The World Is Topsy Turvy


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Wasting Food Wastes Everything


Save The Food.

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Why Our Kids Should Hate Us


Vaxxed, the controversial documentary alleging a direct causal relationship between vaccines and exponential increases in autism amongst children is a deeply disturbing and hence critically important piece of work that will cause many sleepless nights for parents of infants everywhere. I had the honor of both watching the film last night and participate in a discussion afterwards with its Producer, Del Bigtree and Director, Dr. Andrew Wakefield. It is a must see film and deserves to serve as a catalyst for national discussion of the role of mandatory vaccines for children and the role of the pharmaceutical industry in government decision-making.

What is equally disturbing, however, is that the film represents another in a cascade of documented allegations calling to task not only the corruption of government regulatory agencies but the corruption of science and scientific method itself. And to the extent that the current Presidential election contest has sparked virulent dissatisfaction with our elected leadership and the institutions of government we must take this opportunity to seriously question what many had taken for granted: namely, that government has as its most solemn mission the protection of public health, safety and welfare. The film carefully documents decisions by the Centers for Disease Control that lend credence to systemic corruption.

As a father of two millennials I have been bombarded with what has turned out to be a warranted cynicism, criticism, and rejection of government. As one who devoted nearly forty years to the promotion of public service and government I have come to reassess my initial reluctance to such criticisms. The kids have every right to be cynical and critical and as hard as it is for parents to accept it probably know more than we do.

The corruption of science and scientific method has manifested itself most prominently in recent years with a spate of attempts to deny the existence of global climate change and the role that continued fossil fuel usage plays in accelerating it. This, of course, finds refuge in the stalling tactical maneuvers perfected by the tobacco industry over a half century ago. These “Merchants of Doubt” cast an effective smoke screen that effectively blurs rational thought by an unsuspecting public that would much rather leave it to the experts. And the experts on protecting the public are those we elect to steer the ship of state.

But of late we have seen spineless political chicanery, which I must sadly admit is totally bipartisan, when it comes to issues like fracking and the substitution of natural gas as a purportedly transitional fuel to bridge the gap between coal and renewables. What is essence we are doing is substituting one form of greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide with its long-term atmospheric consequences, with a far more potent heat-trapping gas, methane, in the short- and intermediate-term. This is fossil foolishness that will sentence our kids and grandkids to a lifetime of gut-wrenching and maybe irretrievably lesser quality-of-life choices. But the effects will not show up until after those making the decisions have long left their lofty perches within the government.

Fracking is contaminating water supplies and the air we breathe, is causing public health problems and facilitating earthquakes in places that have never even had earthquakes in recorded history, yet the regulatory responses are negligible. While New York State maintains a moratorium on fracking its neighbor Pennsylvania continues to put communities at risk. California, with its tough talking Governor Jerry Brown loudly decrying climate change and promising to be a world leader on mitigation strategies is essentially missing in action when it comes to regulating fracking in the central valley and even within the city limits of Los Angeles. The inadequacy of California’s regulatory body to place the citizens’ health and safety above industry considerations borders on criminal.

We all witnessed the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, and its dastardly cousin in Porter Ranch, California that has been described as BP on land, the release of nearly 100,000 metric tons of methane from a leaking natural gas storage well. Yet we merrily proceed to push forward with government-subsidized fossil fuel production policies that benefit the richest corporations known to mankind.

We see government failure and most likely criminal negligence if not outright prosecutable actions on behalf of government officials with regard to the contaminated drinking water in cities like Flint, Michigan and evidently in cities all across the U.S.

There are crimes against humanity being perpetrated by chemical companies like Monsanto as glyphosates and genetically engineered foods find their ways comfortably into our kitchens and stomachs. Steven Druker, in his seminal book Altered Genes, Twisted Truth has meticulously documented systemic corruption in the Food and Drug Administration.

In Malibu, CA there is a local effort to address the existence of PCB’s in window caulking in schools yet the school board spends millions of dollars to fight its removal rather than simply remove it. Once again it seems to be far easier to spend money denying the evidence than in fixing the problem. This is obscene and unfortunately the problem extends to schools throughout the country. Why is it we have so little regard for the injuries we are inflicting upon our children?

Last but not least we are witnessing a monumental failure on the part of the Fourth Estate, the media. Bowing to the pressures of deep-pocketed advertisers the media refuses to even make an attempt at investigative journalism. A glaring exception to this is the case of the Spotlight investigative team at the Boston Globe which uncovered massive corruption within the Catholic Archdiocese in sheltering child molesters and pedophiles among the priesthood. We celebrate this as an act of great valor, when in essence it ought to be business as usual. This should not be the exception it should be the norm and the media is abdicating its responsibility to expose the truth and instead prefers the safer course which is to be complicit in the cover-up. Richard Dreyfuss and I recently penned an article calling attention to this complicity here.

I have worked in numerous governmental agencies at senior levels where I attempted to defer to the scientific expertise when contemplating major policy decisions affecting millions of people. To see the systemic corruption that is occurring in government agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services including the Centers for Disease Control and the Food and Drug Administration not only makes me sad but it makes me mad.

There has always been an attempt in this nation to balance out the avarice of the private sector with a regulatory framework in the public sector that protects those most vulnerable in society. That balance has been totally upended and as the latest effort on behalf of those involved in Vaxxed shows we as a society can no longer depend upon our government leaders and institutions to protect us. We must begin by electing leaders who will restore the balance that is needed to protect at the very least our children. If we do not our legacy to our children will be one punctuated by scorn and anger. In this instance our kids actually know us better than we know ourselves. What a sad commentary on the state of affairs of the human race.

Lance Simmens
Author, The Evolution of a Revolution, and Fracktured

Follow Lance Simmens on Twitter: www.twitter.com/lancesimmens

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The Pursuit Of Excellence Is Gratifying And Healthy


If being fit were as easy as having a list of the right exercises, the Internet would have ended the obesity crisis. There are a gazillion exercise programs out there!

Lack of information isn’t your main obstacle.

Your main obstacle is you.

You are also your greatest opportunity.

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This fitness leap, like any drastic lifestyle change, is difficult, because humans are creatures of habit. We know when to watch our favorite shows, when to arrive at the airport to catch a flight, when to brush our teeth. We go to work on Monday and sleep in on Saturday. Some of us go to church, some watch football. We like to assume we’ll eat another meal, live another day, cash another pay- check, and that nothing out of the ordinary will interrupt what we perceive to be straight and steady progress toward some goal.

Often we settle into these routines lacking self-awareness, only to wake up in a strange place, blink, and say, “How did I get here? Have I been here this whole time?” Habits become deeply ingrained, and they exert a unique and powerful control over our lives that sometimes takes more than willpower to resist.

Precious few are immune to the waking sleep of habitual life. Even the best of us can become so comfortable that days blur into weeks, weeks into months, and, before we know it, we are living a life constructed for the most part while asleep. Heck, twenty years ago, when I was a trader on Wall Street, growing plump in my office chair, I had no idea what was going on with my health. I just knew I didn’t feel nearly as well each day as I thought I should. Many of us are sleeping now. If we don’t wake up soon, we may end up somewhere we didn’t want to go, or worse, nowhere.

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In sleepwalking through life, a person may unknowingly reject a golden opportunity, thinking it strange and unconventional and therefore incompatible with “normal.”

But could it be that “normal” is not what it should be? That the good life has gradually been covered and weighed down with something else, to the point where it is now buried? Could it be that what we thought was life has kept us from living this whole time? What could living be, anyway, if it’s not this? So the truth startles us, unsettles us, even terrifies us, because it clashes so violently with our neat and tidy expectations and with our sense of what is normal. The truth asks too much.

We’d have to change everything. Furthermore, the devices, systems, and tools we have to make our lives better are actually crippling. They are braces and casts for our mental muscles, atrophying the mind’s ability to adapt and then overcome.

The habits we form become so strong that we believe change is impossible. Only, this is untrue.

Change is actually a guarantee; the only variable is the form it takes. Continue with life as is, and the changes experienced will be negative: declining health, zero motivation, and lack of energy and achievement. Our limits are a prison of our own making, with bars made of a thousand small decisions to sit and wait, to accept the reality given to us by everyone but ourselves. Everything in the life of habit is predetermined. Without new horizons, we might as well call it quits.

Humans are meant to strive and grow. From birth to death, trillions of cells in our body continuously reproduce and regenerate. Humans are meant to work, to sweat, and to then bask in the exhaustion that often accompanies great achievement. Humans are meant to be healthy, with a body that functions long and efficiently. Humans are meant for a greater purpose than sitting, watching, and consuming. And it’s not just our physical health I’m talking about: striving and struggling give our lives deeper meaning.

No one is born physically fit. Everyone who ever became fit did so through a thousand simple decisions — decisions they made every day to move, to exercise, to purge their imperfections, to eat the healthiest foods, and to structure their lives in pursuit of important goals. You may be out of shape or in failing health, but change is still possible. When you leave the couch, it will be headfirst. Your mind leads the way; your body follows suit.

Before that moment, a thousand excuses might enter your mind:

“I don’t have time.”
“I’m out of shape.”
“I’m scared I’ll injure myself.”
“This whole fitness thing is just a fad.”

If you think you don’t have time, you probably don’t. If you think you’re out of shape, you probably are. Yet for every obstacle we face, there is a solution, if only we take the time and energy to look for it. If fitness is a fad, if feeling your best every day is a fad, then human life itself is a fad.

Wake up. Turn on the lights. Get off the couch. Put down the French fries. The old normal of inactivity, of processed food, and of limits to your potential is over. A new normal is about to begin. It consists of constant improvement, of crushing your goals, and of robust living built on the most human of principles. It’s time to get Spartan Fit!

Live and Learn. We All Do.

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A Marriage Vow


Today, you are crossing a threshold, publicly claiming your new status as married.  May this be the first of many celebratory moments in that marriage.  And there will certainly be more challenges. Through it all, may you continue to treat each other with the same love and respect that has guided you to this moment and may your friendship grow ever stronger with the passing of the years….

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Please join hands.  Look carefully upon them because

These are the hands of your best friend…

These are the hands that will work alongside yours, together as you build your future. 

These are the hands that will love you and cherish you through the years.

These are the hands that will hold you when you are fearful and comfort you when grief fills your mind. 

These are the hands that will countless times wipe away your tears whether from sorrow, or from joy. 

These are the hands that will cradle your children. 

These are the hands that will help you to hold your family together as one.

These are the hands that will give you strength when you need it. 

And lastly, these are the hands that even when wrinkled and aged, will still be reaching for yours, still giving you the same unspoken tenderness with just a touch.

May we have the ring?  

The ancient Egyptians originated the tradition of exchanging wedding rings.  The first rings were woven from the grasses found along the banks of the River Nile, considered by the ancients to be the very source of all life.

The wedding ring is a symbol for eternity, an unbroken circle with no beginning and no end, encompassing infinite space.  The circle has always had magical connotations.  It is the strongest and most natural shape; it is the shape of the very earth itself.  It is the shape of the sun that holds us in its warm and it is the path of the spinning universe.  And so too, our lives move in unbroken circles of day and night, life and death and rebirth and the return of the seasons.

So Jordan, as you offer this wedding ring to Marisa, be reminded that it is a universal symbol of constancy, of wholeness and of homecoming.  

Man to Woman:

I give you this ring as a symbol of my love and devotion and my desire to move through the circle of life with you by my side and in my heart.  May we always find shelter in each other and be stronger because of our union.

Woman to Man:

I will wear this ring in honor of my pledge to stand beside you in life, to love you unconditionally and to build a partnership that is rooted in a deep respect for our individuality and nurtured by our love for each other.  

Spiritual Leader

With this exchange of rings, you have sealed your promise of marriage to one another.

Let me honor your promise with a beautiful Native American ceremonial poem….

“Now you will feel no rain, for each of you will be shelter for the other.

Now you will feel no cold, for each of you will be warmth to the other.

Now there will be no loneliness, for each of you will be companion to the other.

Now you are two persons, but there is only one life before you.

May beauty surround you both in the journey ahead and through all the years.

May happiness be your companion and your days together be good and long upon the earth.” 

Live and Learn. We All Do.

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Show Me A 50ft Wall, And I’ll Show You A 51ft Ladder


Both books and buildings have voices. But rather than the letters of an alphabet, buildings use towers and spires, columns and buttresses, mosaics and paintings, glass and geometric figures, and statues and friezes to speak volumes. However, even though architectural symbolism existed before the written word, the message of a building or structure is often difficult for most of us to recognize.

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Although doomed to crumble, humans have always built walls. From the failed Maginot Line to the Great Wall of China they are an indelible part of our history.

As Donald Trump stands on stage proclaiming his dedication for the President of the United States, he taughts wall building as a way to unify America and once again, rise from the ashes.

The idea of building a wall a la Berlin between Mexico and the US to keep out illegal immigrants has been ridiculed in most quarters and rightly so. Walls do not keep people in. Peace and the right to live with security and an absence of constant fear is what mankind wants. And mankind is not getting it.

Walling oneself off from the enemy goes back since pre-dynastic times victories have often been depicted by Egyptians as conquests of cities and the demolition of their walls. Wars against neighbors but also possibly against foreigners, were frequent until the unification and pacification of the country. They broke out again when the central power decayed after the sixth dynasty, and nomarchs began vying for hegemony.

But even under stable governments, Egyptians could never feel completely secure. Bands of bedouins were attracted to the rich settlements of the Nile valley and never were the police forces strong enough to completely prevent their incursions. They therefore built their dwellings like minor forts, surrounded their cities with walls and erected strongholds  in strategically important locations.

In the last two thousand years mankind’s material knowledge has increased so greatly that most of the natural hazards which afflicted the ancient human being have been overcome.

No longer do we fear the ghosts and spirits that burdened the lives o the untutored savages of the old world. We have every right to be proud of our achievement, but despite this boasted progress, most of our misfortune is the result of superstitions and traditions as senseless and deadly as those which afflicted primitive races.

There is nothing cultural or esthetic in the impulse to create large communities; the motive was fear, and the desire or mutual protection. Most ancient towns were walled and men huddled within these walls to find safety from invading armies and marauding bands of brigands. The invention of artillery ended the age of the walled cities, but habit caused the continuance of the huddling process, even after these towns had proved to be nothing but death-traps for their inhabitants.

Fear, the oldest and cruelest of man’s emotions, heartless and senseless in itself, is the source of endless pain and misery.

Always men have wanted to be remembered and have their deeds to live on after them.

The theory of accumulation has blighted the whole course of our civilization. It has turned every man against his brother, and filled the world with terrible fear.

Symbolized by a wall. This being its purpose and functionality as primarily a barrier against outside invasion. Other “symbolism” would be as a boundary of ownership or of the power and prosperity of the inhabitants within, which is still simply a subliminal projection of the primary symbolism, defense.

Not only does the wall act as a divider in separating the properties, but also acts as a barrier to friendship, communication.

Barriers lead to alienation and emotional isolation and loneliness.

It is no longer Africans and oriental sardine packed men women and children being literally trafficked across treacherous waters for that elusive better life. In a bitter irony the empires of history have come back to haunt the colonizers and they must soon be thinking if they hadn’t set sail to conquer the new world, the new world would not be coming back to them in droves.

What is odd is that this building is happening at a time when less-physical walls appear to be crumbling. This is the age of the global economy, multinationals, vanishing trade barriers; of “the free movement of goods, capital, services and people”, unprecedented mobility and instantaneous communication.

Most strikingly, some of the world’s leading democracies including the US, Israel and India have, in the past decade, built thousands of miles of barriers along borders both recognized and disputed. Since 2006, the US has erected 600 miles of fence along its Mexican border. Israel is building a 400-mile West Bank barrier, plus another 165-mile fence along its Egyptian border. India has built a 340-mile barrier along the so-called Line of Control of its disputed border with Pakistan, and is busily constructing another 2,500-mile fence on its frontier with Bangladesh. Last year, Greece threw up a four-meter-high wall along its short land border with Turkey. The river Evros runs along much of the land frontier.

So why build new walls – especially when, as history shows, the old ones rarely did what they set out to do?

For there is almost always a way through, under, over or round a wall. As Janet Napolitano, until recently US secretary of homeland security, once astutely observed: “Show me a 50ft wall, and I’ll show you a 51ft ladder.”

James Anderson, emeritus professor of political geography at Queen’s University Belfast, notes that walls get built for very different reasons. He says: “There are those built as a response to internal civil, often ethno-national, conflict, within states and often within cities. There are those erected because two groups are going at each other, but the state itself is not at stake – rich against poor, white against black, criminal against potential victim. And there are those that run along state borders.”

Justified more often than not, these days, as anti-terrorist measures, border fences are more likely to be aimed “at keeping out, or at least differentiating, migrant labor”, argues Anderson. He distinguishes, too, between walls that came from “the bottom up”, and those imposed from the top down.

Belfast’s walls, he notes, originated in 1969 as “simple defense mechanisms, barricades made of bedsteads and doors to stop vehicles coming in to your street”.

Thirty years on, they have become “part of people’s reality” and are still – perhaps uniquely in the world of walls – supported by almost all those who live beside them. Running for the most part parallel to the roads into the city centre, though, they are not “huge impediments” to day-to-day life.

The barrier separating Israel and the West Bank is different. “This was a state project,” says Anderson. “Certainly some, especially the settler movement, welcome it as protection. Palestinians see it as a mechanism for a land grab.” At times it also causes almost unimaginable inconvenience and hardship.

But walls can have unforeseen consequences, says Mick Dumper, professor in Middle East politics at Exeter University. “Israel built the separation barrier to separate two communities and prevent terrorism,” he says.

“One result has been that 60,000-70,000 Palestinians who had moved out of Jerusalem have moved back, as they didn’t want to be cut off from the services they need. At a time when Israel is seeking to assert the city’s Jewish identity, its Palestinian population has sharply increased.”

And a wall changes a city, even after it has come down.

Wendy Pullan, senior lecturer in the history and philosophy of architecture at Cambridge University, calls this a “disruption of urban order. A divided city changes its whole metabolism. And divided cities do not flourish.”

The physical reorganization engendered by a wall is accompanied by an inevitable impact on the psychology of those who live beside it, adds Pullan, who heads the Conflict in Cities (CinC) project run by Cambridge University’s centre for urban conflicts research: “There’s a tendency to vilify those on the other side. It’s very easy to say: we can’t see them, we don’t know them, so we don’t like them.”

But mainly, walls just don’t do their job very well. “We don’t have examples of walls solving problems,” says Pullan. Suicide bombings may have fallen dramatically since Israel built its wall. “But it’s hard to say whether that’s cause or correlation. The regime has also got much firmer, in other ways,” she adds.

Anderson, also a member of CinC, argues that national border fences are at least partly intended for show: to let governments be seen to be doing something. If the US were truly serious about tackling illegal migrant labour, he says, “it would prosecute more employers”.

So in general, concludes Pullan, walls are “more symbolic than anything else. But their symbolism is enormous. Even now, Berlin remains best known for the wall. The most recognizable image of Jerusalem is now, arguably, its wall. The visual impact is so very strong. If you want to get across the idea of division, a wall is very, very powerful.”

The wall in the poem ‘Mending Wall’ represents two view points of two different persons, one by the speaker and the other by his neighbor.

Frost has taken an ordinary incident of constructing or mending a wall between his and his neighbor’s garden and has turned it into a meditation on the division between human beings.

The narrator cannot help but notice that the natural world seems to dislike the existence of a wall as much as he does and therefore, mysterious gaps appear from nowhere and boulders fall for no reason. The poem portrays the lack of friendship between two neighbors, they know each other but they are not friends. There exists a communication gap between them; they meet each other only on appointed days to fix the wall separating their properties.

Thus, the poem is a sad reflection on today’s society, where man-made barriers exist between men, groups, nations based on discrimination of race, caste, creed, gender and religion.

On the other hand, the neighbor has different opinions. He believes that ‘Good fences make good neighbors.’ He considers walls as necessary to create physical barriers and for mending relations. According the poet’s neighbor, physical barriers set limits and affirm the rights of each and every individual. Walls also stand for building goodwill and trust.

The fence symbolizes national, racial, religious, political and economic conflicts and discrimination which separate man from man and hinders the ways of understanding and cultivating relationships.

The dispute between the two neighbors symbolizes the clash between tradition and modernity. The young generation wants to demolish the old tradition and replace it with modernity while the old wants to cling on to the existing tradition and beliefs.

Nature seems to act as the third wheel in this poem – the silent character swirling around the speaker and his neighbor. Although he doesn’t explicitly describe the landscape, we see it very clearly, and we seem to know what the seasons are like in this part of the world. Similarly, tradition seems to be the silent subject over which the speaker and his neighbor wrestle. The neighbor upholds his ancestors’ way of life, while our speaker questions this philosophy.

“I’m no prophet, but I think the likelihood that a wall can ease hostilities is not too great.”

William H. McNeill, professor emeritus of history at the University of Chicago

Putting up a wall is not so much a strategy as a symbol for the absence of one.

Live and Learn. We All Do

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To The Young Athlete I Was, And The Adult Athlete I’ll Never Be


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