Thursday, January 17, 2019

Physician Burnout, Thanks to Obamacare

Debates over health care most often assume that if only we spent more money all would be well. The trendy solution is Medicare for all, a version of the national health services that many European countries offer. As for whether we can afford it, people seem to believe that we can just borrow the money. As for whether it will produce high quality health care, the likelihood is that it will not.

Obamacare was supposed to be a step toward better medical care for all. Among its great innovations was electronic medical records. It made a lot of sense. The behavioral economists love it.  It seemed very high tech. In practice, it was not so good.

A dermatologist described the issue on Newsmax in August, 2017:

Part of the healthcare reform imposed by President Obama was a series of mandates (with associated penalties for lack of compliance) that forced physicians to switch to electronic medical records. This was problematic from a variety of perspectives not the least of which is one is that this may be a violation of free speech (how you record your interaction with a patient should be decided by you and your patients). Instead, physicians and hospitals were forced to pay for the implementation of systems that in many cases were not ready for prime time. The companies that made this software reaped the benefits of this regulatory bonanza while healthcare providers and patients had to sort out the nuances of each interaction. Instead of focusing on the patient history, physicians were forced to focus on recording information mandated by their software. The flavor of each interaction was lost as each person became a series of boxes to check during a visit that became less and less personal.

Now, we discover that physicians are increasingly feeling burned out. They are stressed out and exhausted… thinking about leaving medicine or even contemplating suicide. The New York Post reports on the problem. Few other media outlets have noted this unwanted side-effect of Obamacare:

Doctor burnout is becoming a huge problem, according to new research, which finds that nearly half of all physicians feel completely depleted, to the point where one in seven have contemplated suicide.

The annual Medscape report, released Wednesday, finds that on average, 44 percent of the medical professionals your existence depends on report feeling stressed out to the point where they’ve considered leaving the field altogether.

A higher percentage of these wiped-out life-savers are women, according to the survey of more than 15,000 doctors.

“It’s alarming,” says Brunilda Nazario, lead medical director at WebMD, which owns Medscape. “These numbers haven’t changed, and the problem just continues to be a trend, despite increasing programs to address wellness,” such as “nutrition and exercise programs, or more time off.”

Evidently, a burnt-out physician is an ineffective physician. As for the reason why the situation has become so bad, everyone seems to agree that the culprit is the Obamacare mandate for electronic record keeping:

The reason for the scary numbers isn’t what you would think: Most doctors say it’s the level of paperwork and data input they’ve had to do since medical records went digital. Doctors end up spending about 45 minutes per patient visit on tasks like “inputting data codes for the visit,” Nazario says, leaving little face-to-face time with patients.

“[Doctors] are spending an enormous amount of time taking in data during physician-patient visits,” she says. “I know during my last visit for my physician, I think the doctor spent no more than two minutes looking at me. They were looking at a computer screen.”

More time keeping records means less time with every patient.

The result is scary: “I dread coming to work,” one neurologist says in the report.

A family physician says the stress is taking a toll on her physically: “I’m having recurrent miscarriages.”

“I’m drinking more and have become less active,” an anesthesiologist says.

Though most doctors say the depression doesn’t affect their patient care, 35 percent say they find themselves getting exasperated with their patients, and 14 percent say they make errors they wouldn’t normally make.

So, a seemingly great idea has produced some seriously unintended consequences. Somehow or other the great minds who produced Obamacare did not factor in the time and effort that it would take for physicians to keep up with mandated record keeping.

The Post article explains:

… all the schooling and training they’ve undergone can feel like a waste when most of their day is spent typing codes into their medical software.

Should She Apologize?

It will sound like a refreshing change of pace in these parts, but I am happy to report today on some advice offered by New York Times columnist Kwame Anthony Appiah. His advice is thoughtful and serious. It runs counter to therapy culture principles. And he is right.

In the world of ethics, the question is intriguing. Should she apologize for something that happened five decades ago? Should she look up the man she harmed and say that she is sorry for harming him?

It’s one thing to apologize for a present-day dereliction. It’s quite another to apologize for something that happened decades ago. What do you think?

Here is the letter:

I am in my mid-70s and have been happily married to my second husband for 40 years. When I was in college, I met a young man who was smart and funny. We each had difficult childhoods and were lonely. Our loneliness drew us together, and ultimately we fell in love and married. I was too immature and confused and should not have married, but for all intents and purposes, we were happy. He was a good person and treated me well.

We were married for a little over two years when I decided that I did not want to be married anymore. I really blindsided him, literally walking into our apartment one day and saying that I wanted to leave him. He was surprised and hurt but did not pressure me to stay. I told him it might not be permanent, and we stayed friends for a while, and it was during this period that, I realize in retrospect, I treated him especially badly.

For a long time I have felt that I would like to apologize. He didn’t deserve the pain that I caused him. The breakup was not due to anything he did or didn’t do. It was all me. Because he has a public presence, I know how to reach him, but I am concerned that an apology after all these years would not be appropriate. It might cause him more pain, and I certainly don’t want that.

Is an apology always the ethical choice? Given that I have no contact with anyone from that period in my life, I have no way of knowing how he might feel about hearing from me. Name Withheld

To which Appiah says no. Apology is designed to repair a relationship. You take responsibility for a fault in order to restore order. Obviously, apology requires a degree of self-abnegation and might even require a period of withdrawal… but the goal and purpose is to neutralize the effects of bad behavior. And to re-establish a relationship.

Thus, Appiah concludes, apologizing five decades after the fact will accomplish nothing. It will merely revive the bad feelings surrounding the initial divorce. She is not interested in re-establishing a relationship with someone who undoubtedly does not want to be reminded of his time with her. It will, Appiah says, cause more harm than good. 

He writes:

Apologies are centrally about repairing relationships. You may think it’s very unlikely that this man will want to re-establish the relationship, and if that’s so, the only serious effect of the apology will be to cause him whatever distress might come from revisiting a painful episode or whatever relief might come from your “it’s not you, it’s me” assurances. Neither the fact that, in some sense, you owe him an apology nor the fact that apologizing might make you feel better settles the matter of what you should do. In short, the answer to your question is: No, apology isn’t always the ethical choice. When an apology from the remote past would simply unearth anguished memories, the right choice may be reticence.

I would only add that the man she wronged now has a public presence. Is she looking to cash in on his fame? Is she looking to publicize an incident that will increase her own public presence?

Whatever her motivations, a severely late apology does not accomplish anything. It is more than refreshing to see a columnist recommend silence. It is better yet to see him telling a woman to keep her feelings to herself. If she wants to marinate in her own shame, she can. Nothing will be gained by sharing.  Hats off to Appiah for offering a thoughtful and correct response. In the world of advice columns it does not happen all that often.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Anti-Semitism Rising on the Left

Once upon a time anti-Semitism was confined to the right wing. In the minds of many liberals it still is. Unfortunately, such liberals are living in a time warp. They fail to see the resurgence of anti-Semitism in the Democratic Party and the black community.

What does it mean? The deeper psychological meaning is that when cultures fail they sometimes seek scapegoats. Since the Obama presidency did little to improve the lives of black Americans, some leaders of the black community have chosen to blame it on the Jews. Ignore the fact that Jewish voters strongly supported Obama. When you need a scapegoat, go after the Jews.

Victor Davis Hanson tracks its advent to the time of the Vietnam counterculture, where radical leftists began to see solidarity with Palestinian terrorists. The latter were considered part of the vanguard of the revolution against Western capitalism and imperialism and colonialism:

The new form of the old bias grew most rapidly on the 1960s campus and was fueled by a number of leftist catalysts. The novel romance of the Palestinians and corresponding demonization of Israel, especially after the 1967 Six-Day War, gradually allowed former Jew-hatred to be cloaked by new rabid and often unhinged opposition to Israel. In particular, these anti-Semites fixated on Israel’s misdemeanors and exaggerated them while excusing and downplaying the felonies of abhorrent and rogue nations.

Indeed, evidence of the new anti-Semitism was that the Left was neutral, and even favorable, to racist, authoritarian, deadly regimes of the then Third World while singling out democratic Israel for supposed humanitarian crimes. By the late 1970s, Israelis and often by extension Jews in general were demagogued by the Left as Western white oppressors. Israel’s supposed victims were romanticized abroad as exploited Middle Easterners. And by extension, Jews were similarly exploiting minorities at home….

The new anti-Semitism that grew up in the 1960s was certainly in part legitimized by the rise of overt African-American bigotry against Jews (and coupled by a romantic affinity for Islam). It was further nursed on old stereotypes of cold and callous Jewish ghetto storeowners (e.g., “The Pawnbroker” character), and expressed boldly in the assumption that black Americans were exempt from charges of bias and hatred.

Here Hanson makes a crucial point. As a victim group, blacks were not held to the same standards. They were exempted from charges of bigotry. If you were black you could not be a bigot.

This allowed notable bigots like Tamika Mallory and Linda Sarsour to be lionized as leaders of the Women’s March. Among positive developments, we have lately seen that their flagrant anti-Semitism has cost the Women's March the support of groups like the DNC and the NAACP.

Anyway, leaders of the black community have long trafficked in anti-Semitism:

James Baldwin (“Negroes are anti-Semitic because they’re anti-white”), Louis Farrakhan (“When they talk about Farrakhan, call me a hater, you know what they do, call me an anti-Semite. Stop it. I am anti-termite. The Jews don’t like Farrakhan, so they call me Hitler. Well, that’s a great name. Hitler was a very great man”), Jesse Jackson (“Hymietown”), Al Sharpton (“If the Jews want to get it on, tell them to pin their yarmulkes back and come over to my house”), and the Reverend Jeremiah Wright (“The Jews ain’t gonna let him [Obama] talk to me”).

Note that Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton both ran as Democratic candidates for president. Sharpton officially visited the Obama White House more than 100 times, and Wright was the Obamas’ longtime personal pastor who officiated at the couple’s wedding and the baptism of their daughters and inspired the title of Obama’s second book.

We note that the election of Wright’s protégé, Barack Obama to the presidency legitimized anti-Semitism. If two decades at the feet of Wright did not register among American voters, they had clearly chosen to ignore blatant anti-Semitism. Some people imagine that Obama discarded twenty years of indoctrination with a twenty-minute speech and that he had been absent when Wright indulged in hate speech. Anyone who believes such a lie should be called out for flagrant stupidity.

Those who are still fighting the Revolution against capitalism have naturally been drawn toward Jew hatred. Jews are too successful to count as victims. They enjoy white privilege:

But the new, new anti-Semitism has added a number of subtler twists, namely that Jews are part of the old guard whose anachronistic standards of privilege block the emerging new constituency of woke Muslims, blacks, Latinos, and feminists.

And, Hanson astutely notes, the legitimization of visceral and irrational hatred of Trump has made it safe to be anti-Semitic:

Likewise, the generic invective against Trump — perhaps the most pro-Israel and pro-Jewish president of the modern era — as an anti-Semite and racist provides additional cover. Hating the supposedly Jew-hating Trump implies that you are not a Jew-hater yourself.

And also:

The new, new anti-Semites do not see themselves as giving new life to an ancient pathological hatred; they’re only voicing claims of the victims themselves against their supposed oppressors. The new, new anti-Semites’ venom is contextualized as an “intersectional” defense from the hip, the young, and the woke against a Jewish component of privileged white establishmentarians — which explains why the bigoted are so surprised that anyone would be offended by their slurs.

In a more subtle form, such anti-Semitism and hatred of Israel has infected the pages of the New York Times. Caroline Glick points out some of the more flagrant instances, beginning with the Times acting as the propaganda arm of Hezbollah:

Last month, the paper published a paean to Hezbollah, Iran’s Lebanese terror army, which controls Lebanon and remains the most powerful and dangerous terror organization in the world.

In an article ostensibly about Christmas celebrations in Beirut, the paper singled out Hezbollah for praise for its permissive stance on observing the Christian holy day.

Noting wistfully that “because of financial constraints,” the terror group ditched its past practice of dispatching a Santa to give out gifts in Christian neighborhoods, the Times lauded Hezbollah, which seeks the annihilation of world Jewry and has seeded terror cells across the globe, because it sent representatives to a Christmas concert sponsored by Iran.

The presence of Lebanese terror operatives at the festival, sponsored by their Iranian state sponsor, the Times cooed, “demonstrate Hezbollah’s inclusivity as a major political and military force in Lebanese society and … highlight its political alliances with Christian parties.”

It was not just a one-off incident. Glick continues to denounce the paper for promoting anti-Semitism:

What may be worse is the Times’ campaign to effectively disenfranchise American Jews. The paper undertakes this campaign by using its pages to legitimize antisemitism emanating from the left, delegitimize friends of Jews on the political right, and shame American Jews who stubbornly refuse to abandon Israel, or turn their back on Israel’s friends. These American Jews also impertinently notice the galloping Jew hatred on the political left.

This move by the Times is more dangerous because it is more difficult to criticize. It is easy to spot apologetics for terrorism. It is harder, and more controversial, to call the Times out for manipulating American Jews in the service of left-wing antisemites.

The Times’ influence operation against American Jews and American Jewish supporters of Israel is being carried out – conveniently enough — by its Jewish columnists. These writers run the gamut from far-leftists to neo-liberal former conservatives in the Never Trump camp.

Indeed. Glick calls them out for their anti-Israel bias. She begins with Michelle Goldberg, whose useful idiocy I have had occasion to highlight:

Far-left Times columnist Michele Goldberg has a prolific record of anti-Israel writing. So it wasn’t much of a surprise when, on December 8, she published an article arguing that it isn’t antisemitic to reject the Jewish people’s right to self-determination and political freedom in their homeland.

Goldberg insisted that the Jewish people’s right to self-determination is contingent on Israel’s satisfaction of the Palestinians’ demands and its appeasement of the left’s ever-expanding list of grievances. Israel is guilty of a raft of sins, she alleged — from failing to give the Palestinians a state (despite the fact that the Palestinians have rejected every offer of statehood Israel has put forward); to standing with right-wing European governments – which stand with Israel; to supporting President Donald Trump – who supports Israel; to cultivating good relations with Saudi Arabia – which is supposed to be the point of peace processes Goldberg and her comrades supposedly want to advance.

And then there is Bret Stephens, formerly editor if the Jerusalem Post. Stephens has often taken pro-Israeli positions. Now that he has joined the Times, he has dug in as a Never Trumper:. Stephens has argued that Trump's pro-Israeli stance is compromised by his failure to kowtow to Western European anti-Israeli elites.

Now a vocal member of the Never Trump clique, Stephens, who has abandoned several of his formerly held positions to advocate against the president, published an intellectually dubious article on December 26 titled “Donald Trump is bad for Israel.”

In it, Stephens insisted that all of Trump’s pro-Israel policies are basically meaningless. Moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem; scrapping the Obama administration’s nuclear deal with Iran; reinstating crippling economic sanctions on the Iranian regime; defunding the Palestinian Authority and UN agencies devoted to the perpetuation of Palestinian suffering and hatred for Israel — these are all meaningless gestures, by Stephens’s telling.

And whatever marginally positive effect these policies may have had on Israel’s international position pales in comparison to the damage Trump has allegedlycaused Israel through his failure to support what Stephens refers to as “the liberal international order against totalitarian states,” and his preference for “a purely transactional foreign policy based on the needs of the moment or the whims of the president.”

Stephens’s apparent purpose in publishing his column was to shame Jews who support Trump because of his friendship and support for Israel.

Finally, there is Jonathan Weisman, the Times’ deputy Washington editor, who wrote a news analysis explaining that Israeli and American Jews were about to break up. One might ask whose interest that would serve, but that would not be polite:

On January 4, the Times’ deputy Washington editor Jonathan Weisman published an essay titled, “American Jews and Israeli Jews are headed for a messy breakup.”

Although presented as a news analysis, Weisman’s article was really a threat against Israeli Jews and the American Jews who support them, and a diatribe against Judaism as it has been practiced for thousands of years.

Weisman first received national attention in September 2015 when he published a news analysis of lawmakers who opposed Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran. Weisman inserted a table in the analysis that highlighted the names of Jewish lawmakers who opposed the deal in yellow. He specifically categorized them as Jews. Also highlighted in yellow was the percentage of Jews residing in states and Congressional districts of lawmakers who opposed the nuclear deal.
Glick explains:

Following the 2016 presidential election, Weisman wrote a book which purported to be about anti-Semitism titled, (((Semitism))): Being Jewish in America in the Age of Trump.

Weisman did three things in his book. He used the presence of antisemitism on the right as a means to castigate the entire Republican party and conservative movement as antisemitic. He ignored and dismissed antisemitism on the Left. And finally, Weisman attacked Judaism, Jews who observe Judaism, and Jews who support Israel.

Weisman accused pro-Israel American Jews of disloyalty to America, arguing, “The American Jewish obsession with Israel has taken our eyes off not only the politics of our own country, the growing gulf between rich and poor, and the rising tide of nationalism but also our own grounding in faith.”

Weisman’s January 4 article in the Times was an amplification of the arguments he made in his book. Again he ignored left wing anti-Semitism. He regurgitated Goldberg’s allegations of Israeli moral infirmity. He defended Tlaib and Omar and their hatred for Israel. And thne, Weisman insisted that American Jewry should forget its ties to Jewish tradition and to the Jewish people and instead embrace an identity based entirely on leftist ideology and propaganda.

In his words, “American Jewry has been going its own way for 150 years, a drift that has created something of a new religion, or at least a new branch of one of the world’s most ancient faiths.”

Apparently, Weisman fears that American Jews will be tempted to join the Republican Party. He fears that they might not be willing to ignore the growing anti-Semitism in the Democratic Party. And he fears that they might understand that Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran was in the worst interests of Israel and America.

We cannot have that.

Child Marriage in Germany

Say what? In Germany, where political power has been in female hands, lo and behold, a court has recently ruled that child marriage is copacetic, if it is performed according to Sharia Law. Women’s liberation for me, but not for thee.

You’ve come a long way baby!

Jay Greenberg has the story on Neonettle: 

The German Federal Court has ruled that child marriages will be legal in Germany, provided they are carried out "legally" under Sharia Law.

The bombshell new ruling could have implications on the way child marriages, conducted legally under laws from overseas, are treated in the country.

Despite a new law in 2017 to raise the legal age for marriage to 18 in Germany, this latest verdict will mean the age limit will only apply to those who "follow" German law.

The court decreed that all future cases of child marriage must be examined on an individual basis to determine whether they were performed under international or religious laws, rather than have a blanket ban on adults marrying children in the country.

The case involved a 21 year old Syrian man who married a 14 year old girl. Did she consent? Are you kidding? Apparently, consent is for thee but not for her. Since the marriage was performed in Syria, it had been disallowed by Germany. So said the German law. Now the Federal Supreme Court has ruled that the marriage can be allowed because it was performed according to Sharia law, and that all future cases should be decided on a case by case basis.

If Sharia law permits wife beating and honor killings, will these now be allowed in multicultural Germany?

Oppression of women by any other name….

The ruling comes from a controversial case involving a Syrian man who was separated from his underage "wife" when he arrived with her in Germany as asylum seekers in August 2015.

The marriage was declared legal in Germany by the court due to the fact that the man married the child under Sharia Law in his home country.

According to Breitbart, the pair, cousins, were married in February 2015 while the man was aged 21 and the girl aged only 14 in a marriage procedure that was done under sharia legally in Syria.

The marriage was considered invalid by German authorities, however, where the marriage age was 16 at the time.

After his “wife” had been taken into separate care due to her status as a minor, the Syrian man complained to German courts which initially granted him weekend access to her with a district court claiming the marriage had not been forced.

The case was then sent up to the Federal Supreme Court which has now ruled that the marriage between the pair should be examined on the basis of its legal status in Syria.

Thanks to Angela Merkel’s open arms policy, the flood of Muslim migrants has brought with it some aberrant cultural practices… among them child marriage. For the uninitiated it's called multiculturalism:

Germany has seen a huge surge in child marriage cases in recent years

In Germany, protection of marriage and family are enshrined in the Basic Law, as well as the principle of equal treatment, and both could be violated under the ban on child marriages.

Since the height of the migrant crisis in 2015, Germany has seen a huge surge in the number of child marriage cases with at least 1,000 cases being known as far back as 2016.

Germany passed a law to raise the marriage age to 18 last year to combat child marriages but the new ruling could be a blow to the legislation.

Funny thing, the German government passed a law banning child marriage. Now, however, a court has overturned the law. Sound familiar?

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Everyone Knows She Failed

Here’s a strange letter that reflects a strange attitude. The letter writer, who I assume to be female, has done a bad job in a training program. She disappointed herself and disappointed colleagues and supervisors. She now awaits a ritual graduation where management will offer a dollop of praise to each of the trainees. Fair enough. But, she dreads this ritual because she believes that their praise of her will be dishonest, and that everyone knows it. Or does she dread it because she fears that they might be honest?

After all, in a world where we are told that honesty is a transcendent value, she is trapped between thinking that people are lying about her in order to spare her feelings or are telling the truth and making her look like a pathetic failure.

So, she writes to Washington Post advice columnist, Carolyn Hax:

I am finishing a training program and the ritual is a gathering of the senior people standing up to say (presumably nice) things about each of the departing trainees. I’ve had a rocky year and my close supervisors and I know it’s well short of my potential and we’re all kind of disappointed in me. So it sounds just excruciating to go to this “graduation” thing and sit through someone trying to publicly praise me for show. Is there a graceful way to get out of going to something like this?

Dreading “Graduation”

At the risk of sounding repetitious, I would point out that we know next-to-nothing about this situation. We know that DG is ashamed of her poor performance. We do not know why. We do not know where she was working, with whom she was working, what kind of job she had, what tasks she failed at. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. We only know that she feels shame.

And that she wants to run away, to hide her face. Apparently, when people feel shame, in the current cultural historical juncture, they ignore all specific details and realities… in order to make it more difficult for anyone to help them regain their bearings.

But then, DG seems most bothered by the fact that she will be praised at a gathering of senior management. In truth, she does not know what they are going to say. She does not know how they will say it. She is seriously torqued about receiving unearned praise. And yet,  things are never quite that black and white. She might have contributed effectively to one project while failing at several others. It might be that management will praise her for the good work she did, while graciously overlooking the bad.

Would she prefer openness and honesty? Would she prefer that management call her out for incompetence? It does not and should not happen. And yet, why would she be ashamed to hear a compliment she does not believe she deserves? Could it be because she will know that everyone is thinking that they are just doing it for show, and thus, that it redoubles her shame? It might also happen that her supervisors will find some saving grace, some area of competence and will point it out... thus changing everyone's picture of her as a failure.

As I said, she is confused. Thus, her request is confusing. Her dread amounts to cowardice. As for what she should do, she ought obviously to sit through the presentations and accept whatever praise her bosses are capable of offering. Gracefully. In nearly all cases, managers will be tactful and considerate. They are not in the business of humiliating trainees.

Of course, her fellow trainees might use the occasion to laugh at her, to humiliate her further. We know nothing specific about the situation, so we cannot know.

Again, we do not know whether she has been systematically humiliated by management. We do not know whether she has been made to feel like a scapegoat for failures.

In any event, Hax advises her to suck it up and to sit gracefully through the ritual. That is, to hold her head high, even to accept that she might deserve some modicum of praise for having done some one thing right. I am especially impressed by her opening line, words to live by, namely that there is almost always a graceful way out.

Hax responds:

There’s a graceful way out of just about everything.

But, I’m not sure that’s your best play. You had a rocky year, okay, you didn’t live up to your full potential. Bummer. And now ... onward. Sit through your moment of less effusive praise than you had hoped for, clap for everyone else’s turn, have a cookie and go home.

Then you become praiseworthy for something maybe you hadn’t anticipated (and certainly didn’t hope for) going in, and may ultimately serve you better: your ability to show up and hold your head high even though things didn’t break your way.

Hax believes, reasonably, that the ritual will highlight the fact that she has disappointed herself, and that the perfunctory and ritualized expression of appreciation can only make her feel worse. She has an excessively negative view of herself. We suspect that she is exaggerating, seeing the glass as a lot more than half empty.

Then again, one can only wonder why she would not take pride in whatever successes she has achieved, however limited they were. As it happened, DG feels like a failure. In truth, she might have discovered that the job was not for her. She might have discovered that she would do best to look in another direction.

The key, Hax correctly asserts, is to have a stiff upper lip, not to let them see you sweat, to hold her head up high, and, I would add, resolve to do better the next time. To do much better the next time. As Hax sees clearly, if DG holds her head up she will command far more respect than she would have if she had hung her head in shame. Or if she had failed to attend the meeting.

We would like to know how DG can change her ways, but we know nothing about her or her job.  This tells us that she needs more grounding, that she needs to relate to objective realities and not her emotions. In other words, that she does better to direct her attention away from her feelings and toward her jobs. In short, she should overcome one of the bad habits she seems to have learned from therapy.

How Safe Is Weed?

When it comes to marijuana, we don’t know. We don’t seem to have any reliable scientific research about the effects of weed. As the nation dives headfirst into legalization of marijuana, we should know more. We don’t. All we know is that Justin Trudeau's Canada is leading the march toward legalization... and that should cause us to have some serious doubts.

Writing in The New Yorker Malcolm Gladwell aims to be judicious in his appraisal of the research. In many ways it raises as many questions as it asks. (Via Maggie’s Farm).

Gladwell sums up the results of recent research:

A few years ago, the National Academy of Medicine convened a panel of sixteen leading medical experts to analyze the scientific literature on cannabis. The report they prepared, which came out in January of 2017, runs to four hundred and sixty-eight pages. It contains no bombshells or surprises, which perhaps explains why it went largely unnoticed. It simply stated, over and over again, that a drug North Americans have become enthusiastic about remains a mystery.

And yet… a recent peer-reviewed study, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, suggests that adolescents, people whose brains have not developed fully, incur a risk when they smoke weed. Even in seemingly small quantities weed can change the structure of the adolescent brain. Of course, as Gladwell notes, these studies do not often factor in the different kinds of weed and the different concentrations of certain chemical compounds. It's devilishly difficult to do a scientific study when the substances being tested are anything but identical.

The Daily Mail has the story:

Just one or two joints is enough to change the structure of a teenager's brain, scientists have warned.

And the drug could cause changes affecting how likely they are to suffer from anxiety or panic, according to a study.

Researchers found 14-year-old girls and boys exposed to THC – the psychoactive chemical in cannabis – had a greater volume of grey matter in their brains.    

This means the tissue in certain areas is thicker, and it was found to be in the same areas as the receptors which marijuana affects.

Experts said thickening of brain tissue is the opposite of what usually happens during puberty, when teenagers' brain matter gets thinner and more refined.

And also:

Researchers from the University of Vermont scanned the brains of teenagers from England, Ireland, France and Germany to study marijuana's effects. 

They found differences in the volume of grey matter in the amygdala and the hippocampus.

These sections are involved with emotions, fear, memory development and spatial skills – changes to them suggests smoking cannabis could affect these faculties. 
Scientists said theirs is the first evidence to suggest structural brain changes and cognitive effects of just one or two uses of cannabis in young teenagers.

And it suggests as teenagers brains are still developing, they may be particularly vulnerable to the effects of THC.

In today’s cultural climate we all seem to recognize that something is wrong with the adolescent brain. We tend, as a rule, to blame it on social media and hand-held gadgets. And yet, if a third of 10th graders have tried weed, we should also pay some attention to its influence on the developing brain. And we ought perhaps to be more judicious  before pronouncing it perfectly safe. And before encouraging its use:

Dr Orr concluded: 'Almost 35 per cent of American 10th graders have reported using cannabis and existing research suggests that initiation of cannabis use in adolescence is associated with long-term neurocognitive effects.

'We understand very little about the earliest effects of cannabis use, however, as most research is conducted in adults with a heavy pattern of lifetime use.

'This study presents evidence suggesting structural brain and cognitive effects of just one or two instances of cannabis use in adolescence.'  

Grooming Gangs in Finland

It’s not just Once-Great Britain. Migrant grooming gangs have also been plying their trade in Finland.  For reasons that do not defy reason the Daily Mail report does not identify the ethnicity of the gang leaders. For the record, the victimized girls were between 10 and 15.

The Daily Mail reports:

The President of Finland has expressed his 'shock and disgust' after police identified more suspects in connection with a foreign grooming gang targeting children in a town in the north of the country.

Police suspect 16 foreign-born men of rape or other sexual abuses of girls aged between ten and 15 in Oulu, northern Finland, adding another four men to the investigation today.

In addition, police in the capital Helsinki said on Sunday they had arrested three foreign-born men on similar charges.

As of now, we do not know how long the local authorities were aware of these activities. And we do not know what, if anything, they did about it. We do recall that the police in Once-Great Britain, upon learning that grooming gangs were operating in their jurisdictions, at first did nothing… lest they be accused of being racists. Lately, the public outrage has forced them to prosecute and convict the perpetrators.

We await further details about the situation in Finland. 

Monday, January 14, 2019

Falling in Love with a Toxic Male

Hang on to your hat. Is it possible that, for one and only one time, the poets are wrong? Poets have long since believed that true love is a species of madness. It’s why we say that someone falls madly in love. To be clear, it does not mean that you are naturally more likely to get mad at someone you love, but still.

Anyway, scientific research has thrown this into doubt. By the latest science, true love is more like a virus than like insanity. What would we do without science?

I will leave aside for now the intriguing speculation that madness is really a virus.

How did scientists make this soul-shattering discovery? Why, they measured the interferon levels of women who had just fallen in love. And they discovered that interferon, whose primary function is to fight viral infections, increases when a woman first falls in love. I do not know whether this has any relationship to an increase in oxytocin, so we await that research.

For the record, the researchers have not studied the interferon levels of male subjects. Of course, that would assume that men fall in love just as women do. It seems like an overly optimistic assessment of the biochemical makeup of toxic human beings. And the study does not say, to my knowledge whether the women whose interferon levels increase, fell in love with male or female subjects. If their beloved was male, this would prove that men really are toxic, not in the sense of being poison, but in the sense of being viral.

Will wonders never cease?

Anyway, the Daily Mail has this compelling story:

When women fall in love, they experience physiological changes similar to those seen in people fighting a virus, research shows. 

It continues:

Researchers found that new love activates genes to produce interferon, which is a protein usually released to combat viruses. 

'New romantic love is accompanied not only by psychological changes, but physiological changes as well,' scientists noted in the report, published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology. 

The report continued: 'These findings are consistent with a selective up-regulation of innate immune responses to viral infections... and provide insight into the immuno-regulatory correlates of one of the keystone experiences in human life.'

The scientists will now set out to study what happens when true love matures, when people move beyond the honeymoon stage and make a life together.For now, it appears that interferon levels diminish … perhaps because marriage cures women of their expectations about true love. Or because marriage mitigates the toxicity or virality of the male of the species.

And yes, I do know that virality is a new word. Isn’t it strange that this word bears such a close resemblance to the word: virility?

The story concludes:

Findings suggested that it may also be possible to test to see if people really are in love and whether that emotion gradually wades [sic] over a period of time. 

'Some research suggests that psychological changes associated with romantic love may be attenuated as the relationship matures,' the experts said. 

'The biological correlates of love might abate with the maturation of a longer-term more stable mate bond.'

In those cases where the flame had started to burn out, researchers found evidence of women's interferon levels decreasing.

Women Warriors in Combat

For those who claim to care about scientific facts Heather Mac Donald’s Wall Street Journal op-ed will come as something of a shock. You see, thanks to the Obama administration, the American military has decided that gender diversity trumps combat readiness. It does not matter whether female recruits can do the training. It does not matter if their presence disrupts morale. It does not matter if they are less fierce and less capable than male recruits. We must have more women in the military, because we must ply national security to the feminist will.

In truth, Mac Donald reports, the Marine Corps studied the question. The results showed clearly that placing women in infantry units was a bad idea:

In September 2015 the Marine Corps released a study comparing the performance of gender-integrated and male-only infantry units in simulated combat. The all-male teams greatly outperformed the integrated teams, whether on shooting, surmounting obstacles or evacuating casualties. Female Marines were injured at more than six times the rate of men during preliminary training—unsurprising, since men’s higher testosterone levels produce stronger bones and muscles. Even the fittest women (which the study participants were) must work at maximal physical capacity when carrying a 100-pound pack or repeatedly loading heavy shells into a cannon.

Of course, the Obama administration, led by Defense Secretary Ash Carter, ignored the study and opened all combat units to women. Naturally, he had to change the fitness standards, thus ensuring that women would not be respected as equals. But, no problem there.

Mac Donald continues:

Ignoring the Marine study, then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter opened all combat roles to women in December 2015. Rather than requiring new female combat recruits to meet the same physical standards as men, the military began crafting “gender neutral” standards in the hope that more women would qualify. Previously, women had been admitted to noncombat specialties under lower strength and endurance requirements.

If women are held to the same standards, the expected comes to pass:

Only two women have passed the Marine Corps’s fabled infantry-officer training course out of the three dozen who have tried. Most wash out in the combat endurance test, administered on day one. Participants hike miles while carrying combat loads of 80 pounds or more, climb 20-foot ropes multiple times, and scale an 8-foot barrier. The purpose of the test is to ensure that officers can hump their own equipment and still arrive at a battleground mentally and physically capable of leading troops. Most female aspirants couldn’t pass the test, so the Marines changed it from a pass/fail requirement to an unscored exercise with no bearing on the candidate’s ultimate evaluation. The weapons-company hike during the IOC is now “gender neutral,” meaning that officers can hand their pack to a buddy if they get tired, rather than carrying it for the course’s full 10 miles.

Moreover, when women become part of these units, morale suffers. Who would have guessed:

Putting young, hormonally charged men and women into stressful close quarters for extended periods guarantees sexual liaisons, rivalries and breakups, all of which undermine the bonding essential to a unified fighting force.

Mac Donald continues:

A Marine commander who served in Afghanistan described to me how the arrival of an all-female team tasked with reaching out to local women affected discipline on his forward operating base. Until that point, rigorous discipline had been the norm. But when four women—three service members and a translator—arrived, the post’s atmosphere changed overnight from a “stern, businesslike place to that of an eighth-grade dance.” The officer walked into a common room one day to find the women clustered in the center. They were surrounded by eager male Marines, one of whom was doing a handstand.

None of this should have come as news:

Long before infantry integration became a feminist imperative, evidence was clear that a coed military was a sexually active one. In 1988 then-Navy Secretary Jim Webb reported that of the unmarried enlisted Navy and Air Force women stationed in Iceland, half were pregnant.

Of course, pregnancy gets you relieved of duty. Why do you imagine that these fierce and courageous women warriors are so likely to get pregnant? Is it because they are lusting for battle?

Given the choice between victory and diversity, the American military is now wedded to diversity. Mac Donald concludes:

… war isn’t about promoting equality. Its objective is to break the enemy’s will through precise lethal engagement, with the lowest possible loss of American life. The claim that female combat soldiers will perform as lethally as men over an extended deployment entails a denial of biological reality as great as the one underlying the transgender crusade.

It’s not just about promoting equality. It’s about pretending that equality exists when it doesn’t.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

After Merkel, the Deluge

Whatever George Will is drinking, I do not recommend it.

A few days ago Will was drooling over the greatness of Angela Merkel. You know, the woman who just about destroyed her country be allowing over a million Muslim migrants free entry. By now the nation has managed to inure itself to the ensuing crime wave, largely by refusing to report migrant criminals as migrants.

Will, who was once a conservative, is drooling over the fact that Merkel is the closest thing to a European embodiment of Barack Obama. Actually, they are both taking cues from German philosopher Immanuel Kant… but don’t let that deter you.

Merkel is the high priestess of open borders, the goddess of cosmopolitanism. She is going to speak at the Harvard commencement this year. Will believes that she has produced the best Germany since 1871. How did that turn out, George?

As it happens, France and Great Britain have been aboard the cosmopolitan train for decades now. Great Britain even chose a woman to lead it out of the European Union. How’s that working out? As for Emmanuel Macron, he is presiding over a country where homeless migrants are camped out in Paris while a yellow jacketed protest movement has driven his approval ratings into the sewer.

These countries are kissing cousins with Germany. Great Britain voted to Brexit in response to Merkel’s open arms policy. Will looks at the situation and thrills to the fact that Germany is holding together.

Sort of. Will does remark that Germany’s political parties are veering to extremes. The Alternative for Germany right wing extremists are now arrayed against the radical leftist Green Party. The fact that Germany is becoming politically polarized does not seem to faze Will. It should. He sloughs off the problem, suggesting that he is so enamored of Merkel and Obama that he is blind to reality.

Will seems to share Germany’s enchantment with Barack Obama and its revulsion over Donald Trump. He writes:

No European nation was as enchanted as Germany was by Barack Obama's studied elegance and none is more repelled by Donald Trump's visceral vulgarity. This especially matters at this moment when events are underscoring Germany's necessary dependence for security on the United States: Germany lives in the neighborhood with two nations, Poland and Hungary, that have illiberal populist regimes. And not far over the horizon Vladimir Putin is destabilizing and dismembering Europe's geographically largest nation, Ukraine. Germany's dependence was inadvertently highlighted by Macron's delusional statement that there must be a "true European army" to "protect ourselves with respect to China, Russia and even the United States."

Of course, Germany is working hard to maintain the Obama Iran Nuclear Deal… because what good is an ally if it does not try to undermine your foreign policy. And what good is Germany if it supports the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism, with an emphasis on terrorism that seeks to kill Jews and Americans. Does Will seriously believe that the Iran Nuclear Deal was a triumph of diplomacy, rather than a cowardly sellout?

But, Will’s is not the whole story. Ed Driscoll at Instapundit wisely juxtaposes the following story, reported by the Daily Mail, with Will’s mental drool. As it happens, the Germany economy is in trouble. Reality bites.

Industrial production is collapsing and the country is about to enter a recession.

The Daily Mail has the story—one that most news outlets have scrupulously ignored:

Germany is on the brink of a recession after Europe's financial powerhouse faces a collapse in industrial production.

The German economy stunned traders this week when it plummeted almost out of nowhere.

Industrial production fell to -1.9 percent in November - a year-on-year low of -4.6 percent - which has fuelled uncertainty in the world's fourth largest economy.

A recession in Germany could have a devastating impact on the fragile Greek and Italian economies.

'Yesterday's manufacturing data in Germany provided alarming evidence of a much more severe slowdown in the second half of last year than economists had initially expected.' Claus Vistesen of Pantheon Macreconomics told Business Insider.

He said the economy had been rocked by a 'perfect storm across all sectors.'

The collapse was so swift that Vitesen initially told his clients he did not believe the data was accurate.

Stefan Schilbe of HSBC told Business Insider that a recession was now likely, as Germany faces its lowest industrial production since 2008.

In recent days, evidence has been piling up that the eurozone recovery lost more momentum than anticipated at the end of 2018, particularly in Germany. 

The paper invites us to assess the potential consequences of Brexit and of Macron’s problems in France. It warns us not to be too optimistic about Germany. If one were of a contrarian mindset one would conclude that the Will column is a harbinger of an ugly tomorrow for Germany. Merkel has already relinquished her role as head of the Christian Democrat Union. One suspects that she is getting out while she can… the better to blame the ensuing deluge on her successor.

Remember the line: après moi le déluge.