February 29, 2008

Paglia: Religion can reinvigorate American culture

When Camille Paglia, a professed atheist and pro-choice libertarian Democrat, argues that the route to the renaissance of American fine arts lies in religion, it's time to pay attention.

liberals have been complacent about the viability of secular humanism as a sustaining creed for the young. And liberals have done little to reverse the scandalous decline in urban public education or to protest the crazed system of our grotesquely overpriced, cafeteria-style higher education, which for thirty years was infested by sterile and now fading poststructuralism and postmodernism.  The state of the humanities in the US can be measured by present achievement: would anyone seriously argue that the fine arts or even popular culture is enjoying a period of high originality and creativity? American genius currently resides in technology and design.
I have been calling for nearly two decades for massive educational reform that would put the study of comparative religion at the center of the university curriculum.
I view each world religion, including Judeo-Christianity and Islam, as a complex symbol system, a metaphysical lens through which we can see the vastness and sublimity of the universe. Knowledge of the Bible, one of the West's foundational texts, is dangerously waning among aspiring young artists and writers. When a society becomes all-consumed in the provincial minutiae of partisan politics (as has happened in the US over the past twenty years), all perspective is lost. Great art can be made out of love for religion as well as rebellion against it. But a totally secularized society with contempt for religion sinks into materialism and self-absorption and gradually goes slack, without leaving an artistic legacy.
For the fine arts to revive, they must recover their spiritual center. Profaning the iconography of other people's faiths is boring and adolescent. The New Age movement, to which I belong, was a distillation of the 1960s' multicultural attraction to world religions, but it has failed thus far to produce important work in the visual arts.
To fully appreciate world art, one must learn how to respond to religious expression in all its forms. Art began as religion in prehistory. It does not require belief to be moved by a sacred shrine, icon, or scripture. Hence art lovers, even when as citizens they stoutly defend democratic institutions against religious intrusion, should always speak with respect of religion
Progressives must start recognizing the spiritual poverty of contemporary secular humanism and reexamine the way that liberalism too often now automatically defines human aspiration and human happiness in reductively economic terms. If conservatives are serious about educational standards, they must support the teaching of art history in primary school—which means conservatives have to get over their phobia about the nude,

Without compromise, we are heading for a soulless future. But when set against the vast historical panorama, religion and art—whether in marriage or divorce—can reinvigorate American culture.

Religion and the Arts in America.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:09 PM | Permalink

Depressing news

Anti-depressants 'no better than dummy pills'

Millions of Britons are taking anti-depressants for no reason, according to a study that found they made little difference to the condition.

Researchers discovered the drugs, which cost the taxpayer almost £300 million a year, generally work no better than dummy pills, and said exercise and therapy should first be prescribed instead.

The study, published in the journal Public Library of Science: Medicine, looked at the results of 35 clinical trials in the US involving 5,000 patients taking SSRIs, including Prozac, Efexor and Seroxat. Prof Kirsch said patients taking the drugs did improve, but so did those on a placebo - showing most of the effect was psychological.

Thank God for the placebo effect.

Says a GP
I  see ever-increasing numbers of patients coming to my surgery because they feel psychologically out of sorts. In the main, a little sympathetic probing will get to the bottom of the problem: they are tired, stressed and finding it difficult to cope with the increasingly hectic pace of life. Generally drug therapy is not the solution.

But expectations of health and healthcare are changing and the public looks to medicine for an instant cure for any number of lifestyle troubles, even something to treat a general feeling of ennui.

Lacking time to talk and the reassuring community of a social network, we are increasingly prone to think that a bottle of pills might be just what the doctor ordered.

It isn't.

But it is Good news for therapists

"For many, medication is successful. But talking therapies can have dramatic effects. We have put a lot of emphasis on medication in the past and it is about time we redressed the balance and put more emphasis on talking treatments."

Maybe "compassion is an aphrodisiac."  After watching In Treatment, I'm convinced of it.

 Gabriel Byrne

Even if He Listens. He Cares. He Isn't Real.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:49 AM | Permalink

February 28, 2008

How to lose experienced foster parents

They have been devoted foster parents caring for 18 vulnerable children over the years.  They are also believing Christians.

After a short time off when they became too busy with their catering business, they reapplied to provide weekend respite care to children under 10.

Now it appears that they can never foster again all because they do not believe that homosexuality is an acceptable life style.  Though why that's an issue for children under 10 is beyond me.

Christian couple told: 'You can't foster if you think it's wrong to be gay'.

The couple's case comes at a time when there is a chronic shortage of foster parents, who work on a voluntary basis. Around 8,000 more are needed nationally.

"They were asking: "What would you do if a 10 year-old child came home and said they had been picked on because they were homosexual?"

"They said, "Do you know you would have to tell them that it's ok to be homosexual?"

"But I said I couldn't do that because my Christian beliefs won't let me. Morally I couldn't do that, spiritually I couldn't do that.

"I said I was there to explain that I would not compromise my faith.

"I said I would have to tell the child that as I am a Christian I don't believe in homosexuality but I can give as much love and security as I possibly can."

Mr Johns, 63, a metal polisher, said: "I would love any child, black or white, gay or straight.

I just wonder how many children will linger in foster care uncared for and unloved because of their private beliefs are forbidden by such government regulations. 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:26 PM | Permalink

February 26, 2008

Banging the Drum, 1 to 100

Amazing film

HT. Remembering Matters

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:02 PM | Permalink

Whither Canada?

If you haven't been keeping track of the soft sharia that's creeping up in Canada, then you must read Kathy Shaidle's article on Free Speech vs. Muslim Sensibilities.

You will not believe the kangaroo courts, ostensibly set up to "protect human rights", but which operate to intimidate those who don't accept the ideology of multiculturalism and don't believe that the right not to be offended trumps the right of free speech, the right to practice one's religion and the right of due process.

Sean Murphy of the Catholic Civil Rights League aptly summed up one notorious case, in which, "a Christian printer is ordered to produce business cards and letterhead for an organization that promotes pro-pedophilia essays, is fined $5,000 for having refused to do so and is left with $40,000 in legal bills for daring to defend himself."

Most Canadians don't realize that these Commissions and tribunals aren't "real" courts. They operate outside the criminal justice system in an Orwellian world of their own. To the CHRCs, traditional rules of evidence don't apply. Truth is no defense. Commissioners can confiscate a defendant's computer without a warrant. Defendants can be forced to apologize to their accusers, even though the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that even convicted murderers cannot be obliged to apologize to their victim's family; that, the Court ruled, would be, "cruel and unusual punishment."

Incredibly, the CHRCs boast a Stalinist 100 percent conviction rate: no one has ever been found "not guilty." Columnist David Warren's chilling description of CHRC tribunals is impossible to improve upon:

"They are kangaroo courts, in which the defendant's right to due process is withdrawn. They reach judgments on the basis of no fixed law. Moreover, 'the process is the punishment' in these star chambers -- for simply by agreeing to hear a case, they tie up the defendant in bureaucracy and paperwork, and bleed him for the cost of lawyers, while the person who brings the complaint, however frivolous, stands to lose nothing. (...)

"That's why you go to an HRC: because your case is not good enough to stand up in a legitimate court of law. And because you don't want to invest your own time and money, but would rather the taxpayer provide officers to do the paperwork, and pick up the tab. Instead, you want a slam-dunk way in which you can victimize someone you don't like, by playing the victim yourself, without any financial or legal consequences, except to him. 'Human rights' commissions were designed to provide just this service, for the use of persons who are both litigious, and lazy."

Two people caught up in the madness that are Canada's Human Right Commissions are Ezra Levant and Mark Steyn, yes that Mark Steyn.

Ezra Levant printed the Mohammed cartoons in his magazine the Western Standard.
An excerpt from Mark Steyn's America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It"  was reprinted in Canada's largest weekly magazine, Maclean's.

There are existing laws against defamation, death threats and libel that work perfectly well.  Neither Steyn nor Levant said or did anything that would make them liable in a court of law.  What the Human Right Commissions are attempting to regulate is not a crime but political thought and expression that may offend an individual or a group.

Ezra Levant was smart enough to have his interrogation sessions videotaped which he then put up on YouTube where they were seen by over half a million people and promptly became a hero to me and many, many others for his eloquent defense which can be seen here

Ezra Levant's Opening Statement

Ezra Levant, I don't answer to the state.

His website, ezralevant.com, keeps us informed of the fast-moving events in this case and in another threatened lawsuit by one Richard Warman and the support he has received.
the former investigator for the Canadian Human Rights Commission, who quit the commission in 2004 to become the commission’s biggest customer. Approximately half of all complaints filed under the Canadian Human Rights Commission’s section 13 “idea crimes” provision have been filed by Warman. The CHRC has a 100% conviction rate under that section, and besides ordering the poor shleps Warman complains about to pay fines to the government, they’re often ordered to pay thousands of dollars to Warman himself, too, for his “hurt feelings”. Unlike the paycheque he got when he used to work there, the cash he gets from commission fines is tax free.

Warman and his friends at the CHRC aren’t hitting me with a human rights complaint – not yet, anyways. But he is threatening me with the most bizarre defamation lawsuit I think I’ve ever encountered.

A new website Free Mark Steyn keeps track of the Steyn and Levant cases and the furious debate in Canada and in the blogosphere.

                     Free Mark Steyn

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:41 PM | Permalink

One Man's Mission to Promote Peace . . . One School at a Time

When the world seems its most discouraging, I search out stories of ordinary people whose lives can inspire me.

Greg Mortenson is such a man.  A former US Army medic, he's made it his mission to build girls' schools in an area known as Baltistan, "Little Tibet" in the far north of Pakistan.

Here rural schools are rare, girls' schools even rarer, as the education of girls is condemned by religious extremists as un-Islamic. The Jafarabad school, along with 63 others in equally poor areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan, exists thanks to the efforts of a brave foreigner the locals call 'Dr Greg', who has been described as 'a real-life Indiana Jones' and spoken of as a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize.
His key allies include clerics, warlords, military officers, foreign mountaineers and several former members of the Taliban - one of whom is now a teacher at one of his schools in Kashmir - and an army of ordinary villagers desperate for their children to receive an education. 'What I'm good at is putting together a team, finding the right people,' he says. He has no pretentions to any other ability except willpower. 'I'm just an average guy. I had to work really hard in school. Learning never came easy to me, but I've got those Midwestern ethics that force you to persevere.'

      Greg Mortenson-Girls

A trauma nurse and former mountain climber, he was climbing Mt Everest when a buddy came down with altitude sickness and Greg stayed with him, probably far too long because he became sick himself.  On his way back, he became separated from his group and wandered sick into a tiny village where they nursed him to health.  Only when he recovered did he realize how generous they had been and how poor they were.  He promised to come back and build a school and he did, with no great plan, winging it all the way.

He's set up more than 60 schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan. 
In May 2005 riots broke out in Baharak, the gateway to Afghanistan's Wakhan province, after Newsweek magazine erroneously reported that a Koran had been flushed down a lavatory at Guantanamo Bay. Every building with any connection to foreigners was burned by furious mobs, including the offices of the UN. But Mortenson's CAI school was left untouched - protected by village elders who saw it as their own.

His book has now sold over 850,000 copies. 

"Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace . . . One School at a Time" (Greg Mortenson, David Oliver Relin)

You can read more of this most inspiring story at Free to Learn.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:19 PM | Permalink

Fatal to Women

Ovarian cancer has become known as the 'silent killer' because it is so hard to detect at its early stages when treatment could do some good. Three times as lethal as breast cancer, ovarian cancer is the cause of more than 15,000 deaths a year.

Because the symptoms of early ovarian cancer are non specific, women tend to ignore them, thinking they will go away. Signs and symptoms from the Mayo clinic.

• Abdominal pressure, fullness, swelling or bloating
• Urinary urgency
• Pelvic discomfort or pain

So this is particularly good news from researchers at the Yale School of Medicine, 99% Detection on Early Stage Ovarian Cancer.

“The ability to recognize almost 100 percent of new tumors will have a major impact on the high death rates of this cancer,” said lead author Gil Mor, M.D., associate professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences at Yale. “We hope this test will become the standard of care for women having routine examinations.”

Hat tip FuturePundit.

Another disease that affects women almost exclusively is LAM (Lymphangioleiomyomatosis ), a progressive lung disease that affects women most often during their cild-bearing years. Smooth muscle cells grow uncontrollably invading the tissues of the lungs, the airways and blood and lymph vessels to form cell clusters and cysts that eventually create holes in the lungs, preventing the lungs from providing oxygen to the rest of the body. The LAM Foundation.

Yvonne DiVita tells the story of Alanna Nelson, a young mother recently diagnosed with LAM, who is fundraising with a bake sale this past weekend in Pennsylvania.

"It is a genetic lung disease, which destroys healthy lung tissue by causing bubble-like cysts that cannot transfer oxygen to the blood. This means that people with LAM will eventually need full-time oxygen, and finally must resort to lung transplantation to stay alive. There is currently NO CURE and LAM is ultimately fatal."

About 1500 women have been diagnosed with LAM but some scientists estimate that as many as 250,000 may be going undiagnosed or misdiagnosed because the symptoms are so similar to asthma, bronchitis or emphysema.

Many doctors think pregnancy accelerates the disease.

So far no cure, no treatment though clinical trials are underway.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:59 AM | Permalink

February 23, 2008


This is a test

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:10 PM | Permalink

Music after a stroke

Listening to music after suffering a stroke is a great idea because the act of listening probably helps the patient recover from brain damage.

Why music could be a tonic for stroke sufferers.

It is the first time such an effect has been shown in humans and scientists believe it could be a cheap, simple way to get stroke patients on the road to recovery.

Researcher Teppo Sarkamo of Helsinki University helped carry out the study.

He said newly diagnosed patients are often left on their own for large parts of the day, yet the first few months after a "brain attack" are ideal for rehabilitative training.

He said: "Our research shows for the first time that listening to music during this crucial period can enhance cognitive recovery and prevent negative mood, and it has the advantage that it is cheap and easy to organise.

"We suggest that everyday music listening during early stroke recovery offers a valuable addition to the patients' care."

It could be helping more general mechanisms of "brain plasticity" - the brain's ability to repair after damage.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:07 PM | Permalink

"A bloody good rollicking"

After being told that her newborn son had died during a traumatic birth, the mother suffering from blood poisoning, fell into a coma.  Yvonne Sullivan was only 28 when she was taken to intensive care where her husband kept vigil for two weeks.

Two weeks in a coma is just about how long you've got with the U.K.'s national health insurance.
The doctors told the husband they might have to switch off the life support machines.

That's when Dominic started berating his wife,

When the doctors told me to think about turning off the life support I got angry," he added. "I grabbed her hand and began shouting at her. I gave her a bloody good rollicking.

You start fighting, don't you dare give up on me now. I've had enough, stop mucking around and start breathing. Come back to me."

"I'd already had to explain to Ryan that his brother Clinton had died, and that his mummy might not survive.

"He said he'd be cross with the doctors if they let mummy go to heaven. I kept telling her to pull through. Then I left the room to get some air." 

Two hours later she started breathing on her own, five days later she recovered consciousness.

"I can't remember exactly what he said but I never liked getting told off by Dom," she recalled.

"Something inside me just clicked and I began to fight again.

"I had been on 100 per cent life support and I was deteriorating, but within two hours of him ordering me to get better I'd regained 5 per cent of my breathing.

"When I first came round I'd thought he'd been gone a few minutes, then he told me I'd been out for two weeks. It's a miracle really. I owe him so much."

Coma woman woken by husband's 'rollicking' as doctors were about to switch off life-support machine.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:22 PM | Permalink

February 21, 2008

Living well and living longer

While still a preliminary finding, it seems that the mental acuity of seniors is improving, older people are functioning at a higher level for a longer time.

And the five easy steps to living long and well reports the New York Times are

... abstaining from smoking, weight management, blood pressure control, regular exercise and avoiding diabetes. The study reports that all are significantly correlated with healthy survival after 90.

While it is hardly astonishing that choices like not smoking are associated with longer life, it is significant that these behaviors in the early elderly years — all of them modifiable — so strongly predict survival into extreme old age.

“The take-home message,” said Dr. Laurel B. Yates, a geriatric specialist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston who was the lead author of the study, “is that an individual does have some control over his destiny in terms of what he can do to improve the probability that not only might he live a long time, but also have good health and good function in those older years.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:46 AM | Permalink

The Alarm Bells Are Ringing.

I rarely write about politics with one great exception, the alarming danger I see in the encroachment of the rights  - freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, the right to vote,  the rule of law, the equality of all men and women before the law  - that have been passed on to us by the generations before us.  I believe we hold those rights in trust and are bound to pass them on to future generations intact.  Those rights recognized in our Constitution and Bill of Rights do not belong to Americans alone but to everyone; they are universal human rights. 

When those hard-won rights are being lost little by little under the guise of multiculturalism and tolerance of 'whatever',  I am greatly alarmed.  Mark Steyn writes So what would it take to alarm you?

Sharia in Britain? Taxpayer-subsidized polygamy in Toronto? Yawn. Nothing to see here. True, if you'd suggested such things on Sept. 10, 2001, most Britons and Canadians would have said you were nuts. But a few years on and it doesn't seem such a big deal, and nor will the next concession, and the one after that. It's hard to deliver a wake-up call for a civilization so determined to smother the alarm clock in the soft fluffy pillow of multiculturalism and sleep in for another 10 years. The folks who call my book "alarmist" accept that the Western world is growing more Muslim (Canada's Muslim population has doubled in the last 10 years), but they deny that this population trend has any significant societal consequences. Sharia mortgages? Sure. Polygamy? Whatever. Honour killings? Well, okay, but only a few. The assumption that you can hop on the Sharia Express and just ride a couple of stops is one almighty leap of faith.

The war against Islamic jihadism now being fought around the globe is about more than terrorism, fearful and horrific as that is, it is also about the oppression of women.

If you have any doubt watch the video below but not with any children present because it is so graphic.    Weep for the millions of Muslims who are denied the basic rights we take for granted.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:44 AM | Permalink

Raising Kids to be Rich

From instapundit Glenn Reynolds and his instawife, Dr. Helen Smith comes a wonderful podcast on capturing your child's passion and allow them to make money  by being entrepreneurial.

The Glenn and Helen Show: Troy Dunn on Raising Kids to be Rich.

Troy Dunn's book is

"Young Bucks: How to Raise a Future Millionaire" (Troy Dunn)

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:34 AM | Permalink

February 18, 2008

Eco-winner: Grandma with the Hummels

The greenest people are totally unhip and unlikely to be photographed for the Times or a glossy magazine. They’re still wearing their clothes from twenty years ago. They aren’t keeping their home spa-worthy clean. No need to worry about polluting the air with chemicals, if you aren’t dusting every five minutes. They aren’t constantly renovating their kitchens and bathrooms, all of which uses enormous amounts of energy and resources; they are still living with the Formica numbers from the 70s. They aren’t jetting off to Europe to browse the Paris markets; they go bowling in the next town over. They aren’t constantly shopping for new things and tossing out the old things.

This is some poetry in all of this. Grandma with the Hummels has a smaller carbon footprint by doing absolutely nothing than the wealthy do-gooder in the Range Rover attending the NRDC fundraiser.
You want to save the earth? Here’s a little hint. Don’t. Buy. Shit.

Laura McKenna in Desperate (Green) Housewives

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:21 PM | Permalink

George Washington

Lest we forget the greatness of George Washington, Richard Brookheiser reminds us in First in Politics   wherein we learn how Washington learned how to back out of a bad situation and how to flip an enemy.

And Gleaves Whitney reminds us how often Washington put service above self.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:17 PM | Permalink

George Washington

Lest we forget the greatness of George Washington, Richard Brookheiser reminds us in First in Politics   wherein we learn how Washington learned how to back out of a bad situation and how to flip an enemy.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:16 PM | Permalink

Married 83 years

Clarence and Mayme Vail may qualify as the world's longest-married couple but  the Guinness Book of  Records is doing a little more research before awarding them with the title.

"It's unbelievable," said Mayme.

Clarence is 101-years-old, Mayme is 99.  They were married in 1925 when Calvin Coolidge was President, but were sweethearts since they'd met in the 8th grade in Hugo, Minn.

"He had gone through the 8th grade in the other school, then he comes to our school -- smart as a whip," said Mayme.

The couple had 6 children, 39 grandchildren, and 101 great grandchildren.  They live in an assisted-living home in White Bear Lake.

Mayme said patience is the key to a long marriage.

"You've got to admit you're wrong now and then," said Mayme. "I've had to do it."

Clarence summarized 83 years of married life in his simple way.

"Kind of lucky," he said.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:05 PM | Permalink


From Lifehack's 50 tricks to get things done faster,  better, and more easily.

50-30-20: Spend 50% of your working day on tasks that advance your long-term, life goals, spend 30% on tasks that advance your middle-term (2-years or so) goals, and the remaining 20% on things that affect only the next 90 days or so.

Timer: Tell yourself you will work on a project or task, and only that project or task, for a set amount of time. Set a timer (use a kitchen timer, or use a countdown timer on your computer), and plug away at your work.  When the timer goes off, you’re done — move on to the next project or task.

Do Your Worst: Give yourself permission to suck.  Relieve the pressure of needing to achieve perfection in every task on the first run.  Promise yourself you’ll go back and fix any problems later, but for now, just run wild.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:55 PM | Permalink

Hearts and minds

As home-grown terrorists are acquitted, a new report says a lack of national identity as  made Britain vulnerable.

The report, published through the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) think tank, declared Britain’s security to be at risk and its vulnerability to be down to a “loss of confidence in our own identity, values, constitution and institutions”.

Blaming multicultural Britain, the report concluded with a classic soundbite: “We look like a soft touch. We are indeed a soft touch, from within and without.

The public could be forgiven for being confused. What is the reality of Britain’s efforts to combat terrorism: impressive or rubbish? Soft or tough?

The RUSI report and the case of Raja and his codefendants reflect two important strands in Britain’s engagement with terror: the strength of our security apparatus and the nation’s cultural identity.
But for Prins the detection and conviction of extremists is the end point of a more important part of the fight against terrorism: disseminating a vision of British values so the various communities that live here do not become radicalised.

Hearts and minds.  It's all about Hearts and Minds.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:52 PM | Permalink

February 16, 2008

The Manifesto of the Idle Parent

Tom Hodgkinson has found that Idle parenting means happy children

To the busy modern parent, this idea seems counter-intuitive. Aren't we always told to do more, not less? All parents have a nagging sense that somehow we are doing it all wrong and that more work needs to be done. But the problem is that we put too much work into parenting, not too little. By interfering a lot, we are not letting children grow up and learn themselves. The child who has been overprotected will not know how to look after himself. We are too much in children's faces. We need to retreat. Let them live.

Welcome to the school of inactive parenting. It's a win-win situation: less work for you and better for the child, both in terms of enjoying everyday life and also for self-reliance and independence

The Manifesto of the idle parent

We reject the idea that parenting requires hard work
We pledge to leave our children alone
That should mean that they leave us alone, too
We reject the rampant consumerism that invades children from the moment they are born
We read them poetry and fantastic stories without morals
We drink alcohol without guilt
We reject the inner Puritan
We fill the house with music and laughter
We don't waste money on family days out and holidays
We lie in bed for as long as possible
We try not to interfere
We push them into the garden and shut the door so that we can clean the house
We both work as little as possible, particularly when the kids are small
Time is more important than money
Happy mess is better than miserable tidiness
Down with school
We fill the house with music and merriment

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:33 PM | Permalink

West is Best

Why the West is Best by Ibn Warraq

The great ideas of the West—rationalism, self-criticism, the disinterested search for truth, the separation of church and state, the rule of law and equality under the law, freedom of thought and expression, human rights, and liberal democracy—are superior to any others devised by humankind. It was the West that took steps to abolish slavery; the calls for abolition did not resonate even in Africa, where rival tribes sold black prisoners into slavery. The West has secured freedoms for women and racial and other minorities to an extent unimaginable 60 years ago. The West recognizes and defends the rights of the individual: we are free to think what we want, to read what we want, to practice our religion, to live lives of our choosing.

In short, the glory of the West, as philosopher Roger Scruton puts it, is that life here is an open book. Under Islam, the book is closed

A culture that gave the world the novel; the music of Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert; and the paintings of Michelangelo, da Vinci, and Rembrandt does not need lessons from societies whose idea of heaven, peopled with female virgins, resembles a cosmic brothel. Nor does the West need lectures on the superior virtue of societies in which women are kept in subjection under sharia, endure genital mutilation, are stoned to death for alleged adultery, and are married off against their will at the age of nine; societies that deny the rights of supposedly lower castes; societies that execute homosexuals and apostates. The West has no use for sanctimonious homilies from societies that cannot provide clean drinking water or sewage systems, that make no provisions for the handicapped, and that leave 40 to 50 percent of their citizens illiterate.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:10 PM | Permalink

Muslim women living in chains

Some Muslim women in the north of Italy are living in chains says the president of the Association of Moroccan Women.
In northern Italy, there are women that live chained at home, from the kitchen to the bathroom, without being able to open the door,” said the leader of the women’s group. In the North [of Italy] there are 4 and 5 year old girls that wear the [Islamic] veil in the summer, and in the winter. This is the culture of male chauvinists, of fundamentalists – and nobody is shocked”.

Ruth Gledhill reports in the Times of London that  Muslim coercion against women extends to psychiatric hospitals
Her clients were women in the process of being sectioned into mental health units in the NHS. This woman, who for obvious reasons begged not to be identified, told me: 'The men get tired of their wives. Or bored. Or maybe the wife objects to her daughter being forced into a marriage she doesn't want. Or maybe she starts wearing western clothes.There can be many reasons. The women are sent for asssessment to a hospital. The GP referring them is Muslim. The psychiatrist assessing them is Muslim and male. I have sat in these assessments where the psychiatrist will not look the woman patient in the eye because she is a woman. Can you imagine! A psychiatrist refusing to look his patient in the eye? The woman speaks little or no English. She is sectioned. She is divorced. There are lots of these women in there, locked up in these hospitals. Why don't you people write about this?'

In Saudi Arabia, a woman was convicted of being a witch with one of her accusers charging she made him impotent. The illiterate woman was beaten and forced to fingerprint a confession.  She faces execution, most likely a beheading, unless world opinion convinces King Abdullah to intervene.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:40 PM | Permalink

February 15, 2008

Handshake with Doctor Saves Man's Life

Restaurant Owner's 'Spongy' Handshake with GP Saves Man's Life After Doctor Recognized Rare Killer Brain Tumour.

Dr Britt had recognised the symptoms of acromegaly, a life-threatening disease caused by a benign brain tumour that affects just three people in every million.

The chance meeting led to Mr Gurrieri visiting his own GP, who referred him to a specialist, and the growth was removed last month.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:35 PM | Permalink

February 14, 2008

The Man I Love

On this Valentine's Day, the New York Times has an article that says the way married couples can keep love fresh and romance alive is to Reinvent Date Night by finding new ways and different activities they both enjoy ad in so doing inject novelty into the relationship and by so doing recreate some of the chemical surges of early courtship.

What does it for me is Cary Grant.

especially with Peggy Lee singing George Gershwin's The Man I Love. 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:09 AM | Permalink

February 13, 2008

Happy Republicans

From the Washington Post by Eric Weiner  Why Republicans Are So Darn Happy

No single morsel of happiness data, though, is more intriguing than this: Republicans are happier than Democrats.

A 2006 Pew Research poll found that 45 percent of Republicans describe themselves as "very happy," compared with only 30 percent of Democrats (and 29 percent of independents). This is a sizable gap and a remarkably consistent one, too. Republicans have been happier than Democrats every year since the General Social Survey, conducted biannually by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, began asking about happiness in 1972.

Is it money? Power?  Ignorance? 

Basically, Republicans have in spades all the things that combine to make us happy. Church attendance is particularly crucial. People who attend religious services regularly are more likely to report being "very happy" than those who don't -- 43 percent vs. 26 percent (a happiness boost, by the way, that cuts across all the major religious denominations). In addition, Republicans are more likely to be married than Democrats, and married people are happier than singles.

Weiner says that some of the Democrats' pet policies, income equality and diversity, have little effect on our contentment.

The View of Alexandria looks at the Post article and writes
Republicans stress freedom and individual responsibility, which lead people to feel in control and take action that changes their lives for the better, while Democrats assign blame to institutions, which makes people feel powerless and discourages them from undertaking ameliorative courses of action.

The comments to his post are particularly interesting.

No one mentioned gratitude which to me is the single greatest predictor of happiness.  People who are grateful for what they have  and have been given are by far the happiest people.  Republicans generally are more sincerely grateful for the great blessing of being born American than are Democrats.

What's so interesting about the current race is the sense of hope that Senator Obama brings to the Democrats.  There's no denying that the palpable sense of joy Democrats feel when they contemplate the November election contrasts sharply with the gloom Republicans feel.  Whether that will change any of the underlying dynamics of happiness remains to be seen.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:33 PM | Permalink

How to Divorce the Right Way

Jonathan Clements who writes the "Getting Going" column in the Wall St Journal has some fine advice for those who are contemplating a divorce. 

Five tips on how to divorce the right way

Avoid the legal arms race because it will hurt both of you. As you negotiate a settlement, every dollar of legal costs incurred likely means 50 cents out of your pocket. Trust me: There are cheaper ways to work through your anger.

Having the ex-spouse around the corner might seem uncomfortably close. But if you have children, it probably means you will see less of your former spouse. There are no awkward drop-offs and pickups. Instead, the kids just walk back and forth.

Maintain a reservoir of goodwill, because you'll need it. It will be your week with the kids, your boss will have other plans -- and you may need your ex-spouse to bail you out.

If your ex ends up with a little more money in the divorce or goes on to do well financially, don't let it eat away at you. In all likelihood, your children will be the ultimate beneficiaries.

Think of your relationship with your ex-spouse as a business relationship. Forget the bad blood. Ignore stuff that isn't your business. Instead, focus on the task at hand, which is raising the children.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:50 AM | Permalink

February 12, 2008

Spengler on the Archbishop

Whenever I write about the Archbishop's remarks on sharia, I  can't help but recall that disgusting saying, "When rape is inevitable, lie back and enjoy it."      The Archbishop, Spengler points out,
acknowledged the fact of coercion of women in his February 7 address, but insisted that because it belonged to "custom" rather than "religious law", he preferred to change the subject:

Spengler on the  Archbishop of Canterbury's remarks on sharia being "unavoidable", Europe in the house of war.

Violence is oozing through the cracks of European society like pus out of a broken scab. Just when liberal opinion congratulated itself that Europe had forsaken its violent past, the specter of civil violence has the continent terrified. That is the source of the uproar over a February 7 speech by Archbishop Rowan Williams, predicting the inevitable acceptance of Muslim sharia law in Great Britain.

Europe may not have war, but it already has violence: its political authorities cringe and scurry and evade and lie in the face of actual or threatened violence by its Muslim communities. If its duly-constituted governments abandon their monopoly of violence to self-appointed religious leaders, the likelihood is that a river of blood will flow, just as Powell warned in 1968.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:20 PM | Permalink

"This drug makes women stupid"

This drug makes women stupid," Orli Etingin, vice chairman of medicine at New York Presbyterian Hospital, declared at a recent luncheon discussion sponsored by Project A.L.S. to raise awareness of gender issues and the brain. Dr. Etingin, who is also founder and director of the Iris Cantor Women's Health Center in New York, told of a typical patient in her 40s, unable to concentrate or recall words. Tests found nothing amiss, but when the woman stopped taking Lipitor, the symptoms vanished. When she resumed taking Lipitor, they returned.

"I've seen this in maybe two dozen patients," Dr. Etingin said later, adding that they did better on other statins. "This is just observational, of course. We really need more studies, particularly on cognitive effects and women."

Can a drug that helps hearts be harmful to the brain?

Cognitive side effects like memory loss and fuzzy thinking aren't listed on the patient information sheet for Lipitor, the popular cholesterol-lowering drug. But some doctors are voicing concerns that in a small portion of patients, statins like Lipitor may be helping hearts but hurting minds.

I take a small dose of a statin every day, but I have found that my thinking is not as clear.  After this article, I'm going to go without for 2 months and see if I notice the difference.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:49 AM | Permalink

No sixties nostalgia here

"We are fighting to rid ourselves even now of most of the cultural nonsense imposed upon us by 1968."

Rod Liddle explains why The year 1968 was even more ludicrous and damaging to the country than any other.

The remarkable thing is that the half-baked and narcissistic ideologies of that dismal 12 months are still with us, in our schools, in our law courts, in our social services; they have permeated every facet of our lives.

A disrespect for authority, contempt for the family unit, multiculturalism, "yoof culcha" and an emphasis upon rights rather than responsibilities.

A permissiveness and indulgence shown towards every anti-social phenomenon from the use of illegal narcotics to single mothers and suicide bombers ("We really need to understand them better") - all that stuff was forged in the rather tepid British spring and summer of 1968.

It's taken me years, make that decades,  to get over and drop all the nonsense I imbibed in the very air of the late sixties.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:40 AM | Permalink

Lent re-branded as 'Christian Ramadan'

It only took a generation. 

There are the four million Dutch who describe themselves as Roman Catholics but the young people are far more familiar with Islam than Christianity.

The Christian Ramadan

The Catholic charity Vastenaktie, which collects for the Third World across the Netherlands during the Lent period, is concerned that the Christian festival has become less important for the Dutch over the last generation.

"The image of the Catholic Lent must be polished. The fact that we use a Muslim term is related to the fact that Ramadan is a better-known concept among young people than Lent," said Vastenaktie Director, Martin Van der Kuil.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:23 AM | Permalink

A Muslim woman replies to the Archbishop of Canterbury

What he wishes on us is an abomination.   Yasmin Alibhai-Brown in the Independent

What Rowan Williams wishes upon us is an abomination and I write here as a modern Muslim woman. He lectures the nation on the benefits of sharia law – made by bearded men, for men – and wants the alternative legal system to be accommodated within our democracy in the spirit of inclusion and cohesion.

Pray tell me sir, how do separate and impenetrable courts and schools and extreme female segregation promote commonalities and deep bonds between citizens of these small isles?

He passes round what he believes to be the benign libation of tolerance. It is laced with arsenic.

He would not want his own girls and women, I am sure, to "choose" to be governed by these laws he breezily endorses. And he is naive to the point of folly if he imagines it is possible to pick and choose the bits that are relatively nice to the girls or ones that seem to dictate honourable financial transactions.

Look around the Islamic world where sharia rules and, in every single country, these ordinances reduce our human value to less than half that is accorded a male; homosexuals are imprisoned or killed, children have no free voice or autonomy, authoritarianism rules and infantilises populations.

On the heels of her statement comes this one from the Association of Chief Police Officers in Britain.  Up to 17,000 women in Britain are being subjected to 'honour' related violence, including murder each year.

the number of girls falling victim to forced marriages, kidnappings, sexual assaults, beatings and even murder by relatives intent on upholding the "honour" of their family is up to 35 times higher than official figures suggest.
Commander Steve Allen, head of ACPO's honour-based violence unit, says the true toll of people falling victim to brutal ancient customs is "massively unreported" and far worse than is traditionally accepted.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:27 AM | Permalink

February 11, 2008

A terrorist leader explains sharia

They really do believe they will establish a world wide caliphate.

From Schmoozing with Terrorists.

A deputy commander of Fatah's al Aqsa Martyrs Bridade, Nasser Abu Azziz, explained to Klein that when sharia law is imposed in Western countries, "these sick people [homosexuals] will be treated in a very tough way," explaining that the Islamic leadership will "prevent social and physical diseases like homosexuality."  All the terrorists whom Klein interviewed agreed that homosexuality would not be tolerated in the US once Islam rules.

And homosexuality is not all they condemn.  The failure of western women to conform to Islamic standards of dress will reap harsh responses including, if necessary, torture.  Sheik Hamad, a Hamas cleric, said those women who refuse to cover themselves in conformity with Islamic values would be punished either by imprisonment, whipping or stoning.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:13 AM | Permalink

"I would be killed"

Say what you will about the Archbishop of Canterbury's idiotic comment that sharia law seems unavoidable in Britain, he finally got some people to stand up and support the institutions of their own country.

Lord Carey, the former archbishop of Canterbury, said,
"There can be no exceptions to the laws of our land which have been so painfully honed by the struggle for democracy and human rights."

Writing in this newspaper, Lord Carey condemns multiculturalism as "disastrous", blames it for creating Islamic ghettos and says that Dr Williams's support for sharia law will "inevitably lead to further demands from the Muslim community"

Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, said
the Government's promotion of multiculturalism had destroyed the unity that used to hold society together.

Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, the shadow minister for community cohesion, said
setting up rival systems of law would alienate sections of society and may lead to legal apartheid. 

Ruth Gledhill in the Times Online wrote
A few weeks ago, I was chatting to a woman who works in an advocacy role for Muslim women in an area that, quite independently of the Bishop of Rochester, she described as a 'no-go area' for non-Muslims. Her clients were women in the process of being sectioned into mental health units in the NHS. This woman, who for obvious reasons begged not to be identified, told me: 'The men get tired of their wives. Or bored. Or maybe the wife objects to her daughter being forced into a marriage she doesn't want. Or maybe she starts wearing western clothes. There can be many reasons. The women are sent for assessment to a hospital. The GP referring them is Muslim. The psychiatrist assessing them is Muslim and male. I have sat in these assessments where the psychiatrist will not look the woman patient in the eye because she is a woman. Can you imagine! A psychiatrist refusing to look his patient in the eye? The woman speaks little or no English. She is sectioned. She is divorced. There are lots of these women in there, locked up in these hospitals. Why don't you people write about this?'

My interlocuter went very red and almost started to cry. Instead, she began shouting at me. I was a member of the press. 'You must write about this,' she begged.

'I can't,' I said. 'Not unless you become a whistle-blower. Or give me some evidence. Or something.'

She shook her head. 'I can't be identified,' she said.
'I would be killed. And so would the women.'

The London Telegraph editorialized
In his effort to find an accommodation with other religions, in particular Islam, Dr Williams appears to be willing to give up on values which define his own. In fact, it is hard to understand why the leader of the Church of England should be so willing to "accommodate" the values of sharia law at all. Sharia law is abhorrent not just to most Christians, but to anyone who is committed to human rights - a group that includes many Muslims. In the countries where it operates, sharia law is brutal, cruel, discriminatory, and viciously oppressive of women, whose testimony is worth only half that of a man, and who are disadvantaged, relative to men, in marriage law, in disputes on the custody of children in divorce cases, and in inheritance law.

Still, there's a long way to go.  Let's not forget that Her Majesty's government has renamed Islamic terrorism as "anti -Islamic activity" so as to avoid inflaming Muslims.

To which Mark Steyn replied
Jacqui Smith, unveiled the new brand name in a speech a few days ago. "There is nothing Islamic about the wish to terrorize, nothing Islamic about plotting murder, pain and grief," she told her audience. "Indeed, if anything, these actions are anti-Islamic."

Well, yes, one sort of sees what she means. Killing thousands of people in Manhattan skyscrapers in the name of Islam does, among a certain narrow-minded type of person, give Islam a bad name, and thus could be said to be "anti-Islamic" — in the same way that the Luftwaffe raining down death and destruction on Londoners during the Blitz was an "anti-German activity." But I don't recall even Neville Chamberlain explaining, as if to a five-year old, that there is nothing German about the wish to terrorize and invade, and that this is entirely at odds with the core German values of sitting around eating huge sausages in beer gardens while wearing lederhosen.

The Labour's deputy leader Harriet Harman personally supports barring white candidates from running for office in certain constituencies so that more black and Asian (meaning Muslim) MPs can be elected.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:12 AM | Permalink

Darwin proposed the extermination of the Negro and Australian peoples

Do people realize what Darwin meant by the survival of the fittest?

From the Philadelphia Inqurier , The real danger in Darwin is not evolution but racism.

Many who support the separation of church and state say that the intelligent design theory of creation ought not to be taught in public schools because it contains a religious bias. They dislike its suggestion that the evolutionary development of life was not the result of natural selection, as Charles Darwin suggested, but was somehow given purposeful direction and, by implication, was guided by God.

Arguing for what they believe is a nonprejudicial science, they contend that children in public schools should be taught Darwin's explanation of how the human race evolved, which they claim is value-free and depends solely on scientific evidence.
Those who argue at school board meetings that Darwin should be taught in public schools seldom have taken the time to read him. If they knew the full title of On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life, they might have gained some inkling of the racism propagated by this controversial theorist. Had they actually read Origin, they likely would be shocked to learn that among Darwin's scientifically based proposals was the elimination of "the negro and Australian peoples," which he considered savage races whose continued survival was hindering the progress of civilization.

In his next book, The Descent of Man (1871), Darwin ranked races in terms of what he believed was their nearness and likeness to gorillas. Then he went on to propose the extermination of races he "scientifically" defined as inferior. If this were not done, he claimed, those races, with much higher birthrates than "superior" races, would exhaust the resources needed for the survival of better people, eventually dragging down all civilization.

Darwin even argued that advanced societies should not waste time and money on caring for the mentally ill, or those with birth defects. To him, these unfit members of our species ought not to survive.

The author Tony Campolo is professor emeritus of sociology at Eastern University.

Hat tip Ed Driscoll, "If you think Darwin sounds like a Nazi, there's a connection."

UPDATE:  I've been convinced by a commenter to look at my cited article with a far more skeptical eye.  So I've spent much of the past hour doing so.  The 1859 edition of The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection was indeed subtitled "Or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life" which subtitle was dropped in later editions.

 Title Page Origin Of Species

click for larger image

I do not disparage the evolutionary process as it has been proven as fact.  I do not believe that evolution or chance explains the whole of Creation, especially the first mover, human consciousness and the laws of physics.  Darwin himself said
I feel most deeply that this whole question of Creation is too profound for human intellect. A dog might as well speculate on the mind of Newton! Let each man hope and believe what he can.

While I do not believe that Darwin was a racist, witness his statement on slavery, I  have watched how steadily the general feeling, as shown at elections, has been rising against Slavery. What a proud thing for England if she is the first European nation which utterly abolishes it! I was told before leaving England that after living in slave countries all my opinions would be altered; the only alteration I am aware of is forming a much higher estimate of the negro character.

there is no doubt that he wrote in The Descent of Man, published in 1890
At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace the savage races throughout the world. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes… will no doubt be exterminated. The break between man and his nearest allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilised state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as now between the negro or Australian and the gorilla.

What I am certain of is that the implications of his theory of natural selection when applied to the human race that extremely  troubling, leading as they have to racism, imperialism, fascism, communism and eugenics. 

Whatever the scientific value of the theory of evolution and natural selection, the only moral basis in the human sphere in the end remains biblical, that all human life is sacred.

Genesis 1:27  God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them.

You don't have to be a believer to absorb the benefits of civilization based on a Judeo-Christian foundation where all men and women are afforded human dignity because they are made in the image of God.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:23 AM | Permalink

Break into your car, save your life

If you are hiking in the woods and come back to your car only to find that your keys are locked inside, pick up a stone and break the window so you can drive away alive.

Sandra Order didn't. She locked her keys in her SUV and died next to it in the cold and the rain of hypothermia.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:11 AM | Permalink

February 9, 2008

Why to settle for Mr. Good Enough

ask any soul-baring 40-year-old single heterosexual woman what she most longs for in life, and she probably won’t tell you it’s a better career or a smaller waistline or a bigger apartment. Most likely, she’ll say that what she really wants is a husband (and, by extension, a child).

To the outside world, of course, we still call ourselves feminists and insist—vehemently, even—that we’re independent and self-sufficient and don’t believe in any of that damsel-in-distress stuff, but in reality, we aren’t fish who can do without a bicycle, we’re women who want a traditional family.
My advice is this: Settle! That’s right. Don’t worry about passion or intense connection. Don’t nix a guy based on his annoying habit of yelling “Bravo!” in movie theaters. Overlook his halitosis or abysmal sense of aesthetics. Because if you want to have the infrastructure in place to have a family, settling is the way to go

Marry Him in the March Atlantic.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:06 AM | Permalink

February 7, 2008

Staying Together for the House

Warring couples often suspended hostilities and stayed together for the children, now it seems they stay together for the house.

When real estate, not love, keeps us together via Jules Crittenden

Divorce lawyers, real estate agents and psychologists who work with ex-couples say they are seeing men and women staying together after the breakup because they just can't afford to live separately, given the slumping housing market.

Some even reconcile.

"They take a breather from each other emotionally -- it's almost better than a marriage counselor."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:56 PM | Permalink

Most famous Americans according to high school seniors

When 2000 high school seniors and juniors were asked to write down the 10 most famous Americans in all of history, this is the result.

1. Martin Luther King Jr.: 67%

2. Rosa Parks: 60%

3. Harriet Tubman: 44%

4. Susan B. Anthony: 34%

5. Benjamin Franklin: 29%

6. Amelia Earhart: 25%

7. Oprah Winfrey: 22%

8. Marilyn Monroe: 19%

9. Thomas Edison: 18%

10. Albert Einstein: 16%

For what it's worth, when the researchers polled 2,000 adults in a different survey, their lists were nearly identical. To Wineburg, that shows that what's studied in school affects not just children but the adults who help them with their schoolwork.

I think we can declare the "cultural curriculum" of schools in the past 30 years to be a complete success.  Whether they have learned American history is another matter.  Amazing to me that not a single President made the list, not Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln or either Roosevelt.

I can only take heart in the wording of the questionnaire that asked for "most famous" and not most consequential.

I am reminded of Roger Scruton who when asked whether we have failed in the present age to pass knowledge to the young, replied,

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.

UPDATE:  It took a commenter, reading the article more closely than I to point out that the students were not allowed to name a president.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:07 PM | Permalink

February 6, 2008

Ash Wednesday

The wonderful phrase, "Teach us to care and not to care" comes from T.S. Eliot's poem Ash Wednesday that he wrote  shortly after he converted to Anglicanism.    It's the struggle of a man who had no faith acknowledging his need for faith and hope in a prayer for God.

Ash Wednesday

Because I do not hope to turn again
Because I do not hope
Because I do not hope to turn
Desiring this man's gift and that man's scope
I no longer strive to strive towards such things
(Why should the aged eagle stretch its wings?)
Why should I mourn
The vanished power of the usual reign?

Because I do not hope to know again
The infirm glory of the positive hour
Because I do not think
Because I know I shall not know
The one veritable transitory power
Because I cannot drink
There, where trees flower, and springs flow, for there is nothing again

Because I know that time is always time
And place is always and only place
And what is actual is actual only for one time
And only for one place
I rejoice that things are as they are and
I renounce the blessed face
And renounce the voice
Because I cannot hope to turn again
Consequently I rejoice, having to construct something
Upon which to rejoice

And pray to God to have mercy upon us
And pray that I may forget
These matters that with myself I too much discuss
Too much explain
Because I do not hope to turn again
Let these words answer
For what is done, not to be done again
May the judgement not be too heavy upon us

Because these wings are no longer wings to fly
But merely vans to beat the air
The air which is now thoroughly small and dry
Smaller and dryer than the will
Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still.

Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death
Pray for us now and at the hour of our death.


Lady, three white leopards sat under a juniper-tree
In the cool of the day, having fed to satiety
On my legs my heart my liver and that which had been contained
In the hollow round of my skull. And God said
Shall these bones live? shall these
Bones live? And that which had been contained
In the bones (which were already dry) said chirping:
Because of the goodness of this Lady
And because of her loveliness, and because
She honours the Virgin in meditation,
We shine with brightness. And I who am here dissembled
Proffer my deeds to oblivion, and my love
To the posterity of the desert and the fruit of the gourd.
It is this which recovers
My guts the strings of my eyes and the indigestible portions
Which the leopards reject. The Lady is withdrawn
In a white gown, to contemplation, in a white gown.
Let the whiteness of bones atone to forgetfulness.
There is no life in them. As I am forgotten
And would be forgotten, so I would forget
Thus devoted, concentrated in purpose. And God said
Prophesy to the wind, to the wind only for only
The wind will listen. And the bones sang chirping
With the burden of the grasshopper, saying

Lady of silences
Calm and distressed
Torn and most whole
Rose of memory
Rose of forgetfulness
Exhausted and life-giving
Worried reposeful
The single Rose
Is now the Garden
Where all loves end
Terminate torment
Of love unsatisfied
The greater torment
Of love satisfied
End of the endless
Journey to no end
Conclusion of all that
Is inconclusible
Speech without word and
Word of no speech
Grace to the Mother
For the Garden
Where all love ends.

Under a juniper-tree the bones sang, scattered and shining
We are glad to be scattered, we did little good to each other,
Under a tree in the cool of the day, with the blessing of sand,
Forgetting themselves and each other, united
In the quiet of the desert. This is the land which ye
Shall divide by lot. And neither division nor unity
Matters. This is the land. We have our inheritance.


At the first turning of the second stair
I turned and saw below
The same shape twisted on the banister
Under the vapour in the fetid air
Struggling with the devil of the stairs who wears
The deceitul face of hope and of despair.

At the second turning of the second stair
I left them twisting, turning below;
There were no more faces and the stair was dark,
Damp, jagged, like an old man's mouth drivelling, beyond repair,
Or the toothed gullet of an aged shark.

At the first turning of the third stair
Was a slotted window bellied like the figs's fruit
And beyond the hawthorn blossom and a pasture scene
The broadbacked figure drest in blue and green
Enchanted the maytime with an antique flute.
Blown hair is sweet, brown hair over the mouth blown,
Lilac and brown hair;
Distraction, music of the flute, stops and steps of the mind over the third stair,
Fading, fading; strength beyond hope and despair
Climbing the third stair.

Lord, I am not worthy
Lord, I am not worthy
but speak the word only.


Who walked between the violet and the violet
Who walked between
The various ranks of varied green
Going in white and blue, in Mary's colour,
Talking of trivial things
In ignorance and knowledge of eternal dolour
Who moved among the others as they walked,
Who then made strong the fountains and made fresh the springs

Made cool the dry rock and made firm the sand
In blue of larkspur, blue of Mary's colour,
Sovegna vos

Here are the years that walk between, bearing
Away the fiddles and the flutes, restoring
One who moves in the time between sleep and waking, wearing

White light folded, sheathing about her, folded.
The new years walk, restoring
Through a bright cloud of tears, the years, restoring
With a new verse the ancient rhyme. Redeem
The time. Redeem
The unread vision in the higher dream
While jewelled unicorns draw by the gilded hearse.

The silent sister veiled in white and blue
Between the yews, behind the garden god,
Whose flute is breathless, bent her head and signed but spoke no word

But the fountain sprang up and the bird sang down
Redeem the time, redeem the dream
The token of the word unheard, unspoken

Till the wind shake a thousand whispers from the yew

And after this our exile


If the lost word is lost, if the spent word is spent
If the unheard, unspoken
Word is unspoken, unheard;
Still is the unspoken word, the Word unheard,
The Word without a word, the Word within
The world and for the world;
And the light shone in darkness and
Against the Word the unstilled world still whirled
About the centre of the silent Word.

O my people, what have I done unto thee.

Where shall the word be found, where will the word
Resound? Not here, there is not enough silence
Not on the sea or on the islands, not
On the mainland, in the desert or the rain land,
For those who walk in darkness
Both in the day time and in the night time
The right time and the right place are not here
No place of grace for those who avoid the face
No time to rejoice for those who walk among noise and deny the voice

Will the veiled sister pray for
Those who walk in darkness, who chose thee and oppose thee,
Those who are torn on the horn between season and season, time and time, between
Hour and hour, word and word, power and power, those who wait
In darkness? Will the veiled sister pray
For children at the gate
Who will not go away and cannot pray:
Pray for those who chose and oppose

O my people, what have I done unto thee.

Will the veiled sister between the slender
Yew trees pray for those who offend her
And are terrified and cannot surrender
And affirm before the world and deny between the rocks
In the last desert before the last blue rocks
The desert in the garden the garden in the desert
Of drouth, spitting from the mouth the withered apple-seed.

O my people.


Although I do not hope to turn again
Although I do not hope
Although I do not hope to turn

Wavering between the profit and the loss
In this brief transit where the dreams cross
The dreamcrossed twilight between birth and dying
(Bless me father) though I do not wish to wish these things
From the wide window towards the granite shore
The white sails still fly seaward, seaward flying
Unbroken wings

And the lost heart stiffens and rejoices
In the lost lilac and the lost sea voices
And the weak spirit quickens to rebel
For the bent golden-rod and the lost sea smell
Quickens to recover
The cry of quail and the whirling plover
And the blind eye creates
The empty forms between the ivory gates
And smell renews the salt savour of the sandy earth This is the time of tension between dying and birth The place of solitude where three dreams cross Between blue rocks But when the voices shaken from the yew-tree drift away Let the other yew be shaken and reply.

Blessed sister, holy mother, spirit of the fountain, spirit of the garden,
Suffer us not to mock ourselves with falsehood
Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still
Even among these rocks,
Our peace in His will
And even among these rocks
Sister, mother
And spirit of the river, spirit of the sea,
Suffer me not to be separated

And let my cry come unto Thee.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:58 PM | Permalink

February 5, 2008

Death of the Father and 3 parent embryos

British scientists are ready to turn female bone marrow into sperm, cutting men out of the process of creating life resulting in what can only be called Death of the Father.

And if that isn't disturbing enough, other British scientists have created a three parent embryo in a lab
They experimented on 10 severely abnormal embryos left over from traditional fertility treatment.

Within hours of their creation, the nucleus, containing DNA from the mother and father, was removed from the embryo, and implanted into a donor egg whose DNA had been largely removed.

The only genetic information remaining from the donor egg was the tiny bit that controls production of mitochondria - around 16,000 of the 3billion component parts that make up the human genome.

The embryos then began to develop normally, but were destroyed with six days.

One opponent said

Josephine Quintavalle, of the pro-life group Comment on Reproductive Ethics, said it was "risky, dangerous" and a step towards "designer babies"

"It is human beings they are experimenting with," she said.

"We should not be messing around with the building blocks of life."

Mrs Quintavalle said embryo research in the US using DNA from one man and two women was discontinued because of the "huge abnormalities" in some cases.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:38 PM | Permalink

The Greying of HIV

"I have a population that, having survived this terrible illness, is now getting illnesses of old age 10 or 20 years sooner than normal," said Dr. Ardis Moe, a physician at UCLA's Center for Clinical AIDS Research and Education. "That's the bad news. The good news is that they're not dead."
With HIV, growing older, faster

Now more than a quarter of the estimated 1 million Americans living with HIV are, like Gibson and Golay, older than 50, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. By 2015, half will be older than 50. At least two long-range studies of people aging with HIV are underway, by the National Institutes of Health and the Veterans Health Administration.

A 2006 study by the New York-based AIDS Community Research Initiative of America on the interaction of HIV and aging on mental health found depression to be almost 13 times higher in longtime survivors than in the general population. As do the very elderly, whose suicide rate is the highest of any age group, longtime HIV survivors often grow despondent over health disabilities and the deaths of friends.

"Everybody I knew died in the late '80s or early '90s," said Los Angeles resident and longtime survivor Thomas Woolsey, 59. "It sounds like I'm the lucky one, but I don't really think so. What good is a life without any friends?"

Most people lose a lot of their desire to live when they lose all their friends,  particularly if they don't have close family.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:38 PM | Permalink

Living Long and Healthy Costs More

It's always been obvious to me that smokers pay more taxes and die sooner and, in the end, consume less health care.  Now there's a study to back up the notion that obese people and smokers are cheaper to treat.

In the long run, healthy people who live long lives are more expensive.

It costs more to care for healthy people who live years longer, according to a Dutch study that counters the common perception that preventing obesity would save governments millions of dollars.
''Lung cancer is a cheap disease to treat because people don't survive very long,'' van Baal said. ''But if they are old enough to get Alzheimer's one day, they may survive longer and cost more.''
Cancer incidence, except for lung cancer, was the same in all three groups. Obese people had the most diabetes, and healthy people had the most strokes.
Ultimately, the thin and healthy group cost the most, about $417,000, from age 20 on. The cost of care for obese people was $371,000, and for smokers, about $326,000.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:39 AM | Permalink

February 4, 2008

Hope and Vote

This has to be one of the best political videos I have ever seen.

I can't help but think that much of the change desired is  to be rid of the stranglehold boomers have held on politics, culture, and education for such a long time. 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:02 PM | Permalink

Britons losing their grip on reality

Quarter of Brits think Churchill was myth while a majority think Sherlock Holmes was real.

What are they teaching them in school.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:12 AM | Permalink

Twins save their mother's life while still in the womb

The twins that saved their mother's life by kicking loose a tumor while still in the womb.

Unknown to her, Mrs Stepney, 35, had developed cervical cancer. Her unborn twins' constant kicking in the womb actually managed to dislodge the tumour.

It was only when Mrs Stepney was taken to hospital with a suspected miscarriage that doctors realised she had cancer.

They told her the babies had saved her life. Without them, the cancer may not have been discovered until it was too late.

Despite the doctors' advice to terminate the pregnancy so she could have a hysterectomy and start chemotherapy,  Mrs. Stepney said

I owe my life to my girls, and that's why I could have never agreed with a termination."

Instead, she waited for her lifesaving treatment until they had been born.

Now the proud mother of year-old girls Alice and Harriet, Mrs Stepney has been given the all-clear.

         Twin Babies Save Mother's Life

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:10 AM | Permalink

Soft Sharia

Another chilling warning from Bruce Bawer who writes from Oslo First They Came for the Gays.

Once an oasis of tolerance, Europe is slowly but surely succumbing to Islamization.
It’s very clear what’s going on here – and where it’s all headed. Europe is on its way down the road of Islamization, and it’s reached a point along that road at which gay people’s right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is being directly challenged, both by knife-wielding bullies on the street and by taxpayer-funded thugs whose organizations already enjoy quasi-governmental authority. Sharia law may still be an alien concept to some Westerners, but it’s staring gay Europeans right in the face – and pointing toward a chilling future for all free people. Pim Fortuyn saw all this coming years ago; most of today’s European leaders still refuse to see it even though it’s right before their eyes.

The soft sharia is spreading.

Even though bigamy is a crime in Britain, if you are the polygamous sort with multiple wives, you can apply for and get multiple benefits.  A Muslim man with four spouses could receive 10,000 pounds a year in income support alone.

  Muslim Women England

Meanwhile a study in Britain says that whole communities are involved in assisting and covering up honor killings with informal networks of taxi drivers, councillors and even police officers tracking down and returning who try to escape.

Women have been raped, abused and even killed for forming "inappropriate" relationships or merely for wanting to go to university.
The report found that...women may be attacked for nothing more than listening to western music ..... Local  authorities are not acting because of "political correctness" and a fear of being accused of racism.

Many Muslim women training to become doctors are refusing to comply with hygiene rules to stop the spread of deadly superbugs by  rolling up their sleeves when washing their hands before entering surgery because they say it is against their religion to be bare below their elbow. 

Born in Pakistan, the Bishop of Rochester warned of 'no'go' areas where people of a different race or faith face physical attack said
attempts are being made to give Britain an increasingly Islamic character by introducing the call to prayer and wider use of sharia law, a legal system based on the Koran.

The bishop was warned that he would not "live long" and would be "sorted out" if he continued to criticise Islam.

"The irony is that I had similar threats when I was a bishop in Pakistan, but I never thought I would have them here,"

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:44 AM | Permalink

Frozen Play

This is so fresh and witty a piece of performance art, you must see it if you haven't already.    A grand illusion at Grand Central with 207 adults at frozen play.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:28 AM | Permalink

February 2, 2008

"Behind their shield the world economy literally lives"

When the global economy depends on communication and more and more the Internet,  When  news that damaged undersea cables disrupt businesses and personal use across a vast swath of Mideast countries, we begin to see how much the global economy depends on the Internet.

The biggest impact comes from the outages across India, with the companies that serve the East Coast of the United States and Britain badly hit.

Submarine cables carry the bulk of international telecommunications traffic.  These cables can be damaged by earthquake, accident or terrorism.   

Who protects and repairs the networks of underwater cables and  communication satellites?  The Belmont Club writes

unheralded and unnoticed the USN and USAF maintain the "freedom of navigation" not only of the ocean waves but of the ether. It is behind their shield that the world economy literally lives. The cars people drive, the fuel that propels them, the food they eat, the conversations they have, the television signals they receive, all travel the broad highways of sea and sky that men unsung defend.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:22 AM | Permalink