Tuesday, December 31, 2013

TODD'S AMERICAN DISPATCH: Christian bakery closes after LGBT threats, protests

A family-owned Christian bakery, under investigation for refusing to bake a wedding cake for a lesbian couple, has been forced to close its doors after a vicious boycott by militant homosexual activists.

Sweet Cakes By Melissa posted a message on its Facebook page alerting customers that their Gresham, Ore. retail store would be shut down after months of harassment from pro-gay marriage forces.

“Better is a poor man who walks in integrity than a rich man who is crooked in his ways,” read a posting from Proverbs on the bakery’s Facebook page.
“The LGBT attacks are the reason we are shutting down the shop. They have killed our business through mob tactics.”
- Aaron Klein, owner, Sweet Cakes By Melissa
“It’s a sad day for Christian business owners and it’s a sad day for the First Amendment,” owner Aaron Klein told me. “The LGBT attacks are the reason we are shutting down the shop. They have killed our business through mob tactics.”

Last January, Aaron and Melissa Klein made national headlines when they refused to bake a wedding cake for a lesbian couple.
For FULL article, go to:  http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2013/09/03/todd-american-dispatch-christian-bakery-closes-after-lgbt-threats-protests/

Gay couple to marry on Rose Parade float

Rose Parade, gay wedding
Aubrey Loots, left, and Danny Leclair, standing next to notary public Marilyn Townsend, display their signed marriage certificate just days before their Rose Parade wedding. Loots and Leclair will wed on the AIDS Healthcare Foundation's float on New Year's Day. (Eric Reed / AP Images for AIDS Healthcare Foundation)

Danny Leclair snapped a photo of two toy grooms holding hands. He then sent the photo via email to his longtime partner, Aubrey Loots, with a question:
"Do you want to get married on a Rose Parade float?"
Loots agreed, and on New Year’s Day the Los Angeles couple will become real-life wedding cake toppers when they say “I do” on a cake-shaped float in the 125th Tournament of Roses Parade.
The AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s float, “Living the Dream: Love Is the Best Protection,” was created to celebrate victories in 2013 for gay marriage advocates, including Supreme Court decisions upholding the repeal of California’s Proposition 8 and striking down a key part of the Defense of Marriage Act.
Foundation spokesman Ged Kenslea said the organization supports legally sanctioning same-sex marriage because it encourages more stable relationships among gay men as well as behavior that will prevent the spread of HIV.
“We believe that marriage saves lives,” he said.

For FULL article, go to: http://www.latimes.com/local/la-me-ln-gay-wedding-rose-parade-20131228,0,1994835.story#ixzz2p3dyCbm2

Camille Paglia: A Feminist Defense of Masculine Virtues. The cultural critic on why ignoring the biological differences between men and women risks undermining Western civilization.

'What you're seeing is how a civilization commits suicide," says Camille Paglia. This self-described "notorious Amazon feminist" isn't telling anyone to Lean In or asking Why Women Still Can't Have It All. No, her indictment may be as surprising as it is wide-ranging: The military is out of fashion, Americans undervalue manual labor, schools neuter male students, opinion makers deny the biological differences between men and women, and sexiness is dead. And that's just 20 minutes of our three-hour conversation.
When Ms. Paglia, now 66, burst onto the national stage in 1990 with the publishing of "Sexual Personae," she immediately established herself as a feminist who was the scourge of the movement's establishment, a heretic to its orthodoxy. Pick up the 700-page tome, subtitled "Art and Decadence From Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson, " and it's easy to see why. "If civilization had been left in female hands," she wrote, "we would still be living in grass huts."
The fact that the acclaimed book—the first of six; her latest, "Glittering Images," is a survey of Western art—was rejected by seven publishers and five agents before being printed by Yale University Press only added to Ms. Paglia's sense of herself as a provocateur in a class with Rush Limbaugh and Howard Stern. But unlike those radio jocks, Ms. Paglia has scholarly chops: Her dissertation adviser at Yale was Harold Bloom, and she is as likely to discuss Freud, Oscar Wilde or early Native American art as to talk about Miley Cyrus.
Ms. Paglia relishes her outsider persona, having previously described herself as an egomaniac and "abrasive, strident and obnoxious." Talking to her is like a mental CrossFit workout. One moment she's praising pop star Rihanna ("a true artist"), then blasting ObamaCare ("a monstrosity," though she voted for the president), global warming ("a religious dogma"), and the idea that all gay people are born gay ("the biggest canard," yet she herself is a lesbian).
Neil Davies
But no subject gets her going more than when I ask if she really sees a connection between society's attempts to paper over the biological distinction between men and women and the collapse of Western civilization.
She starts by pointing to the diminished status of military service. "The entire elite class now, in finance, in politics and so on, none of them have military service—hardly anyone, there are a few. But there is no prestige attached to it anymore. That is a recipe for disaster," she says. "These people don't think in military ways, so there's this illusion out there that people are basically nice, people are basically kind, if we're just nice and benevolent to everyone they'll be nice too. They literally don't have any sense of evil or criminality."
The results, she says, can be seen in everything from the dysfunction in Washington (where politicians "lack practical skills of analysis and construction") to what women wear. "So many women don't realize how vulnerable they are by what they're doing on the street," she says, referring to women who wear sexy clothes.
For FULL article, go to: http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303997604579240022857012920

Academics Who Defend Wall St. Reap Reward

The Chicago Mercantile Exchange has given more than $1.4 million to the University of Illinois since 2008, with most of the money going to the business school.

Signs of the energy business are inescapable in and around Houston — the pipelines, refineries and tankers that crowd the harbor, and the gleaming office towers where oil companies and energy traders have transformed the skyline.

And in a squat glass building on theUniversity of Houston campus, a measure of the industry’s pre-eminence can also be found in the person of Craig Pirrong, a professor of finance, who sits at the nexus of commerce and academia.
As energy companies and traders have reaped fortunes by buying and selling oil and other commodities during the recent boom in the commodity markets, Mr. Pirrong has positioned himself as the hard-nosed defender of financial speculators — the combative, occasionally acerbic academic authority to call upon when difficult questions arise in Congress and elsewhere about the multitrillion-dollar global commodities trade.
Do financial speculators and commodity index funds drive up prices of oil and other essentials, ultimately costing consumers? Since 2006, Mr. Pirrong has written a flurry of influential letters to federal agencies arguing that the answer to that question is an emphatic no. He has testified before Congress to that effect, hosted seminars with traders and government regulators, and given countless interviews for financial publications absolving Wall Street speculation of any appreciable role in the price spikes.
What Mr. Pirrong has routinely left out of most of his public pronouncements in favor of speculation is that he has reaped financial benefits from speculators and some of the largest players in the commodities business, The New York Times has found.
For FULL article, go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/28/business/academics-who-defend-wall-st-reap-reward.html?_r=1&

Sunday, December 29, 2013


Police in Jacksonville, Fla., say made five arrests after more than 600 people got into a brawl in the parking lot of a movie theater.

The fight broke out in the Regal River City Marketplace theater parking lot around 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, WJXT-TV, Jacksonville, reported.

About 600 people were in the lot, fighting and jumping on cars. Many did not have movie tickets, said Jacksonville Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Lauri-Ellen Smith.

Smith said 62 officers were brought in to disperse the crowd, using pepper spray and other tactics.

There were no reports of gunfire or serious injuries.
Among the five arrested were three juveniles, an 18-year-old, and a 19-year-old.

For FULL article, go to:  http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2013/12/27/Fight-involving-600-people-breaks-out-in-movie-theater-parking-lot

Hundreds of 'Teens' Trash Mall in Wild Flash Mob

Hundreds of teenagers stormed and trashed a Brooklyn mall in a wild flash mob that forced the shopping center to close its doors during day-after-Christmas sales, sources said on Friday.

More than 400 crazed teens grabbed and smashed jars of candy, stole cheap items such as baby balloons and beat up security guards at Kings Plaza Shopping Center in Mill Basin between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m., merchants said.

A violent game of “Knockout” also broke out on the upper level of the mall—and one teen may have been carrying a gun, sources said.

The teens used social media to plan the mass looting, vowing to put the mall “on tilt”–or to raid it, according to posts on Facebook and Twitter.


Clerks at shops such as Macy’s, Victoria’s Secret and Mac quickly rolled down metal gates as security guards tried desperately to break up the mob. The mall was closed for roughly an hour around 7 p.m., sources said.

Violent fights also broke out in front of McDonald’s and Best Buy, sources said. Video footage shows a pack of teenage girls punching each other and screaming as security guards struggled to break up the brawl.


Some teens took to Twitter to brag about the trashing the mall.

“Kings Plaza was on tilt today,” Ray Rat Sextana wrote on Facebook.

Another teen, Mark Wallace, added, “Sh-t was crazy at Kings Plaza. So the security started shutting down the mall and kicking all teens out but it was so much of us they couldn’t get control.”

Police sources said it’s unclear what prompted the mall madness but some of the teens incorrectly believed the rapper Fabolous would be performing at the mall, according to social media posts.


Other teens bragged on social media about beating up security guards and breaking bus windows on the ride home.

“Teens rioting at Kings Plaza. They just shut the mall DOWN . . . . Rrowdy teens fighting and running through out the mall. It was crazy!!!” one mall-goer posted.

For FULL article, go to:  http://www.amren.com/news/2013/12/hundreds-of-teens-trash-mall-in-wild-flash-mob/

Eat Better in Germany | Discover Germany

A testament to economic resilience: World trade and output both reached new all-time record highs in October

The CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis released its monthly report last week on world trade and world industrial production for the month of October 2013. Here are some of the highlights of that report:
1. World merchandise trade volume (adjusted for price changes) increased by 1.4% in October from September, and by 4.1% from a year ago to reach a new all-time record high in October (see blue line in chart above). On a month-over-month basis, import growth in October was 1.3% for both the advanced economies and the emerging economies, while export growth was higher in the emerging economies (1.9%) than in the advanced economies (1.1%).
2. On an annual basis through October, the volume of trade grew faster in the emerging economies than in the advanced economies for both exports (4.7% vs. 3.6%) and imports (5.4% vs. 2.9%).
3. At a new record high of 134.6 for the world trade index in October, the volume of global trade is now more than 10% above its previous cyclical peak of 122.2 in early 2008, and 37.3% above the recessionary cyclical low of 98 in May 2009.
4. World industrial production (adjusted for price changes) increased in October on a monthly basis by 0.2% to a new record high, led by monthly growth of 0.6% in the emerging economies which offset the -0.2% decline in the advanced economies in October (see red line in chart). On an annual basis, world industrial output increased 3.2% in October, with especially strong year-over-year output growth in the emerging economies of 4.2%, led by growth in the Emerging Asian economies of 7.1%. Factory output in the advanced economies grew by 3.2%, led by Japan with 5.1% growth, followed by the US with 3.4% growth. Manufacturing output in October was flat in the Euro area from a year ago (-0.1%) and declined by 3.5% in Africa and the Middle East.
5. At an all-time high index level of 121.7 in Octoberworld industrial output is now 7.2% above its previous recession-era peak in February 2008 of 113.5, and 23.7% above the recessionary low of 98.4 in February 2009.
For FULL article, go to: http://www.aei-ideas.org/2013/12/a-testament-to-economic-resilience-world-trade-and-output-both-reached-new-all-time-record-highs-in-october/?utm

Couple faces $3,500 fine for negative online review

A Utah couple is facing $3,500 in fines and a damaged credit score after they posted a negative review online about a company they had tried to buy Christmas presents from several years ago.
In 2008, John Palmer bought his wife Jen gifts off KlearGear.com, but the company inexplicably canceled the sale and the items never arrived, CNNreported. The money was also returned to Mr. Palmer’s PayPal account.
After several failed attempts to reach a customer service rep, Mrs. Palmer posted a review on ripoffreport.com, saying in part,”There is absolutely no way to get in touch with a physical human being. No extensions work,” CNN reported.
It wasn’t until three years later that the couple received an email from KlearGear.com, demanding they remove the statement from ripoffreport.com within 72 hours, or else be fined $3,500.
The e-mail cited a non-disparagement clause that was apparently included in the terms of sale: “Your acceptance of this sales contract prohibits you from taking any action that negatively impacts KlearGear.com.”

For FULL article, go to: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/dec/26/couple-faces-3500-fine-negative-online-review/#.UrxzFD8XQAk.twitter

Saturday, December 28, 2013

The End of Erdogan’s Cave of Wonders: An I-Told-You-So

Turkey is coming apart. The Islamist coalition that crushed the secular military and political establishment–between Tayip Erdogan’s ruling AK Party and the Islamist movement around Fethullah Gulen–has cracked. The Gulenists, who predominate in the security forces, have arrested the sons of top government ministers for helping Iran to launder money and circumvent sanctions, and ten members of Erdogan’s cabinet have resigned. Turkey’s currency is in free fall, and that’s just the beginning of the country’s troubles: about two-fifths of corporate debt is in foreign currencies, so the cost of servicing it jumps whenever the Turkish lira declines. Turkish stocks have crashed (and were down another 5% in dollar terms in early trading Friday). As the charts below illustrate, so much for Turkey’s miracle economy.
Two years ago I predicted a Turkish economic crash. Erdogan’s much-vaunted economic miracle stemmed mainly from vast credit expansion to fuel an import boom, leaving the country with a current account deficit of 7 % of GDP (about the same as Greece before it went bankrupt) and a mushrooming pile of short-term foreign debt. The Gulf states kept financing Erdogan’s import bill, evidently because they wanted to keep a Sunni power in business as a counterweight to Iran; perhaps they have tired of Turkey’s double-dealing with the Persians. And credulous investors kept piling into Turkish stocks.
I reiterated my warning that Turkey would unravel at regular intervals, for example here.
No more. Turkey is a mediocre economy at best with a poorly educated workforce, no high-tech capacity, and shrinking markets in depressed Europe and the unstable Arab world. Its future might well be as an economic tributary of China, as the “New Silk Road” extends high-speed rail lines to the Bosporus.
For the past ten years we have heard ad nauseum about the “Turkish model” of “Muslim democracy.” The George W. Bush administration courted Erdogan even before he became prime minister, and Obama went out of his way to make Erdogan his principal pal in foreign policy. I have been ridiculing this notion for years, for example in this 2010 essay for Tablet.
The whole notion was flawed from top to bottom. Turkey was not in line to become an economic power of any kind: it lacked the people and skills to do anything better than medium-tech manufacturing. Its Islamists never were democrats. Worst of all, its demographics are as bad as Europe’s. Ethnic Turks have a fertility rate close to 1.5 children per family, while the Kurdish minority is having 4 children per family. Within a generation half of Turkey’s young men will come from families where Kurdish is the first language.
Chart forUSD/TRY (TRY=X)
Chart foriShares MSCI Turkey (TUR)
For FULL article, go to: http://pjmedia.com/spengler/2013/12/27/the-end-of-erdogans-cave-of-wonders-an-i-told-you-so/?singlepage=true

In Russia, Ten Years in Jail for “Extremist” Speech by Igor Artemov

Editor’s note: Below is short article by Igor Artemov, chairman of the Russian All-National Union (RONS). The view of Vladimir Putin presented by Artemov contrasts sharply with the previous featured article, by Robert Bonomo. There is no doubt that the Western media harps on restrictions on free speech in Russia directed against Pussy Riot and propagandists for homosexuality—implying that Russian policies are illiberal, if not fascist. Such policies are clearly out of step with “enlightened opinion” in the West and hence detested by the New York Times, the target of Bonomo’s article.  Bonomo also implicitly suggests that the Western media and the NY Timesin particular are concerned with the treatment of certain Jews who have run afoul of the Russian legal system (Browder, Magnitsky, Khodorkovsky), all of whom have become causes célèbres in the West, especially amongneocons (e.g., Richard Perle led the campaign to free Khodorkovsky). And of course, Putin is also in disfavor in the West because of policies supporting the Syrian government and Iran, as well as strong ties between Russia and Ukraine.
However, Putin’s policies against the cultural Marxist zeitgeist that  dominates the West is only part of the story. Roman Frolov, who translated Artemov’s article and is in touch with nationalist circles  in Russia, writes that “for each persecuted Pussy Riot member there are thousands of Russian men persecuted for as little as derogatory remarks about migrants made in social networks. However, you have heard nothing about them because mass media is not interested in them and they don’t have powerful advocates.”
The NY Times et al. completely ignore the jailing of Russian nationalists; homosexual activists and Pussy Riot are another matter altogether.
The use of the legal system against Russian nationalists has been described in a previous TOO article by Pyotr Antonov (“Russian political prisoners in the Russian Federation,” August 6, 2013).  Antonov notes that
when reporting about the problem of political prisoners in Russia, mass media in Russia and abroad almost exclusively focus on Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the late Sergei Magnitsky and the “prisoners of May 6, 2012. “This creates an impression that the list of victims of political persecutions in Russia is limited by these people. However, in truth this is only the tip of the iceberg. Many, many others have been imprisoned during last several years for the sole ‘crime’ of being publically active Russian Nationalists.

For FULL article, go to: http://www.theoccidentalobserver.net/2013/12/in-russia-ten-years-in-jail-for-extremist-speech/

The Straight Dope on Homosexuality

The Straight Dope on Homosexuality
Is homosexuality a perversion? If not, is it entirely normal? Almost normal? 
These days, the very idea of perversion is out of fashion. The Washington Post would probably use the word only to describe an intense desire to balance the budget or enforce immigration laws.
However, a practical, even scientific definition of sexual perversion begins by defining the objects of normal, healthy reproductive desire. Wanting to have sex with anything that falls outside that definition is perversion. 
Obviously, reproductive desire should be for another person. This means that sexual desire for trees or goats or ladies’ shoes is perversion. Sexual desire should also be for a live human being, which rules out dead people. And the live human beings should be at least of reproductive age, so wanting sex with children is also perverted. 
But what do all these excluded objects of desire have in common? They are a complete dead end. For someone’s reproductive drives to be oriented toward children or rocks or goats or dead people is perverse because a reproductive urge in any of those directions is bound to fail. It’s an evolutionary absurdity.
For FULL article, go to: http://takimag.com/article/the_straight_dope_on_homosexuality_elizabeth_mccaw/print#axzz2oiS3eOsM

The Horrors of Oradour - Remembering Franco-German history | People & Po...

America's market sector develops skills our education system leaves untapped

In a post-Christmas blog post my indefatigable American Enterprise Institute colleague Jim Pethokoukis points to a study that shows that no economy in the world rewards smart, skilled workers more than the United States. the study, by economists Eric Hanushek, Guido Schwerdt, Simon Wiederhold and Ludger Woessmann, and published by the National Bureau for Economic Research, quantifies the return on numeracy skills for the U.S. at 28 percent, significantly ahead of Ireland, Germany, Spain and the U.K., which range between 21 percent and 23 percent. Korea, Canada, Poland and Japan hover below 20 percent.
Pethokoukis argues that the higher returns come in “economies with more open, private-sector-based labor markets.” He goes on to ask, “Wouldn’t this seem to argue that higher U.S. inequality — based on pre-tax, pre-transfer market incomes — reflects 21st century market forces rewarding ability rather than some sort of breakdown in social norms.”
To this (seemingly rhetorical) question I would answer "yes," and would go on to say that it tends to confirm the thesis of my 2004 bookHard America, Soft America. In it, I contrasted Hard America -- the parts of American society in which there is competition and accountability, and Soft America, the parts of American society in which there isn't. K-12 education, in my view, is part of Soft America; the competitive market economy is part of Hard America.
When Americans emerge from Soft America at age 18 (or at age 22 or so, when they emerge from college, which Geoffrey Collier's piece in yesterday's Wall Street Journal says is pretty Soft too), they don't measure up well next to similarly aged people in many other advanced countries. But when they get into Hard America, where skills and smarts are well rewarded, they shoot ahead.
We don’t want every part of our society to be Hard, I argued in the book; kindergartners shouldn’t be subjected to Marine Corps boot training. But we would do well to Harden some parts of Soft America — like our K-12 schools and, it seems, our colleges and universities as well.
For FULL article, go to: http://washingtonexaminer.com/americas-market-sector-develops-skills-our-education-system-leaves-untapped/article/2541266

Friday, December 27, 2013

Oregon State University Eliminates Last Speech Code, Earns Highest Rating for Free Speech Policies

Oregon State University (OSU) joins an elite group of colleges and universities by becoming just the 17th school in the country to receive FIRE’s highest, “green light,” rating for free speech policies. A college or university earns a green light when its written policies do not seriously imperil free speech. While the clear majority of the nation’s colleges maintain policies that clearly and substantially restrict freedom of speech, OSU is now a proud exception. It is Oregon’s first-ever green light school, and its policy change affects more than 27,000 students.
“FIRE is thrilled to see another major state university eliminate its speech codes,” said Samantha Harris, FIRE’s director of policy research. “More and more universities are finally realizing what courts have been saying for years: Speech codes on public campuses are unconstitutional, and they need to go.”
OSU earned its green light rating by eliminating its only remaining speech code. The code, revised earlier this year, was an overly broad and vague “Sexual Harassment and Sexual Violence” policy, which FIREcalled on the university to revise last summer.
While there are only 17 green light schools nationwide, OSU is the eighth university in just over the last three years to earn the designation. This positive trend reflects growing awareness of free speech issues on campus as well as increased cooperation between students, university administrators, and FIRE. 
Although OSU’s published regulations respect free speech, FIRE remains troubled by the school’scontinued defense in court of its decision to remove a conservative student newspaper, The Liberty, from campus. It is our sincere hope that eliminating its last speech code and becoming FIRE’s newest green light school is a signal that OSU is ready to reconsider its handling of the Liberty case and bring its free-speech practices in line with its policies.
Image: Oregon State University campus - Oregon State University website

For FULL article, go to:  http://thefire.org/article/16570.html

15 Most Peaceful Countries in the World

Do you know which are the most peaceful countries in the world? Since 2007 each year, the Global Peace Index has been issued by the IEP (Institute for Economics and Peace) and is a measurement of nations’ and regions’ peacefulness based on external and internal measures. Although it seems like the world is becoming more cruel, according to the Global Peace Index there are 15 most peaceful countries in the world.
Most Peaceful Countries in the World

1. Denmark

Denmark tops the list of the most peaceful countries on Earth since it’s really a safe place to live. Even while Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark, was under occupation by the Nazis during the World War II, it still did not fight. The point is that people living in Denmark prefer to focus on economic matters, instead of involving themselves in various armed conflicts. Danish people are very friendly, open and helpful. Personally I have been to Copenhagen twice and I wish I lived in this country. I’m pretty sure that those who have been to Denmark at least once could say the same.
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For FULL article, go to:  http://travel.amerikanki.com/most-peaceful-countries-in-the-world/

God, Hayek and the Conceit of Reason

Friedrich Hayek: In later life he worked on his moral philosophy
A quarter of a century ago, Friedrich Hayek (1899-1992), winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, published his final contribution to his considerable corpus, an eloquent exposition of his enduring concerns. But The Fatal Conceit (1988) sought not to recapitulate the intricacies of his economic thought (despite its subtitle,"The Errors of Socialism"), or to revisit his postulated and widely celebrated connection of economic collectivism and political tyranny. Rather, he was now, four years from his death, occupied in this short and forgotten volume with one of the most fundamental questions of humankind: the basis and preservation of our civilisation.
By civilisation, Hayek meant the "extended order of human cooperation", also known ("misleadingly") as capitalism. This order, and, more specifically, the traditional morality upon which it rested, Hayek claimed, has been enabled by something other than human instinct and other than reason. The fatal conceit itself, he explained, is excessive faith in reason, based on an erroneous and dangerous notion that we can construct what in fact we must inherit or learn. This conceit is fatal because it results in the collapse of society and the return to savage instinct. Rather, morality lies between instinct and reason, and "learning how to behave is more the source than the result of insight, reason, and understanding".
Unlike his economic and political philosophies, Hayek's moral philosophy is less known, and yet it formed the culmination of his life's work. His critique of reason is profound, but his own understanding of traditional morality is found lacking, and he appears to have agreed.
Hayek sees the centralising impulse of contemporary Western political economy as stemming from a "presumptive rationalism" which he calls "scientism" or "constructivism", and which expresses the "spirit of the age". This presumption is the product of a "litany of errors", which he seeks to disentangle and expose. Specifically, he cites four basic philosophical concepts which, during the past several hundred years, have formed the basis of this way of thinking: rationalism, which denies the acceptability of beliefs founded on anything but experience and reasoning; empiricism, which maintains that all statements claiming to express knowledge are limited to those depending for their justification on experience; positivism, which is defined as the view that all true knowledge is scientific, in the sense of describing the coexistence and succession of observable phenomena; and utilitarianism, which "takes the pleasure and pain of everyone affected by it to be the criterion of the action's rightness".
Hayek asserts that "in such definitions, one finds quite explicitly...the declarations of faith of modern science and philosophy of science, and their declarations of war against moral traditions", because "the leading moral traditions that have created and are creating our culture...cannot be justified in such ways".
For FULL article, go to: http://www.standpointmag.co.uk/node/5372/full

Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson breaks his silence: Reality show star says he’s 'a lover not a hater' but REFUSES to back down from anti-gay comments

Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson is sticking by controversial comments he made about homosexuality to GQ magazine
He told MailOnline that he was simply quoting from the Bible in saying that homosexuality is a sin
In the GQ interview, Robertson said: 'Everything is blurred on what’s right and what’s wrong… Sin becomes fine. Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there... Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men'
Fans and supporters in his hometown of West Monroe, Louisiana have been vocal in support of Robertson
TV network A&E suspended Robertson from the show over the comments
A source close to the situation says they have no plans to fire him
Cracker Barrel pulled Duck Dynasty items from its shelves but quickly reinstated them after customers complained
Duck Dynasty regularly pulls in more than 12 million viewers

Phil Robertson has spoken out for the first time since his homophobic comments in a magazine interview went public and refused to go back on his controversial remarks, saying: ‘I will not give or back off from my path.’
The Duck Dynasty patriarch led a small Bible study group in his home town church in West Monroe, Louisiana on Sunday, granting MailOnline exclusive access.
And the deeply religious outdoorsman stood by his incendiary statements – which saw him call homosexuality a sin and led to his suspension from the hit reality show by network bosses at A&E.

United: Phil Robertson (center), patriarch of the Duck Dynasty family, leaves church in Louisiana with his family on Sunday
United: Phil Robertson (center), patriarch of the Duck Dynasty family, leaves church in Louisiana with his family on Sunday
Under fire: Willie Robertson (center) leaves church Sunday with his father (not pictured), who has been suspended from their reality television series for comments he made about homosexuality last week
Under fire: Willie Robertson (center) leaves church Sunday with his father (not pictured), who has been suspended from their reality television series for comments he made about homosexuality last week
Supporter: Howell Henderson of Joplin, Missouri, poses for a picture outside the Duck Commander store in West Monroe, Louisiana Saturday
Supporter: Howell Henderson of Joplin, Missouri, poses for a picture outside the Duck Commander store in West Monroe, Louisiana Saturday

During Sunday’s speech, he defended himself, saying he was simply quoting from the Bible and even went so far as to say Jesus could save gay people.
‘I love all men and women. I am a lover of humanity, not a hater,’ he added.
The 67-year-old has been slammed by gay rights groups since his interview in January’s issue of GQ magazine was made public last week.
He was quoted as saying: 'It seems like, to me, a vagina - as a man - would be more desirable than a man’s anus. 
'That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.'
But despite the criticism Robertson has faced, his family and local community have come to his defense and stood firmly behind him.
Just before Sunday’s Bible study class started, one church-goer actually thanked Robertson for his comments. 

For FULL article, go to: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2528043/Duck-Dynasty-family-seen-today.html

Thursday, December 26, 2013

What is Conservatism? Russell Kirk.

A friend of mine, whom we shall call Miss Worth, fell into a conversation with a neighbor—Mrs. Williams, let us say—who, the day before, had sold a fine old building, long in her family, to be demolished that a lot for used-automobile sales might take its place. Mrs. Williams had certain regrets; but, said she with finality, “You can’t stop progress.” She was startled at Miss Worth’s reply, which was this: “No, often not; but you can try.” Miss Worth did not believe that Progress, with a Roman P, is a good thing in itself. Progress may be either good or bad, depending on what one is progressing toward. It is quite possible, and not infrequently occurs, that one progresses toward the brink of a precipice. The thinking conservative, young or old, believes that we must all obey the universal law of change; yet often it is in our power to choose what changes we will accept and what changes we will reject. The conservative is a person who endeavors to conserve the best in our traditions and our institutions, reconciling that best with necessary reform from time to time. “To conserve” means “to save.” Consider Cupid’s curse:

They that do change old love for new,
Pray gods they change for worse.
A conservative is not, by definition, a selfish or a stupid person; instead, he is a person who believes there is something in our life worth saving. Conservatism, indeed, is a word with an old and honorable meaning—but a meaning almost forgotten by Americans until recent years. Abraham Lincoln wished to be known as a conservative. “What is conservatism?” he said. “Is it not preference for the old and tried, over the new and untried?” It is that; and it is also a body of ethical and social beliefs. The liberals, for a good while, have been drifting leftward toward their radical cousins; and liberalism, in recent years, has come to imply an attachment to the centralized state and the dreary impersonality of Huxley’s Brave New World or Orwell’s 1984. Men and women who sense that they are not liberals or radicals are beginning to ask themselves just what they believe, and what they ought to call themselves. The system of ideas opposed to liberalism and radicalism is the conservative political philosophy.

For FULL article, go to: http://www.theimaginativeconservative.org/2013/12/conservatism.html

Algae converted to crude oil in less than an hour

This concentrated goo of algae can be converted into a bio-crude in less than an hour, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
The day when planes, trucks and cars are commonly revved up on pond scum may be on the near horizon thanks to a technological advance that continuously turns a stream of concentrated algae into bio-crude oil. From green goo to crude takes less than an hour.
The goo contains about 10 percent to 20 percent algae by weight. The rest is water. This mixture is piped into a high-tech pressure cooker where temperatures hover around 660 degrees Fahrenheit and pressures of 3,000 pounds per square inch to keep the mixture in a liquid phase.
Inside the cooker are "some technology tricks that other people don't have" that help separate the plant oils and other minerals such as phosphorous from the water, Douglas Elliott, a fellow at the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash., told NBC News.
For FULL article, go to: http://www.cnbc.com/id/101287355

Books of 2013: A Guided Tour. The year's best reads, from our shelves to yours.

From histories of America’s wars to biographies of forgotten poets and prescient treatments of contemporary politics and culture, 2013 was a great year for books.The American Conservative‘s editors and writers share their favorites. —Micah Mattix
With the country just emerging from its lachrymose bout of “Johnny, We Hardly Knew Ye” remembrance, recommending a book about anyone named Kennedy may seem like overkill. Even so, my nominee for best book—or at least best biography—of the past year is David Nasaw’s The Patriarch: The Remarkable Life and Turbulent Times of Joseph P. Kennedy. A man of considerable talent and even more considerable ambition, Joe Kennedy was crafty and conniving rather than virtuous. But Nasaw’s immensely entertaining book provides a fascinating account of his rise, fall, and vicarious recovery. The book pivots on Kennedy’s term as U.S. ambassador to Great Britain. Appointed to that office with Europe sliding toward war, Kennedy exerted himself to avert a conflict that he feared would inevitably envelop his own country and endanger his children. Although the effort proved his undoing, the story makes for gripping reading.
Andrew J. Bacevich is Professor of History and International Relations at Boston University, and most recently the author of Breach of Trust: How Americans Failed Their Soldiers and Their Country.
Average Is Over: Powering America Beyond the Age of the Great Stagnation by Tyler Cowen. A frightening look at current trends dividing America between two distinct nations—the meritocratic winners and those left behind—made especially terrifying because its libertarian author does not regard these trends as particularly worrisome.
Patrick J. Deneen is David A. Potenziani Memorial Associate Professor of Constitutional Studies at Notre Dame.
Unapologetic, by Francis Spufford. This is the most idiosyncratic argument for the reasonableness of Christian faith that I’ve ever read—and a book that comes closer than any in recent memory to explaining what religious faith feels like from the inside. The word “feels” is key here; Spufford, an English novelist of note, writes about Christianity from an emotion-oriented perspective. It’s the kind of thing that religious conservatives tend to recoil at—Spufford is a liberal Anglican—but I found myself reading this slim, beautiful book often thinking, “Yes, that’s exactly how it is.” Spufford and I no doubt disagree on many aspects of the faith we both profess, but this unusual, slightly profane, slyly profound memoir taught me more about Christianity than any other book I read this year (and note well that it is not an ideological text). I bought Unapologetic as a Christmas present for a young friend who is going through a crisis of faith; Spufford’s smart but companionable voice—reading his book is like having a long conversation at the pub with a good friend—may be the only one who can reach her inside the life she lives.
The Little Way Of Ruthie Leming, by Rod Dreher. Right, so this is my book, which I suppose obliges me to recommend it to you as a Christmas present. Here’s the thing: I’ve signed a lot of them this Christmas season for readers who tell me they’re giving it to their mom, or to their friend struggling with cancer, or to their estranged sibling, or to someone they know struggling with grief, or to displaced family members whom they’d like to return from exile. Things like that. Little Way is the story of my sister, a country girl and a small-town schoolteacher with whom I didn’t get along, but whose death from cancer in her early 40s taught me something important about how to live. It’s got a lot of heartbreak in it, but also some heartwarming stories and, ultimately, hope. “This book changed my life,” so many people have told me; I believe them, because living through Ruthie’s journey did the same thing for me.
Rod Dreher is a TAC senior editor.
For FULL article, go to:  http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/books-of-2013-a-guided-tour/

The Wolf of Wall Street Can’t Sleep

“From the time he was born, he never really slept,” Leah Belfort, Jordan’s mother, tells me in the kitchen of their two-bedroom apartment in Bayside.
“He can’t sit still,” Max Belfort, his father, says.
“We’d come into the room, and he’d be watching his fingers,” Leah says about Jordan’s infant years. “I’d say to Max, ‘He’s not sleeping. He must be dumb. What kind of dummy are we raising?’ ”
In the kitchen, the appliances look plucked from a fifties time capsule, and framed recipes for gefilte fish and matzo-ball soup hang above us on the wall. The product of Bronx tenements and night-school master’s programs, Belfort’s parents represent the immigrant dream of hard work and ambition. Max and Leah are both accountants, but Leah decided to choose another profession after retirement. She went to law school in her sixties, graduated from St. John’s University, and still does pro bono legal work. With a home that appears so steady, part of the Belfort mystery is how a nice Jewish boy like him could destroy himself with such gusto.
Consider the following list of ingredients he packed inside “a brown leather Louis Vuitton shower bag” on a trip to Czechoslovakia, according to his memoir: “a half-ounce of sinsemilla, 60 pharmaceutical Quaaludes, some bootleg uppers, some bootleg downers, a sandwich bag full of cocaine, a dozen hits of ecstasy, and then the safe stuff: a vial of Xanax, a vial of morphine, some Valiums and Restorils and Somas and Vicodins, and some Ambiens and Ativans and Klonopins, as well as a half-consumed pack of Heineken and a mostly consumed bottle of ­Macallan’s to wash things down.”
In his memoirs, Belfort describes his parents as pushy and overbearing. He calls his dad “Mad Max” and fears his chain-smoking, vodka-drinking fury; Leah appears as a Jewish mother on steroids, demanding he start studying for medical school from the cradle. Both Max and Leah have read most of their son’s memoirs. Max and Leah are at least proud that he didn’t let the misery go to waste: Teaching himself to write and turning his gonzo tales into page-turning books, they believe, are great accomplishments.

For FULL article, go to:  http://nymag.com/news/features/jordan-belfort-2013-12/index1.html