Monday, September 02, 2013

Aliens Are Among Us And Available to Help Us and Our Planet

Aliens Are Among Us And Available to Help Us and Our Planet

I know some of my hypotheses sound rather extraordinary.
I may be a little weird, but I'd rather be weird and right than normal and wrong.
- Paul Stamets, scholar of ancient mycotechnology, owner of Fungi Perfecti

Paul Stamets is definitely not like you and me. He knows stuff. He knows how to clean up the land around Fukushima without burying millions of tons of contaminated dirt. He offered a method to clean up, naturally, the oil spill from Deep Horizon. Despite his proof, yes proof, no one in power took him seriously.

Frankly, after reading what I have about him, I would not be surprised if one day I learn that he has ways we can adapt to global warming and its inevitable consequences. (But not yet for that. Bear with me.)

This article is not about Stamets, but about the beings he cares about. You may think you know about these beings, but chances are you will be more than a little surprised.

When I was a kid (maybe when you were too) I was taught that everything could be divided into three categories: animal, vegetable or mineral. Everything we could think of fit into one of those three categories.

The beings I refer to are living things on our planet. Yet not animal, vegetable or mineral, by common definitions. These things may be more shocking, based on what they can do, than any you might have imagined. True, a few people have died over the years through contact with them, but the fault was with the ignorance of the people, not of the beings in question.

Note that these are not the vicious conquering type of aliens we have read about or seen in movies for decades in science fiction. They are about as friendly and helpful to humans as it's possible to be.

I never could figure out why humans thought of aliens from other worlds as conquerors who would destroy us and what we know. Would we do that if we sent a ship through space to another inhabited planet? Would our astronauts be expected to destroy any life they may find on Mars in coming decades? No.

Before we get to the names, descriptions and modus operandi of these alien creatures, I want you to try to imagine what you think aliens might look like. The fact is, we have no idea. We don't even know if we would recognize aliens as life forms if they did not conform to our sci-fi images. Remember, it was not that long ago that homo sapiens without white skin were considered to be subhuman, simpler life forms, with much lower intelligence than those with white skin. We really know very little about life of any kind.

Might an alien breathe in oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide? Ours do. At least some of them do. How would they move? On feet, hoofs, paws or flexible skin (think snakes), as we are familiar with? Ours don't. They have roots, at least some of them. They spread or "re-seed" as some plants do. In fact, one being in the west of the USA is so large that it lives in the ground under four contiguous states. No other living thing we know is that large.

Would it have a brain? Almost certainly. At least something we might consider a brain. In fact, some of our beings contain pathways inside that, under a microscope, look very similar to pathways of the human brain. Hmmm.

Might they engage in agriculture? Some of our creatures are known to feed trees, from which they later gain nutrients for themselves. In fact, evidence suggests that they have been known to provide extra nutrients for young trees that are suffering because they can't get enough sunlight because other nearby taller trees are blocking light from reaching them.

Might they create chlorophyll, as plants do? Ours don't. In fact, they might consume dying plants (as we do) to extract chlorophyll and other nutrients from them. Keep in mind that all life forms we know consume other life forms to continue their existence--every single one of them.

Some of our aliens live in a symbiotic relationship with plant life we are more familiar with. Some live in a symbiotic relationship with animal life we are familiar with.

You may even have some of our alien life forms in your refrigerator. In fact, health aficionados recommend them highly as extremely beneficial for your health. Not long ago they were considered junk, not worth eating, parasites to the plant world. How our thinking changes as we learn more.

Enough with the teasing. The aliens in your refrigerator are mushrooms. The dangerous ones are called toadstools. Both are fungi, a huge group now considered to be a Kingdom (like animals and vegetables) of their own. When you look at a mushroom in the ground, what you see is the fruit, what you eat is the fruit of the organism.

Fungi are now known to comprise an enormous Kingdom with some 1.5 million members. Among the more familiar ones are yeasts and molds. Yes, they do breathe in oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide, like animals. Yes, some do have neural systems that look similar to that of human brains. They are subject to many of the same diseases as animals. Like animals, who lack the ability to make chlorophyll and to photosynthesize, they eat other forms of life.

Fungi are a diverse Kingdom. Some, such as yeast, are single cells. Others, like molds, are multicellular. And, yes, the largest known living being is under four states in the western USA. But don't plan a vacation to see it, it is underground. It feeds trees and it feeds off trees. Strange, huh? Kind of....alien.

If humans did the same sorts of things as some fungi, they would be said to be farming, acting in sympathetic or even empathetic ways to other beings, possibly altruistic. As it is, most people think of fungi as some kinds of strange plants.

To conclude, let's look at several ways in which fungi could help us to save our planet.

People have made use of fungi for thousands of years. Ötzi, the famous 5000 year old "Ice Man" whose body was discovered a few years ago, carried amadou with him. The spongy inner layer of the horse hoof fungus, amadou has been used for everything from making clothing (it feels and is worn like felt, and is as warm), as tinder for starting fires, for dressing wounds because of its antimicrobial properties, and for preserving foods.

Amadou is the first medicinal ever recorded. Hippocrates (he who created the Hippocratic oath, sworn by new medical doctors-- basically: first, do no harm) recorded it in 450 BCE as an anti-inflammatory. Of course you would not likely see it for sale today because it is available naturally on every continent and cheap to make (thus making it of no interest to drug manufacturers).


Soil could be enhanced with mycorrhizal fungi which would eliminate the need for toxic chemical fertilizers while improving crop yields.


Biodiesel made from mushrooms would require less soil and other resources than crops used at present. And mushrooms grow fast.

Environmental Cleanup

Petrochemicals and radiation could be removed from contaminated soil and water as mushrooms can break them down and absorb them. Slimy spike-cap mushrooms gobble up radioactive cesium-137, for example. Mushrooms will not harm the environment, rather they improve it. They would improve soil formerly contaminated with glyphosate.

Wastewater Filtration

Mushrooms could be used to clean runoff from storm drains, farms, logging roads or contamination from mines.


Select fungi could be used to kill off certain species of pests while remaining safe for others and not harming the ground in which they are grown.


Carefully selected mushrooms could be used to make new antibiotics, antivirals, immune-boosting compounds and even chemotherapies. Agarikon mushrooms, for example, could be used to protect against bird flu, swine flu, even smallpox.


Mushrooms could be used to symbiotically enhance growth of new forests or reforestation of clear-cut land. They help trees grow and, in turn, gain nutrients from the same trees.

Famine Relief

Mushrooms grow quickly, provide many essential nutrients and grow in almost any environment. They could be used to provide quick and fresh relief in disaster zones and refugee camps using just wood chips or saltwater-soaked straw as a starting medium.

Space Travel

Mushrooms could be used not only as freshly-grown food for space travelers, but also as materials for terraforming on new planets due to their ability to create new soil relatively quickly.

Bill Allin is the author of Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, a book of solutions for problems that affect every family and every community, but almost everyone believes they are simply consequences of modern society.

Learn more at

[Primary Resource: "Mushroom Manifesto", by Kenneth Miller, Discover, July/August 2013]

Thursday, August 08, 2013

I Don't Want to Write This (or how to survive a bad food supply)

I Don't Want to Write This (or how to survive a bad food supply)
With obesity and diabetes reaching epidemic proportions, we all know the dangers of relying on processed foods. In his book Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food giants Hooked Us, journalist Michael Moss explains how industry scientists combine these three elements, which essentially act like drugs, to hook consumers the same way the cigarette industry hooks smokers on nicotine.
Libby Znaimer, "What's Cooking", Zoomer, May 2013

I don't want to write this because I dislike giving advice to people who have no interest in hearing advice and who will suspect that I have ulterior motives for writing it. I have no motive, other than to relieve my conscience about not passing along information that will save lives and make extended lives healthier.

However, I feel compelled to write this because the jury has returned, opinions from well educated and experienced professionals are in print, scientific journals have confirmed it by printing peer reviewed studies. The food we eat, the food we are offered by a large majority of food stores, the food we are brainwashed into believing is healthy and we will enjoy, will eventually ruin our health.

Further, when your health is damaged sufficiently, you will turn to doctors who will give you drugs to "cure" you, but will not. In fact, they will make you into a dependant patient who will feel the need to return to their offices regularly. Or you will become very ill and require aggressive surgery and drugs, then you will die. Before you die you will think to yourself "Why did I have this bad luck?"

It's not bad luck, but bad management. You believed what you were told was correct about health, by people who cared so little for you that they would suck the very last coin from you before you expire.

Let's get a few things straight now. You will not die from eating processed foods. You will not die from eating fruits and vegetables laced with pesticides, fertilizers and other chemicals. You will not die from eating genetically modified foods (generally known as GMOs or GEs). At least not in the immediate future. That's what the health authorities care about. That is all they care about.

You may live an increasingly unhealthy life with increased disease risks and health problems you and your doctors can't account for. You may die a decade or more sooner than you would have if you had consumed a healthy balance of foods. The last decade of your extended life (people are living longer now) may be with severely compromised health, requiring you to be in an environment with health care professionals around constantly.

You also won't die soon from eating red meat or stuff you carefully grilled on that stainless steel masterpiece on your back deck. You may eventually develop cancer from eating them, but you will likely consider it your bad luck.

Health care professionals at the top levels now consider that the generations of people who are young enough to be working today will be the first in centuries to live shorter lifespans than their predecessors. That reduced lifespan could be ten years, maybe more. They admit to that.

They point to such obvious factors as diabetes and obesity, which everyone can see. They may add to the confusion by pointing out that these occur in almost every culture in every part of the world. They will not point out that these problems are avoidable through careful diet selections. They will also not point out that these problems have increased markedly as each of the cultures adopted a Western diet.

Why would they not point out these factors, as doing so could save lives and allow many people to live free of disease? Because their jobs depend on their keeping their mouths shut. A good way to lose your job and cause your reputation to be destroyed is to tell audiences that the food they eat will kill them sooner than necessary and cause them to live in poor health for many years before they die. Especially when that food is approved by government health authorities.

Who would do such a thing? What people or corporations wield such power?

Walk down the aisles of your local supermarket. In the aisles with prepackaged foods, the same manufacturers' name will appear repeatedly. If the brand names are not similar, the corporations that own those brands and whose names are not so obvious on the labels are few. Those foods all contain preservatives which do the exact opposite in your body as you want them to do, but exactly as the manufacturers want them to do while the food is sitting on shelves (you want food to break down inside of you, not remain "fresh.". Those corporations hold great power.

So, it's obvious that we should all pick foods from the fresh produce aisles, right? That used to be true. Not so much today.

Big power mongers like Monsanto, Dupont and Dow Chemicals control a shockingly large piece of the fresh food marketplace. Monsanto, for example, ("If there was one word to explain what Monsanto is about, it would have to be farmers") sells a "herbicide" called Roundup that kills every living thing, even microscopic life, in the ground it touches. Those who spray it must wear HAZMAT (hazardous materials) suits and masks. Anyone who breathes it will suffer severe health problems. Studies have proven this. It's public information. Monsanto admits this.

When farm fields are sanitized with Roundup, the farmer must then buy seeds from Monsanto, as only seeds originating with Monsanto will grow in the fields. No seeds grown one year may be saved to plant another year, because they will not grow and because it would be illegal (yes, laws support one-year-only seeds--in fact, Monsanto receives large grants each year from governments). While these genetically modified seeds are growing, they are sprayed with even more chemicals to prevent pests (read: other living things) from harming the plants.

Monsanto claims that the foods grown from its seeds, from poisoned ground, will be good for you. For hundreds of years it has been known that when poisons are ingested in tiny amounts, they accumulate until they eventually kill the person. Sherlock Holmes mysteries and Agatha Christie detective stories depended heavily on such plots. Eat a tiny amount of poison enough times and you will die.

Somehow, Monsanto has made health authorities believe that not just Roundup, but foods grown in fields laced with Roundup and other chemical poisons (pesticides) applied later are safe to consume. One shot of it kills bugs, but many shots of it will poison you. How's that for power?

The corporation even convinced the US Congress to include a non-conforming amendment to a bill it passed on a completely different subject (operating expenses for government agencies) to protect Monsanto from attacks against it by individual states or individuals. Power. Unbelievably immense power.

Who would put forward such an amendment? No one knows. It was added, quite legally, anonymously. Devastating power.

Most of the fresh foods offered for sale in the produce section of your food market have been touched by poisons of some sort, many of them several times.

But they won't kill you. At least not quickly. Over a few decades? No one has proven anything yet in court. Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie have no place in courtroom evidence and no living people have the money behind them to challenge these corporations in court. The corporations have deeper pockets than most of us could imagine.

However, Monsanto's GMOs have been banned in 55 countries (so far). The governing bodies of these countries actually looked at the facts relating to these products, and (more importantly) to the consequences of using them in their respective countries. Countries that have allowed GMOs have not examined the subject with such scrutiny. In the USA, one FDA official (decision maker) is a former lawyer for Monsanto.

[As an aside, as I was researching this topic I searched my Facebook homepage for references to Monsanto, references I know provided links to studies posted elsewhere, references I remembering reading on that page. Not a single post with Monsanto in the title or text was still there. The only remaining references to Monsanto were where the name was incorporated into a photo. In other words, Monsanto has the power to control Facebook.]

I'm not asking you to believe what I wrote above. It would take too long to give references to everything (longer than you would want to read). I am asking you to do some research yourself on these topics. Your health, your life, your ability to have a decent life in your final years all depend on your knowing what you put into your mouth. Choose to learn now, or later, the hard way.

Ask yourself why so many "new" diseases have cropped up among humans but not among other animals. Ask yourself why things like autism, asthma and diabetes are rampant now, but were extremely rare when you were a child.

If you want a place to start, read "Top 10 Most Unhealthy, Cancer-Causing Foods" at

If you want to stay up to date with small daily doses of information, sign up for short five-a-week videos by Dr. Michael Greger, M.D. at ( Dr. Greger provides evidence from scientific studies for every claim he makes. Lots of them. Be prepared to look at the food you eat now differently when you hear his messages.

It's up to you. The welfare of your future health will depend on what you eat today. Your health can change without giving you due notice. You won't know about your bad health until an emergency, when you are already broken.

Bill Allin is the author of Turning it Around, Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, a book of solutions. Yes, bad food choices that impact health and longevity are social problems. They affect everyone.
Learn more at

Is Higher Intelligence A Handicap?

Is Higher Intelligence A Handicap?

"I always appear smarter when I dress up in my giant nipple costume. I know this because I'll overhear people say things like, "At least he's not a complete boob."
- Jarod Kintz, It Occurred to Me

Setting aside the wisdom and wit of the quote, let's look at what people mean when they think of "higher intelligence." Give it a thought yourself.

In general, it's fair to say that there is no widely accepted consensus on a definition for intelligence, let alone that of a superior nature.

In fact, it is now more commonly believed that there are many kinds of intelligence. Some can't even be measured. Some people claim there are kinds of intelligence among us that are not generally recognized because we can't describe them.

Characteristics we once called inbred talents, such as for certain kinds of art, music, architecture or poetry, now are often considered as forms of intelligence. People with brain abilities to tune into energies science doesn't yet acknowledge have mysterious kinds of intelligence.

My interest in intelligence is more like raw intellect. My version evaluates intelligence in terms of the number of different problems or emotional demands a person is able to entertain at once.

People of low intelligence are often believed (by those with higher levels) to be the happiest people. They only deal with one problem or challenge or emotional difficulty at a time. One is manageable. If you had only one problem to deal with at a time each day, you could likely cope with it. Whether these people can only grasp one problem at a time or whether they choose to deal with them one at a time is unknown.

Even if your one problem were how to achieve world peace, you could take the time to ponder the matter, without allowing it to overtake your ability to cope.

Highly intelligent people have the ability to accept that they have many different problems to deal with (or that need to be addressed) at the same time. They know they can get the car repaired by taking it to a repair shop, if only they could arrange the time. The problems they try to manage run from there to saving the environment.

They know that devising a solution and a plan for implementation for achieving world peace can come if they can find time to consider the problem and possible tactics, strategies and solutions, plus the downstream consequences of each, will take time and a great deal of thought.

They also know that they will be able to survive loss of job or separation from a loved one, but it will take time and the ability to devise and implement a strategy that will eventually return their lives to something close to what they believe is necessary for their personal satisfaction and fulfillment.

Toss a passel of other common human problems into the mix and the total can become unmanageable. Any number of problems a person considers to be more than they can manage leads to the potential for emotional breakdown. A person who is capable of perceiving only one or two problems at a time may therefore be better able to cope with them than a person who can perceive many problems all at once.

If a person of higher intelligence is able to perceive many problems at once, from the simple and personally manageable within a short period of time, to major personal upheavals and community, national or world problems, it stands to reason that such a person will be at a decided disadvantage in comparison with others of lower intelligence.

That disadvantage should be considered no less significant than any other handicap. Even knowing they have many problems to address becomes a burden in itself. To make matters worse, invisible handicaps are always harder to deal with because they can't be easily seen or understood by others. Invisible handicaps are never recognized by society as real problems that need real solutions.

In other words, a highly intelligent person who has the ability to perceive many problems at once not only has each of those problems to consider, he also has the lack of understanding of those close to him and his community as an additional burden.

How important do you consider achieving world peace to be? If you ignore it because you consider the problem unsolvable and yourself incapable of addressing it anyway, perhaps you are not burdened with the handicap of super high intelligence.

I consider achieving world peace solvable. I have trouble finding a plan that may be implemented without the help of a massive number of others who think like me. There's a problem (reaching a critical mass) you may never have considered.

Being super smart is no walk in the park, except in the minds of people who only experience high intelligence from a distance.

From 5 Unexpected Downsides of High Intelligence

1. You're More Likely to Be Self-Destructive

2. You're More Likely to Believe Bullshit

3. You're More Likely to Lie

4. You're Less Likely to Pass On Your Genes

5. You're Probably a Night Owl -- And That's a Bad Thing

Bill Allin is the author of Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, a book of solutions. As popular a concept as achieving world peace is, the major problem is finding enough people to work toward implementing a plan.

Learn more at


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Bet You Didn't Know This About Coffee

Bet You Didn't Know This About Coffee

While tea was the leading hot drink for hundreds of years, coffee has rapidly overtaken tea over the past few decades. No one has yet produced a convincing reason why.

Few places in the world have an equal balance of tea and coffee consumption. One always dominates. Maybe the reason has to do with advertising by coffee companies. One company, Swiss multinational Nestlé, has been particularly effective with advertising for its nutritional, snacks and health foods. Nestlé controls over 25 percent of coffee production in the world.

Most people know coffee for its caffeine. Tea also has caffeine, though not as much, especially compared with brewed coffee. Caffeine was long thought to be nothing but a mild stimulant. Today it is treated almost like a drug in itself because of the way coffee stimulates some people, relaxes others and actually enhances the effects of other products such as pain killers.

Some may think of caffeine in terms of the popular energy drinks on the market. Energy (I use the term loosely) from coffee was used in energy bars by the Galla nomads of Ethiopia. They ground up coffee beans, then mixed them with animal fat as an energy snack some time in the first millennium.

A thousand years ago Arab traders brought coffee beans home from Africa and boiled them to produce a drink called qahwa, which translates as "that which prevents sleep."

Most people would not consider using coffee for health purposes. German physician Max Gerson did, in the 1930s. He promoted the use of coffee in enemas, to detoxify the liver, stimulate the metabolism and even to cure cancers.

While the National Cancer Institute, the US government's main agency for cancer research, says that Gerson's claims are unsupported, and the American Cancer Society warns that illness or death could result from use of contaminated coffee enema equipment, it hasn't deterred Prince Charles. The British monarchy's heir apparent has raved about coffee enemas. sells DIY kits for coffee enemas.

Spoilers have searched for decades for ways in which coffee could be bad for the health. They were disappointed in 2011 when the Harvard School of Public Health reported after a huge study (48,000 men over 22 years) that men who drank six cups or more of coffee a day had a 60 percent lower rate

of dying from prostate cancer.

Sweden's Lund University supported the distaff side in 2008 when it reported a study showing that drinking coffee lowers the risk of breast cancer for women with the relatively common gene variant CPY1A2, which helps to metabolize estrogen and coffee.

The Swedish team got even more attention with its report that women with the gene variant who drank three cups or more a day of coffee tended to have smaller breasts.

The following year researchers at UK's Durham University reported that students who drank three cups or more each day were three times more likely to hear voices and have out-of-body experiences.

J.S. Bach expressed his love for coffee in a cantata. With libretto by Christian Friedrich Henrici, the Kaffeekantate was first performed in Leipzig, Germany in the early 1730s.

If that seems strange, check out some of the words of the soprano part. "Father, don't be so severe!/ If I can't drink/ My bowl of coffee three times daily/ Then in my torment I will shrivel up/ Like a piece of roast goat." Kind of makes you want to watch that one play out, doesn't it?

Americans show their devotion to coffee by spending $40 billion on it each year. Over the world, people consume close to 1.6 billion cups each day.

Starbucks may be best known for its coffee concoctions. Their grande (or medium) 16-ounce coffee has an amount of caffeine equivalent to 9.5 cans of Coke. Yup, that in one "medium" cup.

Coffee's greed for water goes far beyond what goes into each cup. Including all the water needed to grow and process the beans, one cup of java requires about 4,700 ounces, or 37 gallons.

Coffee is grown on mountainsides, with just certain conditions. Change those conditions and coffee plants won't grow. Highland forests in Ethiopia and South Sudan, where most wild coffee grows, may disappear as the planet warms, according to researchers at London's Royal Botanic Gardens. However, domesticated coffee production will be safe for a while.

Safe, that is, from warming. Not necessarily from disease. 70 percent of coffee consumed today is produced from variants of the wild Arabica, or Coffea arabica, the wild bean that stores most of the genetic information needed to re-engineer coffee plants to produce beans under different conditions. Industrial coffee monocultures are as much at risk from one unanticipated disease as every other monoculture of agriculture.

One coffee grows already decaffeinated. Coffea charrieriana, found in Cameroon, is the only variety known to grow without the stimulant.

Elephants love coffee cherries, the fruit that surrounds the seeds we roast and drink. But don't send them away. A smooth and caramel tasting variety of coffee is made from beans that made their way all the way through the elephant's digestive system. Pre-hulled seeds are harvested from the dung. But wait, there's more. Elephant dung coffee beans have been known to sell for as much as $500 a pound. Yes, with two zeroes.

Don't worry about coffee making your breath smell bad. Tel Aviv University researchers revealed, in 2009, that adding coffee to a dish of saliva actually inhibited the growth of a bacterium that causes bad breath.

Now, if you will excuse me, it's time for my coffee break.

Bill Allin is the author of Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, a guidebook for parents and teachers who want to grow kids who develop well in all ways, not just intellectually.

Learn more at

[Primary information source: Discover, April 2013]

Monday, April 01, 2013

Are We Forcing Ourselves Into Extinction?

Are We Forcing Ourselves Into Extinction?

A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people.
- Franklin D. Roosevelt

We don't need to clear the 4 to 6 percent of the Earth's surface remaining in tropical rain forests, with most of the animal and plant species living there.
- E. O. Wilson

We've set aside tens of millions of acres of those northwestern forests for perpetuity. The unemployment rate has gone not up, but down. The economy has gone up.
- Bruce Babbitt

No one could doubt that humans are the most advanced, the best developed, the most intelligent, the most creative and inventive species ever to have graced the earth.

Well, almost no one. Actually, I do. Remember, who granted us that title? We assumed that there were no other species in the race.

True, we have language, which no other species seems to have in the same form. But many animal species and several plant species have been shown to communicate among themselves. Not with us. We can neither understand their communication nor communicate with them in ways they understand. Yet they understand each other, as has been proven by science.

We have imaginations, a characteristic in which we take great pride, one that has given us art, literature, music in their various forms. Neanderthals are now known to have made cave paintings in France. We don't know about non-human species because they do not express themselves the way we do. So we assume they are not as smart or as developed as us.

It was long thought that we had emotions that no other species had, or even could appreciate. We now know that many animals have emotions. Some plants have also been shown to have at least some emotions. Some we now know can communicate fear to others nearby when they are about to be harmed, not just when they are harmed, but before they are actually harmed.

Elephants communicate with each other over many kilometres at sound levels below the range that humans can detect. Whales have been observed apparently communicating with others of their kind over one thousand kilometres away. We humans actually hear only within a tiny range of air vibrations. We have little idea about non-human communication in frequencies we can't hear.

We don't know for certain if any creatures on the planet, animals or plants, hear or communicate at frequencies beyond what we consider normal (for us).

I dare say that few people would include rocks (minerals) if asked what kinds of life exist on earth. Why? Because they don't know. Trees and other plants, in general, exist in life dimensions much different from what we know, much slower. Rocks, which are known through continental "drift" to move and interact with each other, may well have a form of life that is so different from our own that we can't detect it because we move at a much faster pace.

Let me ask you this? What is the largest life form on earth today? Not the elephant. The blue whale? There is a fungus under several of the states in the USA east of the Rockies. One continuous life form, larger than whole states. If you didn't know that, what else might exist around you that you know little about? Literally millions of people live right above that fungus.

One of my favourite birds is the ruby-throated hummingbird. The ones that visit my verandah flap their wings around 950 times a minute. Faster than any of us could see clearly. They move around so quickly that no other bird or animal could catch them. They live about three years. The giant tortoise of the Galapagos moves so slowly that people don't want to wait to see where they go. They live about 400 years. Animals as diverse as these live at different life rates, some might say in different dimensions.

We determine intelligence by the form of intelligence best exemplified by the people who devise the intelligence tests. Humans are the "most intelligent" creatures on earth because we make up the tests. IQ tests of the past were shown to be shockingly biased in favour of the culture of the people who devised the tests. Thus people of Africa, for example, fared badly on them because they did not share a similar background to the devisors of the tests.

How intelligent are other animals? Only now are we learning that dolphins, some birds and some land animals are more intelligent that we thought. How do we know? We gave them tests that we could do, so if they could do them they must be intelligent.

How would you measure the intelligence of a giant sequoia tree? They live for hundreds of years (the oldest known as about 2200 years old). They must know something to live that long. Something we don't.

How might you measure the intelligence of the Rock of Gibraltar? Never mind, no one would believe you even if you had a guess.

What we humans most excel at is arrogance and hubris. We are very poor at learning from others who know more than us. Yet we are ready to criticize others who know less, who make mistakes, or even who have opinions different from our own. Dogs and cats that many of us have as pets know how to get what they want better than the humans who claim to "own" them. They ask, in their own way, but humans just expect those around them to understand, maybe by instinct.

What does this have to do with us causing our own extinction?

Charles Darwin claimed in his theory of evolution that survival depended on the ability to adapt (not to fitness, as many reports have falsely noted). Our ancestors were remarkable at adapting, spreading over the millennia to virtually every habitable corner of the planet. From the frozen Arctic to the Sahara Desert to the rain forests of the Amazon, our ancestors adapted to conditions and thrived in each one of them.

Their descendants still live in these harsh environments. But since they adopted western styles of life, they have also developed western diseases, including heart disease, diabetes and obesity. They have adapted the wrong way, just as we in developed countries have adapted in ways that will harm our own health.

More importantly, we now depend on developments in medical science and technology to save us, while we stubbornly stick with our unhealthy lifestyles. We believe that medicine will heal us, while it can only relieve symptoms. Healthy bodies don't get sick.

More countries than ever before in history have the ability to annihilate billions of us with nuclear weapons. North Korea doesn't get its way with others, so it cancels the agreement it signed at the end of the Korean War and threatens any country that refuses to give it its way. In response, the US does not offer to talk out the problems, instead choosing to boost its own missile defence, threatening to wipe out North Korea, claiming that if North Korea fires a nuclear missile it would be suicide.

Does that sound like civilized countries that have progressed into a safe and peaceful existence in the 21st Century?

We tend to believe the politicians we elect will look after our welfare, even though we are aware that they can be bought by industry. We believe the food we buy at the market is safe, while it is almost impossible to find even fresh fruits and vegetables that are not laced with pesticides, fertilizers and herbicides. Or genetically modified in ways that help the chemical companies that created them than us, the consumers.

We force ourselves to live stressful lives to earn money we believe we need to make us comfortable and happy. Yet as soon as we get more, we want even more than that. We know we need to de-stress, to relax, to chill out, but we claim we don't have time (the irony of that misses most of the people who should be aware of it). When that leads to an unhealthy body and illness, we turn to doctors and drugs (see above).

We believe that we are powerful enough to change the climate of the world, though we are unable to influence any one part of the weather when trouble comes our way. We worry about warming raising the average temperature of the atmosphere by half a degree, but show little interest in the 300,000 chemicals that industries put into our waterways or the half million chemicals they put into the air we breathe. We drink the water and bathe in it, we breathe the air, but that seems to matter little to us.

We believe that technology (or God, in some cases) will save us from destruction at the last minute. Yet we have no evidence that either is possible. We can't even imagine what a solution might be.

Evolution says that homo sapiens will be succeeded by a more advanced species, and we will subsequently pass from existence. Could that happen? History suggests that our species might cease to exist one day. But it will not likely be succeeded by a more advanced species. We would certainly kill it off before it had a chance to multiply.

Bill Allin is the author of Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, a guidebook for grandparents, parents and teachers who want to know what their children need and when they need it.
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Thursday, March 21, 2013

I know Why Our Universe Seems to Be Expanding When It Should Be Getting Smaller

I know Why Our Universe Seems to Be Expanding When It Should Be Getting Smaller
Even if we cannot look beyond our universe, we might still be able to detect signs of another universe if, sometime in the distant past, it came careering into ours, leaving behind vestiges of that crash for some wily observers to pick up on.
- Steve Nadis, "When Universes Collide", Discover, December 2012

To start, let's make it clear that no one knows the extent of our own universe. We in the Milky Way galaxy are near one side of it. We only estimate where we think the far side is (thus how big the universe is) by measuring light that we believe travelled from its far side to reach us.

From this we also estimate the age of our universe (time since the Big Bang) at 13.8 billion years. Did that light bend, as Einstein predicted, on its long route? Would we have a way to tell if it did? Would bending of the light (or other radiation) affect measurements? When calculating distances, we tend to think of linear measurements, not measurements that bend.

If light from distant parts of the universe bends along its route, how can we calculate linear dimensions of our universe? Is everything bent consistently or does the bending vary from location to location? As you can see, what we know for certain is far less than physicists would have us believe by their confident statements.

By definition,"universe" should mean "everything that exists anywhere." That is simply not enough any more. The imaginations of cosmologists and other physicists who study what is "out there" far beyond what we can see or even detect, to learn more, have stretched even farther out.

M-theory, known more generally as String Theory, predicts that 11 dimensions and multiple universes are possible. "Possible" because these fit with the complicated and convoluted mathematics. (In physics, math rules. Anything that can't be proven by mathematics tends to be denied as non-existent.)

It follows, within the theory if not within reality, that multiple universes raise the possibility that two could collide. Or, as they are mostly composed of nothingness interspersed with a few trillions of stars and planets, one might pass right through another.

If one universe were to pass through another, how might that play out? In general, there is so much space between stars that the likelihood of one smashing into another is low. But not out of the question completely. Cars and trucks on highways are not supposed to crash into each other either.

Might one smashup account for asteroids, or even planets, in our own solar system? Might the various fields such as gravity be so upset that stars might be pulled away so they paired up with other stars as binary systems?

Physicists have calculated that this long after the Big Bang our universe should be coming back together, contracting, due to the slowing down of the stretching and the influence of gravity and perhaps other forces that want to bring the universe back to a unity.

But that is not happening. Our universe is mysteriously expanding still, even faster than ever before, except during the first short period of time after the Big Bang. Physicists have conjectured dark matter (dubious evidence so far) and dark energy (still mostly in the imagination) to account for the mystery.

We know that matter of the kind we know is subject to laws of physics, such as gravity and centrifugal force. But dark matter supposedly need not be confined by such laws. Disconnect, illogical, right? And what kind of matter would not reflect light, at all? We don't even have any evidence that dark matter has a gravitational effect on the matter we are more familiar with.

Using the Kepler observatory/telescope in space, astronomers can now locate planets in distant star systems. But the system has so far not been able to identify anything that could be called dark matter. So far the hundreds of planets they have located are ordinary star satellites that reflect light, but the light can't be seen because it is too dim and they planets are too far away.

What if, millions of years ago, two universes began to pass through each other? We can't see the far side of our own universe. What we can see and measure seems to be expanding rather that contracting. What is more, it seems to be accelerating its expansion, not slowing down.

What if the expansion physicists are measuring is really the other universe moving away from our own? Our universe could have slowed, stopped or reversed direction, while the other universe gives the impression that the whole is expanding. We couldn't tell because we look at so little of it at one time. Could physicists tell the difference between evidence from two different universes if they saw it? Or might they just use mathematics to devise some other explanation they can accept because it fits their belief set?

Not likely they could differentiate one universe from another. A majority of physicists still prefer to believe that only one universe exists, our own. Why not consider other possibilities?

Job security. Academics put their positions at risk when they publicly support any suggestion that goes against the tide of the establishment. Remember how the careers of Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischmann imploded after they revealed they had successfully created power by cold fusion in 1989, but others later found it could not using the same method? (Today cold fusion is being studied and explored frantically in many labs and facilities around the world.)

Let me leave you with this. Might a second universe passing through our own account for ghosts, reports of space aliens, experiences of people in different dimensions and many other phenomena we can't explain?

Bill Allin is the author of Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, a guidebook for parents and teachers who want their children to grow balanced lives, not skewed by over-emphasis on intellectual or physical development.
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Sunday, March 03, 2013

Just How Wise Is Homo Sapiens?

Just How Wise Is Homo Sapiens?
Homo sapiens
: The modern species of humans. Archaic forms of Homo sapiens probably evolved around 300,000 years ago or earlier in Africa, and anatomically modern fossils are known from about 100,000 years ago. All humans now living belong to the subspecies Homo sapiens sapiens. The closest living relative of Homo sapiens is the chimpanzee. Neanderthals in Europe and Solo man in Asia are usually classed as archaic humans. Though archaic humans belong to the same species as modern humans, not all archaic groups or populations are necessarily ancestral to Homo sapiens sapiens. According to certain models of human evolution, modern humans replaced archaic populations throughout Asia and Europe after migrating out of Africa in comparatively recent times.- The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2005

How wise are you if you didn't know the proper name of your own species, Homo sapiens sapiens? Don't feel insulted, there is a point here.
What does the species name mean?

Homo - Latin for man, human (the scientific name always begins with a capital letter, even if it is written as H. sapiens)

sapiens - Latin for wise (Sapiens is both singular and plural, not always plural as many assume because it ends with s)

So the human subspecies to which you belong is technically called "wise, wise man." No doubt the additional "wise" is intended as an intensifier.

It will come as no surprise to you to learn that our species name was given to us by a man (not by any other animal). The man, Carl Linnaeus, was born in southern Sweden, in 1707.

Linnaeus, botanist, zoologist and physician, is known as the father of taxonomy. That means giving names to organisms, not stuffing dead animals.

No doubt Linnaeus was wise. Those with whom he consulted in his professional and personal lives were surely wise. Or at least knowledgeable, for their time. But how wise is the species he called super-wise, across the full spectrum of people? Linnaeus lived in an environment surrounded by wise men, and presumably wise women whose wisdom was not as well recognized or acknowledged. (How wise is that?)

In reaction to a post I made on Facebook recently, which included the name of our species, a Facebook friend who lives in Rwanda, Africa, commented "hahahah homo sapiens are unwise because they think their wisdom is to kill each other,hate each other,..." Humans are, generally speaking, the only species that kills for reasons other than food or defence.

We have been known to kill for sport (think of the Beothuk, of Canada, the true "red men," who were hunted to extinction). We kill in acts of genocide, infanticide, patricide, matricide, murder and in support of our religions, our tribes and our nations. We kill, in some cases, because we are told by our leaders or commanders to kill. Let's not forget suicide, another act of killing that is almost unknown elsewhere in the animal kingdom.

How super-wise is that? Or even just wise? Despite all that killing, our species is expanding so fast that we add another billion people to the planet every few years. Human population now is five times what it was 100 years ago. How? Mostly by slowing down the rates of death from disease and childbirth.

Our ancestors adapted so well that from our genetic beginnings in east Africa (genetic Adam about 150,000 years ago, genetic Eve about 120,000 years ago--each of us can date ourselves genetically back to one or the other of them) we now populate almost every chunk of land on the planet, no matter its climate or other forms of life used for food.

No doubt we have been successful by adapting. But how many of our ancestors were actually wise enough to help their peers with these adaptations? Not many. Only after we had settled most of the world's land mass did we reproduce enough to gain the power of numbers we have today.

How many among us are wise today? We have television shows that broadcast activities some of us do that are not just dangerous, but downright stupid. Many of those acts of stupidity are scripted, planned, choreographed.

Many people today risk their lives doing things that are not just dangerous to health, but risky to their lives. All to get attention or money. Our species is unique, for certain, in that way. Wise?

Our species is especially known for its tool making and use and for its written knowledge. These are relatively recent in human history, comprising no more than 2% of the time we have existed. How many of us have actually created a tool, or could use one unknown to us previously without training with a manual or by watching others? How many of us have actually read any number of the millions of books that sit lonely in our libraries?

We have entire industries based on values that were created from nothing by people who knew how to make money by exploiting naiveté and stupidity. For example, the fashion industry that creates items of clothing that are titillating or ugly, items that may well only be worn once though they cost thousands of dollars to buy. It's not as if these could be donated to clothing collections for the poor.

We have giant pharmaceutical companies that cater to people who live unhealthy lives, selling them drugs that guarantee to keep them enslaved to drugs until they die. And giant agribusinesses that create many foods so unhealthy that they feed customers constantly to the pharmaceutical companies.

These industries are all enormously wealthy. And powerful enough that they can influence governments to create laws or regulations that allow them to function and to put those who oppose them into prison or ruin their reputations.

I am not saying these industries should not exist. I am saying their customers could hardly be called wise. We could teach people to be wiser. But we don't. How wise is that?

If a rabbit created a system of taxonomy, I have no doubt that rabbits would be at the top of the scale of development. Impossible? How would you know? You can't even communicate with rabbits. Rabbits might be the most sophisticated animals species on the planet, but we would not know it because we have already dubbed ourselves the most highly developed.

Think about it. They are cute, cuddly, they love to have sex, they have no trouble finding food for themselves or shelter for their families and they can withstand any weather in any climate. Can you say that about yourself?

Before you accept our self-ordained title as the smartest, most developed and most sophisticated animal on the planet, drive to a supermarket and watch people jockeying for the parking places closest to the door, even if the space is designated for people with handicaps and they aren't. Or follow a few people down the aisles and watch how they position their carts as they gaze over goods on shelves.

Homo sapiens sapiens. Just a name. Don't take it too seriously. Other animals and plants are probably laughing at us and we don't even know it.

Among our brightest and best educated fellow humans are those who want to visit planets in other star systems. Not a single one of these people can communicate in the language of any other living things on this planet.

Yet a few of them have learned many words in human languages.

Bill Allin is the author of Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, a guidebook for parents and teachers who want their children to grow up well balanced as well as just smart.

Learn more at

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Will Health Care for Aging Boomers Cripple Their Kids?

Will Health Care for Aging Boomers Cripple Their Kids?

There are some issues that refuse to go away. Of the stubborn ones that assail our community, the notion of the Grey Tsunami is the most intractable and pernicious.
- Moses Znaimer, "Tsunami Redux: Going One More Round with the Save that Never Was," Zoomer, December 2012

The real-estate crash has added to nursing homes' budget crunch. Many clients sell their homes and use the money to pay out of pocket for long-term-care services from a nursing home. By obliterating more than $8 trillion in home equity, the collapse cut the number of patients who can pay their own way.
- The coming nursing home shortage, msn Money, 4/10/2012

First let's clear away a major--but largely unrecognized--factor that affects our perception of this issue. Our major public media love tabloid style journalism. They want to make us afraid, preferably every day.

News media have always been enamoured by both scandal and potential sources for fear (think "if it bleeds, it leads" for newspapers and television news). The issue of Baby Boomers cluttering our health systems and clogging the provision of adequate care as they age is the latter. It has been so much promoted that Republicans in the USA believe care for the elderly will eventually cripple the economy. They call it Obamacare in an effort to place blame on the Democratic president.

After a decade of severe and trying times of the Great Depression, followed by the Second World War (aka World War II), the West was ready to settle down and raise families. In so doing, the decade following the war generated the greatest number of births in any period of history.

Those post-war babies are now beginning to retire. Many, due to economic crashes and debt resulting from extraordinarily successful advertising and convenience of borrowing on credit, will stop working with no bankroll to support them in their "Golden Years."

The media play on the fear that they will become dependant on public support and cripple the economy of the once most powerful nation on earth. Is the fear realistic? About half the population of America have bought into the fear, so the fear is real even if its cause is not.

One of the problems is that the fear, as with many forms of worry, has no evidence to support it. Those who oppose this fear-mongering can't argue against the evidence presented to support the fear because very little has been presented.

In my country, Canada, fully 75% of the wealth of the nation is owned by people over the age of 65 years. Seniors are the wealthiest generation of older people in my country's history. This is the same demographic it's claimed will not be able to pay for its own health care.

Baby Boomers have held power in the marketplace since manufacturers first saw the need for new toys for young children. As they passed through middle age they forced huge improvements in health care. One was in medical imaging which allowed for earlier diagnosis of problems and their correction before patients became victims. Before they became bed ridden incapacitated patients.

This powerful generation does not want to be confined to beds and wheel chairs for the final few decades of their life. So it has pushed for better medical treatment, a better range of healthy foods available in the markets and many more facilities available to help them stay fit and active.

I belong to CARP (Canadian Association of Retired People), which has a US equivalent known as AARP. Just how active are the member groups of CARP?

Led by the organization's president, Moses Znaimer, known for recognizing people needs before others have caught on, a very popular magazine associated with CARP is known as Zoomer ("Boomers with Zip"). Zoomer is the most popular magazine in Canada geared to the over-45 demographic.

Znaimer has also founded Zoomer Media, a rapidly grown multimedia empire that goes beyond magazine publishing into radio stations, television specialty channels, speakers conferences and so on. Moses Znaimer is not known for failure and his success with CARP and Zoomer Media is ample evidence that aging Boomers will not lie down and be sick and helpless.

As a result of economic setbacks, bankruptcies and failures in the stock markets, many seniors find themselves without enough security behind them to retire at age 65. Instead they have decided to continue working until they can afford to retire. The point here is that they are healthy enough to continue working and companies are happy to have them continue working beyond the traditional retirement age.

The Canadian government even plans to raise the age of eligibility for Old Age Security payments because there are too many healthy seniors collecting pension money they don't really need.

Recent studies in Canada and the USA have shown that seniors are the happiest demographic among all ages. Other studies have shown that happiness is one of the best indicators of health, and one of the best ingredients for someone who wants to be healthy.

True, with recent market drops, two-thirds of Canadians over the age of 60 do not feel they have enough income ready for them to collect for them to live in the style to which they have become accustomed. Given that these very same people have been living with excesses far beyond their needs--some have so much stuff they don't know what to do with it when they move--that may very well be a non-problem.

When you have become accustomed to living with far more than you need, reducing your expectations of unnecessary excesses and shopping sprees may be something seniors would have to do anyway. When you stop feeling the need to "keep up with the Joneses", or even to surpass them, you can live with far less income.

Older people are also the most educated and experienced generation of folks on the planet. They have amassed skills and accumulated experience that simply can't be matched by younger people in the working world. Many large companies are happy to hire retired seniors part time to help with projects their younger employees might not be able to do well.

Volunteerism has become a vast field of opportunities for retired people who do not need extra income, who have time and who have a desire to help others. We have more people volunteering in the world today than ever before in history.

Most volunteering helps others in some way. This altruism is not only satisfying for participants and beneficial for those who are helped, it is also healthy for the volunteers themselves. It gives them the feeling of being needed and wanted beyond anything they have experienced earlier in their lives.

These people not only do not want to be sick or disabled, dependant on others for their survival, they insist on being well. They will do whatever they can to stay well and healthy. Check out the popularity of activities for seniors in your own area and you may be surprised at how vigorous they are and how many participate in them.

Seniors not only do not want to become disabled, they are determined to avoid it. As the old saying goes, they want to die with their boots on.

That's what is happening. The media don't cover that news because there is nothing scandalous or fearful about it. The situation is something to be excited about, not fearful of.

Bill Allin in the author of Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, a guidebook for parents and teachers who want to grow children who do not become troubled adults.
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Monday, January 28, 2013

The Myths Surrounding Alien Life Forms

The Myths Surrounding Alien Life Forms

Bookmaker Paddy Power is offering odds of 16-1 that the existence of extraterrestrial life will be confirmed this year.Maggie Aderin-Pocock, There IS life out there: Space scientist says there could be four intelligent alien civilisations in our galaxy, Mirror News, 2 July 2012
Note the dates: "confirmed this year" and "July 2012". Apparently bookmakers know little more about extraterrestrial (aka alien) life as the scientists who study the cosmos looking for it. That's not much.

Let's put a little perspective into this. Scientists who believe they know about such things as life on earth claim that the chances of life happening on a chunk of rock at just the right distance from a relatively small and remote star as our sun would be about the same as you or I winning a big lottery each and every day in the coming year.

They would be primarily biologists and others who have studied the intricacies of life on earth and its relationship with the respective environments of each. The odds against us being the way we are seem staggering.

Over on the physics side of science we have those who look at where earth is relative to the rest of the Milky Way galaxy and the universe and say there must be countless planets similar to ours. They conclude that the components that are necessary to generate living things (call them chemicals) exist in abundance in the universe, so there must be thousands, even millions, of planets like ours with life already growing and evolving.

With odds like those, it's no wonder bookies can offer grand looking odds to those who believe they have a decent chance of winning a big lottery.

Scientists claim that it's likely that life on another planet somewhere must be more evolved than we are, thus they have figured out how to travel astronomical distances (literally) in a relatively short period of time. They never explain why this could have happened faster elsewhere than it did on earth. Nor how the aliens could have found us amongst billions off possible locations.

Light from the nearest star system to earth takes over four years to reach earth. Scientists have not even imagined a way to travel faster than a tiny fraction of the speed of light. Indeed, most still believe Einstein's claim that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light. Even at the speed of light, the stressors on life forms inside a vessel would likely be greater than their bodies could withstand.

Meanwhile science fiction writers have so influenced real scientists that the latter now believe that alien life forms coming to earth will want to destroy it, or at least turn humans into slaves. They never explain how a few alien life forms would manage to conquer and overcome an entire planet. Or why, as they would not come in massive numbers as they would only be explorers and adventurers anyway.

We know that distances between earth and other planets that could be somewhat like earth are so great that it would require propulsion systems far advanced of anything science could conceive of today in order to make such a trip in fewer than several successive lifetimes.

Think about that for a moment. Would you send your astronaut son or daughter into space knowing they would (could) never return and that their children and grandchildren and even generations beyond that would be born and live their entire lifetimes on a vessel moving through uncharted space? Never to set foot on land. That doesn't make sense.

If one of our space vessels made it, over several generations of humans, to a distant planet that could sustain life, what are the chances that the vessel could turn around and make the trip back to earth without a problem that would destroy it? Remember, two of those very dependable American shuttlecraft were destroyed right here on our own planet.

Protection against space debris, wandering space litter such as rogue asteroids and radiation science has not even discovered yet--to say nothing of living in cramped quarters for decades at a time, with resulting muscle atrophy--would present problems beyond what science today can address with confidence.

Other small questions should enter the picture. We know that unmanned space vessels are the way to go when exploring beyond our own atmosphere, so why would an alien vessel travel with a complete crew (including earth-shattering weaponry) for generations, only to return home generations later to say "Hey, we found one!"?

If we were to send out an exploration vessel today, which direction should we go? Science has no evidence from decades of watching and listening to space that suggests there could be life anywhere else in the universe. A "shot in the dark" would have a much greater possibility for success than a probe with no known or prescribed destination.

We have sent out messages into space and listened for incoming messages for decades, but heard nothing. The SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) had to be shut down after decades of searching for lack of evidence of any kind.

This is not to say that there is no life out there, be it microscopic or even more advanced that we are on earth. It is to say that the effort may not be worth the cost, at least at this point.

In other words, finding a distant planet to which we could send a sampling of life from earth, in order to preserve what we have today, will not likely be feasible in the foreseeable future. Maybe never, as the universe itself is expanding at a horrendous rate, making everything in it farther apart.

We had better get busy cleaning up our own backyard before we have nothing left to send out into space in order to preserve life as we know it.

We allow some 300,000 chemicals to be poured into our waterways from factories and half a million chemicals to be whooshed into the air from smokestacks. We know very little about what effects they have on life right here on our planet. Yet our governments and our industries want us to worry about the temperature of our atmosphere warming by half a degree.

Of course industries want us to be concerned over global warming, it will take our attention away from the countless chemicals they put into our food, our medicines and our vaccines (dozens of which are now given to very young children, by law, with no evidence of their effectiveness or their long term effects on health, but an increasing body of evidence telling us they do more harm than good).

If you were an intelligent species that had travelled for hundreds of years through space, would you want to adopt homo sapiens as slaves?

Bill Allin is the author of Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, a guidebook for parents, teachers and governments who want to make the future of our planet livable.
Learn more at

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Suicide: A Small Informal (Personal) Study

Suicide: A Small Informal (Personal) Study
"Why did you try to kill yourself?"
"You told me to be happy."
- Anonymous source, internet forum, (validity unconfirmed)

A few days ago, as a result of an unfortunate series of coincidences, I found myself experiencing some old familiar feelings.

I wanted the pain to be over.

As I have been through these experiences before and lived to think and tell about them, I decided to do a small experiment to see if people who believe they know me could recognize the telltale signs of potential suicide we hear about (always after the tragic event itself).

What, I wondered, would people do if they knew I was troubled enough to rant, with little self control, about the state of the world and my life? Such ranting is as common as depression as a sign of someone who is potentially suicidal. Would people recognize a person in trouble, someone in danger of considering suicide? Or might they just think I had not had enough sleep? Or that I was having a bad hair day?

How many would care enough to ask if they did suspect something? I expected that most, if they recognized anything, would go introspective or selfish and try to avoid meddling.

"Did you really want to die?"
"No one commits suicide because they want to die."
"Then why do they do it?"
"Because they want to stop the pain."
Tiffanie DeBartolo, American novelist (b. 1970), How to Kill a Rock Star

I also wondered what people would do if they found someone at risk, what actions they would take. Would they, in fact, do anything or would they be too afraid to "interfere" in something they know little about.

Finally, I wondered what kinds of clues might cause people to clue-in that they were suddenly aware of a person they knew who was in trouble.

"A lot of you cared, just not enough."
Jay Asher, American writer (b. 1975), Thirteen Reasons Why

Most people who believe they know me paid little attention when I seemed to go off the deep end. "He has done it before, so we know he will be all right" they thought. It never occurred to them that I might see that as a challenge to prove them wrong. Suicidal people rise to challenges.

It never occurred to them that this time might be somehow different. In fact, brain chemistry imbalances may never be identical twice. Brain chemistry imbalances account for most depression and suicides.

It also never occurred to them that I might really end my life. They didn't allow that possibility to enter their minds. In psychology, that is called denial. For those who are left behind after someone has ended their life, it's a lifetime or knowing that they could have done something, but didn't.

What some friends have seen as strange cranky periods I get sometimes were really periods when I seriously considered suicide. I didn't follow through, for one reason or another. I delayed so long in trying to figure out how to end my life without hurting others that the chemistry in my brain corrected itself.

"and he suddenly knew that if she killed herself, he would die. Maybe not immediately, maybe not with the same blinding rush of pain, but it would happen. You couldn't live for very long without a heart."
Jodi Picoult, American author (b. 1966)

When I was a child, it was common to hear of people dying of a "broken heart." Of course this seemed silly, but people had no other way to account for why I person who had been very close to another (such as a spouse) for many years would die within weeks or months of the death of the partner (on some occasions it has been as short a time as a few days or even hours).

Today medical science has proven that people can die of a broken heart. It doesn't break like an invaded piggy bank, but it does cease to function properly. It gets so weak, even leaky, it can't pump blood efficiently. Why? Brain chemistry weakens the immune system and body organs.

Most of my "friends" on Facebook and all of those who subscribe to my posts gave no reaction to my ranting or telling of my tragic family history.

A few Facebook friends, notably those who are known to be particularly sensitive to the feelings of others and who those close to them know they have suffered tragedy more than once in their lives, took action. They tried to interfere, to intervene in a situation they sensed was risky.

The second best reaction I had was from two people who said, in effect, "I know something is terribly wrong in your life and I want you to know that I am with you for whatever you need." Some tried to give advice, which most people knew was the wrong approach. But the stuck their necks out in a situation they knew might be risky. They tried. They did something.

The best reaction I had was from a real life and Facebook friend who said, in effect, "I know something is troubling you terribly. How can I help?"

That kind of offer is open ended. The person making the offer is laying herself or himself open, as if to say "I am here for the taking." For someone who is close enough to find death appealing, that kind of offer is hard to resist. It says "I care. You matter to me."

What does it actually feel like when you want to end your life? First of all, there are two kinds of suicide attempts. Both are dangerous. The first is really a cry for help. The person wants to fail, wants to be discovered before dying. But he knows that he will be considered a fake if he doesn't make the action he takes severe enough that it could be convincing.

The second kind is the person who wants it all to end, wants the pain to end, wants it to be over. Don't ask what the pain is because an objective third party (the first being the person considering suicide and the second being his pain, which is so strong that it is almost personified) would not find the pain severe enough to warrant needing it to end immediately.

That last paragraph should be a clue to you as reader. No reason given for committing suicide may seem valid to someone looking on from the "outside." Something else must be going on for the person to feel that bad.

What is going on is bad brain chemistry. The chemistry is beyond the control of the victim. No amount of being told to think positive, to smile or to brighten up will help. If anything, it could alienate the victim from the others, making him feel more alone.

That aloneness is characteristic of suicide. People do not end their lives to punish others, though it might seem that way to people who read their "suicide notes." (Most people who commit suicide leave a note, but not all.) They end their life because they feel alone.

This aloneness is not loneliness. It's a feeling of being isolated from the world. It's as if you are in a parallel dimension, being able to see the other dimension without those in the other dimension being able to see you or to communicate with you.

It is not extreme selfishness either, though it might seem that way to someone who is close to the victim. It's not that he only thinks of himself, but that there is only one person in his world to think about.

In my case, I felt that way on several occasions over many years, but not for long. When I considered possible ways to end my life, I always thought about the consequences for people who were left behind. Most suicide victims do not do that.

When my paternal grandfather ended his life in 1917, he left a wife with five children to raise, no source of income, no social assistance, who not long afterwards contracted tuberculosis because she was so weak from working her life away to look after her family without knowing how or having any hope of a way out.

I learned early in my life what it was like for my father to grow up in a fatherless family. He had no access to parenting skills because he never had a father of his own. He could not be what many consider a "good father" because he didn't know how. He did his best, but had no one to turn to for advice about being a father. Or for that matter, about being a husband.

I did not want to leave my wife or anyone I knew or who knew me with that kind of legacy. I was aware of what they didn't know. I was aware of what I did know, of what I had learned from experience and from years of study. I knew that what I had learned would be lost if I ended my life too soon.

Fortunately, I am a naturally positive person. I became that way as an adult, but only when I gained enough self esteem that I could feel positive about myself. Before I gained that about 15 years ago, I had to depend on my instincts for survival, which were stronger than anything else in my life.

When some truly tragic events that were beyond my control sculpted my life, I survived on the belief that there was a better life for me out there somewhere, I just had to learn how to find it. I had to keep looking. Through those early decades I did not suffer a problem with wonky brain chemistry.

When the chemistry in my brain goes awry, and no one can predict when that might be, my positive attitude toward life fights with the damaging brain chemistry. The positive attitude eventually wins out, though sometimes it takes a few days for the battle to conclude.

Some people are not fortunate enough to have a strong positive attitude toward life. Some people are not strong enough to have an accumulation of self esteem. They are at risk. Some do not hold to the hope--or belief--that there is a better life waiting for them to find it. They believe a better life will never happen. They are at severe risk.

What can you do if you believe that someone you know is at risk of ending their life? The most important thing is to not go into denial. Second is to not insist that the person cheer up, think happy thoughts, be positive. It won't work and may cause the wrong reaction.

It will also not be effective to tell the person that he will get through it, that he will recover. At the moment of crisis, he will not believe. It is true that he will get through it and recover, but to a person who is suicidal, future is not a reality. Future does not exist.

For intervention strategies, I can speak from personal experience. I do not know what a medical professional, someone who has not been on the "inside" of a suicidal experience but has lots of "book experience" would say. Frankly, they usually don't say much because they don't really know. I know what would work for me.

Constant companionship. A suicidal person not only feels as if he is alone, he wants to actually be alone to complete the task of ending his life. He will only act if and when he is alone. No one ends their life with company watching.

Companionship not only prevents the person from committing the final act, in most cases it also tends to confuse the issue so much that the brain reacts to right its own chemical problem.

Companionship does not mean keeping up a constant conversation. It means just "being there." Keep it simple and plain. Touch, which is essential to humans and which the person at risk may have lacked for too long, may or may not be needed. A hug or touch on the arm or shoulder may be appreciated, but it may also be strongly rejected. Don't feel bad if the person doesn't want to be touched. Just stay with him.

I hope you never need to make use of what you have just read. But if you do, you will be able to save a life. Don't be afraid. It will be surprisingly easy.

Bill Allin is the author of Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, a book for parents and teachers who want to help children and for police and politicians who want to reduce one of the most expensive drains on tax funds.

Learn more at

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Why Older People Feel Cold More

Why Older People Feel Cold More
My father, who will be 81 soon, says the cold affects him very badly these days. So much so, that if he moves from a relatively warm room to a cooler temperature, he starts shaking and shivering uncontrollably. In addition he says he feels very cold "inside". - Helga C., internet question

Perhaps the most common complaint of elderly people who live outside of the subtropical zones of the world is about feeling cold, especially (but not exclusively) in winter.

Within the subtropical zones, older people may feel the heat more than they did when they were younger. (In the tropics, temperatures vary little throughout the year so the body adjusts to whatever the common ambient temperature norm is.)

A search for explanations for why older people feel cold more produces a variety of guesses, always based on the experience of the writer, either with herself or others close to her.

The most common explanation offered is poor circulation. It is true that blood vessels tend to get narrower as people get older. Cholesterol, in some blood vessels, makes the passage through them even smaller. Cholesterol accumulates in arteries, not in veins, and mostly in the core of the body, not in the extremities.

Blood circulation alone could not account for feeling cold, especially in extremities such as hands and feet. So long as blood is flowing to the feet, for example, heat is travelling from the body core to the feet. Where is it going once it reaches the feet? It is obviously not hanging around long enough.

Blood thinners are often labeled as the cause for older people feeling the cold more than younger folks. Thinner blood is needed for those with high blood pressure. Thinner blood should travel faster through blood vessels and people with high blood pressure should have blood pumping near the optimum all the way to the feet. Neither of these should account for cold feet.

My feet and hands sometimes feel extra cold, even when I am in a warmed house. At my age (into traditional retirement years) my blood pressure is on the low side of normal, never high. I do not take blood thinners. Again, if heat from my body core is not having a problem getting to my feet and hands, what is happening to the heat once it gets there?

Skin, particularly the epidermis, the extreme outer layer, gets thinner as people get older. Why?

The extreme outer layer of skin is comprised mostly of dead skin cells. These tend to hang onto what is below better when people are younger because their skin is moister with oil (and water). Younger people have more oil in their skin than older people.

As skin dries out, the outer layer of dead cells tends to flake off, exposing the layers that are underneath. That means the nerves are closer to the surface. The nerves are what make people feel cold (gives the sensation of being cold).

The skin also has fewer dead skin cells to act as insulation to prevent heat from escaping to the outside. Older people may notice dust flying around when they take off socks or put them on. That dust is dead skin cells. House dust itself is comprised mostly of dead skin cells. Older people see their skin getting thinner as they spot skin cells flying off into the air.

Thinner skin exposes feet and hands to ambient (room) air, which is always cooler than body temperature. Heat, as is nature's way, moves from a warmer place to a cooler place, so body heat in the feet and hands escapes through thin skin to the outside, making the person feel cold.

"I hate winter. I can't stand the cold" is a refrain I have heard countless times from elderly people in the cold climate country where I live. Some who can afford it move south to a warmer country during the cold season. Others simply have to bundle up.

Remember that heat escapes quickly from thinner skin, so extra insulation on the parts of the body that get cold should be considered essential.

Note that the core of the body may not feel cold, may not be cold. Warming the whole body just to get the hands and feet warm may not be the wisest choice. Putting the house thermostat up could raise the body's core temperature. Even a tiny rise in core temperature beyond what is normal for that body could have negative effects on health. Body cells and the immune system function best at a constant temperature.

In conclusion, older people feel cold easier than younger people, but the safest choice to make is to add insulation to the cold parts, not to warm the whole body beyond what is necessary.

Bill Allin is the author of Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, a book of help for parents and teachers of young children. Feeling cold is not a social problem in the usual sense, but as the Baby Boomers reach retirement age, it will become a very common problem.
Learn more at http://billallin .com