November 26, 2013

The Train Wreck continues

Yet, more on the continuing disaster of  Obamacare

You can keep your health plan

Almost 80 million with employer health care plans could have coverage canceled, experts predict

Their losses would be in addition to the millions who found their individual coverage cancelled for the same reason.

Stan Veuger of the American Enterprise Institute said that in addition to the individual cancellations, "at least half the people on employer plans would by 2014 start losing plans as well." There are approximately 157 million employer health care policy holders.
According to projections the administration itself issued back in July 2010, it was clear officials knew the impact of ObamaCare three years ago.  In fact, according to the Federal Register, its mid-range estimate was that by the end of 2014, 76 percent of small group plans would be cancelled, along with 55 percent of large employer plans.

You can keep your doctor.   

Washington Post  “Health Insurers Limit Choices to Keep Costs Down,”    Narrower networks under Obamacare.

People who say they have already lost their doctors under Obamacare

Average insurance costs would drop $2500/year.

Health Premiums Up $3,065; Obama Vowed $2,500 Cut

The new line is that the health-care law will save money. That's also not true.

According to health-care actuaries at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, health-care spending will begin spiraling upward again starting next year, as the Affordable Care Act takes full effect. It will reach $5 trillion in 2022, or 20% of GDP, or $14,664 per capita. By 2022, ObamaCare alone is projected to increase cumulative health spending by roughly $621 billion, according to CMS.
CMS actuaries find that any positive effects of the ObamaCare delivery system experiments on the cost of health care "remain highly speculative." When they compare their September 2013 projections with earlier estimates in April 2010, these actuaries find that the law would increase national health spending higher than previously expected by an additional $27 billion in 2019 alone.

Chicago Tribune Man, the number of ObamaCare losers really seems to be piling up, doesn’t it?

Honeypot for Identity Thieves

Obamacare website is not safe or secure and should be shut down, say security experts as fears grow personal data of millions is at risk

The Administration was warned in April by a consultant they hired to review progress that's its website was 'fraught with risks'

The Obama administration brought in a private consulting team to independently assess how the federal online health insurance enrollment system was developing, according to a newly disclosed document, and in late March received a clear warning that its Oct. 1 launch was fraught with risks.

The analysis by McKinsey & Co. foreshadowed many of the problems that have dogged since its rollout, including the facts that the call-in centers would not work properly if the online system was malfunctioning and that insufficient testing would make it difficult to fix problems after the launch.  This risk assessment, which was encapsulated in a 14-slide presentation, was delivered to senior White House and Department of Health and Human Services officials in four briefings between March 28 and April 8, the committee said.

NYT  ID Verification Lagging on Health Care Website 

Many users of the website have had their applications cast into limbo after they uploaded copies of documents like driver’s licenses, Social Security cards and voter registration cards, or sent them to the office of the federal insurance marketplace in London, Ky.

Yes, There are Death Panels are in Obamacare. 

Ed Driscoll points out how Time magazine finally read the act and regulations

Time magazine, September 10, 2013.   “Sarah Palin Won’t Let ‘Death Panels’ Die,”

As has been explained here, here, here, here, here and here, the new health care law contains no death panels. The Independent Payment Advisory Board, a government panel that may determine some Medicare payments rates, is expressly banned from rationing care. End-of-life counseling, a provision in an early version of a health reform bill that would pay doctors to talk to Medicare patients about living wills, was stripped from the final version
Time magazine editor, November 25th, 2013,  Mark Halperin, senior political analyst

The Affordable Care Act contains provisions for “death panels,” which decide which critically-ill patients receive care and which won’t, according to Mark Halperin, senior political analyst for Time magazine.  “It’s built into the plan. It’s not like a guess or like a judgment. That’s going to be part of how costs are controlled,”

The Cure for Obamacare: The Widely Accepted Alternative and a New Idea to Go with It by Clark Judge

At a luncheon in Washington last week, I stumbled across something new in the Obamacare debate.  Most of the attendees were reporters.  The inevitable question came up: If not Obamacare, what?  And when a Republican ran through an answer (equalizing tax treatment of insurance bought through employers and individually; allowing insurance policies approved in one state to be sold in all; HSAs and high deductible plans; medical liability reform), the reception was attentive, not dismissive.

In other words, Washington is starting to take seriously the prospect of repeal and replace.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:38 PM | Permalink

November 25, 2013

St Peter's Bones

 Peterandfrancis  Pope Francis cradling the bones of St Peter

At the closing Mass of the global church's Year of Faith, the relics of St Peter were publicly unveiled for the first time since they were discovered in the 1940s and were held by Pope Francis during the recitation of the Nicene Creed.  In his homily, he said, "God’s grace is always greater than the prayer which sought it."

So How Does the Vatican Know That Those Old Bones Are the Relics of St Peter?    After all, he died nearly 2000 years ago.

It was the Vatican’s art historian, Elizabeth Lev, who first told me the story of the remarkable discovery of Peter’s bones.  It’s a story which has been told often in history books and reports, but I draw some of my information from Paul of Tarsus: A Visionary Life by Edward Stourton.

The Church has had a long tradition that St. Peter’s Basilica, construction of which was funded by the Emperor Constantine, was built in the early fourth century atop the burial site of St. Peter.  But in 1939–less than 100 years ago–a team of workmen digging a grave for Pope Pius XI in the crypt beneath the Basilica uncovered what was plainly the top of a Roman building.  The new pope, Pius XII, ordered further investigation; and archeologists gradually unearthed a well preserved Roman necropolis, or city of the dead, immediately beneath the foundations of St. Peter’s.

In actuality, we don’t know with certainty whose bones those are.  There are strong evidences through history:  writings by early popes and kings, graffiti messages in the tomb, and the placement of the graves themselves.  The early Christians, it seemed, considered it a great honor to be buried near the remains of Peter, the first pope.  And DNA testing has confirmed that the bones are from a male in his 60′s who likely died in the first century.
And here is the remarkable truth:  If one were to drop a plumb line from the center of the Dome of the great St. Peter’s Basilica, 460 feet above, it would extend downward

• through Bernini’s baldacchino,
• through the Basilica’s great papal altar, then
• through the twelfth-century altar of St. Callistus.
• through the sixth century altar of Gregory the Great, then
• through the fourth century Constantine shrine.
• to the second-century trophy (a kind of triumphal arch built to mark the burial place of great men), and finally,
• it would land upon the burial place of this great martyr of Christ, St. Peter.

“It doesn’t miss a foot,” writes Stourton.

 Side-View-Red-Wall-Trophy-Peter-Grave Diagram from St Peter's Basilica
 St Peter's Confessio St Peter's Confessio under the Papal High Altar
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:34 PM | Permalink

November 22, 2013

C.S. Lewis also died 50 years ago today

Today, CS Lewis is to be officially inducted into Poet's Corner in Westminster Abbey

Lewis will join such greats as Charles Dickens, Oscar Wilde, John Keats, William Blake and TS Eliot in a tradition going back 600 years.

 Cslewis Poets' Corner

CS Lewis's memorial stone is set in the floor of Poets' Corner - though he was not known for poetry - and is inscribed with lines from one of his theological lectures : "I believe in Christianity as I believe the sun has risen. Not only because I can see it but because by it I can see everything else."

Robert Barron on The Triumph of C.S. Lewis

Two famous men died on November 22, 1963. The first did so in the most dramatic way possible, assassinated in the full glare of publicity on the streets of Dallas; the second in relative obscurity, in the upstairs bedroom of his simple home on the outskirts of Oxford, England.

John F. Kennedy's legacy has, of course, been enormous, but I wonder whether C.S. Lewis has actually, in the course of these past 50 years, had a greater impact on the culture than his counterpart.
One reason why Lewis has proven so persuasive to so many is that he was compelled to undergo a transition -- halting, painful, anguished -- from non-belief to belief. Though he had been brought up in a Christian environment, he had lost his faith by the time he entered university. He was not someone to whom religious conviction came naturally or effortlessly; he had to work his way to it, in the face of often harsh opposition, both interior and exterior. This very personal struggle gives him credibility with the millions today who want to believe but who find ideological secularism and militant atheism enormously challenging.

C.S. Lewis intuited something that has become a commonplace among postmodern philosophers, namely, that the avatar of one worldview overcomes another, not so much through argument, but through telling a more compelling story, by "out-narrating" his opponent. He knew that the Christian evangelist, despite any personal flaws he might exhibit or institutional baggage he might carry, still possessed the greatest story ever told. Lewis told that story with particular verve, bravado, intelligence, imagination, and panache -- and that is why it is well and good that we should celebrate him on the 50th anniversary of his passing.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:41 PM | Permalink

Meanwhile the Economy is on Lockdown

Zerohedge.  The 5 Economic "Big Lies" The Government Is Telling You

1. "The Unemployment Rate Has Been Steadily Going Down"
2. "Inflation Is Low"
3. "Quantitative Easing Is Economic Stimulus"
4. "Obamacare Is Going To Be Good For Middle Class Americans"
5. "The U.S. National Debt Is Under Control"

Investors Business Daily.  Obama's Debt Buildup Risks A Major Fiscal Catastrophe

Fiscal Fraud: The government issued an astounding $1 trillion in new debt during the first six weeks of the fiscal year. How could such a thing happen with nary a peep? Just like ObamaCare, it's more government deceit.
One recent estimate said U.S. debt is on pace to hit $22 trillion just three months from now — a surge of $5 trillion, or 30%, in barely five months. That's scary.
Such fiscal legerdemain would land a private investor or manager in prison.

Daniel Henninger in the Wall Street Journal Worse Than ObamaCare    Obama's biggest failure is that he hobbled the U.S. economy.

A normal post-recession growth rate of at least 4% would have made it possible for Mr. Obama and his progressive allies to chase virtually any pie-in-the-sky policy they wanted. Instead, the U.S. has fallen far off its normal 3.3% growth rate.

A U.S. president, faced with such devastating labor-market problems and persistently weak growth, should do anything—anything—that will give the American workplace more lift. Instead, he's willing to entertain just one idea: more federal spending.

Ponder, though, a partial list of the public-policy decisions that have flowed steadily out of the Obama administration and directly into a job-starved U.S. economy:

The no-decision on the Keystone XL pipeline and its union jobs; the 2,000-page regulatory law draped in 2010 across the entire financial sector; the shutdown in 2010 and then the slow-walking of offshore oil drilling; siccing the EPA on the utilities industry and the National Labor Relations Board on all industry; a 2010 FCC decision to regulate Internet growth; a significant tax increase this year; support this month for jacking up the federal minimum wage to over $10, certain to smother new jobs; the Justice Department's $13 billion looting of J.P. Morgan JPM +2.00%  bank; and of course Hurricane ObamaCare.

Barack Obama has the U.S. economy on lockdown. It's the worst thing this president has done. American resilience, and elections, mean it won't stay this way forever. But for a lot of poor and middle-class folks, living with mom in the basement is getting old.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:31 PM | Permalink

Dried Human Tears

Photographer Rose-Lynn Fisher's latest project is called “Topography of Tears.  She uses microscopes to give us an unexpected view of dried human tears.

In the Smithsonian.  The Microscopic Structures of Dried Human Tears

“I started the project about five years ago, during a period of copious tears, amid lots of change and loss—so I had a surplus of raw material,” Fisher says. …..“everything we see in our lives is just the tip of the iceberg, visually,” she explains. “So I had this moment where I suddenly thought, ‘I wonder what a tear looks like up close?’”
Scientifically, tears are divided into three different types, based on their origin. Both tears of grief and joy are psychic tears, triggered by extreme emotions, whether positive or negative. Basal tears are released continuously in tiny quantities (on average, 0.75 to 1.1 grams over a 24-hour period) to keep the cornea lubricated. Reflex tears are secreted in response to an irritant, like dust, onion vapors or tear gas.

 Tears Onion-1    Onion tears

 Tears Grief    Tears of Grief

 Tears Laughing    Tears of Laughter

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:26 PM | Permalink

Seven years of Brain Pickings

Brainpickings  Brain Pickings is a delightful, weekly and free "interestingness digest." that comes out on Sundays.

Maria Popova writes

On October 23, 2006, I sent a short email to a few friends at work — one of the four jobs I held while paying my way through college — with the subject line “brain pickings,” announcing my intention to start a weekly digest featuring five stimulating things to learn about each week, from a breakthrough in neuroscience to a timeless piece of poetry. “It should take no more than 4 minutes (hopefully much less) to read,” I promised. This was the inception of Brain Pickings. At the time, I neither planned nor anticipated that this tiny experiment would one day be included in the Library of Congress digital archive of “materials of historical importance” and the few friends would become millions of monthly readers all over the world…..

Happy Birthday, Brain Pickings: 7 Things I Learned in 7 Years of Reading, Writing, and Living  

Here are seven things I’ve learned in seven years of making those choices, of integrating “work” and life in such inextricable fusion, and in chronicling this journey of heart, mind and spirit — a journey that took, for whatever blessed and humbling reason, so many others along for the ride. I share these here not because they apply to every life and offer some sort of blueprint to existence, but in the hope that they might benefit your own journey in some small way, bring you closer to your own center, or even simply invite you to reflect on your own sense of purpose.

1.  Allow yourself the uncomfortable luxury of changing your mind. 

2.  Do nothing for prestige or status or money or approval alone. 

3.  Be generous

4.  Build pockets of stillness into your life. 

5,  When people try to tell you who you are, don't believe them. 

6.  Presence is far more intricate and rewarding an art than productivity. 

7.  Expect anything worthwhile to take a long time.
………….As I’ve reflected elsewhere, the flower doesn’t go from bud to blossom in one spritely burst and yet, as a culture, we’re disinterested in the tedium of the blossoming. But that’s where all the real magic unfolds in the making of one’s character and destiny.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:08 PM | Permalink

November 21, 2013

Kennedy was killed by a communist

JFK was assassinated 50 years ago today by the left-wing, self-confessed communist Lee Harvey Oswald, a former U.S. Marine who had been court-martialed twice and who, after his discharge, traveled to Russia where he  appeared at the US Embassy in Moscow to declare his intention to renounce his U.S. citizenship.  He was given a job and a state-subsidized apartment in Minsk but found life in the Soviet Union so dull, he wanted to return to the U.S . After marrying a Russian woman, they  both returned to the United States and settled in Texas where he became active in the pro-Castro 'Fair Play for Cuba' committee in New Orleans.  He traveled to Mexico City to get a visa to visit Cuba but was turned down. He then returned to Texas where he got a job in the Texas Book Depository in Dallas and the rest is history.

It is pernicious and utter tripe to argue as James McAuley did in a NYT op-ed entitled The City with a Death Wish In Its Eye, that Dallas was "the city that willed the death of the president."

People on the left can not face the fact that a left-wing commie killed Kennedy.  They will do anything to shift blame to conservatives.    One way that has proven very successful is to encourage conspiracy theories involving the right wing..  61 percent of Americans still insist the JFK assassination was a conspiracy.

Dan Greenfield  writes  "Sometimes a conspiracy theory exposes a conspiracy. Sometimes the conspiracy theory is the conspiracy".

There was never really any disagreement about Lee Harvey Oswald's politics. The media has avoided the issue by not talking about it while characterizing him as a screwball who wasn't happy anywhere. That much is true, but Lee Harvey Oswald was a militant Socialist screwball who defected to the Soviet Union and plotted the murders of people he considered "right-wing".

The piles of conspiracy theories shove him to the side as an excessively convenient killer. But Lee Harvey Oswald was part of a continuum of left-wing terror in America. The murder of JFK was a bridge between the explosions of violence in the twenties by anarchists and by the Weathermen in the seventies. Oswald was part of the leading edge of left-wing violence in America.
JFK was not killed by a military-industrial complex or a vast right-wing conspiracy. No group of men in suits sat around a table plotting his death. The forces that killed him were the same political ideas of the left that led young American men and women to cheer for the Viet Cong, plant bombs and wage war against their own country.
The real Kennedy conspiracy was an effort to suppress the basic truths of what had happened and to replace them with a recursive loop of conspiracy theories that could never resolve anything while convincing everyone that the basic truths of what happened could be safely ignored.

The conspiracy did not cover up the work of the secret organization that killed JFK, but the secret organizations of the left whose ideas led to his murder. The real JFK conspiracy concealed the deeper secret that the left is destructive and that its ideas carry a dark wind of chaos and violence.

Lt. Gen Ion Mihai Pacepa is the highest-ranking Soviet bloc intelligence official ever to defect to the West.  He offers New Proof of the KGB's hand in JFK's Assassination

According to new KGB documents, which became available after Programmed to Kill was published, the Soviet effort to deflect attention away from the KGB regarding the Kennedy assassination began on November 23, 1963—the very day after Kennedy was killed—and it was introduced by a memo to the Kremlin signed by KGB chairman Vladimir Semichastny. He asked the Kremlin immediately to publish an article in a “progressive paper in one of the Western countries …exposing the attempt by reactionary circles in the USA to remove the responsibility for the murder of Kennedy from the real criminals, [i.e.,] the racists and ultra-right elements guilty of the spread and growth of violence and terror in the United States.”

In the WSJ James Piereson writes JFK—Casualty of the Cold War 

Why does the Kennedy assassination still provoke so much controversy?

A large part of the answer can be found in the social and political climate of the early 1960s. Immediately after the assassination, leading journalists and political figures insisted that the president was a victim of a "climate of hate" in Dallas and across the nation seeded by racial bigots, the Ku Klux Klan, fundamentalist ministers and anticommunist zealots. These people had been responsible for acts of violence across the South against blacks and civil-rights workers in the months and years leading up to Nov. 22, 1963. It made sense to think that the same forces must have been behind the attack on Kennedy.
Ironically, U.S. leaders adopted a line similar to the one pushed by the Soviet Union and communist groups around the world. They likewise blamed the "far right" for the assassination.
The assassin's motives for shooting Kennedy were undoubtedly linked to a wish to interfere with the president's campaign to overthrow Castro's government. After the Cuban Missile Crisis, Kennedy pledged to abandon efforts to overthrow Castro's regime by force. But the war of words between the two governments continued, and so did clandestine plots by the Kennedy administration to eliminate Castro by assassination.

Castro, however, was probably aware of these plots against him, thanks to information thought to have been provided by a Cuban double agent. In early September, Castro declared in an interview with an American reporter that U.S. officials wouldn't be safe if they continued efforts to assassinate Cuban leaders. A transcript of the interview was published in the local paper in New Orleans where Oswald was then living; and it may have been Castro's remarks that sent him on his trip to Mexico City a few weeks later. Oswald was attentive to the smoldering war between the U.S. and Cuban governments and to the personal and ideological war of words between Castro and Kennedy.

The JFK assassination was an event in the Cold War, but it was interpreted by America's liberal leadership as an event in the civil-rights crusade. This interpretation sowed endless confusion about the motives of the assassin and the meaning of the event. The vacuum of meaning was filled by a host of conspiracy theories claiming that JFK was a victim of plots orchestrated by right-wing groups.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:45 AM | Permalink

November 20, 2013

Put children first when it comes to education, not unions

If you care about children getting a good education, this will make your blood boil.  Teachers unions are far too powerful.  They put their own interests first  not those of children.  There are many good teachers who do put children first, but the unions don't. 

Teachers Unions vs. Charter Schools

The Beginning With Children charter school in New York City announced that it will close next year because operating under union work rules has made it impossible to provide students with a decent education.
To understand how union work rules can impact the quality of a school, consider this passage from Steven Brill's "Class Warfare," in which he compares the teachers' contracts at Harlem Success Academy, a high-performing charter school in New York City, and a traditional public school that share the same building space and teach kids from the same socio-economic background.

"The Harlem Success teachers' contract drives home the idea that the school is about the children, not the grown-ups. It is one page, allows them to be fired at will, and defines their responsibilities no more specifically than that they must help the school achieve its mission. Harlem Success teachers are paid about 5 to 10 percent more than union teachers on the other side of the building who have their levels of experience.

"The union contract in place on the public school side of the building is 167 pages. Most of it is about job protection and what teachers can and cannot be asked to do during the 6 hours and 57.5 minutes (8:30 to about 3:25, with 50 minutes off for lunch) of their 179-day work year."

In the 2010, 29 percent of the students at the traditional public school were reading and writing at grade level, and 34 percent were performing at grade level in math. At the charter school, the corresponding numbers were 86 percent and 94 percent.

 Testing Results 2010 Nyc Schools

In Louisiana, Governor Jindal instituted a program whereby students in failing schools can receive scholarships in the form of vouchers to go to another school. Eight thousand students have received vouchers in the current school year, and over 93 percent of parents who have participated say they are satisfied with their child’s new school, according to Jindal’s office.

Governor Jindal said, “The scholarships are completely race blind.  It’s done by lottery. It’s one of the reasons over 90 percent of the kids are actually minorities.”

The Department of Justice filed a lawsuit to obtain a permanent injunction against the scholarship program blocking access to vouchers in districts that are under desegregation orders unless a judge approves them because it claimed the program is 'impeding desegregation'.

The Justice Department’s suit uses percentages of white and black students in schools in areas still facing desegregation orders

to argue that the voucher program uses state funding to thwart the federal government’s desegregation efforts. On closer examination, this argument is a sham. Two cases in the suit are particularly ludicrous. In one instance, six African American students leaving a school through the voucher program decreased the percentage of black students in the school from 30.1 percent to 29.2 percent. In another case, five white students leaving a failing school decreased the percentage of white students in the school from 29.6 percent to 28.9 percent, violating desegregation orders.

Jindal called the lawsuit “cynical, immoral, and hypocritical.”

“Nearly 50 years to the day of Martin Luther King’s famous ‘I have a dream’ speech, the Department of Justice under the Obama administration filed what I think is a despicable lawsuit,” he said at the National Press Club on Wednesday. “They went to federal court in Louisiana to try to trap thousands of children in failing schools.”

Yesterday, the DOJ abandoned its lawsuit

Unable to put forward concrete proof for the claim, the Justice Department abandoned its lawsuit, United States District Court Judge Ivan Lemelle said Friday. However, the Obama administration is still calling for the district court to grant a federal review of the program — with a hearing for that request scheduled for Friday in New Orleans.

GOP wins one for blue-collar parents in Louisiana

The change is a big win for Cantor and other high-powered House Republicans who have championed the school choice revolution in post-Katrina New Orleans.

GOP leaders are joining the fight partly because of their ideological support for school choice, but also to showcase support for American parents who are struggling to rescue their kids from failing, crime-ridden, autocratic, union-controlled, mandatory government-run schools.

Their participation, however, is also part of the GOP’s post-2012 effort to show support for working-class parents.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:01 PM | Permalink

'Take the love you have for me and spread it around.'

Humans of New York or HONY for short is a blog by Brandon Stanton that is funny, inspiring, beautiful and addictive, attracting over a million followers in just three years.

In a review of his new bestselling book,  Humans of New York, the New York Times called him, A Fisherman in New York's Sea of Faces. 

Here’s how Brandon Stanton spends several hours each day: He walks up to total strangers in New York City, requests permission to take their pictures and then asks questions so personal they might make Oprah Winfrey blush.

Mr. Stanton — a hybrid of interviewer, photographer and eager chronicler of street life — said this week that he was still stunned by the runaway success of his book, which has more than 145,000 copies in print.

“It seemed like a stupid idea, just taking pictures of people on the street,” he said. “But there’s a comfort, an affirmation, a validation in being exposed to people with similar problems.”

Mr. Stanton is a 29-year-old Georgia native with no training as a journalist. He has owned two cameras in his life and admits he has never learned the technically correct way to use them. When he moved to New York in 2010, he was friendless, nearly broke and recently relieved of his job as a bond trader in Chicago.
Yaniv Soha, the acquiring editor,[St Martin's Press]  said Mr. Stanton has the rare gift of being able to connect with random people. “It’s about the stories as much as it is about the photos,” Mr. Soha said. “It’s really about his ability to relate to people and convey what makes them individual.”

Humans of New York: A blog, a bestseller, a philosophy, a slideshow from the Washington Post.

In 2010, Brandon Stanton set out to create a photographic census of the biggest U.S. city. A blog of his daily encounters has grown to 1 million readers, and he has a new bestseller, called

Stanton talked with The Post’s David Beard about a few of his images — and what he’s learned on his journey.

 Hony Umbrella-Lesson

Stanton remembers this photograph fondly. It was pouring in Central Park. She let him under her umbrella and told him, in a raspy voice: "When my husband was dying, I said: 'Moe, how am I supposed to live without you?' He told me: 'Take the love you have for me and spread it around.' "

ABC News did a wonderful video of Stanton and his work which you can see here.  Photog Gone Viral

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:29 AM | Permalink

November 19, 2013

Parenting roundup; Pope Francis, making children sissies, the neglected heart and casual sex

Pope Francis:  Waste time with your children

“When I hear the confession of a young married man or woman, and they refer to their son or daughter, I ask, ‘How many children do you have?’ and they tell me. Maybe they’re expecting another question after that, but I always ask, ‘And tell me, do you play with your children? Do you waste time with your children?’”

“The free gift of a parent’s time is so important,” he said.

21 Shameful Ways We Are Forcing Children To Be Sissies

1. We punish them for being brave - Teen Prevents Knife Attack, Gets Reprimanded

3. We don’t let them be themselves - Deaf Preschooler Asked to Change Name Because American Sign Language Version Looks Like a Weapon

5. We reprimand them for pulling harmless pranks - Teen Arrested for Yelling "Bingo" in Bingo Hall

6. We force them to be more dependent. - Mom Arrested for Letting Kids Play Outside

7. We don’t let them play with their food - Seven-Year-Old Suspended For Gun-Shaped Poptart

8. We don’t let them get their hands dirty - Kid Punished for Bag of Dirt Because It Looked Like Pot

9. We punish them for being honest - Eighth Grader Punished for Reporting Students Having Sex on a Bus

11. We make them ask permission for everything - Mom Calls the Cops on Son for Stealing Poptarts

12. We crush their dreams - Police Force Girls to Shut Down Lemonade Stand

13. We take away their free speech - Eleven-Year-Old Suspended for Saying "Gun"

14. We teach them to be ashamed of their bodily functions - Middle School Boy Arrested for Burping in Class

18. We prevent them from being educated - Schools Ban Dictionaries

20. We don’t let them up stand for what they believe in - Girl Suspended for School Project that Confronts Bullying

21. We don’t let them play rough - Six-Year-Old Accused of Sexual Battery for Game of Tag

The Neglected Heart.   Rarely discussed are the Emotional Dangers of Premature Sexual Involvement

  1. Worry about pregnancy and disease
  2. Regret and self-recrimination
  3. Guilt
  4. Loss of self-esteem and self-respect
  5. Shaken trust
  6. Depression and suicide
  7. Damaged or ruined relationships
  8. Stunted Personal Development
  9. Negative effects on marriage

Matt Walsh, a tattooed 27 year old former DJ has this to say about casual sex

Yet few will speak against the predators and perverts in media, Hollywood, and Academia who promote this “casual sex” deception. There should be armies of people opposing it, but instead there is only a small, fringe group of cultural insurgents; the ones we point and laugh at and accuse of having a “boring” and “outdated” view of sexuality.

This is another lie. Casual sex proponents are the ones who have turned sex into something trivial, banal, utilitarian, pointless, joyless, one-dimensional, lifeless, lonely, and disappointing. How could the ones who hold it as sacred also be the ones who make it “boring”? No, it’s mainstream culture that’s made sex boring. It’s mainstream culture that is, in fact, afraid of sex. That’s why we spend so much energy shielding ourselves from every natural aspect of it, other than the physical sensation itself.
We’re told that we are sexually “liberated” if we throw ourselves at strangers and give ourselves over to people who couldn’t possibly care less about us. This is yet another lie. If modern attitudes about sex have “liberated” us, what, precisely, have we been freed from? Security? Commitment? Trust? What, we’ve broken the Shackles of Purity and Love and run gleefully into the Meadows of Pornography and Herpes? Because that’s all that our sexual liberation has wrought. A lot of confusion, a lot of porn, a lot of disease, a lot of emotionally desperate, psychologically battered, spiritually broken people wandering around, searching for another stranger who’s willing to go in for a few more rounds of sterile, shallow, pointless sex.
Describing sex as “casual” is like describing the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel as a “nice little doodle.” That’s what I can’t stand — the people who diminish and cheapen sex are the ones who get to pass themselves off as “sexually enlightened.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:26 PM | Permalink

Philanthropy for show

In City Journal, The Philanthropic Spectacle by Guy Sorman.  When giving is more about show than result.

The Bill Gates Foundation is offering a $100,000 prize for a better condom.   

The latex industry has pursued the same goal for decades and devoted many millions of dollars to the effort. What’s the point of a philanthropist trying to do what the market is already doing?

Call this philanthropy for show, a kind of celebrity giving designed for a mediatized age, based on grand gestures, big dollars, and heartwarming proclamations—but too little concern with actual results, which often prove paltry, redundant (as with the condom initiative), or even destructive. The American media often revel in controversy, so one might expect that the gap between expansive promises and disappointing outcomes would prompt intense journalistic interest. But for the most part, would-be statesmen-humanitarians—such as Bill Clinton, Gates, and Al Gore, along with entertainment- world benefactors like Oprah Winfrey and academic superstars like Columbia development economist Jeffrey Sachs, have gotten a free pass for their good philanthropic intentions. They and their cohorts deserve closer scrutiny.

The saddest example is about the relief for Haiti

In January 2010, after a 7.0 magnitude earthquake decimated Haiti, hundreds of charities around the world raised $4 billion for relief. United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon named Clinton to preside over a Haiti Reconstruction Commission to coordinate the relief effort and ensure that the money was well spent. The commission met three times at a luxury hotel in Port-au-Prince before disappearing without a trace. A year after the earthquake, the American Red Cross, which had received most of the donations, disclosed that it had spent only 20 percent of relief funds “for lack of satisfactory programs on site.” Last year, the organization reported that, while it had raised nearly $500 million for Haitian recovery, hundreds of millions remained unspent. The Red Cross invested these reserve funds in interest-bearing accounts, which finance its administration—a common practice in the humanitarian world.

Nearly four years after the quake, it remains impossible to sort out what philanthropic institutions have spent in Haiti and what the groups have kept for themselves. To visit Haiti today is to see how donations have evaporated. Sure, some Haitian intermediaries and certain ministers have benefited—as have numerous employees of foreign NGOs, who live comfortably in one of the world’s most impoverished nations. Yet though he was supposed to coordinate relief and guard against waste and corruption, Clinton visited Haiti only twice before returning in January this year to commemorate the catastrophe’s third anniversary, partaking in the usual photo ops. CBS News reported on that occasion that only half of all the donated money had found its way to Haiti.

Sorman concludes:

Ego has often been the fuel for efforts that delivered great advances for humanity—improved medicines, new technologies, profound works of art. Philanthropy for show, however, has frequently served as an ego gratifier, without much in the way of compensating benefits. Often undertaken from a distance, too easily escaping evaluation and criticism, it tends to deliver wonderful photo ops but improve few lives. Those who genuinely wish to alleviate suffering in the world should look past its dazzling presentations to more proven, if less glamorous, remedies.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:18 PM | Permalink

CMS Official: Only 30 Percent of System Has Been Built UPDATED

CMS Official: Only 30 Percent of System Has Been Built

Henry Chao, the deputy chief information officer for Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, told a House subcommittee that the administration still needs to construct the payment systems and other “back office” functions, which constitute 60 to 70 percent of the system.

The White House has said that will be functioning for a “vast majority of people” by its self-imposed November 30 deadline. On Monday, reports said that the administration will consider the website a “success” if 80 percent of users are able to enroll by the end of the month.

UPDATE:  Chao later seems to correct himself, saying that 30-40% remains to be built, and 60-70% has been built.

By comparison, U.S. fought WWII quicker than launching healthcare website.    Bill from Kentucky in an email to Fox News’ Bret Baier:

“Putting things in perspective: March 21st 2010 to October 1 2013 is 3 years, 6 months, 10 days.  December 7, 1941 to May 8, 1945 is 3 years, 5 months, 1 day.  What this means is that in the time we were attacked at Pearl Harbor to the day Germany surrendered is not enough time for this progressive federal government to build a working webpage.  Mobilization of millions, building tens of thousands of tanks,  planes, jeeps, subs, cruisers, destroyers, torpedoes, millions upon millions of guns, bombs, ammo, etc. Turning the tide in North Africa,  Invading Italy, D-Day,  Battle of the Bulge, Race to Berlin – all while we were also fighting the Japanese in the Pacific!!  And in that amount of time – this administration can’t build a working webpage.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:46 PM | Permalink

"Here I leave my pain"

'It was like being in Paradise. I felt only love': Terribly disfigured man who was held by the Pope relives the moment that moved the world

The shockingly disfigured man, whose full-body tumours were lovingly kissed by the Pope, has been revealed as a 53-year-old Italian suffering from a rare genetic disease.

 Pope Embraces Disfigured Man

Vinicio Riva’s entire body has been ravaged by the growths, a symptom of neorofibramatosis, which is not contagious.
The severely disabled man, who is shunned in the street, and has induced horror even in his doctors, has for the first time described the encounter, saying that being caressed by Francis was like ‘being in Paradise’.

He told Italian news magazine Panorama he was left speechless when Pope did not hesitate to touch him.
He said: ‘His hands were so soft. And his smile was so clear and open. But the thing that struck me most is that there has not been thinking about whether or not to hug me. I'm not contagious, but he did not know. But he just did it: he caressed me all over my face, and as he did I felt only love.

He recollected the meeting of a fortnight ago: 'First I kissed his hand while he, with the other hand, caressed my head and wounds. Then he drew me to him in a strong embrace, kissing my face.

'My head was against his chest his arms were wrapped around me. It lasted just over a minute, but to me it seemed like an eternity.'  Mr Riva was accompanied to the Vatican's St Peter's square by his aunt, Caterina and his younger sister Morena, who also suffers from a lesser form of the disease.

The meeting with Francis marked a new beginning for him he said: ‘Later I turned to my aunt and told her: "Here I leave my pain"'.
 V   +Aunt Lotto

Here is Vincio Riva with his Aunt Caterina Lotto  who cares for disfigured man held by the Pope and reveals she fears for him and his sister and worries they will never leave the house when she is gone as she 'makes them feel safe'

Mrs Lotto said that people make cruel comments when the brother and sister venture outside. She said: 'So many times [women] have moved away from him. They are scared that it’s infectious. And some of the old women say that he should be shut away.

'They still have this mentality. I say “Don’t you have children? Don’t you know that however they are born you have to love them?
‘I worry about Vinicio and Morena and their happiness so much. When their mother died she asked me to look after them. I would give them my soul if I could. I have four children of my own, who are grown up with their own children. So I have been left with these two little children.’
The rare disease was passed down from Mr Riva's late mother, Rosaria, who died in 2011.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:23 AM | Permalink

Where is the respect for truth in our government? UPDATED

Unbelievable.  US Census 'faked' 2012 election jobs report    At least one employee just made up data and created jobs out of thin air

In the home stretch of the 2012 presidential campaign, from August to September, the unemployment rate fell…. sharply taking it below 8%.
And a knowledgeable source says the deception went beyond that one employee - that it escalated at the time President Obama was seeking reelection in 2012 and continues today.  "He's not the only one," said the source, who asked to remain anonymous for now but is willing to talk with the Labor Department and Congress if asked.

A brief filed by the Department of Justice admitted that Majority of Americans with Employer Health Plans Could Lose Coverage .  That's tens of millions of people

The DOJ federal brief states: “Even under the grandfathering provision, it is projected that … a majority of group health plans will have lost their grandfather status by the end of 2013.” 

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) admitted that Democrats knew full well that Americans would be booted from their health insurance plans as an effect of Obamacare implementation…..The redistributive nature of Obamacare, Gillibrand stated, was the point of the program; anyone claiming ignorance, therefore, is not telling the truth.

In 2010, Senate Republicans tried to block Obamacare rule that caused millions of insurance cancellations, but EVERY Democrat voted to save it

As a constitutional-law expert Obama knows full well that a President has no legal authority to waive statutory mandates writes Andrew McCarthy

In sum, Obama is well aware that his proposed “fix” is frivolous. His hope is that the country overwhelmingly consists of dolts who are too uninformed to realize that this is the case, and who, with a little help from his media courtiers, can be convinced to blame the insurance companies, rather than the president, for the fact that millions of Americans are losing their coverage under his “reform.”

He calls Obamacare a "fraud  that, I contend, the Justice Department would not hesitate to prosecute had it been committed by a private-sector executive".

In his conference call with Organizing for America, community organizers and supporters, Obama claims 'more than 100 million have enrolled' with Obamacare, clearly showing both the strain he is under and the delusional effect of his lies.

The Department of Homeland Security announced a blanket parole to illegal alien relatives of military personnel contrary to the law which allows parole only on a case-by-case basis and in limited circumstances.

If you headed a government agency and had an employee who ran a website calling for the mass murder of whites, would you fire him?
The Department of Homeland Security still employs Ayo Kimathi, a militant black nationalist who called for murder of 'Uncle Tom traitors'

Five reasons the IRS scandal won't go away

Prophetic words from Angelo Codevilla, Lies Corrupt Democracy

Democracy has no cure for a corrupt demos. Politicians’ misdeeds taint them alone, so long as their supporters do not embrace them. But when substantial constituencies continue to support their leaders despite their having broken faith, they turn democracy’s process of mutual persuasion into partisan war.
[E]veryone seemed to know, then – that respect for the truth is what enables a democratic society that resolves its differences by mutual persuasion, and that absent that respect society devolves into civil war.

UPDATE:  Victor Davis Hanson on Obama's Noble Lies
What is the common denominator of the Obama administration’s serial scandals — the Justice Department’s spying on AP, the IRS targeting of conservative groups, the NSA surveillance, the lies about Benghazi and the ACA — and much of the White House damage-control rhetoric? In a word: the advancement of postmodern notions of justice at the expense of traditional truth.
In the postmodern world of the New York Times and Barack Obama, again, “truth” is a relative concept. For reactionaries stuck in ossified notions of absolute truth, perhaps indeed Obama did “misspeak.” But for progressives of our brave new world, Obama was all along speaking truth to power merely by using linguistic gymnastics to advance a larger good — the idea that the privileged who had managed to acquire good health insurance should at last pay more in order to cover those who in the past undeservedly had been deprived of commensurate coverage.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:10 AM | Permalink

Gettysburg Address UPDATED

Inexplicably, the President who made a big deal of his identification with Lincoln, even using Lincoln's bible to take his oath of office, is not going to Gettysburg today for the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg address.

Rex Murphy describes A perfect miracle of public utterance

Its beginning phrase, "four score and seven years ago," has become so well known that it's almost risen to the level of folklore.  These six words are a key to what Lincoln is doing with the remaining 272:  He deliberately sets a formal, deliberate tone, while avoiding the obvious or colloquial ("87 years ago"), and choosing to echo a biblical phrasing (Psalms:  "The days of our years are threescore years and ten").  The deliberate archaizing of the phrase also amounts to a call to attention.

Lincoln follows this with a brilliant, condensed précis of the American idea:  "Conceived in Liberty … all men are created equal."

The second sentence leaps from the distant founding of America to its then-terrible present moment and place.  He declares the Civil War (which was to continue for another year and a half ) as the "test" of whether a nation founded on such ideals "can survive."

The Gettysburg Address is a perfect miracle of public utterance…

But Lincoln goes beyond framing the war as a test of national ideals.  The language of the address, and its stately and solemn unfolding, set the Civil War as an interposition of a kind of Fate, or Providence, sent to test America — to settle the question of whether "any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure."  It is a brilliant turn of thought.

Then he turns to eulogy proper, and the subtle reversing of the normal eulogic energies: It is not the living who gather to honour the dead; rather, the dead consecrate the living.

It ends on a pledge to the warriors of Gettysburg field, to God himself — that they resolve to save the nation.  This part contains one of the plainest passages of the entire address — its whole charge riding on a triplet of prepositions: "by," "of" and "for."  The aphorism "of the people, by the people, for the people" captures in nine words the government all of us know (or should know).

Finally, he reverts to the solemn Biblical echoes of his beginning:  "perish from the earth."  The phrase brings the whole fiercely compressed but irresistibly persuasive address to what Eliot called a "dying close."

The Gettysburg Address is a perfect miracle of public utterance, of great weight and dignity — virtues not as present as we would like in these latter days.

UPDATE.  Obama edits the Gettysburg address, leaves out 'under God'  in a video shot for Ken Burns for Learn the Address which gathers recordings of Americans reciting the famous speech.

Lincoln made four previous drafts, the fifth and final draft which Lincoln signed and dated included the words "Under God" as did contemporaneous reports from the AP, the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Chicago Tribune.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:25 AM | Permalink

November 18, 2013

Signs of the Times

The rise of paid friends: How wealthy New Yorkers are socializing with hired staff over 'real' companions – because they’re easier 'to control'

The paid friends, or PF’s for short, are not platonic escorts. They are personal trainers, stylists, chefs, and chauffeurs who take their jobs to more congenial levels. They offer rich benefactors all of the benefits of a friend’s companionship, without the drawbacks like arguments…According to one avid PF employer, ‘Once you’ve had paid friends who don’t argue with you, it’s actually quite hard to go back to real friends.’

You love your iPhone more than me! Almost half of cheaters admit they strayed because partner paid more attention to their mobile

If you don't want your partner to cheat, then new research suggests you should spend less time on your smartphone.  According to a recent survey, almost half of those questioned admitted they have cheated while in a relationship because they felt second best to their partner's mobile.
Dating website Victoria Milan surveyed 6000 of their members and found 45 per cent would cheat, or have cheated, on their partner because they felt they paid more attention to their phone or tablet than they did to them.  Women aged 30-50 were most likely to feel this way….Some said they felt their other half paid more attention to their phone than they did to them, checking them during meals, while watching a film, in the middle of an important conversation and even immediately after sex. 

IT professionals say great deal of time spent fixing problems - mainly malware -brought on by high level company executives visiting pornographic websites using company devices.

The REAL reason new college grads can't find a job? They don't have good enough interpersonal skills say bosses

A new survey by the Workforce Solutions Group at St. Louis Community College has found more than 60 percent of employers said applicants lack ‘communication and interpersonal skills’ - a jump of 10 percent in just two years.  In the same survey, a large number of managers accused applicants of not being able to think critically and creatively, solve problems or write well.

Too much screen time on computers and smartphones deprives teenagers of the time needed to build 'communication and interpersonal skills' which can only be learned through interacting with a variety of real people in real time.   

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:33 PM | Permalink

November 15, 2013

Why the Obamacare fix won't work

Mark Steyn

[M]illions of his subjects — or “folks,” as he prefers to call us, no fewer than 27 times during his press conference — have had their lives upended by Obamacare. Your traditional hard-core statist, surveying the mountain of human wreckage he has wrought, usually says, “Well, you can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs.” But Obama is the first to order that his omelet be unscrambled and the eggs put back in their original shells. Is this even doable? No. That’s the point. When it doesn’t work, he’ll be able to give another press conference blaming the insurance companies, or the state commissioners, or George W. Bush . . .

The most telling line, the one that encapsulates the gulf between the boundless fantasies of the faculty-lounge utopian and the messiness of reality, was this: “What we’re also discovering is that insurance is complicated to buy.” Gee, thanks for sharing, genius.

As Veronique de Rugy points out Speeches Don't Change the Law

Insurance companies who sell plans that are still illegal under the law could be sued in courts and won’t get any legal protection.

"G'head.  Re-Enroll in Your Still-Illegal Health Plan.  I Won't Prosecute.  Trust Me."

Set aside the president’s disregard for the U.S. Constitution, the separation of powers, and the rule of law generally. Here’s how his fix alters – where it leaves – his once-categorical “if you like your health plan, you can keep your health plan” promise:

If your insurer hasn’t already cancelled your plan prior to October 1, 2013, and
If you had coverage in effect on October 1, 2013, and
If your insurer wants to invest in re-issuing your already-cancelled plan for just one more year, and
If your state’s insurance commissioner wants to let your insurer re-issue that plan, and
If your insurer and your commissioner can get your old plan re-approved by January 1, and
If your insurer informs you how lousy your old plan was and how awesome ObamaCare plans are, even though they may charge you more for less coverage, and
If your insurance commissioner does not mind approving products that are clearly illegal under federal law, and
If you and your insurer don’t mind engaging in an economic transaction that is clearly illegal under federal law, and
If you trust me when I promise not to prosecute any of you for your clear violations of federal law,
Then you can keep your plan, for one more year.
Does that seem like a fix? It certainly doesn’t seem likely to work.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:04 PM | Permalink

November 14, 2013

“We’re lending money we don’t have, to kids who will never be able to pay it back, for jobs that no longer exist”

 Mike Rowe

Mike Rowe on How Many Are Following the "Worst Advice in the History of the World", i.e. ““the absurd belief that a four-year degree is the only path to success.”

Rowe’s motivation for the work largely began with what he described as “the worst advice in the history of the world” – a poster he saw in high school challenging students to “work smart, not hard.”  The picture of the person working “smart” was holding a diploma, and the person working “hard” looked miserable performing some form of manual labor.

“Today, skilled trades are in demand. In fact, there are 3 million jobs out there that companies are having a hard time filling. So we thought that skilled trades could do with a PR campaign,” he said with a smile. “So we took the same idea, went ahead and vandalized it. Work smart AND hard.’”
Rowe said he wanted to make something clear.  “I’m not against a college education. I’m against debt,” he said. “That was the only four letter word in my family…”

What he’s against, Rowe added, is that we started promoting college “at the expense” of the vocational training that, in many cases, is what’s actually needed for the career.

Mike Rowe unveiled last month a new scholarship program to get high school seniors ready to enter the workforce with the skills they need to land jobs that are available in the U. S.    From his website

Personally, I think it’s insane to start a career thirty grand in the hole, especially when there are no jobs in your chosen field. The fact is, the vast majority of jobs today do NOT require a four-year degree. They require training, and a truly useful skill. I think we’ve confused the cost of an education with the price of a diploma. That’s why I started The mikeroweWORKS Scholarship Fund. I want to challenge the idea that an expensive four-year degree is the best path for the most people, and call attention to thousands of real opportunities in the real world that real companies are struggling to fill.
To qualify for a mrW/MTI Scholarship, you have to be a high-school senior who is willing to learn a skill at MTI. You’ll need to write an essay. You’ll need to provide attendance records and references. You’ll also need to submit a short video and post it on Facebook. In short, you’ll need to make a case for yourself, because the public is going to vote on who gets the money. And the money at stake is significant – on average, $15,000 per scholarship. And something else – you’ll need to sign The S.W.E.A.T. Pledge (Skills & Work Ethic Aren’t Taboo).

This is great advice for many, many young people.  He knows what he's talking about.  He's had more dirty jobs than anyone. 

As the creator and executive producer of Discovery Channel's Emmy-nominated series Dirty Jobs With Mike Rowe, Mike has spent years traveling the country, working as an apprentice on more than 200 jobs that most people would go out of their way to avoid. From coal mining to roustabouting, maggot farming to sheep castrating, Mike has worked in just about every industry and filmed the show in almost every state, celebrating the hard-working Americans who make civilized life possible for the rest of us.

No one is better suited to the role of good-natured guinea pig than Mike — mainly because it's not a role. Dirty Jobs is entirely unscripted, and Mike doesn't cheat; he actually does the work, with a sense of humor rarely portrayed in such professions. In fact, the notion of depicting hard work as noble and fun is central to his personal mission.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:30 PM | Permalink

Interesting reads for the weekend

Some interesting reads I've collected that are good to read over a weekend.

The detective is a shamanic figure   Shamanic powers of insight and the power to bring order out of chaos. Is the detective a priestly figure for our times?

Zagat: 50 states, 50 sandwiches

What Gaudi's Sagrade Familia Will Look Like in 2026.  Scroll down to the end for the stunning YouTube visual.

From Book Riot  Libraries of the Rich and Famous

The Amazing History of the To-Do List  See the to-do lists of Benjamin Franklin and Johnny Cash.

Why Do We Eat Popcorn at the Movies?

Sony Walkman to zip: Past century's top 100 inventions

At Maggie's Farm The Yankee Code, the unspoken code of behavior.

Inside 23andMe Founder Ann Wojcicki's $99 DNA Revolution.  The $126 million genetic-testing company can tell you how to live smarter, better and longer.  It can also tell you what might kill you.

Why have young people in Japan stopped having sex?
What happens to a country when its young people stop having sex? Japan is finding out… Abigail Haworth investigates

16 People On Things They Couldn’t Believe About America Until They Moved Here

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:43 PM | Permalink

November 13, 2013

Health Roundup: Aging better with a Mediterranean diet, exercise, brushing teeth, steamed broccoli and more fat for a healthy brain

Women who follow a Mediterranean diet are 40% more likely to live a healthy life past 70

Women who follow a diet rich in fruit, vegetables and fish, which is closely associated with the traditional Mediterranean diet, were less likely to suffer from major chronic diseases and physical ailments.  They were also found to be 40 per cent more likely to live past the age of 70.

Lead researcher Cecilia Samieri, a postdoctoral fellow who conducted the study while at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, said: 'We found that greater quality of diet at midlife was strongly associated with increased odds of good health and well-being among individuals surviving to older ages.  Maintaining physical, cognitive, and mental health with aging may provide a more powerful incentive for dietary change than simply prolonging life or avoiding any single chronic disease.'

Half an hour's exercise each day prevents depression later in life, study reveals

The project, which analyzed data from 30 previous studies, found that in 25 of them there was a link between lack of activity and being diagnosed with depression in later life.  The study, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, recommends around 20-30 minutes of light activity, such as walking or gardening, every day.

Regularly brushing your teeth lowers the risk of heart attacks and strokes

Regularly brushing your teeth can help protect you from heart attacks, researchers have found.  Poor dental hygiene and bleeding gums can allow up to 700 types of bacteria to enter the bloodstream.  But brushing and flossing has now been found to help to combat bacteria in the mouth that can cause hardening of the arteries which may lead to heart attacks and strokes. This means that people who brush their teeth at least twice a day are less likely to suffer from a heart attack or stroke.
Dr Nigel Carter, chief executive of the British Dental Health ­Foundation, told the Express: 'This is truly ground-breaking.
'The potential link between what goes on in your mouth and the health of your heart has been an intense topic of debate for some time. This research clearly shows the more you improve and maintain your gum health, the less chance there is of developing a potential life-threatening illness.'

How to get the most health benefits from your veg? STEAM them: Study finds boiled or microwaved broccoli has no cancer-fighting properties left

Scientists found broccoli loses its cancer-fighting properties when it is boiled or microwaved. The researchers, who presented their findings at the American Institute for Cancer Research Annual Research Conference, found the best way to cook the vegetable is to steam it for three to four minutes.
They say steaming it until it turns a bright green color can enhance its cancer-fighting compounds.

Broccoli is an excellent source of sulforaphane, a naturally occurring plant compound that has been shown to be protective against cancer.  The enzyme myrosinase in broccoli is needed for sulforaphane to form - so if the myrosinase is destroyed, sulforaphane cannot form.  The researchers found boiling and microwaving broccoli, even for just one minute, destroys most of the myrosinase it contains. In contrast, they also discovered that steaming it for up to five minutes is the best way to retain the enzyme.

Psychology Today Your “Healthy” Diet Could Be Quietly Killing Your Brain

A new book challenges convention with the latest science on brain health. The book, Grain Brain, by Dr. David Perlmutter, is mind-blowing—no pun intended—and disruptive to some long-standing beliefs about what our bodies require for optimal health.

"The brain thrives on a fat-rich, low-carbohydrate diet, which unfortunately is relatively uncommon in human populations today," he says. Carbohydrates typically thought of as healthy, even brown rice, 100% whole grain bread, or quinoa—mainstays of many of the most health-conscious kitchens—cause disorders like dementia, ADHD, chronic headaches, and Alzheimer’s, over a lifetime of consumption. By removing these carbohydrates from the diet—harbingers of inflammation, the true source of problems that plague our brains and hearts—and increasing the amount of fat and cholesterol we consume, we can not only protect our most valuable organ, but also potentially, undo years of damage. Cholesterol, for example, long vilified by the media and medical community, actually promotes neurogenesis (the birth of new brain cells) and communication between neurons, to the degree that studies have shown that higher levels of serum cholesterol correlates to more robust cognitive prowess.
As the only doctor in the country who is both a board-certified neurologist and Fellow of The American Board of Nutrition, he deftly covers a topic rarely discussed: How what we eat affects the health of our brain.
Carbohydrate consumption leads to blood sugar elevation obviously in the short term, but also, in the long term as well. Persistently challenging the pancreas to secrete insulin to deal with dietary carbohydrate ultimately leads to insulin resistance, a condition directly associated with increased risk for dementia. What’s worse, insulin resistance is the forerunner of type 2 diabetes, a condition associated with a doubling of Alzheimer’s risk. In a recent report in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease., Mayo Clinic researchers showed that individuals favoring carbohydrates in their diets had a remarkable 89% increased risk for developing dementia as contrasted to those whose diets contained the most fat. Having the highest levels of fat consumption was actually found to be associated with an incredible 44% reduction in risk for developing dementia.
Two forms of fat that are vitally important for brain health are cholesterol and saturated fat.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:46 PM | Permalink

November 12, 2013

A palace made of pebbles and a garden underground

I've always been drawn to eccentrics whose passion and purpose leads them to do such amazing things

The subterranean garden and home created in California over 10 acres by a Sicilian immigrant in his spare time

 Forestiere's Subterranean Garden

Baldasare Forestiere (1879-1946) was a bit of a rebel. Sicilian-born to a wealthy father, by the age of 20, he’d had it with his controlling old man and upped sticks to America in 1901 to pursue his own future. He took jobs digging subway tunnels in New York and Boston to make ends meet until he decided to try his luck on the West Coast. Eventually settling in Fresno, California, Baldasare purchased 80 acres of land to make a life for himself as a farmer. The only problem was, the land wasn’t fit to be cultivated– at least not on the surface.

Forestiere built nearly 100 rooms, passageways and courtyards with circular holes above to allow a variety of plants and fruit-bearing trees to take root in large planters and protrude through the openings at ground level. Over a period of 40 years, he excavated oasis spans over 10 acres (all in his spare time).

The Postman who built a Palace made of Pebbles


A French postman who spent thirty years of his life building his dream home– a palace made of pebbles and stones he found along his postal route…

Ferdinand Cheval allegedly first began building his “Palais Ideale” in 1879 when he tripped over an unusual stone. Inspired by its shape, he began collecting more small stones each day. At first he would carry home the pebbles he found on his mail rounds in his pockets, but as he began collecting more, he started carrying them home in baskets, and eventually a wheelbarrow.

Ferdinand Cheval spent the first 20 years building the outer walls of the palace near his home in Drôme, France, using cement, lime and mortar to bound the stones he found together. He worked alone, after his work shift at night with just an oil lamp.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:32 PM | Permalink

The universal word known round the world - "Huh?"

I think this is wonderful.

"Huh?" is a Universal Word that Binds Confused Humans Together

There are over 7,100 known living languages being spoken in the world, and there's probably one single commonality in all of them: a universal word that binds all humanity and underscores that we are all often in the state of confusion. That word is "Huh?"

Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in The Netherlands visited native speakers of 10 very different languages on five continents and recorded over 200 casual conversations that revealed that there are versions of "Huh?" in every language they sampled - and they sound remarkably similar.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:06 PM | Permalink

"Limitless" security risks for


Sheryl Attkinsson reports  Memo warned of "limitless" security risks for

CBS News has learned that the project manager in charge of building the federal health care website was apparently kept in the dark about serious failures in the website's security.

Henry Chao,'s chief project manager at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), gave nine hours of closed-door testimony to the House Oversight Committee in advance of this week's hearing. In excerpts CBS News has obtained, Chao was asked about a memo that outlined important security risks discovered in the insurance system.

Chao said he was unaware of a Sept. 3 government memo written by another senior official at CMS. It found two high-risk issues, which are redacted for security reasons. The memo said "the threat and risk potential (to the system) is limitless." The memo shows CMS gave deadlines of mid-2014 and early 2015 to address them.

But Chao testified he'd been told the opposite.
Late Monday, Health and Human Services told CBS News the privacy and security of consumers' personal information are a top priority, and consumers can trust their information is protected by stringent security standards. The author of the security memo, Tony Trenkle, retired from CMS last week; no reason was given.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:22 AM | Permalink

November 11, 2013

Why we honor all veterans today

Today we honor all veterans day, living and dead.

 What Is A Veteran

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:12 AM | Permalink

November 8, 2013

"30,000 pigs"

Best of the best newspaper corrections from the New Zealand Listener

“Last Sunday, The Herald erroneously reported that original Dolphin Johnny Holmes had been an insurance salesman in Raleigh, NC, that he had won the New York lottery in 1982 and lost the money in a land swindle, that he had been charged with vehicular homicide but acquitted because his mother said she drove the car, and that he stated that the funniest thing he ever saw was Flipper spouting water on George Wilson. Each of these items was erroneous material published inadvertently. He was not an insurance salesman in Raleigh, did not win the lottery, neither he nor his mother was charged or involved in any way with a vehicular homicide, and he made no comment about Flipper or George Wilson. The Herald regrets the errors.”
Miami Herald, 1986

“There was an error printed in a story titled ‘Pigs float down the Dawson’ on Page 11 of yesterday’s Bully. The story, by reporter Daniel Burdon, said ‘more than 30,000 pigs were floating down the Dawson River’. What Baralaba piggery owner Sid Everingham actually said was ’30 sows and pigs’, not ’30,000 pigs’. The Morning Bulletin would like to apologise for this error, which was also reprinted in today’s Rural Weekly CQ before the mistake was known.”
Morning Bulletin, Australia

1. “An Oct. 14 Style article about access to the prison camp for terrorism suspects at the US naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, incorrectly referred to Navy Capt. Robert Durand as ‘thickset’. He should have been described as muscular.”
Washington Post, 2013

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:01 AM | Permalink

November 5, 2013

Complacency and Cognitive Bias Can Blind

What ties these four articles together is the pernicious effect of complacency and cognitive bias that blinds minds .  Atheists think they know what believers mean by God; Theology is only for the devout.  Peer-reviewed scientific studies are all true.  Automating tasks makes us smarter

Father Robert  Barron on why Atheists Don't Get God

It is not so much that Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins disagree with Thomas Aquinas on the existence of God; it is that neither Hitchens nor Dawkins has any real grasp of what Aquinas even means when he speaks of God.

To a person, the new atheists hold that God is some being in the world, the maximum instance, if you want, of the category of "being." But this is precisely what Aquinas and serious thinkers in all of the great theistic traditions hold that God is not. Thomas explicitly states that God is not in any genus, including that most generic genus of all, namely being. He is not one thing or individual -- however supreme -- among many. Rather, God is, in Aquinas's pithy Latin phrase, esse ipsum subsistens, the sheer act of being itself.
I often tease the critics of religion who take pride in the rigor of their rationalism. I tell them that, though they are willing to ask and answer all sorts of questions about reality, they become radically uncurious, irrational even, just when the most interesting question of all is posed: why is there something rather than nothing? Why should the universe exist at all?

Study Theology, Even If You Don't Believe in God  writes Tara Burton in the Atlantic

While the study of history taught me the story of humanity on a broader scale, the study of theology allowed me insight into the minds and hearts, fears and concerns, of those in circumstances were so wildly different from my own.
If history and comparative religion alike offer us perspective on world events from the “outside,” the study of theology offers us a chance to study those same events “from within”: an opportunity to get inside the heads of those whose beliefs and choices shaped so much of our history, and who—in the world outside the ivory tower—still shape plenty of the world today. That such avenues of inquiry have virtually vanished from many of the institutions where they were once best explored is hardly a triumph of progress or of secularism. Instead, the absence of theology in our universities is an unfortunate example of blindness—willful or no—to the fact that engagement with the past requires more than mere objective or comparative analysis. It requires a willingness to look outside our own perspectives in order engage with the great questions—and questioners—of history on their own terms. Even Dawkins might well agree with that.

I have to remember when I quote from scientific studies that  Science has lost its way, at a big cost to humanity  writes Michael Hiltzik in the LA Times.

A  few years ago, scientists at the Thousand Oaks biotech firm Amgen set out to double-check the results of 53 landmark papers in their fields of cancer research and blood biology.  The idea was to make sure that research on which Amgen was spending millions of development dollars still held up. They figured that a few of the studies would fail the test — that the original results couldn't be reproduced because the findings were especially novel or described fresh therapeutic approaches.

But what they found was startling: Of the 53 landmark papers, only six could be proved valid.

"Even knowing the limitations of preclinical research," observed C. Glenn Begley, then Amgen's head of global cancer research, "this was a shocking result."

Unfortunately, it wasn't unique. A group at Bayer HealthCare in Germany similarly found that only 25% of published papers on which it was basing R&D projects could be validated, suggesting that projects in which the firm had sunk huge resources should be abandoned. Whole fields of research, including some in which patients were already participating in clinical trials, are based on science that hasn't been, and possibly can't be, validated.
The demand for sexy results, combined with indifferent follow-up, means that billions of dollars in worldwide resources devoted to finding and developing remedies for the diseases that afflict us all is being thrown down a rathole. NIH and the rest of the scientific community are just now waking up to the realization that science has lost its way, and it may take years to get back on the right path.

All Can Be Lost: The Risk of Putting Our Knowledge in the Hands of Machines by Nicholas Carr in the Atlantic
We rely on computers to fly our planes, find our cancers, design our buildings, audit our businesses. That's all well and good. But what happens when the computer fails?

Automation has become so sophisticated that on a typical passenger flight, a human pilot holds the controls for a grand total of just three minutes. What pilots spend a lot of time doing is monitoring screens and keying in data. They’ve become, it’s not much of an exaggeration to say, computer operators....Overuse of automation erodes pilots’ expertise and dulls their reflexes, leading to what Jan Noyes, an ergonomics expert at Britain’s University of Bristol, terms “a de-skilling of the crew.”
Psychologists have found that when we work with computers, we often fall victim to two cognitive ailments—complacency and bias—that can undercut our performance and lead to mistakes.....The way computers can weaken awareness and attentiveness points to a deeper problem. Automation turns us from actors into observers. Instead of manipulating the yoke, we watch the screen. That shift may make our lives easier, but it can also inhibit the development of expertise.
Whether it’s a pilot on a flight deck, a doctor in an examination room, or an Inuit hunter on an ice floe, knowing demands doing. One of the most remarkable things about us is also one of the easiest to overlook: each time we collide with the real, we deepen our understanding of the world and become more fully a part of it. While we’re wrestling with a difficult task, we may be motivated by an anticipation of the ends of our labor, but it’s the work itself—the means—that makes us who we are. Computer automation severs the ends from the means. It makes getting what we want easier, but it distances us from the work of knowing.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:02 PM | Permalink

"Your marriage isn't for yourself, you're marrying for a family...your future children"

A Married Mom and Dad Really Do Matter: New Evidence from Canada

A study just published in the journal Review of the Economics of the Household—analyzing data from a very large, population-based sample—reveals that the children of gay and lesbian couples are only about 65 percent as likely to have graduated from high school as the children of married, opposite-sex couples. And gender matters, too: girls are more apt to struggle than boys, with daughters of gay parents displaying dramatically low graduation rates.
[The study is] a rigorous and thorough analysis of a massive, nationally-representative dataset from a country whose government has long affirmed same-sex couples and parenting. It is as close to an ideal test as we’ve seen yet.

The study’s publication continues the emergence of new, population-based research in this domain, much of which has undermined scholarly and popular claims about equivalence between same-sex and opposite-sex households echoed by activists and reflected in recent legal proceedings about same-sex marriage.
The intact, married mother-and-father household remains the gold standard for children’s progress through school. What is surprising in the Canadian data is the revelation that lesbian couples’ children fared worse, on average, than even those of single parents.

The blog post by Seth Adam Smith that's been read 4 million times in two days.  "Marriage isn't for you"

Having been married only a year and a half, I’ve recently come to the conclusion that marriage isn’t for me.....Nevertheless, falling in love with my best friend did not prevent me from having certain fears and anxieties about getting married. The nearer Kim and I approached the decision to marry, the more I was filled with a paralyzing fear. Was I ready? Was I making the right choice? Was Kim the right person to marry? Would she make me happy?

Then, one fateful night, I shared these thoughts and concerns with my dad.

Perhaps each of us have moments in our lives when it feels like time slows down or the air becomes still and everything around us seems to draw in, marking that moment as one we will never forget.

My dad giving his response to my concerns was such a moment for me. With a knowing smile he said, “Seth, you’re being totally selfish. So I’m going to make this really simple: marriage isn’t for you. You don’t marry to make yourself happy, you marry to make someone else happy. More than that, your marriage isn’t for yourself, you’re marrying for a family. Not just for the in-laws and all of that nonsense, but for your future children. Who do you want to help you raise them? Who do you want to influence them? Marriage isn’t for you. It’s not about you. Marriage is about the person you married.”

It was in that very moment that I knew that Kim was the right person to marry. I realized that I wanted to make her happy; to see her smile every day, to make her laugh every day. I wanted to be a part of her family, and my family wanted her to be a part of ours. And thinking back on all the times I had seen her play with my nieces, I knew that she was the one with whom I wanted to build our own family.

Seth Adam Smith and his wife Kim

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:52 AM | Permalink

November 1, 2013

93 million people will be unable to keep their current insurance under Obamacare UPDATED

I don't have time in my life to write much about the Obamacare debacle which I saw coming for years except to say it's even worse than I could have imagined.  It looks like most of the 19 million people who buy their health insurance on their own, using their own money, face cancellation of the policies they now hold  and will have to find and more likely more expensive coverage.

Instapundit says So many layers of disaster here. It’s like peeling an onion of fail.

Charles Krauthammer writes Every disaster has its moment of clarity.

Physicist Richard Feynman dunks an O-ring into ice water and everyone understands instantly why the shuttle Challenger exploded. This week, the Obamacare O-ring froze for all the world to see: Hundreds of thousands of cancellation letters went out to people who had been assured a dozen times by the president that “If you like your health-care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health-care plan. Period.”

That presidential pledge gets four pinocochios from the Washington Post's Fact Checker

But it's going to get a lot worse when the employer mandate - which Obama unilaterally postponed for year - kicks in.

Avik Roy reports in Forbes Oama officials knew in 2010 that  93 Million Americans Will Be Unable To Keep Their Health Plans Under Obamacare

It turns out that in an obscure report buried in a June 2010 edition of the Federal Register, administration officials predicted massive disruption of the private insurance market.
Section 1251 of the Affordable Care Act contains what’s called a “grandfather” provision that, in theory, allows people to keep their existing plans if they like them. But subsequent regulations from the Obama administration interpreted that provision so narrowly as to prevent most plans from gaining this protection.

“The Departments’ mid-range estimate is that 66 percent of small employer plans and 45 percent of large employer plans will relinquish their grandfather status by the end of 2013,” wrote the administration on page 34,552 of the Register. All in all, more than half of employer-sponsored plans will lose their “grandfather status” and become illegal. According to the Congressional Budget Office, 156 million Americans—more than half the population—was covered by employer-sponsored insurance in 2013.

US News and World Report. Top Hospitals Opt Out of Obamacare.

Bizarre maternity care requirement  The  only people not forced to get maternity coverage are women under 30.    James Taranto writes in Best of the Web, President Haze

First, it's not only men who are forced to buy maternity coverage they are physically incapable of using. So are women in the stage of life between childbearing age and Medicare eligibility.  Second, under-30s are exempt. That's right, the geniuses who wrote ObamaCare are forcing everyone to buy maternity care except the age cohort that includes women at peak fertility. appears to violate White House guidance on web security

Other perverse incentives

Massive financial penalties for married couples or what the Heritage Foundation calls the New Federal Wedding Tax

Obamacare will cause people to freeze in geographic location.

Insurance companies cannot compete across state lines, so your policy is only portable within your state. That’s bad for economic development. A person now has to deal with 50 sets of rules, 50 exchanges. Obamacare didn’t solve the problem.
There will be people that stay in place because of insurance costs from one state to the next. I have looked, and personally for me my costs of insurance go up exponentially when I move out of state.

In our old broken healthcare system, employers would pick up the difference. As our society transitions to an independent worker society, and insurance isn’t tied to job, individuals will be forced to pick up the cost.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:15 PM | Permalink