, despite the fact that up to 12% of women in the world possess four cone types, most don’t test as tetrachromatic. There are actually only 99 million women in the world with true four-color vision, according to Dr. Neitz. Based on world population estimate of 7.30 billion, that would mean only 1.36% of the world’s population has true four-color vision and can be called tetrachromats,

A Cure for Colorblindess

More than 15 million people in the U.S. and over 300 million worldwide don’t see normal colors. Most are men who inherit it from their mothers’ fathers.
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Jay Neitz cured colorblindness five years ago.  Neitz, a professor at the University of Washington, tested two squirrel monkeys every day for a year and a half, confirming their colorblindness before experimenting on them.
Then Neitz injected their retinas with a virus that contained the genetic code for the red pigment found in human eyes. The monkeys, called Sam and Dalton—John Dalton was the first scientist to publish a paper on colorblindness in 1798—didn’t show any improvement at first. Five months later, they started passing their color-vision tests.

If injecting your eye with a genetic virus, there are glasses that can correct colorblindness.

"A 53-year-old ex-marine told me he broke down in tears when he saw the red in a brick building for the first time using EnChroma glasses. Another man said he was so overwhelmed by colors that he nearly got in an accident on his way home. “We’ll give the glasses to someone and they’ll be like, ‘Oh my god, I’ve never seen that color before,’” said a spokesman for EnChroma. “And we’ll tell them that the color is teal. And then they go around calling every new color that they see teal.”
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"Most people have three types of receptor cones in their retinas—red, green, and blue. A small percentage of women have a non-functioning fourth type. If it worked, they could see 100 million colors instead of the 1 million most people see. (Colorblind people usually see between 10,000 and 100,000.) A recent study in England found one woman whose fourth cone was active; she could see hues no other known human can.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:21 PM | Permalink
Categories: Art | Categories: Culture and Society

March 2, 2015

Bottomless depravity of ISIS

Just when you think ISIS couldn't get more depraved, along comes a story like this Islamic State fed murdered man to his own mother

A British man, Yasir Abdulla, 36, from Yorkshire, who went to fight with the Kurds against Islamic State tells this story to a British newspaper

“I hate IS because of what happened to an old Kurdish woman from a nearby tribe. Her son was captured by IS fighters and taken as a prisoner to Mosul.  She was determined to find her son and went to IS headquarters and asked to see him. The IS men told her to sit down because she had travelled a long way and said she should have some food before they took her to meet her son.  They brought her cups of tea and fed her a meal of cooked meat, rice and soup. She thought they were kind. But they had killed him and chopped him up and after she finished the meal and asked to see her son they laughed and said, ‘You’ve just eaten him’.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:03 PM | Permalink
Categories: Civilization - Can We Keep It?

IRS still targeting conservative and pro-Israel groups

The IRS’s targeting of conservative and pro-Israel groups is still going on. New Revelations Show IRS Is Judge, Jury, Executioner–And Grave Robber

Politico reported yesterday that there are two categories of groups still being delayed and silenced by the IRS’s tax-exempt apparatchiks. The first category is Karl Rove (and his Crossroads organization). The second category is financially strapped mom-and-pop shops who have been driven into debt by the IRS’s corrupt practices in which critics of the Obama administration are deprived of some of their constitutional rights.

The story notes that this contradicts new IRS director John Koskinen’s claim that the agency “completed” its set of recommendations to get the corruption under control. As of this week, it’s still taking place. What this means in practice is that these groups, some of which applied several years ago, are still in limbo, unable to proceed. The point is to destroy the groups by bankrupting and suffocating them. Politico quotes a former IRS official using the agency’s term for this: “death by bureaucratic delay.”...

They lose donors and members “out of fear and frustration.” Some groups, Politico notes, “went belly-up while waiting.” That’s the point of the death-by-delay targeting. In other cases, the IRS demanded back taxes to try to pick the pockets of the activists one more time before the groups faded away. The IRS is both executioner and grave robber.
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Politico reports on the congressional testimony of the IRS’s inspector general J. Russell George and his deputy, Timothy Camus. They revealed that the IRS actually withheld communication and evidence related to Lois Lerner, the former IRS official at the center of the abuse-of-power scheme:

In addition, TIGTA learned two weeks ago there were more than 400 additional back-up tapes that IRS did not disclose to the agency for examination when it opened its probe last summer and asked for all the relevant back-ups, said Deputy IG for Investigations Timothy Camus. They believe those could include more Lerner emails from 2011.

“There is potential criminal activity,”  Camus said when pressed by Republicans.
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The IRS told groups they could surrender a portion of their rights to which they are legally entitled and the IRS would allow them to retain the remaining portion of their free-speech rights. This is the behavior of an organized crime syndicate, not a governmental institution of a free country. It is extortionate, deeply immoral, and a permanent stain on the agency and the politicians who enabled it.


We also learned that The IRS employee tasked with trying to restore and obtain emails on Lois Lerner’s IRS computer’s hard drive was legally blind..  It was also revealed today that backup tapes of Lois Lerner’s emails were discovered in an off-site storage facility in West Virginia.  The inspector general of the Treasury Department learned that the tapes existed and drove to West Virginia to retrieve them.  Lawyers for the Justice Department as well as IRS officials have stated under oath or to the federal courts that no such backup tapes existed.  They were “recycled,” DOJ lawyers told the court.

And, Former IRS official Lois Lerner received $129,300 in bonuses between 2010 and 2013, records obtained through the Freedom of Information Act show.  Over a three-year period, Lerner, the head of the tax-exempt division at the heart of the IRS targeting scandal, received a 25 percent retention bonus—averaging $43,000 a year—on top of her regular salary.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:23 PM | Permalink
Categories: Government

How ISIS governs

No alcohol. No music.  No history. No literatureLibya: Isis wages war on music by burning drums, saxophones and other instruments
The Islamic State (Isis) propaganda machine has published photos of its militants in Libya burning musical instruments they said were confiscated in line with the radical group's interpretation of Sharia law.  Under the jihadi group's rules, instrumental music is banned as well as what it claims are other un-Islamic activities such as smoking and drinking alcohol.  In September, it was reported that Isis had imposed a new school curriculum in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, banning art and music as well as all classes on history, literature and Christianity.

No smoking. A senior member of Islamic State's feared al-Hesbah (or Hisbah) force in Deir Ezzor was found with his head cut off and a cigarette in its mouth. The corpse showed signs of torture and carried the message "This is evil, you Sheikh" written on it. It is unclear who carried out the decapitation but the message was obvious.  Islamic State's ban on cigarettes is one of its signature polices. It has imposed a strict set of Sharia laws barring the use of drugs, alcohol and cigarettes in the territories it has conquered.

No cell phones.  Isis chops off women's hands 'for using mobile phones' in northern Iraqi city of Mosul
The Islamic State (Isis) in Mosul, northern Iraq, has reportedly chopped the hands off three women for using mobile phones.In addition, five men are also said to have been flogged for using their phones – which the Islamic State consider a crime.

No to statues. ISIS thugs take a hammer to civilization: Priceless 3,000-year-old artworks smashed to pieces in minutes as militants destroy Mosul museum.  Extremists used power drills and sledgehammers to smash ancient items and wreck a series of 3,000-year-old statues at museum in Mosul, Iraq.  One vandal says items being destroyed because they promoted idolatry.  They also blew up  the Mosul Public Library, sending 10,000 books and more than 700 rare manuscripts up in flames.  Leading members of Mosul society reportedly tried to stop the fanatics destroying the building, but failed.

 Isis Destroys Statues-Mosul Museum

No to cultural sites.  UN report shows utter devastation of Syria's heritage  'Humankind is losing hundreds and thousands of years of heritage'
Nearly 300 cultural heritage sites have been destroyed, damaged and looted in Syria since its conflict broke out in 2011, the UN said Tuesday in a report citing satellite evidence.  Among the areas exposed to major damage were UNESCO world heritage sites such as Aleppo, where settlements have been in place for 7,000 years, and the fabled desert Greco-Roman oasis of Palmyra.

"Looting, destruction from aerial bombardment and other explosions, as well as infrastructure construction at cultural sites significantly threatens the heritage to future generations of these historic structures and objects," the UN said in a statement.  The report focused on 18 areas, of which six are UNESCO-listed: the Old City of Aleppo; Bosra; Damascus, the Dead Cities of northern Syria; Crac des Chevaliers and Palmyra.  Detailed analysis of satellite imagery of 290 locations at these sites showed 24 of them had been destroyed, 104 severely damaged, 85 moderately damaged and 77 possibly damaged.

No to churches.  ISIS is turning Christian churches into torture chambers where it forces believers to convert to Islam… and funding its terror mission by selling stripped artifacts to Western collectors. An expert told the Jerusalem Post that the terror organization's goal was to 'wipe out Christianity.' 'This is why they are crucifying Christians — which includes children — destroying churches and selling artifacts,' he told the newspaper.  The reality is, this group will stop at practically nothing to raise funds for its terrorist mission.' Jihadists have pocketed around £23million from the sale of stolen artifacts in Nabaq, Syria, according to the Christian Post.

Yes to child sex slaves and suicide bombers. UN report reveals ISIS is selling youngsters from minorities as sex slaves, turning them into suicide bombers and crucifying them if they disobey
The children, who are often from the Yazidi sect or Christian communities, but also Shi'ites and Sunnis, are being tortured and murdered, the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child said.  A report released on Wednesday revealed a host of horrifying outcomes for the children kidnapped by the Islamic militants, including boys under-18 being used as bomb makers, informants or human shields to protect facilities against U.S.-led airstrikes. Girls are being sold as sex slaves, while children - often with learning difficulties - are being used as suicide bombers. Others are simply being murdered, the report says.

Yes to kidnappings. ISIS jihadists have kidnapped 220 Assyrian Christians from villages in Syria, says watchdog – far more than was previously feared
The number of Assyrian Christians kidnapped by ISIS in Syrian has risen to 220 after militants attacked a chain of villages along a strategic river

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says hostages comes from Tal Tamr.  ISIS began abducting Assyrians on Monday sending panic through villages. It is thought they are being held by the extremists in the ISIS-controlled city of Shaddadeh

Yes to beheadings and crucifixions. Syria: Isis crucifixion frenzy in revenge for wave of assassinations targeting their fighters. The men, who were shot dead and then crucified for three days, were accused of fighting against Islamic State.  "Isis is sending a message to all people living under its control, to say: 'This is what will happen to any opponent"  One man was executed for taking a picture of an ISIS fighter and publishing it on Facebook.    After the beheadings of the 21 Coptic Christians, ISIS sends out video showing children staging an Islamic State (Isis)-like beheading with wooden sticks.  Another boy speaks to camera and claims: "We have no religion or nation. We slaughter children, women, and the elderly. We have decided the following - to kill all the youths of the town of [inaudible]. Slaughter then, o men!"

Yes to rules for Christians. The Islamic State has released a list of rules dictating how Christians living in the Syrian city of Raqqa should behave,

No public worship
No treachery against ISIS
No church construction or repairs
Do not display crosses in Muslim areas or markets
Praying must be done quietly and should never be heard by Muslims
No mockery of Muslims or Islam
Do not prevent others from converting to Islam

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:08 PM | Permalink
Categories: Civilization - Can We Keep It?

February 28, 2015

Miscellany

What would Ken Burns produce about the 2015 Boston Snow Storms?
 Boston Snow + Sad Fiddle MusicYouTube link

The girl who gets gifts from birds
Lots of people love the birds in their garden, but it's rare for that affection to be reciprocated. Eight-year-old Gabi Mann in Seattle is luckier than most. She feeds the crows in her garden - and they bring her gifts in return.  She sets a bead storage container on the dining room table, and clicks the lid open. This is her most precious collection….
Inside the box are rows of small objects in clear plastic bags. One label reads: "Black table by feeder. 2:30 p.m. 09 Nov 2014." Inside is a broken light bulb. Another bag contains small pieces of brown glass worn smooth by the sea. "Beer colored glass," as Gabi describes it.

 Gifts-From-Crows

Most writers love words. This one loves letters. Review of "Alphabetical: How Every Letter Tells a Story" by Michael Rosen
Michael Rosen knows his ABCs. A poet, novelist and host of the BBC radio show “Word of Mouth,” he has spent a lifetime pondering and deciphering this “cunning code,” as he calls it. In “Alphabetical,” he doesn’t just explore the creation, evolution, pronunciation and uses of each letter throughout the centuries, but digresses into delightful tales of the personalities who shaped the English alphabet into what it has finally become. Though I shouldn’t say “finally.” In Rosen’s telling, letters are born, grow, fight, change or die. Don’t count on these 26 letters being the last word.

“Alphabetical” is organized into 26 chapters (surprise), each devoted to one letter….In “J is for Jokes,” he explains why the alphabet has only 25 letters at Christmastime (“No-el, no-el, no-el, no-e-e-el”). And in “U is for Umlaut,” he destroys my faith in ice cream by explaining that the corporate name Häagen-Dazs “doesn’t mean anything to anyone anywhere in any language.”

Lost Sherlock Holmes Story Discovered in Attic
In 1902, a flood destroyed a wooden bridge in the town of Selkirk, Scotland. Residents tried to raise money to build another one. One proposal was to print and sell a collection of short stories called The Book o’ the Brig. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the author who created the famous detective character Sherlock Holmes, enjoyed visiting the town. So he contributed an original story called “Sherlock Holmes: Discovering the Border Burghs and, by deduction, the Brig Bazaar.”The project was a success and Selkirk got a new bridge. Doyle’s story helped. But it was never published anywhere else. Walter Elliot, a historian, received a copy of The Book o’ the Brig about 50 years ago. He placed it in his attic and forgot about it.  It was only recently that Elliot found the book and Doyle’s story in it. The world now has fresh, original Sherlock Holmes. You can read the entire story here.

Five guys built “Icehenge” on a lake and it is beautiful!

 Icehenge

Comparing genomes: Killer whales are more Cow, Walruses more in common with dogs and wolves, Manatees more closely related to elephants.


Medieval Cathedrals Used to Be Full of Brilliant Colors

 Amiens-Cathedral-West-Facade-Colored-Lighting-2-Of-2

"For the most part, the portable computer is a dream machine for the few" said the New York Times in 1995
On the whole, people don't want to lug a computer with them to the beach or on a train to while away hours they would rather spend reading the sports or business section of the newspaper. Somehow, the microcomputer industry has assumed that everyone would love to have a keyboard grafted on as an extension of their fingers. It just is not so….But the real future of the laptop computer will remain in the specialized niche markets.  Because no matter how inexpensive the machines become, and no matter how sophisticated their software, I still can't imagine the average user taking one along when going fishing.

Astonishing childhood pictures of celebrities
 George Clooney Today, he's considered a hunk.

Ten Reasons People Still Need Cursive
While some argue cursive writing belongs in the archives and Common Core ushers it out of schools, the evidence shows we need it as much as ever.

School lunches around the world

 Schoollunch Spain

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:49 AM | Permalink

February 27, 2015

Camille Paglia, an interview with the "Catholic Pagan"

In America magazine,  The Catholic Pagan: 10 Questions for Camille Paglia, abbreviated

Although raised Catholic in an Italian-American family, Professor Paglia left Catholicism in her youth and embraced the sexual revolution. Nevertheless, she still cites Italian Catholicism as the strongest influence on her personal identity. On Feb. 22, I conducted the following email interview with Professor Paglia about her secular work and its Catholic influences.

Q. You’ve been teaching at University of the Arts since 1984. What do you love most about your job?

C.P. There is no doubt that my commitment to the vocation of teaching is part of my Catholic heritage. I view classroom teaching as a discipline and duty, a responsibility to convey the legacy of the past to the next generation. As I strictly monitor attendance and enforce order, I sometimes ruefully feel like a teaching nun from the over-regulated era of my upstate New York youth…..My faith in that nurturing continuity is certainly diametrically opposed to the cynically subversive approach of today's postmodernist theorists, who see history as a false or repressive narrative operating on disconnected fragments.
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Q. In your view, what’s wrong with American feminism today, and what can it do to improve?

C.P. After the great victory won by my insurgent, pro-sex, pro-fashion wing of feminism in the 1990s, American and British feminism has amazingly collapsed backward again into whining, narcissistic victimology. As in the hoary old days of Gloria Steinem and her Stalinist cohorts, we are endlessly subjected to the hackneyed scenario of history as a toxic wasteland of vicious male oppression and gruesome female suffering. College campuses are hysterically portrayed as rape extravaganzas where women are helpless fluffs with no control over their own choices and behavior. I am an equal opportunity feminist: that is, I call for the removal of all barriers to women's advance in the professional and political realms. However, I oppose special protections for women, which I reject as demeaning and infantilizing. My principal demand (as I have been repeating for nearly 25 years) is for colleges to confine themselves to education and to cease their tyrannical surveillance of students' social lives.  If a real crime is committed, it must be reported to the police.  College officials and committees have neither the expertise nor the legal right to be conducting investigations into he said/she said campus dating fiascos.  Too many of today's young feminists seem to want hovering, paternalistic authority figures to protect and soothe them, an attitude I regard as servile, reactionary and glaringly bourgeois. The world can never be made totally safe for anyone, male or female: there will always be sociopaths and psychotics impervious to social controls. I call my system "street-smart feminism":  there is no substitute for wary vigilance and personal responsibility.

Q. what is post-structuralism and what is your opinion of it?

C.P.  Post-structuralism is a system of literary and social analysis that flared up and vanished in France in the 1960s but that became anachronistically entrenched in British and American academe from the 1970s on. Based on the outmoded linguistics of Ferdinand de Saussure and promoted by the idolized Jacques Derrida, Jacques Lacan, and Michel Foucault, it absurdly asserts that we experience or process reality only through language and that, because language is inherently unstable, nothing can be known. By undermining meaning, history and personal will, post-structuralism has done incalculable damage to education and contemporary thought. It is a laborious, circuitously self-referential gimmick that always ends up with the same monotonous result. I spent six months writing a long attack on academic post-structuralism for the classics journal Arion in 1991, "Junk Bonds and Corporate Raiders: Academe in the Hour of the Wolf" (reprinted in my first essay collection, Sex, Art, and American Culture). Post-structuralism has destroyed two generations of graduate students, who were forced to mouth its ugly jargon and empty platitudes for their foolish faculty elders. And the end result is that humanities departments everywhere, having abandoned their proper mission of defending and celebrating art, have become humiliatingly marginalized in both reputation and impact.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:25 PM | Permalink
Categories: Culture and Society | Categories: Education | Categories: The Sexes

February 25, 2015

Recent advances in medical and health technology

Apple's Health Kit Apple is taking over healthcare: Firm's HealthKit tracking system now being trialled in more than HALF of top US hospitals

Apple's HealthKit which acts as a repository for patient-generated data Health information like blood pressure, weight or heart rate stored

Printing prosthetic hands. Hand of a Superhero  3-D Printing Prosthetic Hands That Are Anything but Ordinary
The proliferation of 3-D printers has had an unexpected benefit: The devices, it turns out, are perfect for creating cheap prosthetics. Surprising numbers of children need them: One in 1,000 infants is born with missing fingers, and others lose fingers and hands to injury. Each year, about 450 children receive amputations as a result of lawn mower accidents, according to a study in Pedatrics..

E-nable, an online volunteer organization, aims to change that. Founded in 2013 by Jon Schull, the group matches children like Dawson in need of prosthetic hands and fingers with volunteers able to make them on 3-D printers. Designs may be downloaded into the machines at no charge, and members who create new models share their software plans freely with others.  The materials for a 3-D-printed prosthetic hand can cost as little as $20 to $50, and some experts say they work just as well, if not better, than much costlier devices. Best of all, boys and girls usually love their D.I.Y. prosthetics.

Thought-controlled robotic hands  Researchers Find Way to Harness Brain to Control Bionic Hands

Fitted With Robotic Hands, Three Austrian Men Are Able to Perform Tasks Such as Buttoning a Coat

Man-made blood?  A major component of blood has been grown in the laboratory by scientists, bringing man-made blood transfusions a step closer.
Biomedical engineers have for the first time produced functional blood platelets - the cells that cause clots to form - from human bone marrow grown in the laboratory.
The achievement raises hopes that it will soon be possible to produce fully functional blood in a similar way.

Scientists hope that by using a patient's stem cells, it should be possible to grow blood that is a perfect match.  The new research demonstrates that it is possible to use human stem cells to grow bone marrow on a matrix of porous silk, which then create blood cells.  The scientists from Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, and the University of Pavia in Italy were able to produce millions of human platelets.

New chocolate reduces wrinkles. Anti-aging chocolate which reduces wrinkles developed by Cambridge University spin-off
A daily 7.5g bar of the chocolate can change the underlying skin structure of a 50 year old to that of someone in their 30s, say developers

Map of human epigenomes. Recipe for the human body revealed could lead to personalized medicine
Epigenome differentiates cells, telling heart muscle cells to not make brain chemicals, for instance.  The human genome is the blueprint for building an individual person.
The epigenome can be thought of as the cross-outs and underlinings of that blueprint: if someone's genome contains DNA associated with cancer but that DNA is 'crossed out' by molecules in the epigenome, for instance, the DNA is unlikely to lead to cancer.

Scientists have for the first time mapped out the molecular 'switches' that can turn on or silence individual genes in the DNA in more than 100 types of human cells.  The groundbreaking accomplishment,  that reveals the complexity of genetic information and the challenges of interpreting it . Researchers unveiled the map of the 'epigenome' in the journal Nature, alongside nearly two dozen related papers. The mapping effort is being carried out under a 10-year, $240 million U.S. government research program, the Roadmap Epigenomics Program, which was launched in 2008.

'The only way you can deliver on the promise of precision medicine is by including the epigenome,' said Manolis Kellis of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who led the mapping that involved scientists in labs from Croatia to Canada and the United States.

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Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:08 PM | Permalink
Categories: Health

"Feminism…is...a terribly deformed but profoundly felt protective reaction to the sexual revolution itself."

Camille-Paglia-On-Feminism-Being-Dead

Mary Eberstadt, "Beneath the swagger and snarl of jailhouse feminism is something pathetic: a search for attention (including, obviously, male attention) on any terms at all".

Feminism has become something very different from what it understands itself to be, and indeed from what its adversaries understand it to be. It is not a juggernaut of defiant liberationists successfully playing offense. It is instead a terribly deformed but profoundly felt protective reaction to the sexual revolution itself. In a world where fewer women can rely on men, some will themselves take on the protective coloration of exaggerated male characteristics — blustering, cursing, belligerence, defiance, and also, as needed, promiscuity.

After all, the revolution reduced the number of men who could be counted on to serve as protectors from time to time, and in several ways. Broken homes put father figures at arm’s length, at times severing that parental bond for good. The ethos of recreational sex blurred the line between protector and predator, making it harder for many women to tell the difference. Meanwhile, the decline of the family has reduced the number of potentially protective men — fewer brothers, cousins, uncles, and others who could once have been counted on to push back against other men treating mothers or sisters or daughters badly. In some worse-off neighborhoods, the number of available men has been further reduced by dramatic rates of incarceration. And simultaneously, the overabundance of available sexual partners has made it harder to hold the attention of any one of them — as has the diminished social and moral cachet of what was once the ultimate male attention-getter, marriage.

It’s a predator’s market out there. The fact that there’s no cottage industry related to “stud-shaming,” or even such a word, says it all. Many women are now exactly what feminists say they are: victims — only not in the way that feminism understands. They are captives behind enemy lines, but the enemy is not patriarchy or gender-norming. It’s the sexual revolution itself. And like other people held hostage for too long by a hostile force, these women are suffering from a problem that has had a name for some time. It’s Stockholm syndrome.

Women are less satisfied and more unhappy since the sexual revolution The paradox of declining female happiness....

Sexuality and the Land

Modern sexual existence, frightened as it is of a life it does not control, implements techniques of power – pornography, menstrual suppression, abortion, surgery, systematic gender theory, and all the rest – to strip sexuality of its otherness, rendering it absolutely subject to our desires….. the price of trans-mutating our dominant relationship with our own sexuality into a relationship of the controlling and the controlled has been, paradoxically, an increased dependence on structures of power to maintain this control.

The independence that contraception, sterilization and abortion give us from our fertility is achieved by a simultaneous dependence upon pharmaceutical companies, surgeons, abortionists. The independence pornography gives our sexual arousal from actual encounters with another is achieved by an increased dependence on the pornography industry, on its stars, producers — and slaves. The freedom the ever-growing system of gender theory gives us from binary sexual identities is bought at the price of a dependence on academics to define and validate the pansexual from the omnisexual, the nonsexual from the asexual, the biromantic or the two-spirited from the polyamorous and bisexual. The freedom of divorce is a dependence on the legal system, and the independence surgery gives us from our bodies is simultaneously a dependence on surgeons — and the cash we owe them. Every liberating innovation in the erotic sphere has trailed the chain of an increased dependence on impersonal structures of power behind it. The will to power has made us powerless.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:22 PM | Permalink
Categories: Culture and Society | Categories: The Sexes

You are a likely a "potential terrorist"

Michael Snyder has the list with linked sources of the 72 Types of Americans That Are Considered "Potential Terrorists"  in Government Documents 

Are you a conservative, a libertarian, a Christian or a gun owner?  Are you opposed to abortion, globalism, Communism, illegal immigration, the United Nations or the New World Order?  Do you believe in conspiracy theories, do you believe that we are living in the “end times” or do you ever visit alternative news websites (such as this one)?

If you answered yes to any of those questions, you are a “potential terrorist” according to official U.S. government documents.

At one time, the term “terrorist” was used very narrowly.  The government applied that label to people like Osama bin Laden and other Islamic jihadists.  But now the Obama administration is removing all references to Islam from terror training materials, and instead the term “terrorist” is being applied to large groups of American citizens.

Let me add from the list, anti-abortion, anti-nuclear, against illegal immigration, have a negative view of the United Nations, suspicious of centralized federal authority, believe in the right to bear arms, exhibits fear of communist regimes, is reverent of individual liberty, is a returning veteran or  an evangelical Christian.

Good Lord.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:32 AM | Permalink
Categories: Brave New World | Categories: Government

February 24, 2015

"They’re getting divorced, and they’ll do anything NOT to get custody of the kids.”

In the WSJ, Nicolas Eberstadt on The Global Flight From the Family
It’s not only in the West or prosperous nations—the decline in marriage and drop in birth rates is rampant, with potentially dire fallout.

"They’re getting divorced, and they’ll do anything NOT to get custody of the kids.” So reads the promotional poster, in French, for a new movie, “Papa ou Maman” (“Daddy or Mommy”), plastered all over Paris during my recent visit there. The movie sounds like quintessential French comedy, but its plot touches on a deep and serious reality—and one not particular to France.

All around the world today, pre-existing family patterns are being upended by a revolutionary new force: the seemingly unstoppable quest for convenience by adults demanding ever-greater autonomy. We can think of this as another triumph of consumer sovereignty, which has at last brought rational choice and elective affinities into a bastion heretofore governed by traditions and duties—many of them onerous. Thanks to this revolution, it is perhaps easier than ever before to free oneself from the burdens that would otherwise be imposed by spouses, children, relatives or significant others with whom one shares a hearth.

Yet in infancy and childhood and then again much later, in feebleness or senescence, people need more from others. Whatever else we may be, we are all manifestly inconvenient at the start and end of life. Thus the recasting of the family puts it on a collision course with the inescapable inconvenience of the human condition itself—portending outcomes and risks we have scarcely begun to consider.
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Our world-wide flight from family constitutes a significant international victory for self-actualization over self-sacrifice, and might even be said to mark a new chapter in humanity’s conscious pursuit of happiness. But these voluntary changes also have unintended consequences. The deleterious impact on the hardly inconsequential numbers of children disadvantaged by the flight from the family is already plain enough. So too the damaging role of divorce and out-of-wedlock childbearing in exacerbating income disparities and wealth gaps—for society as a whole, but especially for children. Yes, children are resilient and all that. But the flight from family most assuredly comes at the expense of the vulnerable young.

That same flight also has unforgiving implications for the vulnerable old. With America’s baby boomers reaching retirement, and a world-wide “gray wave” around the corner, we are about to learn the meaning of those implications firsthand.

"The breakdown of family in ever new ways and directions."  in what the Europeans call The Second Demographic Transition.

Economist Milton Friedman wrote,   "We tend to talk about an individualist society, but it really isn’t, it’s a family society. And the greatest incentives of all, the incentives that have really driven people on, have largely been  the incentives of family. “.  No free society has ever existed that was constituted primarily of individuals pursuing their own interests as isolated individuals. It is stable, successful families, and communities of families, that make a free society possible.  The only real world alternative to a society built upon the state, is a society built upon the family."

Some of this was foreseen by Daniel Patrick Moynihan who warned about family breakdown in the black community 50  years ago.  Jason Riley in the Wall Street Journal Still Right on the Black Family After All These Years . Will liberals ever forgive him?

History has proved that Moynihan was onto something. When the report was released, about 25% of black children and 5% of white children lived in a household headed by a single mother. During the next 20 years the black percentage would double and the racial gap would widen. Today more than 70% of all black births are to unmarried women, twice the white percentage.

For decades research has shown that the likelihood of teen pregnancy, drug abuse, dropping out of school and many other social problems grew dramatically when fathers were absent. One of the most comprehensive studies ever done on juvenile delinquency—by William Comanor and Llad Phillips of the University of California, Santa Barbara, in 2002—concluded that “the most critical factor affecting the prospect that a male youth will encounter the criminal justice system is the presence of his father in the home.”
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Ultimately, the Moynihan report was an attempt to have an honest conversation about family breakdown and black pathology, one that most liberals still refuse to join. Faulting ghetto culture for ghetto outcomes remains largely taboo among those who have turned bad behavior into a symbol of racial authenticity. Moynihan noted that his goal was to better define a problem that many thought—mistakenly, in his view—was no big deal and would solve itself in the wake of civil-rights gains. The author’s skepticism was warranted.

Later this year the nation also will mark the 50th anniversary of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which some consider the most significant achievement of the modern-day civil-rights movement. With a twice-elected black man now occupying the White House, it might be difficult for younger Americans to appreciate this milestone. However, in 1964, three years after Barack Obama was born, black voter registration in Mississippi was less than 7%, the lowest in the South. By 1966 it had grown to 60%, the highest in the South.
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But even as we note this progress, the political gains have not redounded to the black underclass, which by several important measures—including income, academic achievement and employment—has stagnated or lost ground over the past half-century. And while the civil-rights establishment and black political leaders continue to deny it, family structure offers a much more plausible explanation of these outcomes than does residual white racism.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:12 PM | Permalink
Categories: Culture and Society | Categories: Family

Meanwhile, back in Boston

Snowtunnels

 Snowtunell

A team of diggers spent ten hours digging a tunnel (pictured) to make the Wellington T station in Medford, Massachusetts, accessible to bikers and commuters

 Snowtunnel2

When the tunnel through the snow was completed, it was about 40-feet long and big enough to bike through

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:58 PM | Permalink

"The future of the entire internet at stake" Net neutrality is Obamanet

Doesn't the government have enough to do?  Why fix what isn't broken?  It's nothing but a grab for power and control

Republican FCC Commissioners Ask Wheeler To Delay Net Neutrality Vote, Release Proposal

Three days before the Federal Communications Commission is scheduled to vote on the most significant Internet regulations in history, two commissioners are asking Chairman Tom Wheeler to delay the vote and release his proposal to the public.
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“With the future of the entire Internet at stake, it is imperative that the FCC get this right,” the commissioners said. “And to do that, we must live up to the highest standards of transparency. Transparency is particularly important here because the plan in front of us right now is so drastically different than the proposal the FCC adopted and put out for public comment last May.” (

Obama's regs will make Internet slow as in Europe, warn FCC, FEC commissioners

Bottom line, they warned: “Internet freedom works. It is difficult to imagine where we would be today had the government micromanaged the Internet for the past two decades as it does Amtrak and the U.S. Postal Service. Neither of us wants to find out where the Internet will be two decades from now if the federal government tightens its regulatory grip. We don’t need to shift control of the Internet to bureaucracies in Washington. Let’s leave the power where it belongs — with the American people. When it comes to Americans’ ability to access online content or offer political speech online, there isn’t anything broken for the government to “fix.”

In the Wall Street Journal From Internet to Obamanet by L. Gordon Crovitz
Critics of President Obama’s “net neutrality” plan call it ObamaCare for the Internet.  That’s unfair to ObamaCare.

Both ObamaCare and “Obamanet” submit huge industries to complex regulations. Their supporters say the new rules had to be passed before anyone could read them. But at least ObamaCare claimed it would solve long-standing problems. Obamanet promises to fix an Internet that isn’t broken.
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The permissionless Internet, which allows anyone to introduce a website, app or device without government review, ends this week. On Thursday the three Democrats among the five commissioners on the Federal Communications Commission will vote to regulate the Internet under rules written for monopoly utilities.
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The more than 300 pages of new regulations are secret, but Mr. Wheeler says they will subject the Internet to the key provisions of Title II of the Communications Act of 1934, under which the FCC oversaw Ma Bell…..This week Mr. Obama’s bureaucrats will give him the regulated Internet he demands. Unless Congress or the courts block Obamanet, it will be the end of the Internet as we know it.


NB.
Senator Obama: ‘Irresponsible’ For FCC To Vote On Rules Unreleased To The Public

Richard Fernancez, Losing the Internet

The specifics of the grab don’t matter as much as the direction in which things must inevitably move. Regulation is an absorbing state  like the Hotel California.  You can try to check out any time you like, but once inside you can never really leave.  Three hundred pages of regulation will become 301 … 302 … A new administration might slow down the rate of growth, but it can never reverse it.
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Lawfare, the use of sanctions — in fact every application of  ”smart” policy — implicitly depends on information dominance.  Information is the key to the Western elite’s power. It is probably the administration’s idea that possession of tech will open the gates to this new World Order….There Lawfare is waiting to defend the West with surveillance.  Homeland Defense doesn’t really rely on screeners at airports or border crossings who are there only to impress the rubes. The real defense of the realm depends on ever increasing amounts of domestic monitoring.  The cracked encryption on your SIM; the data retained on your ISP, the real-time machine monitoring of conversations, the proposed sharing of data collected by Silicon Valley these are all bricks in the wall that keep the Jihadis out. They are also bricks in the invisible prison that surrounds you. But a brick is a brick and the information sharing the president proposes will naturally enough be put under Homeland Security rather than the NSA.
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The actual effect of government control is to institutionalize incompetence. The more Obama controls, the more he destroys.  Take Obamacare. Hardly a day goes by when we don’t read that 80 million records have been stolen by Chinese hackers from Obamacare provider Anthem;  or that Obamacare itself is sharing information with third party providers.  Only the other day the public learned that 800,000 wrong tax forms were mailed to Obamacare policy holders because they used the wrong year in the computation; that after 3 years the backend isn’t finished.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:49 PM | Permalink
Categories: Government

Health Roundup: Coffee, slumping, saunas, Vit D + diabetes, statins, anti-depressants, donating eggs risky, new anti-HIV drug

Britain's National Health Service is rationing hearing aids. - To save money, patients are getting only one device to to be worn on left OR right ear.

Government panel recommends FIVE CUPS of coffee a day to ward off heart disease, liver cancer and Parkinson's
A panel of experts from the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, which convenes every five years, did a detailed assessment of the caffeinated beverage for the first time. They recommend drinking three to five cups a day or 400 mg.For pregnant women, the report suggests limiting coffee consumption to two cups a day

SLUMPING could be causing your headaches: Increased pressure on the neck not stress or dehydration is to blame, experts say
But experts suggest most headaches are actually caused increased pressure on the neck, made worse by bad posture.  Experts say 80 per cent of all tension-type headaches - the most common type of headache - are caused by muscles in the neck.

Regular SAUNAS could save your life: Getting sweaty even once a week halves the risk of dying from heart disease
Regular sessions appear to protect against early deaths from any cause and those who visit saunas most often get the greatest benefit.
Study: 'Time spent in the sauna is time well spent, but it's not clear why'

The vanishing cream for TATTOOS: Lotion offers pain-free alternative to laser removal by targeting pigmented blood cells  created by a Alec Falkenham, a PhD student in Pathology at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Lack of sunshine increases the risk of diabetes MORE than being obese
The new Spanish study, published in the Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, found it was a deficiency in vitamin D - dubbed the 'sunshine vitamin' - rather than what a person weighs that increased their risk of diabetes.  This is because there was a direct link between low vitamin D levels and how the body metabolized glucose.  Dr Manuel Macías-González, of the University of Malaga, Spain, said: 'Our findings indicate that vitamin D is associated more closely with glucose metabolism than obesity.

Pill that could help tell if you have CANCER: Scientists hope drug will allow blood tests to replace painful biopsies
The latest research by John Ronald and Sanjiv Gambhir is to be published today in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences……The Stanford team’s approach involves giving people a drug containing circular pieces of DNA which are to break into tumor cells.  The DNA - called minicircles - prompts the cancerous cells to secrete a specific protein into the bloodstream.

The benefits of taking statins have been exaggerated, two leading experts claim.
Although they can dramatically cut cholesterol levels, they have ‘failed to substantially improve cardiovascular outcomes’, says an analysis of data in clinical trials….The two authors say in the analysis, published in the Expert Review of Clinical Pharmacology: ‘The adverse effects suffered by people taking statins are more common than reported in the media and at medical conferences…‘Increased rates of cancer, cataracts, diabetes, cognitive impairments and musculoskeletal disorders more than offset the modest cardiovascular benefits of statin treatment.’…Statin advocates have used statistical deception to create the illusion that statins are “wonder drugs,” when the reality is that their modest benefits are more than offset by their adverse effects’, they claim.

The science behind commonly used anti-depressants appears to be backwards, researchers say

The authors of the paper, published by the journal Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, combed existing research for evidence to support the theory that has dominated nearly 50 years of depression research: that depression is related to low levels of serotonin in the gaps between cells in the brain.

The low-serotonin theory is the basis for commonly prescribed serotonin re-uptake inhibitor (SSRI) anti-depressant medications which keep the neurotransmitter's levels high by blocking its re-absorption into the cells that release it.  Those serotonin-boosting medications actually make it harder for patients to recover, especially in the short term

Young women Don’t donate your eggs for research. The risks are too great
Young women are being exploited. Clinics are offering hefty compensation to donors despite the fact that donating for mitochondrial research offers NO medical benefit to the donor.  Even the tiniest risk of complication needs to be taken seriously especially when dealing with perfectly healthy young women, who have no need to undergo a potentially life-threatening procedure. Procedures with risk are performed on sick patients with the understanding that the benefits of the procedure outweigh the risks or the consequences of doing nothing. But in egg donation for mitochondrial research there is no medical benefit, only risk.
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In the U.S. Dr Suzanne Parisian, former Chief Medical Officer at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), warns, in this short, two minute video, about the harms, risk and lack of studies done on egg donors, from both the drugs and the procedures to get the eggs: ‘There are no numbers. [The donor] doesn’t appear anywhere, in the medial literature, tracking or Government oversight…The studies have never been done.’
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In England The Government admits that there is no definitive data on the number of women who have been hospitalized for ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) after egg donation. But we do know that just under half of 864 reported clinical incidents between 2010-2012 were due to OHSS. And: ‘Each year approximately 60 instances of severe OHSS and 150 cases of moderate OHSS are reported to the HFEA.’

Scientists say they have created an anti-HIV drug so powerful that it could work as a vaccine.
Macaque monkeys given the drug were able to fend off high, repeated doses of the simian version of the disease.
The protein-based drug (ECD4-LG} has been 'astonishingly effective' at blocking every major strain of HIV tested, marking a major step towards a cure for AIDS, the researchers claim.  The technique works by using gene therapy to introduce a new section of DNA inside healthy cells.  How the ECD4-LG Drug Works

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:41 AM | Permalink
Categories: Health

February 23, 2015

How Coptic Christians react to the "flowing river of Christian blood in the Middle East"

 Icon 21Coptic Martyrs Tony Rezk
Tony Rezk is the iconographer

The Coptic Martyrs

The Coptic Orthodox Church has declared “martyrs” the 21 Copts slaughtered by ISIS for being Christians. Their feast day will be February 15, the day they died on the beach in Libya. From Radio Vaticana:

In an interview with Christian channel SAT-7 ARABIC on Wednesday, Beshir Kamel, brother of two of the Coptic martyrs, even thanked the Islamic State for including their declaration of faith in the videos before killing them. “ISIS gave us more than we asked when they didn’t edit out the part where they declared their faith and called upon Jesus Christ. ISIS helped us strengthen our faith,” he said. Beshir said that he was proud of his brothers Bishoy and Samuel, saying that their martyrdom was “a badge of honor to Christianity.”

Heaven in the Face of Hell  The families of 21 Coptic Christians martyred in Libya showed a gratitude not of this world.

Twenty-one Egyptian Coptic Christians were slaughtered on a beach in Libya a week ago. And even in his mourning, the brothers of two of them gave thanks. Beshir Kamel, brother of both Bishoy Astafanus Kamel, who was 25, and Somaily Astafanus Kamel, who was 23, thanked their murderers for not editing out the name of their Savior when disseminating the video of their beheadings. Appearing on an Arabic Christian television station, Kamel said that the families of the men, laborers who were working in Libya in order to provide for their families — 13 of them from the same small, impoverished village — were congratulating one another. “We are proud to have this number of people from our village who have become martyrs,” he explained.

Who would have an ounce of gratitude at such a moment? The answer: one who has hope — hope of something real and eternal.
It sounds crazy to a modern secular society, one that tends to view religious faith as sentiment, comfort, and milestone ritual. Kamel said: “Since the Roman era, Christians have been martyred and have learned to handle everything that comes our way. This only makes us stronger in our faith because the Bible told us to love our enemies and bless those who curse us.” And he relayed what his mother had said, when asked what she would do if she ever met the man who had beheaded her son. “My mother, an uneducated woman in her sixties, said she would ask [him] to enter her house and ask God to open his eyes because he was the reason her son entered the kingdom of heaven.”
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The Christianity of the men who were martyred for their faith, is “the most important aspect of the story,” said Samuel Tadros, the author of a book on Christians in Egypt, Motherland Lost, and a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom. “ISIS gunmen chose these men from among other Egyptians living there because they were Copts,” he said. “This was no random choice. ISIS holds deep hostility to say the least towards Middle Eastern Christians. Its goal is quite simply the eradication of their existence

WATCH The Amazing Copts Filled With Joy For The 21 Martyred Copts

Harrowing scenes of the murders have been seen around the world. The last words of some of those killed were “Ya Rabbi Yasou” (My Lord Jesus Christ).   Imagine thanking the killers of two of your brothers who were beheaded and video taped for the whole world to watch the barberic cruelty. Yet, this is exactly what the brother of two of the 21 Coptic Christians did when ISIS murdered both of them in Libya last week. With amazing grace comes amazing faith. Speaking on a live prayer and worship program Beshir Kamel said that he was proud of his brothers Bishoy Estafanos Kamel (25) and Samuel Estafanos Kamel (23) because they were “a badge of honor to Christianity”.

The amazing faith of Beshir Kamel even gave thanks, not just to God and Christ, but also to ISIS for not editing out the men’s declaration of belief in Christ because he said this had strengthened not only his own faith but the families of the ex-patriate workers were “congratulating one another” and not in despair: “We are proud to have this number of people from our village who have become martyrs,” he told the program.
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“When we saw the video we were filled with joy. They were like lions, none of them left their faith. We thank God…..We are so glad. They are with Christ. We thank the Lord….  They went to the eternal joy. We were tired when we did not know, but we were filled with joy when we found out they were heroic”…..Lam’i said “It is as if Christ has opened the heavens for them and He said ‘come up hither’ or why else they would all be kneeling firmly with joy and firmness in their faith."

Bad Catholic on The Difference Between a Martyr and a Victim

The martyr is not glorified for the abuse, torture, or deprivation she suffers, as if we held her up in awe of what was taken from her. No, the martyr is something essentially positive, from the Greek martur – a witness, a pointing-towards, an icon and profound evidence of the immense value and the unspeakable worthiness of that for which she dies.

The martyr, then, is not the victim. The victim is referred to some enemy (a victim of a freak boating accident, of the measles, of terrorism) while the martyr is referred to some friend (a martyr for God, for country, for peace). The victim is referred to a moment in the past (she was a victim of gang violence) while the martyr is a martyr by virtue of a quality she has in the present moment, even after she is dead (she is a martyr). The victim is held up to direct our negative attention towards the cause of her victimhood (look at what evil has wrought!) while the martyr is held up to direct our positive attention towards the reason for her martyrdom (look at her incredible faith, her courage, her commitment, her love for God, etc.). The victim’s death works against her life, coming in the form of a homicide, a buffalo stampede, a car crash, all without any meaningful, harmonious relationship to the content of her existence. The martyr’s death, on the other hand, is in profound harmony with the content of her existence. It does not end her life, pulling down the curtain in the midst of Act II, so much as it crowns her life, a fruit and reasonable consequence of its direction and intention — she lived as a Christian and died for it.

Isis in Libya: Tripoli Catholic Bishop defies beheading threat refusing to leave

The head of the Catholic Church in Libya has refused to flee the country amid crumbling security, saying he would rather risk being beheaded by jihadist militants than abandon his shrinking flock.  Italy evacuated all its nationals from the northern African country at the weekend, as Islamist militants were taking sway, also posting a gruesome online video depicting the slaughter of 21 Coptic Christians on a beach near Tripoli.  Father Giovanni Innocenzo Martinelli, the bishop of Tripoli, however decided to stay back.  "My community is here. How could I give up? ….It would be a betrayal."


Coptic Catholics consecrate first church in Sinai, against backdrop of martyrdom

For Coptic Christians, threat of martyrdom is part of daily life

“These 21 victims, they were not the first and they will not be the last. There is a flowing river of Christian blood in the Middle East,” said Mina Abdelmalak, one of the organizers of a D.C. candlelight prayer vigil outside the White House on Ash Wednesday.
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“Most people living in those areas, really every day they live by the grace of God,” explained Fr. Anthony Messeh of the St. Timothy and St. Athanasius Coptic Orthodox Church in Arlington, Va.  "They’re not as shaken by these things as we are, because they count every day as a gift from God.” Their public faith could mean “the end of their life,” he told CNA.
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Faith for the Copts is everything, “a life that they’re willing to lose for the sake of their faith.” This is why the “extreme bravery” of the Coptic martyrs is so compelling, . “They’re doing the stuff that we’re preaching,” he said.

In 2013, the late Bob Simon reported on The Copts .

Heba Morayef, who headed Human Rights Watch in Egypt, says the pope's support of the military was denounced at Muslim Brotherhood rallies which often blamed Christians for conspiring to overthrow Morsi…..Accusations that Christians were responsible for the coup. Chants that would call Christians the Pope's dogs. ,,,, It all came to an abrupt end last August 14th -- when the army crushed two huge Muslim Brotherhood encampments. Close to a thousand protestors were killed.  The dispersal of the two sit-ins on August 14th were the most bloody incidents of police violence we've ever seen in Egypt.    As word of the killings spread all across Egypt, Muslim mobs began attacking Christian churches.

… In a town called Kerdasa, a mob broke down the gate of another Coptic church complex.  Redha Girgis, a caretaker, "They looted everything from chairs to pews. They stole anything that could be carried, what they couldn't carry, they destroyed….They set the whole place on fire, with Molotov cocktails and gasoline. And, on their way out, the attackers left behind a calling card: graffiti saying that Egypt is Islamic. The whole complex was gutted. Everything was incinerated: pews, paintings, Bibles.

The Copts had supported the overthrow of Muslim Brotherhood rule, were overjoyed when the army took over. But when they saw their churches in flames, they realized they were paying a price for siding with the military and that they were on their own. No one was going to help them.  But martyrdom has always been at the core of the Coptic religion. Suffering, Copts believe, deepens their faith. The day we were in Kerdasa - they held a service in the only place that hadn't been destroyed. But we were surprised there was no anger, no call for revenge.


Recent attacks against the Copts

2010 Nag Hammadi massacre.  As Coptic Christians were leaving midnight Christmas mass, Muslim gunmen killed 8 Copts and one Muslim bystander and injured 9 Copts 
2011 Alexandria bombing of the Saint Mark and Pope Peter Coptic Orthodox Church where several thousand Copts were attending a New Year's service. 23 Copts were killed and 197.
2011 Imbaba church attacks.  St Mina and the Virgin Mary Church in Imbaba, a working class area in Cairo, attacked and burned by Salafi Muslims.  15 people killed, 232 injured, and many Christian-owned houses and businesses destroyed.   
2011 The Maspero Massacre. Video.  Thousands of protestors peacefully marched on the Maspero TV tower demonstrating against the military's silence over the burning of a church and the armed forces recent attacks on a similar protest a few days earlier. That day the military killed twenty-eight civilians, injured hundreds, and arrested thirty.

You can see the spirit, the strength and the joy of the Copts in this video shortly after the Maspero Massacre, Coptic Christians cry out Jesus for 10 minutes.

 Copts Call Out Jesus  YouTube link


Turmoil in Egypt - Who was in power and when

2011 Revolution.  Amid the Arab spring and the discontent over the 30 year autocratic rule of Hosni Mubarak, protests broke out across Egypt.  Two days later, the Muslim Brotherhood threw its support behind the protests.  18 days later, Mubarak resigns.  The Armed Forces assume control and promise free elections
June 2012,  Elections  held: 
Mohammed Morsi , a leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood wins 51.7% of the vote and took office
Nov 2012: Morsi grants himself unlimited powers to 'protect' the nation, including the power to legislate without judicial review. 
Dec  2012  Constitution of 2012 includes many elements of Sharia law as defined by Sunnis. Massive protests and violent action throughout the country follow
Early 2013.  Massive protests and violent action throughout the country and calls for Morsi to resign
July 3, 2013 Egyptian coup d'etat
led by the Egyptian army chief General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi removed the President of Egypt, Mohamed Morsi, from power and suspended the Egyptian constitution.  Arrests and detention of Muslim brotherhood members and closure of their medial outlets, their party (Freedom & Justice) banned.
May 2014.  Former army chief Abdel Fattah el-Sisi  elected as President in new elections with 47% turnout and 96% of the vote.
El-Sisi also became the first Egyptian president in the entire Egyptian history to attend the Christmas Mass and gave a speech at the Coptic Orthodox Christmas service in Cairo in January 2015 calling for unity and wishing the Christians a merry Christmas.  He has  greatly improved relations with Israel, and donated half his salary and half his inheritance to help rebuild the Egyptian economy, called for a year long fast track  to double the size of the Suez Canal and so increase its revenues.    He is overwhelmingly popular.

Glimmers of Hope.  As the leader of the largest Arab nation, on New Year's Day before an audience of leading imans,  he gave an extraordinary speech on Islam

It’s inconceivable that the thinking that we hold most sacred should cause the entire umma [Islamic world] to be a source of anxiety, danger, killing and destruction for the rest of the world.  Impossible!

That thinking—I am not saying “religion” but “thinking”—that corpus of texts and ideas that we have sacralized over the years, to the point that departing from them has become almost impossible, is antagonizing the entire world.  It’s antagonizing the entire world!

Is it possible that 1.6 billion people [Muslims] should want to kill the rest of the world’s inhabitants—that is 7 billion—so that they themselves may live? Impossible!

I say and repeat again that we are in need of a religious revolution. You, imams, are responsible before Allah. The entire world, I say it again, the entire world is waiting for your next move… because this umma is being torn, it is being destroyed, it is being lost—and it is being lost by our  hands.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:03 PM | Permalink
Categories: Civilization - Can We Keep It? | Categories: Spirituality and Religion

February 21, 2015

What ISIS says about beheading of 21 Christian Copts

What ISIS says about beheading of 21 Christian Copts

 21 Coptic Holy Martyrs

Raymond Ibrahim watched the video.  I could not.
The disputed fate of the 21 Coptic Christians abducted in Sirte, Libya is now clear and visible for all to see on video: while holding them down, Islamic State members shove their fingers in the Christians’ eyes, crane their heads back, and slice away at their throats with knives—all in the name of Allah and Islam, all as the slaughtered call out on the “Lord Jesus Christ.”...

The lead executioner waves his dagger at the camera while boasting of the Islamic State’s savagery: “Oh people, recently you have seen us on the hills of as-Sham and Dabiq’s plain [Syrian regions], chopping off the heads that have been carrying the cross for a long time.  And today, we are on the south of Rome, on the land of Islam, Libya, sending another message.”

He adds: “We will fight you until Christ descends, breaks the cross and kills the pig” (all eschatological actions ascribed to the Muslim “Christ,” Isa).

They had "grievances"
An article in Dabiq, the Islamic State’s online magazine in English titled “Revenge for the Muslimat [Muslim women]: Persecuted by the Coptic Crusaders of Egypt” claims that 21 Christians were slaughtered in “revenge” for two Coptic women who, back in 2010 and according to Islamic propaganda, were compelled by Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church to recant their conversion to Islam and return to Christianity.

Great reward” for killing Coptic Christians
In other words, due to the 2010 “good deed” of killing nearly 60 Christians during church service in Iraq, Allah has allowed the Islamic State to grow and kill more Christians in Libya and elsewhere. …“there is no doubt in the great reward to be found on Judgment Day for those who spill the blood of these Coptic crusaders wherever they may be found…

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:00 PM | Permalink
Categories: Civilization - Can We Keep It?

How ISIS is funded

Self-funded and deep-rooted: How ISIS makes its millions

Matthew Levitt, director of the Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy in Washington, D.C., calls ISIS "the best-financed group we've ever seen…..Besides revenue from oil smuggling, the group receives money through donations from wealthy sympathizers in countries including Qatar and Kuwait. But the group has another method of funding itself: through organized crime within the territories it has vanquished and now controls. The group, says Levitt, was born among crooks and thugs from a broken Iraq, and at its root it is a criminal enterprise.
--
ISIS can demand money from people wherever it has established control. Want to do business in ISIS-controlled territory? You pay a tax. Want to move a truck down an ISIS-controlled highway? You pay a toll. Villagers in ISIS territory reportedly are charged and pay for just about everything…. They also control sort of the breadbasket of Syria, in terms of Raqqa (their defacto capital). They've got the cotton and the wheat and all these other things. All of these serve as sort of economic and powerhouse or funding for ISIS."

ISIS Inc

The terrorist group relies on a relatively complex system to manage its far-reaching networks. Its currencies of choice—cash, crude oil and contraband—allow it to operate outside of legitimate banking channels. Turkey’s southern corridor, Iraq’s northwestern corridor and Syria’s northeastern corridor are key weak spots, well away from the prying eyes of outside investigators.

Royal Donors in the Gulf.
ISIS has accepted funding from government or private sources in the oil-rich nations of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait—and a large network of private donors, including Persian Gulf royalty, businessmen and wealthy families.  Until recently, all three countries had openly given hefty sums to rebels fighting Bashar Assad’s Syrian regime, among them ISIS.
--
A couple of factors are frustrating attempts to dam these rivers of cash. First, the relatively open banking systems of Qatar and Kuwait are being skillfully exploited by ISIS, since, unlike Saudi banks, they do not automatically raise red flags when money is siphoned to Islamist causes. Second, Qatar and Kuwait are loath to limit the activities of highly influential ISIS donors due to the political fallout such intervention may cause.

Fake Humanitarian Aid.  These donations, Newsweek has learned, are also routinely laundered through unregistered charities in the form of “humanitarian aid,” with terrorists coordinating geographical drop-off points for payments using cellphone applications such as WhatsApp and Kik.  WhatsApp, bought by Facebook last month for $19 billion, would not respond to Newsweek questions about whether it was aware ISIS operatives were using its mobile-messaging platform or whether it had a policy to flag, monitor or report to U.S. authorities the communications of known terrorists.

Captured oil wells and oil smuggling.
Oil-smuggling operations involving millions of barrels have recently been uncovered.
The oil comes from wells and refineries that ISIS has taken over inside northern Iraq and northern Syria, and until very recently it was easy to smuggle it into this quiet part of southern Turkey. One reason is that cheap, smuggled oil is a much-prized commodity in Turkey, where oil is so expensive that it almost doesn't matter who is selling it, even if it's your enemy.


Organ trafficking
ISIS Selling Human Organs Harvested From Dead Soldiers And Alive Hostages To Generate Huge Profits, Fund Terror Group

For months, foreign doctors have allegedly been recruited by ISIS commanders to harvest internal organs not only from the bodies of their own dead soldiers, but also from living hostages - including children - taken from minority villages in Iraq and Syria, according to a report by al-Monitor news website.

"Surgeries take place within a hospital and organs are quickly transported through networks specialized in trafficking human organs," the report's author wrote.  "The organs come from fallen fighters who were quickly transported to the hospital, injured people who were abandoned or individuals who were kidnapped."

But according to doctor Siruwan al-Mosuli, an extensive organ trafficking system, which is already beginning to generate huge profits, is currently being run by hired foreign doctors from a hospital in the captured city of Mosul, northern Iraq, Western Journalism reported…"[Al-Mosuli] said that lately he noticed unusual movement within medical facilities in Mosul Arab and foreign surgeons were hired, but prohibited from mixing with local doctors," the report said. "Information then leaked about organ selling."

After completing operational procedures at the hospital, the human hearts, livers and kidneys are transferred to a specialist organ-smuggling division whose sole responsibility is to sell the internal organs on the lucrative international black market, the Iraqi ear, nose and throat doctor said. Then, a majority of the organs are smuggled out of Syria and Iraq into neighboring countries like Saudi Arabia or Turkey where criminal gangs sell them on to shady buyers across the globe, the Assyrian International News Agency reported.

UN urged to investigate ISIS's bloody trade in human organs after Iraqi ambassador reveals doctors are being executed for not harvesting body parts The shocking news of ISIS trade in human organs was first revealed in a report by al-Monitor news website in December, citing an Iraqi ear, nose and throat doctor named Siruwan al-Mosuli.  He told the site that ISIS commanders hired foreign doctors to run an extensive organ trafficking system from a hospital in Mosul that is already beginning to generate huge profits.

Drug smuggling Drug smuggling, supplying half of Europe's heroin market.   Al Monitor's report claims that IS traffics Afghan heroin into Europe from the city of Nineveh, which the Russian Federal Drug Control Service (RFDCS) says is generating 'significant revenues.'
Its drug business has become so successful in recent months that the RFDCS claims that IS now supplies half of Europe's entire heroin market.

Looting and selling antiquities Looted from ancient buildings in ISIS strongholds, such as the group's de facto capital city Raqqa, the antiquities are up to 10,000-years-old and can exchange hands for more than $1 million each….The finer points of ISIS trade in antiquities was uncovered in an investigation by the BBC.  It revealed that ISIS militants charge smugglers 20 per cent on the sale of ancient items found or looted in territory under its control. If the smugglers decide not to buy the items, they are promptly smashed to pieces as examples of idolatry, regardless of their historic significance

Human trafficking  A report by OHCHR confirmed that more than 25,000 women and children have been imprisoned, sexually violated and sold by IS….The Times of London exposed “a human trafficking network established by ISIS in Mosul, where women and children were sold for money. This also constitutes a funding source for the fighters. According to the newspaper, women and children of Yazidi, Christian and other minority backgrounds are also sold through a networking hub in Syria’s Raqqa.”

Human smuggling The sixth funding source is human smuggling rings, especially for families who wish to emigrate to other countries. One family reached Turkey after reportedly paying $8,000 for each individual that escaped

Kidnapping for CashRansoms from kidnappings make up about 20 percent of ISIS’s revenue, says Integrity’s Jiyad. The U.S. Treasury estimates ISIS has received $20 million in ransoms so far this year. 

Sale of passports and counterfeit goods. Foreign Affairs: Blood Money - How ISIS Makes Bank
Still more funding comes from the sale of counterfeit cigarettes, pharmaceuticals, cell phones, antiquities, and foreign passports. The trafficking of some of these commodities into Turkey from Syria has risen dramatically. For example, cigarette smuggling has increased, fuel smuggling is estimated to have tripled, and cell phone smuggling has risen fivefold. ISIS is also taxing black market antiquities at 20–50 percent, depending on the region and type of antiquity. Meanwhile, foreign fighters sell their passports for thousands of dollars in Turkey before entering Syria, where the proceeds help fund them and ISIS. These particular forms of illicit trade are attractive to terrorists because there is less competition, less regulation, and limited law enforcement in these markets compared to others, such as the arms and narcotics trades.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:57 PM | Permalink
Categories: Civilization - Can We Keep It?

'What could be more useful than a road that would give my fellow villagers the opportunities that I had?'

Creating and realizing his legacy gives his last days meaning, passion and purpose

Dying man chooses to spend his life savings building a road to the impoverished village where he grew up rather than treat his liver cancer

Hollywood icon Audrey Hepburn once said 'it's a wonderful idea that others come first and you come second.'  Nowhere is this better embodied than by the deeds of Huang Yuanfeng, a southern-Chinese man who has sacrificed his life for the residents of an isolated village.

 Selfless Chinese-Man
Still directing his project though too weak to stand
The 45-year-old suffers from debilitating liver cancer. But rather than funding the costly treatment for his disease which will give him the chance to live, Mr Huang has instead resolved to use his life-savings on building a road through the previously impassible mountains that lead into his home town of Xiaojiangtun.  Mr Huang hope his legacy will be renewed trade and tourism to the impoverished town,

Xiaojiangtun sits on the far south of China, bordering Vietnam. For generations, locals have endured days of arduous trekking to get out of the village, which is hemmed in by towering rivers and cliffs.  Mr Huang moved from the village as a teenager and spent twenty years as a migrant worker in Guilin, a popular tourist destination. It was here he amassed his savings.

As was one of few locals to escape the severely remote village, he knows how vital the road is for the locals.
'What could be more useful than a road that would give my fellow villagers the opportunities that I had?' Mr Huang told Mirror.
The four-kilometre-long Xiaojiangtun road, completed this month, steers through cliffs, forests and rivers to connect the town to a national highway.

Despite being too weak to stand on his feet most of the time, Mr Huang oversaw the entire process, directing the workers from a chair as he took his medicine through eight hour days….Thankfully, he did not have to brave the task alone: his father, wife and daughter have stood by Mr Huang throughout the selfless venture.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:29 PM | Permalink
Categories: Meaning, Passion and Purpose

"The dream has become a nightmare… billions of network users are victims, not beneficiaries"

Andrew Keen in an article adapted from his new book  The Internet is Not the Answer

How the internet is destroying us: Its pioneers hoped the web would transform society. Now a devastating new book says it has - in a way that diminishes humanity 

The dream has become a nightmare, in which I fear we billions of network users are victims, not beneficiaries.

In our super-connected 21st-century world, rather than promoting economic fairness, the net is a central reason for the growing gulf between rich and poor and the hollowing out of the middle classes.  Rather than generating more jobs, it is - as I will explain - a cause of unemployment. Rather than creating more competition, it has created immensely powerful new monopolists such as Google and Amazon in a winner-takes-all economy.

Its cultural ramifications are equally chilling. Rather than creating transparency and openness, it secretly gathers information and keeps a watch on each and every one of us.

And thanks to the explosion in social media, rather than creating more democracy, the internet is empowering mob rule.

This month, after years of social networks being scarred by appalling personal abuse and bullying - leading to several suicides - Twitter, which has 288 million users a month, finally admitted there was ‘no excuse’ for its failure to stop its users sending vile messages to the targets of their hatred.
The company’s boss, Dick Costolo, admitted: ‘I’m frankly ashamed at how poorly we’ve dealt with this issue. It’s absurd.’
---
The internet has also unleashed a seemingly unstoppable flow of increasingly hardcore sexual materials. Only this week it emerged that half a million pornographic images are posted on Twitter every day.  Pornography is so ubiquitous on the internet, and controls denying access so inadequate, that many parents rightly feel their children are at serious risk.

And when people are not looking online at other people with no clothes on, they are looking at themselves. Rather than fostering an intellectual renaissance, the internet has created a selfie-centred culture of voyeurism and narcissism.

Far from making us happy, it is provoking and channelling an outpouring of anger at the world around us.
Of course, the internet is not all bad. It has done tremendous good in connecting families, friends and work colleagues around the world.
---
Yet for our input in adding intelligence to Google, or content to Facebook, we are paid nothing, merely being granted the right to use the software free. And that’s what is driving the new ‘data factory’ economy.
The whole point of the free Instagram app is to mine its users’ data. Our photos reveal to Instagram more and more about our tastes, our movements, our friends. The app in effect reverses the camera lens.
--
Google and Facebook boast that they know us more intimately than we know ourselves. They know what we did yesterday, today and, with the help of predictive technology, what we will do tomorrow.
And it is, frankly, our fault for choosing to live in a crystal republic where cars, mobile phones and televisions — hooked up to the internet — watch us.  Far from being the answer to our problems, the internet, whose pioneers believed it would save humanity, is diminishing our lives.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:02 AM | Permalink
Categories: Culture and Society

"Intimidation on the quad, multiplied over many years and campuses, is an unseen engine of secularization."

In the Intercollegiate Review Mary Eberstadt writes From Campus Bullies to Empty Churches

The question of secularization—or how it is that societies once markedly religious become less so, particularly the societies of what’s known as Western civilization—has been much studied in modern times. Urbanization, rationalism, higher education, industrialization, feminism: these are just some of the possible causal agents debated by sociologists when they try to figure out why some people stop going to church.

Yet one highly significant social fact that rather obviously bears on the question of secularization has gone unnoticed. That is the relationship between the well-documented decline in Western churchgoing, especially among Millennials, and the simultaneous rise of a toxic public force on campuses across the Western world: the new intolerance.

“The new intolerance” is shorthand for the chilled public atmosphere in which religious believers now operate……An atheist or other nonbeliever might say students lose religion because college is where they learn higher reasoning, and higher reasoning drives out the superstition of faith. That kind of answer might seem to make perfect sense—except that it’s refuted by the facts. In fact, social science points to the opposite conclusion: better-educated people are actually more likely than those with less education to be found in church.
--
the campus these days is ground zero of the new intolerance…..The intimidation varies from one campus to another, from one department to another, and from one protest to another. But while the decibels of ferocity may change, the negative posture toward religious believers ­themselves—or for that matter toward anyone who finds anything of value in the Judeo-Christian tradition and bothers to defend it—remains the same.
--
It’s time to air the idea that college students do not stay out of church or synagogue because their education leads them to enlightened conclusions about the big questions. No, the more likely dynamic is that thanks to the new intolerance, the social and other costs of being a known believer in the public square mount by the year—and students take note. Hence intimidation on the quad, multiplied over many years and campuses, is an unseen engine of secularization.

Sometimes there's blowback.  David French  in How Political Correctness Improved My Life

From that point forward — in class after class — I had a simple choice: be silent or face the strong probability of insults, shout-downs, cat-calls, and other lame efforts at intimidation. In extreme instances, conservative students had their faces pasted on gay porn and posted in the halls. Other students endured activists calling future employers and demanding their termination. While I didn’t face the full wrath of campus activists, I endured more than my share of intensely personal backlash. The shout-downs were routine, so were the insults.
And the entire experience made me a better, wiser person.  I felt at the time that I’d faced and passed a test — that I’d proven to myself that my convictions were worth more to me than social acceptance.
--
Political correctness demystified the Left. I saw amongst the radical students a herd mentality more rigid and unthinking than I’d ever seen in an entire life growing up in a fundamentalist church (yes, fundamentalist — our little sect believed only its members merited eternal life). The herd conventional wisdom hardened virtually overnight, debate was minimal to nonexistent, and condescension and anger substituted for reason and thought.
--
I don’t pretend to believe that PC is the sole reason for national division, but political correctness is changing America, and not always in the direction that the Left desires. I’m living proof — and so are the conservatives across the country who’ve faced political correctness and emerged more convinced, not less, in the rightness of their cause.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:58 AM | Permalink
Categories: Culture and Society | Categories: Education | Categories: Spirituality and Religion

February 20, 2015

Miscellany

I live outside Boston and it's really, truly the worst winter ever.  Below are my 2 favorite snow storm photos.

 Boston Snowstorm Fav

When a black German woman discovered her grandfather was the Nazi villain of 'Schindler's List'  An odd series of events led Jennifer Teege to discover that her grandfather was none other than the notorious Nazi Amon Goeth.

Why Footbinding Persisted in China for a Millennium Despite the pain, millions of Chinese women stood firm in their devotion to the tradition

"A small foot in China, no different from a tiny waist in Victorian England, represented the height of female refinement. For families with marriageable daughters, foot size translated into its own form of currency and a means of achieving upward mobility. The most desirable bride possessed a three-inch foot, known as a “golden lotus.” It was respectable to have four-inch feet—a silver lotus—but feet five inches or longer were dismissed as iron lotuses. The marriage prospects for such a girl were dim indeed.
 Footbinding Golden Lotus
----
"Foot-binding, which started out as a fashionable impulse, became an expression of Han identity after the Mongols invaded China in 1279. The fact that it was only performed by Chinese women turned the practice into a kind of shorthand for ethnic pride. Periodic attempts to ban it, as the Manchus tried in the 17th century, were never about foot-binding itself but what it symbolized. To the Chinese, the practice was daily proof of their cultural superiority to the uncouth barbarians who ruled them. It became, like Confucianism, another point of difference between the Han and the rest of the world. Ironically, although Confucian scholars had originally condemned foot-binding as frivolous, a woman’s adherence to both became conflated as a single act.
--
"The truth, no matter how unpalatable, is that foot-binding was experienced, perpetuated and administered by women. Though utterly rejected in China now—the last shoe factory making lotus shoes closed in 1999—it survived for a thousand years in part because of women’s emotional investment in the practice."

20 years later, two men united by Sonoma County DUI crash reflect on shared path. A  remarkable story of forgiveness and its ripple effect.

The moment I heard a human voice for the first time, aged 39: How a woman born deaf took the gamble of her life and escaped a world of silence

"Are you ready for me to switch the implants on now?’ she asks. My heart leaps to my throat. This is it. Every hair on my body is standing up, a feeling like electricity is pulsing through me. There’s a tingling inside me, a ringing in my ears, my arms, my legs, like no sensation I’ve ever felt before.  It goes all through my body, this tingle, all the way from my head to my toes, and then is swallowed up into the floor.  Every letter and syllable bounces off the walls, the ceiling, the doors, ringing out around the room, in my ears, and rattling round my brain.

"The audiologist stopped speaking seconds ago, and yet sound lingers in the room, long after her lips have stopped moving.
‘Caaaaan . . . yoooooou . . . heeeeear . . . meeeeeeeeee?’  The first words I’ve ever heard."

The Gorgeous Typeface That Drove Men Mad and Sparked a 100-Year Mystery

"Cobden Sanderson and his partner, Emery Walker, founded the Doves Press in 1900. Walker was a businessman, with plenty of other concerns in the world, but Cobden Sanderson was a creative perfectionist—a man obsessed with authenticity and craft. …….Their type was created in 1899, and the duo would use it to print indescribably beautiful books, bound by hand and designed with the perfect balance of craftsmanship and modern utility. Cobden Sanderson was a bit of a snob in the sense that he only wanted to commit his designs to the finest literature, the "most beautiful words." They printed Paradise Lost. They printed the English Bible. Today, copies of these books are extremely rare, and they command thousands of dollars at auction.

Aeon video Forgotten Things. Going to the movies in January 1940,  The impact of WWII newsreels showing the icy fields of the Maginot Line and Shirley Temple’s smile.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:20 PM | Permalink
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