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126. Checklist for Personal and Planet Health

7 Nov

For many years I have been studying (1) human health and (2) planet health. I have a strong scientific background so I can learn and understand the relevant concepts, which are constantly changing. This essay is a summary or checklist of things we must do to improve both 1 and 2. I have combined these two, as they are inter-related. All of us can fail to deal with important factors so I have tried to list those that are easy to forget. Everything listed is like the beginning of a path to further knowledge, which you should to explore. Some of the ideas presented are controversial and possibly imperfect, but all are based on published reputable investigations, and extensive personal experience. (In many areas, consultation with doctors and other experts is advised.)

1. Human Health
a. Pay careful attention to what you eat. As you get older, this will become more important. The availability of healthy foods will depend on planetary health discussed below.
b. Limit consumption of all sugars, sugar substitutes, and simple carbohydrates, which the body can rapidly change to sugar. Briefly, the possible dangers are weight-gain, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, migraine headaches, cognitive ability, aging of organs, energy loss, etc. Simple carbohydrates include bread, cereals, pasta, rice, etc. Processed foods often contain harmful ingredients. The internet provides much info on this subject.
c. Limit or eliminate all dairy products, as these will affect your joints. This includes milk (use almond milk instead), cheese, sour cream, yogurt, etc. There are excellent non-dairy substitutes for these. This is most important for people in their 40’s and beyond.
d. Concentrate on eating vegetables and decrease your intake of meat and fish. Too much animal consumption can lead to gout, acid reflux and other problems.
e. Study vitamin supplements and determine what you need. If your doctor says that vitamins often just run through your body, suggesting non-use, ask him/her if they understand what a “catalyst” is.
f. Drink plenty of water, which is vital for health and energy. Water is a key factor in almost every system of the body. For most people, water makes up most of the body. Don’t forget to keep you eyes moist.
g. Most vegetable fats are good for you, while most animal fats should be limited. Olive and some other oils have many health advantages. Sufficient fiber in foods is important.
h. Remember to exercise and stretch major muscles on a regular basis. This muscle work has a profound affect on many aspects of health, including: stress reduction, emotional control, sleep, proper glucose utilization, weight control, many diseases, accident prevention, etc. Even if you are old like me and have bad knees, there still are ways to get good exercise.
i. Most pains in the skeletal system (arms, legs, back, etc) of the body are fully or partially due to inflamation, which is the collection of certain body fluids that aid in healing. Generally, the best method for most areas is application of ice. Other areas, like the back, for example, benefit most from drugs, like Aleve. Back pain often is best resolved with careful, full stretching. I have written several blogs on this.
j. If you have dry skin, rub on moisterizing and restorative lotions.
k. Make sure everything that your body comes in contact with stays clean to avoid bacterial infections.

2. Planet Health for Humans
Your health and survival actually depend much more on planet health than you might expect. Immediately, we can see some common factors. Clean water and air are important for both. Trees provide conversion of CO2 to Oxygen, which is important for humans. Here is a list of environmental factors to work on.
a. Support laws and efforts to avoid water and air pollution. Under appropriate leadership, I think most manufacturers would agree with this.
b. Discourage the abolition of regulations that improve air and water quality. It is easy for rich people to move to safe areas, but many others can really suffer from various types of pollution. One must study history to be aware of these factors.
c. Burning coal and gasoline for warmth and transportation must be limited. We need solar panels, windmills, etc for energy. Cars must be gradually converted to battery operation. This is already possible, it just needs responsible leadership.
d. We need to plant and save more trees, as humans need the oxygen they provide, and they remove the CO2, which affects global warming.
e. GMO’s (genetic modification of plants) must be promoted, along with relevant safety regulation. The Earth’s population is quickly increasing so we will need more food. (Please see my blog on GMOs.) GMOs will also help with climate change problems as they will require less farm equipment energy. Remember that nature is constantly changing the DNA of animals and plants, without notification to us. On the other hand, if scientists develop a new GMO, it is known and can be tested. Our long-term survival will depend on the innovations of scientists.
f. The Oceans of the world are immense and yet they still need our attention. Large populations of fish have substantially decreased due to over-fishing, and oil spills (and pollution) have had great negative effects. Waste matter is filling the oceans and is damaging sea animals.There are many books and essays on this subject.
g. There are many ways to conserve energy, which will become more and more important as population increases and new tech requires increased energy. In our homes we can use low energy light bulbs, efficient furnaces, good insulation, etc. Our cars, factories, farms, etc must be designed for low energy use.
h. Meat requires much more energy to produce than vegetables (about 25 times as much). Scientists are developing methods of growing meat in the lab using DNA manipulations. Eventually, it will be more energy-efficient and less costly than using cattle. I have no problem with this, but some will object. Actually, humans need only a small amount of animal food for good health.
i. Vegetables can be efficiently grown in vertical structures so that they use less land and can be integrated into cities. Use of “vertical farming” buildings will require much less transportation cost and energy, and people will enjoy extra fresh food.
j. Failure to deal with climate change is already producing more hazards like severe hurricanes, droughts, forest fires, and flooding. Climate change causes alterations in worldwide air and sea currents. This can profoundly affect rainfall, so that some areas with normal rainfall will change to deserts and other areas will get too much rain. This will affect food production and will cause massive migration problems, that will make today’s migrations seem trivial.

3. Conclusion
Our planet will not suffer because scientists and technicians have failed to provide better systems to help with adjustments. It will be greedy, callous, and ignorant politicians that will cause disasters for Planet Earth and its inhabitants. There is enough food, clothing, and shelter, for all, and even some room for moderately rich people. Responsible leaders would be able to deal with all the adaptations that are needed.

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125. Emergence of Tyrants; Balancing Competition and Kindness

23 Oct

It is in my nature to want to understand how tyrants emerge from relatively peaceful populations. This is a real issue for our times (2018). The essay below addresses this question. This subject is difficult, political, provocative and controversial. I have tried to present a variety of ideas relevant to this topic. The reader may want to use these ideas together with his/her own experiences and knowledge to form conclusions.

Excessive competition and bullying early in life might lead to greed and corruption in our leaders. Many humans strive to be on top, others settle for a limited comfortable life. Kindness as a way of living, has many social benefits, but you may live in near poverty and may have to settle for things of less value.

Your needs are determined by parental training, teachers, peers, and accidental circumstances. A father may encourage a young boy to fight. “Stand up for your values” or “Hit him back.” A child might join a gang for protection and end up harming others. A child may be bullied in early life and take some type of revenge in later life. And, some children are trained to be peaceful and enjoy education and constructive activities.

Evolution leads men to compete for women that would be best for reproduction and child rearing. It takes ability and strength for good parenthood. The drive of men for the companionship of women can be very powerful. In our society there is a great emphasis on attractiveness and I imagine that in some cases, efforts to “win” a good partner could be exaggerated and lead to corruption and anti-social behavior.

Most advanced male animals fight for the right to mate. This is very clear in horses, gorillas, bighorn sheep, lions, elk, baboons, etc. The competition can be extreme and end in a death, or much milder and consist mostly of threats. The type of competition usually depends on the species.

In many human communities, there is peaceful competition or very little aggression. In some human groups, physical fighting is typical. A few humans have been known to kill for power or the right to pursue a particular women.

Should humans give up fighting sports like boxing and MMA (mixed martial arts)? Regarding the latter, I cannot see a “sport” in punching someone in the face while he (or she) is lying on the ground. I think most citizens would vote against this, but leaders may acquiesce because there is a lot of money in it, and strong proponents. A substantial part of the male population enjoys the fights and can exert a powerful political force.

In Thailand, children as young as five become kickboxers and later (age 6 or 7) viciously fight in the ring, watched by large audiences. An important part of these fights is betting. Most children say they enjoy it and like to help the family with earned money. When the parents of these children are interviewed, they say it is not dangerous, but some children do get brain damage. I have to say, without hesitation, this is just WRONG.

Most sports demand a competitive spirit. I admit that I enjoy watching many sports, even boxing (briefly) on rare occasions. I played a number of sports and at times made a great effort to win. If you cannot demonstrate your skill, you may not be invited to play. We are all controlled by many social factors. In my later life, when unable to play sports, I concentrated more on kindness. But some politicians can continue their desire for dominance in old age.

So we have a dilemma in balancing our love of competition and the negative desperate actions that may be created. In a democracy, competitive politicians emerge that are clever enough to get votes, but may be painfully unskilled at governing. Many citizens may not recognize the promises made by these politicians as unrealistic and almost impossible to implement. Previous behavior is the best indicator of future behavior. We must try to imagine how a candidate will govern, if elected. Studying history and developing methods for determining truth are important.

 

120. Where Democracy is Dead

28 Aug

An article by Paul Krugman (NY-Times, 8-27-18) is so profound and insightful that I had to write this small blog. Krugman states that democracy is dead in Poland and Hungary, both members of the European Union. Both of these countries have powerful ruling parties.

In both countries, there are elections, but Krugman points out that they: “have destroyed the independence of the judiciary, suppressed freedom of the press, institutionalized large-scale corruption and effectively delegitimized dissent.”  

The effect of these aberrations is that it is likely that there will be “one-party rule for the foreseeable future.”  Krugman warns that this could easily happen here.

Our current ruling party and our current POTUS, are increasingly engaging in these anti-democratic activities. If the next election fails to reverse this process, the USA will further deteriorate to a point where recovery may not be possible. My previous blogs have discussed these issues in detail.  Briefly, I am concerned about: nominations to the Supreme Court, attacks on the FBI, emolument violations, threats toward the press, criminal actions by POTUS staff and consultants, gerrymandering and other interferences with our election process.

 

 

  

 

 

 

118. President Cornered

25 Aug

Today is August 24, 2018, marking 581 days of Trump presidency.
The case against Trump (and staff) is accelerating. In the last few weeks, there have been very significant events. I have tried to document the most important factors and much of the emphasis is based on Trump denial arguments. Here is my list.

A very significant event was back on April 9, 2018: Michael Cohen‘s (Trump personal lawyer) office was searched and documents confiscated. This influenced many of the events below and also the subpoena for Trump’s long-term accountant, CFO Allen Weisselberg in July 2018. Just added, Allen W. was given immunity.

The following all occurred within about a week.

Recently reported: White House counsel, Donald McGahn, was interviewed for 30 hours by the Mueller investigators, and provided extensive valuable information.

Trump has been accused of treasonous actions (for example, Steve Schmidt) in his dealing with Putin. Maybe worst of all is that he often did not recognize (or respond to) Russian attacks on our election system. There are claims that you cannot have “treason” without a war — but there is a very real and dangerous USA-Russian cyber war with ongoing covert battles.

Trump’s first supporter in Congress, Chris Collins (R-NY) was charged with
insider-trading. His second supporter, Duncan Hunter (R-CA), was indicted for misusing campaign funds.

August 21, 2018: Paul Manafort convicted on eight counts. He was Trump campaign manager starting June 20, 2016, although he worked on the campaign starting in March 2016. He resigned August 19, 2016. So, he worked for the campaign for about six months and was manager for two months. Trump had occasional interactions with Manafort since around 1980.

Trump, when in debt, likely earned millions by helping Russians launder money. It was done by Russians buying Trump-owned over-priced condos. This occurred over many years, but recently came to light in the writings of Craig Unger. Unger also describes possible interactions of Trump and the Russian Mafia. These Russian relationships may explain his strange favoritism towards Putin.

Omarosa Manigault just published a tell-all book “Unhinged” about Trump. She has tapes recording various interactions with Trump and staff, which she will make available to Special Counsel Mueller.

Michael Cohen confessed to crimes associated with Trump’s election, and implicated Trump as a director of illegal actions.

David Pecker, publisher of National Enquirer, and long-term friend of Trump, was granted immunity in the Michael Cohen investigation. He may have important info regarding Trump’s questionable activities.

Jeff Sessions (Attorney General) answered Trump back regarding recent criticism of his running of the DOJ. Sessions strongly disagreed with the assertion that he “never took control” of the department. He also praised its personnel and affirmed its independence. This is the first time that he has really defended himself from Trump’s numerous attacks.

Trump has recently admitted to criminal actions because he does not understand our laws. For example, he admitted to campaign expense violations because he thinks that the source of funds must be strictly from the campaign. Campaigns can be financed by many means including by the candidate himself.

Robert Mueller has indicted or secured guilty pleas from a total of 32 persons. Please note that Mueller is a Republican and highly respected by both parties.

Looking at all of the above, the Trump claim of “witch hunt” is ridiculous. He has a long history of shady practices (like Trump University) and he has illegally profited from his presidential status in several well-documented ways.

 

 

 

115. Voting in Desperate Times

1 Jul

Our democracy ordinarily works in wonderful ways, but as the founding fathers anticipated, could be corrupted. It is now on a dangerous path. Republicans and their top leaders (Trump, McConnell, Ryan, etc.) are quite willing to sacrifice our ideals, integrity, and world leadership, to survive, and to support their wealthy patrons. The “desperate times” are caused by the factors described below.

In order for Republicans to survive, they feel that they must tell lies, create havoc, and engage in ruthless character assassination. An example is the many repetitions of the investigation of Hillary Clinton and Benghazi, which NEVER resulted in significant findings. The basic reason why Republicans must lie is that they cannot say “vote for us, so that our extremely rich donors can be made even richer.” They fool people by saying that their financial programs will help the middle class, but history shows that they do not. The often used “trickle-down” concept is not supported by fact (even the Pope stated this).

Below I will discuss voting, but it is important to first really define the Republican problem so that the urgency will be apparent. Here is a list of current and future dangers:

1. Alienation of our long-standing and faithful allies (example: NATO and G7 members) in favor of Russian Putin and other ruthless dictators. Difficult international decisions are best made with the support of allies.
2. Encouragement of racism through lies and false data. On two occasions, Trump provided some support for Neo-Nazis, saying “some were very fine people.”
3. Creating an ultimately unfavorable world trade policy, that is not good for us and creates world leadership openings for China and Russia. All of Trump’s tariffs were countered by foreign equivalents. The final result was a loss of many USA jobs. 
4. Shattering our reputation for honesty. World leaders never know where we stand because Trump frequently and impulsively keeps changing his mind.
5. Judicial appointments are based primarily on loyalty to Trump rather than appropriate reputation and experience.
6. Failure to seriously deal with Russian attacks on our election system and also Republican gerrymandering, voter suppression, and other election scams.
7. Failure to separate politics from the functioning of the FBI and other agencies. Inane attacks on the FBI will have long-term effects on its important functioning.
8. Abolishing government regulations that protect us from various forms of pollution, and from financial scams that are often aimed at the elderly and those poorly educated.
9. Degrading government agencies that were established to improve international relations and decisions, such as the State Department.
10. Failure to fill important offices. We lack ambassadors, judges, agency leaders and experts, etc. Republicans want to blame the Democrats, but there is a failure to present nominations, and those nominated are often unqualified and simply Trump sycophants.
11. Disorganized border procedures keep worsening and are establishing rules that will negatively affect border policy for many years. Desperate decent people that are seeking asylum are locked up like criminals and have had their children taken away. It is well-known that certain Latin American countries have been essentially taken over by criminal gangs, and that decent people have needed to escape. Some of the money spent on their jailing could have been spent on helping these desperate countries.
12. Failure to support the problem of climate-change. This could be the most serious problem in the list. Eventually millions of people may die, and the mass migrations due to changes in rainfall patterns, could be horrendous.
13. Policies that negatively affect education and science can ultimately have serious harmful effects. Every nation needs educated people and will benefit from scientific research. Republicans fear education because knowledgeable voters will see through their schemes. Science is discouraged because some manufacturers may lose a little money in doing the right thing.
14. Future Supreme Court justices could be disreputable Trump loyalists that will create laws that a majority of Americans don’t want.
15. Corruption of the Census rules likely will eliminate non-citizens from being counted. This will have a negative political impact.
16. In general, current USA policies emerge from impulsive, simplistic decisions – often by Tweets. Frequently there is little study of all possible outcomes and all relevant factors when a decision is made. The traditional and effective process for making decisions based on hearings and the knowledge of experts is ignored. An example of poor judgment is the very biased tax-cut bill, which will affect infrastructure repair and other important programs. Trump’s advisors are mostly his friends, relatives, and yes-men rather than experienced leaders in relevant fields.

Now that the very real dangers have been described, we know that the most effective way (not the only way) to deal with all these long-term dangers is by voting Trump and Republicans out of office. Voting is critical.

Voting is so important now, that we must consider certain factors. It is sad to say that voting is often based on superficial subjective features like appearance, familiarity, religion, attractiveness, speaking voice, appearance of strength, etc.
We must choose candidates that will get maximum votes.
Of course, candidates must also be intelligent, well-educated, reliable, and supportive of the best policies.
What to avoid in getting maximum votes:
1. A certain number of people will not vote for those with foreign names and accents.
2. People that appear weak. Many voters require an appearance of physical strength.
3. People that lack charisma and a really fluent speaking ability.
4. I hate to say it, but a tall, white, Christian, articulate man is optimal. No one in the USA will reject someone like this, but someone lacking some or all of these features will definitely lose some votes.

A final thought:
I must admit that when the leading Democrat candidates for the presidency were Hillary and Barack, I was worried. Still, it was a great joy for me when Barack Obama emerged, and overcame these petty limitations. (I would also have been very happy with Hillary C.)
There are some really good trends now that hopefully will prevail. For example, women are more and more capable of getting votes. I see really good leadership ability in women like Elizabeth Warren. 

113. Do Good Candidates Make Good Officials?

13 Mar

For several years, I have been concerned about the nature of our USA election process. The traits that promote election, are not necessarily the same as those required for good governing. Successful candidates can have any or all of the following:  1. rich donors,  2. a powerful appearance,  3. an ability to convincingly lie and exaggerate,  4. an ability to say what people want to hear, such as subtle racism or anti-science sentiment.
Emerging from this process may be leaders lacking necessary experience, temperament, intellect, and/or decision-making skills. Focus is often on pleasing wealthy donors, instead of making life better for our citizens. The recent “tax reform” bill is an example of this.
Our current election process was formed by legislation, judicial decisions, and by questionable traditions. It needs revision.  We could start with election campaign laws such as those giving rich donors almost complete control over the election process. It would also help to have more voter education. There are no easy ways to reform elections, but we should at least make every effort to do this.

110. 260-Days of Trump

11 Oct

What is the state of our union after 260 days of D. Trump (DT) in office?

The most serious situation that our nation faces, is the threat of a war with North Korea, and even worse, the path to a World War III. What Trump says in this respect, may be the usual scattered thinking. But a possibility is that he is truly focused on bringing the greatest possible pressure on KJU to back down and stop making nukes. That is why he was angry with Rex Tillerson because negotiation efforts would dilute the powerful pressure. But as usual, no one really knows exactly what DT was thinking.

Diagnosing Trump has become very popular. One of the latest contributions to this topic is a book by Bandy X. Lee et. al.: The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump. Dr. Brandy Lee (no relation to me) is a forensic psychiatrist and a member of the Yale faculty. She and her co-authors have distinguished careers. Needless to say, this book documents abnormalities and makes recommendations regarding his use of our nuclear arsenal. As I have stated in previous blogs, I think that DT has at least a moderate Alzheimer’s disease, and according to recent research, his confessed lack of sleep would be a major contributor to this condition. Sleep is the only time that waste products in the brain are washed out. When your brain is full of waste, Alzheimer’s progresses. This involves a gradual loss of memory and mental functioning.

An extremely destructive goal of Trump is to attack the legacy of Barack Obama. DT does not have any goals that benefit our country in general; his emphasis is only on winning and keeping foolish campaign promises. The first repeal and replacement of ObamaCare by the House was labeled by DT as “mean.” Later he wanted to pass a similar Senate bill at any cost, regardless of content. With no regard to the terrible effects, he has worked to destroy such Obama accomplishments as Iran Nuclear Deal, the Paris Climate Agreement, various trade agreements, DAKA immigration order, and various orders and legislation related to financial regulations. He also is reducing science research funds and changing science policies, which can affect our world leadership in this vital area. On the other hand, China is increasing its science budget and may take over world leadership in this area. Since much of manufacturing and related research is based on science, this would give China (and maybe other countries) a major financial advantage.

An ongoing and shabby situation is that Trump’s cabinet members are often at odds with the President. His staff has traveled all over the world trying to assure leaders that Trump will back them up and accept existing treaties. Failures in this area are dangerous and can cause some allies to join with Russia or China. Many feel that the major role of several cabinet members is to “contain” DT and keep him from making destructive statements and tweets.

A few Republican Congressmen are starting to directly attack DT’s  competence. Senator Bob Corker has been blunt is his criticism and Senate leader Mitch McConnell has supported Corker.

Polls have indicated a decreased voter support with respect to trust and accomplishments. His only clear accomplishment was not legislative, but was the appointment of a Supreme Court Justice (Neil Gorsuch) — a trivial thing since the Senate is GOP controlled.

Trump has alienated and belittled numerous Republican leaders that are necessary for passing legislation he backs. There are many more than the few mentioned above. He has also insulted a Gold Star family, numerous reporters, and black athletes that are trying to fight unfair treatment by police. On the other hand, his condemnation of Neo-Nazis, KKK, etc., was weak and only approached what is appropriate, when reading speeches prepared by others. His instinct to keep all supporters regardless of character supersedes any moral imperative.

Certainly, one could write a book about these first 259 days in office. I see this period as a steady decline of effectiveness and general support — and legitimate polls agree. Recently, I have been wondering whether the election of Trump represents a fate for the USA, like the fall of the Roman Empire. Avoiding this “fall” could be impeachment, but having Mike Pence as President could be worse, and the impeachment process is long and debilitating. What is already happening and may increase is to contrive legislation and a cabinet structure to contain and ignore Trump actions. But “containment” will not prevent the confusion and alienation caused by his Tweets and spontaneous utterances. Although disadvantageous in many ways, I do advocate impeachment.

Just in, as I am writing this blog! Relevant to USA downfall is more information on Russian ads that influenced the election. Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram all were used by Russians and all the CEO’s have attempted to suppress this info. Our survival is truly affected the influence of foreign powers. When will DT and Republicans awake and put our country on the right track?