To everyone’s life a little humor must fall. If you’re willing to throw political correctness to the wind and want to see what’s really going on in the world. You have to go to http://www.fark.com . It’s someplace I visit each and everyday.
Recently, at my Rotary club, I invited Ty Cobb to speak at our club (no, not that one, although THAT would have been one hell of a trick) about the subject of Iraq. Ty got back from Iraq last year where he worked to help the country develop a democratic government. His speech made me rethink what is really going on in the Arab, especially in Iraq.
One of the most important comments he made was how incredible it was to see the democratic process unfold in a country that has never had the right to vote. He described a town hall meeting where women in burqa’s and women in jeans sat next to businessmen and Imam’s, all with vastly differing ideas about how Iraq should be run. It was amazing occurrence, yet the media, right wing and left wing gave very little coverage of this historic event. I guess it wasn’t sexy enough to be covered yet in my opinion, it was a truly historic event. How sad that we don’t ever get to see the human side of what’s going on.
Mr. Cobb was asked a question from the audience about what the most important thing was in Iraq. Was it religion? Was it democracy? Was it differences between ethnic groups? Was it money? Sitting next to him at the podium, I got to see his reaction which was immediate, even before the question was fully answered. He unequivocally said “Money!” The bottom line is “How do I feed my family and when the hell is my electricity going to be turned on.”
What struck me was the thought that this is really the issue in the Middle East, Africa, Asia and even here in the United States of America. “It’s the economy stupid.” You want to know the fastest way to create and train a suicide bomber? Give him no hope of making a good life for himself, make it so he feels like his life is worthless, keep him unemployed and unemployable. Then have a crazed Islamist (not Muslim, big difference) who promises a better afterlife and bingo, suicide bomber. Want to stop them? Don’t get up on the podium and tell them to relax and not take a cartoon seriously, find a way to give these people hope. If these young men and women had a hope for a good life and employment, the ranks of the suicide bombers would dry up rapidly.
Is the Bush administration doing this? Yes and no. Their rhetoric is oppositional and exactly what the extremists want to hear. Their actions in Iraq and Afghanistan are exactly what needs to be done, despite what the media would have you believe. Improvements in Iraq are happening, the people are putting together militias to fight the insurgency but you wouldn’t know it if you turned on the news. Our people in Iraq are trying to do the right thing but our government, and I mean the executive branch as well as Congress isn’t doing enough.
You can’t have Vice President Dick Cheney’s former employer Halliburton getting a no bid contract to rebuild Iraq, overcharge us the US taxpayers (it’s not the government their ripping off it’s you and me) and expect the people and the media to not doubt every damn thing you do. If it smells like…. I don’t have to paint that picture do I?
On the other side, you have idiots from the left telling us to just pull out and blow everything we have done already. In my opinion, there was no justification for us to go to Iraq. Having said that, the reality is that we are there and we have to make things right. While there are a lot of similarities to Vietnam, there are some major differences (for another blog) that give us a good chance to succeed.
Oh for a leader who doesn’t tell me everything is ok when it isn’t and for an opposition that has ideas and not a group of nay sayers.
Last year, while travelling to Baden-Baden to speak at a conference, I decided to pick up a book at the airport bookstore in Atlanta. Something not related to health, science or business. The book I picked was The 5 People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Alblom, the author of Tuesday’s With Morrie.
I was so impressed by the book, I decided to buy a dozen of them and give it as my Christmas gift to some of my good friends. It is an easy read, but it is so uplifting and well written that I had to write about it here.
Without giving anything away, it is a story about a man who worked in what he thought was a meaningless job. Instead he finds out that he touched more lives than he could have ever imagined. If you don’t shed a tear while reading the last few chapters, than you’ve lost your heart.
If you can only read one book this year, read this one.
Some of you may or may not know the story about my daughter Tasya. She has a rare form of epilepsy that caused her to have both grand mal’s and drop seizures that was likely to have been caused by a birth defect somewhere deep in her brain (at least that is the best guest by her neurologist at Stanford).
For many years, her seizure activity was out of control although there were brief periods where things were good. One common problem we faced was her constant temper tantrums, often violent, often for no reason whatsoever. Nothing we tried to resolve the issue worked. My wife Hillary, a one time counseling psychologist, was stumped as was the outside psychologist we worked with. Freightened by the prospect of having to resort to tougher measures to help control her behavior we began to lose hope. Until we ran a food sensitivity test called LEAP from Signet Diagnostics.
The LEAP test is different from allergy testing as it isn’t looking for an immune system response. Instead, it is looking for pro-inflammatory responses from all of the cells in your blood stream. These pro-inflammatory cytokeines, leukotrienes and prostaglandins have been linked to diseases like Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Migraines, Coronary Heart Disease, Arthritis and much more. We were using the results to help Tasya control her seizure activity which, while much better than in years gone past, was still a problem with her occasionally having drop seizures which caused her to slam her head on her desk at school, or fall down and hurt herself while walking.
Our thought process was since migraines and seizures are very similar, maybe the LEAP test and its dietary recommendations would help Tasya. While we did see some small gains in seizure activity, the biggest change was with Tasya’s behavior. Before we ran the test in September of 2005, Tasya would have a temper tantrum 5-7 times a week. Since we implemented the changes in her diet (see http://www.carbonbased.com/modules/news/article.php?storyid=90) we have seen an incredible and dramatic change in her. She has only had 2 minor tantrums since the change and she has gone from a easily irritated child who was unable to control her temper, to a happy go lucky kid full of hope and happiness.
If you think that’s it, you’re mistaken. Her improvement in seizure activity has been as dramatic as her behavioral improvements due to 2 major changes we made starting in mid-October. First, we began to switch her from low dose Keppra, Zonegran and Phenobarbital to low dose Topamax and Lamictal. The second, and equally important change was to increase her taurine levels (a neuroinhibitory amino acid) to 4 grams a day (2 grams twice daily) thanks to a talk I had with Dr. Parris Kidd http://www.dockidd.com. In the 14 weeks since we made the change, Tasya’s drop seizure activity has almost completely stopped (only four mild ones – two before going to the dentists office and two after having food with aspartame in it). Her nocturnal seizures only happen when she is under undo stress and even those are milder than in the past.
While we are under no false assumption that she is “cured”, what we do have is a child who isn’t afraid of going to school, is happier and sharper, as well as being more relaxed and self assured.
For a more detailed story about Tasya, you’re all going to have to wait for my book to come out. It is already at 175 pages with about 250 planned so I’m not that far off. I’ll keep everyone updated as the publishing date comes closer.
Dr. Bruce Lipton, a cell biologist, has written an incredible book about the field of epigenetics and and how it effects all of us. Written for both lay persons and professionals in the field of health and science, I highly recommend the book The Biology of Belief.
If you saw my copy of the book, you would see about 50 flags popping out from the pages and tons of highlighted phrases, comments and quotes.
Here is an example of something I found quite profound (there are hundreds):
“In fact, only 5% of cancer and cardiovascular disease patients can attribute their disease to heredity. [Willett 2002] While the media made a big hoopla over the dicovery of BRCA1 and BRCA2 breast cancer genes, they failed to emphasize that ninety-five percent of breast cancers are not due to inherited genes. The malignancies in a significant number of cancer patients are derived from environmentally-induced epigenetic alterations and not defective genes. [Kling 2003; Jones 2001; Seppa 2000; Baylin 1997]”
How may of you have thought that “It’s the Gene’s Stupid?” when talking about the etiology of disease. Lipton counters with the brilliant comment “It’s the Environment Stupid”.
Insightful, fun to read and a valuable addition to anyones library.
An article in the recent issue of The New England Journal of Medicine (February 9, 2006 Vol. 354, No. 6) is a prime example of an anti-herbal, anti-nutritional attitude exhibited by the editors. They included a study titled “Saw Palmetto for Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia” in which the authors claim “…saw pametto did not improve symptoms or objective measures of benign prostatic hyperplasia.” This article is fraught with so many errors that it should make everyone wonder wheather the editors have a nefarious motive to discredit herbal medicine.
I know, its pretty strong language, but when you include a study of such poor quality that would not be published if it was about a drug, you can be pretty sure that the people who accepted this study for publication are anti-herbal.
First off, the dosage, as usual, was below what any naturopath would recomend to their patient. Second, the authors never verified that what they were giving to the study members was really the active ingredient in saw palmetto. Three of the authors (Drs. Kane, Shinohara and Avins) are also all well-paid consultants and/or are paid speaking fees by pharmaceutical companies that make drugs used to treat BPH. Conflict of interest screams quite loudly in my ears.
They came up with some pretty lame explanations for why this study seems to contradict 30 other studies that did find benefits to saw palmetto supplementation.
All in all, it is pretty sad that what the media reports is one negative study and not the 30 other positive ones. Drug company advertising money?