Never pass up a chance to sit down or relieve yourself. -old Apache saying

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Chimamanda Adichie

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a Nigerian novelist who recently gave a great TED talk on gender.  I consider myself to be a feminist but I still have a long road to travel.  This is an interesting glimpse into life in Nigerian and is 30 minutes well-spent.


Happy New Year everyone!  Let's make 2014 an awesome year!  After all, it's really all up to you!

Monday, December 30, 2013

existential crisis

This came to me recently from comedian Steve Bhaerman.  Is my hair on fire?


Institutionalized Insanity and Humanity's Existential Crisis
by Steve Bhaerman

Japan just made reality illegal.

Well, maybe I exaggerate just a little. Reality is still permitted to exist in Japan -- it's just illegal to talk about it. A new -- and thankfully very unpopular -- State Secrets Act makes whistleblowing (and reporting leaks from whistleblowers) illegal, and punishable by ten years in prison!

While this law was ostensibly passed to prevent "state secrets" being passed to "enemies", it is far more likely that the current batch of state secrets are to cover up the mega-disaster at Fukushima, and the enemies are none other than the Japanese people, and people everywhere. So while TEPCO can continue leaking radioactive poison into the ocean, reporters cannot leak stories about it.

Welcome to the world of institutionalized insanity, where Official Media selling Official Stories insist that we the people ignore our eyes, ears, and senses -- not to mention worldwide reports of raised levels of radiation in Alaska and California, and mysterious die-offs of starfish in the Pacific.
  
Fortunately, we have organizations like Project Censored to publish a more balanced account, and a respectable ecologist David Suzuki to offer a grim warning.


Indeed, many of those who allow themselves to pay attention see the Fukushima meltdown as what may be the beginning of the end of human life on earth, and even more likely the collapse of civilization as we know it.

While there are actually people who get some strange "juice" from tales of doom and gloom, I am not one of those. And ... I am also not willing to put my head in the sand and pretend that the insane is somehow sane. Here is my sober assessment of the situation: Humanity has just received some alarming lab results that indicate we are suffering from a life-threatening condition that will prove fatal unless we take immediate, collective action.

We can speculate if the world leaders are just dazed and confused, or whether there is a concerted effort to "run out the clock" and make sure that the population is appropriately controlled and drugged during the dying process. Either way, it is now up to the people of the world. Do we want to live, or do we want to quietly die?

Again, I say none of this lightly.

No one wants to face our children and grandchildren and say, "Sorry about that. Guess we left you with life-threatening challenges and an increasingly toxified world of scarcity. But no worries. You can still watch reality TV to avoid watching reality."

Yes, crisis precipitates evolutionary opportunity. And ... the window of opportunity will only stay open so long. When the window is gone, well ... so long.

Humanity's Existential Crisis

Humanity is undergoing an existential crisis in a very real way. We are in the process of choosing if we want to exist or not. As more and more of us are coming to see, to navigate the evolutionary passage in front of us, we will have to recognize ourselves as cells in one related organism. Having spent the past 5,000 years focusing on survival of the fittest (we all know that Social Darwinism pre-dated Darwin by about 4,850 years), we must now shift to thrival of the fittingest. If we fit into the web of life, we survive and thrive. If we don't fit, we don't survive. And for those of you concerned about the financial costs of making these fundamental changes, I offer this dire warning: If humanity goes extinct, there goes the GDP!

Reading about the starfish die-off, the elevated radiation levels on the west coast (where I live) and the increasing dangers of a very poorly managed "clean up" at Fukushima, I admit to having dark thoughts this past week. Someone asked the Swami if he believed in the Big Bang Theory and he said, "Well, I used to. But now I am leaning more toward the Lone Nut Theory."

How else could we explain the nuttiness we are experiencing now?

So ... what would it be like for a critical mass of the uncritical masses to "go sane" and declare the physical world our "sane asylum"?

First, we must face the dire prognosis with clarity, awareness, courage and resourcefulness. To take a cue from a wise teacher, Jean Houston, maybe our entire species is undergoing a Hero's Journey.

We must now collectively (and individually, of course) face our demons, and work together to overcome steep odds. This means playing an entirely new game, and while the outcome of the new game is still undetermined, we do know that the old game will lead to death.

In Spontaneous Evolution, Bruce Lipton and I talk about the phenomenon called "spontaneous remission." A certain percentage of patients who receive a dire prognosis and are told to "go home and get your affairs in order" miraculously recover. While their recovery might seem like some anomalous act of grace, it turns out that those who recover have something in common. According to Dr. Lewis Mehl-Madrona, author of Coyote Medicine, spontaneous remission is often accompanied by what he calls "a change of story".

When Bruce and I wrote this several years ago, we thought of "spontaneous evolution" as a noun in the future. I now see clearly it is a verb in the present. Our positive choice is to write and then live into a new story.

The dire prognosis is calling forth evolutionary change, where we gather under "one big intent" to use our collective intelligence intelligently and our resources resourcefully. We have the technological wherewithal to mobilize the global village. Now we need the "aware-with-all" and the will, and the willingness.

One of my colleagues and mentors, Donny Epstein, originator of Network Spinal Analysis says, "Pain is an invitation to progress." Society's institutions and misleaders -- in seeking to protect what must collapse -- are doing everything they can to numb or manage the pain. As Donny says, to transform the pain, we must first feel it, acknowledge it and accept it. What would it be like to have the conversation about the true state of the natural world in community, in our churches and spiritual centers, in our schools, and of course in our families? What would it be like to break this conversation through the "soundless barrier" so the media has to report it?

Donny makes another very powerful distinction that applies here and now. In his 30 years in the healing professions, he has found that patients who declare, "I want to live" are far more likely to survive and thrive than those who say, "I don't want to die."

Please be with that for a few moments.

As a civilization that has lost its spiritual moorings and insists that only the material world is "real", there is a profound fear of death. Some sanity in this regard is emerging through the hospice and conscious dying movements. Still, heroic end-of-life interventions are still the costliest and most futile forms of medicine.

And ... along with change of story, one of the markers for overcoming life-threatening conditions is having a compelling future to live for. So what would it be like for Humanity to declare the future it chooses to live into? Seriously. What if there was a positive, proactive mission statement for Humanity, a vector pointing toward greater health, wellbeing and sanity?

Businesses write mission statements, as do individuals who are "up to something". What if communities, nations and even our entire human community declared what they seek to bring to the world? Doesn't it make sense that every region, every state, every nation has something that it does or creates better than anyone else? What would it be like for a billion or two billion or three billion people to declare they are choosing a world where there is thrival for all?

And then, what would it be like to actually create a structure and DO something to demonstrate this?

Some 70 years ago, the United States gathered its greatest scientists and resources in a secret project, the Manhattan Project, to build the first weapons of mass-destruction, nuclear power.

What if all of Humanity today called forth our current resources in a massive campaign to create renewable, nonpolluting energy so abundant that no armies are needed to defend it? We could call it the Man-Helping Project to create a web of mass-construction, new clear power. Imagine if this were done without the control of any government or single corporation, but simply by a new entity that declared the mission and gathered the resource.

This is an idea whose time has come. And ... it will only happen through our collective awareness, intention, and practical focus. So as we begin a new year, let's recognize that the evolutionary upwising is fully underway. Let's shoot way past apathy and despair, and let's call forth the healing and transformational energy in our community and world.

Let's take the bad news coming from Japan and the Pacific Ocean as "karma fuel" to propel us toward what the Swami would call Humanifest Destiny ... manifesting our destiny as a healthy and whole species.

Proclaiming and then gathering around this "sane center" in the wake of this low point can be the turning point ... and set us on course to the tipping point.

_______________________________________________  

Steve Bhaerman is a writer, humorist and political uncommontator who has been writing and performing comedy for the past 25 years as Swami Beyondananda. On the more serious side, he is author with Bruce Lipton of Spontaneous Evolution: Our Positive Future And a Way to Get There From Here, and he is about to launch his new blog and movement, Evolutionary Upwising.


Sunday, December 29, 2013

toon time

I used to be able to understand being a Republican, but with today's Republican Party, I don't get it any longer.  You either have to be greedy, selfish, mean-spirited, a bigot, a brainwashed "believer" or closeted gay to be a Republican these days.  Or all of the above.    















Saturday, December 28, 2013

origin of religion

The Bible is a jumbled fraud of contradictions, a mash-up of ancient myths, and it's very likely that "Jesus Christ" never existed.  The sooner mankind as a whole recognizes and embraces the truth, the sooner we can actually work together for the betterment of mankind.  

But, uh, who's going to tell the Muslims?

The video below is a quite fascinating 25-minute snip from the 2007 movie Zeitgeist, a study in history, astronomy, and archeology.  If you are a Christian believer, I urge you to watch this video.


And, oh yeah, Happy Solstice!!

Friday, December 27, 2013

High Price


Finished reading another book.  This one is by Dr. Carl Hart and is called, "High Price - A Neuroscientist's Journey of Self-Discovery That Challenges Everything You Know About Drugs and Society."

The title is a bit hyperbolic.  Maybe "challenges what you know about drugs" would be a little more accurate.  This is yet another book that I learned about while watching "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart."  Or watching "The Colbert Report."  Can't remember.

Anyway, this is a very good book.  Dr. Carl Hart is a black man who grew up in South Florida.  He was able to escape the deadly cycle of prison, dropping out of school and dealing drugs by joining the Air Force.  He then was able to study in England, Wyoming, New York and elsewhere.

The book is largely autobiographical while studying the pharmacology of drugs in today's society.  

Some of the main ideas of his book:

**It is rare for anyone to become addicted to methamphetamine or crack cocaine.  Almost no one EVER gets addicted on the first hit.  That is just a scare tactic.

**Crack cocaine and powder cocaine are pharmacologically identical.  The difference is the method of ingestion.   Crack is smoked; powder is snorted.  Smoking the drug gets it to the brain faster than snorting, hence the "stronger" effect.

Here is something that you probably knew, but the methods of ingestion make all the difference.  The fastest method of ingestion is injecting with a needle;  next is snorting; next is smoking; and slowest is eating. 

**The disparity in sentencing between crack and powder is based on fear and misinformation, not science.  The sentencing disparity used to be 100:1.  President Obama is the first President with enough courage to lower this disparity, but it is still too high at 18:1.

**The police and politicians are NOT the ideal persons to educate the public on the true effects of drugs.  Indeed, even some scientists extrapolate wildly after experimenting on rats, trying to project the same results onto humans.

**"The effects of drugs on human behavior and physiology are determined by a complex interaction between the individual drug user and her or his environment."  I've said this for years.  The environment plays a huge role.  When I was younger and experimented with LSD, the environment would make all the difference in the world.  A person dropping acid at home, in a safe environment, with music, television and friends around will have a much different and better "trip" than someone who drops acid and leaves the house and mixes with strangers.  To me, that's just common sense.  But it appears that sense is not all that common.

**The media has played a large role in hyping drug stories.  Always looking for an exciting, gripping story, they were instrumental in making cocaine illegal in the 1910's, in making marijuana illegal in the 1930's, and in vilifying meth in more modern times.  Remember the stories about "ice" when it first "appeared"?  It was so horrible people would get addicted with the first try!  Bullshit.  Ice is simply methamphetamine.  

People always jump to wild conclusions and thus think Dr. Hart advocates the legalization of all drugs.  Wrong.  Even detailed scientific information on drugs is met with ridicule and hysteria.  Millions of Americans take these drugs recreationally and most of them suffer no ill effects.  This country is so far removed from having an intelligent conversation on drugs it is shameful and discouraging.   Our sensationalized media is of no help at all.  It is a near-miracle that marijuana is being rehabilitated in this country.  I, for one, never thought that would happen in my lifetime, and I am very glad to be proven wrong.  Maybe there is hope after all.

The Guardian had a good review of the book here.


Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Good stories

One of the many good things about Christmas Day is that all of the news programs, local, state, and national, broadcast stories about people helping people.  It's one of the few days that you can count on that kind of story.  You and I know these kinds of things happen all the time, but for various reasons, most of the time they don't make it on the news.  

Here's a nice story about Brian Cushing, a professional football player for the Houston Texans, giving one Houston family a Christmas they will never forget.   One the one hand, I expect this kind of behavior from people who make MILLIONS of dollars per year playing sports.  But on the other hand, it apparently is rare.

This story appeared in the Houston Chronicle today on Christmas Day.  Way to go Brian!

CHRISTMAS
Texans’ secret Santa delivers
Linebacker Cushing and wife surprise family with ‘incredible day’
By Brian T. Smith
   The car is parked. His wife waits in the back seat, nervous but excited. His 14-month-old son is strapped into a child’s seat, hands twirling away.
   Brian Cushing pauses and waits. The Texans linebacker then slowly picks up his head and stares at a small, broken-down house in southeast Houston.
   “Oh, babe,” Cushing says to his wife, Megan. “Look at this. Oh, wow.”
  
 A woman walks through the front door. She has no idea who’s waiting outside. She doesn’t know what’s about to happen or why what began as just another dragged-out Thursday during another cruel year will turn into two hours that at least temporarily will change her life completely. 
But Evelyn Smith needs Brian Cushing. And Brian Cushing needs Evelyn Smith. Their separated lives are about to connect . When the convergence is over, all of Smith’s hurt and pain and the lack of almost everything will have been wrapped in an early Christmas.
   A $1,000 gift card for groceries, two $250 cards for bus rides. January through March rent taken care of, a three-month past-due gas bill paid off and so many new gifts placed near a once-barren, badly leaning plastic tree that Smith’s tiny living room will run out of space.
   When Cushing and his family drive back to their safe, near-perfect world, a 26-year-old man whose life is no longer solely being defined by the game of football will have discovered what he began looking for after his powerful body failed him again.
   “It’s incredible,” Cushing says. 
“Because you see a family that’s struggling and doesn’t know what to do for Christmas. You bring them stuff that they couldn’t even dream of really having. To bring it in and give them all that and to see the looks on their faces is priceless.
   “They can really just enjoy an incredible day and just be stress-free for a little bit. That’s important: To get that burden off them and just let them enjoy their lives for a little bit.”
   Gifts aplenty
   Smith is shaking. This doesn’t happen to anyone. It definitely doesn’t happen to her.
   But, somehow, it is. So she lets go of the life and the world that have let her down, finds her best natural smile and warmly welcomes in complete strangers.
   “Hi. How you doing?” says Smith, inviting in a family led by a 6-foot-3, 249-pound man who signed a six-year contract extension for $55.6 million less than four months ago.
   The Cushings and a small group of Texans employees gradually make their way into a darkened, cramped house. There’s a tiny kitchen. A narrow, darker hallway. An old television topped by a youth football trophy. Two walls lined with tilted pictures, including a graduation photo and a family prayer.
   Two other walls barely decorated, but featuring stock images normally found inside office buildings or a doctor’s waiting room: a jagged cliff with “Risk” printed above and “Give every challenge your best shot” below; on the opposing wall, “Determination” and an idyllic picture of a clean fairway green and a faraway mountain.
   Smith picks up her cellphone. The call is brief.
   “Um, one of the Texans’ players, Brian Cushing, is at my house,” she says. “Gotta go.”
   Soon, presents are piling in. An in-the-box high-definition television. Stacks of new shoes, clothes and DVDs.
   A PS3 for Smith’s 8-year-old son, Darius. A 21-piece teether set for Smith’s 9-month granddaughter, Siyah. Piles of food line a back table. Laughter and warmth color the living room. Together, it’s hope, recognition, possibility.
   All the things Smith canceled out when her back went bad and her job went away. Everything the holidays are supposed to reinforce but Smith privately knew were going to be coldly missing on Christmas Day before the Cushings arrived last Thursday.
   “It’s the greatest thing ever because I didn’t know what my kids were going to get for Christmas,” Smith says. “I didn’t even know what I was going to 
have for Christmas dinner.”
   ‘Very scared’
   She worked 18 years as a nurse. She’d work again if she had a new job. But her bad back is only getting worse — one surgery is supposed to be followed by a second — and Smith hasn’t met anyone who’s been better after their back has been opened. She also can’t forget what happened to the woman who brought her into the world.
   “My mom had back surgery, and she never got out of the wheelchair until she passed away,” Smith said. “I’m very scared, because I have to take care of my son and my grandbaby.”
   Five children and a granddaughter live inside the house. The father has disappeared, Smith says. Her oldest daughter, 26-year-old Savannah Wesley, dropped out of high school during her senior year, when her mother was injured during a fall. Wesley initially did the work Smith no longer could. Then the oldest daughter of the 
family joined the mother in frustration and pain after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer in September 2010.
   “It’s a struggle. … But as a family, a unit, we’re trying,” said Wesley, who’s unemployed but actively seeking work. “We try. But we try not to talk about it, because we don’t want the sadness to outnumber the positive that could come out of it.”
   Darius has a learning disability that stems from being born two weeks late. Wesley’s cancer was in remission but recently returned and moved to her kidneys.
   Smith holds on to an idea of working from home, but she’s not sure if her back will let her do anything for extended periods. The $771 a month she receives in combined disability and child-support payments barely meets the family’s rent.
   Smith is holding on. But she’s still slipping away.
   “I’m not giving up,” she said. “I think God is going to find a way. And he did bless me with Brian.”
   Bruised and beaten
   No one has blessed Cushing on the football field. At least not when it’s truly mattered.
   The raging modern warrior — running eye-black, overstuffed arms, guttural growls — has been disposable and discarded in back-to-back heartbreaking seasons. In 2012, Cushing was forced to watch the best year in franchise history from afar, after he tore his left anterior cruciate ligament in Week 5. He rehabbed like mad, vowing to be more beast-like and a fiercer animal when he returned. In 2013, Cushing was forced to watch the worst season in franchise history with glazed eyes after breaking his left fibula and tearing his lateral collateral ligament in Week 7 at Kansas City.
   He called Megan from the Texans’ training room after wasted knee No. 2. The initial conversation felt worse than the injury.
   “Oh my God,” she said. “The first time around, I was hysterical. The second time around, I saw it happen, and I knew. And I just thought to myself, he told me, ‘I rehabbed that whole time with the ACL and if I tear my ACL again, I don’t think I can honestly go through the whole thing again.’ … I was hysterical. But he’ll be back and he’s so determined.”
   This time, it was only Cushing’s LCL and he’s eyeing an early 2014 green light. During the interim, the soon-to-be father of two — Megan’s eight months pregnant with the couple’s second child — is making up for the years when his entire life was devoted to a sport. He’s become more of a husband, more of a father and more of a man.
   “It’s a completely different world and aspect as a football player and as a person, because there’s so much more to my life than 
playing football,” Cushing said. “It’s been huge. And it’s just opened my eyes up to the many more things that are out there.”
   Temporary reprieve
   Five hours after her Dec. 19 surprise Christmas, Smith was heading to the store. She had money to buy groceries. She had a house filled with warmth and light that would stay hot and lit. She’d been given a breather. But she also knew the Cushings’ open hand was only a temporary reprieve.
   “It’s still going to be a challenge,” Smith said.
 
Evelyn Smith called the surprise from
Brian Cushing and his wife
"the greatest thing ever."
 
 A few hours after loading up Smith’s house, smiling for endless pictures and watching Darius ride his new bicycle while wearing a bright-red No. 56 jersey, Cushing stood outside his car as Reliant Stadium towered above. Texans players walked by, heading toward flashy vehicles after another long practice day during a lost season. Cushing was barely noticed. But he kept speaking and finding new meaning.
   “I’m going to make the most out of this opportunity,” Cushing said. “I’m not going to let it slip by and waste this time. I’m going to capitalize on it.”
   Then it was back to dad duties.
   Cushing already had changed Cayden’s diaper in the middle of delivering presents. While his wife reflected on a Christmas the couple would remember the rest of their lives, Cushing fully disappeared, briefly removing himself from the Texans, the NFL and everything that had allowed him to light up a stranger’s world.
   “Honestly, I would say this is one of the top three days of my life,” Megan said. 

I can't point you to the original because it's on the Houston Chronicle digital site.

yule log

Is it really cold where you are?  Need a fireplace?   Will this one do?

                       

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

White Wine in the Sun

Here's a Christmas song I'd never heard before by Tim Minchin.  Yes, he's an atheist, but it's a very nice Christmas song.  It made me shed a tear and somewhat lament that we never had children.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

NRDC victories

I'm proud to say that I had a hand in some of the good things that the National Resources Defense Council accomplished in 2013.   

2014 can be even better.

K.I.N.D.

Are you still looking for a last-minute gift for someone this holiday season?  How about giving to a good charity in their name?  Look up K.I.N.D.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

progressive wave

Did you know that there is a wave of progressivism sweeping across the United States?  You wouldn't know it if all you watched was the mainstream media.  

Peter Dreier, after his appearance on Bill Moyer's Journal this past October 25, published a list of activists who are working locally to change the face of America.  

I like to think that I am pretty "plugged in" to alternative media sources, but I have to admit that I have heard of only FIVE of the 20 activists that Dreier highlights below.  Just imagine if the mainstream media would actually cover all of these events, it could actually inspire a whole lot more people to action.  Maybe that's why they haven't been giving them airtime.  

20 Activists Who Are Changing America

by Peter Dreier

In my recent interview with Bill Moyers, we discussed the growing activism on economic, social, and environmental justice issues that is sweeping the country. Drawing lessons from my book, The 100 Greatest Americans of the 20th Century: A Social Justice Hall of Fame, I observed that the United States is now at a critical turning point, with the "unholy alliance" of Wall Street, the Chamber of Commerce, the Tea Party, and the Religious Right unraveling in front of us, creating openings for progressives to challenge the corporate and conservative establishment. In this article, I identify some of the most effective young grassroots organizers who are changing America.

You might not know it if your only source of information is the mainstream media, but there's a vibrant grassroots progressive movement winning victories, raising awareness and changing lives in every part of the country. In the midst of a widening economic divide, a corporate assault on working families' living standards, and the right-wing Tea Party grip on the GOP, millions of Americans are fighting back, in their neighborhoods, workplaces, and voting booths, to restore democracy and challenge the plutocracy.
Many of the leaders of these efforts are Baby Boomer veterans of the civil rights, anti-war, women's rights, consumer and environmental movements. But in the past decade, a new generation of activists -- born after 1960 -- has stepped into positions of leadership in the mosaic of movements that has emerged to continue and widen the struggle for social and economic justice. They are learning from the successes, and the mistakes, of their elders.
Like their predecessors in the Progressive movement in the early 1900s, the Depression-era struggles for workers' rights, and the 1960s and 1970s crusades, this new crop of activists knows that the radical ideas of one generation are often the common sense ideas of the next generation. They are practical idealists.
The stories and people that will fill tomorrow's history books are being written today. It is sometimes hard to recognize history-making as it is occurring. So we need to remind ourselves that a new generation of activists, now in their 20s, 30s, and 40s, are building on the experiences of their earlier counterparts, continuing America's progressive tradition.

Who are the young (50 and under) radicals and reformers among us now whose names may not be well-known to the general public, but whose activism is changing the country in a more progressive direction? There are thousands to choose from. Here is just a sample:
It's too long to re-print, so you'll have to go here.


Friday, December 20, 2013

fuck the Ducks

Did you know that all the good ol' boys on the Duck Dynasty were yuppies before they donned beards and started shooting' at ducks?  Your typical "reality" show.  Eat your shit, America.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Grain Brain

Just finished another book.  This one - Grain Brain, is written by Dr. David Perlmutter, a neurologist.  

There are some rather startling premises in this book.  Here are a few:

1) avoid gluten - gluten is a Latin word and literally means "glue" (yech!).  Gluten, found in many products today, but especially wheat products like breads, is doing serious harm to our bodies and brains.  Removing this substance can go a long way towards optimizing your brain's and your gut's health.

2) a low-carb, high-fat diet is much healthier than today's typical diet of low-fat, high-carb.  This idea links up with the primal or paleo-type diets, which emphasize the same idea.

3) cholesterol is your friend.  The brain is 75% cholesterol, and even the so-called "bad" cholesterol, the LDL-type, plays a very important role in transporting cholesterol to the brain and brain neurons.  So, don't worry about cholesterol, and by all means, quit taking statin drugs.

These ideas, especially #2 and #3, very much turn conventional wisdom on its head.  

Click here for a short appearance on Dr. Oz' show by Dr. Perlmutter.  


Dr. Perlmutter cites multiple studies to back up his ideas.   It's a well-researched book that is a must-read for diabetics, those suffering from celiac disease, and every other human that breathes oxygen or eats food.

Even before reading this book, the wife and I had embarked upon a healthier diet.  We had discarded all vegetable oils and switched to using only olive oil or coconut oil.  Now we've added walnut oil and macadamia nut oil. Reading this book has pushed us further along towards better health.  

We have now eliminated almost all foods from our pantry that contain gluten, and we have obtained some of the best alternatives to wheat, such as almond flour and coconut flour. We have dropped most cereals and now usually have eggs for breakfast.  My weight has dropped from a peak of 215 lbs to just under 200 lbs.  At the same time, I have begun to exercise more often, thanks to my company opening up a free gym available to all employees.  I have to say that I haven't felt this good in years now.  

Do yourself a favor.  Read Grain Brain and think seriously about what is going into your mouth.  

Monday, December 16, 2013

down with TPP

Not OPP, but TPP, aka the Trans-Pacific Partnership.  

This is not a good thing, unless you're already a billionaire or corporate bigwig.  Think NAFTA on steroids. Wasn't NAFTA (absolutely not no way) a great thing?

You may not like Jim Hightower, but you should take a few minutes and read this.  It makes me pretty angry with Obama. 

snip:

This thing is a supersized and nuclearized NAFTA, the 1994 trade scam rammed through Congress by Bill Clinton, Wall Street's Robert Rubin, and the entire corporate establishment. They promised that the "glories of globalization" would shower prosperity across our land. They lied. Corporations got the gold. We got the shaft--thousands of factories closed, millions of middle-class jobs went south, and the economies of hundreds of towns and cities (including Detroit) were hollowed out. (Most Mexicans got the NAFTA shafta, too. US grain traders like ADM dumped corn into Mexico, wiping out millions of peasant farmers' livelihoods, and thousands of local businesses were crushed when Walmart invaded with its Chinese-made wares.)

Twenty years later, the corporate gang that stuck us with NAFTA is back, hoping to fool us with an even more destructive multinational deal. (This calls for another immortal quote from George W: "Fool me once, shame on--shame on you. Fool me--you can't get fooled again." Well, you know what he meant).

This time we really must pay attention, because TPP is not just another trade deal. First, it is massive and open-ended. It would hitch us immediately to 11 Pacific Rim nations (Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam), and its door would remain wide open to lure China, Indonesia, Russia, and other nations to come in. Second, note that many of those countries already have trade agreements with the US. Hence, THIS AMAZING FACT: TPP is a "trade deal" that mostly does not deal with trade. In fact, of the 29 chapters in this document, only five cover traditional trade matters!

The other two dozen chapters amount to a devilish "partnership" for corporate protectionism. They create sweeping new "rights" and escape hatches to protect multinational corporations from accountability to our governments ... and to us. Here are a few of TPP's provisos that would make our daily lives riskier, poorer, and less free:

Original.  Really.  Read it.  TPP is a real stinking turd for 99.9% of the planet, and it must be stopped.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

last interview

Carl Sagan's last interview before he died was conducted by Charlie Rose.  

In this snippet, Carl (one of my personal heroes, by the way) warns about the misuse of science and technology by no-nothings.  Read: Congress.  

It reminds me that I shudder incredulously every time I hear some neanderthal Republican, such as Paul Broun from Georgia, a physician of all things, who is on the Science, Space & Technology Committee, say something like "evolution is straight from the pit of hell."  With "leaders" like that, where are we going?


Paul Broun's quote, in case you don't believe me, can be heard here...


or this one...

Thursday, December 12, 2013

soup kitchen?!

Woah!  Way to go Frankie!

Republicans are going to really DETEST this guy!


ACA reduces debt

Some details in here that I wasn't aware of, so I'm guessing you were not aware of them too.  Just a guess.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

tilefish

The tilefish is another one of those fish that keep popping up on restaurant menus that you have probably never heard of.  We are seriously overfishing the seas, hence, we have to keep moving on to fish that never used to be on the radar, so to speak.  

Sometimes, they just re-name a fish and sell it with the new name.  Chilean Sea Bass is one of those.  It used to be called the Patagonian Toothfish, which was passed over and was thought to be a trash-fish.  But once we ran out of the usual stuff, we turned to this fish, re-named it Chilean Sea Bass, and suddenly it is a delicacy.

The tilefish is another story.  We had some at a restaurant recently, and it was quite good.



Tilefish, sometimes known as “the clown of the sea,” is a colorful fish –blue-green and iridescent on the back, with numerous spots of bright yellow and gold, their bellies are white, and their heads are rosy with blue under the eyes.
Tilefish, sometimes known as “the clown of the sea,” is a colorful fish –blue-green and iridescent on the back, with numerous spots of bright yellow and gold, their bellies are white, and their heads are rosy with blue under the eyes.


Tilefish is a mild-tasting white fish harvested from southern New England to the Gulf of Mexico. The saying “you are what you eat” rings true for this fish – they mainly feed on crustaceans such as shrimp and crabs, and people often describe the tilefish’s sweet flavor as similar to crab or lobster. Tilefish was first caught and identified in 1879 in waters south of Nantucket. A commercial fishery quickly developed in this area when people discovered what a tasty meal tilefish made.
Today, the commercial tilefish fisheries in the Mid-Atlantic/Southern New England and the Gulf of Mexico are managed through individual fishing quota (IFQ) programs. While the specific details of these programs vary by region, in general managers allocate a share of the annual catch to participating fishermen. Fishermen can choose when to fish for their share throughout the year, ideally when market and weather conditions are best. Catch-share programs such as these offer fishermen a direct incentive to use sustainable practices – the catch quota can be increased as fish populations grow, leading to an increase in each fisherman’s individual share and subsequent profits.
In the South Atlantic, fishing rates had been too high since the 1980s. Managers implemented measures in 2007 to stop overfishing and maintain the tilefish population. These regulations reduced harvest by one-third, and a recent assessment found they have ended overfishing and helped the tilefish stock grow. As a result, managers recently increased annual catch limits for both the commercial and recreational tilefish fisheries.

Original.  These things are BIG.