July 21, 2014

Brandoli's law

Brandolini’s law

 Brandoli's Law

Attributed to Alberto Brandolini, an Italian independent software development consultant who tweeted on January 11, 2013

"The bullshit asymmetry: the amount of energy needed to refute bullshit is an order of magnitude bigger than to produce it."

— ziobrando (@ziobrando)

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:00 PM | Permalink
Categories: Rules of Life/Lessons Learned

Yankees will freeze in the dark

William Tucker says  GET READY FOR THE NEW ENGLAND POWER SHORTAGE

In the next few years New England will be facing a full-scale power shortage.  Last week the governors of the six New England states met in an emergency session at Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, to discuss what to do about the pending crisis.
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In a hell-bent campaign to rid itself of any form of dirty, messy “non-renewable” energy, New England has been closing down coal and oil plants for the last decade. In 2000, 18 percent of New England’s electricity came from coal and 22 percent from oil. Today it’s 3 percent coal and 1 percent oil. Meanwhile, natural gas — the fuel that everybody loves until you have to drill for it — has risen from 15 percent to a starkly vulnerable 52 percent, just behind California.

There’s only one problem. New England doesn’t have the pipelines to bring in the gas. Nor is anyone going to allowed to build it, either.
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It’s not as if it’s not needed. Last winter, when record low temperatures hit, there just wasn’t enough gas to go around. Utilities that service home heating have long-term contracts and get first dibs. You can’t stockpile gas the way you stockpile coal, so power plant operators were left bidding against each other for what was left. Prices skyrocketed from $4 per mBTU to an unbelievable $79 per mBTU and electricity prices spiked to ten times their normal level.
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New England is now limping along with 33,000 megawatts of electrical capacity, which barely meets its needs. At one auction last winter, the New England Independent Systems Operator, which manages the grid, came up 145 megawatts short — an almost unheard of occurrence. Yet in the next two years the region will be closing down 1/10th of its capacity in a bid to rid itself of anything that does not win favor with environmentalists. First to go will be the last of four coal plants at Salem Harbor, which can no longer meet the EPA’s new regulatory requirements. Next Brayton Point, the largest remaining coal plant, will be retired for the same reason. Finally, a continual barrage of protests and legislative attacks has persuaded Mississippi-based Entergy to close the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Station and “let the Yankees freeze in the dark,” as they used to say in Texas and Louisiana. The reactor provided 75 percent of Vermont’s electricity and 4 percent of the power for the region, carbon-free.

“It’s going to be very tricky for New England over the next three to four years,” says Gordon van Welie, CEO of the Independent Systems Operator of New England, which run the grid.
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So the only “clean energy” left in New England these days is hydroelectricity — generated in Canada. The Canadians are indeed developing huge dams in James Bay and are eager to sell to Americans. But that means building transmission lines down from the north and everyone is opposed to that as well. Northeast Utilities, which services much of New England, has been trying to build a Northern Pass transmission corridor since 2009 but environmental groups insist the lines be buried underground. …….Meanwhile, environmentalists have become so ambitious and well funded that they have bought up land and property rights in northern New Hampshire just to block its path. Plans to bury just eight miles of the 187-mile route have ballooned costs from $200 million to $1.4 billion and the project is years from completion — if ever.

Another cold winter is certain to bring skyrocketing prices and possible brownouts. New Englanders already pay 45 percent higher electric bills than the rest of the country and that figure can only grow. The first region of the country to industrialize is about the drive away the last of its blue-collar workshops.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:29 AM | Permalink
Categories: Environment | Categories: Government

July 20, 2014

ISIS to Christians in Mosul: 24 hours to leave or be beheaded

The "final solution" underway in Iraq for all Christians and few care.

Christian Holocaust Underway in Iraq.  USA and World Look Away  by Sebastian Gorka

When U.S. troops invaded Iraq in 2003, there were at least 1.5 million Christians in Iraq. Over the last ten years, significantly in the last few months with the emergence of ISIS, that figure has dropped to about 400,000.

One of the world’s leading experts on asymmetric warfare, Dr. Sebastian Gorka, “in the last 48 hours, ISIS, which is now called the Islamic State in Mosul, has painted the letter “N” for Nazarene on the houses of all the surviving Christians in the city. ISIS has basically given an ultimatum to all the Christians left: You can either flee or convert to Islam, or we will kill you.”

Gorka points out that, over the last 20 years, America has stood up around the world to save Muslims. “Whether it was to save the Muslims in Bosnia or the Albanians, Kosovars, and Muslims in Serbia, it is now time for a humanitarian operation to save the remaining Christians in Iraq,” he said. “It is time for the American people and our representatives to do something for our co-religionists remaining in the Middle East.”

Marlow observed that the blatant religious cleansing is horrifying and asked Gorka: “Why is it that the mainstream press is not interested in the story?” Gorka first responded by saying "Let's face it, this is a Christian version of the Holocaust and nothing less.” ….. the media is “post-modernist, sophisticated, and secularist. So when it comes to the idea of religious persecution, they say, ‘Well who really cares because I don’t believe in God. If you are not sophisticated enough to be a post-modernist secularist… tough on you!


Christians Given Ultimatum in Mosul: Convert, Leave or Die

Chaldean Auxiliary Bishop Saad Sirop of Baghdad has confirmed a troubling report from Mosul that the Islamic State is now presenting Christians in that city with a final ultimatum of conversion, subservience or death.

Christians have until  tomorrow (Saturday, July 19)  to leave, or face execution.  "In the last hours, the jihadists of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant have forced the few remaining Christians in Iraq's second city to leave their homes. Desperate, Christians immediately fled but were stopped at checkpoints by militias who have looted cars and all their belongings and then summoned them to continue on foot. Most of the families are headed to the North, in the city of Dahuk."
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It may be the end game Christians have feared for some time, especially since ISIS took over Mosul in early June. Since then, things have gotten progressively worse for Christians. The Associated Press has also reported that the Islamic State has begun seizing the houses of Christian and Shiite families who fled Mosul and giving some of them to Sunni families uprooted from areas like Tikrit and Diyala. "They mark these houses with signs reading Islamic State Properties,"

As Christians are massacred in Iraq, laid-back Obama maintains his shameful silence notes Damian Thompson.

Thousands of Iraqi Christians pour out of Mosul after ISIS jihadis give them deadline to convert, pay or face death

Thousands of Iraqi Christians today poured out of Mosul after ISIS jihadis gave them an ultimatum - convert, pay or face death.
The Islamic State terror group declared that Christians must either convert to Islam, pay a special tax or leave the city, around 250 miles north-west of Baghdad.
If they did not do so by noon (9am GMT) today, there would be 'nothing for them but the sword', it said.
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Chaldean patriarch Louis Sako, who heads Iraq's largest Christian community, said the terrifying ultimatum had been relayed by mosques in ISIS-controlled Mosul.
He told AFP: 'Christian families are on their way to Dohuk and Arbil [in Kurdistan]. For the first time in the history of Iraq, Mosul is now empty of Christians.'

News from Ninevah by David Warren

It would seem that, this morning, for the first time in more than eighteen centuries, there are no Christians in Mosul, Iraq….

By tradition, the tombs of several Old Testament patriarchs and prophets are to be found within the large area now under Mosul’s modern urban sprawl. (It is the largest city in Iraq, except Baghdad.) This includes the shrine associated with the tomb of Jonah, itself of extraordinary antiquity, which was torched and demolished earlier in the week. All physical evidence that Christians ever lived in Mosul will soon be erased, if it has not been erased already. (Shia Islamic shrines have also been demolished by the Sunni jihadis; and I gather that the museum, one of several sites around Mosul under nominal protection of UNESCO as “world heritage,” has also been trashed by these iconoclasts.)
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The “final solution” for Mosul’s Christians was blared from loudspeakers in the minarets of the city’s Sunni mosques after Friday prayers. They would have twenty-four hours to flee, taking nothing but the clothes they were wearing. Those found still in the city, after noon yesterday, would be put to the sword. A third option, conversion to Islam, was mentioned only for the record. Any intending to do that would surely have done it by now. The possessions of all Christians had been “nationalized,” according to the announcement — everything they owned now belonged to the Islamic Caliphate of Iraq and the Levant.
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The Christians have fled, by necessity many on foot under the killing sun of the Mesopotamian summer, mostly towards Kurdistan: the one part of northern Iraq the jihadis have not yet attempted to subjugate. That is also where Western refugee aid is most likely to be available. At this point, we cannot guess how many will make it alive. Certainly the number of dead will vastly exceed those tallied in the airliner that was shot down in eastern Ukraine — the story now at the top of Western media headlines, for the plane was full of Europeans.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:47 PM | Permalink
Categories: Civilization - Can We Keep It? | Categories: Spirituality and Religion

The Myth that Religion is the #1 Cause of War

The Myth that Religion is the #1 Cause of War

Atheists and secular humanists consistently make the claim that religion is the #1 cause of violence and war throughout the history of mankind. One of atheism's key cheerleaders, Sam Harris, says in his book The End of Faith that faith and religion are “the most prolific source of violence in our history.”1
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An interesting source of truth on the matter is Philip and Axelrod’s three-volume Encyclopedia of Wars, which chronicles some 1,763 wars that have been waged over the course of human history. Of those wars, the authors categorize 123 as being religious in nature  which is an astonishingly low 6.98% of all wars. However, when one subtracts out those waged in the name of Islam (66), the percentage is cut by more than half to 3.23%.

 Wars-Pie-Chart

The truth is, non-religious motivations and naturalistic philosophies bear the blame for nearly all of humankind’s wars. Lives lost during religious conflict pales in comparison to those experienced during the regimes who wanted nothing to do with the idea of God – something showcased in R. J. Rummel’s work Lethal Politics and Death by Government:

Non-Religious Dictator Lives Lost
  • Joseph Stalin - 42,672,000
  • Mao Zedong - 37,828,000
  • Adolf Hitler - 20,946,000
  • Chiang Kai-shek - 10,214,000
  • Vladimir Lenin - 4,017,000
  • Hideki Tojo - 3,990,000
  • Pol Pot - 2,397,0003
Rummel says: “Almost 170 million men, women and children have been shot, beaten, tortured, knifed, burned, starved, frozen, crushed or worked to death; buried alive, drowned, hung, bombed or killed in any other of a myriad of ways governments have inflicted death on unarmed, helpless citizens and foreigners. The dead could conceivably be nearly 360 million people. It is though our species has been devastated by a modern Black Plague. And indeed it has, but a plague of Power, not germs.”

The historical evidence is quite clear: Religion is not the #1 cause of war.  via Tea at Trianon

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:22 PM | Permalink
Categories: Civilization - Can We Keep It? | Categories: Culture and Society | Categories: Spirituality and Religion

Why are we arresting parents for things that were perfectly normal 30 years ago?

Megan McArdle goes off on the Mommy Police With Real Handcuffs

A week ago, a woman was charged with leaving her child in the car while she went into a store. Her 11-year-old child. This week, a woman was arrested for allowing her 9-year-old daughter to go to the park alone. Which raises just one question: America, what the heck is wrong with you?

I’m not interested in defending mothers who are under stress or are low-wage workers without a lot of great child-care options. I mean, fine, but these defenses should be unnecessary because what the heck are we doing arresting parents for things that were perfectly normal 30 years ago?
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Leaving an infant in a car is extremely dangerous, and parents should take great care not to do so…. Leaving an 11-year-old alone in the car is no more dangerous than letting her go to the ladies' room by herself.
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Nor is there any reason that a normally intelligent 9-year-old cannot be allowed to play in a busy, safe park by herself. Could something bad happen? Yes, though the risks of accident in a crowded park are pretty limited. But something bad can happen anywhere. The rate of stranger abductions is very low, and it has been very low for a long time. Yet when I ask parents why they can’t let their kid out of their sight, stranger abductions generally top the list.

You know what’s really dangerous to your child? Getting in a car. It’s the leading cause of death among kids ages 5 to 14, followed by cancer and drowning. Stranger abductions are way, way, way down on the list. Yet at the same time we’ve been tethering our children to our knees in an effort to make sure nothing bad ever happens, we’ve actually slightly increased the number of vehicle miles they travel. Why aren’t the cops on that?
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As Jessica Grose says, if this had been illegal in 1972, every single mother in America would have been in jail. Yet millions upon millions of us lived to tell the tale.

Illinois warns parents: You are replaceable  Deborah Teixeira is in danger of literally being fired by the state of Illinois from her job as Juliet's mother.

The Peoria resident has been warned that if there are more infractions, the state will send a replacement into her home to take care of her daughter instead.
Teixeira is not alone. Across the state, mothers like her and other people taking care of their family members have been told via threatening official phone calls and letters that they could be replaced if they don’t shape up.

Her predicament comes from the fact that she takes care of an adult daughter with brain damage. She provides Juliet with round-the-clock care at her home thanks to subsidies from Illinois’ Home Services Program. That’s common: Most of HSP’s estimated 20,000 “caregivers” are just people like Teixeira watching over severely disabled family members.

The program also comes with strings attached, including a new billing system that requires caregivers to call a phone number twice daily to literally clock in and clock out.  Forget to clock out and you are technically overbilling the state. Repeat offenders can be replaced as caregiver — even if they are taking care of their own children in their home. 

Januari Smith, spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Human Resources. “It’s just like any other job. You go there, you clock in. You leave, you clock out. It’s a way of proving you were there.”  The program’s intent, she says, is to root out fraud, not punish families.
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Teixeira started getting phone calls this month from a state official pointing to problems with her timesheets. “Clocking out late is unacceptable regardless of intent, the official told me.”  If this persisted then “my employment would be terminated and I would be replaced by an agency personal assistant.”

It didn’t make any sense, Teixeira thought. Her daughter’s problems would require at least a very experienced certified nursing assistant. How would that save the state money?
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It is not clear how many of HSP’s estimated 20,000 caregivers were given warnings. Illinois DHS spokeswoman Smith could not cite a figure. But it was enough that the state created a form letter for it.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:17 PM | Permalink
Categories: Government | Categories: Parenting

Miscellany

It's a French advertisement and the most charming video of the week.

I always wondered how so many articles got written.  This Robot Has Written More Wikipedia Articles Than Anyone Alive

You might think writing 10,000 articles per day would be impossible. But not for a Swede named Sverker Johansson. He created a computer program that has written a total of 2.7 million articles, making Johansson the most prolific author, by far, on the "internet's encyclopedia." His contributions account for 8.5 percent of the articles on Wikipedia, the Wall Street Journal reports.

A Dollar Saved in Your 20s is Equal to Ten Dollars Saved in Your 50s

Restaurant Watches Old Surveillance And Shares Shocking Results On Craigslist

We are a popular restaurant for both locals and tourists alike. Having been in business for many years, we noticed that although the number of customers we serve on a daily basis is almost the same today as it was 10 years ago, the service just seems super slow even though we added more staff and cut back on the menu items.


Fantasy and the Buffered Self
  in The New Atlantis

"Might it not be possible to experience the benefits, while avoiding the costs, of both the porous and the buffered self? I want to argue here that it is precisely this desire that accounts for the rise to cultural prominence, in late modernity, of the artistic genre of fantasy. Fantasy — in books, films, television shows, and indeed in all imaginable media — is an instrument by which the late modern self strives to avail itself of the unpredictable excitements of the porous self while retaining its protective buffers. Fantasy, in most of its recent forms, may best be understood as a technologically enabled, and therefore safe, simulacrum of the pre-modern porous self, "  Charles Taylor
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the achievement of a safely buffered personhood — closed off from both the divine and the demonic — is soon enough accompanied by a deeply felt change in the very cosmos. As C. S. Lewis notes in The Discarded Image (1964), the medieval person who found himself “looking up at a world lighted, warmed, and resonant with music” gives way to the modern person who perceives only emptiness and silence.
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Might it not be possible to experience the benefits, while avoiding the costs, of both the porous and the buffered self? I want to argue here that it is precisely this desire that accounts for the rise to cultural prominence, in late modernity, of the artistic genre of fantasy. Fantasy — in books, films, television shows, and indeed in all imaginable media — is an instrument by which the late modern self strives to avail itself of the unpredictable excitements of the porous self while retaining its protective buffers.

The Truth About Shaving Cream  "Shaving cream is a racket"

10 Items You Should Always Buy Generic

In National Geographic:  Who Were the Ancient Bog Mummies? Surprising New Clues

 Tollund Man

Tollund Man, who was hanged with a leather cord and cast into a Danish bog, is housed at Denmark's Silkeborg Museum.  Radiocarbon dating of Tollund Man indicated that he died in approximately 375-210 BCE

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:59 AM | Permalink

July 19, 2014

Remote control female contraceptive and the business of IVF

Remote control contraceptive funded by Bill and Melinda Gates.  Once implanted, contraceptive microchips  can be remotely controlled to release abortifacients into a woman's body for up to 16 years.

So who controls the switch of the device?  It opens up new pathways to eugenics that never could be imagined before.  Certainly,  governments will fund the costs of the contraceptive microchip under the guise of population control and may require certain classes of women to be implanted with the chip.  It could be women who already have two children, women are poor or on welfare or women who oppose the government.  Who's to say and who's to know when national health care systems decide that they know better than the women involved and turn the chip on.

Talk about a war on women and a war on women's bodies.  Potentially anyone with sufficient computer hacking skills could render women infertile against their wishes. 

The technology was originally intended, and tested, to release osteoporosis medication in elderly women, but Dr. Robert Langer of MIT changed his focus to contraception after a personal discussion with Bill Gates. …..The announcement comes as the Gates Foundation is spearheading an international, multi-billion-dollar push for expanding birth control in the developing world.
…. a remote-controlled computer chip that potentially leaves the patient's health at the mercy of anyone with sufficient computer skills presents its own issues…..

Dr. Robert Farra of MIT said the subcutaneous computer chip must be given “secure encryption” so that “someone across the room cannot re-program your implant.” To date, that security has not been developed.

Civil libertarians worry about how hackers – and rogue government agencies – could exploit that technology. “Whatever that chip transmits will go into a government file,” John Whitehead, a constitutional attorney and founder of The Rutherford Institute, told LifeSiteNews. “The chip may actually know when you're having sex. So, there will be no privacy, no.”……“I'm afraid the chip could be activated in some harmful way,” such as a future eugenics program, Whitehead said. “It could basically bar certain people from having children.”
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Pre-clinical testing of the new microchip begins next year. Langer's development team at MicroCHIPS Inc., based in Lexington, Massachusetts, hopes to introduce the product by 2018, pending approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

“People can voluntarily do it,” Whitehead said, “but they need to know what the dangers are.”

Apart from severe health risks, years on contraceptives and abortifacients can render women infertile even after they stop taking them.  That's the major reason why the IVF industry has grown so rapidly.  Making babies with IVF  is already a big business.

The market for eggs and sperm is a lucrative enterprise, estimated to be worth over $3 billion in the United States alone. IVF, sperm donation, and egg donation are, of course, intrinsically linked to surrogacy, and these same business incentives are driving the push for a greater legalization of commercial surrogacy throughout the United States and abroad.
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Dr. Itai Levitan, who served as chairman for the 2nd IVF Worldwide Live Congress held last year in Berlin. His enthusiasm following the conference was hardly containable: “I feel like I should give up medicine and focus on marketing!”

Among the tips he offers: “Increase your IVF Clinic’s investment in marketing, and seriously treat the activity as a profit center rather than a cost center.” And “Understand your exact business logic behind your online marketing activity. Start with understanding your fundamental business case.” Have a read through of the full post. You’ll see IVF cycles referred to as “sales” and patients referred to as “clients.”

With IVF, no longer is medicine the healing profession. It is a business enterprise

THE IVF INDUSTRY - "HUMAN MANUFACTURING ON AN INDUSTRIAL SCALE"  complete with tracking and quality control

Looking for Dad on the Internet: Are you XYTEX DONOR 2035?   Inside the  Brave New World of Gestation Surrogacy

COMMODIFYING HUMAN LIFE: DESIGNER BABIES, BROOD MOTHERS, BABY FLESH PILLS AND DONOR DADDIES

THE RETURN OF EUGENICS

A THOUSAND SIBLINGS

HE KEEPS TRACK OF ALL HIS KIDS ON AN EXCEL SPREADSHEET
 

Sperm donor's 24 kids never told about his fatal, genetic illness


MORE GENETIC BEWILDERMENT

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:52 PM | Permalink
Categories: Brave New World

July 18, 2014

When people simply forgot how to build things

In Aeon Farming the apocalypse by Keith Farrell

"When my life came crashing down I took shelter on my farm, surviving with 11th-century tools like the sickle and scythe"
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Only gradually did I realize that I had far more in common with a post-apocalypse survivor – and chronic illness, not to mention financial challenges, are apocalyptic in their way – than with an 11th-century farmer. Those farmers, after all, knew what they were doing; their whole lives would have been spent doing it. They were far more prepared for a post-apocalypse life on the land than me or almost anyone I knew

Rod Dreher comments in Livin' The Medieval Dream,

When you have to preserve skills and methods from generation to generation simply to survive, traditions develop, and they become critically important, even after people may have forgotten why they came about. Then along comes technology to free you from traditions, and you discard them. Eventually you come to believe that anything you will is possible. And you forget that we all live on a soap bubble.

Historian Brian Ward-Perkins says that the retreat of material culture after the Western Roman Empire fell was catastrophic; people simply forgot how to build things — and that with the disappearance of the relatively complex economic networks under imperial Rome, intellectual life also shriveled. I interviewed Ward-Perkins about this once in his Oxford University office, but I don’t know that I understood so intimately what he meant by that until I read Ferrell’s essay.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:48 AM | Permalink
Categories: Civilization - Can We Keep It? | Categories: Culture and Society

Good and bad marriages

From Science Daily, Marriage and healthy hearts: Correlation between unhappy marital interactions, cardiovascular disease risk

The affairs of the heart may actually affect the affairs of the heart in ways previously not understood.”Growing evidence suggests that the quality and patterns of one’s social relationships may be linked with a variety of health outcomes, including heart disease,” says Thomas Kamarck, professor of psychology and Biological and Health Program Chair in the University of Pittsburgh Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences.

He is an author of a new study that correlates unhappy marital interaction with thicker carotid arteries and a higher risk of cardiovascular disease. “The contribution of this study is in showing that these sorts of links may be observed even during the earliest stages of plaque development [in the carotid artery],” Kamarck continues, “and that these observations may be rooted not just in the way that we evaluate our relationships in general but in the quality of specific social interactions with our partners as they unfold during our daily lives.” Nataria Joseph, who recently completed a postdoctoral fellowship under Kamarck, is the lead author of the paper, published this month in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine. Given the size of the effect in the study and the relationship between carotid artery plaque and disease, Joseph’s findings, made at Pitt, indicate that those with marital interactions light on the positive may have an 8.5 percent greater risk of suffering heart attack or stroke than those with a surfeit of good feelings. 

Dr Greg comments in   Can A Bad Marriage Kill You? Study Says, “Yes, and A Good Marriage May Heal.”

More and more, research is showing that the quality of our relationships has tremendous impact on our physical and emotional health.  I think this is another area where there is increasing agreement between psychology and theology.  For instance, Dr. Dan Siegel– a founder of the developing field of Interpersonal Neurobiology which looks at how relationships affect health and neurological functioning–argues that it is foolish to think of an individual as apart from his relationships.

He argues that, in a sense, there is a flow of energy within the relationships between people that interacts with and impacts the functioning of the mind and body of each individual in the relationship on an atomic level.  The effects of this interaction can be observed–if not the process itself–in the way different relational and environmental states have been shown to impact gene expression and the development of new neural connections throughout the brain and nervous system.  When I read his work, I am often reminded of Pope St. John Paul the Great’s argument in his Theology of the Body that just as the Trinity is a communion of three distinct but united persons, the human beings made in the image and likeness of that Communion are also, at their most basic level, best understood to be inseparable from the communion of persons in which they participate. The Takeaway I realize that’s all rather thick language and if I lost you, it doesn’t really matter because the larger point is still clear enough.  Namely, that the well-being of each human person is intimately tied to the quality of his or her relationship with others and that is exactly as God intended it to be. The takeaway is that taking care of your relationships may be just as important as diet and exercise for longevity and health.   Even if you don’t feel like working on your marriage for the sake of your partner, for instance, you may want to work on it out of a commitment to your own well-being because avoiding the work isn’t punishing your partner as much as it may be punishing yourself. If you fail to do the work that your intimate relationships require, you may literally be breaking your own heart.

As Charles Murray said in Advice for a Happy Life

A good marriage is the best thing that can ever happen to you. Above all else, realize that this cliché is true. The downside risks of marrying—and they are real—are nothing compared with what you will gain from a good one.

Consider Marrying Young.  You've got to wait until the right person comes along. I'm just pointing out that you shouldn't exclude the possibility. If you wait until your 30s, your marriage is likely to be a merger. If you get married in your 20s, it is likely to be a startup.  …What are the advantages of a startup marriage? For one thing, you will both have memories of your life together when it was all still up in the air. You'll have fun remembering the years when you went from being scared newcomers to the point at which you realized you were going to make it.

Even more important, you and your spouse will have made your way together. Whatever happens, you will have shared the experience. And each of you will know that you wouldn't have become the person you are without the other.

Many merger marriages are happy, but a certain kind of symbiosis, where two people become more than the sum of the individuals, is perhaps more common in startups.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:37 AM | Permalink
Categories: Family | Categories: Health | Categories: Love, Marriage and Weddings | Categories: Spirituality and Religion

The cancer death-panel app

Wesley Smith writes Obamacare Opens Door to Death Panel App

Obamacare’s emphasis on cost-benefit has apparently granted permission for the medical technocrats to conjure all kinds of healthcare rationing schemes.  And the Medical Establishment is apparently playing along.

From, “The Cancer Death-Panel App,” by Robert Goldberg in the NY Post:

The latest innovation in cancer care isn’t a medical breakthrough but an app to ration new drugs. It’ll measure care in terms of what it costs health plans, instead of what it means for patients’ lives. That it’s being developed under the auspices of the American Society for Clinical Oncology, or ASCO, the world’s leading oncology association, is a grim warning about the state of organized medicine.

The app will use an algorithm like those many health plans apply to limit access to innovative treatments. Wellpoint Inc., for one, measures cost-effectiveness by comparing the benefits, side effects and costs of various treatments for specific types of cancer. The ASCO app uses the same benchmarks.

That’s no coincidence. At ASCO’s national conference, Dr. Lee Newcomer, United Healthcare’s medical director, said the “motives [of insurers] are viewed with suspicion when it comes to deciding whether a treatment is cost-effective. So having ASCO play a key role in establishing such guidelines would be crucial to their implementation.”

Translation: Patients are more likely to accept rationing if it comes with a “medical seal of approval.”

Dr. Lowell Schnipper, who heads ASCO’s Value in Cancer Care Task Force, which is building the app, parrots the claim made by Karen Ignagni, president of AHIP (the health-insurance lobby), that new cancer drugs are bankrupting the health system.

That’s not true. Yes, spending on cancer treatments has climbed from $24 billion in 2004 to about $37 billion today. But that’s less than a half a percent of total US health-care spending.

More important: While expensive, since 2004 such innovations were largely responsible for a 40 percent increase in living cancer survivors, from 9.8 million to 13.6 million. The new therapies also saved $188 billion on hospitalizations.

In fact, a new study by Dr. Newcomer himself confirms this result: United Healthcare’s cancer costs dropped as spending on new cancer drugs increased.

Finally, new drugs help people go back to work. The value of the increase in ability to work is 2.5 times what we spend on new therapies.

The app’s biggest problem, though, is that it’s one-size-fits-all: It treats all patients as the same, ignoring the genetic variation in patient response that a new class of “targeted” cancer drugs will soon address.
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Dig a bit deeper, and it’s clear that Schnipper and his allies have a more ideological motivation. He talks of limiting spending on new treatments as a way to make “the health-care system, not just the cancer system, more rational and just.”

And this line of thinking does away with the Hippocratic Oath. No longer is the doctor’s first obligation “to apply for the benefit of the sick, all measures that are required.” Instead, Schnipper believes three months of added life “is not a large enough benefit to trump the greater benefits to many that would have to be foregone to provide it.”

In fact, he regards the premium that Americans place on life as a character defect, observing, “Other cultures do not seem to view the postponement of death by a few months” the same way we do…….
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:21 AM | Permalink
Categories: Brave New World | Categories: Death and Dying | Categories: Health

The Unhappiest Worker

Psychology Today offers a profile of the unhappiest workers in America today.  She is female, in her forties, unmarried with no children, earning less than $100k a year and in a professional position such as doctor or lawyer.    --

A more comprehensive analysis of trends in subjective well-being across several decades came to similar conclusions regarding female happiness. In The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness published by the American Economic Journal, researchers Betsy Stevenson and Justin Wolfers found that although women's life circumstances have improved greatly over the past few decades by most objective measures, their happiness has declined—both in absolute terms and relative to men's.

This is so sad.  I know many women who fit this profile. They ignored their biological nature, postponed marriage and swallowed the feminist ideal of being a self-sufficient super achiever, unburdened with children.  So, they have no one to love, no one to care for, no one to give them emotional support.  Except for cats.

By contrast, the profile of the happiest worker is a married male, with a young child, in a senior management position, earning between $150k - $200k and a wife who works part-time. 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:14 AM | Permalink
Categories: Culture and Society | Categories: The Sexes

July 17, 2014

Self control is personal power and so is grit

Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power. — Lao-tzu -

What you have to do and the way you have to do it is incredibly simple. Whether you are willing to do it, that’s another matter. — Peter F. Drucker -

An Indulgent Life Isn’t Necessarily a Happy Life

Recent research, which will be published in next month's Journal of Personality shows that People with higher self-control also tend to lead happier lives.
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In all three studies, the researchers found a link between self-control and happiness. The findings may be correlational and self-reported (which can always mean people may exaggerate the good stuff and minimize the bad), but the results still feel very true to life. “For me, I’ve actually found it to be quite an eye-opener,” Vohs said. “Because the lesson that should be taken away from this paper is that the best way for people to live healthy and happy lives is to avoid temptations in the first place.” Happiness is about more than living in the moment; it's important to keep the future in mind, too.

Only people who discipline themselves -  be it saving money, losing weight, learning tennis or writing a book - can reach their goals

Stuart Schneiderman comments

It turns out that if you make plans for the future and keep yourself focused on whatever it is you need to do to bring them to fruition, you cannot at the same time yield to every temptation.

It’s like being in training for a race or a competition or a recital. You need to follow a strict regimen to be capable of performing at your best. And you need to follow it consistently and regularly—you need to make it a habit.  You do not practice self-control for its own sake. You do it with a goal and a purpose in mind.

Daniel Goldman says Grit and emotional intelligence, not IQ or academic performance is the best predictor of personal and business success.

Studies at the University of Pennsylvania have found that students who don't have the highest IQs in their class but get high grades share an attitude called grit.” They keep plugging away despite any setbacks or failures.

And a 30-year longitudinal study of more than a thousand kids – the gold standard for uncovering relationships between behavioral variables – found that those children with the best cognitive control had the greatest financial success in their 30s
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Cognitive control refers to the abilities to delay gratification in pursuit of your goals, maintaining impulse control, managing upsetting emotions well, holding focus, and possessing a readiness to learn. Grit requires good cognitive control. No wonder this results in financial and personal success….

Both grit and cognitive control exemplify self-management, a key part of emotional intelligence. IQ and technical skills matter, of course: they are crucial threshold abilities, what you need to get the job done….

It’s the distinguishing competencies that are the crucial factor in workplace success: the variables that you find only in the star performers – and those are largely due to emotional intelligence.

These human skills include, for instance, confidence, striving for goals despite setbacks, staying cool under pressure, harmony and collaboration, persuasion and influence.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:44 PM | Permalink
Categories: Virtue

July 16, 2014

Networks are not communities. We live in a global network, not a global community

An important article from The Art of Manliness: Communities Vs. Networks: To Which Do You Belong?

In making his newest documentary, Korengal, author and filmmaker Sebastian Junger wanted to explore the answer to the question of why — despite its dangers and deprivations — men actually miss war when their tour of duty is over. A large part of the answer is the intense camaraderie created in combat — a brotherhood that they lack when they return home. In a recent interview, Junger posits that this absence of camaraderie is often at the root of why soldiers sometimes struggle so acutely to adjust to life after deployment. They come home, Junger says, and realize for the first time what an “alienated society” they truly live in. What they need, he argues, is a country that “operates in more of a community way.” He then adds: “But frankly, that’s what we need.”

Unfortunately, true community in our modern world is hard to find for soldiers and civilians alike. Instead, we increasingly live out our lives as members of networks. This transition from community to network life is truly at the heart of the increasing feelings of loneliness, anxiety, and anomie that many people experience in the modern age. We’ve never been so “connected” — and yet so isolated at the same time.

Networks Are Large and Anonymous; Communities Are Small and Intimate
Because networks are so large, anonymity reigns. Members do not meet face-to-face, do not know if the people they interact with digitally are even who they say they are, and may have no idea who also belongs to the network. Because of the lack of physical intimacy, a culture of honor and shame cannot function, necessitating the erection of numerous rules and regulations to check and control members’ behavior.

In contrast, communities have inherent limits on size. Unlike networks, if communities don’t stop growing, they’ll die. According to Dunbar’s Number, most humans can’t maintain more than around 150 meaningful relationships. Anthropologists have found that hunter-gatherer societies hover around 150 members before they split. In Western military history, the size of a military company — the smallest autonomous and fully functioning unit — has been around 150 members.

Networks Are Artificial, Top-Down; Communities Are Organic, Bottom-Up
Networks are typically artificial; they rarely form organically. And they’re invariably created, and then governed, in a top-down fashion. Policies and regulations are decreed from on high with little or no input from the majority of the people who make up the network. Because those at the top are so removed physically and psychologically from those at the bottom, the solutions ultimately proffered are often out of touch and highly ineffective.

Communities, on the other hand, are organic and autonomous. They’re made up of a collection of real families that are bound together by geography and shared values. When facing a problem, individuals within a community band together to come up with a solution that will work for them. Because the people trying to address problems within the community — including its leaders — are familiar with the group’s unique needs, the solutions that are generated are typically more effective.

Networks Encourage Passivity and Consumption; Communities Require Action and Contribution
Because there are so many people in a network, members assume someone else will take care of problems that arise. But because that’s what everyone else is thinking, nothing gets done. People will step around someone in distress on the street in a big city, or pass the collection plate at a giant church, figuring other people will help. The anonymity of the crowd allows the passive bystander to escape shame.

Networks not only breed passivity, but encourage consumption. They’re all about what you can get, rather than what you must give.

Networks Can Be Location Independent; Communities Are Attached to a Place….

Networks Divide a Person Into Parts; Communities Nurture the Whole Person……

Is This Group I’m Part of a Network or a Community?
….In our modern age, intimate, face-to-face communities are hard to come by; while exceptions exist, networks have almost completely taken over how Americans socially organize themselves. So in evaluating the groups you belong to, it’s perhaps better to ask if they are more like a network, or more like a community. The following questions can help you think through where your group falls on the spectrum:

Do the rules, regulations, and culture of my group come from top leaders that I have never met personally, or do they originate from the group itself?
Do I know the names of every person in my group and interact with them face-to-face?
Does my group have a physical meeting place?
If I left the group, would anyone know I was gone? Would there be any repercussions for doing so?
If I got sick, or needed a favor, how many members of my group could I count on for visits and assistance?
Am I required to contribute to the communal pot, or can I utilize the benefits of the group without making any contributions beyond dues/fees/taxes?

Beware of Networks Wearing Community’s Clothing
But networks can never be a fully satisfying replacement for communities. They’re not designed for social intimacy and fulfillment — they’re designed for efficiency and growth.

the idea of a “global community” has been much ballyhooed in our time (see The World Is Flat), but running it through the above requirements quickly reveals the idea to be an utter farce. If your only obligation to helping other members involves texting a $10 donation to aid tsunami victims every now and again, what you’re part of is a network, not a community.

Another perfect example of networks masquerading as communities is when giant corporations claim that they consider their employees and customers to be “family.” Except in the corporate version of “family,” members are charged for basic services and can be fired if another “brother” or “sister” will work more cheaply from India.

The façade of community quickly disappears when emergency strikes in your life and you really need somebody. Is the Apple community going to rally behind you and help you out? Of course not

Learning How to Live in a Community Again
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:22 AM | Permalink
Categories: Culture and Society

July 14, 2014

Parenting roundup: Teaching kids to tell the truth, cool kids and the view of a British nanny

Clues to Teaching Young Children to Tell the Truth  A Study of Lying Involving George Washington, 'Pinocchio' and 'The Boy Who Cried Wolf'

Parents who want their children to be more honest might be better off trying to make them feel more like George Washington than Pinocchio.
The story of the first U.S. president coming clean to his father about chopping down a cherry tree significantly reduced children's likelihood of lying in a recent study. The tykes who heard "Pinocchio," the puppet-boy whose nose grows when he lies, or "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" didn't change their behavior.

Instilling moral values like honesty in children is rarely easy. Just talking about morality doesn't have much of an impact, experts have found.  In their latest study, which took about a decade to complete and was published in June in the journal Psychological Science, the team studied whether children could learn about honesty from common childhood stories with morals at the end…..

Surprisingly, however, those who heard the George Washington tale only lied about half the time, a significant improvement over the other groups. Those who heard "Pinocchio" and "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" were just as likely to lie as those in the control group.  The researchers speculate that the children were responding to the positive benefits of telling the truth rather than the negative consequences of getting caught lying.  "The only time it works is when you only talk about the positive things," Dr. Lee says. "The kids seem to be very sensitive to negative information."

Cool kids less likely to succeed as adults, Less popular children usually outstrip their cooler counterparts by the time they reach adulthood, a study has found

Cool kids at school are less likely to succeed as adults, with less popular children usually outstripping their cooler counterparts by the time they reach adulthood, a study has suggested.    The study also found popular children are more likely to end up jobless or addicted to drugs in their twenties.

Researchers tracked the lives of 184 teenagers from the age of 13 for a decade and found those considered less cool at school were outperforming their more popular peers within a decade.  The study, published in the journal Child Development, found those considered popular in their early and mid-teens were more likely to suffer drug abuse problems and social isolation as they reached adulthood.
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Prof Allen said he hoped the findings would be a comfort to parents who worried about their geeky children.
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Dr Faeza Khan, lead clinician at the Priory Hospital Cheadle Royal in Cheshire, said she had helped young British teenagers whose pseudo-mature behavior had led to problems later in life.  She said, "They are trying to impress people about how they are socially, rather than being emotionally mature.  Their interpersonal skills don't develop over time. They continue to use the same skills which can lead to involvement with the criminal justice system, or antisocial peer groups, because they're so keen to be accepted."

5 Reasons Modern-Day Parenting Is in Crisis, According to a British Nanny

1. A fear of our children.  I have what I think of as "the sippy cup test," wherein I will observe a parent getting her toddler a cup of milk in the morning. ...

2. A lowered bar. …  Children are capable of much more than parents typically expect from them, whether it's in the form of proper manners, respect for elders, chores, generosity or self-control. You don't think a child can sit through dinner at a restaurant? Rubbish. You don't think a child can clear the table without being asked? Rubbish again! The only reason they don't behave is because you haven't shown them how and you haven't expected it! It's that simple. Raise the bar and your child shall rise to the occasion.

3. We've lost the village. It used to be that bus drivers, teachers, shopkeepers and other parents had carte blanche to correct an unruly child. They would act as the mum and dad's eyes and ears when their children were out of sight, and everyone worked towards the same shared interest: raising proper boys and girls. This village was one of support. Now, when someone who is not the child's parent dares to correct him, the mum and dad get upset. They want their child to appear perfect, and so they often don't accept teachers' and others' reports that he is not….

4. A reliance on shortcuts. ….. Children must still learn patience. They must still learn to entertain themselves. They must still learn that not all food comes out steaming hot and ready in three minutes or less, and ideally they will also learn to help prepare it. Babies must learn to self-soothe instead of sitting in a vibrating chair each time they're fussy. Toddlers need to pick themselves up when they fall down instead of just raising their arms to mum and dad. Show children that shortcuts can be helpful, but that there is great satisfaction in doing things the slow way too.

5. Parents put their children's needs ahead of their own. ... There is nothing wrong with using the word "No" on occasion, nothing wrong with asking your child to entertain herself for a few minutes because mummy would like to use the toilet in private or flick through a magazine for that matter.

I fear that if we don't start to correct these five grave parenting mistakes, and soon, the children we are raising will grow up to be entitled, selfish, impatient and rude adults. It won't be their fault -- it will be ours. We never taught them any differently, we never expected any more of them. We never wanted them to feel any discomfort, and so when they inevitably do, they are woefully unprepared for it. So please, parents and caregivers from London to Los Angeles, and all over the world, ask more. Expect more. Share your struggles. Give less. And let's straighten these children out, together, and prepare them for what they need to be successful in the real world and not the sheltered one we've made for them.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:46 PM | Permalink
Categories: Parenting

A flower and a bird under an x-ray

Colorized X-ray photographs of flora and fauna.  The Telegraph has a slideshow of the astonishing 1mages by Arie van't Riet.

 X-Ray-Animals-Flow

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:35 PM | Permalink
Categories: Art | Categories: Science/ wonders

Health Roundup: Cinnamon for Parkinson, contact lenses, exercise and new test for Alzheimers, cooling babies

Cinnamon could fight Parkinson's: Spice found to be source of chemical that can help protect the brain

Cinnamon could be a secret weapon in the battle against Parkinson’s disease. Scientists have found that the spice is the source of a chemical that can protect the brain.  Our liver converts cinnamon into sodium benzoate, an approved drug used in the treatment for neural disorders.

In a study of mice at Rush University Medical Centre in Chicago, a team of researchers found that the chemical then enters the brain, stops the loss of proteins that help protect cells, protects neurons and improves motor functions.

Lead researcher Professor Kalipada Pahan told the Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology: ‘Cinnamon has been used widely as a spice throughout the world for centuries. 'This could potentially be one of the safest approaches to halt disease progression in Parkinson’s patients.’Professor Pahan said tests had shown that Ceylon cinnamon is better at halting Parkinson's as it is more pure.  He said the next step is testing cinnamon on patients with the disease.

Check your cynicism. Stress, depression and 'hostility' put older people at greater risk of suffering a stroke, research has revealed

Hostility alone more than doubled the likelihood of having a full-blown or 'mini' stroke, also known as a transient ischaemic attack (TIA), a study claims.
Chronic stress increased stroke and TIA risk by 59 per cent, and depressive symptoms by 86 per cent….The researchers defined hostility as a 'negative way of viewing the world' and measured it by assessing participants’ cynicism.

Clean your contact lenses or else.  Student goes blind after keeping her contact lenses in for six months and microscopic bug EATS her eyeballs

A student in Taiwan who kept a pair of disposable contact lenses in her eyes for six months has been left blinded after a microscopic bug devoured her eyeballs. The tiny single-cell amoeba ate away at undergraduate Lian Kao's sight because she didn't take out and clean the contacts once during that time.

As well as being regularly cleaned, contact lenses should also be removed when swimming and washing.  The general advice is to avoid wearing contacts for more than eight hours a day. Yet apparently 23-year-old Kao had even kept her contact lenses in at all times, even at the swimming pool. Medics were horrified when they removed the contact lenses to find that the surface of the girl's eyes had literally been eaten by the amoeba that had been able to breed in the perfect conditions that existed between the contact lens and the eye.

Coming soon. Eye tests 'could spot' early Alzheimer's disease

Simple regular eye tests could be used to identify Alzheimer's disease at a very early stage, new research suggests.
Early trials of two different techniques show that a key biomarker for the disease can be identified in the retina and lens of the eye.

Both methods were able to distinguish between healthy volunteers and those likely to be suffering from Alzheimer's patients with a high level of accuracy.
Experts said the findings could be
a “game changer” in treatment of the condition.  So far attempts to find drugs to halt progression of Alzheimer’s disease have failed because patients receiving treatment already suffered too much damage to the brain.

Cut Alzheimer's risk by walking: It only takes 20 minutes, 3 times a week, say Cambridge scientists

Scientists say inactivity is most important lifestyle factor for Alzheimer's.  Believed exercise keeps blood flowing to brain reducing build-up of plaque
Just 20 minutes of physical activity three times a week could cut risk….researchers …. suspect that it keeps the heart and blood vessels strong, which maintains a steady flow of blood to the brain. This may prevent the build-up of plaques, protein deposits in the brain which are thought to trigger Alzheimer’s

Cooling babies deprived of oxygen at birth improves their chances of growing up without disabilities such as cerebral palsy, research suggests.

The New England Journal of Medicine study showed newborns given the treatment were more likely to have higher IQs at school age.  Experts say the study confirms the therapy has long-lasting effects…..Around one in 500 newborns in the UK suffer from asphyxia - a lack of oxygen around the time of birth.  But a 2009 study of more than 300 newborns showed cooling treatment - known as therapeutic hypothermia - could help reduce brain damage at 18 months.  Babies were placed on a special mat and cooled at 33C for three days to help reduce brain injury    Researchers think the therapy works by slowing the production of harmful substances in the brain and the rate of brain cell death. But how long these improvements may last has been unclear.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:30 PM | Permalink
Categories: Health

July 11, 2014

Quote of the Day

Peggy Noonan on The Crisis on the Border

No one's in charge! No one is taking responsibility. No one who wants to help has authority, and no one with authority is helping.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:14 AM | Permalink
Categories: Wise Words and Quotations

July 10, 2014

Who Turned Out the Lights and Who Turned Them Back On

 Monks Copying Books
An illustration from a medieval manuscript depicts monks copying books by hand in a monastery.

The Dark Ages: Who Turned Out the Lights?

Polemicists who comment on blogs often blame the Church for the Dark Ages. Actual historians know that the Dark Ages, insofar as they were dark, were darkened by the barbarian invasions that inundated the western Roman Empire, and that it was only in the Church (and in its monasteries in particular) that any light was preserved. It might be a bit of a stretch to suggest (as Thomas Cahill did in his book of similar name) that “the Irish (i.e. the Irish monks) saved civilization,” but it is certain that whatever vestiges of earlier Roman civilization managed to be saved were saved by the Church.

It was the pagan Gothic tribes sweeping down from the north and east that submerged classical Roman and Christian culture in a sea of barbarism. It was the Church that tried to preserve what learning it could, and which strove valiantly to convert them. After centuries of work it did a passable job, and it was only thanks to this that classic learning was preserved to become the foundation for later progress. On that foundation the west has built many things, including modern democracy, modern science, and the concept of human rights. But the foundation upon which they were built was a Christian one, one laid painfully and laboriously by the Church in the so-called Dark Ages. In short: it was the pagans who turned out the lights. It was the Church who kept a lamp burning, and eventually turned the lights back on again.
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In all these debates about the Church and the Dark Ages, the real disagreement is not between the Church and the secularists, but between real scholars and ignoramuses.  . Real historical scholars know that the concept of “the Dark Ages” is an historical construct of fairly recent vintage, and that the Church of that period was the defender of learning and the arts.

Life and Work in Medieval Monasteries

Some of the most important work carried on during the Dark Ages was done by humble monks copying ancient manuscripts in cold, dark monasteries.

 Monk In Scriptorium

The printing press had not yet been invented and all documents were copied by hand on parchment. Scribes copied thousands of Bibles and classical works for circulation in the Christian areas of Europe. Theirs was the labor that would lift the western world out of the darkness of ignorance and illiteracy.

Fortress Protection From Viking Barbarian Attacks
Viking invasions were a major danger for the peaceful monastic communities in Europe. The scriptorium was the most important room in a monastery next to the chapel itself and for this reason, these writing rooms were often built at the top of an attack-proof fortress tower with curved walls resembling a tall cylinder. The towers were separate buildings enclosed within the walls of the compound. The monks climbed 15 to 20 feet up a ladder to the scriptorium and then pulled a ladder up after them. This made it almost impossible for the attacking warriors to reach them.

A Monastic Scribe’s Workday
After lauds, the morning prayer, each scribe entered the scriptorium and worked hunched over at a tiny table while seated on a backless stool. The desk was placed in front of a small window that provided the only available light in the room. No candles or fires for warmth were allowed because of the flammability of the parchment material. They worked in these conditions no matter how cold or wet the weather might be.

The threat of the Vikings and the perilous nature of life in the Dark Ages is brilliantly told in The Secret of the Kells, the most beautiful animated movie I've ever seen.  Variety called it "A Tour-de-Force!" and  "Absolutely luscious to behold!".    The LA Times movie critic Kenneth Turan said,  "Four Stars! Ravishing! Magical! Glorious!"  Now on dvd, it's a marvelous film for families and children. 

And then there is the engaging classic by Thomas Cahill How the Irish Saved Civilization: The Untold Story of Ireland's Heroic Role From the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Medieval Europe

But the best is probably by Thomas Woods, How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization.    You can download as a free ebook chapter 3 How the Monks Saved Civilization here.    You will learn how during a period of great turmoil as Roman rule collapsed all over Europe, Benedictine monasteries were "oases of order and peace".

"“Wherever they came,” adds still another, “they converted the wilderness into a cultivated country; they pursued the breeding of cattle and agriculture, labored with their own hands, drained morasses, and cleared away forests. By them Germany was rendered a fruitful country.” Another historian records that “every Benedictine monastery was an agricultural college for the whole region in which it was located.
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For the monks,  manual labor was a channel of grace.  "They chose the most secluded and inaccessible sites to reinforce the communal solitude of their life and partly because this was land that lay donors could more easily give the monks. Although they cleared forests that stood in the way of human habitation and use, they were also  careful to plant trees and conserve forests when possible.
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They introduced new crops" "Here they would introduce the rearing of cattle and horses, there the brewing of beer or the raising of bees or fruit. In Sweden, the corn trade owed its existence to the monks; in Parma, it was cheese making; in Ireland, salmon fisheries—and, in a great many places, the finest vineyards."  They pioneered in the production of wine and one monk Dom Perignon is credited with the discovery of champagne.

Monks as Technical Advisors.  Cistercian monks were superb metallurgists. "In effect, whether it be the mining of salt, lead, iron, alum, or gypsum, or metallurgy, quarrying marble, running cutler’s shops and glassworks, or forging metal plates, also known as firebacks, there was no activity at all in which the monks did not display creativity and a fertile spirit of research. Utilizing their labor force, they instructed and trained it to perfection.  They explored aviation.  In the early 11th century,  a monk named Eilmer flew more than 600 feet with a glider.  Centuries later, a Jesuit priest , Father Francesco Lana-Terzi explored the subject of flight more systematically and earned the honor of being called the father of aviation.  They built the first clocks one of which from the 14th century still sits in excellent condition in the London Science Museum.

Their charitable works ranged from the monasteries themselves that served as gratuitous inns for foreign travelers, pilgrim and the poor
to the building of lighthouses, the establishment of libraries, the preservation of classic texts and the preservation of the Bible.
Above all, they built schools and were teachers  and laid the foundations for universities.  "They were the thinkers and philosophers of the day and shaped the political and religious thought. To them, both collectively and individually, was due the continuity of thought and civilization of the ancient world with the later Middle Ages."

"The monastic contribution to Western civilization, as we have seen, is immense. Among other things, the monks taught metallurgy, introduced new crops, copied ancient texts, preserved literacy, pioneered in technology, invented champagne, improved the European landscape, provided for wanderers of every stripe, and looked after the lost and shipwrecked. "

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:38 PM | Permalink
Categories: Art | Categories: Books | Categories: Civilization - Can We Keep It? | Categories: Movies, Videos | Categories: Spirituality and Religion

The Real Handmaid's Tale

“An Unrelated Gestational Carrier.” The Real Handmaid’s Tale by Rebecca Hamilton

Margaret Atwood wrote a gripping novel back in 1985 called The Handmaid’s Tale.

The main character, Offred, is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead, a totalitarian and theocratic state that has replaced the United States of America.  Handmaids are walking wombs, child bearers for elite couples.

Every month in her fertile period, Offred is required to have impersonal, wordless sex with the Commander while Serena sits by, holding her hands. The Republic of Gilead is what America has become after the takeover of our nation by the theocrats. Offred, as a former adulteress and the daughter of a feminist, is consigned to the role of Handmaid in this ugly new world.

 Handmaid's Tale

Flash forward 30 years, and it appears that the Handmaid’s tale was not so much allegory as it was prophecy, once removed. Women today are being reduced to their bodily functions and used as breeders and most of our society seems to be in support of it. Babies are created to be sold and then they actually are marketed and sold, on-line and through international outlets.

America, which has been termed the “Wild West” of commercialized reproduction, has become a magnet for baby-buyers the world over.
In addition, women are kept in what amounts to baby farms in certain third world countries and used for breeders. The babies are then sold overseas in what, in India alone, is a $2.3 billion dollar industry.

That’s the prophecy part of The Handmaid’s Tale. Women have indeed been reduced to breeders, their human rights held forfeit to rapacious industrialized medicine that operates without conscience. In addition, babies, as well as women, are reduced to chattel in this market as they are created and then sold and bought like any other manufactured product.

The culprits here are corporatist medicine, wealthy elites and homosexuals who are willing to destroy the basic human rights of women and children to feed the fantasy that they are not what they happen, in fact, to be. Homosexual couples are two men or two women, or for that matter, several men or several women, whose sexual activity takes place between other people of their own sex. Their sexual activity can not create life.

Anyone who condemns this wholesale degradation of half the human race alongside the bartering and selling of human beings, is immediately labeled a religious fanatic, a homophobe, uncaring, cruel and indifferent to the longing for a family that same sex couples experience. There is a phrase to describe this intellectually dishonest bullying: The phrase is emotional blackmail.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:40 PM | Permalink
Categories: Brave New World

Runny nose grew on her spine

Stem cell patient ACCIDENTALLY grows a NOSE on her back eight years after surgeons injected tissue there to try to cure her paralysis

A woman has developed a nose-like growth eight years after a stem cell treatment to cure her paralysis failed.  At the Hospital de Egas Moniz in Lisbon, Portugal, the unnamed woman, a U.S. citizen, had tissue from her nose implanted in her spine.

Doctors hoped the cells would develop into neural cells and help repair the nerve damage to the woman's spine. But the treatment failed.

However, last year, eight years after the stem cell operation, the woman, then 28, complained of increasing pain in the area. Doctors discovered a three-centimetre-long growth, which was found to be mainly nasal tissue, as well as bits of bone and nerve branches that had not connected with the spinal nerves.

Neurosurgeon, Brian Dlouhy from the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City, who removed the growth, said it was benign, but was secreting a 'thick copious mucus-like material', which was probably why it was painfully on her spine.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:51 AM | Permalink
Categories: Signs of the Times

July 8, 2014

When gangs replace families

Social chaos is what happens when families break down.  It's happening in Chicago which has the strictest gun laws in the nation.  Over the 4th of July weekend, 80 people were shot and 14 killed.

  Rich Lowry explores What's behind Chicago's carnage

Chicago is a running illustration of the cliché that if you ban guns, only criminals will own them. Not surprisingly, if you are willing to shoot someone in a meaningless gang dispute, you are willing to disregard laws for the purchase and possession of firearms.
Gun laws are beside the point. The tony Chicago neighborhood of Hyde Park could have the same laws as gun-friendly Vermont and it would still be extremely safe. What Chicago is suffering from is not a random citywide phenomenon, but a specific, highly concentrated one.

Overall, according to Chicago magazine, the rate of nonfatal gunshot injury in Chicago was 46.5 per 100,000 from 2006 to 2012. But it was only 1.62 per 100,000 for whites. For blacks, it was 112.83 per 100,000. For black males, 239.77, and for black males aged 18-34, 599.65, or “a staggering one in 200.”.....

Chicago is grappling with the profound social breakdown of certain neighborhoods, where the two-parent family has been obliterated and where, too often, young men consider lawlessness the norm.

It is here, as Heather Mac Donald of City Journal writes, that gang members define themselves not by “family, or academic accomplishments or interests, but ruthless fealty to small, otherwise indistinguishable, pieces of territory.”

This breakdown is “the root cause,” to use that old catchphrase, of Chicago’s violence. It blights the lives of countless young men, hundreds of whom end up in the morgue every year.

You would think that trying to find ways to combat it would be an obsession of liberals who profess to care about the welfare of our cities, but all their energy is devoted to income inequality, global warming and other fashionable causes.

And the drumbeat of murder in a great American city goes on.

As Jason Riley points out in Chicago and Black Criminality

The problem is not our gun laws. Nor is it our drug laws, or racist cops, prosecutors and judges. The problem is black criminality, which is a function of black pathology, which ultimately stems from the breakdown of the black family. The late James Q. Wilson put it this way:

"If crime is to a significant degree caused by weak character; if weak character is more likely among the children of unmarried mothers; if there are no fathers who will help raise their children, acquire jobs, and protect their neighborhoods; if boys become young men with no preparation for work; if school achievement is regarded as a sign of having "sold out" to a dominant white culture; if powerful gangs replace weak families—if all these things are true, then the chances of reducing by plan and in the near future the crime rate of low-income blacks are slim."

Wilson wrote that in 2002, but it was true 20 years before then and may still be true 20 years from now if we don't confront the problem head-on. And it's awfully difficult to confront something that most people, especially on the political left, don't even want to talk about.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:46 PM | Permalink
Categories: Culture and Society | Categories: Death and Dying

July 7, 2014

Cheat at life. Game the system

4 Life Lessons That Lead to Happiness, Success and Longevity  Eric Barker asks

What do you learn about what makes a good life? About what makes us all happy? What makes us thrive? What leads to success? And what doesn’t?  This isn’t just a thought experiment.  The Grant Study followed a group of 268 men for 75 years. The Terman Study started in 1921 with 1528 children and is still ongoing.  So when we look at these studies, what life lessons can we learn to make sure our own lives are more fulfilling, happy and successful?

1.  "Happiness is love,  Full Stop"

George Valliant on the Grant Study.  Having a large social network and nurturing relationships adds years to your life…."That the only thing that really matters in life are your relationships to other people.” ….. From the Terman study :  Those with warm relationships made more money. . . Getting help from friends didn’t make you thrive. Giving help to friends is what led to a long life.

2) Being Laid-Back And Stress-Free… Will Kill You

People with low motivation actually die younger….People who are unpressured don’t thrive. The Terman Study found those who work hard are healthier and happier…..In fact a number of longitudinal studies agree on the quality most connected to a long and successful life: conscientiousness.

3) Be Optimistic… With A Little Bit Of Worrying

As a general rule, optimism increases life satisfaction….Happy people assume things will be okay — even when they won’t. Sometimes you need to face reality and address it.  The Grant Study confirms that being neurotic reduces life satisfaction. However, moderate worrying can extend your life….

4) There Is Always Hope.

Vaillant concludes that a loving childhood is one of the best predictors of mid and late-life riches: “We found that contentment in the late seventies was not even suggestively associated with parental social class or even the man’s own income. What it was significantly associated with was warmth of childhood environment, and it was very significantly associated with a man’s closeness to his father.”…..The Terman Study realized that “Parental divorce during childhood was the single strongest social predictor of early death.”

…. What both studies also show is that people can change, they can overcome and things missing in childhood can be gained later.
The Grant Study showed that happy marriages can repair the damage of difficult childhoods.

Barker concludes,  "Sometimes we feel cheated by life, now’s the chance to cheat at life. This is the closest thing we have to the answers to the test.  So game the system. Learn from the life stories of others and make sure your life story has a happy ending."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:21 PM | Permalink
Categories: Rules of Life/Lessons Learned

Beer is a health food

That beer has many health benefits was known to the ancient Greeks:

Sophocles on his philosophy of a moderate diet,  “[I recommend]… bread, meat, vegetables and beer.”
Plato, "He was a wise man who invented beer. "
Paracelsus, Greek physician, “A little bit of beer is divine medicine.”

And to our founding fathers:

Thomas Jefferson,  “Beer, if drunk in moderation, softens the temper, cheers the spirit and promotes health.”
Benjamin Franklin,  "Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy. "  

Now science is touting the benefits of beer: Full of vitamins, high in fibre, low on sugar and good for your hair

If you analysed beer you would  be amazed at how many super-nutrients there are in it,’ says Dr Stephan Domenig, medical director of The Original F.X. Mayr Health Centre in Austria. ‘Beer contains  all of the essential – and many of the non-essential – amino acids.’
As well as these protein-building blocks and minerals including phosphorus, iodine, magnesium and potassium, beer is rich in calcium  so could benefit your bones. 
A study by Tufts University in the United States in 2009 found that moderate beer consumption can protect bone mineral density.

For years Guinness was even prescribed to pregnant women due to its high Vitamin B content. ‘It’s  now recommended that pregnant women avoid alcohol but other  people could benefit,’ says nutritionist Vicki Edgson.

While high in vitamins, beer is actually low in sugar, high levels of which have been linked to diabetes and obesity. ...
‘Compared with soft drinks, it  will give less of a blood sugar  spike,’ says nutritionist Dr Kathryn O’Sullivan, who last year carried  out a scientific review of beer. ‘Beer is about 93 per cent water so it’s quite hydrating.’

In fact, moderate beer consumption may even help prevent diabetes. A 2010 study of more than 38,000 men in the US found that when men who rarely drank beer increased their consumption to one or two glasses a day, after four years their risk of type 2 diabetes fell by 25 per cent.

And despite the threat of a so-called ‘beer belly’, a study of nearly 2,000 regular beer drinkers by the University of London concluded it’s unlikely that moderate intake is associated with large weight gain.
Drinking beer increases the production of bile, which helps us to digest fatty food,’ says Dr Domenig. Beer is a rich source of fibre – two glasses provide between ten and  30 per cent of our recommended requirement. Fibre is known to help keep us full and ward off hunger.

Although beer drinking is usually associated with brain fog, research suggests it might help prevent Alzheimer’s. The disease, which affects almost 500,000 people in the UK, has been linked to high levels  of aluminium, but the silicon in beer may offset the damage.
A 2008 study published in the journal Food And Chemical Toxicology found the silicon was able to reduce aluminium uptake in the digestive tract and slow the accumulation of the metal in the body and brain tissue. But beware of overdoing it:  a University College London study warned that men drinking more than two pints a day could suffer memory loss.

Beer could also help heart health. A 2013 study at Harokopio University in Athens found it boosted the flexibility of the arteries. Scientists measured the cardiovascular health of non-smoking men under 35 two hours after drinking 400ml of beer and compared that with drinking vodka or alcohol-free beer. While all three drinks had some beneficial effect on the stiffness of arteries, beer had the greatest benefit.

Beer can raise good cholesterol too. ‘The main component that helps protect the heart is alcohol, which raises “good” HDL-cholesterol and has other benefits,’ says Dr R. Curtis Ellison, professor of medicine and public health at the Boston University School of Medicine.

 Toasting-With-Beer-Mugs-With-Sky-In-Background

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:13 PM | Permalink
Categories: Health

A Miscellany of Links

Pakistan Has More Than Two Million Slaves

There are an estimated 30 million slaves in the world today, more than at any other time in history. In case you missed it, earlier this month Real Clear World ran a profile of what slave labor looks like in Pakistan today. There are 1.8 million “debt laborers” in the country, and 2.2 million slaves over all (only India and China have more). The debt laborers are kept under the thumb of landlords who sell them back and forth and cook up ways of keeping them in bondage:…."The actual thing that is keeping people in bondage is the manipulation of the records. The “hari” is illiterate and uneducated and doesn’t know how to keep the records.

The Jihadi Menace Gets Real Walter Russell Mead

ISIS is bigger, badder, richer, and better organized than any jihadi threat the United States has faced thus far. Its rise represents a foreign policy disaster of the first order.

VDH:  The Federal Octopus - Federal agencies now exist not for the public good but for their employees’ benefit and Obama’s agenda.

The Dark Knight of the Soul  For some, meditation has become more curse than cure. Willoughby Britton wants to know why.

Diplomad  Collapse Part 1

The concepts of human rights, democracy, liberty, and free enterprise; the great scientific, engineering, and medical inventions and discoveries; the great explorations of the globe; the magnificent literature and art; these are overwhelmingly the products of white males--many of them Jewish, most of them Christian. In the past few decades we have seen a backlash against that, a movement that instead of calling on all to emulate these white male achievements, calls upon these achievements to be ridiculed, denigrated, and destroyed. That is the core of the issue in America and in Europe and around the world. The haters, the race-obsessed thugs are now in charge.

We see the results of this at home with the opening of our borders to a hostile invasion and most notably abroad as our power and influence are undermined from Washington DC.

Cloward-Piven Everywhere  And barely time to think.

Most People Think Alzheimer's Is a Normal Part of Aging  It's important not to think of the disease that way.

A complete list of things caused by global warming at the warmlist

A complete list of all the things that are considered racism Everything is racism

Educating America

Making the Case for a Course on American Masterpieces

How The Trans-Agenda Seeks To Redefine Everyone
The transgender movement has strong totalitarian overtones that Americans don’t fully understand.

See the Parthenon in color, the way the ancient Greeks did.      Panels from the Parthenon temple, which were once daubed in bright hues, have been ‘restored’ to their original condition via the use of 3D digital images.

 Parthenon In Color

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:55 PM | Permalink
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