August 30, 2007

Property Rights for AIDS widows Now

I've been reading about AIDS for almost 20 years and felt helpless about the growing catastrophe in Africa, but I never once heard about "property-stripping."

Property stripping is the traditional practice of the husband's family inheriting all his property after he dies.

In normal times, this had some logic; the husband's family had responsibility for the widow and her children, a brother often taking her as a second wife and so assuming responsibility for his nieces and nephews.

But things have changed. In the time of AIDS, the widow is likely also infected with the HIV virus, though not yet sick since her husband often gets it first and the disease is less advanced in her when her husband dies. So even if her brother-in-law hasn't died from AIDS himself, he is not willing to marry someone infected with HIV. And often the brother-in-law himself is sick or dead. Nevertheless, the family often still follows custom and seizes her house and farm and so she has no recourse but to turn to menial jobs, begging or prostitution. And since she was infected later, she may have years to spread her illness to her sex partners which are commonly many a day.

In a Washington Post editorial by Richard Holbrooke, published after Dr. Kim's NPR interview, he noted that increased testing and detection efforts was the "only effective prevention strategies can stop the spread of AIDS." He goes on to point out that "...monogamous women [are] thrown out of their homes for a disease they got from their husbands."

In other words, the survival strategies of poor, destitute women have become a major vector of the HIV virus.

Schaefer in How Stripping Spreads Aids says the cure for property stripping is "cheap, technically quite easy and would have an enormous secondary impact on economic growth"

The AIDS community talks endlessly about women's rights so why are they so silent one a problem which the community itself identifies as vitally important? The real irony is that solving this problem is politically correct in every aspect. A solution for property stripping will help widows and orphans and expand women's rights for every woman, whether affected by AIDS or healthy widows. Money is power and having control of their homes is a source of personal, social, political leverage that African women sorely lack today.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:55 AM | Permalink

The Call of the Entrepreneur

I've never liked the way Hollywood and the mainstream media  depicts the world of business as if everyone in business were greedy, arrogant and corrupt.  So, I was happy to learn about a new documentary entitled  The Call of the Entrepreneur  that follows the stories of three entrepreneurs, a farmer, a merchant banker and a fashion CEO.  The trailer gives a fine taste of

In his review at First Things Saint Duncan of Wall Street, Ryan Anderson finds that commerce can be a pathway to holiness.

So, what do these three stories in The Call of the Entrepreneur demonstrate? They show that an entrepreneur—even when just trying to keep his family farm afloat—is always other-regarding: always looking and reaching outside of himself to think of a product that others need and of innovative ways to make it. And in this creative act he cooperates with God and participates in divine creativity. Creation is an ongoing reality in which God upholds the world and empowers human agents to participate.

The emphasis, thus, is not on free markets as an end in themselves but rather, as Gilder points out, as a means to free human beings—free inventors, free producers, and free consumers. Brad Morgan took an unlikely resource and turned it into a highly demanded product. Frank Hanna identified the people who had entrepreneurial vision and enabled them to succeed. And Jimmy Lai worked his way from factory worker to fashion and media CEO thanks to the structures in place in Hong Kong. He now works to make the freedom and prosperity he enjoys available to the country he left behind.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:09 AM | Permalink

August 28, 2007

Poor in America

The poor in America are better off than any other poor in history with access to technology beyond the imagination of kings and emperors.    On the eve of a report  by the Census Bureau, Robert Rector examines the 36.5 million poor  in America.

Overall, the typical American defined as poor by the government has a car, air conditioning, a refrigerator, a stove, a clothes washer and dryer, and a microwave. He has two color televisions, cable or satellite TV reception, a VCR, or DVD player, and a stereo. He is able to obtain medical care. His home is in good repair and is not overcrowded. By his own report, his family is not hungry, and he had sufficient funds in the past year to meet his family’s essential needs. While this individual’s life is not opulent, it is far from the popular images of dire poverty conveyed by the press, liberal activists, and politicians.

Much official poverty that does exist in the United States can be reduced, particularly among children. There are two main reasons that American children are poor: Their parents don’t work much, and their fathers are absent from the home.

In both good and bad economic environments, the typical American poor family with children is supported by only 800 hours of work during a year — the equivalent of 16 hours of work per week. If work in each family were raised to 2,000 hours per year — the equivalent of one adult working 40 hours per week throughout the year — nearly 75 percent of poor children would be lifted out of official poverty.

As noted above, father absence is another major cause of child poverty. Nearly two thirds of poor children reside in single-parent homes; each year, an additional 1.5 million children are born out of wedlock. If poor mothers married the fathers of their children, nearly three quarters of the nation’s impoverished youth would immediately be lifted out of poverty.

Yet, although work and marriage are reliable ladders out of poverty, the welfare system perversely remains hostile to both. Major programs such as food stamps, public housing, and Medicaid continue to reward idleness and penalize marriage. If welfare could be turned around to encourage work and marriage, the nation’s remaining poverty could be reduced.

Poor children are poor because their fathers are gone absent.

A quarter of all the poor are immigrants or minor children of immigrants.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:50 PM | Permalink

Social Acid

John O Sullivan, Social acid has burnt the heart of Britain

It didn't happen overnight. Breaking down a strong culture of civic self-control takes time and several social acids.

The first such acid was the cultural liberalism generally associated with the 1960s: the attempt to free people from irksome traditional moral customs and the laws that reflected them.

Anthony Jay has recently described how the "media liberalism" of the BBC - an institution founded in part to promote social virtues and British institutions - increasingly undermined them all: from military valour to the monarchy.

Assuredly, this revolution had its worthwhile side, especially for the educated and prosperous. Britain today is a freer and more relaxed society with less supervision from maiden aunts and aldermen than in 1955.

Combined with a welfare state that picked up the tab, however, cultural liberalism promoted social irresponsibility - more voluntary workless, more divorces, children with fewer opportunities because they live in homes without two parents, a growing underclass, a society that is cruder, more disordered, less gentle.

Except for the Thatcher years, however, the British establishment, from a blend of multiculturalism and Europeanism, drained all pride and meaning out of Britishness. No one, not even the Scots, wants to assimilate to a nullity.

The result is a fractured, distrustful and disorderly society. And because a diverse society lacks agreed values and standards, governments regulate the behaviour of all, including the law-abiding, to maintain social peace.

Thus, we have far more officials supervising us than in the 1950s, but they are anti-smoking social workers and ethnic diversity officers rather than park wardens.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:00 PM | Permalink

Boomers' Knees

I was in a rut.      A  few days away from the Internet and some ocean and sun in Maine and on Long Island and I feel much better.

I'm also very glad that I sat out the high impact aerobics fad in the 80s and never "went for the burn" now that at least one doctor is asking Did Jane Fonda's Videos Give People Arthritis?

Dr. Solomon says the repetitive nature of high impact aerobics has had an adverse affect on many of the once devoted Fonda fans like Wares.

"They have knee problems," she said. "They all have early arthritis, or have terrible arthritis where they can't go up and down stairs."

Today, Dr. Solomon said these high impact exercise techniques are basically defunct because we now know how to exercise smarter.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:57 AM | Permalink

August 21, 2007

Exercise Makes You Smarter

An expanding body of research is showing that exercise can create a stronger, faster brain reports the New York Times in Lobes of Steel.

scientists have been finding more evidence that the human brain is not only capable of renewing itself but that exercise speeds the process.

Other factors contributing to neurogenesis, the creation of new brain cells: marijuana, moderate alcohol intake, sociability and chocolate while heavy alcohol consumption, stress and a diet high in saturated fats and sugar inhibit the production of new brain cells.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:49 PM | Permalink

Family Key to Happiness

You know I really like this new generation of people between 13 and 24.  They've got their heads on straight.

Family is Key to Happiness, NOT Money and Sex Says New Study of Youth

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:50 PM | Permalink

The Nicotine Cloud of Witnesses

A.N. Wilson bemoaning the much-loved pubs now empty wonders why the British accepted the draconian ban on their private pleasures in pubs.

This attack on basic liberty, which was allowed through without any significant protest, might mark the end not merely of smoking, but of literature.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:59 PM | Permalink

August 16, 2007

Contagious Yawning

Why are yawns so contagious?

I used to tell my sister that it was a battle for oxygen.  When one person yawns, they suck up so much oxygen out of the air that the other person is forced to yawn just to stay alive.

Nonsense, but fun.  Now scientists are now doing the research, and the first results are in.

What triggers the phenomenon appears to be the capacity for empathy.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:52 AM | Permalink

The Sacred as a Human Universal

When anthropologists look at religion, in particular Rene Girard, they see the sacred as a human universal.

Girard has reminded us of truths that we would rather forget—in particular the truth that religion is not primarily about God but about the sacred, and that the experience of the sacred can be suppressed, ignored and even desecrated (the routine tribute paid to it in modern societies) but never destroyed. Always the need for it will arise, for it is in the nature of rational beings like us to live at the edge of things, experiencing our alienation and longing for the sudden reversal that will once again join us to the centre.

The Sacred and the Human by Roger Scruton

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:38 AM | Permalink

Time Lost on the Web

I sometime spend so much time on the web that I get nothing done during the day.

If you're like me, this might help  The 20 Biggest Online Time Wasters and 6 Strategies for Beating Them

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:21 AM | Permalink

The Dignity of Working Men

Misbegotten since its conception, the Times Select wall is coming down and I'm delighted because I'll get to read David Brooks regularly.

I only happened upon Truck Stop Confidential  because  the Independent Women's Forum reprinted long excerpts.

"He has one of those hard jobs, like mining and steel-working, that comes with its own masculine mythology and way of being in the world. Jobs performed in front of a keyboard don’t supply a code of dignity, which explains the spiritual anxiety that plagues the service economy.

"As the trucker spoke, I was reminded of a book that came out a few years ago called ‘The Dignity of Working Men,’ by the sociologist, Michèle Lamont, who is now at Harvard. Lamont interviewed working-class men, and described what she calls ‘the moral centrality of work.’

"Her subjects placed tremendous emphasis on working hard, struggling against adversity and mastering their craft. Her book is an antidote to simplistic notions of class structure, because it makes clear that these men define who is above and below them in the pecking order primarily in moral, not economic terms. …

A code of dignity for working men.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:18 AM | Permalink

Aging in Place

The New York Times has a good piece on the Grass-Roots Effort to Grow Old at Home with a handy sidebar giving contacts for aging in place communities across the country.

“A few neighborhood-based, relatively inexpensive strategies can have an enormous effect,” Mr. McCallion said. “If people don’t feel so overwhelmed, they don’t feel pushed into precipitous decisions that can’t always be reversed.”

For inspiration, the nascent groups looked to Beacon Hill Village in Boston, which pioneered the approach six years ago. Beacon Hill’s 400 members pay yearly dues — $580 for an individual and $780 for a couple, plus à la carte fees — in exchange for the security of knowing that a prescreened carpenter, chef, computer expert or home health aide is one phone call away.

I wrote about this new phenomenon that started on Beacon Hill in Aging at Home last year. 

It's cheaper by far, and desired by a great majority of the elderly.  The biggest question will it work in the suburbs, outside an urban neighborhood?

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:09 AM | Permalink

August 13, 2007

Don't Mistake Modesty for Shame

Wendy Shalit writes Why an Observant Jew Understand Sexuality Better Than Hugh Hefner  with examples based on thousands of years of lived experience.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:23 AM | Permalink

"We saw ourselves as clever people in a stupid world."

After the BBC's own report admitted to an institutional liberal bias among its program makers, a former editor pens his Confessions of a BBC Liberal to explain what's behind the attitudes and opinions of the group whom he calls 'media liberals.

we were antiindustry, anti-capital-ism, antiadvertising, antiselling, antiprofit, antipatriotism, antimonarchy, antiempire, antipolice, antiarmed forces, antibomb, antiauthority. Almost anything that made the world a freer, safer and more prosperous place – you name it, we were anti it.
Being naive in the way institutions actually work, we were convinced that Britain’s problems were the result of the stupidity of the people in charge of the country.

This ignorance of the realities of government and management enabled us to occupy the moral high ground. We saw ourselves as clever people in a stupid world, upright people in a corrupt world, compassionate people in a brutal world, libertarian people in an authoritarian world.

We were not Marxists but accepted a lot of Marxist social analysis. We also had an almost complete ignorance of market economics. That ignorance is still there.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:21 AM | Permalink

Real-Estate-Enabled Divorce

The New York Times explores the phenomenon of real estate enabled divorce in

Buy low, divorce high whereby unhappily married couples are cashing in appreciated homes to underwrite a split.

“She felt that she couldn’t walk out on him until she had the money to move away and buy something on her own,” Ms. Kleier said. “The real estate market allowed her to buy her freedom.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:13 AM | Permalink

Life Lessons from the Army

I love to collect people's life lessons and some are better than others. 

When the veteran who blogs anonymously at walterreed.blogspot posted his Ten Life Lessons the Army Taught him, he didn't expect them to be so popular that Tim Rick, military correspondent for the  Washington Post would reprint them all, but that's how I found them.

1. Always have a notepad, pen, watch, knife, and flashlight on hand.
2. Have a copy of everything. If its important have two copies.

If it has your name on it, then you need a copy. If it affects your health, paycheck, or other element of well-being, then you need two copies. Records get lost, computers crash, and sometimes people just need to see a piece of 80 bond under their noses to get anything done.

3. Make friends wherever you go.

It doesn't matter if you are there for 20 minutes or 20 months, make friends. Inevitably, you will see them again. You will go to where they are. They will go to where you will be. And at the end of the day friends are the only ones covering the front of your position.

4. Make an SOP. Know the SOP. Work the SOP.

Civilian. Military. It doesn't matter. There should be a Standard Operating Procedure for daily life. .... Routine accomplishes this, and we accomplish more when we have a routine.

5. Sleep.

Sleep is one of the things in life we don't appreciate until we aren't getting it.... If it was bad when you went to sleep and its still bad when you wake up, well then I guess you weren't missing anything. If by chance its better when you wake up, then apparently the world doesn't rest upon your shoulders. So take a nap Atlas.

6. Don't go cheap.

7. Find humor everywhere.

8. Don't tolerate oppression.

Stand up for what you think is right. In the end if you were wrong, so be it.

9. Tell your Story.

Battles are not merely lost by the Soldiers on the field, the armament, or the weather. They are one and lost by the lessons learned of prior battles. We learn these lessons because someone told their story.... Older Soldiers told their stories in hopes that a single silver strand of wisdom would be gleamed and be passed on. It is part of what we contribute to society. When one can gleam wisdom from the lessons others have learned we have possible prevented the hardship by which the another person gained that knowledge. And by sharing our lessons we are helping someone else. That is one of our greatest contributions to humanity.

10. Never forget.

Never forget who you are. Never forget what you have done. Never forget where you are. Never forget what it is you want from this one life we have. Never forget the people that stood behind you in support, beside you in camaraderie, or in front of you in adversity. Never forget to write home. Never forget that someone is missing you. Never forget what you have learned. Never forget to share what you have learned. Never forget anything; lest you forget everything.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:45 AM | Permalink

August 10, 2007

Denial kills you twice, Preparation saves you twice

The worse thing that can happen to a policeman is to find themselves suddenly in harm's way while their loved ones were with them.

Why policemen should Prepare for the unthinkable, as though it was inevitable  with an amazing story of a police chief shot when his wife was with him and what she did.

The sobering fact is that post-traumatic stress disorder is caused by "intense fear, helplessness or horror" in a life-and-death situation.

Denial kills you twice: once because you are physically unprepared at the moment of truth and might die in the incident; twice because you are psychologically unprepared and, even if you physically survive, you are likely to be a psychiatric casualty when your "house of cards" collapses. Denial kills you twice, and it can kill your loved ones twice. In the same way, preparation saves you twice, and it may save your loved ones twice.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:08 AM | Permalink

How to be organized after a car accident

Here's a good tip from the Unclutterer on how to be organized after an auto accident.

All you have to do is download a worksheet to keep in the glove compartment of your car along with your insurance card and registration.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:00 AM | Permalink

Your Brain on Love

When scientists look at "the dance of attraction, infatuation and ultimately love" using MRIs.

This is your brain on love

But passionate love is something far stronger than that first sizzle of chemistry. "It's a drive to win life's greatest prize, the right mating partner," Fisher says. It is also, she adds, an addiction.

People in the early throes of passionate love, she says, can think of little else. They describe sleeplessness, loss of appetite, feelings of euphoria, and they're willing to take exceptional risks for the loved one.

Brain areas governing reward, craving, obsession, recklessness and habit all play their part in the trickery.


"It takes not will power but painful experience to make us wise."

Somehow, it all comes together, for better or for worse, the sum total of what's found in the mating dance of the ancient reptilian brain, the passion of the limbic brain and the logic of the neocortex.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:40 AM | Permalink

August 9, 2007

Carrying Knowledge into the Future

An interview by Bernard Chapin,  The Contemplations of Roger Scruton on the occasion of Scruton's new book  "Culture Counts: Faith and Feeling in a World Besieged"

BC: What does it mean to embrace the contemplative life? What does one’s doing so amount to in practice?

RS: It means allowing one's opinions to be shaped by truth, rather than the wish to believe. It means allowing one's actions to be shaped by virtue, rather self-interest; it means allowing one's emotions to be founded in acceptance of the world and the willing affirmation of the right of others to be.

BC: Is knowledge, no matter what kind of knowledge it is, an end in itself? How have we failed in the present age to pass knowledge on to the young?

RS: Yes, knowledge is an end in itself, which is why people are afraid of it - they have no formula with which to understand and confine its power. We have failed to pass on knowledge to the young because we have been more interested in the young than in knowledge. Teachers are taught to follow the sentimentalities of Rousseau and Dewey, regarding knowledge as a benefit to the child. The real educator regards the child as a benefit to knowledge - the brain which, properly modified, will carry the burden of knowledge into the future and one day pass it on.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:15 PM | Permalink

Bad information is killing

Michael Crichton talks about fear in Complexity Theory and Environmental Management via Maggie's Farm.

Chernobyl.  Actual deaths 56.    By 2000, the BBC and the NYTimes estimated 15,000 -2000 dead.

Chernobyl.  Delayed deaths caused by radiation, 4000.  Estimates of delayed death range from 500,000-3.5 million.

A UN report in 2005 said the largest public health problem created by the accident is the
damaging psychological impact [due] to a lack of accurate information…[manifesting] as negative self-assessments of health, belief in a shortened life expectancy, lack of initiative, and dependency on assistance from the state."

In other words, the  greatest damage to the people of Chernobyl was caused by bad information. These people weren’t blighted by radiation so much as by terrifying but false information. 
Thousands of Ukrainians who didn’t die were made invalids out of fear. They were told to be afraid. They were told they were going to die when they weren’t. They were told their children would be deformed when they weren’t. They were told they couldn’t have children when they could. They were authoritatively promised a future of cancer, deformities, pain and decay. It’s no wonder they responded as they did.

Is it any surprise that the US public sees the news media as biased, inaccurate and uncaring.

The younger, better educated internet news audience is even harsher, especially for their failure to "stand up for America" according to the latest survey by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:54 PM | Permalink

August 8, 2007

Autism from the Inside Out

"Born on a Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant" (Daniel Tammet)

Terry Teachout reviews
Tammet tells how he memorized and recited the first 22,514 digits of pi (the irrational number that expresses the relationship between the circumference and diameter of a circle) without making a single mistake:

Why learn a number like pi to so many decimal places? The answer I gave then as I do now is that pi is for me an extremely beautiful and utterly unique thing. Like the Mona Lisa or a Mozart symphony, pi is its own reason for loving it.

That last sentence made me catch my breath. Like most aesthetes, I’m largely innocent of the niceties of higher mathematics, but Daniel Tammet has given me a fleeting glimpse of what I think Edna St. Vincent Millay must have meant when she claimed that “Euclid alone has looked on beauty bare.”

Terry Teachout

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:13 PM | Permalink

Saving Alone and Together

We trust people who are just like us more than we trust companies, institutions or the government.  So, it was only a matter of time before social networking took on a financial cast with websites that  let people compare saving strategies or trade financial advice.

I haven't checked any of these sites yet, but I wanted to pass on this story about Sharing the Wealth so that you can explore them if you want.

The woman behind one NetWorth profile said she started blogging about her finances because she felt alone.
"Being able to read and see the details of how others were managing (or not) their money was something I found very interesting and powerful," BostonGal, who insists on remaining anonymous because she posts so much detailed financial information online, wrote in an e-mail. "For me, it was finally answering questions such as, 'How can people afford to buy that?' or 'Am I the only one who struggles to save?' "

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:39 AM | Permalink

The Seven Tasks of Aging

At Times Go By, Ronni Bennett nicely organizes links and summaries to David Wolfe on Jung's Seven Tasks of Aging

Here quickly are the seven tasks -

1. Facing the Reality of Aging and Dying
2. Life Review
3. Defining Life Realistically
4. Letting Go of the Ego.
5. Finding a New Rooting in the Self
6. Determining the Meaning of One's Life.
7. Rebirth - Dying with Life

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:08 AM | Permalink

August 7, 2007

Hearing Abuse

Too many loud concerts have left too many boomers, about one in six, with premature hearing loss.

Salivating at the potential windfall market of aging boomers, hearing aid manufacturers are fighting the stigma of ugly hearing aids with new designs, sexy marketing, even new names.

Audéo’s manufacturer, Phonak, does not call it a hearing aid. In a nod to PDAs like BlackBerrys, it calls Audéo a PCA (Personal Communication Assistant). Shaped like a moth’s wing and smaller than a guitar pick, it perches behind the ear and comes in 15 color combinations, like Pure Passion or Green With Envy.

Ms. Arra could have also considered the Bernafon SwissEar hearing aid, red with the white cross insignia of the Swiss flag. Or a Delta by Oticon in Shy Violet. “It was like shopping for sunglasses,” said Ms. Arra, who bought two Audéos in Crème Brûlée (brownish blond) to match her hair. The device has a thin tube coiling toward the ear canal.

The Day the Music Died

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:43 AM | Permalink

Man Jailed for Taking Woman to Hospital

Man Jailed for taking woman to hospital

A Nigerian convert to Islam who took his sick neighbor to hospital has been jailed in Saudi Arabia because he was not related to the elderly woman.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:13 AM | Permalink

Pirates: The most effective organized criminal outfits in history

Peter Lesson argues that Self-Governance Works Better than You Think or Anarchy Unbound.

Even pirates had laws or "articles" as they called them
These included rules specifying the division of booty, “laws” against theft, and even workman’s compensation insurance to support crew members injured in battle.
To apply punishments and resolve disputes between crew members, pirates created an office called the “quartermaster.” Crew members controlled quartermasters both through their articles, which prescribed the “laws” quartermasters could apply, and by democratically electing crew members to this office.

The office of the quartermaster allowed pirates to overcome another obstacle anarchy posed for their organization—restraining potentially abusive pirate captains.

This system of governance was entirely voluntary. Pirates drew up the articles governing their ships before taking voyage and required unanimous consent before sailing. Any prospective crew member who disliked the proposed rules was free to exit before sail was underway.

The pirates’ private system of governance worked extremely well. Inter-pirate conflict was rare, order was well maintained, and pirates regularly successfully cooperated, making them among the most effective organized criminal outfits in history.

In some countries like Somalia, anarchy has proven better than an ultra-corrupt, predatory and abusive government.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:33 AM | Permalink

An Evolutionary Theory of Affluence

For thousands of years, most people on earth lived in abject poverty, first as hunters and gatherers, then as peasants or laborers. But with the Industrial Revolution, some societies traded this ancient poverty for amazing affluence.

In Dusty Archives, a Theory of Affluence

Gregory Clark, an economic historian at UCal Davis believes that the surge in economic growth that occurred first in Europe around 1800 happened because of a change in the nature of the human population.

The change was one in which people gradually developed the strange new behaviors required to make a modern economy work. The middle-class values of nonviolence, literacy, long working hours and a willingness to save emerged only recently in human history, Dr. Clark argues.

His theory is the subject of his new book

"A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World (Princeton Economic History of the Western World)" (Gregory Clark)

Generation after generation, the rich had more surviving children than the poor.
“The modern population of the English is largely descended from the economic upper classes of the Middle Ages,” says Dr.  Clark.

Work hours increased, literacy and numeracy rose, and the level of interpersonal violence dropped.
“Thrift, prudence, negotiation and hard work were becoming values for communities that previously had been spendthrift, impulsive, violent and leisure loving,” Dr. Clark writes.
“The triumph of capitalism in the modern world thus may lie as much in our genes as in ideology or rationality.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:21 AM | Permalink

It's the Taxes

Todd Zywicki analyzes the two-income trap hypothesis.

Comparing a typical family with one wage earner in 1973 with a typical family with two wage earners in the 2000s, he finds that the second wage earner pushes the family into a higher marginal tax bracket. 

[Since 1973] taxes increase in the example by $13,086. By contrast, annual mortgage obligations increased by only $3690 and automobile obligations by $2860 and health insurance $620. Those increases are not trivial, but they are swamped by the increase in tax obligations. To put this in perspective, the increase in tax obligations is over three times as large as the increase in the mortgage (the supposed driver of the 'two income trap') and about double the increase in the combined obligations of mortgage and automobile payments
Overall, the typical family in the 2000s pays substantially more in taxes than in their mortgage, automobile expenses, and health insurance costs combined. And the growth in the tax obligation between the two periods is substantially greater the growth in mortgage, automobile expenses, and health insurance costs combined."

via Instapundit

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:14 AM | Permalink

August 6, 2007

Gesture More

What are gestures all about anyway.  It's not communication, but helping memory it seems

Gestures Convey Message: Learning in Progress

These are the kinds of gestures that offer a window on the murky link between body and mind, and which in recent years have given rise to an International Society for Gesture Studies, a scientific journal (aptly named Gesture) and a newsletter called Manufacts.

"I've really been struck by how sophisticated and focused the field has become," said David McNeil, a professor emeritus of psychology and linguistics at the University of Chicago, the hotbed of gesture studies where Cook did her seminal work on the educational value of gestures. "It's really gaining momentum very rapidly."

If you want people to understand and learn from what you are saying, gesture more.  If you want to remember something, gesture more.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:13 PM | Permalink

One in eight Australians affected by alcohol-related brain injury

You would probably feel cheated if you were served a "standard size" drink in a restaurant or bar, given that a standard size is about a can of beer or a small glass of wine.

That's probably why people fool themselves into thinking they are drinking less than they are.  If you drink more than 3 standard size drinks a day for women or more than 6 standard size drinks a day for men, you're on the way to injuring your brain. 

Already, alcohol brain injury looms as a health crisis in Australia.

"Alcohol-related brain injury affects as many as one in eight Australians," Ms Berton said.

"It's slow, progressive and ultimately this damage affects a person's thinking, emotions, communication and ability to care for themselves." She said the damage was not confined to one demographic, affecting young and old, rich and poor, black and white, male and female.

"People need to understand that it's not a question of how much you have to drink to sustain an alcohol-related brain injury, but how little.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:06 PM | Permalink

August 3, 2007

Freedom from Parents

The most dramatic change in the day-to-day experience of childhood since the abolition of child labor is the decline of the street as a place where children can play writes Peter Wilby in the Guardian.

Britain has lost the art of socialising the young.

What we can do is give children more space and stop treating them as though they were an alien species, to be corralled into organised activities in designated locations. The street and the neighbourhood, not supervised playgrounds approved by health and safety officers, are the child's natural environment. That is where they should learn how to rub along with each other and with adults from outside the family; where they should learn the limits of acceptable social behaviour; where they should learn to climb and fall out of trees, to explore abandoned buildings and scrubby bits of unused land in which they can invent games and let off steam. "Even the youngest children talked about having freedom and time away from parents and adult supervision," says the Play England report

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:37 AM | Permalink

August 2, 2007

Respect vs. Glamour

The most prestigious job in America is that of firefighter.

61% of those interviewed by Harris surveys said that job had very great prestige.  Coming close were scientists (54%), teachers (54%); doctors (52%), military officers (52%) and nurses.

The least prestigious are real estate brokers (5%), actors (9%), bankers (10%), accountants (11%), entertainers (12%), stockbrokers (12%), union leaders (13%) and journalists (13%).

Selfless service to others seems to me the common thread.    Interestingly, "celebrities" rank so low even if stories about them obsess the media.  Seems as if we can tell the difference between glamourous work and work worthy of respect.

Full results here, The Harris Poll, 2007

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:54 PM | Permalink

August 1, 2007

German Government Promotes Incestuous Pedophilia as Sex Education

I find this so appalling, I can't imagine the mind-set that that thinks promoting incestuous pedophilia as healthy sex education is an appropriate role for a government.

German Government Publication Promotes Incestuous Pedophila

Booklets from a subsidiary of the German government's Ministry for Family Affairs encourage parents to sexually massage their children as young as 1 to 3 years of age.  Two 40-page booklets entitled "Love, Body and Playing Doctor" by the German Federal Health Education Center (Bundeszentrale für gesundheitliche Aufklärung - BZgA) are aimed at parents - the first addressing children from 1-3 and the other children from 4-6 years of age.

"Fathers do not devote enough attention to the clitoris and vagina of their daughters. Their caresses too seldom pertain to these regions, while this is the only way the girls can develop a sense of pride in their sex," reads the booklet regarding 1-3 year olds.  The authors rationalize, "The child touches all parts of their father's body, sometimes arousing him. The father should do the same."

According to the Polish daily newspaper Rzeczpospolita, the BZgA booklet is an obligatory read in nine German regions. It is used for training nursery, kindergarten and elementary school teachers. Ironically it is recommended by many organizations officially fighting pedophilia, such as the German Kunderschutzbund. BZgA sends out millions of copies of the booklet every year.

For older children, the Department of Family teaches 9 year-olds to put condoms on a banana.  By age 10, education in homosexuality is required.  In Berlin, teachers are told to "homosexualize" classes in biology, German, English, history, Latin, and psychology according to Gerald Augustinus, a native Austrian who has translated parts of the books into English so we can see just how depraved such education is.

Since homeschooling is illegal in Germany, there is no way parents who desire a period of innocence for their children can take refuge.      How quickly an entire moral order has been upended. 

Gil Bailie describes it thus
In rapid succession, the declension began: from understanding to tolerance, from tolerance to moral indifference, from indifference to celebration, from celebration to intolerance for any moral objections, from intolerance to legal threats, and finally to teaching seven and eight year-olds the moral and social indistinguishability of homosexual coupling and heterosexual nuptiality.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:57 PM | Permalink

Unnecessary Secrecy is a Significant Problem

HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, has done much to improve the privacy of patients, but it's come at a great cost as doctors, nurses and hospitals, afraid of penalties and lawsuits, often won't tell family a patient's status or prognosis.

When an adult child can't get information about the condition of an aged parent thousands of miles away or when a mother can't get information about her 20 year old son because he hadn't signed a privacy waiver, the concern over a patient's privacy has gone too far.

Keeping Patients' Details Private, Even from Kin

Experts say many providers do not understand the law, have not trained their staff members to apply it judiciously, or are fearful of the threat of fines and jail terms — although no penalty has been levied in four years.

Some reports blame the language of the law itself, which says health care providers may share information with others unless the patient objects, but does not require them to do so. Thus, disclosures are voluntary and health care providers are left with broad discretion.

Medical professionals can talk freely to family and friends, unless the patient objects. No signed authorization is necessary and the person receiving the information need not have the legal standing of, say, a health care proxy or power of attorney. As for public health authorities or those investigating crimes like child abuse, Hipaa defers to state laws, which often, though not always, require such disclosure. Medical workers may not reveal confidential information about a patient or case to reporters, but they can discuss general health issues.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:36 AM | Permalink