April 28, 2015

Baltimore "Keep voting for the same thing, keep getting the same thing."

Baltimore's last Republican mayor left office 50 years agoRiot-Plagued Baltimore Is a Catastrophe Entirely of the Democratic Party’s Own Making

American cities are by and large Democratic-party monopolies, monopolies generally dominated by the so-called progressive wing of the party. The results have been catastrophic, and not only in poor black cities such as Baltimore and Detroit. Money can paper over some of the defects of progressivism in rich, white cities such as Portland and San Francisco, but those are pretty awful places to be non-white and non-rich, too:

….Baltimore has seen two Republicans sit in the mayor’s office since the 1920s — and none since the 1960s. Like St. Louis, it is effectively a single-party political monopoly from its schools to its police department.
There is someone to blame for what’s wrong in Baltimore. …..Baltimore’s police department is, like Detroit’s economy and Atlanta’s schools, the product of the progressive wing of the Democratic party enabled in no small part by black identity politics. This is entirely a left-wing project, and a Democratic-party project.
The other Democratic monopolies aren’t looking too hot, either. We’re sending Atlanta educators to prison for running a criminal conspiracy to hide the fact that they failed, and failed woefully, to educate the children of that city. Isolated incident? Nope: Atlanta has another cheating scandal across town at the police academy. Who is being poorly served by the fact that Atlanta’s school system has been converted into crime syndicate? Mostly poor, mostly black families. Who is likely to suffer from any incompetents advanced through the Atlanta police department by its corrupt academy? Mostly poor, mostly black people. Who suffers most from the incompetence of Baltimore’s Democratic mayor? Mostly poor, mostly black families — should they feel better that she’s black? Who suffers most from the incompetence and corruption of Baltimore’s police department? Mostly poor, mostly black families.
Keep voting for the same thing, keep getting the same thing.

David French on The Left's Burning Cities

In Baltimore, as the National Guard steps in, curfews are imposed, and business owners pick up the pieces from their burned-out, looted stores, let’s not forget why one more American city has been torn apart by racial violence. Blue America has failed at social justice. It has failed at equality. It has failed at accountability. Its competing constituencies are engaged in street battles, and any exploration of “root causes” must necessarily include decades of failed policies — all imposed by steadfastly Democratic mayors and city leaders.

Are the riots caused by the Baltimore Police Department’s “documented history” of abuse? Which party has run Baltimore and allowed its police officers to allegedly run amok? Going deeper, which American political movement lionizes public-employee unions, fiercely protecting them from even the most basic reform? Public-employee unions render employee discipline difficult and often impossible. Jobs are functionally guaranteed for life, and rogue officers can count on the best representation money can buy — courtesy of Blue America.

Wall Street Journal  The Blue-City Model  Baltimore shows how progressivism has failed urban America.

You’re not supposed to say this in polite company, but what went up in flames in Baltimore Monday night was not merely a senior center, small businesses and police cars. Burning down was also the blue-city model of urban governance.
The men and women in charge have been Democrats, and their governing ideas are “progressive.” This model, with its reliance on government and public unions, has dominated urban America as once-vibrant cities such as Baltimore became shells of their former selves. In 1960 Baltimore was America’s sixth largest city with 940,000 people. It has since shed nearly a third of its population and today isn’t in the top 25.

The dysfunctions of the blue-city model are many, but the main failures are three: high crime, low economic growth and failing public schools that serve primarily as jobs programs for teachers and administrators rather than places of learning.
The first and most important responsibility of any city government is to uphold law and order. When the streets are unsafe and crime is high, everything else—e.g., getting businesses to invest and create jobs—becomes next to impossible…….
.,,,,,,, A 2011 city report on the neighborhood of Freddie Gray—the African-American whose death in police custody sparked the riots—reported an area that is 96.9% black with unemployment at 21%. When it comes to providing hope and jobs, we should have learned by now that no government program can substitute for a healthy private economy…..
………..There are many measures of failure in Baltimore schools, but consider that on state tests 72% of eighth graders scored below proficient in math, 45% in reading and 64% in science.
It’s time for a new urban renewal, this time built on the ideas of private economic development, personal responsibility, “broken windows” policing, and education choice.

State dependency has replaced fathers in the home.  Roger L. Simon  Why Baltimore: An American Tragedy  After festering for half a century, we're witnessing the endgame of LBJ's Great Society.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:24 PM | Permalink

Treating patients at home

Great idea Admitted to Your Bedroom: Some Hospitals Try Treating Patients at Home

When Martin Fernandez came into Mount Sinai Hospital’s emergency room one recent afternoon, with high fever and excruciating abdominal pain, he and his family were asked an unexpected question. Mr. Fernandez, 82, would have to be officially admitted to receive intravenous antibiotics for his urinary tract infection. But he could stay at Mount Sinai, or he could receive treatment at home.

If he chose to be hospitalized at home, doctors and nurses would visit daily. He would receive lab draws and intravenous medications, even X-rays or ultrasound scans if he needed them. The costs to him would be no greater than if he were physically in the hospital. In three or four days, he would be discharged — and he would not have to go anywhere….He was hospitalized at his daughter’s apartment, just a couple blocks away, a few hours later.

He had a urinary catheter, but Mr. Fernandez could still wear his own clothes during the day and his pajamas at night. His wife and his daughter cooked him meals of arepas, vegetables and black beans, and served them to him in bed.

“Hospitals help you, but there’s so much noise that you can’t sleep and you’re lonely,” said Mr. Fernandez’s daughter, Ana Vanessa Fernandez. “Here, there was no timing for visitors. There was no curfew. It’s like being at home, but the hospital is home with you.”
Dr. Bruce Leff noticed that back in the late 1980s while making house calls to homebound patients, part of his primary care training at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. When some of his patients fell ill, they simply refused to go to a hospital.

He understood why: He had seen firsthand the delirium, infections and deconditioning that too often land older patients in nursing homes after hospitalization. “Being in the hospital could be toxic,” said Dr. Leff, a geriatrician who is now a professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins.
Dr. Leff and his colleagues settled on four diagnoses that could be treated without the patient’s being physically in the hospital: heart failure, exacerbations of emphysema, certain types of pneumonia, and a bacterial skin infection called cellulitis.
The findings, published in The Annals of Internal Medicine, were promising. Offered the opportunity, most patients agreed to be treated at home. They were hospitalized for shorter periods, and their treatments cost less. They were less likely to develop delirium or to receive sedative medications, and no more likely to return to the emergency room or be readmitted.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:44 PM | Permalink

April 27, 2015

"We spy on each other"

In the Telegraph, Robert Collins interviews Dave Eggers, author of  A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.

Eggers has published short stories, novels, anthologies and children’s books. In 2002, he founded a literacy centre, 826 Valencia, for schoolchildren in San Francisco. On the back of its success, he opened a string of them across America, which led to others being set up in Europe. Eggers has come to Paris to visit the latest of these.

In between all this, he has written screenplays – including the film adaptation of Where the Wild Things Are, directed by Spike Jonze in 2009 – and founded an organisation that helps American university students find funding. He runs his own publishing house and literary magazine, McSweeney’s. And he has set up another literary magazine, The Believer, as well as founding a series of oral histories about human rights crises, a theme he covered in his 2009 book Zeitoun, which recounted the ordeal of a Syrian-American arrested in New Orleans in the chaos following Hurricane Katrina. Eggers is not so much a literary darling as a one-man social enterprise.
In his state of Zen suspension from smartphones and wireless technology, he has recently entered a remarkable renaissance in his fiction – something his career had always promised yet until now never quite delivered. In the past three years, he has produced a fascinating triptych of novels, each of which offers a different elegy to the passing of a safer, more optimistic America.
This nostalgic vision of America seems to be the fuel that is powering Eggers’s dismay at the onslaught of technology in modern life. In The Circle, all life happens online, in full and continuous public view. …They ultimately have 10,000 people in a controlled environment, where all of their actions, preferences, behaviors can be observed, monitored, monetized.”

“Well, of course,” Eggers says, grinning. “I’ve been asking my friends who’ve been married a long time whether they track their spouses on their iPhones, and they all do. They’re like: 'Well, it’s because I want to know when he’s going to come home.’ Of course, there’s a convenience to this, but you’re under surveillance. And I do think that any society or individual under surveillance is not free.

What’s funny is that we’re worried about the NSA and GCHQ, but so many of us are complicit. We spy on each other. Our tolerance for being spied upon has increased exponentially. If our parents wanted to spy on each other, it would be either following each other in a car or hiring a private detective. This is the same level of surveillance that we’re capable of now with a phone. And nobody thinks anything of it.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:28 PM | Permalink

Too much technology is making it hard for children to read facial expressions

Smartphones making children borderline autistic, warns expert

Children struggle to read emotions and are less empathetic than a generation ago because they spend too much time using tablets and smartphones, a leading psychiatrist has warned.

Iain McGilchrist said children as young as five were less able to read facial expressions because of too much interaction with technology.

He added that he had evidence that more pupils were displaying borderline "autistic" behaviour. Dr McGilchrist, a former Oxford literary scholar who retrained in medicine, said he had heard of increasing numbers of teachers who had to explain to their pupils how to make sense of human faces.
“It is hardly surprising that we are not as good as reading human faces and interacting with human beings if we are engaging with the virtual world.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:19 PM | Permalink

April 26, 2015

Miscellany 11

Scientists Claim They Found a New Species of Frog, and It Looks Like Kermit.  The newly discovered species of translucent frog, Hyalinobatrachium dianae,  was found in Costa Rica's Talamanca Mountains.

 New Frog Kermit?

X-Ray Art Reveals the Internal Beauty of Everyday Objects

 Xray-Tulips Arie Van't Riet
Dutch artist/physicist Arie van't Riet

Twinkie's Miracle Comeback: The Untold, Inside Story of a $2 Billion Feast
But while you wouldn’t find Twinkies on Whole Foods’ shelves or in Gwyneth Paltrow’s pantry, Hostess had something you can’t find in a locally sourced, chia–seed snack–millions of nostalgic fans. “The brand awareness was unbelievable,” says Jhawar. “It’s not every day you have an opportunity to acquire a brand that is ubiquitous, that had $1 billion in revenue before the bankruptcy and 80–plus years of legacy.”

Pasta? Ruby grapefruits? Why organic devotees love foods mutated by radiation and chemicals
Ruby Red grapefruits, along with 3,000 other crop varieties consumed by millions every day, were actually created through mutation breeding, also known as mutagenesis. Plants were exposed to atomic radiation, thousands of genes scrambled in laboratory experiments that took years.

In the last 60 years, mutation breeding has produced a sizeable fraction of the world’s crops. Varieties of wheat, including almost all the most popular varieties used to make top-grade Italian pasta, vegetables, fruit, rice, herbs and cotton have been altered or enhanced with gamma rays, and often separately or additionally soaked in toxic chemicals, in the hopes of producing new desirable, traits. Now these varieties are marketed as conventional and organic foods, and are unlabelled.

The English Trailer for ‘The Little Prince’ Is Here, and It Will Break Your Heart  Watch it here.

From Bon Appetit.  Be a Rebel: Cook Your Vegetables to Death
But last summer I had an experience with a pot of fat green Romano beans that changed the whole game for me. They were cooked to the point of collapse, completely soft and yielding, a process that took (gasp!) two whole hours. Seasoned with nothing more than olive oil, garlic, and salt (plenty of all three), they were insanely delicious: deeply vegetal, rich and satisfying, completely yielding in texture but maintaining definition. They turned my whole vegetable-cooking world upside down. I didn’t miss the crunch. I just wanted more…….With a little care, soft-cooked vegetables can be more satisfying than any raw kale salad could ever dream of being. We developed a formula for long-cooked vegetables so good it had editors’ eyes rolling back in their heads.

The co-founder of Earth Day Ira Einhorn killed then composted his girlfriend.  He jumped bail and evaded authorities for 23 years before he was extradited to the U.S. to be tried for murder.  His defense?  The CIA did it.  The jury didn't buy it and he was found guilty and is now serving his life sentence.

If you haven't seen the video of the giraffes diving into a swimming pool by animator Nicolas Deveaux,  don't wait any longer

 High-Diving Giraffes

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:44 AM | Permalink

April 24, 2015

Adolf Hitler,“Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?”

The Islamic Genocide of Christians: Past and Present by Raymond Ibrahim
A century after the Armenian Genocide, Muslims continue cleansing their countries of Christian minorities.

Today, April 24, we remember how exactly 100 years ago the last historic Muslim caliphate, the Ottoman Empire, tried to cleanse its empire of Christian minorities — Armenians, Assyrians, and Greeks — even as we stand by watching as the new caliphate, the Islamic State, resumes the genocide.
As happens to this very day, the Muslims of the Ottoman caliphate, not able to reach or defeat the stronger infidel — the “Christian men” of Britain, France, and Russia — satiated their bloodlust on their Christian subjects.  And they justified the genocide by projecting the Islamic doctrine of Loyalty and Enmity onto Christians — saying that, because Armenians, Assyrians, and Greeks were Christian, they were naturally aiding the other “Christian men” of the West.

As happens to this day under the new caliphate — the Islamic State — the Ottoman caliphate crucified, beheaded, tortured, mutilated, raped, enslaved, and otherwise massacred countless “infidel” Christians.  The official number of Armenians killed in the genocide is 1.5 million; hundreds of thousands of Greeks and Assyrians each were also systematically slaughtered (see this document for statistics).

(Although today marks the “Armenian Genocide,” often forgotten is that Assyrians and Greeks were also targeted for cleansing by the Ottoman caliphate.  The only thing that distinguished Armenian, Assyrian, and Greek subjects of the caliphate from Turkish subjects was that the three former were Christian…..

Because this genocide of Christians is usually articulated through a singularly secular paradigm — one that recognizes only those factors deemed intelligible from a modern, secular, Western point of view, one that never uses the words “Christian” and “Muslim” but rather “Armenian” and “Turk” — few are able to connect these events from a century ago to today.
Put differently, silence is always the ally of those who would commit genocide.  In 1939, on the eve of World WWII, Hitler rationalized his genocidal plans against the Jews, when he reportedly asked: “Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?”

 Nazis Isis

And who speaks today of the ongoing annihilation of Christians under Islam?

For 7th year in a row, Obama breaks promise to acknowledge Armenian genocide

Thomas de Waal on Five Memoirs of the Armenian Catastrophe

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:58 PM | Permalink

Why I support the death penalty for convicted terrorists

Deroy Murdoch lays out the case for the death penalty for terrorists, an argument I've supported for decades.

Sparing him could encourage terrorists to kidnap people to swap for him.
So, in short: Death to Dzhokhar Tsarn
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:35 AM | Permalink

April 22, 2015

Health roundup: Depression, Alzheimer's, MS, Cancer, Genetic Treatments and Vaccinations

Probiotics May Help Ease Pain of Negative Thoughts/Depression.    Linking probiotics and mood
Probiotics are live microorganisms which, when administered in adequate amounts, are fundamental in improving digestion and immune function.  A new study found that people focus less on bad feelings and experiences from the past (i.e. rumination) after four weeks of probiotics administration.  The study was published in the journal, Brain, Behavior and Immunity.

Mindfulness therapy as good as medication for chronic depression - study
"Whilst this study doesn't show that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy works any better than maintenance anti-depressant medication in reducing the rate of relapse … these results suggest a new choice for the millions of people with recurrent depression on repeat prescriptions," said Willem Kuyken of Oxford University, who worked with Byng on the research.


WSJ A Diet Might Cut the Rick of Developing Alzheimer's. Researchers at Chicago's Rush University Medical Center spent two years developing the MIND diet, which includes many brain-healthy foods like berries and greens.  The MIND diet combines elements of the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet, which aims to reduce high blood pressure. The MIND diet also includes ‘brain-healthy’ foods such as lots of green leafy vegetables, blueberries and nuts. A study found adhering strictly to any of the three diets lowered the risk for Alzheimer’s disease. But only the MIND diet had significant benefits - a 53% reduced risk for developing Alzheimer's.

Alzheimer's 'breakthrough': Addenbrooke's Hospital recruits first humans for testing diabetes drug
Patients over 50 with early Alzheimer's recruited for research in Cambridge after study finds drug Liraglutide might reverse some damage caused in later stages of disease.  A landmark study last autumn on mice found that the drug Liraglutide, which is already used in the treatment of diabetes – appeared to reduce the damage caused by dementia and result in memory improvements.  Mice with late-stage Alzheimer's given the drug performed significantly better on an object recognition test and their brains showed a 30 per cent reduction in the build-up of toxic plaques.

If the drug is found to reverse damage to the brain, or to stall disease progression, the drug could be the first treatment to prevent Alzheimer’s disease, and offered more widely within five years, scientists said.


Creams used to treat athlete's foot and eczema 'could REVERSE multiple sclerosis'
Active ingredients in creams were found to cure multiple sclerosis (MS). They prompted stem cells to reverse the nerve damage caused by MS
and regenerate myelin, the coating around nerve fibers that MS destroys.

Miconzanole is sold over the counter in most pharmacies as a cream to treat athlete's foot, while clobetasol cream is commonly prescribed to treat eczema.  Although both drugs are widely used, a way must be found to use them safely as internal human treatments rather than creams or ointments before clinical trials can be considered.
The researchers are confident this problem can be solved, but have warned patients not to jump the gun by using the drugs prematurely.


Exceeding the recommended daily amount of vitamins can do more harm than good.  Taking too many vitamins 'increases risk of heart disease and cancer', study warns

Compound in the green cruciferous veg broccoli is found to 'stop the growth of tumors'
Broccoli has long been hailed as a superfood, and it could soon protect people from cancer of the mouth, throat, neck and head, a study claims.  Scientists are developing a new treatment known as 'green chemoprevention' in which broccoli and other vegetables are used to prevent the disease. They explained that cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage and garden cress have a high concentration of sulforaphane – which is why they have a slightly bitter taste. Previous studies, including large-scale trials in China, have shown sulforaphane helps 'undo' the effects of cancer-causing agents in the environment.

Hope for prostate cancer patients as scientists discover breast cancer drug can also prolong the lives of men
Olaparib is the first cancer drug to target inherited genetic mutations. Up to 30 per cent of men with advanced prostate cancer have tumors with genetic defects - and they responded well to olaparib which prolongs the time a sufferer can live without disease getting worse.

Cancer patient's giant tumor is 'completely destroyed' and 'dissolves' after doctors trial pioneering new drugs cocktail to treat melanoma
Doctors at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York were trialling a new combination of drugs to treat advanced skin cancer
Combined standard drug ipilimumab with new drug nivolumab
Woman, 49, had one dose of the therapy and within weeks her tumor had completely disappeared, leaving a hole in the skin under her left breast

This is one of the most astonishing responses I have seen,' said medical oncologist Paul Chapman.
'It reminds us of the potential power of the immune system if we can remove the "brakes" that keep it from attacking cancer cells.'

In Wired, The Future of Cancer Treatment is (Almost) Here

One of the newest developments in cancer detection and monitoring is something called a liquid biopsy. It’s a test that can detect tumor DNA circulating in the blood. I think it’s the most exciting thing I’ve seen since I started my career.

Genetic Treatments

New era of medicine begins as first children cured of genetic disorder  The pioneering therapy offers hope to the hundreds thousands of people suffering from inherited conditions.

British doctors have cured youngsters of a deadly inherited disorder using a ground-breaking stem cell treatment which heralds a new dawn for genetic therapies. Patients with the most severe form of the rare blood condition Wiskott-Aldrich Syndrome have now been free of the disease for four years.

The treatment works by removing bone marrow stem cells – the type of cells which create new blood cells – and replacing the faulty part of the genetic code with a healthy gene. When the stem cells are replaced in the patient they then begin producing healthy blood cells, free from disease.


There is NO link between MMR and autism - even in high-risk children, landmark study declares
The findings, in the Journal of the American Medical Association, are based on a study of about 95,000 young people. Some children in the study had elder siblings with autism but researchers found vaccines had no effect on autism risk, whether or not a sibling in the family was diagnosed

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:55 PM | Permalink

Some practical tips you can use

Just doing Housework keeps adults physically and emotionally fit
Apparently, it's more vital to health and happiness than income or the area you live due to  the physical exertion involved in doing common chores.  It's no surprise that people living in a chaotic environment seemed less satisfied than those in a place that was neat and tidy.

The more you are on Facebook, the more likely you are to feel sad or depressed

Drink milk after a workout instead of water.  It's far better for rehydrating.
"The reason, she explains, is because milk releases very slowly into the small intestine, so it is absorbed much more gradually into the bloodstream, helping the body retain fluid for longer. It also has a high number of electrolytes, including sodium and potassium, which are lost from the body when sweating."

How To Chop An Onion Without Crying .  Don't chop the root part which contains most all the sulfur.  Ramone Dickerson shows you what he means.

Simple tips to make fresh cut flowers last longer Place in HOT water then cool, preserve with hairspray and don't keep them near bananas

20 surprising things you didn't know you could do with coffee FILTERS

7. Pot plants without soil spillage
When repotting a plant from the nursery, pop a coffee filter at the bottom of the new pot so that soil doesn’t leak out on the floor. This is especially useful for house plants.

19. Polish your shoes
Coffee filters are perfect for polishing leather shoes as they are lint-free and so won’t leave unsightly streak marks on your shoes. Apply a dab of your favorite shoe polish on the filter and use it as an applicator.

Forget white wine, remove red wine stains with GIN: Chemist reveals how alcohol, vinegar and SPIT can replace expensive cleaning products The video was created by Washington-based American Chemical Society and
reveals three 'hacks' to tackle stains on windows, carpets and counters and the science behind them.

14 incredibly simple hacks for wine lovers
Everyone should know this one:  To chill your wine in no time at all, wrap your bottle in a couple of sheets of wet paper towels  and put it in the freezer for ten minutes.  The best  tips on how to remove red wine stains
1. Pour milk on the stain while it is still wet and let the milk soak in. The stain should then be gone in an hour.
2. Cover the spilled wine with table salt and letting it absorb the stain. Then brush the salt off the fabric.
3. If If the wine has dried into a stubborn stain, cover it with shaving cream and then wash it in the washing machine in a hot water cycle.
4. Another method for getting rid of dried wine stains is by spreading a half-inch-thick layer of kitty litter over the entire stain and pushing it into the fabric. Then remove the litter with a vacuum.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:53 PM | Permalink

Celebrating Earth Day with Michael Crichton

To celebrate Earth Day, I thought some Michael Crichton quotes are in order.  From Michael Crichton's official website

One of the most popular writers of all time, Crichton's books have sold more than 200 million copies worldwide. His works have been translated into 38 languages, and made into 13 feature films….Crichton was also prolific as a writer, director and producer of film and television. He was the creator and executive producer of the Emmy Award-winning television drama ER, wrote and directed films including WESTWORLD, THE GREAT TRAIN ROBBERY and COMA and was the screenwriter of JURASSIC PARK and RISING SUN, among others. …Crichton became the only creative artist in history to have works simultaneously chart at No. 1 in U.S. television, film and books sales.

On Consensus Science
Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you're being had.
Let's be clear: the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus. There is no such thing as consensus science. If it's consensus, it isn't science. If it's science, it isn't consensus. Period.

A lecture at the California Institute of Technology (17 January 2003).

On Environmentalism as a Religion
I think that you cannot eliminate religion from the psyche of mankind. If you suppress it in one form, it merely emerges in another form. Even if you don't believe in God, you still have to believe in something that gives meaning to your life, and shapes your sense of the world. Such a belief is religious.
Today, one of the most powerful religions in the Western World is environmentalism.  Environmentalism seems to be the religion of choice for urban atheists.
We need to get environmentalism out of the sphere of religion. We need to stop the mythic fantasies, and we need to stop the doomsday predictions. We need to start doing hard science instead.  Environmentalism needs to be absolutely based in objective and verifiable science, it needs to be rational, and it needs to be flexible. And it needs to be apolitical.
In the end, science offers us the only way out of politics. And if we allow science to become politicized, then we are lost. We will enter the Internet version of the dark ages, an era of shifting fears and wild prejudices, transmitted to people who don't know any better.

The notion that the natural world obeys its own rules and doesn't give a damn about your expectations comes as a massive shock… it will demand that you adapt to it — and if you don't, you die. It is a harsh, powerful, and unforgiving world, that most urban westerners have never experienced.

Speech in San Francisco, California (15 September 2003)

On Science
Science is nothing more than a method of inquiry. The method says an assertion is valid — and merits universal acceptance — only if it can be independently verified. The impersonal rigor of the method means it is utterly apolitical. A truth in science is verifiable whether you are black or white, male or female, old or young. It's verifiable whether you like the results of a study, or you don't.

Testimony before the US Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (28 September 2005).

Social control is best managed through fear.

I am certain there is too much certainty in the world.

State of Fear

Things do not turn out the way you think they will.

They didn't understand what they were doing. I'm afraid that will be on the tombstone of the human race


In a media-saturated world, persistent hype lends unwarranted credulity to the wildest claims.

Life is hard, but it's harder if you're stupid.


“If you don't know [your family's] history, then you don't know anything. You are a leaf that doesn't know it is part of a tree”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:28 AM | Permalink

More on the Wisconsin John Doe investigations and Trust in Government

Patterico  State-Sponsored SWATtings in Wisconsin, Courtesy of “John Doe” Investigations 

It’s the type of activity you would expect to see from the Stasi in East Germany. Conservative activists in Wisconsin literally do not feel safe. They think that police could burst into their homes at any moment to punish them for their First Amendment activity.

In a country that actually valued freedom, this story would spark front-page headlines all over the country. It would be all anyone would be talking about for weeks, and nobody would rest until we knew it could never, ever happen again.

We are no longer such a country.

Washington Post: There are a remarkably small number of people who trust the government  Buried in a massive Pew study on the public's feelings about data and open government is this amazing nugget: Just 23 percent trust the federal government to do the right thing "at least most of the time."

In Gallup pollAmericans continue to name the government (18%) as the most important U.S. problem, a distinction it has had for the past four months. Americans' mentions of the economy as the top problem (11%) dropped this month, leaving it tied with jobs (10%) for second place.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:31 AM | Permalink

The 20th century Genocides Even Our Government Is Afraid to Recognize

I've known about the slaughter of the Armenians for decades, but only knew that it was Muslims against Christians in the past two or three years.

Pope Francis infuriated the government of Turkey by using the word “genocide” leading up to April 24, the 100th anniversary of the start of the mass murder of as many as 1.5 million Armenians in what was then the Ottoman Empire. That atrocity, amid the chaos and rivalries of World War One, is often regarded as the forerunner and inspiration for Nazi efforts to exterminate the Jews of Europe.

Genocide of the Christians: The blood-soaked depravity exceeded even today's atrocities by Islamic State - now, 100 years on Turkey faces global disgust at its refusal to admit butchering over a MILLION Armenians

The Armenians — who lived on the eastern edge of the empire ruled from Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul) — were Christians and had been since the year 301, making theirs the first nation officially to adopt Christianity, even before Rome.  But here, among the Islamic Turks, they had long been second-class citizens, a persecuted minority.

Now, as power in the land was seized by a junta of nationalist officers known as the Young Turks, persecution turned to unbridled savagery. Over the next six months, there was to be a systematic uprooting and slaughter of perhaps as many as 1.5 million Armenians — on the grounds that they were infidels, racially inferior ‘dogs’ and traitors who were siding with Russia against Turkey.
Outside of Turkey, the position is strangely confused. Around two dozen countries acknowledge the truth of the Armenian genocide, despite often strong-arm diplomacy by Turkey to dissuade them and put Ankara’s gloss on past events. They will be greatly heartened by the Pope’s stance.  But others have chosen to sit on the fence, notably the United States, unwilling to cross swords with a Nato ally that is geographically so close to Russia.

Before coming to office, President Obama promised his nation’s one million people with Armenian roots that he would recognize that genocide had occurred, but has not yet dared to utter the word, hiding behind the less-damning Armenian phrase ‘Medz Yeghern’ — the great crime or the great catastrophe.

Yet, ironically, it was an American who first made the world aware of what happened. Back in 1915, Henry Morgenthau was the U.S. Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, and on his desk in Constantinople landed reports from American consuls in far-flung Turkish cities, documenting massacres and death marches.He concluded: ‘I do not believe the darkest ages ever presented scenes more horrible.’

Unleashed on the Armenians, Turkish policemen and soldiers ransacked Christian churches and handed bishops and priests over to the mob…..Crucifixion was treated as a sport. ‘As the sufferer writhes in his agony, they would cry: “Now let your Christ come and help you”.’

When orders were given to assemble all the Armenians and march them out into the desert, Morgenthau had no doubt that this was ‘the death warrant to a whole race’. Moreover, he said: ‘In their conversations with me, the authorities made no particular attempt to conceal the fact’.
Convicts were let out of prison to help with the killings. Locals joined in, too. In Ankara, all Armenian men aged 15 to 70 were bound in fours and led out to a secluded valley, where Turkish peasants hacked them to death with scythes, spades and saws.  ‘In this way, they exterminated the whole male population.’

 !Million Armenians Killed
This week, Turkey’s president declared that Armenians pressing Turkey to recognize massacres as genocide are simply trying to score points against his country. ‘Their aim is not to search for the truth, but to attack Turkey and cause it harm,’ he contends.

But such defiance flies in the face of history. Arnold J. Toynbee, a British intelligence agent at the time (and later a distinguished historian), wrote that ‘all this horror was inflicted on the Armenians without a shadow of provocation’.

I had never heard of the Greek / Pontic Genocide or the Christian Assyrian Genocide, both of which the Ottomans (Young Turks)  committed in conjunction with the Armenian genocide until I read this article Concerning other little-known religious 'genocides' on the edges of the news

In the April 15 issue of The Christian Century, Baylor University historian Philip Jenkins reports on another 2015 centennial that major media have ignored – the “Sayfo” (“sword” year) memorialized by Christian Assyrians. Among other events, historians will examine this at the Free University of Berlin June 24-28. During that dying era of the empire with its historic Muslim Caliphate, hundreds of thousands of ethnic Greeks were also killed during the “Pontic” ethnic cleansing.
Jenkins depicts their “glorious” past civilization centered on the Diyarbakir region with its 100 monasteries…..“That world came to a sudden and bloody end,” Jenkins says. At the outset of the war the Assyrians totaled around 600,000, largely in present-day northern Iraq and adjacent Syria and Turkey. What he calls “the Assyrian genocide” exterminated half that population through direct killing or starvation, perhaps more, with 95 percent dead in one province.

Jenkins says Ottoman, Kurdish, or Arab troops repeatedly committed mass murder of men, burned women alive, and bayoneted or drowned children. Historian David Gaunt reports that the Syrian Orthodox counted the deaths of seven bishops, 154 priests and 90,313 lay believers and the destruction of 156 church buildings. The Chaldeans lost six bishops, 50 priests, and 50,000 parishioners. The Nestorians were so devastated and scattered they could never compile data.

From Wikipedia on the Greek / Pontic Genocide

The Greek genocide, part of which is known as the Pontic genocide, was the systematic ethnic cleansing of the Christian Ottoman Greek population from its historic homeland in Anatolia during World War I and its aftermath (1914–23). It was instigated by the government of the Ottoman Empire against the Greek population of the Empire and it included massacres, forced deportations involving death marches, summary expulsions, arbitrary execution, and the destruction of Christian Orthodox cultural, historical, and religious monuments. According to various sources, several hundred thousand Ottoman Greeks died during this period. Most of the refugees and survivors fled to Greece (amounting to over a quarter of the prior population of Greece), some, especially those in Eastern provinces, took refuge in the neighboring Russian Empire. Thus by the end of the 1919–22 Greco-Turkish War, most of the Greeks of Asia Minor had fled or been killed.

According to a German military attaché, the Ottoman minister of war Ismail Enver had declared in October 1915 that he wanted to "solve the Greek problem during the war... in the same way he believe[d] he solved the Armenian problem."
In July 1915 the Greek chargé d'affaires explained that 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." According to George W. Rendel of the British Foreign Office, by 1918 "...over 500,000 Greeks were deported of whom comparatively few survived."
The Allies of World War I condemned the Ottoman government-sponsored massacres as crimes against humanity
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:29 AM | Permalink

This is a safe time for kids to play outside and unsupervised

The Washington Post: There’s never been a safer time to be a kid in America

The first thing to note is that the overall child mortality rate in the United States has literally never been lower. In 1935, for instance, there were nearly 450 deaths for every 100,000 children aged 1 to 4. Today, there are fewer than 30 deaths for every 100,000 kids in that age group -- more than a tenfold decrease……Much of that decline can be attributed to the rise of childhood vaccines…..

Part of that decline is a drop in child homicides. As of 2008, the homicide rate for kids under the age of 14 stood at a near-record low 1.5 cases per 100,000, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. And the homicide rate for teens ages 14 to 17 plummeted from 12 homicides per 100,000 in 1993 to just 5.1 in 2008, another near-record low….

Reports of missing children are down 40% since 1997.

Child pedestrians are much less likely to be struck by cars today.
Bottom line: If it was safe enough for you to play unsupervised outside when you were a kid, it's even safer for your own children to do so today.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:09 AM | Permalink

Killing Birds

Wind Turbines Kill More Birds Than BP Oil Spill

It’s been five years since BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded and released 5 million barrels of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico….The liberal blog Mother Jones reports that 800,000 birds have been killed and the Pelican population in the Gulf has decreased 12 percent. While the 2010 Gulf spill was indeed a horrible disaster, the number of birds that died pales in comparison the number killed in the last five years due to wind turbines.
A 2013 study found that 573,000 birds and 888,000 bats are killed every year by wind turbines — a figure 30 percent higher than the federal government estimated in 2009. These deaths have likely increased as wind power capacity increases across the country…..

In the time since the 2010 BP oil spill, some 2.9 million birds have been killed by wind turbines, using Smallwood’s figures, compared to only 800,000 that have been killed by the oil spill — the oil spill deaths are based on figures compiled by the news site Climate Desk. It should also be noted that wind turbines routinely kill federally protected birds and eagles.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:07 AM | Permalink

April 21, 2015

"Is this America?" The John Doe investigations in Wisconsin

In  one of the scariest articles I've ever read, David French exposes Wisconsin’s Shame: ‘I Thought It Was a Home Invasion’

Another example of the "weaponization of government"  -like the IRS and Lois Lerner - where government power is used to destroy political opponents.  These are police state tactics we once thought only Nazis or Communists used against people who didn't think the right way.  These are corrupt brutal actions brought to intimidate and quash dissent.   

Cindy Archer, one of the lead architects of Wisconsin’s Act 10 — also called the “Wisconsin Budget Repair Bill,” it limited public-employee benefits and altered collective-bargaining rules for public-employee unions — was jolted awake by yelling, loud pounding at the door, and her dogs’ frantic barking. The entire house — the windows and walls — was shaking. She looked outside to see up to a dozen police officers, yelling to open the door. They were carrying a battering ram.
….They wouldn’t let her speak to a lawyer. She looked outside and saw a person who appeared to be a reporter. Someone had tipped him off. ….Then they left, carrying with them only a cellphone and a laptop.
"Anne" describes how her home was invaded.
Someone was pounding at her front door. It was early in the morning — very early — and it was the kind of heavy pounding that meant someone was either fleeing from — or bringing — trouble. “It was so hard. I’d never heard anything like it. I thought someone was dying outside.” She ran to the door, opened it, and then chaos. “People came pouring in. For a second I thought it was a home invasion. It was terrifying. They were yelling and running, into every room in the house. One of the men was in my face, yelling at me over and over and over.”
It was indeed a home invasion, but the people who were pouring in were Wisconsin law-enforcement officers. Armed, uniformed police swarmed into the house. Plainclothes investigators cornered her and her newly awakened family. Soon, state officials were seizing the family’s personal property, including each person’s computer and smartphone, filled with the most intimate family information. Why were the police at Anne’s home? She had no answers. The police were treating them the way they’d seen police treat drug dealers on television. In fact, TV or movies were their only points of reference, because they weren’t criminals. They were law-abiding. They didn’t buy or sell drugs. They weren’t violent. They weren’t a danger to anyone. Yet there were cops — surrounding their house on the outside, swarming the house on the inside. They even taunted the family as if they were mere “perps.”

As if the home invasion, the appropriation of private property, and the verbal abuse weren’t enough, next came ominous warnings. Don’t call your lawyer. Don’t tell anyone about this raid. Not even your mother, your father, or your closest friends. The entire neighborhood could see the police around their house, but they had to remain silent...

"Rachel's  ordeal began before dawn — with the same loud, insistent knocking. Still in her pajamas, Rachel answered the door and saw uniformed police, poised to enter her home. When Rachel asked to wake her children herself, the officer insisted on walking into their rooms. The kids woke to an armed officer, standing near their beds. The entire family was herded into one room, and there they watched as the police carried off their personal possessions, including items that had nothing to do with the subject of the search warrant — even her daughter’s computer.

The mom watched as her entire life was laid open before the police. Her professional files, her personal files, everything. She knew this was all politics. She knew a rogue prosecutor was targeting her for her political beliefs. And she realized, “Every aspect of my life is in their hands. And they hate me.”
For select conservative families across five counties, this was the terrifying moment — the moment they felt at the mercy of a truly malevolent state. Speaking both on and off the record, targets reflected on how many layers of Wisconsin government failed their fundamental constitutional duties — the prosecutors who launched the rogue investigations, the judge who gave the abuse judicial sanction, investigators who chose to taunt and intimidate during the raids, and those police who ultimately approved and executed aggressive search tactics on law-abiding, peaceful citizens.
O’Keefe, who has been in contact with multiple targeted families, says, “Every family I know of that endured a home raid has been shaken to its core, and the fate of marriages and families still hangs in the balance in some cases.
This was the on-the-ground reality of the so-called John Doe investigations, expansive and secret criminal proceedings that directly targeted Wisconsin residents because of their relationship to Scott Walker, their support for Act 10, and their advocacy of conservative reform. Largely hidden from the public eye, this traumatic process, however, is now heading toward a legal climax, with two key rulings expected in the late spring or early summer.

The first ruling, from the Wisconsin supreme court, could halt the investigations for good, in part by declaring that the "misconduct" being investigated isn't misconduct at all but the simple exercise of First Amendment rights. The second ruling, from the United States Supreme Court, could grant review on a federal lawsuit brought by Wisconsin political activist Eric O’Keefe and the Wisconsin Club for Growth, the first conservatives to challenge the investigations head-on. If the Court grants review, it could not only halt the investigations but also begin the process of holding accountable those public officials who have so abused their powers.

USA Today: Wisconsin's dirty prosecutors pull a Putin by Glenn Harlan Reynolds

"Is this un-American? Yes, yes it is. And the prosecutors involved — who were attacking supporters of legislation that was intended to rein in unions' power in the state — deserve to be punished. Abusing law enforcement powers to punish political opponents, and to discourage contributions to political enemies, is a crime, and it should also be grounds for disbarment."

The people who perpetrated this in Wisconsin were Milwaukee district attorney John Chisholm and Judge Barbara Kluka who must named and shamed, prosecuted and sued.

 Chisholm+ Kulka

"America, land of the free, home of battering-ram home invasions of conservative critics of state officials" tweeted Declan McCullagh

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:41 PM | Permalink

April 20, 2015

"Seventy is the new Fifty"

Middle age now lasts until 74 as baby boomers refuse to grow old
Old age does not begin until 74, researchers suggest in a new report which looks at the real impact of an aging population

New research suggests that old age now starts at 74, with middle age lasting at least nine years longer than current estimates.  Academics from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Vienna, Austria, argue that old age should be measured not by age, but by how long people have left to live.

In the 1950s a 65-year-old in Britain could expect to live a further 15 years.  But today’s baby boomers are expected to live far longer after retirement. A recent estimate by the Office for National Statistics suggests that the average retiree can look forward to drawing their pension for up to 24 years – as much as 50 per cent longer than their parents’ generation.  Researchers say that old age should be defined as having 15 or fewer years left to live, which for the baby boomers means that they are still middle aged until their 74th year.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:56 PM | Permalink

Edible passwords

Paypal developing stomach acid-powered pill that automatically logs you into accounts

PayPal is developing a new generation of edible passwords which stay lodged in your stomach to let you log in.
Jonathan Leblanc, the company’s top developer, said that the devices would be powered by stomach acid and include mini computers.  He said that technology had become so advanced that it allowed ‘true integration with the human body’.  The next wave of passwords will be edible, ingestible or injectable and will remove the need for what he called ‘antiquated’ ways of confirming your identity, such as fingerprint scanning.
Mr Leblanc, the Global Head of Developer Evangelism at PayPal, said in a presentation called ‘Kill All Passwords’ that he wants to ‘put users in charge of their own security’.  He said that passwords as they are now were not working and that users need to ‘harden it with something physical behind it’.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:57 PM | Permalink

California drought a man-made disaster

I'm far from California, but I worked in the federal government for several years with the Endangered  Species Act so, despite my warm feelings for animals, I know what a terrible, draconian law it is.  In a time of severe drought, the law is perverse and its effects on our food supply will affect the entire nation.

'Man-made disaster': Critics say California drought caused by misguided environment policies
“This is a man-made disaster,” said Bonner Cohen, senior fellow with the National Center for Public Policy Research. “Southern California is an arid part of the world where droughts -- even severe droughts -- are commonplace, and knowing this, you’d think the government of California would have included this mathematical certainty in its disaster preparedness planning, but the government has done nothing, not even store rain, as the population has continued to grow.”
Droughts are nothing new in California, but right now, 70 percent of California's rainfall washes out to sea because liberals have prevented the construction of a single new reservoir or a single new water conveyance system over decades, during a period in which California’s population has doubled,” said Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett Packard and likely GOP presidential candidate. “This is the classic case of liberals being willing to sacrifice other people's lives and livelihoods at the altar of their ideology.
During the current drought, which began in 2012, and by some estimates could be the most severe in recorded history, billions of gallons of water have been diverted from farmlands, according to a report by the Washington D.C.-based Heritage Foundation, with the American Farm Bureau estimating that between 400,000 acres and 500,000 acres of crops will be lost.

Fiorina said it’s a “tragedy” that the agricultural land in California, the most productive in the world, has been destroyed, along with farming jobs because of politics, policy, and liberal environmentalists."

 California Water Use

‘What Civilized Society Destroys Its Own Food Source For A Three-Inch Fish?'  (video)
Republican Assemblywoman Shannon Grove — who represents part of Kern County, the second largest agricultural sector in the country — has been trying to get the word out about how Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations apparently are literally draining water into the sea all for the sake of a three-inch fish.

Should California Spend 4 Billion Gallons to Save a Few Fish?
"IN THE THE heart of California’s drought-parched Central Valley, fruit and vegetable supplier to the nation, a water district is defying a federal order to give some endangered trout a 3.9 billion gallon water ride out to sea. And it could be the first skirmish in a much wider conflict."

California’s Water Woes Are Priceless by Holman Jenkins in the WSJ
The problem can be solved in five words: charge realistic prices for water......Right now, farmers receive their public water through occult combinations of hereditary rights, political lobbying, and an emerging market of transferable water rights that politicians keep threatening to kill. ....Making the desert bloom is a lovely sentiment but makes sense only if it makes economic sense: Using five gallons of California’s water to produce a walnut probably doesn’t make sense if water is realistically priced. But then neither does a forthcoming San Diego plant that would incur large energy costs to convert seawater into drinking water.

Joel Kotkin in the Daily Beast, California Is So Over
"California’s drought and how it’s handled show just what kind of place the Golden State is becoming: feudal, super-affluent and with an impoverished interior.
What we are witnessing the breakdown of a once-expansive, open society into one dominated by a small group of plutocrats, largely in Silicon Valley, with an “amen” crew among the low-information donors of Hollywood, the public unions, the green lobby, and wealthy real estate developers favored by Brown’s pro-density policies. This coalition backs Brown and helps maintain the state’s essentially one-party system. No one is more adamant about reducing people’s carbon footprint than the jet set of Silicon Valley or the state’s planning elite, even if they choose not to live in a manner that they instruct all others.

This fundamentally hypocritical regime remains in place because it works—for the powerful and well-placed. 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:32 AM | Permalink

Health roundup: Turbo-charging cancer-killing T cells, MS drug repairs myelin, how Alzheimher's is caused, increased risks for dementia, talking therapy and more

New drug could reverse the damage of multiple sclerosis
A new experimental drug, called anti-LINGO-1, has been found to repair myelin, radically improving nerve signalling.

Scientists find key to 'turbo-charging' immune system to kill all cancers
In a breakthrough described as a ‘game-changer’ for cancer treatment, researchers at Imperial College found a previously unknown molecule which boosts the body’s ability to fight off chronic illnesses…..This is a completely unknown protein. Nobody had ever seen it before or was even aware that it existed. It looks and acts like no other protein.”  The protein – named lymphocyte expansion molecule, or LEM, promotes the spread of cancer-killing ‘T cells’ by generating large amounts of energy.

Normally when the immune system detects cancer it goes into overdrive trying to fight the disease, flooding the body with T cells. But it quickly runs out of steam.  However the new protein causes a massive energy boost which makes T cells in such great numbers that the cancer cannot fight them off.  It also causes a boost of immune memory cells which are able to recognize tumors and viruses they have encountered previously so there is less chance that they will return.

Alzheimer's breakthrough as researchers say they may have discovered how disease is caused and say it 'opens new doors' in search for a treatment.  Researchers have made a major breakthrough in discovering how Alzheimer's is caused - and say it could lead to new treatments. The new study shows that our immune system,… plays a part in the debilitating disease.  The Duke University study in mice found that in Alzheimer's disease, certain immune cells that normally protect the brain begin to abnormally consume an important nutrient: arginine.  Blocking this process with a small-molecule drug prevented the characteristic brain plaques and memory loss in a mouse model of the disease.

Having depression or diabetes raises the risk of dementia by up to 80% - and even more if you suffer both
Having diabetes is associated with a 20% greater risk of developing dementia.  A depression diagnosis was associated with an 83% increased risk.  Being diagnosed with both conditions increases the risk by 117%
As many as one in five people with type 2 diabetes also have depression.

Antidepressants? You might be better off TALKING: Psychotherapy can 're-wire' the brain - without the side-effects of drugs
People with depression show hyperactivity in certain areas of the brain. Eight weeks of psychotherapy was shown to correct this hyperactivity . The talking treatment can 're-wire' the brain without drugs, said the researchers, using brain-imaging technology at the University of Kassel in Germany.

Prescriptions for anti-depressants have more than trebled since 1998 in the world’s richest countries, a study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development found.Some 62 per cent of depression sufferers are now treated with drugs. However, many anti-depressants have side effects including nausea, a dry mouth, blurring of vision, constipation, dizziness, drowsiness, insomnia and sexual dysfunction.

The popular painkiller Tylenol can reduce feelings of sadness AND happiness, claims study
Previous research has shown that when people take acetaminophen for three weeks, their feelings get hurt less when they are socially rejected. That could be because pain is pain; whether it comes from a bump or a break-up, pain seems to travel through the same neurochemical pathways. In another study published in 2013, people who took acetaminophen thought about their own death less negatively than those who weren’t on anything. And a study this year found that when faced with a tough choice, acetaminophen helps dull the discomfort

Contraceptive pill can 'make women more anxious by shrinking part of their brain', study warns
UCLA study found the Pill shrinks two parts of the brain linked to emotion.  Synthetic hormones found in the contraceptive are thought to be at blame. Neuroscientists at UCLA believe it could account for increased anxiety and depressive episodes

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:01 AM | Permalink

April 18, 2015

Miscellany 10

The HBO 'Static Intro' is the Most Powerful Force in the Universe

You know the HBO “Static Intro” as soon as you hear it. There’s the sound of a TV powering on. It’s followed by the appearance of a white line that spreads across the screen, and it fills in the darkness with the static snow of an old black-and-white TV set. The electric snowstorm is joined by a single tone that ascends like a gospel choir singing to the heavens. One that revs your emotions.

More about static. Did you know that the static you hear as you search for a radio station is the sound of "cosmic microwave background radiation", composed of photons of energy that are still cooling 15 billion years after the Big Bang.  Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson won the Nobel prize in physics in 1978 for discovering this.  It's also called the 'afterglow of creation'.

It accounts for 99.9 % of all the particles of light, or photons, in the Universe.Remarkably, only 0.1 per cent is tied up in the light from the stars and nebulae and galaxies. If you were in space with ‘magic glasses’ that showed microwaves, you would see the whole of the Universe glowing brightly with the big bang afterglow just as if you were inside a light bulb.

NASA is planning on using glitter clouds to help make contact with new worlds.  Lasers would align each glitter grain in the same direction, transforming clouds of glitter dust into a reflective surface that would enable high-resolution imaging in space at a very low cost.

40 Inspiring Workspaces Of The Famously Creative
From tiny writing desks to giant painting studios, the only thing all of these creative studios have in common is that they inspired their successful inhabitants to create greatness. 


Man Invents Shoe That Grows 5 Sizes to Help Millions of Poor Children
Kenton Lee invented The Shoe That Grows,  a sandal that comes with snaps in the front, back, and sides. It can expand to 5 shoe sizes. The shoes comes in small and large varieties, so two pairs of shoes can meet a child's footwear needs from the ages of 5 to 15.  The charity that distributes the shoes, Because International, lives out its motto of practical compassion.

An albino dolphin that turns PINK when he's angry or sad: Mammal baffles scientists by blushing when he gets emotional. Its thin skin means it changes color when it's emotional like a human.  The rare albino dolphin lives at the Taiji Whale Museum in southern Japan.

 Pink Dolphin

11 images that capture the incredible vastness of space


Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:20 PM | Permalink

April 17, 2015

Identity politics

Richard Fernandez on The Future of Identity Politics

Matt Walsh says its time to call identity politics off.  ”No, it isn’t ‘time for a woman to be president.’”, he says. “It’s time for a competent adult of either gender to be president.”  But describing the possibility of a world without identity politics to the Left, a world in which only individuals matter, is like suggesting life after death. The “progressive” site South Lawn looks at one proposal to save identity politics by redefining “whiteness” as an ideology.  It is “a specific and foundational origin of violence … an intentional and specifically curated identity, culture institution and strategy of domination created by white people themselves to keep Black, indigenous and other racialized pepole down”. In that world, anyone can be “white” as long as they think the wrong thoughts.
Who can be an identity certificate authority? Anna Louise Bardach of the New York Times thinks that America’s newspaper of record must have that power. She tries to assert that neither Ted Cruz nor Marco Rubio are Hispanic. How could they be? First of all they are Republican. In the second place they are “white” and therefore members of “”a specific and foundational origin of violence … an intentional and specifically curated identity, culture institution and strategy of domination created by white people themselves to keep Black, indigenous and other racialized pepole down.”

The principal guardians of identity will be teams of lawyers hired by the Left ready to pounce on anyone who dares believe his own lying eyes. The problem with making race dependent on certification that is creates the danger that the number of whites will rise.  Eugene Volokh in what has since become a classic LA Times article noted in 1998 that Asians were becoming white.


Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:18 PM | Permalink

Good grief

Defense Department: The Bible, Constitution And Declaration Of Independence All Perpetuate Sexism  according to a Defense Department-approved “sexism course,”

‘Free-range’ kids and our parenting police state A ten-year-old boy and six-year-old sister returning home on sunny afternoon from a park two and a half blocks away when the Montgomery, Md police picked them up, coerced them into a squad car and kept them there for three hours without notifying the parents and then took them to a crisis center where they were held for another two and a half hours without dinner.

"Their mom, Danielle Meitiv, said to her Facebook friends. “We finally got home at 11 pm and the kids slept in our room because we were all exhausted and terrified.”
Take a look at the first-grade readiness checklist from a 1979 book, “Your Six-Year-Old — Loving and Defiant.”….
Can he travel alone in the neighborhood (four to eight blocks) to store, school, playground, or to a friend’s home?"

The parents are going to file suit and I say good for them
"A D.C-based law firm will file suit and pursue “all legal remedies” to protect the rights of the Maryland parents whose two young children were taken into custody for more than five hours Sunday after someone reported them as they made their way home unsupervised from a Silver Spring park, the firm said Tuesday.

Danielle and Alexander Meitiv were “rightfully outraged by the irresponsible actions” of Maryland Child Protective Services and Montgomery County police, said attorney Matthew Dowd, of the firm Wiley Rein, in a written statement,
“We must ask ourselves how we reached the point where a parent’s biggest fear is that government officials will literally seize our children off the streets as they walk in our neighborhoods,” he said."

No Top Law Firms Will Represent Traditional Marriage at the Supreme Court

"It should be noted that many major firms climbed all over each other to represent the suspected terrorists held at Guantanamo. Law firms routinely represent clients who have bad reputations, murderers, polluters, tax cheats, and bank robbers. But it seems the power of the LGBT lobby has placed defenders of traditional marriage well beyond the legal pale, unworthy of representation."

Even powerful partners in large firms will say privately they must keep quiet about certain of their beliefs, including opposing abortion, and especially opposing gay marriage, careful not to put anything on Facebook or Twitter, and never to let even their closest colleagues know that they believe marriage cannot occur between men.

The Case Against Gay Marriage: Top Law Firms Won’t Touch It But some conservatives say lawyers and scholars who support religious liberty and oppose a constitutional right to same-sex marriage have been bullied into silence. “The level of sheer desire to crush dissent is pretty unprecedented,” said Michael W. McConnell, a former federal appeals court judge who teaches law at Stanford.

Colorado Legislatures Are So Zealously Committed to Abortion, They Will Not Even Criminalize Killers Who Cut Babies Out of Their Mothers' Wombs Against Their Wishes. "That is not some hypothetical, of course -- that just happened. An attacker stabbed a pregnant woman in her home, and left her for dead -- but not before cutting her baby out of her.

The baby died, the woman did not -- but this grisly murderer can't be charged with murder, because prosecutors claim the law doesn't permit murder charges involving a fetus. (Though I smell a strong whiff of "I don't want to" in this claim of "I can't.")"

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:16 PM | Permalink

ISIS abroad and close by

ISIS Camp a Few Miles from El Paso, Mexican Authorities Confirm
"During the course of a joint operation last week, Mexican Army and federal law enforcement officials discovered documents in Arabic and Urdu, as well as “plans” of Fort Bliss – the sprawling military installation that houses the US Army’s 1st Armored Division. Muslim prayer rugs were recovered with the documents during the operation.
According to these same sources, “coyotes” engaged in human smuggling – and working for Juárez Cartel – help move ISIS terrorists through the desert and across the border between Santa Teresa and Sunland Park, New Mexico. To the east of El Paso and Ciudad Juárez, cartel-backed “coyotes” are also smuggling ISIS terrorists through the porous border between Acala and Fort Hancock, Texas. These specific areas were targeted for exploitation by ISIS because of their understaffed municipal and county police forces, and the relative safe-havens the areas provide for the unchecked large-scale drug smuggling that was already ongoing."

That means ISIS is in the U.S.
"It is now known that ISIS intends to target railways and airport facilities in the vicinity of Santa Teresa, NM (a US port-of-entry). ISIS also has “spotters” located in the East Potrillo Mountains of New Mexico (largely managed by the Bureau of Land Management) to assist with terrorist border crossing operations. They are conducting reconnaissance of universities, the White Sands Missile Range, government facilities in Alamogordo, NM and Ft. Bliss, as well as the electrical power facilities near Anapra and Chaparral, NM. That ought to have Americans screaming, but no one seems to be noticing it much at all. That is apathetically suicidal. ISIS doesn’t tend to bluff and they have already told us they are coming.
Remember, this is the border that Obama refuses to secure. The border he has thrown open to welcome illegal immigrants. Those illegals coming over that border in the last year and a half, are primarily not Mexican. Many of them are other nationalities. It’s a welcome wagon for ISIS and other terrorists."
Just last week, ISIS released a video promising “We Will Burn America.” It calls for another 9/11 in America and for ISIS fighters to slaughter Americans across the globe. Don’t you think that it would be prudent to listen when someone with a proven murderous track record threatens to annihilate millions of Americans?"

More than 2000 families flee Ramadi 'with just the clothes on their backs[ as ISIS closes in.
"Houses and shops have been left deserted as resident try to escape the worsening violence. Months of ISIS pressure has left Iraqi forces outnumbered inside the city. US forces previously waged a eight year battle against insurgents in Ramadi and Fallujah."

The ISIS military market selling everything from miniature jihadi uniforms for children… to combat knives and machetes just like those used in beheading videos

-Nineveh Market Selling Isis Goods

"The photos come from the Iraqi province of Nineveh, where ISIS have recently been targeting historic archaeological sites as well as their bloodthirsty campaign against civilians.  Iraq always had gun souks but the growing number of local markets catering to the needs of new Islamic State recruits remains deeply worrying."

Having got rid of all the living Christians ISIS destroys Christian graves and headstones in Mosul with sledgehammers

 Isis Destroying Mosul Graves

"The group released a statement with the images that attempted to justify the mass desecration. It said that graves above the ground suggested that the dead person was closer to Allah than the living, so must be demolished and any images on the graves must be erased."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:55 PM | Permalink

Stunning view of Mt Washington

-Hard Rime Covering The Summit Of Mount Washington Were Sculpted -A-3 1429269355801

Hard rime covering the summit of Mount Washington were sculpted by some of the strongest winds on Earth

I've climbed to the top of Mt Washington….in the summer.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:23 PM | Permalink

April 10, 2015

Some Practical tips

43 Professionals Confess What Others Don’t Want You To Know

Cool Tools, Unroll.me.  And it's free

"I discovered Unroll.me, a free mailing list management service that works with Gmail, Google Apps, and Yahoo Mail. It does a great (but not perfect) job of finding the mailing lists you are subscribed to and presenting them as a list, allowing you to instantly unsubscribe to them by clicking with your mouse. As of today, I have used Unroll.me to unsubscribe to 1,601 mailing lists. It’s a dream come true.

"What about the mailing lists that I actually signed up for and like? Unroll.me is great for dealing with those, too. Instead of receiving the newsletters one-at-a-time in my inbox, I’ve added my 114 mailing list subscriptions to a “Rollup.” This is a daily digest prepared by Unroll.me that contains email from the subscriptions I care about (my bank, my health insurance provider, Audible.com, my kids’ school, James Altucher’s essays, etc.) You can click on any of the items in the Rollup email to see the full email.

5 Things to Know About Going Wi-Fi Only on Your Smartphone
"Since the majority of mobile data traffic flows over Wi-Fi, and more access points are being built daily, it is possible to never pay for wireless phone service again. Here are some considerations.

Michael Hyatt says the Best Entrepreneurs are over 40.  They have more life capital, intellectual capital, social capital and financial capital.  " Age isn’t a disqualifier for entrepreneurs. It’s more like a prerequisite."

Don’t be a bachelor: Why married men work harder, smarter and make more money.

1.After marrying, men assume a new identity which engenders an ethic of familial responsibility among men, as well as a new-found sense of meaning and status in the world. Marriage also encourages men to take their role as providers seriously.
2. Married men are motivated to maximize their income.
3. Married men benefit from the advice and encouragement of their wives.
4. Employers like married men with children.

Grill Fish on a Bed of Sliced Lemons to Keep It From Sticking

Clean Your Brick Fireplace with Cream of Tartar

13 Travel Tips That Will Make You Feel Smart
8. To keep your clothes smelling fresh, pop a dryer sheet in your suitcase.
12. Always make left turns in the security line to get through more quickly.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:17 PM | Permalink

Health Roundup: Cancer vaccine, more eggs, cheese and knitting, over-prescription of anti-depressants

Israeli Company's Vaccine Blocks 90% of Cancer Types Vaxil BioTherapeutics's ImMucin trains immune system to fight cancer cells and prevent the disease's return for early stages and remission.

The secret to staving off diabetes? Eat four eggs a week and plenty of cheese and yogurt

Researchers claim eating an egg every other day may keep diabetes at bay. Regular consumption cut the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by a third, according to a new study. A second study found similar health benefits from eating high fat dairy foods, such as cheese.  Second study found eating high fat cheese and yogurt lowered risk by 25%

French cheese diet 'reduces the risk of a heart attack'.  Experts claim that brie, camembert, roquefort - and any other variety - helps cut the amount of dangerous cholesterol in people's bodies, leading to a reduced risk of suffering a heart attack. The discovery is being hailed a new piece in the 'French paradox' puzzle which already shows that drinking red wine cuts cardiovascular disease rates.  Researchers found that those who consumed cheese had higher levels of butyrate, a compound produced by gut bacteria.  Higher levels of the chemical were linked to a reduction in cholesterol.

A passion for knitting and crocheting could protect against dementia  Arts and crafts enthusiasts are 75% less likely to suffer memory loss…Scientists at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota believe the findings highlight the importance of engaging the mind.  They found people who participate in arts and crafts, and those who socialize in middle and old age, were 73 per cent less likely to develop memory loss, which often leads to dementia.  The key, they believe, lies in the fact the activities stimulate the mind and help protect vital neurons - the building blocks of the brain.

So can middle-age spread

While traveling in certain foreign countries, think about a daily handful of peanuts a day. Handful of peanuts a day can shield you from food poisoning: Nuts found to improve health in the gut and body's ability to ward off bugs including E.Coli

Binge drinking as a teenager 'may damage the brain for life': Alcohol puts young people at risk of anxiety disorders and addiction
Binge drinking as a teenager can cause long-lasting damage to the brain well into adulthood, a new study has warned.
This is because drinking excessive amounts of alcohol when young can damage the brain and cause permanent changes to DNA.  This, in turn, can put teenagers at risk of anxiety disorders and alcoholism, researchers found.  Alcohol changes genes in brain cells, which stop the cells developing connections between them, altering behavior.

More than two thirds of people taking antidepressants 'may NOT actually have depression': Doctors discover many do not meet the official criteria

A study analyzed those taking selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and found that  69% did not meet the criteria for clinical depression and 38% did not meet the criteria for other mental conditions like anxiety
Experts: 'Drugs are prescribed without an evidence-based diagnosis'

Commenting on the study, Dr Howard Forman, medical director of the Addiction Consultation Service at Montefiore Medical Center, said clinical depression is distinct from temporary feelings of sadness. 'We all experience periods of stress, periods of sadness, and periods of self-doubt. These don’t make us mentally ill, they define us as human.'

In the U.S., official guidelines say clinical depression should be diagnosed if a person has five or more depressive symptoms over a two week period, most of the day, nearly every day. The symptoms include a depressed mood; a loss of interested or pleasure in activities; weight loss, weight gain or changes in appetite; insomnia or increased desire to sleep.  Other symptoms included restlessness or slowed behavior; fatigue or loss of energy; feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt; difficulty making decisions or trouble concentrating, and thoughts of death or suicide.

Prescriptions for anti-depressants have more than trebled since 1998 in the world’s richest countries, a study by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development found.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:06 PM | Permalink

Parenting Roundup: Play cards, tissue paper trick, jellyfish, the kids are not alright and under tremendous stress

Use scotch tape for cutting a toddler’s bangs from 4 Parenting Hacks That Make It Just A Little Easier.

Cutting little kids' hair is hard because they wiggle and squirm, and mine HATE the little pieces of hair falling on their faces which is why this totally works!  She can move and chatter as much as she wants and the straight line stays straight. Just cut along the top edge of tapeline, and the tape will hold most of the little cut ends so they don’t end up everywhere.

Bring a travel size can of shaving cream to the beach. Jellyfish stings are extremely painful.  Some swear that peeing on the sting helps but it only makes it worse says the British National Health Service.  Instead, apply shaving cream which apparently help prevent the spread of the toxins in the sting.  But who brings shaving cream to the beach? 

Fidgeting, whiney baby won't sleep?   The tissue paper trick: Nathan Dailo demonstrates in a Youtube video he demonstrates how stroking his 3-month-old son's face with a white piece of tissue paper sends him to sleep in 42 seconds.

Keep kids away from jet air hand dryers.  Another study shows why paper towels are the most hygienic way to dry your hands. Powerful jet air dryers can spray microbes up to 1.5m (a little less than 5 ft.) into the distance. They spray bacteria up to 0.9m (a little less than 3 ft) from the floor - the exact height of a child.    Researchers found 27 times more germs in the air around jet-air dryers in comparison with the air around paper towel dispensers.They found also found five times more bacteria around jet-air dryers than warm air dryers.  Experts: Parents should keep children away from air coming out of dryers.

Stressful life events in childhood like divorce can 'triple risk' of children getting diabetes.  Stressful life events in childhood such as death or illness in the family, divorce or separation can triple the risk of developing type 1 diabetes,  the type that requires daily insulin injections.  A Swedish study analyzed more than 10,000 families with children aged between two and 14 who did not already have the condition.

Play cardsSue Shellenbarger  reports Family Card Games Teach Math, Memory and Self-Confidence in the WSJ.

Looking for a way to help your children take turns, follow rules, learn math and memory skills and face competition in a healthy way? How about a game of Crazy Eights?

Card games can teach math and memory skills, as well as strategic thinking, psychologist and sociologists say. Also, the conversation and friendly rivalry that come with sitting down to play cards can strengthen family ties. Family games also can build children’s confidence: The rules are the same for everyone, and it is fun to play a game in which anyone can win.

“To be able to compete against parents and sometimes win is symbolically important to kids. They get a sense that ‘my time is coming,’ a little foretaste of not being under the parent’s thumb,” says William Doherty, professor of family social science at the University of Minnesota in St. Paul. Children also can learn to win and lose gracefully, he says—“to be happy but not gloat, and to lose and not pout.”

The kids are not alright.  American Teens Are Stressed and Bored.

But American youth, especially teens, are not in good emotional shape. They feel mostly “bored and checked out” at school, according to adolescence scholar Larry Steinberg. Academically, they are underachieving when compared to youth in other developed nations. And their mental health is declining. During the school year, their stress has edged beyond that of adults, according to a survey of the American Psychological Association last year. They rank in the bottom quarter among other developed nations on measures of well-being, life-satisfaction, and relationship quality, according to a recent UNICEF study.
The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning, the nation’s leading organization advancing this cause, says that children should have five core emotion competencies: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision making. Teaching kids about their feelings can mean the difference between whether a personal setback becomes chronic failure or strengthens resolve, whether a disagreement with a friend festers into anger or is navigated gracefully, whether the intellectual insight is fanned or extinguished.

Since character is no longer taught in school, new programs are being created to teach emotional skills and are proving successful.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:05 PM | Permalink

April 6, 2015

The New McCarthyism and what it means for Christians

Liberals Are the New McCarthyites—and They’re Proud of It

It was just over 60 years ago that the tactics of Senator Joseph McCarthy were repudiated when he was censured by the Senate in December 1954. Ever since then, McCarthyismthe reckless hurling of accusations at adversaries so as to destroy their reputations — has been considered one of the lowest forms of political behavior and one liberals love to crusade against.

…Reid’s response in the interview was fascinating. When asked by Bash if his tactic was McCarthyite he visibly shrugged on camera, smiled, and said “Well, they can call it whatever they want. Romney didn’t win, did he?” White House spokesman Josh Earnest refused to criticize Reid for his comment because it “was three years old,” when in reality Reid’s televised reveling in it was only three days old

Conor Friedersdorf in The Atlantic Should Mom-and-Pops That Forgo Gay Weddings Be Destroyed?

I don't think they recognize how ugly, intolerant and extreme their actions appear or the effect they'll have on Americans beyond the mainstream media, or that their vitriolic shaming these people has ultimately made them into martyrs. I fear that a backlash against their tactics will weaken support for the better angels of the gay rights movement at a time when more progress needs to be made, and that they're turning traditionalists into a fearful, alienated minority with a posture of defensiveness that closes them off to persuasion.

Who Will Stand?
Robert P. George 

The lynch mob is now giddy with success and drunk on the misery and pain of its victims. It is urged on by a compliant and even gleeful media. It is reinforced in its sense of righteousness and moral superiority by the “beautiful people” and the intellectual class. It has been joined by the big corporations who perceive their economic interests to be in joining up with the mandarins of cultural power. It owns one political party and has intimidated the leaders of the other into supine and humiliating obeisance.

And so, who if anyone will courageously stand up to the mob? Who will resist? Who will speak truth to its raw and frightening power? Who will refuse to be bullied into submission or intimidated into silence?
We have seen how swiftly the demands have moved from tolerance to compulsory approbation of behavior historically rejected as contrary to morality and faith by virtually all the great religious traditions of the world. And now it is not only approbation that is demanded, but active participation……..

If we refuse to surrender, we will certainly be demonized; but everything will depend on whether we refuse to be demoralized. Courage displayed in the cause of truth—and of right—is powerful. And it will depend on whether ordinary people—Protestants, Catholics, Jews, Mormons, Muslims, others—inspired by their faith to stand firm, will also be willing to stand shoulder to shoulder, and arm-in-arm, with their brothers and sisters of other traditions of faith to defy the mob.

I can only excerpt parts of Rod Dreher's  The Post-Indiana Future for Christians, I do urge you to read it all.

I spent a long time on the phone last night with a law professor at one of the country’s elite law schools. This professor is a practicing Christian, deeply closeted in the workplace; he is convinced that if his colleagues in academia knew of his faith, they would make it very hard for him.
“The sad thing,” he said, “is that the old ways of aspiring to truth, seeing all knowledge as part of learning about the nature of reality, they don’t hold. It’s all about power. They’ve got cultural power, and think they should use it for good, but their idea of good is not anchored in anything. They’ve got a lot of power in courts and in politics and in education. Their job is to challenge people to think critically, but thinking critically means thinking like them. They really do think that they know so much more than anybody did before, and there is no point in listening to anybody else, because they have all the answers, and believe that they are good.”
“In California right now, judges can’t belong to the Boy Scouts now. Who knows if in the future, lawyers won’t be able to belong to churches that are considered hate groups?”….There’s a question among Christian law professors right now: do you write about these issues and risk tenure? This really does distort your scholarship. Christianity could make a distinct contribution to legal discussions, but it’s simply too risky to say what you really think.”
“Memories Pizza teaches us all a lesson. What is the line between prudently closing our mouths and closeting ourselves, and compromising our faith? Christians have to start thinking about that seriously.”
"We live in a culture that is now largely post-rational, post-modern, and post-law. Power and emotions drive issues in a way that would have been unthinkable 20 years ago."
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:06 PM | Permalink

"Religious liberty is precisely what allows a pluralistic society to live together in peace."

Now Is the Time to Talk About Religious Liberty

For many religious believers, Passover and the Easter season are cornerstones of the year. Thus our hearts have been especially troubled in recent days by the acrimony and lies surrounding legal efforts, in Indiana and elsewhere, at ensuring religious liberty for people of all faiths.

As Americans commemorate their respective holy days, we urge all our fellow citizens to remember the moral roots of their constitutional system, and to engage in a sensible national conversation about religious liberty. Even those who are not religious have a stake in seeing that our “first freedom”—religious freedom; freedom of conscience—is protected in law.

In recent days we have heard claims that a belief central to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—that we are created male and female, and that marriage unites these two basic expressions of humanity in a unique covenant—amounts to a form of bigotry. Such arguments only increase public confusion on a vitally important issue. When basic moral convictions and historic religious wisdom rooted in experience are deemed “discrimination,” our ability to achieve civic harmony, or even to reason clearly, is impossible.

America was founded on the idea that religious liberty matters because religious belief matters in a uniquely life-giving and powerful way. We need to take that birthright seriously, or we become a people alien to our own founding principles. Religious liberty is precisely what allows a pluralistic society to live together in peace.

Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap
Roman Catholic Archbishop of Philadelphia

Robert P. George
McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence
Princeton University

William E. Lori
Roman Catholic Archbishop of Baltimore

Albert Mohler, Jr., President
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Russell Moore, President
Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission
Southern Baptist Convention
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:57 PM | Permalink

April 4, 2015

We can all learn from the extraordinary Jean Vanier, a living saint

This week, Jean Vanier, 86, accepted his $1.7 million Templeton Prize awarded for his "exceptional contribution to affirming life’s spiritual dimension" at the church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields in London.  After his remarks, a table was laid for a feast and people with disabilities were invited forward.

 Vanier Toasts Templeton Prize

In videos available on the Prize website, www.templetonprize.org, Vanier examines topics including the potential transformative power revealed through the practice and struggle of love, and “What does it mean to be fully human?”

“To become fully human is to let down the barriers, to open up and discover that every person is beautiful. Under all the jobs you’re doing, responsibilities, there is you,” Vanier answers, adding, “And you, at the heart of who you are, you’re somebody also crying out, ‘does somebody love me?’ Not just for what I can do, but for who I am.”

From the Templeton Prize site

Son of a Canadian diplomat, Vanier entered the Royal Navy at Dartmouth Naval College in 1942.  From 1945 to 1950, he served on several warships, including accompanying the British royal family in 1947 on their tour of South Africa aboard the HMS Vanguard. He transferred to the Royal Canadian Navy in 1949….He resigned his naval commission in 1950 and from 1950 to 1962 devoted himself to spiritual and theological studies and enquiry, obtaining his doctorate in 1962 from the Institut Catholique in Paris with a widely praised dissertation, “Happiness as Principle and End of Aristotelian Ethics.”

Also in 1963 Vanier visited psychiatric hospitals in France where many people with disabilities were living, and concluded that they are among the most oppressed people in the world. Jean’s understanding of their need was crystallized when an institutionalized man asked him simply, “Will you be my friend?”
In March 2014 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the founding of L’Arche, Vanier met with Pope Francis along with people from L’Arche communities around the world. In January 2015 he spoke at the House of Lords in London on “Why do the Strong Need the Weak?”  Jean Vanier is the author of more than 30 books, including the bestseller, Becoming Human, which have been translated into 29 languages. Currently there are 147 L’Arche communities in 35 countries on five continents, and more than 1,500 Faith and Light communities in 82 countries.

In his acceptance speech, Vanier said

…..so often in the past people with intellectual disabilities were seen as a source of shame for their parents, or even in some situations, as a punishment from God. Their parents and carers have often been seen as wonderful people, even holy, for looking after people “like them”. Today it is becoming clear that it is people with intellectual disabilities who can humanise us, and heal us, if we enter into a real friendship with them. They are in no way a punishment of God but rather a path towards God.
Community is a place of belonging where each one may be transformed and find human fulfilment.

What alternatives do we have for human growth? Belonging which is too rigid stifles becoming; on the other hand too much individual growth or becoming without belonging can become fighting to get to the top, or else it can become loneliness and anguish. To win is always to be lonely, and of course nobody wins for long.

Community then is not a closed group but a way of life that helps each person to grow to human fulfillment. The two key elements of community are mission and mutual caring for each one.

 Jean Vanier
“People are longing to rediscover true community. We have had enough of loneliness, independence and competition”
Jean Vanier

Jean Vanier, advocate of disabled, wins $1.7 million Templeton Prize for 2015

Jean Vanier, a Canadian who launched an international network of communities for the mentally disabled, has won the 2015 Templeton Prize worth $1.7 million for affirming life’s spiritual dimension.The U.S.-based John Templeton Foundation announced the award on Wednesday in London, calling him “this extraordinary man” whose message of compassion for society’s weakest members “has the potential to change the world for the better”.

Vanier, 86, founded the first L’Arche (“Ark”) community in 1964 when he invited two mentally disabled men to leave their large institution and live with him in a small house in Trosly-Breuil, a village 95 km (60 miles) north of Paris…..
“The strong need the weak to become more human, more compassionate, more understanding,” said Vanier, a former Canadian naval officer and philosophy lecturer who has lived most of his life in France.

What Love Looks Like: Vulnerability, Disability and the Witness of Jean Vanier

…..the work of Jean Vanier and Father Thomas Philippe, observes that they considered infancy and old age, with their proximity of death and its suffering, as the two golden ages of our lives. Vanier and Philippe did so because they thought a common characteristic of being young or old was a vulnerability that is forgotten or denied in the more active periods of our lives. ..golden because they think the vulnerability we experience by being young or old creates the condition that makes the work of the Holy Spirit possible. To be young or old is to lack the means - as the disabled do - to disguise our desire to be loved. Yet that "weakness" enables the Holy Spirit to act toward the young, old and the disabled in a special way. Le Pichon observes: "the Holy Spirit makes the immense love of God present to those who suffer the lack of tenderness that only love can provide."

Jean Vanier and L’Arche have a simple but vital message for society

Jean Vanier, now aged 86, started what turned out to be the first L’Arche community in France in 1964 when he welcomed two disabled men, Raphael and Philippe, into a small house he had bought for this purpose. As he said yesterday on the BBC Sunday morning news programme, he had visited a huge institution for those with learning disabilities and was shocked by what he saw: a place, he implied, where inmates were cared for, but impersonally; they were not loved as individuals.

What began as a leap in the dark, an impulse of charity, was to change Vanier profoundly. Today, as a result of that gesture, there are now 147 L’Arche communities in 35 countries, small family-type homes where people are welcomed for themselves and the intrinsic gifts they bring, not for their qualifications or abilities or for what they can “do”. However, Vanier’s “light bulb moment” came, not when he impulsively bought a house and welcomed two disabled men to live with him, but when he realised that they had as much if not more to offer him, as he had to offer them…..

Yet Vanier, who thought he would be taking on a burden in committing himself to looking after two disabled men in 1964, came to be transformed himself by the experience. James says, “It was a revelation to him that he was actually enjoying life with his co-residents. He discovered how much easier it was to live the Gospel in his new situation. The need for humility and simplicity, becoming conscious of the human dignity of his new friends and how much he needed their trust and acceptance, was transformative. He discovered laughter alongside the different ways of coping and communicating that he had to learn.” What he relates makes me think of Christ’s words, ‘Unless you become as little children…
Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:39 AM | Permalink