Paraplegic Christi Rougoor wasn't about to let her handicap stop her from having fun - including bungee jumping! ITN reports:
I admire her courage . . . but I'd rather not put my fused spine through that sort of stress, thank you very much!
The idle musings of a former military man, former computer geek, medically retired pastor and now full-time writer. Contents guaranteed to offend the politically correct and anal-retentive from time to time. My approach to life is that it should be taken with a large helping of laughter, and sufficient firepower to keep it tamed!
A kingfisher shows a blatant disregard for the rules as it is caught sitting on a 'no fishing' sign with a fish in its beak. The rebellious bird swooped down to perch on the sign with a mouth full of fish and appeared to be reading the warning. The moment was captured by photographer Dean Mason from Bournemouth, Dorset.
A skunk blasts an inquisitive fox in the face with his scent. Amateur snapper Jocelyn Rastel Lafond captured the episode on camera in Lavaltrie near Montreal, Canada, and said: "It was really funny to watch their interaction. The fox had such a ridiculous expression after getting sprayed."
A protective elephant mother fights off a pack of hyenas to protect her calf. The hyenas had pounced on the baby elephant when it became separated from its mother. She stampeded towards the predators, kicking out her feet at the pack, which soon scattered. James Weis, a guide with the tour company Eyes on Africa, was leading a group of visitors in the Linyanto bush in Botswana at the time. He said: "The baby had its tail bitten off but was all right. It is fairly common to see elephants in Africa with no tail."
While some commercially available paracord is made to specification, even when labeled as such a given product may not correspond exactly to a specific military type and can be of differing construction, quality, color, or strength. Particularly poor quality examples may have significantly fewer strands in the sheath or core, cores constructed of bulk fiber rather than individual yarns, or include materials other than nylon.
Jeep was developed by the American Bantam Car Company. The design was purchased by the US Government from American Bantam and given to Willys-Overland with large orders going to Ford. Immediately after WWII American Bantam went bankrupt.
At the conclusion of WWII, Willys-Overland and Ford fought it out over who owned the Jeep design … a court ruled that the rights to the Jeep name and design were owned by Willys-Overland. Although the Jeep sold well in the post war years for Willys-Overland, they struggled with the rest of their auto business, and in 1953 Willys-Overland was purchased by Kaiser Motors.
The Jeep sold well for Kaiser, but the rest of their car biz sank like a stone. In 1963 Kaiser renamed itself Kaiser-Jeep. Business only got worse for Kaiser-Jeep through the 60′s, so in 1969 Kaiser-Jeep was acquired by AMC.
The Jeep sold well for AMC, but their car biz went from bad to worse during the 70′s, and in 1979 AMC was purchased by Renault.
... the health care law’s troubles shed some further light on the crisis of American progressivism and the blue social model it has built. Those who believe in the blue model and want to extend it have lost their touch; the dream machines of the blue social engineers don’t sail serenely across the azure sky anymore. Think of the various carbon exchanges and environmental planetary schemes; think of high speed rail proposals like California’s $100 billion train to bankruptcy; think of Obamacare. These days the experts, “social entrepreneurs” and smart young blue twenty somethings fresh out of the Ivy League whomp up social programs with as much verve and dedication as their New Deal and Great Society predecessors, but the new Dreamliners don’t take off. At most they roll around the runway, emitting clouds of noxious smoke; wings fall off, windows pop out, turbines misfire and the tires go flat.
. . .
This is a horrible piece of legislation — as misbegotten and useless to its friends as it is menacing to its enemies. The question is: why? Why did the blues write such a bad law? Why, given a once in a lifetime chance to pass a program that Dems have longed to achieve ever since the New Deal, did they craft a sloppy mess that nobody understands and few admire, and then leave their law so unnecessarily vulnerable to constitutional challenge?
The answers tell us much about why blue progressive thinking is losing its hold on the body politic — and why blue methods generally aren’t working as well as they used to.
Long term unemployed Hans Url, 56, had just been told his hand-outs would stop if he did not accept work found for him by job centre staff.
And when his claims that he was too sick and did not like the work were challenged with the offer of a medical, he took drastic measures.
Url, of Mitterlabill, southern Austria, rigged up a mitre saw and sliced off his foot – then put it in the oven for good measure to ensure no surgeon could reattach it.
. . .
He was airlifted to hospital in Graz where his condition was said to be stable after emergency surgery to seal the wound.
A hospital spokesman said: ‘The foot was too badly burned to reattach. All we could do was seal the wound. He had lost a lot of blood - he almost died on the way to hospital. He was put in an artificial coma.’
. . .
But Feldbach AMS job centre spokesman Hermann Gössinger said: ‘This is a tragic case but it will not help the man.
‘His latest excuse had been a bad back which is why he had been sent for a medical.
'But even now losing a foot does not automatically mean he will not be able to work. He will be assessed once he is out of hospital and we will see what work we can find for him.’
Senate Bill 1813 (Highway trust fund), which was passed by the Senate last week and is now pending in the House of Representatives contains a provision that would allow the IRS to order the State Department to refuse to grant, refuse to renew, revoke or restrict the passport of any US citizen which the IRS certifies owes the IRS $50,000 or more in unpaid taxes. There is no requirement that the tax payer be guilty of or even charged with tax evasion, fraud, or any criminal offense - only that the citizen is alleged to owe the IRS back taxes of $50,000 or more.
“It’s lovely, isn’t it?” a Wellcome Collection staff member said as I left. Then he checked himself: “Well – not lovely, really. Interesting.”
Brains: The Mind As Matter is many things but, agreed, lovely is not one of them.
Having said that, some of the exhibits are beautiful. The first exhibit in the show is an image of artist Katharine Dowson’s brain, lasered onto lead crystal glass.
The delicacy of both this piece and Pablo García Lopez’s silk digital animation, A Very Big Brain is Coming, is at odds with the comparatively lumpen, but no less interesting, models in the first main section, Measuring/Classifying.
This section looks at the rise of phrenology and anthropometry – disciplines that perhaps tell us more about societal prejudice than they do about brain function.
The work of 19th and 20th century psychiatrist and phrenology proponent Bernard Hollander includes a drawing of the skull of a “cruel and violent” prostitute, used to validate Hollander’s theory that certain skull shapes denoted unsavoury characters.
Visitors can also see examples of anthropometric data collection in Empirical India and the work of “father of eugenics” Sir Francis Galton. These act as disturbing reminders of how the brain has been used as a prop to assert racial, social and intellectual superiority.
There are genuine preserved brains on show, including that of American suffrage campaigner Helen H. Gardener.Preserved brain of Helen Hamilton Gardener (image courtesy of Wellcome Collection)
These could be disconcerting, but for the squeamish there are models and some exquisite drawings to examine in the Mapping/Modelling section.
Anatomist Vesalius’ extraordinary 1555 drawings give way to some glorious images of brain cells from groundbreaking Spanish neuroscientist Santiago Ramón y Cajal, and a compelling video purporting to map brain activity in a subject listening to music.
The entire vascular (blood vessel) system of a whole animal or organ, down to the smallest capillaries, can be injected with liquid plastic that fills the blood space and rapidly solidifies. The surrounding tissue is then corroded away with an acid or alkaline solution, leaving a hardened cast that accurately represents the form of the original vascular system. With the finest casts made from modern low-viscosity resin, the results can be inspected with electron microscopes, and their geometry mathematically analysed.
Imagine giving birth in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. Then after you question some shots the hospital wants to give the baby, you are told that you are under investigation and you can't see your baby.
. . .
According to an attorney representing the family, Jodi Ferris, the mother, was told conflicting reports about the health of her baby. When she questioned shots the nurses gave and wanted to give, a social worker showed up in her hospital room, "announcing she was there to conduct an investigation."
The family attorney's statement continues by stating when Ferris asked about the allegations, the social worker replied: "Since you're not going to cooperate, I'll just call the police and we can take custody of the baby."
Ferris says that's exactly what they did, they took her baby.
. . .
Hershey Medical Center released a statement Thursday stating, “the version of what occurred at the time as presented by the Ferrises' attorney is inaccurate and incomplete."
I would hope this isn't typical of social service investigations, but I've heard enough horror stories to think it's not unheard of either.
I would speculate that Scott and Jodi Ferris, who home school their older children, were already on the social worker's and the nurses' radar before mother and daughter were wheeled into the hospital. Many doctors look askance at women who plan to give birth at home and use a midwife instead of a OBGYN and think it puts the baby at risk of death or injury. The Ferrises may have been known to hospital staff already for their beliefs in home births and use of a midwife, particularly since they have older children. I wonder if a nurse on the maternity ward was just waiting for an opportunity to report this family.
A number of social workers are also suspicious of home schoolers. Parents are legally permitted to refuse vaccines for a child for reasons of religious belief and/or personal conviction in all but two states; Pennsylvania law explicitly permits parents to refuse the Vitamin K and Hepatitis B injections on religious grounds. However, doctors and social workers both tend to frown on parents who question vaccinations, despite that law.
In short, Scott and Jodi Ferris are apparently on the fringe, which left them vulnerable to this sort of harassment by doctors and social workers and that isn't acceptable.
A man shopping at an adult novelty store in Orange became stuck in a pair of handcuffs for nearly an hour Thursday afternoon.
. . .
VIP employees tried the keys that came with the love-cuffs, but with no luck. Arriving officers tried their own handcuff keys, but those didn't work either.
If that wasn't enough for the man, officers decided to bring him to police headquarters to attempt to remove the handcuffs there. Police did not have to use lubricant, but instead used bolt cutters to free the man.
. . .
VIP stores are known for selling sexually-oriented adult items from lotions to x-rated videos.
The gangs of right-wing thugs, sometimes up to 20 at a time, approach their victims on foot or on mopeds, carrying clubs and knives. They are masked, faceless and fast. They appear suddenly and silently before striking.
The neo-fascists are hunting down immigrants in the middle of downtown Athens, in the streets north of the central Omonia Square. They call it cleansing.
They hunt people like Massoud, a 25-year-old Afghan from Kabul. He has been living in Athens for five years without a residency permit, even though he speaks fluent Greek. He studied geography in Kabul, but in Athens he works as a day laborer.
The gangs also hunt the dark-skinned man pushing a shopping cart filled with garbage and scrap metal through the streets. Or the woman with Asian features, who now grabs her child and the paper cup with which she has just been begging in the streets.
. . .
Here, in the middle of the city, the central issue is no longer the nation's insolvency but its social bankruptcy. The plaster is crumbling on the polykatoikias, the apartment buildings typical of Athens, and so is civilization. And in the places where poverty and destitution are most clearly evident, hatred is outpacing any desire to help people.
. . .
The situation is untenable, says Kanakis, and the mood becomes increasingly aggressive among both Greeks and immigrants. There is more violence, including muggings and holdup murders. Everyone knows this, even though no one is keeping accurate statistics. Doctors are diagnosing more syphilis and tuberculosis, at levels that haven't been seen in decades. In 2011, the rate of new HIV infections increased by 1,250 percent over the previous year.
. . .
Many residents feel abandoned by the state, the city and the police. According to a study by the University of Peloponnese, more than 90 percent of shop and tavern owners in the downtown area believe that their neighborhood is "very unsafe." More than half say that they have already been attacked and robbed. Hotels are closing or hiring security personnel.
... Azerbaijan is strategically located on Iran's northern border and, according to several high-level sources I've spoken with inside the U.S. government, Obama administration officials now believe that the "submerged" aspect of the Israeli-Azerbaijani alliance -- the security cooperation between the two countries -- is heightening the risks of an Israeli strike on Iran.
In particular, four senior diplomats and military intelligence officers say that the United States has concluded that Israel has recently been granted access to airbases on Iran's northern border. To do what, exactly, is not clear. "The Israelis have bought an airfield," a senior administration official told me in early February, "and the airfield is called Azerbaijan."
. . .
The Azeri embassy to the United States also did not respond to requests for information regarding Azerbaijan's security agreements with Israel. During a recent visit to Tehran, however, Azerbaijan's defense minister publicly ruled out the use of Azerbaijan for a strike on Iran. "The Republic of Azerbaijan, like always in the past, will never permit any country to take advantage of its land, or air, against the Islamic Republic of Iran, which we consider our brother and friend country," he said.
But even if his government makes good on that promise, it could still provide Israel with essential support. A U.S. military intelligence officer noted that Azeri defense minister did not explicitly bar Israeli bombers from landing in the country after a strike. Nor did he rule out the basing of Israeli search-and-rescue units in the country. Proffering such landing rights -- and mounting search and rescue operations closer to Iran -- would make an Israeli attack on Iran easier.
"We're watching what Iran does closely," one of the U.S. sources, an intelligence officer engaged in assessing the ramifications of a prospective Israeli attack confirmed. "But we're now watching what Israel is doing in Azerbaijan. And we're not happy about it."
Israel's deepening relationship with the Baku government was cemented in February by a $1.6 billion arms agreement that provides Azerbaijan with sophisticated drones and missile-defense systems. At the same time, Baku's ties with Tehran have frayed: Iran presented a note to Azerbaijan's ambassador last month claiming that Baku has supported Israeli-trained assassination squads targeting Iranian scientists, an accusation the Azeri government called "a slander." In February, a member of Yeni Azerbadzhan -- the ruling party -- called on the government to change the country's name to "North Azerbaijan," implicitly suggesting that the 16 million Azeris who live in northern Iran ("South Azerbaijan") are in need of liberation.
And this month, Baku announced that 22 people had been arrested for spying on behalf of Iran, charging they had been tasked by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to "commit terrorist acts against the U.S., Israeli, and other Western states' embassies." The allegations prompted multiple angry denials from the Iranian government.
It's clear why the Israelis prize their ties to Azerbaijan -- and why the Iranians are infuriated by them. The Azeri military has four abandoned, Soviet-era airfields that would potentially be available to the Israelis, as well as four airbases for their own aircraft, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies' Military Balance 2011.
. . .
Access to such airfields is important for Israel, because it would mean that Israeli F-15I and F-16I fighter-bombers would not have to refuel midflight during a strike on Iran's nuclear facilities, but could simply continue north and land in Azerbaijan. Defense analyst David Isenberg describes the ability to use Azeri airfields as "a significant asset" to any Israel strike, calculating that the 2,200-mile trip from Israel to Iran and back again would stretch Israel's warplanes to their limits. "Even if they added extra fuel tanks, they'd be running on fumes," Isenberg told me, "so being allowed access to Azeri airfields would be crucial."
Former CENTCOM commander Gen. Joe Hoar simplified Israel's calculations: "They save themselves 800 miles of fuel," he told me in a recent telephone interview. "That doesn't guarantee that Israel will attack Iran, but it certainly makes it more doable."
As any intelligent observer surveys the world's economic and political landscape, he has to be disturbed – even dismayed and a bit frightened – by the gravity and number of problems that mark the horizon. We're confronted by economic depression, looming financial chaos, serious currency inflation, onerous taxation, crippling regulation, developing police states and, worst of all, the prospect of a major war. It seems almost unbelievable that we are talking of the US – which historically has been the land of the free.
How did we get here? An argument can be made that miscalculation, accident, inattention and the like are why things go bad. Those elements do have a role, but it is minor. Potential catastrophe across the board can't be the result of happenstance. When things go wrong on a grand scale, it's not just bad luck or inadvertence. It's because of serious character flaws in one or many – or even all – of the players.
So is there a root cause of all the problems I've cited? If we can find it, it may tell us how we personally can best respond to the problems.
In this article, I'm going to argue that the US government, in particular, is being overrun by the wrong kind of person. It's a trend that's been in motion for many years but has now reached a point of no return. In other words, a type of moral rot has become so prevalent that it's institutional in nature. There is not going to be, therefore, any serious change in the direction in which the US is headed until a genuine crisis topples the existing order. Until then, the trend will accelerate.
The reason is that a certain class of people – sociopaths – are now fully in control of major American institutions. Their beliefs and attitudes are insinuated throughout the economic, political, intellectual and psychological/spiritual fabric of the US.
. . .
You may be thinking that what happened in places like Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, Mao's China, Pol Pot's Cambodia and scores of other countries in recent history could not, for some reason, happen in the US. Actually, there's no reason it won't at this point. All the institutions that made America exceptional – including a belief in capitalism, individualism, self-reliance and the restraints of the Constitution – are now only historical artifacts.
On the other hand, the distribution of sociopaths is completely uniform across both space and time. Per capita, there were no more evil people in Stalin's Russia, Hitler's Germany, Mao's China, Amin's Uganda, Ceausescu's Romania or Pol Pot's Cambodia than there are today in the US. All you need is favorable conditions for them to bloom, much as mushrooms do after a rainstorm.
Conditions for them in the US are becoming quite favorable. Have you ever wondered where the 50,000 people employed by the TSA to inspect and degrade you came from? Most of them are middle-aged. Did they have jobs before they started doing something that any normal person would consider demeaning? Most did, but they were attracted to – not repelled by – a job where they wear a costume and abuse their fellow citizens all day.
. . .
It's a pity that Bush, when he was in office, made such a big deal of evil. He discredited the concept. He made Boobus americanus think it only existed in a distant axis, in places like North Korea, Iraq and Iran – which were and still are irrelevant backwaters and arbitrarily chosen enemies. Bush trivialized the concept of evil and made it seem banal because he was such a fool. All the while real evil, very immediate and powerful, was growing right around him, and he lacked the awareness to see he was fertilizing it by turning the US into a national security state after 9/11.
Now, I believe, it's out of control. The US is already in a truly major depression and on the edge of financial chaos and a currency meltdown. The sociopaths in government will react by redoubling the pace toward a police state domestically and starting a major war abroad. To me, this is completely predictable. It's what sociopaths do.
. . .
It's very simple, really. There are two ways people can relate to each other: voluntarily or coercively. The government is pure coercion, and sociopaths are drawn to its power and force.
But if the woman waits too long before beginning the conversation, you may begin it yourself, skillfully. First you should say things that have nothing to do with your subject — make her laugh at something, or else praise her home, or her family, or herself. Because women — particularly middle-class women from the country — commonly delight in being commended and readily believe every word that looks like praise. Then after these remarks that have nothing to do with your subject, you may go on in this fashion:
“When the Divine Being made you, there was nothing that He left undone. I know that there is no defect in your beauty, none in your good sense, none in you at all except, it seems to me, that you have enriched no one by your love. I marvel greatly that Love permits so beautiful and so sensible a woman to serve for long outside his camp. O, if you should take service with Love, blessed above all others will that man be whom you shall crown with your love! Now if I, by my merits, might be worthy of such an honor, no lover in the world could really be compared with me.”
“You may deserve praise for your great excellence, but I am rather young, and I shudder at the thought of receiving solaces from old men.”
A new species of wasp discovered on the Indonesian island Sulawesi is two-and-a-half inches long, and has jaws so vast that its discoverer admits, 'I don't know how it can walk.'
Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology at the University of California, Davis, says ‘Its jaws are so large that they wrap up either side of the head when closed. When the jaws are open they are actually longer than the male’s front legs.'
Kimsey discovered the warrior wasp on the Mekongga Mountains in southeastern Sulawesi.
She says its enormous size and ferocity makes it like 'the Komodo Dragon of wasps'.
. . .
'The large jaws probably play a role in defense and reproduction,' she said.
‘In another species in the genus the males hang out in the nest entrance. This serves to protect the nest from parasites and nest robbing, and for this he exacts payment from the female by mating with her every time she returns to the nest. So it's a way of guaranteeing paternity. Additionally, the jaws are big enough to wrap around the female's thorax and hold her during mating.’
The Russians are picking our pockets, the Chinese are stealing our most vital secrets, and there’s nothing we can do about it – and it’s all going to get worse.
That was the basic conclusion after Friday’s Air Force Association cyber-conference, where speaker after speaker drove home the utter futility and helplessness of today’s cyber climate, all the while warning that the problem will only grow.
Richard Bejtlich, chief security officer for the info-security firm Mandiant, said 100 percent of the high-profile intrusions his company tracks were done with “valid credentials” – meaning the cyber bad-guys had been able to steal a real user’s login and password, obviating the need for more complex attacks.
The typical time between an intrusion and its discovery is 416 days, he said – down from two or three years – and the way most companies find out about them is when they get a visit from the FBI.
The publicly available malware in the so-called “cyber underground” is now so good that you can do a lot of damage without a dedicated team of code-writers coming up with their own stuff, speakers said.
. . .
[Bejtlich] described how a company had approached Mandiant befuddled that someone would want to steal a certain proprietary device, because it only worked in combination with a specific chemical formula owned by another company. Naturally, it wasn’t long before the second company discovered it was compromised, and also befuddled because its chemical formula would only be useful to someone who had information about the device manufactured by the first.
Online miscreants are also becoming more sophisticated at a strategic level, Bejtlich said: He described how they might target small companies that were merging with larger ones, to avoid trying to attack the bigger firm’s online security. Instead, by compromising a small company’s computer networks, the bad guys can then get into the new common network after a merger.
This can have profound financial as well as security implications, Bejtlich said – if you’re an aerospace giant and you want to acquire a small firm because its widget is worth $10 million, but then you discover it’s been cyber-stolen and no longer proprietary, the technology might only be worth $10,000, and that could put your shareholders and Wall Street in a bad mood.
. . .
An audience member’s question Friday crystallized all the speakers’ points at the cyber-conference: The much-feared “Cyber Pearl Harbor” has already happened, he said. Global cyber crime is more profitable than the drug trade. America’s onetime technological advantage is gone; much of its intellectual property secrets have been stolen.
“People just haven’t realized it yet,” the questioner said.
1. Smith & Wesson Model 686 revolver, caliber .357 Magnum. This holds 6 rounds in the cylinder. I usually carry at least one speedloader (commonly two) with 6 extra rounds apiece for rapid reloading. Let's assume two for this example. That means I'll have 18 rounds on my person when carrying the gun. If I replace them with fresh ammunition every 3 months, I'll need 72 rounds per year (assuming I don't need to shoot in self-defense, of course!). In a two-year stash of defensive ammunition, I'll need 144 rounds - or, more logically, 3 x 50-round boxes of ammo. At current prices for premium defensive ammunition, this will cost about $135.
2. M1911-type semi-automatic pistol, caliber .45 ACP. This pistol usually carries 7 or 8 rounds in its magazine, plus one in the chamber ready to fire. We'll assume you carry 7+1 in the gun, plus two 7-round spare magazines, for a total 'on-body' ammo load of 22 rounds. Replacing them every three months, you'll go through 88 rounds a year. A two-year supply of defensive ammo will thus involve at least 176 rounds, or 9 x 20-round boxes of ammo. At current prices for premium defensive ammunition, this will cost about $280.
3. Glock 19 semi-automatic pistol, caliber 9mm. Parabellum. This pistol holds up to 15 rounds in its magazine, plus one in the chamber. We'll assume you carry at least one spare magazine with the gun, for a total ammo load of up to 31 rounds. Replacing these four times a year gives 124 rounds, so a two-year supply of defensive ammo will be 248 rounds, or 5 x 50-round boxes. At current prices for premium defensive ammunition, this will cost about $150.
4. AR-15 type semi-automatic rifle, caliber 5.56x45mm NATO. The standard magazines for this weapon hold up to 30 rounds, although 20-round magazines are also fairly common. Furthermore, experienced users usually download the magazines by up to 10% to prevent feeding problems, so that a 30-round mag will normally hold 27-28 rounds. We'll assume you have one magazine in the weapon for home defense, with a single spare magazine available. Since you're presumably not carrying the weapon around with you, you won't expose the rifle to as much dust and dirt as a handgun, which means you can probably get away with replacing the carry loads only twice per year, for an annual total of about 120 rounds of defensive ammo. Since 5.56mm. ammo is usually sold in 20-round boxes, that means a minimum two-year stockpile of at least 12 boxes. At current prices for premium defensive ammunition, this will cost about $300.
5. Mossberg 500 pump-action shotgun in 12 gauge. The shotgun (in its standard model) holds up to 5 rounds in its tubular magazine, plus one in the chamber, and users will usually carry sufficient rounds for at least one reload (I prefer two) on their persons or in an ammo carrying device. That means at least 15 rounds in a combat load. Again, you probably won't carry this gun with you at all times, so the ammo won't be exposed to as much dirt and dust as a handgun's; however, it's plastic-cased, meaning that it's more easily damaged than metal-cased cartridges. I therefore recommend rotating shotgun ammo every three months, for an annual consumption of at least 60 rounds. Defensive shotgun ammo (buckshot and slug loads) is usually packaged in 5-round boxes, so that means a two-year stockpile of at least 24 x 5-round boxes. At current prices for premium defensive ammunition, this will cost about $160.