March 31, 2006

Good Sense to Question Authority

When it comes to a disaster like Katrina or 9/11, it's often better to question authorities especially when your gut tells you to.

The release of the tapes of 911 calls from September 11 is heart-breaking because

No more than 2 of the 130 callers were told to leave, the tapes reveal, even though unequivocal orders to evacuate the trade center had been given by fire chiefs and police commanders moments after the first plane struck. The city had no procedure for field commanders to share information with the 911 system, a flaw identified by the 9/11 Commission that city officials say has since been fixed.

I wrote in Good Sense and Preparation that

You have to depend on your own good sense and preparation to survive if something terrible happens, a terrorist attack, a fire, or in what seems increasingly likely next year or the next two or three, a pandemic of avian flu.

You have to depend on your own good sense and preparation to survive because the federal government, state and local governments are not prepared as they should be and never will be.

This used to be commonly accepted.

Civil engineers who studied the collapse of the World Trade Center towers said some 2500 people saved their lives because they disobeyed authorities who told them to stay put and instead engaged in "reasoned flight". They didn't flee in a panic but stopped to help the injured and assist the disabled. They knew more than the authorities because they had better access to what was happening than the authorities did.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:51 PM | Permalink

Closed Borders

You may recall that a Borders bookstore was destroyed on 9/11 in the attacks on the World Trade Center.

You would then be surprised to learn that Borders has almost no books on the events of 9/11 in its New York City bookstores. I don't know about elsewhere, I have only the report of Van at Kesher Talk of his search at

bizarro-world bookstore, where the most fateful world-historical event of our times did not occur. A visitor to either store would find it almost impossible to learn what happened that day -- what happened to set in motion the chain of events that led to many other books that Borders is happy to carry, such as plans to impeach President Bush.

Then I learn from Sisu that a Borders employee reports that they are not allowed to put their copies of the Koran on any shelf other than the top.

And now Borders and Waldenbooks has banned the April-May issue of the magazine Free Inquiry because it reprinted the Danish cartoons inside its covers. The reason Borders gives is its hypothetical fear of violence from radical Muslims and its desire to protect customers and employees. This confused moral stand is nothing but a craven capitulation to perceived threats and possible bullying.

Robert Bidinotto rightly asks what next? Banning Jewish books because of threats by skinheads? Books on abortion because a pro-life fanatic might threaten you? Books on organized crime because some Mafioso could scare you? Pornographic books because some crazed feminist might threaten harm?

Could it be that Borders' recent MOU with the United Arab Emirates has anything to do with it?

Remember when Borders hosted events to highlight the tragedy of banned books? Tim Blair does.

I watch American corporations like Yahoo! supply the Chinese government with its list of cyberdissidents from their email database. Some of those dissidents are now in jail. To their credit, neither Google nor MSN have stooped so low. Unable to make moral distinctions, Yahoo! founder Jerry Lang shrugs it off reports Rebecca MacKinnon in Yahoo! Abomination.

Stephen Green at Vodkapundit drives it home.

President Bush isn’t a fascist, and I can prove it.

We’ve seen what American bookstores and publications and universities do when confronted with real fascists: they knuckle under. You might not be able to find those Danish cartoons anyplace respectable, but you’ll sure find lots of anti-Bush stuff.

Ipso facto, America is doing just fine, thankyouverymuch.

After 9/11when terror was brought to our door, many of us wondered what we could do as individuals. What I plan to do and what you can do is NOT PATRONIZE those companies or stores that knuckle under to fascist threats or perceived threats. Borders is adding to the climate of fear by undermining our freedom of the press. They are making it easier for any thug to threaten violence to get books they don't like removed from shelves.

Don't go there. Don't patronize bookstores that are afraid. Don't buy books at stores that undermine our liberal values.

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Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:42 PM | Permalink

Medical Study on Prayer

Results of the long-awaited study on prayer have been released.

Taking almost 10 years, following some 1800 patients and costing more than $2.4 million, the study show that prayers offered by strangers had no effect on the recovery of people who were undergoing heart surgery.

The study said nothing about the power of personal prayer or about prayers for family members and friends.

Designed to cure problems with earlier studies that had conflicting results, the study may have created another.

Patients who knew they were being prayed for had a higher rate of post-operative complications like abnormal heart rhythms, perhaps because of the expectations the prayers created, the researchers suggested.

In a hurriedly convened news conference, the study's authors, led by Dr. Herbert Benson, a cardiologist and director of the Mind/Body Medical Institute near Boston, said that the findings were not the last word on the effects of so-called intercessory prayer. But the results, they said, raised questions about how and whether patients should be told that prayers were being offered for them.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:56 PM | Permalink

Punishing Educated Mothers

If the state subsidizes your education, does it have a say in how you use that education?

If you are a woman and want to stay home to raise your children, should you be punished?

Sharon Dijksma, a leading figure in the Dutch Labour Party, thinks so.

"A highly-educated woman who chooses to stay at home and not to work – that is destruction of capital,” she said in an interview last week. “If you receive the benefit of an expensive education at society’s expense, you should not be allowed to throw away that knowledge unpunished"

Talk about draining the life from a society.

There seems to be a blinder on the eyes of some feminists that they can not see the tremendous value and benefit to all society in mothers who devote their time to raising loving, secure and educated children.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:32 PM | Permalink

Smith College

If you're a Smithie and visiting for the first time, thanks for dropping by and I hope you enjoy the Business of Life. But, to set the record straight, please read Smith College Doesn't Get It.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:04 AM | Permalink

March 30, 2006

X Factor

It may be that extra X chromosome that gives women the decided advantage when it comes to warding off disease and living long lives.

People think the X is only about sex," Migeon said, "but it has 1,100 genes that do all kinds of things, from being involved in blood clotting to muscle function, to getting rid of [cellular] waste products. It's a very active chromosome.

X Factor Boosts Women's Health, Longevity

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:21 PM | Permalink

Financial Infidelity

Financial Infidelity is like, you know, shopping behind your spouse's back.

Can a bit of secret spending add spice to a marriage?

Surveys show that up to half of all couples admit that they commit 'financial infidelity' by lying about purchases they've made writes Jeffrey Zaslow in the Wall St Journal.

How do you and your spouse handle discretionary spending?

If couples haven't set a limit in advance, there's apparently a whole cottage industry of consultants out there ready to help couples negotiate their own "open to buy" amounts.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:08 PM | Permalink

March 29, 2006

Draining the Life from Life

No one makes me think more than Charles Murray. A Plan to Replace the Welfare State

Throughout history until a few decades ago, the meaning of life for almost everyone was linked to the challenge of simple survival. Staying alive required being a contributing part of a community. Staying alive required forming a family and having children to care for you in your old age. The knowledge that sudden death could happen at any moment required attention to spiritual issues. Doing all those things provided deep satisfactions that went beyond survival.

Life in an age of plenty and security requires none of those things. For the great majority of people living in advanced societies, it is easily possible to go through life accompanied by social companions and serial sex partners, having a good time, and dying in old age with no reason to think that one has done anything significant.

If you believe that's all there is--that the purpose of life is to while away the time as pleasantly as possible--then it is reasonable to think that the purpose of government should be to enable people to do so with as little effort as possible. But if you agree with me that to live a human life can have transcendental meaning, then we need to think about how human existence acquires weight and consequence.
For most people--including many older people who in their youths focused on vocation--life acquires meaning through the stuff of life: the elemental events associated with birth, death, growing up, raising children, paying the rent, dealing with adversity, comforting the bereaved, celebrating success, applauding the good and condemning the bad; coping with life as it exists around us in all its richness. The chief defect of the welfare state from this perspective is not that it is ineffectual in making good on its promises (though it is), nor even that it often exacerbates the very problems it is supposed to solve (though it does). The welfare state is pernicious ultimately because it drains too much of the life from life.

It seems to me that the current French riots are all about security. Les jeunes, knowing nothing else, want everything to stay the same.

Roger Simon asks Can you imagine wanting or even considering keeping your first job out of college for life?

The profound fear that is permeating the French society and which I posted about in French fear is what happens when too much of the life is drained from life.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:44 PM | Permalink

New Moms Exhausted

Did we really need a new study to tell us that most new mothers are exhausted?

Well, maybe we did to learn that those who had C-sections or are breast-feeding are experiencing the most symptoms.

Or to learn that
76 percent of working mothers return to work within a year after the birth of their child. Forty-one percent of working mothers are back within three months, and nearly one in six is back within the first month after delivery.

Or to realize that in most other countries, mothers receive a great deal more support than they do here. Whether it's medical leave for post-partum recovery or support by existing groups of family, friends and neighbors.

New mothers need all the support and help they can get. Surely, if you know of a new mom, you can figure out a way to lend a hand, even for a couple of hours.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:18 PM | Permalink

March 28, 2006

Money is a Life Skill

For most of us, money is a difficult subject to talk about. It's too personal and tied up with all sorts of emotional baggage.

Still, sometimes we must; for example, before getting married.

even among the most compatible couples, the prewedding vow of personal-finance silence eventually leads to frustration, fights and power struggles.

The Wall St Journal has nine questions partners should ask each other before they take their vows.

1. What are your financial assets and liabilities
2. How do you use debt?
3. What is your money history?
4. Do we need a prenup?
5. What are your financial aspirations?
6. What are your career expectations?
7. How do you propose we divide financial duties?
8. Will we operate from one checkbook or three?
9. Do you have a basic understanding of money?

"Money is a life skill, like swimming," says Ms. Schwab Pomerantz. "Both of you need to know how to swim, because life is full of stormy seas."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:49 PM | Permalink

Whorls and Tangles in Nuns

The best control group to study Alzheimer's appears to be nuns. And let's not forget Sister Josita.

That is the extraordinary discovery made by Professor David Bennett, an American neuropathologist investigating Alzheimer's disease...
Then, within hours of a nun dying in the concrete tower-block nunnery, her body is hurried the few miles to the Rush University Medical Centre, where her brain is removed and sliced into discs, and stored alongside the 1,000 other brains in Prof Bennett's research programme.

The brain slices are examined for evidence of neuritic plaques - abnormal whorls of brain tissue - and neurofibrillary tangles, which are mixed-up bundles of nerve fibres. These were the symptoms first spotted by Aloiz Alzheimer in 1906 in a woman who had died of an unusual mental illness.

"I'm very happy to give away my brain," says Sister Michele Elfering, 76, who has been with the order since she was 18, and has taught maths and reading in Chicago schools, rising to become a headmistress, "I'd do anything I can do to help with Alzheimer's. I've seen so many sisters get it. It begins with them being forgetful; starting a conversation and not being able to finish it. Then they forget where things are in the kitchen. They'll go for a glass of water and start looking in the condiments drawer. You can see it happening. You're very aware of it, though it's very slow. Sometimes they'll have a strong memory of their childhood and no memory of what they did five minutes ago."
"Often, the sisters who get Alzheimer's seem to be lost in another world and then they'll suddenly start saying the Our Father or singing hymns, or just talk about God. It seems that the last thing to go is praying."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:32 PM | Permalink

March 27, 2006

Bacon Lovers Take Heart

If this isn't good news, I don't know what is.

Bacon that's good for your heart.

Bacon as rich with Omega-3 fatty acids as the finest fish.

And the gene that makes it all possible comes from the lowly roundworm.

Read the New York Times if you don't believe me, Pork That's Good for the Heart May Be Possible with Cloning.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:32 PM | Permalink

Their Fathers' Country

As boomers grow older, many find it imperative to learn more about their biological families in a search to find a greater sense of identity that might prove a clue to the question we all ask ourselves, "Why are we here?"

With the World War II generation passing over, the search has become more pressing.

Germany's War Children Scramble to Find Their GI Fathers.

"My earliest memory is of wondering, 'Who is my father?' " said Herbert Hack, 53, son of a young rural woman who fell hard for a good-looking GI. "I would beg my mother for answers, and she'd just say, 'Ssssh,' Until finally, when I turned 15, she told me: 'There was an American soldier. His name was Charles. One night we went dancing . . .' "
"I want so much to finally put a face to this mystery figure who has loomed over my family without ever being there," said Simone Mandl, 35, granddaughter of a GI and a married German woman. "He was an American soldier who had an affair with my grandmother while her husband was away at war. Their romance was tragic. Yet I believe she never stopped loving her American."

But some occupation offspring want more from their missing forebear - formal recognition of paternity, information about genetic disease, even a new identity in their father's image.
Best estimates are that 66,000 illegitimate children of GIs and German women were born in American-occupied zones from 1946 to 1956, according to historian Johannes Kleinschmidt, author of a book about US-German "fraternization" issues.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:19 PM | Permalink

The Market for Zombies

It may seem strange, but there's a resurgent market in Zombies, the walking dead.

Books, films and video games about zombies are speaking to the deep and pervasive fear many have.

Most zombie zealots seem to agree that the zombie renaissance has something to do with the anxieties of life after Sept. 11.

"People have apocalypse on the brain right now," Mr. Brooks said. "It's from terrorism, the war, natural disasters like Katrina." Several zombie aficionados said there was a zombielike quality to the spread of the bird flu.

If you need to brush up on zombie lore, a little background. Zombies have their origin in Caribbean voodoo; they are thought to be reanimated corpses, under the control of the witch who reanimated them.

In modern literature and films, zombies are typically mindless, slow-moving creatures (due to the stiffness of necrotic tissue, Mr. Brooks writes) with but one aim: to eat flesh. And they're not particular about whose flesh they eat.

Seems to me, there's enough walking dead out there. What we need are more people waking up and becoming more responsible for the world around us.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:01 PM | Permalink

March 26, 2006

French Fear

Why I worry for France. From the Washington Post, Joie de Vivre Fades Into Fear

"France is divorced from the modern world of the 21st century," said Nicolas Baverez, author of a top-selling book, "New World, Old France." It describes a country so fearful of letting go of outmoded traditions -- including a hugely expensive cradle-to-grave welfare system -- that it is being shut out of the global marketplace. "We're at a very dangerous turning point," he said.

Ipsos, a French polling institute, recently asked 500 people between the ages of 20 and 25 the question: "What does globalization mean to you?"

Forty-eight percent of those surveyed responded, "Fear."

Fear of what?

Just about everything, according to Christophe Lambert, author of another examination of contemporary France, "The Fearful Society." The country, he writes, is paralyzed by "fear of the future, fear of losing, fear of others, fear of taking a risk, fear of solitude, fear of growing old."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:08 PM | Permalink

Marriage is for White People

I was stunned to learn that a black child was more likely to grow up living with both parents during slavery days than he or she is today, according to sociologist Andrew J. Cherlin.

Marriage is for White People

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:03 PM | Permalink

March 25, 2006

Caring for Aging Parents

If there ever was a niche crying to be filled, it's the need to help boomers care for aging parents. Using the model for child care won't work says the New York Times in As Parents Age, Baby Boomers and Businesses Cope.

Only 1 percent of their companies subsidized any elder care benefits last year. And only 3 percent offered the emergency backup care — subsidized or otherwise — that experts say saves money by keeping workers at work.
Guiding the decisions of an elderly parent also requires mastery of arcane legal, financial and medical matters.

"It's a new and very confusing skill set," said Maureen Corcoran, a vice president at Prudential Financial. "You don't just give people a list; you lead them there. Otherwise they spend hours upon hours figuring it out themselves."

For both employees and employers, the costs of elder care are enormous, according to studies by the MetLife Mature Market Institute,
"Everyone I know is dealing with this," said Ms. Galinsky, who recently stayed at the bedside of her 98-year-old mother for the last two months of her life. The institute allows unlimited sick leave for such family emergencies. But even with that leeway, Ms. Galinsky said: "I was on another planet. It's like no other experience. I barely have words for how hard it is."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:38 PM | Permalink

March 24, 2006

Nature deficit disorder

I'm a nut on natural sounds.

Years ago, I started collecting sounds of nature on cassette tapes, later on CDs. I've found them wonderful accompaniments to focused work, meditation, even sleep. I find actual recordings are far superior to white noise or sound machines though the latter works too.

I have them on my computer, my iPod, on CDs, even on my Audubon clock. I thought with a different bird call for each hour, I would learn to identify them by their song alone. No such luck. Seems as though I can only tell the nine o'clock bird from the noon bird.

I believe that without sounds of nature around, at least part of the day, we lose contact with the natural world. Too much sound from radio, TV, computers and iPods, disconnects us from the living, breathing world outside of our own bodies.

Natural sounds emerge from the silence that descends when we turn machines off. In a sheltered space, be it house or office or apartment, with windows closed, silence still brings the hum of the refrigerator or computer. That's why I use recordings.

True well-being brings an expanded sense of being alive. You can't be expanded without a greater sense of self that includes connectedness with nature, her ocean waves, morning song birds, waterfalls, and crickets.

Nature deficit sends kids down a desolate path

Author Richard Louv says kids don't get outside enough and so their bond with nature is not developed and they are suffering as a result. Kids need nature to develop their senses of learning and creativity and wonder.

"Nature is directly connected to our health. It helps us feel better physically and psychologically. It helps us pay attention."

He wonders whether the increase in ADD is attributable in part to children's isolation and alienation from the natural world. His campaign, "No Child Left Inside," calls for less time wired up, more time outside. Any patch of grass, vacant lot, woods or fields will work for kids.

His book

"Last Child in the Woods : Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder" (Richard Louv)

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:48 PM | Permalink

Guided by History

Wells Fargo launches a blog to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the San Francisco Earthquake and Fire.

Called Guided by History, it's the first public blog by any Fortune 500 financial services company says Debby Weil in Business Blog Consulting.

A great name, Guided by History because through the historical first-person accounts of the San Francisco quake, you can begin to understand the personal qualities and resources needed to survive such a catastrophe. Helpful bookmarks make this blog especially useful for anyone in earthquake terrritory

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:42 PM | Permalink

"Five Second Rule" seems valid

Many believe if a piece of food falls on the ground, and you pick it up right away, in less than 5 seconds, you can still eat it.

Two young teens tested that rule for a science fair and won first prize.

Less than 5 seconds OK, after that it's best to toss it.

Five-second finding.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:20 AM | Permalink

March 23, 2006

Little Arties and Ariannas

Art Buchwald makes me laugh out loud. Take Low-Interest Loan

He read the same piece I wrote about in Sperm Online but he "decided it was a sign. Why not me?" so he calls the sperm bank, offers a deposit, and spends the rest of the column in a reverie about his possible children in his room at a hospice where he is spending his last days as the man who wouldn't die.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:38 PM | Permalink

Noam Chomsky's estate planning techniques.

If you rail against the concentration of wealth in "trusts" by the wealthiest 1% of the population and you make a lot of money doing so, be sure to set up an irrevocable trust to protect your assets.

If you attack the "massive use of tax havens to shift the burden to the general population and away from the rich" and make a lot of money doing so, be sure to have your own tax attorney.

If you attack private property rights as a tool for the rich and of no benefit to ordinary people, be sure to assign the copyrights of your books to your daughter so the copyright will last longer and she is taxed at a lower rate.

If you call capitalism, a "grotesque catastrophe", be sure to charge for your speeches, charge for your books, charge for post-talk receptions, charge a download fee for clips of your speeches and charge for CDs with clips from your earlier speeches.

With all that money, don't invest in bond funds or green companies or socially responsible enterprises, go for the funds that invest in oil companies, military contractors and pharmaceuticals yielding the maximum return.

It's okay because you're trying to help suffering people.

More on Noam Chomsky's estate planning techniques at the National Post.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:16 PM | Permalink

Duct Tape

You only need two tools: WD-40 and duct tape. If it doesn't move and it should, use WD-40. If it moves and shouldn't, use the tape.

Did you know that enough duct tape is sold each year to wrap around the earth 20 times?

Or that the astronauts used duct tape on Apollo 13 to help put together air scrubbers that kept them alive?

And duct tape cures warts better than freezing with liquid nitrogen?

All this and more at Duct tape: World's Greatest Tool?

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:54 PM | Permalink

March 22, 2006

No disabled in North Korea

There are no people with physical disabilities in North Korea says a defector.

Anyone born disabled is killed as a way of "purifying the masses" and eliminating people who might be "different".

Refugees returning to North Korea face forced abortions in the prison camps in a drive by Kim Jong-Il to keep his people 'ethnically pure'.

Infanticides are common, as is slave labor, political prisoners and torture. Stories of mass starvation include "accounts of desperate people eating bark, weeds, pig feed -- and humans, sometimes by people who have gone insane." An estimated 3 million people have starved to death under the leadership of Kim Jong II.

Report from our State Department .

North Korea is a horrific disaster in slow motion.

I'm beginning to believe that the more disabled people one sees in public, the more humane the society.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:46 PM | Permalink

Spinal Manipulation

In a review of 26 studies, experts from the Peninsula Medical School in Devon, U. K. found that spinal manipulation, used by chiropractors and osteopaths to treat neck and back pain, is of little help.

Back treatment 'has few benefits'

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:30 PM | Permalink

March 21, 2006

Whose organ do you want

China executes about 8000 people a year with the organs of executed prisoners the raw materials for a growing organ transplant industry.

Hundreds of well-off Japanese and other nationals are turning to China's burgeoning human organ transplant industry, paying tens of thousands of pounds for livers and kidneys, which in some cases have been harvested from executed prisoners and sold to hospitals.
And it's not just the small private hospitals and clinics springing up all over the country - even bigger hospitals in the capital Beijing and the business hub of Shanghai have adverts in toilet cubicles and on the walls of wards.

I don't think they ever saw this. Female kidney turns lumberjack on to housework.

Nor this. Very often recipients of a transplant take on the personality characteristics of the donor according to Gary Schwartz, a professor of psychology at the University of Arizona.

In one such case, a young dancer received a heart-and-lung transplant. Before the operation, she had been very health-conscious; yet, the very first thing she did on leaving the hospital was to head for a Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet, and wolf down an order of chicken nuggets‹something she would never have done before. Her personality changed, too: she became aggressive and impetuous whereas, before, she had been calm and conservative.

She decided to investigate and, after much battling against the medical bureaucracy, she discovered that her heart lung donor was an 18-year-old man who had died in a motorcycle accident. He had been an aggressive and impetuous lad who had a passion for Kentucky Fried Chicken‹in fact, uneaten KFC nuggets had been found in his motorcycle jacket on the very day of his death.

Another notable case is that of an eight-year-old girl who had received the heart of a 10-year-old girl who had been brutally murdered. After the transplant, the recipient began to experience horrifying nightmares. Her dreams were consistently about being murdered, and they were so traumatic that a psychiatrist was called in to help. What he heard convinced him that the girl was describing the actual circumstances of her donor¹s murder. When the details were given to the police, these proved to be so accurate that the killer was easily identified and apprehended.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:29 PM | Permalink

Disabled Hands

If you know anyone who is having trouble with their hands, point them to Disabled Hands, a blog that gives "tips, hacks and products for those with diminished hand function.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:49 PM | Permalink

The Mystique of Multitasking

You may think you're really good at it and getting a lot done but you're not. Just ask the mavens of multitasking, any mother of two or more preschool kids.

Time magazine looks at the science in The Multitasking Generation

there's substantial literature on how the brain handles multitasking. And basically, it doesn't....what's really going on is a rapid toggling among tasks rather than simultaneous processing.
The switching of attention from one task to another, the toggling action, occurs in a region right behind the forehead called Brodmann's Area 10 in the brain's anterior prefrontal cortex
When people try to perform two or more related tasks either at the same time or alternating rapidly between them, errors go way up, and it takes far longer--often double the time or more--to get the jobs done than if they were done sequentially,

The real key to getting things done is attention and focus.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:09 PM | Permalink

Learning the Patient's View

Learning the patient's view Harvard's dramatic change in curriculum is exposing future doctors to what it's like as a patient.

''I really got to see all the complexities of having a disease like cancer -- bouncing from one place to another, and all the logistical and emotional challenges of meeting all these different people and getting bad news from people you don't know," Tang said. ''When I'm a doctor, I'll know that I'm just one piece of the picture and that I have to be aware and working with all those other pieces."

The dean of Harvard Medical School, Joseph Martin, who said he believes that observing acutely ill patients only in hospitals ''is a very biased way of looking at medicine," launched the curriculum changes in 2003. He said he was concerned that students were seeing patients as cases when ''it's all about patients as people. We want to create a different mindset."

Let's hope that this multi-perspectival view encourages a more humane doctoring.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:52 AM | Permalink

Loneliest in their 40s

I actually was not surprised that a recent study found that the loneliest people were in their 40s. Study looks at all the lonely people.

In your 40s, you are still wearing a social mask, doing what other people expect you to do and finding it increasingly empty. It's about 50 when you drop the mask to journey inward.

People aged 50 and older had the lowest levels of loneliness.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:47 AM | Permalink

Sperm Online

When women want a child, some will go to any lengths in searching online for just the right sperm donor, Jennifer Egan writes in the New York Times Magazine Wanted: A Few Good Sperm.

Daniela said
"I would probably choose somebody with a darker skin color so I don't have to slather sunblock on my kid all the time. I want it to be a healthy mix. You know how mixed dogs are always the nicest and the friendliest and the healthiest? If you get a clear race, they have all the problems. Mutts are always the friendly ones, the intelligent ones, the ones who don't bark and have a good character. I want a mutt."

A Jewish woman didn't like the potential Jewish donors she saw online
"Everybody either had glasses, they're balding or their grandmother was diabetic and had heart disease"
so she picked a
"typical Aryan perfect human being,"

Germans apparently are prolific sperm donors. The Aryan bodybuilder the aforementioned Jewish woman chose has fathered 21 children including four sets of twins. The families of these children have their own listserv and are planning a group vacation in 2007. For one mother who's concerned about who will take care of her child if she dies prematurely, the listserv is kin, and perhaps the best place she can find a guardian.

The children, I fear, will be genetically bewildered, lacking a complete sense of their identity.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:44 AM | Permalink

March 18, 2006

Inside Scientology

There are traditional religions that genuinely point to matters of the spirit and how to live a better life. Others masquerade as religion and dupe gullible souls.

Read Inside Scientology in Rolling Stone and decide for yourself.

They assert that 75 million years ago, an evil galactic warlord named Xenu controlled seventy-six planets in this corner of the galaxy, each of which was severely overpopulated. To solve this problem, Xenu rounded up 13.5 trillion beings and then flew them to Earth, where they were dumped into volcanoes around the globe and vaporized with bombs. This scattered their radioactive souls, or thetans, until they were caught in electronic traps set up around the atmosphere and "implanted" with a number of false ideas -- including the concepts of God, Christ and organized religion. Scientologists later learn that many of these entities attached themselves to human beings, where they remain to this day, creating not just the root of all of our emotional and physical problems but the root of all problems of the modern world.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:59 AM | Permalink

March 17, 2006

Tribute to Saint Patrick

Patrick was a hard-bitten man who did not find his life's purpose till his life was half over. He had a temper that could flare dangerously when he perceived an injustice -- not against himself but against another, particularly against someone defenseless. But he had the cheerfulness and good humor that humble people often have. He enjoyed this world and its variety of human beings -- and he didn't take himself too seriously. He was, in spirit, an Irishman.
This former slave had the right instincts to impart to the Irish a New Story, one that made sense of all their old stories and brought them a peace they had never known.

Patrick's gift to the Irish was his Christianity -- the first de-Romanized Christianity in human history, a Christianity without the sociopolitical baggage of the Greco-Roman world, a Christianity that completely inculturated itself into the Irish scene ....transform[ing] Ireland into Something New, something never seen before---a Christian culture, where slavery and human sacrifice became unthinkable, and warfare, though impossible for humans to eradicate, diminished markedly


"How the Irish Saved Civilization (Hinges of History)" (Thomas Cahill)

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:53 PM | Permalink

More on Guinness

Two Irishmen, Patrick & Michael, were adrift in a lifeboat following a dramatic escape from a burning freighter.

While rummaging through the boat's provisions, Patrick stumbled across an old lamp. Secretly hoping that a genie would appear, he rubbed the lamp vigorously

To the amazement of Patrick, a genie came forth. This particular genie, however, stated that he could only deliver one wish, not the standard three. Without giving much thought to the matter, Patrick blurted out, "Make the entire ocean into Guinness Beer!"

The genie clapped his hands with a deafening crash, and immediately the entire sea turned into the finest brew ever sampled by mortals. Simultaneously, the genie vanished. Only the gentle lapping of Guinness on the hull broke the stillness as the two men considered their circumstances.

Michael looked disgustedly at Patrick whose wish had been granted. After a long, tension-filled moment, he spoke: "Nice going Patrick! Now we're going to have to pee in the boat!

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:45 AM | Permalink

March 16, 2006

Official, Guinness is Good for you

Beer companies are forbidden to make any health claims for their products. Researchers are not. So, it's noteworthy that experts from the University of Wisconsin reported at a meeting of the American Heart Association that the anti-oxidants found in stout but not in lager reduce the clotting factor in the blood.

A pint of the black stuff a day may work as well as an aspirin to prevent heart clots that raise the risk of heart attacks.

Guinness good for you - official

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:05 PM | Permalink

March 15, 2006

Righteous Arabs and one Brave Woman

Neo-neocon has two remarkable posts exploring people who help others at great risk to themselves because their humanity demands it.

She calls it When Light Pierces the Darkness. They are the people you instinctively trust.

Moslem rescuers during the Holocaust

Another changed mind. Dr. Wafa Sultan

The following is the statement of hers that led me to believe that she shares the motivation of those Holocaust rescuers who declared that they simply could not do other than what they've done, whatever the personal consequences. Her decision was made some time ago, and now it's more important for that she speak out than to protect her life or even the lives of her relatives:

"I have no fear," she said. "I believe in my message. It is like a million-mile journey, and I believe I have walked the first and hardest 10 miles."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:12 PM | Permalink

NHS horror stories

Everyone has an opinion on the state of health care in this country. Concerns about insurance and access and the cost involved should a catastrophe befall us or the ones we love are on everyone's mind.

I grant that it's a tangled mess with complicated issues too difficult for me to sort out.

Many point to the National health services of Canada and Great Britain as models the US should seek to emulate. For years I did so. But I've read so many stories of care denied that I now have grave doubts about putting the government in charge of something so personal, so important.

Dr Crippen, a pseudonym I presume, is a NHS doctor in England who's now blogging at NHSblogdoc. It's an up close and personal view of what government medical care in England is like. To read just one day is to recoil in horror.

The hospital sent him home. They sent him home on a Friday evening. Home in a worse state that he went in. They sent him home to his eighty year old wife with one of the worst pressure sores I have seen in years. He has now developed intractable diarrhoea, and it coats the pressure sore. He needs round the clock intensive nursing therapy, including being turned regularly. We cannot do this at home. They cannot do it in hospital it seems either. The nurses are too busy eating pizza or pretending to be doctors.

I have no alternative but to send him back in. He bursts into tears. I am getting very stressed about all this. I cannot do my job. I advise the family to see a lawyer and I take a copy of the photo.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:02 PM | Permalink

Blood type diet coke

Virginia Postrel, whose kidney was transplanted into her good friend Sally Satel, in A Generous Adventure reports that both are doing quite well.

(The secret to our tissue compatibility is that our real blood type is Diet Coke.)

And in other good news for people awaiting kidney transplants, a study shows that even less-than-perfect kidneys can still change lives.

Transplanting two kidneys with limited function, instead of a single kidney with full function, may be one way to ease the shortage of donated kidneys in the United States, new research suggests.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:42 PM | Permalink

March 14, 2006

More Red Wine

It's good for your heart and now it seems it's good for your mouth.

Red Wine May Ward Off Gum Disease

It's the anti-oxidants that appear to limit the severity of bacteria-linked gum inflammation.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:27 PM | Permalink

$20B in pension benefits unclaimed.

Some $20 billion in pension benefits lays unclaimed on the books of companies of all sizes.

That statement is from Ellen Bruce, director of the pension counseling program at UMass in an article in the Boston Globe, To draw pension, some must hunt for it.

legitimately earned pension benefits go unclaimed because companies have been bought or sold, because surviving family members are unaware of the benefits due them, or because records go lost or missing and survivors can't muster the resources to collect.

The Pension Action Center is part of the Gerontology Institute at UMass and offers its services free of charge to New England residents.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:45 PM | Permalink

Clearing Clogged Arteries

A new drug Crestor, a statin that lowers cholesterol, has shown it also can REVERSE heart disease by shrinking the blockages that cause most heart attacks.

In a study released yesterday that a meeting of the American College of Cardiology, Steve Nissan who led the study said.

This may be the beginning of a real revolution in the treatment of heart disease. We're not merely slowing down the inexorable progression but truly reversing the disease. It's very exciting."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:01 PM | Permalink

Recover and print old tax returns

If you have to print out old tax returns because you can't find your paper copies, you will probably have problems because you no longer have the old software that created them.

Fear not. Tax Printer maintains collections of all that old software and will turn your old file into a printable PDF.

Only $25, 24 hours, email both ways

via Life Hacker's Recover your tax documents from old software

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:56 PM | Permalink

Organizing Sex in the Womb

From The Science of Sexual Orientation

There are few issues as hotly contested — and as poorly understood — as the question of what makes a person gay or straight. It's not only a political, social, and religious question but also a scientific question, one that might someday have an actual, provable answer.

While biologists look at hormones for answers about human sexuality, other scientists are looking for patterns in statistics. And hard as this is to believe, they have found something they call "the older brother effect."

"The more older brothers a man has, the greater that man's chance of being gay," says Bailey.
If this comes as a shock to you, you’re not alone. But it turns out, it’s one of the most solid findings in this field, demonstrated in study after study.

And the numbers are significant: for every older brother a man has, his chances of being gay increase by one third. Older sisters make no difference, and there's no corresponding effect for lesbians. A first-born son has about a 2 percent chance of being gay, and the numbers rise from there. The theory is it happens in the womb.

"One of the things we've only found out lately is that older brothers affect a boy only if the boy is right-handed," Breedlove said. "If the boy is left-handed, if his brain is organized in a left-handed fashion, it doesn't matter how many older brothers he has, his probability of being gay is just like the rest of the population."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:36 PM | Permalink

March 13, 2006

The Child is Father to the Man

A fascinating thread on Metafilter. "Can you point to a single experience in your life, as a child" which you can define as having contributed to the person you are today?"

The contributions are moving and heartfelt. What struck me the most is how often a single action by a parent or a stranger can affect a whole life. Almost as striking is the number of people who found a home in books when their own was abusive or belittling.

Here are some selected responses:

1. Wayne Arnold let me hold the trumpet he just got from school (I was in kindergarten) and at that moment, I knew that I would have to play. 32 years later, I still play.ntinual process of lifelong learning.
I was taken on a visit to a newspaper office when I was seven. Stood on the floor of the press hall and just knew.
Parents' divorce and alcoholism. I learned these lessons early: I trust few people, never think about the future (in a fatalistic sense, not a live-for-today sense), and err on the side of caution every time. Life is a long series of hazards to be avoided and inescapable heartbreak.
I won't talk about specific instances, but the abuse and neglect I experienced as a child has shaped the adult I am. I'm shy, withdrawn and have an extremely low sense of self-esteem. It has been, and will continue to be, a lifelong struggle to overcome my childhood.
12 years old, just beginning to take those "career aptitude inventory" tests they give you, I share with my father my interest in one day becoming a computer engineer. His response, "How the hell are you ever gonna help anybody doing that!?" leads me to completely devalue my own interests and goals for the next four years or so in favor of what I think other people think I should be doing. Later I get my head on straight and realize he was being a complete jerk, but the damage is still done.
My father had a serious heart attack the day before my twelfth birthday, and was not expected to survive. A very good cardiac surgeon completed the bypass operation on my birthday, and he survived for the next 18 years.

It was definitely an eye-opener about doctors, how important they were and how they sometimes did world-shaking things. I don't know if it's fair to say it's why I became a doctor, but it definitely got me thinking.
When I was 16, our house burned down while our family was away. We had spent the last 6 years building it. We lost essentially all of our possessions. I lost a stamp collection and an Atari 400 that I'd worked an entire summer to earn. My father lost negatives and equipment from a 20-year photography career.

Building the house taught me and my siblings what hard work was, how to face it and thrive in it. Losing it, and all our possessions, taught me that things are just objects, not the center or my life or cause for deep, abiding emotional attachments.
My father's childhood was one of those horrorshow ones about which others have written.

My deepest respect for him is that as a young man, he swore that he would never be like his father. And to his credit, he broke the cycle of violence. That took a lot, I'm sure.
The short and easy answer would be the death of my father when I was five.

The better answer would be the time when I was probably 12, at a church father/son event of some sort, with a neighbor. I won the door prize -- for the third year in a row. It struck me that the contest was rigged, and I was being given some consideration for the fact that my father was dead. I decided to not let on that I had figured this out.

There were many adults I knew as a child who, in a quiet way, tried to help me out in whatever ways they could. I doubt I was ever grateful enough at the time, but as an adult and a father, their efforts, even the feeble and transparent ones, are always on my mind, and I do believe that I have a responsibility to do the same for the kids I know.
We moved every year from the time I was born until I left home. I have no ties to anyone and no old friends. I joined the service, moved some more then went to college and moved twice more for a graduate then a doctorate program. I don't know anyone and have no idea how to maintain a friendship. But, I make a hell of a first impression.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:48 PM | Permalink

Get a better price for your home

If you plan on selling your home soon, here's 10 tips on getting the best return on home improvements.

1. Clean / de-clutter - 973% Average Return on Investment: Remove clutter by storing items in basement, attic or friend’s home. Rent a storage space or sell excess items, if needed. Keep every room very clean during open homes. Do pre-open house cleanliness inspections.

Lighten and brighten - 865% Average Return on Investment: Replace any burnt-out bulbs and use higher wattage bulbs, if possible. Have defective electrical components repaired or replaced. Make sure skylights are clear and keep drapes open during the day.

Yard - 426% Average Return on Investment: Store away personal effects from front yard. Hire gardener or landscaper to trim back the overgrowth and maintain yard. Make sure that your lawn has a healthy green appearance

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:30 AM | Permalink

March 10, 2006

Contempt for Parenthood

What's with this?

Culture of contempt for parenthood

The painful paradox is that while women have liberated themselves from being defined by their biology - the fate of the girl in many African and Asian societies who is not truly a woman until she has given birth - mothers have ended up relegated to the status of constant abject failure in a culture driven by consumerism and workaholism. There is no kudos in being a mum, only in being other things - such as thin, or the boss - despite being a mum. Motherhood is a form of handicap.

Seems to me it's much of the reason behind the baby gap in Europe and elsewhere.

If our greatest biological imperative is the survival of the species, why are we so worried about becoming parents?

Mark Steyn as usual as the best word It's the Demography, Stupid.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:19 PM | Permalink

Harvard Teaches Happiness

The most popular course at Harvard this semester, attracting 855 students, more than introductory Economics, is Positive Psychology, a course teaching happiness, how to have a fulfilling and flourishing life.

Said one junior
From what I've seen and experienced at Harvard, I think we could all use a little self-help like this."

The courses can change how you see yourself and your life, Lopez says. ''A lot of people are just not accustomed to asking, 'What do I have going for me?' and 'What did I do right today?' "

Marty Seligman, the University of Pennsylvania professor who is considered the father of positive psychology for his scholarship and efforts to promote it, said he saw a similar groundswell when he offered a course in 2003. He sees the student enthusiasm as reflecting the tremendous appeal of the positive psychology movement in society at large.

I wrote about Seligman earlier in The Science of Happiness and A River of Joy. It occurs to me as I read about this Harvard class that positive psychology is meeting a deep need that in earlier times was met by philosophy classes or mandatory daily chapel.

We used to take for granted that the goal of a liberal arts education was to learn how to live a deeper, fuller, more meaningful life. Today, philosophy and religion has become so encrusted and encumbered with political and cultural battles that few incoming students can penetrate their vital centers where both religion and philosophy contemplate how best to live one's life.

Positive Psychology, around less than 10 years, is still fresh and new though the lessons are age old.

Sound body, sound mind

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:01 PM | Permalink

March 9, 2006

Wars vs Cars

Since the start of the American Revolution in 1775, about a million Americans have died in wars. Since Henry Ford introduced the Model T in 1913, more than 2.5 million Americans have died on the road.

The comparison is stunning says Marilyn vos Savant.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:33 PM | Permalink

March 8, 2006

Do Love

Frank Porretto says the single most destructive attitude in a marriage is

"Your purpose in my life is to make me happy."

His precepts for a happy marriage?

1. Each should resolve to treat the other as he knows the other would like to be treated.
2. Take pleasure in your ability to please your beloved.
3. Love isn't just something you feel; it's also something you do.

The latter points to what I consider the single greatest misconception about love. Love is not a feeling. Love is a doing.

HT: Gerald Van der Leun, Unbroken Vows

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:57 AM | Permalink

March 7, 2006

A Generous Adventure

Sally Satel wrote about her search for a new kidney

Nowadays, because of dialysis, renal failure is rarely a death sentence, at least early in its course. Instead, it is a jail sentence, in my dark view, anyway. Depending on the technique, the patient spends several afternoons a week in a clinic or undergoes a procedure at home that lasts all night, every night. Dialysis makes all those things you take for granted--the freedom to plan your day, a late night out or a weekend away--forbidding, if not impossible.

A transplant means a good chance of a normal life. My goal was to find a live donor, ideally before dialysis became necessary. A donor can easily manage for a lifetime with one healthy kidney, and live donor organs function somewhat better, and last longer, than organs donated from the bodies of people who have recently died.

In a remarkable act of generosity, Virginia Postrel has donated one of her kidneys to her friend Sally Satel.

As surgeries go, the procedure is safe and straightforward--far more so than people think. A donor can live a completely normal life with one kidney. The recipient is not so lucky, since a foreign organ requires a lifetime of immunosuppressant drugs. But that's a lot better than the alternative.

She blogs about the operation here.

That's true friendship. May many be inspired to do the same.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:58 PM | Permalink

There are two educations

Some quotations from James Truslow Adams, (1878-1949) a Pulitzer Prize winning American historian who coined the term "American Dream"

There are obviously two educations. One should teach us how to make a living and the other to live.

Seek out that particular mental attribute that makes you feel most deeply and vitally alive, along with which comes the inner voice which says, "This is the real me.' and when you have found that attitude, follow it.

The greatest use of life is to spend it on something that will outlast it.

The greatest discovery of my generation is that man can alter his life simply by altering his attitude of mind.

Friendship is the hardest thing in the world to explain. It's not something you learn in school. But if you haven't learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven't learned anything.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:46 AM | Permalink

"Queen Bee" syndrome

There is growing evidence that female mammals with very high degrees of testosterone are more likely to give birth to males.

TOUGH, confident females may be more likely to give birth to sons than women with less pushy personalities, researchers have found.
The discovery of the “queen bee” syndrome in mammals is the latest in a growing body of work that challenges the traditional view that a baby’s sex is determined by chance.
Previous research by Grant has found that men with masculine jobs — police officers, soldiers and butchers — are more likely to produce girls.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:35 AM | Permalink

Eat Salmon and Be More Agreeable

Once again, I can tout the benefits of the splendid salmon. (Image below from Jacob Joe, a Coast Salish artist and carver)


Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh have found that omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon and other fish improve your mood and make you more agreeable.

We already know omega 3 fatty acids are good for your heart, your brain and your skin.

Lower levels of omega-3 have been linked to

major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, substance abuse and attention-deficit disorder," Sarah Conklin, a postdoctoral scholar with the psychiatry department's Cardiovascular Behavioral Medicine Program, said in prepared statement.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:29 AM | Permalink

March 4, 2006

Mixed Twins

 Fraternal Twins, Black, White-1

Kian and Remee, one white, one black, both twin sisters born to mixed race parents. The odds, experts say, are about a million to one.

"It was a shock when I realized that my twins were two different colors," Kylie Hodgson, 19, told London's Daily Mail. "But it doesn't matter to us — they are just our two gorgeous little girls."

Snopes has the full story.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:59 PM | Permalink

The Case for Manliness

From the Wall St Journal, a Harvard sage makes the case for manliness. Calling All Hombres. He's right when he says Larry Summers should have defended himself better. His

capitulation to those he offended (when he said women might be biologically less inclined to succeed in the hard sciences) is not simply a craven kowtow to political correctness, but proof, also, of a character flaw. Indeed, Mr. Mansfield continued with a mischievous smile, "He has apologized so much that he looks unmanly."

Mr. Mansfield's contention that women and men are not the same is now widely supported by social scientists. The core of his definition of manliness--"confidence in a risky situation"--is not so far from that of biologists and sociologists, who find men to be more abstract in their thinking and aggressive in their behavior than women, who are more contextual in their thinking and conciliatory in their behavior.
At a speech to students a couple of years ago, he observed that the only "gentlemen" at Harvard were conservatives and gay men. Conservatives, he believes, realize something's been lost in the recent social revolution; and gay men "have a certain greater awareness and perspicacity than other men."

Of course, feminists have not been happy with him, but he's had his own way of dealing with them.

Nine years ago, when Mr. Mansfield offered his first seminar on manliness, I barely managed to score a seat in the small classroom. So many campus feminists had crowded in that students were forced to sit on the floor. These women saw their opportunity, finally, to have it out with the conservative bogeyman.

But Mr. Mansfield got the best of them. He proceeded to talk for much of the next two hours about the ancient Greek notion of thumos, or spiritedness, an idea he believes is the precursor of modern-day manliness. The feminists were bored silly--almost none returned the following week.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:22 AM | Permalink

March 3, 2006

Hard Marriages Can Harden Arteries

The University of Utah has released a study that shows that hardening of the coronary arteries is more likely in wives when their husbands express hostility during marital arguments. When women exhibit dominant or controlling behavior was related to atherosclerosis in husbands.

Smith summarizes: “A low-quality relationship is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:56 PM | Permalink

Thinking about Living Together?

Janice Shaw Crouse exposes Four Myths About Living Together Without Marriage.

A college professor described a survey that he conducted over a period of years in his marriage classes. He asked guys who were living with a girl, point blank, “Are you going to marry the girl that you’re living with?” The overwhelming response, he reports, was “NO!” When he asked the girls if they were going to marry the guy they were living with, their response was, “Oh, yes; we love each other and we are learning how to be together.”

Bad for both, but especially bad for women.

Via Joe Katzman who calls it The Long Pretending

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:16 PM | Permalink

Empty stomach

Your best learning may be done on an empty stomach.

Researchers at the Yale School of Medicine have found evidence that that learning and memory are stimulated by a gut hormone, ghrelin, which is highest when your stomach is empty.

Is the growing obesity problem in the country connected to the growing stupidity problem? Seems so.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:27 PM | Permalink


When you hit your funny bone, you say "Ouch" or swear because it somehow relieves the pain.

When someone else sneezes, you say "Gesundheit" or 'God bless you'.

What do you say when someone else hits their funny bone on knee or elbow?

"Uffda" (OOF-dah) is a Swedish onomatopoetic word, a sympathetic exclamation when somebody else is in pain.

According to Howard Reingold in "They Have a Word for It , it combines "Ouch for you" and "Oh, I'm sorry you hurt yourself."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:15 PM | Permalink

March 2, 2006

What Women Want in Marriage

After a survey of more than 5000 couples, two sociologists report

"Women today expect more help around the home and more emotional engagement from their husbands," Wilcox says. "But they still want their husbands to be providers who give them financial security and freedom."

It's having your cake and eating it too.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:28 PM | Permalink

Disgraceful firing

Bernard Chippie was fired because took time off to be with his wife who was dying from brain cancer.

Earlier, Chippie said he notified his employer on Feb. 13 that he would not be able to finish his weekly route because he had just learned his wife had between two days and a week to live. He went to Kathleen Chippie's bedside at a hospice that day.

"There was never a question of where I needed to be," Chippie said.

He said that three days later, his boss demanded that he show up at work the next day. He said he was fired when he said he couldn't.

Three days after that, Kathleen Chippie died at the age of 56.

In 13 years, he had never taken a full week of vacation from the Rug Doctor.

The company's behavior is disgraceful.

While the company did an about-face and offered him his job back, it was probably to avoid a law suit.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:40 PM | Permalink

Couple Overcome

If you're going to have sex in a car, don't turn on the engine to warm it up particularly in a closed garage.

Carbon monoxide makes you dizzy, sleepy and then it's over.

Couple found dead in car in garage still embracing.

Condolences to the families.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:34 PM | Permalink

Tom McMahon's life lessons

Caring for a son who suffered a brain injury and who is unable to walk, talk or feed himself, Tom McMahon learned many things, a few of which are:

  • Some run away
  • Big companies don't help
  • Just muddle through can be the best advice
  • Everyone wants to help save the Earth, but nobody wants to help Mom do the dishes

Tom shows us what it is to be a man, to do his duty, to learn that everyone has a story and his is not the worst.

He reminds me of what Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote, "If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we would find in each man's life a sorrow and a suffering enough to disarm all hostility.

You don't want to miss What I have learned in 15 years by Tom McMahon, and once you look around, you'll want to bookmark his blog.

Very funny and sometimes profound, Tom doesn't rant and rage. He wears well that Tom.

  Tom Mcmahon

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:18 AM | Permalink

Drug resistant killer bugs

The bugs are evolving faster than we are and faster than the drugs we develop to fit them. That's not good news.

Athletes with infected scrapes that won't go away. Hundreds of soldiers returning from Iraq with wound infections that don't respond to most antibiotics. Often deadly pneumonias. Ninety-thousand patients who die in hospitals every year. That's the toll in the U.S. from germs that are resistant to existing medicines.

Forbes has more on The Most Dangerous Bacteria

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:59 AM | Permalink

World of Sham

If we do not rise to the challenge of our unique capacity to shape our lives, to seek the kinds of growth that we find individually fulfilling, then we can have no security: we will live in a world of sham, in which our selves are determined by the will of others, in which we will be constantly buffeted and increasingly isolated by the changes round us."

Nena O'Neil Author and Anthropologist

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:54 AM | Permalink