Friday, February 28, 2014

How the giants of retail are doing

The Wall Street Journal presents this graph today on the 2013 sales and profits of retailers. Read more details here.


Peggy Noonan writes that
We are suffering in great part from the politicization of everything and the spread of government not in a useful way but a destructive one. Everyone wants to help the poor, the old and the sick; the safety net exists because we want it. But voters and taxpayers feel bullied, burdened and jerked around, which again is not new but feels more intense every day. Common sense and native wit tell them America is losing the most vital part of itself in the continuing shift of power from private to public. Rules, regulations, many of them stupid, from all the agencies—local, state, federal—on the building of a house, or the starting of a business. You can only employ so many before the new insurance rules kick in so don't employ too many, don't take a chance! Which means: Don't grow. It takes the utmost commitment to start a school or improve an existing one because you'll come up against the unions, which own the politicians.


Have you heard of Protandim? That's what has been occupying my time this week, as my blogging dropped to zero. A friend of mine has been telling me about LifeVantage, which is the company that distributes Protandim.

Protandim uses five natural ingredients to activate Nrf2, which is the body's own process of protection against oxidative stress. Oxidative stress happens to all of us as we grow older. Our body is designed to make its own antioxidants, which it needs to do because we bring into our cells free radicals which cause cellular damage. The body's response is to produce internal antioxidants through something called the Nrf2 pathway. When we flip on the switch with Protandim, the cells produce their own antioxidants.

Other supplement companies give you external antioxidants, but you only need those in small amounts, and you can get those through a healthy diet. Protandim stimulates the Nrf2 pathway, which means it turns on the body's natural antioxidant system. Our bodies' own antioxidant systems are much more effective than taking a capsule or supplement. It's more natural - and safer - to tell the body how to create its own antioxidents.

Want to be at your peak level of function? When we harness the power of the Nrf2 pathway, we can detoxify the body, which helps nerves and livers, and every other tissue. Nrf2 helps us maintain our antioxidant balance.

Dr. Joe McCord is the discoverer of superoxide dismutase, and he changed the way scientists think about antioxidant protection in the body. He points out that Protandim does more than remedy oxidative stress. Protandim modulates more than 600 genes. "It's not a minor tweak. It is a major readjustment of everything that makes you who you are," says Dr. McCord. You can watch him at You Tube in a video of him speaking to the first convention of LifeVantage, the company that distributes Protandim.

I will be writing more as I learn more. Thanks for reading.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Child sex slavery

Sunshine Mary writes,
Our president is using your tax dollars to advance homosexuality in Africa, exactly as TBC said. How is that for a bit of American cultural hegemony and blatant racism? It’s almost like President Obama, whose own father was from Africa, thinks Africans are too stupid to govern their own countries and pass laws that reflect their particular cultural beliefs, laws which in part are meant to protect vulnerable African boys from the wealthy Western homosexual sex tourists who prey upon them.

Obama and his previous Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, have been promoting gay rights globally. Obama recently released a statement which is available at the Sunshine Mary blog.

Sunshine Mary asks,
But what about the human rights of impoverished African boys? Do they not deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, and protected from pederast predators?

A bad idea

Do you have a daughter who will soon be college age? Sunshine Mary has some advice for you.
The danger of being exposed to these kinds of girls is exactly the reason our daughters will stay here with us, even if they do attend university. And my advice to girls who do go off to college is this: resist the peer pressure and reject the message from sex-positive feminists, co-ed sluts, and the media about sexual promiscuity. It is always a bad idea. Going home drunk with a casual friend or a man you’ve just met is not a fun rite of passage; it is a way for a girl to end up with an STD and to damage her ability to bond to a normal man.

Settled. Really?

Charles Krauthammer writes,
“The debate is settled,” asserted propagandist in chief Barack Obama in his latest State of the Union address. “Climate change is a fact.” Really? There is nothing more anti-scientific than the very idea that science is settled, static, impervious to challenge.

Settled science, writes Krauthammer,
is nothing but a crude attempt to silence critics and delegitimize debate. As does the term “denier” — an echo of Holocaust denial, contemptibly suggesting the malevolent rejection of an established historical truth.

Today there’s a new god, the Earth Mother. And a new set of sins — burning coal and driving a fully equipped F-150.

If California burns, you send your high priest (in carbon-belching Air Force One, but never mind) to the bone-dry land to offer up, on behalf of the repentant congregation, a $1 billion burnt offering called a “climate resilience fund.”

When Democrats are in control...

Marilyn Marks writes that Colorado is sure to become the butt of many jokes now that Governor Hickenlooper has signed into law a ridiculously absurd elections law.
After abolishing all penalties if officials or special interests tamper with local election voter rolls, and encouraging private contractors to conduct local elections for profit, how do Democratic Party proponents expect Colorado voters to maintain any confidence in elections?

Democrats defeated every amendment brought by Republicans to restore and defend election rules, including secretary of state oversight; a written set of procedures; ADA-compliant and accessible polling locations and voting equipment; a local place to vote; and a host of other long-standing voter rights and security controls.

I know of no other state with a local election code that allows a district to "roll its own" procedures. The new election law even allows the very candidates up for re-election and proponents of tax increases to determine the election rules after the fact and control the election through a private, for-profit contractor.

Any Colorado voter may now show up in any local election on the same day he "moves" into town.

Marilyn's list of objections to the new law continues here.


Rick Tosches writes here about his mother raising her hand to wave farewell to her husband, Rick's father, who fought the Germans and the Japanese.

If you like your textbook, you can keep your textbook

Krista Kafer writes that
If Common Core were voluntary guidance rather than state-mandated standards and PARCC assessments were one of many measures a school could use to track performance, there would be little controversy. Educators would regard them as useful tools. As they stand now, however, these one-size-fits-all requirements reduce professional and parental choices in education and impose heavy costs.

If you like that textbook, don't count on keeping it.

"She's a firecracker"

photo by AAron Ontiveroz, The Denver Post

I know I posted about Olympic champion Colorado teenager Mikaela Shiffrin already, but this story by John Meyer is a must read.
They were delighted there to see NBC video of the celebration at her grandmother's house in Massachusetts at the moment she won. Shiffrin's grandmother is 92 years old.

"They all jumped up and were screaming, and I think she jumped higher than anyone else," Shiffrin said. "Like, 'Nana, where did you get that power in your legs? Give me some of that, what have you been doing?' She's a firecracker."

"Unintended consequences"

Those are the magic words being used by school authorities and Governor Hickenlooper concerning the effects of marijuana legalization in Colorado. Here is a story of three Pueblo, Colorado elementary school girls bringing pot to school, "because it's cool, and it's legal."

My friends, music, and just a really positive attitude!

Power to the people!

Kudos to the Mexican Marines who captured Mexico's drug kingpin "El Chapo," and to the people of Ukraine, for moving their hated leader out of his palace.

Yulia Tymoshenko, heroine of Ukraine's 2004 Orange Revolution, was released from prison and spoke to thousands of people in a public square in Kiev yesterday, urging them to stay in the square "until people you trust" come to power in the government. She was frail and spoke from a wheel chair.

I wonder if anyone will receive the $5,000,000 reward for El Chapo's arrest last night in Mazatlan.

Will Venezuela be the next place where the people revolt?

And, so I dare ask, what about the United States?

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Friends for life

We're not alone

American Digest has the story about Comet Lovejoy recently photographed over the Great Wall.

It's the eye makeup!

Saudi Arabia has been seeing an increase in cases of molestation of women in public places. What might be causing this?
Saudi men believe women are to blame for the rising cases involving molestation of females on the grounds they are seduced by women’s excessive make up.

The findings were included in a survey conducted by the Riyadh-based King Abdul Aziz Centre for National Dialogue and involved 992 males and females.

The survey, carried by Saudi newspapers, found that 86.5 per cent of the men polled believe that women’s exaggeration in wearing make-up is the main cause of the rise in molestation cases in public places in the conservative Gulf Kingdom.

"Critical information needs"

Mark Steyn has been writing about how corrupt our federal government's regulatory agencies have become, in addition to the corrupt revenue agency and the corrupt justice department. Now he takes notice of the FCC, which has decided to send regulators into newsrooms to determine whether or not news departments are providing information on eight "critical information needs" and "underserved populations."

Steyn writes,
But what if you're a news editor and you happen to disagree that "the environment" is one of the eight most Critical Information Needs. What if you happen to think that "runaway public debt" or "the vulnerability of US diplomatic facilities in Libya" is a more Critical Information Need than "the environment"?

The state has no business determining which news stories have priorities over others, and certainly no business sending monitors into newsrooms to ensure compliance - because the essence of a functioning press is not what the state decrees the citizen has a "critical need" to know but what it doesn't think he needs to know.

Government of the United States is increasingly corrupt. Covering that story is the "critical information need".

Putting a troublesome critic on ice

Have you been reading about the government's prosecution of Dinesh D'Souza, who made a popular documentary film that was critical of Barack Obama and has now been singled out for criminal prosecution? Apparently D'Souza made a $15,000 campaign contribution that the government believes was illegal. For that, D'Souza
has been paraded in handcuffs, made to post bail of half-a-million dollars and hand over his passport, and cannot travel internally within the United States without the permission of a judge,
writes Mark Steyn.

Steyn adds,
It's certainly an effective punishment, and not just because the malign alliance of a corrupt bureaucracy and a politicized judiciary is unlikely to end well for D'Souza. Years before the eventual outcome will be known, he will have to devote enormous amounts of time and money to fending off Obama's prosecutors that he would have been able to devote to making more movies and books critical of Obama. In effect, this is the government version of a SLAPP suit - a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation. Obama puts a troublesome critic on ice, and mutes many others.

Four Senators are pushing back a little against the F.B.I. Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, Charles Grassley, and Jeff Sessions are all members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. They have written a letter to the head of the F.B.I.

Hillary Clinton is the War on Women

Three tires flattened by a nail gun. Two days before she was to testify about being sexually assaulted by Bill Clinton, Democratic fundraiser Kathleen Willey was intimidated by a "jogger" who knew the names of her children and her cat who had disappeared. Hillary Clinton saw Bill Clinton as a man capable of reaching great power, and she also knew about his sexual infidelity, but chose to target the women, rather than getting Bill to get treatment. Hillary single-handedly orchestrated all the investigations against women who spoke out about being sexually assaulted by Bill Clinton.

Aaron Klein, a self-described "independent," interviews Mrs. Willey, starting at the 13 minute mark in this podcast.

Apocalyptic loons

Unlike the Prince of Wales, Mark Stein describes himself as a "climate insouciant." Indeed, Mark finds it
it far scarier than any "climate change" that leaders of advanced western nations now go around sounding like the kind of apocalyptic loons who used to wander the streets wearing sandwich boards and passing out homemade leaflets.

Then there's the awkward fact that there has been no "global warming" since 1998. If you're the Prince of Wales and the ruddy glow of late middle-age is beginning to fade from your cheeks, then 1998 isn't that long ago. Nevertheless: There has been no "global warming" since Monica was dropping to the Oval Office broadloom. If you're one of Dr Mann's Penn State meteorology students, there has been no warming since before you entered kindergarten. Climate scientists have struggled to account for what, a decade-and-a-half in, they began discreetly to acknowledge as a "pause" in warming. There are theories that the heating may have continued during this period but that it's being stored somewhere in the deepest depths of the oceans.

Maybe. Or maybe not.

When it emerged that Dr Mann was suing National Review, a couple of the lefty bloggers mocked me, a former theatre critic, for presuming to criticize one of the world's allegedly most eminent scientists. But climate science turns out to be pretty much like Broadway: No one knows nothing, as Irving Caesar, the lyricist of No, No, Nanette, once said to me. The principal difference is that, unlike the theatre, on the Great Warm Way the world's longest-running flop never closes.

We "deniers" are not the ones in denial.

An ad at Steyn Online reminds us that the "Scopes Monkey Trial of the 21st Century" is coming soon to the DC District Court.


Have we left Jesus rotting in the slums with the poor,
while we turn the worship music up louder and fill the pews on Sunday morning with all our polish and talk of Gospel?
That's what Ann Voskamp wonders as she walks through garbage dumps in Guatamala, suffering from a two day fever.

Who knows what you pick up in the slums but maybe your hand picks up the hand of Christ’s in a child?

Click on the link highlighted above to see photos of the children.

Colorado's Olympic champion teenagers

Photo by New York Times photographer Doug Mills

There is something about Colorado teenagers and the Olympics. The star of the 2012 Olympics was high schooler Missy Franklin, who won four gold medals and a bronze in London's pool. The star of this year's Olympics is 18-year-old Mikaela Shiffrin, who won the slalom, the most technical ski race, "slam dancing" down the mountain through tight gates. Congratulations, Mikaela!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Not in his back yard

A white haired gentleman who owns a big horse ranch in Texas came to a local meeting in a rural town near Dallas to protest a water tower a utility company was building to support fracking. The white haired gentleman was Rex Tillerson, the CEO of Exxon Mobil, the largest producer of gas in the world. Mr. Tillerson did not want anything built above the tree line. Yes, they have trees there. Tillerson is suing.

Obama: Unions bad for companies, good for workers

I am sure you have heard about the Volkswagon workers in Chattanooga, Tennessee voting last week not to unionize. Reuters reported last Friday, while the vote was going on, that President Obama weighed in at a private meeting: "Obama said everyone was in favor of the UAW representing Volkswagen except for local politicians who 'are more concerned about German shareholders than American workers,' according to a Democratic aide who attended the meeting with Democratic lawmakers in the House of Representatives."

James Taranto writes,
if the secondhand Obama comment is accurately reported, it reflects some serious misconceptions, as well as an unwitting but telling acknowledgment.

One misconception is the vaguely xenophobic claim that VW is owned by "German shareholders." In fact, although Volkswagen AG is a German company, it is publicly traded on multiple stock exchanges. Its shareholders include American workers, either directly or through mutual funds and retirement accounts. Owning VW stock does not make you German (which may come as a relief).

Obama's unwitting acknowledgment is that unionization is bad for companies, a corollary of its being bad for shareholders. But that leads to another misconception. If unionization is bad for companies, it does not follow that it is good for workers. The relationship between employers and employees is not fundamentally an adversarial one.

The New War on Terror . . . Or is that Terra?

Guest post
Suzann Darnall

In the Earth's approximately 5.5 billion year life span, it has undergone numerous climate changes. Just around 1,000 years ago we were in the midst of our warmest modern worldwide climate cycle. This was followed by a little ice age that lasted from about 1550 until 1850. I am pretty sure neither of these climate changes was caused by mankind. I think it was just the cyclic changes our planet goes through due to the nature of weather patterns. Yes, that's right; I am going to blame it on mother. Mother Nature!

But, according to John Kerry, the climate change we are supposedly experiencing is on the disaster scale of a weapon of mass destruction or an act of terror. So, now that Osama Bin Laden is dead ... are we going after Mother Nature?

He compared disbelievers of climate change (the new name they gave to global warming) to the Flat Earthers of bygone centuries. I found it kind of amusing, that in the midst of an extremely cold winter, when communities are still trying to dig out from being buried under record snowfall, he suggested those who refuse to believe in climate change are burying their heads in the sand. I personally think the thing we are mostly being buried in is the horse manure they keep shoveling out of Washington, DC as science . . . when they aren't using said shovels to pile on more of the BS they call "hope and change"!

See, we actually misjudged Obama about his claims of shovel-ready projects. There are plenty of shovel-ready projects. It is just that the only thing being shoveled is more of their Progressive, Liberal, Leftist, Democrat crap!

But, back to Secretary of State John Kerry and his wise words on climate change. It might be a good thing he is out amidst the college kids just talking about global warming. Since all of his foreign policy initiatives are failing, he might as well sit around and talk about the weather. Although, with liberals that might still be a taboo topic since it oft times is both their religion and their politics!

For one thing, unlike so much of what comes out of a liberal politician's mouth, when discussing climate change he will always be right! At least according to their rules of weather. Since high temperatures are a sign of global warming, low temperatures are a sign of global warming, and moderate temperatures are a sign of global warming . . . he can attribute any weather event to climate change.

See??? We do have climate change! Sometimes it is hot, sometimes cold, sometimes wet, and sometimes dry. Aha, Mother Nature is some kind of eco-terrorist, isn't she?

But, I don't think there is much we can do about Mother Nature and her ever changing seasons or always altering weather cycles. I think we need to face up to the reality that mankind is not always the most powerful force on the face of the earth. While we are capable of much we are also limited in some areas. I don't think we can anymore affect the worldwide weather patterns on a permanent basis than we can predict the weather with any real accuracy on a weekly basis.

I wouldn't mind the administration talking about the weather so much if it were not for the fact that they then try to take action to "improve" it . . . which usually means another EPA regulation that causes more jobs lost or another expansion of a bureaucracy that infringes on our freedom. If only they just talked about the weather amongst themselves and left the rest of us out of it!

John Kerry might think of climate change as the great destroyer, but I know for a fact that nothing is wreaking more havoc right now than the widespread stupidity and cupidity that is rampant in the policies and administration of Barack Obama! I think we will get through the winter of 2013-14 just fine. But, I am not so sure we can weather the storm of Obama and his minions.

An Obama ready and able to bypass the Constitution by using pen or phone to implement regulation and legislation at will is truly a weapon of mass destruction. The destruction of our traditional American way of life. He will sweep our rights and freedoms away like a force 5 tornado clearing a path of ruin through the heartland.

While I do not take John Kerry and his ideas about what constitutes a threat very seriously, I do take his boss' ability to fundamentally transform America as a very serious threat. If Conservative, Constitutional, TEA Party, Libertarian, Reagan Democrats, and other concerned Americans do not vote in a block to remove all Progressives from office in 2014 and 2016, we may face a disaster that will make Katrina look like wading through a puddle in a spring rain shower.

Do your research! Find the true Conservatives. Support them. Vote in the primaries. Help with campaigns. We might not be able to change the weather, but I know just as clearly we cannot weather the kind of change Obama and his cohorts want to bring about! So, let's do our part to bring back the kind of America we can be proud to pass on to our children. God bless America!

© Suzann C. Darnall, FEBRUARY 2014

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Efficiency, dignity, productivity

Do you do meaningful work? Or, is it mostly drudgery? Do your bosses appreciate you? Sippican Cottage writes about a man who left a legacy for all workers.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A drought of honesty, wisdom, and integrity in the White House

Obama's regulatory agencies have
prevented the development of new crop varieties that could have blunted the impact of droughts. It is far better to mitigate a natural disaster than to respond to it after the fact.
So writes Henry Miller, Henry Miller, a physician and molecular biologist; the Robert Wesson Fellow in Scientific Philosophy and Public Policy at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution; and the founding director of the FDA’s Office of Biotechnology.

The benefits of genetically engineered crops are proven. According to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications, the use of modern genetic engineering technology increased crop production and value by $78 billion from 1996 to 2010; it obviated the need to apply 443 million kg of pesticide active ingredients to crops; in 2010 alone, it reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 19 billion kg, the equivalent of taking approximately 9 million cars off the road; it supported biodiversity by saving 91 million hectares of land; and it helped alleviate poverty by increasing the agricultural productivity and food security of 15 million small farmers worldwide.

Most of these new varieties of crops are designed to be resistant to pests and diseases — or to be resistant to herbicides— so that farmers can more effectively control weeds while adopting more environment-friendly, no-till farming practices and more benign herbicides. Other varieties possess improved nutritional quality. Perhaps the biggest advantage, however, comes from the ability of many of these new crop varieties to tolerate periods of drought and other water-related stresses.

Plant biologists have identified genes that regulate water use and transferred them into important crop plants. These new varieties grow with smaller amounts of water or with lower-quality water, such as recycled water or water high in natural mineral salts. For example, Egyptian researchers have shown that, by transferring a single gene from barley to wheat, the plants can tolerate reduced watering for a longer period of time. This new, drought-resistant variety requires only one-eighth as much irrigation as conventional wheat, and in some deserts can be cultivated with rainfall alone. One genetically engineered, drought-resistant corn variety has been commercialized in the United States and many more are in field testing.

Aside from new varieties that have lower water requirements, pest- and disease-resistant gene-spliced crop varieties also make water use more efficient indirectly. Because much of the loss to insects and diseases occurs after the plants are fully grown, the use of genetically engineered varieties that have higher post-harvest yields means that the farming (and irrigation) of fewer plants can produce the same total amount of food. We get more crop for the drop.

However, largely because of the unscientific policies of USDA and EPA, plant genetic engineering has realized only a small fraction of its potential.

The USDA’s treatment of genetically engineered plants, animals, and microorganisms has created a massive burden on both the scientific research community and commercial plant breeders.

Federal regulation discriminates against the most precise and predictable techniques for genetic improvement, requiring endless, redundant case-by-case reviews of plants crafted with those techniques. (By contrast, the testing and commercialization of similar seeds and crops made with less precise, less predictable techniques are most often subject to no regulation at all.) In order to implement this gratuitous regulation, the USDA has created a massive bureaucracy, the elimination of which would both reduce the department’s budget and stimulate private sector R&D.

The feds’ approach to biotech oversight violates two fundamental principles of regulation: similar things should be regulated in similar ways, and the degree of oversight should be proportional to the expected degree of risk. Regulators have, in fact, turned the second principle on its head, with more precisely and predictably crafted products subjected to the greatest regulation.

What we need is the president to use his pen and his phone to wise up his regulatory agencies. Unfortunately, there is a drought of honesty, wisdom, and integrity in the White House.

How they do it in Texas

thanks to Breitbart

President tries to say something about marijuana

Scrappleface has the inside story:
this morning the White House released the following list of potentially harmful long-term side-effects of recreational marijuana usage.

“President Obama wants American kids to know that frequent marijuana usage can lead to…

Lethargic reactions to dangerous situations behind the wheel or when your consulate is attacked.
Feelings of immortality, omniscience and omnipotence, leading to attempts to “do the impossible,” or take over entire economic sectors.
Cravings for foods that are on the First Lady’s ‘no-no list’
‘Running with the wrong crowd,’ including petty law-breakers, communist dictators, Islamist warlords and even political consultants.
Irresistible urges to flee responsibility, and spend countless hours at places where there’s ‘lots of grass’.
Inattention to detail in written instructions, like laws or the U.S. Constitution.”

The White House retracted the list later in the morning, noting that the president didn’t recall approving it.

A constitutional republic

Thanks to Grassroots Radio

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Opinions aglore

S.E. Cupp tries her best with Mr. Know-it-All (Bill Maher,) and other liberals. When did P.J. O'Rourke go over to the other side?

Found here

It's a girl!

Thanks to Robert Gelinas for posting this video.

More vortexes

Thanks to Robert Gelinas for posting these videos.

We all need God's mercy

"Everybody needs mercy! We all sin. We all suffer. We all suffer because of sin. We all sin to alleviate our suffering." So writes Robert Gelinas, pastor of Colorado Community Church in Aurora, Colorado. After the senseless killings and woundings at the Century 16 Movie Theater in Aurora, Robert prayed for God's mercy.

How many vacations have you had in the last five years? How much did they cost? Who paid for them?

President Obama has taken 22 vacations costing 18 million dollars. Representative Trey Gowdy says some members of the House of Representatives are considering cutting back on his Obama's vacation allowance.

Anybody seen an Iranian warship coming our way?

Michael Ledeen writes that as America, under the presidency of Barack Obama, has retreated from the world,
we got new wars. Terrible wars, complete with weapons of mass destruction (Syria), ethnic and tribal slaughter (Nigeria, Libya, Iraq, Lebanon, Iran), a revived al-Qaeda (whether “core” or “peripheral”), and growing involvement of the likes of Moscow and Tehran in areas where we used to have something to say.

Ledeen believes the Ukrainians, Syrians, Iranians, Egyptians, Venezuelans, Lebanese and Iraqis have all been betrayed by the United States during the Obama presidency.
Today’s battles are not epiphenomena in distant lands, they are directly linked to our national security, pace the self-misproclaimed realists. For we are always the ultimate targets of the tyrants. Sooner or later, they will come for us. Meanwhile they are preparing that assault.

Anybody seen an Iranian warship headed our way?

Life is vortex, not just rotation

Rotational? No, more like a Peyton Manning spiral.

Thanks to Gerard Vanderleun for posting this video.

Attacks on free thought

Movements converging to try to control speech. If you have better ideas, will you win the argument?

Or, you might enjoy this presentation more on the same subject.

Or, this:

Thanks to American Digest

Radical gratitude

Gloria Steinham writes and speaks about radical feminism. She says "fire in the belly doesn't come from gratitude.

Ann Voskamp writes about another kind of radical. It comes from gratitude. Ann has learned
When you are radically grateful for what you have, you will go to radical lengths to share it. When you are radically grateful for being blessed — you are radically generous to the oppressed.

And that’s what I don’t know if Steinhem knows: When you’re overwhelmed with the goodness of God to you — you overflow with the goodness of God to others.

The radically grateful can never stand for injustice –- because they are moved by radical grace.

You can’t know grace and not be moved. Grace starts movements.

Grace is a catalyst.

And I’m all turned around in just south of Port-au-Prince: When gratitude to God revolutionizes your life, God uses you to revolutionize the world.

It’s why God said to give thanks in everything.

Don’t hear me, Ms. Steinem. Hear God: Radical Gratitude is the attitude of the revolutionaries.

So Ann and her family have arrived in Haiti. She will be writing this week from there. She asks us to read about the A21 campaign against human trafficking.
A21 represents victims of human trafficking. It builds shelters for them. It estimates that 27 million human beings are in bondage across the globe. The average age of victims is 12-years-old. Only 1-2% of victims are ever rescued. Human trafficking is the illegal trade of human beings, mainly for the purposes of forced labor and sex trafficking. As the world’s fastest growing criminal industry, it affects every nation across the globe. Every thirty seconds, someone is forced into this type of bondage—modern slavery.

When you're upset, you upset what's really in you

Are you a parent? Do you ever lose it with your kids? Ann Voskamp writes about that today.
You don’t think about how you can open your mouth and let the sharp side of your tongue tear the innards out of a soul —- and there’s no way you can stuff the whole bloody mess back.

When you’re upset, you upset what’s really in you.

How can you have held the child that came from you as an ember of very heaven and then glare blind angry and stomp him right out? Who can look into a child and forget miracle?

Me — the amnesiac mother who forgets holy all the time.

How can grace get a hold of you when the past won’t let go of you? How do you leave a legacy different than the one you’ve been left?

And I kneel down and let go of his arm. And I hold his face. That’s what I should have done, done right at the beginning. What would happen in a world where anger was your flag to reach out and cup a face?

If you don’t fight for joy, it’s your children who lose.

What do I want my children to remember — my joy in clean floors, made beds and ironed shirts — or my joy of the Lord?

You will be most remembered — by what brought you most joy.

Joy isn’t an optional feature to the Christian life — it’s the vital feature of the Christian life.

Every ungracious moment means someone doesn’t understand grace.

And the boy crumbles into me and I hold onto him and a forgiveness I’ll never deserve and there’s a grace that can hold us, that can mold us, the way joy can bend you soft at all the joints.

And I murmur it into the thick of his hair, that even now He can still make us like Him.

The boy touches my cheek like a flag waving yes.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Parents working to find cures for pediatric cancers

When these parents heard the unimaginable words “your child has cancer,” they grieved—then got to work to help find a cure. Meet them here.

Climate denial = Holocaust denial

John Kerry vented his spleen on climate change the other day. Brett Stephens writes,
It is now the dogma of the left that any hint of doubt when it comes to predictions of climate doom is evidence of greed, stupidity, moral turpitude or psychological derangement. "Climate denial" is intended to be the equivalent of Holocaust denial. And yet the only people who've predicted anything right so far are those who foresaw that the Kyoto Protocol would fail, that renewable energies didn't really work, and that climate bureaucrats accountable to nobody but their own sense of virtue and taste for profit were a danger to everyone.

Read more here.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

2012: The most active year for terrorism on record

Rodrigo Sermeno writes that Congress has been getting reports from terrorism experts that
According to data compiled by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, more then 6,800 terrorist attacks killed more than 11,000 people in 2012, making it the most active year of terrorism on record.

Bill Braniff, a terrorism analyst at the University of Maryland, said the six most lethal groups in 2012 – the Taliban, Boko Haram, al-Qaeda in Iraq, Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, and al-Shabaab – were responsible for approximately 5,000 deaths.

One of these Salafi jihadist groups, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), recently seized control of parts of the cities of Fallujah and Ramadi located in Iraq’s Anbar province – the site of a long and bloody battle for U.S. forces during the Iraq war.


Bridget Johnson reports that Florida lawmakers are trying to turn Obama's attention to
Venezuela, where protesters frustrated with the socialist government have taken to the streets to demand a better country.
economy in tatters, sky-high crime, and massive government corruption.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fl), Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla), and Senator Marco Rubio have spoken out, but nothing but crickets from the White House.

I'd rather be warm than cold

Tom Harris and Dr. Madhav Khandekar write,
The climate change debate should move away from unsubstantiated warming fears and focus instead on determining if the extreme cold of recent years is a precursor to significant global cooling. If it is, then reliable and inexpensive energy sources such as coal-fired electricity generation will become crucially important for our survival. The last thing we should be doing is closing down these stations in the questionable belief that we are helping to prevent global warming, a phenomenon that has already stopped all on its own.

Syria: the war continues

A child is wounded by his government in Syria. A government that cozies
up to and collaborates with some of America's most obstinate adversaries from Iran to Hezbollah, not to mention geo-political rivals like Russia and China.
Those of the words of reporter Greg Dobbs, writing in today's Denver Post. Dobbs notes that it is still uncertain who will prevail in this brutal three year war. It might be the Asaad government mentioned above. It might be the
rebels with their hearts set on an Islamic state,
or it might be
The least likely outcome now is a new Syria ruled by secular forces.

Dobbs concludes,
Americans are chastened by hard and haunting lessons over these past dozen-plus years about the cost of going to war. But in the absence of significant American assistance to turn the tide in Syria, the death and displacement and destruction there, and the growing threat to security here, show the cost of failing to join the fight.

Dead end at the Gallopin' Goose

An Arizona man named Andrew Dekenipp just could not bear the thought of being without his girlfriend on Valentines Day. He had been in jail since January 10
on suspicion of vehicle theft, trafficking in stolen property, unlawful flight, theft and driving on a suspended license.

On Valentine's Day he
had to scale a 12-foot fence, crawl through razor wire, and scale another wire-topped fence in order to leave the premises.

He made his way to the Gallopin' Goose Saloon & Grill, where he was set to meet with his girlfriend.

She had just barely arrived by the time authorities caught up with Dekenipp, according to bar patrons.

Do you consume more than you produce?

Why? What is keeping you from producing more than you consume? Jay Wesley Richards writes,
In free markets characterized by the rule of law and limited government, output per capita goes up over time, which means that the productivity of our labor increases. Our labor is enhanced by “labor saving devices.” That’s why Spanish scholastic philosopher Luis Molina referred to human productivity as the “fruit of our ingenuity.”

Even more fascinating: if you follow the history of technological progress, you discover that over time, we substitute more and more of the matter in a resource not with labor per se, but with the unique resource of mind, called information. Information, unlike the water in Lake Superior and the air in your lungs, is not a finite quantity.

People in free and virtuous societies can grow up to produce more resources than they consume. Some societies, in other words, better enable human beings to be fruitful and multiply, rather than merely to consume. If they did not, market economies would shrink. Instead, over the long run, they grow. In such contexts, the more people you have, the more potential producers you have as well.

Analyzing the culture

Nick Van Cleve writes,
As those serious about influencing the nation on both sides of the aisle understand, winning in politics first requires winning the culture.
How well do you understand the culture? Van Cleve points to James Burke as a man who incisively analyzed the culture, and in 1790 wrote a book that caused world wide interest. Van Cleve believes that
Moral degradation, government bureaucracy, and the willful destruction of established social institutions like marriage would all likely stand out in a Burkian analysis of today’s American culture.

The trick is to know that which ought to be changed, and that which ought not.

Diabolic genius!

Timothy Gordon asks,
Through it all, one wonders: how did the nasty, brutish, and truth-befuddling ideas of secular progressives endure so perennially?

Not when masterminds subvert the intelligible good with such furtive labels as: the slaughter of one’s own offspring as an item of “women’s health”; an illegal resident as an “undocumented” one; the armed defense of one’s home or family as “gun violence”. Diabolic genius!

From the living room to the marketplace to the courtroom, most conservatives have been disappointingly hasty to forget what republicanism requires: rigorous textual fidelity to dusty, fusty, and musty old palimpsests of moral mandamus at the heart of human culture. In a word, most conservatives have been abjectly unimaginative in their acceptance of “PC,” outside of the occasional rant here or there. In that sense, they have been more than a little disillusioning in their wholesale abandonment of textualism: what words really mean. And when the fixed meaning of text is gone, woe to the God-fearer, who will be persecuted for his thick skin and sickened for his sensitive stomach.

The soaring popularity of Duck Dynasty

Every day I see people wearing Duck Dynasty shirts or caps. The show's popularity has never been higher. Steven Jonathan Rummelsburg writes,
A&E has taken unwitting part in adding value to Phil Robertson’s brand. They suspended him for a little over a week and it had no detrimental effect on reruns, filming or the new season. In fact, Robertson’s book sales have increased since the controversy as have advertising sales for the Duck Dynasty franchise.

We in the conservative community espouse a worldview that compels us to recognize the intrinsic worth and dignity of each human soul. As a matter of properly ordered justice, we have to truthfully and adequately answer to the question “what do I owe the other?” We are required to treat those with whom we disagree with respect, while at the same time charitably speaking out against disordered behavior and ill-formed ideas. As Christians we are called to be unconditionally tolerant of all human persons and at the same time to condemn sin, just as Phil Robertson did. When a society is not ordered to justice by referencing the objective standard, it dissolves into chaos.

It’s a dangerous business speaking the truth in public; you never know where it might sweep you off to. Phil Robertson’s comments on sin in the GQ interview ring with ordered truth because they condemn the sin and love the sinner. He said “but hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.” There is nothing logical about the wholesale destruction of the first amendment to cater to the pathological desires of a disordered minority who use violence and double standards to triumph over their opposition. It is a sad day in America when a backwoods duck hunter is taking the lead on matters of public morals. And although the dust seems to be settling, this thing ain’t over by a long shot.

What about the children?

Joseph Pearce writes,
In the historical and often hysterical debate surrounding the legal definition of marriage, there is one crucial class of people whose voice has not been heard and whose fate and future will be affected profoundly by the radical changes being proposed and initiated.

It seems that the whole marriage debate has been concerned with the rights, real and alleged, of adults and has failed to address our responsibility, as adults, to the millions of children who will be impacted by the changes to the law, now and in the future.

Is marriage an autonomous thing, divorced from the family?
In truth, the present marriage debate would not have been possible if we had not already subverted and abandoned the time-honoured and time-tested presumption that marriage existed for the purpose of having children. Marriage has never been an end or thing in itself. It has always been a servant of the family, the means by which the desired end of giving birth to future generations is achieved in the most socially cohesive and healthy way.

Want to know how to destroy the immagination of your child?

1. Make him stay indoors.

2. Don't let your child play unsupervised games of his own choosing.

3. Don't let them read the old, unedited fairy tales and folk tales.

4. Remember to foster banality. Make every class in school pure drudgery.

5. Flatten love to sex education.

6. Flatten sex education to prurience and hygiene.

7. Don't let them organize themselves into teams.

8. Efface the glorious differences between the sexes.

9. Separate the child's world from the adult's.

10. Deny the transcendent.

Maybe we should read this book.

Thanks to Thomas Howard.

The rise of an authoritarian police state in America

Stephen M. Klugewicz writes fondly and in much detail about the hit 1960s televison show The Andy Griffith Show. Klugewicz does so to remind us of how far we have come from the law enforcement practices of Sheriff Taylor.
Today, Sheriff Taylor feels like a character from a bygone era. As American society responds to its cultural, moral, and social meltdown by heavily arming its police forces and by training them to be aggressive in their enforcement tactics, it has abandoned the creed of the Sheriff of Mayberry and chosen what might be called “the Fife option.” As evidence, all one need do is consider the many recent examples of police brutality and overreach, from the shooting to death of a boy armed only with a toy gun, to the tasering and resultant maiming of a handcuffed young woman, to the humiliating body cavity searches that now seem common during routine traffic stops.

The danger in America is that our modern Fifes are not comic characters with single bullets and hearts of gold but deadly serious, heavily armed agents of the state bent on enforcing the letter of the law without regard to common sense or a sense of justice and mercy. Mayberry, the American Shire, is a symbol of our vanished past. Today the dark shadow of authoritarianism has crept into every corner of the land. We have sent away the Sheriff Taylors and replaced them with police officers whose hearts are too often like those of Tolkien’s Black Riders—once good but now deformed by their slavish obedience to the all-seeing eye. In the unenviable choice between unlawful chaos and authoritarian order, Americans have chosen the latter, and we are suffering the consequences.

Can conservatives grow to like Common Core?

Kevin T. Brady and Stephen M. Klugewicz acknowledge that conservatives are pushing back against Common Core.

Are American high school granduates deficient in their understanding of American History? Yes!
Recent results on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) U.S. History exams reveal that when eighteen-year-olds leave high school, 88% of them score below a proficiency level, meaning their U.S. history knowledge is below grade level. Fifty-five percent of 12th graders are below even a basic, partial mastery of the content.

The little content that history and social studies teachers do receive tends to be colored by a liberal worldview. Howard Zinn’s infamous A People’s History of the United States, first published in 1980, remains the nation’s best-selling survey textbook, selling about 125,000 copies each year.[6] Zinn, a self-proclaimed radical, has heavily influenced many of today’s textbooks.[7] His work is infused with a clear theme: America is a corrupt nation founded upon the lie of equal opportunity and designed in reality to empower the wealthy. On numerous occasions, Zinn has stated that the world would be a much better place if the United States had never existed.[8] Following Zinn, radical activists such as former domestic terrorist Bill Ayers have promoted educational reforms aimed at indoctrinating children in an effort to overthrow the existing social order in favor of a system built on a Left-wing version of “social justice.”

I saw Zinn's book on the desk of the teacher who teaches history to both of my sons. I confronted her about it, and she replied that she just uses it to promote empathy for Native Americans. Both my sons really like this teacher, something I cannot say for many of their other teachers.

The point for the conservatives is that teachers and educational boards would likely have assigned the objectionable assignments and texts noted above even if the Common Core never existed. For conservatives, the fact that the standards promote the study of primary sources and require students to provide reasoned arguments, including examples from those sources, should be seen as positives. Again, one needs to bear in mind that the Common Core is skill-based, not content-based; teachers can choose whatever texts they wish in their effort to teach their students literacy skills.

It is not the intention of the present authors to defend the Common Core in toto. It is our intent, however, to demonstrate to conservatives that the Common Core Standards actually provide them with an opportunity to accomplish their ends too. For better or worse, for the foreseeable future it appears that the vast majority of states will soon tie the evaluation of their teachers to student performance on achievement tests based on the new standards. Although the Common Core Standards are likely to have a significant impact on education in America, it is important to remember that educational standards and reforms come and go. Whether or not a state has adopted the Common Core, there is an opportunity for anyone, including those on the political Right, to influence the content that is taught when it comes to literature and history.

The Common Core Standards are far from perfect or complete and certainly do not constitute the long-sought-after “solution” to the problems in American education. In regard to the English Language Arts with its history and social studies exemplars, they at least emphasize critical reading skills and an opportunity for conservatives to have a say in which exemplar texts are used in classrooms. Conservative critics should keep in mind that both teacher unions and many individual teachers also oppose the Common Core, largely because they see it as impinging on academic freedom and simply because teachers generally resent being told what to do in their classrooms. Conservative columnist Ramesh Ponnuru is right in characterizing the fight over the Common Core as “a dismal cycle of elite disdain and populist outrage, each side feeding the other’s worst impulses.” The debate has thus become clouded and slogans have replaced reason, especially on the Right. It is time for conservatives either to oppose the Common Core on legitimate grounds or to drop their opposition and find ways to make the new standards serve their ends.

What made Ronald Reagan great?

Stephen Klugewicz makes the case for the greatness of Ronald Reagan. First, Reagan revived the American economy.
Though he reduced federal spending only slightly overall, allowed the United States debt to continue to grow, and failed to dismantle major federal agencies as he promised during the 1980 campaign, Reagan spent his political capital on the central part of his domestic program: cutting taxes across the board for individuals and businesses. This action alone kickstarted the economy, and the nightmare scenarios predicted by critics of Reagan’s “voodoo economics” did not come to pass. The inflation rate fell from 10.4% to 4.2%, unemployment declined from 7.2% to 5.4%, and the American economy experienced its largest period of peacetime expansion up to that time. Along with this, Reagan’s sunny optimism and can-do spirit was contagious and inspired hope for the future in Americans, spurring them to spend, invest, and start businesses. The Carter economic “malaise” and its concomitant crisis of American spirit evaporated.

Second, He won the Cold War.
Reagan the conservative recognized that earthly life pits good against evil, and he firmly believed that the United States, despite its faults past and present, was on the side of good while the Soviet Union was “the focus of evil in the modern world.” Post-Reagan paleo-conservatism has largely adopted a pacifist attitude toward war and conflict and cringes at the notion of going abroad “in search of monsters to destroy.” Yet, like it or not, there are ideologies, religions, and countries that seek to destroy the West, and to acknowledge such realities does not entail embracing schemes to make the world safe for democracy. Nor does it make one a “neo-con,” but in fact it makes one a conservative, who in the spirit of Tolkien, recognizes that “there is some good in this world, and it’s worth fighting for.”

Third, He used the bully pulpit to support socially conservative positions:
Reagan spoke out often about the importance of family, traditional morality, and the right to life. Though he has been criticized for his failure to do more to fight abortion, the president, of course, has no recognized authority to overturn Supreme Court decisions or to act against federal and state law. What Reagan did as president was to speak out passionately and often for the sanctity of human life—in many speeches, in his State of the Union address, and sometimes off the cuff. His pro-life presidential statements comprise forty-five pages of his official presidential papers.

Fourth, He was a conservative at heart.
Reagan’s constitutional views were decidedly conservative: he publicly called the United States “a federation of sovereign states” and sought to appoint only strict-constructionist federal judges (in this he was not always successful, especially when it came to the Supreme Court). Reagan had been a New Deal liberal until he witnessed the anti-Americanism of leftists in the Screen Actors Guild in the 1950s; after his political conversion, he had little time for the moderate, country-club political set that ruled the Republican party. His speech nominating fellow conservative Barry Goldwater for president at the 1964 Republican—formally called “A Time for Choosing” but known among conservatives simply as “the speech”—is still considered a seminal manifesto of conservatism.

In his abhorrence of war, Reagan was also by nature a conservative. Ironically, he was portrayed as a war-monger by many in the media during his rise to national political prominence; Ronnie “Ray-Gun” some called him. But Reagan was really a peacenik. As president he sent American forces into harm’s way only three times (in Beirut and Grenada in 1983 and in Libya in 1986). His goal in building up the American military in his first term, as he stated repeatedly at the time, was to force the Soviets to come back to the arms negotiating table where the United States, from a position of strength, could forge deals that did not merely reduce nuclear stockpiles, but eliminated them. Reagan had been deeply affected after watching the television movie, The Day After, in 1983. The film portrayed the horror of a nuclear exchange between the United States and the Soviet Union. It was this nightmare scenario that drove Reagan and to try to force the Soviets to negotiate and to develop his Strategic Defense Initiative, which held out the promise of insulating Americans from nuclear strikes.

Fifth, He was a gentleman.
Perhaps Reagan’s ex-wife, the classy Jane Wyman, said it best upon Reagan’s death in 2004: “America has lost a great president and a great, kind, and gentle man.” Ronald Reagan was indeed a giant among men, a true Man of the West, and conservatives should rightly and proudly claim him as one of their own.

Romance, familial love, friendship, and spiritual love

Here is another website I have never before visited. Bruce Fronnen writes about romance and much more.
Romance fades—though it comes back stronger and more often than the movies tend to allow. One who constantly seeks the “high” of romantic love (they often say they are “in love with being in love”) is like any other addict, loyal only to his or her own needs. What is more, even if romantic love doesn’t fade, it simply isn’t enough to sustain a marriage. A man must love his wife as a woman (and vice versa), but also as a wife and as a friend. A couple is a couple, but also the basis of a family, needing more than romance in order to raise good children and face all the trials involved therein. And we must love one another as friends, who share triumphs and tribulations, partners in many things and supports in many others, if we are to build a life together. Finally, of course, we must share in the love of God if we are to fully bind ourselves to one another, love without condition as we must, and find our proper place in creation.

He also writes about familial love, friendship, and spiritual love.

Islands in the Stream

Have you ever heard the song Islands in the Stream? I never had heard it. Gerard Vanderleun has two videos, each with Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers, nearly thirty years apart. If you've never heard the song, please go over to American Digest now. You won't be sorry. Dolly Parton is amazing, showing great spunk and gratitude.

How did I miss this song?

Love and death

Don't miss Gerard Vanderleun's thoughts about love and death.


Thanks to Gerard Vanderleun

Participate to the maximum!

Let's start off the day with a discussion between Ted Nugent and Hillary Clinton Roseanne Barr.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

All you need is love (?)

Fittingly for the Valentines weekend, Ryan Kearney writes a humorous piece in the New Republic about love. He says love peaked in 1967 when The Beatles released "All You Need Is Love." Kearney writes,
Its chorus is demonstrably untrue. Love is quite far down on the list of things that humans “need”—in fact, it's not on the list at all. Humans need oxygen, water, and food, in that order. Everything else is optional (though clothes and shelter are nearly essential, depending on the climate). Humans are perfectly capable of living an entire life without love.

Love is at least as harmful as it is beneficial. What’s odd is that our culture recognizes as much, and yet it venerates love while romanticizing the pain it can cause. Yes, we say, ”love hurts, love scars, love wounds,” but such are the risks. The thing is, falling in love is kind of awful, too! The symptoms are much the same as heartbreak: You can't eat because you’re permanently queasy, can't sleep when she’s not beside you, can't pay attention at work or think straight at all (I write and read books far less when I’m infatuated with someone), and you spend most of your time crafting overwrought emails, looking at photos of her, and stalking her social media accounts. We wax lyrical about how love makes fools of us, but there is nothing admirable about being a fool.

This is exactly the problem with being "in love": It is the most subjective feeling in the human experience. "You'll know it when you feel it," people say. This is horseshit. I have been convinced several times of it, only for the feeling to fade (or be stomped out). Furthermore, several people who have told me “you’ll know” are no longer with the person who made them "feel it."

Kearney quotes from a recent piece in Atlantic:
With Valentine's Day around the corner, many Americans are facing a grim reality: They are love-starved. Rates of loneliness are on the rise as social supports are disintegrating. In 1985, when the General Social Survey polled Americans on the number of confidants they have in their lives, the most common response was three. In 2004, when the survey was given again, the most common response was zero.

Kearney concludes,
while I do enjoy spending a fair amount of time alone, I’m not foolish enough to believe that I’m happier now than I would be with someone I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. But let’s please stop, as a culture, pretending like there is nothing in the world quite like falling in love, and that we should aspire to finding it above all else. That’s not just an insult to the human experience. It’s an insult to life itself.

Brain-damaging chemicals

Children are being exposed to more brain-damaging chemicals than ever before. Alice Park writes that the number of chemicals contributing to brain damage has doubled since 2006.
the growing body of research that is finding links between higher levels of these chemicals in expectant mothers’ blood and urine and brain disorders in their children should raise alarms about how damaging these chemicals can be. The developing brain in particular, they say, is vulnerable to the effects of these chemicals, and in many cases, the changes they trigger are permanent.

Go here to read about the chemicals and the damage they are causing.

A game where no one wins

Young people destroying each other with the help of social media.

In politics, gall pays off

Ed Rogers writes,
Encouraged by the lack of a public backlash, an uninquisitive press, cover from the White House and an eager-to-please bureaucracy, the Democrats are boldly counting on the IRS to be their political and policy enforcer.

Not too big

Shaun White failed to medal in the Olympic halfpipe, but he did not fail these children.

Benefits of video games

A small study in Germany showed that playing video games helped adults grow the parts of their brains responsible for remembering things and solving problems.

Our amazing digestive tracts

How well do you know your innards? Mary Roach has written "Gulp," which has a quiz you can take here. I hope you did better than I.

Vitamins supplements may not be good for your training regime

Yesterday I spent a long time examining various supplements designed to help muscle building. I almost bought one that had high doses of vitamins C and E. After reading this article, I am glad I didn't buy it.

Alcoholism persists

Barron Lerner writes that
ittle has changed through the years in our beliefs about alcoholism and what we can do about it.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, there are a series of genes that are responsible for roughly half the risk of someone becoming an alcoholic.

AA is still the main resource for alcoholics, but
A.A.’s ability to maintain ongoing sobriety among its participants is only about 10 percent, although certain populations, with stronger social supports, do better.

Don't ignore a cat bite!

Did you know that up to 90% of healthy cats have an aggressive bacterium called Pasteurella multocida? If you are bitten by a cat, you are likely to get an infection from this bacterium. If they bite you, it is usually in the hand. Nicholas Bakalar writes about a research study:
Redness, swelling, increasing pain, difficulty in moving the hand and drainage from the wound are all signs that there may be an infection and that treatment should be sought,” said the senior author of the study, Dr. Brian T. Carlsen, a hand surgeon at the Mayo Clinic.

“The tendon sheaths and joints are superficial in the hand, and cat bites penetrate easily, seeding those spaces with the germ, ” he added. “Once it’s in there, it can grow quite rapidly in fluid-filled spaces that don’t have blood circulation, and surgery is often required. That’s an important message: don’t ignore a cat bite.”

Building an Empire

Lego only recently discovered that there were two genders. Legos for girls seem to be selling as well as Legos for girls. Now there is a Legos movie, which opened last weekend earning 69.1 million dollars! Gregory Schmidt writes,
the movie’s characters, including the heroes Emmet and Wyldstyle, will be the stars of a video game, as well as being sold in traditional retail stores in toy kits.

Read everything about Legos here.

Drug counterfeiters

Do you know where your prescription drug is coming from? Gardiner Harris writes
India, the second-largest exporter of over-the-counter and prescription drugs to the United States, is coming under increased scrutiny by American regulators for safety lapses, falsified drug test results and selling fake medicines.

India’s pharmaceutical industry supplies 40 percent of over-the-counter and generic prescription drugs consumed in the United States.

“If I have to follow U.S. standards in inspecting facilities supplying to the Indian market,” G. N. Singh, India’s top drug regulator, said in a recent interview with an Indian newspaper, “we will have to shut almost all of those.”

The World Health Organization estimated that one in five drugs made in India are fakes.

In one recent example, counterfeit medicines at a pediatric hospital in Kashmir are now suspected of playing a role in hundreds of infant deaths there in recent years.

One widely used antibiotic was found to contain no active ingredient after being randomly tested in a government lab. The test was kept secret for nearly a year while 100,000 useless pills continued to be dispensed.

More tests of hospital medicines found dozens more that were substandard, including a crucial intravenous antibiotic used in sick infants.

“Some of the fake tablets were used by pregnant women in the post-surgical prevention of infections,” said Dr. M. Ishaq Geer, senior assistant professor of pharmacology at the University of Kashmir. “That’s very serious.”

Investigations of the deaths are continuing, but convictions of drug counterfeiters in India are extremely rare.

80 percent of the seafood consumed in the United States, 50 percent of the fresh fruit, 20 percent of the vegetables and the vast majority of drugs come from outside the United States.

American businesses and F.D.A. officials are just as concerned about the quality of drugs coming out of China, but the F.D.A.'s efforts to increase inspections there have so far been frustrated by the Chinese government.

Using its new revenues, the F.D.A. tried to bolster its staff in China in February 2012. But the Chinese government has so far failed to provide the necessary visas despite an announced agreement in December 2013 during a visit by Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., said Erica Jefferson, an F.D.A. spokeswoman.

The United States has become so dependent on Chinese imports, however, that the F.D.A. may not be able to do much about the Chinese refusal. The crucial ingredients for nearly all antibiotics, steroids and many other lifesaving drugs are now made exclusively in China.

Love isn't blind. Love is the only way of really seeing.

Ann Voskamp's Valentines weekend post:
None of us ever know whom we marry. And falling in love never made anyone angels… it’s only made it clear how far we’ve fallen. Who we say ‘I do’ to — is not who we roll over to touch twenty years later. The challenge for the vows is to fall in love with the stranger to whom you find yourself married.

The vows are a vow to make the stranger you marry — come to intimately know love everyday.

This is the only way we become married to the right people.

Real Love truthfully sees the flaws — and still really loves fully.

Love isn’t blind — Love is the only way of really seeing. You have loved me real.

The moment you let love into your heart, your heart starts breaking. The only way to stop your heart from breaking is to stop your heart from loving. You always get to choose: either a hard heart or a broken heart. A broken heart is always the abundant heart — all those many beautiful pieces only evidence of an abundant life.

Read much more here.


Thanks to Ann Voskamp

Pick them back up!

Thanks to Ann Voskamp

Animal cuddles

Tongue cuddles count, too.

Go here to see 28 more.

Thanks to Ann Voskamp


A dad took the time to do the right thing, and encourage his son to remember and do the same.

Thanks to Ann Voskamp

A Hall of Famer

The Lord gives ya the strength to go through most anything.

Thanks to Ann Voskamp

Helping each other cross the finish line with dignity

BuzzFeed has the story of the Russian Olympian whose ski broke during the finals of the Men's Cross-Country Skiing Sprint. A Canadian coach brought him a replacement ski so he could finish the race.

Take away your imperfections, then what is left?

"The ideal just doesn't exist!"

Thanks to Ann Voskamp

Thinking of his team

Thanks to Ann Voskamp, where you can see a longer interview with Junio.

He ain't heavy...

According to RT,
Canada’s Alex Bilodeau has credited his Olympic gold in freestyle skiing to his older brother Frederic, who has cerebral palsy. The moguls champion said his sibling is an “everyday inspiration” after embracing Frederic at his winning finish.

With Frederic’s motivation for life, he “would be four-time Olympic champion,” the Canadian said, adding that he himself has “an easy path” and feels the need to go after Frederic’s dreams and “do the best I can just out of respect to him.”

Thanks to Ann Voskamp.

The Wave

Have you ever heard of "The Wave?" It is in Paria canyon in Utah and Arizona. It was
formed over the past 85 million years as different layers of limestone were worn away.

Thanks to Ann Voskamp.

Target's breach of security

Did Target have warnings before hackers stole 40 million debit and credit cards from its servers? Three WSJ reporters write that
At least one analyst at the Minneapolis-based retailer wanted to do a more thorough security review of its payment system, a request that at least initially was brushed off.

(Photo by Getty images)

The sheer volume of warnings that retailers receive makes it hard to know which to take seriously. Target has an extensive cybersecurity intelligence team, which sees numerous threats each week and could prioritize only so many issues at its monthly steering committee meetings, the former employee said.

The hackers, still unnamed, originally gained access to Target's network by stealing the access credentials of a refrigeration contractor in Pennsylvania. The contractor, Fazio Mechanical Services, has confirmed it was breached and is cooperating with the Secret Service investigation.

The attackers stole not only the card data, but personal information like phone numbers and email addresses for up to 70 million people.

Do you manage conflict, or avoid it at all costs?

Do you have a culture of "artificial harmony" at your work or in your home? Do you have a stomach for conflict? This Wall Street Journal column asserts that people who learn how to manage conflict are more likely to do well than people who avoid conflict. Are you able to stay cool and not take disagreements personally? If you are feeling uncomfortable, maybe you are actually doing the right thing!

Journal notes of Hillary's "best friend"

Are Republicans afraid of Hillary Clinton? Maybe they should be. A person Hillary described as "her closest friend" left her journal notes with the University of Arkansas when she died in 2000. They were kept sealed until 2010. Alana Goodman, an enterprising reporter for the Washington Free Beacon, went to Arkansas to take a look at the journal entries of Hillary's friend, Diane Blair.

Is Hillary pugnacious? Yes. Does she have a temper? Yes. Is she ruthless? Yes! Is she profane? Yes! Peggy Noonan notes in the Wall Street Journal today that
the Clintons were of the Democratic generation that disdained Chicago's first Mayor Richard Daley, whose administration they literally fought in the streets. He was rough, tough, the machine. The Clintons rose and went on to become . . . rough, tough, a machine. In politics as in life you can become what you hate.

The Blair papers remind us that in the past quarter-century the office of the presidency has become everyone's psychotherapy. There is an emphasis on the personality, nature, character and charisma of the president. He gets into dramas. He survives them. He is working out his issues. He is avenging childhood feelings of powerlessness. He is working through his ambivalence at certain power dynamics. He will show dad.

History becomes the therapist. The taxpayer winds up paying the therapist's bill.

This wouldn't be so bad—it would actually be entertaining!—if the presidency were not such a consequential role. People can lose lives when presidents work through their issues. This Endless Drama of the Charismatic President is getting old. And dangerous.

Finally, the Blair papers are interesting, but don't expect much more. Word in Clintonland will have gone out: Ditch the papers. Have a bonfire. Or see that they're sealed until 2066.

Some President's Day quotes

“You cannot build character and courage by taking away a man’s initiative and independence.” – Abraham Lincoln

“True friendship is a plant of slow growth, and must undergo and withstand the shocks of adversity, before it is entitled to the appellation.” – George Washington

“I hope I shall always possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider the most enviable of all titles, the character of an “Honest Man”.” – George Washington

“This generation of Americans has a rendezvous with destiny.” Franklin D. Roosevelt

“I want the people of America to be able to work less for the government and more for themselves. I want them to have the rewards of their own industry. This is the chief meaning of freedom. Until we can re-establish a condition under which the earnings of the people can be kept by the people, we are bound to suffer a very severe and distinct curtailment of our liberty.” –President Calvin Coolidge

"You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred." Abraham Lincoln

"You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves." Abraham Lincoln

Found here.

A fighter for children

There is a battle going on in New York. It's between newly elected progressive Mayor deBlasio and Eve Moscowitz. Eva who, you ask? She is the CEO of New York's charter school system, which serves 6,700 students who are predominantly from poor and minority families. Recent test scores showed her students performing in the top 1% in math and top 7% in English.

Matthew Kaminski writes,
Charters hire teachers who don't have to join and pay union dues, and who work outside the traditional system.

The schools are also mushrooming nationwide. Nearly half the public schools in Washington, D.C., and virtually all in New Orleans are charters. One reason the friction in New York is especially bad comes from the city's practice during the Bloomberg years of having charters share space with regular schools. The charters then often proceeded, embarrassingly, to outperform the other schools.

Already deBlasio has cut all funding for charter-school construction after 2015. He announced a "moratorium" on putting new charters inside existing schools. He is considering ways to roll back 25 co-locations already approved for the next school year, including 10 Success Academies.

While Mayor de Blasio can't stop the creation of charters, he controls access to the most treasured asset in New York City, real estate.

Ms. Moskowitz won't concede that charters must pay rent one way or another. Her schools, run by an independent nonprofit, don't charge tuition to students, who are enrolled through a lottery. The state gives charter operators $13,527 per student, less than what it costs to educate a regular public school student.

She says the charters take underutilized space in a school system with 200,000 empty seats.

Peace talks in Syria break off

The Syria peace talks have broken off, and the Saudis are giving the Syrian rebels antiaircraft weapons that can shoot down jets. I thought Obama had gotten Syria to remove all its chemical weapons when he warned Asaad not to cross the red line!

VW workers turn down UAW

Workers at the Chattanooga, Tennessee Volkswagon plant rejected the United Auto Workers Union yesterday by a vote of 712 to 626. Neal E. Boudette writes in the WSJ,
Under an agreement the UAW has with Volkswagen, it now must cease all organizing efforts aimed at the Chattanooga plant for at least a year. The UAW once represented 1.5 million workers, but now has about 400,000, and diminished influence, as a result of years of downsizing, layoffs and cutbacks by the three Detroit auto makers General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co. F +1.06% and Chrysler Group.

The election was also extraordinary because Volkswagen choose to cooperate closely with the UAW. Volkswagen allowed UAW organizers to campaign inside the factory—a step rarely seen in this or other industries.

The vote was held amid public campaigning against the union by Republican politicians, including Gov. Bill Haslam, and conservative activist groups. Conservative political groups, including one backed by antitax activist Grover Norquist, put up anti-union billboards around Chattanooga. A small but determined group of workers who oppose the UAW also worked to tilt their colleagues against the union, an effort that ultimately proved successful.

"I'm thrilled for the employees and thrilled for the community," Tennessee Republican Sen. Bob Corker said in a telephone interview, adding that he's "sincerely overwhelmed" by the result.

In addition to letting union representatives into the plant, Volkswagen kept members of management from expressing any views on the vote, and agreed to coordinate its public statements with the union during the election campaign.

"If the union comes in, we'll have a divided work force," said Cheryl Hawkins, 44, an assembly line worker with three sons. "It will ruin what we have."

Other UAW opponents said they dislike the union's support of politicians who back causes like abortion rights and gun control that rub against the conservative bent of Southern states like Tennessee. Still others objected to paying dues to a union from Detroit that is aligned with Volkswagen competitors like GM and Ford.