Archive for September 27th, 2010
Mark Zuckerberg is pulling Facebook into the spotlight. The Social Network, which premiers this week-end, depicts the founder as being untrustworthy. Despite this alleged lack of integrity, Mark Zuckerberg has risen in less than 2 years to the number 35 richest individual in Forbes, surpassing Steve Jobs. It is probably not coincidental that Zuckerberg just pledged $100 million to the worst school district in the US.
Is Facebook really magical or a myth?
Business Week/Bloomberg’s article, by Brad Stone, “Facebook Sells Your Friends” explores both possibilities.
The article reports that globally Facebook monthly unique visitors are 550 million and U.S. monthly unique visitors are up at 165 million.
Facebook’s U.S. unique visitor trend had stalled at about 110 million from December 2009 to February 2010. It’s growth to 165 million started when Facebook made everything you publish public (unless you “opt out”) and introduced the Like button on partner websites across the internet. We asked comScore if clicking the Like button on a Facebook partner site (which is automatically published on your Facebook page) counts you as a unique visitor even if you never directly access your page on facebook.com, but we haven’t received an answer yet.
But if 165 million people aren’t actually accessing their page, that may be why, according the article, ads on Facebook pages generate so few responses, or click throughs: “The average ad is clicked on by less than a tenth of a percent of the site’s users, according to advertisers and analysts, including Greg Sterling, a San Francisco-based Internet marketing consultant.”
This remarkably low response rate may be why, in the article, a small business owner can’t afford to continue using Facebook even if he thinks it is better than Google:
But it may be that a much larger marketing budget has the advantage on Facebook as well. For example, Nike’s World Cup “Write the Future” campaign, which represented probably over $300 million in league sponsorships and actual media investment:
Facebook is given undue credit for the success of the Nike’s World Cup campaign.
When there is the fan engagement of the World Cup event, the appeal of the talent in the ads which Nike pays enormous amounts of money to have access to, the reach of Nike’s television advertising, and the entertainment value of Nike’s creative, Facebook may give a marketer a chance to actually see and measure the “water cooler” multiplier effect of those combined assets, for “a few million dollars”.
Clearly this “case study” is hardly replicable by almost anyone else, especially small to medium sized businesses. Whatever Facebook’s multiplier effect , it only creates value if there’s something to multiply.
At the WARC Future of Advertising Research conference, “Ernie Kim, senior VP at Synovate, said that online channels’ effectiveness is… often overestimated”. This article entitled: “Researchers Warn on Media Measurement” goes on to recommend the importance of studying the impact of marketing mix. Certainly the use and timing of different media channels can alter the impact of any one medium’s performance.
Instead of encouraging media to fight each other over the shrinking advertising pie, by building a case that one medium is better than another, the brands and the media companies may find mutual benefit by identifying how one medium can multiply the response rate of another. Once a new higher benchmark is established, then the individual media would be motivated to collaborate with each other to continue to find new highs.
This would be much more productive than motivating the creation of myths to cover up new lows in response rates.
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In the day-to-day news about trade problems with China the bigger picture can get lost. America is giving up its competitive position in industries of the present and future and it is costing us. Even the people you would think would defend “free trade” are coming to understand that America is losing its vital ability to invent, keep and create industries and jobs and to keep a modern economy humming.
Robert J Samuelson has a significant op-ed today in the Washington Post, The makings of a trade war with China in which he says we need to confront China’s illegal trade manipulations. You should read the whole thing but here are excerpts,
It’s not just Samuelson concluding that we need to confront China’s cheating on trade. Many others have been weighing in that we are losing too much and have to take steps. For example, in July Andy Grove, Intel’s influential former CEO published a very important opinion piece on a similar topic, How to Make an American Job Before It’s Too Late. Grove wrote that we are not just losing jobs to China, we are losing the “chain of experience” that enables new companies and industries to form and to create new jobs and argues for a national economic strategy to preserve our manufacturing and technology base. (These are excerpts but Grove’s entire piece is an absolute must-read.)
You could say, as many do, that shipping jobs overseas is no big deal because the high-value work — and much of the profits — remain in the U.S. That may well be so. But what kind of a society are we going to have if it consists of highly paid people doing high-value-added work — and masses of unemployed?
…evidence stares at us from the performance of several Asian countries in the past few decades. These countries seem to understand that job creation must be the No. 1 objective of state economic policy. The government plays a strategic role in setting the priorities and arraying the forces and organization necessary to achieve this goal.
Grove also says that we need to fix this and fix the unemployment problem for other reasons as well,
Unemployment is corrosive. If what I’m suggesting sounds protectionist, so be it.
One after another our business leaders and economists are realizing that the “free trade” ideology has not worked out very well for us. We were told by the “experts” that moving our factories out of the country was a good idea, that new jobs would replace those lost. They didn’t. We were told that we don’t need or want a national strategy to be competitive in the world because an invisible hand would guide us. It didn’t. We were told that trade “partners” would reciprocate by buying from us equally. They didn’t. We were told that we would invent new industries to replace ones we lost. We did, but the new industries moved or are moving out of the country, too.
Now that we are in the midst of the resulting crisis even the “experts” are realizing that trade needs to be a two-way street for it to work, and it hasn’t been. “Free trade” was supposed to be a panacea, bringing us a prosperous future. The reality was different. A few corporate leaders (the ones who promoted these ideas) have gotten really, really rich at the expense of the rest of us (and that includes other corporations and corporate leaders). Now that the beneficiaries of the “free trade’ bamboozlement are off to their private islands in their private jets or private yachts the rest of us are looking around at the devastation of our economy and standard of living, wondering what to do and finally becoming aware that rigid ideologies and their enforcers have kept us from looking for practical solutions that actually work for all of us as a country and community.
So finally from the depth of the resulting crisis a rational national discussion may be beginning, one in which people on the “free trade’ side are not able to just shut down different opinions by shouting “protectionist” or other slogans. As this discussion gets underway here are three principles to help guide us:
1)Let’s drop ideological preconceptions and look at what has worked in history and what is working for other countries today. Science is supposed to DEscribe, but economics has too often been about “if only people would do such-and-such, so-and-so would result.” That is PREscribing and is not science.
2)We have to talk about how we handle mercantilist nations like China who are not playing by the trade rules and what we, together as a nation, can do about it. Let’s also talk about and multinational reactions to the mercantilists. We can join with countries interested in lifting each other with fair trade, interested in trade models that help us mutually lift each other, and together take on those who want it all for themselves.
3)Ultimately we can’t all export our way out of this mess. And ultimately we can’t return to unsustainable old economic models that have failed us over and over. We can’t continue with a few taking as much as they can get at the expense of the rest of us. As machines and technology solve more of our problems and do more of our work our overpopulated, undereducated world has to come to grips with equitable models for who gets what for what and how to take care of our planet and each other. That is the only thing that will work in the long run.
This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture as part of the Making It In America project. I am a Fellow with CAF.
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In one of his books of humor, Woody Allen wrote of his long-term battle with technology. If memory serves, he describes how he invited all of his appliances into the living room where everything started out civilly enough until the TV acted up and then the toaster and then the oven. Before he knew it, he was at war with these machines.
I too, like many a Diaspora Jew, have had my clashes with technology. At our first Chanukah/Christmas together, my wife, Barbara, who had no money, pawned her late husband’s guitars to buy me a high-quality camera because she thought that the reason why I used the disposable kind was because I could not afford anything fancier. In fact, I used disposable cameras because they were and are easy to work. When Barbara found out that I could afford to buy a nice camera but that I was a technophobe, she and I had a chuckle. It was a moment worthy of O. Henry.
I don’t know whatever happened to that camera. Like a lot of gadgets in our house, it got lost under piles of bills, clothing and books. This is not my wife’s doing. It is mine. Like many people suffering from mental illness, I hoard miscellaneous items and rarely organize the mess that lies scattered through our office.
Recently, however, my step-daughter Jane unearthed an iPod which she bought me for my birthday last year. It has been a revelation for me.
In an act of foresight and wisdom, Jane and her boyfriend, Nick, programmed not only Stones albums, they also added some Bob Dylan tunes.
I had been in a rut when I turned on the iPod and found that it was playing songs in a randomized sequence. This was a blessing because previously when I was listening to Hot Rocks (sides three and four on the vinyl version), I would get mad at myself if, after “Jumping Jack Flash” or “Street Fighting Man,” I hadn’t reached a certain intersection in the hills I climb behind my house.
By stumbling inadvertently upon the shuffle songs feature, I no longer had to worry about how fast I was hiking because I did not know what songs would come on next and thus had no sense of how far I needed to be at the end of each tune.
The next morning when I tried playing the iPod, it had reverted to the non-randomized, regular rotation of songs on Hot Rocks. Much as I love that double-album, one of the best compilations of rock and roll one will ever hear, I wanted to be surprised by the music, to be surprised by what awaited me on my journey.
Indeed, I was reluctant to go on my hike without the randomized sequence. I was losing my motivation about exercising, something I need to do every day to help me ward off major depression, when I started pressing the menu key. After tapping it a few times, I discovered the feature I was seeking. I touched the screen, and “Tumbling Dice,” one of my favorite songs and an adrenaline rush from Exile on Main Street, started playing. I immediately put on my earphones, excused myself from my wife, and headed out the door for my afternoon constitutional.
As I have written before, Shylock may be damned more than anything else by his lack of an ear for music. For the rest of us, music can propel us forward, can mitigate depression, but I have learned that when I exercise I never want my ear to get too accustomed to the pattern of songs. I like the element of surprise, especially when it can relieve me of guilt at the pace at which I am walking, which is moderate at best.
Climbing the hills, which is far more aerobic than walking on the flats, and listening to the mixture of Stones and Dylan tunes gets my neurons going and allows me to stop worrying about technology and all else that ails me. When I finish the hike, I feel motivated to clean up the office, to have a discussion with my appliances, and most of all, to read the newspapers, another sign that my mental health is improving.
By Peter Costantini ~ Seattle
My most recent piece on Haiti for Inter Press Service, “Hurricanes and the River Flowing” (http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=52872), covers the work of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations with farmers and government agencies in the area around Marigot on the southeast coast of the country. It describes two projects, one upstream and one downstream, that seek to ameliorate the effects of hurricanes and other causes of erosion and flooding on agriculture and fisheries.
Recently le Nouvelliste, Haiti’s oldest newspaper, has also devoted considerable attention to agricultural issues.
On September 10, Jean-Max St-Fleur published a story about a meeting of farmers, also in the Marigot area, with the non-governmental organizations Oxfam and SUCO to discuss local agricultural issues. St-Fleur looks at the forms of support offered by these organizations that allow farmers to continue working their land, rather than leaving for the cities or other countries.
(French translation follows)
A point of support for farmers
By Jean-Max St-Fleur – le Nouvelliste – September 10, 2010
Perhaps some farmers would not have abandoned their plots of land to swell the slums of the capital or to risk their life on the high seas if they had the means to make a better living from agricultural production. Just a point of support, which some local and international organizations provide, might have revived their strength and given them the desire to continue to fill their barns.
Nearly 50 farmers from different districts and corners of the Southeast department (county) of Haiti that met on September 2 at Belle-Roche, in the district of Marigot, to thank and also to present their grievances to representatives of Oxfam and the Canadian organization SUCO, who were visiting the area.
Among the producers sitting patiently under the fruit trees was Jean-Marc Clestin, president of KIBWO, a Marigot peasant association. Clestin, in his 60s and somewhat weakened by work and illness for some time, seemed visibly encouraged to roll up his sleeves to cultivate the earth. Speaking for his group, he expressed his gratitude to the agronomists of the Project in Support of Restarting National Agricultural Production and Growth of Food Security (PARPANASA is its French acronym), inaugurated by Oxfam in six departments of the country, for their support of the communities in the Jacmel region.
“They built more than 260 metres of irrigation canals to water our farmlands. And thanks to the banana plants, potato cuttings, compost and fertilizer that they provided to us, our harvests have been more bountiful over the past few years,” recalled Mr. Clestin.
Above all, it’s the backing that he and his colleagues received after the drama of January 12 that he seemed to take most to heart. “After the earthquake, we didn’t know what to do with our harvests. There were practically no markets for them because the roads to the production zones were cut. The Oxfam technicians helped us then to sell our perishable crops,” he explained.
Full article (in French only): http://www.lenouvelliste.com/article.php?PubID=1&ArticleID=83436
(Translation by Peter Costantini)
Comment va-t-on les garder sur la ferme?
Ma pice la plus rcente pour Inter Press Service, Les cyclones et les flux de la rivire (en anglais seulement – http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=52872), s’agit des travaux de l’Organisation de l’Alimentation et l’Agriculture de l’Organisation des Nations Unies avec les agriculteurs et des agences du gouvernement de la rgion de Marigot sur la cte sud-est d’Hati. Je dcris deux projets, un amont et l’autre aval, qui cherchent attnuer les effets des cyclones et autres causes de l’rosion et les inondations sur l’agriculture et la pche.
Rcemment le Nouvelliste, le plus ancien journal hatien, a galement consacr de l’attention considrable des questions agricoles.
Le 10 septembre, Jean-Max St-Fleur a publi un article sur une runion des agriculteurs, aussi dans la zone de Marigot, avec les organisations non gouvernementales Oxfam et SUCO pour discuter des questions agricoles locales. St-Fleur se penche sur les formes de soutien offerts par ces organismes qui permettent aux agriculteurs de continuer de travailler leurs terres, plutt que de les quitter les pour migrer aux villes ou l’tranger.
(Traduction par Peter Costantini)
Un point d’appui aux agriculteurs
Par Jean-Max St-Fleur – le Nouvelliste – 10 septembre 2010
Certains agriculteurs n’auraient peut-tre pas abandonn leur lopin de terre pour venir gonfler les bidonvilles de la capitale ou risquer leur vie en haute mer pour migrer ailleurs s’ils avaient les moyens de valoriser leurs productions. Juste un point d’appui, comme le font certaines organisations locales et internationales, pourrait raviver leur force et leur donner le got de continuer grossir le grenier agricole.
Hati: Ils taient prs d’une cinquantaine d’agriculteurs venus de diffrentes communes et recoins du dpartement du Sud-Est se rassembler, le 2 septembre dernier, Belle-Roche, une localit de Marigot pour remercier et aussi prsenter leurs dolances aux quelques reprsentants d’Oxfam et de l’organisme canadien SUCO en visite dans la commune.
Parmi ces cultivateurs, assis patiemment sous des arbres fruitiers, Jean-Marc Clestin, prsident de KIBWO, une association paysanne de Marigot. Le sexagnaire, quoique affaibli par la fatigue des champs et la maladie depuis quelque temps, parat visiblement motiv retrousser ses manches pour cultiver la terre. Prenant la parole au nom des siens, il a exprim sa gratitude aux ingnieurs agronomes du Projet d’appui la relance de production agricole nationale et l’accroissement de la scurit alimentaire, PARPANASA , mis en uvre par Oxfam dans six dpartements du pays, pour leur support la communaut jacmlienne.
Ils ont irrigu plus de 260 mtres de canaux pour l’arrosage de nos terres agricoles. Et, grce des plants de bananes, de boutures de patates, de composts et d’engrais qu’ils nous fournissaient, nos rcoltes ont t fructueuses au cours de ces dernires annes , se rappelle M. Clestin.
C’est surtout le support qu’il a eu, lui et ses collgues, aprs le drame du 12 janvier, qu’il semble le tenir le plus cur. Aprs le sisme, nous ne savions que faire de nos rcoltes. Il n’y avait pratiquement plus de marchs o les couler, car les routes menant aux zones de production taient coupes. Les techniciens d’Oxfam nous ont alors aids vendre nos productions qui prissaient , explique-t-il.
Lire l’article entier : http://www.lenouvelliste.com/article.php?PubID=1&ArticleID=83436
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Atheism is a peculiarly modern phenomenon. Why do modern conditions produce atheism? Does this mean that religion is on the way out?
First, as to the distribution of atheism in the world, an instructive pattern emerges. In sub-Saharan Africa there is almost no atheism.1 Belief in God declines in more developed countries and atheism is concentrated in Europe in countries such as Sweden (64% nonbelievers), Denmark (48%), France (44%) and Germany (42%). In contrast, the incidence of atheism in most sub-Saharan countries is below 1%. (The U.S. is more religious than other developed countries with only about one person in eight expressing disbelief).
The question of why economically developed countries turn to atheism has been batted around by anthropologists for about eighty years. Anthropologist James Fraser proposed that scientific prediction and control of nature supplants religion as a means of controlling uncertainty in our lives. This hunch is supported by data showing that the more educated countries have higher levels of non-belief and there are strong correlations between atheism and intelligence.
Atheists are more likely to be college-educated people who live in cities and they are highly concentrated in the social democracies of Europe. Atheism thus blossoms amid affluence where most people feel economically secure. But why?
It seems that people turn to religion as a salve for the difficulties and uncertainties of their lives.2 In social democracies, there is less fear and uncertainty about the future because social welfare programs provide a safety net and better health care means that fewer people can expect to die young. People who are less vulnerable to the hostile forces of nature feel more in control of their lives and less in need of religion.
In addition to being the opium of the people (as Karl Marx contemptuously phrased it), religion may also promote fertility, particularly by promoting marriage.3 Large families are preferred in agricultural countries as a source of free labor. In developed “atheist” countries, women have exceptionally small families and do not need religion helping them to raise large families.
Even the psychological functions of religion face stiff competition today. When people experience psychological difficulties they turn to their doctor, psychologist, or psychiatrist. They want a scientific fix and prefer the real psychotropic medicines dished out by physicians to the metaphorical opiates offered by religion.
Moreover, sport psychologists find that spectatorship yields much the same kind of social, and spiritual, benefits as people obtain from church membership. Precisely the same argument can be made for other forms of entertainment with which spectators become deeply involved. Indeed, organized religion is striking back by trying to compete in popular media, such as televangelism and Christian rock and by hosting live secular entertainment in church.
The reasons that churches lose ground in developed countries can be summarized in market terms. First, with better science, and with government safety nets, and smaller families, there is less fear and uncertainty in daily life and hence less of a market for religion. At the same time many alternative products are being offered, such as psychotropic medicines and electronic entertainment that have fewer strings attached.
The market has spoken. It is predicting more empty pews but only in developed countries. Religious belief continues unabated among poor countries. Ironically, these are the places with the highest fertility so that the number of religious people on the planet will increase along with the population explosion.
In the end, though, as African countries develop, they will become as godless as Europe.
Ultimately, organized religion is on the way out. The only thing that could prevent this from happening would be a sharp decline in global standards of living. That would require some form of ecological collapse. Think a very large asteroid, a very nasty epidemic, extreme global warming, or derivatives traders rum amok.
1. Zuckerman, P. (2007). Atheism: Contemporary numbers and patterns. In M. Martin (ed.), The Cambridge companion to atheism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. This book is not held by any U.S. Library.
2. Barber, N. (in press). A cross-national test of the uncertainty hypothesis of religious belief. Cross-Cultural Research.
3. Sanderson, S. K. (2008). Adaptation, evolution, and religion. Religion, 38, 141-156.
In his new book out today, Obama’s Wars, Bob Woodward quotes President Obama as telling Defense Secretary Gates and Secretary of State Clinton, “I’m not spending a trillion dollars” in Afghanistan. But guess what? The United States has already spent or committed a third of that $1 trillion on Afghanistan before Obama and his generals have launched their major offensive in the country with almost 100,000 U.S. troops.
The dollars spent or committed to combat terrorism since the attack on the United States by four hijacked airliners on Sept. 11, 2001, have been tracked down and added up in a report just is- sued by the Congressional Research Service. The total through the Pentagon’s FY10 supplemental comes to $1.12 trillion, according to CRS, with no end in sight.
To date, the CRS report by Amy Belasco figures the extra, or “incremental,” cost of adding the burden of fighting terrorists on top of what the U.S. military was already doing before 9/11 comes to $750.8 billion for Iraq and $336 billion for Afghanistan. Another $28.5 billion went for making it harder for terrorists to attack us, while $5.5 billion in the new CRS report is listed as “unallocated.”
The $750 billion tally for Iraq by the nonpartisan CRS makes the Bush administration bean counters and policy makers look like fools.
Larry Lindsey, President George W. Bush’s economic adviser and head of the National Economic Council, estimated the Iraq war would cost $200 billion. Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld ridiculed that estimate as “baloney.”
He and Mitch Daniels, Bush’s OMB director, figured the Iraq war would cost between $50 billion and $60 billion. Rumsfeld’s deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, went so far as to say that Iraq’s oil revenues would finance much of the reconstruction. That would be wrong, wrong, and more wrong.
So bear those predictions in mind when you hear officials estimating the total cost of the war in Afghanistan that Obama has embraced. The Woodward book makes Obama sound like a president who wants to hurry up and Afghanize the war and get U.S. troops the hell out of there as soon as possible.
President Richard Nixon tried to Vietnamize his war and failed. Obama’s field commander, Gen. David Petraeus, sounds like he wants to fight terrorists forever in Afghanistan and every place else in the world. Woodward quotes Petraeus as saying this about Afghanistan: “You have to recognize that I don’t think you win this war. I think you keep fighting. You have to stay after it. This is the kind of fight we’re in for the rest of our lives and probably our kids’ lives.” In short, there is no light at the end of Petraeus’ tunnel.
The upcoming midterm elections should tell us whether the voters stand with Obama or Petraeus on Afghanistan.
Substitute the word Afghanistan for Iraq and what Joint Economic Committee Vice Chairman Sen. Charles Schumer, D- N.Y., said back on Feb. 28, 2008, will be tested in November: “It’s becoming clear to all Americans — Republicans, Democrats and independents — that by continuing to spend huge amounts in Iraq, we’re prevented from spending on important goals and vital needs here at home. The backbreaking costs of this war to American families, the federal budget and the entire economy are beyond measure in many ways, and it’s becoming the first thing after the loss of life that people think about and talk about.”
Congress, which so far has given presidents Bush and Obama almost all the money they asked for to wage the Global War on Terror, can be fickle if it decides a war has become more drag than lift politically.
The lawmakers gave President Lyndon Johnson and then Nixon almost every dollar they asked for to wage the Vietnam War and then turned off the money spigot. This past could be prologue for Obama if the war continues to go badly in Afghanistan and American voters sense their dollars are doing little more than making corrupt Afghan leaders richer.
But no matter which political party prevails in the elections, there is another cost elephant in the nation’s living room.
This is the cost of treating the visible and invisible wounds of the veterans who are fighting these wars. House Veterans Af- fairs Chairman Bob Filner is among those in Congress who have looked at the tidal wave of bills about to crash over us and re- coiled in horror.
Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz and co-author Linda Bilmes in their book The Three Trillion Dollar War write that “the Pentagon keeps two sets of book[s]. The first is the official casualty list posted on the Defense Department website. The second, hard-to-find set of data is available only on a different website and can be obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. This data shows that the total number of soldiers who have been wounded, injured or suffered from disease is double the number wounded in combat.”
The authors assert that this second list can be “tied directly to service in the war,” thus pushing up the tidal wave of veterans’ bills Filner and other lawmakers are already worried about to new heights.
I’m no lawyer.
I’m just a fashion editor. And while we may not be the first to spot a good liar, we sure can spot good style. And no one, but no one, makes a stronger style statement than Bishop Eddie Long. The leader of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, an Atlanta-area mega-church with over 25,000 members, has a penchant for bad toupee’s and good clothes. Really, really good clothes. He’s also – allegedly – got a penchant for young men. At least that’s what his accusers, all four of them (and counting) are saying.
By now, you know who they are: Maurice Robinson, Anthony Flagg, Jamal Parris and Spencer LeGrande, all of whom have brought civil suits against Long. They assert the preacher seduced them with toys, trips and of course, some pretty pricey threads. But were these the lures of a sexual predator or the rewards of a loving spiritual father?
Based on Long’s sermon this past Sunday, that still remains unclear. As he preached to a packed house, all Long would say in direct reference to the case was, “I have never in my life portrayed myself as a perfect man. But I am not the man that’s being portrayed on the television.” But if Long’s verbal message was vague, his sartorial one was crystal clear.
Dressed in a pristine, floor skimming, figure hugging, light-hued pastoral gown, Long looked every inch the part of a strong and pure man of God. The ensemble, from cut to color, was a classic one in Long’s formal wear line up. From professional milestones (officiating the funeral of Coretta Scott King, with three former and one sitting president in the audience) to personal ones (a commemorative portrait of Long and his wife) he clearly favors pastel tones and formal shapes.
On any given Sunday though, Long opts for different colors: rich browns, deep navy’s or bold black’s. His most signature color though is in fact, a print: a wide pinstripe similar to the flamboyant Zoot suits favored during the Harlem Renaissance.
No matter the color, Long seems to be keen on a standard cut: jackets that are wide and loose in the shoulders, cinched in the waist that hit mid-thigh. On the bottom, he loves suit pants that are roomy, but still retain a dignified shape. Almost every piece is accented with a vest, Oxford or pocket square as crisp in color as they are in cut.
To further underscore the importance of his suits, look no further than his minimal accessories: lux watches and shoes which, while befitting a man who drives a $350,000 Bentley, are never flashy affairs that compete with his apparel.
If his wardrobe in the pulpit is predictable, his sartorial choices outside of it aren’t. In the few photos of of a more casual Long that litter the Internet, it is very apparent that he is an exercise buff. A news clip of him in a tracksuit hint that he might have a workout wardrobe as collated — and curated — as his preaching one.
That hint was proven true when suggestive, self-portraits of a remarkably buff Bishop surfaced. They showed Long, primping and preening in flimsy muscle shirts that hugged every ripple in the fifty-seven year-old’s startlingly chiseled physique. Clearly he makes room in his closet for bold pops of color and silhouette’s that are more street-wear, or as a critic has described, “homo-thug” inspired.
The cumulative weight of these individual style choices amass to a man who knows how to manipulate his wardrobe — if not little boys and an entire congregation. His choices are carefully curated to craft the image he wants in each moment: innocent man of God one day, built, sexual symbol the next.
But boxy silhouettes, fancy fabrics and smart color choices aside, Long’s style choices ascribe to him one surprising attribute: modesty. Ultimately, he is a man who at times shows off, but generally camouflages an amazing — if top-heavy — physique. He’s learned what the best dressers of our time know: clothes can play up your best features — or hide a multitude of sins.
Zandile Blay is founder of The Blay Report. Read her daily blog posts online. </
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At the 2010 Clinton Global Initiative held last week in New York City, I interviewed Gabriele Zedlmayer, Vice President for Global Social Innovation at Hewlett-Packard, on HP’s social impact portfolio, philosophy, and vision for the years to come.
What brings you to the 2010 Clinton Global Initiative?
It is a fantastic forum to meet with a lot of our partners. I think in our space, social innovation, one of the keys to success is the partners that you have. There’s no way a technology company or any other company can make a difference on their own and can really make a sustainable and scalable difference on their own. So, to understand issues, to understand people’s needs, to understand how you scale something globally, you need partners that have different capabilities.
We’ve had a lot of meetings today and we will have a lot of meetings tomorrow and throughout the next few days to discuss, first of all what’s already ongoing, as we just had a meeting with National Lab Day. We had a big launch last week with them as their back to school line launched to specifically address the STEM [science, technology, engineering and math] issues in the United States. We had 60 to 70 kids there in the afternoon. We had a lot of our researchers and engineers there, folks that are really good about bringing STEM to life, because at HP they use this technology, even nanotechnology, and bring it to some real use. It’s important to show these kids, talk to these kids, stimulate these kids, and do some experiments with these kids. We were talking with them today about doing road shows that we can take throughout the country because this is a very local thing. You need to make sure that the schools are there, that the parents are there, that the government representatives are there. So this is just one example.
We’re also meeting with the Clinton Health Access Initiative. We’re going to launch a big project with them in the October timeframe on early infant diagnosis. So we’re meeting with a lot of partners here and this is a great platform for us.
How does the social mission fit into the business model or strategy of HP, and how do these missions intersect?
Global citizenship at large has been one of our key objectives for over 50 years. And I think that’s very, very important to say because some companies have just discovered that in the last 10 years as they were dealing with risk mitigation and all of a sudden, global citizenship, oh, we’ve got to be in this space. For HP it’s been something that was in the DNA of the founders, Bill and Dave. They had social engagements the first year that they started the company. That’s very important.
By making sure it’s one of our seven business objectives, we also make sure it’s not like here is HP, and global citizenship sits on the side. It has to be intrinsic to everything that we do. It’s also why we don’t have a separate global citizenship team. We have a council that consists of people from everywhere in the company that comes together and says, “This is how we’re going to do the business.” It’s not about what we want to achieve; this is about how we’re going to achieve it. And so the Chief Ethics Officer, the Privacy Officer, Environmental Officer, Social Innovation, supply chain, HR, we all come together, and discuss how we do the business. We identify issues, risks, challenges, opportunities and work on them together. And so it is very close to the heart of the company.
How does HP define “global citizenship” and what does this notion encompass?
We think about not just what we want to achieve, but how. So you think about the methodologies of how you do it and we take a look at, for, example, what are the key differentiators? 20 years ago, if you already said that environment is going to be a key issue, and it’s going to be something that everybody will talk about, then it will be central to every discussion because resources are going to become scarce. So, 20 years ago, we already started to recycle, to design for environment, to introduce a lot of environmental practices that no other company had at the time. So thinking about how you do things and trying to be ahead of the curve. In social innovation also we’re saying, we want to return to these communities, but we don’t want to just give them a check and have them deploy because then we don’t really know, have we really made an impact? Have we really made a difference?
We have over 300,000 employees at HP. We have a portfolio and technology that is unmatched by any other company in the industry. So if you think of the capabilities that we have, that we can bring to the table, we can do a whole lot more than just giving out a check. When I started to lead this team a year ago, I said, “let’s think about how we can bring our technology to social conscious”. Something that we commercially sell, successfully sell, and bringing it into those social causes, so the first thing we did was get with well respected partners, identify the needs, and then work with them on making a difference. And that’s really what encompasses global citizenship. To do things right and for people to know, also every employee that joins the company needs to understand how we do things and what we value and what we don’t value, and so that people understand that if you don’t value the same things, then basically this is not the company for you.
Do you divide the work into sectors such as health, education, and the environment? Or how do you choose the kinds of projects to work on?
So if I take a look at my own areas, I’m responsible for social innovation. We took a look at where can we play and make the biggest difference. We get requests every day from many, many different people and institutions and it can range from the arts, to music, to museums, to hospitals, to many others. We took a look at the technology that we have, the biggest societal needs, and the millennium development goals, and we said, we could make the biggest impact for mankind in education and health…
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first run at thenation.com
It started as the British Empire Games in 1930. It still begins with an official message from the Queen that travels by hand from Buckingham Palace. It still culminates with a tribute to the British Military that would put the old Red Square parades to shame. It is the Commonwealth Games (CWG) and its goal from the outset has been to use sports to create goodwill between the United Kingdom and the various outposts of ye olde empire.
As the Reverend Astley Cooper first proposed in 1891, a “Pan-Britannic-Pan-Anglican Contest and Festival every four years [could act as] a means of increasing the goodwill and good understanding of the British Empire.” Today this sporting festival involves 71 countries and a series of games that spring from the UK like lawn bowling, rugby seven, and netball.
I don’t know if the CWG has created goodwill, but as the 2010 Games are set to start in Delhi, we are getting a very good understanding of empire, at least the 21st century variant. The games are teetering on an unprecedented implosion and the problem is not just that India, a country where 46% of the children are underweight, is spending $2.5 billion on athletic facilities alone. The problem is not just that India, a country where 42% of the people live under the World Bank poverty line of $1.25 a day, promised $100,000 to every country’s delegation to secure the games (what is called in less refined circles “a bribe.”) And the problem is not just that this state of affairs raises the question about whether India, with all it’s nouveau economic might, should be playing footstool for the inert Queen’s “Empire Games.”
The games might not go on because the CWG facilities built at great economic and social cost have been flagged as a serious health hazard. In preparing the various arenas, dozens of workers have been grievously injured in accidents due to faulty materials and equipment. This week alone a ceiling collapsed at the weightlifting venue and a bridge crumbled outside the main staging ground, Nehru Stadium, injuring 27.
Commonwealth Games President, Michael Fennell, expressed in writing his “great concern” over the current situation. “Many nations that have already sent their advanced parties to set up within the village have made it abundantly clear that, as of the afternoon of Sept. 20, the Commonwealth Games village is seriously compromised,” he said.
Mike Hooper, the CWG chief executive, sniffed, “the village is filthy… one can’t occupy the rooms. There is building dust and rubble and the toilets are not working. Reports of excrement being found are true….[It's not fit] for human habitation.”
The chairperson of the Commonwealth Games Council for Wales, Anne Ellis, raised the unprecedented prospect of canceling it altogether. [We will see how London handles the 2012 Olympics for example, and recoil anew without the comfort of xenophobia.]
There is more than a little dollop of paternalistic racism in CWG officials’ assessments of Delhi.
The critiques that matter, though, come from inside of India where the Commonweath Games are called the “Corporate Wealth Games.” Currently, India is suffering through one of the worst ever outbreaks of Dengue Fever, which spreads through mosquitoes, exacerbated from a particularly harsh monsoon season. Pranav Jani, an American professor living in Delhi, wrote, “many are saying [the outbreak comes is due] to the massive digging and construction from the upcoming CWG.” You will hear CWG officials complain about Dengue. You will hear athletes raise it as a health concern and decline to compete. But you won’t hear their complicity.
Regardless, if the CWG bureaucrats want to vacate responsibility for the state of affairs every day, the Indian press discusses the problems in grand detail. This is the first time India has ever aimed to host an event of this magnitude. The country’s leaders are aiming to accomplish what China did with the 2008 Olympics, South Africa with the 2010 World Cup, and what Brazil hopes to do with the 2016 Olympics — namely, demonstrate that they are willing to and pull out all the stops to raise their international prestige at put on a good show.
There is a reason why the so called BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China) are the 21st century hosts for these elaborate sporting spectacles. One reason is that they are willing to do whatever it takes to make the games happen. That means repression. That means massive debt-public works projects. In China, we saw the price of this, with two million people displaced from Beijing. In South Africa, a million-strong public sector strikes mark the hangover after the party. In Brazil, a police helicopter was shot down over the favelas, in October 2009, just south west of an Olympic Zone. In Athens, before the 2004 games, anywhere between 40 and 150 construction workers died as the International Olympic Committee deadlines hovered.
In India, we see similar stories, As Ravi Chaudhary reported, “On the 7th of July 2010, during work hours, a government funded demolition team took bulldozers to the Yamuna Khada school (funded by donations) in order for it to be ruthlessly demolished. Those who attended and worked at the school were given three hours to vacate the property with no alternative. Police were present along with the construction teams and were seen destroying whatever could be demolished by hand in order to put fear into local residents. Many were removed with physical force.”
And yet, the world has looked away, because the trains have always run on time; to put it another way, the games went off without a hitch and the body count was ignored. Just as in 1968 in Mexico City, when hundreds of students and workers were killed before the games and the world looked away, it is seen by organizers as a plus — not a minus — that such extreme prejudice can be introduced with impunity. In India, we are seeing how this process of rapid-fire development on the quick has crossed the line that divides the development from the spectacle. Now not only are dissidents and workers endangered, the athletes themselves are imperiled as well. For the first time since World War II, the show may not go on. But this time, the war is the show and the show is the war.
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A US judge has declared a mistrial for reggae star Buju Banton, accused last year of conspiring to buy cocaine from an undercover police officer.
Jurors in the US state of Florida were unable to reach a verdict.
The four-time Grammy nominee may be re-tried in December. A defence lawyer asked he be freed on a bond.
Banton, a Jamaican national, maintained he had been entrapped by a paid police informant whom he believed had music industry connections.
During the four-day trial which ended last week, prosecutors played audio recordings in which Banton, whose real name is Mark Myrie, and the informant discussed drugs, ideas for shipping drugs, and dollar amounts. Prosecutors said the tapes showed Banton wanted to finance drug deals.
The 37-year-old performer testified he only talked about drugs with the informant in order to impress him. Questioned by Banton's lawyer, the informant, Alexander Johnson, acknowledged Banton had never given him money.
“The government tried to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt, and they did not do it,” Banton lawyer David Markus told the Associated Press news agency.
Banton has been jailed since 10 December.
In 2004, Banton was banned from performing at a gig in Manchester after protests about his allegedly homophobic lyrics, which are often used in the genre of dancehall music.
The work of becoming a prolific writer — someone who writes easily and quickly, and has fun while doing it — is the work of managing your moment-by-moment experience of your writing. Writing is one of those activities that looks easy, but really isn’t. Besides the basic intellectual challenge, writing is also an act of self-exposure, and often to critical or harsh audiences.
Add to that, that people bring their own conflicts, ambivalence and baggage to their writing. Most of us have absorbed messages from oppressive parents, teachers, bosses or others that they are failures or have no business expressing themselves. (“Who do you think you are?” is a common refrain.)
All this, combined with perfectionism, overidentification with one’s work, and other dysfunctional attitudes, results in a whopping case of fear of failure, which should more properly be called terror of failure. We procrastinate not just to avoid the terrifying possibility of failure (if you don’t finish, you won’t be judged, after all), but to escape the fear and anxiety surrounding the act of writing itself.
The wrong way to handle all this is to try to bully yourself to write through the terror, a la: “What’s wrong with you? Writing is easy! This project is easy! You’ve got a new computer! (Or, new office / babysitter / etc.) So get to it! Why are you so lazy? Where’s your commitment? Frank finished his novel in a eight months, and here it is three years and you’re still at it…” This approach is doomed to failure because it misdiagnoses the problem, which is laziness and lack of commitment, rather than fear. It also undermines you, and more specifically exacerbates your procrastination problem by creating more fear.
The right way to boost your writing productivity is to: (a) minimize your fears by moderating or eliminating their causes, and (b) build your capacity to cope with the remaining fears and anxieties, moment by moment, as you write. Here’s how:
1) Minimizing the causes of fear
Journal them out. Take a few hours, or a few days — however long you need — and really write out all your fears, concerns and anxieties around writing in general, and your current writing project in particular. Do this via free-writing, without paying attention to spelling, grammar, etc. Just get it all out in as much detail and depth as possible. Don’t leave anything out and (especially) don’t censor.
You will probably come up with a surprisingly long list of barriers to productivity, including:
conflicts about yourself as a writer
conflicts over the project
conflicts over your school or workplace (including teacher / boss)
resource deficiencies (inadequate time, energy, privacy, information, infrastructure or support)
distractions (by personal, family or global problems). Of course, you can also be distracted by good stuff: love; a boisterous, happy family or social life; school; activism; a day job you enjoy. Time management is essential for helping you balance all these.
unresolved core issues (illness, depression, anxiety, depression or serious relationship or personal problems)
Wow! So many things that can interfere with our ability to write! When compiling your list, don’t settle for generalities: get as specific and concrete as possible about your particular obstacle or barrier. It’s in the specifics that we’ll find solutions.
If you look at your list objectively and without reflexive self-blame or shame, you will probably notice that every cause on it is reasonable. The causes of procrastination are always logical and reasonable, even if procrastination itself is a suboptimal response to them.
The good news is that simply writing out the list will probably help alleviate some of the fears, since naming a fear is often enough to alleviate it. In other cases, the problem, once examined in the absence of shame, will solve itself:
“Not enough privacy? Hmmm. I guess I’ll take over the guest bedroom for my writing room, and stop writing on the desk in the living room. That room just sits there empty most of the time anyway.”"Not enough time? Hmmm. I guess I’ll call up some friends and see if we can trade some babysitting time, or if they can take the kids to school.” Or, “I’ll hire help or ask the family to pitch in more around the house.”
Other problems won’t be so easily solved, but you’ll be a whole lot closer to solving them after having characterized them so minutely. Now you can call in help: not just from family and friends, but other writers, mentors, and professionals such as therapists or coaches.
2) Building your coping capacity, and writing endurance
Having “exorcised” at least some of your fears, and made plans for addressing the remainder, it’s time to practice writing fearlessly. Get a timer — such as this one or any kitchen timer and set it for 5 minutes.
To be clear: you are writing on your desired project but in a “free-writing” kind of way. Your goal is not for any specific result — and especially not to “write something good” — but to simply put in your time: write uninterruptedly without getting derailed by fear or distraction.
You work on the “low-hanging fruit” — the easiest or most accessible part of the project. It’s also okay to do some note-taking, organizing or outlining related to the project. No research, though: you need to be writing, not reading, during this time.
When the timer dings, you stop, stand up for a good stretch, and give yourself rewards. (If you don’t make it through the entire five minutes, try again later at two minutes.) A reward can be an actual physical reward — a cookie, bubble bath, or promise to yourself to buy that new DVD. But you should also practice rewarding yourself with lavish feelings of honestly-won pride and self-satisfaction, two emotions most writers do not experience nearly enough. They’re important because they help reinforce your achievement, and combat perfectionism.
The perfectionist in you might say, “Five minutes! That’s trivial. And you think you deserve a reward? Give me a break. How are you ever going to finish writing five minutes a day! And what you wrote was crap!” Etc. etc. That is the voice of your fears, and it’s telling you these things in a desperate effort to get you to stop writing.
Never listen to that voice. (And the desperation, by the way, is a sign you’re making progress — so congratulations!) If you want, you can dialog with it compassionately via journaling, reassuring the frightened part of yourself that it will all be okay. Eventually, as you learn to stop burdening your work with unreasonable expectations, the voice will go away.
Only when you are completed rested and relaxed should you reset the timer and start over. You might, in fact, want to wait for tomorrow. Never push your productivity, because doing so will only increase the pressure and consequent fear, which is obviously counterproductive. Remember: the thing you’re writing might be intellectually and emotionally challenging, but the act of putting words on paper or screen should never in itself be emotionally difficult.
After you can securely handle five minutes of non-fearful, non-judgmental writing, you can increase the timer to eight or ten minutes. And then fifteen, twenty, thirty, an hour, three hours. As you progress, watch out for, and learn to accept, the inevitable plateaus and backsliding. If you find yourself struggling, set the timer for fewer minutes.
What I’ve described in this article is the process of becoming prolific, which is really the process of getting rid of barriers and blocks so you can reclaim the fulfillment and joy you once felt, perhaps in childhood, when writing. Back then, the product (i.e., what you wrote) didn’t matter so much, and it shouldn’t now.
Prolificness is sublime, and I wish you good luck in getting there.
We’ve been hearing a lot lately about the importance of securing the swing votes of “Walmart Moms” and mommy bloggers. Apparently, we have replaced soccer moms as the important demographic to capture. As go mommies, so goes the nation.
And being that we are mommy bloggers, we were thrilled to hear that we hold the reins of destiny and control the future of our nation. It makes us feel powerful and significant and windblown. But also slightly confused. Primarily because most moms we know are so overworked and exhausted that they can’t control the next time they’ll be able to return an email, use the bathroom or eat a meal. That’s the key to understanding Moms: we simultaneously control everything and nothing.
We’re a little bit concerned about who has bestowed us with the power to drive the result of this year’s elections. Though, come to think of it, it shouldn’t be that much of a surprise. After all, we drive everything else. The powers that be should consider that though we are intelligent, practical, multitasking machines of efficiency — weeks may go by when we are completely oblivious to important world events. We can do six hours of work in the fifty-nine minutes the the baby naps, but don’t ask us what Rahm Emanuel’s imminent departure means for the President’s domestic policy agenda. All you’re going to get is blinking while we mentally compose our grocery lists and contemplate how little that has to do with our lives.
Come to think of it, maybe this is exactly why we should be the important swing votes. We keep all the trains running on time. We keep everyone fed, dressed and wiped. Without us, the world might fall over and deflate. So, to our potential leaders out there, let us tell you a few things you need to know in order to win the mommy blogger vote. Let’s start with a discussion of the basics.
Things We Can All Agree Are Bad: Sex offenders, terrorists, cancer and Dora the Explorer.
Things We Can All Agree Are Good: Caffeinated beverages, silence, Jon Hamm and wine in a box.
Here are some platform issues you might want to consider that speak specifically to us and our concerns:
Health Care: Two words, my friends: Eradicate. Headlice. If you think this is a joke, you have never gotten that call from the school. The one that ends with you slamming the phone down and saying things that cause you to empty your wallet into the curse jar. Followed by the scratching that never ends.
Economics: We wish we had more money, too. One solution we are not considering is borrowing money from the same people who think extra lead paint in vitamins, formula and kids’ toys is a swell idea.
Education: There needs to be good and safe schools. Because if schools are not good and safe, then kids need to stay home or attend horrifically expensive private schools. Horrifically expensive is not in the 2010 budget. That leaves us one option of all kids, all the time. And that leaves these mommies at the nervous hospital. No one wants that. That’s lose/lose.
Taxes: We used to be full time moms who also went to work at an office, where we earned something called a salary. When we got paid, the government got paid. Now we just work one job at home that functions on a 24 hour cycle, where we get no sick leave or vacation, earn nothing and every April, you send us a check.
Foreign Policy: We have completely different political affiliations, but neither of us likes that man from Iran who never wears a tie, even at very important meetings. The following conversation illustrates:
Lydia: I don’t like that guy Anck-Su-Namun or however you say it.
Kate: Uuhh , Lydia …it’s Ahmadinejad.
Lydia: Whatever. Look, I’m pretty sure he was the mulch-throwing kid when he was seven. So, obviously mulch throwing kids with names of mummies turn out to be bad–
Kate: Gawd! Did you even SEE the movie? The mummy’s name was Imhotep; Anck-Su-Namun was the pharoah’s wife and Imhotep’s girlfriend. They murdered the pharaoh and got cursed for all eternity, remember?
Lydia: I think you just made my argument for me.
If you are clever political operatives, you will figure out how to earn our votes. And failing that, you will strategically organize a wide-spread lice outbreak, confirming that all mothers of school-age children will be unable to vote — as we’ll all be standing in line at Walmart buying fine tooth combs, anti-nit treatments and boxes of wine. And we don’t recall anti-nit treatments having a place in the discussion on health care reform.
Deep into a journey on the evening of the last full moon, between theta and delta, I heard, “melt into eternal uni-verse,” and then, “deus factus sum.” Later I woke in the night saying aloud, “a beautiful aspect of nonduality is the rebirth of duality.” What occurs in the nonlinear dream state, or in a deep meditative state, can be marvelously indescribable, and the actuality of the divine, inexpressible anyhow. But the point, prehension, and then all that is experiential brings growth, pain and so MUCH BEAUTY. So when I awoke, there was the moon, reflecting the unseen sun so brightly, showing the rabbit and the man and so clearly that eternal self beyond myself that’s throughout all Self.
The perception of time is a functioning product, an evolutionarily emergent, an aspect of the linear organizing format of the mind — for survival purposes in THIS relative life. So then, the human death is not as tragic as not being reborn. And there I am, there you are, there it is — the glorious rebirth of it all, right there in the light of the moon; death and rebirth on a moment-to-moment basis. Like that part in Magnificent about following the light of the star — it’s the organ to help you get lost, just lost enough to be re-found … it’s that phone call from God.
An ironic aspect of the cognitive mind lies in wanting to “grasp” something that is beyond its capacity to completely “grasp.” It’s like an awesome machine, so powerful yet limited in expanse — a map revealing portals, requiring off-road after entry. Touch all existence by letting it fill you, but since you’re an aspect of it, that’s not possible. So you fill it — and then it’s one and the same.
Consciousness precedes reality. The material world is manifest out of singular consciousness, nondual suchness, it evolves … and then transcends again. The physicality of existence is only one aspect of manifestation — and there it is hinting at what’s beyond and throughout, right there in the deep purple of a petal, the dark blue of the vast ocean, the electrical connection in an open, smiling eye — right there in the moonlight. Even the representational symbols of physics can carry the mind way beyond the perceivable world, but conveying the celestial, majestic and eternal vastness that is altogether ineffable — that’s the undertaking of the transrational artist and versifier; transmitting via poetic expression, filmmaking, painting … or just being one’s ridiculous self.
I sleep from about 12 to 5, but I woke in the middle of the night, seeing myself writing, and here I am … in the moonlight.
“A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.” ~Oscar Wilde
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“Big Love,” about a fictional man and his three beautiful wives, piqued our interests and our curiosity about polygamy. Now there is the TLC reality show “Sister-Wives” about a man and his three wives living in a plural marriage and, while the Brown family is not nearly as interesting nor as likable as the fictional Bill Hendrickson family in “Big Love,” the curious will tune in to see this real-life family dynamic of one man and his wives.
Men in traditional marriages may at first smile at the fantasy of “three women all wanting me!” but reality sets in and they imagine the financial and emotional stress of having more than one wife at the same time in their lives on a daily basis. Wives in a one-on-one marriage, on the other hand, feel that having to share their man sexually, emotionally and financially, is something relegated to purely ancient patriarchal societies. Yet the curiosity about polygamous marriages remains. Why would anyone enter into a plural union?
Polygamy as a form of marriage has been around for a long time. To be sure polygamy is mentioned in the books of many world religions and still practiced in some countries as both a custom and a religious belief. In ancient times, it was a practice that was not only for religious purposes but political ones as well. It helped to connect tribes and dynasties through marriages in the hope that a man might think twice before attacking the lands of his in-laws, many though he may have. On a purely practical reason it was seen as insurance that a man would have children. Death in childbirth for both mother and child was a terrible reality and a man’s chances for fatherhood were better if he had more than one wife.
It was an accepted form of marriage by members of the Church of Latter Day Saints, also known as Mormons, in the United States until 1890, when it was outlawed. It is still practiced today, albeit illegally, by some who have broken away from the main body of the church. Please note that polygamy is not sanctioned nor condoned by the Church of Latter Day Saints.
Since most couples, men and women, find a polygamous relationship strange to say the least, there is still the curiosity about how and why some people would even want to live this type of life. Why a man would want to have more than one spouse and why a woman would be content to be a sister-wife.
While I have written about the many types of marriages that couples enter into (love marriages, mature marriages, gay marriages, second marriages, arranged marriages, sexless marriages, etc.), I am hard pressed to find something that most of us would see as beneficial in a plural marriage.
To me, marriage means love between one woman and one man. I want the commitment between us to be based on love. I want to love and be loved by one man and to know that I am the only one cuddling up to my husband at night. I want to feel that I am the only woman in his heart and in his arms, on his mind, and in his life. I do not want to share him.
To be even more honest I would say that I don’t know if I could live with other women as a “sister-wife” sharing everything and one man. For me personally, it simply would not work.
But, to be fair as a lifestyle writer, I must state that I was not raised to believe that polygamy is an acceptable form of a marital union. I was raised to see marriage as a way of expressing love between two people, and two people only, one husband and one wife.
Anyone not born into a certain way of life has a difficult time understanding what they consider strange traditions. This is especially true when it comes to religions. The great Native American of the Nez Perce tribe, Chief Joseph, said, “It is easy to laugh at what you don’t understand.”
That may be true but still some serious questions about the polygamous life need to be asked:
Is polygamy beneficial to all parties concerned?
Is it detrimental to women, causing an inequality in the marriage dynamics?
Can it perpetuate forms of abuse?
Besides having been raised in an environment and religious belief system where polygamy is as accepted as a family dinner on Sunday, why would anyone else choose this form of marriage?
The laws of most western countries state that a polygamous union is illegal and will prosecute against those who are in plural marriages, yet the practice persists.
While the premise of the TLC show is interesting, with the family trying to make us believe that polygamy is as normal as apple pie, it does not show the reality of plural marriages as it is behind closed doors. All marriages, whether two spouses or plural, do not show their darker sides in public.
The idea of having one person love you and you loving that person in return is simple. There is a charm and sweetness in that phrase, “we two are now one.” I can’t see sharing that phrase with anyone else.
To read more from Kristen Houghton, peruse her articles at Kristen Houghton.com and visit her Keys to Happiness blog.
And Then I’ll Be Happy! Look Inside the Book
Copyright 2010 Kristen Houghton
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I live in Putnam County, New York. Although we don’t know for sure, Putnam County, and the town of Putnam Valley, seem to have provided the inspiration for the hit Broadway musical The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Certainly, the play’s hodgepodge of liberals and conservatives, city folk and farmers, gay dads and workaholic parents, reflects this place well. We are rural and urban, Republican and Democrat, working class and upper crust and everything in between.
Putnam has long been a “purple” part of the country — neither red nor blue, but somewhere in between. Generally, the county votes Republican, but there are often exceptions, and the Republicans we elect tend to be of the now-endangered, Northeastern variety: heavy on fiscal conservatism, light on hot-button social issues.
The Tea Party has taken over the Republican side of Putnam County’s upcoming elections, and given the county’s overall political proclivities — and, more importantly — its continued economic woes — they might well represent us in Congress and the New York State Senate. This would be a disaster, and out of character for the place I am proud to call home.
In New York’s 19th Congressional District race, two-term incumbent John Hall faces a challenge from Tea-Party-anointee (and recent Club for Growth heroine) Nan Hayworth. Hall is a pro-Iraq-war, anti-Ground-Zero-mosque moderate — he’s even earned the ire of many progressives. He embodies the responsible, moderate “sanity” than Jon Stewart’s minions are marching for in Washington.
Hayworth, in contrast, is a cookie-cutter Tea Party pseudo-libertarian. Her talking points are straight from the national strategy desk: Glenn Beck’s rhetoric of patriotism and limited government, Sarah Palin’s homey amateurism, and wild exaggerations of the evils of health care reform and other “nationalized” programs. Her platform is cookie-cutter as well: lowering the “oppressive, enterprise-killing taxation” (translation: lower taxes on the richest Americans — including, in Hayworth’s case, eliminating the Alternative Minimum Tax), “reform” of social security (i.e., mandatory IRA’s, which everyone knows are meant to replace, not reform, the existing system), increasing domestic oil production (read: more BP spills in the gulf, more drilling in Alaska), anti-immigration measures, and so on.
For Putnam County, these are truly radical positions. Eliminating the estate tax without any upper limit, replacing social security with IRA’s… these play well in the Tea Party’s extremist backyards, but they have no place in the land of Rockefeller Republicanism. (It’s interesting that Hayworth’s website states no positions whatsoever on social issues — would she let the Spelling Bee’s two dads marry, or not?)
Unsurprisingly, the far-right Club for Growth has made Hayworth’s election one of their top priorities. They know they’ve got Southern suburban districts in their pocket — but here’s a chance to have an ultra-libertarian extremist represent a bunch of moderates, people who would just as soon vote Democrat or Republican. C4G, the Tea Party and other pseudo-populist national organizations are capitalizing on voter anger to put a radical into office — someone my friends and neighbors would never ordinarily elect.
The same thing is happening in my local state senate race. Our longtime state senator, Republican power-broker Vinnie Leibell, is retiring to run for Putnam County Executive, leaving the seat vacant. In the Republican senate primary, Tea Party clone Greg Ball trounced the more establishment candidate, Mary Beth Murphy (whom he ludicrously dubbed “Tax-and-Spend Murphy” and accused of having a “pro-tax, pro-death, pro-illegal alien, and anti-second amendment record”). In the general election, he faces Mike Kaplowitz, a veteran Westchester councilman. Kaplowitz is a Democrat, but you wouldn’t know it from his campaign literature, which is positioning him as Tea-Party-lite (“Fiercely Independent. Fiscally Conservative.”). This, of course, is the same strategy that has failed every Democrat who’s tried it.
As in the congressional race, voters are primed to elect someone far to the right of their usual political leanings. Ball’s rhetoric, like Hayworth’s, is straight from Fox News. “Quite frankly I will make it my objective to cut the tentacles of government off at every turn,” he recently told the Putnam County News and Recorder. “Government is not the solution, it is the problem, and while a transparent and responsive government may be directed to do good things, if left unchecked, it will always result in oppression, tyranny and eventually, societal and economic decline.”
This kind of strident Beckism flies in the face of generations of northeastern reasonableness. Yes, Albany really is a broken political machine. But sending a would-be libertarian ideologue there isn’t republicanism — it’s a temper tantrum. (The New York State Senate districts have been so hopelessly gerrymandered that no Democrat is likely to win my district unless the Republican professes beliefs in witchcraft and mice with human brains.)
The worst of it is that, as Bill Clinton remarked on This Week, we are in a “fact-free period.” Hayworth criticizes John Hall for supporting TARP, even though it was originally a Republican idea, cooked up by free-marketeers. Greg Ball calls Kaplowitz a government insider, even though it’s Ball who served in the New York State Assembly. And of course, blaming the Democrats and overblown government for the deregulation-created economic crisis is like blaming the firefighters for the fire. Three decades of letting Wall Street play with matches caused this blaze. And now we’re electing more lighters.
I understand the feelings of rage and helplessness that go along with a prolonged recession. Unemployment in Putnam County is actually among the lowest in the region — but it’s still 6.4 percent, up from 3.6 percent in 2008. And that hurts a lot of people. Yet what’s happened to my hometown is a disgrace to the moderation that used to mark our entire part of the country. An angry, vengeful fringe has taken over the Republican party, and if the polls are correct, their minions will soon represent me in Albany and Washington. The only silver lining is that they’ll probably be just as ineffective as the angry, vengeful Republicans were back in 1994, when Newt Gingrich swept into power and accomplished very little. At least, I hope so.
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Twenty months after my son Krishu was born, my wife Candice granted me a ten-day furlough to travel to Italy to embark on an arduous bike trip through the Dolomite Mountains. It was one of those big boy fantasy camps I’d been prepping for for several months along with a group of fellow enthusiasts from the neighborhood. Suddenly I’d become a fan of previously alien sporting events like the Tour de Santa Barbara. My closet was full of garish jerseys crammed with US Postal and Radio Shack logos. Lance Armstrong sat alongside Tom Brady and Big Papi in my personal pantheon of Sports heroes. Early morning rides through the canyons around our Southern Californian home, exotic protein shakes morning, noon, and night, elaborate supplements that would make ARod blush – they’d all been part of a Herculean training regiment to insure that this blessed trip away from the rigid rigors of raising an infant boy would be everything it possibly could be.
Don’t get me wrong: becoming a father was the best thing that ever happened to me. It was a never-ending revelation in just how great life could be. Every day, looking at my little happy healthy boy, I realized just how blessed I was. Cue the rest of the clichs. I’d been converted by my kid.
Still, over the last few months as my identity slowly recalibrated itself into father first and everything else second, a small part of me bristled. Whereas I once was a total guy-on-the-go – as a former journalist and war correspondent, I was accustomed to dashing to crazy places wherever news broke with no notice and still held onto that bravado – those moments were now a very distant memory. In reality these days my life was regulated beyond compare. And I do mean, regulated. Candice and I were in the early days of potty training Krishu. Even a continent away, a whistle seemed to sound in my consciousness every 20 minutes, the interval at which we hustled him to his potty chair to take his best shot (literally). If anything, I was determined to exorcise this wretched (mental) routine from my awareness over the next ten days that I was away.
Just after our group arrived at the charming hotel that would serve as our home base for the first few days of the trip, I got on the phone with Candice to let her know where I was. I described the long drive from Milan we’d just endured – the scenic mountains, winding roads, tiny little villages along the way, many more of which we’d be riding through once we mounted our bikes the following morning.
“Are you nervous about the ride?” She inquired.
“Apparently we shouldn’t be talking about it,” I informed her. These had been the explicit instructions of our local guide, a former pro biker who over the course of our long drive had emerged to me as a cross between Lance Armstrong, my father Deepak Chopra, and Chief Seattle.
“Just focus on the road beneath you.”
“Now is the only moment that matters.”
“Hear only the wind as it rushes by you.”
“Seriously?” she said. I could picture her brow furrowed. “Why?”
“Makes the ride impossible or something. I don’t know,” I shook my head. “Biker-speak.”
“It makes sense, actually” Candice agreed.
“Really?” I was the one grimacing now. “Since when did you become Alberto Contador?”
“Nothing,” I shook my head. “More biker-speak.”
She laughed. “I don’t know. Focus on the race, not the finish line. Sounds like a Nike commercial or something.”
I changed the subject. “How’s the boy?”
“Good,” she replied. “Entertaining his grandmother.”
For the week that I was away, Candice’s mother had traveled from her home in Atlanta to lend Candice a helping hand. More than anything, waipo (the Chinese term by which Krishu referred to his maternal grandmother) was his long lost play pal. She indulged him far more than anyone else, thereby instantly becoming his favorite person in the house. He ordered her around, demanding foods on off-hours – cereal at night, sandwiches in the morning – as if to test her boundaries and find his own. As waipo didn’t set any on him, his instinctively anarchic spirit reigned supreme and he absolutely loved it.
This of course ran quite contrary to the potty training adventure we were on. All of Candice’s numerous parenting books had been consulted and they all agreed, the more we could add structure around Krishu’s life, create a reliable routine for him and a set of expectations for him to rely on, the smoother the process should go. So had started Krishu’s cultural indoctrination (via potty training) into the ways of our world.
Early on he seemed to take to the new regiment, happy to park it on his little plastic potty chair as long as one of us was willing to sit alongside him and read him a story. He even managed to deliver the goods once or twice in the first week, earning accolades from various family members with whom we shared the joyous news. Except for my sister of course whose memories of potty training weren’t as distant as many of the others. “Don’t get over excited,” she warned. “It’ll get a lot messier before it gets cleaner.”
Sure enough, those initial successful deposits into the potty chair set us on a dangerous path of false expectations. The bar had been set too high and Candice and I became convinced that what all the books said was a process that would take months and was inevitably fraught with setbacks would take our metabolic boy-genius just days to master. Alas it was as if Krishu sensed it and all of a sudden his defiance of us kicked in. He had no real interest in our desire to assimilate him in a world where potties were deposited in some strange porcelain throne and flushed away. He was perfectly happy with the current system where he’d do his business whenever and wherever he needed to and we’d clean up after him. Since birth it had worked out just fine for him. Not to mention the fact that we seemed perfectly happy doing it for Cleo the family dog, so why the sudden change in behavior? Was it part of some overall plot to alter his comfortable life? To slyly draw him in to some scheme that would unsteady the decidedly stable foundation on which he existed? No thank you – he was just fine with the status quo.
CONTINUE READING AT INTENT.COM!
Gotham Chopra is a writer, filmmaker, and entrepreneur. His latest book Walking Wisdom, 3 Generations, 2 Dogs, and the Search for a Happy Life will be published by Hyperion books on October 5th, 2010.
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I feel like the woman who’s been burned in the singles scene too many times and finally goes on an extended break. No, I’m still happily married and monogamous–my betrayals have been not in the bedroom, but the family room, where my TV has let me down and left me in the lurch once too often.
I’m talking about the relationship I’ve carved with new dramas that seduce me with their pilots and then, just when the bonding becomes intimate, get canceled and disappear with nary a nod to the investment I’ve made and the secrets still unshared. Sure, once in a while they wear out their welcome (“24″), or, after years of loyalty, sorely disappoint (“Lost”); but the majority are yanked out of my life right after the third date.
“Vanished” fascinated me with its shady characters and its intriguing mystery of the sudden disappearance of a politician’s wife. “Traveler’s” college students’ journey down the rabbit hole had me on the edge of my chair, wondering whose heads would roll from the Queen of Hearts. “Flash Forward” stimulated me with science and lavished me with classic tragedy and epic romance. “The Nine,” “4400,” the list goes on…
And yet, they all abandoned me in the end, or, frustratingly, before the end. “Vanished” vanished, leaving plot threads hanging, or worse, wrapped up incomprehensibly. “Flash Forward” had fantastic episodes, but was lacking in the prescience to arrange for a denouement before cancellation. “Traveler’s” creator was kind enough to post some of his plans for future years on the web, but still left us tortured with unanswered questions. (Though we do owe him a debt of gratitude for releasing Matt Bomer for “White Collar.”)
And now, with the launch of the fall season, there’s a new rou on our TV screens. No, I wasn’t talking about Matt Bomer, but NBC’s “The Event.” Its come-hither advertising is accompanied by a promise that plot machinations for the series have been laid out for five years. Trouble is, I’m not nave enough any more to believe there’s a good chance “The Event” will stand by me that long. I’ve learned my lesson. Show, show me you won’t dump me first, and then I’ll buy your season one through five DVDs.
Frankly, “Traveler’s” DiGilio may have touched on a possible solution. With my busy schedule, I most enjoy stand-alone episodes that I can watch when I have time. If I am going to commit to a series with a progressing story arc, then please sign my pre-nup that you won’t run off without fulfilling your obligations. I understand that networks are loath to spend more money filming more episodes that don’t bring in ratings or advertising dollars. What I’m suggesting is that every story arc series come with a contract for an inexpensive book–an e-book if you have to–that finally, and fully, wraps up the plot threads and character arcs if the show is canceled prematurely. Sure, only a million or so of us lovesick fans are still waiting by the “phone,” but, heck, a million sales for an e-book is good geld for producers and writers, and allow us some closure and a civilized chance to say goodbye.
Books based on successful TV series have sold well for decades. “Star Trek,” “Psych,” and “Monk” are also winners in your local bookstore. Even Jessica Fletcher lives on in new “Murder She Wrote” adventures penned with veteran author Donald Bain. So, let’s see the novelizations of “Vanished,” “Traveler” and “Flash Forward” (yes, I know the series was based on Robert J Sawyer’s book with the same title, but I’m seeking a wrap-up of the very different TV scenario).
And guarantee us that if I make a date for “The Event,” you’ll be there by my side until I find out what it is.
Analysts have said the Playbook will give RIM an opportunity to dominate in a market it is familiar with and where it enjoys a solid reputation.
“RIM's Blackberry Playbook tablet looks to be a real challenger to Apple's iPad, playing on its business credentials, rather than being just another joy machine',” Stuart Miles, editor of mobile technology website Pocket-Lint told BBC News.
“Whether RIM can deliver what it promises in the business environment with a selection of new apps on yet another operating system will be the real test though. Either way, it's clear that the battle of the tablets is now full steam ahead.”
In the smartphone arena, RIM maintains a comfortable lead with a 39.3% share according to research firm ComScore.
The iPhone's share of the US market was 23.8% and Google's Android was 17% for the quarter ending in July. The Playbook will have a 7-inch screen with front and rear facing cameras to enable video conferencing, an important feature that will appeal to the business market.
The operating system will not use the new Blackberry OS 6 but has instead opted for QNX software, which was recently acquired by RIM and has extensive expertise in embedded systems for the car.
The new OS is designed specifically for the tablet size computer and will avoid the difficulties that come from adjusting a smartphone OS to the tablet platform.
The Playbook will have Bluetooth and WiFi. It will have no 3G capabilities but will enable 3G data connecting by tethering to a Blackberry smartphone.
RIM expects to ship the device to corporate customers and developers in October.
It will become commercially available early in 2011.
RIM has yet to set an exact price but says it will fall in the lower range of prices for consumer tablets already in the suddenly congested market.
“It's by far the most exciting thing we've seen from BlackBerry for a while and for once the buzz seems to have been justified,” said Kate Solomon of mobile news and views site Recombu.com.
What remains to be seen is whether RIM can keep the price realistic for everyday users – despite all the high quality features, a high price tag will put a lot of people off and convince them that a tablet is a superfluous gadget that they don't really need.”
The launch of the Playbook comes as the tablet market becomes an increasingly competitive and crowded field, energised in no small part by the iPad.
Since its April launch, the iPad has dominated the space with research firm iSuppli predicting sales of 12 million by the end of the year.
Another research firm, UBS, put iPad sales at 28 million by 2011.
One contender looking to put a dent in the iPad's lead is HP.
At a nearby conference called TechCrunch Disrupt, Todd Bradley, the company's executive vice president for the personal systems group said tablets are going to be a huge market.
Mr Bradley told attendees that he estimates that in the next few years tablets will be a 40bn market.
Samsung recently introduced its Galaxy tablet as did Dell with the 5 inch Streak. Other companies waiting in the wings with their versions include Lenovo, Asus, HTC, and Acer as well as Google and Microsoft.
A possible contender for the business customer is likely to come in the form of Cisco's Cius tablet.
Crossposted with thegreengrok.com.Is it good or bad to spend time in the sun? The answer is: Yes.
You probably remember all those horrible but eminently preventable diseases we used to suffer from until scientists discovered vitamins. Scurvy, rescued by vitamin C. Night blindness, vitamin A. Pellegra, vitamin B3.
And rickets, a debilitating bone disease in children, vanquished by an adequate amount of vitamin D. So why, if we’ve known about vitamin D for more than 100 years and tackled insufficiency before, is too little vitamin D a growing problem again?
First, Some D Factoids
Interestingly, vitamin D isn’t actually a vitamin. It’s technically considered part of a group of fat-soluble hormones because we produce them naturally (as do plants and other animals) in the presence of ultraviolet sunlight. (Who knew all your mom’s entreaties to “eat your vitamins” were really instructions to “eat your hormones”?)
Since all it takes is a little time in the sun, you’d think we’d have plenty of vitamin D. Alas, no. Case in point, rickets.
The Rise and Fall of Rickets
Rickets (along with its adult form osteomalacia) has been around for a long time.
Reportedly first documented in 1645 [pdf] by Dr. Daniel Whistler, the disease became endemic by the late 19th and early 20th centuries in industrialized countries such as England and the United States in part because of poor diet and in part because of less sunlight for the swarms of new city dwellers from the rural-urban migration. Children in northern, industrialized cities, where child factory labor was probably also a contributing factor [pdf], were particularly prone to the disease.
But things started changing in the 1930s. Scientists established the role of vitamin D in preventing rickets [pdf]. Diets changed, and kids began receiving daily doses of cod liver oil (remember the kids on the Little Rascals TV series receiving spoonfuls of the oil, with noses pinched and lips pursed?). In 1938, the Fair Labor Standards Act set limits on child labor. And in the 1940s vitamin D-enriched milk became the norm, probably sinking the cod liver oil market and, more importantly, reducing the incidence of rickets in children by 85 percent. End of problem or so it seemed.
Vitamin D Insufficiency and Its Connection to a Host of Diseases
Rickets generally occurs when a person’s level of 25-hydroxyvitamin D, a form of vitamin D in the blood, falls below about 20 nanograms per milliliter (levels below that threshold indicate vitamin D deficiency). For decades scientists thought people with levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D above that threshold were okay vis-a-vis vitamin D. But that thinking is changing.
In recent years, evidence has been mounting that low levels of vitamin D (vitamin D insufficiency as opposed to the more severe vitamin D deficiency) are correlated with a host of other maladies, some life-threatening, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, and autoimmune conditions.
Now, the studies linking vitamin D insufficiency with these diseases are statistical and therefore do not establish a cause-and-effect link. Some experts believe that the correlation is in fact not causative but that other factors causing these diseases are common in people whose lifestyles lead to low vitamin-D levels. (More on that later.)
So, is vitamin D insufficiency, wherein your 25-hydroxyvitamin D level is between 29 and 20 nanongrams per milliliter, a problem? The answer brings us to the bloody part of the story.
The Feds Are Collecting Our Blood
Did you know that government scientists have been taking American blood for years? Yep, in a program called the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, or NHANES, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have been taking blood samples from a large cohort of Americans since the 1960s. (How au courant are they?! You’ll be relieved to know their interests are not vampiric but scientific.) The collected samples have been chemically analyzed to document the presence of bad stuff like toxins as well as good stuff like 25-hydroxyvitamin D.A Drop in Blood D
The results of recent analyses of vitamin D data in the NHANES show that:
the levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D in Americans’ blood are declining, and
the number of people with a vitamin D insufficiency has almost doubled since the previous survey from 1994.
Individual findings with respect to the general population are that:
roughly 25 to 35 percent of Americans have vitamin D deficiencies, andmore than 90 percent of darker skinned Americans (e.g., blacks, Hispanics, and Asians) and almost 75 percent of white Americans have vitamin D insufficiencies.
With respect to children:
nine percent of U.S. children are deficient in vitamin D (defined in this study for children as less than 15 nanograms per milliliter),another 61 percent have insufficient vitamin D levels (between 15 and 29 nanograms per milliliter).
Why the Decline in D?
Another analysis of the NHANES data, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition by Anne Looker of the National Center for Health Statistics and colleagues, points to three factors contributing to the decline:
We’re spending less time outdoors, and when we are outside, we dutifully slather on sunscreen to protect against skin cancer, as per our doctors’ advice — advice predicated on the assumption that we get enough vitamin D from our diet and so needn’t worry about giving up time in the sun.Americans are drinking less milk (including vitamin D-enriched milk).American obesity is on the rise. What’s the connection there? We don’t know for sure, but one possibility is that because vitamin D is fat-soluble, it tends to be pulled out of circulation (literally) by our bodies’ fat cells. The more fat, the theory goes, the less vitamin D in the blood.
What Can You Do If You Are Concerned About Your Own Levels of Vitamin D?
First of all, see your doctor and request a blood test to determine if you have an insufficiency.Because many experts think the U.S. daily recommended intake is too low to maintain 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels of 30 nanograms per milliliter, try to eat and drink more vitamin-D rich foods, preferably in the form of D3. In addition to milk and other fortified foods, consider foods naturally rich in vitamin D like oily fish (salmon, mackerel) and fish oils and, to a lesser extent, eggs. Also, consider the recommendation of the American Academy of Dermatology and take a supplement.Try adjusting your diet and exercise regimen to lose weight if appropriate..Finally, you might consider spending some time in the sun. This has got to seem like a huge medical about-face. For years we’ve had it beat into our heads that because sunlight causes skin cancer, we should avoid the sun and, when in it, use sunscreen. Now we’re getting somewhat more nuanced advice: because of concerns about vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency, the American Medical Association now recommends that you spend time on the order of 10 to 15 minutes in direct sunlight (without sunscreen) several times a week.
So thanks to good ole vitamin D, it’s once again safe to spend some unprotected (aka sunscreenless) time outside in the broad daylight. Enjoy, but don’t overdo it.
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Why on earth would Jerry Brown want to be governor of California?
Back on that zany ’60s TV series The Wild Wild West, the two agents discovered that the governor of California was an impostor, installed by an art collector out to steal state money in order to buy the Mona Lisa. Hey, there’ve certainly been worse reasons to pursue the governorship of the not so Golden State.
But even though Jerry Brown is an aficionado of Leonardo da Vinci, we know that can’t be his motivation. The state government simply doesn’t have the money.
Jerry Brown, in this bare-bones ad, lays out a bare-bones message: “Our state is in a real mess.”
So why does Brown, who’s taking a lead in the latest polling over billionaire Meg Whitman, whom he finally debates for the first time on Tuesday night, his Zen rope-a-dope strategy beginning to pay off, want to be governor? Again.
Perhaps it’s the implacably intractable forces he’s likely to deal with. Brown has pledged to convene talks for the next state budget within 10 days of the November election. Which only makes sense, since the current state budget still hasn’t been enacted. After all, there’s nothing quite like banging your head against a wall.
Gray Davis was unable to govern as soon as he won re-election against Bill Simon in 2002. Davis, who I’ve known for decades, is happier now than he was as governor.
Arnold Schwarzenegger had a longer run, but lately has been hemmed in by the same dynamics that hamstrung Davis.
A few years ago, when it became evident that Brown — California’s attorney general, a former two-term governor of the state, two-term mayor of gritty Oakland, and two-time runner-u for the Democratic presidential nomination — was seriously contemplating a return to the office he held as a young man in the 1970s and early 1980s, I asked him why he wanted to return to what I rather indecorously described as the clown show.
He talked of history, of things he’d gotten wrong the first time around, and things he’d gotten right and wanted to expand upon, of the time being right for things once derided as fantastical. He figured, correctly, that Senator Dianne Feinstein wouldn’t want to try, and that other Democrats weren’t likely to win.
As it happens, those others would have been blown away by the gale force of Whitman’s record-shattering spending, the most by far of any non-presidential campaign in American history, though she was just a glimmer on the horizon of potentiality at that point.
Former President Bill Clinton, featured in billionaire Meg Whitman’s thoroughly dishonest TV attack ads against Jerry Brown, issued a rousing endorsement of Brown, with whom he campaigns next month, and debunked state press reports of a feud with Brown.
Brown, a cinema verite politician if there ever was one, is very philosophical about all this. This year, he’s talked of how being governor of California is not a career booster, but a career ender. He’s taken his shots at the White House — in 1976, 1980, and 1992 — and with Barack Obama in place, knows there most likely won’t be another. (Regarding his age, Brown is a much healthier and more youthful 72 than John McCain was. His mother, the estimable Bernice, and his father, the legendary “Governor Pat,” who I also knew for decades, both lived past 90, even though the late governor’s idea of exercise was splashing around in his pool.) He was California’s youngest elected governor, and now looks to be California’s oldest governor.
In public, he talks now about a “re-founding” of California in the midst of chronic budget crisis and slow-mo recovery from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, of the need for people to come together and “clearly identify what they want to cut, and what they want to tax. Let’s get it out in the open.”
He talks also about the nature of California’s economy, and what has brought people to California and what has driven the state’s long-term prosperity.
The current “breakdown,” he says, can become “a breakthrough.”
Brown understands, almost intuitively, that this state which has frequently been at the edge of history relies on having the edge economy.
After all, his family came to California with the Gold Rush, certainly the edge of 1849, and the fastest way to real fortune in the mid-19th century.
More recently, the edge has been all about innovation. As governor, Brown helped foster the sustaining high tech surge of Silicon Valley.
California recently passed through a time of Economic Bubble, based on speculation and artificially inflated markets and stock prices. Now we’re in a time of Bust. What we need is another time of Boom, based on real value.
As governor, Brown helped foster a genuine Boom, this one based on innovation and technology, with the rise of the computer business in Silicon Valley. Steve Jobs and Bob Noyce — co-founders of the two of the most lastingly important high tech companies in the world, Apple and Intel — were part of his administration. Jobs, a personal friend of Brown’s, served on the state’s Commission on Industrial Innovation, and Noyce, inventor of the integrated circuit, was a member of the University of California Board of Regents.
At the same time, Brown led the way on a new approach to energy, based on energy efficiency and renewable resources. This path served the environment of California very well, and it served the people of California very well, saving massive amounts of money.
This new Brown ad hits Whitman for her budget-busting plan to eliminate the capital gains tax, which will principally benefit people like herself and her super-rich friends.
In the process, it became a policy model for farsighted people around the world, including President Barack Obama, who remains quite popular in California.
Now Brown’s original policies of environmental stewardship and technological innovation are fusing into the makings of another economic Boom, in greentech. Brown says that he wants to spur a new wave of technological innovation and create new industries and jobs, that will reduce our dependency on imported oil, reduce our skyrocketing debt, and build a sustainable future.
Brown is calling for the creation of 20,000 megawatts of new renewable power — 12,000 distributed, 8,000 central based that will come in from the desert — to create 500,000 jobs and set the stage for a better state to come.
He’s also pushed hard for stem cell research, so California can lead the way in biotech and biomedicine, and for high-speed rail.
But the leading edge, the next Boom economy that the state not only needs to nurture but has already begun to nurture, is in greentech. Naturally, the backbone of the past economy, the oil industry, is fighting this tooth and nail. They fight it through special interest lobbying, and they have Proposition 23, the oil industry-financed initiative that would do away with the state’s landmark climate change program.
Meg Whitman, former national co-chair of the “Drill baby drill” McCain/Palin campaign, stands with the opponents of a new green economy. She finally said, after endless contortions, that she will vote against Pop 23, but only because she thinks it isn’t popular. But she stands for its approach, because she has vowed to do everything in her power, if elected, as governor, to stop California’s landmark program.
Frankly, Whitman, who barely bothered to vote prior to being persuaded by her business mentor, Republican presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney, to run for governor, is doing what the lobbyists who surround her want. They want to halt the future economy in its tracks because they make their money from the old power arrangements.
Naturally, they, and Whitman — whose only real politics are straight-out corporate conservative, the usual big tax cuts for the rich and end to regulation — complain about using regulation to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
But regulation frequently plays a forcing function for innovation, as we saw with earlier waves of anti-pollution legislation. Detroit screamed about fighting smog in the past — which Brown pushed during his first go-round as governor — but made needed technological adjustments and it all worked out.
In November 2007, Brown and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger sued the Bush/Cheney Administration to protect California’s landmark climate change program.
Government also played a foundational role in the rise of Silicon Valley. The demands of the military and the space program made the integrated circuit a commercial product.
Intelligent regulation and industrial policy have led to past booms and will lead to another, if not stopped by the ancien regime.
This is one main reason why Whitman’s old eBay colleague, former state Controller Steve Westly, who was one of the dozens working at the online auction house before Whitman ever showed up, is for Brown. The super-rich Westly, now a leading Silicon Valley venture capitalist, thought about running against Brown — he ran against him for chairman of the California Democratic Party in 1989 — but decided against it. Now he’s a co-chair of Brown’s campaign, and looks very much askance on his old colleague Whitman’s gyrations on greenhouse gases and green jobs.
Westly was one of Obama’s earliest and biggest backers, serving on what is essentially a national energy advisory commission, the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board. Like Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, he says that Whitman’s approach could scuttle the state’s emerging greentech industry.
Whitman has very cynically tried to confuse voters with thoroughly debunked anti-Brown attack ads featuring former President Bill Clinton, who fought a rugged battle against Brown in the 1992 presidential primaries.
But Clinton, who will campaign with Brown next month, now extols his governorship, saying in a statement today: “Green jobs and cleantech entered the national dialogue only recently, but Jerry Brown was getting things done for a greener economy 30 years ago. As Governor, he helped California become the world leader in wind energy — and he created 1.9 million jobs. Today, he knows how building the greentech sector is essential for both lasting job creation and for protecting California’s environment.”
For someone who’s been famously mercurial, at least in a rhetorical sense, there is a remarkable consistency to what Brown has done during his various incarnations in public life.
In an echoing San Francisco City Hall rotunda, Brown was sworn in as California’s attorney general in January 2007.
I again re-watched Brown’s 2007 inaugural address as attorney general and was struck by the four themes in that speech. Brown promised robust crime-fighting, protection of working people, combating of greenhouse gases and protection of the environment, and promotion of “elegant density” for smart, sustainable development.
This is what he said he’d do as attorney general and this is what he’s done, at a time in which few elected officials are actually delivering what they’ve promised.
In fact, those are consistent themes of his career.
While running for governor in 1974, Brown passed the state’s Political Reform Act, which took the cash out of political campaigns and established disclosure rules for campaigns and lobbying.
While he opposed the death penalty, Brown pursued tough new laws on crime when he first served as California’s governor. He also appointed the most diverse administration in the country and expanded the right to unionization, crafting the first farm labor act in the country working with his friend Cesar Chavez and legalizing unions for public employees.
In keeping with what he called the Era of Limits, financial and environmental, which seems to have returned with a vengeance, he was also rather cheap. Brown’s frugal fiscal policies created one of the largest state surpluses in history. Which later had to be used to bail out local governments whose revenue was devastated by the passage of Prop 13. And he vetoed some pay raises for public employees. He’s the only California governor in modern history who did not institute a general tax increase. And that includes the famously conservative Ronald Reagan.
Brown also criticized the sprawl pattern of California’s development.
More successfully, he intervened to change the direction of California’s energy policy, to use energy in much more efficient ways for an expanding population and economy and to increase renewable energy. Obama has repeatedly cited the energy policies Brown put in place as a model for the nation.
The polls are slowly turning in his direction, even though Whitman has been advertising for the past year and he has been on the air for only a few weeks.
In Sunday’s Los Angeles Times/USC poll, Brown leads Whitman, 49% to 44%., while Senator Barbara Boxer leads ex-Hewlett Packard CEO Fiorina, 51% to 43%.
The Whitman campaign launched an effort to discredit the poll, claiming in one of the most bafflegab memos I’ve seen in a while that the poll’s sample is wildly distorted in the Democratic direction.
Saying he has an “insider’s knowledge” and an “outsider’s mind,” Brown formally announced his candidacy for governor in March.
Actually, the poll has a 44-36 Democratic/Republican breakdown, a mere eight-point edge in a state in which Democrats enjoy a 14-point registration edge. So the poll, unlike Whitman chief strategist Mike Murphy’s latest non-serious spin — so reminiscent of his silly spin five years ago on behalf of the obviously failing special election initiatives he was then promoting as he guided Schwarzenegger to a huge defeat– is quite reality-based.
Nevertheless, I think it’s a bit optimistic on the Democratic end. For example, the new private polls I’m aware of have Brown with a 3 or 4-point edge over Whitman, not the 5-point edge in the Times poll.
Clearly, Brown has survived Whitman’s barrage of false attacks and is moving. He should, however, be doing somewhat better in my opinion. That will require ads that not only have good messaging, but that also pop in a cluttered media environment.
Boxer is close to taking command of the Senate race over Fiorina, who has failed thusfar to get out of primary mode.
And initiatives to legalize small amounts of marijuana for personal use and change the legislative vote needed to pass a budget from two-thirds to a majority are looking good, while the effort to dump California’s landmark climate change program is not.
How much will the debates matter? It’s hard to say. Whitman refused Brown’s challenge to 10 free-wheeling town hall debates. She prefers the staid moderator and panel format, in which follow-up is difficult, give-and-take near impossible, and reporters have pet questions that don’t allow for consistent exploration of issues.
Nevertheless, four have been agreed to so far, with the first on Tuesday night at the University of California at Davis and the second on Saturday at Fresno State University.
How will they go?
Well, before Whitman dodged Brown’s first debate challenge, last spring, Brown told me: “She’s smart, she went to Princeton, she can put sentences together.”
Even if Whitman is being embarrassed on one of the many contradictions in her purported program, she has escapeability in the more limited format she favors.
She’ll undoubtedly have some memorized gibes and comebacks from her army of consultants. But the reality will peek through.
Brown enjoys the give and take of public life. Unlike Whitman, he doesn’t hide out behind a panoply of perks and a parade of pricey political consultants and lobbyists, all of them feeding policy prompts and focus-grouped phrases. He’s almost shockingly accessible.
He just needs to make sure he’s not indulging in a stream of consciousness during a debate.
The reality is that it’s not a time for beginners, and Whitman has far less experience than Arnold Schwarzenegger had in public affairs when he became governor. Not to mention the fact that she didn’t even bother to vote.
This will become even more apparent as the campaign goes on.
What will also become apparent is that Brown knows a lot more now than he did when he thought he knew it all. He just needs to avoid coming off as though he really does have all the answers at last. He doesn’t.
He should let Whitman keep pretending that she does. Right up until he stops allowing that.
You can check things during the day on my site, New West Notes … www.newwestnotes.com.
We are a community organization called We’ve Got Time to Help currently located in Portland, Oregon. However, within just the last month, with a lot of assistance from Arianna Huffington and the HuffPost, our visibility has increased a thousandfold. It is a tremendous opportunity for us to share our commitment to change communities all around this country.
Our original intention when we started this group was to gather the unemployed masses together and get out in our communities to make a difference and make it quickly. If Mrs. Jones’ roof was leaking, we wanted to be able to start repairing it immediately. If Mr. Brown needed help mowing his lawn, we wanted to come right out and mow it. We didn’t want a lot of rules or applications or any kind of litmus test. If you called for help, we were coming. It was, and continues to be, a simple premise.
When we started our group back in February of 2009, we hoped that we would, perhaps, be able to get a dozen unemployed volunteers and possibly help a few people over the coming months. We posted some ads on Craigslist. We put up some signs in coffee shops. We told anyone who would listen what we were trying to accomplish. We thought that we would sit back and wait to see if anyone would even call us. What we received was an immediate outpouring of support, volunteers, and calls for help. We were inundated with people that needed help and people wanting to help them.
Now, here we sit 18 months later. We are still getting calls for help. We are still gathering volunteers. But, they aren’t just in Portland anymore. We are getting calls from California to New York. From Texas to Minnesota. We have received calls and e-mails from over 25 states and over 50 cities. People in dozens of states and cities who want to start a WGTTH chapter. We are overwhelmed by the compassion and selflessness of Americans all across this land. They are saying “my city needs this” and they are saying “we’ve got time to help.”
Sometimes it’s hard, whether you have a job or not, to get out and volunteer. It can be uncomfortable or even a little scary. It’s hard to meet new people and to step out of your comfort zone. It can be hard to offer assistance when you think you don’t have any skills. But, let me let you in on a little secret. You do have something to offer. We all do. Sure, not all of us can rewire an electrical box or re-roof a house (neither can I). It doesn’t matter that you don’t have a special license or a certain type of degree (again, neither do I). It doesn’t matter anyway, because those people with the technical skills and degrees are volunteering with us too. But, whatever your background is and whatever your circumstances are, what you can offer to those in need is hope. \
Hope doesn’t build homes or repair vehicles. Hope doesn’t put food on the table or clothes on our back.
But hope does make it easier to face another tough day. Hope makes it okay not to give up.
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As the artist who created the image and poster of then-candidate for president, Barack Obama, with first the word “Progress,” and then later, and more appropriately, “Hope,” I am frequently asked for my opinion on his presidency so far.
I generally avoid commenting about Obama’s performance because I have found that the mainstream media tends to reduce my views to a simplistic position of being either “for” the President or “disappointed” or “against” him. So when I was interviewed last week by an established publication, I spent almost an hour talking to the reporter and trying to articulate my views on Obama and his Presidency to date. It is important to me that my words not be distorted or taken out of context to avoid Rush Limbaugh and the rest of the right-wing media attack machine creating a false storyline.
Yet that is exactly was happened. Sadly, my position was again reduced to “Obama ‘Hope’ poster artist, losing hope,” which is not my opinion. As with millions of other Americans, young and old, my position is far more complex.
Let me state as simply as I can my views on President Obama. I support President Obama. I believe he is an intelligent, compassionate person, with many good policy ideas. If Obama runs for reelection in 2012, I will support him.
And while I wish he was more bold in action on issues of most concern to me — health care, global warming, the war in Afghanistan, Wall Street reform, education, immigration reform — I realize he is trying to do the best that he can given the obstructionist, “just say no to anything,” opposition he faces from the Republicans in Congress.
And for the record, I have not lost “Hope,” in President Obama, even if the change he ran upon is not coming as quickly many of us thought or hoped it might.
I realize Obama was handed the worst economy and political climate facing a president in modern history and that it will take time for our country to recover and begin to move in the right direction. I also realize the Republican party and its leaders have no intention of being constructive partners in trying to solve the difficult problems facing our nation. Unfortunately, the tough economy has created wide spread frustration among Americans resulting in many people looking for a scapegoat. Ironically, Obama has often been the scapegoat when the policies of those who oppose Obama are responsible for many of the hardships the nation is currently facing.
What is also frustrating to me is that the media wants to give readers a narrative of high drama instead engaging them in a broader and richer debate about the issues at stake. The quality of a discussion is determined by the depth and quality of information available to people. As Americans and as readers we have to hold our media as accountable as we hold our elected leaders.
The members of the old (actually, ancient) rock group Earth, Wind and Fire obviously did not major in biology, since they left out the fourth classical element of the universe and the number one element in the universe of the human body: water. This was shortsighted, because water is the body’s most important nutrient and its most abundant substance, making up 75 percent of all muscle tissue and approximately 10 percent of fatty tissue.
But water isn’t only important for how much of it there is, but for what it does, namely transporting nutrients, dispensing of waste and converting food into energy through a process called hydrolysis. Even if this was all water did, it would have pretty much earned its living, but water is also the containing medium for electrolytes and all other ions throughout the human body.
An electrolyte is an electrically charged mineral that acts as a chemical messenger, carrying electrical impulses from nerves that control tissue function and movement. When electrolytes get out of balance, it can lead to serious physiological disruptions, including heart and nerve function, muscle coordination and control, and maintenance of the body’s fluid levels. These important levels of electrolytes (like sodium and potassium, which are most prone to becoming out of balance) are controlled by certain hormones and by the kidneys, which are responsible for retaining or removing electrolytes to keep them in balance. This is why dehydration is so dangerous. It literally throws the body out of whack. Being even 2 percent dehydrated can seriously impair physical and mental functions. A level of 15 percent dehydration can cause critical damage. Unlike vitamin and mineral deficiencies, which can take weeks or months to become noticeable, water deficiency can kill within days or even hours. Which is why, if someone asks you what you would want most on a desert island, don’t say your iPad.
Water is also critical for removing toxins. The body has four major ways of doing this: through the bowels, processing by the liver, by urination and by perspiration. When it’s dehydrated, the body will try to save water by minimizing urination, perspiration and bowel function, while forcing the liver to do much of the work. But the liver has other functions to maintain. If it’s overburdened with detoxification, it can’t metabolize fat efficiently, causing the body to store it instead. Dehydration also reduces protein synthesis, the process that builds and repairs muscles.
The Goldilocks Solution: How Much Water is Just Right?
So you get the picture; you need to hydrate. But how much and how often? Women should have about 91 ounces a day, and men need 125 ounces, which is considerably more than the 64 ounces (eight cups) generally recommended. But not to worry, we get most of the water we need from food (about 20 to 35 percent) and other liquids we drink (about 40 to 45 percent). Vegetables and fruits are the most hydrating (lettuce is 95 percent water). Meat, soup, juice, soda and milk are also sources of hydration. Contrary to popular belief, coffee is not a diuretic and counts toward one’s daily water intake as well. However, alcohol has been shown to dehydrate the body, causing it to excrete more fluid than what is taken in.
So rather than a fad diet or fast, you can see that food helps to hydrate your body, metabolize fat, get rid of waste, keep your energy up so you can exercise and burn more calories, and plump cells to keep your skin looking healthy.
How much fluids you should drink varies with your size and activity level. One way to know if you’re getting the right amount is by the color of your urine. Typically, good health is indicated by lighter urine color, although clear urine can be a symptom of over hydration or water intoxication (water poisoning) or even diabetes. The ideal urine color is actually a straw yellow color.
If you have any kidney or adrenal problems, or your physician has recommended diuretics, discuss how much water you should be drinking a day. Also, don’t drink your daily requirement all at once. Divide the amount throughout the day. This is especially important if you engage in heavy exercise. Infants should not be given water, only formula or breast milk, unless your pediatrician recommends otherwise. And if you exercise nonstop for more than an hour, you might want to replace electrolytes along with water in the form of a sports drink to prevent hyponatremia (depleted sodium) or other forms of severe electrolyte depletion.
Water and Weight Loss: The Holy Grail
There are many different kinds of metabolism going on in the body all the time, but the one everyone means with relation to weight loss is the metabolism of fat. As already mentioned, the liver takes a major role in this, but if it’s busy with detoxification, it’s going to sock away the fat it doesn’t have time to metabolize. So you might want to get right to that water bottle.
People also ask if water is good for suppressing appetite. Well, there’s no real evidence for it; however, it’s easy to mistake thirst for hunger, which means you might be eating food when you simply need some water. Try having a tall glass of water when you feel a craving for a snack, then see if you still want those potato chips. Some research has indicated that eating soup and other liquid-based foods at the beginning of a meal can help reduce hunger.
Given that adequate hydration helps in maintaining proper organ function, electrolyte balance, more efficient fat burning and waste removal, not to mention healthier looking skin, how many more reasons do you need to hydrate correctly? Besides, if you’re not hydrating, you won’t be going to the water cooler to talk about last night’s episode of Mad Men.
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Religion and science are hopefully becoming two different things. Science used to be called natural philosophy, and it is now about how the world works, how the stars go and how our bodies function. Religion designated itself the queen of the sciences in the past and had multiple aspects. One aspect was about how to live life, and another was about how things came to be as they are. In past centuries, religion and science were mixed together. The split began when religion, whose authority was based on who was in power, conflicted with science, whose authority became based on discovery in nature. The greatest example of this war was the Church versus Galileo and his telescope. A modern example is fundamentalists versus evolution and genetics.
But religion’s war on science is really about turf — who has authority in various areas of knowledge and belief. This is not new. As Seneca the Younger observed in Roman times (ca. 4 AD), “Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by rulers as useful.” This is why politicians love religion’s war on science.
Steven Weinberg summarized the situation well:
When we remember again someday that religion is based on metaphors while science is based on discovery, maybe religion can once again help us evaluate how we are living our lives. The great myths are not necessarily factual but are often true. For example, the lesson is not whether there was a real Cain and Abel but that we are our brother’s keeper.
Meanwhile, I don’t want to hear childish tales that insult my intelligence. Instead I want to know if I am paying a fair price for my groceries. Does the money go to pay the farmer, or is it siphoned off by some financial parasite? Was my friend sent to Iraq for high-sounding words or to steal oil? Is my son flying planes to defend the country or to fill the pockets of the CEO of some corporation? Many of the members of our military are there because they trusted us not to send them off on imperial wars of conquest and theft. Have we betrayed their trust?
The best way to determine what is really happening, in religious wars or elsewhere, is to follow the money. I don’t like the answer. Do you? Where did all those trillions of dollars go? Remember, a trillion is a million millions. A good and humbling example to study is The Nuts Game.
When humans gather in groups, their natures are magnified — both good and bad. We can do better and bigger things (bridges, spaceships, medicine), and worse and more terrible things (wars, theft, hoarding). The larger the group, the more the magnification. Unfortunately, people in groups also become vulnerable to theater over thought. I can’t tell the difference between a TV preacher and a politician. Can you? Too bad we don’t have more laws against lying.
Through politics, some people benefit not only by the good things we do corporately, but also by the bad things we do. They see an opportunity to fill their pockets — excessively. They often justify their goals through religion or nationalism, waving the flag, Tanakh, Bible or Quran as needed and dividing us against each other through fear and ignorance to cover their activities.
To use a metaphor, some politicians and religious leaders would have us believe that we should remove the gears in our cars that go forward so that the only gear we have is reverse. They want to make people afraid to go forward. The way they do this is by using religion to create fear — fear that they can manipulate to fill their pockets and fear that some of what we learned as youngsters may need updating in the light of new knowledge.
Instead we need a religion that doesn’t give us childish tales but helps us use evolution and genetics to improve medicine, use biology to keep the Earth, our island home, in balance for the future and use physics to solve our energy problem. Jesus said, “If your son asks for bread, will you give him a stone?”
We have made some progress in the last few centuries, dethroning kings and religion, only to have them return in new forms. Follow the money. As many have said, “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” But to go further, I agree with Diderot: “We shall never be free until the last king is strangled with entrails of the last priest.”