Tuesday, September 29, 2015

AJAX - CITY OF KAMLOOPS - PROCESS SUGGESTION

September 29, 2015
Mayor & Council
City of Kamloops

RE:  AJAX - September 28th forum at Coast Hotel – Conference Center – PROCESS SUGGESTION

Thank you all for your time last night. One appreciates that these sorts of obligations are onerous, so it is useful to reflect on process to perhaps optimize future encounters. May I compliment you, Mr. Milobar on your firm hand in keeping people on track at the start?

One understands that this is a very contentious issue and so a forum like the one held last night needs to seek to manage interpersonal relations to prevent exacerbating ill will. In reflecting on any given attempt at public consultation or interactions, one needs to ask have we reduced polarization, increased it or are we in the same place as we started. My sense, given what I observed last night, is that we are in the same place as we were when the meeting started – granted there may have been some valuable data collected.  

It is a useful exercise to facilitate discourse between “opposing” parties, this is readily accomplished by breakout sessions with small groups composed of various interests. At present there is irrationality in much of the rhetoric; it needs to be countered with meaningful dialog. As someone who believes we can manage the mine’s externalities that are potentially negative and derive a good deal of benefit from the project – I want to find a way forward and I know that quiet, meaningful dialog can take us there. If I were opposed to the mine, I would rather maintain the polarization, promote fear and continue with damaging and irrational rhetoric.

It seems, Mr. Milobar that you’ve take a neutral stance on the issue – if that is the case, a forum that facilitates people of “opposing” interests to interface will result in moderated views, and a more harmonious community – there are plenty of studies to support this assertion.

Thank you all again for your leadership on the issue, I hope you find this suggestion useful.

Kind Regards
Neil Thomson
250-819-6950

More thinking on the issue:

”Imagine if you will that in 25 years, from the beginning of mining to full extraction of all valued minerals; at the close of mining activates, the city had planned from the outset a residential development to replace the mine site. With this in mind, a model residential development site could be part and parcel of the mining process. So rather than a rectangular pile of rock as a tailings pile, the site could be sculpted perfectly to suite residential lots. Lots, with the perfect southern exposure, a sculpted lake, a geothermal complex for community heating and perhaps a nine hole executive golf course. The point here is, that what some perceive as destruction can be managed to provision a superior outcome.” 

Earlier Thinking

Response to Mr. Walsh’s OpEd in Kamloops This Week
http://nthomson2.blogspot.ca/2015/06/ajax-mine-kamloops-have-courage-prosper.html

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Can eating make you crazy – the Nexus of Nutrition & Mental Health

Knowing what to eat can make you crazy, in the age of information overload – data roles in – minds change – it is hard to know what is best.


It seems odd that the predominance of attention paid to mental illness and nutrition by our medical system is well after the pathogenic effects of poor nutrition are on display. The linkage between nutrition and mental illness is clear in many cases, Berry Berry – B6, medication absorption and B12 … the list goes on. Other linkages are less obvious, essential fatty acids & cognitive function and capacity or the complete amino acid complex for fetal brain development, for examples. In contemplating nutrition as it relates to eating one needs to think about the impurities and additives in food, and their effect on the human brain. Conventional western medicine is tardy here, in the world of nutrition – when the symptoms arrive often the damage is done.

Gut health, and the bacterial complex that resides in our gut play an important role in health in general; hence the growing interest in prebiotics and probiotics – so when I read recently that gut health affects mental health, it was no surprise to me. There are a number of factors at play here in the brains interface with the gut, but the scientific connection has been made. The first time I fasted, I experience a real sense of well being, oddly, I love to eat; after 3 or 4 days a general calmness came over me - having this experience affirmed for me the brain gut connection. I am in contact with people who fast regularly and they almost unanimously report the same sense of wellbeing once into a fast for a few days. This article The Emerging Field of Nutritional Mental Health: Inflammation, the Microbiome, Oxidative Stress, and Mitochondrial Function, will help you understand the linkages and functionality better than I would explain it, what is of interest to me is the absence of this consideration in health delivery in general.

The term “Madder than a Hatter” was used for people affected by mental illness, hat makers treated the beaver felt with mercury – mercury exposure causes a complex of systems related to depression and other illnesses. Lead exposure is blamed for ending the Roman Empire; lead causes a “weak mind” and a complex of symptoms like depression. Oddly however, Chelation therapy is absent in the conventional approach to treating mental illness in western medicine, we never test for it in British Columbia, much easier to push a pill.


Attention to holistic concern, the willingness to take the time to treat illnesses like mental illness is absent in government supplied medical care. We pay for illness in our system, we fail in every way to reward health. Medical doctors receive income solely for treating illness as opposed to the overall wellbeing of their keeps. There is testing available to identify many of the subtle medical occurrences related to mental health and nutrition, they’re left unused in most cases – or used once things have progressed. We need to do better in this regard, perhaps if people had the option to self-direct their medical spending, they would pick the modalities of treatment that promoted health, rather than waiting for illness to come.  

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Monday, September 21, 2015

Party politics and the media – distortions and spinning mountains out of molehills





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In the words of Winston Churchill, democracy is the worst possible system except for all the rest, in another quote he suggested, if you ever want to shake your faith in democracy just spend five minutes talking to your average voter. The contrast to the voter of his day and the contemporary voter is that, the voter of his day had five minutes. It is very difficult for the average voter today to gain the knowledge required to be really informed, as people are running at an extremely fast pace; so even if the press were providing information unaffected by political distortion by which to form opinion, voters of today hardly have time to think. In this context there is instability in the voting public, resulting from people susceptible to a 30 second news clip asserting a scandal that would be contrasted to earlier times when opinion was formed slowly and changed slowly. In view of this battle for the “swing vote” or “vital middle” parties seek to differentiate by exaggerating differences that are really minute, spinning mountains out of molehills.

What emerges from this process is a polarised public by party but really possessing nearly identical beliefs or political outcomes. There then exists the absence of substantive difference in policy direction. This dynamic diminishes real choice, but what is worse is the distorted view of government policy that emerges out of the process.

The media feeds the political rhetoric by attaching undue saliency to occurrences in society at large and in response to political prompting. The events of September 11, 2001 where ghastly and warranted acute national attention, yet only 3000 people were killed. In that same year 100,000 people were killed by preventable medical accidents. The medical accidents received no attention at all. Both were horrible occurrences, yet only one, 9/1,1 received coverage. 

There are issues were political saliency becomes detached from mathematical reality and this distorts public perception and the political process. In Canada 171 people per year are killed in gun related incidents (one would be too many) yet we spent $2 billion on a gun registry and nothing on a medical records system, when in Canada 25,000 people die each year from preventable medical accidents. In the context of rational thought medical accidents should be our priority. It seems that journalists should give more consideration to saliency and the way it affects public opinion, as public concern is often misdirected with the most serious of consequences.



I've used gun control as an example above, there are many other examples to draw from.

A useful concept to consider this phenomena by is called the Availability Heuristic Salient. In these instances, the ease of imagining an example or the vividness and emotional impact of that example, becomes more credible than actual statistical probability. Because an example is easily brought to mind or mentally "available", the single example is considered as representative of the whole, rather than as just a single example in a range of data. Salient events tend to distort the judgement of risk.

 It is difficult to imagine a means by which this can be addressed, but the distortion in the public’s view of issues as a result is worrying. Even the application of ideology would give some stable means by which to anchor support. For the most part, political party’s position is so nebulous its hard to see what is being supported and so fungible that today’s policy is something else tomorrow, depending on which direction the windsock of public opinion is pointing. Young people see this, particularly the informed ones, and turn away from the system. One understands the nebulous stance holds political advantage at its core. In the effort to promote brand over substance in defining political parties, the overall brand of democracy is waning.  

Friday, September 18, 2015

Taxes - KISS THIS - Keep it simple stupid




In watching and participating in the discourse around taxation in the election, I became guilty of a very dangerous frame of mind – like the blind man feeling the elephant’s parts and failing to assess the whole – I find myself making comments on the minutia, rather than looking at the whole. At its base, the Canadian tax system, beyond just collecting revenue for the government, is a societal manipulation program. That is to say, the government takes our money and then gives a very small portion of it back if we do what the government wants. We as a people should be permitted to be autonomous agents and when government through coercive means or pecuniary means alters choice, it is an encroachment on personal choice. At what point is government exercising excessive control over us?

On average Canadians pay 42% of their earning in TAXES to the government, that’s average, higher income earners, not the 1%, but people who work hard every day for their families pay more. 42%, plus permits, airport fees, environmental levies & then there is the ambient circumstance of massive government complexity in remitting and reporting income. I remember setting about the task of understanding the Canadian Tax Act, the act is 1200 pages long, I could hardly lift the book. In that book are; tax loopholes, corporate welfare, redistributionist policy. The tax system is a means by which the government attacks our choice as to who and what we want to support under threat of expropriation or incarceration.


I shudder to think what the administrative cost of compliance to the Canadian Income Tax  Act is by itself, then add administrative costs of remitting GST or the multitude of other taxes we pay – what people forget – taxes, in of themselves are a massive cost, but the collection and remittances in the context of such complex regulation eats up millions of person hours – in economics this is often referred as a “transaction cost”. Transaction Costs are like bank fees, they steal capital, they steal food from the mouths of babes, they steal the money for the symphony ticket – they are costs that neither purchase a good nor produce a good. They are necessary, but we must seek to limit them. Take a moment to consider in your life, the time it takes to do your taxes or the cost to have them done - and further your interface with government generally. 

We have the Canadian Revenue Agency, it employs in excess of 40,000 people, an army of people to collect taxes. At $60,000 total cost per person that is $2,400,000,000 of “transaction cost”, I punched that in my calculator – is that right – how much is that – it is a lot of help for families to be sure. These are all good people, smart people, capable people, honest people doing honest work - the real cost is wasted is human capital, this bank of highly capable people could be redirected to productive work – calculate the lost opportunity of their productive work, it is staggering. Worse, however, there is another larger army of people, also highly intelligent, highly motivated and capable, also wasting human and financial resources trying to avoid paying taxes – hours spent finding loopholes and more hours spent fighting it out in court. Think about it and you will begin to see the lunacy in it.

NOTE: I've had comments wondering what these people would do if a policy that government pursues renders their present position redundant, the government would be obligated see to their redeployment is some way. This is in no way a suggestion to abandon people, it is a suggestion to deploy funds better in the interests of people. 


There is good news, however, this is all completely unnecessary. There is another way, a way that promotes compliance and reduces the transaction cost that is the Canadian tax system. No matter what the entity, no matter the place, when that entity generates an income to pays an amount. No tax loopholes, no tax incentives, no complexity. Entity X makes a $1, entity X pays an amount – just that simple. As soon as you do that, you save most of the $2,400,000,000 in wages and other governmental overhead. There are examples of jurisdictions with similar tax systems as Canada opting to collect a flat 10% tax on income, and their revenues increased – why, because of compliance increases. When income tax is low enough no one wants to take the risks associated with tax avoidance.

Simplifying the tax system makes our lives easier and better, this is true of all government systems. There is undue complexity in government, ASK YOURSELF WHY.  

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Sunday, September 13, 2015

MP Voting – Policy, Morality & Abortion



In reading Mr. Murphy’s recent piece in the National Post titled “Christian’s Need not Apply”, Mr. Murphy references profound ethical dilemmas at the intersection of politics and religion; I assert there should never be a dilemma there. Mr. Murphy was contemplating the challenge of religious conscience, voting, the abortion issue and Justin Trudeau’s insistence that all liberals must vote in favour of pro-choice. Now, the abortion is the most difficult of issues by which to make a point because, it has been so badly tarnished by an extended and heated debate; one hopes if the point can be made here, it will provision a means by which to conduct governance absent the inappropriate imposition of what is often religious doctrine. I should premise this discourse by saying that I live in harmony with the Charter or Rights and freedoms and most Christians would find little fault with the way I live, save perhaps a little too much zeal in Scotch consumption; the key thing to note however, is the delineation between the two – religion & governance.

In forging policy, the very first question is “what are we endeavouring to manage”. If the policy is related to human action and or human interface, the next question is “what goods are being moved forward or harms are being reduced”. Here we take our guidance from the Charter of Rights and Freedoms – Section 7, Life, Liberty and Security of person provisions that we are at liberty to conduct our lives as we see fit, save a direct and immediate threat to another or the public at large. The Supreme Court of Canada has read the charter and is applying it, and this will be the rigour by which legislation will be tested in the future. The only time a personal action can be managed by a statute in Canada and have continuity with the Charter, is when it has externalities that affect public health & safety – in an immediate way. Mr. Trudeau Sr. said “the government has no place in the bedrooms of the nation” and he was right, nor the kitchen, nor my liquor cabinet, nor my medicine cabinet – the government has no role to play in private and personal choice. To have a diverse and secular society this is as it must be.  

The critical assumption that must be maintained in the contemplation of legislation is that we are governing a population of informed adults who have the right to make choices and resist the inclination to protect people from themselves. The paternalist bent in governance in Canada is offensive to the informed and enlightened. The encroachment on personal liberty is insidiously escalating in Canada and has been for some time, government finds it’s way into every aspect of our personal lives. The channel by which government often finds it’s way into our personal lives is via morality based legislation, the other channel is though government provisioned services – e.g. medical services, between the two, Canada has become a totalitarian state. By accepting that other’s truths are as valid as our own, we can forge human interface between diverse groups that is harmonious. Societal harmony is in no way everyone believing the same thing, it is providing a venue by which people of diverging belief can co-exist.

The abortion issue is most challenging, for me and most others I believe, because it bumps up against a universal concern for the sanctity of life. At the other end of life, death, the way is crystal clear; it is an adult managing their own life’s end. With the issue of abortion it is the suspension of a created life that is so troubling for us all. Here to however, we need ask ourselves, what rational woman would end a pregnancy absent good reason. How is an organization as blunt and unwieldy as government going to intervene effectively in such a herculean choice to be made by a woman?

If offering council to a young woman who was contemplating ending an accidental pregnancy, my advice would be to carry to term and find an agreeable arrangement for the child’s well-being. This advice would be offered less from a moral perspective and more from concern for the long term happiness of the young woman. I have limited experience here, I do know, that no one I’ve encountered has found happiness from having an abortion and many have from happiness witnessing a new life.  The most important consideration here, is that there was an accidental pregnancy in the first place – the event in of itself demonstrates a complete lack of leadership in the young girl’s life – she has really been failed by the people responsible for her. Even in the case of just an unwanted pregnancy, the personal circumstance is so nuanced there is no way to draft legislation to address what is a deeply personal issue. We have to rely on the good judgement of women and support mechanisms to maintain this as a very last resort in the most difficult of circumstances – where the whole complex of events makes it medically necessary. Will there be errors made, it is inherent the whole human endeavor tragic errors occur, it is a question of finding the best means to mitigate human tragedy. 
  
The very best way to address any moral issue, and this is no exception, is by being active in civil society. Seek to effect good and wholesome behavior through culture, a culture of love, informing, support and health, rather than a culture of the persecution of the sinner. It is the ambient culture of shame, the overzealous suppression sexual inclination and the seeming unquenchable desire for the “moral” to punish that has driven so many women to abortion and many to extreme harm and death. If it is Christian morality you’re drawing on for guidance here, the look to Christ for direction, as opposed to dogma, Christ taught about tolerance and love as opposed to fear and control. Most of the pain associated with the whole challenge could be avoided with openness and being proactive, this of all issues calls for leadership at the forefront, rather than managing the aftermath.


As a nation we had reached equilibrium on this issue, an awkward consensus – perhaps an agreement to disagree; it is odd that this issue came into election concern from the progressives, normally it is the pro-life group railing against the present Canadian circumstance.  The fact that it could be activated in political interests as Mr. Murphy asserts, reflects the mercenary nature of politics; it is my sense, that in this case it was a predominantly progressive Canada protecting hard earned ground.

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Thursday, September 10, 2015

Monopolies - Why do we allow them



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It is generally accepted that Monopolies are bad – why – because they let people charge as much as they want for a given product; assuming it has a completely inelastic demand. In Canada we have situations where the government actively forbids competition, medical services for one and effectively the School System. Where there is competing service providers there is disruption, products and services get better and less expensive – where there are no competing service providers, products and services stagnate, and  their price remains the same or increases.

1919 the Anti-Combines Act was introduced to prevent any one entity from monopolizing the distribution of any one good or service. Then in 1985 the government introduced into law the Competition Act. The point is that no one was screaming in protest in defense of corporate monopolies, why then to people get so upset when people suggest we need more service providers of Medical & Educational services; it maybe that some are afraid of competition. There is simply no justification for government to withhold from the public options for service. In British Columbia I am forced to buy car insurance from one company, the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia – why is that okay.

There are other challenges with government monopolies, they grow and they become less accountable to the people they serve and seek more to service the people they employ. People working in government monopolies are in the vast majority good people, educated people and motivated people – big organizations by their nature tend to stifle individuals and frustrate innovations. Government monopolies are bad because they have political masters, it is a difficult byproduct of our democratic system that government attempts to isolate itself from criticism from the population and the people operating the government organizations attempt to isolate themselves from criticism of the government. There is no motivation to be rigorous in reporting, when reporting’s only outcome is punishment. It is this double tiered obstruction to accountability that attacks the ability for services to rationalize to demand or to reduce the cost of delivery.
   
Given societal substructures and sub - currents, government monopolies are dangerous in that they offer a conduit for systematized persecution or discrimination. If a restaurant refuses me service I can go to another one or if a restaurant says I have to wait three months for a meal, I can go to another one.

There are several factors in government organizations that cause operational rigidity or institutional inertia, the cost of change precludes change; in the business world when companies get like this they fail or change, government monopolies always have the funding for inefficiency. This has nothing to with individual people in big government monopolies; this has everything to do with the realities of organization behavior.

In the case of medical services for example, the government can still ensure universal access to services by insuring for medical services and permitting anyone to offer the service. In the case with the education system, the government can still finance the process – it just needs to allow easier access for other service providers. It is so oblivious that multiple unrelated service providers offer a benefit to society, I am always perplexed why people are so intent on forgoing a rational solution.     

Monday, September 7, 2015

Suport CHILDCARE - Say NO to factory daycare


We want Canadian’s to have a good life, we want well-adjusted children and we know that the choice to have children is taxing, relative to avoiding having children. Parents have raised children since the dawn of time absent government intervention and the world has progressed. I think people sense that providing help in the form of a child subsidy of some sort would ease the load that new parents encounter. So let’s just say that parents’ need help and we are going to give it to them; it is better to give parents help (money) than to build another institution to put little children in.

I am eager to call attention to a generalized trend in society, a trend that promises to generate a cultural monolith rather than diversity, as we know in nature, a mono-culture is dangerous and so it is in society.  The trend is the institutionalization of our country – we are – from coast to coast to coast institutionalized – institutions by their nature feed the center of bell curve, the exceptional and the challenged get winnowed out.  

“Give me four years to teach the children and the seed I have sown will never be uprooted.” Lenin

Our education system is a monolith; the “school” culture is nearly pan Canadian, save small variances. The capacity for the school system to adapt to trends, to absorb technology and to attend to the individual is grossly retarded by the size of educational institutions alone.  The vast majority of individuals in the system providing services are exceptionally trained and good people; the challenge is the environment we create for them impairs their being as effective as they could be.  There is a push in Canada to expand the school system further down into the early childhood sphere, to institutionalize child rearing; it is a disturbing thing to see people lobbying government to put their children into an institution. People should be lobbying government for MORE time with their children as opposed to trying to farm them out.

The institutionalization of childhood and development of children, is troubling. At every turn children are put into organized environments, organized play – it is making a generation of followers who are creativity deficient. I get tired of seeing kids in uniforms, in schools, in single file walking down streets behind a “childcare” worker. I want to see them figuring things out, in environments where there is inter-generational knowledge transfer. People tend to forget, child rearing is in no way child minding, we should avoid occupying them until they are adults. Child rearing is the building of an adult, they need one on one time with adults for that to occur effectively.  

Why is it important for parents to retain influence over their children? There is a unique dynamic that occurs as parents come together and make a family, family cultures and genes merge and a phenotype emerges from the process. The children can only become steeped in the culture peculiar to their parent’s merger, if their parents contribute to their rearing. From the merger of family cultures children are shaped in a unique way, that “phenotype” combines with the ambient culture to generate outcomes, this is the well spring of diverse people and thought – we need to preserve it.

When I was a child we use to use the term “school of thought”, how often do you hear it now? There really is only one school of thought now, one approach to challenges and opportunities; group think pan Canada – let’s hope no one walks off a cliff. 

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Health & Nutrition - In defense of beef - Neil's Take




My family had a mixed farm in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia; we made a “good” living on about 140 acres. My father was a pilot in WW2, having seen enough excitement for one life time, he declined to participate in the development of the British Properties in Vancouver to become a farmer, thanks Dad. We did have a good life there and the 140 acres did raise a family of five and when he pasted in 1963, his family lived off the proceeds of the his efforts by liquidating the assets his farming effort generated. How is this defending beef, well think about it, we had a life because people ate beef.

We were a mixed farm, dairy, mink, sheep, grain, and of course a few beef. I get perturbed when people with some weird fetish about “human” conduct, or some misinformation campaign, or some dietary preference, or some unfounded environmental perspective engage in bashing a whole industry, absent any experience in the industry or any understanding about how the environment works. Can we do better, yes, but in the main, the modern agro-complex is producing more and better food AND better health outcomes than all of our preceding history.

Myth One

One article I reviewed “6 Reasons to Avoid Eating Meat”, said by avoiding eating meat you were doing the environment a favour. Statements like this make me want to scream – you idiot – it is critical to have livestock in the “crop” cycle. The “beef haters” are perpetually attempting to steer us away from meat to soy and veggies, soy requires cultivation, fertilizer – forage production has a greatly reduced requirement in this regard. The diet for a cow is predominately forage and augmented by grain. In a mixed farm setting the grazing of livestock contributes to the management of the soil by providing organic matter and fertilizer. In a more extensive ranching operation, cattle are released into the mountains to covert grass to protean; absent cattle there would be no means by which to harvest this grass in a meaningful way for human consumption. The beef industry’s overall interface with nature nets out positive for the environment and the industry is trending to do an even better job with people starting to migrate to grass feeding and finishing of beef.   
Myth Two

Another article I reviewed said to avoid beef because it was high in cholesterol and saturated fat and suggested to change to Vegetarian diet instead. There was a push away from the “high fat diet” in the late 70s and 80s, the government issued direction to “reduce saturated fat”, the worst obesity epidemic in human history ensued. In the North American diet, the enemy is ubiquitous easily digested carbohydrates. There are studies that support the fact that in consuming more meat protean there is a reconfiguration of cholesterol in the blood, Hdl increases & Ldl lowers. Saturated fat as a source of energy is better than carbohydrates because it metabolizes more slowly. One article suggested eating cooked Salmon is stead of beef so the consumer could access healthy fats, when you cook fish the “healthy” fat saturates in the cooking process; the healthier option is, a lean New York strip and supplement healthy oils via cold pressed flaxseed oil and small fish oils. Red meat is high in iron, B vitamins, protean … it is a healthy part of our diet, and most of all, it tastes good. Be a vegetarian if you like, I’ll take a New York strip, lightly grilled veggies and a bottle of robust Shiraz any day.

My Three

All growth enhancements are bad. There are products used for growth enhancement that have no human health effect, yet make the bovine digestive process more effective – the enhancements reconfigure the enzymes or acids in the rumen and enhance feed utilization,  this is good for the producers pocket book AND the environment. There are also rumen enzyme enhancements that reduce the production of methane gas from the digestive process. There are implants used that alter digestive related hormones ONLY. There are commonly used “sex hormone” implants, these are the ones that excite public concern, largely due to miss-use in other jurisdictions that caused negative health outcomes; as they are utilized by the Canadian Beef industry they are relatively benign. So in the main the use of enhancements in our industry is safe and humane; there are organic / grass finished beef options if you’re worried.  

Myth Four

One person asserted that eating meat causes Colon Cancer, this is a complete scare tactic. Colon health is important, unhealthy things do accumulate in the colon over time – seeds, hard to digest items like gum and yes gristle from meat. So it is important to attend to colon health, however, this imperative is in no way specific to meat eaters. Focus on fiber, healthy foods, lots of veggies and fast from time to time. There are lots of fasts around that really do flush your system, I use the Master Cleanse, some fasts for specific challenges and others that focused more on heavy metals. There was a study done in England that included the assessment of 50,000 people, they found an increase in the risk in colon cancer with the daily consumption of “cured” meats; people who consumed cured meat three times of week had no greater health risk than the control group. The consumption of “uncured” red meat offered no variance from the norm.

The reality is that diet and religion seem to generate the same fervor, so people will do what they will – I’ll be eating meat.

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Friday, September 4, 2015

Refugee Crisis - How many children have to pay the price.


The recent politicization of the death of two young boys escaping a civil war has been a low point in Canadian politics; I’m unsure who introduced these boys misfortune into the mix first; they should be ashamed of themselves. Given that the Conservatives had nothing to gain from the assertions that Canada is AWOL on the refugee front, one can deduct then it was someone else.

Now that refugees are front and center on the campaign trail the topic is at hand and it presents an opportunity to point out where refugees come from. We have refugees because we have conflict and disruption, we have conflict because the world community has failed to manage the region effectively. Please look at the history of the Middle East and you will make the following observation, the pain incurred there by these people is a product of incomplete effort on the part of intervening nations in our contemporary reality and the fracturing of regional order as a result of European management post Ottoman Empire.

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Russia attacked Afghanistan so they could have a fossil fuel transportation corridor to the lucrative Pakistani and Indian markets; the United States intervened by supporting Afghani warriors “freedom fighters” as they were called and they drove the Russians out, this gave birth to the Taliban.  The Taliban gave refuge to Osama bin Laden and a stronghold for al-Qaeda in the Pashtun region of the country. It then became necessary to bomb the al-Qaeda stronghold and invade the country. It is important to note that many in the United States governing body wanted to take a stronger presence in Afghanistan post the Russian occupation, had they done so the Afghanistan story would be much different – because of passive foreign policy however, in excess of a decade of war and hardship ensued. Even now, having been through the cycle before and post a trillion dollar military adventure, we (the west) are poised to make the same error in Afghanistan. We need to focus on effectiveness in the Middle East, on outcomes there and stop letting western election cycles and the whimsy of the populous politics determine our course.

Having seen this same process unfold several times elsewhere, we had to once again repeat history in Iraq. The Coalition took Iraq handily militarily speaking and then invested trillions of dollars, thousands of lives, millions of civilians killed, injured and displaced to win the peace, to effect a secure living circumstance for the country. This was a herculean undertaking with an unspeakable human toll, only to walk away to let the cycle unfold again, in was popular to take US troops out of Iraq – it was just stupid in the extreme. Granted there are other causal elements at play in the rise of ISIS, the “desert spring” and the collapse of several national orders in quick succession has played a role as well, the point is that had the US maintained military presence, there would be remaining a point where order exists. The two little boys who drowned were Kurds, “Kurdistan” or the Kurdish region of Iraq was beginning to prosper before the war do a degree and then gained momentum as the new order in Iraq took form; most of Kurd’s progress took place with just western air support. Had we (the west) exercised our obligation to protect, had we stayed the course, those two little boys would have opportunity to be living in a stable and prosperous place.

The generous country of Canada never killed those boys; a dismal circumstance and extended western neglect did. 

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