September 30, 2010

The Master of Blue Jeans


This poor little boy was painted in his jean jacket with a piece of pie 400 years ago by an anonymous Northern Italian painter.  A whole trove of his painting is now on display at the Canesso Gallery in Paris.  Livius at the History Blog tells the story of The Renaissance jean jacket. 

HT Kottke

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:31 PM | Permalink

"Books produce knowledge by encasing it."

What Are Books Good For ? by William Germano at The Chronicle Review

So what are books good for? My best answer is that books produce knowledge by encasing it. Books take ideas and set them down, transforming them through the limitations of space into thinking usable by others. In 1959, C.P. Snow threw down the challenge of "two cultures," the scientific and the humanistic, pursuing their separate, unconnected lives within developed societies. In the new-media ecology of the 21st century, we may not have closed that gap, but the two cultures of the contemporary world are the culture of data and the culture of narrative. Narrative is rarely collective. It isn't infinitely expandable. Narrative has a shape and a temporality, and it ends, just as our lives do. Books tell stories. Scholarly books tell scholarly stories.
We are the case for books. Our bodies hold the capacity to generate thousands of ideas, perhaps even a couple of full-length monographs, and maybe a trade book or two. If we can get them right, books are luminous versions of our ideas, bound by narrative structure so that others can encounter those better, smarter versions of us on the page or screen. Books make the case for us, for the identity of the individual as an embodiment of thinking in the world. The heart of what even scholars do is the endless task of making that world visible again and again by telling stories, complicated, nuanced, subtle stories that reshape us daily so that new forms of knowledge can shine out.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:02 PM | Permalink

The War Next Door

Investors Business Daily asks Anyone Notice The War Next Door?

Mexico's war against drug and alien-smuggling cartels grows ever more similar to the horrors of Afghanistan and Iraq. Beheadings, stonings, car bombs and terrorist attacks speak to a lust for power every bit as implacable as that of the Afghanistan's Taliban or the insurgents of Iraq.

The cartels may seem to be just a police problem, but Mexico's own officials know better: President Felipe Calderon warns that everything about their actions says they mean to take over.

But even with such a nearby threat, there are no U.S. crisis task forces or special envoys. The Northern Command hasn't been bolstered. The unbuilt border fence is one excuse after another, hostage to domestic and electoral politics.
Does anyone care that a cartel has threatened to destroy a dam in Texas? Oregon officials report huge new cartel marijuana fields on a scale never seen earlier.

The Los Angeles Police Department even warns that five cartels have set up logistics operations in America's second-largest city.
On Monday, another small-town Mexican mayor, Gustavo Sanchez of Tancitaro, was shot dead by cartels for firing corrupt officials. It was the fifth murder of a mayor in five weeks.
In Juarez, across the river from El Paso, Texas, the death toll since 2006 tops 6,000, while deaths in the entire country have surpassed 29,000. The latest outrage was the murder of a 6-year-old girl. She was murdered as she slept in her bed Monday, shot point-blank in the face by a cartel gunman.

Over 230,000 residents of Juarez, population 1.3 million, have fled for their lives from cartels, a citizens group reported last week, with 54% of them gone to El Paso.

This sure gives an added dimension to the issue of border security.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:54 AM | Permalink


"The absence of technology" seems to confuse kids faced with simple mechanical tasks.

Are we raising a generation of nincompoops?

Second-graders who can't tie shoes or zip jackets. Four-year-olds in Pull-Ups diapers. Five-year-olds in strollers. Teens and preteens befuddled by can openers and ice-cube trays. College kids who've never done laundry, taken a bus alone or addressed an envelope.

Are we raising a generation of nincompoops? And do we have only ourselves to blame? Or are some of these things simply the result of kids growing up with push-button technology in an era when mechanical devices are gradually being replaced by electronics?
Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:47 AM | Permalink

"With it, we win. Without it, we lose."

Daniel Henninger in the WSJ

It looks to me as if there's only one policy they haven't tried: economic growth.

Economists dispute among themselves about a lot, but not about the proven wonders of strong economic growth. It creates jobs, increases individual wealth, reduces debt, and enhances national well-being. Strong, as opposed to the middling, economic growth the U.S. has now, is so vital that a great nation should want to do whatever it takes to get it.

With it, we win. Without it, we lose. Economist Paul Romer, in an essay on economic growth, bluntly explained why: "For a nation, the choices that determine whether income doubles with every generation, or instead with every other generation, dwarf all other economic policy concerns."
Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:06 AM | Permalink

September 28, 2010

Benedict's Visit to the UK

A round-up of reactions to Pope Benedict's visit to the U.K.

Benedict Wows Britain

Pope Benedict’s declarations over the past few days have been remarkable and, in modern Britain, virtually unprecedented,” writes English columnist Stephen Glover in today’s Daily Mail. “They were delivered in the calmest, meekest and least ranting way possible, and yet they carried a great authority that largely comes, I think, from the Pope’s evident goodness as well as from the dignity of his office. Even hard-hearted cynics and skeptics could not fail to listen.”

At Westminster Hall, the Daily Mail describes the Pope's battle to save Christmas: Don't let atheists crush your traditions.

Easter and Christmas should not be discouraged by fear of offending others
Christians in public roles should be allowed to act according to conscience
Lack of ethical foundation resulted in financial crisis, he tells politicians
Applause for Pope as he continues without incident despite terror threat

Telegraph View:

It was refreshing to hear Benedict XVI, in his Westminster Hall speech, defend Christians against the current wave of militant secularism.
Something unexpected is happening during the papal visit to this country: the British public is listening with curiosity and genuine respect to Pope Benedict XVI.
Militant secularists have taken our tradition of tolerance and whittled it down to something quite different: toleration for a narrow spectrum of liberal-approved beliefs.

I am the successor of St.Peter, Pope reminds congregation in Westminster Abbey  Damian Thompson writes

That’s what I love about Benedict: he shows the utmost courtesy but never, ever attempts to obscure reality with platitudes.

Prime Minister David Cameron

told Pope Benedict XVI in a powerful farewell speech that his visit had made Britain “sit up and think”.

He cited the Pope’s speech in Westminster Hall on Friday, saying that “faith is not a problem for legislators to solve but rather a vital part of our national conversation”.

He said the Pope’s lesson for Britons had been “to follow our conscience, to ask not what are my entitlements, but what are my responsibilities; to ask not what we can do for ourselves, but what we can do for others”.

The Pope has routed his enemies and brought joy to the faithful

The richness, volume and sheer variety of the teaching the Pope gave us, and its perfect suitability for each of its many very different audiences, ranging from his intellectually hugely impressive address to the leaders of civil society in Westminster Hall to his call to that enthusiastic audience of schoolchildren to aim at becoming saints, was astonishing. And perhaps the first thing that needs to be said is that this was above all a personal triumph for the Holy Father himself. What came over consistently was the huge warmth, the seemingly inexhaustible loving kindness of the Pope’s gentle but nevertheless powerful personality. After all the caricatures, the man emerged.

The key to the Pope's success in Great Britain writes Phil Lawler

Pope Benedict’s personal style is quiet and ingratiating. His evident humility, and the deference with which he treats others, make it impossible for the public to continue thinking of him as the media had portrayed him. The people of Great Britain did not see a stern, rigid ideologue. They saw a mild, self-deprecating man who treated them with respect—and, because he respected them, told them the truth.

As he said several times during his visit,
Pope Benedict saw Britain as a society longing for faith, thirsting for the truth. The reaction to his words proves that he was right. He offered his audiences the truths of the Catholic faith—without bombast, without polemics, but also without apology. And the crowds were fascinated.
Human nature abhors a vacuum, and now
into this vacuum of moral leadership strode Pope Benedict, proclaiming truths that might not be welcomed by a secularized audience, but must be recognized as consistent and compelling, worthy at least of some consideration—enough to make people “sit up and think.”

Roger Scruton calls the Pope, the Missionary to the Multiculturalists in post-Christian Britain

The most positive effect of the Pope’s visit, however, was one that even the BBC could not prevent — and that was the public display of Roman Catholic ritual at its most gorgeous and replete. For many television viewers the mass at Westminster Cathedral was their first experience of sacramental religion. The mystical identity between the ordinary worshipper and the crucified Christ is something that can be enacted, but never explained. It is enacted in the Mass, and as Cardinal Newman recognized, it is the felt reality of Christ’s presence that is the true gift of Christianity to its followers. For those who experience it the quibbles of the atheists and the protestors seem as trivial as BBC News. For many Englishmen, I suspect, the Pope’s Westminster mass was the first inkling of what Christianity really means.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:14 PM | Permalink

Old ways best in child-rearing

Old ways best in childrearing - think Neolithic.

Want to raise a compassionate, moral child? Get Neolithic say researchers at the University of Notre Dame

The child rearing practices in hunter-gatherer societies result in children with better mental health, greater empathy and conscience development, and higher intelligence in children, says psychology professor Darcia Narvaez, who specializes in the moral and character development of children.

It would make sense that the way humans grew up for 99% of our history might have an impact on human development.
The six characteristics that were common to our distant ancestors are:

* Lots of positive touch – as in no spanking – but nearly constant carrying, cuddling and holding;

* Prompt response to baby's fusses and cries. You can't "spoil" a baby. This means meeting a child's needs before they get upset and the brain is flooded with toxic chemicals. "Warm, responsive caregiving like this keeps the infant's brain calm in the years it is forming its personality and response to the world," Narvaez says.

* Breastfeeding, ideally 2 to 5 years. A child's immune system isn't fully formed until age 6 and breast milk provides its building blocks.

*Multiple adult caregivers – people beyond mom and dad who also love the child.

*Free play with multi-age playmates. Studies show that kids who don't play enough are more likely to have ADHD and other mental health issues.

* Natural childbirth, which provides mothers with the hormone boosts that give the energy to care for a newborn.

Americans don't raise their kids that way so much any more, Narvaez says in a release from Notre Dame.
Instead of being held, infants spend much more time in carriers, car seats and strollers than they did in the past. Only about 15 percent of mothers are breastfeeding at all by 12 months, extended families are broken up, and free play allowed by parents has decreased dramatically since 1970. Ill advised practices and beliefs have become commonplace, such as the use of infant formula, the isolation of infants in their own rooms, or the belief that responding too quickly to a fussing baby will 'spoil' it.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:21 PM | Permalink

"First she cried. Then she found out about the money and nearly fainted"

Jesse Little Doe Baird  won a "Genius grant" of $500,000 for her work in reviving the American Indian language Wampanoag.

The Boston Globe tells the story of this woman, imbued with the passion of restoring a language that had been spoken for 10,000 years

When the foundation notified Baird, 46, a Mashpee linguist and the program director of the Wôpanâak Language Reclamation Project, two weeks ago of the fellowship, the honor brought her to tears. As far as she knows, her 6-year-old daughter is the only child since the 19th century raised from birth to speak Wampanoag (or, in that language, Wôpanâak).
Baird, one of the principal authors of a developing 10,000-word Wampanoag-English dictionary, does not view her personal role in reviving the language as critical. Instead, she talks about the benefits of being able to speak the language of her ancestors. “The opportunity to hear what my fifth great-grandfather had to say, even though he’s gone, because he wrote it down, really is a powerful motivation,’’ she said.

She hopes to spend some of the money to hire an artist to illustrate some of the children’s books she has written in Wampanoag.

It began in 1993 when she had a series of dreams in which people spoke to her in a language she could not understand.

In 1996, determined to acquire some training in order to work on the dictionary, Baird left her job at the Community Action Committee of Hyannis to begin a one-year research fellowship at MIT. She did not have an undergraduate degree, but she did have a lifelong fascination with patterns, which, she said, are what linguistics is all about.
She applied to MIT’s graduate program in linguistics, using her fellowship research as part of her application, and was admitted. She studied there with the late scholar Kenneth Hale, collaborated with him on the dictionary, and received her master’s degree in 2000.
Born and raised in Mashpee, Baird views it as “every Wampanoag person’s birthright to have their language of heritage,’’ a language that she said has “been spoken here for at least 10,000 years.’’

According to Baird, her ancestors were “the first American Indian people to use an alphabetic writing system,’’ and the first Bible published on this continent — a key document in her research — was printed in 1663 in Wampanoag.

After English missionaries arrived on this continent, the Wampanoag people were quick to realize the power of the written word, Baird said, especially to resolve land disputes with the Europeans. “And so Wampanoag people started to record land transfers, wills, personal letters,’’ she said. The result is what she called “the largest collection of native written documents on the continent.’’
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:09 PM | Permalink

September 27, 2010

Strange doings around nuclear plants

Strange doings seem to happen around nuclear plants and missiles that result in their disabling.

Today at the National Press Club, one ex-US air force chief gives this astonishing account of an encounter with a UFO:

'We saw a bright glowing object like an eye': U.S. airman's startling testimony about UFO encounter near UK nuclear base.

At least a dozen former U.S. Air Force personnel, mainly officers who worked on secret projects connected to nuclear weapon sites, testified today at the National Press Club about strange encounters at those sites.  Watch Captain Robert Salas on this news clip testify how a UFO shut down the nuclear missiles on his base.

According to the pair, witness testimony from more than 120 former or retired military personnel points to an ongoing and alarming intervention by unidentified aerial objects at nuclear weapons sites, as recently as 2003. In some cases, several nuclear missiles simultaneously and inexplicably malfunctioned while a disc-shaped object silently hovered nearby. 

"I was on duty when an object came over and hovered directly over the site," Salas said, regarding the March 16, 1967, event at Malmstrom AFB in Montana. "The missiles shut down, 10 Minuteman missiles. And the same thing happened at another site a week later," he said.

At the same time, a powerful computer worm called Suxnet has attacked industrial facilities around the world including  nuclear sites in Iran

Symantec’s analysis of the code, O Murchu said, shows that nearly 60 percent of the computers infected with Stuxnet are in Iran. An additional 18 percent are in Indonesia. Less than 2 percent are in the U.S.

“This would not be easy for a normal group to put together,” said O Murchu. He said “it was either a well-funded private entity“ or it ”was a government agency or state sponsored project” created by people familiar with industrial control systems.

Roger L. Simon writes about the Cyber War ion Iran: the Siemens Connection

Yesterday, I wrote some preliminary words about this highly sophisticated attack by the so-called “Stuxnet” worm; today we learn the startling news the Iranians themselves have admitted that something serious has happened. Such admissions are certainly not common from the secretive state. From Asia Bizz:

The Iranian Ministry has stated that some 30000 industrial computers have been infected by Stuxnet. One of the main operations done by Stuxnet is that it extracts vital information from these systems and then sends it somewhere abroad. Iran has termed this virus as a spy virus, as it is deploying vital data to other countries. On the other hand it is said, a similar attack has been reported from Iran’s latest nuclear power plant facility, but these reports have not yet been confirmed.

Three-thousand industrial computers … what industries and how extensive the damage is Iran isn’t saying. But we can hazard the guess that most of it is militarily related. Besides the ability to send information abroad, “Stuxnet” is reportedly able to commandeer computers and direct them to destroy what they are managing. If true, this changes the face of warfare.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:53 PM | Permalink

Applauding the citizen activists who uncover massive vote fraud and Christopher Coates

Sometimes, you can't depend on government but must band together in grassroots fashions like the local Tea Party group that may have uncovered massive vote fraud in Texas

Two weeks ago the Harris County voter registrar took their work and the findings of his own investigation and handed them over to both the Texas secretary of state’s office and the Harris County district attorney.

Most of the findings focused on a group called Houston Votes, a voter registration group headed by Steve Caddle, who also works for the Service Employees International Union. Among the findings were that only 1,793 of the 25,000 registrations the group submitted appeared to be valid. The other registrations included one of a woman who registered six times in the same day; registrations of non-citizens; so many applications from one Houston Voters collector in one day that it was deemed to be beyond human capability; and 1,597 registrations that named the same person multiple times, often with different signatures.

This is citizen activism everyone can applaud. 

Let us applaud too, the courage of Christopher Coates, the  former Voting Section chief of the Department of Justice who testified before the U.S. Civil Rights Commission last week that Obama appointees are opposed to enforcing civil rights laws in a racially neutral fashion. 

If you, like me, were puzzled as to why the case of the three members of the New Black Panther Party, caught on video tape  intimidating voters outside a Philadelphia polling place was dismissed after the DOJ had already won the case, this is what Coates said

[There is a] deep-seated opposition to the race-neutral enforcement of the Voting Rights Act against racial minorities and for the protection of whites who have been discriminated against.

In some cases, Justice Department attorneys and staff flatly refused to work on cases where the wrong-doer was black.

Coates also said that he was testifying because the Department has made misrepresentations to Congress, to the Civil Rights Commission, and to the public, sometimes under oath.

Coates described the significance of these misrepresentations. He testified:

If incorrect representations are going to successfully thwart an inquiry into the systemic problems regarding race-neutral enforcement of the Voting Rights Act by the Civil Rights Division, problems that were manifested in the disposition of the NBPP case, that end is not going to be furthered or accomplished by my sitting silently by at the direction of my supervisors while incorrect information is provided. I do not believe that I am professionally, ethically, legally, much less, morally bound to allow such a result to occur.

J. Christian Adams calls Coates an American hero.

Yet Americans have a new hero today. The extraordinary courage it took for Coates to risk his job, his career, even his safety to come forward and testify is extraordinary. Aspiring lawyers looking for a role model can find in Coates a noble reason to enter the profession.

We no longer must consult history for a lawyer-hero willing to take personal risk for sacred principles such as the rule of law and racial equality. Our age can claim Christopher Coates. My profession has not seen a hero like Coates since the giants of the civil rights movement convinced the courts to eradicate legal racial discrimination. Coates has dedicated a lifetime to following in their footsteps, to ensuring free access to the ballot.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:43 PM | Permalink

September 25, 2010

Maine Family Robinson

My wife and I noticed the utter breakdown of enormous parts of the lives of average Americans, the destruction or subversion of many formerly useful institutions, and a general retreat to barbarism masquerading as progress. We decided to change our lives a while ago, and not unlike the Swiss Family, the last three or four years took even the last lifeboat we found ourselves in and smashed it on the rocks. We have reinvented ourselves, and we'll tell you how we're doing it, if you're interested.

Greg Sullivan who  "hurls essays at the Internet like gigantic curses"  at Sippican Cottage, now "happily stranded" in  Western Maine is telling his story of Maine Family Robinson  and I'm not going to miss a chapter of it.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:59 PM | Permalink

The Other Hitchens

The Hitchens brothers, Christopher and Peter, were both atheists, one came to robust faith, one didn't. 

Father Robert Barron, the best Catholic evangelist around and the one most likely to cross over into general public awareness and slip into the shoes of Fulton J. Sheen, will begin a nationally televised program October 3 from Chicago, "Word on Fire with Father Barron"

The mission of his  media ministry Word on Fire is to educate and engage the culture.  That he does with YouTube videos discussing current events or articles of faith or reviewing films  which is where I first encountered him.  Here is his penetrating analysis on the current film starring Julia Roberts,  Eat, Pray, Love.

But I want to show you is his video on Peter Hitchens and his new book, The Rage Against God, because it touches on one of my greatest concerns, the slow collapse of our common inheritance, Western civilization with its ideas of the inviolability of the freedom of the individual, through indifference, even hostility, to the foundation that made it possible. 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:24 AM | Permalink

September 24, 2010

The financial impact of abortion

Via Joe Carter at First Things, I read The Cost of Abortion by Jeanne Monahan and was staggered at the financial impact of abortion, something I had never considered.  She references another article by Tom Glessner, who writes

Abortion is a moral and spiritual issue. It is an intense political and social issue. It is also a constitutional and legal issue that has divided the nation, splintered political parties, and emotionally devastated millions of people, both men and women.

Abortion is also an economic issue.

....the current economic crisis and, indeed, our economic future as a nation are impacted by the very uncomfortable fact that since 1973 (when the Supreme Court gave us constitutionally mandated abortion-on-demand) more than 52 million unborn children have been killed by abortion.

What impact has this massive destruction of human life had on our current economic situation? A very interesting study called The Cost of Abortion gives some insight to this question.
This study begins with the figures for the total numbers of surgical abortions carried out in the United States from 1973 to 2007. An assumption is made that one-half of these aborted children would be female and, based upon figures from the Centers for Disease Control, each female – at age 25 – would have an average of a single child.

The study then combines these calculations to generate a number of “missing persons” from the USA from 1973 to 2007. The Gross Domestic Product per capita for each year is then multiplied by the number of “missing persons”. Accordingly,
the sum of lost GDP from 1973 to 2007 due to surgical abortion is nearly $37 trillion.

It does not take a rocket scientist to understand that a loss of $37 trillion to our economy since 1973 has taken a big toll. Because of abortion,
we have 52 million fewer taxpayers, who would have provided a strong economic foundation for the nation
Abortion is an economic issue. America’s most valuable natural resources are human beings who through the creative genius of the human spirit create innovative ways to overcome problems. Abortion has destroyed a large portion of this natural resource.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:33 PM | Permalink

September 22, 2010

Save a Life

A new form of CPR - Continuous Chest Compression - can double a person's chances of survival who collapses from sudden cardiac arrest.

It's easier to learn, easier to perform and more effective than traditional CPR that recommended rescue breathing.

Continuous Chest Compression does not require certification or mouth-to-mouth and because of Good Samaritan laws in, I think, every state, you are not at legal risk.

Who knows?  Someday you may be in a position to save someone's life.  Watch and learn how to do it in this six-minute video.

HT:  Ace

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:51 PM | Permalink

Upcoming: The Black Tulip

From the New York Times, A Director's Many Battles to Make Her Movie

 Sonia Nassery Cole

Sonia Nassery Cole knew that shooting a movie on location in Afghanistan could get her killed. The most vivid reminder came a few weeks before filming, she said, when militants located her leading actress and cut off both of her feet.

But Ms. Cole, an Afghan expatriate with a flair for the dramatic and a history of not taking no for an answer, had her mind made up. Unable to find another actress to take the part — the film is overtly critical of the Taliban — Ms. Cole, 45, decided to play the role herself.

“Come hell, come shine, I was going to make this movie,” said Ms. Cole, a novice filmmaker whose primary job is running the Afghanistan World Foundation, a charity focused on refugees and women’s rights.
Before the film wrapped production last fall in Kabul, Ms. Cole survived a bomb blast that shattered the windows of her hotel, machine gun fire and grim telephone threats warning her to go home.

Three senior crew members — her cinematographer, a producer and a set designer — did just that, abandoning Ms. Cole in the middle of production.

“I know I broke her heart,” said Keith Smith, the cinematographer who left. “But I could feel death. I didn’t sign up for that.”

The movie she made is The Black Tulip, a tragic love story that will premier in Kabul this Thursday before it's off to the Sundance Film Festival.

The Times has a slideshow with some scenes from a movie I'm not going to miss.  Courage like hers must be supported.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:34 PM | Permalink

"There is no more Molly Norris"

Molly Norris didn't die.  She disappeared.  They call it "going ghost"

Molly Norris, a cartoonist for the Seattle Weekly, has disappeared on the advice of the FBI.  She became famous because she ventured  to lampoon the self-censorship of Comedy Central who pulled an episode that depicted the prophet  Mohammed disguising himself in a bear suit after threats by Islamist -- by suggesting an "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day".

For that , Islamic cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, you know the one who inspired the Fort Hood shooter Major Nidal Hassan and the man accused of attempting to blow up a US jetliner over Detroit of Christmas Day issued a fatwa, essentially publicly ordered that she be executed, saying her "proper abode is Hellfire".

Diana West reports on this "message from an outpost of the Civilization formerly noted as Western."

The gifted artist is alive and well, thankfully. But on the insistence of top security specialists at the FBI, she is, as they put it, “going ghost”: moving, changing her name, and essentially wiping away her identity.

Very little attention is being paid to what is not unlike a death.    No one seems to be grieving the giving up of her life as the price Molly Norris paid  for exercising her First Amendment rights as a citizen living in the United States. 

The Washington Examiner editorializes:

Freedom of speech and press are in deep trouble when the American government thinks the best it can do to protect a journalist from death threats is to counsel her to go into hiding, and when the elite voices of American journalism can't be bothered to say anything in her defense. But it's actually worse than that.

So why is nobody talking about what's happening to Molly Norris asks Jim Treacher.

Yeah, isn’t that weird? Some dummy in Florida threatened to burn some books — not kill anybody, not even give anybody a bloody nose, but burn some books in a stupid, spiteful gesture — and it was a media firestorm for a whole week. Even the President of the United States felt the need to condemn it. But now we’ve got an American citizen who doesn’t feel safe in her own home because she drew a cartoon, and apparently all those same people are fine with it.

We’re supposed to apologize to the entire Muslim world whenever a single one of them might have hurt feelings. Somehow, if a Muslim feels slighted, that’s a violation of the First Amendment and proof that America isn’t America anymore. Meanwhile, this woman has been silenced under threat of death for exercising her First Amendment rights, and… Crickets. No big deal.

It's time indeed, as the Examiner editorializes, for this generation of American journalists to show more courage.

The reality is that the FBI fought the KKK at every turn, including when it threatened brave Southern newspaper editors who stood up against racism and violence. And from the start, journalists were prominent figures in the civil rights movement, courageously reporting the truth about the crushing stranglehold of segregation on life and liberty across the old South, often at risk of their very lives. It's time the present generation of American journalists found the same brand of courage many of their fathers showed in the 1960s.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:51 AM | Permalink

September 16, 2010

"Benedict XVI is looking for allies in what he believes is a war for the soul of Europe"

While Pope John Paul II did visit England nearly 30 years ago in a "pastoral visit",  today Pope Benedict XVI begins the first official state visit of a Pope to Scotland and England.

CNN asks a reasonable question, Why is he going?  Terry Mattingly at Get Religon writes

To cut to the chase: Benedict XVI is looking for allies in what he believes is a war for the soul of Europe.

The British blogger known as Archbishop Cranmer welcomes the Pope despite what appears to be an aggressive anti-Catholic and anti-Christian atmosphere.

For Pope Benedict XVI comes to the United Kingdom at a time when the Christian conscience is besieged, the national church cowed and our liberties undermined in ways they have not been for centuries. Nurses dare not pray or wear a crucifix; teachers dare not mention Jesus and the school receptionist dare not ask for prayer. If you work for BA, turbans, karas and hijabs are fine, but don’t even think about wearing a cross. Christians are no longer free to be foster parents, registrars, hotel owners or B&B proprietors. Bishops may no longer uphold orthodoxy, street preachers may not quote Scripture, and adoption agencies must act against their conscience or close.

Elizabeth Scalia, best known as the Anchoress, wrote about the Twentieth Century's Last Great Figures earlier this week.

Both Elizabeth and Benedict have seen war and its woeful aftermath, up close. They have watched totalitarian regimes advance and decline, and seen religion used as a justification for slaughter. They know what the rhetorical jackboot sounds like and how seamlessly it can advance; they can speak to our time, if we let them.
Elizabeth and Benedict, despite obvious differences, may take some comfort in each other’s brief company. Almost no one on the planet knows what they know; perhaps no one in current leadership can see and–with the eloquence born of experience–speak to past and future days, from their lonely thrones and balconies.

And sure enough, the Pope in his comments before the Queen who gave him a state welcome at the Palace of HolyRoodHouse in Edinburgh, offered his hand in friendship to the U.K.said

Even in our own lifetime, we can recall how Britain and her leaders stood against a Nazi tyranny that wished to eradicate God from society and denied our common humanity to many, especially the Jews, who were thought unfit to live.

I also recall the regime’s attitude to Christian pastors and religious who spoke the truth in love, opposed the Nazis and paid for that opposition with their lives.

As we reflect on the sobering lessons of the atheist extremism of the twentieth century, let us never forget how the exclusion of God, religion and virtue from public life leads ultimately to a truncated vision of man and of society and thus to a "reductive vision of the person and his destiny"

 Pope Holyrood

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:31 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

They want to take charge of your life

Thomas Sowell has this to say about the intellectuals who want to take charge of your life and move you aside. 

In schools and colleges, the intelligentsia have changed the role of education from equipping students with the knowledge and intellectual skills to weigh issues and make up their own minds into a process of indoctrination with the conclusions already reached by the anointed.

The intelligentsia have treated the conclusions of their vision as axioms to be followed, rather than hypotheses to be tested.

Some among the intelligentsia have treated reality itself as subjective or illusory, thereby putting current intellectual fashions and fads on the same plane as verified knowledge and the cultural wisdom distilled from generations of experience.
Intellectuals have – on issues ranging across the spectrum from housing policies to laws governing organ transplants – sought to have decision-making discretion taken from those directly involved, who have personal knowledge and a personal stake, and transferred to third parties who have neither, and who pay no price for being wrong.

They have filtered information in the media, in the schools, and in academia to leave out things that threaten their vision of the world.

Above all, they exalt themselves by denigrating the society in which they live, and turning its members against each other.

Shades of our ruling class and its opposition the 'country class'.

While the country class, like the ruling class, includes the professionally accomplished and the mediocre, geniuses and dolts, it is different because of its non-orientation to government and its members' yearning to rule themselves rather than be ruled by others.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:15 AM | Permalink

September 15, 2010

Censoring Lincoln

I was dismayed to learn that the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy took it upon itself to redact the part of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address they found disturbing.

God and Gettysburg

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:47 PM | Permalink

September 14, 2010

'Zero tolerance' for dissent

‘"There will be zero tolerance for this type of misinformation and unjustified rate increases.” said Kathleen Sibelius, Secretary, objecting to the claims by health insurers that increased costs imposed by Obamacare will force them to raise premiums.  Then she went on to threaten them, “We will also keep track of insurers with a record of unjustified rate increases: those plans may be excluded from health insurance Exchanges in 2014.”

Now I'm not looking forward to premium increases any more than you are, but I was startled and then outraged that any public official would dare say such a thing. 

Michael Barone calls it "Gangster Government going after Obamacare critics"

”Congress shall make no law,” reads the First Amendment, “abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.”

Sebelius’s approach is different: “zero tolerance” for dissent.

The threat to use government regulation to destroy or harm a business because the owners disagree with government officials is thuggery. Like the Obama administration’s transfer of money from Chrysler bondholders to its political allies in the United Auto Workers, it is a form of gangster government.

This is deeply alarming abuse of power.  From the Morning Bell of the Heritage Foundation

Never before in the history of our republican form of government has an administration threatened to extinguish individual firms for merely communicating with their customers. But such are the dictatorial powers Obamacare grants to Secretary Sebelius. There are over 1,000 instances in the more than 2,700 page bill where Congress granted Secretary Sebelius new powers to regulate the health care industry. For example, her power to “determine” what does or does not count as a medical expense alone will decide the fate of many health insurance firms.

In Get Ready for Your Health Care 'Re-Education' we learn about some of the new requirements of the law placed on all insurers.

Under ObamaCare, insurers must now offer dozens of services for “free,” including various forms of cancer screening, vaccinations, and AIDS testing. But of course, there’s no such thing as a free lunch — instead the costs must be shifted to other customers. Hence, many insurers have started raising their rates, explaining that it is due to these new regulations.

But, according to Secretary Sibelius, they can't say a word about it or the power of the federal government will destroy their business.

Thuggish indeed.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:48 AM | Permalink

The immediate aftermath of 9/11

I was quite effected on the 9th anniversary of 9/11 in particular by this article by Vincent Druding, Ground Zero: A Journal, originally published in the December 2001 edition of First Things which captures better than anything else I've read the aftermath of the first few days and  the self-organizing community of hundreds of people from across the country hard at work to recover bodies.

When the President finally grabbed a bullhorn and began to speak, it was hard to hear him at first. When someone in the crowd shouted, “We can’t hear you!” the president proclaimed loudly, “But I can hear you! And the rest of the country hears you! And soon, the people who did this . . . are going to hear from all of us!” At that moment, a shot of electricity surged through the crowd. Cheers erupted and echoed off the surrounding buildings, each draped with a tattered American flag. “U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!” It went on and on.

Then—at the corner of West and Vesey streets in New York City, on the edge of a mass grave, at the feet of the commander-in-chief of the world’s mightiest nation—I was overwhelmed with an unexpected sense of fraternity and love of country. Not fifty feet away lay the remains of five thousand innocent people, and here, at their side, a band of their brothers stood before their leader, united in an unconditional love of justice. I really do think that is what it was.

One night at 2 a.m. I was on my way through the rain to pick up supplies in the AMEX building, which, among other things, was being used as a transfer station for the bodies and parts of bodies we had recovered from the site. From there, they were packed onto trucks to be taken to the morgue at Bellevue Hospital. As I entered the atrium of the building I saw scores of workers holding their hard hats over their chests. Fifty yards away a dozen firefighters proceeded slowly in my direction carrying a body bag. I removed my hard hat and stepped to the side. As they approached, I could read their red, swollen eyes. Their uniforms were dark with mud and soot. Raindrops dripped from everyone’s gear. A priest wearing a raincoat, a hard hat, goggles, a respirator, and a headlamp came forward with a book and oils. The men carrying their fallen friend cried quietly as the priest rolled back the bag and anointed the body, administering Last Rites. In the atrium, heads bowed and no one moved. I don’t remember how long we stood there, but time seemed to stop as profane space became as sacred as a shrine. Eventually, the priest stepped away, and the firemen walked slowly forward, out the doors and into the truck waiting outside. Without a word, we went back out into the dark rain to work.

Also, Victor Davis Hanson, What Made Them Do Their Duty?, from the Autumn 2001 edition of City Journal who reminds us that 30,000 were saved because of the bravery of the firefighters.

So many of them disappeared—at least 388 firefighters—because in a heartbeat they chose to race into the flames and smoke rather than to hesitate and accept the obvious: that the towers were already death traps. In the tradition of all great American armies in battle, officers—47 lieutenants, 20 captains, and 21 chiefs—died alongside the rank and file, heroic death requiring no prerequisite of class or color. Indeed, the magnitude of the terrorist-inflicted disaster rivaled that of a fierce battle, where the enemy overruns and annihilates an entire military unit—paramedics, a fire marshal, even the fire department's chaplain were engulfed. Remarkably, moments after the buildings collapsed, there were even more rescue workers on the scene than before. It is human to flee from a place of death; the firemen and the police were almost inhuman in mounting so quickly the rubble that buried their brethren.

As terrible as their loss was, however, we must never forget how successful the rescuers actually were. Nearly 30,000 people escaped before the towers fell, in large part because the omnipresent cops and firefighters made sure that their own sense of calm and order guided the evacuation. Some of the saved made it out just seconds before thousands of tons buried their saviors on stairs and in hallways.
The existence of these virtuous men and women, however, also owes much to the universal genius of American—Western—civilization. We are seeing in this tragedy and in these firemen and police, alive and dead, the flesh and bones of our entire culture laid bare: what it means to be both American and Western at the moment of our peril and need.
The rescuers are also free men and women, exhibiting all the associational skills that have made civil society so vibrant in Western history. The rescue workers do not first look to central government authority before plunging into their daily toil. Ingenuity, improvisation, and spontaneity are everywhere—the wonderful fruits of a free society. In addition, the police who ring the site owe allegiance to civilians and elected officials, not self-proclaimed authorities who hang and hector as they see fit
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:44 AM | Permalink

September 11, 2010

"If only for a moment, all that was trivial about everyday American life fell away, too."

The two towers were not all that fell on that awful day.  If only for a moment, all that was trivial about everyday American life fell away, too.  The culture of celebrity.  Partisan politics.  Irony.  All were unmasked as the cheap, shallow, frivolous imposters that they were.

Rising out of the ruins, all that remained standing were the Important Things:  Faith.  Family.  Friends.  Freedom.  Essential and enduring, they offered meaning and hope to a nation and people suffering incalculable heartache and loss.

Now, I thought, is the time to say, “I love you.”  Now is the time to say, “I’m sorry.”  Now is the time to say, “Thank you.”  Now is the time to make peace with God.  Now is the time.  Tomorrow may be too late.

On September 11, 2001, it was all so clear.   

Kathryn Slattery on Important Things.


Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:24 AM | Permalink

September 10, 2010

Greece's version of the Tea Party

No one is better than Michael Lewis on the opaque, bizarre and terrifying world of global finance. 

Wall Street on the Tundra was the story of Iceland's de facto bankruptcy and how a "Well-educated, historically rational human beings committed one of the single greatest acts of madness in financial history."

Now he turns to Greece in Beware of Greeks Bearing Bonds. As the lead-in describes:

the author heads for riot-stricken Athens, and for the mysterious Vatopaidi monastery, which brought down the last government, laying bare the country’s economic insanity. But beyond a $1.2 trillion debt (roughly a quarter-million dollars for each working adult), there is a more frightening deficit. After systematically looting their own treasury, in a breathtaking binge of tax evasion, bribery, and creative accounting spurred on by Goldman Sachs, Greeks are sure of one thing: they can’t trust their fellow Greeks.

In Athens, I several times had a feeling new to me as a journalist: a complete lack of interest in what was obviously shocking material. I’d sit down with someone who knew the inner workings of the Greek government: a big-time banker, a tax collector, a deputy finance minister, a former M.P. I’d take out my notepad and start writing down the stories that spilled out of them. Scandal after scandal poured forth. Twenty minutes into it I’d lose interest. There were simply too many: they could fill libraries, never mind a magazine article.

The Greek state was not just corrupt but also corrupting. Once you saw how it worked you could understand a phenomenon which otherwise made no sense at all: the difficulty Greek people have saying a kind word about one another. Individual Greeks are delightful: funny, warm, smart, and good company. I left two dozen interviews saying to myself, “What great people!” They do not share the sentiment about one another: the hardest thing to do in Greece is to get one Greek to compliment another behind his back. No success of any kind is regarded without suspicion. Everyone is pretty sure everyone is cheating on his taxes, or bribing politicians, or taking bribes, or lying about the value of his real estate. And this total absence of faith in one another is self-reinforcing. The epidemic of lying and cheating and stealing makes any sort of civic life impossible; the collapse of civic life only encourages more lying, cheating, and stealing. Lacking faith in one another, they fall back on themselves and their families.
Here is Greece’s version of the Tea Party: tax collectors on the take, public-school teachers who don’t really teach, well-paid employees of bankrupt state railroads whose trains never run on time, state hospital workers bribed to buy overpriced supplies. Here they are, and here we are: a nation of people looking for anyone to blame but themselves.
There’s no question that the government is resolved to at least try to re-create Greek civic life. The only question is: Can such a thing, once lost, ever be re-created?
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:35 AM | Permalink

"A skeleton is a man with his inside out and his outside off."

Some selections from 'Roman women built fires in their brasseries and other hilarious classroom howlers by schoolchildren

His mother, being immortal, had died.

I quickly glanced at the grandfather clock in my waistcoat pocket.

Clowns tie their trousers with string which, when it is pulled, shows a hair-raising scene.

A cigarette hung out of the corner of her eye.

The equator is a menagerie lion running around the earth through Africa.

A monologue is a conversation between two people, such as husband and wife.

Some people can tell the time by looking at the sun, but I have never been able to make out the numbers.

We were trapped in a blazing car, but luckily enough a river was passing by.

The first book in the bible is Guinessis.

A monologue is a conversation between two people, such as husband and wife.

An oboe is an American tramp.

Trigonometry is when a lady marries three men at the same time.

Caviar is the eggs of a surgeon.

A momentum is what you give a person when they are leaving.

An aristocrat is a man who does somersaults on the stage.

A skeleton is a man with his inside out and his outside off.

A vacuum is an empty space where the Pope lives.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:54 AM | Permalink

September 9, 2010

Papal Visit Tartan

With Pope Benedict XVI's visit to the United Kingdom a week away,  I've been interested in the stories of the artists, musicians and craftsmen who were chosen to create something to use during or to mark the historical event. 

However, this is a first - Custom Scottish plaid created to celebrate papal visit.

Cardinal Keith O'Brien unveils the worlds first Papal visit plaid, the St Ninian's Day Tartan, also worn by a piper, near the Scottish parliament in Edinburgh, Scotland,

The North Carolina creator of the design said the interlocking pattern of stripes tells the story of the Catholic Church in Scotland while interweaving elements of next week's trip.
Matthew Newsome, director of the Scottish Tartans Museum in Franklin, North Carolina, drew it up especially for the Sept. 16 occasion.

"Thrilled" that his design was chosen to be woven by a pair of Scottish companies for the trip, Newsome said that every element of the multi-color traditional pattern has a meaning behind it.

The tartan's "white line on blue field draws upon Scotland's national colors while the green reflects the lichens growing on the stones of Whithorn in Galloway," he said, explaining that it was there that the missionary St. Ninian arrived 1,600 years ago.

St. Ninian's feast day will be observed in a very special way this year as it coincides with the arrival of the Pope in Scotland.

Red lines also accompany the white lines, said Newsome, which is in remembrance of the colors of Cardinal John Henry Newman's crest, and thin yellow lines were also put alongside the white to reflect the colors of the Holy See.

He added, "(i)n terms of the weaving, each white line on the green contains exactly eight threads, one for each Catholic diocese in Scotland. There are 452 threads in the design from pivot to pivot, representing the number of Catholic parishes."

The design was presented by Cardinal Keith O'Brien and Newsome to members of Scottish parliament on Thursday afternoon. Every one of the 129 members received a tie or scarf with the design.

Cardinal O'Brien noted, “It’s a great honor to be able to hand over the first ever tartan created for a Papal Visit as a thank you to all the Holyrood parliamentarians who have been so overwhelmingly supportive of this visit, knowing it means so much to the Catholic community and many others in this country.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:07 PM | Permalink


Words I never thought Fidel Castro would say,

"The Cuban model doesn't even work for us anymore,

But he did and Jeffrey Goldberg who conducted the interview for the Atlantic wrote:

This struck me as the mother of all Emily Litella moments. Did the leader of the Revolution just say, in essence, "Never mind"?
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:58 PM | Permalink

September 8, 2010

Vitamin B stops memory loss

10p pill to beat Alzheimer's disease: Vitamin B halts memory loss in breakthrough British trial

A simple vitamin pill could prevent millions from suffering the agony of Alzheimer's.

The tablet, costing as little as 10p a day and made up of three vitamin B supplements, cut brain shrinkage linked to memory loss by up to 500 per cent.

Oxford University researchers behind the landmark study said it offered the 'first glimmer of hope' in the battle to find a drug that slows or stops the development of Alzheimer's.

10p is about 16 cents.

Professor David Smith, one of the study leaders, said: 'This is a very striking, dramatic result. It is our hope this simple and safe treatment will delay the development of Alzheimer's in many who suffer from mild memory problems.'

Co-researcher Professor Helga Refsum added: 'Here we have a very simple solution: you give some vitamins and you seem to protect the brain.'

It will take about 5 years for all the drug trials to take place but Professor Smith said he

would not hesitate’ to take the cocktail of 20mg of vitamin B6, 0.8mg of vitamin B9, or folate, and 0.5mg of vitamin B12, himself, if he were diagnosed with MCI.

The Alzheimer’s Research Trust, which part-funded the study, said that delaying the onset of Alzheimer’s by five years could halve the number of those who die with the condition.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:39 PM | Permalink

Light is fundamental

When you talk about ridiculous laws Congress has passed, my pet peeve is the one outlawing incandescent bulbs by 2014.   

Under the guise of saving energy, this new law will force all of us to use those hateful corkscrew fluorescent bulb  with the sickly green light that require hazardous waste disposal when they break or burn out and they burn out far more quickly than they are supposed to.    I'm with Howard Brandston who wrote in the WSJ, Save the Light Bulb

Will some energy be saved? Probably. The problem is
this benefit will be more than offset by rampant dissatisfaction with lighting. We are not talking about giving up a small luxury for the greater good. We are talking about compromising light. Light is fundamental. And light is obviously for people, not buildings. The primary objective in the design of any space is to make it comfortable and habitable. This is most critical in homes, where this law will impact our lives the most. And yet while energy conservation, a worthy cause, has strong advocacy in public policy, good lighting has very little.

Light is so important and we are going to lose our freedom to have cheap, beautiful and safe light.  And kill jobs in the the process.  I 'm with Brandston who said let the federal government and Congress try it out themselves for 18 months first.

Today, the news is Light bulb factory closes; End of era for U.S. means more jobs overseas

The last major GE factory making ordinary incandescent light bulbs in the United States is closing this month, marking a small, sad exit for a product and company that can trace their roots to Thomas Alva Edison's innovations in the 1870s.

The remaining 200 workers at the plant here will lose their jobs.

All the jobs of making those energy-saving bulbs will go to China where labor is cheaper to make those corkscrews.

It infuriates me, so I'll vote for anyone who promises to repeal this stupid law.

Otherwise, I'll have to start stockpiling bulbs.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:32 PM | Permalink

On the shores of a great ocean

Richard Fernandez in Children of a Lesser God

At the last we are left exactly where we were: on the shores of a great ocean whose extent we do not know, condemned to live out our lives partly on the basis of things we can only guess.

Some will decide that for purely arbitrary reasons we have been granted a glimpse into a mighty, soulless and uncaring mechanism and leave it at that.

Some will strike out on another path. They will not watch, but live on the shores of this great sea. There they will build their homes, care for their children and sacrifice their lives for things that have meaning, yet which others will regard as not only meaningless but as incapable of meaning.

The argument is probably unsettleable and the two tribes are doomed to live side by side for whatever amounts to forever. Blaise Pascal believed that you could never know which of these points of view was correct. He advised everyone to make his wager and live life accordingly. Being the gambler, Pascal decided that if he wagered, he would bet to win.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:58 PM | Permalink

September 7, 2010

Thinking of study as packing a neural suitcase

Some good and surprising advice for young and old on how to study.

Research Upends Traditional Thinking on Study Habits.

Cognitive scientists do not deny that honest-to-goodness cramming can lead to a better grade on a given exam. But hurriedly jam-packing a brain is akin to speed-packing a cheap suitcase, as most students quickly learn — it holds its new load for a while, then most everything falls out.

“With many students, it’s not like they can’t remember the material” when they move to a more advanced class, said Henry L. Roediger III, a psychologist at Washington University in St. Louis. “It’s like they’ve never seen it before.”

When the neural suitcase is packed carefully and gradually, it holds its contents for far, far longer. An hour of study tonight, an hour on the weekend, another session a week from now: such so-called spacing improves later recall, without requiring students to put in more overall study effort or pay more attention, dozens of studies have found.

No one knows for sure why. It may be that the brain, when it revisits material at a later time, has to relearn some of what it has absorbed before adding new stuff — and that that process is itself self-reinforcing.
That’s one reason cognitive scientists see
testing itself — or practice tests and quizzes — as a powerful tool of learning, rather than merely assessment. The process of retrieving an idea is not like pulling a book from a shelf; it seems to fundamentally alter the way the information is subsequently stored, making it far more accessible in the future.
“Testing has such bad connotation; people think of standardized testing or teaching to the test,” Dr. Roediger said. “Maybe we need to call it something else, but this is one of the most powerful learning tools we have.”
The more mental sweat it takes to dig it out, the more securely it will be subsequently anchored.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:31 AM | Permalink

When to disclose how much you owe

There's a whole new obstacle to marriage these days - debt.  Especially if you don't know how big it really is.

How Debt Can Destroy a Budding Relationship.

Nobody likes unpleasant surprises, but when Allison Brooke Eastman’s fiancé found out four months ago just how high her student loan debt was, he had a particularly strong reaction: he broke off the engagement within three days.

Still, all of this raises the question: At what point do you have a moral obligation to disclose your indebtedness during courtship? On the eighth date? When you get to third base? In your eHarmony online dating profile?
Ms. Eastman in San Francisco says she knows that now. “What would I have done differently, besides bringing a copy of my credit report on the first date?” she said, with a rueful chuckle. “I would have been more responsible.”

And while she hasn’t dated anyone seriously enough in recent months to get to the point of disclosure, she says it’s probably necessary by the eighth or 10th date. “I know that now,” she said. “But it had never occurred to me that this is something that might end up being a deal-breaker.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:22 AM | Permalink

September 4, 2010

Mexican cartels control movement in southern Arizona

Will this report stir any one in Washington to defend the territorial integrity of our country?

Arizona Sheriff Says Mexican Cartels Now Control Some Parts of the State

The Washington Times reports that the state of Arizona has essentially ceded parts of the southern border to Mexican drug cartels in what — we hope — is a tactical retreat:

The federal government has posted signs along a major interstate highway in Arizona, more than 100 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border, warning travelers the area is unsafe because of drug and alien smugglers, and a local sheriff says Mexican drug cartels now control some parts of the state.

The signs were posted by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) along a 60-mile stretch of Interstate 8 between Casa Grande and Gila Bend, a major east-west corridor linking Tucson and Phoenix with San Diego.

They warn travelers that they are entering an “active drug and human smuggling area” and they may encounter “armed criminals and smuggling vehicles traveling at high rates of speed.” Beginning less than 50 miles south of Phoenix, the signs encourage travelers to “use public lands north of Interstate 8″ and to call 911 if they “see suspicious activity.”

Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu, whose county lies at the center of major drug and alien smuggling routes to Phoenix and cities east and west, attests to the violence. He said his deputies are outmanned and outgunned by drug traffickers in the rough-hewn desert stretches of his own county.

Mexican drug cartels literally do control parts of Arizona,” he said. “They literally have scouts on the high points in the mountains and in the hills and they literally control movement. They have radios, they have optics, they have night-vision goggles as good as anything law enforcement has.

Daniel Foster who posted the above piece refers to another written by  Deroy Murdock in July,
Bullets across the U.S / Mexican border.


American citizens, therefore, are supposed to steer clear of a section of our nation from I-8 to the Mexican border. Brewer campaign spokesman Doug Cole outlined this area for me on a map. He says it runs from this sign’s location — about 12 miles east of Gila Bend — to Casa Grande, and then due south from both of those points to the frontier. By my calculation, these lines in the sand define a trapezoid that covers roughly 3,600 square miles. In other words, the Obama administration has deemed that a region larger than Delaware and Rhode Island, combined, is too treacherous for Americans to visit.

“Ceding that enormous portion of the United States to the bad guys basically is the federal government saying, ‘We don’t have control of our own territory. You’re on your own. Good luck!’” says Cole. This would be bad enough if the no-go zone were just inside the frontier. In fact, it stretches some 80 miles north of the border, and, as Governor Brewer points out, the area includes “important natural recreational destinations.” She adds: “Signs do not protect our border. Let’s protect Americans, not just warn them.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:55 PM | Permalink

Restoring the culture we once took for granted

It's been a week since the "Restoring Honor" in Washington and these are the two most telling pieces of the mountains that have been written. 

Mollie Hemingway in Ricochet on Taking out the trash

I have attended dozens of rallies and marches -- anti-war, pro-life, pro-choice, anti-circumcision, you name it.

And I saw something so shocking yesterday, that I had to stop and take a picture.

Molly's Picture

As my husband and two children and I were headed back on our long walk home, we saw women tying extra garbage bags onto trash receptacles. I noticed that they had already hit the other trash cans on our way out. And other folks were collecting extra trash into other bags. It was already surprising how little trash there was in the general area. Normally a crowd that size can have quite a bit of trash. But what type of American thinks to bring extra trash bags to help keep refuse from being spread out and about? I know many in the media are trying to sell the idea that the Americans who attended this rally are dangers to society, but that simple trash vignette speaks volumes, doesn't it?

The second is by Timothy Dalrymple, Have We Squandered Our Cultural Inheritance?

Whatever else Beck has right or wrong -- and I confess I have never watched or listened to him much -- it seems to me that he is correctly interpreting the present moment. Which is no small matter.
What does he get? Beck gets that there is a deeply and urgently felt conviction emerging organically across a broad swath of the American populace that the spectacular economic and political collapses of recent years were made possible -- even inevitable -- by a much longer Great Moral Decline.
This is not an exclusively religious concern. Even secular scholars have long recognized that America's Judeo-Christian heritage supplied a set of ideals and principles -- such as the Protestant work-ethic and strong commitments to honesty, integrity, and compassion -- that encouraged and reinforced the habits and qualities that tend to help democracies and free markets flourish.
Not at all. The sociological concept of a "cultural inheritance" is helpful here. A cultural inheritance is a set of values and beliefs, habits and practices handed down through generations within a single culture. Cultural inheritance partly explains, for instance, why a high percentage of Asian-American children, who inherit from their culture strong emphases on and helpful habits in education, diligence, and financial responsibility, perform well academically and build strong professional and financial foundations. Likewise, for centuries the vast majority of children born in America inherited a culture permeated with Christian stories, wisdom, and values.
The deep concern across the United States appears to be that we have squandered our cultural inheritance. We have exchanged the extraordinary treasury of Judeo-Christian stories, values, and wisdom that sustained us for generations in favor of the cheap culture of corruption, indolence, and dissolution that has swiftly bankrupted our economy and our government.

We see this in The Generation That Can't Move On Up

The grim employment picture is familiar, but what's less widely known is that they are losing not only jobs but also their connections to basic social institutions such as marriage and religion. They're becoming socially disengaged, floating away from the college-educated middle class.

To see this illustrated, look at the photos at Then and Now, Part Two.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:11 PM | Permalink

Blackmail and a warning to the West

Last week, Col Muammar Gaddafi came to Italy and warned that Europe will 'turn black' unless EU pays Libya 4 billion pounds a year to block the arrival of illegal immigrants from Africa.

"Tomorrow Europe might no longer be European and even black as there are millions who want to come in," he said.

"We don't know if Europe will remain an advanced and united continent or if it will be destroyed, as happened with the barbarian invasions".

His remarks were condemned by Italian MPs who called it "unacceptable blackmail" and compared it to the protection money that mafia gangs demand from businesses.

But, according to the Guardian, the EU is keen to strike deal with Gaddafi on immigration.

In France, 'Islamization' of Paris a Warning to the West.

A hidden camera shows streets blocked by huge crowds of Muslim worshippers and enforced by a private security force.

This is all illegal in France: the public worship, the blocked streets, and the private security. But the police have been ordered not to intervene.

It shows that even though some in the French government want to get tough with Muslims and ban the burqa, other parts of the French government continue to give Islam a privileged status

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:09 PM | Permalink

"The key is wisdom, not the heart."

If you really want good to prevail, the key is wisdom, not the heart. That's why we have a minimum voting age. And that's why we have a minimum age for running for public office. We once understood that as good as a young person may be, goodness was not enough to be able to choose society's leaders or to be one.

So, why do good people do bad things? Because they lack wisdom. Without wisdom, you can be nice and kind, but you will not do nearly as much good as your good heart would like you to do.

And you may even do harm.

Dennis Prager, When Good People Do Bad Things

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:18 AM | Permalink

September 1, 2010

Ora et labora and the revalorization of the trades

I thought One of my favorite writers, Camille Paglia,  on a subject dear to my heart, Revalorizing the Trades

Having taught in art schools for most of my four decades in the classroom, I am used to having students who work with their hands—ceramicists, weavers, woodworkers, metal smiths, jazz drummers. There is a calm, centered, Zen-like engagement with the physical world in their lives. In contrast, I see glib, cynical, neurotic elite-school graduates roiling everywhere in journalism and the media. They have been ill-served by their trendy, word-centered educations.
Jobs, jobs, jobs: We need a sweeping revalorization of the trades. The pressuring of middle-class young people into officebound, paper-pushing jobs is cruelly shortsighted. Concrete manual skills, once gained through the master-apprentice alliance in guilds, build a secure identity. Our present educational system defers credentialing and maturity for too long. When middle-class graduates in their mid-20s are just stepping on the bottom rung of the professional career ladder, many of their working-class peers are already self-supporting and married with young children.

The elite schools, predicated on molding students into mirror images of their professors, seem divorced from any rational consideration of human happiness.

One of my earlier posts also quoted Paglia on the same subject.   

Perhaps there's hope of change because of the tens of thousands of liberal arts graduates with expensive degrees who are finding themselves out of work and depressingly marginalized in a society where the manual trades offer guaranteed employment at relatively high wages. A dose of Buddhism might do people good: Sweeping garden sand into oceanic designs around ornamental rocks is considered a spiritual exercise in Asia. I say that landscaping, construction, carpentry, metalworking and all the other trades should be promoted by primary education as worthy careers for both men and women. The pre-college rat race is a sadomasochistic imposition on the young that robs them of free will and saps their vital energies. When will they rebel?

But my favorite old post on this subject is Happy Like the Muffler Man. 

When St. Benedict, later credited as the father of Western monasticism, wrote his rule back in the sixth century, he dignified manual labor and required it of all the monks.  Work was holy and  he believed a balanced life of prayer and work was ideal for the happiness, bonding and contemplative life of the small monasteries then beginning  to spread across Europe.  Ora et labora became the Benedictine  motto.      Even today, monasteries derive their income from physical and manual labor.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:21 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Back to School Advice

If you have a child or two  going to college this fall, tuck a copy of Walter Mead's essay Back to School into their luggage so they will take his very good advice with them.

And so, dear students, welcome back!  Your generation is going to have dig its own way out of the hole my generation has dug for you (thanks for the Medicare, kids, and sorry about the deficit!), but here are a few tips that may help you get the best out of your college years.
1. The real world does not work like school.

2. Most of your elders know very little about the world into which you are headed.

3. You are going to have to work much, much harder than you probably expect.

4. Choosing the right courses is more important than choosing the right college.

5. Get a traditional liberal education; it is the only thing that will do you any good.

6. Character counts; so do good habits.

7. Relax.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:13 PM | Permalink