February 10, 2014

Signs of the Times

Disgruntled worker who is ‘not a female or a male’ sues for $518,682 over PRONOUNS

A person in Oregon named Valeria Jones is suing catering company Bon Appétit Management for $518,682 because coworkers used female names in reference to Jones despite the fact that Jones had continually expressed the desire to be addressed only with gender neutral pronouns.

NPR Worries Out Loud As Bullying Feminists on Twitter Devolve Into 'Revolution-Eats-Its-Own Irony

NPR’s afternoon talk show “Tell Me More” spent 17 minutes on Thursday on a cover story in The Nation entitled “Feminism’s Toxic Twitter Wars” by Michelle Goldberg, a contributor to The Daily Beast. They called it "Mean Girls Online."

Host Michel Martin interviewed four feminist radicals about nasty online fighting along racial lines, and even "transphobic " lines. The uber-feminist actress Martha Plimpton (a star on Fox's sitcom "Raising Hope") hilariously came under attack because promoting a pro-abortion event called "A Night of a Thousand Vaginas" was cruel to "trans men" who don't have vaginas:
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Plimpton was surprised when some offended Internet feminists urged people to stay away, arguing that emphasizing “vaginas” hurts trans men who don’t want their reproductive organs coded as female.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:19 PM | Permalink

November 18, 2013

Signs of the Times

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:33 PM | Permalink

January 30, 2013

December 1, 2012

Signs of the Times

Zurich to open drive-in sex boxes in an attempt to rid the town of street prostitution.

Texas school district requires embedded microchips dubbed "locator chips"  on student badges so its administrators can track the whereabouts of 4,200 students with GPS-like precision.  ACLU and Christian fundamentalists join together to file suit.

No bride, no groom, no husband, no wife in Washington state.  Officials prepare to remove the 'archaic' terms from marriage and divorce certificates.

Harvard Students Launch Bondage Sex Club and win school recognition which means they can apply for school funding and promote their club on campus.

Saudi Offers “Castrated African Slave” for Sale on Facebook

Regulatory Stupidity. In La Jolla Cove, California, the feces of seagulls and cormorants keeps piling up and the stench carries a mile but city officials are prevented from cleaning it up, even with biodegradable cleaning products.

Because of complex environmental rules stemming from the cove’s designation as a state-protected “Area of Special Biological Significance.” Officials say it could take two years to get various state agencies to OK cleaning procedures.

To meet every increasing school fees, 16% of British students consider sex work.

The worst of all, Death panels for babies,  consigning them to death by dehydration in Britain.

One doctor has admitted starving and dehydrating ten babies to death in the neonatal unit of one hospital alone.
Writing in a leading medical journal, the physician revealed the process can take an average of ten days during which a  baby becomes ‘smaller and shrunken’……

I know, as they cannot, the unique horror of witnessing a child become smaller and shrunken, as the only route out of a life that has become excruciating to the patient or to the parents who love their baby. …It is draining to be the most responsible physician. Everyone is looking to me to preside over and support this process.

I am honest with the nurse when I say it is getting more and more difficult to make my legs walk me on to this unit as the days elapse, that examining the baby is an indescribable mixture of compassion, revulsion, and pain.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:08 PM | Permalink

November 27, 2012

Signs of the Times

And this is different from foot-binding in what way?  Women are cutting off their little toes so they can better fit into stilettos.

Creepy.  Jamie Foxx at the Soul Train Awards  "Give an Honor to Our Lord and Savior Barack Obama"    Why doesn't the President discourage this cult worship?

Buying and selling human life in the form of embryos.  Money back guarantee that pregnancy will result from using their embryos.

In the cutthroat field of fertility treatments, Dr. Ernest Zeringue sharply cuts costs by creating a single batch of embryos, then divvying it up among several patients. One 'horrified' critic calls it the 'commodification of children.'
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Zeringue sharply cuts costs by creating a single batch of embryos from one egg donor and one sperm donor, then divvying it up among several patients. The clinic, not the customer, controls the embryos, typically making babies for three or four patients while paying just once for the donors and the laboratory work.
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People buying this option from Zeringue must accept concessions: They have no genetic connection to their children, and those children will probably have full biological siblings born to other parents.
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"I am horrified by the thought of this," said Andrew Vorzimer, a Los Angeles fertility lawyer alarmed that a company — not would-be parents — controls embryos. "It is nothing short of the commodification of children."

Time to get worried.  The U.N. wants control of the Internet

"Having the Internet rewired by bureaucrats would be like handing a Stradivarius to a gorilla. The Internet is made up of 40,000 networks that interconnect among 425,000 global routes, cheaply and efficiently delivering messages and other digital content among more than two billion people around the world, with some 500,000 new users a day. …
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"The ITU is the wrong place to make decisions about the future of the Internet," says Google. "Only governments have a voice at the ITU. This includes governments that do not support a free and open Internet. Engineers, companies, and people that build and use the web have no vote."

Defining depravity downwards in Deutschland

All of which brings me back to Der Spiegel. There is a hesitancy by the German news weekly to say that this is wrong. Is that the business of a newspaper? Should the moral voice be extinguished in modern newspaper reporting? Is Herr Kiok’s argument that morality should not govern law true?
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Der Spiegel appears to think so, as it has framed this story in such a way as to remove the moral element. By not providing contrary voices to the Zoophilia activists, the newspaper does not address the issue as to why this conduct should be governed by law.
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it is the British tabloid, The Sun who has the best quotes, has the most fun and raises the best question.

Bestiality dropped off the statute books as a crime in 1969 but in recent years incidents of it have mushroomed along with websites promoting it. There are even “erotic zoos” for perverts to visit and abuse animals ranging from llamas to goats. Hans-Michael Goldmann, chairman of the agriculture committee, said the government aimed to forbid using an animal “for individual sexual acts and to outlaw people ‘pimping’ creatures to others for sexual use”.

But pro-zoophilia campaign group ZETA — Zoophiles Commitment to Tolerance and Enlightenment — vowed to challenge any ban on bestiality. Chairman Michael Kiok said: “Mere concepts of morality have no business being law.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:26 PM | Permalink

November 1, 2012

Signs of the Times

Using IVF/Surrogacy to Create Anchor Babies  Wesley J. Smith

What a scam. IVF clinics connecting Chinese couples with American surrogate mothers to create new U.S. citizens.

Move to grant personhood rights to great apes, cetaceans, and elephants  while denying personhood rights  to developing humans.

"Plant rights" on NPR

The environmental movement is growing increasingly radical and anti human.  Taking a beat from the animal rights movement, we have seen increasing advocacy for human-stifling agendas such as “nature rights” (now the law of two countries and nearly 30 U.S. municipalities) ”plant dignity” (in Switzerland’s constitution), “river personhood” (recently enacted in New Zealand) and “ecocide,” which would make any and all large scale human uses of the land and exploitation of resources a “crime against peace” akin to genocide and ethnic cleansing. These are not promoted in odd Internet sites, but rather are discussed earnestly and with great respect in such liberal outlets such as the New York Times. Latest example, on NPR:
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I have been pounding the drum that plant rights, nature rights, etc. are inimical to our thriving and liberty because they undermine human exceptionalism and treat rights as something that are ubiquitous and common.  I mean, if everything has rights, really nothing does.

Lesbian TV producer loses custody of her biological daughter in legal first after judge rules ex-lover is 'more responsible parent'

Brook Altman and Allison Scollar had a child six years ago after a friend donated sperm.  When couple split, there was a bitter battle over who should have custody.  Altman fled with daughter to California and accused Scollar of child abuse.  Judge ruled Scollar was more responsible and had child's best interests at heart.

Man sues wife over ugly baby and wins, then a DNA test proved the baby was his and his wife confessed to $100,000 worth of plastic surgery in Korea before they met.

"I married my wife out of love, but as soon as we had our first daughter, we began having marital issues," he told the Irish Times. "Our daughter was incredibly ugly, to the point where it horrified me."

Progressive experts: Please, don’t bother us with the facts

“Experts” say gays can’t change, and they do so despite the actual evidence of men who claim to have changed (or maybe just subordinated their homosexual desires).  There it is, in one paragraph:  Thousands of men assert that they have changed — and experts claim that they’re lying because their claims run counter to theory.
Ex-Gay’ Men Fight Back Against View That Homosexuality Can’t Be Changed
in California, their sense of siege grew more intense in September when Gov. Jerry Brown signed a law banning use of widely discredited sexual “conversion therapies” for minors — an assault on their own validity, some ex-gay men feel….But many ex-gays have continued to seek help from such therapists and men’s retreats, saying their own experience is proof enough that the treatment can work.

Scientists Turn Stem Cells into Sex Cells

This week, researchers working with mice reported in the journal Nature that they had successfully used stem cells to create oocytes (egg cells) for the first time. A similar approach could presumably be developed eventually for human oocytes.
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Employing adult stem cells to treat infertility and avoid the use of donated eggs could actually be a way to restore the integrity of the family and of human reproduction. Ensuring that technologies like this are used in ways that serve the human good rather than demean human dignity is a central task of bioethics, a task that calls for not just a clear understanding of the science but also public deliberation and, if necessary, regulation.


'Three people, one baby' public consultation begins 
after UK scientists created "designer embryos" containing DNA from a man and two women

California Multiple Parents Bill: Proposed Legislation Would Allow Children To Have Three Or More Parents

The measure doesn't expand the current definition of what qualities as a "parent." It simply allows for that definition to apply to three or more people--something that could easily become an issue in cases of surrogate parents or if a non-blood relative voluntarily signs a legal statement of parenthood.

Making babies to make ends meet

I’ve given birth to three girls. I cannot imagine carrying a child for a stranger. When people say, “That’s so much money!” I say, “This is not a job where you take a break, lie down and rest, go on vacation for a week. She’s pregnant 24-7. Oh, and there’s the part where she could die.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:52 PM | Permalink

August 28, 2012

Signs of the Times

Some of today's news would have been unimaginable just 25 years except in the most dystopian science fiction.

Biological father denied access to child Canadian Sperm Donor Father Denied Access to Son Being Raised by Lesbians.
From the judge's opinion:

"Citing arguments that introducing the child to his father would cause the boy confusion and insecurity, "

Mom gives birth to her own grandson

Newborn Madden Hebert became his own uncle when his grandmother gave birth to him last week, the Portland Press Herald reported.

Madden’s mother, Angel Hebert, 25, was unable to have children due to a heart condition that made it unsafe for her to get pregnant.
According to the Herald, Hebert’s mother, 49-year-old Linda Sirois, had offered for years to be a surrogate mother for her daughter in case she could not get pregnant.  Hebert and her husband, Brian, got the news last summer.
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Sirois reached out to fertility clinics around New England. Many rejected her because of her age, but the Reproductive Science Center in Lexington, Massachusetts agreed to impregnate her by in-vitro fertilization (IVF) using Hebert's egg fertilized with Brian's sperm.

Protestors greet delegates to the RNC dressed as giant vaginas

Women across the country took off their tops and exercised their right to bare breasts

Men, Who Needs Them? In the New York Times, an op ed columnist with very strange ideas about biology, says men are not necessary for human reproduction.  You were you before there was a you.

Think about your own history. Your life as an egg actually started in your mother’s developing ovary, before she was born; you were wrapped in your mother’s fetal body as it developed within your grandmother.  After the two of you left Grandma’s womb, you enjoyed the protection of your mother’s prepubescent ovary.

Hannah Rosin's much discussed essay in the Atlantic, Boys on the Side, claims female success and equality is due to the hookup culture

To put it crudely, feminist progress right now largely depends on the existence of the hookup culture. And to a surprising degree, it is women—not men—who are perpetuating the culture, especially in school, cannily manipulating it to make space for their success, always keeping their own ends in mind. For college girls these days, an overly serious suitor fills the same role an accidental pregnancy did in the 19th century: a danger to be avoided at all costs, lest it get in the way of a promising future.

The New Eugenics.  An Oxford academic states that creating designer babies could be considered a moral obligation as it makes them grow up into ''ethically better children".  Professor Julian Savulescu, an 'expert' in practical ethics  and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Medical Ethics said

that we should actively give parents the choice to screen out personality flaws in their children as it meant they were then less likely to "harm themselves and others".
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He said that science is increasingly discovering that genes have a significant influence on personality – with certain genetic markers in embryo suggesting future characteristics.  By screening in and screening out certain genes in the embryos, it should be possible to influence how a child turns out.

In the end, he said that "rational design" would help lead to a better, more intelligent and less violent society in the future. "If we have the power to intervene in the nature of our offspring — rather than consigning them to the natural lottery — then we should."

Does that include the "Gay Gene"?

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:06 AM | Permalink

August 10, 2012

Sign of the Times

The jobseeker's Facebook dilemma.  Declare your normality to the world, or risk being labelled a psychopath?

Some psychologists and employers now believe that someone who does not have a page on Facebook, or on another social networking site, may be a misfit or even a psychopath.

Facebook is now used so commonly by young people that not having an account might indicate that you are abnormal and dysfunctional, or even dangerous.
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Having a Facebook page can be seen by some as a testimonial declaring social normality, with a wide circle of friends. The absence might indicate that there is something serious to hide.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:55 AM | Permalink

October 3, 2011

Bush's Fault

"In God We Trust" is Out; "What, Me Worry?" Is In.    Walter Russell Mead observes that the significant damage to the Washington Monument (closed indefinitely) and to the National Cathedral, two unique symbols of national identity, in the nation's capital in the August 23rd earthquake would in ancient times would have been "highly noteworthy".

We would be rending our garments, consulting the Sibylline books and repenting in sackcloth and ashes after so a clear a demonstration of divine wrath.

These days we do nothing at all.  No doubt this is much more progressive and intelligent.  After all, there is absolutely nothing going on in Washington or the country at large that could cause anyone or anything to warn us to mend our ways.....

"In God we trust” is so eighteenth century; we seem to have moved on to something more contemporary.  “What, Me Worry?” has none of that superstitious claptrap that so annoys the ACLU.

I laughed when I read one commentator who said,

Since this was a previously unknown fault which caused the earthquake the President was given the privilege of naming it. It will now be known as Bush’s Fault.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:36 PM | Permalink

September 26, 2011

Persecution of Christianity here, there and everywhere

British Postal Service Refuses to Deliver Christian CDs after deciding they were 'offensive material'

Postal workers refused to deliver CDs of Bible readings after deciding they were ‘offensive material’.  Several churches had paid for discs with recordings of St Mark’s Gospel to be produced to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible. They were due to be delivered to all households on the Channel Island of Jersey, but church leaders were stunned when they were told postal workers would not handle the 45,000 CDs.

Some British MPs want to "Force Churches to Perform Same-Sex Unions or Close Them Down."

British police ban display of bible texts on a video screen in a Christian cafe because it breaches public order laws.

Raymond Ibrahim reports on the Muslim Persecution of Christians that occurred in just the month of August and it is astonishing.  This is news that rarely, if ever, reaches the mainstream media.  Ibrahim  writes the persecution is habitual, if not chronic, and it is  "systematic, interrelated, and ultimately rooted in a worldview inspired by Sharia Law."

whatever the of persecution that took place, it typically fits under a specific theme, including hatred for churches and other Christian symbols; sexual abuse of Christian women; forced conversions to Islam; apostasy and blasphemy laws; theft and plunder in lieu of jizya, the additional tax that can be imposed on by Muslims on non-Muslims in a Muslin state; overall expectations for Christians to behave like cowed dhimmis, or second-class "protected" citizens; and simple violence.

Lest you think this couldn't happen In the United States where the Free Exercise of Religion enshrined in the Bill of Rights is "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" , think again.

In Imagine No Religion, Adam Freedman reports that  In the San Diego school district, teachers display all sorts of posters and banners -Tibetan prayer flags with images of the Buddha,  posters of Mahatma Gandhi, images of the Dalai Lama, Malcolm X and John Lennon and the lyrics of Imagine.  Singled out for discipline was a teacher who had displayed for decades

a quotation from the Declaration of Independence ("All men are created equal, they are endowed by their Creator..."), the official motto of the US ("In God We Trust"), and the phrase "One Nation, Under God" -- a phrase inserted by Congress in 1954, and reaffirmed by Congress in 2006

The teacher won in the district court on Free Speech and Establishment clause ground but the Ninth Circuit reversed  ruling

the teacher's banners are not protected by the free speech clause, and that State action that allows teachers to promote Buddhism, Hinduism, and Atheism, while prohibiting "judeo-christian viewpoints" presents no Establishment Clause problem.

In Capistrano, California, a city founded as a Christian mission and home to California's oldest building still in use where Father Junipero Serra celebrated mass, city officials fined a Christian couple $300 for holding a bible study in their home because they did so without getting a city permit.

Texas school punishes boy for opposing homosexuality

An honors student in Fort Worth, Texas, was sent to the principal’s office and punished for telling a classmate that he believes homosexuality is wrong.
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Dakota was in a German class at the high school when the conversation shifted to religion and homosexuality in Germany. At some point during the conversation, he turned to a friend and said that he was a Christian and “being a homosexual is wrong.”

“It wasn’t directed to anyone except my friend who was sitting behind me,” Dakota told Fox. “I guess [the teacher] heard me. He started yelling.

These are not just outlying cases.  Look what's happening at the highest federal levels where the threat to religious freedom is unprecedented as the Obama Administration's redefines  religious freedom. 

The Department of HHS has promulgated new regulations to govern which religious organizations may receive an exemption from other Obamacare regulations that require them to pay for contraceptives, sterilizations, abortions and other services that violate their religious beliefs.  The definition of a qualified religious organization is so narrow  Jesus Christ Himself Wouldn't Get ObamaCare Religious Exemption.  Really.   It excludes Catholic non-profits, colleges and social service agencies that do not primarily teach religion or who employ non-Catholics or who serve non-Catholics.  So much for the church's mission to serve the poor whoever they may be. 

The Fight to Be Catholic  outlines the threats not just from HHS but also from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the National Labor Relations Board. 

Two years ago, the Administration declined to defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) passed by Congress.  Today it attributes prejudice and bias to those who continue to believe in traditional marriage.  Archbishop Timothy Dolan, President of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, wrote to the President last week.

We as Bishops of the Catholic Church recognize the immeasurable personal dignity and equal worth of all individuals, including those with same-sex attraction, and we reject all hatred and unjust treatment against any person. Our profound regard for marriage as the complementary and fruitful union of a man and a woman does not negate our concern for the well-being of all people but reinforces it.

"Mr. President, I respectfully urge you to push the reset button on your Administration‟s approach to DOMA. Our federal government should not be presuming ill intent or moral blindness on the part of the overwhelming majority of its citizens, millions of whom have gone to the polls to directly support DOMAs in their states and have thereby endorsed marriage as the union of man and woman. Nor should a policy disagreement over the meaning of marriage be treated by federal officials as a federal offense— but this will happen if the Justice Department's latest constitutional theory prevails in court. The Administration‟s failure to change course on this matter will, as the attached analysis indicates, precipitate a national conflict between Church and State of enormous proportions and to the detriment of both institutions.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:10 PM | Permalink

September 23, 2011

The War Against the Young and the Lost Generation

The War Against The Young: Warning From Italy and Japan

The war on the young is led “by cadres of elderly men, content to manage decline” and exacerbated by younger generations, who don’t seem to know what’s going on or understand the gravity of the financial situation that will hit them in the future.
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To succeed today, many young people need to recognize that no job will be waiting for them when they finish studying.  They are going to have to create their own opportunities.  It is a good time for creative entrepreneurs.
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Italy and Japan have particularly bad cases of the blues; with relatively small numbers of young people and large ones of older people, the old are not only cunning and entrenched in positions of power: they can still beat the kids in elections.  Politicians reinforce generational privilege rather than acting on the knowledge that, in the end, an economy that doesn’t work for the young is an economy doomed to decline.

A warning too late?  The recession that began in 2008 is hitting the young the hardest.  The young are becoming a "lost generation" amid the recession.

In record-setting numbers, young adults struggling to find work are shunning long-distance moves to live with Mom and Dad, delaying marriage and buying fewer homes, often raising kids out of wedlock. They suffer from the highest unemployment since World War II and risk living in poverty more than others — nearly 1 in 5.

New 2010 census data released Thursday show the wrenching impact of a recession that officially ended in mid-2009. It highlights the missed opportunities and dim prospects for a generation of mostly 20-somethings and 30-somethings coming of age in a prolonged slump with high unemployment.

"We have a monster jobs problem, and young people are the biggest losers," said Andrew Sum, an economist and director of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University.
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Richard Freeman, an economist at Harvard University, added, "These people will be scarred, and they will be called the 'lost generation' — in that their careers would not be the same way if we had avoided this economic disaster."

Economists say this trend will continue for another decade and when it's over it will take another decade for this generation to recover fully.

Of course this delays the entire process of becoming an adult, getting married, buying a house, and starting a family.
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When the Lost Generation is found again, they'll be older, inexperienced and without assets to speak of. And they will need to grow up fast.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:14 AM | Permalink

September 3, 2011

Popular TV shows teach children fame is most important value

The continuing devolution of the culture, part 467.

Popular TV Shows Teach Children Fame Is Most Important Value, Psychologists Report; Being Kind to Others Fell Dramatically in Importance Over 10 Years.

Fame is the No. 1 value emphasized by television shows popular with 9- to 11-year-olds, a dramatic change over the past 10 years, UCLA psychologists report in a new study.

On a list of 16 values, fame jumped from the 15th spot, where it was in both 1987 and 1997, to the first spot in 2007. From 1997 to 2007, benevolence (being kind and helping others) fell from second to 13th, and tradition dropped from fourth to 15th
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"I was shocked, especially by the dramatic changes in the last 10 years," said Yalda T. Uhls, a UCLA doctoral student in developmental psychology and the lead author of the study. "I thought fame would be important but did not expect this drastic an increase or such a dramatic decrease in other values, such as community feeling. If you believe that television reflects the culture, as I do, then American culture has changed drastically."

Community feeling (being part of a group) was the No. 1 value in 1967, 1977 and 1997, and it was the No. 2 value in 1987, the study found. By 2007, however, it had fallen out of the top 10, to 11th.
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The top five values in 2007 were fame, achievement, popularity, image and financial success. In 1997, the top five were community feeling, benevolence (being kind and helping others), image, tradition and self-acceptance. In 2007, benevolence dropped to the 12th spot and community feeling fell to 11th. Financial success went from 12th in 1967 and 1997 to fifth in 2007.
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The study is published in the July issue of Cyberpsychology: Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace, a peer-reviewed journal featuring psychosocial research on the impact of the Internet on people and society.

Uhls and Greenfield analyzed Nielsen demographic data to determine the most popular shows with 9- to 11-year-olds and then conducted a survey of 60 participants, aged 18 to 59, to determine how important each value was in episodes of the various shows.
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"The biggest change occurred from 1997 to 2007, when YouTube, Facebook and Twitter exploded in popularity," Uhls said. "Their growth parallels the rise in narcissism and the drop in empathy among college students in the United States, as other research has shown. We don't think this is a coincidence. Changes we have seen in narcissism and empathy are being reflected on television. In the past, children had their home, community and school; now they have thousands of 'friends' who look at their photos and their posts and comment on them. The growth of social media gives children access to an audience beyond the school grounds."
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:14 PM | Permalink

July 27, 2011

"What's the use?"

Ronnie Bryant, a Birmingham coal operator speaks and, by chance,  David McElory was there and heard him.

‘I’m just quitting’: A scene right out of ‘Atlas Shrugged’ in Birmingham

I was at a public hearing in an inner-city Birmingham neighborhood for various government officials to get public input on some local environmental issues. There are several hot topics, but one of the highest-profile disputes is over a proposal for a coal mine near a river that serves as a source of drinking water for parts of the Birmingham metro area. Mine operators and state environmental officials say the mine can be operated without threatening the water supply. Environmentalists claim it will be a threat.
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After Bryant listened to all of the business-bashing, he finally stood to speak. He sounded a little bit shellshocked, a little bit angry — and a lot frustrated.

My name’s Ronnie Bryant, and I’m a mine operator…. I’ve been issued a [state] permit in the recent past for [waste water] discharge, and after standing in this room today listening to the comments being made by the people…. [pause] Nearly every day without fail — I have a different perspective — men stream to these [mining] operations looking for work in Walker County. They can’t pay their mortgage. They can’t pay their car note. They can’t feed their families. They don’t have health insurance. And as I stand here today, I just … you know … what’s the use? I got a permit to open up an underground coal mine that would employ probably 125 people. They’d be paid wages from $50,000 to $150,000 a year. We would consume probably $50 million to $60 million in consumables a year, putting more men to work. And my only idea today is to go home. What’s the use? I don’t know. I mean, I see these guys — I see them with tears in their eyes — looking for work. And if there’s so much opposition to these guys making a living, I feel like there’s no need in me putting out the effort to provide work for them. So as I stood against the wall here today, basically what I’ve decided is not to open the mine. I’m just quitting. Thank you.

“McElroy comments,

The only thing I’m sure of is that what I saw today is a broken process and a sham. We all want a decent environment in which to live, but when various people at a public meeting — including federal officials and community members — talk about “environmental justice” and make it clear that their intent is to make it harder for businesses to operate, well, I can see why a businessman would decide to quit. I consider myself an environmentalist — because I want to live in a safe, secure, clean world — but what I saw isn’t reasonable concern for the environment as much as it’s an ideological agenda.

Via Mollie Hemingway at Ricochet who read the comments.

... reader after reader talks about how running a small business is a thankless task made impossible by the burden of various regulations. My friends who run small businesses have reported horror stories about the difficulties they face in running a business while jumping through regulatory hoops. We need to find a better balance.

There is hundreds of billions of capital on the sideline not creating jobs because of uncertainty over regulations, taxes and the ability of the government to solve the problems of too much spending and too much debt.

It may indeed be, and I think it is, a "crisis of the old order " as economist Robert Samuelson writes today in the Washington Post

We have left our collective comfort zone. Ideas and institutions that, on the whole, served well since World War II are under a cloud. .... Governments everywhere are striving to protect the old order because they do not understand and fear the new.

Right now it's the uncertainty that is blocking economic growth as Dan Juneau, president of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry,  writes

Uncertainty is the bane of economic recovery. It is the main reason the Great Depression lasted for a decade. It is a major reason why the current economic slump continues. Business owners and investors do not create jobs when they fear factors beyond their control that could impact their profitability. Those factors abound at the moment.

A mammoth government intrusion into health care, rife with mandates and complex government regulations, sits in limbo in the courts. Businesses simply do not know at this point what the impact on their bottom lines will be if the law is upheld. The Obama administration’s energy policies are killing domestic energy jobs while driving energy prices higher for businesses and consumers. The majority of businesses in the U.S. are non-union. Obama’s appointees to the National Labor Relations Board continue to try to muscle through pro-union regulations that Congress has refused to enact. Free trade agreements sit idle in Congress, agreements that can expand American exports and create jobs.

The one element that absolutely will reduce the federal budget deficit and the national debt is a rapidly growing economy. That won’t happen as long as our national economic policies put the public sector first, continue to create uncertainty, and throw roadblocks in the path of business investment and job creation. The June employment figures are a testimony to that fact.   
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:54 PM | Permalink

June 20, 2011

The Sacking of California

Over 300 power poles in California have been stripped for their copper. One pole in Antioch stole an entire transformer

Victor Davis Hanson writes another depressing chapter of life in Fresno County, California in The Metaphysics of Contemporary Theft.

1) I left my chainsaw in the driveway to use the restroom inside the house. Someone driving buy saw it. He slammed on the brakes, stole it, and drove off. Neat, quick, easy. Mind you there was only a 5-minute hiatus in between my cutting. And the driver was a random passer-by. That suggests to me that a high number of rural Fresno County motorists can prove to be opportunistic thieves at any given moment. ...
2) On the next night, three 15-hp agriculture pumps on our farm were vandalized — all the copper wire was torn out of the electrical conduits. The repairs to each one might run $500; yet, the value of the wire could not be over $50
3) A neighbor has a house for sale. It is unoccupied and rather isolated. I saw someone approach it on Friday, and drove over to ensure he was lawful. It was the owner’s assistant, who lamented that someone had just stolen all the new appliances out of the house — carting off the refrigerator, dishwasher, stove, and microwave. But why? Do these miscreants wish a civilization of the sort that all houses must seem occupied all the time, or are otherwise considered “communal property” for the taking?
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We are left with a paradox. The taxpayer cannot indefinitely fund the emergency room treatment for the shooter and his victim on Saturday night if society cannot put a tool down for five minutes without a likely theft, or a farmer cannot turn on a 50-year old pump without expecting its electrical connections to have been ripped out. Civilization simply cannot function that way for either the productive citizen or the parasite, who still needs a live host.

Meanwhile, in San Francisco, City pension pays more than average worker earns,

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:32 PM | Permalink

"There comes a moment in any decent tragedy when the penny finally drops."

The greatest gift to the Greeks might be to let them go it alone writes Boris Johnson.

Bail-outs and austerity measures are only making the country’s burden harder to bear,

There comes a moment in any decent tragedy when the penny finally drops. The light breaks. The protagonist suddenly realises what a chump he has been - that he has somehow managed accidentally to marry his mother and kill his father - and that all his assumptions about his life are upside down. And the really awful thing about the tragedy now playing on the streets of Athens is that we haven’t even reached that bit yet.
---
For years, European governments have been saying that it would be insane and inconceivable for a country to leave the euro. But this second option is now all but inevitable, and the sooner it happens the better. We have had the
hamartia - the tragic flaw in the system that allowed high-spending countries to free ride on low interest rates. We have had the hubris - the belief the good times would never end. We have had nemesis - disaster. We now need the anagnorisis - the moment of recognition that Greece would be better off in a state of Byronic liberation, forging a new economic identity with a New Drachma. Then there will be catharsis, the experience of purgation and relief.

I am convinced it's only a matter of time.

UPDATE:  The Only Way Forward Is To Accept Reality: Greek Default Is Not The End Of The World
The catastrophe isn't default, it's "extend and pretend."

Greece Is About To Get Hit With Widespread Blackouts, As Power Workers Go On Strike Monday
Here comes more economic destruction in Greece, courtesy of the powerful power industry workers union.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:10 AM | Permalink

June 11, 2011

"The paramilitarization of the education bureaucracy"

From Mark Steyn's Road to Nowhere

Random example from the headlines: The paramilitarization of the education bureaucracy. The federal Department of Education doesn’t employ a single teacher but it does have a SWAT team: They kicked down a front door in Stockton, Calif. last week and handcuffed Kenneth Wright (erroneously) in connection with a student-loan “investigation.” “We can confirm that we executed a search warrant,” said Department of Education spokesperson Gina Burress.

The Department of Education issues search warrants? Who knew?
The Brokest Nation in History is the only country in the developed world whose education secretary has his own Delta Force. And, in a land with over a trillion dollars in college debt, I’ll bet it’s got no plans to downsize.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:04 PM | Permalink

Just sitting on a park bench can get you a ticket in New York City

When the state has gone far too far. When just sitting on a park bench can get you a ticket in New York City, the government is out of control. 

'We were treated like child molesters': Fury of woman fined for sitting in playground without a child

After buying their coffee and donuts, they walked across the street to sit in the park and enjoy the June sunshine.

But just minutes later the three women and one man were swooped on by two cops who gave them a $50 fine - for not having a child with them.

They were told that they were sitting in a children’s play area and, as they were on their own, they had broken the law.

The two female friends and a girlfriend and her boyfriend now face having to go to court to ‘clear their name’ or pay the ‘ridiculous’ fine.

They have now spoken out to shame the New York Police Department after being ‘treated like child molesters’ for doing nothing more than sit on a park bench.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:03 AM | Permalink

May 20, 2011

The Death of the Grown-Up

 The-Adult-Baby

Stanley is a 29-year-old man who sleeps in a crib, sucks on a pacifier, drinks from a bottle, wears diapers, and eats in a high chair. He chooses to live his life as an "adult baby" with the help of his friend and roommate Sandra, who essentially role plays as his mother. The pair were featured on last night's episode of National Geographic's Taboo, which focused on "fantasy lives." Stanley says that his infantilism is not based out of any sexual desire, but rather of one to be nurtured. He explains "adult baby" role playing as a way of blowing off steam from a stressful day of work. Except that he doesn't have a job. Neither does Sandra. They both receive Social Security disability benefits for unspecified reasons and use their free time to run an adult baby internet support group and building custom-made baby furniture that can support Stanley's weight.

The Adult Baby Syndrome is an abdication of the duty to grow up.

Welcome to the land of the freeloaders and the home of the depraved. No image captures America’s regressive ethos better than that of 30-year-old Stanley Thornton Jr., self-proclaimed “Adult Baby.
---
Junior came to Washington’s attention this week when Sen. Tom Coburn (R., Okla.) challenged the Social Security Administration to probe into how the baby-bottle-guzzling, 350-pound man qualified for federal disability benefits. A former security guard, Junior is handy enough to have crafted his own wooden high chair and playpen.
---
Junior, naturally, threw a tantrum when his government teat-sucking was called into question. He wiped his nose and un-balled his fists long enough to type out an e-mail to the Washington Times: “You wanna test how damn serious I am about leaving this world, screw with my check that pays for this apartment and food. Try it. See how serious I am. I don’t care,” Junior threatened. “I have no problem killing myself. Take away the last thing keeping me here, and see what happens. Next time you see me on the news, it will be me in a body bag.”

Not from nowhere has this stubborn, self-destructive sense of entitlement sprung.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:12 PM | Permalink

May 11, 2011

Mobile phones are killing the bees

Forget global carbon emissions.  What really endangers our lives on the planet are mobile phones because they kills the bees who fertilize our food crops.

 Bee-On-Sunflower-1

Mobile phones ARE to blame for killing off the world's bee populations, scientists claim

Scientists claim to have proved that signals from mobile phones are behind the sudden decline of the world's bee population, which plays a vital role in both agriculture and horticulture.

Lead researcher Daniel Favre from Lausanne, Switzerland, placed phones in a series of hives under controlled conditions and monitored the results.

The study - published in the beekeepers' magazine Apidologie - found that the phone signals confused the bees who began to fly erratically before suddenly dying.


The scientists carried out 83 experiments in hives and recorded the bees' reactions to mobile phones in off, standby and call-making modes.

The noise produced by the bees increased more than ten-fold whenever a phone made or received a call - the noise dropped to normal level when the phone was off or on standby.

Mr Favre explained: 'The bees' noise drastically increases as soon as the phone rings - the rays from the phone and the noise clearly disturbs the bees.

'This gives the bees the signal to leave the hive. But often they are so confused they fly to their death.
'Mobile phone technology is fateful for bees. The study definitely proves that.'

The study isn't the first to link mobile phones with the death of bees.In 2008, a German researcher found that bees refuse to return to their hive when mobile phones are placed alongside it.

Lost and disoriented, they die. The result is abandoned hives, a possible honey shortage and, most gravely, a lack of pollinators for our flowers and crops.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:18 PM | Permalink

April 18, 2011

Hiding in front of screens

 Notice-Hereby-Given-Cellphone

                    Neatorama image

It just went so well with the New York Times story Keep Your Thumbs Still When I’m Talking to You

In places all over America (theaters, sports arenas, apartments), people gather in groups only to disperse into lone pursuits between themselves and their phones.
---
When someone you are trying to talk to ends up getting busy on a phone, the most natural response is not to scold, but to emulate. It’s mutually assured distraction.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:57 PM | Permalink

March 29, 2011

64 Million Vacancies

An astonishing example of how centrally planned economies can not respond well to the simple economic principles of supply and demand because of political demands.    The government wants economic growth and jobs and so they build even when no one can afford to live in what's been built.  The result 64 million vacancies that the average Chinese working couple can not afford. 

Business Insider has reported There Are Now Enough Vacant Properties In China To House Over Half Of America

Now it brings us this stunning documentary from Australia.

What will happen to the nation's largest creditor when this bubble bursts? 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:52 PM | Permalink

March 5, 2011

Round-up of love and its counterfeits.

Too often love is thought of as warm feelings.  Yet, true love is willing the good of the other and doing something about it.  All of these articles from last week spoke to me of love or the lack of it.

More Civilians Killed Last Year in One Mexican Border Town Than All Afghanistan

There were 3,111 civilians murdered in the city of Juarez in 2010 and 2,421 in the entire country of Afghanistan.

On a per capita basis, a civilian was 30 times more likely to be murdered last year in Juarez, ... than in Afghanistan.

Yet, our border agents forced to face down bullets with bean bags.

Border agent  Brian Terry, armed with beanbags,  is killed with guns smuggled into Mexico by our Agency for Tobacco and Firearms (ATF)

Guidelines drawn up by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) for doctors, nurses and counsellors involved in terminations, state that "women should be advised that abortion is generally safer than continuing a pregnancy to term."   

Except for the baby.

Startling Infographic, Exploring America's Addiction to Porn  Is there a surer way to destroy the capacity to love?

"Discovering online sexual material was the worst thing that had ever happened in their life"

The Secret to a Happy Marriage: Do the Dishes, Put Out, Don't Talk So Much
Five somewhat regressive, not very romantic, yet extremely effective lessons from economics for a happy marriage with long-term prospects:

When You Feel Loved, You Love Stuff Less
A new psychology study  by UNH psychology professor Edward Lemay and colleagues at Yale ratifies common sense.

Looking at a Loved One's Photo Takes Away Pain as Well as Drugs
A study by Stanford University found direct evidence linking feelings of emotional attachment with the soothing of pain. Image of a partner dulls pain 'as much as cocaine'

Maybe you hate your political opponents more than you should for your own good    The Hate that Feels like Love

A teacher was giving me the business yesterday, and the teacher told me she hates me because it makes her feel good”
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“Hatred,” says psychologist Robert Enright, “has a long shelf life. Once it enters into the human heart, it’s hard to get it out. It breeds destruction, discouragement, and hopelessness.”
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Anyone who has ever been targeted by a pack of bullies understands. Venting hatred, especially under the righteous cover of a “cause,” gives one a sense of belonging and purpose and—quite unlike love—it does so in an expeditious and rather painless way. Mob-supported hatred removes openness from the social equation, and that in turn takes away vulnerability, leaving one with a powerful sense of communal well-being that can serve as a reasonable facsimile of being loved by others.

What love looks like In a backwater town of only 800 residents Twenty five people take it in turns to perform CPR for 1.5 hours to keep man who collapsed after heart attack alive.  Rescuers gave him no chance of survival but Howard Snitzer, 54, has made an almost complete recovery. He said

I love them. I love those people. What can I say? It's pretty overwhelming to be in a room full of people that are not going to walk away and give up on you.

' And I had nothing to do with it. It's just one of those things. They're all angels as far as I'm concerned.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:59 PM | Permalink

March 3, 2011

Medicare loses nearly four times as much money as health insurers make

Stunning.

Medicare loses nearly four times as much money as health insurers make 

In a newly released report, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) estimates that, in fiscal year 2010, $48 billion in taxpayer money was squandered on fraudulent or improper Medicare claims. Meanwhile, the nation’s ten largest health insurance companies made combined profits of $12.7 billion in 2010 (according to Fortune 500). In other words, for every $1 made by the nation’s ten largest insurers, Medicare lost nearly $4.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:24 PM | Permalink

Religious cleansing

Will this Administration ever condemn the murder of Christians in Muslim lands? 

Does no one see the danger to all of us when people are hanged or killed for their religious beliefs  and no one bothers to say anything about it.

Not even the murder of the Pakistan Minister for Minorities, Shahbaz  Bhatti, a Catholic, seems to matter.

Dying on a cross in Pakistan

So it has happened again. It may be time for more showers of rose petals among some — repeat SOME — Muslims in the troubled land of Pakistan. At this point, it would really help to watch the stunning piece of video that accompanies this post. This is the martyred Shahbaz Bhatti, speaking for himself and for religious minorities in his homeland.
 

His blasphemy?  He defended Asia Bibi
The Pakistani minister for minorities, Shahbaz Bhatti was killed this morning by an armed commando. The attack was carried out in the I-8 / 3 neighbourhood by a group of masked men who ambushed the minister on the street. They pulled him out of his car and opened fire at point blank range before fleeing in a car.
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The killers left a note at the scene of the crime: "Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claims responsibility for the assassination of Bhatti for speaking out against the blasphemy law".
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He boldly defended Asia Bibi, a Christian sentenced to death for blasphemy on the basis of false accusations. He belonged to the PPP, the progressive party in government. After the killing of Salman Taseer, Governor of Punjab, who Islamic fundamentalists blamed for having defended Asia Bibi, Bhatti had become the radicals “top target”.

And this is what is going on in Egypt.  The continual assault against the Coptic Christians, the indigenous people of Egypt,  is looking a lot like ethnic cleansing.

"Utterly Inhuman": Muslim Governor in Egypt Orders Demolition of Christian Homes and Center for Handicapped Children.

In the London Telegraph, Damian Thompson asks When will Britain wake up to Islam's persecution of Christians?

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:37 AM | Permalink

March 1, 2011

Looking for love in all the wrong places

Dr. Sanity

Part of my job is dealing with chemical addictions and the addicts who have them. One definition of chemical dependency that I particularly like and have seen validated over and over again is this: "Chemical dependency is essentially a committed pathological love relationship to a mood altering chemical substance."

I thought of that definition when I saw these photos posted by a sheriff in Portland Oregon that show more vividly than anyone can describe the destructive effects of meth. Scared straight: Drugs before and after.

-Drugs-Mugs-Woman

-Drugs-Mugs-Guys

You can see a whole gallery here.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:37 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

February 28, 2011

Unintended consequences

Low-flow toilets causing a stink in San Francisco

San Francisco's big push for low-flow toilets has turned into a multimillion-dollar plumbing stink.

Skimping on toilet water has resulted in more sludge backing up inside the sewer pipes, said Tyrone Jue, spokesman for the city Public Utilities Commission. That has created a rotten-egg stench near AT&T Park and elsewhere, especially during the dry summer months.

The city has already spent $100 million over the past five years to upgrade its sewer system and sewage plants, in part to combat the odor problem.

Now officials are stocking up on a $14 million, three-year supply of highly concentrated sodium hypochlorite - better known as bleach - to act as an odor eater and to disinfect the city's treated water before it's dumped into the bay. It will also be used to sanitize drinking water.

That translates into 8.5 million pounds of bleach either being poured down city drains or into the drinking water supply every year.

I say let everyone replace their low-flow toilets instead.  Most everyone wants to anyway and they will do it if they can and it won't cost the city a dime. 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:55 PM | Permalink

February 17, 2011

The Devolution of Coherent Speech

Undergraduates, I said, seemed to be shifting the burden of communication from speaker to listener. Ambiguity, evasion, and body language, such as air quotes—using fingers as quotation marks to indicate clichés—were transforming college English into a coded sign language in which speakers worked hard to avoid saying anything definite. I called it Vagueness.

What Happens in Vagueness Stays in Vagueness by Clark Whelton in City Journal.

I recently watched a television program in which a woman described a baby squirrel that she had found in her yard. “And he was like, you know, ‘Helloooo, what are you looking at?’ and stuff, and I’m like, you know, ‘Can I, like, pick you up?,’ and he goes, like, ‘Brrrp brrrp brrrp,’ and I’m like, you know, ‘Whoa, that is so wow!’ ” She rambled on, speaking in self-quotations, sound effects, and other vocabulary substitutes, punctuating her sentences with facial tics and lateral eye shifts. All the while, however, she never said anything specific about her encounter with the squirrel.

Uh-oh. It was a classic case of Vagueness, the linguistic virus that infected spoken language in the late twentieth century. Squirrel Woman sounded like a high school junior, but she appeared to be in her mid-forties
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:52 AM | Permalink

January 14, 2011

"The bills for this calamity will be paid in the future"

What happens when you tell young people over and over again that the most important fact of American history is the internment of Japanese during World War Two? In a single year, I watched as fourth graders were assigned four different readings on that topic while spending ten minutes on George Washington and zero on Abraham Lincoln. Their sole reading on September 11 was a story on how Kenyans reacted to the event — with no identification of who had carried out the attack.

Yet this is what’s really going on in the America experienced by our eleven-year-olds, and, no doubt, by their older and younger siblings as well. This daily experience isn’t covered in the media. Parents hardly ever hear about it.

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This situation, to put it mildly, is a social disaster. The bills for this calamity will be paid in the future, just as today we are living in the shadow of the radical 1960s come to cultural, ideological, and political power.

“Political correctness” and “multiculturalism” are creating a nation full of thin-skinned people ready to identify virtually anything as racist or discriminatory. It is conditioning young people to believe instinctively that ours is a fundamentally contemptible society, riddled with haters and racists who are out to get them or anyone who constitutes “the other.” It is instructing them that freedom of speech does not and should not apply to vast swaths of public, and perhaps private, life.

Barry Rubin on At Public School, Anti-Americanism Hides in Plain Sight.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:28 PM | Permalink

January 2, 2011

The "slipperiness of empiricism" when "our facts are losing their truth"

It began with an examination into why certain drugs lose their effectiveness after a period of time.

Before the effectiveness of a drug can be confirmed, it must be tested and tested again. Different scientists in different labs need to repeat the protocols and publish their results. The test of replicability, as it’s known, is the foundation of modern research. Replicability is how the community enforces itself. It’s a safeguard for the creep of subjectivity. Most of the time, scientists know what results they want, and that can influence the results they get. The premise of replicability is that the scientific community can correct for these flaws.

But now all sorts of well-established, multiply confirmed findings have started to look increasingly uncertain. It’s as if our facts were losing their truth: claims that have been enshrined in textbooks are suddenly unprovable. This phenomenon doesn’t yet have an official name, but it’s occurring across a wide range of fields, from psychology to ecology. In the field of medicine, the phenomenon seems extremely widespread, affecting not only antipsychotics but also therapies ranging from cardiac stents to Vitamin E and antidepressants.

The phenomenon, dubbed the decline effect, proved more wide-reaching, more mysterious and far more troubling than anyone could have imagined.

Such anomalies demonstrate the slipperiness of empiricism. Although many scientific ideas generate conflicting results and suffer from falling effect sizes, they continue to get cited in the textbooks and drive standard medical practice. Why? Because these ideas seem true. Because they make sense. Because we can’t bear to let them go. And this is why the decline effect is so troubling. Not because it reveals the human fallibility of science, in which data are tweaked and beliefs shape perceptions. (Such shortcomings aren’t surprising, at least for scientists.) And not because it reveals that many of our most exciting theories are fleeting fads and will soon be rejected. (That idea has been around since Thomas Kuhn.) The decline effect is troubling because it reminds us how difficult it is to prove anything.

The Decline Effect and the Scientific Method in The New Yorker

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:17 PM | Permalink

December 30, 2010

EU abolishes Christmas

EU abolishes Christmas in its new daily planner aimed at schoolchildren says Archbishop Crammer.

These daily planners, of which three million have produced (courtesy of the taxpayer), include the holidays of Jews, Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus, but there is not one mention of Christian holidays.

Despite Christians manifestly constituting the vast majority of the European Union.

The page for December 25th is completely empty, and at the bottom is the following message: "A true friend is someone who shares your worries and your joy.”

Easter's gone too.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:16 PM | Permalink

December 16, 2010

"Inadvertently, indirectly, infertility has become the Pill’s primary side effect."


Unexpected result

New York magazine looks at the impact of the Pill after 50 years. Waking Up from the Pill

The fact is that the Pill, while giving women control of their bodies for the first time in history, allowed them to forget about the biological realities of being female until it was, in some cases, too late. It changed the narrative of women’s lives, so that it was much easier to put off having children until all the fun had been had (or financial pressures lessened). Until the past couple of decades, even most die-hard feminists were still married at 25 and pregnant by 28, so they never had to deal with fertility problems, since a tiny percentage of women experience problems conceiving before the age of 28. Now many New York women have shifted their attempts at conception back about ten years. And the experience of trying to get pregnant at that age amounts to a new stage in women’s lives, a kind of second adolescence. For many, this passage into childbearing—a Gail Sheehy–esque one, with its own secrets and rituals—is as fraught a time as the one before was carefree.

Suddenly, one anxiety—Am I pregnant?—is replaced by another: Can I get pregnant? The days of gobbling down the Pill and running out to CVS at 3 a.m. for a pregnancy test recede in the distance, replaced by a new set of obsessions. The Pill didn’t create the field of infertility medicine, but it turned it into an enormous industry. Inadvertently, indirectly, infertility has become the Pill’s primary side effect.

And ironically, this most basic of women’s issues is one that traditional feminism has a very hard time processing—the notion that this freedom might have a cost is thought to be so dangerous it shouldn’t be mentioned.


Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:41 PM | Permalink

December 7, 2010

Alien self-concepts

Annie Gottlieb in Elegy for Experience

I hardly know anyone under 40 (and few enough over 40) who isn’t on one antidepressant or another; what we considered an existential and deeply individuating ordeal, they conceptualize as a chemical imbalance. What they don’t seem to realize is that “my serotonin” or “my dopamine” is every bit as much a subjective fantasy as “my libido” or “my anima.” We have no direct, sensory experience of our neurotransmitters! They are concepts without any emotional color or content, without any associations except for the prestige of science, an authority that derives from the very fact that it speaks a language we cannot relate to. This is an alienating fantasy of one’s self, not as a cosmos of experience, but as a chemical robot in need of a tune-up by an expert. This robot has no inner space; it is solid-state.


--prescription-drugs.jpg

With so many people self-medicating to deal with their feelings and pain, I was not at all surprised that Drugs were found in 33% of killed drivers.

According to a National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) report released Tuesday, one-third of all drug tests on drivers killed in motor vehicle accidents came back positive for drugs ranging from hallucinogens to prescription painkillers last year.


Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:31 AM | Permalink

November 15, 2010

Flying American flags

Cody Alicea, 13-year-old from Denair, California  rode his bike to school with an American flag on the back for more than 2 months to be patriotic and to honor veterans like his grandfather.    A couple of days before Veterans  Day  his school, worried about racial tensions or uprisings about the flag,  ordered him to take it down.

They had no idea of the firestorm in opinion that would ensue and when it did, the school quickly backed down and apologized.

Today, he proudly biked to school with the American flag flying and hundreds of supporters from the Patriot Guard Riders.

Good for them.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:12 PM | Permalink

November 9, 2010

"I needed counseling, not a sex-change operation"

Another bizarre story.

Charles had a sex change - then hated being Samantha so became a man again. Now he's getting married. So is his fiancée barmy, brave... or just in love?

When millionaire property developer Charles Kane steps out with his new fiancée, people tend to either stare or discreetly do a double take.

It may be because Victoria Emms is a striking redhead and, at 28 to Charles’s 50, is young enough to be his daughter.

But they both suspect it is because they look - to use their own words - ‘eccentric’ or ‘odd’.

In Victoria’s eyes, Charles is ‘all man’, but others may disagree. Born Sam Hashimi, the businessman and divorced father-of-two had a sex-change operation in 1987 to turn him into glamorous interior designer Samantha Kane.

-Sexchange-And Backagain
As Charles Kane, the divorced father-of-two, as Samantha Kane, interior designer, as the newly-engaged fiancee Victoria Emms.

So what kind of woman would want to marry a such man? A woman, it seems, with her own complicated body-image issues.

For it turns out that Victoria is a ‘recovering anorexic’. Both she and Charles believe their ‘mutual struggle with body form and image helped romance to blossom’.

Far more interesting to me anyway is what he has learned from his experience.

Based on my own experiences, I believe sex-change operations should not be allowed, and certainly not on the NHS.

‘People who think they are a woman trapped in a male body are, in my opinion, completely deluded. I certainly was. I needed counselling, not a sex-change operation.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:09 PM | Permalink

November 1, 2010

The Cloud of Witnesses

Al Qaeda attacked the Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad during Sunday mass, and 52 are dead.

Lieutenant General Hussein Kamal, a deputy interior minister said 52 hostages and police were killed and 67 wounded in the incident, which ended with police storming the Assyrian Catholic church to free more than 100 hostages seized by guerrillas.
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"What happened was more than
a catastrophic and tragic event. In my opinion, it is an attempt to force Iraqi Christians to leave Iraq and to empty Iraq of Christians," Human Rights Minister Wijdan Michael, a Christian, said at the scene.

Al Qaeda's Iraqi affiliate, the Islamic State of Iraq, claimed responsibility in a statement posted on Islamist websites for the attack on "the dirty den of idolatry."

Pope Benedict, in today's angelus for All Saints Day, said

Last evening, in a grave attack on the Syriac-Catholic cathedral of Baghdad, there were scores of deaths and injuries, among them two priests and a group of the faithful there for Sunday's Holy Mass. I pray for the victims of this absurd violence, even more ferocious in that it has been inflicted upon defenseless people gathered in God's house, which is a house of love and reconciliation

Today is All Saints Day and the new martyrs will add to the "Cloud of Witnesses" (Hebrews 12:1). 

Below is the gorgeous Litany to the Saints sung in Latin.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:39 AM | Permalink

October 12, 2010

The population bomb of old people

In Foreign Policy, Phillip Longman makes you Think Again about Global Aging.

Yes, the world faces a "population bomb" -- of old people.  The phenomenon is not limited to rich countries and the outlook is even worse for Asia.  Soon a Chinese child - only one because of its stringent one-child policy - will be responsible for supporting two parents and four grandparents. 

Population  Bomb Old People

To have enough workers, old people will have to work longer, but they can only do that if they stay healthy.

In other words, a planet that grays indefinitely is clearly asking for trouble. But birth rates don't have to plummet forever. One path forward might be characterized as the Swedish road: It involves massive state intervention designed to smooth the tensions between work and family life to enable women to have more children without steep financial setbacks. But so far, countries that have followed this approach have achieved only very modest success. At the other extreme is what might be called the Taliban road: This would mean a return to "traditional values," in which women have few economic and social options beyond the role of motherhood. This mindset may well maintain high birth rates, but with consequences that today are unacceptable to all but the most rigid fundamentalists.

So is there a third way? Yes, though we aren't quite sure how to get there. The trick will be restoring what, in the days of family-owned farms and small businesses, was once true: that babies are an asset rather than a burden. Imagine a society in which parents get to keep more of the human capital they form by investing in their children. Imagine a society in which the family is no longer just a consumer unit, but a productive enterprise. The society that figures out how to restore the economic foundation of the family will own the future. The alternative is poor and gray indeed.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:09 PM | Permalink

The population bomb of old people

In Foreign Policy, Phillip Longman makes you Think Again about Global Aging.

Yes, the world faces a "population bomb" -- of old people.  The phenomenon is not limited to rich countries and the outlook is even worse for Asia.  Soon a Chinese child - only one because of its stringent one-child policy - will be responsible for supporting two parents and four grandparents. 

To have enough workers, old people will have to work longer, but they can only do that if they stay healthy.

In other words, a planet that grays indefinitely is clearly asking for trouble. But birth rates don't have to plummet forever. One path forward might be characterized as the Swedish road: It involves massive state intervention designed to smooth the tensions between work and family life to enable women to have more children without steep financial setbacks. But so far, countries that have followed this approach have achieved only very modest success. At the other extreme is what might be called the Taliban road: This would mean a return to "traditional values," in which women have few economic and social options beyond the role of motherhood. This mindset may well maintain high birth rates, but with consequences that today are unacceptable to all but the most rigid fundamentalists.

So is there a third way? Yes, though we aren't quite sure how to get there. The trick will be restoring what, in the days of family-owned farms and small businesses, was once true: that babies are an asset rather than a burden. Imagine a society in which parents get to keep more of the human capital they form by investing in their children. Imagine a society in which the family is no longer just a consumer unit, but a productive enterprise. The society that figures out how to restore the economic foundation of the family will own the future. The alternative is poor and gray indeed.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:07 PM | Permalink

October 11, 2010

Hal Lewis, the Martin Luther of Science

Anthony Watts describes the letter Hal Lewis sent to resign from the American Physical Society it as an important moment in science history.

I would describe it as a letter on the scale of Martin Luther, nailing his 95 theses to the Wittenburg church door. It is worthy of repeating this letter in entirety on every blog that discusses science.

Harold "Hal" Lewis is the Emeritus Professor of Physics, University of California, Santa Barbara and he attacks the American Physical Society of perpetuating the global warming scam and shutting down all debate.  Here are excerpts from the letter

Dear Curt:

When I first joined the American Physical Society sixty-seven years ago it was much smaller, much gentler, and as yet uncorrupted by the money flood (a threat against which Dwight Eisenhower warned a half-century ago).
--
How different it is now. The giants no longer walk the earth, and the money flood has become the raison d’être of much physics research, the vital sustenance of much more, and it provides the support for untold numbers of professional jobs. For reasons that will soon become clear my former pride at being an APS Fellow all these years has been turned into shame, and I am forced, with no pleasure at all, to offer you my resignation from the Society.

It is of course, the global warming scam, with the (literally) trillions of dollars driving it, that has corrupted so many scientists, and has carried APS before it like a rogue wave. It is the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life as a physicist. Anyone who has the faintest doubt that this is so should force himself to read the ClimateGate documents, which lay it bare. (Montford’s book organizes the facts very well.) I don’t believe that any real physicist, nay scientist, can read that stuff without revulsion. I would almost make that revulsion a definition of the word scientist.
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Effect on the APS position: none. None at all. This is not science; other forces are at work.
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This scheming at APS HQ is so bizarre that there cannot be a simple explanation for it. Some have held that the physicists of today are not as smart as they used to be, but I don’t think that is an issue. I think it is the money, exactly what Eisenhower warned about a half-century ago. There are indeed trillions of dollars involved, to say nothing of the fame and glory (and frequent trips to exotic islands) that go with being a member of the club. Your own Physics Department (of which you are chairman) would lose millions a year if the global warming bubble burst.
--
Since I am no philosopher, I’m not going to explore at just which point enlightened self-interest crosses the line into corruption, but a careful reading of the ClimateGate releases makes it clear that this is not an academic question.

I want no part of it, so please accept my resignation.

It has never ceased to amaze how so-called scientists fail to look their own self-interested motives when they shutdown debate particularly on this issue.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:41 AM | Permalink

October 6, 2010

"Sonic Effluence"

They were sold on the idea of wind energy, but never told how loud it was, the New York Times reports

For Those Near, the Miserable Hum of Clean Energy

VINALHAVEN, Me. — Like nearly all of the residents on this island in Penobscot Bay, Art Lindgren and his wife, Cheryl, celebrated the arrival of three giant wind turbines late last year. That was before they were turned on.

Residents living less than a mile from the $15 million wind facility in Vinalhaven, Me., say the industrial whoosh-and-whoop of the 123-foot blades is making life unbearable.
Related

“In the first 10 minutes, our jaws dropped to the ground,” Mr. Lindgren said. “Nobody in the area could believe it. They were so loud.”

Now, the Lindgrens, along with a dozen or so neighbors living less than a mile from the $15 million wind facility here, say the industrial whoosh-and-whoop of the 123-foot blades is making life in this otherwise tranquil corner of the island unbearable.
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Vinalhaven’s wind farm enjoys support among most residents, from ardent supporters of all clean energy to those who simply say the turbines have reduced their power bills.
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But that is cold comfort for Mrs. Lindgren and her neighbors, who say their corner of the island will never be the same.

“I remember the sound of silence so palpable, so merciless in its depths, that you could almost feel your heart stop in sympathy,” she said. “Now we are prisoners of sonic effluence. I grieve for the past.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:10 AM | Permalink

October 5, 2010

No to Internet voting

I don't trust internet voting at all.  This proves my instincts right.

Hacker infiltration ends D.C. online voting trial

Last week, the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics opened a new Internet-based voting system for a weeklong test period, inviting computer experts from all corners to prod its vulnerabilities in the spirit of "give it your best shot." Well, the hackers gave it their best shot -- and midday Friday, the trial period was suspended, with the board citing "usability issues brought to our attention."

Here's one of those issues: After casting a vote, according to test observers, the Web site played "Hail to the Victors" -- the University of Michigan fight song.

"The integrity of the system had been violated," said Paul Stenbjorn, the board's chief technology officer.
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The fight song is a symptom of deeper vulnerabilities, says Jeremy Epstein, a computer scientist working with the Common Cause good-government nonprofit on online voting issues. "In order to do that, they had to be able to change anything they wanted on the Web site," Epstein said.

Because of the hack, Stenbjorn said Monday, a portion of the Internet voting pilot -- which was expected to be rolled out this month -- is being temporarily scrapped.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:46 PM | Permalink

October 2, 2010

In the name of equality

Britain enacts PC equality law which means ANYONE can sue for ANYTHING that offends them

New equality laws could spell the end of the office joke in Britain.

The legislation, championed by Labour’s deputy leader Harriet Harman, introduces a bewildering range of rights which allow staff to sue for almost any perceived offence they receive in the workplace.

It creates the controversial legal concept of ‘third party harassment’, under which workers will be able to sue over jokes and banter they find offensive – even if the comments are aimed at someone else and they weren’t there at the time the comments were made.

They can sue if they feel the comments ‘violate their dignity’ or create an ‘intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment’.

A one-off incident is enough to sue – there is no need for the ‘victim’ to have warned the perpetrator that their comments are unwelcome.

They could even have a case against their employer if a customer or contractor says something they find offensive.

The problem with a big government is that people in it  believe they should always be making new laws, even insane ones like this.  The only people who will benefit from this absurd law are lawyers

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:29 PM | Permalink

October 1, 2010

No Pressure is a repellent eco-video

James Delingpole calls it Eco-Fascism jumps the shark: massive, epic fail.

It is hard to describe how nauseating and loathsome the video No Pressure produced by Richard Curtis with funding from the British government is.    It's so bad I don't  want to embed it, but you can see it at the link.

Ostensibly the video is supposed to encourage people to reduce their carbon footprints, but unwittingly, it reveals the fascist underbelly of the green movement.  The video blows up every one, including school children, who won't go along with the campaign into bloody pulp.

As Delingpole writes, 'Go green or we'll kill your kids' says Richard Curtis eco-propaganda shocker. 

Richard Curtis, I salute you! You have just released a video which has entered history as the most emetic, ugly, counterproductive eco-propaganda movie ever made.

The Anchoress calls them "a repellent bunch of people with sick, twisted minds."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:49 PM | Permalink

September 30, 2010

Nincompoops?

"The absence of technology" seems to confuse kids faced with simple mechanical tasks.

Are we raising a generation of nincompoops?

Second-graders who can't tie shoes or zip jackets. Four-year-olds in Pull-Ups diapers. Five-year-olds in strollers. Teens and preteens befuddled by can openers and ice-cube trays. College kids who've never done laundry, taken a bus alone or addressed an envelope.


Are we raising a generation of nincompoops? And do we have only ourselves to blame? Or are some of these things simply the result of kids growing up with push-button technology in an era when mechanical devices are gradually being replaced by electronics?
Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:47 AM | Permalink

September 27, 2010

Strange doings around nuclear plants

Strange doings seem to happen around nuclear plants and missiles that result in their disabling.

Today at the National Press Club, one ex-US air force chief gives this astonishing account of an encounter with a UFO:

'We saw a bright glowing object like an eye': U.S. airman's startling testimony about UFO encounter near UK nuclear base.

At least a dozen former U.S. Air Force personnel, mainly officers who worked on secret projects connected to nuclear weapon sites, testified today at the National Press Club about strange encounters at those sites.  Watch Captain Robert Salas on this news clip testify how a UFO shut down the nuclear missiles on his base.

According to the pair, witness testimony from more than 120 former or retired military personnel points to an ongoing and alarming intervention by unidentified aerial objects at nuclear weapons sites, as recently as 2003. In some cases, several nuclear missiles simultaneously and inexplicably malfunctioned while a disc-shaped object silently hovered nearby. 

"I was on duty when an object came over and hovered directly over the site," Salas said, regarding the March 16, 1967, event at Malmstrom AFB in Montana. "The missiles shut down, 10 Minuteman missiles. And the same thing happened at another site a week later," he said.

At the same time, a powerful computer worm called Suxnet has attacked industrial facilities around the world including  nuclear sites in Iran

Symantec’s analysis of the code, O Murchu said, shows that nearly 60 percent of the computers infected with Stuxnet are in Iran. An additional 18 percent are in Indonesia. Less than 2 percent are in the U.S.

“This would not be easy for a normal group to put together,” said O Murchu. He said “it was either a well-funded private entity“ or it ”was a government agency or state sponsored project” created by people familiar with industrial control systems.

Roger L. Simon writes about the Cyber War ion Iran: the Siemens Connection

Yesterday, I wrote some preliminary words about this highly sophisticated attack by the so-called “Stuxnet” worm; today we learn the startling news the Iranians themselves have admitted that something serious has happened. Such admissions are certainly not common from the secretive state. From Asia Bizz:

The Iranian Ministry has stated that some 30000 industrial computers have been infected by Stuxnet. One of the main operations done by Stuxnet is that it extracts vital information from these systems and then sends it somewhere abroad. Iran has termed this virus as a spy virus, as it is deploying vital data to other countries. On the other hand it is said, a similar attack has been reported from Iran’s latest nuclear power plant facility, but these reports have not yet been confirmed.

Three-thousand industrial computers … what industries and how extensive the damage is Iran isn’t saying. But we can hazard the guess that most of it is militarily related. Besides the ability to send information abroad, “Stuxnet” is reportedly able to commandeer computers and direct them to destroy what they are managing. If true, this changes the face of warfare.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:53 PM | Permalink

September 10, 2010

Greece's version of the Tea Party

No one is better than Michael Lewis on the opaque, bizarre and terrifying world of global finance. 

Wall Street on the Tundra was the story of Iceland's de facto bankruptcy and how a "Well-educated, historically rational human beings committed one of the single greatest acts of madness in financial history."

Now he turns to Greece in Beware of Greeks Bearing Bonds. As the lead-in describes:

the author heads for riot-stricken Athens, and for the mysterious Vatopaidi monastery, which brought down the last government, laying bare the country’s economic insanity. But beyond a $1.2 trillion debt (roughly a quarter-million dollars for each working adult), there is a more frightening deficit. After systematically looting their own treasury, in a breathtaking binge of tax evasion, bribery, and creative accounting spurred on by Goldman Sachs, Greeks are sure of one thing: they can’t trust their fellow Greeks.

In Athens, I several times had a feeling new to me as a journalist: a complete lack of interest in what was obviously shocking material. I’d sit down with someone who knew the inner workings of the Greek government: a big-time banker, a tax collector, a deputy finance minister, a former M.P. I’d take out my notepad and start writing down the stories that spilled out of them. Scandal after scandal poured forth. Twenty minutes into it I’d lose interest. There were simply too many: they could fill libraries, never mind a magazine article.

The Greek state was not just corrupt but also corrupting. Once you saw how it worked you could understand a phenomenon which otherwise made no sense at all: the difficulty Greek people have saying a kind word about one another. Individual Greeks are delightful: funny, warm, smart, and good company. I left two dozen interviews saying to myself, “What great people!” They do not share the sentiment about one another: the hardest thing to do in Greece is to get one Greek to compliment another behind his back. No success of any kind is regarded without suspicion. Everyone is pretty sure everyone is cheating on his taxes, or bribing politicians, or taking bribes, or lying about the value of his real estate. And this total absence of faith in one another is self-reinforcing. The epidemic of lying and cheating and stealing makes any sort of civic life impossible; the collapse of civic life only encourages more lying, cheating, and stealing. Lacking faith in one another, they fall back on themselves and their families.
--
Here is Greece’s version of the Tea Party: tax collectors on the take, public-school teachers who don’t really teach, well-paid employees of bankrupt state railroads whose trains never run on time, state hospital workers bribed to buy overpriced supplies. Here they are, and here we are: a nation of people looking for anyone to blame but themselves.
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There’s no question that the government is resolved to at least try to re-create Greek civic life. The only question is: Can such a thing, once lost, ever be re-created?
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:35 AM | Permalink

September 4, 2010

Mexican cartels control movement in southern Arizona

Will this report stir any one in Washington to defend the territorial integrity of our country?

Arizona Sheriff Says Mexican Cartels Now Control Some Parts of the State

The Washington Times reports that the state of Arizona has essentially ceded parts of the southern border to Mexican drug cartels in what — we hope — is a tactical retreat:

The federal government has posted signs along a major interstate highway in Arizona, more than 100 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border, warning travelers the area is unsafe because of drug and alien smugglers, and a local sheriff says Mexican drug cartels now control some parts of the state.

The signs were posted by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) along a 60-mile stretch of Interstate 8 between Casa Grande and Gila Bend, a major east-west corridor linking Tucson and Phoenix with San Diego.

They warn travelers that they are entering an “active drug and human smuggling area” and they may encounter “armed criminals and smuggling vehicles traveling at high rates of speed.” Beginning less than 50 miles south of Phoenix, the signs encourage travelers to “use public lands north of Interstate 8″ and to call 911 if they “see suspicious activity.”

Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu, whose county lies at the center of major drug and alien smuggling routes to Phoenix and cities east and west, attests to the violence. He said his deputies are outmanned and outgunned by drug traffickers in the rough-hewn desert stretches of his own county.

Mexican drug cartels literally do control parts of Arizona,” he said. “They literally have scouts on the high points in the mountains and in the hills and they literally control movement. They have radios, they have optics, they have night-vision goggles as good as anything law enforcement has.


Daniel Foster who posted the above piece refers to another written by  Deroy Murdock in July,
Bullets across the U.S / Mexican border.

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American citizens, therefore, are supposed to steer clear of a section of our nation from I-8 to the Mexican border. Brewer campaign spokesman Doug Cole outlined this area for me on a map. He says it runs from this sign’s location — about 12 miles east of Gila Bend — to Casa Grande, and then due south from both of those points to the frontier. By my calculation, these lines in the sand define a trapezoid that covers roughly 3,600 square miles. In other words, the Obama administration has deemed that a region larger than Delaware and Rhode Island, combined, is too treacherous for Americans to visit.

“Ceding that enormous portion of the United States to the bad guys basically is the federal government saying, ‘We don’t have control of our own territory. You’re on your own. Good luck!’” says Cole. This would be bad enough if the no-go zone were just inside the frontier. In fact, it stretches some 80 miles north of the border, and, as Governor Brewer points out, the area includes “important natural recreational destinations.” She adds: “Signs do not protect our border. Let’s protect Americans, not just warn them.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:55 PM | Permalink

August 26, 2010

Are you losing control of your digital selves?

What's online can hurt you as many job applicants have found to their dismay.

Remember the New York Times Magazine piece from a few weeks ago? The Web Means the End of Forgetting.

When historians of the future look back on the perils of the early digital age, Stacy Snyder may well be an icon. The problem she faced is only one example of a challenge that, in big and small ways, is confronting millions of people around the globe: how best to live our lives in a world where the Internet records everything and forgets nothing — where every online photo, status update, Twitter post and blog entry by and about us can be stored forever. With Web sites like LOL Facebook Moments, which collects and shares embarrassing personal revelations from Facebook users, ill-advised photos and online chatter are coming back to haunt people months or years after the fact.

In a recent book, “Delete: The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age,” the cyberscholar Viktor Mayer-Schönberger cites Stacy Snyder’s case as a reminder of the importance of “societal forgetting.” By “erasing external memories,” he says in the book, “our society accepts that human beings evolve over time, that we have the capacity to learn from past experiences and adjust our behavior.” In traditional societies, where missteps are observed but not necessarily recorded, the limits of human memory ensure that people’s sins are eventually forgotten. By contrast, Mayer-Schönberger notes, a society in which everything is recorded “will forever tether us to all our past actions, making it impossible, in practice, to escape them.” He concludes that “without some form of forgetting, forgiving becomes a difficult undertaking.”

Luckily a few entrepreneurs have seized the opportunity to fill a need that was unimaginable thirty years ago.

For a fee, digital dirt can be buried

Michael Fertik knows all about how online searches can damage reputations. The 2005 Harvard Law School graduate founded ReputationDefender four years ago because he didn’t like how young people’s online behavior could be permanently recorded on the Internet and haunt them later.

For a fee that ranges between $10 a month and $1,000 a year, the Redwood City, Calif.-based company works to counteract negative reviews, comments, or blog entries for clients.

“People were losing control of their digital selves, and there was something fundamentally un-American about that,’’ said Fertik, 31. “I don’t think the random product of a Google machine needs to define your life.’’

The company promotes more “positive factual’’ or “neutral news’’ by using multiple profile pages and social media links so that they will surface higher on search results.

ReputationDefender, the foremost company in the growing field, recently raised $15 million in new venture capital.


Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:34 PM | Permalink

August 18, 2010

Many will have to change their names

These remarks by Google CEO Eric Schmidt do not boost confidence.

Young will have to change names to escape 'cyber past' warns Google's Eric Schmidt

_google-schmidt.jpg

The private lives of young people are now so well documented on the internet that many will have to change their names on reaching adulthood, Google’s CEO has claimed.

"I don't believe society understands what happens when everything is available, knowable and recorded by everyone all the time," Mr Schmidt told the Wall Street Journal in an
interview.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:27 PM | Permalink

March 6, 2010

Gendercide

The Economist on The worldwide war on baby girls

In January 2010 the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) showed what can happen to a country when girl babies don’t count. Within ten years, the academy said, one in five young men would be unable to find a bride because of the dearth of young women—a figure unprecedented in a country at peace.

The number is based on the sexual discrepancy among people aged 19 and below. According to CASS, China in 2020 will have 30m-40m more men of this age than young women. For comparison, there are 23m boys below the age of 20 in Germany, France and Britain combined and around 40m American boys and young men. So within ten years, China faces the prospect of having the equivalent of the whole young male population of America, or almost twice that of Europe’s three largest countries, with little prospect of marriage, untethered to a home of their own and without the stake in society that marriage and children provide.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:53 AM | Permalink

January 11, 2010

Brave New World vs. Nineteen Eighty Four

1984 is long gone, we live in the Brave New World.  Aldous Huxley wrote the far more prescient and prophetic Brave New World fifteen years before George Orwell wrote his.

If you ever had any confusion about the differences between the two, check out  Brave New World vs. Nineteen Eighty Four  through the talented work of Stuart McMillen.

  Orwell V Huxley

Remembering Brave New World which I read for the first time last year, I was reminded of this piece by Mark Steyn on Sexual Liberty

In terms of sexual identity, we’re freer than almost any society in human history, at least in terms of official validation of our choice to “redefine” ourselves in defiance of biological and physiological reality.
--

At some point we will come to see that the developed world’s massive expansion of personal sexual liberty has provided a useful cover for the shrivelling of almost every other kind. Free speech, property rights, economic liberty and the right to self-defence are under continuous assault by Big Government. But who cares when Big Government lets you shag anything that moves and every city in North America hosts a grand parade to celebrate your right to do so? It’s an oddly reductive notion of individual liberty. The noisier grow the novelties of our ever more banal individualism, the more the overall societal aesthetic seems drearily homogenized—like closing time in a karaoke bar with the last sad drunks bellowing off the prompter “I did it My Way!”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:49 PM | Permalink

December 24, 2009

An Arabic Christmas Carol

This Byzantine Hymn of the Nativity is one of the most beautiful Christmas carols I've ever heard.

But I listen to this wonderful video with sadness.  Christians in Iraq have canceled services and cautioned worshipers to keep their celebrations private.

ldean bishop of Basra, Imad al-Banna, is asking Christians "not to display their joy, not to publicly celebrate the feast of Nativity" to avoid offending Iraq's Shiite community, whose Ashura holiday falls two days after Christmas this year.

According to Louis Sako, chief archbishop of Kirkuk for the Chaldean Christians, a Catholic sect that originated in Iraq, none of the northern archdiocese's nine churches has scheduled a Christmas Mass this year.

"This is the first time we have had to cancel our celebrations," he said.

Since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, Iraq's Christian minority has faced constant persecution, including dozens of church bombings, executions, kidnappings and forced expulsions, devastating some communities and reducing the overall Christian population by at least 25 percent.

All I can do is pray for the poor beleaguered Christians in the country we 'liberated'

"We have taken our security procedures to protect the Christians in their celebrations in the city," said Lt. Col. Jima'ah Aldliamee, a police commander in Anbar province.

"They promised to protect us in the past, but so far they have not succeeded," said Georges Matti, an employee of the state-owned North Oil. "We are the victims of political conflicts between various Iraqi groups or at the hands of some religious extremists who believe that because we are Christians, we are lackeys of the West."

"Psychologically, we cannot have a celebration," said Qais Aboudi, a 56-year-old carpenter and member of a Baghdad Chaldean parish. "But we cannot deny we are Christians. It is our religion, and we are proud of it."

"I'm fed up. I've been speaking with the press for seven years. I have no comment," said Ahad, the Syrian Catholic pastor. "I've been asking the Iraqi government, asking the Americans, and no one has helped us.

"I used to celebrate Christmas with many people, with joy, with visits, with guests," said the pastor at the Virgin Mary church. "Now I am staying here alone. We are living like rats."

All I can hope for these people is the Christmas message: Peace on Earth, Good Will towards Men,

UPDATE: Phyllis Chesler asks whether Jesus Could Live Safely in Bethlehem Today.  However helpless the Jews were under the brutal Roman empire and not forgetting the Holy Family had to flee to Egypt to escape the murderous rage of Herod, Christians today under Muslim rule are not even allowed to worship in their own churches.

Even in America, in Ohio  a young Christian girl is persecuted by her family and completely isolated from other Christians, even from Christmas cards sent her by those who have followed her plight.  The Prosecution of Rifqa Barry

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:01 PM | Permalink

December 1, 2009

"'Peer Review' Climate Style"

Peer review among the global warmists. 

Mark Steyn on CRU's Tree-Ring Circus

The trouble with outsourcing your marbles to the peer-reviewed set is that, if you take away one single thing from the leaked documents, it’s that the global warm-mongers have wholly corrupted the “peer-review” process. When it comes to promoting the impending ecopalypse, the Climate Research Unit is the nerve-center of the operation. The “science” of the CRU dominates the “science” behind the UN’s IPCC, which dominates the “science” behind the Congressional cap-and-trade boondoggle, the upcoming Copenhagen shakindownen of the developed world, and the now routine phenomenon of leaders of advanced, prosperous societies talking like gibbering madmen escaped from the padded cell, whether it’s President Obama promising to end the rise of the oceans or the Prince of Wales saying we only have 96 months left to save the planet.

But don’t worry, it’s all “peer-reviewed.”

Here’s what Phil Jones of the CRU and his colleague Michael Mann of Penn State mean by “peer review.” When Climate Research published a paper dissenting from the Jones-Mann “consensus,” J
ones demanded that the journal “rid itself of this troublesome editor,” and Mann advised that “we have to stop considering Climate Research as a legitimate peer-reviewed journal. Perhaps we should encourage our colleagues in the climate research community to no longer submit to, or cite papers.”

So much for Climate Research. When Geophysical Research Letters also showed signs of wandering off the “consensus” reservation, Dr. Tom Wigley (“one of the world’s foremost experts on climate change”) suggested they get the goods on its editor, Jim Saiers, and go to his bosses at the American Geophysical Union to
“get him ousted.” When another pair of troublesome dissenters emerge, Dr. Jones assured Dr. Mann, “I can’t see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report. Kevin and I will keep them out somehow — even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!”

Which in essence is what they did. The more frantically they talked up “peer review” as the only legitimate basis for criticism, the more assiduously they turned the process into what James Lewis calls the Chicago machine politics of international science. The headline in the Wall Street Journal Europe is unimproveable: “How To Forge A Consensus.” Pressuring publishers, firing editors, blacklisting scientists: That’s “peer review,” climate-style.

No archiving.  No data sharing.  No objective evaluation of the speculative theory of global warming allowed.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:35 AM | Permalink

November 23, 2009

Global Warming Scientific Fraud

Philip Jones is a climatologist at the University of East Anglia which maintains the "instrumental temperature record" on which much of global warming theory depends.  He is director of the Climate Research Unit (CRU).

A couple of days ago, a hacker broke into that CRU  and released 61 megabites of confidential files onto the internet.

James Delingpole calls it  Climategate and asks whether it's  the final nail in the coffin of 'Anthropogenic Global Warming'?

When you read some of those files – including 1079 emails and 72 documents – you realise just why the boffins at Hadley CRU might have preferred to keep them confidential. As Andrew Bolt puts it, this scandal could well be “the greatest in modern science”. These alleged emails – supposedly exchanged by some of the most prominent scientists pushing AGW theory – suggest:

Conspiracy, collusion in exaggerating warming data, possibly illegal destruction of embarrassing information, organised resistance to disclosure, manipulation of data, private admissions of flaws in their public claims and much more.
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But perhaps the most damaging revelations  – the scientific equivalent of the Telegraph’s MPs’ expenses scandal – are those concerning the way
Warmist scientists may variously have manipulated or suppressed evidence in order to support their cause.

Delingpole summarizes: they  manipulated evidence, had private doubts whether the world really is heating up, suppressed evidence, had fantasies of violence against climate sceptic scientists and discussed how best to squeeze dissenting scientists out of the peer review process.

Remember this when people argue the science is settled. 

Andrew Bolt excerpts the most damning of Professor Jones's emails.

Nigel Lawson in The London Times, Copenhagen will fail - and quite right too

Astonishingly, what appears, at least at first blush, to have emerged is that (a) the scientists have been manipulating the raw temperature figures to show a relentlessly rising global warming trend; (b) they have consistently refused outsiders access to the raw data; (c) the scientists have been trying to avoid freedom of information requests; and (d) they have been discussing ways to prevent papers by dissenting scientists being published in learned journals.

There may be a perfectly innocent explanation. But what is clear is that
the integrity of the scientific evidence on which not merely the British Government, but other countries, too, through the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, claim to base far-reaching and hugely expensive policy decisions, has been called into question. And the reputation of British science has been seriously tarnished. A high-level independent inquiry must be set up without delay.

The Founder of the Weather Channel and 30,000 other scientists wanting to sue Al Gore for Global Warming Fraud

It's about time since for years  global warming scientists have been unwilling to debate the skeptics.  Instead they insisted the science was settled, the consensus was overwhelming and called skeptics the equivalent of Holocaust deniers.

When faced with fraud charges, they will be forced to defend their claims, reveal their evidence and submit to cross-examination. 

Christopher Booker, The Obsession With 'Climate Change' Turning Out To Be The Most Costly Scientific Blunder In History

the most notorious example of this was the so-called 'hockey stick' graph, which for years was brandished to show that, after flat-lining for 1,000 years, global temperatures had suddenly soared upwards in the late 20th century to levels never known before in recorded history.

The hockey stick was used by the IPCC and Gore as the supreme icon of their cause. Then, two statisticians revealed that the graph had been created by a computer model programmed to produce hockey stick shapes whatever data were fed into it.

Before it is too late, we must insist our politicians re- examine the increasingly shaky scientific case on which all those proposals are based.
-.
No one has put this better than Professor Lindzen, one of the world's leading climatologists, when he wrote:
'Future generations will wonder in bemused amazement that the early 21st-century's developed world went into hysterical panic over a globally average temperature increase of a few tenths of a degree, and on the basis of gross exaggerations of highly uncertain computer projections contemplated a roll-back of the industrial age.'

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:45 AM | Permalink

November 2, 2009

Truth, not perception, corresponds to reality. Why is is so hard to find?

Richard Fernandez writes one of the best essays of the year that begins with a mother's lament over the BBC's cocaine culture.

Bows and Flows

Why have we become so indifferent to counterfeits? So willing to accept the clever facsimile for the ostensibly real? In part because perceptions are now such a big part of the economy that for so long as perceptions appear to be OK, then the economy must be ‘OK’.  In recent years management literature has talked extensively about the “servitization of the products” The modern economy no longer produces “things”. It produces intangibles called services. Insurance, banking, government, tourism, retail, education, social services, franchising, news media, hospitality, consulting, law, health care, environmental services, real estate and personal services now dominate the activity of the Western world. We produce satisfaction.

Perhaps the key difference between an economy based on things relative to that based on services is that the “truth” of things is self-evident while the value of services is often based on perception. Perception is often the proxy for value in a service economy. Indeed it often comprises the value itself, at least in the entertainment industry and possibly in news. It immediately follows that in a huge market for intangibles where “children’s programs”, sporting events, entertainment, academic degrees, derivatives, mortgages, ‘health care’, news and environmental indulgences are traded for vast sums telling the unflattering truth can be extremely costly. Stay away from the truth unless you absolutely positively have to.

In a market for fantasy the truth has little or no value.
--
One of problems economists should study is what happens when the overall truth content of a servitized economy declines. Whereas the “truth” of a ton of steel is the steel itself, what is the truth of a bundled subprime mortgage? What is the truth content of a credit default swap? Perhaps we don’t know, and this circumstance has directly led to the current economic crisis. The financial meltdown is from a certain point of view, a pure crisis of information. What we don’t know (or better yet what we do know but ain’t so) is hurting us.
--
Bad information destroys. We need to be free of bad information. Perhaps the underlying reason for the large and seemingly growing crisis in the Western World is that its truth reserves — the percentage of its information store that actually corresponds to reality — have fallen below a critical level and its institutions are attempting to cover the deficit by frantically printing more lies. Maybe the reason why finance, politics, news, real estate and environmental services are in dire such straits is that they among the service industries have the biggest portfolio of defective information. And it’s killing them. While there may be a tendency in the service economy to increase the amount of spin for short term gain in the long run survival depends on its minimization.
We have to know where we are, if we are to avoid getting lost.

The way to the truth is to take the shortest path back to reality.

I've been pondering for a while now why truth matters so little to many people. 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:52 AM | Permalink

October 18, 2009

Relax, the world won't end in 2012

How many times have you heard people say in all seriousness that the world will end in 2012 and point to the fact that the Mayan calendar ends in that year as proof?

Soon a Hollywood film is coming - 2012 - about the end of the world that has all sorts of earthquakes, buildings toppling down, meteors and tsuanamis.  The trailer for the movie is so over the top, I laughed out loud. 

But too many are really terrified

At Cornell University, Ann Martin, who runs the "Curious? Ask an Astronomer" Web site, says people are scared.

"It's too bad that we're getting e-mails from fourth-graders who are saying that they're too young to die," Martin said. "We had a mother of two young children who was afraid she wouldn't live to see them grow up."

The Mayans have had enough.    2012 isn't the end of the world, Mayans insist.

I came back from England last year and, man, they had me fed up with this stuff."
--

"If I went to some Mayan-speaking communities and asked people what is going to happen in 2012, they wouldn't have any idea," said Jose Huchim, a Yucatan Mayan archaeologist. "That the world is going to end? They wouldn't believe you. We have real concerns these days, like rain."
--
Doomsday theories come from Westerners not from the Mayans.    Gifted Mayan astronomers mapped out out a "Long Count" calendar from 3114 B.C. to roughly 4772

marking time in roughly 394-year periods known as Baktuns. Thirteen was a significant, sacred number for the Mayas, and the 13th Baktun ends around Dec. 21, 2012.

"It's a special anniversary of creation," said David Stuart, a specialist in Mayan epigraphy at the University of Texas at Austin. "The Maya never said the world is going to end, they never said anything bad would happen necessarily, they're just recording this future anniversary on Monument Six.

Now Scientists try to calm '2012' hysteria.    They are so concerned about the level of fear, they are speaking out.

"Two years ago, I got a question a week about it," said NASA scientist David Morrison, who hosts a website called Ask an Astrobiologist. "Now I'm getting a dozen a day. Two teenagers said they didn't want to see the end of the world so they were thinking of ending their lives."

--
According to Rosemary Joyce, a professor of anthropology at UC Berkeley, the Maya never predicted anything. The 2012 date is approximately when the ancient calendar would roll over, like the odometer on a car; it did not mean the end -- merely the start of a new cycle.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:09 PM | Permalink

September 28, 2009

Busted for babysitting

When you can't look after your neighbor's child, then the nanny state has gone way too far.

In England, a policewoman was banned from looking after her colleague’s daughter because she was not a registered childminder.

The Thames Valley Police detectives – who gave birth within a few months of each other – share a job at Aylesbury Police Station in Buckinghamshire.

But the mothers, both 32, have now been told by Ofsted that surveillance teams will spy on their homes to make sure they are not continuing to care for each other’s daughter.

For the past two-and-a-half years, one looked after both of the girls while the other worked a ten-hour shift. Both worked
two days a week.

In Michigan, a woman was threatened with fines for watching neighbors' kids and possibly jail time as well for operating an illegal child care home.

Lisa Snyder of Middleville says her neighborhood school bus stop is right in front of her home. It arrives after her neighbors need to be at work, so she watches three of their children for 15-40 minutes until the bus comes.
--
"It's ridiculous." says Snyder. "We are friends helping friends!" She added that she accepts no money for babysitting.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:26 AM | Permalink

August 5, 2009

The Stupidity of Hate Crime Laws

Last week, 89-year-old James von Brunn was indicted for murder, gun law violations and hate crimes for opening fire at the Holocaust Memorial Museum and killing a guard.

Richard Cohen in The Washington Post on The Folly of Hate-Crime Laws

The real purpose of hate-crime laws is to reassure politically significant groups -- blacks, Hispanics, Jews, gays, etc. -- that someone cares about them and takes their fears seriously. That's nice. It does not change the fact, though, that what's being punished is thought or speech. Johns is dead no matter what von Brunn believes. The penalty for murder is severe, so it's not as if the crime is not being punished. The added "late hit" of a hate crime is without any real consequence, except as a precedent for the punishment of belief or speech. Slippery slopes are supposedly all around us, I know, but this one is the real McCoy.
--

For the most part, hate-crime legislation is just a sop for politically influential interest groups -- yet another area in which liberals, traditionally sensitive to civil liberties issues, have chosen to mollify an entire population at the expense of the individual and endorse discredited reasoning about deterrence.

In von Brunn's case, the hate-crime counts are an obscenity. To suggest that the effects of this attack were felt only by the Jewish or the black communities -- and not, for instance, by your average Washington tourist -- ghettoizes both its real and purported victims. It's a consequence that von Brunn himself might applaud.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:17 PM | Permalink

No children's books printed before 1985 allowed to be distributed

This sounds like the soft totalitarian or at best bureaucratic version of book burning.

Book Dealers Told to Get the Lead Out

Legislation passed by Congress last August in response to fears of lead-tainted toys imported from China became effective last month.

Under it there is a ban on distributing children's books printed before 1985
--

Lead was phased out of printer's ink following the 1978 paint ban; lacking a firm date for when it effectively disappeared, the safety commission has ruled that the toxic metal might be found in any book printed before 1985.
-
Implementation of the new law has libraries and secondhand bookstores reeling. Although they could pay to have each old book tested, the cost ($300 to $600 a book,  according to the American Library Association) makes that impractical.
--
The commission has advised libraries not to circulate old books while the agency reviews the situation. But few libraries have complied, and they complain that they have received contradictory information from the commission.

"We're talking about tens of millions of books," said Emily Sheketoff, executive director of the Washington office of the American Library Association. "You've got the commission playing games with the libraries.


The legislation is the Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act of CPSIA

Here's a site that explains the law and a blog that tracks efforts to amend the law.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:12 PM | Permalink

August 1, 2009

Harvard Trademarks

Harvard University is facing its worst financial crisis in its 373-year history and Vanity Fair tells the story of Rich Harvard, Poor Harvard

Looking to cut costs, Harvard is cutting out the free coffee at the Baker Center.  Looking to squeeze its assets for all they are worth, Harvard University has filed trademarks claiming rights to some common phrases From the familiar to the mundane:

"Ask what you can do.’’


Used by Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government to tout everything from the school’s emphasis on public service to its fund-raising efforts.

“Lessons learned.’’

The title of a book series about innovation, leadership and conflict.

“Memo to the CEO.’’

Refers to a business school blog and series of guides.

"Power of ideas at work"

Harvard Business School Publishing slogan.

"The world's thinking"

application pending

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:52 AM | Permalink

July 31, 2009

“We don't want welfare, we want water.”

It is unbelievable to watch what is happening in California.  In terms of unemployment, the hardest hit state is California and the hardest hit county in California is Fresno with a jobless rate reaching 40% in some towns.

There's been a three year drought, the farmers in the most productive valley in the world are really hurting, the government controls the water and they are not giving any to the farmers.

It's all going to the delta smelt.

Delta Smelt California

Gone, Gone, Gone

This is not a story about fish. Rather, it is a story about how efforts to save the fish through a court-ordered water shortage have pushed a region already brought to the brink by recession over the edge.

It is also a story about how farmers are fighting back, using almost unimaginable stories of economic hardship to argue for a reversal of environmental rules that could see their farms thrive once again, but also endanger wildlife that may never come back.
--
Last December, fresh restrictions meant to protect the fish were imposed, effectively shutting down the spigots and starving the Central Valley farmers of water.

Those in Fresno County saw their monthly allotments evaporate, virtually overnight. Here's how Mr. Allen recalls it: “When it came time to get my initial water allocation in January, we were told it would be zero. In February, my heart was pounding. Zero again. March, same thing. April, zero.” By that point, most of his crop of winter wheat had already withered and died.
--
Today, Interstate 5, the highway that slices through the San Joaquin Valley, is flanked by parched fields. Signs, in English and Spanish, proclaim: “Congress-created dustbowl” and “No water, No future” and “Like foreign oil? You'll love foreign food.”

The bitter irony that farm families in the region known as America's salad bowl are flocking to food giveaways at churches and community centres is lost on no one.

Without water, farmers have left an estimated 200,000 hectares of once-productive farmland fallow. Thousands of farm workers, mainly Spanish-speaking migrants, have been laid off.

Mr. Howitt estimates lost farm revenue in the San Joaquin Valley could top $2-billion this year and will suck as many as 80,000 jobs out of its already-battered economy.

The problem is the Endangered Species Act, which, unless you impacted, you have no idea how draconian it is.  The basic problem is there is no balancing of interests between animal and humans.  Once a species is declared endangered, it doesn't matter how much money it costs to 'save' the critter or what economic devastation it creates in the surrounding human community, the species must be saved.

Now the California water agency is changing its course on the delta smelt and petitioning the federal government to reconsider its protections for the delta smelt citing new information about another population of smelt that's not effected by the state water operation.

I'm all for protecting ecosystems and endangered species, but not at such an egregious human cost.

Like Todd Allen in How green was my valley

His farm, a million-dollar operation in good times, is 70-per-cent financed. He also owes money on three tractors, a $140,000 drip system, which is useless to him now, and his house.

“I've never been in a predicament like this … so, if I can survive this year, I can survive anything,” he says, blinking back tears.

When he began to farm full-time 20 years ago, he had a consistent water supply. He also had 10 employees and started with 600 hectares of cantaloupe, cotton and wheat.

This year, he has laid everyone off and is doing what little labour is left himself.


“You know, I am really scared for my family. I have two daughters and I thought I had a future going out here, and now I can't even sell this land because, without water, it is worthless,” he says.

“It seems like in this economy the government would look for quick fixes instead of throwing money at everything. All they have to do is turn the pumps on. The water is there.”
--
But most farmers here say they don't want a handout. At a town hall meeting in Fresno a few weeks ago, tempers flared as farmers flustered Interior Department officials by shouting: “We don't want welfare, we want water.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:05 PM | Permalink

July 20, 2009

"It's symbolic of our struggle against oppression"

All I could think of when I read that the Health Care Bill will direct the HHS secretary to develop "Standards for Measuring Gender" --As Opposed to 'Male' and 'Female' was Monty Python's The Life of Brian.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:56 PM | Permalink

July 17, 2009

Climate change fraud

James Lewis  who describes himself as a scientist by trade who carps as a hobby about the passing parade of human fraud and folly doesn't hold anything back in discussing the Climate Change Fraud

It is the Best of times and the Worst of Times for Science

Scientific skeptics have been there all along. Global warming was always a blatant concoction by normal scientific standards. Scientists I’ve talked to over the years are finally muttering it, in private. Some are looking ashamed. But very few are expressing real outrage at the fraudsters. Too many of them were either suckered  or corrupted by money, power, and simple cowardice.

--

The sciences are now like Russia after Glastnost: Everybody can see a massive disaster ahead, but nobody wants to say it out loud. We are in that moment of shocked silence just before the bare-naked emperor becomes a target of universal laughter and ridicule. Well, this emperor is buck naked, just like the fairy tale.

As I’ve talked with scientific colleagues in private, they are quietly nodding, yes, yes, of course it’s all BS. Pure model-driven fantasy. Really lousy, deceptive, and fraudulent selection of the data. A gigantic slap in the face for NASA. A thousand greedy grant swingers all over the world. The media chasing scare stories, and fake “scientists” chasing the media. They fed each other lie after lie after lie. It was a very profitable partnership.
--
Here’s a bit of truth. Scientists love money. It’s only corporate money that smells bad to them.
Government money smells like fresh-mown grass, green and lush. Even if they knew the whole game was a set-up, professors and college presidents went right along with it. Do you have any idea how much pressure college faculty are under to bring in grant money? The big universities get a big chunk of their budgets from “overhead expenses” — payoffs from Washington. Even undergraduate teaching is subsidized by science grants. So are grad students and faculty. In the end, professors don’t get tenure without bringing in a steady supply of money, and after tenure, the pressure only gets worse.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:56 PM | Permalink

ROAM the wild horses in the gelded age.

When I worked at the Department of Interior, one of the perennial issues was that of the wild horses.  They reproduced wildly and in their large numbers did extreme damage to rangeland - public, private and leased,  But since the public had such a romantic image of wild horses, they were never culled.  Instead, the faint hope was they would be adopted one by one.  What resulted was lawsuit after lawsuit against the government for the way they were managing the wild horses.

 Wild-Horses  Herd

But never in my wildest imagination, could I have dreamed up the legislation that just passed the House  - Restore Our American Mustangs Act or ROAM.

Mark Steyn takes it away in a do-not-miss piece  A symbol of the Old West meets the gelded age.

On Friday, the House passed the Restore Our American Mustangs Act – or ROAM. Like all acronymically cute legislation, its name bears little relation to what it actually does: It's not about "restoring" mustangs. The federal Bureau of Land Management aims for a manageable population of 27,000 wild mustangs. Currently, there are 36,000, and the population doubles every four or five years. To prevent things getting even more out of hand, the BLM keeps another 30,000 mustangs in holding pens – or, if you prefer, managed-care facilities. That's to say, under federal management, one in every two "wild" horses now lives in government housing.
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To facilitate the release of the tame "wild horse" population, the act adds to their present 33-million acre habitat (that's bigger than New York State) another 20 million acres – or approximately the size of Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont combined. The Congressional Budget Office estimates the total tab at around $700 million – ie, chump change. If you look for it in the line-item budget, it comes down at the bottom under "rounding error." It's a mere ten-and-a-half grand per mustang. If you're wondering why it costs more to keep a horse on 52 million acres of wilderness than it does to stable him at an upscale horse farm in New England, that's because, in order to prevent the mustang population doubling again by 2013 and requiring the annexation of another 50 million acres (i.e., an area the size of Ireland, Denmark, Belgium, and the Netherlands combined), the bill mandates "enhanced" contraception for horses and burros.
--

In 1971, the United States Congress recognized mustangs as "living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West." And surely nothing captures the essence of the "pioneer spirit" than living on welfare in a federal care facility while being showered with government contraceptives. Welcome to America in the gelded age.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:51 PM | Permalink

July 14, 2009

"The doctor made you in a dish"

Parents explain to their children how they came to be.  No Stork Involved but Mom and Dad Had Help.

Marla Culliton and her husband, Steven, of Swampscott, Mass., have 7-year-old twins, Jacob and Naomi. “When they were 4, I told them, ‘First you have to get married, then you have to have a nice house, then you can go to a doctor, and he can help you,’ ” said Mrs. Culliton, a dental hygienist. “At 5, they said, ‘How is the baby made?’ I said: ‘They come from a sperm and an egg. The doctor made you in a dish.’ ”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:46 AM | Permalink

July 13, 2009

Attack on Faith

Hal Colbatch, writing in the Australian, says

I WROTE here in April that Britain appears to be evolving into the first modern soft totalitarian state, but it seems I didn't know the half of it.

UK bill an attack on faith

The Catholic bishops of England and Wales have warned that religious schools and care homes could be forced to remove crucifixes, holy pictures or other religious symbols or icons from their walls in case they offend atheist or non-Catholic cleaners. Under the terms of the bill, Catholic institutions could be guilty of harassment if they display images offensive to non-Catholics.
--
Andrew Summersgill, the general secretary of the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales, says: "The practical consequences of this are that a Catholic care home, for example, may have crucifixes and holy pictures on the walls (that) reflect and support the beliefs of the residents. A cleaner may be an atheist or of very different religious beliefs. Nonetheless, if a cleaner found the crucifixes offensive, there would be no defence in law against a charge of harassment."

There is no test of reasonableness in the draft legislation; instead, the test is completely subjective.

"It is tailor-made for people to come up with objections because it puts the emphasis on the person being offended rather than on an objective test of what ought to be considered reasonable,

No surprise that this bill is largely the creation of the Harriet Harman, the Equality Minister, perhaps the most committed of left-wing social engineering activists

London priest Tim Finigan says: "For the government to promote this agenda in extreme form at a time when the political system is suffering unparalleled contempt and the far-right groups have their best opportunity for years is stupid beyond belief."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:24 AM | Permalink

June 30, 2009

McDo in Paris

How McDonald's Conquered France

In the battle for France, Jose Bové, the protester who vandalized a McDonald's in 1999 and was then running for president, proved to be no match for Le Big Mac....By 2007, France had become the second-most profitable market in the world for McDonald's, surpassed only by the land that gave the world fast food. Against McDonald's, Bové had lost in a landslide.
---

 Mcdo France

for a limited time with pepper sauce

McDonald's France was sourcing 75 percent of its ingredients domestically, and he felt it was imperative from a PR standpoint to force French farmers, hypocritically applauding Bové, to publicly acknowledge the large volume of business that they were doing with McDo.
--
They came, they ate, and they lingered. As Gravier artfully put it, "The French population uses McDonald's in a very French way; it is fast food, but not that fast."...Americans visited McDonald's more often than the French, at all hours of the day, frequently alone, and opted for takeout 70 percent of the time. The French spent more money per visit, came in groups more often than Americans, and did 70 percent of their eating during regular lunch and dinner hours. "We have a food culture in France; eating is not a feeding moment, it is a social moment," Gravier said.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:00 PM | Permalink

June 26, 2009

Just Beat It

Wow. The freedom fighters in Iran have adopted Michael Jackson's Beat It as a new theme song.


via Gateway Pundit

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:55 AM | Permalink

June 25, 2009

Financial Advisor Kidnapped and Tortured

No doubt a lot of people fantasized about this, but in Germany a group of wealthy pensioners actually did it.

Zimmer frame gang 'tortures advisor' who lost $4 million of their savings.

The pensioners, nicknamed the "Geritol Gang" by German police after an arthritis drug, face up to 15 years in jail if found guilty of subjecting German-American James Amburn to the alleged four-day ordeal.

Two of them are said to have hit him with a Zimmer frame outside his home ..before he was bound with duct tape, bundled into the boot of an Audi A8 and driven 300 mileso a home on the shores of a popular holiday lake in Bavaria.

During his alleged confinement in an unheated cellar, Mr Amburn, 56, claims he was burned with cigarettes, beaten, had two ribs broken, was hit with a chair leg and chained up "like an animal".

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:26 AM | Permalink

June 23, 2009

The Mullahs are Afraid of the Women

Since returning home after four days away sans  computer, I'm just catching up on all the news in Iran. 

What strikes me most of all is the participation of women in the protests.  For a long time, I've  believed that positive changes in the Mid East would come from the; they are the most oppressed and have the least to lose.

Under the burkas, chadors, and headscarves, we are seeing young women in jeans, wearing lipstick, with blond and frosted hair, who see their chance for real political change that would change their lives.  La Femme Zahra holding hands with her husband Mousavi, tells  crowds, "This is the moment to stand."

A young woman, shot to death is now the symbol of the protestors.  Neda is now  the 'Angel of Iran' and the 'Angel of Freedom'.  The mullahs are so afraid of women rising up, they shoot them.

 Neda Eyes

Women and the Iranian Unrest

Are the Ayatollahs learning that hell hath no fury like 34 million women scorned, forced out of the workplace, harassed and humiliated by religious police for three decades?  I have noticed some of the bravest protesters in Iran have been women, including a few who have been without headscarves and showing a great deal more of their figures than the regime would approve. Roger Cohen of the NY Times has noticed this, too.

.... Iran's women stand in the vanguard. For days now, I've seen them urging less courageous men on. I've seen them get beaten and return to the fray. "Why are you sitting there?" one shouted at a couple of men perched on the sidewalk on Saturday. "Get up! Get up!"

 Iranian Woman Upraised Fist

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More than 60 percent of Iran's university students are women, but women only make up perhaps 15 percent of the workforce.
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Women left alone with children after the death or desertion of a husband are particularly hard hit in a culture that openly discrimintes in employment. So are those in abusive relationships with fathers or husbands. One of Iran's dirty little secrets is how many women are forced into prostitution.  News stories from 2002 reported as many as 300,000 women were engaged in prostitution in greater Tehran. In an area with a population then estimated at 12 million that is close to 5% of the total female population.

 Iranian-Women 2

Iran and The Woman Question

Iranian-American journalist Roya Hakakian sat down with ForbesWoman to discuss her native country's current climate and the situation facing women--and men--in Iran today
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Iran has had a robust women's movement for several decades now. But in the late 1990s, a new generation took charge; and in the early 2000s, they managed to organize and unite in ways that women had not since the revolution in 1979. It started as petition movement to collect signatures to ban stoning women to death and has spun out to become the "One Million Signatures Campaign."
--
The feminist movement, which has been ongoing in Iran, has now joined the broader public movement against the regime.

So perhaps we shouldn't be surprised to learn that the Basij are targeting women, both young and old.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:21 PM | Permalink

June 17, 2009

"Family breakdown is now a national tragedy"

A brave man speaking the truth, Justice Coleridge

Only marriage can mend broken Britain, says top judge

Marriage should be promoted by the Government to end the 'social anarchy' of family breakdown, a senior judge said last night.

Mr Justice Coleridge accused mothers and fathers who fail to commit to each other of engaging in a game of 'pass the partner' that has left millions of children 'scarred for life'.

In a hard-hitting speech in Parliament, he called for a change of attitude that would attach a 'stigma' to those who destroy family life and said a National Commission should be established to devise solutions for the 'epidemic' of broken homes. --
Condemning the 'endless and futile quest for a perfect relationship', he said many parents were in 'a complete and uncontrolled free-for-all where being true to oneself and one's needs is the only yardstick for controlling behaviour'.

The London Telegraph publishes a column by the same Justice, Family breakdown is now a national tragedy

 Crying-Child

Recently, I was approached by the BBC, with a view to making a documentary about family breakdown. I suggested the researcher start by spending the day with me in court, to watch a run-of-the-mill High Court case. She was stunned into silence and remained speechless when I told her that within the Royal Courts of Justice, there were 20 or so other judges engaged in similar cases.

Across inner London, well over 100 family courts were dealing with family breakdown that day, in one guise or another. Multiply that across the rest of the country, and you get some feel for the scale of the epidemic.
--

I am not suggesting, of course, that all change is bad, or that all relationship breakdowns can be avoided. Genuinely intolerable relationships have to be ended with as little distress as possible. But I fear that the current state of the family represents change for the worse – and those most affected, the children, are not considered in the maelstrom that surrounds them

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:54 PM | Permalink

Glowing Rectangles

Glow-Rectangle

From the Onion

PALO ALTO, CA—A new report published this week by researchers at Stanford University suggests that Americans spend the vast majority of each day staring at, interacting with, and deriving satisfaction from glowing rectangles.
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According to the report, staring blankly at luminescent rectangles is an increasingly central part of modern life. At work, special information rectangles help men and women silently complete any number of business-related tasks, while entertainment rectangles—larger and louder and often placed inside the home—allow Americans to enter a relaxing trance-like state after a long day of rectangle-gazing.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:42 PM | Permalink

La Femme Zahra

David Warren, Zahra's Revolution

The recent election was not the cause, but the trigger, of what is suddenly happening on the streets.
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But Mousavi's proposed modest reforms could hardly have excited the students, or the masses following in their train.
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But, cherchez la femme! What made Mousavi the fuse for an explosive force was not himself, but his wife, Zahra Rahnavard. In the course of the election campaign, she ignored Islamist precedent, and took to the hustings on her husband's behalf. This tiny grandmother, wearing regulation chador, but with very loud scarves, has wandered around the country lighting fires.

 Zahra Rahnavard

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She has used her social authority as a grandmother -- pillar of social order -- to turn conventions upside down. Going well beyond her husband's promises, she has demanded an end to discrimination against women, an end to the morality police, an end to supervision of the universities. It is she who has communicated to the students (in every Asian country the vanguard of the elite): "This is the moment to stand!"

More from the London Times

A diminutive 64-year-old grandmother who refuses to be bound by the rigid constraints imposed on women in Iran proved more than a match for the President of the Islamic Republic yesterday.

Zahra Rahnavard had already broken all precedent by actively campaigning for her husband, Mir Hossein Mousavi, a relative moderate who is President Ahmadinejad’s strongest challenger in Friday’s presidential election. Yesterday she went a step further by summoning the domestic and international media to a press conference at which she tore into the President for lying, humiliating women, debasing his office and betraying the principles of the revolution.
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Dr Rahnavard offered further inducements. She promised that her husband, if elected, would appoint women to Cabinet posts for the first time, and name many female deputy ministers and ambassadors. He would end discrimination and ensure that women were no longer treated as second-class citizens. He would release women’s rights activists from prison and abolish the “morality police” who, during Mr Ahmadinejad’s first term, cracked down on women deemed to be dressed inappropriately. She even suggested that women should not be forced to cover their heads.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:29 PM | Permalink

June 16, 2009

"God be with them"

So How's It Going in Iran? by Michael Leeden with photos from The Big Picture.

But the key element is the people.  They are only just beginning to understand the reality of their situation.  Virtually none of them imagined that they would be in a revolutionary confrontation with the regime just two days after the electoral circus, and few of them can realize, so soon, that they can actually change the world.  I think the Mousavis now understand it (they know that they are either going to win or be destroyed).  It remains to be seen if they can instruct and inspire the movement.

 Iran1

Much will depend on their ability to communicate.  The regime has been waging a cyberwar against the dissidents, shutting down websites, cell phones, Facebook, and the like.  As most people have learned, the basic communiations tool is Twitter, which somehow continues to function.  Bigtime Kudos to Twitter, by the way, for postponing its planned maintenance so that the Iranians can continue to Tweet.  Would that Google were so solicitous of freedom.

 Iran2

We don’t know who’s going to win.  The Iranian people know that they’re on their own;  they aren’t going to get any help from us, or the United Nations, or the Europeans.  But paradoxically, this lack of support may strengthen their will.  There is no cavalry on the horizon.  If they are going to prevail, they and their unlikely leaders will have to gut it out by themselves.  God be with them.

 Iran3

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:36 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

June 11, 2009

Anti-Christian and anti-Catholic bigotry growing in U.K.

With increasing frequency, we're seeing Christians being persecuted in the U.K.   

One 43-year-old woman wore a gold crucifix around her neck as many Catholics do.  She was told at a disciplinary meeting that her job as a phlebotomist under the Gloucestershire NHS Trust was at risk unless she removed the crucifix because they claimed her one-inch crucifix could be used as a weapon or could be a source of infections

She told the Gloucestershire Echo: "I just feel it is so wrong - I have always worn my cross inside my uniform and it means a lot to me. They have told me I can carry it in my pocket but it isn't the same.

"My faith is important to me but I'm not a bible basher and don't push it onto colleagues. Now I have to choose between my job and my faith. It is an awful situation."

Christians risk rejection and discrimination for their faith in the U.K., a study claims

The first poll of Britain's churchgoers, carried out for The Sunday Telegraph, found that thousands of them believe they are being turned down for promotion because of their faith.

One in five said that they had faced opposition at work because of their beliefs.

More than half of them revealed that they had suffered some form of persecution for being a Christian.

The abuse in the marriage made it hard, but the mother, a committed Catholic,  made sure her son,  only 5,  was enrolled in a Catholic school.  When the marital abuse led to a nervous breakdown, and the mother was unable to care for her son.  Social workers took  custody of the boy and placed with a homosexual couple who run the hotel in which they live.

Catholic mother's fury after mental breakdown sees son fostered by gay couple

‘She would prefer a Catholic couple, but if that is not possible, at least a heterosexual one. But social services have given her no choice. She cannot understand how he can be looked after by two men she’s never met.

‘Her belief is that they could encourage him into a lifestyle that is against her religious beliefs.

‘The other day he asked her, “Mummy, are you lesbian or gay?” She had to tell him she was neither.’
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Last night, a leading Catholic lawyer, who asked not to be named, said: ‘I have to ask, would a local authority put a ten-year-old atheist child into a devoutly Catholic home? I think not.

‘Or would it place a ten-year-old hijab-wearing devout Muslim girl with two gay men? Again, I think not.’

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:41 PM | Permalink

March 1, 2009

Pension tsunami

That approaching wave of pension debt is bigger than it looks.

Pensionwatch

The purpose of this site is to provide an overview of the multiple pension crises that are about to drown America's taxpayers.

From the blog, The column that sparked this website: "Land a State Job and Become an Instant Millionaire"

California state government employees have an employer who regularly and by law provides a $40-50,000 contribution to each employee’s pension account — year in and year out — good budget times and bad. (And in bad years they borrow the money!)

The California state government provides a “defined benefit” pension plan to each of its employees. Such “defined benefit” pension plans are far more generous than any 401(k) or defined contribution pension plan available from any other employer in the state! In fact, the plan is so generous that it makes the average state employee a millionaire after only 22 years of work!

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It would require putting $56,889 ($1,251,562/22 years = $56,889) into your 401(k)/IRA or other retirement account every single year during those 22 years! When you work for the state, the state does this for you!

Is the state’s pension plan overly generous? The Sacramento Bee and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger have been whining about it lately — are they jealous? The state’s own Legislative Analyst has determined that California’s pension plan provides nearly twice the benefit of the next highest state.

No wonder California is in so much trouble and going bankrupt.  California, the wave of the future.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:02 PM | Permalink

February 19, 2009

Children's books published before 1985 banned and burned

Are we really on the verge of losing millions of books published before 1985?

Walter Olson on The New Book Banning

It’s hard to believe, but true: under a law Congress passed last year aimed at regulating hazards in children’s products, the federal government has now advised that children’s books published before 1985 should not be considered safe and may in many cases be unlawful to sell or distribute. Merchants, thrift stores, and booksellers may be at risk if they sell older volumes, or even give them away, without first subjecting them to testing—at prohibitive expense. Many used-book sellers, consignment stores, Goodwill outlets, and the like have accordingly begun to refuse new donations of pre-1985 volumes, yank existing ones off their shelves, and in some cases discard them en masse.

The problem is the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA), passed by Congress last summer after the panic over lead paint on toys from China. Among its other provisions, CPSIA imposed tough new limits on lead in any products intended for use by children aged 12 or under, and made those limits retroactive: that is, goods manufactured before the law passed cannot be sold on the used market (even in garage sales or on eBay) if they don’t conform.

Why is Congress doing nothing about this?

The American Library Association spent months warning about the law’s implications, but its concerns fell on deaf ears in Congress (which, in this week’s stimulus bill, refused to consider an amendment by Republican senator Jim DeMint to reform CPSIA)

The cost for a library to comply is prohibitive. One librarian estimated that 75% of the books in her children's library are pre 1985.  The cost of testing each  of them would be more that the entire city budget.

Ace asks Who needs free books or cheap clothes in this economy anyway, right? Or retail jobs, or charity?

Walter Olson at Overlawyered quotes the associate executive director of the American Library Association, ”Either they take all the children’s books off the shelves,” she said, “or they ban children from the library.”   

As well as the president and publisher of Random House Children's Books, Chip , “This is a potential calamity like nothing I’ve ever seen. The implications are quite literally unimaginable. …It has to be stopped.”

Ace  sums it up.

So, to recap: Henry Waxman and his accomplices (including, we should note, many Republicans,) have managed to pass a bill which, inter alia,

1) requires the destruction or other removal of huge supplies of secondhand clothes, in winter,
2) may or may not preclude libraries from lending huge chunks of their childrens’ collections,
3) effectively removes as-yet-uncalculated amounts of inventory from salability from small- and medium-size businesses, without compensation.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:05 AM | Permalink

February 12, 2009

Hell Down Under

-Bushfire In Victoria

"Everybody's gone. Everybody's gone. Everybody. Their houses are gone. They're all dead in the houses there. Everybody's dead," cried survivor Christopher Harvey as he walked through the town of Kinglake, where most people were killed.

-- One massive bushfire tore through several towns in the southern state of Victoria on Saturday night, destroying everything in its path. Many people died in cars trying to flee and others were killed huddled in their homes, yet some escaped by jumping into swimming pools or farm reservoirs.

The exploding bushfires in Victoria are Australia's worst natural disaster in more than a century.    The death toll stands at 181 and will no doubt rise as more bodies are discovered.    It is impossible to comprehend the magnitude of the disaster.

One father. a journalist who escaped with his family  wrote
They warn you that it comes fast, but the word fast doesn't come anywhere near describing it. It comes at you like a runaway train. One minute you are preparing. The next you are fighting for your home. Then you are fighting for your life.

But it is not minutes that come between; it's more like seconds. The firestorm moves faster than you can think, let alone react.

Police suspect the fires may have been deliberately set.
a source said it appeared the Victorian blazes had been started in accordance with a plan. They appear to have been set in a semi-circle, the individual parts of which would join up to form a huge wall of flame.

Marysville, the 'ground zero' of destruction has been declared "one huge crime scene".

Prime minister Kevin Rudd described the arsonists as 'mass murderers' and has said the arsonists should 'rot in jail'.

A-Bushfire-Burns

One firefighter described the horror and the awful decision to save themselves knowing they were leaving people to die.

"We had people banging on the sides of our tanker begging us to go back to houses where they knew there were people trapped, but we couldn't because if we had, we'd all be dead too," Mr Munday said.

"There were children running down the streets with flames behind them. It was hell. I never want to go back to that place, never.

 Australian Fire Photo

A graphic of the path of destruction.    Photos at The Big Picture.

Many bodies were burned beyond recognition and may never be identified.

-Covered Body Australia

One man climbed onto a pub roof to save 400 people
ARMED with only a garden hose, tradie Peter Thorneycroft didn't hesitate before climbing on to the roof of Kinglake's National Park Hotel.

With dozens of children sheltered in the hotel's cool room, he knew it was the only way to put out embers threatening to ignite the building.  Despite struggling with an arm injury, the 43-year-old also fought the embers with buckets of water handed up by brave locals.
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"It was like a cyclone, like a tornado," Mr Thorneycroft said yesterday.    "The ground was constantly shaking. It was absolutely deafening. It was just complete darkness. I never panic . . . (but) I was s......g myself.
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Eleven years after losing his Kinglake home in a fire, Mr Thorneycroft left his new home to defend the pub. Miraculously the house survived.  Wife Jodie, 41, had left the area but kept in constant phone contact during the drama.  "Everyone was just in hysterics," she said.

"He just kept going, 'Everyone's dead, everyone's dead' and I just said, 'Shut up and do what you've got to do'."

 Hero Australian Bushfire


Greens also get some of the blame
The fire experts said not enough had been done to thin out forest areas that posed a danger to small communities in the heart of the bush.  The green lobby is against forests being thinned out because they say clearing bracken, logs and fallen leaves upsets the balance of nature.

In Strathewen, a town ravaged by the fires, resident John Murphy was more terse.

'I was told by the Greenies that I mustn't touch this twig or that stick because a mouse might want to live under it,' he said. 'Well to hell with the mice. People are dead - and so's the mouse.'

One man who lost his mother and brother in the fires criticized the town council's failure to give property owners permission to clean up around their properties in preparation for bushfire season.

We've lost two people in my family because you dickheads won't cut trees down.  We wanted trees cut down on the side of the road … and you can't even cut the grass for God's sake."

Millions of animals feared dead
Kangaroos, wombats, native birds and reptiles stood little chance against the swiftly advancing blazes that devastated more than 400,000 hectares in the state of Victoria.
Corpses of dead wallabies and kangaroos still lined roads in the worst-hit areas, with rescue crews were too busy to clear them from sight. There were also reports of birds and bats falling out of the sky during the fires. One turtle was found with its shell fused together.

One koala was saved, now called Survivor Sam.  YouTube video here.

 Koala Saved-1

Donations to the Victorian bushfire appeal at the Australian Red Cross.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:21 AM | Permalink

February 9, 2009

France embraces MacDo's

I found this stunning

McDonald's announced at the end of January that it now earns more from sales in Europe — particularly France and Britain—than it does in the United States.

The French also spend more per purchase at McDonald's than anyone else in the world, according to the company's latest financial report.

And the most popular tourist attraction in Europe is ...Euro Disney.

Europeans showing some love for Americana

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:08 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

February 4, 2009

Systemic Rape to Recruit Suicide Bombers

I was stunned at this story.  It's hard to fathom such depravity

'Mum' had 80 women raped for suicide missions
A WOMAN suspected of recruiting more than 80 female suicide bombers has confessed to organising their rapes so she could later convince them that martyrdom was the only way to escape the shame.

Samira Jassam, 51, was arrested by Iraqi police and confessed to recruiting the women and orchestrating dozens of attacks.

In a video confession, she explained how she had mentally prepared the women for martyrdom operations, passed them on to terrorists who provided explosives, and then took the bombers to their targets.

"We arrested Samira Jassim, known as 'Um al-Mumenin', the mother of the believers, who was responsible for recruiting 80 women'', Major General Qassim Atta said.

Gateway Pundit has the photograph of this "mother of all believers"

 Mum Terrorist

Some of those women were mentally disabled, Down syndrome women that were used to kill dozens in Baghdad.

Michael Leeden writes

This provides us with a particularly ugly picture of the recruitment of the faithful, which did not take place purely as the result of religious indoctrination, and the well-known dehumanization of the targets of the suicide attacks.  In this case, the victims are the women themselves, who are first deliberately stripped of their worthiness, humiliated in their own eyes and those of their families, and then offered a bloody “redemption” by the terrorists.

We have known for some time about the seedy side of Islamic terrorism, ranging from the widespread use of drugs to the manipulation of psychologically damaged children.  But, for me at least, this is the first account of systematic rape as a recruiting method.  It ought to disgust everyone, but it should be especially repulsive to Muslims, for their religion is being cynically used in conjunction with sexist brutality in order to kill their own women as well as their (mostly Muslim) victims.

This story also suggests that the appeal of “martyrdom” is either not all it has been cracked up to be, or is losing its appeal in Iraqi society.  Either way, it gives us hope that the terrorists are losing, which is abundantly confirmed by the relentless drop in “martyrdom operations.”  But what terrible damage they have inflicted on their own people.

UPDATE:  James Taranto makes it clear what's going on.
In any case, assuming the rape story is true, consider the many levels on which this is depraved. A Muslim woman is arranging for Muslim men to rape Muslim women in order to shame those Muslim women into committing suicide for the purpose of murdering other Muslim men, women and children. And all of this is done in the name of Islam.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:20 AM | Permalink

January 28, 2009

The Sacrosanct Pill

It's wise to be wary of the pill

According to the International Federation of Catholic Medical Associations, an alarming rise in male infertility in developed nations is possibly caused by the quantities of synthetic female hormones, particularly estrogen, in the food chain and water. These quantities are directly attributable to increased use of the contraceptive pill and hormone replacement therapy.
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Indeed, according to Canberra Hospital professor Peter Collignon, an opponent of recycling sewage water into the potable supply, estrogen can be more of a problem in recycled water than microbes because it cannot be filtered out and we simply do not know how well it breaks down. Just as the Romans drinking from lead cups unwittingly caused infertility in themselves, perhaps we are seeing after 30 years of contraceptive pill use the long-term effects of introducing artificial estrogen into our wider environment. So you see this is not just a preoccupation of the misogynistic old Vatican.

__
The evidence that synthetic hormones can have grotesque environmental effects has actually been around for a long time and it is mounting. As long ago as the 1980s, studies were done in the US which showed the effects of estrogen pollution on wildlife, famously alligators in Florida with deformed genitals.
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There are so many reasons for being wary of the contraceptive pill. Why are we not questioning its prevalence?

The reason is, of course, that it is the sacred cow of the sexual revolution. One imaginative letter writer claimed the Catholic view of the pill was that it was "the great Satan", and actually that is not a bad description. It was marketed as an instrument of sexual freedom, and it has provided that, particularly for men. But one might ask if for women it has been the means of sexual liberation or just a way of turning us into empty vessels for sex? Is it like the sexual revolution itself: a pretty and alluring package that turns out to be - for both sexes - like a series of empty boxes, one inside the other. At the end, there is nothing but an empty box.

It's astonishing when you think of it.  If there were any other cause for worldwide male infertility and environmental degradation, people would be up in arms.

Where is the EPA?  Where is the UN?  Where is the outrage?

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:58 PM | Permalink

January 26, 2009

"American generosity under fire"

Given all the problems we have to face and solve, you would think some people wouldn't be trying to fix what's not broken and, in fact, works amazingly well.

But that is the case, as identity politics worms its way into the world of philanthropy.

Heather MacDonald on Never Enough Beauty, Never Enough Truth

American philanthropy is the envy of the world. ....Americans have evolved a unique civic culture of giving and entrepreneurial problem solving. From 1995 to 2002, charitable donations as a percentage of GDP were nearly six times higher in the United States than in France and 14 times higher than in Germany. In 2007, America’s charitable giving amounted to $306 billion.
--

Yet American generosity is under fire. A growing number of activists and politicians argue that foundations should meet diversity targets in their giving and on their staffs. If foundations fail to diversify “voluntarily,” threaten the race, ethnicity, and gender enforcers, they risk legislation requiring them to do so. In other words, the diversity police, having helped bring on the subprime meltdown through mortgage-lending quotas, now want to fix philanthropy. And instead of rebuffing this power grab, the leaders in the field have rolled over and played dead.
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Its spokesmen have embraced the two false premises of the diversity movement: that the skin color and sexual profile of foundation and nonprofit personnel are meaningful performance indicators, and that philanthropic enterprises can be pigeonholed as benefiting this or that particular “diverse” group.
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She goes on to outline how saving the lives of 14,000 New Yorkers, mainly poor, black and Hispanic, is a direct result of the revolution in policing begun under Mayor Guiliani and Police Commissioner Bratton based on a think-tank idea, "Broken windows policing"

No one could have foreseen what the ultimate outcome of the ideas leading up to New York’s crime conquest would be, not even the philanthropists who supported them. Yet that intellectual labor has done more for minority uplift than New York’s multibillion-dollar social-services apparatus ever has—not just by saving lives but by creating the irreducible condition for economic development in the inner city: public safety.

The diversity campaign is oblivious to the complex power of ideas in the world. Those who would direct philanthropy into preconceived channels think that they already know the answers to the world’s problems and need only to appropriate the funding for those answers. But no one can predict how ideas will play out in practice or who will be their beneficiaries. The public good is best served by giving maximum freedom to the creative spirit.
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And in the meantime, don’t imply that the world has too much beauty and knowledge already. It doesn’t. It can always use more.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:54 AM | Permalink

January 12, 2009

'Cancer-free' comes at a cost

Now, that a 'Cancer-free' baby is born in London, what will she die of?

The first child in Britain known to have been screened as an embryo to ensure she did not carry a cancer gene was born Friday, a spokesman for University College London told CNN.

Genetic screening allows lab-fertilized embryos to be tested for genes likely to lead to later health problems.

Her embryo was screened in a lab days after conception to check for the BRCA-1 gene, linked to breast and ovarian cancer.

People with the gene are known to have a 50-80 percent chance of developing breast or ovarian cancer in their lifetime.

Not everyone is thrilled with this development.

"This is not a cure for breast cancer," said Josephine Quintavalle, co-founder of Comment on Reproductive Ethics, which describes itself as group that focuses on ethical dilemmas related to reproduction.

What do you think about testing embryos for gene defects?

"This is simply a mechanism for eliminating the birth of anybody (prone to) the disease," she said. "It is basically a search-and-kill mechanism."

She opposes the procedure because embryos found to carry disease-causing genes often are discarded. She says that is essentially murder.

"They will be destroyed," she said. "They will never be allowed to live."
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Quintavalle opposes any form of in-vitro fertilization where embryos are "killed," she said. But she is particularly troubled by the idea of screening an embryo for the BRCA-1 gene because carriers of the gene do not always develop the disease, and the disease is not always fatal.

"The message we are sending is: 'Better off dead than carrying (a gene linked to) breast cancer,'" she said. "We have gone very much down the proverbial slippery slope."
--

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:00 AM | Permalink

January 10, 2009

Unintended consequences of the Pill

Pill inventor slams---pill

 Djerassi, Austrian, Inventor Pill

Eighty five year old Carl Djerassi the Austrian chemist who helped invent the contraceptive pill now says that his co-creation has led to a "demographic catastrophe."
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The Austrian chemist was one of three whose formulation of the synthetic progestogen Norethisterone marked a key step toward the earliest oral contraceptive pill.

Djerassi outlined the "horror scenario" that occurred because of the population imbalance, for which his invention was partly to blame. He said that in most of Europe there was now "no connection at all between sexuality and reproduction." He said: "This divide in Catholic Austria, a country which has on average 1.4 children per family, is now complete."
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The head of Austria's Catholics, Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, told an interviewer that the Vatican had forecast 40 years ago that the pill would lead to a dramatic fall in the birth rate in the west. Schonborn told Austrian TV that when he first read Pope Paul VI's 1968 encyclical condemning artificial contraception he viewed it negatively as a "cold shower." But he said he had altered his views as, over time, it had proved "prophetic."
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He also pointed to the "devastating ecological effects of the tons of hormones discarded into the environment each year. We have sufficient data to state that one of the causes of masculine infertility in the West is the environmental contamination caused by the products of the 'pill'." Castellvi noted as well that the International Agency for Research on Cancer reported in 2005 that the pill has carcinogenic effects.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:30 AM | Permalink

January 8, 2009

Only 9% of Americans believe that abortion should be legal for any reason at any time

An astonishing survey on how Americans feel about abortion.

The survey of 2,341 adults, conducted online December 10-12, also found that laws limiting or regulating abortion enjoyed support as high as 95 percent among those expressing support or opposition to the six kinds of laws examined in the survey:

95 percent favor laws ensuring that abortions be performed only by licensed physicians
88 percent favor informed consent laws (i.e., that require abortion providers to inform women of potential risks to their physical and psychological health and about alternatives to abortion)
76 percent favor laws that protect doctors and nurses from being forced to perform or refer for abortions against their will
73 percent favor laws that require giving parents the chance to be involved in their minor daughter's abortion decision
68 percent favor laws against partial-birth abortion (i.e., aborting a child already partially delivered from the mother), and
63 percent favor laws preventing the use of taxpayer funds for abortions.
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Only 9 percent said abortion should be legal for any reason at any time during pregnancy.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:19 AM | Permalink

January 5, 2009

Thankful for everything

My apologies for not posting.  I came down with a mild case of the flu that laid me low following my Christmas Eve dinner for one brother and family, then evening Mass.  I collapsed into bed so I could get up early to clean up a huge mess of leftovers and dishes and finish packing before heading out for a noon dinner with my sister at her nursing home, and then on to Logan airport to fly cross-country to visit other two other sisters and two other brothers with their respective spouses and children in Tacoma. 

-Aurora-Borealis-Alaska-1

I took perhaps I took undue pride in having accomplished what can only be described as a Christmas family hat trick, in any event, I came down with the worse cold I've had in years.  I tried everything - garlic, decongestants, cough drops, Chinese herbs, vitamin C infusions, and honey but the cold still got worse.    It's a funny sensation to be feeling so miserable and yet so happy to be with my family and play with little ones.  In the end there was not a better place to be sick; I didn't have to do anything or be anywhere but in the  snowbound house on an island off Gig Harbor where wonderful meals appeared every night and everyone was happy.  There were dogs to walk, a snowy orchard, a steaming hot tub, plenty of books, games to play and my own room to collapse in.  While I had brought my laptop,  I had no energy for blogging.  I did manage to google for cold cures and came the Webutante and A Word or Two About Curing Colds.   I took her advice, bought Simply Saline in blue bottle and Zicam gel in a pump container and wouldn't you know, it worked.  I started feeling better immediately.      Just in time for a New Year's Eve dinner in Tacoma, hugs goodbye and the redeye flight back home.

My flight took literally two years and I arrived in Boston in the bright early morning on New Year's Day, clean and white with newly fallen snow.  So I had to dig my car out from snowdrifts at the economy lot and found my windshield cracked straight across from cold and ice to drive home, turn up the heat, make coffee, unpack, do laundry and catch up on emails before I could fall asleep with a heating pad and hot water bottle, thankful for everything.

Happy New Year everyone.

Home is where one starts from. As we grow older
The world becomes stranger, the pattern more complicated
Of dead and living. Not the intense moment
Isolated, with no before and after,
But a lifetime burning in every moment
And not the lifetime of one man only
But of old stones that cannot be deciphered.
There is a time for the evening under starlight,
A time for the evening under lamplight
(The evening with the photograph album).
Love is most nearly itself
When here and now cease to matter.
Old men ought to be explorers
Here or there does not matter
We must be still and still moving
Into another intensity
For a further union, a deeper communion
Through the dark cold and the empty desolation,
The wave cry, the wind cry, the vast waters
Of the petrel and the porpoise.
In my end is my beginning.

T.S. Eliot East Coker

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:21 PM | Permalink

December 18, 2008

People of the Screen and People of the Book

A marvelous essay by Christine Rosen, People of the Screen in which she describes two different classes, people of the screen and people of the book.

Boy-Illuminated Monitor

As he tried to train himself to screen-read—and mastering such reading does require new skills—Bell made an important observation, one often overlooked in the debate over digital texts: the computer screen was not intended to replace the book. Screen reading allows you to read in a “strategic, targeted manner,” searching for particular pieces of information, he notes. And although this style of reading is admittedly empowering, Bell cautions, “You are the master, not some dead author. And that is precisely where the greatest dangers lie, because when reading, you should not be the master”; you should be the student. “Surrendering to the organizing logic of a book is, after all, the way one learns,” he observes.

--
The reason you can’t “screw up” a Dostoevsky novel is that you must first submit yourself to the process of reading it—which means accepting, at some level, the author’s authority to tell you the story. You enter the author’s world on his terms, and in so doing get away from yourself. Yes, you are powerless to change the narrative or the characters, but you become more open to the experiences of others and, importantly, open to the notion that you are not always in control. In the process, you might even become more attuned to the complexities of family life, the vicissitudes of social institutions, and the lasting truths of human nature. The screen, by contrast, tends in the opposite direction. Instead of a reader, you become a user; instead of submitting to an author, you become the master. The screen promotes invulnerability. Whatever setbacks occur (as in a video game) are temporary, fixable, and ultimately overcome. We expect to master the game and move on to the next challenge. This is a lesson in trial and error, and often an entertaining one at that, but it is not a lesson in richer human understanding.
--
Such is the end of the tragedy we are now witness to:
Literacy, the most empowering achievement of our civilization, is to be replaced by a vague and ill-defined screen savvy. The paper book, the tool that built modernity, is to be phased out in favor of fractured, unfixed information. All in the name of progress.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:42 AM | Permalink

December 17, 2008

Global warming scaremongering

What I didn't know.  Scientists Opposing the UN/IPCC on Global Warming 12 times the Number of IPCC Scientists,

From the Senate Report The UN global warming conference currently underway in Poland is about to face a serious challenge from over 650 dissenting scientists from around the globe who are criticizing the climate claims made by the UN IPCC and former Vice President Al Gore.  Set for release this week, a newly updated U.S. Senate Minority Report features the dissenting voices of over 650 international scientists, many current and former UN IPCC scientists, who have now turned against the UN. The report has added about 250 scientists (and growing) in 2008 to the over 400 scientists who spoke out in 2007. The over 650 dissenting scientists are more than 12 times the number of UN scientists (52) who authored the media hyped IPCC 2007 Summary for Policymakers.The U.S. Senate report is the latest evidence of the growing groundswell of scientific opposition rising to challenge the UN and Gore. Scientific meetings are now being dominated by a growing number of skeptical scientists.

I always thought the so-called climate crisis was way, way overblown.

Warming fears are the “worst scientific scandal in the history…When people come to know what the truth is, they will feel deceived by science and scientists.” - UN IPCC Japanese Scientist Dr. Kiminori Itoh, an award-winning PhD environmental physical chemist.

“The IPCC has actually become a closed circuit; it doesn’t listen to others. It doesn’t have open minds… I am really amazed that the Nobel Peace Prize has been given on scientifically incorrect conclusions by people who are not geologists,” - Indian geologist Dr. Arun D. Ahluwalia at Punjab University and a board member of the UN-supported International Year of the Planet.

“The models and forecasts of the UN IPCC "are incorrect because they only are based on mathematical models and presented results at scenarios that do not include, for example, solar activity.
” - Victor Manuel Velasco Herrera, a researcher at the Institute of Geophysics of the National Autonomous University of Mexico

It is a blatant lie put forth in the media that makes it seem there is only a fringe of scientists who don’t buy into anthropogenic global warming.” - U.S Government Atmospheric Scientist Stanley B. Goldenberg of the Hurricane Research Division of NOAA.

“Even doubling or tripling the amount of carbon dioxide will virtually have little impact, as water vapour and water condensed on particles as clouds dominate the worldwide scene and always will.” – . Geoffrey G. Duffy, a professor in the Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering of the University of Auckland, NZ.


“Many [scientists] are now searching for a way to back out quietly (from promoting warming fears), without having their professional careers ruined.” - Atmospheric physicist James A. Peden, formerly of the Space Research and Coordination Center in Pittsburgh.

“Creating an ideology pegged to carbon dioxide is a dangerous nonsense…
The present alarm on climate change is an instrument of social control, a pretext for major businesses and political battle. It became an ideology, which is concerning.” - Environmental Scientist Professor Delgado Domingos of Portugal, the founder of the Numerical Weather Forecast group, has more than 150 published articles.

“The [global warming] scaremongering has its justification in the fact that it is something that generates funds.” - Award-winning Paleontologist Dr. Eduardo Tonni, of the Committee for Scientific Research in Buenos Aires and head of the Paleontology Department at the University of La Plata

The last rings truest to me. 

I'm all for frugality and for reducing pollution at the source.  But why,  when the greatest greenhouse gas, accounting for 95% of the greenhouse effect  is water vapor are we so worried about carbon dioxide?  After all,

Carbon dioxide comprises less than 4/10000ths of the earth atmosphere and of that amount, a mere 3% is generated by mankind.

UPDATE.

Last week the AP science writer Seth Borenstein reported Obama Left with Little Time to Curb Global Warming.

Scientists called the report  "irrational hysteria," "horrifically bad" and "incredibly biased."

"If the issues weren't so serious and the ramifications so profound, I would have to laugh at it," said David Deming, a geology professor at the University of Oklahoma who has been critical of media reporting on the climate change issue.

"The mean global temperature, at least as measured by satellite, is now the same as it was in the year 1980. In the last couple of years sea level has stopped rising. Hurricane and cyclone activity in the northern hemisphere is at a 24-year low and sea ice globally is also the same as it was in 1980."

Deming said the article is further evidence of the media's decision to talk about global warming as fact, despite what he says is a lack of evidence.
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James O'Brien, an emeritus professor at Florida State University who studies climate variability and the oceans, said that global climate change is very important for the country and that Americans need to make sure they have the right answers for policy decisions. But he said he worries that scientists and policymakers are rushing to make changes based on bad science.

"Global climate change is occurring in many places in the world," O'Brien said. "But everything that's attributed to global warming, almost none of it is global warming."

He took issue with the AP article's assertion that melting Arctic ice will cause global sea levels to rise.

"When the Arctic Ocean ice melts, it never raises sea level because floating ice is floating ice, because it's displacing water," O'Brien said. "When the ice melts, sea level actually goes down.

"I call it a fourth grade science experiment. Take a glass, put some ice in it. Put water in it. Mark level where water is. Let it melt. After the ice melts, the sea level didn't go up in your glass of water. It's called the Archimedes Principle."

He called sea level changes a "major scare tactic used by the global warming people."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:31 AM | Permalink

The Sacred Images of Our Time

From Hubble's most amazing photographs from 2008, the sacred images of our time, revealing the wonders of creation.

 Hubble Cetus

Photographed on October 27-28, this image of two interacting galaxies in the constellation Cetus some 400 million light-years away is truly awesome.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:45 AM | Permalink

December 15, 2008

Stars

 Retina Nebula

If you're not following the daily new photo of Hubble Space Telescope Advent Calendar at The Big Picture, you are missing some extraordinary  beautiful images never before seen by humans.  Above is the Retina Nebula, a dying star.

From The Star by Gerard Vanderleun

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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It is a central tenet of our faith in science that the new will encompass the old in one endless and eternal conservation of sense and sensibility. In this cathedral we worship a database. We can see outward to the edge of what is, and downward into time was to (almost) the moment of Creation. We can see inward into (almost) the mute heart of matter. We have the proven method. We have the hard evidence. We know that nothing is, in time, beyond our knowing. All doubt has been removed. We are the Alpha and Omega. Our science is now as eternal and as deeply grounded in truth as... well, as astrology was in 5 B.C.
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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.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:42 AM | Permalink

December 7, 2008

"The Basic Male Tool Kit is Under Threat"

A whole host of common chemicals is feminizing the males of every class of vertebrate species writes Geoffrey Lean in The Independent.

It's official: Men really are the weaker sex

Evolution is being distorted by pollution, which damages genitals and the ability to father offspring, says new study.

The male gender is in danger, with incalculable consequences for both humans and wildlife, startling scientific research from around the world reveals.

The research – to be detailed tomorrow in the most comprehensive report yet published – shows that a host of common chemicals is feminising males of every class of vertebrate animals, from fish to mammals, including people.
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It also follows hard on the heels of new American research which shows that baby boys born to women exposed to widespread chemicals in pregnancy are born with smaller penises and feminised genitals.

"This research shows that the basic male tool kit is under threat,"
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Many have been identified as "endocrine disrupters" – or gender-benders – because they interfere with hormones. These include phthalates, used in food wrapping, cosmetics and baby powders among other applications; flame retardants in furniture and electrical goods; PCBs, a now banned group of substances still widespread in food and the environment; and many pesticides.

The report – published by the charity CHEMTrust and drawing on more than 250 scientific studies from around the world – concentrates mainly on wildlife, identifying effects in species ranging from the polar bears of the Arctic to the eland of the South African plains, and from whales in the depths of the oceans to high-flying falcons and eagles.

It concludes: "Males of species from each of the main classes of vertebrate animals (including bony fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals) have been affected by chemicals in the environment.  "Feminisation of the males of numerous vertebrate species is now a widespread occurrence.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:52 PM | Permalink

December 5, 2008

Wakeboard in the Piazza

 Venice Flood Wakeboard

In Venice, the worst floods in decades brings out Duncan Zurr who says it was his life-long ambition to wake board across St. Mark's Square.  Lots more photos there,

I suppose it's the equivalent of skiing down the middle of the Charles River which I did in the blizzard of 1978.  Of course, it was frozen over.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:47 AM | Permalink

December 3, 2008

"The surprise of my life, at my age, to find I have a brother, and he lives six blocks away"

Whatever the topic, it flew right out of Lew's head as soon as his lunch companion, in reference to a mutual acquaintance, dropped a bomb on Lew's assumptions about his own privileged life.

You know, Lew, so-and-so was adopted. "Like you."

The words sent a jolt through him.

ADOPTED. LIKE. YOU.

"I tried to keep a poker face," he says. "But I was stunned."

Lew hires a professional genealogist who specializes in tracing the roots of Jewish families.
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Applebaum says when he told Lew about Jack, Lew was "as giddy as a little boy on his birthday. The joy came right through the telephone line."
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Lifetime, no see: They're brothers.  They live six blocks apart.  And for 80 years, neither knew the other existed.

This is the bittersweet story of Lew and Jack, two grandfathers in their early 80s who, after a lifetime as strangers, discovered they are brothers.

"The surprise of my life," Lew says, "at my age, to find I have a brother, and he lives six blocks away."

"I've always wanted a brother," adds Jack. "But I don't know what having a brother is."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:24 AM | Permalink

December 1, 2008

What happened to the British character?

Polite, considerate, self-controlled, law-abiding, tolerant of all eccentricities, humble and modest  are adjectives once used to describe the British not that long ago.

Today, the British are often described as loutish, violent, drunken, sluttish, boastful and brutish.
the young British find themselves hated, feared, and despised throughout Europe, wherever they gather to have what they call “a good time.” They turn entire Greek, Spanish, and Turkish resorts into B-movie Sodoms and Gomorrahs. They cover sidewalks with vomit, rape one another, and indulge in casual drunken violence

Indictable crime has increased 900% since 1950

What happened to the British character?

Theodore Dalrymple explains from the inside what happened to The Quivering Upper Lip. 

When my mother arrived in England as a refugee from Nazi Germany, shortly before the outbreak of World War II, she found the people admirable, though not without the defects that corresponded to their virtues. By the time she died, two-thirds of a century later, she found them rude, dishonest, and charmless.
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Lack of self-control is just as character-forming as self-control: but it forms a different, and much worse and shallower, character. Further, once self-control becomes neither second nature nor a desired goal, but rather a vice to avoid at all costs, there is no plumbing the depths to which people will sink.

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Two things are worth noting about this shift in national character: it is not the first such shift in British history; and the change is not entirely spontaneous or the result of impersonal social forces.
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The moralization of the British in the first third of the nineteenth century—their transformation from a people lacking self-control into exemplars of restraint—was the product of intellectual and legislative activity. So, too, was the reverse movement.
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Habits become character. Perhaps they shouldn’t, but they do.

It's an essay with horrifying details and not to be missed.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:41 PM | Permalink

November 29, 2008

"Money is based on trust"

Money is based on trust says Niall Ferguson  Confidence in the free market and capitalist institutions  is based on trust. 

What is money after all but a promise to pay? 

Without a foundation in society based on religion or religiously-based ethics, there's no reason to believe that such promises will be kept.

We're in such a mess because Congressmen and bankers abused our trust to satisfy their political agendas or their greed.

Investors' Business Daily takes note of the Pope's remarks to say

What he really said was not clairvoyant, but self-evident: Economic freedom demands ethics.

Of course, we are not without fault as Ed Morrissey writes in Has America learned a lesson about consumption?

the period between the last recession and now has been marked by the unique phenomenon of assets-based consumption.  We need a return to income-based consumption, and the transition is going to sting:
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The entire precipice was built on sand, and it’s now turning into quicksand.  For some, the lesson will come too late.  For the rest of us, it’s a lesson we need to learn for good.  Many of us have heard the advice our parents and grandparents learned in hard economic times: Don’t spend beyond your means.  Many in the previous couple of generations had a well-deserved skepticism about credit, and they’ve been proven right yet again.

Niall Ferguson was prescient when he started his book to explain the current economic crisis in the span of 4000 years of financial history. (Hat tip to Cat at Brits at their Best.)  He saw the liquidity crisis coming.


"The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World" (Niall Ferguson)

Here is Ferguson, Tisch Professor of History at Harvard, speaking with Harry Kriesler at the University of California, Berkely on his new book.

It's wonderful to be able to hear and learn so much on the internet.  The good news is that U.S. has a better chance of riding out the crisis than other countries because people around the world believe that the correct response is to put their cash into dollars

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:22 PM | Permalink

November 20, 2008

What I didn't know about Jonestown

I was around when Jim Jones and his 900 followers committed suicide in Guyana by drinking the kool-aid laced with cyanide.

I remember reading as much as I could in trying  to understand what I never could. 

On the thirtieth anniversary of that terrible day, I read neo's analysis and was surprised to learn what a respected a member of the San Francisco community he was and how many ties he had to local Democratic politicians. 

He had been pictured as an evangelical Christian fanatic

On November 17, 1978, Jim Jones was a hero to American leftists. On November 18, 1978, Jones orchestrated the killings of 918 people and strangely morphed in the eyes of American leftists into an evangelical Christian fanatic. An unfortunately well-worn narrative, playing out contemporaneously in Pol Pot's Cambodia, of socialist dreams ending in ghoulish nightmares, then, conveniently shifted to one about the dangers of organized religiom. But as The Nation magazine reported at the time, "The temple was as much a left-wing political crusade as a church. In the course of the 1970s, its social program grew steadily more disaffiliated from what Jim Jones came to regard as 'Fascist America' and drifted rapidly toward outspoken Communist sympathies." So much so that the
last will and testament of the Peoples Temple, and its individual members who left notes, bequeathed millions of dollars in assets to the Soviet Union. As Jones expressed to a Soviet diplomat upon upon his visit to Jonestown the month before the smiling suicides took place, "For many years, we have let our sympathies be quite publicly known, that the United States government was not our mother, but that the Soviet Union was our spiritual motherland."
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Jim Jones was an evangelical communist who became a minister to infiltrate the church with the gospel according to Marx and Lenin. He was an atheist missionary bringing his message of socialist redemption to the Christian heathen. "I decided, how can I demonstrate my Marxism?," remembered Jones of his days in 1950s Indiana. "The thought was, infiltrate the church." So in the forms of Pentecostal ritual, Jones smuggled socialism into the minds of true believers--who gradually became true believers of a different sort. Unless one counts his drug-induced bouts with self-messianism, Jones didn't believe in God. Get it--a Peoples Temple. He shocked his parishioners, many of whom certainly did believe in God, by dramatically tossing the Bible onto the ground during a sermon. "Nobody's going to come out of the sky!," an excited Jones had once informed his flock. "There's no heaven up there! We'll have to have heaven down here!"
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A man who killed more African Americans than the Ku Klux Klan was awarded a local Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Award and won the plaudits of California lieutenant governor Mervyn Dymally, state assemblyman Willie Brown, radical academic Angela Davis, preacher/politician Jesse Jackson, Black Panther leader Huey Newton, and other African American activists.

Neo reflects on the lessons learned

In the case of the Jonestown inhabitants, they were extreme idealists who had ceded a great deal of autonomy to a leader and a group at the outset. Very few of them had a chance.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:27 AM | Permalink

November 18, 2008

California fires

 California Fire
This is  just one of a series of extraordinary photos of the California fires over at The Big Picture which seems to have taken the place of the newsweeklies in bringing us photographs that explain events in the world that words cannot.

How else could you appreciate the capricious of the wind and fires, consuming this and leaving that one untouched?  How do people explain to themselves?

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:21 PM | Permalink

How Kevin Bacon Cured Cancer

An absolutely  brilliant documentary from Australia entitled How Kevin Bacon Cured Cancer can be seen in three parts, in streaming video.

I was riveted as I watched a number of scientists gradually discover and unveil the natural law behind networks.    From the mathematician who tried to explain why crickets sound together and fireflies synchronize their flashes to this image of the Internet

 Image Internet

to the idea of six degrees of separation - that anyone on the planet can be connected in just a few steps of association - played out  before us, we see a major scientific breakthrough as the scientists realize the same law can be applied to neurons, proteins,  viruses and the spread of disease.

And yes Kevin Bacon makes an appearance.  When the trivia game Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon came out, Bacon thought he was being made the object of fun.  Now he's the founder of Sixdegrees.org, a non-profit calling for social networking with a conscience. 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:59 AM | Permalink

November 14, 2008

Our 'shared spiritual alphabet'

Separating Christianity from Europe's public life leads 'down a blind alley' Pope cautions.

Though our world and environment continue to change, Pope Benedict continued, “the final aim of all our daily efforts, both as individuals and as a community, remains unaltered: the search for the true well-being of the person and the creation of an open and welcoming society attentive to the real needs of everyone.”

"The values and laws, the shared spiritual 'alphabet,' that has made it possible for our peoples to write noble chapters of civil and religious history over the centuries, is a precious heritage that must not be squandered," the Pope added, but rather “augmented with the contribution of modern discoveries in the fields of science technology and communication, which must be placed at the service of the real good of mankind."

The Pontiff continued by emphasizing that if this rich heritage is separated from the public life, it would “mean starting down a blind alley.”  He also stressed that “this is why it is necessary to redefine the meaning of secularism, a secularism that highlights the real difference and autonomy between the various elements of society but that also protects their specific competencies, in a context of shared responsibility.”

The phrase our 'shared spiritual alphabet' is especially apt since so many have become illiterate and ignorant of the roots of the civilization that has cradled them. 

Take Oxford for example.  No more Christmas lights for them.  No indeed.  Christmas is now banned in Oxford in favor of a 'Winter Light Festival'.    Instead of the traditional Christmas lights, there will be a 25 meter high mobile in shape of the solar system.

 Christmas Lights Oxford

Muslims and Jews want Christmas back.

Sabir Hussain Mirza, chairman of the Muslim Council of Oxford, said: 'I'm really upset. Christians, Muslims and other religions all look forward to Christmas.'

Rabbi Eli Bracknell of the Jewish Educational Centre said: ' Anything that waters down traditional culture and Christianity is not positive for the British identity. WinterLight includes all festivals but it also conceals them.'

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:04 AM | Permalink

November 13, 2008

The End of Wall Street

A remarkable article by Michael Lewis called The End in Portfolio.

The era that defined Wall Street is finally, officially over. Michael Lewis, who chronicled its excess in Liar’s Poker, returns to his old haunt to figure out what went wrong.

 Wall St Bull Fallen
photoillustration by Ji Lee

When he wrote Liar's Poker, he thought that there would come a Great Reckoning
when Wall Street would wake up and hundreds if not thousands of young people like me, who had no business making huge bets with other people’s money, would be expelled from finance.
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In the two decades since then, I had been waiting for the end of Wall Street. The outrageous bonuses, the slender returns to shareholders, the never-ending scandals, the bursting of the internet bubble, the crisis following the collapse of Long-Term Capital Management: Over and over again, the big Wall Street investment banks would be, in some narrow way, discredited. Yet they just kept on growing, along with the sums of money that they doled out to 26-year-olds to perform tasks of no obvious social utility. The rebellion by American youth against the money culture never happened. Why bother to overturn your parents’ world when you can buy it, slice it up into tranches, and sell off the pieces?

One of the true wise men was Steve Eisman

It’s not easy to stand apart from mass hysteria—to believe that most of what’s in the financial news is wrong or distorted, to believe that most important financial people are either lying or deluded—without actually being insane. A handful of people had been inside the black box, understood how it worked, and bet on it blowing up. Whitney rattled off a list with a half-dozen names on it. At the top was Steve Eisman.
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Eisman wasn’t, in short, an analyst with a sunny disposition who expected the best of his fellow financial man and the companies he created. “You have to understand,” Eisman says in his defense, “I did subprime first. I lived with the worst first. These guys lied to infinity. What I learned from that experience was that Wall Street didn’t give a shit what it sold.”
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The funny thing, looking back on it, is how long it took for even someone who predicted the disaster to grasp its root causes. They were learning about this on the fly, shorting the bonds and then trying to figure out what they had done. Eisman knew subprime lenders could be scumbags. What he underestimated was the total unabashed complicity of the upper class of American capitalism. For instance, he knew that the big Wall Street investment banks took huge piles of loans that in and of themselves might be rated BBB, threw them into a trust, carved the trust into tranches, and wound up with 60 percent of the new total being rated AAA. --

“We have a simple thesis,” Eisman explained. “There is going to be a calamity, and whenever there is a calamity, Merrill is there.” When it came time to bankrupt Orange County with bad advice, Merrill was there. When the internet went bust, Merrill was there. Way back in the 1980s, when the first bond trader was let off his leash and lost hundreds of millions of dollars, Merrill was there to take the hit. That was Eisman’s logic—the logic of Wall Street’s pecking order. Goldman Sachs was the big kid who ran the games in this neighborhood. Merrill Lynch was the little fat kid assigned the least pleasant roles, just happy to be a part of things. The game, as Eisman saw it, was Crack the Whip. He assumed Merrill Lynch had taken its assigned place at the end of the chain.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:35 AM | Permalink

October 31, 2008

Cut off from their genetic history

I'm only surprised that this hasn't happened before.

Suit seeks identities of sperm, egg donors.

A B. C. woman conceived through artificial insemination is fighting for the right to know the identity of her biological father, asking the court to make the identities of anonymous donors available.

The legal battle pits the confidentiality promised to those who donated sperm and eggs used for artificial insemination against the rights of children born from such procedures to know their genetic history.

The rights of the children took a step forward this week when a B. C. court ordered doctors to not destroy any related medical records until the end of the case.

In a class-action lawsuit filed last week on behalf of B. C. residents conceived through the use of anonymous sperm, egg and embryo donations -- known as gamete donation -- journalist Olivia Pratten, who is seeking the identity of her biological father, said learning his identity would "alleviate the psychological distress" of not knowing her origins.
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"The child is the one who lives with choices that were made for them before they were born and who bears the consequences of these adult decisions," she said yesterday from her home in New York. "How many times have I spoken about this and doctors tell me to be happy or be grateful --it infuriates me."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:00 AM | Permalink

Beer to fight cancer

If the researchers at Rice University are successful in concocting a genetically engineered beer to fight heart disease and cancers, then thanks and praise are surely warranted. 

What better place than this Buddhist temple built from beer bottles.

 Combo Buddhist Beer Temple

It took a million bottles - green Heineken and brown local Chang beer - to build this Buddhist temple.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:29 AM | Permalink

Yoga on the Cancer Ward

Most philanthropists are happy to their names embossed on a plaque on a hospital wing.  Not Donna Karan, the fashion designer, who is bringing yoga teachers onto the cancer ward.

In One Section of Beth Israel Hospital, Some Patients Are Saying 'Om', not 'Ah'

While other hospitals in New York and across the country have dabbled in yoga, the new Beth Israel project is broader, better financed and more integrated into the medical protocol, and because of Ms. Karan’s concern that it might be dismissed as touchy-feely nonsense, it includes a research component. Ms. Karan hopes to prove that the Urban Zen regime can reduce classic symptoms of cancer and its treatment, like pain, nausea and anxiety (thereby cutting hospital stays and costs) and serve as a model for replication elsewhere.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:37 AM | Permalink

October 27, 2008

False Courage

Why would people of note and accomplishment - lawyers, doctors, clergymen, CEOs, teachers, elected officials among others - claim medals of valor they never earned?

The Chicago Tribune found that of the 333 people in the online edition of Who's Who who claim to have earned one of the nation's most esteemed medals, fully a third can not support their claims with military records.

False Courage

They then asked why.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:21 AM | Permalink

August 25, 2008

The Termite's Moment in the Sun

Gut Reactions

The greatest mystery of all is found in the worker termite’s third gut, which is delineated by an intricately structured stomach valve, as unique from species to species as individual snowflakes are and, in its way, just as lovely. The size of a sesame seed, the third gut contains a dense mush of symbiotic microbes. Many of these microbes live nowhere else on Earth; they depend on adult termites to pass them on to the young by means of a “woodshake,” a microbial slurry.
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This microbial mush may be a treasure trove for the human race. Recently, sophisticated genetic sequencing produced an inventory of more than 80,000 genes, spanning some 300 microbial species, from the guts of Costa Rican termites. These findings, published last November in the journal Nature, got a lot of attention, not for the quantity of microorganisms—after all, the human mouth contains 600 species of bacteria—but for their complexity, and in particular for the fact that among them are 500 genes for enzymes able to break down the cellulose in wood and grasses.
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The little biorefineries inside each termite allow the insects to eat up $11 billion in U.S. property every year. But some scientists and policy makers believe they may also make the termite a sort of biotech Rumpelstiltskin, able to spin straw—or grass, or wood by-products—into something much more valuable. Offer a termite this page, and its microbial helpers will break it down into two liters of hydrogen, enough to drive more than six miles in a fuel-cell car. If we could turn wood waste into fuel with even a fraction of the termite’s efficiency, we could run our economy on sawdust, lawn clippings, and old magazines.
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And so the termite may be poised for its moment in the sun. Speaking last year about moving toward a biofuel economy, Energy Secretary Samuel W. Bodman pointed to the termite-to-tank concept, asserting, “We know this can be done.” Another official called it a promising “transformational discovery.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:24 AM | Permalink

Cards for Same Sex Weddings

Responding to consumer demand, Hallmark offers "coming out" cards for homosexuals and now same-sex marriage cards.

 Hallmark Gay Marriage

The language inside, "Two hearts. One promise" is neutral enough so the card can also work for commitment ceremonies.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:58 AM | Permalink

August 14, 2008

Celestial Beauty and Quantum Weirdness

 100Th Hubble

This picture released on the occasion of the 100,000 orbit of the Hubble telescope shows us a dazzling image of celestial beauty and renewal,

Hubble peered into a small portion of the Tarantula nebula near the star cluster NGC 2074. The region is a firestorm of raw stellar creation, perhaps triggered by a nearby supernova explosion. It lies about 170,000 light-years away and is one of the most active star-forming regions in our local group of galaxies.

The image reveals dramatic ridges and valleys of dust, serpent-head "pillars of creation," and gaseous filaments glowing fiercely under torrential ultraviolet radiation. The region is on the edge of a dark molecular cloud that is an incubator for the birth of new stars.

The high-energy radiation blazing out from clusters of hot young stars is sculpting the wall of the nebula by slowly eroding it away. Another young cluster may be hidden beneath a circle of brilliant blue gas.

In this approximately 100-light-year-wide fantasy-like landscape, dark towers of dust rise above a glowing wall of gases on the surface of the molecular cloud. The seahorse-shaped pillar at lower, right is approximately 20 light-years long, roughly four times the distance between our sun and the nearest star, Alpha Centauri.

The region is in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite of our Milky Way galaxy. It is a fascinating laboratory for observing star-formation regions and their evolution. Dwarf galaxies like the Large Magellanic Cloud are considered to be the primitive building blocks of larger galaxies.

Quantum Weirdness is even stranger than they thought and physicists are spooked by faster-than-light information transfer.

The revelations of these scientific discoveries leave me in awe.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:07 PM | Permalink

August 13, 2008

Back home and catching up on the Olympics

I had a wonderful time with my family on the Cape, sunny days all except for one when we all went shopping and I made dinner for all 23 of us.  In a couple of weeks, I'll post a photo of all of us taken by a professional photographer.

Time away from the computer brought back a different rhythm to daily life.  Now that I'm back, so much has happened in the world, I'm spending a lot of time just catching up on the news.

First the Olympics.  I did get to see the marvelous spectacle of the opening ceremonies and parade of nations but not without a nagging discomfort at their cost both human and economic

Simon Jenkins articulated it best in Olympic crack in China's wall.

An Olympic Games must be the most expensive public gesture, in billions of dollars a day, that any nation can undertake in peacetime, a political spectacular masquerading as sport.

The IOC was drawn to China as the one big country to which it still had a quid pro quo to offer: international respectability. The IOC knew that China might be induced to spend huge sums, not by virtue of political reform, but to cloak the absence of such reform.
--

The IOC seems to have found in Chinese communism a shared language and nostalgia for the drilled utopianism of the mid-20th century. A large area of old Beijing has been razed and rebuilt with stadiums, office blocks and avenues, monuments to the modernising zeal of the party. Morally emasculated western architects have lined up for work, led by the son of Albert Speer as master planner.

Above all the Chinese have proved that the Olympics are about control. Lose control, as did the world torch tour and its “1,000 jogging policemen”, and you cannot deliver concord and good publicity. Instead, control has required the Chinese to arrest untold hundreds of human rights activists. It has rendered Tibet virtually inaccessible. Anyone concerned with protest, such as the signers of a letter pleading for “an Olympic spirit” in human rights, has been thrown in jail or removed from the capital; 100,000 troops have been brought in to ring the city.

Still, the Olympics always bring stories of courage, determination, persistence, hardship and glory.  My favorite so far is the story of Lomong. 

Where Once He Was Lost, Now He is Found

For seven years, China has dreamed of orchestrating every detail, athletic and political, of its glorious Opening Ceremonies to the Olympics. Now, one lean 1,500-meter runner from the United States, chosen by his teammates in an act of open defiance, may steal the show. Lopez Lomong, one of the Sudanese "Lost Boys" and a member of the anti-genocide group Team Darfur, has been chosen by his 595 U.S. Olympic teammates to carry our flag on Friday. What, we couldn't find a Tibetan monk on the team?

What a coincidence. Just hours before U.S. team captains met to decide on the flag carrier, Chinese officials rescinded the visa of Joey Cheek, a speedskating gold medalist who carried the U.S. flag at the Closing Ceremonies at the 2006 Winter Games and later co-founded Team Darfur. After that slap at Cheek, U.S. athletes here had almost nothing to say on the topic. One even referred to the subject as "the question they warned us about."

Perhaps they didn't answer individually. But the entire U.S. team gave its answer -- as a group and in capital letters -- with Lomong's selection. You jerk Cheek's visa. We put Lomong in your face. And do it proudly.

Here's the backstory of his foster parents who took in seven lost boys from Sudan, extraordinary people, ordinary Americans.

U.S. Flagbearer found new life in New York foster home.

When he learned he was coming to America, Lomong thought he would have to get a job and support himself. He didn't expect to have such supportive parents.

"I just thought they would just keep me for a little while, but they convinced me that this is your home," he said.

Anthony, 20, is a junior political science major at State University at Buffalo, where he plays soccer. In his first six weeks in America, Anthony went to Disney World, Washington, D.C., and Boston. He surprised the Rogerses when he told them the most amazing thing he had seen in America: "parents."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:18 PM | Permalink

July 30, 2008

Cosmic Dance

From Wikipedia's Image of the Day, a collection of images from the Hubble telescope Galaxies Gone Wild.

 Galaxies Wikipedia

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:36 AM | Permalink

July 21, 2008

A Defining Event on the 90th Anniversary of the Execution of the Romanovs

Born after World War II, but old enough to remember the stories told after, I was deeply impressed in the sense of being marked indelibly with stories of the horrors in the concentration camps in Germany and in the former USSR.  Both were vivid examples of what could happen in countries that suppressed religion and religious worship. 

The Diary of Anne Frank made vivid what it was like to live in hiding and fear of being discovered and what girl could not deeply identify with the young Anne and wonder how she would have acted in the same situation.  Perhaps that why in college, I was most interested in studying Germany, Russia and China, totalitarian governments all.  I wanted to understand how that was felt in the daily lives of people.    You've heard that they governed through fear.  Fear, yes, but more than that.  A fear strengthened and potentiated by the breakdown in the web of trust that undergirds a truly civilized country. People are atomized, stripped of what is most personal and human about them.  From their personal bonds of blood and affection for family and friends to their relationship with the Divine.

Too often in news stories about post-Soviet Russia, Germany and China, the focus is on political or economic recovery.  There's more going on than that, witness Requiem for the Romanovs.  From what I read, it was a watershed cultural event that brought to the fore the question that until now have been evaded.

In her weeping, the soloist was not alone. Many of the more than 2,000 people who filled into the concert hall of the largest basilica in Russia, the Church of Christ the Savior, bombed by Stalin and rebuilt in the 1990s, wept openly as they listened and watched the tragedy of the last Romanovs unfold.

The story of the last days of the Romanovs is well known. Czar Nicholas II, embroiled in a terrible war with Germany and Austro-Hungary, decided to abdicate his throne on March 15, 1917. Without a single strong leader, Russia was soon in political turmoil. Out of the turmoil, the tiny but compact and single-minded Bolsheviks emerged as Russia's new rulers toward the end of 1917.

Nicholas and his family were soon placed under house arrest. They gardened, read books, prayed. Then, in the summer of 1918, on the evening of July 17, they were taken to the basement room of their prison, and shot to death. Their bodies were then burned.

Russia had made a clean break with its monarchical, and Christian, past.

The age of the "dictatorship of the proletariat" and of anti-Christian state atheism had begun.
-----
the Requiem is far from a "nostalgic recollection" of the "good old days of the czars."

Instead, it is a searing socio-political critique of the atheism and persecution of religious belief central to Russia's communist regime.

While In the largest basilica in Russia, it was a cultural event not a religious service
"This is why we chose to organize this Requiem Concert. This is not a liturgy, not a Church celebration, but a cultural event. We want to participate in the cultural debate in Russia today, and make our case.

The Russian Orthodox Church  was the principal sponsor, supported by two American groups; the orchestra directed by a Russian general and the musicians former members of the armed forces.

Bishop Hilarion concluded tonight's Requiem for the Romanovs with these words: "The horror of a national tragedy could not destroy the hope for a breakthrough to light and the inspired certainty that the triumph of evil would be fleeting, and would be followed by a bright future, by growth in spiritual perfection, by restoration and revival. The heroism of the martyrs of the 20th century contains a reflection of the future Kingdom which is transfiguring everyone and everything to live in peace through Christ."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:47 AM | Permalink

July 16, 2008

We won. They won

MIchael Yon, the best reporter in Iraq writes Success in Iraq.

The war continues to abate in Iraq. Violence is still present, but, of course, Iraq was a relatively violent place long before Coalition forces moved in. I would go so far as to say that barring any major and unexpected developments (like an Israeli air strike on Iran and the retaliations that would follow), a fair-minded person could say with reasonable certainty that the war has ended. A new and better nation is growing legs. What's left is messy politics that likely will be punctuated by low-level violence and the occasional spectacular attack. Yet, the will of the Iraqi people has changed, and the Iraqi military has dramatically improved, so those spectacular attacks are diminishing along with the regular violence. Now it's time to rebuild the country, and create a pluralistic, stable and peaceful Iraq. That will be long, hard work. But by my estimation, the Iraq War is over. We won. Which means the Iraqi people won.

I wish I could say the same for Afghanistan. But that war we clearly are losing: I am preparing to go there and see the situation for myself. My friends and contacts who have a good understanding of Afghanistan are, to a man, pessimistic about the current situation. Interestingly, however, every one of them believes that Afghanistan can be turned into a success. They all say we need to change our approach, but in the long-term Afghanistan can stand on its own. The sources range from four-stars to civilians from the United States, Great Britain and other places. A couple years ago, some of these sources believed that defeat was imminent in Iraq. They were nearly right about Iraq, although some of them knew far less about Iraq than they do about Afghanistan. But it's clear that hard days are ahead in Afghanistan. We just lost nine of our soldiers in a single firefight, where the enemy entered a base and nearly overran it.

Fred Kagan and others seems to agree there''s a New Reality in Iraq

It is time for Americans to recognize it's a whole new ballgame in Iraq. The civil war is over, American troops are not an "irritant" fueling the unrest, and far from becoming dependent upon us, the Iraqi government and the army show more determination every day to run their country and to protect it. But they continue to want and need our assistance.

While victory in war is never certain until the war is over, the odds are strongly with us for once – provided we do the right thing. That is to stand by our best ally in the war against al Qaeda, and the struggle to contain Iran.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:09 PM | Permalink

July 13, 2008

Folding Clothes

Excuse Me.  do You Work Here?  No, I Just Need to Fold Clothes

Thousands of neat freaks picked up the habit as clerks at the gap

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:35 PM | Permalink

June 26, 2008

Banning Father's Day cards

One in four British children lives with a lone parent - double the figure 20 years ago.

So Father's Day cards have been banned in Scottish schools "for fear of embarrassing classmates who live with single mothers and lesbians.

While local authorities say teachers need to react to the "changing pattern of family life" 
Matt O'Connor, founder of campaign group Fathers For Justice, said: "I'm astonished at this. It totally undermines the role and significance of fathers whether they are still with the child's mother or not.

"It also sends out a troubling message to young boys that fathers aren't important."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:27 PM | Permalink

Licensed to Hug

A torrent of child protection laws in Britain means that a quarter of adults will have to pass the "pedophile" test before being allowed to interact with any children except their own.

The rise in regulation has fueled an atmosphere of suspicion, left adults afraid to intervene or take responsibility and eroded social bonds.

Child protection laws are 'poisoning the relationships between adults and children.

The Institute for the Study of a Civil Society released its new study, Licensed to Hug and says


The dramatic escalation of child protection measures has succeeded in poisoning the relationship between the generations and creating an atmosphere of suspicion that actually increases the risks to children, according to a new study released today by Civitas.

In Licensed to Hug Frank Furedi, Professor of Sociology at the University of Kent, argues that children need to have contact with a range of adult members of the community for their education and socialisation, but 'this form of collaboration, which has traditionally underpinned intergenerational relationships, is now threatened by a regime that insists that adult/child encounters must be mediated through a security check'
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‘The adult qualities of spontaneous compassion and commitment are, we argue, far more effective safeguarding methods than pieces of paper that promote the messages “Keep Out” and “Watch Your Back”.’

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:22 PM | Permalink

May 23, 2008

Biggest Drawing in the World

A Swedish student at the Beckmans College of Design in Stockholm had a great idea for his final project - the biggest drawing in the world.

Using a GPS device in a briefcase as his pen, and very exact travel directions to DHL,  he drew a self-portrait on our planet.  You can see how he did it here.

 Gps Generated Self Portrait

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:44 PM | Permalink

May 21, 2008

"I like pain, I love pain"

 Elaine-Davidson Most-Pierced

Elaine Davidson, 43 years old, a songwriter who lives in Scotland holds the Guinness World as "most pierced woman" in the world with 5920 piercings as of May 16, 2008.    She fears going home to Brazil for fear of being robbed.

"The last time I went to Brazil, I had to wear a face mask because since I have a lot of jewellery [pierced to the skin], I fear being robbed or attacked," Elaine Davidson said from Edinburgh.

She considers feeling pain a motivating factor in her life and says she also walks on beds of nails, fire and bits of glass.

"I like pain, I love pain," she said, explaining that she now wants to exceed 2,000 body piercings.

Davidson has more piercings in her genitalia than in any other part of the body - 500 in all, externally and internally.

"It hurts in the chest as well," she said.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:39 AM | Permalink

May 6, 2008

Why even the idea of Plant Rights is bad

Am I supposed to feel guilty because I eat salads and fruits? 

The Silent Scream of the Asparagus

This sounds like a joke but isn't.  What it does demonstrate is another way the rights you take for granted can be made subject to a bureaucrat's whim. 

What is clear, however, is that Switzerland's enshrining of "plant dignity" is a symptom of a cultural disease that has infected Western civilization, causing us to lose the ability to think critically and distinguish serious from frivolous ethical concerns. It also reflects the triumph of a radical anthropomorphism that views elements of the natural world as morally equivalent to people.
--
ts majority view holds that it would if the genetic modification caused plants to "lose their independence"--for example by interfering with their capacity to reproduce.

So much for breeding seedless Clementines or grafting hybrid wine grapes.

Belmont Club on the Plant Rights

Swiss lawyers are elaborating the doctrine of vegetable rights.
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Swiss Federal Ethics Committee on Non-Human Biotechnology to figure it out." In short, they are arguing that plants have inherent rights which humans can't transgress. It sounds ridiculous.
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who is really being "empowered" by the Swiss committee's decision? Is it plants? No. It is bureaucrats. The point of vegetable rights isn't to give plants dignity but to transfer yet more individual human freedoms to activists and government officials.

Deciding that individuals had power over themselves and the things around them was central to the development of human freedom -- and human rights
--

The point of legally empowering vegetables is not to give standing to a stalk of celery who might suddenly decide to appear in court, but to empower the bureaucrats and activist lawyers who will appear on their behalf. Today we already have spokesmen for Gaia. Tomorrow the lawyers from Brussels will be lawyers for brussels sprouts.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:04 AM | Permalink

April 19, 2008

Art at Yale

I didn't know what I was going to write about the horrifying , depraved and odious "art" project by the Yale University student.  Then I read Siggy's piece on Progressive Art and he says it all so I don't have to.

I'm just going to add a quote from Gerard

People have actually come to believe that labeling something "art" gives it a Get-Out-Of-Condemnation-Free card; that there really is some sort of immutable and unwritten social rule that if I say something is "art," then everyone who says what I am about is depraved, sick, and evil must simply back off. It matters little that time will consign the 'art' of Shvarts to the sewer of works that vanish. What matters is that in her little time here she has already managed to degrade the souls of others just a little more, just a little deeper.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:14 PM | Permalink

April 12, 2008

A Man and His Devices

 Self Portrait In Devices

My favorite self-portrait from the Top 10 Self-Portraits of Wired readers.

See them all starting here.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:31 AM | Permalink

April 10, 2008

The Chilling Effect of Richard Warman

The circus that's going on in Canada would be amusing but for the fact the Canadian right to free speech is being imperiled by kangaroo courts known as Human Rights Commissions where truth is no defense and due process rights don't exist.

Sean Murphy of the Catholic Civil Rights League aptly summed up one notorious case, in which, "a Christian printer is ordered to produce business cards and letterhead for an organization that promotes pro-pedophilia essays, is fined $5,000 for having refused to do so and is left with $40,000 in legal bills for daring to defend himself."

One man who ran a small restaurant was brought up on charges of human rights abuses because he dared ask a guy who was smoking a marijuana cigarette on his doorstep to move away.

Two transexuals are suing a prominent physician because he refused to perform labiaplasty on them on the grounds that he operates on biological females and doesn't have any experience in labiaplasty on men.

Doesn't this seem crazy to you? You may be wondering what human rights have these people violated.  Join the crowd.

The columnist Mark Steyn was caught up in the madness being called up before two on the CHRCs.  Yesterday the Ontario HRC dropped its investigation against Steyn and Maclean's magazine for printing an except of Steyn's book, America Alone, but not before saying they were guilty of Islamophobia, in what Steyn called a drive by conviction.  Freedom of speech and the presumption of innocence? Nah.

One man in particular is using those commissions as his private star chamber.  Richard Warman has made a profitable business by suing hapless Canadians for thought crimes, achieving a 100% conviction rate, and pocketing tens of thousands of tax-freedollars in awards from the Canadian human rights commissions where he used to be employed for his 'pain and suffering'.    Apparently, he has full access to the HRC investigations and he's perfectly free to use the HRC computers or to hijack the wireless network of a private citizen to pose hate messages on a white supremacist site that apparently wasn't hateful enough.  He is so litigious that the province of British Columbia had to pass a special law to stop him from suing libraries who carried books he didn't approve of.

Now, Warman is suing the Canadian bloggers who have been on his case and reported his nefarious shenanigans to the world, no doubt hoping for private settlements offline.  Not a chance with these folks

Kate McMillan of small dead animals had the effrontery of linking to allegedly libelous statements of Kathy Shadie who writes at five feet of fury and that's just what she's been, allowing Warman no quarter and no  cover for the nasty business he's been engaged in and the nasty piece of work he is.  When a Canadian senator, Anne Cools, announced her intention to intervene before the Supreme Court on the question of gay marriage, Warman posted a under pseudonym ( on Richard Lemire's Freedom site already under investigation because of a complaint Warman filed) that Senator Cools was a "n**ger "and a "c**t".    This revelation seems to be what sparked the lawsuits against Kate, Kathy, Free Dominion, the National Post and Ezra Levant who has posted all the details of the suit.

Steyn wrote yesterday about Global Warman
It's not possible to take a stand against the Canadian Human Rights Commission without also talking a stand against Richard Warman. He has been the plaintiff on half the Section 13 cases in its entire history and on all the Section 13 cases since 2002. There are 30 million Canadians yet only one of them uses this law, over and over and over again.

Make no mistake.  Warman is attempting to censor the free speech of Canadian bloggers by intimidation.
To defend themselves, the bloggers can expect to pay hefty legal fees.  Just the threat that some crazy person like Warman will sue them and you can expect other bloggers to begin, if they haven't already, to censor themselves.  It's called the chilling effect.  If Warman is  successful, if the HRCs are successful, we all lose. Not only will Canadians say or write what they think, the pattern will be attempted here in the USA. Free speech has to be defended and it has its costs.

Please consider, especially if you are a blogger, donating to their defense funds.  Each of them has a button on the site that you can click to donate even a small amount to show support.  Be part of the defense of free speech.

UPDATE:

      Cartoon Mr America
From blazing cat fur who calls such donations "Save the Canadian Blog Children Fund"
" Free speech is your God-Given Right, it should be theirs too"

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:59 PM | Permalink

April 4, 2008

Why you can't carry your coffee onto the plane

These are the British Muslims, now on trial for their conspiracy to detonate liquid explosives on transatlantic passenger flights, "all in the name of Islam."

     British Muslims

Airline terror plotters planned bigger 9/11

Their plans were allegedly so advanced that they had drawn up details of specific flights to be targeted and bought the components needed to make hydrogen peroxide bombs disguised as soft drinks such as Lucozade and Oasis.

But they were arrested before they were able to make "a violent and deadly statement of intent that would have truly global impact", a jury was told.
--
The alleged bombers had drawn up plans to attack seven Boeing 777, 767 and 763 aircraft, each carrying between 241 and 285 passengers and crew, operated by American Airlines, United Airlines and Air Canada, said Mr Wright.

The next time you have to dump your coffee and want to complain about the new restrictions on carrying liquids on airplanes, remember them and why the restrictions were imposed.

Let's not forget that In Britain, terrorism by Muslim fanatics has been renamed "anti-Islamic activity.

The head of MI5 has warned that 4000 Muslim fanatics are on the loose.  Terror attacks, he said, are part of a deliberate campaign by Al Qaeda.  Thankfully, they caught these eight.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:09 AM | Permalink

Gender Confusion

Thomas Beatie says (s)he has a very stable male identity, but (s)he appears to be a hopelessly confused woman who was artificially inseminated with sperm purchased from a sperm bank.

The proof - (s)he's pregnant.

Men don't get pregnant.  This is not a news flash.

(S)he is not a man, despite  an operation to remove her breasts and doses of testosterone to grow facial hair.    (S)he  harbored a desire to have a baby, so (s)he didn't have her reproductive organs removed.

 Pregnant Man

In Oregon, (s)he registered as a man, the state accepted that change and recognized her marriage to another woman.

Their decision to go public, I suspect, may have much to do with wanting to get a contract to write a book and now that they have been on Oprah who is collaborating with People magazine, a contract I'm sure is in the offing.

The sexes and their roles in propagating the species haven't changed; it's just that some people doing it have gotten more odd.  Medical technology can do all sorts of wonders to help people solidify their gender confusion, but it can't change reality and the basic laws of nature.

Now people may be willing to call her a 'man' because (s)he insists on it, but (s)he isn't and nothing (s)he says will change that.  (S)he's a freak of nature.

I feel sorry for the poor baby born to this couple.

If you want to see more pictures of the "pregnant man" who told Oprah (s)he feared her baby would be killed, click here.   

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:07 AM | Permalink

March 31, 2008

It came from outer space

Amazing work by scholars who have deciphered an ancient clay tablet that gives an eyewitness account of the asteroid suspected of destroying Sodom and Gomorrah reported in the London Times.

The asteroid was described as "white stone bowl approaching."

Mark Hempsell, one of the researchers from Bristol University who cracked the tablet’s code, said: “It’s a wonderful piece of observation, an absolutely perfect piece of science.”

He said the size and route of the asteroid meant that it was likely to have crashed into the Austrian Alps at Köfels. As it travelled close to the ground it would have left a trail of destruction from supersonic shock waves and then slammed into the Earth with a cataclysmic impact.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:46 AM | Permalink

March 20, 2008

'Spare parts for the rich'

The debate continues on whether desperate people should be allowed to pay people for their organs rather than depend on family members, the unfortunate death of someone unknown or the kindness of strangers, consider the traffic in organs in those countries where transplants are not regulated.

Organ business in Egypt 'worse than slavery'.

"It's the worst kind of business in Egypt. It's worse than slavery," said Queita, who had no comprehensive statistics but said that one Cairo clinic had a waiting list of 1,500 people willing to sell their organs.

"I don't want the poor turned into spare parts for the rich. ... People are coming from all over to buy organs in Egypt. They're mainly Gulf Arabs. If you're a rich man from the Gulf, you go to a private Egyptian hospital that has contacts with organ brokers. Serious cases of poverty in this country are causing an increase in the theft and sale of organs."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:56 PM | Permalink

March 15, 2008

More evidence of cellular memory

These stories always attract me.

My personality changed after my kidney transplant - and I started to read Jane Austen and Dostoesky instead of celebrity trash.

Examples cited as proof of cellular memory include a U.S. woman terrified of heights who became a climber and a seven-year-old girl who had nightmares about being killed after being given the heart of a murdered child.

The only case recognised by the scientific community is a 15-year-old Australian girl whose blood type changed following a liver transplant.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:08 AM | Permalink

1 in 4 teen girls have STD

By now pretty much everyone has heard that on 1 in 4 teen girls have STD.  About half of them have had sex and half of those are infected with a sexually transmitted disease.  Sadly, nearly half of the black girls studied have at least one STD while the rates among whites and Mexican-Americans was about 20%.

I can only infer that the toxic rap culture and the absence of fathers has done more to damage the lives of young women than I had imagined.  We are all the poorer for it.   

Education is not the answer if schools like those in Deerfield, Illinois, require students as young as 14, to read "Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes" with its graphic sexuality, profanity and racism. Gay literature in high schools.

Matt Barber, director of cultural issues with Concerned Women for America, said his jaw dropped when he read the book.

"This isn't a First Amendment issue. This is about school officials betraying the community trust. Heads need to roll here. Assigning this racist, pornographic smut to high school kids is nothing short of child abuse," Barber said.

Lora Sue Hauser, executive director of NSSA, complained that the book is replete with profanity, overt racism, an explicit description of a sex act involving Mother Teresa and vivid depictions of sodomy.

"After almost 15 years of school advocacy and reviewing many objectionable books and curricula, I have never seen anything this vulgar and harmful to students," Hauser said.

Juan Williams wrote in Banish the Bling

Have we taken our eyes off the prize? The civil rights movement continues, but the struggle today is not so much in the streets as in the home -- and with our children. ... there is also a far more sinister obstacle facing African American young people today: a culture steeped in bitterness and nihilism, a culture that is a virtual blueprint for failure.
--
With 50 percent of Hispanic children and nearly 70 percent of black children born to single women today these young people too often come from fractured families where there is little time for parenting. Their search for identity and a sense of direction is undermined by a twisted popular culture that focuses on the "bling-bling" of fast money associated with famous basketball players, rap artists, drug dealers and the idea that women are at their best when flaunting their sexuality and having babies.
--
Cosby asked the chilling question: "What good is Brown " and all the victories of the civil rights era if nobody wants them? A generation after those major civil rights victories, black America is experiencing alarming dropout rates, shocking numbers of children born to single mothers and a frightening acceptance of criminal behavior that has too many black people filling up the jails. Where is the focus on taking advantage of new opportunities to advance and to close the racial gap in educational and economic achievement?

Having grown up in the civil rights era and bought the dream, my greatest disappointment since has been the failure of black leadership who have kept grievance, not hope, alive and expedient.  I kept alive the hope that the strong culture of the black churches would present to young men and women an alternative way of life.    But I have been shocked and shaken after watching clips of Rev. Jeremiah Wright's sermons, filled as they are with hate towards whites, 'God damn America' and loopy conspiracy theories of the government starting the AIDS virus and inviting the attack on September 11.  What has he done for the children?

For all who saw in Barack Obama, the candidate with the promise of finally transcending race, the revelations of the hate-filled sermons of his pastor and spiritual advisor Jeremiah Wright, must come as a blow.  It has for me.

So long as political discussion is reduced to identity politics and biological markers of sex and race, the ability to deal with the truly important issues of creating a society where children are encouraged to develop individual responsibility, self-control and concern for others is severely compromised.

So long as the educational establishment teaches every imaginable biological variation of sex and not the emotional, psychological and spiritual consequences of having sex at too young an age, we will children who don't know there is more to sex than the physical act unless their parents or churches tell them about love.  They will certainly not find it in the popular culture.  Sad. Dispiriting. 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:05 AM | Permalink

March 12, 2008

Deliberate paralysis

Johann Hari: Botox is destroying Hollywood stars' ability to act

For a decade now, Hollywood acting has been slowly, steadily poisoned by a bacterium called Clostridium botulinum. This week, I was watching the hypnotically horrible new Coen brothers movie, No Country For Old Men, and I couldn't shake off the sense there was something different, something thrilling and vivid, about the performances of all the lead actors: Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem and Josh Brolin. It was only after half an hour of awe that I realised what it was. They can all move their faces.

Today, most actors in most movies have deliberately paralysed faces, incapable of registering anything.
--
This is, I'm sure, one reason why British actresses have been doing so well at the Oscars for the past 10 years: they haven't been facially paralysed. Helen Mirren, Judi Dench and – this year, in the achingly sad Away From Her – Julie Christie have accepted the potential richness that comes from worry-lines and crows' feet. They use them. They know they suggest depth and richness and life.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:43 PM | Permalink

February 4, 2008

Hope and Vote

This has to be one of the best political videos I have ever seen.

I can't help but think that much of the change desired is  to be rid of the stranglehold boomers have held on politics, culture, and education for such a long time. 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:02 PM | Permalink

December 21, 2007

Signs of the Times

UC Irvine investigated reports of the destruction of a Holocaust memorial, swastikas defacing campus property, rock throwing at a Jewish student, and the verbal harassment of Jewish students with such statements as " 'slaughter the Jews,' 'dirty Jew,' 'go back to Russia,' 'burn in hell,' and 'f_ _king Jew and concluded they were based on opposition to Israeli policies and were not anti-Semitic provocations.

In the meditation room at Normandale Community College, a public institution in Bloomington, Minnesota, a barrier divides the men's prayer space from the women's prayer space where women are instructed to cover their faces, a schedule for Islam's five daily prayers is posted next to the sign requesting that shoes be removed.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:01 AM | Permalink

December 4, 2007

Signs of the Times -2

Typewriter Causes Street Closure as No One Knows What They Look Life Any Longer in Sarasota, Florida.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:25 PM | Permalink

November 27, 2007

DNA Nebula

The image I couldn't post on How Are You Fixed for Spit? is this one of the newly-discovered DNA Nebula.

 DNA Nebula .jpg

Only last year did we first get a glimpse of this nebula which is 80 light years long and lies near the enormous black hole at the center of our Milky Way.

Mark Morris, professor of physics and astronomy at the University of California said

Nobody has ever seen anything like that before in the cosmic realm.

Most nebulae are either spiral galaxies full of stars or formless, amorphous conglomerations of dust and gas—space weather. What we see indicates a high degree of order.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:05 PM | Permalink

November 13, 2007

Signs of the Times - 1

  Bible Hotel Room

So long, Gideons.  For decades, hotels have provided bibles in their guest rooms that they have gotten free from Gideon International. Many hotels are no longer providing bibles in their guest rooms as they have for decades, the edgier ones replacing them with "intimacy kits".

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:23 PM | Permalink