June 29, 2011

The buffoonery of TIME

The tripe on the covers of the fading newsweeklies make me ever thankful for the Internet.

 Timecover Shredding Constitution

When managing editor Richard Stengel penned One Document Under Siege  he hadn't counted on  Patterico who called the piece a "journalistic scandal" written by a man who serves in an organization dedicated to teaching other journalists about the Constitution yet "rife with factual errors, including many that are obvious simply by reading the Constitution."

Patterico finds thirteen factual errors and rebuts then one by one with real facts.

False Claim #1: The Constitution does not limit the Federal Government.

Proof that he is wrong: The Constitution is filled with limitations on Federal Power.  For instance, Article I, Section 9 says:

The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person.  [A.W.: They’re talking about the slave trade.]

The privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.

No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.

No capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid, unless in Proportion to the Census or Enumeration herein before directed to be taken.

No Tax or Duty shall be laid on Articles exported from any State.

No Preference shall be given by any Regulation of Commerce or Revenue to the Ports of one State over those of another: nor shall Vessels bound to, or from, one State, be obliged to enter, clear, or pay Duties in another….

No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States[.]

And then there is Article III, Section 3, limiting what the government can do to a traitor:

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

The Congress shall have power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.

It should be noted that Corruption of Blood is a doctrine by which the family of a traitor would suffer because of their alleged corrupted blood, so this is limiting the government’s ability to punish the children of a traitor for his or her treason.

And then there is the Bill of Rights.  As I noted last time, Mr. Stengel considered them as of a piece with the original Constitution, an interpretation I concurred with.  Every single one of them represents a limitation on federal power, so it is sufficient to only quote a few of them:

Amendment 1

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Amendment 2

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Amendment 9

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Amendment 10

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

So contrary to his suggestion, the Constitution does indeed limit the power of the Federal Government, a point most of us learned in elementary school.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:16 AM | Permalink

" This general sleeps in a mansion, and lectures the soldiers because they want tents"

In an astonishingly well-written take down of Al Gore, Walter Russell Mead destroys any credibility Gore may have had.  A classic.

First he deals with his character, The Failure of Al Gore Part One

Gore has the Midas touch in reverse; objects of great value (Nobel prizes, Oscars) turn dull and leaden at his touch.  Few celebrity cause leaders have had more or better publicity than Gore has had for his climate advocacy.  Hailed by the world press, lionized by the entertainment community and the Global Assemblage of the Great and the Good as incarnated in the Nobel Peace Prize committee, he has nevertheless seen the movement he led flounder from one inglorious defeat to the next.  The most recent, failed global climate meeting passed almost unnoticed last week in Bonn; the world has turned its eyes away from the expiring anguish of the Copenhagen agenda.
But you cannot be a leading environmentalist who hopes to lead the general public into a long and difficult struggle for sacrifice and fundamental change if your own conduct is so flagrantly inconsistent with the green gospel you profess. If the heart of your message is that the peril of climate change is so imminent and so overwhelming that the entire political and social system of the world must change, now, you cannot fly on private jets. You cannot own multiple mansions. You cannot even become enormously rich investing in companies that will profit if the policies you advocate are put into place.
IBut grave as that danger is, Al Gore can consume more carbon than whole villages in the developing world. He can consume more electricity than most African schools, incur more carbon debt with one trip in a private plane than most of the earth’s toiling billions will pile up in a lifetime — and he doesn’t worry. A father of four, he can lecture the world on the perils of overpopulation. Surely, skeptics reason, if the peril were as great as he says and he cares about it as much as he claims, Gore’s sense of civic duty would call him to set an example of conspicuous non-consumption.
This general sleeps in a mansion, and lectures the soldiers because they want tents.

Then Mead takes on the incoherent strategic vision of the Greens inThe Failure of Al Gore Part Two

Gore’s failures are not just about leadership. The strategic vision he crafted for the global green movement has comprehensively failed.  That is no accident; the entire green policy vision was so poorly conceived, so carelessly constructed, so unbalanced and so rife with contradictions that it could only thrive among activists and enthusiasts.  Once the political power of the climate movement, aided by an indulgent and largely unquestioning press, had pushed the climate agenda into the realm of serious politics, failure was inevitable.  The only question was whether the comprehensive green meltdown would occur before or after the movement achieved its core political goal of a comprehensive and binding global agreement on greenhouse gasses.
The global green treaty movement to outlaw climate change is the most egregious folly to seize the world’s imagination since the Kellog-Briand Pact outlawed war in the late 1920s.  The idea that the nations of the earth could agree on an enforceable treaty mandating deep cuts in their output of all greenhouse gasses is absurd.  A global treaty to meet Mr. Gore’s policy goals isn’t a treaty: the changes such a treaty requires are so broad and so sweeping that a GGCT is less a treaty than a constitution for global government.  Worse, it is a constitution for a global welfare state with trillions of dollars ultimately sent by the taxpayers of rich countries to governments (however feckless, inept, corrupt or tyrannical) in poor ones.
The dream that the menace of global warming will cause humanity to overcome its ancient divisions and unite in a grand global coalition is sophomoric.
Rising CO2 levels will not cause the world’s governments to accept and enforce international policing of the most intimate details of their economic lives.  If the menace of nuclear war can’t create world government, the menace of global warming won’t do it either.
The green movement’s core tactic is not to “hide the decline” or otherwise to cook the books of science.  Its core tactic to cloak a comically absurd, impossibly complex and obviously impractical political program in the authority of science.

One more part still to come.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:20 AM | Permalink

June 28, 2011

Who benefits from the light bulb ban?

John Podhoretz says in  Hands off our bulbs that GE and Philips Corp do.

The simple version goes like this: Four years ago, The People Who Know Better Than You decided Americans should no longer be allowed to purchase an incandescent light bulb. That's the kind with a filament you've been screwing into your light sockets just as your father and grandfather and great-grandfather did, dating back to the time of Thomas Edison.
The simple story is infuriating enough. But it's not the whole story, it's probably not the most important story -- and it certainly isn't the most worrisome story.

While the ban was sold and is being defended as a measure to improve America's energy efficiency, one must ask:
Who exactly will benefit from this change?

Not the American consumer, who will not only be deprived of the kind of illumination he prefers but will be compelled to purchase new kinds of light bulbs far more expensive than the ones being banned -- for a neglible national savings.

So who then? It appears to be the
Philips Corp. and General Electric. By quietly acquiescing in the ban and appearing thereby to demonstrate some environmental bona fides, Philips and GE have in fact used the power of government to create an entirely new market for themselves worth untold billions of dollars.

This is a new form of rent-seeking -- the term that describes the ways in which industries try to use the power of government to provide them with advantages the private marketplace won't. In this case, a silly "green" idea has now forced the invention of an unnecessary new market that a few large companies will dominate.

Owing to government interference of an entirely new kind, they will benefit from the fact that consumers and private industry will have to pay them more for their products. (And not just consumers, but government as well: Federal, state and local governments are the largest single purchaser of illumination products.)

And here's another stunning fact for you:
GE has shuttered plants in the United States that have produced bulbs for more than a century -- and has moved its operations to China.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:25 PM | Permalink

"Retirement is on life support, if not indeed dead"

The top financial worry among Americans is funding their retirement, 58% of adults according to Gallup.

Retirement As We Know it Is “Dead”

There's good reason to worry, says Michael Pento, senior economist at EuroPacific Capital. "Retirement is on life support, if not indeed dead as we know it today," he tells Aaron Task in the accompanying interview.

"Where is the income going to come from to sustain a viable retirement?" Pento asks. The problem, as he sees it, is simple -- income and asset values have plateaued over the last decade, while pension and entitlement programs are underfunded.
"Americans are have negligible savings, the real estate market is still in secular decline, stock prices are in a decade's long morass, real incomes are falling, public pension plans are insolvent and our entitlement programs are bankrupt."
Pento believes these issues could be resolved if the government takes the right steps. What might those be? He recommends lowering taxes, reducing inflation and balancing the budget as a means to increase the value of the dollar. If the dollar had more purchasing power and interest rates were higher, retirees would be able to live off their fixed income, he says.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:54 PM | Permalink

June 24, 2011

"Utterly irresistible creation"

Man as industrial palace, a wonderful concept, a striking visual and witty animation.    You will have to watch it several times to catch all the visual jokes.

Der Mensch als Industriepalast [Man as Industrial Palace] from Henning Lederer on Vimeo.

via Joe who points to a NY Times piece I missed by Abigail Zuger, Spoonfuls of Medicine, Marketed for Centuries about the "small, gorgeous and fiercely funny exhibition of posters at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

But the star of the show may be the single image intended neither to cajole nor to terrify but to educate and amuse. The five-volume anatomy and physiology textbook that the German physician Fritz Kahn brought out in the 1920s was illustrated with a poster-size folding color plate depicting “Man as Industrial Palace,” a work that combines the Lilliputian charms of “Where’s Waldo?,” Willy Wonka’s factory, the world’s best dollhouse and a really good pinball game.

Up in the chambers of the brain, two groups of tiny men in suits and ties deliberate around small conference tables: they are, of course, Will and Reason. Nearby a lone fellow in shirtsleeves and headphones operates a telegraph: he is Hearing, while the photographer one cubicle over is Sight.

Gears move particles of food along the alimentary tract, aided by tiny workers with rakes and cauldrons of digestive enzymes. Down in Bone Marrow a solitary artisan stamps out red blood cells.

It is an image begging to be animated, and the contemporary German designer Henning M. Lederer has done just that, in a short film looping alongside the actual lithograph. There is no need to travel to Philadelphia for this particular pleasure, though; Mr. Lederer’s utterly irresistible creation is online
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:45 PM | Permalink

WWII Vet Marries for the First Time, at 99

WWII Vet Marries for First Time, at 99

“I never met the right woman until I met Virginia"

Herrick, a World War II veteran and a retired postal worker, has been a resident at Monroe Community Hospital for 1½ years. Virginia Hartman-Herrick, 86, has been widowed for 25 years and moved to MCH about a year ago.

Gilbert and Virginia have a pretty simple, but very sane, philosophy — do the things that make you happy.

They met in the hall one day shortly after Virginia arrived.

"I said something about an exhibit of china painting downstairs (It was an exhibit of her work.). And he said, 'I'm going to go down and look at it.'"

Gilbert, who does oil paintings, liked what he saw. And the two of them soon became an item.

"There's nobody here to talk to," Gilbert says. "She was the only one, and I started visiting her every day. I thought she would kick me out." She didn't.

"We wanted to share a room," Gilbert says, "but you can't do that here unless you are married. So she asked me, and I said yes." Her five children, grandchildren and great grandchildren all helped prepare the wedding. Gilbert and Virginia use wheelchairs, and they decided to postpone their first married dance until the dance floor was a little less crowded. Their first kiss was tricky; the dance will require a little practice. "We didn't want to knock anyone over," he says.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:36 PM | Permalink

Astonishingly good health news

Aspirin a day 'could reduce risk of lethal skin cancer by 40%'

Taking a daily aspirin could protect people from developing melanoma, a study has revealed.

Scientists found those who regularly took painkillers and especially aspirin over five years cut their melanoma risk by 40 per cent.

A team led by Dr Clara Curiel-Lewandrowski of Harvard Medical School, analysed and compared the medical records of 1,000 people and asked them to recall their use of painkillers.

'Our data at least supports the hypothesis that long-term steady aspirin use has an effect,' study co-author Dr Robert Stern told MSNBC. The latest study appears in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.

Fair-skinned people, of course, should always wear sunscreen and stay out of the sun when it is at its height. But for the millions, like me, who had severe sunburns when they were young, this study is encouraging news.  I'm already on a daily dose of baby aspirin to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Wonder Cure for Diabetes

Eating an ultra low-calorie diet can cure Type 2 diabetes in just eight weeks, dramatic new research has shown.

Even people who have suffered from the condition for years found the drastic diet could jump-start their body’s production of insulin.

The breakthrough is good news for the nearly 2.5million people in Britain who have this type of diabetes, which is caused by the pancreas not producing enough insulin to break down glucose in the blood.

It could revolutionise the treatment of what has always been seen as a lifelong problem.

Professor Roy Taylor, of Newcastle University, who led the research, said: “To have people free of diabetes after years with the condition is remarkable – and all because of an eight-week diet. For many years it has been assumed that Type 2 diabetes is a life sentence. It’s chronic, it’s progressive, people need more and more tablets, and eventually they need insulin. It’s a downhill slope. However, we have been able to show that it is in fact reversible.

“We have been able to put diabetes into reverse by a very low-calorie diet over a short period of time.

“What is really important and very new is the changes in the body that go along with this. Specifically, the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas have gone to sleep in Type 2 diabetes, they are not really doing very much.

“As the level of fat in the pancreas has reduced, we have seen these insulin-producing cells come completely back to normal, and that is truly remarkable.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:23 PM | Permalink

June 23, 2011

Stirrings of hope

Stirrings of hope for Europe.

A victory for free speech and public debate in the Netherlands as a court acquits Geert Wilders of hate speech.

The presiding judge said Wilders' remarks were sometimes "hurtful," "shocking" or "offensive," but that they were made in the context of a public debate about Muslim integration and multi-culturalism, and therefore not a criminal act.

"I am extremely pleased and happy," Wilders told reporters after the ruling. "This is not so much a win for myself, but a victory for freedom of speech. Fortunately you can criticize Islam and not be gagged in public debate."

Roger Scruton on The Rebirth of Nations

A "cult of the minority" has been imposed from above. 

This cult is painfully apparent in England, where I am writing. English schools that refuse to celebrate Christmas will nevertheless insist on a day devoted to Diwali and another to Eid; "diversity" is the theme of our official festivals, and the Arts Council of England even refuses to support the English Music Festival, on account of the offensive word English in its title. At the same time, here as elsewhere in Europe, people no longer accept the cult.

All across Europe "multiculturalism" is being rejected, both by ordinary people and by many of their elected representatives. For,
while multiculturalism has done nothing to reconcile immigrant communities to their new surroundings, it has destroyed the frail remnants of national cultures that survived the Second World War.

This is one reason why people who stand up for their national identity can so easily be made to look like "extremists." You don't look like an extremist if you express your national sentiment in the idiom of a Péguy, an Orwell, a Lampedusa, or a Sibelius. But
when you have no national icons besides the flag and the football team you find it difficult to display the most important aspect of national sentiment, which is that it is an invocation of peace, and not a cry of war. That is why culture matters, and why its loss, in times of crisis, is a loss to the whole community, and not just to the educated minority who are aware of the fact. 
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:20 AM | Permalink

The hole we're in keeps getting bigger

The long-term outlook budget outlook is even more daunting than it was a year ago

According to a new CBO report, U.S. public debt is set to exceed 100 percent of GDP in 2021, and reach 200 percent of GDP in 2037 if nothing is done to change its current trajectory, a significantly worse projection than was issued in last year’s CBO report.

This year alone, the CBO projects that public debt will reach 70 percent of GDP, up from 62 percent at the end of fiscal year 2010. The historical average for the U.S. is about 20 percent.


Medicare Trustees Confirm Democrats' Medicare Plan Would Result in 'Actual' 17% Medicare Cut

In testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee today, two Medicare Trustess, Drs. Charles Blahous and Robert Reischauer, confirmed that based on our current path in 2024 there would be "actual" cuts to Medicare at 17%. They also confirmed that Medicare would end itself by 2024 unless actions are taken to save the program.

What it will take to fully fund local and state pensions?
A tax increase on every household of about $1400/year starting now and continuing for the next 30  years!

Our Wile E Coyote Moment Has Arrived


Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:00 AM | Permalink

June 22, 2011

Go play outside

Could the sun ameliorate the rapid increase in nearsightedness?

The Sun Is the Best Optometrist

In this case, the rapid increase in nearsightedness appears to be due to a characteristic of modern life: more and more time spent indoors under artificial lights.

Similarly, a 2007 study by scholars at Ohio State University found that, among American children with two myopic parents, those who spent at least two hours per day outdoors were four times less likely to be nearsighted than those who spent less than one hour per day outside.

Luckily, there is a simple way to lower the risk of nearsightedness, and today, the summer solstice — the longest day of the year — is the perfect time to begin embracing it: get children to spend more time outside.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:24 PM | Permalink

"I don't love you anymore"

Good advice.

The last word: He said he was leaving. She ignored him.

Sure, you have your marital issues, but on the whole you feel so self-satisfied about how things have worked out that you would never, in your wildest nightmares, think you would hear these words from your husband one fine summer day: “I don’t love you anymore. I’m not sure I ever did. I’m moving out. The kids will understand. They’ll want me to be happy.”

But wait. This isn’t the divorce story you think it is. Neither is it a begging-him-to-stay story. It’s a story about hearing your husband say, “I don’t love you anymore” and deciding not to believe him. And what can happen as a result.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:04 PM | Permalink

"Modern Depression"

The Great Recession has now earned the dubious right of being compared to the Great Depression. In the face of the most stimulative fiscal and monetary policies in our history, we have experienced the loss of over 7 million jobs, wiping out every job gained since the year 2000. From the moment the Obama administration came into office, there have been no net increases in full-time jobs, only in part-time jobs.

The real job losses are greater than the estimate of 7.5 million. They are closer to 10.5 million, as 3 million people have stopped looking for work. Equally troublesome is the lower labor participation rate; some 5 million jobs have vanished from manufacturing, long America's greatest strength. Just think:
Total payrolls today amount to 131 million, but this figure is lower than it was at the beginning of the year 2000, even though our population has grown by nearly 30 million.
We now have more idle men and women than at any time since the Great Depression. Nearly seven people in the labor pool compete for every job opening.
No wonder the general economic mood is one of alarm....We may well be in the midst of a "modern depression."

Mort Zuckerman, Why the Jobs Situation is Worse Than It Looks


Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:28 AM | Permalink

"That just doesn't make sense"

What happens when big, important bills are not only not debated, they're not even read, but steam-rollered through Congress.  In the words of then speaker Nancy Pelosi,  "We have to pass the bill so you can find out what's in it."

The latest mishap with Obamacare.  Medicaid for the middle class?

President Barack Obama's health care law would let several million middle-class people get nearly free insurance meant for the poor, a twist government number crunchers say they discovered only after the complex bill was signed.

The change would affect early retirees: A married couple could have an annual income of about $64,000 and still get Medicaid, said officials who make long-range cost estimates for the Health and Human Services department.
Up to 3 million more people could qualify for Medicaid in 2014 as a result of the anomaly. That's because, in a major change from today, most of their Social Security benefits would no longer be counted as income for determining eligibility. It might be compared to allowing middle-class people to qualify for food stamps.
Medicare chief actuary Richard Foster says the situation keeps him up at night.

"I don't generally comment on the pros or cons of policy, but t
hat just doesn't make sense," Foster said during a question-and-answer session at a recent professional society meeting.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:20 AM | Permalink

June 21, 2011

About Face

 Aboutface Profile
via MindHacks.  Photographer Jeff Aris

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:09 PM | Permalink

Some personal financial tidbits in the news

In the Washington Post, 7 life lessons from the very wealthy

1. Having money is better than not having money.

2. Don’t become “cash rich” and “time poor.”

3. Memories are better than material objects

4. Watch your “lifestyle leverage,” especially early in your career.

5. Having goals is incredibly important.

6. You must live in the here and now.

7. It helps to be incredibly lucky.

Called before a grand jury to face questions about kickbacks  and money laundering in "one of the largest and most brazen frauds ever committed against the city",  one husband and wife team stole $90 million from NYC and got away .

Here's another life lesson from Richard James Verone who worked for Coca Cola for 17 years but was laid off three years ago.  This Guy Robbed A Bank Just To Get Healthcare In Jail

With a undiagnosed growth on his chest and two ruptured disks, Richard James Verone needed medical attention and to get it he handed a note to a bank teller demanding $1.
His plan includes a three year stint in prison, multiple surgeries, and then release -- just in time to collect social security.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:56 AM | Permalink

Introverts don't like to talk and other myths

Ten myths about introverts via Jason Kottke.

The full list

Myth #1 – Introverts don’t like to talk.
This is not true. Introverts just don’t talk unless they have something to say. They hate small talk. Get an introvert talking about something they are interested in, and they won’t shut up for days.

Myth #8 –
Introverts are aloof nerds.
Introverts are people who primarily look inward, paying close attention to their thoughts and emotions. It’s not that they are incapable of paying attention to what is going on around them, it’s just that their inner world is much more stimulating and rewarding to them.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:47 AM | Permalink

June 20, 2011

The Sacking of California

Over 300 power poles in California have been stripped for their copper. One pole in Antioch stole an entire transformer

Victor Davis Hanson writes another depressing chapter of life in Fresno County, California in The Metaphysics of Contemporary Theft.

1) I left my chainsaw in the driveway to use the restroom inside the house. Someone driving buy saw it. He slammed on the brakes, stole it, and drove off. Neat, quick, easy. Mind you there was only a 5-minute hiatus in between my cutting. And the driver was a random passer-by. That suggests to me that a high number of rural Fresno County motorists can prove to be opportunistic thieves at any given moment. ...
2) On the next night, three 15-hp agriculture pumps on our farm were vandalized — all the copper wire was torn out of the electrical conduits. The repairs to each one might run $500; yet, the value of the wire could not be over $50
3) A neighbor has a house for sale. It is unoccupied and rather isolated. I saw someone approach it on Friday, and drove over to ensure he was lawful. It was the owner’s assistant, who lamented that someone had just stolen all the new appliances out of the house — carting off the refrigerator, dishwasher, stove, and microwave. But why? Do these miscreants wish a civilization of the sort that all houses must seem occupied all the time, or are otherwise considered “communal property” for the taking?
We are left with a paradox. The taxpayer cannot indefinitely fund the emergency room treatment for the shooter and his victim on Saturday night if society cannot put a tool down for five minutes without a likely theft, or a farmer cannot turn on a 50-year old pump without expecting its electrical connections to have been ripped out. Civilization simply cannot function that way for either the productive citizen or the parasite, who still needs a live host.

Meanwhile, in San Francisco, City pension pays more than average worker earns,

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:32 PM | Permalink

Accountable Care

What Obamacare wants to make mandatory. 

The Accountable Care Fiasco

[T]he rule for Accountable Care Organizations that are supposed to be the crown jewel of cost-saving reform. One problem: The draft rule is so awful that even the models for it say they won't participate.
The American Medical Group Association, a trade association of multispeciality practice groups and other integrated providers, calls the rule recently drafted by the Department of Health and Human Services "overly prescriptive, operationally burdensome, and the incentives are too difficult to achieve." In a survey of its members, 93% said they won't enroll.
Incredibly, the ACO teams won't know in advance which patients they're supposed to manage. Seniors will be "retrospectively assigned" to an ACO at the end of every year, based on an arbitrary algorithm, for the purposes of calculating costs.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:12 PM | Permalink

"There comes a moment in any decent tragedy when the penny finally drops."

The greatest gift to the Greeks might be to let them go it alone writes Boris Johnson.

Bail-outs and austerity measures are only making the country’s burden harder to bear,

There comes a moment in any decent tragedy when the penny finally drops. The light breaks. The protagonist suddenly realises what a chump he has been - that he has somehow managed accidentally to marry his mother and kill his father - and that all his assumptions about his life are upside down. And the really awful thing about the tragedy now playing on the streets of Athens is that we haven’t even reached that bit yet.
For years, European governments have been saying that it would be insane and inconceivable for a country to leave the euro. But this second option is now all but inevitable, and the sooner it happens the better. We have had the
hamartia - the tragic flaw in the system that allowed high-spending countries to free ride on low interest rates. We have had the hubris - the belief the good times would never end. We have had nemesis - disaster. We now need the anagnorisis - the moment of recognition that Greece would be better off in a state of Byronic liberation, forging a new economic identity with a New Drachma. Then there will be catharsis, the experience of purgation and relief.

I am convinced it's only a matter of time.

UPDATE:  The Only Way Forward Is To Accept Reality: Greek Default Is Not The End Of The World
The catastrophe isn't default, it's "extend and pretend."

Greece Is About To Get Hit With Widespread Blackouts, As Power Workers Go On Strike Monday
Here comes more economic destruction in Greece, courtesy of the powerful power industry workers union.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:10 AM | Permalink

June 19, 2011

The Importance of Fathers

A Father's Day Round-up in loving memory of mine, William J. Fallon, Big Bill, who died almost 20 years ago.

Jeffrey Goldberg on Father’s Day Lesson About Children, and Life  in an interview with Thomas Vander Woude's,
son, now a Catholic priest in Alexandria,  Virginia.  His is a story I've never forgotten since I posted it three years ago now here and here.

“A father puts others ahead of himself,” the Rev. Vander Woude said. “That was his belief. He never said that. He just did it.
I’m reasonably sure an atheist would sacrifice his life for his child. But I also don’t doubt that Thomas Vander Woude’s powerful faith cleared the path into the tank. A person who has an articulated calling, who believes in something larger than himself, could more immediately accept the gravity of the moment. 

“He went down there in peace,” the Rev. Vander Woude said. “This is what he did. This is who he was. This was where his life was taking him.”

Adrian McLemore, an accidental dad at 22 who spent most of his life in foster care, is another great one.

McLemore was a full-time student at Wright State University studying political science. His days were packed with classes and studies, as well as a grueling schedule of speeches, presentations, committee meetings. And he had a job at a video store.

But he didn't hesitate."I will take care of my niece and nephew," he told the authorities. "I will feed them and take them to day care. I will give them a stable home. I know them. And I love them like no one else can

Many warned him it was too much to take on.

McLemore had just one response.

"I refuse to allow another generation of McLemores to be raised in foster care."
McLemore worships the memory of his father, who died of cancer in 2004. The two years he lived with his Dad, he says, were the happiest of his life.

American Digest

Good fathers are like deep wells of cool water and, as the song says, you never miss your water until the well runs dry... or is bricked-up, or sent away from the home, or just wanders off due to lack of interest on the part of the other half of your parentage. It's hard to say how that last thing happens, and you'll never get anything other than the victim story from your mom. But if you ask us (and you better not) it often happens that the shit gets so deep he just wakes up one morning and hears in his head, "Just hop on the bus, Gus. / You don't need to discuss much." It can happen and it does happen more and more frequently as the critical role of the Father is more and more devolved by the culture into that of sperm donor.

Today we hear the complaints of more and more kids failing to thrive in a culture that fills their cups with self-esteem instead of guidance, with sand instead of water, but we never seem to connect that failure to thrive with the drive to reduce the Father to a fool and a cash machine. Well, you get what you don't pay for.

America Needs Involved Fathers
This Father’s Day, Americans may want to consider the words of the late Senator from New York, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who once said, "The principal objective of American government at every level should be to see that children are born into intact families and that they remain so.”
research now shows that the percentage of fatherless families in a community more reliably predicts that community’s rate of violent crime than any other factor, including race.  The same can be said for rates of child poverty.  In fact, interestingly, white children in fatherless families are significantly more likely to live in poverty than African-American children who have a father in the home.

The principal cause of poverty is the absence of married fathers in the home.

Children from single-parent families (most of which are headed by a single mother) are over five times as likely to live in poverty than are those from married families.    Nearly three-quarters of all children whose families receive welfare come from single-parent homes......In 1960, just over 5 percent of babies were born to single women, whereas today that number is nearly eight times higher at more than 40 percent.

Sue Shellenberg on The Secret of Dads' Success

How Fathers' Teasing, Tickling, Wrestling Teach Kids to Whine Less and Be More Independent

The benefits of involved fathering are known: improved cognitive skills, fewer behavioral problems among school-age children, less delinquency among teenage boys and fewer psychological problems in young women, based on an analysis of 16 long-term studies of father involvement, published in 2008 in the scholarly journal Acta Paediatrica.
Interactions are more rambunctious and physical. Dads are more likely to startle babies, laugh, play physical games such as tossing them in the air, and spark peaks of emotion or excitement. This is believed to help kids develop self-regulatory skills.

I remember the day my father left

I saw innocence give way early to a cynic's worldview: Don't depend on anyone and no one will disappoint you.
And while conventional wisdom may deem it better to go to bed without a dad than to listen to squabbling parents, those who've been there tend to see it differently.

.... studies of fatherlessness tell a different story. The National Center for Health Statistics has found that children living with divorced mothers are four times more likely to need professional treatment for emotional or behavioral problems, twice as likely to repeat a grade at school, and more likely to suffer chronic asthma, frequent headaches, bedwetting, stammering or speech defects, anxiety, depression or hyperactivity.
Here's to you, Faithful Fathers

Celebrate the men who ignore the world's urgings: "Follow your dreams." "If it feels good, do it." "Have it your way."  Celebrate those faithful ones who keep their commitments and give their wives and children the security of knowing they will never leave.

Let's face it, being a dad can be a drag. No one issues you a uniform, salutes when you enter the room, or rewards you with a chestful of medals. Fatherhood is hardly a life of adventure - no Agent 007 or Indiana Jones. Quite the contrary. Throughout the entertainment world, since Archie Bunker, fathers have been largely portrayed as hopeless and self-centered fools.

But a dad who has conquered himself and his all-too human selfishness is more handsome to behold than any matinee idol, his story more compelling than any movie plot.

I know because I live with one.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:25 PM | Permalink

"The ‘deniers’ are the only ones standing up for the integrity of the scientific process"

According to its charter, the IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change) is to produce neutral assessments of scientific evidence and avoid the views of political activists and lobbyists.

The IPCC released a report earlier this week that claimed "close to 80% of the world's energy supply  could be met by renewables by mid-century if backed by the right enabling public policies".

Christopher Booker, The IPCC declares Greenpeace in our time

What only came to light when the full report was published last week was the peculiar source of this extraordinarily ambitious claim. It was based solely on a paper co-authored last year by an employee of Greenpeace International and something called the European Renewable Energy Council. This Brussels-based body, heavily funded by the EU, lobbies the European Commission on behalf of all the main renewable industries, such as wind and solar. The chief author of the Greenpeace paper, Sven Teske, was also a lead author on Chapter 10 of the IPCC report, which means that the report's headline message came from a full-time environmental activist, supported by a lobby group representing those industries that stand most to benefit financially from its findings.

Custard pie activist slams IPCC 'grey literature' habit

Earlier this week it emerged that an report [1] on renewable energy for the IPCC had drawn heavily on an earlier paper authored by Greenpeace activist and staffer Sven Tenske, together with a lobby for the renewable energy industry called the European Renewable Energy Council. Tenske ended up as a lead author on the IPCC's report too, and in an astonishing coincidence, ended up making the same recommendations.
"There is even a commercial conflict of interest here given that the renewables industry stands to be the main beneficiary of any change in government policies based on the IPCC report’s conclusions. Had it been an oil industry intervention which led the IPCC to a particular conclusion, Greenpeace et al would have course have been screaming blue murder," wrote Lynas.
"[I]f the ‘deniers’ are the only ones standing up for the integrity of the scientific process, and the independence of the IPCC, then I too am a ‘denier

James Delingpole on Greenpeace and the IPCC: time, surely, for a Climate Masada?

Putting a guy from Greenpeace in charge of writing the supposedly neutral, scientifically-based report on which governments are going to base their energy policy is like putting Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in charge of a report entitled Whither Israel?

Since its very foundation, the IPCC has been a sounding board for green activists. That is indeed its purpose. It has no remit to investigate whether or not climate change is significantly man-made and whether this constitutes a threat serious enough to handicap the global economy with massive tax and regulation because it takes all those as givens: as far as the IPCC’s concerned, the debate is over and the time to act is now. (Which, funnily enough, is exactly what green activists think). This was the point of McKitrick and McIntyre’s brilliant demolition of the Hockey Stick; the point of Climategate; the point of Amazongate, Glaciergate, Africagate et al; the point of Donna Laframboise’s superb research showing how much “grey literature” (ie activist propaganda with no solid scientific basis) from activist groups like WWF and Greenpeace has informed the IPCC’s supposedly state-of-the-art assessment reports.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:50 AM | Permalink

June 16, 2011

Lizard love

This made my day.  Lizard Love


Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:10 PM | Permalink

Defense becoming more difficult

The job of protecting the country and its citizens gets increasingly harder and more complex.  Beyond all the wars we're engages and the troubles around the world, we have serious problems here in America.

Very disturbing.  Most U.S. Mosques Teach Violence

Last week came new confirmation that mosques in the U.S. aren’t quite holding potluck suppers and teaching civic pieties.  A new study has demonstrated that 80% of mosques right in this country are teaching jihad warfare and Islamic supremacism.

Researchers Mordechai Kedar and David Yerushalmi reported in the Summer 2011 issue of Middle East Quarterly about a new survey that found that “51% of mosques had texts that either advocated the use of violence in the pursuit of a Sharia-based political order or advocated violent jihad as a duty that should be of paramount importance to a Muslim.”  Another 30% of mosques in the United States “had only texts that were moderately supportive of violence,” while only “19% had no violent texts at all.”

Al Qaeda -Linked Site Site US "Hit List" of US officials, military and business leaders.

The Department of Homeland Security has sent out an internal alert warning that jihadist websites last week posted a "hit list" of American executives, officials and companies -- an alarming development that could mark the start of a new phase in terror plots

China's Cyberassault on America

Senior U.S. officials know well that the government of China is systematically attacking the computer networks of the U.S. government and American corporations. Beijing is successfully stealing research and development, software source code, manufacturing know-how and government plans. In a global competition among knowledge-based economies, Chinese cyberoperations are eroding America's advantage.

Recently the computer-security company RSA (a division of EMC) was penetrated by an intrusion which appears to have stolen the secret sauce behind the company's SecureID. That system is widely used to protect critical computer networks. And this month, the largest U.S. defense contractor, Lockheed, was subject to cyberespionage, apparently by someone using the stolen RSA data. Cyber criminals don't hack defense contractors—they go after banks and credit cards. Despite Beijing's public denials, this attack and many others have all the hallmarks of Chinese government operations.

In 2009, this newspaper reported that the control systems for the U.S. electric power grid had been hacked and secret openings created so that the attacker could get back in with ease. Far from denying the story, President Obama publicly stated that "cyber intruders have probed our electrical grid."

So it is with incomprehension that I read about the Gunwalker scandal as the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform examines what the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) with the blessings of the Department of Justice, did in what they called Operation Fast and Furious. 

The more than 2,000 weapons that the Obama Justice Department allowed to be delivered to Mexican narco-terrorist cartels are thought to have been used in the shooting of an estimated 150 Mexican law enforcement officers and soldiers battling the cartels. Two American law enforcement officers have also presumably fallen prey to these weapons, along with an unknown number of civilians on both sides of the border.

President Barack Obama’s Department of Justice has purposefully armed narco-terrorist drug cartels that have been accused of bombings, ambushes, mass murders, public executions, and the assassination of police, politicians, and civic leaders.

Obama’s Justice Department armed the enemy of our neighbor and ally, providing enough arms to equip ten infantry companies, or two battalions, of violent drug dealers.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:06 PM | Permalink

Different paths to leadership

In Businessweek,  God's MBAs:  Why Mormon Missions Produce Leaders

Before setting out in orderly pairs to spread their gospel door-to-door, nearly all U.S. Mormon missionaries pass through the Provo Missionary Training Center. Inside the sprawling brown-brick complex, thousands of 19- and 20-year-old men in oversized black suits work alongside women in below-the-knee skirts and brightly colored tops. All of them wear name tags.
The Provo Missionary Training Center (MTC) and its curriculum are designed to render all trainees equal servants of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS), yet
many of the men who prepared for their missions here, or at the center's earlier incarnations, have gone on to become among the most distinguished and recognizable faces in American business and civic life.
Reflecting on his own mission to the mid-Atlantic states, Cornia adds, "When I left, the son of a relatively poor mother and a father who died when I was young, I frankly didn't know if I could do anything. I came back with the confidence that I can accomplish most hard things. I may not have had that otherwise."

Read more  to see how their proverbial work ethic, self improvement and self reliance is formed at a young age in what is, in effect, a 2 year  boot camp for leaders.

After the financial crisis, others, too few of them, are re-examining just what their corporate lives are doing to them.

Behind corporate walls, the masters of the universe weep by Stefan Stern via The Browser.

So it was heartening, in a way, when I recently started picking up examples of things being discussed rather differently, in private, behind closed corporate doors. It was only encouraging in part because the stories I have been told are of secret grief and hidden angst, bursting out in an extraordinary way.

These kinds of stories are as yet completely under-reported and under-analysed.

On three separate occasions in the past few months I have been told about startling moments of truth within the walls of some mighty global corporations. At last the silence has been broken, and the unsayable has been said.
These episodes have one thing in common (and it is almost a leitmotif): the tears and misery of senior managers.

At an elite management consultancy an informal discussion about career goals degenerated into the sort of group confession masters of the universe are simply not supposed to make. Work was ridiculously intense, yet meaningless, they said. The financial rewards were considerable, but many wanted out.


Umair Haque, director of the Havas Media Lab, has just published a radical new book called The New Capitalist Manifesto ...Haque let rip on some of the absurdities of contemporary business and economic life. “Just ask yourself,” he wrote, “if you were to walk into any corporation, would you find faces brimming over with deep fulfillment and authentic delight – or stonily asking themselves, ‘If it wasn’t for the accursed paycheck, would I really imprison myself in this dungeon of the human soul?’ ”

We are trapped, Haque argues, in
a futile “pursuit of opulence”. “The pursuit of opulence,” he says, “isn’t just failing to make most of us better off in human terms — more troublingly, it’s also failing to ignite the spark of enduring wealth creation today.

It does not have to be like this. If we could make a series of shifts our individual and collective prospects could be brighter. The first shift involves moving from being a “shallow generalist” to being a “serial master” – genuinely knowing what we are talking about. The second shift requires us to give up being an “isolated competitor”, instead becoming what Prof Gratton calls an “innovative connector” – in plain terms, working far more collaboratively. The third shift involves giving up being a voracious consumer and instead becoming an “impassioned producer”, doing
(and consuming) less, perhaps, but doing it better.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:37 PM | Permalink

June 15, 2011

Some money-saving tips

There's never been a better time to learn to live more frugally.

Here are 62 Money-Saving Tips to Help Survive Another Recession

Bank “found” money in a separate account. With any income above your normal earnings, bank the amount in a separate checking or savings account and use the money to pay down debt, build up savings, or offset increased expenses. Overtime, tax refunds (and stimulus checks), gifts and similar windfalls belong here.

When in the store, look high and low for deals, literally. Marketers know that eye-level is the place most people tend to shop, so they put the items with the highest margins right in front of you. Better deals are usually found on lower shelves.

Divide credit card minimum payments in half and pay that amount twice a month.
Interest is calculated based on the average daily balance of your account for the entire month. By making a payment every couple weeks you are reducing that average balance and therefore reducing the finance charges assessed, as opposed to waiting until the end of the month to make a single payment.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:14 PM | Permalink

June 13, 2011

Altering public sounds

If you have a house or a business with too many young people hanging around, the best thing to do is play music, a certain kind of music, gospel or classical.

Tunes beat drugs. That's the gospel truth

Stanczak lives on East Russell Street, in Tioga, where two-bit dealers peddle dope right outside his living-room windows. They lounge on his steps. Once, a particularly brazen salesman held court on a chair that had been left at the curb as trash.
Whenever Stanczak calls the cops, the dealers scatter. But the next day, they're back.
So I told him about Marie DeLany, who shared with me this week an astounding tale of how she snuffed out drug dealing on her Frankford corner - by blaring Christian music out her third-floor windows.

Old-time standards like "Amazing Grace," "The Old Rugged Cross," "Nothing But the Blood of Jesus" and "The Lord's Prayer." You name the sacred song, it wafted three doors down to the intersection of Penn and Arrott streets, where dealers sold to addicts who stumbled up from the Arrott bus terminal.

"It wasn't loud enough to be obnoxious," says DeLany, 57, who staggered her broadcasts between noon and 8 p.m. "I didn't get complaints from neighbors. But it could definitely be heard."

Over the next few months, she says, the dealers drifted away. And they haven't returned, even though she hasn't barraged the block with "How Great Thou Art" in well over a year.

Say "Amen," somebody!
In London, the British Transport Police pipe classical music into the Underground transit system, as a crime deterrent. In Canada, 7-Eleven stores and public parks have used classical music to telegraph the message that civility trumps incivility.

And last November, in Portland, Ore., the city's light-rail system - TriMet - began broadcasting Rachmaninoff and Beethoven at its 162nd St. station - ground zero for the city's worst crime.

"The results have been encouraging," says East Portland state Rep. Jefferson Smith, a champion of the pilot project. "There has been a 41 percent decrease in police service calls to the area, at a time when calls have generally increased across the region."
Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:42 PM | Permalink

"The American government must not jump the shark"

I find Walter Russell Mead enormously perceptive.  See how clearly he illuminates the life cycle of a government program.

When Government Jumps the Shark

In the first stage of a government program, there’s a terrible social problem that has people wringing their hands.  Not enough kids are going to college.  Middle class families can’t get home mortgages.  The river keeps flooding the town.  Sick old people who have worked all their lives are eating cat food in the hobo jungle.

The government offers a solution that will fix the problem at a relatively modest cost.  It is the hero cutting the heroine loose from the railroad tracks as the train approaches.  It is the Lone Ranger riding into town to fix the bad guys.  The government program in this early stage is the Great White Hope: once we get it up and running, people believe, life is going to get better.

Often it does, and a
well established and functioning government program makes itself very popular in the next phase.  Retirees are cashing Social Security checks, and the cost to those still working is very low.  More creditworthy families are building homes because federal market makers are enabling banks to lend more; more homes make for more construction jobs.  Life is getting better — and as most people count them the benefits clearly outweigh the costs.  In this second stage of life, the Great White Hope becomes the Great White Father in Washington, benignly scattering benefits among an adoring population.

In the
third stage, the law of diminishing returns sets in....At this point the program enters the third stage of life: it is now a Great White Elephant.  It is a large and expensive program that does less and less good at a higher and higher cost....

Little by little, mission creep sets in.  A powerful cluster of interests organizes around the government program.  The real estate lobby looks for ways to extend Fannie Mae’s guarantees to more people.  Programs and subsidies become steadily more complex, less comprehensible.  Successive waves of ‘reform’ generally make things worse as the special interests focus with increasing power and skill on warping the programs to meet their needs and goals.

fourth stage of life comes when the Great White Elephant morphs into a Great White Shark: a man-eating terror of the deep that ruthlessly attacks anyone who gets in its way.  At this stage the government program has moved beyond being wasteful and has become unsustainable.  Fannie Mae goes from providing mortgages to creditworthy households to providing vast numbers of mortgages to uncreditworthy households, poisoning the financial system with bad loans.  Medicare is unsustainable in the medium term and hugely expensive day to day — even as the procedures and regulations of Medicare warp investment decisions across the entire health care system.

...The problem today is that we are looking not just at one or two government programs that have succumbed to elephantiasis or turned into sharks; the progressive complex of social and economic policy as a whole has reached this point.  Today many of our New Deal and Great Society programs are either elephants or sharks.  They either lead us to misallocate scarce resources in ineffective ways or they threaten us with ruin by becoming politically untouchable budget busters.

The United States must tame and reform the programs and ideas gone rogue that hammer at the sides of our boat.  We must impose our will on the fiscal chaos before the chaos works its will upon us.

The American government must not jump the shark.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:38 AM | Permalink

June 11, 2011

Stocking up on light bulbs

When I learned that the new LED 100 watt lightbulbs would cost $50 each, I fell back to buying the $2.39 GE four-pack 100 watt incandescent bulbs and storing them in my basement.  The ban on 100 watt bulbs has already begun in California and will come to the rest of the country on January 1, 2012.

Rick Moran on The light bulb police

What the government is ordering you to buy - flourescent light bulbs - contain hazardous materials that, if broken, threaten you and your family. Not only that, but the government ordered bulbs are less illuminating and give some people headaches - like my Zsu-Zsu who gets terrible migraines from flourescents.

What happens if you drop one on the floor and break it?

Fluorescent lights also carry their own environmental risks because they contain small amounts of mercury and other toxic materials. The EPA website contains three pages of consumer directions about what to do if you break a CFL bulb in your home: "Open a window and leave the room for 15 minutes or more. Shut off the central heating and air conditioning system. Carefully scoop up glass fragments and powder using stiff paper or cardboard and place them in a glass jar with a metal lid.''

Congressman Ted Poe of Texas has poked fun at these EPA guidelines by holding up a fluorescent bulb on the House floor asking: "If I dropped this, would we all have to evacuate the Capitol?" If fluorescent bulbs weren't all the rage among greens, the Consumer Product Safety Commission might ban them as a home health hazard.

Virginia Postrel on the light bulb ban

Though sponsored largely by Democrats, the ban was a bipartisan effort. It never would have become law without support from Republican senators and the signature of President Bush.

“The entire discussion of ‘phaseout of least- efficient general service light bulbs’ has been at the industry’s initiative,” Kyle Pitsor, the National Electrical Manufacturers Association lobbyist told Bingaman’s committee in 2007 testimony. “This is not a case of manufacturers dragging their heels, but of leading the way. New standards-setting legislation is needed in order to further educate consumers on the benefits of energy-efficient products.”
“Even if you care nothing about individual freedom or aesthetic pleasure, this ham-handed approach wouldn’t pass muster in a classroom at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. As pollution control, it’s horribly inefficient.”
The bulb ban makes sense only one of two ways: either as an expression of cultural sanctimony, with a little technophilia thrown in for added glamour, or as a roundabout way to transfer wealth from the general public to the few businesses with the know-how to produce the light bulbs consumers don’t really want to buy.
Or, of course, as both.

Instapundit went all out

Yeah, and I have to say I’m deeply, deeply disappointed with CFL bulbs. I replaced pretty much every regular bulb in the house with CFLs, but they’ve been failing at about the same rate as ordinary long-life bulbs, despite the promises of multi-year service. And I can’t tell any difference in my electric bill. Plus, the Insta-Wife hates the light. I’ve had somewhat better luck with LED bulbs, of which I have a couple, but though the longevity is better, the light is still inferior.

The New York Times in Bulb In, Bulb Out  explores the new LED development in Silicon Valley and the competition to win the L Prize, a government sponsored award meant to spur the development of replacements for Edison's bulb.

Later, the committee heard from a panel of experts, including Howard Brandston, a former professor at R.P.I.’s Lighting Research Center. Brandston’s résumé includes everything from theater work to illuminating the Statue of Liberty, but lately he has become the Paul Revere of the movement to save the light bulb, giving speeches to industry conferences and a Tea Party rally in front of the White House. In his testimony, he warned of potential problems with compact fluorescents, which contain trace amounts of mercury. “Some of the most knowledgeable people I know,” Brandston said, “have begun to stockpile a lifetime supply of incandescent lamps.”

Anyway, t
he whole project seemed absurd to him: why create a technological marvel just to reproduce the light we already have? When Brandston turned on the incandescent, he beamed with satisfaction at Edison’s warm and wasteful glow. “Look at that,” he said. “It’s a perfect thing.”

I'm with the Wall Street Journal in their declaration that Americans deserve their choice of illumination.

In classic doublespeak, the Department of Energy explains that outlawing incandescent bulbs will "empower consumers with lighting choices." Unless your choice is to buy the light bulb the government doesn't like. If Republicans can't understand the appeal of sparing Americans from the light bulb police, what are they good for?
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:35 PM | Permalink

"The paramilitarization of the education bureaucracy"

From Mark Steyn's Road to Nowhere

Random example from the headlines: The paramilitarization of the education bureaucracy. The federal Department of Education doesn’t employ a single teacher but it does have a SWAT team: They kicked down a front door in Stockton, Calif. last week and handcuffed Kenneth Wright (erroneously) in connection with a student-loan “investigation.” “We can confirm that we executed a search warrant,” said Department of Education spokesperson Gina Burress.

The Department of Education issues search warrants? Who knew?
The Brokest Nation in History is the only country in the developed world whose education secretary has his own Delta Force. And, in a land with over a trillion dollars in college debt, I’ll bet it’s got no plans to downsize.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:04 PM | Permalink

"If you have character, you lead. If you don’t have character, you don’t lead, but rather manipulate."

In a week when we all learned more about Anthony Weiner than we ever wanted to know, I find it an encouraging sign when people have begun talking about the importance of virtue.

David Brooks tells recent college graduates,  It's Not All About You

Today’s grads enter a cultural climate that preaches the self as the center of a life. But, of course, as they age, they’ll discover that the tasks of a life are at the center. Fulfillment is a byproduct of how people engage their tasks, and can’t be pursued directly. Most of us are egotistical and most are self-concerned most of the time, but it’s nonetheless true that life comes to a point only in those moments when the self dissolves into some task. The purpose in life is not to find yourself. It’s to lose yourself.

Following up Brooks In the Harvard Business Review, Bill Taylor says We Is Bigger Than Me

I'm with Brooks and his words of warning against the cult of self-fulfillment. The more executives, entrepreneurs, and talented individuals I get to know, the more convinced I become that true happiness, a genuine sense of satisfaction, comes, as Brooks suggests, not from "finding" yourself but from losing" yourself — in a company you believe in, a cause you are prepared to fight for, a commitment to solve a problem that has defied solution.

The most interesting piece was an interview by Zoe Romanowsky with Alexandre Havard who says the key to being an effective leader is virtue because virtue creates trust and enhances the leader's capacity to act.

On Leadership and Virtue

What makes an effective leader? Aristotle, Augustine, and Thomas Aquinas said it was virtue. French-born lawyer Alexandre Havard agrees: As founder of the Havard Virtuous Leadership Institute (HVLI), he’s developed a leadership model based on aretology — the philosophy of virtue — that is resonating with top-level leaders in government, the private sector, and the religious arena.
In my research, I quickly came to the conclusion that authentic leadership must be based on an authentic anthropology, one that includes aretology, the science of virtues
. Virtue is a habit of the mind, the will, and the heart, which allows us to achieve personal excellence and effectiveness. Leadership is intrinsically linked to virtue. First, because virtue creates trust — the sine qua non of leadership. Second, because virtue, which comes from the Latin virtus, meaning “strength” or “power,” is a dynamic force that enhances the leader’s capacity to act. Virtue allows the leader to do what people expect of him.

[L}eadership is not about rank or position or being on top of the heap. Leadership is a way of being that can be lived by everyone, no matter his or her place in society or any given organization. The leader does not lead by means of potestas, or the power inherent in his office or functions. He leads by means of auctoritas, which proceeds from character.
If you have character, you lead. If you don’t have character, you don’t lead, but rather manipulate.

Leadership is also not a question of temperament but character. Leaders are trained, not born. Temperament is not an obstacle to leadership, whereas
lack of character — i.e., the moral energy that prevents us from being slaves to biology — most definitely is.

Leadership is about achieving greatness and bringing out greatness in others. All of us are called both to lead and to be led, to serve and to let ourselves be served.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:22 AM | Permalink

Just sitting on a park bench can get you a ticket in New York City

When the state has gone far too far. When just sitting on a park bench can get you a ticket in New York City, the government is out of control. 

'We were treated like child molesters': Fury of woman fined for sitting in playground without a child

After buying their coffee and donuts, they walked across the street to sit in the park and enjoy the June sunshine.

But just minutes later the three women and one man were swooped on by two cops who gave them a $50 fine - for not having a child with them.

They were told that they were sitting in a children’s play area and, as they were on their own, they had broken the law.

The two female friends and a girlfriend and her boyfriend now face having to go to court to ‘clear their name’ or pay the ‘ridiculous’ fine.

They have now spoken out to shame the New York Police Department after being ‘treated like child molesters’ for doing nothing more than sit on a park bench.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:03 AM | Permalink

Quotes of the week

The environment is much too important to be left to environmentalists. They'll just make an even bigger mess of everything, like they have on climate change.

Steven Hayward

I don't want a religion that accepts me for who I am.  I know who I am and am unimpressed.  I want a religion that calls me to be better than I am even as I resist it.

Matt Archbold

The first is, never put anything into cyberspace that you wouldn’t want your mother to see. The second is, never put anything into cyberspace that you wouldn’t want your mother to see, and the third is like the other two.

Carolyn Moynihan

This is perennially the work of the barbarian, to undermine rational standards of judgment, to corrupt the inherited intuitive wisdom by which the people have always lived and to do this not by spreading new beliefs but by creating a climate of doubt and bewilderment in which clarity about the larger aims of life is dimmed and the self-confidence of the people is destroyed so that finally what you have is an impotent nihilism.

John Courtney Murray via  William Gavin

"One German organic farm has killed twice as many people as the Fukushima nuclear disaster and the Gulf Oil spill combined."


“The nuns taught us there were two ways through life. The way of nature and the way of grace. Nature is willful; it only wants to please itself, to have its own way. … It finds reasons to be unhappy when all the world is shining around it. Grace doesn’t try to please itself; it accepts being slighted, accepts insults and injuries. … No one who follows the way of grace ever comes to a bad end.”

Jack's mother in the Tree of Life in Steven Greydanus's review

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:58 AM | Permalink

June 9, 2011

" [T]he American dream didn’t die of old age; it was murdered"

Walter Russell Mead again.  I can't help it, he's so good and a Democrat besides.

Fanniegate: Gamechanger For The GOP?

The Republican Party and especially its Tea Party wing have just acquired a new weapon of mass destruction — and it has nothing to do with any of Congressman Wiener’s rogue body parts.  ....

The Tea Party WMD stockpile is currently stored in book form:
Reckless Endangerment: How Outsized Ambition, Greed, and Corruption Led to Economic Armageddon. By Gretchen Morgenson, one of America’s best business journalists who is currently at The New York Times, and noted financial analyst Joshua Rosner, Reckless Endangerment gives the best available account of how the growing chaos in the mortgage and personal finance markets and the rampant bundling of dubious loans into exotically toxic securities plunged the world, and millions of American families, into the gravest financial crisis since World War Two. It is gripping reading as well, and its explanations are clear enough that readers without any background in finance will have no trouble following the plot. 

The villains?  An unholy alliance between Wall Street, the Democratic establishment, community organizing groups like ACORN and La Raza, and politicians like Barney Frank, Nancy Pelosi and Henry Cisneros.  (Frank got a cushy job for a lover, Pelosi got a job and layoff protection for a son, Cisneros apparently got a license to mint money bilking Mexican-Americans of their life savings in cheesy housing developments.)
If Morgenstern and Rosner are to be believed, the American dream didn’t die of old age; it was murdered and most of the fingerprints on the corpse come from Democratic insiders.  Democratic power brokers stoked the housing bubble and turned a blind eye to the increasingly rampant corruption and incompetence at Fannie Mae and the associated predatory lenders who sheltered under its umbrella; core Democratic ideas may well be at fault.
The story also undercuts what little is left of the credibility and the moral authority of the American establishment.  What is especially shocking in this story is that the higher up and more powerful people are usually the most venal and corrupt.  Low level researchers and bureaucrats are constantly raising questions and preparing devastating reports that expose the flawed premises behind Fannie Mae’s policies.  They are being constantly slapped down by the well connected and the well paid.  The American establishment does not have the necessary moral strength and intellectual acuity to run the affairs of this country; Tea Party believers will find much in this book that confirms their worst fears.

Republicans of course have a few financial scandals of their own that Democrats can take out and rattle.  But because Fanniegate offers a clear storyline, identifiable villains linked to specific disasters that have hit tens of millions of Americans in the pocketbook, and is overwhelming a story of Democratic abuses of Democratic ideas,
Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:58 PM | Permalink

June 8, 2011

Strangest wedding photo -UPDATED


World's most pierced woman gets married to balding civil servant

Elaine Davidson, who has almost 7000 piercings covering her body, married Douglas Watson, at a low-key wedding reception in Edinburgh.

Brazilian-born Miss Davidson, 46, made a bizarre sight in a flowing white wedding gown and floral tiara with only her face visible, which was painted green and covered in 192 piercings.

It contrasted markedly from her older husband, who is aged in his 60s, who was more conservatively-dressed in a simple navy suit, a sky-blue shirt and Marks and Spencer tie. The two bridesmaids were dressed in pink.
When first accredited by a Guinness World Record official in 2000, Miss Davidson had 462 piercings, with 192 in her face alone.

The former nurse now has 6,925 including more than 1,500 that are "internal" that are said to weigh almost seven pounds.

Love is indeed blind.


Miss Davidson has previously said she never removes the rings and studs, which she estimates weigh a total of around three kilos.
She said in February 2009, when she had 6,005 piercings including
1,500 that are 'internal': 'I don't enjoy getting pierced, but to break the record you have to get to a high level.  'I wanted to break the record.
On her own website,
Miss Davidson, who also sleeps on a bed of nails and has walked on fire and glass, says she enjoys extreme sports and theatre, but does not drink or smoke.


Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:06 PM | Permalink

"Small business formation as the key to mass middle class prosperity in the next fifty years"

Rather than focusing on home ownership, American social policy should probably be looking at small business formation as the key to mass middle class prosperity in the next fifty years.

The American Dream is not in the last analysis a farm or a home and a good job.  It is the dream that through hard work and good choices the average American can be prosperous and independent, and that ordinary people with these life experiences can govern themselves wisely and well without the ‘guidance’ of their ‘betters’.

That dream is timelessly valid, and it is still the thing that people around the world admire most about the United States.  We are going to have to re-imagine and re-engineer the dream to keep it alive in the decades ahead, but that shouldn’t daunt us.  America is a nation of dreamers; building the future by following those dreams is what we do best.

Walter Russell Mead on The Death of the American Dream II

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:37 AM | Permalink

June 7, 2011

The Biggest Skin Cancer Breakthrough in 30 years

Late stage patients with melanoma have very few options until now.

Skin cancer 'wonder' drugs that could offer years more life in biggest breakthrough for 30 years

Two ‘wonder’ drugs significantly increase the chances of surviving advanced melanoma – the most dangerous and aggressive form of skin cancer, it was revealed today.

It is the biggest breakthrough in the fight against the disease for more than 30 years, say doctors, with patients getting extra months and sometimes years of life.

Trials show the drugs ipilimumab and vemurafenib both prolong survival.But the best results suggest that, using ipilimumab, the number of patients alive three years after diagnosis is almost twice that of those receiving standard treatment.

In the U.S. there were an estimated 68,000 new cases of melanoma in 2010, with 8,700 reported deaths.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:54 PM | Permalink

What a mess

Updated Unemployment Stimulus Graph

The original graph from Obama's former Chair of the Council of Economic Advisor Christina Romer in January 2009 who resigned last September updated. 

Maybe, that's why Obama's current top economic adviser, Austan Coolsbee, resigned from the White House so he can keep his job at the University of Chicago.

Democrat political strategist James Carville said, "This unemployment rate, for this long, is a humanitarian crisis of the first magnitude."

He continued "People, you know, if it continues, we’re going to start to see civil unrest in this country. I hate to say that, but I think it’s imminently possible.”

There is a shortfall of 11 million jobs needed to keep up with the growth of the working-age population.

Michael Barone says employers have gone on a hiring strike because of the threat of more tax increases and increased regulatory burdens,

Nearly 40% of homeowners who took out second mortgages are now underwater on their loans, more than twice the rate of owners who didn't take out such loans.

The federal government now has $61.6 trillion in unfunded obligations that amounts to $534,000 per household, according to an analysis by USAToday.

Once Obamacare starts to kick in during 2014, 30% of companies say they'll stop offering coverage.  There have been a number of waivers  - 1372 - exempting employers from increasing the amount of health care coverage granted by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, mainly to labor unions or businesses that are in former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's district.

Now it turns out that HHS never had authority to issue exemptions.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:46 PM | Permalink


Healthline has a new and fascinating to visualize the various layers of human body, called BodyMaps


Check it out.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:58 PM | Permalink

June 6, 2011

The Misunderstood Virtue of Humility

David Brooks, IMHO, after sitting  on a panel at the Association for Psychological Science and learning that 

Humility has a bad reputation. ...

June Tangney of George Mason University emphasized that humility is not equivalent to low self-esteem. Rather, the humble person has an accurate view of herself. She can acknowledge her mistakes. She has low self-focus. She is aware of her place in the grand scheme of things and is sensitive to larger and possibly higher forces.

The humble person has the ability to be “unselved.”

Humility is not modesty either, Tangney argues. The modest person has a moderate view of himself, but may still think about himself all the time. 
Humility is better seen as the opposite of narcissism. The narcissist has a damaged sense of self and is consequently self-centered a great deal of the time, reacting in defensive ways to ego threat. The humble person has an accurate and durable sense of self and can see the relationship between the self and the larger world.

Jennifer Crocker of Ohio State spoke next and

described the tension between self-transcendence and self-affirmation. Self-affirmation is about being proud and powerful and in control. Self-transcendence is about being engaged in activities in which the self is melded into a task or a relationship. According to various studies Crocker cited, people who have experienced self-transcendence are more open to evidence that counters their own views, and feel more connected to others.

How interesting that scientists are coming around to the view that people who seek self-transcendence feel more connected to others.  This is what religions have taught for millennia

Father Z wrote on the feast of the Ascension

When we read the Church Fathers something important is added. The correct ascent of man occurs precisely where he learns, in humbly turning toward his neighbor, to bow very deeply, down to his feet, down to the gesture of the washing of feet. It is precisely humility, which can bow low, that carries man upward. This is the dynamic of ascent that the feast of the Ascension wants to teach us.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:51 PM | Permalink

The most worrisome thing about cell phones

Will your mobile turn you into a hunchback?

How many people do you see walking down the street with their head held high these days? The answer is virtually none.

Whether they’re choosing a song on their iPod, tapping out a text message on their phone or checking an email on their Blackberry, you’re more likely to see the top of their head than their eyes.

New technology might make communication easier — but is it turning us into hunchbacks? In a word ‘Yes’, says Kirsten Lord, managing director of the Edinburgh Physiotherapy Centre and a chartered physiotherapist.

Our bodies are a product of what we do on a daily basis and the change in lifestyles is definitely changing our bodies,’ she says.

‘If you’re constantly looking down, you develop a forward curvature that rounds the whole spine.

‘Your shoulders come forward and become more rounded, and standing upright and lengthening the neck may feel abnormal because the muscles you need to use have become shortened through lack of use.’

I've increasingly noticed this especially among younger people. 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:33 PM | Permalink

"I am a scientist who was on the carbon gravy train"

David Evans writes for the Financial Post

The debate about global warming has reached ridiculous proportions and is full of micro-thin half-truths and misunderstandings. I am a scientist who was on the carbon gravy train, understands the evidence, was once an alarmist, but am now a skeptic. Watching this issue unfold has been amusing but, lately, worrying. This issue is tearing society apart, making fools out of our politicians.

We are now at an extraordinary juncture. Official climate science, which is funded and directed entirely by government, promotes a theory that is based on a guess about moist air that is now a known falsehood. Governments gleefully accept their advice, because the only ways to curb emissions are to impose taxes and extend government control over all energy use. And to curb emissions on a world scale might even lead to world government -how exciting for the political class!

Not just our politicians.  Read what Richard Glover, columnist for the Sidney Morning Herald writes

Surely it's time for climate-change deniers to have their opinions forcibly tattooed on their bodies.

Remarkable isn't it.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:29 PM | Permalink

June 4, 2011

Unintended Consequences

1985 Live Aid - Bob Geldorf organizes rock stars from around the world to raise money to help starving children in Ethiopia.

Wikipedia: It was one of the largest-scale satellite link-ups and television broadcasts of all time: an estimated global audience of 1.9 billion, across 150 nations, watched the live broadcast

The corrosive legacy of Live Aid

The event was an amazing feat of organisation and an astonishing spectacle.  But tragically for an event born out of heartfelt concern for people suffering in a foreign land, it has had a negative impact. The more time passes, the more clearly we see the corrosive legacy of Live Aid.
The signs were there from the start.
To begin with, there was the lack of African artists invited to perform at an event that urged the world not to ignore Africa.
Another critic was Baaba Maal, Grammy-winning Senegalese singer and a widely-respected campaigner on education and health.

'If African artists aren't given a chance, how are they going to sell records and take the message back to Africa?' he asked, adding that Africans were tired of people using the name of their continent without understanding their needs--
So, what about the issue that sparked the event — the heart-wrenching pictures of those starving children in Ethiopia?

There was a terrible famine, indeed, but what we were not told was there was surplus food elsewhere in the country.
The problems were largely man-made, the legacy of civil war and brutal policies pursued by a ruthless Marxist government.

The programmes of forced resettlement and agricultural collectivisation were similar to those pursued by Stalin in Ukraine in the Thirties and the result was the same — death, destruction and mass hunger.
Just imagine how much more tourism — and trade — there would be for such countries without the long shadow cast by Live Aid.

Instead, too many people view Africa as one country, a festering swamp of torment and trouble, rather than the vibrant, diverse, resourceful and increasingly-successful continent that it is, home to several of the world's fastest-growing economies.

This is the tragic legacy of Live Aid.

The harsh truth is that for all those good intentions, these concerts have scarred a generation, distorted political priorities, dislocated our view of the world and disrupted attempts to provide genuine and productive help.

But they have been very good for a few western pop stars.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:42 PM | Permalink

Every 5 minutes a Christian is martyred

Astonishing number of true martyrs

"Worldwide emergency" says sociologist, Every 5 Minutes a Christian is Martyred 

A sociologist representing a European security organization says that the number of Christians killed each year for their faith is so high that it calculates to one martyr's life being taken every five minutes.

Massimo Introvigne of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) reported this data at a conference on Christian-Jewish-Muslim interfaith dialogue, which concluded today in Hungary. The conference was sponsored by the Hungarian presidency of the Council of the European Union, and included a variety of high-level representatives from the three monotheistic religions, as well as political and social leaders.

Introvigne reported that
Christians killed every year for their faith number 105,000, and that number includes only those put to death simply because they are Christians. It does not count the victims of civil or international wars.

"If these numbers are not cried out to the world, if this slaughter is not stopped, if it is not acknowledged that the persecution of Christians is the first worldwide emergency in the matter of violence and religious discrimination, the dialogue between religions will only produce beautiful conferences but no concrete results," he stated.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:21 AM | Permalink

"It has to do with a child's happiness, moral development and tenderness of heart"

Meghan Cox Gurdon on young adult fiction, Darkness Too Visible

Contemporary fiction for teens is rife with explicit abuse, violence and depravity. Why is this considered a good idea?

How dark is contemporary fiction for teens? Darker than when you were a child, my dear: So dark that kidnapping and pederasty and incest and brutal beatings are now just part of the run of things in novels directed, broadly speaking, at children from the ages of 12 to 18.

Pathologies that went undescribed in print 40 years ago, that were still only sparingly outlined a generation ago, are now spelled out in stomach-clenching detail. Profanity that would get a song or movie branded with a parental warning is, in young-adult novels, so commonplace that most reviewers do not even remark upon it.

If books show us the world, teen fiction can be like a hall of fun-house mirrors, constantly reflecting back hideously distorted portrayals of what life is. There are of course exceptions, but
a careless young reader—or one who seeks out depravity—will find himself surrounded by images not of joy or beauty but of damage, brutality and losses of the most horrendous kinds.

Now, whether you care if adolescents spend their time immersed in ugliness probably depends on your philosophical outlook. Reading about homicide doesn't turn a man into a murderer; reading about cheating on exams won't make a kid break the honor code. But
the calculus that many parents make is less crude than that: It has to do with a child's happiness, moral development and tenderness of heart. Entertainment does not merely gratify taste, after all, but creates it.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:13 AM | Permalink

June 3, 2011

The Heart of Michigan

This is so terrific.  Simply the best introduction to a city and its people that I have ever seen. 

The past few years have been difficult for the people of Michigan, so to see this video of all these people co-operating, playing their part, having fun in one very well- organized and creative video gives me heart and hope that beneath and behind all the problems the country faces, there are real and good Americans filled with the American spirit. 

And there's nothing else like it.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:52 PM | Permalink

What people regret on their death beds

Via The Deacon's Bench comes this report from a palliative nurse on What most people regret on their death bed.

The top regrets center largely around living a more authentic life:

1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. [...]

2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.

This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship.

3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.

Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical details of life fall away. People do want to get their financial affairs in order if possible. But it is not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. Usually though, they are too ill and weary to ever manage this task. It is all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remains in the final weeks, love and relationships.
5.  I wish that I had let myself be happier.

This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits
Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:15 PM | Permalink

Perfect Roundness in the SubAtomic World

The more the scientists discover, the more marvelous and mysterious the world appears.  There's not a chance I could explain what an electron is other than to say it is an elementary particle that carries a negative charge  that  together with atomic nuclei made of protons and neutrons make up atoms.

Now we learn that electrons are almost perfectly round.


Researchers at Imperial College London have made the most accurate measurement yet of the shape of an electron, finding that it is almost a perfect sphere.

Experts found that the subatomic particles differ from being perfectly round by less than 0.000000000000000000000000001cm.

In layman’s terms, this means that if an electron was magnified to the size of the solar system, it would still appear spherical to within the width of a human hair.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:14 PM | Permalink

June 2, 2011

Pope Jill

Jill Abramson in an interview after it was announced that she would be  the new editor of The New York Times,

Ms. Abramson, 57, said that as a born-and-raised New Yorker, she considered being named editor of The Times to be like “ascending to Valhalla.”

“In my house growing up,
The Times substituted for religion,” she said. “If The Times said it, it was the absolute truth.”

James Tarento of the Wall St Journal responds to this most revealing quote in Give Me That Old Gray Religion

The Times has of late acted a great deal like a corrupt religious institution. This column has chronicled its often vicious and dishonest attempts--both on the editorial page and in the news sections, which Abramson will head--to shore up its own authority by trying to tear down its competitors. Examples:

• In January, the Times responded to the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords by instigating a witch hunt against "Republicans and particularly their most virulent supporters in the media," as an editorial put it--even though by the time the editorial was published, it was clear that suspect Jared Lochner was not motivated by politics.
"If the Times said it, it was the absolute truth." No. A newspaper is not a substitute for religion, and a lie is still a lie even if the New York Times says otherwise.

 Jill Abramson

How long before she is dubbed Pope Jill?  Wait.  They already have.  The WSJ was the first.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:34 PM | Permalink

"The future of energy is not what you think it is"

Michael Lind writes on Salon, Everything you've heard about fossil fuels may be wrong.

What if the conventional wisdom about the energy future of America and the world has been completely wrong?

As everyone who follows news about energy knows by now, in the last decade the technique of hydraulic fracturing or "fracking," long used in the oil industry, has evolved to permit energy companies to access reserves of previously-unrecoverable “shale gas” or unconventional natural gas. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, these advances mean there is at least six times as much recoverable natural gas today as there was a decade ago.

Natural gas, which emits less carbon dioxide than coal, can be used in both electricity generation and as a fuel for automobiles.

The implications for energy security are startling. Natural gas may be only the beginning.
Suddenly it appears that there may be enough accessible hydrocarbons to power industrial civilization for centuries, if not millennia, to come.
The environmental movement since the 1970s has been fixated religiously on a few "soft energy" panaceas -- wind, solar, and biofuels -- and can be counted on to exaggerate or invent problems caused by alternatives. Many of the same Greens who oppose fracking because it might contaminate some underground aquifers favor wind turbines and high-voltage power lines that slaughter eagles and other birds and support blanketing huge desert areas with solar panels, at the cost of exterminating much of the local wildlife and vegetation.
Wilderness preservation, the original goal of environmentalism, has been sacrificed to the giant metallic idols of the sun and the wind.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:56 PM | Permalink

"You never know that it will be the most important day of your life until the day is over. "

This personal account is the best description I have read of what it was like during the Joplin tornado

45 Seconds: Memoirs of an ER Doctor on duty during the Joplin tornadoes

My name is Dr. Kevin Kikta, and I was one of two emergency room doctors who were on duty at St. John’s Regional Medical Center in Joplin, MO on Sunday, May 22, 2011.

You never know that it will be the most important day of your life until the day is over.  The day started like any other day for me: waking up, eating, going to the gym, showering, and going to my 4:00 pm ER shift.
The whole process took about 45 seconds, but seemed like eternity. The hospital had just taken a direct hit from a category EF5 tornado.

Then it was over.  Just 45 seconds.  45 long seconds.  We looked at each other, terrified, and thanked God that we were alive.  We didn’t know, but hoped that it was safe enough to go back out to the ED, find the rest of the staff and patients, and assess our losses.

“Like a bomb went off. ”  That’s the only way that I can describe what we saw next.

He goes on with the help of those who came to volunteer and help,

Tragedy has a way of revealing human goodness.  As I worked, surrounded by devastation and suffering, I realized I was not alone.  The people of the community of Joplin were absolutely incredible.  Within minutes of the horrific event, local residents showed up in pickups and sport utility vehicles, all offering to help transport the wounded to other facilities, including Freeman, the trauma center literally across the street.  Ironically, it had sustained only minimal damage and was functioning (although I’m sure overwhelmed).  I carried on, grateful for the help of the community.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:27 AM | Permalink