Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Parable of Donating Blood: Are We Bleeding to Death?

I donate blood regularly, about 2 to 4 times a year.  Someone in need gets my blood in a potentially life saving procedure and I get the satisfaction of helping out.  Recently our local donation center has been calling more often asking for more frequent donations as there is a shortage of my blood type.  The limit is once every 8 weeks, enough time for the body to replenish the blood supply.

Imagine if the need for blood increased so that voluntary donations weren't enough.  All healthy people were required to give their blood.  At first it was only once a year.  Due to the abundance of blood, new cures are discovered requiring blood.  The increase in demand results in the need for two mandatory blood "donations" a year.  Then 3 a year. Then 4 a year.   Soon, every healthy person has to give blood every 8 weeks to keep up with demand.

The experts realize that we can actually give blood every 7 weeks and still be healthy.  Demand increases.  So they change it to every 6 weeks, then 5 weeks, 4, 3, 2...

The whole system becomes unsustainable as more and more donors become too sick to donate.

Does this sound unrealistic?

Yesterday, the headlines read "CBO report forecasts unsustainable debt in long term"

What does that mean?

Debt is like taking someone's blood.  You can't just keep doing it.

Our country used to sustain itself financially without an income tax (before the 16th Amendment in 1913).  The income tax was small at first (just 1%), but it has continually increased.  Then the revenues weren't enough for the demands of the nation, so we started going into debt.  Like the example of the blood donations, the amount of money being pulled out of our economy to pay for our debt will exceed the sustainable levels required for a healthy recovery.  In my opinion, this is the biggest threat that our country faces (more than climate change, immigration, terrorism, healthcare, etc.).  Are we bleeding to death?  We will if things don't change.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

I'm for Late Term Abortions

Recently Planned Parenthood was in the news for allegedly selling parts of aborted fetuses.  I decided to take the reemergence of this issue as an opportunity to express my views on abortion.

I'm pro-choice and I'm for late term abortions.  Actually, I think that late term abortions should be extended to 18 years.  Let me explain.

If a parent can decide if they don't want their child before they've even met him or her, then they should be allowed to make that decision after they've met the child removing all doubt that they don't want them (I know that's a run on sentence, but if you read it again, you'll get my point).  Some children are just difficult and not very likeable.  They're too much trouble.  Even into their teens.  Especially in their teens.  As long as a parent is legally responsible for the child, they should be able to abort them.

Before you object, consider the practical advantages to these later term abortions.  Parents would now have extra leverage when trying to discipline their children.  Imagine, these scenarios:

"Johnny, get your homework done or else we'll abort you!"

"You know why you don't see Sheila anymore?  It's because his parents aborted her.  That's right.  So eat your vegetables!"

Regarding both parents needing to give consent, I'll leave that to the abortion experts.  That's a controversial subject I just don't feel comfortable addressing since it is so sensitive.

If you think the idea of later term abortions is harsh, we could have a cooling off period before parents could act on it.  For example, if a parent wants to abort their child, they have to count to 10 before they can actually do it.

Just think about it, all these people probably would've been aborted, saving us much grief:
  • The person that cut you off on the road or took your parking place.
  • Those people that post those annoying "repost this or else" posts.
  • Bloggers (or at least anyone who started blogging after I did).
  • Greedy hedge fund, derivative trading, Wall Street tycoons (Or at least we could hope so!)
I'm sure there might be some potentially good children that get aborted, but that's a small cost at making the world a better place.  Any way you look at it, I'm just glad I'm over 18.


Wednesday, July 8, 2015

An Antidote for Intolerance

Intolerance unwillingness to accept views, beliefs, or behavior that differ from one's own 

I'm intolerant and I don't plan on changing.  There are some views, beliefs and behavior that I'm unwilling to accept, for example:

  • The view that America is NOT great (I think America is GREAT!)
  • The belief that you can continuously spend more than you make (I believe we must live within our means)
  • Behavior like abusing children (I love children and see our future in them).
My intolerance is usually directed at views/beliefs/behaviors that I deem to be harmful to our "general welfare" or way of life, therefore I feel justified in my intolerance.  "Save the Whales!!!" or whatever I feel passionate about.

The problem with "intolerance" is that being intolerant can drive you a little nuts.  We get heated, angry, mean, desperate when we express our intolerance.   Intolerance is more like a disease than a cure.

 I don't like the symptoms, so after some soul-searching, I think I found an "antidote". I'm not giving up intolerance, just trying to treat the side effects.

Antidote 
a medicine taken or given to counteract a particular poison. 

The antidote is partially inspired by a story from  "The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass".  As a slave, he was treated worse than a dog.  Frederick was very intolerant of slavery (unwilling to accept).  Then he got a new master.  The mistress was kind and began to teach him to read.  When the master found out, he immediately put a stop to the "learning".  Frederick's response was surprisingly: gratitude!  He was beginning to tolerate slavery, but this "set back" reminded him of his resolve to be a free man.  He then focused his attention on striving to be free.

The antidote is simple.  Whenever I feel the negative emotions associated with intolerance, I think "What behaviors of my own can I change?"  Am I spending too much time on the computer?  Am I eating the right things?  Am I treating those I interact with kindness and respect?  My intolerance of others will never change them or make the world a better place.  My intolerance of myself has a better chance of change for good.  This antidote takes the following quote to the next level: 
"He who is without sin... let him cast the first stone"
Let other's "sins" remind us of our own sins, so that we can take action to change, improve our own station and "be free men".
"Be the change you want to see in the World"  - Mahatma Gandhi


Monday, June 29, 2015

The Unsinkable Ship: When Things Go Right

I learned something interesting this last week. In 1911, a ship launched on its maiden voyage to much fanfare. It was much larger than any ship before her; the largest luxury ship in the world with a swimming pool, gymnasium, fine dining, a grand staircase and luxurious cabins for the first class passengers.  What was it?  No fair peaking at the photo on the right.

Did you say Titanic?  Sorry, that's wrong.  It's the Titanic's identical twin sister the Olympic[1].  What surprised me was that the Olympic's maiden voyage was nearly a year before the Titanic's maiden voyage.  She also had a career for 24 years!

How come I had never heard this before?  The answer is simple: when things go right, we don't pay attention to them.  Next time you feel overwhelmed by everything that goes wrong, stop and ponder on everything that goes right.  You'll be surprised.




Sunday, June 21, 2015

Dear Ben & Jerry's


Dear Ben & Jerry's,

We've had a lot of fun together with your cute names and crazy mix-in's.  Unfortunately, I never felt like I was getting enough.  Before you, I'd never bought just a pint of ice cream yet you cost as much as the larger sizes.  Still, you were just too good to say "no" to.  Until now.

I've met someone new. It was just last night, but I'm pretty sure I've found what was missing. I'm reminded of the rich, creamy ice cream I once had at a dairy. And even better, the container is half a gallon (twice as much!).

They don't have cute names for themselves and the brand name is kind of weird: Tillamook (Where did that come from?).  But I'm sorry to say that I think this is the kind of love that will last forever.



Saturday, June 6, 2015

Whoopi on the Duggars: Remember "Rape-Rape"?

On the View, Whoopi Goldberg called the Duggar family hypocrites since they call LGBT practices "sin" while their own son has a history of inappropriate sexual behavior.   This brings to mind Whoopi commenting on the Roman Polanski scandal.

Let's compare:

A teenage boy inappropriately touches girls, feels bad about it, confesses to his parents.  The parents, who have made their views on chastity very public, intervene resulting in changed behavior and healing for the victims.  (The Duggars)

A grown man, 43 years old, gives drugs to a 13 year old girl, then rapes her.  He confesses and before being sent to prison flees to a comfortable life in Europe.  (Roman Polanski)  When he is at risk three decades later of being extradited to the United States to face his conviction, Whoopi Goldberg defends him on The View, saying "It's not like it was rape-rape".

I really don't see hypocrisy for the Duggars or for Whoopi Goldberg.  In the Duggar's case, they consistently stand for traditional definition of chastity (see below).  In Whoopi's case, she consistently shows tolerance for many forms of sexual expression (including rape-rape, no definition available).

Definitely no hypocrisy, only a striking contrast between what two groups see as sexually normal.

Traditional Definition of Chastity (non-religious)

In spite of his modern reputation as being self-indulgent, Benjamin Franklin strived to build his character by systematically developing 13 Virtues.  One of these virtues,  Chastity, he defines as
"Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another's peace or reputation."
Venery is defined as "sexual indulgence".

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Species Diet

I came up with a diet called the Species diet.  With all the diets out there, why did I invent a new diet? It's because my whole life I've been a victim... of second hand dieting. From fake meat made with soy to brownies made with apple sauce.

What is a diet? The definition is "The kinds of food that a person eats". Our, in three words, "food people eat".

Why do we eat food? Imagine if your automobile used gasoline to create spare parts and put tread back on your tires. Besides providing raw energy, the gasoline would also need to provide raw materials.  It's the same with our bodies. We are continually regenerating cells, on average replacing our parts about every 7 years. We need food to do this. 

What if we could avoid the food provides the raw materials for the scars of life: wrinkles, gray hair, etc.?  Of course, that's a ridiculous idea.  However, that's what other diets are based on: the mistaken idea that you can be healthier by eliminating certain foods.

For example;
The paleo diet, don't eat grains, beans, peanuts
Atkins and South Beach - don't eat certain carbs
Vegan - don't eat meat or any animal protein
Jenny Craig - don't eat anything that Jenny Craig isn't selling.
Slimfast - don't eat anything that isn't a shake
Metafast - don't eat anything that resembles real food.

I say, forget all these restricting diets.

Remember the definition of diet: food people eat. There's a entirely different word for food you don't eat.  It's called Fasting. The definition of fasting is "To abstain from all or some kinds of food".  At least Slim-"fast" and Meta-"fast" got that right.

How do we make sure we get the raw materials we need?  In the early 19th century, William Prout, an English doctor and chemist identified the three principal constituents of food - pizza, diet coke, ... I mean protein, fat and carbohydrates.  Then Justus von Liebig, a German scientist added a couple of minerals and concocted the first baby formula. Babies fed exclusively on this first baby formula failed to thrive.

This is called the reductionist view of nutrition:  break food down into the chemical parts.  And it doesn't work.

To illustrate this problem, let's consider the menu with two choices:

Choice #1
Filet of beef/chicken/fish with
A side of Asparagus spears sauteed with roasted pecan nuts
Garlic mashed potatoes
A fresh bowl of cut strawberries, pineapple and mango.

Choice #2
Filet of protein with omega 3 fatty acids and essential amino acids
A side of carbohydrates high in fiber with folate, antioxidants sauteed with roasted betacarotenes and lutein
A fresh bowl of carbohydrates with magnesium, niacin, potassium.

Choice #1 is obviously more appetizing because it's food that comes from an animal or plant species. Each species is highly evolved. Plants collect nutrients with their roots and animals graze and forage. The result is tasty food.  The more species from which you get food, the greater the variety of nutrients. Thus the Species Diet.

What are the rules?
  1. You get a point for each species that you eat.  You decide when to reset your points. For me it's every day.
  2. If it's not a species, then it's zero points.  You decide what qualifies. For me, the species must be recognizable without reading a label.  You can still eat it, you just don't get points.
The goal is to get as many points as possible.

Example:
Breakfast: Bacon, eggs, orange (3 points)
Lunch: Apple, ham. Only 1 point since you have bacon (the same species) as ham.  

Does the species diet make any sense?
The focus is on eating unprocessed foods and the most points are available from eating fruits and vegetables since there aren't as many choices for meat. Makes sense to me.

In conclusion,
I may not be the most qualified person to invent a diet, but hopefully I convinced you that there it is a fun, healthy, non restricting way to eat. You can do it however you want. Just don't go crazy. Like the guy that tried to get points by eating a bald eagle. Of course, he got arrested and was convicted. At his sentencing, the judge said "I'm curious. What does a bald eagle taste like?" The man replied "a cross between a spotted owl and a California condor"