June 30, 2009

"Isn't saving the planet grand"

The horrific solution of  the cap and trade legislation is far worse than the problem.

The Waxman-Markey Travesty

The formulation of the so-called Waxman-Markey bill was less traditional legislative sausage-making than an unspeakable practice out of The Jungle. Its architects bought off every possible interest group no matter what the policy consequences until they had a bare majority to slam it through the House sight unseen (a physical copy of the final bill didn’t yet exist when it passed)
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Originally, the Obama administration counted on $80 billion a year from the government’s sale of emissions credits. To win over industry, Waxman-Markey gives the credits away for free. Poof! There goes the revenue.
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The upshot is that an Environmental Protection Agency analysis says that under Waxman-Markey, there will be no reduction in emissions by 2020. The progressive Breakthrough Institute estimates that emissions could continue at their current business-as-usual rate through 2030. Perversities abound. According to the Los Angeles Times, under the bill, the U.S. “would use more carbon-dioxide heavy coal in 2020 than it did in 2005.” Time writes that “the total amount of renewable energy generation under Waxman-Markey would actually be less than the renewable energy that would have been produced without the bill.”
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Even if Waxman-Markey were perfectly formulated, it would reduce global surface temperatures by only one-tenth of 1 degree Celsius in 100 years. That’s a negligible difference, purchased at a great price.


The only people who benefit are the "permanent class of government-addicted elites"

The Obama/Pelosi/Reid Democrats in charge of everything in Washington have decided to order everything on the menu, and a permanent class of government-addicted elites --lawyers, economists, think-tankers, MSMers, senior bureaucrats-- are cheering them on because the growth in the size and complexity of government means a growth in the demand curve for specialist services at specialist prices.

The jobs supposedly created are an illusion.

Looking at the experience of creating green jobs in Spain which bet heavily on that premise and the promise of wind energy, a recent study found that each green job cost more than a million dollars to create and resulted in the destruction elsewhere of 2.2. jobs.

The Beacon Hill Institute at Suffolk University in Boston released a study today finding that the studies claiming economic benefits to government imposed green jobs were seriously flawed and that such programs actually hurt the economy.

Proponents of “green collar” jobs promise that government subsidization of these jobs will create a net increase in employment, economic growth, recovery from the current crisis, and energy savings, all in addition to environmental benefits. Unfortunately, these claims are based on seriously flawed economic analysis.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:21 PM | Permalink

Breitbart's laws

Richard Fernandez, Carnival of grotesques

My first reactions to Andrew Breitbart’s article were a) that the lines between the serious and bizarre in modern culture have drawn dangerously near each other; and b) who heck makes up rules like “Black beats white. Gay beats white. Black beats gay.” I’m sure that Breitbart is right in perceiving them - in fact we should call them Breitbart’s Laws.
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If Poets were the unacknowledged legislators of Shelley’s world, then who are unacknowledged legislators of ours? If Shelley’s commentary remains valid then the true authors of Breitbart’s Laws are the Carnival of Grotesques collectively referred to as popular culture. They make the rules to which we subconsciously conform.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:39 PM | Permalink

Bungee Dating

When you can learn an important lesson from the experience of others, count yourself lucky.  In Bungee Dating in New York City, Gerard Vanderleun tells the story of his friend last night and it's not to be missed.

Bottom line, when you're going out on a 'non-date' with a girl you like who's under a lot a stress, a mutual massage spa salon is not the best idea for reasons you will find out.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:36 PM | Permalink

McDo in Paris

How McDonald's Conquered France

In the battle for France, Jose Bové, the protester who vandalized a McDonald's in 1999 and was then running for president, proved to be no match for Le Big Mac....By 2007, France had become the second-most profitable market in the world for McDonald's, surpassed only by the land that gave the world fast food. Against McDonald's, Bové had lost in a landslide.
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 Mcdo France

for a limited time with pepper sauce

McDonald's France was sourcing 75 percent of its ingredients domestically, and he felt it was imperative from a PR standpoint to force French farmers, hypocritically applauding Bové, to publicly acknowledge the large volume of business that they were doing with McDo.
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They came, they ate, and they lingered. As Gravier artfully put it, "The French population uses McDonald's in a very French way; it is fast food, but not that fast."...Americans visited McDonald's more often than the French, at all hours of the day, frequently alone, and opted for takeout 70 percent of the time. The French spent more money per visit, came in groups more often than Americans, and did 70 percent of their eating during regular lunch and dinner hours. "We have a food culture in France; eating is not a feeding moment, it is a social moment," Gravier said.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:00 PM | Permalink

The Little Red Schoolhouse

In the Wall  Street Journal today,  a review by Bill Kaufman of a new book that extols the virtues of one room schoolhouses that only became evident after they were lost, Small Wonder by Jonathan Zimmerman.

 Small Wonder Zimmerman
"Small Wonder: The Little Red Schoolhouse in History and Memory (Icons of America)" (Jonathan Zimmerman)

In One Room, Many Advantages

The attempt to abolish one-room schoolhouses, whether by the carrot of state aid or the stick of government fiat, set off one of the great unknown political wars of U.S. history, pitting farm people who "invoked classic themes of liberty and self-rule" against the "mostly urban elites" who "would wage zealous battle against the rural one-room school." Typically, two Delaware schoolconsolidators informed the hicks that "modern education . . . is less romantic and more businesslike, more formal, more exact, more specialized, done according to tested methods and a standard schedule." Such grim exactitude sounded like prison to parents used to the comparatively anarchic and localized governance of rural schools.
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The one-room school was "neither as rundown as critics claimed nor as bucolic as defenders imagined," Mr. Zimmerman writes. But its champions understood its flaws. They were defending the principles of local autonomy and human-scale democracy. Mr. Zimmerman quotes a "rural mother" who lamented: "Individuality will be lost, the pride taken in 'our' school and 'our' teacher gone. Haven't the parents who bear the children anything to say?"

Not in the consolidated schools they didn't, except in PTA debates over which kind of brownies to sell at the bake sale. "Thousands of rural parents did resist consolidation," Mr. Zimmerman says; they struggled to save the one-room symbols of "their vanishing local communities." But true to Joni Mitchell's lyric, the rest of America didn't know what it had till it was gone.
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The idealization of the little red schoolhouse, Mr. Zimmerman concludes, reflects a rueful awareness that in modernity Americans "gained the whole world of technological conveniences and lost the soul of their communities."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:44 PM | Permalink

Growing Generation Gap

It's the largest generation gap in 40 years

Asked to identify where older and younger people differ most, 47 percent said social values and morality. People age 18 to 29 were more likely to report disagreements over lifestyle, views on family, relationships and dating, while older people cited differences in a sense of entitlement. Those in the middle-age groups also often pointed to a difference in manners.

Religion is a far bigger part of the lives of older adults. About two-thirds of people 65 and older said religion is very important to them, compared with just over half of those 30 to 49 and 44 percent of people 18 to 29.

In addition, among adults 65 and older, one-third said religion has grown more important to them over the course of their lives, while 4 percent said it has become less important and 60 percent said it has stayed the same.
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Paul Taylor, director of the Pew Social and Demographic Trends Project...cited a greater tolerance among younger people on cultural issues such as gay marriage and interracial relationships.

We're not yet at Boomsday yet, but it's hard not to wonder if an intergenerational clash is in the offing in the not-too-distant future when they begin to realize how much debt they have inherited.

In Christopher Buckley's imaginary dystopia in Boomsday, when America teeters on the brink of economic disaster as the boomers start retiring, the younger generation, incensed at their growing financial burden, calls for an economic Bastille Day.  One proposed solution to the growing social security crisis  - offering senior citizens free botox and no estate tax, if they go into government-sponsored suicide clinics for "voluntary transitioning".

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:52 AM | Permalink

June 29, 2009

Nervous in Hawaii

The great holiday weekend of the summer approaches and everyone is making plans to celebrate the 4th of July.

But in Hawaii, there's a great deal of apprehension ever since reports emerged that North Korea may fire a long-range ballistic missile toward Hawaii in early July.

Now with a crazy madman in North Korea, Pakistan in turmoil and the security of its nuclear missiles uncertain, and Iran determined to go forward, despite all objections,  to arm itself with nuclear weapons, it is clear that the nuclear threat is graver than it has ever been before.  Some  might argue that the Cold War was worse, but MAD or mutually assured destruction worked.  The Soviets were rational; something that can not be said of Iran and North Korea. 

The much-derided anti-missle defense technology, dubbed 'Star Wars', has proven in tests to be increasingly effective.
And in my mind, just in time.    Of all the programs to cut then, why was missile defense chosen?

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said last week that U.S. would deploy ground and sea-based missile defense assets to protect Hawaii just in case. 

But an editorial in the Washington Times says
new information suggests that the administration is bluffing and our defenses are inadequate to get the job done.
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The Obama administration also has cut funding for the European missile-defense shield, leaving our allies in Poland and the Czech Republic in the lurch after they took a major political risk to support the program
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The Obama administration's hostility to missile defense is inexplicable. The missile threat is growing, and defensive technology is increasingly effective, yet the Obama team has dug in stubbornly behind a losing strategy that emboldens our enemies and places us in greater danger. No wonder Hawaiians are nervous.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:01 PM | Permalink

June 26, 2009

Just Beat It

Wow. The freedom fighters in Iran have adopted Michael Jackson's Beat It as a new theme song.


via Gateway Pundit

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:55 AM | Permalink

Economic Suicide Pact

Given how poorly the stimulus has worked  and given the 4 million newly unemployed in the past six months, it doesn't seem the right time to remake the energy sector to impose the largest tax increase in history when the economy is in recession.

Cap and Trade Fiction
The whole point of cap and trade is to hike the price of electricity and gas so that Americans will use less. These higher prices will show up not just in electricity bills or at the gas station but in every manufactured good, from food to cars. Consumers will cut back on spending, which in turn will cut back on production, which results in fewer jobs created or higher unemployment.

Costs range from the CBO estimate of $175/year which admittedly doesn't take account of the effect of the carbon tax on anything other than the consumers' own electric bill next year.  Taking into account the ripple effect of higher taxes for everything, the Heritage Foundation estimates $1870 for a family of four by 2020.

Man-Made Disaster
Not since a misguided piece of legislation imposed tariffs that turned a recession into a depression has there been a piece of legislation as bad as Waxman-Markey.

The 1,000-plus-page American Clean Energy and Security Act (H.R. 2454) is being rushed to a vote by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi before anyone can seriously object to this economic suicide pact.

Its centerpiece is a "cap and trade" provision that has been rightfully derided as "cap and tax." It is in fact a tax on energy everywhere it is consumed on everything it is used to make or provide.

It is the largest tax increase in American history — a tax on all Americans — even the 95% that President Obama pledged would never see a tax increase.

Looking at the European experience Cap and Trade doesn't work

According to European Commission figures, emissions from the 27 member states rose by 1.9% in the first three years of the regime.
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Translated across the Atlantic, any climate change bill will become the subject of the worst kind of pork-barrel politics riddled with loopholes for key industries before it becomes law.

Tilting at Green Windmills
  George Will looks at a puzzled Spanish professor Gabriel Calzada, an economics professor at Universidad Rey Juan Carlos who studied the effects at the "torrential spending" on wind and solar energy in Spain and concluded

each "green" job created cost $752,000 -$1.4 million in subsidies
each "green" job entailed the loss of 2.2.other jobs

Why are the leaders in Congress pushing so hard on this bill of a thousand pages which was just amended with 300 pages this morning.  I would bet few,if any, Congressman have even read it.

The number of skeptics on global warming are swelling and the tide is turning .  There is no scientific consensus whatsoever on global warming or what causes it.  The science is not settled.

Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe now counts more than 700 scientists who disagree with the U.N. -- 13 times the number who authored the U.N.'s 2007 climate summary for policymakers. Joanne Simpson, the world's first woman to receive a Ph.D. in meteorology, expressed relief upon her retirement last year that she was finally free to speak "frankly" of her nonbelief. Dr. Kiminori Itoh, a Japanese environmental physical chemist who contributed to a U.N. climate report, dubs man-made warming "the worst scientific scandal in history." Norway's Ivar Giaever, Nobel Prize winner for physics, decries it as the "new religion."

If this passes the house, there is hope it will not pass the Senate.  If it does, every Congressman who voted for it should be held accountable in 2010 for its consequences.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:24 AM | Permalink

June 25, 2009

In the Field of Faith and Health

Reading Body, mind and Chinese medicine, I was struck by what Dr. David Eisenberg of Harvard Medical School had to say in 1993 about the Chinese medical system because it's so similar to what I believe.

The whole Chinese medical system is based on the notion that the way you relate to other people, the way you think, and your emotions govern your health and illness -- what kind of life you'll have and what kind of death you'll have...  I think the entire Chinese culture is based on the notion that there is a correct way to live, and that how you live ultimately influences your health. It's not just diet or exercise, it's also a spiritual or emotional balance that comes from the way you treat other people and the way you treat yourself. That has always been the highest goal of living in all the Taoist and Confucian traditions. And since that's the basis of their culture, it spills over into their medicine.

 Stacked Rocks

In a quick search to find what is going in these days in Western medicine, I came across Dr. Harold Koenig.    A pioneer in the field of faith and health, Dr Koenig is co-director of the Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health at Duke University Medical Center where he also serves on the faculty as Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Associate Professor of Medicine.

In this interview with Beliefnet, Dr Koenig talks about how prayer and attending church can have a powerful effect on our mental and physical well-being.

Putting aside the ability to be able to prove it or not, do you believe that prayer can heal—specifically help someone, for example, recover from cancer?

Absolutely. I believe that on faith and I also believe it because I've seen that happen with people, including personal friends. Of course they knew they were being prayed for, by their families and their churches, and those people have had remarkable recoveries. ...*** So there's no doubt in my mind that prayers help people—those who are prayed for and those saying the prayer.
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Beyond the effects of prayer, do you believe religious practice can lead to other health benefits? What are they?

Bear in mind that these benefits are not intended, they're kind of a consequence of going to church or praying or reading the Bible or being religiously committed. They're kind of a side effect of being religious for more valid, more intrinsic reasons.

The benefits of devout religious practice, particularly involvement in a faith community and religious commitment, are that people cope better. In general, they cope with stress better, they experience greater well-being because they have more hope, they're more optimistic, they experience less depression, less anxiety, and they commit suicide less often. They don't drink alcohol as much, they don't use drugs as much, they don't smoke cigarettes as much, and they have healthier lifestyles. They have stronger immune systems, lower blood pressure, probably better cardiovascular functioning, and probably a healthier hormonal environment physiologically—particularly with respect to cortisol and adrenaline [stress hormones]. And they live longer.

The same benefits do not accrue to those who profess a vague spirituality.
I think the word "spirituality" is much more inviting and it includes religion. But from a research perspective, it's really religion that's studied and been shown to benefit health— not the less definable, more vague, and individualized spirituality.

Glastonbury Abbey

Glastonbury Abbey

In a 2005 interview with Bob Abernethy of PBS,  Koenig remarked on the exploding research on the relationship between religion and health since 2000.
In the past two and a half years, there have been over 1,800 articles written -- research studies, discussions on the topic of religion and health. Comparing the three-year periods 20 years apart, there has been, literally, an 18-fold increase in the amount of attention this subject is being paid.
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Having faith and being optimistic can definitely influence one's outcome. However, what this research shows is that having faith specifically in religion helps people more than having faith in other things. That's what we're studying. We're comparing people with faith in religion versus faith in family or work or hobbies, and the religious people seem to do better.

If you lived a healthy lifestyle, if you had a strong family and lots of friends, if you had a belief system that helped you cope with death and life and suffering and religion had no part of it, you'd have the same health benefits. The problem is, most people aren't in that situation. Most people don't have a worldview that makes sense of death and suffering and loss, don't have a ton of friends that are supportive or a family that encourages and supports them, and don't live a healthy lifestyle because they're simply human and are pulled to these various kinds of temptations that affect our health. So religion is a package of things that brings together all of those different areas in a person's life.

Cologne Cathedral Sunset Fire

Cologne Cathedral at sunset

Now in the London Times, God will save you - believe in him or not.

Interviewing survivors around the world, I have noticed a remarkable pattern. Overwhelmingly, they share a belief that God and faith sustained them through their trials. As many as 75% or 80% cite a higher power as an important reason for their survival. Either they face their crisis with strong faith or they discover it in the crucible, believing God had a plan for them and gave them the strength to overcome.

In trying to find out what this all means, Ben Sherwood interviewed Dr. Koening:
Koenig replies that belief is the most powerful survival tool in the world. Faith and religion, he says, empower you with “the kind of strength that nothing else that I’ve ever seen can give”.

Dr. Harold Koenig is the author of several books including "The Healing Power of Faith: How Belief and Prayer Can Help You Triumph Over Disease" and  "Faith and Mental Health: Religious Resources for Healing" and "Faith In The Future: Healthcare, Aging and the Role of Religion"

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:31 PM | Permalink

Financial Advisor Kidnapped and Tortured

No doubt a lot of people fantasized about this, but in Germany a group of wealthy pensioners actually did it.

Zimmer frame gang 'tortures advisor' who lost $4 million of their savings.

The pensioners, nicknamed the "Geritol Gang" by German police after an arthritis drug, face up to 15 years in jail if found guilty of subjecting German-American James Amburn to the alleged four-day ordeal.

Two of them are said to have hit him with a Zimmer frame outside his home ..before he was bound with duct tape, bundled into the boot of an Audi A8 and driven 300 mileso a home on the shores of a popular holiday lake in Bavaria.

During his alleged confinement in an unheated cellar, Mr Amburn, 56, claims he was burned with cigarettes, beaten, had two ribs broken, was hit with a chair leg and chained up "like an animal".

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:26 AM | Permalink

June 24, 2009

In Iran, the 'Day of the Axes'

It's been heartbreaking to watch people rise from their oppression and risk their lives to stand up for freedom and face Unimaginable Horror in what will be known as the Day of the Axes.

>More than 10.000 Bassij Milittias get position in Central Tehran, including Baharestan Sq.
>Army Helycopters flying over Baharestan and Vali Asr Sq.
>The streets, squares and around BAHARESTAN (Approx. South-eastern of Tehran) is swarming with military forces, civilian forces, the security motorists
>The croud have moved to the south of baharestan, the situation is bad, the shooting has started
>In Baharestan Sq. in the Police shooting, A girl is shot and the police is not allowing to let them help
>In Baharestan we saw militia with axe choping people like meat - blood everywhere - like butcher

This is the Iranian regime, wading into its own unarmed people and axing them to death, bludgeoning women (seen as the greatest threat to the regime) and throwing them to their deaths from pedestrian bridges. The same Iranian regime whose embassy officials are invited to American embassies around the world to celebrate on July 4th, of all things, a successful revolution.

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An Iranian blogger (whose URL I will not publish) live blogging from Baharestan Square in central Tehran today captures but brief glimpses of the unimaginable horror that took place today. Bus loads of protesters were stopped and unloaded from their buses by "black-clad police" and literally herded. When the massing was sufficient, as the barely controllably distraught Tehran caller to CNN described first hand, hundreds of the regime's Basij thugs poured out of an adjoining mosque and commenced a massacre with axes, clubs, guns and gas.

Listen to this phone call from a woman and imagine yourself there.

Norm Geras reprints an email he received


But on Bloody Saturday, the situation was totally different after Khamenei's command to slaughter demonstrators. I have a report just from one hospital not so far from my living place... In this hospital alone doctors received 20 dead and many other wounded. Security forces went to all the hospitals to which people themselves had brought the bodies, to gather all the wounded and dead; when paramilitary and military forces gathered the bodies, they sent them directly to military hospitals; they transmitted these bodies to their own centres too. In an unbelievable event in the hospital, of which I have a report, security forces have shot and killed the wounded persons before transmitting them. When doctors and nurses bacame mad and went out on the streets, they have opened fire on them too.

Mike Madden tells the story of the torture of a 17-year-old in Iran with graphic photos

He is just a 17-year-old boy who was supposed to take the university entrance exam within a month before his fingers were broken and the finger webs were cut with a blade. He was arrested violently in the parking lot of a living complex without even taking part in any of the recent activities, and after more than 24 hours he returned home while his face was fully covered with blood and one could only see his eyes.

The Anchoress has another of her splendid round-ups on the Massacre in Tehran

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:38 PM | Permalink

June 23, 2009

The Mullahs are Afraid of the Women

Since returning home after four days away sans  computer, I'm just catching up on all the news in Iran. 

What strikes me most of all is the participation of women in the protests.  For a long time, I've  believed that positive changes in the Mid East would come from the; they are the most oppressed and have the least to lose.

Under the burkas, chadors, and headscarves, we are seeing young women in jeans, wearing lipstick, with blond and frosted hair, who see their chance for real political change that would change their lives.  La Femme Zahra holding hands with her husband Mousavi, tells  crowds, "This is the moment to stand."

A young woman, shot to death is now the symbol of the protestors.  Neda is now  the 'Angel of Iran' and the 'Angel of Freedom'.  The mullahs are so afraid of women rising up, they shoot them.

 Neda Eyes

Women and the Iranian Unrest

Are the Ayatollahs learning that hell hath no fury like 34 million women scorned, forced out of the workplace, harassed and humiliated by religious police for three decades?  I have noticed some of the bravest protesters in Iran have been women, including a few who have been without headscarves and showing a great deal more of their figures than the regime would approve. Roger Cohen of the NY Times has noticed this, too.

.... Iran's women stand in the vanguard. For days now, I've seen them urging less courageous men on. I've seen them get beaten and return to the fray. "Why are you sitting there?" one shouted at a couple of men perched on the sidewalk on Saturday. "Get up! Get up!"

 Iranian Woman Upraised Fist

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More than 60 percent of Iran's university students are women, but women only make up perhaps 15 percent of the workforce.
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Women left alone with children after the death or desertion of a husband are particularly hard hit in a culture that openly discrimintes in employment. So are those in abusive relationships with fathers or husbands. One of Iran's dirty little secrets is how many women are forced into prostitution.  News stories from 2002 reported as many as 300,000 women were engaged in prostitution in greater Tehran. In an area with a population then estimated at 12 million that is close to 5% of the total female population.

 Iranian-Women 2

Iran and The Woman Question

Iranian-American journalist Roya Hakakian sat down with ForbesWoman to discuss her native country's current climate and the situation facing women--and men--in Iran today
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Iran has had a robust women's movement for several decades now. But in the late 1990s, a new generation took charge; and in the early 2000s, they managed to organize and unite in ways that women had not since the revolution in 1979. It started as petition movement to collect signatures to ban stoning women to death and has spun out to become the "One Million Signatures Campaign."
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The feminist movement, which has been ongoing in Iran, has now joined the broader public movement against the regime.

So perhaps we shouldn't be surprised to learn that the Basij are targeting women, both young and old.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:21 PM | Permalink

June 17, 2009

Intergenerational Day Care

I hope this expands around the country.  It is sorely needed. And everyone benefits.

Day Care for All Ages

It is not a panacea, but researchers who have studied some of the country’s 300-plus intergenerational facilities over the past decade say the best of them provide some of the best care available for frail seniors.
Elderly adults participating in structured activities with children are more focused and in better moods than when children are not involved, scientists have found. Moreover, adults continue to be in better spirits after the children leave, suggesting the interactions may have lasting effects. Even adults with mild to moderate cognitive deficits do better when involved in activities with children.

Many older adults resist day care, even though it can delay or prevent a move to a nursing home and is less costly than professional home health care. A facility with children can seem especially humiliating. Some families get their loved ones through the door by urging them to volunteer to help with the children.

“The families tell them, ‘You have to go. The children need you,’” Ms. Hamilton-Cantu said.

 Intergenerational Day Care
photo by Iris Schneider

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Elderly adults in age-integrated daycare programs don’t actually take care of children — that’s the staff’s job — but they do have an enormous impact on children’s lives, researchers have found. Compared to their peers in traditional preschools, children in intergenerational daycare programs are more patient, express more empathy, exhibit more self-control and have better manners.

At ONEgeneration, there are no etiquette courses per se, but every time children and adults come together for an activity — and that can happen as many as eight times a day — they greet each other with, “Hi, neighbor!,” and shake hands. Children have been known to spot elderly strangers in malls and restaurants and call out to them: “Hello, neighbor!” Sometimes they even walk over and shake their hands.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:30 PM | Permalink

"Family breakdown is now a national tragedy"

A brave man speaking the truth, Justice Coleridge

Only marriage can mend broken Britain, says top judge

Marriage should be promoted by the Government to end the 'social anarchy' of family breakdown, a senior judge said last night.

Mr Justice Coleridge accused mothers and fathers who fail to commit to each other of engaging in a game of 'pass the partner' that has left millions of children 'scarred for life'.

In a hard-hitting speech in Parliament, he called for a change of attitude that would attach a 'stigma' to those who destroy family life and said a National Commission should be established to devise solutions for the 'epidemic' of broken homes. --
Condemning the 'endless and futile quest for a perfect relationship', he said many parents were in 'a complete and uncontrolled free-for-all where being true to oneself and one's needs is the only yardstick for controlling behaviour'.

The London Telegraph publishes a column by the same Justice, Family breakdown is now a national tragedy

 Crying-Child

Recently, I was approached by the BBC, with a view to making a documentary about family breakdown. I suggested the researcher start by spending the day with me in court, to watch a run-of-the-mill High Court case. She was stunned into silence and remained speechless when I told her that within the Royal Courts of Justice, there were 20 or so other judges engaged in similar cases.

Across inner London, well over 100 family courts were dealing with family breakdown that day, in one guise or another. Multiply that across the rest of the country, and you get some feel for the scale of the epidemic.
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I am not suggesting, of course, that all change is bad, or that all relationship breakdowns can be avoided. Genuinely intolerable relationships have to be ended with as little distress as possible. But I fear that the current state of the family represents change for the worse – and those most affected, the children, are not considered in the maelstrom that surrounds them

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:54 PM | Permalink

Glowing Rectangles

Glow-Rectangle

From the Onion

PALO ALTO, CA—A new report published this week by researchers at Stanford University suggests that Americans spend the vast majority of each day staring at, interacting with, and deriving satisfaction from glowing rectangles.
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According to the report, staring blankly at luminescent rectangles is an increasingly central part of modern life. At work, special information rectangles help men and women silently complete any number of business-related tasks, while entertainment rectangles—larger and louder and often placed inside the home—allow Americans to enter a relaxing trance-like state after a long day of rectangle-gazing.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:42 PM | Permalink

La Femme Zahra

David Warren, Zahra's Revolution

The recent election was not the cause, but the trigger, of what is suddenly happening on the streets.
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But Mousavi's proposed modest reforms could hardly have excited the students, or the masses following in their train.
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But, cherchez la femme! What made Mousavi the fuse for an explosive force was not himself, but his wife, Zahra Rahnavard. In the course of the election campaign, she ignored Islamist precedent, and took to the hustings on her husband's behalf. This tiny grandmother, wearing regulation chador, but with very loud scarves, has wandered around the country lighting fires.

 Zahra Rahnavard

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She has used her social authority as a grandmother -- pillar of social order -- to turn conventions upside down. Going well beyond her husband's promises, she has demanded an end to discrimination against women, an end to the morality police, an end to supervision of the universities. It is she who has communicated to the students (in every Asian country the vanguard of the elite): "This is the moment to stand!"

More from the London Times

A diminutive 64-year-old grandmother who refuses to be bound by the rigid constraints imposed on women in Iran proved more than a match for the President of the Islamic Republic yesterday.

Zahra Rahnavard had already broken all precedent by actively campaigning for her husband, Mir Hossein Mousavi, a relative moderate who is President Ahmadinejad’s strongest challenger in Friday’s presidential election. Yesterday she went a step further by summoning the domestic and international media to a press conference at which she tore into the President for lying, humiliating women, debasing his office and betraying the principles of the revolution.
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Dr Rahnavard offered further inducements. She promised that her husband, if elected, would appoint women to Cabinet posts for the first time, and name many female deputy ministers and ambassadors. He would end discrimination and ensure that women were no longer treated as second-class citizens. He would release women’s rights activists from prison and abolish the “morality police” who, during Mr Ahmadinejad’s first term, cracked down on women deemed to be dressed inappropriately. She even suggested that women should not be forced to cover their heads.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:29 PM | Permalink

The Romanian tattooist

From the Daily Mail comes a photograph of the infamous Romanian tattooist responsible for the 56 stars on Kimberly's face who now offers to pay for 27 of the stars to be removed while still insisting 18-year-old Kimberly wanted all 56.

 Tattooist -56Stars

Words fail.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:36 PM | Permalink

June 16, 2009

Why I'll never get tattoos on my face

She fell asleep while getting three tiny stars tattooed near her left eye.  It's unclear whether the Romanian tattooist didn't understand or gave her exactly what she wanted - 56 stars.

 Tattoo-Stars Face

'It is terrible for me,' said Kimberley. 'I cannot go out on to the street, I am so embarrassed. I just look horrible.'

Now she's suing

Tip: if you to get tattoos on your face, stay awake.

UPDATE: "I lied about tattoo blunder because my father was furious."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:01 PM | Permalink

"God be with them"

So How's It Going in Iran? by Michael Leeden with photos from The Big Picture.

But the key element is the people.  They are only just beginning to understand the reality of their situation.  Virtually none of them imagined that they would be in a revolutionary confrontation with the regime just two days after the electoral circus, and few of them can realize, so soon, that they can actually change the world.  I think the Mousavis now understand it (they know that they are either going to win or be destroyed).  It remains to be seen if they can instruct and inspire the movement.

 Iran1

Much will depend on their ability to communicate.  The regime has been waging a cyberwar against the dissidents, shutting down websites, cell phones, Facebook, and the like.  As most people have learned, the basic communiations tool is Twitter, which somehow continues to function.  Bigtime Kudos to Twitter, by the way, for postponing its planned maintenance so that the Iranians can continue to Tweet.  Would that Google were so solicitous of freedom.

 Iran2

We don’t know who’s going to win.  The Iranian people know that they’re on their own;  they aren’t going to get any help from us, or the United Nations, or the Europeans.  But paradoxically, this lack of support may strengthen their will.  There is no cavalry on the horizon.  If they are going to prevail, they and their unlikely leaders will have to gut it out by themselves.  God be with them.

 Iran3

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:36 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

June 15, 2009

The Owl and the Spaniel

 Dog And Owl

A baby owl is kept looking spruce thanks to her friend Sophie the spaniel, who licks her clean every day.

The pair have become inseparable since Bramble, the baby eagle owl, was taken in at a bird of prey centre.

Sophie, three, used her maternal nature to give Bramble a quick clean as a chick. Now the bird flies into the main house for a spruce-up every day and sits while Sophie licks her feathers and beak.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:50 PM | Permalink

I'm going for the wine

Two more catastrophic events you can worry about if you want.

The 'time bomb' for world wheat crops

The Ug99 fungus, called stem rust, could wipe out more than 80% of the world's wheat as it spreads from Africa, scientists fear. The race is on to breed resistant plants before it reaches the U.S.

The supervolcano that may be brewing beneath Mount St. Helen's.

Peering under the volcano has revealed what may be an extraordinarily large zone of semi-molten rock, which would be capable of feeding a giant eruption.

But that's nothing compared to the magna chamber below Yellowstone National Park

Every few hundred thousand years, such chambers can erupt as so-called supervolcanoes - the Yellowstone one did so about 640,000 years ago. These enormous eruptions can spew enough sunlight-blocking ash into the atmosphere to cool the climate by several degrees Celsius.

So I'm drinking red wine with the wonderdrug ingredient

An ingredient of red wine really is a 'wonderdrug', claim scientists, after research suggested it kills cancer cells and protects the heart and brain from damage.

Redwine 1422288C
Photo: GETTY

The key ingredient in red wine appears to be resveratrol which in small doses acts as an antioxidant protecting organs but in larger quantities kills dangerous cancer cells

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:47 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

A radically different view of the individual in Islam

In trying to understand the situation in Iran, I've been reading a lot more about what was going on that country.

First, Sex, drugs and Islam from Spengler

Iran is dying. The collapse of Iran's birth rate during the past 20 years is the fastest recorded in any country, ever. Demographers  have sought in vain to explain Iran's population implosion through family planning policies, or through social factors such as the rise of female literacy.

But quantifiable factors do not explain the sudden collapse of fertility. It seems that a spiritual decay has overcome Iran, despite best efforts of a totalitarian theocracy. Popular morale has deteriorated much faster than in the "decadent" West against which the Khomeini revolution was directed
---

Two indicators of Iranian morale are worth citing.

First,
prostitution has become a career of choice among educated Iranian women.
--
Second, according to a recent report from the US Council on Foreign Relations, "Iran serves as the major transport hub for opiates produced by [Afghanistan], and the UN Office of Drugs and Crime estimates that I
ran has as many as 1.7 million opiate addicts." That is, 5% of Iran's adult, non-elderly population of 35 million is addicted to opiates. That is an astonishing number, unseen since the peak of Chinese addiction during the 19th century. The closest American equivalent (from the 2003 National Survey on Drug Use and Health) found that 119,000 Americans reported using heroin within the prior month, or less than one-tenth of 1% of the non-elderly adult population.

From a review by Spengler of the book Predicting the death of , The crisis of Islamic civilization  by Ali A Allawi, a "prominent Iraqi politician who recently served as minster of defense and finance in the American-backed Iraqi government".

Muslim countries could join the modern world. But the differences between Islam and the Judeo-Christian West run far deeper than the political surface, Allawi argues, and they begin with a radically different view of the individual, or more precisely, the view that the individual human being really does not exist to begin with.

"Islam departs from the mainstream of modern constructs of the individual and the group," Allawi observes. The notion of a human individual is absent from Islamic thinking and impossible to describe in the Arabic language, he argues. Only God has individuality and uniqueness; the individual is merely an instrument, as it were. Many Western readers will skim uncomprehending over this material, and thus miss the radical thrust of Allawi's argument
. Western political scientists do not learn theology, whereas Allawi argues that in the Islamic world, politics is theology.

Both of which were referenced in Spengler's piece today Hedgehogs and flamingos in Tehran.

I had to review once again the Origins of the Shia-Sunni split and the linked article from NPR by Mike Shuster was invaluable.  Even better, and absolutely essential for seeing the problem was the Shia-Sunni map which can be found at the same link.  With greater understanding, I could turn to the Hedgehogs article.

Why did the mullahs fix the election?  And why so obviously? 

The trumpet which dare not sound an uncertain note was a call to Tehran's Shi'ite constituency, as well as to a fifth of Pakistani Muslims. Religious establishments by their nature are conservative, and they engage in radical acts only in need.

Tehran is tugged forward by the puppies of war: Hezbollah in Lebanon and its co-sectarians in Pakistan. With a population of 170 million, Pakistan has 20 million men of military age, as many as Iran and Turkey combined; by 2035 it will have half again as many. It also has nuclear weapons. And it is in danger of disintegration.
--
Against a young, aggressive and unstable Pakistan, Iran seems a moribund competitor...Collapsing fertility is accompanied by social pathologies, including rates of drug addiction and prostitution an order of magnitude greater than in any Western country.
-

Iran's aspirations for a restored Islamic civilization cannot exclude Pakistan's 30 million Shi'ites. The Taliban's insurgency inside Pakistan is directed against the Shi'ites more than any other target, and to make matters worse, Pakistani intelligence is agitating among Iran's own Sunni minority.

Are we looking at a civil war in Islam?

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:21 PM | Permalink

June 12, 2009

Is 'Hispanic" a racial category?

I always wondered where 'Hispanic' came to mean a racial category.  That it started with Richard Nixon and come to flower under Jimmy Carter I never would have guessed. 

From the LA Times, Judge Sotomayor, a mythic 'Hispanic'.

Jonathan Zimmerman thinks she should be judged on her merits as do all sane people and not because she's 'Hispanic'.

I put the term in quotation marks because it's a recent invention, dating to the 1970s and '80s. Before then, when Sotomayor was growing up with her Puerto Rican family in New York City, she was not Hispanic.
--

All that would change in 1977, when the Office of Management and Budget instructed federal agencies to classify Americans as one of four races -- white, black, American Indian/Alaskan Native or Asian/Pacific Islander -- and also to distinguish between two ethnic categories, "of Hispanic origin" and "not of Hispanic origin." Since then, the census has asked people their race and whether they're Hispanic, which is not listed as a "race" per se.

Increasingly, however, Americans thought of it as such. Government agencies used "Hispanic" alongside "Asian" and "black," making Hispanic into a de facto racial category. Businesses and educational institutions counted Hispanics -- or, sometimes, "Latinos" -- as a race in diversity and affirmative action reports.

Not surprisingly, then, Hispanics became more likely over time to identify themselves as a separate race too. In the mid-1990s, 60% of the respondents to a study of more than 5,000 Latin American immigrants self-identified as "white," for example, but only 20% of their children did so.

That's an unprecedented development, as the United States had continuously absorbed people formerly identified in the census as from nonwhite races into the white majority. Jews, Italians and Slavs were all once classified as separate races; now, they're white. But Hispanics are moving in the opposite direction -- from white to nonwhite. In our minds, at least, they've become a minority race.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:39 PM | Permalink

"Stirring up apathy"

Mark Steyn on why "stirring up apathy" is the key to understanding the health care debate

Willie Whitelaw, a genial old buffer who served as Margaret Thatcher's deputy for many years, once accused the Labour Party of going around Britain stirring up apathy. Viscount Whitelaw's apparent paradox is, in fact, a shrewd political insight, and all the sharper for being accidental. Big government depends, in large part, in going around the country stirring up apathy – creating the sense that problems are so big, so complex, so intractable that even attempting to think about them for yourself gives you such a splitting headache it's easier to shrug and accept as given the proposition that only government can deal with them.

Take health care. Have you read any of these health care plans? Of course not. They're huge and turgid and unreadable. Unless you're a health care lobbyist, a health care think-tanker, a health care correspondent or some other fellow who's paid directly or indirectly to plow through this stuff, why bother? None of the senators whose names are on the bills have read 'em; why should you?

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:28 PM | Permalink

After post-modernism, faith

Roger Scruton on the humanities, Farewell to Judgment

People of my generation were taught to believe that there are human universals, which remain constant from age to age. We were taught to study literature in order to sympathize with life in all its forms. It doesn't matter, we were told, if Shakespeare's political assumptions do not coincide with ours. His plays do not aim to indoctrinate; they aim to present believable characters in believable situations, and to do so in heightened language that would set our imaginations and our sympathies on fire. Of course, Shakespeare invites judgment, as do all writers of fiction. But it is not political judgment that is relevant. We judge Shakespeare plays in terms of their expressiveness, truth to life, profundity, and beauty. And that is how you justify the study of English, as a training in this other kind of judgment, which leaves politics behind.
--
--
Conservatives often complain about the politicization of the universities, and about the fact that only liberal views are propagated or even tolerated on campus. But they fail to see the true cause of this, which is the internal collapse of the humanities.
When judgment is marginalized or forbidden nothing remains save politics. The only permitted way to compare Jane Austen and Maya Angelou, or Mozart and Meshuggah, is in terms of their rival political postures. And then the point of studying Jane Austen or Mozart is lost. What do they have to tell us about the ideological conflicts of today, or the power struggles that are played out in the faculty common room?

Deconstructionism and Post-modernism reigns in today's universities, yet no one is happy or could be happy with the poverty of spirit on offer.

Scruton in an interview
The rhetoric of deconstruction is not so widely adverted to today as it once was. But that is not because its tenets are no longer embraced but rather because they have become so familiar that they no longer seem shocking. The nihilistic assumptions of deconstruction have not been jettisoned, they have been internalized: more and more they are simply taken for granted as part of the accepted and expected intellectual furniture of the time.

--
The most flagrant example is the university, an institution that was entrusted with the task of preserving and transmitting what Matthew Arnold called "the best that has been thought and said" but that since the 1960s has become a refuge for radical political activism
--
Dostoyevsky once claimed that if God does not exist then everything is permitted. Considerable ingenuity has gone into proving Dostoyevsky wrong. To date, though, the record would seem to support him.

It just so happens that a British biographer, novelist and man of letters, A.N.Wilson who had made it his business to skewer faith as irrational has recently converted.

 A.N.Wilson

A.N. Wilson explains himself in Why I believe again

Watching a whole cluster of friends, and my own mother, die over quite a short space of time convinced me that purely materialist “explanations” for our mysterious human existence simply won’t do – on an intellectual level.
--

When I think about atheist friends, including my father, they seem to me like people who have no ear for music, or who have never been in love....Rather, these unbelievers are simply missing out on something that is not difficult to grasp. Perhaps it is too obvious to understand; obvious, as lovers feel it was obvious that they should have come together, or obvious as the final resolution of a fugue.
--
My return was slow, hesitant, doubting. So it will always be; but I know I shall never make the same mistake again.

From Look who's a believer now.

Those who later recanted their atheism went on from this common start to begin to doubt their doubts. They gradually decided that their rationalistic method was too narrow: It could pick holes not only in Christianity but in any attempt to distinguish between right and wrong or to articulate the meaning of life. They came to realize that they could only tear down and thus were left intellectually with no habitable place to live. John Henry Gordon, who held the only full-time, salaried secularist lecturer position in England, came to believe that secularism was a creed of "mere negations."

Having realized that their method was flawed, they then began to reconsider faith. Christianity, they discovered, spoke to the deepest realities of human experience.

Even the left-wing German philosopher Jürgen Habermas stunned his followers lately with this statement:
“Christianity, and nothing else, is the ultimate foundation of liberty, conscience, human rights, and democracy, the benchmarks of Western civilization. To this day, we have no other options [than Christianity]. We continue to nourish ourselves from this source. Everything else is postmodern chatter.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:44 PM | Permalink

"Too civilized to survive"

According to his own bio, Takuan Seiyo
was born in Communist Eastern Europe and socialized there and then in Switzerland, France and elsewhere. He received his university education and was naturalized in the United States, but interest in some aspects of the Japanese culture took him eventually to Japan, where he now lives. He describes himself as bi-racial, tri-national, quadri-degreed, quinti-lingual and sexto-ethnic.

Maybe that's why he is such an original voice and one of the strongest against the galloping lunacy all over the world.
He's not for everyone, but he's worth reading for his thoughts on why Western civilization is so imperiled and seemingly so helpless at the threats that aim to destroy it.

At the Brussels Journal is his multi-part series called From Meccania to Atlantis., Part 12 is called Swallowed by Leviathan.

His basic thesis is that "podism" is like a mental virus
programmed for white people’s (2) collective guilt and self-loathing, irrational and false assumptions about the superior virtue and moral deservedness of nonwhites, nondiscrimination as the highest value, ahistorical and utopian delusions, and the conviction that the road to universal peace and brotherhood hinges on the unilateral self-disablement of the West’s collective survival mechanism and the disablement of autochthon Westerners’ individual (3) survival mechanisms as well.

In more new-agey terms

Another way of putting it is that after decades of promoting yin (i.e. the cosmic female element) and suppressing yang (i.e. the cosmic male element), the West now suffers from yin toxemia. As per Chinese Taoist precepts, this produces an overabundance of the soft, wet, squishy, sweet, flabby, irrational, diffuse energy that characterizes yin, and a shortage of the hard, dry, salty, muscular, rational and compacting male (i.e. yang) energy that could rectify this imbalance.

The yin-soaked West rests on a foundation of feelings. It feels for the plight of the female trapped in a male body, the Somali who has never seen indoor plumbing, and the abandoned son of a Kenyan exchange student who made good. That all such feelings translate into actions that dismantle the West financially, demographically and culturally no longer registers, for reason no longer registers, nor does survival. This is the age of I feel, therefore I am. The essence of yin.

The West is no longer able to deal with the abundant yang characteristics of the nonwhite, male-dominated ethnic groups – acting as “minorities” on the inside, and rogue and semi-rogue nations on the outside.
-------
.... the Islamic movement has turned the civility of the Western peoples into a weapon against them. It has weaponized niceness, compassion and the fundamental decency of Western Civilization. “We have become too civilized to defeat our enemies, perhaps too civilized to survive.” 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:13 AM | Permalink

June 11, 2009

Anti-Christian and anti-Catholic bigotry growing in U.K.

With increasing frequency, we're seeing Christians being persecuted in the U.K.   

One 43-year-old woman wore a gold crucifix around her neck as many Catholics do.  She was told at a disciplinary meeting that her job as a phlebotomist under the Gloucestershire NHS Trust was at risk unless she removed the crucifix because they claimed her one-inch crucifix could be used as a weapon or could be a source of infections

She told the Gloucestershire Echo: "I just feel it is so wrong - I have always worn my cross inside my uniform and it means a lot to me. They have told me I can carry it in my pocket but it isn't the same.

"My faith is important to me but I'm not a bible basher and don't push it onto colleagues. Now I have to choose between my job and my faith. It is an awful situation."

Christians risk rejection and discrimination for their faith in the U.K., a study claims

The first poll of Britain's churchgoers, carried out for The Sunday Telegraph, found that thousands of them believe they are being turned down for promotion because of their faith.

One in five said that they had faced opposition at work because of their beliefs.

More than half of them revealed that they had suffered some form of persecution for being a Christian.

The abuse in the marriage made it hard, but the mother, a committed Catholic,  made sure her son,  only 5,  was enrolled in a Catholic school.  When the marital abuse led to a nervous breakdown, and the mother was unable to care for her son.  Social workers took  custody of the boy and placed with a homosexual couple who run the hotel in which they live.

Catholic mother's fury after mental breakdown sees son fostered by gay couple

‘She would prefer a Catholic couple, but if that is not possible, at least a heterosexual one. But social services have given her no choice. She cannot understand how he can be looked after by two men she’s never met.

‘Her belief is that they could encourage him into a lifestyle that is against her religious beliefs.

‘The other day he asked her, “Mummy, are you lesbian or gay?” She had to tell him she was neither.’
--
Last night, a leading Catholic lawyer, who asked not to be named, said: ‘I have to ask, would a local authority put a ten-year-old atheist child into a devoutly Catholic home? I think not.

‘Or would it place a ten-year-old hijab-wearing devout Muslim girl with two gay men? Again, I think not.’

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:41 PM | Permalink

June 8, 2009

"Our mind might not be inside our head"

From a review of  Why You Are not Your Brain via Mindful Hack

The most mysterious thing about the human brain is that the more we know about it, the deeper our own mystery becomes. On the one hand, scientists tell us that we are nothing but 3 pounds of electrical flesh inside the skull, a trillion synapses exchanging squirts of neurotransmitter.

And yet we feel like more than the sum of these cells.
---
The question of how the brain creates the mind - how these subjective experiences emerge from a piece of pale gray meat - is one of the essential questions of modern science. And yet, despite decades of research, we aren't remotely close to an answer.

--

Alva Noë, a philosopher at UC Berkeley, argues that consciousness remains a mystery because we've been looking in the wrong place. In his provocative and lucid new book, Noë writes that scientists have been so eager to locate the mind in the brain that they've neglected to consider the possibility that
our mind might not be inside our head.


"Out of Our Heads: Why You Are Not Your Brain, and Other Lessons from the Biology of Consciousness" (Alva Noe)

Another review from Scientific American


The reason we have been unable to explain the neural basis of consciousness, he says, is that it does not take place in the brain.

Consciousness is not something that happens inside us but something we achieve.  it is more like dancing than it is like the digestive process.

To understand consciousness the fact that we think and feel and that a world shows up for us we need to look at a larger system of which the brain is only one element.  Consciousness requires the joint operation of brain, body and world. "You are not your brain. The brain, rather, is part of what you are."

It sounds like the Cosmic Dance

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:39 AM | Permalink

Beer after exercise better than water

Backpacker shouts Halleluia and calls this "news on par with peace in the Middle East.  Beer hydrates better than water. 

Beer

Researchers at Granada University in Spain found this Nobel Prize-worthy discovery after months of testing 25 student subjects, who were asked to run on a treadmill in grueling temps (104 degrees F) until they were as close to exhaustion as possible. Half were given water to drink, and the other half drank two pints of Spanish lager. Then the godly researchers measured their hydration levels, motor skills, and concentration ability. 

They determined that the beer drinkers had "slightly better" rehydration effects, which researchers attribute to sugars, salts, and bubbles in beer enhancing the body's ability to absorb water. The carbohydrates in beer also help refill calorie deficits.

Based on the results of the study, researchers recommend moderate consumption of beer as a part of athletes' diets. "Moderate consumption" for men is 500ml per day, and for women is 250ml per day.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:32 AM | Permalink

Big Law Shrinks

“For the first time in their lives, people feel sort of useless. All of a sudden, you can go to lunch for two and a half hours and really not be missed. It’s a blow to the ego. You’re talking about people who have never really failed.”
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Another effect of the credit crisis  - Why Major Law Firms Are Shrinking

People are shellshocked,” said one top partner at the firm who, like many of its current and former lawyers, spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution. “If they survived the first two rounds, they’re happy to have a job, but are still very nervous. And if their phones don’t ring, if their work doesn’t come back with a vengeance, they fear they aren’t long for this world.”

As the apocalypse on Wall Street ripples out into the larger economy, a thick red tide is lapping at the once-impregnable foundations of New York’s corporate law firms, threatening to turn the industry — and with it, some iconic city characters — into an endangered species.

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THE gentleman’s profession of the law is becoming a vestige of the past, removed enough from reality to be remembered, like phone booths or fedoras.
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While the legal industry is hardly battling the existential threat that is facing, say, the newspaper trade, Big Law — especially in competitive New York — is facing a potential paradigm shift as fundamental as the one that has hit investment banks and the auto industry. Big, as a business model (let alone as an expression of the national mood), seems bound for obsolescence.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:58 AM | Permalink

June 7, 2009

Better off doing nothing

Even before the  news that the May unemployment is worse than predicted, 9.4%, the highest in more than 25 years,  there's been precious little heard in Washington about creating new jobs except for the public sector.  Two exemplary graphs show just what's been happening.

The first striking  visual shows The Geography of Jobs at TIP strategies.  It's animated so you have to click on the link to see it.  It's well worth it to see the Jobs Gained and the Jobs Lost since 2004 and where.

Says Jim Geraghty in Watching Big Green Dots Turn Into Big Red Ones

the job losses in major metropolitan areas since the beginning of 2009 have been on par with Hurricane Katrina's impact on employment in New Orleans.

The second visual at Innocent Bystanders is reproduced below. 

Hoven 6 6 09

So, all that money spent on the Recovery Plan has made it worse!  We would have been better off doing nothing.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:19 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

June 5, 2009

Virtuous and vicious desire

Roger Scruton always has a most interesting, clear-headed and intelligent take on just about everything, so any  new Scruton article is a fresh delight.

In Vino Veritas: I'll drink to that or having to do with vicious or virtuous desire.

Puritanism turned an absolute no into an absolute yes. And it looked around for other pleasures that it could forbid, not because God was offended by them but because they offended the thing that had replaced God in the Puritan conscience — namely the Self. Any pleasure harmful to the self must now be subject to the same absolute condemnation as had been directed against the pleasures of sex. Hence the hysterical campaign against smoking, which has not taken the form of advising against something harmful, but the far more alarming form of condemning that thing as a sin. You can portray young people on the screen as engaging in sexual orgies, beating each other up, swearing and exhibiting every kind of nastiness. But you must never show a young person with a cigarette in his hand, since that will be condoning and encouraging sin.
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For there is no doubt that the wrong kind of drinking is not just offensive to the new God of Self, but offensive also to the old God of Others, who is the God of love. Drunkenness does not merely harm the individual. It can destroy his capacity for human relations and turn his world into a sea of bitterness.
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It is vital, if we are to save one of the greatest of human goods from the new Inquisition, that we find another and more humane way to approach the problem of alcohol. And that is why we should take a lesson from Aristotle, and see the question not in terms of thou shalt and thou shalt not, but in terms of the right and the wrong way to drink. And we should try to understand the distinction between virtuous and vicious drinking by reflecting on wine, since it has been, in our civilisation, both the vehicle of the real presence of God, and the symbol of our ways of reaching him.
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Alcohol in general, and wine in particular, has a unique social function, increasing the garrulousness, the social confidence and the goodwill of those who drink together, provided they drink in moderation. Many of the ways that we have developed of drinking socially are designed to impose a strict regime of moderation. Buying drinks by round in the pub, for example, has an important role in both permitting people to rehearse the sentiments that cause and arise from generosity (yet without bearing the full cost of them), while controlling the rate of intake and the balance between the inflow of drink and the outflow of words.

The practice of buying rounds in the pub is one of the great cultural achievements of the English. It enables people with little money of their own to make generous gestures, without the risk of being ruined by them. It enables each person to distinguish himself from his neighbours and to portray his individuality in his choice of drink, and it causes affection progressively to mount in the circle of drinkers, by giving each in turn the character of a warm and hospitable friend.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:15 PM | Permalink

On Prayer

Two quite interesting posts on prayer from two of my favorite bloggers.

Gerald Vanderleun "While You Were Out"

We don't know much about God. Indeed, there are many among us who make it a point to know even less -- until they are proud, damned proud, to know nothing at all. Once they achieve this brainfade, they encourage the rest of us to follow suit in a paroxysm of self-willed ignorance.
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We know that God is not finished with us yet in many ways, but the most obvious sign is the fact that, if God were finished with us, we'd have a third set of teeth that would come in around age 45.
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Since we see, in small ways in our own lives and in larger ways in the realms of the world and history, that prayers are, from time to time, actually answered,
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In fact, whole elements of religion are centered around having you find and keep a personal relationship with God. But just because you have a personal relationship with God (and you should), doesn't mean God has to have a personal relationship with you. He is, after all, God and He's got a whole universe to run. It's a big place and He's just one God and He's busy.
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For the most part, God lets the Evolution Factory handle reality. The Evolution Factory is one of his better projects. Brilliant really.
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As I was saying, prayer -- with or without God -- makes us stronger and our desires and abilities more focussed just by happening. As a result, things you pray for tend to happen to you more often than things you don't pray for simply because your abilities are more concentrated on the outcome. Pretty clever wiring for a God who does not exist.

Doctor Bob in The Prayer of Java

Of course, it is not the prayer itself, but the power it unleashes, which accomplishes such things. Gravity worked the same for Cro-Magnon man as it does for a modern physicist; understanding the force changes it not one wit.
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And here’s the rub: the power behind prayer is not an inert physical force, but an infinitely wise and caring God. Whether you believe in Him or not, He exists, He listens — and amazingly (given our reprobate nature), always has our best interest at heart. As I look back at my own life, were I to have received a tenth of the things I asked for in prayer, my life would be an unmitigated disaster. God knows when to say “no”, where to say “wait”; He knows how to listen to what I ask for and give me instead what I really need, and truly want.
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If you’re new to this prayer thing (or even not so new), start small. Praying for world peace or a cure for your cancer is fine, but a bit grandiose for starters. Pray about your misplaced car keys, finding a parking spot, the wisdom to deal with that difficult patient, or co-worker, or child, or situation. Then open your eyes, your ears, your heart for the response. You won’t hear it every time — but I bet you’ll be surprised how often you do, and you’ll learn something about God, about yourself, and in some small way about how this spiritual world works.

If you've lost something, pray to St. Anthony of Padua who is the Catholic patron saint for lost or stolen items,

"Holy Tony please come round, Something's lost and must be found."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:06 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

The Retirement Aristocracy

Given the state of the economy and the public debts we are incurring, much less the cost of Medicare and Social Security, I predict we are just beginning to see the intergenerational conflict and struggle that's headed our way.

Here's a taste from the Daily Mail. Baby boomer generation are 'retirement aristocracy' who will make younger generations pay.

The baby boomer generation are 'retirement aristocracy' as they hold lucrative pensions that will be paid for, but unavailable to, younger workers.

People who are more than 50 years old will walk away with the most valuable pensions as they benefited from gold-plated final salary schemes while their firms could still afford them.

But now these people, who are typically in white collar management roles, have 'pulled up the ladder' to younger workers to protect their huge pots.

Younger workers are also being forced to pay the cost of maintaining final salary pensions to the dwindling band of older workers in such schemes.

And they are having to accept far less attractive pension schemes which will barely support them in retirement.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:54 PM | Permalink

Milky Way

Take 40 seconds and watch as the Milky Way passes over the night sky

Galactic Center of Milky Way Rises over Texas Star Party from William Castleman on Vimeo. via Neatorama

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:00 AM | Permalink

When race becomes a brand

I've come to the conclusion that in far too many cases, race has become a brand. 

Reading the  news and commentary about Sonia Sotomayor's "wise Latina woman" remarks, it turns out she repeatedly made the same comment in multiple speeches between 1994 and 2003 according to Congressional Quarterly.

It just doesn't make sense that a white man would be excoriated as a racist while a black man or a Latina woman would be applauded for making essentially the same statement.

Identity politics may help in getting ahead but it's nonsense when it comes to the ability to decide complex issues of law.

When it comes to winning the race, there's only one.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:57 AM | Permalink

Corruption hat trick, tennis at 100 and previously used cadavers

Some news from Boston you may have missed.

Sal DiMasi, former Speaker of the Massachusetts House who resigned in January was indicted on public corruption charges for pocketing thousands of dollars in payments from a software company while using his office to make sure that company won state contracts. 

That makes three speakers in a row indicted, two already convicted, writes Howie Carr in Bay State run by men of steal. "This isn't a democracy, it's a kleptocracy."   

A corruption "Hat-trick".  Massive corruption is the primary reason why it's not good when one party continues decade after decade to dominate local politics.

One 93-year-old, looking for a handicap parking spot at a Wal-Mart, hit the gas instead of the brakes and shot 25 feet inside the store, injuring nine people, including a mother and her one year old child.

While another old man, Roger Gentilhomme went out to play tennis for 2 hours, like he does every day, to celebrate his 100th birthday.

"The big question everyone asks is, 'What do you attribute this to?' " Gentilhomme said during a conversation at his home in Falmouth before driving himself to tennis. "Well, I can't attribute it to anything. I haven't the slightest idea why I'm here. But - and here's what I tell everyone - I do watch out for myself. If something starts irritating me, I try to find out what it is and get it fixed.

What leaped out for me was the Mass company that lists cadavers among its assets

Innovative Spinal Technologies, a medical device maker, shut down this year and listed among its assets in a federal bankruptcy filing, nine human bodies, including "eight previously used" cadavers.

James Tarento gibed, "What we want to how the company managed to find a cadaver that wasn't previously used!"

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:41 AM | Permalink

June 3, 2009

Asperatus

 New Cloud

It's not a new kind of cloud, just a rare one that just got its name: Asperatus.    "Asperatus comes from the Latin verb aspero, meaning "to roughen up" or "agitate".  The poet Vergil used it to describe the surface of a choppy sea."

The cloud with no name.

The Royal Meteorological Society is now gathering detailed information for the days and locations where the asperatus clouds have been seen in an attempt to understand exactly what is causing them.

Officials will then apply to the UN's World Meteorological Organisation in Geneva to have the new cloud type considered for addition into the International Cloud Atlas, the system used by meteorologists across the globe.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:18 AM | Permalink

"We men don’t have the semblance of a clue"

Dana Jennings is one man who understands what hot flashes are really like.

My Brief LIfe as a Woman

I was in the middle of treatment for an aggressive case of prostate cancer last winter, and it included a six-month course of hormone therapy. My Lupron shots suppressed testosterone, which is the fuel for prostate cancer.

When your testosterone is being throttled, there are bound to be side effects. So, with the help of Lupron, I spent a few months aboard the Good Ship Menopause with all the physical baggage that entails. It’s a trip that most men don’t expect to take.
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When it comes to hot flashes, ladies, I salute you. After my brief dalliance with that hormonal phenomenon, it seems to me it’s an under-reported condition.
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Hand in hand with the hot flashes came the food cravings...Then there was the weight issue...And I hated it, hated it, hated it.
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When I wasn’t devouring a king-size Italian sub or smoldering from a hot flash, it seemed that I was crying...Not only was I temporarily menopausal, but it appeared that I was also turning into a teenage girl from the early 1970s.
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t did confirm my lifelong sense that the world of women is hormonal and mysterious, and that we men don’t have the semblance of a clue.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:24 AM | Permalink

Medical alert tattoo

Now this makes sense for lifelong and life-threatening conditions: Tattoos being used for medical alerts

 Medical Tattoo

Increasing numbers of people who have serious medical conditions, such as diabetes, are turning to tattooing to identify themselves on the chance a health emergency leaves them unable to communicate.

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At Fatty's Custom Tattooz in Washington, D.C., owner Matthew "Fatty" Jessup says he has carved numerous health-related tattoos. "I've done a biohazard symbol for a few people with HIV," he says.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:19 AM | Permalink

Adult stem cells cure a form of blindness

 Contact Lense Adult Stem Cell

Stem cells used to help cure sight loss

COATING a common contact lens with stem cells could help restore a person's sight, Australian scientists have found.

University of New South Wales medical researchers used the technique to treat the damaged corneas of three patients, all of whose vision improved within weeks of the groundbreaking procedure.
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Stem cells were harvested from the eyes of each patient and then cultured inside a contact lens, which was then stuck onto a damaged cornea in a "transplant'' of regenerative cells.

"The procedure is totally simple and cheap,'' said the university's Dr Nick Di Girolamo.

"Unlike other techniques ... there's no suturing, there is no major operation, all that's involved is harvesting a minute amount - less than a millimetre - of tissue from the ocular surface.''

The lens stayed on for 10 days allowing stem cells to change their form, colonise and repair the cornea.

With so many successes from adult stem cells, I can not understand why any scientist or researcher would want to get entangled with the moral quagmire of embryonic stem research

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:14 AM | Permalink

June 1, 2009

He invented the letter M

Attention-Deficit-Disorder1

An advertisement from Dr. Boli's Celebrated Magazine.

I had never heard of this illustrious gentleman who was not only responsible for the invention of the letter M, but also for the construction of Portugal so that Portuguese refugees might have a home of their own.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:01 AM | Permalink

The "Evil Empire of Europe"

In my mind, one of the reasons  American newspapers dying is that they are boring and predictable.  It's rare to read such lively and scathing opinion as you can find any day in the British press. 

This week, voters go to the poll to elect members of the European parliament to which Gerald Warner writes  Now is the time to leave the evil empire of Europe.

The European Union is an enclosed tyranny, addicted to micromanagement of its subjects' lives and devoid of any kind of cultural coherence. It is the worst example in world history of the arrogance and wastefulness of an untrammelled bureaucracy. The greatest single step Britain could take towards freedom and self-fulfilment would be to remove itself from the control of this behemoth.

The EU, like its partner in corruption the United Nations, is a totally artificial construct. It has no roots in any real society and exists only as a vehicle for the power-hungry and the greedy to indulge their unhealthy appetites. Guarantor of European peace? Get real: who seriously believes we would have spent any part of the past 40 years at war with Germany, but for the benevolent interposition of Brussels? Metternich's Concert of Europe it is not.
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Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:53 AM | Permalink

Down syndrome gene starves tumor growth

A newly-discovered astonishing surprise of life: the extra chromosome carried by people with Down's syndrome carries a gene that causes cancer tumors to be starved of the blood they need to survive.

"Most people don't appreciate the fact that these individuals with Downs potentially hold a secret that might lead to quite substantial and revolutionary new treatments for cancer," said Dr. David Sweetser, who treats patients and researches cancer at MassGeneral Hospital for Children but was not involved in the Downs project. "The obvious hope is that this is going to give us information to help develop a tool that we could use to treat a whole variety of solid tumors."

A tale of scientific serendipity

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:27 AM | Permalink