Sunday, July 15, 2012

Don't Give Up

This past week I saw a tv show on the National Geographic channel. A guy videotaped himself walking alone across Antarctica to the South Pole - he wanted to break the record for this achievement. Did he beat the clock? Did he even make it all the way? Did he even survive? You'll have to see the show (or Google "Todd Carmichael"). But at one point he explains to us - i.e. the camera - why he's so determined not to give up. It seems his dad gave up on him twice - once, before he was born, when the dad walked out on the mother, because he couldn't deal with her pregnancy. And then, later, in some connection with our hero's actions that wasn't made entirely clear, the father committed suicide. With a gun. Heavy.

Another quest motivated by parental abandonment is that of the medical librarian and blogger Devera Kastner, "Healthy Librarian". The slides from a presentation she gave at the Centennial Conference of the Utah Library Association are available at

In the handout she reveals that her own quest was motivated by her parents' experiences in later life. As she describes it on her blog:

My dad survived a massive stroke at age 69, just as life was starting to get nice-and-easy for him. Both daughters were married, he could work less, and his first grandson (my now 30 year old son) was just 9 months old. Time for the travel my parents had always put off.

He lived on for 16 years after that initial stroke, until age 85, without being able to speak, read, or understand language--and reading was his joy--especially the New York Times. He lost mobility, and everything else that makes life worth living. My dad was kept alive by powerful anti-seizure medicines that prevented the severe seizures that were caused by the strokes' damage to his brain. Later, he was kept alive with the help of a feeding tube.

My mom lovingly and without a single complaint took care of my dad at home for over 10 years, seeing her own health decline, and her world close in. Care-giving stress brought her weight loss, friend-loss, and unknown to her at the time, she was having her own silent imperceptible micro-strokes, as well as angina, osteoporosis and high blood pressure. A year after my dad passed away those tiny strokes had started to take their toll on both her physical balance & memory. After a number of falls, bone fractures, and full-blown strokes she spent her last year in that wheelchair.

Ms. Kastner then paraphrases something Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn said to her:

"When people tell me my diet's extreme, or too strict, I ask them, 'How would you like to spend your last years in a nursing home, sitting in a wheelchair, incontinent, immobile, unaware, with saliva dribbling out of the side of your mouth?'"

Long before she met Esselstyn, she saw that happen. As she drily puts it on her presentation slide, "Not the retirement they expected."

Saturday, July 14, 2012

A plant-based, whole food, low-fat way of eating

"It's the food" -- John McDougall, M.D.

As has been said, one needs someone or something to love, something to do, and something to look forward to.  With regard to "something to do", in the last few weeks, as I accomplished one of my goals - to live long enough to receive Medicare - I've been thinking about what my "project" should be.  And now I think I've got it: To spread the gospel of plant-based eating (better for you, better for the animals, better for the planet) to a number of my actual or potential associates.  To do this, I will keep doing the "anarchy in action"/"social marketing" things which I've already begun (for example, I've given my pastor a copy of Dr. Neal Barnard's Program to Reverse Diabetes Now, and my older brother a copy of Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease: The Revolutionary, Scientifically Proven, Nutrition-Based Cure by Caldwell B. Esselstyn, M.D.)

I also intend to get involved in the "health ministry" of the parish I attend, although the details are still to be worked out.  Meanwhile, I am accumulating books and downloads, and reading in these, about "social marketing."  In the first flush of enthusiasm, I thought I might even pursue credentialing as a Certified Health Education Specialist.  I may (or possibly may not) already have enough applicable academic credits to sit for the exam.  As I think about it now, I wonder if the effort and money to get the CHES would be worthwhile.  If I intended to pursue a paid position, it would be a definite plus.  On the other hand, if I am going to be working as a volunteer advocate/activist/educator, there are better uses of my time.

Among these pursuits would be familiarizing myself more with the already existent programs of the major players currently active in this area:  in addition to McDougall, Barnard, and Esselstyn, these include Colin Campbell, Hans Diehl, Dean Ornish, John Robbins, and Joel Fuhrman.   How does one mobilize volunteers to get the most "bang for the buck" in something like this?  Is Kaiser Permanente (about to be my Medicare Advantage provider) doing something I can hook up with, piggyback on, participate in, or copy?  So many questions. 

Thursday, June 02, 2011


Over at some other blog, a couple of us (big picture, deep thought kind of guys, with a tendency to overdo the modesty and helpfulness) were talking about... the economist Kenneth Boulding ... a brilliant guy ... his spouse Elise ... it is a small little blurgworld indeed.

Elise Boulding wrote, in 1995, "Fred Polak was one of the first thinkers to call attention to the atrophy of our capacity to visualize a wholly different future. His Image for the Future (1953) was written for a Europe paralyzed by the experience of World War II. According to Polak, the human capacity to create mental images of the 'totally other' - that which has never been experienced or recorded - is the key dynamic of history. At every level of awareness, from the individual to the macrosocietal, imagery is continuously generated about the not-yet. Such imagery inspires our intentions, which then move us purposefully forward. Through daily choices of action, individuals, families, enterprises, communities, and nations move toward that which they imagine to be a desirable tomorrow.
"Polak points out, however, that historically alternating waves of optimism and pessimism about reality roll through time, as do alternative views about the end of the world. Sometimes humans are seen as partners with God or Nature, other times as helpless objects of supernatural action. In Polak's reading of history, optimism about reality combined with a utopian sense of human empowerment set in motion a powerful dynamic. Utopian optimism has characterized the Western worldview of recent centuries - but not of the last few decades. In eras when pessimism combines with a sense of cosmic helplessness, the quality of human intentionality declines and, with it, the quality of imagery of the not-yet. Societies in that condition live bounded by the present, with no social dynamic for change available to them. This is our situation in the post-World War II Western world.

"My own lifetime of 75 years, and my reading of history, has shown me over and over again that no matter how bad things are, the human race has been there before - been there, and found a way past destruction. It is finding the way past destruction that makes imaging so important."

For a limited time only, through a combination of circumstances that will not be repeated, you can download without charge Elise Boulding's translation and abridgement of Polak's book, albeit with frequent minor misspellings due to the OCR process.

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Monday, April 20, 2009

Against TPTB; Keep On Truckin'

Instead of TPTB [The Powers That Be], which has an ominous tone but lacks all specificity, I prefer MICFiC -

I ndustrial
C ongressional
Fi nancial
C orporate Media Complex

The first draft of Eisenhower's 1961 Farewell Address referred to the "military-industrial-congressional" complex, and I've made it more inclusive by adding the financial and corporate media wings.

Of course, from within the MICFiC (note the non-capitalized second "i" - it makes the graphic design of the acronym more interesting, as well as easier to say) it's quite clear that there are factions and struggles. However, from outside the MICFiC, the term promotes recognition of:

the aggregation of power

the use by this complex of the governing apparatus of the Republic to promote perpetual war preparations - and actual mass murder as often as possible

its purpose - to steal from the people using the tax system, and use them as raw material

its method of mind control - the mass media's constant distraction and disinformation - on one level, for one group of people, "The Price is Right" and "American Idol" - for another group of people, smooth-talking neoconservative paranoia via PBS and NPR

No one knows what will happen next - but I was impressed by something William Black (author of The Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One) said in his April 3, 2009 interview with Bill Moyers.

There's a saying that we [who were working on the Savings and Loan crisis] took great comfort in. It's actually by the Dutch, who were fighting this impossible war for independence against what was then the most powerful nation in the world, Spain. And their motto was, "It is not necessary to hope in order to persevere."

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Tuesday, April 07, 2009

April 11 - Assembling to Petition for a Redress of Grievances

On April 11, 2009. at 2 PM, in various cities across the U.S., groups of citizens will gather in opposition to bailouts putting the people as a whole into bondage to the big banksters.

The aims of "A New Way Forward" are:

NATIONALIZE: Experts agree on the means -- Insolvent banks that are too big to fail must incur a temporary FDIC intervention - no more blank check taxpayer handouts. (see Krugman on nationalization)

REORGANIZE: Current CEOs and board members must be removed and bonuses wiped out. The financial elite must share in the cost of what they have caused. (see Simon Johnson on reorganizing)

DECENTRALIZE: Banks must be broken up and sold back to the private market with strong, new regulatory and antitrust rules in place-- new banks, managed by new people. Any bank that's "too big to fail" means that it's too big for a free market to function.

Our plan: Real structural change of Wall Street

DECENTRALIZE: Any bank that's "too big to fail" means that it's too big for a free market to function. The financial corporations that caused this mess must be broken up and sold back to the private market with strong, new regulatory and antitrust rules in place -- new banks, managed by new people. An independent regulatory body must protect consumers from predatory practices.

As Wall St. corporations grew bigger and bigger until they were “too big to fail,” they also became so politically powerful that they led to distorted and unfair policies that served companies, not citizens.

Its not enough to try to patch up the current system. We demand serious reform that fixes the root problems in our political and economic system: excessive influence of banks, dangerous compensation systems, and massive consolidation. And we demand that the reform happen in an open and transparent manner.

Read more about what we want and can achieve and see our blog for more related information.

Also, see these three great economic interviews that can get you up to speed from Bill Moyers : Simon Johnson on the financial oligarchy, 2/13; William Greider on restructuring and ANWF rallies, 3/26; and William Black on financial fraud, 4/2.


Amendment I to the Constitution of the United States

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Is Barack Obama a Snake in the Grass?


I can see why those of us with limited perception (i.e., everyone, approximately) might think that Obama is a member in good standing of the War Party. He talks like one. They treat him like one. He has the endorsement of Colin Powell, you betcha.

But follow me through the steps of a Gedankenexperiment. Let us suppose Obama is dedicated to gaining power by any means necessary. Clearly, the road to the White House is barred to anyone who does not welcome the embrace of the MICFiC (military industrial congressional financial corporate media complex). Let us reduce our occupation force in Iraq, says Barack - so we can put more boots on the ground with guns in their hands pointed at the inhabitants of Afghanistan. This is just what a suitable prospective Commander in Chief in Charge of Killing Foreigners would say.

But although Obama says things like this with apparent sincerity, what if he's lying to us - for our own good? What if he really is a Christian - not a Christianist, like Gov. Palin, but someone who tries to live according to the teachings of Jesus?

Recall Matthew 10:16 - the King James Version, which some believe is what Jesus would have said, if English had been invented at the time, is:

"Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves."

As Brian said, "Blessed are the cheesemakers" - which should be understood to include all those involved in the production and distribution of dairy products.

On the other hand, maybe the following verse, following the format of Lewis Carroll's The Mad Gardener's Song, is a better prediction of the future:

She thought she saw a candidate
Who'd put an end to war.
She looked again, and found it was
The Same Game as Before.
"If that's the way it goes," she said,
"Then what is voting for?"

UPDATE April 6, 2009: Current evidence suggests that President Obama is in fact in sympathy with the prevailing views of the foreign policy and financier establishments. It's hard to make predictions, especially about the future, as famed sports figure Lawrence Berra has said.

Friday, October 10, 2008

We've come to a fork in the road - should we take it?

These days I go to various places for information on matters of political economy, and right now I regard RGE Monitor as a very useful source of information and commentary. It seems that the "improvement" of the Paulson "Cash for Trash" Bill during the legislative process included language which made taxpayer participation in the ownership of financial firms allowable, though not compulsory. Good. I think. Barack Obama (upon whom be peace) asked my congressperson to vote affirmatively on the measure that finally passed, and let's hope it all works out in the long run.

The big guys (finance ministers and central bankers of the G7) are meeting in DC this weekend, and the future's ahead.