2011-03-31

diversity is wealth

The China Study (from wikipedia):


The China-Oxford-Cornell Study on Dietary, Lifestyle and Disease Mortality Characteristics in 65 Rural Chinese Counties was a study conducted throughout the 1970s and 1980s in rural China, jointly funded by the University of Oxford, Cornell University, and the Government of China. In 1991 The New York Times called it "the Grand Prix of epidemiology."The first two major studies were led by T. Colin Campbell, professor of nutritional biochemistry at Cornell, who summarized the results in his book The China Study (2005).

The study examined the diets, lifestyle and disease characteristics of populations of 65 rural Chinese counties, comparing the prevalence of disease characteristics, excluding causes of death such as accidents. The findings suggested that some diseases of affluence were caused by Westernization, especially the growing consumption of animal protein and dairy products, previously either unknown or uncommon in China.


In his book, Dr. Campbell writes about the Nurses' Health Study, and how the results seem misleading because all of the participants are basically eating the same diet:



The problem of studying a population that uniformly consumes a high-risk diet and looking at the differences in consumption of one nutrient at a time is not unique to the Nurses' Health Study. It is common to virtually all studies using Western subjects. Furthermore, there is little or no value to pooling the results of many large studies for analysis in order to get a more reliable result if all the studies have the same flaw.


Indeed, aren't we lucky that the Chinese tend to eat a pretty different diet than we do, and so we have a population to study to figure out why we're all dying of diseases of affluence? Diversity is wealth! Let's remember that while we're overseas trying to "help" other "poor" cultures that don't have our material wealth.

2011-03-30

peace musings

Peace is a simple allowance of loss.

Once violence of any kind (property, physical, psychological) has happened, the damage is done. No amount of fist-shaking, hooting and hollering, anger or revenge can undo what's been done. So not to accept what has happened is simply irrational. The world you wish for -- the one before the violence happened -- is gone! We can't get it back. Struggling to try and get it back is delusion and will lead to more suffering.

2011-03-27

assume the position

In zazen, we assume the position of seated meditation. Erect posture, firm yet relaxed. We maintain the position, regardless of what comes up in the mind. If we "wake up" to find ourselves sagging a bit, we simply re-assume the position and continue sitting. By assuming the position, we are kinglike, self-respecting, non-judging, accepting, relaxed. Whatever comes up, we welcome it. Simply by assuming the position and maintaining it, we become the attributes that we've assumed. Over time, equinimity, peace, understanding come.

In veganism, we assume the diet of non-harming. We avoid all animal products; meat, dairy, fish. These foods are associated with the suffering of animals (including dairy -- which I did not realize until recently). Even if we aren't sure we care, or how we feel about the animals, by assuming the position we reap the benefits. Over time we allow ourselves to look deeply into our food, and we make space for our compassion. We may also begin to look and feel healthier and more energetic. We don't need to have fully analyzed the consequences of this dietary position. Analysis is no substitute for experience anyway. We can simply assume the position, and over time, peace and compassion come.

In our daily lives, we can assume the position of happiness. Wherever we are, whenever we are, we can decide to put on a big smile and act as though we love life and are wonderfully happy. Even if we are not happy, assuming this position does its work. When we smile a big, thorough, genuine smile, and maintain it, we may find ourselves becoming happy in spite of our previous feelings. With time and practice, joy grows within us.

2011-03-26

the box

You wake up in a box. You don't understand why you were put there, or even if there was a reason. All you know is that you're in a box, with many others, and they don't seem to see the box at all. You are disturbed. You feel betrayed by whoever or whatever put you in the box.

2011-03-23

To change the day

To change the day:
be the day, then
change yourself

2011-03-22

the rich and the poor

For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always.


Some people have more material wealth than others. Is this immoral? Can we solve this problem politically? How?

2011-03-21

on high speed rail, and job creation

My US House Representative, Albio Sires, recently wrote an op-ed entitled Making high-speed rail a national priority. In it, he argues that among the benefits of a nationally-funded high-speed rail project are economic benefits:



During our nation’s prolonged period of economic challenges, it is my goal and the goal of many of my colleagues to create jobs and stimulate the economy. Investing in infrastructure is one of the most sound policy choices to meet this non-partisan objective. Studies estimate that for every $1 billion in infrastructure spending, 18,000 jobs will be created.


2011-03-20

email notification

For those that don't use an RSS aggregator, there's now a way to get email updates from this blog. Simply fill out the little box on the right hand side of the page. Let me know if you have any trouble with this feature.

eating plants can make you smarter


There are many paths to enlightenment. Be sure to take one with a heart.
- Lao Tzu


Eating plants is sweet. Based on my own experience, switching to a plant-based diet is one of the easiest ways to get to enjoy life more. Among the many benefits, I never suspected it would make me smarter. I'm totally convinced it does now. Here's how.

2011-03-18

funny thought

I wonder if the dolphins are smarter than us.

Perhaps they have language and they can talk to each other when they want to.

Perhaps they're aware of people and just as capable as us of creating machines, buildings, boats, computers.. but why, they say? What could be better than to swim in the sea, dancing and playing and experiencing true freedom?

If this were true, dolphins would be resolving themselves to take only what nature offers, and accept whatever nature decides to take away. Perhaps that's the only sustainable existence anyway, and maybe they know it but we don't.

Just a funny thought.

2011-03-17

why I don't believe in "white" lies

white lie (plural white lies)

1. (idiomatic) A deliberate, untrue statement which does no harm or is intended to produce a favorable result.

- from wiktionary

While most people agree that they don't want to make a habit of telling lies, many insist that there's a kind of lie that is harmless to tell. As the story goes, these so-called "white" lies serve to help protect people's feelings and there's little or no cost to telling them.

Here's why I challenge myself to avoid using these little guys.

2011-03-10

The Big Picture

An email sent from a friend and teacher of mine, Marek Stempi:

Subject: The Big Picture

... is the most important.
Keep your focus on the desired end result.
Considering plan-Bs only disperses energy, and you may wind up living the plan-B.
When in doubt ask yourself: Is this what I want? What is it that I really want?
Keep looking for the thrill of dreaming the plan-A.
Remind yourself how powerful your ideas were in the past, and decide that they are going to manifest in their full glory this time too.
Have fun with it and a wonderful day.
Marek.
PS.
Just to ease your doubtful side: I found few creative solutions to accommodate the B, so relax and enjoy dreaming the A.