Quick Roundup 525

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Affordable. Secular. Flexible.

Homeschoolers looking for a solid history curriculum would do well to consider Scott Powell's History at Our House. More details come in the video below.

Since I have yet to complete Step One for homeschooling ("Beget, Borrow, or Steal Children."), I don't home school, but I have enjoyed Powell's First History for Adults in the past. Based on that experience, I think this is well worth a look.

on Eyjafjallajokull

STATS, the blog of the Statistical Assessment Service, offers the following succinct commentary regarding the absurd, costly, government-enforced shutdown of European airspace after the Icelandic eruption:
This [substitution of worst-case thinking for rational risk assessment] is not ... an isolated phenomenon, but rather the result of a broad societal amplification of fear as a criterion for dealing with and regulating life. It is a radicalized skepticism which places far greater value on what is unknown, what might happen, than what can be known about what will happen. And this fear of the unknown demands action -- government intervention and regulation on the grounds that it is better to be safe than sorry.
I agree completely, except that I do not think STATS goes quite far enough in identifying what is not just a political, but a cultural phenomenon.

"Worst-case thinking" is a manifestation of the malevolent universe premise. It pervades the culture to the point that "worst case scenario" isn't just a common saying, but has been the name of a popular "reality" television series (among other things). As it was in the case of the European airspace closings, it often comes thinly disguised as "science."

To be completely clear, there is nothing inherently wrong with considering such scenarios, when it is warranted. But to do this day in and day out as one's normal policy is mistaken. It is just as wrong to attempt to eradicate all risk as it is to behave without any regard to risk because life is inherently risky.

There are no shortcuts to evaluating risk.

The Clinton-Miranda "Warning"

Taking advantage of anarcho-tyranny and following Bill Clinton's lead, some Islamic totalitarians are, in my opinion, openly inciting terrorism while also reveling in the fact that Clinton and his ilk have already provided them cover. That is, they are "predicting" a fate similar to Theo Van Gogh's for the creators of South Park. The New York Times quotes one Abu Talhah Al-Amrikee:
We have to warn Matt and Trey that what they are doing is stupid and they will probably wind up like Theo Van Gogh for airing this show. This is not a threat, but a warning of the reality of what will likely happen to them.
How different is this, really, from Clinton's treasonous "warning"?
"I'm glad they're fighting over health care and everything else. Let them have at it. But I think that all you have to do is read the paper every day to see how many people there are who are deeply, deeply troubled," he said.
Just take out "health care" and put in "religion". Anyone who says anything that upsets a hothead or a nut case somewhere is "responsible" for what that person does, by this "argument."

The crime that Al-Amrikee "predicts" will result in murder? Drawing a bear:
[A] "South Park" episode last week ... depicted the founders of various religions, including Moses, Jesus and Buddha, but declined to show the Prophet Muhammad outright and instead represented him as wearing a bear costume.
I was appalled by Clinton's remarks when I heard about them, but not, apparently, enough.

What he did was take a longstanding leftist fallacy (to denounce the open use of "violence," while promoting and condoning every other form of force) and apply it to incitement. Thus, by "warning" against terrorism, Al-Amrikee and his ilk can now incite terrorism, lay the blame on someone else, and preen about how "concerned" they are.

This may just be a new trick of the trade in the daily depravities of Islamic totalitarians, but it is a new low for Bill Clinton.

That Cold, Revisited

A while back, I noted that:
I went all winter wondering when I was going to catch cold, ... with every other subway commute resembling a tour of a tuberculosis ward. Nothing. Even with me being around many more people than in the past, I fell into my usual pattern of staying well until warmer weather arrived (and I'd forgotten all about colds) and then -- bam! -- getting sick.
Another blog posting at STATS points to a very interesting study that suggests that perhaps I should have left out the word, "Even:"
A new study finds that simply looking at sick people may help you to stay healthy. The research showed that seeing symptoms of illness, such as coughing or sneezing, triggers a response from the immune system.
It will be very interesting to see whether more such work will elucidate the connection between the nervous system and the immune system enough to shed light on such matters as the placebo and nocebo effects, and perhaps put them to full use.

It's not my field and I haven't delved into either of them, but two other interesting results pertaining to immunology recently came to my attention: "Fighting Allergies by Mimicking Parasitic Worms" and "Compound LJ001 Acts Like Antibiotic Against Viruses". The strategy employed in the second article is very clever.

-- CAV

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