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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.

 

124. The Man Who Would be King

19 Oct

The presidency of Trump has reminded me of a great movie: John Huston’sThe Man Who Would be King.” This 1975 movie starred Sean Connery and Michael Caine. From memory, the stars played the part of two former British soldiers that wandered into primitive Kafiristan around the year 1890 (I estimate). Their plan was to use their guns and knowledge to take over a small primitive country and become “kings.” After many adventures they were able to accomplish their goal. They were considered more than kings: the people worshiped them as gods. Their reign ends when one is wounded and the people see that he bleeds just like the villagers – not a god.

It seems that Trump has fallen into a similar role, and his loyal followers do worship him. They accept everything he says as the truth, no matter how absurd. He changes the details of historical events to support him and his ideas. He re-writes history. Several years ago, I wrote in a blog that this re-writing of history was his most dangerous trait. His revised version of history supports his actions so that he always appears right and people are happy to vote for him.

The big question facing our country is: how can we prove to Trump’s supporters that he is only a skillful con-man? Of course we could get lucky in a few weeks if the House turns Blue with majority Dems. This would slow down harmful legislation and radical conservative appointments. We would be able to convince our long-term allies that we are still with them. I have listed the dangers of Trump in previous blogs.

By the way, I highly recommend this movie to those that have not already seen it. It is a great adventure, with outstanding actors. It contains humor and is also thought-provoking. It also provides an appreciation of the times, places, and the societies.

123. Ford v. Kavanaugh * Revised

19 Sep

(Revisions are in blue)

As I was listening to commentators discussing the alleged sexual assault on Professor Christine B. Ford by Justice Brett Kavanaugh, in high school; I heard statements that I think need clarification. But before I begin, I must emphasize that rape (and attempted rape) is a serious crime, is never justified, and should be severely punished. I think that Prof. Ford should be taken very seriously and given a clear opportunity to make her case. Since I wrote the original, a date was set Monday 9-24-18 (a week later) when both parties could testify.  Dr. Ford has requested an FBI investigation before testifying.

Here are my thoughts about Ford vs. Kavanaugh.

First, the argument that holding back this issue was based on politics is not supported by any facts. Prof. Ford wanted to maintain her anonymity. She decided to come forward when her name was leaked. Also, Sen. Feinstein early on, sent information based on the  Ford letter to the FBI. The FBI confirmed this communication.

It is well-known that lie-detector tests are not 100% reliable, but could be used in conjunction with other evidence in a “hearing” (but not necessarily in a court). Prof. Ford passed a lie-detector test and that fact should be given some consideration.

An FBI investigation may sound like a good idea but could be a waste of taxpayer money. It is extremely unlikely that any physical evidence would be discovered, and testimony after all this time might never be fully trusted. If anyone else has information about this issue, the publicity about it would stimulate a response, if there were willing parties. That may have been that Ford’s original intent.  After further thought, I think it is possible that further testimony could be obtained. 

It is a valid argument that serious errors occurring in high-school should not be given great weight and should not ruin the rest of a person’s life. No “criminal” charges were made at the time. The issues of this controversy are difficult, and I can see both sides, and of course, I sympathize with Prof. Ford’s trauma, then and the death threats now.

Brett Kavanaugh’s friend in the room would have to deny what happened, or else he could be considered an accomplice. So his denial would be expected and not of relevance (not exculpatory). On the other hand, if he jumped on Kavanaugh to help Ford, then he should get some credit.

My tentative conclusion is that, so far, this particular case against Kavanaugh is compelling, but not conclusive.  I feel that there are better reasons, already elucidated in the hearings, for rejecting his appointment to the Supreme Court.

Revision added: Dr. Ford’s request for an FBI investigation supports her claim and the Republican refusal is further support for her. Generally speaking, a person who lies would not want to be questioned by the FBI.

(Revisions are in blue)

121. Democrats Do Have Important Messages.

10 Sep

Republicans love to claim that Democrats don’t have positive goals and they are only interested attacking Trump. For example, Sarah Sanders says they “have no message” and only want to “attack people that support this president.”

I have studied politics for many years and I find this assertion to be absurd. Democrats have always promoted the following themes (with a reasonable amount of variation). Here is my version of Democrat goals.

1. All Democrats support improved health care coverage for our citizens.

2. Social programs like Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, etc. have always been preserved and often improved by Democrats.

3. Democrats support the USA Constitution and traditional governmental institutions, including the FBI, DOJ, and all other executive branch agencies. They also support the authoritative press.

4. Democrats tend to promote the financial success of the middle class and discourage excessive and inappropriate financial support for wealthy people. Democrats favor fair tax programs and elimination of unnecessary subsidies for righ corporations.

5. Democrats believe in the importance of voting rights for everyone who is eligible. Laws that make it difficult for certain people (often low-income) to vote (voter suppression) must be changed.

6. Tax programs and other policies should be designed to increase average income for the non-rich (almost no change), while income has been steadily increasing for the wealthy.

7. Democrats traditionally support NATO and all of our other world-wide allies.

8. Our international trade policies should be designed to help our USA workers in terms of employment and improving their income.

9. Democrats are anti-torture, promote improved gun laws, and favor reproductive “choice.

10. Democrats promote inclusiveness, are against racism, defend the rights of lesbian, gay, and transgender people, and DACA (dreamers).

11. Democrats promote peaceful (and even generous) international relations and agree to war only in drastic situations.

12. Democrats support unions — the right to join them and organize.

13. Almost all Democrats accept American capitalism, but also believe in social programs and certain other limits. There is confusion over the word “socialism.” The few Dems that use this term actually mean support of “social programs” within a capitalistic system.

14. Democrats believe that campaign laws should emphasize equality; and those favoring the rich, like “Citizens United” should be abolished.

15. Democrats support efforts to combat climate change, regulate pollution, promote clean energy, and other efforts relevant to safety for our citizens.

16. Democrats generally support public education, more free education, and federal support for students.

A casual research of Democrat leader speeches and their websites will quickly show that there are many consistent messages and ideals.

In the past two years, Trump has purposely dominated the news with his outrageous tweets and policies so that many Democrat message are obscured. Trump has messages but they are extremely inconsistent, not factual, and change frequently. Most just serve his ego and many like “make America great again” are vague and meaningless. He attacks our basic institutions and our long-term vital allies, who are perplexed by his communications.

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.