September 30, 2009

Stealing Animals

This is hilarious.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:26 AM | Permalink

The Creative Power of Love

Scientific American has a most interesting article, Does Falling in Love Make Us More Creative?

why is love such a stimulating emotion? Why does the act of falling in love – or at least thinking about love – lead to such a spur of creative productivity?

One possibility is that when we’re in love we actually think differently. This romantic hypothesis was recently tested by the psychologists Jens Förster, Kai Epstude, and Amina Özelsel at the University of Amsterdam. The researchers found that love really does alter our thoughts, and that this profound emotion affects us in a way that is different than simply thinking about sex.

The clever experiments demonstrated that love makes us think differently in that it triggers global processing, which in turn promotes creative thinking and interferes with analytic thinking. Thinking about sex, however, has the opposite effect: it triggers local processing, which in turn promotes analytic thinking and interferes with creativity.

The takeaway lesson is that thinking about love, or anything that promotes a distal perspective or global processing, can make us more creative. Perhaps love is an especially potent way to induce in us a sense of transcendence – being in the here and now yet also contemplating the distant future and maybe even eternity.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:21 AM | Permalink

Sisters Honored in the House

I have great respect for Catholic nuns and the extraordinary work they have done and continue to do to educate, take care of the sick and dying and serve the poor, so I very pleased to see their self-sacrifice recognized by the House of Representatives.

A few excerpts from H. Res. 441, September 22, 2009:

Whereas Catholic sisters established the Nation's largest private school system and founded more than 110 United States colleges and universities, educating millions of young people in the United States;

Whereas Catholic sisters participated in the opening of the West, traveling vast distances to minister in remote locations, setting up schools and hospitals, and working among native populations on distant reservations;

Whereas more than 600 sisters from 21 different religious communities nursed both Union and Confederate soldiers alike during the Civil War;

Whereas Catholic sisters cared for afflicted populations during the epidemics of cholera, typhoid, yellow fever, smallpox, tuberculosis, and influenza during the 19th and early 20th centuries;

Whereas Catholic sisters built and established hospitals, orphanages, and charitable institutions that have served millions of people, managing organizations long before similar positions were open to women;

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:07 AM | Permalink

Dame Vera Lynn

A popular English singer during WWII, Vera Lynn was called "the Forces' Sweetheart".  Her most famous songs are "We'll meet again" and "White Cliffs of Dover"

Now at 92, she is back on the charts with her album, "We'll Meet Again - The Very Best of Vera Lynn",
overtaking  U2, the Stone Roses and Eminem.  Dame Vera Lynn storms into the top 20 with her CD of timeless tunes

The forces sweetheart kept up the spirits of millions of Britons with her songs and personality during the Second World War.
She travelled thousands of miles, often at considerable personal risk, to entertain troops.

She also had a BBC radio show on which she performed songs such as We'll Meet Again, I'll Be Seeing You, Wishing, and If Only I Had Wings.

Earlier this year, speaking of her role during the war she said: 'My songs reminded the boys of what they were really fighting for. 'Precious personal things rather than ideologies. I brought home a little nearer for them.'

 Vera Lynn Album

On September 14 of this year, she celebrated with champagne after becoming the oldest ever recording artist to top the album charts.

 Vera Lynn Champagne

Still a beauty at 92, she even gives beauty  tips.

 Vera Lynn Beauty

Hats off to a remarkable woman.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:31 AM | Permalink

Playing football and concussions

Does getting hit and tackled week after week affect your future life?  Yes says a recent study commissioned by the National Football League.

Former players get Alzheimer's or other memory-related disease at a rate 19 times more than the normal rate for men 30-49.

Dementia Risk Seen in Players in N.F.L. Study

The findings could ring loud at the youth and college levels, which often take cues from the N.F.L. on safety policies and whose players emulate the pros. Hundreds of on-field concussions are sustained at every level each week, with many going undiagnosed and untreated.
“This is a game-changer — the whole debate, the ball’s now in the N.F.L.’s court,” said Dr. Julian Bailes, the chairman of the department of neurosurgery at the West Virginia University School of Medicine

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:06 AM | Permalink

September 28, 2009

5 Unexpected Survival Kit Essentials

5 Unexpected Survival Kit Essentials

1. Beer
2. Handheld CB radio
3. Contractor Bags
4. Glow Bracelets
5. Good Books

Read why at Unusual Survival Checklist Staples at Popular Mechanics

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:52 PM | Permalink

"I do not want to be bumped off"

If you are getting creeped out by the sudden surge of states decriminalizing assisted suicide, I'm with you.  That's why I salute Barbara Kay who, concerned over the bill pending in Quebec to decriminalize euthanasia, pens a memo to her children

I do not want to be bumped off. I can't state the case more unequivocally than that. I don't care if I am a "burden" to you (you were once to me, that's how life works); I don't care how long it takes me to die, and how inconvenient that is to the medical system; and I don't care how selfless an example other parents are setting in graciously exiting the world for their dependents' sake before nature intended.
M y deathbed physician should be familiar with a 2002 John Hopkins University study indicating that
although 45% of terminally ill cancer subjects voiced a wish to die (i.e., subjects meeting the standards of Bill C-384), the wish turned out to be transient in all but 8% of the cases. If all 45% had been euthanized, we wouldn't know that. So even if I say I want to die, take that as a cry for comfort, reassurance or pain relief, which it almost certainly will be.
Do not fall for any claptrap about what "your mother would have wanted." Read my lips: Your mother does not want to be made to feel it is her duty to die before nature decrees, so that others may be freed from care and responsibility, a subtle shift that inevitably follows upon an established "right."

Mind, your mother is no martyr. If it's hopeless, no heroic measures, please. Oh yes, and she wants to die as painlessly as possible. If this means raiding the entire arsenal of available analgesics and even sedatives whose side effect is to facilitate an easier death, so be it.

Intention is all. I want an unequivocal healer-patient dynamic with my doctor.
His or her intention should be to kill my pain, not me. Finally, my doctor should be well versed in palliative care techniques, improving all the time.

Parents in England might want to do the same. Oh, and parents in Oregon, Washington, Montana  New Hampshire,
you too.

While lawmakers call it assisted suicide for the terminally ill (aren't we all?), Wesley Smith calls it The Creeping Culture of Euthanasia

N.B.  The Hemlock Society  has rebranded itself Compassion and Choices.  This is the group who wrote the end-of-life planning tool, "Your Life, Your Choices" for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to hand out to veterans.  Jim Towey, the  lawyer who, after volunteering with Mother Teresa,  drafted Five Wishes about end-of-life decisions with over 13 million in circulation, called the VA guide  "fatally flawed" with the underlying message Your Life Is Not Worth Living

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:47 PM | Permalink

"We are a very unhappy people"

According to my research, 72% of Americans agree with Howard Beale -- they really are "mad as hell." Second, 57% now believe that their children will inherit a worse America than they did, and just 33% believe their children will have a better quality of life than they have.

This wasn't just any single poll. My research includes interviews with 6,400 people from December 2008 through April 2009 that allow me to analyze opinions by gender, age, ethnicity, partisanship and more. It is buttressed by two dozen "instant response" groups of 30 voters in almost a dozen states over the last 100 days. No matter how I slice and dice the results, we're a very unhappy people.


image from Zorger

If you talk in depth to self-described angry Americans -- as I have -- you don't hear raving demands or reckless hate. What you hear is fear.

But you also hear a belief in American values that many thought were lost. An incredible 88% believe in the adage "live free or die." Conversely, just 35% agree with the statement, "I want it all, and I want it now," and a slight majority (54%) believe "if it feels good, do it." It's nice to know that freedom beats obtaining more stuff. And when asked to choose from a list of social and cultural challenges facing America, the highest priority is "restoring personal responsibility." (Even in these toughest of economic times, all most Americans are asking for is a hand up, not a handout.

Frank Luntz reports on What Americans really want

The core American complaint about politics is that wrongdoing isn't punished, other than at the next election.

For business and political elites, the message should be clear: Restore trust.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:23 PM | Permalink

Busted for babysitting

When you can't look after your neighbor's child, then the nanny state has gone way too far.

In England, a policewoman was banned from looking after her colleague’s daughter because she was not a registered childminder.

The Thames Valley Police detectives – who gave birth within a few months of each other – share a job at Aylesbury Police Station in Buckinghamshire.

But the mothers, both 32, have now been told by Ofsted that surveillance teams will spy on their homes to make sure they are not continuing to care for each other’s daughter.

For the past two-and-a-half years, one looked after both of the girls while the other worked a ten-hour shift. Both worked
two days a week.

In Michigan, a woman was threatened with fines for watching neighbors' kids and possibly jail time as well for operating an illegal child care home.

Lisa Snyder of Middleville says her neighborhood school bus stop is right in front of her home. It arrives after her neighbors need to be at work, so she watches three of their children for 15-40 minutes until the bus comes.
"It's ridiculous." says Snyder. "We are friends helping friends!" She added that she accepts no money for babysitting.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:26 AM | Permalink

Hobbled from the start

The unemployment rate for those 16-24, not counting students, is now 52.2%, higher than it's ever been in history.

Dead end kids
millions of Americans are staring at the likelihood that their lifetime earning potential will be diminished and, combined with the predicted slow economic recovery, their transition into productive members of society could be put on hold for an extended period of time.

And worse, without a clear economic recovery plan aimed at creating entry-level jobs, the odds of many of these young adults -- aged 16 to 24, excluding students -- getting a job and moving out of their parents' houses are long. Young workers have been among the hardest hit during the current recession -- in which a total of 9.5 million jobs have been lost.

With no one in the current administration, at the senior level anyway, with any experience in starting and growing a small business,  there are no plans or tax credits  to encourage small business to hire the young unemployed. 

Al Angrisani, the former assistant Labor Department secretary under President Reagan, said last week,
"There is no assistance provided for the development of job growth through small businesses, which create 70 percent of the jobs in the country.  All those [unemployed young people] should be getting hired by small businesses."

John Gordon points out that the minimum wage has increased 40% since 2006.
A small-business owner with 10 minimum-wage employees in 2006 could have hired another four with the wage increase he has been forced to pay to the ones he already had. So, of course, many of them didn’t hire anybody.

The evidence that minimum-wage laws work against, not for, the interests of the unskilled is pretty clear. There are, for instance, 13 states, ranging from California to New England, with minimum wages above the federal level. Their unemployment rates among the unskilled average higher than the national unemployment rate. That’s unlikely to be a coincidence.

The biggest backer of a higher minimum wage has long been Big Labor, few of whose workers are paid the minimum wage. But many of their workers are paid wages that are multiples of the minimum wage, so any increase in the minimum boosts their wages as well.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:27 AM | Permalink

September 24, 2009

Get More Sleep

Sleeping  Polar Bear

Sleep boosts the immune system and Lack of Sleep Increases the Risk of Catching a Cold

Sleep and immunity, it seems, are tightly linked. Studies have found that mammals that require the most sleep also produce greater levels of disease-fighting white blood cells — but not red blood cells, even though both are produced in bone marrow and stem from the same precursor. And researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology have shown that species that sleep more have greater resistance against pathogens.

“Species that have evolved longer sleep durations,” the Planck scientists wrote, “appear to be able to increase investment in their immune systems and be better protected.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:09 AM | Permalink


The Congressional Budget Office director told Senator Max Baucus that his
plan to cut $123 billion from Medicare Advantage—the program that gives almost one-fourth of seniors private health-insurance options—will result in lower benefits and some 2.7 million people losing this coverage.

Medicare and Gag Orders

Imagine that. Last week Mr. Baucus ordered Medicare regulators to investigate and likely punish Humana Inc. for trying to educate enrollees in its Advantage plans about precisely this fact. Jonathan Blum, acting director of a regulatory office in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), said that a mailer Humana sent its customers was "misleading and confusing to beneficiaries, who may believe that it represents official communication about the Medicare Advantage program."
Meanwhile, we have the case of the Association for the Advancement of Retired Persons (AARP), and its fanciful Medicare claims. The self-styled seniors lobby is using all its money and influence to cheer on ObamaCare, even though polls show that most retired persons oppose it. AARP has spent millions of dollars on its TV ad campaign and bulletins and newsletters to its members, including eight million direct-mail letters over Labor Day. The AARP Web site claims that it is a "myth" that "health care reform will hurt Medicare," while it is a "fact" that "none of the health care reform proposals being considered by Congress will cut Medicare benefits or increase your out-of-pocket costs.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:04 AM | Permalink

Be still my heart

Bacon peanut brittle

It's the unique, but magical combination of the sweet, the salty and the savory that sets them apart from any confections you’ve probably ever tasted.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:01 AM | Permalink

September 23, 2009

Alarming Debt

This is not good news.

The CBO predicts Social Security cash deficits in 2010-2011

John Taylor, a professor of economics at Stanford University, has put up on his blog some astounding charts to show
the immensity of the explosion of debt problem we now face in the U.S.  His alarming debt charts.

Debt Chart

Here's a grabber of a headline, U.S. Debt Crisis May Cause ‘Fall of Rome’ Scenario, Duncan Says

The U.S. has little chance of resolving its deteriorating financial position because the manufacturing industry continues to shrink, leaving the nation with few goods to export, said Duncan, now at Singapore-based Blackhorse Asset Management.
“As unemployment remains above 10 percent well into the foreseeable future, it won’t be long before Americans start voting for protectionism,” Duncan said. “That’s going to be bad because protectionism will mean world trade will diminish and will overall reduce global prosperity.”

Once the U.S. debt burden becomes too large and the government can no longer sell debt to the public the Federal Reserve will likely step in and monetize it, resulting in high levels of inflation, he said.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:32 PM | Permalink

"the person-hood of the patient is pushed to the margin of medical attention"

Abraham Verghese is at the First Stanford Symposium on Bedside Medicine and reports

An anthropologist from Mars looking at our hospitals might conclude that the 'work' of medicine takes place in rooms far removed from the patient, typically in front of a computer screen. The actual patient and the person-hood of the patient is pushed to the margin of medical attention while the 'iPatient', the virtual patient rules.

Last night we talked about the ritual of the exam, and how important that ritual is. Rituals are about transformation, and the careful exam has all the elements of ritual, including a sacred space, a ceremonial garb (white coat and patient gown), a routine that is mysterious to the patient and includes disrobing and touch (which in any other context would be assault).
Rituals are about transformation (think wedding, baptism etc) and this ritual when done well, is transformative, it establishes the physician-patient bond, it recognizes the body of the patient (the soma as opposed to the image of the body), and it is therapeutic, particularly in chronic disease, where the ritual repeated at every visit conveys to the patient that we are with them on the journey, we will not abandon them.

If We Can't Measure It, It Doesn't Exist

I've been hearing from a doctor friend just how poorly trained new residents are in developing relationships with their patients.    We see fabulous technological advances in medicine, yet the art of medicine is neglected and that is where the trust and healing takes place.

via Rod Dreher

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:07 PM | Permalink

September 22, 2009

"The great seduction of modern politics"

Kristol argued that this was the great seduction of modern politics — to believe that problems that were essentially moral and civic could be solved by economic means. They can’t. Political problems, even many economic problems, are, at heart, ethical and cultural problems. And improving the attitudes and virtues of a nation is, at best, a slow, halting process.

David Brooks in Three Cheers for Irving.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:54 PM | Permalink

Wrong embryo implanted

This would have been unimaginable in any other age. 

Pregnant mother forced to give u IVF baby after doctors implanted the wrong embryo.

I must say the parents are handling a tragic situation with a great deal of grace.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:16 AM | Permalink

September 19, 2009

"Hot food not sex"

The success of the human species is all due to our mastery of fire and cooking, a scientist claims. 

Hot food not sex was the basis of our relationships.

We are the “cooking ape”, according to Richard Wrangham, a noted British anthropologist and primatologist at Harvard University. The unrivalled success of the human species is down to our mastery of flame and our use of it to transform raw food into cooked. Ours is a species built on hot dinners, not cold plants and berries. ..

“I believe the transformative moment that gave rise to the genus Homo, one of the great transitions in the history of life, stemmed from the control of fire and the advent of cooked meals,” Wrangham explains in his new book Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human. “Cooking increased the (calorific) value of our food. It changed our bodies, our brains, our use of time and our social lives.” He argues, as no one else has done before, that cooking was pivotal in our evolution.
Cultural, historical and culinary clues point to the plausibility of Wrangham’s intuition. There is no society on Earth that does not cook; not a single people exists on raw food alone.

 Woman Man Cooking

“I couldn’t believe that nobody had thought about the energetic significance of cooked food [cooking releases locked-in calories by breaking down molecular structures in plants and meat; without cooking, some material passes straight through].
Cooking would have made a radical difference to the creatures who mastered it: it made plants and meat more calorie-dense; it spared our ancestors from the marathons of mastication required with raw foods (wild chimps spend up to five hours a day gathering food and chewing it); it was easier on the gut. It is utterly within the bounds of belief that the first hominid to put a flame to his food started an extraordinary chain of evolutionary events that culminated in us, the ape in the kitchen.

Human beings are unique in that when we cook, we do it to feed others as well as ourselves (other apes, even those who pair-bond, forage for themselves and don’t share). And in almost all societies it’s women who tend the stove. Having a husband ensures that a woman’s gathered food will not be stolen, while having a wife means a man will have an evening meal.

To some, though, this train of thought — that the way to a man’s heart really is through his evolutionarily shrunken stomach — is even more heretical than the idea that we are the cooking ape. “People don’t like it because over the past decades we have understood that our social system comes through the competition for reproductive partners. I’m saying, pair bonds are firstly about food, and that gave a platform to develop those relationships further.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:55 AM | Permalink

Get out of Jail Free

I love the sheer inventiveness and daring do of the British in WWII.  This is a terrific story of how they smuggled in compasses and maps to help British POWs escape from German war camps.

Silk Escape Maps Concealed in Monopoly games helped WWII prisoners escape

"It was ingenious," said Philip Orbanes, author of several books on Monopoly, including "The World's Most Famous Game and How it Got That Way." "The Monopoly box was big enough to not only hold the game but hide everything else they needed to get to POWs."  British historians say it was effective enough to help thousands of captured soldiers escape.  So how did a simple board game end up in a position to help out one of the most powerful military forces on the planet? Silk and serendipity.

 Monopoly London Game

From Kilroy was here

As he gently spread the layers of cardboard of the package, he found two slivers of metal which screwed together to form a file. He broke the little wooden red hotel to find a tiny silk map of his region folded very tightly. Under the packaged Monopoly money was real German Reich marks ready to spend and, finally, inside the Scotty dog was a tiny compass. Here was what he needed to be among the estimated 35,000 Allied POWs who escaped from German and Italian camps during WWII. The contraband in the Monopoly games is credited with at least one third of them

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:53 AM | Permalink

September 18, 2009

Six-fold increase in horror films since 1999

Horror Films

Be Afraid—Be Very Afraid by David P. Goldman

The horror-film genre is multiplying like one of its own monsters, showing six-fold growth over the past decade—turning what used to be a Hollywood curiosity into a mainstream product. Not only the volume of films but their cruelty has increased, with explicit torture now a screen staple.

But there is a pattern to the highs and lows of the horror genre that may reflect something specific about Hollywood’s feeding of the mood of the United States—something about America’s encounter with truly horrible events, from the Second World War through Vietnam and down to the attacks of September 11, 2001 and the lingering conflict in Iraq. Terror loiters in dark corners just off the public square.
Subgenres such as erotic horror (mainly centered on vampires) and torture (the Saw series, for example) dig deep into the vulnerabilities of the adolescent psyche. Given the success of these films over the past ten years, the number of Americans traumatizing themselves voluntarily is larger by an order of magnitude than it has ever been before.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:28 PM | Permalink

"Happiness is more contagious than unhappiness"

The Framingham Heart Study which started in 1948 to discover the underlying causes of heart disease is the longest on-going study in the country.

Two years ago, James Fowler and Nicolas Christakis, both social scientists, used the information gathered to discover the "contagious" nature of social behavior. 

By analyzing the Framingham data, Christakis and Fowler say, they have for the first time found some solid basis for a potentially powerful theory in epidemiology: that good behaviors — like quitting smoking or staying slender or being happy — pass from friend to friend almost as if they were contagious viruses. The Framingham participants, the data suggested, influenced one another’s health just by socializing. And the same was true of bad behaviors — clusters of friends appeared to “infect” each other with obesity, unhappiness and smoking. Staying healthy isn’t just a matter of your genes and your diet, it seems. Good health is also a product, in part, of your sheer proximity to other healthy people.

From the New York Times magazine Is Happiness Catching?

The subconscious nature of emotional mirroring might explain one of the more curious findings in their research: If you want to be happy, what’s most important is to have lots of friends.

Christakis and Fowler say their findings show that the gamble of increased sociability pays off, for a surprising reason: Happiness is more contagious than unhappiness.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:19 PM | Permalink

"This economy has made people really soul-search"

When the financial bubble burst, a lot of people with jobs in financial services lost them suddenly and had to find other ways of making a living.

"Something I've never seen before in 30 years is that this economy has made people really soul-search," says executive recruiter Jeanne Branthover, who heads global financial services for Boyden Global Executive Search. "They're saying, 'If I'm not going to make as much money as I did, I want to look for something that I really like this time.' "

As Riches Fade, So Does Finance's Allure

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:49 PM | Permalink

September 16, 2009

"They're not telling you the cost -- they're not telling you the benefit."

Cap and Trade could cost families $1761 a year

The Obama administration has privately concluded that a cap and trade law would cost American taxpayers up to $200 billion a year, the equivalent of hiking personal income taxes by about 15 percent.

A previously unreleased analysis prepared by the U.S. Department of Treasury says the total in new taxes would be between $100 billion to $200 billion a year. At the upper end of the administration's estimate, the cost per American household would be an extra $1,761 a year.

The documents (PDF) were obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by the free-market Competitive Enterprise Institute and released on Tuesday.

These disclosures will probably not aid the political prospects of the Democrats' cap and trade bill. The House of Representatives approved it by a remarkably narrow margin in June -- the bill would have failed if only six House members had switched their votes to "no" -- and it faces significant opposition in the Senate.

Christopher Horner who filed the FOIA request said

"It's nice to see they're not spinning each other behind closed doors."

"They're not telling you the cost -- they're not telling you the benefit.  If they don't tell you the cost, and they don't tell you the benefit, what are they telling you? They're just talking about global salvation."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:58 AM | Permalink

Reason 568 on why not to pass health care reform bill

We could lose half the doctors practicing today.

45% Of Doctors Would Consider Quitting If Congress Passes Health Care Overhaul

Two of every three practicing physicians oppose the medical overhaul plan under consideration in Washington, and hundreds of thousands would think about shutting down their practices or retiring early if it were adopted, a new IBD/TIPP Poll has found.

The poll contradicts the claims of not only the White House, but also doctors' own lobby — the powerful American Medical Association — both of which suggest the medical profession is behind the proposed overhaul.

It also calls into question whether an overhaul is even doable; 72% of the doctors polled disagree with the administration's claim that the government can cover 47 million more people with better-quality care at lower cost.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:18 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

"Arguably the greatest American of the 20th century" and "Most Americans don't even know his name"

Gregg Easterbrook on The Man Who Defused the 'Population Bomb'

Norman Borlaug—arguably the greatest American of the 20th century—died late Saturday after 95 richly accomplished years. The very personification of human goodness, Borlaug saved more lives than anyone who has ever lived. He was America's Albert Schweitzer: a brilliant man who forsook privilege and riches in order to help the dispossessed of distant lands. That this great man and benefactor to humanity died little-known in his own country speaks volumes about the superficiality of modern American culture.

Born in 1914 in rural Cresco, Iowa, where he was educated in a one-room schoolhouse, Borlaug won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 for his work ending the India-Pakistan food shortage of the mid-1960s. He spent most of his life in impoverished nations, patiently teaching poor farmers in India, Mexico, South America, Africa and elsewhere the Green Revolution agricultural techniques that have prevented the global famines widely predicted when the world population began to skyrocket following World War II.

In 1999, the Atlantic Monthly estimated that Borlaug's efforts—combined with those of the many developing-world agriculture-extension agents he trained and the crop-research facilities he founded in poor nations—saved the lives of one billion human beings.

 Ap Norman Borlaug

Often it is said America lacks heroes who can provide constructive examples to the young. Here was such a hero. Yet though streets and buildings are named for Norman Borlaug throughout the developing world, most Americans don't even know his name.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:01 AM | Permalink

Leonard Cohen turns 75

Leonard Cohen turns 75 next week and in his honor Mark Steyn reprises a piece about his favorite Cohen song, Dance Me to the End of Love

the song is almost like a lyric-writing exercise, as if Mr Cohen had wearied of avoiding the four-and-a-half rhymes for "love" and set himself the challenge of using them in fresh but entirely natural ways.
But then I chanced to stumble across an interview in which Cohen talked about how "Dance Me To The End Of Love" came to be written:

It's curious how songs begin because the origin of the song, every song, has a kind of grain or seed that somebody hands you or the world hands you and that's why the process is so mysterious about writing a song. But that came from just hearing or reading or knowing that in the death camps, beside the crematoria, in certain of the death camps, a string quartet was pressed into performance while this horror was going on, those were the people whose fate was this horror also. And they would be playing classical music while their fellow prisoners were being killed and burnt.

Just like Irving Berlin, the Gershwins and all the rest, Cohen is a Jewish songwriter. But, as that genesis suggests, he's far more explicitly Jewish in his work. On the other hand, just like the best songs of Berlin & Co, "Dance Me To The End Of Love" is trembling on the brink of becoming a standard - a song for anyone to sing, and to bring anything you want to it, for now and till the end of love:

Oh let me see your beauty when the witnesses are gone
Let me feel you moving like they do in Babylon
Show me slowly what I only know the limits of
Dance Me To The End Of Love.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:50 AM | Permalink

"The spiritual edifice of the Church functions obliviously to market share"

Canadian born Conrad Black was at one time the third largest newspaper magnate in the world, publishing The Daily Telegraph in London, the Chicago Sun-Times, the Jerusalem Post, Canada's National Post and hundreds of community newspapers in the U.S. through his interest in Hollinger International.

In June of 2007 he was convicted of fraud based on charges of diverting funds for personal benefit from Hollinger when the company sold certain publishing assets.  His conviction is currently on appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Now he writes from prison in Florida  on How I woke up from spiritual slumber and inched at a snail's pace to Rome.
Former Telegraph proprietor Conrad Black was an agnostic until his 20s, but, after trips to Rome, Lourdes and Fatima, found he could not shut out a sense of God.

My religious upbringing was casually Protestant, a respect for Christian tradition and high religious tolerance, but no encouragement to be a practising or seriously believing Christian.

 Conrad Black

I am attracted to conversion stories  and Black's is quite interesting,  particularly as he sets the context with his observations on Quebec as it changed from a religious culture.
When I moved to Quebec in 1966 I was astounded by the omnipresence there of Roman Catholicism....

My research revealed that only the Church had sustained the French language in Quebec, the demographic survival of French Canadians, and the prevalence of literacy, provision of health care, and even most capital formation (as in the caisses populaires and credit unions attached to almost every parish), for nearly two centuries after the Battle of the Plains of Abraham in 1759....I saw the Roman Catholic Church in Quebec, and later in most other places, as fiercely dedicated to the kingdom of God, resistant to opportunistic fads, concerned to modernise without eroding faith, armed with intellectual arguments quite equal, at the least, to those of their secular opponents or rivals, and almost always a champion of human rights when it wasn't in common cause with less altruistic elements against the anti-Christ of Communism.
The almost exclusive Church provision of education and health care to French Quebec was overly prolonged and averse to competition, but the resulting savings in salary costs of teachers and nurses enabled the government of Quebec to devote most of its budget to what is now called infrastructure. Duplessis built thouands of schools, the new campuses of Laval and Montreal Universities, the University of Sherbrooke, hundreds of hospitals and clinics, thousands of miles of roads, the first Canadian autoroutes, and he brought electricity to 97 per cent of rural Quebec. Quebec was even a pioneer in disability pensions and day care.

to a secular one

Now the same people were performing the same educational and paramedical tasks in the same buildings for the same population at 10 times the cost to the Quebec taxpayers, and were frequently on strike, as taxes and debt soared, the birth- rate collapsed, the separatists advanced, and the cultural rights of the non-French were re-defined as "revocable privileges".
Now the impecunious parishes, scanty congregations and the apparent anachronism of the contemporary Church seemed to produce a sharp division between those clergy buoyed by the challenge, feeling themselves like the monks of the Dark Ages squatting in forests and on mountain tops, agents of spiritual and cultural preservation, and those who were just the detritus of the old Church, parched, wizened, and passing slowly on. In Quebec as in France, those who persist in the practice of the faith are not the oldest, poorest, most desperate, though those are there, but a very random group, including elegant young women, evidently successful men, bright students, unselfconscious, curious, and assured. The spiritual edifice of the Church functions obliviously to market share, and there is a common strain of intelligent and hopeful faith, regardless of fashion, age, or economics

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:21 AM | Permalink

September 15, 2009

"Healthcare is the growth industry of the 21st century"

Richard Fernandez discusses  Another Point of View that takes into account the thinking of  Robert Fogel, Nobel Prize winning economist.

Fogel argues that because most Americans have satisfactorily met their food, shelter and clothing needs, people are willing to spend a greater fraction of each extra dollar on health care, simply because it matters more to them then say, extra comestibles, which they have enough of. To some extent the American propensity to spend more on health care resembles the demand for a luxury good [2], “a good for which demand increases more than proportionally as income rises”.

An aging but still functional society, in Fogel's apparent view, would naturally demand more health care than skateboards, but for so long as they can sustainably pay for it through a well functioning market, there is no need to suppress demand. On contrary, health care will be one of the fundamental demand drivers of technology for biotechnology and other new industries way into the 21st century. In the long struggle between man versus death, humanity, having basically beaten starvation and cold, would naturally turn its efforts to fighting old age and disease.

Consequently, there is no need to suppress the demand for healthcare. Expenditures on healthcare are driven by demand, which is spurred by income and by advances in biotechnology that make health interventions increasingly effective. Just as electricity and manufacturing were the industries that stimulated the growth of the rest of the economy at the beginning of the 20th century, healthcare is the growth industry of the 21st century. It is a leading sector, which means that expenditures on healthcare will pull forward a wide array of other industries including manufacturing, education, financial services, communications, and construction.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:21 PM | Permalink

"Backdoor Euthanasia"

Report warns doctors snub families of the terminally ill amid growing use of 'death pathway'

More than a quarter of families are not told when life support is withdrawn from terminally-ill loved ones, a report has found.
Experts warn that growing use of a controversial 'death pathway' is seeing some patients killed off prematurely.

They say the system can lead to 'backdoor euthanasia' by encouraging doctors to deny fluids and drugs to those deemed to be in their final throes.

'Governments have got rid of respite care and geriatric wards, so we're left with a crisis. The Government has said let's develop a service to help people die at home - what they should be doing is helping them live. Only when death is unavoidable should you start withdrawing treatment.

'The problem is that there isn't enough discussion between doctors and patients and their relatives. Nobody is talking to them.'

The 'National Care of the Dying' audit also found that less than half of all terminally-ill patients and their relatives are offered religious or spiritual support.

And a quarter of doctors in hospitals are not properly trained in dealing with the dying

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:14 PM | Permalink

Seniors face cancer and cardiac care cuts

New policy changes at an office I had never heard of before -the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) - threatens access to medical services for millions of heart and cancer patients on Medicare.

Medicare facing cancer and cardiac care cuts

If enacted as scheduled on Jan. 1, 2010, policy changes recommended by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) -- the government's insurer for the elderly and disabled -- will severely cut current Medicare reimbursements to cardiologists and oncologists for critical care services that are provided to patients in physicians' offices or other out-of-hospital setting, such as chemotherapy to treat cancer, and various cardiac procedures to monitor and treat heart disease, such as nuclear imaging and heart catheterization.

Yet the policymakers at CMS, who base their decisions on numbers and statistics, are unilaterally and dramatically changing the delivery of heart and cancer care by proclaiming that care for heart disease and cancer is too costly, while treatment for other diseases has greater value.Seniors

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:51 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

September 14, 2009

"Largest event held in Washington, ever"

In my lifetime, I have never seen such a spontaneous, self-organized rally of up to so many  ---  2 million people according to the Daily Mail, 60,000 according to ABC News.  The spokesman for the National Park Service is quotes as saying,  "It is a record.... We believe it is the largest event held in Washington, D.C., ever."

 9.12.09 Rally D.C.

It was a remarkable event by ordinary people who are rightly alarmed about what's happening and not happening in Washington. 

Nick Gillespie on the scene says

First, the crowd was truly huge. Second, the crowd was from all over the place (both geographically and ideologically). And third, the crowd, well-behaved and stunningly normal in the main, was genuinely pissed off at out of control spending and government policies. "Stop spending," was the basic answer to any questions about what Congress and the president should do come tomorrow. Throw the bums of either party out come next fall was the second most-common answer.

I'm with them, the people pushing back.  The government is not fixing the economy, but making everything worse.

The president's chief economic advisor Larry Summers warns that the unemployment rate could stay "unacceptably high" for years  which means no new jobs are being created in the private sector.

Already, 2 out of 5 Californians don't have a job!


So the idea we are starting a trade war with China at the behest of the steelworkers' union is mind-boggling because it could so easily "ratchet up into a full-blown trade war and inflict serious economic damage on both countries."

The problem that got us into this mess, the bad regulation of the financial services sector, has not and is not being fixed.

Bloomberg reports that  Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel Prize- winning economist  says 

the U.S. has failed to fix the underlying problems of its banking system after the credit crunch and the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.

“In the U.S. and many other countries, the too-big-to-fail banks have become even bigger,” Stiglitz said in an interview today in Paris.
“The problems are worse than they were in 2007 before the crisis.”

Which brings me to health care.    Why doesn't the President just fix Medicare and Medicaid which will go broke in the next 10 years?  Why does he want to cut benefits to seniors by cutting the only part Medicare that is competitive?

Medicare  for Dummies says the Wall St Journal, with "contradictions worthy of the Marx Brothers"

No cuts, for anyone—except, that is, for the 24% of senior beneficiaries [who] are enrolled in the Medicare Advantage program, which Democrats want to slash by $177 billion or more because it is run by private companies. Mr. Obama called that money "unwarranted subsidies in Medicare that go to insurance companies—subsidies that do everything to pad their profits but don't improve the care of seniors."

In fact, Advantage does provide better care, which is one reason that enrollment has doubled since 2003. It's true that the program could be better designed, with more competitive bidding and quality bonuses. But Advantage's private insurers today provide the kind of care that Mr. Obama said he would mandate that private insurers provide for the nonelderly—"to cover, with no extra charge, routine checkups and preventative care."

Advantage plans have excelled at filling in the gaps of the a la carte medicine of traditional Medicare, contracting with doctors and hospitals to coordinate care and improve quality and covering items such as vision, hearing and management of chronic illness. If seniors in Advantage lose this coverage because of the 14% or 15% budget cut that Mr. Obama favors, well, that's "waste and abuse."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:04 AM | Permalink

September 13, 2009

Unseen Harmony

I love these  Birds on the Wires from Jarbas Agnelli on Vimeo.

I saw a picture of birds on the electric wires. I cut out the photo and decided to make a song, using the exact location of the birds as notes (no Photoshop edit). I knew it wasn't the most original idea in the universe. I was just curious to hear what melody the birds were creating.

Part of the Unseen Harmony can also be heard in the Sound of Your Cells that make music way down at the molecular level.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:47 PM | Permalink

The Butterfly Nebula

Just how much better is the "New' Hubble?

 Hubble Compared

Much better.  Compare the earlier image of the Betterfly Nebula with the later one above.

Click on the thumbnail image of the entire Butterfly Nebula below to see it in its full glory.

Butterfly Nebula

Unfathomable beauty.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:50 PM | Permalink

"We will dominate this country, my brothers"

Daniel Johnson reviews Christopher Caldwell's new book, Reflections on the Revolution in Europe.

In June 2009, an incident took place at Conway Hall in London’s Red Lion Square, the hallowed venue of secular leftist gatherings since the 1930s. Anjem Choudary, a radical Muslim preacher and leader of the Islamist organization al-Muhajiroun, was ejected after his followers attempted to segregate male and female members of the audience for a public debate. Choudary told the assembled media in the street outside: “This country is rife with social and economic problems and only Islam has the answer. Muslims are multiplying at a rate eight times faster than the kaffir. In a couple of generations this will be a Muslim country, inshallah. We will dominate this country, my brothers, and implement the beauty and perfection of Islam.” Al--Muhajiroun members greeted the speech with cheers and cries of “God is great” and “Sharia for the UK.” The crowd included Simon Keeler, the first white British Muslim convert convicted of inciting terrorism.

Caldwell’s revolution, on the other hand, does not look like the parent of a new settlement—unless it be the caliphate. He himself doubts whether Europe has the moral courage to win over its new immigrant populations in the contest for allegiance. He concludes on a pessimistic note: “For now, Islam is the stronger party in that contest, in an obvious demographic way and in a less obvious philosophical way. Words like ‘majority’ and ‘minority’ mean little when an insecure, malleable, relativistic culture meets a culture that is anchored, confident, and strengthened by common doctrines. It is generally the former that changes to suit the latter.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:44 PM | Permalink

Jesus today

What happens when a fashion photographer, Michael Belk, finds faith and uses his talents to photograph Journeys with the Messiah in our current times.

His photographs are startling, fresh, provocative and moving. 

Below is entitled RSVP.  We all are invited but some fail to respond or send their regrets and so miss out on the Eternal Banquet. 

Rsvp 1Pe

Here's what Belk himself has to say,

"I wanted to create photographs that strip out ‘religion' to show the raw life and message of Jesus," Belk said.  "Transitioning from photographing fashion models to Jesus wasn't as big of a leap as you might think.  The stories Jesus told were always edgy, relevant and told with an unexpected twist - much like fashion photography."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:22 PM | Permalink

September 9, 2009

Sleeping babies

 Baby Hat Sleeping

Tracey Raver is the photographer from Nebraska who, with her sister, captures these adorable photos of babies sleeping.  Sweet dreams: The cutest baby pictures you'll ever see.  Inspiration for new parents and grandparents.

 Baby Sleeping Toes

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:23 PM | Permalink

Whatever happened to liberals?

Camille Paglia is always worth reading.  Here she is, an Obama supporter,  on whatever happened to liberals.

Why has the Democratic Party become so arrogantly detached from ordinary Americans? Though they claim to speak for the poor and dispossessed, Democrats have increasingly become the party of an upper-middle-class professional elite, top-heavy with journalists, academics and lawyers (one reason for the hypocritical absence of tort reform in the healthcare bills). Weirdly, given their worship of highly individualistic, secularized self-actualization, such professionals are as a whole amazingly credulous these days about big-government solutions to every social problem. They see no danger in expanding government authority and intrusive, wasteful bureaucracy. This is, I submit, a stunning turn away from the anti-authority and anti-establishment principles of authentic 1960s leftism.

How has "liberty" become the inspirational code word of conservatives rather than liberals?
But affluent middle-class Democrats now seem to be complacently servile toward authority and automatically believe everything party leaders tell them. Why? Is it because the new professional class is a glossy product of generically institutionalized learning? Independent thought and logical analysis of argument are no longer taught. Elite education in the U.S. has become a frenetic assembly line of competitive college application to schools where ideological brainwashing is so pandemic that it's invisible. The top schools, from the Ivy League on down, promote "critical thinking," which sounds good but is in fact just a style of rote regurgitation of hackneyed approved terms ("racism, sexism, homophobia") when confronted with any social issue. The Democratic brain has been marinating so long in those clichés that it's positively pickled.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:45 AM | Permalink

Liposuction leftovers make easy stem cells

Who knew that recycling fat could have such astounding effects?

Fat sucked out of chunky thighs or flabby bellies might provide an easy source of stem cells made using new and promising technology, U.S. researchers reported on Tuesday.

They found immature fat cells in the material removed during liposuction were easy to transform into cells called induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPS cells.

They were easier to work with than the skin cells usually used to make iPS cells, the team at Stanford University's School of Medicine in California reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Liposuction leftovers make easy stem cells: study

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:48 AM | Permalink

The Morning After

What happened when the idea of a soul-mate marriage took hold and with it no-fault divorce that displaced the traditional idea of marriage, one that put the welfare of children first?

 Child Divorce

From National Affairs, The Evolution of Divorce by Brad Wilcox via Maggie Gallagher

In the case of divorce, as in so many others, the worst consequences of the social revolution of the 1960s and '70s are now felt disproportionately by the poor and less educated, while the wealthy elites who set off these transformations in the first place have managed to reclaim somewhat healthier and more stable habits of married life. This imbalance leaves our cultural and political elites less well attuned to the magnitude of social dysfunction in much of American society, and leaves the most vulnerable Americans — especially children living in poor and working-class communities — even worse off than they would otherwise be.
Thus, by the time the 1970s came to a close, many Americans — rich and poor alike — had jettisoned the institutional model of married life that prioritized the welfare of children, and which sought to discourage divorce in all but the most dire of circumstances. Instead, they embraced the soul-mate model of married life, which prioritized the emotional welfare of adults and gave moral permission to divorce for virtually any reason.

Thirty years later, the myth of the good divorce has not stood up well in the face of sustained social scientific inquiry — especially when one considers the welfare of children exposed to their parents' divorces.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:34 AM | Permalink

Faulty science or a ploy to raise taxes?

When they looked at the observable data instead of the computer models, MIT scientists found that Carbon Dioxide was irrelevant in climate change.

Professor Richard Lindzen of MIT has published a paper which proves that IPCC models are overstating by 6 times, the relevance of CO2 in Earth’s Atmosphere.

Professor Richard Lindzen of MIT’s peer reviewed work states “we now know that the effect of CO2 on temperature is small, we know why it is small, and we know that it is having very little effect on the climate.”

The global surface temperature record, which we update and publish every month, has shown no statistically-significant “global warming” for almost 15 years. Statistically-significant global cooling has now persisted for very nearly eight years.

Go to the link above or this pdf from the Science and Public Policy Institute to see the graphs and scientific explanations to see why the theory of man-caused global warming is completely false.

All of this data leads to the conclusion that the UN/IPCC models are not only wrong, they are so far off the mark as to be laughable.  The satellite and bathythermograph data clearly do not match the IPCC theory, which means that the theory is incorrect.

What this data does tell us is if CO2 concentration should double, global temperatures will not rise by the devastating 6 degrees F the UN predicts, but by a completely harmless 1 degree F. The ERBE data shows an Earth system that is radiating more heat into space as sea surfaces warm, in other words a system at equilibrium, and is clearly demonstrated by observed data.
The UN theory of Anthropogenic Global Warming is dead wrong.

The big conclusion is devastating:

There are only a couple of conclusions to be made of this. Either the world has been misled by scientists working for the UN and IPCC due to faulty science, or faulty science has been deliberately used in a global scheme to generate tax revenues for the Governments instituting Cap and Trade Taxation policies.

Remember this as Congress takes up cap and trade in what can be called an Economic Suicide Pact  that won't work but will bring the largest tax increase in American history.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:56 AM | Permalink

September 8, 2009

"Moving from charity to justice - from gift to rights- has social costs"

Roger Scruton makes you think again about a lot of things.  Here he is on The Importance of Gratitude

In the religions that are familiar to us, the idea of grace is of fundamental importance. The term (Latin gratia) translates a variety of words in Hebrew, Greek, Arabic, and Sanskrit, but all the sacred texts seem to point in the same direction, affirming that God’s relation to the world as a whole, and to each of us in particular, is one of giving.
The idea that the world is sustained by gift is second nature to religious people, who believe that they should be givers in their turn, if they are to receive the gift on which they depend for their salvation.
But, as we know, we are entering a new period of human history, in which religious faith is not the normal condition into which children are born. Young people grow up without those rituals, such as grace before meals, which rehearse the distress of their ancestors, and which remind them of their amazing good luck in finding food on the table and comfort all around. Gratitude, if it occurs at all, is for special occasions, when some individual makes a point of stepping in to help them. And many things that were once seen as gifts are now seen as ‘rights’, for which it would be inappropriate to feel gratitude, since if you have a right to something it is, in a sense, already yours.

A gift-giving culture

There is, in the gift-giving culture, a display of gratitude at the moment of gift, and a kind of rejoicing that warms the hearts of those involved. On the gift day the tribe does not merely put aside old quarrels; it feels a renewed surge of affection towards its neighbours. This affection is a kind of moral capital on which it may draw in times of conflict. It delays belligerence, providing the breathing space in which offences can be rectified before it is too late.

The round of drinks in a pub

We have some familiarity with this from an equivalent ritual in our own communities, which is that of the round of drinks in the pub..
..the ritual replenishes the bank of affection, helping to create the barrier to belligerence on which close-knit communities depend. And the participant feels, at the moment of giving, an outrush of affection towards each of his companions in turn. He is confirmed in his social membership.
While charity deals in gifts, justice deals in rights. And when you receive what is yours by right you don’t feel grateful.
When gifts are replaced by rights, so is gratitude replaced by claims. And claims breed resentment. Since you are queuing on equal terms with the competition, you will begin to think of the special conditions that entitle you to a greater, a speedier, or a more effective share. You will be always one step from the official complaint, the court action, the press interview, and the snarling reproach against Them, the ones who owed you this right and also withheld it.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:26 AM | Permalink

How and What We Store

From the New York Times magazine, The Self-Storage Self

The Self Storage Association notes that, with more than seven square feet for every man, woman and child, it’s now “physically possible that every American could stand — all at the same time — under the total canopy of self-storage roofing.”
The first modern self-storage facilities opened in the 1960s, and for two decades storage remained a low-profile industry, helping people muddle through what it terms “life events.” For the most part, storage units were meant to temporarily absorb the possessions of those in transition: moving, marrying or divorcing, or dealing with a death in the family. And the late 20th century turned out to be a golden age of life events in America, with peaking divorce rates and a rush of second- and third-home buying. At the same time, the first baby boomers were left to face down the caches of heirlooms and clutter in their parents’ basements.
It raises a simple question: where was all that stuff before?
“A lot of it just comes down to the great American propensity toward accumulating stuff,”
Fifty percent of renters were now simply storing what wouldn’t fit in their homes — even though the size of the average American house had almost doubled in the previous 50 years, to 2,300 square feet.

Not only do we have too much stuff, some of us are hoarders, afraid to throw anything away.


Probably, the most famous hoarders of all were the Collyer brothers, Columbia College graduate both, who were found dead in their Harlem brownstone, surrounded by more than 100 tons of stuff and rubbish they had collected over decades.  The fear of throwing anything away is sometimes called 'Collyer brothers syndrome'.  I wonder how many such people now use self-storage as a way of being able to save everything they have ever owned and not be buried by it.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:00 AM | Permalink

September 3, 2009

Alternative to hip replacement in our future

In what I think is a major medical breakthrough, British scientists are using adult stem cells to avoid hip replacements.

Doctors in Southampton are using the pioneering technique, where a patient’s damaged bones are repaired using their own stem cells.

Patients hailed the treatment, after many found they could walk normally again without any pain and without the need for hip replacement surgery.

So far six patients have had the treatment with only one failure, doctors said.

The numbers are small but the prospects are huge.

Under the treatment, surgeons at Spire hospital used purified cells from bone marrow extracted from the pelvis.

The stem cells, which are immature cells that can develop into different kinds of tissue, were then mixed with “cleaned, ground-up” bone from another patient, after they had a hip replacement operation.

They then finished with dead tissue being removed before surgeons filled the cavity with the mixture of stem cells and donated bone.

Prof Oreffo, who is currently leading a team researching how stem cell technology can be used to repair human skeletal tissue, told Sky News that stem cells used chemical signals to attract blood vessels.

"Bone is a living vibrant tissue. These stem cells generate new tissue and drive new blood vessel formation to bring in nutrients," he said.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:26 PM | Permalink

I bet you know people like this

A couple of weeks ago George Will quoted Saul Bellow to reveal the mindset of statists.

Even more than the New Deal and the Great Society, Obama's agenda expresses the mentality of a class that was nascent in the 1930s but burgeoned in the 1960s and 1970s. The spirit of that class is described in Saul Bellow's 1975 novel "Humboldt's Gift." In it Bellow wrote that the modern age began when a particular class of people decided, excitedly, that life had "lost the ability to arrange itself":

"It had to be arranged. Intellectuals took this as their job. ... This arranging has been the one great gorgeous tantalizing misleading disastrous project. A man like Humboldt, inspired, shrewd, nutty, was brimming over with the discovery that the human enterprise, so grand and infinitely varied, had now to be managed by exceptional persons. He was an exceptional person, therefore he was an eligible candidate for power."

 Intellectual Elite Voltair1

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:12 AM | Permalink

LA fires

The LA fires have now burned more than 144,000 acres and is only 38% contained but progress is being made.

The threat to the historic observatory and crucial TV and radio transmission towers atop Mt. Wilson had also lessened after intense brush-clearing and back-burning efforts

Suspicions are high that the fire was deliberately set.

Turns out that federal authorities didn't clear the brush away from the wildfire areas because of liberal pressure,

Months before the huge blaze erupted, the U.S. Forest Service obtained permits to burn away the undergrowth and brush on more than 1,700 acres of the Angeles National Forest. But just 193 acres had been cleared by the time the fire broke out, Forest Service resource officer Steve Bear said.

"This brush was ready to explode," said Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich, whose district overlaps the forest. "The environmentalists have gone to the extreme to prevent controlled burns, and as a result we have this catastrophe today."

Prescribed burns are intended to protect homes and lives by eliminating fuel that can cause explosive wildfires. The wildfire that has blackened 140,000 acres — or nearly 219 square miles — in the forest over the past week has been fed by the kind of tinder-dry vegetation that prescribed burns are designed to safely devour.
Government firefighters set thousands of blazes each year to reduce the wildfire risk in overgrown forests and grasslands around the nation. Prescribed burns can also be used to improve overall forest health and increase forage for wildlife.

Obtaining the necessary permits is a complicated process, and such efforts often draw protests from environmentalists.

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

September 1, 2009

Skin to Skin

You may have seen this story, but it's so remarkable I just have to post it.

She thought she was saying a final goodbye to her premature infant Rachel who weighed only  20 oz and who was not breathing.

She said: "I didn't want her to die being cold. So I lifted her out of her blanket and put her against my skin to warm her up. Her feet were so cold.
"It was the only cuddle I was going to have with her, so I wanted to remember the moment." Then something remarkable happened. The warmth of her mother's skin kickstarted Rachael's heart into beating properly, which allowed her to take little breaths of her own.

Miss Isbister said: "We couldn't believe it - and neither could the doctors. She let out a tiny cry.

 Mom Kangaroo Save Baby

"The doctors came in and said there was still no hope - but I wasn't letting go of her. We had her blessed by the hospital chaplain, and waited for her to slip away.

"But she still hung on. And then amazingly the pink colour began to return to her cheeks.

"She literally was turning from grey to pink before our eyes, and she began to warm up too."

Four months later, Rachael was allowed home weighing 8lb - the same as a newborn baby - and she has a healthy appetite.

Mother's goodbye saves her baby

The skin to skin contact is called Kangaroo mother care and it's helped other premature babies survive.

Here's a site devoted to Kangaroo mother care

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:45 PM | Permalink

Sharing the pain

There is a startling difference between the pay of  the average federal employee who makes $79,197 and the average private sector employee who makes only $49,935.

 Federal Private Pay Gap
graph from Chris Edwards

In light of the current economic crisis  and the jobless rate of 9.5%, President Obama has decided to reduce the across-the-board increase in pay federal employees will get next year from 2.4% to just 2%.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:47 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

Don't help digital criminals

It's obvious to some of us, but not others that Digital criminals can use Twitter and Facebook to find targets.

Identity Opener

Don't post your vacation plans and dates until after you return home.

Don't post personal information on any website unless you wouldn't mind seeing it on the front page of your local newspaper

Don't friend people you don't know.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:29 AM | Permalink