June 16, 2016
Identity, Diversity, Hate and Religion
Marshall McLuhan interview 1977
All forms of violence are quests for identity. When you live out on the frontier, you have no identity. You are a nobody. Therefore, you get very tough. You have to prove that you are somebody. So you become very violent. Identity is always accompanied by violence. This seems paradoxical to you? Ordinary people find the need for violence as they lose their identities. It is only the threat to people’s identity that makes them violent. Terrorists, hijackers - these are people minus identity. They are determined to make it somehow, to get coverage, to get noticed....
Our obsession with identity has robbed the victims of their humanity.... From the get-go, efforts were made to suppress solidarity, in essence; to prevent anyone who doesn’t share the specific identity of the victims from expressing an opinion or grief over their slaughter...
Ownership. That’s it. The thing motoring the efforts to remove the Orlando victims from ‘generalized’ narratives about humanity and Islamism and so on is a narrow, jealous desire to make this attack gay property; to ensure it becomes fuel, not for discussions about the West or humanity or collective stands against Islamist intolerance, but for the maintenance of the victim culture of gay politics. Victimhood is the most important asset for all identity groups; it’s the thing that grants them moral authority in this era when having suffered is prized more highly than being morally autonomous.
Soft Disunion Terry Teachout
More and more, though, we don’t live together and we don’t listen to each other. As a result, the modest but real tolerance of the past is increasingly giving way to attempts at outright repression, or (more often, at least for now) the sniggeringly dismissive attitude exemplified by this Washington Post story about Donald Trump’s taste in food...Not our kind, dearie. After which come the sneers. I’m no fan of Donald Trump—that’s putting it very, very mildly—but I also know that of such sneers are revolutions made.
This “news” story is, in its minor but nonetheless revealing way, illustrative of the condition that now increasingly prevails in American society, which is that those who disagree no longer have anything to say to each other. Fact-based argument has been replaced by reflexive contempt. Nor should this be in any way surprising. In a totally polarized political environment, persuasion is no longer possible: we believe what we believe, and nothing matters but class and power.
Is Diversity Is Our Strength? Thomas Sowell
America’s great good fortune in the past has been that Americans have been able to unite as Americans against every enemy, despite our own internal differences and struggles. Black and white, Jew and Gentile, have fought and died for this country in every war.
It has not been our diversity, but our ability to overcome the problems inherent in diversity, and to act together as Americans, that has been our strength....Today, that sense of American unity is being undermined by the reckless polarization of group identity politics.
Terrorism Is Not Hate R.R. Reno
Like the overused “tragedy” (I’ll save that polemic for another time), “hate” obscures, rather than clarifies, what’s at stake. It directs our attention to strong emotions and abnormal mental states. It distracts us from the fact that our enemy has formulated a rational, political judgment—namely that humanity is better off if an Islamic form of government, rather than the United States, dominates the world....The truth is that terrorism has its roots in politics, not in hate.
Following Reno, we see that invocation of “hate” has become a way of dismissing opponents by suggesting that their beliefs are beyond the reach of reason. You can’t debate someone who hates, because hatred precludes thought; it’s in the bones. If Republicans are motivated by “hate,” then they are not legitimate political actors, because political life cannot be predicated on irrationality. Reason is our common ground....
The reduction of political beliefs to emotional impulses makes living together impossible; all that’s left are permanent tribal clashes. When the possibility of consensus, which depends on persuasion, is abandoned, because one side decides that the other is beyond persuading, the only recourse is force. As it applies to the contemporary Left, that should sound more than a little familiar.....
Simply put: The failure to consider the possibility that political opponents might be rational actors is making our national politics significantly nastier. And the failure to consider that terrorists might be, too, is making our nation less secure.
Religious War and the Martyrs of Orlando Rod Dreher
A fanatical Muslim closet case, son of Afghan immigrants, and registered Democrat, a wife-beater who, according to many people who dealt with him, was filled with rage and bigotry towards blacks and others, and who, according to eyewitnesses, spent the last hour of his life holding people hostage and ranting about the US bombing Afghanistan — this villain slaughters 49 gay people … and the New York Times finds a way to condemn Republican politicians for it.....
If the struggle for gay rights has taken on the qualities of a religious war, then that explains why people like Zack Ford spurn expressions of sympathy from religious conservatives like Russell Moore. No matter how much love and solidarity he expresses towards the suffering in Orlando and those who mourn, he is tainted by the impurity of his beliefs. That also explains gay CNN correspondent Anderson Cooper’s bizarre inquisition of a Florida politician, putting the hot poker in over her failure to tweet support on the High Holy Month of Gay Pride.
LGBTs, though, seem to relate to their cause as more like a religious movement. And religious movements cannot be questioned by those who do not accept their dogmas. To LGBTs, the fact that conservative Christians cannot in good conscience assent to their cause and its rituals is evidence of their evil. To argue on political grounds with wicked people is to grant your opponents moral standing that they don’t deserve. To do so therefore may be felt as weakening one’s resolve, and indeed failing to keep faith with the martyrs....
This is a very dangerous position to take in a pluralistic democracy. Yet it’s one we see more and more on the cultural Left, which is quick to define as “hate” any thought, speech, or action with which it disagrees. Again, if you regard this as a fundamentally religious act — on campus, for example, casting out infidels for the sake of keeping the community pure — it makes much more sense....
But it also renders the conflict irresolvable. The religious crusader cannot abide the existence of the infidel. He must be either stamped out or made into a dhimmi, a second-class citizen fully aware of his inferiority and outcast state......
If we are going to keep the peace, we have to keep our eyes trained on our common humanity, and realize that it is prior to any other division. Doing this requires us to restrain our rhetoric, and to stop being so quick to demonize those who disagree as motivated by hatred, saving instead that powerful word for those who unambiguously are motivated by the kind of hatred that all decent people condemn — cretins like Omar Mateen.
Rejecting Reality is Definitely Stupid
Richard Fernandez Definitely Stupid
One might ask how the Western elites could be so stupid as to get into a situation, where like Titanic, the threat is coming in faster than it can be pumped out. They may have even paid for some this influx from public funds. The Western elites first imported ISIS in the most expensive conceivable way and then proceeded to manage them through the most inefficient method imaginable. They imported a threat which as Foreign Policy points out is effectively a state-sponsored shock unit and now find they can't afford to monitor it. Why it's almost like promising pensions that can't be funded.
A Melancholy Calculation David Solway
Perhaps the most evident sign of civilizational devolution is the inability or unwillingness to acknowledge reality, to come to terms with things as they are, and to oppose the suppression of objectivity and its substitution by fantasy, illusion and wish-fulfillment. ....Biology, Nature, economic forces and human nature are not disposable artifacts, fashion accessories or hypothetical creations of unanchored will. They can be investigated, plumbed, to some limited degree modified and harnessed to advantage, but they cannot be turned into something they are not or conveniently abolished without unleashing tragic consequences.....
By Rejecting ‘Radical Islam,’ Obama Rejects Reality writes David Harsanyi
Instead, the president lashes out at America's real enemy: the GOP....“Radical Islam” distinguishes between extremists and moderates. Other than allowing liberals to accuse anyone who brings up theological problems of being Islamophobic, what other purpose does ignoring this distinction achieve?
Dan Greenfield on Reality
Narratives only work on the people you fool. They don’t remove the underlying danger. All they do is postpone the ultimate recognition of the problem with catastrophic results. Islamic terrorism is a reality. Erase all the narratives and the fact of its existence remains. ...
Assuming that Muslims are oppressed minorities is a profound intellectual error crippling our ability to defend ourselves. Islamic terrorism is not an anti-colonial movement, but a colonial one. ISIS and its Islamic ilk are not oppressed minorities, but oppressive majorities.....The very notion that the good opinion of the enemy should constrain our military operations, our thinking and even our ability to recognize reality is an enemy narrative of unprecedented effect.
And this is the narrative that our leaders and the leaders of the world have knelt in submission to.
Police in a U.S. town bordering Mexico have apprehended an undocumented, Middle Eastern woman in possession of the region’s gas pipeline plans, law enforcement sources tell Judicial Watch. Authorities describe the woman as an “Islamic refugee” pulled over during a traffic stop by a deputy sheriff in Luna County, New Mexico which shares a 54-mile border with Mexico.
Laila Alawa was one of just 15 people tapped to serve on the newly-formed HSAC Subcommittee on Countering Violent Extremism in 2015 — the same year she became an American citizen. Just last week, the subcommittee submitted a report to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, recommending that the DHS avoid using Muslim terminology like the words “sharia” and “jihad” when discussing terrorism.
"Unfortunately, despite all our progress against ISIL on the battlefield and in the financial realm, our efforts have not reduced the group's terrorism capability and global reach,"...."We judge that ISIL is training and attempting to deploy operatives for further attacks," he said. "ISIL has a large cadre of Western fighters who could potentially serve as operatives for attacks in the West. And the group [ISIS] is probably exploring a variety of means for infiltrating operatives into the West, including refugee flows, smuggling routes, and legitimate methods of travel.
CIA Director John Brennan is the person who -- after U.S. Muslim groups demanded he do so – “purged” all mention of Islam and jihad from law enforcement counter-terror training materials in 2011.
Intelligence and law enforcement agents training to counter terrorist threats today are taught all about militiamen and white supremacists -- but they hear nary a word about the beliefs, motives, and goals of Islamic jihadists. Unless they educate themselves on their own, our agents have no training on what jihadis are intent on doing and why. They are left abjectly incapable of devising effective strategies for countering them.
June 11, 2016
He shrubs up nicely: Bizarre tree looks just like a real person spotted in the Balkan Mountains, Bulgaria
The 65ft beech looks like Treebeard the Ent, a walking and talking tree from J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of The Rings-trilogy.
Yale English Majors Petition Not to Have to Read Chaucer and Shakespeare Also included in the Major English Poets class are Edmund Spenser, John Donne, John Milton, Alexander Pope, William Wordsworth, and T.S. Eliot. Too white, too male.
How about saying: The canon of English literature is filled with first-rate writing. If you're a Yalie and you don't like that, major in "Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies." Not a word of Chaucer in the required reading.
Tim Doucette only has ten percent of his vision, but strangely, he can see better in the dark. Since his pupils do not dilate and constrict, too much light gets in during the daylight hours. Yet he can see stars in the night sky better than most people can. So it only made sense that he would study those stars.
Greatest story of the week. Bungling bicycle thief gets lassoed by horse-riding Oregon cowboy in WalMart car park
Borba heard the woman's shouts while he was stocking up at Wal-Mart. Luckily, he had Long John and his lasso to hand. Born in California, Borba used to work rodeos, but prefers the ranching life in Oregon.
Fish gobble plastics like teenagers eat junk food: Young creatures prefer harmful man-made materials which stunts their growth
Lowe's Hires A Man Who Requires A Service Dog, Makes A Custom Vest For The Dog
Two boys were walking home from Sunday school after hearing a strong preaching on the devil. One said to the other, 'What do you think about all this Satan stuff?' The other boy replied, 'Well, you know how Santa Claus turned out. It's probably just your Dad..'
Attending a wedding for the first time, a little girl whispered to her mother, 'Why is the bride dressed in white?''
The mother replied, 'Because white is the color of happiness, and today is the happiest day of her life.'
The child thought about this for a moment then said, 'So why is the groom wearing black?
A police recruit was asked during the exam, 'What would you do if you had to arrest your own mother?'
He answered, 'Call for backup.'
Health Roundup: Missing Y chromosome, Alzheimer's, Migraines
Researchers say that the Y chromosome, or more specifically, the loss of it, may be to blame for men’s shorter lifespans. Only found in men, the Y chromosome contains the DNA that makes males male and is present in almost every cell in the body. But, in some men, it starts to disappear from some of their blood cells as they get older. Previous research has shown these men are more likely to die young and to suffer from a range of cancers.
Now, scientists have also linked loss of the Y chromosome to Alzheimer’s disease. And they say that while the missing DNA has no effect on a man’s manliness, it may help explain why males, as a whole, tend to die younger. The researchers, from Uppsala University in Sweden, came up with the theory after studying more than 3,200 men aged between 37 and 96. Tests showed the Y chromosome to be missing from white blood cells in roughly one in five men. And the older they were, the more common it was....Health records showed Alzheimer’s disease to be almost three times as common in men affected by the phenomenon.
Rowan Led Research Team Develops Highly Accurate Blood Test For Alzheimer’s Disease
Early detection of Alzheimer’s Disease may be more possible than ever thanks to a group of researchers from Rowan University. The group announced that they have developed a blood test that uses the immune system to find early stage Alzheimer’s in patients. The study included 236 subjects. In terms of identifying early Alzheimer’s in patients with mild cognitive impairment, or MCI, the overall accuracy rate was 100 percent, according to the researchers.
Cassandra DeMarshall, the lead author of the study, said that 60 percent of patients with MCI, have it due to an early stage of Alzheimer’s. “Our results show that it is possible to use a small number of blood-borne autoantibodies to accurately diagnose early-stage Alzheimer’s. These findings could eventually lead to the development of a simple, inexpensive and relatively noninvasive way to diagnose this devastating disease in its earliest stages.”
Regular exercise from the age of 40 can help prevent Alzheimer's disease. Researchers at the University of Melbourne, tracked 387 women aged 45 to 55 over 20 years. They assessed a range of lifestyle factors over the course of 20 years including exercise, diet, education, smoking, height, weight and BMI. They found exercise was the most important factor in preventing dementia. Any intensity from walking the dog to mountain climbing has benefits. Experts say every year counts, so the sooner a person exercises the better.
Trials of the new drug, which is delivered via a monthly injection, suggests it could halve the number of attacks for at least 53 per cent of people. ..Study author Dr Marcelo Bigal, of American firm Teva Pharmaceuticals which developed the TEV-48125 drug, said: ‘Most people who receive preventive medication for chronic migraine stop using them, and one reason for that is the drugs can take a long time to become effective.
Described as one of the few true ‘holy grails’ of medical research, an injection to truly tackle migraines is being pursued by drugs giants Amgen, Eli Lilly and Alder, who are each competing with Teva to get the first license for the medication. The four companies are each developing variants of a drug which tackles a protein called calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP), which triggers the pain and nausea associated with a migraine....
CGRP causes the swelling of blood vessels intertwined with nerve endings on both sides of the head. Researchers have found that monoclonal blood proteins – antibodies specifically engineered to bind to CGRP – were able to ‘mop up’ the chemical, meaning it did not trigger a migraine.
A lack of the sunshine could be triggering migraine attacks in children, teenagers and young adults, a study has found. Migraine attacks cause dizziness, nausea and headaches - and although painkillers and other drugs can ease the symptoms, they only work for some patients. Now a study has found a lack of vitamin D, vitamin B2 or riboflavin and coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) - an enzyme the body produces to help energy for cell growth and maintenance - in a high percentage of migraine sufferers.
Health Roundup: Cannabis, autism and depression
Dr Stuart Reece, and Professor Gary Hulse from the University of Western Australia's School of Psychiatry, analyzed literary and research material to understand the likely causes. Dr Reece said: 'Through our research we found that cancers and illnesses were likely caused by cell mutations resulting from cannabis properties having a chemical interaction with a person's DNA. With cannabis use increasing globally in recent years, this has a concerning impact for the population.'
While a person may appear healthy and lead a normal life, the unseen damage to their DNA could also be passed on to their children, and cause illness for several generations to come.'Even if a mother has never used cannabis in her life, the mutations passed on by a father's sperm can cause serious and fatal illnesses in their children,' Dr Reece said. 'The parents may not realize that they are carrying these mutations, which can lie dormant and may only affect generations down the track, which is the most alarming aspect.'
Smoking both cannabis and tobacco during pregnancy creates a greater health risk to your unborn baby, than cigarettes alone, experts have warned. Though the statement may sound obvious, more women are using cannabis while they are expecting, as it becomes legal in more places. Between 2 and 11% of pregnant American women smoke pot, experts say.
Cannabis IS addictive - and smoking it harms the brain permanently research suggests
Researchers showed long term marijuana users pictures of the drug or fruit. Brain circuit controlling pleasure was more active when they saw drug. This suggests using cannabis regularly over years changes the brain.
Now, scientists have discovered why: smoking cannabis long term disrupts certain brain circuits, leading to cravings and dependency. These changes mark the difference between occasional users and people who have become dependent, researchers said. Despite the drug causing problems in people's lives - such as family and relationship issues - they carried on using it, a sign of psychological dependence, researchers said.
Until now, it was believed autism was cause by abnormal brain development. Now, scientists believe some aspects of the disorder may occur as a result of problems with nerves found in the arms, legs, hands, fingers and skin that send sensory information to the brain.
Symptoms including being sensitive to touch, having difficulties with social interaction and anxiety might be caused by defects in the sensory nerves that run through the body. Harvard Medical School experts believe that in people with Autism spectrum disorder (ASD), these sensory nerves are defective due to gene mutations. This means the 'volume' is turned up all the way in these nerve cells, meaning touch is felt at an exaggerated, heightened level - and this can lead to anxiety and behavioral problems. Defects in touch processing may help to explain some of the behaviors observed in patients with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Scientists at King's College London have developed a blood test that accurately and reliably predicts whether depressed patients will respond to common antidepressants, which could herald a new era of personalized treatment for people with depression. Guided by this test, patients with blood inflammation above a certain threshold could be directed towards earlier access to more assertive antidepressant strategies, such as a combination of antidepressants, before their condition worsens.
Approximately half of all depressed patients do not respond to first-line antidepressants and a third of patients are resistant to all available pharmacological treatments. Until now, it has been impossible to establish if individual patients will respond to common antidepressants or if they need a more assertive antidepressant treatment plan, which may include a combination of more than one medication.
As a result, patients are treated with a trial-and-error approach whereby one antidepressant is tried after another, often for 12 or more weeks for every type of antidepressant. This can result in long periods of ineffective antidepressant treatment for individuals who may not show an improvement in symptoms anyway.
Most available antidepressants do not help children and teenagers with serious mental health problems and some may be unsafe, experts have warned. A review of clinical trial evidence found that of 14 antidepressant drugs only one, fluoxetine - marketed as Prozac - was better than a 'dummy' placebo at relieving the symptoms of young people with major depression.
Another drug, venlafaxine, was associated with an increased risk of suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts.
Researchers recommended close monitoring of young people on antidepressants, regardless of what drugs they were prescribed, especially at the start of treatment.
Health Roundup: Stem cell breakthroughs in treating stroke, MS and Bubble Baby disease
Major breakthrough as doctors REVERSE symptoms of a stroke- up to 3 YEARS later
Doctors have reversed the symptoms of stroke in a major medical breakthrough. Patients regained the ability to walk, speak and have a normal family life, thanks to a procedure requiring only local anesthetic and a single night in hospital. Remarkably, the stem cell treatment was shown to work even three years after someone had suffered a stroke - meaning that millions of people could potentially benefit from the treatment.
Eighteen patients underwent the procedure in an initial trial - with stunning results. Despite the long gap between stroke and treatment, all 18 patients in the pilot showed increasing improvement for the 12 months they were tracked after the operation. Nearly half showed ‘clinically meaningful’ results - which meant the procedure had a significant impact on their lifestyle.
One patient who relied on a wheelchair, unable to properly use her legs, has since taken up jogging. Another woman, who could barely get to her feet before the operation, has since walked down the aisle and is now expecting a baby with her new husband. And another, completely paralyzed apart from the use of her left thumb, has regained the ability to walk.
The treatment, carried out by scientists at Stanford University in California, is thought to be so effective because it triggers the rapid regeneration of brain circuits damaged during a stroke. But the team has already started on work to replicate their results on a larger scale, and if that is successful the technique has great potential to revolutionize life for stroke patients.
Multiple sclerosis patients who were severely disabled are walking, working and even downhill skiing again following a breakthrough therapy which completely destroys, then rebuilds, the immune system. The trial, which is the first in the world to show complete long-term remission from the debilitating disease has been hailed by experts as ‘exciting’ ‘unprecedented,’ and ‘close to curative.’
Although it is unclear what causes MS it is thought that the immune system attacks the protective coating which surrounds nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord leading to inflammation, pain, disability and in severe cases, early death.
The new technique, which is a treatment usually used to fight leukemia, involves using chemotherapy to entirely eradicate the damaged immune system, before rebooting it with a transfusion of bone marrow cells.
Out of the 24 patients who were given the treatment at least seven years ago, the majority have seen significant improvements . 70 per cent of patients saw a complete stop to the progression of the disease, while 40 per cent saw a reversal in symptoms such as vision loss, muscle weakness and balance loss.
Dr Mark Freedman, of the University of Ottawa and Ottawa Hospital, where the trials were carried out, said: “Jennifer, she freaked me out one day when she came to the clinic wearing high heels. This was a girl who could barely walk.”
UCLA stem cell researchers cured 18 children born without a working immune system due to life-threatening ADA-deficient Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID) Breakthrough stem cell gene therapy developed by Dr. Donald Kohn and team identifies and corrects faulty gene in children with ADA-deficient SCID using child’s own cells
Children born with adenosine deaminase (ADA)-deficient severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID), often called “Bubble Baby” disease, a life-threatening condition that if left untreated can be fatal within the first year of life. To date, 18 children with SCID have been cured of the disease after receiving the stem cell gene therapy in clinical trials at UCLA and the National Institutes of Health.
Health Roundup: Arthritis and Cataracts
A tiny worm could help bring relief to millions of chronic arthritis sufferers, scientists claim.A study has found that the immune response triggered by infection with a parasite called N. brasiliensis eases rheumatoid arthritis. Experiments with the parasite could bring hope of new treatments for people with the debilitating condition, and cut the need for expensive hip and knee replacements.
One of the most common forms of the disease, rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the immune system attacks the joints by mistake. The wrists, fingers, toes, ankles and knees are particularly susceptible. Current drugs do not work for everyone, and one in three sufferers give up work within ten years of diagnosis. Those whose joints have been very badly damaged can undergo hip or knee replacements. However this involves a major operation, as well as months of rehabilitation, and the new joints have a limited lifespan.
When the German researchers infected arthritis-stricken mice with the worm, the creatures’ health improved. Inflammation was cut and damage to cartilage reduced, the journal Nature Communications reports. It is thought that the immune response triggered by the worm – which normally lives in rats’ stomachs – counteracts the rogue immune response behind the disease. Parasitic worms have already been used to successfully treat other illnesses in which the immune system turns on the body, including Crohn’s disease.
Researchers at Louisiana State University have formulated drops made of nanoparticles that are able to efficiently deliver into the eye lens the natural substance called lutein–which is plentiful in youthful eyes, but diminishes in old age.... Cataracts are a common condition in older adults that causes the lens of the eye to become cloudy and block light from the retina. There were more than 24 million cases of cataracts in the U.S. in 2010.
Professor Cristina Sabliov and assistant professor Carlos Astete in the LSU AgCenter Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering found a way to use nanoparticles to make the plant-based anti-oxidant more absorbent for humans. “The nanoparticle matrix can deliver lutein to the eye efficiently, which improves its effect against cataracts,” Sabliov said. This new product would have the unique advantage of both being able to prevent cataracts before they start or to treat cataracts after they form,” she said.
Tests on rats have been successful in reducing the size of cataracts in just one week, but the team expects further animal tests and human tests to take years before the eye drops can hit the market