Posted by silentarchimedes on February 7, 2009
What is going on with the world today? Many of the institutions and systems we grew up with and believed in have crumbled faster than a crumb cake in front of Santa Claus. This morning sports fans were shockingly (or not) met with news that one of the few remaining baseball superstars to not be tainted by the steroids scandal, Alex Rodriguez, failed an MLB steroids test in 2003. Considering that this news was corroborated by four independent sources, and based on past evidence of such news, this story likely has meat behind it. As the Barry Bonds’, baseball’s all-time home run king, steroids perjury trial heads to court, we wonder if there is anything sacred anymore in sportsmanship and fair play. The list now includes Bonds, Arod, Marc McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Roger Clemens and Raphael Palmeiro. All were heroes and idols to millions and millions of kids and sports fans.
Sports is nothing, however, compared to the deepening economic crisis affecting the country. But, then again we need to ask ourselves how did this country fall into such a dire situation in the first place? With news of unemployment reaching 7.6%, worst since 1982, most Americans are sensing a pessimism in the country and its leadership they have never felt before. Corporations that have long been stalwarts have wilted after years of trustworthy service. Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers and AIG, just to name a few. Even General Electric has fallen on tough times due to untrustworthy leadership expectations and financial exposure. Then there are the frauds of individuals, such Bernie Madoff, and corporations, such as Enron and Global Crossing.
Polar bear cub
Then there is the global warming and energy crises. Due to the irresponsible and rampant use of oil and other natural resources, and the irresponsible output of chemicals into the air, river and ground, the natural balance of Earth has come under question. Dire predictions of sea levels, global temperatures, forestation, glacial coverage, droughts and diseases have left us wondering is there any hope left? Will there exist a viable Earth in 100 to 200 years?
It is truly amazing that all three of these problems have one major thing in common. Greed. Greed. Greed. What is most disturbing is that the situations did not become problems until the ultimate greed kicked in. Arod was already a once in a generation baseball player back in high school. It is fair to say that he did not do steroids as a teenager as his body structure was simply too small. Bonds was a skinny player with the Pirates but was already a five tool player on the path to the Hall of Fame. McGwire was an amazingly talented rookie with the Oakland Athletics. Why did they feel the need to use steroids and become even better than they already were? Why risk already amazing career trajectories with such greed?
Similarly, the financial companies that have gone bankrupt or bought up were very viable and successful companies (some for over a hundred years) before the ARMs and hedge funds became en vogue. Why the greed to do such risky investments in order to raise the bottom line and stock price? Was it all due to increasing stock compensation packages of executives? Was it all worth it? To dupe millions of unknowing citizens just for more personal money? What about Madoff? An already well-respected and wealthy investor; what caused him to risk everyone’s money (including hundreds of other wealthy individuals and companies), just to make more money for his firm?
Finally, the earth has remained relatively stable ever since the existence of man. However, since the Industrial Revolution and especially since the widespread use of combustible engines, there has been this disregard for the side effects of using such resources. Coupled with research in biochemistry and synthetic compounds, the effects of pesticides, mercury, lead and carbons have led to a precarious global balance. Millions of animal species extinct or on the brink of survival.
Are humans, the supposedly most “intelligent” species with opposable thumbs, in fact, the dumbest species ever? Just imagine outsiders writing about the history of man and what they would write about, especially the past 150 years. Just imagine what they would write about western civilization. Just imagine what they would say about the population numbers. Or about technology and medical research? Is this the final goal of evolution? We have reached the ultimate in special survival… our only enemy is ourselves? The whole purpose of natural selection is the survival of the strong. However, part of natural selection is natural balance. A species never wants to become too powerful because then their food sources and natural enemies would disappear. Humans have, in essence, overcome both these natural laws. Through natural selection (our brains and opposable thumbs) we are far and beyond the most powerful species. In a relatively short time, our population and power increased beyond control. Humans have no more natural enemies. The machines we have created are unmatched and only destructible amongst ourselves. So what does this all mean?
The human world does not have a checks and balance system. Nature and other species have always acted as the equalizers. The closest thing that comes to that is the United Nations, and everyone knows how ineffective it is. Additionally, idealistic political systems such as communism and socialism have proven futile. Even checks and balance systems, such as the one in the United States, has a limited efficacy, as witnessed by the politics, lobbyism and other issues. Nature is having a difficult time balancing the effects of human greed and power. Diseases and natural disasters are becoming minimal in damage due to medical research and better disaster predictions. Without any natural enemies, we are left to govern ourselves and our future. As exciting of a possibility that is, the track record of that has been phenomenally pathetic.
Posted in Economics, Ethics, Health and Fitness, Opinion, Politics, Science and Math, Sports, Technology | Tagged: Alex Rodriguez, arod, Barry Bonds, baseball, Bear Stearns, economic crisis, economy, energy, evolution, global warming, greed, Madoff, money, natural resources, oil, polar bears, power, recession, Sports, steroids, unemployment, Yankees | 6 Comments »
Posted by silentarchimedes on January 3, 2009
50 Secrets of the World’s Longest Living People
Author: Sally Beare
By Sally Beare (2006)
WHY I READ THIS BOOK
Catchy title. Bargain book at the local Barnes & Noble. This book was an easy choice to pick up. Who wouldn’t want a list of tips from the lifestyles of the world’s longest living people? I”m at the point in my life where youthfulness doesn’t protect me anymore from the stupid lifestyle decisions I make every now and then. The occasional chocolate cream puff or the yummy CPK garlic chicken pizza are not one-night stays in a hotel but treat my body like a three-month summer home. The staying up until 4am late nights affect more of the next day than back in college. And for all the years of fighting for independence from the parents, well, planning healthy daily diets and exercise now has become chores rather than reflex. A nice book to motivate and light a fire under an young adult passing 30 was necessary. So how did this book do?
THE AUTHOR: SALLY BEARE
I could not find an official webpage of Sally Beare’s or any Wikipedia or other page devoted to her. The short biography on B&N shows that her background is not in nutrition but in English, Psychology and Russian literature. After taking on several diverse jobs, she became a nutritionist only after she noticed dramatic improvements in her health after changing her diet. She has since written three books on the matter (GoodReads). She was born in England and now resides in Islamabad, Pakistan with her family.
In glancing at the title, you might quickly think that the book is simply a list of 50 secrets that were gleamed from people who lived a really long time. Although the list is obviously part of the book, it is actually only half the book. Beare has done her homework and talks in great detail about the five long-living communities that she researched for this book. Part One of the book describes the lifestyles of the Okinawans, Symians and three others, and offers insights into their similarities and reasons for long life. Part two is a listing of the 50 secrets, but each secret is accompanied by how the communities put the secret to action. The final section puts it all together and suggests recipes that would help in living these secrets.
To many people that pick up this book, the 50 secrets sticks out more than reading about the world’s longest living people. There is this assumption that people that live a long time live simple, stress-free lives. Although we know this, we don’t adhere to it because we don’t really think that is possible in America, the age of work, work, work and money, money, money. However, taking the time to read a book like this would help nonetheless because it would put your crazy busy life in perspective. The fact that the high quality of life in America does not lead to longer lives (as compared to simpler communities around the world) has to be disconcerting.
The majority of the 50 life secrets in the book are very insightful. I have heard many of them before, but to read about them with strong evidence that a certain long-living community adheres to them sinks in more. We are inundated with contradicting health suggestions on the news and Internet that we become confused with what to follow and tune them out. We also become jaded by the confusion surrounding health advice that used to be taken as a given. For example, the efficacy of multi-vitamins has been thrown into question lately. This book does not seem like it has ulterior motives. It is simply a relay of observations by an author that did her research. I like the book for that.
I really enjoyed the first part of the book, where Beare talks about each community in detail. Most people have heard of long-living people from Okinawa, Japan, but how many have heard of the Symians in Greece, or the Hunzakuts in Pakistan? The third part of the book was also nice. Putting everything together, offering suggestions on how to put the advice to use in busy livelihoods and giving good healthy recipes.
So, how was the major part of the book? The 50 secrets? Unsurprisingly, 37 of them are diet-related. The other thirteen are lifestyle-related, such as the importance of exercise and living a more simple and emotionally-balanced life. Most of the secrets are useful and can be done with only a little bit of consciousness when going grocery shopping. The problem I have with this section is its length. It takes 174 pages for the 50 secrets in my edition. That’s roughly 3.5 pages per secret. Now that may not seem like much, but do you really need to spend six pages on Finding Good Fats in Fish (secret 11) or seven pages on how to Choose Buckwheat, Brown Rice, and Other Whole Grains (secret 3)? The problem is actually not in the secret description, its the stories that come from the longest-living people about that particular secret. At first, this was fun reading and actually helped the validity of the list, but then it started becoming repetitive and it seemed like the author was straining to fill pages on certain secrets. For example, many secrets are closely tied to each other and stories from the communities are obviously going to be similar regarding the secrets. For example, the whole grains secret mentioned above and Have a Handful of Nuts and Seeds Daily are pretty self-explanatory. In the end, most of the diet stories have the same examples, the people use them in their meals. No need to go on and on about each one. Most of these stories should just have been left in Part One and leave Part Two solely on the secrets and the scientific evidence behind them.
This is a good book. Although the length could have been much shorter, I respect the author for doing thorough research. Of the 37 diet secrets, I would say two-thirds of them are definitely doable right away. Some like Use Hemp and Sprout Your Own Superfoods, are unrealistic, especially for a young adult male like myself. The 13 non-diet secrets are very good because it really puts our busy lives into perspective. We realize how we have neglected the value of sleep, exercise, laughing and breathing all for what? Money? Instant gratification?
The value of the secrets and Part One of the book makes this book worthy of 8 stars.
Rating: 8 out of 10 stars
Posted in Books, Health and Fitness, List, Reviews | Tagged: Barnes & Noble, Beare, brown rice, chocolate, diet, exercise, fish, health, hemp, Hunza, Hunzakut, Islamabad, long lives, money, nuts, Okinawa, Pakistan, pizza, Sally Beare, sleep, stress, superfoods, Symi, vitamins, whole grains, world's longest living people | 4 Comments »
Posted by silentarchimedes on October 10, 2008
Posted in Ethics, Opinion, Poll | Tagged: 10000, bugs, cheat, cockroach, crawling, fight, grizzly, homeless, kimbo, money, naked, Poll, rats, what would you do | Leave a Comment »