May 30, 2011

The First Memorial Day for the "Martyrs of the Race Course"

 Owen Freeman Drawing

This striking drawing by Owen Freeman illustrates the remarkable history David Blight recovers for us from a Harvard library.  Forgetting Why We Remember.

At the end of the Civil War, Americans faced a formidable challenge: how to memorialize 625,000 dead soldiers, Northern and Southern. As Walt Whitman mused, it was “the dead, the dead, the dead — our dead — or South or North, ours all” that preoccupied the country. After all, if the same number of Americans per capita had died in Vietnam as died in the Civil War, four million names would be on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, instead of 58,000.

Officially, in the North, Memorial Day emerged in 1868 when the Grand Army of the Republic, the Union veterans’ organization, called on communities to conduct grave-decorating ceremonies.
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But for the earliest and most remarkable Memorial Day, we must return to where the war began. By the spring of 1865, after a long siege and prolonged bombardment, the beautiful port city of Charleston, S.C., lay in ruin and occupied by Union troops. Among the first soldiers to enter and march up Meeting Street singing liberation songs was the 21st United States Colored Infantry; their commander accepted the city’s official surrender.

Whites had largely abandoned the city, but thousands of blacks, mostly former slaves, had remained, and they conducted a series of commemorations to declare their sense of the meaning of the war.
Related

The largest of these events, forgotten until I had some extraordinary luck in an archive at Harvard, took place on May 1, 1865. During the final year of the war, the Confederates had converted the city’s Washington Race Course and Jockey Club into an outdoor prison. Union captives were kept in horrible conditions in the interior of the track; at least 257 died of disease and were hastily buried in a mass grave behind the grandstand.

After the Confederate evacuation of Charleston black workmen went to the site, reburied the Union dead properly, and built a high fence around the cemetery. They whitewashed the fence and built an archway over an entrance on which they inscribed the words, “Martyrs of the Race Course.”

The symbolic power of this Low Country planter aristocracy’s bastion was not lost on the freedpeople, who then, in cooperation with white missionaries and teachers, staged a parade of 10,000 on the track. A New York Tribune correspondent witnessed the event, describing “a procession of friends and mourners as South Carolina and the United States never saw before.”

The procession was led by 3,000 black schoolchildren carrying armloads of roses and singing the Union marching song “John Brown’s Body.” Several hundred black women followed with baskets of flowers, wreaths and crosses. Then came black men marching in cadence, followed by contingents of Union infantrymen. Within the cemetery enclosure a black children’s choir sang “We’ll Rally Around the Flag,” the “Star-Spangled Banner” and spirituals before a series of black ministers read from the Bible.

After the dedication the crowd dispersed into the infield and did what many of us do on Memorial Day: enjoyed picnics, listened to speeches and watched soldiers drill. Among the full brigade of Union infantrymen participating were the famous 54th Massachusetts and the 34th and 104th United States Colored Troops, who performed a special double-columned march around the gravesite.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:03 AM | Permalink

May 26, 2011

"State-sanctioned child abuse" and the "happy cruelty" towards boys

There was a time when the innocence of children was protected, but that time is gone. 

The psychologist Robin of Berkley writes about The Left's Dirty Little Secret.

In today's public schools, kids are inundated with sexual material.  We're not talking sex education here, but sex saturation. 

The debasement of children's minds through sex education was concocted about a hundred years ago by Germany's Frankfurt School.  The socialists launched a cultural revolution to corrupt the West so badly that it would "stink," in their words.  Some of their methods would be destroying the family, stripping parents of power, and forcing sex education into the schools.

Sex education has mutated from, in my day, animated films of sperms swimming toward eggs to an outright violation of children's innocence.  Nine-year-olds learn to put condoms on bananas; middle school children squirm at talks about sex change operations.  By high school, free condoms are in plentiful supply....

Somehow the safety issues always return to the gay, bi, or trans youth.  Perhaps this is a way to control and intimidate the sexual majority;  certainly, it forces more sex talk into the curriculum.

Regardless of how the left spins it,
children being forced to listen to one uncomfortable, repellant sex talk after another, is not safety.  It's also not education.  It's actually a state-sanctioned form of child abuse.

And the boys.  We've ignored the boys writes Anthony Esolen in Victims Unseen with particular reference to the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church.

We have ignored the boys. And we ignored them, as we have been ignoring them, these many years. Governments and foundations shovel money into programs to teach math and science specifically to girls, but not a penny, not for any subject, devoted specifically to boys. Why is that? Nowadays in some places a boy growing up with a father is as rare as an orphan used to be. These boys need more than ever the male discipline of sports — so what do we do about it? We cut their rosters. Sometimes, against common sense, against plain decency and charity, we force the boys to play on the same teams with girls, even when there are girls’ teams available. Why that happy cruelty?...

Young men are strong enough and aggressive enough to commit — but also vulnerable enough to suffer — the bulk of violent crime in our country. Everyone knows the former; does anyone care to consider the latter? One in ten black men aged 20 to 30 is currently in prison. Do we sponsor any initiatives to reach the boys before they fall into that abyss?
Boys are now far outnumbered by girls in college. Exactly how this state of affairs is to be a boon to the civilization, the country, the family, and the Church, no one has bothered to examine. I think it heralds the onset of catastrophe. But is there a single program anywhere designed to address the issue? Boys find school detestable — I found it so, and I have met few young men, even those I teach in college, and most especially the brightest, who say that they loved high school, and few young women who say they hated it. Does anyone care?

We will rue the consequences of the way children, boys and girls, are being educated today for generations.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:42 AM | Permalink

May 25, 2011

"How can it be that so many people like me are so completely unprepared for what is, after all, one of life’s near certainties?"

Jonathan Rauch in an agonizing story entitled Letting Go of My Father finds himself utterly unprepared to deal with the decline of his parent, a struggle that's shared by millions of middle-aged Americans.

I came to dread the ring of the telephone: it might be my father on the floor, asking me to come over and pick him up, or it might be emergency medical services, summoned by a neighbor or the call button. Once, when I arrived amid a commotion of paramedics and flashing lights, a neighbor, herself elderly, was standing in the hallway, her face flushed with fear, yelling to me, “He can’t live here! You’ve got to move him!” In the midst of it all, my father would be entreating everyone to leave him be.

My professional work all but stopped. Finding doctors for him and getting him to appointments and coordinating escalating medical needs swallowed entire days. I managed until one hot July afternoon. I was at my desk closing a column when Michael called from Costco, where he had taken my father shopping. My father had gone stiff on one side, become incoherent and unable to stand, and didn’t know where he was. I had to get over there, Michael said, in a quietly frightened voice. I jumped up and ran out, but by the time I arrived my father had recovered and did not remember anything untoward happening. “Do you need to see a doctor?” I asked, stupidly. He just gave a dismissive wave of his hand. “I’m okay,” he said. I stood there, in the produce aisle, with no idea what to do, frightened by my incompetence and, worse, furious at my father for putting me in this impossible position.

That was the day I realized that he could not cope and I could not cope and, emotionally, he could take me down with him.
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In hindsight, I was ripe for post-traumatic stress syndrome or anxiety disorder or depression. According to the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving at Georgia Southwestern State University, family caregivers face elevated risks to their physical health, mental health, finances, employment, and retirement. I can attest to the mental-health risk. That I managed to keep myself together owes itself largely to a coping strategy of my own—one that brought with it a peculiar discovery.

For whatever reason, and quite against my usual introverted nature, I talked. To almost anyone. A provocation as simple as “How are you?” would educe an answer like, “Bad. I’m at my wits’ end coping with my father.” Out could come the whole story.

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The medical infrastructure for elder care in America is good, very good. But the cultural infrastructure is all but nonexistent.
How can it be that so many people like me are so completely unprepared for what is, after all, one of life’s near certainties?
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:44 PM | Permalink

Tornado Tragedies

The on-going tornado tragedies in Joplin have been greatly upsetting.  The suddenness and the scale can not be comprehended no matter how pictures and videos I  have seen. 

So many people homeless, injured, dead and lost in the matter of moments. 125 dead,  2000 buildings destroyed,
hundreds missing.    People searching for loved ones and others for scraps of their former lives in a devastating reality they never could have imagined. 

I've been too busy to blog, but not too busy to pray for all those affected who live and for the repose of the souls for all those caught up and swept away to death.

No one of us is guaranteed another day of life.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:29 PM | Permalink

May 20, 2011

Predicting earthquakes

This is the first evidence that earthquakes might be predicated fairly easily

A warning sign? Atmosphere above epicentre of deadly Japan earthquake heated up 'rapidly' in days before disaster

It is believed that in the days before an earthquake, the stresses on geological faults in the Earth's crust causes the release of large amounts of radon gas.

This radioactive gas ionises the air, giving it a charge, and since water is polar it is attracted to the charged particles in the air.

This then leads to the water molecules in the air condensing (turning into liquid) - a process which releases heat.

It was this excess heat which was observed in the form of infrared radiation in recordings taken three days before the deadly magnitude 9 earthquake struck.

 Ioniszation-Chart Japan Earthquake

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:03 PM | Permalink

The Death of the Grown-Up

 The-Adult-Baby

Stanley is a 29-year-old man who sleeps in a crib, sucks on a pacifier, drinks from a bottle, wears diapers, and eats in a high chair. He chooses to live his life as an "adult baby" with the help of his friend and roommate Sandra, who essentially role plays as his mother. The pair were featured on last night's episode of National Geographic's Taboo, which focused on "fantasy lives." Stanley says that his infantilism is not based out of any sexual desire, but rather of one to be nurtured. He explains "adult baby" role playing as a way of blowing off steam from a stressful day of work. Except that he doesn't have a job. Neither does Sandra. They both receive Social Security disability benefits for unspecified reasons and use their free time to run an adult baby internet support group and building custom-made baby furniture that can support Stanley's weight.

The Adult Baby Syndrome is an abdication of the duty to grow up.

Welcome to the land of the freeloaders and the home of the depraved. No image captures America’s regressive ethos better than that of 30-year-old Stanley Thornton Jr., self-proclaimed “Adult Baby.
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Junior came to Washington’s attention this week when Sen. Tom Coburn (R., Okla.) challenged the Social Security Administration to probe into how the baby-bottle-guzzling, 350-pound man qualified for federal disability benefits. A former security guard, Junior is handy enough to have crafted his own wooden high chair and playpen.
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Junior, naturally, threw a tantrum when his government teat-sucking was called into question. He wiped his nose and un-balled his fists long enough to type out an e-mail to the Washington Times: “You wanna test how damn serious I am about leaving this world, screw with my check that pays for this apartment and food. Try it. See how serious I am. I don’t care,” Junior threatened. “I have no problem killing myself. Take away the last thing keeping me here, and see what happens. Next time you see me on the news, it will be me in a body bag.”

Not from nowhere has this stubborn, self-destructive sense of entitlement sprung.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:12 PM | Permalink

The hole in the egg

 Boffoli's Eggs Daily Grind

Artist creates tiny scenes using food.    Charming.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:08 PM | Permalink

Epic catch

 Mother Catches Ball

Good catch! Mom with a baby in one hand catches foul ball with the other

Tiffany Goodwin should play for the major league.

The mom from Fredericksburg, Virginia, 31, caught her second foul ball in as many weeks at a Richmond Flying Squirrels game.

This time, she made her catch in epic fashion, reaching out with her gloved hand, while holding her 8-month son, Jerry, in the other.
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The amazing moment was captured by Mark Gormus, a photographer from the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:11 PM | Permalink

"Congratulations! You're in Debt"

It's tough out there for college graduates.  I wish them all the best.

I was stunned to learn that student loan debt now tops credit card debt debt and is expected to reach $1 trillion this year.  Student loan debt is not dischargeable in bankruptcy but remains a millstone around each  student's neck, affecting the ability to buy a house or even get married in the first place.

A just-released Pew Study asked whether "Is college worth it?"

Fifty-seven percent of those questioned in the survey of members of the public said “the higher education system in the United States fails to provide students with good value for the money they and their families spend,” according to the report. Moreover, three-quarters say “college is too expensive for most Americans to afford.”

It's an unlucky time to be a graduate.  The damage of the recession is evident in the lives of new graduates who can't find work.

The chemistry major tending bar. The classics major answering phones. The Italian studies major sweeping aisles at Wal-Mart.
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“If you don’t move within five years of graduating, for some reason you get stuck where you are. That’s just an empirical finding,”  said Till von Wachter, an economist at Columbia. 

Congratulations!  You're in Debt writes Rich Lowry .

There’s no doubt that graduating from college brings a significant economic advantage, but that doesn’t excuse the waste and self-satisfied lassitude of American higher education. Colleges appropriate tuition dollars from America’s students with an ever-accelerating voracity, yet don’t deliver any additional educational benefits — indeed, they do the opposite. Higher education is one of the sectors of American life that most desperately needs a thorough re-conception.

Despite many fewer hours spent studying, grades are still high thanks to grade inflation.  There are few professors who spend less time teaching, but many more "managerial professionals"

What kind of learning environment is it, after all, without a director of sustainability initiatives?
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This is not a formula for drinking deeply from the fountain of learning. Arum and Roksa find only minimal gains in critical thinking, complex reasoning, and writing for many students. Forty-five percent of students barely ticked upward after two years, and 36 percent hadn’t budged after four years.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:10 PM | Permalink

May 18, 2011

Bacon and Eggs

My favorite among the 15 Ten-Second Health Tips via Instapundit

1. Eat Bacon and Eggs for Breakfast

Regularly skipping breakfast increases your risk of obesity by 450 percent. Moreover, researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University found that people who regularly ate a protein-rich, 600-calorie breakfast lost significantly more weight in 8 months than those who consumed only 300 calories and a quarter of the protein.

 Bacon And Eggs

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:45 AM | Permalink

"Humility, patience, and faith – the raw material of hard work and sacrifice"

It's the season of commencement speeches when the famous, the powerful and the honored give advice and share  their wisdom with new graduates beginning their new adult lives.   

John Boehner, Speaker of the House, gave the commencement speech to the Catholic University of America, and Kathryn Jean Lopez was there

There is something powerful about the practical spiritual witness of a political leader, a powerful man. ...Commencement speeches should be about sharing a little wisdom. Here you have the most basic and essential. Delivered with not just talk of humility, but a demonstration of it — in speaking of the source of real power, in speaking of one of his own political falls.

John Boehner said

Of course, to whom much is given, much is expected.  That’s why each of you must be willing to work hard and make the sacrifices necessary to succeed. 

What does “hard work” and “sacrifice” entail? 

First and foremost,
humility. If you remember one word I’ve said today, it should be ‘humility.’ 
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Tony Snow, a great public servant and former White House press secretary who lost his life to cancer, stood at this lectern and told the class of 2007 that “to love is to acknowledge that life is not about you.” 

“I want you to remember that,” he said, “It’s not about you.  It’s a hard lesson, a lot of people go through life and never learn it.  It’s to submit willingly, heart and soul, to things that matter.”  Tony’s wisdom is timeless. 

Recently, I was asked if there’s a special prayer I say before going into meetings with the president.  Well, I always ask God for the courage and wisdom to do his will and not mine.  Serving others – that’s not just how I lead in the Congress, it’s how I lead my life. 

You’re also going to need some
patience along the way too.  Trust me on this. 

I know that’s not a word you’d typically associate with an occasion wrapped in pomp, but patience is how we come closer to knowing God’s will.  “In your patience possess you your souls,” according to Luke.
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You know, a journalist once asked Mother Teresa how she persevered in the face of all the despair she had seen.  Mother replied, “God has not called me to be successful.  He has called me to be faithful.”   

Over the years, I’ve carried in my heart a similar code my parents taught me:  you do the right thing for the right reasons, and good things will happen. 

So there you have it:
humility, patience, and faith – the raw material of hard work and sacrifice.  They will take you as far as you want to go.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:33 AM | Permalink

May 16, 2011

"Our Peculiar State of Suspended Animation"

At, Zero Hedge, a guest blogger Charles Hughes Smith minces no words.

Our Peculiar State of Suspended Animation. Three long years of extend and pretend have left the nation in a state of suspended animation, frozen in a moment of crisis.

The U.S. is in a peculiar state of suspended animation: nothing is actually moving, we're all frozen in an extended moment of disbelief, denial and crisis, waiting for something to finally break loose.

We know the present isn't sustainable, but we go through the motions of phony "reforms" and "trimming the deficit" as if another 1,000 pages of "reforms" will fix what's broken in the economy or that trimming $50 billion from $1.7 trillion annual deficits will actually matter.

The wheels visibly fell off the bubble-debt-fraud economy four years ago in mid-2007. It's worth recalling that the U.S. won a global war (World War II) in less than four years, yet now we are pleased to borrow and and squander an extra $1 trillion a year just to keep our fragile state of suspended animation from being disrupted by unpleaseant reality.

In a nutshell, here's the reality: the entire "prosperity" of the past decade was a false prosperity, constructed entirely of money borrowed by the private sector based on the rising value of McMansions and strip-malls that made no sense except as speculations based on the Federal Reserve's credit-bubble policies and Wall Street's systemic financialization of that debt based on fraud and misrepresentation of risk.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:33 PM | Permalink

Breakthroughs in genetic medicine

Lots of news on the genetic front that promise new drugs in the future based on your personal genetic profile. 

Scientists, in two separate studies, find genetic link to depression - 3p25-26

“In a large number of families where two or more members have depression we found robust evidence that a region [of chromosome 3] called 3p25-26 is strongly linked to the disorder,” said Gerome Breen, lead author of the King’s study. “These findings are truly exciting as possibly for the first time we have found a genetic locus for depression.“
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Many genes – probably more than 100 – contribute to a greater or lesser extent to depression. But unlocking the mechanism of just one, even if it is responsible directly for only a small part of the genetic risk, could make an important contribution to understanding the disease, said Lefkos Middleton, Professor of Clinical Neurology at Imperial College London.

Scientists find "master switch" gene for obesity - KLF14 gene

Scientists have found that a gene linked to diabetes and cholesterol is a "master switch" that controls other genes found in fat in the body, and say it should help in the search for treatments for obesity-related diseases.

In a study published in the journal Nature Genetics, the British researchers said that since fat plays an important role in peoples' susceptibility to metabolic diseases like obesity, heart disease and diabetes, the regulating gene could be target for drugs to treat such illnesses.

"This is the first major study that shows how small changes in one master regulator gene can cause a cascade of other metabolic effects in other genes," said Tim Spector of King's College London, who led the study.

In Britain, a blood test that tells you how long you'll live will go on sale to the general public this year.  Call it  Telomere testing

The controversial test measures vital structures on the tips of a person's chromosomes, called telomeres, which scientists believe are one of the most important and accurate indicators of the speed at which a person is ageing.

Scientists behind the €500 (£435) test said it will be possible to tell whether a person's "biological age", as measured by the length of their telomeres, is older or younger than their actual chronological age.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:56 PM | Permalink

Breakthroughs in genetic medicine

Lots of news on the genetic front that promise new drugs in the future based on your personal genetic profile. 

Scientists, in two separate studies, find genetic link to depression - 3p25-26

“In a large number of families where two or more members have depression we found robust evidence that a region [of chromosome 3] called 3p25-26 is strongly linked to the disorder,” said Gerome Breen, lead author of the King’s study. “These findings are truly exciting as possibly for the first time we have found a genetic locus for depression.“
00
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Many genes – probably more than 100 – contribute to a greater or lesser extent to depression. But unlocking the mechanism of just one, even if it is responsible directly for only a small part of the genetic risk, could make an important contribution to understanding the disease, said Lefkos Middleton, Professor of Clinical Neurology at Imperial College London.

Scientists find "master switch" gene for obesity - KLF14 gene

Scientists have found that a gene linked to diabetes and cholesterol is a "master switch" that controls other genes found in fat in the body, and say it should help in the search for treatments for obesity-related diseases.

In a study published in the journal Nature Genetics, the British researchers said that since fat plays an important role in peoples' susceptibility to metabolic diseases like obesity, heart disease and diabetes, the regulating gene could be target for drugs to treat such illnesses.

"This is the first major study that shows how small changes in one master regulator gene can cause a cascade of other metabolic effects in other genes," said Tim Spector of King's College London, who led the study.

In Britain, a blood test that tells you how long you'll live will go on sale to the general public this year.  Call it  Telomere testing

The controversial test measures vital structures on the tips of a person's chromosomes, called telomeres, which scientists believe are one of the most important and accurate indicators of the speed at which a person is ageing.

Scientists behind the €500 (£435) test said it will be possible to tell whether a person's "biological age", as measured by the length of their telomeres, is older or younger than their actual chronological age.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:56 PM | Permalink

May 14, 2011

"The struggle of the Left to rationalize its positions is an intolerable Sisyphean burden. I speak as a reformed Liberal."

David Mamet is the foremost American playwright today.  He's several years along in a political conversion from left to right and Andrew Ferguson tells the tale of the playwright's progress in Converting Mamet and it's a fine read.

That’s the way it is with conversion experiences: The scales fall in a cascade. One light bulb tends to set off another, until it’s pop-pop-pop like paparazzi on Oscar night.

His last play, a comedy called November was a 'love letter' to America.

One of the themes of the play was that the country itself is much too good for politics, especially when politicians seek to govern it by serving their own selfish ends.

“I wondered, How did the system function so well? Because it does—the system functions beautifully.” How did the happiest, freest, and most prosperous country in history sprout from the Hobbesian jungle?

“I realized it was because of this thing, this miracle, this U.S. Constitution.” The separation of powers, the guarantee of property, the freedoms of speech and religion meant that self-interested citizens had a system in which they could hammer out their differences without killing each other. Everyone who wanted to could get ahead. The Founders had accepted the tragic view of life and, as it were, made it pay. It’s a happy paradox: The gloomier one’s view of human nature—and Mamet’s was gloomy—the deeper one’s appreciation of the American miracle.
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Ferguson observes that Mamet's disdain for consensus, for received wisdom of every kind is evident in nearly every aspect of his career.

One of Mamet’s favorite books has been Instincts of the Herd in Peace and War, published during the First World War by the British social psychologist Wilfred Trotter, inventor of the term “herd instinct.”

“Trotter says the herd instinct in an animal is stronger even than the preservation of life,” Mamet said. “So I was watching the [2008] debates. My liberal friends would spit at the mention of Sarah Palin’s name. Or they would literally mime the act of vomiting. We’re watching the debates and one of my friends pretends to vomit and says, ‘I have to leave the room.’ I thought, oh my god, this is Trotter! This is the reaction of the herd instinct. When a sheep discovers a wolf in the fold, it vomits to ward off the attacker. It’s a sign that their position in the herd is threatened.”

His rabbi Mordecai Finley sent him books to read.

“He came back to me stunned. He said, ‘This is incredible!’ He said, ‘Who thinks like this? Who are these people?’ I said, ‘Republicans think like this.’ He said, ‘Amazing.’ ”
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Finley piled it on, from the histories of Paul Johnson to the economics of Milton Friedman to the meditations on race by Shelby Steele.

“He was haunted by what he discovered in those books, this new way of thinking,” Finley says. “It followed him around and wouldn’t let him go.”

Mamet's new book , The Secret Knowledge On the Dismantling of American Culture, will be published on June 2 with a quote from Mamet on the cover:

"The struggle of the Left to rationalize its positions is an intolerable Sisyphean burden.    I speak as a reformed Liberal."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:35 PM | Permalink

Religious belief is human nature

Religious belief is human nature.

So claims a massive three-year Oxford study incorporating more that 40 different studies  of cultures around the world by dozens of researchers, called the Cognition, Religion and Theology Project.

"We tend to see purpose in the world," Oxford University professor Roger Trigg said Thursday. "We see agency. We think that something is there even if you can't see it. ... All this tends to build up to a religious way of thinking."

Studies around the world came up with similar findings, including widespread belief in some kind of afterlife and an instinctive tendency to suggest that natural phenomena happen for a purpose.

"Children in particular found it very easy to think in religious ways," such as believing in God's omniscience, said Trigg. But adults also jumped first for explanations that implied an unseen agent at work in the world, the study found.
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The blockbuster study may not take a stance on the existence of God, but it has profound implications for religious freedom, Trigg contends.

"If you've got something so deep-rooted in human nature, thwarting it is in some sense not enabling humans to fulfill their basic interests," Trigg said.

"There is quite a drive to think that religion is private," he said, arguing that such a belief is wrong. "It isn't just a quirky interest of a few, it's basic human nature."

This shows that it's much more universal, prevalent, and deep-rooted. It's got to be reckoned with. You can't just pretend it isn't there," he said.

"The secularization thesis of the 1960s - I think that was hopeless," Trigg concluded.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:50 AM | Permalink

May 13, 2011

"The American elite is a walking disaster"

Hear.  Hear.  WAlter Russell Mead, the best and most perceptive American essayist  alive, on Establishment Blues

we have never had an Establishment that was so ill-equipped to lead.  It is the Establishment, not the people, that is falling down on the job.

Here in the early years of the twenty-first century, t
he American elite is a walking disaster and is in every way less capable than its predecessors.  It is less in touch with American history and culture, less personally honest, less productive, less forward looking, less effective at and less committed to child rearing, less freedom loving, less sacrificially patriotic and less entrepreneurial than predecessor generations.  Its sense of entitlement and snobbery is greater than at any time since the American Revolution; its addiction to privilege is greater than during the Gilded Age and its ability to raise its young to be productive and courageous leaders of society has largely collapsed. 
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Take Wall Street.  (Please!) 
Our corrupt financial and corporate establishment has by and large lost its concern for the well being of the American state and the American people.

We have had financial scandals before and we have had waves of corporate crime.  We have had pirates and robber barons. 
But we have never seen a collapse of ordinary morality in the corporate suites on the scale of the last twenty years.  We have never seen naked money grubbing among our politicians akin to the way some recent figures in both parties have cashed in.  Human nature hasn’t changed, but a kind of moral grade inflation has set in and key segments of the American Establishment are increasingly accepting the unacceptable as OK.  Investment banks betray their clients; robo-signers essentially forge mortgage documents day after day and month after month; insider traders are lionized.  Free markets actually require a certain basic level of honesty to work; if we can’t be more honest than this neither our markets nor we ourselves will remain free for very long. 

Mead goes on to discuss other factors he calls Guild Mindset, Progressive Myopia, Blind Faith in Meritocracy, and
The Evaporation of Religion.

Too many American intellectuals today spend their time mocking popular expressions of American exceptionalism and other forms of patriotic thought without working to create and promote a richer vision of the country, a deeper and wiser patriotism that connects with the sentiments of ordinary Americans and raises them to a wider and more magnanimous plane.

A leadership class is responsible for, among other things, giving a voice to the feelings of the nation and doing so in a way that enables the nation to advance and to change.  Most of the American establishment today is too ignorant of and too squeamish about the history and language of American patriotism to do that job.  In the worst case, significant chunks of the elite have convinced themselves that patriotism is in itself a bad and a dangerous thing, and have set about to smother it under blankets of politically correct disdain.

This will not end well.

Read the whole thing.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:07 PM | Permalink

May 11, 2011

Mobile phones are killing the bees

Forget global carbon emissions.  What really endangers our lives on the planet are mobile phones because they kills the bees who fertilize our food crops.

 Bee-On-Sunflower-1

Mobile phones ARE to blame for killing off the world's bee populations, scientists claim

Scientists claim to have proved that signals from mobile phones are behind the sudden decline of the world's bee population, which plays a vital role in both agriculture and horticulture.

Lead researcher Daniel Favre from Lausanne, Switzerland, placed phones in a series of hives under controlled conditions and monitored the results.

The study - published in the beekeepers' magazine Apidologie - found that the phone signals confused the bees who began to fly erratically before suddenly dying.


The scientists carried out 83 experiments in hives and recorded the bees' reactions to mobile phones in off, standby and call-making modes.

The noise produced by the bees increased more than ten-fold whenever a phone made or received a call - the noise dropped to normal level when the phone was off or on standby.

Mr Favre explained: 'The bees' noise drastically increases as soon as the phone rings - the rays from the phone and the noise clearly disturbs the bees.

'This gives the bees the signal to leave the hive. But often they are so confused they fly to their death.
'Mobile phone technology is fateful for bees. The study definitely proves that.'

The study isn't the first to link mobile phones with the death of bees.In 2008, a German researcher found that bees refuse to return to their hive when mobile phones are placed alongside it.

Lost and disoriented, they die. The result is abandoned hives, a possible honey shortage and, most gravely, a lack of pollinators for our flowers and crops.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:18 PM | Permalink

"Terminal Male Idiocy"

Manhood is Now the Biggest Risk Factor for Early Death

Even the average man will shorten his life span like a Cro-Magnon. Compared to women, Mahalik finds, guys are less likely to wear sunscreen, take their pills, accept bed rest, administer self-exams, develop a network of emotional support, mix in some healthy food, or exercise safely. Alternatively, he is vastly more likely to snuff himself out by smoking and drinking, drinking and driving, drugging and sexing, committing suicide or getting killed, or dying in virtually every conceivable way except childbirth. The reason for all this "stupid stuff," says Mahalik, is men "don't want to be seen as pussies or wimps."

But can society change these ideas? ....Mahalik says, envisioning a campaign that raises awareness of terminal male idiocy the same way prior efforts have addressed anorexia in women.

All those new Men's Health Commissions springing up in states have to make good health be seen as manly. 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:02 PM | Permalink

May 8, 2011

Speaking of dogs

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:53 AM | Permalink

War Dogs

2800 dogs are on active duty with the U.S. military.  They have their own tactical assault vests and some are even equipped with video cams.        They serve as assault weapons, bomb sniffers, loyal guardians and even 'vapor-wake' dogs, alert to the moving scent of explosive devices and materials left behind in the air as a suicide bomber walks through a crowd. 

 Wardogs

From Rebecca  Frankel's report and remarkable photo essay in Foreign Policy, War Dog.

 Wardogs, Jump Paratrooper

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:52 AM | Permalink

May 5, 2011

Shale Gas can lead a worldwide economic boom

James Delingpole on the Shale Gas Revolution


Imagine if we were to discover a new form of cheap, clean energy so abundant that it will provide our needs at least for the next two centuries, freeing us from the pervasive early 21st century neurosis of having to worry about “peak oil” or “conserving scarce resources”, causing a worldwide economic boom and with the added side-benefit of creating more fertiliser so that we can not only heat our homes more cheaply than ever before but also eat more cheaply than ever before.

Imagine how Environmentalists would react if such a miracle came into being.

Actually we don’t need to imagine for the miracle is already here. It’s called
Shale Gas and is the subject of a thrilling new report for the Global Warming Policy Foundation by Matt Ridley with a foreword by Professor Freeman Dyson. Neither Ridley nor Dyson is in much doubt that shale gas is the answer to our prayers.

As Dyson puts it in his foreword:

Because of shale gas, the air in Beijing will be cleaned up as the air in London was cleaned up sixty years ago. Because of shale gas, clean air will no longer be a luxury that only rich countries can afford. Because of shale gas, wealth and health will be distributed more equitably over the face of our planet.

And how have the Environmentalists reacted? Why they’re trying to kill the whole thing stone dead, of course.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:40 AM | Permalink

May 2, 2011

Justice

 Binladen Dead Nypd

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:46 AM | Permalink