Mar 17, 2017


Q&A

Welcome To Life At The Beach
Updated 01/17
 

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 About These Blogs

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“Perspective gives us the ability to accurately contrast the large with the small, and the important with the less important. Without it we are lost in a world where all ideas, news, and information look the same. We cannot differentiate, we cannot prioritize, and we cannot make good choices. “ -John Sununu 

Today there are so many talking heads who daily bombard the airwaves, magazines and periodicals with their version of events and issues that affect our lives and the world. And with so many jabbers reporting what is taking place at home and abroad, often it becomes difficult to distinguish what’s accurate and what’s not. Thus, it’s up to each of us to dig below the headlines to distinguish fact from fiction in order to make a near clean conscience decision as to what the truth might be.

These Blogs are filled with articles and opinions that is not necessarily headlines or openly discussed. It's also filled with an accumulation of insightful information for a bit more clarity of the issues, including pictures and videos for your entertainment.

It's my hope that these blogs will be an open window for a better understanding of the world around us, and through this understanding try and make life better for all. There is no one perfect way, but hopefully with eyes open we can rise above the hype and find mutual awareness that will, hopefully, resolve our differences. It’s also a place where readers, like you, can contribute to the conversation.

Blogs

Life At The Beach is strictly about opinions and information seldom included into headline news. It attempts to point beyond the headlines to allow you the reader to understand what the issues might truly be, ugly or otherwise.

Faith is pretty much a mirror of Life At The Beach. The difference, Faith Blog is spiritual without the “religion”. It’s not about converting, but solely to enlighten, as well as challenge our faith. Since faith is a personal journey it’s important to be knowledgeable of the facts in order to avoid being manipulated by a system that is prtty much void of the truth.

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Journal and My Dezigns are my own. My Journal is filled with post from my own journey through life, and, My Dezigns, is a display of my art and crafts which is available for purchase.

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Always remember, Knowledge is Power. The more you search to understand, life can be a journey filled with enlightened confidence and positive choices.

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Happy St. Patrick's Day
Sona St. La Padraig

Mar 12, 2017

Collapse of Aztec Society

by Ewen Callaway

DNA of 500-year-old bacteria is first direct evidence of an epidemic — one of humanity's deadliest — that occurred after Spanish conquest.

One of the worst epidemics in human history, a sixteenth-century pestilence that devastated Mexico’s native population, may have been caused by a deadly form of salmonella from Europe, a pair of studies suggest.

In one study, researchers say they have recovered DNA of the stomach bacterium from burials in Mexico linked to a 1540s epidemic that killed up to 80% of the country's native inhabitants. The team reports its findings in a preprint posted on the bioRxiv server on February 8.

This is potentially the first genetic evidence of the pathogen that caused the massive decline in native populations after European colonization, says Hannes Schroeder, an ancient-DNA researcher at the Natural History Museum of Denmark in Copenhagen who was not involved in the work. “It’s a super-cool study.”

Dead bodies and ditches

In 1519, when forces led by Spanish conquistador Hernando Cortés arrived in Mexico, the native population was estimated at about 25 million. A century later, after a Spanish victory and a series of epidemics, numbers had plunged to around 1 million.

The largest of these disease outbreaks were known as cocoliztli(from the word for ‘pestilence’ in Nahuatl, the Aztec language). Two major cocoliztli, beginning in 1545 and 1576, killed an estimated 7 million to 18 million people living in Mexico’s highland regions.

“In the cities and large towns, big ditches were dug, and from morning to sunset the priests did nothing else but carry the dead bodies and throw them into the ditches,” noted a Franciscan historian who witnessed the 1576 outbreak.

There has been little consensus on the cause of cocoliztli—although measles, smallpox and typhus have all been mooted. In 2002, researchers at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) in Mexico City proposed that a viral haemorrhagic fever, exacerbated by a catastrophic drought, was behind the carnage. They compared the magnitude of the 1545 outbreak to that of the Black Death in fourteenth-century Europe.

Bacterial genomics

In an attempt to settle the question, a team led by evolutionary geneticist Johannes Krause at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, Germany, extracted and sequenced DNA from the teeth of 29 people buried in the Oaxacan highlands of southern Mexico. All but five were linked to a cocoliztli that researchers think ran from 1545 to 1550.

Ancient bacterial DNA recovered from several of the people matched that of Salmonella, based on comparisons with a database of more than 2,700 modern bacterial genomes.

Further sequencing of short, damaged DNA fragments from the remains allowed the team to reconstruct two genomes of a Salmonella enterica strain known as Paratyphi C. Today, this bacterium causes enteric fever, a typhus-like illness, that occurs mostly in developing countries. If left untreated, it kills 10–15% of infected people.

It’s perfectly reasonable that the bacterium could have caused this epidemic, says Schroeder. “They make a really good case.” But María Ávila-Arcos, an evolutionary geneticist at UNAM, isn't convinced. She notes that some people suggest that a virus caused the cocoliztli, and that wouldn't have been picked up by the team’s method.

The question of origin

Krause and his colleagues’ proposal is helped by another study posted on bioRxiv last week, which raises the possibility that Salmonella Paratyphi C arrived in Mexico from Europe.

A team led by Mark Achtman, a microbiologist at the University of Warwick in Coventry, UK, collected and sequenced the genome of the bacterial strain from the remains of a young woman buried around 1200 in a cemetery in Trondheim, Norway. It is the earliest evidence for the now-rare Salmonella strain, and proof that it was circulating in Europe, according to the study. (Both teams declined to comment on their research because their papers have been submitted to a peer-reviewed journal.)

“Really, what we’d like to do is look at both strains together,” says Hendrik Poinar, an evolutionary biologist at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada. And if more ancient genomes can be collected from Europe and the Americas, it should be possible to find out more conclusively whether deadly pathogens such as Salmonella arrived in the New World from Europe.

The existence of Salmonella Paratyphi C in Norway 300 years before it appeared in Mexico doesn’t prove that Europeans spread enteric fever to native Mexicans, says Schroeder, but that hypothesis is reasonable. A small percentage of people infected with Salmonella Paratyphi C carry the bacterium without falling ill, so apparently healthy Spaniards could have infected Mexicans who lacked natural resistance.

Paratyphi C is transmitted through faecal material, and a collapse of social order during the Spanish conquest might have led to the poor sanitary conditions that are ripe for Salmonella spread, Krause and his team note in the paper.

Krause’s study offers a blueprint for identifying the pathogens behind ancient outbreaks, says Schroeder. His own team plans to look for ancient pathogens in Caribbean burial sites that seem to be linked to catastrophic outbreaks, and that were established after the Europeans arrived. “The idea that some of them might have been caused by Salmonella is now a distinct possibility,” he says. –Scientific America

We The People... Occupy Wall Street

Your Move, Mr. Trump

by John McLaughlin

Why you should care?
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because we could be on the precipice of another Cold War. Or not.

Forget winding down at the end of the year. The last days of 2016 were filled with enough geopolitical drama for a couple seasons of The Americans.

Last week, outgoing U.S. President Barack Obama announced a series of sanctions against Russia over its meddling in the presidential election, booting out dozens of Russian diplomats. President Vladimir Putin declined to retaliate. U.S. President-elect Donald J. Trump, who has pooh-poohed the intelligence community’s assessment of Russia’s involvement in the election, took to Twitter to praise the Russian strongman.

So: Is Putin playing Trump or the other way around, or neither? How serious are these sanctions anyway? And what kind of relationship should we expect between Russia and the United States under a Trump presidency? To get a handle on it, we turned to senior contributor John McLaughlin, former acting director of the CIA. A condensed and edited version of our interview follows.
 
What should we take away from all of this?

Well, commentators and experts will chatter about this for days, but the key point is that we are in uncharted territory. To be sure, we’ve had spats with the Russians for years and with the Soviets before that. But this is the first time we’ve been in a public brawl over cyber issues, with few precedents about how to behave.

How should we interpret Putin’s decision not to retaliate?

Russian president Putin’s decision not to retaliate at this time — at least not overtly — is typically clever. He is playing a shrewd game of chess with incoming President-elect Donald Trump. On the one hand, he’s done Trump a favor by limiting the mess he inherits. On the other hand, if Trump just continues to applaud Putin for this, he risks seeming indifferent to Moscow’s clear interference with our democratic process — and sowing dissension within the Republican Party, where many senior leaders share the alarm over Russia’s intrusion. Your move, Mr. Trump. –Ozy

A Look Into The Past Of The Bigot

by Tucker Hays

Trump aside, Pence is anything but rational. Over nearly two decades in political life, first as a congressman and later as Indiana’s governor, Pence has been one of the leaders in efforts to push extreme conservative ideas—from limiting abortion access to questioning climate change—into public policy.

We’ve covered plenty of these before, but here’s a refresher:
  • In March, Pence signed a bill into law requiring burial or cremation for aborted fetuses.
  • Last month, Pence said he’d like to “send Roe v. Wade to the ash heap of history.”
  • Pence signed a 2015 bill permitting Indiana business owners to cite religious beliefs as a reason to refuse service to gay and lesbian customers.
  • As Indiana’s governor, Pence slashed Planned Parenthood funding, arguably contributing to one county’s HIV outbreak.
  • During his 12 years as a congressman, Pence voted against nearly every piece of environmental legislation.
  • Pence voted to bar the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gases.
  • Pence voted for opening the Atlantic up to offshore oil drilling.
  • As a congressman, Pence gave a floor speech advocating the teaching of creationism in public schools.
  • Pence wrote an op-ed arguing that “smoking doesn’t kill.”
  • Pence has advocated the use of public funds for conversion therapy, a discredited and potentially harmful form of anti-gay therapy.
  • Gov. Pence funneled $3.5 million in Indiana’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds, intended for needy families with children, to crisis pregnancy centers, which counsel women against having abortions.
  • Gov. Pence refused to comply with Obama administration rules aimed at reducing prison rape.
As congressman, Pence voted in favor of a bill that would have allowed for the detention of undocumented immigrants seeking hospital treatment.

Pence co-sponsored a bill in Congress that would have eliminated automatic citizenship for children born on US soil to undocumented parents.

Pence was one of 31 governors to oppose the resettlement of Syrian refugees in his state, declaring that state agencies wouldn’t cover the cost of some social services for Syrian refugees. His behavior earned him a strong rebuke from a panel of three federal judges, including one whom Donald Trump put on his Supreme Court nominee short list. –Backed by Fact

The View From Trump Tower

by David Brooks

If your social circles are like mine, you spent Tuesday night swapping miserable texts. Not all, but many of my friends and family members were outraged, stunned, disgusted and devastated. This is victory for white supremacy, people wrote, for misogyny, nativism and authoritarianism. Fascism is descending.

I was on PBS trying to make sense of what was happening while trying to text various people off the ledge. At one point I was opining about the results while a disbelieving text flashed across my phone: “Change It! Change It! CHAAAANGE IT!”

Those emotional reactions were a fitting first-night response to the greatest political shock of our lifetimes. Still, this is probably not the best mentality for the coming era.

In the first place, emotions like disgust don’t do justice to the complexity of Donald Trump’s supporters. The disgusted posture risks turning politics into a Manichaean civil war between the alleged children of light and the alleged children of darkness — between us enlightened, college-educated tolerant people and the supposed primitive horde driven by dark fears and prejudices. That crude and ignorant condescension is what feeds the Trump phenomenon in the first place.

Second, we simply don’t yet know how much racism or misogyny motivated Trump voters. It is true that those voters are willing to tolerate a lot more bigotry in their candidate than I’d be willing to tolerate. But if you were stuck in a jobless town, watching your friends OD on opiates, scrambling every month to pay the electric bill, and then along came a guy who seemed able to fix your problems and hear your voice, maybe you would stomach some ugliness, too.

Third, outrage and disgust impede learning. This century is still being formed and none of us understand it yet. The century really began on 9/11, and so far it has been marked by strong reactions against globalism and cosmopolitanism — by terrorism, tribalism and authoritarianism.

Populism of the Trump/Le Pen/Brexit variety has always been a warning sign, a warning sign that there is some deeper dysfunction in our economic, social and cultural systems. If you want to take that warning sign and dismiss it as simple bigotry, you’re never going to pause to understand what’s going on and you will never know how to constructively respond.

Finally, it seems important to be humbled and taught by this horrific election result. Trump’s main problem in governing is not going to be some fascistic ideology; his main problem is going to be his own attention span, ignorance and incompetence. If he’s left to bloviate while others are left to run the country and push through infrastructure plans, maybe things won’t be disastrous.

The job for the rest of us is to rebind the fabric of society, community by community, and to construct a political movement for the post-Trump era. I suspect the coming political movements will be identified on two axes: open and closed and individual and social.

Those who believe in open trade, relatively open immigration, an active foreign policy and racial integration. Those who believe in closed believe in protective trade, closed borders, a withdrawn foreign policy and ethnic separatism.

Those who favor individual believe in individual initiative, designing programs to incentivize enterprise and removing regulatory barriers. Those who believe in social believe that social mobility happens within rich communities — that people can undertake daring adventures when they have a secure social and emotional base.

Donald Trump is probably going to make the G.O.P. the party of individual/closed. He’s going to start with the traditional Republican agenda of getting government out of the way, and he’s going to add walls, protectionism and xenophobia. That will leave people isolated in the face of the challenges of the information age economy, and it will close off the dynamism and diversity that always marked this crossroads of the nation.

The Democrats are probably going to be the party of social/closed. The coming Sanders-Warren party will advocate proposals that help communities with early education programs and the like, but that party will close off trade, withdraw from the world, close off integration with hyper-race-conscious categories and close off debate with political correctness.

Which is why I’ve been thinking we need a third party that is social/open. This compassionate globalist party would support the free trade and skilled immigration that fuel growth. But it would also flood the zone for those challenged in the high-skill global economy — offering programs to rebuild community, foster economic security and boost mobility. It would integrate the white working class and minority groups by emphasizing that we are all part of a single American idea.

Trump’s bigotry, dishonesty and promise-breaking will have to be denounced. We can’t go morally numb. But he needs to be replaced with a program that addresses the problems that fueled his ascent.

After all, the guy will probably resign or be impeached within a year. The future is closer than you think. –NY Times

The View From Trump Tower

Enough Yet?

Earth Endangered By New Strain Of Fact-Resistant Humans

by Andy Borowitz

Scientists have discovered a powerful new strain of fact-resistant humans who are threatening the ability of Earth to sustain life, a sobering new study reports.

The research, conducted by the University of Minnesota, identifies a virulent strain of humans who are virtually immune to any form of verifiable knowledge, leaving scientists at a loss as to how to combat them.

“These humans appear to have all the faculties necessary to receive and process information,” Davis Logsdon, one of the scientists who contributed to the study, said. “And yet, somehow, they have developed defenses that, for all intents and purposes, have rendered those faculties totally inactive.”

More worryingly, Logsdon said, “As facts have multiplied, their defenses against those facts have only grown more powerful.”

While scientists have no clear understanding of the mechanisms that prevent the fact-resistant humans from absorbing data, they theorize that the strain may have developed the ability to intercept and discard information en route from the auditory nerve to the brain. “The normal functions of human consciousness have been completely nullified,” Logsdon said.

While reaffirming the gloomy assessments of the study, Logsdon held out hope that the threat of fact-resistant humans could be mitigated in the future. “Our research is very preliminary, but it’s possible that they will become more receptive to facts once they are in an environment without food, water, or oxygen,” he said. –New Yorker

Poor White Trump Fans Are Now Terrified

by Colin Taylor

Now that the election is finally over and Donald Trump is going to be our next president, Trump’s own voters are discovering, to their horror, that Trump might actually go through with what he said he was going to do.

Not the parts about cleansing corruption from Washington, of course. No, the part where he’s going to take away health care from millions of his supporters. Republican have spent the past four years trying to repeal Obamacare a good sixty or so times, so we have a fair idea of what that might look like.

The Urban Policy Institute predicts that based off a “partial repeal plan previously passed by Republicans in Congress, 30 million people would lose insurance, 82 percent of them would be in working families and 56 percent would be white. Among adults who would lose insurance, 80 percent don’t have college degrees.” In other words, Trump’s key demographic groups.

VOX.com’s Senior Editor Sarah Kliff ventured into the heart of Trumpland, where she found anxiety over the Obamacare repeal to be quite high.

Trump voter Debbie Mills told Kliff that “I don’t know what we’ll do if it does go away. I guess I thought that, you know, [Trump] would not do this. That they would not do this, would not take the insurance away. Knowing that it’s affecting so many people’s lives. I mean, what are you to do then if you cannot . . . purchase, cannot pay for the insurance? ”

Mills apparently didn’t take Trump seriously, and supported him for “other reasons:” “I guess we really didn’t think about that, that he was going to cancel that or change that or take it away. I guess I always just thought that it would be there. I was thinking that once it was made into a law that it could not be changed.”

Every American deserves cheap and affordable healthcare as a human right, and we would never be pleased at Trump fans falling sick or dying because their champion turned his back on them. It is difficult to understand, however, why they would have voted for him in the first place if they’re worried about him literally doing the things that he literally said that he would do.

And even if he didn’t, Republicans have retaken both the House and the Senate. Is there anything the Republican Party has done in the past six years to indicate they wouldn’t tear apart Obamacare at the first chance they get, even though the still have no alternative?

Over the next four years, Trump fans – and the president himself – will be learning the hard way that decisions do have consequences. –Occupy Democrats

Pain Perdu With Caramelised Peaches - Gordon Ramsay




Pain Perdu Recipe

You’ll Need:

4 (1/2 inch) slices egg bread
1 egg
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons white sugar
1 pinch salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 pinch ground nutmeg
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup milk
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:
  • Cut the bread and place on a wire rack to dry out a little as you prepare the batter.
  • Whisk the egg to blend. Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in a saucepan or on the stovetop and allow to cool slightly. Whisk the sugar, salt and spices into the egg. When the butter has cooled slightly, slowly drizzle it in to the egg, whisking all the time. A little at a time, add the flour to the egg mixture to make a smooth thick paste. After it is all added, slowly blend in the milk and finally the vanilla. Whisk until just smooth and set aside.
  • Heat the remaining butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Dip a slice of the bread in the batter and allow to soak for 30 seconds, no more. Remove from the batter and allow the excess to drip off, back into the bowl. Place the battered slice in the skillet. Repeat with the remaining slices. Cook until golden on one side and then flip to brown the other. Serve immediately--a fresh squeeze of lemon juice and a good dusting of powdered sugar is traditional.

Jan 29, 2017

The Cult Of Ignorance In The United States

by Ray Williams

There is a growing and disturbing trend of anti-intellectual elitism in American culture. It's the dismissal of science, the arts, and humanities and their replacement by entertainment, self-righteousness, ignorance, and deliberate gullibility.

Susan Jacoby, author of The Age of American Unreason, says in an article in the Washington Post, "Dumbness, to paraphrase the late senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, has been steadily defined downward for several decades, by a combination of heretofore irresistible forces. These include the triumph of video culture over print culture; a disjunction between Americans' rising level of formal education and their shaky grasp of basic geography, science and history; and the fusion of anti-rationalism with anti-intellectualism."

There has been a long tradition of anti-intellectualism in America, unlike most other Western countries. Richard Hofstadter, who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1964 for his book, Anti-Intellectualism In American Life, describes how the vast underlying foundations of anti-elite, anti-reason and anti-science have been infused into America's political and social fabric. Famous science fiction writer Isaac Asimov once said:

    "There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."

Mark Bauerlein, in his book, The Dumbest Generation, reveals how a whole generation of youth is being dumbed down by their aversion to reading anything of substance and their addiction to digital "crap" via social media.

Journalist Charles Pierce, author of Idiot America, adds another perspective:

    "The rise of idiot America today represents - for profit mainly, but also and more cynically, for political advantage in the pursuit of power - the breakdown of a consensus that the pursuit of knowledge is a good. It also represents the ascendancy of the notion that the people whom we should trust the least are the people who best know what they are talking about. In the new media age, everybody is an expert."

    "There's a pervasive suspicion of rights, privileges, knowledge and specialization," says Catherine Liu, the author of American Idyll: Academic Antielitism as Cultural Critique and a film and media studies professor at University of California. The very mission of universities has changed, argues Liu. "We don't educate people anymore. We train them to get jobs."

Part of the reason for the rising anti-intellectualism can be found in the declining state of education in the U.S. compared to other advanced countries:

  • After leading the world for decades in 25-34 year olds with university degrees, the U.S. is now in 12th place. The World Economic Forum ranked the U.S. at 52nd among 139 nations in the quality of its university math and science instruction in 2010. Nearly 50% of all graduate students in the sciences in the U.S. are foreigners, most of whom are returning to their home countries;
  • The Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs commissioned a civic education poll among public school students. A surprising 77% didn't know that George Washington was the first President; couldn't name Thomas Jefferson as the author of the Declaration of Independence; and only 2.8% of the students actually passed the citizenship test. Along similar lines, the Goldwater Institute of Phoenix did the same survey and only 3.5% of students passed the civics test;
  • According to the National Research Council report, only 28% of high school science teachers consistently follow the National Research Council guidelines on teaching evolution, and 13% of those teachers explicitly advocate creationism or "intelligent design;"
  • 18% of Americans still believe that the sun revolves around the earth, according to a Gallup poll;
  • The American Association of State Colleges and Universities report on education shows that the U.S. ranks second among all nations in the proportion of the population aged 35-64 with a college degree, but 19th in the percentage of those aged 25-34 with an associate or high school diploma, which means that for the first time, the educational attainment of young people will be lower than their parents;
  • 74% of Republicans in the U.S. Senate and 53% in the House of Representatives deny the validity of climate change despite the findings of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and every other significant scientific organization in the world;
  • According to the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress, 68% of public school children in the U.S. do not read proficiently by the time they finish third grade. And the U.S. News & World reported that barely 50% of students are ready for college level reading when they graduate;
  • According to a 2006 survey by National Geographic-Roper, nearly half of Americans between ages 18 and 24 do not think it necessary to know the location of other countries in which important news is being made. More than a third consider it "not at all important" to know a foreign language, and only 14 percent consider it "very important;"
  • According to the National Endowment for the Arts report in 1982, 82% of college graduates read novels or poems for pleasure; two decades later only 67% did. And more than 40% of Americans under 44 did not read a single book--fiction or nonfiction--over the course of a year. The proportion of 17 year olds who read nothing (unless required by school ) has doubled between 1984-2004;
  • Gallup released a poll indicating 42 percent of Americans still believe God created human beings in their present form less than 10,000 years ago;
  • A 2008 University of Texas study found that 25 percent of public school biology teachers believe that humans and dinosaurs inhabited the earth simultaneously.
In American schools, the culture exalts the athlete and good-looking cheerleader. Well-educated and intellectual students are commonly referred to in public schools and the media as "nerds," "dweebs," "dorks," and "geeks," and are relentlessly harassed and even assaulted by the more popular "jocks" for openly displaying any intellect. These anti-intellectual attitudes are not reflected in students in most European or Asian countries, whose educational levels have now equaled and and will surpass that of the U.S. And most TV shows or movies such as The Big Bang Theory depict intellectuals as being geeks if not effeminate.

John W. Traphagan, Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Texas, argues the problem is that Asian countries have core cultural values that are more akin to a cult of intelligence and education than a cult of ignorance and anti-intellectualism. In Japan, for example, teachers are held in high esteem and normally viewed as among the most important members of a community. There is suspicion and even disdain for the work of teachers that occurs in the U.S. Teachers in Japan typically are paid significantly more than their peers in the U.S. The profession of teaching is one that is seen as being of central value in Japanese society and those who choose that profession are well compensated in terms of salary, pension, and respect for their knowledge and their efforts on behalf of children.

In addition, we do not see in Japan significant numbers of the types of religious schools that are designed to shield children from knowledge about basic tenets of science and accepted understandings of history - such as evolutionary theory or the religious views of the Founding Fathers, who were largely deists - which are essential to having a fundamental understanding of the world, Traphagan contends. The reason for this is because in general Japanese value education, value the work of intellectuals, and see a well-educated public with a basic common knowledge in areas of scientific fact, math, history, literature, etc. as being an essential foundation to a successful democracy.

We're creating a world of dummies. Angry dummies who feel they have the right, the authority and the need not only to comment on everything, but to make sure their voice is heard above the rest, and to drag down any opposing views through personal attacks, loud repetition and confrontation.

Bill Keller, writing in the New York Times argues that the anti-intellectual elitism is not an elitism of wisdom, education, experience or knowledge. The new elite are the angry social media posters, those who can shout loudest and more often, a clique of bullies and malcontents baying together like dogs cornering a fox. Too often it's a combined elite of the anti-intellectuals and the conspiracy followers - not those who can voice the most cogent, most coherent response. Together they foment a rabid culture of anti-rationalism where every fact is suspect; every shadow holds a secret conspiracy. Rational thought is the enemy. Critical thinking is the devil's tool.

Keller also notes that the herd mentality takes over online; the anti-intellectuals become the metaphorical equivalent of an angry lynch mob when anyone either challenges one of the mob beliefs or posts anything outside the mob's self-limiting set of values.

Keller blames this in part to the online universe that "skews young, educated and attentive to fashions." Fashion, entertainment, spectacle, voyeurism - we're directed towards trivia, towards the inconsequential, towards unquestioning and blatant consumerism. This results in intellectual complacency. People accept without questioning, believe without weighing the choices, join the pack because in a culture where convenience rules, real individualism is too hard work. Thinking takes too much time: it gets in the way of the immediacy of the online experience.

Reality TV and pop culture presented in magazines and online sites claim to provide useful information about the importance of The Housewives of [you name the city] that can somehow enrich our lives. After all, how else can one explain the insipid and pointless stories that tout divorces, cheating and weight gain? How else can we explain how the Kardashians, or Paris Hilton are known for being famous without actually contributing anything worth discussion? The artificial events of their lives become the mainstay of populist media to distract people from the real issues and concerns facing us.

The current trend of increasing anti-intellectualism now establishing itself in politics and business leadership, and supported by a declining education system should be a cause for concern for leaders and the general population, one that needs to be addressed now. –SOTT

Why Do Some Of Us Get Déjà Vu More Often Than Others?

by Jordan Lewis

Here's what we know about who's most likely to experience it.

Many of us know the feeling: You'll be going about your day, minding your own business, folding some laundry—nothing out of the ordinary, when suddenly a sensation of familiarity washes over you, and you're completely aware that it's happening: I've been here before.

Except you haven't. Or have you?

You might try to think back and pinpoint when you'd experienced this moment before. But just as quickly as the feeling hits you, it's gone.

Did you predict the future? Were you seeing something from a past life? What is déjà vu, anyway?

The phenomenon of déjà vu (French for "already seen") is, scientifically, pretty poorly understood, but there are a few theories:
  • Déjà vu may be the result of some sort of "mismatch" in how we're simultaneously sensing and perceiving the world around us. Perhaps we smell something familiar, for example, and our mind is instantly transported to the first time we smelled it. (It's a vague theory, though, and doesn't explain why most déjà vu episodes don't reflect true past events.)
  • Déjà vu may be a fleeting malfunctioning between the long- and short-term circuits in the brain. The information our brain takes in about its surroundings may "shortcut" its way straight to long-term memory, bypassing typical storage transfer mechanisms, so when we have a moment of déjà vu, it feels as though we're experiencing something from our distant past.   
  • A region of the brain called the rhinal cortex, involved in detecting familiarity, may be inexplicably activated without actually activating memory (hippocampal) circuits. That may explain why déjà vu episodes feel so non-specific when we try to figure out where and when we had previously experienced a particular moment. In fact, some patients with epilepsy reliably experience déjà vu at the beginning of a seizure. For these individuals, experimental stimulation of the rhinal cortex — and not so much the hippocampus itself — induces déjà vu.
Déjà vu is estimated to occur in 60-70% of us, most commonly in those between the ages of 15 and 25. Why? We have no idea. Interestingly, though, I had previously written about déjà vu years ago out of my own curiosity on the matter, having experienced it fairly frequently. I'm now 26, though, and can't remember the last time I had an episode.

Are any of these theories correct? We may never know. After all, since episodes of déjà vu are completely unexpected—not to mention, for most of us, extremely rare—real empirical research on the topic is next to impossible. –Psychology Today

A German's View Of Fanaticism

by Emanuel Tanya

Pre-World War II, very few people in my native Germany were true Nazis but many were too busy to care. I was one of those who thought the Nazis were a bunch of fools while the majority just sat back and let it all happen. Before we knew it, the Nazis owned us, and we had lost control, and the end of our former German world had come.
My family lost everything. My family's various businesses & factories were destroyed, and I ended in a Nazi concentration camp.

Today, we are told again and again by experts and talking heads that Islam is a religion of peace and that the vast majority of Muslims just want to live in peace. Although this unqualified assertion may be true, it is entirely irrelevant. It is meaningless fluff meant to make us feel better, and meant to somehow diminish the specter of fanatics rampaging across the globe in the name of Islam.

The fact is that the fanatics rule Islam at this moment in history.
  • It is the Islamic fanatics who march.
  • It is the Islamic fanatics who wage any one of 50 shooting wars worldwide.
  • It is the Islamic fanatics who systematically slaughter Christian or tribal groups throughout Africa and are gradually taking over the entire African continent in an Islamic wave.
  • It is the Islamic fanatics who bomb, behead, murder, and honor-kill.
  • It is the Islamic fanatics who take over mosque after mosque.
  • It is the Islamic fanatics who zealously spread the stoning and hanging of rape victims and homosexuals.
  • It is the Islamic fanatics who teach their young to kill and to become suicide bombers.
  • The hard, quantifiable fact is that the peaceful majority, the so-called 'Silent Majority', is cowed and extraneous.
Let us remember that:

Communist Russia was comprised of Russians who just wanted to live in peace, yet the Russian Communists were responsible for the murder of about 20 million people. The peaceful majority were irrelevant.

China 's huge population was peaceful as well, but Chinese Communists managed to kill a staggering 70 million people.’

The average Japanese individual prior to World War II was not a warmongering sadist. Yet, Japan murdered and slaughtered its way across South East Asia in an orgy of killing that included the systematic murder of 12 million Chinese civilians; most killed by sword, shovel, and bayonet.

Rwanda which collapsed into butchery! Could it not be said that the majority of Rwandans were 'peace loving'? 

History lessons are often incredibly simple and blunt, yet for all our powers of reason, we often miss the most basic and uncomplicated of points: peace-loving Muslims have been made irrelevant by their silence. Peace-loving Muslims will become our enemy if they don't speak up, because like my friends in Germany before WW II, they will awaken one day and find that the fanatics own them, and the end of their world will have begun.

Peace-loving Germans, Japanese, Chinese, Russians, Rwandans, Serbs, Afghans, Iraqis, Palestinians, Somalis, Nigerians, Algerians, and many others have died because the peaceful Silent Majority did not speak up until it was too late.

Now Islamic prayers have been introduced in Toronto and other public schools in Ontario , and, yes, in Ottawa ,too, while the Lord's Prayer has been banned because it is offensive(?). The Islamic way may be peaceful for the time being in our country until the fanatics move in.

In many, if not all, countries around the world today, many of the most commonly consumed food items have the halal emblem on them. Just look at the back of some of the most popular chocolate bars, and at other food items in your local supermarket, the halal emblem is stamped on them. Airlines serve halal food to appease the privileged Islamic fanatical minority who are now rapidly expanding in every shore.

In the United Kingdom, the Muslim communities now refuse to integrate and there are now dozens of "no-go" zones within major cities across the country that the police force dare not intrude upon, and Shari'a law prevails there because the Muslim community in those areas refuse to acknowledge British law. 

As for us who watch it all unfold, we must pay attention to the only group that counts - the fanatics who threaten our way of life.’

Anyone who doubts that the issue is serious is contributing to the passiveness that allows the problems to expand. 

Let us hope that today's Silent Majority world-wide read and think seriously about the fast spreading fanaticism of a relative few before it's too late, and we are silenced because we were complacent and chose to be silent.

About the article's author. . .Emanuel Tanya is a German Jew and a psychiatrist. His family owned several businesses before the Nazis took over Germany; all of the family's businesses and factories were destroyed during World War II.

-Contributed by Ralph

The Most Anti-American Thing There Is

by Rika Christensen

What’s the most anti-American thing someone can do besides vote for Donald Trump in November? Apparently, right-wing freak Ted Nugent has the answer to that question, and it’s something every American should hear. Speaking with conservative radio host Joe Pags, he tells us:

    “There is nothing more anti-American than the freaks that hate me, and when MoveOn.org, Media Matters, Southern Poverty Law Center, Rachel Maddow and MSNBC lie and spew their hate towards me, it’s because I stand with the best families in America.”

The man certainly thinks a lot of himself, doesn’t he? One might have thought there was no more room in this country for egos, what with Donald Trump’s ego growing miles by the minute after officially locking up the GOP nomination, but one would be wrong. It takes a lot of ego and chutzpah for Ted Nugent to say that the most anti-American thing imaginable is hating him.

He says that the NRA is not a gun lobby during this interview, too. What is it, then? Nugent says it’s “mom-and-pop family America, and is standing up for the most fundamental instinct and God-given individual right” that self-defense (i.e. owning guns) is good. Har de har har. Only Nugent can fit this much nonsense into one interview.

He also rages against Hillary Clinton and Bernie “Mao Tse Tung” Sanders about wanting to push gun owners down, and he talks about how he’s right all the time if so many people have to hate on him so much. Listen to him toss a major word salad below:

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/266047509″ params=”color=ff5500″ width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

Let’s look at Nugent for a moment. He’s incredibly ammosexual – in fact, he was just re-elected as a board member of the NRA, despite the fact that many of the NRA’s members aren’t nearly as crazy as Nugent is. Nugent thinks that anybody who even criticizes the NRA just wants to help criminals.

Before President Obama was elected, he said that he would either be dead or imprisoned within two weeks of winning the election. That hasn’t happened yet, but the Secret Service took it as a threat against Obama and investigated it. He also referred to a lawmaker of mixed-race heritage as a “subhuman mongrel.”

We must acknowledge, however, that Ted Nugent is a patriot among patriots – a word that’s been usurped and twisted by the far right to only apply to white supremacists who love guns, fetuses and the Bible. They hate the poor, along with starving children and anyone who thinks helping others is a good thing. He’s a true patriot, except for that time he dodged the Vietnam draft by pooping in his pants every day. Or so he said.

But to say that the most anti-American thing out there is to hate Ted Nugent is over the top, even for him. This man suffers from delusions of grandeur that we don’t even see in Donald Trump for the most part. –Addicting Info

World's 10 Most Mysterious Pictures Ever Taken

How Much Time Do Couples Spend When They Have Sex?

by Brendan Zietsch

If you’re a non-scientist, you might have once asked yourself, propped against the bedhead after disappointingly quick intercourse, how long does sex “normally” last?

A scientist, though, would phrase the same question in an almost comically obscure way: What is the mean intravaginal ejaculation latency time?

I know there’s a lot more to sex than putting the penis into the vagina and ejaculating, but the rest is not always easy to define (kissing? Rubbing? Grinding?). To keep things simple and specific, we’ll just focus on the time to ejaculation.

Measuring an average time to ejaculation is not a straightforward matter. What about just asking people how long they take, you say? Well, there are two main problems with this. One is that people are likely to be biased upwards in their time estimates, because it’s socially desirable to say you go long into the night.

The other problem is that people don’t necessarily know how long they go for. Sex isn’t something people normally do while monitoring the bedside clock, and unassisted time estimation may be difficult during a transportative session of love-making.

What does the research say?

The best study we have estimating the average time to ejaculation in the general population involved 500 couples from around the world timing themselves having sex over a four-week period—using a stopwatch.

That is as practically awkward as it sounds: participants pressed “start” at penile penetration and “stop” at ejaculation. You may note this could affect the mood somewhat, and might perhaps not exactly reflect the natural flow of things. But—science is rarely perfect, and this is the best we’ve got.

So what did the researchers find? The most striking result is that there was a huge amount of variation. The average time for each couple (that is, averaged across all the times they had sex) ranged from 33 seconds to 44 minutes. That’s an 80-fold difference.

So it’s clear there’s no one “normal” amount of time to have sex. The average (median, technically) across all couples, though, was 5.4 minutes. This means that if you line up the 500 couples from shortest sex to longest sex, the middle couple goes for an average of 5.4 minutes each time they do it.

There were some interesting secondary results, too. For example, condom use didn’t seem to affect the time, and neither did men’s being circumcised or not, which challenges some conventional wisdom regarding penile sensitivity and its relationship to staying power in the sack.

It didn’t much matter which country the couples came from either—unless they came from Turkey, in which case their sex tended to be significantly shorter (3.7 minutes) than couples from other countries (Netherlands, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States). Another surprising finding was that the older the couple, the shorter the sex, contrary to the prevailing wisdom (probably peddled by older men).

Why do we have sex for so long?

As an evolutionary researcher, all this talk of how long sex lasts make me wonder: Why does it last any time at all? All sex really needs to achieve, it seems, is to put sperm into the vagina. Why all the thrusting and bumping? Instead of sliding the penis in and out many hundreds of times per sexual session, why not just put it in once, ejaculate, and then go have a lemonade and get on with the rest of the day?

Before you say, Because it’s fun to go in and out!, remember evolution doesn’t care about fun per se—it generally only “designs” things to be enjoyable if they helped our ancestors pass on their genes to future generations. For example, even though we like eating food, we don’t chew each mouthful of it for five minutes just to make the enjoyment last longer. That would be inefficient, and so we’ve evolved to find it gross.

Why we last so long is a pretty complicated question with no clear answer, but a clue may be in the way the penis is shaped. In 2003, researchers showed—using artificial vaginas, artificial penises, and artificial sperm (corn syrup)—that the ridge around the head of the penis actually scoops out pre-existing syrup from the vagina.

What this suggests is that men’s repeated thrusting might function to displace other men’s semen before ejaculating, ensuring their own swimmers have a better chance of reaching the egg first. Incidentally, this could explain why it becomes painful for a man to continue thrusting after ejaculating, since that would risk scooping out his own semen as well.

So what to do with this information? My advice would be to try not to think about it during the throes of passion. –Alternet

Pan-Roasted Sea Bass With Citrus And Avocado Oil

Recipe by Amelia Saltsman

Ingredients (Serves 4):

2 oranges
2 pink grapefruits
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
4 6-ounce skinless fillets white or Mexican sea bass or grouper (about 1' thick)
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
1 avocado, halved, pitted, peeled, cut into wedges
4 tablespoons avocado oil

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 450°. Using a small sharp knife, cut off all peel and white pith from fruit. Working over a medium bowl, cut between membranes to release segments into bowl. Squeeze in juices from membranes; discard membranes. Drain fruit, reserving 1/2 cup juices. Return segments and juices to bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

Pat fish dry. Season with salt and pepper. Heat a large heavy ovenproof skillet over high heat. Add grapeseed oil. Add fish; cook without moving, occasionally pressing fish gently with a spatula to keep all of surface in contact with pan, until fish is golden brown and releases easily from pan, 4–5 minutes.

Turn fish, transfer to oven, and roast until just opaque in the center, 3–5 minutes.

Place fruit and avocado on plates. Top with fillets. Spoon 2 Tbsp. citrus juices over fruit on each plate. Drizzle 1 Tbsp. avocado oil over fish and fruit.

-bon appetit

Dec 18, 2016