March 28, 2012

"The 'Take Care of Me' Society is Wrecking the USA"

Charles Sykes writes in the Fiscal Times, The Entitled States of America: We Want More!

The 'Take Care of Me' Society is Wrecking the USA
Wants have been transformed into "rights" in America and ultimately into obligations and entitlements.
The entitlement state appeals to voters who believe they will bear no consequences for the costs or sustainability of the program. Questions of affordability don’t come into it, because they know they will never have to pay for it. (Recall that 49.5 percent of Americans pay no federal income tax at all.)

They are not thinking of the burden to their children, their grandchildren, their friends, their fellow citizens of the country, or anyone else. As long as it is free to them – it’s free. And good luck telling them otherwise.

Like Troy Senik at Ricochet, I think Dave Ramsey is doing more to fix America's economy than our President.

America, it turns out, is not just a debtor nation; it is a nation populated by debtors.....U.S. households owe a combined $11.5 trillion on credit cards, car loans, mortgages and other consumer debt, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
Ramsey – who counsels against the evils of debt at every turn – has become a sensation throughout the country, largely because his methods, when faithfully applied, consistently work. Against the trend of the age – the get-rich-quick scheme – he preaches instead the virtues of prolonged, patient savings, budgeting, and abstention from debt.

That there is such a robust market for his message augurs well for us. That so many Americans had to turn to their radios for lessons that were taught at the kitchen table only a few generations ago does not.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:54 PM | Permalink

Reverberations from the Big Bang

When Albert Einstein listened to the Belgian priest and physicist Georges Lemaitre describe his theory of the origins of the universe as the Big Bang, he said, "It's the most beautiful and satisfactory explanation of creation I've ever heard".

More in Manjit Kumar's book review of Chris Impey's book, How It Began: A Time-Traveler's Guide to the Universe.

According to the Big Bang model that has grown from Lemaître's insight, the moment of instantaneous creation was 13.75 billion years ago and began with a singularity, a point of infinite mass and density where our present understanding of physics simply breaks down. Yet "the Big Bang is all around us," Mr. Impey notes, in the form of cosmic microwave background radiation, which suffuses the entire universe. Soon after it was discovered in 1964, scientists recognized this radiation as the echo of the Big Bang, an afterglow from the era when the universe was hotter and denser. "There are tens of thousands of microwaves from creation in every breath you take," Mr. Impey delights in revealing.

The static you hear on a radio or see on a TV  is reverberations from the Big Bang

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:50 PM | Permalink

"The sacred is especially difficult for liberals to understand"

The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt reviewed by David Goodhart in Prospect.

Elite colleges produce WEIRD people: Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich and Democratic.

[see Science Daily report: Psychological research conducted in 'WEIRD' nations may not apply to global populations]

...[i]n the formulation of a group of North American cultural psychologists, WEIRD—,,, from a sub-culture that is Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich and Democratic. They are, as we have seen, universalists, suspicious of strong national loyalties. They also tend to be individualists committed to autonomy and self-realization. Balancing that they are usually deeply concerned with social justice and unfairness and also suspicious of appeals to religion or to human nature to justify any departure from equal treatment—differences between men and women, for example, are regarded as cultural not biological.
Haidt is a liberal who wants his political tribe to understand humans better. His main insight is simple but powerful: liberals understand only two main moral dimensions, whereas conservatives understand all five. (Over the course of the book he decides to add a sixth, liberty/oppression.
Liberals care about harm and suffering (appealing to our capacities for sympathy and nurturing) and fairness and injustice. All human cultures care about these two things but they also care about three other things: loyalty to the in-group, authority and the sacred.

As Haidt puts it: “It’s as though conservatives can hear five octaves of music, but liberals respond to just two, within which they have become particularly discerning.” This does not mean that liberals are necessarily wrong but it does mean that they have more trouble understanding conservatives than vice versa.
The sacred is especially difficult for liberals to understand. This isn’t necessarily about religion but about the idea that humans have a nobler, more spiritual side and that life has a higher purpose than pleasure or profit. If your only moral concepts are suffering and injustice then it is hard to understand reservations about everything from swearing in public to gay marriage—after all, who is harmed?

In the New York Times, Haidt himself writes "Forget the Money, Follow the Sacredness"  to better understand what the cultural wars are about.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:27 PM | Permalink

March 27, 2012

Popcorn, chocolate and toothpaste

Health news that will make you happy.

Popcorn has 'more antioxidants that fruit and vegetables'

Popcorn was found to have a high level of concentrated antioxidants because it is made up of just four percent water while they are more diluted in fruits and vegetables because they are made up of up to 90 percent water.... one serving of popcorn has up to 300mg of antioxidants - nearly double the 160mg for all fruits per serving..... the crunchy hulls of the popcorn have the highest concentration of antioxidants and fiber.
Researcher Joe Vinson said: 'Those hulls deserve more respect. They are nutritional gold nuggets.'

Eating lots of chocolate helps people stay thin

The study found that people who frequently ate chocolate had a lower body mass index (BMI) than people who didn't. ...  published in the March 26 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine,

Rubbing toothpaste on your toothpaste on your teeth 'quadruples protection against decay'.    Do this after lunch or when you are away from home.  This is in addition to morning  brushing and evening brushing and flossing.  If you fail to brush properly twice a day, fatal heart problems may be in your future.

Bacteria that loiter in the mouth can cause life-threatening blood clots which could trigger the rare condition infective endocarditis.  Researchers will describe how the streptococcus gordonii bug can enter the bloodstream through bleeding gums at the Society for General Microbiology’s conference today.

Hope of fresh treatment for seven cancers after single antibody is found to shrink tumours from all of them

A drug that helps the immune system to break down cancerous tumors has been developed.

It has worked on breast, bowel, prostate, ovarian, brain, bladder and liver cancers, while previous studies show it can also be used to fight some blood cancers.

The antibody has so far been tested only on mice, but researchers hope to give it to people within two years....the need for extensive proof that the drug is safe as  well as effective means that  its widespread use is about a decade away.

Electronic skin patches, no thicker than a human hair, to monitor your heart and other vital signs may soon be on sale.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:23 PM | Permalink

The extraordinary voice of Jonathan Antoine

An extraordinary voice.  I had tears by the end.  When they came on the stage, Simon Cowell whispered  "Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse."    When 17-year-oldJonathan Antoine began singing with his partner Charlotte Jocanelli, Cowell said, "Wow! Wow! Wow".    All four judges gave them a standing ovation. 

I can't embed the video from Britains Got Talent, but you can see it here.  Don't miss it.

Thanks for tip from the Deacon who said "Move aside, Susan Boyle"

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:38 AM | Permalink

March 23, 2012

Isabella Guerra

I'm sick of the news. Time to be refreshed by beauty.   

These wonderful paintings are by Isabel Guerra who is a self-taught painter and a nun at the Cistercian monastery of Santa Lucia in Zaragoza, Spain.

 Girl Glass Pitcher-1

 Girl Reading Book

More over at lines and colors,

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:15 PM | Permalink

The Wonder Drug

Aspirin, of course.

An Aspirin a day cuts cancer risk after just three years

The cheap drug not only appears to stop cancers developing in the first place, but also prevents them from spreading to other parts of the body, the new work shows.

Those who start taking low dose (75mg) aspirin daily in their 60s appear to benefit just as much as those who start taking it earlier.

The studies, presented today in The Lancet, add to the argument that low-dose aspirin should be taken widely from middle-age, said the lead author, Professor Peter Rothwell, of Oxford University's Stroke Prevention Research Unit.
Prof Rothwell said the new research showed that aspirin had a far greater effect on reducing cancer than reducing heart attacks and strokes. Nine out of 10 deaths it prevented were "non-vascular", according to one of the studies.

Aspirin really deserves the name 'wonder drug'.

The news that a daily dose of aspirin can reduce the risk of certain cancers and prevent cancer spreading is only the latest in a long series of discoveries showing the drug's extraordinary potential.

Aspirin is a real wonder drug: its usefulness (as willow-bark extract, for fever and pain) was known to the ancients; it seems to have myriad benefits; and yet its mechanisms remain mysterious. When it was first synthesised, as acetylsalicylic  acid, in the 1850s, it was used as to relieve the pains of "rheumatism", but no one had any idea how it worked.

It's still a mystery about how it works.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:48 PM | Permalink

March 21, 2012

Progressive Inhumanity

From one of my favorite essayists, Anthony Esolen, Progressive Inhumanity, Part Two: The State against the Churches

With the significant exception of Islam, almost every war fought in the west over the last five thousand years has had nothing to do with religion, and everything to do with those secular things that men fight for: power, glory, revenge, wealth, land.  What did religion as such have to do with the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Mexican War, the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War?  What did religion have to do with the Napoleonic Wars, the Crimean War, and the Boer War?  What did it have to do with the Franco-Prussian War, or the Russo-Japanese War?  Even the Crusades would never have been fought, if the Turks had not swept into the near east, slaughtering and conquering, feared by both the Byzantine Christians and the Baghdad Muslims whose lands they seized.  Instead, if we want to identify the real instigator of war, we need look no farther than the secular man who wishes not to worship God but to have the power of a god: Napoleon, Bismarck, Garibaldi, Kaiser Wilhelm, Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, Hitler, Tito, Mao, Idi Amin, Kim Jong-Il.

But when I join with my fellows in the worship of God, there above all do we break out of our lean and hungry selfishness.  To kneel beside another person – an old man beside a little child, a janitor beside a professor, a woman who struggles with the sin of envy beside a woman who is the cause of envy in others, a college graduate beside a dropout, a gangly boy beside a woman who shakes as she takes the host – this is a communion the secularist can never know.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:00 PM | Permalink

Escape from a North Korean prison camp

A breath-taking story.  It is unimaginable that people survive in such a hellhole.

How one man escaped from a North Korean prison camp in The Guardian

There was torture, starvation, betrayals and executions, but to Shin In Geun, Camp 14 – a prison for the political enemies of North Korea – was home. Then one day came the chance to flee…

His first memory is an execution.....


Shallow and frozen, the river here was about a hundred yards wide. He began to walk. Halfway across, he broke through and icy water soaked his shoes. He crawled the rest of the way to China.

Within two years, he was in South Korea. Within four, he was living in southern California, an ambassador for Liberty in North Korea (LiNK), an American human rights group.

His name is now Shin Dong-hyuk. His overall physical health is excellent. His body, though, is a roadmap of the hardships of growing up in a labour camp that the North Korean government insists does not exist. Stunted by malnutrition, he is short and slight – 5ft 6in and about 120lb (8.5 stone). His arms are bowed from childhood labour. His lower back and buttocks are covered with scars. His ankles are disfigured by shackles. His right middle finger is missing. His shins are mutilated by burns from the fence that failed to keep him inside Camp 14.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:57 PM | Permalink

Lying for a Friend

When the patient is no condition to lie for himself

if you’ve been in medicine for a while you’ll know that most times, the reason a patient says he is about to die is because he is in fact about to die. i believed him. my blood went cold. it just didn’t fit.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:37 AM | Permalink

"Men are from Hemingway, women from Proust ”

Because Belladonna loves men, she points out the 8 Mistakes Men Make About Women

She's quite funny with not-bad tips for you men especially with regards to the mega-mistake, the Sun King error.

And then there's "“Men are from Hemingway, women from Proust ” which explains a lot.

UPDATE:  John Hawkins takes on the 7 Mistakes Women Make with Men.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:34 AM | Permalink

March 20, 2012

He built his own wings and last weekend flew like a bird. UPDATED

He built his own wings and last weekend flew like a bird.

Dutch engineer Jarno Smeets said "It was the best feeling I ever felt in my life"

via Business Insider

Learn how he did it at

UPDATE:  'No one knows" wing suit inventor - and experts question if flight video can be real

UPDATE 2:  Now he admits it.  His name is Floris Kaayk and he fessed up to creating "media art project" which is other words is a hoax and a fraud.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:16 PM | Permalink

No donated food for the homeless

Nanny Bloomberg sinks to new lows as the mayor bans all food donations to all government-run facilities that serve the city's homeless.

In conjunction with a mayoral task force and the Health Department, the Department of Homeless Services recently started enforcing new nutritional rules for food served at city shelters. Since DHS can’t assess the nutritional content of donated food, shelters have to turn away good Samaritans.
DHS Commissioner Seth Diamond says the ban on food donations is consistent with Mayor Bloomberg’s emphasis on improving nutrition for all New Yorkers. A new interagency document controls what can be served at facilities — dictating serving sizes as well as salt, fat and calorie contents, plus fiber minimums and condiment recommendations.

The city also cites food-safety issues with donations, but it’s clear that the real driver behind the ban is the Bloomberg dietary diktats.

Diamond insists that the institutional vendors hired by the shelters serve food that meets the rules but also tastes good; it just isn’t too salty. So, says the commissioner, the homeless really don’t need any of the synagogue’s food.
The ban on food donations is the direct result of work by many city agencies, all led by a mayoral task force.
The Bloomberg administration is so obsessed with meddling in how we all live that it’s now eating away at the very best that New York citizens have to deliver.

Well, if you believe government can do it all, you can eliminate all charity like City Harvest and Meals on Wheels and all the groups at city churches and synagogues.    City Harvest for example rescues food from all segments of the food industry including restaurants, wholesalers, greenmarkets, bakeries, caterers, hospitals and corporate cafeterias, as well as canned food drives.  No more says Mayor Bloomberg.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:24 PM | Permalink


You may want to revise whatever you thought you knew about Neanderthals and the origins of humans. 

New theory of the origins of humans  Neanderthal predation created modern humans proposed by Danny Vendramini.


Them and Us.  How Neanderthal predation created modern humans.

 Neanderthal Front-200W

NP theory reveals that Eurasian Neanderthals hunted, killed and cannibalised early humans for 50,000 years in an area of the Middle East known as the Mediterranean Levant.

Because the two species were sexually compatible, Eurasian Neanderthals also abducted and raped human females.

Them and Us cites new evidence from archaeology and genetics to demonstrate that this prolonged period of cannibalistic and sexual predation began about 100,000 years ago and that by 50,000 years ago, the human population in the Levant was reduced to as few as 50 individuals.

The death toll from Neanderthal predation generated the selection pressure that transformed the tiny survivor population of early humans into modern humans.

This Levantine group became the founding population of all humans living today.
NP theory argues that modern human physiology, sexuality, aggression, propensity for inter-group violence and human nature all emerged as a direct consequence of systematic long-term dietary and sexual predation by Eurasian Neanderthals.

Vendramini's discovery of the traumatic secret history of our ancestors resolves the last great mysteries of our species - how, why, when and where we became human beings.
It is unquestionable the biggest shake-up in evolutionary theory since Darwin.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:10 PM | Permalink

Reinventing the Wheelchair

If you know of any young people with a spinal injury, tell them to watch ReInventing the Wheelchair.

It just might change their lives.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:32 AM | Permalink

"Creative, daring, life-giving healthcare for women and children"

Timothy Cardinal Dolan on Protecting Health Care for Women and Children

When it comes to the health of women, their babies, and their children, the Catholic Church is there, the most effective private provider of such care anywhere around.
I could go on and on:  if you want to see creative, daring, lifegiving healthcare for women and their children, look at what the Church is doing.
We’re on the offensive when it comes to women’s health, education, and welfare, here at home, and throughout the world.  We hardly need lectures on this issue from senators.

We just want to be left alone to live out the imperatives of our faith to serve, teach, heal, feed, and care for others.  We cherish this, our earthly home, America, for its enshrined freedom to do so. Those really concerned about women’s health would be better off defending the Church’s freedom to continue its work.

A couple of years ago I visited a woman’s prison. The warden asked me if I wanted to visit the expectant and new mothers’ healthcare center. It then dawned on me that, of course, some women would enter prison pregnant. I was so happy to see the expectant moms, getting good health care for themselves and their unborn babies, and to see the moms with babies under two getting classes in childrearing and parenting skills, with the babies receiving tender care right next to their moms. When I told the warden how grateful I was to see such excellent care for these women and children, he replied, “Thank yourself. Catholic Charities runs it.”

We can not grasp the degree of social chaos that will result if Catholic schools, hospitals and charities are forced to shut down because of the HHS mandate.

The Anchoress comments

The lie that the church “hates” women and wants to keep them down is an an old one and a lazy one and a convenient one, and — unsurprisingly, it’s the lie the media and folks with an agenda will run with. Reality, of course, is quite different and can’t be explained in a slogan or with a bumper sticker:
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:51 AM | Permalink


I was happy when I turned 12 because it meant I was old enough to babysit.  How things have changed.

Law Prof. David Pimentel in "Criminal Child Neglect and the 'Free Range Kid'" in Notable and Quotable.

Even one generation ago, the norms were different for determining the age at which a child no longer needed a babysitter. The expected minimum age for babysitters has gone up as well, although in the few states that have legislated specific ages, the thresholds vary widely. In Illinois, it is illegal to leave a child under 14 unsupervised for an "unreasonable period of time"; in Maryland, in contrast, a 13-year-old is considered old enough not only to care for himself, but to babysit infants. The days when 11- and 12-year-old neighborhood kids were considered competent babysitters appear to be long gone. This development is all the more marked considering that mobile phones have created a virtually instant line of communication between the sitter and the parents, something unheard of in earlier eras, when younger sitters were considered acceptable.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:45 AM | Permalink

March 17, 2012

Happy St Patrick's Day

O' Green Day?  How lame.  Massachusetts school principal Lisa Curtin has enraged the local community by renaming St Patrick’s Day ‘O’Green Day’ in an effort to encourage diversity and remove the Catholic element and to ease the discomfort some students might have in celebrating St Patrick's Day.  Last month she renamed St Valentine's Day and "Caring and Kindness Day".  She sounds like a benighted fool

Luck of the Irish:  Major oil discovery made off the coast of Ireland just in time for St Patrick's Day

It is the first time that a commercially viable offshore source of oil has been struck there and the discovery is being likened to ‘winning the lottery’.

Exploration company Providence Resources announced the find off the coast of Cork today.  The Barryroe well is more than 300ft deep and is producing 3,514 barrels of high-quality oil a day - twice the rate initially hoped for.

The well also produces 2.93 million standard cubic feet of gas each day.

 Stpatrick Shamrock Bible

From St. Patrick's escape after six years of sheep-herding in slavery and solitude to his return to Ireland where he confronted the Dark Powers at the start of his 30 year mission to the Irish, the story of St Patrick has nothing to do with snakes.

"Daily I expect murder, fraud, or captivity," he wrote, "but I fear none of these things because of the promises of heaven. I have cast myself into the hands of God Almighty who rules everywhere."

St Patrick's Confession in his own words.

‘My name is Patrick...
I am a sinner, a simple country person, and the least of all believers. I am looked down upon by many.
My father was Calpornius. He was a deacon; his father was Potitus, a priest, who lived at Bannavem Taburniae.
His home was near there, and that is where I was taken prisoner.
I was about sixteen at the time.

A professor at Cambridge University says St Patrick was a runaway tax collector who became a slave trader.    I don't buy it.  It's all surmise and speculation.

How come no one at Nike knew that no one at Nike knew that naming a shoe The Black and Tan was not just a reference to a beer  combination but the name given to a violent paramilitary group that attacked innocent Irish civilians during the Irish war for Independence?  It's like naming the shoes the KKK.  Don't they have access to Google at their headquarters?

Nike has apologized and withdrawn their offensive ad which went as follows: 

Tis the season for Irish beer and why not celebrate with Nike? The Black and Tan sneaker takes inspiration for the fine balancing act of a Stout (Guinness) on top a Pale Ale (Harp) in a pint glass..

Good looking shoe though.

We would do well to emulate the Irish "the poster boy for austerity"  who have faced their fiscal crisis with  resilience ...“Everybody has knuckled down to the challenge.” Ireland Isn't Greece.

Ten top Irish songs for St Patrick's Day

Top ten words invented in Ireland

10.  Whiskey

Derives from the term “uisce beatha” which translates to the water of life. Irish monks in the middle ages described alcohol as the water of life

From Eamonn Fitzgerald's Rainy Day Fifty People One Question -  Galway, Ireland

what would the country's patron saint make of the place today if he were to return? He'd see a nation that's been rocked to its foundations by a succession of recent revolutions. The toppling of the Catholic Church from its pedestal of moral authority, the exposure of the incompetent elites and the implosion of the domestic economy are just three of the traumas that have forced the country to examine its conscience and values. An honest response to the big questions now being asked of the Irish nation remains outstanding, however, and may never come, given the country's schizophrenia.

And yet, Ireland continues to exert its fascination upon those in search of the alternative in an increasingly homogenized continent. Kamil Krolak was born in Szczecin in Poland in 1986 and moved to the West of Ireland in 2007. There, he follows his passion of film-making. "Fifty People One Question — Ireland" has been viewed more than 650,000 times on YouTube and it conveys better than most films the elusive essence of the place.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:19 AM | Permalink

March 16, 2012

Grab bag of Delights and 'Pink Slime'

A don't miss video that can't be embedded.  Rita Hayworth Dancing to Stayin' Alive.

A wonderful piece, Simcha Fisher's A Little Proof of a Large Thing.

The look of love? How a woman's glance can tell a man if she's interested (or whether to walk away now)

If she looks down and then moves her eyes in a sweeping motion across the floor it almost certainly means that she is attracted to someone.  But an instant stare into a man's eyes or over his head on meeting is very bad news for a suitor

'Pink slime' sounds gross, but how does it taste?

The pink slime burger also was perfectly seared and drew me in with an equally alluring aroma. But no juices collected on the plate. Or dribbled out. Or were apparent in the meat in really any way. The taste was - OK...t was not bad. But nor was it good. It was flat. I added more salt. No. It was simply one-dimensional....And then there was the texture. Unpleasantly chewy bits of what I can only describe as gristle, though they were not visible, seemed to stud the meat of the pink slime burger. The result was a mealy chew that, while not overtly unpleasant, didn't leave me wanting another bite.

Menopause 'brain fog' is real, study confirms    No surprise to millions of women.

The less you sleep, the fatter you become.  Tiredness makes us eat more, about 500 calories more on average.

You can see how white the cliffs of Dover are when a part collapses. Thousands of tons of chalk crash into sea after frost and drought.

 Dovercliffs Collapse

The extraordinary hyper-realistic pencil drawings of Paul Cadden PENCIL!

-Paul Cadden Pencildrawing

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:28 AM | Permalink

"Strongly unified and intensely focused"

U.S. Bishops are strongly unified and intensely focused in its opposition to the various threats to religious freedom.

This is not about access to contraception, which is ubiquitous and inexpensive, even when it is not provided by the Church’s hand and with the Church’s funds. This is not about the religious freedom of Catholics only, but also of those who recognize that their cherished beliefs may be next on the block. This is not about the Bishops’ somehow “banning contraception,” when the U.S. Supreme Court took that issue off the table two generations ago. Indeed, this is not about the Church wanting to force anybody to do anything; it is instead about the federal government forcing the Church—consisting of its faithful and all but a few of its institutions—to act against Church teachings. This is not a matter of opposition to universal health care, which has been a concern of the Bishops’ Conference since 1919, virtually at its founding. This is not a fight we want or asked for, but one forced upon us by government on its own timing. Finally, this is not a Republican or Democratic, a conservative or liberal issue; it is an American issue.
Government has no place defining religion and religious ministry. HHS thus creates and enforces a new distinction—alien both to our Catholic tradition and to federal law—between our houses of worship and our great ministries of service to our neighbors, namely, the poor, the homeless, the sick, the students in our schools and universities, and others in need, of any faith community or none.

A mandate to act against our teachings. The exemption is not merely a government foray into internal Church governance, where government has no legal competence or authority—disturbing though that may be. This error in theory has grave consequences in principle and practice. Those deemed by HHS not to be “religious employers” will be forced by government to violate their own teachings within their very own institutions. This is not only an injustice in itself, but it also undermines the effective proclamation of those teachings to the faithful and to the world. For decades, the Bishops have led the fight against such government incursions on conscience, particularly in the area of health care. Far from making us waver in this longstanding commitment, the unprecedented magnitude of this latest threat has only strengthened our resolve to maintain that consistent view.
A violation of personal civil rights. The HHS mandate creates still a third class, those with no conscience protection at all: individuals who, in their daily lives, strive constantly to act in accordance with their faith and moral values. They, too, face a government mandate to aid in providing “services” contrary to those values—whether in their sponsoring of, and payment for, insurance as employers; their payment of insurance premiums as employees; or as insurers themselves—without even the semblance of an exemption.

George Weigel writes in No Compromise

There will be no compromise here, for there can be no compromise of first principles. Those who understand that will gather their energies and continue to defend both Catholic and American tradition.

Would Obama's Mandate Fly With the Founding Fathers?

The young American republic was largely born from a Protestant dissenting tradition. The freedom to worship freely was a deep root of the colonial experience; as scholars like Barry Alan Shain and Donald Lutz have shown, colonial America was made up of countless small congregations wanting to live as their beliefs guided them.

Thomas Jefferson :  “That to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.”

James Madison: ‘The Religion then of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man; and it is the right of every man to exercise it as these may dictate. This right is in its nature an unalienable right....It is the duty of every man to render to the Creator such homage and such only as he believes to be acceptable to him. This duty is precedent, both in order of time and in degree of obligation, to the claims of Civil Society.’
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:58 AM | Permalink

March 14, 2012

Twice as expensive as we were lead to believe

So many accounting tricks were used to 'reduce' the apparent cost of Obamacare so that it could be pushed through Congress, we are only now beginning to learn its true costs as Philip Klein points out.

President Obama's national health care law will cost $1.76 trillion over a decade, according to a new projection released today by the Congressional Budget Office, rather than the $940 billion forecast when it was signed into law.

That's twice as expensive as we thought.  If a car dealer did this, he would rightly be accused of "bait and switch".

Of course, these numbers are so large, it's impossible to grasp them.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:46 AM | Permalink

"True religion is not a set of beliefs - it is a set of practices"

An orthodox priest, Father Stephen says religion and belief are not the same thing.

The God Who Is No God

There is a divide in our culture between the ideas we think and the lives we live – and the division is often accepted as normal. This is more than mere hypocrisy – our problem is not that we fail to live up to our ideas – our ideas frequently fail to have anything to do with the life we live.

In secularized culture, religion is not eliminated – it is placed at a remove. The remove in which religion is placed is anywhere that does not matter, anywhere that does not touch our daily lives. The secular genius of the modern world (including America) was its contention that religion and belief are the same thing. The acquiescence of believers to this arrangement was, in effect, an agreement to render their faith impotent.

The fatal flaw in this agreement can be summed up simply: true religion is not a set of beliefs – it is a set of practices.
Christ’s parable of the Last Judgment in Matthew 25 confronts Christians with their practices: feeding the hungry; visiting the prisoners; clothing the naked; giving drink to the thirsty. No mention is made of Creed. It is not that belief is unimportant – but the dogma of the faith undergirds and informs our practice of the faith. “Faith without works is dead,” because it is no faith at all.
We feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the prisoner because in doing so we do this to Christ. Every practice of kindness and mercy is an act of union with Christ. The Church’s life of feasts and fasts, sacraments and services are the practice of worship – the life of union with Christ. They are not religious entertainment nor mere educational events: they are the visible manifestation of the inner life of God in man.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:12 AM | Permalink

People who are happy

After 25 years of lecturing on happiness, Dennis Prager summarizes what he has learned in Who Is Happy?

People who control themselves.

People who are given little and earn what they have.

People who do not see themselves or their group as victims.
If the primary conclusion you have reached after years of therapy is that you are a victim, you really are a victim — of lousy therapy.
People who rarely complain.

People who have close friends.

People who are in a good marriage.
A good marriage — having a real partner in life — is so contributive to happiness that it is almost enough. Almost.
People who act happy.

People who aren’t envious.

People who don’t have high self-esteem.

People who have few expectations.

People who are grateful.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:09 AM | Permalink

Get what you can while you can. The hell with what's best for the client

Get what you can while you can, the hell with what's best for the client  seems to be the moral of Goldman Sachs says Greg Smith, Why I Am Leaving Goldman Sachs.

I believe I have worked here long enough to understand the trajectory of its culture, its people and its identity. And I can honestly say that the environment now is as toxic and destructive as I have ever seen it.

How did we get here? The firm changed the way it thought about leadership. Leadership used to be about ideas, setting an example and doing the right thing. Today, if you make enough money for the firm (and are not currently an ax murderer) you will be promoted into a position of influence.
It makes me ill how callously people talk about ripping their clients off.
No humility? I mean, come on. Integrity? It is eroding. I don’t know of any illegal behavior, but will people push the envelope and pitch lucrative and complicated products to clients even if they are not the simplest investments or the ones most directly aligned with the client’s goals? Absolutely. Every day, in fact.

It astounds me how little senior management gets a basic truth: If clients don’t trust you they will eventually stop doing business with you. It doesn’t matter how smart you are.

Trust is the most important thing.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:17 AM | Permalink

"Generation Why Bother"

Young Americans have become more risk-averse and sedentary in what is described as a "most startling behavioral change"  as they believe luck counts more than effort.

The Go-Nowhere Generation

AMERICANS are supposed to be mobile and even pushy....

But sometime in the past 30 years, someone has hit the brakes and Americans — particularly young Americans — have become risk-averse and sedentary. The timing is terrible. With an 8.3 percent unemployment rate and a foreclosure rate that would grab the attention of the Joads, young Americans are less inclined to pack up and move to sunnier economic climes.

The likelihood of 20-somethings moving to another state has dropped well over 40 percent since the 1980s, according to calculations based on Census Bureau data. The stuck-at-home mentality hits college-educated Americans as well as those without high school degrees.
For about $200, young Nevadans who face a statewide 13 percent jobless rate can hop a Greyhound bus to North Dakota, where they’ll find a welcome sign and a 3.3 percent rate. Why are young people not crossing borders?
In the most startling behavioral change among young people since James Dean and Marlon Brando started mumbling, an increasing number of teenagers are not even bothering to get their driver’s licenses. Back in the early 1980s, 80 percent of 18-year-olds proudly strutted out of the D.M.V. with newly minted licenses, according to a study by researchers at the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute. By 2008 — even before the Great Recession — that number had dropped to 65 percent.
Generation Y has become Generation Why Bother. The Great Recession and the still weak economy make the trend toward risk aversion worse.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:42 AM | Permalink

March 13, 2012

Cameron's conservative government will argue Christians have no right to wear cross at work.

At the Farm, Maggie makes an essential point that should be blazoned in neon

Britain again: Christians have no right to wear cross at work, says Government - Christians do not have a right to wear a cross or crucifix openly at work, the Government is to argue in a landmark court case.

There is a deep confusion there. The government does not dispense or remove rights. Government is supposed to be there to protect freedom.

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson says

I don’t know the process by which government lawyers have decided this is the right way to go, but someone needs to march into their room, grab them by the lapels, and tell them not to be such confounded idiots.
Mrs Eweida is a member of a group — Christians — and she wanted to express her membership of that group in a small and inoffensive way. She was suspended and sent home. She was told she could not have contact with the public. She was discriminated against. She did suffer disadvantage. It is plain as a pikestaff. Government lawyers should run up the white flag now. Never mind Strasbourg: it is time for some common sense.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:50 AM | Permalink

Astonishing discovery of a major Leonardo da Vinci painting hidden for 400 years

Astonishing discovery of a major Leonardo da Vinci painting hidden for 500 years in Florence, just  yards from his famous statue of David.

 David Palazzo Vecchio

'Lost' Leonardo da Vinci masterpiece may be hidden in 'secret compartment' in Florence  palazzo - as hi-tech drill reveals traces of paints used in Mona Lisa

A hidden message in a painting has led to the first evidence of a 'lost' Leonardo da Vinci masterpiece that has lain hidden for 400 years in a secret compartment behind another mural in Florence, scientists announced today. 

An 'endoscopic' probe was inserted into the interior of the wall in the Palazzo Vechio, and obtained chemical samples of a dark pigment which Da Vinci also used in the Mona Lisa.

The painting is thought to be one of Da Vinci's most significant works - but was long assumed to have been destroyed by fire in the 16th century. Now researchers believe that it may have been preserved by a hidden wall built by another painter. 

'Proof' that long lost Leonardo da Vinci masterpiece lies behind Florence painting

Art 'detectives' searching for a long-lost Leonardo masterpiece in a palazzo in Florence have found traces of paint which match that used by the Renaissance genius for the Mona Lisa.
Prof Seracini, of the University of California at San Diego, has spent the last 35 years trying to prove that the palazzo conceals one of the great undiscovered treasures of the Renaissance.

He believed the existence of the lost Leonardo was indicated by a cryptic clue which Vasari painted on his work for the benefit of future generations – a military banner which bears the words “Cerca Trova”, or “Seek and you shall find”.

To prove his theory, his team drilled a series of tiny holes no more than two centimetres wide in existing cracks and fissures in the Vasari.

The scientists pushed probes and micro-cameras through the holes and discovered traces of white, orange and black pigment.  The probes also found an organic red material which may be lacquer or varnish, used to protect the painting, and a patch of beige material that appears to have been applied with brush strokes.

Prof Seracini said it would be possible to remove the Vasari fresco, take out the Leonardo work and replace the Vasari without damaging it.    The question now is whether the Italian authorities will give permission for the Vasari painting – a valuable work in its own right – to be removed from the wall to reveal the Leonardo.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:29 AM | Permalink

March 12, 2012

Revolt against Obamacare's Central Committee - the IPAB

My faith in the inherent soundness of the American citizenry is strengthened when 75% of Americans are against Obamacare and a clear majority think it's a bad thing, according to a CNN/Gallup poll.

One example of a very bad thing that's received too little attention: the unaccountable, unelected Central Committee of Obamacare, the IPAB, will not be required to tell us what regulations they plan to enact and whatever regulations they do promulgate  will not be reviewable either in administrative proceedings or in the courts.  The IPAB is the rationing board, the ultimate in government price control

Last week, 24 medical organizations representing 350,000 doctors urged Congress to repeal Medicare’s new Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB). That’s the right prescription for improving American health care and protecting access to innovative treatments for seniors.

Getting rid of the health care rationing board

The IPAB is the ultimate backstop to try to reining in the costs of the gigantic new entitlement...If the IPAB survives, it’s predictable what will occur: It will try small steps and then larger and more onerous ones aimed at reining in costs. And when all those fail, the reimbursement rates will be slashed. The Democrats may declare “rationing” isn’t in the cards, but when health-care providers can’t be adequately reimbursed, they limit or eliminate certain treatment options.

Even Democrats are joining the Independent Payment Advisory Revolt

The vehicle is a bill from Tennessee Republican Phil Roe that would repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board, or IPAB, the new ObamaCare bureaucracy with vast powers to control health care and health markets starting next year. A straight majority of the House has joined Mr. Roe as co-sponsors—some 234 Members, including 20 Democrats.
This turn is remarkable because the IPAB really does embody ObamaCare's innermost I values and beliefs—to wit, that health decisions are too important to leave to the people receiving the care (patients), the people providing the care (doctors and hospitals), the people paying for the care (taxpayers), or even the people who got the government involved in the first place (politicians).
The irony is that the White House is expanding the government-run health care that it says the government can't be trusted to run by itself, even as its unaccountable, unelected board undermines democratic consent. The IPAB was relieved of the normal checks and balances of notice-and-comment rulemaking, and its edicts aren't subject to administrative or even judicial review. Consumers have far more rights of legal recourse under the private health plans that Mr. Obama deplores.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:39 AM | Permalink

Twitching teens

When the story of the teen age girls who suddenly developed a mysterious twitching disorder, some  thought environmental contamination of some sort was the cause, others thought it was a classic case of mass hysteria or mass psychogenic illness.  Or maybe even mirror neurons.

Susan Dominus went to Le Roy to unravel The Mystery of 18 Twitching Teenagers.

Before the media vans took over Main Street, before the environmental testers came to dig at the soil, before the doctor came to take blood, before strangers started knocking on doors and asking question after question, Katie Krautwurst, a high-school cheerleader from Le Roy, N.Y., woke up from a nap. Instantly, she knew something was wrong. Her chin was jutting forward uncontrollably and her face was contracting into spasms. She was still twitching a few weeks later when her best friend, Thera Sanchez, captain of one of the school’s cheerleading squads, awoke from a nap stuttering and then later started twitching, her arms flailing and head jerking. Two weeks after that, Lydia Parker, also a senior, erupted in tics and arm swings and hums. Then word got around that Chelsey Dumars, another cheerleader, who recently moved to town, was making the same strange noises, the same strange movements, leaving school early on the days she could make it to class at all. The numbers grew — 12, then 16, then 18, in a school of 600 — and as they swelled, the ranks of the sufferers came to include a wider swath of the Le Roy high-school hierarchy
A common thread emerged among the five girls I interviewed extensively: none had stable relationships with their biological fathers. --

When the subject of the girls’ personal backgrounds came up — the biopsychosocial factors that might be affecting their health — Trifiletti said he had not had the time to ask them about those kinds of things. The abuse, the troubling family circumstances — much of it came as news to him. “Jeez, I didn’t realize the extent,” Trifiletti said. “These aren’t things people want to talk about."
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:21 AM | Permalink

Government failing elderly in Britain

Walter Russell Mead, 50% of UK Nursing Home Patients Abused By Government Health Care

Fans of government health care keep telling us that government can do the job, and they point to countries like the UK as examples where single payer, government run health care systems deliver high quality, compassionate care.

They are either grossly ignorant or they are lying through their teeth.

A recent study by a British healthcare regulator finds that half of all elderly people in Britain’s nursing homes are being denied basic health services.


And you can't fire them.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:13 AM | Permalink

March 10, 2012

"Political correctness is cultural Marxism"

Science fiction writer John C. Wright on Thought Police and the Poets

My objection to political correctness, as a Christian, is that it is diabolic; as a conservative, that it is Marxist; as a philosopher,  that it is not merely untruthful but openly nihilistic and irrational; as a practical man, that it makes rational conversation about any controversial topic all but impossible; as a gentleman that is substitutes political fashion for true courtesy; but as a writer my objection is that Political Correctness lacks drama.
Political Correctness is cultural Marxism, that is, the Marxist analysis of all human history into a single factor: the Darwinian war between oppressor-class and oppressed-class. Everything is a power struggle; all human relations are power relations. In the case of Political Correctness, it is culture rather than economics which is said to be determined by power struggles.
Political Correctness is not merely false, it is moonbat-barkingly, outrageously, openly, in-your-face false.

It is so false that conservatives cannot understand why or how anyone believes it, even its supporters. As best I can tell, the supporters both believe it and do not believe it at the same time and in the same sense, with a hypocrisy that is breathtaking in its insouciant insolence. By no coincidence, hypocrisy is the main charge leveled by PC-niks against conservatives.

But it is deliberately, knowingly false. That is the significant fact to grasp.

Because it is false, it naturally lends itself to totalitarianism, that is, to the policing of every aspect of thought and life, and this for two reasons: first, normal people will not utter endless falsehood about everything and anything unless they are forced or pressured; second, normal people, once they yield to the force or the pressure and utter lies they themselves know to be false, naturally tend to lack the will to resist further impositions, and lack the strength to repent of the practice.

A third factor which also plays a role is that once everyone in your environment is a liar, and repeats whatever lies the Big Brother demands, the bonds of faith between individuals are severed, and a man has no family, no Church, no brotherhood, no community to whom he can turn for support. He is alone and naked before the stark power of Big Brother.
Drama requires a moral compass, and that political correctness lacks it.

At Accuracy in Academia,  The Origins of Political Correctness

If we look at it analytically, if we look at it historically, we quickly find out exactly what it is. Political Correctness is cultural Marxism. It is Marxism translated from economic into cultural terms.
just as in classical economic Marxism certain groups, i.e. workers and peasants, are a priori good, and other groups, i.e., the bourgeoisie and capital owners, are evil. In the cultural Marxism of Political Correctness certain groups are good – feminist women, (only feminist women, non-feminist women are deemed not to exist) blacks, Hispanics, homosexuals. These groups are determined to be “victims,” and therefore automatically good regardless of what any of them do. Similarly, white males are determined automatically to be evil, thereby becoming the equivalent of the bourgeoisie in economic Marxism.
both have a method of analysis that automatically gives the answers they want. For the classical Marxist, it’s Marxist economics. For the cultural Marxist, it’s deconstruction. Deconstruction essentially takes any text, removes all meaning from it and re-inserts any meaning desired.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:31 PM | Permalink

"The percentage of the world's energy that comes from wind turbines today is: zero"

Unless you're making money from wind farms and there are a lot of people who are, no one wants wind power anywhere near where they live.    Now not even governments can afford the scam anymore.  Same with solar. 

James Delingpole on Wind farms even worse than we thought

The Global Warming Policy Foundation has produced yet another devastating report: this time on the economics of wind farms. Turns out they're even worse than we thought.

Not only do the Bat Chomping Eco-Crucifixes (TM) ruin views, kill birds, cause bats to implode, destroy the British film industry, frighten horses, enrich rent-seeking toffs like David Cameron's father-in-law Sir Reginald Sheffield Bt, drive up electricity bills, kill jobs, create fuel poverty, cause old people to die of hypothermia, wipe out property values, drive people mad with strobing and noise pollution and enable smug liberal idiots to spout rubbish like "Oh, I don't mind them. Actually I think they're rather beautiful", but also  by 2020 they're set to drive up consumer bills in the UK alone by £120 billion.
This is about ten times more than it would cost if we stuck to gas

...., Matt Ridley delivers the coup-de-grace. Here's a taste:

To the nearest whole number, the percentage of the world's energy that comes from wind turbines today is: zero. Despite the regressive subsidy (pushing pensioners into fuel poverty while improving the wine cellars of grand estates), despite tearing rural communities apart, killing jobs, despoiling views, erecting pylons, felling forests, killing bats and eagles, causing industrial accidents, clogging motorways, polluting lakes in Inner Mongolia with the toxic and radioactive tailings from refining neodymium, a ton of which is in the average turbine — despite all this, the total energy generated each day by wind has yet to reach half a per cent worldwide.

If wind power was going to work, it would have done so by now.
And as we survey the economic and environmental damage, the obvious question is how the delusion was maintained for so long. There has been no mystery about wind’s futility as a source of affordable and abundant electricity — so how did the wind-farm scam fool so many policymakers?

One answer is money. There were too many people with snouts in the trough....
The big conservation organisations have been disgracefully silent on the subject.

Here in the USA, Government subsidized wind farms  in the Pacific Northwest are now getting paid to NOT produce energy.    By the ratepayers.

"That's a ridiculous system that keeps piling more and more money into a system that's unsustainable," Myers said.

We have spent tens of millions of dollars protecting and saving the American Golden Eagle and the American Bald Eagles yet wind farms are given a pass, a get-out-of-jail-free card for all the eagles and birds that are killed by wind turbines, about 440,000 per year according to the Fish and Wildlife Service.

Last June, the Los Angeles Times reported that about 70 golden eagles are being killed per year by the wind turbines at Altamont Pass, about 20 miles east of Oakland, Calif.

Golden eagles face extinction again as numbers plummet.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:13 PM | Permalink

March 9, 2012

The Church of Big Government

The West may been too worn out to care about protecting religious freedom, free speech or much of the Constitution at all.  Still

it ought to bother you that in the cause of delegitimizing two millennia of moral teaching the state is willing to intrude on core rights — rights to property, rights of association, even rights to private conversation.

Mark Steyn in a must-read article The Church of Big Government

Discussing the constitutionality of Obamacare's "preventive health" measures on MSNBC, Melinda Henneberger of the Washington Post told Chris Matthews that she reasons thus with her liberal friends: "Maybe the Founders were wrong to guarantee free exercise of religion in the First Amendment, but they did."

Maybe. A lot of other constitutional types in the Western world have grown increasingly comfortable with circumscribing religious liberty. In 2002, the Swedish constitution was amended to criminalize criticism of homosexuality. "Disrespect" of the differently orientated became punishable by up to two years in jail, and "especially offensive" disrespect by up to four years. Shortly thereafter, Pastor Ake Green preached a sermon referencing the more robust verses of scripture, and was convicted of "hate crimes" for doing so.

[M]ost of the West now believes in the state as church — an all-powerful deity who provides day-care for your babies and takes your aged parents off your hands....  America's Catholic hierarchy, in particular, colluded in the redefinition of the tiresome individual obligation to Christian charity as the painless universal guarantee of state welfare....They were gung ho for Obamacare. It never seemed to occur to them that, if you agitate for state health care, the state gets to define what health care is.
As Tocqueville saw it, what prevents the "state popular" from declining into a "state despotic" is the strength of the intermediary institutions between the sovereign and the individual. But in the course of the 20th century, the intermediary institutions, the independent pillars of a free society, were gradually chopped away — from church to civic associations to family. Very little now stands between the individual and the sovereign, which is why the latter assumes the right to insert himself into every aspect of daily life, including the provisions a Catholic college president makes for his secretary's IUD.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:50 PM | Permalink

The Spanish rebellion against the EU has begun

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard writes Spain's sovereign thunderclap spells the end of Merkel's Europe

The Spanish rebellion has begun, sooner and more dramatically than I expected.

As many readers will already have seen, Premier Mariano Rajoy has refused point blank to comply with the austerity demands of the European Commission and the European Council (hijacked by Merkozy).

Taking what he called a "sovereign decision", he simply announced that he intends to ignore the EU deficit target of 4.4pc of GDP for this year, setting his own target of 5.8pc instead (down from 8.5pc in 2011).

In the twenty years or so that I have been following EU affairs closely, I cannot remember such a bold and open act of defiance by any state. Usually such matters are fudged. Countries stretch the line, but do not actually cross it.

There comes a point when a democracy can no longer sacrifice its citizens to please reactionary ideologues determined to impose 1930s scorched-earth policies. Ya basta.

What is striking is the wave of support for Mr Rajoy from the Spanish commentariat.

This one from Pablo Sebastián left me speechless.

My loose translation:
"Spain isn’t any old country that will allow itself to be humiliated by the German Chancellor."
"The behaviour of the European Commission towards Spain over recent days has been infamous and exceeds their treaty powers… these Eurocrats think they are the owners and masters of Spain."

"Spain and other nations in the EU are sick and tired of Chancellor Merkel’s meddling and Germany’s usurpation – with the help of Sarkozy’s France and their pretended "executive presidency" that does not in fact exist in EU treaties."

"Rajoy must not retreat one inch. The stakes are high and the country is in no mood to suffer humiliations from a Chancellor who is amassing all the savings of Europe and won’t listen to anybody, as if she were the absolute ruler of the Union. Merkel and the Commission should think hard before putting their hand into the sovereignty of this country – or any other – because it will be burned."
This then is the fermenting mood in the fiercely proud and ancient nation of Spain in Year III of depression, probably the worst depression the country has seen since the 1640s – or have I missed a worse one?

As for the "Fiscal Compact", it is rendered a dead letter by Spanish actions.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:32 PM | Permalink

March 8, 2012

Grab bag of interesting links

I've been knocked out much of this week with a stomach flu, so this is a grab bag of links I found interesting

Fascinating series of photographs by Miho Aikawa entitled Dinner in NY.  Amazing how many people eat alone and while doing something else.

Very interesting series on the new camouflage patterns the army will be introducing and how they are created using 3-D layering, light-reflecting gradients, shadows and pixels to disrupt what you're seeing

An infographic on What It Costs to Leave This World.

How a Syrian adventure became a nightmare, Five Years in Damascus

Damascenes have lived with this regime for decades and know it only really understands the way of the gun. It is a regime that scoffs at political ideals, a family fiefdom forged long ago in an absurd tribal pride that values a misplaced honor and personal ego over all. It can smuggle and steal, and it is not afraid to shoot and kill --but it will not negotiate or compromise.

How the history of toothpaste explains why you can't lose weight, The Power of Habit

Before Pepsodent, almost no Americans brushed their teeth. A decade after Hopkins' advertising campaigns, pollsters found that toothbrushing had become a daily ritual for more than half the population.
Craving, it turns out, is what powers a habit.

Charles Cooke went out to see how available free contraceptives were and brings back a huge Contraceptive Haul

To listen to the president and the various women’s groups who have so enjoyed throwing around the absurd “anti-women” hyperbole over the last month, one would think that Americans were still required to ape the cloak-and-dagger subterfuge of a drug deal in order to get their hands on contraception, and that they were paying a hefty premium into the bargain. This could not be further from the truth. In my foray, remember, I looked solely for “free” contraceptives. But — quelle horreur! — it is still possible, even normal, to buy contraceptives in every drugstore in the country. Indeed, so ample and various is the supply that it comes in a startling array of flavors, methods, and combinations. No questions are asked. Nobody is excluded.

The Romans in their baths were "obsessive gym bunnies"

We've all heard Warren Buffett  insist that he and the rich are not paying enough taxes.  Maybe he's just not paying the taxes he's required to.  Now, two of Buffett's subsidiary companies are being sued by the federal government for tax evasion?

We wish we'd had babies in our thirties, admit 80 per cent of first-time parents in their forties.

Despite the growing number of mothers 40 years old and over, 80 per cent of women and 70 per cent of men said that the 'optimal age for parenting' are the thirties. The University of California, San Francisco, interviewed 170 people in the small but telling survey.

Christian club isn't religious

The University of North Carolina- Greensboro is saying Christian student club isn’t religious and therefore must allow students of other religions and belief systems to become leaders and members as a condition to being a recognized group.

"We’ll mock Jesus but not Mohammed, says BBC boss,"

The head of the BBC, Mark Thompson, has admitted that the broadcaster would never mock Mohammed like it mocks Jesus.

He justified the astonishing admission of religious bias by suggesting that mocking Mohammed might have the “emotional force” of “grotesque child pornography”.

But Jesus is fair game because, he said, Christianity has broad shoulders and fewer ties to ethnicity.

Imagine looking at this art every time you went to the airport.  Something is rotten in the Denver airport


Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:43 AM | Permalink

March 5, 2012

Disaster Junkies

I had never heard of disaster junkies before this report.  How wonderful that they exist and do such good work.

'Disaster junkies' are reconstructing America's backbone during highest reported wave of natural disasters.

Taking a break from laying sod in a tornado-torn neighborhood, volunteer David Elliott cocked his head to the left. He was trying to remember all the trips he's made to help rebuild after disasters.

Elliott went to New Orleans seven times after Hurricane Katrina swamped the city in 2005, or was it eight? He was in Nashville, Tenn., after floodwaters inundated the city in 2010.

He's been to Alabama three times since tornadoes killed about 250 people statewide in April. Wait: that was just last year?

'I've lost track,' said Elliott, of Sacramento, Calif..
Rebuilding after storms is becoming a growth industry as the United States is slammed by more natural disasters, and leaders of the response efforts say the nation's recovery network functions as well as it does because of a backbone of volunteers nicknamed 'disaster junkies.'

The small group of people like Elliott travel from tragedy to tragedy shoveling mud out of flooded houses and rebuilding neighborhoods laid waste by busted levees, tornadoes and wildfires. Often, they bring more helpers with them.
No one knows exactly how many disaster junkies are active in the United States, but the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster says a core group of around 300 people travel the country at least six months out of each year performing such work.
Based in Arlington, Va., the nonprofit group estimates several thousand more people are like Elliott and make several trips each year helping out after disasters.

Often associated with churches or other religious groups and traveling at their own expense, these volunteers sleep in churches or mobile homes and frequently eat food provided by other volunteers.

While volunteers and others provided labor worth some $147 million and donated another $200 million toward relief aid in 2008, the last year for which figures are available, some recovery projects still can't get off the ground because of the sheer number of disasters that struck the country in recent months, said James McGowan, associate executive director with National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster.
Thousands of people volunteer regularly without approaching 'junkie' status. The American Red Cross, which is part of McGowan's organization, said 24,236 of its volunteers helped out after 137 disasters in 46 states last year, but most went to only one or two sites.
The devastation of Katrina compelled Julie Davis to help more than six years ago, and she and her husband Ken have been repeat volunteers ever since. They once were 'snowbirds,' or retirees who visited the South in search of warm weather each year, but now they spend weeks at a time each winter performing volunteer work in disaster-torn areas like Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Chatting with displaced homeowner Deloris Mack as her husband worked on the woman's rebuilt house, Davis said volunteering is addictive.

'We are definitely junkies because you get it in your blood and just can't quit,' said Davis, of Girard, Penn. '(It's) just the satisfaction of knowing that you are helping someone, that they aren't expecting anything and you just come up.'
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:26 AM | Permalink

March 1, 2012

Unthinkable thoughts on birth control

Quite apart from the encroachment on religious freedom that the government mandate that all employers must offer free birth control, abortifacients and sterilization to their employees, comes the issue of birth control.    The way Democrats are talking about it, birth control is an unqualified good and ought to be given away free.    They call it a "women's health issue" but let's take a look at just how healthy birth control pills are.  Not that I would outlaw birth control pills, but I believe that just as we put warning signs on cigarette packages,  women should know the truth about the risks they take when they begin taking the pill.

The Pill Is Not Good for Women

Women on the whole disproportionately bear the burden of the new sexual regime. They are expected to dose themselves with a Group 1 carcinogen for approximately two-thirds of their fertile years. They sustain greater emotional costs from casual sex. They are at greater risk of contracting STDs and disproportionately suffer from their long-term consequences, such as cervical cancer and fertility loss.And even after 50 years with the Pill, as many as half of all pregnancies are still unintended. Women, not men, must make the heart-wrenching choice between abortion, reckoned a tragic outcome even by its supporters, and bearing a child with little to no paternal support. After all, since children were negotiated out of the bargain by the availability of contraception and abortion, men have secured a strong rationale to simply ignore or reject pregnancies that result from uncommitted sexual relations. Nobel-laureate economist George Akerlof predicted nearly two decades ago that this would lead directly to the feminization of poverty, as it ruefully has.

Poisoned by the Pill

hormonal contraceptives have been declared a Group 1 carcinogen by the World Health Organization (WHO).  A carcinogen is a substance that causes cancer, by causing changes in the DNA structure of cells.  Estrogen-progestogen contraceptives have achieved the dubious distinction of sharing this carcinogenic ranking with such toxic substances as arsenic, asbestos and plutonium.  But unlike arsenic, asbestos, plutonium this is one carcinogen the government will recommend for perfectly healthy women.
The carcinogenic information about the pill is itself a bitter pill for doctors to swallow.  Dr. Lanfranchi said:“25 years down in my career, when I hear that I’ve been handing out a Group 1 carcinogen for the last 25 years, I’m going to be resistant to that."

Killer Compromise

Since 1975, there has been a 400 percent increase in breast cancer among pre-menopausal women. This mirrors the increased use of birth control over these same years.

A Mayo Clinic study confirms that any girl or woman who is on hormonal birth control for four years prior to her first full-term pregnancy increases her breast cancer risk by 52 percent.

Women who use hormonal birth control for more than five years are four times more likely to develop cervical cancer.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer, an arm of the World Health Organization, classifies all forms of hormonal contraception as Group 1 carcinogens. This group of cancer-causing agents also includes cigarettes and asbestos. How is it that the Food and Drug Administration can require cigarette manufacturers to place warning labels and photos of corpses on cigarette packages to warn consumers of the health dangers while they take the equally harmful substance of hormonal birth control and force companies to give it away free to women of all ages?

No religious organization, Business Insider writes Time to Admit It.  The Church Has Been Right on Birth Control

Here's the thing, though: the Catholic Church is the world's biggest and oldest organization. It has buried all of the greatest empires known to man, from the Romans to the Soviets. It has establishments literally all over the world, touching every area of human endeavor. It's given us some of the world's greatest thinkers, from Saint Augustine on down to René Girard. When it does things, it usually has a good reason. Everyone has a right to disagree, but it's not that they're a bunch of crazy old white dudes who are stuck in the Middle Ages.

The Church teaches that love, marriage, sex, and procreation are all things that belong together. That's it. But it's pretty important. And though the Church has been teaching this for 2,000 years, it's probably never been as salient as today.

Today's injunctions against birth control were re-affirmed in a 1968 document by Pope Paul VI called Humanae Vitae.  He warned of four results if the widespread use of contraceptives was accepted:
• General lowering of moral standards
• A rise in infidelity, and illegitimacy
• The reduction of women to objects used to satisfy men.
• Government coercion in reproductive matters.
Does that sound familiar?  Because it sure sounds like what's been happening for the past 40 years.

So why are these facts so little known?  James Taranto writes about  Unthinkable Thoughts or how feminism deforms intellectual culture.

Rick Santorum's view that advances in birth control have had deleterious social consequences, most notably in contributing to the breakdown of the family. To our surprise, a not-insignificant number of our readers have pushed back against this idea, which some find counterintuitive and others downright unthinkable.
The Food and Drug Administration approved the pill for contraceptive use in 1960. Over the next half-century, the marriage rate declined and the illegitimacy rate skyrocketed,
Santorum's argument is not really all that counterintuitive. It posits that the availability of birth control changed the culture in ways that encouraged illegitimacy. There is scholarly support for this hypothesis, in the form of a 1996 study in The Quarterly Journal of Economics
Santorum is doing a service to American intellectual culture by giving voice to ideas the feminist elite would like to decree unthinkable.
But when a decent young man professes a desire to marry an old-fashioned girl and take financial responsibility for his family, Yoffe treats him as a deviant. She denounces him as "sexist" even though he is careful to affirm that women have every right to work outside the home if they choose to do so. He mentions nothing about politics, yet she feels compelled to bring Santorum, the feminists' Emmanuel Goldstein, into the mix.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:48 PM | Permalink

The cynical, bogus birth control lie and the Bishops

Breaking.  The Senate voted 51-48 to kill an amendment which would have restored a conscience exemption in the Obamacare on a generally party-line vote.    I've read in various places that Obama was losing support of women.  What better way to get them back on board than "to change the narrative" from the First Amendment of Freedom of Religion to those awful Republicans who want to take away your birth control.

As the Anchoress wrote

The frankly false ideas are being served up by the mainstream media and others who evidently believe women are staggeringly stupid. The GOP, they maintain, is after their ladyparts, and colluding with Christians who suddenly wish to outlaw contraception.
This lie is another distraction, and an exceedingly cynical one. Prior to that debate no one was even thinking about contraception bans as a public issue; even now, the only people actually doing so are assorted Democrat operatives and their allies in the media. Time will tell whether American women are as stupid and susceptible to baseless fearmongering as the Democrats clearly believe them to be.

No one has proposed outlawing birth control.  Not even the Bishops.  What the Democrats are proposing is a new welfare program to provide free birth control to every woman no matter how rich they are.  At the same, the Democrats cut $500 billion from Medicare to fund Obamacare. 

There is no problem with access to birth control.  The question is who is going to pay for it.  For the poor, free birth control is provided by state and federal funded family planning clinics.  Even Planned Parenthood gives away free birth control to anyone who wants it.

What is most upsetting to me is that the keystone, the crown jewel of the Bill of Rights, freedom of religion, fought for, preserved by generations of Americans is now being scuttled by this Administration and Democrats for a  bogus birth control argument designed to win women back to the Democrat side come the 2012 election.    If allowed to go into effect, this mandate will create chaos across the country as Catholic hospitals, schools and charities close down.

Kathleen Sebelius says she's working on a compromise plan on contraceptive coverage under the HHS mandate and she's talking to Catholic health leaders, union leaders, and "our partners at labor"  to figure out a strategy.  Every one but the bishops.

We don't need no stinking Bishops!

Amazing. I wonder how much longer the charade goes on. We’ve known since early 2009 that the concept of conscience means nothing to this president who is much more interested in asserting power, sidestepping the constitution and acquiring more power.

This thing has been a game from the start, one put in play last November when Mrs. Pelosi let slip about “this conscience thing” that Catholics bother the government with. It’s a game, but it’s one they want to win, and one we can’t afford to lose.

And this is why they’re not interested in talking to the Bishops:

Only in the post-mandate world might it be considered ‘liberal’ for the government to coerce people into violating their religious beliefs; to justify that coercion based on the minority status of those beliefs; to intrude into the internal affairs of religious organizations; to crush out religious diversity in the private sector; and to incentivize religious groups to serve fewer of the needy.”

Investors' Business Daily Chicago's Cardinal warns of Obamacare Gulag

The ex-head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops compares the administration take on freedom of worship to the Soviet Union's and says its contraceptive mandate will force church hospitals to close.
Cardinal George essentially rejected the administration position that you can have freedom of conscience as long as you don't act on it and that Catholics can run hospitals believing what they want as long as they don't act on those beliefs.

Cardinal George responded that what Catholics and others do is what they believe and the two cannot be separated.

"Freedom of worship was guaranteed in the constitution of the former Soviet Union," Cardinal George wrote in a column in the Catholic New World. "You could go to church, if you could find one. The church, however, could do nothing except conduct religious rites in places of worship — no schools, religious publications, health care institutions, organized charity, ministry for justice and works of mercy that flow naturally from a living faith. We fought a long Cold War to defeat that vision of society."

Francis Cardinal George publishes his letter to parishioners

Why does a governmental administrative decision now mean the end of institutions that have been built up over several generations from small donations, often from immigrants, and through the services of religious women and men and others who wanted to be part of the church’s mission in healing and education? Catholic hospitals, universities and social services have an institutional conscience, a conscience shaped by Catholic moral and social teaching. The HHS regulations now before our society will make it impossible for Catholic institutions to follow their conscience.
What will happen if the HHS regulations are not rescinded? A Catholic institution, so far as I can see right now, will have one of four choices: 1) secularize itself, breaking its connection to the church, her moral and social teachings and the oversight of its ministry by the local bishop. This is a form of theft. It means the church will not be permitted to have an institutional voice in public life. 2) Pay exorbitant annual fines to avoid paying for insurance policies that cover abortifacient drugs, artificial contraception and sterilization. This is not economically sustainable. 3) Sell the institution to a non-Catholic group or to a local government. 4) Close down.
The strangest accusation in this manipulated public discussion has the bishops not respecting the separation between church and state. The bishops would love to have the separation between church and state we thought we enjoyed just a few months ago, when we were free to run Catholic institutions in conformity with the demands of the Catholic faith, when the government couldn’t tell us which of our ministries are Catholic and which not, when the law protected rather than crushed conscience. The state is making itself into a church. The bishops didn’t begin this dismaying conflict nor choose its timing. We would love to have it ended as quickly as possible. It’s up to the government to stop the attack.

Ed Morrrisey on the significance of Catholic hospitals  and why it would be a disaster if they are forced to close

The Catholic Church has perhaps the most extensive private health-care delivery system in the nation. It operates 12.6 percent of hospitals in the U.S., according to the Catholic Health Association of the U.S., accounting for 15.6 percent of all admissions and 14.5 percent of all hospital expenses, a total for Catholic hospitals in 2010 of $98.6 billion. Whom do these hospitals serve? Catholic hospitals handle more than their share of Medicare (16.6 percent) and Medicaid (13.65) discharges, meaning that more than one in six seniors and disabled patients get attention from these hospitals, and more than one in every eight low-income patients as well. Almost a third (32 percent) of these hospitals are located in rural areas, where patients usually have few other options for care.
Imagine the impact if these hospitals shut down, discounting the other 400-plus health centers and 1,500 specialized homes that the Catholic Church operates as part of its mission that would also disappear.

Then there's the schools. 

The Catholic Church runs over 7500 primary and secondary education schools in the US (where over a third of students are non-Catholics), educating more than 2.5 million students.  Thanks to a near-blanket moratorium on vouchers, taxpayer money doesn’t get used in teaching these students in a system that has a 99% graduation rate and a 97% success rate at placing students in college.  Based on an average student cost of $8000 in public schools, Catholic schools save taxpayers about $20 billion dollars a year.

And the charities

In 2003, the latest data available, they provided emergency food services to 6.5 million people, temporary shelter to over 200,000 people, and a range of other assistance to another 1.5 million people, including assistance in clothing, finances, utilities, and even medication.  Those efforts would disappear overnight, along with schools and hospitals.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:14 PM | Permalink

Would you mistake sepsis for the flu?

Within a day of his eczema being infected Marc was dead

One Wednesday night last February, Marc Franks, a fit, 38-year-old company director, mentioned a patch of eczema on his right arm.

As his wife Barbara recalls: ‘I’d given birth to our fourth child three months before, so I didn’t really pay much attention. Marc said the eczema was cracked, dry and probably infected. But he said the pain wasn’t too bad — he’d had eczema before and it always cleared up, so we weren’t too worried.’

The next morning, he said he felt fine and went off to work, leaving Barbara, 38, at home in Didsbury, Manchester, with daughters Ashlea, seven, and Rowan, four, and sons Thomas, five, and Owen, now 15 months.

But Marc felt so unwell that he returned home to spend the day in bed. The couple assumed he’d picked up the winter vomiting bug that had affected the rest of the family. He had an upset stomach and Barbara made sure he kept well hydrated.

He died of sepsis that same day.

Do you know the warning signs of sepsis?  Would you mistake it for the flu?

There are 102,000 cases of sepsis (previously known as blood poisoning or septicaemia) each year in Britain and it kills 37,000 people — more than breast, bowel and prostate cancer combined. Sepsis is also the biggest killer of pregnant women, who are particularly susceptible because their immune systems are suppressed in pregnancy. However, it can strike any age.
What few realise is that there doesn’t have to be a cut or wound to get blood poisoning. ‘Any type of infection — including chest infections, pneumonia, urinary tract infections, burst ulcers, appendicitis, bites and skin infections such as eczema can trigger sepsis,’ says Dr Daniels.

And it can kill rapidly — within 24 hours in some cases — so spotting it early is vital.’
says Dr Daniels. ‘The problem is that symptoms can be similar to flu and be non-specific — but there are key symptoms that set it apart.’

These are a rapid heart rate, a high or very low temperature (below 36c or above 38.3c), shallow rapid breathing and confusion or slurring. Dr Daniels says patients with two or more of these symptoms should seek medical advice.

‘If a patient also has cold, pale or mottled skin, loses consciousness or has not passed water for more than 18 hours, they need to be taken to hospital as an emergency as soon as possible.’
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:35 PM | Permalink

Personalized Cancer Treatment

Instapundit points to an article in the MIT Technology Review about Personalizing Cancer Drugs from  Foundation Medicine, a company that is offering a test that helps oncologists choose drugs  targeted to the genetic profile of a patient's tumor cells. 

“Starting this spring, for about $5,000, any oncologist will be able to ship a sliver of tumor in a bar-coded package to Foundation’s lab. Foundation will extract the DNA, sequence scores of cancer genes, and prepare a report to steer doctors and patients toward drugs, most still in early testing, that are known to target the cellular defects caused by the DNA errors the analysis turns up. Pellini says that about 70 percent of cases studied to date have yielded information that a doctor could act on—whether by prescribing a particular drug, stopping treatment with another, or enrolling the patient in a clinical trial.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:23 PM | Permalink