Sunday, August 28, 2016
Retired man, 78, with no musical ability comes round from a stroke to find he can suddenly play the piano
A pensioner who survived a stroke was suddenly able to play the piano. He was amazed when he discovered his new artistic talent. 'I played and I couldn't believe it. It just came out naturally and I was in shock,' he said.
He said: 'I had a heart bypass around 20 years ago and ever since, I've had problems with my heart. I've had countless strokes, but this was the first time anything was noticeably different afterwards.'
He discovered his new found talent after acquiring a piano from a late friend. 'I sat down next to it to have a look. I just wanted to try and played it. 'It was just as my friend's son was walking into the room and he asked if I had ever played before and that he didn't know I could play. I told him I couldn't.' He said he had not gained any other skills since his stroke"
New scare about hormone replacement therapy and breast cancer
HRT is very beneficial to many women as they cease menstruation. It relieves the many physical problems they experience at that time. So, as with anything popular, the elites had to find something wrong with it. And there was a big scare around the beginning of this century saying that it caused breast cancer. Subsequent research, however, largely cleared the HRT pill of that danger and official guidance these days is that there is little to worry about.
A new study just out (summary and journal abstract below), however, has renewed the scare. And the new study is methodologically strong. It takes careful account of things not well considered in previous studies. There are a couple of reasons not to be too bothered by the findings, however. The first is that, as with most medical research, only the relative risk is reported, not the absolute risk. I had to scratch fairly deeply to find the absolute risk behind the current results. It was about 40 in 1,000. Out of 1,000 old ladies, 40 will get cancer from taking the HRT pill. That is not negligible but it is not a great risk either. Most of us do more risky things with some regularity -- like driving a car.
The second thing to note is that not all HRT pills are the same. What is most lacking in old ladies is the female hormone estrogen. Those old ladies who get around in masculine haircuts have lost most of their female hormones so are in a sense post-female. So replacing the estrogen is all that should be required to restore the old balance in the woman's life. And that is what most HRT pills do.
For women whom the estrogen doesn't help much, however, there is another sort of pill: estrogen plus progestogen. And that is inherently risky. Progestogens produce progesterone, which is a major pregnancy hormone. Worldly-wise men know why their women get irritable once a month (PMT). It is when her ovaries are producing progesterone to prepare the womb for conception. So progesterone is vital for conception but it is also the bad-mood hormone. I once saw a rather spectacular example of progesterone-induced rage myself. The woman concerned was deeply embarrassed afterwards. That increased progesterone levels might have other problems is therefore easily understood.
And it appears that it does. The research below found absolutely no problem with the estrogen-only pill but did find problems with the combined pill. The progestogen-containing pill does slightly elevate the risk of breast cancer. Giving old ladies a pregnancy hormone is pretty wild to start with so it is no surprise that it might have some ill effects.
But there is a BIG problem with the causal arrow here. As is deplorably common in the medical literature, the authors assume that correlation is causation, which is a gross statistical fallacy.
What they have not done is ask WHY the women concerned were put on the combined pill in the first place? Were they less healthy in various ways from the beginning? Would they have got more cancer anyway, with or without the pill? So being put on the combined pill may be an indicator that the old ladies were from the beginning more likely to get cancer rather than the pill causing the cancer.
So this research is not conclusive at all. Only a before-and-after experimental design could answer questions about cause. Even the combined pill could be completely harmless.
Nonetheless, I agree with the most common medical advice, that women should by and large stick to the estrogen-only pill. We KNOW that it is harmless
HRT raises the risk more than threefold for women who had taken it for 15 years, the Institute of Cancer research found Credit: Press Association
Hormone replacement therapy can triple the risk of breast cancer, the biggest ever study has found, following more than a decade of controversy.
Last year the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (Nice) changed guidance to encourage more doctors to prescribe HRT claiming too many menopausal women had been left suffering in silence.
HRT is used to treat uncomfortable symptoms of the menopause - such as hot flushes, migraines, disrupted sleep, mood changes and depression - by topping up the decreased levels of hormones produced by the body.
But doctors were reluctant to prescribe it after a study in 2002 suggested it could raise the risk of cancer, a claim later widely disputed.
Now new findings by the Institute of Cancer Research and Breast Cancer Now suggest the original risk had actually been underestimated.
A study of 100,000 women over 40 years found those who took the combined oestrogen and progestogen pill for around five years were 2.7 times more likely to develop cancer compared to women who took nothing, or only the oestrogen pill.
The risk rose to 3.3 times for women who took the drugs for 15 years or more.
Around 14 in 1,000 women in their 50s are expected to develop breast cancer, but that rises to 34 in 1000 for women taking the combined pill, the study suggests.
"Our research shows that some previous studies are likely to have underestimated the risk of breast cancer with combined oestrogen-progestogen HRT," said study leader Professor Anthony Swerdlow, of The Institute of Cancer Research.
"We found that current use of combined HRT increases the risk of breast cancer by up to threefold, depending on how long HRT has been used.
"Our findings provide further information to allow women to make informed decisions about the potential risks and benefits of HRT use."
Women taking the oestrogen-only pill have no greater risk
HRT was first developed in the 1940s and was first made available to women in Britain in 1965.
However in 2002 the British Millennium Women Study published findings claiming that HRT raised the risk of cancer. Many doctors immediately withdrew prescriptions while the Medical Healthcare and Regulatory Agency (MHRA) issued new guidance recommending all women be given the "lowest effective dose should be used for the shortest time."
Since then the number of women taking HRT has more than halved with around one in 10 eligible patients now using the drugs, approximately 150,000 women.
More recently a review by Imperial College and a 10-year study by New York University found no evidence of a link, adding further to the confusion and last year the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) changed its guidance to encourage doctors to offer HRT claiming one million women were suffering in silence.
At the time Nice said that the cancer risk was 27 in 1,000 so the new research, which followed 100,000 women for 40 years, increases that risk by 54 per cent.
The health watchdog said that the new study should not change how doctors prescribed HRT.
We found that current use of combined HRT increases the risk of breast cancer by up to three fold, depending on how long HRT has been usedProfessor Anthony Swerdlow, Institute of Cancer Research
Professor Mark Baker, director of the Centre for Guidelines at NICE, said: "As with Nice guidance this study recognises there is no increased risk of breast cancer with oestrogen-only HRT but the combined HRT can be associated with an increased risk of breast cancer.
"The guideline makes clear that menopausal women should be informed that the impact of HRT on the risk of breast cancer varies with the type of HRT used.
"The message from our guidance to women is clear - talk about the menopause with your clinician if you need advice on your symptoms - it's very important to discuss the options to find what might help you."
The new study also found that the risk declined when women stopped taking HRT and there was no danger at all for women only taking oestrogen, which accounts for half of all prescriptions.
Baroness Delyth Morgan, chief executive at Breast Cancer Now, said: "Whether to use HRT is an entirely personal choice, which is why it's so important that women fully understand the risks and benefits and discuss them with their GP. We hope these findings will help anyone considering the treatment to make an even more informed decision.
"On balance, some women will feel HRT to be a necessity. But in order to minimise the risk of breast cancer during treatment, it is recommended that the lowest effective dose is used for the shortest possible time.
"The good news is that the increased risk of breast cancer begins to fall once you stop using HRT."
Menopausal hormone therapy and breast cancer: what is the true size of the increased risk?
Michael E Jones et al.
Background: Menopausal hormone therapy (MHT) increases breast cancer risk; however, most cohort studies omit MHT use after enrolment and many infer menopausal age.
Methods: We used information from serial questionnaires from the UK Generations Study cohort to estimate hazard ratios (HRs) for breast cancer among post-menopausal women with known menopausal age, and examined biases induced when not updating data on MHT use and including women with inferred menopausal age.
Results: Among women recruited in 2003-2009, at 6 years of follow-up, 58?148 had reached menopause and 96% had completed a follow-up questionnaire. Among 39,183 women with known menopausal age, 775 developed breast cancer, and the HR in relation to current oestrogen plus progestogen MHT use (based on 52 current oestrogen plus progestogen MHT users in breast cancer cases) relative to those with no previous MHT use was 2.74 (95% confidence interval (CI): 2.05-3.65) for a median duration of 5.4 years of current use, reaching 3.27 (95% CI: 1.53-6.99) at 15+ years of use. The excess HR was underestimated by 53% if oestrogen plus progestogen MHT use was not updated after recruitment, 13% if women with uncertain menopausal age were included, and 59% if both applied. The HR for oestrogen-only MHT was not increased (HR=1.00; 95% CI: 0.66-1.54).
Conclusions: Lack of updating MHT status through follow-up and inclusion of women with inferred menopausal age is likely to result in substantial underestimation of the excess relative risks for oestrogen plus progestogen MHT use in studies with long follow-up, limited updating of exposures, and changing or short durations of use.
British Journal of Cancer (2016) 115, 607-615. doi:10.1038/bjc.2016.231
Saturday, August 27, 2016
MD: Jury convicts woman in Cecil County molestation case
ELKTON — A woman is facing 15 to 105 years in prison after a jury convicted her of all charges in a case in which she stood accused of molesting a boy while babysitting him inside his Cecil County home over a three-year period – starting when he was 8 and she was 29.
Jurors deliberated about 30 minutes on Friday before finding the defendant, Nichole L. Rodecker, 33, guilty of child sex abuse, second-degree rape and two counts each of second-degree sex offense and third-degree sex offense.
Rodecker, who lives in the 200 block of Red Pump Road near Rising Sun, will remain free on bond until sentencing, which is expected to occur in six to eight weeks.
Moments after the jury returned the guilty verdicts on all counts, Retired Cecil County Circuit Court Judge O. Robert Lidums denied a motion by Assistant State’s Attorney Mary Burnell to revoke Rodecker’s bond.
Burnell had asserted that Rodecker had been convicted of six felonies after a three-day trial and, therefore, should be put back in jail and should remain incarcerated until sentencing.
Rodecker’s defense lawyer, Robert Edmund Surmacz, countered that Rodecker, whom he described as “a new mother,” needs to take care of a “her three-week-old child.” Surmacz also argued that Rodecker had appeared for all of her previous court hearings without problem.
The boy, now 12, testified Wednesday that Rodecker started molesting him at some point when he was in third grade and that the sexual abuse grew in frequency and intensity over the next two years. Rodecker had been his babysitter since he was 4, he noted.
Rodecker started by touching his private area about once a week over his clothing, sometimes when he was on the couch watching television, sometimes when she woke him up in the morning or put him to bed at night, according to the boy’s testimony.
She also walked into the bathroom when he was using the toilet and into the bedroom when he was changing, always opening a closed door to do so and always “making up an excuse” when he asked why, he testified.
When he was in the fourth grade, Rodecker started touching him under his clothes and later started making him take off his clothes for the fondling, he said. The molestation occurred “two or three times a week,” he added.
According to the boy’s testimony, the molesting increased to an estimated four times a week when he was in the fifth grade.
He also testified that, during that year, Rodecker started performing a sex act on him, in addition to fondling him and making him touch her naked body. In addition, according to the boy’s testimony, Rodecker forced him into another sex act.
“I didn’t understand what was happening,” the boy testified.
But toward the end of fifth grade, the boy had a class in which he learned about “good touch” and “bad touch” and he started to grasp that he had been victimized, he told jurors.
“It felt weird. It happened to me,” he testified.
Still, he didn’t feel able to tell his parents, teachers or authorities.
“I didn’t know what she (Rodecker) would do,” the boy told jurors. He also testified that Rodecker classified the molestation as a “secret.”
In addition, the boy did not come forward because the subject made him “embarrassed, uncomfortable,” he testified.
Prosecutors reported that the molestation stopped by the time the boy reached sixth grade, at some point after Rodecker had learned that he would be taking a sex education class as part of his curriculum.
The boy told his mother about the molestation in November 2015 and later his father. His parents live apart, with the mother residing in Cecil County and the father in Baltimore County.
He first revealed the molestation around Thanksgiving – two days after Rodecker had informed the family that she no longer would be the babysitter because she “wanted to move on with her life” and quit, the boy recalled on the stand.
“I didn’t care because of all the things she had done to me. I was really kind of happy,” the boy testified when Burnell asked how the news of Rodecker leaving made him feel.
During a police interview on Feb. 5, Rodecker admitted to engaging the youngster in fondling and sex acts and explained that she did so because “he was curious,” according to a videotape of that interview, which prosecutors played for jurors.
Rodecker provided detectives detailed accounts of the sexual encounters that she initiated with the boy, and they essentially mirrored the accounts that boy had given to investigators.
But at trial, the defense maintained that investigators had coerced Rodecker into her confessions and that the boy had fabricated the molestation. Rodecker testified Thursday that she felt intimidated, so she told investigators what she thought they wanted to hear.
Burnell scoffed at Rodecker’s explanation during her closing argument Friday, however, emphasizing that the array of details given by Rodecker matched the multitude of details given by boy, although they were interviewed separately and at different times.
“The details were stunningly the same. She gave the same details (as the boy) about every instance,” Burnell told the jurors and asked, “Why on earth would she give the same details about the same encounters?”
There was one exception.
While Rodecker painted the boy as the initiator of the fondling and sex acts – the age of consent for sex in Maryland is 16 – the youngster testified that Rodecker forced him to touch her and engage in sex acts and that whenever he tried to move away, Rodecker would pull him closer.
On the witness stand, the boy used the word “weird” several times to describe how he felt physically and emotionally during those incidents with Rodecker. He also described the sound that Rodecker made when he touched her and how her body felt.
Maryland State Police Det. Sgt. Steven Juergens tells Rodecker in the recorded police interview that the boy provided “details that a 12-year-old wouldn’t know about unless he experienced them.”
Hillary Clinton Denounces the ‘Alt-Right,’ and the Alt-Right Is Pleased
Below is the NYT take on the Alt-Right. Since I am often seen as Alt-Right, I think I am in a position to give a more accurate perspective.
For a start, in its best misleading style, the NYT lumps together all sorts of quite different interest groups. If there is a discernible common theme in Alt-Right writings, it is probably a belief that racial differences are real and that some of those differences matter. And I think you just have to walk around with your eyes open to see that. But where you go from there is quite various. Stormfront, for instance, is clearly neo-Nazi and I never go there. Vdare, on the other hand, I do read occasionally and I have donated to them. But I see Vdare as just old-fashioned conservatives. They would be Republicans if Republicans could bring themselves to mention racial differences. But Republicans have been thoroughly cowed by the Left so that is not going to happen.
I myself think that most racial differences are trivial or temporary but some are not. And I don't think America will have good public policy until the real differences between blacks and whites are acknowledged and integrated into public policy. For instance, there should be special schools using high-discipline policies for those blacks who are unable to adapt to traditional white classrooms. White education would thus no longer be held back and the blacks concerned might actually learn something for a change.
And let there be no doubt that the real racists are the Left. They never stop agitating about black "inequality" and they have in place a whole raft of laws and regulations that are as racially discriminatory as Jim Crow. And they are consistent in that Jim Crow laws were the work of Democrats too. Race, race, race dominates their thinking. It has got to the ridiculous stage in some schools where blacks cannot be punished for misbehavior unless whites and Asians are being punished at a similar rate. And since black kids are much more unruly, that leads to a very serious breakdown of order and means that all the students learn very little in the course of their education.
So, as usual, Leftists have turned reality on its head. They are themselves the most zealous racists but, with their unending torrents of abuse, they have managed to pin the racist label on other people. Leftists DO see differences between blacks and whites but no-one else is allowed to. Crazy.
So, one thing that would unite all those described as Alt-Right is the view that the "forgiveness" of disruptive and violent black behavior should end. There should be one law for all, impartially enforced.
The only other commonality that I see in the alleged "Alt-Right" is a respect for traditional European values. Britain, Western Europe and their derivative societies have created modern civilization and the modern world generally. Western European culture (including U.S. culture) has been enormously creative and its influence extends worldwide. A trivial but instructive example of that is that young Japanese females these days sometimes blond their hair! The European example is a powerful influence in just about everything these days
But where you go from acknowledging that is another matter. Most Alt-Righters would simply be pleased to have their membership of a dominant civilization generally acknowledged. They don't seek "white supremacy" at all. Why? Because they already have it! Their culture and laws already rule the roost. The Left devote demonic energies trying to tear down the dominant culture and its systems but they can only nibble at the edges. Alt-Righters would mostly be happy if the Left simply became constructive rather than destructive -- but that is an impossible dream, of course.
The Alt-Right does however explore a variety of possibilities for protecting European-descended people from hostile minorities. The phenomenon of "white flight" suggests that most Americans have some wishes in that direction.
And even Abraham Lincoln wanted to send all the blacks back to Africa. So was the Great Emancipator a racist? In the addled thinking of the modern Left, he was. What the Left will not see is something well-accepted in law -- that motives matter. Wanting to protect yourself and those like you from harm is radically different from wanting to do harm to others. And such different motives will produce quite different behavior sets.
But because the thinking categorizes people by race, it is racist, according to the Left. You can categorize people in all sorts of ways but the one way in which you must not categorize people is by race, according to the Left.
There is also a libertarian take here on the Alt-Right. Again it is over-inclusive. Very little of what it says would apply to all Alt-Right thinkers.
For instance, it says: "What is the alt-right theory of history? The movement inherits a long and dreary tradition of thought from Friedrich Hegel to Thomas Carlyle to Oswald Spengler to Madison Grant to Othmar Spann to Giovanni Gentile to Trump’s speeches"
That is an amazing lumping together of disparates, mostly Communists and Fascists. Hegel, for instance, was the inspiration of Karl Marx, not the Alt-right. And the article goes downhill from there.
So let people do a bit of Googling and read for themselves what the various Alt-Right sites say. You won't agree with them all but you may agree with some -- JR
As Hillary Clinton assailed Donald J. Trump on Thursday for fanning the flames of racism embraced by the “alt-right,” the community of activists that tends to lurk anonymously in the internet’s dark corners could hardly contain its glee.
Mrs. Clinton’s speech was intended to link Mr. Trump to a fringe ideology of conspiracies and hate, but for the leaders of the alt-right, the attention from the Democratic presidential nominee was a moment in the political spotlight that offered a new level of credibility. It also provided a valuable opportunity for fund-raising and recruiting.
Jared Taylor, editor of the white nationalist publication American Renaissance, live-tweeted Mrs. Clinton’s remarks, questioning her praise of establishment Republicans and eagerly anticipating her discussion of his community. “Come on, Hillary,” he wrote. “Talk about Alt Right.”
In an ode to Mr. Trump’s characterization of Jeb Bush, Mr. Taylor described her speech as “low energy.”
Other white nationalists mocked Mrs. Clinton, saying she sounded like a neoconservative and a “grandma,” while welcoming the publicity.
Mr. Trump has publicly kept his distance from the alt-right, but his critics have accused him of offering subtle cues to invite its support. His appointment of Stephen K. Bannon, the head of Breitbart News, to be chief executive of his campaign was cheered by alt-right members who are avid readers of the Breitbart website.
The alt-right claims to support the preservation of white culture in the United States, and many of its members want to see an overhaul of the entire political system. However, its views are widely seen as white supremacist and anti-Semitic.
Many who align themselves with alt-right philosophies say that they do not subscribe to all of Mr. Trump’s policies, but that electing him would be a step in the right direction because of his “America First” worldview and his hard line on immigration. This week, some expressed disappointment that Mr. Trump appeared to be softening his tone on deporting people who are in the country illegally.
Richard B. Spencer, the president of the white-nationalist National Policy Institute, who is credited with coming up with the name “alt-right,” pushed back against claims that the group promotes violence and said in a statement that there was a double standard at play.
“While Hillary & Co. condemn the alt-right — nonviolent activists seeking social change, largely through a vibrant internet presence — she allows noted supporters of terror to attend her rallies and has never once disavowed the actions of domestic terrorists associated with Black Lives Matter,” Mr. Spencer said.
Mrs. Clinton’s public criticism of the alt-right could turn out to be a boon for the movement, and its members did their best to capitalize on the moment.
Some, in an effort to show a lighthearted side, circulated footage of Mr. Taylor playing the saxophone at the group’s most recent conference. The white nationalist website VDare published a “What Is the Alt-Right?” video and blasted out a fund-raising pitch warning, “Hillary wants to ignite a witch hunt against the alt-right because she knows we are finally starting to make an impact on the public’s thinking about immigration.” And the Stormfront forum set up an online thread for potential new members.
After Mrs. Clinton’s speech, one group of white nationalists convened a 90-minute videoconference that was broadcast on YouTube. The consensus was that Mrs. Clinton was “toothless” and “lackluster,” and they expressed disappointment that she had not mentioned alt-right leaders by name. She made reference only to David Duke, the former Klansman whose support Mr. Trump was slow to disavow.
Although the alt-right tried to put its best foot forward, there was plenty of venom directed at Mrs. Clinton, and the conspiracy theories ran wild. A popular attack was the continuing effort to raise questions about her health.
By addressing the alt-right in such a prominent setting, Mrs. Clinton ran the risk of helping its cause. But Richard Cohen, the president of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, dismissed the idea that Mrs. Clinton was doing the public a disservice by drawing attention to the alt-right.
“I think every public official ought to denounce racism, and that is what Secretary Clinton did,” Mr. Cohen said, noting that the alt-right ideology opposes the notion that all people are equal.
Referring to the term “alt-right,” which was trending on Twitter, he added, “It is a fancy, almost antiseptic term for white supremacy in the digital world.”
Up to his neck in work... literally!
One utility worker has left the internet stunned after he literally dived into his work while trying to fix a leaking pipe. Jimmie Cox, from Granbury, Texas, was photographed face down in a puddle of muddy water by homeowner Andrea Adams on Tuesday.
Adams said she called Acton Municipal Utility District on Tuesday to report a leak coming from a pipe running under her front lawn. Cox showed up, before digging down through the turf in order to locate a one inch pipe that had burst below ground.
Adams said she walked into her house as Cox was working, and when she came back out she saw him submerged as he reached down through five feet of dirty water in order to clamp the line.
Cox is equally astounded by the attention the image is garnering, though says diving into flooded lawns is nothing new in his line of work. Eventually he managed to stop the leak"
Friday, August 26, 2016
My life as an outsider
Being an outsider is much decried these days. That everybody should be "included" in everything is the hot gospel of the modern-day Left. Men are not to be included in women's "safe spaces" and conservatives are not to be included in university debates, but let that ride.
So let me put forward the outlandish proposition that one can be quite happy as an outsider. If you are of an envious disposition it might not be possible but there are a lot of folks of a contented disposition and they have it made. They don't get burned up by much at all. I am one of them.
I was in fact an outsider from the time when I was a child until the day I retired. At school I had absolutely no interest in any sport or game. Doing the crossword was as near as I came to that and I did not do that often. But I was born and bred in a small Australian country town where the entire social life revolved around sport. So I was as complete an outsider as I could possibly be there. I was on a few occasions abused over it and called a poofter [homosexual] etc. The fact that I have now been married four times probably gives the lie to that last accusation.
But it was all water off a duck's back to me. I read books, initially kids books of English origin. So mentally, I lived a lot of the time as a prewar English schoolboy. It was vastly different from the world about me but that just made it more interesting. The English schoolboy had few fears about nature, nettles mainly. Whereas in my tropical environment I had to know about crocodiles and sharks that might eat you, pretty fruit which could send you blind if you ate it, jellyfish that could sting you to death and a great range of highly poisonous snakes and spiders. You could die within half an hour of being bitten by some of them. So, odd as it might seem, I had a happy childhood and never got bitten by anything other than mosquitoes. I lived in the world of the mind.
I didn't actually learn to read until I was 7. Kindergarten and pre-school were rarities in that time and place -- and childminding was generally informal. My parents were also great readers but saw no need to prepare me in any way for school. They had no ambitions for me where school might be important. So I was fascinated when I got my first ABC book at age 6 and remember it vividly to this day.
But I caught on rapidly and was reading well from our reading book by the end of the year. One tale I have told before, but which still amuses me, was when the class was doing chain reading. One kid would read one sentence, the next kid would read the next sentence and so on. We got pretty good at it. So eventually the teacher asked us to close our books and read the same sentences again. Everyone could. I was the only one who could not. I was the only kid who had been reading. The other kids just memorized it. Young memories are very good. I initially got a few scornful looks from the other kids but that turned to amazement when the teacher praised me.
I think it was from that point on that my exclusion started. The other kids could see that I was different from them and mostly avoided me from then on. And the blue boy story reinforced that. But there were a couple of kids who did talk to me.
One rather important thing that I had in common with the English boys that I read about was an Eton education. I did not in fact attend that illustrious institution in Berkshire but I had much the same curriculum at my school. Politicians of the day wanted "the best" for their children and English Public Schools were indisputably the best at that time. So little working class kids in country towns had to learn their Latin declensions and read poems about daffodils, skylarks, nightingales etc. And I did. Though in my environment, instead of the "blithe spirit" of the skylark, we had the "demonic laugh" of the Kookaburra. I was even introduced to Chaucer and Homer, which pleases me to this day.
For most of the students exposed to such "irrelevant" arcana, it went in one ear and out the other -- but I remembered it all. So I didn't have the pressures that the kids at Eton underwent but I could have passed any of their exams as easily as they could. So I in fact had good opportunities before me and I took them.
And when I got to university, I was also an outsider, though for different reasons. Being a contented soul, I have always been a conservative. Being contented is a pretty good definition of being conservative. But universities are of course a hotbed of Leftism. Lots of people there think the world about them is all wrong and they know how to fix it.
I had however done some very wide reading in my teens -- Aeschuylus, Sophocles, Plato, Herodotus, Augustine of Hippo, Thucydides, Descartes, Aquinas etc -- and was already aware of the Leibnitzian doctrine that we may live in the best of all possible worlds. The point of the doctrine is that some bad things may be an inevitable outcome of good things and that one might therefore destroy good things while trying to destroy bad things. The long history of Leftist "solutions" to problems having "unexpected" and destructive "side effects" certainly validates the Leibnitz doctrine.
So I was skeptical of the intellectual miasma of Leftism from the day I set foot in a university. And it showed. In response to some Leftist assertion, I would say: "But what about....". And there is nothing a Leftist hates more than debate. To challenge his beliefs is to attack his person. But I was not discouraged. I was quite active in student politics, disrupting the cosy consensus wherever I could -- and having a lot of fun in the process. I did have some friends, mostly from Catholic DLP families, but I was otherwise as excluded as could be. I did however join one of the part-time army units hosted by the University of Qld, and that delivered a degree of fellowship.
When I was doing my Ph.D. at Macquarie university, I kept a fairly low political profile. I made no secret of my conservative thoughts but tended to present them in a humorous and self-deprecatory way so that it didn't put people offside. So I had a pretty normal social life for those two years.
So when I applied for a job teaching sociology at the University of NSW, enquiries were made at Macquarie and nobody mentioned my politics. So I got the job -- appointed WITH TENURE. So they couldn't fire me. The Sociology school was a hotbed of Marxism so it very rapidly came up that I saw old Karl as nothing more than an obsolete economist. Everybody was rather staggered but they were in fact pretty nice to me. I was certainly not included in a lot of things but I did get invited to some of their parties. They were generally pretty decent people. They were like theological students, actually. They read and studied their Marxist writings as avidly as fundamentalist Protestant Christians read and study their Bibles.
So am I included now? I am, in a sort of a way. I mostly socialize with family and old friends these days. And my brother, my son, my stepson and the lady in my life all have conservative views similar to mine. If, on some social occasion, I attribute some bad weather event to "global warming", everybody laughs. So at age 72 I look back on a very happy life of exclusion. Anyone can do it. You just adjust to it.
I must concede however that I was in a much better position to be an outsider than most. Two things I inherited from my very independent mother were a clear help: I was born with great self-confidence and a low social need. Because I was very self-confident, the disapproval of most people I came into contact with me did not dent me a bit: Duck's back stuff.
And my low social need meant that as long as there was someone in the world who thought well of me, I felt no distress that many people did not think well of me. So I am happily a great skeptic: I don't believe in Jesus Christ, Mohammed, Karl Marx or the evils of dietary fat, salt and sugar. I actually doubt that there is such a thing as "healthy" food. Can you get more skeptical than that?
FOOTNOTES: "Demonic laughter" is the way early English
British Keystone Kops blow up pesto sandwich after being called to investigate suspicious package
A bomb squad blew up a pesto sandwich after being called to investigate a suspicious package at London Bridge. Officers closed off a busy high street on Sunday afternoon after a brown bag was discovered at a bus stop close to The Shard and London Bridge train station.
After an investigation, police decided to execute a controlled explosion on the package, which splattered pesto and bread across shop windows. Eye witness Adam Smith had tried to walk through Borough High Street, south London, but was stopped at a police cordon.
'Standing at the bus stop chuckling to myself as I keep seeing more evidence of the sandwich explosion. 'There is pesto on the first floor windows.'
Thursday, August 25, 2016
Tall men are winners
With regards to male body shape, research often focuses on the importance of height. Indeed, although the preference for a 'tall, dark, handsome stranger' is a cliche, there is a biological basis for this preference, with only healthy high quality men able to invest the physical resources required to develop tall stature. Hence, height is associated with positive physical and mental health.
It is also related to important social outcomes such as social status, educational success, and income. This may reflect perceptions tall men are more assertive and dominant than shorter men. Consequently, research suggests tall men are more desirable to women and are themselves able to attract more attractive partners.
Wonder of wonders! A Greenie tries to debate a skeptic
Professional environmentalist Phil Williamson has responded to an article by James Delingpole rubbishing the ocean acidification scare.
Straight out of the gate Williamson reveals himself as a subscriber to Greenie lies. He accepts recent claims that bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef has been drastic and sweeping and adds that "Population recovery, through re-colonisation and re-growth, typically takes 10-15 years". Does it now? Then how come a recent extensive survey of the reef by diving professionals found that less than five per cent of coral has died off — compared to the 50 to 60 per cent estimated by Greenie scientists. Instead of 10-15 years, recovery happened in a matter of months. No alarm there!
The article is very long-winded but consists mainly of appeals to authority and "ad hominem" attacks on skeptics. Rather than addressing the scientific evidence quoted, Williamson disparages the academic qualifications of skeptics. Such arguments are disreputable and of no logical force.
I can't imagine doing any kind of fisking of such a lot of wind so I will close my comments with what I think is the fatal flaw in Williamson's article. Delingpole does mention it in passing but makes far too little of it in my opinion.
The point is that ocean acidification and global warming CANNOT occur at the same time. One is incompatible with the other. Why? Because a warmer ocean would OUTGAS CO2, thus reducing the carbonic acid that it forms. A warmer world would have LESS acid oceans.
And if you want to see warm water outgassing CO2 just open a can of Coke without refrigrerating it first. You will get a gas-powered torrent.
Williamson and his friends carefully talk about CO2 levels but fail to mention their founding gospel -- that CO2 rises pump up the global temperature. So if Williamson wants to raise concerns about ocean acidification, he has to DENY that a CO2 rise would cause global warming. I somehow suspect that he is not ready to do that.
So his whole scare is an act of gross hypocrisy and scientific dishonesty. And scientific dishonesty is no science at all. Those who indulge in it should be totally disregarded -- along with any of the alleged "evidence" for their cause.
GBR coral survey
Wednesday, August 24, 2016
Pulaski County judge allows rape suspect's interview at trial; woman accused of sex with boy, 13
A Pulaski County circuit judge on Monday rejected defense arguments that a 31-year-old female sex offender didn't know what she was doing when she admitted to police she had sex with a 13-year-old boy.
Tameka Kay Williams of North Little Rock is charged with rape, which carries a potential life sentence.
Williams told North Little Rock detective Julie Eckert that she had sex once with the boy after he had pursued and seduced her, according to the recording of the 27-minute police interview played in court for the judge.
On the recording, Williams said the boy looked young, but he wouldn't tell her how old he was. Williams said she would not have had sex with him if she'd known his age.
"I laid up with him one time," Williams, a mother of four, told Eckert on the recording. "He said, 'I'm old enough to show you what's going on.' He said, 'I know you're a grown woman and you want grown man things.'"
Judge Herb Wright found no wrongdoing by police in how Williams was questioned. His ruling will allow deputy prosecutor Michelle Quiller to use the interview at Williams' trial next month.
Quiller urged the judge to reject arguments that Williams didn't understand what she was doing when she submitted to the police interview.
Quiller pointed out that state doctors who examined Williams when the judge had questions about her mental state diagnosed her as malingering in June, meaning she was either faking or exaggerating symptoms of mental disease.
The defendant has been prosecuted before on similar grounds, Quiller said. She was able to give a detailed interview about what occurred between her and the 13-year-old boy, answer the detective's questions appropriately, and said she understood that having sex with a child is wrong, the prosecutor said.
Williams is on probation for a 2005 conviction for fourth-degree sexual assault involving a 14-year-old boy in April 2004, when she was 21.
Monday, August 22, 2016
NOTE: I am going into hospital later today for a rather complex procedure -- so I may not be blogging for a couple of days -- JR
I don’t need air conditioning, and neither do you
What the writer below says is perfectly correct. I have lived almost all my life in the tropics and subtropics but it is only recently that I have got AC. And to this day it is relatively unusual for Australian homes to have AC.
But it is not for others to tell us what we need. That is a personal decision. In my case, my advancing years made me less able to cope happily with temperature extremes so I had an inverter installed in my bedroom/study.
Leftists always think that they can dictate what people need but that is just their usual Fascistic arrogance. In the case below the subtext is is that we should not use AC because it consumes electricity, which in turn causes global warming. The fact that there has been no anthropogenic global warming for nearly 20 years is not considered.
The reality is that we live in an age of unprecedented abundance in all sorts of ways and the Greenies for their own misanthropic reasons have been trying to stop that.
Below is a picture of Bill McKibben, a prominent Warmist. To me he looks batshit crazy, a man obsessed. Would you want him telling you what you need?
It’s time to come out of the closet. Or, more precisely, the sweat lodge.
My family lives without air conditioning, except for one antique, semi-comatose window unit that “cools” the bedroom to approximately the same temperature as Dallas at dusk.
Our house in Philadelphia was built in the 1920s, when people were tough and resourceful. For most of the year, the house is cool and pleasant, as long as there isn’t a mash-up of continuously scorching days and epic humidity, when the air is putrid, stagnant and, if it were a color, would definitely be mustard.
Which would be this summer. Which, so far, is the fourth-hottest summer on record in the Washington area. Emphasis on so far. NASA reports that July was the Earth’s hottest in recorded history. Cheer up, people say to those of us without air conditioning, September’s coming. Except people forget that most of September is still summer.
There are people among you, friends even, who live without artificial cooling during what are affectionately known as the dog days of summer. One-third of American households don’t have air conditioning, according to the Energy Department. Many of those, of course, can’t afford it, but people don’t like AC for a variety of reasons beyond cost: environmental, aesthetic, nostalgic, social and cultural.
And, yes, to humble-brag, which I may be doing right now, about our greater tolerance, lower carbon footprint and puny electric bills, which are half the temperature outside.
Clinical social worker Olivia Snyder lives on the fifth floor of a Philadelphia apartment building with southern exposure and no air conditioning. It gets so hot, she says, “I don’t want to turn on the burners, let alone the oven.”
But window units offend her. “Air conditioners are ugly. I really like the view,” she says. Also, “I hate sleeping with the noise. I’m super-weird about noise.”
There are people who are living without air conditioning in places far hotter than the East Coast. In 2009, Chris George, now a Washington Post digital editor, voluntarily gave up air conditioning for a year while living in the inhumane heat of Tempe, Ariz., mostly out of environmental concern. “I’ve been called many variations of the word ‘insane,’ ” George wrote in the Arizona Republic of the experiment, during which temperatures reached 103 degrees inside his home. But he also learned that “comfort is really just what you’re used to.”
There are a thousand reasons my family does without central air. Actually, several thousand.
Installing central air would be a profoundly expensive enterprise, involving a cavalcade of zeros and most likely new, less-beautiful windows. When our children ask why we’re still sweating it analog-style, and our house feels like a Tennessee Williams stage set but without the fetching undergarments and crippling dysfunction, we answer, “College tuition, vacations, cheese. You know, things like that.”
Also, I don’t like the hermetic feel of central air, the way it reduces everything to an artificial hum and makes you feel isolated from the environment, your body’s natural responses and, depending on your age, all the summers of your youth.
Air conditioning is not sultry or mysterious. It has no place in pulp fiction or film noir. The movie “Body Heat” is set in a small Florida town in 1981 yet is completely devoid of central air, which manages to make absolutely everything seem sexy — ice cubes, sweat, even wind chimes, which are generally just annoying.
There are positive aspects of going without. Fewer house guests. More dinner invitations. That humble-bragging business. Showers. I can’t tell you how rewarding showers feel. And ice cream tastes way better.
Rabbit cafe opens its doors in Hong Kong to animal lovers
The newest addition to Hong Kong's cafe scene is taking a soft approach to business - and the hosts are all ears. 'Rabbitland' offers a new breed of dining experience, with 12 resident bunnies who munch on grass while customers pet them between sips of tea.
Tucked away on the third floor of a high-rise in the busy commercial district of Causeway Bay, the cafe says it gives people who have no room to keep a pet in space-starved Hong Kong the chance to bond with the fluffy animals.
Most of the rabbits have been abandoned by previous owners, and aren't on sale. 'I like how soft they are and like their fur and how gentle they are when you feed them,' says Natalie Chan, 11, whose mother had brought her to find out more about keeping rabbits as she wants one as a pet"
Sunday, August 21, 2016
Racism or a realistic perception of danger?
A farmer in Saskatchewan lives near a "First Nations" (Canadian Indian) settlement and there has been a great deal of crime among the Indians concerned. So when he saw a carload of Indians driving onto his farm, he fired first and asked questions later. He was probably too impulsive but if you were in fear of being violently attacked, you might shoot first too.
The shooting was undoubtedly based on a perception of racial differences but it was also a realistic perception of racial differences. So are we here dealing with realism rather than racism in any other sense?
That the farmer has been charged with murder has enraged many Saskatchewan whites who think he acted reasonably in self defence. They back up that belief with many critical comments about Indians which justify the farmer's fear. Are such comments "hate speech" or are they a reasonable comment on real differences? A bit of both, perhaps
Comments like “He should have shot all five of them (and) be given a medal” and “his only mistake was leaving three witnesses.” undoubtedly express hate but what has provoked that hate? Two things mainly, dysfunctional Indian behaviour and coddling of Indians by the government.
Government favoritism is undoubtedly a great way to poison white attitudes to Indians. Racism begets racism. A new system in which Indians and whites are treated equally would undoubtedly do much to defuse tensions. A perception of injustice would be removed and a perception of injustice is almost always a great source of anger. But such a reform will not happen while Pretty Boy runs Canada. Odd how Leftists are great preachers of equality but are in fact major sources of unequal treatment. Wouldn't it be great if Leftists had some real principles that they stuck by?
Much has been said and written in recent days about racism following the shooting death of a young man on the Northwestern Saskatchewan farm of Gerald Stanley, who stands charged with murder.
What happened that day to 22-year-old Colten Boushie was tragic; for his family, loved ones and community it is an unimaginable loss.
Racism against aboriginal people in this province is very real. It is part of a long and sad chapter of our history and culture.
As recently as the late 1990s, an interesting analysis of this was undertaken by Mr. Justice Ron Barclay of the Court of Queen’s Bench when asked to rule that prospective jurors in a murder trial could be questioned on their perceptions of an aboriginal accused.
He wrote: “Widespread anti-aboriginal racism is a grim reality in Canada and in Saskatchewan. It exists openly and blatantly in attitudes and actions of individuals.
“It exists privately in the fears, in the prejudices and stereotypes held by many people and it exists in our institutions. Furthermore, examination of racism as it impacts specifically on aboriginal people suggests they are prime victims of racial prejudice.”
What possessed a landowner to allegedly pull out a loaded gun? All the self-defence laws in the world will not excuse the use of lethal force for trespassing on land.
The context of life in rural Saskatchewan will be considered, where increasingly vandalism, thefts and occasionally grotesque acts of violence befall some farm families that are alone and living miles away from help.
The area around Colten’s hometown of the Red Pheasant Cree Nation is particularly notorious.
It is where the execution-style slaying of two men happened on a nearby farm in 1994; recently stolen cars from Wilkie appear on Red Pheasant; in 2005, a family at Cando, fed up after eight attacks in a year, said they were being driven off their farm after two Red Pheasant men and several youths trashed their farm, set vehicles ablaze and looted their house.
Racism happens when someone becomes a target not for what they did but for what they look like, or, in this case, where they live. The death of young Colten Boushie, in the wrong place at the wrong time, deserves answers.
There are many facts yet to be revealed. Allowing the courts, the rule of law and justice to prevail is the correct first step.
Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).