This is a hard post to write because the words themselves have a certain finality that's not here yet. My 85-year-old mother last fall had abdominal pains that, after a visit to the emergency room and a CAT scan, turned out to be colon cancer. Surgery followed a couple of days later and we were encouraged to think that the tumor blocking her colon had been completely excised and her colon stitched back together.
Recovery was slow but seemed complete and while she had lost lots of weight despite my cooking, she was back bopping around in her sports car. About a month ago, she began having abdominal pains again. It was the cancer back. She doesn't want chemotherapy at her age which seems to me to be quite sensible, so the focus has been on reducing her pain.
My sister Colleen is a nurse and immediately took medical leave from her job to come out for the duration which she counts as a privilege and a blessing to be able to do since her two daughters, my nieces Jessica and Chrissy are away from home, in college. My brother Kevin, his wife Melinda and two daughters, Taylor and Lucy, live in the same town as my mother as do I just two blocks away. For Mother's Day, Colly's husband Robin came, brother Billy came from Switzerland and brother Robby and his wife Jennifer with their two baby girls, 21/2 and 4 months, Zoe and Adia from California.
We all had a lovely time, my mother included, playing with the babies and looking at old family and childhood photos, about 1200 of them that I had digitized so every one could have a copy and telling stories. Now numbering about 16, we had a delicious Mother's Day lunch at a local restaurant.
In many ways we are very blessed. Mom -we call her Ruth - is completely herself, if much frailer and more tired. She laughs, makes jokes, gives orders, goes through her mail, makes calls, gets her hair done, and is forever putting Vinny her beloved Jack Russell terrier out when he's in and bringing him in when he's out and making sure he gets all three of his dinners. She carried long term care insurance for in-home care because she hates being in the hospital even though she too is a nurse and never wanted to go into a nursing home. Now the benefits are apparent because she's home where she wants to be and Colly is even being paid, making up for some of her lost income. Colly got a new MacBook, put in wireless, got a new bike and is testing some of Ruth's best, baking recipes and I'm going to make a book out if it.
We have an elevator in the house which my parents put in about 15 years ago when my sister Debby, wheel-chair bound with multiple sclerosis, was living at home. So Mom still uses her bedroom and bath but can come down easily to the kitchen, the living room, office and yard during the day. Heat gives her the most tactile relief for her abdominal pains so she sits with a heating pad at her back, holding a hot water bottle against her stomach, a heat sandwich.
Two weeks later it's a different story. Hospice has started and they have been wonderful, delivering my mother's exponentially increasing pain medications, an assigned nurse, Peggy, who visits several times a week to check on her status and making sure we have everything we need. Since Ruth was only eating about 300-500 calories a day, she was becoming even thinner although her pain does seem to be under control.
"Two to four weeks" we were told in one of Colleen's daily emails to all concerned. In just a few days, Robby was back from the West Coast, Billy from Geneva, and Julie, my youngest sister, due in Tuesday.
Her affairs and finances are all in order so there's nothing to be done there. My mother is enjoying lots of visitors, family and friends alike, basking in all the love and banter, sometimes glowing. The weather is beautiful. My brothers have found projects to do around the house and yard. Patty, Colleen's dear friend from Florida is visiting for week and cleaning up gardens, planting the window boxes, and impatiens in every corner. We all eat dinner together that one of us makes or takeout and we have cases of beer in the garage so we'll never run out. These are wonderful times for the family. The loss will come soon enough.
This is the way to go, a vigorous old age and a fast decline, at home surrounded by family and people who love you.
St. Joseph's Catholic school is the only Catholic school in New York City that has an open enrollment policy accepting any child regardless of faith, academic ability or emotional stability; yet, 95% of its students graduate in four years.
Mary Anastasia O'Grady reports on the music and
the sheer joy that had filled that school hall. It dawned on me that what had made my heart sing wasn't the trumpets or the flutes. It was the sound of 210 children, from one of the roughest neighborhoods in New York, beating the odds
St. Joseph's is a run-of-the-mill four-story structure of yellow brick. Like so many buildings in its neighborhood, it has heavy wire mesh covering the windows at street level. But what's on the inside of that ordinary schoolhouse makes it special. For the 491 Hispanic, African-American and West Indian students who attend kindergarten through eighth grade, it is a place of safety, structure and promise in a dangerous and disorderly world. The school band, which is mandatory for all students from fifth to eighth grade, reflects the discipline and sense of accomplishment that are synonymous with St. Joseph's student body.
Eighty percent of the children at the school are from single-parent homes or live with their grandparents; 85% live in Section 8 housing; and for 60% of them, English is not their first language. Most come from New York's notorious South Bronx, where the city's schools seem to devour the innocent. "The public schools in this area aren't good," the mother of a third-grader on scholarship was quoted as saying in St. Joseph's December newsletter. "The kids there grow up too fast. I wanted my son to go to a Catholic school." No wonder. Only 58% of New York's public school students graduate in four years, but the number is 95% for St. Joseph's students.
St. Joseph's and other Catholic schools, no longer staffed by nuns, are able to do it because of the generosity of private donors, many of them Wall St executives. Those who can give more do, like retired hedge-fund manager Robert Wilson, a self-proclaimed atheist who gave $22.5 million to the Archdiocese of New York to fund a scholarship program for needy inner-city students attending Roman Catholic schools.
In a phone interview, Wilson said,
`Let's face it, without the Roman Catholic Church, there would be no Western civilization. Shunning religious organizations would be abhorrent. Keep in mind, I'm helping to pay tuition.
Hats off to St. Joseph's and Robert Wilson.
Sweden has long been ahead of other countries in exploring new ways to insure diversity, support multiculturalism and gender equality with such vigor that British historian called them The New Totalitarians.
So maybe it's not surprising that young boys in pre-school and kindergarten are sometimes forced to wear dresses and use girls' names.
The noted Swedish blogger Fjordman reports a story by Swedish journalist Todd Lundgren who inveighs against recommendations by the Swedish Teachers' Union for pre-school teachers to promote gender and sexual equality among the very very young.
“A three-year-old doesn’t have to learn queer theory, a four-year-old shouldn’t have to be force-fed lectures on gay sex by some sex freak from the Teachers’ Union. Children are supposed to play and discover their roles entirely on their own. Children are defenseless and shouldn’t be exposed to indoctrination, neither regarding sex nor politics.
When Lundgren received a email threatening to report him to the police for what he had written, Lundgren replied
“To give sex education to preschool children, to force them to have an opinion on gay sex and queer (lesbians, transsexuals, bisexuality, fetishism, cross over, sex change etc.) I regard as abuse of children. (…) Little children, we are talking about three to six-year-olds here, cannot in the preschool protect themselves from these sexual assaults. Their parents are not there, the children are totally left to themselves.
One commenter said
“My 13-year-old son had ‘equality day’ [in school] and had to listen to a transvestite. I have myself never encountered or talked to one during my considerably longer life. Why is this important? Today’s children know nothing about the crimes of Communism, but everything about the sexual orientation of transvestites.”
"I know of no disease that is as common or as serious as stroke and where you basically have one therapy and it’s only used in 3 to 4 percent of patients. That’s like saying you only treat 3 to 4 percent of patients with bacterial pneumonia with antibiotics.”
Dr. Mark Alberts, neurology professor at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University calls the situation where people don't recognize they are having a stroke and most hospitals, uncertain about stroke diagnoses, don't provide tPA , the only effective drug against stroke, "a national embarrassment".
Stroke kills 150,000 Americans each year, the third leading cause of death after heart disease and cancer, and leaves many more permanently disabled. With tPA (tissue plasminogen activator), one in three victims of stroke escaped serious injury. One problem is the clot-busting tPA must be administered within three hours of the stroke to be effective.
As I wrote before in Just a Minute, Save a Life, even lay people can diagnose a stroke in 60 seconds if they remember SRS, Smile, Raise, Speak.
• Ask the individual to SMILE
• Ask him or her to RAISE BOTH ARMS
• Ask the person to SPEAK A SIMPLE SENTENCE
If he or she has trouble with any of these tasks, call 9-1-1 immediately and describe the symptoms to the dispatcher. Researchers are urging the general public to learn to ask these three questions quickly, to someone they suspect of having a stroke. Widespread use of this test could result in prompt diagnosis and treatment of a stroke, and prevent permanent brain damage.
It may take 12-15 years before the screening in widely available for every patient, but a "trawling technique" that assesses 200,000 blocks of DNA simultaneously instead of one by one promises to identify the genes that cause cancer so preventative treatment can begin.
Bill Whittle in another of his brilliant essays convincingly demonstrates that Tit for Tat is the best strategy for the Prisoner's Dilemma. You have to punish the cheaters, those that take advantage of the common trust, in order to preserve an environment where people cooperate.
Then ask yourself whether you are part of The Remnant - those people whose force of character hold civilization together and when it's destroyed, rebuild it.
I'm so delighted to have access to my blogs again even though I've lost all my draft posts, no doubt my most brilliant. I'm off to my Smith College reunion in an hour or two and looking forward to seeing all my classmates and to learn what's happened in their lives.
Here's a picture of me and friends on Ivy Day, some years ago. I'm the one on the right in the shadow.
Sorry for the lack of posts. While I have a lot to blog about, a catastropic software meltdown of my computer has me scrambling to restore settings, software, email, notes and former entries from my back-up. I'll post as soon as I can
Are far are pro-choice people willing to extend choice? How far does a woman's right to choose extend before some balk? When a child may have Down's Syndrome? When a child is not the sex the woman wants? What if they discover the gene that predisposes a child to homosexuality, should a woman be allowed to abort?
Mollie at Get Religion explores when choice and diversity collide in a post that sheds new light on the abortion debate.
And many are finding that, while they support a woman’s right to have an abortion if she does not want to have a baby, they are less comfortable when abortion is used by women who don’t want to have a particular baby.
“How much choice do you really want to give?” asked Arthur Caplan, chairman of the department of medical ethics at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. “That’s the challenge of prenatal testing to pro-choicers.”
Not only is Buckley one of the funniest writers around, he's hit upon a subject that makes everyone squirm, the possibility of intergenerational warfare between profligate Baby Boomers and younger Americans who don't want to be stuck paying the bill. Cassandra, a 29 year old blogger, proposes that boomers at age 70 kill themselves in exchange for tax breaks, a lively way indeed, to get people talking about the looming social security crisis.
Buckley tosses off lines that have me laughing out loud. How's this for a description of politicians - "The usual Washington chest thumping and pecker flexing."
In Britain, it's now okay for fertility clinics to mix human and animal cells together for medical research.
Chimera is the word to describe a being made of the parts of multiple animals, Frankenstein seems to come closer to describe this bastard procedure. Of course, Frankenstein was the creator, the creature he made he described as 'fiend', 'wretched devil', 'vile insect' and 'abhorred monster.'
Supposedly, the human-animal embryos will help medical research which seems to be the rationale that trumps all objections.
Artist Patricia Piccini envisons such a mix
UPDATE: The view from Rome:
"The creation of a hybrid animal-human embryo has been banned by everyone in the biotechnology field, until now -- and not just by religious groups," Bishop Sgreccia said. "This is because human dignity is compromised and offended and monstrosities will be created from these inseminations.
Bishop Sgreccia said he hopes that the international scientific community continues to hold the line, to defend "the conservation and respect of the species."
"The fact is that there was no reason to do this. If they are looking for stem cells in order to cure Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, there is no need to create a hybrid animal-human embryo, because there are adult stem cells, and stem cells in umbilical cords and those in the adult male to be able to battle these frontiers in faith."
"The scientist who is only worried about advancing his research does not take into consideration the anthropological and philosophical factors, like respect for nature and the natural order.
From Medpundit, the Vitamin D Connection.
In June, U.S. researchers will announce the first direct link between cancer prevention and the "sunshine vitamin". First she quotes from a Globe and Mail story that costs $5 to read, so I'm going along with her excerpt.
A four-year clinical trial involving 1,200 women found those taking the vitamin had about a 60-per-cent reduction in cancer incidence, compared with those who didn't take it, a drop so large — twice the impact on cancer attributed to smoking — it almost looks like a typographical error.
One of the researchers who made the discovery, professor of medicine Robert Heaney of Creighton University in Nebraska, says vitamin D deficiency is showing up in so many illnesses besides cancer that nearly all disease figures in Canada and the U.S. will need to be re-evaluated. "We don't really know what the status of chronic disease is in the North American population," he said, "until we normalize vitamin D status."
We'll need to see the numbers to know how jaw dropping that 60 percent reduction is. However, here's some food thought. Cholesterol is the building block for Vitamin D. And what have we been preaching - and doing - to patients even more emphatically than sun avoidance? Lowering cholesterols to very low levels.
That's probably why my doctor insists I take vitamin D along with my 10 mg dose of Zocor.
Important advice that bears repeating, You Don't Have to Be Einstein to Get Rich.
Intelligence is not the most important factor. "Staying married, not getting divorced and thinking about savings" is. So says Ohio State economics professor Jay Zagorsky after studying 7500 middle-aged Americans.
"Intelligence is not a factor for explaining wealth. Those with low intelligence should not believe they are handicapped, and those with high intelligence should not believe they have an advantage."
Dawn Eden, author of the Thrill of the Chaste, is receiving well-deserved praise and recognition for her counter-cultural stand on chastity.
One reviewer wrote,
Part memoir, part self-help guide, The Thrill of the Chaste provides a joyous rebuttal to a culture obsessed with sex.
One of the biggest hurdles toward advancing the virtues of a chaste lifestyle is the widely accepted dichotomy between the notion that people who engage in wanton sex are mentally healthy and 'sexually liberated,' and the idea that people who abstein are 'sexually repressed' and only refrain due to some unresolved neurosis. Eden brilliantly illustrates how what is commonly defined as 'liberation' is really a kind of enslavement, since in order to participate in this lifestyle, one has to set up all sorts of emotional and psychological barricades, the likes of which, she reports from experience, are very difficult to overcome. Similarly, by presenting the happiness and self-respect gained from chastity, she punctures the lie that abstinence is unnatural and unhealthy.
Essentially, then, for me, the major difference between experiencing romantic disappointment without faith and experiencing it with faith is a refusal to increase in bitterness. It may seem easier to slide into bitterness than to fight its onset, but I've experienced enough bitterness to know that it's not a condition in which I would want to remain ; not if there's the slightest chance I might instead learn to better love my neighbor.
Theodore Dalrymple in another brilliant essay on The Virtue of Freedom, speaking of Tony Blair's legacy
But his government has created 3,000 new criminal offences in ten years, that is to say more than one per working day, when all along the problem in Britain was not a insufficiency of laws, but a lack of will to enforce those that we had. The law is now so needlessly complex,  and so many laws and regulations are promulgated weekly, daily, hourly, without any parliamentary oversight, that is to say by administrative decree appropriate to a dictatorship, that lawyers themselves are overwhelmed by them and do not understand them. There could be no better recipe for the development of a police state.
The average Briton, for example, is photographed 300 times per day as he goes about his normal, humdrum existence
The assault on freedom in Britain in the name of social welfare is an illustration of something that the American founding fathers understood, but that is not very congenial to the temper of our times: that in the long run, only a population that strives for virtue (with at least a degree of success) will be able to maintain its freedom. A nation whose individuals choose vice rather than virtue as the guiding principle of their lives will not long remain free, because it will need rescuing from the consequences of its own vices.
In Britain, it is not so very long ago that most - of course not all - people had an idea of virtue that was intensely focussed on their own individual conduct, irrespective of whether they were rich or poor. People did not in general believe that poverty excused very much. One of the destructive consequences of the spread of sociological modes of thought is that it has transferred the notion of virtue from individuals to social structures, and in so doing has made personal striving for virtue (as against happiness) not merely unnecessary but ridiculous and even bad, insofar as it diverted attention from the real task at hand, that of creating the perfect society: the society so perfect, as T S Eliot put it, that no one will have to be good.
Dalrymple understands that under the guise of solving serious social problems, immense control over the population can be achieved and brand new bureaucracies created to serve the "victims'.
Social problems, when they are on a sufficiently large scale, create two large classes of dependents: those who are dependent on the government because of their own behaviour, and those who are employed by the government to alleviate the inevitable consequences of that behaviour. In other words, a very large vested interest is created in the continuance of the very behaviour that causes social problems.
Read it all.
After James Taranto in the Opinion Journal noted that Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards is calling on his supporters to turn this year's Memorial Day into a day of antiwar activism, he asked
What'll he think of next, turning Christmas into a day of pro-abortion activism?
Today, he remembered Planned Parenthood already tried that. when it called for "Choice on Earth" on its Christmas cards.
But he hasn't remembered yet, Eve Ensler's kidnapping of Valentine's Day and turning into V-Day for Victory, Valentine, and Vagina.
The sheer tastelessness of all three is appalling.
Be as anti-war, pro-choice, and against violence as you wish. But show respect to the national day of mourning for all who served to keep us free, to a major Christian feast to celebrate the incarnation of God into a tiny human baby, and our cultural tradition of celebrating romantic love in February alone.
There are plenty of other days in the calendar. If you shrink the sphere of what can be politicized, it will be easier for us to all get along.
Politics is not life. We need more common ground. Memorial Day, Christmas and Valentine's Day are common ground we all share, but not if it's politicized.
What would happen if a nuclear bomb went off in an American city? How prepared are our first responders, national guard, and army for such a dire large-scale emergency scenario?
Last week in Indianapolis, we got a look see.
The Army National Guard has only half the equipment it needs, there were communications gaps, and response times were slow.
Remember, these people knew about the drill ahead of time.
It is impossible to imagine the shock, confusion and chaos that would follow such a terrible event. What you don't know is that you will probably survive a nuclear bomb in a major city if you are several miles away from impact. What you have to worry about is the cloud of radioactive dust floating in the air for several days. That you can survive if you stay inside and seal off windows with plastic sheeting and duct tape. Both should part of your emergency supplies kit along with food, water, flashlights, radio and emergency first aid.
First responders will be dealing with the severely injured. You and your family will be on your own. Prepare for it. Put a kit together and then stop worrying about it.
UPDATE. While most school districts have plans to deal with emergencies like terrorist attacks or pandemics, most plans fall short. The WSJ reports how schools fall short.
About half of school districts don't have plans for continuing to educate students in the event of a long closure and school districts generally aren't working with first responders or other community officials on how to implement emergency plans.
What's more, 28% of school districts with emergency plans lack specific provisions for evacuating students with disabilities. And two-thirds of districts reported a lack of expertise and equipment, such as two-way radios and adequate locks for school buildings.
UPDATE 2 Amazon has a whole page on how to survive a nuclear war and thrive in the ruins.
Harvey Mansfield talks about the soul and the importance of naming people and things in their individuality in the 2007 Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities.
First he introduces us to the notion of thumos that Plato and Aristotle talked about - that part of the soul that makes us want to insist on our own importance.
The biology of Plato and Aristotle, unlike modern biology, takes account of the soul, the sense of human importance. Modern biology saves lives, but the old biology understands them better. The notion of thumos reminds us of our animality because it is visible to the naked eye when we observe animals. Modern biology uses the microscope and uncovers chemical and neurological counterparts to thumos, which actually distract us from analysis of the behavior they are meant to explain. We rest satisfied when we have pronounced the word testosterone and fail to observe as carefully as old-fashioned naked-eye science. Sociobiology has come up with the concept of turf, an unnoticed reference to thumos that we all use today to designate the marking out of one’s own. But in human beings, one’s turf is one’s family, one’s party, one’s country, one’s principle.
..... Having eliminated the soul, modern science cannot understand the body in its most important aspect, which is its capacity for self-importance. Modern biology, particularly the theory of evolution, is based on the overriding concern for survival in all life. This is surely wrong in regard to human life. If you cannot look around you and must insist on indulging a taste for the primitive, you have only to visit the ruins of an ancient people and ponder how much of its GNP was devoted to religion, to its sense of the meaning of human life rather than mere survival.
Coming to religion, we arrive in the realm of what is particular and individual. Science and religion are nowhere more opposed than in regard to human importance. Religion declares for the importance of humans and seeks to specify what it is.
True religion shows its concern for the human species by addressing individual human beings. Science for its part speaks against the special importance of any object of science, including human beings, and in the theory of evolution it seeks to erode the difference between human beings and other animals.
Literature takes on the big questions of human life that science ignores—what to do about a boring husband, for example.
Altogether thumos is one basis for a human science aware of the body but not bound to it, a science with soul and taught by poetry well interpreted.
Here's a good tip from the Wall St Journal about allergy cards.
If you have food allergies or dietary restrictions, carry allergy cards that list the foods you can't eat so you can give them to a waiter or restaurant manager when you dine out.
Allergycards.com has free templates. Selectwisely can translate them into any language if you are going abroad. They also have a number of testimonials from customers who say how invaluable the cards are.
Once you have your cards done, you can adapt them to business card size and have them printed free, except for a shipping charge at Vistaprint.
If you have a serious allergy, allergy cards could just save your life.
Only one in four high school graduates who took a core curriculum met the benchmarks for college readiness in English, math, reading and science according to new report. Almost 20% didn't even met one benchmark.
Sobering indeed since these students are our future.
How Embedded Journalists Are Won Over by American soldiers.
"So often, they come out of that experience and - even if their opinion of the war hasn't changed - they're completely won over by the troops.
"I was one of those," admitted Beriain, speaking broken English and blinking away tears.
"No matter what you think of the war, or what has happened here, you cannot be around the soldiers and not be completely affected. They are amazing people, and they represent themselves and the Army better than anyone could ever imagine."
The best Commencement Address of the year so far; - Tony Snow speaking on Reason, Faith, Vocation at Catholic University.
First, live boldly. Live a whole life. I have five tips for pulling this off and - let me warn you - they've all been road tested. I learned the old-fashioned way, through trial and error.
Number one, think.
Heed the counsel of your elders, including your parents. I guarantee you, they have made some howling mistakes if, like me, they were in college in the '70s and '80s. They probably haven't owned up to them, but they might now, because they want to protect you. You see, they know that you are leaving the nest. And now that you're leaving the nest, predators soon will begin to circle. Some are going to try to take your money, but the really clever ones are going to tempt you to throw your life away. They'll appeal to your pride and vanity - or worse, to your moral ambition. After all, there's nothing more subversive than the offer to become a saint. So think things through. Be patient. If somebody tries to give you a hard sell, you know they're peddling snake oil; don't buy it. If something's not worth pondering, it is certainly not worth doing. And if your gut tells you something's fishy, trust your gut.
Second recommendation: Go off-road.
Tolstoy once said all happy marriages are happy in the same way and here's what he meant. When both people commit, when they say, "You and I are bound together, forever, period, no questions, no codicils, no pre-nups, no escape clauses," then all of a sudden, the temptations become irrelevant, and the glories become possible.
There is nothing like the pleasure of being a parent. Waking up the next morning to somebody whose breath has become the echo of your heartbeat. Trust me on this, it does not get any better. Commit.
Next, get out.
I've been informed by my teenage daughter that there's a new trend in high school now: dating. Only it's a peculiar kind of dating because the "datees" do not actually spend time in each other's presence. Instead they conduct their courtship online. Now technology invites us to build communities out of electrons rather than blood and flesh and I'm just encouraging you, please understand the difference between a closed parenthesis followed by a colon, and a smile. Ladies and gentlemen, you cannot kiss a cursor.
How trite is that? But it's everything. It separates happiness from misery. It separates the full life from the empty life. To love is to acknowledge that life is not about you. I want you to remember that: It's not about you. It's a hard lesson. A lot of people go through life and never learn it. It's to submit willingly, heart and soul, to things that matter. Love is not melodrama. You don't purchase it, you don't manufacture it. You build it.
Every time I buy something gaudy for my wife she says, "Oh that's nice," and then it goes away someplace. The love letters she keeps; I don't know where the jewelry is.
Think not only of what it means to love but what it means to be loved. I have a lot of experience with that. Since the news that I have cancer again, I have heard from thousands and thousands of people and I have been the subject of untold prayers. I'm telling you right now: You're young [and you feel] bullet-proof and invincible. [But] never underestimate the power of other people's love and prayer. They have incredible power. It's as if I've been carried on the shoulders of an entire army. And they had made me weightless. The soldiers in the army just wanted to do a nice thing for somebody. As I mentioned, a lot of people - everybody out here - wants to do that same thing.
Christina Hoff Sommers eviscerates most of the major women's groups in the US for their total indifference to the plight of Muslim women and the conflation of their sisters' plight to their own superficial concerns about body image.
The Katha Pollitts and Eve Enslers, the vagina warriors and university gender theorists--these are women who cannot distinguish between free and unfree societies, between the Taliban and the Promise Keepers, between being forced to wear a veil and being socially pressured to be slender and fit. Their moral obtuseness leads many of them to regard helping Muslim women as "colonialist" or as part of a "hegemonic" "civilizing mission." It disqualifies them as participants in this moral fight.
Since I believe that the reformation of Islam is likely to come through the uprising of millions of Muslim women demanding equality, the frivolousness of most American feminists and groups like NOW is very depressing.
The efforts some moms are making to help out their children and grandchildren are quite remarkable. They are the Grandboomers profiled today in the New York Times.
“This is the first generation where we have so many older people living long enough, being healthy enough and being affluent enough to provide these services on a large scale” since women entered the workplace in large numbers, Dr. Cherlin said.
But the involvement cuts across the economic spectrum. According to the census, 19.4 percent of preschool children with working mothers were primarily entrusted to grandparents in 2002, the latest year for which there are statistics. Grandparents took charge more often than fathers (18.2 percent), day care (19 percent) or hired help (9 percent). In 1995, grandparents ranked third behind fathers and day care centers, at 15.9 percent.
Some grandparents find lending a hand fulfilling. Kay Govoni of Burlington, Mass., retired 10 years ago so she could take care of her grandchildren full time.
“I do think that a lot of people my age are beginning to see that, O.K., we’ve retired, and so what do you do with your life: spend it all in a selfish let’s-go-play, let’s-go to-Florida, let’s-go-out-to-dinner lifestyle?” she said. “That gets old hat very fast.”
Tom McMahon reports what preparedness meant when the Soviet Union had Eastern Europe under its iron grip.
Skirmante was telling me that, during the Russian times, her parents kept a bundle of warm clothing next to the door so that they could grab it if they were arrested in the night and deported to Siberia. They never knew, from one day to the next, if the secret police would burst in and exile them for life.
Then asks why classroom doors aren't equipped with dead-bolt locks on the inside that could be used to prevent another school massacre. Hey, it works for planes.
"What? You couldn't stretch to matching pants?"
That's what Phil McCord thought the Pope would say to him when he met the Pope with the wrong pair of pants the dry cleaner gave him.
McCord was in Rome for the canonisation ceremony for Mother Theodore Guerin, the former hospital administrator who was declared a saint by Pope Benedict XVI.
Just over six years ago his eye was healed from a serious illness after he prayed to Mother Theodore Guerin, the founder of the convent where he works.
At least 12 doctors were consulted about his remarkable recovery, and none could find a medical explanation for his cure.
The Catholic Church subsequently ruled it was a miracle.
As this was the second miracle attributed to Mother Theodore Guerin - and the Church says that it takes two miracles for a holy person to qualify for sainthood - the former hospital administrator's miracle meant Mother Guerin would be made into a saint.
Michael Barone on TThe Realignment of America in the Opinion Journal.
Americans are now moving out of, not into, coastal California and South Florida, and in very large numbers they're moving out of our largest metro areas. They're fleeing hip Boston and San Francisco, and after eight decades of moving to Washington they're moving out. The domestic outflow from these metro areas is 3.9 million people, 650,000 a year. High housing costs, high taxes, a distaste in some cases for the burgeoning immigrant populations--these are driving many Americans elsewhere.
The nation's center of gravity is shifting: Dallas is now larger than San Francisco, Houston is now larger than Detroit, Atlanta is now larger than Boston, Charlotte is now larger than Milwaukee. State capitals that were just medium-sized cities dominated by government employees in the 1950s--Sacramento, Austin, Raleigh, Nashville, Richmond--are now booming centers of high-tech and other growing private-sector businesses. San Antonio has more domestic than immigrant inflow even though the border is only three hours' drive away. The Interior Boomtowns generated 38% of the nation's population growth in 2000-06.
In an interview with the Financial Times, the novelist Tom Wolfe makes the following remarkable comment.
Bush is portrayed as a moron. I’ve only conversed with him a couple of times – not for very long – but I found he was more literate on literature than the editor of the New York Review of Books, Bob Silvers. I’ve talked to both of them, and he makes Bob Silvers look like a slug.”
"..whenever I had a problem, I went to something wholesome to solve it."
One of the “wholesome” things that helped, he said, was bowling.
That's about as good an explanation of dealing with problems as I have ever heard.
The Older-and-Wiser Hypothesis in the New York Times Sunday magazine.
The popular image of the Wise Man usually does not include a guy in a bowling shirt, but several qualities have emerged again and again in older people like J. who score high on Ardelt’s wisdom scale. They learn from previous negative experiences. They are able to step outside themselves and assess a troubling situation with calm reflection. They recast a crisis as a problem to be addressed, a puzzle to be solved. They take action in situations they can control and accept the inability to do so when matters are outside their control.
so how do academics define wisdom now that they have begun studying it? For one thing, you don't have to be smart or accomplished or even old, though most older people are more even-keeled and emotionally resilient.
Certain qualities associated with wisdom recur in the academic literature: a clear-eyed view of human nature and the human predicament; emotional resiliency and the ability to cope in the face of adversity; an openness to other possibilities; forgiveness; humility; and a knack for learning from lifetime experiences. And yet as psychologists have noted, there is a yin-yang to the idea that makes it difficult to pin down. Wisdom is founded upon knowledge, but part of the physics of wisdom is shaped by uncertainty. Action is important, but so is judicious inaction. Emotion is central to wisdom, yet detachment is essential.
Vivian Clayton whose research has made many breakthroughs in understanding, first analyzed the Hebrew bible
“What emerged from that analysis,” she says, “was that wisdom meant a lot of different things. But it was always associated with knowledge, frequently applied to human social situations, involved judgment and reflection and was almost always embedded in a component of compassion.” The essential importance of balance was embodied in the Hebrew word for wisdom, chochmah, which ancient peoples understood to evoke the combination of both heart and mind in reaching a decision.
Another researcher Birren boiled it down to the "Berlin Paradigm" and defined wisdom as
an expert knowledge system concerning the fundamental pragmatics of life.
Ardelt who's now doing research in Boston analyzing Harvard University graduates says
People who rated high in wisdom, she adds, were “very generous,” both financially and emotionally; among those who rated low in wisdom, “there was this occupation with the self.”
What is very clear is that old people with a more positive attitude towards old age lived seven and a half years longer.
They can regulate their emotions better, registering the negative, focusing on the positive.
It may be that the seeds of wisdom are planted early in life with exposure to adversity or failure, that one called a "stress inoculation" that enhances the person's ability to regulate emotions.
More good news about honey.
Spreading honey on a diabetic ulcer could prevent the need to amputate an infected foot, researchers say.
Honey therapy involves squeezing a thick layer of honey onto a wound after all the dead skin and bacteria have been removed.
The honey kills bacteria because it is acidic and avoids the complication of bacterial resistance found with standard antibiotics, Jennifer Eddy, a professor at the University's School of Medicine and Public Health, told AFP.
"This is a tremendously important issue for world health," Eddy said.
She tried honey therapy as a last resort six years ago with a 79-year-old diabetic patient who had developed foot wounds resistant to standard treatments.
"I tried it only after everything else had failed and... we had essentially sent him home to die," she said. "All antibiotics were stopped when we started honey, and his wounds rapidly healed."
Last summer, I noted how honey heals wounds faster than antibiotics and recommended you tuck away jar of honey in your emergency supplies kit.
Fjordman, the noted Scandinavian blogger to whom I often link to asks What Do We Fight For? and coins two new words: “Caucasophobia” for anti-white racism, and “self-termination” for organized Western self-loathing and the Western policy of unilaterally dismantling our own culture.
Here's what he has to say about hate crimes.
Hate crime legislation constitutes a radical departure from the idea of equality before the law. You will be punished differently for assaulting a black Muslim than for the same crime against a white Christian, a Hindu woman or a Jewish woman, a gay man or a straight man etc. Some would argue that this already happens in real life. However, the point here is that this principle has now become a formal aspect of the law. This constitutes a gross perversion of justice. It mirrors Islamic law, which mandates different punishments for the same crime, depending upon the religious background and the sex of both the perpetrator and the victim.
You might want to think twice about using artificial butter flavoring in your popcorn after you read this.
Since 2001, academic studies have shown links between the disease and a chemical used in artificial butter flavor called diacetyl. Flavoring manufacturers have paid out more than $100 million as a result of lawsuits by people sick with popcorn workers lung over the past five years. One death from the disease has been confirmed.
Peter Gomes who's spent 37 years at Harvard where being seen as religious often meant being dismissed as not very bright
There is probably more active religious life now than there has been in 100 years.
A survey on the spiritual lives of college students, the first of its kind, showed in 2004 that more than two-thirds of 112,000 freshmen surveyed said they prayed, and that almost 80 percent believed in God. Nearly half of the freshmen said they were seeking opportunities to grow spiritually, according to the survey by the Higher Education Research Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Compared with 10 or 15 years ago, “there is a greater interest in religion on campus, both intellectually and spiritually,” said Charles L. Cohen, a professor of history and religious studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison
While students may be learning more, Stephen Prothero, chairman of the religion department at Boston University says the deep ignorance of Americans about the world's religions is dangerous.
"If you think Sunni and Shia are the same because they're both Muslim, and you've been told Islam is about peace, you won't understand what's happening in Iraq. If you get into an argument about gay rights or capital punishment and someone claims to quote the Bible or the Quran, do you know it's so?
Americans get an 'F' in religion.
Sixty percent of Americans can't name five of the Ten Commandments, and 50% of high school seniors think Sodom and Gomorrah were married.
Knowledge about the basics of the Bible and the core beliefs and stories of other religions are necessary, he says if you are to be an 'empowered citizen' and understand what's going on in the world.
Prothero's solution is to require middle-schoolers to take a course in world religions and high schoolers to take one on the Bible. Biblical knowledge also should be melded into history and literature courses where relevant. He wants all college undergrads to take at least one course in religious studies.
Or if you are pressed for time, you could read his book
The latest Rasmussen poll has startling numbers for those of us who think rationally and believe in the intelligence of the American people.
Thirty-five per cent (35%) of Democrats polled believe that George Bush knew about the 9/11 attacks beforehand. Another 26% aren't sure but think it may be possible. Only 39% say he did not know.
Republicans reject that view and, by a 7-to-1 margin, say the President did not know in advance about the attacks. Among those not affiliated with either major party, 18% believe the President knew and 57% take the opposite view.
Overall, almost a quarter of voters (22%) believe on no evidence that Bush was in on a plan that killed thousands of Americans .
While there's not much scientific data, common sense tells us that masks give us some protection against contagion.
The federal government already stockpiles about 150 million masks in case of a flu epidemic.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released guidelines on Use of Face Masks in Flu Outbreak
If a flu pandemic ever emerges, surgical masks “should be considered” by anyone entering a crowd, and thicker industrial masks “should be considered” for anyone taking care of the sick, federal health officials said yesterday as they finally released guidelines for mask use.
The guidelines released yesterday re-emphasized earlier suggestions that in a pandemic, people should shun crowds, avoid close contact with anyone at work or school, and stay home if they are sick, or anyone in their household is sick.
They should also wash their hands frequently, use hand sanitizers and cover their noses and mouths when coughing or sneezing.
Masks are most useful, said Dr. Julie Gerberding, director of the disease control centers, when placed on people who are already sick — to keep in droplets from their sneezes and coughs. They are also important for health care workers or family members tending anyone with flu, especially during potentially dangerous procedures like giving nebulizer treatment to an asthmatic child or suctioning a patient with a chronic breathing problem.
Masks come in two types. Surgical masks are the thin disposable or washable cloth or paper ones worn by surgeons and dentists, costing a few cents each. N-95 respirators are thicker fiber masks, often round or duck-billed in shape, worn by construction workers to keep out dust or paint, and by hospital nurses working with infectious patients. They are certified to keep out 95 percent of all particles and usually cost $1 or more.
There will not be enough doctors trained in geriatrics to deal with us aging boomers. There's not enough now.
Seems as if the number of geriatricians is declining while the number of plastic surgeons is rising. Doctors just don't want to deal with "Old Crocks" which is what we all will be given enough time.
Even if we stop obsessing on how well we look, and start focusing on how well we are, we're out of luck and on our own. When asked whether enough geriatricians could be trained to serve the booming elder population, Chad Boult, professor at John Hopkins said,
"Nothing, it's too late."
Even as our bones and teeth soften, the rest of our body hardens. Blood vessels, joints, the muscle and valves of the heart, and even the lungs pick up substantial deposits of calcium and turn stiff. Under a microscope, the vessels and soft tissues display the same form of calcium that you find in bone. When you reach inside an elderly patient during surgery, the aorta and other major vessels often feel crunchy under your fingers. A recent study has found that loss of bone density may be an even better predictor of death from atherosclerotic disease than cholesterol levels. As we age, it’s as if the calcium flows out of our skeletons and into our tissues.
Decline remains our fate; death wil come. But, until that last backup system inside each of us fails, decline can occur in two ways. One is early an precipitately, with an old age of enfeeblement and dependence, sustained primarily by nursing homes and hospitals. Th other way is more gradual, preserving, for as long as possible, your ability to control your own life
Is it hopeless? Are we all doomed? Not if Chad Boult can get geriatricians to train primary care doctors to treat the very old. But that's a tall order given that today, 97% of medical students take no course in geriatrics, 97%!
Frankly, I have a lot more hope in Gould's backup plan called "Guided Care" which calls for nurses to be given a highly compressed, three-week course in making geriatric care plans for individual patients and working with patients, families and doctors to implement the plans.
I count myself very lucky that my sister Colleen, a nurse, plans to become a certified nurse practitioner to work with us future "old crocks."
Don't you love it when economists start putting numbers on intangibles?
On the plus side
Seeing friends and family every day + $205,000
Chatting up the neighbors regularly + $90,000
Getting married + $120,500
On the debit side
Losing a job -- $344,500
Painful divorce -- $335,000
The conclusion, priceless.
An increase in the level of social involvements is often worth many tens of thousands of pounds a year extra in terms of life satisfaction," said Nattavudh Powdthavee, of the University of London's Institute of Education, which carried out the research.
Actual changes in income, on the other hand, buy very little happiness.
I would be remiss if I didn't note the hope for a sex-boost slimming pill that made news this week.
So far only monkeys and shrews have benefited from the hormone-reducing pill that promises to boost a woman's libido while reducing her appetite,
While it probably won't be on the market in less than 10 years, whatever drug company invests the millions to bring the pill to market not only stands to make many more, but will garner the appreciation of men around the world.
Sexual parity however will not be achieved until they make a pill for men that reduces beer bellies while increasing their desire to help around the house.
Scientists and Australian beer maker Foster's are teaming up to generate clean energy from brewery waste water — by using sugar-consuming bacteria.
The battery produces electricity plus clean water, said Prof. Jurg Keller, the university's wastewater expert.
"It's not going to make an enormous amount of power — it's primarily a waste water treatment that has the added benefit of creating electricity," Keller said.
Why do people say, "if you're so smart, why aren't you rich?"
Because being smart doesn't mean you will be financially well off.
Here's one example, The Perils of Being Suddenly Rich or sudden wealth syndrome.
NewScientist reports that Lost memories could be restored by 'rewiring brain'
At least it works in mice and could lead to new treatments for neuro-degenerative diseases in humans.
"If memories can be recovered then that suggests they were never erased and indicates that perceived memory loss is likely to be due to an inability to retrieve memories," Tsai says.
It's the 4th leading cause of death in the United States behind heart disease, cancer and stroke, yet you probably never heard of COPD.
COPD, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, affects 24 million Americans, half of them undiagnosed.
Shining a Light on a Deadly Lung Disorder in the Wall St. Journal.
COPD is an umbrella term for lung diseases that inflame airways, obstruct breathing and trap bad air in the lungs, including emphysema and chronic bronchitis. It's hardly a new disease, but its prevalence has been rising steadily, while other major causes of death have been decreasing. The increase is due largely to the fact that people are living longer and developing the disease as they age. But it is also rising in younger people and women, who are experiencing the long-term ravages of smoking even years after they quit, as well as exposure to second-hand smoke and other pollutants.
A new campaign is underway to raise awareness of COPD by encouraging people over 45 who may be at risk to get a simple breathing test. The spirometry test determines your lung functioning by measuring the air a person can breathe out and the time it takes to do so.
Are you drinking too much and don't even know it ?
The Accidental Binge Drinker: How Much We Really Pour
Chances are you're drinking far more alcohol than you think.
"Often my clients think they are just having one or two drinks, when really they're having more like three or four," says Lisa R. Young, a New York University nutritionist.
Try this experiment at home. Take your favorite wine or beer glass and use water to estimate drink size. Pour the contents into a measuring cup to see how close you come to the standard 5-ounce wine portion or 12-ounce beer portion.
I did this myself, and was stunned by the result. I filled my favorite wine glass just half full. But I still ended up with 300 milliliters or 10.14 ounces -- double the standard serving size.
Dr. Young says that a solution is for drinkers at restaurants to count each glass of wine, beer or spirits as two servings.
Yoga has now been shown to give an immune boost to breast cancer survivors even as it promotes psychological well-being and delivering the physical output equivalent to a moderate-intensity exercise.
I've been practicing yoga for over 15 years now, albeit only in classes. Apart from walking, yoga is my principal form of exercise. I'm lucky to have a teacher who understands middle-aged bodies so we're not endlessly doing upside down dog and sun salutations. Instead he aims to get us to a state of energized relaxation and often incorporates elements of qi gong.
For those who have never tried yoga or for beginners, here are some of the physiological and psychological health benefits of yoga. For the middle-aged, I believe yoga is better than most other forms of exercise because of the low risk of injury, the focus on the breath and the relaxed nature of the "asanas" or postures that build strength and balance.
According to medical scientists, yoga therapy is successful because of the balance created in the nervous and endocrine systems which directly influences all the other systems and organs of the body.
We did not know what democracy was
Until America brought it against our will
We are like a tiny bird born in a cage
Its father and mother were born in the same cage.
And so were its ancestors
— For the past 1,400 years…
Along came America and
Broke the cage open.
But the bird does not know how to fly.
Because it has never used its wings.
We do not know what to do
With the values of freedom
— Because we were born slaves, the sons of slaves,
the sons of slaves for the past 1,400 years…
Hat tip No Pasaran