December 31, 2009

Making an end for a new beginning


"For last year's words belong to last year's language
And next year's words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning."
-- T.S. Eliot

Happy New Year everyone.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:53 PM | Permalink

December 29, 2009

The bad stuff that's good for you

From Live Science Top 10 Bad Things That Are Good for You

Beer quells heart disease and chocolate staves off cancer? Though often tagged with a disclaimer, studies that tell us to eat, inhale and generally indulge in "bad stuff" is music to our ears. So go ahead and enjoy these bad-for-you remedies-everything in moderation, as they say-until the next study inevitably overturns the research.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:52 AM | Permalink

Response to Climategate: Denial and Attack

The Doc is In on experts, Our Gnostic Masters

Our dependence on the guidance of scientists, economists, educators, and technocrats proves especially toxic when their expertise becomes wedded to money and political influence. Under the guise of shielding us from the complexity of their disciplines, they evolve into closed guilds, guardians of a secret knowledge which we, in our harrowed and hectic lives, have no time and little interest in understanding. As our educational system — itself run by a closed guild — produces generations of students tutored in woman’s studies, postmodern deconstructionism, and the evils of the West, yet ignorant of logic, philosophy, and the rigors of the hard sciences, the problem is compounded.

Nowhere can this process better be seen than the unfolding drama surrounding the East Anglia email scandal. Centered on one of the three major centers for climate research and data in the world, the hacked emails and software code have ripped open the veil to show us the inner sanctum of science utterly corrupted and politicized. At issue is anthropogenic global warming (AGW) — the theory that recent warming trends in global temperatures are caused by rising levels of carbon dioxide from human activity, fostered by industrialization. It has long been a theory which struggled to pass the sniff test, placing undo weight on a trivial component of so-called greenhouse gases, while ignoring the enormous (and obvious) impact of solar activity, water vapor, and cloud cover.

It has been fascinating to watch this ball of yarn unravel. In what may prove to be the greatest hoax mankind has ever witnessed — most certainly the one with almost unimaginable financial impact globally — we are watching the “settled science” of AGW disintegrate.
The response of climate scientists to these devastating revelations? Denial and attack. The response of the UN Climate gurus and American and Western policy makers? Denial and attack. The response of the media to this massive global meltdown of AGW “settled science? Silence.

Gaghdad Bob comments

In a very real sense, the hysterical obsession with global warming is a displaced crisis of the soul -- which is the very reason why it so transparently partakes of mythology and is impervious to the light of reason.

 Icon Algore1

Change is coming to the New York Times when science writer Bradley Fikes goes from being a Global Warming Believer to Skeptic

A few years ago, I accepted global warming theory with few doubts. I wrote several columns for this paper condemning what I thought were unfair attacks by skeptics and defending the climate scientists.

Boy, was I naive.

Since the Climategate emails and documents revealed active collusion to thwart skeptics and even outright fraud, I’ve been trying to correct the record of my earlier foolishness.
My mistake was assuming only the purest of motives of the global warming alarmists, while assuming the worst of the skeptics. In fact, the soi-disant moralists of the global warming movement can also exploit their agenda for profit.

Climategate jolted me into confronting the massive fraud and deception by top global warming scientists, who were in a position to twist the peer-review process in their favor, and did so shamelessly.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:47 AM | Permalink

What your waiter will never tell you

20 Secrets Your Waiter Will Never Tell You

In most restaurants, after 8 p.m. or so, all the coffee is decaf because no one wants to clean two different coffeepots. I’ll bring out a tray with 12 coffees on it and give some to the customers who ordered regular, others to the ones who ordered decaf. But they're all decaf.
Even at the best breakfast buffet in the world, 99 times out of 100, the big pan of scrambled eggs is made from a powder.
Avoid Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day like the black plague. It’s crazy busy, so they’re not going to be able to pay as much attention to quality. Plus, they bring out a special menu where everything is overpriced.
Don’t order fish on Sunday or Monday. The fish deliveries are usually twice a week, so Tuesday through Friday are great days. Or ask the restaurant when they get theirs.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:11 AM | Permalink

Amazon's Elves

For many, Christmas is a very busy time at work.  Just check out The Secret Lives of Amazon's Elves.

 Amazon's Elves

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:58 AM | Permalink

December 27, 2009

Gifts from the Lord

Michael Novak on The First Enlightenment 

Those of us who are of Catholic mind do not believe that the Enlightenment began with Kant (“What is Enlightenment?”), or Locke or Newton, or even with Descartes. We cherish Plato, Aristotle, Cicero. But the first Enlightenment began with Christ Our Lord.

It was only with the Christ that EQUALITY meant every human being, barring none. From then on, no one was “barbarian.” Each bore in his own soul the mark of being called to be a dwelling of the Father and the Son — being called beyond all other calls a son of God. Neither mother nor father, neither civil society nor state, can answer to this call for you or me. None has any deeper bond or precedence than the relation of Creator and human creature. It is a bond of Spirit and Truth.

Thus was revealed each human's LIBERTY primordial, and in that liberty, EQUALITY with all. No other but self can say to the the Father “No,” or “Yes.” That choice is for each single one of us inalienable. That choice brings each into the universal brotherhood and sisterhood of all who are equal in the sight of God.

And that is how universal FRATERNITY became a human principle and an object of our striving.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:30 AM | Permalink

December 24, 2009

In the Bleak Midwinter in Royal David's City

Two gorgeous carols, the first from a poem by Christina Rosetti, published posthumously in 1904 and set to music 2 years later by Gustav Holst.

The second Once in Royal David's City by another female poet , Cecil Frances Alexander, who became a bishop's wife.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:37 PM | Permalink

St. Nicholas

If your children or grandchildren no longer believe in Santa Claus, tell them about St. Nicholas whose real life goodness and generosity has made him beloved down the centuries. 

No place better to learn about St. Nick than the St. Nicolas Center. 

Other stories tell of Nicholas saving his people from famine, sparing the lives of those innocently accused, and much more. He did many kind and generous deeds in secret, expecting nothing in return. Within a century of his death he was celebrated as a saint. Today he is venerated in the East as wonder, or miracle worker and in the West as patron of a great variety of persons-children, mariners, bankers, pawn-brokers, scholars, orphans, laborers, travelers, merchants, judges, paupers, marriageable maidens, students, children, sailors, victims of judicial mistakes, captives, perfumers, even thieves and murderers! He is known as the friend and protector of all in trouble or need

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:32 PM | Permalink

Pantheism and Christianity

The Christian claim that God became one of us at a certain time, in a certain place is the most spectacular claim ever made.  For Christians, it's the beginning of the new creation in a stable in Bethlehem.

Peter Kreeft plumbs the Deeper Meaning of Christmas

On the shepherds
“They were afraid.” We fear the unknown, the opening skies, the passages between worlds, like birth and death. Even when the angel says, “Fear not,” the event is no less momentous, The awe is now joyful, not fearsome; but it’s still “awe-full.” It is “good tidings of great joy.” Joy can be as awesome as fear. The Good News, the incredible event of the Incarnation, is the most joyful and the most awesome news we have ever heard.

Wise Men Still Seek Him
They make their pilgrimage from East to West. Oriental wisdom must turn West to find Christ, and the West — Rome — must go East. For Christ is born at the center. He is at the center of all things metaphysically, so it’s fitting that He be born at the physical center of the world as well, between East and West, North and South, between ancient and modern times. All time centers on Him; all dates are B.C. or A.D. Everything is relative to Him. He is the absolute.

On Joseph
Joseph provided for Mary and Jesus: travel to Bethlehem, shelter for the birth and later safety in Egypt from murderous Herod. But Joseph could not afford a horse, only a donkey. He could not get a room in the inn, only a cattle stall. He may have thought himself a failure as a provider, as many a man feels today if he cannot afford to give his family “the best.” But he has not failed; he can be “the best.” Look how Mary and Jesus turned out under Joseph’s providence.

And Mary
The angel said to Mary, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; hence the holy offspring to be born of you will be called Son of God” (Luke 1:35). But we are addressed by the same angelic news. Our soul, like Mary’s body, is to receive God Himself if only we, like her, believe, consent and receive; if only we speak her truly magic word fiat, “let it be.” It is the creative word, the word God used to create the universe.

Christmas rescues us from paganism and lifts us up from pantheism. 

Ross Douhat in Heaven and Nature writes on the inadequacies of pantheism which, he notes, represents a form of religion even atheists can support.

The question is whether Nature actually deserves a religious response. Traditional theism has to wrestle with the problem of evil: if God is good, why does he allow suffering and death? But Nature is suffering and death. Its harmonies require violence. Its “circle of life” is really a cycle of mortality. And the human societies that hew closest to the natural order aren’t the shining Edens of James Cameron’s fond imaginings. They’re places where existence tends to be nasty, brutish and short.

Religion exists, in part, precisely because humans aren’t at home amid these cruel rhythms. We stand half inside the natural world and half outside it. We’re beasts with self-consciousness, predators with ethics, mortal creatures who yearn for immortality.

This is an agonized position, and if there’s no escape upward — or no God to take on flesh and come among us, as the Christmas story has it — a deeply tragic one.

Pantheism offers a different sort of solution: a downward exit, an abandonment of our tragic self-consciousness, a re-merger with the natural world our ancestors half-escaped millennia ago.

But except as dust and ashes, Nature cannot take us back.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:50 PM | Permalink

An Arabic Christmas Carol

This Byzantine Hymn of the Nativity is one of the most beautiful Christmas carols I've ever heard.

But I listen to this wonderful video with sadness.  Christians in Iraq have canceled services and cautioned worshipers to keep their celebrations private.

ldean bishop of Basra, Imad al-Banna, is asking Christians "not to display their joy, not to publicly celebrate the feast of Nativity" to avoid offending Iraq's Shiite community, whose Ashura holiday falls two days after Christmas this year.

According to Louis Sako, chief archbishop of Kirkuk for the Chaldean Christians, a Catholic sect that originated in Iraq, none of the northern archdiocese's nine churches has scheduled a Christmas Mass this year.

"This is the first time we have had to cancel our celebrations," he said.

Since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, Iraq's Christian minority has faced constant persecution, including dozens of church bombings, executions, kidnappings and forced expulsions, devastating some communities and reducing the overall Christian population by at least 25 percent.

All I can do is pray for the poor beleaguered Christians in the country we 'liberated'

"We have taken our security procedures to protect the Christians in their celebrations in the city," said Lt. Col. Jima'ah Aldliamee, a police commander in Anbar province.

"They promised to protect us in the past, but so far they have not succeeded," said Georges Matti, an employee of the state-owned North Oil. "We are the victims of political conflicts between various Iraqi groups or at the hands of some religious extremists who believe that because we are Christians, we are lackeys of the West."

"Psychologically, we cannot have a celebration," said Qais Aboudi, a 56-year-old carpenter and member of a Baghdad Chaldean parish. "But we cannot deny we are Christians. It is our religion, and we are proud of it."

"I'm fed up. I've been speaking with the press for seven years. I have no comment," said Ahad, the Syrian Catholic pastor. "I've been asking the Iraqi government, asking the Americans, and no one has helped us.

"I used to celebrate Christmas with many people, with joy, with visits, with guests," said the pastor at the Virgin Mary church. "Now I am staying here alone. We are living like rats."

All I can hope for these people is the Christmas message: Peace on Earth, Good Will towards Men,

UPDATE: Phyllis Chesler asks whether Jesus Could Live Safely in Bethlehem Today.  However helpless the Jews were under the brutal Roman empire and not forgetting the Holy Family had to flee to Egypt to escape the murderous rage of Herod, Christians today under Muslim rule are not even allowed to worship in their own churches.

Even in America, in Ohio  a young Christian girl is persecuted by her family and completely isolated from other Christians, even from Christmas cards sent her by those who have followed her plight.  The Prosecution of Rifqa Barry

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:01 PM | Permalink

Health round-up: Hearing skin, the virus of loneliness and the future of fat

Loneliness spreads like a virus
A lonely person will be less trusting of others, essentially "making a mountain out of a molehill," said study researcher John Cacioppo, a psychologist at the University of Chicago. An odd look or phrasing by a friend that wouldn't even be noticed by a chipper person could be seen as an affront to the lonely, triggering a cycle of negative interactions that cause people to lose friends.

Vitamin D shows heart benefits

There is more and more evidence that vitamin D is a critical player in numerous other aspects of metabolism. A new study suggests many Americans aren’t getting anywhere nearly enough of the vitamin, and it may be affecting their heart health.
The findings, which are being presented today at an American Heart Association conference in Orlando, don’t prove that lack of vitamin D causes heart disease; they only suggest a link between the two. But cardiologists are starting to pay increasing attention because of what they’re learning about vitamin D’s roles in regulating blood pressure, inflammation and glucose control — all critical body processes in cardiovascular health.

Surprise! Your skin can hear
We not only hear with our ears, but also through our skin, according to a new study.

The finding, based on experiments in which participants listened to certain syllables while puffs of air hit their skin, suggests our brains take in and integrate information from various senses to build a picture of our surroundings.

Along with other recent work, the research flips the traditional view of how we perceive the world on its head.

"[That's] very different from the more traditional ideas, based on the fact that we have eyes so we think of ourselves as seeing visible information, and we have ears so we think of ourselves as hearing auditory information. That's a little bit misleading," study researcher Bryan Gick of the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, told LiveScience.

"A more likely explanation is that we have brains that perceive rather than we have eyes that see and ears that hear."
With such abilities, Gick views humans as "whole-body perceiving machines."

The research, funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Council of Canada and the National Institutes of Health, is detailed in the Nov. 26 issue of the journal Nature.

You'll be hearing a lot more about Brown Fat in the months and years to come especially if it becomes the weight-loss breakthrough of the next decade.  The Future of Fat

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:27 PM | Permalink

Do you hear what I hear

The tree is trimmed, the cards sent, the shopping done, the packages wrapped and wonderful smells waft from the kitchen.  The waiting is almost over.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:28 AM | Permalink

Christmas takeoff


Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:58 AM | Permalink

December 22, 2009

The revenge of the elephants

A Christian teacher who offered to pray for a sick pupil has been fired

A Christian teacher fears she may never work again after she was sacked for offering to pray for a sick pupil.

Olive Jones, 54, said she had been made to feel like a criminal, and claimed that Christians were being persecuted due to 'political correctness'.
Mrs Jones, who taught children not well enough to attend school, said that after she raised the topic of prayer during a visit to a 12-year-old's house, the girl's mother lodged a complaint.
Just hours later, said Mrs Jones, her boss told her she would no longer be working for Oak Hill Short Stay School and Tuition Service, in Nailsea, Somerset.
She said managers had ruled her comments could be perceived as 'bullyin

For once, as Melanie Phillips writes, the Archbishop of Canterbury is right.  Treating Christians as cranks is an act of cultural suicide.

In recent times, there has been a string of cases in which it is no exaggeration to say that British Christians have been persecuted for expressing their faith.

In July, Duke Amachree, a Christian who for 18 years had been a Homelessness Prevention Officer for Wandsworth Council, encouraged a client with an incurable medical condition to believe in God. As a result, Mr Amachree was marched off the premises, suspended and then dismissed from his job. It was a similar case to the Christian nurse who was suspended after offering to pray for a patient's recovery.

Christians are being removed from adoption panels if they refuse to endorse placing children for adoption with samesex couples.

Similarly, a Christian counsellor was sacked by the national counselling service Relate because he refused to give sex therapy sessions to gays.

What this amounts to is that for Christians, the freedom to live according to their religious beliefs - one of the most fundamental precepts of a liberal society - is fast becoming impossible. Indeed, merely professing traditional Christian beliefs can cause such offence that it is treated as a crime.

The Jews are caught too in this disrespect and hostility towards religion when the U.K.Supreme Court took it upon itself  to decide that it, not the Jews, can decide who is a Jew.  Our human rights culture has now become a tyranny   

The court is effectively saying that a religion's way of defining its own membership, practised over 3,500 years, is illegal. This is an acute problem for Jews, who are at great pains to maintain their own rules while respecting the law of the land. It will also be used by anti-Jewish groups, which are growing in strength, to bolster their argument that Judaism is racist and that the state of Israel is the equivalent of apartheid South Africa. So the Race Relations Act, set up to help minorities, ends up punishing them.
The human rights culture which now dominates our law believes in its own morality. It sets itself above the varied experience of civilisation, and above the idea of independent nations. It decides that rights can be codified for everyone and can be applied everywhere. It is not a coincidence that our highest court has just changed its name from the House of Lords to the Supreme Court: it considers itself supreme indeed. This "human-rights" morality is much more coercive than it purports to be.

What we are seeing is the rise of authoritarian democracies.  The consequences of the decline of religious freedom are incalculable and unknown.    Why in India, persecution of Christians some say has resulted in  the revenge of the elephants

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:29 AM | Permalink


Ralph Bailey on the Kwanzaa creator, a secular kook, convict

There are three aspects of Kwanzaa that most folks don't know. First, most blacks DON'T celebrate the invented holiday. Secondly, very few non-Americans even know of its existence and finally, its inventor is a kook and a violent convict.

Karenga went to prison in 1971 for kidnapping a pair of black Organization Us women, stripping them naked, whipping them and, according to their testimony, beating them and sticking a soldering iron in their mouths along with detergent and a water hose.

But this isn't why black America historically all but ignores Kwanzaa. Black folks, as our support for Proposition 8 clearly demonstrated, maintain a religious heritage that dates back to our inauspicious arrival to this country.

Culturally, we are incapable of turning our back on Jesus and celebrating a secular holiday cooked up by a convict! It would be a spit in the eye to all those who, with the support of Jesus, paved the way for black achievement today.

It would be tantamount to poo pooing the beliefs of Martin, Thurgood, Jackie, Harriet, Frederick and martyr Crispus Attucks.

How could we ignore the spirit that saw us through slavery, systematic oppression and a government-opposed revolution that played out on national television in the 1960s?

The church has historically been the focal point of black life. It's where we socialized, where we were educated, where we worshiped and was the birthplace for the civil rights movement.

The one thing all those great black thinkers agreed on was: God is good and AMERICA is our country!

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:02 AM | Permalink

December 21, 2009

Best camera hack

‘How can I prevent Camera Loss?’ I hear you ask, wishing I’d get to the point. Well, you can’t prevent cameras from getting lost, but you can do something so your camera can be found very soon after it has vanished.

Andrew McDonald from down under tells us how.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:36 PM | Permalink

Snow crystals, letters from heaven

I spent a good deal of yesterday shoveling snow and I still can appreciate the extraordinary beauty of these fabulous snowflakes.  Kudos to David Defranza who put together the slideshow, The Unbelievable World of Snowflakes.

"Snow crystals," Ukichiro Nakaya wrote in 1939, "may be called letters sent from heaven." The Japanese physicist spent his life studying snowflakes, eventually becoming the first to create an artificial snow crystal in the laboratory.


British Novelist Jeanette Winterson commented: "They say that every snowflake is different. If that were true, how could the world go on? How could we ever get up off our knees? How could we ever recover from the wonder of it?"

Though written centuries earlier Francis Bacon has a response: "Begin doing what you want to do now. We are not living in eternity. We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand—and melting like a snowflake..."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:32 PM | Permalink

December 18, 2009

Cosmic firework

An accountant by day, Wally Pacholka is an award-winning photographer of the night skies. 

Last month in the Mojave Desert, he was taking photos of the annual Geminid meteor shower when he captured this huge meteor hurtling to earth.

 Meteor Mohave Pacholka

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:19 PM | Permalink


Northern Europeans are uniquely depigmented and it has something to do with solar UV, oceans and vitamin D and grains.

In my mind, the most interesting article I've read this week.  Why Are Europeans White?

 White Europeans 1
a satellite map of solar UV

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:12 PM | Permalink

December 17, 2009

Is your safety deposit box safe?

You will understand why it's a good idea to check on your safety deposit box once a year after you see this.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:33 PM | Permalink

British court says they will determine who is a Jew

Britain's Supreme Court says Jewish religious law is "racist" and that British courts have the right to determine who is a Jew.

David Goldman has more on this discouraging development .

Writing in his blog, the Telegraph’s Ed West quotes Neil Addison of the Thomas More Legal Centre, which specializes in religious freedom:

What the decision means is that the historic Jewish definition of ‘who is a Jew’ is now illegal and Orthodox Jewish organisations and schools can no longer apply their own definitions of membership. As a lawyer I can understand the technical legal argument but as a human being I regard it as a profoundly dangerous extension of state power. On the basis of this judgment an adult who Orthodox Jews do not accept as Jewish can apply to become an Orthodox Rabbi and the Orthodox synagogue cannot say no.

What next? Will the courts have the power to say ‘The Pope does not accept that you are a Catholic but we do and so you are entitled to become a Catholic Priest’? On the basis of this judgment that is a possibility because at its heart what the judgment of the Supreme Court does is to attack the right of organisations and religions to have their own personal identity. It is the most insidious form of totalitarianism.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:12 PM | Permalink

Worry and Stress Decline with Age

Gallup reports that worry and stress decline with age.  The most difficult time begins at 18 and doesn't
really start declining until 56

 Gallup, Stress Worry

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:58 PM | Permalink

December 11, 2009

Father Emil Kapaun a possible saint UPDATED

The older I get, the less I find evil interesting and the more I find goodness interesting.  In movies, television and books  we see so much debased sex, horror, cruelty and violence, I've become inured and bored with it all.

It's great goodness that mesmerizes me.  Like the rivetting story of Father Emil Kapaun, written by Roy Wenzel and appearing in six parts in the The Wichita Eagle.    Kapaun was a Roman Catholic priest and U.S. military chaplain who died in the Korean War.

Part 1.  In Korea, Kapaun saves dozens during Chinese attack
Part 2.  Through Death March, Father Kapaun perseveres and inspires
Part 3.  In icy POW camps, Kapaun shares faith, provisions
Part 4.  As hundreds die, Kapaun rallies the POWs.
Part 5.  Lead camp prisoners in quiet acts of defiance
Part 6.  Father Emil Kapaun forgives guards, welcomes death

Considered a saint by the soldiers he served, their stories about him began to circulate in the wider world when the Korean prisoner-of-war camps were liberated in 1953.  Reading the series online, you can hear the stories by some of the men who were imprisoned along with Father Kapaun

**Capt Emil Kapaun

Emil Kapaun is now being considered for  canonization as a Catholic saint.  A miracle must be proved before anyone can be declared a saint.  An investigator from the Vatican visited two families in the Wichita area who believe the survival of their children from nearly lethal medical crises should qualify as miracles

Afterward, the Vatican investigator said that in years of investigating miracles, he had never seen doctors who made such a compelling case for miracles occurring," Hotze said.

Part 7.  Father Emil Kapaun: POWs call him 'a hero and a saint.'
Part 8.  Former POWs say his miracle was providing them hope. 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:44 PM | Permalink

What you didn't know about testosterone

Well, this is a surprise.

"Testosterone's aggressive impact is a myth.  It makes you friendlier"

It is popularly known as the selfish hormone, which courses through male veins to promote egotistical and antisocial behaviour. Yet research has suggested that testosterone’s bad reputation is largely undeserved.

Far from always increasing aggression and greed, the male hormone can actually encourage decency and fair play, scientists have discovered.
The findings, from an Anglo-Swiss team, suggest that rather than encouraging selfishness and risk-taking as a matter of course, testosterone has subtler effects on human behaviour that depend very much on social circumstances.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:20 PM | Permalink

December 9, 2009

Is there anything that beer can't do?

Beer could be the new weapon against cancer

MEN now have another excuse to go down the pub thanks to new research suggesting that a compound in beer may prevent prostate cancer.

Tests showed that the ingredient, xanthohumol, blocked a biological pathway that allows prostate cancer to be fuelled by the male hormone testosterone.

The disease is commonly treated with drugs that act in a similar way.

Xanthohumol is a powerful antioxidant derived from hops. It belongs to a family of chemicals called flavonoids found in fruits and vegetables that are known to have anti-cancer properties.

Previous studies have already suggested that xanthohumol may block the female hormone oestrogen's ability to stimulate breast cancer. Scientists now believe it may have a similar effect in men.

In laboratory tests, the compound blocked the molecular "switch" that allows testosterone to trigger changes in prostate cells that may lead to cancer.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:34 PM | Permalink

Spiral blue light in Norway. This is not a special effect


A mysterious light display appearing over Norway last night has left thousands of residents in the north of the country baffled.
Within seconds a giant spiral had covered the entire sky. Then a green-blue beam of light shot out from its centre - lasting for ten to twelve minutes before disappearing completely.

The Norwegian Meteorological Institute was flooded with telephone calls after the light storm - which astronomers have said did not appear to have been connected to the aurora, or Northern Lights, so common in that area of the world.

The mystery deepened tonight as Russia denied it had been conducting missile tests in the area.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:02 PM | Permalink

When "a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity"

The totalitarian impulse of the proponents of climate change, Bret Stephens on The Totalities of Copenhagen

In brief: utopianism, anti-humanism, indifference of evidence, monocausalism and grandiosity.

Bill Whittle reminds us of what President Eisenhower said in his famous "Beware the Military-Industrial Complex" and how prescient it was

“…the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.

The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present and is gravely to be regarded.

Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite
danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.


Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:06 PM | Permalink

How the decline was hidden and made into an increase

To see how climate data was falsified, let's look at Australia and what Willis Eschenbach found and called The Smoking Gun at Darwin Zero.

Ed Morrissey lays it out NOAA/GHCN “homogenization” falsified climate declines into increases
Like alchemists of old, it transformed decades-long declines in temperature into rapid upward spikes completely unsupported by any of the underlying data. 

 Graph Cru-Darwin7
the blue is the raw data, the black is the amount of the adjustment, the red is the adjusted data, what was
presented as the truth

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:30 AM | Permalink

Dutch turning against euthanasia

Euthanasia is not working that well in Holland. 

The Dutch turn against legalized mercy killing.

Legalised euthanasia has led to a severe decline in the quality of care for terminally-ill patients in Holland, it has been claimed.

Many ask to die 'out of fear' because of an absence of effective pain relief, according to a new book.

Even the architect of the controversial law has admitted she may have made a mistake in pushing it through because of its impact on services for the elderly.

Holland was the first country in the world to legalise euthanasia, in 2002.
Dr The, who has studied euthanasia for 15 years, said that palliative care was so inadequate in Holland that patients 'often ask for euthanasia out of fear' of dying in agony because care and pain relief is so poor.

This is barbaric.  There is no reason not to provide adequate palliative care to every dying patient.  Medicine has made great strides in palliative medicine and we can only hope for more.  After all,  Dying is the last great act of life and best to be pain-free and clear-minded.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:06 AM | Permalink

December 8, 2009

The Heavens from the Hubble

 Advent Hubble 1
Planetary nebula NGC 2818

In a repeat of the tradition begun last year, The Boston Globe's Big Picture offers up the Hubble Space Telescope Advent calendar with a new photo each day.  The first is above.  Below is today's.

 Hubble Omegacentauri
The glittering light of some two million stars from the Omega Cenauri globular cluster, 17,000 light years away.  About 200 such globular clusters orbit the Milky Way.

How did we ever think that space was empty?  There is a fullness and abundance in this vast expanse we can only dimly grasp.  To look at these photos is to grasp the awe the psalmist felt, "The heavens declare the glory of God". - Psalm 19.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:48 PM | Permalink

Debt the most problematic issue in young families

One family policy expert says Student loan debt is a 'crushing burden' on families. 

“In cultures around the world and throughout recorded history, the common practice has been to use dowries (the property brought by young women into their marriages) and other marital gifts to provide newlyweds with working capital at the beginning of their marriage,” Carlson wrote in a 2005 paper. “This cultural strategy has aimed at encouraging marriage, stable homes, and the birth of children.”

the recent practice of burdening young adults with substantial educational debt appears to significantly discourage marriage and childbirth.

At the FRC on Friday, Carlson cited a 2002 survey indicating that 14 percent of indebted students delayed marriage because of their loans, while 21 percent delayed having children. In 1988 these numbers were nine and 12 percent, respectively.
This debt can also cause problems in marriages. One survey which examined 41 marital problems and found that “debt brought into marriage” was the third most problematic issue facing newlyweds. Among respondents who had no children, debt was the second most problematic problem. Among respondents ages 29 and below, debt was named the most problematic issue.

Carlson suggested student loan debt has encouraged a “retreat” from marriage.

One grad student determined to avoid debt lived in his van and Pinched.

In my van there were no orgies or coke lines, no overweight motivational speakers. To me, the van was what Kon-Tiki was to Heyerdahl, what the GMC van was to the A-Team, what Walden was to Thoreau. It was an adventure.

Living in a van was my grand social experiment. I wanted to see if I could -- in an age of rampant consumerism and fiscal irresponsibility -- afford the unaffordable: an education.
My "radical living" experiment convinced me that the things plunging students further into debt -- the iPhones, designer clothes, and even "needs" like heat and air conditioning, for instance -- were by no means "necessary." And I found it easier to "do without" than I ever thought it would be. Easier by far than the jobs I'd been forced to take in order to pay off my loans.

Most undergrads imagine they'll effortlessly pay off their loans when they start getting paid the big bucks; they're living in a state of denial, disregarding the implications of a tough job market and how many extra years of work their spending sprees have sentenced them to. But
"facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored," as Aldous Huxley famously said.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:15 AM | Permalink

Do Protestants get out of bed earlier?

Damian Thompson in the Telegraph poses this question Has the theory of the Protestant work ethic just collapsed?

Has a young Harvard graduate student in economics dealt a deadly blow to Max Weber’s theory that Protestantism favours economic development? Davide Cantoni has just produced a brilliantly argued paper which takes economic data from Catholic and Protestant cities in Germany from 1300 to 1900, subjects them to meticulous multivariate analysis, and finds no evidence that Protestantism per se made people richer.

Cantoni, whose CV reveals that he is a 28-year-old doctoral student with joint German and Italian citizenship, knows that he is walking into a minefield. Weber’s reputation as perhaps the greatest of all sociologists does not rest solely on his famous thesis; but it has iconic status and both drew on and developed the widely held belief that, to put it crudely, Protestants get out of bed earlier in the morning than Catholics.

Well maybe Protestants work harder I thought when I was a college student and first studying Max Weber, but Catholics have more fun. 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:46 AM | Permalink

December 6, 2009

Thanksgiving in Zimbabwe

Shumuley Boteach travels to Zimbabwe with Dennis Prager and about seven Christian volunteers. 

No Holds Barred
Indeed, of the hundreds who came to our feast, only a few were young mothers and fathers; the vast majority had already been lost to AIDS. We saw scores of young children strapped to their grandmothers' backs in the African way. An entire generation has been wiped out by this killer disease, which is still met by denial in Africa. Most of the people we spoke to who lost relatives to AIDS told us that "they got sicker and thinner." They knew exactly what caused the ailment but would never pronounce it. Strict moral codes govern life in southern Africa, so a sexually-transmitted disease is rarely acknowledged.

BUT AMID these serious challenges, the people exhibit unbelievable warmth. Are they happier than we in the West? I can't say. I have never believed in the supposedly ennobling effect of poverty, and I will not glamorize a life with so little. But what is undeniable is that they seemed far more satisfied, grateful and content than us. We in the West who are fortunate to be able to translate so much of our potential into something professionally and personally fulfilling are more often than not plagued by insatiable material hunger, rarely finding the inner peace which they seemed to possess.
Most memorable were the children, who were wondrous in every way. Gorgeous, extremely polite and exceptionally well-behaved. They exhibited none of wildness that is becoming common among Western kids. Hundreds of them sat in perfect rows on the floor, grateful to have a hot meal. They too sang and danced for us, and we danced with them.

The most moving part of the day was when we distributed the corn seed. The chief called out the names and as the families came forward, they were glowing. Many of them kissed the bags as they collected them. A few bags broke open and their recipients searched for, and found, every last seed as if it were a diamond.

It should be mandatory to take Western kids to Africa for at least one humanitarian mission. It would help wean them from the corrosive materialism that is suffocating us all, and it would lead them to appreciate their blessings and share more with others.

One woman volunteer particularly impressed him.

...she is not a household name and she will never be as famous as Britney Spears. But to me she was a small reminder that the suffocating selfishness of Western material culture can indeed be transcended.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:12 AM | Permalink

Pregnancy stem cells

Life-saving pregnancy stem cells

Italians suggest tailor-made treatments for babies possible

A pregnant woman carries stem cells that could be used in critical medical treatments for her baby, either in the womb or later in life, a team of Italian scientists has announced. These cells, found in the womb during pregnancy, can be removed during a simple antenatal test and stored for future use, concluded the study, which appears in next week's edition of the Cloning and Stem Cells journal.
''We took these cells from women whose fetuses were affected with spinal muscular atrophy and we were able to correct the genetic defect using genetic therapy,'' said Novelli. Although the technique is not yet sophisticated enough to cure the disease, the team says the day could come when corrected cells could be injected back into the fetus to treat genetic disorders before birth.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:06 AM | Permalink

December 3, 2009

Web site story

I loved this digital web site story.

See more funny videos and funny pictures at CollegeHumor.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:46 PM | Permalink

Web site story

I loved this digital web site story

See more funny videos and funny pictures at CollegeHumor.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:45 PM | Permalink


Changing the nature of the self  or This is your brain on capitalism

The neuroscientists have -- as C.P. Snow said about scientists in general in a famous lecture 50 years ago -- "the future in their bones." They have taught the world to regard joy as dopamine activity in the brain's reward centres and melancholy as serotonin deficiency.

The implications are large enough to reshape society and create a new economy, "Neurocapitalism." That's the title of a provocative article by Ewa Hess, a Zurich journalist, and Hennric Jokeit, a Zurich University neuropsychologist, in Merkur, a Berlin cultural review (kindly translated for those who don't read German by the excellent online Eurozine).

Psychotropic drugs are moving beyond curing the demonstrably sick. Increasingly, they are used by mainly healthy people to alter "character virtues," such as self-confidence and trust. Hess and Jokeit report that current medical journals go much farther, describing neuroscientific research into "love, hate, envy, Schadenfreude, mourning, altruism and lying." The expectation (and the reason for research funding) is that whatever neuroscientists identify can be modified by pharmaceuticals.
Researchers are manipulating the nature of the human animal and challenging the very "self " at the core of human life. Almost everyone who touches this field understands that it raises delicate moral issues. Unfortunately, almost no one knows how to draw a line separating legitimate medical needs from purely frivolous desires

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:41 PM | Permalink

"I don't think most scientists appreciate what has hit them"

With Climategate, Sciencs is on the hook or as Daniel Henniger writes Science is Dying
I don't think most scientists appreciate what has hit them. This isn't only about the credibility of global warming. For years, global warming and its advocates have been the public face of hard science. Most people could not name three other subjects they would associate with the work of serious scientists. This was it. The public was told repeatedly that something called "the scientific community" had affirmed the science beneath this inquiry.
Global warming enlisted the collective reputation of science.
Because "science" said so, all the world was about to undertake a vast reordering of human behavior at almost unimaginable financial cost. Not every day does the work of scientists lead to galactic events simply called Kyoto or Copenhagen. At least not since the Manhattan Project.

What is happening at East Anglia is an epochal event.
Everyone working in science, no matter their politics, has an stake in cleaning up the mess revealed by the East Anglia emails.
Science is on the credibility bubble. If it pops, centuries of what we understand to be the role of science go with it.

Christopher Booker writes
Just imagine if we learned we were about to be landed with the biggest bill in the history of the world - simply on the say-so of a group of scientists. Would we not want to be absolutely sure that those scientists were 100 per cent dependable in what they were saying?

Should we not then be extremely worried - and even very angry - if it emerged that those scientists had been conspiring among themselves to fiddle the evidence for what they were telling us?


Al Gore canceled his Copenhagen lecture disappointing 3000 Danes who bought tickets


No one has put this better than Professor Lindzen, one of the world's leading climatologists, when he wrote: 'Future generations will wonder in bemused amazement that the early 21st-century's developed world went into hysterical panic over a globally average temperature increase of a few tenths of a degree, and on the basis of gross exaggerations of highly uncertain computer projections contemplated a roll-back of the industrial age.'

Media Research Center reports 12 Days, 3 Networks and No Mention of Climategate Scandal

Climategate  or CRUdGate, Why this can't be swept under the carper

Lastly and as a slight aside, why so little from the MSM? That one is easy. You need to have a decent analytical brain just to deal with the chain of events. You need to have a decent analytical brain, a mathematical/scientific mind and a good grasp of some very hard statistics to understand what is being done to massage the numbers and to see how significant it is to the chain of events.

Slice your average environment correspondent through the middle and you're going to find a left-leaning liberal arts graduate who is utterly out of his/her depth. Their world view is being swept from underneath them and they are being shown—in ways that they do not really and have never had to understand—that the guys they thought were the goodies are in fact "at it" and that those they have spent a decade disparaging as deniers were in fact spot on.

I would find that hard to report too.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:37 PM | Permalink

December 2, 2009

"We love the smell of truth in the morning"

The Dominoes Fall

The architect of climate fraud steps down, the creator of the infamous "hockey stick" is investigated, and Australia's parliament defeats cap-and-trade. We love the smell of truth in the morning.
The tragedy is that this manipulation of the truth has formed the basis of cap-and-trade bills such as Waxman-Markey and Kerry-Boxer. It's found its way to the reports of the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the driving force behind the failed Kyoto Pact and the upcoming attempt at Copenhagen to redistribute the world's wealth as an offering to Gaia.
Which is why Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., ranking member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, is calling on Chairman Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., to conduct hearings into why America's economic future should be sacrificed on Gaia's altar.

Inhofe says the CRU e-mails revealed a "possible deceitful manipulation of important data and research used by the U.S. Global Change Research Program and the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change."

He suggests "a possible conspiracy by scientists, some of whom receive or have received U.S. taxpayer funds, to stifle open, transparent debate on the most pressing issues of climate science."

What has been passed off as climate science has taken on all the trappings of a cult. We need to hear the scientists whose work has been suppressed. We need to have the U.S. Senate follow the Australian Senate's lead, but only after thorough hearings on what the East Anglia CRU charlatans faked.


Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:45 PM | Permalink

More on the Scientific Scandal of the Century

Gerald Vanderleun mincing no words says the First Lie is the Deepest.
Looking back it is easy to see that the emails, far from being just trivial statements exchanged between pals, partners in deceit, and collegial others, were indeed the window into the entire mind-set that drove and sustained what is looking to be the largest and most far-reaching hoax in the history of science; a hoax perpetuated across decades by dozens if not hundreds of "scientists" for the sake of "saving the planet" and money, and fame, and status, and power. Indeed, this hoax makes Bernard Madoff look like a street-corner three-card-monte hustler. Looking through the window provided by the emails you can discern, with no effort of imagination whatsoever, the much greater real-world environment in which the hoax was born, grew, took on a life of its own, and was fed and sustained until it swept the whole world into its maw.

So what will the EPA do now having proposed to regulate carbon dioxide primarily based on the IPCC reports?
the UN hypothesis that increases in GHGs/CO2 will result in significant increases in global temperatures has not been confirmed by comparisons with real world data.  Unless it is, attempts to decrease GHG/CO2 emissions in order to significantly change global temperatures are very likely to fail. This is the primary question that the EPA and climate scientists need to address before any control efforts are undertaken.

Jon Stewart is on the ClimateGate case.  "Poor Al Gore: Global Warming completely debunked by the Internet you invented."   Plus "Why would you throw out raw data from the eighties - I still have Penthouse magazines from the seventies"

Bret Stephens in the Wall Street Journal says Follow the Money
Climategate, as readers of these pages know, concerns some of the world's leading climate scientists working in tandem to block freedom of information requests, blackball dissenting scientists, manipulate the peer-review process, and obscure, destroy or massage inconvenient temperature data—facts that were laid bare by last week's disclosure of thousands of emails from the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit, or CRU.
Why did the money pour in so quickly? Because the climate alarm kept ringing so loudly: The louder the alarm, the greater the sums. And who better to ring it than people like Mr. Jones, one of its likeliest beneficiaries?

Denmark rife with CO2 fraud
Denmark is the centre of a comprehensive tax scam involving CO2 quotas, in which the cheats exploit a so-called ‘VAT carrousel’, reports Ekstra Bladet newspaper.

Police and authorities in several European countries are investigating scams worth billions of kroner, which all originate in the Danish quota register. The CO2 quotas are traded in other EU countries.

James Delingpole reminds me that it was Ken Lay of Enron fame who invented carbon trading, a "license to fleece, cheat and rob."
Still, jolly embarrassing for the Danes to get caught red handed, what with their hosting a conference shortly in which the world’s leaders will try, straight-faced, to persuade us that carbon emissions trading is the only viable way of defeating ManBearPig.

Apart from the fact that fears of climate change are completely unfounded, there's other good news. 

Climate change scientist Phil Jones steps down while he is investigated over allegations of professional inquiry
Head of the CGU, Professor Jones is the one who suggested a  'trick' to massage years of temperature data to 'hide the decline'.

Michael Mann the high profile professor who featured prominently in the Climategate emails is being investigated by his own university, Penn State.  Here are some of his more damning emails.

In Australia, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd wanted an Emissions Trading Scheme to bring to Copenhagen, a scheme that Andrew Bolt described as "Rudd's great tax on everything."  The leader of the opposition party, Malcolm Turnbull who was in favor of massive carbon taxes faced a revolt in his own party and was replaced by Tony Abbott who said last month the AGW is 'crap'    Now Australia's Senate rejected the Emissions Trading Scheme twice.  Climategate: it's all unravelling now

Not in the U.S. apparently.  Obama science officials defend warming research. The president's science advisor said the emails did nothing to undermine scientific consensus on climate change.    John Holdren, the science advisor to the president, may be implicated himself in the Climategate scandal.

For a good summary of the scientific corruption read Lord Monckton's summary of Climategate and its issues

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:55 PM | Permalink

December 1, 2009

Stunning natural display

-Starlings Whale

This awesome airborne Moby Dick is not fictional but a work of nature - comprised of countless starlings moving in formation in the winter breeze.

Safety in numbers: The starlings having a whale of a time

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:48 PM | Permalink

"The most complicated photograph I have ever taken"


"I should say it is the most complicated photograph I have ever made. It shows position of the Sun on the sky in the same time of a day during one year..."

Analemma is the name given to the trace of the annual movement of the Sun on the sky.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:39 AM | Permalink

"'Peer Review' Climate Style"

Peer review among the global warmists. 

Mark Steyn on CRU's Tree-Ring Circus

The trouble with outsourcing your marbles to the peer-reviewed set is that, if you take away one single thing from the leaked documents, it’s that the global warm-mongers have wholly corrupted the “peer-review” process. When it comes to promoting the impending ecopalypse, the Climate Research Unit is the nerve-center of the operation. The “science” of the CRU dominates the “science” behind the UN’s IPCC, which dominates the “science” behind the Congressional cap-and-trade boondoggle, the upcoming Copenhagen shakindownen of the developed world, and the now routine phenomenon of leaders of advanced, prosperous societies talking like gibbering madmen escaped from the padded cell, whether it’s President Obama promising to end the rise of the oceans or the Prince of Wales saying we only have 96 months left to save the planet.

But don’t worry, it’s all “peer-reviewed.”

Here’s what Phil Jones of the CRU and his colleague Michael Mann of Penn State mean by “peer review.” When Climate Research published a paper dissenting from the Jones-Mann “consensus,” J
ones demanded that the journal “rid itself of this troublesome editor,” and Mann advised that “we have to stop considering Climate Research as a legitimate peer-reviewed journal. Perhaps we should encourage our colleagues in the climate research community to no longer submit to, or cite papers.”

So much for Climate Research. When Geophysical Research Letters also showed signs of wandering off the “consensus” reservation, Dr. Tom Wigley (“one of the world’s foremost experts on climate change”) suggested they get the goods on its editor, Jim Saiers, and go to his bosses at the American Geophysical Union to
“get him ousted.” When another pair of troublesome dissenters emerge, Dr. Jones assured Dr. Mann, “I can’t see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report. Kevin and I will keep them out somehow — even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!”

Which in essence is what they did. The more frantically they talked up “peer review” as the only legitimate basis for criticism, the more assiduously they turned the process into what James Lewis calls the Chicago machine politics of international science. The headline in the Wall Street Journal Europe is unimproveable: “How To Forge A Consensus.” Pressuring publishers, firing editors, blacklisting scientists: That’s “peer review,” climate-style.

No archiving.  No data sharing.  No objective evaluation of the speculative theory of global warming allowed.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:35 AM | Permalink