Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Israel taking steps to prepare for a military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities

Ari Yashar reports in Israel National News,
As world powers and Iran reach a deadline Tuesday - which may be extended - for talks on the Islamic regime's nuclear program, Israel is taking steps to prepare for a military strike on Tehran's nuclear facilities so as to defend itself from the impending threat.

Iran has refused to allow inspections of its covert nuclear sites and declared it will use advanced centrifuges as soon as a deal is met, meaning the leading state sponsor of terrorism could potentially obtain a nuclear arsenal within weeks, all while getting billions of dollars in sanctions relief through a nuclear deal.

...it is estimated that Israel is considering the signing of a deal to be a game changer which would require a serious reevaluation of the regional situation, and likely necessitate military action against Iran.

...For over 15 years the IDF has been examining the possibility of military action against Iran's ever burgeoning nuclear program, and the majority of the funding for such preparedness has gone to the Israeli Air Force (IAF) and the IDF's intelligence branch.

...Indicating Israel's growing preparedness ahead of a potential military clash with Iran, the IAF held a special drill with the Greek air force two months ago, in which roughly 100 members of the IAF took part including dozens of crews from all the F-16i squadrons.

The unusual drill had IAF pilots operating in unfamiliar territory for a night and the following day, and included simulations of strikes and dogfights involving dozens of fighter jets.

Most importantly, in the drill the Greek army reportedly deployed advanced anti-missile defense systems similar to the Russian S-300 that Moscow sold to Iran and has yet to ship. The advanced S-300 system is considered to be a major challenge in carrying out an airstrike in that it can shoot down rockets as well as jets.
Read more here.

Are you the rock she wants to cling to?

Dalrock has some advice for men whose marriage is suffering. He recommends men
regain balance between comfort and attraction.

The good news is you don’t have to become a romance novel hero, you just have to become her hero.

Hopefully you can look back on a time in your relationship with your wife when you could tell she was attracted to you. This might have been during your courtship, or perhaps more recently.

For your own comfort while you learn more you probably want to start off slowly here. Start making more decisions without seeking your wife’s approval. Learn not to be timid or afraid of her moods and reactions. Always remember that she wants you to be her rock, and you can’t be her rock if you are matching the whims of her emotions. Instead of timidly hugging her, playfully grab her around the waist and pull her into you so she can enjoy your strength. Stand tall. In your mind remember that you are a strong and worthy man, and keep that frame as you do these things.

More difficult but also essential is to respond when she challenges you. Be prepared for her to subconsciously test you to see if you really are cut out to lead the family. Is he the real deal, or a faker? Going back to the example of the romance novel, very often the fantasy involves the man taming the woman. This is also a common theme in literature, with Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew being just one example. While the taming is often dramatic and overt in literature, what you will want to do is much more subtle. You aren’t looking to break her spirit, but to show your own strength of spirit and conviction and in doing so show her that you are the man she can depend on, the rock she wants to cling to.

...Men are taught repeatedly that what women want are gestures of investment, commitment, and love. Give her flowers, buy her an expensive dinner, write her a love letter, etc.

In fact these are things women want, but they don’t want them from just any man. They want them from a man they are attracted to. If you think about women’s fantasies as represented in romance novels, etc. you will see that women don’t fantasize about having a bevy of ordinary men falling over themselves to give her the most thoughtful gift. Women fantasize about winning the heart of the dashing hero, and ultimately having him acknowledge this with tokens of his investment, commitment, and love.
Read more here.

Islamic State now decapitating civilian women

Showing it supports equality, Islamic State is now decapitating women civilians in Syria. For a long time it has been pushing gays off tall buildings, and decapitating journalists, aid workers, and any man it deems to have violated Shariah law. Now it is giving women equal treatment. Read more here.

"Do what you think is best"

Ace of Spades has been enthusiastically supporting Breitbart's Mike Flynn's run for Congress in Illinois. One of Flynn's ideas is to follow the Dutch model of education. Ace writes,
What's the Dutch system? Well, the government gives each parent a check to pay for school, and the parent can use that for any school -- including religious schools. There is no church-state question because the decision is up to the parent. All the state did was cut a check and say "Do what you think is best."

Mike is very fond of referring to this as "the Dutch model" because he knows that the liberal media is overly-smitten of ENLIGHTENED EUROPEAN WAYS OF DOING THINGS. So he always says, "Well, of course, I favor the Dutch model. Obviously, you know?"

Which is Pure School Choice -- the government's role is to deliver a check, and the money follows the student to whatever school his parent wants.
Read more here.

On freedom and quitting smoking

Ace of Spades writes,
I keep saying this, but quitting smoking is the best decision I ever made, apart from eating that rib-eye a half hour ago. I would strongly urge all smokers to kick the habit -- you don't need it, just as a junkie doesn't need his drug, and you will be a better person -- healthier, more present in the moment (not thinking about your next nicotine jones), better at sex (everyone enjoying reduced lung capacity?), and richer.

Your life will become better almost immediately-- within, I'd say, about four days. Sure, three days of (some mild) withdrawal, and then just every day better and better for the rest of your (longer) life.

And I'll do what I can to help you.

But the way to persuade people is to actually persuade them.

Not to bully them.

Ace links to a piece in the Washington Free Beacon by Elizabeth Harrington, who reports,
New Yorkers may soon not be able to smoke in their own homes, if Democratic New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio gets his way.

The New York Post reported on de Blasio’s new initiative to partner with health groups that will “pressure landlords” into banning smoking in apartment buildings.

“That means smokers would be barred from lighting up in one of their last sanctuaries: their own living quarters,” the paper said. “Smoking is already banned in public places, including bars and restaurants, workplaces, sports venues, and parks.”

Ace continues,
DiBlasio begins with a truth -- smoking is bad -- and then turns it into a lie by not recognizing the most important truth of all:

A free people is only free if it is permitted to do the WRONG thing, as well as the right thing.
Read more here.

We were made for heaven and Him

Today Ann Voskamp reminds us that
In Christ, you’re a native of heaven right now. You aren’t a citizen of here trying to work into heaven. You’re a citizen of heaven trying to work through here.

...When your ethnicity is heaven, then all adversity offers the gift of intimacy, driving you into the home of His heart.

...We were made for heaven and Him, and our heart beats hard for it.

...In Christ — no matter the road, the storm, the story — we always know the outcome.

Our Savior: surrounds.
Our future: secure.
Our joy: certain.

All I have is what I believe and the living of it and His promises are enough.

There isn’t a loss on earth that can ever rob us of the riches our Lord has saved us for in Him.

What happens when things go wrong?

Today Seth Godin asks,
What happens when things go wrong?

Service resilience is too often overlooked. Most organizations don't even have a name for it, don't measure it, don't plan for it.

I totally understand our focus on putting on a perfect show, on delighting people, on shipping an experience that's wonderful.

But how do you and your organization respond/react when something doesn't go right?

Because that's when everyone is paying attention.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Which humans shall we select to be good role models for AI?

Patrick Sawer writes at The Telegraph that
Dr Stuart Armstrong, of the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford University, has predicted a future where machines run by artificial intelligence become so indispensable in human lives they eventually make us redundant and take over. "We are almost at the point of generating an AI that is as intelligent as humans."

Indeed, Dr Armstrong warns that the seemingly benign instruction to an AGI to "prevent human suffering", could logically be interpreted by a super computer as "kill all humans", thereby ending suffering all together.

Furthermore, an instruction such as "keep humans safe and happy", could be translated by the remorseless digital logic of a machine as "entomb everyone in concrete coffins on heroin drips".

While that may sound far fetched, Dr Armstrong says the risk is not so low that it can be ignored.

"There is a risk of this kind of pernicious behaviour by a AI," he said, pointing out that the nuances of human language make it all too easily liable to misinterpretation by a computer. "You can give AI controls, and it will be under the controls it was given. But these may not be the controls that were meant."

Dr Armstrong, who was speaking at a debate on artificial intelligence organised in London by the technology research firm Gartner, warns that it will be difficult to tell whether a machine is developing in a benign or deadly direction.

He says an AI would always appear to act in a way that was beneficial to humanity, making itself useful and indispensable - much like the iPhone's Siri, which answers questions and performs simple organisational tasks - until the moment it could logically take over all functions.

"Plans for safe AI must be developed before the first dangerous AI is created," he writes in his book Smarter Than Us: The Rise of Machine Intelligence. "The software industry is worth many billions of dollars, and much effort is being devoted to new AI technologies. "Plans to slow down this rate of development seem unrealistic. So we have to race toward the distant destination of safe AI and get there fast, outrunning the progress of the computer industry."

One solution to the dangers of untrammelled AI suggested by industry experts and researchers is to teach super computers a moral code.

Unfortunately, Dr Armstrong points out, mankind has spent thousands of years debating morality and ethical behaviour without coming up with a simple set of instructions applicable in all circumstances which it can follow.

Imagine then, the difficulty in teaching a machine to make subtle distinctions between right and wrong.

"Humans are very hard to learn moral behaviour from," he says. "They would make very bad role models for AIs."
Read more here.

Anything is possible

Thanks to Chateau Heartiste, who writes,
Good satire pushes the envelope and flirts with absurdity. What happens when all the envelopes have been pushed over a cliff and the absurd becomes the new normal, enforced just like healthy social norms of yore? We’re about to find out! Satirists are standing by… wondering if their craft has been rendered superfluous.
Read more here.

A different moral norm

Meredith May writes in SFGate about
"San Francisco relationships."

A term coined by the local gay community, it's defined as two men in a long-term open relationship, with lovers on the side.

A new study released this week by the Center for Research on Gender & Sexuality at San Francisco State University put statistics around what gay men already know: Many Bay Area boyfriends negotiate open relationships that allow for sex with outsiders.

...HIV infection is on the rise among male couples.

Colleen Hoff studied 566 gay couples in the San Francisco Bay area for three years.
In her study of gay couples, 47 percent reported open relationships. Forty-five percent were monogamous, and the remaining 8 percent disagreed about what they were.

Lanz Lowen and Blake Spears of Oakland, who have maintained a non-monogamous relationship for 35 years, funded their own couples study ( www.thecouplesstudy.com) to learn how others navigated intimacy with outsiders. Over the past four years, they interviewed 86 couples with at least eight years together in open relationships

...Three out of 4 people described non-monogamy as a positive thing, and said it gave them a sexual outlet without having to lie. Participants reported it helped relationships survive by providing honest options and minimizing deceit, tension and resentment. Some "played" independently, others as a threesome, and about 80 percent agreed to tell all or some details of their encounters, the rest preferring a "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

Chateau Heartiste asserts that
The importation of a moral norm like the one above surrounding gay long-term relationships would destroy the institution of marriage for heterosexuals who wish to pursue a long-term mating strategy.

Chateau Heartiste adds,
The importation of a moral norm like the one above surrounding gay long-term relationships would destroy the institution of marriage for heterosexuals who wish to pursue a long-term mating strategy.The feminist goal is removing all constraints on female sexuality while maximally restricting male sexuality.

More evidence of different moral norms surrounding homosexual relationships:
see “In his book, The Soul Beneath the Skin, David Nimmons cites numerous studies which show that 75% of gay male couples are in successful open relationships.”

...But how on earth could gay marriage equality import different moral norms into the concept of marriage for heterosexuals you might say? Well, it’s very simple. Through the Courts. Remember, in our society, marriage is a legal construct.

...Anyhow, the bottom line is that all this “mass equalization” that is currently running riot over the West will eventually, (and as the evidence begins to demonstrate much sooner rather than later), corrode and ultimately destroy the very values, moral codes, and even behaviors that were responsible for the West’s rise as a civilization and shining city on the hill.
Read more here.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Stand by your manhood?

Peter Lloyd writes in The Daily Mail about his new book Stand by Your Manhood that
argues that the triumph of feminism has meant men are now second-class citizens.

According to the Office for National Statistics, marriage in Britain is at its lowest level since 1895. In 2011, there were just 286,634 ceremonies — a 41 per cent free fall from 1972, when 480,285 couples tied the knot.

For an army of women, Mr Right is simply not there, no matter how hard they look for him. And the reason? When it comes to marriage, men are on strike.

Why? Because the rewards are far less than they used to be, while the cost and dangers it presents are far greater.

‘Ultimately, men know there’s a good chance they’ll lose their friends, their respect, their space, their sex life, their money and — if it all goes wrong — their family,’ says Dr Helen Smith, author of Why Men Are Boycotting Marriage, Fatherhood And The American Dream.

‘They don’t want to enter into a legal contract with someone who could effectively take half their savings, pension and property when the honeymoon period is over.

‘Men aren’t wimping out by staying unmarried or being commitment phobes. They’re being smart.’

Human differences

Do you believe
human differences are a product of genes, culture, and gene-culture interaction?

...We are living under an ideology that claims to be an anti-ideology while demanding the sort of conformity normally found in totalitarian societies.
So writes Peter Frost in the Unz Review.

An unsettling juxtaposition

About the juxtapositon of the Supreme Court's decision on gay marriage with the beheading of sun-bathing tourists in Tunsia last week, Mark Steyn writes,
Two plus two equals five. A severed head plus "Allahu Akbar!" equals "Nothing to do with Islam." Network screenings of Gone With The Wind plus Uncle Ben's rice equals blatant incitement to mass murder. A nice chichi gay couple at 27 Elm Street and a firebreathing imam and his four child brides at 29 Elm Street equals the social harmony of a multiculti utopia.

...Where is this story headed? The warriors of the caliphate divide the planet into the dar al Islam and the dar al harb - the house of war. In reality, it's a struggle between the dar al Islam and the dar al Gay: Liberty in the fin de civilisation west means sexual liberty and nothing else - which is why one consequence of yesterday's decision is that freedom of expression and freedom of religion will increasingly be confined to what Justice Alito called the deepest recesses of your home.

...Yet one particular demographic is ever more aggressively assertive in the name of its religion, even as prime ministers and federal prosecutors deny any such thing. So today, in Oklahoma as in Saint-Quentin-Fallavier, you get up in the morning, go to work, and wind up decapitated. Oh, don't worry, it's a low risk - for the moment. And, unlike with "homophobic" bakers and florists, the implicit threat of violence ensures plenty of preemptive concessions.

...And so the leader of the free world lights the White House LGBT as the tourist corpses are removed from their sunbeds.

Read more here.

The Democratic Party's uniquely appalling record on racism

Mark Steyn asks,
When is the Democratic Party going to apologize for being the biggest slave-holding supporting institution on the planet and sticking with racism for the century after the abolition of slavery?

A goon hiding behind a badge.

So refers Mark Steyn to a prosecutor who is harassing Reason magazine. I don't know if I entirely agree. The prosecutor wanted Reason to provide identifying information on their commenters. There is nothing to force us bloggers to print the comments of anyone who sends comments to us. I very often choose not to print comments, if, in my opinion, they do not add anything to the post they are referencing.

Move to Irvine!

What is the most segregated city in America? Atlanta? Birmingham? No, Chicago!

Read more here.

The sex therapists of Silicon Valley

Tracy Clark-Flory writes in Vocativ,
Tech guys are flocking to experts to learn how to talk to women and fix sexless marriages.
...tech workers are more vulnerable to issues around love and intimacy, according to several local sex therapists I’ve interviewed.
Read more here

Signing on with the mob

Stella Morabito writes in The Federalist,
Mass delusion is an important tool of oppressors because they can’t survive free expression. That’s why the First Amendment’s a target.

...many newly propagandized ideas seem to have taken America by storm just in the past decade or so. Same-sex marriage is only one of those ideas. Transgenderism is now eclipsing that notion, and its propaganda techniques—wrapped in the language of civil rights—are getting Americans on board with the idea of erasing all sex distinctions in law, including their own. It’s as though Americans are buying into a fast-talking sales pitch without being allowed to read the print, whether it’s large print or small.

...There’s more on the horizon: a singles’ rights movement that promises to end legal recognition of all marriage. Then there is transhumanism, which includes a push to end “fleshism” by enacting laws that protect non-biological entities from discrimination.
TED2 anyone?

American conservatives are by and large clueless about propaganda methods and tactics. And it shows. There are virtually no conservative social psychologists around.

Meanwhile, the Left has been employing social psychology and depth psychology on the masses for decades. President Obama’s campaign staff was filled with social psychologists. In this context, those who believe conservatives can subsist on reason and logic alone are kidding themselves. It’s no wonder GOP leaders are caving on so many principles, and being absorbed so easily into the Left’s machine.

A lot of people are scratching their heads today, wondering how life got to be so surreal, so fast in the United States of America. Based on the silencing tactics revealed by the LGBT lobby, many observers are likely now thinking: “Gee, I thought marriage equality was merely a gay rights movement. I didn’t realize that fascism was part of that package.” The Great Unraveling continues at a rapid clip when slipping on a pronoun in these days of transgender rule could cost you your career or earn you massive social media rallies chanting “hater” at you.

Even benign reminders of the First Amendment—embodied in Religious Freedom Restoration Acts—are quickly dispatched by mob hysteria. One day a supposedly principled leader like Indiana Gov. Mike Pence promotes the RFRA, and the next day he folds and essentially signs on with the mob.

There seem to be few independent thinkers left. But even they don’t seem to know what hit them. A woman gets banned by her gym and labelled a bigot because she told management that a man—who she only later learned “identified as female”—entered the locker room while she was getting undressed. Comedians who dare tread into trans territory are shut down. Never before have the media and pop culture dictated in such a draconian manner how each and every one of us is supposed to think about identity. Our own identity.

The list goes on. The unrest and rioting from Ferguson to Baltimore seem to be happening on cue also, with media propaganda that urges it on. There is no real debate on the merits of policies that depend on a blind faith in man-made global warming: those who disagree are labelled “deniers.”

Meanwhile, the power elites who now control the media, academia, and Hollywood seem to understand social psychology well enough to exploit it on a massive scale. They have engaged in psychological warfare against the private mind by inducing “collective belief formation.” There’s really nothing new here. Conditioning and nudging the masses into groupthink is a very old trick of all wannabe dictators. The bloody twentieth century is filled to the gills with examples.

...Yet it feels like we’ve awakened to an ambush.

...Family breakdown led to community breakdown, which we can see in the decline of trust in society. Ignorance was cultivated in the schools through political correctness and squashing free debate. The academy’s disparaging of western civilization virtually wiped out respect for any serious study of history and civics, as well as for the Socratic method and the rules of civil discourse. Political correctness sewed confusion into the language, particularly regarding identity politics. Youth are now set to be programmed for conformity through the K-12 “Common Core” curriculum mandates.

...“Equality” is not the reason for what is happening with such mobs. It is the pretext for what they are doing. Like all such deceptions, its sole purpose is as a vehicle to transfer power from individuals to an increasingly centralized state. The fuel, as usual, is the emotional blackmail of people of goodwill, the uses of mass mobilization to exploit that goodwill, then, finally, to render all such goodwill meaningless.

...With the continued chipping away of the organic family of mother-child-father, human relationships inevitably become diluted and more subservient to a mass state. This detachment cultivates human alienation, which draws more people to answer to the call of the mass state’s mob.

...the First Amendment is not negotiable if we are to have any semblance of freedom in this country.

...We can never fight back as long as we are in the dark about how our minds can be manipulated. So we absolutely must try to fully understand the methods and tactics of mental coercion and share that knowledge with others as much as possible.

Let's drop the charade

Andrew McCarthy writes at National Review,
In saving SCOTUScare, the chief justice not only usurped Congress’s law-writing role with gusto; he claimed the powers, first, to divine legislative purpose from its contradictory expression in legislative language, and, then, to manufacture legislative ambiguity as the pretext for twisting the language to serve the contrived purpose.

Did you notice that there was not an iota of speculation about how the four Progressive justices would vote? There was never a shadow of a doubt. In the plethora of opinions generated by these three cases, there is not a single one authored by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan, or Sonia Sotomayor. There was no need. They are the Left’s voting bloc. There was a better chance that the sun would not rise this morning than that any of them would wander off the reservation.

It is simply accepted that these justices are not there to judge. They are there to vote. They get to the desired outcome the same way disparate-impact voodoo always manages to get to discrimination: Start at the end and work backwards. Guiding precedents are for the quaint business of administering justice. In the social justice business, the road never before traveled will do if one less traveled is unavailable.

That is where we are. We should thus drop the pretense that the Court is a tribunal worthy of the protections our system designed for a non-political entity — life-tenure, insulation from elections, and the veil of secrecy that shrouds judicial deliberations.

If the justices are going to do politics, they should be in electoral politics. If John Roberts is going to write laws on the days when he isn’t posing as powerless to write laws, if Anthony Kennedy truly believes the country craves his eccentric notion of liberty (one that condemns government restraints on marriage 24 hours after it tightens government’s noose around one-sixth of the U.S. economy), then their seats should not be in an insulated third branch of government. They should be in an accountable third chamber of Congress. If, for old times’ sake, we want to maintain some harmless vestige of the charade, then let them keep wearing their robes to work — for at least as long as they can persuade voters to keep them in these jobs. Let’s dispense, though, with the fiction that their judgments are the product of legal acumen rather than sheer will.
Read more here.

Who would pass up such a chance?

Jay Nordlinger also writes at National Review about our Supremes.
Judging is not for everybody. Judging requires a certain neutrality, which can be annoying. It requires fidelity to constitution and law. A judge has a constituency of one: the constitution and law.

P.S. Anyone who thinks that churches won’t be compelled to perform gay marriages is smoking the hash that we have long sought to legalize. There is no opting out of the new America. Get with the program, Gramps.

If you wear the black robe and wield the gavel, you have the powah, baby. And you use your power to do good, as you conceive good. Who would pass up such a chance?
Read more here.

The art of Constitutional torture

Kevin Williamson writes about Ayatollah Roberts and His Sharia Council at National Review.
In the matter of the so-called Affordable Care Act, the Supreme Court ruled that the law must not say what it in fact does say because it would be better if it were not to say what it says and were to say something else instead. In the matter of same-sex marriage, the Supreme Court rules that the law must say what it does not say because it would be better if it were to say what it does not say instead of what it says. Which is to say, the Supreme Court has firmly established that it does not matter what the law says or does not say — what matters is what they want.

That texts may be imaginatively interpreted to any end is not news — “The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose,” as William Shakespeare observed in The Merchant of Venice. The legendary constitutional scholar Barack Obama failed to notice, until the day before yesterday, that the Constitution mandates the legalization of homosexual marriage from sea to shining sea, but, to be fair, that is an easy provision to overlook, even for a mind as keen as Barack Obama’s, since the Constitution does not say one word about marriage, much less about the state-level codification of homosexual couplings being a fundamental federal right.

Constitutional torture is an art, and Chief Justice John Roberts has emerged as its Andy Warhol: an impresario who will put his name on anything.

It is uncomfortable to think about, but our Supreme Court functions in much the same way as Iran’s Guardian Council: It is a supralegislative body of purported scholars, distinguished by ceremonial black robes, that imaginatively applies ancient doctrines “conscious of the present needs and the issues of the day,” as the ayatollahs over there and over here both put it, deciding — discovering! — what is mandatory and what is forbidden as the shifting currents of politics dictate. The main difference is that the Iranians take their sharia rather more seriously than we take our constitutional law: John Roberts’s opinion in Burwell wasn’t just wrong — wrong can be forgiven — it was embarrassing, craven, and intellectually indefensible. Antonin Scalia was right to let him have it with both barrels, but he’d do better to resign from the Supreme Court — it is difficult to see how an honorable man could be associated with it.

...the idea that lurking in the penumbras of our 18th-century Constitution is a fundamental national right to gay marriage is simply preposterous. It is not there. It is a fiction, and, just like the Harry Potter novels, the fact that it is very, very popular does not mean that it is not fiction.

That the chief justice went one way on health care and another on marriage tells us nothing at all about the law or the Constitution: It tells us about John Roberts. And that is the problem. Asked what he thought about Western civilization, Mohandas K. Gandhi supposedly quipped that he thought it would be a good idea. Conservatives, if we’re being honest, might say the same about the rule of law. It would be a good idea, at least an interesting experiment. For the moment, though, there’s only power, the men who have it, and the things they do with it.
Read more here.

How to escape the hell inside your head

Have you ever heard of an author named Matthew Crawford? Ian Tuttle interviewed Crawford in the current issue of National Review. Tuttle writes,
‘We are living through a crisis of attention,” writes Matthew Crawford in his new book The World Beyond Your Head. If that sounds like the beginning of a diatribe against Twitter, it’s not. What Crawford — the philosopher-turned-motorcycle repairman whose 2010 Shop Class as Soulcraft surely counts as one of the most unlikely bestsellers in recent years — has produced is something far richer. Tracing the philosophical roots of our fractured mental lives to the Enlightenment and the modern liberal project, Crawford suggests that our very ability to become individuals is under threat — and likewise the possibility for genuine human flourishing. The World Beyond Your Head is a work of philosophy, and of urgency. Pay attention.

Crawford asserts,
Only by excluding all the things that grab at our attention are we able to immerse ourselves in something worthwhile, and vice versa: When you become absorbed in something that is intrinsically interesting, that burden of self-regulation is greatly reduced.

Our attraction to excellence — our being on the lookout for the choicer manifestations — may lead us to attend to human practices searchingly, and to find superiority in unfamiliar places. For example, in the embodied cognitive finesse of the short-order cook, or the intense intellectual labor that may be required in work that is dirty, such as that of the mechanic when he is diagnosing a problem. With such discoveries we extend our moral imagination to people who are conventionally beneath serious regard, and find them admirable. Not because we heed a moral demand such as the egalitarian lays upon us, but because we actually see something admirable. Our openness to superiority is what connects us to others in a genuine way, without a screen of abstraction.

By contrast, egalitarian empathy, projected from afar and without discrimination, is more principled than attentive. It is content to posit rather than to see the humanity of its beneficiaries. But the one who is on the receiving end of such empathy wants something more than to be recognized generically. He wants to be seen as an individual, and recognized as worthy on the same grounds on which he has striven to be worthy, indeed superior, by cultivating some particular excellence or skill. We all strive for distinction, and I believe that to honor another person is to honor this aspiring core of him.
Read more here.

It is Ben Carson in Colorado

Who is the most popular 2016 GOP presidential candidate among Colorado conservatives? Apparently it is Dr. Ben Carson, who, for the second year in a row won the straw poll conducted by the Western Conservative Summit, which just ended a three day run in Denver. John Andrews reports that
Dr. Ben Carson won with 224 votes. Carly Fiorina came in second with 201 votes and Scott Walker was a close third with 192 votes.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Who rules America?

WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — The Supreme Court declared Friday that same-sex couples have a right to marry anywhere in the United States.

...Scalia wrote his dissent “to call attention to this Court’s threat to American democracy.”

“Today’s decree says that my Ruler, and the Ruler of 320 million Americans coast-to-coast, is a
majority of the nine lawyers on the Supreme Court. The opinion in these cases is the furthest extension in fact—and the furthest extension one can even imagine—of the Court’s claimed power to create “liberties” that the Constitution and its Amendments neglect to mention. This practice of constitutional revision by an unelected committee of nine, always accompanied (as it is today) by extravagant praise of liberty, robs the People of the most important liberty they asserted in the Declaration of Independence and won in the Revolution of 1776: the freedom to govern themselves,” Scalia wrote.

Thomas wrote, “Aside from undermining the political processes that protect our liberty, the majority’s decision threatens the religious liberty our Nation has long sought to protect.”

Obama called the ruling a “big step in our march toward equality.”
Read more here.

Then and now

When running for President: "I am not somebody who promotes same sex marriage"

"This ruling will strengthen all of our communities" "A victory for America"

Fighters vs. pugilists

I think I will share this post of Seth Godin's with my two teenage sons.

Fighters and pugilists are different.

The fighter fights when she has to, when she's cornered, when someone or something she truly believes in is threatened. It's urgent and it's personal.

The pugilist, on the other hand, skirmishes for fun. The pugilist has a hobby, and the hobby is being oppositional.

The pugilist can turn any statement, quote or event into an opportunity to have an urgent argument, one that pins you to the ground and makes you question just about anything.

Instead of playing chess, the pugilist is playing you.

Pugilists make great TV commentators. And they even seem like engaged participants in meetings, for a while. Over time, we realize that they are more interested in seeing what reactions they can get, rather than in actually making positive change happen.

A committed pugilist has a long list of clever ways to bait you into an argument. You'll never win, of course, because the argument itself is what the pugilist seeks. Call it out, give it a name, share this post and then walk away. Back to work actually making things better.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Don't forget...

Thanks to My Underwood Typewriter

She knows them

G. writes at My Underwood Typewriter,
Lawyers should never ask a Georgia grandma a question if they aren’t prepared for the answer. In a trial, a Southern small-town prosecuting attorney called his … first witness, a grandmotherly, elderly woman to the stand.
He approached her and asked, ‘Mrs. Jones, do you know me?’ She responded, ‘Why, yes, I do know you, Mr. Williams. I’ve known you since you were a boy, and frankly, you’ve been a big disappointment to me. You lie, you cheat on your wife, and you manipulate people and talk about them behind their backs. You think you’re a big shot when you haven’t the brains to realize you’ll never amount to anything more than a two-bit paper pusher. Yes, I know you.’
The lawyer was stunned. Not knowing what else to do, he pointed across the room and asked, “Mrs. Jones, do you know the defense attorney?’ She again replied, ‘Why yes, I do. I’ve known Mr. Bradley since he was a youngster, too. He’s lazy, bigoted, and he has a drinking problem. He can’t build a normal relationship with anyone, and his law practice is one of the worst in the entire state. Not to mention he cheated on his wife with three different women. One of them was your wife. Yes, I know him.”
The judge asked both counselors to approach the bench and, in a very quiet voice, said, “If either of you idiots asks her if she knows me, I’ll send you both to the electric chair.”

Taxpayer support of illegal immigrants

1. $11 Billion to $22 billion is spent on welfare to ILLEGAL immigrants each year by state governments. Verify At: http://www.fairus.org/site/PageServer?pagename=iic_immigrationissuecenters7fd8 < http://www.fairus.org/site/PageServer?pagename=iic_immigrationissuecenters7fd8 >

2. $22 Billion dollars a year is spent on food Assistance programs such as food stamps, WIC, and free school lunches for ILLEGAL immigrants.

Verify At: http://www.cis.org/articles/2004/fiscalexec.HTML < http://www.cis.org/articles/2004/fiscalexec.HTML >

3. $2.5 Billion dollars a year is spent on Medicaid for ILLEGAL immigrants. Verify at: http://www.cis.org/articles/2004/fiscalexec.HTML < http://www.cis.org/articles/2004/fiscalexec.HTML >

4. $12 Billion dollars a year is spent on Primary and secondary school education for children here ILLEGALly and they cannot speak a word of English!

Verify At: http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANscriptS/0604/01/ldt…0.HTML < http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANscriptS/0604/01/ldt…0.HTML >

5. $17 Billion dollars a year is spent for Education for the American-born Children of ILLEGAL immigrants, known as Anchor babies.

Verify At http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANscriptS/0604/01/ldt.01.HTML < http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANscriptS/0604/01/ldt.01.HTML >

6. $3 Million Dollars a DAY is spent to incarcerate ILLEGAL immigrants.

Verify at: http://transcripts.cnn.com/%20TRANscriptS/0604/01/ldt.01.HTML < TRANscriptS/0604/01/ldt.01.HTML” href=” http://transcripts.cnn.com/%20TRANscriptS/0604/01/ldt.01.HTML ” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow” http://transcripts.cnn.com/%20TRANscriptS/0604/01/ldt.01.HTML > 7.

30% percent of all Federal Prison Inmates are ILLEGAL immigrants.

Verify at: https://owa.slugger.com/owa/UrlBlockedError.aspx < https://owa.slugger.com/owa/UrlBlockedError.aspx >

8. $90 Billion Dollars a year is spent on ILLEGAL immigrants for Welfare & social Services by the American taxpayers.

Verify At: http://premium.cnn.com/TRANSCIPTS/0610/29/ldt.01.HTML < http://premium.cnn.com/TRANSCIPTS/0610/29/ldt.01.HTML > 9.

$200 Billion dollars a year in suppressed American wages are caused by the ILLEGAL immigrants.

Verify At: http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRI < http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRI >

13. In 2006, ILLEGAL immigrants sent home $45 BILLION in remittances to their Countries of origin.

Verify At: . < http://www/ < http://www/ > /..rense..com/general75/niht.htm < ” href=”” target=”_blank” href=”” href=”” href=”http://rense.com/general75/niht.htm%3e” rel=”nofollow” target=”_blank”http://rense.com/general75/niht.htm%3e” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow” data-mce-href=”” href=”http://rense.com/general75/niht.htm%3e” rel=”nofollow” target=”_blank”http://rense.com/general75/niht.htm%3e“>” href=”http://rense.com/general75/niht.htm%3e” rel=”nofollow” target=”_blank”http://rense.com/general75/niht.htm%3e“” href=”” href=”http://rense.com/general75/niht.htm%3e” rel=”nofollow” target=”_blank”http://rense.com/general75/niht.htm%3e” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow” data-mce-href=”” href=”http://rense.com/general75/niht.htm%3e” rel=”nofollow” target=”_blank”http://rense.com/general75/niht.htm%3e“>” href=”http://rense.com/general75/niht.htm%3e” rel=”nofollow” target=”_blank”http://rense.com/general75/niht.htm%3e” target=_blank> http://rense.com/general75/niht.htm>; >

14. The Dark Side of ILLEGAL Immigration: Nearly One million sex crimes committed By ILLEGAL Immigrants In The United States ..

Verify At: http: // www.drdsk.com/articleshtml < ” href=”” target=”_blank” href=”” href=”” href=”http://www.drdsk.com/articleshtml%3e” rel=”nofollow” target=”_blank”http://www.drdsk.com/articleshtml%3e” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow” data-mce-href=”” href=”http://www.drdsk.com/articleshtml%3e” rel=”nofollow” target=”_blank”http://www.drdsk.com/articleshtml%3e“>” href=”http://www.drdsk.com/articleshtml%3e” rel=”nofollow” target=”_blank”http://www.drdsk.com/articleshtml%3e“” href=”” href=”http://www.drdsk.com/articleshtml%3e” rel=”nofollow” target=”_blank”http://www.drdsk.com/articleshtml%3e” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow” data-mce-href=”” href=”http://www.drdsk.com/articleshtml%3e” rel=”nofollow” target=”_blank”http://www.drdsk.com/articleshtml%3e“>” href=”http://www.drdsk.com/articleshtml%3e” rel=”nofollow” target=”_blank”http://www.drdsk.com/articleshtml%3e” target=_blank> http://www.drdsk.com/articleshtml>;

Found here.

Pope Francis throws a curveball

Farrakhan fulfills Rush's prediction

That didn't take long. Yesterday I listened to Rush Limbaugh. Among his predictions was that the American flag would be the next to be denounced.

From WMAL in Washington D.c.:
Louis Farrakhan addressed hundreds Wednesday at the Metropolitan AME Church in D.C. Religious leaders from various background joined Farrakhan to talk about the Millions for Justice Mobilization taking place in D.C. in October.

...Farrakhan also attacked the American flag, saying “What the hell is the use of us paying allegiance to a flag under which we get no justice?”
Read more here

Trump and Sanders popular in New Hampshire

Hot Air reports that a new CNN poll in New Hampshire
finds Trump at 11%, just behind Bush at 16% in a wide open contest for the Republican nomination for president. Bush and Trump are followed by Rand Paul at 9%, Scott Walker at 8%, and Carly Fiorina and Marco Rubio both at 6%. Ben Carson and Chris Christie each have 5% support.

As the low numbers at the top of the pack indicate, the field is far from settled. Twenty-one percent say they don’t know which of the 19 candidates tested in the poll they’d support, and overall, 75% say they’re not committed to any candidate.

Ace of Spades writes,
Donald Trump is the Establishment's own fault. I've been saying this forever: These are not business-as-usual times. 1996 was a business-as-usual time. The economy was growing, the country was at peace, relatively, and there wasn't any bizarre cult of Identity undermining all the pillars of stability in society.

We have been in an extraordinary time for a while -- and I don't mean that in a good way-- and rather that comprehend this and act upon this, and realize that being a conservative in dire times means more than wearing a conservatively-tailored suit, our idiots have continued to play all the old McConnell/Boehner games, losing policy so we could win on the issue, Failure Theater, dissembling catch-phrase rhetoric, etc.

Scalia: “We should start calling this law SCOTUScare.”

Twice now the Supreme Court has saved Obamacare.
Using the acronym for the Supreme Court, Scalia said his colleagues have twice stepped in to save the law from what Scalia considered worthy challenges.

“The Court holds that when the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act says ‘Exchange established by the State’ it means ‘Exchange established by the State or the Federal Government.’ That is of course quite absurd, and the Court’s 21 pages of explanation make it no less so,” Scalia wrote.

Scalia added, “Words no longer have meaning if an Exchange that is not established by a State is ‘established by the State.’
Read more here.

A reasonable and respectful critique of climate change

Dick Morris gives a very respectful and reasonable critique of Pope Francis on climate change. Go here to view Mr. Morris's brief video.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015


Why are chicken prices going down, while egg prices are skyrocketing?

Dan Nosowitz reports in Modern Farmer that
restaurateurs interviewed by the Chicago Tribune said that the price of a case of 12 dozen eggs has doubled in the past few months. And yet the price of chicken meat is down as much as 33 percent over last year. What’s going on here?

...It’s all about avian flu. Avian flu is the pebble tossed into the pond, except the ripples that emanate are anything but symmetrical. Since December 2014, says the USDA, avian flu has been tracked all over the country, striking not just wild, migratory birds but also livestock birds, especially chickens, turkeys and ducks.

The reason Chicago chefs are feeling the biggest crunch is that the vast majority of avian flu cases have been in Iowa, Minnesota and Michigan, and while the tide of new cases seems to be ebbing—at the time of writing, Minnesota is celebrating 13 days without a new outbreak—it’s having lasting effects on the supply of eggs. In Iowa, 25 million egg-laying hens had to be euthanized due to avian flu, and it’s estimated that the U.S. will produce about 5.3 percent fewer eggs this year than last.

Here’s where it gets weird: Avian flu appears to disproportionately affect egg-laying hens, rather than the chickens raised for meat (commonly called broiler chickens). These two types of chickens are kept in completely separate facilities for completely separate amounts of time (an egg-laying hen in the agribusiness system usually lives for about a year, while a broiler goes to market in about six weeks). There are theories that the longer lifespan of the egg-laying chickens puts them more at risk for avian flu to develop than in broiler chickens, but nobody’s really sure.

Regardless, the supply of eggs is down, but the supply of broiler chickens, and thus chicken meat, is fairly constant. The reason chicken prices are going down is because the demand outside the country has plummeted. Other countries, most notably China and South Korea, have enacted total bans on all poultry products from the United States, even though broiler chickens are not really at risk. The same supply with less demand means cheaper chicken.

Maybe restaurateurs will have to start coming up with creative chicken-based breakfasts to replace their omelettes and pancakes.
Read more here.

The most expensive cup of coffee in the world

Want some coffee? These beans are the most expensive coffee beans in the world. Here are the folks who collect the beans for Black Ivory Coffee in Thailand.

'It's a unique taste,' said Barbara Schautz, a German tourist, adding she could detect notes of caramel and chocolate in the brew.

'It's not bitter at all.'
Dan Nosowitz reports for Modern Farmer,
What makes it so rare and so special? Well, it’s digested first. By elephants. Who eat it and then excrete it. The Daily Mail reports on the wildly successful Black Ivory Coffee, which could uncharitably but accurately be called “elephant poop coffee.”

Coffee beans aren’t beans at all; they’re the seeds of a fruit called the coffee cherry. The reason a plant creates fruits is to spread its seed. If an animal is enticed by the fruit and eats it, it inevitably excretes the indigestible seed somewhere else. This allows plants to “travel” and expand their range. This happens with coffee as much as any other plant; plenty of animals like to eat the coffee cherries. And, oddly enough, the digestive system of these animals has been found to actually make those excreted coffee beans taste better to us. The theory is that the various acids in an animal’s stomach work to denature the proteins, which are responsible for some of the bitterness in coffee.

This year, due to increased demand, the entire run of coffee beans is sold out. To get a cup, you’ll have to book a flight to Singapore, Hong Kong or Thailand and visit a select few five-star hotels. Or head to Texas, but call first. Cups of Black Ivory Coffee are going fast.
Read more here.

The Islamic State executes some more Christians

Mike's America writes,
ISIS Monsters Stage Ever More Brutal, Inhuman Executions
Perhaps Obama could tell us again how Christians are just as bad?

A new video by the terror group ISIS shows how evil they have become. Lost is any sense of humanity. The video link is at the bottom of a post at Right Scoop. More images are at the Daily Mail.

In the first clip men in an metal cage are lowered into a swimming pool and drowned. Underwater cameras capture their gruesome final agony.

In the second group several prisoners are lined up and have explosive cord placed around the necks before detonating.

Finally, prisoners shut into a car while one jihadi fires a rocket propelled grenade.

Imagine the horror these monsters will unleash if they ever get weapons in an American city. Are we ready to wait until that happens before we do something about it?

What is America?

Ace of Spades writes,
America is not chiefly about a place. Our physical location is happenstance. It is not about blood or soil. It is not about race. America is an idea -- and ideal.

The reason America is in decline is because far too many born-and-raised Americans do not understand America.

...I oppose our current nearly-open-borders immigration scam for a lot of reasons, but a major reason is this: The current temperament of the world is anti-assimilationist and anti-American.

Previous waves of immigrants came in during periods where it was widely believed that assimilation was good, because America itself was good. Now foreign immigrants are being taught -- as native-born Americans are being taught -- that America is shameful and needs to be rejected, torn down, and even, as one anti-American, communist-sympathizing foreign critic said, "fundamentally transformed."*

Immigrants are no longer being encouraged to give up their old hatreds -- their old, unsettled wars -- carried over from their former countries. Now they're being taught that Tribal Identity is the only true identity, and that any adopted identity, such as Americanism, is a sham propagated by, most likely, Jews.

Nor are they being encouraged to give up the political biases they suffered under in their home countries, chiefly socialism and authoritarianism. Strong Men on White Horses increasing the Chocolate Rations out of their undying love for the people.

Previous swarms of immigrants came over fleeing communism, despising it, cherishing freedom and openness and a government that kept out of their way.

Is that what the current immigrants want, in the main? The Democrat Party-- long covertly agitating for socialism, now overtly doing so -- sure seems to think the new immigrants will vote more socialist governments into power, because they're sure salivating at those new fundamentally-transforming votes.

Thus we have a country in which immigrants are now taking America further and further from itself, from the actual idea of America.
Read more here.

Lacking intellectual musculature

Ace of Spades writes,
There is a slur the Political Class likes to use against Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, and, I suppose, even low-level pundits like me: The "Entertainment Wing" of the party. See, the Political Class is the Serious Wing, but we thinkers, writers, and talkers are merely the "Entertainment Wing."

This is precisely backwards. I disagree with Rush Limbaugh from time to time, but I do not doubt that he actually believes in the ideas he transmits to his listeners.

I heard about the Corker Iran sell-out from two members of the "Entertainment Wing" -- Mark Levin and Andrew C. McCarthy. Both of them told me the Corker bill actually pre-approved Obama's Iran deal, and made it nearly impossible to block later.

This turns out to have been true. If anyone from the non-"Entertainment Wing" has a credible argument against this, I have not heard it-- and I've been looking.

So the "Entertainment Wing" told me the truth about the Corker bill, and the Political Class -- the Serious Wing, I guess -- gave me a silly sales pitch.

So, we have a so-called "Entertainment Wing" that actually believes in the ideas it is transmitting, and an allegedly Serious Wing, aka the Political Class, which does not believe in these ideas, but instead cynically deploys them as Sitcom Catch-Phrases every Ratings Sweeps Period (better known as the US federal elections).

So you tell me: Who is the Entertainment Wing, again?

Who seeks to distract us, and who seeks to speak to us about important issues?

Who treats ideas as if they matter, and who treats ideas as if they are merely Commercial Jingles employed in pitches for a product you don't want?

Most politicians are not particularly fluent in ideas. You will frequently hear politicians speaking conservatism as if it is a second language -- if it is that at all. Indeed, politicians frequently only know the language of conservatism the way that business travelers do -- learning some French a couple of weeks before a sales meeting in Paris.

Little wonder that they stick so closely to stock phrases.

Many conservatives are chagrined that few of our leaders are making the case for conservatism. What they seem to do, most of the time, is run away from arguments, or try to soft-pedal them and pretend they're not arguments at all.

They do so because they simply do not have the intellectual musculature to actually fight on the these ideas. If pushed, even a little bit, they will crumble to the ground.

So they hide. And they issue well-scrubbed press releases that don't say much at all.

...Democracy. Debate. Dissent. The Consent of the Governed. Either we insist the Political Class take these ideas seriously again, or we just pack up the whole thing.

We swim in waters made for us -- befouled for us -- by progressive fish. They create the waste-tainted waters we swim in. And these waters we swim in are heavily biased to the left -- the left's talking points are always the Safe Harbor for weak, cowardly minds to parrot.

That is to say, the weaker of mid you are, the more willing to bend yourself to comport with The Collective, the more likely you are to ape the positions of the Left.

You need someone with brains to resist this, and pardon my language, you need someone with some balls.

...Some fights must be had, even if it causes the Political Class intestinal discombobulation and might get them some nasty looks from their progressive pals.

I know a lot of you are beaten up and broken hearted. And I know that many of you think maybe it's time to just give up.

I know I feel that way. I have felt that way for a year at least. I have felt that way so long it feels like I never felt anything but that way.

But every once in a while, it's a good idea to try to believe, and to try throwing a punch, if only to convince ourselves that we still have the starch to do it.

Ace is backing Mike Flynn of Breitbart.com for Congress against the son of Obama's Transportation Secretary.

Trading now for later

Seth Godin writes today about expectations.
The tragedy of small expectations (and the trap of false dreams)

Ask a hundred students at Harvard Business School if they expect to be up for a good job when they graduate, and all of them will say "yes."

Ask a bright ten-year old girl if she expects to have a chance at a career as a mathematician, and the odds are she's already been brainwashed into saying "no."

Expectations aren't guarantees, but expectations give us the chance to act as if, to trade now for later, to invest in hard work and productive dreaming on our way to making an impact.

Expectations work for two reasons. First, they give us the enthusiasm and confidence to do hard work. Second, like a placebo, they subtly change our attitude, and give us the resilience to make it through the rough spots. "Eventually" gives us the energy to persist.

When our culture (our media, our power structures, our society) says, "people who look like you shouldn't expect to have a life like that," we're stealing. Stealing from people capable of achieving more, and stealing from our community as well. How can our society (that's us) say, "we don't expect you to graduate, we don't expect you to lead, we don't expect you to be trusted to make a difference?"

When people are pushed to exchange their passion and their effort for the false solace of giving up and lowering their expectations, we all lose. And (almost as bad, in the other direction) when they substitute the reality of expectations for the quixotic quest of impossibly large, unrealistic dreams, we lose as well. Disneyesque dreams are a form of hiding, because Prince Charming isn't coming any time soon.

Expectations are not guarantees. Positive thinking doesn't guarantee results, all it offers is something better than negative thinking.

Expectations that don't match what's possible are merely false dreams. And expectations that are too small are a waste. We need teachers and leaders and peers who will help us dig in deeper and discover what's possible, so we can push to make it likely.

Expectations aren't wishes, they're part of a straightforward equation: This work plus that effort plus these bridges lead to a likelihood of that outcome. It's a clear-eyed awareness of what's possible combined with a community that shares your vision.

It's easy to manipulate the language of expectations and turn it into a bootstrapping, you're-on-your-own sort of abandonment. But expectation is contagious. Expectation comes from our culture. And most of all, expectation depends on support—persistent, generous support to create a place where leaping can occur.

There are limits all around us, stereotypes, unlevel playing fields, systemic challenges where there should be support instead. A quiet but intensely corrosive impact these injustices create is in the minds of the disenfranchised, in their perception of what is possible.

The mirror we hold up to the person next to us is one of the most important pictures she will ever see.

If we can help just one person refuse to accept false limits, we've made a contribution. If we can give people the education, the tools and the access they need to reach their goals, we've made a difference. And if we can help erase the systemic stories, traditions and policies that push entire groups of people to insist on less, we've changed the world.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

What did you learn?

Seth Godin writes,
"Did you win?"

A far better question to ask (the student, the athlete, the salesperson, the programmer...) is, "what did you learn?"

Learning compounds. Usually more reliably than winning does.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Did Harry Potter have a severe mental illness?

My sons agree with Nicole Borland who writes,
The entire Harry Potter series is an extended metaphor about a boy with severe mental illness, suffering from delusions. Everything depicted in the movie can be interpreted as an attempt to cope with the harsh realities of his confinement in a mental institution. Every major event in the books is a fantasy/delusional version of the experiences that a child would encounter in the course of being institutionalized and forcibly treated for mental illness.

...The Harry Potter series, then, was written about the kind of experiences that institutionalized children encounter, the kind that J.K. Rowling (actively through her charities) is working to eradicate, but most people simply see it as an adventure story about magic. It's not about magic. It's about mental trauma and the delusion that results from it.

The final reinforcement of this idea comes towards the very end, when Harry appears in his imagined version of King's Cross with Dumbledore.

"Tell me one last thing," said Harry. "Is this real? Or has this been happening inside my head?"

"Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?"
Read more here.

Thanks to Jon Agard

Holding a grudge

Are you holding a grudge? Seth Godin writes
The problem with holding a grudge

...is that your hands are then too full to hold onto anything else.

It might be the competition or a technology or the lousy things that someone did a decade ago. None of it is going to get better as a result of revisiting the grudge.

An 800-year inheritance

Mark Steyn wrote a column this week honoring the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta.
Real rights are like Magna Carta: restraints on state power. Too many people today understand the word "rights" to mean baubles and trinkets a gracious sovereign bestows on his subjects - "free" health care, "free" community college, "safe spaces" from anyone saying anything beastly - all of which require a massive, coercive state regulatory regime to enforce.

Security of the person, property rights, religious freedom, due process... The core animating principles of modern free societies began in that muddy field in Runnymede eight centuries ago. That's why it's the most important anniversary of the year: when the pampered, solipsistic beneficiaries of an 800-year inheritance start to lose the habits of liberty, only darkness lies ahead. Better to re-learn the old lessons while we still can.
Read more here.

Sorry for stepping out

My apologies to readers of this blog. My teenage sons came up from New Mexico to join with my stepson who lives in Colorado, and took me out to dinner on Fathers Day. After a wonderful meal, we played football in the huge mall parking lot until ten p.m. The best Fathers Day I have ever had. My sons are attending a basketball camp this week led by former NBA star Chauncey Billups. They had been in football camp in New Mexico, which will resume after the Fourth of July.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

A smooth talker who knows how to keep opponents at bay

The need for more American engagement with Europe

Walter Russell Mead writes in The American Interest that it is time for a pivot in American foreign policy, a pivot to Europe:
...If the twenty first century goes well, the model of the EU — an international organization based on democratic and liberal ideas that protects the rights of individual states while working for their common good — will have more and more impact on the world. Regional associations in Africa, Latin America, South East Asia and the Middle East will offer more people worldwide the freedom and prosperity that Europeans now share. Promoting this kind of international system has been the chief goal of American foreign policy for more than 100 years, and it is hard to see any other potential American agenda that would be as good for American security and prosperity — and would be more welcome or more successful abroad. The prestige and the drawing power of the EU is one of the most important elements of the soft power that makes the American ideal of a rules-based, peaceful and commercial international order globally attractive, and trouble for the European Union means trouble for the American world project as well.

Against that background, the weaknesses in Europe’s policymaking that the Greek crisis places in such a harsh spotlight are grounds for deep concern in the United States. Poverty in Africa, and mounting instability in the Middle East is creating a major migration crisis to Europe’s south. The wars in Syria and the rise of ISIS (and evidence of a jihadi Fifth Column inside Europe itself) present a new kind of security threat which requires new thinking about European defense. An aggressive Russia is pressing on Europe’s weak eastern flank. Unless the EU gets its groove back, a divided, inward-looking EU is not going to be very effective dealing with the growing threats to its east and south, and the already difficult challenges facing American foreign policy will become significantly harder to manage.

...Instead of facing this honestly and sharing the pain, the rich European governments decided to let their banks off the hook and throw all the costs onto the Greeks. This was a terrible betrayal of the European ideal, and the damage that has resulted (and not only in Greece) will reverberate for years to come. In a just world, the losses would be divided between creditor and debtor alike — and the IMF has made this point more than once. The citizens of debtor countries are being squeezed too hard, and the rich countries aren’t facing up to their co-responsibility for the disaster.
Arguably, German unity means that Europe needs America more. We need to be in the mix, not as a rival to Germany or trying to thwart it in some kind of 19th century balance of power game. Far from thwarting Germany, the American presence in Europe since 1945 greatly assisted Germany’s recover and reintegration into Europe, and promoted and helped secure the foundation of Franco-German cooperation on which everything else in Europe rested for many years. The next American presidential administration is going to have to take Europe seriously again. Bilateral relations with all the leading European countries need to be deepened, and the United States also needs to think much more intensively about the nature of Europe’s difficulties and the things we can do that would promote the health of the Atlantic partnership in a dangerous world.

The world doesn’t work well when Europe is a mess, and Europe doesn’t work well when America is absent. Those are the two most important lessons of the tragic twentieth century; we forget them at our peril.
Read more here.

Nanobots moving through your bloodstream to their targets

Instapundit, who provided the link to the story below this one, also links to a story about
the development of new nanobots that can move easily through body fluids to their targets.

Proving that the immune system is capable of destroying cancer cells

Antonio Regalado writes in MIT Technology Review
When Milton Wright III got his third cancer diagnosis, he cried until he laughed. He was 20 and had survived leukemia twice before, first when he was eight and again as a teen. Each time he’d suffered through years of punishing chemotherapy.

But now he had checked himself in to Seattle Children’s Hospital. An aspiring model, he had taken a fall before a photo shoot and found he couldn’t shake off the pain in his ribs. When the doctors started preparing him for a spinal tap, he knew the cancer was back. “I said, Oh, man, they are going to tell me I relapsed again,” he recalls. “They’re going to give me my six months.”

The third time wasn’t good, he knew. He’d seen enough sick kids at the Ronald McDonald House to know that when leukemia comes back like this, it’s usually resistant to chemotherapy. Hardly anyone survives.

An immune cell treatment is prepared at Memorial Sloan Kettering in Manhattan.

Top: A bioreactor bag holds a leukemia patient’s T cells. The cells have been genetically modified to fight cancer. A new receptor has been added.

Middle: A sample of a patient’s T cells is prepared for quality tests.

Bottom: A bottle of nutrients is used to feed the T cells, which are grown for about 10 days, until they number in the billions. Then they can be reinfused into a patient’s veins.

But Wright did. In 2013 his cancer, acute lymphoblastic leukemia, was destroyed with a new type of treatment in which cells from his immune system, called T cells, were removed from his blood, genetically engineered to target his cancer, and then dripped back into his veins.

The T-cell therapies are the most radical of several new approaches that recruit the immune system to attack cancers. An old idea that once looked like a dead end, immunotherapy has roared back with stunning results in the last four years. Newly marketed drugs called checkpoint inhibitors are curing a small percentage of skin and lung cancers, once hopeless cases. More than 60,000 people have been treated with these drugs, which are sold by Merck and Bristol-Myers Squibb. The treatments work by removing molecular brakes that normally keep the body’s T cells from seeing cancer as an enemy, and they have helped demonstrate that the immune system is capable of destroying cancer.
Read more here.


Hat tip Instapundit

Terrorists who hate the American flag

Dylan Stormdoor Roof, the terrorist in Charleston, South Carolina resembles another American terrorist. Remember Bill Ayres, in whose house in Chicago Obama kicked off his presidential campaign? Here he is stomping on the American flag.

Thanks to Gay Patriot.

Consoling women

Why are so many men inept in the art of consoling women? Chateau Heartiste writes,
SELF-PITYING PRINCESS: oh whoa is me, whoa is me yada yada mada yada yada fada welcome to camp grenada…


There ya go. That’s it. “I understand.” No more need be said. Let her smear her make-up all over you and when her aqueduct is about run dry you express your very succinct understanding.

Oh sure, if you want to be creative, you can refract your response through a female narcissism filter.

“It’s right for you to feel bad.”

I swear 99% of the time this strategy (as elementary as it is) will leave you in her higher esteem than before. Why? Because women don’t want answers to their problems; they want wagon circling sympathy feels. And they LOVE LOVE LOVE a man who will step aside and let them have their emotional cleansing once in a while.

Unfortunately, something so simple is lost on the great majority of men, who for some strange reason as a sex are incapable of handling the frailer sex with the unobtrusive, curt collusion that signals to women an experienced man’s navigational facility with their peculiar feminine landscape. Instead, what one often observes is the man frantically trying to “lift up” (hi SJWs!) his inconsolable girl, or worse, trying to solve her issue, only to receive as gratitude her scowl and labia-turtling exasperation.
Read more here.

What comes first?

A commenter at Chateau Heartiste writes,
I saw a guy on the subway yesterday tenderly put his arm around his girlfriend while she was babbling cocksurely about something indubitably important. Today, saw a couple walking and the young man kissed the top of her head. In neither case did the girl’s body language show any reciprocation or gratitude.

What’s significant is that both men struck me as alpha at first glance.

The girl wants to feel your power and charm first, affection distant third.

Chateau Heartiste adds,
Power and charm first, affection third. That’s a pithy aphorism describing the contours of female attraction for the competing character traits of sexy men. Establish your dominance (which can be done by showing you won’t cave like a supplicating beta to her feminine wiles), engage her with your charm (an attitudinal cue that you live with an abundance of women mentality), bestow her with your affection (but only after she’s bestowed you with her sex and love).

The problem with the more romantically earnest sort of beta males is that they start with the affection, and then clumsily try to segue to the power and charm when they see that their affection is driving the girl away. It never ends well.
Read more here.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Fawning journalists

Doug Powers writes here about the Clinton team's banning of the pool reporter from covering Hillary's re-re-re-launch speech. The pool reporter was David Martosko of the Daily Mail. A day earlier he had tweeted,
It's truly astonishing how many journalists at the @Hillaryclinton speech today reported exactly, and only, what the campaign wanted them to


Please pray for Michelle Malkin's family. Her daughter Veronica has come down with a mysterious illness you can read about here.

The cult of manufactured victimhood

Michelle Malkin writes,
Why was America so shocked by homegirl hoaxer Rachel Dolezal?

The spray-tanned con artist, who resigned this week as head of the Spokane chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of (Artificially) Colored People, is the inevitable outcome of academia’s cult of manufactured victimhood.

College campuses have been grooming a cadre of professional minority fakers and fraudsters for decades.

The notorious pretendians Ward Churchill and Elizabeth Warren faked their Native American status to bolster their faculty credentials at the University of Colorado and Harvard, respectively. It was a mutually beneficial racket for all poseur parties involved. Churchill and Warren basked in their tenured glory. The schools racked up politically correct points for adding the right flavors to their employment rolls.

Churchill was specifically granted a “special opportunity” position that his school created to increase “diversity” on the teaching staff. Warren falsely listed herself as a minority professor in a law school directory. Harvard officials eagerly touted Warren’s bogus background, the Boston Herald reported, to “bolster their diversity hiring record in the ’90s as the school came under heavy fire for a faculty that was then predominantly white and male.” Based solely on what Warren later admitted was unsubstantiated “family lore,” the Fordham Law Review called her the “first woman of color” at Harvard Law.

The pressure to conform and cash in on the cult of oppression chic is even more virulent among the student body.
Read more here on the examples of students taking advantage of oppression chic.

Michelle concludes,
If you can’t make it, fake it. In the ivory tower, the most afflicted and the most offended are at the top of the food chain.

Condi or Hillary?

If you want to invite a former Secretary of State to an event, should you invite Condi Rice or Hillary Clinton? Here is the result of one organization who invited both at different times.

Thanks to Moe Lane

Benefits of napping

Do you take naps? I take one every day for 20-30 minutes during my lunch hour, and it really helps my afternoon performance at work. Mark Sisson writes,
Yeah: as much as people are willing to pay lip service to the importance of a solid eight hours every night (actually sleeping that many hours is another thing entirely), most do not seriously entertain the value of napping. That’s a real mistake, because not only do humans have a long and storied tradition of snoozing in the middle of the day, there are also huge benefits to naps. Far from being anti-productivity wastes of time, a well-timed nap can boost cognitive function, improve work output, and make you healthier, happier, and a better employee (and person).

Benefits of Napping

Napping has been shown to help stave off jet lag.
A 20-minute nap can improve “subjective sleepiness, performance level, and self-confidence.”
A quick nap can be enough to overcome the negative effects of sleep deprivation on learning and memory.
A study in Greek adults found that an afternoon nap was associated with improved heart health and reduced cardiovascular events.
A mere 26 minute nap can boost performance by 34%.
An afternoon nap improves post lunch “cognitive flexibility,” or the ability to multi-task.
Napping reduces stress, particularly the stress caused by sleep restriction.
Napping restores immune function impaired by sleep restriction.
Go here to read more.

Window of Opportunity

In India
Students around the country have been taking the class 10 and class 12 board exams this month, inspiring obsessive news recaps. Students must pass the class 10 exams to move on to upper secondary school and to eventually have a chance at university.

Sonali Kohli writes in Quartz
In the ultimate act of enabling, hundreds of parents and family members in Bihar were caught on camera brazenly climbing walls and standing on window ledges to pass papers to students taking the state’s class 10 standardized test.
Read more here.

In America, it would be feeding us Oreos

Kevin at Cherokee Gothic links to an article about a robot in Japan that feeds runners tomatoes while they are running.

If that is not enough for you, here is a video.

Who are the world's largest employers?

Found here.
Any comments?

Could the NFL ban helmets?

The Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars prepare to bang heads at the line of scrimmage

Matt Slater of BBC Sport writes,
The chairman of the National Football League's health and safety advisory commission believes American football could ban helmets in the future.

The NFL has tried to reduce the risk of head injuries over the last five years and recently reached an almost $1bn legal settlement with ex-players suffering with head trauma.

But some experts think helmets give the players a false sense of security.

Faced with a spate of tragic incidents involving former players struggling with depression, memory loss and mood swings - as well as growing cultural awareness of the issues surrounding concussion - the league has introduced a raft of rule changes.

Kick-offs were moved further up the field to reduce the number of high-speed impacts and helmet-first tackles have been banned. More protection has also been given to players unable to protect themselves, such as quarterbacks in the act of throwing.

But York, who is also the co-chairman of the San Francisco 49ers, says that has been only half of the story, with each game now having at least 27 "health officials" on the sidelines, as well as an independent expert assessing television pictures to make sure injured players are taken off.

Hard plastic helmets entered the game in the 1940s, with facemasks becoming commonplace in the early 1960s.

By the next decade, extra cushioning was added and all helmets had to meet minimum impact-resistance standards.

These developments were intended to improve safety, but they also emboldened players to make bigger hits, often using their helmets like battering rams. Concussions were inevitable.

For the game to be played without helmets, York says the league would have "to do away with" the three-point stance and start each play in a more upright position.

The three-point stance is the starting position usually taken by linemen when the ball is snapped - the three points being the player's feet and a hand on the ground for balance.

Such a stance enables players to launch themselves at each other headfirst, providing the trademark crunch that punctuates each play.
Read more here.

Can you tell I have two high school age sons who are engaging in football practices this summer?

Are we individual thinkers, or merely tribal?

Seth Godin writes,

Just about all the ranting we hear is tribal. "He's not one of us, he's wrong." Or, the flipside, "He's on our team, he's right, you're blowing this out of proportion."

The most powerful thing we can do to earn respect from those around us, though, is to call out one of our own when he crosses the line. "People like us, we don't do things like that." This is when real change starts to happen, and when others start to believe that we really care about something more than scoring points.

Calling out our own jerks is the best kind of kneejerk.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

How the 3-point shot has changed basketball

Tom Haberstroh writes at ESPN,
LeBron James is one of the greatest athletes the world has ever seen.

The body of an NFL linebacker. The speed of a track star. The vision and precision of a marksman. The basketball mind of a computer. All rolled into one package barreling right at you on his way to the rim.

How do you defeat such a modern-day Goliath?

With a slingshot, of course.

In the NBA, they call it a 3-pointer.

...By 1967, former NBA great George Mikan had become the commissioner of the NBA's upstart rival, the American Basketball Association. Desperate for fans, the ABA implemented the 3-point shot for the 1967-68 season to juice up the action, adopting it from the defunct American Basketball League, where it originated.

"We called it the home run, because the 3-pointer was exactly that," Mikan said in "Loose Balls," Terry Pluto's definitive history of the ABA. "It brought the fans out of their seats."

Stephen Curry and the Warriors used the power of the 3-ball to become a powerhouse in the NBA. AP Photo/Ben Margot

Read more here.

Unprecedented resilience

Dan Diamond writes at Forbes,
Over the past five seasons, LeBron’s played a total of 18,087 minutes, counting the regular season and the playoffs.

What that means: Compared to every other player, LeBron’s played at least 15% more minutes than anyone else in the league. He’s played nearly 2,500 more minutes than Kevin Durant, the runner-up.

Basically, pick any other NBA player. Since 2010, LeBron has played the equivalent of at least one extra season compared to that player — and likely, a lot more.

And over the past ten seasons, the minutes gap widens — LeBron has a 20% edge on Joe Johnson (who’s played the second-most minutes) and a 30% edge on Tim Duncan (who’s played the tenth-most). Duncan’s played 8,509 fewer minutes than LeBron since 2005 — basically four seasons fewer worth of games.

...LeBron’s resilience is one reason why his teams benefit so much from his greatness; his ability to avoid injuries means that he can stay on the floor, making his mark on the game.

And while it’s not clear how he does it (Is it his strength? His genes? His recovery method?), we tend to take LeBron’s presence for granted.

But I’d argue LeBron’s unprecedented resilience is its own greatness. The NBA has never seen anything like it.

And as fans, we haven’t either.
Read more here.

Standing by Rachel Dolezal

Manhattan Infidel supports Rachel Dolezal here.

Wolf in sheep's clothing?

Steven Crowder does some vetting of Donald Trump today at Louder with Crowder. After listing a long list of reasons why Trump is not worthy of voters' trust, Crowder concludes that either,
A) Donald Trump suffers from a severe split-personality disorder. Or…

B) Donald Trump is a fraud. A man devoid of principles who bases all of his decisions on the winds of political expediency.

At best, he’s a bold, entertaining voice of opposition. At worst, he’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Don’t be fooled. Do your research.
Read more here.