Thursday, March 31, 2016

Western Europe's "Headache"

Location in India of gypsy tribes based
on genetic research  Photo: Wikipedia
The invasion of Europe by young military-age Muslim men from the Middle East and Africa has pushed one Western European “headache” to the back burner – the Romanian gypsies, with their nomadic lifestyle and “criminality,” petty theft, pickpocketing, and begging around train stations and major tourist attractions; these gypsies have irritated the European Union bureaucrats and the selectively multicultural Europeans.

In an effort to combat any ethnic discrimination, the Romanian government passed H.G. 1194 on December 12, 2001 which established the “attributes, components, organization, and functioning of the National Council to Combat Discrimination. The law established heavy penalties for anyone who attacks someone else on the basis of ethnicity. The main focus of the law was to prevent the proliferation of anti-Semitism and anti-gypsy sentiments. Insulting, humiliating, or disadvantaging any ethnic group is strictly forbidden.”

As Mircea Brenciu explained, “The chosen people of the Old Testament have suffered a genocide unprecedented in the history of humanity; other tragedies were experienced by Armenians in 1915, by the Nepalese and the Cambodians under Pol Pot, Ukrainians under Stalin, just to name a few, and gypsies under all countries.” The memory of such heinous acts must be kept alive to prevent the historical repetition of such tragedies.

A “semantic confusion” was deliberately created by the Romanian government under Petre Roman (1990-1991), a “semantic confusion” even promoted and accepted by the Romanian Academy.  The government decided that the word “gypsy” was really an insult, even though this terminology existed for hundreds of years, reflecting the misconception that these tribes were Egyptian; the word “gypsy” had to be changed to “rom/Romani.” Every other nation continued to call these migratory groups gypsies. The designation of “rom/Romani” was thus consecrated with great fanfare in Romania, using the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights as an excuse.

Modern gypsy Wagon, U.K. Photo: Wikipedia
There are approximately 11 million gypsies worldwide, of which 8-10 million live in various European countries, making them, for now, one of the largest minority. David Comas and his research group conducted a study and published the results in 2012 in Current Biology, under the title, “Reconstructing the Population History of European Romani from Genome-wide Data.” This genetic and linguistic analysis of 13 European gypsy groups found out that their ancestors left north/northwestern India about 1,500 years ago and settled in the Balkans area approximately 900 years ago.  The groups “constitute a mosaic of languages, religions, and lifestyles while sharing a distinct social heritage.”

The study authors also stated that, the migratory population, “with moderate gene flow from the Near or Middle East,” showed up in the Balkans about 900 years ago. This makes it more interesting why Romanians have decided to rename their gypsies “Romani” or “rom” even though they have nothing to do in origin with the Romans, the Roman Empire, or the Romanians’ ancestors, the Dacians.

Gypsies/Romani are proud of their heritage, their culture, their traditions, and their language, which is unlike the Latin-based Romanian language. But the change of terms from gypsy to “rom” or “Romani” has given rise to an uncomfortable confusion across European nations whose citizens have labeled and lumped all Romanians with any and every gypsy/Romani population across Europe that is “inconveniencing” European non-nomadic society.

According to Mircea Brenciu, Romanian gypsies/Romani give birth to 5-8 babies, while the birth rate for Romanians in general has been 2-3 children per family and less.  It is surprising that such a nomadic population would have a strong political and cultural influence in general in Romanian society after 1989. Brenciu calls it the “Rom-ization” of the Romanian people.

He explained that this “Rom-ization” (“manelizare” in Romanian language) has the following consequences:

-          No patriotism (gypsies have never been tied to any lands unless by force)

-          There is no spirit of solidarity (gypsies express such feelings of solidarity only in cases that serve their interests of the moment)

-          There is no punctuality and a sense of order (gypsies are Bohemian, indifferent to history, they are perennial pilgrims)

-          There is no respect for the law (in gypsy society the law is made by the “stabor” and the “bulibasha,” similar to Muslim tribes and their Sharia Law)

-          Gypsies build a state within a state, supported by the force of the occult.

It is hard to have a civilized discussion about issues of the gypsy/Romani population for fear that the dreaded H.G. 1194 law will somehow be violated in the dialogue process and the ethnic population offended, resulting in heavy penalties for the offending party. It does not take much these days for such an offense to occur, a process not unlike the Political Correctness of liberalism-gone-amuck in this country which stifles freedom of speech. The Europeans, of course, have no such guarantees of freedom of speech in their constitutions.

Brenciu wrote that, during the 18th century, Empress Maria Theresa is said to have met with other dignitaries to stop the flow of gypsies from Eastern Europe to the West.  This gypsy exodus was inconvenient to western society because they were not subjects of any jurisdiction. They chose the Baragan Fields of Wallachia as settlement and built villages such as Tiganesti, Slobozia, Urziceni, to house by force, with European money, various gypsy groups.

In the meantime, a simple politically correct euphemism, “Rom/Romani,” invented by progressives. is confusing and obfuscating history by design, misrepresenting the roots of an entire minority, the gypsies.


Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Cash or Digital Money, Personal Freedom or Globalism

Bjorn Ulvaeus Photo: Wikipedia
Sweden seemed to be at the forefront of the newest globalist scheme digital money v. cash, advocating a cashless global economy with a one-world currency. A CBS World News article reported in 2012 that a small number of businesses in Sweden accepted only credit cards, including some churches, even though elderly people prefer cash, especially in rural areas.

Bjorn Ulvaeus, a former rocker, stated that cash encourages theft, citing his own son who was the victim of armed robbery three times. Cheating and cash theft may have declined in Sweden but cybercrime around the world is indisputably on the rise. Even though Sweden was the first European country to introduce bank notes in 1661, Ulvaeus would like Sweden to phase out cash altogether.

Doug Casey gave an interview recently to Louis James of International Speculator on the “War on Cash.” Doug Casey described how governments  would control  the people’s finances through assaults on cash by making every financial transaction electronic. He presented the following historical timeline of efforts to control people’s money:

-          Bank Secrecy Act of 1970 requiring U.S. citizens to “report the existence of any foreign bank or brokerage accounts,” a law which Americans ignored

-          Money Laundering Control Act of 1986, forcing Americans to explain the source of their money as if it was a crime to move money around without government permission; in Casey’s opinion, “money laundering is an artificial, arbitrary, made-up crime”

-          Patriot Act of 2001

-          Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act of 2010 (FATCA), forcing foreign banks to “report Americans who had bank or brokerage accounts;” Casey explained that U.N.’s Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries jumped at the opportunity to make FATCA a global issue

Casey explained that many countries have already outlawed cash transactions over a certain amount (1,000 in France, $5,000 in Uruguay, etc.); countries like Norway, Sweden, India, Denmark, and Israel have promoted the ban on cash entirely. Large corporations such as airlines use the excuse of theft to do away with cash transactions.  

From the government’s perspective, banning cash under the guise of controlling “money laundering” of criminals and drug lords, and routing all of our income through the banking system helps them better control everything we do, freezing accounts at will, while taxation becomes much easier, including payment for Obamacare premiums and penalties for non-compliance. “It enables them to track everything you buy and sell, and effectively, everything you own,” added Casey.

Then there is the infamous “bail-in” in Cyprus when the government bureaucrats and Brussels’ EU technocrats helped themselves to people’s bank accounts in order to “save” the too-big-to-fail banks and the rapacious government.

And we should not forget the numerous quantitative easings (QEs), printing money with no backing of goods and services, the zero interest rate policy (ZIRP), and stock and real estate bubbles. And the negative interest rates are spreading around the world, the “war on savings,” as Casey explains it.

Because cash is freedom, the progressive MSM is attacking it with pathetic excuses that cash is “physically dirty, expensive, potentially criminal, and obsolete 19th century technology,” promoting the “war on cash.”

Some see the “war on cash” as another form of “population control” when people’s accounts will be raided if they are classified as potential domestic terrorists, or denied healthcare if they are marked with a “digital star.” Over 16,000 IRS employees and the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) of Obamacare will be impossible to stop; they are appointed, anonymous, and unaccountable to anyone.

The issues of a cashless society and of a one world-currency are many:

-          Total control by the state or its proxy

-          There are savings deriving from a cashless society in terms of special paper, printing, ink, labor, and metal alloys

-          If an attack occurs on the Smart Grid and there is no power, there are no financial transactions possible without some cash, a substitute, or barter

-          If there is a national disaster, earthquake, tsunami, hurricane, tornado, or power interruptions, transactions of goods and services will be made by cash, a substitute thereof, or barter

-          An EMP attack or intense solar flares would make cash or a one world currency worthless, we would have to resort to barter or theft

-         A cashless or one global currency could result in extraordinary powers given to banks, potentially, with no cap on interest rates

-         Cashless transactions would be traceable at all times

-         One world currency would eliminate exchange rates, currency trading in futures, eliminating a substantial sector of the job market and thus revenues

-         There will be no black market involving cash or illegal activity, everyone would be forced to pay taxes

-         Children under 18 would be excluded from holding credit cards and thus excluded from financial transactions if cash disappeared.

-         Migrant and illegal workers would be paid electronically in a cashless society, forcing accountability in taxation and employment

-         Prostitution would have to be legalized, taxed, and clients’ names become public record

-         Muslims would no longer be able to use hawala transactions which are based on cash

-         Conducting monetary policy, money stock, interest rates, and inflation would be altered in a cashless society

-         In the case of one-world currency, who would conduct monetary policy, decide interest rates, the digital money stock, and taxation? Would it be the United Nations?

-         Would society change dramatically because labor will be purchased with digital credit as opposed to cash? How would the one-world currency value be decided? Will it be tied to precious metals such as silver, gold, and platinum or will it be arbitrarily decided by the United Nations?

-         In a time of war, how would one country destabilize the economy of another by dropping off counter fit currency over another country’s territory if the entire world uses the same currency?

-         In the case of cyber-attacks and hacking, what would happen if all banks, companies, and institutions would be connected to a single grid of digital money

-         What would happen to third world nations that are not so electronically wired and depend heavily on cash or barter? Could they be required to make transactions in digital money?

-         Finally yet importantly, who would police the counter fitting of a one-world currency across the globe?

The idea of a digital money society or a one-world currency may capture sound bites on TV and the imagination of liberals, libertarians, and conservatives alike, especially when running for political office, but it opens a new Pandora’s box of ills that most countries are not yet equipped to resolve.



Saturday, March 26, 2016


It’s a lovely spring day with cool temperatures. It’s always cold right before Easter. The dense woods finally lost their dead leaves that had clung, despite very strong winds, to the branches all winter long, like a crispy coat of crinkled browns and beiges. Overnight, they are gone, replaced by green buds and the occasional white and pink wild flowers. The sun is penetrating to the floor, a rare occurrence; the barren branches are casting few shadows. The brave bugs are emerging from their winter slumber.

The birds have been chirping joyously since the last snow had melted. The pond by our house has been visited daily by the same flock of Canada geese, paired up for spring. One couple ventures on our lawn with its winter and lush green grass. I have not seen the deer family coming to graze, I am sure they are finding plenty to eat in the woods; they finally left my chewed up bushes alone. Maybe they will sprout again. One tulip bulb came up and a purple hyacinth is in full bloom.

I am sad that mom is not home to see her beautiful flowers, “her babies” she talked to every day. She is in a sterile hospital, recovering from a stroke. I will push her outside today so she can see the beautiful purple Japanese magnolias in full bloom outside her window.

I’ve thought about life and death a lot lately. It’s not just the dormant nature coming to life again, replacing everything dead with new buds. I thought about our own demise, about human mortality.

It’s been a roller-coaster week, a new baby, a new beautiful life that is here because of us, almost losing my mom the next day, facing my own mortality from unexpected disease, it was too much for anyone to absorb and internalize.

Obviously everybody is going through good and rough times all over the world. Life is precious and a precarious gift that we don’t appreciate and cherish enough. But I see things with more intensity and clarity than ever before.

In two days it will be my dad’s birthday, March 28, he would have been 88 years old, had he lived to such a ripe old age. But his life was cut short at 61 by Ceausescu’s evil communist regime and the lack of medical care under the Castro-style socialized medicine that everyone in the U.S. is now clamoring for.  He died a horrible and painful death, shrinking to a shell of his former self while he was not fed nor given IV fluids in the hospital. Aunt Marcela, his sister, kept him alive with a teaspoonful of broth and water now and then for almost a month.

There is another milestone on March 29, twenty years since I married by wonderful husband, the love of my life. I cannot imagine life without him. And on April 4 is my birthday – I am still on this earth, happy to be alive, and thankful for my blessings from God.

I wished I could have been a writer all my life instead of toiling for the academia that did not care about my dedication to students, the years I spent perfecting my skills and enriching my knowledge that I hope I had passed on to my students.

Tomorrow is Easter – I won’t be able to take mom to church as planned, but I am glad she is still alive and smiling through her sudden disability. She is my Mom who used to move mountains, who climbed on the roof at 72 to sweep dead leaves. Her hand and fingers are now curled, unable to hold my hand, but I can touch her face and she feels my love and kisses.

On this sunny day before the Blessed Easter, thank you, Mom, for being my Mom and for a life of love and precious care to our small family. We love you!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Living in a Sci-Fi Reality?

Photo: Wikipedia
Are we already living in a sci-fi reality, the reality that imitates art of the 1993 movie, Demolition Man? In a celluloid 1996 Los Angeles criminals are running rampant over the city. The character of Sylvester Stallone, Sgt. John Spartan, is its only hope to instill some semblance of “normal life” in a utopian society he no longer recognizes.

Known by his moniker, “Demolition Man,” Spartan destroys buildings in an effort to catch criminals.  One such criminal is Simon Phoenix (Wesley Snipes) and his gang whose capture eventually puts the innocent Sgt. Spartan in jail for having gone into a building without his superiors’ orders in order to free 30 hostages. When the building explodes and collapses, the handiwork of Phoenix, who wired it with explosives, all innocents are killed.

Arrested for involuntary manslaughter, Sgt. Spartan is incarcerated in a cryo-prison that keeps inmates frozen in suspended animation. It is not the bizarre punishment that is so shocking but how society changes after a devastating earthquake merges the cities of San Diego, Los Angeles, and Santa Barbara into a strange utopia, not unlike that dreamed by progressive liberals, a dystopia in which police officers have no idea how to deal with criminals, living in a cult-like, namby-pamby existence in which cursing or using certain “verboten” bad words is punished by robots located everywhere who issue tickets each time, punishing the offenders with fines of no salt, spices, food, and other life-enhancing pleasures that humans take for granted.

The fascist government controls everyone’s life to such a degree that they must be issued permits to reproduce and their sexual life is reduced to a virtual reality experience, without touching, without the “icky exchange of bodily fluids,” and with in-vitro fertilization.

While in cryo-stasis, Phoenix, now released by the corrupt Dr. Raymond Cocteau to kill Edgar Friendly, the underground leader of free people who are giving him fits with their existence, Phoenix is given computer-hacking skills and paramilitary training.

The problem is that now cars drive themselves and actual weapons are stored in a dusty museum, no longer used for defense where such weapons are forbidden and thus unnecessary as the fascist state controls everything except the small underground resistance called “the Scraps,” homeless people and citizens marginalized by the fascist society, periodically raiding the surface for food.

Life is tightly controlled by security cameras everywhere and nobody can escape the long-arm and all-Seeing Eye of the government. The plot has many one-liners and funny moments such as the existence of only restaurants approved by the government, Taco Bells, the only survivor of the “monopoly wars of the 20th century,” and the police woman named Lenina (Sandra Bullock).  

Lenin would be so proud.

Eventually Cocteau, the fascist dictator, is killed; the utopian and tightly-controlled bizarre city is thrown into disarray and into an uncertain chaotic future.



Sunday, March 20, 2016

Drive-In Movies

Elm Road Drive-In in Ohio Photo: Wikipedia
I am not sure if many drive-in theatres still exist today or that people know what we are talking about. I shared recently memories of drive-in cinemas with my friend Chriss R.  

Nobody thought that you could get in the back seat of a car at a drive-in movie and nothing was going to happen. “Nice girls” like her were in peril of losing their reputation if they ever went to such movies with anyone but a group of their girlfriends. “Dating couples who went were looked at suspiciously and were whispered about.”

As a child, when Chriss went to the drive-in with her parents, she frequently talked them into letting her bring home one of the stray cats that were always swarming around the concession stand looking for discarded food or mice. Crocodile tears always softened her daddy’s heart. When mom took her, she could squeeze maybe the purchase of a Bit-o-Honey candy bar, no bringing stray cats home for sure.

My hubby remembers going to the drive-in movies as a child in his pajamas and loving the cartoons, the soda, and the popcorn. The sound was always muffled but they did not care, it was fun. He had his first date at the drive-in movie and his first beer with his best friend Jeff.

Drive-in theatres are uniquely American, a development born by the love of cars, a country easily accessible through endless roads, and necessitated by a population spread out from sea to sea, in areas with small communities far away from the nearest town.

Bass Hill Drive-In Cinema in Australia Photo: Wikipedia
How expensive was to develop a drive-in movie location when compared to a movie theatre in the city? One needed land, a small concrete block concession stand in the middle, poles with speakers, plenty space to park the oversized gas guzzlers of the 1970s, and a very large outdoor screen with a projection room.

Chriss is sure that today drive-ins are no longer needed. “When you can live together and play around without public shame, who needs the darkness and privacy of a backseat at an outdoor movie? Who says liberalism isn’t bad for business?”

My first encounter with drive-in movies was with my husband, in the late 1970s in Houston, MS. The town had 3,000 people on a cats and dogs rainy day. Of course, we were only interested in popcorn and the Amityville Horror movie that was playing then.

I was taking in the novel experience in our solid metal, 1962 puke-green Impala Chevrolet which used to be his grandpa's fishing car. It was missing an essential ingredient for comfort - large pieces of foam in the middle of the seats, so we used towels to make it seat-able. We were kind of embarrassed to drive it to church and park it next to all the brand new Cadillacs and Lincolns, but at the drive-in, no problem.

We could also eat sunflower seeds and spit the hulls out the window like the “uneducated, barefoot, and pregnant” Mississippians that we were. We were really interested in high school students having a clean-the-grounds job at the end of the movies for the entire summer.

I loved the Woody Woodpecker cartoons and those of Heckle and Jeckle, the talking magpies, that preceded the movies and during intermission when we could buy hot dogs and candy so we could get diabetes in our 50s and become beached whales.

To my knowledge, nobody's window fell out from holding the heavy sound speakers which we had to hook onto the lowered driver’s window. There was not much that had not been torn in the car by the previous owner who was an avid fisherman and threw all his junk in the back seat, letting it steep in the steamy southern weather, often turning into a moldy paste of curious origins which I had to clean with own little city girl hands.

The car burned two quarts of oil a week and it was the nightmare of my father-in-law’s hundreds of heads of cattle who were peacefully grazing in the pastures, unaware that a gas guzzling, oil burning monster was speeding all over the place with me at the wheel, trying to learn how to drive.

Occasionally I would drive over fresh manure which would slushily splash up into the air and splatter on my Impala's back windows and doors. It was the poor cows’ revenge for disturbing their tranquility. I think they had memories of the daily scare I subjected them to because I always had to walk close to fences in case a bull or a cow charged and I had to bail out of that enclosure.

A quick search reveals that in 2014 there were 338 drive-in theatres left in America. The youth of today would probably consider them a nuisance, an antiquated way to spend a weekend. But for many Americans of past generations it was a most entertaining way to spend Friday night, merging the love of cars with movies, dating, and making out in the back of their parents’ car.

The tickets were affordable, an uncomplicated entertainment for small communities that had nothing else to do on a sticky summer night. Although today we have so much more to amuse us, the disappearing drive-ins remain part of the Americana and its nostalgia.  



Saturday, March 19, 2016

Daylight Savings Time, Is It Good for Us?

Photo: Ileana Johnson 2015
As my body struggles each spring to cope with the Daylight Savings Time (DST), I wonder if it is beneficial to humans and what effect does it have if any on loss of productivity due to sleep deprivation, on health, and potential accidents. Who decided first that it was a good idea to turn clocks forward one hour in spring and wind them back in the fall? Did it save significant amounts of energy and thus money?

At 2 a.m. on the second Sunday in March until 2 a.m. on the first Sunday in November, all states except Arizona, Hawaii, and territories, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands observe DST. Seventy other nations around the world also follow DST.

Benjamin Franklin, then Minister to France, proposed in 1784 to reset the clocks when the sun came up and people were still sleeping, saving one million francs per year in candles.

A British builder, William Willett, proposed in 1907 to move hours of work and recreation more closely to daylight hours, cutting back on artificial light. The bill he proposed in Parliament did not pass.

To conserve fuel, Germany started DST on May 1, 1916. During the war, most of Europe also adopted DST.

In the U.S., DST was not formally adopted until March 19, 1918, establishing both standard time zones and summer DST to start on March 31, 1918. Because the idea was unpopular, Congress abolished DST after the war, overriding President Woodrow Wilson’s veto. Some states observed DST until WW II. At that time, President Franklin Roosevelt established “War Time” on February 9, 1942 which ended on the last Sunday in September 1945. The following year, many states adopted summer DST.

According to the Congressional Research Service, the Uniform Time Act of 1966 (P.L. 89-387) established federal regulation across the country because the transportation industry needed consistency in time observance. Clocks were to be set forward one hour on the last Sunday in April at 2 a.m. and set back on the last Sunday in October. An entire state could exempt itself from the law, including states that were located in split time zones, as long as the entire state would follow the same time. Arizona exempted itself in 1968 and in 1972 the act was amended to allow states split in different time zones to be exempted or be entirely included in DST. The Department of Transportation became the law’s enforcer.

The OPEC oil embargo of 1973 prompted Congress to have a trial period of year-round DST in order to conserve energy and fuel. Benefits advertised were more recreation, reduced light and heating demand, reduced crime, and reduced auto accidents. Many worried about children going to school in the dark. After the trial period, in 1975 the whole country returned to DST.

The DOT found that “modest overall benefits might be realized by a shift from the historic six-month DST (May through October) in areas of energy conservation, overall traffic safety and reduced violent crime” when the DST was proposed to be changed to March-November.

Beth Cook wrote that the DOT reported, “These benefits were minimal and difficult to distinguish from seasonal variations and fluctuations in energy prices.” (March 9, 2016, CRS, R44411, p. 2)

Cook also wrote, “Congress then asked the National Bureau of Standards (NBS) to evaluate the DOT report. In an April 1976 report to Congress, Review and Technical Evaluation of the DOT Daylight Saving Time Study, NBS found no significant energy savings or differences in traffic fatalities. It did find statistically significant evidence of increased fatalities among school-age children in the mornings during the four-month period January-April 1974 as compared with the same period (non-DST) of 1973. NBS stated that it was impossible to determine, what if any of this increase was due to DST. When this same data was compared between 1973 and 1974 for the individual months of March and April, no significant difference was found for fatalities among school-age children in the mornings.”

The Uniform Time Act of 1966 was modified in 1986 to change DST to first Sunday in April through last Sunday in October and in 2005 when Congress changed DST to second Sunday in March and ending it the first Sunday in November. Congress also asked the Department of Energy (DOE) to report on the impact of extended DST on energy consumption. DOE sent this report to Congress in 2008. (Fred Sissine, CRS RL32860, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Legislation in the 109th Congress)

Cook enumerated some studies on energy savings, health, and safety:

-          Department of Energy (DOE) studies in 2006 and 2008 revealed that ”Total potential electricity savings benefits of DST are relatively small, 0.01 percent to 0.03 percent of total annual U.S. energy consumption.”

-          “There is general consensus that DST does contribute to an evening reduction in peak demand for electricity, though this may be offset by an increase in the morning.” (M.B. Aries and G.R. Newsham (2008), “Effect of Daylight Saving Time on Lighting Energy Use: A Literature Review,” Energy Policy, 36(6), 1858–1866.)

-          “Our main finding is that, contrary to the policy’s intent, DST increases electricity demand.” A trade off was identified between “reducing demand for lighting and increasing demand for heating and cooling.”

-          A. Huang and D. Levinson, studying the effects of DST on vehicle crashes in Minnesota, found in 2010 that “the short term effect of DST on crashes on the morning of the first DST is not statistically significant.”

-          T. Lahti et al found in their 2010 study, “Our results demonstrated that transitions into and out of daylight saving time did not increase the number of traffic road accidents.” (T. Lahti et al., 2010, “Daylight Saving Time Transitions and Road Traffic Accidents,” Journal of Environmental and Public Health, 657167)

-          Y. Harrison found in his 2013 that “The start of daylight saving time in the spring is thought to lead to the relatively inconsequential loss of 1 hour of sleep on the night of the transition, but data suggest that increased sleep fragmentation and sleep latency present a cumulative effect of sleep loss, at least across the following week, perhaps longer. The autumn transition is often popularized as a gain of 1 hour of sleep but there is little evidence of extra sleep on that night. The cumulative effect of five consecutive days of earlier rise times following the autumn change again suggests a net loss of sleep across the week. Indirect evidence of an increase in traffic accident rates, and change in health and regulatory behaviors which may be related to sleep disruption suggest that adjustment to daylight saving time is neither immediate nor without consequence.”

-          MR Jiddou et al in their 2013 study, “Incidence of Myocardial Infarction with Shifts to and From Daylight Savings Time,” The American Journal of Cardiology, 111(5), 631-635,  stated, “Limited evidence suggests that Daylight Saving Time (DST) shifts have a substantial influence on the risk of acute myocardial infarction (AMI). Previous literature, however, lack proper identification necessary to vouch for causal interpretation. We exploit Daylight Saving Time shift using non-parametric regression discontinuity techniques to provide indisputable evidence that this abrupt disturbance does affect incidence of AMI.”

If savings in electricity are relatively small, cumulative sleep deprivation has been demonstrated which could result in productivity loss and traffic accidents, and potential health effects, why are we embracing DST? Wouldn’t following nature’s biological clock be more beneficial to our wellbeing?






Thursday, March 17, 2016

The Bright Colors of Freedom

Nature's palette Wikipedia
The shelves are bursting at the seams with colorful merchandise. Spring is here and there is something new for everyone’s budget, no lines anywhere. I picked my favorite color, teal, and took it to the cash register. The young man, a Millennial no doubt, smiled and casually asked me if I liked bright colors.

How could I explain in a sentence or two to this child of abundance, who’s never suffered for anything in his life, who always finds stores full of delicious food and beautifully crafted merchandise from around the world, that life has not always been the same for millions and millions around the world, and it can turn ugly here too if people made bad political choices? Would this young man truly understand poverty and exploitation of the human body and spirit by a handful of elites?
I explained briefly that, to this day, I own very little navy, black, brown, or grey, the traditional colors offered to us as part of school uniforms for twelve years and as very limited choices in stores for everyday clothes.

Every family member had one outfit which he/she wore every day for the entire week and, it was laundered on Sunday if water was running that day and if we could find detergent or Cheia soap, an unpleasant-smelling and caustic soap that lasted a while and turned our hands red and cracking from the hand-scrubbing. If we were lucky, we had hot water on Saturdays for our weekly luxurious baths after hunting for days for bath soap and shampoo, eventually buying them on the black market at ten times the price.
He would not understand how much people were so starved for color, in the granite dirty grey environment built by the communist regime; he would not comprehend that people picked colorful materials and made dresses that seldom matched anything else in their scant wardrobe. It was a splash of color, of daring to live and enjoy life vicariously through brightness, the light and color that was denied and missing in our lives, suffocated by the communist regime and its totalitarian control over every aspect of our existence.

We envied our neighbors Hungary and Bulgaria, even the Russians for their more abundant lives. If we were lucky to get a permit to travel there, we felt like we arrived in the land of elegance and plenty, that’s how bad we lived by comparison.  We bought color at random, pairing pink with red, purple with green, and other seemingly clashing colors. It’s not that we did not know the fine art of matching; we just wanted to have the entire color palette in our lives, not just drabness.
And I was told that, after I left in 1978, the Ceausescu regime turned so much more brutal that the 1980s were described by Dennis Deletant as a time period when Romania had been reduced “to an animal state, concerned only with the problems of day-to-day survival.”

The ideological repression was so bad that, one of my cousins, who was in line at Otopeni Airport to board a plane for a crew job in the Middle East, with passport, visa, and plane ticket in hand, was pulled minutes before boarding and told that he could not go because he had a cousin in America – guilty by association and by birth with me, the “big capitalist.”

I have a bright wardrobe today that expresses my carefree spirit. I can go for a week or so and not wear the same outfit twice. That is because I can find a job, the pay is competitive based on qualifications and skill, not a flat low and equal pay as we used to have under communism, and there is competition for goods and services that makes supply meet the demand from consumers, and prices are relatively low.

This young man would not understand the night and day difference between my life under socialism and my life today under a relatively free market economy; most Millennials are economically illiterate. They just repeat ignorant slogans they’ve been taught in school by their socialist professors with an agenda, with no reflection on truth and reality whatsoever.

I guess I am not a wardrobe minimalist and will never be. Teal, pink, bright green, bright colors, light, and sunshine will always be the center of my life. When you spend the first twenty years of your life in drab grey and dirty surroundings, pollution, and darkness of spirit, you want to live in Floridian colors for the rest of your life, in bright hues and in free spirit, basking in the sun, white sand, salty ocean surf, and the scent of freedom.


Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Energy Poverty Around the World

The global warming/climate change industry has been aggressively pushing renewable energy, wind, solar, and biofuels for a long time even though the economies of various industrialized countries need much more energy than what renewables generate.

The green activists have been zealously lobbying Congress and the EPA to change the laws, rules, and regulations that would make it much more expensive and difficult for fossil fuel energy producers to survive while passing the higher costs onto consumers, impoverishing those customers on fixed incomes and taking away disposable income from the rest.

Green energy causes electricity poverty around the world. Today the Fraser Institute of Canada, an independent, non-partisan public policy think-tank released a study that found that energy poverty is on the rise in Canada.

"Government policies that raise electricity prices may push some families into energy poverty and further stretch the household budgets of families already in energy poverty," said Taylor Jackson, study co-author and policy analyst at the Fraser Institute.

"Because high energy costs take a large bite out of many household budgets, families across Canada pay the price when government energy policies boost the cost of electricity," said Kenneth Green, the Fraser Institute's senior director of natural resource studies and co-author of Energy Costs and Canadian Households: How Much Are We Spending?

According to the study, Canadian households that make $47,700 or less per year are disproportionately affected by energy poverty.

The Fraser Institute found that in 2013 the three regions most affected by energy poverty were Atlantic Canada at 20.6 percent, Saskatchewan at 12.9 percent and Ontario at 7.5 percent, with a general 7.9 percentage in Canada. “Between 2010 and 2013, energy poverty was on the rise in most provinces.” British Columbia had the lowest at 5.3 percent.

The study authors also found that the Green Energy Act of Ontario is responsible for the increase in electricity prices.

In 2013 Der Spiegel warned us that “the political world is wedged between the green-energy lobby, masquerading as saviors of the world, and the established electric utilities, with their dire warnings of chaotic supply problems and job losses.”

In Germany, the Energiewende, or energy wave (revolution), was “Chancellor Angela Merkel’s project of the century.” It turned out to be a flop, although not as bad as her recent policy of welcoming with open arms of waves of violent Muslims into Europe.

After the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan, Merkel “quickly decided to begin phasing out nuclear power and lead the country into the age of wind and solar.” The government-predicted renewable energy surcharge turned out to be higher than the 20 percent price hike.

Of all the companies that must pay the renewable energy surcharge, 2,300 German businesses with lobbying representation, were able to exempt themselves from this green energy surcharge by claiming tough international competition.

Der Spiegel said that German customers were forced to pay 20 billion euros for electricity from solar, wind, and biofuel plants that had a market price of only 3 billion euros. The authors explained that this cost did not include “unintended costs and collateral damage associated with the project.” The costs included the fact that, depending on weather and time of day, the entire country can face “absurd states of energy surplus or deficit.” Solar panels and wind turbines can generate lots of electricity at times and other times zero.

According to Der Spiegel, more than 300,000 German households a year had their electricity cut off for unpaid bills. Caritas, a charity group, called this “energy poverty.”

Sweden, a heavily forested country, used up its biomass from wood and paper industry waste to fuel conventional power plants; once it exhausted this source, it switched to wind farms on land because the offshore ones were very expensive and tended to rust much quicker.

There is no doubt that Americans have also been affected by energy poverty. The Institute for Energy Research is citing the case of the residents in Pueblo, Colorado. The state’s Clean Air-Clean Jobs Act forced inexpensive coal plants to be closed. Their residential kWh rate has increased 26 percent since 2010 when “the new local utility company in Pueblo replaced nearly all its inherited cheap coal capacity with wind and natural gas.” Residential customers, with a poverty rate of 18.1 percent and one third of the population on welfare, had to pay for the large infrastructure bills when the switch was made. Wind turbines were added in order to meet the state’s Clean Air-Clean Jobs Act requirement of 30 percent capacity coming from renewable resources.

At CPAC 2015, during a panel discussion on climate change and global warming alarmism, Gary Broadbent, representing Murray Energy Corporation, the largest privately held coal mine in the U.S., highlighted Obama’s “war on coal” via regulations passed by EPA alone in the last five years totaling 25,000 pages.  Quoting Robert E. Murray, Chairman of Murray Energy Corporation, Broadband said, “Prior to the election of President Obama, coal provided 52% of the electricity generation in our country. Today it is 37%. In our judgement, it will further decline to about 30%, at a maximum.”

Enumerating the 411 power plants designated for closure through 2016, “101,000 megawatts of the lowest cost electricity in America,” CEO Murray wrote that electricity, generated by coal at the plant cost of 4 cents per kWh, will be replaced by “Mr. Obama and his appointees” with 15 cent per kWh electricity from natural gas and 22 cent per kWh electricity from wind and solar power, not to mention the huge subsidies to solar power from American taxpayers.

In CEO Murray’s opinion, the Obama Administration has bypassed illegally Congress, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and the States and their Public Utility Commissions, which are “empowered to regulate the availability and cost of electricity.”

According to Chairman Murray, while we came within 700 megawatts of reducing loads to 61 million Americans in 13 states during the Polar Vortex of 2014, “China has been building a new 500 megawatt coal-fired plant every week for years, [and] burned about 4.0 billion tons of coal last year.”

Monday, March 14, 2016

It Takes an Algorithm to Know a Lot About You

“I believe the primary role of the state is to teach, train, and raise children. Parents have a secondary role.”  - Hillary Clinton, “It Takes a Village”

Sci-fi movies like Minority Report, with a trio of psychics called “recogs” who can see “pre-visions” of crimes yet to be committed, setting in motion a Pre Crime Unit, came to mind when reading about China’s effort to detect “pre-crime.”

Bloomberg Business is reporting that “The Communist Party has directed one of the country’s largest state-run defense contractors, China Electronics Technology Group, to develop software to collect data on jobs, hobbies, consumption habits, and other behavior of ordinary citizens to predict terrorist acts before they occur.”

It was reported that the DOD’s Office of Naval Research (ONR) called for research proposals to study social media and how it could facilitate insights into people’s real thoughts, emotions and beliefs, and thus predict behavior.

It is obvious that Facebook is collecting data on people’s beliefs, likes and dislikes, often prompting them to play silly personal discovery games that yield a score after ten questions are asked which may seem random to the average person but they are cleverly designed to mine data and information on that person.

Algorithms are said to “accurately detect key features of speech linked to structural patterns such as humor, metaphor, emotion, language innovations, and subtle non-verbal elements of communication such as pitch, posture, gesture, from text, audio, and visual media.”

Measuring cognitive behavior, it is alleged that a software called ‘Beware’ is already being used to analyze social media activity, property records, records of friends and associates, assigning a “threat score.” Police might use such a “threat score” to pre-judge if a person is dangerous.

Can computers accurately predict the future? Amazon uses algorithms to guess what you are likely to purchase, meteorologists make short-term accurate weather forecasts, and Facebook pop up ads from companies you liked or offering similar items you have purchased on line from various vendors; videos of movies you may like to watch may pop up on the screen as suggestions based on your past viewing. In certain cases computers have made strides in “predicting who will commit a violent crime.”

Controlling someone’s life, whether through data-mining or medical breakthroughs that involve DNA typing, does not stop with intrusive research and computer manipulation. Overt government control of our children is promoted by many on the left, including presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton. She is of the opinion that parents are secondary in raising their child, the state comes first in its job to teach, train, and raise a child in order to better influence who they are, what they become, and where their loyalties reside.

I still remember the wife of the socialist dictator Ceausescu, Elena, who told the soldiers who arrested her in 1989 that she raised them, how dare they put handcuffs on her? We were to refer to her as our mother and the mother of the country, that our biological parents were just caretakers entrusted by the state.

Ambry Genetics, a prominent DNA-testing firm located in Orange County, CA, revealed a new database that contains the aggregated genetic information of 10,000 patients with hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. With the explanation that insights may lead to better medicines and a healthier future for everybody, the company welcomes “collaboration with pharmaceutical companies to speed the discovery of new diagnostic targets, treatments, and cures to save more lives, sooner.” Ambry Genetics “hopes to expand the database by adding genetic information from 20,000 individuals each year.”

Drug Discovery and Development magazine interviewed Ambry CEO Charlie Dunlop who said, “Based on the sheer volume of the data we have released, we have already close to 200 new genes implicated in breast and ovarian cancer. This is about 10 times more genes than was publicly known yesterday, broadening understanding and potentially opening up more drug targets than from any single data release in history.”

But certain risk factors do not necessarily mean that a patient typed with such risk will actually get the disease. Are such genetic banks only about “preventing” genetic diseases? Might they have culling implications? Is playing God a good idea? Doing in vitro fertilization, screening the embryos, discarding the imperfect ones, creating 3-parent embryos, where will it stop? If you have changes in BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes, might insurance be refused to you, or perhaps a birth permit will be denied if it goes that far.

Might life imitate art eventually? In the 1997 movie “Gattaca,” the main character, Vincent Freeman, cannot travel into outer space because he is genetically inferior, an “in-valid.” In order to pursue his dream, he must purchase the genes of a laboratory-engineered “valid.”

From an unclassified document released in January, Money Morning is reporting that “the FBI’s Office of Partner Engagement revealed a new agency initiative based on Britain’s ‘anti-terror’ mass surveillance program.” This agency “requests that high school educators across the country inform on students who express ‘anti-government’ or ‘anarchist’ political beliefs.” Upon their observations, teachers report behaviors that they think might lead to violence, including persons who believe in conspiracy theories such as global government, police state, are those who believe in “libertarianism or constitutionalism.”

Is Brave New World, Aldous Huxley’s vision of a dystopian future in which “humans were genetically bred and pharmaceutically anesthetized to passively serve a ruling order” still just his dark fiction that has frightened readers since 1931?

In our new and highly computerized world, “the lives of others” can be effortlessly watched and dissected to the DNA level and then lovingly controlled in order to preserve them the right way.