Be Brave. Be strong. We WILL go on.

It is easy to imagine biblical Egyptians saying this to themselves after the defeat of their army at the Red Sea. I am fond of referring to the plagues as “Egypt’s 9/11″. It is obviously tough to lose a conflict and people always try to cheer themselves up. After Israel’s 2006 loss to Hizbullah in the Second Lebanon war this vid became a popular “stiff upper lip” rallying cry.

“Be brave, be strong we WILL go on.” from Aaron Freeman on Vimeo.

Sanctions vs. Boycotts

Aaron Freeman:

Well reasoned and much appreciated. Thanks!

Originally posted on Mormon Paleo Thought:

In a previous post, I discussed the logistical problems with sanctions.  To sum up, they rarely (if ever) accomplish the desired outcome, and are always accompanied by negative, unforeseen consequences.  Trading with countries and maintaining diplomatic ties is a much better way to work towards the prosperity and peace of all nations.

Here, I would like to compare sanctions to boycotts.  While I am strongly opposed to economic sanctions, I am very much in favor of boycotts as a market tool.

One big difference between the two is that governments decide all the particulars related to sanctions, whereas individuals decide all the particulars related to boycotts.  For instance, in the case of sanctions, the government decides the timeframe they will be imposed, the conditions under which they will be imposed, the possibility of repeal, the conditions under which a repeal is possible, etc.  Individuals in a country have marginal (if any) real control over any…

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My Conversation with Rabbi Leonard Beerman

Originally posted on Shalom Rav:

brantandleonard2

This past Sunday I had the great pleasure and honor to participate in a open conversation with Rabbi Leonard Beerman in “Progressive Politics from the Pulpit,” a program sponsored by Jewish Voice for Peace – Los Angeles. As Rabbi Beerman has been one of my true rabbinical heroes for so many years, it was truly a thrill for me to share a podium with him as we shared our thoughts on the challenges facing congregational rabbis who engage in progressive social justice activism.

As a Los Angeles native myself, I’ve long known of Rabbi Beerman’s inspired work during the years he served as the Senior Rabbi of LA’s Leo Baeck Temple. He was the founding rabbi of Leo Baeck in 1949 and stayed there for the next 37 years until his retirement in 1986. During that time, he challenged his congregants – and the Jewish community at large –…

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Loves Us Some Nicotine!

I want to talk about… about… um… (vape) Oh yeah, how nicotine can improve memory and cognitive function! I can guess what you’re thinking: nicotine “Noooooo!” But calm down. Nicotine (named for Jean Nicot) the French ambassador to Portugal who brought the tobacco plant back to Paris) Nicotine is a classic example of guilt by association.

But nicotine may be the best friend of aging brains. If you’re like me, and I know I am, you worry about aging and Alzheimer’s disease the first sign if which is what neurologist call MCI or Mild Cognitive Impairment. In 2012 neurologist Paul Newhouse slapped patches on 67 subjects. 33 contained a placebos and 34 delivered 15 milligrams per day nicotine. After 6 months of double blind study the nicotine group showed improvement in primary and secondary cognitive measures of attention, memory, and mental processing. It concluded that there was evidence for nicotine-induced cognitive improvement in subjects with MCI.

But the nicotine news gets better! A 1991 study in the Netherlands found that smokers had a lower incidence and later onset of and that the risk of Alzheimer’s disease decreased with increasing daily number of cigarettes smoked. Truth be told, the neuroprotective effects of nicotine have been experimentally documented for years.

Cigarette smoking harms almost every organ in your body. Smokers risk cancer, emphysema birth defects and probably acne. But nicotine delivery by other means, not so much. As far as I can tell the biggest risk of nicotine is becoming addicted to something that protects your brain.

But what do I know? Thank goodness I’m not a doctor and have no qualifications, pretentions or interest in giving anybody medical advice. Anybody who’d take medical advice from a comedian may already have mild cognitive impairment. But there is good data out there by grownup neuroscientists providing reasons to take another look at our old buddy… um… niee… ni – (vape) oh yeah nicotine!

UN Report on North Korea could be about the United States or South Korea

Originally posted on what's left:

By Stephen Gowans

Surely one could be forgiven for thinking that when the Washington Post’s Chico Harlan (February 17) described the conclusions reached by the UN Human Rights Commission’s investigation into North Korea that he was really describing his own country, the United States. Harlan wrote, “The report makes for devastating reading, laying out the way North Korea conducts surveillance on its citizens (see Edward Snowden’s revelations about the NSA’s spying on US citizens…and everyone else), bans them from travel (anyone up for a visit to Cuba?), discriminates against them based on supposed ideological impurities (has the United States ever been kind to Marxist-Leninists?), tortures them (water boarding and Abu Ghraib) and sometimes banishes them to isolated prison camps, where they are held incommunicado” (recently Guantanamo and other CIA torture camps around the world to which opponents of the US regime have been rendered, more distantly, the incarceration of German-…

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BIll Nye vs Ken Ham – YHWH vs Sophia

On Tuesday 4 Feb Bill Nye the Science Guy will discuss evolution with Creation Museum founder Ken Ham.  On one level it will be an exchange of views on the origins of the earth and life on it but it will also be a classic throw down between the creator god YHWH and the goddess of Wisdom, Sophia.