September 30, 2014

"Young women today do not understand the fragility of civilization and the constant nearness of savage nature."

Camille Paglia talks sense again.  Will young women listen?

The Modern Campus Cannot Comprehend Evil

Young women today do not understand the fragility of civilization and the constant nearness of savage nature.

The disappearance of University of Virginia sophomore Hannah Graham two weeks ago is the latest in a long series of girls-gone-missing cases that often end tragically. ...

Wildly overblown claims about an epidemic of sexual assaults on American campuses are obscuring the true danger to young women, too often distracted by cellphones or iPods in public places: the ancient sex crime of abduction and murder. Despite hysterical propaganda about our “rape culture,” the majority of campus incidents being carelessly described as sexual assault are not felonious rape (involving force or drugs) but oafish hookup melodramas, arising from mixed signals and imprudence on both sides.

Colleges should stick to academics and stop their infantilizing supervision of students’ dating lives, an authoritarian intrusion that borders on violation of civil liberties. Real crimes should be reported to the police, not to haphazard and ill-trained campus grievance committees.

Too many young middleclass women, raised far from the urban streets, seem to expect adult life to be an extension of their comfortable, overprotected homes. But the world remains a wilderness. The price of women’s modern freedoms is personal responsibility for vigilance and self-defense….

The horrors and atrocities of history have been edited out of primary and secondary education except where they can be blamed on racism, sexism, and imperialism — toxins embedded in oppressive outside structures that must be smashed and remade. But the real problem resides in human nature, which religion as well as great art sees as eternally torn by a war between the forces of darkness and light.

Liberalism lacks a profound sense of evil ….Misled by the naive optimism and “You go, girl!” boosterism of their upbringing, young women do not see the animal eyes glowing at them in the dark. They assume that bared flesh and sexy clothes are just a fashion statement containing no messages that might be misread and twisted by a psychotic. They do not understand the fragility of civilization and the constant nearness of savage nature.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:26 AM | Permalink

September 29, 2014

Intolerance of Christians in the U.S.

Princeton Professor Robert George, Cultural Elite Can No Longer Tolerate Christians  in a message he wished he didn't have to deliver

“Christians, and those rejecting the me-generation liberal dogma of ‘if it feels good do it,’ are no longer tolerable by the intellectual and cultural elite,” says George, 59, director of the James Madison program at Princeton University. Citing the political witch hunt that forced Brendan Eich’s departure as CEO of Mozilla for a small contribution to a conservative political cause, George said politically correct mobs “threaten us with consequences if we refuse to call what is good evil, and what is evil, good. They command us to confirm our thinking to their orthodoxy, or else say nothing at all.”

His practical advice to the embattled faithful is "to hold these elites to their principles"

But what if those elites don't hold these principles anymore?  As Roger Kimball writes In The Fate of Free Speech,

Senate Democrats, led by Harry Reid, had actually introduced a bill to challenge key provisions of the First Amendment.  Yes, you read that aright. Democratic senators have proposed to gut the First Amendment. If passed, the provision would enable Congress to ban movies, books, and other forms of expression that bore on political controversies. Breathtaking, is it not? As far as I can tell from here, public response to this outrageous attack on free speech has been muted
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It is extraordinary, is it not, that various Islamic groups, often with the collusion of Western politicians, including Hillary Clinton, are proposing to resurrect blasphemy laws , making it illegal — illegal —  to “insult” Mohammed or criticize Islam? The end of their efforts is a “global censorship regime.”  We’re not there yet, not quite, but we’re well on the road.  One sign of the success of this campaign is the systematic reluctance of Western leaders to describe Islamic terrorism as, well, Islamic terrorism.
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Perhaps the overarching condition that threatens free speech is the spread of political correctness. This has sharply curtailed candor about all manner of contentious subjects.  It is no longer possible, in polite society, to speak frankly about race, about differences between the sexes, or a hundred other topics — so-called “climate change,” for example, or the relationship between Islam and free speech….A reluctance to speak the truth instills an unwillingness or even inability to see the truth. Thus it is that the reign of political correctness quietly aids and abets habits of complacency and unfreedom.
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It took several centuries and much blood and toil to wrest freedom from the recalcitrant forces of arbitrary power. It is a melancholy fact that what took ages to achieve can be undone in the twinkling of an eye. It seems to me that we are at a crossroads where our complacency colludes dangerously with the blunt opportunism of events.  Courage, Aristotle once observed, is the most important virtue because without courage we are unable to practice the other virtues. The life of freedom requires the courage to recognize and to name the realities that impinge upon us.


Last month, with the courage of a man who is dying, Francis Cardinal George wrote A Tale of Two Churches

The “ruling class,” those who shape public opinion in politics, in education, in communications, in entertainment, is using the civil law to impose its own form of morality on everyone. We are told that, even in marriage itself, there is no difference between men and women, although nature and our very bodies clearly evidence that men and women are not interchangeable at will in forming a family. Nevertheless, those who do not conform to the official religion, we are warned, place their citizenship in danger.
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It takes no moral courage to conform to government and social pressure. It takes a deep faith to “swim against the tide,” as Pope Francis recently encouraged young people to do at last summer’s World Youth Day.

Swimming against the tide means limiting one’s access to positions of prestige and power in society. It means that those who choose to live by the Catholic faith will not be welcomed as political candidates to national office, will not sit on editorial boards of major newspapers, will not be at home on most university faculties, will not have successful careers as actors and entertainers. Nor will their children, who will also be suspect. Since all public institutions, no matter who owns or operates them, will be agents of the government and conform their activities to the demands of the official religion, the practice of medicine and law will become more difficult for faithful Catholics. It already means in some States that those who run businesses must conform their activities to the official religion or be fined, as Christians and Jews are fined for their religion in countries governed by Sharia law.


Harvey Silvergate writes in the Wall St Journal about A Campus Crusade Against the Constitution Limiting First Amendment rights for Christians undercuts rights for everyone else.

Thus the current controversy surrounding evangelical Christian organizations on college campuses is a test of our commitment to liberal and constitutional ideals.  Earlier this month the California State University System "de-recognized" 23 campus chapters of the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship (IVCF). This decision stems from a December 2011 chancellor's executive order stating that "No campus shall recognize any . . . student organization unless its membership and leadership are open to all currently enrolled students."
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The new policy has insidious implications. Any student may attend IVCF meetings or participate in its activities regardless of belief. But because IVCF asks its leaders to affirm their adherence to evangelical Christian doctrine—a "belief" requirement—California state-university administrators have deemed the group discriminatory. IVCF chapters will no longer have use of certain campus facilities and benefits available to other groups. This policy guts the free association right that was enshrined in the First Amendment precisely to protect minority or unpopular views.

It is obvious why IVCF would want to restrict leadership to true believers. It would be anomalous for a conventional religious group of any kind to open its top leadership to, say, atheists who would want to change the group's beliefs and activities. The pope has to be Catholic, after all.

Rod Dreher is following the story of a California charter school that "removed from its shelves The Hiding Place,

the fantastic memoir of Corrie ten Boom, the Dutch Christian woman who was sent, along with her father and sister, to a concentration camps for the crime of hiding Jews in Nazi-occupied Holland …..Reading The Hiding Place as a kid dramatically affected me. The moral heroism of the ten Booms sensitized me to the effects of anti-Semitism, and taught me what Christians must do if ever we are in a situation where persecuted people rely on us for protection. And, crucially, the fact that Corrie survived the concentration camps and emerged to exhort others to forgive and be reconciled with the barbarians who did this evil, staggered me.
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The nation of Israel, in the name of the Jewish people, bestowed upon this Dutch Calvinist woman the highest honor the Jewish state can give to Gentiles, in grateful recognition of her service. Yet this secular charter school in California finds her story too offensive to tell to American schoolchildren.

In Part 3, despite the report that  "One of the library attendants that the library has been instructed to remove all books with a Christian message, authored by Christians, or published by a Christian publishing company" and another that a recording of Bach's
Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" was not allowed because it was Christian, the real problem may lie in "an overly bureaucratic system tied in knots as it tries to be all things to all people."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:34 PM | Permalink

We've all had the experience of akihi

Wonderful Foreign Words With No English Equivalent, Illustrated

 Akihi

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:08 AM | Permalink

September 28, 2014

Weekend Miscellany

O Magnum Mysterium:" The Persistence of Sacred Beauty

After many years of ignorant acceptance of one gruesome and ugly step downward in art after another that I witnessed when I wandered around in New York's overheated and overhyped art scene, I came to the reluctant conclusion that most contemporary art was garbage, that it had no soul, and that deep down… it was shallow….

For at the core of all the objects that form the mountain of crap that is palmed off as "art," there is simply and plainly, nothing at all. Nothing felt, nothing sensed, nothing learned, and nothing believed in. As such it is without soul. And nothing that lacks soul can survive death, especially the death of a culture and our present state …

Which is why it is so reviving to come across Lauridsen's citing of the magic and mystery of a painting that inspires music from his soul across more than three and a half centuries. It reminds us that art that is true, that art that comes from belief and the soul, will survive and will continue to expand the soul of man despite all the forces that may array themselves against "the good, the beautiful and whether or not something is true."
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In discussing the origin of his chorale composition, "O Magnum Mysterium," in the early 1990s, Lauridsen cites as his primary inspiration a painting done in 1633, more than three and a half centuries before The painting is Francisco de Zurbarán's "Still Life With Lemons, Oranges and a Rose."

 Francisco De Zurbarán - Still-Life With Lemons, Oranges And Rose - Wga26062

Listen to the beauty of Lauridsen's "O Magnum Mysterium," here.

Art of Manliness Love Is All You Need: Insights from the Longest Longitudinal Study on Men Ever Conducted

In Reason, David Harsanyi contemplates  The Countercultural Appeal of 19 Kids and Counting

Considering what we see on TV, it's basically transgressive. A place where homeschooling is treated as a reasonable way to educate your children, where kids talk about "honoring" their parents rather than demanding things from them, and where older kids start successful small businesses without a traditional college education.
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19 Kids and Counting is basically the most earnest show I've ever watched. And while almost any mainstream show I grew up watching saw social conservatives through a political prism—irrational and hopeless—the Duggars' charitable spirit allows people to see the manifestation of religious ideals in real-time. Or so this apostate imagines. In any event, it's almost impossible to not be charmed.
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By any measure, their lives should rub my secular sensibilities the wrong way, and the austerity of their beliefs are still somewhat off-putting. But whether you believe the family's lifestyle is optimal or not—and I don't—you can learn from them. What will most impress any parent is the boundless patience Jim Bob and Michelle have towards their many children. They handle situations with calmness and purpose, focusing on preparing capable adults, but also good people. Which all sounds terribly boring, but it's not. I never imagined that I would ever find myself asking the question "What would Jim Bob do?" … But, well, there it is.

Now, I certainly don't want to be a Duggar, but I have to confess that I want to be more like a Duggar than I am right now. Or maybe I just need a break from all the cynicism. So what?

Why Germans pay cash for almost everything

But the real point isn’t that Germans love cash. It’s that—for the same historical reasons—they loathe debt. (Armchair anthropologists have also long noted that German word for debt—Schulden—comes from the word for guilt, Schuld.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:34 PM | Permalink

“The wife has a bad snore on her"

An Irish plumber dug a tunnel from under his bed to the local pub and used it every night for 5 years leaving at 11 pm and returning at 1 in the morning without ever being detected by his sleeping wife.

Patsy Kerr from Omagh explained why

"“The wife has a bad snore on her and after watching the Shawshank Redemption on RTE one night in 1994, I decided to do something about it so I waited til she was in a deep sleep and then set about digging a hole under the bed in the direction of the pub. I used all manner of tools from spoons to a heavy duty tunnel boring machine I managed to sneak down there when she was at the shops. It wasn’t until 2009 that I hit the jackpot and came up through the women’s toilet mop and bucket room.”

He was caught only when a collapsed sewage pipe from a neighboring house turned out to be caused by a pipe Kerr had accidentally hit  causing sewage to leak into the tunnel.   

Patsy Kerr, summoned to the Omagh County Court explained why he was glad to be caught.

"“To be honest I was sort of glad I was caught. She was always smelling drink off me in the morning and I was explaining it away as a natural odor. But recently I was finding myself singing rebel songs and stuff coming back up the tunnel and it was only a matter of time before I was caught anyhow. The landlord was also wondering how I was just appearing out of nowhere at the same time every night and disappearing from the women’s toilets.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:14 AM | Permalink

September 27, 2014

Jihad in America UPDATED

When Colleen Hufford woke up, she never could have imagined she would be beheaded at work.

Alton Nolen, who now goes by Jah'Keem Yisrael, a convert to Islam, decapitated Hufford and was stabbing Traci Johnson  with the intent of beheading her when he was shot and wounded by Mark Vaughan, CEO of Vaughan Foods and a reserve deputy sheriff carrying a concealed handgun

In a statement, Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel said:  "Mark put an end to the threat by shooting the suspect and saving the life of a second victim who was being actively attacked by the suspect.  There is every reason to believe that the lives of untold others were saved who would have been targeted by the suspect if it hadn't been for Deputy Vaughan’s actions."

Fired Muslim convert store-worker who beheaded female colleague lost his job 'in argument over stoning women'

The Muslim convert who allegedly beheaded a female co-worker was arguing with his colleagues about whether it is acceptable to stone women to death the day he launched his attack, it has been claimed.

Alton Alexander Nolen, 30, was trying to convince workers that Islam teaches that the punishment is acceptable on Thursday, shortly before he was fired from his job at Vaughan Foods in Moore, Oklahoma, according to local media. He returned the same day and lashed out at colleagues Colleen Hufford and Traci Johnson with a knife, police said.

He allegedly beheaded Ms Hufford and stabbed Ms Johnson - and would have continued his rampage had he not been shot by the store's CEO. According to Truth Revolt, a family told a local Oklahoma paper Nolen was telling co-workers about an unspecified Islamic teaching which - Nolen claimed - said women should be stoned for committing certain offenses.

He survived the injury and was hospitalized, while Ms Johnson remains in stable condition in hospital.

Now, it has emerged that Nolen apparently celebrated terrorism, promoted Islam and disparaged non-Muslims in a series of posts on Facebook in the months leading up to the alleged killing.  Under the name Jah'Keem Yisrael, the suspect posted an image of Pope Benedict XVI to the social networking site, accompanied by the caption: 'SHARIA LAW IS COMING!!'…..  Other posts saw Nolen reading the Koran, donning Muslim religious clothing, praying in a mosque and seemingly performing the one-figure salute of the Islamic State terror group.

Earlier this year, Nolen, whose Facebook cover photo appears to show several Taliban fighters, posted a photo of the 9/11 attacks, writing: 'A future prophecy revelation 18.8. She (the Statue of Liberty) is going into flames. She and anybody who's with her',

 Facebookbeheader Nolan posted this picture of himself on his Facebook page on Sept 5  standing in front of the gates of the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City.  His caption read “At The Masjid (Mosque)Today For Jumar 9/5/2014 & Peforming Wudu!!!”

Roger Simon asks Have Our Prisons Become Jihad Factories

Was Nolen motivated by jihad or workplace revenge or a cocktail of both?  Probably both. He had a checkered past.  He had been convicted in January 2011 of “multiple drug offenses, assault and battery on a police officer and escape from detention,” according to state records.  He was released from prison in March 2013.

We don’t know the extent to which Nolen’s conversion to Islam occurred in prison, although it is highly likely most of it did.  This is surely worth investigating. Such conversions are a monumental powder keg in the process of going off.  From Wikipedia:

J. Michael Waller claims that Muslim inmates comprise 17-20% of the prison population in New York, or roughly 350,000 inmates in 2003. He also claims that 80% of the prisoners who “find faith” while in prison convert to Islam.[1] These converted inmates are mostly African American, with a small but growing Hispanic minority.[2] Waller also asserts that many converts are radicalized by outside Islamist groups linked to terrorism….

Just last June, Homegrown jihadist shoots N.J. teen 8 times, calling it a ‘just kill’

Brendan Tevlin, of Livingston, was stopped at a red light driving home from a friend’s house on June 25 when Ali Muhammad Brown allegedly walked up his car and fired 10 rounds, striking him eight times.

Mr. Brown then drove the car, with Tevlin’s lifeless body still in it, to a parking lot in West Orange and left him there, Fox News reported.

….Mr. Brown had undergone extensive Jihad training in California and that he’s suspected of additional murders throughout the country, a local Fox affiliate reported.

Mr. Brown allegedly called Tevlin’s death “a just kill” for Muslim deaths at the hands of Americans in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan.

Who can forget the Fort Hood shooter, Nidal Hassan.  A former United States Army psychiatrist and Medical Corps officer, Hassan shouted Allahu Akbar! before fatally shooting 13 people and injuring more than 30 others at Fort Hood  on November 5, 2009. Prior to the shooting the Army and the FBI concluded that his many emails to the late Anwar al-Awiaki were in the nature of 'research' and that he was not a threat.  The Department of Defense called the mass shootings 'workplace violence.'  In 2013, after a court marital, he was convicted of 13 counts of murder and sentenced to death.

Nassan has written a letter to the leader of the Islamic State, Ameer, Mujahid Dr. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.”

“I formally and humbly request to be made a citizen of the Islamic State.”

UPDATE:  Ben Shapiro on seven other recent cases of lone wolf Islamic attacks inside the United States in recent years:

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:42 PM | Permalink

John Malkovich transformed

John Malkovich transforms himself into Marilyn Monroe, Albert Einstein, Truman Capote, Ernest Hemingway, Alfred Hitchcock, The Joker, John Lennon, Salvador Dali, Bette Davis, Pablo Picasso, Che Guevera and others in an astonishing series of photographs by Sandro Miller. who said, 'I can suggest a mood or an idea and within moments, he literally morphs into the character right in front of my eyes.'

 Malkovich As Einstein

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:27 AM | Permalink

September 24, 2014

Health roundup: Sweeteners, depression, wine and junk food

Low-calorie sweeteners found in diet drinks RAISE the risk of obesity and diabetes by affecting how the body processes sugar

The sweeteners under the microscope are saccharin, which is found in Sweet’N Low, sucralose, which is found in Splenda, and aspartame, which is found in many diet drinks.
The Israeli researchers that ‘today’s massive, unsupervised consumption’ of artificial sweeteners needs to be reassessed.

The researchers, from the Weizmann Institute of Science, first showed that all three sweeteners made it more difficult for mice to process sugar. This is known as glucose intolerance and is important because it raises risk of developing diabetes and obesity.


In a study of almost 400 people, the researchers linked artificial sweetener with being fatter and glucose intolerance.And, worryingly, volunteers who didn’t normally eat or drink artificially-sweetened foods began to become glucose intolerant after just four days of consumption. The numbers affected were small – just four out of seven men and women in the trial – but the research overall was judged significant enough to be published in Nature one of the world’s most prestigious scientific journals.

Blood test for depression developed after scientists discover the condition causes a spike in certain chemicals

At present, clinical depression can take several months to diagnose as doctors try to decide whether the patient has the condition or whether they are simply experiencing natural feelings of sadness caused by an event or tragedy.
But scientists from Northwestern University in Chicago say they have identified nine chemicals in the blood which are raised during depression.  They have devised a blood test which measures three of these chemicals to diagnose depression.

Antidepressants can affect the brain in just three HOURS - not weeks, as previously thought

A single dose of antidepressant medication is enough to produce dramatic changes in the brain within three hours, a study has found. Volunteers had their brains scanned after taking the widely-prescribed drug escitalopram, marketed in the UK as Cipralex and Lexapro in the U.S.  The drug is a serotonin re-uptake inhibitor (SSRI) and aims to boost the level of this ‘feel-good’ chemical in the brain.  SSRIs are believed to change brain connectivity in important ways, but the effects had generally been thought to take place over a period of weeks, not hours.

Exercising during chemotherapy can 'dramatically help shrink tumors', scientists find

Combining exercise with chemotherapy boosts the cancer-fighting effects of the drugs more than the treatment alone.
U.S. researchers discovered those who exercised while receiving chemotherapy had 'significantly smaller' tumors after two weeks than those that had only received common chemotherapy drug 'doxorubicin'.
They believe this could be because exercise increases blood flow to the tumor, bringing with it more of the drug in the bloodstream.

A lot of people are going to use this as an excuse.  Is Drinking Wine Better Than Going To The Gym? According To Scientists, Yes!

Jason Dyck and other science researchers in the University of Alberta in Canada found that red wine, nuts and grapes have a complex called resveratrol which improves heart, muscle and bone functions; the same way they’re improved when one goes to the gym. Resveratrol proved to be an effective antioxidant when tested on rodents which is why scientists are planning on testing it with diabetics. If results are positive for the benefits of the complex, patient’s heart health could be improved just as much as it does when they work out vigorously.

I Had a Stroke at 33.  A stroke that saved her life because they found a hole in her heart.

For a month, every moment of the day was like the moment upon wakening before you figure out where you are, what time it is. I was not completely aware of what had happened to me. I was not completely aware of my deficits, in an ignorance-is-bliss sort of way. I was unable to fret about the past, or the uncertainty of the future.
The sun is bright. The leaves rustle. This is the wind on my face. I am alive.
This is the thing: People pay a lot of money to live like that. To live in the present tense.

10 Similarities Between Sugar, Junk Food and Abusive Drugs

1. Junk Foods Flood The Brain With Dopamine…stimulating the same areas as drugs of abuse like cocaine.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:57 AM | Permalink

Our Paper of Record

The New York Times

Correction: September 23, 2014
An article on Sept. 11 about President Obama’s speech to the nation describing his plans for a military campaign against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, gave an incorrect comparison between efforts by the president to seek allies’ support for his plans and President George W. Bush’s efforts on such backing for the Iraq war. The approach Mr. Obama is taking is similar to the one Mr. Bush took; it is not the case that, “Unlike Mr. Bush in the Iraq war, Mr. Obama has sought to surround the United States with partners.”

Truth Revolt comments

It only took the Times two weeks to correct this basic factual error. But the error has a point: to differentiate good, wise, holy and just Obama from evil supervillain George W. Bush. The New York Times is simply fulfilling Obama’s central life function: not being George W. Bush.

In point of fact, Barack Obama had a total of nine allies in his battle against ISIS as of September 5. George W. Bush’s original “coalition of the willing” had 48 countries as members.


Bush also got authorization from Congress for the use of military force against Iraq, something President Obama has failed to do before bombing ISIS in Syria and Iraq.    Congress passed the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution by Congress, on March 18, 2003.

In yet another egregious error for which the New York Times has yet to issue a correction appeared in a travel article published on September 16, 2014 entitled Hoping War-Weary Tourist Will Return to Israel

…"Nearby the vast Church of the Holy Sepulcher marking the site where many Christians believe that Jesus is buried ……"

 Nyt Jesus Is Buried

Surreptitiously, they changed the tense from  "is" to "was" in a new version of the story.    Mollie Hemingway asks Will Someone Explain Christianity to the New York Times?

Are you smarter than a New York Times copy editor? Did you know that Christians do not believe Jesus is buried in a tomb in Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre because they believe he rose from the dead? Oh you did know that basic teaching of the world’s largest religion? Congratulations.

A hint that’s good for journalists confused on the matter is to consider the church also goes by the name “The Church of the Resurrection.”

Or to visit the tomb for yourself and note that it does not contain the relics of Jesus Christ. Or to read Scriptural accounts of what went down on that first Sunday of the Resurrection. Here are relevant links to the account in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ — which is tied to the empty tomb — is arguably the most influential event in human history. It’s really something one should know about.

No wonder a recent Gallup poll shows that 60% of Americans don't trust mass media

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:30 AM | Permalink

September 23, 2014

Who's really supports poor inner city students?

The Ancient Rule of St Benedict  Building Hope in Inner City School in Newark  via The Deacon's Bench

Released last week, “The Rule” is a documentary about St. Benedict’s, a Catholic high school in Newark’s heart that for a century and a half has served as an academic haven for the often-embattled young men there.  The school is run by the monks of Newark Abbey in accord with the principles set out in the 1,500-year old Rule of Saint Benedict. Originally intended as a guide for creating self-governing communities of faith in 6th century Italy, the rule can also turn poor, sometimes neglected boys into young men of integrity and promise.

St. Benedict’s graduates virtually all its students and sends them on to college, where 85 percent finish. By comparison, less than a third of Newark’s public-high-school students graduate in four years.

The secrets to St. Benedict’s success are no mystery. The teachers are dedicated and invested in the students’ lives. Some students live on campus, removing them from the distractions of chaotic homes. There is zero tolerance for drugs, violence or gangs. One offense and you’re out.  As one monk says, “You can only be in one gang — ours.”
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The motto that forms the basis of this community is “whatever hurts my brother hurts me,” and students take that to heart.
In trying to explain the success of St. Benedict’s amidst the failure of Newark, Father Ed says, “what we don’t have in Newark is a sense of connectedness, that’s why people can shoot each other.”

Watch the 2.5  trailer of The Rule on Vimeo and be amazed.

Not everyone wants to help the childrenDespite proven academic success of NYC’s charter schools, the mayor and unions are waging a war on city’s charter kids

Harlem Success Academy 3, an elementary school where 95.2% of the students are black or Hispanic and 80% are from poor households who qualify for free or discounted lunch, performed better on standardized reading and math tests than 99.5% of all elementary schools in the state.
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Wouldn’t you think that these Harlem charter schools would be recognized as academic models for the rest of the city and the state?
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Yes, except for a few major obstacles. The Success Academy charter schools are run by Eva Moskowitz, and her network of charter schools hire only non-union teachers, who are paid well but can be fired for non-performance. So the New York City teacher unions hate Eva Moskowitz despite her “off-the-charts success” at educating black and Hispanic kids in some of the poorest neighborhoods in the city. Likewise, instead of being thrilled that so many of the city’s low-income, minority students are being educated so successfully, the new New York mayor Bill de Blasio hates charter schools just as much as the entrenched teacher unions (who are a main part of his political base of support) and he is in a ferocious battle to stop Eva Moskowitz and the spread of charter schools.

Only non-union teachers can be fired.

Further reading:
Why Catholic Schools Spell Success For America's Inner-City Children

Attention from across the political and social spectrum is shifting to the astonishing success of inner-city Catholic schools in working with the very children the public schools have abandoned as uneducable. An abundance of recent research comparing public, private, and religious schools shows that Catholic schools improve not only test scores and graduation rates for these children, but also their future economic prospects-and at a substantially lower cost.

Why Catholic Schools Matter: They’re still the best hope for poor, inner-city kids by Sol Stern

It doesn’t take long, though, for a visitor to discover St. Aloysius’s most powerful asset: the rich content of its classroom instruction. St. Aloysius exemplifies the old-fashioned notion that school is a place where children learn about our civilization’s shared knowledge and values and where teachers remain the undisputed authorities in the classroom, imparting that knowledge and those values through a coherent grade-by-grade curriculum. This traditional approach has stood the test of time.
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The St. Aloysius parents I spoke with unanimously identified the school’s strong academic focus and sense of order as the main reasons they were willing to take on tuition bills rather than settling for a free public school…… “It’s more than worth it to me,” he says. “My children come home and they get right to their homework. They have developed a love for learning that comes from their dedicated teachers and also a sense of responsibility and independence to do the hard work.”
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I was able to appreciate the power of that mission-driven culture when I attended one of St. Aloysius’s Friday afternoon staff meetings. The teachers and the principals were working on revising a statement of core principles for the school, derived from Jesuit education doctrines, called “The Graduate at Graduation.” The purpose of the document is to remind St. Aloysius teachers in every grade of the character traits and intellectual qualities that they should develop in their students before graduation.

As several teachers made clear, the underlying premise of the document was to nurture good “Christian behavior” in the children. At one point, several teachers brought up the Jesuit ideal of becoming “men and women for others” and how that might translate into specific guidelines for classroom instruction. There then ensued a wide-ranging conversation about the meaning of generosity in students’ everyday behavior.

I listened to the conversation with amazement and thought about how unlikely this would have been in any public school. The constitutional prohibitions against religion-based activities in tax-supported institutions wouldn’t be the only obstacle; another would be the entirely self-imposed taboo against encouraging such virtues and practices as sexual restraint, hard work, and charity.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:45 PM | Permalink

Science and Climate

How our botched understanding of 'science' ruins everything  By Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry

Here's one certain sign that something is very wrong with our collective mind: Everybody uses a word, but no one is clear on what the word actually means.  One of those words is "science."
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let me explain what science actually is. Science is the process through which we derive reliable predictive rules through controlled experimentation. That's the science that gives us airplanes and flu vaccines and the Internet. But what almost everyone means when he or she says "science" is something different…..

To most people, capital-S Science is the pursuit of capital-T Truth. It is a thing engaged in by people wearing lab coats and/or doing fancy math that nobody else understands. The reason capital-S Science gives us airplanes and flu vaccines is not because it is an incremental engineering process but because scientists are really smart people.  In other words — and this is the key thing — when people say "science", what they really mean is magic or truth.
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While it is a fact that increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere leads, all else equal, to higher atmospheric temperatures, the idea that we can predict the impact of global warming — and anti-global warming policies! — 100 years from now is sheer lunacy. But because it is done using math by people with tenure, we are told it is "science" even though by definition it is impossible to run an experiment on the year 2114.
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You might think of science advocate, cultural illiterate, mendacious anti-Catholic propagandist, and possible serial fabulist Neil DeGrasse Tyson and anti-vaccine looney-toon Jenny McCarthy as polar opposites on a pro-science/anti-science spectrum, but in reality they are the two sides of the same coin. Both of them think science is like magic, except one of them is part of the religion and the other isn't.
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It also means that for all our bleating about "science" we live in an astonishingly unscientific and anti-scientific society. We have plenty of anti-science people, but most of our "pro-science" people are really pro-magic (and therefore anti-science).
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Modern science is one of the most important inventions of human civilization. But the reason it took us so long to invent it and the reason we still haven't quite understood what it is 500 years later is it is very hard to be scientific. Not because science is "expensive" but because it requires a fundamental epistemic humility, and humility is the hardest thing to wring out of the bombastic animals we are.

I thought today's example of bombast would be Shawn Donovan, director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) who said on Friday  “The failure to invest in climate solutions and climate preparedness…… makes you a member of the Flat Earth Society.”
But then Robert Kennedy Jr Aspiring Tyrant said that climate change dissenters should be serving time in jail.

Climate Science Is Not Settled writes Obama appointee

We are very far from the knowledge needed to make good climate policy, writes leading scientist Steven E. Koonin who was undersecretary for science in the Energy Department during President Barack Obama's first term and is currently director of the Center for Urban Science and Progress at New York University.

The idea that "Climate science is settled" runs through today's popular and policy discussions. Unfortunately, that claim is misguided. It has not only distorted our public and policy debates on issues related to energy, greenhouse-gas emissions and the environment. But it also has inhibited the scientific and policy discussions that we need to have about our climate future.
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The crucial scientific question for policy isn't whether the climate is changing. That is a settled matter: The climate has always changed and always will….

Even though human influences could have serious consequences for the climate, they are physically small in relation to the climate system as a whole….

A second challenge to "knowing" future climate is today's poor understanding of the oceans. The oceans, which change over decades and centuries, hold most of the climate's heat and strongly influence the atmosphere. ….

A third fundamental challenge arises from feedbacks that can dramatically amplify or mute the climate's response to human and natural influences.  But feedbacks are uncertain. They depend on the details of processes such as evaporation and the flow of radiation through clouds. They cannot be determined confidently from the basic laws of physics and chemistry, so they must be verified by precise, detailed observations that are, in many cases, not yet available.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:21 AM | Permalink

September 19, 2014

Snapshots of America

1 in 4 Americans open to succession according to a Reuters / Ipsos poll
Some 23.9 percent of Americans polled from Aug. 23 through Sept. 16 said they strongly supported or tended to support the idea of their state breaking away, while 53.3 percent of the 8,952 respondents strongly opposed or tended to oppose the notion.

The urge to sever ties with Washington cuts across party lines and regions, though Republicans and residents of rural Western states are generally warmer to the idea than Democrats and Northeasterners, according to the poll.

Americans ‘surprisingly uncertain’ what their branches of government are, new survey reveals
In the relatively short survey administered to 1,416 adults and published on September 17, 2014 (Constitution Day), the APPC [Annenberg Public Policy Center ] found that 35% of respondents could not name even one branch of government in the US. Only a little more than a third of respondents (36%) could name all three branches of government.

For the first time, there are more single American adults than married ones   50.2% (30.4% never married while 19.8% are divorced or widowed.  Link has map of the U.S. showing where the singles are

Young people's trust in government drops sharply

They're often pegged as the civic-minded, do-gooding generation. But while they're still optimistic about their own personal prospects, a new study finds that today's youth are often more skeptical of the country's institutions than the young generations that preceded them.

In the mid-1970s, when baby boomers were coming of age, about a third of high school seniors agreed that "most people can be trusted."  That dropped to 18 percent in the early 1990s for Gen Xers — and then, in 2012, to just 16 percent of Millennials.
The researchers also found that Millennials' approval of major institutions — from Congress and corporations to the news media and educational and religious institutions — dropped more sharply than other generations in the decade that followed the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

American Kids Are Really Bad at Handling Money

Score another one for Chinese teenagers, who leave U.S. kids in their dust when it comes to knowing how to handle money. That's the latest anxiety-producing statistic (for American parents, anyway) to emerge out of a newly released international study of the financial habits of roughly 29,000 teens from countries as far flung as Australia, China, Colombia, France, Israel, Russia, Spain, and the U.S……

Many teens still fall woefully behind in understanding financial instruments, institutions, and the best basic ways to build wealth.

Poll: Most Americans no longer think a college education is ‘very important’

Amid a national debate about the worth of a college education, a respected annual poll about the education views held by Americans has found that only 44 percent of Americans now believe that getting a college education is “very important” — down from 75 percent four years ago.

Insty comments

That’s a brutal decline. Add to this the threat posed by the campus rape panic — chasing women away with exaggerated claims of rape, and men with quite realistic fears of the Sex Police — and college recruiting will be increasingly difficult, I expect.

Insty, aka Glenn Reynolds, a law professor in Tennessee, is the author of The New School: How the Information Age Will Save American Education from Itself

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:53 PM | Permalink

War on Poverty: Successful or Flop?

The War on Poverty Has Been a Colossal Flop

Since its beginning, U.S. taxpayers have spent $22 trillion on Johnson’s War on Poverty (in constant 2012 dollars). Adjusting for inflation, that’s three times more than was spent on all military wars since the American Revolution.

The federal government currently runs more than 80 means-tested welfare programs. These programs provide cash, food, housing and medical care to low-income Americans. Federal and state spending on these programs last year was $943 billion. (These figures do not include Social Security, Medicare, or Unemployment Insurance.)
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But today the Census will almost certainly proclaim that around 14 percent of Americans are still poor. The present poverty rate is almost exactly the same as it was in 1967 a few years after the War on Poverty started. Census data actually shows that poverty has gotten worse over the last 40 years.

How is this possible? How can the taxpayers spend $22 trillion on welfare while poverty gets worse?

The answer is it isn’t possible.  Census counts a family as poor if its income falls below specified thresholds. But in counting family “income,” Census ignores nearly the entire $943 billion welfare state.
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The typical family that Census identifies as poor has air conditioning, cable or satellite TV, and a computer in its home.
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the War on Poverty has not succeeded according to Johnson’s original goal. Johnson’s aim was not to prop up living standards by making more and more people dependent on an ever larger welfare state. Instead, Johnson sought to increase self-sufficiency, the ability of a family to support itself out of poverty without dependence on welfare aid. Johnson asserted that the War on Poverty would actually shrink the welfare rolls and transform the poor from “taxeaters” into “taxpayers.”

Judged by that standard, the War on Poverty has been a colossal flop. The welfare state has undermined self-sufficiency by discouraging work and penalizing marriage. When the War on Poverty began seven percent of children were born outside marriage. Today, 42 percent of children are. By eroding marriage, the welfare state has made many Americans less capable of self-support than they were when the War on Poverty began.

Economies Thrive On Hope, Not Jealousy

According to the World Bank, researchers found that the aspect of poverty that most concerned the poor was “fear, shame, [and] helplessness” Oddly, they did not mention income inequality or lack of material things. They wanted to be empowered and prospered by their own initiative.

Opportunity provides self-sufficiency, along with respect and pride. This, in turn, removes fear, shame, and helplessness while creating income growth and more wealth for everyone. Inversely, focusing on income inequality means government must redistribute wealth after people create it, thus creating dependency, which creates ultimately what the poor consider poverty: a perpetual state of helplessness. This also leads to resentment against those able to succeed without the condescending paternalism of government.

Focusing on income inequality does not help the poor long-term. Instead, it helps political entities that provide virtual patronage and distracts from bureaucrats’ poor handling of economic forces that require real skill to address. It’s not hard to write a check with someone else’s money. It is harder to empower growth with reasonable policies that do not punish success.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:06 AM | Permalink

September 17, 2014

They were never Arabs to begin with

Israeli Christians' New Nationality: Aramaean, not Arab

Interior Minister Gideon Saar has instructed the Population, Immigration and Border Authority (PIBA) to allow the registration of a new nationality – Aramaean – in the identity cards of Christian citizens who were registered as Arabs until now.
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Saar's decision applies to most of the Christians currently living in Israel, or about 130,000 out of a total of 160,000. They applied as a group to the Interior Ministry in 2010 and will now finally be allowed to register as Aramaeans.
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The decision “corrects a historic injustice that wrongly defined Israel's citizens of eastern-Christian descent as 'Christian Arabs,' although other than their spoken language, they have absolutely no connection to the Arab nationality,” he wrote.

In an emotional letter to Saar, Nadaf thanked him for Israeli society's “pluralism and its openness to absorbing religious and ethnic minorities out of love and acceptance, without any discrimination, according to the principles of democracy, individual freedom, freedom of conscience and freedom of worship.”

Father Nadaf said that the Christians wish to become “an inseparable part” of Israeli society make their voices heard “in the social, economic, academic and political sphere in the state of Israel.”

“This is the first time that a Middle Eatern state recognizes the Aramaean-Christian minority as a legitimate nationality and acts to preserve it, the teaching of its language and its absorption in society,” he wrote.

"In contrast with the region's countries, in which Christians and other minorities are systematically murdered, churches are destroyed and people are forced to hide their identities just because they are defined as Christians – while with every decade that the world progresses, the Arab countries go a decade backward – the state of Israel has made a giant lead forward.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:33 AM | Permalink

Health roundup: MS, Breast cancer, healthy drinking, bottled water and hold the sugar

MS. Breakthrough hope for MS treatment as scientists discover how to 'switch off' autoimmune diseases

A team at Bristol University have described their work as a 'breakthrough' after discovering a way  to stop cells from attacking healthy body tissue

In the study, scientists were able to selectively target the cells that cause autoimmune disease by dampening down their aggression against the body's own tissue, while converting them into cells capable of protecting against disease.
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The researchers have now revealed how the administration of fragments of the proteins that are normally the target for the attack leads to correction of the autoimmune response.
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The outcome is to reinstate self-tolerance, where an individual's immune system ignores its own tissues while remaining fully armed to protect against infection.  Researchers say that by specifically targeting the cells at fault, the immunotherapeutic approach avoids the need for immune suppressive drugs.

Alzheimer's Examining the evidence that sleeping pills increase the risk for Alzheimer's

There’s a whole generation of people now hitting old age who were put on drugs such as Valium and temazepam years ago and I’d argue we’re now beginning to see the long-term impact of those drugs on the brain,’ says Mr Haslam.

‘Maybe now this increased risk of Alzheimer’s associated with the drugs will finally persuade GPs to think twice before prescribing them as a long-term treatment.’

Breast cancer. Double mastectomy doesn't boost survival for most, study says

Removing both breasts to treat cancer affecting only one side doesn't boost survival chances for most women, compared with surgery that removes just the tumor, a large study suggests. The results raise concerns about riskier, potentially unnecessary operations that increasing numbers of women are choosing.

The study involved nearly 200,000 California women treated for cancer in one breast and followed for several years afterward.  Ten-year survival rates were nearly identical - roughly 82 percent - for women who had lumpectomies to remove the tumor plus radiation, and for those who had double mastectomies. Women who had a single mastectomy, removal of just the cancerous breast, fared slightly worse.

Drinking Is Healthy The decisive benefits of moderate drinking

In 2006, the Archives of Internal Medicine, an American Medical Association journal, published an analysis based on 34 well-designed prospective studies—that is, research which follows subjects for years, even decades. This meta-analysis, incorporating a million subjects, found that “1 to 2 drinks per day for women and 2 to 4 drinks per day for men are inversely associated with total mortality.”

The more alcohol a society consumes, the fewer alcohol-related problems and alcohol-related deaths (including cirrhosis) it has.  So the more you drink—up to two drinks a day for woman, and four for men—the less likely you are to die. You may have heard that before, and you may have heard it doubted. But the consensus of the science is overwhelming: It is true.

Obviously, if you are an alcoholic, you will live longer by not drinking.

Bottled water and magnesium. Unlike tap water, bottled water has little magnesium.  Drinking only bottled water can make you ill and that may be making you ill.

Nausea, bloating, exhaustion and osteoporosis can be caused by a deficiency in magnesium

This little-heard-of deficiency is surprisingly common among women — one survey found one in ten suffers from it, but some experts cite figures as high as seven in ten — and the effects can be devastating. From maintaining energy levels to steadying heart rhythm, regulating blood pressure and keeping bones strong, magnesium is vital for the body. Magnesium deficiency is hard to diagnose, so many people don’t know they have it.’

Ironically, calcium is useless without magnesium, which is why a deficiency is implicated in osteoporosis.  So experts argue that many typical manifestations of aging — loss of muscle mass, rising blood pressure and diminished nervous system function — are because the body’s ability to metabolize magnesium may decrease with age.
Dr Ferguson uses magnesium to treat migraines as it has a relaxing and calming effect on the body. A German study found a 41.6 per cent drop in migraine frequency among sufferers who were given a supplement, and it can also treat asthma by suppressing histamine production.

Hold the sugar, not the salt. Sugar could be worse for your blood pressure than salt, shock new research reveals

…. in an article in the American Journal of Cardiology, researchers led by Dr James DiNicolantonio state ‘It is sugar not the salt that may be the actual causative factor for high blood pressure.
‘This notion is supported by meta analyses of randomised control trials (large-scale studies) suggesting that sugar is more strongly related to blood pressure in humans than sodium.

‘Encouraging consumers to hold the sugar, not the salt, may be the better dietary strategy to achieve blood pressure control
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:29 AM | Permalink

Tasty and practical tips

From Authority Nutrition, An Evidence-Based Approach

12 Proven Benefits of Avocado

5. Eating Avocados Can Lower Cholesterol and Triglyceride Levels

11 Proven Health Benefits of Garlic

3. Garlic Can Combat Sickness, Including the Common Cold by boosting the function of the immune system

One large 12-week study found that a daily garlic supplement reduced the number of colds by 63% compared with placebo.  The average length of cold symptoms was also reduced by 70%, from 5 days in placebo to just 1.5 days in the garlic group.  Another study found that a high dose of garlic extract (2.56 grams per day) can reduce the number of days sick with cold or flu by 61%

From Cool Tools, a way to save on your Rx

GoodRx.com

Companies like GoodRx.com are creating tools that can help you find the best prices online, making true price comparison fast and efficient.

GoodRx works by pulling in price feeds from most of the top pharmacy chains in the US, allowing you to search and sort by drug, delivery form, dosage, count, and pharmacy type. It’s trivial to compare prices for brand name vs. generic, and the website automatically sorts the results by price.
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Once you find the best option, you can print out a “discount card” that contains GoodRx’s Pharmacy Benefit Management (PBM) information, so the pharmacist can find the GoodRx quoted price. (They’ll also mail you a card for your wallet if you request one.) Every time you fill a prescription using GoodRx’s group information, they make money via referral fees, so the service itself is free to use.

Out of curiosity, I had the pharmacy quote prices using the GoodRx rate vs. my major health insurance company’s negotiated group rate. GoodRx won by $150.

A quick search on GoodRx.com saved me over $500 in less than a minute. If you live in the US and need to fill a prescription, search here first.

From Distractify 40 Genius Travel Tips That Will Change Your Life Forever

22. To use Google Maps offline, type “OK Maps,” and the visible area will save for future access.

27. Wait to buy airline tickets until 3 p.m. on Tuesdays.

37. Get free WiFi at airports.  Add “?.jpg” to the end of any URL to get around the ludicrously expensive WiFi. Alternatively, you can sit right outside an airport club lounge: Wi-Fi signals often glide through the walls.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:08 AM | Permalink

20th century jihad by the last Caliphate killed between 1-1.5 million Christians

Raphael Lemkin was a Polish Jew and a public prosecutor in Warsaw when he delivered a paper to the Legal Council of the League of Nations in 1933  calling the Crime of Barbarity (which evolved into the idea of genocide a name he coined)  a crime against international law.   

Late in life, he responded to an interviewer who asked him how he became interested in genocide, ""I became interested in genocide because it happened so many times. It happened to the Armenians and after the Armenians Hitler took action".

He joined the Polish army and  defended Warsaw when it was under siege and sustained a bullet wound to his hip. Evading capture by the Germans, he fled Poland for Lithuania and from there to Sweden where he received permission to enter the United States in 1941.  He became a special advisor to the War Department, and after the an advisor to Robert Jackson chief counsel at the Nuremberg trials, a distinguished scholar and professor of law. 

He was moved by the annihilation of between 1 - 1.5 million  Armenians and other Christians who were targeted for extermination by the Ottoman government under the guise of deportation, a crime of genocide which Turkey denies to this day.  Turkey has threatened those who write about the Armenian genocide with reprisals. It wasn't until 2010 that the U.S. Congressional panel voted narrowly that the Armenian holocaust was indeed genocide.

Wikipedia has an extensive article on the Armenian genocide from which I got the following two quotes:

Winston Churchill described the massacres as an "administrative holocaust" and noted that "the clearance of the race from Asia Minor was about as complete as such an act, on a scale so great, could well be. … There is no reasonable doubt that this crime was planned and executed for political reasons. The opportunity presented itself for clearing Turkish soil of a Christian race opposed to all Turkish ambitions, cherishing national ambitions that could only be satisfied at the expense of Turkey, and planted geographically between Turkish and Caucasian Moslems"

As a neutral state, Sweden maintained representatives in Constantinople (now Istanbul) during the entirety of WWI who reported on.the massacres.  What the ambassador wrote

In his report on 22 July, Anckarsvärd noted that the persecutions of the Armenians were being extended to encompass all Christians in the Ottoman Empire:

[The deportations] can not be any other issue than an annihilation war against the Greek nation in Turkey and as measures hereof they have been implementing forced conversions to Islam, in obvious aim to, that if after the end of the war there again would be a question of European intervention for the protection of the Christians, there will be as few of them left as possible."

On 9 August 1915, Anckarsvärd dispatched yet another report, confirming his suspicions regarding the plans of the Turkish government, "It is obvious that the Turks are taking the opportunity to, now during the war, annihilate [utplåna] the Armenian nation so that when the peace comes no Armenian question longer exists"

Andrew Bostom  writes  the Ottoman Caliphate of 1915-19 Exponentially Worse than ISIS

Notwithstanding the recent horrific spate of atrocities committed against the Christian communities of northern Iraq by the Islamic State (IS/IL) jihadists, the Ottoman jihad ravages were equally barbaric, depraved, and far more extensive.

Occurring primarily between 1915-16 (although continuing through at least 1919), some one million Armenian and 250,000 Assyro-Chaldean and Syrian Orthodox Christians were brutally slaughtered or starved to death during forced deportations through desert wastelands.

The identical gruesome means used by IS/IL to humiliate and massacre its Christian victims were employed on a scale that was an order of magnitude greater by the Ottoman Muslim Turks, often abetted by local Muslim collaborators (the latter being another phenomenon which also happened during the IS/IL jihad campaign against Iraq’s Christians).

Reverend K. Balakian’s eyewitness narrative Hai Koghota (The Armenian Golgotha) —  recounted the harrowing details of a particular slaughter at Yozgat, its Islamic religious motifs unexpurgated. Balakian quotes a Turkish gendarme who confirmed the Ottoman government’s sanction of this explicit act of mass-murderous jihad.  Regarding this particular massacre, Balakian laments:

It is impossible for me to convey what happened to those 6,400 defenseless women, virgins, and brides as well as suckling infants. Their heartrending cries and doleful pleas brought down the deaf canopies of heaven. The police soldiers in Yozgat (and Boghazliyan) who accompanied us would even boast to some of us about how they had committed tortures and decapitations, cut off and chopped up body parts with axes, and how they had dismembered suckling infants and children by pulling apart their legs, or dashing them on rocks.

More than one million Armenian city dwellers and peasants were savagely slaughtered and made to choke quietly on their own blood. Tens of thousands of Armenian males, lashed together with string or rope, were mercilessly butchered along all the roads of Asia Minor, or massacred with axes, like tree branches being pruned. The executioners were deaf to the crying and weeping of these wretched victims, even to their pleas to shoot them so that they might escape the torment: the order had come from on high and the jihad against the Armenians truly had been proclaimed. Yes, it was necessary to mercilessly slaughter them until not a single Armenian was left within the confines of the Ottoman Empire.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:39 AM | Permalink

September 13, 2014

Just for fun

9 Incredible Historical Coincidences.  Don't miss how a Booth saved a Lincoln.

11 Ways You Know You Live In A Country Run By Idiots

8. If a seven year old boy can be thrown out of grade school for saying his teacher’s “cute,” but hosting a sexual exploration or diversity class in grade school is perfectly acceptable, you live in a country run by idiots.

5 second Timelapse of the Amish raising a giant barn in under 10 hours

22 Brilliant Ways To Reinvent The Stairs

 Modern-Stairs-Interior-Design-Thumb640

21 New Colorized Historic Photos

 Colorized Ww1 Red Cross Driver

Can you stack your firewood like Gary Tallman in Montana?

 Montana Man Firewood Mosaics

The Telegraph offers 35 great quotes about Scotland and the Scots including this one from Winston Churchill

“Of all the small nations of this earth, perhaps only the ancient Greeks surpass the Scots in their contribution to mankind.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:05 AM | Permalink

September 10, 2014

Security breaches everywhere

What are you doing to protect yourself from becoming collateral damage in the persistent ongoing digital war?

Hackers make 10 times more money from stealing your medical records – and they’re easier to get as hospitals' cyber security is so poor

Cyber criminals can make ten times more money hacking someone's medical information rather than their credit card details, new research has shown. ….Medical identity theft is often not immediately identified by a patient or their provider, giving criminals years to milk such credentials. That makes medical data more valuable than credit cards, which tend to be quickly canceled by banks once fraud is detected.
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The FBI has warned US health care providers of the new threat after a group of Chinese hackers stole personal information from 4.5 million patients after targeting the computer network of Community Health Systems Inc. Internet security experts believe the $3 trillion US healthcare industry is a ripe target for cyber criminals because many many health care providers use older computers with inadequate tools to protect the confidential information.
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The data for sale includes names, birth dates, policy numbers, diagnosis codes and billing information. Fraudsters use this data to create fake IDs to buy medical equipment or drugs that can be resold, or they combine a patient number with a false provider number and file made-up claims with insurers, according to experts who have investigated cyber attacks on healthcare organizations.

Personal data belonging to 4.5 MILLION American hospital patients stolen in cyber attack by Chinese

Community Health Systems revealed the cyber attack in a SEC filing on Monday. 'The Company and its forensic expert, Mandiant (a FireEye Company), believe the attacker was an “Advanced Persistent Threat” group originating from China who used highly sophisticated malware and technology to attack the Company’s systems,' Community Health Systems said. 'The attacker was able to bypass the Company’s security measures and successfully copy and transfer certain data…. The stolen information included patient names, addresses, birth dates, telephone numbers and social security numbers of people who were referred or received services from doctors affiliated with the hospital group in the last five years, the company said in the regulatory filing. It did not include medical or clinical information.

Home Depot Suffers Second-Largest Retail Data Breach on Record; 56 Million Debit and Credit Cards Affected

Home Depot said that 56 million debit and credit cards are estimated to have been breached in a data theft between April and September at its stores in the U.S. and Canada. That makes it the second-largest breach for a retailer on record.  The disclosure puts the data breach behind TJX Cos.’s theft of 90 million records, disclosed in 2007 and ahead of Target’s pre-Christmas 2013 breach which compromised 40 million credit and debit cards.

5 million Gmail User Accounts, Passwords Hacked

A database containing nearly 5 million Gmail user accounts and passwords was leaked on Bitcoin Security, a popular Russian website devoted to the cryptocurrency. The text file was published on Tuesday night by user tvskit, according to CNews, the Russian news outlet that first broke the story. The leaker claimed that the majority of the accounts belong to users who speak English, Russian, or Spanish, and that approximately 60 percent are active. The passwords not only give access to Gmail, but a slew of other Google services such as Drive and the mobile payment system Google Wallet.

Hack leaks hundreds of nude celebrity photos   Apple says its iCloud security was not breached.  The culprit was weak passwords The hackers figured out user names, passwords, and security questions of the celebrities.

Half of us are at risk of cyber-attacks ‘because we don’t install anti-virus software on laptops or phones’
National Crime Agency is launching new campaign to increase awareness of the dangers of not protecting yourself online.

.Researchers find it’s terrifyingly easy to hack traffic lights 

Open wireless and default passwords make controlling a city's intersections trivial. …..the most upsetting passage in the entire paper is the dismissive response issued by the traffic controller vendor when the research team presented its findings. According to the paper, the vendor responsible stated that it "has followed the accepted industry standard and it is that standard which does not include security."

What if your body is hacked?  Microchip Implants in Healthy People

In March 2009, British researcher Mark Gasson had a chip injected under the skin of his hand. The chip, a slightly more advanced version of the tags used to track pets, turned Gasson into a walki• ng swipe-card. With a wave of his wrist, he could open security doors at the University of Reading laboratory, where his experiment was being conducted, and he could unlock his cell phone just by cradling it.

A year later, Gasson infected his own implant with a computer virus, one that he could pass on to other computer systems if the building's networks were programmed to read his chip. As Gasson breezed around the the workplace, spreading the virus and corrupting computer systems, certain areas of the building became inaccessible to his colleagues.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:39 PM | Permalink

Health Roundup: Alzheimer's and Dementia

Take your vitamin DNew Study Supports Links Between Dementia And Vitamin D Deficiency

Adding to an ever-growing body of evidence, a new study has found that vitamin D deficiency is associated with a substantially increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s and dementia. While previous studies have drawn similar conclusions, this is the largest, most robust study carried out to date. The results have been published in the journal Neurology.

Vitamin D is an essential vitamin that is produced by the body upon exposure of the skin to sunlight, but it can also be found in small amounts in certain foods such as oily fish. It plays a variety of roles in the body and over recent years our understanding of how it helps to maintain optimum health has dramatically increased. For example, it’s thought to reduce the risk of certain bone diseases, bacterial and viral infections and autoimmune diseases.
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The researchers discovered that participants with a moderate vitamin D deficiency had a 53% increased risk of developing any form of dementia, and those with a severe deficiency had a 125% increased risk. Similar results were also found for the risk of developing Alzheimer’s, which is the most common form of dementia. Interestingly, they found that there was a threshold level of 50nmol/L vitamin D in the serum, below which the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s was markedly increased.

“We expected to find an association between low vitamin D levels and the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, but the results were surprising- we actually found that the association was twice as strong as we anticipated,” lead researcher Dr David Llewellyn said in a news-release.

Eat pomegranates.  Chemical compound in pomegranates prevents inflammation of the brain cells

Pomegranates may help stop the spread of Alzheimer’s disease, claim scientists.
An ingredient called punicalagin helps prevent the inflammation that destroys brain cells known as micrologia, according to a team at the University of Huddersfield.  It is hoped the findings may also potentially benefit sufferers from rheumatoid arthritis and Parkinson’s disease by reducing painful inflammation from these conditions.

Transfusion of young blood.  Alzheimer’s patients to be treated with the blood of under-30s

This October, people with mild to moderate levels of Alzheimer’s disease will receive a transfusion of blood plasma from donors aged under 30.  The trial, run by researchers at the Stanford School of Medicine in the US, follows their revolutionary study involving lab mice, where the blood plasma of young mice was injected into old mice, resulting in a marked improvement in their physical endurance and cognitive function. Completed earlier this year, their research, combined with independent studies by a handful of research teams around the world, pin-pointed a plasma-borne protein called growth differentiation factor 11 - or GDF11 - as a key factor in the young blood’s powers of rejuvenation.

"We saw these astounding effects,” lead researcher and professor of neurology at Stanford, Tony Wyss-Coray, told Helen Thomson at New Scientist. "The human blood had beneficial effects on every organ we've studied so far."

Curtail benzies. Chronic use of benzodiazepines, commonly prescribed for anxiety and sleeplessness, linked to greater risk of Alzheimer's

Researchers in France and Canada, using a health insurance database in Quebec, identified 1,796 people with Alzheimer's whose health had been monitored for at least six years before the disease was diagnosed.  They compared each individual against three times as many healthy counterparts, matched for age and gender, to see if anything unusual emerged.

They found that patients who had extensively used benzodiazepines for at least three months in the past, were up to 51 percent more likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer's. The risk rose the longer the patient had used the drug. The investigators admitted the picture was foggy.  Benzodiazepines are used to treat sleeplessness and anxiety -- symptoms that are also common among people just before an Alzheimer's diagnosis.


Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation
is in your future.  Electric currents applied to the brain can boost our memory and treat strokes and Alzheimer's - and might even stop forgetfulness in old age

Applying electric shocks to the brain can improve memory, researchers have found.  They say the discovery could open new avenues for treating strokes, early-stage Alzheimer's and even the normal effects of aging on the brain.  They used a non-invasive technique of delivering electrical current using magnetic pulses, called Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation.
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It isn't possible to directly stimulate the hippocampus with TMS because it's too deep in the brain for the magnetic fields to penetrate. So, using an MRI scan, Voss and colleagues identified a superficial brain region a mere centimeter from the surface of the skull with high connectivity to the hippocampus.  He wanted to see if directing the stimulation to this spot would in turn stimulate the hippocampus. It did.
'I was astonished to see that it worked so specifically,' Voss said.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:50 AM | Permalink

September 4, 2014

"What if the West has already been conquered, but simply doesn't know it yet?"

The Anchoress Do The Rapes of Rotherham Tell a Tale of Conquest?

What Rotherham puts me in mind of is the behavior of the conqueror. One of the terrible after-effects of invasion and war has been the subjugation of the women, the rape of wives and daughters, the seed of the conqueror, inserted into a culture and a society — yet another tactic meant to subdue and eradicate.

And yet, there has been no old-fashioned “invasion” and no “war” in the southern part of Yorkshire. This conquering was invited, and it was invited throughout Europe, where Rotherham will be discovered to have been replicated. Why wouldn’t it be? Who in Europe would dare to prosecute?
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Rape and subjugation is one way to conquer a people. Getting them to destroy themselves is another. A conquest is a conquest. For that matter, one needn’t use a blunt knife to behead a culture; you just blunt their thinking as much as possible.

What if the West has already been conquered, but simply doesn’t know it yet, because a painless coup happened while the West was naval gazing, or buried in its twitter feed?

Mark Steyn on the Reformation of Manners

the individuals who presided over this regime destroyed the lives of 1,400 people in their care, and have paid no price for it. Indeed, some have been promoted, and put in charge of even more children: Sonia Sharp, who was head of child services in Rotherham, is now in an equivalent position Down Under for the entire state of Victoria.

Meantime, the fear of being perceived as "racist" prevails even in the news stories about how terrible it is that nobody did anything. As James Delingpole explains, if you have to get specific about the perpetrators, the preferred euphemism is "Asian", a word that in Fleet Street doesn't mean Chinese or oriental but persons deriving from the Indian sub-continent. This is, apart from anything else, grossly unfair to Hindus. The men who raped and tortured these girls were, in Rotherham as elsewhere, mostly Muslims of Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin. And their victims were not.
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So now, in the new multiculti Britain, the child sex trade is back, as part of the rich, vibrant tapestry of diversity - along with Jew-hate, and honor killings, and decapitation porn. The solutions to the internal contradictions of multiculturalism are (a) David Cameron's expanded security state; (b) Afsun Qureshi's universal prostration before Islam; or © an end to mass Muslim immigration. The last is too obvious for any viable western politician ever to propose it.
--
That leaves Wilberforce's "reformation of manners" - on a scale he never contemplated, and with a self-segregating community extremely resistant to outside influence. Meanwhile, leaders such as David Cameron keep hoping that somehow all these excitable young men with their surplus energies will embrace "British values", without ever being able to say what these "British values" are, other than the stuff Yorkshire schools teach as the source of all the evils in the world - imperialism, racism, colonialism, etc. And even as we dither, in Rotherham and elsewhere, Islam is already reforming our manners. As I wrote the other day, slowly, remorselessly, we are becoming them.


Yet the reporting in the New York Times, the so-called 'paper of record' fails to mention

what for many other mainstream news reports is the key issue: the investigation traced the local government officials’ inaction primarily to fears of offending the Muslim community. […]  The religion angle is completely absent from the Times article. 
---
This story points to the problem of Muslim integration in Europe (and elsewhere). Policy elites have authorized mass immigration without much public discussion or consent, and the cultures and values aren’t mixing well (exacerbated by horrible economic problems in much of Europe, thanks also to the elite’s euro fiasco). These factors combine to create a potentially explosive situation on the ground. Readers of the Times won’t understand this very well and will miss one of the key issues driving European, and therefore world, politics.

Rebecca Hamilton  Rotherham and the Cowardly Act of Offering Up Young Girls to the Dragon of Misogyny

We are being told that the local police and the rest of the community were so fearful of being called out by the forces of political correctness that they offered up their city’s young girls to avoid it. This echoes tales of heretofore mythical villagers, offering up their daughters to appease the dragon. Only this is real life.
---
I’ve been reading for months about ISIS in Iraq and Syria and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, kidnapping Christian girls, and raping them and selling them into sex trafficking. Boko Haram kidnapped almost 300 school girls for the express purpose of selling them into sex slavery. In other news, we have the Sidney gang rapes of Australian girls by Australian nationals of Lebanese Muslim descent, and the gang rapes in Holland by men of Turkish and Moroccan descent.

Does anybody see a pattern here?

The politically correct crowd can yak about “racism” and “Islamaphobia” all they want. What we are dealing with is violent and vile misogyny of almost mind-boggling proportions. And it’s not just the rapists who are misogynists. Whole countries — entire nations — are willing to sacrifice their girls to the dragon of politically-correct lies.  The Rotherham police can now join the cops of Juarez who allowed young women to be kidnapped, raped and tortured to death and would not lift a finger.
--
We also have a pattern of one particular group of people — of whom the Rotherham rapists are a part — engaging in terror tactics against helpless civilians in a number of places around the world. Not only do they kidnap/rape/enslave and sell young girls, they burn, behead and annihilate whole populations.
---
We justify it with self-righteous claims that anyone who speaks against it is a racist who hates Muslims. The obvious response to that is Who is the racist here? Who is raping whom?

I, for one, do not hate Muslims. I believe that there are a lot of Muslims who feel trapped between these rapists and the larger society. But we do those people no good by allowing the savages among them to run free and terrorize all of us, including them.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:04 AM | Permalink

"It fell on my ears as a ludicrous scheme"

Published in 1970, the book Sexual Politics by radical feminist Kate Millet was required reading in the nascent women's movement.  So influential was she that Kate Millet was inducted into the U.S. National Women's Hall of Fame in 2013.

Her sister Mallory Millet after living in Southeast Asia with her American executive husband, filed for divorce and relocated to New York City with her young child to join her sister Kate where she became "an unwitting witness to history".  In Front Page magazine Mallory writes about the devastating legacy of her sister in Marxist Feminism's Ruined Lives.

It was 1969. Kate invited me to join her for a gathering at the home of her friend, Lila Karp. They called the assemblage a “consciousness-raising-group,” a typical communist exercise, something practiced in Maoist China.  We gathered at a large table as the chairperson opened the meeting with a back-and-forth recitation, like a Litany, a type of prayer done in Catholic Church. But now it was Marxism, the Church of the Left, mimicking religious practice:

“Why are we here today?” she asked.
“To make revolution,” they answered.
“What kind of revolution?” she replied.
“The Cultural Revolution,” they chanted.
“And how do we make Cultural Revolution?” she demanded.
“By destroying the American family!” they answered.
“How do we destroy the family?” she came back.
“By destroying the American Patriarch,” they cried exuberantly.
“And how do we destroy the American Patriarch?” she replied.
“By taking away his power!”
“How do we do that?”
“By destroying monogamy!” they shouted.
“How can we destroy monogamy?”

Their answer left me dumbstruck, breathless, disbelieving my ears.  Was I on planet earth?  Who were these people?

“By promoting promiscuity, eroticism, prostitution and homosexuality!” they resounded.

They proceeded with a long discussion on how to advance these goals by establishing The National Organization of Women.  It was clear they desired nothing less than the utter deconstruction of Western society. The upshot was that the only way to do this was “to invade every American institution.  Every one must be permeated with ‘The Revolution’”: The media, the educational system, universities, high schools, K-12, school boards, etc.; then, the judiciary, the legislatures, the executive branches and even the library system.

It fell on my ears as a ludicrous scheme, as if they were a band of highly imaginative children planning a Brinks robbery; a lark trumped up on a snowy night amongst a group of spoiled brats over booze and hashish.

How could twelve American women who were the most respectable types imaginable — clean and privileged graduates of esteemed institutions: Columbia, Radcliffe, Smith, Wellesley, Vassar; the uncle of one was Secretary of War under Franklin Roosevelt — plot such a thing?  Most had advanced degrees and appeared cogent, bright, reasonable and good. How did these people rationally believe they could succeed with such vicious grandiosity?  And why?
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:02 AM | Permalink

September 2, 2014

Global warming, Not

No global warming for 19 years

Professsor Ross McKitrick says in a new paper that the warming pause has now lasted an astonishing 19 years at the surface and 16-26 years in the lower troposphere:

Myth of Arctic meltdown: Stunning satellite images show summer ice cap is thicker and covers 1.7million square kilometres MORE than 2 years ago…despite Al Gore's prediction it would be ICE-FREE by now

 Arctic Icecaps

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:40 PM | Permalink

Your government at work

Washington Post  Magazine A Medicare scam that just kept rolling

The government has paid billions to buy power wheelchairs. It has no idea how many of the claims are bogus.

IRS Leaves Millions Vulnerable to Identity Theft  Agency failed to perform background checks on contractors

Three studies confirm: Obamacare is a Job-Killer

Workforce Investment Act Leaves Many Jobless and in Debt

An extensive analysis of the program by The New York Times shows, many graduates wind up significantly worse off than when they started — mired in unemployment and debt from training for positions that do not exist, and they end up working elsewhere for minimum wage.

Five years later, the government reports billions in stimulus funds wasted by the Department of Agriculture.

Lost in America: Visa Program Struggles to Track Missing Foreign Students

The Department of Homeland Security has lost track of more than 6,000 foreign nationals who entered the United States on student visas, overstayed their welcome, and essentially vanished -- exploiting a security gap that was supposed to be fixed after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:36 PM | Permalink

Yay Jadav Payeng

Since the 1970s a Man Has Been Planting a Forest Larger than Central Park, One Tree at a Time

Nestled in Northeast India next to the Brahmaputra River sits Majuli Island, a giant sandbar that happens to be the largest river island on Earth, home to some 150,000 people. It is also the location of the 1,360 acre Molai Forest, one of the most unusual woodlands in the world for the incredible fact that it was planted by a single man. Since 1979, forestry worker Jadav Payeng has dedicated his life to planting trees on the island, creating a forest that has surpassed the scale of New York’s Central Park.

While home to such a large population, rapidly increasing erosion over the last 100 years has reduced the land mass of Majuli Island to less than half. Spurred by the dire situation, Payeng transformed himself into a modern day Johnny Appleseed and singlehandedly planted thousands upon thousands of plants, including 300 hectares of bamboo.

Payeng’s work has been credited with significantly fortifying the island, while providing a habitat for several endangered animals which have returned to the area; a herd of nearly 100 elephants (which has now given birth to an additional ten), Bengal tigers, and a species of vulture that hasn’t been seen on the island in over 40 years. Gives you more than a little hope for the world, doesn’t it?

Colossal has a sixteen minute documentary about Jadav Payeng titled Forest Man by filmmaker William Douglas McMaster which has won several awards

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:20 PM | Permalink

The Last Empire

The Arab Empire Arabs are not indigenous to most of the land they control.

Nothing angers an Islamist like an infidel occupying Muslim land. The political Left has a taboo along the same lines; no memory is reviled like those of the old empires…..

In some ways, the anti-imperialists are right — historically, empires have been a hit-or-miss proposition. The British Empire built roads and schools, the Roman Empire built roads and baths and murdered a great many people, the Mongol Empire murdered a great many people and built a pyramid using 90,000 of their heads.  But whether or not empires deserve the hatred that has been heaped on them since World War II, they’re mostly a thing of the past. The Mongols rule only Mongolia, the Romans have melted into a nation of well-dressed womanizers, and the sun sets on Britain every day. With the Soviet Union gone for 20 years now, there’s really just one great empire left: the Arab Empire.

When people think of indigenous peoples of the Middle East, they think of Arabs — but in the grand scheme, the Arabs are new to most of the territory they control. Striking out from the Arabian Peninsula around 600 a.d. with their new Muslim message, they conquered, converted, and murdered their way into ethnic dominance from Iraq to Morocco. Today’s Egyptians are not descendants of the Egyptians who built the pyramids — though the bitterly oppressed Copts might be. Moab and the Moabites have disappeared, the Lebanese of antiquity were Phoenician, the Philistines were not Palestinian. In fact, only one nation west of Persia weathered the storm of Arab expansion and reestablished self-governance: the Judeans.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:18 PM | Permalink

Health Roundup: New drugs, less sugar, more fruit, exercise and coffee

New drug: Heart failure. The WSJ on the yet unnamed drug, Novartis Study Shows New Heart Drug Cuts Cardiovascular Deaths
Treatment Also Reduces Risk of Hospitalization for Patients With Chronic Heart Failure


New heart failure drug shows big promise

Doctors say the Novartis drug - which doesn’t have a name yet - seems like one of those rare, breakthrough therapies that could quickly change care for more than half of the 6 million Americans and 24 million people worldwide with heart failure.

“This is a new day” for patients, said Dr. Clyde Yancy, cardiology chief at Northwestern University in Chicago and a former American Heart Association president.  “It’s been at least a decade since we’ve had a breakthrough of this magnitude,” said Yancy, who had no role in the study.

New drug:  Crohn's disease  Drug hope for Crohn's patients: New treatment is first to work in the gut to target symptoms on the disease

Vedolizumab is the first to work directly in the gut lining, targeting the inflammation that causes chronic symptoms such as diarrhoea, bleeding and fatigue.  In trials, 40 per cent of patients were free of symptoms for at least a year – with healing of the gut lining in some cases.

Two pieces of fruit a day.  An apple and a half a day could reduce your chance of suffering a heart attack by 40%

New study finds the more fruit you eat, the lower the risk of heart disease and stroke. Eating the equivalent of an apple and half a banana everyday slashes risk by up to 40%.  The findings comes from a huge study of half a million Chinese whose heart health was tracked for seven years by Oxford University researchers.

It is thought that eating fruit and vegetables and fruit helps the heart through their antioxidant effects, combating harmful naturally occurring chemicals in the body.

Reduce the sugar you eat. Sugar substance 'kills' good cholesterol raising the risk of heart disease

A substance derived from sugar has been found to 'kill' good cholesterol, turning it 'bad', scientists have discovered.
Researchers from the University of Warwick found methylglyoxal (MG), which is formed from glucose in the body, damages 'good' High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, which removes excess levels of 'bad' cholesterol from the body.
LDL cholesterol is considered the ‘bad’ cholesterol because it contributes to plaque: a thick, hard deposit that can clog arteries.
If an artery is narrowed by plaque and a clot forms, it can become blocked and the person can suffer a heart attack or stroke.

Another reason to drink coffee.Drinking coffee can help you keep your teeth: Researchers say a cup of Joe can ward off gum disease

Coffee could not only perk you up in the morning but could also help protect you from gum disease, researchers have found.
They found that those who drank coffee were protected against gum disease.
They believe the antioxidants could play a role - but admit they are not quite sure what is happening.

Exercise is a wonder drug. Walking a mile each day 'cuts cancer death risk by half': Physical activity described as 'wonder drug' for breast and prostate patients

Cancer patients can cut their risk of dying by up to half – simply by walking just one mile a day, according to experts.
A study revealed physical activity as a ‘wonder drug’, with those diagnosed with breast and prostate cancers able to cut their risk of death by up to 40 per cent.  And for bowel cancer patients, doubling the walking distance was found to halve the risk of dying.
The calculations are based on walking one mile at a moderate pace of 3mph, which would take just 20 minutes a day.

Too many connections. Scientists discover people with autism have too many brain 'connections'

Scientists say they have discovered the reason why some people suffer from autism.  Those with the condition have too many synapses in their brains - places where where neurons connect and communicate, a new study has found.
Scientists at Columbia University in New York believe that the surplus synapses are created because of a lack of ‘pruning’ that normally occurs early in life.  The discovery is a huge leap in understanding of the complex condition and creates hope of a possible treatment, researchers said.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:09 PM | Permalink

Masters and disasters

From The Atlantic, Masters of Love by Emily Esfahani Smith. Science says lasting relationships come down to—you guessed it—kindness and generosity.

John Gottman began gathering his most critical findings in 1986, when he set up “The Love Lab” …..With a team of researchers, they hooked the couples up to electrodes and asked the couples to speak about their relationship, like how they met, a major conflict they were facing together, and a positive memory they had. As they spoke, the electrodes measured the subjects' blood flow, heart rates, and how much they sweat they produced. Then the researchers sent the couples home and followed up with them six years later to see if they were still together.

From the data they gathered, Gottman separated the couples into two major groups: the masters and the disasters. The masters were still happily together after six years. The disasters had either broken up or were chronically unhappy in their marriages.
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The disasters looked calm during the interviews, but their physiology, measured by the electrodes, told a different story. Their heart rates were quick, their sweat glands were active, and their blood flow was fast. Following thousands of couples longitudinally, Gottman found that the more physiologically active the couples were in the lab, the quicker their relationships deteriorated over time.

But what does physiology have to do with anything? The problem was that the disasters showed all the signs of arousal—of being in fight-or-flight mode—in their relationships. Having a conversation sitting next to their spouse was, to their bodies, like facing off with a saber-toothed tiger. Even when they were talking about pleasant or mundane facets of their relationships, they were prepared to attack and be attacked. This sent their heart rates soaring and made them more aggressive toward each other.

The masters, by contrast, showed low physiological arousal. They felt calm and connected together, which translated into warm and affectionate behavior, even when they fought. It’s not that the masters had, by default, a better physiological make-up than the disasters; it’s that masters had created a climate of trust and intimacy that made both of them more emotionally and thus physically comfortable.
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By observing these types of interactions, Gottman can predict with up to 94 percent certainty whether couples—straight or gay, rich or poor, childless or not—will be broken up, together and unhappy, or together and happy several years later. Much of it comes down to the spirit couples bring to the relationship. Do they bring kindness and generosity; or contempt, criticism, and hostility?

There’s a habit of mind that the masters have,” Gottman explained in an interview, “which is this: they are scanning social environment for things they can appreciate and say thank you for. They are building this culture of respect and appreciation very purposefully. Disasters are scanning the social environment for partners’ mistakes.”
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Contempt, they have found, is the number one factor that tears couples apart. People who are focused on criticizing their partners miss a whopping 50 percent of positive things their partners are doing and they see negativity when it’s not there. People who give their partner the cold shoulder—deliberately ignoring the partner or responding minimally—damage the relationship by making their partner feel worthless and invisible, as if they’re not there, not valued. And people who treat their partners with contempt and criticize them not only kill the love in the relationship, but they also kill their partner's ability to fight off viruses and cancers. Being mean is the death knell of relationships.

Kindness, on the other hand, glues couples together. Research independent from theirs has shown that kindness (along with emotional stability) is the most important predictor of satisfaction and stability in a marriage. Kindness makes each partner feel cared for, understood, and validated—feel loved. ….

One way to practice kindness is by being generous about your partner’s intentions….The ability to interpret your partner’s actions and intentions charitably can soften the sharp edge of conflict…..

Another powerful kindness strategy revolves around shared joy. One of the telltale signs of the disaster couples Gottman studied was their inability to connect over each other’s good news.
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We’ve all heard that partners should be there for each other when the going gets rough. But research shows that being there for each other when things go right is actually more important for relationship quality. How someone responds to a partner’s good news can have dramatic consequences for the relationship.

You can watch Emily Esfahani Smith in this  CBS video Only 3 in 10 couples in Happy Marriages 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:56 PM | Permalink

The real "rape culture"

These are the Rotherham councillors who presided during the child abuse scandal

 Rotherham Councillors

They were willing to let Muslim gangs rape and torture at least 1400 young white girls in Rotherham, a city the size of Buffalo, and do nothing lest they rock the boat or appear racist.  The majority of them were women.

When a whistle-blower came forward in 2002 and informed the Council that 270 girls had been sexually exploited in the previous year primarily by British Pakistani men who are called Asians though they are not Asian but Muslim, the Council's response.

They said you must never refer to that again, you must never refer to Asian men,” she said.

“And [the] other response was to book me on a two-day ethnicity and diversity course to raise my awareness of ethnic issues.”

The researcher also says that before her report could be published, someone stole her data from her office. Because there was no evidence of a break-in, she says the thief must have been a council employee. The report was never published, Holt reports, “and the council even tried unsuccessfully to get the researcher sacked.”

“I was subjected to the most intense personal hostility,” says the researcher. “There were threats made from a range of sources. I’ve never seen back-covering like it, and I still feel extremely angry about that.”

Ian Tuttle calls out feminists for their failure to say anything, Feminists see “rape culture” in nail polish (and everywhere else) but now remain silent about real abuse.

The U.K. Mirror, for instance, reports that “Emma,” a Rotherham-area girl, was raped once a week beginning when she was 13 years old. When she provided to police the names of 250 men she claimed had raped her, police ignored her. Hundreds, if not thousands, of girls in Rotherham and throughout England probably experienced the same.

In Rotherham there is a real-life “rape culture.” But you will not learn anything new about it from Salon, the Daily Beast, Jezebel, or Slate. It has gone unmentioned at Feministing, Bitch Media, or the Feminist Majority Foundation. There have been no outraged op-eds from Jenny Kutner, Jessica Valenti, or Samantha Leigh Allen.

These are, apparently, not the rapes they are looking for.

It is hard not to interpret the feminist blogosphere’s silence on Rotherham as an indication of the movement’s ultimate lack of seriousness
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:47 PM | Permalink

Weddings from hell

Groom spends his wedding night in jail after sparking mass brawl when he 'hit on pregnant waitress and tried to pour liquor down her throat' on riverboat reception

A western Pennsylvania groom spent his wedding night in jail after he allegedly got handsy with a pregnant waitress at at the reception, tried to force the underage woman to have shots or liquor with him and then resisted arrest after an altercation with the her boyfriend.

Groom Mark Williams, 33, is accused of touching the waitress several times during his wedding aboard a Gateway Clipper cruise down Pittsburgh's Monongahela River on Sunday, a criminal complaint says.

The 19-year-old woman, who is pregnant, said Williams tried to pour liquor down her throat and force her to have shots with him….
The woman got uncomfortable and called her boyfriend, 20-year-old Tyler Smith, to come pick her up at the end of the cruise.
When Smith arrived about 1am on Monday, he confronted Williams and they started to trade punches — all while the shocked bride Edyta Williams watched, KDKA reported.

That's when Williams' brother David and groomsman Brian Taylor jumped into the altercation.  David Williams, a 35-year-old Pennsylvania State trooper, ignored police orders to back down and eventually assaulted two Pittsburgh police officers who were called to the scene, authorities said. The groom, his brother and Taylor were all hauled to Allegheny County Jail.

The bride, meanwhile, just looked on in horror as this all unfolded.

 Groom Hauled Away After Brawl
Groom Mark Williams and his wife Edyta Branch pose for pictures hours before their wedding turned into a brawl i
n Pittsburgh early Monday morning
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:18 PM | Permalink

FBI "clueless"

FBI National Domestic Threat Assessment Omits Islamist Terrorism.

“The FBI’s most recent national threat assessment for domestic terrorism makes no reference to Islamist terror threats, despite last year’s Boston Marathon bombing and the 2009 Fort Hood shooting—both carried out by radical Muslim Americans.”
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“Since 9/11, FBI leadership—as well as leaders from Department of Homeland Security, the State Department, CIA, Pentagon, and the National Security Council—relies on easily identifiable jihadis from the Muslim Brotherhood/Hamas, al Qaeda and elsewhere to advise it on how to deal with ‘domestic extremism.’”

Patrick Poole, a domestic terrorism expert, also was critical of the report’s omission of U.S. Islamist extremism, blaming “politically correct” policies at the FBI for the problem.
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the FBI has appointed a domestic Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas support organization leader to an FBI advisory council at the Washington headquarters.

Additionally, the FBI is failing to train agents and analysts on the Muslim Brotherhood network in the United States, Guandolo said.

“The FBI, no matter how diligent its agents are in their pursuit of ‘terrorists’, will never defeat this threat because its leaders refuse to address or even identify it,” he said. “This level of negligence on the part of the FBI leaders and their failure to understand the jihadi threat 13 years after 9/11 is appalling.”
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Guandolo, the former FBI agent, said the vast majority of U.S. Islamic organizations were identified in recent U.S. terrorism trials as part of the Muslim Brotherhood, the parent group for the Palestinian terror group Hamas. Thus, these groups are aligned with the same objectives as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, al Qaeda, and others, he said.

Our FBI is not teaching their agents and analysts this information; they are not sharing it with local and state law enforcement officials; and they are not investigating and pursuing the very individuals and organizations which are supporting and training jihadis in America,” Guandolo said.

Guandolo said former FBI director Robert Mueller testified to Congress that he was unaware that the Islamic Society of Boston was the organization behind the radicalization of the Tsarnaev brothers. “That tells you all we need to know about the FBI’s leadership about the threat here in America from the Islamic Movement—they are clueless,” he said.

Insty remarks If we get hit again, it’ll be because they were too busy spying on Tea Partiers.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:42 AM | Permalink

September 1, 2014

"Our badly damaged labor market is not just an economic crisis, but a moral one"

Michael Strain has written a terrific essay on A Day to Celebrate Work — and think about how we can help the millions who can’t find it.

The statistics are so slow to improve that I fear we are desensitized to them. Over 11 million workers are unemployed — 7.4 percent of the labor force is looking for work but can’t find it. An unemployment rate of 7.4 percent is awful. Over 8 million workers are working part-time for economic reasons, given only limited hours because of slack business conditions or because they could only find a part-time jobOver 4 million workers have been unemployed for 27 weeks or longer. The unemployment rate for high-school dropouts is 11 percent. The unemployment rate for black teenagers is over 40 percent. The share of the population aged 25 to 54 with jobs — one of the best indicators of the overall health of the labor market — took a big hit during the Great Recession, and hasn’t even come close to recovering. At the recent pace of employment growth, it will take many years to restore the labor market to full employment.

Labor Day is set aside to celebrate American workers. It seems a touch unpalatable to celebrate American workers when so many of them can’t find jobs.

Work does set us free — it emancipates us from our passions by occupying our time. It frees us from among the worst torments of modern (and comfortable) life: boredom. Work frees us by giving us the opportunity to do what we ought.

Work educates the passions by directing them to productive ends. Work gives us a sense of identity; much of who we are — for Americans, probably too much — is defined by what we do. Work gives us a sense of purpose. Work gives us the ability to meet among the most primal needs: providing for our children and caring for those whom we love.

Work allows us to be creative, to express ourselves. In the parlance of our MBA culture, work allows us to contribute to the team. In extolling the virtue of the price system over central planning, the great economist F. A. Hayek, in one of the greatest essays ever written in economics, celebrates “the knowledge of the particular circumstances of time and place.” Hayek writes: “It is with respect to this that practically every individual has some advantage over all others because he possesses unique information of which beneficial use might be made, but of which use can be made only if the decisions depending on it are left to him or are made with his active cooperation.”
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It is no stretch at all to say that work, properly understood, is deeply spiritual. Blessed John Paul II wrote in Laborem Exercens that man is “called to work.” John Paul the Great points out that “in the very first pages” of the Bible, in the book of Genesis, in being told to “subdue” the earth, man is told to work. “Man is the image of God,” writes John Paul, “partly through the mandate received from his Creator to subdue, to dominate, the earth. In carrying out this mandate, man, every human being, reflects the very action of the Creator of the universe.”

If to know God we have to be like Him, then we have to build, to create — to work. Indeed, the Church teaches that in working, even in our ordinary, daily tasks, we are “unfolding the Creator’s work.”

Those who can’t find a job are deprived of all this. In this sense, our badly damaged labor market is not just an economic crisis, but a moral one. How can a young person build a life, find a spouse, and make a home without a job? The probability of suicide goes up when a worker is unemployed. Divorce rates are higher when the unemployment rate increases. The children of unemployed workers tend to have relatively worse labor-market outcomes. Unemployment is associated with a range of psychological problems. The loss of a job often means a loss of self, of identity, of purpose, of the ability to provide for yourself and your family, to contribute to society.
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this Labor Day, let us leaven our celebrating with solidarity. Let’s think of the unemployed.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:41 PM | Permalink

How to get the most out of college

Read Walter Russell Mead's essay, Back to School

1.  The real world does not work like school.
Creativity, integrity and entrepreneurial initiative will pay off; following the old rules and hoping for the old rewards is a road to frustration.  You have to fight the tendency of the educational system to turn you into a timeserving baby bureaucrat, following the rules and waiting for the inevitable promotion…..

2.  Most of your elders know very little about the world into which you are
headed.
Technology is going to rock your world and economic changes and upheavals are going to change the rules on you over and over.  This is not how the  knowledge professions (law, medicine, teaching, the civil service) used to work. 

3.  You are going to have to work much, much harder than you pr
obably expect.
Your competition is in China and India – and your competition isn’t hanging out at frat parties or sitting around watching sitcoms with dorm-mates.  It isn’t getting stoned and it isn’t putting its energy into chasing the opposite (or apposite) sex.  Your competition isn’t taking lots of courses on gender studies; it isn’t majoring in ethnic studies, or (unless it is planning to go into movie making) the history of film.
Your competition is working hard, damned hard, and is deadly serious about learning.

4. Choosing the right courses is more important than choos
ing the right college.

5.  Get a traditional liberal education; it is the only thing
that will do you any good.
Following this advice will be hard; a liberal education is no easy thing to get, and not everybody wants you to have one.  However, in times of rapid change, it is paradoxically more useful to immerse yourself in the basics and the classics than to try to keep up with the latest developments and hottest trends.  …

First, getting a liberal education means you have to achieve literacy in math and at least in one science – and come to grips with the scientific method.  I’d recommend biology as the science you should spend the most time with; this is probably the science that’s going to be changing the world most radically during much of your life — and since you need some chemistry to make sense of it, you will be getting a grounding in two disciplines rather than just one.. …

Second, study the basic ideas, debates, books, people and events of the western world – with special attention to the Anglo-American subset of the western tradition.  You can’t understand other people’s cultures and traditions until you understand the one that surrounds you.  Art, literature and music are part of this.  Don’t neglect them.

Third, study the United States: its history, regions, culture, politics, literature and economy. You would be surprised how many highly educated people have never seriously studied (or traveled much in) their own country. Fourth, study at least one language and at least one culture that is alien to youFifth, learn to write well.  This paradoxically is going to be more important than ever for the next generation. 

Fourth, study at least one language and at least one culture that is alien to you.

Fifth, learn to write well.  This paradoxically is going to be more important than ever for the next generation.

6.  Character counts; so do good habits.
One of the weaknesses in contemporary college education is that many teachers and administrators don’t think enough about the need that students have for moral education: reflection on right and wrong, the development of good habits that make good decisions easier to make and easier to stick with, a healthy spiritual grounding that can see you through the storms of life, and the kind of self knowledge that can only come from a life of serious moral engagement and thoughtful reflection.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:32 PM | Permalink

Quote of the day

From Instapundit's unnamed friend.

Let’s accept, arguendo, that the outgoing DIA chief is right, and that we are now in an era of danger similar to the mid-1930s. How did we get here? It’s worth looking back into the mists of time — an entire year, to Labor Day weekend 2013. What had not happened then? It’s quite a list, actually: the Chinese ADIZ, the Russian annexation of Crimea, the rise of ISIS, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the fall of Mosul, the end of Hungarian liberal democracy, the Central American refugee crisis, the Egyptian-UAE attacks on Libya, the extermination of Iraqi Christians, the Yazidi genocide, the scramble to revise NATO’s eastern-frontier defenses, the Kristallnacht-style pogroms in European cities, the reemergence of mainstream anti-Semitism, the third (or fourth, perhaps) American war in Iraq, racial riots in middle America, et cetera and ad nauseam.

All that was in the future just one year ago.
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But the larger point here is not what’s happening, because what’s happening is obvious. Things are falling apart. The point is how fast it’s come. It takes the blood and labor of generations to build a general peace, and that peace is sustained by two pillars: a common moral vision, and force majeure. We spent a quarter-century chipping away at the latter, and finally discarded the former, and now that peace is gone. All this was the work of decades.

Look back, again, to Labor Day weekend 2013, and understand one thing: its undoing was the work of mere months.


It reminds me of this quote from Will and Ariel Durant

"Out of every hundred new ideas ninety-nine or more will probably be inferior to the traditional responses which they propose to replace.

No one man, however brilliant or well-informed, can come in one lifetime to such fullness of understanding as to safely judge and dismiss the customs or institutions of his society, for those are the wisdom of generations after centuries of experiment in the laboratory of history.

For the anointed, traditions are likely to be seen as the dead hand of the past, relics of a less enlightened age, and not as the distilled experience of millions who faced similar human vicissitudes before."
Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:25 PM | Permalink

For Math, rote memorization is far better than 'discovery-based learning' UPDATED

Memorization comes easily for children.  From time immemorial, children have been encouraged to memorize poems, historical dates, the alphabet and multiplication tables.    What is memorized in childhood is never forgotten

Only in our modern age have educators disparaged memorization in favor of understanding math concepts as if the former precludes the later.

Now neuroscientists using brain scans tell us that  Rote memorization plays crucial role in teaching students how to solve complex calculations.

Memorizing the answers to simple math problems, such as basic addition or the multiplication tables, marks a key shift in a child’s cognitive development, because it helps bridge the gap from counting on fingers to complex calculation, according to the new brain scanning research.
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In effect, as young math students memorize the basics, their brains reorganize to accommodate the greater demands of more complex math. It is a gradual process, like “overlapping waves,” the researchers write, but it clearly shows that, for the growing child’s brain, rote memorization is a key step along the way to efficient mathematical reasoning.

As a scientific justification of rote learning, the study seems likely to further polarize the controversy over math teaching styles, in which arithmetical fundamentalists are squared off against the popular and progressive forces of “discovery-based” learning, in which students are encouraged to find their own ways to the right answer.

By illustrating the benefit of repetition and memory, and showing how it serves as a stepping stone to mature calculation, the research is likely to embolden the fundamentalists, who have only recently started to win back lost ground.
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One critic of the government’s adoption of “discovery-based learning,” Ken Porteous, a retired engineering professor, put it bluntly: “There is nothing to discover. The tried and true methods of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division work just fine as they have for centuries. There is no benefit and in fact a huge downside to students being asked to discover other methods of performing these operations and picking the one which they like. This just leads to confusion which ultimately translates into frustration, a strong dislike for mathematics and a desire to drop out of any form of mathematics course at the earliest opportunity.”

UPDATE: Common Core Teaches Kids New Way To Add 9 + 6 That Takes 54 Seconds

Fourth-grade teacher Eileen Klag Ryan then demonstrates the Common Core way to add 9 + 6.  This Common Core method takes nearly a minute.

“Our young learners might not be altogether comfortable thinking about what 9 + 6 is,” Ryan relates. “They are quite comfortable thinking about their friend, 10.”    The novel addition method emphasizes 10 for younger students “as we’re working in ‘Base 10 System.’”

“So if we can partner 9 to a number and anchor 10, we can help our students see what 9 + 6 is.”    At no point does Ryan explain how this impressively complex method of adding 9 + 6 will lead students to any understanding of “why” 9 + 6 is 15.

“We’re going to decompose our 6,” the teacher continues, drawing two small diagonal lines under the 6, then adding a number 1 and a number 5.  “We know 6 is made up of parts,” she instructs. “One of its parts is a 1 and the other part is a 5.”

Then, things get super-complex.

“We’re now going to anchor our 9 to a 1, allowing our students to anchor to that 10″ Ryan says, while drawing a big, oblong circle around the 9 and the 1.”

“Now our students are seeing that we have 10 + 5,” she declares confidently. She stutters a bit and adds, “Having, uh, now more comfort seeing that 10 + 5 is 15. That’s much more comfortable than looking at 9 + 6.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:03 PM | Permalink

Investing has got much easier

Index funds are the only way to go.

The debate about whether to hire an active fund manager to beat the market or use a passive index fund is over

Charles Ellis claims in the July/August issue of the Financial Analysts Journal that the “active vs. passive investment debate” is largely over. After their high trading fees and expenses, “active managers are no longer able to earn their keep,” and therefore most investors will get higher returns and pay lower fees with index funds. Ellis expects that the triumph of index investing over active fund management is generating a “wave of creative destruction” that will put many portfolio managers out of business.
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My advice is to build your investment portfolio using a variety of index funds — it’s not settling for average, it’s just refusing to believe in the miracles and magic of active management.

No matter what, the long-term investor comes out ahead of the short-term trader

For any manager who outperforms in a given year, only 1 in 10 will continue to outperform in two of the next three years. In other words, 10 percent of our original outperformers — about 3 percent total — can keep their streak alive for three consecutive years. Over five years, only 1 in 33 of our original alpha generators keeps the winning streak going. Once we figure in their costs and fees, it works out to be less than 1 percent — 1 in 100 — who manage a net outperformance of a few basis points a year.

In the real world, the win goes to the passive indexer.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:43 PM | Permalink