January 18, 2010

Killing California - Government jobs vs private jobs

I'm a bit late with this, but George Will's column, Liberalism is What is Killing California

And the state's income tax -- liberalism codified -- intensifies the effects of business cycles on the state's revenue stream: During booms, the stream surges and stimulates government spending; during contractions, revenues dwindle but the new government spending continues. Voegeli says that if California's spending had grown no faster than population growth and inflation from 1992 to 2006, it would have been $65 billion less in 2006, and per capita government outlays then would have equaled not those of Somalia or Mississippi but of Oregon, which is hardly "a hellish paradigm of Social Darwinism."

It took years for liberalism's mania for micromanaging life with entangling regulations to make California's once creative economy resemble Gulliver immobilized by the Lilliputians' many threads. The state, which between 1990 and 2007 lost 26 percent of its factory jobs and 35 percent of its high-tech manufacturing jobs, ranks behind only New York, another of liberalism's laboratories, in the number of outward-bound moving vans.

It took years for compassionate liberalism to make California's welfare menu contribute to the state becoming an importer of Mexico's poverty. It took years for servile liberalism to turn the state into what Voegeli calls a "unionocracy," run by and for unionized public employees, such as public safety employees who can retire at 50 and receive 90 percent of the final year's pay for life.

Over at Reason, Steve Greenberg examines How Public Servants Became Our Masters

There was a time when government work offered lower salaries than comparable jobs in the private sector but more security and somewhat better benefits. These days, government workers fare better than private-sector workers in almost every area—pay, benefits, time off, and job security. And not just in California. 

According to a 2007 analysis of data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics by the Asbury Park Press, “the average federal worker made $59,864 in 2005, compared with the average salary of $40,505 in the private sector.” Across comparable jobs, the federal government paid higher salaries than the private sector three times out of four, the paper found. As Heritage Foundation legal analyst James Sherk explained to the Press, “
The government doesn’t have to worry about going bankrupt, and there isn’t much competition.”
--

In California unfunded pension and health care liabilities for state workers top $100 billion, and
the annual pension contribution has shot up from $320 million to $7.3 billion in less than a decade. In New York state, local governments may have to triple their annual pension contributions during the next six years, from $2.6 billion to $8 billion, according to the state comptroller.

That money will come from taxpayers. The average private-sector worker, who enjoys a lower salary and far lower retirement benefits than New York or California government workers, will have to work longer, retire later, and pay more so that his public-employee neighbors can enjoy the lifestyle to which they have become accustomed. The taxpayers will also have to deal with worsening public services, since there will be less money to pay for things that might actually benefit the public.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:22 PM | Permalink

Eye test to spot Alzheimer's

Going to get your eyes examined will take on new meaning with the Eye test that spots Alzheimer's 20 years before symptoms.

A test that can detect Alzheimer's up to 20 years before any symptoms show is being developed by British scientists.
The simple and inexpensive eye test could be part of routine examinations by high street opticians in as little as three years, allowing those in middle age to be screened.

Dementia experts said it had the power to revolutionise the treatment of Alzheimer's by making it possible for drugs to be given in the earliest stages.

___

 Eye-Exam

The eye test would provide a quick, easy, cheap and highly-accurate diagnosis.

It exploits the fact that the light-sensitive cells in the retina at the back of the eye are a direct extension of the brain.
Using eye drops which highlight diseased cells, the UCL researchers showed for the first time in a living eye that the amount of damage to cells in the retina directly corresponds with brain cell death.

They have also pinpointed the pattern of retinal cell death characteristic of Alzheimer's. So far their diagnosis has been right every time.

With research showing that cells start to die ten to 20 years before the symptoms of Alzheimer's become evident, it could allow people to be screened in middle age for signs of the disease.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:17 PM | Permalink

January 15, 2010

Blazing ring of fire

 Solar Ringoffire
The sky over Hongdao, China, yesterday

Longest solar eclipse for 1000 years

Millions of people were plunged into darkness today as the longest solar eclipse for 1,000 years turned the Sun into a blazing ring of fire.  Such a spectacle will not be seen again until December 23rd, 3043.

Unlike eclipses which block out the Sun entirely this one was annular meaning the Moon blocked most of the Sun's middle, but not its edges, causing it to look like a circular band of light.

These eclipses, which are considered far less important to astronomers than total eclipses of the Sun, occur about 66 times a century and can only be viewed by people in the narrow band along its path. On this occasion the band was 190 miles wide and passed over half the globe

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:41 PM | Permalink

January 14, 2010

"Vampire penguins? Zombie guinea pigs? We're done for ... done for."

Adam Savlick has become an internet sensation in his sleep. 

We wouldn't know about it if his wife Karen hadn't started a blog just to collect all the funny things he says while asleep.

He's just too funny.  He made my day

"I haven't put on weight — your eyes are fat."

On Monday evening, a sleeping Mr Slavick told his wife: "Your mum's at the door again. Bury me. Bury me deep."

He later muttered: "Shhhhhhhhh. shhhhhhhhh. I'm telling you: your voice, my ears. A bad combination."

Mr Slavick followed it up on Tuesday night, saying: "Pork chops are most satisfying. Mmmmmmm. Dangle them from the ceiling."

"You can stop clapping now if you want. Really. You'll need your energy for cheering me later. Shhhhhhhh. shhhhhhhh."

"Legs time! Everybody get your legs!" before finishing with: "Oompa loompas don't sing in heaven. They tidy up the clouds."

From the blog of Sleep Talkin' Man

 Sleeptalkinman

"I'm making pillows. Burn them slowly, keeps them fluffy! Mmmmmm, pillows."

"Please just walk away. I don't want to have to stand here and say something so awesome that I'll have to remember it the rest of the day. Thank you!"

"Don't... Don't put the noodles and the dumplings together in the boat. They'll fight! The noodles are bullies. Poor dumplings."

"I can't control the kittens. Too many whiskers! Too many whiskers!"

"I'm all blue with gravy spots. And I'm proud of it."

"Don't leave the duck there. It's totally irresponsible. Put it on the swing, it'll have much more fun.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:12 AM | Permalink

January 13, 2010

Total Chaos in Haiti

With the 7.2 earthquake, Haiti, already the poorest country is the world is the scene of unimaginable devastation, like some degree of hell.

Bodies piled up on the streets, maybe thousands of bodies on the streets, as buildings and houses collapse among them the UN headquarters, the main hospital and the cathedral.

Haitian president Rene Preval described the scene in Port-au Prince as 'unimaginable.'

'Parliament has collapsed. The tax office has collapsed. Schools have collapsed. Hospitals have collapsed,' he said.
Among the fatalities were up to 100 UN staff, including Hedi Annabi, the Secretary General's special envoy, who were working inside its five-storey headquarters when it collapsed.

The Roman Catholic Arcbishop of Port-au-Prince Monsignor Joseph Serge Miot also died. His body was found in the ruins of the archdiocese office.

 Port-Au-Prince

With continuing aftershocks, the only safe place to sleep is the street.

The Anchoress has eyewitness reports from Haiti and a good list of charities that will take your money to help the survivors right away. 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:43 PM | Permalink

January 12, 2010

30 years of Global Cooling

I'd say this is good news because people are finally beginning to realize that we are not on the edge of irreversible catastrophe of runaway global warming.

The mini ice age starts here

The bitter winter afflicting much of the Northern Hemisphere is only the start of a global trend towards cooler weather that is likely to last for 20 or 30 years, say some of the world’s most eminent climate scientists.

Their predictions – based on an analysis of natural cycles in water temperatures in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans – challenge some of the global warming orthodoxy’s most deeply cherished beliefs, such as the claim that the North Pole will be free of ice in summer by 2013.

According to the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre in Colorado, Arctic summer sea ice has increased by 409,000 square miles, or 26 per cent, since 2007 – and even the most committed global warming activists do not dispute this.


Even a leading member of the USN's intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Professor Mojib Latif , is doing an about-face.

He and his colleagues predicted the new cooling trend in a paper published in 2008 and warned of it again at an IPCC conference in Geneva last September.

Last night he told The Mail on Sunday: ‘A significant share of the warming we saw from 1980 to 2000 and at earlier periods in the 20th Century was due to these cycles – perhaps as much as 50 per cent.

'They have now gone into reverse, so winters like this one will become much more likely. Summers will also probably be cooler, and all this may well last two decades or longer.

‘The extreme retreats that we have seen in glaciers and sea ice will come to a halt. For the time being, global warming has paused, and there may well be some cooling.’

It's far more likely that there will be 30 years of global COOLING.

And that's the bad news.  Global warming is pretty benign compared to global cooling.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:13 PM | Permalink

The Last Days

Why is it that we find it easier - and it's not an easy matter - to contemplate our deaths than to think we will ever become frail.

Overlooking the frail years

This kind of binary thinking — either I’m healthy and fine, or I’m outta here — and the reluctance to look at the frailty likely to occur in between seem to me quite common. Yet most elderly Americans – more than two-thirds of current 65-year-olds, according to a detailed 2005 projection by a team of health policy analysts — at some point will need assistance to cope with daily living, either paid help or unpaid, at home or in a facility.
--
You don’t have to be elderly to engage in binary thinking. “It’s the same phenomenon when you talk to smokers and very overweight people,” said Karl Pillemer, a Cornell University gerontologist. “They say, ‘I don’t care if I die young.’ But they’re not necessarily buying into early death. They’re buying into decades of very unpleasant chronic diseases.” By the same token, he noted, “lots of elderly people are not going to live happily and healthily into their 90s and then keel over.”
--
But this unwillingness to contemplate that possibility can have unhappy consequences, Dr. Gillick pointed out. It can lead fragile older people to undergo aggressive medical treatments they may later regret, for instance, especially when their physicians also engage in binary thinking, or at least binary explanations.

One thing is sure we'll be looking at a lot of New Gizmos, some of which debuted at the Consumer Electronics Show last week in Las Vegas.

“When you have a growing market segment, everybody wants a piece of the action,” said Majd Alwan, director of the Center for Aging Services Technologies, itself just six years old.

That is before we become targets of teminal sedation,
a treatment that is already widely used, even as it vexes families and a profession whose paramount rule is to do no harm.

These are morally troubling grey areas we will likely face with our families and our doctors.

Discussions between doctors and dying patients’ families can be spare, even cryptic. In half a dozen end-of-life consultations attended by a reporter over the last year, even the most forthright doctors and nurses did little more than hint at what the drugs could do. Afterward, some families said they were surprised their loved ones died so quickly, and wondered if the drugs had played a role.
--
The medical profession still treats its role as an art as much as a science, relying on philosophical principles like the rule of double effect. Under this rule, attributed to the 13th century Roman Catholic philosopher Thomas Aquinas, even if there is a foreseeable bad outcome, like death, it is acceptable if it is unintended and outweighed by an intentional good outcome — the relief of unyielding suffering before death. The principle has been applied to ethical dilemmas in realms from medicine to war, and it is one of the few universal standards on how end-of-life sedation should be carried out.

The reality is when Facing End-of-Life Talks, Doctors Choose to Wait.

When is the right time — if there is one — to bring up these painful issues with someone who is terminally ill?

Guidelines for doctors say the discussion should begin when a patient has a year or less to live. That way, patients and their families can plan whether they want to do everything possible to stay alive, or to avoid respirators, resuscitation, additional chemotherapy and the web of tubes, needles, pumps and other machines that often accompany death in the hospital.

But many doctors, especially older ones and specialists, say they would postpone those conversations, according to a study published online Monday in the journal Cancer.
--
Dr. Nancy L. Keating, the first author of the study and an associate professor of medicine and health care policy at Harvard, said not much was known about how, when or even if doctors were having these difficult talks with dying patients. But she said that her research team suspected that communication was falling short, because studies have shown that even though most people want to die at home, most wind up dying in the hospital.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:21 AM | Permalink

January 11, 2010

Permanent Temps

This is where we are going The rise of the permanent temporary workforce.

The forecast for the next five to 10 years: more of the same, with paltry pay gains, worsening working conditions, and little job security. Right on up to the C-suite, more jobs will be freelance and temporary, and even seemingly permanent positions will be at greater risk. "When I hear people talk about temp vs. permanent jobs, I laugh," says Barry Asin, chief analyst at the Los Altos (Calif.) labor-analysis firm Staffing Industry Analysts. "The idea that any job is permanent has been well proven not to be true." As Kelly Services, CEO Carl Camden puts it: "We're all temps now."

At home, Americans are Doing More and Buying Less.

Some are working longer hours, but a larger proportion, the poll shows, are spending additional time with family and friends, gardening, cooking, reading, watching television and engaging in other hobbies.
--
In many homes today, experiences have become a more valued element of life. Mr. Hoyt, at Moody’s Economy.com, said that the behavioral changes were likely to be less transformative than what followed the Depression but that after three decades when consumer spending outpaced gross domestic product, the end of a spendthrift era may be here.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:01 PM | Permalink

Brave New World vs. Nineteen Eighty Four

1984 is long gone, we live in the Brave New World.  Aldous Huxley wrote the far more prescient and prophetic Brave New World fifteen years before George Orwell wrote his.

If you ever had any confusion about the differences between the two, check out  Brave New World vs. Nineteen Eighty Four  through the talented work of Stuart McMillen.

  Orwell V Huxley

Remembering Brave New World which I read for the first time last year, I was reminded of this piece by Mark Steyn on Sexual Liberty

In terms of sexual identity, we’re freer than almost any society in human history, at least in terms of official validation of our choice to “redefine” ourselves in defiance of biological and physiological reality.
--

At some point we will come to see that the developed world’s massive expansion of personal sexual liberty has provided a useful cover for the shrivelling of almost every other kind. Free speech, property rights, economic liberty and the right to self-defence are under continuous assault by Big Government. But who cares when Big Government lets you shag anything that moves and every city in North America hosts a grand parade to celebrate your right to do so? It’s an oddly reductive notion of individual liberty. The noisier grow the novelties of our ever more banal individualism, the more the overall societal aesthetic seems drearily homogenized—like closing time in a karaoke bar with the last sad drunks bellowing off the prompter “I did it My Way!”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:49 PM | Permalink

The Tyranny of Positive Thinking

How often have you been told 'Don't be so negative' when you've only been realistic in pointing out the probable consequences of a particular course of action?

Positive Thinking is Making Us Miserable says Barbara Ehrenreich and is the true cause of the financial crisis.

She said the belief that everything will turn out all right in the end if we remain optimistic and upbeat is "delusional".
What began as a 19th-century "quack theory" has become the dominant mode of thinking in the United States, she argues, influencing everything from global business decisions to the treatment of cancer patients.
--

"Many, many people got way over their heads in debt – ordinary people. And in what frame of mind do you assume large amounts of debt? Well, a positive frame of mind. You think that you're not going to get sick, your car's not going to break down, you're not going to lose your job and you're going to be able to pay it off.

"Mostly, though, I blame the top levels of corporate culture which, by the middle of this decade, were completely in a bubble of mandatory optimism and positive thinking."

Ehrenreich referred to the "cult-like atmosphere of high-fives" at Countrywide, the mortgage lender which became one of the biggest casualties of the subprime crisis, and claimed that executives who sounded warnings of impending financial disaster at Lehman Brothers were dismissed as "negative" thinkers.

"Corporate America had gone into this bubble of denial where bad things could never happen," she said.
--
In the course of her research, Ehrenreich interviewed motivational speakers, a major industry in the US. "They are brought in to corporate meetings and the message is, again and again: you can have whatever you want so long as you focus your thoughts on it. I think that's nuts, frankly."

Nuts is right.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:27 AM | Permalink

January 6, 2010

The Headline Poet and Climate Fraudsters

Matt Drudge is the Poet Laureate of the Headline Stack observes Gerard Vanderleun

-Drudge-Cold

Climate fraudsters are on the run writes James Lewis

The good news for 2010 is that the climate fraudsters are on the run. The bad news is that they are hoping against hope that the sheriff’s posse won’t catch ‘em. Because the real reason for “global warming” is now clear beyond any  reasonable doubt. The reason is ten trillion dollars in taxpayer dough for politicians, transnational bureaucrats, and phony science types. Put away those old world records for the Great Train Robbery and Bernie Madoff. You can junk Bonnie and Clyde. The climate fraudsters have now set the biggest record for massive fraud in human history.
--
ten trillion dollars for climate fraud. That’s an official estimate from the “Stern Review ” authored by distinguished British fraudocrat Lord Nicholas Stern in 2006. The same number also comes from the skeptical side, from the Marshall Institute, which has done careful economic projections about the cost of “global warming” abatement.

I agree with Lewis that the most egregious fraudsters should be prosecuted, especially as a deterrent to others. 

As for taxing carbon emissions, why?  The University of Bristol which actually looked at the observable data instead of using cockamamie software to predict looming disaster while neglecting to account for the sun, the clouds and the oceans in global climate found there has been No rise in atmospheric carbon in 150 years .

Investors Business Daily calls it the CO2 Lie

A new study shows that Earth's ability to absorb carbon dioxide from all sources, including man, has remained unchanged for 160 years. As it turns out, there may be no carbon to offset.

A major tenet of the global warming religion, straight from the Book of Gore, has been that the ability of the earth to handle increasing CO2 emissions is finite and that once the "tipping point" is reached, the earth will warm uncontrollably. Well, another climate domino has fallen — the myth that man-made CO2 is leading to climate catastrophe.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:46 PM | Permalink

January 5, 2010

Who will save Western Civilization?

Like most of you, I have the feeling that somehow things have gone off the tracks while we are being hurtled through changes most of us don't like at all or can't comprehend.  It's a sense of unreality - that we have lost something important and we don't  know what it is or how to get it back.  These are dark days for Western Civilization though almost nobody seems to want to defend it anymore.

Just before the end of 2009, Pam Geller quoted Geert Wilders in Dooming Europe
The Europe as you know it from visiting, from your parents, or friends is on the verge of collapsing." Geert Wilders said this in a speech he made in the U.S. last year. He went on: "We are now witnessing profound changes that will forever alter Europe's destiny and might send the continent in what Ronald Reagan called 'a thousand years of darkness.'" This applies not just to Europe, but to America as well.

David Warren writes
Let us start as grimly as possible in the present: with my conviction that things do not look very promising for our civilization. For two generations (and according not only to me) we have been watching catastrophic moral betrayal and collapse; and worse, the spread of a lethal apathy toward it.

The building and rebuilding forces of our society -- essentially church and family -- are by now almost everywhere under organized legal, legislative, and propaganda assault from the sterile vanguard of the atheist Left. The poison mist of "political correctness" swirls over our psychic landscape, and the great joyous and unifying truths which animated Western Christendom continue to be supplanted, both practically and symbolically, by the envious Big Lies of the political "activists."

But we have not lost access to the means of recovery. The wisdom upon which our Christian civilization was built is available not only through books still in circulation, but through surviving monuments such as her cathedrals, her art and her music and her poetry and even the hard core of her sciences. Surviving customs, such as Christmas and Easter, rekindle constantly with their true meaning; surviving language continues to carry centuries of folk wisdom in an unconscious stream.

 Daguerre Bare-Ruined-Choirs

Deacon Dean Fournier goes further and says the Catholic Church is in the first stage of a new missionary age
The collapse of the West will not be remedied by any political party or philosophy. In the United States, gripped by the lies of a culture of death and use, we do not need a “conservative revolution” as some pundits maintain. We need a Christian revolution. It was the Christian Church which gave us the understanding of the dignity of every human person because we are created in the Image of God. From that came the understanding that we all possess fundamental human rights. Yes, the American founders carried such a notion into a bold experiment in ordered liberty but they did not come up with it on their own. They derived it from Western civilization and the influence of Christendom. That is the the influence of the Church. That is also why the seemingly inevitable collapse of the West can be averted, but only through the resurgence of the Church in the Third Millennium. It is the Church which is the vehicle for true progress. Christianity is the antidote to the descent into a new barbarism arising out of the neo-paganism currently masquerading as liberation.
--

Pope Benedict’s summons to Europe to return to her Christian roots in order to rebuild herself - and his commendation of some of the philosophical underpinnings of the American experiment ( as evident in his visit and his locutions while on our shores) - are oriented toward the same end. He is encouraging the building of a truly just civil and social order by proposing the Christian vision of the person, the family and the common good as the foundation. In short, we need a new Christian foundation for the West. The Catholic Church is in the first stage of a new missionary age. The Dictionary tells us that a prelude is “an introductory performance, action, or event preceding and preparing for the principal or a more important matter.” The Year that was and the Year that will be are a just that, a prelude, there is much more to come.


Father Julian Carron, a Spanish priest and professor of theology at the University of Milan in a commentary in the December Magnificat asked whether  salvation come through something so small as faith in Jesus.
It seems impossible that all our hope can rest on belonging to this frail sign?  The promise that only from this can everything be rebuilt seems scandalous.  Yet men like Saint Benedict and Saint Francis started from that.  They began to live while belonging to that branch that had grown through time and space – the Church – and in this way became protagonists of a people and of history.  Benedict did not face the end of the Roman Empire with anger, pointing his finger at the immorality of his contemporaries, but rather witnessed to the people of his time a fullness of life, a satisfaction – a fullness that became an attraction for many.  This became the dawn of a new world, small as it was (almost a nonentity compared with the whole, a whole that was in total collapse, but a real world.  That new beginning was so concrete that the work of Benedict and Francis has lasted through the centuries, has transformed Europe and humanized it.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:01 AM | Permalink

January 2, 2010

Things to Keep in Your Car

From the Art of Manliness, 13 Things a Man Should Keep in His Car

1. Fully charged cell phone.
2. Jumper cables.
3. Flashlight.
4. Roadside flares/reflective triangle.
5. MREs.
6. Warm blankets.
7. Ice scraper.
8. First aid kit. .
9. Water bottles.
10. Tow strap.
11. Folding shovel.
12. LifeHammer.
13. Portable air compressor.

I don't have 10-13, but I do have old paperback books just in case I'm stuck anywhere without anything to read.

Oh, and old running shoes just in case I'm wearing heels and for some reason have to take a hike. 

And moisturizer with sunscreen.

And extra sunglasses.

And a nail file.

And Kleenex.

And mints.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:01 PM | Permalink

Happy Apocalypse: Repent and recycle

Loved the graphic and the article by Denis Dutton

 End-Of-The-World-Card

It's Always the End of the World as We Know It.

Apocalyptic scenarios are a diversion from real problems — poverty, terrorism, broken financial systems — needing intelligent attention. Even something as down-to-earth as the swine-flu scare has seemed at moments to be less about testing our health care system and its emergency readiness than about the fate of a diseased civilization drowning in its own fluids. We wallow in the idea that one day everything might change in, as St. Paul put it, the “twinkling of an eye” — that a calamity might prove to be the longed-for transformation. But turning practical problems into cosmic cataclysms takes us further away from actual solutions.

This applies, in my view, to the towering seas, storms, droughts and mass extinctions of popular climate catastrophism. Such entertaining visions owe less to scientific climatology than to eschatology, and that familiar sense that modernity and its wasteful comforts are bringing us closer to a biblical day of judgment. As that headline put it for Y2K, predictions of the end of the world are often intertwined with condemnations of human “folly, greed and denial.” Repent and recycle!

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:47 PM | Permalink

Quantitative chronology and why time speeds up as you get older

Christopher Caldwell explains why Time really is speeding up and riffs on quantitative chronology.

Putting things into quantitative chronology rather than sentimental chronology can lead us to reassess a lot of historical prejudices. How new a country is the US? Benjamin Franklin’s birth in Boston (1706) is nearly as close to Dante’s and Chaucer’s 14th century as it is to the present. That makes the US seem positively ancient, not really a New World at all any more. On the other hand, to know that Ronald Reagan’s birth (in Tampico, Illinois, in 1911) is closer to Waterloo (1815) than it is to us makes the country sound as if it were just founded. How recent a problem is the automobile? Well, the first car that Karl Benz manufactured (1885) is as close to the reign of George II (1727-60) as it is to us. How modern an ideology is communism? Marx’s and Engels’s Communist Manifesto (1848) is closer to the English and Scottish Stuart monarchy (which ended with the Glorious Revolution in 1688) than to us.
--
It is particularly discomfiting to play this game with cultural products that are supposed to be, by definition, new, fresh and youthful, like rock music, for instance. The Sex Pistols’ Never Mind the Bollocks (1977) is closer to the second world war than it is to the present. The Beatles’ release of “Love Me Do” (1962) is closer to the first world war than to us. Bill Haley’s Rock Around the Clock (1954) is as close to the Spanish-American war (1898) as it is to us. There is nothing hipper than hip-hop, but the Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight” (1979), the first rap song, is closer to Al Jolson’s last hits than to the songs in the rap charts now.

Wow, it was the Love Me Do that really got me because I remember so distinctly when and where I was when I first heard it.  Closer to the first world war than to now.  Wow.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:40 PM | Permalink

Aging brains are set up for the next developmental stage

The New York Times advises us in How to train an aging brain

Recently, researchers have found even more positive news. The brain, as it traverses middle age, gets better at recognizing the central idea, the big picture. If kept in good shape, the brain can continue to build pathways that help its owner recognize patterns and, as a consequence, see significance and even solutions much faster than a young person can.

The trick is finding ways to keep brain connections in good condition and to grow more of them.

“The brain is plastic and continues to change, not in getting bigger but allowing for greater complexity and deeper understanding,” says Kathleen Taylor, a professor at St. Mary’s College of California, who has studied ways to teach adults effectively. “As adults we may not always learn quite as fast, but we are set up for this next developmental step.”

Alexej Von Assaulenko Aging Brain
                    the painter Alexej von Assaulenko

Jack Mezirow, a professor emeritus at Columbia Teachers College, has proposed that adults learn best if presented with what he calls a “disorienting dilemma,” or something that “helps you critically reflect on the assumptions you’ve acquired.”

Dr. Mezirow developed this concept 30 years ago after he studied women who had gone back to school. The women took this bold step only after having many conversations that helped them “challenge their own ingrained perceptions of that time when women could not do what men could do.”

Such new discovery, Dr. Mezirow says, is the “essential thing in adult learning.”

Could it be the good news is that aging boomers will be better off if they critically examine their ingrained perceptions of the world as being all about them?

YES.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:10 PM | Permalink

Fresh Air

I have many friends who don't read blogs at all and depend completely on the New York Times and the Boston Globe for their news.      They look at me blankly if I talk about any of the Nine Big Stories the Mainstream Media Missed in 2009.

They are Van Jones, ACORN tapes, Science Czar John Holdren, Climate-Gate, Politicizing the NEA, Charles Freeman, Tea Party Protests, Safe Schools Czar Kevin Jennings and the Democratic stimulus.

Thankfully,  this past decade brought us the Internet and all the new media.  The doors imprisoning access to and sharing of information and opinion have been blown upon. 

Amazing what fresh air can do.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:14 PM | Permalink

Useful kitchen tips

Some useful tips that I'm going to use with leftover wine and pasta water.

From 50 Amazingly Helpful Time-Tested Tips for the Kitchen

18. If you manage to have some leftover wine at the end of the evening, freeze it in ice cube trays for easy addition to soups and sauces in the future.

19. To clean crevices and corners in vases and pitchers, fill with water and drop in two Alka-Seltzer tablets. The bubbles will do the scrubbing.

20. After boiling pasta or potatoes, cool the water and use it to water your house plants. The water contains nutrients that your plants will love.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:43 PM | Permalink