April 15, 2014

April 15th

Congratulations.    Americans now pay more in taxes than they spend on food, clothing and housing combined.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:23 PM | Permalink

The Taxman

The Taxman Cometh says these taxes that didn't exist 100 years ago …"when our nation was the most prosperous in the world.  We had absolutely no national debt, had the largest middle class in the world, and Mom stayed home to raise the kids."

Accounts Receivable Tax
Building Permit Tax
CDL license Tax
Cigarette Tax
Corporate Income Tax
Dog License Tax
Excise Taxes
Federal Income Tax
Federal Unemployment Tax
Fishing License Tax
Food License Tax
Fuel Permit Tax
Gasoline Taxes
Gross Receipts Tax
Hunting License Tax
Inheritance Tax
Inventory Tax
IRS Interest Charges IRS Penalties (tax on top of tax)
Liquor Tax
Luxury Taxes
Marriage License Tax
Medicare Tax
Personal Property Tax
Property Tax
Real Estate Tax
Service Charge Tax
Social Security Tax
Road Usage Tax
Sales Tax
Recreational Vehicle Tax
School Tax
State Income Tax
State Unemployment Tax
Telephone Federal Excise Tax
Telephone Federal Universal Service FeeTax
Telephone Federal, State and Local Surcharge Taxes
Telephone Minimum Usage Surcharge Tax
Telephone Recurring and Non-recurring Charges Tax
Telephone State and Local Tax
Telephone Usage Charge Tax
Utility Taxes
Vehicle License Registration Tax
Vehicle Sales Tax
Watercraft Registration Tax
Well Permit Tax
Workers Compensation Tax

I bet this is not an exhaustive list .

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:12 AM | Permalink
Categories: Government

April 14, 2014

Why daydreaming is important and should not be medicalized in childhood

Scientists Label Childhood a Disorder

Ever daydream as a child? Perhaps you had “sluggish cognitive tempo,” a condition some mental health leaders say affects as many as two million American children. The NYT reports on the campaign to have “SCT” recognized in the medical community as a legitimate and medically treatable disorder. The symptoms include “lethargy, daydreaming and slow mental processing.”  But not everyone is convinced.

I was not because I remembered one of my very first posts, Does Daydreaming Make You Happy?

After finding that about one child in 30 is brilliant and happy, (Harvard psychologist Burton) White did a great deal of research to determine what demographic or psychological characteristics distinguished those children. But the children came from a wide variety of backgrounds -- rich and poor, small families and large, broken and stable homes, poorly and well-educated parents -- and from all parts of the U.S. Finally, through extensive questioning, he determined that the bright and happy children had only one thing in common: All of them spent noticeable amounts of time staring peacefully and wordlessly into space."

And another from 2009,  good news for those who daydream. Stop paying attention all the time. Zoning Out Is a Crucial Mental State  Researchers say a wandering mind may be important to setting goals, making discoveries, and living a balanced life.

The fact that both of these important brain networks become active together suggests that mind wandering is not useless mental static. Instead, Schooler proposes, mind wandering allows us to work through some important thinking. Our brains process information to reach goals, but some of those goals are immediate while others are distant. Somehow we have evolved a way to switch between handling the here and now and contemplating long-term objectives. It may be no coincidence that most of the thoughts that people have during mind wandering have to do with the future.

Even more telling is the discovery that zoning out may be the most fruitful type of mind wandering….In their fMRI study, Schooler and his colleagues found that the default network and executive control systems are even more active during zoning out than they are during the less extreme mind wandering with awareness. When we are no longer even aware that our minds are wandering, we may be able to think most deeply about the big picture.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:17 PM | Permalink
Categories: Personal Development

Visual aids for the "Catastrophe Like No Other"

Peggy Noonan wrote that Obamacare is A Catastrophe Like No Other ….

You cannot look at ObamaCare and call it anything but a huge, historic mess. It is also utterly unique in the annals of American lawmaking and government administration.
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What the bill declared it would do—insure tens of millions of uninsured Americans—it has not done. There are still tens of millions uninsured Americans. On the other hand, it has terrorized millions who did have insurance and lost it, or who still have insurance and may lose it.

The program is unique in that it touches on an intimate and very human part of life, the health of one's body, and yet normal people have been almost wholly excluded from the debate. This surely was not a bug but a feature….

She didn't have any visual aids, so here are some:

 Obamacare-Higher Premiums

 Obamacare Higher-Deductibles

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:15 PM | Permalink
Categories: Health

Heartbleed and heartbreak that NSA didn't warn us about but exploited for itself

The biggest flaw in Internet history affecting as many as two-thirds of the world's websites.

The Heartbleed bug lets hackers eavesdrop on supposedly secure communications.

German developer Dr Robin Seggelmann admitted he wrote the code. It was then reviewed by other members and added to OpenSSL software. This addition led to the Heartbleed flaw in the open-source program
Code was added in December, 2011, and no-one picked up the error.

As if the fact that we all have to change our passwords yet again were not bad enought, Bloomberg reports NSA Said to Exploit Heartbleed Bug for Intelligence for Years

Putting the Heartbleed bug in its arsenal, the NSA was able to obtain passwords and other basic data that are the building blocks of the sophisticated hacking operations at the core of its mission, but at a cost. Millions of ordinary users were left vulnerable to attack from other nations’ intelligence arms and criminal hackers.
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“It flies in the face of the agency’s comments that defense comes first, said Jason Healey, director of the cyber statecraft initiative at the Atlantic Council and a former Air Force cyber officer. “They are going to be completely shredded by the computer security community for this.”
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“We’ve never seen any quite like this,” said Michael Sutton, vice president of security research at Zscaler, a San Jose, California-based security firm. “Not only is a huge portion of the Internet impacted, but the damage that can be done, and with relative ease, is immense.”

The potential stems from a flawed implementation of protocol used to encrypt communications between users and websites protected by OpenSSL, making those supposedly secure sites an open book. The damage could be done with relatively simple scans, so that millions of machines could be hit by a single attacker.

Ace comments  What the hell. What the unholy hell.

This is scary. I'm not even so much bothered by the NSA itself preserving a backdoor into my private stuff. I always figured they could do that anyway, if they wanted.

But they've also exposed everyone to criminal hacking and even compromise by foreign intelligence services.

What the hell. What the unholy hell.

Biz Insider Here's How To Protect Yourself From The Massive Security Flaw That's Taken Over The Internet

Security firms are urging users to only change passwords on sites that have confirmed they are safe

'Changing your password on a vulnerable site makes little difference because the site is still open to attack….'This means your old password would have been at risk, but you're also giving hackers access to your new password - a double whammy.

Heartbleed-Sites-Affected

Affected sites include a number of Google services, including Gmail and YouTube, Facebook, Tumblr, Yahoo and Dropbox.  All of these sites have been patched and security experts are advising people to change their passwords on these accounts, even if the sites themselves aren't issuing the advice.

Business Insider  Find Out Instantly If A Site Has Been Infected By 'Heartbleed'

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:21 AM | Permalink
Categories: Government | Categories: Identity and Security | Categories: Organizing and Practical Tips

Getting a Visual Sense of Population Size

What interesting maps over at Neatorama

 Us States Distorted By-Population

and this one

 World-Map Population Same-As China

China has a population of 1.35 billion people. That's a lot of people crowded into the red area of the map above. Every other color also represents 1.35 billion people. So all of the Americas, western Europe and Australia are equal to the population of China.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:58 AM | Permalink
Categories: Just for Fun

April 9, 2014

Suicide in the white professional class

You can not underestimate the importance of family and friends in having a good and happy life.    This is especially true for professional men.

When Bankers and Physicians Commit Suicide

Apparently, the media finds stories about Wall Street bankers killing themselves to be compelling. The prevalent narrative suggests that big, bad bankers are so troubled by their oppressive practices that they cannot live with themselves.  Sally Satel effectively debunked this story in a recent column. In truth, doctors and lawyers are more likely to commit suicide than are finance professionals.

White privilege notwithstanding, white males are three times more likely to commit suicide than are blacks and twice as likely as Hispanics and Asians. Moreover, they are four times more likely than females to commit suicide. Thus, bankers belong to a cohort that is more inclined to commit suicide.
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The problem is not new. It has been extensively researched. One report defined some of the problems that beset physicians:

Many of the risk factors for suicide in physicians correspond to risk factors in the general population. Suicide rates have been found to be higher among physicians who are divorced, widowed, or never married. The high-risk physician has been described as driven, competitive, compulsive, individualistic, ambitious, and often a graduate of a high-prestige school. He often has mood swings, a problem with alcohol or other drugs, and sometimes a non- life-threatening but annoying physical illness.
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The report adds that physicians often have a great deal of difficulty forgiving themselves for mistakes. In part, it must have something to do with the influence of malpractice laws, but one suspects that a breakdown in camaraderie also contributes:
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If physicians lack a sense of belonging to a group, of being part of an honorable profession, of enjoying camaraderie with other physicians, clearly this psycho-social factor creates anomie and fosters depression.

One suspects that the same problem exists in other professions, where  people used to be able to work together but where they now believe that they are working against each other.


Another recent example  is Roy Cullen, long-time president of the Cullen Foundation, Houston's most well-known charitable foundation which gave millions in 2013 who shot himself dead in a locked bedroom in  his family mansion two days ago.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:55 PM | Permalink
Categories: Death and Dying

Health Roundup: Ibuprofen, junk food, good food, exercise, Viagra and Glucosamine to extend life

Ibuprofen. Painkillers linked to higher risk of stroke: Alert over prescription medicines used by millions

Painkillers may raise risk of irregular heartbeat that could trigger stroke.  The extra chance of developing atrial fibrilliation as high as 84%, says Dutch researchers  The condition – a leading cause of first-time strokes – means the upper chambers of the heart are out of rhythm and beat much faster than normal, which allows blood to pool and clot.

Ibuprofen belongs to a class of drugs known as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) which work by blocking the COX-2 enzyme which reduces pain and inflammation, but is also important in regulating heart function.

Ibuprofen Can Triple Stroke Risk; Painkillers Can Double Heart Attack Chances

The medical scientists performed an analysis of all randomized controlled trials comparing any NSAID with other NSAIDs or placebo. Thirty one trials were completed in 116,429 patients.

Junk Food:  Junk food is so bad for asthmatics it can make inhalers 'useless', doctors warn

Dr Samantha Walker, Deputy Chief Executive of Asthma UK, says: 'Asthma is a very complex condition which is why continued research is so crucial.
'These studies provide the first evidence that ‘bad’ saturated fats, such as those found in butter, can adversely affect the way in which the active ingredients in salbutamol inhalers work. Interestingly this study has also demonstrated that ‘good’ fats, such as those found in oily fish, may enable salbutamol to work more effectively.

Junk food MAKES you lazy and sedentary

‘Overweight people often get stigmatized as lazy and lacking discipline,’ says Blaisdell, a professor of psychology at UCLA and author of the research which will be published in the journal Physiology and Behavior.
‘We interpret our results as suggesting that the idea commonly portrayed in the media that people become fat because they are lazy is wrong. Our data suggest that diet-induced obesity is a cause, rather than an effect, of laziness. Either the highly processed diet causes fatigue or the diet causes obesity, which causes fatigue.’

Good FoodGreen tea improves memory and could help treat dementia   Green tea extract increases the brain's effective connectivity, study says

Beans can significantly reduce cholesterol and lower the risk of heart diseases, according to a study by Canadian researchers.  A daily portion of pulses which include most varieties of beans as well as peas, lentils and chickpeas,
can reduce LDL by 5 percent.

A glass of milk a day 'keeps arthritis at bay' - but only if you are a woman  A glass of milk a day could help stop women's knees from creaking, claim US researchers who found that women who frequently drink fat-free or low-fat milk have less osteoarthritis in the knee, but eating cheese increased the problem.

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a degenerative joint disease that causes pain and swelling of joints in the hand, hips, or knee.  Lead author Dr Bing Lu, from Brigham & Women's Hospital in Boston, said 'Milk consumption plays an important role in bone health. Drinking milk made little difference in men, and eating yogurt did not affect progression in men or women.

Drinking 2 cups of coffee a day may cut risk of colon cancer.   After examining coffee consumption among 8500 Israelis, researchers found the odds of having colorectal cancer were about 30 percent lower for coffee drinkers…

Other studies have linked coffee consumption with a lower risk of certain types of skin and breast cancers, as well as a lower risk of prostate cancer.

Exercise. A brisk walk boosts a woman's brain: Aerobic exercise can increase size of area involved in learning and memory
Brisk walking for two hours a week may help boost brainpower in women at risk of dementia. After a  six-month study in women aged 70-80 with early memory problems, researchers found aerobic activity increased the size of the hippocampus - an area of the brain involved in learning and memory.  The Canadian researchers claim it's never too late to undertake regular physical activity based on increasing evidence that it promotes brain health.

Viagra. Viagra increases the risk of skin cancer: Men who used the drug were 84% more likely to get melanoma, study claims  It is thought the impotence drug may affect the same genetic mechanism that enables skin cancer to become more invasive….However the researchers add that because the study is preliminary, it is too early to advise men to stop taking the little blue pill if prescribed for erectile dysfunction.

Glucosamine. The popular arthritis supplement Glucosamine could extend life 'by 8 years

A popular food supplement made from crab shells may hold the key to long life.Researchers are recommending that people start taking glucosamine, after tests on aging mice showed it to extend lifespan by almost ten per cent, the equivalent to an extra eight years in human terms.  It is thought that the sugar-like supplement, which is has long been used to keep the joints healthy and ease the pain of arthritis, extends life by altering metabolism.

Dr Michael Ristow, of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, said, ‘There is no definite proof of the effectiveness of glucosamine in humans.  But the chances are good and since unlike most other potentially lifespan-extending drugs there are no known relevant side-effects of glucosamine supplementation, I would tend to recommend this supplement.’
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:07 PM | Permalink
Categories: Health

April 8, 2014

Tidbits

Good for them.  US Navy reveals 'game changing' fuel created from seawater that already has fueled a radio-controlled plane.  A game-changer indeed.

Dr Heather Willauer, an research chemist who has spent nearly a decade on the project, said:
'For the first time we've been able to develop a technology to get CO2 and hydrogen from seawater simultaneously, that's a big breakthrough,' she said, adding that the fuel 'doesn't look or smell very different.'


Cui bono? Who benefits from the myriad government programs for the poor.  The Poverty Hoax

As much as 75% of the money allocated to the poor is consumed by the vast bureaucracies that administer this aid.  These agencies are actually job programs for college graduates who would often find it difficult to find employment in the private sector.

James Delingpole British schoolchildren are being brainwashed by a deep green environmental curriculum which fills their heads with "confusion, ignorance and fear", says a new study by the Global Warming Policy Foundation.

After Illinois finally passed a concealed carry law, Chicago's murder rate declined to levels not seen in 50 years.
In fact, All crime is down 25 percent from 2013 There were reportedly 90 fewer shootings and 119 fewer shooting victims compared to last year. There have also been 222 fewer shootings and 292 fewer shooting victims compared to the first quarter in 2012.

Early retirement may be a very bad idea.  A new Brookings study  analyzed data on subjective happiness and work taken from the Gallup World Pull data.

Late-life workers (i.e., those working past retirement age) working full-time or voluntarily employed part-time were typically happier and more satisfied with their health than their retired counterparts. The positive effects were greatest, meanwhile, in those countries where more flexible labor market arrangements were more common (and thus publicly acceptable).

Thomas Sowell, Campaign-finance laws are a scam to protect incumbents.

Americans on Medicaid Exceed Population of UK

During Cold War, CIA used ‘Doctor Zhivago’ as a tool to undermine Soviet Union

Books were weapons, and if a work of literature was unavailable or banned in the Soviet Union or Eastern Europe, it could be used as propaganda to challenge the Soviet version of reality. Over the course of the Cold War, as many as 10 million copies of books and magazines were secretly distributed by the agency behind the Iron Curtain as part of a political warfare campaign.
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“Pasternak’s humanistic message — that every person is entitled to a private life and deserves respect as a human being, irrespective of the extent of his political loyalty or contribution to the state — poses a fundamental challenge to the Soviet ethic of sacrifice of the individual to the Communist system,” he wrote.

Margaret Sanger's ultimate goal

 Margaret-Sanger Goal

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:42 PM | Permalink
Categories: Culture and Society

More money will not solve America's education problems

More money spent on schools does NOT equal better results, 40-year study finds
The performance of 17-year-olds has been essentially stagnant across all subjects despite a near tripling of the inflation-adjusted cost of putting a child through the K-12 system.  There has been essentially no correlation between what states have spent on education and their measured academic outcomes

 Spending Test-Scores Us Ed

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:43 AM | Permalink
Categories: Education

April 7, 2014

Older and poorer

As a country, we're getting older and poorer with far fewer identifying as middle class, but we've got Facebook.

Richard Fernandez writes this is No Country for Young Men

The Western Left’s biggest lie is that it represents a movement of the young, but it really represents the very old. Their very concerns are geriatric: Marxism, trash recycling, health and safety, public transportation and gossip.

The big giveaway is we as a civilization don’t want to go to the planets any more, because the old don’t want to go anywhere. Imagine clambering into spaceships! The very idea gives us the shivers.
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[T]he future, rather than beckoning to us, envelops us like a shroud. America which was famous for optimism, has sold its birthright for a mess of Obamacare and Obamaphones, like an old couple that have given up sweeping and tending a house that grew too big now that the kids have left. And the general consensus it seems is that the Mexicans can inherit what’s left if only would they promise to bury us when we’re done.
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If any nation might be considered “old” in years, it is Israel and China. Both go back almost to the dawn of civilization.  Untold generations of Chinese and Jews have died. But their culture remains young in that it looks forward to posterity; at least they have not yet turned everything over to some nice young man with the big smile and the natty creases.  Maybe the secret of ancient cultures which survive is that they can continue to care about the future.  And so the Chinese and the Jews still do canals. They do space exploration. The West does Facebook because you don’t have to get up from the chair to work it. 

More Americans see middle class status slipping

Since 2008, the number of people who call themselves middle class has fallen by nearly a fifth, according to a survey in January by the Pew Research Center, from 53 percent to 44 percent. Forty percent now identify as either lower-middle or lower class compared with just 25 percent in February 2008.  According to Gallup, the percentage of Americans who say they're middle or upper-middle class fell 8 points between 2008 and 2012, to 55 percent.

And the most recent General Social Survey, conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago, found that the vast proportion of Americans who call themselves middle or working class, though still high at 88 percent, is the lowest in the survey's 40-year history. It's fallen 4 percentage points since the recession began in 2007.

Christopher S. Rugaber of the AP reports:

[N]early five years after the Great Recession ended, more people are coming to the painful realization that they're no longer part of [the middle class.]  They are former professionals now stocking shelves at grocery stores, retirees struggling with rising costs and people working part-time jobs but desperate for full-time pay. Such setbacks have emerged in economic statistics for several years. Now they're affecting how Americans think of themselves.

Since 2008, the number of Americans who call themselves middle class has fallen by nearly a fifth, according to a survey in January by the Pew Research Center, from 53% to 44%. Forty percent now identify as either lower-middle or lower class compared with just 25% in February 2008.

Thomas Lifson comments Self-identified 'middle class' radically shrinks under Obama

Put this another way, the number of people self-identifying as lower and lower-middle has expanded 60%. That, of course, is a Democrat constituency, for people in that class see government assistance (food stamps, earned income tax credit, ObamaCare subsidies, and the like) as their ticket to a level of comfort within shooting distance of the middle class – whom they see as better off than they.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:03 PM | Permalink
Categories: Culture and Society

Health Roundup: Sleep, diesel, morning light, watermelon, jogging, cancer test and dogs

SLEEP. How a bad night's sleep could age your brain by five YEARS: Poor quality slumber causes loss of memory and concentration

Just three years of poor sleep could cause a decline in mental faculties. Poor sleep is linked to a 50% increase in risk of a decline in faculties. Sleep quality is more important than quantity in determining brain aging.

CHILDREN: Circumcision should be offered 'like vaccines' to the parents of baby boys, study claims
The health benefits of male circumcision 'outweigh the risks 100 to one'  Half of uncircumcised men develop a health problem as a result, it is claimed. It would be 'unethical' not to offer it to the parents of all baby boys, the researchers state

Emissions from diesel can damage children's brains and increase the risk of autism and schizophrenia, scientists warn.  Nitrogen dioxide, a chemical present in diesel emissions, causes eye, nose and throat irritation and is said to cause breathing problems in young children.  But scientists have warned that as well as damaging the lungs, the fumes could cause autism and schizophrenia to develop within children living near busy roads. Long-term exposure to the fumes changes the way that a child's brain develops, it has been revealed.  The danger of the fumes has been compared to the effect of lead in petrol.

WEIGHT.  Get up earlier.  Morning Light Exposure Linked to Lower Weight  In the study, participants who were normally exposed to at least 500 lux of light (about the brightest level you'd find in homes and offices) starting at 8 a.m. had lower body mass indexes (BMIs) than those who usually got that much light exposure later in the day, the researchers found.

HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE.  Eat more watermelon and exercise in warm water.
Watermelon could slash the risk of heart attacks in obese people
The study, published in the American Journal of Hypertension, revealed that eating watermelon is good for heart health and can reduce the risk of heart problems in cold conditions. Professor Arturo Figueroa, from Florida State University, said: ‘The pressure on the aorta and on the heart decreased after consuming watermelon extract."

Research suggests that exercising in warm water could help people with high blood pressure, even those who don't respond to drugs. Hot aquarobics takes place in water heated to 90F. The temperature of the water dilates blood vessels improving the flow of blood which reduces blood pressure and slashes heart attack and stroke risk.

EXERCISE:  Jogging could actually be BAD for you: Too much running increases risk of early death
People who do a moderate amount of exercise live the longest.  Those who do none at all, or too much, have shorter lifespans. Experts recommend running for two to three hours per week

CANCER. Simple blood test could soon diagnose if patient has cancer and how far advanced the disease it is, scientists say.  A quick and simple blood test could soon diagnose which cancer a patient has and how advanced the disease is, scientists said….But researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine have developed a test which can quickly tell doctors how large the tumor is, how it is responding to treatment and how it has evolved over time…..According to the medics, the new test works for the most common types of cancer, including breast, lung and prostate. It could even be used to screen healthy or at-risk patients for signs of the illness.
Cancer cells continuously divide and die, as they do so they release DNA into the bloodstream, which can be screened for using blood tests.

DOGS CAN SMELL CANCER.  BBC Video. Dogs watch us all the time and read our body language like a sixth sense. They also smell our bodies for changes. Max smelt cancer in Maureen before any medical scans could pick it up. Dogs do this naturally and can be trained to pick up on tiny volatile chemicals given off by cancerous tumors. They can even be taught to alert diabetics to low blood sugar levels.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:53 AM | Permalink
Categories: Health

April 4, 2014

American Witch Hunt or American Inquisition?

Ritual Sacrifice in Silicon Valley

The one thing all sides can agree on is that Eich, on paper, is very well suited to the job. His most notable technical achievement is the invention of the Javascript programming language, and while some of us might sniff at the poor design decisions which made that language notoriously unpleasant to work with, it is incontestable that it forms the underpinnings of much of the modern web.

Mozilla: No Dissent Allowed. The NR editors on Corrosive Conformity

In 2008, Barack Obama and Brendan Eich both were against gay marriage. Senator Obama averred his support for the one-man/one-woman view of marriage, while Mr. Eich, a cofounder of the Mozilla web-browser company, donated $1,000 to support Proposition 8 — a California ballot initiative that had the effect of making Senator Obama’s avowed marriage policy the law in California.

This is, of course, pure poison. This is not a matter of law but one of culture, and not a question of means but of ends….The nation’s full-time gay-rights professionals simply will not rest until a homogeneous and stultifying monoculture is settled upon the land, and if that means deploying a ridiculous lynch mob to pronounce anathema upon a California technology executive for private views acted on in his private life, then so be it.

Brendan Eich and the New American Totalitarian State By Sally Zelikovsky

Brendan Eich, a highly-respected tech guru in Silicon Valley and co-founder of Mozilla Corporation, after he was appointed CEO in late March.  In less than a week, he was forced out of this position for no reason other than that he had a made a $1000 contribution to the Prop 8 initiative in 2008.  His own money.  On his own time.  In his private capacity.  Mozilla had nothing to do with it.  Nor did he discuss gay marriage at work.
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forced out he was after a huge outcry from thousands of employees and Silicon Valley residents,  after half of the Mozilla Foundation board resigned -- yes, resigned! -- and OKCupid blocked web surfers from accessing their site through the Firefox portal.
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It now seems that anyone can be punished for his or her religious, moral or political beliefs by well-funded mobs that can exert economic pressure on one’s employer.  These are the tactics of closed societies behind the Iron Curtain; not the shining city on the hill.

The Anchoress holds nothing back, A Gay CEO with Balls Needs to Hire Eich and Halt this Crap

and speak truth to a growing, and most illiberal new power. He or she needs to hire Brendan Eich in some sort of corporate leadership capacity for the sake of the most fundamental of freedoms — the freedom to think what you want to think, even if your thinking is unpopular or deemed “mistaken” — and in so doing boldly declare that our society has no truck with inquisitions.
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Let me be clear: I hold out absolutely no hope that this chill wind will be checked or reversed — too many people with money and influence and no individual courage at all find totalitarianism an alluring idea…..it is an execrable, detestable trend that, if unchecked, will affect every facet of our lives as “correct” thoughts and “correct” ways become ever-narrower and trap more and more people in its stinking and miserable gullies.

Andrew Sullivan, the openly gay columnist

The guy who had the gall to express his First Amendment rights and favor Prop 8 in California by donating $1,000 has just been scalped by some gay activists. After an OKCupid decision to boycott Mozilla, the recently appointed Brendan Eich just resigned under pressure:
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Will he now be forced to walk through the streets in shame? Why not the stocks? The whole episode disgusts me – as it should disgust anyone interested in a tolerant and diverse society. If this is the gay rights movement today – hounding our opponents with a fanaticism more like the religious right than anyone else – then count me out. If we are about intimidating the free speech of others, we are no better than the anti-gay bullies who came before us.

The WSJ on Mozilla's Intolerance quotes the New York Times

"In Silicon Valley, where personal quirks and even antisocial personalities are tolerated as long as you are building new products and making money, a socially conservative viewpoint may be one trait you have to keep to yourself….

The Times adds that "there is no indication that Mr. Eich behaved in a biased manner at work." So it appears that simply holding a private belief that was shared by a majority of Californians in 2008 and by President Obama until May of 2012 is no longer tolerated by the extreme wing of the movement to redefine marriage—or by the Silicon Valley technology community. Has a culture that once prided itself on its openness and inclusiveness become so bigoted that it cannot accept anyone who holds traditional Christian, Jewish or Muslim beliefs?

The Prop 8 donor list now functions essentially as a blacklist, and Eich isn’t its first or only victim.

Remember, people who gave to Prop 8 have been harassed and had their property vandalized; the Heritage Foundation issued a report chronicling cases of intimidation back in 2009…..
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[T]he LA Times obtained a list of people who gave, for and against, to the fight over the Prop 8 referendum in 2008. They put the whole database online and made it searchable. Search it today and, sure enough, there’s Eich with a $1,000 donation in favor. Under California law, that disclosure is perfectly legal. Under California law, that disclosure is perfectly legal: The state is authorized to provide certain personal information about anyone who donates more than $100 to a ballot measure. Why the state is allowed to do that, I’m not sure. The reason you want transparency when donating to a candidate is to prevent an elected official, who’s supposed to serve the public interest, from being secretly co-opted by huge sums of money provided by a special interest. In a ballot measure, though, the money being spent is designed to influence the public itself. They’re the final arbiter of the public interest, no?
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Jonathan Last seizes on the significance of Mozilla chair Mitchell Baker admitting that “I never saw any kind of behavior or attitude from him that was not in line with Mozilla’s values of inclusiveness.” If that’s the case, says Last, why exactly was Eich ousted?……. the problem isn’t with how he comported himself. It’s with what he thought…

Ace. Brendan Eich is out at Mozilla.

His crime: Giving $1000 to the Prop 8 campaign which was passed by a majority of Californians in 2008. And having the same views on gay marriage that Obama publicly stated circa 2007. Therefore he must be shunned and kept unemployed….

Mozilla in the midst of self-congratulation is blind to the beam in their own eye as it  tweets "We believe in openness &  that no one should be persecuted for the beliefs they hold, no matter what they are."

Roger Simon  Although not held by me,

Eich evidently has beliefs shared by literally billions of people of faith throughout the world.  Those  demanding his head like junior Robespierres should be ashamed of themselves.  Not only are they violating the spirit of the Bill of Rights and freedom of religion, they dishonor their own cause and embarrass themselves no end.  They move things backwards when the think they are moving things forwards….
This is no more than political correctness gone berserk. It is totalitarianism flying under the banner of marriage equality.  How reactionary, how fascistic, and, yes, how darkly comic is that.

Bryan Preston

If one’s position on a personal-religious-cultural issue as same-sex marriage becomes a hiring or firing offense, then we have truly moved into dangerous new territory. Illegal territory too, as such questions are not supposed to be part of the employment process.

Rod Dreher If Brendan Eich Isn't Safe

What you may not know, as someone not in the tech industry, is that Eich is not just some suit who has done some engineering. He is credited as literally the inventor of the JavaScript programming language. This is the scripting language that more or less operates the browser and allows a web page to interact with the user as opposed to be a static display. You might think that would be pretty relevant for the CEO of a freaking browser company. But apparently not as important as the fact that the guy had the same opinion on SSM as Barack Obama in 2008.
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If they can knock off a guy like Eich, one of the co-founders of the company and one of the most important figures in the tech industry, because of his belief in traditional marriage, who is safe?
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this is a clear shot that no orthodox Catholic, Evangelical, or Orthodox Christian, or Orthodox Jew, or faithful Muslim, is welcome at Mozilla — nor, it is safe to assume, in Silicon Valley at all. ….They would rather throw one of the founding fathers of the Internet down a well than tolerate him, because of his expressed belief on traditional marriage.

Chilling

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:31 PM | Permalink
Categories: Civilization - Can We Keep It? | Categories: Culture and Society

April 3, 2014

Your Government at Work

Security Breaches of Personal Information at Federal Agencies More than Doubles Since 2009

Millions of individuals who recently entrusted personal, medical, and financial information to the federal government while enrolling in Obamacare via Healthcare.gov may find a recent trend reported by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) rather unsettling.  The number of security breaches involving Personally Identifiable Information (PII) at federal agencies more than doubled in recent years, increasing from 10,481 in 2009 to 25,566 in 2013.  Perhaps even more disturbing, the GOA found that "none of the seven agencies [in a related study] consistently documented lessons learned from PII breaches."

Despite the fact that the mentally disabled were used by the ATF in six different cities in six different stings the ATF Denies Targeting Mentally Disabled in Sting Operations

The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is investigating a series of ATF sting operations in six cities—originally reported on by the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel—where agents set up false storefronts, used mentally disabled people to drum up sales of illegal drugs and guns, and then arrested them.

“Your agents target people with low IQs because they are susceptible to this kind of buddying up,” Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R., Calif.) told Jones. “One individual was tutored by ATF agents about how to use a machine gun so he could go out, buy one, and then be arrested by ATF.”

Jones said the ATF only learned that their targets were disabled during defense pleadings in court.

Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D., Ill.) pressed Jones to explain how agents were unaware of what they were doing.

“You don’t think your agents dealing with an individual with an IQ in the 50s knew they were dealing with a mentally disabled person?” Duckworth asked Jones. “If your IQ is in the 50s it is very clear someone is mentally disabled.”

Report: EPA tested deadly pollutants on humans to push Obama admin’s agenda

The agency conducted tests on people with health issues and the elderly, exposing them to high levels of potentially lethal pollutants, without disclosing the risks of cancer and death, according to a newly released government report.

These experiments exposed people, including those with asthma and heart problems, to dangerously high levels of toxic pollutants, including diesel fumes, reads a EPA inspector general report obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation. The EPA also exposed people with health issues to levels of pollutants up to 50 times greater than the agency says is safe for humans.

The EPA conducted five experiments in 2010 and 2011 to look at the health effects of particulate matter, or PM, and diesel exhaust on humans.

Power Steering: Government Motors Recalling Six Million Plus Vehicles Due to Potentially-Dangerous Defects; No One In Media Asks Where GM's Top CEO, Barack Obama, Was During All This

In addition to the 4.8 million vehicles recalled for various problems ranging from dodgy ignition switches to non-deploying airbags, an additional 1.3 million are now being recalled due to a problem with the power steering that could cause an accident.

GM is Alive, And 13 Victims of GM Malfunctions Are Dead

The headline refers to the fact that 13 people died due to the ignition-switch defect, which would have cost fifty seven cents per car to fix…..
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Obama touted the defective, deadly Chevy Cobalt as a Government Motors success story….Of course no Obama official is telling people to stop driving Government Motors vehicles now. After all, Government Motors is officially one of this Obama Success Stories so beloved by the media.

But a Democratic Senator, Connecticut's Dick Blumenthal, is in fact telling people to stop driving Government Motors vehicles immediately.

The GM Scandal Is Worse Than You Think.  David Harsanyi tells us why the  government should never own a business.

In February 2010, the Obama Administration’s Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood told America, without a shred of evidence, that Toyota automobiles were dangerous to drive. LaHood offered the remarks in front of the House Appropriations subcommittee that was investigating reports of unintended-acceleration crashes. “My advice is, if anybody owns one of these vehicles, stop driving it,” he said, sending the company’s stock into a nosedive.

Even at the time, LaHood’s comments were reckless at best. Assailing the competition reeks of political opportunism and cronyism. It also illustrates one of the unavoidable predicaments of the state owning a corporation in a competitive marketplace.  And when we put LaHood’s comment into perspective today, it’s actually a lot worse.  Not only did the Obama administration have the power and ideological motive to damage the largely non-unionized competition, it was busy propping up a company that was causing preventable deaths.

Anyone Seen the Guy Who Gave GM $49 Billion in Taxpayer Money? That would be Steve Rattner, the auto czar.

Rattner has gone largely unmentioned in the coverage of the GM defective-switch scandal. He’s not saying much on his own venues, and apparently no one wants to ask him any questions about President’s Auto Industry Task Force, just how thorough their review of GM was, and how they managed to miss so many consequential lurking safety issues.

There is plenty of blame to go around here. First there’s the serious accusation that GM hid just how deadly the problem could be:…

Then there’s the charge that federal safety inspectors and regulators are now blaming GM to divert attention from their own bureaucratic inertia . . .

Obama Administration Wants to Ax Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in Balkans, Iraq.  This is one example of a very effective government program being eliminated.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:02 PM | Permalink
Categories: Government

Just how successful as the deadline for enrolling in Obamacare reached

President Obama claims 7 million signed up for Obamacare but a secret  Study shows just 858,000 newly insured Americans have paid up!

Numbers from a RAND Corporation study that has been kept under wraps suggest that barely 858,000 previously uninsured Americans – nowhere near 7.1 million – have paid for new policies and joined the ranks of the insured by Monday night. Others were already insured, including millions who lost coverage when their existing policies were suddenly cancelled because they didn't meet Obamacare's strict minimum requirements.
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The unpublished RAND study – only the Los Angeles Times has seen it – found that just 23 per cent of new enrollees had no insurance before signing up.  And of those newly insured Americans, just 53 per cent have paid their first month's premiums.  If those numbers hold, the actual net gain of paid policies among Americans who lacked medical insurance in the pre-Obamacare days would be just 858,298.

And for that the health care industry, one-seventh of our national economy was totally upended.  The result: higher premiums, higher deductibles, fewer doctors to choose from and even fewer hospitals and a totally unnecessary attack on religious non profits that have caused the greatest rift between the Catholic Church and the United States government in the nation’s history

Premiums rising faster than eight years before Obamacare COMBINED

The individual market for health insurance has seen premiums rise by 39 percent since February 2013, eHealth reports…..Between 2005 and 2013, average premiums for individual plans increased 37 percent and average family premiums were upped 31 percent .  An important caveat is that eHealth’s prices don’t include subsidies, so the prices for anyone earning between 100 and 400 percent of the federal poverty level will be lower.

He enrolled in Obamacare through the Nevada exchange, paid his premium and even called to get assurance that he was in fact enrolled, then he had a heart attack.  After a triple bypass operation, he learned he was not insured and now that Obamacare disaster left him on the hook for $400k+ in medical bills.

Obama told Hispanics he won’t deport their relatives if they sign up for Obamacare…

NR Editorial A Season of Obamacare

While successfully urging Congress to pass a sweeping health-care law in 2009 and early 2010, President Obama and his allies made three main promises. The law would reduce premiums, dramatically expand coverage, and leave people who liked their insurance plans and doctors undisturbed. With the official sign-up period for Obamacare’s exchanges now over, we can say that none of those promises have been kept.

We have, it is true, gotten a modest increase in insurance coverage…..That benefit could have been won more cheaply, and for more people, by modifying public policy to make catastrophic insurance more affordable. The federal government would not have had to mandate essential benefits for everyone, and trample on consciences in the process, or to create a constitutionally suspect board to try to centralize medical practice, or to tax medical devices, or subsidize abortion, or make an ongoing mockery of the rule of law by executing it with an editor’s pen. There were better alternatives. There still are.

Doctor Deficit Will Devastate US Health Care

A disaster looms for U.S. health care: WaPo reports that an alarming number of doctors say they are fed-up, stressed out, overworked, and micro-managed in their primary care practices. The result? By 2020 the U.S. medical system will have 45,000 fewer primary-care doctors than we need, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:50 PM | Permalink
Categories: Government | Categories: Health

Joanne Milne hears birdsong and a child's voice for the first time

We all take things too much for granted which we only realize when we hear a story like that of Joanne Milne.

 2Nd-Joanne Milne Hears

This is the magical moment a woman who has been deaf since birth was able to hear for the very first time after having electronic implants in her ears switched on.

Joanne Milne, 40, burst into tears when the sound of a nurse reciting the days of the week introduced her to a sensory world denied to her throughout her life.

She was fitted with cochlear implants in both ears last month, and on Monday her mother filmed the moment they were turned on by remote control.

Miss Milne, from Gateshead, said: “Hearing things for the first time is so, so emotional, from the ping of a light switch to running water. I can’t stop crying.
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Miss Milne, who works for the charity Sense, underwent surgery at the Midlands Implant Centre at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham. Cochlear implants, which were first developed in the 1960s and have been given to more than 300,000 people since then, stimulate auditory nerves to make patients artificially hear noises.

Miss Milne’s implant has been doubly important to her, as the rare Usher Syndrome that affects her hearing caused her to start losing her vision in her early 20s. She now has severe tunnel vision and is registered blind.

She said: “The switch-on was the most emotional and overwhelming experience of my life and I'm still in shock now. The hearing world sounds so loud and alien. The first day everybody sounded robotic and I have to learn to recognize what these sounds are as I build a sound library in my brain.

The elation of hearing birdsong, a gurgling tap and a child's voice: In an emotional interview, Joanne, who was filmed hearing her first sound last week after being deaf from birth, reveals how it felt

'It was overwhelming. I was overcome. I started to cry, and when I looked at my mum she was crying, too. My therapist's voice sounded robotic and high and the sounds lingered.

'I'd prepared myself mentally, but it was much louder than I'd expected. The sound seemed to course through my body. It was a  sensation I'd never experienced before and it made the hairs on my arm stand on end.

'It was emotional, exciting, amazing. I was so happy. I hadn't imagined it would be so wonderful and I wanted to savor every moment, I didn't want it to pass too quickly. A little voice in my head was saying, “This is what sound is like”, and it all surprised me.

'Since then I've come into a world of hustle-bustle: of birdsong and ticking clocks, of running water and traffic roaring. All these noises a hearing person takes for granted and it's so, so loud, so different and daunting. After the first two days I remember thinking: “I just want to get back in my silent house.”'
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She's always appreciated music — she could sense its rhythms and vibrations — but now she can hear tunes, instruments, lyrics. A friend has made a compilation of 40 tunes — one for each year of Joanne's life — and she is rationing her listening so she can relish each one.

'The first song I heard was John Lennon's Imagine, and it will stay with me for ever,' she says. 'I could identify the lyrics, and the fact there was more than one instrument playing — although I didn't know what they were. I sat with my friend and we listened together. We were in floods of tears at the end of it.'

During a week of vivid new experiences, I ask which has touched her most. She says it was hearing her four-year-old niece Casey's voice. 'She just said “Auntie Joanne, where are the biscuits?” and it was amazing on two levels. I'd heard her voice for the first time, and it was so sweet and beautiful.

'And I hadn't had to look at her, to lip-read. It was a life-changing moment. Then I heard her feet tap across the floor as she went to get a biscuit, and I had a little cry.'

There is something about Joanne and her remarkable story of hope that has lifted hearts the world over. Yet in a week of small miracles — of spring birdsong, music, rushing water and teeming streets — it was a child's simple words that moved her most.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:28 PM | Permalink
Categories: Science/ wonders

April 2, 2014

Health Roundup: Atkins diet for depression, vegetarians less healthy, Earl Grey, Donepezil

Can an Atkins-style diet really fight depression? Research suggests low-carb, high-fat foods can drastically improve mental health

'It's a very new field; the first papers only came out a few years ago,' Michael Berk, a professor of psychiatry at the Deakin University School of Medicine in Australia tells The Washington Post.  'But the results are unusually consistent, and they show a link between diet quality and mental health.
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Jodi Corbit, a 47-year-old mother from Catonsville, Maryland, had been battling depression for decades before adopting the Ketogenic diet in a bid to lose weight. To her surprise, she not only shifted several pounds, but also her lifelong depression.
'It was like a veil lifted and I could see life more clearly,' she explains. 'It changed everything.'
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The Ketogenic diet has long been used, as far back as 500 BC in fact, to treat seizures, and widely-published research has shown that it can result in an up to 90 per cent decrease in seizures for patients with epilepsy.  It's also been shown to help with Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and even cancer. Scientists admit they aren't entirely sure why this is, and it's still more of an association  than a direct cause and effect.

The Spray-On Surgical Film That Could Make Sutures Redundant

Vegetarians are less healthy and have a worse quality of life than meat eaters, according to a study by the University of Graz, Austria.

According to the study, those who abstain from meat are "less healthy (in terms of cancer, allergies, and mental health disorders), have a lower quality of life, and also require more medical treatment." Vegetarians were twice as likely to have atopy (allergies), a 50 percent increase in cancer and a 50 percent increase in heart attacks. They also drank less alcohol.

Getting married is good for your heart, say scientists. 

People who are married are 5% less likely to have diseased arteries. They are also 19% less likely to have peripheral arterial disease.  The link between artery health and marriage particularly clear in under 50s

A cup of Earl Grey 'as good as statins' at fighting heart disease, study finds

Scientists believe bergamot, a key ingredient in Earl Grey tea, can significantly lower cholesterol

Drug helps adults learn as fast as children by making the brain more 'elastic'

Donepezil is used to improve memory function in Alzheimer’s patients. Children learn skills quickly as their brains go through 'critical periods. Researchers found donepezil can revert adult brains to these periods. It increases the 'elasticity' of the brain making it capable of learning rapidly. Researchers rewired a visually impaired patient’s brain to process images. The drug works by boosting chemicals in the brain that reduce with age

Researchers have discovered a pill that helps adults learn new skills as quickly as children.

A professor at Harvard rewired the brain of a visually impaired women to process images by giving her Alzheimer’s drug donepezil.  The pill boosts chemicals in the brain, such as serotonin and acetylcholine, which are both found in high concentrations in the brains of young children.

Health Care Among the Disaffiliated Digital Natives

Millennials seem to trust depersonalized, national institutions more than voluntary communities or local institutions. One way to summarize all of the data unearthed by Pew is to say that social capital is lower among Millennials than it was even for Boomers, and it is getting lower.

But one very immediate reason for concern is the relationship between strong social capital and effective health care. A large number of studies have found that marriage, kinship networks and other forms of and social support correlate with good health, and are crucial for surviving major illnesses and even economizing on care costs. Moreover, the cultural and financial challenges eldercare presents become more acute the more socially isolated people become. These powerful but non-political factors, unfortunately, tend to be overlooked in a national health care debate that is overwhelmingly focused on policies and mechanics.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:12 PM | Permalink
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