April 30, 2013

Learn from the experience of others. Back up what you don't want to lose

 For My Lost Laptop

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:27 PM | Permalink

"We are crazy nor alone"

That's the consolation of reading the classics writes Victor Davis Hanson

Why Read Old Books

Classics are more than books of virtues. Homer and Sophocles certainly remind us of the value of courage, without which Aristotle lectures us there can be no other great qualities. Instead, the Greeks and Romans might better remind this generation of the ironic truths, the paradoxes of human behavior and groupthink. Let me give but three examples of old and ironic wisdom.

1. The Race Goes Not to the Swift

In the tragic world, thousands of personal agendas, governed by predictable human nature, ensure that things do not always quite work the way they should. We can learn from classics that most of us are more likely to resent superiority than to reward it, to distrust talent than to develop it. With classical training, our impatient youth might at least gain some perspective that the world is one where the better man is often passed over — precisely because he is the better man

2.  Becoming Affluent and Breaking Bad.  Material progress often comes moral regress.

3. Societies of Chaos - Most classical literature, let us admit it, is anti-democratic, moralistic in a reactionary sense, and deeply pessimistic — and therefore if not a corrective, at least a balance to today’s trajectory.  Would you not wish to see in advance where zero-sum interest, $1 trillion deficits, 50 million on food stamps, $17 trillion in debt, and the quality of today’s BA degree all end up?
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The world of fourth-century Athens is one of constant squabbling over a shrinking pie: “Don’t dare raid the free theater fund to build a warship. Pay me to vote. Give me a pension for my bad leg. The rich should pay their fair share. You didn’t build that. That’s my inheritance, not yours. Exile, confiscate, even kill those who have too much power of influence.” It is not that the Athenians cannot grow their economy as in the past, but that they despise those among them who think they still can.

The message reminds us that the health of the commonwealth hinges not on material resources, but always on the status of the collective mind. Usually the man who sees this — a Socrates in 399 BC, a Demosthenes in the shadow of Philip, even a shrill Isocrates — is branded a nut, ignored, or done away with.
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Great literature and a knowledge of history serve as friends that reassure us that we are neither crazy nor alone. We can anticipate disasters rather than always having to learn through them. We expect paradoxes, given human nature, and so we do not need to weep over what happens to us, as if it is unique and unprecedented.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:48 AM | Permalink

April 27, 2013

Has Democracy Had Its Day in the U.S.?

We are not passing on what we have been given.  The boomer generation never foresaw the consequences of "Never trust anyone over 30" that we are now living.  Little by little, we have betrayed the trust of the unwritten social compact between generations.  Everything has been politicized and our popular culture has become toxic.  There's been a cultural revolution and our general response has been indifference.    It all makes me want to weep.

Bill Bennett, former Secretary of Education, reflected on American education and What Our Kids Aren't Taught in a recent speech reflected  on ….

...the failure to impart our history and culture to our kids. He noted that only 22 percent of students scored proficient on a recent NAEP test on civics, and only 18 percent scored proficient in history. There are Americans, he said, with long bloodlines in this country who are nonetheless strangers to it, because no one had taken the time or the trouble to teach them that “In the long story of inhumanity and misery that is human history, the American achievement stands high and unique, and it’s worth knowing.

Donald Kagan, the 80 year old scholar of ancient Greece, in his farewell lecture at Yale University,"uncorked a biting critique of American higher education"  'Democracy May Have Had Its Day'

Democracy, wrote Mr. Kagan in "Pericles of Athens" (1991), is "one of the rarest, most delicate and fragile flowers in the jungle of human experience." It relies on "free, autonomous and self-reliant" citizens and "extraordinary leadership" to flourish, even survive.  These kinds of citizens aren't born—they need to be educated.
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The Kagan thesis is bleak but not fatalistic. The fight to shape free citizens in schools, through the media and in the public square goes on. "There is no hope for anything if you don't have a population that buys into" a strong and free society, he says. "That can only be taught. It doesn't come in nature."

Students today are afraid to say anything that's politically incorrect.

Christina Hoff Sommers, author of “The War Against Boys,” explains how political correctness in our culture seeks to silence opposing views. Whether someone is making an argument that contradicts the prevailing doctrines of feminism, or that challenges the “victim culture” that permeates the educational system, Sommers says free speech is constantly being challenged on campus. But if students are afraid to express views that are unpopular, critical thinking is stifled and the nation suffers.

The genius of America is the rising above ethnic and religious identities with everyone sharing a national identity based on the values of individual liberty, dignity and equality as articulated in the Declaration of Independence.    Identity politics and political correctness are putting an end to that.  Higher education in America has become an " intellectual monoculture dedicated to identity politics."   

We need look no further than the report on Bowdoin to see

how progressive ideology has altered the character of American higher education. By focusing on just one college in detail, the authors capture the full context of how advocacy and ideology have significantly displaced the pursuit of truth and the cultivation of character.

The full report makes fascinating if discouraging reading.

We wouldn't have such an in-depth report if it were not for  The Golf Shot Heard Round the Academic World The tale of a teed-off philanthropist and the head of Bowdoin College, where identity politics runs wild.    Thomas Klingenstein, the teed-off philanthropist

commissioned researchers to examine Bowdoin's commitment to intellectual diversity, rigorous academics and civic identity. This week, some 18 months and hundreds of pages of documentation later, the project is complete. Its picture of Bowdoin isn't pretty.
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Funded by Mr. Klingenstein, researchers from the National Association of Scholars studied speeches by Bowdoin presidents and deans, formal statements of the college's principles, official faculty reports and notes of faculty meetings, academic course lists and syllabi, books and articles by professors, the archive of the Bowdoin Orient newspaper and more. They analyzed the school's history back to its founding in 1794, focusing on the past 45 years—during which, they argue, Bowdoin's character changed dramatically for the worse…. the report demonstrates how Bowdoin has become an intellectual monoculture dedicated above all to identity politics.
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The school's ideological pillars would likely be familiar to anyone who has paid attention to American higher education lately. There's the obsession with race, class, gender and sexuality as the essential forces of history and markers of political identity.
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The Klingenstein report nicely captures the illiberal or fallacious aspects of this campus doctrine, but the paper's true contribution is in recording some of its absurd manifestations at Bowdoin. For example, the college has "no curricular requirements that center on the American founding or the history of the nation." Even history majors aren't required to take a single course in American history. In the History Department, no course is devoted to American political, military, diplomatic or intellectual history—the only ones available are organized around some aspect of race, class, gender or sexuality.

One of the few requirements is that Bowdoin students take a yearlong freshman seminar. Some of the 37 seminars offered this year: "Affirmative Action and U.S. Society," "Fictions of Freedom," "Racism," "Queer Gardens" (which "examines the work of gay and lesbian gardeners and traces how marginal identities find expression in specific garden spaces"), "Sexual Life of Colonialism" and "Modern Western Prostitutes."

Bit-sized Bowdoin report

Bowdoin, however, is presented as the stand-in for the whole category of highly selective old-line colleges that in recent decades have abandoned rigorous education in favor of winning over students to a progressive worldview. Lots of people, of course, have described and complained about this swap. But the NAS report is something brand new. No one until now has exposed the politicization of higher education in this kind of breadth and depth — by examining how it plays out at a single college. Nor has anyone before authors Peter Wood and Michael Toscano thought to mine a college’s own archives to substantiate charges of bias. With some thoughtful help from Wood and Toscano, Bowdoin virtually indicts itself.

Subverting Bowdoin

In late 60's or early 70's a great shift took place in American higher education. The idea that the students should all receive a basic grounding in history, government, social science, arts, and languages was discarded. Bowdoin abandoned its general education requirements in 1969. A deeply subversive and frankly weird ideology has become dominant in the trendier colleges. The ideology doesn't have an accepted name because the colleges deny that they have fundamentally changed their practices and beliefs. Sometimes it is described as an obsession with race, gender, and sex. It is characterized by political correctness. Orwellian misuse of language is practiced. An example is use of the word "diversity" to characterize aggressive discrimination in favor of certain racial groups and against others. Since racial discrimination is supposedly frowned upon or is illegal, they have to pretend it is something else. Many colleges suppress freedom of speech when the speech in question violates the canons of political correctness. The president of Harvard was fired for speculating out loud that women may be worse at math than men. Some things are unmentionable in academic company. At Hampshire College the speech code prohibited "psychological intimidation and harassment of any person or pet." Many colleges have speech codes that prohibit speech that might make someone else, especially members of favored minority groups, feel bad. However Hampshire seems to have been unique in attempting to protect the psychological well being of pets.
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Rather than bread and circuses, Bowdoin keeps its students occupied with alcohol, drugs, and sex.
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History majors at Bowdoin are not required to take any course in American History. Yale professor David Gelernter in his book America-Lite: How Imperial Academia Dismantled Our Culture suggested this:

Teaching American history, aside from a few marvelously evil incidents out of context, is dangerous to a basic tenet of the cultural revolution and must accordingly be stopped.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:52 PM | Permalink

April 26, 2013

"Our Lobby Is still filled with shoes"

Boston Magazine's Heart-Shaped Shoes: The Story Behind the Beautiful Cover

 Boston Cover

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:44 PM | Permalink

April 25, 2013

Health Roundup: Drug overdoses, office kitchens, dowager's hump, depression drugs and clenching fists

The drugs that kill Americans: How half of the 80,000 overdoses a year are caused by MEDICINES

 U.S.Drug Overdoses

Balloon that could end dowager's hump pain: Thousands of women could be saved from pain by revolutionary new treatment
Procedure uses balloon-like device to create space between fractured bones and so strengthens bone and reduces curvature of spine, leaving patients pain-free.  The procedure called balloon kyphoplasty has been given the go-ahead by the NHS in the U.K.

Most office KITCHENS are dirtier than the toilets, with kettles and microwaves the germiest places
Half of kitchen surfaces are contaminated with dangerous levels of coliforms - the bacteria in feces that can cause gastrointestinal diseases.  Also contaminated 25 per cent of draining boards, 30 per cent of microwaves, 40 per cent of kettles.

In the pipeline, Drugs to Lift Depression in Hours Rather Than Weeks

The new fast-acting drugs act on the brain in an entirely different way than the current popular antidepressants. Ketamine and the new compounds from AstraZeneca and Naurex all act on the brain's N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors, which are involved in learning and memory. These receptors interact with the neurotransmitter glutamate, the levels of which seem to be out of balance in depression.  Scientists believe glutamate is a much more direct target for depression than serotonin, a neurotransmitter affected by selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) drugs like Prozac and Paxil.

Good news: Americans are breathing cleaner air .

Best tip: Clenching fists 'can improve memory'.

Clenching the right hand for 90 seconds helps in memory formation, while the same movement in the left improves memory recall, say US psychologists.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:48 AM | Permalink

Gender stereotypes confirmed

There's no fooling Mother Nature when it comes to human nature.

Men and women have distinct personalities..Men and women really do have fundamentally different characteristics, according to a study which has confirmed many longheld gender stereotypes.

A new analysis of a survey of 10,000 people found that each sex has firmly entrenched characteristics, with women showing more sensitivity, warmth and apprehension than men.

In contrast, emotional stability, dominance, rule-consciousness and vigilance are more typically male characteristics, experts said.

Previous research has claimed that that average personality differences between men and women are small.

But the new analysis published in the Public Library of Science One journal revealed that each sex shares a distinct set of characteristics, with just 18 per cent of men having a typically "female" set of traits or vice versa.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:55 AM | Permalink

April 24, 2013

"The illusion of an impossible independence"

The problem created by the welfare state is thus not best understood as a problem of dependence but as the illusion of an impossible independence—an individualism so radical it renders all human relationships, including our relationships to the weakest and most needy of those around us, into non-binding optional arrangements, ignoring the realities of human life that make it necessary to guard human beings in their most vulnerable moments through an array of unchosen—or at the very least non-optional—obligations, especially in the family. The Left’s statist radical individualism that masquerades as a kind of communitarian collectivism pretends to offer a way for people to act together, but in practice it offers an escape from all mutual dependence and from the neediness of people who are not well positioned to pretend to be utterly autonomous.

Yuval Levin in More Than Dependency

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:36 PM | Permalink

The "War on Wisdom" and why good intentions are not enough

How often have you heard the excuse, But his intentions were good? 

Dennis Prager points out that "good intentions cause much of the world's great evils."

Take communism, for example. The greatest mass-murdering ideology in history, the greatest destroyer of elementary human rights, was an ideology supported by many people who believed in moral progress and human equality. It took Stalin's peace pact with Hitler to awaken many Western leftists to how evil communism was. And still, vast numbers of Westerners went on to support Stalin, Mao, Ho, Castro, Guevara or all of them. Were all these Westerners bad people, i.e., people who reveled in the suffering of others? Of course not.

When Good People Do Bad Things

In order to do good personally and in order to support social policies that do good, what humans need even more than a good heart (as beneficial as that can be) is wisdom.

This explains why we are in the morally confused world that I and other columnists document almost every week (and daily in my other life as a radio talk show host). There has been a war on wisdom.
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Western universities have an abundance of people of intellect, people with a vast repository of knowledge and people who mean well. Yet, the Western university is a moral wasteland. Why? Because it lacks wisdom. The university relies on the good intentions of its professors, not on the accumulated wisdom of the past, for answers to society's problems. Thus, the Founding Fathers have little to teach us (they were rich, white men and often slaveholders); the Constitution is what we today say it is (which means it is anything a person with good intentions wants it to be); and the Bible is superstitious nonsense at best, pernicious nonsense at worst.

Instead of wrestling with the great ideas of those who lived before them, the university is dominated by people who are convinced that all one needs to know achieve good is to love equality and social justice, and to regard reliance on the Bible, Judeo-Christian values and the American Founders' values as an indication of moral and intellectual weakness.
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The wise -- as opposed to most of the highly educated -- know, among many other things, that when you give people something for nothing, you produce ungrateful people; that when you obscure the differences between men and women, you end up with many aimless men and angry women; that when you give children "self-esteem" without their earning it, you produce narcissists who enter adulthood incapable of handling life; that if you do not destroy evil, it will proliferate; and that if you are kind to the cruel, you will cruel to the kind.

If you really want good to prevail, the key is wisdom, not the heart.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:55 AM | Permalink

April 23, 2013

Health roundup: Beer, marijuana pills, hospital hotels, prescribing meditation and holy crap

Beer's taste triggers dopamine release in brain 

The taste of beer, without any effect from alcohol itself, can trigger dopamine release in the brain.

Just thinking about having a cold beer can sometimes have that effect on me.

Marijuana pill is MORE effective at relieving pain and less harmful than smoking the drug

American study has found that pill dronabinol blocks pain for two hours longer than smoking marijuana.  Participants reported less pleasure from pill than smoking so there is less scope for abuse, say experts.  Fundings could undermine U.S. medical marijuana market, estimated to be worth $1.3 billion

But Big Pharma will find a way to make a lot of money.

Can you CATCH depression?

Being surrounded by gloomy people can make you prone to illness.

We all know that instinctively.

Gluten-free, vegan, organic new breakfast cereal Holy Crap becomes an award-winning business success.

Given that it's much cheaper to stay in a hotel then a hospital, recuperating patients who can not go home either because they live alone or their spouse is too elderly or frail to take care of them, the NHS is looking at  hospital hotels to save the NHS money and the elderly their dignity

Mistakes diagnosing patients are the most common, costly and dangerous errors made by doctors in the U.S. and result in permanent injury or death for as many as 160,000 patients annually, a new study found.

Study Links Autism With Antidepressant Use During Pregnancy.  From a  cautiously worded study based on data collected in Sweden and an earlier, smaller study in California.

Doctor's Orders: 20 Minutes Of Meditation Twice a Day

Integrative medicine programs including meditation are increasingly showing up at hospitals and clinics across the country. Recent research has found that meditation can lower blood pressure and help patients with chronic illness cope with pain and depression. In a study published last year, meditation sharply reduced the risk of heart attack or stroke among a group of African-Americans with heart disease.
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Murali Doraiswamy, a professor of psychiatry at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C., says it isn't clearly understood how meditation works on the body. Some forms of meditation have been found to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which stimulates the body's relaxation response, improves blood supply, slows down heart rate and breathing and increases digestive activity, he said. It also slows down the release of stress hormones, such as cortisol.

Dr. Doraiswamy says he recommends meditation for people with depression, panic or anxiety disorders, ongoing stress, or for general health maintenance of brain alertness and cardiovascular health.

I bet praying for 20 minutes twice a day would have the same effect. 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:24 PM | Permalink

News is bad for you

I'm a news junkie and consumer way too much news.  After reading what Rolf Dobelli wrote in the Guardian, I am definitely going to cut way back.  When I disconnect,  I'm anxious at first not knowing what's happening.  But then, after a while, I have a fine and lovely time doing whatever for hours, even days.  And I definitely get more done.

News is bad for you – and giving up reading it will make you happier 
News is bad for your health. It leads to fear and aggression, and hinders your creativity and ability to think deeply. The solution? Stop consuming it altogether…

News is to the mind what sugar is to the body. News is easy to digest. The media feeds us small bites of trivial matter, tidbits that don't really concern our lives and don't require thinking. That's why we experience almost no saturation. Unlike reading books and long magazine articles (which require thinking), we can swallow limitless quantities of news flashes, which are bright-coloured candies for the mind. Today, we have reached the same point in relation to information that we faced 20 years ago in regard to food. We are beginning to recognise how toxic news can be.

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News is irrelevant. Out of the approximately 10,000 news stories you have read in the last 12 months, name one that – because you consumed it – allowed you to make a better decision about a serious matter affecting your life, your career or your business. The point is: the consumption of news is irrelevant to you. But people find it very difficult to recognise what's relevant. It's much easier to recognise what's new. The relevant versus the new is the fundamental battle of the current age. Media organisations want you to believe that news offers you some sort of a competitive advantage. Many fall for that. We get anxious when we're cut off from the flow of news. In reality, news consumption is a competitive disadvantage. The less news you consume, the bigger the advantage you have.
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The more "news factoids" you digest, the less of the big picture you will understand. If more information leads to higher economic success, we'd expect journalists to be at the top of the pyramid. That's not the case.

News is toxic to your body. It constantly triggers the limbic system. Panicky stories spur the release of cascades of glucocorticoid (cortisol). This deregulates your immune system and inhibits the release of growth hormones. In other words, your body finds itself in a state of chronic stress.
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News increases cognitive errors. News feeds the mother of all cognitive errors: confirmation bias. In the words of Warren Buffett: "What the human being is best at doing is interpreting all new information so that their prior conclusions remain intact."
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News inhibits thinking. Thinking requires concentration. Concentration requires uninterrupted time. News pieces are specifically engineered to interrupt you. They are like viruses that steal attention for their own purposes. News makes us shallow thinkers. But it's worse than that. News severely affects memory… Because news disrupts concentration, it weakens comprehension.
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News works like a drug. As stories develop, we want to know how they continue. With hundreds of arbitrary storylines in our heads, this craving is increasingly compelling and hard to ignore.
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Most news consumers – even if they used to be avid book readers – have lost the ability to absorb lengthy articles or books. After four, five pages they get tired, their concentration vanishes, they become restless. It's not because they got older or their schedules became more onerous. It's because the physical structure of their brains has changed.
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Information is no longer a scarce commodity. But attention is. You are not that irresponsible with your money, reputation or health. Why give away your mind?
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News makes us passive. News stories are overwhelmingly about things you cannot influence. The daily repetition of news about things we can't act upon makes us passive. It grinds us down until we adopt a worldview that is pessimistic, desensitised, sarcastic and fatalistic. The scientific term is "learned helplessness".
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News kills creativity… I don't know a single truly creative mind who is a news junkie – not a writer, not a composer, mathematician, physician, scientist, musician, designer, architect or painter. On the other hand, I know a bunch of viciously uncreative minds who consume news like drugs. If you want to come up with old solutions, read news. If you are looking for new solutions, don't.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:18 PM | Permalink

April 22, 2013

Is it as bad as all this?

Millions Of Americans Can't Handle The Stress Of Work Anymore

Think about how our culture is now structured for the average adult: STRESS, everywhere you look--commuting in horrible traffic, as you want to scream in frustration--money stress, to pay rent/house note, tuition, utilities, gas, insurances, vacations, cable bill, rising food costs, and on and on and on--stress from family problems, divorce, delinquency, drugs, crime, infidelity, keeping up with the Jones, etc.

People have too high an expectation of what they should have out of life, and get overly stressed over it all. How does all of this manifest itself? A prescription drug culture (Zoloft, Xanax, etc.) that tricks people into thinking a pill will knock back the stress, when these drugs, in my opinion, only make things worse.

I am hearing more and more that people just want to drop out from it all, as they are reaching a breaking point, and have decided less income and dependency on entitlements will reduce their stress, and is not so humiliating, so giving up working becomes more acceptable, to KEEP ONE’S SANITY.

Via Drudge, Americans "Snapping' by the Millions

Terrorism. Chaos. Fear of the future. In the age of Obama, America is undergoing a “fundamental transformation” – that much everyone knows.

But what few seem to realize about this transformation is that the sheer stress of living in today’s America is driving tens of millions to the point of illness, depression and self-destruction. Consider the following trends:

Suicide has surpassed car crashes as the leading cause of injury death for Americans. Even more disturbing, in the world’s greatest military, more U.S. soldiers died last year by suicide than in combat;

Fully one-third of the nation’s employees suffer chronic debilitating stress, and more than half of all “millennials” (18 to 33 year olds) experience a level of stress that keeps them awake at night, including large numbers diagnosed with depression or anxiety disorder.
Shocking new research from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that one in five of all high-school-aged children in the United States has been diagnosed with ADHD, and likewise a large new study of New York City residents shows, sadly, that one in five preteens – children aged six to 12 – have been medically diagnosed with either ADHD, anxiety, depression or bipolar disorder;

New research concludes that stress renders people susceptible to serious illness, and a growing number of studies now confirm that chronic stress plays a major role in the progression of cancer, the nation’s second-biggest killer. The biggest killer of all, heart disease, which causes one in four deaths in the U.S., is also known to have a huge stress component;

Incredibly, 11 percent of all Americans aged 12 and older are currently taking SSRI antidepressants – those highly controversial, mood-altering psychiatric drugs with the FDA’s “suicidality” warning label and alarming correlation with school shooters. Women are especially prone to depression, with a stunning 23 percent of all American women in their 40s and 50s – almost one in four – now taking antidepressants, according to a major study by the CDC;
Add to that the tens of millions of users of all other types of psychiatric drugs, including (just to pick one) the 6.4 million American children between 4 and 17 diagnosed with ADHD and prescribed Ritalin or similar psycho-stimulants. Throw in the 28 percent of American adults with a drinking problem, that’s more than 60 million, plus the 22 million using illegal drugs like marijuana, cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens and inhalants, and pretty soon a picture emerges of a nation of drug-takers, with hundreds of millions dependent on one toxic substance or another – legal or illegal – to “help” them deal with the stresses and problems of life.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:01 PM | Permalink

Do parents have the right to educate their own children?

Yes in the United States and it's astonishing what homeschooling families can accomplish. 

Homeschooled students in grade school and high school

In 1997, a study of 5,402 homeschool students from 1,657 families was released. It was entitled, "Strengths of Their Own: Home Schoolers Across America." The study demonstrated that homeschoolers, on the average, out-performed their counterparts in the public schools by 30 to 37 percentile points in all subjects. A significant finding when analyzing the data for 8th graders was the evidence that homeschoolers who are homeschooled two or more years score substantially higher than students who have been homeschooled one year or less.

Homeschooled students in college

A new study published in The Journal of College Admission suggests that homeschool students enjoy higher ACT scores, grade point averages and graduation rates compared with other college students.
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Homeschool students earned a higher ACT score (26.5) versus 25.0 for other incoming freshmen.
Homeschool students earned more college credits (14.7) prior to their freshmen year than other students (6.0).
Homeschooled freshmen were less likely to live on campus (72.4%) than the rest of the freshmen class (92.7%).
Homeschoolers were more likely to identify themselves as Roman Catholic (68.4%).
Homeschool freshmen earned a higher grade points average (3.37) their first semester in college compared with the other freshmen (3.08).
Homeschool students finished their freshmen year with a better GPA (3.41) than the rest of their class (3.12).
The GPA advantage was still present when homeschoolers were college seniors. Their average GPA was 3.46 versus 3.16 for other seniors.
Homeschool students graduated from college at a higher rate (66.7%) than their peers (57.5%).

Of course, the big knock on homeschool students is that they never develop social skills since their classrooms are often their kitchen tables and their mothers are often their teachers. Cogan, however, noted that another homeschool study that looked at more than 7,300 adults, who had been homeschooled, determined that the homeschool graduates were more likely to have voted and participated in community service than other adults.

So successful have homeschooled kids been, USA Today reports the demographics are changing and expanding

Secular organizations across the country report their numbers are growing. Though government records indicate religion is still the driving force in home schooling, members of these organizations say the face of home schooling is changing, not because of faith, but because of what parents see as shortcomings in public and private schools.

We're just average folks': The family sending all ten of their home-schooled children to college by the age of 12

A mother who home-schools her ten children in Montgomery, Alabama, has opened up about how six of them began their college degrees by the age of 12.

Those of the Harding siblings who have already graduated from college have gone on to become a doctor, an architect, a spacecraft designer and a master's student. Another two - 12 and 14-years-old - are still finishing up their degrees.

But despite the Hardings' incredible achievements at such young ages, their parents - Mona Lisa and Kip - insist they are a family of 'average folks' who simply find and cultivate their children's passions early on.

Her website 

In 2010, a US immigration judge granted political asylum to Uwe and Hannalore Romeike of Germany

The family sought asylum in the United States because they homeschool their children, which is almost universally illegal in their home country.  It was the first case ever to recognize homeschooling as a reason for granting asylum. In his decision, Judge Burman observed that the rights being denied the Romeikes were “basic human rights that no country has a right to violate.”

But the Obama Administration appealed the decision and argued for their deportation.  The case is now on appeal and will be heard on April 23 by a three-judge panel in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Don Vincenzo comments

Unnoticed by the mainstream media, perhaps intentionally, was the decision by the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of (In)Justice to deny an application for political asylum to a German Evangelical family on the basis of their being subject to prosecution for their religious beliefs. Even for an administration that sees Christians and its followers as potential enemies, while trumpeting its “outreach” to Muslims, the case of Uwe and Hannalore Romeike should disturb those who believe that the United States is the “last great hope for mankind.”

In 2006, the Romeike parents, both music teachers, removed their children from their local German school in southwestern Germany in large part because the schools, “taught disrespect for authority.” It was their contention that it was the duty of parents to decide what children should learn, but in so doing the Romeikes ran directly into the maw of Socialist governments, which will not allow such autonomy in education. The Romeikes were threatened with heavy fines, confiscation of their home, and, most significantly, the removal of their five children from their care and supervision. Homeschooling families in Sweden have faced similar persecution. The Romeike family fled Germany to Tennessee in 2008, and applied for political asylum in 2010. Recently, a lower court federal judge turned down their asylum petition.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:23 PM | Permalink

The genius of America threatened

In Seeing Things Clear Jay Nordlinger reviews Bruce Bawer's new book, The Victims’ Revolution: The Rise of Identity Studies and the Closing of the Liberal Mind.”

For two centuries,“America accomplished something that would have previously seemed impossible: the creation, as Schlesinger put it, ‘of a brand-new national identity by individuals who, in forsaking old loyalties and joining to make new lives, melted away ethnic differences.’”
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To point out the “miraculous nature” of the American accomplishment, says Bawer,

is not to deny, among other things, the mistreatment of Native Americans and the blight of slavery and racism. It is simply to note that, in a world where violent intergroup enmity and conflict have been the rule rather than the exception, America found a way for increasingly diverse groups of people to live together not only in peace but with a strong sense of shared identity — an identity founded not on ethnicity but on a commitment to the values of individual liberty, dignity, and equality articulated in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

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“The most disastrous by-product of the civil rights movement was multiculturalism, a philosophy that teaches, as Schlesinger put it, ‘that America is not a nation of individuals at all but a nation of groups.’

The problem, to be sure, is not simply a pathological fixation on group identity, but a preoccupation with the historical grievances of certain groups, combined with a virulent hostility to America, which is consistently cast as the prime villain in the histories of these groups and the world at large. If you or I had set out to invent an ideology capable of utterly destroying the America of the Declaration, the Constitution, and the melting pot, we could scarcely have done better.

Bawer has compassion — probably more than I can muster — for those who peddle multiculti nonsense: “I find my heart going out to them. They’ve been trained to parrot jargon, to regurgitate bullet points about Western imperialism, colonialism, and capitalism — and to think that this is what it means to be educated.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:57 AM | Permalink

Keeping track of the French Resistance

Nearly 15,000 French Mayors Will Refuse to Perform ‘Gay Marriages’

“It is foolish to think that the mobilization of the elected mayors would stop if the law is passed,” said Franck Meyer, spokesman for the association Mayors for Children. “As citizens, we elected officials will not give up,” he said in statements to the media.

Meyer, who is mayor of Sotteville-sous-le-Val in northern France, observed that some of the mayors in the group have said they “would resign if the law is adopted,” while others “have said they will refuse” to perform marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples.  On April 12, the French Senate passed the measure sponsored by President Hollande, but it has yet to go before the French National Assembly.

The Senate adopted the measure despite massive opposition from the public, including a demonstration attended by an estimated 1 million French citizens through the streets of Paris calling for the measure to be voted down.

Nathalie de Williencourt, a French lesbian and founder of one of the largest homosexual associations in France, said in January that most homosexual individuals in the country do not want “gay marriage” or the right to adopt children.

I am French, I am homosexual. The majority of homosexuals do not want either marriage or adoption, and we especially don’t want to be treated the same as heterosexuals because we are different,” she said. “We don’t want equality but we do want justice.

The French Resistance

And today, Tiberge writes:

It’s interesting how everyone feels that this time the protesters will pursue their goal until they have achieved what they want. I think it’s because for once we have a massive protest movement composed primarily of conservative people with moral and religious principles, a sense of pride in their great heritage and above all an awareness of the dangers hovering over France, not merely gay marriage, but the entire Socialist agenda. Usually the protesters in the street are the Socialists themselves demanding more gifts and creating mayhem. This time they are largely Catholics demanding justice for the primary human institution: the family. The winds have changed completely.

Galliawatch is keeping close track of the French protests.  In France Has Awakened At Last, she quotes a writer called Nemo

My word, they've gone mad! Marriage for everyone, the Cahuzac Affair, the ministers' bank accounts, family subsidies, Europe, judicial policies, crime, taxes… all fiascos, stink bombs, decisions made by people about whom one wonders if they escaped from an insane asylum….The result is that in less than a year, President Normal, through his dogmatic and imbecilic decisions, his petty plots, and his obvious lack of breadth, has led France to a clearly insurrectional state! Never, no matter how far back you go in French history, have we seen such chaos, and above all, above all, never have the French had to such a degree the feeling that the captain, with his entire crew, had abandoned ship, and that only passengers bound for perdition remained on board.
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both Left and Right surreptitiously reduced us to moral and spiritual bankruptcy by systematically destroying, in the name of a laïcité that no one understands and a "social model" that no other country wanted, the moral and national values that have fashioned the identity of France and Frenchmen for almost two thousand years

French gay marriage opponents stage last-ditch protest in Paris before vote

 French Protest April 21 2013
Thousands of gay marriage opponents waving pink and blue flags marched through Paris on Sunday in a last-ditch protest before a law allowing same-sex union and adoption is passed on Tuesday.

Chanting “We don’t want your law, Hollande!”, some 50,000 protesters massed behind a banner reading: “All born of a Mum and a Dad” and said it was undemocratic to bring about such a fundamental social change without holding a referendum.

Tim Stanley at the London Telegraph writes  French police assault a priest protesting gay marriage.  This debate is bigger and uglier than the mainstream media admits

A video surfaced yesterday of a confrontation between police and Catholic protestors that began when the latter refused to vacate the space they were using for their demonstration. Around 4 minutes in a young man is thrown to the ground. A priest appears to come to his aid and refuses to let go of him. The cops drag the couple apart and pull the priest towards their vans. Around 4.41 you can clearly see one of the policemen kick the cleric in the head. Blink and you’ll miss it, but I’m sure he felt it all the same. Sadly, this scene has not been unique. This newspaper has reported the use of tear gas on crowds and I’ve received anecdotal reports of children maced and protesters beaten. Much of it can only be found on Catholic blogs and ultra conservative websites – but it’s there in blood red for all to see.
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Why has the French resistance to same sex marriage been bigger and smarter than its British counterpart? It might have something to do with the lingering influence of Catholicism in France or the relative rate of decay of the family structure in the UK. But I suspect it’s mostly down to the French passion for ideas. In Britain, the debate over gay marriage quickly descended into one side wheeling out anecdotes about love and companionship and the other side resorting to barely concealed bigotry. By contrast, France is seriously debating the social and legal revolution that gay marriage represents. The law will doubtless pass, but at least it has been contested with emotion and intellect.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:42 AM | Permalink

April 20, 2013

Thank God he was still a smoker

At the six 'o' clock presser of the FBI and law enforcement teams, the chief of the state police admitted “Unfortunately we don’t have a positive result at this point."

Governor Patrick Deval lifted 'stay-in-place' lockdown, saying "You can go back out as long as you are vigilant"

So Dave Hanneberry from Watertown went outside for a smoke

 Dave Henneberry

Henneberry was quietly smoking when he noticed the tarp that covered his 22-foot pleasure cruiser — a white Seahawk with blue trim and a fiberglass hull — was askew and walked over to investigate, said his stepson Robert Duffy.

“He went over and saw the tarp was dislodged and then he saw that one of the straps was hanging loose. He picked it up and saw it had been cut. He found it incredibly odd,” said Duffy.

Henneberry got a small ladder, climbed up to reach the boat deck and flipped back his tarp, said Duffy.

“He lifted it up and saw a pool of blood. And then he saw what he thought was a body,” said Duffy.

He jumped off the ladder and ran inside, dialing 911 as he went.

Within minutes, cops descended on Franklin St

 Franklinst. Watertown

 Cops Watertown-1

Then capture!

 Captured

Jubilation

 Police Jubilant

Celebration

 Celebrate Boston Capture-1

Nightmare over.  Except for the dead and maimed and their families.

 Bglobe Nightmare's End

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:56 PM | Permalink

April 17, 2013

Feminist mugged by reality

A Mother, a Feminist, Aghast
Unsubstantiated accusations against my son by a former girlfriend landed him before a nightmarish college tribunal.

I am a feminist. I have marched at the barricades, subscribed to Ms. magazine, and knocked on many a door in support of progressive candidates committed to women's rights. Until a month ago, I would have expressed unqualified support for Title IX and for the Violence Against Women Act.

But that was before my son, a senior at a small liberal-arts college in New England, was charged—by an ex-girlfriend—with alleged acts of "nonconsensual sex" that supposedly occurred during the course of their relationship a few years earlier.

What followed was a nightmare—a fall through Alice's looking-glass into a world that I could not possibly have believed existed, least of all behind the ivy-covered walls thought to protect an ostensible dedication to enlightenment and intellectual betterment.

What did she find in this world turned upside down and inside out?

Title IX, that so-called guarantor of equality between the sexes on college campuses, and as applied by a recent directive from the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights, has obliterated the presumption of innocence .
-
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These safeguards of due process have, by order of the federal government, been replaced by what is known as "a preponderance of the evidence."
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the tribunal does pretty much whatever it wants, showing scant regard for fundamental fairness, due process of law, and the well-established rules and procedures that have evolved under the Constitution for citizens' protection. Who knew that American college students are required to surrender the Bill of Rights at the campus gates?
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my son later reported, he was expressly denied his request to be represented by counsel or even to have an attorney outside the door of the room.
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The many pages of written documentation that my son had put together—which were directly on point about his relationship with his accuser during the time period of his alleged wrongful conduct—were dismissed as somehow not relevant.
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witnesses against him were not identified to him, nor was he allowed to confront or question either them or his accuser.
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I  fear that in the current climate the goal of "women's rights," with the compliance of politically motivated government policy and the tacit complicity of college administrators, runs the risk of grounding our most cherished institutions in a veritable snake pit of injustice
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:42 AM | Permalink

"A cry of defiance, and not of fear”

  Bostonheraldcov Oneboston

Herald Editorial:  Justice demands, get the bastards

But as the president said yesterday, “Boston is a tough and resilient town. So are its people. I’m supremely confident that Bostonians will pull together, take care of each other and move forward as one proud city.”

Oh, he’s so right on that score. It’s the way this city has always been — always will be — going back to that night celebrated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere.” Revere’s spreading of that alarm at what would be the birth of this nation was, he wrote, “A cry of defiance, and not of fear.”

And so it is today in Boston. We will not live in fear. We will demand that the cowardly bastards who did this be brought to justice. Nothing else will do.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:57 AM | Permalink

Covenant Eyes

For parents who want to protect their children from porn, for employers who want to keep their employees from accessing porn at work or for people struggling with porn addiction, there's new software called Covenant Eyes to provide "internet filtering and accountability".

From the website:

Our Internet Accountability software monitors how the Internet is used and sends a report to the person you select, such as a friend, parent or mentor. This online transparency helps you think twice about how you use the Web.

Our Internet Filtering software lets you set time limits and block websites based on age – customizable parental controls for each of your kids.

More than 1 in 8 web searches are for erotic content

67% of children admit to clearing their Internet history to hide their online activity

79% of accidental exposures to Internet porn among kids take place in the home

56% of divorce cases involve one party having an obsessive interest in online porn

29% of working adults accessed explicit websites on work computers.


A Covenant Against Porn by Fathers for Good

The real concerning issue isn’t addiction (even though that is distressing), but rather how use of porn over time shapes one’s beliefs and attitudes. Study after study show that use of porn, even little by little over time, leads to exaggerated perception of sexual activity in society, a diminished trust between couples, the belief that sexual promiscuity is natural, the belief that casual sex and premarital sex is preferable, a cynicism about the need for love and affection between intimate partners, a lack of attraction to one’s intimate partner, a lower satisfaction with relational sex, a loss of interest in relational sex, exhaustion of one’s sexual response system, a greater objectification of women, a greater acceptance of “rape myths,” a deeper sense of loneliness, a loss of sexual self-esteem, and a desire to see more pornography and a greater variety of niche pornography.

Covenant Eyes provides people with a vital piece of the puzzle when it comes to combating online temptation: accountability. One of the reasons why pornography can spread so easily online is because of the anonymity of the experience: no one has to know it is being viewed. Dr. Alvin Cooper says this experience of anonymity is one of the driving forces behind cyber-compulsions. Accountability is what neutralizes this.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:56 AM | Permalink

April 16, 2013

"I wish I hadn't taken the job for the money."

The Top Five Career Regrets by Daniel Gulati

I sat down with 30 professionals between the ages of 28 and 58, and asked each what they regretted most about their careers to date. The group was diverse: I spoke with a 39-year-old managing director of a large investment bank, a failing self-employed photographer, a millionaire entrepreneur, and a Fortune 500 CEO. Disappointment doesn't discriminate; no matter what industry the individual operated in, what role they had been given, or whether they were soaring successes or mired in failure, five dominant themes shone through. Importantly, the effects of bad career decisions and disconfirmed expectancies were felt equally across age groups.

Here were the group's top five career regrets:

1. I wish I hadn't taken the job for the money. ... Whoever called them golden handcuffs wasn't joking.

2. I wish I had quit earlier.

3. I wish I had the confidence to start my own business. ….. A recent study found that 70% of workers wished their current job would help them with starting a business in the future, yet only 15% said they had what it takes to actually venture out on their own. Even Fortune 500 CEOs dream of entrepreneurial freedom. Admitted one: "My biggest regret is that I'm a 'wantrepreneur.' I never got to prove myself by starting something from scratch."

4. I wish I had used my time at school more productively.

5. I wish I had acted on my career hunches.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:56 PM | Permalink

Boston Marathon Bombings, Evil Met by Goodness

It was a lovely, sunny day showing the promise of Spring.  Daffodils were coming out and the very tips of the trees had begun to green.  Yesterday promised to be special Patriots Day here in Massachusetts, every year celebrated as a state holiday, this year, the first day of April school vacation. In Lexington, the colonial and British re-enactors were out  at 5:30 am, acting out the first skirmishes of the American revolution on the Lexington Green to the excited and appreciative crowds,  the first event of the day to Lexington's 300th birthday.

The Boston Marathon is always a grand event, even for those like me who no longer go to watch the runners who come from all parts of the world to compete in this most prestigious running  event.  There are hundreds and hundreds of volunteers to make sure the event goes smoothly and thousands and thousands who gather to cheer the runners along the 26 mile course.  The runners had worked hard for months, if not years, to get themselves in shape to run the grueling race.  Friends, families and strangers come out to applaud them,  cheer them on, and offer  water to exhausted runners at Heartbreak Hill. several miles from the end.

How stunned and bewildered the runners must have been at mile 25 when a policeman told them, “Race is over, folks,” “There is no finish line.”

Those at home watching the marathon on television knew, long before most of the runners,  of the bombs.  And those at the finish line saw the terror unleashed on the streets of Boston.

Eight-year-old Martin Richard  from Dorchester, Massachusetts, was killed as he was standing at the finishing line waiting to give his father, Bill, who was competing in the Boston Marathon, a hug. His six-year-old sister, Jane, lost a leg in the blast and his mother Denise is in hospital after undergoing brain surgery, while his 12-year-old brother, Henry, escaped without injury.

 Martin Richard +Family Marathon

The horror was unimaginable.  Evil exploded in Boston with ball bearings designed to kill, maim and lacerate human bodies. 

'These runners just finished and they don’t have legs now': Witnesses recount war zone at Boston Marathon as bombs left 26th mile littered with disembodied limbs and 'shoes with flesh still in them'

Competitors and race organizers were crying as they fled the chaos. A man was pictured with his lower leg blown off, while children were seen being wheeled away in chairs with burned limbs.

Blood and broken glass was strewn across the sidewalks, while a emergency worker was seen checking the pulses of young women lying on the ground.  A trauma nurse told ABC that the race's medical tent has become a makeshift morgue and that staff are dealing with injuries including severed limbs, shrapnel wounds and children with severe burns.
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David Abel, a reporter for the Boston Globe who was standing just feet from the finish line to record runners, recounted the scene of horror he witnessed.

'I saw just a pile of bodies,' he said. 'It was the worst thing I've ever seen in my life… mangled limbs, people not breathing. Within minutes, police, medical staff, marathon staff [arrived] and were just trying to carry people off as quickly as possible.'

Brothers watching Boston Marathon each lose a leg  "Ma, I'm hurt real bad"

People understood immediately that the bombs were the acts of terrorists.  Whether the terrorists were foreign or domestic, amateur or professional, acting alone or in concert, there is no doubt the explosions were intended to kill or maim as many innocent civilians as possible. 

How incomprehensible is this evil.  How moving, inspiring and encouraging was the response of the first responders, the police and medical personnel and so so many others  who ran to help the victims.

-Fallen Runner 3 Cops
Bill Ifring, 78, from Washington state collapsed in the force of the blast, then got up and finished the race.

 2 Men Help Woman Boston Bombing

"Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping…I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers - so many caring people in this world,"  Mr. Rogers.

 Man-Comforts-Woman Boston Bombings
Man comforts injured woman at site of first explosion

 Cowboyhat-Rescuer Boston Bombings

Carlos Arredondo, the man in the cowboy hat, tried to commit suicide by setting himself on fire when he learned his Marine son was  killed in Iraq.    He was saved by the Marines who brought him the news, treated for his severe burns, and emerging from his deep grief, he became a peace activist.  He was handing out  American flags at the finish line when the bombs exploded.  After applying a tourniquet to the man's leg in the picture above, he rushed with the EMT and the woman to bring the victim to the medical tent and then into an ambulance saying, "You're going to be fine."

Confusion for marathoners leavened by kindness

As chaos unfolded at the Boston Marathon Monday, bewildered runners were redirected without explanation. It was the beginning of an hours-long odyssey for the competitors, many of whom were without their cellphones, or money, or anything but thin singlets and shorts. Dazed out-of-towners struggled to find designated gathering spots or their hotels, asking passersby for directions or a call on a cellphone. Many were unable to retrieve their belongings. Most of all, they were cold and exhausted.

Yet many were met with kindness from locals; offered blankets and jackets, cash and food, and a free place to sleep. “People in this city have been unbelievable,” said Glenn Sheehan, 50, a runner born in Wakefield and now lives in South Carolina. “ ‘Let me give you food, let me give you water’ — it’s been like that all afternoon.”
A Google Docs form was quickly set up to allow Boston residents to open their homes to marathon runners from outside the area who had no place to stay in the aftermath of the tragedy.

'Anyone wanting to get out of the back bay come over plenty of tables and calm here and don't worry you don't have to buy a thing,' tweeted a local restaurant called El Pelon Taqueria. 'open wifi, place to charge cell, or just don't want to be alone, food and drinks,- pay only if you can #bostonhelp.'

Pictures of heroism and humanity flooded Twitter, from police officers carrying injured young children to the residents who left their warm homes to greet runners stranded by the emergency and offer them comfort.

When so many have been so senselessly killed or maimed, it's all to easy to succumb to fear and despair.  Yet, even as I look at these terrible pictures,  I find myself encouraged by the goodness of so many people.  I always knew Bostonians
were tough, smart and resilient.  Yesterday, I realized how kind and good they are when evil strikes.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:17 PM | Permalink

April 15, 2013

Seals, an environmental success story

 Seals Capecod

Nearly 15,000 seals fill Cape Cod's beaches as the sea mammal's population explodes

Though once rarely seen at Cape Cod, their population has been booming due to the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972.

Fishermen are not happy.

'It's like having 15,000 unregulated fishermen, do-what-you-want fishermen out there,' Chatham fisherman John Our, who worked as a commercial fisherman for 32 years, told the Cape Cod Times in 2012.
'This summer, they have been very aggressive,' he said. 'They can eat up 3,000 pound of skates overnight.'
They also easily destroyed expensive fishing equipment and nets.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:56 AM | Permalink

April 13, 2013

Ennobling the art of practice

The surprising secrets of great master coaches in Great Teaching and Great Learning

Daniel Coyle, author of The Talent Code, is known for propagating the thesis that the brain substance myelin -- rather than genes or an undefinable innate talent -- is responsible for exceptional human performance. He believes that myelin production -- and consequent excellence, be it in music, sport, writing, or indeed any human endeavor -- can be stimulated by the application of three elements: what he calls "deep practice" (extreme repetition), "ignition" (passionate desire), and "master coaching."

But how to recognize a master coach?
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  1. Master teachers love detail. They worship precision. They relish the small, careful, everyday move.
  2. They devise spectacularly repetitive exercises to help develop that detail — and make those exercises seem not just worthwhile, but magical. As Denk writes, “Imagine that you are scrubbing the grout in your bathroom and are told that  removing every last particle of mildew will somehow enable you to deliver the Gettysburg Address.”
  3. They spend 90 percent of their time directing students toward what is plainly obvious. They spend the other 10 percent igniting imagination as to what is possible.
  4. They walk a thin line between challenging and supporting. They destroy complacency without destroying confidence. This is tricky territory, and requires empathy and understanding on both sides — particularly when it comes to understanding the moment when it’s time to move on.
  5. They do not teach lessons; they teach how to work. As Denk writes, they “ennoble the art of practice.” (Isn’t that a fantastic phrase?)
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:50 AM | Permalink

A God's eye view of the planet

If you are going to be in London in the next few months, don't miss the new exhibit at London's Natural History Museum by one of the world's greatest photographers.

 Grand Canyon Sebastiao Salgade

Sebastião Salgado's Genesis exhibition offers A God's eye view of the planet

Salgado has described Genesis as a “love letter to the Earth and to the resilience of nature” and it is impossible to look at the photographs and not wonder whether Genesis is an elegy as well as a hymn. “I did not do Genesis as a journalist or an anthropologist or as a biologist,” he says. “I did it for pleasure. It was my idea of fun. To do a two-month walk or to go to the Himalayas and Antarctica gave me a huge amount of pleasure and I want to share that. But I am also much more hopeful about the future of the planet after this project than I was at the start.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:44 AM | Permalink

"Obscurity and a competence—that is the life that is best worth living"

One of the more delightful blogs I follow is Sippican Cottage .  A writer, furniture maker, raconteur,  musician and probably the best headline writer ever, Sippy marvels at his boys who aren't being raised in government schools.

If We Are Mark’d To Die, We Are Enow To Do Our Country Loss; And If To Live, The Fewer Men, The Greater Share Of Honour

My wife was teaching the little feller. There was some discussion about his older brother, who will finish high-school level homeschooling this year. He had questions about what that meant. "Your brother wants to be a musician when he is a man," my wife said to him; "What do you want to be when you grow up?"

"I want to be a musician, too," he said, though I wonder about that. He's sort of a wunderkind in a small area of musicianship -- he can do simple things almost effortlessly. But he has not shown the dogged determination that his older brother has shown at learning music. He is very young and might change his mind, and be one of those people I used to hate: people that could play music better than you could, but never had to try at it.

He wasn't done. "I want to be a husband. I want to be a father."

That is an astonishing thing to hear. Why should it be astonishing to hear a nine-year-old wants to grow up and be a husband and father? It shouldn't be, but it is. If he'd uttered that in a public school, I imagine he'd be in a re-education camp by nightfall. And on the flip side, I don't think the term "wife and mother" can be uttered in public school without a SWAT team of egalitarians being called.

My children don't want to be musicians because they dream of drug abuse and licentiousness and a vision of being carried around on a litter chair by flunkeys. My older son was old enough to have come to my music shows and seen the real work it was. He still wanted to do it, because work doesn't scare him. They both want to be productive citizens, useful to other productive citizens. They want to be husbands and fathers, with everything that means.

It is everything  we've wanted for them. When the little one shows flashes of genius, I dread it. You do not want to be wonderful in this world, son. Wonderful is a big millstone in the swimming pool of life. I wanted to be normal my whole life, and during my lifetime on earth, being "normal" has gotten so strange that your mother and I are living on the edge of civilization hanging on by our fingernails.

Obscurity and a competence—that is the life that is best worth living. -- Mark Twain

And what kids he has.  Wonderful and talented and normal.  Just listen to them playing So What by Miles Davis.
A band of two brothers, Unorganized Hancock,  figured out how to do this themselves.  Their father says

Amazing to me what the kids have been able to do with a little bit of hardware and software thrown in. I had nothing to do with this, except pressing the big PHD button on the camera. PHD stands for "Push Here, Dummy."

Don't miss them playing Take Five

 

And the backstory

It's the kids' idea to play it. We homeschool the kids. Well, my wife homeschools the kids, and I try not to mess it up too badly. Take a big bite, and keep chewing, we counsel them. This seems more than a big bite to me. I've watched it dozens of times already. I find it kind of astonishing. But better than that --I find it entertaining. I'll put this version of Take Five on my mp3 player and erase the original, and never look back.
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Yesterday was special. I promised my wife, and the kids, that for the first time in three years, I'd take a day off. A real day off. No furniture. No writing. I've promised that in the past, many times, and always failed. I wrote everything the day before, and didn't bang my thumb or anything in the woodshop. I volunteered to be their key grip.

We took the furniture out of the dining room, and lugged their stuff in there, and we set up two ladders. Between the ladders, we laid two, eight-foot two-by-fours. We got the two-by-fours from the dump. We took a skateboard, and clamped a video camera to it with two spring clamps from the woodshop. Then I rolled the skateboard back and forth while the kids played. We moved the ladders this way and that for the different shots. We didn't bother filming the bass playing. My wife was out all day on a mission of mercy, and we boys re-enacted The Cat In The Hat, tearing the house asunder while Mom's away, and putting it all back, and doing all the dishes before she got home.

It was, in every way but one, the best day of my life.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:37 AM | Permalink

April 12, 2013

Kermit Gosnell trial finally getting attention of more people

Unexpectedly, the trial of Kermit Gosnell and his house of horrors is finally breaking through to widespread coverage, at least in the alternative media.

For reporters who are stuck on how to approach the story, The Anchoress offers a Media Assist: Easy, Logical, Fair Angles to Pursue on Gosnell Story .  Here are a few:

***Nail salons and Tattoo shops are inspected twice year; Gosnell’s practice had not been inspected in 17 years. Why were inspections suspended? Is it common for abortion clinics to be bypassed? Does that not encourage unsafe, unsanitary conditions to flourish?

***Would Gosnell have severed baby feet and kept them like trophies if he had any fear of surprise inspections? Could regular inspections have saved women’s lives? Did political pressure from abortion advocates precipitate end of inspections, limited regulations?

***Poor, minority women were anesthetized by untrained 15 year-olds, and frequently delivered their late-term (often living) babies into toilets, with no doctor present. At trial testimony we hear, “white women got more and better treatment”. How does this speak to the treatment of underprivileged women. Could this sort of treatment every be ignored if it touched monied white women? If there is a “war on women” isn’t this a trench worth fighting in?

***How does Gosnell’s apparent disregard for minorities connect to Margaret Sanger’s genocidal desires to decimate minority populations?

Dr. Dwight Longnecker writes in America's Holocaust Deniers

Here is the thing which worries me even more deeply. If the media can stay silent about this, what else are they staying silent about? What else do we not know? If they can stay silent on this, what else will they stay silent about in the future? When people are taken away in the night who will say anything? When there are legal detention camps who will object? When people start to disappear who will say anything at all? Who will know?

Journalists used to report news. Now they have become mouthpieces for the ideologues who are running this country. The secular mainstream press in the USA are now no different than the government owned propaganda machines in the Soviet Union. If the mainstream media cannot report on the Gosnell case then shame, shame, shame on them. They are a disgrace to their profession–cowards and holocaust deniers.

David Weigel writes in Kermit Gosnell: The Alleged Mass-Murderer and the Bored Media

If you're pro-choice, say, and you worry that the Gosnell story is being promoted only to weaken your cause, you really should read that grand jury report. "DOH could and should have closed down Gosnell’s clinic years before," write the investigators. Why wasn't it? Were state regulators nervous about igniting a political fight about abortion? Is the regulatory system incompetent or under-funded? And are there other states where the same could be said? Social conservatives are largely right about the Gosnell story. Maybe it's not a raw political story. It's just the story of a potential mass murderer who operated for decades as government regulators did nothing.

It's Conor Friedersdorf in the Atlantic who makes the biggest turnaround in one day.  Why Dr. Kermit Gosnell's Trial Should Be a Front-Page Story

Until Thursday, I wasn't aware of this story. It has generated sparse coverage in the national media, and while it's been mentioned in RSS feeds to which I subscribe, I skip past most news items. I still consume a tremendous amount of journalism. Yet had I been asked at a trivia night about the identity of Kermit Gosnell, I would've been stumped and helplessly guessed a green Muppet. Then I saw Kirsten Power's USA Today column. She makes a powerful, persuasive case that the Gosnell trial ought to be getting a lot more attention in the national press than it is getting.

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He goes to some length in detailing just what was in the Grand Jury Report

The grand jury report in the case of Dr. Kermit Gosnell, 72, is among the most horrifying I've read. "This case is about a doctor who killed babies and endangered women. What we mean is that he regularly and illegally delivered live, viable babies in the third trimester of pregnancy - and then murdered these newborns by severing their spinal cords with scissors," it states. "The medical practice by which he carried out this business was a filthy fraud in which he overdosed his patients with dangerous drugs, spread venereal disease among them with infected instruments, perforated their wombs and bowels - and, on at least two occasions, caused their deaths."

He finds many stories, any one of which would be a blockbuster news story

For this isn't solely a story about babies having their heads severed, though it is that. It is also a story about a place where, according to the grand jury, women were sent to give birth into toilets; where a doctor casually spread gonorrhea and chlamydiae to unsuspecting women through the reuse of cheap, disposable instruments; an office where a 15-year-old administered anesthesia; an office where former workers admit to playing games when giving patients powerful narcotics; an office where white women were attended to by a doctor and black women were pawned off on clueless untrained staffers. Any single one of those things would itself make for a blockbuster news story. Is it even conceivable that an optometrist who attended to his white patients in a clean office while an intern took care of the black patients in a filthy room wouldn't make national headlines?

But it isn't even solely a story of a rogue clinic that's awful in all sorts of sensational ways either. Multiple local and state agencies are implicated in an oversight failure that is epic in proportions!

Jonah Goldberg reads the The Gosnell Grand Jury Report too.

Having now read the Gosnell grand-jury report, I must say I’m extremely impressed with how well-written it is. Yes, the underlying facts are horrifying and disgusting. But it reads like some of the best journalism. Is that typical?  Here’s the opening overview:

This case is about a doctor who killed babies and endangered women. What we mean is that he regularly and illegally delivered live, viable, babies in the third trimester of pregnancy – and then murdered these newborns by severing their spinal cords with scissors. The medical practice by which he carried out this business was a filthy fraud in which he overdosed his patients with dangerous drugs, spread venereal disease among them with infected instruments, perforated their wombs and bowels – and, on at least two occasions, caused their deaths. Over the years, many people came to know that something was going on here. But no one put a stop to it.
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The “Women’s Medical Society” - That was the impressive-sounding name of the clinic operated in West Philadelphia, at 38th and Lancaster, by Kermit B. Gosnell, M.D. Gosnell seemed impressive as well. A child of the neighborhood, Gosnell spent almost four decades running this clinic, giving back – so it appeared – to the community in which he continued to live and work.

But the truth was something very different, and evident to anyone who stepped  inside. The clinic reeked of animal urine, courtesy of the cats that were allowed to roam (and defecate) freely. Furniture and blankets were stained with blood. Instruments were not properly sterilized. Disposable medical supplies were not disposed of; they were reused, over and over again. Medical equipment – such as the defibrillator, the EKG, the pulse oximeter, the blood pressure cuff – was generally broken; even when it worked, it wasn’t used. The emergency exit was padlocked shut. And scattered throughout, in cabinets, in the basement, in a freezer, in jars and bags and plastic jugs, were fetal remains. It was a baby charnel house.


Even Buzzfeed reports on the Shocking Revelations From The “House Of Horrors” Trial

Make no mistake, Kermit Gosnell Is Not an Outlier

The horrible truth that the National Abortion Federation or Planned Parenthood or any other abortion apologist wants to hide is that Kermit Gosnell is not an outlier. Earlier this year, a 29-year-old kindergarten teacher died when “something went wrong” with an abortion of her unborn child. The woman was reportedly 33 weeks pregnant. And the doctor who performed this abortion, a full two months after the 24-week viability line, was the celebrated — and I do mean celebrated — Dr. Leroy Carhart.
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There’s very little difference between what Carhart does on a regular basis and what Kermit Gosnell stands on trial for. In one federal trial on the federal partial-birth-abortion ban, one abortionist testified (under a court-imposed cloak of anonymity) that his regular practice in late-term abortions was to decapitate a partially born child.
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While the pro-abortion industry appears embarrassed by the Gosnell trial, they’ve held Carhart up as their hero. Carhart was awarded the 2009 William K. Rashbaum, MD, Abortion Provider Award by Physicians for Reproductive Health — because there’s nothing like dying on the table to advance a woman’s health. Oh, and NARAL Pro-Choice America (which no longer stands for National Abortion Rights Action League, given that some people might think that name icky) gave him its Hero Award in the same year. 
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:04 PM | Permalink

Angel with a cell phone and a number

 Angel-Cellphone Dutch-Church

A Dutch Angel's Cellphone Number Is in Demand The New York Times

’S HERTOGENBOSCH, the Netherlands — High on the cathedral (ed. St John the Evangelist) in this trim Dutch town, amid a phalanx of stone statues of local noblemen, crusaders, saints and angels, one figure stands out. Smiling faintly, with lowered eyelids, one of the angels wears jeans, has a laptop bag slung over one shoulder and is chatting on a cellphone. The angel gets about 30 calls a day on the phone.
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That is because, shortly after the statue was unveiled last April, a local couple, the parents of two children, set up a number so people could call the angel. Business cards soon appeared in pubs, restaurants and hotels with a picture of the angel and the number. So successful was the line that the couple opened a Twitter account, @ut_engelke, managed by the husband, which now has about 2,700 followers.

“The telephone is ringing all day,” said the wife, who like her husband agreed to meet a reporter on the condition that they not be identified. “It was a fairy tale,” she said over beer and snacks. “Now, it’s real.” To identify them, she said, would end it.

What began as a joke continues because the cellphone number has become something of a hot line, dialed by people of all ages, some in need of help, others just because they are lonely.

At the holidays, the calls became so frequent and so pressing that the couple was tempted to give up. “Between Christmas and New Year’s, that was an emotional time frame, it was so heartbreaking,” she said. A small girl called begging the angel to pray for a grandmother who had just died; a woman asked help to celebrate her first Christmas without her parents. A widow sought prayers for her dead children.
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The statue of the Little Angel arose out of a 1997 competition, won by the Dutch sculptor Ton Mooy, to create 40 statues, including 14 angels, to replace those on the cathedral that time and pollution had ruined. The Little Angel was the only unconventional one.

“You can make a phony Gothic statue,” Mr. Mooy, 63, said in his studio in Amersfoort, about an hour north of here. “That’s not what I wanted. It had to fit in with what was always on the church, namely, refinement, emotion. Angels are there to guide, to protect people, they get messages from above. How do you show that? With a cellphone.”

“I tell kids, ‘There’s one button on that cellphone,’ ” he said with a chuckle — a direct line to heaven. “So she doesn’t get naughty, calling other angels.

The cathedral, which dates to 1220, has a centuries-old tradition of unusual, sometimes bawdy, art. One medieval statue is of a bricklayer bending over and baring his bottom. Some is tragic. A stained glass window over the main entrance depicts the apocalypse with a panel showing the Sept. 11 attack on the twin towers.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:11 PM | Permalink

Gosnell trial and the "Monster of Bureaucratic Neglect"

The latest news from the Gosnell trial is that a 15-year-old intern at the  Gosnell clinic administered intravenous medication,  assisted in abortions and her mother helped get her the job.  Teen intern at Gosnell clinic recalls hearing aborted fetus 'screeching'

Baldwin also told the jury about seeing at least five aborted babies moving, breathing, and, in one case, "screeching" after late-term procedures at the clinic at 3801 Lancaster Ave.
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Baldwin said one baby was so big that Gosnell joked that "this baby is going to walk me home."
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Ashley Baldwin said she assisted Gosnell in abortions, applying pressure to the mother's abdomen, handing the doctor instruments and equipment.
She said she also saw Gosnell use scissors to "snip" the neck of newborns who were moving after the procedure.

Although she sometimes felt uneasy about what she saw, Baldwin said, Gosnell always had an explanation: "He told me that's how it was supposed to go."
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She said he told her she was working legally because, as a doctor, he had "grandfathered her in."
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Ashley Baldwin has not been charged with any crime. Tina Baldwin, 47, has pleaded guilty to racketeering, conspiracy, and corrupting a minor - her daughter.


From Get Religion is this photo of seats reserved for the media in a post about a Washington Post reporter who explained she doesn't cover 'local crime'.

So when a private foundation privately decides to stop giving money to the country’s largest abortion provider, that is somehow a policy issue deserving of three dozen breathless hits. When a yahoo political candidate says something stupid about rape, that is a policy issue of such import that we got another three dozen hits about it from this reporter. It was so important that journalists found it fitting to ask every pro-lifer in their path to discuss it. And when someone says something mean to a birth control activist, that’s good for months of puffy profiles.

 Gosnellmediaseating

The picture above, for what it’s worth, is of the reserved media seats at the Gosnell trial. It was taken by JD Mullane, a news writer and columnist for the Bucks County Courier Times, The Intel and the Burlington County (NJ) Times. He says:

Sat through a full day of testimony at the Kermitt Gosnell trial today. It is beyond the most morbid Hollywood horror. It will change you.
I was surprised by the picture and asked “really?” He responded “Local press was there, Inky, PhillyMag, NBC10 blogger. Court staff told me nobody else has shown up.”

Ace comments

This story exposes faultlines between Democrats, who are by political necessity abortion absolutists, and Independents, who may lean somewhat pro-choice but sure the hell aren't on board for infanticide. But to report this story at all would put the Democrats in the difficult position of angering its an element of its hardcore single-issue leftist coalition, or alienating independents.

Thus, the media -- which just "wants to report the facts" and "takes no positions on policy questions" and which has no partisan leaning at all -- simply doesn't report the story at all.

After all, if the public hears of it, they may make The Wrong Decisions.

You don't trust children with matches and you don't trust the American public with information. It's that simple.

Horrifying Illegal Abortion Clinic Wasn't Inspected For 17 Years Due To Pro-Choice Policy

72-year-old Kermit Gosnell has been charged with killing seven babies and accused of killing hundreds in gruesome and illegal late-term abortions.
Prosecutors claim Gosnell "snipped" the necks of viable babies and exploited low-income, immigrant women who couldn't get abortions anywhere else.
Gosnell — who wasn't licensed to practice obstetrics and gynecology — is also accused of giving women venereal diseases by using dirty instruments, and of causing the death of a 41-year-old immigrant from Nepal.

The clinic was not inspected from 1993 to 2010, when FBI agents finally raided the place. They found moaning women covered in blood-stained blankets and jars with severed fetus feet, according to the 281-page grand jury report.

The grand jury report that lays out allegations against Gosnell has an entire section called "How did this go on so long?" The simple answer is politics.

The "monster of bureaucratic neglect"

Gosnell’s Women’s Medical Society might still be in operation today had the doctor’s lucrative side practice — dispensing “fake prescriptions” for painkillers such as Oxycontin — not brought him to the attention of prosecutors in the first place.

Here’s some of what I wrote in “A Philadelphia Story”:

In the years since Roe, as the Philadelphia grand-jury report exhaustively details, a bureaucratic double standard on abortion policy spawned layers of “official neglect,” amounting to “utter disregard both for the safety of women who seek treatment at abortion clinics and for the health of fetuses after they have become viable.” Why was this allowed to happen? “We think the reason no one acted is because the women in question were poor and of color, because the victims were infants without identities, and because the subject was the political football of abortion,” the jurors concluded. (The occasional white student or woman from the suburbs who found her way to Gosnell’s clinic, however, got special attention from the doctor himself and “did not have to wait in the same dirty rooms as black and Asian clients.”)

The “grand jury report is scathing about the failures of the Pennsylvania Department of Health.” Section VI, titled “How Did This Go On So Long?” and running 80 pages, is indeed a scathing indictment: of the state’s health department, which, it charges, “has deliberately chosen not to enforce laws that should afford patients at abortion clinics the same safeguards and assurances of quality health care as patients of other medical service providers”; of Pennsylvania’s Department of State, which ignored complaints about Gosnell and “failed to investigate a 22-year-old patient’s death caused by [his] recklessness”; of Philadelphia’s Health Department, whose employees “ignored the serious — and obvious — threat to public health posed by Gosnell’s clinic”; and finally, of “fellow doctors who observed the results of Gosnell’s reckless and criminal practices,” when his injured victims sought treatment at nearby hospitals, and “failed to report him to authorities.”

Curiously, while the grand jury recommended indictments for Gosnell and several of his staff, it did not do so for any public employee, despite adducing that “the [state] Department of Health’s neglect of abortion patients’ safety and Pennsylvania laws is clearly not inadvertent: It is by design” (their emphasis).
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:48 AM | Permalink

Health roundup: Walnuts, bananas, aspirin, zapping the brain, curing leukemia in 8 days

Eating walnuts twice a week could slash the risk of type 2 diabetes by a quarter

Eating walnuts just two or three times a week can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by almost a quarter, according to new research.

A study of nearly 140,000 women in the U.S. showed that regular helpings of a small portion of nuts can have a powerful protective effect against a disease that is threatening to become a global epidemic.  Women who consumed a 28 gram packet of walnuts at least twice a week were 24 per cent less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those who rarely or never ate them.

Eat more bananas and fewer chips. Increase potassium and cut salt to reduce blood pressure and stroke risk according to research in the British Medical Journal.

Taking aspirin just once a month 'can cut risk of cancer by a quarter'

Taking aspirin weekly or even monthly could help ward off tumours of the head and neck, researchers say
Study showed a 'significant' reduction in risk among 55 to 74-year-olds taking regular dose

Academics noted a 'significant' reduction in the risk of head and neck cancer among 55 to 74-year-olds regularly taking aspirin. A regular dose of aspirin in middle age is already recognised as helping to reduce people's risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Why Are Boomers Getting S.T.D.s?  The same way everyone else gets them

Walter Russell Mead  Med Tech Roundup: Eight-Day Cancer Cure and other Quick Fixes

A new gene therapy has been found to cure leukemia in eight days. Five patients with a fatal diagnosis received the treatment, and only one of them succumbed. A doctor from Sloane-Kettering will now lead a second trial with fifty patients.

That isn’t the only good news for the fight against cancer. The WSJ recently reported on a new attempt to compile information on “hundreds of thousands” of cancer patients into a searchable database. Doctors consulting the database could see how patients similar to their own responded to various treatments. It’s such a good idea, one wonders why it hasn’t happened already:

“Some 1.6 million Americans are diagnosed with cancer every year, but in more than 95% of cases, details of their treatments are ‘locked up in medical records and file drawers or in electronic systems not connected to each other,’ said Allen Lichter, chief executive office of ASCO. ‘There is a treasure trove of information inside those cases if we simply bring them together.’

Zapping the brain with magnets could cure cocaine addiction

Cocaine addicts could be cured using a technique that stimulates the brain with magnets.  Experiments on mice addicted to cocaine found they were weaned off the drug after laser beams were used to change neurons in a particular part of the brain.

Scientists who report their study in the journal Nature say a similar strategy using magnets could work on human drug abusers - and clinical trials should start soon to see if it works.  They showed by stimulating a region called the pre-frontal cortex with light they could wipe away addictive behaviour in the lab animals - or conversely turn non-addicted rats into compulsive cocaine seekers.
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Prof Bonci, of California University in San Francisco, said it also suggests a new therapy that could be tested immediately in humans.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:47 AM | Permalink

The Return of Eugenics

"In vitro eugenics" straight from Brave New World.  Creative Minority Report

After reading "In vitro eugenics" by Dr. Robert Sparrow in the Journal of Medical Ethics, I have to agree. Dr. Sparrow explores the possibility of creating embryos in the lab, then using the stem cells from those embryos to create egg and sperm cells, and then using those gametes to create more embryos. Essentially, this would take human reproduction into the laboratory not just for one generation, but for generation after generation. These embryos would be "orphaned at conception." They "would have no genetic parents: there would be no living individual—or indeed individual that had ever lived—who could be described as the genetic progenitor of such embryos." Sparrow calls this "in vitro eugenics":

The Return of Eugenics - Crisis magazine

Events have since made the word eugenics distasteful, but not the notion. The idea of human perfection via managed procreation is back and stronger than ever, at least in the academy. Now instead of forcible sterilization, the call is for fetal genetic testing and selective abortion. Race is no longer the marker of unfitness; having incorrect thoughts or unwelcome moral attitudes and genetic unworthiness are.

Early eugenicists embraced contraception. In 1921 Margaret Sanger argued birth control was “not merely of eugenic value, but is practically identical in ideal, with the final aims of Eugenics.”
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David DeGrazia, tenured at George Washington University, who in the Journal of Medical Ethics recently advocated creating a master race via programmatic “moral bioenhancement.” ….

He disfavors letting emerge from the womb those whose DNA codes for “moral cynicism” (he cites tax cheats), those not wanting to contribute “one’s fair share,” those with “defective empathy,” those who suffer “a failure of insight or motivation,” including those not wanting to donate more than 1% of the USA’s GDP to foreign governments (yes, truly). Who decides on the list of desirable and therefore allowable traits? Well, people like DeGrazia, though he concedes “it might make sense to permit parents to adopt more debatable visions of morality—among reasonable alternatives.”
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As is plain, the leading new-eugenics organ is the Journal of Medical Ethics, edited by Julian Savulescu (tenured, St Cross College, Oxford), self-appointed champion of genetic tinkering. … He claims, “We now know that most psychological characteristics are significantly determined by certain genes,” like, the “COMT gene” which selects for altruism (new-eugenicists really go for altruism). If you want your child “to be faithful and enjoy stable relationships” then abort him if he has “a variant of AVPR1.” Kill him, too, if he’s saddled with “a certain type of the MA0A gene” which is “linked to higher levels of violence in children who often suffer abuse or deprivation.”
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New-eugenicists aren’t claiming definitiveness, however. They know that gene-behavior connections are correlational and that behavior is difficult to unambiguously define. They know they’re using the “loaded-dice” argument such that aborting those with or without approved genes only increases the chances of desired behaviors, but doesn’t guarantee them. They know the correlations are weak, but they claim they’re good enough.

Scientists Want to Scavenge Aborted Fetal Eggs

By the way, it isn’t IVF for which the eggs will be required, but human cloning. Somatic cell nuclear transfer cloning requires a human egg for each try and eggs are in short supply. Indeed, I have frequently noted that the technology has been held back by what I call the “egg dearth.” 
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But if they can get unlimited eggs from dead fetuses and women, cloning will not only be successfully performed (which, I predicted, will happen this year) but eventually perfected and put to concerted use. Then, it is on to all the Brave New World technologies–such as genetic engineering–that require cloning to develop.

Killing the fetuses and keeping their ovaries alive. That makes the scientists complicit in the abortions. Think about what we are becoming.

Eugenics Threat Growing in IVF Industry

Dr. Robert Sparrow, of Monash University in Australia, who wrote last year in the Journal of Medical Ethics that the time has come to open a debate on “in vitro eugenics”
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Dr. Sparrow, who is broadly in favour of the idea, suggested that artificial gametes could be used to speed up the rate at which human generations turn over, producing two or three generations of improved human beings, free of “unsatisfactory genes,” in a single year.

“In effect,” he writes, “scientists will be able to breed human beings with the same (or greater) degree of sophistication with which we currently breed plants and animals.”

Such a breeding program, he said, “would give future eugenicists a power undreamed of by governments and would-be genetic reformers of the past.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:41 AM | Permalink

Odd tips: rosemary, bras and pirates' eyepatchs

 Rosemary  Rosemary for remembrance.

Why a whiff of rosemary DOES help you remember: Sniffing the herb can increase memory by 75%
A team of psychologists at Northumbria University, Newcastle, tested the effects of essential oils from rosemary.  They found that
rosemary aroma not only improved long-term memory and mental arithmetic, it enables people to remember to do things by 60-75% when compared to people who didn't sniff rosemary beforehand.

NOODLE SOUP is the best cure for the morning after the night before

Scientists have now hailed a beef and noodle broth as the perfect hangover remedy, saying its healing properties after a heavy night are based on scientific fact.
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Although recipes vary, an Old Sober (as the dish is known) is typically made with a salty beef and soy sauce based broth, noodles, either beef, chicken or shrimp; onions and a sliced hard-boiled egg.
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Hangovers arise when more alcohol than the body can cope with is consumed.  High blood levels of ethanol - the intoxicating ingredient in alcohol - teamed with dehydration and the toxic effect of the body's breakdown of alcohol into acetaldehyde and of substances called congeners cause what Professor Alyson Mitchell referred to as a ‘metabolic storm’.  Symptoms includes a headache, nausea, fatigue, body aches and weakness.

Each individual ingredient in the soup beat the hangover. She explained that eggs contain an amino acid called cysteine that removes acetyldehyde from the body.
The salts replace sodium and potassium lost in the urine due to the diuretic effect of alcohol.  Vitamin B1 or Thiamine found in meat and fish may also help prevent the build up of glutarate, the substance linked to the classic hangover headache .

Strategic Shopping: A Month-by-Month Analysis  I think this is a handy list about what to buy and when

Women are better off without bras.  Bras make women's breasts sag more say French scientists who studied the effect for 15 years.

“Medically, physiologically, anatomically – breasts gain no benefit from being denied gravity," he said. “On the contrary, they get saggier with a bra”.

Especially when hiking. The Mountaineering Council of Scotland warns hikers that metal in under-wired bras can cause compasses to be reversed because of the magnetic effect.  Car keys, magnets in mobile phone cases and GPS devices may cause the same effect of reverse polarity. .

A safety officer, who has experienced reverse polarity on three occasions in the past three months, said: 'It's a fact, the catalyst for a substantial number of mountain rescue call outs in the UK is either directly or partially a result of a navigation error.

Reading in dim  light will not hurt your eyes  and why pirates wear an eyepatch

"Ever wonder why a pirate wears patches? It's not because he was wounded in a sword fight," says Dr. Sheedy. Seamen must constantly move between the pitch black of below decks and the bright sunshine above.

Smart pirates "wore a patch over one eye to keep it dark-adapted outside." Should a battle break out and the pirate had to shimmy below, he would simply switch the patch to the outdoor eye and he could see in the dark right away—saving him 25 minutes of flailing his cutlass about in near blindness.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:38 AM | Permalink

April 11, 2013

I didn't know that

Progressive Racism - the hundredth anniversary of President Woodrow Wilson’s segregation of the civil service

One hundred years ago today, Woodrow Wilson brought Jim Crow to the North
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Wilson, our first professorial president, was a case in point. He was the very model of a modern Progressive, and he was recognized as such. He prided himself on having pioneered the new science of rational administration, and he shared the conviction, dominant among his brethren, that African-Americans were racially inferior to whites. With the dictates of Social Darwinism and the eugenics movement in mind, in 1907, he campaigned in Indiana for the compulsory sterilization of criminals and the mentally retarded; and in 1911, while governor of New Jersey, he proudly signed into law just such a bill.

Prior to the segregation of the civil service in 1913, appointments had been made solely on merit as indicated by the candidate’s performance on the civil-service examination. Thereafter, racial discrimination became the norm. Photographs came to be required at the time of application, and African-Americans knew they would not be hired. The existing work force was segregated. Many African-Americans were dismissed. In the postal service, others were transferred to the dead-letter office, where they had no contact with the general public. Those who continued to work in municipal post offices labored behind screens — out of sight and out of mind. When the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the National Independent Political League objected to the new policy, Wilson — a Presbyterian elder who was nothing if not high-minded — vigorously defended it, arguing that segregation was in the interest of African-Americans. For 35 years, segregation in the civil service would be public policy. It was only after Adolf Hitler gave eugenics and “scientific racism” a bad name that segregation came to seem objectionable.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:49 PM | Permalink

"The theory that explains everything explains nothing.'

Global warming is not so much a scientific theory subject to empirical falsification as it is a political ideology that must be fiercely defended in defiance of every fact to the contrary. In the past few years we have been told that not only hot weather but cold weather is caused by global warming. The blizzards that struck the east coast of the US in 2010 were attributed to global warming. Every weather event–hot, cold, wet or dry–is said to be caused by global warming. The theory that explains everything explains nothing.
    David Deming, Professor of Arts & Sciences at the University of Oklahoma via Bookworm

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:59 PM | Permalink

The French have it right when it comes to gay marriage

In this politically charged issue, a disclaimer is necessary.  I have no animus against homosexuals and i've supported civil unions, but I've drawn the line against marriage because I am so concerned with the well-being of children and so opposed to any commodification of human beings.

Adults may have great desire to have children, but they have no "right" to  children.  If a couple can not procreate, they can not buy children or demand the state children provide them children.  They are allowed to adopt children but only if they satisfy the state's requirements of adoption which are concerned with the welfare of the individual child and the fitness of the prospective adoptive parents. 

On the other hand, children have the right to have two parents, male and female.  It is the way nature works.

But we are already deep down the path of turning children into commodities to be bought and sold  There is little or no regulation about sperm donation, about IVF, about surrogacy and already the consequences are very troublesome for the the children involved.  Do we want even more children with gaping holes in their lives whose Daddy's name is Donor?

I'm  French when it comes to the issue of gay marriage. 

Robert Oscar Lopez is right when he says the French are ahead of us in exposing the great lie of gay marriage.

Gay marriage is posing as liberation for homosexuals but really hiding the nefarious goal of commercializing procreation, turning children into commodities.  Designer children will be a huge business in the future, but without "gay equality" as a smokescreen to distract people from the ugliness of what such a commerce entails, the market would come under massive criticism.

Gay marriage eradicates the role of mother and father and institutionalizes a form of child-rearing that works by contract and purchase, which the government naturally controls and oversees in collaboration with massive corporations.

It was the French man on the street who figured out the big lie -- that this movement for gay marriage is really all about big money, about men like Elton John and Pierre Berge buying children and disposing of women (Berge said that renting a womb to make a baby is like renting a worker's arms in a factory to make a product); that this movement for gay marriage is being pushed not by gay advocates, but by well-funded usurpers of gay rhetoric.
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Ironically, the left, supposedly against McCarthyism, enjoys the total suppression of dissent at universities and in the press on this issue.  Ironically, the left, ostensibly the party of civil rights, is eagerly leading a lemming charge backward into the sale and purchase of human beings,

Child’s Question: ‘Which Parent Do I Not Need: Mom or Dad?’ Stumps Legislature

Minnesota state legislators considering a same-sex marriage bill for the state did not have an answer to an 11-year-old girl’s question on which parent is not needed.

“Since every child needs a mom and a dad to be born, I don’t think we can change that children need a mom and a dad. I believe God made it that way,” Grace Evans, 11, said before the Minnesota House Committee on Civil Law last week. “I know some disagree, but I want to ask you this question: Which parent do I not need – my mom or my dad?”

Gay marriage is a social experiment that will cause serious harm to children

It is either right to maintain the ideal man-woman definition of marriage – our most important social institution — or it is not. We must not base our decision on compassion for gays (or misunderstood sense of fairness), whether the gay person is our child, a sibling, friend or anyone else.
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Same-sex couples in New Jersey already receive equal benefits under civil-union law, and these unions deserve distinction for good reason. A new gold-standard, peer-reviewed, family structures study released in June 2012 by sociology professor Mark Regnerus from the University of Texas indicates that the social experiment of homosexual “marriage” will cause serious harm to children. The study found that children raised by gay and lesbian parents are significantly more likely than those raised in a two-parent heterosexual home to: have social and mental health problems requiring therapy, identify themselves as homosexual, choose cohabitation, be unfaithful to partners, contract sexually transmitted diseases, be sexually molested or raped by a parent or adult, have lower income levels, drink to get drunk, and smoke tobacco and marijuana.
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Consider that the social mistakes we as a society have already made, and are headed toward now, will weigh most heavily on the shoulders of children. They are the innocent victims of social experimentation and have become morally and even physically broken in the name of so-called “freedom, equality and progress.”
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This month, Doug Mainwaring, a gay man, wrote an insightful article for thepublicdiscourse.com, sharing that intellectual honesty and experience as a gay person raising children can lead to opposing same-sex marriage. “There are perhaps a hundred different things, small and large, that are negotiated between parents and kids every week,” he said. “Moms and dads interact differently with their children. To give kids two moms or two dads is to withhold … someone whom they desperately need and deserve in order to be whole and happy. It is to permanently etch ‘deprivation’ on their hearts.”

No Pasaran!, Canada's Precedent in Legalizing Same-Sex Marriage: Are There Any Valid Reasons to Be Against Gay Nuptials?

In his book Nation of Bastards, Farrow criticized  warned that by claiming the power to re-invent marriage, the Canadian state “has drawn marriage and the family into a captive orbit. It has reversed the gravitational field between the family and the state… It has effectively made every man, woman, and child a chattel of the state, by turning their most fundamental human connections into mere legal constructs at the state’s disposal. It has transformed those connections from divine gifts into gifts from the state.”
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By fundamentally redefining marriage, [Douglas Farrow] says, the state has appropriated the institution of marriage and turned children, indeed all citizens, into wards of the state. Marriage and family have always existed in relative autonomy vis a vis the state, resting as they do on the nature of human beings and the natural human family.  In a liberal society, marriage and family mediate between individual and state. As such they are indispensable to liberal democracy.
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They may or may not be recognized and protected by the state, but marriage and family in any case are not created by it. They are, by their nature and not the state's fiat, the way in which one generation turns from its own concerns to those of the next, requiring a sacrifice and commitment of the autonomous ego to a relationship ordered to procreation, fidelity, and a covenantal relationship involving man, woman, and any children that result from their union.
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It is true that totalitarian states invariably seek to undermine and subordinate the family and all of civil society, dismantling them and slowly grinding them up, in Nietzsche's expression, "into a random collection of individuals, haphazardly bound together in the common pursuit of selfish ends."

That sounds right for Nazi Germany or Communist Eastern Europe, where all civil society, everything that stands between individual and state, is weakened and destroyed.

But Canada? It sounds far-fetched, but if Farrow is right, we can expect to see, as in Europe today, the increasing control of the state over children's education and socialization (home-schooling was outlawed in Hitler's Germany and just recently parents have been arrested for defying the law). Parents cannot be trusted not to raise their children in their own faith, whose values may contradict those of the state; parents will have fewer and fewer rights to exempt their children from the state's version of sex education and instruction in the moral acceptability of fornication. Professionals, denied protections of conscience, will be fired, not for "imposing their moral views on their clients," but for failing to impose the state's.

The Well-Being of Children

A study by Elizabeth Marquardt and associates entitled “My Daddy’s Name is Donor,”……According to Marquardt, “Donor conceived children know that the parents raising them are also the ones who intentionally denied them a relationship with at least one of their biological parents. The pain they might feel was caused not by some distant birth parent who gave them up, but by the parent who cares for them every day.”

The purpose of adoption is “to find parents for children who need them. Donor conception functions as a market, the purpose of which is to create children for adults who want them.”
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Calling same-sex relationships marriages harms children. It says to them your need for your own biological father and mother doesn’t matter
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:15 PM | Permalink

This is how government wastes your money

Officials 'can't account for' $700 million in Katrina aid

The relief program, which disbursed grants of up to $30,000 to more than 24,000 homeowners, was supposed to be used to elevate homes and protect property in areas vulnerable to storm surges. Instead, as the report by Inspector General of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) David Montoya now shows, of the $1 billion earmarked for home improvements, homeowners seem to have spent a striking majority - at least $700 million - on anything but.
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Now, HUD is putting pressure on the State of Louisiana to recover the disbursed grants, though Montoya has stated that chances officials will get the money back are slim to none. Still, according to the Inspector General’s report, homeowners who received HUD assistance for home elevation are legally on the hook for completing the work.

$700 million In Katrina Aid Gone Missing

Instead of telling residents that the government will pay up to $30,000 for them to get their houses elevated, and all the residents would have to do was send the government an actual invoice from a reputable renovation company – one that was on the governments “approved list”, the government instead gave a blank cheque to these people in the hope they would do the right thing and spend the money responsibly.

They didn't.  Clearly they saw this $30,000 disbursed by the government as free money to be spent in any way they wanted.  Fat chance any of it will be recovered.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:09 PM | Permalink

Planned Parenthood abortion clinics oppose efforts to strengthen health and safety standards

Whether you are pro-choice or pro-life, you should be horrified at the conditions of these abortion clinics run by Planned Parenthood.    Unlike hospitals or medical clinics, abortion clinics are not subject to periodic health and safety inspections.    Sadly, it's the poor and minorities who suffer the most from this unconscionable lack of oversight.

A meat-market style of assembly line abortions: Nurses quit Planned Parenthood because of 'dangerous and dirty work conditions and risk of AIDS'

Two Planned Parenthood nurses quit their jobs because of dirty and dangerous work conditions and what they called 'a meat-market style of assembly-line abortions'.    The former employees of the Delaware branch have spoken out about what allegedly takes place behind its closed doors and said that a rush to get patients in and out leaves the operating tables soiled and unclean and that doctors don't wear gloves.

Jayne Mitchell-Werbrich, former employee said:
'It was just unsafe. I couldn't tell you how ridiculously unsafe it was. 'It's not washed down, it's not even cleaned off. It has bloody drainage on it.'

Another former employee, Joyce Vasikonis told Action News: 'They were using instruments on patients that were not sterile. They could be at risk of getting hepatitis, even AIDS.'

Both nurses quit their jobs to protect their medical licenses and because they did not want to be held liable if a patient was harmed.
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In Delaware, abortion clinics are not subject to routine inspections and the state only steps in when they have a patient complaint.  This year, one doctor and two more nurses have left. Several patients have lawsuits pending against the clinic.

Susan B Anthony..Planned Parenthood Nurses Quit, Citing ‘Ridiculously Unsafe,’ Filthy Clinic Conditions

Planned Parenthood cannot claim to be truly concerned for women’s health while at the same time opposing laws aimed at securing women’s safety inside abortion clinics. America’s number one abortion business cannot claim that the Kermit Gosnell ‘house of horrors’ is an isolated incident while their own employees expose them for conditions they call ‘ridiculously unsafe,’” said Susan B. Anthony List president Marjorie Dannenfelser. “The abortion industry cannot be relied upon to police themselves and repeatedly opposing efforts to strengthen health and safety standards in abortion clinics does not reflect true concern for women and girls.”

“Delaware has a grisly history on abortion. Kermit Gosnell, now on trial in Philadelphia for the murder of infants born-alive, practiced in Wilmington at the Atlantic Women’s Medical Center for years, as did two of those testifying against him,” said Ellen Barosse, founder of the Delaware pro-life group A Rose and A Prayer. “It is a tragedy that in the state where we have the highest abortion rate in the country, these abortion clinics are not even subject to routine inspection. ‘Safe, legal, and rare’ has long been the mantra of the abortion industry and its supporters. It’s clear that in Delaware only legal matters—patient safety is not a concern.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:00 PM | Permalink

"We have forgotten what belongs on Page 1"

We have forgotten what belongs on Page 1 by Kirsten Powers

Infant beheadings. Severed baby feet in jars. A child screaming after it was delivered alive during an abortion procedure. Haven't heard about these sickening accusations?
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Stephen Massof, a former Gosnell worker, "described how he snipped the spinal cords of babies, calling it, 'literally a beheading. It is separating the brain from the body." One former worker, Adrienne Moton, testified that Gosnell taught her his "snipping" technique to use on infants born alive.

Massof, who, like other witnesses, has himself pleaded guilty to serious crimes, testified "It would rain fetuses. Fetuses and blood all over the place."
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none of the news shows on the three major national television networks has mentioned the Gosnell trial in the last three months….The Washington Post has not published original reporting on this during the trial and The New York Times saw fit to run one original story on A-17 on the trial's first day. They've been silent ever since,
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You don't have to oppose abortion rights to find late-term abortion abhorrent or to find the Gosnell trial eminently newsworthy. This is not about being "pro-choice" or "pro-life." It's about basic human rights.

The deafening silence of too much of the media, once a force for justice in America, is a disgrace.

The New York Post editorializes on Dead Silence

Which makes the media blackout of one ongoing trial a mystery. Or maybe not.

In Philadelphia, Kermit Gosnell is on trial on eight counts of murder: seven for babies he’s accused of killing with scissors after they were born, and one for a pregnant refugee who died after receiving an overdose of drugs. If true, Gosnell was running a slaughterhouse out of the Middle Ages.
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The reason seems obvious: Much of our press corps skews to one side on abortion. So even though what Gosnell is charged with is closer to infanticide — an unlicensed abortionist profiting mightily by killing the newborn babies of poor, minority women — somehow it’s not news.

What Dead Kids?

There used to be a formulation of cynical news editors to determine American news priorities for mass murder. It ran something like: 1,000 dead Bangladeshis = 100 dead Italians = 10 dead Americans.

So how many dead American babies does it take to make the news?…The U.S. media’s unanimous agreement to see no evil is sick and totalitarian.

I have been following the trial on the London Daily Mail where I learned about one of the workers who testified snipping babies' spines after they were born was 'standard procedure' to bring about 'fetal demise'.   

She said she took a baby that had been delivered in a toilet in the second trimester - between 12 and 24 weeks of pregnancy - and saw its arm move before she snipped its spine, ….'I only do what I’m told to do,' she told the jury. 'What I was told to do was snip their neck.'
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Gosnell, 72, is charged with murdering seven babies at Philadelphia Women's Medical Society and with the death of a woman, who suffered cardiac arrest after she was given too much anesthesia.
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Like many of Gosnell's employees, Williams was desperate for work when he gave her a job.  She had a poor education and had not even finished eighth grade, although went on to work as an instrument sterilizer. During this job, she met Gosnell who performed abortions at the clinic.

But her life began spiralling out of control when her husband was murdered in 2008 and she was diagnosed with bipolar and depression. She asked Gosnell if he had any work for her.  He hired her to sterilize instrument and soon asked her to carry out ultrasounds, administering intravenous medication and anesthesia to patients.
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She told the jury that Gosnell changed paperwork on patients that were too heavily pregnant to undergo an abortion so that they appeared to be less than 24 weeks - the legal time limit.

She added that pain medication was sometimes out of date or did not work - and she would see Gosnell 'smack' the legs of women who squirmed, leaving his hand print behind.
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Other employees have described how they saw about 100 babies born alive and then 'snipped'.  Some told the court of gruesome scenes at the clinic which was allegedly found dirty and rundown with rusting surgical instruments.

A Grand Jury report said the clinic was crawling with cats and reeking of animal urine and feces. Furniture and blankets were stained with blood and instruments were not properly sterilized.  Disturbingly, the report alleged that fetal remains were stuffed into: 'cabinets, in the basement, in a freezer, in jars and bags and plastic jugs'.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:46 AM | Permalink

April 10, 2013

Rembrandt Flash Mob in a Dutch mall celebrates the re-opening of the Rijksmuseum

Reconstruction of Rembrandt's The Night Watch in a Dutch shopping mall to promote the re-opening of the Rijksmuseum.  It's great and only a minute long.

A Great Museum Enters a New Golden Age

After 10 years of comprehensive renovations, the Rijksmuseum—the Dutch national museum of art and history, where masterpieces by Rembrandt van Rijn and Johannes Vermeer mingle with 17th-century blunderbusses and Delft blue pottery—triumphantly reopens its doors in the Dutch capital this Saturday to reveal a profoundly transformed institution, whose elegant public spaces and intelligent presentation of collections are likely to serve as models for other museums around the world in years to come.

The Rijksmuseum's original 1885 Renaissance Revival building, designed by Dutch architect Petrus Josephus Hubertus Cuypers, has been painstakingly restored to its former splendor and outfitted with all the modern infrastructure a 21st-century arts institution requires—climate control, fire suppression, handicapped access, security systems, shops, restaurants, auditoriums—under the guiding hand of the Spanish architectural firm of Cruz y Ortiz, which has boldly reconfigured the museum's underground levels to create a vast new interior plaza that dramatically improves the flow of visitors throughout the building.
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In this new scheme, Rembrandt's greatest masterpiece, "The Officers and Shooting Company of Capt. Frans Banning Cocq and Lt. Willem van Ruytenburch" (1642), popularly known as "The Night Watch," is the only object that remains in its original location—at the end of the second floor Gallery of Honor, where it looks splendid under natural light, just as it was meant to be seen.

 Rembrandt's Night Watch

….The  Gallery of Honor…..is surely one of the most beautiful museum spaces in the world. Its colonnaded central hall and intimate side galleries are perfectly proportioned, the vaulted ceilings are splendidly embellished in an array of pastel tones, and the very air seems to crackle with abundant, magical daylight. The sumptuous anthracite-gray hue of the walls—a perfect complement to Old Master paintings—was specially formulated for the Rijksmuseum by the French designer Jean-Michel Wilmotte, known for his brilliant work at the Louvre. The Rijksmuseum has prepared meticulously to make the grand reopening a truly special event, even revamping its website and publishing a wonderful new collection guide—a model of concision and insight—available in most major languages.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:37 PM | Permalink

91% of law enforcement professionals in recent survey support concealed carry

Police.com has released a survey of 15,000 law enforcement professionals conducted earlier this month concerning proposed gun control legislation

86 percent feel the currently proposed legislation would have no effect or a negative effect on improving officer safety

Similarly, 92 percent feel that banning semi-automatic firearms, or “assault weapons,” would have no effect or a negative effect on reducing violent crime

Demonstrating the opinion that the best way to combat gun crime is through harsher punishment, 91 percent said the use of a firearm while perpetrating a crime should lead to a stiff, mandatory sentence with no plea bargains. Likewise, 59 percent believe increasing punishment severity for unlicensed dealers would reduce crime

Respondents were more split on background checks, with 31 percent agreeing that mental health background checks in all gun sales would help reduce mass shootings, while 45 percent disagreed

71 percent support law enforcement leaders who have publicly refused to enforce more restrictive gun laws within their jurisdictions

82 percent believe gun buyback or turn-in programs are ineffective in reducing the level of gun violence

91 percent support the concealed carry of firearms by civilians who have not been convicted of a felony and/or have not been deemed psychologically incapable

Likewise, 80 percent feel that legally-armed citizens would likely have reduced the number of casualties in recent mass shooting incidents

38 percent believe the biggest cause of gun violence in the United States is the “decline in parenting and family values”. This was trailed by “overly lax parole and short sentencing standards” at 15 percent and “pop culture influence” (e.g., violent movies and video games) at 14 percent
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:41 AM | Permalink

April 9, 2013

"Let my fiancee go"

In Faith, Fear and the Holocaust, Get Religion says  “READ THIS!!!” in the Louisville Courier-Journal.    I did and they were right.

Louisville couple recalls harrowing escape during Holocaust

As a Jew living in neutral Switzerland in October 1942, John Rothschild took the extraordinary risk of walking into an internment camp in Nazi-dominated France — unnerved but undeterred by the ominous closing of the gate behind him.

He arranged to speak to the French camp commander, part of the right-wing puppet government of France that was shipping Jews by the trainload north to death camps such as Auschwitz.

Rothschild recalls placing a package of Swiss cigars on the commander’s desk, along with the business card of a helpful local lawyer whom the commander owed a favor. As Rothschild introduced himself, the commander said, “Oh, for the Swiss I would take the moon down from the sky.”

“I told him, ‘You don’t have to do that much. Let my fiancée go,’ ” Rothschild recalled.
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The couple fell in love at 19 and are now 93 — with two children, four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren — and they are active congregation members.

“They are probably the oldest Talmud students in the world,” Adath Jeshurun Rabbi Robert Slosberg said of the couple, regular attendees of his weekly classes on the classic Jewish commentary. “They're just an amazing blessing. They never became jaded by the terrible experience they went through.”
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The Rothschilds say they still remember the relief of their first night of freedom in Geneva, when, disheveled, they drew stares as they entered a hotel lobby — and were given its best suite when the clerk learned of their ordeal.

As they closed the door to their room, Renee said, “I thanked God to be alive.”

John Rothschild said the couple owes their lives to a combination of faith, hope, luck and initiative.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:46 PM | Permalink

"Stinky Broke, and Mad” is no way to go through life"

My favorite post of the week that I cannot resist reprinting in its entirety.

Ed Driscoll, The Gray Lady is Always the Last to Know

“Hmm. Turns out Karl Marx was just as smelly and personally useless as his modern-day acolytes!”, Moe Lane quips, adding, “Hey, you want a good laugh?  Figure out when I started to chortle… at the New York Times:”
The Karl Marx depicted in Jonathan Sperber’s absorbing, meticulously researched biography will be unnervingly familiar to anyone who has had even the most fleeting acquaintance with radical politics. Here is a man never more passionate than when attacking his own side, saddled with perennial money problems and still reliant on his parents for cash, constantly plotting new, world-changing ventures yet having trouble with both deadlines and personal hygiene, living in rooms that some might call bohemian, others plain “slummy,” and who can be maddeningly inconsistent when not lapsing into elaborate flights of theory and unintelligible abstraction.
Still, it comes as a shock to realize that the ultimate leftist, the father of Communism itself, fits a recognizable pattern.
As Tim Blair quips, “Stinky Broke, and Mad” is no way to go through life, son. And yeah, that’s the guy whose ideas you want to run with, to totally upend millennia worth of mankind’s accumulated social and economic wisdom, hit the CTL-ALT-DLT keys on civilization, and completely reboot your nation. What could go wrong?

But I love the notion of someone at the Times writing that the discovery of Marx’s foibles comes as any sort of shock, when Paul Johnson’s book Intellectuals — which devotes one of its chapters to Marx’s pathetic day to day life and places him into a recognizable pattern shared by many on the left — was first published in 1989.

Related: And if that’s how little the Times knows about its own religious forefathers, imagine what else is missing in their collective knowledge of history. Or as Michael Walsh writes, “They say you tend to believe what you read in the newspaper until the story concerns something you actually know about. The Times has just proven to 1.2 billion Catholics around the world that it knows nothing about their religion. Read it on all subjects accordingly.”

With only two additions:  The first from the same Jonathan Freeland's review of "Karl Marx" by Jonathan Sperber

Besides the long, devoted marriage to Jenny, there is another love story here: the partnership with Engels, who it seems was prepared to do anything for his comrade. Engels famously subsidized Marx; perhaps less well known is that he spared his friend a scandal by claiming paternity of the child born to the Marx family servant, Lenchen Demuth: the boy was in fact Karl’s son. After the great man’s death, it was Engels who waded through Marx’s scrawled notes to assemble, and publish posthumously, the final two volumes of “Das Kapital.” Even Marx’s signature text, “The Communist Manifesto,” included a 10-point program lifted almost verbatim from an earlier Engels program. Engels was Aaron to Marx’s Moses, able to speak in public and so make up for the deficiencies of his partner, who was burdened by both a strong Rhineland accent and a lisp.

The second from Moe Lane

On one somewhat delicate matter: if you’re schtupping your family servant (…wait, what*?) and need your best friend to claim paternity of you illegitimate kid, you are pretty much by definition not in a “long, devoted marriage” with the woman that you’re cheating on.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:45 PM | Permalink

How are you going to keep them down on the farm ...

…After they've seen Paris?

Paris hires sheep to mow city lawns

That could be the case, since Paris City Hall this week installed a small flock of sheep to mow the lawn at the city's gardens, replacing gas-guzzling lawnmowers.
Four woolly ewes - shipped in from an island off the Brittany coast - are currently munching the grass surrounding Paris Archives building. The number of sites doing that could expand from October in and around Paris.

The ovine-operation follows a successful stint last year by two goats that were hired privately by the Louvre to mow the lawn at Tuileries, central Paris' grand 17th-century gardens.  Motorless and independent, the four-legged workers contentedly munch day and night - oblivious of the France's strict 35-hour work week. A similar experiment in a park outside Paris even found that sheep droppings were a benefit, bringing swallows back to the area.

"It might sound funny, but animal lawnmowers are ecological as no gasoline is required, and cost half the price of a machine," said Marcel Collet, Paris farm director. "And they're so cute."

Four little black sheep have started work as eco-friendly lawn mowers in a largely working-class district in northeastern Paris.

 Paris-4 Sheep

Between April and October, the new "park workers" will graze grounds the size of eight tennis-courts in three two-week-long sweeps in a move to promote biodiversity and make the upkeep of the capital's green areas more sustainable - replacing both chemicals and lawn mowers.  When out of work, they will be resting back at a farm on the outskirts of Paris.

"For a lawn mowed 24 times a year, there is no biodiversity. When you use animals, the droppings attract insects and the insects bring birds," said Eco Terra president Alain Divo whose company plans and organises eco-pasture projects in French urban areas.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:28 PM | Permalink

Machiavellian parenting

At the end of her rope with four young kids, a mother turns to an unlikely adviser—and learns how hardheaded rule can secure stability and happiness in the home.

 Niccolo Machiavelli  How Machiavelli Saved My Family

Machiavelli never wrote the infamous phrase often associated with him: "the ends justify the means." His methods weren't about acquiring power for its own sake. He saw power as a tool for securing the safety and stability of the state. He wanted to show princes how to ensure the happiness and well-being of their subjects.

A stable and safe home? Full of happy and prosperous subjects? It sounded like a worthy goal, not just for a prince but for a parent too. Maybe I could use Machiavelli's rules to help me reclaim my own kingdom.i

Being permissive and nice hadn't worked with my children. Begging, bartering, harassing and even politely asking hadn't worked either. But perhaps a pragmatic, tough-minded Machiavellian strategy would.

Seems to have worked pretty well for her. 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:12 PM | Permalink

Perpetuating America's Ruling Class

Ross Douthat stirred up a hornet's nest when he revealed The Secrets of Princeton and how our elites continue to perpetuate their status and all the privileges and perks that result from being 'the best and the brightest.'

SUSAN PATTON, the Princeton alumna who became famous for her letter urging Ivy League women to use their college years to find a mate, has been denounced as a traitor to feminism, to coeducation, to the university ideal. But really she’s something much more interesting: a traitor to her class.

Her betrayal consists of being gauche enough to acknowledge publicly a truth that everyone who’s come up through Ivy League culture knows intuitively — that elite universities are about connecting more than learning, that the social world matters far more than the classroom to undergraduates, and that rather than an escalator elevating the best and brightest from every walk of life, the meritocracy as we know it mostly works to perpetuate the existing upper class.

Every elite seeks its own perpetuation, of course, but that project is uniquely difficult in a society that’s formally democratic and egalitarian and colorblind. And it’s even more difficult for an elite that prides itself on its progressive politics, its social conscience, its enlightened distance from hierarchies of blood and birth and breeding.

Thus the importance, in the modern meritocratic culture, of the unacknowledged mechanisms that preserve privilege, reward the inside game, and ensure that the advantages enjoyed in one generation can be passed safely onward to the next.

The intermarriage of elite collegians is only one of these mechanisms — but it’s an enormously important one. The outraged reaction to her comments notwithstanding, Patton wasn’t telling Princetonians anything they didn’t already understand. Of course Ivy League schools double as dating services. Of course members of elites — yes, gender egalitarians, the males as well as the females — have strong incentives to marry one another, or at the very least find a spouse from within the wider meritocratic circle. What better way to double down on our pre-existing advantages? What better way to minimize, in our descendants, the chances of the dread phenomenon known as “regression to the mean”?

That this “assortative mating,” in which the best-educated Americans increasingly marry one another, also ends up perpetuating existing inequalities seems blindingly obvious, which is no doubt why it’s considered embarrassing and reactionary to talk about it too overtly.

Walter Russell Mead  Elites Close Ranks Around Ivy League Intermarriage

The first rule of the meritocratic elite is: you don’t talk about the meritocratic elite.

Today’s blue meritocracy, the degenerate descendant of the upper middle class Progressives of the early 20th century, has a problem: it is formally committed to ideas like equality, social justice and an open society, but what it really wants to do is to protect its own power and privilege. The Ivy League system of elite colleges is a key element in the system of exclusion and privilege that helps perpetuate both the power of the American elite and its comforting delusion that because elite status is based on ‘merit’ it is therefore legitimate.

At Via Meadia, we strongly believe that this elite needs its wings clipped and that America needs to become a more open society with more power at the grass roots and less concentrated among a small group of smug narcissists from the “right” schools with the “right” ideas. We think some kind of “national bac”, a set of exams that could allow students from all over the country to compete on the basis of what they actually know as opposed to which admissions officers they were able to impress at age 17, would help reduce the Ivy League bias that is poisoning American society. The kid who goes to Princeton and “networks” for four years sucking up to famous professors and polishing the “right ideas” and making the “right” friends currently has an almost infinite advantage over the poor schmuck who goes to Ohio State and studies hard; there ought to be a way that the Princeton kid can be exposed as an empty polo shirt and the Ohio State kid get recognized as a serious person.
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Our elite is broken and our system of recruiting and training elites is broken. If something doesn’t change, the ruin will spread..

As a graduate of an Ivy League college with many friends also Ivy League grads, I can personally testify to the appalling sense of privilege many have and the disdain they have for other Americans. 

No one has better decoded our elites than Angelo Codevilla in his  brilliant 2010 essay entitled America's Ruling Class- - - And the Perils of Revolution , 

Never has there been so little diversity within America’s upper crust…..Today’s ruling class, from Boston to San Diego, was formed by an educational system that exposed them to the same ideas and gave them remarkably uniform guidance, as well as tastes and habits. These amount to a social canon of judgments about good and evil, complete with secular sacred history, sins (against minorities and the environment), and saints. Using the right words and avoiding the wrong ones when referring to such matters — speaking the “in” language — serves as a badge of identity. Regardless of what business or profession they are in, their road up included government channels and government money because, as government has grown, its boundary with the rest of American life has become indistinct.

Its attitude is key to understanding our bipartisan ruling class. Its first tenet is that “we” are the best and brightest while the rest of Americans are retrograde, racist, and dysfunctional unless properly constrained. How did this replace the Founding generation’s paradigm that “all men are created equal”?

Our ruling class’s agenda is power for itself. While it stakes its claim through intellectual-moral pretense, it holds power by one of the oldest and most prosaic of means: patronage and promises thereof. .Our ruling class’s standard approach to any and all matters, its solution to any and all problems, is to increase the power of the government — meaning of those who run it, meaning themselves, to profit those who pay with political support for privileged jobs, contracts, etc. Hence more power for the ruling class has been our ruling class’s solution not just for economic downturns and social ills but also for hurricanes and tornadoes, global cooling and global warming.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:38 AM | Permalink

April 8, 2013

U.S. Army labels Catholics, Orthodox Jews and Evangelicals as Religious Extremists

You've probably seen this, but it's so idiotic, I had to make note of it.

 Army-Religious Extremism

US Army Labeled Evangelicals, Catholics as Examples of Religious Extremism,"

The U.S. Army listed Evangelical Christianity and Catholicism as examples of religious extremism along with Al Qaeda and Hamas during a briefing with an Army Reserve unit based in Pennsylvania, Fox News has learned.

The incident occurred during an Army Reserve Equal Opportunity training brief on extremism. Topping the list is Evangelical Christianity. Other organizations listed included Catholicism, Al Qaeda, Hamas, the Ku Klux Klan, Sunni Muslims, and Nation of Islam.

The military also listed “Islamophobia” as a form of religious extremism.

Mark Steyn points out in Don’t Fire Until You See The Whites of Their Cassocks

Think of the number of people involved in the creation, printing and distribution of this graphic — and along the way not one of them stopped to say, “Hey, this is totally dumb.”
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When Major Hasan got a case of Pre-Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and opened fire at Fort Hood standing on a table yelling “Allahu Akbar!”, it was just the luck of the draw: He could have been shouting the Angelus. Best to prepare for all eventualities.

The Daily Mail reports Army Reserve training material lists Catholics, evangelical Christians and some Jews in 'religious extremism' category along with the KKK, Hamas and Al Qaeda

The presentation also warned that members of the military are prohibited from taking leadership roles in any organization the Pentagon considers 'extremist,' and from distributing the organization's literature, whether on or off a military installation.
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Citing a Southern Poverty Law Center report as evidence that extremism is on the rise, the Army Reserve presentation blames 'the superheated fears generated by economic dislocation, a proliferation of demonizing conspiracy theories,the changing racial make-up of America and the prospect of 4 more years under a black president who many on the far right view as an enemy to their country.'

Good grief.  It is very scary that the Pentagon is basing these scurrilous charges on 'information' provided by Maurice Dees.

The Southern Poverty Law Center and its President Maurice Dees are notoriously anti-Christian  hate-mongerers,  challenged by  the left and the right,  as Charlotte Allen points out this week in "The King of Fearmongers."  (via Ed Driscoll)    Fearmongering has proved to be extremely lucrative for Dees and the SPLC.

Thanks to the generosity of four decades’ worth of donors, many of whom—as SPLC president Richard Cohen himself noted in a telephone interview with me—are aging Northern-state “1960s liberals” who continue to associate “Southern” and “poverty” with lynchings, white-hooded Klansmen, and sitting at the back of the bus, and thanks also to what can only be described as the sheer genius at direct-mail marketing of Dees, the SPLC’s 76-year-old lawyer-founder, who was already a multimillionaire by the late 1960s from the direct-mail sales of everything from doormats to cookbooks, the SPLC is probably the richest poverty organization in the history of the world. From its very beginning the SPLC, thanks to Dees’s talent for crafting multi-page alarmist fundraising letters, has not only continuously operated in the black, but has steadily accumulated a mountain of surpluses augmented by a shrewdly managed investment portfolio. Today the SPLC’s net assets total more than $256 million (that figure appears on the SPLC’s 2011 tax return, the latest posted on the organization’s website)
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Its severest critics aren’t on the conservative right … but on the progressive left. … . that one of the most vituperative of all the critics was the recently deceased Alexander Cockburn, columnist for the Nation and the leftist webzine CounterPunch. In a 2009 article for CounterPunch titled “King of the Hate Business,” Cockburn castigated Dees and the SPLC for using the 2008 election of Barack Obama as America’s first black president as yet another wringer for squeezing out direct-mail donations from “trembling liberals” by painting an apocalyptic picture of “millions of [anti-Obama] extremists primed to march down Main Street draped in Klan robes, a copy of Mein Kampf tucked under one arm and a Bible under the other.” Cockburn continued: “Ever since 1971 U.S. Postal Service mailbags have bulged with Dees’ fundraising letters, scaring dollars out of the pockets of trembling liberals aghast at his lurid depictions of hate-sodden America, in dire need of legal confrontation by the SPLC.”
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What has infuriated the SPLC’s liberal critics is their suspicion that Morris Dees has used the SPLC primarily as a fundraising machine fueled by his direct-mail talents that generates a nice living for himself (the SPLC’s 2010 tax filing lists a compensation package of $345,000 for him as the organization’s chief trial counsel and highest-paid employee) and a handful of other high ranking SPLC officials plus luxurious offices and perks, but that does relatively little in the way of providing the legal services to poor people that its name implies.
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One of the SPLC’s leitmotifs is that there is an ever-spiraling amount of hate in America.
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there may soon come a day when the SPLC’s donation-generating machine, powered by Dees’s mastery of the use of “hate” to coax dollars from the highly educated and the highly gullible, finally breaks down. That is why, according to Cohen, the SPLC has no intention of soon spending down much of that $256 million in stockpiled assets that has earned the center an “F” rating from CharityWatch. “We’ve tried to raise a substantial endowment, because our fundraising is on a downward trend,” Cohen told me. “Those 1960s liberals—they’re getting older, and the post office is dying. We’re likely to be out of the fundraising business within 10 years.” What the SPLC wants to do is to ensure that “hate” is forever.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:42 PM | Permalink

“I am officially Very Poorly”

Libby Banks Iain Banks shows it’s better to accept the facts of death
Kicking away the cobwebs of terror and denial about one's mortality is not the same as 'giving up’

Iain Banks has written startlingly dark, intelligent novels – most notably The Wasp Factory – but tells the world that the new one will be the last. He announces his coming death with characteristic humour but without darkness, only frank resignation: “I am officially Very Poorly.”

He has gall bladder cancer and counts his remaining life in months. He asked his partner, Adele Hartley, “to do me the honour of becoming my widow”, apologising for the “ghoulish humour”. All public appearances are cancelled in favour of seeing friends and relatives. He has gone on honeymoon and reports via a friend that he is in Italy “enjoying life to the max”.

There is an admirable breezy gallantry and good example about the way in which public people have begun to take back ownership of their own mortality, kicking away the cobwebs of terror and denial and dispelling the sickly, deceptive miasma of false hope. It is not the same as ''giving up” or refusing to “fight” (terminal cancer patients get really sick of that language, with its implication that if they were a bit more positive they’d get better). There is a time to fight and hope for life, but when modern medicine, despite its bias in favour of prolonging life at all costs, admits that it can do no more, acceptance is healthy. Use the time, smell the roses, speak your love.
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Accepting this, in the long or the short term, is the ultimate test of adulthood.
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Down the ages, wise men have looked on skulls and coffins and come to a peaceful, if unwilling, acceptance that we’ll all be dust one day. And that it could be soon.
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But accepting death, whether it comes soon or late, does not have to involve sickbed detail, any more than it has to be morbid or suicidal. It’s just a fact, and in an age of delusion and comfortable fantasy, accepting facts does us nothing but good.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:24 AM | Permalink

"What are the most important lessons you have learned over your life?”

In the Harvard Gazette,  Karl Pillemer of Cornell University offers Lessons from the long-lived

Pillemer is a gerontologist who had a revelation when he realized his research was “entirely focused on older people as problems.”

But Pillemer, who is also a professor of human development at Cornell University, remembered that his job also engages him with “vibrant, engaged, healthy, exciting, and active older people.”

The paradox intrigued him, as did the countless surveys conducted over the past 10 years revealing that the elderly tend to be significantly happier than people decades younger. That knowledge, combined with what he called a “disturbing sense that we lost an age-old and time-honored activity of not just asking older people for stories, but asking for their actual advice for living,” led him to create the Legacy Project, a study of almost 1,500 people, ranging from their 70s to over 100, who shared their wisdom about life. His work resulted in the 2011 book “30 Lessons for Living: Tried and True Advice from the Wisest Americans.”

Karl Pillemer's research began with a simple question: "What are the most important lessons you have learned over your life?”

His insights neatly summarized at Business Insider

1) Remember that life is short.
...One unanimous refrain included just three simple words: Life is short.

2) For career? Do what you enjoy.
…...“Based on this extremely acute awareness of the shortness of life, everybody argued you should find work you love; work ought to be chosen for its intrinsic value, and for its sense of enjoyment, sense of purpose. And life was much too short to spend doing something you don’t like, even for a few years.”

3) Healthy living?Treat your body like you’re going to need it for 100 years.” …..…The elderly, he added, understand that modern medical technology means people with unhealthy lifestyles are “sentencing themselves to 20 or 30 or 40 years of chronic illness.”

4) Biggest regret? Pointless worrying.
Similarly, respondents surprised Pillemer when he asked them to name their biggest regrets. Instead of listing concerns like affairs, addictions, or shady business dealings, almost unanimously they answered: “I wish I had not spent so much time worrying.”

5) Happiness? Don’t make your happiness contingent. Be happy in spite of bad times.
Younger people tend to be happy ‘if only’. … Their view from later life is that this has to morph into being happy in spite of things.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:20 AM | Permalink

April 7, 2013

Education Roundup

Shocker POLITICALLY CORRECT CURRICULUM IS BAD FOR STUDENTS:  Just ask Texas, most of which has been using the PC curriculum called CSCOPE for about 8 years:

The percentages of students scoring “unsatisfactory” on the new State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness/End-Of-Course tests illustrate the problem.

For Algebra 1 students, 13.74 percent in non-CSCOPE schools scored unsatisfactorily; for students in CSCOPE schools, it was 20.35 percent.
For Biology 1, those who ranked unsatisfactory in non-CSCOPE schools totaled 10.5 percent; for CSCOPE schools it was 14.86 percent.

For English Writing 1, the figures were 39. 48 percent for non-CSCOPE schools, and 46.3 percent for CSCOPE schools.
For geography, 17.78 percent of students in non-CSCOPE schools were unsatisfactory and 23.30 percent of those in CSCOPE schools.

Monitoring our kids’ early curriculum is critically important.  Failure to do this vigorously is one reason why so many bright young people don’t have a clue about American history and our Constitution.  If they don’t get this information in elementary and high school, it will be far, far too late by the time they get to college or graduate school, which are taught overwhelmingly by liberal/progressive professors, many of whom have an overt political agenda or affiliation.

In Atlanta, federal prosecutors indicted 35 “educators” for a conspiracy to cheat standardized test scores in public schools to cover up their failure to actually educate with video from CBS News.

And it seems there's Another public-school cheating scandal in Philly.  Two principals confessed to similar cheating, resigned and get to keep their pensions.

All of which calls to mind this quote from George Will writing about how Schools push a curriculum of propaganda.

Twenty-five years ago, President Reagan, paraphrasing Education Secretary William Bennett, said: “If you serve a child a rotten hamburger in America, federal, state and local agencies will investigate you, summon you, close you down, whatever. But if you provide a child with a rotten education, nothing happens, except that you’re liable to be given more money to do it with.”

Daren Jonescu,  "the grip of authoritarian pre-education camps we call "public schools."

The Jesuits said "give me the child for seven years, and I will give you the man."  Lenin boasted that he needed only the first four years to mould a child to the unshakable form that communism required.  It is no accident that John Dewey was primarily focused on early childhood education as early as the 1880s.  Or that Bill Ayers is today.  Yes, public education continues to deteriorate.  But that is the point: the deterioration is a continuation of something begun generations ago.  None of us who have been through any version of public schooling should fool ourselves about what this means, including and especially for our own souls.  This is no time for foolish pride; it is time for righteous anger, and the will to put a stop to more than a century of forced intellectual and moral decline.
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Universal public education is modernity's monster, the fatal mistake of a prosperous civilization imagining that it can take over where freed human nature left off, and even outdo freedom and nature, by mass producing, through government micromanagement, the kind of men who make liberty and civil society possible.

Anthony Esolen on The Vampire School that drains the life out of learning, producing dull workers for the Vampire State.

“Yet it appears to me as a schoolteacher that schools are already a major cause of weak families and weak communities.  They separate parents and children from vital interaction with each other and from true curiosity about each other’s lives.  Schools stifle family originality by appropriating the critical time needed for any sound idea of family to develop—then they blame the family for its failure to be a family.”  (John Taylor Gatto, Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling)

One day it struck John Taylor Gatto, Teacher of the Year for New York State in 1991 (and therefore, inevitably, disliked by his administrators), that our schools were not failing.  Rather, they were succeeding fabulously at what they were constructed to do: to produce dull and compliant workers in a technocratic economy. School, he argued, instills in us a perpetual childish neediness.  We need to toady for grades, because we need to get into the “best” schools, because we need to have a prestigious and well-remunerated job, because we need to buy a lot of stuff to pretend to fill the emptiness of our lives.  Among that stuff will be the odd child or two, who will also need to toady for grades, to get into the “best” schools, and so on, world without end, Amen.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:32 AM | Permalink

April 5, 2013

Chewing gum and brain power

 Chewinggum  How chewing gum can boost your brain power

Most of us don’t think twice about it, but chewing — mastication — has implications for our health.
The way we chew, for instance, can alter our digestion, teeth and even our face shape. And new research suggests how often we chew could even affect our brain power.

Read to learn what scientists and medics know about chewing and chewing gum.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:23 PM | Permalink

Seniors Communing with Nature

Surreal Photos of Seniors Communing with Nature

Artists Karoline Hjorth and Riitta Ikonen have been collaborating on a multimedia project that started in Norway. Website iGNANT introduced us to Eyes as Big as Plates, a photo series featuring seniors (including a few 90-year old parachuters) immersed in the landscape as a play on characters from Norwegian folklore. Organic costumes and headdresses were created with scavenged materials — a poignant suggestion that each subject has embraced their eventual return to the earth.
 Hjorth+Ikonen Eyes11         -Eyes8-Hjorth-And-Ikonen

 Eyes21- Hjorth-And-Ikonen

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:38 AM | Permalink

April 4, 2013

Wisdom, Prudence and Human Flourishing

The English writers  Orwell and Huxley describe two types of enslavement, external and internal  In U.S. we are more Brave New World than 1984 though we have elements of both.

Hunger Games and Dystopia

George Orwell and Aldous Huxley, as has often been pointed out, imagined two very different dystopias. In 1984, written just after the Second World War, Orwell depicts the forces that held people captive as fundamentally external: coercion, espionage, laws, constraints, threats, lies, the state.  By contrast, Huxley’s Brave New World, published just after the Wall Street crash had turned the excess of the twenties into the Great Depression of the thirties, portrays a future in which people are enslaved to forces within themselves: desire, inanity, hedonism, egotism, fatuity. For all the similarities between the two books, it is this difference that is the most striking.
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The greatest threat to human flourishing is the lack of wisdom, phronesis, or virtue. Whereas moderns understand freedom in terms of unconstrained individual choices, many ancients regarded the forces underlying individual choices—passions and desires which might in turn be foolish, selfish, or carnal, much like those depicted in Brave New World—as something from which people needed to be freed.
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The essence of eleutheria, in the vision of writers from Aristotle to St. Paul, was being free to become what one was originally designed to be, rather than simply being free to make decisions (decisions which, of course, might stunt one’s progress towards ultimate fulfillment). Thus humans could be enslaved, not just to the other, but to the self. One needs redemption from the flesh as much as from the powers. Under such a vision of liberty, modern Westerners might not be as free as we would like to think.

Eleutheria is the Greek term for liberty. Eunoia, in addition to being the shortest English word containing all five vowels, comes from Greek meaning "well mind" or "beautiful thinking" and is a rarely used medical term referring to a state of normal mental health.

Phronesis is the Greek word is most often translated as "practical wisdom" or prudence.  Sophia is the other Greek word for wisdom sometimes translated as "theoretical wisdom".  Young people can acquire sophia in their respective fields, but, as Aristotle pointed out, maturation is required for  phronesia or prudence.  Young people do not as yet as have the life experience of sufficient particular experiences that's necessary for prudence.    This was clearly evident to Cicero who said:

"Rashness belongs to youth; prudence to old age," 
"Prudence is the knowledge of things to be sought, and those to be shunned."
"Precaution is better than cure"

One of the seven virtues, prudence is often misunderstood by young people as Kathryn Britton points out In Praise of Prudence from Positive Psychology News.

Generally speaking, adolescents understood them quite well, but I remember they had a tendency to confuse Humility with humiliation and Prudence with prudes. According the authors, “It seems that for most students, caution/prudence is a stuffy trait associated with timidity and lack of adventurousness.”

No wonder that "“The least prevalent character strengths in human beings are prudence, modesty, and self-regulation.”

Britton continues:

Psychologist Vincent Jeffries defines prudence as, “the use of reason to correctly discern that which helps and that which hinders realizing the good.” Think about all that entails: being able to project today’s actions into the future, to imagine the possible outcomes, and to form judgments about alternatives. I expect a person with the character strength prudence must have a high tolerance for ambiguity, needing to deal with incomplete and often conflicting information in order to make judgments.

As the expert contributor to the Prudence chapter in Character Strengths and Virtues, Nick Haslam identifies the following qualities of prudence:
A foresighted stance toward the future, holding long-term goals and aspirations

Ability to resist self-defeating impulses and to persist in beneficial activities, even if they lack immediate appeal (Grit anyone?)

• Reflective, deliberate, and practical thinking about life choices

• Ability to harmonize multiple goals into a “stable, coherent, and un-conflicted form of life.

• Ability to seek personal good without being collectively destructive.

In positive psychology, flourishing is “to live within an optimal range of human functioning, one that connotes goodness, generativity, growth, and resilience.”
Flourishing is the opposite of both pathology and languishing, which are described as living a life that feels both hollow and empty.
Flourishing is a positive psychology concept which is a measure of overall life well-being and is viewed as important to the idea of happiness

A pioneer in positive psychology, Corey Keyes describes flourishing thusly:

flourishing is the epitome of mentally healthy adults having high levels of emotional well-being; they are happy and satisfied; they tend to see their lives as having a purpose; they feel some degree of mastery and accept all parts of themselves; they have a sense of personal growth in the sense that they are always growing, evolving, and changing; finally, they have a sense of autonomy and an internal locus of control, they chose their fate in life instead of being victims of fate.

Keyes reports that only 18.1% of Americans are actually flourishing. The majority of Americans can be classified as mentally unhealthy (depressed) or not mentally unhealthy or flourishing (moderately mentally healthy/languishing).

He is quoted as saying,

"We are living longer — on average 30 years longer than at the start of the 20th century — yet we are not living healthier. The question is: Are we just living dependent and sick, or are we living healthy and able to contribute?"

"I think we set up an impossible task, because our hedonistic version of happiness is impossible to sustain. But it is quite possible to feel fulfilled and content and that the world is meaningful by aligning yourself with some ideals, something that is bigger and better than you, and trying to live up to it."

For a flourishing life, one that is well-lived, we do well to cultivate the virtue of prudence.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:02 PM | Permalink

April 3, 2013

The artist who draws himself into the picture

That's one way to draw attention to yourself: Artist who takes self-portraits and sketches himself into the pictures

At some stage, most artists struggle to find a captivating subject matter.  But when Sebastien Del Grosso, 32,  looked in the mirror, inspiration was staring straight back at him.
After taking a self-portrait, the digital artist began to sketch himself into the picture.

 Sebastien Del Grosso Self-Portrait

The best use I've seen of photoshop in a while.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:53 PM | Permalink

April 2, 2013

Some Interesting Long Reads for the Weekend

In the London Telegraph, From bus driver to 'King Bazza', the Chepstow man revered as monarch in Indian village

After a varied career as a teacher, a bus driver, and a self-confessed “public school idiot”, the last thing Barry Watson expected was to ascend to royalty. But in a tiny Indian village, he is revered as a king.

Laboratory chimpanzees see sky for first time

Footage of laboratory-raised chimpanzees venturing outside for the first time has emerged, showing the primates in amazement at their new surroundings.

A Poet at the French Laundry  Jeff Gordinier looks at his relationship with food.

In the Atlantic A Brief History of Applause that Megan Garbermar calls the 'Big Data' of the Ancient World

In the National Geographic, We Didn’t Domesticate Dogs. They Domesticated Us.  Scientists argue that friendly wolves sought out humans.

In Psychology Today, The Power of Touch  Touch is the first sense we acquire and the secret weapon in many a successful relationship.

A Leap of Faith From Russia, a Flying Church and Parachuting Priests

In the Atlantic The Modern Female Eunuch    Historically, low levels of testosterone seemed to make eunuchs ideal negotiators. Their highly specialized and respected roles are now being filled by women.

Is Giving the Secret to Getting Ahead? New York Times Magazine

Why the Germans are far-sighted, Italians impatient and French depressive - according to studies

Germans are serious, Italians are hot-headed and the French are inexplicably miserable, economists have suggested.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:43 PM | Permalink

"What's wrong with wanting to be happy sooner?"

Hard-core feminists are on the decline, even on the run and not soon enough for me.  I'm tired of the scolds and their plan for how women and men should live their lives.  I'm sick of the way so many will insult and denigrate women who refuse to follow the feminist orthodoxy.  The women in revolt against a toxic, sexualized culture who don't want to be 'empowered sexually' but value modesty and chastity in themselves and others.  The women who want to get married and have children and sacrifice for their welfare.  The women who don't want to juggle a high-paced career anymore, but want to stay home with their young children.    The women who don't see a successful career as the be-all and end-all of life.  The women who don't believe that sexual differences are culturally determined, but are inherent in biology, even in the wiring of the brain.  The women who love men, want them to flourish and glory in the difference between the sexes. 

Of course, I'm happy that women who want to have successful careers can do so.    But overall, the advice feminists give young women is bad advice.  Too many young women do not know just how important love and family is to a 'successful' , fulfilling, well-lived life.  That sleeping around for a decade or two does serious psychological damage and impairs a woman's ability to give and receive love.  That their choice of  a mate is the most important decision they will ever make and that it's much better to marry and have children earlier than later.  That having a child outside of marriage just because you want one is far too often detrimental to the child and to the greater society.

Just a couple of weeks ago, New York magazine ran a piece by Lisa Miller called The Retro Wife  that attracted an enormous amount of attention because it signaled a major shift in the way people speak about feminism.  They are talking like reasonable adults and questioning feminist dogma.

Feminism has fizzled, its promise only half-fulfilled.
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The revolution that Friedan helped to spark both liberated women and allowed countless numbers of them to experience financial pressure and the profound dissatisfactions of the workaday grind. More women than ever earn some or all of the money their family lives on. But today, in the tumultuous 21st-century economy, depending on a career as a path to self-actualization can seem like a sucker’s bet.
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Now Kelly is 33, and if dreams were winds, you might say that hers have shifted. She believes that every household needs one primary caretaker, that women are, broadly speaking, better at that job than men, and that no amount of professional success could possibly console her if she felt her two young children—­Connor, 5, and Lillie, 4—were not being looked after the right way. The maternal instinct is a real thing, Kelly argues: Girls play with dolls from childhood, so “women are raised from the get-go to raise children successfully. When we are moms, we have a better toolbox.” Women, she believes, are conditioned to be more patient with children, to be better multitaskers, to be more tolerant of the quotidian grind of playdates and temper tantrums; “women,” she says, “keep it together better than guys do.”

Even The New Republic has  Sympathy for the Stay-at-Home Mom: It's about work hours

To reject a high-flying career, as this man did and so many women have done, is not to reject aspiration; it is to refuse to succumb to a kind of madness.

Christina Hoff Sommers in the Atlantic asks in  What 'Lean In' Misunderstands About Gender Differences

What if difference between men and women turns out to be a phenomenon not of oppression, but rather of social well-being?

Dr. Janice Fiamengo (an English professor at the University of Ottawa and former radical feminist) denounced women’s studies and said “The women’s studies crowd looked constipated”

She referenced the male to female death ratio on the Titanic, and declared that “self sacrifice and heroism are not exclusive to men,” “but they are distinctive to men.” Students scowled behind their wayfarers. She railed against affirmative action, a family court system skewed unjustly to favor mothers over fathers, and the deep vein of anti-Western sentiment running through academic feminism that makes it okay to decry gender inequality in the West, and keep quiet about vaginal mutilation and honor killings in the East.

James Taranto  wrote a couple of weeks ago,

Feminism was in part a failure of wit. It mistook fiction for reality and thought men really were dominant. Now, increasingly, men are redundant, women are overburdened, and what pass for families are producing fewer and worse-developed children. It's gotten so bad that even the New York Times and Third Way are beginning to notice. Alas, the situation probably will have to get worse still before it can get better.

He was referring to the NYT article, Study of Men's Falling Income Cites Single Parents  reporting on a new Third Way study

A new gender gap has emerged--one where girls and young women outperform boys and young men in both education and key aspects of the workforce. This gap could be as much about social family structure as it is about economic forces like the demise of labor unions, globalization, and rapid changes in technology. Authors David Autor and Melanie Wasserman make the case that the decline in male achievement is almost exclusively reserved for males born into single-parent households; while females in single-parent households do OK, boys seem to suffer.

The latest reasonable adult to speak out is Susan Patton, the "feminist pioneer that today's feminists hate".  James Taranto writes  Susan Patton Told the Truth 

In 1973 she was admitted to Princeton University as part of only the fifth coeducational class in the school's history. It took some bravery for the young Miss Patton to go to Princeton, for she was not a legacy and was anything but a daughter of privilege. As she explained in a 2006 article for Princeton Alumni Weekly, her mother was a survivor of Auschwitz, a German death camp in Poland; her father, of Bergen-Belsen, a concentration camp in Germany. After the war they settled in the Bronx.

On Friday this feminist pioneer found herself transformed into a feminist hate object after the Daily Princetonian student newspaper published her letter to the editor. The paper's website has been overwhelmed by traffic, so with Patton's permission we're reprinting the letter in full:
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Here's what nobody is telling you: Find a husband on campus before you graduate. Yes, I went there.
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Smart women can't (shouldn't) marry men who aren't at least their intellectual equal. As Princeton women, we have almost priced ourselves out of the market. Simply put, there is a very limited population of men who are as smart or smarter than we are. And I say again--you will never again be surrounded by this concentration of men who are worthy of you.

Stuart Schneiderman writes Susan Patton Threatens the Hookup Culture

Her advice went viral. True believing feminists were horrified. They threw themselves into such high dudgeon that you thought they had seen a witch.  If you had ever been tempted to believe that contemporary feminism is about giving women the freedom to choose the way they conduct their lives, this episode will hopefully cure you.

If demonstration were needed, the Patton kerfuffle shows unmistakably that feminism wants to dictate the way women live their lives. In less flattering terms, they want to own young women’s lives.  Feminists are happy to allow young women to participate in all manner of self-destructive behavior as long as they do not commit  the greatest crime against the feminism. That would be: marrying young.

Patton addressed herself to the daughters she never had and told them that their years at Princeton were a golden opportunity to snag a great husband. To her mind, Princeton men were great husband material. Nearly all of them are available.  A bright and nubile young coed should take advantage of the fact that the younger she is the more choice she will have. Thus,  the younger she is the more power she has in the dating marketplace.    Suggesting that as women age the pool of eligible men shrinks, Patton recommends that these women make Princeton a happy husband hunting ground.

Even the Boston Globe has this Princeton Alum Susan Patton Might Be Crazy, But Her Advice Isn't -

Why are we so reluctant to admit that it is hard to find eligible men (and women?) to marry? Why are people afraid to admit that, OK, the world of dating is sometimes thrilling and fun … but quite often, horrible and lonely? What's wrong with wanting to meet someone in college, presumably someone with whom you have shared experiences and stuff in common, and opt out of dealing with the crappy dates, the mystery texts, and the questioning looks from Auntie Mildred at the Thanksgiving table? And more to the point: What's wrong with wanting to be happy, sooner? -
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Sometimes you really do have to be strategic in the hunt. That isn't retro; it's calculating, practical, maybe protective


Jane Austen knew that.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:42 PM | Permalink

What Kelly thought of 'Cool'

Remembering Michael Kelly   A columnist who hated phonies, stood for truth, and died for his beliefs.

Take his view of Frank Sinatra. Everyone loved Old Blue Eyes and mourned him when he died in 1998. Everyone except Michael Kelly.

Kelly hated Frank because Frank had invented Cool, and Cool had replaced Smart. What was Smart? It was Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca: "He possesses an outward cynicism, but at his core he is a square. . . . He is willing to die for his beliefs, and his beliefs are, although he takes pains to hide it, old-fashioned. He believes in truth, justice, the American way, and love. . . . When there is a war, he goes to it. . . . He may be world weary, but he is not ironic."

Cool was something else. "Cool said the old values were for suckers. . . . Cool didn't go to war; Saps went to war, and anyway, cool had no beliefs he was willing to die for. Cool never, ever, got in a fight it might lose; cool had friends who could take care of that sort of thing."

It never, ever would have occurred to me to make the distinction until I read Kelly's column. And then I understood Sinatra. And then I understood Kelly, too.

I still miss him.  He was a real journalist and a good man 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:09 PM | Permalink

The culturally ignorant New York Times

The ignorance of this reporter and the editors at the New York Times is so unlearned and uninformed as to seem deliberate. 

Elisabetta Povoledo wrote from Vatican City about Pope Francis's First Easter Message in this article  Calling for Peace in All the World.    This Rome-based reporter is completely clueless about Christianity.  She didn't know what Easter was about!

The very next day the article had to be revised to reflect this correction .  This is not an April Fool's joke.

Correction: April 1, 2013

An earlier version of this article mischaracterized the Christian holiday of Easter. It is the celebration of Jesus’s resurrection from the dead, not his resurrection into heaven.

The correction itself is woefully wrong.  Who has ever talked about resurrection into heaven?  No one.  Ever.  Forty days after his resurrection was the Ascension event when  Jesus ascended into heaven.  This is a basic tenet of the Christian faith which tens of millions Americans believe along with 1.2 billion in the world at large.  It's not as if this were a new-fangled tenet of some small cult,  it's been adhered to for 2000 years.  The paper of record can't get the most basic facts straight.

From the comments.

Like the reporter on NPR Saturday giving a report from middle east who was at "the place where Jesus is buried"
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It does suggest, though, that the writer was confusing two events. That the writer didn't know better, the copy-editor didn't know better, and neither of them was professional enough to check facts outside of their own knowledge, is pretty amazing. My COLLEGE newspaper would have never let that get into print.
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Sort of like reporting a football running back ran the entire 25 meters of the field to score a home run.

This NY Times Easter correction is a doozie

for our readers from the New York Times, here’s a link to the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed. These confessional creeds explain the basics of Christianity and can be a useful resource for people covering Christians.

The pilgrims didn't arrive at Plymouth Rock in a Plymouth #NYTimesCorrections

Mark Steyn has the last word

Where I think Michael understates the case is when he says that it reveals the Times as know-nothings to 1.2 billion Catholics. Leaving aside the massed ranks of Anglicans, Methodists et al, it exposes the Times to believers and non-believers alike as culturally ignorant. The Bible underpins a big chunk of western art, music, and literature, and not to know its basic concepts is to condemn yourself to bobbing around in the shallows.
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Judging from leftie reaction to the “correction”, to the hyper-secularists, ignorance of the peripheral tenets of a minor cult is a badge of honor. In reality, America’s supposed “newspaper of record” has just announced itself to the world as civilizationally illiterate.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:02 PM | Permalink