Friday, February 23, 2018

Casual Friday: Mony Mony

Just two working days til Monday!

"It doesn't make a difference what temperature a room is, it's always room temperature." 
~ Steven Wright 

Them bacteria gonna gitcha

I've become more sensitive to cleanliness given the ferociousness of the flue this season. The other day for the first time I used one of those antibacterial wipes at the door of the supermarket.

Not so fast, Sparky. Anti-bacterial wipes only eradicate bacteria from kitchen surfaces for 20 minutes and using them to keep germs at bay is "an absolutely redundant" exercise, a scientist says.
Dr. Clare Lanyon, a biomedical scientist from Northumbria University in Newcastle upon Tyne, said consumers may be wasting money on antibacterial wipes and sprays because common germs, which can replicate themselves in just 20 minutes, quickly recolonise back to original mass even if just one single cell is left over.

She said bar soap was found to be more effective at destroying bacteria because they tended to contain ingredients that broke down cell walls.
Well that's just fun.

Being skeptical -- just one of my many services to my two readers -- I looked around and found:
Researchers in Wales found that the use of wipes in hospitals may actually be spreading deadly bacteria, including MRSA. In a laboratory study, researchers at Cardiff University's School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Science tested seven commonly used wipes and found their ability to remove MRSA, Clostridium difficile and Acinetobacter after a ten-second swipe was patchy.

In fact, they found that the wipes even moved bacteria to other surfaces.
Okay, I'm going to venture a prediction: We're all gonna die.

And they came in droves, and they believed

We can learn a lot from what Billy Graham didn't become and what he didn't do.

The journalist Cal Thomas noted this: "At his peak -- which lasted longer than most -- Graham was offered political power and movies. He turned them all down, believing he had been called to 'preach the Gospel -- Jesus -- and do nothing else.'"

This reminds me of Jesus in the wilderness being tempted by Satan: Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” Didn't happen.

Joe Bob Briggs, an observer of pop culture, observes:
He was out of fashion in the Baptist Church, and in evangelical Christianity generally. People wanted him to preach about Communism, but he wanted to preach about Christ. People wanted him to preach about Watergate, but he chose to preach about Christ. People wanted him to preach about the sexual revolution, and especially about AIDS, but he kept hammering away: Come to Christ, come to Christ, come to Christ, it covers all situations.

Numero Uno: Billy Graham never built a megachurch.

Billy Graham could have founded the largest church in the world, rivaling those million-member congregations in South Korea, but he didn’t think being a pastor was his office. In fact, he always sought counsel from his own pastor—in recent years, Don Wilton of First Baptist Church in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Churches that play a numbers game, even going so far as to build sermons around real estate acquisitions, represent the very essence of confusing mammon with God.

Numero Two-o: Billy Graham was considered too liberal—and too conservative.

At the Southern Baptist Convention he was considered soft. To the so-called “mainstream” denominations, he was thought of as a fire-breather. To anyone attempting to move the culture toward secularism, he was an anachronism. This is perfectly in line with the expectation of Christians since the first century that the gospel, when preached, will be a comfort to some but an affliction to many.

Numero Three-o: Billy Graham was multicultural, ecumenical, a believer in the big tent that includes all, but he was never universalist, in the sense of “there are many paths to God and they’re all equally valid.

Count the number of times Billy Graham said “Jesus Christ” in any sermon, always talking more about Christ the messiah than Jesus the man. The fact that he was even allowed on network television, given the sensitivity of executives to religious partisanship, is some evidence of how powerful his pulpit presence was.
And they came in droves, Briggs concludes, and they believed, and that’s his legacy, nothing else.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

"It's all going to turn out all right"

About 25 years ago Billy Graham joined me and a half dozen other editors at The Reader's Digest in Chappaqua, New York, for lunch. We often hosted notable guests in the dining room of a refurbished farm house on the Digest property.

I had grown up watching Billy Graham on television, and I probably sat there with my mouth open the whole time, staring at this great person.

He was a tall, distinguished man, but not imposing. He was calm and relaxed. You wouldn't know that he had preached in 200 countries and counseled every president since Harry Truman. He was genuinely humble, just there to chat. He exuded an aura of peace.

We called him simply "Billy Graham," not some pompous "Rev. William Franklin Graham." Other people have had the same impression I did. Journalist Cal Thomas:
In my long career in journalism, I have met many famous people, but none of them impressed me as much as William Franklin "Billy" Graham. The reason had less to do with his fame and movie star looks; it was his humility that was so attractive, so refreshing, so like the One he faithfully served.

My conversations with him quickly turned to me. He wanted to know about my family, how I was doing. Politicians do this, too, but often it is a manipulative technique. With Graham, it was real. It is why so many loved him, including those who do not share his faith.
I've found a few quotes of his that are appropriate for this day.

"I haven't written my own epitaph, and I'm not sure I should. Whatever it is, I hope it will be simple, and that it will point people not to me, but to the One I served."

"God will prepare everything for our perfect happiness in heaven, and if it takes my dog being there, I believe he'll be there."

"I've read the last page of the Bible. It's all going to turn out all right."

Jeff Mallett: nose

"Do what you love, love what you do, leave the world a better place and don't pick your nose."

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

How far back does Obamagate go?

One of my favorite bloggers goes simply by the name "The Z Man." As I've said before, I don't approve of anonymity, but this fellow is brilliant and knows how Washington works. 

His latest piece summarizes the whole coup attempt against Donald Trump, and I'll run it in full here, because it's hard to grasp all of the pieces and understand their significance.
There are two rules of modern life, with regards to how public debate is conducted, that are are always good to keep in mind when thinking about any issue. One is the Opposite Rule of Liberalism. Whatever the Left is howling about at the moment, imagine the opposite and you’re probably getting closer to the truth. The other rule is that cops rarely arrest a first time offender. Usually, someone caught in some sort of skulduggery has been at it for a long time. The law of averages simply caught up with them.

The first rule is an easy one, as we see with the FBI corruption case. Progressive fanatics accused the Trump people of colluding with Boris and Natasha to undermine the election, but it looks like it was the Democrats who were doing deals with foreigners in an effort to subvert the election. It’s hard to know if this is just a very elaborate cover for the Uranium One deal or simple sedition, but the FBI, CIA and at least one Democrat Congressman were willing to cut deals with the Russians for dirt on Trump.

The second rule is the one that it may be time to start pondering. What’s clear at this point in the FBI scandal is that Comey, McCabe, Strzok and Page were dirty. They cooked up a scheme to game the FISA court, so they could start rummaging around in the lives of Trump and his people. What is unknown is the complete narrative and the role of each player in the scheme. Another thing that is clear is they were exceedingly cavalier about what they were doing. Their recklessness is astonishing for people in their world.

Maybe they were just true believers who became increasingly berserk with passion for the task. Despite their titles, these people are career middle managers and this was their first taste of real action. On the other hand, the image that emerges from the texts between Strzok and Page suggests they did not see this caper as that big of a deal. There’s no trace of a guilty mind or any sense they were breaking the law. Instead, even in their cover-up efforts, you see just the bureaucrat’s concern for petty office politics.

Then there is the General Flynn issue. The whole case has been weird from the start, as Flynn is a guy thought to be a straight shooter. Yet, he gets charged with lying to the FBI, over something innocuous. Now we’re are learning the FBI and possibly Robert Mueller sandbagged Flynn, using fake FBI records to compel a guilty plea. This “new information” used by the Federal judge does not appear to have come from Mueller, but rather the Inspector General. This means Mueller is either a dupe or a crook.

Even if Mueller is just a dupe, and that seems increasingly implausible, it means he staffed his team with dirty cops from the FBI. It also means he staffed his team with dirty lawyers and political hacks from the former administration. After all, those lawyers had to be aware of what the FBI was doing to entrap Flynn. The picture emerging here is of an FBI and a DOJ stocked to the gills with people who struggle to understand the difference between a lie and the truth. It’s been a rotten precinct for at least the length of one career.

That brings us to the title of this post. How long has this sort of thing been going on and what other scandals are there? We know the Obama administration weaponized the IRS in an elaborate scheme to undermine Republican groups. We also know the whole thing was broomed by the FBI and DOJ. Knowing that those two organizations have been corrupt for a long time now puts the IRS scandal in a new light. What we may have seen was a cover-up in plain sight, with one dirty agency covering for another dirty agency.

What about the 2012 election? We know that Team Obama was very nervous about re-election after the debacle of the 2010 midterms. There were meetings immediately after to figure out how to get Obama a second term. One result was the overt use of the race card that eventually led to the plague of murders carried out by black lunatics, under the banner Black Lives Matter. How do we know the Feds were not also playing games with Team Romney. Maybe that computer crash was not just bad design after all

Then there is the one story that has never made any sense. That is the case of Judge Roberts reversing course in the ObamaCare decision. He writes an opinion striking down the individual mandate, circulates it around and then suddenly changes course and supports the mandate. It was a such a bizarre turn of events that the dissent just used his brief as the basis of the dissenting opinion. People who investigate blackmail and extortion schemes look for these sorts of anomalous changes in behavior.

One of the lessons of Watergate is that the sort of shenanigans the Nixon people were doing had become so commonplace, they were getting reckless and brazen. The Kennedy clan loved wiretapping opponents. Hoover, of course, was basically the official blackmailer of Washington. The brazen disregard for law and order by the Obama people and the Clinton people suggests a culture of corruption that started long before Strzok and Page decided to become the Bonnie and Clyde of the FBI.

After the election, one of my suggestions was that Trump set up a truth and reconciliation commission. This was a bit tongue and cheek, but not completely. The point of this commission would be to clear the air. Everyone in the government class would have a chance to come forward and admit to their crimes, in order to receive a pardon. It would allow the public to finally see the full scope of the corruption and begin the public debate over how to reform a very corrupt political class. That’s looking like a good idea now.

Did you know your smart phone can do this?

I am fascinated with the many uses we are discovering for smart phones. They are revolutionizing medicine.

The latest I've come across is a 3D printable 'clip-on' that can turn any smartphone into a fully functional microscope.

The microscope is powerful enough to visualise specimens as small as 1/200th of a millimetre, including microscopic organisms, animal and plant cells, blood cells, cell nuclei and more. It requires no external power or light source to work yet offers high-powered microscopic performance in a robust and mobile handheld package.

And the researchers are making the technology freely available, sharing the 3D printing files publicly so anyone – from scientists to the scientifically curious – can turn their own smartphones into microscopes.

The clip-on can be 3D printed, making the device accessible to anyone with basic 3D printing capabilities.

Innovations such as this take healthcare out of the clinic and into the real world.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Don't you be talkin' to my motor

An Orca tries to talk to a motor boat.

Maybe it's hungry. Or in love. Speculation here at a site named Treehugger. So many mysteries, so little time.

A tale of two teens

Here are the stories of two students who were at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last week when a gunman killed 17 people.

Anthony Borges, 15, was the last of 20 students to run into a classroom. While Borges tried to lock the door to protect the other students he was shot five times. No one else in the classroom was hurt. “None of us knew what to do,” fellow student Carlos Rodriguez said. “So, he took the initiative to just save his other classmates.”

Borges is recovering in the hospital. Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel verified a Gofundme account for Anthony Borges on Twitter to help in his long road to recovery. He will need more surgeries. The account has raised $219,573 so far.

David Hogg and another student quickly became media stars of the Parkland, Florida, school shootings and are now media obsessed to the point they say they snubbed an invitation to meet with President Donald Trump in favor of appearing on a televised town hall with CNN’s Jake Tapper.

In what was initially seen as an incredibly odd move for a high school student, Hogg vehemently defended the FBI and placed the blame squarely on the President’s shoulders … before admitting that his father was in the FBI. “I think it’s disgusting, personally. My father’s a retired FBI agent and the FBI are some of the hardest working individuals I have ever seen in my life.”

Some people think he's being coached through this interview. What do you think?

The heroes of Goodhue, Minnesota

This story is several years old, but that doesn't matter.
The town of Goodhue has a population of less than 1,000. The town does not even have a traffic light.

Howard Snitzer, 54, was heading to buy groceries at Don's Foods, when he crumpled to the sidewalk, suffering a massive heart attack.

The grocery clerk called 911, and the only customer in the store, an off-duty corrections officer, rushed to Snitzer's side and began performing CPR. Across the street, the owner of a body shop heard the commotion and hurried over.

As news spread, the numbers grew. The team of first responders in Goodhue is made up entirely of volunteers. In total, about 20 pairs of hands worked to the point of exhaustion to save Snitzer's life in a CPR marathon that lasted for 96 minutes until paramedics arrived.

"We just lined up and when one guy had enough, the next guy jumped in," Roy Lodermeier said. "That's how it went."

When the paramedics finally arrived via helicopter, they witnessed an astonishing scene. Mary Svoboda, a Mayo Clinic flight nurse who flew in on the emergency helicopter, said "it was unbelievable. There were probably 20 in line, waiting their turn to do CPR. They just kept cycling through."

After 10 days, Snitzer was released from the hospital -- miraculously healthy, and incredibly grateful.

"I feel like I have a responsibility to them to live the best life possible and honor the
effort they made," Snitzer said.
The Mayo Clinic said this was the longest a person has survived without a pulse “in an-out-of hospital arrest with a good outcome.”

Do you know CPR? Call your fire department to find out where it's taught. And the Red Cross can help you find a course.

James Bryant Conant: progress

"Behold the turtle. He makes progress only when he sticks his neck out."

Monday, February 19, 2018

Boycott of the Week: Walgreens

Perhaps you'll want to choose another drugstore chain, since one is as good as another anyway.

If you have to go, I'd advise not drinking too much coffee before you do. I would definitely keep your teenage daughters out of there.

The second-largest pharmacy store chain in the U.S. (CVS is largest) calls its policy “Transgender Inclusion.” It defines “gender identity” as one’s “deeply-felt sense” of one’s gender, regardless of that person’s “sex assigned at birth.”

The response to Target’s pro-transgender policy was swift and devastating. A massive boycott (#BoycottTarget, #FlushTarget) ensued, spearheaded by an online petition against the Target move.  An estimated 1.5 million people signed the petition.

By May 2017, corporate stock plummeted $31.73 a share, from $87.50 to $55.77 – a nearly forty percent drop.  “Target lost billions in revenue after millions of customers stopped shopping at Target’s retail outlets,” Breitbart reported.

California Crazy: Rodents! Poop! Robots!

"If you're going to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair." ~ John Phillips

It's a good thing that an earthquake will soon send California sliding into the sea.

Gov. Jerry "Moonbeam" Brown.
Have fun, ya'll. More than 10,000 individuals convicted of incest, pimping minors into prostitution and possession of child pornography could soon be released to the streets thanks to a judge in Sacramento.

Just in time. California's new sex education law requires the curriculum to include discussions of sexual orientation, gender identity and sex trafficking.

Watch where you step. Invasive 20-pound rodents increasingly burrowing into California.

Rats leaving the ship. "New California" declares independence from the rest of the state.

Keep watching. San Francisco requires poop maps to help pedestrians avoid human waste.

Gov. Jerry "Moonbeam" Brown.
California in one headline. Anaheim to evict homeless to make way for flood-control project and preserve bike path.

God bless 'em. A new generation of L.A. Satanists finds community in blasphemous times.

Shoo! Robots are being used to shoo away homeless people in San Francisco.

Wait! To defend a higher minimum wage, San Francisco looks at banning ... robots.

Smoke 'em if you got 'em. Oakland gives pot convicts first chance to open marijuana businesses as reparation for war on drugs.

Gov. Jerry "Moonbeam" Brown.
Lookin' good. Men's prisons in California may soon provide access to bras, mascara, and lip-gloss for inmates who identify as transgender.

Chew on this. California schools cut meat, and cheese from lunches to fight global warming.

Well, take the bullet train. A plan to house L.A.'s homeless residents could transform parking lots across the city.

Going Mad: Don't do this, don't do that

The end is near!
It's getting so bad that I'm beginning to think even Al Gore's gonna die! An update on the climate:

Don't pull that pork! A new academic study from the University of Manchester concludes that an average sandwich carries “the same carbon emission output as a car driven 12 miles.” Researchers extrapolated that British consumers eat 11.5 billion sandwiches annually, generating roughly 9.5 million tons of carbon dioxide, or the equivalent of 8.6 million cars. And that is only a tenth of the 300 million sandwiches eaten every day by Americans.

Don't have that baby! John Podesta, former chief of staff for President Bill Clinton, chairman of Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign, rallied all good progressives to cure the scourge of climate change by controlling the earth's out-of-control population explosion. He said we cannot overlook the importance of "reproductive health." He never actually defines "reproductive health" but according to Planned Parenthood it includes contraceptives and abortion. "Forging a coalition between the environmental movement and the women’s rights movement will not only fundamentally advance women’s rights but also do a world of good for the planet, which is bearing an environmental burden because of population growth."

Don't bogart that straw, my friend. Ian Calderon, the Democratic majority leader in California's lower house, has introduced a bill to stop sit-down restaurants from offering customers straws with their beverages unless they specifically request one. Under Calderon's law, a waiter who serves a drink with an unrequested straw in it would face up to 6 months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. "We need to create awareness around the issue of one-time use plastic straws and its detrimental effects on our landfills, waterways, and oceans," Calderon explained.

Don't throw stones! A 620-tonne boulder – equivalent in mass to about 90 large African elephants – moved several metres on the island of Inishmore in the winter of 2013-2014 after being slammed by powerful coastal storm waves, according to the research led by Ronadh Cox, a geoscientist at Williams College. The real question raised by the work, though, is what it says about the future of climate change.

Don't lecture us! Scientists have once again set up a mock Arctic base camp to educate world leaders about man-made global warming at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Climate scientists hope their mock camp illustrates how global warming could impact the Arctic, but the “Gore effect” may make it harder to get the message across. Davos has seen frigid temperatures along with about six feet of snow in the last six days. There was so much snow, authorities evacuated some neighborhoods due to avalanche concerns. Global elites headed to the conference had to force their way through heavy snow drifts.

Should you choose Apple or Android for your phone?

An article at Gizmodo compares them along several criteria, but I'll just reprint the first, which I think is the most important: privacy.
For the last couple of years, Apple has been keen to talk up the user privacy advantages of going with iOS. Less of your data gets sent to the cloud, more of it gets stored securely on your device, and Apple doesn’t want to collect as much data about you in the first place, according to Apple.

You can read Apple’s privacy policy in full here. A lot of the data that gets sent back to Apple, including search queries and map locations, is aggregated and anonymized, though not all of it—if you’re using Find My iPhone, for example, Apple needs to know who you are and where your phone is so it can help reunite you.

It’s officially called Differential Privacy, where the data that Apple collects on its users gets scrambled so it can’t identify people personally. That means “we see general patterns, rather than specifics that could be traced back to you” in Apple’s own words.

Google, in contrast, likes to suck up as much personal information as it can on you to create much more personal services, and very much sees specifics about you—you can read its privacy policy here (and don’t forget the policy of Samsung or LG or whichever company makes your phone).

Of course the question of how much data gets collected—data that can be linked to you personally—is a slightly separate one to how that data gets used. Google would say it’s using all the information it collects in a responsible and helpful way, something you may or may not be confident in accepting at face value.

“We collect information to provide better services to all of our users—from figuring out basic stuff like which language you speak, to more complex things like which ads you’ll find most useful, the people who matter most to you online, or which YouTube videos you might like,” says Google in its privacy policy. In other words, it knows you better, and that helps Google Assistant know what you need or helps Google search offer up more relevant results. Whether or not the privacy trade-off is worth it is up to you.

There’s no doubt Apple is less interested in profiling its users and serving up adverts to them, and more interested in making a stand for user privacy. Google admits it collects more data, but promises to be careful with it—so it ultimately comes down to how much you trust these giant tech companies as to whether you’re more comfortable using iOS or Android on your phone.
I live a schizoid tech life: I have Mac computers but a Samsung phone, and I use Google for a lot of things. I've decided that Google knows me too well, so I hope to change that if I can unplug it all.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

This just in ...

Archaeologists Uncover Jesus’s Gulfstream Jet

ISRAEL—New historical evidence uncovered in present-day Israel suggests that Jesus and His disciples traveled around the region preaching the good news of Christ’s coming in a luxurious Gulfstream V jet, sources confirmed Thursday.

Archaeologists uncovered the ruins of Jesus’s private airport just outside Nazareth, as well as the rusted-out remains of a luxury jet they now believe He used to fly from sermon to sermon.

“This is great news for prosperity preachers,” Kenneth Copeland said Thursday. “This just goes to show we’re not heretics. We’re not deceivers. We’re not charlatans more concerned about making money than ministering to the lost. We’re right in line with Jesus and His original mission on this earth.”

“Jesus was the Son of God, for crying out loud. Do you think He’d humble Himself to walking around in the dirt? I don’t think so,” he added. “He had the finest planes, wore the finest clothes, ate the finest foods, and always sat at the best seat at the table.”

While scholars originally believed Jesus traveled around the countryside on foot like most of the impoverished citizens of the day, it’s now clear He and His disciples rode around in style, using the meager donations of His supporters to fund “only the finest” modes of transportation. Upon the discovery, scholars scrambled to revise maps of Jesus’s ministry travels, replacing the well-worn routes on dirt roads through poor villages with dashed lines indicating the flight paths he took in His multi-million dollar aircraft.

Boarding at 11.

(The Babylon Bee)

Vespers: Jesus Is Just Alright

The Doobie Brothers sing "Jesus Is Just Alright."

The Doobie Brothers are an American rock band from San Jose, California. The group has sold more than 40 million albums worldwide throughout its career. The band has been active for five decades, with their biggest success occurring in the 1970s.

Arthur Reid Reynolds wrote this song. For 13 years, he played the piano and directed the choir for local Long Beach, California, churches. In the late 1960's Art took the five best singers from his choir at the St. Vestal C.M.E. church and created a gospel singing group, the "Art Reynolds Singers." 

Reynolds has written music since the age of 10. In 1955, his grandmother bought an old upright piano for $5 from the local church, spent $200 having it fixed up, and had it delivered to the family home. It was made of shiny blond wood that reflected the sunlight that came through the window facing it. Art often saw his reflection in the mirror on top of the piano and constantly told himself that one day he would be a songwriter and singer.

Doll, Art's grandmother, would take him to local churches and large traveling revival meetings so he could receive prayer to help cure him of his severe childhood asthma attacks. She encouraged him to preach at the local Church of God In Christ; she took him to A.A. Allen, Reverend Ike, Oral Roberts and Jimmy Swaggert's old campground revival meetings to receive prayer. It was those revivals and small church services that provided the impetus for his appreciation and love for gospel music.

Why churches have stained glass windows

Time-lapse transforms stained-glass light into a stunning kaleidoscopic display.

Shot inside the Washington National Cathedral in Washington, DC as it was undergoing repairs for earthquake damage, this mesmerising video captures the movement of light through the stained-glass windows of this neo-Gothic structure. By using time-lapse photography, the director Colin Winterbottom transforms the cathedral into a canvas for the brilliant colours of its many large and elaborate stained-glass displays. The video was displayed at Winterbottom’s exhibition Scaling Washington, which debuted at Washington, DC’s National Building Museum in 2015.


"You are my Son, the Beloved"

The Temptations of Christ - Botticelli
From The Lectionary:

Mark 1:9-15
1:9 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.

1:10 And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him.

1:11 And a voice came from heaven, "You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased."

1:12 And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness.

1:13 He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.

1:14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God,

1:15 and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news."

Meister Eckhart: prayer

"If the only prayer you ever say in your whole life is "thank you," that would suffice."

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Are antidepressant meds behind these school shootings?

Source: CCCI International
Whatever your pet solution to mass school killings, you need to consider -- especially if you're a parent -- the possible role of antidepressant medications.

There's persuasive evidence that antidepressants can make young people prone to violence, perhaps not in every person but in enough to matter. This may explain the otherwise inexplicable behavior we saw in Florida.

In the Florida case, family member Barbara Kumbatovich told the Miama Herald that “she believed Nikolas Cruz was on medication to deal with his emotional fragility.” She was a sister-in-law of Lynda Cruz, the suspect’s mother, and she also told the Sun-Sentinel that she believes Nikolas has been on medications for several months.

In the Sandy Hook case, at one point experts at the Yale Child Studies Center prescribed antidepressant/anti-anxiety medication, but his mother discontinued the treatment after her son was unable to raise his arm after taking the medicine and never scheduled follow-up visits, police reports said. So we don't know if he was taking these meds at the time he went on his murder spree.

An Oxford University study found that men – and women – in their late teens and early 20s – were almost 50 per cent more likely to be convicted of offences from assault to murder when taking SSRI drugs. This family of anti-depressants includes Prozac, as well as Seroxat, Lustral, Cipralex and Cipramil, the most commonly prescribed of the pills.

A common thread among the most horrific school shootings of the past 25 years is that the majority of the shooters were taking a psychiatric medication. As a psychiatrist who is all too familiar with this issue, I am dismayed at this oversight, writes Hyla Cass, M.D. Many legal cases, with closed books due to settlement, document cases of suicides and homicides in individuals who had not been violent prior to taking medication, and often they were newly prescribed or on an increased dose.

She cites these examples:
The Virginia Tech shooter murdered thirty-two. Cho was prescribed the antidepressant drug Prozac prior to his rampage.

Jeffrey Weiss went on a shooting rampage on March 21, 2005, at Red Lake High School that left ten dead, including him. Earlier that day, Weiss had killed his grandfather and his grandfather’s girlfriend. He was on Prozac and the dosage had recently been increased.

Eric Harris, one of the killers at Columbine High School, was on the antidepressant drug Luvox. Court records show that the prescription for Harris had been filled ten times between April 1998 and March 1999.

In Houston, Texas, Andrea Yates drowned her five children while taking Effexor and Remeron.

Christopher Pittman shot and killed his grandparents at age twelve. He claimed a voice inside his head told him to kill his grandparents on November 28, 2001. Christopher had recently started to take Zoloft to treat mild depression.
If you are someone you know is taking these medications, don't stop, but talk to your doctor immediately about the possible unwanted side effects.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Casual Friday: Question

Just two working days til Monday!

"If you don't attend the funerals of your friends, they will certainly not attend yours."~ H.L. Mencken 

Protect your children from the flu

This is shocking: Most children who have died of the flu so far this season had not been vaccinated, according to the CDC.
Of the 63 confirmed child deaths from the flu, investigators have health histories on 56 of them. Of the 54 kids who were old enough to get the flu vaccine, only 14 -- or 26% -- had gotten at least one dose.
You think we would have learned. In previous flu seasons, as many as 85% of children who died after getting the flu had not been vaccinated.

Some parents are suspicious of vaccines. Some have read that the vaccine this year isn't very effective. They are only partly correct. The vaccine has been 59% effective against influenza A and B in children. That compares to a 36% effectiveness, overall, for adults.

Read the whole article for more advice on protecting your children. The flue and secondary infections can be sneaky and move very fast. So if you suspect something is wrong call the doctor immediately.

Here is more information on children and the flu, but don't play doctor. Call a real one.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Why do you get out of bed in the morning?

She knows.
DeWitt Wallace, who founded The Reader's Digest, used to ask people, "Why were you born?"

If you can answer that question, you might live seven years longer.

People who study things have studied certain cultures that embrace the Japanese spirit of ikigai. In a seven-year study of 43,000 Japanese, for example, researchers found that individuals who believed that their life was worth living were less likely to die than those without this belief.

A National Geographic study showed that some of the happiest and longest living people in the world are from Okinawa, Japan. Their average lifespan is seven years longer than ours in North America. They have more 100-year-olds than anywhere else in the world.

There you go, boys and girls. Get yourself some ikigai.

Long ago I picked up the idea that to choose the right career you should determine 1) what you know how to do, 2) what you like to do, 3) and what the world needs. Note that you may not like doing what you know how to do. Note also that No. 3 is ambiguous: it could mean what the world will pay for or it could mean the world needs -- more love, for example. ( I think it needs more chocolate, but I don't know how to do that.)

Well, wouldn't you know the Japanese had already figured it out. Ikigai is believed to be the union of four elements: What you love, what you are good at, what the world needs, and what you can be paid for.

Please note that this does not mean what you do for work. It can very well mean what you do on weekends or what you do when you retire from work.

Heck, on Okinawa they don’t even have a word for retirement. Literally nothing in their language describes the concept of stopping work completely. So they just keep on ikigaiing, if that's a word, until they drop. It just takes a lot longer for them to drop.

They say that determining your ikigai takes a lot of mental work. Maybe. But what is it that you find yourself doing more than anything else? Doing when all the other stuff is done. For me it's writing. It's my ikigai.

(Thanks, Bev)

Let's pretend those 17 people didn't exist

Doesn't exist.
I've written before that their communities knew about the crazed killers in Sandy Hook, Connecticut, and Sutherland, Texas.

It's happened again, hasn't it?

The school, the teachers and the students knew about Nikolas Cruz. And here. And here.
Even the FBI knew for crying out loud. In September, a YouTube user named Nikolas Cruz left a comment on a video stating, "I'm going to be a professional school shooter." The video's creator alerted both the FBI and YouTube.

Nobody did anything. The FBI was too busy going after The Donald. And the school was too busy being politically correct.
One of the nation’s largest school districts has reached an agreement with law enforcement agencies and the NAACP to reduce the number of students being charged with crimes for minor offenses. The agreement with Broward County Public Schools in Florida is one of the first comprehensive plans bringing together district officials, police and the state attorney’s office to create an alternative to the zero-tolerance policies prevalent in many schools.
Broward  County was just jumping on the Trayvon Martin bandwagon.
It was our initial FOIA requests to the Miami Dade School Police Department which revealed the secret discipline and diversionary program Trayvon Martin was granted to avoid a criminal record.

Specifically Trayvon Martin’s criminal conduct was hidden behind school discipline. Stolen jewelry was recorded as random ‘found items’ (the jewelry just intentionally placed in storage with no investigation), his possession of marijuana was similarly obfuscated, and all of the incident reports were intentionally falsified by officials and School Resource Officer, Daryl Dunn, to avoid the Criminal Justice system.
Here's a plan: Broward County pretended that Nikolas Cruz didn't exist. Let's pretend that the 17 people he murdered didn't exist.

Play in the dirt, live forever

Will live forever.
Scientists have discovered a new family of antibiotics in dirt. The natural compounds could be used to combat hard-to-treat infections.

Tests show the compounds, called malacidins, annihilate several bacterial diseases that have become resistant to most existing antibiotics, including the superbug MRSA. Soil is teeming with millions of different micro-organisms that produce lots of potentially therapeutic compounds, including new antibiotics.

So will playing in the dirt confer this protection to you? That is simplistic, I suppose, but we've known for a long time that getting dirty is good for you. And we know that gardening is good for you,as well.

Get dirty!

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley: purpose

"Nothing contributes so much to tranquilizing the mind as a steady purpose - a point on which the soul may fix its intellectual eye."

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Facebook is getting really creepy

Read the following story published in Wired magazine and come up with a word to describe Facebook. It's a bit long but compelling.
One day in late February of 2016, Mark Zuckerberg sent a memo to all of Facebook’s employees to address some troubling behavior in the ranks. His message pertained to some walls at the company’s Menlo Park headquarters where staffers are encouraged to scribble notes and signatures. On at least a couple of occasions, someone had crossed out the words “Black Lives Matter” and replaced them with “All Lives Matter.” Zuckerberg wanted whoever was responsible to cut it out.

“ ‘Black Lives Matter’ doesn’t mean other lives don’t,” he wrote. “We’ve never had rules around what people can write on our walls,” the memo went on. But “crossing out something means silencing speech, or that one person’s speech is more important than another’s.” The defacement, he said, was being investigated.

When Zuckerberg’s admonition circulated, a young contract employee named Benjamin Fearnow decided it might be newsworthy. He took a screenshot on his personal laptop and sent the image to a friend named Michael Nuñez, who worked at the tech-news site Gizmodo. Nuñez promptly published a brief story about Zuckerberg’s memo.

A week later, Fearnow came across something else he thought Nuñez might like to publish. In another internal communication, Facebook had invited its employees to submit potential questions to ask Zuckerberg at an all-hands meeting. One of the most up-voted questions that week was “What responsibility does Facebook have to help prevent President Trump in 2017?” Fearnow took another screenshot, this time with his phone.

Fearnow, a recent graduate of the Columbia Journalism School, worked in Facebook’s New York office on something called Trending Topics, a feed of popular news subjects that popped up when people opened Facebook. Fearnow and his team were contract employees hired through a company called BCforward.
The day after Fearnow took that second screenshot was a Friday. When he woke up after sleeping in, he noticed that he had about 30 meeting notifications from Facebook on his phone. When he replied to say it was his day off, he recalls, he was nonetheless asked to be available in 10 minutes. Soon he was on a video­conference with three Facebook employees, including Sonya Ahuja, the company’s head of investigations. According to his recounting of the meeting, she asked him if he had been in touch with Nuñez. He denied that he had been. Then she told him that she had their messages on Gchat, which Fearnow had assumed weren’t accessible to Facebook. He was fired. “Please shut your laptop and don’t reopen it,” she instructed him.

That same day, Ahuja had another conversation with a second employee at Trending Topics named Ryan Villarreal. Several years before, he and Fearnow had shared an apartment with Nuñez. Villarreal said he hadn’t taken any screenshots, and he certainly hadn’t leaked them. But he had clicked “like” on the story about Black Lives Matter, and he was friends with Nuñez on Facebook. “Do you think leaks are bad?” Ahuja demanded to know, according to Villarreal. He was fired too. The last he heard from his employer was in a letter from BCforward. The company had given him $15 to cover expenses, and it wanted the money back.
So what does Facebook know about you? And how will it use it?

When can you return to work after the flu?

Here are the questions to ask.
  • Have you gone 24 hours without a fever and without taking acetaminophen, ibuprofen or other similar medicine? If yes, you are most likely not contagious anymore. This is a good sign your body is finally on the mend!
  • Are you coughing or sneezing? The influenza virus primarily spreads from person to person through droplets in the air. The best way to protect others is to stay home until your symptoms have improved more.
  • Do you still feel sick? This can be a tough question because the flu can wipe you out, but if you don’t feel like you’re clearly better, take another day to rest and recuperate.
For those in the house exposed to the flu who are healthy and got their flu shot, there’s not much extra for you to do. You can be contagious before you feel sick, so keep up the hand washing. That will protect you and others around you.  Also, use common sense – don’t hold a baby and skip the hugs.


Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Now they can make wood as strong as steel

Scientists have developed a new type of "super wood" that is more than 10 times stronger and tougher than normal wood - and this innovation could potentially become a natural and inexpensive substitute for steel and other materials.
Key to the new wood's superpowers is a special chemical treatment followed by a heated compression process. The resulting chemical bonds make the wood strong enough to one day be used in buildings and vehicles.

It could even take a turn in new armour plating – the researchers fired bullet-like projectiles at their new super wood and found they got lodged in the material rather than blasting their way through, as they did with standard-strength wood.
I guess if you get a splinter it's just really bad.

Barack is still making fun of our traditions

One of these is not like the others. Can you guess which one?
There will be a quiz.

(Andrew Mullins)

William Penn: silence

"True silence is the rest of the mind; it is to the spirit what sleep is to the body, nourishment and refreshment."

Monday, February 12, 2018

It's not murder -- we need the organs

Planned Parenthood will continue to receive hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars in the new spending agreement, despite Republican pledges to defund the nation's largest abortion provider. Taxpayers sent $543.7 million to Planned Parenthood last year. ~ The Washington Free Beacon

In an undercover video released Wednesday, a former technician for a tissue-harvesting company details how an aborted baby was kept alive so that its heart could be harvested at a California Planned Parenthood facility, raising more legal questions about the group’s practices.
Holly O’Donnell, a former blood and tissue procurement technician for the biotech startup StemExpress, also said she was asked to harvest an intact brain from the late-term, male fetus whose heart was still beating after the abortion. A StemExpress supervisor “gave me the scissors and told me that I had to cut down the middle of the face. And I can’t even describe what that feels like,” said Ms. O’Donnell.
If you can explain to me how this is not murder, I'm willing to listen.

How to use a hotel atrium

At 11 p.m. on Wednesday high school students competing in the Kentucky Music Educators Association’s All-State Choir came out of their rooms at the Hyatt Regency in Louisville to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Garrett Mager, who recorded this: "The Kentucky State Choir Finals schools are all staying at my hotel. They decided to sing the National Anthem together on every single floor." The effect of the singers on each floor of the atrium hotel makes for powerful acoustics.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Vespers: Pilgrim's Chorus

The Danish National Vocal Ensemble and the Danish National Symphony Orchestra perform "Pilgrim's Chorus."

The Vocal Ensemble is an elite choir, but each of the 18 singers is a professional soloist with a strong personal mode of expression. It performs the whole spectrum of choral music – from 500-year-old Renaissance music through Romantic classics to brand new works by young composing talents.

The Danish Symphony, founded in 1925, is the principal orchestra of the Danish Broadcasting Corporation.

The "Pilgrims Chorus" comes from the German opera "Tannhäuser" by Richard Wagner. The song represents the penitential journey of pilgrims as they travel to and from Rome to receive absolution. The noble aspirations of the penitents are embodied in this song, which sings the praises of God's mercy and the peace obtained by those who remit the debt of their sins.

Wilhelm Richard Wagner (1813 – 1883) was a German composer, theatre director, polemicist, and conductor who is chiefly known for his operas (or, as some of his later works were later known, "music dramas"). Unlike most opera composers, Wagner wrote both the libretto and the music for each of his stage works.

Blest, I may now look on thee, oh, my native land,
And gladly greet thy pleasant pastures;
Now, I lay my pilgrim's staff aside to rest,
For, faithful to God, I have completed my pilgrimage.

Through penance and repentance I have propitiated
The Lord, whom my heart serves,
Who crowns my repentance with blessing,
The Lord to whom my song goes up.

The Lord to whom my song goes up.

The salvation of pardon is granted the penitent,
He will one day walk in the peace of the blessed.

Hell and death do not appal him,
Therefore will I praise God my life long.

Eternally, eternally. 

Zapping the flu virus in the air with light

I take my therapy dog, Scout, to a hospital and several nursing homes each week. I often come across rooms and even whole wards sealed off because of worries about the flu.

Indeed, one in ten deaths are currently related to the flu. An innovation may provide some help.
Special ultraviolet lamps may be the solution to stopping one of the worst flu seasons in years. Far ultraviolet-C (far-UVC) light can kill airborne flu viruses without hurting humans, according to new research.

Researchers at Columbia University tested the far-UVC light in a chamber that simulated the conditions of a public space and found that it effectively killed the flu virus in the air.
Apparently this is further along than we knew. The use of ultraviolet light systems is becoming more widely used in healthcare facilities for disinfecting patient and operating rooms.
One of the most popular forms of disinfection is the use of portable UV-C systems. A Canadian company Sanuvox manufactures a twin unit which can be placed in the patient room with one unit on either side of the bed to cover off the shadow effect and of course with no patient in the room and the corridor door closed. The lights can be activated remotely via WiFi applications to smart phones plus infrared mechanisms on the units turn off the UV-C lights if there is the slightest movement in the room. 
This kind of light doesn't hurt humans, so let's have more of it.

This is my Son, the Beloved

From The Lectionary:

Mark 9:2-9
9:2 Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them,

9:3 and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them.

9:4 And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus.

9:5 Then Peter said to Jesus, "Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah."

9:6 He did not know what to say, for they were terrified.

9:7 Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, "This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!"

9:8 Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus.

9:9 As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead.

Epictetus: intention

"First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do."

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Eric Hoffer: the future

"A preoccupation with the future not only prevents us from seeing the present as it is but often prompts us to rearrange the past."