Monday, June 27, 2011

The Netherlands--Bastion of Liberalism

Abandoning Multiculturalism--read here the whole article. I especially like the comments.

A new integration bill (covering letter and 15-page action plan), which Dutch Interior Minister Piet Hein Donner presented to parliament on June 16, reads: "The government shares the social dissatisfaction over the multicultural society model and plans to shift priority to the values of the Dutch people. In the new integration system, the values of the Dutch society play a central role. With this change, the government steps away from the model of a multicultural society."

The letter continues: "A more obligatory integration is justified because the government also demands that from its own citizens. It is necessary because otherwise the society gradually grows apart and eventually no one feels at home anymore in the Netherlands. The integration will not be tailored to different groups."

The new integration policy will place more demands on immigrants. For example, immigrants will be required to learn the Dutch language, and the government will take a tougher approach to immigrants to ignore Dutch values or disobey Dutch law.

The government will also stop offering special subsidies for Muslim immigrants because, according to Donner, "it is not the government's job to integrate immigrants." The government will introduce new legislation that outlaws forced marriages and will also impose tougher measures against Muslim immigrants who lower their chances of employment by the way they dress. More specifically, the government will impose a ban on face-covering Islamic burqasas of January 1, 2013.


Sunday, June 26, 2011

Mexico VS US Soccer Match in US


Article from LA Times

It was imperfectly odd. It was strangely unsettling. It was uniquely American.

On a balmy early Saturday summer evening, the U.S soccer team played for a prestigious championship in a U.S. stadium … and was smothered in boos.

Its fans were vastly outnumbered. Its goalkeeper was bathed in a chanted obscenity. Even its national anthem was filled with the blowing of air horns and bouncing of beach balls.

Photos: Gold Cup final

Most of these hostile visitors didn't live in another country. Most, in fact, were not visitors at all, many of them being U.S. residents whose lives are here but whose sporting souls remain elsewhere.

(After the match was completed, the ceremonies were all done in Spanish. I wonder if US won in Mexico, would it be in English?)


Saturday, June 25, 2011

Vernola's Towing--Norwalk, CA

Complaint Reviews about Vernola's Towing: Here, here, and  here.

This also from Yelp.

This picture is my wife at the window at Vernola's Towing. You don't actually see a person. You stand at the window, wait for the person to talk to you, then a slat at the bottom is removed to pass though documents.

You are treated rudely, and I will give a few examples. Yesterday, I went there by myself to retrieve the vehicle, but was not successful. So today I brought my wife, along with my camera, so she could witness for herself how you're treated by these people.

First, let me say, I made a report on the internet to a website called "Ripoff Report". While at the Ripoff Report website, I noticed 3 other complaints for the same company.

Here's what I stated in my report:

My son's car was impounded 6/18/2011. My son is in Men's Central Jail in Los Angeles.
I called to get the car out of impound. Vernola's s Towing said I had to have a notorized release from my son, no exceptions. I took a Notary to the men's jail and got the document notarized. Then I go to the Cerritos Sheriff station and get the release from them. 

I take documents along with my license on 6/25/2011 at around 4:30PM to pick up car at Vernola's. You don't actually see anyone, because they are behind this thick dark glass. At first, when I hand them the documents, along with my license (my son's last name/address are the same as mine), I'm told they don't think my signed notarized document is legitimate, and they might not accept it.

There is no one there but me at this place of business. Finally, after waiting for around a half an hour, five minutes before they close (4:55), they tell me the charge is $418.00. I give them my credit card, and they tell me they will only accept cash. I explain there is no way I can go to the bank, get cash, and be back in 5 minutes. Could they please make an exception? "No".

I tell them I will return the next day, and they tell me they may not accept the document by then.

My wife and I go there today--I, with camera in hand, to record what they say. They tell me I'm not allowed to record. They were rude. The car did eventually get released to us, but before we even got to see the car, cash had to be paid up front, and you had to sign a document that says you release Vernola's Towing from any claims, actions, suits, agreements or liabilities arising from its possession.

Here's another review from Citisearch (This link explains best my experience others had). Please read for yourself and draw your own conclusions. Do you believe there's a pattern here? Could it be their rules are not to help the car owners, but to deliberately make it difficult so that fees become  high for the benefit of  Vernola's Towing?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Refined Grains

This post is mostly for me.

On June 2 I had surgery, which gave me plenty of time to rest. While resting, I tore though and reread my favorite nutrition books by Drs Fuhrman, Esselstyn, Campbell, McDougall and Lisle.

I became aware of something I've been doing glaringly wrong in my diet. Though for the most part, I've been a vegan, I've always eaten lots of refined grains. (Even though time and again, I read refined grains aren't good, I still harbored the idea that refined grains really aren't that bad for me. Boy, was I ever wrong.) And I've always wondered why my blood pressure was high, cholesterol higher than what I would like, and triglycerides higher than what I liked too. It was all related to eating a diet with lots of refined carbohydrates, including beer.

Since my surgery, I've gotten very little exercise, no aerobic exercise, but have eaten the most healthy ever in my life. All from eschewing refined grains in favor of whole grains. My blood pressure dropped immediately along with my weight. I will stay on this path of eating and then get my cholesterol and triglycerides tested later. I'm really looking forward to getting tested.

I realize my diet is what most would call a spartan or very strict diet. It definitely is. Does all my food taste good? The answer is no. Do I care? No.

But now that I've come upon this new found knowledge, it's left me with a few answers along with a few questions.

One of the answers is that if we look at other animals, none suffer obesity. No Jenny Craig or Weight Watchers for the thousands of birds that we see flying overhead. No billions of dollars spent on which diet is the right diet. They eat till full. Just as if we eat the foods that our body was intended for, we'd never have to count calories either--never, ever again.

Also another answer--obesity is not our fault. Anyone who eats the standard American diet, will eventually either be overweight, or they just have a body type in which they're blessed. While the diet should consist of mainly whole grain foods, examine the foods that you eat and others around you. It is comprised mostly of foods containing little to no fiber. With a steady diet of fiberless foods, one can't help but gain weight. And it's not your fault. It is ingrained in our culture and our customs to eat fiberless foods.

A question I have is that since my diet is spartan, and so different than everyone else, will I be able to maintain this diet? I certainly don't fit in. "Here Mike, have a piece of bread". No thank you. "Here Mike, have some of this meat". No thank you. Wow, aren't you a lot of fun to be with. I want to make sure I invite you next time we go out.

Foods and Fiber

All meats--chicken, fish, pig, cow-contain no fiber or very little fiber.

All dairy--milk, yogurt, ice cream, cheese-contain no fiber or very little.

Refined grains--white rice, white bread, most boxed breakfast cereals, soft drinks (sugar)--contain no to little fiber.

What has fiber? Beans, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds.

How to cure obesity in the world? Let every morsel of food you eat contain fiber. Eschew foods that have little to no fiber. Try it for two days, see for yourself. It may be the hardest two days of your life, but it could well be the most eye opening two days.

Simple Vegan Meal

This is a simple and tasty vegan meal.


One can of pinto beans, rinsed.

Make salsa of tomato, onion, cilantro with lime or lemon juice. (Pineapple makes it even more tasty.)

Broil corn tortillas 3 minutes per side.

Use a little hot sauce.

For one can of pinto beans, I can make around 10 tacos, enough for 3 meals.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Forks Over Knives--The Movie

Here are the show times for the movie "Forks Over Knives":

Forks Over Knives is a movie about eating a plant based diet. Sounds boring, doesn't it? Trust me, it's far from it. It is one of the most compelling, thoughtful documentaries I've ever seen.

It might not be showing in your area. Just keep the title in your mind. Eventually it will be coming your way.

I cannot more highly recommend a movie.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Canadian Surgeon in Afghanistan

Below I link to a few articles about Dr Patterson. And then I highlight what captures the essence of the article. One thing I did not highlight which is of great interest is the non use of insulin for all of critically ill patients in Afghanistan. It was just never required, while in Western countries it is standard medical care. Read the full article to get the full explanation, I find it most informative.

This is a from an article by Dr Kevin Patterson

Recently I WORKED as an internist-intensivist at the Canadian Combat Surgical Hospital in Kandahar. Most of our casualties were Afghans: National Army soldiers, National Police and civilians caught in crossfire. They were diminutive men, almost always less than a hundred and forty pounds. I cannot comment on the body masses of the Taliban—they were never brought to us. But they are not likely larger than those of the soldiers and the police. And because, in war, soldiers are fed first—prospering right up to the moment they are pierced—the civilians were even thinner.

For someone used to the life and the pathologies of the rich and settled, much about practicing medicine in Afghanistan felt unfamiliar. One of the striking differences was the way gunshot victims’ abdomens looked in CT scans. Back home, I was used to seeing organs stand out with some prominence from the abdominal fat. In fact, in Canadians, the state of the kidneys can be partly assessed by the degree of inflammation in the perinephric fat that envelops them. It’s the same with the pancreas, and the liver often looks like it belonged to a French goose fattened for foie gras. Indeed, the idea of “normal” in a Canadian body proceeds from the assumption that it might be normal to spend one’s days tied to a grain spout, beak pried open, being filled with cracked corn.

Not the Afghans. The surgeons, in fact, often commented on how the abdominal contents spilled out once the abdominal wall was opened; every loop of bowel immediately visible, unobscured by mesenteric fat, which, in Canadians, would cling to every organ like yellow oily cake. Excessive fattiness is precisely why, when caring for the critically ill in North America, glucose levels are tightly controlled with insulin—a procedure necessary even for those not thought to be diabetic. Stressed by the infection, or the operation that has brought us to the intensive care unit, our sugar levels rise, paralyzing our white blood cells and nourishing the bacteria chewing upon them. But it was never necessary to give the Afghans insulin, no matter how shattered they were.

This from an interview:


Dr Patterson dons his mukluks for a stroll on the ice
Photo courtesy Dr Kevin Patterson

Kevin Patterson's writing is vivid, emotionally acute and bracingly smart. His first work, the sailing memoir The Water in Between, was a New York Times "notable book," and his short-story collection,Country of Cold, won the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize. But it's not just his literary craftsmanship that stokes the envy of his fellow writers. More maddening is that he is this good and he has a day job.

Dr Patterson, who lives on Saltspring Island, is an internal medicine specialist at Nanaimo General Hospital. He put himself through medical school by joining the Canadian Army. He's currently doing a tour of duty — as a civilian physician — in Afghanistan treating civilians at a hospital in Kandahar to provide relief to overstretched Canadian Forces healthcare personnel. Before he left, he managed to persuade 11 of his physician and nursing colleagues to pitch in too.

His latest book, Consumption, was inspired by his experiences as a doctor in the Arctic, where he's spent part of every year since 1994. Consumption began as a non-fiction account of the abrupt transformation of Inuit communities. In a short period of time, the Inuit have changed from suffering the diseases of deprivation — particularly starvation — to the diseases of affluence, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. But as Dr Patterson wrote about the medical and psychological impact of acculturation, he kept returning to the underlying issues of loneliness, fear and social dislocation. These, he realized, would be better probed using fictional characters, and so Consumption became his first novel (click here to read an excerpt).

Consumption begins in 1962, when Victoria, an Inuit girl, is diagnosed with tuberculosis and evacuated to the south. When she rejoins her family six years later, she is healthy but culturally estranged. In her new home of Rankin Inlet no one really fits in, however. The community is in the midst of wrenching change as the latest technologies, diamond fever and new patterns of consumption all arrive from the south.

"This novel is not about the problems of the Inuit, it's about our problems examined partly through the lens of the Inuit," Dr Patterson told me when we met for breakfast at the Sylvia Hotel. He's a trim man in his 40s but looks younger — except for the wrinkles at the corners of his eyes, a consequence of weeks spent squinting into the distance at the helm of his ketch.

Here's what else Dr Patterson had to say...

On the North:

"The closest thing I've ever encountered to the tundra is the open ocean 1,000 miles offshore, on a particularly bad day. Part of what stirs me about the Inuit and the north is the sense of wonder I feel that people survived there, in that climate and with no wood.

Think about the bowhead whale hunt, for example. It's just amazing. I mean, you are in a kayak made from sealskin, and you have a piece of driftwood with a sharpened rock tied to it, and you are hunting these 50-tonne animals!

But when you pulled the whale ashore your whole band ate well for weeks. You just set up a camp beside the carcass. Each morning you got up and chopped off another square foot of frozen blubber and skin and took it into the igloo. Your biggest job then was to fend off the dogs and polar bears."

On why narwhale blubber is better than Cheez Doodles:

"When I first went up north in 1994 there was no diabetes. As late as the 1960s, people were travelling to Cree villages in the northern boreal forests to find out why they are immune to diabetes. Now, in a place like Norway House (a Cree community in northern Manitoba), the prevalence of diabetes in adults is 40%. That's just amazing!