Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Adventures in video games

Nicholson Baker misses grass. That's because he has been inside his house playing all the most popular video games, and writes about each of them here.
Thanks to Conor Friedersdorf.

Have you been replaced by a machine? I didn't think so.

People who predict what the future will be like seem always to turn out to be wrong. Have you noticed that? For example, rather than making the human brain obsolete, as some predicted, computers seem to have made humans even more important and necessary. Nevertheless, ever since the 1960s there has been widespread speculation that computers are going to "take over." Here is an article published in The Atlantic in 1975 that analyzed the issue from several different angles.
Thanks to Conor Friedersdorf.

Pharmaceutical companies recruiting homeless people for trials of antipsychotic drugs

Carl Elliott writes:
Most people think of pharmaceutical research as a highly technical activity that takes place in world-class medical centers. The reality is somewhat different.

Mr. Elliott visited homeless shelters where mentally ill homeless people are recruited to participate in research studies to test psychiatric drugs.
The main ethical issues here, of course, are the competence and judgment of the prospective subjects. “When you say ‘money,’ everything else goes out the window,” said Hanif Jackson, a former program supervisor at the Ridge Avenue shelter in Philadelphia, which recently closed down. I heard the same thing from Harvey Bass, a chaplain who has worked at the Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission shelter for 15 years. He said drug study recruiters often park outside the shelter and approach residents on the sidewalk. Although Bass didn’t think it was his place to warn residents away from the studies, it was clear that he was not exactly a fan. “These guys have no job, no home, and a habit,” he said. “You have people at their lowest state, and they’ll say yes to anything.”

Abilify was the best-selling drug in America in 2013, with sales of $6.5 billion. It is also the most visible representative of an extraordinarily profitable class of drugs. Antipsychotics have been around since the 1950s, but for the first 40 years of their existence they were reserved for patients with serious mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia. (Medical journals advertised them with slogans such as “Reduces need for shock therapy and lobotomy.”) There was good reason for this caution: Antipsychotics can cause potentially dangerous or disabling side effects, such as muscle stiffness, tremors, extreme restlessness, and tics. The most notorious is tardive dyskinesia, a writhing, twitching motion of the mouth and tongue that can be permanent.

About 20 years ago, pharmaceutical companies began rolling out new and improved, or “atypical,” antipsychotics—drugs like Risperdal, Zyprexa, Seroquel, and later Abilify. The atypicals were expensive, but the companies’ marketing materials described them as safer and more pleasant to take. By the mid-2000s, physicians were prescribing the new antipsychotics for a dizzyingly broad range of conditions, including insomnia, depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, agitation, autism, ADHD, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Prescriptions of antipsychotics for conditions other than serious mental illness doubled, and the drugs found frequent use in nursing homes, juvenile care facilities, and prisons.

There are 10 different atypical antipsychotic drugs now available in the United States, each of which had to be tested in humans. Several are available in long-acting or injectable formulations, which require additional human testing. When the patent on a drug expires, rival companies often release a generic version, which requires yet more testing. Add to this all of the experimental antipsychotics that were tested on volunteers but never made it to market, and you begin to understand the economic forces behind what I saw in Philadelphia. Drug companies need mentally ill research subjects, and homeless shelters are full of them.

Many people assume that medical research studies are tightly regulated to ensure the safety of the subjects, but that’s not the case. In the 1970s, after a series of notorious research abuses, legislators pushed for a central federal agency with the power to protect human research subjects. The medical research establishment fought this idea, however, and when the National Research Act was passed in 1974 a very different alternative followed: a patchwork system of small ethics committees known as Institutional Review Boards. The boards were originally located in hospitals and medical schools, but clinical research has since moved into the private sector. Many are now for-profit companies that review studies in exchange for a fee.
Read more here.
Thanks to Conor Friedersdorf

This is what happens when you don’t pay tribute to the State

Are you keeping up with what's happening in New York? Manhattan Infidel is always there to help fill us in with the latest. For example, did you hear about the man who was killed by police after trying to sell untaxed cigarettes? Read the whole story with photos here.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Every third person you meet has debt being turned over for collections

Josh Boak, AP economics writer, reports that "more than 35 percent of Americans have debts and unpaid bills that have been reported to collection agencies, according to a study released Tuesday by the Urban Institute."
Health care-related bills account for 37.9 percent of the debts collected, according to a new report commissioned by the Association of Credit and Collection Professionals. Student loan debt represents another 25.2 percent and credit cards make up 10.1 percent, with the rest of the collections going for local governments, retailers, telecoms and utilities.

The delinquent debt is overwhelmingly concentrated in Southern and Western states. Texas cities have a large share of their populations being reported to collection agencies: Dallas (44.3 percent); El Paso (44.4 percent), Houston (43.7 percent), McAllen (51.7 percent) and San Antonio (44.5 percent).

Almost half of Las Vegas residents- many of whom bore the brunt of the housing bust that sparked the recession- have debt in collections. Other Southern cities have a disproportionate number of their people facing debt collectors, including Orlando and Jacksonville, Florida; Memphis, Tennessee; Columbia, South Carolina; and Jackson, Mississippi.
Read more here.

Deadly Ebola outbreak

Have you heard about the Ebola outbreak in West Africa? USA Today reports:
Since it was detected in March, the number of cases attributed to Ebola in the West African nations of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea stands at 1,201, including 672 deaths. Two U.S. doctors contracted the virus while trying to stop the spread of the infectious disease.

Ebola has spread in Africa partly because of religious customs, in which family members wash the bodies of deceased relatives to prepare them for burial.

The virus also has spread to health care workers in Africa, where six or seven patients may share a single hospital room. Hospitals in developing countries also may lack certain infection-control measures — such as special containers to dispose of syringes — that are standard in U.S. facilities, Osterholm says. Wearing full-body protective garments – commonly called "moon suits" – is also more of a challenge in open-air clinics, because the restrictive outfits can cause people to quickly overheat.

Two Americans providing humanitarian assistance in West Africa have become infected with Ebola. Family members of one of them, Kent Brantly, a doctor, had been living with him in Africa, but returned to the USA before he began showing symptoms. To be careful, however, the family is on a "21-day fever watch," in which they are being asked to monitor themselves for symptoms, says Stephan Monroe, deputy director of the CDC's national center for emerging and zoonotic infectious diseases.

Symptoms of Ebola include fever, muscle aches, chills, sore throat, vomiting and diarrhea and a rash, according to the WHO. Advanced cases also can cause heavy bleeding, both internally and from the mouth and nose. Ebola can damage multiple organs, causing kidney and liver failure.

CDC still has not released records requested by USA TODAY in 2010 under the Freedom of Information Act relating to failures of the "Do Not Board" list to stop passengers from flying.
Read more here.

Never again!

They arrested his book! Great evil done in the name of the greater good.

An island of civilization in a sea of barbarity

Israel's territorial gains did not come from Israel attacking Arabs. They came from Israel being attacked by Arabs! Support BDS for every nation in the region except Israel! Obama gave Hamas $400,000,000!

Serious business

Thanks to Scott Ott and Glenn Reynolds

Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, what did you think of the play?

What do you get when you shovel money to dictators? Microsoft Bob on a tyrannical scale!

We declared liberty, and it led to prosperity!

Practice what we preach? Heaven forbid!

Scott Ott writes that
We don’t have an immigration problem. We have a welfare-state problem. And in the welfare state, the main offense is not the expense but the indignity of human bondage — freemen shackled with chains of Orwellian “entitlement.”

When we hand out tax-funded “welfare benefits” to new immigrants we undercut the very message of America. That first government handout says, “Welcome to the land where an all-powerful State can take your property, at gunpoint or under threat of imprisonment, and give it to another man who did not labor for it.”

In addition, it tells the newcomer that in America, we don’t care for each other in personal ways through voluntary charity in family and community. We outsource love to remote-control bureaucrats who compel us to fund faux charity.

Nevertheless, most immigrants just want a place where they can work and secure property, free from the lawless predations of thugs, both within and outside of government. Properly welcomed, immigrants are natural allies of the Right.

In fact, it might not hurt to have a few more people around the neighborhood who understand the endgame of the rapacious State, because they recently fled one. They’re ideal new recruits for “the common sense resistance” to U.S. government predation.

Our principles call for smaller government. We lament the hassle and expense of the mindless federal bureaucracy in other realms. Yet when it comes to immigration, we demand that people suffer the endless imposition, the timeless delay, the irrational expense and the petty tyranny of a bloated federal nightmare.

It’s as if we say: “If you want to join our fraternity, you have to endure our humiliating pledge process, and absurd initiation rite. Only then can you be assimilated into the brotherhood of the denigrated.”

Our welcome at the “golden door” seems designed to teach the prospective citizen that the government is all-powerful, and that you live and move and have your being, only with her permission.

Free markets, smaller Constitutional government, voluntary charity, the pursuit of happiness and love for our fellow humans provide the guide to creating a enthusiastic welcome for the tired, poor, homeless and tempest-tost huddled masses yearning to breathe free.

It’s about time that we stood for what we stand for.
Read more here.

The tide will stop when America stops being the beacon of liberty. I contend that one who wishes to stem the tide of immigration, inadvertently wishes American demise.

Can utopia be manufactured?

Scott Ott doesn't think so:
“And that was the great insight of the constitutional framers – the realization that we can’t manufacture utopia. The best we can do is to protect people from hurting each other by accumulating power and then imposing their will on others. So we can protect people from government, and then let people have the freedom to interact with each other and to prosper and to pursue happiness.”
Read more here.

Genocide in Iraq

Rep. Frank Wolf is speaking out against the eradication of Christians in Iraq. Where is the president? Where is the Congress? Read more here.

When you don't do anything, you don't need to know what you're talking about.

Why liberals flock to occupations where they don't do anything. It's academic! It's government! It's journalism! It's show biz!

Should we try to better ourselves, or just be content to be ourselves?

Also, why is the womb a liberal paradise?

"He is the heart of our family"

The power of the teachers unions

Unions fight for their members. Who knew?

The future is friction

Scott Ott writes at Scrappleface:
“We know that fossil fuel emissions will soon incinerate the planet, and could reduce Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the U.S. by up to 3.1 percent,” Obama said. “We also know that wind power slaughters birds, solar and water power clutter the landscape and disturb wildlife, batteries contain corrosive chemicals–and are often not included anyway — and nuclear power creates tsunamis, as we saw in Fukushima, Japan, not so long ago. America’s last best hope is friction.”

“As long as I’m in this White House,” President Obama said, “the future is friction.”

Under the new rules from the EPA, the power industry would have up to 90 days to make the transition to friction generators after disabling existing power plants at the end of August.

Americans unwilling to wait 90 days could create their own friction at home, using simple hand cranks, bicycles, political discussions or visits from the in-laws.
Go here to see how to make friction, I think.

Monday, July 28, 2014

I know I'll never find another you


From a movie I have not seen, but how can you go wrong with Robert De Niro?

Recommended by Christopher Buckley

Son Of Hamas Founder Speaks Out About Why He Defected And What Hamas Is Planning

Caroline Schaeffer posts a CNN interview with a son of one of the founders of Hamas here.

Going camping this summer?

Thanks to Christopher Buckley, whose idea of camping is room service.

Adolescence: freeing the frontal cortex from the straightjacket of genes

Robert Sapolsky observes that
adolescence is the time of life when someone is most likely to join a cult, kill, be killed, invent an art form, help overthrow a dictator, ethnically cleanse a village, care for the needy, transform physics, adopt a hideous fashion style, commit to God, and be convinced that all the forces of history have converged to make this moment the most consequential ever, fraught with peril and promise.

The teenage brain is unique. It’s not merely an adult brain that is half-cooked or a child’s brain left unrefrigerated for too long. Its distinctiveness arises from a key region, the frontal cortex, not being fully developed. This largely explains the turbulence of adolescence. It also reflects an important evolutionary pressure.

The frontal cortex is the most recently evolved part of the human brain. It’s where the sensible mature stuff happens: long-term planning, executive function, impulse control, and emotional regulation. It’s what makes you do the right thing when it’s the harder thing to do. But its neurons are not fully wired up until your mid-20s.

What about the effects of peer pressure?
Teenage vulnerability to peer pressure is worsened by the fact that such pressure rarely takes the form of hesitant adolescents coerced into joining in the fun of committing random acts of kindness. Instead, pressure disproportionately takes the form of “deviance training,” increasing the likelihood of risky sexual behavior, poor health habits, substance abuse, and violence. As has been said, the greatest crime-fighting tool available to society is a 30th birthday.

The pain in not belonging:
One brain-imaging study reveals the neural depths of adolescent pain in not belonging. Put someone in a scanner to play a video game with two other individuals, and manipulate things so that the subject believes they are being ostracized. In adults, this social exclusion activates the amygdala along with other limbic regions associated with pain, disgust, anger, and sadness. But then the frontal cortex kicks in—“Come on, it’s a stupid game”—and the limbic structures quiet down. Do the same with an adolescent and the frontal cortex remains silent and that agonized limbic network of teenage angst wails.

What about the tsunamis of hormones?
The slowpoke frontal cortex is not the only explanation for teen behavior. Another factor comes into play that keeps that teen brain off balance, namely gonadal hormones like estrogen and progesterone in females, and testosterone in males. This helps explain why adolescence is more turbulent than childhood—the frontal cortex is immature at both ages, but the tsunamis of hormones haven’t started in pre-adolescents. Hormones have numerous effects on the function of both the limbic system and frontal cortex. Testosterone decreases the ability of the frontal cortex to communicate with and rein in the amygdala. Not surprisingly, landmarks of adolescent maturation in brain and behavior are less related to chronological age than to time since puberty.

If the frontal cortex is the last part of the brain to fully mature, it is by definition the brain region least shaped by that genome and most sculpted by experience. With each passing day, the frontal cortex is more the creation of what life has thrown at you, and thus who you become.

Sure, adolescence has its down sides, but it has its abundant pluses—the inventiveness, the optimism, the empathy. Its biggest plus is that it allows the frontal cortex time to develop. There’s no other way we could navigate the ever-increasing complexity of our social world.
The link has been fixed. Please read more here.

Our innumeracy

Elizabeth Green on Common Core's way of teaching math:
Carefully taught, the assignments can help make math more concrete. Students don’t just memorize their times tables and addition facts but also understand how arithmetic works and how to apply it to real-life situations. But in practice, most teachers are unprepared and children are baffled, leaving parents furious. The comedian Louis C.K. parodied his daughters’ homework in an appearance on “The Late Show With David Letterman”: “It’s like, Bill has three goldfish. He buys two more. How many dogs live in London?”

On national tests, nearly two-thirds of fourth graders and eighth graders are not proficient in math. More than half of fourth graders taking the 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress could not accurately read the temperature on a neatly drawn thermometer. (They did not understand that each hash mark represented two degrees rather than one, leading many students to mistake 46 degrees for 43 degrees.) On the same multiple-choice test, three-quarters of fourth graders could not translate a simple word problem about a girl who sold 15 cups of lemonade on Saturday and twice as many on Sunday into the expression “15 + (2×15).” Even in Massachusetts, one of the country’s highest-performing states, math students are more than two years behind their counterparts in Shanghai.

One of the most vivid arithmetic failings displayed by Americans occurred in the early 1980s, when the A&W restaurant chain released a new hamburger to rival the McDonald’s Quarter Pounder. With a third-pound of beef, the A&W burger had more meat than the Quarter Pounder; in taste tests, customers preferred A&W’s burger. And it was less expensive. A lavish A&W television and radio marketing campaign cited these benefits. Yet instead of leaping at the great value, customers snubbed it.

Only when the company held customer focus groups did it become clear why. The Third Pounder presented the American public with a test in fractions. And we failed. Misunderstanding the value of one-third, customers believed they were being overcharged. Why, they asked the researchers, should they pay the same amount for a third of a pound of meat as they did for a quarter-pound of meat at McDonald’s. The “4” in “¼,” larger than the “3” in “⅓,” led them astray.

Culture war? The right is not even in the game!

Harry Stein writes at City Journal about how all the targets of the entertainment industry's humor are always on the right.
It’s hardly happenstance that in a country evenly split between left and right, in entertainment programming the left/liberal worldview today reigns virtually unchallenged. As Andrew Klavan observes, it is now “almost an unwritten law of Hollywood that any glancing reference to real-life politics in a film or television show must be slanted left.” Just as viewers can safely assume that the straightlaced businessman on contemporary crime shows will turn out to be a bad guy, it’s an excellent bet that, far from knowing best, today’s sitcom dad will be a hapless lunkhead, while his fictional kids will be gung-ho environmentalists. If Ned Flanders of The Simpsons stands as TV’s idea of a do-gooding religious traditionalist, no one is fairer game on award-winning shows like 30 Rock or Parks and Recreation than real-life conservative pols, with Sarah Palin an especially attractive piƱata. (Of course, President Obama is off-limits.)

For some of us on the right, this is a profound source of frustration, a key reason that we are not only losing the culture war but not even in the game. The problem is not so much a lack of comic targets on the left—why not a sitcom set on one of today’s insanely politically correct campuses or in a lapdog mainstream newsroom? Why no gags at the expense of a Joe Biden or Harry Reid?—as it is a shortage of network executives and creative types to make it happen.
Read more here.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

"I want to be able to walk without a walker!"

Thanks to Ann Voskamp

Build pipeline!

Steve Raabe reports that the nation's rail lines are clogged. Wheat elevators are full, and the wheat is just being stacked in piles next to rail lines. That will surely help the gluten free movement! Shipments of coal are being hardest hit,
but other commodities such as oil, grain and manufactured goods also are experiencing shipping delays.

Part of the shortage stems from a surge in domestic crude oil production, some of which is transported in rail tank cars.

Analysts say other factors include an improving economy that is pushing demand for rail transportation, and the severe winter of 2013-14 that hampered rail operations.

The Surface Transportation Board said it is particularly concerned about grain transport, with a backlog of shipments from last year's crops and large amounts of new grain coming in from above-average harvests this year in many parts of the country.

Here in Colorado this summer's harvest is estimated at 86.4 million bushels, nearly double last year's 44.3 million bushels, rail capacity could become an issue.

Eighty percent of Colorado's wheat crop is shipped out of state by rail, mostly for export to Asia and the Mideast.

Booming production of crude oil also is stressing the nation's rail system. Colorado output has more than doubled since 2008, to 177,000 barrels a day in 2013.
Read more here.

A jobless future?

Vivek Wadhwa writes in the Washington Post that
Self-driving cars will be commercially available by the end of this decade and will eventually displace human drivers—just as automobiles displaced the horse and buggy—and will eliminate the jobs of taxi, bus, and truck drivers. Drones will take the jobs of postmen and delivery people.

The debates of the next decade will be about whether we should allow human beings to drive at all on public roads. The pesky humans crash into each other, suffer from road rage, rush headlong into traffic jams, and need to be monitored by traffic police. Yes, we won’t need traffic cops either.

Robots are already replacing manufacturing workers. Industrial robots have advanced to the point at which they can do the same physical work as human beings. The operating cost of some robots is now less than the salary of an average Chinese worker. And, unlike human beings, robots don’t complain, join labor unions, or get distracted. They readily work 24 hours a day and require minimal maintenance. Robots will also take the jobs of farmers, pharmacists, and grocery clerks.

Regardless, at best we have another 10 to 15 years in which there is a role for humans. The number of available jobs will actually increase in the U.S. and Europe before it decreases. China is out of time because it has a manufacturing-based economy, and those jobs are already disappearing. Ironically, China is accelerating this demise by embracing robotics and 3D printing. As manufacturing comes back to the U.S., new factories need to be built, robots need to be programmed, and new infrastructure needs to be developed. To install new hardware and software on existing cars to make them self-driving, we will need many new auto mechanics. We need to manufacture the new medical sensors, install increasingly efficient solar panels, and write new automation software.
Read more here.

They helped us. Now we are turning our back on them. Maybe the White House isn't sure how they would vote.

"Thousands of Iraqis and Afghans who helped the U.S. military during wars in their countries are endangered because of their assistance as interpreters, drivers and advisers," writes Jeremy P. Meyer.
Thousands of Iraqis and Afghans who helped the U.S. military during wars in their countries are endangered because of their assistance as interpreters, drivers and advisers. Congress created special visa categories for Iraqis and Afghans who helped Americans. But bureaucracy and inaction from the White House has all but halted their distribution.

In a June op-ed in The New York Times, Kirk Johnson claimed 85 of the 90 Iraqis he worked with when he was a USAID worker in Baghdad and Fallujah have been chased from Iraq, and that three were recently assassinated.

In 2008, legislation promising 25,000 special immigrant visas over a five-year span for Iraqis who helped the U.S. military passed with broad bipartisan support. A year later, a similar law passed for Afghans.

Yet, the initiatives immediately got strangled by bureaucracy. "Wherever there was an obscure way to interpret the language, the State Department did it and issued as few visas as possible," Johnson said.

Only 6,000 visas had been issued by the end of 2013. Congress extended the program this year for an additional 2,500 Iraqi visas through September. But with the U.S. Embassy essentially shuttered, there is little hope for at-risk Iraqis seeking asylum.

Johnson lays the blame on President Obama, who he says has not pushed for action like other presidents. "Obama has never uttered a syllable on this," he said. "Congress has done its part. We have a president who doesn't prioritize this."

Johnson points to President Ford backing the airlift of 125,000 Vietnamese in 1975 and President Clinton ordering the airlift of 6,600 Kurdish evacuees in 1997.

Obama inherited these wars, but he also took on promises made to our Iraqi and Afghan friends. We need to honor those promises and get them out before they are killed.
Read more here.

Marijuana diversion

Troy A. Eid, a former U.S. attorney for Colorado, chairs the National Indian Law and Order Commission. He reports that Colorado's state sanctioned packaging of edible marijuana has had a devastating effect on Native American youth throughout the west.

Interestingly, though, he writes that the solution is for Congress to
Revise the U.S. Criminal Code to enable all states and Indian tribes to opt out of federal marijuana laws — essentially how alcohol prohibition ended during the New Deal in the 1930s — offers state and tribal voters a meaningful choice instead of the chaos that often reigns today. Only federally authorized decriminalization of marijuana that respects the prerogatives of states and tribes can ensure a concerted national enforcement strategy against marijuana diversion.

That same national approach, backed by strong federal enforcement in partnership with state, local and tribal law enforcement and prosecution, has largely eliminated alcohol bootlegging and the gangs that profited by it. Rigorous federal requirements for the testing, regulating, marketing and advertising of alcohol, with local licensing for sale and distribution, likewise provides vital safeguards against use and abuse by young people.

There is a right way and a wrong way to do things. Colorado's marijuana experiment is many things — a protest against Washington, D.C., a bow to Colorado's tradition of political independence — but it's also just plain self-centered. We all know it. The people in places like the Pine Ridge Reservation — experts in hearing broken promises from their neighbors — know it, too.

We're not fooling anyone. It's time for Congress to act.
Please read more here.

Frequent fliers

Manuel Roig-Franzia writes in the Washington Post about illegal immigrant unaccompanied minors being flown from state to state at taxpayer expense.
Before they sloshed and skidded across the Rio Grande, Greysi and Claudia Paula had never been on a plane.

Now the teenage Honduran sisters are frequent fliers, crisscrossing America on government chartered jets and settling into commercial airliner seats at taxpayer expense. In the harried and jumbled scramble to house a wave of unaccompanied minors illegally entering the United States, U.S. officials have ordered the girls flown from Texas to Arizona, from Arizona to Oklahoma and from Oklahoma back to Arizona — all in a matter of weeks.

Their jagged 3,000-plus mile trek is one of hundreds outlined in confidential Department of Homeland Security e-mails and extensively detailed Honduran diplomatic journals reviewed by The Washington Post. The documents show that Central American children, almost all of whom will be released to relatives while they await court hearings, are being sent on meandering, circular and often illogical odysseys. Frequently, children are being apprehended in the border states where their families live and flown thousands of miles to shelters and detention facilities, only to be flown back to the border states where their U.S. journeys started.
Read more here and plenty of photos, too.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Why readers are the best people to fall in love with

Lauren Martin gives several reasons:
According to both 2006 and 2009 studies published by Raymond Mar, a psychologist at York University in Canada, and Keith Oatley, a professor of cognitive psychology at the University of Toronto, those who read fiction are capable of the most empathy and “theory of mind,” which is the ability to hold opinions, beliefs and interests apart from their own.

They can entertain other ideas, without rejecting them and still retain their own.

It’s no surprise that readers are better people. Having experienced someone else’s life through abstract eyes, they’ve learned what it’s like to leave their bodies and see the world through other frames of reference.

They have access to hundreds of souls, and the collected wisdom of all them. They have seen things you’ll never understand and have experienced deaths of people you’ll never know.

They’ve learned what it’s like to be a woman, and a man. They know what it’s like to watch someone suffer. They are wise beyond their years.

Another 2010 study by Mar reinforces this idea with results that prove the more stories children have read to them, the keener their “theory of mind.” So while everyone thinks their kids are the best, the ones who read have the edge as they truly are the wiser, more adaptable and understanding children.

Because reading is something that molds you and adds to your character. Each triumph, lesson and pivotal moment of the protagonist becomes your own.

Every ache, pain and harsh truth becomes yours to bear. You’ve traveled with authors and experienced the pain, sorrow and anguish they suffered while writing through it. You’ve lived a thousand lives and come back to learn from each of them.

If you’re still looking for someone to complete you, to fill the void of your singly-healed heart, look for the breed that’s dying out. You will find them in coffee shops, parks and subways.

You will see them with backpacks, shoulder bags and suitcases. They will be inquisitive and soulful, and you will know by the first few minutes of talking to them.
Read more here.


Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Thanks to Ann Voskamp

Here for the long haul

Thanks to Curt Dale for posting this.

Friday, July 25, 2014

"It's like they want to be fat"

Roosh V. decided to go see the world. After spending time in South America and Europe, he returned to his home in Washington D.C. He decide that there were some things wrong with America, and wrote a blog post about them.
1. There are a lot of girls in the 5 range. These are girls who would be 7′s if they lost weight and purchased a beauty kit.
2. Everyone is a slave to their phones.
3. There is no unifying culture, but everyone talks the same.
4. Strangers are too friendly.
5. The signal-to-noise ratio in conversations is abysmal. Americans know how to speak, but they don’t know how to have a conversation. Their typical chatter is so inane that most of my conversations are trying to figure out how to end the conversation.
6. There’s no concept of boundaries.
7. People worry about the most insignificant things.
8. Female interactions are dominated by fake compliments.
9. The level of game among men is going down.
10. People stuff their face after a night of drinking. It’s disturbing to see so many people eating greasy food after consuming several hundred calories from alcohol loaded with juice. Most of them are overweight yet they eat pizza or artisanal burgers right before they go to bed. It’s like they want to be fat.
11. Society is being constructed to protect women at the expense of men. In America, women are treated like porcelain dolls that must be treated gently. Great work has been made to ensure they are more educated than men, and women under 35 now make more than them.
12. Boys in public schools are being brainwashed with feminist ideology.
Go here to read his further explanations on each point.

"Cannot be trusted"

Dick Morris says that Obama is siding with Hamas. He notes that the first thing that John Kerry did when he arrived in Egypt was to announce a $47 million dollar aid package to Hamas. What percentage of that package do you suppose will be spent on new rocket attacks against Israel?

We are not allowed to land in Israel. It's okay to land in Afghanistan, Kiev, alll kinds of other places, but not in Israel's Ben Gurion airport. Despite the fact that Hamas does not have the capability to shoot down planes flying above 30,00 feet, like the Russian separatists do in Ukraine.

Morris quotes Senator Ted Cruz, who believes that the Obama administration is now, as a practical matter, joining the BDS Movement, boycott, divest, and sanction against Israel. Morris flat out states that Obama "cannot be trusted."
Watch the Morris video here.

Reaganesque? I don't think so.

Charles Krauthammer writes that
A real U.S. president would give Kiev the weapons it needs, impose devastating sectoral sanctions on Moscow, reinstate our Central European missile-defense system and make a Reaganesque speech explaining why.

All domination must end. But after how much devastation? If you leave it to the forces of history to repel aggression and redeem injustice, what's the point of politics?

The arc of history may indeed bend toward justice, Mr. President. But, as you say, the arc is long. The job of a leader is to shorten it. Otherwise, why do we need a president? And why did you seek to become ours?

Evidence, please

Going from an abject statement of ignorance to an abject statement of certainty.

Thanks to Seth Godin for sharing this video.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

UN actively supporting terrorists in the Gaza Strip?

Roger L. Simon is writing that Congress must investigate the UN role in Gaza.
The UN — specifically the UNRWA (UN Relief and Works Agency), but other agencies as well — may have been actively supporting terrorism and terrorists in the Gaza Strip, even aiding with the storage of Hamas weaponry (missiles), whether deliberately or accidentally is unclear.
Read more here.

Acceptable collateral damage

Jonathan Spyer writes:
The fight between Israel and Hamas in Gaza is presented in the global media as a local conflict featuring a well-organized state with its army, against a small Islamist organization. This picture is misleading. Hamas is not an isolated or even an entirely independent player. Rather, it is a member of a broader regional alliance, which is seeking to benefit from the current situation.

This is the alliance of Muslim Brotherhood forces in the Middle East. Qatar is the main financier and cheerleader for this group. Erdogan’s Turkey is also linked to it.

The Gaza war is best understood as this alliance’s war on Israel.

The dead Palestinians and the dead Israelis, presumably, are seen by the Hamas leaders Mashaal and Haniyeh, both of whom own mansions in Doha, and by the rich-as-Croesus Qatari emir, as acceptable collateral damage in return for their improved diplomatic and strategic position.
Read more here.

"You consume food. Food isn’t supposed to consume you. Don’t let it."

Mark Sisson is one person who has gone pretty much gluten free. Here he addresses the so-called "dangers" of going gluten free.

The missing link

Dick Morris believes the missing link tying the IRS scandal to the White House began to be forged last week. Watch his video here.

Can someone say something nice about Michael Bloomberg now?

Sally Goldenberg writes:
Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg is heading to Israel Tuesday night, flying on El Al in a show of unity with the Jewish state while U.S. and European airlines are canceling flights amid deadly fighting in Gaza.

"This evening I will be flying on El Al to Tel Aviv to show solidarity with the Israeli people and to demonstrate that it is safe to fly in and out of Israel," Bloomberg said in a prepared statement emailed by former City Hall spokesman Marc La Vorgna shortly after 8 p.m.

"Ben Gurion is the best protected airport in the world and El Al flights have been regularly flying in and out of it safely," Bloomberg continued. "The U.S. flight restrictions are a mistake that hands Hamas an undeserved victory and should be lifted immediately. I strongly urge the FAA to reverse course and permit US airlines to fly to Israel."
Read more here.

The left's populism versus the right's populism

Jonah Goldberg thinks there is a big difference between the populism of the left and the populism of the right:
The Right’s “libertarian populism” wants to separate big business and big government. That means no more “too big to fail” and no more of government picking winners and losers.

The Left’s anti-big-business populism is very different. It doesn’t want to cut the government’s incestuous relationship with big business; it simply wants to bring business to heel. Big business should do what Washington tells it to do, and when it does, it will get treats. When it doesn’t, it will get the newspaper to the nose. But big business will never be let off its leash, if the Left has its way.

What is Obamacare but an attempt to turn the entire health-care industry into Washington’s well-fed lapdog?
Find out how Elizabeth Warren fits into this conversation.

Climate science "crap"

Scott Ott recommends that our 2016 Presidential candidates skip a trip to Iowa this summer, and, instead, make a trip to Canberra, Australia, where they can learn from Prime Minister Tony Abbott about climate science "crap."
Read about it here.

Is thinking a hate crime?

Jew Hatred

It is endemic in the Democratic Party. Read more here.

Liberty comes first

Scott Ott has written an essay entitled, Thanks, Bill Gates: How to Keep Dictatorships Alive, Squelching Liberty on a Global Scale Scott writes:
The worst-case scenario is that Gates cravenly kowtows to the world’s oppressors because he needs their cooperation to reach his beloved development goals. Like a geek with an MS-Excel spreadsheet, he has lost sight of the human impact behind the columns, rows and formulae. All that matters is the data, not how you get there.

Perhaps most surprising: Gates has overlooked the first law of computer programming — garbage in, garbage out. Tracking bad data leads to bad conclusions which spur bad actions.

As a result, Gates and those like him in government and the private sector have become useful idiots for corrupt dictators, literally bankrolling the autocrats’ tyrannical regimes and heinous actions. This is not breaking news.

Our Declaration “that all men are created equal,” and the Constitution that institutionalized that equality, preceded our historic, world-changing prosperity. It’s not the other way around.
Please read more here.

What are we challenged to do nowadays?

Sell young people the apogee! Choosing to do the hard thing. Let's go back, then let's go higher!

Moral opposition? Where?

Are we in the middle of a new Cold War with a resurgent Russia? This Trifecta is valuable, if for no other reason than to hear Bill Whittle put Candy Crowley in her place. Please watch all the way to the end, when Steve Green has three wonderful suggestions:

Keep those women covered!

Scott Ott reads the New York Times, so we won't have to. He reports that the Times seems impressed with the new Caliphate being operated by ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Of course, there are still a few minor problems, such as:
In fairness, the story also notes that Muslim Sharia law leaves the hands of thieves disarmed, smokers without a break, drinkers dry and women cloaked.

But hey, it's not as bad as though right wingers would have you believe!
Read more of Scott here.

How do you look?

David Crary writes:
Experimentation with human growth hormones by America's teens more than doubled in the past year, as more young people looked to drugs to boost their athletic performance and improve their looks, according to a new, large-scale national survey.

Travis Tygart, CEO of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, depicted the numbers as alarming but not surprising, given the extensive online marketing of performance-enhancing substances and near-total lack of any drug testing for high school athletes.

"It's what you get when you combine aggressive promotion from for-profit companies with a vulnerable target - kids who want a quick fix and don't care about health risk," Tygart said in an interview. "It's a very easy sell, unfortunately."

Steve Pasierb, president of the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, said the motives of today's youthful dopers were different from the rebellious or escapist attitudes that traditionally accompanied teen drinking and pot-smoking.

"This is about how you feel, how you look," Pasierb said. "They're doing this thing to get ahead. ... Girls want to be thin and toned. For a lot of boys, it's about their six-pack."

Pasierb said high school coaches have a key role in combatting doping. Some are vigilant, other oblivious and perhaps a third are prepared to tolerate doping in the interests of winning, he said.

Tygart, who as USADA's chief oversaw investigations of Armstrong and Hamilton, noted that stringent testing regimens are an increasingly effective deterrent to doping among athletes in major pro sports and in international competitions.

"But most young athletes are not in any testing program, and their chance of getting caught is zero," he said. "When left unchecked, the win-at-all-cost culture will take over and athletes will make the wrong decision."

Information about teen use of performance-enhancing drugs is readily available online. The Mayo Clinic, for example, provides a list of possible hazards and side-effects, including stunted growth, acne, liver problems, shrunken testicles for boys and excess facial hair for girls.

The clinic urges parents to check the ingredients of over-the-counter products used by their teens, and to be on the lookout for warning signs, including increased aggressiveness, rapid weight gain, and needle marks in the buttocks or thighs.

The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids survey also reported on other forms of substance abuse. Among its findings:

-Forty-four percent of teens report using marijuana at least once within their lifetime; 24 percent report using within the past month; and 7 percent report using at least 20 times within the past month. These levels have remained stable over the past five years.

-After a sharp increase in teen misuse and abuse of prescription drugs in 2012, the rate remained stable in 2013, with 23 percent of teens reporting such abuse or misuse at least once. Fifteen percent reported having used the prescription painkillers Vicodin or OxyContin without a prescription at some point.
Read more here.

Can't a person share her drugs with friends any more?

photo provided by Arapahoe County District attorney's office

The lovely woman pictured above is being charged with providing prescription drugs from 2008 to 2011 to four young adults who overdosed on Opana, a narcotic painkiller similar to oxycodone. Jordan Steffen reports:
Almeda "Ally" Sullivan has been charged with one count of first-degree murder with extreme indifference in the 2011 accidental overdose death of 21-year-old Carter Hidgon. Sullivan has also been connected to three additional overdose deaths.

The first three overdose deaths allegedly connected to Sullivan provide the basis for the first-degree murder charge for Higdon's death, and prosecutors must prove that Sullivan knew what she was doing, was dangerous and remained indifferent. They are not required to prove she intended to kill Higdon.
Read more here.

To whom is he worth $13.7 million?

Democrat Senator Mark Udahl so far in 2014 has raised $13.7 million dollars for his reelection campaign. To whom is he worth that much money? I am supporting his Republican challenger, Cory Gardner, who has only raised $5 million.

Udahl has repeatedly voted against the development of the Keystone pipeline, which would provide thousands of jobs and enable us to make great strides in becoming independent of the Middle East jihadists.

Why not count the goats and chickens?

I used to live in Elbert County, Colorado. It is a rural county east and south of the one I live in now. People in Elbert county like their animals, and there are a lot of them (animals, not people). Two residents recently pleaded guilty to animal cruelty and were given five years probation.
Upon the initial inspection, deputies saw a dead brown-and-white colored llama on the property. The defendants claimed that they did not know how the llama died.

Soon after seeing the llama, one of the deputies saw a dog running with the lower half of a horse's leg in its mouth. The defendants told law enforcement that the horse's name was Roy and that he had died and been fed to the dogs.

According to deputies, the defendants had the following animals on their property in February 2013: 8 horses; 2 miniature horses; 2 donkeys; 15 full-grown dogs; 7 puppies; 4 cats; 1 potbellied pig; 2 birds (African Grey Parrot and a Cockatoo); numerous goats; and numerous poultry.

Most of the horses were underweight and no food or water could be found for any of the equine.
Two goats had to be euthanized due to a broken leg and a large gaping wound on the shoulder or elbow.
Two dead kittens found in plastic bags in a freezer.

Authorities said seven new puppies were acquired since the defendants were on probation, violating one of the conditions of the probation. Inside the house were 15 full-grown dogs, six full-size cats, four kittens, five puppies. A puppy and a kitten had to be immediately removed for appearing sick and dehydrated.

In addition to the probation, O'Rourke and St. Antoine were sentenced 90 days in-home detention, a $1,000 fine each, plus restitution totaling around $2,000.

Prosecutors said the couple must also complete all of probation's mental health evaluations successfully. They cannot have more than three dogs, three cats, six birds for 18 months up to the full five years, and must comply with that portion in 21 days.

Additionally, they must spay and neuter all remaining animals.

Ya think?

The Boulder County District Attorney is trying to decide whether to file some kind of charges against the residents of this home. 44 cats, one wild rabbit, and 5 dogs have been removed from the house by police in Longmont, Colorado. Many of the animals were in poor health.

The stench from one room an animal control officer was entering "knocked her back it was so bad," the affidavit said.
Read more here.

How would you like to be this mom?

She is Arlene Holmes, mother of the man who shot and killed people in the 2012 Aurora theater massacre. The photo was taken July 22, 2014. by RJ Sangosti, The Denver Post, as she came to yet another hearing. The judge denied another request by the defense for a delay. The trial will begin in December, with jury selection.

There is to be a second psychiatric evaluation of James Homes, because the judge ruled that the first one was "deficient." The psychiatrist who is going to do the second evaluation wants it to be videotaped, so he won't have to spend half his time scribbling notes, and the flow of the interview will be much better. Seems like a fair request to me. The judge has yet to rule on the request.
Read more here.

"He was not ever standing Pat"

It is a really sad day for many here in Colorado. Pat Bowlen, who has owned the team for thirty years, has stepped down. His wife announced that he has Alzheimers. Woody Paige writes a beautiful tribute to him today, and gives us this information:
In 2011, Bowlen turned most of the day-to-day business leadership to trusted longtime lieutenant Joe Ellis and the football operation to Elway. But Bowlen always has reported first thing each morning to Dove Valley and met with both Ellis and Elway. And no decisions, from the Manning signing, to the Tim Tebow trade, to the $100 million spending sprees for free agents, were made without Bowlen's approval.
Only Woody Paige could write a tribute like this one.

"A prize to terror"

The Wall Street Journal reports:
The U.S. barred flights to Israel's main international airport outside Tel Aviv for at least 24 hours after a rocket from Gaza landed nearby, prompting Israel to angrily brand the ban a boon to Hamas's efforts to isolate the country.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appealed to Secretary of State John Kerry to restore flights as the U.S. diplomat was in Cairo trying to broker a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, the Islamist group that rules Gaza.

"There is no reason for these companies to stop flights," Israeli Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz said. "They have given a prize to terror."
Read more here.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

What are the chances?

Please don't try any of this

Remember when the left mocked "Star Wars?"

Remember in the 1980s when the left ridiculed Ronald Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative, calling it Star Wars? Israel's Iron Dome has certainly vindicated Reagan's vision.
Three decades after Reagan's landmark proposal, the technical issue is moot. This week, the world has watched Israel's Iron Dome system -- partially funded by the U.S. and incorporating U.S. technology -- perform remarkably well against more than 1,000 Hamas rockets fired from the Gaza Strip. When rockets are launched, Iron Dome calculates almost instantly whether they are headed for populated areas, then intercepts them as needed. The Israeli military says Iron Dome has been 87 to 90 percent effective and is the key reason why there's been only one Israeli civilian fatality.
Please read more here.

Why she is no longer a leftist

Danusha V. Goska used to be a leftist. She goes into some detail here in listing and explaining ten reasons she no longer is a leftist.

If there is no God, why is there so much good?

Ann Voskamp reminds us that the philosopher Augustine asked two questions:
“If there is no God, why is there so much good?

If there is a God, why is there so much evil?”
Ann points out that we have spent far more effort trying to answer the latter question, while neglecting the first. Read more here.

Man-made or from natural sources?

A paper published July 17 in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics finds that
only about 3.75% [15 ppm] of the CO2 in the lower atmosphere is man-made from the burning of fossil fuels, and thus, the vast remainder of the 400 ppm atmospheric CO2 is from land-use changes and natural sources such as ocean outgassing and plant respiration.

if use of fossil-fuels has contributed such a small part of total atmospheric CO2 levels, restricting use of fossil fuels will have little effect upon CO2 levels.
Read more here.

Clinton, Inc


Victor Davis Hanson writes:
Barack Obama’s team recently took credit for improving the “tranquility of the global community,” and the president made it clear just what a calm place the world has become during his tenure.

But this summer Obama’s tranquil world [1] has descended into medieval barbarism in a way scarcely seen in decades. In Gaza, Hamas is banking its missile arsenal in mosques, schools and private homes; even Hitler did not do that with his V2s. Hamas terrorists resort to trying to wire up animals [2] to serve as suicide bombers. Aztec-style, they seek to capture Israeli soldiers to torture or trade — a sort of updated version of parading captive soldiers up the Templo Mayor [3] in Tenochtitlan.

Hanson goes on to chronicle here what is happening in Ukraine, Iraq, Iran, our southern border, and other places that really do not seem tranquil at all.

Indulgences paid in full

Victor Davis Hanson writes about the cool hipsters of Silicon Valley:
If Silicon Valley produced gas and oil, built bulldozers, processed logs, mined bauxite, or grew potatoes, then the administration, academia, Hollywood, and the press would damn its white-male exclusivity, patronization of women, huge material appetites, lack of commitment to racial diversity, concern for ever-greater profits, and seeming indifference to the poor. But they do not, because the denizens of the valley have paid for their indulgences and therefore are free to sin as they please, convinced that their future days in Purgatory can be reduced by a few correct words about Solyndra, Barack Obama, and the war on women.

Practicing cutthroat capitalism while professing cool communitarianism should be a paradox. But in Silicon Valley it is simply smart business. The more money you make, any way you can make it, the more you can find ways of contextualizing it. At first these Silicon Valley contradictions were amusing, then they were grating, and now they are mostly just pathetic.
Read the details here.

What it's like to be in the Secret Service detail for one of the Clintons

Ronald Kessler is the man who broke the story that Secret Service agents protecting President Obama in Cartagena, Colombia, hired prostitutes, and put the president in jeopardy. Kessler has a new book coming out on August 5 entitled The first Family Detail. In it Kessler writes that Bill Clinton has a new mistress that the Secret Service has given the code name Energizer. When Hillary leaves the house, the Energizer arrives, sometimes with cookies for the Secret Service agents.

also reports that Hillary’s Secret Service detail informs Bill’s Secret Service detail when the former first lady is coming home, so Bill has time to get Energizer off the property and clean up any evidence.

But once, the warning came late. “The agents had to scramble to get Energizer out of there so there wasn’t some kind of big confrontation.”

Kessler also reveals that Hillary is routinely rude to the agents who are sworn to take a bullet for her.

“Because she is so nasty to agents and hostile to law enforcement officers and military officers in general, agents consider being assigned to her detail a form of punishment,” Kessler wrote.
Read more here.


Monday, July 21, 2014

Dr. Ben Carson wins 2016 Presidential straw poll

The Western Conservative Summit concluded this weekend in Denver. 3,300 people attended. A straw poll was conducted with 660 voters. Ben Carson won the poll, getting 22% of the vote. Ted Cruz came in second with 13%. Sara Palin was third with 12%.

I personally would be thrilled Carson as our candidate, and I also like Cruz and Palin. The very fact that Carson is not someone with a history as a politician appeals to me, as does his delightful personality.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Our populist progressives

Victor Davis Hanson asks:
What does a $200,000 Ivy League education or a graduate degree really get you any more? In the sophisticated world of our political and highly credentialed elites, there are 57 states. Atlantic Coast cities are said to lie along the Gulf of Mexico; after all, they are down there somewhere in the South. The Malvinas become the Maldives — Ma- with an s at the end seems close enough. Corps-men serve in the military (as zombies?). Medgar Evans was a civil-rights icon, but you know whom we mean. President Roosevelt addressed the nation on television after the stock-market crash in 1929 — well, he would have, had he been president then and if only Americans had had televisions in their homes. And how are we to know that what we read from celebrity authors is not just made up or plagiarized, whether a Maureen Dowd column or a Doris Kearns Goodwin book?

It is hard to guess on any given summer weekend which populist progressive family — the Obamas, the Clintons, the Kerrys, the Gores — will be ensconced on what particular Hamptons, Nantucket, or Martha’s Vineyard beach, rubbing shoulders with just the sort of Silicon Valley or Wall Street new zillionaires who during work hours are supposed to be the evil “1 percent” and “fat cats” who need to be forced to pay their “fair share.”

Al Gore, like Trimalchio, does not mutter a word without revealing his ignorance — or hypocrisy. Over the last 15 years, the planet has not heated up, and the science of global warming is not established, which is why the nomenclature had to change from global warming to climate change to climate chaos in order to account for too much bothersome wet, snowy, and cold weather. The reconciler, who became a near-billionaire both hyping global warming and selling medieval-style indulgences as antidotes, now claims those who disagree with him are comparable to fascists and racists. All this comes from a wheeler-dealer who made big money damning fossil fuels only to sell a failing cable station to an anti-Semitic, anti-American fascistic enterprise, fueled by the millions garnered from the vast export of oil and gas from the Arabian peninsula. And to complete Gore’s Trimalchian man-of-the-people profile, he rushed the sale in hopes of beating the new, higher capital-gains taxes that he had been urging for lesser folk — sort of like progressive John Kerry buying and berthing his grand new yacht in Rhode Island to avoid the high excise and sales taxes in his home state of Massachusetts.
Read more here.

The fine art of small talk

I am very lucky in that I get to talk to an average of about 300 people a day at my job. Many are repeats. People invariably ask me how my day is going. I have to honestly admit that I am having a good day, and then I say I hope they are having a good day, too. John Corcoran points that:
if you’re in a grumpy mood, but turn on the warmth while talking to a stranger, you’ll start actually feeling a lot better. Interacting with strangers is a great way to lift your mood.

As Brett and Kate McKay wrote in 2012,
It’s easy to dismiss small talk as idle chit-chat, or superficial or pointless, and claim to only be interested in “real” conversation. But how do you get to the point of having a deeper conversation with someone in the first place? Someone you just met would be weirded out if you just walked up to them and asked, “Why do you think God allows bad things to happen to good people?” Conversation is a ladder, with small talk serving as the first few rungs. You can’t leap-frog up the ladder. That would be like trying to sprint before warming up, or cook a steak without defrosting it, or merge onto a highway without building up speed on the on-ramp, or…well you get the idea.

Small talk is the portal through which every person you will ever meet will enter your life. That’s huge when you ponder it. You never know who you’re going to encounter in a class, at a coffee shop, at the gym, at a wedding; they could be your future business partner or boss, your future best friend or wife. You simply never know when someone you meet will send your life in a new direction. But if you can’t initiate these relationships, your circle of contacts and intimates will never expand past the current roster of friends whose Facebook updates and tweets you can’t take your eyes off of in order to meet the gaze of those sitting right next to you.

How do you kick off a conversation? Communications expert Dr. Carol Fleming offers a three-part process to kick off a conversation: Anchor, Reveal, Encourage (ARE).
Anchor. This is an observation on your “mutual shared reality” that extends the first little thread of connection between you and another person — the lightest of pleasantries about something you’re both seeing or experiencing.

Reveal. Next, disclose something about yourself that is related to the anchor you just threw out.

Encourage. Now you hand off the ball to them by asking a question:

Whether you follow-up with a comment or question, be sure to alternate between the two options. Strike a balance: too many questions fired one right after the other will make the conversation feel more like an interrogation, and too many comments won’t give the other person a chance to talk. That’s no good, as your interest in what they have to say is what endears you to them.

Compliment. A good way to kick off some small talk is to tie a compliment and a question together. When complimenting a woman, stick with a behavior, accomplishment, or article of clothing rather than a body part.

It’s true what Dale Carnegie said: “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years trying to get other people interested in you.”

Technology has created an interesting phenomenon in which people increasingly crave real face-to-face connection, while at the same time becoming less equipped to facilitate it.

The only way to get better at small talk is to practice.
Read more here.

US Marine Corp commandant speaks out critically of Obama and the Pentagon

The Commandant of the United States Marine Corp, General James Amos, did something very unusual this week: he spoke out critically against policy decisions of the President of the United States Barack Obama.

Reporting for The Fiscal Times, David Francis observes that “It’s highly unusual for a high-ranking soldier, let alone a high-ranking Marine, to publicly question White House and Pentagon policy. Yet that’s exactly what four-star Gen. James Amos, Commandant of the Marine Corps, did yesterday in Washington.”

Speaking at the Brookings Institute, Amos criticized the Obama administration for:

1. Paving the way for the emergence of the Islamic State of Syria and Iraq (ISIS) by completely withdrawing American troops in 2011. Amos said: “I have a hard time believing that had we been there, and worked with the government, and worked with parliament, and worked with the minister of defense, the minister of interior, I don’t think we’d be in the same shape we’re in today.”

2. Failing to live up to U.S. obligations around the world. Amos said: “We may think we’re done with all of these nasty, thorny, tacky little things that are going on around the world — and I’d argue that if you’re in that nation, it’s not a tacky, little thing for you. We may think we’re done with them, but they’re not done with us. We’re probably the only country in the world that has the resources and the capability to be able to do some of this that others can’t.”

3. Forfeiting gains made in Iraq and Afghanistan for which U.S. troops had fought and sacrificed. Referring to the fall of the Anbar province in Iraq, which Marines won in 2010 and in whhich 852 Marines were killed and naother 8,500 injured, Amos said “It breaks our hearts. They believed that they’d made a difference.”
Read more here.

Predicting trouble for Democrats this fall

Ross Kaminsky predicts
it is the criticism by Hispanics and African-Americans of President Obama's response to the tsunami of adult and pint-sized illegal immigrants which suggests the political catastrophe that these events will unleash on Democrats during elections barely three months away.

Democrats will inject race — rarely an effective issue in non-presidential election years — into the 2014 debate because they believe they have no choice. But an intended clarion call for Democrats and independents to support an inclusive party and president will now be muffled: It is difficult to paint the GOP as hating "black and brown" people when both so publicly criticize Obama as abandoning them in favor of illegal immigrants.

Immigration itself is similarly dead as a political cudgel for Democrats. Instead, Republican claims that the president cannot be trusted to enforce the border and is therefore not a credible partner in negotiating immigration reform (in which the GOP would demand a more secure border) suddenly seem like sound reasoning.

With a desperate need to change the subject from the border fiasco and every other mess of Barack Obama's making, look for panicky Democrats — including Colorado's own Sen. Mark Udall — to double down on their dishonest claims about Republican views of America's wives, mothers, sisters and daughters.

After all, when you can't talk about what you have done, all that's left is to lie about the other guys.
Read more here.

Home education: a bright star in America's future

When a family of home educated kids comes into the store where I work, I can usually tell that they are homeschooled. The kids are not whiney and demanding. They seem contented. They help mom load the groceries into the cart. They are polite.

Kevin Swanson writes:
While the cost of education in the United States has increased and academic performance has fallen, a bright star shines over America's academic landscape: home education.

While government schools spend an average of $5,325 per student per year to attain a 50th percentile performance ranking among the states, $1.5 million home-schooled children cost U.S. families only about $400 per student annually, to achieve test scores averaging 25 percent higher at the 75th percentile.

A large research study completed last year found that the average eighth grade homeschooled student performs four grade levels above the national average.

A major factor in this achievement is intense parental involvement - a known key to exceptional academic performance.

Cutting-edge technologies like CDROM, interactive video, satellite feeds, and on-line tutoring are bringing the best teaching tools and methods right into the home, increasing parental options exponentially. Home education may be a tried and true historical method of teaching, but it is now the wave of the future. Our top universities are actively recruiting home-educated students because of their love of learning and mature study habits.

A third advantage to home education is the opportunity to maximize the individuality of each child. As government education becomes increasingly centralized and bureaucratized, the inevitable result becomes a one-size-fits-all curriculum and classroom structure. Conversely, just as the small business can be more responsive to consumer needs, the home school can be incredibly flexible and adaptable to meet the needs of each child. Every individual child has his or her learning style, interests and abilities. With the individual attention provided by a home education, each student's curriculum can be tailored to help him reach his fullest potential. There need not be any common denominator to which all students are reduced.

The predominant view of modern education places man as supreme over his own destiny, with a relative and changing set of ethics. For many families this undermines a strong faith in God. For them, home education provides the opportunity to pass on their family's faith and values to the next generation.

Home education is setting the new standards for academic achievement, character development, social skills, creativity, family, and responsible citizenship. The true impact of home education on our country's social, business, and political institutions will only be felt 20 years from now. Home education is definitely a bright star in America's future!
Read more here.

Grade inflation

Are your kids knocking down As and Bs? You might want to hold off for a minute on your celebration. Dick Hilker writes that there doesn't seem to be a direct correlation between grades and scores on standardized tests. Remember, our educators want kiddies to feel good about themselves. Here are some of the troubling signs:
For one, letter grades are generally higher than results of state test scores. For another, there is the issue of remedial classes.

According to the 2013 study, 37 percent of all Colorado grads enrolling in state colleges and universities were required at some point to take remedial classes. In other words, they were not "college-ready." (On the positive side, that number is down from 40 percent the year before.)

Last year, students enrolled at our state colleges and universities spent $56 million on remedial classes, courses for which they received no credit.

Perhaps more conclusive are in-depth studies conducted a decade ago by the two companies that administer tests for college entrance, ACT and SAT. Both showed a growing discrepancy between their test scores and the letter grades awarded.

The ACT people claim that overall, grades were inflated 12.5 percent between 1991 and 2003. If that trend has continued, many grades handed out today would be a full point higher than they should be.
Read more here.

An enthusiasm for the allocating of blame

Patty Limerick lists a few of the problems few, if any of us, are trying to solve in America today:
1. An incomplete recovery from the recession.

2. Difficulties in equitably providing health care.

3. The uncertain state of American power internationally.

4. The stalemated state of deliberation on the nation's energy future.

5. The population's inclination to obesity.

6. The fracturing of a national sense of common ground and shared affiliation by digital media.

7. Drought in the West.

8. The inability to identify, foster and consistently reward the qualities that make teachers effective.

9. The lag in maintenance and repair of the nation's infrastructure.

10. The crisis of immigrant children flocking to the border.

Try this line of thought: Let's say you go to work in the morning and you encounter a problem. You could spend the day thinking carefully, systematically and accurately about this problem, and then moving on, by mid-afternoon, to a resolution and remedy. Instead, you choose to devote the whole day to looking for a co-worker to blame and preparing statements of condemnation to heap on the successful candidate.

Would you feel, at the end of that day, that you had invested your time and effort productively? Even if you felt satisfaction and pride in a day well spent, would any of your co-workers agree?

And yet this batty way of taking on a problem is embraced widely in civic life today. Our leaders and many of our citizens are showing such an enthusiasm for the allocating of blame that they do not have an ounce of energy left over for actual problem-solving.
Read more here.

Information about cigarettes

Rick Tosches writes today:
Cigarettes cause 480,000 deaths each year in the U.S. Ten times more Americans have died from cigarettes than have died in all the wars fought by the U.S. in its history. Smoking causes more deaths each year than HIV, illegal drug use, alcohol use, car crashes and gunfire. Combined.

Smoking, as we were told in 1964, causes lung cancer, heart disease, stroke and emphysema, to name the biggies.

Cigarettes contain more than 7,000 chemicals, including formaldehyde, which is used to embalm the dead. It also contains cadmium (used to make batteries), arsenic, carbon monoxide (car exhaust), hydrogen cyanide, ammonia, butane and toluene (also found in paint thinner.)
Read more here.

Happy tourists

Vincent Carroll give us some information about the sales of marijuana in Colorado in today's Denver Post. Most of the buyers are tourists and visitors from out of state.
It's not just that 90 percent of retail sales of marijuana in mountain resorts so far have been to out-of-staters, as well as almost half of all such retail sales in the state and 44 percent of those sales in the Denver metro area.

Most of the heavy users are sticking with medical pot.
Many of Colorado's heaviest marijuana users, meanwhile, appear to be quite happy sticking with medical pot, which they were able to obtain long before Amendment 64.

Medical pot is cheaper (7.62 percent sales tax in Denver as opposed to 21.12 percent at retail outlets) and more widely available. And while it requires a doctor's permission, that has been notoriously easy to secure.

Heavy users — those who consume marijuana every day — "drive almost 70 percent of total marijuana demand," the Department of Revenue study says. No wonder medical marijuana sales dwarfed retail sales in the first four months of this year — $133 million vs. $70 million — while tax revenues from retail pot are lagging far behind projections.

Price and availability may not be the only reasons for medical marijuana's unexpected resilience, either. The fact that medical and retail pot establishments are allowed to co-locate on the same premises — in apparent violation of Amendment 64 — no doubt has propped up medical sales, too.

It's all but forgotten now, but the amendment passed in 2012 said, "Nothing in this section shall be construed to permit any medical marijuana center ... to operate on the same premises as a retail marijuana store."

And yet thanks to the legislature's decision to flout the constitution, co-location is actually the norm.

The governor's task force on Amendment 64 last year recommended "complete" physical separation between the two types of stores, but lawmakers approved rules saying medical and retail shops could share the same space so long as there were no sales of medical marijuana to patients under 21.

The result in Denver, according to the city's executive director of marijuana policy, Ashley Kilroy, is that 85 of the city's 90 retail stores sell both medical and retail pot, and just 21 have separate entrances and facilities.

Given this state of affairs, dreams of a tax bonanza from retail marijuana may have to be put on hold. Heavy users drive marijuana sales and they have a strong incentive to use cheaper medical marijuana. And marijuana store owners have no incentive to convert solely to retail sales given the convenience of operating both types of outlets.

But at least we've made the tourists happy with our new retail shops.
Read more here.

Will they get revenge?

Denver Broncos mania is beginning to build momentum here in Colorado. They report to camp Thursday. On August 7 they play their first preseason game in Denver against a team called the Seattle Seahawks. They play the Seahawks again in September in Seattle, and perhaps for a third time in Glendale, Arizona early in 2015.

"Tea Party of the Left"

Well, what do you know? Earlier today in a blog post I asked if anyone has ever seen a story about "the left" in a major U.S. newspaper. Today there is one in the Denver Post by Lynn Bartels, the Post's best political reporter. She writes that the "Tea Party of the left" is waging a ferocious battle against fracking in Colorado. The left has several issues they are trying to place on the November ballot.
The ballot measures — dealing with setbacks, local control and other issues related to drilling and fracking — are bankrolled by U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, a Boulder Democrat who used his vast wealth in 2004 to help turn Colorado blue. Now there are fears his money could turn the state red, with the ballot measures hampering Hickenlooper and Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Udall in their tough re-election bids.
Read more here.

I have another friend, otherwise intelligent, who is absolutely convinced by the arguments of the anti-fracking leftists.

On the menu

The Denver Post has a big headline today that says: Palin's jabs fire up the right. When was there a time when you read in any major newspaper in America about the left? One of my colleagues at work this week, out of the blue, ridiculed Sarah Palin. The media really did a number on Palin in 2008, convincing even intelligent t.v. watchers that Palin is a dolt.

Yesterday Palin addressed something called The Western Conservative Summit in Denver. Lynn Bartels reports in the Post:
Former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin ripped President Obama on Saturday, saying in order to "save the Republic" Americans must "have the guts to talk about impeachment."

Read more here.

Christians flee in Iraq

Alissa J. Rubin reports in the New York Times:
BAGHDAD — By 1 p.m. on Friday almost every Christian in Mosul had heard the Sunni militants’ message — they had until noon Saturday to leave the city.

Interviews on Friday with Christian elders and leaders suggest that in fact many had hung on, hoping for an accommodation, a way to continue the quiet practice of their faith in the city that had been their home for more than 1,700 years.

A YouTube video shows ISIS taking sledgehammers to the tomb of Jonah, something that was also confirmed by Mr. Hikmat. The militants also removed the cross from St. Ephrem’s Cathedral, the seat of the Syriac Orthodox archdiocese in Mosul, and put up the black ISIS flag in its place. They also destroyed a statue of the Virgin Mary, according to Ghazwan Ilyas, the head of the Chaldean Culture Society in Mosul, who spoke by telephone on Thursday from Mosul but seemed to have left on Friday.
Please read more here.

Where is the father?

Here is why we do need child protection services:
A 7-year-old boy was nearly starved to death, suffered regular beatings and resorted to catching insects to eat during brief times he was allowed outside, police said in charging his mother and grandparents with assault and other offenses

Child welfare workers, responding to a complaint, found the child looking like a human skeleton in home in Greenville, in western Pennsylvania, last month, The Sharon Herald reported ( Saturday.

The mother, 28-year-old Mary C. Rader, and the grandparents who lived with them, Dennis C. Beighley, 58, and Deana Beighley, 47, were charged with assault, unlawful restraint of a minor, false imprisonment, endangering a child's welfare and conspiracy.

The boy weighed 25 pounds when taken to a hospital last month and has since gained 20 pounds, authorities said.

"The most important medicine used to treat him at the hospital was food. He was within a month of having a major cardiac event that he probably would not have recovered from," said Dr. Jennifer Wolford of UPMC Children's Hospital Child Advocacy Center.

They targeted the boys:
"It is impossible to me that this severe neglect and active abuse was not visible. He was being starved in his own home around others of normal weight," she stated.

The boy's two sisters, ages 4 and 11, appeared healthy, while a 9-year-old brother was underweight but not as severely as the 7-year-old.

According to police, Rader decided to homeschool the 7-year-old last year, and he was not allowed outside the house except to the back porch, where he would sometimes eat the bugs he caught. He was fed small amounts of tuna and eggs and suffered beatings with a belt — particularly when he sneaked food, usually peanut butter and bread, police said.

He was forced to take ice-cold showers as punishment — the only showers he was allowed — and had two abscessed teeth that had to be removed, police said.
Read more here.

All the major t.v. media has covered this story, but NONE of them asks about the father. Father? Who needs a father in the enlightened 21st century?

Counting down

What's the deal with Casey Kasem? Somebody seeing dollar signs? From Wikipedia:
On June 6, 2014, Kasem was reported to be in critical but stable condition at a hospital in Washington state, receiving antibiotics for bedsores and treatment for high blood pressure. It was revealed that he had been bedridden for some time.[51] A judge ordered separate visitation times due to antagonism between Jean Kasem and his children from his first wife.[52] Judge Daniel S. Murphy ruled that Kasem had to be hydrated, fed, and medicated as a court-appointed lawyer reported on his health status. Jean Kasem claimed that he had been given no food, water, or medication the previous weekend. Kerri Kasem's lawyer stated that she had him removed from artificial food and water on the orders of a doctor and in accordance with a directive her father signed in 2007 saying he would not want to be kept alive if it "would result in a mere biological existence, devoid of cognitive function, with no reasonable hope for normal functioning."[42] Murphy reversed his order the following Monday, after it became known that Kasem's body was no longer responding to the artificial nutrition, allowing the family to place Kasem on "end-of-life" measures over the objections of Jean Kasem.[53]

On June 15, 2014, Kasem died at St. Anthony's Hospital in Gig Harbor, Washington at the age of 82.[10][54][55] He was survived by his wife, four children, and four grandchildren.[56] Casey's body was handed over to widow Jean, who would be making funeral arrangements.[57] Casey wanted to be buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Los Angeles.[58]

Kerri stated that Jean sent a letter to the lawyer responsible for Casey's will that Jean intended to be "coming after" the irrevocable trust Casey established for his children in the 1980s.[58]

On July 19, it was reported that a judge had granted Kasem's daughter Kerri a temporary restraining order to prevent his wife from cremating Kasem's body to allow an autopsy to be performed, but when she went to give a copy of the restraining order to the funeral home, she was informed that they no longer had his remains. It was later revealed that Kasem's wife Jean had filed a death certificate dated July 15 listing an address in Jerusalem, Israel.[59]
Read more here.

Dangers of too much caffeine

Amazon is offering two day free shipping on caffeine powder. It must know what is obvious: teens and many adults are easily addicted to caffeine. Instead of getting enough sleep at night and keeping themselves in good shape, many people just rely on caffeine to give them "energy." You want an investment that will pay off big? Invest in the companies that make Red Bull or Monster!

The young man in the photo above was in excellent physical shape. But he apparently wanted that caffeine boost, and it cost him his life.
This Jan. 16, 2014, photo shows Keystone High School wrestler Logan Stiner during a match in Sheffield Village, Ohio. The Food and Drug Administration is warning consumers to avoid pure powdered caffeine sold on the Internet after Stiner died after consuming it. Even a teaspoon of the powder could be lethal — it is equivalent to 25 cups of coffee. (AP Photo/Steve Manheim, The Chronicle Telegram)

Read more here.


You would think this might hurt their bottom line:
PENSACOLA, Fla. -- A Florida jury has returned one of the largest verdicts ever against a tobacco company.

The jury in the case Cynthia Robinson v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company sided Friday night with Robinson, the widow of a longtime smoker who died of lung cancer in 1996, to award her more than $16 million in compensatory damages and $23 billion in punitive damages.

Following a nearly four-week trial, the jury deliberated for 15 hours to eventually determine that the tobacco company was negligent in informing Robinson's husband, Michael Johnson Sr., that smoking causes lung cancer and that nicotine is highly addictive.

"The environment today is completely different than it was in the '50s and '60s, when Robinson's husband was alive," said Christopher Chestnut, one of the woman's attorneys. Reynolds knew its product was addictive, but it didn't market it correctly. The company lied and marketed cigarettes as safe, yet they contained countless harmful chemicals."

Johnson became addicted to cigarettes and contracted and later died of lung cancer.
Read more here.

Photo: Justin Sullivan, Getty Images)

But wait, there was more news last week about R.J. Reynolds:
As the U.S. cigarette market dips, the nation's second-largest tobacco company, Reynolds American, announced Tuesday that it plans to buy the third-largest one, Lorillard, for about $27.4 billion, creating a rival for market leader and Marlboro maker Altria.

Reynolds, maker of Camel and Pall Mall, will acquire Lorillard, maker of Newport, for cash and stock valued at $68.88 per Lorillard share. The deal, which includes assumption of Lorillard debt, is one of the largest ever in the tobacco industry and will likely face scrutiny from regulators.
Read more fascinating details here.