A cloak of invisibility 4

Science, not magic.

We cannot resist posting this video.

Posted under Science, Videos by Jillian Becker on Sunday, September 28, 2014

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R too D to leave you free 5

When all the news is depressing or fearful, it’s great to have a good laugh. Even if the laugh is a trifle hysterical.

We laughed that sort of laugh at this story from the Washington Free Beacon:

The National Science Foundation has committed $10 million to build robots that will act as “personal trainers” for children, in an effort to influence their behavior and eating habits.

The government has spent $2.15 million so far for the five-year project, which is being led by Yale University. The project, “Robots Helping Kids,” will ultimately “deploy” robots into homes and schools to teach English as a second language, and encourage kids to exercise.

The project will develop a “new breed of sophisticated socially assistive’ robots, designed to help children learn to read, appreciate physical fitness, overcome cognitive disabilities, and perform physical exercises”, according to a news release by Yale University …

“Just like a good personal trainer, we want the robots to be able to guide the child toward a behavior that we desire,” said Brian Scassellati, a computer science professor at Yale and principal investigator for the study. “What we want to do is move these robots out of the laboratory and into schools and homes and clinics, places where we can directly help children on a day-to-day basis,” he said. …

“The need for this technology is driven by critical societal problems that require sustained, personalized support that supplements the efforts of educators, parents, and clinicians,” the [NSA providers of] the grant said.  

Scassellati envisions the robots influencing nearly every aspect of children’s lives.

“We want them to help children learn language, we want to help them learn better eating habits, we want them to learn new social or cognitive skills through their interactions with these robots,” he said. …

Social skills with robots. Interaction with robots who must therefore, presumably, also have social skills. This truly is a brave new world!

Of course kids will probably love having a robot as a pet and companion. Better than a doll or a stuffed bear!

But will the robot be sending info back to a mad professor or the state? We guess so. “He didn’t eat his salad today.” “She quarreled with a classmate.”

The kids will be in the constant presence of a spy. Nurturing a serpent in their little bosoms.

The project is seeking to create robots that could be personal companions to children for up to a year. Scassellati said he wants to “build a healthy relationship of trust and respect between the child and the robot.”

Respectful robots! They may spy on you, but they’ll do it respectfully.

“At the end of five years we’d like to have robots that can guide a child toward long-term educational goals, be customized for the particular needs of that child, and basically grow and develop with the child,” he said. “We want the robot to be the equivalent of a good personal trainer.”

The NSF has allotted $10 million for the study through 2017. The grant is one of the highest amounts the agency dispenses.

The University of Southern California, MIT, Stanford, and Tufts University are listed as partners for the project. Willow Garage, a personal robotics company, is also participating in the research. …

We bet they are. Most lucratively.

Scassellati said the robots would “not replace” humans, but provide additional attention and guidance for children. The research is focusing on both “regularly developing children and those with social or cognitive deficits.” Some of Scassellati’s prior research has focused on how robots can help kids with Autism.

Did you think the do-good factor, the “help” because “we care” factor would be missing? The state always exercises totalitarian control only for your own good.

“If we’re successful in this, we think we can make a real difference in the lives of children,” he said.

We don’t doubt it for a moment. The personal robot scheme will serve the government’s indoctrination purposes much better even than compulsory pre-kindergarten schooling could. Now the state will be with you 24/7. You’ll have no secrets from it. It’ll  be in bed with you, at the table with you, in the bathroom with you, at school with you. And it will be fun!  This is how you’ll come to love Big Brother.

“And we think that we can produce some of the most interesting, the most engaging, and the most competent social robots that we’ve ever seen.”

You could make them pretty too, Brian. The things could have the look of this or that Hollywood star, for instance.

Considering the official prurience of the state these days, they will very likely be programmed to teach the kids practical sex. No holds barred, of course. (Sado-masochism is strongly advised by state-supported institutions right now.)

Loads of fun for the next generation coming up! Who said that the age of American vision ended with the close of its space exploration?

And – parents – note that the interesting, engaging, competent companion of your kid will not need feeding. It won’t consume the teeniest bite of the arugula, kale, broccoli, coarse bread and dandelion tea that it will prescribe for you and yours.

Brace yourselves for its constant (respectful) criticism though. It will be there to keep you in line too. Can’t risk your preferences or bad influence of any sort undoing its good work.

Shameless 4

When future generations try to understand how the world got carried away around the end of the 20th century by the panic over global warming, few things will amaze them more than the part played in stoking up the scare by the fiddling of official temperature data.

– So Christopher Booker writes at the Telegraph. He goes on:

There was already much evidence of this seven years ago, when I was writing my history of the scare, The Real Global Warming Disaster. But now another damning example has been uncovered by Steven Goddard’s US blog Real Science, showing how shamelessly manipulated has been one of the world’s most influential climate records, the graph of US surface temperature records published by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

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[click to enlarge charts]

Goddard shows how, in recent years, NOAA’s US Historical Climatology Network (USHCN) has been “adjusting” its record by replacing real temperatures with data “fabricated” by computer models.

The effect of this has been to downgrade earlier temperatures and to exaggerate those from recent decades, to give the impression that the Earth has been warming up much more than is justified by the actual data.

In several posts headed “Data tampering at USHCN/GISS”,* Goddard compares the currently published temperature graphs with those based only on temperatures measured at the time. These show that the US has actually been cooling since the Thirties, the hottest decade on record; whereas the latest graph, nearly half of it based on “fabricated” data, shows it to have been warming at a rate equivalent to more than 3 degrees centigrade per century.

When I first began examining the global-warming scare, I found nothing more puzzling than the way officially approved scientists kept on being shown to have finagled their data, as in that ludicrous “hockey stick” graph, pretending to prove that the world had suddenly become much hotter than at any time in 1,000 years.

Any theory needing to rely so consistently on fudging the evidence, I concluded, must be looked on not as science at all, but as simply a rather alarming case study in the aberrations of group psychology.

Why the deception? The main reason (as everyone knows) for the creation of the theory is that it serves political interest; and the “scientists”, and Al Gore, make a lot of money out of it.

(See our posts: The most powerful magician the world has ever known, December 21, 2009; Al Gore and the sale of indulgences, April 29, 2010; Mann-made global warmingOctober 17, 2013.)

 

* GISS – [NOAA's] Goddard Institute for Space Studies

*

For more on data tampering – and many more highly informative charts at USHCN/GISS that prove it – go here.

The measured USHCN daily temperature data shows a decline in US temperatures since the 1930s.  But before they release it to the public,  they put it thorough a series of adjustments which change it from a cooling trend to a warming trend. …

(Hat-tip our reader and commenter REALBEING]

That dangerous thing – education 5

Crisis Magazine is a Catholic site.

But –

William Kilpatrick makes some points there that we agree with, among some that we do not. We quote:

Question:  What does Boko Haram, the Nigerian terrorist organization, have in common with Western educators?  Answer:  Both think that Western education is sinful.  Fortunately, Western educators will not burn down your church or school with you inside as Boko Haram does to those who persist in their Western ways.  Unfortunately, the type of education provided by Western educators will leave you totally unprepared for the likes of Boko Haram.

Agreed.

Roughly translated, “Boko Haram” means “Western education is sinful”.  So there’s little doubt about where it stands.  But in what way can it be said that Western educators believe the same thing?  I don’t know if any educators have actually declared that Western education is sinful, but it’s not unfair to say that contemporary educational theory in the West is built upon a rejection of traditional Western education.  Beginning with Rousseau’s Emile (1762), Western intellectuals began to challenge the Judeo-Christian view of the child and along with it traditional ideas about how children should be educated.

 He describes what he thinks of as Christian education approvingly: 

According to the earlier conception, one which still endures in some corners of our society, the child is born in original sin and, therefore, a good part of his education should be devoted to helping him overcome his natural tendencies to laziness, selfishness and pleasure-seeking.  The goal of such education was the transmission of hard-learned cultural lessons through the study of history, literature, scripture and science.

All good subjects (though about scripture, see our last paragraph).

Two comments. One: “original sin” was disobedience followed by lust – not laziness, selfishness and (oh, dear!) pleasure-seeking. Two:  For a thousand years, most children in Christendom were taught Christianity but not literacy. Once Christianity descended darkly over Europe, replacing the Roman Empire with the Catholic Church, most children received no education at all except the Christian myth along with the fear of Hell.

But what the writer says next is right on:

According to the Romantic tradition which began with Rousseau and which by the late 1960s had become the dominant philosophy in American education, the child is born in a state of original innocence with trustworthy impulses that should be followed, not denied.  Romantic thinkers believed in nature with an almost religious fervor; in their view, man had fallen not from a state of grace but from the state of nature.  Sin was a product of civilization, and if there were such a thing as evil, it lay in placing unnatural constraints on the child’s natural spontaneity and wisdom.

The Romantic emphasis on the child’s inner wisdom led to a corresponding de-emphasis on the acquisition of factual knowledge.  Learning was thought to be a natural process and the child could therefore be trusted to learn what he needed to know by following his natural instincts.  Consequently, book-learning came to be looked upon by Romantic poets and philosophers as an unnatural imposition on the child’s natural development. Take Wordsworth’s poem, The Tables Turned:

Up!  up!  my Friend, and quit your books;
Or surely you’ll grow double:
Up!  up!  my Friend, and clear your looks;
Why all this toil and trouble?

The third stanza extends the anti-book argument a bit further:

Books!  ‘tis a dull and endless strife:
Come, hear the woodland linnet,
How sweet his music!  on my life,
There’s more of wisdom in it.

In short, why bother with books [boko haram? - ed]) when you can find all you need to know in the book of nature?  That is the [we would say "one of the"] basic principle[s] of Romanticism.  For a very long time, most educators ignored this highly unrealistic approach to education.  Wordsworth, Emerson, Whitman and other Romantics were taught in schools, but they were celebrated for the beauty of their poetry and prose, not for their anti-bookish prescriptions.  Eventually, however, these ideas about natural learning came to exert a powerful influence on the imagination of educators — particularly those of the American variety.  By the 1930’s, under the name “progressive education”,  the Romantic theory had spread to teacher’s colleges throughout the U.S.  By the late 1960’s, it was the dominant philosophy in American classrooms.

The triumph of natural schooling theories did result in significant change — for the worse.  SAT scores began a long decline and the U.S. students soon ranked near the bottom of developed countries on international assessment tests.  The progressive movement did, however, produce a number of catchy slogans such as “holistic learning”, “child-centered schooling”, “at their own pace”, “self-esteem”, and “critical thinking skills”.  Those were the terms of approbation.  On the other hand, teachers were warned to avoid “memorization”, “rote-learning”, “mere facts”, “textbook-learning”, and “culturally biased curriculums”.

The progressives failed to realize, however, that you can’t think critically unless you have something to think about.  But, having been deprived of “mere facts”, students have very little material with which to “construct knowledge” (another popular piece of educational jargon).  How, for example, can students think critically about World War II if they’ve never heard of Roosevelt, Churchill or Stalin or if they have no idea where Germany, Japan, Poland and France are located?

What, you may ask, does this have to do with Boko Haram?  Just this.  Boko Haram is one of the more violent manifestations of the global resurgence of Islam in our times.  Although it is marginally more brutal than other jihadist groups, it is not untypical.  There are dozens of such groups all over the world that seek by force to restore Islam to its former dominance.  The problem is, today’s anti-knowledge curriculums do not prepare students to think critically about what is happening in the Islamic world and what it means for the rest of us.

The disparagement of “mere facts” ensures that today’s graduates will know very little about the history of Islam.  And the Romantic elevation of non-Western traditions means that they will know even less about the bloody nature of that history.  Although American students will hear a great deal about Western imperialism, they are not likely to realize that Islam was one of the great imperial powers of all time.  At one time, the Islamic Empire stretched from Spain, across North Africa, and all the way to India.  The Empire was created by conquest, but high school and college texts tend to avoid that word in favor of euphemisms such as “the spread of Islam” or the “expansion of Islam.”  And how was this expansion accomplished?  According to one widely used high school history text, “The persecuted people often welcomed the [Muslim] invaders and chose to accept Islam.  They were attracted by the appeal of the message of Islam which offered equality and hope in this world.” …

– A  lie constantly repeated by Muslim propagandists.

Indeed, many accounts of Islamic history in American textbooks look like they could have been written by the Saudi Ministry for Propaganda and Whitewash.  Many world history textbooks, for instance, take great pains to inform readers that jihad has little to do with holy war but rather is best understood as “overcoming immorality,” “a personal inner struggle to achieve spiritual peace”, or a “striving … to achieve personal betterment”.  Moreover, in line with the Western habit of romanticizing non-Western cultures, textbooks present a highly romanticized (some would say, largely fictitious) portrait of Islam’s “Golden Age” in Spain and Baghdad.  According to one widely-used college text, “The Muslims created [in Baghdad and Cordoba] a brilliant urban culture” where libraries abounded and where “judges, merchants, and government officials, rather than warriors, were regarded as the ideal citizens”.  Meanwhile, over in the Christian Carolingian Empire, “Both gluttony and drunkenness were vices shared by many people…. Everyone in Carolingian society, including abbots and monks, drank heavily and often to excess.” …

It is necessary to remember that Christians burnt piles of volumes from the great library of Alexandria centuries before the Muslims came and destroyed it utterly. (It was ravaged by Christians in 391 CE, and completely destroyed by Muslims in 642 CE.)

There is nothing romantic about Boko Haram, and the facts concerning it don’t fit into the rose-colored narrative that is fed to our students about gentle Islamic expansion, interior spiritual struggles, and a library on every corner. …  Absent knowledge of Islam’s 1400-year history of jihad, the Boko Haram campaign to exterminate Nigerian Christians must seem like an aberration — something completely unrepresentative of the true Islam.  And so will the attacks on Christians in Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Pakistan, the Central African Republic, Kenya, and elsewhere.  They will be perceived as discrete, disconnected events that have “nothing to do with Islam” because American citizens are largely unfamiliar with the historical pattern that would help to make sense of these supposedly senseless actions.

What does that pattern look like?  Islam scholar Raymond Ibrahim provides this brief description of the European experience with Islam:

Among other nations and territories that were attacked and/or came under Muslim domination are (to give them their modern names in no particular order):  Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Sicily, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Greece, Russia, Poland, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Lithuania, Romania, Albania, Serbia, Armenia, Georgia, Crete, Cyprus, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Belarus, Malta, Sardinia, Moldova, Slovakia, and Montenegro.

It seems well past time to wake up from the romantic dream and reacquaint ourselves with that once-familiar, now forgotten pattern.

We agree of course with his abhorrence of Islam, and with his objections to Romanticism.

We see Romanticism as the (admittedly godless but nevertheless mystical) religion that replaced Christianity when the Enlightenment broke the power of the Churches and brought Christianity into open question.

We see it as the enemy of Reason, scorning proper education, and science, technological innovation, the nation state, free trade, the free market, capitalism, individual freedom, the productive middle-class, prosperity, rule of law, civilization. Also skepticism. And humor.

At present Romanticism is hammering the Western world with two dogmas that are in an improbable alliance, that of Leftism and that of Islam.

Some Catholics, it seems, can share this understanding with us to an extent, though they would no doubt want the Church to rule again, and the irrationalities of Christianity to replace those of Socialism and Mohammedanism.

We agree with William Kilpatrick that our Western culture should be handed down. That means teaching facts, as he says – and critical examination of all opinion.

We want education to be  secular.

The Jewish and Christian scriptures should be taught as literature, and religion in history classes, because they have had a huge effect on our culture. But (as our frequent commenter Frank has urged inspirationally) they should be taught only by atheists.

Bye-bye freedom 5

Free peoples are losing the habits of free speech, and thereby will lose their freedom.

So Mark Steyn writes.

In Australia, they’re trying to get rid of Section 18c, which is … [a] thought-crime law. … The Aussie campaign is not going well.”There is a danger that the Coalition resolve to repeal Section 18C will weaken further,” warns The Independent Australian, saying [to the Australian public) there’s an “urgent need to submit your views on 18C amendments by April 30th”. …

What’s going on? In the western world today, there are far more lobby groups for censorship – under polite euphemisms such as “diversity”, “human rights”, “hate speech” – than there are for freedom of expression. …

That’s the hard political arithmetic of defending free speech in western chancelleries today: There aren’t a lot of takers for it, and the opposition to it is very organized. A government minister with an eye to his press clippings has to believe in it an awful lot for it to be worth taking on.

[In Britain] on Saturday, Paul Weston of Liberty GB, a candidate in next month’s European elections, was speaking on the steps of Winchester Guildhall and quoting Winston Churchill on the matter of Muslims (from The River War, young Winston’s book on the Sudanese campaign).

Winston Churchill did not write favorably of Islam.*

[Paul Weston] was, in short order, arrested by half-a-dozen police officers, shoved in the back of a van and taken away to be charged  … with a “Racially Aggravated Crime” – in other words, he’s being charged explicitly for the content of that Churchill passage, and the penalty could be two years in jail.

This is remarkable, and not just because Islam is not a race, as its ever more numerous pasty Anglo-Saxon “reverts” will gladly tell you. For one thing, the police have effectively just criminalized Liberty GB’s political platform. There are words for regimes that use state power to criminalize their opponents and they’re not “mother of parliaments” or “land of hope and glory”.

More to the point, if Mr Weston is found guilty of a “racially aggravated crime” for reading Churchill’s words, then why is the publisher of the book not also guilty and liable to two years in jail? Why is Churchill himself not guilty? …

Civilized societies …  lose their liberties incrementally. …  Sir Winston’s River War will simply disappear from print, but so discreetly you won’t even notice it’s gone. Personally, while we’re criminalizing Churchill, I’m in favor of banning that “Fight on the beaches” speech, on the grounds that all that “we will never surrender” stuff is … increasingly risible. …

[In America] fifty-five percent (55%) of Likely U.S. Voters believe the government should be allowed to review political ads and candidates’ campaign comments for their accuracy and punish those that it decides are making false statements about other candidates. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 31% oppose such government oversight. Fourteen percent (14%) are undecided.

Or to put it another way: fewer than a third of those polled give a hoot about the First Amendment. …

Two generations of Americans have been raised in an educational milieu that thinks, to pluck a current example at random, that using the phrase “Man up!” ought to be banned. If you’ve been marinated in this world from kindergarten, why would you emerge into the adult world with any attachment to the value of freedom of speech?

As I say, free peoples are losing the habits of free speech, and thereby will lose their freedom.

*Here is the passage from Churchill’s book The River War that may not be read aloud in public in Britain:

“How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries, improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live. A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement, the next of its dignity and sanctity. The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property, either as a child, a wife, or a concubine, must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men. Individual Moslems may show splendid qualities, but the influence of the religion paralyzes the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step, and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science, the science against which it (Islam) has vainly struggled, the civilization of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilization of ancient Rome.”

We hate to disagree with Winston Churchill on any point, and we love to quote this passage for most of what he says in it, but of course we cannot agree that “Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science”. Since the Enlightenment put a stop to the power of the Churches, science has been slowly burying Christianity – we’re happy to say.

The civilization of modern Europe is falling, “as fell the civilization of ancient Rome”.

Christianity brought down the night on the Roman Empire. Islam is doing the same to modern Europe. Churchill saw the danger. He did not foresee that it would start happening just a few decades after he led the West to victory over Islam’s twin and ally, Nazism.

A prize for lies 3

Mark Steyn is being sued for libel in Canada by Michael Mann of Mann-made global warming – and is counter-suing the lying scientist.

In addition to lying about global warming with his infamous “hockey-stick” graph, Mann falsely claims that he was awarded a Nobel prize.

Kim Jong-un, dictator of North Korea, has just held a farcical general election, and finds himself the winner with 100% of the votes.

Very few Muslims (about 7 out of 1.6 billion) have won Nobel prizes, and many Muslims believe that is because of “Islamophobia”, so Iran will award prizes to the overlooked Islamic worthies.*

That is the background to this Mark Steyn joke:

Kim Jong-Un casts his vote for Michael E Mann’s Mustafa Prize

Mark Steyn writes:

Good news for fake Nobel Laureate Michael E Mann. Iran is launching an Islamic Nobel Prize to be named after Mustafa (ie, Mohammed). Given that he wants it so badly, maybe we can nominate Dr Mann for a Mustafa Prize.

* Recently an Iranian ayatollah claimed that Einstein (one of at least 193 Jews out of 13.75 million who really have won Nobel prizes) was a Shi’a Muslim.

Posted under Canada, Climate, Commentary, Environmentalism, Ethics, satire, Science by Jillian Becker on Tuesday, March 11, 2014

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Charles Darwin said … 5

“I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created parasitic wasps with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of Caterpillars.”

“I can indeed hardly see how anyone ought to wish Christianity to be true for if so the plain language of the text seems to show that the men who do not believe, and this would include my father, brother and almost all of my friends, will be everlastingly punished. And this is a damnable doctrine.”

“Besides love and sympathy, animals exhibit other qualities connected with the social instincts which in us would be called moral.”

“We must, however, acknowledge, as it seems to me, that man with all his noble qualities …  still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin.”

“We can allow satellites, planets, suns, universe, nay whole systems of universe, to be governed by laws, but the smallest insect, we wish to be created at once by special act.”

“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.”

“I am not the least afraid to die.”

Posted under Commentary, Miscellaneous, Science by Jillian Becker on Saturday, January 4, 2014

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The one and only race hatred that is politically correct 17

“Racism” – an infinitely elastic term – is by far the very worst crime any human being can commit according to the Left.

There is one exception, however. Essential as it is to strive (hopelessly if you’re a white person, not too hard if you’re anything else) not to be racist, it is compulsory to hate Jews. Though you mustn’t call them that. You must call them Israelis or Zionists. And hating them isn’t enough. You must work actively for their destruction.

Why, you ask? Isn’t it obvious? Because Israel is an apartheid state, Israelis are Nazis who colonized the long-established independent state of Palestine, and  Jews are carrying out savage acts of terrorism on every inhabited continent, and threatening to take over Europe and the world. While the Muslims – pacific and tolerant even though they’ve been horrifically persecuted for hundreds of years – are making huge contributions to humanity, especially through Science, so winning Nobel Prizes out of all proportion to their tiny number.

This is from Front Page, by Caroline Glick:

The main foreign policy issue that galvanizes the passions and energies of the committed American Left is the movement to delegitimize Israel’s right to exist.

This week has been a big one for the anti-Israel movement. In the space of a few days, two quasi academic organizations – the American Studies Association [ASA] and the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association – have launched boycotts against Israeli universities. Their boycotts follow a similar one announced in April by the Asian Studies Association.

These groups’ actions have not taken place in isolation. They are of a piece with ever-escalating acts of anti-Israel agitation in college campuses throughout the United States.

Between the growth of Israel Apartheid Day (or Week, or Month) from a fringe exercise on isolated campuses to a staple of the academic calendar in universities throughout the US and Canada, and the rise of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement to wage economic war against the Jewish state, anti-Israel activism has become the focal point of Leftist foreign policy activism in the US and throughout the Western world.

Every week brings a wealth of stories about new cases of aggressive anti-Israel activism. At the University of Michigan last week, thousands of students were sent fake eviction notices from the university’s housing office. A pro-Palestinian group distributed them in dorms across campus to disseminate the blood libel that Israel is carrying out mass expulsions of Palestinians.

At Swarthmore College, leftist anti-Israel Jewish students who control Hillel are insisting on using Hillel’s good offices to disseminate and legitimate anti-Israel slanders.

And the Left’s doctrinaire insistence that Israel is the root of all evil is not limited to campuses.

At New York’s 92nd Street Y, Commentary editor John Podhoretz was booed and hissed by the audience for trying to explain why the ASA’s just-announced boycott of Israel was an obscene act of bigotry.

Many commentators have rightly pointed out that the ASA and the NAISA are fringe groups. They represent doctorate holders who chose to devote their careers to disciplines predicated not on scholarship, but on political activism cloaked in academic regalia whose goal is to discredit American power. The ASA has only 5,000 members, and only 1,200 of them voted on the Israel- boycott resolution. The NAISA has even fewer members. It would be wrong, however, to use the paltry number of these fringe groups’ members as means to dismiss the phenomenon that they represent. They are very much in line with the general drift of the Left. … While the ASA and its comrades are on the fringes of academia, they are not fringe voices on the Left. The Left has embraced the cause of Israel’s destruction. 

Rejecting Israel’s right to exist has become part of the Left’s dogma. It is a part of the catechism. Holding a negative view of the Jewish state is a condition for membership in the ideological camp. It is an article of faith

Consider the background of the president of the ASA. Curtis Marez is an associate professor in the Ethnic Studies Department at the University of California, San Diego. His area of expertise is Chicano Film and Media Studies. He doesn’t know anything about Israel. He just knows that he’s a Leftist. And today, Leftists demonize Israel. Their actions have nothing to do with anything Israel does or has ever done. They have nothing to do with human rights. Hating Israel, slandering Israel and supporting the destruction of Israel are just things that good Leftists do.

And Marez was not out of step with his fellow Leftists who rule the roost at UCSD. This past March the student council passed a resolution calling for the university to divest from companies that do business with Israel. Why? Because hating Israel is what Leftists do. …

Challenging the likes of Marez, or the Swarthmore students … to a reasoned debate is an exercise in futility. They do not care about human rights. They do not care that Israel is the only human rights-respecting democracy in the Middle East. … Being hypocrites doesn’t bother them either. 

You can talk until you’re blue in the face about the civilian victims of the Syrian civil war, or the gender apartheid in Saudi Arabia and the absence of religious freedom throughout the Muslim world. But they don’t care. They aren’t trying to make the world a better place.

Facts cannot compete with their faith. Reason has no place in their closed intellectual universe. To accept reason and facts would be an act of heresy.

The religion of Christianity began by plundering and anathematizing the religion of Judaism, and became a menace to the Jews. The religions of Islam and Socialism plundered and anathematized both, and menace all of us.

Religion is a self-imposed curse on humankind.

The humbling of America 4

Reuters reports:

China landed an unmanned spacecraft on the moon on Saturday [December 13, 2013], state media reported, in the first such “soft-landing” since 1976, joining the United States and the former Soviet Union in managing to accomplish such a feat.

The Chang’e 3, a probe named after a lunar goddess in traditional Chinese mythology, is carrying the solar-powered Yutu, or Jade Rabbit buggy, which will dig and conduct geological surveys.

China has been increasingly ambitious in developing its space programs, for military, commercial and scientific purposes. …

“The dream for lunar exploration once again lights up the China Dream,” Xinhua news agency said in a commentary.

China dreams of “becoming a major global economic and political power”.

In its most recent manned space mission in June, three astronauts spent 15 days in orbit and docked with an experimental space laboratory, part of Beijing’s quest to build a working space station by 2020.

The official Xinhua news service reported that the spacecraft had touched down in the Sinus Iridum, or the Bay of Rainbows, after hovering over the surface for several minutes seeking an appropriate place to land. …

The Bay of Rainbows was selected because it has yet to be studied, has ample sunlight and is convenient for remote communications with Earth, Xinhua said. …

For more than a decade, China has been modernizing its economy and developing in areas long dominated by the West particularly the United States.

China is also developing its own satellite system to rival the U.S. GPS [Global Positioning] system and has sold satellites to other countries.

And further reports:

Iran said on Saturday [December 14, 2013] it had sent a second live monkey into space and brought it back safely, the latest demonstration of the country’s missile capabilities, state news agency IRNA reported.

“President Hassan Rouhani … congratulated Iranian scientists and experts on successfully sending a second living creature into space,” the news agency said.

Iran said it launched its first monkey to space in January.

Rouhani used Twitter to mark the latest event, a demonstration of rocket power that is likely to cause concern in the West and among some Gulf states, which are worried about Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

The West worries that long-range ballistic technology used to propel Iranian satellites into orbit could be put to use dispatching nuclear warheads to a target.

In contrast to these developments, America is using the National Aeronautic Space Administration (NASA) to make Muslims feel good about their – non-existent – scientific achievements, on instructions from President Obama, as its “foremost” mission, we recall.

ABC news reported on July 6, 2010:

The White House and NASA today defended comments by National Aeronautic Space Administration administrator Charles Bolden about reaching out to the Muslim world – comments that conservatives criticized as undermining NASA’s mission.

A few days ago, in Cairo, Bolden told Al Jazeera that when he became the NASA administrator, President Obama charged him with three things: “One, he wanted me to help re-inspire children to want to get into science and math; he wanted me to expand our international relationships; and third, and perhaps foremost, he wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science and engineering — science, math and engineering.” …

The Washington Examiner’s Byron York interviewed former NASA administrator Michael Griffin … who called Bolden’s stated charge for NASA a “perversion of NASA’s purpose.”

“NASA was chartered by the 1958 Space Act to develop the arts and sciences of flight in the atmosphere and in space and to go where those technologies will allow us to go,” Griffin said “That’s what NASA does for the country. It is a perversion of NASA’s purpose to conduct activities in order to make the Muslim world feel good about its contributions to science and mathematics.” Griffin made clear he was criticizing the policy, not Bolden, whom he praised. …

Commentator Charles Krauthammer called Bolden’s comments “a new height of fatuousness. NASA was established to get America into space and to keep us there. This idea of ‘to feel good about your past scientific achievements’ is the worst kind of group therapy, psycho-babble, imperial condescension and adolescent diplomacy.”

The humbling of America is a large part of Obama’s agenda, and he is spectacularly succeeding in it.

He dreams his adolescent dreams in a private Bay of Rainbows all his own.

The sex of the brain 2

So male and female brains are differently “wired”. It’s all over the news, all over the net, but we like it so much we’re putting it here too.

Brain networks in male (upper) and female (lower)

A pioneering study has shown for the first time that the brains of men and women are wired up differently which could explain some of the stereotypical differences in male and female behaviour, scientists have said.

Researchers found that many of the connections in a typical male brain run between the front and the back of the same side of the brain, whereas in women the connections are more likely to run from side to side between the left and right hemispheres of the brain.

This difference in the way the nerve connections in the brain are “hardwired” occurs during adolescence when many of the secondary sexual characteristics such as facial hair in men and breasts in women develop under the influence of sex hormones, the study found.

What happens in the brain, we wonder, if a person has a sex change after the hardwiring has occurred in adolescence? A re-wiring?

The researchers believe the physical differences between the two sexes in the way the brain is hardwired could play an important role in understanding why men are in general better at spatial tasks involving muscle control while women are better at verbal tasks involving memory and intuition.

Psychological testing has consistently indicated a significant difference between the sexes in the ability to perform various mental tasks, with men outperforming women in some tests and women outperforming men in others. Now there seems to be a physical explanation …

“These maps show us a stark difference – and complementarity – in the architecture of the human brain that helps to provide a potential neural basis as to why men excel at certain tasks, and women at others,” said Ragini Verma, professor of radiology at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. …

Many previous psychological studies have revealed significant differences between the sexes in the ability to perform various cognitive tests.

Men tend to outperform women involving spatial tasks and motor skills – such as map reading – while women tend to better in memory tests, such as remembering words and faces, and social cognition tests, which try to measure empathy and “emotional intelligence”.

A separate study published last month found that the genes expressed in the human brain did so differently in men and women. Post-mortem tests on the brain and spinal cord of 100 individuals showed significant genetic differences between the sexes, which could account for the observed gender differences in neurological disorders, such as autism, according to scientists from University College London.

For instance, one theory of autism, which is affects about five times as many boys as girls, is that it is a manifestation of the “extreme male brain”, which is denoted by a failure to be able to show empathy towards others.

The latest study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, showed that the differences in the male and female “connectomes” develop during the onset of the gender differences.

The only part of the brain where right-left connectivity was greater in men than in women was in the cerebellum, an evolutionary ancient part of the brain that is linked with motor control.

“It’s quite striking how complementary the brains of women and men really are,” said Rubin Gur of Pennsylvania University, a co-author of the study. “Detailed connectome maps of the brain will not only help us better understand the differences between how men and women think, but it will also give us more insight into the roots of neurological disorders, which are often sex related.”

Posted under Science, United Kingdom, United States by Jillian Becker on Thursday, December 5, 2013

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