Daniel Henninger, Church Is Still Not State
How ironic it will be if Catholic voters, about 27% of the electorate, put the first Mormon in the White House some 50 years after John F. Kennedy became the first Catholic president. More telling, though, about the current state of the American mind will be the fact that after more than a thousand days and events in Barack Obama's presidency, the reason for this result will be an unexpected reaffirmation of an American principle older than the country's first presidential election: the free exercise of religion.
The backlash among Catholics to the HHS order, across the political spectrum, was an astonishing thing to witness. One anecdote sticks with me from the first days. A friend in Ohio told of talking to a diocesan priest of no apparent political persuasion who said, "I hope these bishops are prepared to go to jail over this."
Go to jail? What's going on here?
Some things don't change, though, and among them is an American antipathy to being pushed too far. Americans are a tolerant people, but past some point they push back. With the HHS mandate upon them, a lot of Catholic voters are thinking resistance. It's an old American tradition.
The Obama administration is effectively saying that all the practices and beliefs embedded in the Obama health-care law are established in America and consent is required, no matter what some religion purports to believe. It is this attempt to displace religious belief with an alternative belief system that goes against the American grain and has Catholics up in arms.
The New Yorker magazine is often touted for its fact-checking. Yet there is an egregious error in its essay Why is the Catholic Church going to Court. Ed Whelan explains;
1) Talbot claims that the “lawsuit” (actually, there were twelve lawsuits filed last week, on top of the several that were already pending) “proposes . . . that religious freedom means that they [the Catholic plaintiffs] can deny access to birth control to people who don’t share their faith or that article of it.” (Emphasis added.) But that’s an outrageously false claim. If and when the lawsuits succeed, Americans will continue to have ready access to birth control. What is at stake in the lawsuits is the separate matter of whether the Obama administration can dragoon those employers who have religious objections to facilitating the use of contraceptives, abortifacients, and/or sterilization services to be the vehicle for implementing its agenda.
4} Talbot contends, “Going to court will embed the Church in partisan politics and yoke it to the right wing.” But, as Archbishop William Lori nicely put it last week:
This is not a fight we want or asked for, but one forced upon us by government on its own timing.
This is not a Republican or Democratic, a conservative or liberal issue; it is an American issue.
Do you know when the last global summit was? Neither do I. The green agenda has been forgotten or disregarded as people realize how fraudulent it is. The prophets of environmental armageddon more than ever seem like Reverend Camping with his predictions of the end of the world and rapture.
Walter Russell Mead wites in Global Green Agenda Continues to Fail
Remember when meetings to debate and negotiate an international carbon treaty were big news? The Copenhagen Summit was hailed as the largest assembly of world leaders ever to gather for one event; when it fizzled in waves of shame and confusion, the green movement was shocked and dismayed.
Those who want to follow the latest stage in the futile march of the global greens can read the BBC dispatch on the global non-summit; the air of despair hanging over the process comes through loud and clear. These are bureaucrats who realize they are becoming so irrelevant that they may soon face the grim possibility of budget cuts: as of now, there are no funds available for the next global green gabfest, tentatively scheduled for Bangkok.
Concern about the climate, we continue to believe at Via Meadia, is not misplaced, but the crazy set of unrealistic objectives, laughable foreign aid boondoggles, Malthusian panic mongering and cockamamie treaty plans made this UN process a clown circus that was doomed to fail — and the sooner, the better. There was a time — as recently as early 2010 — when the Great and the Good, the Champions of the Conventional Wisdom and the Oracles of the Davoisie identified this forlorn negotiation as the wave of the future and the last best hope of man.
Let the futility and failure to which all this led be a reminder to us and to them: those who guide the world’s destiny aren’t nearly as discerning as they think they are. Between the American housing bubble, the European meltdown and the climate disaster, it almost begins to look as if the Establishment consists mostly of overpaid, egotistical blowhards.
As The Examiner’s Brian Hughes reminds us, then-candidate Obama promised to create 5 million green jobs, at the low, low cost of only $15 billion per year:
Obama spent $90 billion of his stimulus package on green energy projects, including weatherization of buildings and development of electric vehicles. Yet, by the end of last year, just 16,100 people landed new jobs in the so-called green industry, Labor Department statistics show, far short of the 200,000 jobs the White House projected it would help create each year.
Obama has grown very quiet about climate change. He can spot a political loser from a Chicago mile away. He’s not attending the UN’s 20th anniversary of the Earth Summit that started the whole climate diplomacy circus. Twenty years ago the greens browbeat President Bush to attend, which he ultimately did. But the craven greens seem to be giving Obama a pass. As Roll Call reports:
President Barack Obama’s first Earth Day proclamation in 2009 was an urgent call to address global warming. This year? The word “climate” didn’t even get a mention. . .
Item: In an extremely curious New York Times story last week, Times environmental writer John Broder notes that President Obama pushed hard for the final approval of Shell Oil’s long sought permit to begin drilling in a new offshore oil field in Alaska, which has been held up for years by bureaucratic red tape and environmental lawsuits.
This opening of the frozen frontier to oil exploration is curious because the President nixed the Keystone pipeline for no rational reason simply to please his base. His administration has delayed and delayed to approve new onshore drilling in Alaska threatening the physical viability of the Alaskan pipeline because of declining oil flow.
From Canada to Colombia to Brazil, oil and gas production in the Western Hemisphere is booming, with the United States emerging less dependent on supplies from an unstable Middle East. Central to the new energy equation is the United States itself, which has ramped up production and is now churning out 1.7 million more barrels of oil and liquid fuel per day than in 2005.
“There are new players and drivers in the world,” said Ruben Etcheverry, chief executive of Gas and Oil of Neuquen, a state-owned energy firm that is positioning itself to develop oil and gas fields here in Patagonia. “There is a new geopolitical shift, and those countries that never provided oil and gas can now do so. For the United States, there is a glimmer of the possibility of self-sufficiency.”
I did learn that when it comes to money I am, for lack of a better word, an idiot. I have yet to discern the meaning between need and want.
However, as someone who is now completely aware of this, I do make a valiant effort to be wary of how I spend my funds. I make sure bills are tackled first, groceries second, savings third and only then will I indulge in things I want but don’t technically need.
Apparently, people don’t need over 30 pairs of shoes. And sadly, for me that has been the most difficult lesson to learn.
When I graduated from law school, my first job was on Wall Street with the law firm Dewey, Ballatine, Bushby, Palmer and Wood, then the largest firm in New York City and the country as far as I know.
Largest again. The successor to Dewey Ballantine, after a 2007 merger, is Dewey & Leboeuf and it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Monday in the biggest collapse of a law firm in U.S. history
Negative economic conditions, along with the firm's partnership compensation arrangements, created a situation where its cash flow was insufficient to cover capital expenses and full compensation expectations, Dewey said.
With the bankruptcy, comes Big Dewey Debts
The beleaguered New York law firm Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP owes millions of dollars to thousands of creditors, including legal headhunters, legal-research vendors and a dining service that kept Dewey's lawyers fed, according to papers filed in federal bankruptcy court.
The entire unwinding could take years. In addition to the hundreds who were laid off and the big creditors who are owed money, including secured lenders, bondholders and federal pension regulators, Dewey's demise leaves holes in the balance sheets of enterprises large and small whose services are essential to big law firm functions.
"I would say it is the worst possible result for everyone," said Brad Hildebrandt, the chairman of Hildebrandt Consulting LLC. "Now the creditors will have to fight over what's left, and the partners will inevitably have to contribute."
At Above the Law, people comment on why the firm failed in Gone Dewey Gone.
The ‘Steves’ are to blame, but ‘ineptitude’ is too kind a word to describe what they did at Dewey. Greed and unchecked power proved to be a lethal cocktail.”
Debt is what killed Dewey. Debt is what killed most other firms the past few years. It will kill many more. I’ve heard that just three of the AMLAW100 operate without incorporating debt into their operations. Three! Many of them distribute all their cash to their partners at the end of the year, and then operate in the red until October or November. All it takes is a few partner departures or a collapse of one or two practice groups to destroy most firms.”
The biggest winner in the reader poll was the Guaranteed compensation deals for certain partners.
“An absolutely insane idea, especially in a shaky economy. What motivation does a rainmaker partner with a multi-million dollar guarantee have to hustle to increase his book of business? Likewise, what motivation does a service partner making $300k have to work harder when all (and I mean all) of the big money is being funneled to the rainmaker partners? And, how was this plan supposed to work unless revenues kept skyrocketing?”
The New York Times reports Dewey's Collapse Underscores a new reaity for law firms
Dewey collapsed under the weight of a toxic combination of high leverage, lavish financial guarantees to many partners and faltering revenue. This makes it, in many ways, the Lehman Brothers of the legal profession, although perhaps that’s unfair to Lehman Brothers. Though highly leveraged, Lehman Brothers had enormous assets on its balance sheet — while Dewey, like law firms generally, had scant tangible assets. Nonetheless, that didn’t stop the firm from heavy borrowing of about $225 million, both by issuing bonds and by drawing on a large line of credit.
“This absolutely falls into the category: What were they thinking?” Bruce MacEwen, a lawyer and president of Adam Smith Esq. and an expert on law firm economics,
I left after a year because I was completely bored with the work and didn't want to get used to the money.
David Brooks on The Service Patch
[C]ommunity service has become a patch for morality. Many people today have not been given vocabularies to talk about what virtue is, what character consists of, and in which way excellence lies, so they just talk about community service, figuring that if you are doing the sort of work that Bono celebrates then you must be a good person.
When I read the Stanford discussion thread, I saw young people with deep moral yearnings. But they tended to convert moral questions into resource allocation questions; questions about how to be into questions about what to do.
It’s worth noting that you can devote your life to community service and be a total schmuck. You can spend your life on Wall Street and be a hero. Understanding heroism and schmuckdom requires fewer Excel spreadsheets, more Dostoyevsky and the Book of Job.
Heart attack patients could one day have their organ repaired using their own skin cells, say scientists.
A team from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology have demonstrated they can transform skin cells obtained from heart failure patients into stem cellsand use these to generate new heart muscle cells.
The cells are fully functional and capable of working together with adult heart muscle cells.
Research leader Professor Lior Gepstein said: 'What is new and exciting about our research is that we have shown that it's possible to take skin cells from an elderly patient with advanced heart failure and end up with his own beating cells in a laboratory dish that are healthy and young - the equivalent to the stage of his heart cells when he was just born.'
Using a patient's own cells would avoid the problem of patients' immune systems rejecting the cells as 'foreign'.
Researchers took skin cells from two male heart failure patients aged 51 and 61, and reprogrammed them by delivering three genes followed by a small molecule called valproic acid to the cell nucleus.
Writing for the European Heart Journal, the researchers say much further research is needed to make sure they could scale up their study to make a sufficient amount of cells for a reasonable cost.
They added it could take five to ten years before clinical trials start.
Jonathan Gottschall writes Why Fiction is Good for You
Does fiction build the morality of individuals and societies, or does it break it down?
Until recently, we’ve only been able to guess about the actual psychological effects of fiction on individuals and society. But new research in psychology and broad-based literary analysis is finally taking questions about morality out of the realm of speculation.
This research consistently shows that fiction does mold us. The more deeply we are cast under a story’s spell, the more potent its influence. In fact, fiction seems to be more effective at changing beliefs than nonfiction, which is designed to persuade through argument and evidence. Studies show that when we read nonfiction, we read with our shields up. We are critical and skeptical. But when we are absorbed in a story, we drop our intellectual guard. We are moved emotionally, and this seems to make us rubbery and easy to shape.
So those who are concerned about the messages in fiction — whether they are conservative or progressive — have a point. Fiction is dangerous because it has the power to modify the principles of individuals and whole societies.
But fiction is doing something that all political factions should be able to get behind. Beyond the local battles of the culture wars, virtually all storytelling, regardless of genre, increases society’s fund of empathy and reinforces an ethic of decency that is deeper than politics.
For a long time literary critics and philosophers have argued, along with the novelist George Eliot, that one of fiction’s main jobs is to “enlarge men’s sympathies.” Recent lab work suggests they are right.
Reading narrative fiction allows one to learn about our social world and as a result fosters empathic growth and prosocial behavior.”
While fiction often dwells on lewdness, depravity, and simple selfishness, storytellers virtually always put us in a position to judge wrongdoing, and we do so with gusto. As the Brandeis literary scholar William Flesch argues, fiction all over the world is strongly dominated by the theme of poetic justice. Generally speaking, goodness is endorsed and rewarded and badness is condemned and punished. Stories — from modern films to ancient fairy tales — steep us all in the same powerful norms and values. True, antiheroes, from Milton’s Satan to Tony Soprano, captivate us, but bad guys are almost never allowed to live happily ever after. And fiction generally teaches us that it is profitable to be good.
Fiction is often treated like a mere frill in human life, if not something worse. But the emerging science of story suggests that fiction is good for more than kicks. By enhancing empathy, fiction reduces social friction. At the same time, story exerts a kind of magnetic force, drawing us together around common values. In other words, most fiction, even the trashy stuff, appears to be in the public interest after all.
Harvard Law School Professor Mary Ann Glendon explains Why the Bishops Are Suing the U.S. Government.
The main goal of the mandate is not, as HHS claimed, to protect women's health. It is rather a move to conscript religious organizations into a political agenda, forcing them to facilitate and fund services that violate their beliefs, within their own institutions.
More is at stake here than the mission of all churches, including the Catholic Church, to provide social services like health care and education to everyone regardless of creed, and to do so without compromising their beliefs. At the deepest level, we are witnessing an attack on the institutions of civil society that are essential to limited government and are important buffers between the citizen and the all-powerful state.
If religious providers of education, health care and social services are closed down or forced to become tools of administration policy, the government consolidates a monopoly over those essential services. As Cardinal Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, put it, we are witnessing an effort to reduce religion to a private activity. "Never before," he said, "have we faced this kind of challenge to our ability to engage in the public square as people of faith."
Religious freedom is subject to necessary limitations in the interests of public health and safety. The HHS regulations do not fall into that category. The world has gotten along fine without this mandate—the services in question are widely and cheaply available, and most employers will provide coverage for them.
But if the regulations are not reversed, they threaten to demote religious liberty from its prominent place among this country's most cherished freedoms. That is why Cardinal Dolan told CBS's "Face the Nation" on April 8: "We didn't ask for this fight, but we won't back away from it."
This is the Biggest Religious Lawsuit in U.S. History and the network news shows ignored it writes Brent Bozell in Newsbusters.
The fact is that the Catholic Church has unleashed legal Armageddon on the administration, promising ‘we will not comply’ with a health law that strips Catholics of their religious liberty. If this isn't 'news' then there's no such thing as news. This should be leading newscasts and the subject of special, in-depth reports. Instead, these networks are sending a clear message to all Americans that the networks will go to any lengths – even censoring from the public an event of this historic magnitude – to prevent the release of any information that will hurt Obama’s chances of re-election.
This is the worst bias by omission I have seen in the quarter century history of the Media Research Center.
Don't miss this story
A former police woman has relived the terrifying night she was shot five times at point blank range as she tackled a pair of psychopathic gunmen who were holding her boyfriend's family hostage.
Petite Isabella Lovadina, 29, fought off the two thugs who had forced their way at gunpoint into the home of boyfriend Nick Koenig's grandmother, where Isabella had just enjoyed a relaxed family dinner.
Four generations of Nick's family were staying at the St. Louis house during the terrifying raid in 2009 in which his cousin Gina, a single mother of two, was shot dead.
But the outcome could have been far worse had it not been for Isabella, who, despite being unarmed herself and having a gun at her head, threw herself at her attackers in a blind fury.
With tears streaming down her face Gina begged Isabella to do something.
Isabella knelt on the floor with a gun trained at her head, certain that if she didn't act everyone was going to die. As the anger welled up inside her she decided she would go out fighting.
'I thought, "I'm not gonna let this happen. I'm not gonna let somebody kill me while I'm on my knees with my head on the ground. I'm not going out that way."
'I looked down the barrel of the gun… and with everything that I had in me, I lunged towards the guy with the black hoodie and -- and just began to fight.'
Nothing beats a two-parent family for raising happy and successful children.
The welfare state has little or no bearing on how children turn out, an international research project has found. Strong families are the key to producing well adjusted and successful youngsters, it adds. In fact, say the researchers, the children of married parents are likely to do better than those from broken or single-parent families – no matter how much state support the family is given.
The study singled out the British welfare state as an example of the failure of state support to make a difference to the lives and success of children. The findings, published in the US in the Journal of Health and Social Behaviour, come in the wake of David Cameron’s announcement of free parenting classes and relationship support sessions, and a £3.4million website which will give tips on every aspect of child rearing.
Boys were more likely to have difficulties than girls, health problems led to other difficulties for children, and children of divorced parents faced a greater likelihood of trouble.
Yes, it can seem a struggle… but parents are actually happier people, study says Fathers and older parents the happiest of all.
The findings are among a new wave of research that suggests that parenthood comes with relatively more positives, despite the added responsibilities. The study, which contradicts the prevailing view that parents are less happy overall, also dovetails with emerging evolutionary perspectives that suggest parenting is a fundamental human need.
Sonja Lyubomirsky, professor of psychology at UC Riverside and a leading scholar in positive psychology, said: 'We are not saying that parenting makes people happy, but that parenthood is associated with happiness and meaning.
'Contrary to repeated scholarly and media pronouncements, people may find solace that parenthood and child care may actually be linked to feelings of happiness and meaning in life.'
However, their findings came with important caveats. Professor Lyubomirsky explained: 'Our findings suggest that if you are older (and presumably more mature) and if you are married (and presumably have more social and financial support), then you're likely to be happier if you have children than your childless peers.
'This is not true, however, for single parents or very young parents.'
One ti for staying together is staying away from Facebook, the social network that lawyers say contributes to an increasing number of break-ups.
More than a third of divorce filings last year contained the word Facebook, according to a U.K. survey by Divorce Online, a legal services firm. And over 80% of U.S. divorce attorneys say they’ve seen a rise in the number of cases using social networking, according to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. “I see Facebook issues breaking up marriages all the time,” says Gary Traystman, a divorce attorney in New London, Conn. Of the 15 cases he handles per year where computer history, texts and emails are admitted as evidence, 60% exclusively involve Facebook.
“Affairs happen with a lightning speed on Facebook,” says K. Jason Krafsky, who authored the book “Facebook and Your Marriage” with his wife Kelli. In the real world, he says, office romances and out-of-town trysts can take months or even years to develop. “On Facebook,” he says, “they happen in just a few clicks.” The social network is different from most social networks or dating sites in that it both re-connects old flames and allows people to “friend” someone they may only met once in passing. “It puts temptation in the path of people who would never in a million years risk having an affair,” he says.
Only 15 years old, Jack Andraka developed a new method to detect pancreatic cancer using a simple dip-stick sensor.
His study resulted in over 90 percent accuracy and showed his patent-pending sensor to be 28 times faster, 28 times less expensive and over 100 times more sensitive than current tests.
The Washington Post adds that a patent is pending for the test. Andraka's test is a true diagnostic breakthrough since there are currently no non-invasive tests for detecting pancreatic cancer. Early detection of this cancer would be a boon to patients since the five-year survival rate for localized pancreatic cancer is 23 percent. While that doesn't sound great, it's a hell of a lot better than the 5 percent overall five-year survival rate for patients diagnosed with the disease.
My favorites from the 25 handy words that don't exist in English
Age-tori (Japanese): To look worse after a haircut
Gigil (pronounced Gheegle; Filipino): The urge to pinch of squeeze something that is unbearably cute
Meraki (pronounced may-ray-kee; Greek) Doing something with soul. creativity or love. It's when you put something of yourself into what you're doing.
The American Elm tree is also the state tree of Massachusetts
“Concerning trees and leaves… there's a real power here. It is amazing that trees can turn gravel and bitter salts into these soft-lipped lobes, as if I were to bite down on a granite slab and start to swell, bud and flower. Every year a given tree creates absolutely from scratch ninety-nine percent of its living parts. Water lifting up tree trunks can climb one hundred and fifty feet an hour; in full summer a tree can, and does, heave a ton of water every day. A big elm in a single season might make as many as six million leaves, wholly intricate, without budging an inch; I couldn't make one. A tree stands there, accumulating deadwood, mute and rigid as an obelisk, but secretly it seethes, it splits, sucks and stretches; it heaves up tons and hurls them out in a green, fringed fling. No person taps this free power; the dynamo in the tulip tree pumps out even more tulip tree, and it runs on rain and air.”
Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
Fall in New England
The world's addiction to plastic packaging and products threatens to choke many of the eco-systems that life relies on for survival. The usually synthetic material, which is most commonly made from petrochemicals, degrades very slowly because it's complex chemical bonds make it resistant to natural processes of decomposition. Since the 1950s, one billion tons of plastic are thought to have been discarded - and the waste may persist for hundreds or even thousands of years.
A group of students from Yale University, Connecticut, have found a fungus in the Amazon rainforest that can break down the common plastic polyurethane….As part of Yale's Rainforest Expedition and Laboratory educational program me, the researchers scoured the Ecuadorian rainforest for plants and cultured the micro-organisms within their tissue.
Writing in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology, they say: 'Endophytes were isolated from plant stems collected in the Ecuadorian rainforest. Endophytes are micro-organisms that live within the inner tissues of plants, but do not cause any noticeable disease symptoms in their hosts. They often play a key role in the decomposition of the plants after death, but never before have they been tested for their ability to degrade synthetic materials.
The authors of the study hold out hope that further exploration of properties of endophytes could reveal more miracle metabolisers that could potentially be used to degrade other kinds of plastics.
'Each of the more than 300,000 land plant species on Earth potentially hosts multiple endophyte species,' they write. 'Only a small sampling of plants have been examined for their endophytic associations, yet many of these organisms can be readily cultured.
GPS technology can help Alzheimer's sufferers and their carers, with the release of a shoe that tracks the wearer's position and plots their position on Google Maps. The GPS Smart Shoe embeds a GPS receiver and SIM card to send the shoe's position to a private tracking website - helping to find people if they wander off.
With 800,000 sufferers in the UK - which is predicted to expand to one million within the next decade, manufacture Aetrex said they wanted to use technology to enable extra support.
The shoes are available for both men and women, with either straps or shoelaces, and goes for around £300 a pair, with a monthly service plan of £30. The receiver is tucked discreetly into the heel of the shoe. The transmitter is embedded in the base of the right heel and tracks the user's location in real time, sending that data at specified intervals to a central monitoring station.
When the wearer wanders off wearing the GPS Shoe, their caregiver will immediately receive a geo-fence alert on their smartphone and computer, with a direct link to a Google map plotting the wanderer’s location. The company is also talking to various Alzheimer associations to explore various partnerships.
If there is a downside to the technology, it is that the battery life of the GPS receiver lasts only two days - so it could run flat if no-one remembers to charge it. However an email alert is sent to the carer when the battery is low.
This sounds like a godsend, once care-givers get in the habit of charging shoes every night.
Study co-author Professor Fernando Gomez-Pinilla said the rats fed just a sugary diet were slower and their brains had declined.
He said: 'Eating a high-fructose diet over the long term alters your brain’s ability to learn and remember information.
However, the good news is that eating nuts and fish such as salmon can counteract this disruption.
'Our findings illustrate that what you eat affects how you think,' said Prof Gomez-Pinilla. 'Adding omega-3 fatty acids to your meals can help minimize the damage.'
While earlier research has revealed how fructose harms the body through its role in diabetes, obesity and fatty liver, this study is the first to uncover how the sweetener influences the brain.
The researchers were studying the impact of high-fructose corn syrup on rats, who have similar brain chemistry to humans.
I wonder if the candy bars with nuts I usually choose cancel each other out.
The Good News About Race in America by Abigail Thernstrom
"Did you hear [U.S. Attorney General] Eric Holder the other day say how much he loves Al Sharpton?" she asks as we park ourselves at the breakfast table in the suburban Washington, D.C., home that she shares with her husband and sometime collaborator Stephan Thernstrom, a Harvard historian. "This is a very poisonous message. The black leadership is suggesting that George Zimmerman is a typical white. That they're all alike. Yes, he calls himself a white Hispanic, but they're suggesting that inside the breast of every white is a willingness to kill a Trayvon Martin. It's ridiculous, it's sad, and it's destructive."
Ms. Thernstrom currently serves as vice chairwoman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and as an adjunct scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. Throughout her lengthy career as a public intellectual, she has distinguished herself as someone willing to speak truth to a civil rights establishment that regularly puts its own needs before those of the black underclass that it claims to represent.
The objective of the 1965 Voting Rights Act was to ensure black access to the ballot, especially in the South, where violent white resistance was not uncommon. In 1961, the year President Obama was born, most Southern blacks were still disenfranchised. But that was then, and the goal of the law has long since been realized. In 1964, fewer than 7% of eligible blacks in Mississippi were registered to vote. Two years later, it was 60%, the highest in the South. Today, Southern states have higher black voter-registration rates than states outside the region.
"Sometimes good legislation works precisely as initially intended," writes Ms. Thernstrom in her 2009 book, "Voting Rights and Wrongs." The problem, she contends, is that amendments have turned "the law into a constitutionally problematic, unprecedented attempt to impose what voting rights activists, along with their allies in Congress, the Justice Department and the judiciary, view as a racially fair distribution of political power."
What suppresses minority turnout, she says, is not voter-ID laws but racial gerrymandering. "Turnout is very low in these safe black and Hispanic districts. And why shouldn't it be? There's no real competition."
After the passage in 1996 of California's Proposition 209, which banned the use of race and ethnicity in public university admissions in that state, "the system as a whole did not lose blacks, and minority graduation rates went up. Nobody wants to talk about that. All that counts as far as these schools are concerned is what the freshman class looks like. They don't care what the senior class looks like."
"America in Black and White," the masterful 1997 tome that Ms. Thernstrom co-wrote with her husband, is by and large a good-news story of racial progress in America. It bothers her deeply that so many black leaders have a vested interest in playing down the socioeconomic advancement that has occurred among blacks over the past half-century.
In the American Scholar, Toys and Joys by William Deresiewicz
In Nothing to Be Frightened Of, his book-length meditation on death, Julian Barnes, quoting Richard Dawkins, produces a similar list: “music, poetry, sex, love (and science).” Again the emphasis is on the pleasures, high and low. Look at lists of “100 Things to Do Before You Die,” and you’ll find them dominated by exotic sensations of one kind or another (“Skydive”; “Shower in a waterfall”; “Eat jellied eels from a stall in London”).
Really? This is the best we can do? This is what it’s all about? These are the things that make our lives worth living? When I think about what really makes me happy, what I really crave, I come up with a very different list: concentrated, purposeful work, especially creative work; being with people I love; feeling like I’m part of something larger. Meaning, connectedness, doing strenuously what you do well: not sights, not thrills, and not even pleasures, as welcome as they are. Not passivity, not letting the world come in and tickle you, but creativity, curiosity, altruism, engagement, craft. Raising children, or teaching students, or hanging out with friends. Playing music, not listening to it. Making things, or making them happen. Thinking hard and feeling deeply.
None of which involve spending money, except in an ancillary way. None of which, in other words, are consumer experiences.
Our idea of the self becomes a consumerist one, which means a passive and diminished one. I’m all for jellied eels, but the pleasures of the body are as nothing to the joys of the soul.
Raymond Ibrahim documents month by month the Muslim persecution of Christians.
Because the persecution of Christians in the Islamic world is on its way to reaching epidemic proportions, "Muslim Persecution of Christians" was developed to collate some—by no means all—of the instances of persecution that surface each month. It serves two purposes:
To document that which the mainstream media does not: the habitual, if not chronic, Muslim persecution of Christians.
To show that such persecution is not "random," but systematic and interrelated—that it is rooted in a worldview inspired by Sharia.
In his report for April, he writes
"500 Muslims had gathered and were watching in amusement as the extremists chased and harassed the Christians, attempting to murder them all, for about 90 minutes."
As Easter, one of the highest Christian holidays, comes in April, Christian persecution in Muslim nations—from sheer violence to oppressive laws—was rampant: In Nigeria, where jihadis have expressed their desire to expunge all traces of Christianity, a church was bombed during Easter Sunday, killing some 50 worshippers; in Turkey, a pastor was beaten by Muslims immediately following Easter service and threatened with death unless he converted to Islam; and in Iran, Easter Sunday saw 12 Christians stand trial as "apostates."
The persecution of Christians has come to regions not normally associated with it. As in Nigeria, Muslim militants are now also running amok in Timbuktu, Mali—beheading a Christian leader and threatening other Christians with similar treatment. Sharia law has been imposed, churches are being destroyed, and Christians are fleeing Timbuktu in mass.
The categories in which he groups his country-by country report are church attacks, death or prison for apostasy and blasphemy and dhimmitude. The reports are horrifying.
Ignored by dieters because they are 'fattening', few would class the potato as a 'wonder food' packed full of vitamins, minerals and nutrients.
But the spud is actually better for the body than traditional super foods - such as bananas, broccoli, beetroot, nuts and avocado, a study has found.
The researchers said people are wrong to shun it in favor of modern and more expensive alternatives.
A jacket potato has five-and-a-half times as much fibre as the average banana - and is packed with more vitamin C than is found in three avocados, the Daily Express reported.
Last year a separate study discovered that eating spuds twice a day can lower blood pressure - and contrary to popular perceptions it won't make you put on weight.
The new research also found that the potato contains more of the mineral selenium than the average child gets from all the seeds and nuts they consume.
The study was completed by the independent nutritionist Sigrid Gibson on behalf of the Potato Council.
The researchers analyzed the food intake of 876 children and 948 adults for the study.
Sigrid Gibson added: ' We think of bananas as being a good source of potassium, and they are, but potatoes make a more significant contribution to the diet.'
A brilliant ad. The real war on women when independent thoughts are considered subversive.
I've been away all day so I'm only now catching up on the news.
And this is very good news. GAO: Recoverable Oil in Colorado, Utah, Wyoming 'About Equal to Entire World's Proven Oil Reserves
The Green River Formation, a largely vacant area of mostly federal land that covers the territory where Colorado, Utah and Wyoming come together, contains about as much recoverable oil as all the rest the world’s proven reserves combined, an auditor from the Government Accountability Office told Congress on Thursday.
“USGS estimates that the Green River Formation contains about 3 trillion barrels of oil, and about half of this may be recoverable, depending on available technology and economic conditions,” Mittal testified.
“The Rand Corporation, a nonprofit research organization, estimates that 30 to 60 percent of the oil shale in the Green River Formation can be recovered,” Mittal told the subcommittee. “At the midpoint of this estimate, almost half of the 3 trillion barrels of oil would be recoverable. This is an amount about equal to the entire world's proven oil reserves.”
Think of the implications of creating tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of new jobs, of becoming truly energy self reliant, free from troublesome tyrants in the Mideast.
What an amazing world.
photo of earth from Russian weather satellite
The bad news is that about 75% of it is controlled by the Federal Government's Bureau of Land Management.
It's news, but not surprising news, that Public Employees Second Only to Financial Pros in Fraud according to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), the world's arrest anti-fraud organization.
A congressional staffer who has worked to combat fraud at the federal level agreed that the amount of money being spent has stretched the government thin and left limited accountability. A culture has developed that excuses lavish spending programs, he said, pointing to the GSA’s $800,000 Las Vegas retreat, which has resulted in several firings and resignations.
“The federal government is sending all of this money out and there’s no follow up, no accountability,” the staffer said. “It’s part of the culture.”
It doesn't help that states are gaming the system too.
This is astonishing, Kodak Had a Secret Nuclear Reactor Loaded with Enriched Uranium Hidden in a Basement in Rochester, N.Y.
Kodak's purpose for the reactor wasn't sinister: they used it to check materials for impurities as well as neutron radiography testing. The reactor, a Californium Neutron Flux multiplier (CFX) was acquired in 1974 and loaded with three and a half pounds of enriched uranium plates placed around a californium-252 core.
The reactor was installed in a closely guarded, two-foot-thick concrete walled underground bunker in the company's headquarters, where it was fed tests using a pneumatic system. …It wasn't until 2006, well after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, that it was decided to dismantle it.
This story brought to mind stories of neighborhood nuclear plants from 2008. Mini nuclear plants to power 20,000 homes
Nuclear power plants smaller than a garden shed and able to power 20,000 homes will be on sale within five years, say scientists at Los Alamos, the US government laboratory which developed the first atomic bomb.
The miniature reactors will be factory-sealed, contain no weapons-grade material, have no moving parts and will be nearly impossible to steal because they will be encased in concrete and buried underground.
The US government has licensed the technology to Hyperion, a New Mexico-based company which said last week that it has taken its first firm orders and plans to start mass production within five years. 'Our goal is to generate electricity for 10 cents a kilowatt hour anywhere in the world,' said John Deal, chief executive of Hyperion. '
So what is Hyperion doing today?
And it changed its name. SMR Developer Hyperion Power Now Gen4 Energy
The Gen4 Module (formerly the Hyperion Power Module) is a small next generation nuclear power reactor that will not require refueling during its 10-year operational lifetime, as well as no on-site access to nuclear fuel, which reduces safety and proliferation concerns. According to the release, G4M technology has the potential to provide power to undeveloped regions, demonstrate unmatched nuclear safety, as well as provide a cleaner energy source by emitting no greenhouse gasses. The G4M will produce 25 MW of safe and reliable electric power that is manufactured in a factory and transported to the installation site completely sealed. After its useful life it is replaced with an entirely new power module.
Virginia Postrel says Recycling Eyeglasses Is a Feel-Good Waste of Money
In a paper published in March in the journal Optometry and Vision Science, four researchers compare the full costs of delivering used glasses to the costs of instead delivering ready-made glasses in standard powers (like my drugstore readers, but for myopia as well). The authors find that recycled glasses cost nearly twice as much per usable pair.
Recycling old glasses makes people feel generous and thrifty. They believe they’re helping people and saving money. They think the glasses they donate are “free,” because they don’t consider all the hidden costs of sorting and shipping them. And they don’t realize just how cheap manufacturing new glasses has become. If they really wanted to help people see, they’d send money. Unlike leftovers, it’s guaranteed to fit.
In Spiegel Online, Green-Extremes: Germany's Failing Environmental Projects.
The energy-saving light bulb ends up as hazardous waste, too much insulation promotes mold and household drains are emitting a putrid odor because everyone is saving water. Many of Germany's efforts to protect the environment are a chronic failure, but that's unlikely to change.
Gone are the days when it was enough for a shower head to simply distribute water. Today an aerosol is generated through a complicated process in the interior of the shower head. The moisture content in the resulting air-water mixture is so low and the air content so high that taking a shower feels more like getting blow-dried.
The government is even teaching our smallest citizens how important it is to treat precious water responsibly. The Environment Ministry's children's website admonishes them to "Think about how you can save water! Taking a shower is better for the environment than taking a bath. Turn off the water when you're soaping yourself. Never let the water run when you're not using it. And maybe you can spend less time in the shower, too."
This is all very well and good, but there's only one problem: It stinks. Our street is filled with the stench of decay. It's especially bad in the summer, when half of Berlin is under a cloud of gas.
WATER. ...Our consumption has declined so much that there is not enough water going through the pipes to wash away fecal matter, urine and food waste, causing blockages. The inert brown sludge sloshes back and forth in the pipes, which are now much too big, releasing its full aroma.
The water authorities are trying to offset the stench with odor filters and perfumed gels that come in lavender, citrus and spruce scents. But toxic heavy metals like copper, nickel and lead are also accumulating in the sewage system. Sulfuric acid is corroding the pipes, causing steel to rust and concrete to crumble. It's a problem that no amount of deodorant can solve.
The waterworks must now periodically flush their pipes and conduits. The water we save with our low-flow toilets is simply being pumped directly through hoses into the sewage system below. On some days, an additional half a million cubic meters of tap water is run through the Berlin drainage system to ensure what officials call the "necessary flow rate."
Germany has a lot of water. It has many rivers and lakes. The amount of rain that falls from the skies over Germany is five times as much as the entire water requirements of the entire population and industry. Less than 3 percent of the country's water reserves would be enough to supply all households.
LIGHT…Mercury is a dangerous substance. It evaporates at room temperature. Even small amounts can damage the liver, lungs and brain. Paracelsus, the famous physician, inadvertently killed himself with mercury. Since then, doctors have advised against inhaling it.
This makes the renaissance of the toxic heavy metal in our homes all the more astonishing. Like all good Europeans, we are in the process of replacing our old light bulbs with modern energy-saving light bulbs. This is what the European Commission has decreed. The fact that each of these new light bulbs contains up to five milligrams of mercury is seen as a necessary evil, because they consume less electricity than conventional light bulbs.
Scientists with the German Federal Environment Agency have done tests to determine how dangerous energy-saving light bulbs are. They broke bulbs from the product line of a European brand-name manufacturer. Then they measured the concentration of toxic materials in the air of the room, once after five minutes and a second time after five hours.
All readings were well above permissible levels. In some cases, the mercury level was 20 times as high as the benchmark value. Even after five hours, there was still so much mercury in the air that it would have endangered the health of pregnant women, young children and sensitive individuals.
Because of the mercury, throwing broken energy-saving light bulbs into the ordinary trash is of course prohibited. A waste disposal company from Nuremberg in southern Germany has invented a machine that carefully cuts apart each light bulb and sucks out the fluorescent material and mercury. The mixture is then packed into airtight bags and filled into blue, 300-kilogram barrels. The barrels are loaded onto a truck and taken to a former salt mine in the Harz Mountains of central Germany. Thus, the energy-saving light bulb ends up in an underground waste depot, where it will remain forever as contaminated waste.
We all know that it took WWII to bring America out of the Great Depression, but I didn't know about the man who did it, FDR's arch nemesis General Motors President William Knudsen.
FDR—architect of the New Deal and outspoken opponent of Big Business—was forced by the collapse of Europe's democracies under Hitler's blitzkrieg to turn to the corporate sector to prepare America for war.
Yet Knudsen's answer to the appeal from FDR was immediate. He quit GM and moved to Washington to mobilize his friends in the private sector to get America ready for war. He joined with U.S. Steel's Edward Stettinius, Sears, Roebuck's Don Nelson and other corporate executives and engineers who left their jobs to accept a federal salary of $1 a year. Together, they made Roosevelt a promise.
If the president gave them 18 months, they would persuade enough of American industry to convert their plants to making planes, tanks, ships and munitions without throwing the rest of the economy into a tail spin. The result, they pledged, would be the most massive outpouring of weaponry the world had ever seen.
Roosevelt was under intense pressure from his own administration—and from his wife Eleanor—not to agree. They believed it was impossible to convert to a wartime footing without a comprehensive, centrally directed plan for total mobilization and a single commanding figure in charge—in short, a war-production czar.
This proposal was in effect Roosevelt's first introduction to supply-side economics. To arm the nation for war, Roosevelt not only had to agree to set aside his own ideological misgivings but almost a decade of his own failed economic policies. "Dr. New Deal," Roosevelt told the press, was going to have to make way for "Dr. Win the War."
The results, as Knudsen had promised, were staggering. Barely a year later—by the time Japanese bombs fell on Pearl Harbor in December of 1941—the scale of American war production was fast approaching that of Nazi Germany.
Many feared that with the end of government wartime spending—almost $300 billion worth, or $3 trillion in today's dollars—unemployment would boomerang, wages (which wartime work had driven up by an average of 70%) would fall and hopes for prosperity would be extinguished. Instead, private investment came roaring back, triggering steady economic growth that pushed the U.S. into a new era, as the most prosperous society in history.
"You are the great American," Undersecretary of War Robert Patterson told Knudsen at the war's end.
Arthur Brooks quit his government paid job as a French horn player in the Barcelona Symphony and pulled up stakes to emigrate to America. He didn't have a college degree and his wife's English was 'limited'. Today he is President of the American Enterprise Institute and this article published in the Wall St Journal.
America and the Value of 'Earned Success'
To friends in Barcelona, this move was ridiculous. Quitting a job in Spain often meant permanent unemployment. As we departed, my in-laws tearfully gave us a gold bracelet which, they said, we could pawn in the coming hard times.
In the end, I concluded, what set the United States apart from Spain was the difference between earned success and learned helplessness.
Earned success means defining your future as you see fit and achieving that success on the basis of merit and hard work. It allows you to measure your life's "profit" however you want, be it in money, making beautiful music, or helping people learn English. Earned success is at the root of American exceptionalism.
The opposite of earned success is "learned helplessness," ...refers to what happens if rewards and punishments are not tied to merit: People simply give up and stop trying to succeed.
Learned helplessness was what my wife and I observed then, and still do today, in social-democratic Spain. The recession, rigid labor markets, and excessive welfare spending have pushed unemployment to 24.4%, with youth joblessness over 50%. Nearly half of adults under 35 live with their parents. Unable to earn their success, Spaniards fight to keep unearned government benefits.
Meanwhile, their collective happiness—already relatively low—has withered. According to the nonprofit World Values Survey, 20% of Spaniards said they were "very happy" about their lives in 1981. This fell to 14% by 2007, even before the economic downturn.
Seems to me that commencement addresses this year aren't as lyrical as in years past, but more hard-hitting and with better advice.
Many of you have been reared on the cliché that the purpose of education isn't to stuff your head with facts but to teach you how to think. Wrong. I routinely interview college students, mostly from top schools, and I notice that their brains are like old maps, with lots of blank spaces for the uncharted terrain. It's not that they lack for motivation or IQ. It's that they can't connect the dots when they don't know where the dots are in the first place.
Fact One is that, in our "knowledge-based" economy, knowledge counts. Yet here you are, probably the least knowledgeable graduating class in history.
Fact Two: Your competition is global. Shape up
Fact Three: Your prospective employers can smell BS from miles away. And most of you don't even know how badly you stink.
if you can just manage to tone down your egos, shape up your minds, and think unfashionable thoughts, you just might be able to do something worthy with your lives. And even get a job. Good luck!
Remember that 80% of seniors from fifty-five of the country's most prestigious colleges received a D or F when asked basic questions about American history like identifying the Gettysburg address or recognizing fundamental constitutional principles
If you're depressed, don't delay getting treatment;
A Kaiser Permanente analysis shows Subjects Who Were Depressed in Middle Age Had an Elevated Risk of Dementia
The findings, published in the May issue of Archives of General Psychiatry, add to the evidence that late-in-life depression is a likely early sign of Alzheimer's disease and suggest that chronic depression appears to increase the risk of developing vascular dementia. Adequate treatment for depression in midlife could cut the risk of developing dementia.
To look at links between depression and dementia, Dr. Whitmer and other researchers looked at 13,535 long-term Kaiser Permanente members who had enrolled in a larger study in the period from 1964 to 1973 at ages ranging from 40 to 55 years old. Health information, including a survey that asked about depression, was collected at the time.
Eat plenty of strawberries and blueberries.
Strawberries and blueberries could delay cognitive decline among the elderly (over 65) by up to two and half years. Researchers from the Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School says its all in the flavonoids which are extremely powerful anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory substances.
And find new purpose in life.
Purpose in Life May Protect Against Harmful Changes in the Brain Associated with Alzheimer’s Disease. Researchers at the Rush University Medical Center explain
“Our study showed that people who reported greater purpose in life exhibited better cognition than those with less purpose in life even as plaques and tangles accumulated in their brains,” said Patricia A. Boyle, PhD.
“These findings suggest that purpose in life protects against the harmful effects of plaques and tangles on memory and other thinking abilities. This is encouraging and suggests that engaging in meaningful and purposeful activities promotes cognitive health in old age.”
Why haven't any of the people responsible for the financial crash been charged and brought to trial?
In an explosive Newsweek article set to rock official Washington, reporter Peter Boyer and Breitbart contributing editor and Government Accountability Institute President Peter Schweizer reveal how Attorney General Eric Holder and the Department of Justice are operating under a “justice for sale” strategy by forgoing criminal prosecution of Wall Street executives at big financial institutions who just so happen to be clients of the white-shoe law firms where Holder and his top DOJ lieutenants worked.
Not surprisingly, of the elite bundlers who made up Obama’s 2008 campaign, the second most represented industry after law was the securities and investment industry.
As Boyer and Schweizer report, Department of Justice criminal prosecutions are at 20-year lows for corporate securities and bank fraud. And while large financial institutions have faced civil prosecution, those typically end in settlement fees with the major banks that represent a fraction of their profits, often paid through special taxes on mortgage-backed securities.
Breitbart reports Top DOJ officials were Obama bundlers with Wall St Ties
Four of the top officials at the Department of Justice were all big money fundraisers for President Obama’s 2008 campaign with strong ties to Wall Street—the very entity the Obama Administration has said must be criminally prosecuted for bringing about the biggest financial crisis in U.S. history.
The nexus between big money campaign fundraising and senior appointments at the Department of Justice raises numerous questions and appearances of conflict of interest that go far beyond mere recusal from certain cases. Furthermore, many of the financial institutions the Department of Justice claims to be criminally investigating for financial fraud are former clients of the law firms from which DOJ’s top brass hail.
Where's the justice? Where's the deterrent to future reckless Wall Street criminal shenanigans?
In 2010 an eminent Chicago IVF doctor left his practice of creating babies in Petri dishes. This is his story, Change of Heart
Dr Anthony J. Caruso is a Chicago doctor who worked in the field of in vitro fertilization for 15 years before he quit in 2010. We interviewed him by email about the reasons for his change of heart.
In 2008 I was increasingly concerned about the kind of procedures we were doing. Initially it was the demands of same-sex couples. Then it was the way in which everybody looked at the embryos that had undergone pre-implantation genetic diagnosis. Finally, it was the realization that the embryos that we were producing were just as important as the embryos that were transferred.
People who are going through IVF largely refuse to seek emotional or psychological support. And people who have not gone through the process do not understand what it entails. Perhaps the most interesting response that I have gotten to the presentations I am giving is from those who did not know exactly what happened during this process. Once they learn, the spectrum goes from rationalization to horror.
Every child is a gift from God. However, the process that brought them into existence has led to an attitude towards the embryo that is no different than any other commodity.
If you add pre-implantation diagnosis into the equation, then you really have a situation that is no different than an auto dealership or a department store. “I will take two of these and then freeze these and toss these.” The very people who are showing off their beautiful children will not answer questions about how many frozen embryos are still present or how many they asked to be destroyed.
IVF does not cure infertility. It bypasses the barriers to natural fertility. As such, it is really a business. Just think about the number of clinics that offer cash-back programs. They guarantee that if the couple does not conceive within a certain number of cycles, they will get some or all of their money back. Where is the “medicine” in that?
For under an astonishing — and many will think nightmarishly futuristic — program devised to make the most efficient use of resources, or ‘optimize’ their baby producing system, as they put it, Wyzax and their partner agencies now source and assemble the ‘components’ of some babies in a variety of different countries before flying the resulting embryo to India to be implanted in the surrogate.
Once created, the embryos are frozen to minus 196c, placed in liquid nitrogen canisters resembling small milk-churns, then flown 8,000 miles from the U.S. to cities such as Delhi and Bombay, where they are implanted.
the women who incubate and hatch these identikit children would be better compared to brood mares. They are so desperate to feed, clothe and educate their own families that they are prepared to risk being shunned by their husbands and communities for a fee of up to £4,000; an amount they wouldn’t earn in ten years working in their traditional jobs as domestic servants. All they need do to reap this vast sum — or so these often illiterate souls are told when they make agreements often put together by shady fixers — is to lie around watching TV all day, eating nutritious food they would never ordinarily be able to afford, and be dosed with vitamins and hormones.
the sale of cheap, designer babies, made from Ukrainian eggs and British sperm, concocted in an American lab, and spawned in a factory in the backstreets of India, should send chills down the spine.
Thousands of pills filled with powdered human flesh have been discovered by customs officials in South Korea, it was revealed today. The capsules are in demand because they are viewed as being a medicinal 'cure-all'.
The grim trade is being run from China where corrupt medical staff are said to be tipping off medical companies when babies are aborted or delivered still-born.
The tiny corpses are then bought, stored in household refrigerators in homes of those involved in the trade before they are removed and taken to clinics where they are placed in medical drying microwaves. Once the skin is tinder dry, it is pummeled into powder and then processed into capsules along with herbs to disguise the true ingredients from health investigators and customs officers.
Never before heard of human tragedies are emerging and not just with children who grow up a hole in their lives because their daddy was a donor. Donor daddies can ruin their own marriages. Sperm donor 'left me for babies
The heartbroken wife of a politician who secretly acted as a sperm donor behind her back says he has left her to be with babies conceived with other women. Speaking from her home in the United States, Kathy Johnson says her husband Bill has returned to live in New Zealand where he donated sperm to at least 10 women without her knowledge.
"He wants me to move over there. He's not coming back. I will not chase him to the other side of the world so he can be a part-time father to children he created with other women."
Mrs Johnson said she had fought for five months to save her marriage but could not break her husband's fixation on the babies he had biologically fathered.
"He's back there now. He says he has a commitment to them. He says he created these children and he has a responsibility to them," she says. "I said 'what about your commitment to your wife'. He walked out."
Mrs Johnson is a two-time Mrs America finalist with three children from a former marriage while Mr. Johnson was a candidate for the gubernatorial nomination three years ago in Alabama.
In Aldous Huxley's Brave New World was considered science fiction when it came out. Who would ever believe that natural procreation would be done away with babies created, decanted and raised in hatcheries and conditioning centers?
'This is a nose we’re growing for a patient next month,’ Professor Alexander Seifalian says matter-of-factly, plucking a Petri dish from the bench beside him. Inside is an utterly lifelike appendage, swimming in red goo. Alongside it is another dish containing an ear.
‘It’s a world first,’ he says smiling.
Seifalian leads University College London’s (UCL) Department of Nanotechnology and Regenerative Medicine, which he jokingly calls the ‘human body parts store’. Seifalian and his team are focusing on growing replacement organs and body parts to order using a patient's own cells
As he takes me on a tour of his lab I’m bombarded with one medical breakthrough after another. At one desk he picks up a glass mould that shaped the trachea – windpipe – used in the world’s first synthetic organ transplant. At another are the ingredients for the revolutionary nano material at the heart of his creations, and just beyond that is a large machine with a pale, gossamer-thin cable inside that’s pulsing with what looks like a heartbeat. It’s an artery.
‘We are the first in the world working on this,’ Seifalian says casually.
‘Other groups have tried to tackle nose replacement with implants but we’ve found they don’t last,’ says Adelola Oseni, one of Seifalian’s team. ‘They migrate, the shape of the nose changes. But our one will hold itself completely, as it’s an entire nose shape made out of polymer.’
Looking like very thin Latex rubber, the polymer is made up of billions of molecules, each measuring just over one nanometre (a billionth of a metro), or 40,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair. Working at molecular level allows the material itself to be intricately detailed.
‘Inside this nano material are thousands of small holes,’ says Seifalian. ‘Tissue grows into these and becomes part of it. It becomes the same as a nose and will even feel like one.’
When the nose is transferred to the patient, it doesn’t go directly onto the face but will be placed inside a balloon inserted beneath the skin on their arm. After four weeks, during which time skin and blood vessels can grow, the nose can be monitored, then it can be transplanted to the face.
At the Mayo Clinic, similar exciting work is going on as they as also Growing Your Own Organs, in this case, heart tissue.
The Washington Post on The shrinking labor participation rate
If the same percentage of adults were in the workforce today as when Barack Obama took office, the unemployment rate would be 11.1 percent. If the percentage was where it was when George W. Bush took office, the unemployment rate would be 13.1 percent.
chart from Calculatedriskblog.com
David Goldman on the Disappearing Labor Force with lots of charts.
The big news in Friday’s employment report was not the miserable 115,000 jobs the economy added in April, but the disappearance of 340,000 workers from the labor force. We haven’t seen unemployment on this scale since the Great Depression. Indeed, since Obama took office, the labor force participation rate has fallen from 66% to 63% as almost 5 million American adults stopped looking for work. About a fifth of working-age Americans aren’t working — and a fifth of all personal income is transfer payments.
Not since the 1970s has the overall labor force participation rate been this low. As women began entering the labor force in large numbers, the overall participation rose. Truly alarming, though, is the labor force participation rate for men:
has just fallen below the 70% mark for the first time in history. Again, the number means that 3 out of 10 working-age American men who are not in prison or the armed forces are not counted in the labor force. They are not looking for work to begin with.
For Americans with only a high school diploma, the results are even more dismal: fewer than 3 out of 5 Americans with only a high school education are counted in the labor force…For Americans without a high school diploma, the labor force participation rate is only 45%. Fewer than half are counted in the labor force, that is. The official unemployment rate for the least-educated cohort is 12.5%. That means that fewer than 2 out of 5 adult Americans without a H.S. diploma not in the military or prison actually have a job.
Via American Digest comes this astonishing fact from Curmudgeonly & Skeptical, There were over 600,000 hunters this season in Wisconsin. Allow me to restate that number in another way
Over the last several months, Wisconsin's hunters became the eighth largest army in the world. More men under arms than in Iran. More than France and Germany combined. These men deployed to the woods of a "single" American state, Wisconsin, to hunt with firearms, and no one was killed.
That number pales in comparison to the 750,000 who hunted the woods of "Pennsylvania" and Michigan's 700,000 hunters, all of whom have now returned home safely. Toss in a quarter million hunters in West Virginia and it literally establishes the that the hunters of those four states alone would comprise the largest army in the world. And then add in the total number of hunters in the other 46 states. It's millions more.
The point? America will forever be safe from foreign invasion with that kind of home-grown firepower. Hunting… it's not just a way to fill the freezer. It's a matter of national security. That's why all enemies, foreign and domestic, want to see us disarmed.
As more evidence piles up, Vitamin D is truly a miracle vitamin
Vitamin D supplements 'could cut blood pressure as effectively as some drugs'
Taking vitamin D supplements could cut blood pressure by as much as some drugs, claim researchers.
A new study shows supplements lowered blood pressure in patients diagnosed with hypertension - high blood pressure - compared with those taking ‘dummy’ pills.
Vitamin D deficiency has been linked with high blood pressure, but until now there has been little scientific evidence that topping up levels of the vitamin in the blood makes a difference.
High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke.
Study leader Dr Thomas Larsen said ‘Probably the majority of Europeans have vitamin D deficiency, and many of these will also have high blood pressure.
‘What our results suggest is that hypertensive patients can benefit from vitamin D supplementation if they have vitamin D insufficiency.
Check: A high blood pressure reading is one that exceeds 140/90 millimeters of mercury
‘Vitamin D would not be a cure for hypertension in these patients, but it may help, especially in the winter months.
Former chief of the National Archives' audio-visual holdings, Leslie Waffen pleaded guilty last Fall to theft of U.S. government property, admitting that he stole 955 items from the Archives although prosecutors alleged he stole 2117 other recordings discovered in his house and sold more than 1000 of them.
The Washington Post tells a wonderful story, In National Archives thefts, a radio detective gets his man.
J. David Goldin, an eccentric 69-year-old with a handlebar mustache and an obsession with radio, was trolling eBay one evening in September 2010, looking for old radios and recordings, when he spotted an item that piqued his interest: the master copy of a broadcast radio interview with baseball legend Babe Ruth as he hunted for quail and pheasants on a crisp morning in 1937.
For a moment, Goldin contemplated bidding. It was the kind of historic recording that would fit perfectly in his collection of more than 100,000 radio broadcasts, all meticulously enhanced and preserved on tapes stored in thin white boxes on a maze of shelves in his humidity- and temperature-controlled basement “vault.” Then he leaned closer to his computer, adjusted his thick glasses and studied the record’s photograph and description.
What happened next would set in motion a federal investigation with a twist worthy of a classic radio drama.
At first, Goldin thought the Archives had decided to unload his recordings and that they had found their way to a dealer. He dashed off an irritated letter demanding that the government return anything it planned to sell; it was that missive that launched the criminal probe by the inspector general.
From the seller’s eBay profile, Goldin thought the dealer was a woman (the screen name was “hi-fi_gal”). Hoping to be helpful, Goldin purchased a recording from “hi-fi_gal,” though not one of his donations. When it arrived in the mail, Goldin ran the return address — Saddle Ridge Lane in Rockville — through a reverse directory. It came back to Leslie Waffen, who had retired the previous June as chief of the Archives’ audiovisual holdings.
Goldin was hurt. “To have the chief of the hen house stealing chickens, it is just disappointing,” Goldin said.
Over the next 18 months, Goldin helped authorities build their case, reviewing documents, submitting his original receipts from Waffen and offering up experts to help sort and appraise the cache of 6,153 recordings seized from the retired archivist’s home.
Known to weather experts as a '22 degrees halo' - because of its circular formation of 22° around the sun - the phenomenon is also known as a solar halo, icebox, sun dog and - for those who aren't into the whole brevity thing - circumzenithal arc.
The optical phenomenon is an an ice-halo formed by plate-shaped ice crystals in atmospheric clouds known as cirrus.
Walter Russell Mead, a Democrat, writes Rogue Democrats Loot Detroit As Nation Sleeps
Detroit doesn’t matter all that much to the New York Times and many of its readers for the same reasons that Albany, Queens, Buffalo and Schenectady don’t matter. The new American elite wants to live and think as if it has transcended all that dreary provincial mess and lives on high in a world of Big Ideas and Global Issues. Mrs. Jellyby is much more interested in visionary programs to uplift the inhabitants of Borrio-Boola-Gha than on making sure her own children are well dressed and well cared for.
There is something profoundly wrong with an American political culture that accepts chronic misgovernment in major cities as OK. It is not OK; the people who do these things may call themselves liberal Democrats and wear the mantle of defenders of the poor, but over and over their actions place them among the most cold blooded enemies and oppressors of the weak.
American cities have been festering pits of graft and bad governance since at least the early 19th century, but there is a difference between the “honest graft” of Tammany Hall and the nihilistic destruction practiced by some of today’s urban machines. Today’s situation, in which some city machines are so dysfunctional that the parasite is literally killing the host (and not just in Detroit), is new and, again, the most vulnerable in our society suffer the worst consequences. Minority children are the greatest ultimate victims of this loathsome corruption: they attend horrible schools and grow up in decaying, unsafe urban landscapes where there is no growth, no jobs and no opportunity for the young.
Ballroom of Les Plaza Hotel by Yves Marchand and Romaine Meffre
Featured a few weeks ago in the MailOnline was Dying Detroit Haunting photos of crumbling neighborhoods highlight the terrible decline of America's once-great Motor City
The population of devastated Detroit has dropped by 25 per cent in the past ten years and is now at its lowest since 1910.
Empty factories, burnt-out homes, silent banks and even derelict police stations litter the place once known as the 'Motor City' - where Henry Ford built his first car.
Almost a third of the city's 140 square miles is vacant or derelict.
Portraits by French photographers Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre show the breathtaking decline of once-proud buildings - allowed to rot and crumble from a former glory.
It looks more like a Hollywood film's futuristic vision of a post-apocalyptic world, than a 21st century American city.
The decay does not discriminate, public entertainment venues such as cinemas lie in ruins alongside banks and medical centers.
A new study has found that 46 percent of all people have lied to their partner about money and one-third of all people believe that financial infidelity leads to sexual infidelity.
The Today show's website, Today.com, and SELF magazine jointly surveyed their thousands of website visitors on all questions of dishonesty for their 'Financial Infidelity' report.
The analysis of their collective 23,000 responses was released this Tuesday, revealing how what couple's have in the bank can affect what happens in the bedroom.
'Our survey makes it clear that money can be a huge stumbling block for relationships if couples don't take the time to talk about it frankly,' said Martin Wolk, TODAY.com's executive business editor.
The survey was conducted from January 23-27 and a total of 23,230 readers between the ages of 18 and 80 participated.
Respondents confessed to a wide range of money secrets, including lying about purchases, hiding them in the back of the closet and secretly withdrawing money from joint accounts.
But that's going to get harder to do as the Wall St Journal reports in Hiding Money from Your Spouse
Electronic discovery is making it a lot easier to uncover all that covert activity.
Suspicious spouses might dig around in their partners' Web-surfing history and social networks to find traces of hidden bank accounts and business deals. They might install software on home computers that records every keystroke their spouses make—whether it's secret stock trades or cash transfers to paramours—and use smartphone and GPS tools to show when they've been making sneaky withdrawals from ATMs.
Meanwhile, divorce lawyers and forensic experts are employing new strategies of their own. Instead of having to sift through reams of paper records to find irregularities, they're now able to use advanced search tools to analyze thousands of digital bank statements, credit-card bills and other files in the blink of an eye.
"While in the past a paper trail might be hidden by a second set of books or the shredding of documents, the trail left by files on a computer is etched onto a hard drive somewhere, just waiting to be discovered," says Ken Altshuler, president of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.
I think is probably hardest for those in their 20s and 30s. Settling on the right mate and right career is not easy. Nor is losing friends which is what happens when people break up.
A typical adult loses eight friends when a long-term relationship ends, a study found today.
Researchers found the taking of sides and the rights and wrongs of the circumstances of the split are the biggest reasons for broken friendships.
Around one in ten people said their fed-up friends had stopped speaking to both them and their former partner after the break-up.
More than 27 per cent of people even admitted to staying in a relationship longer than they really wanted to because of their fears about the impact it would have on their friendships.
The eight friends who will be lost are likely to be three friends of the ex-partner and three mutual friends made during the relationship.
The other two were known before the relationship even started, but either ended up siding with the other half - or got fed up hearing about the conflict.
Of the 2,000 people polled - who have recently split from a partner - 31 per cent now regret their actions during the break-up because of the effect it had on their friendships.
Could all these false starts and break-ups have something to do with The 'Love Myth' in Pop Culture?
[There is] a deeply embedded belief in our pop culture that the experience of being in love must meet a very specific set of criteria. This is the "love myth."
As I see it, the modern myth of true love involves these beliefs: True love is passionate love that never fades; if you are in true love, you should marry that person; if love ends, you should leave that person because it was not true love; and if you can find the right person, you will have true love forever. You might not believe this myth yourself, particularly if you are older than thirty; but many young people in Western nations are raised on it, and it acts as an ideal that they unconsciously carry with them even if they scoff at it. (It’s not just Hollywood that perpetrates the myth; Bollywood, the Indian film industry, is even more romanticized.)
Companionate love is less exciting, but more lasting: “the affection we feel for those with whom our lives are deeply intertwined.”
The problem with passionate love is that it eventually fades. And that creates major problems for the person who decides to marry someone based on the expectation that passionate love will last forever--the most major of the problems being, of course, divorce.
So does true love exist? Haidt thinks that it does:
True love exists, I believe, but it is not—cannot be—passion that lasts forever. True love, the love that undergirds strong marriages, is simply strong companionate love, with some added passion, between two people who are firmly committed to each other.
Commencement season begins with Charles Whelan writing in the Wall St Journal about the 10 Things Your Commencement Speaker Won't Tell You
6. Read obituaries. They are just like biographies, only shorter. They remind us that interesting, successful people rarely lead orderly, linear lives.
7. Your parents don't want what is best for you. They want what is good for you, which isn't always the same thing. There is a natural instinct to protect our children from risk and discomfort, and therefore to urge safe choices. Theodore Roosevelt—soldier, explorer, president—once remarked, "It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed." Great quote, but I am willing to bet that Teddy's mother wanted him to be a doctor or a lawyer.
10. Don't try to be great. Being great involves luck and other circumstances beyond your control. The less you think about being great, the more likely it is to happen. And if it doesn't, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being solid.
Boy is the mood of the country in a bad way.
Worldwide, 10 per cent believe the Mayan calendar on December 21 signifies the apocalypse will happen in 2012, according to a new poll.
Ipsos Global Public Affairs carried out the poll on behalf of news agency Reuters.
Keren Gottfried, research manager at Ipsos said: 'Whether they think it will come to an end through the hands of God, or a natural disaster or a political event, whatever the reason, one in seven thinks the end of the world is coming.
The French, typically, are most relaxed about it all, with only six per cent believing in Armageddon in their lifetime in contrast to 22 per cent in the US and Turkey.
In the UK, eight percent feared apocalypse during their lives.
Globally, around 10 people fear there will be no 2013, with the highest percentage in Russia and Poland and the fewest in Great Britain.
People with lower education or income, as well as those under 35, were more likely to believe in an apocalypse during their lifetime or in 2012.
The phrase 'old before their time' is often applied to children who have seen terrible things - but it seems to be literally true.
Children who have been abused actually age faster - with the stress affecting DNA in a way that could shorten their lives.
Children who have been exposed to violence and abuse have physical changes in a DNA sequence that dictates how often cells can rejuvenate.
The abuse actually shortens their lives.
A study found that the DNA of ten year olds who had experience abuse showed signs of wear and tear normally associated with aging.
Scientists at the Duke Institute believe that stress may shorten their telomeres - DNA sequences found at the tips of chromosomes which have been linked to aging.
Arctic explorer Bxrge Ousland is feeling on top of the world after he and wife Hege became the first couple to get married at to the northern most point on in the world.
They flew to the remote frozen frontier with a party of 15 - including the best man, bridesmaid and a helicopter crew.
Bxrge, 49 from Oslo, Norway, said: 'The North pole is a big part of my life so I felt it needed to play some part in my wedding too.
'Thankfully, we found a priest called Dag Henrik Berggrav who was willing to marry us.'
The explorer, who has completed dozens of trips to the chilly frontier, added: 'There were 15 people present in total.
'But that included the helicopter crew who ferried us up to the north pole.
Just as it finished something truly bizarre happened - a solo skier just happened to be passing.
'The skier Mark came along and shared a glass of champagne with us and passed on his congratulations.
'It was very surreal - we were in one of the remotest places in the world and there was this guy casually skiing along.
'We then headed back to the Russian research base and had a big party there.'
It may be the last thing you want to do when you have food poisoning, but eating raw garlic may be the best thing you can do to get over it.
A key ingredient in garlic is 100 times more powerful than two popular antibiotics at fighting a leading cause of food poisoning, scientists have found.
Tests discovered that the compound, dilly sulphide, can easily breach a slimy protective biofilm employed by the bug to make it harder to destroy.
Not only is it a lot more powerful than antibiotics erythromycin and ciprofloxacin, it also takes a fraction of the time to work.
The discovery, published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, could open the door to new treatments for raw and processed meats, and food preparation surfaces, that would reduce the toll of Campylobacter food poisoning.
In the wake of the Secret Service scandal, here's something I didn't know.
Obama's crew has nothing on the team that got drunk before JFK's assassination.
Congressman Pete King, the Republican chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, calls the scandal involving prostitutes in Colombia “the worst moment in the history of the Secret Service.”
He’s wrong about that. The worst moment in the history of the Secret Service was November 22, 1963, the day John F. Kennedy was shot and killed. It was the first and only time since the Secret Service was put fully in charge of protecting the president in 1902 that a president was assassinated.
William Manchester, in his 1967 book about the Kennedy assassination, The Death of the President, reports that nine agents of the White House Secret Service detail were out after midnight on November 22, starting with “beer and mixed drinks.” One agent was out until 5 a.m. Manchester wrote, “Fellow drinkers during those early morning hours included four agents who were to ride in the president’s follow-up care in Dallas, and whose alertness was vital to his safety.”