October 31, 2012

All Hallows Eve

 Halloween

Father Steve Grunow on Halloween and Catholicism

The origin and traditional customs associated with Halloween require no other explanation than that they are examples of the kinds of festivity that served as a means of celebrating the various holy days of the Catholic Liturgical Year. This includes everything from masquerades, feasting, and the associations of a given day of the year with supernatural or spiritual truths.

I would draw a distinction between the violent, macabre imagery that characterizes the modern appropriation of Halloween as a kind of secular celebration and the more traditional customs that are characteristic of a Catholic cultural ethos. The descent of Halloween into the madness of an annual fright fest is a relatively recent development, but the true substance of Halloween belongs to the Church. Halloween (or “All Hallows Eve”) is the festive precursor to the celebration of the Church’s public commemoration of All Saints Day.
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I think that the association of Halloween with paganism has much more to do with the Protestant Reformation than anything else.
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it was Catholics pulling back from their own festival that gave rise to the contemporary version of Halloween. The goulash version of the festival that we have today is in many respects a result of Catholic accommodation to a Protestant culture. And in a another strange twist in the history of Halloween, most everything that the devout Protestant detests about Halloween have become all the more pronounced as a result of their protests.
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In terms of customs that a specific to Catholicism, it is all pretty much derivative from the kinds of stuff that you find in the public festivities of Catholic culture. In this regard Mardi Gras is probably the best point of reference. We think of Mardi Gras and its attendant festivities as specific to one day, but it used to be that that kind of festival environment occurred with great frequency throughout the Church’s year. Think of all the customs associated with Halloween as a Mardi Gras before All Saints Day and I think you get a perspective in regards to all the excess and tomfoolery. The party was meant to culminate in Solemn Worship, after which one returned to the routine of life. Unfortunately, the Church has surrendered the party to the secular culture. It has happened with Halloween. It is happening with Christmas.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:22 PM | Permalink

October 30, 2012

The fundamental nature of a mother's love

A mother's love is fundamental to how a child's brain develops.

Horrifying scans that show the real impact of love: Brain of neglected child is much smaller than that of a normal three-year-old

But being a nurturing mother is not just about emotional care - it pays dividends by determining the size of your child's brain, scientists say.
Both of these images are brain scans of a two three-year-old children, but the brain on the left is considerably larger, has fewer spots and less dark areas, compared to the one on the right.

According to neurologists this sizable difference has one primary cause - the way each child was treated by their mothers.

 Mother'slove Baby-Brain-Scans

The child with the larger and more fully developed brain was looked after by its mother - she was constantly responsive to her baby, reported The Sunday Telegraph. But the child with the shrunken brain was the victim of severe neglect and abuse.

According to research reported by the newspaper, the brain on the right worryingly lacks some of the most fundamental areas present in the image on the left.

The consequences of these deficits are pronounced - the child on the left with the larger brain will be more intelligent and more likely to develop the social ability to empathize with others.  But in contrast, the child with the shrunken brain will be more likely to become addicted to drugs and involved in violent crimes, much more likely to be unemployed and to be dependent on state benefits.  The child is also more likely to develop mental and other serious health problems.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:21 AM | Permalink

Is Alzheimer's 'Brain diabetes'?

Could eating too much junk food give you Alzheimer's?

Scientists increasingly believe Alzheimer’s is linked to type 2 diabetes — so closely linked, in fact, it’s even being called ‘brain diabetes’ or type 3 diabetes.  This surprising new theory holds out hope that treatments already available for diabetes may also be able to help dementia sufferers, slowing down or stopping the progression of the disease.

When it comes to type 2 diabetes, there’s no mystery about what’s behind the soaring rates — eating too much, especially junk food that’s packed with sugar, refined carbohydrates and fat.

Raised insulin levels also affect the brain.Recent research has found this hormone plays a much more important role in the brain than once thought — protecting cells and helping to lay down memories.  The key to diabetes, and very possibly to Alzheimer’s, is insulin resistance.
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For instance, insulin resistance is being linked with formation of the plaques — deposits of damaged protein —  that are a classic sign of Alzheimer’s.
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Scientists are still finding out what happens when insulin levels in the brain rise.

‘But we know it is much more important than we thought,’ says Professor Jennie Brand-Miller, a biochemist at the University of Sydney and world authority on insulin (she helped develop the glycaemic index).  High levels of insulin could also be having a damaging effect on neurons, she says. ‘This is because insulin comes partnered with another hormone, amylin, which makes the same sort of plaques as those found in the brains of dementia patients, except in the pancreas.

'It could be contributing to plaque formation in the brain.’  High sugar levels don’t just push up insulin — they can also damage the brain directly.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:13 AM | Permalink

Health Roundup: Anti-depressants, pregnancy, herbal supplements, statins, DNA, flu shot, dental plaque

Don't give anti-depressants to women of childbearing age, warns leading psychiatrist
Drugs such as anti-depressants could have serious side effects for pregnant women or their child.  Antidepressants should be avoided by all women of childbearing age as half of pregnancies unplanned

Prozac pregnancy alert: Mothers-to-be on anti-depressants are putting babies at risk, warn scientists

The widely prescribed pills have been found drastically to raise the odds of miscarriages, premature birth, autism and life-threatening high blood pressure, they say.  Harvard researchers believe far too many women are taking the drugs during pregnancy because their GPs are not aware of the dangers.  They also suspect that drug companies are trying to play down the risks because anti-depressants are so lucrative to them. They focused on the complications linked to a group of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which include Prozac and Seroxat.

But the researchers have found that they increase the risk of a miscarriage by 17 per cent and more than double the likelihood of pre-eclampsia – high blood pressure during pregnancy – which can be fatal.  They also double the chances of the baby being born premature, or developing autism.  In addition, the researchers say, the babies are more likely to suffer from heart defects and problems with their bowels.

Combining popular supplements with prescription drugs could cause heart problems

Herbal supplements such as echinacea and St John's Wort could make medication dangerous….The research suggest combining the popular alternative remedies may cause mild-to-severe heart problems, chest pain, abdominal pain and headache, particularly among people receiving medication for problems with their central nervous or cardiovascular systems.

Those taking Warfarin, insulin, aspirin, digoxin and ticlopidine had the greatest number of reported adverse interactions with the remedies or supplements.

Dangerous herbal pills used to treat menopausal symptoms leave woman suffering liver failure.  Black cohosh to blame in 53 adverse reports in Britain, the majority involving liver problems.

Another reason to make sure you get your flu shot.  Flu jab 'can halve heart attack risk': Vaccine 'also cuts cardiac deaths and chances of stroke'

Researchers found that the jab can reduce the risk of a heart attack by 50 per cent and cardiac deaths by 40 per cent.

Cancer Patients Too Optimistic About Chemo

The finding suggests that many patients with stage IV disease misunderstand what they can expect from chemotherapy, "which could compromise their ability to make informed treatment decisions that are consonant with their preferences," the researchers argued.

Previous small studies, most confined to a single center, have suggested that patients overestimate how long they are likely to live and mistakenly think palliative chemotherapy has a curative potential.

Scientist discover why statins aren't effective in 40% of patients.

40 per cent of people taking statins are resistant to their cholesterol-lowering effect. High levels of the protein resistin in the blood could stop statins from working effectively.

What Your Doctor Isn't Telling You About Your DNA

The test results were crystal clear, and still the doctors didn’t know what to do. A sick baby whose genome was analyzed at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia turned out to possess a genetic mutation that indicated dementia would likely take root around age 40. But that lab result was completely unrelated to the reason the baby’s DNA was being tested, leaving the doctors to debate: Should they share the bad news?
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When it comes to scanning DNA or sequencing the genome — reading the entire genetic code — what to do with unanticipated results is one of the thorniest issues confronting the medical community.

Why you should see your dental hygienist at least twice a year.  The Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm found that dental plaque can increase the risk for premature death by cancer by 79%

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:07 AM | Permalink

October 26, 2012

The Shameful Disgrace of Benghazi

As Jim Treacher said last week  What’s The Big Deal About Benghazi, Anyway?

"Come on, you guys. It’s only an American ambassador and three other Americans who served their country, murdered by Islamic terrorists on the anniversary of 9/11. In a country our president invaded unilaterally and, arguably, illegally. And our government only ignored the copious warnings of an impending terrorist attack on the consulate in Benghazi, and actually reduced security there, despite the since-murdered ambassador’s entreaties. And our president has only been lying about it for over a month because it reflects very badly on his self-evidently disastrous foreign policy. It’s not like it was a hotel break-in.”

I was in law school when Watergate unfolded and I would spend hours every day pouring over news articles and testimony because I could not believe an American president and his administration would act so deceitfully.  But Watergate was nothing compared to the disgrace of Benghazi and the deceit and dissembling of this Administration across the board and from the top down.  In Watergate nobody died.  In Benghazi four Americans were killed and every person serving in the military or the diplomatic services must now be asking themselves whether anyone would come to their help if they were in trouble.  What an example of breach of trust this Administration leaves.  Anyone who knows anything about this story is furious.    But only now are most Americans learning about just how deceitful and shameful this Administration has been.

CIA operators were denied request for help during Benghazi attack, sources say  Jennnifer Griffin reports.

Fox News has learned from sources who were on the ground in Benghazi that an urgent request from the CIA annex for military back-up during the attack on the U.S. consulate and subsequent attack several hours later was denied by U.S. officials -- who also told the CIA operators twice to "stand down" rather than help the ambassador's team when shots were heard at approximately 9:40 p.m. in Benghazi on Sept. 11.

Three urgent requests for military backup were denied.  CIA operators were ordered to stand down.
Who issued the order to stand down and deny the requests for help?  Who has the authority? The Defense Secretary?  The President?  The Chief of Staffs?

AC-130U Gunship was On-Scene in Benghazi, Obama Admin Refused to Let It Fire

The security officer had a laser on the target that was firing and repeatedly requested back-up support from a Specter gunship, which is commonly used by U.S. Special Operations forces to provide support to Special Operations teams on the ground involved in intense firefights. The fighting at the CIA annex went on for more than four hours — enough time for any planes based in Sigonella Air base, just 480 miles away, to arrive. Fox News has also learned that two separate Tier One Special operations forces were told to wait, among them Delta Force operators.

There were two AC-130Us deployed to Libya in March as part of Operation Unified Protector….The AC-130U was purpose-built for a select number of specific mission types, including point-defense against enemy attack. It was literally built for the kind of mission it could have engaged in over Benghazi, if the administration had let it fire. As the excerpt above clearly shows, we had assets on the ground “painting” the targets with the laser.

US Seals killed in attack disobeyed orders in heroic effort to save Stevens and Smith

Woods and at least two others ignored those orders and made their way to the Consulate which at that point was on fire. Shots were exchanged. The quick reaction force from the CIA annex evacuated those who remained at the Consulate and Sean Smith, who had been killed in the initial attack. They could not find the ambassador and returned to the CIA annex at about midnight.
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In fact, at least one member of the team was on the roof of the annex manning a heavy machine gun when mortars were fired at the CIA compound. The security officer had a laser on the target that was firing and repeatedly requested back-up support from a Specter gunship, which is commonly used by U.S. Special Operations forces to provide support to Special Operations teams on the ground involved in intense firefights. The fighting at the CIA annex went on for more than four hours -- enough time for any planes based in Sigonella Air base, just 480 miles away, to arrive. Fox News has also learned that two separate Tier One Special operations forces were told to wait, among them Delta Force operators.

Charles Woods, the father of slain Navy Seal Tyron Woods  responds to "Stand down" order:

That is cowardice by the people that issued that order. And our country is not a country of cowards. Our country is the greatest nation on Earth. And what we need to do is we need to raise up a generation of American heroes just like Ty who is an American hero. But in order to do that, we need to raise up a generation that has not just physical strength but moral strength.  We do not need another generation of liars who lack moral strength.

What Joe Biden said to this same father who just lost his hero son at the ceremony for the Libya victims at Andrews Air Force Base, “Did your son always have balls the size of cue balls?”    Don't ever say this to a grieving father.

Charles Woods'  encounter with President Obama at the sad ceremony to meet the returning coffins.

“When [Obama] came over to our little area” at Andrew Air Force Base, says Woods, “he kind of just mumbled, you know, ‘I’m sorry.’ His face was looking at me, but his eyes were looking over my shoulder like he could not look me in the eye. And it was not a sincere, ‘I’m really sorry, you know, that your son died,’ but it was totally insincere, more of whining type, ‘I’m sorry.’”

Woods says that shaking President Obama’s hands at his son’s memorial service was “like shaking hands with a dead fish.”

“It just didn’t feel right,” he says of his encounter with the commander in chief. “And now that it’s coming out that apparently the White House situation room was watching our people die in real time, as this was happening,”

Hilary Clinton told Charles Woods, the U.S. would “make sure that the person who made that film is arrested and prosecuted.

Apparently even the State Department had a live stream and was aware of their calls for help. My son wasn’t even there. He was at a safe house about a mile away. He got the distress call; he heard them crying for help; that’s why he and Glen risked their lives to go that extra mile just to take care of the situation. And I’m sure that wasn’t the only one received that distress call—you know, come save our lives … I’m sure that other people in the military, in the State Department, in the White House, received that same call that he would receive.

Father of Slain SEAL: Who Made the Decision Not to Save My Son?

Did Obama Watch While They Fought for Their Lives?

a drone ordered in from Tripoli sent back images of the attack in real time.  The battle was sent on streaming video direct to the Situation Room in the White House.  Within two hours, emails from Benghazi reported that Al Qaeda in Libya was claiming responsibility.
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Former Assistant Defense Secretary Bing West …At 5 p.m., President Obama met with Vice President Biden and Secretary of Defense Panetta in the Oval Office. The U.S. military base in Sigonella, Sicily, was 480 miles away from Benghazi. Stationed at Sigonella were Special Operations Forces, transport aircraft, and attack aircraft - a much more formidable force than 22 men from the embassy….
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Military sources tell CBS News that resources at the three bases include fighter jets and Specter AC-130 gunships, which the sources say can be extremely effective in flying in and buzzing a crowd to disperse it…. Add to the controversy the fact that the last two Americans didn't die until more than six hours into the attack, and the question of U.S. military help becomes very important.
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Everything was sacrificed to the goal of acting as if the jihadi war against America was inconsequential. Libya was to be 'normalized.' Not by doing the actual work of stabilizing the country, but by our Administration refusing to station Marines there to protect our ambassador.  The attack on our embassy was normalized by treating it like a spontaneous demonstration, nothing you would scramble a Specter AC-130 for.

"No real time information" said Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in an attempt to explain why no US forces of any kind were deployed to help the trapped Americans despite live reports from the Annex one mile away from the fighting and the drone overhead.

Report :  Hillary Clinton asked for more security at Benghazi and the Obama White House denied that request   According to Edward Klein, author the The Amateur, a biography of Obama, who was told that by lawyers close to Clinton.

Hillary, the President, Ambassador Rice and Jay Carney all  blamed the YouTube video. 

First, Aid the Living

Our diplomats fought for seven hours without any aid from outside the country. Four Americans died while the Obama national-security team and our military passively watched and listened. The administration is being criticized for ignoring security needs before the attack and for falsely attributing the assault to a mob. But the most severe failure has gone unnoticed: namely, a failure to aid the living.
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It is bewildering that no U.S. aircraft ever came to the aid of the defenders. If even one F18 had been on station, it would have detected the location of hostiles firing at night and deterred and attacked the mortar sites. For our top leadership, with all the technological and military tools at their disposal, to have done nothing for seven hours was a joint civilian and military failure of initiative and nerve.

State Department emails from day of Libya attack show that militant group Ansar al-Sharia had claimed responsibility.

Fox News was told that an estimated 300 to 400 national security figures received these emails in real time almost as the raid was playing out and concluding. People who received these emails work directly under the nation’s top national security, military and diplomatic officials.

It knew what Ansar Al-Sharia was all about -- to "impose Sharia," in the words of Ansar Al-Sharia's "Commander" Mohammad Ali al-Zahawi.

Al Qaeda-linked jihadists helped incite 9/11 Cairo protest in The Long War Journal

Several al Qaeda-linked jihadists helped incite the protest outside the US embassy in Cairo on Sept. 11. The jihadists include senior members of Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ), a group that merged with al Qaeda, and a senior Gamaa Islamiyya (IG) leader who has longstanding ties to al Qaeda's senior leadership...The Wall Street Journal has reported that US intelligence officials think Mohammed al Zawahiri put one of the suspects responsible for the terrorist attack in Benghazi in touch with his brother.

On Real Clear Politics, the video Bret Baier Special On Libya: "Death And Deceit In Benghazi".  It's going to be updated this weekend.

Robert Spencer on The Real Lesson of Benghazi

Speaking about the Libyan revolution in March 2011, Obama warmly praised the dawning in Libya of “the rights of peaceful assembly, free speech, and the ability of the Libyan people to determine their own destiny.”  After providing military aid to the anti-Gaddafi rebels despite evidence of their al-Qaeda links, the administration–whether the call really came from the White House or the State Department or both–had every reason to ignore the request from Benghazi for more security, and to pretend that the whole thing was just a spontaneous uprising over a video, not the carefully planned September 11 jihad attack that it proved to be.
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But the White House and State Department not only do not acknowledge this fact–they have done all they can to deny and obfuscate it. ... indeed, Obama administration officials are expressly forbidden to link Islam with terrorism, as if Islamic terrorists weren’t busy linking the two on a daily basis. The errors of analysis and wrong decisions that cost lives all follow from this initial false premise.
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About six months ago a State Department official contacted me privately and told me about State employees who had been assigned to study the life of Muhammad, with an eye toward putting together a positive portrayal of the prophet of Islam that would presumably win more Muslim hearts and minds by going out with the United States government’s seal of approval.  The officials who began studying the earliest Muslim sources about Muhammad, however, were astonished as they came face-to-face not with a seventh-century Gandhi, but with a figure of war and rapine who appeared to justify the worst allegations of the “Islamophobes” that the Obama administration has so roundly excoriated. Needless to say, the puff piece on Muhammad did not appear.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:35 PM | Permalink

Friday Roundup of Interesting Links

Gallup Special Report.Only  3.4% of U.S. Adults Identify as LGBT

This is the largest single study of the distribution of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) population in the U.S. on record.

Mitt loves peanut butter and honey sandwiches, but peanut butter and pickles?  Dwight Garner in the New York Times says the peanut butter and pickle sandwich is one of those unlikely pairings that shouldn’t work, but does

“The first time I tried one, I had this incredible sense of tasting something really new for the first time,” Mr. Zalben said. “I couldn’t get it out of my head. I had one every day for a week.”

 Peanutbutter+Pickles

When distraction works.  Virtual reality experiment finds video game works better on wounded soldiers' pain than anesthetic.  They played SnowWorld.

In a study published in 2007 Sam Sharar, an anesthesiology professor at Washington University, said the therapy could be as effective at controlling pain as an intravenous dose of hydromorphone - a potent derivate of morphine.

The crowd psychology of Grand Central Station

New York's Grand Central Terminal, as it currently stands today, was built between 1903 and 1913. But it is the third Grand Central. …Turns out, the rapid reconfiguration of Grand Central had a lot to do with crowd control — figuring out how to use architecture to make the unruly masses a little more ruly.

London Telegraph: The assassination of President Kennedy points to hard-line Stalinists in the KGB  incapable of taking the humiliation of Cuba lying down. They conspired behind the back of Nikita Khrushchev, the Soviet premier, to take revenge on Kennedy.

Predictable consequence. 'We won’t advise the state again': Scientists outraged at Italian seismologists' jailing

The head of Italy’s disaster evaluation body has quit in protest against the conviction of seven of his colleagues for failing to warn people of a deadly earthquake in 2009. Scientists all over the world have expressed outrage at the verdict.

Hacking the President’s DNA

The U.S. government is surreptitiously collecting the DNA of world leaders, and is reportedly protecting that of Barack Obama. Decoded, these genetic blueprints could provide compromising information. In the not-too-distant future, they may provide something more as well—the basis for the creation of personalized bioweapons that could take down a president and leave no trace.

Boeing Now Has A Missile That Destroys Only Electronics And Leaves All Else Intact

The Counter-Electronics High Power Microwave Advanced Missile Project (CHAMP), led by Boeing's Phantom works, promised to change the face of contemporary warfare, and its test was a complete success.

CHAMP flew over the Utah Test and Training Range last Tuesday, discharging a burst of High Power Microwaves onto the test site and brought down the compound's entire spectrum of electronic systems, apparently without producing any other damage at all. Even the camera recording the test was shut down.  Struggling to contain his enthusiasm, Boeing's Keith Coleman says, "We hit every target we wanted to. Today we made science fiction into science fact."

 Morpho Butterfly

True Blue Stands Out in an Earthy Crowd

For the French Fauvist painter and color gourmand Raoul Dufy, blue was the only color with enough strength of character to remain blue “in all its tones.” Darkened red looks brown and whitened red turns pink, Dufy said, while yellow blackens with shading and fades away in the light. But blue can be brightened or dimmed, the artist said, and “it will always stay blue.”
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“Blue pigments played an outstanding role in human development,” said Heinz Berke, an emeritus professor of chemistry at the University of Zurich. For some cultures, he said, they were as valuable as gold……blue love is a global affair. Ask people their favorite color, and in most parts of the world roughly half will say blue, a figure three to four times the support accorded common second-place finishers like purple or green.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:37 PM | Permalink

October 25, 2012

Bankruptcy of existing policies

Did Economists Doom Obama's Presidency?  by Samuel Staley

If President Obama loses the election in November, economists may well end up taking a share of the blame - for good reason. Their models misled him into applying ambitious stimulus therapies to jump start the economy and boost employment that haven't worked, vastly undermining his re-election prospects.
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In short, in what is perhaps the most important exercise in economic policy modeling since the Great Depression, two of the nation's foremost economists failed. And the failure was an epic one. They predicted that unemployment would peak at 8 percent after the stimulus. In fact it peaked at 9.9 percent. So it's unclear whether trillions of dollars of stimulus spending bought the country any reduction in unemployment whatsoever. It's also hard to escape the conclusion that it would have been better to do nothing and let the economy run its course.   Indeed, this failure is particularly notable because Romer and Bernstein's effort was well within accepted mainstream practice of the profession, not an exception.

Walter Russell Mead, "The overwhelming policy failures of modern American liberalism are undermining the basic viability of three of our greatest states"

Three states form the base of Democratic political power in the United States: California, New York and Illinois. All three states are locked in an accelerating economic, demographic and social decline; all three hope that they can stave off looming disaster at home by exporting the policies that have ruined them to the rest of the country.

Mary Williams Walsh, a talented reporter who is doing much to sustain the luster of the New York Times brand these days, has a must-read piece on the mess that is Illinois, and it is a compelling description of the misery and ruin that well-intentioned liberals combined with aggressive public sector labor unions inflict on the poor they ostensibly want to serve.

Narcissism, Consumerism And The End Of Growth  using Japan as the "bellwether of economic stagnation and social recession.

What we're seeing in Japan is the confluence of three dynamics: definancialization, the demise of growth-positive demographics and the devolution of the consumerist model of endless "demand" and "growth."  Japan is the leading-edge of the crumbling model of advanced neoliberal capitalism: that consumerist excess creates wealth, prosperity and happiness.

What consumerist excess actually creates is alienation, social atomization, narcissism, and a profound contradiction at the heart of the consumerist-dependent model of "growth": the narcissism that powers consumerist lust and identity is at odds with the demands of the workplace that generates the income needed to consume.
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Narcissism is the result of the consumerist society's relentless focus on the essential project of consumerism, which is "the only self that is real is the self that is purchased and projected."….[According to Christopher Lasch] the ontological essence of narcissism: a fear of the emptiness that lies at the very core of consumerism.
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"Personal gratification" is the driver of narcissism and consumerism, which are two sides of the same coin. Consumerist marketing glorifies the "projected self" as the "true self," encouraging self-absorption even as it erodes authentic identity, self-esteem and the resilience which enables emotional growth--the essential characteristic of adulthood.  Personal gratification is of a piece with self-absorption, fragile self-esteem and an identity that is overly dependent on consumerist signifiers and the approval of others.
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The ultimate contradiction in this debt-consumption version of capitalism is this: how can an economy have "endless expansion and growth" when pay and opportunities for secure, high-paying jobs are both relentlessly declining? It cannot.  Financialization, consumerist narcissism and the end of growth are inextricably linked.
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We need a third way that offers people work, resilience and authentic meaning. In my view, that cannot come from the Central State or the global corporate workplace: it can only come from a relocalized economy in revitalized communities

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:33 PM | Permalink

Awe, time out, banning Christian groups and why do Catholic high school graduates make way more money than everyone else

How Awe Can Change Your Life

Awe is a beautiful little emotion, but one that is not very well understood. In the field of psychology, where emotions are academically studied, awe has received very little attention. In a way, it makes sense. Awe, which Harvard psychiatrist George Vaillant calls, “the most ‘spiritual’ of the positive emotions,” is not exactly suited to our secular times. But awe may soon make a comeback as psychologists discover all of the beneficial effects it can have on our well-being.

Awe is a special and little-understood emotion that operates on the fringes of human experience. Triggered by an intense event — like being in the presence of stunning beauty, witnessing an incredible feat, or feeling the touch of the divine — awe leads to the recognition that there is something much greater than the self out there, something vast and unknowable.

Why young people are setting aside time for faith

While the statistics paint a picture of waning affiliation and spiritual apathy, our view from the front lines is different. As leaders working with young people from many faiths, we are witnessing the beginnings of a religious renaissance through an embrace of the Sabbath. And for a stressed-out, anxious generation seeking strength and solace, it’s just in time.

Tufts University bans Christian Student Group for requiring leaders to embrace 'basic biblical truths of Christianity'.

There’s a troubling pattern developing on college campuses across America, as universities are increasingly preventing Christian campus groups from requiring that their leaders be practicing believers. If these clubs fail to comply with so-called “non-discrimination policies,” they are often de-legitimized and banned from official-recognition.
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While non-discrimination policies are well-intentioned, the notion that a Christian group would be forced to allow leaders who don’t embrace the faith is relatively silly. Similarly, a gay rights group being forced to allow someone opposed to same-sex marriage to lead would also be problematic.

From Business Insider, Catholic High School Graduates Make Way More Money Than Everyone Else

private high school graduates earn 2.6 percent more than their public school counterparts. This increase, however, is not statistically significant.
In contrast, Catholic high school graduates earn a statistically significant 13.6 percent wage premium…This result could indicate that there are significant differences in unquantifiable aspects of school quality that could affect earnings later in life.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:59 AM | Permalink

The decline of academia and the rise of homeschooling

Bruce Bawer interviewed in the Daily Caller  about his new book,The Victims’ Revolution: The Rise of Identity Studies and the Closing of the Liberal Mind.

What is the Victims’ Revolution?

Education in the humanities used to mean learning about, and learning to appreciate, the glories of Western civilization – accomplishments that were made possible, in large part, by capitalism and individualism. Now, too often, it means being taught to despise Western capitalism and individualism, and to see Western civilization as a plot by white males to oppress members of other groups. Students are trained to see everything around them in terms of the power of oppressor groups over victim groups. They’re trained to cultivate resentment and to pour out ideological, jargon-heavy rhetoric about revolution. They think they’re having their eyes opened about the world but all they’re doing is being turned into robots parroting old, worn-out Marxist slogans.
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What is wrong with “identity studies” – i.e. women’s studies, black studies, queer studies, etc.? Why aren’t they real academic disciplines?

Identity studies sum up everything that’s wrong with the humanities today. They’re about nothing other than group identity, group oppression, and group grievance. Instead of engaging in objective scholarly study of, say, black American history or women’s literature, these departments are boosters for everything having to do with the group in question. It’s all slogans. Kids don’t learn anything other than to think of themselves as having been wronged by capitalism, by the West, by America, by white men. College should bring together young people from different backgrounds so they can learn to get along, respect one another, and appreciate all that they have in common. Instead these pernicious “disciplines” encourage them to pigeonhole themselves and others and to see only differences.

From Minding the Campus  How the Colleges Skew U.S. History

The UCLA History Department offerings 2012

this semester the UCLA department website lists 16 courses in U.S. history since 1789. No courses deal with the Early Republic or the early 19th century. The only coverage of the Civil War comes in the form of small portions of thematic courses dealing either with race or gender (Slavery: Narrative, Novel, and Film, History of Women in the U.S., 1860-1980).It offers no classes on U.S. military history or U.S. constitutional history. The only standard survey comes in the class dealing with the New Deal, World War II, and the immediate postwar period.

Look what the department emphasizes. A quarter of the classes deal with race. Another two courses focus on ethnicity--including Asian-American cuisine; another two focus on gender. Fifteen or twenty years ago, students might encounter these courses in an ethnic studies department, not a history department at one of the nation's leading public universities.

Homeschoolers The Last Radicals

There is exactly one authentically radical social movement of any real significance in the United States, and it is not Occupy, the Tea Party, or the Ron Paul faction. It is homeschoolers, who, by the simple act of instructing their children at home, pose an intellectual, moral, and political challenge to the government-monopoly schools, which are one of our most fundamental institutions and one of our most dysfunctional. Like all radical movements, homeschoolers drive the establishment bats.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:54 AM | Permalink

A growing consensus that Inflammation, not cholesterol, causes heart disease

Dr. Stephen Sinatra, a cardiologist with 30 years of experience has written the Great Cholesterol Myth and says

"You know cholesterol is found at the scene of the crime for heart disease, but it's not the perpetrator.  I was doing angiograms on people with 150, who had far advanced heart disease," he recalled. "And the converse, I was doing angiograms on somebody with cholesterol of 280 and they had no heart disease."

If cholesterol doesn't cause heart disease, what does? Sinatra is among a growing number of physicians who point the finger at inflammation, which is caused by a number of things. Eating too much sugar is at the top of the list.
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Sinatra believes statins are far too over-prescribed… for many statin users, the risks outweigh the gains.

"The side effects of statins are grossly under-reported," he said.

Muscle pain and fatigue are two of the key complaints he hears from statin users.  "These are statin side-effects," he concluded. "However, a lot of the doctors and patients think they're getting older. They're not getting older, these are statin side effects."

Patients over 70 years old are especially vulnerable.  "They can't remember names. They can't remember where they put their glasses or keys. They forget sometimes who they are," Sinatra explained.
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"Cholesterol is sort of your friend. Sugar is your foe. It's the villain. It's your enemy," he said. Sugar damages arteries, increases blood pressure, and ages your organs.

In addition to avoiding foods that contain a sugar, reducing inflammation also involves avoiding foods that turn into sugar once you eat them.
These are called refined carbohydrates…the "white" foods, such as white bread, white bagels, white hot dog or hamburger buns, white pasta, white rice, white tortillas, and so forth.
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In place of all that sugar, Sinatra advises replacing it with vegetables and fats. He also highly recommends eating unsaturated fats such as nuts, avocados, fish, and olive oil.  He touts saturated fats like butter, unprocessed meat (the kind you get in the meat department, not the deli) and one of his favorites: coconut oil.
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Avoid trans fats like the plague. "I call trans fats unguided missiles that really cause enormous inflammation in the blood vessels," Sinatra said.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:49 AM | Permalink

October 23, 2012

"Tumbleweed" ball detonates land mines in its path

The brainchild of a designer who fled war-torn Afghanistan when he was 14, the "tumbleweed" is designed to be blown around in the wind detonating land mines in its path.

 Tumbleweed,-Landmine-Detonator

Can this giant ball which gets blown around in the wind rid the world of land mines?

Made simply of bamboo, iron and plastic, each one is relatively cheap to produce and can clear up to four bombs before being destroyed themselves. 

Each device, called Mine Kafon, will have a GPS tracking device linked to a website to show which areas have been cleared. 

They are the brainchild of Massoud Hassani, who at the age of 14 fled war-torn Afghanistan, where there are more land mines than people.  He travelled with smugglers to Pakistan and Russian before settling down in Holland to study at the Design Academy Eindhoven.

Mr Hassani said he had the idea for his invention after making miniature models during his childhood.  He and his brother would make their own toys, small wind-powered cylinders which would often get blown into a minefield, where they could not get them back.

He said: 'Me and my brother Mahmud, we played every day on the fields surrounded with the highest mountains in our neighborhood.  There was always a strong wind waving towards the mountains. While we were racing against each other, our small miniatures rolled way to fast and too far. Mostly they landed in areas where we were not allowed to step a foot on. Those areas were very dangerous because of the land mines. It was full of them. I still remember those friends that we have lost and saw them getting injured.'

He said: 'I thought "I am going to make these objects 20 times bigger and heavier. There are 30 million land mines in Afghanistan and 26 million people, so that’s more mines than people.'

Mr Hassani has teamed up with the Dutch Explosive Disposal Ordnance Unit to test it in the Moroccan desert, but in its present form they say it is not suitable for military purposes.  Undeterred, Mr Hassani is now looking for a solution. 'I hope they can help me build these things,' he said.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:34 PM | Permalink

Bits and pieces: Texas postman and Hermes, Noc the whale, Republicans more knowledgeable, writing that works, a humble politician

How a Texas Postman Became an Hermes Designer

Oliver is 70 years old. He wears his mustache trim and neat. And though he's one of the most important living African-American painters, he just doesn't understand what the fuss is about. Never mind that he's the only American artist ever to design a scarf for Hermès — which he's done 16 times.
Again, he's also an employee of the U.S. Postal Service.

"He doesn't believe he can make a living as a painter," Sheeler says. "He doesn't even believe that he's that good — those are his words. He just likes to paint.    He works overnight at the post office, comes home, paints a little bit, takes a nap and then does it all over again. He survives on two to three hours of sleep. Eats a sandwich on his break at the post office. He gets a 30-minute break, and then he goes back to sorting mail."

Pew Research: Republicans More Knowledgeable Than Democrats
In a scientific survey of 1,168 adults conducted during September and October of last year, respondents were asked not only multiple-choice questions, but also queries using maps, photographs and symbols.  Among other subjects, participants identified international leaders, cabinet members, Supreme Court justices, nations on a world map, the current unemployment and poverty rates and war casualty totals.

In a 2010 Pew survey, Republicans outperformed Democrats on 10 of 12 questions, with one tie and Democrats outperforming Republicans on just 1 of the 12.  In the latest survey, however, Republicans outperformed Democrats on every single one of 19 questions.

On YouTube, Marriage=Biology (Not Bigotry).  The best argument I've ever heard for the traditional definition of marriage.  Don't miss it.

Noc the whale who imitated a human voice

The male named Noc had a distinctly human-like voice, much to the surprise of scientists who previously thought whales typically produce sounds in a manner that is wholly different from humans.  Noc died five years ago after 30 years of living amongst dolphins and other white whales and being in contact with humans at the National Marine Mammal Foundation based in San Diego in California. the incredible recordings of the whale were revealed for the first time as the team published their findings.

However, the incredible recordings of the whale were revealed for the first time as the team published their findings. Sam Ridgway, who led the study, said: 'Our observations suggest that the whale had to modify its vocal mechanics in order to make the speech-like sounds. 'Such obvious effort suggests motivation for contact.'
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The study 'Spontaneous human speech mimicry by a cetacean' are published in the latest issue of Current Biology.

In the Atlantic, The Writing Revolution

For years, nothing seemed capable of turning around New Dorp High School’s dismal performance—not firing bad teachers, not flashy education technology, not after-school programs. So, faced with closure, the school’s principal went all-in on a very specific curriculum reform, placing an overwhelming focus on teaching the basics of analytic writing, every day, in virtually every class. What followed was an extraordinary blossoming of student potential, across nearly every subject—one that has made New Dorp a model for educational reform.
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A lightbulb, says Simmons, went on in her head. These 14- and 15-year-olds didn’t know how to use some basic parts of speech. With such grammatical gaps, it was a wonder they learned as much as they did. “Yes, they could read simple sentences,” but works like the Gettysburg Address were beyond them—not because they were too lazy to look up words they didn’t know, but because “they were missing a crucial understanding of how language works. They didn’t understand that the key information in a sentence doesn’t always come at the beginning of that sentence.”
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The Hochman Program, as it is sometimes called, would not be un­familiar to nuns who taught in Catholic schools circa 1950. Children do not have to “catch” a single thing. They are explicitly taught how to turn ideas into simple sentences, and how to construct complex sentences from simple ones by supplying the answer to three prompts—but, because, and so. They are instructed on how to use appositive clauses to vary the way their sentences begin. Later on, they are taught how to recognize sentence fragments, how to pull the main idea from a paragraph, and how to form a main idea on their own. It is, at least initially, a rigid, unswerving formula. “I prefer recipe,” Hochman says, “but formula? Yes! Okay!”

5 Life Advantages You Acquire from Experiencing Poverty

1) Once things have been really bad, you’re not as frightened of tough times and risks.
5) Being poor makes you work hard not to be destitute again.

The Anchoress on George McGovern on Realities of Market Economy and Sweeping Legislation

unlike the pols of today, he wasn’t afraid to say there was something he didn’t know, an answer he didn’t have and even something he may have gotten wrong. Such humility is unthinkable in 21st century politicking.
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In retrospect, I wish I had known more about the hazards and difficulties of such a business, especially during a recession of the kind that hit New England just as I was acquiring the inn’s 43-year leasehold. I also wish that during the years I was in public office, I had had this firsthand experience about the difficulties business people face every day. That knowledge would have made me a better U.S. senator and a more understanding presidential contender.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:25 PM | Permalink

The cost of "free birth control" under Obamacare

Of course free isn't free; in fact, free is expensive which is why so many health benefits for women will be CUT by Obamacare.

ObamaCare v. women

the US Preventive Services Task Force, will evaluate preventive health services like contraception and decide which benefits must be part of the coverage that insurance plans offer — indeed, which services must be covered in full, with no co-pays.

Dozens of screening tests and treatments that directly benefit women are likely to be dropped from any coverage.

Here’s a sampling of what the Preventive Services Task Force dings: chlamydia screening in most women over 25; cervical-cancer screening in those over 65; breast-cancer screening using digital mammography or MRI instead of the traditional plain film.

Screening for ovarian cancer and the genes that raise a women’s risk of breast cancer also don’t make the cut. Same for clinical breast exams in women older than 40.
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Americans first became familiar with the Preventive Services Task Force in November 2009, when it made the controversial decision to advocate that women ages 40-49 shouldn’t get routine mammograms. More recently, it rebuffed routine use of tests for detecting the viruses that can cause cervical cancer. And now it’s calling the shots for what benefits must be included and what can be nixed from our plans.

This is what happens when benefits are defined in Washington, rather than by a marketplace of competing plans that cater to patient preferences. This is what happens when you put an insular committee of academics in charge, let them meet in secret and devise their own rules — and insulate them from appeals or lawsuits.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:09 PM | Permalink

Health Round-up: Scared to death, exercise beats crosswords, hormone replacement therapy still too risky

I've been touting fish oil since I began this blog, but I never imagined fish oil as a potential treatment for traumatic brain injury, but it is. Fish oil helped save our son

It was March 2010. Bobby Ghassemi had been driving fast along a winding road in Virginia when his car barreled off the road. By the time paramedics arrived, he was in a coma and barely alive. "For all intents and purposes, he was dead on the scene," said Dr. Michael Lewis, a physician who later advised the family. "I'm looking at the reports, and they report a Glasgow Coma Score of 3. A brick or a piece of wood has a Glasgow Coma Score of 3. It's dead."
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That's the theory behind using omega-3 fatty acids to heal brain injury. The human brain, which itself is a fatty mass, is about 30% composed of omega-3 fatty acids, according to Lewis.  In his words, high doses of omega-3 fatty acids, since they mirror what is already in the brain, could facilitate the brain's own natural healing process.

"It really gets down to what I would call my brick wall analogy," Lewis said. "If you have a brick wall and it gets damaged, wouldn't you want to use bricks to repair the wall? And omega-3 fatty acids are literally the bricks of the cell wall in the brain."

Even fit people can be suddenly scared to death.  It's called stress cardiomyopathy, rare but real.

Doctors around the world are increasingly identifying an unusual heart problem even in otherwise healthy people who have suffered a severe fright, a traumatic experience or loss of a loved one. Frightening experiences, including natural disasters, muggings and even some amusement-park rides, can cause the heart suddenly to malfunction. Victims often have the same symptoms as a heart attack, but show no sign of blocked arteries.
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While many of these patients survive, others don't. Martin A. Samuels, chairman of the neurology department at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, has collected hundreds of reports of people who have died suddenly in frightening situations. These include victims of muggings and break-ins whose assailants never touched them; children who died on amusement-park rides; car-accident victims who sustained only minor injuries and a man who jumped off the roof of Brigham and Women's Hospital in 1980 but suffered severe heart damage before hitting the ground.

Exercise Might Beat Puzzles For Protecting the Aging Brain

In a study published in the journal Neurology of almost 700 people born in 1936, researchers found physically active people showed fewer signs of brain shrinkage and other deterioration than those who got less exercise. At the same time, social and intellectual activities such as visiting family and friends, reading, playing intellectually stimulating games or learning a new language did nearly nothing to ward off the symptoms of an aging brain, the study said.

"People who exercise more have better brain health," said Alan Gow, one of the study's researchers and a senior research fellow at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.

The researchers noted, however, that "the direction of causation is unclear," meaning they couldn't tell if a healthier brain was a result of physical activity, or if people showing signs of cognitive decline weren't able to exercise. Other studies have also suggested exercise can improve brain health. Exercise increases circulation in the body and helps bring more oxygen, glucose and other needed substances to the brain.

Getting Physical Ups Seniors' Brain Volume

Older individuals who engage in regular physical activity are less likely to experience loss of brain volume and other changes in brain structure, a study found.  Note that the study found no support for a beneficial effect of more intellectually challenging or socially oriented activities on structural MRI parameters. 

Panel Calls Hormone Replacement Too Risky

In the new study, the task force, convened by the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, found that estrogen and progestin therapy is of "moderate benefit" in reducing the risk of fractures and can create a "small reduction" in risk of invasive breast cancer. But it found this plus was outweighed by "moderate harms" such as an increase of risk for stroke, dementia, gall bladder disease and urinary incontinence, and a small increase in the risk for deep-vein blood clots.

"There are pluses and there are minuses to this therapy," said Michael LeFevre, vice chairman of the task force and a professor at University of Missouri School of Medicine. "For an asymptomatic woman, the benefits do not outweigh the harms."
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:37 PM | Permalink

October 20, 2012

Another danger of high carb diets - Alzheimer's

High-carb diets may raise the risk of Alzheimer's

Older people who eat a diet high in carbohydrates are four times more likely to develop mild cognitive impairment - a precursor to Alzheimer’s disease.
New research from the prestigious Mayo Clinic in America has found the risk is also higher with a diet high in sugar.

On the other hand, proteins and fats appear to offer some protection – people who consumed plenty of them are less likely  to suffer cognitive decline.
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If we can stop people from developing MCI, we hope we can stop people from developing dementia. Once you hit the dementia stage, it's irreversible,’ Professor Roberts told USA Today. 

‘A high-carbohydrate intake could be bad for you because carbohydrates impact your glucose and insulin metabolism.  'Sugar fuels the brain, so moderate intake is good. However, high levels of sugar may actually prevent the brain from using the sugar - similar to what we see with type 2 diabetes.’
She added that high glucose levels might affect the brain's blood vessels and play a role in the development of beta amyloid plaques, proteins toxic to brain health that are found in the brains of people with Alzheimer's. It’s thought these plaques are a leading cause of the disease.

People whose diets were highest in ‘good’ fats, such as those found in nuts and healthy oils were 42 per cent less likely to get cognitive impairment. Those with a  high intake of protein (such as meat and fish) had a reduced risk of 21 per cent.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:37 AM | Permalink

October 19, 2012

Gasoline from the air

Pioneering British firm produces 'petrol from air' in breakthrough that could solve the world's energy crisis

A British firm has produced the first 'petrol from air', it emerged today - in a pioneering scientific breakthrough that could end mankind's reliance on declining fossil fuels.

Air Fuel Synthesis in Stockton-on-Tees, Teesside, claims to have made five litres of petrol since August using a small refinery that synthesizes the fuel from carbon dioxide and water vapor.

Experts have hailed the incredible breakthrough as a potential 'game-changer' in the battle against climate change and solution to the globe's escalating energy crisis.

While the company is still developing their process and still need to take electricity from the national grid, it believes it will eventually be possible to power the synthesis entirely from renewable sources.

Within two years it hopes to build a commercial-scale plant capable of making a ton of petrol a day and expand into producing green aviation fuel to make airline travel more eco-friendly
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Company officials say they had produced five litres of petrol in less than three months from a small refinery in Stockton-on-Tees, Teesside.
The fuel that is produced can be used in any regular petrol tank and, if renewable energy is used to provide the electricity it could become “completely carbon neutral”.
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But company executives hope to build a large plant, which could produce more than a tone of petrol every day, within two years and a refinery size operation within the next 15 years..
Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:37 PM | Permalink

Friday Flotsam of Just plain interesting links

Sleeping on one side at a time. Dolphins evolved the ability to sleep one brain hemisphere at a time so they could be  continuously alert

The 25 Most Powerful TV Shows of the Last 25 Years

13 Little-Known Punctuation Marks We Should Be Using

Listen at the link for The Five Worst Sounds in the Universe  .

In Latest Bid to Lord Over Flies, One Man Tries Salting Them Away  Inventor's $30 Plastic 'Shotgun' Peppers Pests With Lethal Grain Assault

The first look inside Google's data centers.  Where the Internet Lives

In Massachusetts a 22-year-old man who works two jobs and was recently dumped by his girlfriend, wins a $30 million lottery ticket.  Taking a lump sum and
after paying taxes, he has $16 million and is getting over his heartbreak.

Remarkable wisdom.  In Syracuse, the son of Palestinian immigrants, won a $5 million lottery six years ago but waited until now to claim his prize that he will share with his brother

The agency said the younger brother said he waited so long to claim his prize because he was concerned the windfall could 'negatively influence' his life if he didn't plan properly before being publicly introduced as the winner. Andy Ashkar also told lottery officials that he also didn't want the windfall to influence his engagement and subsequent marriage.

Why the Amish are the best money mangers Business Insider

Best Halloween costume of the year

-Halloween Costume Wheelchair

The faces of fear: Haunted house releases hilarious photos of visitors captured mid-scream building on last year's viral hit, Scared Brothers at The Nightmares Fear Factory.

 5 Scared Boys

Modern alchemy The bacteria that transforms toxic liquid gold into a 24-carat Usable Metal

Stash of mysterious 100-year-old photos discovered in hotel ceiling by workman carrying out renovations.  A glimpse of Americans  living a century ago.

 Savage Photos Peeryhotel

The best face transplant ever.  Richard Morris injured in1997 in a gun accident was treated by 100- strong team of doctors and now has a new face and a new life

 Face Transplant

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:45 PM | Permalink

Amazing stories

Leo Traynor on The day I confronted my troll.

Then one day something happened that truly frightened me. I don't scare easily but this was vile.

I received a parcel at my home address. Nothing unusual there – I get lots of post. I ripped it open and there was a Tupperware lunchbox inside full of ashes. There was a note included, saying, "Say hello to your relatives from Auschwitz". I was physically sick.

I was petrified. They had my address. I reported it to the authorities and hoped for the best.

Two days later I opened my front door and there was a bunch of dead flowers with my wife's old Twitter username on it. Then that night I received a DM. "You'll get home some day & ur bitches throat will be cut & ur son will be gone."

I got on to the authorities again but, polite and sympathetic as they were, there didn't seem much that could be done.

A Doctor’s Ministry, Bridging Science and Spirit

Forty years ago, long before the recent afternoon when Dr. Joseph Dutkowsky knelt at the warped feet of his 4-year-old patient, he was a small-town teenager approaching his Catholic confirmation and needing to select a patron saint. He made an unlikely choice, a newly canonized figure, St. Martin de Porres, the illegitimate child of a former black slave in 16th-century Peru.  Back then, in the early 1970s, as the child of a factory worker and a homemaker, Joseph had no aspiration toward medicine. Nor did he know that Martin de Porres had been elevated to sainthood in part because of his healing miracles.

Decades later, something — call it coincidence, call it providence — has bent the vectors of faith and science together in the career of Dr. Dutkowsky. The confluence of these often-clashing ideals has taken him to the top of his profession as an orthopedic surgeon specializing in the care of children disabled from cerebral palsy, spina bifida, Down's' syndrome and other afflictions. It has also taken him to the healing shrine of Lourdes and to the Lima barrio where his patron saint tended to the poor and broken and cast out.

“This is my ministry,” said Dr. Dutkowsky, 56. “Some people stand next to the ocean to feel the presence of God. I get to see the likeness of God every day. I see children with some amazing deformities. But God doesn’t make mistakes. So they are the image.”
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We have a culture that’s addicted to perfection,” Dr. Dutkowsky said later. “We’re willing to spend thousands of dollars to achieve it. The people I care for are imperfect. And I can’t make them perfect. I only hope that they can sense that I actually care they’re more than skin and bones, that we have a bond.”
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“For years, when asked why I chose this profession, I had no good answer,” he said, “until I came upon the first chapter of the Gospel of John. Jesus and his disciples come upon a man who was blind from birth. The disciples asked Jesus, ‘Did this man or his parents sin that he was born blind?’ Jesus answered that the blindness was not the result of the man or his parents’ sin. The man was born blind ‘so the glory of God might be revealed.’ Every day in my work I find myself in the revealed glory of God.”

How woman, 32, who was raped, beaten savagely and left for dead has forgiven her attacker during astonishing recovery

Sarah Hoyt  remembers an electrifying moment when she was 16.  Nerves

Until their people were in full control of the government, the two TV channels from Lisbon (years later they changed it so the second channel was from Porto, but not then) would be off the air, and the station from Porto would bring out Green Acres which in their minds kept the populace calm until they heard what came next.
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To this day I  hear “Green Acres” and I cringe and every muscle in my body tenses.
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Our group couldn’t get permission for a demonstration.  It wouldn’t be granted.  BUT a demonstration was people assembling and making speeches and yelling.  So word went out.  Absolute silence.  And a route to walk, from the center of town to the military installation on the other side of the city.

It was the most impressive thing I’ve ever seen.  I’d never have believed it till I saw it.  At twenty two I tried to describe it to my husband and I failed.
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Organized is not experienced.  Being sixteen, I was recruited with another young person – a young man I didn’t know – to hold each end of a HUGE banner that said “The youth of Portugal demands liberty.”  Or something to that effect — it’s hard to remember these many years later.

They hadn’t punched holes in the fabric.  The drizzle was wind-driven.  As we started marching towards the military quarters, the wind pulled on the banner and about broke our arms.  But we held it up.  And we walked.  Thousands of people.  In silence.

There was a … movement.  And there I was in the front.  The silent crowd behind us.  The men with scary machine guns in front of us.  Pointed at us.

If we’d run, what would have happened?

I’m no braver than the next person.  I wanted to run.  But I had a vivid idea we’d be shot in the back.  I still think that might have been right.
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Because we held the adults couldn’t run away.  The crowd held.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:42 PM | Permalink

October 18, 2012

Green Energy Failures Funded by Obama's Department of Energy

I'm glad the Foundry did this because I could never keep track.  The Complete List of Obama's Taxayer-Backed Green Energy Failures

36 companies that have received federal support from taxpayers have either gone bankrupt or are laying off workers and are heading for bankruptcy. This list includes only those companies that received federal money from the Obama Administration’s Department of Energy. The amount of money indicated does not reflect how much was actually received or spent but how much was offered. The amount also does not include other state, local, and federal tax credits and subsidies, which push the amount of money these companies have received from taxpayers even higher.

The complete list of faltering or bankrupt green-energy companies:
Evergreen Solar ($24 million)*
SpectraWatt ($500,000)*
Solyndra ($535 million)*
Beacon Power ($69 million)*
AES’s subsidiary Eastern Energy ($17.1 million)
Nevada Geothermal ($98.5 million)
SunPower ($1.5 billion)
First Solar ($1.46 billion)
Babcock and Brown ($178 million)
EnerDel’s subsidiary Ener1 ($118.5 million)*
Amonix ($5.9 million)
National Renewable Energy Lab ($200 million)
Fisker Automotive ($528 million)
Abound Solar ($374 million)*
A123 Systems ($279 million)*
Willard and Kelsey Solar Group ($6 million)
Johnson Controls ($299 million)
Schneider Electric ($86 million)
Brightsource ($1.6 billion)
ECOtality ($126.2 million)
Raser Technologies ($33 million)*
Energy Conversion Devices ($13.3 million)*
Mountain Plaza, Inc. ($2 million)*
Olsen’s Crop Service and Olsen’s Mills Acquisition Company ($10 million)*
Range Fuels ($80 million)*
Thompson River Power ($6.4 million)*
Stirling Energy Systems ($7 million)*
LSP Energy ($2.1 billion)*
UniSolar ($100 million)*
Azure Dynamics ($120 million)*
GreenVolts ($500,000)
Vestas ($50 million)
LG Chem’s subsidiary Compact Power ($150 million)
Nordic Windpower ($16 million)*
Navistar ($10 million)
Satcon ($3 million)*

*Denotes companies that have filed for bankruptcy.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:37 PM | Permalink

What is not being said about Benghazi?

A brief recap on Libya and Benghazi

The question I have is why the Administration put out such a phony story for so long that they had to know would be exposed.  They can only be hiding something that is even worse.

The real objective of the Benghazi attack may have been US intelligence operations in North Africa and the Middle East writes Richard Fernandez

“It’s a catastrophic intelligence loss,” said one U.S. official who has served in Libya and who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the FBI is still investigating the attack. “We got our eyes poked out.”

The CIA’s surveillance targets in Benghazi and eastern Libya include Ansar al-Sharia, a militia that some have blamed for the attack, as well as suspected members of al-Qaida’s affiliate in North Africa, known as al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb.
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One of the reasons why the administration clung to the story that an anti-Muslim video sparked the attack for so long was because it could not admit to itself the more catastrophic alternative: that the attacks on the embassies were part of a big counterintelligence operation against the US. James Clapper apparently came to the reluctant conclusion some hours after the attack that it was his bailiwick not Hillary’s which was in the crosshairs.
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The biggest possible can of worms would be that the CIA had its “eyes poked out” to prevent it from seeing some dangerous operation that is even now hatching in the intelligence shadow of the ‘Arab Spring’: the possibility that there is something out there which has to be kept secret from US intelligence. How better to do it than to disrupt a major center of US intelligence operations in the area?

So it’s better for the public to think that an unknown video producer was the cause it all. The alternative, explanation: that the enemy intelligence agencies destroyed the CIA’s efforts to recover from the ‘Arab Spring’ and that America is now flying blind in the Middle East would be a hard thing to admit.

The New York Times reports that Jihadists Are Receiving Most Arms Sent to Syrian Rebels

Most of the arms shipped at the behest of Saudi Arabia and Qatar to supply Syrian rebel groups fighting the government of Bashar al-Assad are going to hard-line Islamic jihadists, and not the more secular opposition groups that the West wants to bolster, according to American officials and Middle Eastern diplomats.

That conclusion, of which President Obama and other senior officials are aware from classified assessments of the Syrian conflict that has now claimed more than 25,000 lives, casts into doubt whether the White House’s strategy of minimal and indirect intervention in the Syrian conflict is accomplishing its intended purpose of helping a democratic-minded opposition topple an oppressive government, or is instead sowing the seeds of future insurgencies hostile to the United States.
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The United States is not sending arms directly to the Syrian opposition. Instead, it is providing intelligence and other support for shipments of secondhand light weapons like rifles and grenades into Syria, mainly orchestrated from Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The reports indicate that the shipments organized from Qatar, in particular, are largely going to hard-line Islamists.

It's beginning to sound a lot like the Fast and Furious debacle.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:50 PM | Permalink

Daily multivitamin pill, mineral water and watch out for malware on your pacemaker

Drinking a litre of mineral water every day 'can prevent Alzheimer's memory loss'

Silicon-rich mineral water can help remove aluminum which is linked to dementia

Taking a daily multivitamin pill 'can lower the risk of cancer'

Regular use for more than a decade cuts men’s chances of developing the disease by 8 per cent, say researchers.  They cannot identify a single vitamin or combination that works, but claim the benefit comes from a broad combination of low dose vitamins.

The US study involved only men so the same effect cannot be assumed for women, but experts believe it is likely to be similar. Almost 15,000 doctors took part in the survey at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, in Boston, and Harvard Medical School.

It is significant as the first trial of its kind, said Michael Gaziano, chief of the Boston hospital’s ‘division of aging’. He said: ‘Despite the fact that more than one-third of Americans take multivitamins, their long-term effects were unknown until now.’

Computer Viruses are "Rampant: on Medical Devices in Hospitals

Software-controlled medical equipment has become increasingly interconnected in recent years, and many systems run on variants of Windows, a common target for hackers elsewhere. The devices are usually connected to an internal network that is itself connected to the Internet, and they are also vulnerable to infections from laptops or other device brought into hospitals. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that manufacturers often will not allow their equipment to be modified, even to add security features.
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Kevin Fu, a leading expert on medical-device security and a computer scientist at the University of Michigan and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst says "I find this mind-boggling,  Conventional malware is rampant in hospitals because of medical devices using unlatched operating systems. There's little recourse for hospitals when a manufacturer refuses to allow OS updates or security patches."
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:35 AM | Permalink

October 17, 2012

Green Energy seems to benefit only those with political connections UPDATED

The problem with most green energy programs is that they can't compete in the free market and so require government subsidies.

Charles Lane in The Washington Post, Liberals' green-energy contradictions.

Al Gore is about 50 times richer than he was when he left the vice presidency in 2001. According to an Oct. 11 report by The Post’s Carol D. Leonnig, Gore accumulated a Romneyesque $100 million partly through investing in alternative-energy firms subsidized by the Obama administration.
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Consider California’s “net metering” subsidy for solar-panel users. As the New York Times reported in June, the program hugely benefits well-off consumers who can afford to install photovoltaic panels. They get sun power for their homes — plus an excess supply that utilities must buy. Thus utilities must also pay to keep them on the grid. Those costs get passed along to everyone else — including low-income customers.

For a sense of where this may lead, look at Germany, whose crash program to replace nuclear power with wind and solar is boosting electricity rates. Der Spiegel reports that 200,000 long-term unemployed lost power in 2011 because they couldn’t pay their electric bills.

Like this company specially singled out by President Obama in 2010,  ABC “Advanced” battery maker A123 (which has posted losses for 14 consecutive quarters) has filed for bankruptcy. The company, which received a $250 million federal grant in 2009, was supposed to build the batteries that would power the giant fleet of electric cars that President Obama promised us would soon be on the road. Alas, it seems that’s not to be.

UPDATE: Veronique de Rugy writes

A123 is the fifth prominent clean-energy firm the Obama administration subsidized with loans or grants that has filed for bankruptcy protection, joining solar firms Solyndra and Abound Solar, energy firm Beacon Power, and battery company Ener1.
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As Forbes’s contributor Lara Hoffmans reports, in spite of  turning a negative $1 billion ever since its founding in 2001, A123 had received $249 million in 2009 as part of the stimulus bill as well as another $125 million in tax credits from the state of Michigan. Also, [t]o ensure there was a market for A123’s batteries, American taxpayers (some of them unwittingly, some unwillingly) gave Fisker Automotive a $529 million loan to make cars that would use said batteries,”Hoffmans explains.
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The claim made by DOE that encouraging investment in green technology would create up to 5 million jobs is unlike to see the light of day. Based on the DOE data, we see that for the 1705 program alone, the $16 billion loan guarantee program created some 2,378 permanent jobs–jobs which are promptly lost when a company goes under.

The promise of 5,000,000  jobs in green technology; the reality 2378 jobs.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:43 PM | Permalink

More Government Idiocies

After $500 Million Spent, Uranium Project To Be Redesigned Because Equipment Won’t Fit.

“Because the space issue was discovered so late in the design process it will have a greater impact on the project, and that could affect cost, schedule and safety, he said.”

How many Chevy Volt Batteries did $150 million in government money make? (Hint: Less Than One)

The company, Compact Power, was the recipient of $150 million taxpayer dollars and millions more in tax deferments and credits. Compact Power was supposed to be building thousands of batteries for the Chevy Volt here in America. Instead, they are furloughing workers before producing a single battery, Fox News reports. Not one.

Amtrak snack bars lost $84.5 million last year; $833 million in 10 years  and other gems of wasted money from the Heritage Foundation.

In fiscal year 2010, the federal government spent nearly $1.7 billion to maintain 77,700 underused or unused buildings.
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The Department of Agriculture's Office of the Chief Information Officer funded a $2 million intern program. Only one intern was hired full time as a result.
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The Internal Revenue Service stored 22,486 items of unused furniture in a warehouse at an annual cost of $862,000.
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- The U.S. Navy bought 450,000 gallons of biofuels for $12 million, or almost $27 per gallon, to conduct exercises to showcase the fuel and bring it closer toward commercialization. It is the largest biofuel purchase ever made by the government.

Wasted Money - Senator Coburn's Wastebook 2012

$113,227 for a video game preservation center in New York, $10 million for a remake of "Sesame Street" for Pakistan, $765,828 to subsidize a "pancakes for yuppies" program in Washington, D.C., and $764,825 to study how college students use mobile devices for social networking.

 
Michigan State Police used $10,000 in federal funds to purchase 400 talking urinal cakes.

$947,000 NASA is spending to send six volunteers to Hawaii, where they will test out various space menus while simulating a mission to Mars,

And more

taxpayers are subsidizing phone service, i.e. free cell phones, at a cost of nearly $1.5 billion a year.

$325,000 grant for the development of "Robosquirrel" - a robotic rodent designed to test the interaction between rattlesnakes and squirrels

An estimated $70 million loss for producing pennies.

Nearly $700,000 from the National Science Foundation to a New York-based theater company so it could develop a musical about climate change and biodiversity. "

A $1.2 million National Science Foundation helped pay for a study which asked 39 adults ages 60 to 77 to play “World of Warcraft” for two hours a day over two weeks.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:45 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

October 16, 2012

Three revealing charts on our economy

Re: The Obama claim to have created more jobs than Reagan

 Obama-Vs-Reagan-Jobs1

Net private sector jobs created during the first 37 months after the end of the recession that Obama inherited (June 2009-July 2012): 2.7 million
Net private sector jobs created during the first 37 months after the end of the recession that Reagan inherited (November 1982-May 1985): 9.8 million

But that chart doesn't tell the whole story.  Below is Our Awful Economy in One Chart.

 One Ten Labor Force

IBD Here's What a Huge Recovery Looks Like

Obama's policies have produced a smaller economic recovery than any since World War II. This recovery is so small that only half the jobs lost in the recession have been recouped. It's so small that there are almost half a million more long-term unemployed today than in June 2009, and millions have dropped out of the labor force altogether.

The Obama recovery is so small that median household incomes have been steadily falling since it started, and there are 11 million more people on food stamps and 2.7 million more mired in poverty.  Indeed, had Obama's recovery merely been average, there would be about 8 million more people with jobs today, and the GDP would be $1.2 trillion bigger.

 Ibd-Tale-Of-2-Recoveries

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:35 PM | Permalink

Rationing for seniors under Obamacare UPDATED

When the possibility of competition between insurance carriers is excluded, the only way to control Medicare costs is through rationing.

Obamacare’s IPAB: When Government Takes Over Health Care, You Become A Budget Item

IPAB is a board consisting of 15 unelected, appointed bureaucrats whose task it is to cut the growth of Medicare spending, and the cuts they are mandated to make will be deep.

The decisions IPAB makes behind closed doors can only be overturned by a supermajority of Congress, something almost impossible to achieve.

So, the politicians have set up a system where they can say to seniors, “It was those bureaucrats that cut your Medicare, not me.”

How does IPAB achieve these cuts?  The supporters of the law say, “It says right in the statute IPAB cannot ration.”  But what IPAB can do, and in fact is their only option for controlling costs, is to cut reimbursement rates to doctors and hospitals.  They decide what procedures are important, not your doctor, and they decide what Medicare will pay for them.

When services are no longer available to seniors because reimbursements for those procedures have been drastically cut, that’s rationing.

UPDATE: How $716 million is cut from Medicare to fund Obamacare

-Obamacare Cuts Medicare

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:53 AM | Permalink

October 15, 2012

The Shrinking of Our Civil Liberties

Punishing the heretics.  Gay Marriage and the Long Arm of Academic "Tolerance"

This week, we’ve seen once more that campus  “tolerance” on this issue follows you during off hours as well.  That ‘s what Angela McCaskill, chief Diversity Officer at Gallaudet University found out when, during Sunday church services, she was persuaded by her pastor's sermon  to sign a petition requesting a ballot referendum on same-sex marriage in Maryland.  She wasn’t on the job, she wasn’t even on campus. She was in fact doing something that’s simply part of her private life – or at least, it was part of her private life.  As of now, she’s been placed on administrative leave until university officials can determine the “appropriate next steps.”

It's the New Blacklist

The horrible HHS mandate made even worse.  Obamacare to force Catholic churches to engage in sinful speech

Little notice has been taken of HHS Secretary Sebelius’s stated intention to compel churches, not otherwise forced to pay for birth control, to inform employees where they can obtain subsidized access.

From Sebelius’s official statement about the promulgation of the new rule:
We intend to require employers that do not offer coverage of contraceptive services to provide notice to employees, which will also state that contraceptive services are available at sites such as community health centers, public clinics, and hospitals with income-based support.

Thus, the Obama administration is attacking even freedom of worship by forcing exempt organizations to tell their employees where and how they can violate church teaching.

In Canada, Catholic schools are forbidden to teach that abortion is wrong.

Jonathan Turley in The Washington Post Shut up and play nice: How the Western world is limiting free speech

Free speech is dying in the Western world. While most people still enjoy considerable freedom of expression, this right, once a near-absolute, has become less defined and less dependable for those espousing controversial social, political or religious views.
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After a video called “Innocence of Muslims” appeared on YouTube and sparked violent protests in several Muslim nations last month, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon warned that “when some people use this freedom of expression to provoke or humiliate some others’ values and beliefs, then this cannot be protected.”

Who cares about the rule of law when you think the Constitution is just a bunch of words that can be manipulated to get any result you want.    Michael Barone on  A Law Unto Himself.

Elsewhere George Will on Obama's selective defense of the Constitution

He was in his “We can’t wait!” — for Congress and legality — mode, as he was when he unilaterally rewrote laws pertaining to welfare, immigration and education. On Jan. 4, he used recess appointments to fill three seats on the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), even though the Senate said it was not in recess. Obama’s cheeky Humpty Dumpty rejoinder was: I decide what “recess” means. Now a court must decide whether the Constitution means what it says.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:56 PM | Permalink

Just interesting or fun

“Why are we encouraging deer to cross at the interstate? I don’t get it,”

The Body as a Subway Map

Markets in everything:  Buy and sell cancelled weddings

Over 250,000 weddings are called off every year.
We purchase cancelled weddings and resell them to new couples.

The Nebraska town with only 11 residents that sells more than FOUR MILLION cans of beer every year -

What using a club drug to treat depression reveals about the brain  'The Biggest Breakthrough in Depression Research' in 50 Years Is ... Ketamine?

At TED Amy Cuddy: Your body language shapes who you are

Global warming stopped 16 years ago

The new data, compiled from more than 3,000 measuring points on land and sea, was issued  quietly on the internet, without any media fanfare, and, until today, it has not been reported.

Now there's more ice at South Pole than ever

Ice around the South Pole has expanded to cover a record area, scientists revealed yesterday – a month after saying that the North Pole had lost an unprecedented amount of its ice…The ice covered 7.51million square miles of sea more than at any time since records began in 1979.

Forget a diamond as bid as the Ritz.  Astronomers reveal the diamond covered planet twice the size of Earth

Scientists find speech can sound different if you're using your hands - and say it could help treat stroke sufferers.

The bizarre turtle that urinates through its mouth… and is a delicacy in Chinese restaurants

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:58 PM | Permalink

Compare the Persecution of Christians elsewhere and the treatment of Muslims here

In just one month Muslim Persecution of Christians: August, 2012

Because these accounts of persecution span different ethnicities, languages, and locales—from Morocco in the West, to India in the East, and throughout the West wherever there are Muslims—it should be clear that one thing alone binds them: Islam—whether the strict application of Islamic Sharia law, or the supremacist culture born of it.

Jihad Killings and Christian Displacement in Iraq, Ivory Coast, Mali, Nigeria and Syria

Church Attacks in Azerbaijan, Indonesia, Kenya, Nigeria and Syria

Punishment for Apostasy, Blasphemy and Proselytism In Egypt, Pakistan, Tanzania and Tunisia

General Abuse, Debasement and Suppression of Non-Muslims in Egypt, Iran, Pakistan, Saudia Arabia, Turkey, Uzbekistan

Here in the United States, another cause for shame. Muslims Offended--Soldier's Career Destroyed--Official Army Records Show Loss to Nation

During a Pentagon press conference on May 10, 2012, General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, publicly excoriated Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Matthew Dooley, a 1994 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and a highly decorated combat veteran. His reason: The course on Islamic Radicalism which LTC Dooley was teaching at the Joint Forces Staff College (JFSC) of the National Defense University was offensive to Muslims.

General Dempsey characterized LTC Dooley's course as "totally objectionable," and ordered all material offensive to Islam scrubbed from military professional education within the JFSC and elsewhere. But that's not all. LTC Dooley was fired from his instructor position and given an ordered negative Officer Evaluation Report (OER) -- the death-knell for a military career.

The actions against LTC Dooley follow a letter to the Department of Defense dated October 19, 2011 signed by 57 Muslim organizations demanding that all training materials offensive to Islam and Muslims be purged and the trainers disciplined.

Our state department sent Salam al-Marayati, founder of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), was picked to represent the United States government at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s (OSCE) annual 10-day human rights conference, a representative who is anti-Israel, a sympathizer with Hamas and Hezbollah and a 9/11 truther.

The ACLU is hard at work protecting terrorist funding and Sultan Knish  reports on the  Muslim Takeover of the ACLU.

The ACLU now counts at least eight Muslims on its national executive staff alone. In fact, a Muslim runs the ACLU’s Center for Democracy, while another heads its National Security Project.  The irony is not lost on Steve Emerson, director of the Investigative Project on Terrorism.

“The ACLU was founded on the basis that there shouldn’t be any blasphemy laws,” said Emerson, who’s airing a new documentary, “Jihad in America: The Grand Deception.” “Yet in the last 10 years, they’ve appointed (to their boards) members of the Muslim Brotherhood who believe in blasphemy laws.”

One brave journalist tells the truth Lara Logan on "the Taliban Are Losing" and Other Lies the Administration Tells

“I chose this subject because, one, I can’t stand, that there is a major lie being propagated . . . The lie is that America’s military might has tamed the Taliban. There is this narrative coming out of Washington for the last two years,” Logan said. It is driven in part by “Taliban apologists,” who claim “they are just the poor moderate, gentler, kinder Taliban,” she added sarcastically. “It’s such nonsense!” She made a passionate case that our government is downplaying the strength of our enemies in Afghanistan and Pakistan, as a rationale of getting us out of the longest war. We have been lulled into believing that the perils are in the past: “You’re not listening to what the people who are fighting you say about this fight. In your arrogance, you think you write the script.” Our enemies are writing the story, she suggests, and there’s no happy ending for us.

Michael Coren on  The Tale of Two Religions

The West may hate Catholicism and be too intimidated or seduced to stand firm against Islamic extremism, but one day it will discover just how different those religions are, and feel the consequences in a manner it cannot even imagine.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:36 PM | Permalink

October 13, 2012

The Continuing Shame of Benghazi

Mark Steyn: 'Politicized' Benghazi distracts from Big Bird

"The entire reason that this has become the political topic it is, is because of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan."

Thus, Stephanie Cutter, President Obama's deputy campaign manager, speaking on CNN about an armed attack on the 9/11 anniversary that left a U.S. consulate a smoking ruin and killed four diplomatic staff, including the first American ambassador to be murdered in a third of a century. To discuss this event is apparently to "politicize" it and to distract from the real issues the American people are concerned about. For example, Obama spokesperson Jen Psaki, speaking on board Air Force One on Thursday:

"There's only one candidate in this race who is going to continue to fight for Big Bird and Elmo, and he is riding on this plane."
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Instead, the State Department outsourced security for the Benghazi consulate to Blue Mountain, a Welsh firm that hires ex-British and Commonwealth Special Forces, among the toughest hombres on the planet. The company's very name comes from the poem "The Golden Journey To Samarkand," whose words famously adorn the regimental headquarters of Britain's Special Air Service in Hereford. Unfortunately, the one-year contract for consulate security was only $387,413 – or less than the cost of deploying a single U.S. soldier overseas. On that budget, you can't really afford to fly in a lot of crack SAS killing machines, and have to make do with the neighborhood talent pool. So who's available? Blue Mountain hired five members of the Benghazi branch of the February 17th Martyrs' Brigade and equipped them with handcuffs and batons. A baton is very useful when someone is firing an RPG at you, at least if you play a little baseball. There were supposed to be four men heavily armed with handcuffs on duty that night, but, the date of Sept. 11 having no particular significance in the Muslim world, only two guards were actually on shift.

Let's pause right there, and "politicize" a little more. Liberals are always going on about the evils of "outsourcing" and "offshoring" – selfish vulture capitalists like Mitt Romney shipping jobs to cheap labor overseas just to save a few bucks. How unpatriotic can you get! So now the United States government is outsourcing embassy security to cheap Welshmen who, in turn, outsource it to cheaper Libyans. Diplomatic facilities are U.S. sovereign territory – no different de jure from Fifth Avenue or Mount Rushmore. So defending them is one of the core responsibilities of the state. But that's the funny thing about Big Government: the bigger it gets, the more of life it swallows up, the worse it gets at those very few things it's supposed to be doing. So, on the first anniversary of 9/11 in a post-revolutionary city in which Western diplomats had been steadily targeted over the previous six months, the government of the supposedly most powerful nation on Earth entrusted its security to Abdulaziz Majbari, 29, and his pal, who report to some bloke back in Carmarthen, Wales.

 Steven Breen Cartooncartoon by Steve Breen

So why on 9/11 were Marines stationed at the Barbados embassy but not at Benghazi near an armed Al Qaeda cell?

At the vice-presidential debate,  Biden interrupted Ryan 85 times and told at least 10 outright lies including "Well, we weren’t told they wanted more security"
despite the fact that the day before, former regional security Eric Nordstrom described,  in open Congressional hearings, his frustration with having his requests for security turned down by the government bureaucracy and his unforgettable line,  "For me the Taliban is on the inside of the building."

Suddenly everyone's reading the Bible and Proverbs 29:9: " If a wise man has an argument with a fool, the fool only rages and laughs, and there is no quiet"

And Clint Eastwood is looking like a prophet when he said this about Joe Biden, "Just a kind of a grin with a body behind it."

About the maker of that anti-Muslim film that nobody ever heard about before it was blamed for the Al Qaeda -planned uprisings around the globe on September 11,  Walid Shoebat. a former member of the Muslim Brotherfhood says it was made by Muslim terrorists and the man Nakoula Bacile Nakoula is not a Christian Copt but a fraudster with multiple identities  who embezzled millions of dollars with Shoebat's cousin Eiad Salame.

So it's no surprise that Ayman al-Zawahri,  the leader of Al-Qaida,  has urged Muslims to wage holy war against the United States and Israel over that film.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:59 PM | Permalink

October 12, 2012

Freedom to Succeed

He grew up in communist Hungary, emigrated to the United States and became a billionaire.  Thomas Peterffy is Rich, worried and buying ad time.

He's not running for office. He's not part of a super PAC. He's not lobbying for or against any ballot measures.  But billionaire Thomas Peterffy is spending millions on television ads this election season with one cautionary message: Avoid socialism.

"I grew up in a socialist country and I have seen what that does to people. There is no hope, no freedom, no pride in achievement," he says with a soft Hungarian accent in the ad. "The nation became poorer and poorer, and that's what I see happening here."

Peterffy told CNN he expects to spend $5-$10 million on the ad buy, depending on its effectiveness. The spot will run on CNN, CNBC, Bloomberg, and test markets in Ohio, Wisconsin, and possibly Florida.
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Peterffy left his country and moved to New York in 1965, where-without knowing English–he got a computer programming job on Wall Street. He later purchased his own seat on the American Stock Exchange in 1977 and, fast forward a few years, found himself the creator of Interactive Brokers, one of the first electronic trading firms.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:51 PM | Permalink

October 11, 2012

Sounds of the seas

 Whalesongs-Visualized
False killer whale, White beaked dolphin, Humpback whale

White beaked dolphin,  Northern minke whale, Humpback whale

Sounds of our seas revealed - and they look a lot like the view through a kaleidoscope

Mark Fischer, the owner of Aquasonic Acoustics in California, takes whale songs and transforms them into beautiful images. The 51-year-old converts the voices of the 100-ton mammals into 'wavelets' and then colors them in with imaging software. He also uses the technique to capture the melodies of humpback whales, dolphins and birds.
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The Californian said the images were well received by the public - but only aesthetically.    'Rarely are they interested in how the images are made, what kind of mathematics is behind the image or even what species made the sound,' he added.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:50 PM | Permalink

Health Roundup: Your breath 'fingerprint', tomatoes, UV Ugly, 21 cholesterol genes

Each Patient Has a Unique Breath 'Fingerprint' That Doctors Could Use to Diagnose.  What Your Breath Reveals

The concept goes back to Hippocrates, who wrote a treatise on breath aroma and disease around 400 B.C. For centuries afterward, doctors noticed that patients with liver and kidney disorders had distinctive smells to their breath.

Now, scientists are identifying thousands of chemical compounds that create those telltale odors. Tools called mass spectrometers can detect them in quantities as minute as parts per trillion, the equivalent of finding a single ping-pong ball in a thousand baseball fields filled with ping-pong balls.

And researchers are developing tests that can diagnose and monitor not just liver and kidney disorders, but also asthma, diabetes, tuberculosis, gastrointestinal infections—even the rejection of transplanted organs—by analyzing biomarkers in exhaled breath.
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Breath tests are also painless, faster to return results and potentially less expensive than blood tests—and easy to repeat as often as needed, even while patients are sleeping or exercising.

And some go well beyond what blood tests can do. In a study in the Journal of Thoracic Oncology this month, researchers from Israel and Colorado reported that breath analysis could distinguish between benign and malignant pulmonary nodules in a group of 72 patients with 88% accuracy; the test could also assess the specific type and stage of the lung cancers.


Tomato Helps Cut the Risk of a Stroke, Study Shows

A new study shows that men who had the highest levels of lycopene—an antioxidant found in tomatoes—had fewer strokes than men who had the lowest level of lycopene in their blood. Overall, the risk of strokes was reduced by 55%…. Lycopene is found in the highest concentrations in cooked tomato products like paste, puree and sauce.

R UV Ugly? Cancer charity puts ultraviolet skin scanner in shopping centers to warn of the damage caused by sun beds

-Model+Uvscanners

Scientists a step closer to preventing heart attacks as they identify high cholesterol genes, paving the way for targeted drugs

Scientists have identified 21 new genes linked to cholesterol levels, further paving the way for dedicated drugs and treatments for heart disease.  In the largest-ever genetic study of cholesterol, they found these genetic variations were associated with changes in ‘good’ HDL and ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol.  One of the most striking findings was that some variants were more likely to appear in men, others in women.  The genetic mutations of more than 90,000 people were analyzed in the study, which was published in The American Journal of Human Genetics.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:26 PM | Permalink

Art, Beauty and Artists

Camille Paglia How Capitalism Can Save Art

Today's blasé liberal secularism also departs from the respectful exploration of world religions that characterized the 1960s. Artists can now win attention by imitating once-risky shock gestures of sexual exhibitionism or sacrilege. This trend began over two decades ago with Andres Serrano's "Piss Christ," a photograph of a plastic crucifix in a jar of the artist's urine, and was typified more recently by Cosimo Cavallaro's "My Sweet Lord," a life-size nude statue of the crucified Christ sculpted from chocolate, intended for a street-level gallery window in Manhattan during Holy Week. However, museums and galleries would never tolerate equally satirical treatment of Judaism or Islam.
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For the arts to revive in the U.S., young artists must be rescued from their sanitized middle-class backgrounds. We need a revalorization of the trades that would allow students to enter those fields without social prejudice (which often emanates from parents eager for the false cachet of an Ivy League sticker on the car). Among my students at art schools, for example, have been virtuoso woodworkers who were already earning income as craft furniture-makers. Artists should learn to see themselves as entrepreneurs.
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Young people today are avidly immersed in this hyper-technological environment, where their primary aesthetic experiences are derived from beautifully engineered industrial design. Personalized hand-held devices are their letters, diaries, telephones and newspapers, as well as their round-the-clock conduits for music, videos and movies. But there is no spiritual dimension to an iPhone, as there is to great works of art.

Thus we live in a strange and contradictory culture, where the most talented college students are ideologically indoctrinated with contempt for the economic system that made their freedom, comforts and privileges possible. In the realm of arts and letters, religion is dismissed as reactionary and unhip. The spiritual language even of major abstract artists like Piet Mondrian, Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko is ignored or suppressed.

Thus young artists have been betrayed and stunted by their elders before their careers have even begun. Is it any wonder that our fine arts have become a wasteland?

They would do well to read Pope Benedict's Address to Artists in the Sistine Chapel.

He quotes Pope Paul VI

"This world in which we live needs beauty in order not to sink into despair. Beauty, like truth, brings joy to the human heart, and is that precious fruit which resists the erosion of time, which unites generations and enables them to be one in admiration. And all this through the work of your hands . . . Remember that you are the custodians of beauty in the world."

Then says

What is capable of restoring enthusiasm and confidence, what can encourage the human spirit to rediscover its path, to raise its eyes to the horizon, to dream of a life worthy of its vocation -- if not beauty? Dear friends, as artists you know well that the experience of beauty, beauty that is authentic, not merely transient or artificial, is by no means a supplementary or secondary factor in our search for meaning and happiness; the experience of beauty does not remove us from reality, on the contrary, it leads to a direct encounter with the daily reality of our lives, liberating it from darkness, transfiguring it, making it radiant and beautiful.


Dave Carter recalls his visit to Cologne Cathedral

That Cathedral had been there over 600 years when The Red Barron's canvass and wood plane did battle in the First World War.  Those old stone steps were as old as the US Constitution by the time Christopher Columbus set sail for the New World.  And yet there we stood in 1989, struck dumb it seemed, trying desperately to comprehend the sheer size and endless intricacies of this colossal structure which literally dwarfed everything around it.  To view it from the outside is to feel rather like an ant contemplating a redwood. 
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To venture inside and see The Shrine of the Three Holy Kings (purported to hold the crowned skulls of the Three Wise Men), or the Gero Cross which dates back to 976, or the legions of statues, is to become virtually intoxicated with the divine devotion that conceived and constructed such a solemn place. 

Where is there anything in modernity to compare?

You could say the same of almost any cathedral or Basilica  in Europe.  The list is endless - St. Peters, Chartres, Notre Dame, Toledo, Westminster, York….

Roger Scruton  Beauty and Desecration.  We must rescue art from the modern intoxication with ugliness.

At any time between 1750 and 1930, if you had asked an educated person to describe the goal of poetry, art, or music, “beauty” would have been the answer. And if you had asked what the point of that was, you would have learned that beauty is a value, as important in its way as truth and goodness, and indeed hardly distinguishable from them. Philosophers of the Enlightenment saw beauty as a way in which lasting moral and spiritual values acquire sensuous form. And no Romantic painter, musician, or writer would have denied that beauty was the final purpose of his art.
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At some time during the aftermath of modernism, beauty ceased to receive those tributes. Art increasingly aimed to disturb, subvert, or transgress moral certainties, and it was not beauty but originality—however achieved and at whatever moral cost—that won the prizes. Indeed, there arose a widespread suspicion of beauty as next in line to kitsch—something too sweet and inoffensive for the serious modern artist to pursue. I
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The haste and disorder of modern life, the alienating forms of modern architecture, the noise and spoliation of modern industry—these things have made the pure encounter with beauty a rarer, more fragile, and more unpredictable thing for us. Still, we all know what it is to find ourselves suddenly transported, by the things we see, from the ordinary world of our appetites to the illuminated sphere of contemplation. It happens often during childhood, though it is seldom interpreted then. It happens during adolescence, when it lends itself to our erotic longings. And it happens in a subdued way in adult life, secretly shaping our life projects, holding out to us an image of harmony that we pursue through holidays, through home-building, and through our private dreams.

"I think we are in danger of losing beauty and with it the meaning of life," says Roger Scruton in the full BBC production of Why Beauty Matters on YouTube

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:11 PM | Permalink

"Drive the biggest vehicle you can afford to drive"

An emergency room physician who has more than many of us can imagine lays out his Dirty Dozen for Black Swan Avoidance. 

Below are the first six:

1. Drive the biggest vehicle you can afford to drive. Your greatest risk of death comes from a motor vehicle accident.
2. Never get on a 4-wheeler ATV. These are the most dangerous vehicle that I know of. ATV’s have produced more quadriplegics than anything else I have seen.
3. Do not road cycle or jog on public roads/roadsides. This is self-evident.
4. Do not fly a plane or helicopter unless you are a full-time professional pilot. If you are a doctor, lawyer, actor, athlete, stockbroker or other well-to-do professional do not get a pilot’s license. Expertise in one area of life does not transfer to piloting, often with fatal results.
5. If you are walking down a sidewalk and are approaching a group of loud and apparently intoxicated males, cross to the other side of the street immediately. If anyone tries to start a fight with you, the first step should be “choke them with heel dust”.
6. If your gas grill won’t start….walk away. Never throw gas (or other accelerant) on a fire.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:46 PM | Permalink

October 10, 2012

Character

Thomas J. Neal

I watched a 9/11 documentary a while ago, and one of the lines really grabbed my attention. A Chief from one of the fire stations said, in describing his men, “They got character. And I’ll tell ya what character is; character’s what made these guys go up the stairs of the World Trade Center. While everybody else was goin’ down, they were goin’ up. These guys are heroes.”

Character is the amalgam of all our choices, our unbreakable steel core forged by virtuous acts carried out repeatedly in the face of adversity, hardship, struggle, suffering. Character is the rudder that steers us aright in the stormy seas and keeps our boat from turning awry and capsizing, the ballast that keeps us steady in an unsteady world.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:09 PM | Permalink

Shinya Yamanka's Nobel Prize

 Shinya Yamanaka

The Healer

Shinya Yamanaka, a scientist at Kyoto University, loved stem-cell research. But he didn’t want to destroy embryos. So he figured out a way around the problem. In a paper published five years ago in Cell, Yamanaka and six colleagues showed how “induced pluripotent stem cells” could be derived from adult cells and potentially substituted, in research and therapy, for embryonic stem cells. Today, that discovery earned him a Nobel Prize, shared with British scientist John Gurdon. But the prize announcement and much of the media coverage missed half the story. Yamanaka’s venture wasn’t just an experiment. It was a moral project.

In the introduction to their Cell paper, Yamanaka and his colleagues outlined their reasons for seeking an alternative to conventional embryonic stem-cell research. “Ethical controversies” came first in their analysis. Technical reasons—the difficulty of making patient-specific embryonic stem cells—came second. After the paper’s publication, Yamanaka told a personal story, related by the New York Times:
Inspiration can appear in unexpected places. Dr. Shinya Yamanaka found it while looking through a microscope at a friend’s fertility clinic. … [H]e looked down the microscope at one of the human embryos stored at the clinic. The glimpse changed his scientific career. “When I saw the embryo, I suddenly realized there was such a small difference between it and my daughters,” said Dr. Yamanaka. … “I thought, we can’t keep destroying embryos for our research. There must be another way.”
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Yamanaka transformed that debate forever. He tore down the wall between preserving embryos and saving lives. He did what only a scientist could have done: He made it possible for both sides to win. In the words of Julian Savulescu, an ethicist and supporter of embryonic stem-cell research, Yamanaka “deserves not only a Nobel Prize for Medicine, but a Nobel Prize for Ethics.”

Bravo!

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:52 AM | Permalink

Life is more precious than you know

New York Woman Wins Right to Die Lawsuit, Then Changes Mind

A terminally ill patient, Grace Sung Eun Lee, 28, was awarded the right to chose to die by a New York court this month, but has now changed her mind and wants to live.  Miss Lee, once a financial manager, was felled by terminal brain cancer that left her paralyzed from the neck down and being fed through feeding tubes.  Lee was determined competent to make her own decisions and won the right to choose to turn off the machines keeping her alive over objections from her devoutly religious parents.  But now Lee reports that she has changed her mind about choosing death.

Lee's court appointed lawyer affirmed her decision. “What Grace said to me when I asked her, she said she was doing it to make peace with her parents and to make peace with God,” attorney David Smith told Brennan.

Heartwarming tale of the deaf quadriplegic who writes on Twitter at four words a minute

He is 24 and confined to a constant existence in a wheelchair.  But thanks to Twitter, David Rose not only has thousands of friends, but he's finding more all the time, all of them drawn to his witty comments and positive attitude as he blogs and tweets about his life.  David is a profoundly deaf quadriplegic, his disabilities caused by cerebral palsy, and he sends each message out at a pace of four words a minute, using a specialized computer which translates his eye movements.


 Davidrose Tweet


Since his family helped set up 'David's Twitter Machine', to go along with his own blog, his world has got much bigger thanks to virtual friends which stand in admiration for his ethics, philosophies and good humor.  David, or Dave, as he likes to be called, lives in a residential home for disabled people in Orange County, California, near his mother and his sister.    He communicates with a Tobii eye-gaze computer that tracks his eye-movement and posts on Facebook and Twitter, and on his blog he says he likes puppies, girls, funny movies, good stories and jokes, and 'yummy food'.
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A few nights ago i lay on my back in bed late at night and choke on something.

'The aide on duty hear me and run in turn me over and clear it. If he not do that i might be gone because cannot turn over myself.

'Because of this and because i might not be here tomorrow then why hate? Why argue and fight? Why be mean and nasty? If someone that way to me I just feel sorry for them.

'They the person who have the worst disability! they not able to love despite bad things and see the good in everything.

I try best to get along good with everyone. I want make people laugh. I want tell people life worth living even when is hard.

'This is why i am how i am. I could leave very soon and not ever come back so I want to leave you, Travis, and everyone else with a smile on you face and nice memory of me.

'And i want you make something of yourself! Do the same and make the whole world better! Too much nasty right now, so lets make some funny and make people laugh before is too late!

'If you all do that because of what i say then i can live on for many years lol. yes in a way it selfish, but i think is better this kind of selfish than someone wanting new car and best house.

'People say i am inspirational. I think i am not, i am just me. i just hope it the best me i can be because i might have to leave soon and there is no second chance. this is it.

'So stop crying stop complaining stop arguing and start laughing. now! does not matter what other people do. it only matter what you do.'
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:51 AM | Permalink

40 Things to Say Before You Die

From Forbes and Jessica Hagy, 40 Things to Say Before You Die  Funny and true with terrific visuals

39  “Today was good.”  If you can say it once, you can say it again. And again. And again.

35 “That’s enough.”  Food. Drink. Episodes of Law & Order. Pairs of shoes. Overtime. Articulating your own limits is powerful.

23 “Isn’t this beautiful?” The more often you notice the gorgeous world around you, the happier you’ll be.

21 “Damn, I look good.”   You come from a long line of people who convinced others to sleep with them. Remember that.

13 “This is my favorite thing.”  Enjoy what you love and say this as often as you can.

12  “I earned this.”  There’s a layer of proud ownership over everything you possess that wasn’t merely given to you.

6  “I don’t know how to do this.” It’s better to admit it and learn than to fake it and embarrass yourself.

2  “I love you.” We all want to say this, and we all want it said to us.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:38 AM | Permalink

Taxpayers Could Face ‘Billions’ in Legal Costs - Lockheed Martin to Refrain From Layoff Notices

Taxpayers Could Face ‘Billions’ in Legal Costs Due to Administration Asking Lockheed Martin to Refrain From Layoff Notices

Lockheed Martin has reversed its decision to send layoff notices to many of its employees shortly before the election, after some serious pressure from the Obama administration. (Lockheed is concerned the sequestration defense cuts, which will take effect January 2 barring Congressional action, will force it to layoff employees.) …. But in a new letter, Senators Chuck Grassley and Kelly Ayotte are demanding answers as to why the administration agreed that taxpayers would cover any legal expenses Lockheed faces as a result of not giving employees a 60-day layoff notice, as required by the WARN Act
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:57 AM | Permalink

Health round-up: vitamins, magnets, baby aspirin, breast cancer, terrible teens, super tasters

How a vitamin a day helps boost memory

A daily multivitamin tablet may boost the memory and slow mental decline.  According to new studies, taking supplements has a beneficial effect on memory and may work by increasing efficiency of brain cells.  One study showed that after just four weeks there were measurable changes in electrical activity in the brain when carrying out memory tests, not seen in a comparison group taking a placebo pill.

Powerful magnets that cause cancer cells to 'self-destruct' could offer targeted treatment for tumors

Magnets that cause tumors to 'self-destruct' could be a revolutionary new weapon in the fight against cancer.  Scientists in South Korea have developed the method, which uses a magnetic field to trigger the cells to effectively kill themselves.  The researchers have demonstrated that the process works in bowel cancer cells and living laboratory fish. They now plan to test the technique on a range of cancers to see if it can destroy other tumors.

Smallpox virus may help treat deadly form of breast cancer

A relative of the small pox virus may be an effective weapon against one of the deadliest forms of breast cancer, researchers say. Laboratory tests showed that more than 90 per cent of triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) cells treated with the vaccinia virus were destroyed within four days.
In mice with the disease, one strain of the virus cleared away 60 per cent of tumors while the extent of those left was dramatically reduced.

The mystery of the terrible teens solved: Developing brains are simply struggling to deal with fear, claim scientists

Scientists say the 'terrible teens' may not be a child's fault after all.  A new study shows fear is hard to extinguish from the developing teenage brain, which researchers say may explain why anxiety and depression spike so obviously during adolescence.

The new study by Weill Cornell Medical College researchers shows that adolescents' reactions to threat remain high even when the danger is no longer present.  According to researchers, once a teenager's brain is triggered by a threat, the ability to suppress an emotional response to the threat is diminished - which may explain why they often seem permanently anxious and stressed.

That baby aspirin you take every day to help your heart could also slow down memory loss

Research published in the online journal BMJ Open found regular low-dose aspirin did slow cognitive decline.The five-year study at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, involved 681 women aged 70 to 92. The majority of women were at high risk of heart disease and stroke. Decline in brain power was found to be considerably less among those who took aspirin every day over the entire period.

If you find broccoli and brussel sprouts unbearably bitter, you may have a "super taster" gene that protects you against illness

Scientists have discovered a keen sense of taste boosts immunity - a breakthrough that could lead to nasal sprays to ward off illness. ..Bitter taste receptor gene TAS2R38 found to activate an immune response.

What's inside a doctor's bag, then and now

1. A pocket ultrasound machine which allows a great view of the heart, and adds volumes to what the stethoscope can discern.
2. The PanOptic ophthalmoscope, an instrument that looks a bit like a large revolver; it allows a beautiful view of the retina, and especially its blood vessels, far better than my conventional ophthalmoscope. One look in an eye and I have a sense of the status of the arteries in the kidney, the heart. The PanOptic can also be hooked up to an iPhone to take great pictures. 
3. An iPad
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:07 AM | Permalink

October 9, 2012

Why you should use the deadbolt lock in hotel rooms

Hacker cracks 4 million hotel locks with 'James Bond Dry Erase Marker'

 James Bond Dryerase Marker

This new hacker invention may look like a harmless dry erase marker, but in truth it's the ultimate electronic lock pick.  In a post titled 'James Bond's Dry Erase Marker,' hotel hacker Matthew Jakubowski demonstrates how anyone can build this pocket-sized device which will open the lock on an estimated 4 million hotel rooms.

'I guess we wanted to show that this sort of attack can happen with a very small concealable device,' says Matthew Jakubowski, a security researcher with Trustwave, told Forbes. 'Someone using this could be searched and even then it wouldn't be obvious that this isn't just a pen.'
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The lock has a small port on its bottom designed for hotels to set master keys.  Hacker Cody Brocious discovered you could read the lock's memory through this port, including a decryption key.
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The device exploits a vulnerability in Onity locks, a cheap lock used on millions of hotel room doors.  Onity's site boasts their locks are used in 22,000 hotel worldwide.
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Security experts believe the expense has likely left a huge percentage of hotel rooms with the easily cracked model.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:38 PM | Permalink

Catching up on economic stories

Mort Zuckerman on Why the Country is Unhappy Under Obama

The real unemployment rate is 15 percent, measured by what is called U-6, which includes people who are working part-time on an involuntary basis. We have 4.7 million fewer jobs than the peak reached at the end of 2007. And indeed much of the improvement in jobs has been through dubious "seasonal" adjustments, such as the July seasonal bump of 377,000 jobs—the largest such adjustment for July in the past 10 years. The labor participation rate has dropped to a 30-year low, and if not for that development, the unemployment rate would be much higher.

Fewer Americans are at work today than in April 2000, although the population has grown by 31 million since then. A worker between the ages of 50 and 61 who has been unemployed for over a year has only a 9 percent chance of finding a job in the next three months. A worker who is 62 years or older and similarly unemployed has about a 6 percent chance. And 50 percent of this year's college graduates are without jobs or are underemployed. What a waste.

Under Obama, Poor, Middle Class Incomes Fall Sharply.  Biden was right.  The middle class has been "buried during the last 4 years"

Since 2009, the middle 20% of American households saw their average incomes drop 4%. In 2011 alone, they fell 1.7%. The poorest 20% have fared even worse under Obama, Census data show. Their incomes have dropped more than 7% since 2009, and are now lower than they've been at any time since 1985, after adjusting for inflation.

Urban League says downturn has wiped out gains of last 30 years for the black middle class.

Via Instapundit who remarks how absurd it is to blame today’s huge national debt on George W. Bush’s spending on Iraq and Afghanistan.

   Obamafaildeficitscbo-

Obama's Re-Election Case Rests On 5 Phony Claims

Bush's tax cuts did not cause the last recession.    In fact, once they were fully in effect in 2003, they sparked stronger growth — generating more than 8 million new jobs over the next four years, and GDP growth averaging close to 3%.  Those tax cuts didn't explode the deficit, either, as Obama frequently claims. Deficits steadily declined after 2003, until the recession hit.
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What did cause the economic crisis? The housing bubble. And that, in turn, was the result of a determined federal effort to boost homeownership by, among other things, pressuring banks to lower lending standards.

Unemployment rate falls?  Did Labor Secretary Solis mislead on jobs' revisions

The BLS reported that while only 114,000 jobs were created in September--which would have translated into a rise in unemployment from 8.1% to 8.2%--the unemployment rate fell dramatically to 7.8%. That unusual drop is the fastest in nearly three decades, and was unexpected even in the rosiest predictions.

One reason for the rise was an upward revision of 86,000 to the July and August jobs numbers--all of which came from a 91,000 increase in the estimate of public sector jobs. Private sector job estimates were actually revised downward by 5,000.

In addition, the BLS reported a large rise in the number of part-time jobs, adding 600,000 jobs to the total--a dramatic increase of 7.5%, not explained by any other economic indicators--and raising questions about whether the government had changed the way it counted part-time workers.


Ed  Morrissey offers a possible explanation

The BLS conducts two surveys each month to determine employment data.  The first is the establishment survey, which polls 410,000 businesses each month.  The second is the household survey, which polls 60,000 households each month.

It doesn’t mean a conspiracy is in place; it does strongly suggest that this month’s sample of 60,000 households threw an outlier, especially when compared with the establishment survey and other economic data. If so, it will likely correct itself in the next report.

Zerohedge From Currency Debasement To Social Collapse: 4 Case Studies

Debasing money therefore debases trust. Grice emphasizes that history is replete with Great Disorders in which social cohesion has been undermined by currency debasements. The multi-decade credit inflation can now be seen to have had similarly corrosive effects. Yet central banks continue down the same route. The writing is on the wall. Further debasement of money will cause further debasement of society. Dylan, like us, fears a Great Disorder.

Zerohedge Bill Gross: The US Is A Debt Meth Addict - Unless The Fiscal Gap Is Closed Soon "The Damage Will Be Beyond Repair"

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:54 AM | Permalink

October 5, 2012

Fifteen Things We can Learn from Dogs

Monsignor Pope republishes an oldie and I'm busy,  so I will too.

Fifteen Things We can Learn from Dogs:

1. Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joy ride.
2. Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure ecstasy.
3. When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.
4. Let others know when they’ve invaded your territory.
5. Take naps and stretch before rising.
6. Run, romp, and play daily.
7. Eat with gusto and enthusiasm.
8. Be loyal.
9. If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.
10. When someone is having a bad day, be silent. Sit close by and nuzzle them gently.
11. Thrive on attention and let people touch you.
12. Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.
13. When you’re happy, dance around and wag your entire body.
14. No matter how often you’re scolded, don’t buy into the guilt thing and pout…. run right back and make friends
15. Delight in the simple joys of a long walk.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:00 PM | Permalink

Richer than Romney and still on the dole

Big Bird makes more money than Mitt Romney, but is still on the government dole.

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting receives about $450million from Congress each year. About $280million goes to PBS and the local stations.
Federal funding makes up about 12 per cent of the PBS budget.
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Shows like Sesame Street are multi-million dollar enterprises capable of thriving in the private market. According to the 990 tax form all nonprofits are required to file, Sesame Workshop President and CEO Gary Knell received $956,513 -- nearly a million dollars -- in compensation in 2008. And, from 2003 to 2006, "Sesame Street" made more than $211 million from toy and consumer product sales.

If you break that down, it works out to over $50 million a year "Sesame Street" is taking in from all that merchandising.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:03 AM | Permalink

October 3, 2012

UN Head: Free Speech a 'Gift'

Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations Jan Eliasson said yesterday in a press conference, Free Speech a 'Gift'

Free speech is a “gift given to us by the [Universal] Declaration of Human Rights,”  It is “a privilege,” Eliasson said, “that we have, which in my view involves also the need for respect, the need to avoid provocations.”
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Eliasson’s boss Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said last month that using “freedom of expression to provoke or humiliate some others’ values and beliefs” was not worthy of protection. Rather, Ban Ki-moon indicated that such freedom only deserved protection when “used for common justice, common purpose.”
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I agree completely with Mark Steyn, Behead All Those Who Insult Free Speech

Free speech is a gift given to us in 1948 by U.N. officials? Who knew?

The only appropriate response of free-born peoples to such a statement is: **** off, ******. Free speech is not in the gift of minor Swedish timeserving hack bureaucrats, either to grant or withdraw…… In the end, the one-way multiculturalism of craven squishes like Eliasson will destroy our world. Nuts to him and to the U.N.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:49 PM | Permalink

TSA agent caught stealing and 'Food Police' and hungry kids

Theft by TSA agents  Almost 400 TSA security officers have been fired over luggage theft in less than a decade

'I was addicted to stealing… and everyone else did it too': Ex-TSA agent reveals epidemic of thefts from passengers as he admits he took almost $1MILLION in possessions

Even the special TSA locks sold for luggage won't work, Brown says, because TSA employees learned how to pick them without being detected.
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Poor morale and low pay put temptation in the way of many of his fellow officers, he said.  'They didn't think it was okay, but they did it and said, "I don't care. They ain't paying me. They're treating me wrong",' he said. 'But then when people started seeing they could profit off of it, then it became massive,'

ABC News tracks missing iPad to Florida home of TSA Office
Confronted two weeks later by ABC News, the TSA officer, Andy Ramirez, at first denied having the missing iPad, but ultimately turned it over after blaming his wife for taking it from the airport.

Airlines collect a record amount of bag fees

U.S. airlines collected more than $1.7 billion in baggage fees during the first half of the year, the largest amount ever collected in that six-month period.


The Food Police.
  Obama Administration's Cafeteria lunch rules.  School cafeteria employee, 'Seconds Banned, Extra Food Thrown Away Under Obama Rules

the new federal guidelines require vegetables to comprise the largest portion of a student’s lunch, while the entrée is now being treated as a side dish. That means a lot more of the stuff most kids don’t eat and just a tiny portion of the palatable item.

“It’s completely flip-flopped in terms of portion size,” our source says. “I’m appalled at the serving sizes we’re required to give high school students.”
Even though some kids may be leaving the lunch room hungry, the new Obama-imposed rules prohibit students from receiving additional helpings, even when there’s food left over….“Two ounces of protein won’t cut it for high school athletes,” she notes.
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In February, a North Carolina school made national headlines when it was revealed that a lunch inspector told a 4-year-old girl that her homemade turkey sandwich, banana, potato chips and apple juice were unhealthy and that she needed to eat a USDA-approved school lunch.

In New Bedford, students have created a black market – for chocolate syrup. The kiddie capitalists are smuggling in bottles of it and selling it by the squeeze, according to SouthCoastToday.com.

Students beg for more food in YouTube video, We Are Hungry

A Florida school district may install 'trash-cams'

to monitor what kids are throwing away – after they discovered that students were tossing out their federally-mandated fruit and vegetables.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:07 PM | Permalink

October 1, 2012

Are the polls worth paying attention to?

At Pew Research, the response rate of a typical telephone survey was 36% in 1997 and is just 9% today.
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The general decline in response rates is evident across nearly all types of surveys, in the United States and abroad. At the same time, greater effort and expense are required to achieve even the diminished response rates of today. These challenges have led many to question whether surveys are still providing accurate and unbiased information. Although response rates have decreased in landline surveys, the inclusion of cell phones – necessitated by the rapid rise of households with cell phones but no landline – has further contributed to the overall decline in response rates for telephone surveys.

Only 9% of us co-operate with pollsters!. Zombie digs deeper

Out of every 7 people contacted by pollsters, only 1 will answer the polling question, while the remaining 6 refuse to answer.
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But now also consider these newly released stats showing that distrust of the media has hit an all-time high, and most importantly that Republicans and independents are twice as likely to distrust the media as Democrats:

That the non-cooperating 86% of contacts are twice as likely to be Republicans and independents as they are to be Democrats.

This imputes a HUGE skew into all poll results, a skew that is rarely acknowledged.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:09 PM | Permalink