April 30, 2007

Youths fear winding up alone

A survey of 16-22 year-olds surprisingly showed that family breakdown was their primary concern with violence in their local communities, poverty and global warming trailing behind and war and government issues low on the list.    Economic and environmental issues and racism/discrimination barely registered.

Even more surprising was the interest in religion and spirituality with 73% saying it was very or somewhat important.

Young people have a "fear of winding up alone," said Sandy Close, executive director of New America Media, an association for 700 ethnic news organizations that was founded in 1996 by the Pacific News Service.

Members of the new generation, who spend much of their time on cell phones and text messaging, and "who we think of really as the connected generation is, in a way, most afraid of winding up without intimate connections," she said. There is a "deep yearning for traditional structures and values."

Youths fear decay in family

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:36 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

When Gun-Free Zones Aren't

Michael Barone points out something that I had never realized about gun control, Feeling Safe Isn't Safe

What most discussions of this issue tend to ignore is that we have two tracks of political debate and two sets of laws on gun control. At the federal level, there has been a push for more gun control laws since John Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, and some modest restrictions have been passed. At the state level, something entirely different has taken place.

In 1987, Florida passed a law allowing citizens who could demonstrate that they were law-abiding and had sufficient training to obtain permits on demand to own and carry concealed weapons. In the succeeding 20 years, many other states have passed such laws, so that today you can, if you meet the qualifications, carry concealed weapons in 40 states with 67 percent of the nation's population (including Vermont, with no gun restrictions at all).

When Florida passed its concealed-weapons law, I thought it was a terrible idea. People would start shooting each other over traffic altercations; parking lots would turn into shooting galleries. Not so, it turned out. Only a very, very few concealed-weapons permits have been revoked. There are only rare incidents in which people with concealed-weapons permits have used them unlawfully. Ordinary law-abiding people, it turns out, are pretty trustworthy.

As if to support Barone's point, Classically Liberal tells you what the mass media didn't - what happens when mass killers meet armed resistance

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:21 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

April 29, 2007

Bachelor Hordes, Bare Branches in China

Chinese men without marriage prospects are called "bare branches."  They're bare because of the millions of missing women.

Beijing's bachelor bulge: the unprecedented surplus of boys.

“I'm really eager to have a wife, but it is very hard to find one here,” Mr. Liu says. “I am too old and too poor. I'm just counting the days without desires.”
In the past, "bachelor hordes" gave rise to political uprisings that lead to wars.
Scholars have pointed to the Nien Rebellion in northern China in the 1850s. After a series of failed harvests, the local inhabitants adopted a policy of infanticide, and eventually 25 per cent of the men were unable to marry because of a shortage of women. About 100,000 unmarried men formed bandit gangs, which merged into armies that tried to overthrow the Qing Dynasty in a war that lasted for years.

Many experts predict that the growing surplus of unmarried men will cause an increase in violence, rape, prostitution, crime and the illegal trafficking of women. “The large number of unmarried men will disrupt the normal continuity of human reproduction,” said Zhan Changzhi, a sociologist at Hainan University, in an interview with a Chinese newspaper.

“The population will decrease,” he said. “Huge numbers of single men will suffer from sexual starvation. Many mental disorders will be caused because they cannot enjoy a normal family life and sexual life. Many of them will become criminals. And the trend will damage the economy, since the single men will have no strong desire to improve their economic condition. They'll stay at home and do nothing, and their human resource will be wasted. This is a very severe problem.”

Yet, activists who protest the brutality of forced abortion are kidnapped.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:35 AM | Permalink

April 27, 2007

When a bad hair day can land you in jail

The Business of Life for women in Iran is getting harder every day.

We worry about bad hair days; they worry about stray locks that might land them in jail.

Imagine walking down the street when a police car stops and arrests you for not wearing your veil properly.  You're detained and forced to undergo psychological counseling.

Gateway Pundit has posted a shocking video of such a woman pulled off the streets and into a police car.  She didn't go without fighting back.

 Iranian Woman Improper Veil

Some 150,000 women have already been arrested or detained because they haven't complied with the strict, new Islamic dress codes.

It's the toughest crackdown in 20 years.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:25 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

"Start Your Revolution" Health

He brought you AOL back in the times when email was the latest thing and an email address with your name as part of it was really cool.  After making AOL an online behemoth, Case merged it with the mass media giant Time-Warner in 2001, just in time for the dot-com recession.  This merger of online and mass media never quite worked but not for lack of vision.  Since resigning from the board in 2005, Case has been looking at health care

His new venture is Revolution Health.  In a video on the site, he tells us his vision and why he started it.

  Steve Case

From the Press Release "Manifesto"

- After three months in preview mode, Revolution Health today formally launched RevolutionHealth.com, a comprehensive health and medical information site, specially designed with the family's Chief Health Officer - busy moms and other caregivers - in mind. Revolution Health also announced the acquisition of TLContact, Inc., the company that provides CarePages, the leading Internet service for building online communities that support communication among family and friends when someone is receiving care.

There is a lot of great health information and tools on the Internet, but nobody has assembled them in a way that is compelling and useful for consumers who want to take more control of their family's health. We've scoured the landscape to find the very best health tools and content, and we've put them together all in one place - and made them all free. We will continue to work to build - in partnership with dozens of organizations and millions of people - the Internet's leading health site."

I've been impressed with CarePages, a service that helps keep family and friends updated and last year wrote a post about them.  Today, more than 500 hospitals offer CarePages to their patients, though anyone can create one free of charge.

Case writes a blog on CarePages chronicling Revolution Health.

The website itself is quite good, with as much attention to healthy living as to getting good information and support if sick.  You can know your risk, build your own health page in beta, find out what's bothering you with symptom-checker,  find a doctor and rate yours, find drugs and treatment and rate yours, assess and track your health with 150 tools, even organize your health records.

With videos about common medical procedures and meditation, with expert medical bloggers and ratings by other people just like you, I'm betting that Revolution Health will help you get to a healthier place.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:45 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

April 25, 2007

St. George's Day, "the tone of a funeral wake"

How this one great land lost its soul

ST GEORGE'S Day should be an occasion for patriotic celebration.
But for those of us who love this land, today has the tone of a funeral wake.

The England that we cherished has disappeared.
We can only raise our glasses to the memory of a once great country whose spirit has been broken by her own rulers, its fabric torn apart by social revolution.
Thanks to the twin malign forces of mass immigration and multi-culturalism,
the scale of England’s transformation is alarming....
And the pace of change is being accelerated by the ruthlessly enforced official ideology of cultural diversity, which holds that any manifestation of traditional patriotism is akin to racism.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:38 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Why You Should Spy on Yourself

Since just about anyone can find out all sorts of detailed information about you, consider that the best defense is a good offense.

Why You Should Spy on Yourself in the Wall Street Journal tells you how find out beforehand what a prospective employer, college admissions officer or others might reveal about you.

In a 2004 study by U.S. Public Interest Group found that 79% of consumer-credit reports contained at least one mistake.

1. Get your free annual credit report
The first step in running a background check on yourself: Order your credit report. These are from major credit-reporting agencies Equifax, TransUnion and Experian and can be obtained from www.annualcreditreport.com or 1-877-322-8228.

Check for unauthorized credit-card accounts and loans, bad addresses and unfamiliar names that could be evidence of identity theft. Notify the agencies and creditors if anything seems amiss.
The good news: Background reports prepared by agencies like these are regulated by the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act. As a result, you're supposed to be notified of the reason if a negative report results in a missed opportunity, giving you a chance to correct mistakes.

2.  Do a pre-employment self check
While Choicetrust will give you a free annual report, expect to pay about $25 for  a national criminal file check or $50 for a search that included employment or education verification that will include information from public records and some courts.

At Choicetrust you can also review credentials of health care professionals,  verify nursing home credentials and check for lawsuits, liens and judgments against those you are thinking to employ.

Lexis-Nexus will also give you a free copy of information contained in a background screening report if you call 877-913-6245.

3. Do a Stolen ID search
StolenIDSearch.com, a new free service from TrustedID, lets you find out whether your Social Security or credit-card numbers are among some 2.3 million compromised pieces of identification in its database, which it obtains from organizations that compile lists of numbers recovered in fraud investigations.
4. Clean up unflattering online postings
Among the toughest problems to fix can be unflattering online postings. Even just a few years ago, no one would have worried about it. But the fact is, they can linger in cyberspace forever. ReputationDefender.com is designed to scour the Web for unflattering material about you, then will try to either have it removed or make it show up less prominently in search results.

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

Anorexia of the Soul

Courtney Martin writes  For Girls Who Hate Their Bodies: A Spiritual Crisis in the Christian Science Monitor and worries about anorexia of the soul.

...our worth in the world has always been tied to our looks, grades, and gifts – not the amazing miracle of mere existence.

In this climate, we feel perpetually called to perfect our own "body projects" – the term used by historian Joan Jacob Brumberg. Thinness and achievement stand in for the qualities of kindness and humility. We think that our perfect bodies – not God's grace or good works – will get us into heaven. We have no deeply held sense of our own divinity, so we chase after some unattainable ideal. Perfect girls, as a result, feel they are never enough. Never disciplined enough. Never accomplished enough. Never thin enough.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:11 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

Getting Rid of Stuff

Martha Stewart gives us 100 Reasons To Get Rid of It.

We have too much stuff

  • People burn 55 minutes a day looking for things
  • 80% of what we own we never use

Because it's fun
Because Someone else needs it
It can be turned into something else
It will make your life better

  • Getting rid of clutter will reduce housework by 40%
  • Around 23% of people pay late fees on bills they cannot find

You can get something back.
Because it's old/expired
Or Just Because

  • It has no value, sentimental or monetary.
  • It hasn't been used in over a year.
  • There is no logical place to keep it.
  • It doesn't work.
  • An ex gave it to you.
  • And what's the worst that can happen if you throw it out?
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:06 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

April 24, 2007

Migraines: Good for Your Brain?

I suffered with migraines for years and years.    They ended after a 5 day juice fast at a funky spa in Key West where I gave up smoking and the medications I was taking for the headaches.  So I was pleased to read this.

Headaches may be good for your brain

Is it possible that suffering through years of migraine headaches actually might have a beneficial effect on the brain?

A provocative new study has raised that improbable prospect after finding that longtime, middle-aged migraine sufferers showed less cognitive decline and memory loss over a period of 12 years than a group of migraine-free adults.

Researchers can't explain what could be a silver lining in the agonizing cloud that is migraine, but it's possible that the physiological changes that accompany the headaches might protect brain cells over the long haul.

Beyond offering a modicum of solace to the 30 million migraine sufferers in the United States, the strange finding, if verified, could offer researchers new leads into ways to preserve memory in aging brains.

"This is really a surprise," said Bhupendra Khatri, director of the Center for Neurological Disorders at Aurora St. Luke's Medical Center. "This is going to stimulate a lot of research."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:23 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

April 23, 2007

When the very words 'civilized behavior' are ridiculed

Our cultural crisis is so great, we could be reliving the late days of the Roman empire.  Too many in academia denigrate the Western tradition and are poorly training those who will be called to  defend it but who will lack the intellectual resources to do so.

"If the elite class sees nothing in the West to defend, we're reproducing this situation of the late Roman Empire, which was very cosmopolitan and very tolerant, but which was undone by forces from within," she says.

Camille Paglia, defender of the West, an interview with Ron Dreher
I remain concerned about the compulsive denigration of the West and the reductiveness so many leading academics in the humanities have toward their own tradition," she tells me. "They reduce it all to the lowest common denominator of racism, imperialism, sexism and homophobia. That's an extremely small-minded way of looking at culture and a betrayal of the career mission of these educators, whose job is to educate students in our culture."

Chiefly responsible she says are the American professors of the humanities.  When you look at what the VT killer who majored in English was taught, it's hard not to agree with her.

In Was Cho taught to hate? James Lewis spent some time checking out the websites of the English faculty to find
a wonder world of PC weirdness. English studies at VT are a post-modern Disney World in which nihilism, moral and sexual boundary breaking, and fantasies of Marxist revolutionary violence are celebrated.

I'm sorry but VT English doesn't look like a place that gives lost and angry adolescents the essential boundaries for civilized behavior. In fact, in this perversely disorienting PoMo world,
the very words "civilized behavior" are ridiculed  --- at least until somebody starts to shoot students, and then it's too late. A young culture-shocked adolescent can expect no firm guidance here. But we know that already.

Paglia is shocked at the stunning loss of cultural memory among college students, especially how few college students grasp basic biblical concepts.

"The only people I'm getting at my school who recognize the Bible are African-Americans," she said. "And the lower the social class of the white person, the more likely they recognize the Bible.

What are they left with? "Video games, the Web, cellphones, iPods – that's what's left," Dr. Paglia laments. "And that's what's going to make us vulnerable to people coming from any side, including the Muslim side, where there's fervor. Fervor will conquer apathy.
I don't see how the generation trained by the Ivy League is going to have the knowledge or the resolution to defend the West."

Our cultural crisis is precisely that serious, says Dr. Paglia, who believes – as does Pope Benedict, one of the most cultured men on the planet – that we could well be reliving the last days of the Roman Empire.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:19 AM | Permalink

April 21, 2007

The Formula for Procrastination

Professor Piers Steel who calls himself a reformed procrastinator began studying procrastination 10 years ago, before it began a sharp rise.  Now he has come up with a unified theory and a mathematical formula to explain it.

Steel's formula, called the Temporal Motivation Theory, calculates procrastination like Albert Einstein's equation for energy, E=MC2. It factors the person's expectancy for succeeding at a given task (E) or self-confidence; the value of completing the task (V); its immediacy or availability (Gamma); and the person's sensitivity to delay (D) to come up with the desirability of the task (Utility).

Utility = E x V / (Gamma) x D

"Essentially, procrastinators have less confidence in themselves, less expectancy that they can actually complete a task," Steel said. "Perfectionism is not the culprit. In fact, perfectionists actually procrastinate less, but they worry about it more."

... in general, human behavior is marked by people's judgment of value and their expectancy--whether or not they expect to get something.
Most people who procrastinate are impulsive; they value what they can have today more than what they can have tomorrow--and long-term goals don't have motivational force.

There are 3 types of procrastinators

1. Those who have a hard time getting started.  These are classic procrastinators.
2. Those who get bogged down in details.  These are the classic perfectionists
3. Those who are too distractible.  They always find something else to do that's more interesting or gratifying to do be it email, television, the phone or a party.  all those tech gadgets that offer immediate gratification.

Technology creates "motivationally toxic environments" by giving people a constant source of putting things off, Steele says.

Boy is that the truth. 

If you want to make progress on a long-term project, some part of everyday walling yourself off from such tech temptations else it's like, in the words of Professor Steel
trying to diet with a floating spoon of ice cream following you around.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:23 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Hurrah for Miss America

Venus Ramey, Miss America in 1944, is now 82 and needs a walker to get around her Kentucky farm where she sells trees.

When she caught Curtis Parish stealing scrap metal from her yard, she took out her gun and shot out his tires as he was leaving.

"The first time I was robbed on the other side road about 6 or 7 years ago, I caught one man," Ramey said.

But now both police and Ramey say they don't think this man will try to steal from her again.

Police say Ramey had every right to fire the gun since they say she witnessed the men committing a crime on her property.

I wonder how many older people feel safe only because they have a gun to defend themselves and to keep people from preying on them.

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

Twenty years in a Chinese prison

An extraordinary story of Jack Downey and Richard Fecteau, lured by a double agent and jailed secretly, The lost 20 years of CIA spies caught in a China trap

The capture, imprisonment and eventual release of these two CIA agents is one of the most extraordinary and poignant tales in the history of espionage. Some of the material relating to their captivity remains classified but 34 years after Downey stumbled to freedom the CIA has finally allowed an official agency historian access to its most secret files.

The Downey-Fecteau case, revealed last week in the CIA’s Journal of the American Intelligence Professional, is a story of suffering, endurance and ordinary individuals trapped and manipulated by geopolitics. With the recent Iranian hostage drama, the story has remarkable contemporary resonance, but with one signal difference. The British soldiers were held in Iran for 13 days, and some made a small fortune by selling their stories after their release. Downey and Fecteau — both of whom are still living —never told their story to the media, and never made a penny out of it.

They were 22 and 24 when they were caught.

The men lived in draughty cells, on a diet of maggoty rice and vegetables. Sometimes they were allowed books and magazines. Then, with refined psychological cruelty, these would be arbitrarily removed.

The Americans developed survival strategies: daily exercise, writing, learning Chinese, and training their minds to explore the world they had once known.

Fecteau became an “expert daydreamer”, Dujmovic reports, and made an imaginary world by recalling every child in his school classes, and the sights in the Massachusetts town where he grew up.

Their prison experience has become a case study in surviving captivity.

Awarding Downey and Fecteau belated medals in 1998, George Tenet, then CIA director, observed: “Your story, simply put, is one of the most remarkable in the history of the CIA.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:14 AM | Permalink

Strawberry Daiquiris Good for You

This just in.

                      Daquiri, Strawberry

Fruity cocktails count as health food, study finds.

A fruity cocktail may not only be fun to drink but may count as health food, U.S. and Thai researchers said on Thursday.

Adding ethanol -- the type of alcohol found in rum, vodka, tequila and other spirits -- boosted the antioxidant nutrients in strawberries and blackberries, the researchers found.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:07 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

April 20, 2007

"Crazy Campuses"

Victor Davis Hanson had a crazy,  volatile roommate his first year of college, so he has real empathy for students who might find themselves in a similar, scary situation.  His advice

I don’t believe that the university can protect any of them. Its mentality is therapeutic. And in the age of law-suits, and fourth-chances officials always err in the direction of the accused’s rights. I say that not in hindsight or criticism, but in sadness that the best advice one could give a child going to the university would be something like: “You will meet very eccentric people there, with all sorts of problems and strong passions, most of them antithetical to your own. Don’t expect moral guidance necessarily from your professors, or physical protection from your colleagues or the administration. Ask for such help, but don’t count on it. Instead keep you eyes open and at all times expect the worse.”

I am sorry if that sounds pessimistic, but I find it better advice than something like the college brochures’ promises of four years of intellectual and lifestyle stimulation in a cordial tolerant environment.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:43 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Don't Look at The Revolution from Within

What do you think of a university that

• issues loans that have to be repaid and not outright grants
• refuses to provide curtains when women swim in the college pool
• neglects to provide multiple prayer spaces in new buildings
• prepares all food in a sanitary manner

In Canada, such a university would be considered Islamophobic and racist according to the Canadian Federation of Students representing more than 500,000 students across Canada.

To remove any vestiges of such Islamophobia, the Canadian Federation of Students goes on to say,  the faculty, staff, students and administrators must learn the tenets of Islam, in "education modules", taught not from a Western perspective because that would be racist, but by true believers.  In Canada!

Jeff Goldstein at Protein Wisdom in reporting the above, calls it a
a revolution from within—using the inchorent assumptions of multiculturalism along with the pernicious policing methods of political correctness to insinuate a new master narrative into a host culture ....an opportunistic theocratic movement to infiltrate and undermine liberalism and pluralism.

Meanwhile in Britain, the London Times reports 
Pupils and teachers have been told by an official body not to stare at Muslims for fear of causing offence.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:46 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

While there is still time

Last year for a poetry jam I memorized The Mower by Philip Larkin.  Today, Eamonn Fitzgerald writes that the horror and tragedy of the Virginia Tech killings drives home the  urgency of its command. 

The Mower

The mower stalled, twice; kneeling, I found
A hedgehog jammed up against the blades,
Killed. It had been in the long grass.

I had seen it before, and even fed it, once.
Now I had mauled its unobtrusive world
Unmendably. Burial was no help:

Next morning I got up and it did not.
The first day after a death, the new absence
Is always the same; we should be careful

Of each other, we should be kind
While there is still time.

Philip Larkin (1922-1985)

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:30 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

Still Learning from her Mother

In a lovely piece, Jane Plitt writes about her mother in The Lessons of Alzheimer's, the unexpected gifts of a terrible disease.

Among them
1. Be in the Moment
2. Touch Connects
3. Choose your Memories
4. Meet and Greet
5. Use things Up

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:07 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

April 19, 2007

Thoughts on Passivity on Patriots Day

Bravery is a virtue; helplessness is not.     

Long ago, way before 9/11, when airline hijackings were the craze, I thought then and still do that every citizen is a foot soldier in the fight against terror.  Most days, I drive through Lexington Center and see the statue of the Minuteman, an ordinary man,  ready in a minute to defend home and others.

Still none of us know what we would do if faced with a mad killer with a gun. 

Kathy Shadie says
Remember: when we say "we don't know what we'd do under the same circumstances", we make cowardice the default position. At least show a smidgen of bravery and say "I", rather than "we."

I don't know what I would do if faced with a mad killer with a gun. 

I like to think that I would be brave, push past my fear, not run away, save lives.  You see as a young girl, I grew up on the stories of martyrs, often young girls just like me.  When I wasn't playing cowboys and Indians with my best friend Kathy, we played martyr, practicing how to fight back and die well  if the Russian Communists ever took over the country.  How many children play like that any more? 

From Meditation on Death of the Young
The quarterback of the football team was just outside the hall when the shooting began. He said, in an article in the Washington Post, that he
"I couldn't tell whether people were hurt or not, "I was kind of on the move. The whole time, I wasn't really trying to figure what was happening or where the shots were coming from. I was just kind of on the move,

No one made a move to attack the killer or throw something at him.  No one. 

Did it all happen too fast?

What if they had been warned that a double murder had occurred and a killer was loose on the campus?

Jack Dunphy who's been present at over 1000 shooting scenes in his police career writes
This would have given them the chance to make an informed decision on how best to proceed with the day.  After all, the difference between what happened on Flight 93 and on the other doomed flights of 9/11 was that the passengers on Flight 93 had been warned of what awaited them.  Had students and faculty at Virginia Tech been told that a murderer may be stalking the campus, some of them might have been alert to the danger and steeled themselves to fend off the killer.

Nathanael Blake asks Where Were the Men?
College classrooms have scads of young men who are at their physical peak, and none of them seems to have done anything beyond ducking, running, and holding doors shut. Meanwhile, an old man hurled his body at the shooter to save others.

Something is clearly wrong with the men in our culture. Among the first rules of manliness are fighting bad guys and protecting others: in a word, courage. And not a one of the healthy young fellows in the classrooms seems to have done that.

Dr. Sanity says Feminishness is a Word Whose Time Has Come for  a society with too much yin and not enough yang and quotes John Derbyshire, "PC is fem and its consequences are femmer..."

Mark Steyn writes A Culture of Passivity is an existential threat to our society
They’re not “children.” The students at Virginia Tech were grown women and — if you’ll forgive the expression — men. They would be regarded as adults by any other society in the history of our planet....it’s deeply damaging to portray fit fully formed adults as children who need to be protected. We should be raising them to understand that there will be moments in life when you need to protect yourself — and, in a “horrible” world, there may come moments when you have to choose between protecting yourself or others. It is a poor reflection on us that, in those first critical seconds where one has to make a decision, only an elderly Holocaust survivor, Professor Librescu, understood instinctively the obligation to act.

Have we become too passive, too afraid, too nice?  Is even the talk of self defense politically incorrect?  Where is it decreed we always have to wait for the police or the firemen when lives are in danger?

Michelle Malkin says
You want a safer campus? It begins with renewing a culture of self-defense—mind, spirit, and body. It begins with two words: Fight back.

The Anchoress  discusses with her son the various ways a random shooter could be taken down in "Throw a desk, a heavy book, make him flinch."

While Varifrank has the best guidelines of all in More Sparta, Less Athens.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:58 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Stop Taking Hormones

If you are menopausal, stop taking hormones.

Sharp drop in breast cancer victims tied to reduced hormone use.

"At first I didn't believe it — it was so astounding," said Donald Berry of the University of Texas, who led the analysis published in The New England Journal of Medicine. "But it really looks like it's a story that holds together."

"An awful lot of breast cancer was caused by doctors' prescriptions," said Larry Norton of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

Researchers said the findings should encourage more women to discontinue hormone use or take them at the lowest dose for the shortest time necessary.

"These data add to the message that we really should be discouraging women from initiating menopausal hormones," said Marcia Stefanick of Stanford University. "We need to stop underplaying those risks. They are very real."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:25 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

April 18, 2007

Blasting Emergency Warnings

The Wall St Journal reports today that state-of-the-art systems can blast mass warnings to cellphones and PCs, Texting When There's Trouble.

With administrators at Virginia Tech facing hard questions about how long it took them to notify students after the first killings in Monday's shooting rampage there, emergency communication is sure to become a pressing issue nationwide.

The ubiquity of relatively new technologies allows electronic alerts to reach more people faster than ever before. In the aftermath of several recent disasters -- including the tsunami in South Asia, Hurricane Katrina on the Gulf Coast, and the terrorist attacks in New York, London and Madrid -- a growing number of governments, communities, school systems and universities have begun using automated electronic-alert systems that can send voice, email or text messages to residents and students, in addition to traditional broadcast emergency messages. The services mean that people no longer need to be listening to radio, watching TV, logged on to their email or near a home phone to be warned of trouble.

That is precisely what I was speaking of in Why Weren't Students Notified  Colleges, cities and towns should be investigating, choosing and implementing such a system as quickly as possible.    The costs are minimal, the benefits great.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:37 PM | Permalink

Beer the Basis of Modern Civilization

"Beer is the basis of modern static civilization.  Because before beer was discovered, people used to wander around and follow goats from place to place. And then they realized that this grain [barley] could be grown and sprouted and made into a bread and crumbled and converted into a liquid which gave a nice, warm, cozy feeling. So gone were the days that they followed goats around. They stayed put while the grain grew and while the beer was brewed. And they made villages out of their tents. And those villages became towns, and those towns became cities. And so here we are in New York, thanks to beer.
He who drinks beer sleeps well. He who sleeps well cannot sin. He who does not sin goes to heaven.

Charlie Bamforth is the Anheuser-Busch Endowed Professor of Brewing Science at the University of California, Davis.

From Ale's Well with the World, Scientific American.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:08 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Rule #1 Always Wear a Seatbelt

I have three rules of life that have stood me in good stead.

1. Always wear a seatbelt.
2. Put the milk back in the refrigerator.
3. Be kind.

I became convinced of the first as a student in law school when a guest lecturer, a medical examiner, showed us photographs of people killed because of the forward motion of a body when a car hits theirs, even if it was going only 5 miles an hour, propelled them through a window or impaled them on a steering column.  Most car accidents take place within a few miles of home when people 'just running to the store to get a few things' don't think they need a seatbelt.  Then and there I vowed to always wear a seatbelt even if I was just going the block. 

To be killed because of not wearing a seatbelt seems to me to be an especially stupid way to die.

So when N.J. Governor Corzine, is gravely injured because  he was "thrown within the vehicle during the impact" because didn't  buckle-up in his car GOING 91 MILES AN HOUR IN A 65 MPH ZONE, I just have to think he's stupid or arrogant and thinking the rules don't apply to him. Everyone else in the car was buckled up.

Now I'm sorry he's so seriously injured, I don't wish any ill to happen to him, but what stupid behavior from a public official, and especially hypocritical since he proposed a mandatory seat belt law while a U.S. senator.

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

April 16, 2007

Virginia Tech Massacre. Why weren't students notified?

Back from being way all day and far from the Internet, I just learned about the horrific killings at Virginia Tech.  How terrified the students must have been.  How awful for the victims' families.  I can't imagine the shock their parents must feel after thinking their children were safe at college.  I can't imagine the shock and pain their friends and fellow students are going through.   

I join everyone in sorrow at this tragedy and in prayers for those touched by the shootings.

32 killed!  I don't understand the 2 hour lag between the first murder and the classroom murders. 

How  a heavily armed man could walk around campus without people noticing and calling security is beyond me. 

Why after bomb scares last week and a double murder at about 7:15, did it take 2 hours for school officials to warn students to "be cautious".

Two people killed and the gunman at large seems to me to warrant more than a "be cautious."    What was campus security doing?

We've seen Columbine.  We've been horrified at the Bestlan massacre.  Now we're seeing Virginia Tech.

How many more?

In an emergency being connected is more important than ever.  Why wasn't there an emergency communications plan for all  the students? The elements are all in place.  All students have phones and computers.  Why weren't all the students on a email, phone text message alert?

Any plan could have saved lives.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:08 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

April 14, 2007

One brave woman

In Saudi Arabia, a brave woman fights to show her face.

"My face, which is my identity"

Westerners cannot understand what kind of courage it takes to stand up to a lifetime of daily oppression, but a young Saudi woman, TV newscaster Buthayna Nasser, is stating her case without apology. In a face-to-face debate with Islamofascist Nasser Al-Huneini she states:

"Sir, when I appear on TV, and when I claim my right to play a role in this professional field, I demand that my face, which constitutes my identity, be seen. Under no circumstances am I prepared to allow my identity to be obliterated."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:31 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Women and Children First

Remember chivalry?

Charlotte Hays does in Paying Tribute to the Brave Men of the Titanic

Come Sunday it will be ninety-five years since that great ship the Titanic hit an iceberg and sank into the icy waters of the North Atlantic. A stunning statistic from the calamity reveals the ethos of the day: While seventy-four percent of the female passengers survived, eighty percent of the men aboard the tragic luxury liner perished. The rule for the lifeboats: women and children first.

Women and children first are indicative of a belief and hope in the future.  It's keeping young life and the possibility of more life alive.

Women and children first bespeaks a higher consciousness, one nurtured by the great legacy of western civilization, itself a product of Judeo-Christian religious thought evolved over centuries.

  Babycarriage War-1

It seems to me we are in danger of losing what was so hard-won,  the chivalry about which John Stuart Mill said

“Though the practice of chivalry fell even more sadly short of its theoretic standard than practice generally falls below theory, it remains one of the most precious monuments of the moral history of our race, as a remarkable instance of a concerted and organized attempt by a most disorganized and distracted society, to raise up and carry into practice a moral ideal greatly in advance of its social condition and institutions; so much so as to have been completely frustrated in the main object, yet never entirely inefficacious, and which has left a most sensible, and for the most part a highly valuable impress on the ideas and feelings of all subsequent times.

We are losing the sense of women and children first in the interests of "gender equality".   

Chivalry was once the foundation of the male code of ethics.  What is a man is supposed to be these days?  How do you transform testosterone and male strength into something other than violent aggression and sexual aggression,  in its milder forms, bullying,  meanness and contempt for women except as sexual objects?

G. Tracy Mehan looks at what happens when when Groping for God and Country ----and School becomes expected, even required.

Maybe we need Chivalry now.  Dean Jacques thinks so.  He writes about Modern Chivalry and sees Chivalry Now as a way for men to reclaim their souls.  Think of Chivalry-Now is a  the counterpoint to the feminism movement.
a  philosophical partner that heals the wounds of the male gender, just as feminism heals the wounds of women.
Chivalry-Now provides a voice that speaks to the inner needs of men to help them comply with a world that has changed significantly in the last hundred years. It gives them a place of value in society, because it focuses on truth and courage, honor and compassion, along with healthy, more courteous relationships with women, and with men for that matter.

I like what he had to say about this Age of Distraction

We don't need another distraction from doing what we have to do. As a society, it's time we grow up. We have to take away the glamour of doing what is wrong. We have to stop rewarding anti-social behavior. We have to develop a culture that is more humane. We have to start with the choices we make every day, and not allow ourselves to be distracted from the truth.  We need the moral integrity to withdraw our support, no matter how passive, of what is wrong.

So many men and boys are yearning for something more, something that validates their very maleness.  Seems to me, nothing tops chivalry and the bravery of women and children first.   

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:59 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

April 13, 2007

Winning the Lottery and Losing Your Family

So you think winning the lottery will solve your problems.

Jack Whittaker did and he won $315 million on Christmas Day  2002.

...as Whittaker celebrated his good fortune, he had no way of knowing that he was embarking on a journey that would lead to tragedy and the loss of everything he held dear.

Powerball Winner Says He's Cursed

Whittaker now says that he regrets winning the lottery.

"Since I won the lottery, I think there is no control for greed," he said. "I think if you have something, there's always someone else that wants it. I wish I'd torn that ticket up."

Whittaker had the very best of intentions: He truly wanted to share his good fortune and help people.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:35 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

All female conception

The prospect of all-female conception

The results also raise the prospect of being able to take bone-marrow tissue from women and coaxing the stem cells within the female tissue to develop into sperm cell,..

Creating sperm from women would mean they would only be able to produce daughters because the Y chromosome of male sperm would still be needed to produce sons...

"Theoretically is it possible," Professor Nayernia said. "The problem is whether the sperm cells are functional or not. I don't think there is an ethical barrier, so long as it's safe. We are in the process of applying for ethical approval.

Which brings to mind that old feminist slogan  "A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle." which I always considered a gratuitous form of male-bashing that I've always considered mindless and stupid.

  Woman Bicycle

Interestingly, bicycles were considered a symbol of female emancipation, a "freedom machine" for women.  Susan B. Anthony said in an interview in 1896,

"Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives women a feeling of freedom and self-reliance. I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel...the picture of free, untrammelled womanhood."

She had no idea what "untrammelled womanhood" could be, 120 years later.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:08 PM | Permalink

How to pare down too many possessions

"Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful"

William Morris in an 1880 lecture on The Beauty of LIfe.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:42 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

April 12, 2007

"Eventually - what a luxurious word"

'Two to three months," the doctor said, almost reluctantly, when I finally posed the question. That's eight to twelve weeks. Sixty to 90 days. Or 2,160 hours, if you want to get right down to it.

Eventually - what a luxurious word.

A 39-year -old columnist, living with cancer,  says Focusing on present matters most.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:00 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

The Emotion of the Mysterious

The most beautiful emotion we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead, a snuffed-out candle. To sense that behind anything that can be experienced there is something that our minds cannot grasp, whose beauty and sublimity reaches us only indirectly: this is religiousness. In this sense, and in this sense only, I am a devoutly religious man.

Albert Einstein

From Einstein & Faith by Walter isaacson,  an excerpt from his newly published book Einstein: His Life and Universe.

Below is the Albert Einstein Memorial in front of the National Academy of Science in Washington, sculpted by my friend, Bob Berks.  Einstein is contemplating the universe spread out before his feet.

  Einstein Memorial

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

April 11, 2007


Through their imaginative visions, artists can give us hints of possible  futures our society, but satirists do it best.  Think Animal Farm, 1984, Jonathan Swift, the Onion and Steven Colbert.

Christopher Buckley's new book, Boomsday,  comically depicts the coming intergenerational war as boomers retire and collect on their entitlements funded by an increasing taxes on younger folks.

Robert Samuelson takes note that 'Boomsday' is Approaching

Cassandra Devine knows how to solve the coming "entitlements'' crisis, preordained when the 77 million baby boomers begin hitting 65 in 2011: Pay retirees to kill themselves, a program she calls "transitioning.'' Volunteers could receive a lavish vacation beforehand ("a farewell honeymoon''), courtesy of the government, and their heirs would be spared the estate tax. If only 20 percent of boomers select suicide before the age of 70, she says, "Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid will be solvent. End of crisis.''

OK, Devine is a 29-year-old fictional blogger in Christopher Buckley's satirical novel "Boomsday.''
Buckley's comic tale revolves around two truths usually buried in our dreary budget debates.

First, a generational backlash is inevitable...
Second, boomers will want even more benefits.

Baby Boomers,'' says Buckley's Devine, "made self-indulgence a virtue.'' Sure, that's a stereotype, but for opinion leaders and politicians, it is uncomfortably accurate

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

Coffee, Cigarettes and Parkinson's

From the New Scientist, Do coffee and cigarettes protect against Parkinson's?

People with Parkinson's disease are less likely to be smokers and coffee drinkers than their healthy siblings, according to a study of family members. The finding adds to a growing body of evidence that some substance in tobacco might protect the brain against this devastating neurological disorder and sheds new light on coffee's effects on the disease.

One possible mechanism involves a signalling chemical in the brain called dopamine. The death of dopamine-producing cells in the brain appears to drive the progression of Parkinson's disease, and both smoking and drinking coffee can raise levels of the chemical.

Scott emphasises that the results of his study should not give anyone an excuse to start smoking. He says that the well-established risks of smoking – such as developing lung cancer or having a heart attack – "absolutely" outweigh any potential protection it might offer against Parkinson's.

"And relative to lung disease and heart disease, Parkinson's disease is far less common," he adds.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:14 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

April 10, 2007

My Generation by The Zimmers and geriatric 1927

You may know him as geriatric 1927 , Peter Oakley, the Englishman who became an unexpected star on YouTube when he began telling his life story in videos.

Now he's "the new old age happening". Now he's going to be a music star  as he tells us himself and lets the secret out with a message from the old people to the youth of the world.

We are old.  We are here. We have much to contribute. We object to the abuse that sometimes happens to old people.

At the behest of the BBC, he's sings "Talking About My Generation" by the Who and backed up by a geriatric chorus with an average age of 78, called the Zimmers.    A CD was produced at Abbey Roads Studio by Mike Hedges with a release date for the CD is May 28th,  proceeds going to age-concerned charities.  He's hoping it climbs the charts to get the message out.

that's your cue.

I watched the slide show and the video here on MySpace.

It's fabulous.

Big thanks to Hootsbuddy

Update.  Buster is part of the band!  I know Buster.  He's the 100-year-old man who fought off a gang of muggers.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:07 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Could Bacteria Lessen Depression?

Good bacteria and bad bacteria in An unexpected explanation for the rise of depression.

BACTERIA cause disease. The idea that they might also prevent disease is counterintuitive. Yet that is the hypothesis Chris Lowry, of Bristol University, and his colleagues are putting forward in Neuroscience. They think a particular sort of bacterium might alleviate clinical depression.

And it all began with a chance observation an oncologist had while using an experimental treatment for lung cancer.

To find out what was going on, Dr Lowry turned to mice. His hypothesis was that the immune response to M. vaccae induces the brain to produce serotonin. This molecule is a neurotransmitter (a chemical messenger between nerve cells) and one symptom of depression is low levels of it.

So we have a study "intriguing for two reasons."
1. the possibility of a vaccination against depression.
2.  a new line of inquiry as to why depression is becoming more common.

One explanation for the rise of these two conditions is the hygiene hypothesis. This suggests a lack of childhood exposure to harmless bugs is leading to improperly primed immune systems, which then go on to look for trouble where none exists.

I wrote last year in  Can We Be Too Clean?  Apparently so.  Clean living may make us sick and depressed.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:34 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Good News from Caterpillars

Caterpillar grows 'safe' flu vaccine.

A flu vaccine grown in caterpillar cells instead of the usual risky and uncertain method based on chicken eggs is not only safe but effective in people, US researchers reported.

They said their findings suggest a possible short-cut to making flu vaccines, focusing on a single protein in the flu virus.

Now, flu vaccines are reformulated every year to match the three most common strains of circulating flu virus.

The virus must be taken from people, purified, and grown in fertilized chicken eggs.

The process takes months and can easily go wrong.

Cell-culture methods can slice one or two months off the production process, Dr Treanor said.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:16 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Once Great Britain

Today in Britain one in five young people rely on handouts

A lost generation

Roughly one in five young people faces a lifetime on government handouts, under-achieving in education and runs the risk of falling into crime, says a report by the London School of Economics for the Prince's Trust charity.

Dennis Prager says Britain Was Once Great Britain

If Great Britain can cease to be great in so short a time span, any country can. All you need is an elite that no longer believes in their country, that manipulates history texts to make students feel good about themselves, that prefers multiculturalism to its own culture, and that has abandoned its religious underpinnings.

UPDATE: Melanie Phillips writes Weep for Britain

After reading Andrew Robert's A History of the English-speaking Peoples Since 1900.

The central argument of the book is that in these last hundred years the English-speaking peoples have not merely formed the most successful, powerful, creative, inventive and dynamic societies on the planet but have embodied uplifting moral virtues, subscribing to notions of collective altruism, decency, courage, gallantry, stoicism and self-sacrifice which derived at root from the profound belief that what they stood for was right.

Almost every page of this book is painful to read, because to be invited to admire these virtues of the English-speaking world is to recognise the sheer magnitude and irreplaceability of what we have lost. These virtues, which enabled the English-speaking world to triumph over the despotisms of German nationalism, fascism, and communism and brought down tyrannies over four continents, belong to a culture that has now simply vanished.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:30 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

April 9, 2007

Stop Dieting

Those of you who have never dieted or have given up dieting will take cheer in  the new study that shows diets damage health

The analysis, published in the journal American Psychologist, concluded dieters may actually be damaging their health.

Research has shown the repeated rapid weight gain and loss associated with dieting can double the risk of death from heart disease, including heart attacks, and the risk of premature death in general.

Such yo-yo weight loss has also been linked to stroke and diabetes and shown to suppress the immune system, making the body more vulnerable to infection.

Dr Mann said: "We decided to dig up and analyse every study that followed people on diets for two to five years. We concluded most of them would have been better off not going on the diet at all.

"Their weight would have been pretty much the same, and their bodies would not suffer the wear and tear from losing weight and gaining it all back.

"The benefits of dieting are simply too small and the potential harms of dieting are too large for it to be recommended as a safe and effective treatment for obesity."

People who want to lose weight just have to change into eating a healthy balanced diet and exercise.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:16 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Too positive, too true

Hero's Tale is 'too positive' for the BBC.

Private Johnson Beharry's courage in rescuing an ambushed foot patrol then, in a second act, saving his vehicle's crew despite his own terrible injuries earned him a Victoria Cross.

For the BBC, however, his story is "too positive" about the conflict.

The corporation has cancelled the commission for a 90-minute drama about Britain's youngest surviving Victoria Cross hero because it feared it would alienate members of the audience opposed to the war in Iraq.

The BBC is now fighting in court to suppress and keep secret an internal report into its coverage of the mideast and in particular its bias against Israel

What's going on in Britain?

Now schools in the U.K. are dropping controversial subjects such as the Holocaust and the Crusades to avoid giving offense to some children from "certain races and religions."

What's the problem with the truth?

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:28 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

When You Fly

The Consumerist tells us Don't Fly Without a Copy of Rule 240 and gives us links to the rules of the major airlines.

These rules  the conditions of carriage which specify the circumstances in which you are entitled to airline compensation.

Don't depend on the agents to know their own rules.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:50 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

April 7, 2007

Ignoring Lessons Learned from Heart Disease

A serious heart attack is as much of an emergency as being shot.

“We deal with it as if it is a gunshot wound to the heart,” Dr. Antman said.

Cardiologists call it the golden hour, that window of time when they have a chance to save most of the heart muscle when an artery is blocked.

Don't think of a clutching your heart pain like you see in the movies.  Consider pressure, a feeling of heaviness, shortness of breath.

Most patients describe something like Mr. Orr’s symptoms — discomfort in the chest that may, or may not, radiate into the arms or neck, the back, the jaw, or the stomach. Many also have nausea or shortness of breath. Or they break out in a cold sweat, or have a feeling of anxiety or impending doom, or have blue lips or hands or feet, or feel a sudden exhaustion.

But symptoms often are less distinctive in elderly patients, especially women. Their only sign may be
a sudden feeling of exhaustion just walking across a room. Some say they broke out in a sweat. Afterward, they may recall a feeling of pressure in their chest or pain radiating from their chest but at the time, they say, they paid little attention.

The time in getting to an emergency room in time for treatment hasn't changed in 10 years - it's still 110 minutes,  one hour and 50 minutes.

People drive themselves to the ER or get a friend to do so. And then they wait to get triaged.  They don't come in with sirens blazing, treatment already started, and jump to the head of the line.

They don't call 911 because of embarrassment.  Said Dr. Skopp
“But it is better to be checked out and find out it’s not a problem than to have a problem and not have the therapy,” he said.

The ideal treatment you want is angioplasty, the ideal treatment.

Second best is  a clot-dissolving drug like tPA even though it opens up only 60-70%  of blocked arteries and kills 1 out of 200 patients with a stroke to the brain.

Dr. Antman has a message for patients: With a disease as serious as heart disease, those who take responsibility are often the ones who survive.

Having a heart attack, even if it turns out well, as his did, is a life-altering experience, Mr. Orr said.

The New York Times follows Keith Orr, 44, who thought he was doing great, what with his improved diet and exercise and all,  so he stopped taking his medications. Luckily,  he was in Boston.  Lessons of Heart Disease, Learned and Ignored.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:50 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

April 5, 2007

Flu, Guns and Swimming Pools.

John Stossel calls the media, part of the Fear Industrial Complex, because they profit from scaring us to death. 

Of course, they feature abducted children, shark attacks, nightmare scenarios about global warming because they are good stories and ratings soar.    Reporters and writers were likely English majors, not math majors and they are clueless when it comes to statistics assessing risk.. He calls them "statistically illiterate."

We should Worry About the Right Things, Stossel says.

Ordinary flu kills 36,000 people a year in the USA
Bird flu has killed 0.

Swimming pools are more dangerous to children than guns.
A child is 100 times more likely to die in a swimming pool than in  a gun accident.

Cars are the most dangerous things around.  About 36,500 were killed in car accidents last year, about 100/day.

So take our reporting with heavy skepticism. Ignore us when we hyperventilate about mad cow disease and the danger of asbestos hidden behind a wall.

Instead, worry about what's worth worrying about: driving, acting reckless, smoking cigarettes, drinking too much, and eating too much.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:36 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

An Easter Message from an Agnostic

Andrew Bolt's Easter Message   A surprising message from an agnostic.

..when I see a Western artist mock Christ, I see an artist advertising not his courage but his cowardice – by not daring to mock what would threaten him more.
It's no accident that we feel safer insulting Christians than trashing almost anyone else. This is a religion that's always preached tolerance, reason and non-violence.

This is one reason why I, an agnostic, will today do what I do every Easter, and play Bach's divine St Matthew Passion while I sit for a while and give thanks.

I will be thanking again not only a preacher of astonishing moral clarity and courage, but one who inspired a faith that has brought us unparalleled gifts...

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:42 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

April 4, 2007

YouTube winners and the Little Girl Giant

Here it Goes Again was the top winner in the first annual YouTube Video Awards.  You can see the winners and the runners-up.

Most creative  Here It Goes Again - 14 million viewers which is not even close to the all time winner for most times viewed- some 45 million of them -Evolution of Dance.

I loved  the enchanting Little Girl Giant at Hootsbuddy's Place and soon clicked to read more about  The Saga of the Giants.  3 Quarks Daily tells the story beautifully.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:25 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

April 2, 2007

Praise Junkies are Harming Their Kids

Parents praise their kids too much and their children are responding with a stunning lack of confidence in their ability to tackle new challenges.    Surprisingly, it's often criticism that conveys a positive belief in a child's ability to do better.

If you want your above average child to do well, don't praise them for their intelligence, but for their effort and their persistence.

So concludes Carol Dweck and her team at Columbia. According to a survey they conducted,
85 percent of American parents think it’s important to tell their kids that they’re smart. In and around the New York area, according to my own (admittedly nonscientific) poll, the number is more like 100 percent.
Giving kids the label of “smart” does not prevent them from underperforming. It might actually be causing it.
Dweck’s research on overpraised kids strongly suggests that image maintenance becomes their primary concern—they are more competitive and more interested in tearing others down. A raft of very alarming studies illustrate this.

The Power and Peril of Praising Your Kids

Also cited in the article is Dr. Roy Baumeister, a former proponent of  self-esteem.

After reviewing those 200 studies, Baumeister concluded that having high self-esteem didn’t improve grades or career achievement. It didn’t even reduce alcohol usage. And it especially did not lower violence of any sort. (Highly aggressive, violent people happen to think very highly of themselves, debunking the theory that people are aggressive to make up for low self-esteem.) At the time, Baumeister was quoted as saying that his findings were “the biggest disappointment of my career.”
He will soon publish an article showing that for college students on the verge of failing in class, esteem-building praise causes their grades to sink further. Baumeister has come to believe the continued appeal of self-esteem is largely tied to parents’ pride in their children’s achievements:

It doesn't take long for kids to discount praise and to consider it as a sign that they lack ability.

Psychologist Wulf-Uwe Meyer, a pioneer in the field, conducted a series of studies where children watched other students receive praise. According to Meyer’s findings, by the age of 12, children believe that earning praise from a teacher is not a sign you did well—it’s actually a sign you lack ability and the teacher thinks you need extra encouragement. And teens, Meyer found, discounted praise to such an extent that they believed it’s a teacher’s criticism—not praise at all—that really conveys a positive belief in a student’s aptitude.

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April 1, 2007

A Miracle and an Angel

Sister Marie Simon Pierre is a simple nun with an incredible story she's prepared to tell the world, a story that well lead to the beatification of Pope John Paul II.

Under the Vatican's saint-making process, the first step towards beatification requires that a candidate must either be a martyr or  perform one verfiable posthumous miracle.

Sister Marie Simon Pierre  was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 2001, a condition that worsened over the years and felt a strong affinity to Pope John Paul II who suffered from the same disease.  Both she and her community of the Little Sisters of Catholic Maternities prayed for her healing and for  the intercession of John Paul.

Weeks after his death, she awoke one night completely cured.

International Herald Tribune
Simple nun, 'no star', at center of Pope John Paul Beatification

London Times Online
The discreet little nun who could speed John Paul to Sainthood

by the time the Pope died in April 2005, she was unable to stand or walk. She had stopped working as a nurse in a Paris maternity hospital and was confined to office activities.

Two months later she tried to write down John Paul II’s name as she prayed to him for help “but all that came out was a scribble,” she said in an account sent to the Vatican.

However, that evening, the “miracle” occurred.

“I fell asleep and, waking up several hours later, felt that the illness had disappeared,” said Sister Marie-Simon-Pierre.

She leapt out of bed and went to the chapel to pray.

“I felt a profound sense of peace and wellbeing. My hand did not tremble anymore.” Four days later the doctor who had been treating her for four years declared that the symptoms had vanished completely, with no medical explanation.

Father Slawomir Oder, the Polish prelate in charge of John Paul II’s beatification claim, said handwriting experts had compared the nun’s “illegible scribble” on the day of her prayer with her “perfectly legible and comprehensible” writing the next morning. He said doctors in France had become convinced of the miraculous nature of her cure. Psychologists had also conducted tests to prove she had no psychiatric problems.

You have to see this picture of The Ghostly Angel of the Vatican.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:32 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Horrifying Persecution of Christians

Little reported in the coverage of the Iraq war is the internal war by Arab and Muslim islamists on the Assyrian Christian community.  They are Assyrians, speaking Aramaic, the language Jesus spoke, sometimes called Syriacs or Chaldeans.   

This is what the Islamists or Muslim militants, righteous and violent murdering gangs of men, have done to the Iraqi Christians since the Iraq war began.

They have bombed 28 churches.
They have murdered hundreds of Christians.
They have beheaded a priest in Mosul.
They have crucified a 14-year-old Christian boy in Basra.
They have kidnapped a woman's baby in Baghad and, when she couldn't pay the ransom, they returned her child, beheaded, roasted and served on a mound of rice.

Read Ed West's We must not let this ancient Church slide into oblivion 
just to be aware of what's happening.

From Palestine, to Iraq, to Iran and Pakistan, Christians who have  lived in the middle East are leaving for fear of their lives in ever increasing numbers.

Via Little Green Footballs

American Catholic bishops have called for asylum for Iraqi Christians

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