August 24, 2015

What happens when a whole way of life disintegrates before your eyes?

What Tolkien and Lewis teach us about surviving dark times

Augustine lived through such a time. The men coming home from World War One did as well. It might feel as if we’re living through such a time right now.  One way to navigate treacherous times is to learn from those who have traversed similar moments before. And a penetrating new book by historian and King’s College professor Joseph Loconte can help us do exactly that.

A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War takes us into the wartime lives of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. More importantly, it takes us into their postwar lives as well. How did they cope? How did they rebuild? And how did they help others do the same?

The trauma of the Great War is almost impossible to comprehend. More than sixteen million were killed. That again plus five million more were wounded. And those who recovered physically were often irreparably scarred in other ways. Shell shock, what today we would call PTSD, had longterm effects. Suicide and alcoholism often finished what bullets and bombs could not.  According to one contemporary study of shell-shocked American, “[S]even years after the war less than 40 percent were regarded as functioning normally, and nearly 20 percent were found to be a burden to society.”

But the far-reaching crisis of faith may have surpassed all others. For those that endured it, the cataclysm and its aftermath was like the end of the world. What was left to believe in?  Writes Loconte,

For the intellectual class as well as the ordinary man on the street, the Great War had defamed the values of the Old World, along with the religious doctrines that helped to underwrite them. Moral advancement, even the idea of morality itself, seemed an illusion. . . . [T]he war to make the world safe for democracy, the holy war to advance Christian ideals, was an unholy delusion.
The pre-war Myth of Progress….was proclaimed from nearly every sector of society. Scientists, physicians, educators, industrialists, salesmen, politicians, preachers—they all agreed on the upward flight of humankind. Each breakthrough in medicine, science, and technology seemed to confirm the Myth….. And then it all went to hell.

When the survivors cleared the rubble, many mistook the Myth for Christianity itself and tossed both in the garbage bin.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:34 PM | Permalink

December 18, 2013

IBM's predicts the future five years from now

IBM reveals its five predictions for our world in 2018

The classroom will learn you - smarter classrooms will use cloud data to learn about students and identify learning disorders immediately.

Buying local will beat online -  shops will combine the convenience of online shopping in physical stores and same-day delivery will improve.

Doctors will routinely use your DNA to keep you well -  By using advancements in DNA research, doctors will be able to uniquely identify how a certain cancer or disease will affect a person. Treatments and medications will become more tailored and waiting times will drop.

A digital guardian will protect you online - Passwords will be replaced by devices that learn who a person is, how they behave and what sites they use. They will grant access automatically to that person, but also be able to identify unusual or suspicious activity automatically.

The city will help you live in it - Governments will be able to use data about its residents movements, needs and more to improve cities and towns, including schools and transport routes.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:15 PM | Permalink

November 21, 2013

Kennedy was killed by a communist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why does the Kennedy assassination still provoke so much controversy?

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

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

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

July 17, 2013

Coober Pedy worth $20 Trillion

Massive Oil Discovery Challenges Saudi Reserves

An intelligence brief said that a small Australian town called Coober Pedy has A$ 20 trillion worth of shale oil--the biggest find in 50 years.  The oil deposit is estimated to be six times larger than the Bakken, 17 times the size of the Marcellus formation, and 80 times larger than the Eagle Ford shale.

The recently discovered Arckaringa Basin, located just outside the sleepy Australian town, contains more oil more than in all of in Iran, Iraq, Canada, or Venezuela.  With current estimates at 233 billion barrels, its just 30 billion shy of the estimated reserves in all of Saudi Arabia.

 Cooper Pedy Map

Coober Pedy is an inhospitable speck on the map in Southern Australia. Founded in 1915, Coober Pedy had long been the home to 1,700 people who lived in residences literally carved out in its caves.

Now another 20,000 people have suddenly flocked there, making it one of the hottest real estate markets in all of Australia.

Encompassing an area in excess of 30,000 square miles, what's buried within the Arckaringa basin is enough black gold to completely change the global oil landscape-not to mention the lives early investors.

Analysts now believe ground zero will be much like is was in Saudi Arabia in the 1950's. And according to the inner circle briefing below by Dr. Moors, there's one little company that controls the whole thing.

 Coober Pedy Photo

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:04 PM | Permalink

April 4, 2012

Why are so many girls with no medical disorder growing breasts early?

They are growing up too quickly before childhood development is completed.

Puberty Before Age 10: A New 'Normal"?

In the late 1980s, Marcia Herman-Giddens, then a physician’s associate in the pediatric department of the Duke University Medical Center, started noticing that an awful lot of 8- and 9-year-olds in her clinic had sprouted pubic hair and breasts. The medical wisdom, at that time, based on a landmark 1960 study of institutionalized British children, was that puberty began, on average, for girls at age 11. But that was not what Herman-Giddens was seeing. So she started collecting data, eventually leading a study with the American Academy of Pediatrics that sampled 17,000 girls, finding that among white girls, the average age of breast budding was 9.96. Among black girls, it was 8.87
Well-respected researchers at three big institutions — Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, Kaiser Permanente of Northern California and Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York — published another study in Pediatrics, finding that by age 7, 10 percent of white girls, 23 percent of black girls, 15 percent of Hispanic girls and 2 percent of Asian girls had started developing breasts.
So why are so many girls with no medical disorder growing breasts early? Doctors don’t know exactly why, but they have identified several contributing factors.

Girls who are overweight are more likely to enter puberty early than thinner girls....animal studies show that the exposure to some environmental chemicals can cause bodies to mature early. Of particular concern are endocrine-disrupters, like “xeno-estrogens” or estrogen mimics.....Family stress can disrupt puberty timing as well. Girls who from an early age grow up in homes without their biological fathers are twice as likely to go into puberty younger as girls who grow up with both parents. Some studies show that the presence of a stepfather in the house also correlates with early puberty.
Evolutionary psychology offers a theory: A stressful childhood inclines a body toward early reproduction; if life is hard, best to mature young. But such theories are tough to prove.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:43 AM | Permalink

March 9, 2012

The Spanish rebellion against the EU has begun

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard writes Spain's sovereign thunderclap spells the end of Merkel's Europe

The Spanish rebellion has begun, sooner and more dramatically than I expected.

As many readers will already have seen, Premier Mariano Rajoy has refused point blank to comply with the austerity demands of the European Commission and the European Council (hijacked by Merkozy).

Taking what he called a "sovereign decision", he simply announced that he intends to ignore the EU deficit target of 4.4pc of GDP for this year, setting his own target of 5.8pc instead (down from 8.5pc in 2011).

In the twenty years or so that I have been following EU affairs closely, I cannot remember such a bold and open act of defiance by any state. Usually such matters are fudged. Countries stretch the line, but do not actually cross it.

There comes a point when a democracy can no longer sacrifice its citizens to please reactionary ideologues determined to impose 1930s scorched-earth policies. Ya basta.

What is striking is the wave of support for Mr Rajoy from the Spanish commentariat.

This one from Pablo Sebastián left me speechless.

My loose translation:
"Spain isn’t any old country that will allow itself to be humiliated by the German Chancellor."
"The behaviour of the European Commission towards Spain over recent days has been infamous and exceeds their treaty powers… these Eurocrats think they are the owners and masters of Spain."

"Spain and other nations in the EU are sick and tired of Chancellor Merkel’s meddling and Germany’s usurpation – with the help of Sarkozy’s France and their pretended "executive presidency" that does not in fact exist in EU treaties."

"Rajoy must not retreat one inch. The stakes are high and the country is in no mood to suffer humiliations from a Chancellor who is amassing all the savings of Europe and won’t listen to anybody, as if she were the absolute ruler of the Union. Merkel and the Commission should think hard before putting their hand into the sovereignty of this country – or any other – because it will be burned."
This then is the fermenting mood in the fiercely proud and ancient nation of Spain in Year III of depression, probably the worst depression the country has seen since the 1640s – or have I missed a worse one?

As for the "Fiscal Compact", it is rendered a dead letter by Spanish actions.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:32 PM | Permalink

February 11, 2012


 Agemaps Bobby Neal Adams

The family portraits that age you... in a split-second

Photographer's 20-year project puts together series of amazing pictures of his relatives without using Photoshop
Some are spliced with younger selves - while others combine parents with their children

The incredible series of pictures called AgeMap is a 20-year project by Bobby Neel Adams, who also merges portraits of family members into one image in his Family Tree series.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:45 PM | Permalink

October 30, 2011

Life reports for those lost in transition

David Brooks is asking people over 70 to send him their Life Reports.

I’d like you to write a brief report on your life so far, an evaluation of what you did well, of what you did not so well and what you learned along the way. You can write this as a brief essay or divide your life into categories — career, family, faith, community, and self-knowledge — and give yourself a grade in each area.

--  First, we have few formal moments of self-appraisal in our culture. Occasionally, on a big birthday people will take a step back and try to form a complete picture of their lives, but we have no regular rite of passage prompting them to do so.

More important, these essays will be useful to the young. Young people are educated in many ways, but they are given relatively little help in understanding how a life develops, how careers and families evolve, what are the common mistakes and the common blessings of modern adulthood. These essays will help them benefit from your experience.

I'll be very interested in the series of essays he plans to write around Thanksgiving about the life reports he gets.  Life reports are very much the sort of thing I have envisioned that people would leave in their personal legacy archives.
This may be the most important way you can pass on what you've learned about life.  In A Generation Detached, Naomi Schaefer Riley reviews Lost in Transition by Christian Smith

According to sociologists, what we used to think of as adolescence has been extended now through one’s twenties, thanks to higher rates of college attendance, greater job insecurity, a longer period of financial dependence on parents, reliable contraception, and (relatedly) delayed marriage. Perhaps the delayed age of marriage (now a median of twenty-six for women and twenty-eight for men) is the most symbolic of these elements. This postponement of marriage is a sign, we say colloquially, that men and women are afraid of commitment. And according to Lost in Transition these young people are unwilling or unable to commit to anything at all.

Lost in Transition provides a detailed cultural profile of a generation that is completely disengaged.  In addition to being detached from their romantic (or simply sexual) partners, most of these young adults are also detached from their churches, their local communities, and their country.

According to the authors,
  they are not only not engaged in politics, they are also not big on volunteering and voluntary financial giving. . . . They are so focused on their own personal lives, especially on trying to stand on their own two feet, that they seem incapable of thinking more broadly about community involvement, good citizenship, or even very modest levels of charitable giving. -- Despite their lack of understanding and interest in the world around them, these emerging adults, Smith and his collaborators insist, are not unintelligent. Rather, the authors argue, no one has taught them to ask questions about morality or to think about what is important in life. Smith and his coauthors blame, at least in part, “the tolerance-promoting, multiculturalist educational project” for some of these problems.
It’s not surprising that emerging adults have been so taken with materialism. As the authors explain, “Having freed people from the formative influences and obligations of town, church, extended family, and conventional morality, American individualism has exposed those people to the more powerful influences and manipulations of mass consumer capitalism.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:34 PM | Permalink

August 24, 2011

Need wise counsel? Try a philosophical counselor

Going through a difficult transition? Need some life advice?  Not satisfied with what your therapist can give you?  Don't need or want medication?  You just want wise counsel?

You may want to consider a philosophical counselor, one who relies on the eternal wisdom of great thinkers.

Patricia Anne Murphy is a philosopher with a real-world mission.

 Patricia Anne Murphy

Murphy is one of an increasing number of philosophical counselors, practitioners who are putting their esoteric learning to practical use helping people with some of life’s persistent afflictions. Though they help clients cope with many of the same issues that conventional therapists do — divorce, job stress, the economic downturn, parenting woes, chronic illness and matters of the heart — their methods are very different.

They’re like intellectual life coaches.
Not everyone needs to be medicated,” said Murphy, a thin woman with long, gray hair. “Whereas drugs can treat the body,” she said, “there may be other things that the soul needs.”

in her snug Takoma Park bungalow, she’s helping a broken-hearted patient struggle through a divorce.  Instead of offering the wounded wife a prescription for Effexor — which she’s not licensed to do anyway — she instructs her to read Epictetus, the original cognitive therapist, who argued that humans often mistake their feelings for facts and suffer as a result.
In 2010, the philosophy department at City College approved the creation of a master of arts degree in applied philosophy, which will include a specialization in philosophical counseling. It will be at least a year before the program starts accepting students. It is the first such program in the United States and the second in the world; the University of Sevilla in Spain instituted the first master of arts degree in philosophical counseling.
One 35-year-old District woman, who sought treatment because she was trapped in a tortured marriage and having an affair, described herself as the perfect patient for Marinoff’s band of philosophers.

“I wasn’t depressed or fighting bipolar disorder. I didn’t need Paxil. I just needed the skills to think clearly about what went wrong, said the woman, who works in graphic art. “I heard online about these shrink-thinker types who used John Milton, Adam Smith and Socrates, and I called right away. I wanted to know how our greatest minds would see my situation.”
“You can go on the Internet and find 100 people who are giving you advice,” Barnhill said. “But there are thinkers who are recognized for their knowledge, and ignoring them in our generation just seems like such a loss.”

Sean Holland, 37, is a self-described “philosopher in pinstripes” who has a PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and now works for a corporation based in New York. His focus is on ethical issues for companies. He also hopes to one day be a philosophical counselor.

“I was trying to find a decent job in this economy, and I found that philosophy is actually back as a respected profession,” Holland said. “We are trained problem-solvers and, in a way, we can launch a return to an old set of skills that are very much needed today.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:36 PM | Permalink

August 7, 2011

"What is irrational and irresponsible is the assumption that we can go on as we are"

In Europe and America, it's the same problem: there will never be enough money to  pay for what we promised.

A very incisive piece by Janet Daley in the London Telegraph, If we are to survive the looming catastrophe, we need to face the truth.

The idea that a capitalist economy can support a socialist welfare state is collapsing before our eyes.

The truly fundamental question that is at the heart of the disaster toward which we are racing is being debated only in America: is it possible for a free market economy to support a democratic socialist society? On this side of the Atlantic, the model of a national welfare system with comprehensive entitlements, which is paid for by the wealth created through capitalist endeavour, has been accepted (even by parties of the centre-Right) as the essence of post-war political enlightenment.
Contrary to what the Obama Democrats claimed, the face-off in Congress did not mean that the nation’s politics were “dysfunctional”. The politics of the US were functioning precisely as the Founding Fathers intended: the legislature was acting as a check on the power of the executive.
The Tea Party faction within the Republican party was demanding that, before any further steps were taken, there must be a debate about where all this was going. They had seen the future toward which they were being pushed, and it didn’t work. They were convinced that the entitlement culture and benefits programmes which the Democrats were determined to preserve and extend with tax rises could only lead to the diminution of that robust economic freedom that had created the American historical miracle.

No, it is not just the preposterousness of the euro project that is being exposed. (Let’s merge the currencies of lots of countries with wildly differing economic conditions and lock them all into the interest rate of the most successful. What could possibly go wrong?)

Also collapsing before our eyes is the lodestone of the Christian Socialist doctrine that has underpinned the EU’s political philosophy: the idea that a capitalist economy can support an ever-expanding socialist welfare state.
We have arrived at the endgame of what was an untenable doctrine: to pay for the kind of entitlements that populations have been led to expect by their politicians, the wealth-creating sector has to be taxed to a degree that makes it almost impossible for it to create the wealth that is needed to pay for the entitlements that populations have been led to expect, etc, etc.

The hardest obstacle to overcome will be the idea that anyone who challenges the prevailing consensus of the past 50 years is irrational and irresponsible. That is what is being said about the Tea Partiers. In fact, what is irrational and irresponsible is the assumption that we can go on as we are.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:19 PM | Permalink

July 26, 2011

"Anything but silence seems to cheapen the suffering"

"Anything but silence seems to cheapen the suffering"

Walter Russell Mead, From Norway to Hell

The ghastly, shocking news from Norway has stunned the whole world.  Empathy for the young victims and their families, horror at the cold blooded and deliberate evil behind this act, and fearful wonder at the depths of madness it reveals are all joined together. We Godbotherers will be bothering God about this, asking for his compassionate and merciful presence in the lives of those who must now begin a lifetime’s journey in the presence of unspeakable grief.

To respond to events of this kind is a challenge.  The tragedy is so great that anything but silence seems to cheapen the suffering, but it also demand some kind of response.

There are some trying to draw some political conclusion about left and right from the massacre; I would like to go deeper.  This tragedy doesn’t just speak to the state of cultural politics in our time, or remind us (as it surely does) that evil has a home in every human culture and human heart; it challenges some of our deepest beliefs about where the world is headed.
The Norwegian horror says less about any shortcomings in Norwegian life and culture than about modern life generally.  It reminds us of the profoundly unsettling truth that modernization may lead to more violence and more death than ever before.  Modernization is not just more golden arches and more bloggers.  It is also about accelerating social change.  Capitalism drives technological change and technological change feeds on itself the more of it we have, the more we get.
This accelerating, unpredictable and destabilizing change can cause individuals and social groups to become unhinged: to lose their way in the confusion and mystery of modern life.  Blue collar factory workers lose their jobs by the millions; some adapt, some endure, a few go postal.  The upper middle class feels the earth shake beneath its feet as old certainties are challenged and old ways of making a living cease to work.  Most go about their business; some, like Ted Kaczynski, flip out to the Dark Side.

The only conclusion that makes sense to me is that human beings are stuck in a condition of radical uncertainty.  Something big and earth shaking is going on around us, but the information we have does not allow us to predict where it all goes.

In my view, this is one of the reasons that belief in a transcendent power beyond the human mind is intellectually necessary to grapple successfully with the realities of our time. When the determinist progressives threw God under the bus, they threw away the possibility of an integrated world view that has room both for scientific and rational analysis on the one hand and a honest, unsparing appraisal of the radical uncertainty around us on the other.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:53 PM | Permalink

February 23, 2011

Radical suits race to the bottom

Chris Cantrell on Radical Suits and Their Suckers

A better name for "community organizer" is "radical suit," because community organizers are really the lefty version of the corporate suits that fly in to the plant in their executive jets, issue just enough ridiculous orders to prove that they haven't a clue, and then head back to the FBO and the next gig.

Not to get too Marxist about this, but we are talking about the inevitability of a law of history.  The productive forces are changing, and the social superstructure is going to have to change too.  The liberal and the radical suits can help their Big Unit followers through the change or they can drive them into the ditch.  It's their choice.

Via Instapundit, natch.

What a great and fitting term is "radical suit".    And, yes,  I do think we are undergoing a radical restructuring of our social infrastructure  as Walter Russell Mead so persuasively argues in Race to the Bottom?

Is America in a race to the bottom, or are we going through what the Austrian born economist Joseph Schumpeter would call a process of “creative destruction”?
For many Americans, the changes in our society — stagnant or falling real wages for non-supervisory employees, cutbacks in public services, rising costs of medical care, an affordability crisis in higher education and on and on — look like the consequences of what is often called “the race to the bottom.” 
Blue collar workers have been getting the shaft since 1973; white collar workers are starting to get the same treatment now.  Two of the same forces that drove down blue collar wages are starting to hit professionals: competition from overseas and the use of technology to raise productivity so that fewer workers are needed to do the same amount of work.
Tens of millions of Americans aren’t just reading about American decline; they are living American decline.  Access to middle class jobs is getting harder — and the jobs still around are less stable.  Public services are slowly declining; cash strapped states and towns can’t provide the kind of education that could open more doors.  Roads and bridges aren’t being maintained.  Retirements are less secure.  Health care is more problematic than ever as insurance prices rise — and fewer jobs offer decent plans.  College tuition has exploded; we have a generation of college students carrying mortgage-sized student loans even as they scramble for elusive jobs in a snakebit economy.
And there’s more.  The wealthiest in our society have gradually been pulling away from the rest of us — not just because so many of them are getting so rich, but because more of them are focused on the global economy and the health of the global system than on the prosperity of the United States of America. 
I wrote in my first post on Madison that
I don’t think that restructuring state government is about the race to the bottom: it’s the way to avoid a race to the bottom. 
The key to success is obvious: we need to continue to raise productivity throughout the economy.  If productivity goes up quickly enough, wages can rise here even if they are falling elsewhere.  This is getting harder; productivity is both easier to measure and to raise in manufacturing than in services.
In particular we are going to have to look at health, government, education and the legal industry.
What we’ve got to do here is to deploy technology and aggressive, creative reform and restructuring to health, education and government. 
Staffs are going to have to shrink in ways that are simply unimaginable to present day government workers and their union leaders. Outsourcing government functions to private business will be a growth industry; in some cases the work will be outsourced overseas but in many others, the necessary expenses of all levels of government can and should be used to promote the growth of entrepreneurial small business rather than the maintenance of large bureaucracies.
The educational system is also going to change in ways the unions and the guilds can’t imagine — and will fight to the death.  Going forward, students need to be evaluated and credentialed on the basis of what they know, not on the basis of time served. 
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:05 PM | Permalink

February 15, 2011

The importance of cleaning up

Mark Krikorian notes an important cultural moment about the Egyptian protests: they cleaned up after themselves.

“I came to clean but could barely find anything to clean,” said Jehan Agha, 32, of the upscale Mohandseen neighborhood, who was pulled into duty checking bags and doing body searches at one entrance to the square. “I’ve never seen people care about Egypt like this – people from all walks of life, ages and religions. It’s a new beginning and I hope it doesn’t end today or the next day.”
Anyone who’s been to the third world has seen trash strewn everywhere. This isn’t because less-developed countries produce more trash; in fact, they produce less. And it’s also not just because of lack of money for a proper waste-disposal infrastructure. Rather, it’s the product of a lack of civic consciousness and responsibility, without which ordered liberty is impossible.

Bill Walsh remarks

An Egyptian professor I heard speak the other day related three observations from her sister who participated in the protests (how long, I don't know). First was the fact that, although everyone was packed into the place, she wasn't groped once, which surprised her, given the endemic problem Egypt has had in that regard. Second was the protestors' emphatic cross-religious solidarity. Muslims would surround Christians at prayer, and vice versa. (This was both symbolic and to give people a second or two more to get off their knees if the skull-cracking brigade showed up.)

Last was the fact that young men with their pants rolled up were periodically going by with buckets and bottles of water and cleaning the ground of the square. She tried to explain the import of this for non-Egyptians. She said that everyone (herself included) who goes go Egypt notes the squalor of the public spaces, despite the fact Egyptians generally keep their homes very clean. She blamed it on the lack of civic-mindedness that Krikorian cites, but rooted that in egyptians' alienation from public life, dominated as it was by unaccountable thugs like Mubarak. She said (I paraphrase)
"You may not be able to understand what a big deal this is for Egyptians to reclaim public space like this—not only is it spontaneous civil order, but they're (consciously or not) saying 'This is our home.'"

Just hearing that story, a 70-something Egyptian professor concurred in its import, expressing his joyful surprise and saying, "I don't know if you could see it, but I was tearing up just hearing that. Egyptians know what this means."
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:01 AM | Permalink

February 8, 2011

"All it takes is a traumatic brain injury"

I never knew this about the homeless

David Bornstein in the Opinionator on the nature of homelessness.

One of the jolting realizations that I had while researching this column is that anybody could become like a homeless person — all it takes is a traumatic brain injury. A bicycle fall, a car accident, a slip on the ice, or if you’re a soldier, a head wound — and your life could become unrecognizable. James O’Connell, a doctor who has been treating the most vulnerable homeless people on the streets of Boston for 25 years, estimates that 40 percent of the long-term homeless people he’s met had such a brain injury. “For many it was a head injury prior to the time they became homeless,” he said. “They became erratic. They’d have mood swings, bouts of explosive behavior. They couldn’t hold onto their jobs. Drinking made them feel better. They’d end up on the streets.”

But he finds real hope
When I asked Rosanne Haggerty, the founder of Common Ground, which currently operates 2,310 units of supportive housing (with 552 more under construction), what had been her biggest surprise in this work, she replied: “Fifteen years ago, I would not have believed that people who had been so broken and entrenched in homelessness could thrive to the degree that they do in our buildings.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:21 AM | Permalink

February 1, 2011

"So solid a comfort, so durable a satisfaction"

In a review of the new book Never Say Die, Joseph Epstein at first credits the author Susan Jacoby for her role as "reality instructor".

--as a contributor on old-age health matters to the AARP bulletin and other magazines and newspapers, she feels that in the past she often idealized aging. "One of the reasons I am writing this book," she avers, "is that I came to feel, especially as I saw the real, not-for-prime-time struggles of much older friends, that I was presenting a half-truth that amounted to a lie."

...A longtime feminist, Ms. Jacoby expresses anger at her sisters for ignoring the plight of aging for women, especially women living alone. A majority of women will outlive their husbands—two-thirds of those over 85 in America today are women—with diminished finances and in terrible loneliness. "Old age," she writes, "is primarily a women's issue." She also underscores—no surprise here—that aging is even more difficult for the poor, of either gender.

But he wearies at her constant tirade

So complete is her attack that she is not prepared to allow the one possible reward of old age, which is the potential for acquiring wisdom through experience. Depression rather than wisdom, she holds, is more likely to be the lot of the old.

He turns to Cicero who, as Montaigne wrote, "gives one an appetite for old age".

Of course old age, bringing with it diminished strength and desires, cannot do some of things youth can; of course old age makes one more prone to illness and disease—parts, after all, do wear out; of course old age puts one closer to death. But weighed beside these serious detractions, Cicero contended, are the opportunities old age brings for "the study and practice of decent, enlightened living," accompanied by a calm that youth, and even middle age, do not allow.

----As for the attribution of such faults among the old as being morose, ill-tempered, avaricious and difficult to please, Cicero claimed, rightly, that "these are faults of character, not of age."

For Susan Jacoby, the answer to the increasing numbers of old, poor, sick, lonely women lies in benevolent care by the government and doctor assisted suicide when one has lived too long.

For me, that is more fanciful and pernicious than belief in God.

Ms. Jacoby makes no effort to hide or even subdue her politics, which, as you will have already gathered, are liberal, standard left-wing. Brought up a Catholic, she long ago shed any belief in God or the supernatural..

And so, she utterly fails to comprehend the consolations that a strong belief in God can bring. For those who have grown in their faith, aging becomes a natural monastery where one detaches from the things of the world to focus increasingly on God and eternity.

Compare what a blind monk has to say. in the gorgeous movie, ."Into Great Silence (Two-Disc Set)"

“The closer one brings oneself to God, the happier one is. The faster one hurries to meet him. One should have no fear of death. On the contrary! For us, it is a great joy to find a Father once again. … The past, the present, these are human. In God there is no past. Solely the present prevails. And when God sees us, he always sees our entire life. And because He is an infinitely good being, He eternally seeks our well-being. Therefore, there is no cause for worry in any of the things which happen to us. I often thank God that he let me be blinded. I am sure that he let this happen for the good of my soul… It is a pity that the world has lost all sense of God. It is a pity…They have no reason to live anymore. When you abolish the thought of God, why should you go on living on this earth? … One must (never) part from the principle that God is infinitely good, and that all of his actions are in our best interest. Because of this a Christian should always be happy, never unhappy. Because everything that happens is God’s will, and it only happens for the well-being of our soul. Well, this is the most important. God is infinitely good, almighty, and he helps us. This is all one must do, and then one is happy.”

Here's what Cicero has to say On the Immortality of Souls in his Discourse on Old Age which I believe should be required reading for anyone afraid of aging and of death.

" Cicero's Cato major, or discourse on old age. Addressed to Titus Pomponius Atticus. With explanatory notes. By Benj. Franklin, LL.D."

For nature appears to me to have ordained this station here for us, as a place of sojournment, a transitory abode only, and not as a fixed settlement or permanent habitation.

But oh the glorious day, when freed from this troublesome rout, this heap of confusion and corruption below, I shall repair to that divine Assembly, the heavenly Congregation of Souls!
Now these, my friends, are the means (since it was these you wanted to know) by which I make my old age sit easy and light upon me; and thus I not only disarm it of every uneasiness, but render it even sweet and delightful.

But if I should be mistaken in this belief, that our souls are immortal, I am however pleased and happy in my mistake; nor while I live, shall it ever be in the power of man, to beat me out of an opinion, that yields me so solid a comfort and so durable a satisfaction.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:09 PM | Permalink

January 2, 2011

The Splintering of Black America

In The Great Unraveling,  Raymond Arsenault reviews the new book by Eugene Robinson, Disintegration, The Splintering of Black America

[Robinson] demonstrates rather convincingly that no one belongs to the black community anymore. The race-based community that was a fixture of American life for generations — the traditional locus of racial experience and solidarity, the idealized entity that many of us still refer to, indeed still cling to, as an institutional and social reality — no longer exists. That, in a nutshell, is the thesis of this slim but powerful book.

During the past four decades, Robinson persuasively argues, black America has splintered into four subgroups: the Transcendent elite; the Mainstream middle class, which now accounts for a majority of black Americans; an Emergent community made up of mixed-race families and black immigrants from Africa and the Caribbean; and the Abandoned, a large and growing underclass concentrated in the inner cities and depressed pockets of the rural South.

Divided by economics and culture, these four groups have little in common and little reason to identify with one another. For better or for worse — and Robinson offers strong evidence for both positive and negative effects — the ethos of racial solidarity that served blacks well during the Jim Crow era and the civil rights struggles of the 1950s and ’60s is gone. Thus, continued references to “black leaders” or the “black agenda” make no sense and serve only to obscure the complexities of race in a vast, multicultural nation.

"Disintegration: The Splintering of Black America" (Eugene Robinson)

This book is full of facts, figures and telling anecdotes related to the disintegration of black America, but its real power resides elsewhere. Sometimes writers tell us something familiar — something that we already know, or that we should know — but they do it in such a creative and cleareyed way and with such force that we begin to see things differently independent of any new information. This is exactly what Eugene Robinson has done in “Disintegration.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:22 PM | Permalink

January 1, 2011

Happy New Year everyone

"And now let us welcome the new year, full of things that have never been."

Rainer Maria Rilke


The story behind this Cloud Angel

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:19 PM | Permalink

December 31, 2010

The Old Year, Auld Lang Syne


The year has become old and exhausted. Most of us are looking forward to a New Year, a fresh start and new possibilities.   

Many will make New Year's resolutions even though those resolutions will 'barely last longer than a week'.

Before the old year is gone, take a look back and list your top ten or twelve moments of the year that you want to remember. Take a look back through your calendar if you must.

It's so easy to forget as the years roll on, but if you make a list at the end of each year, you'll be memorializing those moments, those people you met you want never to forget. You'll be glad you did. Now, next year and much later in your life. If you do this every year, you will have memories like a string of pearls, all from your lists.

As Peggy Noonan writes today

The question it asks is clear: Should those we knew and loved be forgotten and never thought of? Should old times past be forgotten? No, says the song, they shouldn't be. We'll remember those times and those people, we'll toast them now and always, we'll keep them close. "We'll take a cup of kindness yet."

Now is the best time to do it for Auld Lang Syne.

Should old acquaintance be forgot,

and never brought to mind ?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and old lang syne ?

For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we'll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.
And surely you'll buy your pint cup !
and surely I'll buy mine !
And we'll take a cup o' kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:59 AM | Permalink

December 30, 2010

The Balm of Silence

I love snowstorms and snow days for the quiet they bring. The Anchoress is right. For 2011: Unwrap the Silence

We have allowed silence to become a gift forgotten, one we only consent to unwrap when all of our alternative bows and strings have been unraveled, and our diversions have been utterly played out. Our inability to be silent puts our minds and our souls at a disadvantage, because it robs us of the ability to wonder, and if we are not wondering at the impossible perfection of the world in its creation—if we are not wondering at spinning atoms and Incarnations—then we are lost to humility, and to experiencing gratitude.

And, without gratitude, we cannot develop a reasoned capacity for joy.

_aurora_borealis_Iceland .jpg

Sereba Davies reviews the new BBC Two series on The Great Silence which she calls both moving and profound.

This three-part series not only discusses Catholicism but also offers the agnostic an intelligent way in to understanding some of its fundamental ideas, without taking on the full panoply of organised religion. It suggests, instead, that we be silent.

Father Christopher Jamison, the Abbot of Worth and star of BBC Two’s The Monastery a few years ago, believes that silence is the window to the soul, and the soul the window to God. In the series, Father Christopher invites five volunteers to spend a week at St Beuno’s, a Jesuit Centre in Wales, not speaking.

She compares what she sees in the series

In the programme, after middle-aged entrepreneur John, voluble mother of two Trish and the others finally calm down enough to shut up – something which takes most of episode one – the attention they are forced to pay to themselves starts to have an effect. All five recruits get very upset, facing losses and traumas they’ve had to brush under the carpet. Neither Trish nor advertising executive Carrie have given themselves the space to grieve for their deceased fathers; John has an adolescence of abuse still to get over. Now they have to face doing so.

with her experience on Buddhist Vipassana silent retreats and finds similarities

On the face of it, with their hours of sitting stock still, these demand something very different from the Bible reading and prayer that takes place at St Beuno’s. But despite the difference in activities, this welling up of emotions was also my experience and that of those around me. The silence, it seems, may be a critical element in both practices, despite their different trappings.

What is astonishing is what happens after their emotional unburdening, every one of these agnostics, if not atheists, went on to have some sort of spiritual revelation.

The third phase of deep silence, after you’ve listened a while to your restless thoughts, and then observed the emotions that arise when you give them space, involves a wonderful sense of peace which is remarkable in its contrast to the petty anxieties that normally govern our lives

Is silence a necessary pre-condition to this wonderful sense of peace? It would seem so and yet we do everything we can to avoid it because initially it makes us so uncomfortable.   

No Silence, Please, We're Americans writes Tim Muldoon.

There's noise everywhere. In our homes are screens and speakers with images and sounds of every sort. There are signs outside, along the roads, in the stores, on automobiles. There are screens in gas stations, in doctors' offices, restaurants. There are speakers in airports, on elevators, in our cars. We are bombarded by externally-generated thoughts that muscle in on our own. And often they simply replace our own: hence the tendency to brand our Facebook pages with favorite songs, movies, TV shows, and so on, which allow us "plug and play" personalities. In such a context, silence is like withdrawal.

And there's the rub: we've become addicted to noise, anything that distracts us from cultivating the practice of careful thinking, reflection, and its natural consequent: prayer. For when we think, and reflect upon the things we think about, one effect is a sense of wonder at it all.

Muldoon says most of us perceive silence as alien and do everything we can to avoid it.

Distraction is normal in our culture. Contemplativeness, silence and solitude are not.

This is not a new phenomenon.

Blaise Pascal, a gambler, mathematician, physicist, writer and Catholic philosopher wrote in his Pensees, that great masterpiece of French prose published  after his death in 1670:

" I have often said that the sole cause of man’s unhappiness is that he does not know how to stay quietly in his room, "

"Christianity for Modern Pagans: Pascal's Pensees" (Peter Kreeft, Blaise Pascal)

What is it like to read Pascal these days? Peter Kreeft describes it in the preface to his book.

It is like a roller coaster or an Irish country road or like an underwater cave: you don't know what to expect....Suddenly, without warning, an arrow pierces your heart. You instantly become very, very quiet. You stop breathing. Time stand still. You listen, really listen. To your heart. Pascal no longer speaks from the page of a book, or from history, from the past. It is exactly as if you were haunted, possessed by his ghost.

And you know, you just absolutely know, you have touched the Truth.

What happened to time is the question Kreeft posed to most every one he met for years and no one gave him an adequate answer until he read Pascal's answer.

We want to complexify our lives. We don’t have to, we want to. We wanted to be harried and hassled and busy. Unconsciously, we want the very things we complain about. For if we had leisure, we would look at ourselves and listen to our hearts and see the great gaping hole in our hearts and be terrified, because that hole is so big that nothing but God can fill it.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:12 PM | Permalink

December 6, 2010

Are we all doomed?

Max Hastings writes We're all doomed!!! We still haven't woken up to how much poorer the West is going to be in the future...
One of the most important lessons I have learned as a historian is that, until something earth-shaking happens, even informed and intelligent people find it hard to imagine that their comfortable daily lives could suddenly be wrenched out of true, familiar landmarks swept aside. Human beings are creatures of habit: we assume that what was yesterday, and is today, will still be so tomorrow.
The world will probably come out the other side of its current troubles — but only probably. We are living in more dangerous times than the world has known since at least the Fifties. Even the most enlightened seers do not dare to prophesy how the story will end.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:00 AM | Permalink

November 26, 2010

"The Euro Game is Up!"

He's a member of the European Parliament, a Euro-skeptic from Great Britain by name of Nigel Farage.
Here's part of what he said

Untold millions must suffer so that your euro dream can continue. Well it won't work, because it's Portugal next. With their debt levels of 325 percent of GDP they are the next ones on the list, and after that I suspect it will be Spain, and the bailout for Spain would be 7 times the size of Ireland, and at that moment all the bailout money has gone - there won't be any more.

But it's even more serious than economics, because if you rob people of their identity, if you rob them of their democracy, then all they are left with is nationalism and violence. I can only hope and pray that the euro project is destroyed by the markets before that really happens.
The Daily Express has become the first national newspaper to call for Britain to leave the European Union. Britain is Better Off Out.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:25 PM | Permalink

September 25, 2010

Maine Family Robinson

My wife and I noticed the utter breakdown of enormous parts of the lives of average Americans, the destruction or subversion of many formerly useful institutions, and a general retreat to barbarism masquerading as progress. We decided to change our lives a while ago, and not unlike the Swiss Family, the last three or four years took even the last lifeboat we found ourselves in and smashed it on the rocks. We have reinvented ourselves, and we'll tell you how we're doing it, if you're interested.

Greg Sullivan who  "hurls essays at the Internet like gigantic curses"  at Sippican Cottage, now "happily stranded" in  Western Maine is telling his story of Maine Family Robinson  and I'm not going to miss a chapter of it.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:59 PM | Permalink

September 1, 2010

Back to School Advice

If you have a child or two  going to college this fall, tuck a copy of Walter Mead's essay Back to School into their luggage so they will take his very good advice with them.

And so, dear students, welcome back!  Your generation is going to have dig its own way out of the hole my generation has dug for you (thanks for the Medicare, kids, and sorry about the deficit!), but here are a few tips that may help you get the best out of your college years.
1. The real world does not work like school.

2. Most of your elders know very little about the world into which you are headed.

3. You are going to have to work much, much harder than you probably expect.

4. Choosing the right courses is more important than choosing the right college.

5. Get a traditional liberal education; it is the only thing that will do you any good.

6. Character counts; so do good habits.

7. Relax.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:13 PM | Permalink

August 24, 2010

"The future of search is verbs"

Esther Dyson on the Future of Internet Search

Bill Gates uttered one of the smartest things he has ever said: “The future of search is verbs.” But he said it at a private dinner and it never spread.
when people search, they aren't just looking for nouns or information; they are looking for action. They want to book a flight, reserve a table, buy a product, cure a hangover, take a class, fix a leak, resolve an argument, or occasionally find a person, for which Facebook is very handy.
They mostly want to find something in order to do something.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:02 AM | Permalink

August 19, 2010

Hidden traps on campus

There are many hidden financial and privacy traps that Karen Blumenthal in the Wall St Journal warns parents about in Packing for College, 2010 Style

Among them:

1. Not reading what the college health insurance policy covers and doesn't.

2. Not having your college student sign a health care power of attorney as well as a HIPAA release form.

3. Not getting insurance riders for that brand new computer for college.

4. Not getting clear about how money will get to the student.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:13 PM | Permalink

March 9, 2010

From Jihad to Jesus

A most remarkable interview in the Wall St Journal over the weekend of the 'Son of Hamas', "They Need to Be Liberated From Their God'. 

Mosab Hassan (Joseph) Yousef is the son of Sheikh Hassan Yousef, a founding leader of Hamas, the terrorist organization, and he tells his story of how he went from Jihad to Jesus while spying for Israel and shaming his family.

Mr. Yousef tells me that he was horrified by the pointless violence unleashed by politicians willing to climb "on the shoulders of poor, religious people." He says Palestinians who heeded the call "were going like a cow to the slaughterhouse, and they thought they were going to heaven." So, as he writes in the book, "At the age of twenty-two, I became the Shin Bet's only Hamas insider who could infiltrate Hamas's military and political wings, as well as other Palestinian factions."

"I converted to Christianity because I was convinced by Jesus Christ as a character, as a personality. I loved him, his wisdom, his love, his unconditional love. I didn't leave [the Islamic] religion to put myself in another box of religion. At the same time it's a beautiful thing to see my God exist in my life and see the change in my life. I see that when he does exist in other Middle Easterners there will be a change.
As the son of a Muslim cleric, he says he had reached the conclusion that terrorism can't be defeated without a new understanding of Islam. Here he echoes other defectors from Islam such as the former Dutch parliamentarian and writer Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

Do you consider your father a fanatic? "He's not a fanatic," says Mr. Yousef. "He's a very moderate, logical person. What matters is not whether my father is a fanatic or not, he's doing the will of a fanatic God. It doesn't matter if he's a terrorist or a traditional Muslim. At the end of the day a traditional Muslim is doing the will of a fanatic, fundamentalist, terrorist God. I know this is harsh to say. Most governments avoid this subject. They don't want to admit this is an ideological war.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:41 AM | Permalink

March 16, 2009

"You’re going to have a smaller house, and a smaller car — if not a basement flat and a bus ticket"

Mark Steyn on The Brokest Generation

Our kids are the ultimate credit market, and the rest of us are all pre-approved!

the future of all our children is that they’ll be paying off the past of all their grandparents.
This is the biggest generational transfer of wealth in the history of the world. If you’re an 18-year old middle-class hopeychanger, look at the way your parents and grandparents live: It’s not going to be like that for you. You’re going to have a smaller house, and a smaller car — if not a basement flat and a bus ticket. You didn’t get us into this catastrophe. But you’re going to be stuck with the tab, just like the Germans got stuck with paying reparations for the catastrophe of the First World War. True, the Germans were actually in the war, whereas in the current crisis you guys were just goofing around at school, dozing through Diversity Studies and hoping to ace Anger Management class. But tough. That’s the way it goes.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:12 AM | Permalink

January 24, 2009

'Because when you guys are my age, the whole thing is going to fall apart.'

I don't know about you, but I'm getting awfully nervous about all these bailouts and stimulus plans.

Cary Doctorow at Boing Boing says the Bailout costs more than the Marshall Plan, the Louisiana Purchase, the moonshot, S&L bailout, Korean War, New Deal, Vietnam war and NASA's lifetime budget COMBINED.

There seems to be no shame I just wonder how Merrill Lynch paid out $15 billion in bonuses after it took $10 billion from TARP.  John Carney calls it Wall Street's Sick Psychology of Entitlement

Even the sharpest critics of the bailout never imagined that it would be used to make wealthy idiots even wealthier.

It seems to have embarrassed Bank of America sufficiently that they have shown the door to former Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain.
Mr. Thain resigned from Bank of America on Thursday following news that Merrill Lynch had rushed out its year-end bonuses, paying them just before Bank of America completed its acquisition of Merrill Lynch and sought $20 billion in additional government bailout money.

Nick Gillespie says
taxpayers now guarantee some $8 trillion in inscrutable loans to a financial sector that collapsed from inscrutable loans.

Political interference seen in bank bailout decisions
"It's totally arbitrary," says South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford. "If you've got the right lobbyist and the right representative connected to Washington or the right ties to Washington, you get the golden tap on the shoulder," says Gov. Sanford, a Republican.

Instapundit hit a bullseye when he wrote
This is not so much a stimulus, as a massive transfer of wealth from the politically unconnected to the politically connected.

It's a good thing that the majority of boomers plan on working in retirement, because more and more will have no other choice,

I want some TARP, they're giving money away for free

Ann Rand Poster

After reading Atlas Shrugged: From Fiction to Fact in 52 years by the senior economics editor of the Wall St Journal, the book seems prescient.
For the uninitiated, the moral of the story is simply this: Politicians invariably respond to crises -- that in most cases they themselves created -- by spawning new government programs, laws and regulations. These, in turn, generate more havoc and poverty, which inspires the politicians to create more programs . . . and the downward spiral repeats itself until the productive sectors of the economy collapse under the collective weight of taxes and other burdens imposed in the name of fairness, equality and do-goodism.

A few weeks ago I started a post entitled "What are we afraid of".  I didn't publish it because it was all too depressing, so instead I just focused on just how big is a trillion.    But I want to include some quotes by the Anchoress
I wonder if we are finally moving past the adolescent angst, and the numbness, and ... simply waking up to the fact that a bunch of loud, exploitative so-called “friends” crashed the house, called it a party, drank all the liquor, cracked Mom’s prize crystal egg and then decided to have a tug-of-war donnybrook on the front lawn before toilet papering the trees, puking and passing out. The press? Some “friends.” Congress? Some “statesmen.”

Hungover, we’re stumbling around, and realizing that if we do not start demanding adult behavior, adult leadership, less spin and a little honesty, not only from our leadership and our “elites” but from each other, we’re not going to be around to demand much of anything, of anyone.

She in turn quotes Peggy Noonan
In terms of public support, Mr. Obama shouldn't get too abstract. He should be thinking hardhats. People want to make their country stronger—literally, concretely, because the things they fear (terrorism, global collapse) are so huge and amorphous. Lately I think the biggest thing Americans fear, deep down—the thing they'd say if you could put the whole nation on the couch and say, "Just free associate, tell me what you fear?"—is, "I am afraid we will run out of food. And none of us have gardens, and we haven't taught our children how to grow things. Everything is bought in a store. What if the store closes? What if the choke points through which the great trucks travel from farmland to city get cut off? I have two months of canned goods. I'm afraid."

But it was this anecdote that Peggy Noonan told in 2005 that really got me.
Do people fear the wheels are coming off the trolley? Is this fear widespread? A few weeks ago I was reading Christopher Lawford's lovely, candid and affectionate remembrance of growing up in a particular time and place with a particular family, the Kennedys, circa roughly 1950-2000. It's called "Symptoms of Withdrawal." At the end he quotes his Uncle Teddy. Christopher, Ted Kennedy and a few family members had gathered one night and were having a drink in Mr. Lawford's mother's apartment in Manhattan. Teddy was expansive. If he hadn't gone into politics he would have been an opera singer, he told them, and visited small Italian villages and had pasta every day for lunch. "Singing at la Scala in front of three thousand people throwing flowers at you. Then going out for dinner and having more pasta." Everyone was laughing. Then, writes Mr. Lawford, Teddy "took a long, slow gulp of his vodka and tonic, thought for a moment, and changed tack. 'I'm glad I'm not going to be around when you guys are my age.' I asked him why, and he said, 'Because when you guys are my age, the whole thing is going to fall apart.' "

Mr. Lawford continued, "The statement hung there, suspended in the realm of 'maybe we shouldn't go there.' Nobody wanted to touch it. After a few moments of heavy silence, my uncle moved on."

Lawford thought his uncle might be referring to their family--that it might "fall apart." But reading, one gets the strong impression Teddy Kennedy was not talking about his family but about . . . the whole ball of wax, the impossible nature of everything, the realities so daunting it seems the very system is off the tracks.

And--forgive me--I thought: If even Teddy knows . ..

Atlas shrugged.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:12 AM | Permalink

August 25, 2008

Global amnesia

A woman goes to bed as 32 -year-old mother of one and wakes up a 15-year-old.

The next morning, I woke into a nightmare. I was convinced I was my 15-year-old self. Distressed and confused, I wondered why I wasn't in my comfy lower bunk bed, covered in a pink Marilyn Monroe bedspread, sharing a room with my sister. ....

Yet here I was in a two-bedroom council house with a room full of books, a cat and an 11-year-old son I didn't recognise. In those first hours, I paced my bedroom convinced I was going mad. I can remember looking in the bathroom mirror and starting to scream. Through the eyes of a 15-year-old, what I saw was horrifying; who was this ageing woman with crow's-feet, spots and bags under her eyes?

I woke up in the future.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:03 AM | Permalink

May 24, 2008

Pampered Pregnancy

Pregnancy used to be something camouflaged and endured, nine months of achy backs and euphemisms and elastic waistbands with a 7-pound 9-ounce reward at the end.

Not anymore. For a certain kind of mom with a certain kind of priority, pregnancy is a heady blur of spa visits and personal pregnancy chefs, of baby planners and "babymoons." Pregnancy is not a journey. Pregnancy is a destination, a showplace.

Greater Expectation: Luxury Services for Pregnant Women are Booming

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:31 PM | Permalink

January 21, 2008

A Retreat to Recharge

It was just luck that six months ago I had scheduled a retreat at St.Joseph's Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts. 

After two weeks of the flu, I needed some time to re-energize and get back on track before I took up again all the things I had to do.

So I looked forward to some time with the Trappist monks, to put my ordinary concerns aside, to get away from it all including the Internet and reconnect with my inner self.    I wasn't  disappointed.

 St. Joseph's Abbey Winter

"What was it like?" a friend asked when I got back yesterday.

"Like honey," I said.

It was slow.  Time expanded in a miraculous way.  I had plenty of time to read "St. Augustine Confessions (Oxford World's Classics)" , a book I always meant to read but never got around to.  Time too to take long walks and long naps.

It was sweet,  the atmosphere one of concentrated holiness and peace.  The meals delicious and taken in silence while we listened to tapes of John Shea, a gifted spiritual writer on the Gospel of St.Luke.

It was beautiful.  The monks, no matter the age, all work to make the community self-supporting.  At St. Joseph's they are most famous for their Trappist Preserves.

  Trappist Preserves

No matter what they wear as they work and some wear blue jeans,

 Making Preserves St Joseph's Abbey

when they gather for song and prayers, seven times a day, they put on their monk's robes.

 Monks Vestry St. Joseph's

And when they sing ancient psalms and antiphons,  they are as one, joining with monks around the world and in ages past in a timeless singing of praise and thanksgiving.    To hear them them is to be lifted up in a sublime experience of beauty.

It's said that monasteries are powerhouses of prayer and spiritual energy.  All I know is there is no better place to recharge.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:08 PM | Permalink

January 1, 2008

Happy New Year

I wish everyone, most especially my dear readers, a New Year filled with more of that of which we never tire - more truth, more beauty,  more goodness, more love.

Life is short and we have never too much time for gladdening the hearts of those who are traveling the dark journey with us. Oh be swift to love, make haste to be kind.
Henri Frederic Amiel

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:06 AM | Permalink

A New Year Dawns

"For last year's words belong to last year's language
And next year's words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning."
-- T.S. Eliot

  Morning Glory Cloud
A new year dawns, witness the meteorological phenomenon known as the Morning Glory cloud

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:00 AM | Permalink

December 26, 2007

On the second day of Christmas

Too busy with cooking, baking and family gatherings to post before Christmas, I hope you all had a wonderful and joyful Christmas. 

I've also very much enjoyed the many best wishes and special Christmas links that so many bloggers have posted.

Since I believe in celebrating all twelve days of Christmas, at least through the New Year,  I have for you a few little gifts that you may have overlooked in the rush to get ready for the first day of Christmas.

First,  An Arabic Christmas Carol (Byzantine Hymn of the Nativity) with gorgeous images from  Syria, Egypt and Bethlehem you've never seen before.


Today, is born of a virgin, He who holds the whole creation in his hand
He whose essence none can touch is bound in swaddling clothes as a Child
God, who in the beginning established the heavens, lies in a manger.

An Arabic Christmas Carol was written in response to the The Hymn by Chaldean Catholic Priest-Martyr  which you'll find on YouTube.

I'm pleased that so many Iraqi Christians packed the churches for Christmas Mass, which would have been unthinkable just a year ago.

"Last year was the year of misery, desperation and sadness,  But this year is better. So many people attend the Mass and you can see that their praying was joyful."

Many Muslims joined Christians in celebrating this most joyful day with the newly installed Roman Catholic Cardinal Delly, patriarch of Iraq's ancient Chaldean Church who said during the service

"Iraq is like a garden and its beauty is the variety of its flowers and scent,"

Among those attending were several Shiite Muslim sheiks, including Raad Tamimi, who said they had come "in solidarity with our Christian brothers . . . to plant the seed of love again in the new Iraq." Tamimi, a tribal leader, was excited to shake the cardinal's hand and asked that a photo be taken with his cellphone.

Jameel Hamouda, 55, who attended the Christmas services, said four of his family members had left Iraq, but that he was hopeful they would return.

"This is the first time the Muslim figures like sheiks and Shiite clerics attended the Mass," Hamouda said. "I feel happy and my soul filled with peace. God willing, there will be a union."

In this video, the beautiful Majida Al Roumi sings Silent Night in English, Arabic & French, but you have to turn the volume way up.

Surprisingly, the day after Christmas is celebrated in the Catholic Church as the Feast of St. Stephen, the first martyr of the young Church. 

Gil Bailie says that more Christians have been killed in the past 100 years than the sum total killed in all the years since Jesus Christ was born some 2000 years ago.

Sadly, many of the Catholics in the Mid East face persecution.  The war in Iraq and follow-on extremist violence  of some Muslim extremists made many more Christians martyrs and caused tens, if not hundreds  of thousands to flee the country for Syria and Jordan  and only now, after the surge, are some beginning to return;

And in the Holy Land, most of the Christians have fled Bethlehem and Gaza's Christians, Living in Fear

So this Christmas, it's good news that writing from prison, Sayyed Imam al-Sharif, one of Al Qaeda's senior theologians, is calling on his followers to end their military jihad.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:25 AM | Permalink

December 21, 2007

"It was like getting a letter from myself, but with a different life."

The extraordinary story of  The twins bought up on either side of the Iron Curtain...but who lived identical lives.

And the similarities between the two sisters continue to amaze them. "As children, we both loved art and painting, chose the same subjects at school and both went into the same career, event management, which unites our creative and practical sides. And we each had our first children, both daughters, when we were 19," says Conny.

"We both married young, at 18 and 19, I think because we were so desperate for closeness with someone. But funnily enough, since we found each other, we've both got divorced from the men we married as teenagers.

"We're both now living happily with new partners instead and have had younger children with them.

  Twins, German, Separated

"I've got three children, aged 20, 17 and eight, and Ulrike has four, aged 20, 16, six and two. We even both like the same colour schemes in our houses and often meet up wearing the same or near-identical outfits.

"We've had the same hairstyle as each other - long hair - all our adult lives and wear the same make-up.

They were separated by the East German state policy that twins have no right to stay together even if one of the adoptive family wanted to take them both.  The other family had no idea they were getting a twin.

The twins feel an unrelenting fury at the communist apparatus that separated them, but have been unable to find an individual to hold responsible.

"It's so obviously wrong, unethical and immoral to separate two babies who were meant to be together. We're identical twins - why split us up, especially when people wanted to adopt both of us?" says Conny.

"We both feel so much anger at the system that kept us apart for so long. But since we found each other, we're so full of joy that the idea of trying to take any sort of action against the adoption agency seems a negative way to spend our precious time.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:52 AM | Permalink

November 9, 2007

Family businesses doing great, except...

A recent study finds that family businesses are increasingly led by women and expect robust growth, yet many will likely face financial problems because they have not prepared for managerial and ownership succession, nor have they prepared an personal estate plan.

Family businesses, increasingly led by women, need succession and financial planning.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:48 AM | Permalink

July 10, 2007

Health Roundup

People with moles age more slowly than others. It's the telomeres.

A drug called varenicline in a single pill could curb smoking and drinking.  Made by Pfizer, varenicline has already been proven safe for people.  Because the drug works on the same receptors in the brain to block the release of dopamine that pleasurable sensation that reinforces addiction, what's been proven safe for nicotine addiction may well work for alcohol addiction.

A simple scratch and sniff test to detect Alzheimer's disease in its earliest stages may be coming since a Poor Sense of Smell May be Alzheimer's

Too many jellyfish in Japan caused problems, even a blockage at a nuclear plant.  Now those wily Japanese have found that jellyfish mucus  is perfect for cosmetics

New ink for tattoos using advanced microcapsulation technology promises that it can be removed later on when the people tattooed come to their senses in only one laser session.  100% Freedom. Zero Regret.

You Breathe What You Eat.  Asthma severity linked to diet poor in vitamins C and E and omega-3 fatty acids,

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:05 PM | Permalink

May 3, 2007

Clean Fuel from Beer Waste

Scientists and Australian beer maker Foster's are teaming up to generate clean energy from brewery waste water — by using sugar-consuming bacteria.
The battery produces electricity plus clean water, said Prof. Jurg Keller, the university's wastewater expert.

"It's not going to make an enormous amount of power — it's primarily a waste water treatment that has the added benefit of creating electricity," Keller said.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:44 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

April 11, 2007


Through their imaginative visions, artists can give us hints of possible  futures our society, but satirists do it best.  Think Animal Farm, 1984, Jonathan Swift, the Onion and Steven Colbert.

Christopher Buckley's new book, Boomsday,  comically depicts the coming intergenerational war as boomers retire and collect on their entitlements funded by an increasing taxes on younger folks.

Robert Samuelson takes note that 'Boomsday' is Approaching

Cassandra Devine knows how to solve the coming "entitlements'' crisis, preordained when the 77 million baby boomers begin hitting 65 in 2011: Pay retirees to kill themselves, a program she calls "transitioning.'' Volunteers could receive a lavish vacation beforehand ("a farewell honeymoon''), courtesy of the government, and their heirs would be spared the estate tax. If only 20 percent of boomers select suicide before the age of 70, she says, "Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid will be solvent. End of crisis.''

OK, Devine is a 29-year-old fictional blogger in Christopher Buckley's satirical novel "Boomsday.''
Buckley's comic tale revolves around two truths usually buried in our dreary budget debates.

First, a generational backlash is inevitable...
Second, boomers will want even more benefits.

Baby Boomers,'' says Buckley's Devine, "made self-indulgence a virtue.'' Sure, that's a stereotype, but for opinion leaders and politicians, it is uncomfortably accurate

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:26 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

February 2, 2007

Change or Die

From Fast Company comes The Three Keys to Change, an excerpt from Alan Deutschman's new book  Change or Die

This isn't a another self-help book, but a serious explanation why people don't or can't change, why heart attack victims don't take their medicines or why prisoners once released commit crimes again and go back to prison.

Why is it so hard to change?

Facts don't seem to help.
Fear doesn't either.
Few can change and transform themselves on their own.

Alan writes the keys to change are relate, repeat and reframe.

The first key - Relate

You form a new, emotional relationship with a person or community that inspires and sustains need the influence of seemingly "unreasonable" people to restore your hope--to make you believe that you can change and expect that you will change.

The second key - Repeat

The new relationship helps you learn, practice, and master the new habits and skills that you'll need. It takes a lot of repetition over time before new patterns of behavior become automatic and seem natural--until you act the new way without even thinking about it. It helps tremendously to have a good teacher, coach, or mentor to give you guidance, encouragement, and direction along the way.

The third key - Reframe

The new relationship helps you learn new ways of thinking about your situation and your life. Ultimately, you look at the world in a way that would have been so foreign to you that it wouldn't have made any sense before you changed.

New hope, new skills, new thinking.

Robert Paterson calls it a revelatory book with the key to change to be found in the human heart.

Alan has reviewed the vast body of literature on what works in therapy to help people confront and then move through their belief barriers to a better life. There seems to be many different approaches that work. One on one. Groups etc. But the one thing that the successful paths had in common was a person who truly, sincerely believed in the capability of the other to make the change. This open hearted person often knew this before the subject did. The magic that crossed over was that truth of the feeling that this person loves me for whom I am now in all my misery. He loves me for me now not for what I should be. He sees in me the person that I can and could be. He gives me the gift of hope.

I would add only that the change in the heart takes place only in relationship, be it another person like a football coach, a group like AA or God.  In that relationship you are not only loved for who you are,  you are given the support to become what you can be.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:45 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

January 16, 2007

Dorian Gray on YouTube

Talk About Life Changes.  This is creepy.

Jackson's face change on YouTube.

It reminds me very much of the only novel Oscar Wilde wrote, The Picture of Dorian Gray.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:39 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

September 1, 2006

Gone Sightseeing

I forgot to tell you all that I'm taking a break at least until after Labor Day, probably until September 8 or 9.  I'm doing a lot of traveling and sightseeing from Denver to Boulder to San Francisco to Seattle. 

Since I want to stay outside in the last of the summer weather, I 'm taking a vacation from the virtual world until I can come back refreshed and renewed.

You all get outside too and enjoy the end of summer.  Like life, summer seems endless and then it flies by before you know it.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:47 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

August 18, 2006

The 9/11 generation

Traveling 1400 miles across generations  via the Corner

Some call those born after 1980 the 9/11 generation. Sept. 11 is a fixture but not a fixation. It has been a fact of childhood that terrorists threaten civilization, and may always, but that life goes on.

The 9/11 generation is both traditional and iconoclastic. Talking heads often depict it as selfish and disengaged, often symbolized by the empty pursuits of Paris Hilton. In fact, according to social scientists, Generation Y has a respect for community and authority that makes it more akin to the 18-year-olds on the beaches of Normandy than the Y Generation's baby boomer parents

"This generation, the baby boomlet, is a very odd generation," said Rachel Kleinfeld, 30, the founding director of the Truman National Security Project, a Democrat think tank. "They are much more sexually conservative than the generation before them. They are much more religious than the generation before them. They are very community-oriented. Their numbers on community orientation are like those of the greatest generation, the World War II generation. They are extremely loving of their parents. Many of them call their parents their best friends. And they are also very respecting of authority, but not all types of authority."

For instance, the 9/11 generation respects the military but not the traditional news media or government institutions. If you were born after 1980, you are likely to gather your impressions of the world as much through MySpace as any front page.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:07 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

August 17, 2006

Steyn on the Future of Civilization

No one writes better on the decline of Western civilization than Mark Stein, It's breeding obvious, mate

The question posed here tonight is very direct: “Does Western Civilization Have A Future?” One answer’s easy: if western civilization doesn’t have a past, it certainly won’t have a future. No society can survive when it consciously unmoors itself from its own inheritance. But let me answer it in a less philosophical way:

Much of western civilization does not have any future. That’s to say, we’re not just speaking philosophically, but literally. In a very short time, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and other countries we regard as part of the western tradition will cease to exist in any meaningful sense. They don’t have a future because they’ve given up breeding.

Seventeen European nations are now at what demographers call “lowest-low” fertility – 1.3 births per woman, the point at which you’re so far down the death spiral you can’t pull out. In theory, those countries will find their population halving every 35 years or so. In practice, it will be quicker than that, as the savvier youngsters figure there’s no point sticking around a country that’s turned into an undertaker’s waiting room.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:24 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

August 5, 2006

Make Your Own Electricity

With the costs of electricity so high and getting higher, with more and more appliances, devices, computers, peripherals all demanding their share from the grid, the idea that you could produce all the electricity that you need is very appealing.

Springwise brings news of consumer-generated power using small wind turbines you can install on your roof.    Beginning this month, Skystream energy introduces the Skystream 3.7 that promises to reduce or eliminate your monthly electrical bills by producing electricity  quietly in very low winds.

It will take a while for state and local governments to allow such individual windmills, but I'm betting that over the next couple of decades, the American landscape will be dotted with tall, skinny, silver skystreams.     

So much for the home heliport.  But what about the birds?

The Winds of Change indeed.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:19 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

June 1, 2006

Bereavement Fares Dying

The next time you get a call that a relative is seriously ill or has died and you want to fly out for the funeral, don't count on getting a bereavement fare from the airlines.

From the Wall St Journal, Airlines Curb Bereavement Fares (subscribers only)

The special fares are the latest casualty of the airline industry's troubles. Eliminating bereavement tickets is part of a wider cost-cutting strategy by airlines that has led to the disappearance of everything from in-flight amenities such as meals and blankets to other discounted fares such as those for seniors, students and children.

But while taking pillows and pretzels off planes may annoy travelers, yanking fares aimed at helping grieving passengers strikes some as particularly harsh. Still, some airlines -- and even some travelers -- say that because fares have dropped so low in recent years, the bereavement deals are no longer needed. Indeed, they are often more expensive than last-minute fares available on discount airlines or via travel Web sites.
With the disappearance of bereavement fares, fliers aren't only losing potential discounts, they are losing flexibility, too. Bereavement tickets typically allow fliers to change the time and dates of their flights as often as they wish, with no penalty. That kind of flexibility is particularly crucial for travelers who don't know when they need to be someplace for a surgery or funeral. Without bereavement fares, travelers who need to change their tickets multiple times can be hit with steep fees.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:04 PM | Permalink

May 25, 2006

Intergenerational households

Grandparents head 62% of multi-generational households which are are growing faster than any other type.

Now 4% of all types, multi-generational households grew by 38% from 1990 to 2000.

Families Add 3rd Generation to Households
A variety of cultural factors also draw and keep relatives together. Multigenerational living, especially those in which grandparents care for their grandchildren, have long been common in Asian and Hispanic countries, and the arrangement is popular among immigrants from those nations. Also driving the trend are — who else? — active baby boomers who want to be involved in the lives of their offspring and who see little appeal in flying off to a Sun Belt retirement in isolation.

Are these helicopter parents just slightly older?

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:28 AM | Permalink

May 23, 2006

When rice is a luxury

The first rule of the Business of Life is to stay alive. We are now learning from the first North Korean defectors who arrived in Los Angles how difficult that can be.

Greeted by members of a church coalition that pressed for their safe passage, they tell of famine, enslavement, torture and repression.

One refugee
recalled his astonishment upon seeing the abundance of food even in the rural areas just across the river from North Korea. Dogs were being given rice porridge to eat, he recalls, "big bowls of it." Rice is a luxury in North Korea, he said, eaten only on one's birthday and New Year's.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:48 PM | Permalink

May 22, 2006


American researchers have coined a new term. Middlescents are those workers between 35 and 54 who have burned themselves out.

Work Stressful? You may be a middlescent

The middlescent is frustrated, confused and exasperated, finding themselves leaving work feeling "burned out, bottlenecked and bored".

"It is a critical time for people and they have to rethink their whole life. Should they be less ambitious? Should they spend more time with their family?

"The critical time for that used to be well into your 50s, now it's getting younger.

It's what used to be called a mid-life crisis, but it seems to be happening earlier now. I think highly educated people who live in this world of abundance we enjoy today have more opportunities for identity crises throughout their lives. That's a good thing because it's usually a crisis that forces you to assess your life and find new meaning and passion.

I came across this quote today from Peter Drucker and it's such a good question that it's worth asking repeatedly over time.

"What can you and only you do, that if done well, can make a real difference."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:19 PM | Permalink

May 3, 2006

Down and Out in Palm Springs

The poor in America are richer than the poor anywhere else. And the homeless in Palm Springs live better than the homeless anywhere else in the U.S.

Down and Out in Palm Springs

 Down And Out In Palm Springs

Via Boing Boing

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:32 PM | Permalink

April 18, 2006

Max Headroom Creator made Roswell alien

People believe in all sorts of crazy things and nefarious conspiracies for reasons far beyond me. .

Today at least, we can put to rest any question that aliens crashed a UFO in Roswell N.M. in 1948.

Max Headroom Creator Made Roswell Alien

THE creator of Max Headroom, a 1980s television cyber-presenter, has claimed he was one of the hoaxers behind the Roswell film, the grainy black and white footage supposedly showing a dead alien being dissected by American government scientists after a UFO crash.

John Humphreys, a sculptor and consultant on Alien Autopsy who has also worked on special effects for Doctor Who, said it was he who made the models for the alien dissected in the original fake footage.

Rather than being shot in 1947 near Roswell in the New Mexico desert as previously claimed, the film was actually made at a flat in Camden, north London, in 1995.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:55 PM | Permalink

April 16, 2006

Tipping Point with Rudeness

What happens when you reach a tipping point with rudeness and you just don't want to put up with it anymore?

Well, if you want some civility get thee to New York City.

know I was surprised to learn New York Leads Politeness Trend? Get Outta Here.

Somehow a city whose residents have long been scorned for their churlish behavior is now being praised for adopting rules and laws that govern personal conduct, making New York an unlikely model for legislating courtesy and decorum.

"Most people just seem to ignore common sense and common courtesy so it does have to be legislated," she said. "To have this happen in New York is going to inspire a lot of other people. I cannot applaud it enough. My hands are tired from clapping."

• no cellphones in movies, theaters and concerts
• $50 fine if subway riders put their feet on a seat.
• owners responsible for cleaning up after vandals
• smoking ban in bars, restaurants and nightclubs
• new stiffer noise code
• penalties for sports fans who throw things on the field or spit at the players
• parents can be ejected from Little League games for "unsportsmanlike" conduct

Can't come fast enough for me. Otherwise we will see the rise of the Howling Mob where some children have no conception how to act.

The four teenaged punks who chased an NYU student into the path of an oncoming car looked and laughed as he lay on the street dying, a prosecutor revealed yesterday.
"They didn't call for an ambulance. They didn't call for help. Rather, they stood on the street corner and laughed," prosecutor Joel Seidemann said of the 13- and 15-year-olds who chased Broderick John Hehman into traffic.

Hehman, 20, died four days later from his massive head injuries.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:44 PM | Permalink

April 12, 2006

Genetic Bounty

Genetic testing is not just for finding out your family's ancestry.

Says sociologist Troy Duster, "It's about access to money and power." Some call it the "American Indian Princess" syndrome where families are looking for ways to validate their children's eligibility for race-based admissions or government entitlements.

Seeking Ancestry in DNA Ties Uncovered by Tests
Naturally when you're applying to college you're looking at how your genetic status might help you," said Mr. Moldawer, who knows that the twins' birth parents are white, but has little information about their extended family. "I have three kids going now, and you can bet that any advantage we can take we will."

It may be only natural then that ethnic ancestry tests, one of the first commercial products to emerge from the genetic revolution, are spurring a thorough exploration of the question, What is in it for me?
Prospective employees with white skin are using the tests to apply as minority candidates, while some with black skin are citing their European ancestry in claiming inheritance rights.

This is the underlying problem of identifying people by race in an increasingly multiracial society. Since most applications accept self-descriptions of race and ethnicity, we can expect to see many more DNA ethnics.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:35 PM | Permalink

April 10, 2006

Postcards to yourself

What do you do if you've fallen in the habit of defining yourself in terms of who you are to other people and what they expect of you?

Her children grown, Alice Steinbach decided to take a year off from her job as a reporter with the Baltimore Sun, leave her friends and family and head off for Europe Without Reservations. That's the title of her book she ended up writing about her adventures in Paris, Oxford, Milan, Venice and London.

In so doing, she gives the single best travel tip I've ever seen: Write postcards to yourself to remind you not just of what you saw, but what you felt and thought. So much easier than keeping a travel journal. Plus, you have the stamps, the thoughts and the context to propel you back to another time.

I must say she's awakened a new travel lust in me.

"Without Reservations : The Travels of an Independent Woman" (Alice Steinbach)

She also has some marvelous quotes that will resonate with many women of a certain age.
From Colette, "that lightheartedness that comes to a woman when the peril of men has left her." The peril of men being those times when women needed men more than they needed their own independent identities.

I liked this one too, by Walter Berry in his advice to those about to enter the wilderness.
"Always in the big woods when you leave familiar ground and step off alone into a new place, there will be, along with the feelings of curiosity and excitement, a little nagging of dread. It is the ancient fear of the Unknown, and it is your first bond with the wilderness you are going into."

In preparation for the journey ahead of her, Alice's mother took this quote with her in her handbag to the hospital where she later died.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:11 PM | Permalink

April 4, 2006

Stay up late tonight

If you stay up late tonight, into the wee hours, you'll be awake for a once-in-a-lifetime moment

01:02:03 04/05/06

Of course, any moment you're awake is a moment that will never come again, never to be repeated. Still, some of us go real slow when the odometer is about to turn into 30,000.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:17 PM | Permalink

April 3, 2006

The Luxuries of Freedom

On being freed from captivity. Jill Carroll says in today's Christian Science Monitor

I finally feel like I am alive again. I feel so good. To be able to step outside anytime, to feel the sun directly on your face - to see the whole sky. These are luxuries that we just don't appreciate every day.

On the earlier video.

"Things that I was forced to say while captive are now being taken by some as an accurate reflection of my personal views. They are not. The people who kidnapped me and murdered Allan Enwiya are criminals, at best. They robbed Allan of his life and devastated his family. They put me, my family and my friends - and all those around the world, who have prayed so fervently for my release - through a horrific experience. I was, and remain, deeply angry with the people who did this."

Now reunited with her parents

  Jill Carroll Homecoming

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:31 PM | Permalink

March 29, 2006

Draining the Life from Life

No one makes me think more than Charles Murray. A Plan to Replace the Welfare State

Throughout history until a few decades ago, the meaning of life for almost everyone was linked to the challenge of simple survival. Staying alive required being a contributing part of a community. Staying alive required forming a family and having children to care for you in your old age. The knowledge that sudden death could happen at any moment required attention to spiritual issues. Doing all those things provided deep satisfactions that went beyond survival.

Life in an age of plenty and security requires none of those things. For the great majority of people living in advanced societies, it is easily possible to go through life accompanied by social companions and serial sex partners, having a good time, and dying in old age with no reason to think that one has done anything significant.

If you believe that's all there is--that the purpose of life is to while away the time as pleasantly as possible--then it is reasonable to think that the purpose of government should be to enable people to do so with as little effort as possible. But if you agree with me that to live a human life can have transcendental meaning, then we need to think about how human existence acquires weight and consequence.
For most people--including many older people who in their youths focused on vocation--life acquires meaning through the stuff of life: the elemental events associated with birth, death, growing up, raising children, paying the rent, dealing with adversity, comforting the bereaved, celebrating success, applauding the good and condemning the bad; coping with life as it exists around us in all its richness. The chief defect of the welfare state from this perspective is not that it is ineffectual in making good on its promises (though it is), nor even that it often exacerbates the very problems it is supposed to solve (though it does). The welfare state is pernicious ultimately because it drains too much of the life from life.

It seems to me that the current French riots are all about security. Les jeunes, knowing nothing else, want everything to stay the same.

Roger Simon asks Can you imagine wanting or even considering keeping your first job out of college for life?

The profound fear that is permeating the French society and which I posted about in French fear is what happens when too much of the life is drained from life.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:44 PM | Permalink

March 26, 2006

French Fear

Why I worry for France. From the Washington Post, Joie de Vivre Fades Into Fear

"France is divorced from the modern world of the 21st century," said Nicolas Baverez, author of a top-selling book, "New World, Old France." It describes a country so fearful of letting go of outmoded traditions -- including a hugely expensive cradle-to-grave welfare system -- that it is being shut out of the global marketplace. "We're at a very dangerous turning point," he said.

Ipsos, a French polling institute, recently asked 500 people between the ages of 20 and 25 the question: "What does globalization mean to you?"

Forty-eight percent of those surveyed responded, "Fear."

Fear of what?

Just about everything, according to Christophe Lambert, author of another examination of contemporary France, "The Fearful Society." The country, he writes, is paralyzed by "fear of the future, fear of losing, fear of others, fear of taking a risk, fear of solitude, fear of growing old."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:08 PM | Permalink

March 23, 2006

Little Arties and Ariannas

Art Buchwald makes me laugh out loud. Take Low-Interest Loan

He read the same piece I wrote about in Sperm Online but he "decided it was a sign. Why not me?" so he calls the sperm bank, offers a deposit, and spends the rest of the column in a reverie about his possible children in his room at a hospice where he is spending his last days as the man who wouldn't die.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:38 PM | Permalink

March 21, 2006

Loneliest in their 40s

I actually was not surprised that a recent study found that the loneliest people were in their 40s. Study looks at all the lonely people.

In your 40s, you are still wearing a social mask, doing what other people expect you to do and finding it increasingly empty. It's about 50 when you drop the mask to journey inward.

People aged 50 and older had the lowest levels of loneliness.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:47 AM | Permalink

February 28, 2006

Checklist for the Business of Life

The Financial Planning Association and the National Endowment for Financial Education have teamed up to create an online life-stages financial planning tool.

  Life Events And Financial Decisions

Life Events & Financial Decisions is definitely a site to bookmark if only for as a checklist for the Business of Life™.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:44 PM | Permalink

February 27, 2006

Comatose man wakes up

They turned off the life support to Brian Paolo, but he began to breathe on his own. Ten days later, he gave his daughter away at her wedding.

His daughter Anne-Marie said: "The doctors had prepared us for the worst and it looked like they were right. But dad fought back.

"I couldn't believe it when he started to recover and we realised he would be there for the wedding. The doctors and nurses said they had never seen anything like it - they were astounded.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:47 PM | Permalink

February 17, 2006

Intimations of the Past

Somehow, the atmosphere in Europe harkens the 30s when people began closing their eyes, so horrific was the aftermath of the Great War.

In Paris, a young Jewish man was kidnapped and tortured, left to die on railroad tracks.

From the report in Le Figaro.

“The discovery Monday afternoon of the naked body of Ilan, 23 years-old, near the railroad tracks at Sainte-Geneviève-des-Bois (Essonne) is the tragic epilogue of a long police stake out. The victim had been tortured, 80% of his body was covered with bruises, deep cuts, and burns from an inflammable fluid. The young man, handcuffed and gagged, left for dead by his torturers, died on his way to the hospital.

Was it a criminal attack or was he targeted by the gang because he was Jewish? That is the question the paper and the government should be asking. Fortunately, the journalist Nidra Poller does at Atlas Shrugs and she shows the difficulty of conducting criminal investigations when you must also be politically correct.

Since I've always found it difficult to comprehend anti-semitism, I was especially glad to find ShrinkWrapped's post Pity the Poor Anti-Semite

Here is the crucial point for those who imagine that a tiny group of people, barely 60 years out of an almost successful genocide, left with nothing more than the clothes on their backs, comprising approximately .05% of the world's population, who came to the desert in Palestine and built a modern technological nation while devoting themselves to oppressing the Muslim world, with almost 100 times their population and oceans of oil:

The anti-Semite necessarily defines himself as monumentally inferior to the Jew.

UPDATE. The French have arrested 12 people from the gang called "The Barbarians" suspected in the killing of Ilan Halimi.

"They acted with indescribable cruelty," the judiciary police chief leading the investigation said. "They kept him naked and tied up for weeks. They cut him and in the end poured flammable liquid on him and set him alight."

The French officials say anti-Semitism was not a factor, his family say otherwise.

"We are in total shock," a close friend of Ilan's said Saturday. "All of us, Ilan's mother especially, have not yet begun to comprehend what happened."

Technorati Tags: ,

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:53 AM | Permalink

January 30, 2006

Taking "Roots" to the DNA level

If you're old enough, you'll remember 29 years back when Roots first came on the air and the country was captivated.

This February, PBS will air a four part series "African American Lives" in which DNA testing is used to trace the African ancestry of nine famous Americans.

Chairman and producer of the series Henry Louis Gates, Chairman of Harvard's Department of African and African American studies was shocked to learn that he was half-European.

''Everybody knew their grandparents, but getting beyond that was quite a voyage for people," he says. ''I cried. I found out my fifth great-grandfather fought in the American Revolution. I didn't know he existed. I now have a real family tree going back to 1750. That's amazing."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:24 PM | Permalink

January 21, 2006

Genetic bewilderment.

Is the promise of anonymity forever best for sperm donors? What about the children of sperm donors?

Most of the exotic reproductive technologies are unregulated and private fertility clinics like it that way. Anonymity allows them to escape accountability. After all, who wants to deal with health problems, like diabetes, that may not show up until decades later? Even more troubling is the possibility of inadvertent incest.

Like children anywhere, sperm donor children want to know where they come from. They want a more complete sense of their identity and not just on Father's Day. And there are 40,000 of them born each year

At least one child has tracked down his sperm donor father on the internet.

Britain now requires fertility clinics to register donors in a database the children can access later. But that has resulted in a steep decline in donors. I can understand why after the Swedish Supreme Court ruled that the biological sperm donor father of three children in a lesbian relationship was ordered to pay child support for all three.

The New York Times explores the issue in Are You My Sperm Donor? Few Clinics Say.

With ever more exotic reproductive technologies looming, like cloning and the engineering of traits like eye color and intelligence, some advocates for more regulation say there is a growing urgency to protect these children from what they call "genetic bewilderment." Guaranteeing children access to their genetic heritage, they say, could be the cornerstone of an industry ethics code.
"We need to get it right for donor conception," said Rebecca Hamilton, a law student at Harvard who created a documentary about searching for her donor father in New Zealand, "and use it as the basis for the million weird and wacky decisions coming our way."

Giving sperm donor children a right to access their genetic heritage is one cause I can fully support.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:38 PM | Permalink

January 20, 2006

Blind and now can see.

Blind for 25 years, Joyce Urch had a heart attack at 74. When she awoke in the hospital, she could see. She told her husband, "You've got older."

For the first time she could her 12 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

When Joyce first went blind it made a huge change to our life. Everything seemed to fall away from us. She couldn't do anything.
She said: "I love going out now. I can look around and see the trees and squirrels and pigeons."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:24 PM | Permalink

Betrayed by a Parrot

When the African grey parrot said, " I love you Gary' in his partner's voice, Chris Taylor became suspicious.

Ziggy is a mimic and a half, and from his cage in the corner he had heard every bill and coo of a secret love affair.

A chill ran down Mr Taylor’s spine. He turned to Suzy, whose cheeks had flushed to beetroot. As she dissolved in tears she was forced to admit to a month-long fling with Gary, some of their intimacies conducted in Mr Taylor’s home while he was out at work, but Ziggy wasn’t. She could not deny it; every time her mobile phone had rung, Ziggy had piped up in perfect imitation of her: “Hiya Gary.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:30 PM | Permalink

January 19, 2006

Triplets, 10, 7 and soon

More from this strange, new world where medical advances come faster than our ability to understand the consequences, much less the ethical dilemmas.

Triplets born 10 years apart.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:19 PM | Permalink

Human Breeding Program

We all know the basketball Yao Ming, but we don't know the story former Newsweek journalist Brook Lamer wrote about in his new book Operation Yao Ming.

If what he writes is true, Yao Ming was "knowingly bred for the sport, forced into it against his will and subjected to years of dubious science to increase his height", set up more than 50 years ago under Mao Tse Tung.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:42 PM | Permalink

January 5, 2006

Are you worried about the right things?

Do you have confidence in your own civilization? Mark Steyn says that 's what the War on Terror is all about.

In one of the most discussed articles of the past week and will be one of the most important of the year, It's the Demography, Stupid. Here are some choice bits. The question to ask yourself is what would you fight to defend? Are you worried about the right things?

Most people reading this have strong stomachs, so let me lay it out as baldly as I can: Much of what we loosely call the Western world will not survive this century, and much of it will effectively disappear within our lifetimes, including many if not most Western European countries.


That's what the war's about: our lack of civilizational confidence. As a famous Arnold Toynbee quote puts it: "Civilizations die from suicide, not murder"--as can be seen throughout much of "the Western world" right now.


So the jihadists are for the most part doing no more than giving us a prod in the rear as we sleepwalk to the cliff. When I say "sleepwalk," it's not because we're a blasé culture. On the contrary, one of the clearest signs of our decline is the way we expend so much energy worrying about the wrong things.

None of these things happened. In fact, quite the opposite is happening. We're pretty much awash in resources, but we're running out of people--the one truly indispensable resource, without which none of the others matter. Russia's the most obvious example: it's the largest country on earth, it's full of natural resources, and yet it's dying--its population is falling calamitously.

The default mode of our elites is that anything that happens--from terrorism to tsunamis--can be understood only as deriving from the perniciousness of Western civilization. As Jean-Francois Revel wrote, "Clearly, a civilization that feels guilty for everything it is and does will lack the energy and conviction to defend itself."

The idea that progressive Euro-welfarism is the permanent resting place of human development was always foolish; we now know that it's suicidally so.

To avoid collapse, European nations will need to take in immigrants at a rate no stable society has ever attempted. The CIA is predicting the EU will collapse by 2020.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:23 PM | Permalink

November 22, 2005


These are very startling figures from the UN. The study has been published as a book, "Women in an Insecure World."

There is a shortfall of some 200 million women in the world -- "missing' due to what a three-year study on violence against women calls "gendercide."


Theodore Winkler, head of the research center that directed the project said:

"The deeply rooted phenomenon of the violence against women is one of the great crimes of humanity. We cannot close our eyes to it and hope it simply goes away,"

Gender-related abortions and infanticides were the leading causes for the shortfall in the female population. Another factor was domestic violence, including so-called honor killings in some cultures.
Winkler said violence against women was the fourth-leading cause of premature death on the planet, ranking behind only disease, hunger and war.
The book uses U.N., World Heath Organization and government reports and photographs to examine the plight of women. According to a study based on 50 surveys from around the world, "at least one out of every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:52 PM | Permalink

November 12, 2005

Parents Tears

Some of the disaffected, unemployed Muslim youths 6 who kept Paris burning for 16 days and entirely too gleeful after torching cars, churches day care centers and busses seem to be listening to their parents.

From the Washington Post, Parents Tears Calm Youth Rage

The parents have reclaimed the night in the suburban Paris town where France's unrest began two weeks ago. While arsons and clashes with police are continuing in dozens of
cities across France, fires have not burned in Clichy-sous-Bois since Monday night.

The tears of our mothers stopped us," said Maldini, 26, a stout, French-born son of Algerian immigrants. He declined to provide his family name for fear of police harassment. "The parents, the mothers and fathers were all crying."

Other parents have no control. Some in France Ask: Where Are the Parents?

Many parents are struggling to make ends meet, leaving them little time for their children. They often can hardly communicate with their sons and daughters: Many parents are not French citizens and never learn to speak French, while their children don't learn the language of their ancestors.
According to Sonia Imloul, who works with troubled teens in Seine-Saint-Denis, the Paris-area town hit hardest by the unrest, an estimated 40 percent of families in the suburbs are dysfunctional, causing a high rate of school dropouts, drug use, petty crime and aggressive behavior.

As David Brooks writes in Gangsta, in French, they are taking hip-hop as their model of how to be men.

After 9/11, everyone knew there was going to be a debate about the future of Islam. We just didn't know the debate would be between Osama bin Laden and Tupac Shakur.

Yet those seem to be the lifestyle alternatives that are really on offer for poor young Muslim men in places like France, Britain and maybe even the world beyond. A few highly alienated and fanatical young men commit themselves to the radical Islam of bin Laden. But most find their self-respect by embracing the poses and worldview of American hip-hop and gangsta rap.

One of the striking things about the scenes from France is how thoroughly the rioters have assimilated hip-hop and rap culture. It's not only that they use the same hand gestures as American rappers, wear the same clothes and necklaces, play the same video games, and sit with the same sorts of car stereos at full blast.
It's that they seem to have adopted the same poses of exaggerated manhood, the same attitudes about women, money and the police. They seem to have replicated the same sort of gang culture, the same romantic visions of gunslinging drug dealers.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:48 AM | Permalink

November 10, 2005

Tracking down anonymous sperm donors

For the first time, an anonymous sperm donor was traced on the Internet

LATE last year, a 15-year-old boy rubbed a swab along the inside of his cheek, popped it into a vial and sent it off to an online genealogy DNA-testing service. But unlike most people who contact the service, he was not interested in sketching the far reaches of his family tree. His mother had conceived using donor sperm and he wanted to track down his genetic father.

That the boy succeeded using only the DNA test, genealogical records and some internet searches has huge implications for the hundreds of thousands of people who were conceived using donor sperm. With the explosion of information about genetic inheritance, any man who has donated sperm could potentially be found by his biological offspring. Absent and unknown fathers will also become easier to trace.

The teenager tracked down his father from his Y chromosome. The Y is passed from father to son virtually unchanged, like a surname. So the pattern of gene variants it carries can help identify which paternal line an individual has descended from and can also be linked to a man's surname.

The boy paid $289 for the service. His genetic father had never supplied his DNA to the site, but all that was needed was for someone in the same paternal line to be on file.

Though his donor had been anonymous, his mother had been told the man's date and place of birth and his college degree. Using another online service,, he purchased the names of everyone that had been born in the same place on the same day. Only one man had the surname he was looking for, and within 10 days he had made contact.

"This is the first time that I know of it being done," says Bryan Sykes, a geneticist at the University of Oxford and chairman of, a genetic genealogy service. The case raises serious questions about whether past promises of anonymity can be honoured, he says.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:25 AM | Permalink

November 7, 2005

Adding to my worry beads

Counting my worry beads - hurricane, flood, tornado, earthquake, tsunami, terrorist attack, dirty bomb, avian flu, I find I can add two more this week -pirates attacking cruise ships with rocket launchers and 4GW in France.

From Lexington Green at Chicago Boyz

What is happening in France is nothing less than an "instant war" by a "smart swarm" of networked arsonists who are conducting a loosely coordinated nation-wide intifada:

"They are very mobile, in cars or scooters. ... It is quite hard to combat" he said. "Most are young, very young, we have even seen young minors." There appeared to be no coordination between separate groups in different areas, Hamon said. But within gangs, he added, youths are communicating by cell phones or e-mails. "They organize themselves, arrange meetings, some prepare the Molotov cocktails."

This is much, much worse than I thought it was. It is a massive outbreak of 4th Generation Warfare, in the middle of an advanced, Western country.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:33 AM | Permalink

November 4, 2005

Paris is Burning

After watching the seventh straight night of riots in the Parisian suburbs, I am afraid we are seeing the beginnings of civil war in Europe between the Europeans and the second and third generations of Muslim immigrants.

  Paris Burning

The unrest spread to at least nine Paris-region towns overnight Tuesday, exposing the despair, anger and criminality in France's poor suburbs - fertile terrain for Islamic extremists, drug dealers and racketeers.

The violence, concentrated in neighborhoods with large African and Muslim populations, has highlighted the difficulties many European nations face with immigrant communities feeling marginalized and restive, cut off from the continent's prosperity and, for some extremists, its values, too.
The unrest spread to at least nine Paris-region towns overnight Tuesday, exposing the despair, anger and criminality in France's poor suburbs - fertile terrain for Islamic extremists, drug dealers and racketeers.

The violence, concentrated in neighborhoods with large African and Muslim populations, has highlighted the difficulties many European nations face with immigrant communities feeling marginalized and restive, cut off from the continent's prosperity and, for some extremists, its values, too.

Francis Fukuyama explores why Europe is in such trouble in A Year of Living Dangerously

We profoundly misunderstand contemporary Islamist ideology when we see it as an assertion of traditional Muslim values or culture.....In his book "Globalized Islam" (2004), the French scholar Olivier Roy argues persuasively that contemporary radicalism is precisely the product of the "deterritorialization" of Islam, which strips Muslim identity of all of the social supports it receives in a traditional Muslim society.

The identity problem is particularly severe for second- and third-generation children of immigrants. They grow up outside the traditional culture of their parents, but unlike most newcomers to the United States, few feel truly accepted by the surrounding society.
The real challenge for democracy lies in Europe, where the problem is an internal one of integrating large numbers of angry young Muslims and doing so in a way that does not provoke an even angrier backlash from right-wing populists. Two things need to happen: First, countries like Holland and Britain need to reverse the counterproductive multiculturalist policies that sheltered radicalism, and crack down on extremists. But second, they also need to reformulate their definitions of national identity to be more accepting of people from non-Western backgrounds.

UPDATE: Wow, another must-read by Theodore Dalrymple in City Journal, The Suicide Bombers Among Us. At its heart, hatred and the desire to continue total male domination.

the sweet dream of universal cultural compatibility has been replaced, in a single day, by the nightmare of permanent conflict.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:19 AM | Permalink

November 1, 2005

Recipes for Life and Changing the World

Nancy Glaser, a Stanford MBA, left her career in venture capital

to help Third World women become apparel-industry entrepreneurs. She was in Russia after the Berlin Wall fell, working to build St. Petersburg into a fashion center. For the past three years, she's been visiting bombed-out villages in Afghanistan, helping poor women turn their native handicrafts into Fifth Avenue must-haves.

Glaser talks about giving up the dream job to take real risks in her life in this interview by Patty Fisher, Desire to live right life can change the world.

`The women in Afghanistan make beautiful hand-embroidered tablecloths and napkins, but the fabric is terrible quality, the thread breaks, the colors run,'' she said. ``They don't match anything you have in your home. The workmanship is beautiful, but it's the wrong color, the wrong design.''

She has enlisted designers from New York and Europe to showcase the women's work, and she's trying to raise money for better materials. It's been hard because the country is so devastated, and so much of the aid money goes for security. But she's determined to succeed.

``Once people have a livelihood and can support their family,'' she said, ``they put down their guns.''

via Evelyn Rodriguez who will be writing more about her own vision of artisan journalism and offers us this bonus:

Nancy Glaser says, "Even with all the devastation, there was so much hope. Turning aid containers into shops, people had already set up a bazaar on a dry riverbed.” She described women swathed in burqas and speaking perfect English (learned in refugee camps in Pakistan). Eager to be working, they presented her with resumes. She also saw school classes meeting under trees that included girls for the first time in six years.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:00 PM | Permalink

October 31, 2005

No Halloween for the Politically Correct

The Toronto school board worries that some children will traumatized by Halloween

Many recently arrived students in our schools share absolutely none of the background cultural knowledge that is necessary to view 'trick or treating,' the commercialization of death, the Christian sexist demonization of pagan religious beliefs, as 'fun,' "

They say, "Halloween is a religious day of significance for Wiccans and therefore should be treated respectfully."

Instead of eating sweets in class, they suggest writing health warnings for all Halloween candies.

I pity those poor kids in Toronto schools being deprived of what should be a great day for kids and instead having to write why candy is bad.
Are these people nuts?

UPDATE: Halloween is booming in Europe and some Europeans don't like it. They see Halloween as an "unnecessary, bad American custom" that undermines their cultural identity.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:40 AM | Permalink

October 29, 2005

Top Ten Myths of Social Security Reform

From the Center of Retirement Research at Boston College, this White Paper just out says.

"Social Security is a real problem and we need to fix it and that involves pain," says Jeffrey Brown lead author of a paper which seeks to critically examine the "The Top 10 Myths of Social Security Reform."--

A constructive debate about the future of Social Security should accept that a problem exists and focus on alternative methods of restoring long-run, sustainable fiscal balance to the program," he says. "Simply denying that the problem exists will not make it go away.----

"We shouldn't kick the problem down the road for 10 years for others to deal with it nor should we pursue policies that don't fix the problem but appear to," he says. "There are no easy solutions. Someone's ox must be gored. We either need more revenue or to pay less out of the system. People either don't understand that or they choose to ignore it."

According to the White Paper, the top ten myths of social security that should be debunked on both sides of the aisle (full copy here) are:

1. Social Security is financially sound for "decades to come."
2. Economic growth will eliminate the existing problem.
3. Social Security is in "crisis" and will not be there when today's younger workers retire.
4. Personal accounts can save Social Security without benefit cuts or tax increases.
5. Allowing individuals to redirect their contributions from the trust fund to personal accounts will provide a higher rate of return.
6. Personal accounts will worsen Social Security's financial problem.
7. Personal accounts will cause benefit cuts.
8. Personal accounts are risky and the current system is safe.
9. Transitioning to personal accounts is too costly.
10. Social Security reform is bad for the poor / women / minorities.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:56 AM | Permalink

October 26, 2005

Echoes of Eugenics

Many people don't know about the eugenics movement of the 20th century. Adolf Hitler wanted to create a master race by killing all those he thought inferior - Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, and retarded children

Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, said, "eugenic sterilization is an urgent need ...we must prevent multiplication of this bad stock."

Many states allowed forced sterilization of those with "insanity, idiocy, imbecility, feeble-mindedness or epilepsy." In 2003, the Governor of South Carolina apologized for decades of forced sterilizations.

The San Francisco Chronicle examines the history of eugenics in California, a key backer of whom was Charles Goethe, a wealthy conservationist and benefactor of what would become California State University's Sacramento campus in Echoes of Eugenics Movement in Stem Cell Debate.

Goethe, who backed preserving redwood stands as a way to enhance California's natural environment, also wanted to apply animal breeding concepts to the betterment of humanity -- apparently to exclude most everyone who wasn't white and European.
Chloe Burke, a Cal State Sacramento historian and organizer of a daylong conference held Friday and billed as the first of its kind, called "From Eugenics to Designer Babies: Engineering the California Dream."
says, "Both are linked to a conviction that tampering with heredity or our genetic makeup can lead to solutions for a broad number of problems, both individual and social," she said.
Behind the advocacy of stem cells, she said, "is this dream of living in a disease-free future," one of the early threads that made up Goethe's own worldview.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:37 AM | Permalink


What's expected of twenty-somethings according to Doug Manning of Proactive Living. Being twenty-something is harder than ever as society no longer expects marriage for life or jobs for long, yet demands self-managment skills more than ever.

The third decade is a time of emotional and spiritual adolescence. Whereas the first twenty years enable us to mature physically and mentally, we remain relatively undeveloped in our adult relationships and connectedness to meaning. In the crucial third decade, individuals are expected to shift from being 'cared for' to 'taking charge' of their own existence. This means learning how to be a good worker/parent/friend, finding a way to sustain yourself, and getting involved in fulfilling life activities that enable you to be who you are. Developing these capacities is not a simple task.
The third decade may be the most difficult one to face. It is therefore the one that offers the most hope for developing the self-management skills, relationship skills and mental toughness required to feel alive and successful in a constantly changing world. The rest of us can help if we will just get out of the way.

Thanks to Jeremy of Lifestylism

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:18 AM | Permalink

October 24, 2005

Sharing your bank book

Marshall Loeb says in Till cash do us part.

Some loving couples would rather share a toothbrush than a bank book. But if you plan to be with your mate for the long-term, sharing your basic financial information is as important as sharing your health history.
At least once a year, you and your mate should talk about what you owe, what you're spending on and what are your future financial goals.
An easy way to have this conversation is to start by making or updating lists of what you own and owe, separately or in common.
You should know the names, email addresses and phone and fax numbers of the financial professionals in your mate's life. They include any stockbroker, accountant, banker, attorney, insurance agent and financial planner.
Then there are the lists of your assets. They include all real estate, bank and brokerage accounts, cars and boats, precious jewelry, works of art and insurance policies.
Keep your lists in the same secure place where you store your wills, property deeds and your marriage license, if you have one.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:13 PM | Permalink

New Puritans

They're young, educated, opinionated, and early adopters. They just may have an "enhanced ability to recognize the pitfalls of contemporary life."

Something very interesting, indeed radical, is happening to Britain,' confirms Jim Murphy, associate director of the Future Foundation, the trends forecaster which coined the term 'New Puritan'
a New Puritan does not binge drink, smoke, buy big brands, take cheap flights, eat junk food, have multiple sexual partners, waste money on designer clothes, grow beyond their optimum weight, subscribe to celebrity magazines, drive a flash car, or live to watch television. And the list is likely to grow longer: research by the Future Foundation has found that 80 per cent of people agreed that alcohol should not be allowed at work at all; 25 per cent said snack products should not be offered at business meetings; more than a third agreed that we should think twice before giving sweets and chocolates as gifts to family and friends, and a further 25 per cent thought that 'the government should start a campaign to discourage people from drinking alcohol on their own at home'

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:10 PM | Permalink

October 19, 2005

Sidetracked by the Business of Life

Sorry for the light posting, but I've been sidetracked by my Business of Life. My mother, 84, just back Friday from a three week visit to Switzerland and Italy, went into the hospital on Monday. She told us it was a minor medical procedure.

Well, we found out later that day that, in fact, a major surgery was planned. Only mid afternoon did we learn that she had undergone a lumpectomy - the removal of the upper lobe of her left lung along with a 1.5 cm cancerous nodule.

My brother and I spoke to her surgeon after the operation who told us it was stage 1A - the best score you can get with cancer because it's at such an early stage.

She's doing remarkably well according to the doctors and all her nurses who are amazed at her strength and should be home in less than a week. She was even making jokes in the recovery room

I've been on the shuttle run to the airport collecting brothers and sisters and ferrying them to the hospital and talking to her friends and other relatives.

That's the way life is. Everything seems the same, then, suddenly everything changes.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:09 PM | Permalink

October 12, 2005

Cyber Catharsis

Last month, I wrote about the AOL survey that showed that nearly half of bloggers blog as a form of therapy. The Washington Post calls it Cyber-Catharsis and explores the phenomenon.

Seems as if even hospitals are seeing the blogging light.

One hospital in High Point, N.C., started devoting space to patients' blogs on its Web site....The project has been so successful -- both as a marketing tool for the hospital and a form of group therapy for patients who get feedback from their readers -- that High Point is considering adding video blogs, said Eric Fletcher, a spokesman for the hospital.
said Bill Schreiner, vice president for AOL's community programming. "It's like they're writing the novel of their lives, and [public] participation adds truth to their story."

Blogging combines two recommended techniques for people to work through problems: writing in a journal and using a computer to type out thoughts. Some bloggers say the extra dimension of posting thoughts on the Web enables them to broach difficult subjects with loved ones, as well as reap support from a virtual community of people they don't know.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:08 AM | Permalink

October 8, 2005

The Last Frontier - the Dishwasher?

From the Washington Post

A couple of months ago, in the privacy of his Reston townhouse, Alan Chien made a final break from cultural tradition, a guilt-filled decision he has yet to share with his parents.
He used his dishwasher. He knows his parents will not understand.

"They don't believe in it," said Chien, 35, an engineer who emigrated with his family from Taiwan when he was a toddler. "Just because they never used it, I never used it, so it was just a mysterious thing to me."

In many immigrant homes, the automatic dishwasher is the last frontier.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:17 PM | Permalink

September 22, 2005

Post-Post Modern Moment

Many years ago, I was in a plane with my then boss when we were told the landing gear appeared to be stuck. Somehow, I wasn't afraid though my boss was terrified.

We circled around Logan Airport for about two hours before we were told to assume the crash position with the pillows every airplane used to carry. A runway was sprayed with foam before we landed which we did easily.

So yesterday's drama on Jet Blue was a familiar one. I eagerly searched for reports by the passengers and found this.

Mrs. Jacobs said "We couldn't believe the irony that we might be watching our own demise on television. It just seemed a bit post-post-modern if you will."

Read the full report by McCannta, Post-Post Modern on Jet Blue

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:15 PM | Permalink

My Three Requirements for Men

It's been a long time, but I figure I'm just about ready to start dating again. Well actually, in about two months after I finish my book and the prototype for ESOL.

So, from time to time, I thought about what I am looking for in a man.
I've reduced it to three essential and non-negotiable requirements.


That's that simple. I don't care about where they went to school or what they do, how much they have, how tall or short they are, how old they are or whether they have hair.

You wouldn't think those three requirements would be an effective screen. But, boy is it ever. Think about it.

Take just CLEAN. That rules out 25% of U.S. men.

Scientists have learned that one-quarter of men left public restrooms without washing their hands.


Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:39 AM | Permalink

September 19, 2005

Good news Afghanistan

Voting yesterday in Afghanistan, despite the threats and bombings of the Taliban, was more like a national holiday than like a national crisis.
Optimistic day at polls.

Everyone is so happy. It's like we are waiting for Christmas to come," said Abdullah Shahood, a 22-year-old poll observer for candidate Abdul Razziq. "Everyone is optimistic."
At the polling station, the women pulled off their burqas. Most emerged with smiling, lively unlined faces. Those faces had been sheltered for years from the harsh Afghan sun.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:11 PM | Permalink

September 16, 2005

The Curve of Change

I'm not at all surprised that scientists at the University of Chicago have found strong evidence that the human brain is still evolving.

I was surprised to learn is about two variant genes. One emerged at a time that coincides with the spread of agriculture, settled cities and the first written language. The second appeared along with the emergence of art, music, religious practices and sophisticated tool-making techniques.

They have the aura of the singularity about them. The Singularity is defined as a predicted time in the near future (say the next 20-30 years) when, according to Wikipedia,

technological progress and societal change accelerate due to the advent of superhuman intelligence, changing our environment beyond the ability of pre-Singularity humans to comprehend or reliably predict.

I recently read Radical Evolution by Joel Garreau, who says we are riding a curve of exponential change that is unprecedented in human history and is transforming no less than human history. Garreau explores what's coming out of DARPA where studies into human enhancement provide the competitive edge to our military. We know about night vision goggles but most don't know about exo-skeletions and drugs that provide photographic recall, vaccination against pain and working without sleep. It's "Be all you can be and a whole lot more."

Garreau calls them GRIN technologies - genetic, robotic, information and nano processes.

These four advances are intermingling and feeding on one another and they are collectively creating a curve of change unlike anything we humans have even seen,"

The key element is that it's fundamentally out of our control. Will it be be a transcendent event issuing in a Heaven that Ray Kurzweil envisions? Or a hell of unexpected consequences? Or will we somehow muddle through and prevail? Garreau explores all three.

What made me believe that we will muddle through and prevail was his writing of World War II as a hinge in co-evolution because the war was won with devices that did not exist when the war started - radar, code-breaking computers and the atomic bomb. It was done using minimum information, solving one problem at a time. We decide on a solution and try it. If it works, we go on. If it doesn't try something else. The new is routinely created not by individual geniuses but by faceless teams of ordinary people.

And by the way, that myth that we use only 10% of our brain is just that, a myth. Even Snopes knocks it down.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:31 AM | Permalink

September 15, 2005

Women in cowsheds

If you women think you have it tough, did you know that women in parts of Nepal were forced to stay in cowsheds during their period each month?

The Supreme Court of Nepal today ordered the government to declare the practice evil and gave them one month to begin stamping the practice out.

  Nepal Woman-1
photo by Tatsuya Sato

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:13 PM | Permalink

September 11, 2005

The Eleventh of Never

With a thought to Marcus Aurelius who wrote in the second century, "The universe is change; our life is what our thoughts make it," don't miss The Eleventh of Never by Paul Vitello in Sunday's New York Times.

Among the few certain truths of Sept. 11, 2001, is one that applies to every day that dawns. That there is no guarantee of tomorrow, or the next five minutes. This is the central provision of all contracts between people and their lives. No plans, large or small, are exempt.

The impact of 9/11 on the world's large plans has been well documented. Its impact on the smaller ones has been chronicled mainly and rightfully in the stories of those who died or witnessed the terror attacks up close, physically and emotionally.
But what about the rest of the many millions whose relatively small plans for an ordinary Tuesday were bent or swallowed completely that day, like light waves passing too close to a black hole?
There are millions of such people, at the same time deeply affected and only tangentially touched by the terror attacks, who can instinctively conjure the outlines of that lost day.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:49 AM | Permalink

August 30, 2005

New Orleans is Devastated.

The levees have been breached.  The mayor of New Orleans says that water is flowing into New Orleans, flooding it beyond recognition.

From Major Breech Flooding and Destroying New Orleans.

80% of the city is under water, in some sections the water is 20 feet deep.  Both airports are underwater.  The Twin Span bridge is totally destroyed.  All of Slidell is under water.  The I-10, the major highway into the city is under water.

Brendan Loy says, "Lake Pontchartrain is entering the city and becoming Lake New Orleans."

The breach is at the 17th Street canal and the water is flowing so fast, there are whitecaps on Canal St.  The main hospital is being flooded and is considering air evacuation of patients.

This is terrible.  This is catastrophe.    My heart weeps at the devastation of lives and property.  It will take years to recover.

UPDATE:  The KatrinaHelp Wiki is up

Many thanks to Terry Teachout for creating the first manual aggregator of Katrina related blogs.

Technorati Tags: ,

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:15 PM | Permalink

August 10, 2005

Kidnapped by Aliens

You know all those people who believe they've been kidnapped by aliens?  Haven't you wondered how could they believe in something so preposterous?  I certainly have.

Harvard psychologist Susan Clancy tells us in her new book, Abducted


via David at Boing-Boing

At a basic level, Dr. Clancy concludes, alien abduction stories give people meaning, a way to comprehend the many odd and dispiriting things that buffet any life, as well as a deep sense that they are not alone in the universe. In this sense, abduction memories are like transcendent religious visions, scary and yet somehow comforting and, at some personal psychological level, true.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:33 AM | Permalink

August 8, 2005

Bravest Women in the World

Women representing 17 civil society groups in Najaf, a Shiite stronghold, protest for women's rights for the first time ever in that city and against sharia.    They are courageous and brave reminding us that the struggle for women's rights is the struggle for human rights here.

From Publius Pundit

With news of the draft constitution circling the streets, women aren’t all that happy knowing that legislation will be based on sharia and certain rights won’t be given. So what do they do about it? Make their views known by exercising their right to assembly! This was the first civil rights protest held by women’s groups in the holy city of Najaf. It was reported by Radio Free Iraq, but this is the only account I could find of it on Google News (now that’s pathetic!).

Women representing 17 civil society groups took the streets of Najaf on Aug. 3.

“We want to make clear that we’re against any attempt to revive the notorious 137 personal affairs laws,” organizer Intisar Al-Mayali declared. “We want a civil law to govern issues like marriage and inheritance . . . and even the existing civil law that we support needs to be modified and improved in a way that matches the needs and rights of Iraqi women and we insist that Islam must not be the only source of legislation.”

Again, it cannot be overlooked that this protest was held in Najaf, a Shiite stronghold and holy city, where the religious leaders practically demand that sharia be the law of the land.

Omar, from Iraq the Model, reports

What’s even more interesting is that those women come from the strictly conservative city of Najaf where the SCIRI won the provincial elections and appointed one of their men as governor, yet those strong women had enough courage to publicly claim equality with men, condemn forcing Share’at laws into the constitution and also criticized Al-Hakim in spite of all the power and influence he has in Najaf.

Women suffer the most in the Mideast under fundamentalist Islam. They may not work or be educated, they cannot go about in public without a male relative, they must be veiled.  They are under the total control of men.

Yet, women will be the main drivers for freedom and democracy.  Some of them are dying now.  They are the bravest women in the world. 

A few examples, of many, of what women in some countries are up against: in northern Afghanistan in May, three women workers at a microcredit organisation (which gives loans to women to start up small businesses) were stoned to death by warlords; in India, a woman social worker in Madhya Pradesh state had her hands chopped off by a man furious because she was counselling villagers against child marriage.

In Pakistan, the head of the Human Rights Commission was stripped and beaten in public after she organised a series of sporting marathons in which women could compete. (One marathon was attacked by 900 men from the Islamist alliance, armed with batons and petrol bombs. President Pervez Musharraf, who talks constantly of curbing Islamic militants, has since reversed his Government's policy of allowing mixed-gender sporting activities in public.)

In Iraq, a wave of attacks on women has been carried out by the new insurgent groups. Said a 23-year-old university student: "They dropped acid in my face and on my legs. They cut all my hair off while hitting me in the face many times, telling me it's the price for not obeying God's wish in using the veil."

We owe them all our support.  A government that would deny the equal rights of women can not be trusted.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:24 PM | Permalink

Congratulations and condolences

Was there ever such a story that combined tragedy with hope, sadness with love? 

Is there any doubt that this is what Susan Torres would have wanted?  Her dying body, riddled with cancer, was yet suffused with love sufficient to bring a healthy baby to life - Susan Anne Catherine Torres.

Brain dead mother taken off life support from the Washington Post .

After her husband and parents said their last goodbyes and after a priest offered a prayer -- words about weeping in a valley of tears -- Susan Torres, her improbable mission accomplished, was unhooked yesterday morning from the machines that sustained not only her body but that of her baby for the past three months.

The 26-year-old Arlington woman, who was felled by cancer and declared brain-dead in May, but who gave birth by Caesarean section Tuesday to the girl she had hoped for, died shortly thereafter. It was the end her family knew was inevitable, but it was no less difficult to fathom.
Jason Torres, who slept by his wife's side for three months, whose cell phone still carries her voice and who made the final decision to unhook the machines, stayed away from the cameras and crowds of reporters who had come to the hospital to find out, among other things, how his new daughter, Susan Anne Catherine Torres, was doing.

Strange happening on the night of Susan Torres' tragic collapse.

On the night of Susan’s collapse, May 7, said Sonny, he returned home with his wife Karen at about 3:00am, and went to bed, exhausted. At about 4:15am, without any warning, he awoke and sat bolt upright. Karen also awoke and asked him what the matter was.

“What it was,” he said, “it wasn’t a dream…This was so different from a dream…so…so powerful. It was words that came to me. It was a woman’s voice; my wife made me write it down. It wasn’t a request, it was a command.”......

“.......Sonny said that although it struck him at the time as a singular and unusual experience, he put it down to overwrought nerves, still barely coming to terms with the tragedy of his daughter-in-law’s sudden collapse only a few hours before. It wasn’t until the following day when he began to tell his son what happened that he was given a palpable reason to think of it as something more than imagination.

“I went to my son later that day,” continued Sonny, “and I began to tell him about it and he said ‘Stop! Let me tell you what I had.’ We compared notes, and it happened about the same time—4:15 in the morning. And his is almost word for word of mine.”

The words that both Sonny and Jason believe they heard, before the life-affirming story of Susan ever reached the ears of a journalist or a newsman, are the following:

“You and others will tell the world of a fight to save a precious life, not to change hardened hearts, but to give hope to those who believe, so that they know that there is more than what they see and hear. Let them come and see for themselves.”

Congratulations and condolences to the Torres family.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:47 AM | Permalink

July 28, 2005

Relative Heat Waves

Everyone on the East Coast is still suffering under an extraordinary heat wave with temperatures in the 90s and in some places over 100 degrees.

If you think that's too hot, just be thankful you are not in Iraq where the high yesterday was 120!  It cooled down in the evening though with overnight lows in Bagdad of 90.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:28 AM | Permalink

July 13, 2005

Hummer Homes

Is your home a hummer, Robert Samuelson asks.

Since 1970 the size of the average home has increased 55 percent (to 2,330 square feet), while the size of the average family has decreased 13 percent. Especially among the upper crust, homes have more space and fewer people. We now have rooms specialized by appliances (home computers, entertainment systems and exercise equipment) and -- who knows? -- may soon reserve them for pets. The long-term consequences of this housing extravaganza are unclear, but they may include the overuse of energy and, ironically, a drain on homeowners' wealth.

Me, I've always preferred cozy cottages and American bungalows.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:36 AM | Permalink

July 12, 2005

Blogging Friends

One of the great advantages of blogging is that you meet so many interesting bloggers face to face that you've been reading.  I've been lucky enough to meet Ronni Bennett at Time Goes By, Yvonne DeVita at Lipsticking, and  the Diva of Marketing, Toby Bloomberg. 

Others I've met at Blogging Gatherings, at the first Blogger Con, back when I was just a reader and the idea of actually writing a blog seemed terrifying.    I've learned a lot and met a few people at the Thursday meetings at Harvard's Berkman Center even though I'm only a sporadic attendee.  People like Bill Ives, Dave Weinberger, Lisa Williams who also posts at a very interesting and local H20 town and Amanda Watlington.

The most recent blogger bash was an after-hours American Marketing Association where I met John Cass of Backbone Media whose recent survey of corporate blogging has just been published and which I plan to discuss over at Estate Legacy Vaults blog.  You can download it here and join the conversation at its very own blog.

One of my new blogging friends, Dina Lynch, is the Mediation Mensch.  That's mediation, not meditation.  Mediation uses a neutral third party to resolve disputes between two parties, well short of the all out warfare that  lawsuits too often engender.

I have a soft spot for mediators since my Dad was one and an arbitrator too, at one point, President of the American Academy of Arbitrators.  I'm happy to see how far the field of mediation has come in public acceptance as a legitimate and preferred alternative method of resolving disputes.  It means that we are learning to rise above our differences to stand on a higher common ground.

If you're interested in mediation, jump over to Mediation Mensch.  Dina is even making the generous  offer to coach two new practitioners for free.  Hard to beat that.

Many of my other blogging friends, and they are legion, I will meet at Blogher on July 30 out in Santa Clara.  Registration is almost full, but you still have time until registration closes on July 25th or until they fill the last 40 seats whichever comes first.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:20 AM | Permalink

July 8, 2005

There will always be a London

Like millions of others, I've been reading the first-hand accounts of the London bombings in many round-ups on various blogs.    What's struck me is that I wasn't really surprised.  Horrified yes at the carnage, saddened for all those whose friends and family were killed or injured in the bombings, but not surprised.

Terror has become part of the reality we live in. 

The best efforts of many governments have undoubtedly aborted many attacks.  The bombing in Britain, however horrific, was comparatively small.  The response by police and emergency workers was quick, coordinated and effective.      A quick comparison:  During World War II, some 43,000 Londoners were killed during the Blitz, 139,000 injured, a million homes destroyed.  The London Blitz only stiffened the resolve of the Brits to resist the Nazis.


I expect no less of them now.  The sang-froid, bravery and stoicism of the English people comes into high relief at times like this for us all to admire, support, and emulate.

 Bloodied But Unbowed

From Marshall Manson  via TKS

London is a special place, and Londoners have always been made of uncommonly tough stuff. They endured five years of unspeakable hardship, as Hitler prosecuted his campaign of indiscriminate bombing in an effort to deprive British civilians of their will to fight. Later, Londoners soldiered on for three decades in spite of regular IRA bombings.

Thursday, extremists once again brought a campaign of terror to London. But just as Hitler and the IRA failed to bring the great city and its people to its knees, so will this latest attack fail.

Indeed, it already has.

Though the bombings disrupted an otherwise routine morning rush hour, by midday, London was already recovering.
And like so many terrorist attacks before, Thursday’s bombings will have the opposite effect of what the terrorists intended. Rather than softening their resolve, the British, true to their history, will react with courage, anger and steadfastness.
And so must we.

Amir Taheri writes in the London Times
But sorry, old chaps, you are dealing with an enemy that does not want anything specific, and cannot be talked back into reason through anger management or round-table discussions. Or, rather, this enemy does want something specific: to take full control of your lives, dictate every single move you make round the clock and, if you dare resist, he will feel it his divine duty to kill you

Christopher Hitchens

It is ludicrous to try and reduce this to Iraq. Europe is steadily becoming a part of the civil war that is roiling the Islamic world, and it will require all our cultural ingenuity to ensure that the criminals who shattered London's peace at rush hour this morning are not the ones who dictate the pace and rhythm of events from now on.

Terror has become part of the reality we live in and what we can expect here and in Europe for years to come. 
Living with that fact, living fully and purposefully knowing one can die at anytime, has become part of the Business of Life.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:24 PM | Permalink

July 4, 2005

Cold, Southern Lights

Simon Coggins works for the British Antarctic Survey and writes a fascinating blog about living 75 Degrees South at Halley, Antarctica Britain's most southerly and isolated research station.

Take a look at the gallery to see how they live inside the Laws Platform and some of the extraordinary photos of the Aurora Australis (the Southern Lights) taken by Jeff Cohen.

    Inside The Laws Platform

So interesting that at the darkest time of the year, June 21, they take a week off to make presents  for each other,  feast, and have special communication with their families. 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:38 AM | Permalink

July 2, 2005

House blogs

So how about blogs that offer advice and ideas on household projects?  I've been exploring a few since the Wall St Journal highlighted them in Homespun Expertise on the Web by Kara Swisher.

My favorite was House in Progress with a great tag line "We call it home improvement because it can't get any worse," and a fabulous blogroll of house bloggers as well as an aggregator site called  Loved the drawers in the stairs. 

Spent a lot of time at Hewn and Hammered indulging my love for bungalows made and restored by  artists and craftsmen.  In fact, since I'm in the process of selling a house that's currently rented out and getting ready to look for another,  I spent much too much time there.    Suddenly, I'm very interested in houses again.  But first I want to read Sarah Susanka whose ideas on beauty, coziness and sustainability were first articulated in her book and I ended up ordering her "The Not So Big House Collection: The Not So Big House and Creating the Not So Big House" (Sarah Susanka)

Then of course there's This Old House, with all sorts of resources, even webcams on their latest project.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:48 AM | Permalink

June 30, 2005

More inviting and interesting

Larry Derfner, a blue state liberal now living in Israel writes in the Jerusalem Post,  Rattling the Case, God Bless America about Billy Graham's last crusade and seeing evangelists as people.
Those quarter-million congregants on the grass at Flushing Meadows were regular Americans with an emotional, spiritual need.
Leticia Mateo, a 32-year-old university administrator from New Jersey, described to The New York Times her experience of the crusade.    "It's like an opening in your heart. You feel like you're behind bars and someone has given you the key to get out," she said.
How can anyone not root for such people?
But the point is that America's religious revival is more than just a right-wing political phenomenon. It has also brought Americans of different races and economic classes together; brought community to towns, suburbs and neighborhoods that were being atomized by modern American life, and brought recovery to millions of Americans whose lives were being destroyed by alcoholism, drug abuse, domestic violence and the whole menu of contemporary American afflictions.
For all the irrationalism and Christian American chauvinism this religious revival has contributed to American politics, it has another side: that of an open-hearted, egalitarian social movement.
If I, a traditional blue-state liberal, think about people instead of just about politics, then the new, born-again America doesn't scare me at all. As a society, in fact, it seems more inviting and interesting than the one I left.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:59 PM | Permalink

Twists and Turns

If your house were severely damaged in the landslide at Laguna Beach and dangled over a cliff, but you were allowed 15 minutes to venture inside under the supervision of emergency workers to recover keepsakes and valuables, what would you take?

Albert Trevino, 74, got his passport, some documents, and his wife's favorite painting of the Mission San Juan Capistrano  that he bought for $50 at a garage sale some 25 years ago.  His son said, "The only reason I grabbed it was because my Mom loved the Mission so much.  At least that way they'd always have something they love if they move into a new house."

The Trevinos took the painting to the home of Pat Hagen, a family friend and artist, for safe-keeping, who said, "I stepped out, around the corner and said, 'Oh my God, that's so beautiful'."

Then she noticed the artist's signature, Joseph Kleitsch, a pioneer  of the California plein-air movement, who lived and painted in Laguna Beach before his death in 1931. 

A Laguna Beach art dealer appraised "Evening Shadows"  at $500,000.

Albert Trevino said, "Isn't life just a series of twists and turns?  You never know what can happen."

With no insurance coverage for landslides, the Trevinos plan to use the money to build a new house.

For twenty years, the painting hung on the living room wall, but two months before the slide, the painting was moved to another room, and a lucky thing too since no one could have ventured into the living room dangling off the cliff.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:22 PM | Permalink

June 29, 2005

Tsunami aftermath, traumatized people

Juliet Coomb, a volunteer and photojournalist from Melbourne, interviewed  children who survived the Asian Tsunami

"The first few days we cried not due to the death of our families but fear of these big machines held by giants with white faces that shine bright in our eyes.'"

It is not just for the expressive and lucid photography by the children once they were given cameras that Evelyn Rodriguez will be visiting Peraliya again.  Out of Tragedy, Meaning.

The mental health crisis the tsunami left behind is unimaginable.  Normal grief over the loss of loved ones has been compounded by the loss of homes, livelihood and entire community networks says a press release from the World Health Organization.  WHO is working with local organizations to train community-based workers to be counselors for traumatized individuals.

UPDATE:  Since I have a very strong, sometimes overactive blacklist, it's impossible for some people to add comments.  Here's what Evelyn Rodriguez wrote me:

Jill, Thanks. Actually Satinder Bindra, CNN's New Delhi Bureau Chief,
wrote that wonderful piece; and he says he is going back. I was really
struck by what he wrote and he's moved me to go to Peraliya, Sri
Lanka, this winter (with other writers, bloggers, photographers) for
the tsunami anniversary. The main theme is to take an in-depth look at
how people are rebuilding emotionally, psychologically, spiritually
over one year's time as I think their stories could shed light for
anyone confronted with trauma and loss in their own lives.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:06 PM | Permalink

Condemned to live

Martin Fletcher tells the story of Wafa al Biri, the 21 year old Palestinian woman whose greatest wish was to kill 30-50 Jews, including the doctor who saved her life.

When a gas cooker blew up while she was making dinner, burning her everywhere, she was taken from the Palestinian hospital to the Israeli hospital at Soroka. 

Dr. Yuval Krieger, the Israeli doctor who treated Wafa, said she arrived from the Palestinian hospital of Shifa with infected burn wounds. The treatment she had was not good and her burns were dressed incorrectly.
"Did you save her life?" Krieger was asked.
"I believe so, yes," he replied.
Before she was burned her mom told me that Wafa was a very funny girl, very active, laughing a lot," Latifah said. "But after the burning she became very tired and depressed. And often Wafa said to me, ‘I can't live like this, I am so ugly, I want to commit suicide.’ She had a fiance. But after the accident he left her. Then she kept crying, ‘Nobody will want me, I am too ugly, my body is scarred everywhere’."

When Wafa was released from Soroka, she didn't want to leave, Latifah said. "She was screaming, shouting, ‘Please don't let me go. I am better here. I'm going to die.’ But they made her leave, on a stretcher, and they took her home to Gaza."

In the Jabalya refugee camp, jilted by her fiance, surrounded by shamed brothers, scared parents and poverty, Wafa al-Biri was the worst of cases.

She was easy pickings for someone with a bomb and a cause. According to Wafa, the al-Aqsa militants came knocking. Here was a vulnerable young woman, willing to die, and moreover with the golden ticket — a pass for humanitarian reasons to a hospital in Israel.

After all, who would check the underwear of a sick young woman on her way to the hospital?

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:33 PM | Permalink

June 15, 2005

Find what you love

Remarkably good life advice from Steve Jobs.

I didn't see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods in my life.
I'm pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn't been fired from Apple. It was awful-tasting medicine but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life's going to hit you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith. I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You've got to find what you love, and that is as true for work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work, and the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking, and don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it, and like any great relationship it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking. Don't settle.

Every life transition, especially if it's hard,  is a chance to recreate your life, to reorient towards your own North Star, your truest self.

Philosopher and theologian, Harold Thurman Whitman wrote, "Don't ask yourself what the world needs - ask yourself what makes you come alive, and then go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive."     

Find what you love.  That's what makes you come alive.  Part of the Business of Life™.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:17 AM | Permalink

May 25, 2005

Extinct redheads

When people ask me if my hair color is natural, I reply it used to be. 

I now have grey and brown hairs where used to grow natural red hair. 

So what happened?

Will all redheads go extinct by 2100?

Am I just an early harbinger of a disturbing trend?

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:04 PM | Permalink

May 21, 2005

Your money or your life

By no means am I an expert on the health care industry or the national health service in the UK,  but I never imagined it was a Health service starved of humanity as described in the London Times.

THIS WEEK Leslie Burke sat in court in a wheelchair and listened while lawyers argued whether he should be starved and dehydrated to death. The lawyers arguing in favour of the proposition were egged on by the Secretary of State for Health, who deemed it too expensive to feed and water the ailing patient.

The General Medical Council was contending before the court that decisions over treatment were for doctors, not patients, ignoring utterly the provisions of the Mental Capacity Act which allow patients to make living wills denying themselves treatment and which will bind any doctor who might take a different view. In other words, a patient may choose to die and his wishes will be paramount but if he chooses to live he is to be deemed an expensive impediment to the authority of the medical profession. Of course, the Hippocratic oath is no longer automatically required, so it is possible for these doctors to look Mr Burke in the eye and tell him that it is their right to starve him to death.

I emphasise again that the issue here is food and fluid, not some esoteric and complicated medical procedure. We are not talking about assisting someone to breathe but merely refusing to starve him. Throughout the passage of the Mental Capacity Bill in Parliament the argument was put forward strongly in both Houses that it should be made explicit that food and fluid do not constitute treatment. The Government adamantly refused. We can now see why, but none of us could have predicted the speed with which the effects would be realised: the Bill was passed immediately before Parliament dissolved for the election and now, less than a month later, a minister says that it is too costly to administer basic sustenance to the dying.

During the passage of that damnable Bill we thought we were talking about the possible withdrawal of food and fluid from the unconscious (as in the case of Tony Bland, the Hillsborough victim who remained locked in a coma) or from those who could no longer take a decision because of mental incapacity. That had implications enough but
never in our wildest nightmares did we suppose that a mentally competent man in a wheelchair would have to fight for the right not to be starved.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:36 PM | Permalink

May 16, 2005

Moving Times

Moving is sometimes happy, sometimes sad, never easy.  I suppose it also depends on where you are in your life and the circumstances propelling the move.   

It's too easy just to focus on all that must be done to sell or buy a home.  Not a small job.

Still and all, moving is another form of reinventing your life.  Your attitude about what you can do affects your experience.  Here are two interesting blogs about the personal experience of moving.

Garden for Sale Home Included starting off with stories about her garden.

A Sense of Place, finding somewhere to call home by my friend Ronni Benett who also writes at Time Goes by

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:12 PM | Permalink

April 30, 2005

You don't slide up a slope

It's getting harder and harder to keep up when you're sliding down the slope. 

Genetic Mingling Mixes Human, Animal Cells

Particularly worrisome to some scientists are the nightmare scenarios that could arise from the mixing of brain cells: What if a human mind somehow got trapped inside a sheep's head?.....

In January, an informal ethics committee at Stanford University endorsed a proposal to create mice with brains nearly completely made of human brain cells. Stem cell scientist Irving Weissman said his experiment could provide unparalleled insight into how the human brain develops and how degenerative brain diseases like Parkinson's progress.

Stanford law professor Hank Greely, who chaired the ethics committee, said the board was satisfied that the size and shape of the mouse brain would prevent the human cells from creating any traits of humanity. 
Just in case, Greely said, the committee recommended closely monitoring the mice's behavior and immediately killing any that display human-like behavior.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:12 PM | Permalink

April 27, 2005

Do what you love

If you've only heard "Do what you love and the money will follow" Curt Rosengren at Worthwhile gives us the fuller, more accurate quote.

Do what you love, work really, really hard, be patient, be persistent, be open, work really, really hard so more and the money will follow

That sounds right. But how do you know when you're in the second "work really, really hard", closer to the end than the beginning?
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:48 PM | Permalink

April 22, 2005

Animal Gratitude

In the course of verifying or debunking claims, often brings to light something I've missed like this great photo of a grateful Doberman kissing a fireman who just put out a house fire in Charlotte, Virginia.

  Animal Gratitude

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:21 PM | Permalink

April 13, 2005

Female Midlife Crisis

We all know that stereotypical view of the midlife crisis involving men, new cars and young blondes.  Turns out, the facts surrounding midlife crisis today are quite different.  When Sue Shellenbarger,  the Work and Family columnist for the Wall St Journal had hers, she realized "The midlife crisis is a cliche -- until you have one." 

The shock of recognition led to an overwhelming reader response which in turn led her to begin collecting stories for her new book, The Breaking Point: How Female Midlife Crisis is Transforming Today's Women.

Some excerpts from her column on the Female Midlife Crisis (WSJ subscribers only, sorry)

Dozens told heartfelt tales of pain, upheaval, rebirth and transformation in middle age, and said they had no idea other women were experiencing the same thing. My comic tale had touched a hidden nerve. Clearly, millions of midlife women had reached a crisis stage -- a time when old values and goals no longer made sense to them.
A startlingly high number of women have experienced what they consider a
midlife crisis, broadly defined as a stressful or turbulent psychological transition that occurs most often in the late 40s and early 50s.

By age 50, even more women than men are reporting a turbulent midlife transition -- 36.1% of women, compared with 34% of men -- according to research by Elaine Wethington, a Cornell University associate professor, based on a subset of the giant 6,432-person MacArthur Foundation "Midlife in the United States" study of Americans' well-being at midlife.

Applying the findings to the 42-million-member generation of U.S. women who are nearing or in middle age, defined as about 38 to 55 years old,
more than 15 million women will have, or are already having, what they regard as a midlife crisis -- about equal to the entire populations of Colorado, Massachusetts and Minnesota combined.

This pattern of female midlife crisis is emerging now because, to put it simply, women are different today. For the first time in history, women not only face more of the kind of stresses that tend to bring on midlife crises, but they also have the financial muscle, the skills and the confidence to act out their frustrations and resolve them. In a sense, women are having midlife crises now because they can.
Here's what women said after their midlife crisis which should give millions heart.

Without exception, the women who made big midlife changes said that if given the chance to do it all again, they would embrace new undertakings even more wholeheartedly. Every one of the women who entered fully into midlife crisis, taking risks and exploring new opportunities, was enthusiastically glad that she had. Their only regrets were in failing to start sooner or to take more chances.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:09 PM | Permalink

March 28, 2005

Boy who divorced parent is adopted

From the Boston Globe, by Megan Trench

The tragic journey of Patrick Holland, the first child in state history to divorce a parent, passed a hopeful milestone yesterday when the 15-year-old emerged from a courthouse grinning alongside his new adoptive parents.
In a brief but emotional ceremony at Norfolk Probate Court, Patrick was adopted by Ron and Rita Lazisky, his mother's best friends. The couple cared for him after his father shot and bludgeoned his mother to death in Quincy in 1998
Patrick didn't set out to make national news by winning a groundbreaking legal battle last year to divorce his father. He also didn't aim to be a trailblazer by pushing a bill now before the Legislature.

Called Patrick's Law, the bill would automatically terminate the parental rights of a parent convicted of murdering the other. There are similar laws in Florida, Louisiana, New Hampshire, Tennessee, and Virginia. The bill would also give children a say in whether to terminate the parent's rights permanently.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:01 AM | Permalink

March 15, 2005

Ashley Smith

From the Blog of Henry David Thoreau,  March 14, 1860

No sooner has the ice of Walden melted than the wind begins to play in dark ripples over the surface of the virgin water. It is affecting to see nature so tender, however old, and wearing none of the wrinkles of age. Ice dissolved is the next moment as perfect water as if it had been melted a million years. To see that which was lately so hard and immovable now so soft and impressible!  What if our moods could dissolve thus completely? It is like a flush of life to a cheek that was dead.

Life can change so suddenly.  Stone walls around a heart dissolve.  Maybe something like that happened when Ashley Smith was taken hostage by Atlanta courthouse shooting suspect Brian Nichols.

I asked him if I could read. 
He said, "What do you want to read?"
"Well, I have a book in my room." So I went and got it. I got my Bible. And I got a book called "The Purpose-Driven Life." 
I turned it to the chapter that I was on that day. It was Chapter 33. And I started to read the first paragraph of it.
After I read it, he said, "Stop, will you read it again?" 
I said, "Yeah. I'll read it again." 
So I read it again to him.  It mentioned something about what you thought your purpose in life was. What were you -- what talents were you given? What gifts were you given to use?
And I asked him what he thought. And he said, "I think it was to talk to people and tell them about you."
I basically just talked to him and tried to gain his trust. I wanted to leave to go see my daughter. That was really important. I didn't want him to hurt anybody else.

Her family says Ashley has been turning around her "sad, tough life."  Well, she done more than that.  She not only saved her own life, but probably others as well by the way she handled a terrifying situation.  Now, she'll probably get a book contract and inspire and influence many more.  She's found her purpose. 

UPDATE: The Washington Post has a good story on Ashley who the murderer Brian Nichols called "An angel sent from God".

Smith did not develop trust by being wishy-washy. At one point during her seven-hour ordeal, Nichols told her he was "already dead." He might have had a point -- after all, he was suspected of killing a judge, a court reporter, a sheriff's deputy, and a federal customs and immigration agent. But she would not hear it.  "He needed hope for his life," she recounted in the interview that has been replayed countless times.  "You are not dead -- you are standing right in front of me," she recalled telling Nichols. "If you want to die, you can. It's your choice."

UPDATE 2.  Peggy Noonan has great piece on OpinionJournal(no subscription needed but registration required) Flannery O'Connor Country  She points to two photos of Brian Nichols, the first before he met Ashley, the second after.  Then she writes.  Something changed.  Something happened.

It is an idiot's errand to follow such testimony with commentary. It's too big. There is nothing newspaper-eloquent to say. We have entered Flannery O'Connor country, and only geniuses need apply.   

Here are mere facts. They were together seven hours and each emerged transformed. He gave himself up without a fight and is now in prison. She reported to police all that had transpired, the police told the press, and now she is famous. 

Tuesday evening on the news a "hostage rescue expert" explained that she "negotiated like a pro." Actually what she did is give Christian witness. It wasn't negotiation. It had to do with being human. 

It is an amazing and beautiful story. And for all its unlikeliness you know it happened as Smith said. You know she told the truth. It's funny how we all know this.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:01 AM | Permalink

March 9, 2005

When Women March

These are quite extraordinary days when ordinary people across the Mid-east are rising up in protest against those who deny them the basic human rights, what we all take for granted. 

How inspiring it is to watch people begin to take care of the most important business of their lives.

What's more striking is that we're seeing photos of mid-east women protesting.  Can it be that the force of women, unheard of before in this part of the world, will create the tipping point, beyond which there's no going back?  Isn't democracy inexorably tied to women's rights?  Weren't more than 40% of voters in Afghanistan and Iraq women?

I didn't notice many women at the pro-Syrian demonstration today in Beirut, even though it's International Women's Day.

     Burka Woman-1


MULTAN, Pakistan -  Thousands of women rallied in eastern Pakistan on Monday to demand justice and protection for a woman who said she was gang-raped at the direction of a village council, after a court ordered the release of her alleged attackers.....

Organizer Frazana Bari and her group Pattan, a charity working with women in rural communities said, "We are with every woman who is oppressed and who face injustices.

   Pakistan Women-1

KUWAIT (Reuters) - Around 500 Kuwaiti activists, mostly women, have demonstrated outside parliament to demand female suffrage amidst tensions in the Gulf Arab state over a government drive to grant women political rights.

"Women's rights now," chanted the crowd, which included women dressed in abayas, or traditional long black cloaks. Some of the demonstrators at Monday's protest wore veils over their faces.

"Our democracy will only be complete with women," said a placard written in Arabic. "We are not less, you are not more. We need a balance, open the door," said one written in English.

   Kuwait Women


Tens of thousands of Moroccans marched in Rabat to express their support for the Moroccans still detained in the Tindouf camps in Algeria.

The March was organized by Collectif Watanouna
- set up on January 20- calling on international organizations to “intervene to put an end to the sufferings of families and children, who are separated from their mothers, and to release all Moroccans held in Tindouf.”

These Moroccans were emprisoned for more than 25 years, following the artificial struggle over the Moroccanity of Southern Moroccan provinces. This struggle opposes Morocco to the Algerian-backed Polisario Front, which has tried to separate the provinces, known as Moroccan Sahara.


With a big tip of the hat to Publius Pundit who is blogging the democratic revolution around the world.

I shouldn't forget P.J. O'Rourke who once famously observed, if you want to see a bellwether of where the culture is headed, look for where the beautiful women are politically.


Instapundit is noticing.

Like I said earlier, which crowd would you rather hang out with? I hope a lot of Al Jazeera-watchers are asking themselves the same question.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:00 AM | Permalink

March 2, 2005

Cedar Revolution

Yesterday was a most wonderful day in Lebanon.  Who can't feel joy at the sight of the Lebanese
saying to their Syrian occupiers, "Enough" as they defied bans to march to Martyr's Square in Beirut.

"Freedom, sovereignty, independence"  they shouted as they took back and claimed control over the most important business in their lives.

It took the assassination of the former prime minister Rafiq Hariri and quite possibly the example of the voters in the Ukraine and in Iraq to give Lebanese citizens the courage to defy their Syrian overlords.

   Beirut Wp

"What we learned when he was killed is there is no ceiling here anymore," Pascal Attalah, 34, a financial consultant  said. "If they can kill Hariri, no one is safe." reported  the Washington Post.

"It shouldn't have taken something like this to bring us out here, but sometimes it takes just such a turning point," said  Attalah,  who with a  group of friends joined others in defying a government ban and generally porous army barricades to demonstrate.  They sipped lattes and ate croissants and vowed that their would last for the duration of Lebanon's uprising.

   Beirut Woman

A long debate in parliament, carried over loudspeakers, a no-confidence vote and the surprise resignation of the current prime minister  Omar Karami who said, "I am keen that the government not stand as an obstacle for those who want good for this country."

Cheers and celebration.

  Beirut V Girl

"It's all happening today. "This is a dream come true. It's what we've been waiting for since the early 1990s." said Charbel Tauk    "For the first time, we feel the spirit of freedom. We didn't feel that freedom before,"

What's most moving for those of us who watched the civil wars in Lebanon play out on television for years is the new sense of national identity that transcends religious identities.

"All the people want freedom, Muslims, Christians, Druze, everyone. People here are holding the cross and the Koran," Mira Rahme, 21, said at the protest

UPDATE:  Demonstrators have renamed "Martyrs' Square" to "Freedom Square"
What a great sign in choosing life over death.  HT to Harry's Place.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:31 AM | Permalink

February 26, 2005

Aging Brings Increased Capacity for Love

Everyone wants to live a long life, few want to age; but the only way to live a long life is to grow older.
So what is it like this growing older?  Let me commend a series of interviews that Ronni Bennett has begun at Time Goes By.    The first interviewee is Hugh Downs. Here is Part 1 and Part 2.
Some selected excerpts:

When I was young, I thought getting old would entail a lot of sorrow that I could no longer do things I thought were important to do. This proved to be false simply because of a change in what I thought was important to do....
I am most different from my youthful days in being much more in control of my comfort and having a vastly increased capacity for the appreciation of everything. Esthetic experiences are much deeper, the intensity of interest in interesting things.  The ability to love has increased beyond anything I could have imagined….
The biggest surprise I found on getting to my mid-eighties is why I still feel like I am thirty-five….
I think unsuccessful aging happens in two ways: bad luck, where a person has the misfortune to grow old without maturing (in the way a piece of fruit can start to rot without ripening) and/or develop the improper attitude that age is something to be regarded with dread, in which case it can become dreadful….
The best part of getting older is the unending potential for increasing the knack of enjoying, of relishing, of reminiscing and loving that more than offsets the decline in physical strength, the curtailment of faculties and the necessity to face mortality.  The worst part is the sad social attitudes we have that result in making elders the target of discrimination and neglect.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:24 PM | Permalink

February 24, 2005

Marijuana & Nicotine for Alzheimer's

Boomers will like this.  Marijuana may help stem Alzheimer's Disease.  From a study appearing in the Journal of Neuroscience.   

Nicotine  also 'reduces Alzheimer's symptoms'.  A by-product may help prevent the plaques linked to Alzheimer's disease from forming according to researchers at the Scripps Research Institute in California.

Here's a scientific challenge worthy of the name.  Isolate the effective compounds and put them in a form that won't damage our lungs. 

Who knows some day they may even find bacon is good for you and  Woody Allen's vision of the future in Sleeper was, in virtually all respects, true.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:05 AM | Permalink

February 18, 2005

Making It Up As We Go

Here's a blog many of us can relate to - What Retirement? Approaching yet another generational frontier, making it up as we go. 

I find I need a brand new category that I'm sure will fill up quickly as the social security debate goes on.  What to do?  Frankly I don't know.  I do believe that global aging is a far bigger threat than global warming - the demographics are incontrovertible and the science is not.

I'm going to just sit and listen for a while while I contemplate this chart from Agewave

   Change In Population Growth

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:13 AM | Permalink

February 10, 2005

Those in between

I've never forgotten a certain quote by Nelson Mandela because it wraps up the whole of the human world, the coming, the going and the working. 

Let us take care of the children for they have a long way to go.
Let us take care of the elders for they have come a long way.
Let us take care of those in between for they are doing all the work.

I've lost the original source but maybe one of you know.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:23 PM | Permalink

February 8, 2005

Mid-Life Depression

If you're middle-aged and feeling more than a tad depressed, you'll be cheered to know that DHEA, an over-the-counter hormone may help according to a recent study at the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:38 PM | Permalink

February 7, 2005

Iraqi Statue of Liberty

I just loved this photo so much I wanted to share it.

        Iraqi Statue Of Liberty
She could be the model for the Iraqi Statue of Liberty.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:39 PM | Permalink

January 31, 2005

The Business of their Lives

These people took care of the most important business of their lives with such great courage in the face of death as to make our little fears about doing what we know we should do to take care of the business of our own lives seem mean and paltry. 

This is what Mohammed on iraqthemodel said after voting.

We had all kinds of feelings in our minds while we were on our way to the ballot box except one feeling that never came to us, that was fear.  We could smell pride in the atmosphere this morning; everyone we saw was holding up his blue tipped finger with broad smiles on the faces while walking out of the center.

I couldn't think of a scene more beautiful than that. From the early hours of the morning, People filled the street to the voting center in my neighborhood; youths, elders, women and men. Women's turn out was higher by the way. And by 11 am the boxes where I live were almost full! Anyone watching that scene cannot but have tears of happiness, hope, pride and triumph.

How can I describe it!? Take my eyes and look through them my friends, you have supported the day of Iraq's freedom and today, Iraqis have proven that they're not going to disappoint their country or their friends. Is there a bigger victory than this? I believe not.

I walked forward to my station, cast my vote and then headed to the box, where I wanted to stand as long as I could, then I moved to mark my finger with ink, I dipped it deep as if I was poking the eyes of all the world's tyrants.  I put the paper in the box and with it, there were tears that I couldn't hold; I was trembling with joy and I felt like I wanted to hug the box but the supervisor smiled at me and said "brother, would you please move ahead, the people are waiting for their turn".

Yes brothers, proceed and fill the box! These are stories that will be written on the brightest pages of history.

It was hard for us to leave the center but we were happy because we were sure that we will stand here in front of the box again and again and again.
Today, there's no voice louder than that of freedom.

  Long Line Iraq

  Man Being Carried To Polls

   Iraqi Voter

  Woman Finger Ink Drying

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:59 PM | Permalink

January 29, 2005

Learning Goodness

The most moving piece I've read on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz is by Aharon Applefeld in the Guardian. which I wouldn't have read had not Norman Geras written an outstanding post about this outstanding piece. 

To put this in some context, Applefeld was deported to a concentration camp when he was eight.

In January 1945, 60 years ago, the wheels of destruction in Auschwitz stood still. The few people left alive describe the prevailing silence as the silence of death. Those who came out of hiding after the war, out of the forests and monasteries, also describe the shock of liberation as freezing, crippling silence. Nobody was happy. The survivors stood at the fences in amazement. Human language, with all its nuances, turned into a mute tongue.... 

....But most survivors - myself, and especially the young - were outside the realm of faith, and from the first stages of the liberation we were engaged with the question of how to go on living a life with meaning. The temptation to forget and be forgotten, and to assimilate back into normal life, lurked for every survivor... 

How to live a life of meaning is the question we all face as we mature.  But where is meaning in the presence of evil?

......A doctor who survived, from a religious background, who sailed to Israel with us in June 1946, told us: "We didn't see God when we expected him, so we have no choice but to do what he was supposed to do: we will protect the weak, we will love, we will comfort. From now on, the responsibility is all ours."

Joan Chittister, a Benedictine nun, writes: Be the Light in A Short History of Good and Evil and the Good You Can Do. I was particularly struck her summary of Hannah Arendt's interviews with Eichmann.

Hannah Arendt, in her groundbreaking book, Eichmann in Jerusalem, discovered what she least expected and least wanted to face.  During multiple interviews with Eichmann, the German Jewish author discovered that he was not a monster. He was not even an anti-Semitic maniac or a twisted, distorted demon of a man.  Eichmann, she said, was a man who simply wanted to get ahead, to succeed in his life, to please his superiors, to be respected by his peers, to do his job well, to be patriotic, devoted, and responsible. Indeed, he had good intentions and he had learned obedience. 
Somehow, though, he had not learned goodness. 

He was not a monster, he had just not learned goodness.  Chittister continues:

If the banality of evil in this time is to be confronted, you and I must come to understand that what the world is really missing is us. The banality of evil rests on our bland unawareness that we are the only thing between it and success. The fact is that every holocaust begins or ends with me and you.

The good in evil is not an argument that evil is good. The good in evil is only the good we bring to it, the good we do in the face of it.

Mahatma Gandhi reduced this to its very essence.  We have to be what we want to see.
That's something every one of us can do.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:27 PM | Permalink

Voting with Heart

Today, I feel the same excitement I did when the Berlin Wall fell, when the Afghanis voted, and when the Ukranians voted again.  It moves me to tears to think that the Iraqis will be voting tomorrow and braving threats of death to do so.

This is what Iraqi blogger Mohammed wrote yesterday at Iraq the Model.

Less than 48 hours left before the people of Iraq experience free decision making for the first time in their country's modern history.  It's a moment of pure freedom but still surrounded by lots of dangers just like any beautiful rose surrounded by spikes.  There is fear from the enemies of freedom who have their weapons already prepared to intimidate us and stop us from choosing our future.  But at the same time we're full of hope as we know that we've put our feet on the right track and even if we make a bad choice once, we know that we will have the chance to reevaluate the situation again. No more tyrants ruling the country for decades..... 

On Sunday, the sun will rise on the land of Mesopotamia. I can't wait, the dream is becoming true and I will stand in front of the box to put my heart in it. 

We are with you and all the brave Iraqis who vote tomorrow for a new beginning. May their courage be a beacon to all the world.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:58 PM | Permalink

January 12, 2005

Blushing with Pride

In this week's Carnival of the Vanities #121 at Multiple Mentality,  Josh Cohen has collected the best posts around the blogosphere.  It's well worth visiting to see the variety of posts and the diversity of bloggers out there.

Here's what he had to say about my post Ship of Pearl, Coils of Time.

There’s a picture in this post from Jill Fallon of Legacy Matters that looks like a giant insect. But that’s just on the surface. The post itself takes us from beautiful images to an understanding of the world. The most unique Carnival post that I think I’ve ever read.

I'm blushing with pride. 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:10 PM | Permalink

Cottage Rules of Life

For some time now, I've begun to visualize the next stage of my life.  I've been fantasizing about cozy cottages with fireplaces,  porches and plenty of room for books and guests.  I guess I'm not the only aging boomer who thinks about retiring part-time to the country.  Witness Cottage Living a new magazine  which has some wonderful cottage floor plans and other yummy stuff.

There's a definite southern focus which makes sense since the company also publishes Southern Living.  Is it just me or do southerners and the English understand cottages the best.  I found Autumn Cottage, one of those engaging l sites by Roz Cawley who lives in a  300 year old cottage in Hampshire.  Roz  wants to share her delight in the English countryside, her passion for miniature houses and some collected rules of life. 

1. Give people more than they expect and do it cheerfully.
2. Memorize your favorite poem.
3. Don't believe all you hear, spend all you have or sleep all you want.
4. When you say, "I love you", mean it.
5. When you say, "I'm sorry", look the person in the eye.
6. Be engaged at least six months before you get married.
7. Believe in love at first sight.
8. Never laugh at anyone's dreams.
9. Love deeply and passionately. You might get hurt but it's the only  way to live life completely.
10. In disagreements, fight fairly. No name calling.
11. Don't judge people by their relatives. -- We are NOT all alike......
12. Talk slow but think quick.
13. When someone asks you a question you don't want to answer, smile and  ask, "Why do you want to know?".
14. Remember that great love and great achievements involve great risk.
15. Call your mom. Or some one you love
16. Say "bless you" when you hear someone sneeze.
17. When you lose, don't lose the lesson.
18. Remember the three R's: Respect for self; Respect for others; Responsibility for all your actions.
19. Don't let a little dispute injure a great friendship.
20. When you realize you've made a mistake, take immediate steps to  correct it. SAY I'M SORRY MORE.......
21. Smile when picking up the phone. The caller will hear it in your voice.
22. Marry a man you love to talk to. As you get older, his  conversational skills will be as important as any other.
23. Spend some time alone.
24. Open your arms to change, but don't let go of your values.
25. Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
26. Read more books and watch less TV.
27. Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get older and think back,  you'll get to enjoy it a second time.
28. Trust in God but lock your car.
29. A loving atmosphere in your home is so important. Do all you can to  create a tranquil harmonious home.
30. In disagreements with loved ones, deal with the current situation.  Don't bring up the past.
31. Read between the lines.
32. Share your knowledge. It's a way to achieve immortality.
33. Be gentle with the earth.
34. Pray, there's immeasurable power in it.
35. Never interrupt when you are being flattered.
36. Mind your own business.
37. Don't trust a man who doesn't close his eyes when you kiss him.
38. Once a year, go someplace you've never been before.
39. If you make a lot of money, put it to use helping others while you  are living. That is wealth's greatest satisfaction.
40. Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a stroke of luck.
41. Learn the rules then break some.
42. Remember that the best relationship is one where your love for each  other is greater than your need for each other.
43. Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.
44. Remember that your character is your destiny.
45. Approach love and cooking with reckless abandon

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:48 AM | Permalink

January 11, 2005

After the Flood, Stories of Hope

Beliefnet has started a blog to collect stories of survival, generosity and the strength of the human spirit in the wake of the tsunami disaster.  Called After the Flood, Stories of Hope, the blog is compiled from AP sources by Holly Lebowitz Rossi.

I want to add two others I've collected. The family saved by their towels.  A British tourist described yesterday how he had saved his wife and children from the onslaught of the tsunami by tying them like Christmas decorations to the top of a palm tree.

Alive: mother who ran towards death  A MOTHER’S selfless instinct, running towards almost certain death as the giant wave advanced on her three children, was one of the most striking images to emerge from the disaster. It seemed inconceivable that either the blonde mother running towards the sea as all others fled, or her family, could escape alive. But last night Karin Svard described from her home in northern Sweden how she and her three sons Anton, 14, Filip, 11, and Viktor, 10, escaped alive from the tumbling wall of water on Hat Rai Lay beach in Krabi, Thailand, where at least 200 people died.“I could see this white wall coming towards me and it was coming faster. I did not care, I was looking at my children. I wanted to hold them and care for them.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:29 AM | Permalink

January 5, 2005

More grief

When I asked my late husband Jack what the news was, he'd reply, "More grief."  That's what I think when I read the news from Southeast Asia.  Waves and waves of more grief.

The dead have to be buried again. 

In Thailand, in a frantic effort, some 200 forensic experts from 19 different countries,  they are exhuming dead bodies that were mislabeled and given the wrong tags in the haste to bury them. 

At one temple on the outskirts of Patong, several hundred bodies lay on the ground, covered by tarpaulin and body bags while another hundred lay exposed as they were sprayed with disinfectant.

There are whole villages lost, whole families lost... 

Anthony Richard, a native of Sri Lanka moved to British Columbia 11 years ago.    He learned that 72 of his relatives are missing and presumed dead. "They are gone. A whole generation wiped out."

The predators have come out. 

There are the inevitable email scams from the people who brought you Nigerian widows.  More worrying are the Child trafficking concerns which are adding to tsunami woes.  A Swedish father whose son disappeared after the tsunami believes a sex ring has stolen his son.  His U.S. Marine grandfather is on the case.  There are reports of gang rape, rapists attack homeless women and children

The sea has become a cemetery for many Sri Lankans. Now people hate the sea - they hate it,"

So what else has The Great Wave brought.

The Great Wave

via The American Digest  who also brings a report on how to build a global internet tsunami warning system in a month.

There's been a  wave of compassion from around the world.

The over wheming generosity of individuals and corporations  who will likely outdo their governments in the amount of donations.  In one week's time Americans have donated $236 million dollars in private contributions.

Even Hollywood stars are chipping in $1 million a piece according to Ann Althouse who doesn't have permalinks 

Sandra Bullock has donated $1 million for tsunami relief. So has Julia Roberts, Cameron Diaz, Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, Drew Barrymore, Halle Berry, Angelina Jolie, Renee Zellweger, and Jennifer Lopez: you're going to have to give one million ... or you're stingy!

At this rate, Hollywood stars are going to donate more than Saudi Arabia.

A global consciousness is surely being formed.  Globalization has made distant disasters seem close at home.  To Those Seeking Help and Giving It, Computer Is a Lifeline.  But it's the blogs, many newly set up that are providing the first-person, on-the-scene accounts.  They are our eyes and ears.  From Evelyn Rodriguez, they are Witnessing from the Heart .

While the UN is sending bureaucrats, the US Military is doing extraordinary work.  From the Diplomad who also quotes the following Dutch situation report.

The US military has arrived and is clearly establishing its presence everywhere in Banda Aceh. They completely have taken over the military hospital, which was a mess until yesterday but is now completely up and running. They brought big stocks of medicines, materials for the operation room, teams of doctors, water and food. Most of the patients who were lying in the hospital untreated for a week have undergone medical treatment by the US teams by this afternoon. US military have unloaded lots of heavy vehicles and organize the logistics with Indonesian military near the airport. A big camp is being set up at a major square in the town. Huge generators are ready to provide electricity. US helicopters fly to places which haven't been reached for the whole week and drop food. The impression it makes on the people is also highly positive; finally something happens in the city of Banda Aceh and finally it seems some people are in control and are doing something. No talking but action. European countries are until now invisible on the ground. 

Finally via the The Anchoress,  is an extraordinary report of Frank Martin who finally let loose after his European colleagues made fun of George Bush for sending an aircraft carrier to the disaster scene.  When the room fell silent, his Hindi friend added,

Can you let your hatred of George Bush end for just one minute? There are people dying! And what are your countries doing? has helped more than France has. You all have a role to play in the world, why can't you see that? Thank God for the US Navy, they dont have to come and help, but they are. They helped you once and you should all thank God they did. They didnt have to, and no one but them would have done so. I'm ashamed of you all...
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:51 PM | Permalink

December 30, 2004

America and the world getting better

Despite war, hunger, and the terrible tsunamis in Southeast Asia, take heart, America and the world is becoming better.

  • America's kids are all right.
  • America is healthier
  • America is cleaner
  • the world is less violent
  • the world is freer
  • the world is healthier
  • the world is getting cleaner

Radley Balko put together the list and the supporting sources at Straight Talk - The Good News

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:51 PM | Permalink

Pregnant with Twins at 67

We are truly going where no humans have gone before when a Romanian woman is pregnant with twins at 67  after fertility treatments.  Optimistic about her future, Adrian Iliescu, an author and academic, said her family has a history of longevity.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:19 AM | Permalink

December 29, 2004

Chaos and Tsunamis - Look Back in Terror

A satellite view of the tsunami in Sri Lanka.  This is what chaos looks like.

Before And After-1

And this is what it looked like on the ground as people looked back in terror.

Sidney Morning Herald Look Back

from the Sidney Morning Herald.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:25 PM | Permalink

Waves that change everything.

It's quite impossible to take in the immensity of the tragedy of the tsunamis in Southeast Asia.  The numbers boggle the mind.  It may be over 60,000 lives lost now.  There are few things we can do.  First, contributions of course to pay for emergency relief of water, clothes and shelter.  Click on How to Help  for a list of organizations accepting contributions to help the victims.

The stories are heart-wrenching and there so many. The people lost and the people left behind. 
From The Guardian

"My house collapsed and I had my daughter's hand in mine as we ran back from the water," said her distraught father, Raja. "But the wave took her from my hands."    From the same spot Shiva Prakashan, 26, saw his father swept away by the waves."He was sitting by the street and suddenly the water came," he said. "I looked back and he was gone."

From The Age in Australia

This was the worst day in our history," said Sri Lankan businessman YP Wickramsinghe as he picked through the rubble of his dive shop in the devastated southwestern town of Galle.  "I wish I had died. There is no point in living."

From the New York Times

Mulyana, a 24-year-old housewife, had just sat down to a wedding party on Sunday morning when the tsunami struck. She ran and held on to a coconut tree. But the water pulled her away anyway, far out to sea.
"I was alone in the middle of the ocean," she said from her hospital bed in this town on the northeastern coast of Aceh Province, the area of Indonesia hit hardest by the disaster. "I was afraid of being pulled all the way to India."
Mulyana, who cannot swim, grabbed to a coconut tree floating nearby and clung to it. With the weight of her clothes pulling her down, she ripped off everything but her bra and prayed to God to help her. Four hours later, a group of fishermen found her as they were pulling bodies from the water.

Norm Geras at Normblog has a terrific post  Perspectives on the calamity.  He quotes Simon Day at the University of California

As a scientist working on the causes and effects of tsunamis, I find editorialising along the lines of "a readiness to accept the hardness of our condition is the only proper attitude" quite excruciating. For me, the deepest horror of the event lies in the one to three hours between the recording of the earthquake on the worldwide seismic network and the arrival of the tsunami waves on distant coasts, while their victims lived out the last hours of their lives all unawares.

With less than an hour of warning and a simple lesson in advance on what to do, most would have been able to simply walk a mile inland to safety and the death toll would have been counted in the hundreds rather than the tens of thousands. Providing these things is not advanced science.

The most thought-provoking  is Waves by 'Cicero'  at Winds of Change. 

Living consists of enduring tsunamis -- unexpected waves rising out of the sea, changing everything. If asked only a minute before the first wave hit, “what threatens you the most,” the bin Laden bystander might have postulated that George Bush was his greatest threat, or American capitalism. Or perhaps he would have lamented diminishing fish supplies, or pointed at a deforested tropical coastland. Maybe he would have expressed fear for Tamil rebels, or government army men. Then, only one minute later, the sea’s horizon would tilt upwards, sweeping away the expected.

Change tends to come in waves -- deep, silent swells that knock every atom of presumption aside, overturning accepted prejudices, ideas, fears and dreams. 9/11 was one such wave. It was a great surge that overcame our meticulously constructed reality, seemingly impervious to the dark motives of bearded men living in 12th century Afghanistan. That wave rose out of the sea, on a beautiful, sunny day. And a new world was born in its wake.

In this last nod to 2004, we should remember waves. We can look back on human history and see that fundamental change rises from nowhere, and is revolutionary. Waves like the 1918 Influenza Pandemic, or the 1929 Crash; waves such as Pearl Harbor and Trinity, or a crumbling Berlin Wall, or the World Wide Web. In retrospect, there were impending signs, and surely their coming could have been foretold if anyone was attuned and heard. We should recognize that our greatest asset as living beings is our capacity to absorb waves. In so doing, we transform ourselves, and move ahead. The waves of this world make us a better people. We will endure only if we create opportunity from the abrupt realities that rise from the sea.

Change comes in waves.  Being prepared, being resilient, being compassionate is what we all must do as we endure the Business of Life and the waves that change everything.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:39 AM | Permalink

December 16, 2004

Heart Attack or Joy and Meaning

Are you under a lot of pressure at work? At a job you don't even like? Consider this: Stressful deadlines boost heart attack risk six-fold.

    "The pressure of meeting a work deadline can produce a sixfold increase in the risk of suffering a heart attack over the course of the following day. And competition at work could double the ongoing risk, according to a new study.
    Previous research has shown that intense anger, sexual activity and emotional stress can all lead to heart attacks. But this is the first time having an intense work deadline has been singled out as a trigger for heart attack over such a short timescale.
    The study questioned nearly 1400 heart attack survivors from the Stockholm area, aged 45 to 70, about the period leading up to their first heart attack. They were compared with a control group of about 1700 people who had not had a heart attack.

Maybe it's time to consider something Worthwhile - work with joy and meaning. Maybe it's time to embark on a new Occupational Adventure. If fear of the unknown is holding you back, ask yourself if you are creating Hard times that will never happen. Better a leap into the unknown than a heart attack.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:24 PM | Permalink

November 6, 2004

Using Cancer To Live More Richly

If you know of anyone with prostate cancer, let them know of the Monument Park of other men who fought the cancer and won.

Many met the challenge to live more richly like Fernando Barrueta

    The cancer got him to change his life -- he left a 30 year career in commercial real estate to go to the Hispanic College Fund. He realized that he wanted to do something meaningful, and that time was getting short. He is very happy now, enjoying life to the fullest extent while working very hard, watching his terminally cute grandchildren grow, and playing a lot of soccer

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:53 PM | Permalink

September 29, 2004

Green Houses

"Boomers have revolutionized music, food, fashion, childbirth and sex. Finally, they are on to something important. Nursing homes. " writes Lenore Skenazy of the New York Daily News.

Ronni Bennett looks at the numbers and says the Hilton Inn is less expensive than a nursing home in Let's Retire to the Hilton. Some of my favorite college memories center around the dining rooms and meals at the houses at Smith College. So much was it a part of the experience of being at Smith that any attempts to change it were always met by howls of the alumnae. I thought this would be a great way to grow older - friends living together, each with a private space, taking turns to prepare meals to enjoy together and lots of good conversation.

Green Houses sound a lot like that. The Green House project

From Lenore's piece

    “I aim to close every nursing home in America,” says geriatrician William Thomas, 44. “And I have 77 million allies. (Boomers) are going to resist being institutionalized on a massive scale.....
    “Residents are expected to surrender autonomy and personal dignity in return for their reliance on the staff,” Thomas writes in his electrifying new book, What Are Old People For? No wonder the residents get depressed. But what's the alternative?

    Frat houses. Or, as Thomas calls them, Green Houses. Same deal (minus the kegs): A group of people choosing to share a house and the activities of everyday life.

    Rather than “getting services” — the nursing home goal — the Green House goal is “convivium,” Thomas says: relishing good food with good friends. In fact, the whole day is organized around preparing meals.

    In Tupelo, Miss., you can see his first 13 Green Houses, which cost no more to run than a traditional institution. They’ve been up for 18 months, filled with former residents of a nursing home that was torn down to give Thomas' plan a try.

    “We liberated them!” Thomas says of the more than 100 elders. “And one of the first things we had to do was run out to the store for sun hats!” Some of the residents hadn’t been outside in years.

    Even though 80 percent of the elders have Alzheimer's, it's clear they are living a much better life.

    “One woman,” says Jude Rabig, the project director, “makes her cornbread once a week.” In another Green House, seven of the 10 residents used wheelchairs when they arrived. Today, only three do. It's easier to walk when you don't have to travel long corridors.

    The elders spend their days breaking bread, celebrating when they can and mourning when they must. In other words, they live a human life. As revolutions go, this is one we've all been waiting for.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:15 AM | Permalink

July 15, 2004

How to Help Your Family When Relocating for Your Job

More and more people are resisting corporate transfers because they are concerned about the effect on their families. Family resistance to corporate transfers is at a four year high, some 83% of employees who decline corporate transfers cite family reasons, up from 79% in 2002 according to an Atlas Van Survey of 300 employees. As the economy improves, so does corporate transfers (up 10-15% from a year ago according to Chris Collie from the Worldwide ERC, a nonprofit Washington DC relocation industry group). "Families almost universally underestimate how difficult it can be to relocate," writes Sue Shellenbarger in her Work & Family column for the WSJ, today Being Forced to Move for Your Job

So if you're asked to transfer, make sure to ask your employer for all the support, soft and hard, you will need. That includes

    1. additional time off
    2. counseling and job-finding help for the trailing spouse
    3. More househunting trips
    4. help with elder care, especially if you are also moving an elderly relative
    5. finding the right schools for kids.

Here are some helpful sites Sue has found
Schoolmatch the best source of school by school test scores, student-teacher ratios and per pupil spending
USconsumerconnection a new site that offers free schoolmatch data and real-estate price information and trends. Users must register with an email address
Sperling's best places free city comparisons on climate, transportation, crime, public services, taxes and demographics.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:41 PM | Permalink

July 1, 2004

The Stages of Moving

The Showcase, turns the spotlight on Red Sed, a South African girl living in Baltimore who, in a funny post, compares the stages of moving to the stages of grief.

Denial and Isolation : As soon as you find out that you're going to move, you look around your house and when you realize that all these things that you have mysteriously acquired over the years (seriously, where'd it all come from though?!) will now have to somehow be removed from said house, you go into instant denial.

To enhance that denial factor, you immediately leave the room and the possessions which are causing you such distress, closing the door behind you on your way out, thus placing said objects in isolation. But shutting the door, you find out, isn't doing much to silence the screams of your panicked conscience, so you enlist your voice of (warped?) reason to drown out your conscience by screaming that 24 are indeed a lot of hours, and therefore you still have plenty of time before your eviction move.

Anger. After killing two hours on your coffee break (where'd all that time go?), you cautiously venture back into the house. No, you didn't imagine it, because all the knick-knacks are still very much in your house. And in fact, they seemed to have mysteriously multiplied since you've last looked at them. So at this point you get furious with your sentimental self (see? Anger) for keeping all the crap lovely gifts that anyone has ever given you, and you grab trash bags and decide that from now on, you are going to embrace a simple life and adhere to the principles of Zenlike minimalism.

Bargaining . After ruthlessly and furiously filling up half a trash bag, and just as you're about to send the hot pink doilies from your Aunt Ethel the same way as the forks and plates (minimalism, remember?), you are filled with sudden remorse and so you remove all the plates and forks and doilies from the trashbag, deciding that you can't live without it after all. That is, until you reemerge from delving the last spoon out of the bottom of the trashbag only to see that your rescued possessions are now in a pile stretching as high as the Eiffel Tower. When you realize that you'll simply have to throw some things away, you start to bargain with yourself: You can keep those National Geographics from 1987 if you get rid of the plates. Or if you chuck the 1999 National Geographics (but you can't! They have that article on Meerkats in the one issue with the adorable photos) you can keep all the wrappers of the chocolates given to you by your first love.

Depression . It is around this time, when all your possessions are in piles on the floor, that you are overcome with fatigue and despair. And so you collapse onto the floor, sobbing. Because you are depressed. Very depressed.

Acceptance . Hopefully, you reach this phase with some time left before the moving truck arrives. If so, then you turn into a machine and pack your belongings at a head-spinning pace. If, however, the Prozac-induced acceptance overcomes you too late, then you promptly decide that you are embracing minimalism early and then you burn the whole lot.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:16 PM | Permalink

June 18, 2004

She went home, walked the dog and then tried to kill herself

It used to be that I depended upon fiction to give me glimpses of lives and experiences that I would never have. When I was much younger, one boyfriend called me "literary" because I absorbed some of these experiences so deeply that they were almost my mine own and I called upon them to explain what was happening in my life and with my friends.

Today, I read blogs to see how different people are living their lives. Blogs have created an amazing public space where people can speak about deeply intimate and personal things. When You Break is why Everyday Stranger started her blog. In one year, she lost her job, her marriage, tried to kill herself, cut off all her hair, found a new love, a dream job and the house of her dreams. She calls herself an ordinary girl living in extraordinary circumstances.

This blog represents my brain, my heart, and my angst. It has saved me and it has caused me problems. It has given me more support than I could have dreamed, and I have met the kindest people. If you open up the web browser on Everyday Stranger, you will find my feelings wrapped around every paragraph and every post. It's all real, and always has been.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:34 PM | Permalink

February 29, 2004

Relocation takes an emotional toll

Surviving the stress of a work-related move can be a tough life passage.
"count on an emotional earthquate" said Chuck Moller, SVP at Manchester USA, a consutling firm specializing in executive development and career transitions.

See article by Alan Earls, Boston Sunday Globe, 11/2/03

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:34 PM | Permalink