A New Gettysburg Address

A New Gettysburg Address

“Twelvescore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men and women were arguably equal. Well that is out the window. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure.

We are met on the great battlefields of that war: your 401K , Social Security, ballot box, womb and never ending debt. We have come to dedicate a portion to those whose struggle against oppression and racism, simply making ends meet, to eat and to keep their homes is a constant burden, with realization that without justice that this household might not live.

It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this notion because the corporate owned government has decreed against it. The brave citizens, living and dead who struggled with Occupy, in Brazil, Egypt, Iran, Spain, Turkey, and elsewhere, with Black Lives Matter, sovereign women and immigrants struggling for a better life have consecrated it far above our pallid power to add or detract.

The media will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us–that from these honored citizens we take increased defiance against the injustice for which they gave the last full measure of devotion–that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, though now this nation remains under Greed

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Real Food for Healthy People: A Book Review

Real Food for Healthy People: A Book Review

Normally I don’t review books, especially cookbooks. My wife suffers from Fibromyalgia, and a focus on healthy organic and natural foods has had a dramatically positive impact on her healthy and pain. From an environmental perspective, not to mention overall health,  a de-emphasis on meat as a centerpiece in meals is one of our dietary aspirations.

carolI’m channeling a bit of Tuscany, flipping through the pages of Carol D’Anca’s new book, Real Food for Healthy People; A Recipe and Resource Guide, the follow up to her Food not Meds: Eat, Love, Live (Volume 1)

Via Amerini winds upon a high ridge among farms and bright orange poppy fields. Roughly halfway between the Tuscan towns of Sant Ansano and Vinci stands  a small grey-stone family chapel. The surrounding hills are bathed in seemingly endless sunlight, with Azur skies and fat silver-tinged clouds as perfect as a Titian painting. A tall rusting flat-iron cross leans beside the wrought-iron door. Long abandoned, the overgrowth of grass and weeds img_1122conspire with the gently crumbling walls to create a bit of rustic art. Inside, dust layers the cooling interior. A single small wooden chair is toppled beneath a tiny pale blue alter and small simple Fresco of the Madonna.

Food is ubiquitous here, as with all of Italy. It is more than simple sustenance or a casual affair. It arises as an affirmation. Here food is even more than art, and is instead a celebration of life. D’Anca succeeds marvelously in capturing that celebratory spirit. Leave the meat aside, you won’t find any of that here. Real Food, however, is more than  a vegetarian cookbook. With a graduate degree in clinical nutrition from Rosalind Franklin University of Science and Medicine/The Chicago medical School, D’Anca offers a primer, regardless of kitchen and cooking acumen, for true healthy alternatives. As someone who cooks competently, loves meat and has experience in commercial kitchens, Real Food offers a well received break from the same old, same old.

At a time when 1 in 4 women will die of heart disease, and with hypertension and diabetes on the rise Real Food offers a full palette of sumptuously healthy and appetizing alternatives from debilitating and destructive diets replete with trans fats, refined sugars and copious amounts of salts. Real Foods provides recipes spanning breakfast, snacks, salads, entrees and deserts, all beautifully photographed, with 68 (Yes, I counted) simple and easy to make recipes.

The wife and I experimented with a number of recipes in the week and a half since the book arrived. Among our favorites was the Walnut Sage Pesto, the fresh and tangy Gremolata, delicious Caramelized Onion and Quinoa Tacos, the sweet and spicy Sweet and Sour Pineapple Cauliflower, Artichoke and Walnut Stuffed Belgian Endive and my favorite, a veritable panacea of flavor, Chia Breakfast Pudding.

In Tuscany we dined among friends new and old. Each bite of food seemed to awaken some new sensation, and to define a new memory. There is an Italian saying which says, “Uno non può pensare bene, amare bene, dormire bene, se non ha mangiato bene,” one does not think, love or live well without eating well. It might well have been the subtitle for D’Anca’s book

There are many cookbooks on the market, each with their own flair and style. What sets each of them apart is the author’s passion not only for the subject but for the food. There are those who cook for the money and those who cook for life. That is the essence behind Real Food for Healthy People: A recipe and resource guide, by Carol D’Anca. She treats her subject as a celebration, and she captured it beautifully.

Affluenza-Poorfluenza

Affluenza-Poorfluenza

Former fugitive, rich party boy and would-be drunk driving murderer Ethan Couch is maintaining his “Affluenza” defense in the 2013 deaths of 4, including a mother and daughter who had come to the aid of a stranded motorist. His lawyer asserts that he isn’t responsible for his actions because of his privileged upbringing. Can we make the same argument for poor and impoverished kids from blighted neighborhoods, under- funded schools, violence, lack of employment opportunity and broken families? Can we call it Poorfluenza. Seems to make more sense than Affluenza, and what is good for the very wealthy goose ought to be good for the poorer gander.

Porn and Climate Change

Climate denier, Dan Proft, Koch Brother and Rauner troll, on his radio program reported on an Idaho effort to declare internet porn as a public health hazard. Proft linked porn to the destruction of marriages, violence against women and in creating pedophiles. It is not an opinion, Proft declared, it is scientific! He pointed to a preponderance of “peer reviewed studies.” Thanks, Dan, I thought you’d never come around to accepting the preponderance of “peer reviewed studies” and data on climate change.

No Right to Pee for Free at Target!

No Right to Pee for Free at Target!

Frankly, I am shocked! The party that has been so stalwart in defending, or at the very least, diverting attention from old white pedophile men, like Denny Hastert, can’t seem to extend the same inclusion to non-criminal transgender people. What gives?

We’ve come to expect so much more consistency from the Right, and thank god they are not acting on emotion in the case of Target’s so-called bathroom policy. Although while significant issues continue to face the nation while new ones loom on the horizon, I for one am inspired to  see grown men so concerned with the bathroom needs of 14 year old girls. Incidentally, don’t try Googling that topic, you’ll get something  way different than what you were searching for.

Still, I understand the passion. Many of these men are probably the ones taking their 14 year old daughters on father daughter Purity Balls and making them sign chastity agreements. Cheaper then locking them away in a bell tower until a good Christian warrior prince charming rides up on a white steed when she is ready to birth proper heirs.  Father-Daughter_Dance

So far 700,000 champions of 14 year old girls have signed a petition denouncing Target for a policy that every retail and restaurant chain has, including Olive Garden, The Gap and that poster store of American capitalism, WalMart(Cue the angels). And by all-American I mean except the 60% of stock at WalMart which comes from China and sweatshops elsewhere. But the workers who must also collect food stamps so that they have the strength to stand at the door and greet shoppers, they are definitely American.

700,000. Guess we are over the TSA pat down hysteria. That’s about the same number of Republicans who voted in the much touted New York presidential primary, and hundreds of thousands more than turned out in Ohio, North Carolina Florida and Missouri. Interesting enough, its only about 1.5% of people who saw the movie Dum and Dumber-er in its first run.

What I don’t get on the Right over the bathroom issue is their sense of entitlement. If Housing, food, clean water, education and healthcare aren’t rights, then going to the bathroom for anyone, anywhere, especially in a privately owned store or restaurant bathroom for free damn sure isn’t a right. Where are all the constitutional originalists decrying all those non-toilet producers “socializing” the property of the toilet producers that nowhere did the founding fathers identify number 1 and number 2 as rights under god almighty?

Don’t turn commie on me now, just cuz ya gotta go. What was it Marx said: From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs? Don’t got the money? Pull out the boot straps you pulled yourself up by and tie something off. Wanna pee? Ya gotta pay, but first you are going to have to show way more than your ID to get past the potty police. TSA lines at bathrooms in every Target in America!Drop-Your-Pants-For-Underwareness-1024x688

Geeking out on Global Warming with Rick DiMaio

Mike Nowak gets a kick out of it. Each week on his gardening and environment radio program “The Mike Nowak Show,” Sundays from 9-11am on Que4 Radio in Chicago, Mike chats with Meteorologist Rick DiMaio for weather; a critical element to gardeners. Rick’s forecasts and insight remains one of the highlight of my week. He doesn’t know it, but Rick and I have bumped into one another several times over the last 20 or so years. I was friends with several FOX anchors and reporters back in the mid-Nineties, and first met him at a small surprise birthday party for the legendary crime reporter, John Drummond. I counted Rick as a resource in an international logistics position with a major airline. Rick’s forecasts were part of the airline’s morning briefings.

This past Sunday something Rick said on the show sparked something I have been tacitly researching for some time. As a data person, I rely on graphs and statistical data in scrutinizing evidence both for and against Anthropogenic, or man made, Global Climate Change. While the evidence appears overwhelming persuasive in favor of man made warming, I always leave the door open.

I first began researching the question while with a German logistics firm, Jettainer. after half of our American team was stuck in Europe following the April 2010 eruption of an Iceland volcano severely disrupted air travel for nearly two weeks. The focus of that was to better understand processes driving climate variability. Historically the two greatest components affecting the climate have been the sun, or solar cycle, and volcanism. Recently researching a Belgian ancestor who lived during the Reformation and Dutch wars for Independence, I looked into causes for the so-called mini-ice age, and the likely culprit of that decades long and devastating cold period; a volcano eruption.

Line graph showing historical sunspot number count, Maunder and Dalton minima, and the Modern Maximum

Fast forward four centuries to the Industrial Era and the unprecedented proliferation of industry spewing ever more amounts of carbon and particulates into the air. Coal, then gas and oil all helped to power the 20th Century, through two catastrophic World Wars, a Cold War, wars for oil and  a half century or more of virtually unregulated, unremitting carbon ingestion into the atmosphere. I am not really concerned so much with the global warming deniers as I am the people who buy their nonsense and false science. At the heart of all that is money, and it doesn’t make any sense to simply denounce environmentalists as being anti-capitalism or anti-business. If that was the case none of them would use social media or smartphones or buy electric cars. Instead we are seeing the monopoly of gas and oil and coal attempting to shut out alternatives. Sort of like McDonalds, BurgerKing and KFC going to war against Subway.

But I digress, and my conversation with Rick DiMaio Sunday was about drivers. First is the sun, a small yellow G2 class star. It is the primary driver of our planet’s weather, and light, or radiation, solar storms and sun spots all can affect the weather, but only to a point. Despite the so-called 11 year cycles(They don’t precisely run in 11 year cycles, more loose patterns than anything)  that many climate change deniers refer to, our sun is relatively stable. We have good records on this going back many thousands of years, from many and varied pieces of evidence. Sunspots, which seem to be somewhat cyclical were noted as lower than normal in the first two decades of the 19th Century a period consistent with a sudden cool down. However, There is evidence that a volcanic eruption also contributed to that sudden cool down.

In fact, sun spot activity reached a peak around 1950 and has declined or at least settled to the same activity observed since 1900. That is, if the sun is to blame, consistent with the 19th century cool down then we should see  a precipitous rise consistent with observed climate change here on Earth, but we don’t. That leaves volcanoes, the one catastrophic event which has the capacity for sudden and prolonged climate change. In a single powerful eruption a volcano can throw immense amounts of particulates into the stratosphere, blocking sunlight and plummeting global or hemispheric temps, as my 16th century ancestor and physician, Pascasius Turcq endured during the so-called Little Ice Age.

And we see that with eruptions throughout the 20th century. But we also see something else interesting. Despite great eruptions, like Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines, throwing massive amounts of debris into the atmosphere the overall mean warming of the planet is only temporarily slowed or paused but then continues unabated in its climb towards climate catastrophe.

It is about emissions and carbon and dirty energy polluting and effecting the planet and our climate. Those supposed natural variability’s and  patterns that man-made climate deniers would have us believe are driving unarguable change simply are not to blame, except perhaps anecdotally.

 

The patterns are striking when we overlay climate change with emissions and world population. We find that all of them seem to be related. In science, as in statistics and in business as well, that is called correlation. notice that I stopped short of causal, because that wouldn’t be scientific. But I still think the evidence is clear enough, at the very least, for concern over the issue.

Rush Limaugh and others famously point to the arrogant notion of environmentalists and Progressives on this issue. They assert that the planet is simply far to big for little old us to do any real damage. They ignore that the Earth is a finite system. They also ignore that the tumult of the Second World War, with whole cities burning across the globe, and unprecedented industrial output for war efforts globally created a massive spike in emissions and temperature, which paused briefly at the end of the war and into the early 1950s before climbing to meet the needs of  an ever increasing global population.

I knew the answer to that during a high school Chemistry class experiment to make wine from grape juice long before the debate on global warming started. That is, by introducing a very small population of microscopic bacteria into a sweet and very large environment, like a gallon of grape juice, can have dramatic ramifications. The bacteria, devouring the sugars undergo a massive population explosion. They give off waste products of CO2 and alcohol, in essence polluting their environment to such an extent that the population suffers a quick and massive die-off. So yes, Rush, small organisms can destroy their finite environment and render it unlivable.

The evidence is there, if only one wishes to see it. Those who argue against that evidence can have only one of Four agendas. First, they agree with the evidence and are challenging it on scientific grounds. Two, they are being paid to be shills for the polluters. Three, they are  part of the population without access to real scientific and peer reviewed information, or Four, they’re idiots.

 

Dead Cat Walkin’ at the Uptown Animal Hospital in Andersonville.

Dead Cat Walkin’ at the Uptown Animal Hospital in Andersonville.

Google Hemingway’s Cat and there is an iconic image of   Maine Coon sitting on the desk with the writer behind him. He could be Oliver’s great, great, great, great grandfather…in cat years, of course. But you see, Oliver should already have been in the grave a week ago, well, today. that is if we had listened to the doctors.

It all started with our dog. Oliver has always been a very emotional and moody animal. When we brought home Blue, our rescue dog, Oliver began to have urinary distress. Fun topic, I know. But he would strain in the litter box with little or no effect, and he was quickly in pain. Turned out it was a hysterical reaction to the new dog. After a few prescribed muscle relaxers and Oliver was good as new.

The doctor warned that there were increased crystals in his bladder, something Maine Coons are prone to apparently. Switching to wet food, she said, would solve the problem. It didn’t. Two weeks later the same issue returned, this time with a vengeance. Within a couple of days Oliver was in terrible agony. This time we took him to the Uptown Animal Hospital, an upscale veterinary clinic in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood. A lot of money in that neighborhood. That’s important to the story.

Oliver had a blockage. For cats, male cats, that can lead very quickly to a ruptured bladder and excruciating death. Oliver needed hospitalization and a catheter was inserted to clear the blockage. We’d gotten him help just in time, but then something else happened.

Money was an issue, and at the $900 dollar mark we had to  consider all of this carefully. That’s when, in our opinion, the high pressure tactics started. Again, Oliver is a very sensitive cat, and animals don’t really understand hospitals. From their perspective they have been rejected or abandoned, or punished by the humans they trusted most. It is all very confusing and frightening to an animal. Quickly, the intersection between an animal’s recovery and feeling abandoned or imprisoned in an unfamiliar space becomes a critical component in treatment and recovery. Weighing all of that, his initial positive response to treatment, and our beleaguered finances, we informed the hospital and doctor that we needed to explore alternative treatment options.

The doctor, a co-owner of the clinic, wouldn’t hear of it. She wouldn’t consider the holistic outpatient treatments we had researched and flat out scoffed at training me to manipulate Oliver’s bladder, asserting that I would do more harm than good. The doctor was unequivocal and recommended we put him down She even offered to put Oliver down after we got off the phone, and again repeated that a number of times at the hospital. The only option, she said, was to keep him, at a cost potentially of many thousands of dollars more with a questionable prognosis, at the hospital. Considering at that point if maybe I should be put to sleep, they offered financing at reasonable interest rates. Right.

Meantime I visited a small pet boutique in the neighborhood. The young clerk, after hearing the story recommended an herbal tonic. She pointed to  a fat gray cat on the counter and said that she was told two years ago the same thing about him. For a little over $10, a far cry from going into more deb,t I picked up a small bottle of  Animals’ Apawthecary Tinkle Tonic Cat and Dog Supplement.

Now bladder manipulation sounds a tad, well, rustic, but its much gentler and much less odder that it sounds. When a cat’s bladder is distended it is quite easy to feel on the belly just between the hind legs. Very gentle, almost imperceptible tummy massages seem to have worked wonders so far. Why the doctor refused to consider showing us that was egregious. How hard would it have been to spend a few moments of instruction, but they seemed all about the money, and, failing that, simply disposing of the cat; as if that was part of the-pardon the pun-drop dead sales pitch.

Oliver was still drugged when I picked him up. I looked at the poor little guy, after just fending off, barely, the pressure to put him to sleep. The following day, Sunday, would be daunting for us and especially for Oliver. We were told that he likely would die in agony within a day or two. Still, that didn’t prevent them from giving me a week’s worth of medicated food that we were told he would need for life. Incidentally, that very expensive food can only be purchased, they pointed out, at the hospital. Convenient, but for whom I am not quite sure.

It has been more than a week, and knock on wood, Oliver is heading for a full recovery. He’s a gentler cat now, with no more pain, a better diet, and he runs around and plays like a little maniac. And he loves his light tummy massages. When I think, standing in that examining room, the immense and unrelenting pressure to put Oliver to sleep I am utterly shaken. I shudder to think that it was, at least in part, a very cynical and cruel way to squeeze a bit more money out of someone, essentially but holding a pet hostage. I almost agreed, but something told me not to give in to the pressure or give up on Oliver. I wonder how many pet owners simply succumb to that sort of pressure, and how many pets fall victim?