RWP was born in Manchester, in the north of England, in the late 1950s, so he is very old. He really liked the north of England, which by 1965 was hip and had three TV channels, and where he went to a coed school. His parents, for reasons best known to themselves, then yanked him away, to Belfast and then Dublin, which had one TV channel that started up at 6 pm with the Angelus (Catholic call to prayer). He also had to go to an all boys school, where he realized he really missed girls. This probably let him focus on schoolwork, though, and at age 19, after he had finished college, he set off for America, where he still resides. He has a bachelors degree in biochemistry and a Ph.D. from Harvard in biophysics, and has lived also in Mainz, Germany, Setauket NY, and Richland WA. He currently divides his time between Nebraska, Rosslyn VA, and Florida.

Monday, March 31, 2014

New age hooey, courtesy of the University of Nebraska at Lincoln

The University of Nebraska at Lincoln has a 'Wellness Program'. I have no problem with 'Wellness Programs', as long as they encourage people not to smoke or drink to excess, and to get exercise and eat properly. I annually fill out their little Wellness Survey, even though it's mostly just to get the discounted prescriptions they offer as a reward. The survey itself tells me nothing I don't already know. I diligently count calories and have a spiffy new Basis activity monitor. (OK, it's mostly a cool toy, but I do try to use it to make sure I'm getting adequate exercise, not sitting for too long, etc.) Feedback is good.

However, as happens to many initially well-intentioned ideas, UNL's Wellness Program has developed mission creep, and is now metastasizing dangerously close to the wall of separation of church and state. Here's their 'What is Wellness' page.

UNL utilizes a 7-element model of wellness including emotional, environmental, intellectual, occupational, physical, social, and spiritual dimensions. This wellness model has been an internationally accepted model for over 10 years. It was chosen by the UNL Chancellor's Committee on Wellness over other models because of the inclusion of intellectual and environmental elements; elements we feel are important in a university setting.
Uh, huh. The mission ain't just creeping, it's gotten up and is settling into a moderate gallop. So let's look at some of their 'elements'

: Are you engaged in the process of Spiritual Wellness?

  1. Do I make time for relaxation in my day?
  2. Do I make time for meditation and/or prayer?
  3. Do my values guide my decisions and actions?
  4. Am I accepting of the views of others?
Uh, that's a no on number 2. That's because I'm an atheist, and when I tried 'meditation', I found it a pointless wage of time. The page disapproves.
If you answered "No" to any of the questions, it may indicate an area where you need to improve the state of your spiritual wellness.
Of course, a state university should not be pushing prayer, even in an 'and/or'.

Explaining their little symbol for spiritual wellness

Solar symbols can have meaning in astrology, religion, mythology, mysticism, and divination.
...or translated into the language of reality 'hooey, hooey, hooey, hooey, and hooey', and plagiarized hooey at that. Oh dear. Am I being unaccepting of the views of others? One more area I may need to 'improve my state of spiritual wellness!

Examples of 'Spiritual Wellness' activities

  • Meditation; prayer
  • Religious affiliation
  • Explore and enjoy the flora & fauna of a wilderness area.
  • Watch a sunrise or sunset
  • Exercise
  • Freedom
  • Outdoor act
I'm not sure how freedom is in any way a commensurate with 'religious affiliation'. Moreover, UNL should not be encouraging religious affiliation, or prayer.

The Spiritual Wellness Inventory below can be used to thoughtfully reflect upon your spiritual wellness.

  1. I am willing to forgive myself and others.
  2. I have a sense of belonging, meaning and purpose in my life.
  3. I have a belief system (e.g., spiritual, atheist, religious).
  4. I participate in regular spiritual activities with people who share my beliefs, and I am open to hearing about other's beliefs.
  5. I accept my limitations without embarrassment or apology.
  6. I keep the purpose of my life clearly in mind and let it guide my decision-making.
  7. I freely give to others.
  8. I am comfortable about knowing things without knowing precisely how I know them (intuition).
  9. I allow others the freedom to believe what they want without pressuring them to accept my beliefs.
  10. I look for and work toward balance.
  11. I continually explore personal beliefs, values and priorities.
  12. Principles, ethics and morals provide guides for my life.
Most of this is vapid new-agey crap, but 3 is stupid (atheism is not a belief system), and 4 is most certainly an endorsement of organized religion.

It goes on. Recycling is a form of 'environmental wellness', as is 'conserving water'. I don't just conserve water, by the way, I'm pretty sure, by metabolizing food, I actually increase the net amount of water in the world. I can write you a chemical equation for it, even!

The morons with too much time on their hands who wrote this could improve their 'libertarian wellness' by avoiding pushing their personal belief systems as university policy. Maybe I'll offer to create a page on that.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Did the Lincoln Journal Star just smear a falsely accused man?

Today, in an editorial on sexual assault in the military:
Passage of the bill coincidentally took place during the same week that Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair went on trial for forcing a captain to perform oral sex after she tried to end a secret affair. The captain grew up in Nebraska and joined the military after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Two days ago, the New York Times, in a piece titled How a Military Sexual Assault Case Foundered , described how the case against Sinclair was falling apart. The accuser lied under oath about how she 'found' her iPhone, a vital piece of exonerating evidence, concealing evidence that it had been recently heavily used and possibly tampered with. She had previously changed her story several times, and made the allegation of sexual assault only after getting into legal trouble herself. There was testimony she had denied she was raped, and text messages and diary entries suggest she was infatuated with Sinclair and was having a consensual affair.

The lead prosecutor

issued an ultimatum to his bosses at Fort Bragg: abandon the most serious charges or he would quit the case, citing his concerns over the iPhone testimony, according to testimony by a colleague, Lt. Col. Jerrett Dunlap.
As a result, the judge in the trial stopped it Tuesday because of 'unlawful command influence', basically finding the prosecutors were being pressured into trying an unwinnable case for political reasons.
Update on March 17: Sinclair will plead guilty to a number of minor offenses, most of which are not crimes in the civilian world. All charges involving sexual assault, coercion, or defrauding the government were dropped. To quote Gen. Sinclair's attorney
After wasting millions of taxpayer dollars, the Army finally admitted what it's known for many months: General Sinclair is innocent of sexual assault. Two successive prosecutors agreed that these charges should be dropped, as did two successive staff judge advocates...The government understood that if it allowed BG Sinclair's accuser to be cross-examined, she would be caught in a thick web of her own lies. It shouldn't have taken two years for them to come to this conclusion, but they were driven by politics rather than justice.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Today in Government Health Care

Advanced radiotherapy remains unavailable to some patients in Britain's government run National Health Service. Meanwhile, here are average 5 year survival rates, probably some of the last before Obamacare destroys our healthcare system
            Lung            Breast          Kidney
Europe       13               82              61
England       9               79              47
US           17               90              72
In other news, British researchers found Randy Newman was right.
In a paper submitted to the Journal of Behavioural Genetics, the team concludes that “in this study we found a moderate and statistically significant genetic correlation between height and general intelligence". ... Previous studies have linked short stature to a heightened risk of cardiovascular disease. Conversely, higher IQ has been linked to longevity and a lower risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, accidents, and suicide.