July 31, 2008

Jigsaw Flow

You've heard about flow - "the mental state of operation in which the person is fully immersed in what he or she is doing, characterized by a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity."

John Derbyshire's most reliable portal to flow is a jigsaw puzzle.  Being neither a child nor retired, he allows himself only one a year at Christmas time.

It would be satisfying to make some large case for the jigsaw puzzle, as an aid to mental improvement, or as a metaphor for life or the management of worldly affairs. Not much comes to mind. Certainly there are things worth nurturing here: forward planning, the division of tasks into sub-tasks, persistence and careful observation, faith in the possibility of bringing order out of chaos, flow. There is, though, an underlying futility to the business of spending many hours assembling something with which there is then nothing to be done but to disassemble it and return it to its box. Underlying futility? No, there is no large life lesson here, none at all, absolutely none...

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:29 PM | Permalink

July 30, 2008

Cosmic Dance

From Wikipedia's Image of the Day, a collection of images from the Hubble telescope Galaxies Gone Wild.

 Galaxies Wikipedia

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:36 AM | Permalink

July 29, 2008

REMBER - Huge Breakthrough in Alzheimer's

Daily pill that halts Alzheimer's is hailed as 'biggest breakthrough against disease for 100 years'

A new drug halts the devastating progress of Alzheimer’s disease, say British scientists.

It is said to be more than twice as effective as current treatments.

A daily capsule of rember, as the drug is known, stops Alzheimer’s disease progressing by as much as 81 per cent, according to trial results.

Patients with the brain disorder had no significant decline in their mental function over a 19-month period.

‘We appear to be bringing the worst affected parts of the brain functionally back to life,’ said Dr Claude Wischik, who led the research.

It is the first time medication has been developed to target the ‘tangles’ in the brain that destroy nerve cells, leading to deteriorating memory.

The drug helps to disrupt this process, preventing the formation of new tangles and loosening those already created.

Last night the findings were hailed as the biggest breakthrough in the battle against Alzheimer’s since 1907.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:55 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Finding your inner Frenchwoman

Finding your inner Frenchwoman

Stephanie Plentl heads to France for a holiday that teaches the tricks of Gallic chic – and discovers that it all begins with matching underwear.

1. Matching lingerie sets the foundation.
2. No sneakers or running shoes - Horreur
3. Only one glass of wine a day with dinner because an evening meal without wine is triste.
4. No dieting.  Only very small amounts of delicious food.
5. 'Physical sloppiness is an intellectual indicator."  So lip gloss to yoga class.
6. Lots of time on skin care
7. Scarves

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:33 PM | Permalink

July 28, 2008

The Yo-Yo Renaissance.

Deli clerk by day, by night the Yo-yo man astounds as you can see. 

Says Gary Wright

"The appeal is physical manipulation," he says.

"You're controlling something, and being in control is what everyone wants," he says.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:36 AM | Permalink

Real self-giving

Would you give your kidney to a perfect stranger? 

Anthony DeGuilo, a 36-year-old securities trader did, but not before overcoming obstacles, including a psychological evaluation. 

In the end, using cross-donations, Anthony's kidney made it possible to do four simultaneous transplants.

In Anthony's view, donors already get paid far more richly than they might in any marketplace. "It's a selfish act for me," he says. "The satisfaction is so profound. This is all for me."

The Kindness of Strangers.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:28 AM | Permalink

Contented Dementia

For those caring for a parent with Alzheimer's or dementia, Oliver James, one of Britain's leading clinical psychologists has a  new book that explains a revolutionary way to care for them, Using the Past to Sense of the Present

He observed the work of his mother-in-law, Penny Garner.

"The SPECAL method works, irrespective of the cause," says Garner. "It provides the key to communicating with the person and managing care in a way that vastly improves the quality of life."

As life expectancy increases, more people will develop dementia during their last years. The defining feature is generally described as short-term memory loss, but not by Garner. "The key factor for me is that people are no longer able to store new facts about what has just happened, while continuing to store new feelings. I use the analogy of a photograph album. What SPECAL does is to make a present out of the past."

Dorothy died in 1984, when Garner was busy raising her three daughters. In 1990, however, Garner began working at Burford Hospital, Oxfordshire, with a group of day patients. Talking to them and their carers she refined her methods so that now, in the course of a two-hour interview, she can show the family how to keep the person contented. This involves identifying a familiar theme from the relative's past which gives them a link to established routines and a sense of independence.

SPECAL also teaches carers to avoid asking questions, because that means the person with dementia has to search their recent memories - and that can distress them. Carers are taught to supply reassuring information if the person with dementia asks questions. What the carer says is less important than the feelings their remark generates. The third rule is never to contradict, because that will also cause upset.

The book 24 hour Wraparound Care for Lifelong Well-being is available in England, but not yet in the United States.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:17 AM | Permalink

Finding Inner Motivation

External motivations be they threats or rewards turn out to be ineffective, even counterproductive, in getting people to perform at their best because it undermines internal drives.

When Play Becomes Work

External rewards and punishments are counterproductive when it comes to activities that are meaningful -- tasks that telegraph something about a person's intellectual abilities, generosity, courage or values. People will voluntarily perform intellectually arduous work, for example, because it gives them pleasure to solve a puzzle or win a game of wits.
Deci's research into the counterproductive effects of threats and rewards has been replicated among high school students learning verbal skills, preschoolers trying to draw, and adults targeted by weight-loss, anti-smoking and traffic safety programs. In each case, external threats and rewards made it less likely that people would feel internally fired up about the goal.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:59 AM | Permalink

Autism and television

Gregg Easterbrook reports on the study that TV Really Might Cause Autism.

Today, Cornell University researchers are reporting what appears to be a statistically significant relationship between autism rates and television watching by children under the age of 3.
The Cornell study represents a potential bombshell in the autism debate. "We are not saying we have found the cause of autism, we're saying we have found a critical piece of evidence," Cornell researcher Michael Waldman told me.

If television viewing by toddlers is a factor in autism, the parents of afflicted children should not reproach themselves, as there was no warning of this risk. Now there is: The American Academy of Pediatrics currently recommends against any TV for children under the age of 2. Waldman thinks that until more is known about what triggers autism, families with children under the age of 3 should get them away from the television and keep them away.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:50 AM | Permalink

July 21, 2008

A Defining Event on the 90th Anniversary of the Execution of the Romanovs

Born after World War II, but old enough to remember the stories told after, I was deeply impressed in the sense of being marked indelibly with stories of the horrors in the concentration camps in Germany and in the former USSR.  Both were vivid examples of what could happen in countries that suppressed religion and religious worship. 

The Diary of Anne Frank made vivid what it was like to live in hiding and fear of being discovered and what girl could not deeply identify with the young Anne and wonder how she would have acted in the same situation.  Perhaps that why in college, I was most interested in studying Germany, Russia and China, totalitarian governments all.  I wanted to understand how that was felt in the daily lives of people.    You've heard that they governed through fear.  Fear, yes, but more than that.  A fear strengthened and potentiated by the breakdown in the web of trust that undergirds a truly civilized country. People are atomized, stripped of what is most personal and human about them.  From their personal bonds of blood and affection for family and friends to their relationship with the Divine.

Too often in news stories about post-Soviet Russia, Germany and China, the focus is on political or economic recovery.  There's more going on than that, witness Requiem for the Romanovs.  From what I read, it was a watershed cultural event that brought to the fore the question that until now have been evaded.

In her weeping, the soloist was not alone. Many of the more than 2,000 people who filled into the concert hall of the largest basilica in Russia, the Church of Christ the Savior, bombed by Stalin and rebuilt in the 1990s, wept openly as they listened and watched the tragedy of the last Romanovs unfold.

The story of the last days of the Romanovs is well known. Czar Nicholas II, embroiled in a terrible war with Germany and Austro-Hungary, decided to abdicate his throne on March 15, 1917. Without a single strong leader, Russia was soon in political turmoil. Out of the turmoil, the tiny but compact and single-minded Bolsheviks emerged as Russia's new rulers toward the end of 1917.

Nicholas and his family were soon placed under house arrest. They gardened, read books, prayed. Then, in the summer of 1918, on the evening of July 17, they were taken to the basement room of their prison, and shot to death. Their bodies were then burned.

Russia had made a clean break with its monarchical, and Christian, past.

The age of the "dictatorship of the proletariat" and of anti-Christian state atheism had begun.
the Requiem is far from a "nostalgic recollection" of the "good old days of the czars."

Instead, it is a searing socio-political critique of the atheism and persecution of religious belief central to Russia's communist regime.

While In the largest basilica in Russia, it was a cultural event not a religious service
"This is why we chose to organize this Requiem Concert. This is not a liturgy, not a Church celebration, but a cultural event. We want to participate in the cultural debate in Russia today, and make our case.

The Russian Orthodox Church  was the principal sponsor, supported by two American groups; the orchestra directed by a Russian general and the musicians former members of the armed forces.

Bishop Hilarion concluded tonight's Requiem for the Romanovs with these words: "The horror of a national tragedy could not destroy the hope for a breakthrough to light and the inspired certainty that the triumph of evil would be fleeting, and would be followed by a bright future, by growth in spiritual perfection, by restoration and revival. The heroism of the martyrs of the 20th century contains a reflection of the future Kingdom which is transfiguring everyone and everything to live in peace through Christ."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:47 AM | Permalink

July 20, 2008

They know about religion, but "they just don't get it"

The American students at Georgetown know about different religions but without a lived experience of an inner relationship with the Divine, "they just  don't get it". 

An Egyptian Muslim friend I met in Qatar helped me understand what that something was. Talking with Americans about faith and religion, he told me, is like having coffee with Forrest Gump: pleasant enough, but not of much substance. "They just don't have much to say because they just don't get it," he said.

The writer was a professor and priest in Qatar, now back home teaching future foreign service officers at Georgetown.

They just don't get it" is never something a teacher wants to hear. That's especially true when I think about our mission at Georgetown, where we educate many students who will become foreign service officers for the United States and other countries. One of the more important and pragmatic qualities I hope our students carry with them into those careers is a felt-in-the-bone understanding of what it is to live one's life committed to one's faith.

Most professors I know nod vigorously when I suggest to them that an understanding of faith and its claims on the imagination of faithful people is essential for future diplomats. "Of course, of course," they say. "If we don't know about Islam, we will never be able to help untangle the mess in the Middle East." I usually don't have the heart to tell them that they have missed my point entirely.

A Priest Walks into Qatar...

I have thought about that conversation for a long time. It has helped me understand what hobbles American higher education when it comes to educating people for careers in international affairs. It's not that we don't know about religion; it's that we don't understand faith and its life-shaping power.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:29 PM | Permalink

He draws 9 hours a day - at 112

He stopped school in the third grade, has lived in mental health centers since 1952 when he was diagnosed with schizophrenia and didn't begin drawing until his 80s.

Bent over or sitting at a table, gripping a ballpoint pen, marker or crayon, Frank Calloway spends his days turning visions from his youth into lively murals _ and at 112 years old, the images of his childhood are a window to another time.

Drawn on sheets of butcher paper and sometimes stretching to more than 30 feet long, the works mostly show rural agricultural scenes, with buildings, trains and vehicles straight out of the early 20th century. And his colorful creations are gaining more attention in the art world.

The works by a man who has lived about half his life in state mental health centers will be part of an exhibit this fall at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore. His caretakers have suspended sales of his artwork until after the show after finding out some of his drawings could sell for thousands of dollars.
"Most people see his age. You know, what I see is his ability, the beauty that he actually puts on paper, that comes out of him and his mind," she said.

Calloway's circle of admirers extends outside Alabama.

"There's a presence with him, I'm telling you, that feels angelic," said Rebecca Hoffberger, founder and director of the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, which will borrow 18 scrolls from Calloway for an exhibit in October called "The Marriage of Art, Science and Philosophy."

Plans are for Calloway to attend the opening of the Baltimore show. It will be his first trip on an airplane and likely the first time he's left Alabama. Hutto said she looks forward to sharing his work with a wider audience.

"His art overcomes boundaries," she said. "People may say, 'Well, he's a folk artist. I don't like folk art.' But if you ever meet him, there is such life in what he creates, and you can't look at one of his paintings without seeing that smile, without seeing that gentle man."

Alabama man turns 112, still spends days drawing.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:58 PM | Permalink

July 19, 2008

B16 Down Under

Pope Benedict addressing the youth at World Youth Day in Sydney Australia.

"Our world has grown weary of greed, exploitation and division, of the tedium of false idols and piecemeal responses, and the pain of false promises. Our hearts and minds are yearning for a vision of life where love endures, where gifts are shared, where unity is built, where freedom finds meaning in truth, and where identity is found in respectful communion. This is the work of the Holy Spirit!"

Dear friends, life is not governed by chance; it is not random. Your very existence has been willed by God, blessed and given a purpose. Life is not just a succession of events or experiences, helpful though many of them are. It is a search for the true, the good and the beautiful. It is to this end that we make our choices; it is for this that we exercise our freedom; it is in this – in truth, in goodness, and in beauty – that we find happiness and joy. Do not be fooled by those who see you as just another consumer in a market of undifferentiated possibilities, where choice itself becomes the good, novelty usurps beauty, and subjective experience displaces truth.


Dear friends, in your homes, schools and universities, in your places of work and recreation, remember that you are a new creation! Not only do you stand before the Creator in awe, rejoicing at his works, you also realize that the sure foundation of humanity’s solidarity lies in the common origin of every person, the high-point of God’s creative design for the world. As Christians you stand in this world knowing that God has a human face – Jesus Christ – the "way" who satisfies all human yearning, and the "life" to which we are called to bear witness, walking always in his light

Said the police

"I've never seen a crowd like this, it's even better than an Olympic crowd," New South Wales police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said today.

"Hundreds of thousands of young people moving through the city not affected by drugs and alcohol has been such a wonderful experience.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:30 AM | Permalink

July 18, 2008

What not to get for a baby shower

I laughed out loud at the 20 Baby Products Great for Traumatizing Infants.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:29 AM | Permalink

How would you choose to go?

How would you choose to go?  Cancer, heart attack or just old age?

That's the question posed by geriatrician Dr. Joanne Lynn 'How Many of You Expect to Die?'

In the fine New Old Age blog by Jane Gross in the New York Times. Don't miss the comments.

What got me was the excellence of the graphic by Joanne Lynn.

 3 Ways  To Die

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:08 AM | Permalink

July 16, 2008

The Importance of Earthworms

I loved this article and was entranced with the descriptions of good, labor-saving design.

My Grandfather's Earthworm Farm

It is important to get a picture of the layout of the farm, in order to understand its efficient operation without waste of time and energy. It was divided into four tracts of forty acres each. The homestead, with orchard, garden and park occupied one forty. Near the centre of the 160 acres was located the great barnyard of about two acres, with broad swinging gates in each of the four sides, opening into lanes which led into each of the forty-acre tracts. Thus the stock could be herded into any part of the farm, simply by opening the proper gate and driving them through the lane into the particular section that was to be pastured.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:15 PM | Permalink

We won. They won

MIchael Yon, the best reporter in Iraq writes Success in Iraq.

The war continues to abate in Iraq. Violence is still present, but, of course, Iraq was a relatively violent place long before Coalition forces moved in. I would go so far as to say that barring any major and unexpected developments (like an Israeli air strike on Iran and the retaliations that would follow), a fair-minded person could say with reasonable certainty that the war has ended. A new and better nation is growing legs. What's left is messy politics that likely will be punctuated by low-level violence and the occasional spectacular attack. Yet, the will of the Iraqi people has changed, and the Iraqi military has dramatically improved, so those spectacular attacks are diminishing along with the regular violence. Now it's time to rebuild the country, and create a pluralistic, stable and peaceful Iraq. That will be long, hard work. But by my estimation, the Iraq War is over. We won. Which means the Iraqi people won.

I wish I could say the same for Afghanistan. But that war we clearly are losing: I am preparing to go there and see the situation for myself. My friends and contacts who have a good understanding of Afghanistan are, to a man, pessimistic about the current situation. Interestingly, however, every one of them believes that Afghanistan can be turned into a success. They all say we need to change our approach, but in the long-term Afghanistan can stand on its own. The sources range from four-stars to civilians from the United States, Great Britain and other places. A couple years ago, some of these sources believed that defeat was imminent in Iraq. They were nearly right about Iraq, although some of them knew far less about Iraq than they do about Afghanistan. But it's clear that hard days are ahead in Afghanistan. We just lost nine of our soldiers in a single firefight, where the enemy entered a base and nearly overran it.

Fred Kagan and others seems to agree there''s a New Reality in Iraq

It is time for Americans to recognize it's a whole new ballgame in Iraq. The civil war is over, American troops are not an "irritant" fueling the unrest, and far from becoming dependent upon us, the Iraqi government and the army show more determination every day to run their country and to protect it. But they continue to want and need our assistance.

While victory in war is never certain until the war is over, the odds are strongly with us for once – provided we do the right thing. That is to stand by our best ally in the war against al Qaeda, and the struggle to contain Iran.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:09 PM | Permalink

Aging at different times

Different parts of your body age at different times.

lungs start aging at 20
bladder starts aging at 65
eyes starts aging at 40
hair starts aging at 30

For all the other parts and what it means, best read When your body really starts going downhill.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:47 PM | Permalink

July 15, 2008

The Economics of Love

Ben Stein on Lessons in Love, by Way of Economics

In general, and with rare exceptions, the returns in love situations are roughly proportional to the amount of time and devotion invested. The amount of love you get from an investment in love is correlated, if only roughly, to the amount of yourself you invest in the relationship.

If you invest caring, patience and unselfishness, you get those things back.
High-quality bonds consistently yield more return than junk, and so it is with high-quality love...In love, the data is even clearer. Stay with high-quality human beings. And once you find that you are in a junk relationship, sell immediately. Junk situations can look appealing and seductive, but junk is junk. Be wary of it unless you control the market.

(Or, as I like to tell college students, the absolutely surest way to ruin your life is to have a relationship with someone with many serious problems, and to think that you can change this person.)
In every long-term romantic situation, returns are greater when there is a monopoly. If you have to share your love with others, if you have to compete even after a brief while with others, forget the whole thing. You want to have monopoly bonds with your long-term lover

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:12 AM | Permalink

July 14, 2008

Unhappy women

I'm late in catching up with this.  I must confess I don't understand it.

Why are women so unhappy?

By almost any economic or social indicator, the last 35 years have been great for women. Birth control has given them the ability to control reproduction. They are obtaining far more education and making inroads in many professions that were traditionally male-dominated. The gender wage gap has declined substantially. Women are living longer then ever. Studies even suggest that men are starting to take on more housework and child-raising responsibilities.

Given all these changes, the evidence presented by Stevenson and Wolfers is striking: women report being less happy today than they were 35 years ago, especially relative to the corresponding happiness rates for men. This is true of working women and stay-at-home moms, married women and those that are single, the highly educated and the less educated. It is worse for older women; those aged 18-29 don’t seem to be doing too badly. Women with kids have fared worse than women without kids. The only notable exception to the pattern is black women, who are happier today than they were three decades ago.

I can only hope they will get happier as they get older.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:56 PM | Permalink

Car Key Conversation

No, it's not your teen-agers, it's your parents.  From a new blog in The New York Times called The New Old Age comes The Car Key Conversation.

Now I learn that the “car key conversation” is the one that caregivers dread most. Thirty-six percent of adult children polled by the Web site Caring.com and the National Safety Council said that talking to their parents about the need to stop driving would be harder than discussing funeral plans (29 percent) or selling the family home (18 percent).

Gradually persuading our elderly parents to stop driving, rather than one day having no choice but to take away their car keys, is one of Caring.com’s primary topics. Among the site’s online
instructionals: “How To Know When Your Parents Should Stop Driving.” “What To Do If Your Parents Refuse To Stop Driving.” “How To Approach Your Parents With Concern About Their Driving.” “Why Giving Up the Car Keys Is Such A Loaded Issue for Your Aging Parents.” And the list goes on.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:53 PM | Permalink

Making Sense of Older and Happier Adults

"The image of youth or young adulthood as the best time of life is probably not an accurate stereotype."

The Washington Post makes sense of several studies pointing to the greater happiness of older adults in Older Adults May Be Happier Than Younger Ones.

The important finding that people who are biologically older are happier than younger adults runs counter to many people's expectations.

The younger adults, Smith said, had less trouble with their health but had many more of the other kinds of predicaments, and those, in the long run, tended to trump their better health.

Yet another study, Smith said, looked at job satisfaction among people of different ages and again found that those who kept working past age 65 had the highest level of job satisfaction -- going against the stereotype that older people keep working mostly because they can't do without the money.
The studies present an interesting puzzle, said Catherine Ross, a sociologist at the University of Texas at Austin. Yang's finding that older adults are generally happier than younger ones seems superficially at odds with many studies that have found that older people are at higher risk for depression and other mental health problems.
In line with Yang's findings, Ross and Mirowsky found that advanced age was positively correlated with feeling positive emotions. But the researchers also found that being older was negatively correlated with active emotions. Older people, in other words, had both more positive and more passive emotional states.

"A lot of research in different areas finds the elderly have higher levels of depression, so it looked as though mental health was bad among the elderly," she said. "What this study does is say, 'Yeah, it is not that the elderly have negative emotions, but that when they are negative, they are passive.' "
Young people -- the very people we think from the stereotype are best off -- in fact have high levels of anger and anxiety and also high levels of depression, compared to middle-aged adults."

Younger adults were far more likely to have financial worries, troubled emotional relationships and professional stressors, she said.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:30 AM | Permalink

What happened 5000 years ago?

If home sapiens has been on earth for 100,000 years, why did God sit idly by for  95,000 years before getting involved asks Christopher Hitchens.  Was he napping for 98% of human history?

Dinesh D'Souza answers

The Population Reference Bureau estimates that the number of people who have ever been born is approximately 105 billion. Of this number, about 2 percent were born before Christ came to earth.

"So in a sense," Kreps notes, "God's timing couldn't have been more perfect. If He'd come earlier in human history, how reliable would the records of his relationship with man be? But He showed up just before the exponential explosion in the world's population, so even though 98 percent of humanity's timeline had passed, only 2 percent of humanity had previously been born, so 98 percent of us have walked the earth since the Redemption."

With an argument that boomerangs, D'Souza continues

Homo sapiens has been on the planet for 100,000 years, but apparently for 95,000 of those years he accomplished virtually nothing. Besides some cave paintings, no real art, no writing, no inventions, no culture, no civilization.  Both the wheel and Egyptian hieroglyphics are only 5000 years old.

How is this possible? Were our ancestors, otherwise physically and mentally undistinguishable from us, such blithering idiots that they couldn't figure out anything other than the arts of primitive warfare?

So how did Homo sapiens, heretofore such a slacker, suddenly get so smart? Scholars have made strenuous efforts to account for this, but no one has offered a persuasive account.
Well, there is one obvious way to account for this historical miracle. It seems as if some transcendent being reached down and breathed some kind of a spirit or soul into man, because after accomplishing virtually nothing for 98 percent of our existence, we have in the past 2 percent of human history produced everything from the pyramids to Proust, from Socrates to computer software.

He really captured my attention.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:16 AM | Permalink

July 13, 2008

Folding Clothes

Excuse Me.  do You Work Here?  No, I Just Need to Fold Clothes

Thousands of neat freaks picked up the habit as clerks at the gap

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:35 PM | Permalink

July 11, 2008

Idiocies here

When a white county commissioner in Texas said that central collections had become a 'black hole' because paperwork had become lost in the office, another commissioner one John Wiley Price demanded an apology because the term black hole was 'racially insensitive'

Explaining that a black hole was a science term that referred to 'the invisible remains of a collapsed star, with an intense gravitational field from which neither light nor matter can escape" didn't help.

Price went on to say that language such as 'angel food cake' and 'devil's food cake' were also racially insensitive.

Following a complaint by a women's magazine editor, all 'Men at Work' signs in Atlanta will disappear to be replaced 'Workers Ahead'.

"We're calling on the rest of the nation to follow suit and make a statement that we will not accept these subtle forms of discrimination," said Good, 48.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:27 PM | Permalink

More Craziness from England

Dogs must wear booties.

The London Times
Police sniffer dogs will have to wear bootees when searching the homes of Muslims so as not to cause offence.

Toddlers who say 'Yuk" will be reported to local council for racism
London Times

Toddlers who say yuk to unfamiliar foods could be branded racist by government sponsored agency.    The National Children's Bureau lists other types of toddler racism -name-calling, casual thoughtless comments and peer group relationships.

Such incidents should be reported to local council.

Plans to clear undergrowth from a notorious gay cruising spot branded discriminatory.
Bristol City Council wants to prune bushes and remove cover from an area known as the Downs to improve the landscape and encourage rare wildlife. 

Work on the beauty spot has been temporarily delayed while talks with gay rights groups take place to try and break the deadlock.

English, non-Muslim schoolboys punished for refusing to kneel down and pray to Allah.
Daily Mail

Then two boys got detention and all the other children missed their refreshment break because of the teacher.

"Not only was it forced upon them, my daughter was told off for not doing it right.

"They'd never done it before and they were supposed to do it in another language

Why is this man so happy?

 Al Qaeda Ambassador Europe

Al Qaeda's "ambassador to Europe', one of the world's most dangerous terrorists was released on bail from a high security prison because he could not be sent home to Jordan lest his human rights be breached.  He was released on bail and  returned to his £ 800,000 home where he and his family receive an estimated £50,000 a year in benefits

Betrayal of the Ghurkas
For 200 years Nepalese Ghurkas have fought in the British Army in both world wars, the Falklands, Afghanistan and Iraq.  About 200,000 have fought and some 43,000 were killed or wounded.  Yet, those who want to emigrate to Britain were denied visas on the ground that their ties to Britain were "insufficiently strong."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:16 PM | Permalink

The Sight of Your Baby Smiling Can Be Addictive


While this is not surprising to any parent, scientists have now used MRIs to show that the sight of a baby's face sends a rush of blood to the brain's pleasure center, similar to the sense of elation that sex, drugs and other addictive behaviors bring.

The researchers' findings should come as no surprise to most parents, such as one of the study's subjects, Katrina Lyons, who can't get enough of the sight of her two son's beaming faces, and has photos of her children all over the house. "It's got to be like crack," she says. "I just have to see them everywhere."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:15 PM | Permalink

No Cure for Collective Funk

In the Washington Post, following the survey by the Pew Center that measured the pessimism, dissatisfaction and general curmudgeonliness of 2413 adults in various generations

The results validate any member of the Greatest Generation who ever looked at his or her offspring and sadly thought, "soft." Simply put, boomers are a bunch of . . . whiners.

Baby Boomers Got the Blues - Viewing Life Through Morose-Colored Glasses

"People born in times of cultural renewal tend to take an overt attitude of pessimism," Howe says.

They see their pessimism as a tonic that will wake up the world, then they just end up drunk on disappointment.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:18 AM | Permalink

July 10, 2008

No Beer, No Civilization

George Will on the Survival of the Sudsiest

"The search for unpolluted drinking water is as old as civilization itself. As soon as there were mass human settlements, waterborne diseases like dysentery became a crucial population bottleneck. For much of human history, the solution to this chronic public-health issue was not purifying the water supply. The solution was to drink alcohol."

Often the most pure fluid available was alcohol -- in beer and, later, wine -- which has antibacterial properties. Sure, alcohol has its hazards, but as Johnson breezily observes, "Dying of cirrhosis of the liver in your forties was better than dying of dysentery in your twenties." Besides, alcohol, although it is a poison, and an addictive one, became, especially in beer, a driver of a species-strengthening selection process.
The gene pools of human settlements became progressively dominated by the survivors -- by those genetically disposed to, well, drink beer.

"Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."

Benjamin Franklin

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:19 AM | Permalink

July 9, 2008

Who pays income taxes?

In the Wall St Journal, a leak from an upcoming IRS study on who pays how much in taxes.

My contacts at the Treasury Department tell me that for the first time in decades, and perhaps ever, the richest 1% of tax filers will have paid more than 40% of the income tax burden. The top 50% will account for 97% of all federal income taxes, while the bottom 50% will have paid just 3%.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:59 PM | Permalink

Sound and Light in the Caves

They spent a lot of time there and left wonderful paintings in places like Lascaux in southeast France, now closed to the public who must content themselves with a virtual tour at the link.


Says an acoustic expert, the most densely painted areas were those with the best acoustics.

Humming into some bends in the wall even produced sounds mimicking the animals painted there.
With only dull light available from a torch, which couldn't be carried into very narrow passages, the ancient hunters had to use their voices like sonar to explore the crooks and crannies of a newfound cave.

Acoustics expert: Cavemen Must Have Loved to Sing

Because Paleolithic humans had a deep connection with the melodic properties that helped them navigate in a cave, they likely celebrated the unique acoustics by singing in conjunction with their painting sessions.

"Why would the Paleolithic tribes choose preferably resonant locations for painting," he said, "if it were not for making sounds and singing in some kind of ritual celebrations related with the pictures?"

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:11 AM | Permalink

Adding to the costs in your life

What do car insurance, job, housing, utilities, cell phones, school loans, elective medical procedures and marriage have in common?

They all cost more if you have a bad credit rating.

Bad credit hurts in many ways

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:37 AM | Permalink

July 7, 2008

Other great news from the weekend of the 4th

Some would consider that news that contrary to what we were all brought up to believe  mayonnaise protects against food spoilage the best of the weekend.

But there was other fantastic news.

From Iran
Ahmed Batebi, a leader of the Iranian student movement  escaped from an Iranian jail after being imprisoned and tortured for nine years  and made his way to the U.S.  He was interviewed on the Voice of America.

 Ahmed  Batebi -Flees To Usa

I wish each and every Iranian could travel abroad, come to the U.S. or go to Europe, for just one week, and feel, smell, and breathe freedom, human dignity, and realize the value of their lives.

Gateway Pundit has lots more on Batebi, Iran's most famous dissident.

From Iraq
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki announced on Saturday, "We have defeated terrorism". Gateway Pundit again with lots more.

550 metric tons of yellowcake uranium were transported in 37 military flights from Iraq to Canada.

From Colombia
The joyful news that Ingrid Betancourt and three American hostages were released from a jungle prison where they were held by the revolutionary terrorist group called FARC in a spectacular, impeccable operation by the Colombian armed forces with advice, support and training from the Americans and the Israelis.

 Ingrid Release

"I was in chains all the time, 24 hours a day, for three years," she told Europe 1 radio. "I tried to wear those chains with dignity, even if I felt that it was unbearable."

Asked whether she had been tortured, she said, "Yes, yes," and said her captors had fallen into "diabolical behavior," adding: "It was so monstrous, I think they themselves were disgusted."

She called her rescue "a miracle of the Virgin Mary" and said: "You need tremendous spirituality to stop yourself falling into the abyss." She had made herself a wooden rosary in the jungle, she said.

 Ingrid Tarmac Thanks

Thanking God on the tarmac.  When was the last time you saw something like this?

"God, this is a miracle," Betancourt said. "Such a perfect operation is unprecedented."

Just how were the rebels fooled?  Mary Anastasia O'Grady reports in the WSJ on FARC's 'Human Rights" Friends.

It may have taken years for army intelligence to infiltrate the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, and it may have been tough to convincingly impersonate rebels. But what seems to have been a walk in the park was getting the FARC to believe that an NGO was providing resources to help it in the dirty work of ferrying captives to a new location.

Many of the NGOs in Colombia are nothing but fronts for terrorists.
Left-wing NGOs have made undermining the Colombian government's credibility a priority for many years.....
Since the late 1990s, the NGO practice of dragging the military into court on allegations of human rights violations has destroyed the careers of some of the country's finest officers, even though most of these men were found innocent after years of proceedings. "Judicial warfare" turned out to be especially effective because under legislation pushed by Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, "credible" charges against officers put at risk U.S. military aid unless the accused was removed. The NGOs knew that they only had to point fingers to get rid of an effective leader and demoralize the ranks. Given this history, it's not surprising that the FARC thought a helicopter from an NGO was perfectly natural.

What's particularly disturbing is what appears in notes captured from FARC
Piedad says that Chávez has Uribe going crazy. He doesn't know what to do. That Nancy Pelosi helps and is ready to help in the swap [hostages in exchange for captured guerrillas]. That she has designated [U.S. Congressman Jim] McGovern for this.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:25 PM | Permalink

One brave Canadian on Canada's human rights commissions.

David Warren reports

We have seen lately what happens when “human rights” commissions turn themselves loose on rightwing journalists and the periodicals that publish them, from Maclean’s magazine, down. We seldom see reported the myriad small decisions, in which defenceless little people are hauled before the tribunals, stripped of all due process, ground down and destroyed both financially and spiritually.

In the course of this last grim week, the O
ntario government of Dalton McGuinty quietly announced a huge expansion of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, giving its apparatchiks enhanced powers of intrusion, removing the cap on fines, providing a new class of lawyers to assist in prosecutions, and opening 22 new “hearing and mediation rooms” around the province where these star chambers will conduct their quasi-legal proceedings.

As a writer who does not subscribe to the “politically correct” ideology, it is reasonable to expect that, sooner or later, they will come for me....

I was born a free citizen of the Old Canada, and
before her God I declare, that I will go to jail rather than acknowledge the legitimacy of any “human rights” commission. I invite other journalists and indeed, every other Canadian, to declare likewise.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:19 PM | Permalink

Good advice for finding the ideal husband

Maureen Dowd takes lessons from a Catholic priest on how to find An Ideal Husband.

Never marry a man who has no friends.
Does he use money responsibly?
Is he overly attached to his mother?
Does he have a sense of humor?
Avoid the strong, silent type. 
A therapist friend insists that ‘more marriages are killed by silence than by violence.  The strong, silent type can be charming but ultimately destructive. That world-class misogynist, Paul of Tarsus, got it right when he said, ‘In all your dealings with one another, speak the truth to one another in love that you may grow up.’
Take a good, unsentimental look at his family.
Finally: Does he possess those character traits that add up to a good human being — the willingness to forgive, praise, be courteous?

All good advice.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:07 PM | Permalink

July 6, 2008

Report on the 4th

The 4th of July was splendid especially since I had the privilege to see the celebration of America's birthday  through a foreigner's eye.  When a new friend, a visiting scholar at Harvard said she had no plans for the 4th of July, I invited her to spend it with me and another friend.

After a lunch of hotdogs, beans, chips and beer, we visited Lexington Common and the Minuteman National Park .  My foreign friend was much impressed with the natural beauty, the modesty of the monuments and the innocence in the best sense of word of the national park rangers who told the thrilling story of the first battle of the revolutionary war.  This could never happen in Europe she said. The closest a European could come to the evident feeling of national pride she saw all around was winning a soccer match.  Later at the Boston Pops concert on the Esplanade and the fabulous fireworks, she was amazed at the tenor of the crowd, some 500,000 strong, particularly its civility and self discipline.  Living very near a soccer stadium in Europe, she's used to drunken louts who crash bottles on the streets, get into fights and vomit in the nearest space available.  Of the crowd in Boston she said "This is so civilized."

 Boston 4Thjuly Fireworks

Catching up on all the coverage of the 4th, the following caught my attention.

Thomas Sowell on Does Patriotism Matter?

When the intelligentsia in France launched a systematic purge of textbooks after the First World War in order to promote internationalism and pacifism, the epic defense of France seen during the First World War evolved into a "sudden and humiliating collapse" in six weeks to the Nazis despite superior French tanks and planes.

Roger Kimball's thoughtful essay on July 4, America and multiculturalism
I  fear that for every schoolchild standing at attention for the National Anthem, there is a teacher or lawyer or judge or politician or ACLU employee militating against the hegemony of the dominant culture, the insupportable intrusion of white, Christian, “Eurocentric” values into the curriculum, the school pageant, the town green, etc., etc.
Those forces are not isolated phenomena; they are not even confined to America. They are part of a global crisis in national identity, coefficients of the sudden collapse of self-confidence in the West–a collapse that shows itself in everything from swiftly falling birthrates in “old Europe” to the attack on the whole idea of the sovereign nation state. It is hard to avoid thinking that a people that has lost the will to reproduce or govern itself is a people on the road to destruction.
The threat shows itself in many ways, from culpable complacency to the corrosive imperatives of “multiculturalism” and political correctness. ... In essence, as Huntington notes, multiculturalism is “anti-European civilization. . . . It is basically an anti-Western ideology.”

The multiculturalists claim to be fostering a progressive cultural cosmopolitanism distinguished by superior sensitivity to the downtrodden and dispossessed. In fact, they encourage an orgy of self-flagellating liberal guilt as impotent as it is insatiable. The “sensitivity” of the multiculturalist is an index not of moral refinement but of moral vacuousness.
For what we have witnessed with the triumph of multiculturalism is a kind of hypertrophy or perversion of liberalism, as its core doctrines are pursued to the point of caricature.

While in Bagdad, the wonderful sight of 1200 soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines in the largest re-enlistment in history, in Saddham's old palace.

The Mudville Gazette reports one command sergeant said
I'll always remember the message you've sent to the adversary: the same guys and girls who've been kicking your butt for the past five years signed up for some more.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:34 PM | Permalink

July 4, 2008

Happy Fourth Everyone

Happy Fourth of July!

The greatness of the liberty we've been given is best seen in Lady Liberty, Bartholdi's great sculpture. 

Barrymore Laurence Scherer clues us in to some of the allegorical meaning in Liberty as Statue and Symbol.

Liberty's serious demeanor underscores the idea that liberty itself comes at a cost and must not be taken lightly; her robes evoke the republican ideals of ancient Greece and Rome. Her left hand and arm hold a tablet of the law -- like that of Moses descending from Mount Sinai -- inscribed "JULY IV MDCCLXXVI," the birth date of the nation.

 Lady Liberty     Liberty Torch

Three heart-warming stories.

Beginning with the generosity of donors to the Heifer Project and a pair of goats comes The Luckiest Girl in the World.  Nicholas Kristof tells the story.

 Human Statues Ladyliberty

Work only immigrants would do. Huddled Statues, Working to Be Free. 

After 9/11, one woman with no ties to the military found her patriotic calling,  Operation Gratitude.

She delivered more than 350,000 packages to soldiers who used the Beanie Babies to reward young Iraqi children for information on hidden IEDs.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:23 AM | Permalink

July 1, 2008

Samurai Granny

She's 77, only 5 feet tall, but she's a trained master in an array of martial arts.

The military in Italy have hired her to train recruits in hand-to-hand combat.

Apparently being beaten up by the Samarui Granny does wonders to motivate the new soldiers.

Italian soldiers floored by 77-year-old Japanese woman

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:21 PM | Permalink

Forty percent in a 'vegetative state' are misdiagnosed

John Cornwell writes about those trapped inside their bodies, apparently switched off to the world, 40% of whom are misdiagnosed in The Undead.

here’s at least one mordantly amusing and true story told to me by a psychologist at Putney’s Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability. “Young man with motorbike head injury in a coma. His mum, a keen evangelical, comes every day with friends to sing Onward, Christian Soldiers by his bedside. She’s hoping to stimulate his brain into action. It works: he comes round, but he can’t speak. So they fit him up with one of those Stephen Hawking-type laptops, and the first words he speaks are: “For God’s sake, Mum, shut it!” That’s about as funny as it gets on a brain-injury ward, but there’s a serious take-home message. Even minimally aware patients can retain emotions, personality, a capacity to suffer – and, as the young biker showed, attitude.

Cornwell writes about a small group of colleagues, Owen, the Prof,  Pickard Menon  and Coleman who are collaborating on innovative techniques for brain-damaged patients, the Impaired Consciousness Group.

The biggest, most tragic clinical myth about brain injury today is that PVS can be reliably diagnosed by bedside observation alone. It has in fact been known for at least a decade, ever since a key survey of brain-injured patients, that misdiagnosis of the condition runs at more than 40%, a statistic originally calculated by Professor Keith Andrews, former head of the Putney hospital, and confirmed by recent surveys in Europe and North America.

It's essential that we do the necessary imaging and brain-scanning to get the true information about patients before pulling the plug.    The demand for fresh organs for transplant is too great.

According to Steven Laureys, professor of neurology at Liège University, there is constant pressure in many parts of the developed world to withdraw sustenance from vegetative patients in order to allow them to die so that their body parts can be harvested. In a recent study, Laureys reports, “slightly less than half of surveyed US neurologists and nursing-home directors believed that patients in a vegetative state could be declared dead”. His remarks should be set against the background of widespread shortages of organs and body parts for transplantation.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:38 PM | Permalink

Paglia on Feminism

When I heard that Camille Paglia was going to speak on feminism, I pay attention.  I made immediate plans to attend her lecture at Harvard in April on The Legacy and Future of Feminism.

The lecture is now online in Boston University's Arion entitled Feminism Past and Present, Ideology, Action and Reform.

Just a tidbit
we must stop seeing everything in life through the narrow lens of gender. If women expect equal treatment in society, they must stop asking for infantilizing special protections. With freedom comes personal responsibility.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:32 PM | Permalink

Misbegotten health policies for our daughters

Birth control  and sex education does no good for teen-age girls who want to get pregnant. 

Girls know how to get pregnant.  Why do they choose to do so is the question.

In Planned Teen Parenthood, Daniel Moloney quotes research of sociologists who spent five years living in the same neighborhoods with poor unwed mothers.

While the poor women we interviewed saw marriage as a luxury, something they aspired to but feared they might never achieve, they judged children to be a necessity, an absolutely essential part of a young woman’s life, the chief source of identity and meaning.

Moloney points out that providing contraception to teenagers without their parental consent or notification not only is common practice at high schools  but totally counter-productive.

These girls need more parental involvement, not less. These young girls know how to have babies, so further sex ed isn’t needed. They want to have babies, so contraception is beside the point. The problem is that they think that they are ready to have babies, and they aren’t.

That’s where the parents should be stepping in, helping the girls to realize that they aren’t ready to be mothers...

Studies show that teens are less likely to have sex if they think their parents disapprove. But parents are often kept in the dark, thanks to misbegotten health care policies which view them as a threat to their daughter’s best interests.

Our nation’s “experts” are spectacularly ill-equipped to deal with teenage girls who want to be mothers. Indeed, laws designed to make contraceptives available to teenagers often make the problem worse.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:27 PM | Permalink

Accidental Fungus

Accidental fungus leads to promising cancer drug

A drug developed using nanotechnology and a fungus that contaminated a lab experiment may be broadly effective against a range of cancers, U.S. researchers reported on Sunday.

The drug, called lodamin, was improved in one of the last experiments overseen by Dr. Judah Folkman, a cancer researcher who died in January. Folkman pioneered the idea of angiogenesis therapy -- starving tumors by preventing them from growing blood supplies.

Lodamin is an angiogenesis inhibitor that Folkman's team has been working to perfect for 20 years. Writing in the journal Nature Biotechnology, his colleagues say they developed a formulation that works as a pill, without side-effects.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:11 AM | Permalink