Monday, December 01, 2014

There is NO American Dream?

Gregory Clark is very good at both social history and economic history.  His latest work, however, leans on what I see as a very weak reed.  He finds surnames that are associated with wealth and tracks those surnames down the generations.  And he finds that in later generations those surnames continue to be associated with wealth.

That is all well and good but he is using only a very small sampling of the population so can tell us nothing about the society at large.  The well-known effect of a man making a lot of money only for his grandchildren to blow the lot is not captured by his methods.

So if the American dream consists of raising up a whole new lineage of wealth, we can agree that such a raising up is rare, though not unknown.  But if we see the American Dream as just one man "making it" (regardless of what his descendants do) Clark has nothing to tell us about it.  And I think that latter version of the dream is the usual one.

But his findings that SOME lineages stay wealthy is an interesting one.  And he explains it well.  He says (to simplify a little) that what is inherited is not wealth but IQ.  As Charles Murray showed some years back, smarter people tend to be richer and tend to marry other smart people.  So their descendant stay smart and smart people are mostly smart about money too.

And note that although IQ is about two thirds genetically inherited, genetic inheritance can throw up surprises at times.  I once for instance knew two brown-haired parents who had three red-headed kids.  The hair was still genetically inherited (there would have been redheads among their ancestors), but just WHICH genes you get out of the parental pool when you are conceived seems to be random.  So you do get the phenomenon of two ordinary people having a very bright child.  And that child can do very well in various ways -- monetary and otherwise.  I was such a child.


It has powered the hopes and dreams of U.S. citizens for generations.  But the American Dream does not actually exist, according to one economics professor.

Gregory Clark, who works at the University of California, Davis, claims the national ethos is simply an illusion and that social mobility in the country is no higher than in the rest of the world.

'America has no higher rate of social mobility than medieval England or pre-industrial Sweden,' he said. 'That’s the most difficult part of talking about social mobility - it's shattering people's dreams.'

After studying figures from the past 100 years and applying a formula to them, Mr Clark concluded that disadvantaged Americans will not be granted more opportunities if they are hard-working.

Instead, they will be stuck in their social status for the rest of their lives - and their position will, in turn, affect the statuses of their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, he said.

'The United States is not exceptional in its rates of social mobility,' the professor wrote in an essay published by the Council on Foreign Relations.  'It can perform no special alchemy on the disadvantaged populations of any society in order to transform their life opportunities.'

Speaking to CBS Sacramento, he added: 'The status of your children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, great-great grandchildren will be quite closely related to your average status now.'

However, not all of Mr Clark's students agree with his findings, with some pointing out that although parents' wealth has an effect on a child's life, 'it is not the ultimate deciding factor'.



Does ambien make a sleepwalking criminal out of you?

I took some of this stuff for a little while and I don't believe the claims below.  When millions of people are taking the stuff a small percentage of them will be sleepwalkers (with or without the pill).  And that is all we see, I think.  There doesn't even seem to be a proper epidemiological study below.  It is just anecdote piled on anecdote.  As far as I can see, Zolpidem is just a whipping-boy for faults that lie elsewhere.  It is just a convenient scapegoat for various unknowns.  After all it is made by a DRUG COMPANY and they make PROFITS!  Unforgiveable!

Sleeping pills taken by celebrities including Lindsay Lohan and Tiger Woods – and prescribed widely in Britain – could be to blame for numerous cases of dangerous and even criminal behaviour.

Zolpidem [Ambien; Stilnox], which is handed out to 750,000 NHS patients seeking treatment for insomnia each year, has been found to be a factor in dozens of instances of people breaking the law while sleeping.

They include 43 instances of driving, nine rapes, eight assaults, ten murders or manslaughters, and burglaries – all of which were claimed to have been carried out while the perpetrator was apparently asleep. In most cases they also had no memory of the event.

Neurologist Professor Mark Mahowald, of Sleep Forensic Associates, a US-based organisation of doctors who help those who break the law while still asleep, says: ‘It appears that one part of the brain responsible for complex activities, like driving or cooking, is awake, while another, involved in memory, is not.

Numerous studies have reported rare instances of patients driving, eating, making telephone calls and even having sex while under the influence of the medication.

One report, by doctors at the Hospital Italiano de Buenos Aires, claimed that up to one per cent of patients had a sleep-eating problem after taking the sedative. The only clues to their nocturnal feasting were morning leftovers and crumbs in the bed [Handy to blame snacking on Zolpidem}.

Patients being prescribed Zolpidem are already warned that changes in sleep behaviour, including sleepwalking, are a possible side effect, but this is the first time data on criminal behaviour linked to the drug has been comprehensively collected.

Mild and fleeting, so-called confusional arousals, such as waking up in a hotel room with no idea where you are, are common, especially in people who are over-tired.

Some researchers say the events seen in users of the drug occur during these arousals, and point out that no drug has ever been shown in laboratory studies to cause sleepwalking, a phenomenon that happens when the cortex is asleep but areas of the brain concerned with movement are active.



Countering the Big Lie

There was a time during one of the so-called intifadas (forgive me for not remembering if it was the first, second, or in-between; all that savagery and murder runs together seamlessly in my head these days) that the Palestinians claimed that the Jews had no connection at all to Jerusalem, or the land of Israel. A statement like that, similar to denying the Holocaust, is so insane it leaves one sputtering in wordless confusion. It’s like being asked to prove you aren’t dead.

Were we not living in a world unspeakably degraded by dumbed-down college programs, propaganda pamphlets parading as newspapers, and the general degradation of moral and intellectual levels in every strata of society all over the world, such lies could be ignored. Given the reality, we ignore it at our peril.

Palestinian big lies seem to be gaining more, not less, steam. According to David Meir Levi in his book History Upside Down, Arafat, a puppet of the KGB, was taught these skills by the Communists: “Using Soviet methods, Arafat reframed attacks on the Jews that had been ongoing since the 1920s motivated by religious obligations of jihad, as secular nationalism motivated by a quest for political self- determination.”

Since then, the Arabs have never attacked the Jews – they have always ‘resisted them.’ General Giap [Ho Chi Minh’s chief strategist] told Arafat that: “the PLO needed to work in a way that concealed its real goals, permitted strategic deception, and gave the appearance of moderation: ‘Stop talking about annihilating Israel and instead turn your terror war into a struggle for human rights. Then you will have the American people eating out of your hand.’”

Similarly, Ion Mihai Pacepa, former chief of Romanian intelligence who defected to the West, wrote: “In March 1978, I secretly brought Arafat to Bucharest for final instructions on how to behave in Washington. ‘You simply have to keep on pretending that you’ll break with terrorism and that you’ll recognize Israel – over, and over, and over,’ Ceausescu told him for the umpteenth time…”

Another propaganda tool Palestinian leadership learned from the Soviets was “turnspeak,” i.e., disseminating information that is the exact opposite of truth. It was a tool used to great effect by Adolf Hitler to justify his invasion of Czechoslovakia: Whose fault was it that Hitler had to invade? Why, the Czechs of course, who were trying to provoke a regional war by attempting to claim their land as their own.

You will hear the same claims now being made against Israel by its American “friends” for daring to build in its capital, Jerusalem. “Israelis don’t want peace,” the State Department under Muslim-sympathizer Barack Hussein Obama is now claiming, shaking its finger.

Winston, the hero of George Orwell’s prescient novel 1984, is employed changing history by changing old newspaper records to match the new truth as decided by the Party, whose slogan is “He who controls the past, controls the future.” It’s a method Palestinian leadership has perfected.

The Israeli government, and many of its politicians, have never understood this, and in their ignorance have allowed these big lies to gain momentum without any credible challenge. Thankfully, private individuals whose passion for truth and love for Israel burns brightly have tried to take up the slack. One of them is Gloria Z. Greenfield, a documentarian and filmmaker who has dedicated her life to combatting these lies with her passionate, skillful films. Greenfield’s latest documentary “Body and Soul” premiered at the Begin Center on October 20.

Like her previous films, “The Case for Israel, Democracy’s Outpost” and “Unmasked Judeophobia,” this third offering presents the Jewish case to the world through the arguments of eminent men and women scholars, and through photographs and illustrations, trying to explain what even a generation ago would have needed no explanation, i.e., that the Jewish people and the Land of Israel are inextricably intertwined and have been for more than three thousand years.

While the film may not convince those brainwashed to ignore historical fact, it will certainly help most normal people to understand the connection between the Jewish people, the Torah, and the Land of Israel, all three being fundamental pillars of our faith and our identity as Jews. Some might deride that as preaching to the converted, but what I always tell people who use that expression is that even the most pro-Israel person needs to be shored up and strengthened against the gale winds of hatred and disinformation blowing our way these days.

The panel discussion after the film was in itself a truly memorable event. Exquisitely moderated by the inimitable Melanie Phillips, British author, journalist and incomparable defender of the Jewish State and her people, whose sharp wit and brilliant grasp of the facts have punctured the hot air balloons of many a jihadi sympathizer, the panel consisted of Professor Eugene Kontorovich, expert in International Law, Yoram Hazony, Shalem Center Founder and president of the Herzl Foundation, and Professor Robert Wistrich, holder of the Neuberger Chair of Modern European and Jewish History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem since 1989, described by the Journal for the Study of Antisemitism as “the leading scholar in the field of antisemitism study.”

According to Dr. Kontorovich, after World War I the old Ottoman Empire, which comprised the Middle East, was divided up into mandates that were to be helped to independence. The Jews were to be given the Mandate of Palestine. Well so far so good, you’ll say, you know this. Yes, but what you don’t know is that the international law hasn’t changed. If the mandate that created Israel is no longer legal (and that mandate included all of the West Bank and Jordan and all of Gaza) then the mandates that created Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen are also invalid.

Unlike our long-held assumption that it was the U.N. vote on the partition that created Israel, it was the League of Nations mandate. The U.N. partition plan merely gave 77% of the Mandate land meant for the Jewish State to Palestinians, creating Jordan. So why was there dancing in the streets of Israel? Kontorovich calls it “Jewish joy,” at being left anything at all.

As for the West Bank, Jordan’s occupation prior to 1967 was illegal under international law which operates under the premise of “stability of borders.” Thus, Kontorovich explained, even though Crimea is filled with ethnic Russians, and was handed over to the Ukraine in a completely arbitrary and dysfunctional way, still International Law decrees that Crimea belongs to the Ukraine now.

Through this looking glass, the claims of Palestinians that the land of Israel should belong to them because of their ethnicity has no validity under International Law. All borders in the present Middle East were created the same way. To claim Israel has no rights to her land, would mean that neither does any other country in the Middle East.

Yoram Hazony made it clear what narrative we Jews must promote to overcome the lies. “Our story must not be defensive …The book connects the land to the people,” he states, reminding us how even the secular Zionist founders of Israel studied the Bible. “AIPAC needs to say this out loud. Birthright needs to say it out loud …Our Bible has been vilified. German academics said it was full of religious nonsense …Our book gave so much light to the world …We need to respect our Book and ourselves, and to stop apologizing for who and what we are.”

Melanie Phillips summed it up: “Palestinians were given a fictional national identity, a national identity invented solely for the purpose of destroying a true one … Many people subscribe to this mad narrative who are not irrational or haters of Jews, but believe in justice. They believe lies, that illegality is law. Many millions have been fed a big lie.”

This lie is two-fold: that the Jews have no connection to the Land of Israel prior to 1948, and that Judaism is unconnected to Israel-Zionism. It will not be easy, but every one of us must do what we can, in every way we can, to counter those lies. Promoting Gloria Greenfield’s film “Body and Soul” is a good start.



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