April 29, 2011

What I loved about the Royal Wedding

Yes, I did get up early to watch the Royal Wedding.  I love weddings and the British excel at pomp and circumstance and the beauty of tradition.  I've posted a lot about  broken Britain and its scuttling of all that made it great so I watched with great pleasure at the Englishness and tradition of the royal wedding.    So did all the crowds and hundreds of millions around the globe.

The beauty of Westminster Abbey

 Rw Cathedral

The native English flowers decorating the church and the  trees along the aisle.

The two princes in red and blue with spurs!

Rw 2Princes

The beautiful bride and Kate's gorgeous dress

 Rw Dress

 Kate's Dress

The charming flower girls and pages, led by the maid of honor.

 Rw Pippa Flowergirls

The best wedding sermon  I ever heard by The Bishop of London

Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” So said St Catherine of Siena whose festival day it is today. Marriage is intended to be a way in which man and woman help each other to become what God meant each one to be, their deepest and truest selves.
--
In a sense every wedding is a royal wedding with the bride and the groom as king and queen of creation, making a new life together so that life can flow through them into the future.
--
And in the Spirit of this generous God, husband and wife are to give themselves to each another.
A spiritual life grows as love finds its centre beyond ourselves. Faithful and committed relationships offer a door into the mystery of spiritual life in which we discover this; the more we give of self, the richer we become in soul; the more we go beyond ourselves in love, the more we become our true selves and our spiritual beauty is more fully revealed. In marriage we are seeking to bring one another into fuller life. 

The music, especially Ubi Caritas et Amor as arranged by Paul Mealor
 

The young crowds.

 Rw Crowds

The kiss and the little bridesmaid who found the roar of the crowd and the flyover much too loud.

 The Kiss

All the wonderful clothes and hats!  But the cartwheeling verger captures best the joy of the day.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:10 PM | Permalink

April 28, 2011

"The huge growth in municipal health-care costs is cannibalizing everything else,"

Union Busting, Massachusetts Style

Maybe the debate over public-sector benefits isn't all that ideological after all.

That would be the view of Massachusetts Democratic Speaker Robert A. DeLeo, who late Tuesday led an overwhelming majority of his House in passing a bill divesting policemen, firefighters, teachers and other municipal employees of the power to collectively bargain most health-care benefits. The 111-42 vote took place at 11:30 at night, so as to avoid a mass of protesting union workers set to descend on the State House the next day.
--
That's a tipping point that threatens widespread layoffs and the end of basic services. "The huge growth in municipal health-care costs is cannibalizing everything else," Michael Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayer Foundation, tells me. Mr. DeLeo and "other members of the legislature understand that what is at stake is their local schools and hometowns." The unions, in short, have walked Massachusetts so far into a hole that even Democrats can no longer ignore the problem.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:45 PM | Permalink

It's tough out there

What a sad commentary on the U.S. economy

McDonalds Hires 62,000, Turns Away Over 938,000 Applicants For Minimum Wage, Part-Time Jobs

McDonald’s and its franchisees hired 62,000 people in the U.S. after receiving more than one million applications, the Oak Brook, Illinois-based company said today in an e-mailed statement. Previously, it said it planned to hire 50,000.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:51 PM | Permalink

"World Health Report 2000 was an intellectual fraud of historic consequence"

Remember that WHO study that ranked the health care systems of nearly 200 nations that showed the US way down on the list? 

In October 2008, candidate Obama used the study to claim that “29 other countries have a higher life expectancy and 38 other nations have lower infant mortality rates.” On June 15, 2009, as he was beginning to make the case for his health-care bill, the new president said: “As I think many of you are aware, for all of this spending, more of our citizens are uninsured, the quality of our care is often lower, and we aren’t any healthier. In fact, citizens in some countries that spend substantially less than we do are actually living longer than we do.”

Turns out it could be The Worst Study Ever

In fact, World Health Report 2000 was an intellectual fraud of historic consequence—a profoundly deceptive document that is only marginally a measure of health-care performance at all. The report’s true achievement was to rank countries according to their alignment with a specific political and economic ideal—socialized medicine—and then claim it was an objective measure of “quality.”
--

At its most egregious, the report abandoned the very pretense of assessing health care. WHO ranked the U.S. 42nd in life expectancy. In their book, The Business of Health, Robert L. Ohsfeldt and John E. Schneider of the University of Iowa demonstrated that this finding was a gross misrepresentation. WHO actually included immediate deaths from murder or fatal high-speed motor-vehicle accidents in their assessment, as if an ideal health-care system could turn back time to undo car crashes and prevent homicides.
--
What we have here is a prime example of the misuse of social science and the conversion of statistics from pseudo-data into propaganda. The basic principle, casually referred to as “garbage in, garbage out,” is widely accepted by all researchers as a cautionary dictum. To the authors of World Health Report 2000, it functioned as its opposite—a method to justify a preconceived agenda. The shame is that so many people, including leaders in whom we must repose our trust and whom we expect to make informed decisions based on the best and most complete data, made such blatant use of its patently false and overtly politicized claims.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:09 PM | Permalink

The most selfish generation

A recent survey by US Trust of 457 high net worth individuals revealed that the Boomer Wealthy Are Saving Inheritance for Themselves.

"These are mainly self-made people," 50 percent of whom said they paid a price in personal relationships and possibly their own health when they made their wealth, US Trust President Keith Banks told CNBC. So they think "I’m going to get a return on that investment for myself, number one, and maybe my children down the road."

Far from the 'greatest generation', boomers are the most selfish generation.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:38 AM | Permalink

"You’ve got brilliance down. Now give competence a try" "

One year into the real world, Brian Bolduc gives advice to Harvard grads-to-be.

As you cogitate on your entrance into the real world, let me be the first to say, “Come on in! The water’s cold and unforgiving.”

Sobriety aside, I’m sorry to inform you that your diploma won’t give you the one thing necessary to survival: common sense.
---
College is a holiday from history, during which you have few real responsibilities—that is, the kind you can’t talk your way out of. After four years of it, you get to be a little spoiled. Because when you spend all our time thinking about mortgage-backed securities or the Arab Spring, you forget that eventually, you have to pay the rent. You start to think you don’t have time for the little things. You start to think you’re above them.

Thankfully, some real-world experience will teach you otherwise. No, it won’t teach you “what you want out of grad school.” (You already knew the answer to that: money.) Rather, it will teach you that life isn’t just about thinking big ideas and making big moves. It’s also about paying the bills and washing the dishes. It’s about being responsible for yourself and cognizant of others. It’s about humility.
--
So cheer up, Harvard grads-to-be. You’re about to enter adult life. You’ve got brilliance down. Now give competence a try.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:21 AM | Permalink

April 27, 2011

More than a photo less than a video

Have you ever seen a photo move?    Outside of Harry Potter movies that is. 

Artists develop amazing cinemagraphs that take 'stills' to the next level

It is, in their own words, ‘something more than a photo but less than a video’.

Two artists have created a new way to to record your special moments - pictures with movement.

The ‘cinemagraphs’ look like still photos but actually feature a subtle area of movement designed to grab your eye and keep you looking. The effect is slightly eerie - but utterly captivating.

I can't embed these photos so you have to click the link to see them.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:06 AM | Permalink

April 26, 2011

The Medicare Heist

Medicare as we known it isn't an option.  Betsy McCaughey

Medicare as we've always known it is already gone. It was eviscerated by President Obama's health law.
--
The truth is that the Obama health law reduces future funding for Medicare by $575 billion over the next 10 years and spends the money on other programs, including a vast expansion of Medicaid. In 2019, Medicare spending under the Obama health law is projected to be $14,731 per senior, instead of $16,162 if the law had not passed, according to Medicare actuaries (Health Affairs, October 2010).
--
The fact is that Mr. Obama's law raids Medicare. Mr. Ryan's plan, on the other hand, stops the Medicare heist and puts the funds "saved" in this decade toward health care for another generation of retirees.

Beginning in 2022, the Ryan plan offers each new Medicare enrollee a choice of private health plans and a premium paid to the plan they choose. The key is that the premium will be equivalent to what Medicare is projected to spend under the Obama health law: $15,000 a year on average, more for the oldest enrollees, less for the youngest, all inflation adjusted.
__
The Ryan proposal also includes a $7,800 annual medical savings account to help low-income seniors with out-of-pocket costs.
--
So what can retiring Americans count on in 2022 and after? The Obama health law leaves that up to an unelected board of presidential appointees called the Independent Payment Advisory Board, a cost-cutting panel.
--
Will Americans now in their 40s and 50s choose to put their health care in the hands of this cost-cutting board, or pick their own health plan when they retire? Whatever decision the nation makes should not turn on the false claim that President Obama has protected Medicare.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:09 PM | Permalink

"In God We Trust"

"In God We Trust", inscribed on all our currency is a "non religious recognition of the faith of the nation's founders in a higher power as the source of all rights" ruled the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, a ruling the US Supreme Court declined to review. Newdow vs. Lefevre, 10-892.

–In God We Trust Coin

Professional plaintiff Michael Newdow, an atheist, had claimed that the phrase on currency amounts of an endorsement of religion and violates his rights under the First Amendment.

However, the origin of that amendment is attributed by historians to the founding fathers’ desire to avoid an official federally-supported church, like the Church of England, and was not intended to exclude religious expression in public life.

In July 2010, another federal appeals court in the District of Columbia ruled 3-0 in favor the national motto’s constitutionality under the First Amendment.

“It is quite obvious that the national motto and slogan on coinage and currency ‘In God We Trust’ has nothing whatsoever to do with the establishment of religion,” wrote the panel, quoting the 1970 decision, Aronow v. United States.

Father Barron explains Why It Matters That Our Democracy Trusts in God. 

It's the only way we can justify our 'inalienable rights' of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.    Only if these rights exist prior to king or state can they be protected from the king or state.  Otherwise, the king or the state is
free to grant, nullify or deny those rights that do not serve their purposes.

Even the United Nations in The Universal Declaration of Human Rights posits human dignity as the foundation of those rights.    We Americans are just more forthright about where that dignity comes from.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:09 AM | Permalink

What is fairness? UPDATED

Why is it that simple common sense and the innate sense of fairness we all possess so eludes policy makers and politicians?

Welfare handouts aren't fair - and the public knows it

Like a mythical traveller seeking truth, a think tank has asked a profound question: what is fairness? And lo, the people have answered with (almost) one voice: what "fair" means is that those who are deserving shall receive, and those who are not shall be – well, not exactly cast out, but certainly not entitled to everything that's going.
--

The quite unequivocal reply that was received (with breathtakingly enormous majorities in some forms) came as no surprise to this column. To most voters, fairness does not mean an equal distribution of resources and wealth, or even a redistribution of these things according to need. It means, as the report's title – "Just Deserts" – implies, that people get what they deserve. And what is deserved, the respondents made clear, refers to that which is achieved by effort, talent or dedication to duty: in other words, earned on merit.
--
No, they say, as often as not, poverty is a consequence of lack of effort or self-control – and, therefore, the individual must accept the consequences. And they do not believe that such character failings and their consequences should be disregarded in the apportioning of welfare or help from the state – help which they know is made possible by the efforts of those who do "the right thing". They still have a firm and undaunted conception of the "undeserving poor" – a term so unfashionable that no politician would be capable of uttering it – and would like such people to be made to accept their reciprocal obligation to society in return for any assistance from public funds.

Even in California, in a poll, voters want a cap of pensions and a later retirement age to help balance the budget though no one expects Governor Jerry Brown to challenge the public unions. After all,  he was the governor who, in 1978, signed the bills giving public employees collective bargaining rights in the first place.

UPDATE:  More on that California poll from MIckey Kaus

The LAT doesn’t point it out, but there’s a huge gap between the preferences of “white” voters and “Latino” voters in the paper’s poll when it comes to cutting pension benefits for public workers or raising their retirement age. On the issue of cutting retirement benefits of future government employees, whites are 62-32 in favor. Latinos are 53-39 against. On raising the retirement age, the gap’s even bigger: whites favor it by a margin of 33 percentage points (63/30). Latinos oppose it by a margin of 16 points (39/55).

Americans depended more on government assistance in 2010 than at any other time in the nation’s history, a USA TODAY analysis of federal data finds. The trend shows few signs of easing, even though the economic recovery is nearly 2 years old.

A record 18.3% of the nation’s total personal income was a payment from the government for Social Security, Medicare, food stamps, unemployment benefits and other programs in 2010. Wages accounted for the lowest share of income — 51.0% — since the government began keeping track in 1929.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:09 AM | Permalink

April 24, 2011

The most important things in life can't be seen with the eyes

How Easter and Christianity undermine atheism

Of course, it’s not quite fair to say that atheists believe in nothing. They do believe in something — the philosophical theory known as Materialism, which states that the only thing that exists is matter; that all substances and all phenomena in the universe are purely physical.

The problem is that this really isn’t a theory at all. It’s a superstition; a myth that basically says that everything in life — our thoughts, our emotions, our hopes, our ambitions, our passions, our memories, our philosophies, our politics, our beliefs in God and salvation and damnation — that all of this is merely the result of biochemical reactions and the movement of molecules in our brain.
What nonsense.
--
But the most important things in life can’t be seen with the eyes. Ideas can’t be seen. Love can’t be seen. Honor can’t be seen. This isn’t a new concept. Judaism and Christianity and Islam and Buddhism have all taught for thousands of years that the highest forms of reality are invisible and mysterious. And these realities will never be reducible to clear-cut scientific formulae for the simple reason that they will never be fully comprehensible to the human mind. God didn’t mean them to be.
--

If human beings were going to invent a religion based on wishful thinking, they could come up with something a lot “easier” than Christianity. After all, why not wish for a religion that promised eternal life in heaven, but at the same time allowed promiscuous sex, encouraged gluttony, did away with all the commandments, and forbade anyone to ever mention the idea of judgment and punishment?

Wouldn’t that make a lot more sense? And yet, atheists persist in this ridiculous notion that human beings “invented” God merely because we’re afraid of death and want to see our dead relatives again. Amazing.
--
Because aside from all the logical arguments for God’s existence and all the miracles and all the truths contained in Scripture, one simple fact remains: 2,000 years ago, on that first, quiet Easter Sunday morning, Christ did rise.

 Resurrection Chronatlantis

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:19 PM | Permalink

April 21, 2011

Triduum

I retreat now to celebrate the Triduum and leave behind links to a few articles I read and liked this Holy Week.

The Entire Mystery of Christ
And so today the week without compare since the creation of the world begins. Suffering, death, resurrection – all of it strange, even the resurrection tough to take in, given how it comes about. You can see that in the way the apostles are still stunned, for no little time, despite the empty tomb.

 Lamb Of God

Good Friday, Holy Day on Ice by John Zmirak
A holy day, but the farthest thing from a holiday, at least in the sense of that Katharine Hepburn movie. Holy means something set apart, stark and appalling, like the burning bush that Moses feared to look on lest he would die; like the precinct of the Inner Temple where once a year the Jewish high priest would, on the Day of Atonement, whisper the Name of God. What rendered that old place sacred was the piling up of prayers and bloody sin offerings, and it's hard for us moderns to fathom what that must have meant -- how ancients could feel reverence and awe in a place full of cattle entrails, smoking corpses, and running blood. But that's what the ancient Temple was, and perhaps remembering that can help us more rightly approach the Cross.

Heather King on Finishing the Race: Christ as Athlete and Agoniste
The Crucifixion was Christ's "race." He trained all his life. He took the gravest of risks. Like my runner friend, he declined to measure effort in a rational or strategic way. He worked up his bloody sweat, his agonia, in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before. He endured betrayal, scorn, ridicule, and all the evil in men's hearts. He bore the scourge, the crown of thorns, the sponge soaked in gall, the nails. With his last drop of strength, he consoled the thief beside him. With his dying breath, he commended his spirit to God. He refused to return violence for violence and thereby established the eternal triumph of faith over fear, love over hatred, good over evil, life over death. He finished the course.

Taking the Measure of Relics of the True Cross

Once he had estimated the weight of the cross, de Fleury calculated the size, or more accurately, volume, of the cross, which came to 10,900 cubic inches. But the total volume of all the fragments he had measured came to only 240 cubic inches. The number surprised him, so he made a generous allowance for fragments that were in private hands or otherwise had not come to his attention, as well as fragments that had been lost over the centuries or destroyed in war or during the vandalism of the Reformation. He multiplied his original number by 10 and arrived at a new figure: 2,400 cubic inches, not even a fifth of the estimated size of the cross upon which Christ was crucified.

Lee Strobel, How Easter Killed My Faith in Atheism
It was the worst news I could get as an atheist: my agnostic wife had decided to become a Christian. Two words shot through my mind. The first was an expletive; the second was “divorce.”

Easter: The beginning of a new and unspeakable joy,
C.S. Lewis captured this basic Christian understanding very clearly when he wrote that, “Christianity is a thing of unspeakable joy. But it begins not in joy, but in wretchedness, and it does no good to try to get to the joy by bypassing the wretchedness.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:17 AM | Permalink

"Austerity and decline are what will come if we do not reform the welfare state." Austerity and decline are what will come if we do not reform the welfare state.

A candidate for best essay of the year,  Beyond the Welfare State by Yuval Levin, editor of National Affairs.


It is becoming increasingly clear that we in America are living through a period of transition. One chapter of our national life is closing, and another is about to begin. We can sense this in
the tense volatility of our electoral politics, as dramatic "change elections" follow closely upon one another. We can feel it in the unseemly mood of decline that has infected our public life — leaving our usually cheerful nation fretful about global competition and unsure if the next generation will be able to live as well as the present one. Perhaps above all, we can discern it in an overwhelming sense of exhaustion emanating from many of our public institutions — our creaking mid-century transportation infrastructure, our overburdened regulatory agencies struggling to keep pace with a dynamic economy, our massive entitlement system edging toward insolvency.

But these are mostly symptoms of our mounting unease. The most significant cause runs deeper. We have the feeling that
profound and unsettling change is afoot because the vision that has dominated our political imagination for a century — the vision of the social-democratic welfare state — is drained and growing bankrupt, and it is not yet clear just what will take its place.
--
The fact is that we do not face a choice between the liberal welfare state on one hand and austerity on the other. Those are two sides of the same coin:
Austerity and decline are what will come if we do not reform the welfare state.
---

Our welfare state is very poorly suited to the kind of society we are — an aging society in which older people are, on the whole, wealthier than younger people. And it is very poorly suited to the kind of society we want to be — enterprising and vibrant, with a free economy, devoted to social mobility and eager to offer a hand up to the poor. A successful reform agenda would have to take account of both.

It would begin not from the assumption that capitalism is dehumanizing, but rather from the
sense that too many people do not have access to capitalism's benefits. It would start not from the presumption that traditional practices and institutions must be overcome by rational administration, but rather from the firm conviction that family, church, and civil society are the means by which human beings find fulfillment and are essential counterweights to the market. It would reject the notion that universal dependence can build solidarity, and insist instead that only self-reliance, responsibility, and discipline can build mutual respect and character in a free society. It would seek to help the poor not with an empty promise of material equality but with a fervent commitment to upward mobility. It would reject the top-down bureaucratic state in favor of consumer choice and competition. It would insist on the distinction between a welfare program and a welfare state — between directed efforts to help the poor avail themselves of meaningful opportunities and a broad project to remake society along social-democratic lines.
--

We need it above all because the decline of the social-democratic welfare state risks persuading us, falsely, that America's fate is to decline along with it. On the contrary, America's fate is, as it always has been, to show the world by example how a commitment to human liberty and equality, an application of republican virtues, a belief in individual ingenuity and drive, and an unswerving devotion to helping the least among us rise can defy the cynics and the pessimists, and can make future generations proud to succeed us.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:00 AM | Permalink

"It blew up like a bomb. It spattered all over."

More on just how dangerous those compact fluorescent bulbs are.

The CFL Fraud

A compact fluorescent light (CFL) on the ceiling burst and started a fire in a home in Hornell, N.Y. December 23, 2010.  "Those are the lights everybody's been telling us to use," said Joe Gerych, Steuben County Fire Inspector.  "It blew up like a bomb. It spattered all over."  Fire Chief Mike Robbins said the blaze destroyed the room where the fire started and everything in it, and the rest of the house suffered smoke and water damage.  The Arkport Village Fire Department as well as the North Hornell Fire Department required about 15 minutes to put out the fire

And this from England: Energy saving light bulbs 'contain cancer causing chemicals'

Their report advises that the bulbs should not be left on for extended periods, particularly near someone’s head, as they emit poisonous materials when switched on.

Peter Braun, who carried out the tests at the Berlin's Alab Laboratory, said: “For such carcinogenic substances it is important they are kept as far away as possible from the human environment.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:19 AM | Permalink

4 useful new words

Some useful new words petrichor, zarf, chanking, scroop,

10 Things You Didn't Know Had Names

1. You know how it smells after it rains? That clean, greenish smell? That’s petrichor, from the Greek petra (stone) and ichor (the blood of Greek gods and goddesses). The term was coined by two Australian researchers in 1964.

2. Originally, a
zarf was a metal chalice keep the heat from your coffee from burning your fingers. The fancy cupholder has morphed into the modern-day cardboard sleeve that comes wrapped around your hot coffee.

3.
Chanking: Chewed-up food that’s been spit out. (Try to avoid giving us reason to use this one, ok?)

4.
Scroop is the rustling, swooshy sound ballgowns make. More specifically, it’s the sound produced by the movement of silk
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:10 AM | Permalink

IPAB 'Death Panel' ?

Remember that acronym.  It stands for the Independent Payment Advisory Board.  It is the single biggest difference between the President's plan and Paul Ryan's Plan.

In his speech on the deficit, Obama pointed to IPAB as an answer to Paul Ryan’s plan. In Ryan’s vision, competition among insurers will force efficiencies and lower prices. Under Obama’s plan, in contrast, health-care prices for the elderly would be controlled by IPAB. Ryan’s plan puts consumers in the driver’s seat, but also exposes them to the risk of bad choices and limited subsidies. While Obama’s plan offers government-guaranteed care, IPAB’s price controls will lead to one-size-fits-all rationing. As IPAB caps Medicare payments for various services, the elderly will be unable to obtain many kinds of care, or will experience de facto rationing via long treatment delays and sharp declines in the quality of care. And by the way, IPAB rationing will hit many current seniors, whereas Ryan’s reform of Medicare will never affect anyone now 55 or older.

Stanley Kurtz has more on IPAB, Obama and Socialism

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:35 AM | Permalink

April 19, 2011

Royal wedding

And if you haven't seen the T-Mobile Royal Wedding, it's a hoot.  The royal look-a-likes are amazing.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:10 AM | Permalink

Tickling a penguin

A sound I've never heard before, a penguin being tickled.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:05 AM | Permalink

April 18, 2011

Hiding in front of screens

 Notice-Hereby-Given-Cellphone

                    Neatorama image

It just went so well with the New York Times story Keep Your Thumbs Still When I’m Talking to You

In places all over America (theaters, sports arenas, apartments), people gather in groups only to disperse into lone pursuits between themselves and their phones.
---
When someone you are trying to talk to ends up getting busy on a phone, the most natural response is not to scold, but to emulate. It’s mutually assured distraction.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:57 PM | Permalink

"Never be afraid to die. Because you're born to die"

Walter Breuning, the world's oldest man, died of natural causes at the age of 114 in Great Falls, Montana.

He remembered his grandfather's stories about killing southerners in the Civil War.

That first decade of the 1900s was literally a dark age for his family. They had no electricity or running water. A bath for young Walter would require his mother to fetch water from the well outside and heat it on the coal-burning stove. When they wanted to get around, they had three options: train, horse and foot.

His parents split up and Breuning moved back to Minnesota in 1912. The following year, the teenager got a low-level job with the Great Northern Railway in Melrose.

"I'm 16 years old, had to go to work on account of breakup of the family," he said.
--
"Everybody got laid off in the '30s," Breuning said. "Nobody had any money at all."

People began to arrive in Great Falls searching for work. He recalled transplants from North Dakota telling tales of desperate families pulling weeds from the ground and cooking them up for food.

---
Work was a constant in Breuning's life, what he did to get through the hard times and what he used to keep his mind active. One of the worst things a person can do is retire young, Breuning said.

"I remember we had a worker in the First National Bank one time retired early. He wanted to go fishing and hunting so bad. Two months (later) and he went back to the bank. He got his fishing and hunting all done and he wanted to go back to work," Breuning said.

"Don't retire until you're darn sure that you can't work anymore. Keep on working as long as you can work and you'll find that it's good for you," he added.


 Walter Breuning 244X183

In interviews in the years before his death, Walter Breuning passed on what he had learned from life.

Embrace change, even when the change slaps you in the face. ("Every change is good.")

Eat two meals a day ("That's all you need.")

Work as long as you can ("That money's going to come in handy.")

Help others ("The more you do for others, the better shape you're in.")

Then there's the hardest part. It's a lesson Breuning said he learned from his grandfather: Accept death.

"We're going to die. Some people are scared of dying. Never be afraid to die. Because you're born to die," he said.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:01 AM | Permalink

Environmental insanity and fraud

50 million climate refugees

That's what the UN Environment Programme predicted in 2005.  How embarrassing is reality?  So embarrassing, the UN tried to wipe all evidence of that preposterous claim.    Tim Blair has more on the 50 million missing.

In England, they are using llamas to carry fish up a mountain to escape global warming. 

So what's happened to all those carbon trading schemes?

In the U.S. The Chicago climate exchange closed up trading for good

In the U.K. after seven arrests in carbon trading scam, organized crime said to be involved

In the EU.  European commission freezes carbon markets indefinitely

In Australia, “A Sydney carbon credits company thought to have been running some of the world’s biggest offsets deals appears to be a fake, shifting paper certificates instead of saving forests and cutting greenhouse emissions.” 
How could you tell?

"Climate FAIL" files will be  a new permanent feature at Wattsupwiththat, the world's most viewed climate website.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:49 AM | Permalink

April 14, 2011

The Book That Made Your World

First,  Chinese leaders say that Christianity was the reason for the West's success, now we have an Indian philosopher who says the Bible created the soul of Western civilization and sees India's need for the "reforming power of the Bible".   

While Christianity is scorned and belittled by the secular elites in Europe and the USA, dynamic, growing,  forward-looking countries are seeing  Christianity and its positive impact on society more clearly.

Does the Bible Matter In the 21st Century?

The cancer at the heart of America’s political economy is cultural. This great nation was built by an ethic – a spirituality that taught citizens to work, earn, save, invest, and use their wealth to serve their neighbors. This biblical ethic has been replaced by secularism’s entitlement culture that teaches people that they have a right to this, that and the other without corresponding obligations to work, save, and serve. This new culture forces the state to take from productive citizens or borrow from other nations and spend it on man-made rights. This corruption of character is destroying the world’s greatest economy, but can democracy allow leaders to go against the voters’ voice?
---
The West became great because biblical monogamy harnessed sexual energy to build strong families, women, children, and men.

Human history knows no force other than the Bible that has the capacity to dam sexual energy to build powerful families and nations. Indeed, no non-biblical culture has ever been able to require husbands to “love your wives” and give them the spiritual resources to do so.

The author of this piece, Vishai Mangalwadi, an Indian philosopher, is also the author of "The Book That Made Your World: How the Bible Created the Soul of Western Civilization" which will be published in May.

 Vishal Mangalwadi

From his website, his bio

Vishal Mangalwadi (1949-) is an international lecturer, social reformer, political columnist, and author of thirteen books. Born and raised in India, he studied philosophy at universities, in Hindu ashrams, and at L’Abri Fellowship in Switzerland. In 1976 he turned down several job offers in the West to return to India where he and his wife, Ruth, founded a community to serve the rural poor. Vishal continued his involvement in community development serving at the headquarters of two national political parties, where he worked for the empowerment and liberation of peasants and the lower castes.
--
Vishal and Ruth are currently in the United States for the production of a television documentary, The Book of the Millennium: How the Bible Changed Civilization, a project inspired by Vishal and Ruth's recognition of India's need for the reforming power of the Bible.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:31 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

How science loses credibility

Two prominent bioethicists on the danger of discounting ethics and overselling science.

Stem Cells: The Scientists knew They Were Lying

AC: Here’s an assertion that you hear all the time: “Stem-cell research will help Alzheimer’s.” But stem cell research has no possibility of helping Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s is a gunk-up-the-brain disease, where every cell is affected. You can’t fix it by any sort of stem cell research. Model it? Maybe. Cure it? Never.

RG: In 2003 or 2004, a major Washington Post article quoting the central authorities on this made exactly the same point. Now that’s the kind of dishonesty that threatens to alienate the public from science. Because even if the public buys it in the beginning, and the scientists win the political debate, when they can’t deliver on the promises they made, people’s faith in scientists—crucial for the funding of science—is placed in jeopardy.

It's a stem cell war.  Unlike embryonic stem cells, adult stem cells do have a record of healing, but you wouldn't know it from the media

“That happens all the time!” an exasperated Dr. Theresa Deisher told me. Deisher is the Stanford-trained biotech researcher whose lawsuit last year shut down government funding of ESCR for 17 days. I discovered that the controversial scientist, profiled recently in the journal Nature as the “Sarah Palin of stem cells,” works just up the street from me in Seattle. “People are treated with adult stem cells and they twist the story to promote embryonic stem cells,” she said.

---
We can do well, helping people to get well, by doing good and refraining from doing harm to innocent life. How unfortunate that when it comes to treatments with adult stem cells — for stroke, diabetes, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, and other maladies — the government is reluctant to make an adequate investment--
----
The real war here is not a war on science. It’s a war on truth.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:09 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

April 13, 2011

The Sexual Cesspool that is Yale

Megahn Clyne, Managing Editor of National Affairs on How Yale became a sexual cesspool.

You can pin much of this idiocy -- the Women's Center's no less than the frat guys' -- on the eternal foolishness of youth. The real blame falls on those who should have known better: the adults of Yale officialdom.

But they've largely stood silent -- or participated -- as Yale's "climate" has grown thicker with sexual exhibitionism.
--

So, can school administrators find the spine to stand up to the agitators on their campuses and impose some standards of sexual decency? They'll face charges of censorship, especially at public schools, but they don't have to grant official imprimatur to hypersexual groups and activities or let them use college facilities. They needn't be puritans, just insist on the basic norms that govern life outside the academic bubble.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:24 PM | Permalink

An Education in Entrepreneurship

Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert, says Forget art history and calculus.  Most students need to learn how to run a business.

 Scott-Adams-Cartoon

How to Get a Real Education

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:37 PM | Permalink

Blueberries and apples are really, really good for you

Blueberries can slash body's fat cells by up to three-quarters

Slimmers should start snacking on blueberries, as they slash the number of fat cells in the body by up to three-quarters, say scientists.

Researchers found the fruit can break down existing fat cells and prevent new ones from forming, making them a potentially powerful weapon in the fight against rising obesity.

  Blueberries

Blueberries, which have already been lauded as a superfood for their ability to help prevent heart disease and Type-2 diabetes, contain high levels of polyphenols – groups of chemicals with potential health benefits.

Tests revealed polyphenols can cut the number of fat cells in the body by 73 per cent with a large dose and 27 per cent with the smallest dose, the American Society for Nutrition’s Experimental Biology

Apple a day does keep the doctor away

It found that women on an 'apple diet' saw their cholesterol drop by almost a quarter in six months, while they also lost weight.

Dr Bahram Arjmandi, of the department of nutrition, food and exercise sciences at Florida University, described the results as "incredible"

 Apples

In the study, 80 women aged 45 to 65 were asked to eat 75 grams of dried prunes a day for a year, and the other 80 were asked to eat the same amount of dried apple, in addition to their normal diets.

Blood samples were taken at the start of the study and at three, six and 12 months.  Dr Arjmandi said that "incredible changes in the apple-eating women happened by 6 months- they experienced a 23 per cent decrease in LDL cholesterol, which is known as the 'bad cholesterol'."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:22 PM | Permalink

Suicidal government and political overload

I always pay attention to what Robert Samuelson has to say.  Here he writes about Big Government on the Brink.

We in America have created suicidal government; the threatened federal shutdown and stubborn budget deficits are but symptoms. By suicidal, I mean that government has promised more than it can realistically deliver and, as a result, repeatedly disappoints by providing less than people expect or jeopardizing what they already have. But government can't easily correct its excesses, because Americans depend on it for so much that any effort to change the status arouses a firestorm of opposition that virtually ensures defeat. Government's very expansion has brought it into disrepute, paralyzed politics and impeded it from acting in the national interest.
--
We deploy government casually to satisfy any mass desire, correct any perceived social shortcoming or remedy any market deficiency. What has abetted this political sprawl, notes Wilson, is the rising influence of "action intellectuals" -- professors, pundits, "experts" -- who provide respectable rationales for various political agendas.

The consequence is political overload: The system can no longer make choices, especially unpleasant choices, for the good of the nation as a whole.

Peggy Noonan wrote in 2005

I think that a lot of people are carrying around in their heads, unarticulated and even in some cases unnoticed, a sense that the wheels are coming off the trolley and the trolley off the tracks. That in some deep and fundamental way things have broken down and can't be fixed, or won't be fixed any time soon.

She quotes Christopher Lawford who wrote in his remembrance of his family, an anecdote about Ted Kennedy.

Then, writes Mr. Lawford, Teddy "took a long, slow gulp of his vodka and tonic, thought for a moment, and changed tack. 'I'm glad I'm not going to be around when you guys are my age.' I asked him why, and he said, 'Because when you guys are my age, the whole thing is going to fall apart.' "

Mr. Lawford continued, "The statement hung there, suspended in the realm of 'maybe we shouldn't go there.' Nobody wanted to touch it. After a few moments of heavy silence, my uncle moved on."

Now that we all agreed that the whole thing is falling apart and we need real leadership before we , the President continues to disappoint, dissemble and distort the facts.    Federal spending in up 84% under Obama

Cometh the Hour, Punteth the Man says Mark Steyn

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:08 PM | Permalink

April 12, 2011

Parenting with less work, more fun

Bryan Caplan in the Wall Street Journal offers his Twin Lessons: Have More Kids, Pay Less Attention to Them

The most prominent conclusion of twin research is that practically everything—health, intelligence, happiness, success, personality, values, interests—is partly genetic. The evidence is straightforward: Identical twins are more similar than fraternal twins in almost every way—even when the twins are separated at birth. But twin research has another far more amazing lesson: With a few exceptions, the effect of parenting on adult outcomes ranges from small to zero.

Once I became a dad, I noticed that parents around me had a different take on the power of nurture. I saw them turning parenthood into a chore—shuttling their kids to activities even the kids didn’t enjoy, forbidding television, desperately trying to make their babies eat another spoonful of vegetables. Parents’ main rationale is that their effort is an investment in their children’s future; they’re sacrificing now to turn their kids into healthy, smart, successful, well-adjusted adults.  But according to decades of twin research, their rationale is just, well, wrong. 
High-strung parenting isn’t dangerous, but it does make being a parent a lot more work and less fun than it has to be.

He calls it Serenity Parenting

Focus on enjoying your journey with your child, instead of trying to control his destination. Accept that your child’s future depends mostly on him, not your sacrifices. Realize that the point of discipline is to make your kid treat the people around him decently—not to mold him into a better adult.  I can’t say that I completely convinced my wife on any of these points, but we made reasonable compromises—and we found that raising twins was a lot of fun.
--
My disbelief in the power of nurture, by the same logic, made me eager to have more kids.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:45 PM | Permalink

April 11, 2011

Two stories of school reform

Two stories of school reform: the first, a long piece in the NYTimes magazine, The Fragile Success of School Reform in the Bronx 

This community is in crisis,” he said. “The literacy test scores that we have in our community are 23 percent. That is a scary number. What that means is that 23 percent of our kids are on pace to graduate from high school and go to college. Go to college. That doesn’t mean they’re going to finish college. Twenty-three percent. We cannot sustain our community on 23 percent. We have to be reading with our children. That’s the only way we’re going to change this scary statistic.”

It's a story we've read before, intrepid, committed teachers facing the challenges of students with poor study habits, the long reach of poverty, constant  battles with bureaucracy,  and uninvolved parents

On my way out of 223, I saw Hill, a cheerful, plain-spoken woman, putting away unclaimed gift bags in a supply closet. She was clearly frustrated by the school’s indifferent parents. “Even knowing that they’re going to get two free bags of clothing from Dress Barn, we can’t get one person — not one person — to come to a C.E.C.” — Community Education Council — “meeting,” she said, shaking her head. “At least we can say we’re trying.”  Still, Ramon Gonzalez, principal of 223, can point to a thriving school even without supportive parents.

Totally different is St.Jerome's Catholic school in Richmond where the idea of a classical education for children is taking hold.    Embracing a Classical Education.

“Classical” education aims to include instruction on the virtues and a love of truth, goodness and beauty in ordinary lesson plans. Students learn the arts, sciences and literature starting with classical Greek and Roman sources. Wisdom and input from ancient church fathers, Renaissance theologians and even Mozart — whose music is sometimes piped into the classrooms to help students concentrate better — is worked in.
--
“The classical vision is about introducing our students to the true, the good, the beautiful,” Principal Mary Pat Donoghue points out. “So what’s on our walls are classical works of art. You won’t see Snoopy here.”
--
Classical theory divides childhood development into three stages known as the trivium: grammar, logic and rhetoric. During the “grammar” years (kindergarten through fourth grade), children soak up knowledge. They memorize, absorb facts, learn the rules of phonics and spelling, recite poetry, and study plants, animals, basic math and other topics. Moral lessons are included.
--
In the “logic” stage (roughly grades five through eight), children learn to analyze, question, discern and evaluate. Students learn to think through arguments, pay attention to cause and effect and begin to see how facts fit together. This is where the study of algebra and how to propose and support a thesis comes in.

The “rhetoric” stage (grades nine through 12) concentrates on acquiring wisdom and applying knowledge. Students learn to express themselves persuasively.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:20 AM | Permalink

Bring me sunshine

It's a cloudy Monday morning, so here is some sunshine to start the week, thanks to the Jive Aces.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:02 AM | Permalink

April 9, 2011

Weekend Catchup: London stags, the Pope and a beggar, morphine, beer and discrimination

London's secret wildlife wonderland revealed by photographer who rose at dawn every day to capture studding images.

 Londonstags Alexsaberi

The photographer is Alex Saberi.

 Swan Dawn Alexsaberi

From the Deacon's Bench, the beauty of humility in a wonderful story  about Pope John Paul 2 and the  beggar

Waste Ash from Coal Could Save Billions in Repairing US Bridges and Roads

Coating concrete destined to rebuild America's crumbling bridges and roadways with some of the millions of tons of ash left over from burning coal could extend the life of those structures by decades, saving billions of dollars of taxpayer money, scientists reported in Anaheim, California at the 241st National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society on March 29. They reported on a new coating material for concrete made from flyash that is hundreds of times more durable than existing coatings and costs only half as much.

A literary appreciation for paper pushers and makers of boilerplate

Indeed, the boilerplate metaphor could itself be a metaphor for a larger transformation, two centuries in the making, that has taken many of us away from extracting coal and forging iron and assembling boilers toward waiting for an inspector to come sign off on a certificate that needs to be filed with the local Department of Buildings.

Meditation 'better than morphine' at easing pain

'One of the reasons that meditation may have been so effective in blocking pain  was that it did not work at just one place in the brain but instead reduced  pain at multiple levels of processing.

The Lenten fast on beer only continues

For the 46 days of Lent, J. Wilson is forgoing solid food and only drinking beer and water - just as Bavarian monks did hundreds of years ago.

Wilson is a husband, father, newspaper editor and beer enthusiast. The 38-year-old is the proprietor of the beer blog
brewvana, where the motto is, "An ideal condition of harmony, beer and joy."

"Three hundred or four hundred years ago, a group of Paulaner monks in a Bavarian region had made a stronger beer in a town called Einbeck and they called it bock. The monks started making a stronger beer, a double beer, called doppelbock," Sorensen said. "The story goes the monks would give up eating and literally would drink this 'liquid bread' to sustain them through their Lenten fast."

How's it going?  Here's Wilson's diary of a part-time monk

In the four months of their honeymoon, a Swedish couple survived six natural disasters: severe snowstorm, cyclone, flooding, bush fires and two earthquakes in Christchurch, New Zealand and Tokyo. 

Conflict History Browse the timeline of war and conflict across the world and down the centuries.

One man makes a shocking confession.  The Cause of All Discrimination? Me.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:17 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

April 8, 2011

Stunning and beautiful virtual choir

They've Never Met, But 2,051 Singers Perform Together

American composer Eric Whitacre is a rock star in choral circles. His music is performed by amateur and professional choirs alike, his chiseled good looks have earned him a modeling contract, and, Thursday night, he unveils his Virtual Choir 2.0 on YouTube.

The video has been viewed more than 2 million times on YouTube.  It is very beautiful and visually stunning.

What a terrific performance.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:23 PM | Permalink

Mature and Intrepid Gentlemen

What a terrific group of guys and what an adventure!

Elderly Adventure: 85-Year-Old Makes it Across Atlantic on a Raft

What do you do when you're 85 and get compensation money from a car accident? You blow is on a raft and sail the Atlantic.

With whales and mahi-mahi for company, Londoner Anthony Smith and three retiree friends sailed their raft made of pipes, dubbed the An-Tiki, from the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa to the Caribbean island of St. Maartens. Sixty-six days and 2,800 miles later, the crew reached St. Maartens on Wednesday.

They made the trip to raise money for WaterAid, a British nonprofit which brings drinking water to poor communities, and to prove the elderly are capable of embarking on adventures frequently considered dangerous.

"Some people say it was mad," Anthony Smith told the Associated Press. "But it wasn't mad. What else do you do when you get on in years?"

To recruit his team of "mature and intrepid gentlemen," Smith, a former science correspondent for the BBC, placed an advertisement in British newspaper The Daily Telegraph.

It read:  "Fancy rafting across the Atlantic? Famous traveller requires 3 crew. Must be OAP. Serious adventurers only."

-Anthony-Smith-Sailor-


A stroke of bad luck paid for the trip, courtesy of Smith, who was hit by a van and broke his hip.

"I got some compensation money," he said. "So what do you blow the compensation money on? You blow it on a raft."

The crew departed from the Canary Islands after bad weather delayed their trip for about a month. Smith delivered a farewell speech – in nearly impeccable Spanish – to a crowd gathered on the dock and then waved goodbye.

The raft was loaded with food including oranges, avocados, potatoes, cabbages and a pumpkin. Once the store-bought bread was consumed, sailing master David Hildred began making it from scratch in a small oven.
--

"Yes, of course it's a success," Smith said with a smile. "How many people do you know who have rafted across the Atlantic? ... The word mutiny was only spoken about two or three times a day."
Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:09 PM | Permalink

Facing criminal charges for called Chechan al-Qaeda leader a "terrorist"

 

In Finland, a Priest May Be Defrocked, Facing Criminal Charges for Calling Chechen al-Qaeda Leader a "Terrorist"

A priest in Finland faces being defrocked after describing one of the world’s most-wanted criminals as a ‘terrorist’. He was referring to Doku Umarov — the man behind the Moscow metro and airport bombings, among other crimes.

He received death threats and when he reported them to police, he was prosecuted for hate speech crimes. He is now considering moving to Russia because he believes it there is more liberty there than in politically correct Finland.

Juha Molari is not a Catholic priest, but a Lutheran one in a 'national church' supported by the state.
The Lutheran Church now wants to defrock him for promoting religious intolerance.

Doku Umarov is a Chechan Islamist leader in Russia who claimed responsibility for the 2010 Moscow Metro bombings (40 civilians killed) and the 2011 Moscow airport bombing  (36 civilians killed), injuring hundreds.  Called 'Russia's Bid Laden', the United Nations Security Council added him to the list of individuals associated with Al Qaeda.

Molari gave fiery speeches against the website Kavkaz Centre, the internet outlet for Doku Umarov, a site banned in Russia and many other European countries, a site where extremists freely air their views. 

After a death threat which promised to behead him and his family, Molari divorced his wife so she and his children could flee for safety. 

Johan Backman, the chairman of the Finnish-Caucasus Friendship Society, says the case reflects anti-Russian feeling in the EU.

“He has told the Finnish public the truth about the activities of Doku Umarov in Finland because in Finland, the information channel of terrorists, the so-called Kavkaz Center has been operating for several years without any kind of reaction from the government or officials of Finland,” Backman said. “Of course this raises questions about whether Finnish authorities and the government of Finland are promoting terrorism against Russia.”

Molari is also being sued for criticizing what Finland calls "a legally operating organization".

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:01 PM | Permalink

Jazzy Treat

A wonderful jazzy treat that gets better and better,  a video of videos.


via Gerard Vanderleun who calls it A Long, Languid, Heartfelt Plea Launched Into the Ether.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:08 PM | Permalink

April 6, 2011

""You have to go somewhere where there is sacred ground"

Walter Russell Mead on Life Beyond Blue: Faith and the Inner City

There are two big mistakes most Americans make about our inner city problems:  we believe that the troubles of the inner city are mostly about race, and we believe that they can be solved without God.

The failure of the blue social model to solve the problems of the underclass in America’s inner cities was one of the great tragedies of the last thirty years.  Hundreds of billions of dollars were spent; tens of millions of lives remained blighted, and a culture of violence, degradation and despair has taken hold among some of our society’s most vulnerable and needy people.  Generations of children are growing up in gangs; our scarce financial resources are being consumed by a grotesquely overbuilt prison system; whole segments of our population are unable to cope with even the simplest demands of modern life.
--
But technocratic fixes and government policy however wise and inspired cannot fix everything that is broken in the inner cities of the United States and abroad.  Drug addiction, cycles of violence and abuse, the prevalence and attraction of street gangs and the appeal of religious extremism are not the kinds of things that bureaucrats can do much about.
--
the hard truth is that unless someone reaches the lost generations in our inner city with powerful, life transforming messages, the dysfunctional cycles of violence, poverty and destruction will continue.  The people in our cities need the power to change their lives — and that kind of power, for most of the people most of the time in history, comes through transformational encounters with the power and the presence of God.
--
What I’ve learned from Gene lately is a new appreciation of the importance of the Black church in the redemption of the inner city.  Specifically, I’ve been learning about the importance of the Pentecostal churches.  Historically, the Pentecostal churches in the United States as elsewhere are strongly rooted among the poor.

To see the power of the gospel and the power of gospel music as an art form  and what it means in the lives of young teens who find a way to express their pain and to experience joy, you must watch 60 minutes which last week when Leslie Stahl looked at  Gospel for Teens, Part 1 and Part 2.

"You have to go somewhere where there is sacred ground, where there's hope, where there's  possibility, where there's a better life"    Exactly what gospel music, born in slavery,  was designed to provide in the first place.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:49 AM | Permalink

April 4, 2011

A Choice of Two Futures UPDATED

I am completely behind Paul Ryan's Path to Prosperity.

For starters, it cuts $6.2 trillion in spending from the president's budget over the next 10 years, reduces the debt as a percentage of the economy, and puts the nation on a path to actually pay off our national debt. Our proposal brings federal spending to below 20% of gross domestic product (GDP), consistent with the postwar average, and reduces deficits by $4.4 trillion.

A study just released by the Heritage Center for Data Analysis projects that The Path to Prosperity will help create nearly one million new private-sector jobs next year, bring the unemployment rate down to 4% by 2015, and result in 2.5 million additional private-sector jobs in the last year of the decade. It spurs economic growth, with $1.5 trillion in additional real GDP over the decade. According to Heritage's analysis, it would result in $1.1 trillion in higher wages and an average of $1,000 in additional family income each year.

 Two Futures Ryan's Chart

UPDATE: David Brooks calls it a Moment of Truth

Paul Ryan has grasped reality with both hands. He’s forcing everybody else to do the same.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:19 PM | Permalink

"Three dynamics interacted in a noxious fashion"

Greg Sheridan in The Australian speaks from his personal experience as he explains how he lost faith in multiculturalism

IN 1993, my family and I moved into Belmore in southwest Sydney....When I first moved there I loved it.
__
In the nearly 15 years we lived there the suburb changed, and much for the worse.

Three dynamics interacted in a noxious fashion: the growth of a macho, misogynist culture among young men that often found expression in extremely violent crime; a pervasive atmosphere of anti-social behaviour in the streets; and the simultaneous growth of Islamist extremism and jihadi culture.

This is my story, our story and the story of a failed policy.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:13 PM | Permalink

April 3, 2011

Week-end catch-up: Feminism, Emma, Tween girls, Superglue, and Baseball

Some articles that caught my eye last week that you might enjoy.

We really don't know when life begins

As our knowledge of the material world, of science, has exploded in modern history it has only been proven time and time again that what was revealed long ago is true.  God "ordered all things in measure, and number, and weight." (Wisdom 11:21)  Indeed if the material world were not ordered and in constant motion, there could be no "science."

‘I’d Kill for a Good Soda’ Takes on a Whole New Meaning

That Pepsi you are drinking may only be as good as the aborted fetal cell lines that were evidently used in its flavor-enhancement development. Pepsi, Nestle, Kraft, and others, partner with Senomyx (SNMX for you financial-wire watchers), which does just that. Campbell’s has severed its ties with Senomyx, but so far Pepsi stands firm ….

Not the first and certainly not the last to bemoan the downside of feminism, S.E. Cupp : For all too many women, the joys of motherhood are gone.

And I've been fairly content, living unencumbered in relative peace and quiet with my curdling dairy products and impressive collection of takeout menus, all of which are evidence of my go-go lifestyle, a successful career and a decidedly postmodern self-sufficiency. I own nothing and am responsible for no one, save a few friends who rely on me to occasionally accompany them to weddings, as they, too, have put off the seminal responsibilities of adulthood.

But as liberating as my life has been, I can't help but wonder if my mother's generation made a wrong turn somewhere.
Their success has been our failure. By getting married, starting a family, working hard as a public school teacher (how quaint!) and happily making all the sacrifices that come with that, my mother unwittingly but definitely ensured that I would grow up to want different things: an Ivy League education, a promising career with higher earning potential and the independence to travel the world. It's doubtful she ever imagined that that would all come at the expense of making life's ultimate investment: becoming a mother myself.

The AmExed Sexing Up of the American Tween

Dr. Meeker paints a blunt medical picture for any mom or dad being coy about parenting: “Here’s how we know. In 1979, when I graduated from college, there were two sexually transmitted infections snaking their way through the sexually ‘open’ teens and adults who chose to explore their sexuality through freer sexual expression. Herpes 2 broke upon the scene in a fierce way, increasing 500 percent from 1980 to 1990. By the time 2000 rolled around, there were over 30 STIs in the then–15 million Americans each year who contracted a new STD. Now, in 2011, the CDC reports that 20 million Americans each year contract a new STI, and almost 50 percent are young people (teens and college students). This is completely unacceptable.”

In praise of the homely female arts, Jillian Tamaki's beautiful  cross-stitch covers of deluxe Penguin classics, Emma, Black Beauty and the Secret Garden.

 Emma

The Anchoress recommends "The Music Box" by Daniel Cloud Campos

Things I learned at ProCommerce

Al Jazeera has more complete news than the New York Times and its bias against Israel is much smaller.

The technological advance in vegetable packaging is due to nitrogen and plastic that looks like cellophane.

Life expectancy is increasing by five hours a day.  IQ keeps going up by three points a decade.  Agriculture gets ever more productive, leaving more land to remain wild.  Even economic inequality is decreasing, with poor countries getting rich faster than rich countries are getting richer....Overall global warming is proceeding slower than was predicted.  Humanity has been decarbonizing its energy supply steadily for 150 years as we progressed from wood to coal to oil to natural gas.  A few years ago it was thought that only 25 years of natural gas was left, but with the invention of hydrofracking shale gas, the supply is suddenly 250 years worth, and it is a hugely cleaner source than coal.

There is one and only one reason that American education never improves.  It is not Darwinian.
Failures don’t disappear and successes are not reproduced.
Minimum wage increases kill jobs and here is data to prove it.  More than two million jobs paying the minimum wage of $7.25 or less were lost between 2010 and 2006

Why it's good that Millions of Spiders in Pakistan Encase Entire Trees in Webs

Superglue inventor Harry Coover dies at 94. 

His fast-acting and super-strong adhesive was invented in 1942 as a side effect of another project to create transparent plastic gun sights. The sights didn’t work out because the material created stuck everything together, but the adhesive that came out of those experiments was eventually sold as a super glue called Eastman 910.

If you follow the Original  Superglue blog, you'll learn that dermatologists recommend superglue to seal the cracks on winter dry hands.    But don't use superglue to attach a tiny top hat to your head, lest you look like Sean  Murtagh who had to go the the emergency room to get it  cut off.

 Superglue Tophat Head

John Allen gives us the Top Nine Reasons why Baseball is to Sports what Catholicism is to Religion.

1. Both baseball and Catholicism venerate the past. Both have a Communion of Saints, all the way down to popular shrines and holy cards.
2. Both feature obscure rules that make sense only to initiates.
3. Both have a keen sense of ritual, in which pace is critically important.
5. In both baseball and Catholicism, you can dip in and out, but for serious devotees the liturgy is a daily affair.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:41 AM | Permalink

Wachovia at center of money laundering for Mexican drug cartels

Stunning news

How a big US bank laundered billions from Mexico's murderous drug gangs

As the violence spread, billions of dollars of cartel cash began to seep into the global financial system. But a special investigation by the Observer reveals how the increasingly frantic warnings of one London whistleblower were ignored.

On 10 April 2006, a DC-9 jet landed in the port city of Ciudad del Carmen, on the Gulf of Mexico, as the sun was setting. Mexican soldiers, waiting to intercept it, found 128 cases packed with 5.7 tons of cocaine, valued at $100m. But something else – more important and far-reaching – was discovered in the paper trail behind the purchase of the plane by the Sinaloa narco-trafficking cartel.

During a 22-month investigation by agents from the US Drug Enforcement Administration, the Internal Revenue Service and others, it emerged that the cocaine smugglers had bought the plane with money they had laundered through one of the biggest banks in the United States: Wachovia, now part of the giant Wells Fargo.

The authorities uncovered billions of dollars in wire transfers, traveller's cheques and cash shipments through Mexican exchanges into Wachovia accounts. Wachovia was put under immediate investigation for failing to maintain an effective anti-money laundering programme. Of special significance was that the period concerned began in 2004, which coincided with the first escalation of violence along the US-Mexico border that ignited the current drugs war.

Criminal proceedings were brought against Wachovia, though not against any individual, but the case never came to court. In March 2010, Wachovia settled the biggest action brought under the US bank secrecy act, through the US district court in Miami. Now that the year's "deferred prosecution" has expired, the bank is in effect in the clear. It paid federal authorities $110m in forfeiture, for allowing transactions later proved to be connected to drug smuggling, and incurred a $50m fine for failing to monitor cash used to ship 22 tons of cocaine.

More shocking, and more important, the bank was sanctioned for failing to apply the proper anti-laundering strictures to the transfer of $378.4bn – a
sum equivalent to one-third of Mexico's gross national product – into dollar accounts from so-called casas de cambio (CDCs) in Mexico, currency exchange houses with which the bank did business.
Wachovia's blatant disregard for our banking laws gave international cocaine cartels a virtual carte blanche to finance their operations," said Jeffrey Sloman, the federal prosecutor.
--
"What happened at Wachovia was symptomatic of the failure of the entire regulatory system to apply the kind of proper governance and adequate risk management which would have prevented not just the laundering of blood money, but the global crisis."
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:00 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

Courtyard of the Gentiles and Prayer to an Unknown God

Sandro Magister reports from Paris on the Courtyard of the Gentiles and the shocking news to me that UNESCO was founded by those who believed strongly in eugenics.

In Paris the Dispute Was about God, But about Man First

the most explosive talk was that of French philosopher Fabrice Hadjadj (in the photo), from a Jewish family, once on the far left but now a convert to the Catholic faith....

Hadjadj made a radical criticism of UNESCO and its founding fathers right on the premises of the organization, in the presence of its directors in a
'blistering talk' against the eugenicist ideology of the founding fathers of UNESCO

And he criticized it precisely on its view of man.  On the alternative between man's openness to Heaven – the "trasumanar" of Dante's Paradiso – and the "transhumanism" of the first director general of UNESCO, Julian Huxley, the reduction of man to a technical object, to be improved with eugenics.

In 1941, at the very time when the Nazis were gassing the mentally ill, Julian Huxley wrote with a certain audacity:
"Once the full implications of evolutionary biology are grasped, eugenics will inevitably become part of the religion of the future, or of whatever complex of sentiments may in the future take the place of organized religion." These statements were written in 1941. But it was in 1947 that they were published in French, when he was already director general of UNESCO.

The initiative of the Courtyard of the Gentiles came from Pope Benedict XVI .

The idea came from Benedict XVI himself. And the name, too: Courtyard of the gentiles. "To the dialogue with the religions," he said, extending Christmas greetings to the Roman curia on December 21, 2009, "must be added today the dialogue with those to whom God is unknown."
--
This was the goal in Paris. Believers and agnostics spoke out in friendship. On borderland terrain. Each with his feet planted in his own space, but ready to listen to the reasons of the other.

The Pope addressed the gathering in a video message.

You young people, believers and non-believers alike, have chosen to come together this evening, as you do in your daily lives, in order to meet one another and to discuss the great questions of human existence. Nowadays many people acknowledge that they are not part of any religion, yet they long for a new world, a world that is freer, more just and united, more peaceful and happy.
--
Dear friends, you are challenged to build bridges between one another.
--
Religions have nothing to fear from a just secularity, one that is open and allows individuals to live in accordance with what they believe in their own consciences. If we are to build a world of liberty, equality and fraternity, then believers and non-believers must feel free to be just that, equal in their right to live as individuals and in community in accord with their convictions; and fraternal in their relations with one another. One of the reasons for this Courtyard of the Gentiles is to encourage such feelings of fraternity, over and above our individual convictions yet not denying our differences.
--
Believers and non-believers, as you stand in this courtyard of the Unknown, you are also invited to approach the sacred space, to pass through the magnificent portal of Notre Dame and to enter the cathedral for a moment of prayer.
For some of you this will be a prayer to a God you already know by faith, but for others it may be a prayer to the Unknown God.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:44 AM | Permalink

Cancer patient with "nothing to lose" tackles bank robber

Woman, 66, tackles robber, credits her cancer for giving her bravery

A 66-year-old bank customer, courageous because she says she is dying of cancer, tackled a would-be robber Friday and restrained her until deputies arrived, the Broward Sheriff's Office said.

When deputies asked the customer why she intervened, she replied she "was dying of cancer, figured she had nothing to lose and didn't want to see her [the robbery suspect] get away with it," said sheriff's spokesman Mike Jachles.

A woman entered a  Bank of America branch in Oakland Park, Florida, put her hand inside her purse, said she had a gun, ordered everyone to the ground and demanded $10,000.

Dunsford "just lost it," he said. "She ran up to her, grabbed her in a bearhug and slammed her to the floor. She said, 'I've got cancer. You could kill me if you want!'"
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:34 AM | Permalink

April 1, 2011

April Fools

The top 100 April Fool hoaxes.

My favorite is the Swiss Spaghetti Harvest, the #1 hoax of all time, beating out the wonderful story in Sports Illustrated of Sidd Finch who mastered the art of the pitch in a Tibetan monastery.

 Spaghetti Harvest

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:54 PM | Permalink

Two groups, Takers and Makers

Stephen Moore says We've Become a Nation of Takers not Makers

Today in America there are nearly twice as many people working for the government (22.5 million) than in all of manufacturing (11.5 million). This is an almost exact reversal of the situation in 1960, when there were 15 million workers in manufacturing and 8.7 million collecting a paycheck from the government.

It gets worse.
More Americans work for the government than work in construction, farming, fishing, forestry, manufacturing, mining and utilities combined. We have moved decisively from a nation of makers to a nation of takers. Nearly half of the $2.2 trillion cost of state and local governments is the $1 trillion-a-year tab for pay and benefits of state and local employees. Is it any wonder that so many states and cities cannot pay their bills?

Part of the explanation lies in the productivity gains in the private sector, but Moore asks where are the productivity gains in government?

One way that private companies spur productivity is by firing underperforming employees and rewarding excellence. In government employment, tenure for teachers and near lifetime employment for other civil servants shields workers from this basic system of reward and punishment. It is a system that breeds mediocrity, which is what we've gotten.

There are those who divide the world into two groups and those that don't.

Michael Phillips at Pro Commerce  takes his two groups and wraps them up into his own Big Theory of Everything which extends the Frontier theory of Frederick Jackson Turner

Cities are what people run away from, if they can. They run to the suburbs if they are optimistic and vigorous. That leaves the dominant life form in the city: angry, mean-spirited, self-hating, anti-American Democrats. That disproportionately includes trust-funders, non-profit do-gooders, academics, government employees and union supporters....Suburbs are generally joyful, enthusiastic, cooperative and Republican. Optimistic people leave the city.  That leaves the cities with the Democratic malaise mongers.

I must say I rather liked the distinction of his commenter David Boxenhorn between Mundian and Modian

Mundians are attached to the pragmatic world and value data, production and empirical methods.  Modians live in a world of mutual approval, social rank and status. 

Rather like Angelo Codevilla's distinction between the Ruling Class and the Country Class which I thought was the best essay of 2010.   

Or Dr. Sanity's distinction between 'thing-makers' and 'dream-merchants' in The New Looters --Public Unions and Crony Capitalists.

You might not think that there is much to connect public unions with corrupt businesses whose 'capital' primarily comes from government handouts, bailouts, or favors; but there you have it: both have a looter mentality that refuses to acknowledge reality and expects entitlements and handouts to continue ad infinitum.
--
Perhaps they did not start out to be looters, leeching off the productive; but they learned to survive and thrive in the environment of pull and privilege that big, intrusive governments create. They learned to buy votes and favors; to get the big government contracts and the big government's protection of their 'special' status.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:22 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

True Grit and a Grain of Sand

In Fast Company, Why True Grit Matters in the Face of Adversity

In fact, new psychological research suggests that grit -- defined as endurance in pursuit of long-term goals and an ability to persist in the face of adversity -- is a key part of what makes people successful. In a culture that values quick results -- this quarter's numbers, this week's weight loss, this month's click-throughs -- grit can be an underappreciated secret weapon.
---
Grit is not synonymous with hard work. It involves a certain single-mindedness. ...Grit is often undervalued in business, because businesspeople like breakthroughs, which are good ideas that you'll have next week.

Single-mindedness and persistence because of an idea that you just can't get out of your head.    Listen to what Rummer Godden has to say about grit. 

“Every piece of writing... starts from what I call a grit... a sight or sound, a sentence or happening that does not pass away... but quite inexplicably lodges in the mind.”

We think of grit, physical grit, as nothing more than grains of sand, too often found in shoes and on newly mopped floors. 

It took Gary Greenberg to show me the secret beauty and wonder of each sand grain. 

 Mauipieces-Gary-Greenberg-1

On an ordinary day, sand is just that brown stuff you walk on by the water.  Up close, each grain is a small jewel. unique in all the world.  Like God sees us.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:49 AM | Permalink

Feminism and Multiculturalism

The bravest woman of the week is  the Pakistani actress Veena Malik who smacks down an Egyptian mullah who accuses her of immorality.

   

Susannah Fleetwood tells us why this viral video was A Seminal Moment for Feminism

Liberals seem to have an overwhelming tendency to downplay Islamic abuses towards women (as well as towards gays) under the guise of multiculturalism.

She quotes David Frum who wrote in Feminists need to admit that Western men are not the enemy,

Throughout Europe, women’s rights are regressing rather than advancing, as immigration from North Africa and the Middle East transforms European societies. Europeans have found it very difficult to demand that the newcomers adapt to local ways. So Europeans are adapting instead.

He asks whether today's feminists are

morally and intellectually capable of recognizing the dangers to women’s aspirations in the 21st century? Can they transcend their inherited ideology, and recognize that the best and only guarantee of women’s equality is Western liberal democratic capitalism? Will they accept critics of Third World misogyny — such as Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Irshad Manji — into the pantheon of feminism along with Mary Wollstonecraft, Susan B. Anthony and Simone de Beauvoir?
--
In short, can they accept that the irony of history has reoriented feminism into a fundamentally conservative movement? Or will their inherited ideological prejudices entrap them forever in a vanished world — dooming feminism to obsolescence and subjecting the dwindling rights of women to the aggressions of “multiculturalism”?

Geert Wilders speaks in Rome at the Magna Carta Foundation on The Failure of Multiculturalism and How to Turn the Tide

I am here today to talk about multiculturalism. This term has a number of different meanings. I use the term to refer to a specific political ideology. It advocates that all cultures are equal. If they are equal it follows that the state is not allowed to promote any specific cultural values as central and dominant. In other words: multiculturalism holds that the state should not promote a leitkultur, which immigrants have to accept if they want to live in our midst.

It is this ideology of cultural relativism which the German Chancellor Angela Merkel recently referred to when she said that multiculturalism has proved “an absolute failure.”

After quoting Winston Churchill writing in 1899, he  says

Churchill is right. However, if Europe falls, it will fall because, like ancient Rome, it no longer believes in the superiority of its own civilization. It will fall because it foolishly believes that all cultures are equal and that, consequently, there is no reason why we should fight for our own culture in order to preserve it.

This failure to defend our own culture has turned immigration into the most dangerous threat that can be used against the West. Multiculturalism has made us so tolerant that we tolerate the intolerant.
--
Islam is a totalitarian ideology. Islamic Shariah law supervises every detail of life. Islam is not compatible with our Western way of life. Islam is a threat to our values. Respect for people who think otherwise, the equality of men and women, the equality of homosexuals and heterosexuals, respect for Christians, Jews, unbelievers and apostates, the separation of church and state, freedom of speech, they are all under pressure because of islamization.

--
The multiculturalist Left is facilitating islamization. Leftist multiculturalists are cheering for every new shariah bank, for every new islamic school, for every new mosque. Multiculturalists consider Islam as being equal to our own culture. Shariah law or democracy? Islam or freedom? It doesn’t really matter to them. But it does matter to us. The entire leftist elite is guilty of practising cultural relativism. Universities, churches, trade unions, the media, politicians. They are all betraying our hard-won liberties.

A call to action.  A rallying cry for The Fight of Our Lives

Let us avoid.... suicide...We may soon find out whether we will take seriously our great moral and intellectual inheritance and so determine whether we indeed have the will, and the ability, to not only call this a war but to identify our enemy and to win it as well. Or, in the long run, will we be the authors of our own undoing?
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:02 AM | Permalink