December 26, 2012

"Brillant. They won't be expecting that"

When children imagine how God came up with the idea of Christmas.  Absolutely charming.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:56 AM | Permalink

Gifts from an old woman

A new blog to me and a delightful one is Mme Scherzo who posts countless times a day sharing beauty she has discovered.

She's chosen this portrait by Denner Balthasar, a German portraitist (1685-17490  as her avatar.  Isn't it a gorgeous painting of an old woman.

 Mme Scherzo Balthasar Denner

This is what she says about Christmas

I would say Merry Christmas to some of my more surlier atheist friends and acquaintances, but seeing how this annoys them, just let me say this instead:

“May the glory and joy of Our Savior’s birth kindle in you a desire to know the One who created you, and who loves you enough to lay aside His Glory for a scant 33 years to live among us, and to reconcile us to Him. It is a free gift, given to people of free will. You can take it or leave it.

Just don’t take it from us, is all I ask.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:25 AM | Permalink

December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:07 AM | Permalink

December 21, 2012

How Charles Dickens Saved Christmas

Why Dickens’ ‘Carol’ is the most important Christmas tale in The Capital Hill Times via Deacon Greg.

I'm also using the same image he did because Alistair Sims in the 1951 production of The Christmas Carol directed by Brian Desmond Herst was the very best Scrooge.  You can watch the entire movie on YouTube

 Alistair Sim Scrooge

Dickens came to write “Carol” while at a low ebb. His pervious book had not been popular and he was struggling. He was working on nonfiction pamphlets about the horrendous working conditions of children in Manchester. But the visions of Ignorance and Want that he saw on the faces of the starved, overworked and ragged children inspired him, and he worked backwards from the scene in which the Spirit of Christmas Present shows Scrooge those children to compose the whole tale.

He “laughed and wept and laughed again” as he walked 15 to 20 miles a day in the streets of London, composing the story in his head, then locking himself away from friends and his family for weeks.

It was an immediate hit. Instantly plagiarized onstage and sold in bootleg editions, the story made Dickens little money in its fancy first printing. But it made him famous. When he died decades later a little girl was heard to say, “Mr. Dickens is dead? Is Father Christmas dead as well?”
--
Dickens invented the Christmas tale with “A Carol,” and it has been played on by many subsequent authors, but what makes it the best of all the Christmas tales is its thesis: Stop and think about your life. Live in a thoughtful fashion, filled with compassion. Have hope and love your fellow man. Christmas Day is just the focus of this spirit.

Some historians believe that this story, and this story alone, is responsible for our continued observance of Christmas. It revived very old customs that had been on the verge of dying out. But there is an urgent subtext that drives this tale, and it is in the mouth of Scrooge when he says to a group of businessmen who came to him for a donation to the poor, “If they had rather die, they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”
--
This was a popular contention spurred by the influence of Thomas Malthus, a pernicious science essayist of the late 18th century, who argued that poor people were a social burden to all and should die. This is partly why so many Irish died in the Irish Potato Famine a few years after “A Carole” was written. The English government, which had controlled and occupied Ireland for centuries, took the position that these poor and starving people were surplus and a burden. Millions of Irish died by inches of starvation, even as their country was exporting food. The English government stopped charitable organizations from helping the Irish.

This story was Charles Dickens’ rebuke of this kind of thinking. He shows the reader the Cratchet family, with many children and one, Tiny Tim, dying by inches because he did not get enough food or medical attention.
--
Let us be compassionate to each other, see past the blinding and thick commercial haze that covers this holiday, celebrate our affection for each other and open our hearts to all. As Dickens wrote, “We choose this time, because it is a time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:50 PM | Permalink

"Just spunk won’t be enough; you’ve got to have gumption."

James Agee was an author, journalist, poet, screenwriter and influential film critic and a hard drinker and chain smoker who died of a heart attack in 1955 when he was only 45.    He left little money for his family and an almost completed manuscript of an autobiographical novel.    His own father died when he was six.  A Death in the Family was released posthumously, winning for Agee the Pulitizer Prize for fiction in 1958 and inclusion on Time magazine's 2005 list of the 100 best English-language novels written since 1923. 

Agee+Death In Family

Penguin Classics republished the book in 2009 on the 100th anniversary of Agee's birth, saying 

A Death in the Family remains a near-perfect work of art, an autobiographical novel that contains one of the most evocative depictions of loss and grief ever written. As Jay Follet hurries back to his home in Knoxville, Tennessee, he is killed in a car accident?a tragedy that destroys not only a life, but also the domestic happiness and contentment of a young family. A novel of great courage, lyric force, and powerful emotion, A Death in the Family is a masterpiece of American literature.

I thought of it again in the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy and I highly recommend it for anyone struggling with loss and grief.  This is a quote from the book.

Just spunk won’t be enough; you’ve got to have gumption. You’ve got to bear it in mind that nobody that ever lived is specially privileged; the axe can fall at any moment, on any neck, without any warning or any regard for justice. You’ve got to keep your mind off of pitying your own rotten luck and setting up any kind of howl about it. You’ve got to remember that things as bad as this and a hell of a lot worse have happened to millions of people before and that they’ve come through it and you can too. You’ll bear it because there isn’t any choice—except to go to pieces… It’s kind of a test, Mary, and it’s the only kind that amounts to anything. When something rotten like this happens. Then you have your choice. You start to really be alive, or you start to die. That’s all.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:29 AM | Permalink

Christmas trees you can make yourself

Look at these clever and witty 33 ideas for do-it-yourself Christmas trees

 Hardcover -Christmas-Tree-

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:47 AM | Permalink

December 18, 2012

People do wonderful things

I needed this.  Sometimes you need a reminder that people can do wonderful things.

26 Moments That Restored Our Faith In Humanity This Year

 We Have Power

And surveillance cameras catch some of it.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:49 PM | Permalink

December 17, 2012

New Common Core State Standards Drop Literature for 'Informational Texts'

If you thought it was bad enough that the federal government was deciding how much food could be served to high school students, now they want to get rid of literature in favor government manuals.

Schools in America are to drop classic books such as Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird and JD Salinger's Catcher in the Rye from their curriculum in favor of 'informational texts'.

American literature classics are to be replaced by insulation manuals and plant inventories in US classrooms by 2014.

A new school curriculum which will affect 46 out of 50 states will make it compulsory for at least 70 per cent of books studied to be non-fiction, in an effort to ready pupils for the workplace.

Books such as JD Salinger's Catcher in the Rye and Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird will be replaced by "informational texts" approved by the Common Core State Standards.

Suggested non-fiction texts include Recommended Levels of Insulation by the the US Environmental Protection Agency, and the Invasive Plant Inventory, by California's Invasive Plant Council.

The new educational standards have the backing of the influential National Governors' Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, and are being part-funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Goodbye, Liberal Arts?

What if I told you that Obama’s education-policy reforms, arguably pushed through without the good graces of the law, were crippling children’s imaginations, stifling their creativity, and on the whole setting them up to become less moral, kind, empathetic people? It’s a strong statement, but one moored in fact. The president’s push for states to accept new curriculum standards should give chills to anyone who believes in the importance of the liberal arts. If you think it’s good for kids to read stories, these changes will probably disturb you.
--
The new standards change how public schools teach reading, requiring that 50 percent of the texts read in grades K through 5 be informational. By twelfth grade, that figure rises to 70 percent.
--
Professor Stephen Smith teaches at Hillsdale. ...When he taught high school, he found explaining the importance of fiction and poetry to be one of his greatest challenges. He offers the following defense of teaching lit to high-schoolers: “To experience great works that move you through their beauty to wonder and reason — this has always been in our tradition the beginning of serious reflection on the human person, on the best way to live, on those serious questions that sooner or later all of us must confront, and that the young really want answers to now.”
--
Reading great literature helps students start to know themselves so they can begin “a life of reflection, a life wide awake,” Smith says. “Socrates said most folks sleepwalk through existence, and these books have a tremendous awakening power.” It’s safe to say that reading FedViews doesn’t……reading great literature can help students cultivate their emotions and capacity for empathy. It’s hard to write this without sounding sentimental, but stories bring us together and keep us together. Factoids do not.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:25 AM | Permalink

December 11, 2012

Smorgasbord of delightful links

"Aid is just a stop-gap. Commerce [and] entrepreneurial capitalism takes more people out of poverty than aid." said U2's Bono in a speech at Georgetown.

I hope he makes a mint.  Pet owner invents a doggie doorbell after his pooch kept scratching door to be let outside

Santa lulls a fussy newborn back to sleep

 Santa's Baby


THEY RUN NEW YORK

It seemed like nobody in New York had gasoline during Sandy, but all the union men in Brooklyn mysteriously had three full cans in their garage. If you want tickets to a sold-out show or you want to see a closed exhibit at the Met, it’s not a problem. They drink for free, eat for free, and renovate their homes with supplies stolen from a building site. In a multicultural metropolis revolving around money, this strange sect has maintained a century-old monoculture that exists under the radar and thrives on the barter system. It seems archaic when you first encounter it, but a quick glance at where America is headed makes it clear the Brooklyn way is our future. So instead of putting them on some nostalgic pedestal, go meet them. You could learn a lot from dese fuggin’ idiots.

In 2010 I posted what Theodore Dalyrmple wrote about Political Correctness and I post again because it bears repeating

Political correctness is communist propaganda writ small. In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, nor to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. To assent to obvious lies is to co-operate with evil, and in some small way to become evil oneself. One’s standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control. I think if you examine political correctness, it has the same effect and is intended to.

Another astonishing medical breakthrough Turning urine into brain cells. 

A new method for generating brain cells from urine samples could be useful for research into neurodegenerative diseases and for screening for new drugs.

It was a babysitting experience that turned out into a fatal attraction

 Monkey In Ikea-1

Noah's Ark Great Flood may have happened, says Robert Ballard, the underwater archaeologist who found the Titanic.

In an interview with ABC News's Christiane Amanpour, Mr Ballard explains that he investigated a theory proposed by two scientists from Columbia University that there was a massive flood in the Black Sea region. They believe that the Black Sea was once an isolated freshwater lake surrounded by farmland until it was flooded by a torrent of water.

"We went in there to look for the flood," he told ABC News. "Not just a slow moving, advancing rise of sea level, but a really big flood that then stayed … The land that went under stayed under."

Although they did not find the Ark, they found an ancient shoreline which Mr Ballard believes is proof such an event did take place. He believes that, by using carbon dating shells found along the shoreline, it took place around 5,000 BC.

"It probably was a bad day," he said. "At some magic moment, it broke through and flooded this place violently, and a lot of real estate, 150,000 square kilometers of land, went under."

Why compete with your neighbor's Christmas lights?

 Ditto Lights

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:53 PM | Permalink

Health roundup: Emma: her cancer beat using HIV virus, Mad-Cow, Beer and Doctor causes staph outbreak

Most astonishing medical news of the week, Doctors Save a Little Girl's Life by Reprogramming the HIV Virus to Fight Cancer Cells

Drug company Novartis is betting $20 million on a cancer treatment that seems to have saved a little girl's life…. Just last spring, six-year-old leukemia victim Emma Whitehead was "near death," having gone through chemotherapy twice without success.

But then her parents put Emma through an experimental treatment at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. They infected her with a version of HIV, reprogrammed to attack cancer cells.

Whitehead almost died, but the treatment worked and now she's in remission — and doing cartwheels all over her house.
Grady says the treatment hasn't worked for all patients.

 Emma Whitehead 6Mo Later

It worked completely on three adults. Four treated adults have merely improved. A child relapsed. The treatment failed two adults completely.

The full story in The New York Times, A Breakthrough Against Leukemia Using Altered T-Cells

 Emma Whitehead

“Our goal is to have a cure, but we can’t say that word,” said Dr. Carl June, who leads the research team at the University of Pennsylvania. He hopes the new treatment will eventually replace bone-marrow transplantation, an even more arduous, risky and expensive procedure that is now the last hope when other treatments fail in leukemia and related diseases.
---
Despite the mixed results, cancer experts not involved with the research say it has tremendous promise, because even in this early phase of testing it has worked in seemingly hopeless cases. “I think this is a major breakthrough,” said Dr. Ivan Borrello, a cancer expert and associate professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
--
Dr. Michel Sadelain, who conducts similar studies at the Sloan-Kettering Institute, said: “These T-cells are living drugs. With a pill, you take it, it’s eliminated from your body and you have to take it again.” But T-cells, he said, “could potentially be given only once, maybe only once or twice or three times.”
--
So far, her parents say, Emma seems to have taken it all in stride. She went back to school this year with her second-grade classmates, and though her grades are high and she reads about 50 books a month, she insists impishly that her favorite subjects are lunch and recess.

“It’s time for her to be a kid again and get her childhood back,” Mr. Whitehead said.

Mad-Cow Disease May Hold Clues To Other Neurological Disorders and it all has to do with a misfolded protein.

Is there anything beer can't do?  Beer May Have Anti-Virus Properties reports a Sapporo Brewery-funded study.

Researchers at Sapporo Medical University found that humulone, a chemical compound in hops, was effective against the respiratory syncytial (RS) virus, AFP reports. In addition, humulone was also found to have an anti-inflammatory effect …"The RS virus can cause serious pneumonia and breathing difficulties for infants and toddlers, but no vaccination is available at the moment to contain it," Jun Fuchimoto, a researcher from the beer company, told AFP.
--
Since only small quantities of humulone can be found in beer, researchers say a person would have to drink about 30 12 oz. cans of the alcoholic drink to benefit from the anti-virus effect, ….Sapporo Breweries now hopes to create humulone-containing food and (non-alcoholic) beverages that both adults and children can consume.

Heart surgeon operates with inflammation on his hands, staph outbreak ensues at Cedars -Sinai Medical Center.  He wore gloves but they developed microscopic tears  The doctor no longer performs surgeries though he's still on the medical staff said the hospital who refused to release his name.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:18 PM | Permalink

Older parenthood brings significant risks before and after birth

I've come across more than a few significant articles in the past few days on why having children early in life is better for children and parents which runs counter to the prevailing conventional wisdom.  Over the next week, I will post about several of them. 

The first is an article In The New Republic by Judith Shulevitz who warns us of the scary consequences of the grayest generation.     

How Older Parenthood Will Upend American Society

We might even change the course of our evolutionary future. For we are bringing fewer children into the world and producing a generation that will be subtly different—“phenotypically and biochemically different,” as one study I read put it—from previous generations.
--
In the scientists’ study, published in Nature, they concluded that the number of genetic mutations that can be acquired from a father increases by two every year of his life, and doubles every 16, so that a 36-year-old man is twice as likely as a 20-year-old to bequeath de novo mutations to his children.

The Nature study ended by saying that the greater number of older dads could help to explain the 78 percent rise in autism cases over the past decade. Researchers have suspected links between autism and parental age for years.
---
That old wives’ tale about hot baths or tight underwear leading to male infertility? It’s true. “
--
[T]he odds of bearing a schizophrenic child moved up in a straight line as a man got older.
---
Clomid, or clomiphene citrate, which has become almost as common as aspirin in women undergoing fertility treatments, came out particularly badly in the recent New England Journal of Medicine study that rang alarm bells about ART and birth defects. “I think it’s an absolute time bomb,” Michael Davies, the study’s lead researcher and a professor of pediatrics at the University of Adelaide in Australia, told me
--

A feminist triumph?  Shulevitz goes on to write

A REMARKABLE FEATURE of the new older parenting is how happy women seem to be about it. It’s considered a feminist triumph.
---
Study after study has shown that the children of older parents grow up in wealthier households, lead more stable lives, and do better in school.
--
the unpopular but fairly obvious point that older parents die earlier in their children’s lives. (“We got a lot of blowback in terms of reproductive rights and all that,” the gynecologist told me.
--
There’s an entire body of sociological literature on how parents’ deaths affect children, and it suggests that losing a parent distresses young adults more than older adults, low-income young adults more than high-income ones, and daughters more than sons. Curiously, the early death of a mother correlates to a decline in physical health in both sexes, and the early death of a father correlates to increased drinking among young men.
--
WHEN WE LOOK BACK at this era from some point in the future, I believe we’ll identify the worldwide fertility plunge as the most important legacy of old-age parenting.
--
If you’re a doctor, you see clearly what is to be done, and you’re sure it will be. “People are going to change their reproductive habits,” said Alan S. Brown, a professor of psychiatry and epidemiology at the Columbia University medical school and the editor of an important anthology on the origins of schizophrenia. They will simply have to “procreate earlier,” he replied. As for men worried about the effects of age on children, they will “bank sperm and freeze it.”

The Anchoress writes about the same article in Older Parents, Weaker Children, Future America and zooms in on the IVF and other "outside practices that are messing with design."

Another popular procedure coming under renewed scrutiny is ICSI (intracy to plasmic sperm injection). In ICSI, sperm or a part of a sperm is injected directly into an extracted egg. In the early ’90s, when doctors first started using ICSI, they added it to in vitro fertilization only when men had low sperm counts, but today doctors perform ICSI almost routinely—procedures more than doubled between 1999 and 2008. And y et, ICSI shows up in the studies as having higher rates of birth defects than any other popular fertility procedure. Among other possible reasons, ICSI allows sperm to bypass a crucial step in the fertilization of the egg—the binding of the head of the sperm with the coat of the egg. Forcing the sperm to penetrate the coat may be nature’s way of maintaining quality control.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:44 PM | Permalink

Is Poverty becoming the new normal?

One million Americans entered poverty in the last two months

Release delayed until after the election. Number of Americans on food stamps,  47.1 million,  not only a new all time record, but the monthly increase of 420,947 from July was the biggest monthly increase in one year.

in August and September, over three times as many foodstamp recipients were add to the economy as jobs (324,000).

Robert J. Samuelson  Is the economy creating a lost generation?

This is not a good time to be starting out in life. Jobs are scarce, and those that exist often pay unexpectedly low wages. Beginning a family — always stressful and uncertain — is increasingly a stretch. The weak economy begets weak family formation. We instinctively know this; several new studies now deepen our understanding.

When the labor market operates smoothly, it creates an economic escalator. Just out of high school or college, young workers typically switch jobs frequently until they find something that fits their talent and temperament. Job changes often mean higher pay; people move to advance themselves. The more they succeed, the more confident they feel in marrying and having children.
--
Fully one-fifth of younger workers belong to the “underemployed.” As Shierholz notes, the young always have higher unemployment rates. It’s just worse now.


There may not only a lost generation but also lost states who have made everything worse by never facing up to their own debt.

In California, schools are taking virtual pay day loans to keep operating and end up getting only more deeper in debt.  According to NPR, one California school district, "a $2.5 million bond will cost the district a whopping $34 million to repay." 

In New York, the state is still repaying debt from the bonds it issued when the state sold Attica prison to itself during Mario Cuomo’s governorship in the early 1990s. The state has continually refinanced the debt and extended the term of the borrowing rather than repay it.

Michael Barone, Soul-crushing Dependency

“This is painful for a liberal to admit,” writes liberal New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, in Profiting from a Child's Illiteracy,  “but conservatives have a point when they suggest that America’s safety net can sometimes entangle people in soul-crushing dependency.

Kristof is writing from Breathitt County, Ky., deep in the Appalachian mountains, about mothers whose Supplemental Security Income benefits will decrease if their children learn to read.

Evidently SSI administrators decided to be more generous to parents of such children. But, as Kristof notes, giving parents an incentive to keep children from learning to read works against the children’s long-term interest.

Kristof’s column makes a point similar to that in my Dec. 2 Examiner column on the vast rise in people receiving Social Security Disability Insurance payments. As with SSI, one imagines that those responsible for extending benefits to those not previously eligible did so out of a sense of generosity. But as I noted, “there is also a human cost. Consider the plight of someone who at some level knows he can work but decides to collect disability payments instead. That person is not likely to ever seek work again, especially if the sluggish recovery turns out to be the new normal. He may be gleeful that he was able to game the system or just grimly determined to get what he can in a tough situation. But he will not be able to get the satisfaction of earned success from honest work that contributes something to society and the economy.” Generosity that produces “soul-crushing dependency” is not really generosity.

Ace comments on Barone and expands the discussion to the dismal failure of the government-run, i.e. public school system.

When the media natters Republicans about intransigence and being held prisoner to their most "extreme" and ideological elements-- how come never a single word is mentioned about Democrats' evil obedience to the teachers' unions?

The incredible thing here is that almost every liberal will admit this, and almost every liberal in the business of politics has seen the documentary Waiting for Superman. They know the current system is more of a trap for, say, poor black kids than Jim Crow ever was.  And what do they propose doing about it? Absolutely nothing. Absolutely nothing.
---
A reformer in Waiting for Superman made this point: If school districts had the power to fire (without the heavy union interference) merely the bottom 6% of teachers, 90% of the problems with public education would be solved.  But Democrats will never permit that. That 6% that is in danger of being fired are the most fired-up members of the Teachers Unions, because their livelihoods depend on the policy of absolutely no terminations for incompetency, and those most fired-up members of the Teachers Unions are in turn the shock troops of the Democratic turnout machine…..

It's the ultimate Cult of the Old -- we do this because we have always done so before. Not a single Member of the Herd of Independent Thinkers ever demonstrates all this "courage" they're always complimenting themselves for to question this demonic policy.

How tough it is these days to get out of poverty.  In Rust Belt, a teenager’s climb from poverty

Tabi shared the rental house with her mother and sometimes her mother’s boyfriend. Her four older siblings were grown. None of them had graduated from high school. They wore headsets and hairnets to jobs that were so futureless that getting pregnant at 20 seemed an enriching diversion. Born too late to witness the blue-collar stability that had once been possible, they occupied the bottom of the U.S. economy.

“I’m running from everything they are,” she said.
--
Her mother had five kids and no husband at age 23. Tabi, the last born, was a welfare and WIC baby who grew up with evictions and lights getting cut off. Her 39-year-old mother remembers it differently.

The only people who are doing well are government employees. Americans believe public workers better paid and more secure (Bingo!)

"The federal workforce has become an elite island of secure and high-paid workers, separated from the ocean of average American workers competing in the global economy," according to a report this year by the Cato Institute.

That report found the average civilian federal government worker collected just under $84,000 a year in taxpayer money, about $32,000 more than the average private sector worker. That's a total federal worker package of about $236 billion a year.
---
Even a plurality (48%) of government employees admit their private industry counterparts do work harder.

Another 67% believe that government workers have greater job security than those in the production- profit-driven private sector,

These two states in terrible financial situations,  California and New York, top the charts in the amount they pay their government workers.    There's been a 100%+ increase in California employee state pay since 2005 and at least one state psychiatrist earned $822,000 in one year !

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:36 PM | Permalink

December 10, 2012

Unused FEMA trailers yet many Sandy victims are still homeless

Sandy victims still struggling to find warm housing

Six weeks after Sandy hit the New Jersey and New York coast, residents are still struggling and in desperate need of shelter. Many hard-hit victims are not getting help despite President Barack Obama’s pledge of the full support of the federal government, and they are dealing with red tape the president said would not be tolerated.

In the Red Hook community of Brooklyn, N.Y., many residents are still living in their unheated, powerless homes in freezing temperatures. Help from the government for residents has not come.

One victim from the Midland Beach section of Staten Island is living out of his car, going from one house to another each day in search of a warm bed. Dozens of residents are living in their sewer-flooded homes without heat or power in Gerritsen Beach.

Thousands living in hotels courtesy of FEMA are about to lose their rooms. Hotel stays for victims are set to expire on Dec. 13. That would force tens of thousands into the cold, which could prove a public relations disaster for the Obama administration and FEMA.
---
Staten Island resident Billy Stout said he is living out of his car and jumping from one house to another.

“It’s tough,” he said.

Stout went to FEMA for assistance and was told he should apply for a SBA loan. He asked why he would apply for a loan as he is disabled and on Social Security disability. He said FEMA told him that once he’s denied for the loan they could give him assistance. That assistance came after three weeks in the amount of $2,400. He cannot find a rental unless he travels two hours away.

“I don’t think the government has done enough. They could be doing more,” said Stout, suggesting FEMA “could put up trailers at the closed Arthur Kill Correctional Facility or at Miller’s Field. There is so much space there. Then people would have a warm place to stay. I don’t know why they don’t do that.”

Neither do I since there are at least 92 unused FEMA trailers in Pennsylvania  and 520 in Missouri and who knows how many elsewhere are lying unused.

Does FEMA even keep track of their trailers that could be moved to places in great need?

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:37 AM | Permalink

December 8, 2012

Facing Retirement

Here's one way to get you saving for your retirement .  Know What You'll Look Like in 30 Years

Chances are good, however, that you’re not saving enough for your retirement. To convince you to sock away enough gold for your golden years, Merrill Edge has launched an online magic mirror to remind you that you won’t be forever young.

Face Retirement lives up to the catty double meaning in its name. Using a facial aging algorithm, the web app snaps a photo of you with your laptop’s camera and then shows you what you’ll look like at 47, 57, 67 and so on, all the way to 107.
---
In a 2011 study cited by Merrill Edge (Merrill Lynch’s online discount brokerage), Stanford behavioral economics researchers say that we’re often reluctant to save for retirement because deep down we don’t identify with that older person we’ll one day be: “To people estranged from their future selves, saving is like a choice between spending money today or giving it to a stranger years from now.”

Via Instapundit
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:19 PM | Permalink

The Real-life Dr. House

For Second Opinion, Consult a Computer?

Professionals in every field revere their superstars, and in medicine the best diagnosticians are held in particularly high esteem. Dr. Gurpreet Dhaliwal, 39, a self-effacing associate professor of clinical medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, is considered one of the most skillful clinical diagnosticians in practice today.


 Real Life Dr. House

--
To observe him at work is like watching Steven Spielberg tackle a script or Rory McIlroy a golf course. He was given new information bit by bit — lab, imaging and biopsy results. Over the course of the session, he drew on an encyclopedic familiarity with thousands of syndromes. He deftly dismissed red herrings while picking up on clues that others might ignore, gradually homing in on the accurate diagnosis.

Just how special is Dr. Dhaliwal’s talent? More to the point, what can he do that a computer cannot? Will a computer ever successfully stand in for a skill that is based not simply on a vast fund of knowledge but also on more intangible factors like intuition?
--

When working on a difficult case in front of an audience, Dr. Dhaliwal puts his entire thought process on display, with the goal of “elevating the stature of thinking,” he said. He believes this is becoming more important because physicians are being assessed on whether they gave the right medicine to a patient, or remembered to order a certain test.

Without such emphasis, physicians and training programs might forget the importance of having smart, thoughtful doctors. “Because in medicine,” Dr. Dhaliwal said, “thinking is our most important procedure.”
--
An expert clinical diagnostician like Dr. Dhaliwal might make a decision without being able to explain exactly what is going on in the back of his mind, as his subconscious continuously sifts the wheat from the chaff.
--

Isabel, the diagnostic program that Dr. Dhaliwal sometimes uses, was created by Jason Maude, a former money manager in London, who named it for his daughter. At age 3, Isabel came down with chickenpox and doctors failed to spot a far more dangerous complication — necrotizing fasciitis, a flesh-eating infection. By the time the disease was identified, Isabel had lost so much flesh that at age 17 she is still having plastic surgery.
--
He added that Isabel was aimed not so much at the Dr. Dhaliwals of the world, but at more typical physicians.

Dr. David J. Brailer, chief executive of Health Evolution Partners, which invests in health care companies, agreed. “If everyone was a diagnostic genius, we wouldn’t need these decision support tools,” he said.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:56 PM | Permalink

Insult to Injury

New York City Hits Sandy Victims With ‘Failure To Maintain’ Property Citation

And What's More, The Tree Causing All The Fuss Was City's Responsibility

The Department of Buildings said the citation is a mere formality. It’s a way to keep track of all downed trees.

But for people in this neighborhood…it’s a permanent mark on their property that they want removed from the records.

“They’re not only upset, but they’re insulted. And they’re nervous! They don’t know what’s going to happen as a result of having this violation,” said Elaine Young of the local neighborhood association.

Jersey shore home vanishes

"The township didn't know what happened. I called the governor's office and asked the assistant what happened. She said to me, 'Are you sure your house is gone? 'I said 'Miss, you misplace your pen or pencil. You don't misplace your house.'"

---
He said he was never told that his home would be demolished and all his possessions thrown away.

"I just want to know where my house went, why was it removed, and why wasn't I afforded the opportunity to get my personal belongings," he said.

The culprit?  The Department of Transportation

In a statement, the department said: "The structure in question… was pushed off its foundation and jammed against another house that had come to rest in the middle of the street. The two houses had sandwiched a utility pole. Our crews did not take down any structure unless it was deemed to be unsafe…"

FEMA teams told to 'sightsee' as Sandy victims suffered

A FEMA worker who spoke to FoxNews.com described a chaotic scene at New Jersey's Fort Dix, where emergency workers arrived as the storm bore down on the Atlantic Coast. The worker said officials at the staging area were unprepared and told the incoming responders there was nothing for them to do for nearly four days.

“They told us to hurry, hurry, hurry," the worker, who works at the agency's headquarters in Washington and volunteered to deploy for the storm recovery effort. "We rushed to Fort Dix, only to find out that our liaison didn’t even know we were coming.”

“The regional coordinator even said to us, ‘I don’t know why you were rushed here because we don’t need you,'” said the worker, who spoke out of frustration with the lack of planning and coordination following the devastating storm.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:52 PM | Permalink

"No tag shall in time of peace be placed on mattresses quartered in any house without the consent of the owner"

Some constitutional amendments I could get behind.  Don Surber writes Fight for the right to be left alone

• Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of a health care insurance system, or prohibiting riding a motorcycle without a helmet; or abridging the freedom of hate speech, or of the politically incorrect press; or the right of the people to party, and to petition the government to leave them the heck alone.

• A well-lit household being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear incandescent light bulbs shall not be infringed.

• No tag shall in time of peace be placed on mattresses quartered in any house without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

• The right of the people to be secure in their bathrooms, bedrooms and thoughts, against unreasonable rules and regulations, shall not be violated.

• No person shall be held to answer for a picayune rule or otherwise petty regulation, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:18 PM | Permalink

December 7, 2012

"Without the churches, people would be starving in the street"

That's Who's feeding the starving people who don't have, won't apply or used up their government benefits.   

They are the ultimate safety net for countless people.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:30 PM | Permalink

All sorts of interesting stuff

Bill Whittle on The Narrative: The origins of political correctness.  Not to be missed.

Pantone declares emerald green is the color for 2013  with 'its  sense of clarity, renewal and rejuvenation", which is so important in today’s complex world. This powerful and universally appealing tone translates easily to both fashion and home interiors.”

 Emerald-Pantone-17-5641

This rich shade—number 17-5641 in Pantone LLC's numerical lexicon—is the color of a four-leaf clover.
--
Pantone determines the "it" color each year in a process that is more survey work than prognostication. It polls industrial, fashion, interior and other designers and brands about the colors they're already working with.

Domestic violence is substantially more common in two-income homes than in homes where the woman is home and the man works
Levels of income and education had little influence.  My friend, a pediatrician, confirms this.  She also income or education has little influence on the sexual abuse of children.

 Nypd Larry Deprimo Boots Homeless Man  After this photo of a NYPD officer putting socks and boots on a homeless man sped around the world, he was identified as Officer Larry DePrimo who is interviewed below.

Alicia Colon writes that the photo reminds her of the cops she knew as a child when she lived in Spanish Harlem, A Man for All Seasons,

Colleges have free speech on the run writes George Will.

Five Hours of Plane Landing in 30 seconds at San Diego International Airport.  Astonishing and scary.

Fast and Furious in Libya The New York Times reports US -Approved Arms for Libya Rebels Fell Into Jihadi't Hands.

The astonishing interactive map that shows every bomb dropped on London during The Blitz

College students more eager for marriage than their parents

4 Benefits of Marrying Young

4. Fewer relationships are better.
3. You can enjoy the journey of growing together.
2. Sex and babies are for the young
1. Marrying early avoids the shacking-up trap

How Women and Men See Things Differently  with a great graphic.

From Real Clear Science. Why Strict Atheism Is Unscientific

Just as it's a leap of faith for a religious person to assert that God incontrovertibly exists, it's an equally large leap for a strict atheist to declare, without question, that God does not exist.

"We're all adults here, it's time we take our freedom back."  Electronic cigarettes are booming.  No ash, no smell, no smoke, just vapor.

In the New Yorker, A Chunky History of Peanut Butter

Peanut butter, the everyman staple, which contains neither butter nor nuts (peanuts are legumes), originated as a health food of the upper classes.

“Do you realize,” he exclaimed one day, “that from the time the Romans left Britain until the arrival of the American heiresses, this country was completely without central heating?”

The city attorney who advised the city's citizens to "Lock your doors and load your guns."

The female author who left school at 16 and became a professional writer by 20, “If the whole human race lay in one grave, the epitaph on its headstone might well be: ‘It seemed like a good idea at the time.’”

So You Want My Job: Master Penman

 Zebra Master Penman

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:30 AM | Permalink

December 6, 2012

" I seek in every way to show with my face a good humanity "

 Fr. Michel-Marie  Fr. Michel-Marie, a Cassock in Deep Marseille

The life, works, and miracles of a priest in a city of France. Who has made the faith blossom again where it had withered

A pastor whose Masses are crowded with people. Who hears confessions every evening until late at night. Who has baptized many converts. Who always wears the cassock so that everyone may recognize him as a priest even from far away.

Michel-Marie Zanotti-Sorkine was born in 1959 in Nice, to a family a bit Russian and a bit Corsican. As a young man he sang in the nightclubs in Paris, but then over the years there emerged the vocation to the priesthood he had had since his childhood.
--
From the feature by Marina Corradi

But in reality the story is even more complicated: Michel-Marie Zanotti-Sorkine, 53, is descended from a Russian Jewish grandfather who immigrated into France and had his daughters baptized before the war. One of these daughters, who escaped from the Holocaust, brought into the world Fr. Michel-Marie, who on his father's side is half Corsican and half Italian. (What a bizarre mix, you think: and you look with amazement at his face, trying to understand what a man is like who has such a tangle of roots behind him). But if one Sunday you enter his packed church and listen to how he speaks of Christ with simple everyday words, and if you observe the religious slowness of the elevation of the host, in an absolute silence, you ask yourself who this priest is, and what it is in him that draws people, bringing back those who are far away.
---

Why the cassock? "For me" – he smiles – "It is a work uniform. It is intended to be a sign for those who meet me, and above all for those who do not believe. In this way I am recognizable as a priest, always. In this way on the streets I take advantage of every opportunity to make friends. Father, someone asks me, where is the post office? Come on, I'll go with you, I reply, and meanwhile we talk, and I discover that the children of that man are not baptized. Bring them to me, I say in the end; and I often baptize them later. I seek in every way to show with my face a good humanity. Just the other day" – he laughs – "in a cafe an old man asked me which horses he should bet on. I gave him the horses. I asked the Blessed Mother for forgiveness: but you know, I said to her, it is to befriend this man. As a priest who was one of my teachers used to tell those who asked him how to convert the Marxists: 'One has to become their friend,' he would reply."
--
And the new evangelization? "Look," he says as we say goodbye in his rectory, "the older I get, the more I understand what Benedict XVI says: everything truly starts afresh from Christ. We can only return to the source."
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:20 PM | Permalink

Decadence and Darwin

More Babies, Please by Russ Douthat

Beneath these policy debates, though, lie cultural forces that no legislator can really hope to change. The retreat from child rearing is, at some level, a symptom of late-modern exhaustion — a decadence that first arose in the West but now haunts rich societies around the globe. It’s a spirit that privileges the present over the future, chooses stagnation over innovation, prefers what already exists over what might be. It embraces the comforts and pleasures of modernity, while shrugging off the basic sacrifices that built our civilization in the first place.

Such decadence need not be permanent, but neither can it be undone by political willpower alone. It can only be reversed by the slow accumulation of individual choices, which is how all social and cultural recoveries are ultimately made.


Boy did that set off a storm.  What most bothered people was the term decadence.

Douthat responded to his critics, Don't Mention the Decadence 

Or to put it another way, if we have moral obligations to future, as-yet-unborn generations, as almost everyone seems to agree, surely those duties have to include some obligation for somebody to bring those generations into existence in the first place — to imitate the sacrifices that our parents made, and give another generation the chances that we’ve had? And if that basic obligation exists in some form, then surely there comes a point when a culture in which it’s crowded out by other goals, other pursuits and yes, other pleasures can be aptly described as … what’s the word I’m looking for … decadent?
--
Is replacement-level fertility really so much to ask, morally speaking, of people graced with wealth and entertainments and diversions beyond the dreams of any previous generation? If conspicuous consumption is morally dubious when it substitutes for sacrifices on behalf of strangers, as most good progressives seem to think, why isn’t it morally dubious when it substitutes for the more intimate form of sacrifice that made all of our lives possible in the first place?
--
Can it really be that having achieved so much independence and autonomy and professional success, today’s Western women have no moral interest in seeing that as many women are born into the possibility of similar opportunities tomorrow? Is the feminist revolution such a fragile thing that it requires outright population decline to fulfill its goals, and is female advancement really incompatible with the goal of a modestly above-replacement birthrate?
---
And what Yglesias calls nuttiness still looks like moral common sense to me — a view of intergenerational obligation that human flourishing depends on, and whose disappearance threatens to sacrifice essential goods and relationships on the altar of more transient forms of satisfaction.

Mollie Hemingway ways in Admit It: We're a Decadent People

How denigrating the practice of childrearing is viewed as a feminist triumph is beyond me.

But why can't we admit that our lack of childbearing is due to luxurious self-indulgence? Seems to me that even for those who support our current self-centered way of life, this is viewed as a feature rather than a bug of our birth control culture. Why do we have to pretend otherwise?

Megan McArdle has this to say about Our Demographic Decline

Our whole economy and social system are designed for a growing economy, and a growing population.  Without future growth, savings and investment become more necessary, but less attractive.  Without growth, people become less generous towards strangers and more unhappy about their own circumstances. And without the growth around which all of our modern welfare states have been structured, the modern safety nets that governments have spent the last century establishing may not be politically or economically sustainable. 

In a less decadent age, Darwin foreswore the self-indulgence we've come to take for granted.  The private life of Charles Darwin

In the notes – made in April and July 1938 when he was 29 years old – Darwin weighs the options, listing the positive and negative points for matrimony with a pragmatic and analytical detachment that doubtless served him well in his scientific inquiries. When choosing a soulmate though, Darwin's approach comes across as – how can I put it – a little less than romantic.

On the plus side of the ledger he cites "Children (if it Please God)" and companionship, "[an] object to be beloved and played with – better than a dog anyhow". He also approves of the health-giving benefits of the "charms of music & female chit-chat".

But he then turns to the many freedoms he worries he will miss out on – "Conversation of clever men at clubs"; "cannot read in the evenings"; "less money for books". There will also be the anxiety and responsibility of fatherhood, "fatness and idleness" and above all, "loss of time"……"How should I manage all my business if I were obliged to go every day walking with my wife.  Eheu!! I never should know French, – or see the Continent – or go to America, or go up in a Balloon, or take solitary trip in Wales – poor slave."

In the end, he decided he would be happier married.

"It is intolerable to think of spending one's whole life, like a neuter bee, working, working, and nothing after all.  No, no won't do – Imagine living all one's day solitarily in smoky dirty London."

He later married and described his wedding day as "the day of days" 
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:00 PM | Permalink

Picture of the week

 1 Dog Or Two Carrying Gift

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:59 PM | Permalink

"Fixing the health care system by government fiat is like neurosurgery with a hammer"

Obamacare Jumps the Shark in its Premiere.  Walter Russell Mead explains

One of the reasons blue programs jump the shark is that over time more and more special interests lobby politicians to get special features added. The small add-ons and tweaks make programs more expensive and complicated to administer—and much, much harder to reform. This process begins when the laws are written; the lobbyists are there to tuck special little surprises between the pages of the bill. It continues as the regulations necessary to implement the new laws are written; once again, lobbyists are on hand to mold the regs to their liking. And it persists year after year after year, as lobbyists look for ways to amend the existing laws or add new requirements by inserting language into other bills.

---
The law is a blunt instrument; fixing the health care system by government fiat is like neurosurgery with a hammer. It’s going to hurt more than you think, and will harm more than it helps. Let’s hope politicians figure that out before too much damage is done.

A Physician's New Reality: Patients Ask Me to Break the Law

I have now posted a notice in my office and each exam room stating exactly what Obamacare will cover for those yearly visits. Remember Obama promised this as a free exam — no co-pay, no deductible, no charge. That’s fine and dandy if you are healthy and have no complaints. However, we are obligated by law to code specifically for the reason of the visit.  An annual exam is one specific code; you can not mix this with another code, say, for rectal bleeding. This annual visit covers the exam and “discussion about the status of previously diagnosed stable conditions.” That’s the exact wording under that code — insurance will not cover any new ailment under that code.
--
Private doctors are becoming a thing of the past. By 2014, less than 25% of physicians will be in private medicine. Obama was right in stating you can keep your doctor if you want to — the problem is he or she will rarely be available.

On top of all of that, doctors will be obligated — that’s right, obligated — to talk to you about things you may have no interest or need to talk about.  You may just want to have a pap smear or check your cholesterol. However, I am now mandated by the government to talk to you about your weight, exercise, family life, smoking, sexual abuse(!), and even to ask if you wear seat belts. And I am mandated to record your answers.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:41 AM | Permalink

The "Pinocchio Effect" illustrated

Researchers Confirm the “Pinocchio Effect”: When you Lie, your Nose Temperature Raises

  Red Nose Pinocchio Effect

Using thermography,researchers at the University of Granada, Department of Experimental Psychology report:

When you lie, your nose temperature rises.
---
When a mental effort is made (performing difficult tasks, being interrogated on a specific event or lying) face temperature changes.
---
When we lie on our feelings, the temperature around our nose raises and a brain element called “insula” is activate.
---
When a person is dancing flamenco the temperature in their buttocks drops and increases in their forearms.  Each dance modality has a specific thermal footprint.
--
When a highly empathic person sees another person having an electric discharge in their forearm, they become infected by their suffering and temperature in their forearm increases.
---
Sexual excitement and desire can be identified in men and women using thermography, since they induce an increase in chest and genital temperature.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:40 AM | Permalink

Christianphobia when 200 million Christians suffer oppression even to the point of death

A Church Besieged

As anxious as many Christians are about religious freedom in America, nothing we’ve experienced—and God willing, never will—comes close to the brutal persecution of Christians abroad. The stunning extent of this persecution is documented in Times Literary Supplement religion editor Rupert Shortt’s evenhanded and unsettling new book, Christianophobia: A Faith Under Attack.

Some 200 million Christians—two-thirds of the entire population of the United States—are now suffering oppression, even to the point of death, on account of their faith. Yet, if you ask the average person about it, they probably wouldn’t know anything about Christianity’s modern martyrdom, much less know where and why it’s occurring.
---
Speaking to Shortt last week, we discussed the crisis, and he underscored the complexities and difficulties involved in overcoming it.

This story is being downplayed, he said, because of subliminal reasons, both secular and religious. On the secular side, much of the media has disdain for Christianity, and considers it not only regressive, but dangerous—an attitude broadly shared by intellectuals, academics, and celebrities. Christianity is mistakenly seen as an exclusively “Western” religion, and part of the West’s assumed imperialism.

Given that perspective, who wants to be seen openly sympathizing with such an unfashionable lot as practicing Christians? Shortt calls this “the blind spots that can affect bien-pensant opinion-formers.” Add to this the latter’s reluctance to question any aspect of Islamic culture (even though many reform-minded Muslims do); and the idea that Islamophobia is more intense and widespread than Christianophobia (even as human rights organizations document just the reverse), and you begin to understand the depths of the problem.

And yet, paradoxically, it is Christian theology itself that also explains the current situation. Christianity’s teachings on love, humility, forbearance, and forgiveness create a non-confrontational ethos—which is a genuine strength of persecuted Christians—but also makes it more challenging to communicate their plight.

Here is Rupert Shortt in the Telegraph: The problems faced by Christians are not by any means restricted to the Muslim world.

Take India, where minorities – Muslims included – are menaced by Hindu extremists who consider the monotheistic traditions to be unwelcome imports.
--
Elsewhere, the culprits include not only Communists, but also Buddhist nationalists in countries such as Burma and Sri Lanka. The scale of Communist intolerance is a matter of record. Curbs on freedom of worship in countries including China, Vietnam and Cuba are draconian and sometimes exceptionally sadistic.

Just this week.  Suspected Islamists  kill 10 Christians in Nigeria with guns and machetes after burning down their houses.  Boko Haram the Salafist Islamist movement which literally means "Western education is sinful" continues on its rampage against Christians, killing over 450 in the first six months of 2012.

More details of persecution at the Bulletin of Christian persecution Oct 30-Nov 30, 2012 and Persecution.org and Christian Solidarity Worldwide and Aid to the Church in Need, a Catholic charity under the guidance of the Holy Father.

Despite persecution, the Church is growing.  Theologian says China to have largest Christian population within the next two decades.

During a recent book launch in Rome, a noted theologian ( Harvey Cox, professor at the Harvard Divinity School) said that China will be home to the majority of the world's Christians within the next two decades.
--
There are two world phenomena happening right now,” he added. “The first is that we can't recognize Christianity as a western religion anymore and the second is that countries with the fastest growing number of Christians don't have a Christian culture or traditions.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:31 AM | Permalink

Health roundup: Vitamin D, MS, HIV, Coffee, Asperger's, Anti-depressants for Stroke and Pace-maker for Brain

Low Vitamin D Level Tied to Type 1 Diabetes

"Type 1 diabetes “has all the hallmarks of the kinds of diseases — rickets, scurvy, pellagra — that we prevent with vitamin supplements.”


Multiple Sclerosis Linked to Vitamin D Levels, Study Says

People with high levels of vitamin D in their blood have shown a lower risk of developing multiple sclerosis, according to results of a Swedish study released Monday.  The new study adds to a growing body of research suggesting a link between vitamin D and MS, an autoimmune disease that affects the brain and spinal cord that is believed to afflict more than a quarter-million Americans. The research will be published in Tuesday's edition of the medical journal Neurology.
--
Researchers have speculated that low vitamin D levels increase risk for developing a number of chronic health problems, including diabetes, heart disease, various cancers—and MS.

Infected but oblivious: Young Americans with HIV often don't know

More than a quarter of new HIV infections in the U.S. occur among people ages 13 to 24, according to a new report released Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What's more, about 60% of those young people with HIV don't know they have the virus.  ...According to the CDC, about 12,200 young Americans became infected with HIV in 2010, with African Americans representing more than half of those newly infected. Young gay and bisexual people were also hit particularly hard.

The Case for Drinking as Much Coffee as You Like

"What I tell patients is, if you like coffee, go ahead and drink as much as you want and can," says Dr. Peter Martin, director of the Institute for Coffee Studies at Vanderbilt University. He's even developed a metric for monitoring your dosage: If you are having trouble sleeping, cut back on your last cup of the day. From there, he says, "If you drink that much, it's not going to do you any harm, and it might actually help you. A lot."

Asperger's Gone and other Changes to the Bible of Psychiatric Disorders

1.Autistic disorder will become autism-spectrum disorder.
2. Binge-eating disorder moves from a category of … proposed conditions that require “further study” — to a full-blown illness .
3. The definition for depression expands by removing the exception for bereavement from the definition of depression will be removed, which means psychiatrists will be able to diagnose depressive disorder even among those who have just lost a loved one. For years, skeptics have criticized the APA for its expansive meaning of depression; now that definition is even broader.
4. Tantrums more than 3 times a week can be diagnosed as “disruptive mood dysregulation disorder (DMDD),”

Anti-depressants could help stroke patients recover more quickly by 'rebuilding' the brain

'The results of this meta-analysis are extremely promising. We do not yet fully understand how anti-depressants could boost recovery after stroke, but it may be because they promote the growth of new nerve cells in the brain, or protect cells damaged by stroke.' ….by preventing depression, the drugs may help patients to be more physically active which is known to aid overall recovery.

'We now need to carry out a number of much larger clinical trials in order to establish exactly if, how and to what extent antidepressants can help stroke survivors recover.'

The revolutionary new breath test to diagnose bowel cancer

The test, which works by identifying chemicals associated with cancer tumors, is said to be 76 per cent accurate.

The 'pacemaker' implanted in the brain to prevent Alzheimer's patients losing their memory

The device, which uses deep brain stimulation, has already been used in thousands of people with Parkinson’s disease as possible means of boosting memory and reversing cognitive decline.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:56 AM | Permalink

December 4, 2012

Human nature has become politically incorrect

Charles Murray The bad news is that gentlemanly behavior makes people happy.  Feminists call it benevolent sexism and its "dangerous nature" findings emphasize the need for interventions to reduce its prevalence.  To which Murray replies:

When social scientists discover something that increases life satisfaction for both sexes, shouldn’t they at least consider the possibility that they have come across something that is positive? Healthy? Something that might even conceivably be grounded in the nature of Homo sapiens?

Feminists often seem to be at war with human nature.  How else can you explain the furor surrounding Suzanne Venker's article on The War on Men?

According to Pew Research Center, the share of women ages eighteen to thirty-four that say having a successful marriage is one of the most important things in their lives rose nine percentage points since 1997 – from 28 percent to 37 percent. For men, the opposite occurred. The share voicing this opinion dropped, from 35 percent to 29 percent.

Believe it or not, modern women want to get married. Trouble is, men don’t.
--
So if men today are slackers, and if they’re retreating from marriage en masse, women should look in the mirror and ask themselves what role they’ve played to bring about this transformation.

Fortunately, there is good news: women have the power to turn everything around. All they have to do is surrender to their nature – their femininity – and let men surrender to theirs.

If they do, marriageable men will come out of the woodwork.

The Plight of the Alpha Female  Women remain scarce in the most elite positions. And it’s by choice writes Kay Hymowitz

This just in, Boys like sports, the politically incorrect finding of a new study that tells us what we already know.

Proposed school ban on  books portraying traditional images of mothers caring for their children or fathers going out to work because they  contribute to gender stereotyping recommends EU report.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:48 AM | Permalink

Sandy aftermath: cold, sick, living without power and FEMA trailers sit unused 145 miles away

Cold, mold loom as hazards in Sandy disaster zones

City officials estimate at least 12,000 New Yorkers are trying to survive in unheated, flood-damaged homes, despite warnings that dropping temperatures could pose a health risk. Many families have returned to coastal homes contaminated with mold or filled with construction dust.

Workers who are sent into mold-infested, storm-damaged basements lack proper equipment, gear or training

The Housing Authority first asked its union partners to help with the cleaning — but union officials refused, citing the lack of training or protective clothing. So the city hired Belchor, an outside company, to do the work.

Sandy Cough Plagues Homeowners Cleaning Up

"Every morning I wake up coughing," says one Staten Island homeowner


Flailing FEMA
-

Dozens of residents are still living without heat, hot water, or electricity in condemned structures flooded by both sea and sewer water in the Gerritsen Beach community of Brooklyn after a request to FEMA for temporary housing after Hurricane Sandy was denied.

“We need structures and housing. It is truly desperate,” said Jameson Wells, executive assistant to the director of GB Cares Sandy Relief, a volunteer relief organization. FEMA has said they did not have appropriate trailers.

However, around 92 FEMA trailers are sitting idle and unused 145 miles away in Pennsylvania, the Free Beacon has found…. All of the units are equipped with heat pumps.

The Reward For Surviving Hurricane Sandy May Be Higher Taxes

The math is simple and cruel. The storm left fewer properties standing, often wrecking waterfront communities that paid the highest taxes because of the desirability of living near the water.
Unless shore towns from Rhode Island to New Jersey get a big influx of aid from the state and federal governments, which are themselves strapped for cash, they will have no choice but to raise taxes on homes and businesses that survived to make up for the loss.

Why  Kafka Would Like FEMA

Yesterday I spoke to, let’s see, eight, maybe nine different FEMA agents. Each one was there to help. Each was polite, sympathetic. Oodles of sympathy. Almost all had a form for me to fill out, a web site to visit. Each of the long, long line of people who came to see these agents went away with forms to fill out, web sites to visit…

All the agents were huddled in a suite of offices down a long corridor inside Town Hall. There was the Cerberus outside the sanctum sanctorum that made sure you had “registered with FEMA.” That done, he provided you with a routing slip that detailed the services you might be eligible for. Then you sat for an hour or two, as if you were a patient at an NHS facility in Britain, or an Obamacare facility in America in the near future. You then talked to one nice person after the next. There was this form, and that form, and a web site you could visit, and handbook you could read. At one stop I was given, for free!, a longish pamphlet explaining what I could do to make my property less liable to flood damage: “Mitigation Ideas For Reducing Flood Loss” it said on its cover. After a flood, it told me, a house needs to be dried out and cleaned. “Move things you want to save to a safe dry place.” Noted. “The longer they sit in water, the more damaged they become.” I was glad to know that.
--
I used to think that Franz Kafka exaggerated things. I see now that he was not so much a novelist or fantasist as he was a documentary artist.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:11 AM | Permalink

December 3, 2012

The Specialists

Thorkil Sonne began to see a business opportunity in the special skills of some autists (people with autism) like intense focus and careful execution and it began with his son.

In the New York Times, The Autism Advantage  by Gareth Cook

To his father, Lars seemed less defined by deficits than by his unusual skills. And those skills, like intense focus and careful execution, were exactly the ones that Sonne, who was the technical director at a spinoff of TDC, Denmark’s largest telecommunications company, often looked for in his own employees. Sonne did not consider himself an entrepreneurial type, but watching Lars — and hearing similar stories from parents he met volunteering with an autism organization — he slowly conceived a business plan: many companies struggle to find workers who can perform specific, often tedious tasks, like data entry or software testing; some autistic people would be exceptionally good at those tasks. So in 2003, Sonne quit his job, mortgaged the family’s home, took a two-day accounting course and started a company called Specialisterne, Danish for “the specialists,” on the theory that, given the right environment, an autistic adult could not just hold down a job but also be the best person for it.
---
TDC, Thorkil Sonne’s former employer, is Specialisterne’s oldest customer. When I visited its headquarters in Copenhagen in June, it was obvious why the company finds it useful to engage autistic consultants. Whenever cellphone makers introduce a new product, there are countless opportunities for glitches. The only way TDC can be sure of catching them is to load the software onto a phone and punch the phone keys over and over again, following a lengthy script of at least 200 instructions. The work is tedious, the information age equivalent of the assembly line, but also important and beyond the capacity of most people to perform well. “You will get bored, and then you will take shortcuts, and then it is worthless,” explained Johnni Jensen, a system technician at TDC.
--
Steen Iversen, a Specialsterne consultant in bluejeans and a bright red polo shirt, showed me how he tackles the task…But his real advantage is mental: he is exhaustive and relentless. When a script called for sending a “long text message,” Iverson keyed in every character the phone was capable of; it crashed. Another time, he found a flaw that could have disabled a phone’s emergency dialing capability, a problem all previous testers had missed. I asked Iversen how he feels at moments like that, and he gently pumped both fists in the air with a shy smile. “I feel victorious,” he say
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:16 PM | Permalink

The Ex Factor

[M]illions of baby boomers, who experienced record divorce rates in the wake of no-fault laws, are now aging. Men in particular often end up alone and estranged from their children. A current spouse or partner (assuming there is one) friends or siblings may be unable or unwilling to commit themselves to a care-giving role. But for some “exes” their original marital commitment still means what it said.


Caregiving for an ex.  "Till death us do part"

in many cases it did appear to be a selfless act. As we said, many women did it for their children, and it is not uncommon for mothers—of any age, to act so unselfishly when it comes to relationships with their children. There were very few women in our sample who took on the role because of lingering feelings for the ex-husband—or out of feelings that he had no one else who would do this and they felt it was the morally right thing to do. A couple of women noted that they had some guilt about their ex-husbands’ conditions; at least a few noted, for example, that maybe these men would not have ended up in such bad straights had they not divorced them. Most women we interviewed did not regret their choice to provide care to their ex-spouse.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:15 AM | Permalink

December 1, 2012

Signs of the Times

Zurich to open drive-in sex boxes in an attempt to rid the town of street prostitution.

Texas school district requires embedded microchips dubbed "locator chips"  on student badges so its administrators can track the whereabouts of 4,200 students with GPS-like precision.  ACLU and Christian fundamentalists join together to file suit.

No bride, no groom, no husband, no wife in Washington state.  Officials prepare to remove the 'archaic' terms from marriage and divorce certificates.

Harvard Students Launch Bondage Sex Club and win school recognition which means they can apply for school funding and promote their club on campus.

Saudi Offers “Castrated African Slave” for Sale on Facebook

Regulatory Stupidity. In La Jolla Cove, California, the feces of seagulls and cormorants keeps piling up and the stench carries a mile but city officials are prevented from cleaning it up, even with biodegradable cleaning products.

Because of complex environmental rules stemming from the cove’s designation as a state-protected “Area of Special Biological Significance.” Officials say it could take two years to get various state agencies to OK cleaning procedures.

To meet every increasing school fees, 16% of British students consider sex work.

The worst of all, Death panels for babies,  consigning them to death by dehydration in Britain.

One doctor has admitted starving and dehydrating ten babies to death in the neonatal unit of one hospital alone.
Writing in a leading medical journal, the physician revealed the process can take an average of ten days during which a  baby becomes ‘smaller and shrunken’……

I know, as they cannot, the unique horror of witnessing a child become smaller and shrunken, as the only route out of a life that has become excruciating to the patient or to the parents who love their baby. …It is draining to be the most responsible physician. Everyone is looking to me to preside over and support this process.

I am honest with the nurse when I say it is getting more and more difficult to make my legs walk me on to this unit as the days elapse, that examining the baby is an indescribable mixture of compassion, revulsion, and pain.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:08 PM | Permalink

What older people know about life that we don't

Karl Pillemer, professor of human development and gerontology at the Weill Cornell Medical College, author of Lessons for Living,  gathers advice about what older people know about life that the rest of us don't  in the Washington Post slideshow, 12 Ways to Live a Better Life.

2. Act as if you will need your body for 100 years.. Don't worry about dying. Worry about chronic disease. . . . The smokers, overeaters and coach potatoes among us are too focused on the comforting thought that the worst that can happen is dropping dead one day . . . You need to change your lifestyle early in life, not to live longer, but to live better in your 70s, 80s and beyond. Matt McClain / For The Washington Post

4. Be able to look everyone in the eye. To avoid later-life remorse, one word was repeated again and again: "Honesty.'' . . . With a consistency that surprised me, they advise us unconditionally to be honest, to have integrity, to be someone others can trust. . . . If not, we will regret it.

7. Send flowers to the living.. Hal Phipps, 81, was married for 55 years until his wife's death. "I regret that I didn't tell her how much I loved her as much as I should have. And I didn't really realize that until I lost her.'' Who knows why it is so hard, even in the closest relationships, to say what needs to be said until it is too late.

12. Don't waste time worrying about growing old.  Many experts described later life as embodying a serenity, a "lightness of being,'' a sense of calm and easiness in daily life that was both unexpected and somewhat difficult to describe. . . . They acknowledge that growing old is uncharted territory. . . but many experts described it with a sense of exploring a new land.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:07 PM | Permalink