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Aaron the Ripper?

Originally posted on gnostic bent:

The real Jack the Ripper (Beth Ivie-Allen)

The real Jack the Ripper (Beth Ivie-Allen)

In the fall of 1888, the Whitechapel district of London was terrorized by a serial killer who preyed on prostitutes and murdered them in the most brutal fashion: the infamous Jack the Ripper. And for more than 125 years, the identity of this vicious madman remained a mystery, despite there being a handful of potential suspects.

Well, it looks like the mystery has finally been solved—and not by a seasoned detective, but by an amateur sleuth named Russell Edwards.

The revelation came after Edwards acquired a shawl that was found at the crime scene of one of the Ripper’s victims, Catherine Eddowes. A world-renowned expert in DNA analysis—Dr. Jari Louhelainen—examined the shawl and was able to recover not only blood from the victim, but semen from her killer. He then used mitochondrial DNA—as well as samples from descendants of Eddowes and several suspects—to…

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Saying Goodbye to Joan Rivers

Joan Rivers was one of the most crass and offensive comedians to ever be a part of mainstream comedy. This is just a fact. However, she paved the way for so many. As a big fan of comedy, and the progression of people being able to make an impact I have a big place in my heart for Joan, even though she manages to make me uncomfortable pretty regularly when I watch her. Joan was groundbreaking with all of her appearances on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, but after she hosted a competing show for a short time there was a long time ban on her appearing on the Tonight Show – that was up until recently on Jimmy Fallon’s first episode after taking over the show.

So, with Joan being who she was I’m posting the thing that probably most exemplifies her career (outside of her documentary “A Piece Of Work”, which is not available on YouTube), her Comedy Central Roast.

*WARNING: if you are easily offended this will definitely offend you.

The Roast of Joan Rivers – YouTube.

This Man Was Given 2 Years To Live With ALS In 1963, And He’s Still Alive… And That’s Not Even The Most Interesting Thing About Him.

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Stephen Hawking has ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease). Did I just blow your mind? Discovering this bit of information was actually somewhat exciting for me, as I have always thought of the disease to be an absolute guarantee of death within a few years. I realize that a lot of people that I know do not like Mr. Hawking, and you don’t have to (no one can make you), but it is probably worth at least learning his story, and what makes him significant (other than the fact that he’s survived having ALS for half of a century). It will probably comfort a lot of my friends at least somewhat to know that Mr. Hawking isn’t as militant an atheist as some. He has actually been quoted saying:

“An expanding universe does not preclude a creator, but it does place limits on when he might have carried out his job!” – Stephen Hawking

 

The recent ALS Ice Bucket Challenge campaign has been unbelievably successful. Much of the success of this campaign is probably correlated with the fact that there seemed to be a very simple, and kind of fun activity that tangibly allows people to at least do something, other than give money. The other side of the campaign that is probably responsible for having raised $94.3 million, in less than a month (as opposed to $2.7 million in the same time period the previous year) is the outpouring of personal stories. I recently read the book “You Are Now Less Dumb”, and in this book David McRaney attempts to establish that the most basic of human instincts is to have a narrative – we must make sense of it all. He tries to explain how we tell ourselves simple lies sometimes just to make sense of our environment. It might seem like I’m bringing this up to say that religion is an opiate, but that is not my intent. I simply want to describe the importance in the human condition of relating to others. This is what Stephen looked like before ALS took over his body:

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SO, here is my challenge to you: I challenge you to watch this and try to address your prejudices against Mr. Hawking, be they ideological or biological – or simply watch it and enjoy it. I believe there is a God, and that in principle is why I would want to hear as much from someone like Hawking as possible. If you don’t have time for the video I at least urge you to read about some of Mr. Hawking’s discoveries and theories, he is a pretty smart fellow. Now I think I’ll go listen to the audiobook for his record breaking best selling book “A Brief History of Time”.

via Hawking 2013 – YouTube.

Texas Gov. Perry to turn himself in Tuesday, on heels of indictment | Fox News

 

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Just to clarify, I don’t find this news to be something to celebrate. I do not hate Rick Perry, and it is sad to see stories like this. Nonetheless, I am not a big fan of his political career, and this is big news. I hope that he has a wonderful life, and that he gets this behind him, and also that he stops having such influence in public policy that affects so many people.

 

Texas Gov. Perry to turn himself in Tuesday, on heels of indictment

Texas Gov. Perry to turn himself in Tuesday, on heels of indictmentPublished August 19, 2014FoxNews.com0 Texas Gov. Rick Perry plans to turn himself into authorities Tuesday afternoon at a local Texas jail on the heels of his indictment for alleged abuse of power, a member of the governor’s legal team told Fox News. The governor is expected to be processed quickly and to leave. He is not subject to an arrest warrant. However, Fox News has learned Perry will have his mugshot and fingerprints taken. He plans to arrive at the Travis County Justice Complex in Austin at about 5 p.m. local time. Fox News’ Casey Stegall contributed to this report.

via Texas Gov. Perry to turn himself in Tuesday, on heels of indictment | Fox News.

Jimmy Pays Tribute to Robin Williams – Tonight Show

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As a lover of conflicted, and conflicting people I regularly find that if I’m not laughing I’m crying. In all honesty I have experienced much of both laughter and crying over the last few days. I have been wondering what might be comparable as a lose for previous generations, and I’ve had trouble coming up with one… Maybe Will Rogers? He didn’t take his own life, and he was a different breed of entertainer, but he like Robin Williams caused great introspection for their audiences. I am trying to be happy for the great gift of Robin’s life, but I’m still feeling quite a bit of grief… I can’t wait to someday tell my kids about this madman of a comedian, and show them old clips like this one:

Jimmy Pays Tribute to Robin Williams – YouTube.

70 Years Ago Anne Frank Was Captured by the Nazis. Could That Happen Today?

Sometimes I find that I compartmentalize different historical figures and events, often forgetting that many events occurred at the same time as other consequential things, and many historical figures lived simultaneously, yet my mind seems to place very differently. I guess it was only a few months ago that I discovered that Martin Luther King Jr. born the same year as Anne Frank. I think of them as different people by the fact that they were different ages at their most influential, and their influences are separated by multiple decades. While alive they were virtually the same age, but in death they seem crystallized as members of different generations, to me at least. They both represent a unifying ideal in the face of oppression, and when studied they are both proven to be very human individuals who had flaws.

My friend Gavin posted a very thoughtful blurb in regards to Ms. Frank and the 70th anniversary of her incarceration – which was on August 4th, 2014. I thought that it would be worth re-sharing:

On August 1, 1944 (about year after my Father Ron was born) Anne Frank wrote her last diary entry. Millions of lives have been changed by the writings of this typical teenage girl who was willing to be honest, vulnerable, and search for forgiveness. Tomorrow, on Aug. 4th, seventy years ago she and her family were arrested and later sent to concentration camps. -GR “Often, reading Anne Frank’s diary is the way in which young people first learn about the horrors of the Nazi genocide. Just as importantly, young readers understand that these crimes were visited upon a girl much like themselves and their friends — a girl who was often in conflict with her mother, a girl who kept vowing to be a more patient and forgiving person, a girl who fell in love for the first time. A girl who wanted to be a writer — and who was one.” -Francine Prose CNN‪ #‎neverforget‬

 

I find it maddening that we still live in a world where there are groups of people who don’t seem able to escape tribalistic oppression from their own communities, or from their assumed enemies. I don’t like to think of myself as tribalistic, but in those moments when I am faced with my own humanity out of fear I usually find that I can be rather tribalistic, and I think that we are generally built that way.

I have shared this video several times before, but it seems very relevant for those who have the time to watch it:

The outrage that is so often expressed for the senseless oppression of a child, and many more like her is what makes Anne Frank’s diary such an amazing artifact. What if that same oppression still existed today in different forms? How would you feel? What would you do differently? Pedigree, belief systems, and birthplace can quite literally doom adolescents everyday, as it did 70 years ago. And might we just for a moment address that just because someone is not a child does not make it any less heinous that they be killed senselessly. There are more human beings enslaved today than ever before… That means more slaves than at the peak of the Civil War or during the construction of the pyramids. Of course we have a lot more people in the world, but that is not hyperbole, those are real live numbers! Most of the slave trade consists of young girls, just like Anne Frank… And as the world again finds unrest in the Middle East, most predictably in Israel, there are children who are being killed every single day.

The current fighting in Gaza between the Jewish and Palestinian peoples is a tragic example of tribalism – and this fight in many ways has been overly simplified by many, the Western Media in particular. What if both sides have innocent blood on their hands, and that by inserting ourselves in the fight we are adding fuel to the flame? Wouldn’t that be a bad thing?

I don’t think that these sides are equal and opposite to one another, that would be far too convenient. I do however think that as long as we speak about intending to prevent human tragedies we should speaking honestly about real events and their real consequences. Far more innocent Muslims have been killed in this fighting. Are you ok with that, and if so why? I wonder how many Anne Franks might have been saved, regardless of race and creed, if we would have acted differently…

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The very real impact of Obamacare opposition, in one map – Vox

*Below there is a video, and an article which is much more informative than I. So if you don’t have much time please skip what I wrote and go straight to that.

The following video, and the article below it, were made by Ezra Klein (and whoever else Ezra works with). It describes some of the cost patterns associated with regulation and participation within the healthcare marketplace. Ezra describes the very real effects of people being able to opt out of a system that automatically promises to treat them (via: at the least Emergency Rooms). While I agree with virtually everything about this video (and I usually find him to be very informative), this is a Very complex topic, and thus there are items that could be essential information while considering cause and effect of the health care industry – in particular the cause and effect of prices. As people begin to debate what causes our nation to pay such an incredible amount (16.9% of our GDP, the highest in the world), and yet we aren’t even close to the healthiest.

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I support business leading the way on development, and infrastructure as much as it can, but some great ideas have been midwifed by our collectivist society through our taxes. And something that I can’t seem to explain well enough to some of my friends is that free markets, and libertarianism is based in access. Do people have access to what they want? That is one measure of “free market” capitalism – but within our markets we regularly build levies and dams to protect us. Debating regulation specifics, rather than whether or not we should have any regulation is really what this country needs.

The regulation changes over the last few years have been labeled a handout to insurance companies, and in while that is true in many ways the real catalyst in terms of our prices being so inflated in comparison with the rest of the industrialized world is our administrative cost from having a privatized system that so heavily supports the pharmaceutical industry, as well as the networks of hospitals with virtually no accountability on many levels. These arguments cannot be made against the entire healthcare industry, but they should be made against certain portions of it.

I don’t know which approach we should take exactly, I don’t love “Obamacare”, but it’s in many ways an improvement on what he had before. The following might help in understanding the most controversial part of the ACA (Affordable Care Act), the Individual Mandate (invented by the Heritage Foundation in the 1990’s).

-Grady

Vox’s Ezra Klein explains exactly how the individual mandate works

The individual mandate is the provision of Obamacare that requires most Americans to purchase health insurance coverage. It exists to encourage people who are unlikely to buy coverage — mostly healthy people who think premiums are a waste of money — to go ahead and do so. This is necessary, many health economists believe, in order to keep premiums low.Some people do get an exemption from the individual mandate, because they can’t find an affordable plan, for example, or have a religious objection to health coverage. But, by and large, most Americans are now required to carry health coverage or pay a penalty.The penalty for not carrying coverage in 2014 is $95 or 1 percent of income, whichever is larger, and it goes up the next year and year after. The federal government recoups this penalty via the tax filing process. So someone who decided to go uninsured would file that information with the Internal Revenue Service, along with their income. They could have the penalty deducted from their 2014 tax return — the one that they file in the spring of 2015.Though the individual mandate was originally a conservative idea pushed in response to Bill Clinton’s 1994 health care plan, it became the subject of a lawsuit Republican attorneys general mounted against Obamacare’s constitutionality. The Supreme Court ultimately ruled in June 2012 that the mandate was constitutional under the federal government’s taxing powers. You can read the decision here.

via The very real impact of Obamacare opposition, in one map – Vox.

“Help Me Help You”: The Secrets of Food Marketing – eTalks

Think you aren’t being fooled by advertising tricks? Take a look at this so-called expert revealing food marketing’s secret weapon.No amount of marketing makes factory farming acceptable. You can stop the spin at http://www.ciwf.org.uk/truth

via eTalks – The Secrets of Food Marketing – YouTube.

 

So let’s pretend that we as a society collectively actually do believe that treatment of animals like this is ok (which I’m not confident that we feel that way at all) – shouldn’t we still at least have ways to address the health risks involved with this type of business practice? People are becoming more and more immune to antibiotics, and not just people who take antibiotics. I’m not saying that antibiotics are bad, but science tells us that our food is affecting our evolution/immune systems.

Do you ever wonder what it would take for us to actually make a change? I mean, what news do you think we would have to hear that would cause people to change how they live their lives? Organic food can be more expensive, at least at first. By the way that we subsidize the unhealthy food industry and “poor health” health care we actually end up paying more in many ways – oh and we’re less healthy… If you find this concerning then keep reading, or watching what you can find, that’s what I’m trying to do. Maybe you don’t feel that you can do much, but research where you buy, so you know what you buy.If you have time now or later I recommend watching the movie Food Inc., and I’ll be posting a related video below. You’ll have to find the full movie elsewhere, it may still be on Netflix.

P.S. We don’t need to be jerks to animals do we?… I eat meat, but can’t I still have remorse for their treatment? If you are really curious just look up PETA videos on youtube… Goodluck enjoying any meat for a while after watching those…

P.P.S. If you don’t want the government to step in a do any “social engineering” like limiting the container size in which you can sell soda pop (as NYC tried to do, not ban soda), then you need to vote with your wallet. We have a health crisis, and because we have a system that ties us all together through the “free market” insurance industry and emergency rooms end up being more expensive – while churning out patients who would have been better served with preventative measures…

2013-08-05

Skin In The Game: High Stakes on High Temps

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When there is a big debate I love to hear “the facts” as we know them, but I also love hearing about the passion with which those in close proximity to the item in question conveys their perspective. Does the person speaking have anything to gain or lose in this debate? Like when I hear people talk about the gospel: the most compelling argument (to me anyway) that Jesus was who people say that he says he was is that his disciples, who lived among him, were almost all reportedly tortuously murdered still claiming what they had been sentenced to death for proclaiming. They had “skin in the game”, and it didn’t shake their resolve. This matter of course still requires faith, just as many consequential aspects of life can require faith in planning, but they had first-hand experience with something and they were willing to die horrifically for that thing (or so it is told, and believing in these events does require faith).

This video describes multiple groups with “skin in the game” (whether it be professional, financial, or actual physical skin) in regards to the climate of our planet possibly changing – and they believe that the climate is experiencing change. One thing about “free markets” is that they can indicate much about items unknowable, yet consequential, and how those with skin in the game estimate they should act. Can we guarantee that people in the United States will continue to gain weight, and keep paying for care which allows them to experience less indigestion but maintain too much weight? No, but if you were to bet on it how would you bet? Billions of dollars are bet every year, by people who don’t like losing money, on the idea that people are not going to lose weight, and those people make a lot of money. If you were an insurance company would you haphazardly put billions of dollars at stake for something that is “laughable”? Well, those companies which have the opportunity to bet on whether or not the climate is changing detrimentally to some degree are making the bets that would indicate that they think we have a problem with the health of our little planet’s climate. I guess if the free market can’t inform some conservatives then I’m not sure that it’s going to happen anytime soon.

This speech from Senator Whitehouse is from December of 2013, and it seems to have just recently picked up some more traction in the social media world. He is speaking against Oklahoma Senator (and apparently very nice guy) Senator Inhofe. I have had multiple friends work for Inhofe, and the reports seem to be that he’s sincere, but that doesn’t mean that he’s right.

George Takei: Why I love a country that once betrayed me – YouTube

Having grown up as I have in a very conservative environment, and in many ways I’m very grateful for that, I repeatedly find myself struggling with one a few inconsistencies that I find in the fabric of the culture. As human beings are imperfect creatures I think this would be the case wherever one is to have been from. But seeing as how I was raised as I was where I was I find that I can most easily point out hypocrisies, as well as triumphs, in my home culture.

The moral/cultural hypocrisy that I have repeatedly found myself most frustrated with has been reflected in this question: as Christian theology teaches that we are all imperfect how could it be that our nation and it’s history wouldn’t as well be tainted?

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Stephen Colbert wrote a book in 2012 titled America Again: Re-Becoming The Greatness We Never Weren’t, which I firstly assumed was titled nonsensically just because he is funny, and he was intending to be “ridiculous”. However, after I heard him explain the title in an interview it made perfect sense. It is intended to be a “poke” at the conservative historicity of America for being the best that there ever was, and the best there ever will be – while also perpetually being in the process of going straight down the tubes. I could tell some anecdotal stories about trying to talk with some of my very conservative friends about some of the “wrong doings” of our nation in the past, and even the present, and how those conversations didn’t go very well. Rather however, I think it may be a better idea for me to just say if you don’t think that there is revisionist history about how we have treated human beings (not to mention animals or this marvelously inhabitable planet), I ask you to have a conversation with someone who you know has deep rooted conservative ideals about things like the dropping of the Atom Bomb, or reparations for Native Americans and African Americans. I know it’s a difficult conversation, but look into the history of some of our greatest shortcomings, lest we never forget and repeat them.

And for the record, I am most definitely aware that revisionist history and self-pleasing politics are not unique to Oklahoma, The South, or The United States. I know best about Oklahoma, and so that is the narrative from which my opinion is most founded. There is no question that the North had slave/racism, or any number of hot button items may have a partial or blinded perspective. I just hope that you can forgive me if I’ve hurt your feelings by seeming to bully my home – if I am doing that it’s unintentional.

Here is a story about one of our greatest injustices that seems rarely to be told, and fortunately for us it is being told by a very funny and well-liked American, George Takei.

via George Takei: Why I love a country that once betrayed me – YouTube.

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