Sunday, June 30, 2013

On Vacation: No Blog In July

Rest & More Rest

There will be no blog posting in July other than Monday’s Cancer Blog; I am taking a much-needed rest. It has been an eventful and difficult year, as many of you know. I plan to return on August 1 with many new articles. I wish everyone in Canada “A Happy Canada Day” tomorrow; and a “Happy Fourth of July,” or “Independence Day” a few days later for my American friends. To everyone else around the world, I hope and trust that you enjoy July, wherever you might be.

All the Best,
Perry J. Greenbaum

A Summer View From My Second Floor Apt Balcony

Personal Photography

Here are a few photos taken on Wednesday June 26th at around 8:30 a.m.; as you can see it was a sunny day and the lighting was good, slightly filtered by the lush foliage of the tree crowns.


Summer View No. 1:
Photo Credit: © Perry J. Greenbaum; 2013


Summer View No. 2
Photo Credit: © Perry J. Greenbaum; 2013




Summer View No. 3:
Photo Credit© Perry J. Greenbaum; 2013



Saturday, June 29, 2013

Lang Lang: Gershwin’s Rhapsody In Blue



Lang Lang performs Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” at the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize Concert.

******************
Leonard Bernstein once said in a 1955 Atlantic Monthly article:  
The Rhapsody is not a composition at all. It's a string of separate paragraphs stuck together. The themes are terrific – inspired, God-given. I don't think there has been such an inspired melodist on this earth since Tchaikovsky. But if you want to speak of a composer, that's another matter. Your Rhapsody in Blue is not a real composition in the sense that whatever happens in it must seem inevitable. You can cut parts of it without affecting the whole. You can remove any of these stuck-together sections and the piece still goes on as bravely as before. It can be a five-minute piece or a twelve-minute piece. And in fact, all these things are being done to it every day. And it's still the Rhapsody in Blue
Yet, although it defies tight definition as a jazz piece or a technical composition in the purest sense, it endures. One reason is that it tells a series of vignettes or stories, although each are separate, the power is that "the piece still goes on as bravely as before." The result is a sincere piece, thereby expressing the sentiments of the optimistic, if not reckless, 1920s that Gershwin viewed and felt in his native New York City at the time. What prevailed was a positive can-do spirit that many would like to duplicate today.

Note that Bernstein, despite such critical words, enjoyed performing the piece. Perhaps it could be said that he understood the piece's importance in the canon of American music. (You can listen to the original Gershwin recording of 1924 here.)


George Gershwin [1898-1937]; on March 28, 1937: Less than four months later, on July 11, 1937, George Gershwin would die from a brain tumor. He was 38.
Photo Credit: Carl van Vechten [1880-1964]; Taken on March 28, 1937
Source: US Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Div.

Fair Is Foul And Right Is Left

Security & Law

Some people prefer individual liberty over security; others security over individual liberty, Then there are others who have not seriously thought about the issue. Since 9/11, the United States (and many other western nations) have moved toward greater security, increased surveillance and reduced liberties. I don’t agree with this approach, and I am neither an extremist nor do I oppose the legal system of the U.S; I am essentially a classic liberal in the old tradition. Thus, I strongly oppose laws that go against the U.S. Constitution, and in this case the First Amendment (a free press) and the Fourth Amendment (illegal search and seizure). 

That Prof, Jochnowitz views things differently is what makes democracy the wonderful political system it is, and I present his views for you to discuss and debate. Jochnowitz writes: “Recently Edward Snowden has been in the news. He is a rightist who released secrets to the press. Leftists are supporting him. Daniel Ellsberg, a leftist who released secrets to the press, is pro-Snowden. Russia, a leftist country that is certainly not opposed to government control, has offered to consider an asylum request from Snowden—a rightist and a libertarian.”

*****************************
by George Jochnowitz


Fair is foul and foul is fair,” chant the witches in Shakespeare’sMacbeth. They include “Liver of blaspheming Jew” in the list of the ingredients in their witches’ brew. If they were preparing such a brew today, they would probably chant “Liver of genocidal Israeli.” The witches are fictional, but nowadays anti-Zionism, the child of anti-Semitism, is the most powerful political force on earth, the way anti-Semitism used to be. Hungary’s far-right Jobbik Party is primarily anti-Semitic, but it is also anti-Israel.

Countries on the far left, like North Korea and Venezuela, are explicitly and energetically anti-Israel.

In the United States, anti-Israel sentiment is primarily leftist, with Noam Chomsky and The Nation being typical examples; however, far-right politicians like Ron Paul and Pat Buchanan are equally hostile. Anti-Zionism is among the issues uniting leftists and rightists—not to be confused with liberals and conservatives. Nadine Gordimer was cited in The New York Times on May 15, 2002, as saying, “I’m not a liberal, my dear. I’m a leftist.” Liberals and conservatives are typically not anti-Israel.

“Liberty [fair] is law [foul] and law is liberty” might be a good opening for the witches’ chant today. Laws restrict liberty but protect liberty. Traffic laws help to save lives. So do laws restricting the ingredients that may be used in foods. Libertarians (on the right) and anarchists (on the left) oppose laws because they take away our liberties. What about laws against murder? They have not ended murder, to be sure, but they make life safer. What about guns? Retired Representative Jay Dickey, Republican of Arkansas, has said, “We have the right to bear arms because of the threat of government taking over the freedoms that we have.” Representative Dickey, a rightist, was in favor of overthrowing the government of the United States by force and violence. So was leftist Bernardine Dohrn, who said, “Guns and grass are united in the youth underground,” in her speech “A Declaration of a State of War.”

Former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin has spoken about the need to defend Main Street against Wall Street. She expressed the same view that gave its name to the leftist Occupy Wall Street movement.

Recently Edward Snowden has been in the news. He is a rightist who released secrets to the press. Leftists are supporting him. Daniel Ellsberg, a leftist who released secrets to the press, is pro-Snowden. Russia, a leftist country that is certainly not opposed to government control, has offered to consider an asylum request from Snowden—a rightist and a libertarian.

Secrecy, spying, privacy and similar issues are always going to be controversial. The government ought to protect the safety of its citizens. Does spying lead to safety? A number of attacks have been foiled. On the other hand, some major attacks, 9/11 and the recent Boston Marathon bombs, for example, were not prevented by government security measures.

Traffic laws, laws against murder, etc., don’t always work. We should be grateful that sometimes they do work. Why have leftists and rightists united on this issue? They have done so because all extremists oppose the legal system of the United States. And all extremists oppose the existence of Israel—and its people.

***********************************
George Jochnowitz was born in New York City, in 1937.  He became aware of different regional pronunciations when he was six, and he could consciously switch accents as a child. He got his Ph.D. in linguistics from Columbia University and taught linguistics at the College of Staten Island, CUNY.  His area of specialization was Jewish languages, in particular, Judeo-Italian dialects.  As part of a faculty-exchange agreement with Hebei University in Baoding, China, he was in China during the Tiananmen Massacre. He can be reached at george@jochnowitz.net.

***********************************
Copyright ©2013. George Jochnowitz. All Rights Reserved. This article was originally published in Arutz Sheva (June 17, 2013). This post can also be found on George Jochnowitz. It is republished here with the permission of the author.

Friday, June 28, 2013

The NSA Breakfast Blog: Week 3

Data Surveillance




The NSA Breakfast Blog  is dedicated to helping the United States government and the National Security Agency, working under the Department of Defense,  help fight terrorism through data and knowledge.

I am one of those foreign nationals, a Canadian, and thus I want to do my part in combating world-wide terrorism. I have decided that I can do this by duly and dutifully reporting my breakfast habits of the preceding few days. The blog will post on Fridays; and my breakfast-eating habits will consist of what I ate and drank from Monday to Thursday. This will run for a few weeks at most.






**********************
Here is what I ate the last few days:

Monday: I had two Eggo-brand waffles lavishly layered with corn syrup (I know, it’s not too healthy, but I had a craving of sorts), along with some strawberries and apricots; I also had a glass of Oasis-brand orange juice, followed by a cup of coffee, two sugars and a little 10% m.f. cream.

Tuesday: I have been suffering from an upset stomach the past few days, replete with nausea, constipation and diarrhoea—all very unpleasant and nasty physical sensations that tends to deny if not defeat the appetite.  Surprisingly enough, I have been still managing to eat healthy.  The weather has been stifling (32C , or 90F today). Today I had a glass of orange juice,  a bowl of mango fruit, strawberries and tomatoes and a then bowl of Rice Crispies cereal with milk.  This was followed by a cup of coffee, two sugars and a little 10% m.f. cream. Tonight, our family is has plans to go to Gilda’s Club, the cancer-support group, for a pot-luck barbecue; the weather, however, is threatening thunderstorms.

Wednesday: The hot muggy weather continues, which has not been good for appetite, and definitely not for my morale. This morning, I had a glass of strawberry-banana juice (Oasis brand), two slices of lightly buttered rye toast, a nectarine and a cup of coffee with two sugars and a little 10% m.f. cream. I hope the weather cools down; if not, might be time that we buy some air conditioners for this apartment.

Thursday: The weather forecasts a cooler greyer day (around 25C or 77F). I awoke this morning at 4:15 a.m., which is right around my usual time. I had a tall glass of orange juice, two eggs sunny side up (to make up for the lack of early-morning sun) with a banana, and two slices of rye toast with margarine and strawberry jam. I ended the fine meal with and a cup of coffee with two sugars and a little 10% m.f. cream.  We plan to go strawberry picking this weekend, a family summer ritual, that is, unless the weather decides against our plans.

******************
That will be the end of the NSA Breakfast blog, at least for the next month of July while I take a badly needed break and get some time to “recharge” my self. I wish everyone a happy July and a happy summer; to Americans celebrating Independence Day (Fourth Of July, as it is also called), it might be worthwhile to consider and remember what your forebears fought for: freedom,  notably from mercurial, capricious and authoritarian powers. 

Peter Safar: Innovator Of Cardiac Resuscitation

Modern Advances In Science




Peter Joseph Safar [1924-2003]: “During his student years he saw the ravages of disease and starvation and the trauma of the battle of Vienna in 1945. These were to have a lasting effect on his psyche and he resolved to try to make the world a better place. He achieved this like no other,” says an article in Elsivier.
Photo Credit: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 2003

Peter Safar is credited with coming up with the ABC method of cardiac or cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) ,which is widely used in the world today to prevent individuals from having any lasting effects from heart failure. Such wasn't always the case before the late 1950s, not that long ago. Safar’s experiences during the Second World War had a profound influence on his world-view; he considered himself a pacifist, a humanist and a citizen of the world—a wonderful combination for a medical humanitarian.

The idea of CPR first came to his attention when Safar was working at Baltimore City Hospital around 1958, when he began his research career. There he became interested in unconscious patients, and he was able to show that head tilt, chin lift, and if necessary jaw thrust, would allow a patent to breathe in almost all cases.But there was another piece of the medical puzzle that was necessary for Safar to develop what is now the accepted practice of ABC—airway, breathing and chest compression— in modern cardiac resuscitation.

P.J.F. Baskett  writes in an an article for Elsivier:
Across town at Johns Hopkins, William Kouwenhoven during his study of defibrillation had, almost by chance, discovered that external chest compressions could produce a passable artificial circulation in cardiac arrest in animals. Together with Guy Knickerbocker and James Jude, they were able to demonstrate that this could be reproduced in humans. Safar put the two discoveries together to form the ABC of resuscitation, or CPR as it came to be known, which has stood us in good stead for 45 years. The concept and technique was readily accepted and introduced around the world and was married up to defibrillation which had been recently re-introduced by Beck, Kouwenhoven and Zoll and was to be further developed by Lown and Pantridge.
Moving to the University of Pittsburgh to take up the Chair of the Department of Anaesthesiology in 1961, he built upon his experience in Baltimore and developed an intensive care unit with multidisciplinary participation and training, probably the first of its kind in the US. Realising that professional pre-hospital care was vita to bridge the gap between bystander CPR and hospital intensive care he set about creating one of the early paramedic services in the US. But he did not do it the easy way.
Ever concerned about the underprivileged, and against phenomenal resistance, he selected unemployed black people from an inner city ghetto and, together with Nancy Caroline, trained them to be paramedics. The pilot project, sponsored by the Falk Foundation, was called the Freedom House Ambulance Service. As with most things he did, his tenacity and example prevailed against the odds and that some aspects of this service continues today under the control of the Pittsburgh City authorities.
Such shows that both perseverance and collaboration are necessary to achieve good and positive results; the lone wolf rarely gets anything done. But working assiduously and carefully toward an honourable goal can often get the desired results when the cause is good and others can see it this way.

The Early War Years in Vienna

Peter Safar was born to Karl and Vinca Safar in Vienna, Austria, on April 12, 1924; both his parents were in the medical profession. His father was an noted ophthalmologist and his mother, Vinca, an accomplished paediatrician. Such a family pedigree, and his experiences growing up under a difficult political situation in 1930s Austria, ensured that young Peter would turn his eye to medicine and to helping humanity. In 1938, when Nazi Germany occupied Austria, both of Peter’s parents were removed from their jobs because his mother was considered “Non Aryan.”

Again we turn to P.J.F. Baskett’s article for Elsivier on the following background information, about Safar’s early war years:
Peter was sent into a labour camp in Bavaria, where he was abused mentally and physically and was destined to be drafted into the German Army. ‘‘Our generation was trapped. Active resistance was suicidal... but I was determined not to go to the front to kill and be killed’’. He was saved by his initiative and his eczema which he aggravated by rubbing tuberculin cream in to the sores just before each occasion he was to have a medical examination. Eventually the authorities gave up and he achieved his ambition of starting at the medical school in Vienna in 1943. 
During his student years he saw the ravages of disease and starvation and the trauma of the battle of Vienna in 1945. These were to have a lasting effect on his psyche and he resolved to try to make the world a better place. He achieved this like no other.
There was one bright spot. In 1947 he met Eva [Kyzivat]. They shared similar values and a love of music and dancing —they fell in love —and married in 1950 and spent a lifetime of happiness together. Peter won a surgical scholarship to study Yale in 1949, a year after he qualified as a doctor, and went to the US, the land of opportunity and hope at the time compared with a Europe still in economic and political turmoil. A year later he returned briefly to Vienna, married Eva, and together they went to Pennsylvania with $5 and four suitcases. There Peter embarked on a career in anaesthesiology, having been convinced that that was the speciality for him. At the time this was arguably the best centre in the world led by Robert Dripps, Leroy Vandam, James Eckenhoff and Julius Comroe.
A Citizen of the World

In an article in the National Institutes of Health (NIH) journal (September 12, 2003), Jeanne Leanzer writes further of the inner mind of Safar and how he was successfully able to turn tragedy into victory, becoming the man he became:
Safar’s experiences during the Nazi years had a profound effect on his world view. He worked tirelessly for nuclear disarmament, international law, and world peace through organisations such as International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War and the World Federalist Association (WFA). “He always called himself a world citizen,” said Phil Safar, a lawyer, and the elder of Safar’s two sons.
“He saw a connection between medicine and politics,” said Amy A Langham, executive director of WFA's Pittsburgh chapter, where Safar was active. “He knew that injuries to humans caused by war could be prevented through political cooperation. He saw the United Nations as the only organisation that could bring hope to the idea of world cooperation.”
Another tragedy would have a profound effect on Safar. In 1966, while Safar was away at a medical conference, his 11 year old daughter Elizabeth fell into an asthma induced coma and died. Safar became convinced that lay people, not just doctors, had to be involved in resuscitation if lives were to be saved. One year after his daughter’s death he designed and implemented the first ambulance service with a physician and volunteers trained in CPR.
This was another step in improving the odds of survival for individuals who were undergoing cardiac arrest or a heart attack. Countless lives have been saved by this intervention; and today millions of non-professionals have been trained in CPR methods—myself included—as a way to help humanity. We can thank Dr. Peter Safar for his insight and his understanding of the need to better humanity for making the world a more hopeful and healthier place to reside.

Peter Josef Safar, professor of resuscitation medicine at the University of Pittsburgh, died from cancer on August 3, 2003; he was 79. He was survived by his wife, Eva, and two sons.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

San Francisco Opera: Verdi's Aïda



In this San Francisco Opera’s performance of Giuseppe Verdi's “Aïda,” Luciano Pavarotti is Radamès, captain of the guard, and Margaret Price is Aïda, an Ethiopian princess captured into slavery; it is conducted by Garcia Navarro. This video is taken from the 1981 San Francisco production directed by Sam Wanamaker.

The four-act opera, set in ancient Egypt, was first performed in Cairo, Egypt, on December 24, 1871; it was an immediate success. It opened at Milan’s famed Teatro Regio di Parma on April 20, 1872, and at New York’s Academy of Music on November 26, 1873. [A synopsis can be found here.].

Consider the following from Act 1:
In ancient Egypt, near the royal palace at Memphis, Radamès learns from the high priest, Ramfis, that Ethiopia soon may bring war to the Nile valley. The young officer hopes he will be chosen as commander of the army, envisioning triumph so he can free his beloved Aida, Ethiopian slave of the proud Princess Amneris. Amneris, who herself loves Radamès, jealously senses his feelings for Aida when the three meet. A procession led by the King arrives to confirm that the Ethiopians are advancing on Thebes. He appoints the jubilant Radamès as Egyptian commander, at which shouts of victory fill the air. Left alone, Aida is torn between her love for Radamès and for her native land: though now a slave, she is in fact the daughter of Amonasro, king of Ethiopia. She prays to the gods for mercy.
The tensions are palpable, revealing the human emotions where the leading characters are torn between love of an individual and love of a nation, one an act of individual liberty and desire, another an act of patriotism and duty. It’s an ancient tension, pulling at us, which makes for good drama and great opera.There is redemption in the end, of a classical traditional nature, which some might find rewarding. I find it moving and human.

Second Marriages

On Modern Society



“Marriage is the triumph of imagination over intelligence;
second marriage is the triumph of hope over experience.”
Samuel Johnson

Many people have married more than once, including myself; I was married briefly, for two years, while I was still completing university. I was 24; Sheryl was barely 20. Needless to say, we were young; there was no outward reason why we married then, no one was pregnant, it was something that we kind of fell into. The marriage, what it was, lasted two years.

The parting was painful but not acrimonious. But it was a failure, and it opened fresh wounds like all such break-ups of good intentions gone sour. Yet, contrary to expectations, we eventually became friends, a relationship that lasted for almost 20 years, until my ex-wife took her own life in October 2000. She was on her third divorce and was considering a fourth marriage. I received the phone call from her intended one early morning and attended her funeral along with the other former husbands, her extended family and her many friends.

For long, I questioned myself if I could have in any way prevented Sheryl from making such a decision. The answer to such questions is always complicated and personal. I really don’t know how much influence I could have had on a determined 38-year-old woman suffering physical and emotional problems to alter her destiny. My many conversations with her during the last two years prior to her decision reflected an unhappy person. In her case, she was looking to marriage, as many others do raised on pop culture psychology and popular TV and films, as a solution to her loneliness, to her lack of intimacy, to her finding some meaning. In a sense she was seeking what many of us seek: a lifeline to love.

Happiness, to be sure, is a key to success in marriages, as it is for many other areas of life. Second marriages can also fail, notably if individuals make the same mistakes in picking a partner as they did the first time. I am not one of those unfortunates, although there are always issues that can divide us that revolve around family finances, raising children and the degree of personal autonomy one requires. Again, we return to the idea of personal fulfilment and happiness, an often-elusive target to hit.

Too many individuals are seeking in the “other” what they themselves can not find in themselves; sometimes this arrangement works, often not, one partner suffering suffocation when the other finds intimacy and emotional support. There has to be an agreement, an understanding if this is to work.

Humans might be animals, according to evolutionary theories, but when it comes to areas like love and marriage, we display far more complicated and wide-ranging emotions than what our shared genes might explain. This raises all sorts of questions about human emotions and human behaviours. We don’t only want to understand, but also to arrive at some concrete, practical answer on how best to approach love, marriage and relationships.

So, what is it about two people living together—with or without children—that makes it so difficult to succeed in a venture so to speak that often starts out with the best of intentions but often fails half of the time? Are participants in this dance of supposed love and romance going into marriage with much-higher expectations than previous generations? Is marriage today too much about sex and love and, even, friendship than it ought to be?

Such are the many questions that inform the modern mind. These and others that look at brain sciences to determine the locus of love and sex, as if finding that would guarantee success and provide the answers to a happy life, a happy marriage. I suspect that, as it is with life, marriage will follow. Marriage in itself will not make an unhappy, unfulfilled single person any happier in marriage than outside of it. There are individuals who can remain perfectly happy as single individuals; marriage is not for everyone, nor should there be pressure, whether for religious, social or familial reasons, on anyone to get married—whether for the first time or second.


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Plants Can Do Math, Too; Ration Energy at Night

Molecular Biology
Plant Intelligence: “We're dealing with a fundamental biological process in cells that’s doing a sophisticated arithmetic calculation,” says Martin Howard of the John Innes Centre in Norwich, UK.
“No one has really thought about doing it this way before.”
Photo Credit: Nigel Cattlin; Getty Images 
Source: Nature
An article, by Hedi Ledford, in Nature News says that plants can not only turn light into food energy through the process of photosynthesis—an amazing enough feat—but they can also do molecular math to ration their energy.

Ledford writes:
Computer-generated models published in the journal eLife illustrate how plants might use molecular mathematics to regulate the rate at which they devour starch reserves to provide energy throughout the night, when energy from the Sun is off the menu1. If so, the authors say, it would be the first example of arithmetic division in biology.

But it may not be the only one: many animals go through periods of fasting — during hibernations or migrations, for example — and must carefully ration internal energy stores in order to survive. Understanding how arithmetic division could occur at the molecular level might also be useful for the young field of synthetic biology, in which genetic engineers seek standardized methods of tinkering with molecular pathways to create new biological devices.
“This is a new framework for understanding the control of metabolic processes,” says Rodrigo Gutiérrez, a plant-systems biologist at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile in Santiago, who was not involved in the work. “I can immediately think of applying it to other problems.”
Plants make the starch reserves they produce during the day last almost precisely until dawn. Researchers once thought that plants break down starch at a fixed rate during the night. But then they observed that the diminutive weed Arabidopsis thaliana, a plant favoured for laboratory work, could recalculate that rate on the fly when subjected to an unusually early or late night2
Nature is both more complicated and interesting than we initially thought; and the processes that drive many plants deserve greater attention. As odd as it might sound to some, we might learn something from the plant world, namely, how to make better use of our resources and how to conserve energy for use when it is necessary.

***************

You can read the rest of the article at [Nature]

The Flexible U.S. Constitution

Telling Comments

Here is an excerpt from a CNN article, by Jethro Mullen and Michael Pearson on Russia’s refusal to hand over Edward Snowden, in which John Kerry says the following, not realizing how comical, clownish and and insincere he appears [Note that Russia does not have an extradition treaty with the U.S.]:
Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking to reporters while traveling in Saudi Arabia, said the United States isn't looking to Russia to enforce U.S. law, only to "allow him to be subject to the laws of our land and our Constitution."
I guess the American Constitution, in accordance to Kerry, Obama, Feinstein, et al., is flexible, applied only in such cases when it suits the authorities and not when it suits the citizens. This includes both the First Amendment and Fourth Amendment. Ignorance is not bliss; neither is deception.

I would recommend that all members of Congress, the White House and the U.S. Supreme Court justices read the entire constitution. That’s right. Do an all-nighter if you must, but it’s essential, because your actions tell me that you are ignorant of what it says.

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You can read the rest of the article at [CNN]

Meet The Modern Family

Human Civilization

Frankly, I'm fed up with politicians in Washington lecturing the rest of us about family values.
Our families have values. But our government doesn’t.
Bill Clinton,
speech at Democratic National Convention,
July 16, 1992

A family is a unit of civilization. An ideal family ought to work together toward a common purpose or goal; in modern times it ought to be more than selfish individuals living and eating together under a common roof. For many, this means a traditional biological-based family, citing genetic similarities and religious or ethnic affiliation as the best basis for unity and harmony. I don’t agree; I have known families with only biological children who don’t get along; and others with children who are adopted who do.

In my estimation, a family is a unit of at least two individuals who decide, willingly, to live together. That’s it, a simple and clear definition. This could be a heterosexual couple with or children, a gay couple with children or a single parent with children. The children can be adopted, or biological, or a combination of both, including to what is referred as blended families. You get the picture. It is entirely up to individuals to decide how and with whom they want to live.

The state has no moral or ethical ground to interfere, as they often do, in the inalienable rights of individual on how they want live as a family.  The chief question is who gave politicians, ill-equipped to decide on such matters— given their pre-modern ideological and religious biases— the power and authority to legislate such intimate and personal relations? I wouldn’t.

Today, there are two generally competing ideas: traditional religious views and secular liberal views; there is little meeting of the ways, little tolerance for differences, little acceptance for deviations from traditional norms. One of the modern norms, a prevailing idea that has gained strength in the last 40 years, is that money and resources make family life easier, more rewarding. While there is some modicum of truth in this “belief,” many of the reasons why it is given so much sway is that the wealthy use this idea as a means to hold power and influence over those who lack money, influence and power.

In other words, wealth and political power dictates moral supremacy and moral reasoning, even if the wealthy and political classes themselves often live dissolute lives, in opposition to the norms they vociferously say they defend: the Great Moral Code of Religion and Tradition. Yet, such a moral and ethical code is set aside by the wealthy and powerful —given only little relevance and triumphed and trumpeted for public consumption—and dumped on the less-fortunate, the Great Unwashed, if you will. The reasons are clear enough.

Given the way many nation-states operate today, it is inconceivable to consider them as true moral agents. As U.S. President Clinton remarked some twenty years ago, such ostensible representatives of the people are ill-suited to make even the most minor of decisions related to the health and welfare of the ordinary citizen. Let alone important and intimate ones as to the make-up of a family and how people ought to live.


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Michael Jackson: Man In The Mirror



Michael Jackson [1958–2009] performs “Man in the Mirror,” a 1988 single from his album Bad. It’s important to take a good look at ourselves, to reflect and see what we have become; some is good; some is not.

Good morning, political leaders, your ignorance is showing…again. You represent no one but yourself and your selfish interests. You are indeed prisoners of your ideas, locked up in a palace of mirrors of your own design. Do you like what you see?

The sad thing (for humanity) is that those who need to change the most are least likely to do so; they won't even look in the mirror to see what they have become: hideous beings, far removed from humanity, walking talking automatons devoid of genuine emotions. The problem is not there is too much moralizing, it’s that there is too little devoted to the right areas, where the need is greatest.

A honest sincere individual, on the other hand, takes stock and makes the necessary changes, even if it goes against conformist, conventional thinking. Such is true freedom; such is true dignity; such is true humanity.

For those interested there is another version here, which shows the just a small sampling of the atrocities, destructiveness and stupidity of war; and another from a 2009 documentary on Michael Jackson, called Man in the Mirror. Appropriate enough.
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As I, Turn Up The Collar On My Favourite Winter Coat/This Wind Is Blowin' My Mind/I See The Kids In The Street,/With Not Enough To Eat/Who Am I, To Be Blind?/Pretending Not To See Their Needs

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Man in the Mirror
by Glen Ballard and Siedah Garrett.

I'm Gonna Make A Change,
For Once In My Life
It's Gonna Feel Real Good,
Gonna Make A Difference
Gonna Make It Right . . .

As I, Turn Up The Collar On My
Favourite Winter Coat
This Wind Is Blowin' My Mind
I See The Kids In The Street,
With Not Enough To Eat
Who Am I, To Be Blind?
Pretending Not To See
Their Needs
A Summer's Disregard,
A Broken Bottle Top
And A One Man's Soul
They Follow Each Other On
The Wind Ya' Know
'Cause They Got Nowhere
To Go
That's Why I Want You To
Know

I'm Starting With The Man In
The Mirror
I'm Asking Him To Change
His Ways
And No Message Could Have
Been Any Clearer
If You Wanna Make The World
A Better Place
(If You Wanna Make The
World A Better Place)
Take A Look At Yourself, And
Then Make A Change
(Take A Look At Yourself, And
Then Make A Change)
(Na Na Na, Na Na Na, Na Na,
Na Nah)

I've Been A Victim Of A Selfish
Kind Of Love
It's Time That I Realize
That There Are Some With No
Home, Not A Nickel To Loan
Could It Be Really Me,
Pretending That They're Not
Alone?

A Willow Deeply Scarred,
Somebody's Broken Heart
And A Washed-Out Dream
(Washed-Out Dream)
They Follow The Pattern Of
The Wind, Ya' See
Cause They Got No Place
To Be
That's Why I'm Starting With
Me
(Starting With Me!)

I'm Starting With The Man In
The Mirror
(Ooh!)
I'm Asking Him To Change
His Ways
(Ooh!)
And No Message Could Have
Been Any Clearer
If You Wanna Make The World
A Better Place
(If You Wanna Make The
World A Better Place)
Take A Look At Yourself And
Then Make A Change
(Take A Look At Yourself And
Then Make A Change)

I'm Starting With The Man In
The Mirror
(Ooh!)
I'm Asking Him To Change His
Ways
(Change His Ways-Ooh!)
And No Message Could've
Been Any Clearer
If You Wanna Make The World
A Better Place
(If You Wanna Make The
World A Better Place)
Take A Look At Yourself And
Then Make That . . .
(Take A Look At Yourself And
Then Make That . . .)
Change!

I'm Starting With The Man In
The Mirror,
(Man In The Mirror-Oh
Yeah!)
I'm Asking Him To Change
His Ways
(Better Change!)
No Message Could Have
Been Any Clearer
(If You Wanna Make The
World A Better Place)
(Take A Look At Yourself And
Then Make The Change)
(You Gotta Get It Right, While
You Got The Time)
('Cause When You Close Your
Heart)
You Can't Close Your . . .Your
Mind!
(Then You Close Your . . .
Mind!)
That Man, That Man, That
Man, That Man
With That Man In The Mirror
(Man In The Mirror, Oh Yeah!)
That Man, That Man, That Man
I'm Asking Him To Change
His Ways
(Better Change!)
You Know . . .That Man
No Message Could Have
Been Any Clearer
If You Wanna Make The World
A Better Place
(If You Wanna Make The
World A Better Place)
Take A Look At Yourself And
Then Make A Change
(Take A Look At Yourself And
Then Make A Change)
Hoo! Hoo! Hoo! Hoo! Hoo!
Na Na Na, Na Na Na, Na Na,
Na Nah
(Oh Yeah!)
Gonna Feel Real Good Now!
Yeah Yeah! Yeah Yeah!
Yeah Yeah!
Na Na Na, Na Na Na, Na Na,
Na Nah
(Ooooh . . .)
Oh No, No No . . .
I'm Gonna Make A Change
It's Gonna Feel Real Good!
Come On!
(Change . . .)
Just Lift Yourself
You Know
You've Got To Stop It.
Yourself!
(Yeah!-Make That Change!)
I've Got To Make That Change,
Today!
Hoo!
(Man In The Mirror)
You Got To
You Got To Not Let Yourself . . .
Brother . . .
Hoo!
(Yeah!-Make That Change!)
You Know-I've Got To Get
That Man, That Man . . .
(Man In The Mirror)
You've Got To
You've Got To Move! Come
On! Come On!
You Got To . . .
Stand Up! Stand Up!
Stand Up!
(Yeah-Make That Change)
Stand Up And Lift
Yourself, Now!
(Man In The Mirror)
Hoo! Hoo! Hoo!
Aaow!
(Yeah-Make That Change)
Gonna Make That Change . . .
Come On!
(Man In The Mirror)
You Know It!
You Know It!
You Know It!
You Know . . .
(Change . . .)
Make That Change.

Taking A Leaf From The Conservative Book

Liberal Policies

One of the chief problems that liberals or progressive face is that it is more or less a fragmented non-cohesive group. Unlike the conservatives who have rallied around the single issue of how to interpret the U.S. Constitution, an idea called “originalism,” liberals or progressives have not. While this is a good thing for a healthy democracy, it is not good if one wants to gain political power, and thus influence to promote change Lorna Salzman writes: “But let‘s assume that liberals can potentially unify around some common principles. What would that be? Would it be social and economic justice? Peace? Jobs? And how would they arrive at these? I would like to suggest that ecology and evolution are the logical and consistent concepts that unite the various environmental factions, if not those who still think social justice must take precedence.”


***********************

by Lorna Salzman

The New York Times Book Review section of May 12th included an interesting review of potential relevance to those of us who favor (but do not optimistically anticipate) major systemic reforms of the growth-fixated consumer capitalist society and our global ecological crisis.

The book reviewed, The Federalist Society: How Conservatives Took the Law Back from Liberals, may be too late to give us pragmatic lessons but if you are not a defeatist it offers some interesting guidance. The reviewer, Jeffrey Rosen, remarks on how “economic conservatives, social conservatives, Christian conservatives and libertarians, many of whom disagree with each other on significant issues, (but who) cooperate in advancing a broad conservative agenda,”as the book’s authors Michael Avery and Danielle McLaughlin write.

Cohen says the authors achieved their many legal victories “by persuading the competing factions of the modern conservative movement to set aside their ideological differences and to converge around a constitutional methodology known as ‘originalism’—the idea that judges should interpret the Constitution as understood by its framers and ratifiers.”

While Cohen says the book does not offer a plan or model for taking the law back from “liberal orthodoxy,” there is no question that it was a successful strategy. What immediately comes to mind is the continuing fragmentation of liberal and leftist groups (usually focused on a single issue) who variously hawk their campaigns for peace, workers‘ rights, environment, economic equity, and social justice, and with little success it should be said.

The failure of the liberals to develop a coherent guiding philosophy and a set of principles equal to “originalism” for social, economic and legislative reform can be traced in part to the existence of the Democratic Party, which was expert in talking the talk but on virtually all counts never walked the walk. The alignment of Obama and the Democrats with Wall St., its scornful rejection of even discussion of universal single payer health care, and its obeisance to the oil and nuclear industries all testify to the naivete of liberal voters and party members, who lambasted Ralph Nader’s presidential candidacy even though it was the only campaign in memory to directly attack corporate capitalism, Wall St. and globalization. The ugly and vicious smears of Nader by The Nation, the Center for American Progress and the usual liberal toadies are hard to forget and harder to forgive.

But let's assume that liberals can potentially unify around some common principles. What would that be? Would it be social and economic justice? Peace? Jobs? And how would they arrive at these? I would like to suggest that ecology and evolution are the logical and consistent concepts that unite the various environmental factions, if not those who still think social justice must take precedence.There are animal rights groups, vegetarians, food safety/organic food groups, groups opposing genetically modified foods, renewable energy groups, wilderness advocates, population control, ocean fisheries protectors, fighters against pollution of air, water and soil, and those concerned about endangered species.

What unites them against corporations, polluters and the “anthropocene” gangs are the precepts of ecology.... biological and ecosystem-based concerns. Is it too much to ask of those with a narrow focus such as animal rights or ocean protectors or renewable energy to try and understand the ecological and evolutionary concepts that underly their own battles?

If the protection of living species, habitats and ecosystems is not perceived as the all-encompassing and imperative objective of activists, what IS? And if these groups and movements are unable to understand the connection of their issue to the preservation of the very fabric of life, a fabric woven over millions of years by evolution that is now being shredded, do they understand that failure to acknowledge this connection dooms THEIR movement as well as all the others?

What I am saying is that there has never been a more urgent moment for ecological thinkers and activists to persist in their path and increase their efforts to educate these other liberal factions on the overriding ecological crisis, a crisis which renders or will render shortly all narrow concerns null and void. Unless the environmental liberals put aside their petty single-issue focus and place their issue in an ecological context, they are doomed to oblivion.

The U.S. Green Party is the perfect example of this failure. It’s time to head off another failure and force the liberals to come to the table and get their heads straightened out. The first step will be to definitively separate from the Democratic Party. That’s the easy part. The hard part is recognizing the futility of their isolated actions and deciding to end this isolation. Not hanging together means hanging separately.

*******************************
The author, a graduate of Cornell University, has been an environmental writer, lecturer and activist since the 1970s. Her articles on environment, energy, biodiversity and natural history have appeared in leading journals here and abroad, including The Ecologist, Index on Censorship, Resurgence, New Politics, and Business & Society Review. Her professional career began when David Brower, the leading conservationist of the 20th century in the USA, hired her as mid-Atlantic representative for Friends of the Earth, where she worked on wetlands, coastal zone and nuclear power issues for over a decade. In this period she was instrumental in the preservation of two key wildlife habitats (Swan Pond and Maple Swamp) in Suffolk County, NY.

Later she became an editor at the National Audubon Society's journal, 
American Birds, followed by directorship of the anti-food irradiation group, Food and Water. In the mid 1980s she co-founded the New York Greens, later the New York Green Party, on whose state committee she served for several years, and became active in the national green movement.

She worked for three years as a natural resource specialist in the NYC Dept. of Environmental Protection, focusing on wetlands and coastal zone protection. In 2002 she was the Suffolk County Green Party candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in the 1st CD on eastern Long Island, and in 2004 she was a candidate for the U.S. Green Party's presidential nomination. Her hobbies are mushroom hunting, classical music and birding around the world with her composer-husband Eric. They have twin daughters, one a pop composer and lyricist in NYC and the other a poet and writer based in England. They live in Brooklyn Heights, NY, and East Quogue, NY, and have lived for extended periods in Italy and France.


*********************************
Copyright ©2013. Lorna Salzman. All Rights Reserved. It is published here with the author's permission. More of her writing can be found at www.lornasalzman.com.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Vegetarian Diet Good For The Heart

Healthy Eating

A vegetarian diet is good for the heart says an article in NIH News in Health; about 2% of Americans follow some form of a vegetarian diet, which tends to focus on fruits, vegetables, dried beans, seeds and nuts.
People have many reasons for becoming vegetarians. Some want to eat more healthy foods. Others have religious or economic reasons or are concerned about animal welfare. “Vegetarian diets are also more sustainable and environmentally sound than diets that rely heavily on meat, poultry and fish,” says NIH nutritionist Dr. Susan Krebs-Smith, who monitors trends in cancer risk factors. Most people think of vegetarian diets as simply eating plant foods and not eating meat, poultry and fish. “But in fact, there are many different types of vegetarian diets,” Krebs-Smith explains. “Some are more restrictive than others.”
Strict vegetarians, or vegans, eat plant foods and reject all animal products—meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy and sometimes honey. Those who also eat dairy products are called lacto vegetarians. Vegetarians who eat both dairy and eggs are called lacto-ovo vegetarians.
Some vegetarians eat fish but not meat or poultry. They’re called pescatarians (pesce is Italian for fish). “Then there are the so-called flexitarians, or semi-vegetarians. These are people who eat a mostly vegetarian diet, but they occasionally eat meat,” says Jody Engel, a nutritionist and registered dietitian at NIH. “They might say ‘I’m a vegetarian, but I need to eat my burgers every Sunday.’ People tend to follow their own rules, which is one reason why it’s hard for researchers to study vegetarians. There’s so much variance.”
Despite the different definitions, “there’s tremendous agreement among nutrition experts and health organizations that a more plant-based diet is beneficial, whether you’re a true vegetarian or not,” says Krebs-Smith. “Most Americans don’t eat enough fruit, vegetables, legumes or whole grains. There’s a huge consensus that eating more of these foods would be a good idea for everyone.”

Vegetarian diets tend to have fewer calories, lower levels of saturated fat and cholesterol, and more fiber, potassium and vitamin C than other eating patterns. Vegetarians tend to weigh less than meat-eaters, and to have lower cancer rates. “Evidence also suggests that a vegetarian diet is associated with a lower risk of death from certain heart diseases, and that those who follow a vegetarian diet tend to have lower LDL [“bad”] cholesterol levels,” says Engel.
Even if you decide not to follow a strict vegetarian diet, which is my case, there is  decided benefit in eating more fruits and vegetables and consuming less red meat.There is proof in scientific studies, the article says: “To date, the researchers have found that the closer people are to being vegetarian, the lower their risk of diabetes, high blood pressure and metabolic syndrome (a condition that raises your risk for heart disease and stroke).”

********************
You can read the rest of the article at [NIH Health News]

The Cancer Blog: Week 22

My Health



This blog within a blog will discuss cancer and all of my fears, hopes and expectations for a positive outcome—full and complete recovery. In addition, I plan to throw in some latest medical research. All cancer patients are interested, to some degree, in research and the latest medical findings; I am no exception. 

Today is Day 189 living with cancer.




One of the many things that I have to deal with is my eating habits and, in particularly, making healthier food choices as a way to improve my chances of  beating cancer, which I have every confidence of achieving with great success. In many ways it is up to me, in my control; I also have help from my wife, who monitors what I consume.  I have written previously, although elliptically, that some of my habits in regards to food choices have changed. I am eating less red meat, more lean chicken and decidedly more fruits and vegetables.

There is not a day that goes by that I haven’t eaten at least five servings of a fruit or vegetable; often more. And that doesn’t include drinking more fruit juices and less coffee. I now average a cup of coffee a day; sometimes I will have a second cup, but not frequently. Before I was diagnosed with cancer I would typically drink three cups a day.

Are there any scientific studies supporting this new regime? Yes, there are a number of good studies.

1. Fruit And Vegetables Have Wide Health Benefits: An article in Cancer Research UK says:
People were first recommended to eat five portions of fruit and vegetables a day in 1991 based on the scientific evidence at the time. Since then, many expert reports on diet and cancer prevention have supported the 5-a-day message 20,,31,32,33,34.
Eating five daily portions of fruit and vegetables can help you maintain a healthy body weight. 20 Doing this can help you reduce the risk of bowel, breast, kidney, womb and oesophageal cancers. And getting enough fruit and vegetables can also reduce the risk of many other diseases including heart disease and diabetes. 20,35 The EPIC study found that people who ate the most fruit and vegetables reduced their risk of dying from chronic diseases like heart diseases, cancer and diabetes by a quarter. 36
2. Dietary Fat and Colon Cancer Risk: An article in WebMD says:
Dietary fat may be one of the biggest contributors to the cancer-causing process. High fat consumption increases the amount of bile acids in the colon. Bile acids can promote tumor growth, especially of the cells that line the colon.
Eating goals: 
  • Decrease the total amount of fat you eat to 20%-35% or less of your total daily calories. For a person eating 2,000 calories a day, this would be about 44-77 grams of fat or less per day.
  • Limit cholesterol intake to 300 milligrams (mg) or less per day.
  • Decrease saturated fat (animal fat, butter, coconut, and palm oils) to less than 10% of your total calories per day. For a person eating 2,000 calories a day, this would be 22 grams of saturated fat or less per day.
  • Eliminate trans fats from your diet. Trans fats are in foods like margarine, packaged baked goods, fast food, some frozen prepared foods, chips, and crackers. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires that the trans fat content of foods is now listed on the food label along with saturated fat and dietary cholesterol.
3. Nutrition And Fitness: An article in the Canadian Cancer Society says:
We wish we could tell you that preventing cancer was as simple as eating a certain food or doing a certain exercise, but we can’t. This much, though, is clear: You have a higher risk of developing cancer if you are overweight. Staying at a healthy body weight reduces your risk of cancer. Eating well – lots of veggies and fruit, lots of fibre, and little fat and sugar – will help you keep a healthy body weight. 
Regular physical activity helps protect against cancer. It’s also one of the best ways to help you stay at a healthy body weight, which reduces your risk of cancer.
Red meat and processed meat increase your risk of cancer.

Food for thought: About one-third of all cancers can be prevented by eating well, being active and maintaining a healthy body weight.
The science is clear: it’s the overall pattern of living that’s important. You can lower your risk if you move more, stay lean and eat plenty of vegetables and fruit, as well as other plant foods such as whole grains and beans.
There seems to be a scientific consensus that it is important to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, consume lots of fibre, less sugar and fats, especially trans fats and maintain an ideal body weight. Equally important is is also necessary to exercise to stay or become fit.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

See The Summer Solstice Supermoon

Astronomy



Supermoon On the Rise: “This moon, seen from San Pedro de Atacama, Chile, was the largest of 2012. This year’s supermoon will occur on June 23, and appear 8 percent larger and 17 percent brighter,” NatGeo says.
Photo Credit: Felipe Trueba; NatGeo; 2012
Source: NatGeo
An article in National Geographic, by Andrew Fazekas, says that viewers from earth will be able to see a moon that is larger than usual, in what astronomers officially call a “perigee full moon,” or laymen a “supermoon.”

Fazekas writes:
On June 23, the moon will be at its closest distance to Earth for 2013 while in its full phase. As a result, it will appear 8 percent larger and 17 percent brighter than usual—an event widely known as a supermoon. And making it a bit more special, thanks to coincidental timing, this supermoon will be coming on the heels of the June solstice, which takes place only two days before.
Armchair astronomers can also catch the sky show virtually via a live high-definition webcast of the supermoon through SLOOH telescopes in the Canary Islands, off the coast of Africa, starting at 9 p.m. EDT or 6 p.m. PDT on June 23. 
The monthly full moon always looks like a big disk, but because its orbit around the Earth is egg-shaped, there are times in the lunar cycle when the moon is at its shortest distance from Earth (called perigee) and times when the moon is at its farthest distance from Earth (called apogee). Likewise, because the size of the moon's orbit varies slightly, each month's perigee is not always the same distance from Earth.
Two years ago, the so-called supermoon was the closest it's been in two decades—only 356,575 kilometers from Earth. For this weekend's perigee, the moon will be a tad farther from us at 356,991 kilometers. That's a bit closer than the typical 364,000 kilometers distance, and is set to occur on June 23 at 7:09 a.m. EDT. (The official full moon phase occurs at 7:32 a.m. EDT.)
"The exact moment when the moon is at perigee, it will be overhead in the southern Pacific Ocean," said Anthony Cook, an astronomical observer at Los Angeles's Griffith Observatory. "The western portion of the Americas will see this at sunrise/moonset, while the eastern portion of Asia/Australia will see it at sunset/moonrise."
Such astronomical sights are always exciting to view, since they give us a view of nature’s consistency and predictability and science’s ability to both observe and measure. But such sights are not only for the scientifically inclined, the artists in us, photographers to be sure, can enjoy the beauty and awesomeness of the moon, which often beckons us and captivates our imaginations and inner yearnings for discovery and escape.

***************
You can read the rest of the article at [NatGeo].

According to Live Science, Sunday’s supermoon will reach its peak fullness at 7:32 a.m. EDT. EarthKy.org gives the time of peak fullness at different U.S. time zones: 7:32 a.m. EDT, 6:32 a.m. CDT, 5:32 a.m. MDT and 4:32 a.m. PDT.

Charles Ives:Symphony No. 2



Leonard Bernstein conducts the Second Symphony of the American composer Charles Ives (1874-1954), with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, in 1987. The second part can be viewed here; and the third part here. Although Ives composed this piece at the turn of the century (around 1900), it was Bernstein who first premiered this work a half-century later, in 1951, with the the New York PhilharmonicIves himself did not attend the performance but rather listened to it on a neighbour’s radio.

***************************

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Marvin Gaye: I Heard It Through The Grapevine



Marvin Gaye [1939-1984] performs “I Heard It Through The Grapevine,” at the Montreux jazz festival in 1980; the song, written and composed by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong for Motown Records in 1966, was made famous by Marvin Gaye in a single released in October 1968 on Motown’s Tamla label. [There is an excellent bio article here (“Marvin Gaye: His Tragic Death and His Troubled Life”; Jet; June 16, 1984), following his death on April 1, 1984.]

People say believe half of what you see,/Son, and none of what you hear./I can't help bein' confused/If it's true please tell me dear?

*************
I Heard It Through The Grapevine 
by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong

Ooh, I bet you're wondering how I knew
About you plans to make me blue
With some other guy that you knew before.
Between the two of us guys
You know I love you more.
It took me by surprise I must say,
When I found out yesterday.
Don't you know that...

(Chorus:)
I heard it through the grapevine
Not much longer would you be mine.
Oh I heard it through the grapevine,
Oh and I'm just about to lose my mind.
Honey, honey yeah.

I know that a man ain't supposed to cry,
But these tears I can't hold inside.
Losin' you would end my life you see,
'Cause you mean that much to me.
You could have told me yourself
That you love someone else.
Instead...

(Chorus)

People say believe half of what you see,
Son, and none of what you hear.
I can't help bein' confused
If it's true please tell me dear?
Do you plan to let me go
For the other guy you loved before?
Don't you know...

(Chorus)

Honey Honey I know
That you're letting me go
said, "I heard it through the grapvine"
Heard it theought the grapevine......