July 31, 2006

Is Longer Better?

Another wonderful post from the Doctor Is In wherein he ruminates on the endless pursuit of a longer life.

For we who live longer in such an idyllic world may not live better: we may indeed live far worse. Should we somehow master these illnesses which cripple us in our old age, and thereby live beyond our years, will we then encounter new, even more frightening illnesses and disabilities? And what of the spirit? Will a man who lives longer thereby have a longer opportunity to do good, or rather to do evil? Will longevity increase our wisdom, or augment our depravity? Will we, like Dorian Gray, awake to find our ageless beauty but a shell for our monstrous souls?
Like all, I trust, I hope to live life long, and seek a journey lived in good health and sound mind. But even more–far more indeed–do I desire that those days yet remaining–be they long or short–be rich in purpose, wise in time spent, and graced by love.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:34 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

Life Lessons from Tony Bennett

Mitch Albom interviewed Tony Bennett in this week's Parade magazine  to find out what makes him so satisfied.

1. He loves what he does.
"A certain contentment has settled over me."

2. He is not a "things" person.
He doesn't own a car, a boat, nor a house.
"I'm one a perpetual vacation.  I stay in a perpetual creative zone at all times."

3. He's held firm to his ideals.
"When you do something greedily, you might make a lot of money, but in no way makes you happy.  When you do something well and with care...when you hit the pillow at night, you can say, 'At least I did it right.'"

4. He never forgets where he came from.
"Life is a gift, a magnificent gift."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:43 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

July 30, 2006

Lessons from Felix

Felix Dennis, a publishing tycoon, is filthy rich.  What  with about $400m -$900m in net worth, five homes, three estates, private jets and so on, he's written a book saying If You Want to be Rich, First Stop Being So Frightened. 

Making money was, and still is, fun, but at one time it wreaked chaos upon my private life. It consumed my waking hours. It led me into a lifestyle of narcotics, high-class whores, drink and consolatory debauchery. As a philosopher might have put it, all the usual dreary afflictions of the seeker after wealth.
After a lifetime of making money and observing better men and women than me fall by the wayside, I am convinced that fear of failing in the eyes of the world is the single biggest impediment to amassing wealth. Trust me on this.

Becoming rich does not guarantee happiness. In fact, it is almost certain to impose the opposite condition — if not from the stresses and strains of protecting it, then from the guilt that inevitably accompanies its arrival.

If I had my time again, I would dedicate myself to making just enough to live comfortably (say £30m or £40m) as quickly as I could, hopefully by the time I was 35. I would then cash out immediately and retire to write poetry and plant trees.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:01 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Umpteenth Reason to Take Fish Oil

Overweight people lose more weight faster if they do light exercise and take fish oil, rich in Omega 3 fatty acids. 

Fishy answer to weight loss

We were very surprised to see it was so effective, especially since these people were still eating whatever they wanted," said researcher Alison Hill.

"It's pretty exciting because this implies the results would be even better if you did control diet and exercised more heavily."

Scientists are still unsure exactly how Omega 3 works but they believe it may improve a person's ability to burn fat.

Splendid salmon or fish oil rich in Omega 3 fatty acids may fight breast cancer,  helps prevent airway constriction in asthma and wards off dementia and helps with dry eye syndrome.  Omega 3 fatty acids are good for your heart, your brain and your skin and make you more agreeable.  Some researchers suspect Omega 3 fatty acids can even can lower the murder rate.

One doctor gives a partial list of diseases that may be prevented or ameliorated with Omega 3 fatty acids:

  • Coronary heart disease and stroke;
  • Essential fatty acid deficiency in infancy (retinal and brain development);
  • Autoimmune disorders (e.g., lupus and nephropathy);
  • Crohn disease;
  • Cancers of the breast, colon, and prostate;
  • Mild hypertension; and
  • Rheumatoid arthritis.

I  think I need a whole new category on Omega 3.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:18 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

A Nation of Wimps

Psychology Today.

No one doubts that there are significant economic forces pushing parents to invest so heavily in their children's outcome from an early age. But taking all the discomfort, disappointment and even the play out of development, especially while increasing pressure for success, turns out to be misguided by just about 180 degrees. With few challenges all their own, kids are unable to forge their creative adaptations to the normal vicissitudes of life. That not only makes them risk-averse, it makes them psychologically fragile, riddled with anxiety. In the process they're robbed of identity, meaning and a sense of accomplishment, to say nothing of a shot at real happiness. Forget, too, about perseverance, not simply a moral virtue but a necessary life skill. These turn out to be the spreading psychic fault lines of 21st-century youth. Whether we want to or not, we're on our way to creating a nation of wimps
A small percentage of children seem almost invulnerable to anxiety from the start. But the overwhelming majority of kids are somewhere in between. For them, overparenting can program the nervous system to create lifelong vulnerability to anxiety and depression.

There is in these studies a lesson for all parents. Those who allow their kids to find a way to deal with life's day-to-day stresses by themselves are helping them develop resilience and coping strategies.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:57 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

How to free yourself from an alligator

Sometimes watching television can save your life. 

Corey Workman, 16,  was throwing sticks and rocks into a lake in a remote area of Florida when a 6 to 8 ft alligator jumped out of the water, grabbed his left foot and dragged him into the lake.

Corey struggled with the gator but couldn't get free until he remembered something he saw on the Discovery channel about what to do if you're attacked by an alligator.

With his thumb, he poked the alligator in the eye until the gator released him.

"If he was ever bitten by a shark, he (learned) to put his hand in its gills and if he was ever attacked by a gator, to take his thumb and poke his thumb all the way in his eye and the gator released him," mother Elisa Badger said. "Thank God he was able to maintain his composure and not panic. He knew exactly what to do."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:25 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

Black Cohosh

If you are one of those women or know of one who is using natural remedies to take care of hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause, beware. 

In Briain, an official alert has been issued about Black cohosh or any products containing it.  Black cohosh has been implicated in a rare, but serious liver disorder.

Millions of women alerted to danger of 'HRT' herb.

“If women like the herb and are happy to take it and have experienced no adverse reaction then it is fine for them to keep doing so. But anyone with symptoms of possible liver disorder should seek medical advice.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:17 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

July 28, 2006

Political Correctness is Communist Propaganda Writ Small

Dr. Theodore Dalrymple observed that political correctness engenders evil because of "the violence that it does to people's souls by forcing them to say or imply what they do not believe, but must not question."

Political correctness is communist propaganda writ small.  In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, nor to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better.  When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity.  To assent to obvious lies is to co-operate with evil, and in some small way to become evil oneself. One's standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control. I think if you examine political correctness, it has the same effect and is intended to.     

Our Culture What's Left of It

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:25 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

July 27, 2006

Post-its for your computer

Somewhere I read a tip that said Post-its were perfect for cleaning your laptop keyboard.

I tried it and it's great. It's thin and flexible and, unlike a paper clip, it won't cause any damage.  The sticky part picks up all the crumbs and hair you could see but couldn't get at.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:43 AM | Permalink

Medieval Book of Psalms Unearthed.

For those of us who sometimes see signs and wonders, there is the medieval book of psalms unearthed in an Irish bog.

Said Pat Wallace, director of the National Museum of Ireland,

"There's two sets of odds that make this discovery really way out. First of all, it's unlikely that something this fragile could survive buried in a bog at all, and then for it to be unearthed and spotted before it was destroyed is incalculably more amazing."
"In my wildest hopes, I could only have dreamed of a discovery as fragile and rare as this. It testifies to the incredible richness of the Early Christian civilization of this island and to the greatness of ancient Ireland."

Even more astonishing at this very moment in time is that the book was found open to Psalm 83 which is a prayer for the overthrow of nations that would destroy Israel.

"They say, "Come, let us destroy them that they be no more a people,
And that the name Israel be remembered no more.
"Let them be disgraced and terrified forever,
And may they be put to shame and perish."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:21 AM | Permalink

Most admired profession

The profession with the greatest prestige is ....Firefighting. 

Doctors second; nurses, third.

Business executives. stockbrokers and real estate agents vie for the bottom.

Results from the Harris Poll.

We admire firefighters for their bravery and their duty to risk their lives to save everyone imperiled; doctors and nurses for their care when we are the most vulnerable.  We know they are not looking to make money from us, but see us as the pitiable human creatures we are  - and help us anyway.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:03 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

Sad, sad eyes

When you read Bernando, your heart will break for him .

via Sheila O'Malley.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:16 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

July 26, 2006

Brooke Astor and Elder Abuse

Brooke Astor, now 104, inherited millions from her husband, Vincent Astor whose father died in the sinking of the Titanic.

Astor  is a noted philanthropist, giving away millions to the New York Public Library, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Carnegie Hall and the Museum of Natural History as well as many smaller projects and for which she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1998.

No matter how rich, no one is immune from the perils of old age and incapacity.  Her legal guardian is her son from her first marriage, Anthony Marshall, 82, a Broadway producer. 

Her grandson, Philip Marshall, has filed papers in court alleging "elder abuse" and requesting that his father Anthony Marshall be moved as Brooke Astor's guardian.

Despite the $2.3 million Anthony Marshall pays himself yearly as his mother's guardian, he cut off Astor's access to expensive medication, reduced her doctors' visits and ordered her staff not to take her to an emergency room or call 911 without contacting him first. 

Relative says N.Y. philanthropist abused.

Philanthropist Brooke Astor, the 104-year-old society queen who gave away nearly $200 million to city charities, is now sleeping on a filthy couch in torn nightgowns while her son withholds money and proper medical care, her grandson charged in court papers.

The papers also claim that Astor has been denied many of the staples of her high-society life. Her Estee Lauder face creams were replaced with petroleum jelly and her French chef was fired, they said. Nurses had to use their own money to purchase hair bonnets and socks for Astor, the papers say.

It is appalling how some children treat their aging parents.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:50 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Tricks to teach your body

Here are some terrific tips you should know about.

18 tricks to teach your body

1. If your throat tickles, scratch your ear.

4. If you cough just as you are getting an injection, you will feel no pain.

5. Sinus pressure?  Alternately thrust your tongue against the roof of your mouth, then press between your eyebrows with one finger.

7. Toothache?  Rub ice on the v-shaped area between your thumb and index finger.

13. Ice cream headache? Press your tongue flat against the roof of your mouth.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:37 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Ten Stages of Breast Cancer

Katie Paine, a serial entrepreneur, battled and survived breast cancer.

From her blog, True Survivor, comes The Ten Stages of Breast Cancer

1. Denial
2. Fear
3. Information addiction
4. Decision shock coupled with analysis paralysis
5. Organizational compulsion
6. Fear of baldness
7. Everything is just peachy
8. You survived, boo hoo
9. I'm a survivor, now how can I give back
10. The fear is still there, but there's a lock on the door

This list doesn't do justice to all that she has to say.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:28 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Defiant Birth

When Elizabeth Schiltz, an Associate Professor of Law at the St. Thomas School of Law in Minneapolis learned from a pre-natal screening that her baby showed the presence of Down's Syndrome, she choose to continue the pregnancy.

She's been called 'irresponsible', a 'sinner', even a 'genetic outlaw'.

From Businessweek, Confessions of a 'Genetic Outlaw'.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:59 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

Bird Flu Vaccine

GlaxoSmithKline reports a bird flu 'breakthrough'. 

Glaxo believes that it has developed a vaccine effective against the H5N1 bird flu virus that's effective in small doses.  Governments can order the vaccine for stockpiling in early 2007.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:53 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

July 25, 2006

Draining Men's Brains

From the BBC

Sharing a bed with someone could temporarily reduce your brain power - at least if you are a man - Austrian scientists suggest.

When men spend the night with a bed mate their sleep is disturbed, whether they make love or not, and this impairs their mental ability the next day.

The lack of sleep also increases a man's stress hormone levels.

According to the New Scientist study, women who share a bed fare better because they sleep more deeply.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:40 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

What We Take for Granted

The first chapter of Bill Whittle's book is online,

The Web of Trust.

How many guys were watching me on radar, keeping me separated from far, far better men and women who do this in their sleep up there? How many people did it take to make the instruments, to mine the silica for the glass, to tap the rubber for the wires? Who laid the asphalt on the runways, who built the filaments in the approach strobes, and who attached the ceramic tips to my spark plugs? And how many millions of other unseen connections had to be made to allow me to do, routinely, and on a middle-class salary, what billions of dead men and women would have given a lifetime to taste – just once. In those few minutes I just told you of, I stood on the shoulders of millions of my brothers and sisters, not the least of which were two sons of a preacher from Dayton, Ohio – now long dead but with me in spirit every day. I was atop a pyramid of dedication, hard work, ingenuity and progress, following rules written in the blood of the stupid and the brave and the unlucky.

I had tossed myself a mile into the air and landed safe in this Web of Trust.
And it is deeper than even that. It is not just the unseen heroes. It is the unseen, anonymous people that make this whole thing work. Right at this exact instant, there are men and women making sure that you have clean, safe water. That your aspirin is safe, and works as advertised. That you can pick up a can of food in any store in the country and eat whatever is inside it without a second’s worry about its danger. Armies of people, millions of people, get up and go to work every day to make sure that all of the transparent, unnoticed and unsung strands in this Web of Trust function.

And even when you are all alone, in the wild, as far from the Web of Civilization as you can possible be, it is still there with you: in a body free from the parasites and diseases that have killed legions unimaginable, in a body free from pain, from the deformity of unset broken bones, in titanium hips and pacemakers we give not a second thought to. It is there in the mental bridge, the bridge only the designer sees as he looks across a chasm, before the first rivet is driven. Civilization is in our hearts when we stand around a water cooler with people from all across the globe: ancient enemies, perhaps…people our ancestors have fought with for centuries and millennia, and who we now replay Saturday Night Live routines for before heading back to our cubicles to refine a little more order out of the chaos.

So mark these words, for this is not something beyond our control:

Civilizations fall because people bitch and complain when the electricity is off for fifteen minutes, and never give a thought to the fact that
it has been on for their entire lives.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:58 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

PKG, the on-off switch for pain

Columbia University Researchers Discover On-Off Switch for Chronic Pain.

The protein in nerve cells that sends the message of pain to the spinal column is called protein kinase G (PKG).

"We're very optimistic that this discovery and our continued research will ultimately lead to a novel approach to pain relief for the millions suffering from chronic pain," said Dr. Ambron.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:31 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

Will pill cure Alzheimer's?

Human drug trials start next week for a once-a-day pill that may cure Alzheimer's. 

New hope from Down Under.

Many scientists accept amyloid is a major cause of Alzheimer's as the protein is thought to cause the brain to "rust".

Prof Fink said the drug could significantly prevent Alzheimer's developing or delay the on-set of the brain disease for many years.

Early clinical testing has confirmed the drug is fast-acting. Levels of amyloid dropped by 60 per cent within 24 hours of a single dose.

It found also that PBT2 suppresses the impairment of memory function.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:19 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

July 24, 2006

Fatal Overdoses

There are more fatal overdoses on prescription pain killers than either cocaine or heroin.

Drugs called "opioids" are frequently prescribed to relieve pain, but if abused they can kill. Over the past 15 years, sales of opioid pain killers, including oxycodone, hydrocodone, methadone and fentanyl, have increased, and deaths from these drugs have increased in parallel.

In 2002, over 16,000 people died in the USA as a result of drug overdoses, with most deaths related to opioids, heroin, and cocaine. Opioids surpassed both cocaine and heroin in extent of involvement in these drug overdoses between 1999 and 2002.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:05 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Let them keep on truckin

If your older parents insist on driving and they still can safely, it's a good thing because they are far less likely to enter a nursing home or an assisted living center.

The American Journal of Public Health published the results of a study by researchers at John Hopkins based on extensive interviews over 10 years.

Giving Up Driving May be Express Lane to Long-Term Care

"The independence that accompanies a driver's license and car has long been linked anecdotally to a better quality of life for seniors."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:11 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

July 21, 2006

Are We There Yet?

A professor of mathematics in the U.K. has worked out an equation to calculate how long into a car journey it takes a child to ask: "Are we nearly there yet?"

I'll let the Scotsman deliver the equation.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:57 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

The pressure of 'death with dignity'

How Faith Saved the Atheist  or how to handle the pressure of 'death with dignity'.

On Father's Day, we packed my father's hospital room: his wife, daughters, grandchildren, each of us regaling him with our successes large and small.

"Life's not so bad, after all," the atheist said. I wanted to go back to ICU, find Dr. Death, drag her to my father's room and say: "This is the life you wanted to end." But if I'm really to be a person of faith, I'll have to tackle forgiveness.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:42 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Parents Shape the Romantic Lives of Their Kids.

How parents interact with their kids has a great deal of influence of the quality of their children's future romantic lives, even more than their peers!

Reports Sue Shellenbarger in the Wall Street Journal

Having divorced parents has been linked in research by Paul Amato, a Pennsylvania State University sociology professor, and others to a 50% to 100% higher probability of divorce among children. Now, plying observational techniques previously used only to study adult marriages, scientists have been able to tease out the mechanisms by which specific parental behaviors affect kids. These studies suggest it is how parents relate to their children that has the most direct impact, regardless of the marital bliss -- or lack of it -- in the parents' marriages.

The large influence of the parent-child interactions on a child's romantic relationships "surprises people constantly," says W. Andrew Collins, a professor in the University of Minnesota's Institute of Child Development, and lead researcher on a 30-year study of the subject. Although peers and other factors play a role, "where the rubber really meets the road" in shaping future relationships "is t
he way the parent treats the child and relates with the child. That's the laboratory in which the child learns how to relate lovingly with other people."

Among the most influential factors: whether parents teach kids to resolve conflicts well; whether they're warm and nurturing; whether they show interest in teens' activities and set good limits and appropriate parent-child role boundaries; and whether they avoid fostering feelings of rejection in their kids.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:12 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Same-sex Divorce?

The first of the same-sex marriages in Massachusetts is breaking up.

Julie and Hilary Goodridge were together for 2 decades before marrying officially in the Bay State.  Now they are concerned most about their daughter Annie, 10.

After 2 years, same-sex marriage icons, plaintiffs in the landmark case,  split up

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:05 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Desperate Housewives, Sexy Contractors

It seems as if contractors are becoming as highly sexualized as the UPS driver and why not if they're as cute?

From the Home & Garden section in The New York Times comes The Allure of the Tool Belt

I can’t tell you how many times when I hear somebody give a recommendation for a contractor it inevitably ends with the four words, ‘And he’s really cute.’ ”

Which only makes sense, he added. “It’s all very intimate. You’re making plans for how you are going to live your life with this person in enormous detail. And let’s face it, they take off their shirts a lot and that doesn’t hurt.”

And the contractor-client affairs?

“Nobody knows,” Mr. Hay said. “The contractor isn’t going to tell because the husband is writing the check, the wife isn’t going to tell, and you get a better job because she’s providing a fringe benefit. Everybody wins.”

Clients and contractors agree that the attraction between them is generally about more than just sex. It seems to stem largely from the emotional importance of the home to the client, and from the contractor’s ability to listen to her...The client has finally found that ideal — the heterosexual man who will go shopping with her.

A fabulous article with many home truths.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:35 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

July 18, 2006

Money stories

The best way to teach your children about money is to tell family stories that illustrate the money lessons you think are most important.

Jonathan Clements in the Wall St Journal says telling stories really worked in his family.  Every one of his siblings is incredibly careful about money because they heard the stories of the maternal grandfather who inherited millions of dollars and how he spent it all, spending his last days working as a part-time gardener to pay the bills.

We all have parents or grandparents who lived through the Depression and they can tell us a few stories and they probably have.

Clements has some pointers.

Choose your stories carefully and embellish them a bit.
Set a good example
Frequent short stories beat long discussions

The Best Way to Teach Kids About Money (subscribers only)

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:31 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Addiction Transfer

A lot of people over the past five years have undergone weight-loss surgery.  What researchers are starting to notice is that many are acquiring new compulsive disorders like alcoholism, gambling addiction or compulsive shopping.

The New Science of Addiction (WSJ subscriber firewall)

The behavior has long been explained as a psychological phenomenon as patients seek new strategies for filling an inner void. But as substance-abuse experts learn to decode the brain's addiction pathways, some researchers are coming to believe that swapping behaviors may have a neurological basis.

So now the growing focus at the National Institute on Drug Abuse is to find new drugs that could treat craving and addictive behavior,

Bupropian, marketed by GlaxoSmithKline as the antidepressant Wellbutrin and the smoking-cessation drug Zyban, is currently being studied as a treatment for gambling, obesity, nicotine dependence and alcoholism. And Rimonabant, made by Sanofi-Aventis is being reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration as a treatment for obesity and associated health problems, but it is also being studied as a treatment for alcoholism.


Bankole Johnson, chairman of the department of psychiatric medicine at the University of Virginia, says gastric-bypass surgery provides a mechanical solution that leaves the underlying neurobiological problem untreated. "It's like a thirst," says Dr. Johnson. If you're thirsty -- and there's no water -- you'll drink lemonade."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:49 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Pre-diabetic and risk of Alzheimer's

If you have been told that you are pre-diabetic and there are 41 million of you, you will not be pleased to learn that you have an increased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.

Alzheimer's May Be Tied to Blood Sugar.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:37 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

July 15, 2006

Colossal Achievement and Born American

Gutzon Borglum was 60 years old when he began to carve Mount Rushmore. 

Fourteen years later he died and his son completed the finishing touches on his 'colossal achievement'  - four Presidential portraits of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt carved in granite.  Another

A lot of people shrink from Mt. Rushmore.  They say it's too big, too schmaltzy.  It's not politically or environmentally correct. 

They don't experience the "little frisson of excitement and uncomplicated patriotism" that Judith Dobryznski  did and writes about  in A Monumental Achievement  (Wall St Journal, subscribers only)

Borglum consented only to do something bigger. He wanted to create a monument to the American philosophy, a celebration of the American spirit. That, he said, could be done only by portraying the nation's greatest presidents, picked by him.

Granite is a blunt medium, not given to nuance. Yet these portraits do seem to capture the essence of each man.

Less than a year before he died, Borglum talked of the pleasure he experienced at Rushmore. "This is the work I love most, this intimate contact with the four men," he told the New York Times in August 1940. "As I became engrossed in the features and personalities of each man, I felt myself growing in stature, just as they did when their characters grew and developed."

Borglum believed in the bigness of America -- in growth, dreams, abilities.

Peter Schramm, an Hungarian immigrant who now teaches American history to Americans at Ashland University, describes something similar to Borglum's intimacy with these men as he encounters the real words  and meaning of the founding fathers.   

Why had I put all of this effort into studying so much of European history and politics? There was nothing wrong with it, in itself. But these most important questions - What is freedom? What is justice? What is equality?  -these were not answered in the history books I had been devouring. These were questions tackled by men like Jefferson, Madison, Washington and Lincoln and contemplated before by men like Plato, Aristotle, Locke, and many others. This is where I could get a true education. So I started anew.
It was here that I began to see what it meant to try to establish a Novus Ordo Seclorum. I began to see that all governments previous to ours had been established on accident and force, and now these American Founders insisted on establishing one on universal principles applicable to all men at all times, one established on reflection and choice. In America, human beings could prove to the world that they had the capacity to govern themselves. The Founders, according to Lincoln, proclaimed equality and freedom to "the whole world of men." It was here that I came to understand what Lincoln meant by the Declaration of Independence being the "electric cord" that linked all of us together, as though we were "blood of the blood, and flesh of the flesh, of the men who wrote that Declaration." This is what it meant to be an American, and it wasn't all that far from being a man.

His piece  Born American, but in the Wrong Place is a stellar piece of writing and a view of America you have not heard before.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:00 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Christians in China

Something I came across while looking for something else.  There are 82 million Christians in China! 

"Jesus in Beijing: How Christianity Is Transforming China and Changing the Global Balance of Power" (David Aikman)

David Aikma, the author, in an interview.

I would like readers of Jesus in Beijing to grasp how Christianity, though assumed by many in the West to be outmoded and irrelevant to modern life, is regarded by many Chinese as the absolute key to a successful, peaceful, powerful modern China in the future.

But another factor has been a very open-minded approach by many Chinese intellectuals into such phenomena as the remarkable historical primacy of Western civilization around the world. How could this happen? What were the core principles of Western civilization that enabled it, time and again, to correct itself rather than plunge into cyclical and eventually permanent decline?
Many concluded that it was Christian ethics and the dynamism of a faith based on a profound hope in the future and a belief that history was not cyclical, as Buddhism and even Confucianism proclaimed, but linear, and with a specific end goal.

Finally, Christians in the fine and performing arts have shown that there is a way out from the often-nihilistic cycle of modernism and postmodernism. T
his can be very attractive to artists who would prefer a hope-filled universe in which to develop their creative skills.

Another quote from the book

At first, we thought [the power of the West] was because you had more powerful guns than we had. Then we thought it was because you had the best political system. Next we focused on your economic system. But in the past twenty years, we have realized that the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:48 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

July 14, 2006

When allergies will be history

In five years, allergies will be history.

Taking a completely new approach, researchers are developing drugs to prevent allergens from entering the body in the first place.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:04 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Celebrity Takedown

Have you ever wondered about those celebrity global ambassadors? 

Do they really do any good besides attracting reporters and photographers?  Does it change them for the better? 

Joshua Trevino  accompanied Ashley Judd on a Youth Aids tour
to South Africa and tells all in Whom the gods would destroy....

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:26 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

July 12, 2006

Happiness Roundup

A fine and exhaustive piece on the positive psychology movement can be found in this week's New York magazine. Some Dark Thoughts on Happiness or do New Yorkers want to be happy.

Writer Jennifer Senior interviews a number of psychologists and researchers including Martin Seligman who kicked the whole positive psychology movement.

   Smiley Art

She reports on the number of colleges now offering courses in positive psychology after the immense appeal of the course offered at an instructor at Harvard, Tal Ben-Shahar. Naturally, when Harvard Teaches Happiness, a lot of people pay attention.

While I read Stumbling on Happiness by Harvard professor Daniel Gilbert, I never got around to posting anything on it. What follows in a nutshell is all you need to know about it, thanks to Jennifer Senior. Me, I preferred by far Jonathan Haidt's book, The Happiness Hypothesis.

And no matter where they live, human beings are terrible predictors of what will make them happy. If Stumbling on Happiness tells us anything, it’s this. “Imagination,” says Gilbert, “is the poor man’s wormhole.” Our imagination has an odd knack for Photoshopping things in and airbrushing things out, which is why we think that getting back together with our exes is a good idea; it also tends to mistake our present feelings for future ones, which is why, when we decide to marry the right person, we find it unthinkable we’ll ever be tempted to sleep with anyone else.

At the same time, we forget that our imagination has a miraculous ability to rationalize its way out of grim situations—which is why we’re more likely to take a positive view of things we did than things we didn’t (so go ahead and ask that woman to marry you), more comfortable with decisions we can’t reverse than ones we can, and more apt to make the best of a terrible situation than a merely annoying one.

Because our imaginations are limited, we can be disappointed by the things we covet most. But it also means—and this is the gorgeous part—that we’re much more likely to cope well with situations we never thought we’d be able to survive. Perhaps the most profound study Gilbert cites is about the disabled, showing that those who are permanently injured say they’d be willing to pay far less to undo their injuries than able-bodied people say they’d pay to prevent them. It’s possible, as Gilbert notes, that they may even find some silver lining in their experiences, as when the late Christopher Reeve memorably said, “I didn’t appreciate others nearly as much as I do now.”

I've posted a lot about The Science of Happiness because I believe we have a Moral Obligation to be Happy to make the world a better place.

Forget the Market for Zombies. We know that Angry/negative people are bad for your brain. We don't want to be Soul Less.

So Who's Happy? People who are Hungry for Meaning. People who want to swim in a River of Joy, choose the Uphill Climb, sing at the Church of the Divine Road Trip, and Go Straight to the Good in Everything. They want to Look to the Good Things, and Find What We Love.

Even if they're just An Ordinary Guy, they learn Lessons from a Billionaire and look at their Wealth in 3-D. They know When Just Enough Is All Your Need and what their First Business is and they look at Investing in their Net Worth as Human Beings.

They don't need a Quaker Powerpoint to know What Really Matters , that Meaning not gadgets brings happiness, so does embracing the Five Things We Cannot Change. They Love More, Have Less.

They can transform an horrific act by Teaching Kindness. They believe in Paying It Forward. They hope some day to experience a luminous Moment of Grace Above all, they know it's Empathy and the Golden Rule.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:11 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

July 11, 2006

Circumcision to fight AIDS

Now this is surprising.

Circumcision may stop millions of HIV deaths

Circumcising men routinely across Africa could prevent millions of deaths from AIDS, World Health Organization researchers and colleagues reported Monday.

They analyzed data from trials that showed men who had been circumcised had a significantly lower risk of infection with the AIDS virus, and calculated that if all men were circumcised over the next 10 years, some two million new infections and around 300,000 deaths could be avoided.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:40 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Identity theft and meth addicts

identity theft is the 'perfect support' system for metamphetamine addicts.

Tammie Carroll, a mother of four in Denver who was indicted in 2003 in an identity theft ring, described her social circle succinctly.

“Anybody I knew that did meth was also doing fraud, identity theft or stealing mail,” Ms. Carroll said. “We helped each other out, whatever we needed to do that day. They all had their own little role.“

Meth Users, Attuned to Detail, Add ID Theft Habit

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July 10, 2006

Bounce Here and There

If you don't know all the ways Bounce can be put to good use, Bounce This Around.

I knew about tit repelled yellow jackets but didn't know it worked against ants, mice and mosquitos.

I always put a sheet of Bounce in my suitcases, but never thought to clean my television, dissolve soap scum, collect cat hair, wipe up sawdust or take the odor out of old scrapbooks.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:46 PM | Permalink

Angels of Life

On the troubled continent of Africa, the good news that AIDS drugs can give people their lives back - with help

Hospice `angels of death' become partners in survival, Outlasting AIDS in Africa

Hospice care, here as around the world, has long meant helping the desperately ill manage their pain and find a good death. But, increasingly, hospice workers in places like Mamelodi have become escorts back into life

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:41 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

July 9, 2006

Adult coloring

Japan is way ahead of us

Mitsubishi Pencil Co. has drawn attention with a new set of coloring pencils designed for adults as a coloring boom among middle-aged and senior people continues across Japan.
Coloring has emerged as a simple pastime for retired members of the baby-boom generation, and its popularity has surged with claims that thinking about and separating colors has the effect of a mental workout.

It's one way to cultivate your eye and beauty which is immensely gratifying. Too few of us have the time when we're working.

I've always looked forward to painting in my later life.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:32 PM | Permalink

Beauty, More than Skin Deep

Beautiful people head start in brainpower tests

BEAUTY may be more than skin deep after all. New research suggests that good-looking people do better in exams and thus probably in later life, than the plain or downright ugly.

In the study, better-looking students achieved superior results in both oral and written exams -- the latter marked anonymously -- suggesting that success is not just down to teachers favouring attractive students but to superior natural ability.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:28 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Fear contracts, love expands

Another chilling essay that makes you think from Patti at 37days.

"Leaving's not the only way to go.... Either commit to the swim or go" Unpack your boxes.

The fear that makes us resist change because we think we will die of the pain that change will bring keeps us closed in a box created by our own minds.

Sometimes the pain is so great, the threat to the ego we have constructed so frightening, that the mind will jump to anything to distract itself. in a frenzy, the mind will turn to something that soothes, drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling, internet surfing, books, TV, anything to keep from feeling the pain. Or the mind shuts down, withdraws, turns off.

It's the edge, people fear. What's outside the box.

Sometimes all it takes to break through the box is to imagine in your mind's eye, the fear itself. Imagine constructing the box that holds your fear. What do the walls look like? The ceiling? When you've finished constructing the box, construct the door. Now imagine a beautiful landscape outside the box where you're completely secure and loved. Then open the door, walk out and be free.

As you practice accepting the fear, then walking through the door you've created to where you feel loved and secure, you will move from one mind state to another more easily.

Fear contracts, love expands.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:15 PM | Permalink

July 8, 2006

Parental cyber snooping

How do you feel about using technology to spy on your children?

Parents turn to tech toys to track teens.

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Salt Water and Cystic Fibrosis

Soxblog who suffers from cystic fibrosis has received amazing results from inhaling salt water.

Salt Water and Other Miracles

From my perspective, this seems like if not a miracle, something damn close to it. For years good people, the world’s best, have been pouring their hearts, souls and money into finding effective treatments for CF and generally coming up with very little. And all of a sudden, a super-promising new treatment comes along. And it’s salt water!
There’s also the additional minor miracle that being just salt water, the treatment didn’t have to spend the better part of a decade navigating the FDA approval maze before reaching the general CF public that so desperately needs it. If a similarly effective treatment had been a medicine hatched in the labs of Genzyme, the FDA would have kept it out of the hands of the seriously ill people (who would eagerly roll the dice on an experimental treatment) until those seriously ill people had become seriously dead.
The situation would be analogous to a 70 year old in declining health going to the doctor and finding out that not only might he make it to 80, his 70’s will be a lot better health-wise than his 60’s were.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:45 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

July 7, 2006

Nasty, brutish and short

It's hard to believe but overall, we really are getting better.

According to anthropologist, Lawrence Keeley, if modern societies suffered the same casualty rates as primitive people, we would have had an additional two billion war deaths in the 20th century. His book

"War before Civilization" (Lawrence H. Keeley)

You can forget too the myth of the noble savage. The lives of primitive people were nasty, brutish and short.

The Fraud of Primitive Authenticity

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July 6, 2006

Terry Wallis

Just as we learn that the brain rewires itself and grows new connections throughout our lives unless stressed or depressed, comes dramatic evidence of that very sort.

Man's brain rewired itself in 19 years after crash. Doctors have proof on how Terry Wallis who was barely conscious for decades woke.

Most neurologists would have been willing to bet money that whatever the cause of it, if it hadn’t changed in 19 years, wasn’t going to change now,” Bernat said. “So it’s really extraordinary.”

Wallis’ father said his son is now able to make jokes. “That was something he wasn’t able to do early in his recovery,” Jerry Wallis said. “He now seems almost exactly like his old self. And he very often tells us how glad he is to be alive.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:53 PM | Permalink

July 5, 2006

The Gift That Increases

The Glorious Fourth every year opens up the opportunity to ponder the Legacy in which each and every American partakes.

At the very beginning of The American Soul, Jacob Needleman tells the story of

"You don't know what you have here," said the old man to the students who had gathered to meet him in the summer of 1974, who spoke with contempt of the Vietnam War, the destruction of the environment by rapacious corporations, and the media's complicity in spreading the toxic American consumerism worldwide.

"You simply don't know what you have," repeated the self-proclaimed last American who was in fact British.

"The American Soul : Rediscovering the Wisdom of the Founders" (Jacob Needleman)

Focusing on the wrongs perpetrated in the name of the United States, some see little of value. Others take it for granted. Only those who truly see its value, its ability for self correction and the last, best hope can live lives worthy of the legacy they have received.

Unless we fully accept the glorious gift we have received from the farmers who died a painful death for the idea of a United States, from the founding fathers, from the families who suffered as fathers, brothers and sons fell in the Civil War to preserve the Union and end slavery, from the countless, innumerable others before us who gave us an increased Legacy, we can not preserve and increase the gift itself to those that follow.


Via Hang Right on Tony Blair's speech to Congress in 2003 on what it is to be an American.

We are fighting for the inalienable right of humankind–black or white, Christian or not, left, right or a million different–to be free, free to raise a family in love and hope, free to earn a living and be rewarded by your efforts, free not to bend your knee to any man in fear, free to be you so long as being you does not impair the freedom of others.

That’s what we’re fighting for. And it’s a battle worth fighting.

And I know it’s hard on America, and in some small corner of this vast country, out in Nevada or Idaho or these places I’ve never been to, but always wanted to go…

I know out there there’s a guy getting on with his life, perfectly happily, minding his own business, saying to you, the political leaders of this country, “Why me? And why us? And why America?”

And the only answer is, “Because destiny put you in this place in history, in this moment in time, and the task is yours to do.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:20 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

July 4, 2006

An Englishman views America

On the eve of the Fourth of July, an Englishman, William Langley says The American dream has come true.

Almost all of America's important social indicators - the measures of the true health of a nation - are pointing in the right direction.

Welfare cases have fallen by an astounding 60 per cent in the last decade. Marriage is growing in popularity, while divorce rates, having soared in the Sixties and Seventies, are falling - as are the rates of teenage pregnancy, drug use and suicide. Alcohol consumption among the young has fallen by 31 per cent since the mid-Eighties, and smoking by almost 50 per cent.

Young Americans are discovering sex later than their parents, and have fewer partners. A new, virtuous, generation is emerging.

Educational achievement, particularly among minorities, is rising, and the philanthropic instincts of the rich - as witnessed by last week's $31 billion gift to charity by legendary investor Warren Buffet - are resolute.

Crime rates, not only in New York but across the country, continue to decline rapidly. According to the Department of Justice, violent offences overall have dropped by 55 per cent since 1993, while teenage offending is down by 71 per cent.

Property crimes are at their lowest level since Federal statistics began in the early Seventies. Beyond the lawless pockets of a few big cities, America is now one of the least crime-troubled societies on earth.

How has it all happened?

The New York Times commentator David Brooks gives a simple explanation. "People have stopped believing in stupid ideas; that the traditional family is obsolete, that drugs are liberating, that it is every adolescent's social duty to rebel."

This is essentially correct. From the Sixties onwards, America witnessed widespread social decay in the form of family break-up, drug tolerance and attacks, in the name of liberal values, on what had traditionally been viewed as the parameters of decency. A new generation of Americans, having seen and reviewed the results, wants to change things.

"Americans today," says Brooks, "are leading more responsible, organised lives. The result is an improvement in social order."
You feel it everywhere. In the courteousness and generosity of ordinary Americans, and the pride they have in their country. We don't hear much about it, because it doesn't fit our Euro-jaundiced view of what the United States is.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:11 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

July 3, 2006

Preparing and Recovering

If you have an expensive home ($1 million or more) and pay a fortune in homeowner's insurance($3500-$20,000), be sure to take advantage of the "concierge service" some insurers are offering this summer to deal with natural disasters like wildfires, hurricanes and earthquakes.

Insurers Cater to High-End Homeowners. (Wall St Journal, subscriber firewall).

They will work out a customized disaster plan and send out risk managers to your home to give you advice. Some even offer pre-screened specialists to give you priority and discounts in clean-up and restoration.

The rest of us can us Amazon's virtual Emergency Preparedness store which gathers together everything you need to prepare before and recover after.

Prepare for the worst. Hope for the best

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:12 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Censorship in Holland

University professors in Holland are censored if they want to speak about the growing anti-semitism in Europe.

Van der Horst, who has been a professor at Utrecht University since 1969, duly read out the censored version of his lecture “The Myth of Jewish Cannibalism,” but had the uncensored text published in a newspaper. He felt deeply offended at the censorship of his text. “I have never been so humiliated in my whole life,”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:24 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

July 2, 2006

Animal Training Techniques for Husbands

One of the most emailed articles from the New York Times in recent weeks is how Amy Sutherland used animal training techniques on her husband. It's sweeter than it sounds.

What Shamu Taught Me About a Happy Marriage

The central lesson I learned from exotic animal trainers is that I should reward behavior I like and ignore behavior I don't. After all, you don't get a sea lion to balance a ball on the end of its nose by nagging. The same goes for the American husband.

Back in Maine, I began thanking Scott if he threw one dirty shirt into the hamper. If he threw in two, I'd kiss him. Meanwhile, I would step over any soiled clothes on the floor without one sharp word, though I did sometimes kick them under the bed. But as he basked in my appreciation, the piles became smaller.

That's the L.R. S (least reinforcing syndrome). If a behavior provokes no response, it typically dies away.

The "incompatible behavior", is a simple, but brilliant concept says Amy.

At home, I came up with incompatible behaviors for Scott to keep him from crowding me while I cooked. To lure him away from the stove, I piled up parsley for him to chop or cheese for him to grate at the other end of the kitchen island. Or I'd set out a bowl of chips and salsa across the room. Soon I'd done it: no more Scott hovering around me while I cooked.
After two years of exotic animal training, my marriage is far smoother, my husband much easier to love. I used to take his faults personally; his dirty clothes on the floor were an affront, a symbol of how he didn't care enough about me. But thinking of my husband as an exotic species gave me the distance I needed to consider our differences more objectively.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:43 PM | Permalink | TrackBack