December 25, 2015

A Christmas Miscellany

Merry Christmas to all.  May this Christmas open your heart and your mind to the greatest story ever told.

Something Wonderful: "Silent Night" featuring Plácido Domingo -ThePianoGuys

 Placido Domingo Silent-Night

Share the Gift.  The Piano Guys and Over A Thousand People Came Together To Break a Record And Bring This Moving Christmas Hymn To Life

 Pianoguys 1000Angelsonhigh

watch on YouTube

In Celebration of Modest Christmases Past
When families had less, when America had less, a single gift could make a lasting impression.

I was in a religious phase, however, and prayed. And on Christmas morning, there beside the tree was a rough, oblong piece of beige plywood stapled or nailed to two pieces of plywood supporting it on either side. And if you looked at it with imagination, it looked exactly like . . . a desk. I was in heaven. I got a kitchen chair, sat at the desk and closed my eyes and thanked God. Then, suddenly, with my eyes closed, in my imagination, I saw it. Everything. There was a manger in the darkness and a man and a woman, and it was cold and there were stars in the sky, and hills, and wise men came with staffs and gazed in wonder. I saw it all, as if on film in a newsreel. It hit me like an electric bolt. I thought: “It’s all true. It really happened. I just saw it.”

Christmas Isn't Candy Canes—It's D-Day in the War Against Satan - Msgr Charles Pope

....the Great Invasion, a daring raid by the ruler of the forces of Good into the universe’s seat of evil. Spiritually speaking, this is no silent night. It is D-Day. Behind the scenes is a deadly enemy....one of whom we rarely speak: Satan. Yet he is active, and involved. 

CHRISTMAS: the hour of faith in the darkness of the world

The Shepherds were there nearby Bethlehem, the Magi faraway, but a principle applies to both: those who seek God with purity of heart are never abandoned. The Shepherds and Magi bore gifts, of different value, but both offered the greatest gifts they had.

There are companies who get the reason for the season like WestJet whose viral video will give you goosebumps as employees perform nearly 14,000 'mini-miracles' , acts of kindness to "help spread Christmas cheer" and AT&T's ad urging us this Christmas to get off our phones,  “This season, give the present of being present.”  While in New York City, it was The Year Christmas Died: Fifth Avenue is a celebration of pretty much nothing––or worse .

Forget public Nativity scenes, as court fiat commanded us to do years ago. On Fifth Avenue this year you can’t even find dear old Santa Claus. Or his elves. Christmas past has become Christmas gone.

The scenes inside Saks Fifth Avenue’s many windows aren’t easy to describe. Saks calls it “The Winter Palace.” I would call it Prelude to an Orgy done in vampire white and amphetamine blue.

A luxuriating woman lies on a table, her legs in the air. Saks’ executives, who bear responsibility for this travesty, did have the good taste to confine to a side street the display of a passed-out man on his back (at least he’s wearing a tux), spilling his martini, beneath a moose head dripping with pearls. Adeste Gomorrah.

For Prisoners’ Children, Angel Tree Is Their Star  Angel Tree has now spent 23 years bringing Christmas gifts to as many of the now 2.7 million children of U.S. prisoners as it can reach.

Started in 1982 by former bank robber and ex-con Mary Kay Beard, Angel Tree exists to ease some of the pain children of the incarcerated experience during the holidays by enabling parents in prison to give their children Christmas gifts.
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Regardless of what a child gets for Angel Tree Christmas,” he says, “it’s the most important thing that they have.” He says he has heard of children who have gotten footballs and slept with them for years...He has also heard of children who have shoeboxes full of Angel Tree tags.

Christmas pictures from around the world

 Venice Santas

The Real Life "George Bailey" of It's a Wonderful Life Who Founded the Bank of Italy which became the Bank of America.

The London Telegraph Christmas editorial: Why the angels dance in the pale sky

In the 1500 years before Botticelli and the 500 since, Christians have celebrated Christmas Day, as dwellers on a single Earth that learns of the possibility of its renewal, and rejoices in that hope....What, though, has heaven got to offer? In his picture, Botticelli suggests that mercy and truth, justice and peace have descended....The claim made by Christmas is that those four things are names for the same transcendent thing, for which the whole Earth reaches out and cannot grasp, but knows it needs above all, as a gift sent down from heaven. Mercy and truth, justice and peace are embodied by a little child with nothing to warm him but the ass’s breath.

 Bottecello's Nativity

Gerard Vanderleun's wonderful Christmas stories

The Gift of the WalMagi
I’d come to New England after many years away and, in Seattle, thought I’d packed well for the trip. I’d made a point to bring my very warm Seattle jacket. I stepped outside into the New England winter this morning and between the door and the car I knew, based on testicle retraction velocity, that my coat had nothing to say to this winter. I might as well have packed and dressed in a Speedo.
The Star
The night sky, now so thin and distant, so seldom really seen, was to them as thick and close as a handful of coal studded with diamonds. They could turn it in their mind's eye even as it turned above them. They reclined on their hill sides, their roofs, or in rooms built for viewing and marking the moon and the stars. They watched it all revolve above them and sang the centuries down. They remembered. They kept records and told tales. They saw beings in the heavens -- gods and animals, giants and insects, all sparking the origins of myth -- and they knew that in some way all was connected to all; as above, so below, "on Earth as it is in Heaven". They studied the patterns of it all and from those repeating patterns fashioned our first science, astrology.
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Sages and mystics, Eliot and Clarke, and a host of others have all had their turns with the story of The Star. In the end it remains what it was when it began, a story. The story of a road trip by three astrologers, kings, wise men. A journey by men who saw something special in the heavens and determined to follow it wherever it led, no matter what the cost.....To see something special. To see something beyond yourself and your imaginings. To follow it wherever it leads. To always remain prepared for miracle. That is the inner music of the story of The Star. Like all stories that survive, it is the music of the heart and not of the head, and like the heart, it will endure.
The Creche by the Side of the Road
But I also thought of the other nativity scene. Halfway over the Grapevine, up along the slope of the dark mountains, an island of light in the midst of a vast and expanding darkness. A little light arranged by the small hands of faith to mirror a larger light moved by the inconceivable hand of God. I'll look for it next year when we drive north. It's so far out of the way, it should still be there. But then, you never know. Do you?

A wonderful series in The Atlantic: The 12 Days of Christmas Songs: an attempt to uncover the forgotten history of some of the most memorable festive tunes. From December 14 through 25, we’ll be tackling one secular song and one holy song each day.

'In the Bleak Midwinter': A Literary Christmas Carol
The lyrics, written by Christina Rossetti and set to music by Gustav Holst, imagine a child being born in a desolate climate.

‘Joy to the World’ Isn't a Christmas Song
The song is synonymous with the holiday, but it wasn’t originally written that way.

The Apocalyptic Fear in ‘Do You Hear What I Hear’
It’s the nativity story, written around the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis

‘Christmas Time Is Here’: A Hymn for the Ages
The 50-year-old song from “A Charlie Brown Christmas” is here to stay.

‘O Holy Night’: A Call to Fall to Your Knees  The Christmas carol’s charm is in its humility.

'Sussex Carol’: A Reminder of Christmas Music's Local Roots
Before the globalization of Christmas, .....seasonal music was local. In Britain, there were regional and village songs, preserved over decades and centuries in the oral tradition. ....“In several parts of England I have found carols which are peculiar to certain villages, by the inhabitants of which they are regarded as private possessions of great value, to be jealously guarded and retained for their own use."

The Atlantic again, an awe-inspiring  2015 Hubble Space Telescope Advent Calendar  See them in their full glory at the link.

 Advent Cat

a> 6 Shocking New Discoveries About Jesus of Nazareth.  It happened, it really happened.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:52 AM | Permalink

December 22, 2015

Iranian hackers threaten our power grid

Iranian hackers broke into computer system that controls a New York dam and sparked security concerns all the way up to the White House

The computer systems controlling the Bowman Avenue Dam in Rye, around 20 miles from New York City, were hacked from the Middle East in 2013 and could have caused surrounding areas to flood.  The hackers gained access to the dam through a cellular modem, the Wall Street Journal reported, sparking worry all the way up to the White House.

The Wall St Journal reports that the breach by Iranian Hackers ...illustrates a top concern for U.S. officials as they enter an age of digital state-on-state conflict. America’s power grid, factories, pipelines, bridges and dams—all prime targets for digital armies—are sitting largely unprotected on the Internet.
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The U.S. has more than 57,000 industrial-control systems connected to the Internet, more than any other country,...ranging from office air-conditioning units to major pipelines and electrical-control systems. Security experts say companies have done little to protect these systems from would-be hackers.

In the past 12 months, the Department of Homeland Security...had received and responded to reports of 295 industrial-control-system hacking incidents, up from 245 for fiscal year 2014......

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper called Iranian hackers “motivated and unpredictable cyber actors.” ....U.S. intelligence agencies noticed the intrusion as they monitored computers they believed were linked to Iranian hackers targeting American firms, according to people familiar with the matter. U.S. officials had linked these [Iranian] hackers to repeated disruptions at consumer-banking websites, including those of Capital One Financial Corp., PNC Financial Services Group and SunTrust Banks Inc.

AP Investigation: US power grid vulnerable to foreign hacks

Security researcher Brian Wallace was on the trail of hackers who had snatched a California university's housing files when he stumbled into a larger nightmare: Cyberattackers had opened a pathway into the networks running the United States power grid.

Digital clues pointed to Iranian hackers. And Wallace found that they had already taken passwords, as well as engineering drawings of dozens of power plants, at least one with the title "Mission Critical." The drawings were so detailed that experts say skilled attackers could have used them, along with other tools and malicious code, to knock out electricity flowing to millions of homes.  Wallace was astonished. But this breach, The Associated Press has found, was not unique.
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Early this year, an operations supervisor in Virginia for a subsidiary of American Electric Power — the nation's largest power grid operator, with operations in 38 states — opened a personal email on a company laptop and unwittingly downloaded a piece of malware called CryptoLocker. Known as "ransomware," CryptoLocker is a relatively common type of malware that reaches to outside servers, usually overseas, and downloads encryption instructions that scramble a computer's contents, making them inaccessible to anyone without a specific "key." The malware then moves through a computer — and computer network — and encrypts all the files it can, keeping users from accessing anything. In exchange for a fee, the hackers provide the victim a key that allows the files to be unlocked.

Members of AEP's cyber-security team — housed in the company's Columbus, Ohio, headquarters behind an unmarked door that unlocks with a fingerprint scanner — saw the strange network behavior as soon as it started. "When you see this (code) attempting to hit thousands of systems outside of the AEP network, that's a 'holy crap' moment," said Sean Parcel, AEP's lead cyberinvestigator.

Like most big utilities, AEP's power plants, substations and other vital equipment are managed by a network that is separated from the company's business software with layers of authentication, and is not accessible via the Internet. Creating that separation, and making sure that separation is maintained, is among the most important things utilities can do to protect the grid's physical assets.

At Powerline, The Iran Deal: From Bad to Worse.

One basic question is, is there a deal or not? It hasn’t been signed, and the parties have never agreed on what its terms are supposed to be. In the meantime, if a deal exists, Iran is violating it. Does anyone care? Certainly not President Obama.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:50 AM | Permalink

December 21, 2015

Mass Deception

Astonishing story of Weapons of Mass Deception  that we used in the Second World War

What use is an inflatable dummy tank in a very real war? A lot, if the enemy believes that it’s real. The men of the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops knew that their lives and the lives of thousands of others depended on tricks and tactics that often had to be improvised on the spot.
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The Second World War has been the subject of countless books and movies, but only recently has information about this audacious and highly imaginative top-secret army unit been made public. Using dummy equipment, theatrical special effects and acting skills, they impersonated other US Army units to deceive the enemy.
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Many of the soldiers of the Ghost Army were artists, architects, or set designers recruited from New York and Philadelphia art schools and encouraged to use their talents and imagination in a theatre of quite a different kind. It is estimated that their multimedia show saved many thousands of lives. Several of these soldier-artists went on to have a major impact on art, the most prominent probably being Ellsworth Kelly
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:27 PM | Permalink

December 16, 2015

Miscellany 26

The Hidden Message on Tojo's Teeth

Hideki Tojo was the Prime Minister of Japan during World War II. After Japan surrendered, the Allies tried him for war crimes. During his trial in 1946, he requested a set of dentures so that he could speak clearly. E.J. Mallory, an American dentist, was responsible for providing dental care to the accused war criminals awaiting trial at the Sugamo Prison in Tokyo. Remembering that it was Tojo who ordered the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Mallory decided mock Tojo in his own way.  [As a 1995 AP story recounted] He wrote "Remember Pearl Harbor" in Morse code on the false teeth that he made for Tojo.  It was, alas, too good a prank to keep secret. Mallory told a colleague, who told other people, and soon word reached the American news media. Mallory and another dentist knew they could get in trouble for the engraving. So they drove to the prison in the middle of the night, woke up Tojo, took his teeth, and ground the marks out.

The 25 most Florida things that happened in Florida in 2015.  Here's one: Florida Store Clerk Throws Ranch Dressing at Robber Dressed Like Darth Vader

Researchers find lettuce is 'three times worse than BACON' for emissions Carnegie Mellon University study

Researchers also measured the changes in energy use, blue water footprint, and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
'Eating lettuce is over three time worse in greenhouse gas emissions than eating bacon,' said Paul Fishbeck, professor of social and decisions sciences and engineering and public policy. 'Lots of common vegetables require more resources per calorie than you would think. Eggplant, celery, and cucumbers look particularly bad when compared to pork or chicken.'

Why Dogs Spin Before They Poop

Wonder why dogs sometimes walk in circles before sleeping or going to the bathroom? Well, it has to do with hygiene and territorial instincts, but it also involves Earth's magnetic field.  Anthony explains in the video how they orient themselves to a north-south axis.

Queen personally thanks man who sent her Christmas cards for more than 50 years

According to Andrew Simes, his grandfather sent a Christmas card to Queen Elizabeth II every holiday season, from 1952 until his death in 2011. When Andrew took up the mantle of card-writing from his late grandfather that winter, he says he received an amazing response from the royal highness herself.

What was Found (and still edible) inside a 150 year-old Sunken Steamboat  -

In 1856, the Steamboat Arabia was frontier bound, loaded with supplies for 16 towns when it sank within minutes to the bottom of the Missouri river with two hundred tons of precious cargo aboard. ... Everyone on board miraculously swam to safety, except for one forgotten mule, tied to the deck.
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Using a metal detector and old maps to guide the search, an amateur archaeologist began the search for the lost steamer.  Lost for 132 years, its recovery in 1988 was like finding the King Tut’s Tomb of the Missouri River. Remarkably preserved clothes, tools, guns, dishware and more. ...These artifacts are now housed in a cool little museum in Kansas City called the Arabia Steamboat Museum,

where you can see amazing photos of the perfectly preserved artifacts including the still edible pickles. 

Innovative Candle Holder Makes Candle Last At Least Twice As Long

British artist and designer Benjamin Shine proved that real genius lies in simplicity. He came up with an elegant way to regenerate candles from the wax that would otherwise go to waste after they burn down. The Rekindle Candle is a candlestick holder that collects the wax of a burning candle in a container with a wick, forming a brand new candle ready to use. This innovation makes one candle last almost forever (provided you have extra wicks). The product is called Rekindle by Shine

5 Pies in One: The Turducken of Pies

Scott Neumyer baked five concentric pies. From the outside in, they are apple, cherry, peach, blueberry, and cream cheese. He sealed them inside overlapping pie crusts. After baking and eating the result, he proclaimed it "the greatest pie of all time."

 Pie Terducken
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:32 PM | Permalink

December 15, 2015

Identity Politics is Poison

In Spiked, Brendan O'Neill examines identity politics and the death of the individual in The Crisis of Character

The subjectivity of human identity in the 21st century is striking, and alarming. Today, to feel something is to be something....Politics has become an arena for the pitting of personalized identities against one another: a new caste system, in effect...

This desire to treat the world as a mirror, as a thing that must validate our self-esteem, is far more pronounced today than it was in the 1970s. The cult of self-identification, the insistence that grammar, education and institutions reorganize themselves around what individuals feel themselves to be, takes to the extreme the reduction of public life to the level of mere validator for insecure individuals.
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Where earlier celebrators of the individual emphasised our capacity for autonomy and for governing our own minds and sense of ourselves, today’s self-identifiers cannot exist without the blessing of new forms of therapeutic authority.....The self-identifiers are enslaved by the 21st-century validation machine, their esteem locked in a danse macabre with the self-esteem industry
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What is today referred to as the rise of identity politics is in truth the hollowing out of the institutions, beliefs and freedoms around which life and identity were shaped and cohered for centuries. It is a crisis not merely of politics, or class, or the left; it is a crisis of character, a questioning of what it means to be human, an uncertainty as to how we become fully human. Addressing the emergence of new, weak identities, and the corresponding creation of a therapeutic industry and new forms of moral censure to prop up these identities, will require more than ridiculing the new left or the so-called ‘identitarian movement’. It demands nothing less than the reconstruction of public life, and the rediscovery of our faith in the strong individual who both makes and is made by the world, rather than simply needing to be consoled by it. It requires that we refuse to acquiesce to alienated, subjective identity-making, and instead recreate the conditions in which people can develop their identity through the exercise of moral autonomy, and through creating and engaging in new institutions, new ideas and new societies.

As Bill Clinton said,

"I believe that in ways large and small, peaceful and sometimes violent, that the biggest threat to the future of our children and grandchildren is the poison of identity politics that preaches that our differences are far more important than our common humanity,"

And Christopher Hitchens wrote,

"People who think with their epidermis or their genitalia or their clan are the problem to begin with. One does not banish this specter by invoking it. If I would not vote against someone on the grounds of "race" or "gender" alone, then by the exact same token I would not cast a vote in his or her favor for the identical reason. Yet see how this obvious question makes fairly intelligent people say the most alarmingly stupid things."
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“For years, I declined to fill in the form for my Senate press credential that asked me to state my 'race,' unless I was permitted to put 'human.' The form had to be completed under penalty of perjury, so I could not in conscience put 'white,' which is not even a color let alone a 'race,' and I sternly declined to put 'Caucasian,' which is an exploded term from a discredited ethnology. Surely the essential and unarguable core of King's campaign was the insistence that pigmentation was a false measure: a false measure of mankind (yes, mankind) and an inheritance from a time of great ignorance and stupidity and cruelty, when one drop of blood could make you 'black.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:00 AM | Permalink

December 14, 2015

"Lack of faith is itself a belief system" and where and how leftist ideas survive

From the Bookworm

Back in the 1980s, when I first heard Christians complain about “secular humanism,” I thought they were crazy. To me, an atheist Jewish Democrat, the phrase simply meant an entire absence of faith in the public square — and wasn’t that a good thing?

It wasn’t until I read Stephen L. Carter’s The Culture of Disbelief that I understood that lack of faith is itself a belief system, complete with a doctrine predicated on Big Government, animism, Gaia-ism, the denial of biological reality, and sexual license. Moreover, the Left is using the government itself, as well as government-funded institutions, to enforce this new religion, thereby violating the First Amendment. I therefore wish young Mr. Dorman much luck in rallying the troops — but he’s got a long, hard battle ahead of him.

Thomas Sowell, incidentally, long ago wrote that the reason Leftism has taken such firm hold in academia is because that’s the only place it can survive:
The academic world is the natural habitat of half-baked ideas, except for those fields in which there are decisive tests, such as science, mathematics, engineering, medicine;and athletics. In all these fields, in their differing ways, there comes a time when you must either put up or shut up. It should not be surprising that all of these fields are notable exceptions to the complete domination by the left on campuses across the country.

I read more from the Sowell piece  The survival of the left and understood in a totally new way why the tired ideas of the left that do not comport with reality and so do not work  still  hang on in academia, foundations and the media.

The most fundamental fact about the ideas of the political left is that they do not work. Therefore we should not be surprised to find the left concentrated in institutions where ideas do not have to work in order to survive.

People who live and work in a world where there is a business bottom line, an athletic scoreboard, a military battlefield or life-and-death surgery may find it hard to fully appreciate the difference between that kind of world and one in which the only decisive test is whether your colleagues like what you are saying.

Academia is only one of the places where wholly subjective criteria rule;and where leftists predominate. Endowed institutions such as foundations and museums likewise often face no test other than what like-minded people find “exciting” and what enables those who run these institutions to get the heady feeling that they are “making a difference.” The same is true of cultural institutions supported involuntarily by the taxpayers, such as the Smithsonian or the National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities......Taxpayer-supported “public” radio and television are similarly insulated from reality and similarly dominated by the left, not only in the United States but in other countries as well...

These endowed and insulated institutions, often full of contempt for the values of American society and Western civilization, are not the only bastions of the left counter-culture. So are Hollywood and Broadway. Although show biz faces the financial need to get an audience, the truth of what they portray is hardly crucial. If they can make it punchy and sexy, then those who complain about historical inaccuracies and ideological bias can be dismissed as irrelevant pedants. Why are leftists able to crowd out other kinds of people from these places? Because those who are willing to subject themselves to the test of reality, whether as a businessman in the marketplace or as a surgeon in an operating room, have many other places in which to work and live. They do not need special sheltered niches in which to hide and to cherish their precious notions.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:18 PM | Permalink

Political correctness is killing Americans

How can you explain that San Bernardino terrorist Tashfeen Malik openly supported violent jihad on social media yet still passed THREE background checks to gain entry into America? 

CBS News

Law enforcement sources confirmed to CBS News that Malik made radical postings on Facebook as far back as 2012 -- the year before she married Farook and moved to the U.S., reports CBS News correspondent Carter Evans. According to a report in the New York Times, Malik spoke openly on social media about her support for violent jihad and said she wanted to be a part of it. But none of these postings were discovered when Malik applied for a U.S. K-1 fiancé visa.

Apparently, US officials didn't want to invade their privacy which would be embarrassing if disclosed publicly

“Had they checked out Tashfeen Malik maybe those people in San Bernardino would be alive,”  said New York Sen. Chuck Schumer.

Fury at secret US policy that BANNED visa officials from looking at terrorist wife's social media - where she openly boasted about jihad - because the Obama administration feared 'bad public relations'

A secret U.S. policy has blocked immigration investigators from reviewing the social media messages of all foreigners applying for U.S. visas - including that of San Bernardino terrorist Tashfeen Malik - it has emerged.  The revelation comes after U.S. officials learned that Malik, who received a fiancee's visa last May, posted extensive social messages the FBI said included talk of Jihad and martyrdom.

John Cohen, a former acting under-secretary at DHS for intelligence and analysis, told ABC News that immigration officials were not allowed to 'use or review social media as part of the screening process' when he was there last year.
'The primary concern was that it would be viewed negatively if it was disclosed publicly and there were concerns that it would be embarrassing,' Cohen said.....

Cohen, who left DHS in June 2014, said he and other U.S. officials had pressed for the policy change that year but it was opposed by top officials with the DHS Office of Civil Liberties and the Office of Privacy.  'They felt looking at public postings [of foreign U.S. visa applicants] was an invasion of their privacy,' the official said.

Drew at Ace headquarters comments:

It's hard to connect the dots when you refuse to acknowledge the dots exist.....But we can collect all sorts of information about American citizens without a warrant. Oh and don't worry, the same people who worry more about "optics" and sensitivity to foreigners are going to be able to screen out any danger presented by Syrian refugees.

This is a problem I have with the "we have to let everyone in, it's "who we are"" crowd. The burden is always placed on America...we must put up with government intrusions, we must watch what we say in order to never offend, we must take the risk of the occasional terror attack, we must...we must...we must. Not only that, we get lectured about how we have to be kept in check and considered guilty as a group for a backlash that never materializes.

We've some how perverted our views to the point where we, the citizens of the United States, have to prove our worthiness to live in the company of those who wish to come here. It's insanity and it's contributing to opposition to sustaining the current levels of immigration.

Last week we learned from a whistle blower that the federal government didn't want to profile Islamic groups.

DHS Whistleblower: Feds Shut Down Terror Investigation That Could Have Prevented San Bernardino Attack

A former Department of Homeland Security agent says that an investigation he was conducting into a fundamentalist Islamic group operating in the U.S. may have helped stop San Bernardino jihadi Syed Farook had the government not shut down his probe.....But Haney said that just a year into the investigation it was shut down by the State Department and the Homeland Security Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.

The reason the investigation was quashed? Because the federal government did not want to profile Islamic groups, Haney told Kelly....In the process of shutting down Haney’s inquiry, the feds also deleted his files, which included information on an organization with ties to Farook’s mosque, San Bernardino’s Deobandi movement-affiliated Dar-al-Uloom al-Islamia.

Ace comments: "There are real consequences to Obama's endless political correctness. He has defanged and denatured our intelligence services to make them, essentially, Islamic booster organizations."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:44 PM | Permalink

Teaching the value of life by shutting employees inside coffins

From the BBC The employees shut inside coffins

South Korea has one of the highest suicide rates in the world, and workers often report feeling stressed. So in order to make people appreciate life, some companies are making employees take part in their own pretend funerals.

In a large room in a nondescript modern office block in Seoul, staff from a recruitment company are staging their own funerals. Dressed in white robes, they sit at desks and write final letters to their loved ones. Tearful sniffling becomes open weeping, barely stifled by the copious use of tissues.

And then, the climax: they rise and stand over the wooden coffins laid out beside them. They pause, get in and lie down. They each hug a picture of themselves, draped in black ribbon.
 Korean Lyingincoffins
As they look up, the boxes are banged shut by a man dressed in black with a tall hat. He represents the Angel of Death. Enclosed in darkness, the employees reflect on the meaning of life.

The macabre ritual is a bonding exercise designed to teach them to value life. Before they get into the casket, they are shown videos of people in adversity - a cancer sufferer making the most of her final days, someone born without all her limbs who learned to swim.  All this is designed to help people come to terms with their own problems, which must be accepted as part of life.
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"After the coffin experience, I realised I should try to live a new style of life," says Cho Yong-tae as he emerges from the casket. "I've realised I've made lots of mistakes. I hope to be more passionate in all the work I do and spend more time with my family."
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:53 PM | Permalink

December 11, 2015

Miscellany 25

The Astounding Truth About the Hubble Space Telescope's Most Famous Image

 Hubble Ultra-Deep Field

That image -- seen above -- is the Hubble Ultra-Deep Field. The specks of color and light you see are not stars; they are galaxies -- 10,000 of them in fact! It is the deepest image of the sky over obtained, gazing back approximately 13 billion years...."The image is only one-forty millionth of the sky. In other words, it would take 40 million Hubble Ultra-Deep Fields to cover the entire sky,

Great headlines.  He shoots… he snores! Chinese football commentator is fired after falling asleep during live coverage of a Champions League match.  Bud Weisser arrested at Budweiser brewery.  Nineteen-year-old Bud Weisser was cited for trespassing and resisting arrest.

Austrian Artist Reinvents Door With Innovative 4 Folding Triangle Design and 2 gifs show you how it opens and closes.

Rocky was the movie the studio DIDN'T want you to see

Studio bosses tried to stop hit because 'who would pay for an unknown guy who has a rough life as a fighter and an ugly duckling girl?'....Winkler had to use contract loophole to get it made on budget so small the cast and crew shared one trailer (and one toilet)

Take the Inca trail... as Google Street View launches tour of Peru's Machu Picchu

Backpack-sized Street View cameras - which record 360 degree images of surroundings - were used to create the online feature, which allows people to explore temples, terraces and plazas built in 1438.

 Macchu Piccu

Beehive Fences in East Africa Protect Farms from Elephants

It turns out elephants are terrified of bees because when the insects sting the inside of their trunks the pain is excruciating and there’s little they can do about it. The sound of buzzing alone is enough to make elephants leave an area immediately. King wondered what might happen if a string of suspended beehives at every 10 meters around a field might be enough to keep elephants away. A pilot program in 2009 proved widely successful and soon The Elephant and Bees Project was born.

There are now active beehive fences in Kenya, Botswana, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda, and Sri Lanka. Not only do the fences help pollinate crops and safely deter elephants, they also become an additional revenue stream for farmers who harvest honey and sell it locally, a fascinating example of interspecies landscape engineering.

Hobbit Houses.  Now in modules that can be assembled in 3 days

Green Magic Homes... makes prefabricated houses that are meant to be covered with soil. The homes are easy to assemble, and you can easily plant grass – – or even vegetables if you like. The turf keeps the house cool in summer and warm in winter. GMH are built from modules and come in several sizes. The smallest one room module can be assembled in three days; a large one would take about a week! The material used is fiber reinforced polymer, and is supposed to last two hobbit lifetimes or several human ones… as long as you have assembled it right.

C.S. Lewis Was a Secret Government Agent.

In 1940 the Germans invaded Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, and France.  The British did the next best thing they could do to help Denmark and the rest of Europe: They launched a surprise invasion of Iceland, which was part of the Kingdom of Denmark. ...Thanks to the British invasion, Iceland provided the ideal base for seaplanes to search for the German naval vessels that prowled the Atlantic sinking the merchant fleet with its crucial supplies....Holding Iceland depended upon the goodwill of the people of Iceland who never had asked to be invaded by the British. If Britain retained Icelandic goodwill, then Churchill could occupy the island with reserve troops rather than his best fighting forces.

This was the strategic situation in which C. S. Lewis was recruited. And his mission was simple: To help win the hearts of the Icelandic people.

Out of this world? Stunning aerial shots of America's West Coast look like they could be of the moon or Mars

 Grand Prismatic Spring
Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone

These incredible pictures could easily be a gallery of snapshots from a satellite touring the solar system.
But the stunning photos are actually images of America's West Coast taken from the sky by Jassen Todorov, a professor with a passion for flying. "'Taking these photographs is a hobby of mine, because I work at a university teaching the violin and giving concerts for a living.  I earned my pilot's license while I was studying for a PhD in music and for a while was content to capture the perspectives purely for my eyes only."


The memory of a river

 Historical-River-Channels

If you measure the contours of a river valley with Lidar (like radar with lasers), you get a beautiful map of all the historical river channels. The image above was taken from a poster of the historical channels of the Willamette River..

A Brief History of Snow Globes

....In 1927, a Pittsburgh man named Joseph Garaja filed his application for a patent for a liquid-filled novelty paperweight that improved upon previous designs; the design he presented and later sold was a fish floating in sea grass. But it wasn't Garaja’s under-the-sea theme that impressed the industry. His real contribution to snow globe manufacturing was in pioneering the now-obvious method of assembling the globes underwater to ensure they were entirely filled. This, David Bear wrote for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in 2000, “revolutionized” the snow globe industry: “They went from being expensive mementos individually crafted by skilled artisans to items that could be cheaply mass-produced and sold.”

 Snowglobe

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:32 PM | Permalink

Mounting evidence that racial quotas are doing more harm than good

Are college quotas destroying lives of minorities?  Betsy McCaughey makes the case

[Tuesday] the US Supreme Court hears a constitutional challenge to racial preferences in college admissions. These preferences obviously hurt whites and Asians turned down to make room for less qualified minorities, but ironically, the preferences also harm many Hispanics and African-Americans — the very students they’re supposed to help.
No wonder campuses are roiled with racial tension...Many minorities admitted to elite schools based on race aren’t “academically qualified.”

A survey of selective colleges by UCLA professor Richard Sander documented that students who get in based on race tend to earn lower grades and are less likely to graduate. At less demanding colleges, they’d have a better chance to succeed.  They’re in over their heads.  But not in California, which outlawed racial preferences in 1996. Minority students now are more apt to attend lower-ranked public colleges but twice as likely to graduate.

Gail Heriot, a member of the US Commission on Civil Rights, points to “mounting empirical evidence” that admitting students based on race is “doing more harm than good.” That poignant lesson seems lost on administrators at elite universities who boast of large minority enrollments.

It’s one thing to be at the bottom of the class, but, Heriot explains, “It is quite another for an African-American student to find himself toward the bottom of the class and to find half of his African-American friends and acquaintances there too.” It stokes bitterness and feelings of injustice.

Minority students struggling academically tend to segregate themselves from other students. And turn to nonacademic pursuits — like campus protests. This fall’s protesters at the University of Missouri, Princeton, Harvard and Yale are demanding “safe spaces” for black students only.
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Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas warned from personal experience about the harm to minority students: “I watched the operation of such affirmative-action policies when I was in college, and I watched destruction of many kids as a result.”

During oral arguments in Fisher v. University of Texas, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, said, "There are those who contend that it does not benefit African-Americans to get them into the University of Texas where they do not do well, as opposed to having them go to a less-advanced school, a less—a slower-track school where they do well. One of the briefs pointed out that most of the black scientists in this country don’t come from schools like the University of Texas. . . . They come from lesser schools where they do not feel that they’re being pushed ahead in classes that are too fast for them. . . "


In Thoughtcrime of the Day, James Taranto details how  Scalia was smeared for "racist ideas", by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, the New York Times and the New York Daily News....

None of these detractors bothered acknowledging the scholarly provenance of Scalia’s observation, which Richard Sander, a law professor at UCLA, elaborated yesterday in an essay published by the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy:

Scholars began empirically studying the mismatch issue in the 1990s, but in the past five years the field has matured. There are now dozens of careful, peer-reviewed studies that find strong evidence of mismatch. None of the authors of these studies claim that mismatch is a universal or inevitable consequence of affirmative action. But in my view, only demagogues (of which there is, unfortunately, no shortage) or people who haven’t read the relevant literature can still claim that mismatch is not a genuine problem.

Charles Cooke says Scalia Practices Reason, Not Racism

One does not need to have a law degree to notice what has happened here, or to comprehend just how utterly dangerous to liberty is this growing chorus of disapprobation. Put simply, Justice Scalia is being crucified for having fulfilled the dispassionate public role for which he is paid. Scalia, note, is a judge, not a politician, and he was speaking during a judicial hearing, not as a purveyor of policy. In this context, his comments were entirely reasonable — indeed, they were necessary. As Alex Griswold observes correctly at Mediaite, the Supreme Court’s “oral arguments are not an avenue for justices to share their views on the case at hand,” but “an opportunity to suss out any holes in the arguments of both parties.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:59 AM | Permalink

December 10, 2015

Santa brought up-to-date

 Letter-To-Santa

Hipster Santa, Fashion Santa and Dude Santa are hanging out at malls, maybe fun for adults, but they are definitely not for kids. 

Paul Mason is a professional model who is known 'Fashion Santa' at Toronto's Yorkdale Mall where he models designer ensembles from luxury brands including Ferragamo, John Varvatos and Moncler. You can see more on Twitter #yorkdalefashionsanta

 Fashionsanta2

To promote a new mall in Sydney Australia, a 2013 PR campaign introduced the hipster Santa. but he was noticeably absent last year and this. 

 Hipster Santa Australia

This year in Portland, Oregon, we have a Dude Santa with a man bun, a typewriter and a god-awful cardigan

 Dude Santa

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:59 PM | Permalink

December 9, 2015

New evidence for the body-brain connection: Fit body, fit mind

NYT Does Exercise Help Keep Our Brains Young?

Physical fitness may be critical for maintaining a relatively youthful and nimble brain as we age, according to a new study of brain activation patterns in older people.

For most of us, our bodies begin to lose flexibility and efficiency as we enter our 40s....our thinking becomes less efficient. We don’t toggle between mental tasks as nimbly as we once did or process new information with the same aplomb and clarity.
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The results suggest that “higher aerobic fitness is associated with improved cognitive function.” Fit older people’s brains require fewer resources to complete tasks than do the brains of older people who are out of shape....
..... daily mild exercise such as walking and mild jogging may affect the way the brain works, so that an older person’s brain “acts like a younger brain.”

Strong legs contribute to a healthier brain in old age, study finds

Researchers find leg muscle force to be more closely linked to age-related changes in mental function than any other lifestyle factor tested...Researchers found a “striking protective relationship” between high leg power and better preserved mental ability and brain structure over a period of 10 years.

Dancing, Sudoku, fish and fruit – the keys to a mentally alert old age

Researchers in Finland tested more than 1,000 people aged 60 to 77 in a long-term study that could improve treatments for Alzheimer’s and dementia.....Researchers in Finland recruited 1,260 people aged between 60 and 77, and effectively re-organized the lives of half of them. They were given regular gym sessions with physiotherapists to strengthen their muscles one to three times a week and took part in aerobic exercises, sometimes in groups, two to five times a week. They had brain training using computer programs not unlike commercial games, where success leads to another layer of difficulty. And they were advised to eat a Nordic diet – not dissimilar to the Mediterranean diet – containing fish at least twice a week, lots of fruit and vegetables, and olive and other vegetable oils. The other group were given standard health advice.

At the end of two years, those who had been eating a better diet, getting active and training their brains scored on average 25% higher in mental tests than those in the other group. In some of the tests, the difference was even more striking. For executive function – the brain’s ability to organize and regulate thought processes – the intervention group scored 85% higher and in processing speed, 150% higher.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:13 PM | Permalink

A second career that won him raves from Gucci and Prada

Telephone Repairman Follows His Dream: Designing Women's Shoes
After 25 years working for the phone company, Chris Donovan quit his job to follow his dream: designing women’s shoes. He spent two years in Italy at Polimoda Fashion Institute, and now faces the challenge of building a business around his unconventional creations.

"No matter what I look at, if it's intriguing, I think of shoes"

 The Shoemaker
YouTube link

Via Kottke "A great video from AARP, filmed by David Friedman."

Here's Chris Donovan on Instagram

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:12 PM | Permalink

Health Roundup: High blood pressure, Alzheimer's, loneliness, popcorn lung, 2 minute exercise bursts

Persistent high blood pressure could be cured by 'dirt cheap' drug that's been around for 50 years, doctors discover

Spironolactone was first used in 1959 as a water pill to treat fluid retention.  New study shows it works in 60% of patients with unregulated high blood pressure. Experts today said the finding offered hope of 'spectacular' cost savings.  New findings 'should now lead to a re-writing of current guidelines'

How Loneliness Wears on the Body  study by researchers from the Universities of California and Chicago

The results suggested that people suffering from social isolation may be more prone to inflammation and less able to fight viral infections—which could be one reason why lonely elderly people are more susceptible to illnesses ranging from the common cold to dementia, and why they have higher mortality rates than their peers.

Anti-depressants 'no more effective than counselling'

New research published in the BMJ suggests that for moderate to severe depression, talking therapies can be just as effective as anti-depressants...Researchers led by Danube University analyzed the results of 11 randomized controlled trials, involving more than 1,500 patients.

Men undergoing testosterone-lowering therapy for prostate cancer are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease,

Androgens are male hormones that play a key role in stimulating prostate cell growth.  And as a result, therapies that suppress androgen activity are a common treatment for prostate cancer....Nearly half a million men in the US receive androgen deprivation therapy at any given time.....Scientists are not yet sure precisely how low testosterone would lead to increased Alzheimer’s risk.  However, there is some evidence that testosterone has a 'general protective effect' on brain cells.

Pill that may wash away the cause of Alzheimer's: Treatment dissolves toxic plaques on the brain that are warning sign of the disease

Scientists say they have taken the first steps towards developing a pill that could one day stop Alzheimer’s in its tracks.  The treatment, tested on mice, dissolved toxic plaques in the brain that can be a warning sign of the incurable disease.  The animals, genetically engineered to develop symptoms of Alzheimer’s, also showed improvements in memory and learning....
Experts say more work needs to be carried out before the drug, known as EPPS, can be tested on humans.  Korean researchers say the treatment could be best targeted at those at risk from inherited forms of the disease.

Worrying about getting old 'increases the risk of dementia'  Positive thinking is the key to a healthy brain in old age

Dreading growing old may raise your risk of Alzheimer’s, scientists have warned.  They have shown that middle-aged people who view aging as a handicap are more likely to have dementia-like changes to their brain decades later. It is thought the stress generated by such thoughts and fears eats away at the brain over time.

The US researchers said while there has been a lot of focus on how a healthy diet can help keep the mind young, we should also consider the benefits of positive thinking.  Easier than exercise and cheaper than drugs, it could help stem the rise in Alzheimer’s disease. ....Dr Levy has previously shown that thinking positive adds an average of seven and a half years to life – more than exercising or not smoking.

Men with big muscles cut cancer risk by 40 per cent

Men with stronger muscles from regular weight training are up to 40 per cent less likely to die from cancer than men who do not pump iron, according to new research.  The findings, by an international team of researchers, suggest muscular strength is as important as staying slim and eating healthily when it comes to protecting the body against deadly tumors....A team of experts, led by scientists from Sweden's Karolinska Institute, tracked the lifestyles of 8,677 men aged between 20 and 82 for more than two decades.

Vegetarianism can come with some unexpected side effects.

"I hear from vegetarians every day; they have this terrible depression and anxiety, and they don't understand why," says Lierre Keith, author of The Vegetarian Myth. "People think they're eating a beautiful, righteous diet, but they don't realize there's a potential dark side."

Smokers who use e-cigs 'are risking harm to their lungs'- Popcorn lung.:

Tests on 50 types of device find most contain chemical responsible for incurable condition known as 'popcorn lung'.....The chemical diacetyl... is used to give popcorn its buttery taste and found in many other artificial flavorings. But, when inhaled, it is thought to scar tiny air sacs within the lungs, causing coughing and shortness of breath. In severe cases, only a lung transplant will help.The condition came to light in popcorn factories, leading it to be nicknamed 'popcorn lung'.

Just two minutes of hopping a day can strengthen bones and reduce the risk of suffering a fracture, scientists have found

It may not be the most dignified form of exercise, but hopping may help protect older people from hip fractures.
Just two minutes a day can strengthen bones in the area and reduce the risk of breakage in a fall, scientists believe.....Researchers at Loughborough University in The Hip Hop study saw 34 men aged between 65 and 80 perform a program of hopping exercises on a randomly assigned exercise leg only. They were told to avoid any other changes to their physical activity or dietary habits during the year-long trial…..Increases of up to 7 per cent were identified in the bone mass of some parts of the outer shell (cortex) and in the density of the layer of spongy bone underneath this. They said that, importantly, there were improvements in the thinnest areas of the bone most at risk of fracture after a fall.

Just TWO-MINUTE bursts of exercise can help fight heart disease

'Strong benefits’ in repeated short bouts of intense activity like star jumps. ‘The key is to get your heart rate up,’ Newcastle University experts said.  Patients asked to do short spells on a cycling machine, repeated five times, three times a week for 12 weeks

Cure for alcoholism now one step closer: Scientists pinpoint specific cells in the brain that make drinkers crave more booze

Scientists have discovered the specific neurons that incite cravings. Dopamine D1 receptors are part of a 'go' pathway in the brain. When D1 neurons are stimulated they compel us to perform an action. By suppressing D1 neurons experts suppressed the compulsion to drink
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:21 PM | Permalink

December 8, 2015

Aging Roundup

Forget Old Age, It’s Time to Live Long and (Really) Prosper by Laura Carstensen, the founding director of the Stanford Center on Longevity

Given the option of a 30-year life extension, who would apply it only to old age? Yet, this is precisely what we’re doing. Life expectancy nearly doubled in the 20th century, with all those extra years tacked on at the end.

Instead of thinking imaginatively about this unprecedented opportunity, we tend to wring our hands at the thought of populations top-heavy with the elderly...The real problem is that our lives are still led according to the norms and social scripts that guided our grandparents. We humans are creatures of culture, and life expectancy increased too fast for culture to keep pace.

How Intelligence Shifts With Age in the WSJ  We seem to get slower and wiser at the same time.

The results showed that our intellectual capacities shift as we age. Processing speed—how fast we absorb and rejig numbers, names and facts—peaks around 18, then “drops off a cliff,” said Dr. Hartshorne.

How much we can remember and manipulate at one time—the size of that mental notepad, which is called working memory—is at its prime in our mid-20s and plateaus around age 35. Then it moves from center stage.

That’s when our emotional intelligence kicks in. The ability to assess people’s emotional states from a photo of their eyes peaks around age 40 and doesn’t decline until our 60s. One form of wisdom, the ability to guess people’s internal states from very little information, is as useful around the kitchen table at it is in the boardroom, and “the difference between a 20-year-old and a 40-year-old is just huge,” Dr. Hartshorne said.

The gains don’t end there. As our hair becomes silver (and sometimes falls out), our vocabularies continue to grow, peaking as late as age 70, said Dr. Hartshorne, adding that 20 years ago tests of vocabulary showed that it crested much earlier, at age 50. “Given the way we’ve chosen to define intelligence, people are getting smarter,” he said.

An apple a day keeps aging at bay because chemical in the peel prevents muscle wasting, new research find

An apple a day can keep aging at bay according to new medical research which could help prevent muscles wasting away in older people.  A chemical found in the peel of apples can turn elderly people's muscles into those of a young adult after just two months of treatment, claim scientists from the University of Iowa.
They said both apple peel and green tomatoes have natural chemical properties which could turn back time for tired older muscles.

How fast are YOU aging? Simple blood test calculates 'if you're growing old too quickly - and could predict if you'll suffer dementia'

A blood test that calculates how quickly a person is ageing has been unveiled by British scientists.
The test works out a patient’s ‘biological age’ compared to their actual age – and could be used to reveal if they are at risk of dementia years in advance. This is because those who are older biologically than they are in years are more likely to go on to develop Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, the scientists said.

The test gives a person an ‘aging score’ based on genetic markers found in their blood.  And scientists hope it could transform the way doctors think about age when making medical decisions, since the research revealed that biological age can vary widely in those of the same actual age.  Professor Timmons said the blood test should be available to other researchers next year, as an invaluable tool for gauging how different factors can affect the aging process.  It would also be simple to make the test available for GPs and hospital doctors, he said.
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When 700 apparently healthy 70-year-old volunteers were tested, their biological ages differed by more than 20 years – from younger than 60 to older than 80. Professor James Timmons, of King’s College London, who led the research said: ‘We use birth year, or chronological age, to judge everything from insurance premiums to whether you get a medical procedure or not.

The team – from King’s College London, the Karolinska Institute in Sweden and Duke University in the US – found that by identifying how 150 genes differed from this ideal signature they could work out how slowly or quickly a person’s body was aging. They then produced an ‘aging score’ based on these 150 markers – where a high score indicated healthy aging, while a low score meant a person was biologically older than they were in years…..

Crucially, the results were shown to be independent of a person’s lifestyle, meaning that common diseases such as heart disease and diabetes would not skew the score.  Those with higher scores at the age of 70 had better mental ability and kidney function when they reached 82.  Those with lower scores, in contrast, were more likely to have Alzheimer’s disease – and more of them had died.

Seven habits to help you age happily

1. Practice Gratitude
2. Savor the positives
3. Adopt an optimistic mindset
4. Live life with meaning
5. Develop your strengths
6. Focus outwards
7, Learn to let go
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:21 PM | Permalink

Facts about guns that may disturb you

Chart of the day: More guns, less gun violence between 1993 and 2013

  Guns31

The chart above was inspired by a similar one featured by Max Ehrenfreund in the Washington Post,  “We’ve had a massive decline in gun violence in the United States. Here’s why.....Much of the decline in violence is still unexplained, but researchers have identified several reasons for the shift.” He then points to factors explaining the decline in violent crime in general and gun homicides in particular, including more police officers on the beat making greater use of computers, a decline in alcohol consumption, less lead exposure, and an improving economy.
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But there’s another possible reason for the decline in gun violence overlooked by Ehrenfreund – the significant increase in gun ownership, illustrated above by the dark blue line in the chart.
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In a December 2013 Breitbart article, “Congressional Study: Murder Rate Plummets as Gun Ownership Soars,” Awr Hawkins referred to the CRS report referenced above and connected the two trends:.... the CRS report shows that more guns–especially more concealable guns–has actually correlated with less crime.

Gun crime on the decline for about 20 years except in gun-free zones

WaPo points to a study by Mother Jones that claims that high-profile shootings began increasing in gun-free zones in late 2011/early 2012. The examples Mother Jones provides are the Aurora movie theater, Sandy Hook Elementary, and the D.C. Navy Yard, all of which were gun-free zones.

Other examples of shootings in gun-free zones that could have been cited are Arapahoe High School (December 2013), Fort Hood (April 2014), Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church (June 2015), Chattanooga military offices (July 2015), the Lafayette Grand Theatre (July 2015), and Umpqua Community College (October 1).

In the Washington Post, 10 examples of how armed citizens, not police officers, stopped mass shootings.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:55 PM | Permalink

December 7, 2015

Hope and Change

Victor Davis Hanson on Liberal Nihilism in a Nutshell

Obama had been elected in 2008 not on what he stood for or wished to accomplish — indeed voters had no idea of what "hope and change" actually meant — but largely for his iconic status as the first mixed-race president, and because of a perfect storm of events that favored his nontraditional Perot-like candidacy.....

Obama’s dilemma was the same one facing the new nihilistic Democratic Party. Its agenda, once equal opportunity was achieved, became an equality of result, engineered and coerced by the federal government — an ideology opposed by a majority of Americans......

The ideological success of Obama-ism, to the degree that it exists, rests largely in using sympathetic media, universities, foundations, the entertainment industry, and billionaire progressive activists — in the other words, the small but highly wealthy, influential and powerful coastal populations — to convince Americans that it is hip and cool to support agendas that they otherwise suspect, and to scare them that the alternative is a racist, sexist, homophobic America run by wealthy, cruel white male Christians.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:31 PM | Permalink