March 26, 2017

ROSS DOUTHAT: Break Up The Liberal City. “Yes, for many of their inhabitants, particularly the young and the wealthy, our liberal cities are pleasant places in which to work and play. But if they are diverse in certain ways they are segregated in others, from ‘whiteopias’ like Portland to balkanized cities like D.C. or Chicago. If they are dynamic, they are also so rich — and so rigidly zoned — that the middle class can’t afford to live there and fewer and fewer kids are born inside their gates. If they are fast-growing it’s often a growth intertwined with subsidies and ‘too big to fail’ protection; if they are innovation capitals it’s a form of innovation that generates fewer jobs than past technological advance. If they produce some intellectual ferment they have also cloistered our liberal intelligentsia and actually weakened liberalism politically by concentrating its votes.”

Perhaps another reason to revisit Baker v. Carr.

BLOG SWEEPS WEEK UPDATE: Emily Ratajkowski Wants To Show You How To Take A Swimsuit Selfie.

SO USING YOUR PHONE HELPS BOOST YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM? iPhones and other every day items that are dirtier than a toilet.

MALAYSIAN POLICE REPORTEDLY ENTER NORTH KOREAN EMBASSY: The investigation of Kim Jong Nam’s assassination continues.

The Malaysian police on Sunday entered the North Korean Embassy in Kuala Lumpur in connection with last month’s murder of Kim Jong Nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korea leader Kim Jong Un, according to a Malaysian Chinese-language newspaper.

Four police officers, including the investigating officer of the murder, the Selangor state police chief and Selangor prosecution team officer, entered the embassy in the morning and were there for two and a half hours, China Press said, adding they were granted permission by the embassy to enter.

The entry indicates that a preliminary agreement may have been reached on processing the body of Kim Jong Nam, and on the recording of statements of three suspected accomplices in the murder believed to be hiding in the embassy, according to the report.

One of the three is Hyon Kwang Song, 44, the second secretary of the embassy.

Stay tuned.

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MIXED NEWS ON STEM CELLS: Stem Cells Show Mixed Results for Impotence After Prostate Surgery. “Danish researchers trying to find a way to help men badly injured by prostate cancer surgery say they got mixed results with an experimental new approach: injecting them with stem cells. Only a few of the men were helped, and those men were able to have sex after the treatment, the researchers told a meeting of urologists. “

FUNDAMENTALLY TRANSFORMED: “There were between 80,000 and 120,000 Jews in Egypt up until the mid-20th century…Today, the Jews of Egypt are estimated to number 18, with 12 of them in the coastal city of Alexandria.”

THE MSM HAS A FEEVAAH, AND THAT MEANS MORE “WHAT ARE THE OBAMAS ARE UP TO THESE DAYS?” STORIES. Michael Walsh: Not Quite Forgotten, Definitely Not Gone.

MY USA TODAY COLUMN: Colossal GOP failure and not just on health: Why aren’t bills on infrastructure, tax reform and free speech lined up like planes on a runway? “It’s not like the need to do something about Obamacare was a surprise.”

SCREENING FOR PROSTATE CANCER VIA MRI. “MRI screening might greatly reduce overdiagnosis and overtreatment of prostate cancer in older men, a preliminary study suggests. Compared to the current screening method, MRI can reduce overdiagnosis of prostate cancer by 50 percent, and unnecessary biopsies by 70 percent in men over 70, Dutch researchers reported Saturday at a conference in England.”

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HOW PAKISTAN PLANS TO FIGHT A NUCLEAR WAR: The article discusses Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal and how it might be used to fight a nuclear war. The article suggests Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal exists to deter India. What if deterrence fails? The article doesn’t address how Pakistan would survive a nuclear war.

Experts believe Pakistan’s nuclear stockpile is steadily growing. In 1998, the stockpile was estimated at five to twenty-five devices, depending on how much enriched uranium each bomb required. Today Pakistan is estimated to have an arsenal of 110 to 130 nuclear bombs. In 2015 the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Stimson Center estimated Pakistan’s bomb-making capability at twenty devices annually, which on top of the existing stockpile meant Pakistan could quickly become the third-largest nuclear power in the world. Other observers, however, believe Pakistan can only develop another forty to fifty warheads in the near future.

Pakistani nuclear weapons are under control of the military’s Strategic Plans Division, and are primarily stored in Punjab Province, far from the northwest frontier and the Taliban. Ten thousand Pakistani troops and intelligence personnel from the SPD guard the weapons. Pakistan claims that the weapons are only armed by the appropriate code at the last moment, preventing a “rogue nuke” scenario.

Pakistani nuclear doctrine appears to be to deter what it considers an economically, politically and militarily stronger India. The nuclear standoff is exacerbated by the traditional animosity between the two countries, the several wars the two countries have fought, and events such as the 2008 terrorist attack on Mumbai, which were directed by Pakistan. Unlike neighboring India and China, Pakistan does not have a “no first use” doctrine, and reserves the right to use nuclear weapons, particularly low-yield tactical nuclear weapons, to offset India’s advantage in conventional forces.

RELATED: See the January 24, 2017 and January 9, 2017 updates in this StrategyPage post.

NEWS YOU CAN USE: Protect yourself against Zika and Lyme disease this summer. If only there were some way to kill dangerous insects in large numbers.

SPACE: Juno spacecraft set for fifth Jupiter flyby. “Juno spacecraft will make its fifth flyby over Jupiter’s mysterious cloud tops on Monday, March 27, at 1:52 a.m. PDT (4:52 a.m. EDT, 8:52 UTC). At the time of closest approach (called perijove), Juno will be about 2,700 miles (4,400 kilometers) above the planet’s cloud tops, traveling at a speed of about 129,000 miles per hour (57.8 kilometers per second) relative to the gas-giant planet. All of Juno’s eight science instruments will be on and collecting data during the flyby.”

UNIVERSITY OF OREGON: Clothes that Fit Now a “Cis Privilege.” “According to articles the University of Oregon suggests students should read, clothes that fit are an example of ‘cis privilege’ and, to ‘dismantle’ whiteness and ‘cis privilege,’ capitalism should be ‘disrupted.'”

I THOUGHT THE SCIENCE WAS SETTLED: An Unexpected New Lung Function Has Been Found – They Make Blood. “In experiments involving mice, the team found that they produce more than 10 million platelets (tiny blood cells) per hour, equating to the majority of platelets in the animals’ circulation. This goes against the decades-long assumption that bone marrow produces all of our blood components. Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco also discovered a previously unknown pool of blood stem cells that makes this happen inside the lung tissue – cells that were incorrectly assumed to mainly reside in bone marrow.”

BLOG SWEEPS WEEK: This Dog Really Wanted His Owner’s Bikini Top.

DISPATCHES FROM THE HOUSE OF STEPHANOPOULOS. ABC Targets Trump Supporters After Weekend Rallies Turn Violent:

“In Huntington Beach, California a protester allegedly pepper-sprayed one of the organizers,” [ABC’s David Wright] said sounding doubtful, “Witnesses say a group of flag-waving Trump supporters tackled him and proceeded to beat him up.”

For Wright, it may only have “allegedly” happened, but according to Reuters, it did occur. “Four counter-protesters were arrested, three for illegal use of pepper spray and one for assault and battery, Kevin Pearsall, a spokesman for the California State Parks Police said on Saturday evening,” they reported on Sunday.

Read the whole thing. Just think of ABC News as Democrat operatives with bylines, and it all makes sense.

YOU DON’T SAY: A Replica Of The Successful 2015 Obamacare Repeal Is Languishing In Committee.

FROM RAND PAUL, a victory lap.

AS LONG AS HE HOLDS ON TO THEM, HE’S GOOD: Forget the approval ratings. Trump’s voters still love him.

IN THE MAIL: From Kenneth Bennight, The Truth Shall Make You Dead: A Nacho Perez Detective Story.

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AND ANOTHER ONE DOWN: US drone strike kills man behind Marriott Hotel bombing, Pentagon says.

Qari Yasin was killed in a drone strike in Paktika Province on March 19, the Pentagon said late Saturday.

The September 2008 suicide truck bombing at the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad killed more than 50 people, including two US service members. It sparked a fire that charred the hotel, which is near the diplomatic section of Islamabad.

Yasin is responsible for other carnage, including an attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team, which was visiting Lahore, Pakistan, in March 2009. In that incident, gunmen sprayed the team’s tour bus with bullets as it neared the stadium, killing eight people — six police officers and two civilians — and leaving several visiting players wounded.

Faster, please.

ROGER SIMON: We Need an Independent Investigation of the Trump Leaks Mystery Now.

Who unmasked Michael Flynn and — so it seems now — others and why did he, she or they do it? Who later leaked (selectively) President Trump’s conversations with the leaders of Australia and Mexico? Is this the same person or are there several?

More importantly, who is watching the watchers and why was their work — this raw data that supposedly is never seen except on the most extreme “need to know” basis — apparently so widely distributed? Who inspired this? And who ordered what is known as a “tasking” to enable this to happen in the first place?

These questions are as or more important than healthcare, immigration, taxes or even how long ISIS will survive because they speak to the very nature of our society and the values for which we stand. Are we still a democratic republic or have we drifted so far into a high-tech Orwellian nightmare that we will never emerge from it again?

Read the whole thing.

BLACK BLOC TYPES ATTACK A TRUMP RALLY, things go badly for them. “The protesters wore masks and some were tackled, punched and kicked. One man who was beaten ended up jumping over a fence and running toward officers in an effort to get away from the crowd. One protester, who wore his mask on camera, said it was a dangerous situation for them to be in.”

It started when they pepper-sprayed the Trump supporters. That’s a tactic they’ve used before, but like most of the Black Bloc stuff, it’s a tactic designed for people who won’t fight back. I predict such people will become scarcer. Lots of photos here.

A supporter of President Donald Trump, center, clashes with an anti-Trump protester, bottom center, in Huntington Beach, Calif., on Saturday, March 25, 2017. Violence erupted when a march of about 2,000 Trump supporters at Bolsa Chica State Beach reached a group of about 30 counter-protesters, some of whom began spraying pepper spray, said Capt. Kevin Pearsall of the California State Parks Police. (AP photo and caption.)

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: “Yale is becoming a kind of jail which hands out professional credentials to those hardy enough to serve out their term.”

Plus: “The Chinese Cultural Revolution is now forgotten history. Yet important thing about the ‘Red Guard’ movement was how artificial it was. It was astroturf all the way. Behind the youthful Chinese faces was the aged figure of Mao Tse Tung and his political cabal. Like some malevolent spirit he projected his voice through a million gullible dummies carefully nurtured on propaganda and paranoia.”

RETURN OF GREXIT?

Everything old is new again: with bailout talks stalled, desperate Greeks are making a run on the banks in what Business Insider identifies as an eerie echo of past Greek crises. . . .

At this stage, the Greek debt crisis seems stuck in a cycle of eternal return, with Greeks and Germans alike perpetually clinging to their own comforting delusions to avoid uncomfortable truths: Greece will never be able to pay off its unsustainable debt load, and it cannot last in the Eurozone in the long term. The current chaos is just the latest manifestation of the refusal to cope with these realities, and prospects for Grexit now look more likely than they have since the summer of 2015.

The negotiators remain at loggerheads over fundamental issues: Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is battling the IMF over labor reforms and pension cuts, while the establishment in Brussels and Berlin refuses to accept the IMF’s insistence on Greek debt relief. If nothing gives, the IMF could decide not to participate in the bailout, effectively dooming it and raising the possibility that Greece would be forced out of the eurozone.

You can kick the can down the road, but not forever.

MICHAEL LEDEEN: Does Trump Have a Strategy to Win the Global War?

Read the whole thing.

FASTER, PLEASE: Molecule kills elderly cells, reduces signs of aging in mice.

MY LATEST NEW YORK OBSERVER COLUMN: Art of War meets art of the deal. Tillerson pulls a Trump card on North Korea. (bumped)

IF YOU’RE LIVING THE LIFE YOU WANT, IT’S NOT MEDIOCRE: What If All I Want Is A Mediocre Life?

NEWS YOU CAN USE: How To Thrive And Survive In A World of AI Disruption.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: “Shaming, scapegoating, and periodic ritual exorcisms are a prime feature of campus life.”

THE PERPETUAL TODDLERS DON’T LIKE CHILDREN, ANYWAY: The Left is Now Attacking Trump’s Unborn Grandchildren .

WHO’S BEEN CULTURALLY APPROPRIATING? Nike’s Problematic Relationship with the Hijab.

I ENDORSE THIS DISSENT.  DURING EARTH HOUR EVERYONE IN THE CITY SHOULD BE ABLE TO TELL WHERE I LIVE.  HECK, THEY CAN SEE MY HOUSE FROM SPACE, I’M SURE: Earth Hour: A Dissent.

HOW FLORIDA MAN HAS BREAKFAST:Florida man ate pancakes in middle of busy street, is facing charges, cops say.

QUIT YOUR BELLYACHING: This simple trick will help you hate your job less.

THE DOWNFALL OF CIVILIZATION CONTINUES: This unicorn trend has got to go.

THEY SPELL IT “INTELLECTUAL” BUT I THINK THEY MEAN DELUSIONAL:The ‘Postmodern’ Intellectual Roots of Today’s Campus Mobs. These people who never read or understood the tragedies that attempts at changing history with stories have brought about, from the various Chinese book burning frenzies, to the pseudo-mythology of Wagner, to the Cultural revolution, would consider themselves our intellectual superiors, because they know in which choir to sing and they’ve memorized every word.  This is not going to end well.

March 25, 2017

TRUE: The GOP Is Better Locally Than Nationally.

At the state level, the GOP has been remarkably effective at ushering in reform over the last seven years; at the federal level, by contrast, it has been able only to hold the line. This, of course, is partly because the GOP has only just got full control of the federal government, whereas it has been running most of the states for half a decade now.

But one can’t help but notice the difference in ambition. At the state level, Republicans have ruthlessly passed right to work legislation, even in unlikely places such as Michigan, Indiana, and Wisconsin; they have expanded charter schools; they have done yeoman’s work restoring the Second Amendment; they have cut taxes and regulation; and they have enacted as many pro-life measures as the courts have allowed. They have, in other words, lived up to their billing.

At the federal level, meanwhile, they have narrowed their intentions from the get-go.

Yes, state level GOP folks are outperforming expectations, while national ones are underperforming. Which is no small feat given how low the expectations are. . . .

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Larry Solum’s succinct and careful testimony in favor of originalism.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Documentary on Yale Reveals How Scary U.S. Campuses Have Become. “These are moves of power, not of reason.”

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LAYERS AND LAYERS OF FACT CHECKERS AND EDITORS: All 27 things wrong with today’s London Daily Mail front cover.

On the other hand: Forget it, Jake — it’s Fleet Street.

RACHEL DOLEZAL TELLS HER STORY:

Dolezal has penned a memoir in which she compares her travails to slavery and describes her harrowing childhood as a pale, blond girl growing up poor on the side of a Montana mountain.

As she toiled in the garden for her strict, Evangelical parents, she’d dream of freeing her inner blackness, Dolezal writes in “In Full Color: Finding My Place in a Black and White World.”

See, she’d read her grandmother’s National Geographic magazines. So she knew about blackness.

“I’d stir the water from the hose into the earth … and make thin, soupy mud, which I would then rub on my hands, arms, feet, and legs,” Dolezal writes.

“I would pretend to be a dark-skinned princess in the Sahara Desert or one of the Bantu women living in the Congo … imagining I was a different person living in a different place was one of the few ways … that I could escape the oppressive environment I was raised in.”

So, basically, she’s guilty of cultural appropriation.

INTERNET OUTRAGE POLICE unhappy with Christina El Moussa’s bikini pic with daughter. “It’s about the fact that she’s pretending this is about a dog while she’s broadcasting a 7 y.o.’s body all over IG when that child can’t give informed consent.”

Informed consent is a medical term. This is a swimsuit picture. Parents consent for their kids, because parents are in charge.

Welcome to the family!! @cashiethefrenchbulldog 🐶 Click link in my bio!! 👙🍩

A post shared by Christina El Moussa (@christinaelmoussa) on

WELL, THIS IS THE 21st CENTURY, YOU KNOW: This Drip-Proof Wine Bottle May Be the Greatest Scientific Breakthrough of Our Time.

BUT OF COURSE HE DID. Mayor De Blasio Connects Racist Murder to Trump, ‘Atmosphere Of Hate:’ “At some point, it would be nice if the media would notice that the left constantly uses this climate-of-hate argument to indict the right every chance it gets but denies any such climate exists when the target is a conservative or a police officer.”

Just think of the media as Democrat operatives with bylines, and you’ll understand why they never will.

YES, BUT ANYTHING MORE WOULD REQUIRE THE LEFT TO RETHINK THEIR WORLDVIEW SO….Against Jihad, a Quantum of Solace Is Not Enough.

INDIA TEST FIRES NEW MISSILE FROM ITS AIRCRAFT CARRIER: China’s drive to build a credible aircraft carrier force gets a lot of attention — and it should. India is trying to get its only carrier to work.

India’s navy announced Friday it successfully fired its first surface-to-air missile from its aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya.

The test firing, conducted in the Arabian Sea on Wednesday, was part of the Operational Readiness Inspection program and marks a major milestone in the country’s defense capabilities. The missile was fired at a live low-flying, high-speed target, officials said.

“The target was successfully engaged and destroyed,” the navy said. “The missile marks a significant milestone in providing air interception and defence capabilities, thus enhancing operational capabilities of the navy’s aircraft carrier and the fleet.”

INS Vikramaditya is the country’s sole aircraft carrier and was retrofitted with a Barak missile system. The Kiev-class vessel was built in 1987 and served the Soviet navy and was originally named Baku. It was later renamed Admiral Gorshkov under the Russian navy. The Indian navy purchased the vessel in 2004.

The UPI report is correct. The INS Viraat (an aircraft carrier) was decommissioned on March 6. The INS Vikramaditya has had a lot of problems.

SCOTT ADAMS THINKS THAT THE HEALTHCARE DEBACLE ISN’T AS BAD FOR TRUMP AS IT SEEMS: “With the failure of the Ryan healthcare bill, the illusion of Trump-is-Hitler has been fully replaced with Trump-is-incompetent meme.”

When I first saw this, I thought he was trying too hard to make lemonade when we had lemons, but no sugar. But then I saw this from a friend on Facebook: “I’ve never liked Trump, but I’ve never thought he’s a potential fascist dictator. Those who have thought otherwise might note that he can’t even get a health care reform bill through a Republican-dominated House.”

Anyway, as is his wont, Adams has made a falsifiable prediction:

Look for the new meme to dominate the news, probably through the summer. By year end, you will see a second turn, from incompetent to “Competent, but we don’t like it.”

I have been predicting this story arc for some time now. So far, we’re ahead of schedule.

In the 2D world, where everything is just the way it looks, and people are rational, Trump and Ryan failed to improve healthcare. But in the 3D world of persuasion, Trump just had one of the best days any president ever had: He got promoted from Hitler to incompetent. And that promotion effectively defused the Hitler-hallucination bomb that was engineered by the Clinton campaign.

In all seriousness, the Trump-is-Hitler illusion was the biggest problem in the country, and maybe the world. It was scaring people to the point of bad health. It made any kind of political conversation impossible. It turned neighbors and friends against each other in a way we have never before seen. It was inviting violence, political instability, and worse.

In my opinion, the Trump-is-Hitler hallucination was the biggest short-term problem facing the country. Congress just solved for it, albeit unintentionally. Watch the opposition news abandon the Trump-is-scary concept to get all over the “incompetent” theme.

So let’s see if he’s right. His track record is good.

ANOTHER ESCAPE TUNNEL FOUND BENEATH A MEXICAN PRISON: Looks like it was dug to help Los Zetas cartel gunmen.

Mexican authorities said Friday they found a long escape tunnel beneath a prison in Tamaulipas that likely took many months to dig.

Prison officials in the northern Mexican state said more than two dozen inmates escaped through the underground passageway.. Twelve of the 29 escaped prisoners have been recaptured.

One of the escapees killed a person in a carjacking attempt in the state capital, Ciudad Victoria, where officials say the Zetas drug cartel operates.

21st CENTURY RELATIONSHIPS: Women Talk About What It’s Like to Take a Grown Man’s Virginity. “It was never someone you’d look at and think, He’s a certifiable 30-year-old virgin.”

IT DEPENDS ON HOW MUCH ENHANCEMENT YOU ALLOW: Strength Records Continue to Fall, But How Much Stronger Can Humans Get?

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FASTER, PLEASE: A Norfolk doctor found a treatment for sepsis. Now he’s trying to get the ICU world to listen.

Valerie Hobbs, 53, was in the throes of sepsis – an infection coursing through her veins that was causing her blood pressure to tank, her organs to fail and her breathing to flag.

“When you have a person that young who’s going to die, you start thinking, ‘What else can we pull out of the bag?’ ” said Dr. Paul Marik, who was on duty that day in the intensive care unit of Sentara Norfolk General Hospital.

In this case, he reached for Vitamin C.

Marik, chief of pulmonary and critical care at Eastern Virginia Medical School, had recently read medical journal articles involving the vitamin, and decided to order IV infusions of it, along with hydrocortisone, a steroid, to reduce inflammation.

Then, he went home.

The next morning, Hobbs had improved so much she was removed from four different medications used to boost her blood pressure. Her kidney function was better. Her breathing eased.

Three days later, she left the ICU.

That was in January 2016. Today, Hobbs is back at her home in Norfolk.

“At first we thought it was a coincidence, that maybe the stars aligned just right and she got lucky,” Marik said.

Ten days later, another patient, a paraplegic, arrived in the ICU with sepsis, and Marik prescribed the same thing. That patient improved as well.

A third patient, a man so sick with pneumonia he was on a ventilator, also received the treatment. The results were the same.

Faster, please. But there’s a catch:

He wants there to be a comprehensive study, and he said that Stanford University has expressed some interest. But he said it will be difficult to fund because it uses drugs that have been on the market for decades: “We are curing it for $60. No one will make any money off it.”

Studies take money, and that money often comes from pharmaceutical companies.

Somebody should fund it. A friend on Facebook suggests that health insurance companies should fund it, since it could save them a bundle.

BUILDING A DEDICATED MUSIC PROJECT STUDIO CONTROL ROOM AND ISOLATION BOOTH, PART TWO OF TWO: Welcome to “This Old Studio:” Into the actual construction of my project studio, with plenty of in-progress photos. (Part One online here.)

Incidentally, this weekend is the one-year anniversary of our reverse Grapes of Wrath saga, fleeing California to Texas.

JOGGING WON’T HELP THAT: Two-Thirds of Cancer Mutations Are Random and Unavoidable, Scientists Claim. “Almost two-thirds of cancer mutations are caused by random DNA-copying errors during cell division and are impossible for us to avoid, regardless of lifestyle and the genes we inherit from our parents, according to new research. . . . If the findings end up being accepted by other cancer researchers, the idea that randomness – in other words, bad luck – is more significant in causing cancer than other contributing factors could amount to what Tomasetti calls ‘a complete paradigm shift in how we think about cancer and what causes cancer’.”

HMM: Treatment with a simple chemical restores DNA repair to aging mice.

A recent paper published in Science shows that a chemical used in the DNA repair process, nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+), has a concentration that declines with age. This decline may drive the age-associated accumulation of DNA damage—a finding that suggests supplementing NAD+ might offset some of the effects of aging.

The team behind the paper used human embryonic kidney cells (which grow well in the lab) to look at the role of this chemical. The authors found that NAD+ binds to the protein “deleted in breast cancer 1” (DBC1), which—as its name implies—was previously implicated in cancer. DBC1 normally binds to and inhibits another protein that performs DNA repair. But NAD+ blocks this interaction, releasing the inhibition on DNA repair.

Therefore, as NAD+ concentrations decline with age, it’s possible there is insufficient NAD+ to bind to the DBC1 protein, leaving it free to block DNA repair.

To test this proposed mechanism in a living organism, the authors used aging mice. As expected, NAD+ concentrations declined as the mice aged. With its decline, DBC1 was increasingly binding to and shutting down the DNA repair enzyme. The authors then gave the mice the chemical precursor to NAD+, which should restore their NAD+ concentrations. Once the mice were given this treatment, their DNA repair activity increased, and the levels of DNA damage were reduced.

I take Niagen, which contains nicotinamide riboside, a precursor to NAD+. Does it help? Ask me in 20 years.

QUESTION ASKED AND ANSWERED:

Why, yes I can, considering TNR’s response to the Obama-approved government “slimdown” in 2013:

As Jim Geraghty tweeted in 2013, “The New Republic: Your first choice for violent, authoritarian, eliminationist rhetoric!”; little has changed since Marty Peretz left the building, apparently.

GET ‘EM WHILE THEY’RE YOUNG: Teen Vogue Writer Tweets ‘All White People Are Evil’

MIKE ALLEN: Inside the Trumpcare meltdown.

When the balky hardliners of the House Freedom Caucus visited the White House earlier this week, this was Steve Bannon’s opening line, according to people in the conference room in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building:

Guys, look. This is not a discussion. This is not a debate. You have no choice but to vote for this bill.

Bannon’s point was: This is the Republican platform. You’re the conservative wing of the Republican Party. But people in the room were put off by the dictatorial mindset.

One of the members replied: “You know, the last time someone ordered me to something, I was 18 years old. And it was my daddy. And I didn’t listen to him, either.”

Started on the wrong foot: Repeal-and-replace was always snakebit. Ryan had begun the process before Trump’s inauguration. “He boxed us in,” said one person close to the fight. “We didn’t have any choice.”

Was always wobbly: Trump relied too long on assurances from Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and HHS Secretary Tom Price that they had the process in hand. And “Ryan was telling him it was fine, and they’d bring it together at the end.” Instead, the bottom fell out.

What a mess.

IN THE MAIL: Emotional Intelligence 2.0

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WELL, THEN MAYBE THE CDC SHOULD SPEND MORE TIME ON THIS SUBJECT, AND LESS TIME ON SALT SHAKERS AND SATURATED FAT: The Real Threat To National Security: Deadly Disease. Especially since they were wrong about the saturated fat. And the salt. . . .

TAXPROF: The IRS Scandal, Day 1417.

AL HUNT: Democrats Have a Gorsuch Problem.

SCIENCE! Student Discovers Previously Unknown Form of Oppression.

K-12 IMPLOSION UPDATE: Foreign Students Say U.S. High School Classes Are Absurdly Easy.

When the Brookings Institution’s Brown Center on Education Policy surveyed foreign exchange students studying in the U.S. in 2001, it found that they thought that American education was a cake walk compared to secondary education in their home countries. And when it conducted the survey again in 2016, it found that exchange students thought that U.S. education was even less challenging than before. . . .

Foreign exchange students’ perceptions of U.S. education clearly depends on their own educational background and their school placement. Students placed in underperforming Chicago schools, for example, are more likely to say that U.S. education is easier compared with foreign students placed at top-tier high schools in upper-middle class university towns.

The study doesn’t offer details about these alternative variables that might offer a more granular account of where U.S. schools are succeeding and failing; nonetheless, the overall picture—that teenagers from abroad overwhelmingly think that American schools demand less of them than schools in their home countries—is not exactly a ringing endorsement of this country’s educational establishment.

Well, our educational establishment — like most of our establishments these days, really — sucks.

GOOD: NRA Will Target Democrats Who Vote Against Gorsuch.

OUT: TRUMP’S AN ANTI-SEMITIC REINCARNATION OF HITLER.

In: Trump son-in-law’s ties to Israel raise questions of bias.

MY LATEST NEW YORK OBSERVER COLUMN: Art of War meets art of the deal. Tillerson pulls a Trump card on North Korea.

THE NATURAL ENDPOINT OF SOCIALISM: Venezuela is out of food, out of medicine, and running out of gas. That’s right: “The country with the largest proven oil reserves in the world is now running out of gasoline.”

CIVIL RIGHTS UPDATE: “Constitutional Carry” Passes in North Dakota.

MEGAN MCARDLE: If it’s easy to reach lawmakers, they’ll ignore you.

The problem with political action is that it’s hard. You have to get up early, go to meetings, write your representative, find a stamp for the envelope you don’t have for the letter you want to write your representative.… Shouldn’t technology solve this problem, and make it easier to get the political results we want?

Apparently, someone’s been asking that question. My social media feed has supplied me with word of a new application that aims to make political action as easy as sending a text.

The idea is that you text the word “resist” to a number, and after getting a small amount of information (your name, your ZIP code) it will let you set up a letter to fax to your senator. It’s the sort of thing you can do with any spare moment.

It’s a great idea — at first. It’s so great that I suspect it will soon devalue the fax as political currency.

Allow me to explain. There’s a hierarchy of political actions that you can take to impress your legislators with your commitment to an issue. Sending a letter or calling is high on that hierarchy; social media, email and signing Change.org petitions ranks much lower. The new service effectively acts as a political currency converter, allowing individuals to do something easy (text) while appearing to have done something less easy (fax).

There is a reason that more primitive means of communicating with your legislator tend to make them more interested in what you have to say: Those forms of communication cost more of your time, and therefore indicate a level of commitment that might reflect your intentions to donate and vote (for or against the lawmaker in question).

Showing up in person, of course, shows still more commitment.

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SADLY, THIS IS PROBABLY THE SORT OF THING IT WILL TAKE TO BRING BACK CIVILITY AS A GENERAL NORM: Trump Supporters Disrupt California Attorney General Town Hall.

Supporters of President Donald Trump disrupted a town hall held by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra in the Inland Empire town of Ontario on Thursday evening, the San Bernardino Sun reports.

Becerra has led California’s charge against many of President Trump’s policies. Earlier this week, for example, he filed a brief supporting a lawsuit by Santa Clara County challenging the president’s executive order that threatens sanctuary cities with the loss of federal funding.

An earlier town hall at the San Bernardino Valley College had proceeded without incident, the Sun reports. However, in Ontario, Becerra faced a hostile audience.

The hair-pulling stuff goes both ways. And it appears that Trump supporters are willing to pull some hair.

STEWART BAKER: Surveillance Sauce For The Goose. Imagine it’s 2020 and Trump is spying on Democratic candidate Kamala Harris.

Faced with that scenario, who thinks the press would be mocking Harris’s claim that her campaign was wiretapped by its enemies? So why are reporters mocking Trump’s?

Fact is, there’s a very real problem at the bottom of President Trump’s complaints. The Obama administration decided to conduct what was bound to be one-sided surveillance. Any evidence the investigators turned up would hurt the President’s adversary, not his side. The same would be true of any leaks. And widespread distribution of intelligence from the investigation would dramatically increase the risk that his adversary will be hurt by leaks. If you’re the President, or anyone in his administration, what’s not to like?

Who made the decision to expose the Trump campaign to this scrutiny and the risks that came with it? Thanks to FISA, national security surveillance decisions must be made mainly by political appointees. This is meant to be a protection for civil liberties but it’s the reverse in a partisan context.

Indeed.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Why College Graduates Still Can’t Think.

Traditionally, the “critical” part of the term “critical thinking” has referred not to the act of criticizing, or finding fault, but rather to the ability to be objective. “Critical,” in this context, means “open-minded,” seeking out, evaluating and weighing all the available evidence. It means being “analytical,” breaking an issue down into its component parts and examining each in relation to the whole.

Above all, it means “dispassionate,” recognizing when and how emotions influence judgment and having the mental discipline to distinguish between subjective feelings and objective reason—then prioritizing the latter over the former.

I wrote about all this in a recent post on The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Vitae website, mostly as background for a larger point I was trying to make. I assumed that virtually all the readers would agree with this definition of critical thinking—the definition I was taught as a student in the 1980s and which I continue to use with my own students.

To my surprise, that turned out not to be the case. Several readers took me to task for being “cold” and “emotionless,” suggesting that my understanding of critical thinking, which I had always taken to be almost universal, was mistaken.

I found that puzzling, until one helpful reader clued me in: “I share your view of what critical thinking should mean,” he wrote. “But a quite different operative definition has a strong hold in academia. In this view, the key characteristic of critical thinking is opposition to the existing ‘system,’ encompassing political, economic, and social orders, deemed to privilege some and penalize others. In essence, critical thinking is equated with political, economic, and social critique.”

Suddenly, it occurred to me that the disconnect between the way most people (including employers) define critical thinking and the way many of today’s academics define it can be traced back to the post-structuralist critical theories that invaded our English departments about the time I was leaving grad school, in the late 1980s. I’m referring to deconstruction and its poorer cousin, reader response criticism.

Just more Gramscian Damage.

POOR RICH PEOPLE: Financial Stupidity.

THE SCIENCE IS SETTLED, COVERING YOUR BOOBS IS MICROAGGRESSION: Staring at boobs may give a boost to male lifespans.

THE QUESTION IS, HOW OSTRACIZED WILL THE LIBERAL BE FOR DATING A CONSERVATIVE? The Challenges of Dating While Conservative.

FISH GETS BICYCLE; NEEDS TRAINING WHEELS: Anne Hathaway Achieves Enlightenment—Sort of.

FOR THE TIMES THEY ARE ACHANGING: Song parody dubbed ‘the anthem of the right’ catches fire thanks, in part, to New Media.

IT AIN’T THE BODY: The surprising male body type women lust after most.

CONSIDERING BOYS ARE FOUR TO FIVE TIMES MORE LIKELY TO BE DIAGNOSED WITH AUTISM: Why is ‘Sesame Street’s’ New Muppet with Autism a Girl?

PORN MOVIES MOST AFFECTED:Soon, your pizza delivery guy could be a robot.

DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE OF SELF-DECLARED IDENTITY: The story of Rachel Dolezal gets even more bizarre.

March 24, 2017

MICHAEL WALSH: Paul Ryan Takes The Barzini Meeting. “In a proper parliamentary democracy, of course, Ryan would have already stepped down. The speaker has one primary job, which is to shepherd legislation through the House. And while there’s renewed talk about a revolt against his ‘leadership,’ there’s no one on the horizon as a plausible replacement at the moment. Still, Ryan’s now roadkill, and it’s just a matter of time before even he realizes it.”

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ANDREW MALCOLM: What’s really hidden deep within all this intel squabbling.

Here’s what really matters: During the waning days of the Obama administration U.S. intelligence was indeed monitoring the conversations of foreign persons of interest after the Nov. 8 election and before the Jan. 20 inauguration. That’s normal and actually encouraging given how many key things those agencies have missed in recent years.

In those eaves-droppings they overheard Trump aides being mentioned or talking to agencies’ foreign targets. That’s called “incidental contact” in the intel world. That means they weren’t supposed to be targeting the American, but he or she came up. That’s unavoidable in intelligence-gathering if you’re doing a thorough job.

T​o avoid “unmasking” those innocent bystanders, t​ranscripts of those overheard conversations refer to the foreign target by name and identify the other person simply as American ​No. ​1 or American ​No. 2. ​A very small number of very senior intelligence officials ​will ​know the actual identity of the American​, people like, oh, then-CIA director John Brennan or Susan Rice, Obama’s national security adviser.​

​Remember Trump’s first national security adviser, retired Gen. Michael Flynn? He was picked up talking with the Russian ambassador as part of his transition work. Subsequently, he was fired​, not for the conversation but for misrepresenting that conversation to Trump teammates, including Vice President Pence. Trump accurately saw that as fatally corroding the trust he needs in such a close aide.

But here’s the deal: We should never have known it was Flynn.

Yes, as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency Flynn was very unpopular among Obama administration members and indeed was frozen out of contact with the commander-in-chief because he favored a much stronger response to ISIS, among other things. Talk about a president dodging opposing views.

Like Flynn or not, it is illegal — as in against the law — for anyone to reveal the name of an incidentally-overheard American. Someone in a small circle of Obama intelligence officials who knew the identity of that American No. 1 committed a felony by leaking Flynn’s name to media.

Safe to say the leak, like numerous others since Hillary Clinton was not inaugurated as president, was not intended to facilitate the smooth presidential transition that Obama so often publicly promised.

Prosecute the leaker.

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MAYBE GOV. BILL HASLAM NEEDS TO INTERVENE: Tennessee bills teen to replace guardrail that killed her.

The state of Tennessee has billed a dead teen nearly $3,000 to replace the guardrail that killed her in a car crash in November.

Her flabbergasted father said that he not only would not pay but also contends that the model of guardrail that struck his daughter was poorly designed and dangerous.

Around 5:44 a.m. ET Nov. 1, Hannah Eimers, 17, was driving her father’s 2000 Volvo S80 on Interstate 75 northbound near Niota, Tenn., when the car left the road, traveled into the median and hit the end of a guardrail with the driver’s side door, according to a Tennessee Highway Patrol crash report.

Instead of deflecting the car or buckling to absorb the impact, the guardrail end impaled the vehicle, striking the teen in the head and chest and pushing her into the back seat, according to the report. She died instantly.

Four months later, Steven Eimers of Lenoir City received a $2,970 bill from the Tennessee Department of Transportation, dated Feb. 24 and addressed to Hannah for the cost of labor and materials to install 25 feet of guardrail at the scene of the crash.

“I’m shocked, the audacity,” he said. “What bothers me is that they’re playing Russian roulette with people’s lives. They know these devices do not perform at high speeds and in situations like my daughter’s accident, but they leave them in place.”

The guardrail end Hannah hit was a Lindsay X-LITE, a model that the state transportation department had removed from its approved products list just one week earlier.

Sadly, Steve Eimers is a longtime InstaPundit reader. He emails:

I am pushing to get the Lindsay X-Lite off Tennessee roads. Will you please share this story?

But if you do please include this post about Hannah. I am tired of only talking about the way she died! How she lived is far more impressive. Graduated Home School at 15. Self taught ASL, German, and Russian. Self taught piano, guitar, Ukulele, psaltry, and numerous primitive instruments. Wrote six novels, accomplished photographer, and videographer. Worked on the set of Dog Years with Adam Rifkin and Burt Reynolds. Most importantly was how she was an advocate for the orphan. I want this to be what Hannah is known for.

Here’s his Facebook post.