March 29, 2013

Good Friday and the Sacrifice of the Lamb

 Zubaran's-Paschal Lamb

The Suffering Lamb of God

“That’s what happens to Passover lambs. They don’t make it out alive.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:33 AM | Permalink

March 28, 2013

Astonishing medical breakthroughs, cool and uncool

One drug to rule them all: Researchers find treatment that kills every kind of cancer tumor

Researchers might have found the Holy Grail in the war against cancer, a miracle drug that has killed every kind of cancer tumor it has come in contact with.

The drug works by blocking a protein called CD47 that is essentially a "do not eat" signal to the body's immune system, according to Science Magazine.

This protein is produced in healthy blood cells but researchers at Stanford University found that cancer cells produced an inordinate amount of the protein thus tricking the immune system into not destroying the harmful cells.

With this observation in mind, the researchers built an antibody that blocked cancer's CD47 so that the body's immune system attacked the dangerous cells.

So far, researchers have used the antibody in mice with human breast, ovary, colon, bladder, brain, liver and prostate tumors transplanted into them. In each of the cases the antibody forced the mice's immune system to kill the cancer cells.

"We showed that even after the tumor has taken hold, the antibody can either cure the tumor or slow its growth and prevent metastasis," said biologist Irving Weissman of the Stanford University School of Medicine in Palo Alto, California.

Could a 'gastric bypass in a pill' spell an end to diets and be the key to tackling obesity?

Shedding the pounds without dieting, exercising or resorting to surgery sounds impossibly far-fetched.
But it could one day become a reality, thanks to probiotic tablets full of friendly bacteria – a ‘gastric bypass in a pill’.
The idea was developed from the observation that gastric bypass operations led to changes in bacteria in the gut, as well as quelling hunger and cravings for unhealthy food.

US researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard University report that it works in mice.

3 scientific breakthroughs plagued by uncoolness

  1. Bacteriophage therapy
  2. Biome reconstitution and fecal transplant
  3. Heparin for burns and wounds
Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:09 PM | Permalink

Tech roundup: intelligent goo, Google Glass, Perforene and privacy no more

The blob of virtual goo that can calculate the quickest travel routes… and could help your online deliveries arrive faster

'Intelligent' goo created by scientists at University of the West of England is placed in a petri dish with dots representing destinations and cities
The Goo clings to the dots as it shrinks - revealing shortest connecting routes.  This simple system could be used to help configure delivery routes in the future

From Earth and Sky, an amazing time-lapse video of auroras as a coronal mass ejection from the sun hits Earth's magnetic field.

Japan breaks China's stranglehold on rare metals with sea-mud bonanza

Japanese scientists have found vast reserves of rare earth metals on the Pacific seabed that can be mined cheaply, a discovery that may break the Chinese monopoly on a crucial raw material needed in hi-tech industries and advanced weapons systems.

How the Internet is Making Us Poor
by  replacing knowledge workers with software.

Sixty percent of the jobs in the US are information-processing jobs,….Economist Andrew McAfee, Brynjolfsson’s co-author, has called these displaced people “routine cognitive workers.” Technology, he says, is now smart enough to automate their often repetitive, programmatic tasks. ”We are in a desperate, serious competition with these machines,” concurs Larry Kotlikoff, a professor of economics at Boston University. “It seems like the machines are taking over all possible jobs.”
Web pioneer and venture capitalist Marc Andreessen describes this process as “software is eating the world.” As he wrote in an editorial (paywall) for the Wall Street Journal, “More and more major businesses and industries are being run on software and delivered as online services—from movies to agriculture to national defense.”

Lockheed Martin Says This Desalination Technology Is An Industry Game-Changer.  Uses graphene  (Graphene researchers won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010 for developing the wonder-material).

The film is super thin — just a single atom thick — so that the water simply "pops through the very, very small holes that we make in the graphene and leaves the salt behind," John Stetson, the chief technologist at Lockheed for this initiative .
Lockheed anticipates that their filters will be able to provide clean drinking water "at a fraction of the cost of industry-standard reverse osmosis systems," their press release says. Water-poor regions of the world will be the first to benefit.

The perforated graphene is aptly called Perforene which  has a smoky grey-color film that is translucent, even though its carbon, because it is so thin. It's also about 1,000 times stronger than steel, but still has a permeability that is about 100 times greater than the best competitive membrane out in the market, said Stetson.
The great news is that this technology is not just limited to desalination plants. It can potentially be used for pharmaceutical filtration, dialysis, and gas separation, to a name a few other uses.

Google's sinister glasses will turn the whole world into search giant's spies

But of all the promised features of these spectacular specs, it is the glasses’ ability to take pictures and shoot video footage and upload it instantly to the internet that is proving most disturbing.  Some fear candid camera snooping will become all too easy when no one realizes that the person simply looking in their direction is actually filming them.
And it gets worse.

According to Google  co-founder Sergey Brin, the company plans to have Google Glass fitted with an automatic picture-taking mode, snapping photos at pre-set intervals. This could be as often as every five seconds.  While people may rightly worry about being photographed without their knowledge or permission, such fears pale into insignificance when you consider the true extent of the insidious reach of Google Glass.

Time and again, Google has proved that it has no time for that quaint old concept called ‘privacy’.

No more passwords! Smartphones could soon be unlocked by face and fingerprint recognition

Apple is preparing to abolish passwords in favor of fingerprint recognition.  The Technology could also be used to access bank accounts and email accounts

The Internet is a surveillance state by Bruce Schneier, Special to CNN

The Internet is a surveillance state. Whether we admit it to ourselves or not, and whether we like it or not, we're being tracked all the time. Google tracks us, both on its pages and on other pages it has access to. Facebook does the same; it even tracks non-Facebook users. Apple tracks us on our iPhones and iPads. One reporter used a tool called Collusion to track who was tracking him; 105 companies tracked his Internet use during one 36-hour period.
This is ubiquitous surveillance: All of us being watched, all the time, and that data being stored forever. This is what a surveillance state looks like, and it's efficient beyond the wildest dreams of George Orwell.
And welcome to a world where all of this, and everything else that you do or is done on a computer, is saved, correlated, studied, passed around from company to company without your knowledge or consent; and where the government accesses it at will without a warrant.

Welcome to an Internet without privacy, and we've ended up here with hardly a fight.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:45 PM | Permalink

March 27, 2013

Spy Wednesday

Holy Wednesday or Spy Wednesday is the day in Holy Week when Judas Iscariot made his deal with the Sanhedrin to betray Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.

The Sanhedrin was gathered together and it decided to kill Jesus, even before Pesach if possible. In the meantime, Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper. Here he was anointed on his head by a woman with very expensive ointment of spikenard. In John's Gospel, this woman is identified as Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus. Some of the disciples, particularly Judas, were indignant about this. Judas went to the Sanhedrin and offered them his support in exchange for money. From this moment on, Judas was looking for an opportunity to betray Jesus.

 Caravaggio - Taking Of Christ - Dublin - 2
The Taking of the Christ by Caravaggio

The painting above is the "lost' Caravaggio that is the subject of Jonathan Harr's best-selling 2005 book, The Lost Painting: The Quest for a Caravaggio Masterpiece . 

It reads  more like a thriller with real characters that include a young female graduate student in art, a 91-year-old Caravaggio expert and a restorer at the National Gallery of Art who "ultimately discovers the lost masterpiece  grime-covered masterpiece in a house owned by Jesuit priests.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:41 PM | Permalink

Sex Abuse at the BBC and in Public School System

Walter Russell Mead on the Sex Abuse Scandals Rocking the BBC

A massive sex scandal has just hit the BBC with the publication of a new book accusing two former Doctor Who producers of using their power to take advantage of underage fans throughout the 1980s. ….. this story is emerging shortly after accusations that longtime BBC television host Jimmy Savile molested as many as 450 people in his lifetime, making him one of the UK’s “most prolific sex offenders,”
The more we hear about what was going on in the era of sexual liberation, the more the Catholic  scandals look like a symptom of the times rather than a special pathology of the Church. The BBC was apparently a hotbed of abuse for underage female and male fans, and revelations about abuse in schools, the Boy Scouts, Jewish organizations and other institutions in which adults regularly interact with youth keep coming to light.

It’s almost enough to make a person think that when a society casts sexual restraint and self control to the winds, the young and the weak become victims of a culture of exploitation and gratification. It’s almost enough to make someone wonder if unbridled and socially glorified libertinism rather than celibacy is the leading cause of the sexual exploitation of minors.

What if the Press Covered the Public School System in the US the Way it Covers the Catholic Church?

Sexual abuse is far more rampant in public schools than in the church, citing that The figures suggest “the physical sexual abuse of students in schools is likely more than 100 times the abuse by priests,” said Shakshaft, according to Education Week.  Read the full report issued in 2004.

teachers guilty of sexual misconduct who can not be terminated from their lucrative contracts  at a time that so many local municipalities struggle to make budgetary ends meet.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:02 PM | Permalink

March 26, 2013

Parenting roundup: Children need boredom, skim milk makes children fatter, rise in autism


BBC News - Children should be allowed to get bored, so they can develop their innate creativity. 

"Children need to have stand-and-stare time, time imagining and pursuing their own thinking processes or assimilating their experiences through play or just observing the world around them."  It is this sort of thing that stimulates the imagination, she said, while the screen "tends to short circuit that process and the development of creative capacity".

Skimmed milk 'doesn't stop toddlers getting fat': Children who drink whole milk actually gain fewer pounds

Researchers at the University of Virginia School of Medicine found two-year-olds who drank mainly low-fat and skimmed milk were 57 per cent more likely to become overweight by the age of four.  But the average weight of children drinking full-fat milk was lower over the same period.

Academics believe this is because higher fat milk makes children feel fuller for longer, and they eat less as a result.

Huge rise in number of autistic children in US schools as health officials say 1 in 50 now has disorder

A government survey of parents says one in 50 US schoolchildren has autism - far surpassing an earlier federal estimate for the disorder.
Health officials say the new number does not mean autism is occurring more often, but instead suggests doctors are diagnosing the condition more frequently - especially in children with milder problems.

For decades, autism referred to children with severe language, intellectual and social impairments and unusual, repetitious behaviors - but the definition has gradually expanded and now includes milder, related conditions.

The new estimate released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would mean at least one million children have autism.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:33 AM | Permalink

Obamacare is looking more like a train wreck in slow motion every day

Obamacare official: “Let’s just make sure it’s not a third-world experience”

With time-running out before the major provisions of President Obama’s health care law are set to be implemented, the official tasked with making sure the law’s key insurance exchanges are up and running is already lowering expectations.

ObamaCare Turns Three: 10 Disturbing Facts Americans Have Learned

The bulk of ObamaCare doesn't take effect until next year. That's when the so-called insurance exchanges are supposed to be up and running, when the mandate on individuals and businesses kicks in, and when the avalanche of regulations on the insurance industry hits.
Boost insurance costs  a 3.5% surcharge on insurance plans sold through federally run exchanges. There's also a $63 fee for every person covered by employers. And the law adds a "premium tax" that will require insurers to pay more than $100 billion over the next decade. The congressional Joint Committee on Taxation expects insurers to simply pass this tax onto individuals and small businesses, boosting premiums another 2.5%.

Push millions off employer coverageIn February, the Congressional Budget Office said that 7 million will likely lose their employer coverage thanks to ObamaCare — nearly twice its previous estimate. That number could be as high as 20 million, the CBO says.

Cause premiums to skyrocket.  Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini said ObamaCare will likely cause premiums to double for some small businesses and individuals.
And a more recent survey of insurers in five major cities by the American Action Forum found t
hey expect premiums to climb an average 169%.

Cost people their jobs. ….human resources consulting firm Adecco found that half of the small businesses it surveyed in January either plan to cut their workforce, not hire new workers, or shift to part-time or temporary help because of ObamaCare.

Tax the middle class ….  much of the $800 billion in tax hikes imposed by ObamaCare will end up hitting the middle class...

Add to the deficit. 
The Government Accountability Office reported in January that Obama-Care will likely add $6.2 trillion in red ink over 75 years…..

Cost more than promised….GAO reported in January that Obama-Care will likely add $6.2 trillion in red ink over 75 years

Be a bureaucratic nightmare. Consumers got their first glimpse of life under ObamaCare when the Health and Human Services Department released a draft insurance application form. It runs 21 pages. "Applying for benefits under President Barack Obama's health care overhaul could be as daunting as doing your taxes," the AP concluded after Exacerbate doctor shortages.

Exacerbate doctor shortages. Last summer, a study by the Association of American Medical Colleges found that the country will have 62,900 fewer doctors than its needs by 2015, thanks in large part to ObamaCare

Leave millions uninsured.  After 10 years, ObamaCare will still leave 30 million without coverage, according to the CBO. As IBD reported, that figure could be much higher if the law causes premiums to spike and encourages people to drop coverage despite the law's mandate.

Three Years of Obamacare: $31 Billion in Regulation Costs, 71.5 Million Hours in Compliance

It would take more than 35,000 full-time employees working year round to fully comply with the monstrous Red Tape Tower the law has become.


Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:02 AM | Permalink

Health Roundup: Sugary drinks, poor posture, teeth loss, instant blood-clotting gel and electronic sensors

Sugary drinks kill 180,000 people annually through diabetes, cancer and heart disease, Harvard study claims

The study links roughly 180,000 deaths annually to sugar-sweetened beverages, including soda, sports drinks and fruit drinks.
Specifically, sugary drinks are linked with 133,000 deaths from diabetes, 6,000 deaths from cancer, and 44,000 deaths from heart disease worldwide.

In the U.S. alone, the research shows that about 25,000 deaths in 2010 were linked to drinking sugar-sweetened beverages, said Gitanjali M. Singh, Ph.D., co-author of the study and a postdoctoral research fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health.  The study was presented Tuesday at a meeting of the American Heart Association.

NYU super-student invents instant blood-clotting gel

Joe Landolina, a bachelor's student of bio-molecular chemical engineering who is also studying for a masters in biomedical engineering, used his scientific savvy to recreate naturally occurring polymers in the body that clot blood on contact.

Initially intended for veterinarian practices, Mr Landolina told MailOnline that he hopes Veti-Gel will soon be used by the armed forces in the field to treat major trauma victims and stops wounds bleeding out until they can get to hospital.

Still only a junior at the Polytechnic Institute of NYU,  the brainy student developed the science in 2010 and along with fellow student Isaac Miller, formed a company around the product, then called Medi-Gel, in 2012 as a bid to enter a business competition.

Stand up straight to stay fighting fit: From raised blood pressure to a bloated stomach, the surprising effects of bad posture
Poor posture can

  • raise your blood pressure
  • lead to distressing leaks
  • make you sad and shy
  • trigger heartburn
  • asthmatics might struggle to breathe
  • trigger headaches
  • leave you bloated

Electronic Sensors Printed Directly on the Skin  New electronic tattoos could help monitor health during normal daily activities.

Teeth loss linked to heart attacks, diabetes and high cholesterol ‘because it causes inflammation in the bloodstream’

Study links gum disease with heart disease and diabetes.  Regular dental treatment can cut the risk of heart disease.

Feeling anxious or depressed 'dramatically increases' the risk of dying from a heart attack

Death rates among those with heart disease who also suffer from anxiety and depression are tripled, one study found.
A separate team showed that moderate or severe depression increased the risk of death among patients with heart failure four-fold.
Almost 1,000 patients with an average age of 62 took part in the heart disease study, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Sweet! Just in time for Easter, scientists find chocolate cuts risk of stroke

New research shows that eating just a single chocolate bar has a direct effect on the brain and may cut the risk of stroke.
Previous research has shown eating dark chocolate in moderation could be good for you. But the latest study, in the journal Neurology, shows for the first time how chocolate affects blood vessels.

Researchers at Glasgow University measured the speed of blood flowing through the biggest artery in the brain while subjects ate chocolate lying down.
They found that the chocolate had an effect on carbon dioxide levels which affected blood vessels, improved blood flow and, in turn, impacted on brain cells.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:01 AM | Permalink

We spend more on Disability Insurance than food stamps and welfare combined

An astonishing fact.  The federal government now spends more on disability than food stamps and welfare combined.

In 2009, DI began paying out more in benefits than it took in from payroll taxes. By 2016, it is set to run out of money.

Two factors are driving the program's explosive growth: first, newly liberalized eligibility standards. …heart disease was the top cause of DI awards in 1961. Today, with the new eligibility standards, back pain and mental illness top the list. As a result, the share of all adults receiving DI benefits doubled from 2.3 percent in 1989 to 4.6 percent in 2009.

The second reason for the exploding disability rolls and continued record-setting is the continued weakness of President Obama's economic recovery. It has been thoroughly established that DI applications correlate not with worker health but with worker employment prospects.

Once a worker qualifies, he or she possesses an asset producing a guaranteed income of $13,000 a year for life, plus free health care through the Medicare program. (Compare that with the average minimum-wage job, which offers only $15,000 a year without health care.) The benefits are far from extravagant, but they can offer older workers a bridge to the Social Security retirement age, and an early start on Medicare. Fewer than 1 percent of workers who go on DI ever leave the rolls. Don't blame the applicants or the beneficiaries -- they are just responding to the incentives the government creates through the DI program. The only way someone can lose DI is by working SEmD which is one reason most never try. Instead, for many who were perfectly able to work a few months ago, DI has become a voluntary life sentence to idle poverty.

Planet Money reporter Chana Joffe-Walt uncovered a “disability industrial complex” fraught with fraud that churns out 14 million checks every month to citizens the government has deemed disabled. 

Disabled workers do not get counted in the unemployment figures. If they did, the numbers would be far higher.
The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program—which covers kids and adults—has exploded.  SSI is now seven times larger than it was 30 years ago.
The report suggests that the much-touted Welfare to Work policies of the 1990s that appeared to successfully move welfare recipients off the public dole may have been a mirage. States have figured out that shifting people from welfare to disability frees up substantial funds, as states have to pay the costs of welfare, but the federal government picks up the tab for disability.

“That’s a kind of ugly secret of the American labor market,” said MIT economist David Autor.  “Part of the reason our unemployment rates have been low, until recently, is that a lot of people who would have trouble finding jobs are on a different program.”

Joffe-Walt says disability has “become a de facto welfare program for people without a lot of education or job skills.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:59 AM | Permalink

March 22, 2013

The takeover of public education by left-wing ideologues

I've posted a lot about the terrible state of education from kindegarden through college.










The consequences effect students who graduate illiterate, ignorant and ill-equipped for life yet still-satisfied -  and all of us as well.

America's Sharp Left Turn Began With Education Takeover

But how did we get to this point? There had to be more. There was.

Along with destroying the fiber of two whole generations of Americans via the dumbing-down and moral neutering, the liberal education establishment pursued a third track very consciously, one that has involved injecting their ideological propaganda into the primary and secondary schooling process.

A large fraction of U.S. citizens under the age of 50 have received a heavy dose of liberal Democrat brainwashing during their school years.  Then, of course, it gets worse in college, as students' beliefs and attitudes are coached, and shaped, by the predominantly left-wing faculty.  You can see it vividly in college classrooms in the form of false but politically correct stereotypes and bromides our students internalize.

Make a statement of truly objective fact to many college students today, such as socialism doesn't work or Soviet communism was tyranny, or even that a higher minimum wage causes unemployment, and they would regard it as crackpot right-wing lunacy.

This is a result of the long-running re-education camp known as America's public school system, augmented by the mainstream media, Hollywood, and other functionaries of liberal culture who eagerly reinforce the programmed conditioning.  Concerning those mainstream media in particular, their role in the ideological transmogrification of American society has been profound.

Here's today's example:

What kind of a college professor would require his students to "write the name of Jesus on a piece of paper, fold it up, then step on it "  in his intercultural communications class and then suspend a student for failing to do so?

Florida Atlantic University professor Deandre Poole who is vice-chairman of the Palm Beach County Democratic Party.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:39 PM | Permalink

March 21, 2013

Family Stories: the best single predictor of children’s emotional health and happiness

The Family Stories That Bind Us

Do you know where your grandparents grew up? Do you know where your mom and dad went to high school? Do you know where your parents met? Do you know an illness or something really terrible that happened in your family? Do you know the story of your birth?

Dr. Duke and Dr. Fivush asked those questions of four dozen families in the summer of 2001, and taped several of their dinner table conversations. They then compared the children’s results to a battery of psychological tests the children had taken, and reached an overwhelming conclusion. The more children knew about their family’s history, the stronger their sense of control over their lives, the higher their self-esteem and the more successfully they believed their families functioned. The “Do You Know?” scale turned out to be the best single predictor of children’s emotional health and happiness.

“We were blown away,” Dr. Duke said.

And then something unexpected happened. Two months later was Sept. 11. As citizens, Dr. Duke and Dr. Fivush were horrified like everyone else, but as psychologists, they knew they had been given a rare opportunity: though the families they studied had not been directly affected by the events, all the children had experienced the same national trauma at the same time. The researchers went back and reassessed the children.

“Once again,” Dr. Duke said, “the ones who knew more about their families proved to be more resilient, meaning they could moderate the effects of stress.”

Why does knowing where your grandmother went to school help a child overcome something as minor as a skinned knee or as major as a terrorist attack?

“The answers have to do with a child’s sense of being part of a larger family,” Dr. Duke said.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:45 AM | Permalink

This should turn out well

The Department of Homeland Security is allowing "trusted traveler" status to Saudi passengers so they can skip normal passport controls.

Only an exclusive handful of countries enjoy inclusion in the Global Entry program -- Canada, Mexico, South Korea and the Netherlands. According to the IPT, some officials are questioning why Saudi Arabia gets to reap the benefits of the program, when key U.S. allies like Germany and France are not enrolled; Israel has reached a deal with the U.S., but that partnership has not yet been implemented.
The program allows travelers who have undergone a thorough vetting process -- fingerprinting, background checks, interviews with customs agents, etc.-- to attain a low-risk status that allows them to skip the line at customs and complete their entry process at an automatic kiosk.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:37 AM | Permalink

Dan Brown, the fact-challenged author who makes millions

Dan Brown, author of The Da Vinci Code, Angels & Demons and The Lost Symbol will publish his new novel, Inferno, on May 14 and has already reached #5 on Amazon's best-seller list .  He's  sold 200 million copies of his books and the first printing of Inferno will be 4 million copies.

Doubleday is celebrating the 10th anniversary of The DaVinci Code which sold 81 million copies with a free download until March 24th of the entire book.  Dan Brown's Inferno: Everything we know so far

"If Dan Brown does for Dante what he did for Leonardo [Da Vinci], the general public will probably be delighted, while the scholarly community will probably tear out their hair," says Stephen Milner, the Serena professor of Italian at Manchester University, in an interview with The Independent. In the months after its release, The Da Vinci Code proved maddening for many religious scholars, who found it difficult to convince the novel's millions of fans that its dramatic "revelations" about Jesus Christ were truly fictional, and some fear that Brown's decision to tackle Dante's revered, Christianity-infused text could have a similar effect.


For someone who declares that his novels are based on fact, he makes an enormous number of egregious errors in fact in all three of his earlier published books.    The London Telegraph does some research and finds at least 50 factual errors in his work

Some are major, some are minor. They are divided, somewhat arbitrarily, into categories of "History", "Geography", "Science", "Symbols, Religion and Mythology", "Language" and "Miscellany".

Here are just a few:

Langdon is shown lecturing his students that the Christian tradition of communion, eating the body of their god, comes from the Aztecs. Communion has taken place since the first century; the Aztec civilisation arose during the 13th century. Europeans did not reach central America, where the Aztecs lived, until the late 15th century.

A character says Nicolaus Copernicus was murdered by the church for contradicting Biblical teaching. In fact Copernicus died of a stroke in 1543; there is no evidence of any wrongdoing.

Langdon's love interest, physicist Vittoria Vetra, says that Raphael's body "was relocated to the Pantheon in 1758", having previously been interred in Urbino. This is not true: Raphael was always buried in the Pantheon, as a notice now says by his tomb in response to the book.

According to one character, the BBC journalist Gunther Glick, "the Rhodes Scholarships were funds set up centuries ago to recruit the world's brightest young minds into the Illuminati." The Rhodes Scholarships, international scholarships to the University of Oxford, were established in 1902 after the death of Cecil Rhodes.

The Swiss Guard, traditional defenders of the Vatican, are said to be "rumored to have decapitated countless Muslims while defending the Christian crusaders in the fifteenth century" with their longswords. The Guard were founded in 1506. The seventh and final Crusade took place in 1270.

Brown claims that that Galileo was a member of the Illuminati. Galileo died in 1642: the Illuminati, a society dedicated to free thinking and the Enlightenment, were formed in Bavaria in 1776.

I'm guessing his editors at Doubleday could care less so long as he brings in so much money.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:29 AM | Permalink

Amazing discovery

Most of Earth covered with life powered on hydrogen.

Acording to some researchers the largest ecosystem on Earth was just discovered and announced last Thursday, and it’s powered by hydrogen, not photosynthesis.

The Oceanic Crust is the rocky hard part under the mud that lies under the ocean. It covers 60% of the planet and it’s 10km thick. (The oceans themselves are a paltry 4km deep on average.) We’ve known for years that the isolated hot springs in trenches held life. But who thought that all the hundreds of thousands of square kilometers of basalt rock in between had its own life cycle? Last week a group from the Center for Geomicrobiology at Aarhus University, Denmark announced that they had drilled through crust that was 2.5km underwater and 55 km away from anything that mattered. They found life in the basalt.

Life Found Deep inside Earth's Oceanic Crust  Scientific American

Microbes have been found living deep inside crust at the bottom of the sea. The crust is several kilometers thick and covers 60 percent of the planet's surface, making it the largest habitat on Earth.

For the first time, scientists have discovered microbes living deep inside Earth’s oceanic crust — the dark volcanic rock at the bottom of the sea. This crust is several kilometers thick and covers 60% of the planet’s surface, making it the largest habitat on Earth.

The microbes inside it seem to survive largely by using hydrogen, formed when water flows through the iron-rich rock, to convert carbon dioxide into organic matter. This process, known as chemosynthesis, is distinct from photosynthesis, which uses sunlight for the same purpose.

The 'Parallel universe' of life in oceanic crust could be Earth's largest ecosystem

 Parallel Universe Oceanic Crust

Persisting in microscopic cracks in the basalt rocks of Earth's oceanic crust is a complex microbial ecosystem fuelled entirely by chemical reactions with rocks and seawater, rather than sunlight or the organic byproducts of light-harvesting terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.

--The paper represents the culmination of findings that have gathered over the last two decades, starting in the 90s with the discovery of strange microscopic holes in the basalt rocks that form much of Earth's outer crust, floating above the planet's viscous upper mantle and below seafloor sediments.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:53 AM | Permalink

Facebook Identity Theft

‘If you tell me your date of birth and where you’re born on Facebook, I’m 98 per cent of the way to stealing your identity,’

Catch Me If You Can conman issues stark warning on the dangers of revealing personal information on Facebook

'World's greatest conman' Frank Abagnale says social network is rich seam for identity thieves.  He said children in particular need to be made aware of the serious risks of unwittingly revealing information online…..‘Technology breeds crime.’

‘What I did 40 years ago as a teenage boy is 4,000 times easier now,’ said Mr Abagnale, who is known as one of the most successful impostors of all time, assuming the identities of pilots, doctors, lawyers, and even a U.S. prison agent.

Is Facebook setting you up for identity theft?

"Something seemingly innocent, like posting our birthday on Facebook, can provide thieves with just enough information to access bank accounts, credit cards, sign up for credit and more."

You also give away a few more pieces of the identity puzzle by sharing whom or what you "like" or "follow."  When you like a particular store or your neighborhood bank, for instance, you are giving a potential thief one more link to steal your information.

Hackers utilize the following distribution "touch points" to deceive users: malicious links and code, spam, friend requests, private messaging, user groups, gaming forums, videos and music.

"Social networking scams are 10 times more effective in spreading malware than email" is, said George Waller, executive vice president and co-founder of StrikeForce Technologies in Edison, N.J.
Blanton, who was once a police officer, added that people have always used personal information to commit crimes.

"The Internet just makes it easier," she said.  And now social media has provided a gold mine for bad guys.

7 Ways to Avoid Identity Theft Before Facebook Gets Hacked

1. Change your name. If you tweak your name just a little, or use a nickname, life will be easier for you after the inevitable hack.
2. Stop geotagging your photos.
3. Lie about your age. While it's fun to get birthday greetings on your wall, it's a key piece of information needed to steal your identity. At least post the wrong year.
4. Don't store your credit card information on the site. Facebook has several services that require a credit card. Buyer beware.
5. Have some boundaries. When Facebook asks you where your photo was taken, keep it to yourself.
6. Less is more (peace of mind). …. Go through your timeline and remove posts that provide personally identifiable information.
7. Deactivate your account.
Bonus Pro Tip: Don't use your Facebook password anywhere else. That's making it way too easy for the bad guys.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:38 AM | Permalink

March 19, 2013

Smearing the Pope

The New York Times has run, at last count, 10 pieces in the past six days bringing up the allegations that the new Pope assisted the old Argentine junta in the “Dirty War” period. Which is quite a lot for a story based on hearsay and supposition as opposed to evidence, no?

How the New York Times Smeared Pope Francis Today  Who'd have guessed the Gray Lady would recycle attacks engineered by a left-wing wannabe dictatorship?

At Get Religion, Is CNN pushing the "Dirty War" story?

I would contrast CNN’s articles with those found in the three main Parisian dailies: Le Monde, Le Figaro, and Liberation.  The French papers all reported the accusations made by Mr. Verbitsky as well as the denials by the Vatican but framed the stories so as to give Francis the benefit of the doubt. The French papers provided the context as well as the facts allowing readers to decide whom they want to believe. CNN believes Mr. Verbitsky and wants you to also. That may be appropriate for an opinion magazine like the New Republic. But is there enough information out there from CNN to do this? I don’t think so

Behind the Campaign to Smear the Pope by  Mary Anastasia O’Grady. Argentines who want their country to be the next Venezuela see Francis as an obstacle.

One might have expected a swell of pride from Argentine officialdom when the news broke that the nation has produced a man so highly esteemed around the world. Instead the Kirchner government's pit bulls in journalism—men such as Horacio Verbitsky, a former member of the guerrilla group known as the Montoneros and now an editor at the pro-government newspaper Pagina 12—immediately began a campaign to smear the new pontiff's character and reputation at home and in the international news media.

The calumny is not new. Former members of terrorist groups like Mr. Verbitsky, and their modern-day fellow travelers in the Argentine government, have used the same tactics for years to try to destroy their enemies—anyone who doesn't endorse their brand of authoritarianism. In this case they allege that as the Jesuits' provincial superior in Argentina in the late 1970s, then-Father Bergoglio had links to the military government.

This is propaganda.
Intellectually honest observers with firsthand knowledge of Argentina under military rule (1976-1983) are telling a much different story than the one pushed by Mr. Verbitsky and his ilk. One of those observers is Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, winner of the 1980 Nobel Peace Prize. Last week he told BBC Mundo that "there were bishops that were complicit with the dictatorship, but Bergoglio, no."
Former Judge Alicia Oliveira, who was herself fired by the military government and forced into hiding to avoid arrest, told the Argentine newspaper Perfil last week that during those dark days she knew Father Bergoglio well and that "he helped many people get out of the country." In one case, she says there was a young man on the run who happened to look like the Jesuit. "He gave him his identification card and his [clergy attire] so that he could escape."

Here's another good report on Francis, the Jesuits and the Dirty War

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:44 PM | Permalink

Stress and the increased numbers dying of Alzheimer's

The  long-term effects of stress may be the biggest cause of Alzheimer's Disease.

When we are stressed, our blood pressure rises as a result of our heart beating faster, and the levels of cortisol in our blood stream also increase.

Dr Nima Kivipelto and his colleagues from the University of Kuopio in Finland found that patients with both high blood pressure and high cortisol levels were more than three times as likely to develop Alzheimer's Disease than patients without these symptoms. In patients with either high blood pressure or high cortisol levels, the risk was more than twice as likely.

Experts believe that once cortisol enters the brain it starts to kill off brain cells, leading to Alzheimer's. This suggests that stress is one of the largest causes of the condition.  In fact, cases of Alzheimer's in the United States are now starting to appear in people in their forties and fifties - much younger than the expected age group to be affected by Alzheimer's.

The New Symptom Of Alzheimer's Disease.

Too much tossing and turning could be a sign of trouble to come.
Restless nights may signal the onset of Alzheimer’s disease years before memory loss .

One in three elderly have dementia when they die

Deaths from Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia have increased 68% from 2000 to 2010, according to the report being released today by the Alzheimer's Association, an advocacy group. Meanwhile, deaths from heart disease, HIV/AIDS and stroke have declined. The numbers are taken from Medicare and Medicaid reports.
The report says dementia is the second-largest contributor to death, after heart failure. Other findings:
Payments for health care, long-term care, and hospice care are expected to increase from $203 billion to $1.2 trillion by 2050 for patients ages 65 and older.

Medicare costs for an older person with Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia are nearly three times higher than for seniors without dementia. Medicaid payments are 19 times higher.  The stress on caregivers is estimated to result in the more than $9 billion in increased health care costs.

The number of people with Alzheimer's disease is expected to rise from 5.2 million to 13.8 million by 2050, putting an increasing burden on medical costs and caregivers.

Megan McArdle  New FDA Proposal May Someday Save Your Brain  It's hard to test Alzheimers Drugs. But the FDA is going to make it a little easier.  Instead of the standard 8-10 years of testing, the FDA is

going to use performance on cognitive tests to evaluate drugs tested on early stage Alzheimer's patients, rather than "impairment of everyday function". Which is to say, you no longer have to stick a very early-stage Alzheimer's patient in a trial and wait for the years that it would ordinarily take them to develop serious impairment.  Now you can look for earlier, more subtle signs, speeding the approval process up.

This does elevate the risk that we'll end up with a few drugs of dubious efficacy, or that don't prevent the most troublesome ravages of the disease.  On the other hand, given just how awful Alzheimers is, this strikes me as the right choice.  Better to risk approving a less-effective drug than take the chance of missing one that is effective . . . and thereby losing more and more minds to the ravages of Alzheimers.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:41 PM | Permalink

Why you should worry about what happened in Cyprus

Crossing the Rubicon means to pass the point of no return.  The idiom refers to the moment when Julius Caesar and his  army crossed the river Rubicon which marked the boundary between Gaul and Italy which was controlled directly by Rome.  While Caesar had the right to command in Gaul, he had no such right in Italy.  When he crossed the Rubicon with his legions, he committed an act of insurrection and was automatically condemned to death.  Caesar himself said, "The die has been cast."  Thus began Caesar's Civil War that lasted for four years.  After defeating Pompey and his supporters. Caesar  emerged victorious and established himself as the "perpetual dictator" of Rome. 

There is about $1.8 trillion invested in various IRA, 401k and 403b retirement plans in the U.S.  And that's not counting the trillions more in investment brokerage accounts earmarked for retirement. 

Ed Driscoll sets the context. The EU Crosses the Rubicon; How Far Behind is the U.S.?

In 2008 Argentina stole the private pensions of its workers, nationalizing those funds to deal with their own debt problems.  Bolivia did the same in 2010, as did Hungary.  And Bulgaria did their own scaled-down version of confiscating people’s private pensions in 2011.  Of course, those are just no-name South American countries and backwater Eastern European countries.  That can’t happen here in America!  Why, we’re Americans!  We have rights!

Unfortunately, the Democrats took note of what Argentina did in 2008 and have since bantered around ideas of rescinding the tax benefits of those programs, even outright nationalizing them.  There was hope with the Republican backlash of 2010 that such outright theft would be made impossible, but with the 2012 election decidedly going left, socialist politicians’ chops have been re-whetted for a piece of your IRA pie.  Ultimately, however, the real risk is not so much the political desires of socialist politicians, but that the economic situation is so dire it will essentially force the decision to confiscate people’s retirement accounts.  That is the true risk of promising ourselves everything.

Paul Rahe The EU Crosses the Rubicon

This weekend, the government of Greek Cyprus -- under pressure from the European Union -- negotiated a bailout that had as one of its provisions an assessment on the capital of those with deposits in the banks on Cyprus. Those with under 100,000 Euros in their accounts are slated to receive a 6.6% haircut while those with more than 100,000 Euros in their accounts will be docked 9.9%.

Whether the government can secure the approval of the Cypriot legislature for this unprecedented move remains unclear. There is talk of lowering the tax on deposits under 100,000 Euros to 3% and of raising the tax on larger deposits to 12.5%. But while the difference no doubt matters to ordinary Cypriots, whose savings are modest, and to the Russian oligarchs who have parked huge sums in the Cypriot banks, when viewed from a larger perspective, it matters not one whit. Indeed, at this point, it does not even matter whether the Cypriot government backs off from this plan altogether.
It would be hard to imagine what one could do to turn an ongoing crisis into a total catastrophe that would be more effective than the terms imposed by the European Union on Cyprus. That such a move is in contemplation is an indication of the degree to which the authorities in Brussels and Nicosia are in the grips of desperation.

Explaining the bail-in at Zerohedge

A bail-in takes place before a bankruptcy, and involves losses being imposed on bondholders, something that has rarely taken place throughout the GFC and euro crisis. In fact taxpayers (the government) have consistently bailed-out the private sector in full. The Cypriot bank rescue is no exception, except this time there is a bail-in and ironically again not of bondholders but of the depositors first. This is a direct contravention to the usual legal claims on the capital structure.
This is an unprecedented assault on individual property rights and every individual in the developed world should take notice, and far from stabilizing the eurozone, the bail-out likely heightens contagion risk across the EU.

Why bother holding a bank account when your government can expropriate your savings? Far from containing a bank run in Cyprus it will exacerbate it, absent capital controls, and likely begin significant depositor flights across the European periphery.

These events I believe signify one of the most alarming developments in the Eurozone crisis and by dint the global economy since the financial crisis began.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:11 PM | Permalink

Why I'm never going to fly on a Boeing 787

When it comes to flying, I've just decided never to fly on a Boeing 787 and this is why.

Do not fly on a Boeing 787

This past summer, my father in law had a family reunion in Wisconsin. At the reunion was an engineer, he works at Boeing. I asked him what he did at Boeing and he was actually a Structural Manager on the Boeing 787. So I asked him straight up, what the hell happened. He said the biggest issue was the design being done partly in India, partly in Italy, japan, etc. just like it says below.

He said, many regions just did not care and just did the minimum to get paid and go home, none had a sense of pride or a sense that this was "their" design. He said that things did not come together, analysis were done wrong, mistakes were rampant, they had to redesign and redesign. It was a joke. Then they put this Frankenstein thing together and started to run structural testing. Get this, one of the tests, and this is a biggie, is to put a simple upward load on the wing. I am talking the static test, not the dynamic test. They wanted to go to 160% of maximum load but did not make it past 90% and the joint of the wing to the body fractured!!

The major structural joint, the main one fractured!!!!! I was stunned, how can they get such a basic thing like the load at this joint and the needed structure wrong? He said, you think you were stunned, you should have seen all the managers and directors and the crowd of a couple hundred people just gasp. They had to act fast to come up with a "band aid" so the dang wings did not fall off.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:12 AM | Permalink

March 18, 2013

The Greening of the Planet

The Great Green Con no. 1: The hard proof that finally shows global warming forecasts that are costing you billions were WRONG all along 

The Mail on Sunday today presents irrefutable evidence that official predictions of global climate warming have been catastrophically flawed.  The graph on this page blows apart the ‘scientific basis’ for Britain reshaping its entire economy and spending billions in taxes and subsidies in order to cut emissions of greenhouse gases


Believe it or not, the planet is getting greener, much greener, because of carbon dioxide and our reliance on fossil fuels.

You must watch the absolutely fascinating video of Matt Ridley explaining why and how .

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:59 PM | Permalink

Health Roundup: Aspirin. Irish dancing for Parkinson's, cancer scanner, honey combats MRSA

Aspirin Linked to Lower Risk of Deadly Skin Cancer

Aspirin, a drug famous for fighting pain, may also guard against melanoma -- the deadliest form of skin cancer, a new study found.
The study of nearly 60,000 post-menopausal women found those who used aspirin regularly were 21 percent less likely to be diagnosed with melanoma, while aspirin use for five years or more was tied to a 30 percent reduction in melanoma risk.
Aspirin, or acetylsalicylic acid, is an ancient painkiller dating back to 400 B.C., when people used salicin-containing willow tree bark to treat pain and inflammation. The drug also interferes with blood-clotting thromboxanes, leading some people take a daily dose to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.

The new study adds to mounting evidence that the over-the-counter staple may help prevent cancers of the colon, liver, breasts, lungs and skin. A May 2012 study found that men and women who used non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs such as aspirin were 15 percent less likely to develop the non-melanoma skin cancer squamous cell carcinoma, and 13 percent less likely to develop malignant melanoma.

Italian neurologist finds improbable cure for Parkinson's Disease in Irish dancing

Therapeutic effect of Irish set dancing for those with the brain disease discovered - VIDEO

The revolutionary new scanner that can spot cancer in SECONDS

Improved version of MRI could detect life-threatening diseases when they are at their most treatable
Uses mathematical formulas to figure out in a matter of seconds if a patient has anything to worry about
Uses unique fingerprints of each individual body tissue and disease to quickly diagnose problems

Count me very skeptical on this one.  Subjects were given descriptions of 4 imaginary people with different personalities.  Brain scan that shows researchers what you are THINKING about

Brain scans now allow researchers to know exactly what a person is imagining.
The latest breakthrough comes after scientists used brain scans to decode images directly from the brain.
Researchers have been able to put together what numbers people have seen, the memory a person is recalling, and even reconstruct videos of what a person has watched.

You won't bee-lieve it! Could manuka honey beat drug-resistant superbugs?

It is a natural medicine used for thousands of years to clean wounds and fight bacteria.
Now, however, honey could hold the key to combating the very modern threat of drug-resistant superbugs.
A study has shown that manuka honey can fight back on two fronts. Not only can it help to kill MRSA and other superbugs, it can also prevent bacteria from becoming resistant to antibiotics.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:15 PM | Permalink

When a sandwich is racist, Communism is awesome and Columbia University Democrats stifle free speech

Of all the examples given in Education Gone Berserk which could indeed drive you berserk (originally a noun for a wild Norse warrior who fought with frenzy), probably the most ridiculous is the Portland teacher who explained that  “the word sandwich is a subtle form of racism in language.” A peanut butter and jelly sandwich could be racist and socially unjust.

How about teaching students how to think logically, how to read and write well, teach them grammar, how to spell, how to do math and percentages without the help of a calculator?

What the hell are they teaching public high school students in Texas?

1. Islam is awesome and the merits of the hijab.
2. Christianity is a cult that parallels the death and resurrection in the story of Osiris, the Egyptian god of the dead.
3. Communism is awesome while never mentioning the nearly 100 million people who died in the 20th century under various self-described communist regimes around the world.
5. The Boston Tea Party was a terrorist attack

And there was the teacher who encouraged high school girls to dress up in full-length Islamic burqas and then instructed the entire class that Muslim terrorists are actually freedom fighters.

A belated link to Rod Dreher 's Illiberal Education At Columbia

Kyle Dontoh, a student at Columbia University, writes in the campus paper about a ridiculous attempt to stifle free speech in the name of protecting students from having to hear opinions they don’t like.
According to Dontoh, who supports same-sex marriage, it was a great program:

"The lectures were thoughtful and incisive—so much so that I quickly discarded my original plan of staying for a few sessions before returning to work. The speakers, to a T, were academics who based their arguments and presentations on facts and reason, not on bigotry or prejudice. Only one speaker, author Dawn Eden, made an argument based on religious grounds, and her lecture, “Everything is Tolerated and Nothing is Forgiven,” was about chastity and dealing with the excesses of permissiveness, not about the LGBT community. Only three speakers broached the issue of same-sex relationships, and only two of those three explicitly passed judgment on these relationships.

"Even then, the arguments were made on strictly rational grounds. Lynn Wardle outlined the case for traditional marriage on the notion that the family was the original, fundamental building block of society as envisioned by the Founding Fathers. Disagree as I may, this was not the rambling of a bigot. This was a reasoned, principled argument based on a fundamental respect for the LGBT community coupled with a specific interpretation of American history.

"As I listened to the issues—both agreeing and disagreeing at times—I felt a particular sense of excitement, picking up viewpoints I have seldom heard since coming to Columbia."

The reason why there were so many empty seats at the lecture, despite being 'sold-out' is that the Columbia University Democrats bought up all the tickets and thereby essentially denied students the opportunity to hear what others had to say, i.e. what conservatives had to say about the burning hot question of gay marriage.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:48 AM | Permalink

Why another Gay opposes same-sex marriage

I'm Gay and I Oppose Same-Sex Marriage

While religion and tradition have led many to their positions on same-sex marriage, it’s also possible to oppose same-sex marriage based on reason and experience.
I wholeheartedly support civil unions for gay and lesbian couples, but I am opposed to same-sex marriage. Because activists have made marriage, rather than civil unions, their goal, I am viewed by many as a self-loathing, traitorous gay. So be it. I prefer to think of myself as a reasoning, intellectually honest human being.
To be fully formed, children need to be free to generously receive from and express affection to parents of both genders. Genderless marriages deny this fullness.

There are perhaps a hundred different things, small and large, that are negotiated between parents and kids every week. Moms and dads interact differently with their children. To give kids two moms or two dads is to withhold from them someone whom they desperately need and deserve in order to be whole and happy. It is to permanently etch “deprivation” on their hearts.
Mark Regnerus, a sociologist at the University of Texas at Austin, recently said, “I think you can have social stability without many intact families, but it’s going to be really expensive and it's going to look very ‘Huxley-Brave New World-ish.’ So [the intact family is] not only the optimal scenario … but it’s the cheapest. How often in life do you get the best and the cheapest in the same package?”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:36 AM | Permalink

"Many American cities are being run more like criminal conspiracies than anything else."

Walter Russell Mead looks at the " pre-eminent civil rights problem of our day -[that] is devastating minority communities throughout the country."

An Important Day for Detroit

Disgraced ex-Mayor and shameless identity politician Kwame Kilpatrick has been convicted on twenty-four counts of extortion, racketeering, and bribery. The stunningly corrupt politician, who looted from Detroit’s poor and needy to pay for a life of luxury he never earned, is going to jail. His life is ruined, and his family has been shamed.

It’s only fitting that today, a must-read piece in the NYT (co-authored by Mary Williams Walsh, one of the country’s most careful, thoughtful reporters on state and local pension issues) details the social and fiscal nightmare Detroit’s thugocracy has bequeathed to the young and vulnerable who still inhabit the ruined city. The latest bit of misery was unearthed by a financial consultant brought in to dig through Detroit’s books. He found “an additional $7.2 billion in retiree health costs that had never been reported, or even tallied up.” Until 2008, Detroit was not required to keep track of its workers’ lifetime health care bills. Now, of course, it’s the people who are least able to pay who will bear the brunt of this.

The report follows Detroit’s descent from one of America’s greatest cities into a Third World-style wasteland of incompetence and corruption where streetlights are dark, police don’t respond to calls, and the poor are left to fend for themselves. The process of ruin took decades and is the work of more than one generation of a degenerate political class. But Kwame Kilpatrick’s story is a reminder that the hyenas are still picking at what little is left of the city’s corpse.

Detroit Dems Enrich Wall Street As City Goes Bust

Ever since the long death spiral began, Detroit has relied on periodic bond sales to keep its bills paid. The thinking was clear: borrow now, pay it back later when the city’s finances recover. Of course, Detroit’s finances never recovered, and now it’s on the hook for much of this borrowing, in addition to the fees that these banks charged.  And these are serious fees. Bloomberg reports that since 2005, Wall Street banks have charged the city a whopping $474 million. As a comparison, that’s about as much as the city’s current entire police and fire budget for this year:
As Detroit is learning now, in many cases they weren’t. And Detroit is not alone: In city after city, struggling pension funds have turned to exotic Wall Street investments claiming high returns and minimal risks. In some cases this is working out, in many more it isn’t, but either way, Wall Street is collecting its fees and leaving taxpayers and pensioners to pick up the pieces when it falls apart.
If our so-called ‘progressives’ today weren’t so intellectually decadent and, well, historically challenged, they would be leading the charge to clean up American cities. Instead they are mostly silent — and sometimes even defend the machines.
It’s a terrible shame because reformers and progressives really can fight the rot and help the poor — if they can get past their messed up ‘political correctness’ illusions long enough to recognize the basic facts of the case.
The best way to stop future tragedies like this is to enforce the law. From voting fraud to corrupt relations with contractors and financiers to fraudulent accounting on pensions, many American cities are being run more like criminal conspiracies than anything else. And the cost isn’t just the money the politicians steal, or the inflated profits that those doing business with a crooked city can earn or even the sweetheart deals with public sector unions who function as part of the machine. It is the shambolic education offered to generations of poor kids, the lack of protection for person and property, the burden of a government that is both costly and ineffective and the enterprises and jobs such a government kills or drives away: corrupt big city machines may be the most important single civil rights issue in America today.
This is the pre-eminent civil rights problem of our day and is devastating minority communities throughout the country. Our political establishment, our university faculties and fashionable intellectuals, our newspaper editorialists, our legal profession and our clergy stand essentially silent; it is the silence of shame.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:33 AM | Permalink

Four Signs Your Relationship Might Be Doomed

Melanie Pinola takes a look at the Four Signs Your Relationship Might Be Doomed

Dr. John Gottman studied couples for over thirty years and discovered the four communication qualities that could predict a couple will break up—with over 90% accuracy. Called "The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse," these predictors have also been linked to physical illness and disease.
Criticism: Not just feedback or even criticism that isn't constructive, but rather an attack on the other person's character or interests. As Gottman explains in the video above, it's an attitude one partner has in diagnosing the other person's personality defects—and even wanting to be praised for that diagnosis!

Defensiveness: Here, one person plays "the innocent victim."

Contempt: The biggest predictor of a failing relationship is contempt. One person takes on an air of superiority (thinking he/she is more intelligent, a better parent, more tidy, etc.) and looks down on and insults the other person. Gottman says this is also a predictor of infectious illnesses for the person on the receiving end. If your partner corrects your grammar while you're arguing with him/her, that's a huge red flag.

Stonewalling: The person just tunes you out and withdraws.
All couples experience conflict, but the strongest ones deal with it with more respect. If your relationship shows any of the above signs, all may not be lost, but it's a good indicator that you and your partner need to work better together to keep the relationship from falling apart.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:26 AM | Permalink

When is the best time for women to have their babies?

More and more, women are urged to have their babies in their 20s

Smart Women Have Babies in Their 20s

Grose says women in their 30s who are further along in their careers actually have less flexibility than women on the make in their 20s. The younger you are, the less responsibility at work you have, and the more flexibility. I think that's partly true -- you do have less responsibility, but you also have less clout. Sometimes it's that seniority that gives you the leverage to demand flexibility that younger people don't have. But I get the point about less responsibility.

Your body is more flexible, too. It can handle pregnancy and chasing toddlers better when you're in your 20s. And you're more of a fertile Myrtle when you're younger, so there's that.

Another advantage of having babies in your 20s is that the stupid stuff doesn't matter as much. Grose says older moms are more likely to get caught up in things like having the right books, doing the right mommy-and-me classes, being in the right school district -- everything has to be perfect. And younger moms are more accepting of imperfection. They're more capable of improvising and making do. I think she's right about that.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:24 AM | Permalink

March 16, 2013

Good news for the whole world, wonderful man and toy stories

Wonderful news for the world - Cheap, clean water may soon be available for the whole planet.

According to Reuters, defense contractor Lockheed Martin has developed a filter that will hugely reduce the amount of energy necessary to turn sea water into fresh water. The filter, which is five hundred times thinner then others currently available, lets water pass through but blocks all salt molecules. It will use almost 100 times less energy than other methods for making salt water drinkable, giving third world countries another way of expanding access to drinking water without having to create costly pumping stations.

A righteous and humble man gets recognized for his life-saving acts of kindness.  YouTube link

In 1938, Nicholas Winton helped 669 Jewish kids escape certain death from the Nazis. He never told anyone that he did this.

While on ski trip in Switzerland, Winton took a detour in Czechoslovakia to help the children of refugees. Nazi Germany had recently annexed a large part of Czechoslovakia and the news of Kristallnacht, a violent attack on Jews in Germany and Austria, had just reached Prague.

Winton set up a rescue operation for the children, filling out the required paperwork for them to be sent to homes in Sweden and Great Britain. He had to raise money to fund foster homes for all of them, and then he sent 669 children away from Czechoslovakia on trains before the Nazis closed down the borders.

Winton told no one that he did this, not even his wife. In 1988, his wife found a scrapbook full of pictures of the children and letters from parents in their attic. She arranged to have Winton's story appear in newspapers.    Many of the children Winton saved went on the BBC television program, That's Life, to meet him for the first time since the war. They refer to themselves as "Winton's children". 

Winton is now 101 years old and has received awards from Israel and the Czech Republic as well as Knighthood from the Queen of England in 1993.

Toy Stories  Fantastic Photos of Children from Around the World with Their Prized Possessions.

Italian photographer Gabriele Galimberti spent 18 months photographing children from around the world and their most prized toy possessions. His website


Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:13 PM | Permalink

Now this is an idea I like

What Congress could learn from the papal conclave

If you want a budget, lock up the Congress, take away their cellphones and Internet, don't let them go to fund raisers, and if necessary put them on bread and water until they pass a budget. It has worked for hundreds of years in the Catholic Church, it might even work in Washington.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:12 PM | Permalink

March 15, 2013

Who wants to delete the reference to the inherent right to life?

(Monday, March 11) the US and EU called for deleting a re-affirmation that every human being has the inherent right to life, liberty and security of persons.

The US and European Union’s call to remove a reference to the inherent right to life is certainly consistent with their demand for a right to abortion. Not often do they make the mistake of presenting their position so clearly.

It’s up to civilized people to oppose it.


Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:41 AM | Permalink

March 14, 2013

Habemus Papem, Franciscum

The emoticon for Habemus Papem from Vatican Communication's Twitter account

\o/ \o/ \o/ \o/ \o/ \o/

Lorenzo Albacente on What the Pope Really Is for Catholics

Before being someone with a job to do, he is the one sent to us to hear, see and touch, whose physical presence is what links us to Christ.  He is the custodian of the Incarnation.


Could anything be more counter-cultural than a media-shy Pope?  Cardinal Bergoglio once refused a Curial position, saying it would kill him

Don’t you just love it when the Holy Spirit pulls the rug from under all our feet? I have to admit that when I heard the name of the man who had been elected Pope after little more than 24 hours of conclave, I was taken aback. But then I heard the name he had chosen as Pope, and I realised all was well: Francis. One of the beauties of faith is that it gives us a language which cuts to the chase. No one who knows anything about St Francis can fail to note that the beginning of his mission was rooted in those words Christ said to him from the Cross at San Damiano: “Francis, rebuild my Church!”
He is a man for the poor, zealous for social justice in a continent where this is a crucial issue. He is a man for the weak and defenceless, defending the lives of the unborn, and the right of children to be brought up with the “human maturity that God willed them to have, with a father and a mother”. He is a man who leads by example, giving up a sumptuous palace and a chauffeur-driven car and washing the feet of Aids victims and drug addicts. He has encouraged an ecclesial movement – Communion and Liberation – which has brought countless young people back to the Church but has remained independent, a Jesuit whose life of prayer is founded on Jesuit spirituality. He comes from Latin America, but he has Italian parentage, which gives him the ability to speak directly to his brothers in Christ in his new home – having once refused a Curial position, saying that it would kill him (that is, according to the Vatican commentator, Sandro Magister).

The First Pope Named Francis by Sandro Magister

By electing as pope at the fourth scrutiny the archbishop of Buenos Aires Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the conclave has made a move as surprising as it is brilliant.

Surprising for those — almost everyone — who had not noticed, during the preceding days, the effective appearance of his name in the conversations among the cardinals. His relatively advanced age, 76 years and three months, led him to be classified more among the great electors than among the possible elect…
A name that reflects his humble life. Having become archbishop of Buenos Aires 1998, he left empty the sumptuous episcopal residence next to the cathedral. He went to live in an apartment a short distance away, together with another elderly bishop. In the evening he was the one who saw to the cooking. He rarely rode in cars, getting around by bus in the cassock of an ordinary priest.
But he is also a man who knows how to govern. With firmness and against the tide. He is a Jesuit — the first to have become pope — and during the terrible 1970′s, when the dictatorship was raging and some of his confrères were ready to embrace the rifle and apply the lessons of Marx, he energetically opposed the tendency as provincial of the Society of Jesus in Argentina.
He has always carefully kept his distance from the Roman curia. It is certain that he will want it to be lean, clean, and loyal.

From a 2002 article about Cardinal  Bergoglio by Sandro Magister

There isn´t a politician, from the right to the extreme left, who isn´t dying for the blessing of Bergoglio. Even the women of Plaza de Mayo, ultraradicals and unbridled anti-catholics, treat him with respect. He has even made inroads with one of them in private meetings. On another occasion, he visited the deathbed of an ex-bishop, Jeronimo Podestá, who had married in defiance of the Church and was dying poor and forgotten by all. From that moment, Mrs. Podestá became one of his devoted fans.

But Bergoglio has also had his difficulties with his ecclesiastical environment. He is a Jesuit of the old school, faithful to St. Ignatius. He became the provincial superior of the Society of Jesus in Argentina just when the dictatorship was in full furor and many of his confreres were tempted to take up the rifle and apply the teachings of Marx. Once removed from his position as superior, Bergoglio returned to obscurity. He came back into the public eye in 1992 when the archbishop of Buenos Aires, Antonio Quarracino, made him his auxiliary bishop.

Quiet thunder in Argentina (This profile of Cardinal Bergoglio first appeared in The Catholic Herald on October 7 2005

Bergoglio is admired as being far from the powers of this world, indifferent to his media image, preoccupied by the future of society, and a man looking always for new forms of social solidarity and justice in a country where 15 per cent are unemployed and thousands rummage through the bins at night looking for something to eat.

The media do not punish him for his silence, but speak of him with awe and respect. Many, including agnostic critics of the Church, regard him as the most credible social leader in a country in which, it ought to be said, politicians, union leaders and businessmen are regarded with considerable scepticism.

In Crisis magazine, Pope Francis knows what must be done by Scott P. Richert

Dinner with the new pope,  Cardinal Dolan gives us an  insider's look

Inside the residence, during the dinner, Dolan said the new pope showed his humorous side.

"We toasted him and when he toasted us he said: 'May God forgive you,' which brought the house down," he said.

Much funnier the way Cardinal Dolan tells the story as  you can see on this YouTube link.

 Pope On Bus

Three keys to Pope Francis - humility, reform, evangelization

Headlines from the MSM

NY Times “Argentine Pope Will Make History, but Backs Vatican Line.”
NBC News, Status quo leader: Same-sex marriage, abortion unlikely under Pope Francis
James Taranto deals with all the  Popes and Dopes so I don't have to.

Would you believe the translator the BBC chose  clearly didn't know the Lord's prayer given the mess he made in translation of both the Lord's prayer and the Hail Mary.  Listen to the link to see what an abysmal choice the BBC made to translate the new Pope's remarks.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:05 AM | Permalink

March 13, 2013

How corruption of our government happens

Saying Anything to Get More Money
SEC Charges Illinois for Misleading Pension Disclosures  Investors in municipal bonds were mislead about the underfunding of pension obligations, a fact that significantly increased their financial risk.

Ignoring Obvious Corruption because of party loyalty
The descent of the once great city of Detroit into chaos, corruption and insolvency is illuminated by the conviction yesterday of former  mayor Kwame Kilpatrick (D)  on 24 separate federal corruption charges, which could cost him up to 20 years in prison. ABC, CBS, and NBC could not be bothered to even mention the conviction of this disgraced ex-mayor of a major, blighted American city on their nightly news programs.

Making Invidious Racial Distinctions  Inspector General Report on Racialist Dysfunction inside DOJ

The 250-page report offers an inside glimpse of systemic racialist dysfunction inside one of the most powerful federal government agencies.
Though the report took almost four years to complete, it was worth the wait. Though the report commenced as an investigation into the New Black Panther dismissal, seemingly every rock the investigators turned over resulted in more creatures fleeing the sunshine. The final report captures a range of outrageous conduct, including the following examples:

Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act is a Racial Entitlement

But yesterday’s DOJ inspector general’s report makes plain: many staff inside the Justice Department define Section 5 exactly as Scalia does: as a “racial entitlement.”

In the report, Assistant Attorney General Tom Perez — a possible Obama nominee to head the Department of Labor — makes clear that he doesn’t think Section 5 should ever be used to protect a white minority in covered jurisdictions.

Perez feels it should only be used to prop up the political position of “people of color.” If the victims of discrimination happen to be white, too bad — they are not protected.

The very man responsible for this terrible state of affairs in one of our most powerful agencies is now Obama's nominee for Secretary of Labor.    Why  Thomas Perez Should be Blocked.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:15 PM | Permalink

Prepping for an Earthquake

It used to be three days but now the city of Los Angeles are advising citizens to prepare themselves for "two weeks on your own"

The Los Angeles police and fire departments were…. telling residents to be ready for “two weeks on your own.”

CBS LA reported Battalion Chief Larry Collins saying, “the message for a lot of us needs to be, ‘Be ready for anything.’”

“The message used to be 72 hours, but we’ve seen in disasters like [Hurricane] Katrina, even [Hurricane] Sandy recently, that, really, if it’s wiped out your infrastructure, and your electricity grid and your communications, it will be very likely be more than three days before you start getting food, water and other supplies coming in from outside,” Collins said according to CBS LA.
APN’s Chief Operations Officer Mike Porenta spoke with TheBlaze during National Preparedness Month last October, giving more information about how preparing for a variety of situations means more than just stockpiling food:

Porenta’s number one suggestion is to get to know your neighbors before you’re in an emergency situation. There is a benefit in banding together as a group in an emergency, but he said doing so after a disaster strikes is not the best time.
“People think about food the most, but they haven’t taken into consideration shelter … or access to water,” he said.
In a situation where “normal American life can’t continue, figure out your most essential human needs” and gather those items (or learn how to safely obtain them if you can’t gather them per se):
• Oxygen
• Water and water test kits
• Shelter
• Food

Popular Mechanics has good advice on How to Stock Your Disaster Pantry

A backup food supply that's easy to manage and won't break the bank is a cornerstone of disaster prep.

 Disaster Pantry

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:12 PM | Permalink

Will a Budget ever get Passed?

How long will it take before Congress deals with the very real problems of our mounting debt?

Debt Soared $5.5 Trillion Since Last Senate Budget

“If you want a sense of just how massive the nation’s debt problem is, consider this: The U.S. added $226 billion in new debt in just the 35 days since President Obama missed the legal deadline to submit his budget. That’s more than the government will spend this year on education, homeland security, law enforcement, housing aid, energy and the environment, combined.”  Instapundit

House GOP would cancel health care reforms, trim $5t in spending

The proposal that Ryan will release Tuesday morning would balance the budget in 10 years by reducing overall federal spending growth from 4.9 percent to 3.4 percent for a savings of $5 trillion over the next decade, Ryan told "Fox News Sunday."
Ryan's budget will include controversial changes to Medicare that he first rolled out last year, including converting the program to provide "insurance premium support" that beneficiaries can use to buy private health insurance. He also proposes gradually raising the age of eligibility from 65 to 67.

Paul Ryan in the WSJ explaining his plan, The GOP Plan to Balance the Budget by 2023

The goal can be reached, with no new taxes, while increasing spending 3.4% annually instead of the current 5%.

After 4 years without a budget, Senate Democrats release their proposed budget that includes nearly $1 trillion in new taxes and would not balance the budget

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:23 AM | Permalink

March 12, 2013

The sorry state of public education today

If you want to see just how terrible the state of our public education is just read Sarah Hoyt Malice or Incompetence?.  She tells a terribly story of how her son's school wanted to classify him as 'learning disabled" and someone who would probably never learn to read or write and threatened to take away her parental rights if she didn't do what was best for him.    She and her husband had her very smart son independently tested, brought the results to the teacher and school psychologist who reacted as if she had betrayed them by going behind their backs.  Her son is now in 'gifted' classes which is a lucky thing because the Title One classes the school  had wanted to put her son in are a disaster.

Recently I came across a news article estimating that 80% of NYC graduates cannot read and write and are functionally illiterate.  I’d bet those numbers are not far off across the country, and it wasn’t a surprise.  …

Five years ago, those numbers would have shocked me.  Then my blog got invaded by “children” in the eleventh grade of a gifted and internationally respected program in the high school my son was attending.  They seemed to have erratic spelling, the vaguest of acquaintances with grammatical rules and a thorough lack of ability to think.  (If you tried to challenge their assumptions or what amounted to received dogma, they reverted to profanity, in the hopes that it would make you pass out or go away and stop saying things that made them uncomfortable.)  It was clear their reading comprehension was iffy and their writing ability shaky.  (And the scary part is half of them were accepted into Ivy League schools a year later, which put paid to any idea I had this was a meritocracy.)
Title One is – afaik – a Colorado program for children with learning disabilities.  To my knowledge, neither of the kids had been in it.  However, as I’ve learned over the years, my knowledge is often far from complete, and what happens OFFICIALLY is also not what happens in truth.  (For instance, if I’d known both the kids were sent to the school psychologist once a week through elementary, to fish for stuff that might be considered “abuse” – probably because Dan and I were troublesome – they would have been out of there so fast that the school’s head would spin.  Unfortunately both kids assumed this was “normal” and didn’t tell me till high school.  On paper, it never happened.)
I’m surprised the literacy rate is 20%  I’m surprised it’s not 5%, and I wonder how many of those kids read well enough to read for pleasure.

Now, I realize that an illiterate peasantry is needed for a proper neo-feudal regime, but I wonder how many of these people are actually malicious, and how many are just full of their own self-importance and convinced that they are doing what is best for these children?
But whether it’s from malice or misguided credentialism and do-goodism, what I can tell you is that our system of education is accomplishing the “miracle” of turning out a population MORE illiterate than the poor never-taught people in Tudor England.

SCOTUS to Texas: ‘Children Are Not Mere Creatures of The State’

Of all states, it would seem that Texas would be the last to need reminding of the Supreme Court’s admonition in Pierce v. Society of Sisters that “children are not mere creatures of the state.” The Lone Star State was one of the few that did not sign on to the Obama-fostered Common Core program, foregoing the dangled federal funds. Yet Texas wound up with a program eerily similar to the centrally planned Common Core standardization system, and one even less transparent.

As with other scandals, it is was as much the cover-up as it was the Texas curriculum management system’s — CSCOPE’s — violation of public trust that caused the uproar. Not only have nearly 80% of Texas schools organized their lesson planning under one “collaborative,” but the CSCOPE curriculum software contract — the “I agree” button — convinced a number of teachers of criminal penalties if they shared lesson content with parents or school board members.

Recent examples come from the bizarre Texas education headlines that detail the photo and story of 9th grade girls donning burqas, Boston Tea Party protestors called terrorists, students asked to design a socialist flag, and a lawsuit filed last month over forced pledge of allegiance to the Mexican flag. It is the burqa flap and the ensuing saga that best illustrate why parents and the state school board have demanded oversight.

No wonder, putting a child in most public schools as they exist today is a form of child abuse.  Whenever parents have a choice to do something else, they choose it.

Walter Russell Mead, Charter Schools Surging in Big Blue Mass

America’s most successful anti-blue idea is thriving in a deep blue state: Democratic lawmakers in Massachusetts want to lift caps on charter schools and charter-school funding in 29 low-performing school districts
There are now 31,000 Massachusetts students enrolled in charter schools, and another 45,000 applicants remain on waiting lists. Fifty-nine percent of Massachusetts charter schools achieved the state’s highest ranking in academic achievement and graduation rates, compared with just 31 percent of non-charter schools. The fact that Democratic lawmakers are getting behind charters likely means that low-income parents in Massachusetts like what they see and are demanding more.

The biggest impediment?  Teachers unions.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:15 PM | Permalink

Health roundup: Superbugs, sleep and Alzheimers, slipped discs, bursts of exercise, boomers aging poorly

'Superbugs' aren't as much of a threat as terrorism: they're hundreds of times more dangerous than that

This week it's Prof Dame Sally Davies, the Chief Medical Officer, who has very sensibly pointed out that resistance to antibiotics is a "ticking time bomb": unnecessary use of antibiotics, and the failure of drug companies to come up with new ones, could lead to a situation in which all the boring little infections that we thought we'd beaten suddenly become dangerous again. “If we don’t act now, any one of us could go into hospital in 20 years for minor surgery and die because of an ordinary infection that can’t be treated by antibiotics," she says, entirely accurately. It's the reason you really don't want a creationist GP.

But it's the comparison with terrorism that I find interesting. The World Health Organization estimates that multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) causes about 150,000 deaths worldwide; the Office for National Statistics blames methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) for 1,652 deaths in 2006 in Britain alone, almost all of them in hospitals. By comparison, in the worst ever year for terrorist deaths – 2001, obviously – there were 3,547 deaths worldwide, according to the Patterns of Global Terrorism report.

Sleep problems can be an earlier indicator of the disease than memory loss

Researchers say effect can go both ways: Alzheimer's plaques in the brain disrupt sleep, and a lack of sleep promotes Alzheimer's plaques. Those with early signs of the disease got less sleep, but napped more often

Slipped disc? The jab even surgeons say is better than an operation  a simple steroid jab.

There is good evidence that steroid injections can be effective in sparing patients surgery, according to a review of studies published in 2009.  In around 80 per cent of cases, a steroid injection can end the pain — and the remaining 20 per cent can still be offered surgery.

‘I find many disc herniations lasting over six weeks can be simply treated using spinal injection,’ says Mr Ishaque.

Short-bursts of exercise boost your self-control and could be used as treatment for ADHD and autism

Scientists found that concentrated bouts of activity improved self-control in children, teenagers and adults aged up to 35 years old.
This may be because working out increases blood and oxygen flow to the pre-frontal cortex of the brain. This area is responsible for 'executive' functions and is particularly important for children and teens as it plays a vital role in concentration and learning.
Exercise could therefore provide a useful treatment for conditions involving impaired higher brain functions, such as autism and ADHD (attention hyperactivity deficit disorder).

Boomers are aging poorly

"Only 13 percent of people said they were in excellent health compared with 33 percent a generation ago, and twice as many said they were in poor health," King says. "And that's by their own admission."

King says the reasons are pretty clear: big increases in obesity and big decreases in exercise.

"About half of people 20 years ago said they exercised regularly, which meant three times a week, and that rate now is only about 18 percent," he says. "That's an astonishing change in just one generation."
Despite all this, baby boomers are living longer than their parents. But along the way, they're having a lot more knee operations and taking a lot more pills for blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes.

New Book Shows Adult Stem Cells as Medical ‘Paradigm Shift’

Its co-author says the success of adult stem cells has been so great that there is no reason to continue embryonic stem-cell research.

The Healing Cell is the fruit of collaboration between the Stem for Life Foundation and the Pontifical Council for Culture. In November 2011, the two organizations held a conference at the Vatican promoting adult stem-cell research.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:29 AM | Permalink

March 11, 2013

"Merely being a human being is not enough to warrant a respect for a person’s right to life." ?

Man sues sperm bank and ex-girlfriend after she 'bluffed her way into getting two vials of his semen and used it get pregnant as punishment for dumping her'

A Louisiana man is suing his ex-girlfriend for allegedly stealing his sperm from a Texas facility and using it to get pregnant with their son without his knowledge years after the two had broken up.

According to Layne Hardin's attorney, his client's former paramour, 27-year-old Tobie Devall, of Sulphur, Louisiana, somehow 'bluffed' her way into obtaining two vials containing the 44-year-old’s sperm wrapped in a brown paper bag.

The lawsuit, which names Devall, the sperm bank and a fertility clinic in Houston, states that the woman then inseminated herself and later gave birth to a boy, who is now two years old.

Israeli sperm donor wants his stuff back

A fascinating case is unfolding in Israel pitting a anonymous sperm donor against a woman who demands his sperm.
As reported in Haaretz, Galit (not her real name), a 39-year-old single mother living in Florida, has conceived a daughter with the sperm of an Israeli donor. She purchased five more samples and stored them in a sperm bank. However, when she decided to conceive another child, she was told that the man had withdrawn his consent. After a religious conversion he felt remorseful about allowing his sperm to be used by a woman he did not know to conceive a child he did not love.

So-called 'Ethicists' in Australia Call for “After-Birth Abortions”

Giubilini and Minerva say that merely being a human being is not enough to warrant a respect for a person’s right to life.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:39 PM | Permalink

"Institutionalized Stupidity"

“You’re doomed, America,” Steyn said. “You’re done for. No society can survive this level of stupidity. The school counselor is available to meet with any students who are traumatized by hearing reports of some guy four grades below them who nibbles a Pop Tart into a gun-like shape. I’ve never subscribed to this whole greatest generation thing, you know. But you look at those guys, they weren’t much older than the kids from the school. A lot of them were like 17, 18 years old. And they’re storming out of these transport ships in the churning waters of the English Channel and the North Sea, and they’re landing on the beaches of Normandy. And their getting out of these, and they are storming up the beaches and they’re taking German gunfire and all the rest.”

Steyn went on to say that society cannot survive this sort of “institutionalized stupidity.”

“Do you think if you raised people so that you make a school counselor to available to them in cased they’ve been traumatized by someone who was nibbled a Pop Tart into the shape of a gun — do you think if they’re ever called upon to get out those ships and the storm the beaches of Normandy, do you think they’re going to be up to that? ‘Oh no look, the Germans, they’re all holding Pop Tarts! AAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!’ No society can survive this level of stupidity. These small things are not small. They tell you a lot about the institutionalized stupidity of our institutions.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:37 PM | Permalink

March 10, 2013

Nature knows best

How to green the world’s deserts and reverse climate change  - Intensive rotational grazing reverses desertification and meets human needs.

Imagine, shooting 40,000 elephants to prevent the land in Africa from going to desert because scientists thought the land couldn’t sustain them, only to find the effort was for naught and the idea as to why was totally wrong. That alone was a real eye opener.
I want every one of you, no matter what side of the climate debate you live in, to watch this and experience that light bulb moment as I did. The key here is to understand that desertification is one of the real climate changes we are witnessing as opposed to some the predicted ones we often fight over.

It is one of those seminal moments where I think a bridge has been created in the climate debate, and I hope you’ll seize the moment and embrace it. This video comes with my strongest possible recommendation, because it speaks to a real problem, with real solutions in plain language, while at the same time offering true hope.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:34 PM | Permalink

March 8, 2013

He should be doing his real job

While Major Bloomberg is at war against Big Gulps,transfats,  salt (and food donations to the homeless because the salt content can't be assessed) and too loud earbuds, he is neglecting what is most central and most important of his mayoral responsibilities.


80% of high school graduates can't read but must get remedial help and relearn reading, writing and arithmetic before they can begin classes at community college.

Emergency Response

Despite spending $2 billion to overhaul the 911 system, emergency response times have actually slowed.

As much as $100 million has been wasted by purchasing separate dispatch systems for the NYPD and FDNY when one new one would have been just fine. The separate systems were incompatible, so the city had to spend $15 million for an interface to get them to communicate with each other.

He confessed he didn't bother to read the 911 report by city-hired consultants that found New York's recently-overhauled 911 system is plagued by delays and errors.


He dismissed the idea of building surge barriers or tidal gates even as New York is the third most vulnerable state in the US. to hurricanes, behind only Miami and New Orleans.
There are no preventive measures being planned to forestall the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:09 PM | Permalink

March 6, 2013

The Scandal of the National Health Service and its CEO who runs the 5th largest organization in the world

Following up on my post, National Health Care in Britain Responsible for 40,000 Preventable Deaths, Pays 15 Million Pounds to Silence Whistleblowers, I want to point to what Richard Fernandez writes about in The Hospital of Death

The man at the center of the scandal was Sir David Nicholson, the Chief Executive of the NHS.

Nicholson is a man who never held a job in his life outside of government and activism. “Nicholson joined the NHS on graduation, and then the Communist Party of Great Britain”.  Nor was he just a casual, student Red. Nicholson, according to the Guardian, was a “tankie”, a “term referring to those members of the Communist Party of Great Britain that followed the Kremlin line, agreeing with the crushing of revolts in Hungary and later Czechoslovakia by Soviet tanks; or more broadly, those who followed a traditional pro-Soviet position.”  And rung by rung  this compassionate man climbed the ladder of the NHS until he reached its pinnacle.
One of the biggest concentrations of deaths was at an “elite” hospital, the Mid-Staffordshire hospital which triggered an investigation by the “apparently high mortality rates in patients admitted as emergencies”. Too many people were turning up dead. A study subsequently showed that up to 1,200 patients may have died due to negligence in the “elite” hospital, which has since become so notorious it may now be placed under new management.
when the report touches on what actually happened to the patients it is the stuff of war-crimes. It is not an exaggeration to say that nothing suggested by the most rabid critics of Guantanamo is half so bad. Baldly put what really happened in the hospital was that thousands of old Britons were left to starve, die of thirst, stew in their waste for extended periods,  lie neglected and unmedicated or cast out of the wards at the slightest opportunity.
For strange as it may seem, NHS head Sir David Nicholson, of whom nobody may have previously heard, ran the fifth largest organization in the world. The NHS is far bigger than the British Army, larger than the Indian Railways and the Chinese state-owned energy network. Sir David Nicholson’s fiefdom is actually exceeded only by McDonald’s, Walmart, the US Armed Forces, the Chinese Army and the Chinese railway and may have inflicted more deaths than all of these organizations combined.

It's the unaccountability of these government ministers that rankles me the most.  Nicholson will find a way to absolve himself of any responsibility much as the way no one in the U.S. government is responsible for the debacle in Benghazi.

By contrast, look at what happened when the management was turned over to a private firm. Transformed: The failing NHS trust taken over by private firm has one of the highest levels of patient satisfaction

Hinchingbrooke, a hospital in Cambridgeshire with 160,000 patients, was on the verge of going bust when it was taken over by Circle last year.
But NHS figures show it is now ranked as one of the highest for patient happiness and waiting times.

Patient satisfaction: Hinchingbrooke Hospital, the first NHS trust to be run entirely by a private firm, is ranked as one of the highest for patient happiness and waiting times
The company running the trust has slashed losses at the hospital by 60 per cent and will soon begin to pay off burgeoning debts built up over years of mismanagement. The takeover deal, which saved the hospital from closing down, is seen as a blueprint for the future of many NHS trusts.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:48 PM | Permalink

Lies, denial and ignorant incompetence about Christianity

The film The Magdalene Sisters is described by IMDb : Three young Irish women struggle to maintain their spirits while they endure dehumanizing abuse as inmates of a Magdalene Sisters Asylum.  When the film  came out in 2002, I accepted as truth what they depicted when I should have known better.

The Magdalene laundries were used as reformatories where girls were sent without due process. But they were not brutal: anti-Catholics have lied about them

The laundries were tough places, undoubtedly. But there was no sexual abuse and no physical punishment.

John Stonestreet at Breakpoint comments about on the widespread ignorance about religion on the part of the mainstream press (Crow's ear!) and has a terrific analogy to sportswriters.

As Faiola told Post readers, “He walked with a gilded cane in the shape of a cross” as people cheered “Long live the Pope!”  The “gilded cane in the shape of a cross” he’s referring to was actually a crosier, the shepherd’s staff that symbolizes a bishop’s role as the leader of his flock.

The Post isn’t alone in its apparent ignorance of this most ancient of Christian regalia. Eight years ago, the New York Times, referring to the same object, called it a “crow’s ear,” which given the anatomical improbability of the phrase, should have caught an editor’s attention.
As Terry Mattingly documents regularly over at “Get Religion,” the media doesn’t “get religion.”

And given the centrality of religion to so many people’s lives, this ignorance and tone-deafness is bizarre. Imagine a sportswriter repeatedly referring to the “last two innings of the Super Bowl.” You would rightly question his competence and go elsewhere for your sports news.

How Hollywood De-Christianized Johnny Cash

Leaving out Cash’s Christian faith from his life story is like leaving out half-naked 19-year-old girls from Hugh Hefner’s. It’s like telling the story of Jackie Robinson without ever mentioning race or segregation.

The tension between the flesh and spirit, between things of this earth and things of heaven, animated all of Cash’s music. It’s what drew audiences to him generation after generation. Sin and redemption, good and evil, selfishness and love, and the struggles of living by a standard set not by man but by God — all were driving forces in Cash’s work and life.
Cash wasn’t walking just any line. He was trying his best to walk a Christian line.
But there wasn’t a single Gospel song on the Walk the Line soundtrack. Somehow, the screenwriters left out that important dimension of his musical catalogue. And there wasn’t a single mention of the greatest love of Cash’s life: Jesus Christ. That’s a love story the screenwriters of Walk the Line just couldn’t wrap their minds around.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:33 PM | Permalink

Health Roundup: Medical tests to avoid, steak, gel manicures, predicting a baby's sex, Scooter store Medicare fraud

For the Elderly, Medical Procedures to Avoid

The Choosing Wisely campaign, an initiative by the American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation in partnership with Consumer Reports, kicked off last spring. It is an attempt to alert both doctors and patients to problematic and commonly overused medical tests, procedures and treatments.

It took an elegantly simple approach: By working through professional organizations representing medical specialties, Choosing Wisely asked doctors to identify “Five Things Physicians and Patients Should Question.”  The idea was that doctors and their patients could agree on tests and treatments that are supported by evidence, that don’t duplicate what others do, that are “truly necessary” and “free from harm” — and avoid the rest.
Both the American Geriatrics Society and the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine agreed on one major “don’t.” Topping both lists was an admonition against feeding tubes for people with advanced dementia.
You can read all the Five Things lists (more are coming later this year), and the Consumer Reports publications that do a good job of translating them, on the Choosing Wisely Web site.    There are now 90 tests in all to avoid .

How three minutes of exercise a week could change your life

But a growing number of studies — from proper scientists, not wacky weirdos — suggest that the benefits of exercise could be achieved in much less time if you go in for very short bursts of very high-intensity exercise.
How short? Well, just one minute, three times a week. Yes, you read that correctly.
Three minutes a week. Those three minutes can be split into six bursts of 30 seconds over the week, or nine bursts of 20 seconds. But they must be totally full-on.
So-called High Intensive Training (HIT) has been bubbling around for a number of years — since at least 2005, when ground-breaking researchers at McMaster University in Canada referred to it as ‘sprint interval training’.
But now, argue its proponents, it’s on the verge of becoming mainstream thinking.

Gel manicures can increase the risk of SKIN CANCER as well as wreck your nails

UV light from lamps used to set the gel manicures cause similar skin damage to sun-beds. Treatment also causes nail to thin and hides infections.

The breath test that can spot stomach cancer: Technique has 90% success rate of picking up chemical signals of disease

Involves using sensors to detect tiny chemical particles exhaled on breath which are given off by tumors and can indicate presence of cancer.
Much better test than having  a tube passed down the throat.

Child born with HIV virus is now free of infection after 'miraculous' treatment

The mother was only diagnosed as HIV positive after going into labor.  Because of the high infection risk, the baby was given an accelerated dose of medication.
She received three standard HIV drugs instead of the usual one when she was just 30-hours old. This prevented the virus from taking hold in the baby's cells
Two years after beginning treatment, tests show no virus in the child’s blood

The REAL way to predict a baby's sex.

Women carrying girls develop larger breasts during pregnancy than women carrying boys (their bust increases by 8cm on average compared with 6.3cm for women carrying boys). Male fetuses produce more testosterone and require more energy from their mother — because they will grow to be bigger — and these conditions may suppress breast growth.

After all those warnings about saturated fat being unhealthy for hearts… Stop feeling guilty! That juicy steak is good for you

emerging evidence suggests not all saturated fat should be tarred with the same brush — one type of saturated fat, known as stearic acid, may actually protect the heart against disease.  Stearic acid, which is found in beef and pork, skinless chicken, olive oil, cheese, chocolate and milk, is one of many saturated fatty acids found in food. ...
.unlike other saturated fatty acids, repeated studies have shown stearic acid has no adverse effect on blood cholesterol levels or other risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
Indeed, it appears to be beneficial — suggesting that red meat and chocolate are not the heart-health disaster zones we assume they are.

When one study published in a recent edition of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition revealed that eating lean beef on a daily basis improved cholesterol levels, it was the stearic acid in the meat that was said to be responsible for the positive changes.

A Medical Lab in Your Smartphone - A new app is "trying to democratize healthcare" -- in this case, through urinalysis.

FBI raids The Scooter Store headquarters and question executives as company is being probed for $100M Medicare fraud

More than 150 FBI agents and local cops have raided the Texas headquarters of The Scooter Store, the nation's largest supplier of mobility vehicles, after the company allegedly defrauded Medicare by $100 million.

The company is accused of harassing doctors with constant phone calls and surgery visits in order to wear them down to prescribe their vehicles to patients who do not need them.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:30 PM | Permalink

Bring back Home Economics classes and Shop classes as well

In the U. K. there's a story of a cash-strapped mom who didn't know how to cook so she pureed cheeseburgers for her baby

Experts believe this grave situation is mirrored all over Britain because a generation with little or no parenting skills is bringing up their children on a diet of fast food.
Significant numbers of youngsters also arrive at primary school not toilet trained and cannot even use a knife and fork, according the Child Poverty Commission.
Another woman who was given a carrot also admitted she had no idea what it was,

Knowing how to cook is a necessary life skill.  Otherwise, one must resort to processed foods, eating out or takeout food, all of which are contributing factors in the astonishing rise of  obesity.  I'm always surprised at the number of people who don't know how and don't care to learn. ( If you haven't been taught, pick up a beginner's cookbook, read and follow directions.)

I began thinking it's  to bring back home economics classes to junior and senior high schoolers.  What convinced me that the time has come was this article in the New York Times.  What Housework has to do with waistlines People aren't moving at home doing housework but plopping themselves down in front of one screen or another for hours at a time.  If you have a a reasonably sized house, there's no reason why you can't do you own housework  and save the money you would otherwise spend at a gym and on housecleaners.

Mothers aren't teaching their children how to do simple household tasks like laundry, deep cleaning, and ironing.  Maybe because they don't know themselves.  Home economics classes (the economics and management of home and community) would teach students how to properly run a family environment.  Classes include cooking and nutrition, cleaning, sewing as well as child development, managing money and relationships.  And why not an updated version of shop classes too to teach the basics of home repair, machine safety, design and technology as well as computer and security maintenance for every student?

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:03 PM | Permalink

March 5, 2013

Interesting Links

Over the weekend, I caught up on some interesting stories that you might find interesting.

Students prefer print to e-textbooks

What’s most revealing about this study is that, like earlier research, it suggests that students’ preference for printed textbooks is reflects the real pedagogical advantages they experience in using the format: fewer distractions, deeper engagement, better comprehension and retention, and greater flexibility to accommodating idiosyncratic study habits.

The Double Agent Who Infiltrated Al Qaeda

Even Obama knew the name of the Danish double agent who never got his due for helping lead U.S. drones to Anwar al-Awlaki. Now he's telling his own story.

More Good News About The 'Scientific Accident That May Change The World'

Ric Kamen's lab at UCLA had found a way to make a non-toxic, highly efficient energy storage medium out of pure carbon using absurdly simple technology. Today, we can report that the same team may well have found a way to make that process scale up to mass-production levels.

Looking back: the long reach of time at Neoneocon

My mother was raised by four people, two of whom had been born during the early 1850s. All four of them had held and reassured my mother when those booming noises had announced the end of the Great War in that scene that constituted her first memory. So, although my mother became a modern woman who smoked cigarettes, drove a car, went to college, and voted as soon as she turned twenty-one (in that order, I believe), two of the people closest to her in her youth remembered the Civil War vividly.
But my father’s family also had an exceptionally long reach back in time. My paternal grandfather was born around 1860 and died in the 1920s. But he was the youngest of twelve children, the eldest of whom was a sister of his born in the year 1838.

Please let that sink in for a moment: my own grandfather’s sister was born in 1838. Not only that, but she lived to be over 100 years old and dance at my parents’ wedding. She appears in photos of the occasion, a small figure wearing a black headscarf, almost impossibly old and wrinkled but smiling.

Norwegian TV show about a fireplace sparks nationwide debate after furious viewers say wood was stacked with bark facing 'the wrong way'

But in Norway, a television program on the subject of wood has become quite the burning issue, after splitting the country straight down the middle on how it should be stacked.

Nearly a million people, 20 per cent of the Norwegian population, tuned in to the program when it was aired during prime time on Friday night. But the angry responses started almost as soon as it had begun.

19 Mindblowing Historical Doppelgangers

 Paul-Revere Jack Black
 Caesar-Augustus Vladimir Putin
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:30 AM | Permalink

March 4, 2013

Friday fun a few days late

I meant to post these on Friday but I got distracted

A most ingenious advertising campaign  Click and see how you do.  I completely failed.

Colgate has created a very ingenious advertising campaign to promote their dental floss.

The Mystery of Magenta and How your Eyes Perceive Colors

Why doesn’t magenta appear in the rainbow? The answer lies not in physics but in biology.

Science presenter Steve Mould demonstrates the strange phenomenon of colour mixing, in which not everything is as it seems. The cone cells within our eyes are responsible for the colours we see, but are only sensitive to Red, Green and Blue light. So how are we able to see so many colours when we can only directly detect three and how do our brains see the colour magenta which doesn’t have a wavelength?

The Namibians who STILL dress like their colonial masters: Tribe clings to 19th century dress 'to protest against the Germans who butchered them'

-Herero-Women German-Dress
Anthropologists believe the dress of the Herero tribe is a fascinating subversion of their former rulers' fashion
It harks back to how the tribe survived effort by German colonialists to wipe them from the face of the earth

Celebrities edited into classic paintings  Take some time to look at these 80 images.  They're wonderful


Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:24 PM | Permalink

Two things I just learned about WW2

Just how many more Nazi ghettos and camps there were then we ever knew and how depraved their "care" centers were.

The Holocaust Just Got More Shocking

Thirteen years ago, researchers at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum began the grim task of documenting all the ghettos, slave labor sites, concentration camps and killing factories that the Nazis set up throughout Europe.  What they have found so far has shocked even scholars steeped in the history of the Holocaust.

The researchers have cataloged some 42,500 Nazi ghettos and camps throughout Europe, spanning German-controlled areas from France to Russia and Germany itself, during Hitler’s reign of brutality from 1933 to 1945. The figure is so staggering that even fellow Holocaust scholars had to make sure they had heard it correctly when the lead researchers previewed their findings at an academic forum in late January at the German Historical Institute in Washington.

“The numbers are so much higher than what we originally thought,” Hartmut Berghoff, director of the institute, said in an interview after learning of the new data.  “We knew before how horrible life in the camps and ghettos was,” he said, “but the numbers are unbelievable.”

The documented camps include not only “killing centers” but also thousands of forced labor camps, where prisoners manufactured war supplies; prisoner-of-war camps; sites euphemistically named “care” centers, where pregnant women were forced to have abortions or their babies were killed after birth; and brothels, where women were coerced into having sex with German military personnel.

Just how creatively inventive the English were in being deceptive.

Operation Starfish: Extraordinary story of Second World War sites designed to look like burning cities which saved 2,500 lives and diverted 730 air raids

Starfish decoy towns in Britain helped to dupe Nazi aircraft during Blitz.  They were built to lure enemy bombers away from more populated areas.

Tanks containing diesel and paraffin were placed on top of 20ft towers.  Diesel was released onto coke or coal before water was released on top which caused a virtual explosion of fire and steam, looking like a burning town.

Two other famous deceptions by the British that come to mind: Operation Mincemeat later made into a film The Man Who Never Was and  Operation Fortitude created entire fake armies to make Nazis believe that a much larger invasion force would be embarking from Kent and that the landings at Normandy were but a diversionary tactic

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:30 PM | Permalink

March 2, 2013

When Enough is Enough

In the Boston Review Before Greed  Americans Didn’t Always Yearn for Riches

Not only was great wealth an aberration in Lincoln’s time, but even the idea that the accumulation of great riches was the point of a working life seemed foreign. Whereas today the most well-off frequently argue that riches are the reward of hard work, in the Civil War era, the reward was a “competency,” what the late historian Alan Dawley described as the ability to support a family and have enough in reserve to sustain it through hard times at an accustomed level of prosperity.
The idea of having enough frequently trumped the ambition for endless accumulation.

At Mercatornet What money can’t buy

Markets are expanding into spheres of life where they do not belong and we are drifting from participation in a market economy to immersion in a market society. A market economy is a tool for organizing productive activity. But a market society is based on an ideological distortion of the law of supply and demands. He offers scores of innovative ways that investors are monetizing social life, not just material goods, in ways that seem unfair or degrading, both small and big.
And in reducing everything to cost-benefit analysis and in refusing to accept that some things have an intrinsic value, utilitarianism is one of the great enemies of a truly human society.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:29 PM | Permalink

National Health Care in Britain responsible for 40,000 preventable deaths, pays 15 million pounds to silence whistleblowers

Doctors don't trust their own hospitals.  40% of doctors would NOT recommend their own workplace to friends or family

Nearly 40 per cent of doctors would not recommend their own hospital to friends or family, startling new figures reveal.
A further one in three do not believe NHS managers act on the concerns of patients.
The Department of Health’s own survey also found that a third of NHS staff had witnessed medical blunders or near misses at least once in the last month.

In reality it is the NHS, not James Bond, who has the real government license to kill. writes Richard Fernandez

The NHS, which its creators boasted would be the ‘envy of the world’, has been found to have been responsible for up to 40,000 preventable deaths under the helm of Sir David Nicholson, a former member of the Communist Party of Britain. “He was no ordinary revolutionary. He was on the hardline, so-called ‘Tankie’ wing of the party which backed the Kremlin using military action to crush dissident uprisings” — before he acquired a taste for young wives, first class travel and honors.

The stories of the pathetic deaths of the elderly under his care — 1,200 in one hospital alone — have scandalized the British public, especially when it emerged he spent 15 million pounds in taxpayer money to gag and prosecute whistleblowers — often doctors and administrators who could not stomach his policies.

The public money spent on stopping NHS staff from speaking out is almost equivalent to the salaries of around 750 nurses.

The figures were revealed after a two year battle by Conservative MP Steve Barclay, who eventually obtained them after tabling a number of Parliamentary Questions.

The figures show a total of £14.7m of taxpayers’ money was spent on almost 600 compromise agreements, most of which included gagging clauses to silence whistleblowers.
A whole generation is finished. Like their counterparts a hundred years ago, the European young are being sent to their professional death in millions. The carnage at both ends of the age spectrum — with the old being killed off and the young’s professional lives essentially buried — is a sign that the welfare state, the future on offer to “Julia” and Sandra Fluke, is now an empty box.
The current elite has abused, as very few elites have abused in the past, the power of trust. They’ve taken legitimacy built by generations of competence and used it to paper over mediocrity and madness.  The trust they had to squander was immense; and they squandered it.

When the crash happens the disillusionment will be tremendous. It won’t be the kind of disillusion that loses elections or topples a government. It will the kind of disgust that pulls down a civilization.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:39 AM | Permalink