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Daily thought

  It’s been estimated that during the course of the day 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts course through ones’ mind, most of them nonsensical and circular. You know, that voice in your head–what? It’s only me. Uh-oh.

I find that a good way to quiet my mind is to exercise, aerobically, outside on a beautiful day, and focus on the without rather than the within.

No Man is an island, entire of itself

I spoke to my friend Norb yesterday, and it was good to hear his voice from across the ether. I decided to re-post this 25 March entry, from my older blog, which is rather defunct at the moment.

John Donne’s 17th meditation teaches that all mankind is interconnected; each, a part of the whole. I couldn’t help but think of this after my interview with Larry Meiller on WPR’s “Ideas Network,” because the only reason I was there, speaking to a broader audience, was because of Norbert Blei, who thought to suggest to the folks at WPR that their listening audience might find my topic matter interesting. The thing is, I have much to say; obviously, I mean, I did write this 400 page book. At times,  going through the whole author/publisher process I felt like I was screaming into the void, and no one was listening. But on March 25th, they were, and for that, I thank my friend, N. Blei, and Jim Packard and Larry Meiller at WPR.

Daily thought

Things are not always as they seem.

Take something solid and heavy; for instance, like a brick:

the closer you look at it, the more it disinigrates into increasingly more miniscule parts;

each subsequent smaller part becoming more and more similar,

ultimately approaching unity.

The Spirituality of Weight-loss

It occurred to me today, on Easter Sunday, that I do my best thinking before going to sleep, after awaking from sleep, and on my knees—in church; because when you’re on your knees in church it’s about nothing new; it’s all stuff you’ve heard a million times before. I don’t mean to subtract from its significance, in fact, it’s the most significant portion of mass, that being the consecration; but, it is familiar and my mind does tend to wander, transiently snapping back for the this is my body, this is my blood parts (honest, Father).

I was back where it started, in a pew, if not the same pew, that I first thought of the first pillar of The Relativity Diet, emotional health. What I’ve come to realize is that the more I discovered, the more I read about our universe; its origin, the sub-atomic particles of which it is comprised, and the universal laws and constants that allow its existence, the more I came to believe in a Supreme Being. It’s not that I didn’t before; it’s just that I believe it more.

I know that others experience the opposite, and I can’t explain that other than the atheist’s belief in the absence of a Supreme Being is as much of a religion as is the religion of God for the simple reason that they can no more prove that He is not there than I can that He is. It therefore boils down to faith; either a faith in the god of No-God, or a faith in God. So, take your pick.

To prove to Father Carl that I actually pay attention in church, I’m going to use a sermon given by Fr. John Guthrie at the church of the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit in Bismarck, N.D. as an analogy. I was in town for the funeral of my wife’s sister, and quite out of form, I actually attended mass twice that day—a funeral mass at 11 am, and an earlier 8 am mass given by Fr. Guthrie. Why did I go to church twice that day, you ask? Am I on the fast track to canonization, perhaps you might wonder? Sadly, no; my motivation was merely for the pleasure of hearing, and seeing, Fr. Guthrie with whom I graduated from high school exactly thirty years previous.

The good Father’s sermon was on the Imitation of Christ. I wish that I could insert a podcast for you to listen to; instead, you’ll need to endure my inept summarization.  Fr. Guthrie spoke about the goal of approaching Christian perfection by becoming like Christ. He made the point that this is not something you pray for—it’s not something that can be given to you; it’s something that you have to give yourself; and you do that by acting like Christ. It is only by performing actions that Christ would perform, or thinking thoughts that are Christ-like; only then, will you become like Christ and approach the ideal of Christian perfection, understanding that it can only be fully realized in the life-after-life.

Now, I’m about as far from perfection as the Andromeda galaxy is from planet earth; I understand that—I get it; but, Fr. Guthrie’s sermon is completely analogous to the entire thrust of my first pillar of emotional health of The Relativity Diet. Emotional health is not something that is given to you; it’s something that you have to give yourself; and you do that by your thoughts and actions. It is by exercising the universal proof of the existence of free will, which I make in my book, that you will move towards a higher state of emotional health, and approach the perfection of Happiness. In effect, it is only in acting emotionally healthy; by performing positive actions, and by thinking positive thoughts; that you will become emotionally healthy. This is the deductive argument I make. You can pray for emotional health all day long, but in the end, you must give it to yourself–by the grace of God within; and by engaging in an active participation with the universe over a passive one.

Thanks for listening :^)

Culture of Fat

The incidence of overweight and obesity has been increasing ever since the collection of data in the mid-sixties. It is difficult to say if was increasing prior to that point for the simple reason that no one was keeping score in a statistically significant fashion. The increase of the overweight and obese is not specific to adults, unfortunately, it also includes children: the increase in adults of overweight and obese is from 44% to 66%, and in the pediatric population, 4% to 18% over the course of the past fifty years.

There is plenty of blame to go around, but the larger question is what, exactly, can be done about it. It is interesting to note that High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) was invented by a Japanese scientist in 1957, and rapidly incorporated into the food chain due to its much lower cost (from corn, as opposed to sugar beets or cane sugar) and also because of its long shelf life. There were some initial studies suggesting that there was perhaps a causal relationship between HFCS and the rising incidence of obesity; however, some more recent studies suggest that weight-gain associated with HFCS is no different than that of cane or beet sugar. So, although HFCS is ubiquitous in our diet, especially in diet-foods ironically enough, I think we can probably cross that bogey-man off our list.

We could blame the “fat” virus, a subject of a previous newsletter, a close relative of the common cold virus, if not the common cold virus itself; but, we can’t do anything about that. It’s not like we have a choice about not catching a cold, unless you live in a sterile bubble, like John Travolta in that old movie, “The Boy in the Plastic Bubble.” Although there is data suggesting at least a correlation, if not a causal relationship, between the adenovirus-36 and obesity, it doesn’t really matter in the sense that we’ll just have to live with it and adapt, because once it’s incorporated into our DNA there’s no way to remove it (yet).

We could blame McDonalds, like many want to do. They’re a big, juicy, super-sized target, peddling saturated-fat paddies between two soggy pieces of empty-calorie, high-carbohydrate, HFCS containing white bread; not to mention more fat-fried, HFCS-containing, empty-caloric, high-carbohydrate sticks, coated in about a weeks’ worth of the daily recommended dietary salt intake. But, if we blame McDonalds, then we’ll need to blame the retail food service industry in general, because few are not guilty of making available for sale food products similar or equivalent to the above.

We could blame our DNA. Maybe we’re genetically doomed to a lifetime of obesity. Actually, no…You can’t blame your genetics. Although some people do have a genetic pre-disposition to obesity, it is nearly impossible that you are genetically meant to be obese. There are a few genetic syndromes of which obesity is genetically a part of, but they are exceedingly rare. The fact of the matter is that although the transmission of obesity is some fraction of a genetic pre-disposition, one study suggesting 25%, the primary mode of transmission is cultural—meaning it is taught. If a child of obese parents is adopted into a family of normal-weight parents, he or she is more likely to be of normal-weight, whereas if adopted into a family of obese parents, is more likely to be overweight.

Just as a child being raised in into an obesogenic environment or culture, so too are we living in a national, and increasingly global, obesogenic culture that is a product of the choices we make. Collectively, we choose the energy-dense, large portion, empty-caloric, high-fat, salty foods because of taste, pleasure, convenience, price, or whatever; the market system responds, and creates the culture. The culture of fat will not change first; rather, we must change our patterns of behavior first—then the market system will respond, and the culture will change accordingly. As Walt Kelly said on the Earth Day poster in 1970, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.” We live in a culture of fat because of the choices we make. I was morbidly obese seven years ago because of the choices I made. If there is a need to assign blame, I’m afraid we have to look no further than ourselves; but more importantly, what are we going to do about it? If collectively, we can take personal responsibility for our diet, and make the positive choices of healthy foods over unhealthy ones, then the market system will respond, and, like an ice sculpture in early spring, the culture of fat will slowly melt away.