November 30, 2006

The Power of Thank You Notes

If you think about writing a thank you note and don't or if you write a note and don't send it or if you think that if you write a thank you note to someone you've never met, you have to read 

From Eight Letters, A Life-Afirming Note

via Book of Joe

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:08 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Every Lock You Have Is Worthless

After reading Nearly Every Lock You Have is Worthless,  I thought it might be worth it to put up a chain - not that it would keep out anyone intent on breaking in, but at least it would be evidence to the insurance company.

The comments are useful  - I never knew about biometric deadbolts or Abloy locks.  I liked this one. 

Cheapest way to do that is an NRA sticker on your screen door. Even criminals perform cost/benefit analyses in their heads.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:11 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Wanted: People hurt by fate or nature with large egos and imaginations

So you want to be a spy? 

Here's what Stalin's master spy recruiter looked for

“....people who are hurt by fate or nature — the ugly, those craving power or influence but defeated by unfavourable circumstances. In co-operation with us, all these find a peculiar compensation. The sense of belonging to an influential, powerful organisation will give them a feeling of superiority over the handsome and prosperous people around them.

Says Ben MacIntyre

This comes close to a perfect definition of the mentality of espionage. It brings together such different characters as Kim Philby, the upper-class British traitor, Melita Norwood, the octogenarian British KGB mole, and Alexander Litvinenko, the former KGB officer murdered last week with radioactive polonium-210. Spies spy for many reasons: ideology, greed, sex, revenge, honour, fear of blackmail. As a trade, espionage attracts more than its share of the damaged, the lonely and the plain weird. But all spies crave undetected influence, that secret compensation. Espionage may spring from patriotism or treachery, but ultimately it is an act of imagination.

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Booze for your blooms

A little bit of gin or whiskey added to the water for your paperwhite narcissus or daffodil bulbs will keep them from tipping over.

The booze acts to stunt the growth of stems and leaves, but not the blooms or their fragrance.

A 5% solution is best say the horticulture experts at the Flower Bulb Research Program at Cornell.

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Stem cells may end back pain

If you have low back pain, as some 80% of us have at some point, relief may not be far off.

Clinical trials are beginning next year that regenerates damaged tissue using stem cells from the patient's own bone marrow which will then be embedded in a gel that can be implanted into the patient.

No painkillers.  No embryos killed.  Only one treatment needed per lifetime.

Stem cell trial may bring end of back pain for millions.

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Surviving in the Wilderness

Okay, maybe you're not hiking through the Northern woods in the winter, but would you know what to do if you were in a small plane crash or your car went off the road in Death Valley or on your way to Quebec?

From Popular Mechanics, Outdoors Survival Strategies along with case studies from some of the 50,000 wilderness search and rescue 

missions each year in the United States.  Now, I'm not a regular reader of the magazine, so a tip of the hat to Instapundit who shares my interest in disaster preparedness, but not my interest in Heloise.

Here are 8 practical tips to stay alive for three days so rescuers can find you.

1. Leave a detailed plan with someone on the home front.  When you don't arrive, rescuers will know where to start looking.
2. Bring the right clothes.
3. Stay found by carrying and using a map so you can always where you are.
4. Remain in one place if you are in trouble.  Think of your car is your survival ark, giving you shelter from the wind and the rain
5. Stay warm.  It's the rule of 3s.  You can live for 3 minutes without oxygen, 3 hours without heat, 3 days without water and 3 weeks without food.
6. Signal for help in the most obnoxious way possible.  Blow your car horn.  Make a giant  X so that you are visible from the air.  Hang clothing from branches or lay out anything colorful so that it's visible from the air.  What catches the eyes of rescuers are contrast and movement.
7. Build a fire.  Keeps you warm and signals where you are.
8. Find water if necessary.  Don't ration the water you have.  Better to stay hydrated.  Drink found water even if you think it's impure if you have to.  Who cares about an intestinal bug if the water can save your life?

Finally, determine you will survive and live.  Most of survival is psychological.  Don't ask why this happened to you, a fruitless, useless question just about anytime.  Ask instead, What is the best things I can do in this situation.

If you're smart, you already have a first aid kit,  a flashlight, a few bottles of water and some fruit and nut bars in your car just in case.  Any of these inexpensive additions may save your life if you're lost in the wilderness.

Trash bags, large ones.  Good for staying warm.  Crawl right in.
Duct tape.  Did you know it prevents blisters and can splint broken bones. 
Dental Floss  It's so strong, you can repair a backpack or tie together branches.
Waterproof match cases.  Two of them.  One with matches, the other with  Vaseline-soaked cotton balls.  Who knew they were such excellent fire starters?
Condoms.  Excellent for carrying a gallon of water.
CD.  If you don't have a signal mirror, you can use a CD to signal aircraft.  Just line up the aircraft in the hole and flash, ideally in a series of 3.

If survival is mainly psychological, so is preparedness.  Preparedness is the determination to be your best strong and courageous self whatever happens.  So read the tips again and may you remember them when you need them most for both know-how and will.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:53 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

November 29, 2006

When the Useful is the Good

"Death with dignity" is the gleaming white shroud on the rotting corpse of societal fear, self-interest and ruthless self-preservation.
We are blind to the horrendous consequences of our wrong decisions, but see infinite visions of hope for their benefits.
Reason of itself is morally neutral; it can kill children or discover cures for their suffering and disease. Reason tempered by humility, faith, and guidance by higher moral principles has enormous potential for good - and without such restraints, enormous potential for evil.

From a remarkable essay by the Doctor is In, called The Children Whom Reason Scorns about a civilized European country that measures lives by their utility following the Groningen Protocol.

Via The American Digest who reflects on the Atlantis in Orbit and meditates on a Goya engraving entitled, "The sleep of reason breeds monsters."  On Advent: "We Are All Lying in the Mud, but Some of Us are Looking at the Stars.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:28 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

November 28, 2006

Doctor ordered to pay for unwanted baby

In Germany, a doctor has been ordered to pay monthly child support of 600 euros because he prescribed a contraceptive device that failed.

Doctor to pay for unwanted baby.

And we thought American courts were bad.  Thank goodness, some Germans find this nuts.

The decision in Karlsruhe, made on Tuesday, has met with disapproval in the German press.

The conservative Die Welt said the whole idea of damages being paid for the birth of a child was "perverse": "In addition to the highly private inkling that he was not wanted by his parents, he now has official confirmation that he was born by mistake," it said.

via Medpundit

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The Female Brain

I was going to write about the new book that purports to explain how and why women talk three times as much as men, but instead I just going to point to Ann Althouse's blog post with its title that says it all,
My brain as a hypodermic needle.  Your brain as an international airport.

But, wait, this is too good not to quote

"Women have an eight-lane superhighway for processing emotion, while men have a small country road," said Dr Brizendine, who runs a female "mood and hormone" clinic in San Francisco.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:15 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

November 27, 2006

Happiness, It's not Rocket Science

It was too simple to be effective.

That's what Harvard graduate, motivational speaker and executive coach Caroline Adams Miller thought about thinking of three good things that happened during the day.

But she did the homework assignment and found

"The quality of my dreams has changed, I never have trouble falling asleep and I do feel happier,"

she said in Researchers Seek Routes to Happier Life.

Seems like a lot of those exercises suggested by Martin Seligman at the University of Pennsylvania work like

* think of three good things that happened during the day
* find your personal strengths and apply one or more of them in a different way every day for a week. (You can take the test and find your strengths at authentic happiness.)
* savor the pleasing things in your life - the first cup of coffee, a hot shower
* practice random acts of kindness for 10 weeks
* write down what you want to be remembered for.  (This suggestion falls into my idea of your Personal Legacy Archives and keep your life aligned with your legacy)

For a full understanding of Seligman's work and his own journey nothing beats  Eudeamonia, The Good Life by Martin Seligman, published in Edge.

About 25 years ago I began to ask the question, who never gets helpless? That is, who resists collapsing? And the reverse question is, who becomes helpless at the drop of a hat? I got interested in optimism because I found out that the people who didn't become helpless were people who when they encountered events in which nothing they did mattered, thought about those events as being temporary, controllable, local, and not their fault; whereas people who collapsed in a heap immediately upon becoming helpless were people who saw the bad event as being permanent, uncontrollable, pervasive, and their fault. 25 years ago I started working on optimism versus pessimism, and I found that optimistic people got depressed at half the rate of pessimistic people, that optimistic people succeeded better in all professions that we measured except one, that optimistic people had better, feistier, immune systems, and probably lived longer than pessimistic people. We also created interventions that reliably changed pessimists into optimists.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:35 PM | Permalink

Very Rich

When medicine and the law ceased to be professions and became businesses, we shouldn't be surprised when many lawyers and doctors as well as would-be teachers leave it all behind to go to Wall St.

Very Rich are leaving the Merely Rich Behind

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:34 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

November 25, 2006

Tiny Window to Paradise

"Every moment of my time spending in this library is paradise."

In the closed society of Burma, now called Myanmar, the books, movies and broadband connections at the American Center offer A Tiny Window on the U.S. Prized by Those Peering In.

Why aren't we doing more of this?

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Worry Sandwich

When 60-year-olds take care of 92-year-old parents and 16-year-old kids, it's a worry sandwich.

Middle-aged women are less likely to be happy.

The bleak scenario doesn't surprise Deb Rubenstein, a social worker who counsels "sandwich generation" women, those who have children at home and aging parents, at IONA Senior Services, a social-service agency in Washington, D.C.

"I've had women burst into tears in my office. They say 'Not only is my father in the hospital, and they're calling me at work saying, "Figure out where he's going next because he's not going home," but the school's calling to say my learning-disabled child has developed another problem.' "

Typically, when emergencies with aging parents hit, "these women already have their plates 110% full," she says. Women do about 70% of the caregiving for elderly relatives with chronic illness, national studies have shown.

Middle-aged women are racked by worries about aging parents and relatives and other family members and are less happy than the average American reveals a recent poll commissioned by the New York Academy of Medicine and the National Association of Social Workers.

What Women Worry About

• Concerns about rising health care costs: 70%
• Concerns about an aging parents care or well-being: 65%
• Worry about not having enough time to help, support a family member: 59%
• Difficulty managing stress: 55%
• Fears about terrorist attacks or war: 44%

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:39 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

November 23, 2006

"As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly."

"As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly."

Thanksgiving Turkey Drop from WKRP.

Thanks Hugh Hewitt for a great laugh.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:48 PM | Permalink | TrackBack


 Scenes From Plymouth Plantation

We have so much to be thankful for as we gather together and families and friends reunite in this most American of holidays.  I wish you a happy and most grateful Thanksgiving.

The traditional Thanksgiving hymn

We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing;
He chastens and hastens His will to make known.
The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing.
Sing praises to His Name; He forgets not His own.

Beside us to guide us, our God with us joining,
Ordaining, maintaining His kingdom divine;
So from the beginning the fight we were winning;
Thou, Lord, were at our side, all glory be Thine!

We all do extol Thee, Thou Leader triumphant,
And pray that Thou still our Defender will be.
Let Thy congregation escape tribulation;
Thy Name be ever praised! O Lord, make us free!

And it's surprising history from Melanie Kirkpatrick

The association with Thanksgiving helped popularize the hymn, and the country's experience with war also contributed to its spread. "By World War I, we started to see ourselves in this hymn," says Michael Hawn, professor of sacred music at Southern Methodist University's Perkins School of Theology. Even more so in World War II, when "the wicked oppressing" would have resonated with a public engaged in the fight against Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. "People take stock of themselves at Thanksgiving," he says. "We've all survived some turbulent times."

"We Gather Together" has all the elements that make a hymn great, says Prof. Hawn. Its melody is accessible, it has a catchy "incipit" or opening phrase, and it has a message that unfolds through the stanzas and carries the congregation with it to an uplifting conclusion: "O, Lord, make us free!"
On Thanksgiving Day, that's a sentiment that all Americans, wherever we are gathered, can share.

The photos above are from Plymouth Plantation.

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November 22, 2006

Lack of Oxygen

The underlying cause of Alzheimer's may be lack of oxygen.

Previous studies have shown that diabetes, stroke, clogged arteries and ageing all increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Only 5% of cases appear to have been strongly influenced by genetic factors. Now evidence has emerged that lack of oxygen may be the ultimate cause.
So getting enough oxygen to the brain may help stave off Alzheimer’s in people with known risk factors...

One of the best ways to get oxygen to the brain is by increasing blood flow.  What better way than exercise. 

Regular exercise reduces the risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease up to 40%.

For those who have already developed early symptoms, exercise delays progression.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:13 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

A Cuppa for Stress

Seems like there's science behind the most typical English response to any stressful or traumatic event - a cup of tea.   

Stressed?  That cup of tea really will make it better

Scientists at University College London found that drinking tea lowers post-stress levels of cortisol, the hormone released when we experience physical or emotional trauma and which increases blood pressure and makes our hearts race.

So when you get home after battling traffic and the crowds in the supermarket for the last bits you need for dinner tomorrow, have a cuppa.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:41 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

November 20, 2006

Who Really Cares

I predict that this book is going to cause of lot of arguments among people who just can't believe it, liberals and conservatives.

"Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth about Compassionate Conservatism" (Arthur C. Brooks)

Author Arthur Brooks, once a registered Democrat now an independent, is a professor at Syracuse University and a behavioral economist.

From Beliefnet: Philanthropy Expert: Conservatives Are More Generous.

The book's basic findings are that conservatives who practice religion, live in traditional nuclear families and reject the notion that the government should engage in income redistribution are the most generous Americans, by any measure.

Conversely, secular liberals who believe fervently in government entitlement programs give far less to charity. They want everyone's tax dollars to support charitable causes and are reluctant to write checks to those causes, even when governments don't provide them with enough money.
"These are not the sort of conclusions I ever thought I would reach when I started looking at charitable giving in graduate school, 10 years ago," he writes in the introduction. "I have to admit I probably would have hated what I have to say in this book."

Still, he says it forcefully, pointing out that liberals give less than conservatives in every way imaginable, including volunteer hours and donated blood.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:42 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

What countries sell their women?

Spengler on Jihadis and whores.

Wars are won by destroying the enemy's will to fight. A nation is never really beaten until it sells its women.

It's not just Europe that has a plummeting birth rate, so does Iran.

As the most urbane people of Western Asia, the Persians grasped the hopelessness of circumstances quicker than their Arab neighbors. That is why they have ceased to bear children. Iran's population today is concentrated at military age; by mid-century, today's soldiers will be pensioners, and there will be no one to replace them.
it is one thing to read the statistics, and quite another to consider the millions of intimate decisions that together sum up to national suicide.
What is it that persuades women to employ their bodies as an instrument of commerce, rather than as a way of achieving motherhood? It is not just poverty, for poor women bear children everywhere. In the case of Iran, deracination and cultural despair impel millions of individual women to eschew motherhood. Prostitution is a form of psychic suicide; writ large, it is a manifestation of the national death-wish...
The proliferation of Iranian prostitutes in Western Europe as well as the Arab world helps explain the country's population trends.
Ot is hard to obtain reliable data on prostitution inside Iran itself, but anecdotal evidence suggests that it has increased since Ahmadinejad became president last year. Anti-regime sociologists claim that at least 300,000 women are whoring in Tehran alone.
Along with Albanian, Chechen and Bosnian women, Iranian prostitutes are living evidence of the dissolution of the traditional Muslim society that purports to shield women from degradation.

Islamist radicals (like the penny-a-marriage mullahs of Iran) are the world's most prolific pimps. The same networks that move female flesh across borders also provide illegal passage for jihadis, and the proceeds of human trafficking often support Islamist terrorists......The Persian prostitute is the camp follower of the jihadi, joined to him in a pact of national suicide.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:45 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Young, rich and miserable

MTV Survey of 5400 young people in 14 countries

Young people in developing nations are at least twice as likely to feel happy about their lives than their richer counterparts, a survey says.

Indians are the happiest overall and Japanese the most miserable.

Only 8% in Japan said they were happy, fewer than 30% in the US and  Britain while 75% in Argentine and South Africa were happy.

Lets see,  In developed countries, young people have little optimism, are concerned about jobs and globalization and feel the pressure to succeed.

In underdeveloped countries, young people are more religious and expected their lives to be better in the future.

Too easy a life, too much stuff, and rich, young people lose a sense of meaning, passion and purpose.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:31 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

November 19, 2006

China Admits to Organ Tourism

Foreign tourists who pay more that native Chinese are given preference for organ transplants with the vast majority of organs coming from executed prisoners. 

China Admits to Organ Tourism

This week, at a summit for transplant doctors held in Guangzhou, the once-denied practice was confirmed by government officials.

"Apart from a small portion of traffic victims, most of the organs from cadavers are from executed prisoners," said Vice Health Minister Huang Jiefu, according to English-language China Daily newspaper. "The current organ donation shortfall can't meet demand."

Do the recipients understand cellular memory?

It is not uncommon for memories, behaviors, preferences and habits associated with the donor to be transferred to the recipient along with the transplanted organ.

Organ transplants and cellular memories.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:14 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

Secret Santa Has Cancer

For more than 26 years, Larry Stewart was the Secret Santa who gave away millions of dollars and no one knew who he was.

Now that he has cancer,

he wants to inspire others to do the same. He said he thinks that people should know that he was born poor, was briefly homeless, dropped out of college, has been fired from jobs, and once even considered robbery.

But he said every time he hit a low point in his life, someone gave him money, food and hope, and that's why he has devoted his life to returning the favors.

Returning the kindness of strangers.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:01 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

Suffering under the National Health Service

Diagnosed with terminal cancer, Patricia Bolsom is writing a diary of her final days

It's a horrifying look at Britain's National Health Service where nothing is co-ordinated,  no one is in charge and care is rationed.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:48 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

Forget Gatorade, Get Chocolate Milk

As part of my continuing series on the benefits of chocolate, I now present you with evidence that chocolate milk is by far the best way for athletes to recover after exercise.   Forget Gatorade, chocolate milk is bettter.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:41 AM | Permalink

November 18, 2006

3 hours of Exercise a Week bolsters Memory, Intellect

It's real physical exercise, not crossword puzzles, that keeps your aging brain fit reports the Wall St Journal.

For the first time, scientists have found something that not only halts the brain shrinkage that starts in a person's 40s, especially in regions responsible for memory and higher cognition, but actually reverses it: aerobic exercise. As little as three hours a week of brisk walking -- no Stairmaster required -- apparently increases blood flow to the brain and triggers biochemical changes that increase production of new brain neurons.
support for the brain benefits of physical exercise has become stronger. A number of earlier studies showed that elderly people who take up aerobic exercise show improved cognitive function after a few months, says Arthur Kramer of the University of Illinois, Urbana
As little as three hours a week of aerobic exercise increased the brain's volume of gray matter (actual neurons) and white matter (connections between neurons), they report in the November issue of the Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences. "After only three months," says Prof. Kramer, "the people who exercised had the brain volumes of people three years younger.
"This is the first time anyone has shown that exercise increases brain volume in the elderly," says Dr. Kramer. "It suggests that aerobic exercise can stave off neural decline, and even roll back some normal age-related deterioration of brain structure."

With more gray matter and white matter, "the brain is more interconnected, more plastic and more adaptive to change," Prof. Kramer says.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:33 AM | Permalink

November 17, 2006

Public lawyer, public fool

Brian Hathaway, 20, was accused of having sex with a dead deer, but  he found a public lawyer willing to defend him by arguing that because the deer was dead, it was not considered an animal and the charge should be dismissed. 

Lawyer argues sex with dead deer not crime.

The statute does not prohibit one from having sex with a carcass,”
the Webster’s dictionary defines “animal” as “any of a kingdom of living beings,” Anderson said.

If you include carcasses in that definition, he said, “you really go down a slippery slope with absurd results.”

Anderson argued: When does a turkey cease to be an animal? When it is dead?

When it is wrapped in plastic packaging in the freezer? When it is served, fully cooked?

A judge should decide what the Legislature intended “animal” to mean in the statute, he said. “And the only clear point to draw the line in that definition, I believe, is the point of death.”

I wonder if he had any idea that he made himself and his client  a laughing stock across the nation.    Sometimes, it's better to take your lumps and not make a public fool of yourself.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:55 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

November 16, 2006


When I read that Michael Jackson named his three children, Paris  Prince, and Blanket,  I wondered what sort of father  would name his child "Blanket", forgetting that this was Michael Jackson after all, but then I didn't know about name abuse.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:44 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

A Black Woman's Plea

Mary Mitchell in the Chicago Sun Times says it wasn't always this way. "Enough of this selfishness: Time for black men to act like men.

Black women are waiting longer and longer to walk down the aisle. By the time some get there, they have already had one or two children. If the children are by different fathers, these women's lives are further complicated.

Common sense should have told us there would be consequences for this selfish behavior.

By now, so many blacks have ignored the warnings about the harm caused by the absence of black fathers that those consequences are now overtaking communities in the form of high dropout rates and senseless violence.

Black man, this is not an attack. It is a black woman's plea.

We are tired of seeing our daughters travail in such sorrow. We are tired of watching our grandchildren cling to fragile family ties. And by now, we are clear:

Politicians can't fix this problem. Preachers can't fix it.

There's only one real way to ensure that a black child has the best chance to succeed in this life.

Black man, marry your baby's mother.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:37 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

November 14, 2006

Differences between Men and Women

This is just too funny not to post in its entirety from Bussorah's Wicked Thoughts


If Laurie, Linda, Elizabeth and Barbara go out for lunch, they will call each other Laurie, Linda, Elizabeth and Barbara. If Mark, Chris, Eric and Tom go out, they will affectionately refer to each other as Fat Boy, Godzilla, Peanut-Head and Scrappy.

When the bill arrives, Mark, Chris, Eric and Tom will each throw in a $20, even though it's only for $32.50. None of them will have anything smaller and none will actually admit they want change back. When the women get their bill, out come the pocket calculators.

A man will pay $2 for a $1 item he needs. A woman will pay $1 for a $2 item that she doesn't need, but it's on sale.

A man has five items in his bathroom: a toothbrush, shaving cream, razor, a bar of soap, and a towel from the Marriott. The average number of items in the typical woman's bathroom is 337. A man would not be able to identify most of these items.

A woman has the last word in any argument. Anything a man says after that... is the beginning of a new argument.

Women love cats. Men say they love cats, but when women aren't looking, men kick cats.

A woman worries about the future until she gets a husband. A man never worries about the future until he gets a wife.

A woman marries a man expecting he will change, but he doesn't. A man marries a woman expecting that she won't change, and she does.

A woman will dress up to go shopping, water the plants, empty the garbage, answer the phone, read a book, and get the mail. A man will dress up for weddings and funerals.


Men wake up as good-looking as they went to bed. Women somehow deteriorate during the night.

Ah, children... A woman knows all about her children. She knows about dentist appointments and romances, best friends, favorite foods, secret fears and hopes and dreams. A man is vaguely aware of some short people living in the house.

Any married man should forget his mistakes. There's no use in two people remembering the same thing.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:08 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Live longer and be loved by a dog

Dogs may hold the secret to a long life.

DOGS may be the secret to health and happiness because they encouraged their owners to walk them daily whatever their mood or circumstances, British researchers said today.

Researchers at the University of Portsmouth found that dog owners felt obliged to walk their dogs despite bad weather or low moods, keeping them fit and making them feel better once they were out.

Ms Knight said that many participants in the study were retired people, including those who had been widowed or otherwise lived alone, or were recovering from illness or operations.

She said that they discussed occasions when they had felt lonely, isolated or depressed, and reported that their dogs helped them stay physically fitter and helped maintain social contacts.

Besides, what other creature gives so much unconditional love and affection?

Dogs have given us their absolute all.  We are the center of their universe.  We are the focus of their love and faith and trust.  They serve us in return for scraps. 
It is without a doubt the best deal
man has ever made. 

Roger Caras

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:48 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

November 13, 2006

Simple Lust Provokes Mass Murder?

He's a medical doctor who trained as a terrorist under al-Zawahiri, but now Tawfik Hamid is  in hiding. 

Sexual frustration, he says, is the dynamic behind suicide bombings who are overwhelming Sunni Muslims.    Sunnis don't have the release valve of "temporary marriage" that can last as little as one hour that Shia Muslims do.    Hot for Martyrdom

Don't for a moment underestimate this blinding passion or its influence on those who accept fundamentalism."

A pause. "I know. I was one who accepted it."

It's not about poverty.

"I've heard this poverty nonsense time and time again from Western apologists for Islam, most of them not Muslim by the way. There are millions of passive supporters of terror who may be poor and needy but most of those who do the killing are wealthy, privileged, educated and free. If it were about poverty, ask yourself why it is middle-class Muslims -- and never poor Christians -- who become suicide bombers in Palestine."

He has more to say on fundamentalist Muslim imperialism

"Yes, 'imperialism,' " he tells me. "The deliberate and determined expansion of militant Islam and its attempt to triumph not only in the Islamic world but in Europe and North America. Pure ideology. Muslim terrorists kill and slaughter not because of what they experience but because of what they believe."

He's exasperated now, visibly angry at what he sees as a willful Western foolishness. "Stop asking what you have done wrong. Stop it! They're slaughtering you like sheep and you still look within. You criticize your history, your institutions, your churches. Why can't you realize that it has nothing to do with what you have done but with what they want.

Read the whole interview by Michael Coren of the National Post.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:03 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

Yearning for the Golden Mean

The pursuit of beauty may be the yearning for the Golden Mean.

From Looking Good in the Washington Post

Picture the ratio in its simplest form: two lines. The first line is an inch long, and the second approximately 1.618 inches. (The exact length of the second line is called phi, and like its more famous cousin pi, it goes on endlessly after the decimal point.) The ratio of these two lines, 1 to 1.618, is the Golden Mean.

Marquardt still takes delight in his own discovery that the combined width of the two upper front teeth in a model-perfect smile is 1.618 times the height of each tooth. Eventually, he decided to use phi to build a template for the perfect face. With a computer, he generated a number of shapes using key facial features (pupils, corners of the mouth, bridge of the nose, etc.) as endpoints. The triangles, pentagons and decagons that resulted were all based on the 1:1.618 ratio. Putting that all together, he created a "mask" of ideal beauty. He called the finished product his "beauty mask" or "phi mask."

The real test came when he assembled hundreds of pictures of acclaimed beauties, from today's superstars back in time to Nefertiti herself. His "mask" fit with uncanny precision onto face after face after face -- white, black, Asian, Hispanic, ancient, contemporary. In the distances from jaw to brow, from lip to nostril, from nose to eye socket and so on and so forth, he found, again and again, that magic ratio.

"We believe that it is not strictly an image of 'beauty,'" Marquardt explains on his Web site, "but actually an image of humanness."

If today's Americans are uniquely obsessed, it's not with beauty, but with youth.

It's the inability to deal with reality and our aging bodies.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:20 AM | Permalink | TrackBack


Madeline Bunting writes a provocative column on "anti-adulthood", the latest and pernicious way of marketing to children.

She argued that marketing to children has boomed over the past decade, and its content has been characterised by anti-adultism. Cool is of the ultimate symbolic importance, and what is cool is usually anti-adult, oppositional, rebellious. Adults are never cool - they are boring, often absurd, sometimes stupid - and when they try to be cool they are pathetic. Even popular cartoons such as Rugrats are aping the format. The universe conjured up is one of "kids rule", in which children are "empowered into an adult-free space".
Why listen to your parents when they are so uncool? Meanwhile, for the child the evidence of failing, frustrated parents gives the cruel edge of experience to those lighthearted comedy sketches of incompetent adults.

Even more worrying, the experience instils in children a powerful uncertainty about whether adulthood is a desirable state to achieve at all.
the much more important question is the state of adulthood. Why are parents of this generation so uncomfortable about projecting the kind of authoritative certainty of adulthood with which many of us grew up, and against which we framed our own sense of identity?
We need to be able to answer the question of what is successful adulthood

HT Normblog.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:52 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

Doctors turn to Google

If a doctor is in doubt about a patient's ailment, he or she would do well by using Google to enter the symptoms.

Two Australian doctors put Google to the test by entering the symptoms of 26 difficult cases recorded in the New England Journal of Medicine and came up with the correct diagnosis in 58% of the cases.

Doctors turn to Google for tricky cases
The study, published by the British Medical Journal online, suggests that Google is likely to provide the correct diagnosis in conditions with unique symptoms, but is less effective at identifying complex diseases with non-specific symptoms or rare diseases with common symptoms.

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

November 11, 2006

Anne Porter's poetry winning acclaim

Our poet laureate, Donald Hall is 78, says that poetry is well suited to the rigors of old age.

"Poems are made for other persons to read but made out of silence and solitude, and perhaps there is more silence and solitude in the world of the old."

Take 95-year-old Anne Porter featured today in the Wall Street Journal and whose first volume of poetry was published when she was 83.

Asked why she keeps writing poems through her 80s and 90s, Mrs. Porter responds that art may be the only pursuit that old age can't wreck:

"You can't sing anymore, you can't dance anymore, you can't drive anymore -- but you can still write,"

Here she is on "Old in the City."

You stay away from doctors,
They'd send you to the hospital,
Where pieces are cut out of you,
And after that you die.

On finding a ticket that says "Keep This Ticket" in her purse, she wrote. 

I keep it carefully
Because I'm old
Which means
I'll soon be leaving
For another country

Where possibly
Some blinding-bright
Enormous angel
Will stop me
At the border

And ask
To see my ticket

On getting older, she says

"People don't use their creativity as they get older," she said. "They think this is supposed to be the end of this and the end of that. But you can't always be so sure that it is the end."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:14 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

November 10, 2006

The Evil that Men Plan and Do

About 30 major terrorist plots are being planned in the U.K. according to the director general of MI5, every one a priority one case.

UPDATE:  Terror Threat Here to Stay

Tony Blair has backed the chilling assessment of the scale of the terror threat in the UK given by the head of MI5.

In a rare public statement, Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller said the threat from Islamic extremists would last a "generation".

She said the security services were dealing with up to 30 plots designed to cause mass casualties.

And MI5 agents and the police are tracking more than 1,600 suspects.

Dame Eliza warned that weapons of mass destruction could be used in future attacks.

The Prime Minister said Dame Eliza was right in her assessment.

"This is a threat that has grown up over a generation," he said.

"And I think she is right in saying that the it will last a generation."

Novelist Martin Amis says nothing beats jihad that promises people they can be righteous and violent at the same time.  He recently wrote a short story about Mohammed Atta's last day on earth, in part because "his face, so rich and malevolent haunted" him.

As for motivation, he says in his story that Atta was in it for the killing, "killing people is obviously terrific fun. It's a crude expression of power to kill people, and it's arousing."

He believes that Western ideology is to blame for weakening the West in the war on terror.
moral relativism is so far advanced that we don't believe we can be right about anything. It just hasn't been accepted in the consciousness of the West that we have a fight with irrationality on our hands. Everyone's casting about, saying, "Why are they doing this?" And gooey-eyed newscasters on CNN say, "Why? Why this anger?" Paul Berman, the author of "Terror and Liberalism," calls this tendency "rationalist naïveté."[Terrorists] rejected reason. This is what Hitler did, and it's what Lenin did. They want to believe anything is possible, and they're not constrained by the laws of logic. This, plus the death-cult element, gives any movement a huge surge of energy.

But the West goes on. I'm talking about a certain strata of opinion that is dying for American failure in Iraq because they hate George Bush. They're dying for failure, but they're also attributing reason to the enemy, saying, "What terrible historic wrongs have we committed to bring this down on ourselves?" And they haven't made the leap to seeing that it isn't a matter of reason. It's a psychopathology. Their war is against God's enemies and it's meant to last for eternity, and how rational an undertaking is that? Yet people won't make that leap because it feels racist to them.

When asked where he draws the line between Islam and Islamism, he replied
Violence. Any violence against civilians is absolutely intolerable. [And] there is a huge moral difference between trying to kill civilians and trying not to kill civilians. When an American soldier kills an Iraqi civilian on purpose, he faces the death penalty. There's no equivalent mechanism among the enemy. [They have] celebrations throughout the land when a good number of civilians have been killed.

Meanwhile one French priest,  Father Patrick Desbois, travels through the Ukraine to hear confessions from villagers in the Ukraine...

the last witnesses to the mass killing of Jews in a little-known part of the Holocaust more than 60 years ago.

He recounts one story - just one of a thousand he's heard - of a Ukrainian woman who was ordered by Nazi soldiers to cook them dinner. As they ate, the 25 Germans went out in pairs to kill Jews. By the time the meal was over, they had shot 1,200. It was the first time the woman had ever told the story. "These people want absolutely to speak before they die," says Father Desbois of the bystanders. "They want to say the truth."

Father Patrick Desbois has become one of the world's foremost chroniclers of what the French call the Shoah par Balles - the Holocaust of bullets. Though neither Jewish nor Ukrainian, he spends half his year combing the poverty-stricken landscape of Ukraine to document the annihilation of tens of thousands of Jews at the hands of traveling bands of Nazis called the Einsatzgruppen.

It is a self-appointed task that led the Israeli newspaper Haaretz to decree him "Patrick the Saint." Embarrassed, Desbois calls the characterization a midrash - Hebrew for exaggeration.

The priest, who has devoted his clerical life to fighting anti-Semitism, is uncovering, village by village, unmarked mass graves from the Holocaust era. Here the Jews were shot, one by one, mother in front of child, child in front of father.

The "Holocaust of bullets" was every bit as brutal as the extermination of Jews by gas chamber, starvation, and other means at Auschwitz and elsewhere in Europe. Yet the depth and details of the tragedy in Ukraine have only recently surfaced .

Another report that a Hungarian Roman Catholic cardinal, the primate of the nation, was an informer for the communist government according to Ron Dreher at Crunchy Con who also points to  a YouTube video of Father Richard Wurmbrand, a Romanian Christian, who describes the brainwashing techniques he endured.

Horrific, the evil that men can do.  It only makes what the Pope Benedict said at Regensburg, more right and brave and  true.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:24 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

November 8, 2006

The Face of Terror

Dhiren Barot who plotted to kill thousands in Britain and the United States has been sentenced to 40 years imprisonment.

The London Times writes that Britons need to know about the fanaticism that threatens them.  The Face of Terror.

The 40-year sentence imposed yesterday on Dhiren Barot, the Muslim convert who masterminded plans for mass murder on a horrendous scale, is one of the longest terms handed down for non-capital offences. It reflects not only the gravity of the appalling acts that this senior al-Qaeda operative was planning, his callous glee at the scale of death and injury and his cunning in elaborating plans to maim and terrify thousands of people in Britain and America; it is also a clear message to other fanatics abusing the name of Islam that a democracy will take whatever measures are needed to protect itself from such evil.

The threat posed by Barot is hard to envisage. The middle-class Hindu, who went to school in London and worked briefly as an airline ticket clerk, sought out the most radical and violent form of Islam after his conversion and spent the next nine years as a full-time terrorist planner. His expertise and professionalism in surveying the nine London hotels, three stations, synagogues, banks and Underground lines targeted for destruction is matched only by his sadism in contemplating how he could increase the panic and human suffering caused by exploding gas cylinders, napalm, nails and a radiation bomb.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:31 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

Ben Stein on perfect summer days

Ben Stein on how to have a lifetime of perfect summer days and how not ruin your life. 

Even if he could retire, Stein likes going around the country and speaking on retirement readiness to the 75% of baby boomers who are financially ill-prepared for retirement.

In sum, Stein says,

* Don't have irrational expectations.
* Plan, Invest and Save

oh and have a good financial adviser.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:22 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

Report from the Future

Now that gender has become a personal choice in New York, can height be far behind? 

Separating anatomy from what it means to be a man or a woman, New York City is moving forward with a plan to let people alter the sex on their birth certificate.

Under the rule being considered by the city’s Board of Health, which is likely to be adopted soon, people born in the city would be able to change the documented sex on their birth certificates by providing affidavits from a doctor and a mental health professional laying out why their patients should be considered members of the opposite sex, and asserting that their proposed change would be permanen

While in England, scientists have applied for permission to create chimera embryos, to be more specific  human-cow embryos.

Calum MacKellar, from the Scottish Council on Human Bioethics, said the research undermined the distinction between animals and humans.

He said: "In the history of humankind, animals and human species have been separated.

"In this kind of procedure, you are mixing at a very intimate level animal eggs and human chromosomes, and you may begin to undermine the whole distinction between humans and animals.

"If that happens, it might also undermine human dignity and human rights."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:08 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

November 7, 2006

Nothing to do with the election

This is one of the most hysterically funny pieces I've ever heard.  How to prank a telemarketer.

Via Wizbang.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:49 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

November 6, 2006

He plotted to kill thousands

  Dhiren Barot

Remember that terrorist plot to blow up 10 airplanes over the Atlantic as well as London landmarks that was aborted by brilliant police work this summer? 

Dhiren Barot, a Hindu who converted to Islam,  plotted to kill thousands,  pled guilty to conspiracy to commit murder.  The details of his plans are now being revealed in a London court. Al Qaeda Briton 'plotted to kill thousands'.

Barot expected the devastation and loss of life to match 9/11 and the Madrid bombs, the court heard.

The attacks would have been coordinated in a series of back-to-back explosions with further strikes on landmark buildings in Washington, New York and Newark, New Jersey.

Barot costed every aspect of the terrorist outrages, then travelled to Pakistan to present them to al Qaeda bosses "like a business plan", the court was told.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:24 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Good movies for old folk

With the help of her readers, Ronnie Bennett at TimeGoesBy has put together a list of "eldermovies" which just might be handy if you're spending a weekend with an elderly parent.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:53 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Microsoft Previews Gears at Cemetery

I have no doubt that a number of people at Microsoft thought it was a terrific idea to hold a preview at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery,  for their newest video game, Gears which is apparently so violent that even its maker calls it 'horrific'.    I think both the preview and the game sounds appalling.

"Gears," which puts you in the role of a grizzled soldier fighting off alien invaders, has tantalized gamers with graphically realistic faces, explosions and blood.

The game carries an "M" rating, meaning it is for "mature" gamers aged 17 years and older.

Attendees at a "Gears" preview party held at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery last week were eager to try the game.

"It's gorgeous, isn't it?" one gamer remarked as another pumped bullets into a dead body dangling from a chain.

"Gears" doesn't so much incorporate violence as revel in it.

A chainsaw mounted on your rifle quickly fillets enemies amid fountains of gore, and when an enemy goes down in a hail of hot lead, you can finish him off with a gruesome move the designers gleefully call the "curb stomp."

"It's pretty graphic because it's not just visually that you understand a head is being stepped on and squashed like a watermelon, you also hear it as well," said Dan Hsu, editor-in-chief of "Electronic Gaming Monthly."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:22 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

November 4, 2006

Witty lonely hearts ads

World's wittiest lonely hearts ads from the London Review of Books from a soon-to-be published book by David Rose, They call me Naughty Lola.

'They call me naughty Lola. Run-of-the-mill beardy physicist (M, 46).'

'I've divorced better men than you. And worn more expensive shoes than these. So don't think placing this ad is the biggest comedown I've ever had to make. Sensitive F, 34.'

'List your ten favourite albums... I just want to know if there's anything worth keeping when we finally break up. Practical, forward thinking man, 35.'

'My ideal woman is a man. Sorry, mother.'

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:55 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Nazi "baby farm" children meet after 60+ years.

A living tragedy of an insane idea of racial purity, Secret Nazi 'baby farm' children meet.

Children born on Nazi baby farms who were intended to be the germseed for Hitler's Ayran master race are meeting in public to break a taboo that has lasted more than 60 years.

They are the product of the Lebensborn programme of the S.S., the 'Fountain of Life' scheme that turned racially and idealogically pure S.S. men into studs and blonde, blue-eyed single girls into child-rearing machines for the Fuehrer.

Thousands of such children were born in Lebensborn camps across Europe. They were immediately seperated from their mothers to be brought up in homes where the only religion was Nazism and qualities like mercy and kindness were frowned upon.

Hitler and his S.S. chief Heinrich Himmler believed they were creating a superrace: instead the lack of affection and poor education besides Nazi indoctrination led many to be educationally backward and emotionally crippled.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:51 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

November 2, 2006

Essayist for Our Times

There aren't many general essayists anymore, though some bloggers come close.  There's an art in writing about complex ideas in an engaging fashion.

The News Hour features two essayists, Anne Taylor Fleming and Richard Rodriguez.  Unfamiliar to most Americans is the Canadian David Warren who writes Essays on Our Times.

Here he is  on Regeneration.

The question is, how do we find our way out of the wilderness that has grown in the heart of man? How does a society, a whole civilization, that is on the skids and bound for destruction, arrest its slide? I pose this today in the broadest possible way, because I think it is the one, common, practical, and even political question that should remain near the front of all minds capable of charity and goodwill.

The obvious answer, to those who realize that our civilization was built not only by human hands, but under the guidance of Church and religion, is to counsel a re-centring, a return to God. But for those who have moved and been moved so far away, that the very idea of God chills them, what paths lie open?

I think there are quite a few, and that all have in common this mysterious element of joy. I think art, broadly, offers many alternative means to the kind of regeneration -- moral, and ethical, as well as aesthetic -- that can help us out of our enclosed spaces. Learning to draw, from nature; to sing, in key; to dance, in pattern; to write, metrically; even to sew, or to master carpenter’s joints -- all such enterprises offer the lost soul an individual direction out of the jungle.

The reason why, is that each is a discipline that restores us to harmony with the natural order of things. Each offers a way of seeing into God’s creation, and puts us in the presence of what is infinitely greater than ourselves.

To be able to draw a single flower, with full attention to all its colours and parts, is to be lifted out of one’s tawdry self into a realm where good, truth, and beauty still prevail. It is to recover joy.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:21 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

The Family Tree Becomes the Beanpole

Via the Wills, Trusts & Estates Blog

The Boom in Great Grandparents

Whatever the number of great-grandparents, demographers agree that American family trees today often resemble a beanpole: thin (because there are fewer children in each generation) and long (because there are more living generations).

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:28 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

Peace on the Road for Working Moms

If you wonder how working Moms get it all done, some of them have a secret they don't talk about.

Working Mothers Find Some Peace on the Road.

Hers is the guilty pleasure of the traveling working mom. After slogging through airports, sitting through PowerPoints and networking through lunches, there is, at the end of the day, a small taste of freedom. And as hard as it can be to balance the demands of business trips and family life, for the relatively small group of employed mothers who travel, it can be delicious.

No chores to tackle. No homework to oversee. No bedtimes to bird-dog. For many working mothers, business trips become mini-vacations. The simple pleasure of unbroken sleep and an uninterrupted meal can feel like an indulgent getaway for these women burdened at both ends.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:09 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

Young disabled girl 'kept small'

The ethical dilemmas in caring for children with profound developmental disabilities in this brave new world are new and unparalleled.    I've never heard of such treatment, yet, it makes sense.

Young disabled girl 'kept small'.

In a report published in a medical journal this month, the doctors described a six-year-old girl with profound, irreversible developmental disability who was given high doses of estrogen to permanently halt her growth so that her parents could continue to care for her at home.

The controversial growth-attenuation treatment, which included hysterectomy, was requested by the child's parents and initiated after careful consultation and review by an ethics committee.
For children with severe combined neurologic and cognitive impairment who are unable to move without assistance, all the necessities of life – dressing, bathing, transporting – must be provided by caregivers, usually parents, and these tasks become increasing difficult, if not impossible, as the child increases in size.

"Achieving permanent growth attenuation while the child is still young and of manageable size would remove one of the major obstacles to family care and might extend the time that parents with the ability, resources, and inclination to care for their child at home might be able to do so," the doctors wrote.

The parents of the six-year-old, both of whom were university-educated professionals, indicated a strong desire to continue caring for their daughter.

Despite having the neurologic development no greater than that of an infant, the six-year-old responded to her parents and two healthy siblings – vocalising and smiling in response to care and affection – and "clearly is an integral, and much loved, member of the family," the authors said.

After extensive evaluation, the combined opinion of a team of specialists was that the child would have no significant neurologic or cognitive improvements.

The onset of puberty and continued growth caused concern in the parents about how they would care for their daughter long-term, which they clearly wanted to do.

They were concerned about having to turn over care to "strangers" and also about the complications that would arise when the child started menstruating.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:51 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

November 1, 2006

The French paradox

The best news of the day, maybe the month.

Red wine may offset the bad effects of a high-calorie diet and extend your life as well.  It's the resveratrol, a natural substance in the wine.

At least it works for mice.

The New York Times reports Substance in Red Wine Extends Life of Mice

Can you have your cake and eat it? Is there a free lunch after all, red wine included? Researchers at the Harvard Medical School and the National Institute on Aging report that a natural substance found in red wine, known as resveratrol, offsets the bad effects of a high-calorie diet in mice and significantly extends their lifespan.

Their report, published electronically today in Nature, implies that very large daily doses of resveratrol could offset the unhealthy, high-calorie diet thought to underlie the rising toll of obesity in the United States and elsewhere, should people respond to the drug as mice do.

Resveratrol is found in the skin of grapes and in red wine and is conjectured to be a partial explanation for the French paradox, the puzzling fact that people in France tend to enjoy a high-fat diet yet suffer less heart disease than Americans.

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