August 30, 2011

"To you I send a chirp from under the left breast"

Neo-neocon has a wonderful story about the British economist John Maynard Keynes, who though very gay, fell madly in love with a Russian ballerina Lydia Lopokova, married her and remained a faithful happy husband until his death of heart disease at 62.

John Maynard Keynes, married man

Her English was terrible but beguiling: “To you I send a chirp from under the left breast,” she would write, “I place melodious strokes all over you.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:14 PM | Permalink

August 29, 2011

The Importance of Willpower to Individual Flourishing

In The Will in the World   Cordelia Fine reviews

Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength by Roy Baumeister and John Tierney.

'If there were an Olympics of desiring," the philosopher William B. Irvine once observed, "we would all make the team." Desire animates us: What, quite literally, would we do without it? Yet all too often—for about four hours a day, according to one estimate—unwanted impulses (to eat a doughnut, check Facebook, have sex with someone else's spouse) clash with our long-term goals (to be healthy, professionally productive, of good moral character). In "Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength," Roy F. Baumeister, a psychologist at Florida State University, joins forces with the New York Times science columnist John Tierney to provide an accessible, empirically grounded guide to willpower and how best to deploy it to overcome temptation.
an individual who is systematically unable to bring her behavior in line with her "real," carefully considered preferences lacks not just willpower but autonomy. She may enjoy an abundance of discrete freedoms: to choose between 12 kinds of doughnut and 20 kinds of fruit; to spend money she doesn't yet have or wait to earn it; to watch one of 100 TV channels or none. But if she lacks the willpower to restrain the desires that conflict with her overall blueprint of self-governance, then she is a slave to her urges and hardly free at all.

Messrs. Baumeister and Tierney point to empirical work showing its over-riding importance for academic, personal, career and financial success. (Remarkably, for example, self-control is a better predictor of students' college grades than IQ or SAT scores.) So crucial is self-discipline to individual flourishing, the authors suggest, that "research into willpower and self-control is psychology's best hope for contributing to human welfare."


This moral muscle has three important similarities to its flesh-and-blood counterpart. The first is that it becomes temporarily worn out with use.
The second muscle-like quality of willpower is that it is fueled by glucose.
..The only bright side to this research, it seems, is the vindication it offers to those of us who find that our sedentary but mentally taxing occupations make us ravenously hungry.
Finally, the moral muscle, like a real one, can be built up through training. Even trivial acts of self-control—like avoiding slouching—can strengthen the capacity for self-discipline in the long term
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:51 PM | Permalink

"Beijing is a nightmare. A constant nightmare"

Chinese political activist  Ai Weiwei is also an accomplished artist.  You will recognize his Birds' Nest National Stadium from the 2008 Olympics

 Al Weiwei -Birds Nest At Night

According to Wikipedia Ai Wei Wei is

active in architecture, curating, photography, film, and social and cultural criticism. Ai collaborated with Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron as the artistic consultant on the Beijing National Stadium for the 2008 Olympics. As a political activist, he has been highly and openly critical of the Chinese Government's stance on democracy and human rights. He has investigated government corruption and cover-ups, in particular the Sichuan schools corruption scandal following the collapse of so-called "tofu-skin schools" in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake.  In 2011, following his arrest at Beijing airport on 3 April, he was held for over two months without any official charges being filed; officials alluded to their allegations of "economic crimes" (tax evasion?)

Across the world, governments, human rights groups and art institutions protested his detention
and called for his release.  On June 22, 2011, Chinese authorities released him on bail, but forbade him from leaving Beijing for one year.

Yesterday,  Newsweek published an extraordinary piece he wrote about his native city, Beijing.

Beijing is two cities. One is of power and of money. People don’t care who their neighbors are; they don’t trust you. The other city is one of desperation. I see people on public buses, and I see their eyes, and I see they hold no hope. They can’t even imagine that they’ll be able to buy a house. They come from very poor villages where they’ve never seen electricity or toilet paper.
The worst thing about Beijing is that you can never trust the judicial system. Without trust, you cannot identify anything; it’s like a sandstorm. You don’t see yourself as part of the city—there are no places that you relate to, that you love to go. No corner, no area touched by a certain kind of light. You have no memory of any material, texture, shape. Everything is constantly changing, according to somebody else’s will, somebody else’s power.
None of my art represents Beijing. The Bird’s Nest—I never think about it. After the Olympics, the common folks don’t talk about it because the Olympics did not bring joy to the people.

There are positives to Beijing. People still give birth to babies. There are a few nice parks. Last week I walked in one, and a few people came up to me and gave me a thumbs up or patted me on the shoulder. Why do they have to do that in such a secretive way? No one is willing to speak out. What are they waiting for? They always tell me, “Weiwei, leave the nation, please.” Or “Live longer and watch them die.” Either leave, or be patient and watch how they die.
This city is not about other people or buildings or streets but about your mental structure. If we remember what Kafka writes about his Castle, we get a sense of it. Cities really are mental conditions. Beijing is a nightmare. A constant nightmare.

The brutality of the government is well-known from forced abortions to live harvesting of human organs from political prisoners to heavy censorship of the Internet.    Missing are 50 million girls that would otherwise be alive if they were not aborted in what can only be called gendercide.
Across the country there are tens of thousands of riots each year that go unreported.    Corruption is rampant all through the system.  Communist central planning has resulted in 64,000, 000 vacant homes being built in what has become deserted "ghost cities" across China that can be seen in satellite images..  Not to mention China is an Environmental Disaster Are-and Why that Won't Change Anytime Soon.  And by the way,  Their economic miracle is build on sand, not cement.

What convinced me that the country will implode in the near future was Ai WeiWei's essay. 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:13 PM | Permalink

The issue of the US Debt could not be made simpler

Via American Digest, Lop Off 8 Zeros

 Usdebt Made Simple

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:56 PM | Permalink

Settling the science on global warming

Lawrence Solomon writes in the Financial Post about the spectacular success at CERN which shows
New, convincing evidence indicates global warming is caused by cosmic rays and the sun — not humans

The science is now all-but-settled on global warming, convincing new evidence demonstrates, but Al Gore, the IPCC and other global warming doomsayers won’t be celebrating. The new findings point to cosmic rays and the sun — not human activities — as the dominant controller of climate on Earth.

The research, published with little fanfare this week in the prestigious journal Nature, comes from über-prestigious CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, one of the world’s largest centres for scientific research involving 60 countries and 8,000 scientists at more than 600 universities and national laboratories. CERN is the organization that invented the World Wide Web, that built the multi-billion dollar Large Hadron Collider, and that has now built a pristinely clean stainless steel chamber that precisely recreated the Earth’s atmosphere.

In this chamber, 63 CERN scientists from 17 European and American institutes have done what global warming doomsayers said could never be done — demonstrate that cosmic rays promote the formation of molecules that in Earth’s atmosphere can grow and seed clouds, the cloudier and thus cooler it will be. Because the sun’s magnetic field controls how many cosmic rays reach Earth’s atmosphere (the stronger the sun’s magnetic field, the more it shields Earth from incoming cosmic rays from space), the sun determines the temperature on Earth.

The study at CERN  was held up for 10 years as a result of pressure from the global warming establishment .  Even with the successful conclusion of the experiment,  CERN doesn't want anyone to know about it.

Weeks ago, CERN formerly decided to muzzle Mr. Kirby and other members of his team to avoid “the highly political arena of the climate change debate,” telling them “to present the results clearly but not interpret them” and to downplay the results by “mak[ing] clear that cosmic radiation is only one of many parameters.” The CER
Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:12 PM | Permalink

August 26, 2011

Preparing for Irene

Everyone on the East coast is getting ready for Hurricane Irene. 

I remember devastating hurricanes in New England when I was a very young girl.  Trees were toppled everywhere, blocking every road and we were without power for more than a week.

To see just how scary Irene is, go here and press forward

The best checklist is from Melissa Clouthier , Hurricane Irene:PREPARE!

Another good list is on Amazon, Prepare for the Next Hurricane Without Leaving Your Desk though it's too late to order anything to have it ready in time.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:33 PM | Permalink

August 24, 2011

'It's the worst possible nightmare for parents on both sides.'

What a horror for both mother and father, knowing that a child of theirs may have been born and they have no idea where or to whom.

Married couple sue fertility clinic after woman's embryos are 'implanted into a DIFFERENT woman'

A young married couple are suing an IVF clinic after their embryos were lost and may have been implanted into another woman.

Alex Walterspiel and Melanie Waters, a married couple in their 30s, conceived their three-year-old son artificially and had the remaining embryos frozen in the hope they would get pregnant again.

But when they returned to the Santa Monica clinic this year they were told the embryos had been lost.

 Melanie Waters And Son

Los Angeles court papers from a suit filed by the couple suggest the three remaining embryos are 'most likely' to have been mistakenly implanted into another woman's womb.

'They are torn apart by this,' the couple's lawyer, Andrew Vorzimer, told ABC News. 'It's the worst possible nightmare for parents on both sides.'

The couple has filed a lawsuit against their IVF specialist Dr John Jain, the president of the Santa Monica Fertility clinic.

Wisdom has not kept pace with technology.  The United States is one of the few countries in the world that does not regulate fertility clinics. 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:48 PM | Permalink

Need wise counsel? Try a philosophical counselor

Going through a difficult transition? Need some life advice?  Not satisfied with what your therapist can give you?  Don't need or want medication?  You just want wise counsel?

You may want to consider a philosophical counselor, one who relies on the eternal wisdom of great thinkers.

Patricia Anne Murphy is a philosopher with a real-world mission.

 Patricia Anne Murphy

Murphy is one of an increasing number of philosophical counselors, practitioners who are putting their esoteric learning to practical use helping people with some of life’s persistent afflictions. Though they help clients cope with many of the same issues that conventional therapists do — divorce, job stress, the economic downturn, parenting woes, chronic illness and matters of the heart — their methods are very different.

They’re like intellectual life coaches.
Not everyone needs to be medicated,” said Murphy, a thin woman with long, gray hair. “Whereas drugs can treat the body,” she said, “there may be other things that the soul needs.”

in her snug Takoma Park bungalow, she’s helping a broken-hearted patient struggle through a divorce.  Instead of offering the wounded wife a prescription for Effexor — which she’s not licensed to do anyway — she instructs her to read Epictetus, the original cognitive therapist, who argued that humans often mistake their feelings for facts and suffer as a result.
In 2010, the philosophy department at City College approved the creation of a master of arts degree in applied philosophy, which will include a specialization in philosophical counseling. It will be at least a year before the program starts accepting students. It is the first such program in the United States and the second in the world; the University of Sevilla in Spain instituted the first master of arts degree in philosophical counseling.
One 35-year-old District woman, who sought treatment because she was trapped in a tortured marriage and having an affair, described herself as the perfect patient for Marinoff’s band of philosophers.

“I wasn’t depressed or fighting bipolar disorder. I didn’t need Paxil. I just needed the skills to think clearly about what went wrong, said the woman, who works in graphic art. “I heard online about these shrink-thinker types who used John Milton, Adam Smith and Socrates, and I called right away. I wanted to know how our greatest minds would see my situation.”
“You can go on the Internet and find 100 people who are giving you advice,” Barnhill said. “But there are thinkers who are recognized for their knowledge, and ignoring them in our generation just seems like such a loss.”

Sean Holland, 37, is a self-described “philosopher in pinstripes” who has a PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and now works for a corporation based in New York. His focus is on ethical issues for companies. He also hopes to one day be a philosophical counselor.

“I was trying to find a decent job in this economy, and I found that philosophy is actually back as a respected profession,” Holland said. “We are trained problem-solvers and, in a way, we can launch a return to an old set of skills that are very much needed today.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:36 PM | Permalink

"A false statement of fact, made deliberately, is the most serious crime a scientist can commit."

‘The only ethical principle which has made science possible is that the truth shall be told all the time.  If we do not penalize false statements made in error, we open up the way for false statements by intention.  And a false statement of fact, made deliberately, is the most serious crime a scientist can commit.’ 

Dorothy L Sayers in her murder mystery Gaudy night

via Bookworm in Global warmists - garbage in, garbage out

Jim Lacey explains clearly the problem with global warming science:  it’s so hopelessly corrupt that it’s no longer possible to tell what the truth is any more.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:53 PM | Permalink

Never on a Friday

The worst day of the week to get your car serviced is Friday after lunch.  Why?

 Oil Change
...the service department is trying to push out as many vehicles as possible. Maybe a car has been there since Monday waiting on parts. Maybe there are a few cars like that. Then people pour in around lunchtime wanting oil changes. And there are the cars there already with appointments, and everyone's in a rush to get it all done. Make an appointment for a Monday morning as early as possible. It's a lot more orderly, and they'll do a better job.

Confessions of a Car Dealership Service Manager  in  Popular Mechanics

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:07 PM | Permalink

"I've been shot - I hope it doesn't ruin my new hairdo"

'I've been shot – I hope it doesn't ruin my new hairdo': 92-year-old heroine threw herself in front of crazed gunman as he blasted three in salon

A heroic 92-year-old was blasted in the neck with a shotgun when she leapt in front of a gunman who opened fire in a crowded Wales hairdressers, it was revealed today.

The woman sprang into action after Darren Williams, 45, burst through the doors of Carol Ann’s Salon in Newport, brandishing the double-barrelled gun.

The courageous widow was hit in the neck as she tried to protect hairdresser Rachel Williams, 37, from the attack by her estranged husband.

She first kicked a table towards the 16-stone bodybuilder before stepping between the gunman and his intended victim as he raised the weapon.

But Darren still fired both barrels of the shotgun - hitting his wife in the leg, the pensioner in the neck and another customer in the arm – before fleeing to woodland where he was later found dead.

‘The old lady was worried about where she had been shot because she didn't want surgeons to shave her hair - because she'd just had it cut.

The 92-year-old woman hasn't been named.  She was released from the hospital after being treated.  Hats off to her.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:38 AM | Permalink

Turning a generation of young people into debtors

Student loan debt is approaching $1 trillion, more than what all households owe on their credit cards.  This is disastrous for students who may not find  a job or take the job they really love instead of the one that pays the most or buy their first house.    They will be "hounded for life" and may  never be able to pay back all that they owe. 

Nathan Harden on The next debt bubble: college loans 

Moody’s rating agency recently issued a report that should be a wake-up call to every student now considering taking out large loans to pay for college.

Total student debt is at an all-time high -- and may top $1 trillion this year. Meanwhile, default rates are rising alarmingly. Skyrocketing tuition, lax lending standards and high rates of unemployment have created the perfect financial storm.

Some advice to college students: Learn from our government’s mistakes and avoid borrowing your way into a hole.

The Student Loan Bubble: Only Stupid People Will Be Surprised When It Bursts

Today we have more evidence that the student loan market is headed for disaster. We live in a world where the cost of education has become completely disassociated from the value that the education provides. The tuition is too damn high, and there aren’t enough high paying jobs available for all of the young people with enormous debt.  For many recent college graduates, default is inevitable.

Huffington Post

Outstanding student debt has climbed 25 percent since the start of the financial crisis in 2008, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York — an increase from $440 billion then to $550 billion now. By contrast, every other major category of consumer debt, including mortgage debt, credit card debt, auto loans and home equity loans, is lower today than it was in the fall of 2008.
Not only has student debt risen precipitously, but more and more of those loans aren’t getting paid off on time.
The problems of student-loan delinquency and default are only expected to get worse. Salaries and employment rates for recent college graduates have dropped, 

The Atlantic has a good article on The Debt Crisis at American Colleges, calling it a "pernicious trend that the colleges themselves are encouraging."

How do colleges manage it? Kenyon has erected a $70 million sports palace featuring a 20-lane olympic pool. Stanford's professors now get paid sabbaticals every fourth year, handing them $115,000 for not teaching. Vanderbilt pays its president $2.4 million. Alumni gifts and endowment earnings help with the costs. But a major source is tuition payments, which at private schools are breaking the $40,000 barrier, more than many families earn. Sadly, there's more to the story. Most students have to take out loans to remit what colleges demand. At colleges lacking rich endowments, budgeting is based on turning a generation of young people into debtors.

Worse still is that college loans are not dischargeable in bankruptcy.

So even if you file for bankruptcy, the payments continue due. Hence these stern word from Barmak Nassirian of the American Association of College Registrars and Admissions Officers. "You will be hounded for life," he warns. "They will garnish your wages. They will intercept your tax refunds. You become ineligible for federal employment." He adds that any professional license can be revoked and Social Security checks docked when you retire. We can't think of any other statute with such sadistic provisions.

At Inside Higher Ed, James Miller advises professors, Get Out While You Can

Tenure won’t save us from a higher education collapse. Start making alternative career contingency plans now because this collapse could be sudden and catastrophic.

Biggest college regrets

The day that I signed on the dotted line of my promissory note, I didn’t even understand what it would mean to have to pay back more than $40,000 in student loans. I’ll tell you what it means: living in a crappy apartment in Queens well into my 30s. I vaguely remember my dad trying to get the message through to me, but I must have had cotton in my teenage ears.

via Instapundit who said "As stories like this spread, the higher education bubble will deflate.

He says, "Something that can’t go on forever, won’t. This can’t go on forever."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:26 AM | Permalink

August 23, 2011

Too much foolish spending

In the long run, the growth in the cost of entitlements, Social Security and Medicare, are a major, major part of the deficit crisis.

In the short turn, Byron York writes, the problem is out-of-control spending on everything other than entitlements.  Half of the current deficit can be attributed to the downturn,  less tax revenues and more on income security programs like unemployment insurance and food stamps.

That's a deficit increase that would have happened in an economic crisis whether Republicans or Democrats controlled Washington. But it was the specific spending excesses of President Obama and the Democrats that shot the deficit into the stratosphere.

There is no line in the federal budget that says "stimulus," but Obama's massive $814 billion stimulus increased spending in virtually every part of the federal government. "It's spread all through the budget," says former Congressional Budget Office chief Douglas Holtz-Eakin. "It was essentially a down payment on the Obama domestic agenda." Green jobs, infrastructure, health information technology, aid to states -- it's all in there, billions in increased spending.

Like the $490,000 in Obama stimulus that created 1.72 jobs in Nevada.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:49 PM | Permalink

Prunes for your bones

Want super strong bones? How a handful of prunes a day could help prevent fractures

They may be known for helping you over an embarrassing episode of constipation but prunes have another very useful effect.

Scientists have found that post-menopausal women can protect themselves against osteoporosis and bone fractures by simply eating around 10 of them a day.

Florida State and Oklahoma State academics proved that dried plums are far better than figs, dates, dried strawberries, dried apples, and raisins for improving bone density.

 Prune Dried Plum


'Over my career, I have tested numerous fruits, including figs, dates, strawberries and raisins, and none of them come anywhere close to having the effect on bone density that dried plums, or prunes, have,' said Bahram H. Arjmandi, Florida State professor and chairman of the U.S. Department of Nutrition, Food and Exercise Sciences.

'All fruits and vegetables have a positive effect on nutrition, but in terms of bone health, this particular food is exceptional.'
'Don't wait until you get a fracture or you are diagnosed with osteoporosis and have to have prescribed medicine,' he said.

'Do something meaningful and practical beforehand. People could start eating two to three dried plums per day and increase gradually to perhaps six to 10 per day. Prunes can be eaten in all forms and can be included in a variety of recipes.'
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:25 AM | Permalink

Decision Fatigue

We only have a finite amount of willpower each day writes John Tierney in The New York Times who asks Do You Suffer from Decision Fatigue?

Decision fatigue helps explain why ordinarily sensible people get angry at colleagues and families, splurge on clothes, buy junk food at the supermarket and can’t resist the dealer’s offer to rustproof their new car. No matter how rational and high-minded you try to be, you can’t make decision after decision without paying a biological price. It’s different from ordinary physical fatigue — you’re not consciously aware of being tired — but you’re low on mental energy. The more choices you make throughout the day, the harder each one becomes for your brain, and eventually it looks for shortcuts, usually in either of two very different ways. One shortcut is to become reckless: to act impulsively instead of expending the energy to first think through the consequences. (Sure, tweet that photo! What could go wrong?) The other shortcut is the ultimate energy saver: do nothing. Instead of agonizing over decisions, avoid any choice. Ducking a decision often creates bigger problems in the long run, but for the moment, it eases the mental strain. You start to resist any change, any potentially risky move — like releasing a prisoner who might commit a crime. So the fatigued judge on a parole board takes the easy way out, and the prisoner keeps doing time.

A form of ego depletion, "Decision Fatigue" is now the subject of  scientific study and the results of the experiments are fascinating.

These experiments demonstrated that there is a finite store of mental energy for exerting self-control. When people fended off the temptation to scarf down M&M’s or freshly baked chocolate-chip cookies, they were then less able to resist other temptations...Willpower turned out to be more than a folk concept or a metaphor. It really was a form of mental energy that could be exhausted. The experiments confirmed the 19th-century notion of willpower being like a muscle that was fatigued with use, a force that could be conserved by avoiding temptation.
Part of the resistance against making decisions comes from our fear of giving up options.
Once you’re mentally depleted, you become reluctant to make trade-offs, which involve a particularly advanced and taxing form of decision making.
Spears and other researchers argue that this sort of decision fatigue is a major — and hitherto ignored — factor in trapping people in poverty. Because their financial situation forces them to make so many trade-offs, they have less willpower to devote to school, work and other activities that might get them into the middle class. It’s hard to know exactly how important this factor is, but there’s no doubt that willpower is a special problem for poor people.  Study after study has shown that low self-control correlates with low income as well as with a host of other problems, including poor achievement in school, divorce, crime, alcoholism and poor health.
The cumulative effect of these temptations and decisions isn’t intuitively obvious. Virtually no one has a gut-level sense of just how tiring it is to decide. Big decisions, small decisions, they all add up. Choosing what to have for breakfast, where to go on vacation, whom to hire, how much to spend — these all deplete willpower, and there’s no telltale symptom of when that willpower is low
people with the best self-control are the ones who structure their lives so as to conserve willpower. They don’t schedule endless back-to-back meetings. They avoid temptations like all-you-can-eat buffets, and they establish habits that eliminate the mental effort of making choices. Instead of deciding every morning whether or not to force themselves to exercise, they set up regular appointments to work out with a friend. Instead of counting on willpower to remain robust all day, they conserve it so that it’s available for emergencies and important decisions.

It's called risk avoidance in AA.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:19 AM | Permalink

August 22, 2011

"A meek man of mighty action"

Jonathan Sacks, Britain's chief rabbi,  on Reversing the Moral Decay Behind the London Riots

Britain is the latest country to pay the price for what happened half a century ago in one of the most radical transformations in the history of the West. In virtually every Western society in the 1960s there was a moral revolution, an abandonment of its entire traditional ethic of self-restraint.
This was the bursting of a dam of potential trouble that has been building for years. The collapse of families and communities leaves in its wake unsocialized young people, deprived of parental care, who on average—and yes, there are exceptions—do worse than their peers at school, are more susceptible to drug and alcohol abuse, less likely to find stable employment and more likely to land up in jail.

The truth is, it is not their fault. They are the victims of the tsunami of wishful thinking that washed across the West saying that you can have sex without the responsibility of marriage, children without the responsibility of parenthood, social order without the responsibility of citizenship, liberty without the responsibility of morality and self-esteem without the responsibility of work and earned achievement.
We have been spending our moral capital with the same reckless abandon that we have been spending our financial capital.

Janet Dailey, UK riots: The end of the liberals' great moral delusion

What real people know – and have known for quite a long time – is that the great tacit agreement which once held civic life together has been deliberately blown apart. There was a time within living memory when all reasonable grown-ups were considered to be on the same side. Parents, teachers, police, judges, politicians – decent citizens of every station and calling – formed an unspoken confederacy to uphold standards of behaviour within their own communities. But their shared values and expectations about human conduct were systematically undermined by a post-Sixties political ideology that preached wholesale disrespect for authority, and legitimised anti-social activity in the name of protest.


Somehow, we are going to have to restore trust that the operations of government and the law are not at odds with the moral inclinations of conscientious citizens. Basic to this will be the acceptance that we do not have to explain – to find legitimate reasons for – acts of wickedness: that people can do bad things for no good reason at all, and that destructive and vicious impulses are, sadly, as “natural” as charitable ones. It is futile to go on asking why the riots happened, when the question that was on the minds of most of the rioters was not “Why?” but “Why not?”

With the exception of few leftists who continue to excuse the rioters,  everyone who is paying attention sees clearly the rot that has infested modern, western culture.  Yet  few understand the important role faith communities have in building up the civic culture and in reversing the downward spiral of culture and society

Damian Thompson Benedict XVI in Spain: a triumph for this 'meek man of mighty action' (despite the best efforts of the BBC)

The crowd-pulling power of Benedict XVI is almost miraculous, given the contrast with his openly charismatic predecessor, and his former image as a conservative “enforcer”.
I’m very struck by the rapport – so evident during the Pope’s visit to Britain – that Benedict has established with young people. Partly it’s his grandfatherly charm; partly his spiritual message, expressed in language that is neither platitudinous nor patronising. What a breath of fresh air for young people exposed to bishops’ conferences’ “youth ministries”, with their dumbed-down homilies and 1970s folksy musak. The Herald’s Madeleine Teahan, definitely a young Catholic writer to watch, came up with a lovely phrase for this Pope: “A meek man of mighty action”.

 Papal Mass

James Bradley, a year ago an Anglican, now  a deacon in the Personal Ordinate of Our Lady of Walsingham that Pope Benedict set up,  sang the Gospel in front of the Pope and half a million youth

After hours of liturgical rehearsals, sound checks and walk-throughs I thought I was more than ready for the liturgy, but I’m not sure that anything would have adequately prepared me for the sheer joy which echoed around the streets of the city.

As the papal entourage entered Plaza de Cibeles, more than half a million young adults from five continents erupted with cheers of welcome: “Viva! Viva!.” Faithful to the Church, hungry for Christ, and with a deep respect for the papacy, the volume showed just how vibrant and alive the Catholic Church is among the young, and especially how much they love and revere Pope Benedict.

Spanish leftists harassed the young pilgrims in Madrid as one young woman writes.

We went in and people were shouting filthy slurs and cursing the Pope and it was awful
So we knelt down and prayed a Rosary for them in the crowd and got surrounded by angry protesters, shouting and threatening and spitting and filming us and mocking us and trying to burn our flags.
A gay couple came and made out in front of us but whatever...

 Pilgrim-Madrid Protestors

Atheist Richard Dawkins blasts  the Catholic Church

... It is extremely powerful and its "moral" crusades adversely affect the lives of millions of people in Europe and in the world.

and announces a London march for secularism on Sept 17.

Fr Dwight Longenecker on Dawkins' Rage and WJD

The Catholic Church mounts World Youth Day and over a million young people from around the world turn up to be public about their love for the Catholic Church. You know that million represent another ten million who would love to be there. They are young. They are positive. They are smart. They are energetic, and they are joyful. Watch the video of Antonio--a boy "born deaf and near death" for a shining example of what it means to be young, to be Catholic and to be pro-life.

In contrast have a look at your usual atheist-secularist gathering. They're old. They're dull. They're negative. They're tired and most of all they're angry. The more they organize their graying, baying crowds of worn out sexually exhausted has beens the better. They make our World Youth Day crowds look like the future. Which they are.

-Nuns Wyd Madid

This makes me laugh out loud with joy, for Richard Dawkins in his impotent rage is now raining on his own parade. He is increasingly marginalized as a shrill and incoherent shadow of his former self. Once an eminent scientist his public persona is now of the wild eyed extremist--the sort of irrational atheist who would gladly suppress religion in the name of 'freedom', close church schools in the interests of education, and forbid religious education and enforce atheist indoctrination in the name of 'freedom of thought'.

Father Blake, in advance of WYD, wrote about Dawkins in Two Different Worlds.

Richard Dawkins brought at least one lapsed Catholic back to the Church during the Papal visit to the UK. She saw the the anti-Pope snarling mob led by Dawkins and Tatchel, with their plastic devil horns and inflated condoms, sex "toys" and angry faces and she saw the sheer joy of those cheering the Pope and the banners carried by the enthusiastic youth. She said it wasn't about arguments, it was about faces.  Dawkins & co. glaring and hopeless, those who were there cheering the Pope full of hope and smiling - anger and joy, hate and love. For her it was the contrast between two worlds, signified by the Pope and Dawkins, faith and faithlessness, hope and hopelessness, the spiritual and the material, light and darkness.

 Catechesissm Wyd

A pilgrim to WYD writes in the Huffington Post

Pilgrims will likely not forget hiking with temperatures over 90 degrees in order to encounter the million other people arriving at the same site and looking for a place to sleep, only for their belongings later to be soaked or blown away by the rain and high winds that caused a chapel constructed on the site to collapse. Still, inclement weather was but a preface to the deeper atmosphere at the conclusion of World Youth Day in Spain.

At the beginning of his homily, Pope Benedict expressed that his heart was full of joy in seeing young people from all ends of the world gathered together - and still gathered together, despite how the weather affected the almost entirely tent-less pilgrims who slept outside the night before. Many had responded to the storm with even more singing and dancing, and millions of us here in Madrid had tasted a similar joy during this week.

And the joy was contagious


The 20th-century Jesuit Pierre Teillhard de Chardin said that "joy is the most infallible sign of the presence of God." After seeing the Pope, encountering over a million fellow young people who share their faith, attending liturgical celebrations in various languages with music that moves their hearts, many young people explicitly attest to feeling as if they have been in the presence of God and that they are "rooted in Christ"-- part of the theme of this year's World Youth Day. All while exuding a contagious joy that can be an indication of that presence.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:03 PM | Permalink

The Pope attracts 1.5 million young in Madrid

In contrast to the London riots, World Youth Day or week unfolded last week in Madrid with one and a half million young people attending to be with each other and to listen to and pray with Pope Benedict XVI.

Andrew Brown writes The pope draws 1.5 million young people to Madrid – but that's not news?
The media focus on the anti-pope protests, but ignore World Youth Day, perhaps because its attendees aren't cool.

the ability of mainstream Christianity to attract a crowd of 1.5 million young people seems to me a damn sight more newsworthy, since we expect people to protest against the pope, and we do not expect them to turn out in large numbers to support or see him.

 Crowdb16 Spain Flags

Indeed, if you wanted to see a truly universal event with people from all over the world, you had to tune in to Catholic TV because the News media skip World Youth Day, ignoring

one of the biggest stories on the planet right now. Certainly, the most positive and hopeful one at the moment.

Where are all the social commentaries now? After weeklong rioting and violence in London by hostile youth mobs seized world media attention in continuous news cycles filled with political and social analysis, we have a weeklong ‘event’ in another European capital with a million young people pouring in from all over the globe and it’s largely and intentionally ignored by big media.
This is a hugely important human event. Benedict is talking to them about ‘the full measure of what it means to be human’, about totalitarianism, lack of reference to God, utilitarian ideologies closed to reason, and the authentic idea of a university and the search for truth. He quoted Plato: ‘Seek truth while you are young, for if you don’t it will later escape your grasp.’

-Mass Plaza-Des-Cibeles

John Allen, an astute observer of the Vatican gives us the Big Picture of what's happening.

For the most part, it’s a mistake to diagnose this trend in ideological terms, as if it’s about the politics of left vs. right. For today’s younger Catholics, it’s more a matter of generational experience. They didn’t grow up in a stuffy, all-controlling church, so they’re not rebelling against it. Instead, they’re rebelling against a rootless secular world, making them eager to embrace clear markers of identity and sources of meaning.

USA Today For these millennials, faith trumps relativism

Crowds of young people throng the streets, singing, dancing and waving flags from around the world.
When a diminutive figure emerges in a white car, they erupt, jockeying for the best view of this international superstar. A rock idol? A marquee athlete? A political prodigy?

 Young Girls Madrid

Nope: an old man — more scholar than celebrity — smiling shyly to acknowledge the adulation.

 B16-Arrives Almudena Cathedral

But this is not your average religious conference. The music is loud; the hours, late; the attendees, young, diverse, exuberant.

The whole spectacle might understandably confuse those outside of the church: Why would these young people belong to, much less celebrate, such a backward, oppressive institution as the Roman Catholic Church? And why do they seem to find Pope Benedict, 84, not just endearing but also inspiring? The answers to these questions lie in the discontent and desires of a peculiar subset of the millennial generation.

The author, a millennial herself explains

As a member of this strange millennial cohort, I have wondered this myself. I think the answer comes down to this: 1960s-style liberation — from moral codes, family obligations, religious commitments — has betrayed us. Sometime in the past century, a new creed emerged, saying everyone should make his own creed. This tolerant, open-minded ethos seemed to promise freedom: safe sex with many partners, drugs and alcohol galore and quick, no-fault divorce. So our Baby Boomer parents partied hard, yet in so many cases left us only the hangover: heartbreak, addiction and broken homes, plus rising rates of teenage depression and suicide.

The anything-goes religion of the late 20th century cannot prevent nor even explain these consequences. (After all, if I'm OK, you're OK, and we can do whatever we want, why are so many people unhappy?) When every member of a society does whatever makes him feel good, the inevitable results are not personal fulfillment and communal harmony but selfishness and social breakdown.

With these realizations in mind, many millennials reject the assumptions of 1960s liberationists in favor of something more substantial: the creeds, practices and moral codes that defined religious life for centuries. Unlike reductionistic scientism or vague romanticism, traditional religions propose specific, compelling explanations for the world in front of us — broken, fraught with suffering, enslaved to sin, but nonetheless revealing glimpses of beauty and greatness.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:44 PM | Permalink

August 20, 2011

Drink your wine, save your mind


A glass or two of wine or beer a day can help to stave off Alzheimer's, biggest ever study finds

A glass or two of wine each day can help reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's, the biggest ever study has found.

Researchers discovered those who indulged in light to moderate social drinking were 23 per cent less likely to develop forms of dementia and cognitive impairment.

'It is well accepted that a glass of wine is good for your heart and reduces coronary artery and cardiovascular diseases,' said Edward J Neafsey, a co-author of the study carried out at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.

He added that moderate alcohol consumption had the same effect on the brain.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:15 PM | Permalink

Muphry's Law

 Muphry's Law

Muphry’s Law

Muphry’s Law is the editorial application of the better-known Murphy’s Law. Muphry’s Law dictates that:

if you write anything criticising editing or proofreading, there will be a fault in what you have written;
if an author thanks you in a book for your editing or proofreading, there will be mistakes in the book;
the stronger the sentiment in (a) and (b), the greater the fault; and
any book devoted to editing or style will be internally inconsistent.

Muphry’s Law also dictates that, if a mistake is as plain as the nose on your face, everyone can see it but you. Your readers will always notice errors in a title, in headings, in the first paragraph of anything, and in the top lines of a new page. These are the very places where authors, editors and proofreaders are most likely to make mistakes.

It always pays to allow for Muphry in anything you write, or anything you are checking.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:29 AM | Permalink

Sexual freedom trumps child welfare again

David French, Ideology Trumps Child Welfare

In recent days and weeks, I’ve been pounding at the theme of how our culture and legal system place paramount importance on adult desires. Even when directly dealing with a child’s well-being (including their very right to life), the greater concern is adult happiness.

The latest example comes from Illinois, where a county judge ruled the state can decline to renew its contracts with Catholic Charities to provide publicly funded foster care and adoption services. While I haven’t read the court opinion (and thus can’t opine on the legal merits of the decision), the public policy is horrific. After the passage of the state’s civil-unions bill, Illinois officials told Catholic Charities that its policy of placing children only in married households or where single parents live alone violated state anti-discrimination law and did not fit within the very narrow religious liberty protections contained in the civil-unions statute. 

The consequence? More than 2,000 children are in danger of removal from Catholic Charities’ care — without any evidence that its care is deficient or harmful to these children. Ironically enough, this ruling comes the same week that research from the University of Virginia’s National Marriage Project unequivocally reaffirms that children do better in married households — the very households Catholic Charities prefers.

Same-sex marriage advocates have long minimized its impact on religious liberty, but as this and other examples show, both religious liberty and child welfare are ultimately subordinate to sexual freedom. 

The New York Times piece on The Two-Minus-One Pregnancy about the increasingly commonplace practice whereby twin pregnancies are "reduced" to single babies via abortion has garnered lots of attention.

For all its successes, reproductive medicine has produced a paradox: in creating life where none seemed possible, doctors often generate more fetuses than they intend. In the mid-1980s, they devised an escape hatch to deal with these megapregnancies, terminating all but two or three fetuses to lower the risks to women and the babies they took home. But what began as an intervention for extreme medical circumstances has quietly become an option for women carrying twins. With that, pregnancy reduction shifted from a medical decision to an ethical dilemma. As science allows us to intervene more than ever at the beginning and the end of life, it outruns our ability to reach a new moral equilibrium.

Ross Douthat focuses on The Failure of LIberal Bioethics

The liberal camp includes many thinkers I admire, and it has produced some of the more eloquent reflections on biotechnology’s implications for human affairs. But at least in the United States, the liberal effort to (as the Goodman of 1980 put it) “monitor” and “debate” and “control” the development of reproductive technologies has been extraordinarily ineffectual. From embryo experimentation to selective reduction to the eugenic uses of abortion, liberals always promise to draw lines and then never actually manage to draw them. Like Dr. Evans, they find reasons to embrace each new technological leap while promising to resist the next one — and then time passes, science marches on, and they find reasons why the next moral compromise, too, must be accepted for the greater good, or at least tolerated in the name of privacy and choice. You can always count on them to worry, often perceptively, about hypothetical evils, potential slips down the bioethical slope. But they’re either ineffectual or accommodating once an evil actually arrives. Tomorrow, they always say — tomorrow, we’ll draw the line. But tomorrow never comes.

While French hits the mark in 'Selective Reduction' and Self-Indulgence.

What is the common thread? A desire for life on their own terms. They want children (I don’t doubt some desperately want children; especially the older women seeking expensive and sometimes painful fertility treatments), but within certain boundaries. That’s not to say there aren’t profound and intense emotions involved, and those emotions are certainly rationalized in innumerable ways, but selfishness is the heart of the matter.
Self-indulgence is the common thread that runs through most culture war issues. From marriage to divorce to cohabitation to abortion, the desperate desire to satisfy the longings of our heart collides with a Judeo-Christian moral tradition that calls for children to be raised in faithful, married mother-father households. And so we make endless accommodations to our desires — protecting as a legal right the quest to satisfy every personal whim — and our culture cracks and crumbles.

The paradox of the human condition is that those who seek to find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life will find it. In other words, the very act of self-denial enriches your life while selfishness destroys the soul
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:37 AM | Permalink

From coast to coast, green jobs agenda a disaster

A wasted stimulus trying to  'green' the economy

During the 2008 campaign, candidate Barack Obama said he would create 5 million well-paying "green" jobs within 10 years. Politico has reported that "he's spent considerable time since entering the White House trying to make that happen."

Last week Obama toured to much fanfare a Johnson Controls plant in Michigan where $300 million in conservation grants produced 150 jobs — at a cost of $2 million per position.

Stimulus funds intended to boost the green economy haven't been well spent. The latest example of this is Monday's bankruptcy filing by Evergreen Solar Inc. The Massachusetts company that the White House once said "is hoping to hire 90 to 100 people" thanks to stimulus money has $485.6 million in debt. Evergreen closed a factory in March, reports the Boston Herald, and cut 800 jobs. A Michigan plant is to be shut down, as well, causing the loss of even more jobs.
Green Vehicles of Salinas, Calif., which has burned through more than $500,000 in money "invested" by the city, folded last month without having produced anything of significance.
in Seattle,...a  $20 million federal grant for home weatherization has, according to KOMO news, retrofitted only three houses and created 14 jobs in more than a year.

Even the New York Times Admits Obama’s Green Jobs Agenda Is a Complete Disaster

In the Bay Area as in much of the country, the green economy is not proving to be the job-creation engine that many politicians envisioned. President Obama once pledged to create five million green jobs over 10 years. Gov. Jerry Brown promised 500,000 clean-technology jobs statewide by the end of the decade. But the results so far suggest such numbers are a pipe dream.
Federal and state efforts to stimulate creation of green jobs have largely failed, government records show.

Walter Russell Mead calls it Feeding the Masses on Unicorn Ribs

The belief that green jobs would drive a new era of American prosperity was — like the large majority of green policy chat — intellectually incoherent.  The goods that drive renewable energy industries, like so much else in this world, are far cheaper to construct in Asia.
Here in particular Senator Obama as he then was would have benefited from a less gushing, more skeptical press.  If his first couple of speeches on this topic had been met with the incredulous and even mocking response they deserved, he probably would not have married himself so publicly to so vain and so empty a cause.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:51 AM | Permalink

August 18, 2011

Operation Whitecake

An extraordinary surprise from a man who listened well.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:24 PM | Permalink

Get up off the couch

If you sit all day before a computer and then go home and sit before the tube, you are risking a premature death especially if you are a woman.

Excessive sitting linked to premature death in women

Research released last fall found that women who sat for more than six hours a day had a 37 percent increased risk of premature death, compared to 18 percent for men. Those results stayed the same, even when factors such as an individual's diet, amount of physical activity and smoking were taken into account.

Dr. Alpa Patel, senior epidemiologist at the American Cancer Society, is the lead author of that study, the largest on how sitting affects mortality. The study was based on information from surveys of 123,000 people who participated in the study between 1992 and 2006.

TV shortens life by 22 minutes per viewing hour after age 25 says study out of Queensland, Australia.

Only 15 minutes of daily exercise makes a big difference

The study found those who exercised just 15 minutes a day — or 90 minutes a week — cut their risk of death by 14 percent and extended their life expectancy by three years compared with those who did no exercise. Both men and women benefited equally from the minimum activity.
In a study published in Circulation earlier this month, Lee and colleagues found that people who engaged in 15 minutes a day of moderate physical activity had a 14 percent lower risk of heart disease compared with inactive people.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:41 PM | Permalink

August 13, 2011

More reflections on the London riots

Mark Steyn: Lessons for us from London in flames

Big Government means small citizens: it corrodes the integrity of a people, catastrophically. Within living memory, the city in flames on our TV screens every night governed a fifth of the Earth's surface and a quarter of its population. When you're imperialists on that scale, there are bound to be a few mishaps along the way. But nothing the British Empire did to its subject peoples has been as total and catastrophic as what a post-great Britain did to its own.

Andrew Fox: It's J.G. Ballard's World, We Just Live in It

Readers familiar with Ballard’s final quartet of novels, all of which feature middle class professionals either diving into or being pulled into revolutionary, nihilistic violence due to ennui, boredom, or a cancerlike consumerism which has replaced religion and patriotism at the center of their psyches, will certainly nod with recognition at this article from The Daily Mail, which reveals that arrested looters and rioters included a law student, a social worker, a ballerina in training, and the school-age daughter of a millionnaire.

Telegraph editorial

This crisis has been building for years. It is the result of a major cultural shift that took place in the 1960s and 1970s, and the long-term decline of the conservative values and institutions that had underpinned British society since the late 19th century. This process was marked by a collapse in the belief in marriage, a retreat of the police from the streets, a move away from tough penalties for property crime, the rise of moral relativism and rampant consumerism, the diminution of stigma as a restraint on bad behaviour and the entrenchment of welfare dependency. It was not about poverty, but a collapse in values.

 Woman Jumping From Fire London

The woman who leapt from the flames

Miss Konczyk, who is from the Polish town of Koronowo and has a ten-year-old son called Damian, had made the huge move to England after divorcing her husband and leaving behind a job that paid her a pittance.
She said she moved to England because she considered it a great place

'I thought London was a civilised society full of gentlemen and ladies - but it is not like that. England has become a sick society.'
'I found myself jumping for my life after being attacked by thugs and thieves. They set fire to my building without any thought for anyone's safety.

'They were happy for me to die.
They were like animals - greedy, selfish animals who thought only of themselves.'

Legacy of a society that believes in nothing A.N. Wilson

Raw with grief, in a voice steady but tight with emotion, his appeal for calm on Wednesday was a beacon of hope amid the tumult and carnage of a horribly dark week for Britain.

....Mr Jahan had the dignity, the compassion and the common sense to demand an end to the violence that had shattered his life. ‘Blacks, Asians, whites — we all live in the same community,’ he said. ‘Why do we have to kill one another? Why are we doing this? Step forward if you want to lose your sons. Otherwise, calm down and go home — please.’

--Mr Jahan made an open and straightforward declaration of his faith. ‘I’m a Muslim. I believe in divine fate and destiny, and it was his destiny and his fate, and now he’s gone,’ he said. ‘And may Allah forgive him and bless him

 Father Tariq-Jahan

All the main religions are unshakeable when it comes to self-evident truths about right and wrong; about stealing, harming others, coveting goods, instant gratification and so on.
I interviewed Immanuel Jakobovits on his retirement as Chief Rabbi in Britain...His parting message as he retired, not only to the Jewish community but also to the British people, was that marriage and family life need to be learned; that if necessary we should have classes for young people, teaching them the importance of family life, of how to bring up children, how to discipline them kindly but firmly, and how to instil the sense of that moral law within.
Today, we live in a society where religion is something for which apologies must be made.
A Christian woman working for British Airways who wears a cross round her neck is asked to remove it for fear of offending other people. A nurse who prays with a patient in hospital is committing an almost criminal act. Catholic adoption agencies which disapprove of gay adoptive parents on religious grounds have their licences taken away.

And all the while, our governing classes and academics and teachers chip away at the fundamental truths of the great religions — truths that have stood the test of time for thousands of years — in their arrogant certainty that there are no moral absolutes and that the human race can make up the rules as it goes along.
I suspect that when time passes and we look back on this week, it is the religious sincerity of Tariq Jahan that we shall remember. All of us — Muslims, Sikhs, Jews, Hindus, Christians — have a rich religious inheritance.
At the core of this inheritance is a sense of right and wrong.
And in all these religions, the school where we learn of right and wrong is the family. Muslims, Jews, Sikhs and Hindus have all, very noticeably, retained this twin strand of family structure and ethical teaching.
Faith in Christianity itself began to unravel long ago, and the majority of those whose forebears were Christian are now completely secular. They would not even recognise simple Bible stories.

The events of the past week have shown the enormous value of a living religious faith.

Not only was Tariq Jahan more impressive than any of the commentators or politicians who spouted on the airwaves this week. He was more human.

By his religious response to his son’s death, he humanised not only the dreadful and immediate tragedy. He showed us that without a religion we are all less than human.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:43 AM | Permalink

August 12, 2011

A few interesting things

Some interesting things I came across this week on the Web.

The Fastest Thing on Earth  is found in horse poop!  Seriously.

Father Busa was a Jesuit priest who invented the hypertext 15 years before it was given a name, dies at 97.

What kids of the world eat at school  The comparison between countries is astonishing and America does not come out well.

98-year-old woman earns 10th degree black belt

 95Yearold Judomaster

Last week, Sensei Keiko Fukuda of San Francisco became the first woman to be promoted to judo's highest level: 10th degree black belt.

Only three people in the world, all men living in Japan, have ever reached that mark.
"All my life," Fukuda said, "this has been my dream."

Life is so Hard!   Hilarious poster series

It blew Kottke's mind.  The TV appearance of a Lincoln assassination witness

The serious business reason behind the "No Brown M&Ms" in Van Halen's contract. 

You will never think of working in the salt mines in the same way again after you see what some workers created on their own initiative over the years - an astounding subterranean salt cathedral  where even the chandeliers are made of salt.


Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:52 PM | Permalink

You can live happily ever after

Thanks to Sigmund, Carl and Alfred, I learn that  Long-Term Love Not Just a Fairy Tale: A new study finds nearly three-quarters of Americans remain “very in love” after a decade of marriage

That fairy-tale inspired narrative of wedded bliss appears to hold true for a surprisingly large number of Americans, according to a newly published study.

In a random survey, 47.8 percent of married Americans (49 percent of men and 46.3 percent of women) reported being “very intensely in love” with their spouse, according to a research team led by Stony Brook University psychologist K. Daniel O’Leary. Another 13.4 percent said they were “intensely in love,” while 26.2 percent chose the term “very in love.”

The Art of Manliness points to another study in Romantic Love Can Last

In 2010, researchers conducted a study to answer those questions. They brought in 17 people who claimed to still be in love with their spouses, with whom they had been with an average of 21 years, and scanned their brains with a functional MRI machine while each participant gazed at a picture of his or her beloved.
those who were still passionately in love after decades in a relationship enjoyed the intensity of romantic love, coupled with the stable attachment of companionate love, without the anxiety and obsession that accompanies new love, and with the added bonus of natural painkillers. A pretty nice state to be in, no?
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:52 AM | Permalink

August 11, 2011

"I was avoiding my dad's eyes as I waited with him at the end of the aisle.'

It's not a scientific poll, but it rings true.

Thirty percent of divorced women knew they were making a mistake when they walked down the aisle.

I was avoiding my dad's eyes as I waited with him at the end of the aisle. I did not want to hear any "pearls of wisdom." Instead I paid attention to the photographer. I simply could not look at my dad because I knew I was making a mistake.
Why would smart women do this? They cited many of the same reasons:

• Age: The self-imposed biological clock is starting to tick a little louder.
• "Marriage will instantly make the relationship better."
• "It's my last chance to get married and no one else will come along."
"If it doesn't work out I can always get a divorce."

Judgment aside, "these women" are your sisters, daughters, and friends. Maybe even you. Their common --yet misguided--belief is that they are better off with the wrong guy than being alone. It doesn't matter how self-actualized, independent or liberal-minded they are.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:19 PM | Permalink

How would you feel if you discovered your child was not really "yours"?

Neo's short post on DNA testing and paternity led me to this article, published two years ago in the New York Times magazine and it is, as she writes, "excellent with much food for thought."

How DNA Testing is Changing Fatherhood

For four years, Mike had known that the girl he had rocked to sleep and danced with across the living-room floor was not, as they say, “his.” The revelation from a DNA test was devastating and prompted him to leave his wife — but he had not renounced their child. He continued to feel that in all the ways that mattered, she was still his daughter, and he faithfully paid her child support. It was only when he learned that his ex-wife was about to marry the man who she said actually was the girl’s biological father that Mike flipped. Supporting another man’s child suddenly became unbearable.

Two years after filing the suit that sought to end his paternal rights, Mike is still irate about the fix he’s in. “I pay child support to a biologically intact family,” Mike told me, his voice cracking with incredulity. “A father and mother, married, who live with their own child. And I pay support for that child. How ridiculous is that?”

Over the last decade, the number of paternity tests taken every year jumped 64 percent, to more than 400,000. That figure counts only a subset of tests — those that are admissible in court and thus require an unbiased tester and a documented chain of possession from test site to lab. Other tests are conducted by men who, like Mike, buy kits from the Internet or at the corner Rite Aid, swab the inside of their cheeks and that of their putative child’s and mail the samples to a lab. Of course, the men who take the tests already question their paternity, and for about 30 percent of them, their hunch is right. Yet as troubled as many of them might be by that news, they are even more stunned to discover that many judges find it irrelevant. State statutes and case law vary widely, but most judges conclude that these men must continue to raise their children — or at least pay support — no matter what their DNA says. The scientific advance that was supposed to offer clarity instead reveals just how murky society’s notions of fatherhood actually are.
In most states, paternity decisions are governed by centuries-old English common law, the presumptions of which hold sway, whether or not they’re codified: a child born in a marriage is presumed the product of that union unless the husband was impotent, sterile or beyond “the four seas” when his wife conceived. The aim was to avoid “bastardy” and to preserve family stability — or at least the appearance of it.
Once a man has been deemed a father, either because of marriage or because he has acknowledged paternity (by agreeing to be on the birth certificate, say, or paying child support), most state courts say he cannot then abandon that child — no matter what a DNA test subsequently reveals.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:40 PM | Permalink

When Separation Can Save a Marriage.

Sometimes the people in a marriage just need to get away from each for a while.    And, if they do so, they can save their marriage. 

That's the report by Elizabeth Bernstein in the Wall St Journal, To Save a Marriage, Split Up?

It seems counterintuitive: How can a separation save a marriage? When a couple splits—even for a trial period—isn't that just a pit stop on the way to divorce?

Surprisingly, many marriage therapists recommend a separation, albeit as a measure of last resort. They say that if both spouses set specific parameters, the space and time to think that a trial separation provides just might be what is needed to save the relationship. Still, there are few, if any, statistics that show whether it works or how many couples try separating.

Sharon Gilchrest O'Neill, a marriage and family therapist in Mount Kisco, N.Y., has helped about 40 couples arrange trial separations over the past 20 years and says that about half reconciled and remained married.
[W]hat if the partners took a break before the hatred set in? It wouldn't have to be the formal separation that is often a legal precursor to divorce, but an informal break to give the spouses some space to breathe, think and calm down.

Often, the reality-check that marital separations provide—the prospect of unraveling finances, facing dating again, fully grasping the collateral damage done to the kids—is enough to make people resolve to work harder on the marriage.

"Sometimes having a dress rehearsal for divorce makes them realize they don't want to do it," says Richard Levak, a psychologist who works with couples in Del Mar, Calif.

Bernstein points out some issues to consider before trying a separation:

Get a marriage therapist. A trained professional can help mediate between the two parties.

Consult an attorney specializing in family law. Find out how the terms of the separation could affect any eventual divorce. A consultation sometimes scares people into working harder on their marriage, once they face the reality of what divorced life will be like, says Linda Lea Viken, a divorce lawyer.

Agree on logistics. Who will leave and where will that person go? Who will pay the bills? Who will take care of the kids and how much time will the other spouse be able to see them?

Consider email your friend. Writing to each other, rather than meeting or talking on the phone, can be a way to defuse the tension.

Put your agreement in writing. This doesn't require a lawyer. A therapist can do it. It protects one spouse from taking advantage of the other.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:04 PM | Permalink

August 10, 2011

Riots across England bring a national soul-searching, How did we get here?

There's a national soul-searching now going on in England as people see just how broken their society is.

David Warren

When I was writing for this paper from England at the end of the last century (it now seems such a long time ago), I said that of all the countries I had ever revisited, England was the one most changed.
Returning after the Thatcher era, I was struck by the contrast of economic recovery, with continued moral dissolution. London itself, in the sense of the buildings, was still there, but it seemed the people had left, and been replaced by these incredibly wealthy savages, who were also fashionistas and foodies.
To my mind, the basic attitudes of the underclass - a hardened, live-for-today atheism; unconcealed envy and greed; inability to care about the consequences of one's actions; indifference to any kind of social taboo - had tinctured the whole society.
Those who flaunted their wealth, and those who intended to loot it, were united in a new kind of social compact, based on the purest materialism.

Melanie Phillips says the chickens have well and truly come home terrifyingly to roost in Britain's liberal intelligentsia has smashed virtually every social value

The violent anarchy that has taken hold of British cities is the all-too-predictable outcome of a three-decade liberal experiment which tore up virtually every basic social value.

The married two-parent family, educational meritocracy, punishment of criminals, national identity, enforcement of the drugs laws and many more fundamental conventions were all smashed by a liberal intelligentsia hell-bent on a revolutionary transformation of society.
Clearly, there is some as yet unidentified direction and co-ordination behind the anarchy. But what is so notable and distressing is that, after the first day when adults were clearly involved, this mayhem has been carried out in the main by teenagers and children, some as young as eight.

The idea that they should not steal other people’s property, or beat up and rob passers-by, appears to be as weird and outlandish to them as the suggestion that they should fly to the moon.  These youths feel absolutely entitled to go ‘on the rob’ and steal whatever they want. Indeed, they are incredulous that anyone should suggest they might pass up such an opportunity.

What has been fuelling all this is not poverty, as has so predictably been claimed, but moral collapse.
The causes of this sickness are many and complex. But three things can be said with certainty: every one of them is the fault of the liberal intelligentsia; every one of them was instituted or exacerbated by the Labour government; and at the very heart of these problems lies the breakdown of the family.

For most of these children come from lone-mother households. And the single most crucial factor behind all this mayhem is the willed removal of the most important thing that socialises children and turns them from feral savages into civilised citizens: a father who is a fully committed member of the family unit.

The riots at the end of history,

The nihilistic grievance culture of the black inner city, fanned by parts of the hip-hop/rap scene and copied by many white people, has created a hardcore sub-culture of post-political disaffection. The disaffection is mainly unjustified. It’s as if the routine brutalities and racist humiliations of 30 to 40 years ago have been lovingly preserved to provide a motor of real anger for what is really just a kind of adolescent pose. But this disaffection is lionised in popular culture and feared and admired—and mainly simply ignored—by white Britain. It’s time the rest of the country took more notice.

 Tottenham-Taunt Police-1

This is what happens when multiculturalists turn a blind eye to gang culture writes Damian Thompson.

let’s just focus on one: the way Britain’s educational establishment has cringed helplessly in the face of a gang culture that rejects every tenet of liberal society. It’s violent, it’s sexist, it’s homophobic and it’s racist. But it is broadly tolerated by many people in the black community, which has lost control of its teenage youths. Those youths scare the wits out of teachers and social workers – and some police officers, too. The threat of physical violence is ever present in many schools, and one can hardly blame individual teachers for recoiling from it. But we should and must blame those schools and education authorities that have made extra space for gang culture in children’s lives because they believe it is an authentic expression of Afro-Caribbean and Asian identity.

Allister Heath, Britain's in crisis: the real causes of chaos on the street

FEAR. Debilitating, widespread fear. The country held to ransom by feckless youths. Thousands of shocked Londoners cowering in their homes, with many shops, banks and offices shutting early. I cannot remember anything like it; the atrocities of the 7/7 terror attacks, the shock from 9/11 and the IRA’s repeated terrorist attacks had a chilling, devastating effect on the capital but it felt different this time....It no longer feels as if we live in a civilised country.
The cause of the riots is the looters; opportunistic, greedy, arrogant and amoral young criminals who believe that they have the right to steal, burn and destroy other people’s property. There were no extenuating circumstances, no excuses. The context was two-fold: first, decades of failed social, educational, family and microeconomic policies, which means that a large chunk of the UK has become alienated from mainstream society, culturally impoverished, bereft of role models, permanently workless and trapped and dependent on welfare or the shadow economy. For this the establishment and the dominant politically correct ideology are to blame: they deemed it acceptable to permanently chuck welfare money at sink estates, claiming victory over material poverty, regardless of the wider consequences, in return for acquiring a clean conscience. The second was a failure of policing and criminal justice, exacerbated by an ultra-soft reaction to riots over the past year involving attacks on banks, shops, the Tory party HQ and so on, as well as an official policy to shut prisons and reduce sentences. Criminals need to fear the possibility and consequence of arrest; if they do not, they suddenly realise that the emperor has no clothes.

The long retreat of order.  Philip Johnston argues that the police ceded control of the streets to criminals decades ago. 

Part of the problem is that the breakdown of the family (or an unwillingness to form one) has left a generation of feral adolescents without fathers or any adult males to act as role models. Parents rarely know what their children are doing, and exercise little power or authority over them. Instead, their loyalty is to the gang and to its codes, rather than to the prevailing moral orthodoxies of the majority of the population. Low-level criminality is a way of life – as, for some, are drugs, robbery and routine armed violence.
There was a time when theft was regarded as a serious crime, and it still carries a maximum jail term of seven years on indictment. Yet thieves are now being treated in the same way as motorists whose cars have remained too long in a parking space. To the exasperation of retailers, the deterrents to shoplifting have virtually disappeared over the years. The industrial-scale looting and recreational rioting that have taken place around London are the ultimate expression of this lax attitude. 

Max Hastings Years of liberal dogma have spawned a generation of amoral, uneducated, welfare dependent, brutalised youngsters

The depressing truth is that at the bottom of our society is a layer of young people with no skills, education, values or aspirations. They do not have what most of us would call ‘lives’: they simply exist.

Nobody has ever dared suggest to them that they need feel any allegiance to anything, least of all Britain or their community.....Not only do they know nothing of Britain’s past, they care nothing for its present.

They have their being only in video games and street-fights, casual drug use and crime, sometimes petty, sometimes serious.

The notions of doing a nine-to-five job, marrying and sticking with a wife and kids, taking up DIY or learning to read properly, are beyond their imaginations.

 Croydon Charred Reevesfurniturestore

The Heroes of London, hundreds of Turkish and Kurdish men

When you're in a war and don't have the right to bear arms or police protection, you use whatever's at your disposal.  Hundreds of Turkish and Kurdish men, many armed with broken billiard cues, poured onto the streets to protect their businesses and homes from the kind of mayhem that was laying waste to other parts of London.
"They created a barrier and chased the kids back," said Burcu Bay, who works as a waitress at Tugra, a Turkish sweet shop and cafe on Dalston's main thoroughfare. "It was like being in a war."

In West London, hundreds of Sikh men stood guard outside their temple and mounted street patrols, armed with baseball bats.

Daniel Mitchell asks

When the welfare state collapses, will the Koreans or the Turks be in a better position to protect themselves? And what does it say about the morality of a political class that wants innocent people to be vulnerable when bad government policies lead to chaos?

Three men in Birmingham were killed 'doing the job of the police' in  protecting the homes in their community were killed when a speeding car plowed into them.    Tariq Jahan, the father of one of the victims, who desperately performed CPR on his son until he was covered in blood, speaks with immense dignity and  calls for calm stood on a wall in front of a crowd to say.

‘I lost my son. Blacks, Asians, whites – we all live in the same community.‘Why do we have to kill one another? Why are we doing this?

Christina Odone says the Poles, Turks, Kurds and immigrants in other ethnic communities Love this country more than we do.

Yet in the tight-knit enclaves peopled by Kurds, Sikhs, Poles and others, a strong sense of community does survive. Everyone knows each other and what they’re up to; and everyone shares a clear belief system.
Equally importantly, the alternatives to the family so cherished by liberals have never taken root: marriage is the model they live by and aspire to. Divorce is almost nil, single motherhood ditto; extended families living together are routine. Strong immigrant families support their children, but also supply them with a lifelong moral compass.
Over the past few days, immigrant communities have challenged the British way of life. They have dared their hosts to revive their own moribund communities, to rebuild broken families, and to adhere to a moral code. Can the natives measure up?
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:00 PM | Permalink

DRACO is in your future

Wonderful news about a  new broad spectrum anti-viral therapy  dubbed DRACO

New drug could cure nearly any viral infection

Most bacterial infections can be treated with antibiotics such as penicillin, discovered decades ago. However, such drugs are useless against viral infections, including influenza, the common cold, and deadly hemorrhagic fevers such as Ebola.

Now, in a development that could transform how viral infections are treated, a team of researchers at MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory has designed a drug that can identify cells that have been infected by any type of virus, then kill those cells to terminate the infection.

In a paper published July 27 in the journal PLoS One, the researchers tested their drug against 15 viruses, and found it was effective against all of them — including rhinoviruses that cause the common cold, H1N1 influenza, a stomach virus, a polio virus, dengue fever and several other types of hemorrhagic fever.
Rider drew inspiration for his therapeutic agents, dubbed DRACOs (Double-stranded RNA Activated Caspase Oligomerizers), from living cells’ own defense systems.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:36 PM | Permalink

Revolt of the underclass in Britain and its modern day prophet

I've been reading Theodore Dalrymple for years, so I was horrified but not at all surprised at the London riots.  They were inevitable given the decline to  Broken Britain.    I went back to read again some of my posts quoting Dalrymple's essays.  He's a modern day prophet.

Bored by Decency.  After years of working as a psychiatrist at one of Britain's prisons, observing closely the destructive behavior and environments that brought him his clients, Theodore Dalrymple analyzed the underclass.  Long term poverty, he concludes, is caused not by economics but by a dysfunctional set of values.

"not poor... by the standards of human history" but trapped in "a special wretchedness" from which it cannot emerge.

"The combination of relativism and antipathy to traditional culture has played a large part in creating the underclass, thus turning Britain from a class to a caste society. ... Henceforth what they had and what they did was as good as anything, because all cultures and all cultural artifacts are equal. Aspiration was therefore pointless: and thus they have been immobilized in their poverty -- material, mental, and spiritual -- as completely as the damned in Dante's Inferno. Having in large part created this underclass, the British intelligentsia, guilty about its own allegedly undemocratic antecedents, feels obliged to flatter it by imitation and has persuaded the rest of the middle class to do likewise."
For people who have no transcendent purpose to their lives and cannot invent one through contributing to a cultural tradition (for example), in other words who have no religious belief and no intellectual interests to stimulate them, self-destruction and the creation of crises in their life is one way of warding off meaninglessness.
Without religion or culture (and here I mean high, or high-ish, culture) evil is very attractive. It is not boring.

Where not to be a child

The worst place in the Western world to be a child is Britain reports UNICEF; Theodore Dalrymple calls it Childhood's End.

The British, never fond of children, have lost all knowledge or intuition about how to raise them; as a consequence, they now fear them, perhaps the most terrible augury possible for a society.

What happened to the British character?

Polite, considerate, self-controlled, law-abiding, tolerant of all eccentricities, humble and modest  are adjectives once used to describe the British not that long ago.

Today, the British are often described as loutish, violent, drunken, sluttish, boastful and brutish.
Lack of self-control is just as character-forming as self-control: but it forms a different, and much worse and shallower, character. Further, once self-control becomes neither second nature nor a desired goal, but rather a vice to avoid at all costs, there is no plumbing the depths to which people will sink.
Habits become character. Perhaps they shouldn’t, but they do.

"I have seen the future and it's riots"

Not long ago, I had occasion to stay for a few weeks in a once-industrial town in the north of England. The last steel mills had just closed down. I was surprised by the elegance of much of the early 19th-century architecture, now completely overwhelmed by the brutalism of the 1960s and ’70s. The prematurely middle-aged spent their time looking for secondhand clothes in charity shops. Pawnshops had also made a big comeback. Feral young men with an expression of urban predation on their faces stood around on street corners in nylon tracksuits and hoods, muttering f---ing this and f---ing that to one another. About half the people in the street were unemployed young immigrants, mainly of Middle Eastern origin, on the lookout for a bit of small-scale trafficking. Some took advantage of free Internet access in the public library—a concrete building aesthetically suitable as the headquarters of the Stasi—to look at inflammatory political sites or to search for women.

I have seen the future, and it’s riots.

He was right.

 Londonriot Taunting Hackney

In the Daily News today , Dalrymple writes Behind England's riots, a violent and entitled generation of British young people

The riots in London and elsewhere in England have confirmed what I long knew and have long preached to my disbelieving but totally unobservant countrymen: that young British people are among the most unpleasant and potentially violent young people in the world. It took determination on the part of my countrymen not to notice it.
The rioting is only the extreme end of the spectrum of bad behavior by British youth and young adults. The characteristics that are common to all classes are arrogance, a sense of entitlement and an unwillingness to moderate their behavior for the convenience of others. The main difference between the classes is that the rich can pay for what they feel entitled to, while the poor have to wheedle, cajole, swindle and steal it. But the inflamed sense of entitlement is the same.

These riots certainly did not emerge from a cultural vacuum. Many visitors to Britain, including Americans, are surprised and disturbed by how quickly many people in Britain appear to get murderously angry over trifles and direct real and frightening hatred at a person who has offended them in some very slight way. Tempers flare over nothing.
Long training and experience have taught young denizens of our poorer areas that they have nothing to fear from the law. Not only do the police solve a mere 5% of crimes or thereabouts, but nothing much happens to those who are convicted. A former lord chief justice of England, Lord Baron Woolf, thought that house burglary was so trivial a crime that those who committed it should not be imprisoned. Shoplifting has been virtually decriminalized. The slum dwellers of London are not well-educated - they reject the very concept of education - but are perfectly capable of drawing their conclusions. The only thing that will stop the rioters is boredom or exhaustion.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:43 PM | Permalink

August 8, 2011

What if the unemployment rate were 11.5 per cent

Well, that's just about what it is writes Jennifer Rubin in The Washington Post.

Buried in the job stats was a number — 193,000 — that dwarfed all the rest. That is the number of workers who left the job market. If 193,000 left and only 117,000 jobs were added, we lost 76,000 jobs. Moreover, this is not an aberration.

When President Obama took office in January of 2009, the labor participation rate was 65.7 percent. Now, “The labor force participation rate is currently 63.9 percent. That is the lowest level since 1984,” says Matt McDonald, a communications and business strategist who previously worked in the Bush administration. “If the labor force participation rate today were 65.7 percent, there would be an additional 4.2 million people in the workforce.” In that case, the unemployment rate would be 11.5 percent not 9.1 percent.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:43 PM | Permalink

Keith Jarrett playing Danny Boy

Watch and Listen to Keith Jarrett writes Michael Moriarty.  So I did.

Many years ago I went to two of his concerts and fell in love with his music and his genius.  But then, in time, I forgot about him.    Moriarty, in his ecstatic appreciation for Jarrett, reminded me what I had forgotten.

Now, thanks to YouTube, I can not only listen again to his playing,  I can see his amazing facial expressions. 

Keith Jarrett

It's as if  he channels from some place beyond the very heart and soul of the song.

Keith Jarrett playing Danny Boy

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:34 PM | Permalink

Brave New World

I've resurrected an old draft and never published post because I keep coming across more examples of the brave new world.

Go back sixty years or so and no one then alive could imagine such news stories. except perhaps for George Orwell , C.S. Lewis, Aldous Huxley and a Catholic pope or two.

"My Fertility Crisis" - When Natural Becomes Counter-Cultural

Sprawled on the cover of WSJ's Life and Culture section this weekend was a photo of a woman who is my age, 42, and using IVF. She wrote an article about her "fertility crisis" and when I picked it up, I sighed and began to read, and to battle the anger that wells up inside me when people start talking about having a "right" to children as if they are mere objects to be wanted or not. Instead, by the time I got to the end, I felt sad. This could have been me. It could be any woman today.

I've wondered at the popularity of horror films so this strikes me as true because everyone wants to feel more alive. Horror as Stimulant

Challenges are few, and people have a lot of time on their hands. They seek increasing levels of horror, violence, profanity, obscenity, and other kinds of extremism in entertainment in order to feel alive. Another aspect is that political correctness has drained daily life of much of its excitement....  modern relativism means strong views and opinions have to be suppressed, because they are seen as coercive to those who don’t have them. Everything must be shrugged off as “no problem,” and each person’s views must be given equal weight and polite deference. Lively conversation and real debate is squelched....

This is deadening, and so people seek to feel life in other ways, grotesque entertainment being one of them.

Sperm donor's 24 kids never told about his fatal, genetic illness

The fertility industry in the United States is one of the most unregulated in the developed world, said Wendy Kramer of the Donor Sibling Registry, a group that has matched some 8,400 donor offspring with their half siblings and/or donors.

‘There are no rules or regulations about donor identification, testing donors, monitoring numbers of children or medical records,’ she said. ‘No one is watching. There are no laws. They don't keep track.’
Come Friday, Washington is set to be the first state to give donor-conceived people the right to crucial health information about their biological parents when they turn eighteen. Previously, they were not entitled to any information and medical records were rarely updated.

With approximately 1 million children in the US born via a sperm donor, it is shameful that these children have no access to their father's medical records and information.

Suicide up to 14 times more likely for 'queer' groups.    Federal Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, Paul Butler says

“The LGBTI community reports higher levels of depression, anxiety and other mental health problems with evidence suggesting they are 3.5 to 14 times more likely to attempt suicide than the general community,”

Why, with all the debt we are piling up, would the Department of Health and Human Services decide this was a dandy time to require that birth control, under the guise of preventive health protection be dispensed 'free to all' but at great cost to taxpayers ?  Since when has pregnancy been considered a disease?

What's wrong with the HHS birth control mandate

This is not health care. It’s ideology.

And it’s a threat to healthcare providers with religious believers and moral convictions that oppose that ideology, convictions that have long been protected by law

Students should be allowed to sell their kidneys to pay off their student debt says one Scots academic.  Fortunately not all Scots are so mad.  The National Union of Students called the idea 'ludicrous' and said students should not be expected to sell off body parts to pay for their education.

Are Chinese companies selling pills made up of dead babies as stamina boosters?

SBS claims a DNA test found 99.7% human stuff crammed inside the tablets—which Google disturbingly translates as "man capsules"—and was fresh enough to distinguish gender. This is probably the most revolting thing I've ever read.

And with that, I'm done.  I can't take any more.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:27 AM | Permalink

August 7, 2011

Happy Birthday and Thank You to Sir Tim

World Wide Web celebrates its 20th birthday

First web page born on August 6, 1991
Now there are more than 19.68 billion pages

It began as a simple page of links that allowed a group of scientists to share data in the confines of their laboratories.

But in the 20 years since, it has become an inextricable part of the lives of billions of people.

The World Wide Web (WWW) was born on August 6, 1991, when the first web page was launched on the internet by Sir Tim Berners-Lee.
The WWW should not be confused with the internet. They are related, but not the same.
The term internet, coined in 1974, refers to the vast networking infrastructure that connects millions of computers, while the WWW is the method of accessing information over the internet through web pages.

Seems like it's been around forever and I can't imagine life without it.  Thank you Sir Tim Berners-Lee.

Berners-Lee isn't credited with connecting up all the computers - he developed three technologies that made it possible for users to better find and share information among these connected systems.

The first development were uniform resource locators (URLs), which are like mailing addresses for information.
The second is HyperText Markup Language (HTML), which is the code a web browser needs to show the text, graphics and hyperlinking systems.

His third invention was the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) that enables requests and file transmissions to occur between Web browsers and web servers
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:51 PM | Permalink

"Older Americans do not intend to ruin America, but as a group, that's what they're about."

Economist Robert Samuelson dares to write, It's the Elderly, Stupid

By now, it's obvious that we need to rewrite the social contract that, over the past half-century, has transformed the federal government's main task into transferring income from workers to retirees.
These transfers have become so huge that, unless checked, they will sabotage America's future. The facts are known: By 2035, the 65 and over population will nearly double; health costs remain uncontrolled; the combination automatically expands federal spending (as a share of the economy) by about one-third from 2005 levels. This tidal wave of spending means one or all of the following: (a) much higher taxes; (b) the gutting of other government services, from the Weather Service to medical research; (c) a partial and dangerous disarmament; (d) large and unstable deficits.

Older Americans do not intend to ruin America, but as a group, that's what they're about.
What sustains these contradictions is a mythology holding that, once people hit 65, most become poor. This justifies political dogma among Democrats that resists Social Security or Medicare cuts of even one dollar.

But the premise is wrong. True, some elderly live hand-to-mouth; many more are comfortable and some are wealthy.
The essential budget question is how much we allow federal spending on the elderly to crowd out other national priorities. All else is subordinate. Yet, our "leaders" don't debate this question with candor or intelligence. We have a generation of politicians cowed and controlled by AARP. We need to ask how much today's programs constitute a genuine "safety net" to protect the vulnerable (which is good) and how much they simply subsidize retirees' private pleasures.

Well I know people who think of social security as their travel fund.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:34 PM | Permalink

"What is irrational and irresponsible is the assumption that we can go on as we are"

In Europe and America, it's the same problem: there will never be enough money to  pay for what we promised.

A very incisive piece by Janet Daley in the London Telegraph, If we are to survive the looming catastrophe, we need to face the truth.

The idea that a capitalist economy can support a socialist welfare state is collapsing before our eyes.

The truly fundamental question that is at the heart of the disaster toward which we are racing is being debated only in America: is it possible for a free market economy to support a democratic socialist society? On this side of the Atlantic, the model of a national welfare system with comprehensive entitlements, which is paid for by the wealth created through capitalist endeavour, has been accepted (even by parties of the centre-Right) as the essence of post-war political enlightenment.
Contrary to what the Obama Democrats claimed, the face-off in Congress did not mean that the nation’s politics were “dysfunctional”. The politics of the US were functioning precisely as the Founding Fathers intended: the legislature was acting as a check on the power of the executive.
The Tea Party faction within the Republican party was demanding that, before any further steps were taken, there must be a debate about where all this was going. They had seen the future toward which they were being pushed, and it didn’t work. They were convinced that the entitlement culture and benefits programmes which the Democrats were determined to preserve and extend with tax rises could only lead to the diminution of that robust economic freedom that had created the American historical miracle.

No, it is not just the preposterousness of the euro project that is being exposed. (Let’s merge the currencies of lots of countries with wildly differing economic conditions and lock them all into the interest rate of the most successful. What could possibly go wrong?)

Also collapsing before our eyes is the lodestone of the Christian Socialist doctrine that has underpinned the EU’s political philosophy: the idea that a capitalist economy can support an ever-expanding socialist welfare state.
We have arrived at the endgame of what was an untenable doctrine: to pay for the kind of entitlements that populations have been led to expect by their politicians, the wealth-creating sector has to be taxed to a degree that makes it almost impossible for it to create the wealth that is needed to pay for the entitlements that populations have been led to expect, etc, etc.

The hardest obstacle to overcome will be the idea that anyone who challenges the prevailing consensus of the past 50 years is irrational and irresponsible. That is what is being said about the Tea Partiers. In fact, what is irrational and irresponsible is the assumption that we can go on as we are.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:19 PM | Permalink

August 6, 2011

The Rainbow in a Vast Cloud


Terrifying moment vast cloud threatened to engulf whole street

This is the terrifying moment a cloud threatened to develop in to a full blown tornado and engulf a whole row of family houses.

Brave photographer Pat Kavanagh took this shot of an explosive black storm from the roof of his house in Taber in Alberta, Canada, last month.

Expecting the sunny weather to take a turn for the worst, he watched intently as the billows started spinning into a furious funnel.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:10 PM | Permalink

Faster please

Good, no great news on the technological front.

Energy in America: New Liquid Fuel Faster, More Efficient -- and Greener, Too

With a little help from genetic engineering, researchers at one Massachusetts company say they've created an organism that takes sunlight, water and carbon dioxide and creates liquid fuel.

Bill Sims, CEO of Cambridge-based Joule Unlimited, says the process utilizes a bacteria, produces a chemical product and secretes it. The result? A fuel that can fill demands for diesel and ethanol.

"The product that we make is diesel. It's very high cetane to very premium diesel. It is fungible, so it's infrastructure compatible," said Sims.

The product can be used in trucks, heavy equipment and further refined into jet fuel. Simply put, the organism created secretes the fuel in a direct process, working faster than current biofuel technology that often uses algae.

From the company's website, Joule Unlimited

Joule’s renewable fuel platform will best the scale, productivities and costs of any known alternative to fossil fuel today, with no use of biomass, arable land or fresh water. Our inputs are sunlight and waste CO2. Our expected output? Millions of gallons of clean, renewable fuel that drops into existing infrastructure. Next step: change the world.

As Glenn Reynolds would say, Faster please.

Under the Nebraska small town of Elk Creek lies "rare earth" minerals in quantities sufficient to challenge China's dominance.

Elk Creek, Neb. (population 112), may not be so tiny much longer. Reports suggest that the southeastern Nebraska hamlet may be sitting on the world’s largest untapped deposit of “rare earth” minerals, which have proved to be indispensable to a slew of high-tech and military applications such as laser pointers, stadium lighting, electric car batteries and sophisticated missile-guidance systems.
The U.S. has relied on China for years for the 17 minerals that are defined as rare earths by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry. Despite having such obscure names as praseodymium, promethium and samarium - no copper or zinc here - they are necessary for such routine contemporary technologies as magnets, laser pointers and miniature electronics, such as iPods.
China has emerged as the world’s predominant supplier, controlling 97 percent of the global market for rare earths. In recent years, lawmakers have expressed concerns about China’s “rare earth” dominance, and these concerns were heightened when Beijing temporarily halted exports to Japan last year during a territorial dispute.

A Brazilian engineer invented the solar light made of a plastic bottle, water and bleach stuck through a roof during an energy blackout in 2002.


A band of MIT students installed 10,000 of them in Manila slums.

Currently, millions of Filipinos live without any kind of light source at all, but a band of resourceful MIT students have begun changing that. The students found that a one liter plastic bottle filled with bleach water and installed on top of a metal roof is a surprisingly simple way to light homes that have neither electrical connectivity nor natural lighting. The plastic defracts light and pushes it to every corner of a small slum house instead of beaming it onto one area like a typical lamp might. As part of their Solar Bottle Project, the organization Isang Litrong Liwanag, which means “A Liter of Light,” has already installed 10,000 of these ridiculously basic but amazing lamps throughout Manila.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:58 AM | Permalink

August 5, 2011

It's in the genes

Long-living people don't necessarily lead healthier lives says study

People who live to be older than 95 don't necessarily eat any better, exercise any more or booze any less than the rest of us.

According to a study published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, a long life is in the genes.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:17 AM | Permalink

August 4, 2011

Young happiness, old happiness

Are you feeling young happy or old happy? Generations feel pleasure in different ways

Young and old people are actually experiencing completely different emotions when they say they are ‘happy’, according to a new scientific study.

For young people, around 60 per cent of happiness is all about excitement, say scientists.
Researchers found that young adults find it difficult to find joy without excitement and for children the two things are virtually inseparable.

In contrast, as we get older we associate 80 per cent of happiness with ‘contentment’.

The study indicates there are at least two quite different kinds of happiness.
The results come from a study of different age groups by Professor Cassie Mogilner, of the University of Pennsylvania. 

Professor Mogilner, who carried out the research, said: 'We are talking about two distinct types of happiness, one associated with peacefulness and one associated with being excited.

'Whereas younger people are more likely to associate happiness with excitement, as they get older, they become more likely to associate happiness with peacefulness.'

The difference appears to come from the varying degrees of importance placed on the future compared to the present.  Younger people, generally more interested in the future, base their happiness more on excitement, said Prof Mogilner.  Meanwhile, older people place a higher value on the present, and so contentment tends to be a greater source of happiness for them.
The results are published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:44 AM | Permalink

"Girls in particular believe they are a 'commodity they must sell to other people' on Facebook.

You probably know this already but now a top scientist says it

Facebook and Twitter are creating a vain generation of self-obsessed people with child-like need for feedback,

Facebook and Twitter have created a generation obsessed with themselves, who have short attention spans and a childlike desire for constant feedback on their lives, a top scientist believes.

Repeated exposure to social networking sites leaves users with an 'identity crisis', wanting attention in the manner of a toddler saying: 'Look at me, Mummy, I've done this.'

Baroness Greenfield, professor of pharmacology at Oxford University, believes the growth of internet 'friendships' – as well as greater use of computer games – could effectively 'rewire' the brain.

This can result in reduced concentration, a need for instant gratification and poor non-verbal skills, such as the ability to make eye contact during conversations.
Her views were echoed by Sue Palmer, a literacy expert and author, who said girls in particular believe they are a 'commodity they must sell to other people' on Facebook.

She said: 'People used to have a portrait painted but now we can more or less design our own picture online. It's like being the star of your own reality TV show that you create and put out to the world.'

How chilling is this,  "Girls in particular believe they are a 'commodity they must sell to other people' on Facebook."

How sad and tragic.

If a girl sees herself as a commodity, it becomes a lot easier to rationalize prostitution. Seeking Arrangement: College Students Using 'Sugar Daddies' To Pay Off Loan Debt

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:05 AM | Permalink

" Camels weren’t designed to carry such a load."

ObamaCare's Most Frightening Consequence: Not Enough Doctors

ObamaCare’s defenders promised the law would increase patient access to care, but a closer look shows that increased regulations combined with higher demand for health services could cause many physicians to give up practicing medicine.

The Doctor shortfall In 2016 will be  63,000 doctors, in 2020,  91,500 doctors say The Associations of American Medical Colleges.

Dr. Bob is selling his practice.  This is his perspective

The past year or so has been one of the most challenging in many a season, on a number of fronts. Professionally, the passage of Obamacare has made it abundantly clear that the independent private practitioner is a dying breed, and likely will disappear — with the exception of cash-only, concierge-style arrangements — within the next few years. The administrative burden is crushing — unfunded mandates, such as pay-for-performance, compliance programs, HIPAA, mandated “government certified” EMRs (even though existing, non-certified ones are fully functional), and intrusive, abusive audits by the Feds and third party carriers. Such mandates and regulatory excesses place, or will soon place, such an overwhelming burden on the solo physician or small group as to make their continued existence unsustainable, even in the near term — and the full implementation of Obamacare will put roses on their grave. Reimbursements are dropping precipitously (my income dropped about 25% last year), as expenses spiral upward (employee health insurance rates are up 25%; malpractice rates up 15%, etc., etc.). The small business model of solo practice or small medical group is rapidly becoming extinct: its executioner, Big Government and Big Insurance.

The medical-legal environment remains as hostile and capricious as ever — I have endured two lawsuits in the past three years, both resolved with decidedly mixed outcomes while taking an enormous toll both in time wasted and emotional sobriety. I hope to share some insights thus gleaned on this horrendously dysfunctional system in the not-too-distant future.

Personally, although my health remains good, the exhaustion borne of these and other struggles had taken much of the joy and energy from life. The time for renewal was long overdue.

And so, big changes are in store: my practice will be sold in the next few months to a large medical group affiliated with a nearby hospital, and I will have as a primary responsibility inpatient hospital care, with a much diminished office practice focusing primarily on my specialty of male infertility and vasectomy reversal. I have decidedly mixed feelings about this change — I anticipated going to my deathbed as a private, solo practitioner, loving the independence and rich patient relationships which this brings.

But I am weary. After nearly 30 years in private practice, I am not sure which straw broke the camel’s back, but it is most surely broken. It is a weariness born of 14 hour days; of dictating charts and finishing paperwork until 8 or 9 pm each night, after starting the day at 7 am; of endless audits by the insurance industry and Medicare; of the constant threat of litigation; of the crushing burden of one more federal requirement mandated but never recompensed; of a host of ever-expanding administrative burdens having nothing to do with patient care, and everything to do with bureaucratic micromanagement of the profession. And this before we have even begun to see the nightmare which Obamacare will inflict. Camels weren’t designed to carry such a load.

Well, Isn't THAT Special is his comment to the news that hedge funds are financing medical malpractice cases to the tune of $10 billion in 2010.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:07 AM | Permalink

August 3, 2011

The Post Modern Pact with the Devil

David Warren on The Pact

Here is the father of Anders Breivik speaking, to a television interviewer, who asked if he thought his son was insane:  "He must be, he must be, there is no other way to explain it!"

Alas, there is another way to explain it, that contemporary man does not like to think about,...

Yet the alternative explanation is itself no simple thing. It contains enigma; it must be struggled with, intellectually and spiritually, all one's life.

"By their fruits ye shall know them." Acts which are unquestionably evil, proceed from minds possessed by evil.
Yet evil persists, whether or not it is recognized; and it continues to lie at the bottom of any possible explanation. Breivik's acts were demonic, in an irreducible way. And the ability to know that, immediately on sight, is written into every human heart - because there is a natural moral order. There was no possible "excuse" for Breivik's behaviour, and the excuses he provided himself, through 1,500 pages of rambling but coherent manifesto, were themselves manifestations of evil. That much is comprehensible.
To my mind, Breivik and bin Laden, regardless of claimed religious affiliations, did things immortally evil in a similar way. They felt themselves competent to decide what is lawful, by the power of their own reasoning. This is the distinctively post-modern pact with the devil.

That is not the way we think, today - in terms of "a pact with the devil." For we are ourselves postmodern people, who think we have been emancipated from such "antiquated" beliefs. As Baudelaire put it: "No one believes in the devil any more. Yet his smell is everywhere."

The old, "mythological" account, of Genesis, Faustus, Paradise Lost, explains just what we are at a loss to explain today.  In the Gospels, Christ himself must decline the pact, of worldly power. Nietzsche articulated it again, for our times: this promise of absolute human power, to be grasped in the moment we abandon "conventional morality," and become guilt-free.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:58 PM | Permalink

Having a Baby After 35

The long-term consequences of having your children late means you might be parentless and your child will not have the influence of grandparents who play a bigger role than is commonly thought.

Allison Gilbert on The Dangers of Having a Baby After 35: What Your Doctor Won't Tell You

If you are over 35, you're probably aware of the increased risks of having a baby. Older women are more likely to have miscarriages, c-sections, suffer high blood pressure, and develop gestational diabetes. Your child is more likely to be born too early, not weigh enough, have chromosomal birth defects (most commonly Down syndrome), and other serious, potentially life-threatening conditions. Women are familiar with these hazards because their doctors talk about them routinely. Obstetricians, however, are ignoring another potentially critical outcome: Parents in their late thirties, forties, and fifties are more likely to raise kids without the help and support of their own parents, and their children are more likely to grow up without grandparents.
The Grandparent Gap

Researchers have long studied the influence grandparents have on grandchildren, and it's been determined that kids are shaped by grandparents in irrefutable and calculable ways. Children who spend time with their grandparents often have higher self-esteem, tend to have fewer behavioral problems, and do better in social circles. The cumulative lack of these influences, and many others, is "The Grandparent Gap."

Grandparents often pass on their love of art, books, and music. They teach skills related to their jobs and interests. They provide unconditional love and acceptance. And, especially important as children age, grandmothers and grandfathers often provide a safe and trusted refuge away from parents. For the teenage children of parentless parents, having fewer places to turn is a particular challenge, as many begin facing mounting peer pressure related to sex, alcohol, and drugs.
The "I" Factor

The "I" Factor is the term I use to describe the specific losses experienced by parentless parents. "I" is short for irreplaceable. There's just so much information about your own childhood that's gone forever. If your daughter weren't crawling "on time," it would be reassuring to know if you also began crawling late. Without your parents, there are simply fewer answers to these developmental questions.

Caring for babies and young children is often physically more demanding for parentless parents because their moms and dads can't babysit. Most people, at first, will dismiss this. They'll argue their parents aren't available either -- they live far away, or are otherwise incapable of providing support. But parentless parents experience a quantifiable vacuum.  Studies show grandparents take care of more children than nursery schools and day care centers combined, and the newest government data shows this reliance on grandparents is increasing.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:15 PM | Permalink