July 31, 2012

"Approval of state-sponsored homosexual unions has very quickly become a litmus test for bigotry"

Cardinal George, a native of Chicago, responds to Mayor Rahm Emmanuel's statement that Chick-fil-a is not welcome in Chicago because it does not share 'Chicago values'.

I was born and raised here, and my understanding of being a Chicagoan never included submitting my value system to the government for approval.  Must those whose personal values do not conform to those of the government of the day move from the city? Is the City Council going to set up a “Council Committee on Un-Chicagoan Activities” and call those of us who are suspect to appear before it?  I would have argued a few days ago that I believe such a move is, if I can borrow a phrase, “un-Chicagoan.”

The value in question is espousal of “gender-free marriage.”  Approval of state-sponsored homosexual unions has very quickly become a litmus test for bigotry; and espousing the understanding of marriage that has prevailed among all peoples throughout human history is now, supposedly, outside the American consensus
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People who are not Christian or religious at all take for granted that marriage is the union of a man and a woman for the sake of family and, of its nature, for life.  The laws of civilizations much older than ours assume this understanding of marriage.  This is also what religious leaders of almost all faiths have taught throughout the ages.  Jesus affirmed this understanding of marriage when he spoke of “two becoming one flesh” (Mt. 19: 4-6).  Was Jesus a bigot?  Could Jesus be accepted as a Chicagoan?  Would Jesus be more “enlightened” if he had the privilege of living in our society?  One is welcome to believe that, of course; but it should not become the official state religion, at least not in a land that still fancies itself free.

Surely there must be a way to properly respect people who are gay or lesbian without using civil law to undermine the nature of marriage.  Surely we can find a way not to play off newly invented individual rights to “marriage” against constitutionally protected freedom of religious belief and religious practice.  The State’s attempting to redefine marriage has become a defining moment not for marriage, which is what it is, but for our increasingly fragile “civil union” as citizens.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:12 PM | Permalink

Confirm thy soul in self control

Anthony Dalrymple on Diluting Self-Restraint

First there has been a profound cultural shift in the direction of the abandonment of self-control as a virtue. Thanks to the cultural revolution of the 50s and 60s (of which I am a product), people have fewer self-patrolled boundaries than they once would have had. Managers who once would have felt ashamed to deprive shareholders of their funds no longer do so. One sees this loss of self-control in all walks of life. In the public sector, for example, in which I have spent much of my adult life, the public purse is now shamelessly looted by those who work in it in a way that was inconceivable when I started my career (inefficiency is another question entirely). I could give many other examples, from obesity to gambling to drug-taking and binge-drinking.

Paul Kengor , "Confirm thy soul in self-control"

George Washington, knew the necessity of governing one’s self before a nation’s people were capable of self-governance. As Washington stated in his classic Farewell Address, “’Tis substantially true, that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government.”
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A forgotten philosopher who had an important influence on the American Founders was the Frenchman, Charles Montesquieu, whose work included the seminal book, The Spirit of the Laws (1748). Montesquieu considered various forms of government. In a tyrannical system, people are prompted not by freedom of choice or any expression of public virtue but, instead, by the sheer coercive power of the state, whether by decree of an individual despot or an unaccountable rogue regime. That’s no way for human beings to live. There’s life under such a system, yes, but not much liberty or pursuit of happiness; even life itself is threatened.

Montesquieu concluded that the best form of government is a self-governing one, and yet it is also the most difficult to maintain because it demands a virtuous populace. As noted by John Howard—the outstanding senior fellow at the Howard Center for Family, Religion, & Society—Montesquieu noted that each citizen in a self-governing state must voluntarily abide by certain essential standards of conduct: lawfulness, truthfulness, honesty, fairness, respect for the rights and well-being of others, obligation to one’s spouse and children, to name a few.
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Sadly, becoming virtuous has indeed become a monstrous chore in a society not only lacking virtue but eschewing virtue—fleeing virtue like a vampire fleeing a cross. Living life in a good way—what Benedict Groeschel calls The Virtue Driven Life—becomes so alien that the people prefer darkness over light. When virtues are not taught—whether at home, at school, or by America’s educator-in-chief, the TV set—they become unknown and ignored and unfulfilled, desiccated and dead upon the national landscape.

And perhaps saddest of all, as John Howard notes, virtue is something that can be acquired, like learning to speak a culture’s language. Once inculcated, however, it needs to be continuously reinforced by the cultural elements of the society. Virtue needs nourished, like fruitful plants need water and sunlight. Says Howard emphatically: “I want to repeat…. Virtue must be continuously reinforced by the culture.”
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Consider this line from one of our sacred political hymns, America, the Beautiful:

America, America,
God mend thine ev’ry flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law.

That’s the ticket: Confirm thy soul in self-control. Our liberty is enshrined in our laws, but liberty should not be license for opportunities for the flesh. Our liberties, protected and permitted as they are, should not be exploited to do anything and everything we want, including things harmful to oneself, to one’s family, to one’s neighbors, to one’s culture, to one’s country. That misunderstanding and abuse of freedom is what Pope Benedict XVI calls a “confused ideology of freedom,” one that can engender “the self-destruction of freedom” for others.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:35 AM | Permalink

Happy Birthday Milton Friedman

Today is the 100th birthday of Milton Friedman, The Man Who Saved Capitalism

Well over 200 million were liberated from poverty thanks to the rediscovery of the free market. And now as the world teeters close to another recession, leaders need to urgently rediscover Friedman's ideas.

I remember asking Milton, a year or so before his death, during one of our semiannual dinners in downtown San Francisco: What can we do to make America more prosperous? "Three things," he replied instantly. "Promote free trade, school choice for all children, and cut government spending."

How much should we cut? "As much as possible."

Thanks to YouTube, Milton Friedman can be watched in all his glory. All ten episodes of his PBS series Free to Choose are there.
Here is a short except on what he has to say about  Greed.

 

The editors at the National Review extol Professor Freedom

His work in the end was not about numbers, data, or equations, but about the alleviation of unnecessary human suffering and the removal of barriers to human flourishing. As he put it: “The only cases in recorded history in which the masses have escaped grinding poverty is where they have had capitalism and largely free trade.”
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He was unstinting in his criticism, but he was a famously happy warrior. His wit was one of his great pedagogical tools. Inspecting a government-run canal-building project in Asia, he noted that the workers were using shovels and wheelbarrows instead of bulldozers and earth-moving equipment, and was informed by his guide that using shovels meant more jobs for the workers. “Then why not use spoons?” Friedman asked.
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Capitalism, Friedman argued, was good not because we need not protect the worker and the consumer, but because capitalism actually protects the worker and the consumer, while government merely makes proclamations about doing so.

Kevin Williamson on Freidman's Economics of Love.

Friedman’s libertarianism was based on an economics of love: for real human beings leading real human lives with real human needs and real human challenges. He loved freedom not only because it allowed IBM to pursue maximum profit but because it allowed for human flourishing at all levels. Economic growth is important to everybody, but it is most important to the poor.

Thomas Sowell calls Friedman

one of those rare thinkers who had both genius and common sense. Most people would not be able to understand the complex economic analysis that won him a Nobel Prize, but people with no knowledge of economics had no trouble understanding his popular books like Free to Choose or the TV series of the same name.
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As a professor, he did not attempt to convert students to his political views. I made no secret of the fact that I was a Marxist when I was a student in Professor Friedman’s course, but he made no effort to change my views. He once said that anybody who was easily converted was not worth converting.  I was still a Marxist after taking Professor Friedman’s class. Working as an economist in the government converted me.
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Although Milton Friedman became someone regarded as a conservative icon, he considered himself a liberal in the original sense of the word — someone who believes in the liberty of the individual, free of government intrusions. Far from trying to conserve things as they are, he wrote a book titled Tyranny of the Status Quo.

Milton Friedman proposed radical changes in policies and institutions ranging from the public schools to the Federal Reserve. It is liberals who want to conserve and expand the welfare state.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:21 AM | Permalink

July 30, 2012

Best parenting tip ever

 Wifi Parenting-Tip
via Gizmondo

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:33 PM | Permalink

50 Main Street, USA

50 different towns in 50 different states, Piero Ribelli spent 6 years interviewing and photographing the residents of 50 Main St.

A fascinating photo essay of Main Street USA

The resulting book, '50 Main Street', provides an honest observation on what it means to be American, focusing on the fundamental similarities rather than the differences.

Italian-born Piero Ribelli spent six years interviewing fifty people, in fifty towns across the fifty states for the project, which he says is 'a reminder of our roots, values and history, based on immigration, opportunities and hard work.'

 Pennsylvania 50 Main Street

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:22 PM | Permalink

The purlicue is bigger than either the lunule or philtrum

These words have to do with the human body: lunule, philtrum, purlicue,  phosphenes, paresthesia  and  wamble,

If you don't know what they mean, check here  25 Everyday Things You Never Knew Had Names

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:01 PM | Permalink

Catholic Monks and Crazies

"He who labors as he prays lifts his heart to God with his hands,"  Bernard of Clairvaux, a French Cistercian monk, mystic and founder of the Abbey of Clairvaux.

Why are some countries richer than others?  or Did Catholic Monks Make the World Rich? 

The idea is that some countries have established institutions that form a good breeding ground for education, savings and technological progress – or they have simply been blessed with a culture or a geography that has formed a productive environment…..

Jeanet Sinding Bentzen, of the Department of Economics at the University of Copenhagen, who has just defended her PhD thesis Why are some countries richer than others?

The German economist and sociologist Max Weber, widely considered as one of the founders of social science, highlights what he calls ‘The Protestant Ethic’ as being particularly beneficial to capitalist prosperity.
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“The proportion of Protestants in a society might be an indicator of these values, but the problem here is that it wasn’t a coincidence that some countries converted to Protestantism. It could well be that a society which for instance had higher levels of education had a greater tendency to convert to Protestantism, while at the same time achieving greater economic success, despite Protestantism.”--
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This prompted the researchers to go as far back as to the point that has previously been identified as a possible origin of The Protestant Ethic: when the Roman Catholic order of Cistercians was founded in France in 1098.
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Cistercians were known to be extremely diligent and frugal – the exact virtues that Weber ascribed to Protestantism,” says Bentzen. “Weber himself highlighted the Cistercians as early forerunners of the Protestant Ethic.”
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We are cementing that the monks passed on their cultural values by showing – based on the European Values Study – that European regions with several Cistercian monasteries still to this day value diligence and moderation more than other regions,” says Bentzen.

“Our study of monks shows that societies that had a culture where diligence and moderation were highly valued had an advantage when the Industrial Revolution started. All else being equal, countries with high levels of work ethic will, historically speaking, achieve greater prosperity.”

More to life than happiness

Here are three circumstances in which an individual might want to pursue a course that will not make them happy but is nonetheless more important to them than their own happiness. (a) The case of wanting to achieve something in one's profession or field of endeavor, come what may so far as happiness is concerned. (b) The case of feeling one has an obligation to others which one must not fail in, however hard it may be to fulfill it. © The case of feeling a need to act against grave injustices whether or not doing so will enhance one's own life.

Why the 'Crazies' Are the Ones Who Will Make It

Ambition is good, but not if it just leads to wanting to do well. Ambition must be paired with action and execution to be truly meaningful. Otherwise, it’s just a daydream…..
Delusional is better …delusional people also tend to be more productive, which is less obvious. Why? Because delusional people are more optimistic about completing goals, and humans, as emotional beings, are more likely to work toward (and execute on) goals we think we have a good chance of completing….delusional people imagine and build the impossible.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:54 PM | Permalink

Honey heals wounds and it's not bad on toast

I don't bee-lieve it! Man, 62, cures painful eye infection with 99p jar of honey

A man who spent eight years searching for a cure for a chronic eye condition was amazed when he finally found the remedy in a 99p jar of Tesco Value honey.  Frank Dougan, 62, lost his left eye when he was shot with a bow and arrow in a childhood accident and he later developed a painful infection called blepharitis.  He visited doctors and eye specialists and spent a fortune on different drops over the years but nothing worked.

But he was finally cured when he cut his hand while on holiday in Jerusalem and he was advised to put honey on it.  Surprised by the results, when he returned home to Glasgow he bought a jar of Tesco Value Honey and tried it on his eyelid - and within weeks the infection had cleared.

He said yesterday: 'It’s unbelievable. It’s incredibly effective. I have spent a fortune on prescription eye drops over the years, I have a fridge full of them.

'It’s funny that at the end of it all the cure would come in the form of a 99p jar of honey from the supermarket. And it’s not bad on toast either.'

Everyone should have a jar or more of honey stored away for emergencies. 

The FDA quietly acknowledged the benefits of honey when it approved a line of honey-based wound dressings.

Using honey to treat wounds is nothing new; even ancient civilizations used it in this manner. However, this is the sort of thing that usually gets relegated to "folk healing". It seems scientifically obvious: honey is very acidic (antibacterial), and it produces its own hydrogen peroxide when combined with the fluid which drains from a wound! The extremely high sugar content of honey means it contains very little water. So, it draws the pus and fluid from the wound, thereby speeding the healing process. Furthermore, the honey contains powerful germ-fighting phytochemicals from the plants that produced the pollen harvested by the honeybees.

All you want to know about the Benefits of Honey

 Logo-Benefits-Of-Honey-1

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:45 AM | Permalink

We need more cowboys

A combination of causes has led to " a perfect storm of events that have shred the veneer of sophisticated civilization": the destruction of the California rural middle class, illegal immigration, terrible governance and a coarsening of the popular culture.

Victor Davis Hanson says in California: The Road Warrior is Here

Like Road Warrior, again, what frightens is this mishmash of violence with foppish culture, of official platitudes and real-life chaos: the illiterate and supposedly impoverished nonetheless fishing through the discounted video game barrel at Wal-Mart; the much-heralded free public transit bus zooming around on electrical or natural gas power absolutely empty of riders, as the impoverished prefer their Camrys and Civics; ads encouraging new food stamp users as local fast-food franchises have lines of cars blocking traffic on the days when government cards are electronically recharged; the politician assuring us that California is preeminent as he hurries home to his Bay Area cocoon.

Meanwhile Peach growers in California say their crops are rotting because they can't find enough workers to pick them despite unemployment figures breaking nearly 19 per cent in parts.

Both Mr Gill and his nephew Gurpreet, a business specialist who helps his uncle on his days off, say it's not that there aren't people available; it's that they would rather work idle hours at a fast food restaurant despite less pay.

In Philadelphia, urban cowboys tackle gang violence and drugs in The Wire meets the Wild West

Describing themselves as 'ghetto fabulous', the 'black cowboys' of Fletcher Street take great pride in their status as they fight to ensure that the next generation of young men and boys in the neighborhood do not fall into a life of crime.

One of the last remaining urban riding clubs in the city, the Fletcher Street cowboys are encouraged to care for their horse like it is a family member.
...With names such as Red Pony, Champ, Power, White Chick, One Eye and Easy Like Sunday Morning, the horses are the explicit responsibility of each cowboy. Each steed is 'rescued' from a livestock auction in New Holland in Pennsylvania, which the owners of the club like to think mirrors the second chance that a lot of the cowboys of Fletcher Street have taken.
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'We have a business license. We keep our horses looking good. We may not have the best facility, but we give them the best food money can buy and we love them,' said Lee Cannady, a Philadelphia police officer and lifelong patron of the riding club.
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The urban cowboys of Fletcher Street count discipline, responsibility and accountability as necessary for joining their ranks. 'Once a kid comes around here, it's hard for them to detach themselves,' said White. 'They look at this as another part of the world. You don't have anyone cursing, doing drugs, shouting. 'The kids must bring their report cards. If they get bad grades, they can't ride until they bring their grades up.'

'There's not one murder, not one drug dealer, not one knifing or other crime here,' said White.  'A couple of blocks away, that's not the case.

'When they see us riding around the neighborhood, they follow us. 'We encourage them to come around and see what it's like.'

For some young riders, membership of the club confuses their friends. 'When I first told them they thought it was kind of weird,' said one young cowboy.

'I got one girlfriend. She thinks its adorable.  'On a horse you got people looking at you rather than you looking a people.

'It's ghetto fabulous." 'On the horse we are black cowboys.'
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:34 AM | Permalink

July 29, 2012

The Decline of Male Intimacy

From the Art of Manliness Bosom Buddies: A Photo History of Male Affection

In my unending search for just the right vintage images for our articles, I have looked through thousands of photographs of men from the last century or so. One of the things that I have found most fascinating about many of these images, is the ease, familiarity, and intimacy, which men used to exhibit in photographs with their friends and compadres.
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 Male Bosom Buddies
“Boys imitate what they see. If what they see is emotional distance, guardedness, and coldness between men they will grow up to imitate that behavior…What do boys learn when they do not see men with close friendships, where there are no visible models of intimacy in a man’s life beyond his spouse?” -

- Kindlon and Thompson, Raising Cain
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:00 PM | Permalink

July 26, 2012

"It keeps out fat people with bad taste"

Virginia Postrel, How the Elites Built America's Economic Wall

As I have argued elsewhere, there are two competing models of successful American cities. One encourages a growing population, fosters a middle-class, family-centered lifestyle, and liberally permits new housing. It used to be the norm nationally, and it still predominates in the South and Southwest. The other favors long-term residents, attracts highly productive, work-driven people, focuses on aesthetic amenities, and makes it difficult to build. It prevails on the West Coast, in the Northeast and in picturesque cities such as Boulder, Colorado and Santa Fe, New Mexico. The first model spurs income convergence, the second spurs economic segregation. Both create cities that people find desirable to live in, but they attract different sorts of residents.
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Finally, there’s the never-mentioned possibility: that the best-educated, most-affluent, most politically influential Americans like this result. They may wring their hands over inequality, but in everyday life they see segregation as a feature, not a bug. It keeps out fat people with bad taste. Paul Krugman may wax nostalgic about a childhood spent in the suburbs where plumbers and middle managers lived side by side. But I doubt that many of his fervent fans would really want to live there. If so, they might try Texas.

Read the article for the economic argument she makes.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:12 PM | Permalink

The New McCarthyism on display. Regnerus and Chick-fil-a UPDATED

The new McCarthyism is damning people for what their thoughts or beliefs no matter how offensive they may seem to you.  They were called Thought crimes in George Orwell's prophetic book, Nineteen Eighty-Four .  It is a corrosive virus that threatens our social fabric and is the height of intolerance.

What I call the new McCarthyism is on display in two current news stories.

First, the story of sociologist Mark Regenerus, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin who reported in a peer-reviewed study published in the journal Social Science Research that children in traditional families do better than those raised in non-traditional settings.    Regnerus is now under investigation after complaints have been made to the President of the University that

his research is unethical because it is “a study designed so as to be guaranteed to make gay people look bad, through means plainly fraudulent and defamatory.”

In the Chronicle of Higher Education, An Academic Auto-da-Fe

Whoever said inquisitions and witch hunts were things of the past? A big one is going on now. The sociologist Mark Regnerus, at the University of Texas at Austin, is being smeared in the media and subjected to an inquiry by his university over allegations of scientific misconduct.

Regnerus's offense? His article in the July 2012 issue of Social Science Research reported that adult children of parents who had same-sex romantic relationships, including same-sex couples as parents, have more emotional and social problems than do adult children of heterosexual parents with intact marriages. That's it. Regnerus published ideologically unpopular research results on the contentious matter of same-sex relationships. And now he is being made to pay.
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What is at stake here? First, fair treatment for Regnerus. His antagonists have already damaged his chances of being promoted to full professor. If his critics are successful at besmirching his reputation, his career may be seriously damaged.

But something bigger is at stake: The very integrity of the social-science research process is threatened by the public smearing and vigilante media attacks we have seen in this case. Sociology's progressive orthodoxy and the semi covert activism it prompts threaten the intellectual vitality of the discipline, the quality of undergraduate education, and public trust in academe. Reasonable people cannot allow social-science scholarship to be policed and selectively punished by the forces of activist ideology and politics, from any political quarter. University leaders must resist the manipulation of research review committees by nonacademic culture warriors who happen not to like certain findings.

The second story is Chick-fil-a,    CEO Dan Cathy said in an interview with the Baptist Press

Some have opposed the company's support of the traditional family. "Well, guilty as charged," said Cathy when asked about the company's position.
"We are very much supportive of the family -- the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that.
"We operate as a family business … our restaurants are typically led by families; some are single. We want to do anything we possibly can to strengthen families. We are very much committed to that,"

Terry Mattingly in Get Religion has the full context and points out that CEO Cathy never said anything about gay marriage.

That isn’t what CNN, and others, did in their reports. They reported that Cathy made comments, that he spoke words directly addressing gay-rights issues, that he delivered a series of negative, anti-gay remarks. In effect, Cathy is being quoted saying words that he said, as well as words that he did not say.

The company closes on its 1600 stores on Sundays and has for decades and has never been charged with discrimination of any sort.

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino vowed to block the company from opening a restaurant in Boston near the Freedom Trail. Menino  said

“Chick-fil-A doesn’t belong in Boston. You can’t have a business in the city of Boston that discriminates against a population. We’re an open city, we’re a city that’s at the forefront of inclusion,” Menino told the Herald yesterday.  “That’s the Freedom Trail. That’s where it all started right here. And we’re not going to have a company, Chick-fil-A or whatever the hell the name is, on our Freedom Trail.”

The Jim Henson Co., best known for its namesake's work in creating the Muppets and Kermit the Frog, said it was cutting business ties with the chain. "Our CEO is personally a strong supporter of gay marriage,"

According to a statement  issued by the Company, saying it has a history of applying “biblically-based principles” to managing its business, such as closing on Sundays, and it insisted it does not discriminate.

“The Chick-fil-A culture and service tradition in our restaurants is to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect — regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender,” the statement read. “Going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena.”

The Chicago way.  Chicago Alderman Joe Moreno said

There are consequences for freedom of speech (and) in this case the consequences are… you’re not going to have your first free-standing restaurant in Chicago.’’  until the Company comes up with a written policy against discrimination.
Chicago values
  Mayor Rahm Emanuel backed Moreno’s ideological viewpoint, saying the city does not share the values espoused by Dan Cathy, president of the family-owned Chick-fil-A fast-food restaurant chain.

I note again there are no charges of discrimination at any of the Company's 1600 restaurants.

Glenn Reynolds the Instapundit

What I think is funny is that if you have the same view on gay marriage that Obama had when he was elected, now you’re an enemy of humanity or something. It’s some sort of, I don’t know, Liberal Fascism or something. . . .

The Boston Globe editorializes with  some common sense
But which part of the First Amendment does Menino not understand? A business owner’s political or religious beliefs should not be a test for the worthiness of his or her application for a business license.

Chick-fil-A must follow all state and city laws. If the restaurant chain denied service to gay patrons or refused to hire gay employees, Menino’s outrage would be fitting. And the company should be held to its statement that it strives to “treat every person with honor, dignity and respect — regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation, or gender.” But beyond the fact that Chick-fil-A is closed on Sundays, the religious beliefs of the company’s top executive don’t appear to control its operations.

I agree with the Anchoress, If you're not sure this is how fascism works

This is not about being “right” or “wrong” on an issue. This is about menacing and bullying people into conforming or paying the price. It’s about the bastardization of the word “tolerace” in our society, to the point where the word no longer means “live and let live” or “let people be who they are”; the word has become distorted in a very unhealthy way. Someone’s a bigot? Let him be a bigot; like it or not, a man is entitled to his damn bigotry. Someone’s a curmudgeon? Let him be a curmudgeon. Someone’s a misogynist (or, conversely, a male-hater?) let them be! People are entitled to be who they are — just as a church is entitled to be what it is — free of government compulsion to be what they are not. We cannot “make” people be more loving. We cannot “legislate” kindness. A bigot, or a hater (of any sort) will eventually find himself standing alone, will have to figure things out for himself. Or, not.

If people are no longer entitled to their own opinions, or to think what they think, then we are not free people, at all. Period. Full stop. That’s a fundamental as it gets

UPDATE:  Rod Dreher, Bonfire of the Chick-fil-a

This is all about some fake-journalism scheme dreamed up by a few extremely parochial, bourgeois anti-Christian bigots who work in the Newsweek/Daily Beast building in lower Manhattan. It’s not about reforming a great social wrong. It’s about destroying the reputation of a restaurant whose owners are traditional Christians who share the views on marriage of half the country. This has happened before.

To be clear, if someone wants to boycott a business for any reason, that’s their right. The media’s distortion of this story, and Newsweek’s egregious and sleazy advocacy journalism, is what especially ticks me off.

Listen, pro-gay folks: this kind of thing is why many Christians and other social conservatives fear what’s coming. It is not enough for many on your side to achieve your goals of legal equality. You seek to destroy anybody who dissents, including ruining them professionally. And you have the mainstream media on your side.

I will continue to patronize businesses whose owners support gay rights, as long as the products and/0r the service is high quality. Why? Because I can live in a society in which good people can disagree on things, and still get along, and trade with each other. 
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:09 PM | Permalink

Lofuten and Gloucester

One of the most beautiful places in the world is an archipelago above the Arctic Circle is Lofuten where I had the good fortune to visit some years ago.

Here are some gorgeous photos of the Arctic Circle Anomaly.

 Lofoten

I lived in Gloucester for several years and was struck by the beauty of the place.  And there's about the light there that's attracted artists for years.    Like Edward Hopper who created many paintings in the bright Gloucester light.

 Hopper Gloucester

Photographer Gail Albert located the original houses used in his paintings and took pictures of them as they stand today.  It's now a New York Times photo essay you can enjoy.  The Original Edward Hopper Houses.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:18 AM | Permalink

July 25, 2012

Speak of the Devil

After reading about the Suspect's Rapid Descent, I got the chills and the only word that came to mind was demonic.  I suppose anyone familiar with movies about  exorcism or who has read serious books about exorcism would have the same reaction on reading this.

On June 25, the Lead Valley Range received Mr. Holmes' online application with answers to basic questions about age, gun ownership and drug use; all seemed normal, said range owner Glenn Rotkovich.

Mr. Rotkovich called Mr. Holmes to set up an orientation time, and heard an "incoherent, bizarre" voice-mail message, which he described as "very guttural." "There was all kinds of low groaning in the middle," Mr. Rotkovich said. He called twice more and left three messages. The range never heard from Mr. Holm

The Anchoress

You know where my friend’s head went, with that, right? Exactly the same place yours just went, and mine went, when I read it. Chilling but then, we have always understood that what took place last Friday was a rampage of evil.

The Aurora Murders and Demonic Possession, Fr. Dwight Longenecker

Demonic infestation is a rare, strange and terrible psycho-spiritual affliction. It's also real. Was James Holmes possessed?
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When faced with mindless massacres, we don't have a rational answer—and that is the rational answer. What I mean is that the further one goes down the path of Evil, the more it becomes irrational and mindless. Evil, by its very nature, is a lie, a subterfuge, a deceit and a vast web of contradictions and inconsistencies. Evil is, by it's nature, the darkness and the chaos—where what seems reasonable is only a smoke screen for the absurd, and what seems logical is a pretext for irrationality.
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Is James Holmes demon possessed? It is impossible to say without a detailed diagnosis. Even then, it is a slippery question. We are dealing with a reality that is rubbery. In many ways this is the wrong question. Better to ask, "Was James Holmes taken over by Evil?"

Yes. Something happened to the mild mannered science geek. He turned into a monster. Something twisted in his mind and heart, and Evil made an entry. Evil infested his life. It took him over. Whether the twist was through mental illness, some inner wound or some terrible dark intelligence, we cannot say. The fact that we can't say what went wrong and don't have a neat and tidy answer is the key to understanding the terrible conundrum of evil.
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All we can do when faced with mindless evil is recognize that it is mindless. The only answer is that there is no answer. The murders in Aurora and the crazed face of James Holmes remind us that real evil is random and meaningless. It is deadly and ruthless and cruel simply to be deadly, ruthless and cruel. All we can do is gaze on in fascinated horror at the senseless suffering.
Then we can pick ourselves up and also remember that goodness always overcomes evil. Evil is the absence of rationality, the absence of good, the absence of love. Evil is the dark compared to light. Evil is cold compared to heat. The cold and dark feel bad, but they are the absence of light and heat. Likewise, Evil is the absence not only of Good, but the outgoing power of Good which theologians call Love.

The true answer to the absurdity of evil is the supernatural rationality of love, for love is the outgoing goodness that counters evil. By "love," I do not mean merely sentimental or erotic love. I mean a power that is positive and creative and dynamic and pro-active in the world—the power which Dante said "moved the Sun and the other stars."

The Anchoress too ends on a hopeful note in The Alleluia That Defeats the Chill of Evil, "But something else took place last Friday; beer and hymns among the Lutherans, led by Preacher Nadia Bolz-Weber. And it was full of truth and victory:

I think Mary would not shy away from naming the darkness and despair of an event like Friday’s massacre.  She was familiar with darkness after all– Luke tells us that it is from Mary Magdalen that Jesus cast out 7 demons.  Then having been freed from her demons she followed Jesus and as the text tells us, even supported the ministry from her own pocketbook. And at the end it was Mary Magdalen who did not deny Jesus nor betray Jesus nor high tale it out when things got rough but she with just a couple other faithful women stood at the cross.  And after Jesus died, it was Mary who came to his tomb, as we are told, while it was still dark.

My Bishop Allan Bjornberg once said that the Greatest spiritual practice isn’t yoga or praying the hours or living in intentional poverty although these are all beautiful in their own way.  The greatest spiritual practice is just showing up.

And in some ways Mary Magdalen is like, the patron saint of just showing up.

Because showing up means being present to what is real, what is actually happening.  She didn’t necessarily know what to say or what to do or even what to think….but none of that is nearly as important as the fact that she just showed up.  She showed up at the cross where her teacher Jesus became a victim of our violence and terror.  She looked on as the man who had set her free from her own darkness bore the evil and violence of the whole world upon himself and yet still she showed up.
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And I think that were Mary Magdalen here she would have very little tolerance for the platitudes and vapid optimism of so much overly-churched Christianity.  Those are simply luxuries of people who’ve never had demons. But equally would she abhor nihilism or the idea that there is no real meaning in life – ideas present in so much of post-modernity…that too, is a luxury but it is one of those who have never been freed from demons.
I think she would show up and tell us that despite it all despite the violence and fear that it’s still always worth it to love God and to love people and always, always it is worth it to sing alleluia.  For surely the devil hates the sound of it.

The Anchoress again

When I hear about these terrible acts of evil, it always makes me wonder: did this person have anyone in the world, anyone in his life, praying for him? I know what it’s like to go unsprayed for, by anyone. It’s an awful, desolate thing, a daily darkness. It is a vast emptiness, and one that seeks to fill itself, which is difficult to do when our culture itself is, in many ways, a vast emptiness that may temporarily distract but can never fill our voids.
If loss seeks loss, in order that it may not be so alone, we will see so much more of this as we become an increasingly empty, cut-off, isolated and secularized people.

To understand what Christians mean by the devil and the powers of evil, I recommend Father Barron, via Marcel

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:37 PM | Permalink

"We're brutalizing the audience. We're going to end up like the Roman circus, live at the Coliseum."

Today, there's a general numbing of the audience. There's too much murder and killing. You make people insensitive by showing it all the time. The body count in pictures is huge. It numbs the audience into thinking it's not so terrible. Back in the '70s, I asked Orson Welles what he thought was happening to pictures, and he said, "We're brutalizing the audience. We're going to end up like the Roman circus, live at the Coliseum." The respect for human life seems to be eroding.

Director Peter Bogdanovich says Movies are part of the problem

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:29 PM | Permalink

A single pill could treat Alzheimer's, Parkinson's AND multiple sclerosis

A Phase I trial assessing the drug's safety in human patients is under way

One pill with the potential to treat conditions including Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis and strokes has been unveiled by scientists.  Given early enough, it may even be able to stop full-blown Alzheimer’s from taking hold.

It works by dampening down the inflammation thought to be at least partly to blame for many degenerative brain conditions, as well damage caused by head injuries and strokes.  Animal tests have been encouraging and the pill has been given to humans for the first time, although the results have yet to be released.  Early results from animal studies suggest it could be effective against a plethora of devastating brain conditions.

They include Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), motor neuron disease, frontotemporal dementia, and complications from traumatic brain injury.

Two of the drugs, known as MW151 and MW189, have been patented by US scientists at Northwestern University in Chicago. They work by blocking excess production of damaging immune system signaling molecules called pro-inflammatory cytokines.  New research published today in the Journal of Neuroscience showed how early treatment with MW151 prevented the development of full-blown Alzheimer's in laboratory mice.  Scientists say the drugs offer a completely different approach to treating the disease to others currently being tested. These target the accumulation of beta amyloid protein deposits in the brain which are a key feature of Alzheimer's.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:30 PM | Permalink

What researchers can tell parents

Researchers from Harvard University and Boston Children's Hospital say Growing up in a  loving home boosts children's brains and makes them more intelligent.  Children in care have less grey and white matter than those brought up in a typical home environment.

Researchers  from Dartmouth College studied 1228 children between 12 and 14 and then analyzed their behavior six years later.  They concluded that Teenagers 'can be corrupted' by Hollywood sex scenes.

The study, based on nearly 700 popular films, found that watching love scenes could "fundamentally influence" a teenager's personality….
"Adolescents who are exposed to more sexual content in movies start having sex at younger ages, have more sexual partners, and are less likely to use condoms with casual sexual partners," said Dr Ross O'Hara, who led the study…."This study, and its confluence with other work, strongly suggests that parents need to restrict their children from seeing sexual content in movies at young ages."

Boxed in, wanting out  A new study of American families reveals troubling trends: Too much stuff, too little time.

… [N]ew research by UCLA-affiliated social scientists concluding that American families are overwhelmed by clutter, too busy to go in their own backyards, rarely eat dinner together even though they claim family meals as a goal, and can’t park their cars in the garage because they’re crammed with non-vehicular stuff.  The team of anthropologists and archeologists spent four years studying 32 middle-class Los Angeles families in their natural habitat — their toy-littered homes — and came to conclusions so grim that the lead researcher used the word “disheartening” to describe the situation we have gotten ourselves into.

I've posted this before  but it's worth saying again.  Exposure to energy-efficident CFL 'curly' light bulbs can be harmful to healthy skin cells.  Incandescent bulbs have no effect.  Given the mercury it contains, the hazardous waste created when a bulb breaks, the lousy light it gives,  and now the damage to normal healthy skin cells, parents should not allow them in the house.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:52 AM | Permalink

July 24, 2012

There are only three true job interview questions

Top Executive Recruiters Agree There Are Only Three True Job Interview Questions

The only three true job interview questions are:
1.  Can you do the job?
2.  Will you love the job?
3.  Can we tolerate working with you?

That’s it.  Those three.  Think back, every question you’ve ever posed to others or had asked of you in a job interview is a subset of a deeper in-depth follow-up to one of these three key questions.  Each question may be asked using different words, but every question, however it is phrased, is just a variation on one of these topics: Strengths, Motivation, and Fit.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:02 PM | Permalink

Be careful with fake tans

'Fake tan can cause fertility problems'.  Users are warned that lotions could harm unborn babies and trigger cancer.

Women who use fake tan could put themselves at an increased risk of fertility problems and having babies with birth defects, according to experts.
Although seen as a safe alternative to sun beds, the products can contain a ‘cocktail’ of chemicals which may pose a risk to health – and can even cause cancer.  Among the dangerous ingredients found in fake tan are hormone-disrupting compounds, which can affect the healthy development of babies.

The products often also contain carcinogens, including formaldehyde and nitrosamines, as well as skin irritants and chemicals linked to allergies, diabetes, obesity and fertility problems. The potentially dangerous effects of fake tan are thought to be more worrying than for other cosmetics as it is applied over the whole body regularly.
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The active ingredient in fake tanning products is dihydroxyacetone, which reacts with the amino acids on the skin to turn it brown. When it is sprayed on to the body, it is often inhaled and absorbed into the bloodstream.  Scientists say it could damage DNA and cause tumors.  They also claim the chemical may worsen asthma and other lung problems, such as emphysema.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:41 PM | Permalink

The Five Lessons Divorced People Learn About Marriage

Divorcé's Guide to Marriage - Study Reveals Five Common Themes Underlie Most Divorces.

Want great marriage advice? Ask a divorced person.

People who lose the most important relationship of their life tend to spend some time thinking about what went wrong. If they are at all self-reflective, this means they will acknowledge their own mistakes, not just their ex's blunders. And if they want to be lucky in love next time, they'll try to learn from these mistakes.
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Over the continuing study's 25 years so far, 46% of the couples divorced—a rate in line with the Census and other national data. Dr. Orbuch followed many of the divorced individuals into new relationships and asked 210 of them what they had learned from their mistakes. (Of these 210, 71% found new partners, including 44% who remarried.) This is their hard-earned advice.

Boost your spouse's mood
Of the divorced people, 15% said they would give their spouse more of what Dr. Orbuch calls "affective affirmation," including compliments, cuddling and kissing, hand-holding, saying "I love you," and emotional support. "By expressing love and caring you build trust," Dr. Orbuch says.

She says there are four components of displays of affection that divorced people said were important: How often the spouse showed love; how often the spouse made them feel good about the kind of person they are; how often the spouse made them feel good about having their own ideas and ways of doing things; and how often the spouse made life interesting or exciting.
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Talk more about money
Money was the No. 1 point of conflict in the majority of marriages, good or bad, that Dr. Orbuch studied…."Talk money more often—not just when it's tax time, when you have high debt, when bills come along," Dr. Orbuch says. Set ground rules and expectations and stick to them.
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Get over the past
This includes getting over jealousy of your partner's past relationships, irritation at how your mother-in-law treats you, something from your own childhood that makes it hard for you to trust, a spat you had with your spouse six months ago.
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Blame the relationship
The divorced individuals in the study who blamed ex-spouses, or even themselves, had more anxiety, depression and sleep disorders than individuals who blamed the way that they and their partners interacted. Those who held on to anger were less likely to move on, build a strong new relationship and address future problems in a positive, proactive manner.
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Reveal more about yourself
"It doesn't have to be emotional," Dr. Orbuch says. "But it should be about issues where you learn about what makes each other tick." Such topics help your partner understand you better.

Dr. Orbuch suggests a 10-minute rule: Every day, for 10 minutes, the couple should talk alone about something other than work, the family and children, the household, the relationship. No problems. No scheduling. No logistics.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:40 AM | Permalink

Taxpayer identity theft

An amazing illusion that I found here.

 Illusion

Speaking of illusions, how safe are you from identity theft?

A report by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) reveals that that taxpayer identity theft more than doubled in 2011, skyrocketing to 641,052 taxpayers affected as compared to 270,518 the prior year.

As Eileen Ambrose of the Baltimore Sun explains, once a fraudster has someone's Social Security number, all they have to do is "make up W-2 information, submit a return before the legitimate taxpayer files and receive a refund directly deposited on a debit card."

That, said Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson during a July 10th House Judiciary Committee hearing, can mean a nightmare for victims.  "Identity theft wreaks havoc on our tax system in many ways," explained.  "Victims not only must deal with the aftermath of an emotionally draining crime, but may also have to deal with the IRS for years to untangle the resulting tax account problems. Identity theft also impacts the public …(Treasury)… as Treasury funds are diverted to pay out improper refunds claimed by opportunistic perpetrators….Identity theft is not a problem the IRS can solve on its own."

Phishing emails, stolen Social Security numbers, and fraudulent tax preparers are all cited as potential pathways for taxpayer identity fraud to occur.
Amy Feldman, writing for Reuters, says that "Fighting taxpayer identity theft is a bit like going after Nigerian email scammers, a constant battle that seems unlikely to be won anytime soon."
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:33 AM | Permalink

July 22, 2012

For Sunday, a Classical Flashmob in Spain

Without further ado.

I loved the reaction of the little children.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:12 AM | Permalink

July 20, 2012

Shootings in Aurora

The shootings in Aurora left 12 dead and 50 wounded.    None of dead knew it would be their last day.  That's how suddenly and unexpectedly death can come.

In the face of such an evil, senseless act,  I can only offer prayers for all those died, the wounded and for all the families whose lives have been changed in an instant.

Looking at the pictures at grieving family members from the Mail Online is almost too much to bear.   

How did James Holmes, a 24 year-old Ph.D candidate, go so wrong?

 James Holmes Killer

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:50 PM | Permalink

Health Round-up: Lightbulbs, jab, water, nano particles and Hepatitis C, gut check, Clementines and doctor ratings

Doctors hail jab that can stop Alzheimer's in its tracks for three years.  Bad news: it won't be on the market for years.  Extensive human trials are next.

Another reason I'm glad I stocked up on incandescent  bulbs.  Those curly energy-saving light bulbs can fry your skin

Researchers at Stony Brook University in New York State examined the impact of the efficient compact fluorescent bulbs - or CFL bulbs - on human skin cells prompted by a similar study undertaken in Europe.
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Cells exposed to CFLs experienced the same trauma as sun burnt skin, they found.  Ms Rafailovich said incandescent light of the same intensity had no effect on healthy skin cells at all.

Fabulous news.  Nanoparticle Completely Eradicates Hepatitis C Virus  As Instapundit says 'Faster please."

Contemptible.  Striking SEIU workers intentionally endangered CT nursing home patients says company. Union negotiations on a new contract collapsed, so workers walked out.

HealthBridge Management Health Care Centers alleged that union employees in at least three of its facilities intentionally mixed up or removed patient name plates, photos, medical bracelets and dietary advisories as they began their strike. Additionally, the police reports include allegations of both vandalism and larceny.

Too Much Water Bigger Threat Than Too Little  Athletes pay attention.

Nearly 18,000 cases of whooping cough have been reported in the U.S. so far this year, the AP reports, setting the country on pace for the highest number of cases of the contagious and sometime fatal disease since 1959.

The CDC is recommending that adults — especially pregnant women — get vaccinated to keep kids from getting the bacterial disease.

Gut check.  What do heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer's, stroke and cancer have in common?  Belly fat. 

Inflammation can spiral out of control  and increase the risk for disease. ...When inflammation becomes chronic it can damage heart valves and brain cells, trigger strokes, and promote resistance to insulin, which leads to diabetes. It also is associated with the development of cancer.

"We've learned that abdominal fat tissue is a hotbed of inflammation that pours out all kinds of inflammatory molecules,"

Fiber and dairy foods can help.

What Clementines Can Teach Surgeons

Consumer Reports Extends Its Ratings to Doctors

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:30 PM | Permalink

A philosopher atheist finds faith

Edward Feser, The Road from Atheism

And once you have allowed yourself to see the truth that reason leads you to, what reason apprehends is (given the convertibility of the transcendentals) as good and beautiful as it is real.  If you find yourself intellectually convinced that there is a divine Uncaused Cause who sustains the world and you in being at every instant, and don’t find this conclusion extremely strange and moving, something that leads you to a kind of reverence, then I daresay you haven’t understood it.

Speaking for myself, anyway, I can say this much.  When I was an undergrad I came across the saying that learning a little philosophy leads you away from God, but learning a lot of philosophy leads you back.  As a young man who had learned a little philosophy, I scoffed.  But in later years and at least in my own case, I would come to see that it’s true.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:19 AM | Permalink

Home Cooking Increases Longevity

Home Cooking Increases Longevity, Cambridge Study Shows

For those of you who use your stove for shoe storage, nota bene: all that wasted time with an inactive kitchen could be shortening your lifespan. In fact, a new study found that people who cook up to five times a week were 47 percent more likely to still be alive after 10 years.

“It has become clear that cooking is a healthy behavior," said lead author Professor Mark Wahlqvist in a statement. "It deserves a place in life-long education, public health policy, urban planning and household economics."

The research team, made up of Taiwanese and Australian researchers, published their work in Public Health Nutrition, a Cambridge University journal after looking at a group of 1,888 men and women over age 65 who lived in Taiwan. At the start of the study, they interviewed each participant about several lifestyle factors, including cooking habits, household circumstances, shopping habits, diet, education, transportation and smoking.

During the initial survey, researchers found that 43 percent of participants never cooked, while 17 percent cooked one to two times per week, 9 percent cooked three to five times in a week and 31 percent cooked five or more times a week.

After 10 years, they followed up to see how many of the participants had died. They then matched lifestyle answers to the 1,193 participants who remained alive. The researchers discovered that frequent cooking was associated with survival. Also associated? Grocery shopping, taking public transportation, not smoking, and being a woman. Frequent cooking -- and survival -- was more common among women and most profoundly among unmarried women, though also among women with families.

There were limitations to the study: women generally live longer than men and, for cultural reasons, women were more practiced at cooking than men. Additionally, those who remained healthy were more able to perform errands related to cooking, like shopping for food, walking and taking public transportation. The truly ailing wouldn't be able to cook because of their health -- not the other way around.

But even after researchers controlled for these other factors, they found an association between frequent home cooking and longevity. "The pathways to health that food provides are not limited to its nutrients or components, but extend to each step in the food chain, from its production, to purchase, preparation and eating, especially with others,” added Wahlqvist.

 Chocolate Chip Cookies

Higher Education and the Holy Cookie

On the greatest chocolate-chip cookie in the known universe, with recipe….

And so it was that on one faithful day, her three sons received in the mail, not the Holy Cookies for which they begged, but the Holy Cookie recipe and instructions that they learn to cook. I love my mother, but she can be a cold woman once she makes up her mind.

On the other hand, my need was great and my understanding of the gap between desire and gratification scant. And so I learned, at last, to cook. It was one of my mother's many fine and enduring gifts, perhaps the finest next to, of course, life itself.

First, out of sheer necessity, I learned the Holy Cookie and, when that turned out well after only a few disasters, I went on to learning to cook other things. Things like entrees, side dishes, bread and desert right down to and including a Chocolate Souffle.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:19 AM | Permalink

Michael Hersh

A man who has found his calling is one happy man. His Own Drum

The story of Michael Hersch is one of the most amazing you’ll ever hear — in music or out. He is an American composer, born in 1971. He is one of the most honored and lauded composers before the public today. He deserves this recognition too (say I, as a critic who has covered him for years). Why is his story so amazing? First, there is his extraordinary talent. Second, there is the fact that he started in music at a late age — and rapidly soared to something like the top.
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Hersch is extremely reluctant to talk about his abilities, but Jamie has talked about them, publicly: If Michael heard a song, even once, he knew all the words, forever. And all the notes, forever. He could also draw things with photographic realism. Jamie was progressing on the French horn, and is, in fact, a professional today. He pestered his older brother to listen to some classical music, which he finally did — at age 18. It was Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, in a videotaped performance by Georg Solti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Michael knew what his life would be.
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I was just overjoyed at my luck. I had found this world, and I had it all to explore.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:06 AM | Permalink

July 18, 2012

America's Cultural Revolution

I was educated in the 60s before the "Cultural Revolutions" so I remember the way we were.  Gelernter is harsh but right.

Dismantling of a Culture

DAVID GELERNTER: The Cultural Revolution itself began right after World War II (when our leading colleges were still in the hands of the generally centrist WASP elite) and culminated around 1970, when intellectuals were in control, and preparing to use these universities as platforms for imposing their worldview throughout the schools’ establishment and cultural elite.

So America went lite starting around 1970. The big change was complete by the 1980s: In ’83, “A Nation at Risk” described the mediocrity of our schools; in ’87, Bloom’s Closing of the American Mind described the intellectual corruption of our universities. Both times, these disasters had (of course) already happened. And Bill Bennett, secretary of education under Reagan from ’85 to ’88, repeatedly drew the nation’s attention to this cultural disaster.
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LOPEZ: Is it a bit dramatic to call what’s happened here an actual “cultural revolution”? Was there blood? Mandates?

GELERNTER: American culture had its throat slit and bled to death at our feet. Isn’t that revolutionary enough? The blood is only metaphorical, but to the 40 percent of [all] infants [who are] born to single mothers this year, the consequences will be real.

In a piddling few decades, the world’s most powerful, influential cultural establishment happened to get demolished and rebuilt from the ground up. What had been basically a Christian, patriotic, family-loving, politically moderate part of society became contemptuous of biblical religion, of patriotism, of the family, of American greatness. The American cultural elite used to resemble (more or less) the rest of America. Today it disdains the rest of America. That’s a revolution.
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LOPEZ: You write that we are “facing a terrible problem with a fairly simple solution. But the problem must be solved soon, or we lose a crucial advantage. There are still plenty of people around who were educated before the cultural revolution and remember the way we were: our schools, colleges, the press and the civilized world generally striving — with partial success at best, but fine persistence — to tell the truth. Principled conservatives and liberals remember it all fondly. They don’t want to go back in time. They don’t want to restore an old world; they want to build a new one that we can be as proud of as William DeVane was proud of America in 1957. We want a country whose national leaders are known for ‘integrity, idealism and skill’; where our college teachers are ‘learned and devoted’; where America herself is ‘the wonder and envy of other nations.’” You add: “In short, we want to go back to telling the truth.” But whose truth, Professor?

GELERNTER: Everyone’s truth. Mankind’s. Truth transcends time, place, and cultural tastes. This is a revealing, sad question for what it says about the pervasiveness of deconstruction, post-structuralism, and other games we play with the truth, all so much easier and more fun than actually finding the truth. Who does Leviticus 19 belong to, or the Ten Commandments? To mankind, and they are true for all mankind. A whole generation has been taught that truth is just a matter of taste. This is false.

Sure, we disagree about evidence. Sometimes we ask the wrong questions. We might be the jury at a murder trial, with twelve different opinions among us and no sure way of knowing who is right. But one thing we do know for sure: The truth exists, whether we can find it or not.
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GELERNTER: This was and remains a religious country. There is nothing hypothetical (barring some unthinkable catastrophe) about the survival and success of Judaism and Christianity in America. Many left-wing religious brands are out of business or flailing helplessly as they take on water, but up-to-date religion never did make sense, because religion is our lifeline and a sort of love letter to our families, our ancestors, and our better selves.

David Brooks struck a similar note when he wrote Why Our Elites Stink

Over the past half–century, a more diverse and meritocratic elite has replaced the Protestant Establishment. People are more likely to rise on the basis of grades, test scores, effort and performance.

Yet, as this meritocratic elite has taken over institutions, trust in them has plummeted. It’s not even clear that the brainy elite is doing a better job of running them than the old boys’ network. Would we say that Wall Street is working better now than it did 60 years ago? Or government? The system is more just, but the outcomes are mixed. The meritocracy has not fulfilled its promise.
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The best of the WASP elites had a stewardship mentality, that they were temporary caretakers of institutions that would span generations. They cruelly ostracized people who did not live up to their codes of gentlemanly conduct and scrupulosity. They were insular and struggled with intimacy, but they did believe in restraint, reticence and service.

Today’s elite is more talented and open but lacks a self-conscious leadership code. The language of meritocracy (how to succeed) has eclipsed the language of morality (how to be virtuous). Wall Street firms, for example, now hire on the basis of youth and brains, not experience and character. Most of their problems can be traced to this.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:57 PM | Permalink

July 17, 2012

The chief source of inequality in America today

Kay Hymowitz has been at the forefront in bringing awareness to The Marriage Gap as America's chief source of inequality. . Many other people, including me have been talking about this for years with nary a mention by the New York Times.

So it's big news when finally the New York Times acknowledges the problem in its article, Two Classes in America, Divided by 'I Do'

Estimates vary widely, but scholars have said that changes in marriage patterns — as opposed to changes in individual earnings — may account for as much as 40 percent of the growth in certain measures of inequality. Long a nation of economic extremes, the United States is also becoming a society of family haves and family have-nots, with marriage and its rewards evermore confined to the fortunate classes.

“It is the privileged Americans who are marrying, and marrying helps them stay privileged,” said Andrew Cherlin, a sociologist at Johns Hopkins University.

About 41 percent of births in the United States occur outside marriage, up sharply from 17 percent three decades ago. But equally sharp are the educational divides, according to an analysis by Child Trends, a Washington research group. Less than 10 percent of the births to college-educated women occur outside marriage, while for women with high school degrees or less the figure is nearly 60 percent.
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While many children of single mothers flourish (two of the last three presidents had mothers who were single during part of their childhood), a large body of research shows that they are more likely than similar children with married parents to experience childhood poverty, act up in class, become teenage parents and drop out of school.

Sara McLanahan, a Princeton sociologist, warns that family structure increasingly consigns children to “diverging destinies.”

John Leo comments, Choices Matter in Avoiding Poverty

The article does have one strong line about choices: "I am in this position because of decisions I made."

But no study is mentioned to support this common sense view. However, here is FactCheck.org citing a Brookings study:

"Ron Haskins, co-author of the Brookings study, which looked at Census Bureau data on a sample of Americans, wrote that the analysis found that young adults who finished high school, worked full time and got married after age 21 and before having kids "had a 2 percent chance of winding up in poverty and a 74 percent chance of winding up in the middle class (defined as earning roughly $50,000 or more). By contrast, young adults who violated all three norms had a 76 percent chance of winding up in poverty and a 7 percent chance of winding up in the middle class."


Via Rod Dreher who wrote If you read nothing else today, look at Michael Brendan Dougherty’s essay reflecting on what it was like for him to grow up as the child of a single mother, so I did and it is heart-rending.

I don’t think my behavior that one night was the sole cause, but some time after that my mother really stopped having a life outside the home. She stayed in and conducted no romances of significance. Judging from her diaries and letters, the few men she engaged in even a passing interest were not all that good to her. As a single mother, helping to take care of her parents and her son, she wasn’t in a position to make men be courtly with her. So she stopped trying. That was the sexual revolution for her. Men willing to sleep with her, but not willing to build a family.

By financial and emotional necessity, she became wrapped in a co-dependent relationship with her parents, who relied on her in their last years. And after they died and I became a teenager, our relationship in turn became more co-dependent as well. She tried being my friend as a teenager. But as I went on to college and beyond I was her entire immediate family. And as I was trying to fly the nest, she needed my presence more than I could give it. I thought she might die when I told her I was moving to Washington D.C. and she would have to make do without me, at least during the work-week.
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Did my mother live a life of dignity? Yes, of course. She fought so much for what little she had, and cared for me almost recklessly. I do not blame her for her behavior. Although, I think even Roiphe would have wished for her to have more of a life apart from her child than she did. There was an emptiness in her life as I became more independent. Having lost the social role of mother, she had few other roles to play and took worse and worse care of herself. Discarded by men, unneeded by her son. In mysterious ways, she became more immature as she aged. I’d like to think more innocent too.
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Writing checks, delivering take-out dinners, and trying to fit in 20 minutes of quality time with my empty-nester mom shook those fantasies out of me. We told ourselves all sorts of things while I was growing up, but my mother would have been happier, healthier, and more secure with a man to love, and with one who loved her. She would have had more of that if she had more children too.

So do I wish there were more social stigma, the “retrograde and ugly moral judgements” that surround decisions about sex and family? Absolutely. And yes, it would have cost her something if she indeed fell on the wrong side of those taboos. And it would cost me something to be a “bastard” if that word could still wound. People are nasty about social taboos, and I don’t sanction that. But my mother faced plenty of indignities without those moral judgements. If we got do overs, I’d be willing to risk it.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:05 PM | Permalink

Bean bags

By now you are probably all familiar with the Fast and Furious scandal which has fascinated me much as Watergate scandal when it unfolded.

The similarities are striking: the coverup by the Executive Branch of an ill-begotten program.  The principal difference being in Watergate no one died, while in the Fast and Furious scandal we have two dead American agents and maybe hundreds of Mexicans shot dead by drug cartels using weapons supplied to them by our government without telling the Mexican government.

But I was dumbfounded to learn that Border Patrol agent Brian Terry and his unit were only allowed to fire bean bags at heavily armed dope smugglers.

Bean bags!  Even worse, a new Border Patrol training video is instructing agents that when confronted with an armed shooter, they should run away and hide!

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:34 PM | Permalink

Loneliness and Friendship

It's a sign of just how lonely many people are that one woman chose to keep her the death of her companion Charles Zigler secret for 18 months.

She kept him in his chair after he died, keeping him dressed and cleaned. His body did not stink, she said. She would talk to him and watch NASCAR races on television with him.
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Chase kept Zigler's body around for more than NASCAR races, however. She's admitted to cashing his social security checks, saying "I'm probably going to prison." She's currently being investigated. When family members, with whom Zigler did not have a close relationship, tried to contact him, Chase would tell them that he was gone. She told the paper that "It's not that I'm heartless. It's just that after so many bad things happen to you, I don't know.

"I didn't want to be alone. He was the only guy who was ever nice to me."

In the New York Times, Alex Williams asks Why Is It Hard to Make Friends Over 30?

As external conditions change, it becomes tougher to meet the three conditions that sociologists since the 1950s have considered crucial to making close friends: proximity; repeated, unplanned interactions; and a setting that encourages people to let their guard down and confide in each other, said Rebecca G. Adams, a professor of sociology and gerontology at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. This is why so many people meet their lifelong friends in college, she added.
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External factors are not the only hurdle. After 30, people often experience internal shifts in how they approach friendship. Self-discovery gives way to self-knowledge, so you become pickier about whom you surround yourself with, said Marla Paul, the author of the 2004 book “The Friendship Crisis: Finding, Making, and Keeping Friends When You’re Not a Kid Anymore.” “The bar is higher than when we were younger and were willing to meet almost anyone for a margarita,” she said.

Metafilter opens the discussion, We the People ….Are Lonely  and offers links to social sites with the explicit goal of platonic matchmaking and a political take as well.

For a more political view of friendship, you might want to look for Giles Slade's forthcoming book, "The Big Disconnect." Writing in the Times Comments Section, he sees the demise of friendship as a result of late-stage capitalism: "Life has become increasingly isolated for more than a century now. This happened when we left the large extended agricultural family and community for the economic competition of our growing urban centers.

 We are increasingly encouraged to live single lives and the single life has become a growing trend. Romantic coupledom and lifelong unions are decreasing radically in favor of serial monogamy. We are alone more often than ever before.

 This is simply an economic condition of consumerism. Solitary consumers need more goods than family groups which shares its appliances, cars, housing…." And "[a]s everything in our lives becomes commodified (time, leisure and relationships) we become less generous and less skillful with others."

The loneliness that characterizes the lives of so many Americans is not  new.  From  Emailed Conversations with Four Trappist Monks

Mother Theresa, visiting the U.S. for the first time in the 70s, said she had never seen poverty like what she saw here and she meant the loneliness of Americans. The breakdown and relinquishment of shared value systems and traditions, has left individuals adrift in a private search for God and meaning. This is a terribly lonely way to live. In America, loneliness can become like the blueness of the sky. After a while, people don't think about it anymore.  Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty.

Mother Theresa knows what she is talking about. 

One of the most surprising consequences of my reversion back to the Catholic faith  after 40 years living a secular life with occasional bursts of spirituality was the number of friends I've made.  By being part of a parish community of practicing Catholics, I see many of them every Sunday and others at parish events and concerts.

At every Mass in the Confiteor each person acknowledges before God and our brothers and sisters that  'I" have greatly sinned in  what I have done and what I have failed to do and together  we ask the angels and saints and brothers and sisters to pray for us before the Lord, Our God.  In the most diverse community I have ever been in, our unity comes from the faith we share and want to grow in.  I now have several people that I can confide in and they in me.  iBeing part of a faith community over time satisfies all three conditions of friendship.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:05 PM | Permalink

July 16, 2012

Fountain of color

Something wonderful.  Natural kaleidoscope: Rainbow forms in spray at bottom of waterfall as spectacular fusion of colors hovers above the ground

As far as natural phenomenons go, it is one of the most spectacular.  These images capture the moment a waterfall in Yosemite National Park turns into a beautiful fountain of color.  A rainbow forms in the spray emitted by the California waterfall, creating a dazzling effect.

 Yosemite Rainbow Waterfall

The natural wonder was captured by photographer Justin Lee, who was overjoyed to find himself in exactly the right place at the right time.  Mr Lee, from British Columbia, Canada, was standing close to a cliff at the Tunnel View lookout when he spotted the colorful scene.  'I couldn't believe how lucky I was to see such a sight, and just had to start taking pictures straight away.'

Secondview Yosemite Rainbow Fall

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:24 PM | Permalink

July 12, 2012

Obama, "It's Not Fair"

An astonishing remark for a President who supposedly was well-schooled in history and in constitutional law.  Free birth control is more important than the Freedom of Religion guaranteed us in our Constitution and Bill of Rights for which hundreds of thousands of people have died for. 

Obama: “Not Fair” To Deny Contraception Coverage

Religious liberty is critical, President Obama says in an interview, but not as critical as providing contraceptive coverage:

Yeah. Well it’s absolutely true that religious liberty is critical. I mean that’s what our country was founded on. That’s the reason why we exempted churches, we exempted religious institutions, but we did say that big Catholic hospitals or universities who employ a lot of non-Catholics and who receive a lot of federal money, that for them to be in a position to say to a woman who works there you can’t get that from your insurance company even though the institution isn’t paying for it, that that crosses the line where that woman, she suddenly is gonna have to bear the burden and the cost of that. And that’s not fair.

Whatever one’s views on the morality of contraception….  it simply is not a part of medicine as traditionally defined. To include contraception in a health plan on the same level as any other treatment—to assign it such importance that it overrules any claim of religious liberty—is very nearly to make the bizarre suggestion that fertility is a disease.

William McGurn on What Chicago would be like with the contraceptive mandate and without Catholic Charities

On Monday, Catholic Charities of Chicago—the social-welfare arm of the archdiocese—joined other Illinois Catholic organizations to file a lawsuit against the Obama administration's mandate that would force these Catholic groups to offer free contraceptives through their insurance, in violation of church teaching. The suit's message is direct: Mr. President, your mandate will make it impossible for us to do our jobs.
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In terms of religious liberty, the new lawsuit breaks no new legal ground. What it does is offer a window into how much the decency of daily American life depends on churches using their free-exercise rights. Our nation's third-largest city provides an especially compelling example.

Chicago's Catholic Charities employs 2,700 full- and part-time staffers delivering relief aimed at helping people achieve self-sufficiency. They do everything from stocking food pantries to helping people with HIV/AIDS, resettling refugees, housing seniors, and training people for jobs.

Last year alone, that translated into 19 million meals in the form of groceries for single moms, another 2.5 million meals served to the hungry or homeless, 458,000 nights of shelter for families and children, and 897,481 hours of homemaker services for seniors. And these numbers don't include the thousands of inner-city children served by the archdiocese's Catholic schools but not on the Catholic Charities budget.

When you ask the Rev. Michael Boland, president and CEO of Catholic Charities, what percentage of those he serves are Catholic, he answers that he doesn't know, because they don't ask. The Obama administration's mandate would change that. Particularly galling, he says, is the charge that his church is engaged in a "war on women"—when 80% of those his organization serves are women and children.

As the lawsuit puts it: Enforcing the mandate could soon require Catholic Charities to "stop providing educational opportunities to non-Catholics, stop serving non-Catholics, and fire non-Catholic employees—actions that would betray their religious commitment to serving all in need without regard to religion."
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Does anyone really believe we would be better off turning over the work of Catholic Charities to states or the feds—with their higher costs, greater bureaucracy, and loss in efficiency?

In a recent report, Catholic Charities notes that it costs Medicaid (read: taxpayers) $43,000 per year for every senior in a nursing home. By contrast, Catholic Charities provides day care for seniors at $6,461 per year, home-delivered meals at $1,188 and services such as housecleaning for $4,028. Any one of these services can keep an elderly citizen in his own house instead of being sent to a nursing home (one of the great drivers of Medicaid's escalating costs).
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:07 PM | Permalink

July 11, 2012

Round-up on Oil wells, Baguettes, Atheists, Tree Rings, Wine, Fat, Doctors on Obamacare and the Eye in the Sky

Each new North Dakota oil well is equivalent to a new $8-10 million business, and they’ve got thousands

The economic impact of the increased oil production in North Dakota over the last year is the equivalent to more than 1,000 new $8-10 million small businesses being created in the state, which have created 7,000 new direct jobs in the oil business over the last year, and more than 26,000 new jobs in total throughout the state.

Via, Kottke's The fall and rise of the baguette, comes Time to Rise, how an amateur baker learned the secret of artisan bread in Paris.  Baguettes are my favorite bread ever since my junior year abroad.  Alas, I'm not in Paris, but I do buy very good baguettes at  nearby Wilson's Farm.

Over at bookofjoe are some beautiful Camouflaged Self-Portraits by Cecilia Paredes

Atheists have the lowest retention rate of any "religious" group

According to a new survey  by the Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation, Black Women are more religious than any other group

when respondents were asked how much of a role God or faith plays when they are trying to get through tough times in life – 86 percent of black women said it was very important, compared to 66 percent of white women, 79 percent of black men, and only 51 percent of white men, who turned out to be the least religious group among the respondents to the poll.

Norway is one of the richest countries in the world with no deb; in fact ,the government runs a surplus but The Norwegian 'Miracle' may be attributable to reasons you wouldn't imagine.   

Tree-rings prove climate was WARMER in Roman and Medieval times than it is now - and world has been cooling for 2,000 years

Measurements stretching back to 138BC prove that the Earth is slowly cooling due to changes in the distance between the Earth and the sun.The finding may force scientists to rethink current theories of the impact of global warming.It is the first time that researchers have been able to accurately measure trends in global temperature over the last two millennia. …  Over that time, the world has been getting cooler - and previous estimates, used as the basis for current climate science, are wrong. Their findings demonstrate that this trend involves a cooling of -0.3°C per millennium due to gradual changes to the position of the sun and an increase in the distance between the Earth and the sun. …The finding was based on semi-fossilised tree rings found in Finnish lapland.

Researchers reveal how much money you need to be happy which may be less than you think. Don't Indulge.  Be Happy.

The Great Indoors of Childhood's End. Phenomenal graphic showing the mobility of 8 year-olds over 4 generations.

In 1919, George, the great-grandfather of the family, was allowed to walk six mile by himself to go fishing at Rother Valley.  In 1950, Jack, the grandfather, was allowed to walk one mile by himself to go play in the woods nearby. Like his father, he walked to school.  In 1979, Vicky, the mother, could walk by herself to the swimming pool, half a mile away. In 2007, Ed, the son, was only able to walk to the end of the street on his own - a mere 300 yards. He was driven to school, and even to a place where he could ride his bike safely.

A glass of wine a day 'protects women against brittle bones'

Researchers in the US found the bones of women used to having one or two drinks a day several times a week grew weaker once they stopped for two weeks.  Even more surprising was that less than a day after they resumed their normal regular drinking their ‘bone turnover’ rates - a measure of density - returned to previous levels.

Fat is Officially Incurable (According to Science

The number of people who go from fat to thin, and stay there, statistically rounds down to zero.  Every study says so. No study says otherwise. None.

Obamacare is driving away doctors  according to a poll by he recent Doctor Patient Medical Association

90% say the medical system is on the WRONG TRACK
83% say they are thinking about QUITTING
61% say the system challenges their ETHICS
85% say the patient-physician relationship is in a TAILSPIN
65% say GOVERNMENT INVOLVEMENT is most to blame for current problems
72% say individual insurance mandate will NOT result in improved access care
49% say they will STOP accepting Medicaid patients
74% say they will STOP ACCEPTING Medicare patients, or leave Medicare completely
2 out of 3 say they are JUST SQUEAKING BY OR IN THE RED financially

Hubble captures  bubble of gas blasting out of dying star as its nuclear heart burns out.   The eye in the sky.

 Eye In-The Sky
Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:49 PM | Permalink

The Pathology of Privilege

I'm all for the free market, but I'm against crony capitalism when the government plays favorites with particular politically-connected businesses and industries
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Via the AEI blog, Bailouts are just the tip of the iceberg comes a wonderful interactive graphic at Mercator Net.  I just snapped a picture of it, so you should go to this link to see it in its full interactive splendor which will help you understand just how bad Cronyism is. 

Beyond Bailouts

The accompanying paper, The Pathology of Privilege lays out how tax credits, subsidies, monopolies, non-competitive bidding, loan guarantees and certain regulations distort the functioning of a  free market , threatens economic growth and undermines the legitimacy of both government and the private sector.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:00 PM | Permalink

Reframing Views of Aging

Unafraid of Aging

The signal public health achievement of the 20th century was the increase of the average human life span. Now, as that achievement helps raise the proportion of the aged around the world, what once seemed an unalloyed blessing is too often regarded as a burden — a financial burden, a health care burden, even a social burden.

“It’s nuts,” said Dr. Linda P. Fried, an epidemiologist and geriatrician who is dean of the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University.To assume defeat from what every one of us as individuals wants suggests we’re not asking the right questions.”

Findings from the science of aging, Dr. Fried said, should “reframe our understanding of the benefits and costs of aging.”
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Dr. Fried has spearheaded a large body of scientific research on aging. She spent more than two decades at Johns Hopkins University studying data collected on the health of more than 5,000 men and women 65 years and older as part of the Cardiovascular Health Study, and later mined data on 1,000 women over 65 for the university’s Women’s Health and Aging Study.
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For Dr. Fried, the potential for Experience Corps to benefit both children and older adults was not only exciting, but also a testing ground for the psychologist Erik Erikson’s principle of generatively — that one generation seeks, as it moves into old age, to help and pass knowledge on to a younger generation.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:37 AM | Permalink

Keep 32

In a couple of  years, you'll be looking for Keep 32 in the toothpaste and mouthwash you buy.

New chemical makes teeth 'cavity proof' - and could do away with dentist visits forever

A new chemical could make human teeth 'cavity proof' - and do away with the need for visits to the dentists forever.  The molecule has been called 'Keep 32' - after the 32 teeth in a human mouth.

The chemical was designed by dentists in Chile, and wipes out all the bacteria that cause cavities in just 60 seconds in tests.  The chemical could be added to any current dental care product, turning toothpaste, mouthwash and chewing gum into 'super cleansers' that could get rid of the underlying cause of tooth decay.

The chemical targets 'streptococcus mutans', the bacteria that turns the sugar in your mouth into lactic acid which erodes tooth enamel.  By exterminating the bacteria, 'Keep 32' prevents the damage to teeth before it happens.  Using a product containing the chemical keeps your teeth 'cavity proof' for several hours.

The product has been under test for seven years, and is now going into human trials.  It could be on the market in 14 to 18 months, say researchers José Córdoba from Yale University and Erich Astudillo from the University of Chile.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:32 AM | Permalink

“Never harm an innocent, never betray a friend, and never attack an unarmed foe.”

I love the idea of boys becoming knights, so I was much taken by 5 Ways Parents Can Transform Their Wild Boys Into Mature Men

When each of our boys turned seven we armed him with a handcrafted (read homemade) wooden sword and shield, and told him this story:

“In the days of old, my son, when young boys grew up to be great, brave knights, they began their journey at age seven. A child of noble birth would go to the nearest castle to be a page. A page was a servant to the brave knight. He did whatever the knight bid him to do. By and by, as the boy grew, if he showed himself to be faithful, strong and true, he would become a knight.”

With innocent, wide eyes that would flash with excitement our Tom decided that was the life for him. I agreed, but then I had to break the news to him that he would have to stay home because our house was the only castle in his Daddy’s kingdom.

Then I explained,

“A knight must know the old code of chivalry and learn to live by it.”

Among the rules of the code he memorized were:

“Never harm an innocent, never betray a friend, and never attack an unarmed foe.”

It’s downright amazing how often in a little boy’s life these rules come in handy.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:31 AM | Permalink

July 10, 2012

Since 2009, more people filed for disability than found jobs

I'm all for seeing that every hungry person gets fed, but the fact that 1 in 7 Americans now gets food stamps is very troubling because you know as well as I that they are not in any danger of starving.    More and more people are gaming the system. 

Rich Lowry explains why Food Stamps are out of control

Two-thirds of the Agriculture Department’s budget is devoted to welfare programs. The biggest is food stamps, which is now the nation’s second-largest welfare program after Medicaid. Its inexorable growth during the past decade, through good times and bad, is a testament to government’s self-generating expansion.  Asked what labor wanted, the great 20th-century union leader Samuel Gompers answered, “More.” The modern welfare state lives by the same credo. About 17 million people received food stamps back in 2000. Some 30 million received them in 2008. Roughly 46 million people receive them today. From 1 in 50 Americans on food stamps at the program’s national inception in the 1970s, 1 in 7 Americans are on them now. 

No longer do recipients have to pass an asset test or work and no one enforces the income eligibility.  Fraudulent use of food stamps is so prevalent that even the Democratic legislators in Massachusetts passed a bill that would ban the use of food stamps, called EBT debit cards, to purchase tattoos, manicures, guns, porn, body piercings,  jewelry and bail.  Governor Deval Patrick vetoed the bill because he said,  it humiliated poor people.
 
How can we let this go on when we are headed towards national insolvency?

Uncle Sam's 40-year average debt to GDP ratio is 38 percent. At the end of 2008 Washington was up to 40 percent. By the end of 2012 that number will be 73 percent, "the highest percentage since shortly after World War II," said CBO. ….These numbers disguise worse news, however. CBO does not count intra-government borrowing as part of the national debt. So when the Treasury Department "borrows" money from Social Security, CBO doesn't count it, even though cash will have to be procured -- through more borrowing -- to pay promised benefits to retirees. The full national debt already is 100 percent of GDP, compared to about 84 percent for Europe.

Arthur C. Brooks says America Already Is Europe

From the progressively of our tax code, to the percentage of GDP devoted to government, to the extent of the regulatory burden on business, most of Europe's got nothing on us…. How can we be slouching down the same debt-potholed, social-democratic road as Spain? There are three explanations, all of which point to a worrying future for America.

First, the American left is every bit as focused on growing government and equalizing incomes as the Spanish left…The second force leading us down the social-democratic road is cronyism. America possesses a full-time bipartisan political apparatus dedicated to government growth and special deals for favored individuals and sectors….Third, and most importantly, while a majority of Americans are neither leftists nor corporate cronies, they aren't paying much attention to the political system.

Looking first at Europe, Bret Stephens writes about The Entitlement State and Zombies

European leaders will not cure what ails their economies because the people who voted them into office are addicted to what ails those economies.
In other words, they are addicted to entitlements…..

it's a testament to the zombifying power of entitlements. It's sometimes said that modern Europeans aren't willing to fight for anything anymore. But that's not true: Every time an entitlement is even slightly at risk—whether it's raising the retirement age to 62 from 60 in France or tinkering with the legal architecture that guarantees jobs for life in Italy—Europeans go right to the barricades.  That's not just because they are defending a financial benefit. They are also defending a way of being and a state of mind: a conviction that it's up to somebody else to provide for their well-being; a terror of what might happen should that somebody else fail to provide.
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Observing this situation, Americans might suppose that we are still a long way from Europe. But consider this: As of the first quarter of 2010, 48.5% of Americans lived in a household that received some form of government assistance. That's up from 44.4% when the financial crisis began in 2008, and up from around 30% just 30 years ago. In the meantime, 49.5% of Americans paid no federal income tax as of 2009, up from 34.1% when George W.Bush took office.

Once ObamaCare kicks in, the percentage of takers will move north of 50% (if it hasn't already), and we will become a nation of modern zombies—or, if you prefer, democratic serfs…..Incentives matter, but not as much as habits do. And a habit of dependency, as any addict knows, will sooner drive a man to degradation than to reform.

Just last week we learned that just  80,000 found work last week while 85,000 dropped out of the labor force to collect disability payments from Social Security!

Mona Charen on The Failures of Obamanomics

From the beginning of the recovery in June 2009, more Americans have joined the ranks of the disabled (3.1 million) than have found jobs (2.6 million). Record numbers have also filed for unemployment insurance, welfare benefits, and food stamps (which one in seven Americans now receive).

The federal government has so many welfare programs that a top official of the Government Accountability Office couldn’t even provide a fixed number to a House oversight committee, nor would Patricia Dalton “hazard a guess” as to what percentage of these programs are accomplishing the purposes for which they were created. What is not in doubt is the increase in funding President Obama has requested for welfare — 42 percent over 2008 levels.
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Obama never acknowledges that his economic philosophy — enthusiastically enacted by a Democrat-dominated Congress in 2009 — not only has failed but makes no sense. By what logic does adding record numbers of people to the welfare rolls aid the economy? Fewer and fewer Americans are earning the money from which these expanded benefits are to be paid.
This can't go on and it won't.    We are headed over the fiscal cliff into free fall.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:09 AM | Permalink

July 6, 2012

The development of the human face in the womb in 30 seconds

Do you know why we have that tiny vertical groove from our nose to the outside of our upper lip?  It's called a philtrum, a word I can never remember. 

 Philtrum

What it's for, I never knew until today when I saw this amazing BBC video that shows the development of the human face in the womb.

Produced for the BBC series Inside the Human Body that was aired last year, the animation is based on scans of a developing embryo and captures the formation of the face in the womb.

The video reveals how sections of the face grow and fit together like a puzzle just three months after conception.  BBC’s Michael Mosley said: 'The three main sections of the puzzle meet in the middle of your top lip, creating the groove that is your philtrum.'

The 30-second clip strings together 3-D models of the developing face based on scans taken in the first trimester. Their formation is a complicated ballet of growth and fusion of moving plates of tissue.'  Plates of tissue that fuse at the philtrum, which can be long or short and deep or shallow, depending on a person’s genetic makeup.  The failure of those plates to fuse can cause a cleft lip or palate. And a smooth philtrum can signal disorders like fetal alcohol syndrome.

'This whole amazing process – the bits coming together to produce a recognizable human face – happens in the womb between two and three months,' said Mr Mosley. 'If it doesn’t happen then, it never will.'
Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:56 AM | Permalink

SlowTech

Are you addicted to your smartphone?  Do you find yourself constantly distracted?    Does technology fill up all the gaps in your day?

Then you should watch Joe Kraus on Slow Tech

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:41 AM | Permalink

July 5, 2012

Some Handy Household Tips

My favorite tips from  Guest Poster  Katie Berry's  Top 10 Housekeeping Tips .  Katie's blog is Housewife How-Tos

1. Make your bed every morning: it gives you forward momentum the rest of the day. The clothes on the floor will look out-of-place, the shoes by the door will beg to be put away, and you’ll find yourself happy to take care of them.

2. Tidy your bathroom when you use it. Swish water in the sink to clean away toothpaste, then grab a dry washcloth and buff away spots on the mirror. Put your makeup and things away, wet the cloth and wipe off the vanity. Suddenly, your bathroom looks presentable.

3. Keep the kitchen sink empty. A clean sink reminds family members to pick up after themselves, while a sink full of dirty dishes gives them permission to add to the mess. Clean dishes as you cook, too, and your kids won’t feel overwhelmed when asked to help with the dinner dishes.

5. Clean and prep produce the day you buy it. What’s the point of buying produce if it’s just going to rot in the fridge? Cut carrots and celery into sticks right away, slice melons into wedges, tear lettuce and wrap it in paper towels; the half-hour it takes will help you eat that produce while it’s still fresh, and may even cut down on unhealthy snacking!

10. If it only takes a minute, spend that minute NOW. Straighten the sofa pillows. Dust the coffee table. Wipe the fingerprints off the microwave. There are so many housekeeping tasks that take a minute or less, but tackling them one at a time can make a huge difference. Think you’re too busy? Set a timer to go off every 60 minutes, then tackle five tasks. By the end of the day you’ll be stunned how much better your house looks!
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:40 PM | Permalink

Updating the Declaration of Independence

Walter Russell Mead did such a wonderful job in Fixing the Declaration of Independence that I'm reprinting it in its entirety.

The unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen Post-Colonial, Multi-Racial Societies of North America

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to strengthen the political bands which have connected them with the Global Community, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the cooperative and deferential station which a careful review of the relevant peer reviewed literature suggests is most appropriate for long term win-win outcomes, a decent and rigorously equal respect to the opinions of woman- and man- and transcend requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the ever deeper union.

We hold these views to be consistent with the evolving cultural consensus, that all humans are equally obliged to the performance of certain Duties, that among these are the Participation in the Struggle against Racism, Economic Injustice, Genetically Modified Organisms, Homophobia, Nationalism and the Excessive Emission of Carbon Dioxide and Other Greenhouse Gasses. That to secure the performance of these Duties, Governments are instituted among humans, deriving their just powers from the considered Opinions of the Educated Classes, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Duty of the Enlightened and Credentialed Guardians of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute a new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect the Unquestioning Performance of their Duties by the Less Enlightened Members of the Public. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Change cannot come too quickly to suit the Convenience and the Predilections of an Enlightened Minority;  Governments long established should be changed the Moment a Sufficient Number of Well Regarded Contributors to the New York Review of Books have determined that such Change is Morally Incumbent; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that intellectuals who have never run anything in their lives are the Fittest of all Living People to remedy virtually any evil by abolishing the forms of Government, Laws and Customs of Society to which the brutish and unreflective Common People are accustomed. And when a long train of abuses and usurpations pursuing invariably the same Failed Dogmas of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy evinces a design to allow said Common People to evade all obligations to the Global Community, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide New and Expanded Regulations for the future better restriction of the Lower Orders as they deem Meet for the Purpose.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:20 PM | Permalink

July 4, 2012

Thoughts on the 4th of July

Thomas Jefferson in a letter to Henry Lee in 1825, shortly before his death. 

This was the object of the Declaration of Independence,  Not to find out new principles, or new arguments, never before thought of, not merely to say things which had never been said before; but to place before mankind the common sense of the subject, in terms so plain and firm as to command their assent, and to justify ourselves in the independent stand we are compelled to take.  Neither aiming at originality of principle or sentiment, nor yet copied from any particular and previous writing, it was intended to be an expression of the American mind, and to give to that expression the proper tone and spirit called for by the occasion.  All its authority rests then on the harmonizing sentiments of the day, whether expressed in conversation, in letters, printed essays, or in elementary books of public right, as Aristotle, Cicero, Locke, Sidney, etc.”

If we forget our basic ideals or shrug them off, we no longer deserve to be great says David Gelernter in What is the American Creed?

Without our history and culture, we have no identity.

Almost no one believes that our public schools are doing a passable job of teaching American and Western civilization. Modern humanities education starts from the bizarre premise that students must be cured of the Europe-centered, misogynist, bigoted ideas of the past. Many American children have never heard a good word for the United States, the West, Judaism or Christianity their whole lives….

We have failed a whole generation of children.
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America's creed is blessedly simple. Freedom, equality, democracy and America as the promised land, the new Jerusalem. What Thomas Jefferson had in mind when he invoked "the favor of that Being in whose hands we are, who led our fathers, as Israel of old, from their native land and planted them in a country flowing with all the necessaries and comforts of life."

Spengler says our National Anthem that Begins and Ends with a Question

There is something inherently fragile about the United States of America. France will be France and Slovakia will be Slovakia so long as French and Slovak are spoken, irrespective of their mode of government. But if Americans cease to govern themselves in a way that no people ever governed itself before, America will not be America. We are the only nation founded on an idea, rather than on blood, territory or culture. We look back at our founders with reverence. Each day we should ask ourselves whether we are good enough to keep the republic which they bequeathed us. We came close to losing it more than once. If we continue to drift into dependency, we might lose it now.
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The second question refers not only to the battle at hand, but to the destiny of the country. The question is not only whether the flag of freedom still flies over America but also whether America itself is still brave and free.

The fearful vigil through the nocturnal bombardment, the fleeting glimpse of the national colors, the moment of truth in the gathering light of dawn — these are a metaphor for the national condition. The flag enduring the enemy bombardment is only a symbol for the true subject of the poem, namely the reaction of the hearer himself. The opening “Say!” placed us at the poet’s side at dawn; the second “Say!” makes this a metaphor for the national condition. Key addresses the second “Say!” to all generations of Americans: Are you still brave enough to be free? Your national existence, implies the poet, will be a long vigil, in which America’s true character will be glimpsed sporadically in the reflection of enemy attacks.

Indeed we are at that point whether the right to religious freedom will be upheld or or a pale and wan interpretation, 'freedom of worship' will be substituted in its place.

There is no question that that liberty has been eroded.  Msgr Charles Pope in Why we need to boldly fight for religious freedom writes

the language that the First Amendment “recognizes” our freedom to freely exercise our religion. For the State does not grant us this right, God does. It is among those rights the Declaration of Independence so nobly calls “unalienable” rights and says are endowed by our Creator.  Hence, in no way can our right to religious freedom be abridged simply because a president, a congress or a director of a government agency says so. They did not give us this liberty and they cannot take it away. We will not and cannot cede to man, what God has given.

And mind you, the HHS mandate is only the latest and boldest move of what has been a steady stream of threats eroding our religious liberty. These issues affect not only Catholics, but people of many religious backgrounds. However, the Catholic Church is particularly targeted and threatened because we have stood so vocally and firmly in opposition to many aspects of the cultural revolution in America such as Abortion, Embryonic Stem Cell research, euthanasia, the increasing “genocide” against the disabled via selective abortion and pernicious prenatal screening, the Gay rights agenda, Gay “marriage,” and so forth.
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[T]he erosion of religious liberty is happening simply due to the repeated quality of the multiple and hostile legal maneuvers. The Church and other religious entities may win an individual battle in one case, only to have to face multiple appeals and similar battles in other jurisdictions.  ……He lays out some recent examples
  1. In 2009 the Baltimore City Council passed a bill regulating the speech of pro-life pregnancy centers
  2. 600 Catholic hospitals are finding themselves under increased scrutiny since they provide care in accordance with Catholic religious beliefs.
  3. The District of Columbia Government informed Catholic Charities that it would no longer be an eligible foster care and adoption partner.
  4. Last November the same thing happened in Illinois.
  5. There has also been a growing trend of government intrusion into the institutional and administrative life of the Church.
  6. Christians cannot speak publicly of their values?
  7. Grants denied on Religious Grounds

July 4th marks the End of the Fortnight for Freedom proclaimed by the United States Council of Catholic Bishops.   

The fourteen days from June 21—the vigil of the Feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More—to July 4, Independence Day, are dedicated to this “fortnight for freedom”—a great hymn of prayer for our country. Our liturgical calendar celebrates a series of great martyrs who remained faithful in the face of persecution by political power—St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More, St. John the Baptist, SS. Peter and Paul, and the First Martyrs of the Church of Rome.  Culminating on Independence Day, this special period of prayer, study, catechesis, and public action will emphasize both our Christian and American heritage of liberty.

Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput's  homily at the mass closing the Fortnight is worth reading in its entirety to understand why the Catholics Bishops are very serious in their opposition to the HHS mandate

Paul Claudel, the French poet and diplomat of the last century, once described the Christian as “a man who knows what he is doing and where he is going in a world [that] no longer [knows] the difference between good and evil, yes and no.  He is like a god standing out in a crowd of invalids . . . He alone has liberty in a world of slaves.”

Like most of the great writers of his time, Claudel was a mix of gold and clay, flaws and genius. He had a deep and brilliant Catholic faith, and when he wrote that a man “who no longer believes in God, no longer believes in anything,” he was simply reporting what he saw all around him. He spoke from a lifetime that witnessed two world wars and the rise of atheist ideologies that murdered tens of millions of innocent people using the vocabulary of science. He knew exactly where forgetting God can lead.

We Americans live in a different country, on a different continent, in a different century. And yet, in speaking of liberty, Claudel leads us to the reason we come together in worship this afternoon.

Archbishop Chaput's Five Points on Religious Freedom

1. First, religious freedom is a cornerstone of the American experience.
2. Freedom of religion is more than freedom of worship.
3. Threats against religious freedom in our country are not imaginary. They’re happening right now. They’re immediate, serious, and real.
4. Unless we work hard to keep our religious liberty, we’ll lose it.
5. Politics and the courts are important. But our religious freedom ultimately depends on the vividness of our own Christian faith–in other words, how deeply we believe it, and how honestly we live it.

 Wake-Up-America

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:07 PM | Permalink

Congratulations to CERN

How wonderful it is to see scientists break through to truth by uncovering, discovering,  what is already there and which, up to this time, was only a theory.  The Higgs Boson is the new subatomic particle confirmed by great work by a great many over 40 years.    Hearty congratulations.

Scientists discover new subatomic particle at the center of everything

A half-century scientific quest culminated early Wednesday as physicists announced the discovery of a new subatomic particle — one theorized to be so fundamental that without it, nothing could exist.

Dubbed the Higgs boson — or the “God particle,” to the chagrin of scientists — the particle is thought to create a sort of force field that permeates the universe, imbuing everything that we can see and touch with the fundamental property known as mass.
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We have a discovery,” Heuer said. “We have discovered a new particle consistent with the Higgs boson. It’s a historic milestone today.”

Applause broke out.  The scientists at CERN then stood, applauded and cheered for a full minute.  The video feed from CERN showed Peter Higgs, the University of Edinburgh physicist who theorized the existence of this exotic particle in 1964, tearing up.


 Prof Higgs 83 July32012

Moments later, Higgs stood and said, “For me, it’s really an incredible thing that happened in my lifetime.”
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“We know the Higgs is at the center of everything,” said Lykken. “This is why [Nobel Prize-winning physicist] Leon Lederman called it the God particle. It talks to all the other particles in some fundamental way.”

When the other particles that make up the stuff of the universe — protons, neutrons, electrons and so on — interact with the Higgs field, they acquire the trait known as mass. More massive objects get tangled up in the field — and hence, slowed down as they move — more than less massive objects.

One way to think of the Higgs field: It’s the water the entire universe swims in.

The CERN physicists did not see this new particle directly, because it disintegrates too quickly. Rather, they divined its existence from sifting through the debris of millions of high-energy subatomic collisions and then searching for clues that the Higgs had been there. It’s like divining the presence of an elusive snow leopard by studying thousands of criss-crossed paw prints.

But by studying these traces, the CERN physicists saw a “bump” in their data consistent with a Higgs boson.

The idea of the Higgs, or something like it, has been around since 1964, when it was first hypothesized by Peter Higgs. The Standard Model of physics had a hole in it — one that needed to be filled by a particle that imbues everything with mass. It became known as the Higgs boson — and its discovery, many scientists say, will now surely garner a Nobel Prize.

Mass is not the same thing as weight, although the two concepts are easily confused. An object has mass even in outer space. Mass is an object’s resistance to being shoved around — its inertia.

A photon, which is a light particle, has no mass because it zips through the Higgs ocean without interacting with it. Light speed is the cosmic speed limit for this reason — because nothing can have less-than-zero interaction with the Higgs field. (Mass can then be described as the quality that keeps everything from moving at the speed of light.)

Physicists will now turn their attention to understanding the new particle.

Crucially, they will want to know whether it behaves like a mass-giving Higgs, and more specifically whether it behaves like the Higgs predicted in the standard model.
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“Fine, there is something there — a resonance," says Martinus Veltman, emeritus professor at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, who shared the 1999 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on the standard model. “Now we have to find out if it has all the properties that the Higgs is supposed to have.”


The phrase "God particle" was coined by Nobel Prize-winning physicist Leon Lederman
but is used by laymen, not physicists, as an easier way of explaining how the subatomic universe works and got started.

Professor Higgs wipes a tear from his eye as fellow scientists find his 'God particle' on 'momentous day for science' - 40 years after he predicted its existence

The hunt for the Higgs boson - the ‘God particle’ that holds the universe together - is over.

Scientists at Switzerland's CERN (the European Council for Nuclear Research) announced the discovery to an audience including Professor Peter Higgs, who first suggested the existence of the particle in 1964 after he dreamed up the idea while walking in the Highlands.

Professor Higgs, 83, wiped a tear from his eye as the findings were announced, and later said: 'It's really an incredible thing that it's happened in my lifetime.'

An audience of the world's leading physicists rose in a standing ovation to celebrate the find - the culmination of a decades-long search at the Large Hadron Collider and other particle accelerators such as America's Tevatron.

The discovery is the biggest leap in physics for decades - filling in a crucial gap in our understanding of the atom. In the long term, the discovery could lead to new technologies.
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The discovery fills in the last gap in the 'standard model' of physics - proving Einstein right, and possibly leading to new technologies built on our understanding of the workings of the atom. In December last year scientists at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) - the ‘Big Bang’ particle accelerator which recreates conditions a billionth of a second after the birth of the universe - revealed they had caught a first tantalizing glimpse of the Higgs.
Since then they have sifted through vast quantities of data from innumerable high energy collisions in an effort to reduce the odds of being wrong.

A statistical standard of proof known as ‘five sigma’ is the ultimate confirmation of a discovery.

‘We observe in our data clear signs of a new particle, at the level of 5 sigma,’ said ATLAS experiment spokesperson Fabiola Gianotti, ‘but a little more time is needed to prepare these results for publication.’

‘The results are preliminary but the 5 sigma signal at around 125 GeV we’re seeing is dramatic. This is indeed a new particle. We know it must be a boson and it’s the heaviest boson ever found,’ said CMS experiment spokesperson Joe Incandela.
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Physicists needed the Higgs to plug a gaping hole in the ‘Standard Model’, the theory that explains all the particles, forces and interactions making up the universe.

So far nothing has been observed to account for mass, and the fact that some particles weigh more than others.

According to the theory, the Higgs boson is the emissary of an all-pervading ‘Higgs field’ that gives matter mass. The more particles interact with the field, the more massive they become and the heavier they are.

A Standard Model universe without the Higgs boson could not exist. Everything would behave as light does, floating freely and not combining with anything else. There would be no atoms, made from conglomerations of protons, neutrons and electrons, no ordinary matter, and no us.

Professor Paul Dauncey, Professor of Particle Physics at Imperial College London said: 'This is a major breakthrough for our understanding of the Universe…..'But no-one thinks that's really the end of the story, so it might also be the beginning of a new chapter in physics, the first step to a more fundamental view of how everything came to exist. That's why physicists are excited; we just don't know where this will lead.'
Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:06 PM | Permalink

July 2, 2012

The 'Pathologization of Life'

Katherine Sharpe, author of "Coming of Age on Zoloft"  talks about teenagers and antidepressants in The Medication Generation

Lacking a reliable conception of what it is to feel "like themselves," young people have no way to gauge the effects of the drugs on their developing personalities.
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For adolescents, who are already struggling with these questions, medication can distort the development of self-awareness. "Because teens are presented with the question of 'Who am I?', being a person who takes medication gets included in that quest," says Lara Honos-Webb, a clinical psychologist in Walnut Creek, Calif. Sometimes they do it in a negative way, she says, either by dwelling on the idea of being a person with a sickness or focusing on their inability to know whether their feelings are "real."
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Finally, there are the consequences of teaching young people to think about their problems in biomedical terms. In the past 25 years, antidepressants have helped to move us from a culture that viewed emotional problems as products of personal psychology, to one that views at least many negative feelings in terms of faulty biology—a chemical imbalance.
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When I first began to take antidepressants, I understood that doing so meant I had a chemical imbalance in my brain. I knew that, arguably, I should find that comforting—it meant that what I was going through wasn't my fault—but instead it made me feel out of control. I wanted my feelings to mean something. The idea that my deepest emotions were actually random emanations from my malfunctioning brain didn't uplift me; it just further demoralized me.
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Looking back, it seems remarkable that I had to work so hard to absorb an elementary lesson: Some things make me feel happy, other things make me feel sad. But for a long time antidepressants were giving me the opposite lesson. If I was suffering because of a glitch in my brain, it didn't make much difference what I did. For me, antidepressants had promoted a kind of emotional illiteracy. They had prevented me from noticing the reasons that I felt bad when I did and from appreciating the effects of my own choices.
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"There's been a kind of pathologization of life itself," said David Ramirez, a clinical psychologist and the head of counseling and psychological services at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania.

The 'pathologization of life' seems to be everywhere.    If you've lost someone very close to you and you're still grieving a month later, the American Psychiatric Association will classify you as depressed, Grief is not Depression.

In this post-modern world, people have lost sight of what it is to be human.

"No society has been able to abolish human sadness, no political system can deliver us from the pain of living, from our fear of death, our thirst for the absolute. It is the human condition that directs the social condition, not vice versa,"  Eugene Ionesco.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:19 PM | Permalink

Astounding Star Trails

 Startrails - Lincoln Harrison

The stunning star trails over Australia's big sky

The swirling spectacles were snapped using long exposure lenses by Australian photographer Lincoln Harrison.

The colorful spirals are the result of the earth's rotation, which gives the impression the stars are hurtling across the horizon.

 Startrails -Lincoln Harrison2

Lincoln Harrison's gallery here.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:27 AM | Permalink

The Regrets You Don't Want

 Regret

9 Things No One Wants to Regret When They’re Older

1.  Not spending enough time smiling with the people you love.
2.  Holding a grudge and never forgiving someone you care about.
3.  Fulfilling everyone else’s dreams, instead of your own.
4.  Not being honest about how you feel.
5.  Being foolish and irresponsible with your finances.
6.  Getting caught up in needless drama and negativity.
7.  Never making your own happiness a priority.
8.  Never making a difference in the lives of others.
9.  Failing because you were scared to fail.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:18 AM | Permalink

Crazy Busy and Summer Idling

Tim Kreider on The 'Busy' Trap

The present hysteria is not a necessary or inevitable condition of life; it’s something we’ve chosen, if only by our acquiescence to it. …
It’s not as if any of us wants to live like this, any more than any one person wants to be part of a traffic jam or stadium trampling or the hierarchy of cruelty in high school — it’s something we collectively force one another to do

Busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance, a hedge against emptiness; obviously your life cannot possibly be silly or trivial or meaningless if you are so busy, completely booked, in demand every hour of the day.
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Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice; it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets. The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it whole, for making unexpected connections and waiting for the wild summer lightning strikes of inspiration — it is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done. “Idle dreaming is often of the essence of what we do,” wrote Thomas Pynchon in his essay on sloth.

What better time than summer to indulge in idleness?

 Summer Idling

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:13 AM | Permalink

Round-up: Caffeine, carbs, tomatoes, a DNA vaccine to quit smoking, and detecting Parkinson's through speech

Here are a few articles from last week that caught my eye.

Caffeine boosts muscle tone in the elderly and reduces their chances of falling. The research was done on mice.  Caffeine is also linked to improved memory and thinking in the elderly.

Low-fat salad dressing is bad for you  You need fat in order to absorb the healthy carotenoids in your vegetables.

Popular low-fat diets 'will not keep the weight off and are bad for your body' claims a study by the Obesity Prevention Center at Boston Children's Hospital.  A  low carb  diet burns the most calories, about 300 more a day that a low-fat diet while those on a low-glycemic diet burned about  150 more calories a day than a low-fat diet.

Ace points out that the switch from carbs make you fat to fat intake makes you fat had almost no science whatsoever behind it yet became 'official medical science'.    For  50 years the medical establishment and the government have been telling fat people to do the exact opposite of what they should be doing.

In Wired, how a Speech Algorithm Could Detect Early Parkinson's Symptoms.  There are no known biomarkers for the disease but nearly all patients show vocal tremor and weakness.  This algorithm detects Parkinson's with nearly 99% accuracy in mid to late disease stages and raises the possibility for widespread remote diagnosis.   

A jab to quit smoking: 'DNA vaccine' will halt nicotine cravings and could even be used to stop children starting the habit.  An injection of genes programmed to make antibodies that neutralize nicotine before it reaches the brain and triggers pleasurable feelings could provide life-long protection against nicotine cravings.  Tests on mice completed, large scale human trials next; so the 'jab' , which is being developed at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York, is five years from the market.

Med Student Rescues Body Part From Airport Security    The TSA is out of control.

What Your Brain Looks Like When You Lose Self-Control

What makes store-bought tomatoes red is also what makes them tasteless.  Grow them yourself or buy heirloom tomatoes for the best taste.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:11 AM | Permalink

July 1, 2012

Spiderman Lizard

 Spidermanlizard

The Mwanza Flat Headed Agama looks just like Spiderman in this photo captured by photographer Cassio Lopez  on a trip to the Masai Mara National Park in Kenya with his wife Alessandra.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:53 PM | Permalink

Announcement -UPDATED

For the next few days, I will not be posting so that a long-delayed migration to Word Press can begin.    As soon as I am able I will be back with a new blog that aggregates posts from Business of Life and Legacy Matters on one page.  The new name, The Business of Life and Legacy. 

Your bookmarks and RSS feeds will still work for the two separate blogs, and there will be added new RSS feeds for the combined blog.

Wish me luck.

UPDATE:  Well, I'm told the database migration is completed but the new look isn't quite ready yet.  Still, I can post while people continue to work backstage.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:18 PM | Permalink