Archive for February, 2013

Considering Cults and the Need for Meaning

February 27, 2013 | By | 10 Replies More
Considering Cults and the Need for Meaning

Recently, I finished reading Lawrence Wright’s new book, Going Clear: Scientology, Hollwood, & the Prison of Belief, about Scientology. It’s a lucid history and examination of the movement. [More . . . ]

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White House completely gutted in 1946

February 27, 2013 | By | Reply More

One of the things I didn’t know:  The White House was in deplorable condition in 1946, and it was decided to completely gut it.  This article features many construction photos from the National Archive.

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Time Magazine explores the destruction of American health care

February 26, 2013 | By | 6 Replies More
Time Magazine explores the destruction of American health care

Check out the feature article in this week’s Time Magazine. It’s called “Bitter Pill,” and it’s written by Steven Brill, a savvy insider. In addition to making me apprehensive that health insurance costs are about to spike upward due to Obamacare’s lack of any meaningful price controls on health insurance, it gives an insider’s look into the massively arbitrary pricing of health care services. In the absence of any competitive market, big hospitals (including the so-called non-profit hospitals) are freely allowed to concoct the prices they charge. They quietly maintain their made-up pricing on their non-public “chargemaster” price lists.

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Bertrand Russell discusses religion – 1959 video

February 26, 2013 | By | 1 Reply More

As I indicated here, I never believed in God. Not even as a four year old. I was made to go to Catholic church services and Catholic schools, where I constantly questioned Catholic dogma, especially in religion classes. I felt like an outsider all of my childhood, up until I happened to spot a book by Bertrand Russell on the shelves of the public library. This was when I was about 17 years old. The title of this slim volume was “Why I Am Not a Christian.” It was cause for exuberance, but I remember thinking that I really didn’t know anyone with whom to share my excitement. More specifically, reading Russell allowed me to believe that there wasn’t anything wrong with me. That’s how you get when you are surrounded by people who would not allow themselves to ask dangerous questions.

The most important thing I learned back then was that I was not crazy, and that smart people were asking the same questions I was asking. Bertrand Russell became my mentor back then, back in about 1974, which is four years after he died. My memories of encountering his writing bring home the power of the written word and the power to preserve one’s thought process, at least somewhat, long after one has died.

That is the background for the following video. Until a couple years ago, I had not seen any video of Bertrand Russell. I knew him as a witty writer who worked hard to avoid pretentious writing. In the following 4-minute video, the then 87 year old Russell discusses religion in a rather straight-forward way.

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10 facts about dairy milk

February 25, 2013 | By | 1 Reply More

We are hit with so much propaganda about the “need” to drink cow milk that many Americans uncritically believe it. To follow up on an article I once wrote about all the dairy hype (“The Land of Milk and Money“), I offer this more recent article listing “10 Fascinating Facts About Cow Milk.”

And yes, most of the world’s adults are lactose intolerant. It is not even possible for them to drank milk. We milk-drinkers are the unusual ones. Actually, I’m mostly there. I put soy milk on my cereal, but I still do enjoy ice cream. But I don’t consume milk products for the calcium. I know that there are other ways to get calcium.

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On the life of Aaron Swartz

February 25, 2013 | By | Reply More

This is an in-depth profile of Aaron Swartz by The New Republic. I’m not sure I would agree with the conclusion of the article, but it’s a sympathetic review of many of Aaron’s accomplishments.

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Big banks complicit with online payday lenders.

February 25, 2013 | By | Reply More

Big banks are providing the funds for online payday lenders. This story from the NYT is not the least bit surprising, not that it makes this article any less disturbing.

While the banks, which include giants like JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo, do not make the loans, they are a critical link for the lenders, enabling the lenders to withdraw payments automatically from borrowers’ bank accounts, even in states where the loans are banned entirely. In some cases, the banks allow lenders to tap checking accounts even after the customers have begged them to stop the withdrawals.

The article indicates that without the backing of the big banks, many of these payday lenders would cease to exist.

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A concealed weapon is not much help in a surprise attack.

February 24, 2013 | By | 2 Replies More

Instructive video by ABC demonstrates that having a concealed weapon on you won’t do much good in most surprise attacks.

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Look what was filmed with a green screen

February 24, 2013 | By | 1 Reply More

Eye-opening 4-minute video from Stargate Studios.

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