Monday, November 29, 2010

Quote of the Day



It is possible that mankind is on the threshold of a golden age; but, if so, it will be necessary first to slay the dragon that guards the door, and this dragon is religion. - Bertrand Russell

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Importance of Being Grateful


The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings. - Eric Hoffer
On Thanksgiving Day, many American families celebrate the tradition of sitting around the dinner table and taking a few minutes to reflect on and share with others what they are grateful for.

It doesn't matter that we live in difficult times. It doesn't matter that we may feel insecure, depressed, disappointed or angry. Thanksgiving is a perfect time to reflect on the good things in our lives and to celebrate abundance. There is always a silver lining, no matter what. We may not always see it, but a shift in our perception of reality will help us change the way we experience everything that is coming our way. At first it may be difficult to understand that the glass is never empty. It may come in a wrong size at times, but it is always full. There is always something to fill our hearts with joy, something to fill our minds with wonder, something to be grateful for. If we remember this, we will easily find the strength to continue no matter how difficult our circumstances may appear. 

A small exercise in gratefulness can help us shift attention and move the center of gravity. Instead of focusing on all the things that are wrong or missing in our lives, we should express gratitude for all the things that are good and praiseworthy. This change in attitude helps us elevate our vibration. We instantly feel better about ourselves and our circumstances. As our mood changes gradually, we tend to attract positive response from people around us. Everything seems to be less dreary and we have the strength to face our challenges without fear. We are able to understand that even the most difficult times do not last forever. We know that we are in transition and that the outcome depends on the direction we are wiling to take. After all, we are the final masters of our fate.

Do not allow negative emotions to take over. Do not tune in with others who spend their days whining and complaining. Instead, try to motivate those around you to count their blessings and to exercise gratitude on daily bases. At first, they may object that there is very little they can be grateful for, but with passing time they will realize that it is really up to them to experience joy and create abundance. It is like a magic touch because with the right frame of mind ordinary things will suddenly take on another meaning. 

Keep in mind that giving thanks is a conscious decision we need to make daily. Begin your day with blessings and end it with a reflection on the good things in your life...

Wishing everyone Happy Thanksgiving -with Love Light and Laughter - Dominique Allmon


         

Image credit here

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Don't Touch My Junk!

 
 Catholic nun subjected to pat-down by a Muslim TSA employee 
at the Detroit Metro Concourse A. Image by Dean Shaddock

"It is the people who hate their job that tend to be a bit too surely and treat passengers like criminals." - Greta Van Susteren who would rather be a subject to a pat-down than a scanner out of fear that her nude images would end up on the Internet

Would you rather pose for a nude photograph or be groped by a federal employee? 

Passengers are mad as hell as they have to put up with constantly increasing security measures at the airports all over the country and abroad. First it was taking shoes off and belts at the security line. Next came the removal of liquids from bags, followed by the removal of laptops for scanning. Now, with the full body imaging and aggressive pat-downs, many passengers have reached a point where enough is enough. 

The new airport security measures not only strip people of their dignity, they violate the civil rights. This is an outrage in a free society. It is even a bigger outrage when you consider that neither the scanners nor the TSA employees are able to detect plastic explosives hidden in diverse body cavities. Does this mean that soon we will become subjects to the anal probe before we board the planes? Things could not become more ridiculous than that. And while the authorities, including the President himself, believe that this is the best way to prevent future bombings, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton stated that she would avoid the invasive pat-downs if she could.

The scanning devices also raise important questions about radiation, but this aspect of screening is quickly dismissed by the authorities as least objectionable. The emission is considered to be minimal and harmless. Radiologists, however, see the things differently and warn about the potential dangers of the new scanning technology. The ionizing radiation has the potential to damage human DNA and increase the risk of cancer in children and other vulnerable populations. The safety of these scanners have never been demonstrated, especially not by any independent panel of qualified doctors and scientists.

The terror threat exists and is more serious than ever, but the detection methods employed by the authorities are not very effective. The technology should be there, but it should be employed as a secondary measure. What is important, but completely neglected by the authorities, is the behavioral training of the TSA employees. Unfortunately the agency employs people who underwent a rudimentary training and who receive minimum wages, but who are given maximum power to harass passengers at will. A breast cancer victim is asked to remove her breast prostheses so that the TSA bully can see it. Another bully humiliates a man wearing ileostomy bag (a plastic or latex bag attached to the body for collection of urine or fecal material after ileostomy or cystoplasty)...

Interestingly, Muslim groups in America object the screening and demand exemptions because they consider the new security measures to be offensive to their understanding of modesty. This is quite outrageous when you consider that it is not the Norwegian women who exploded themselves in Jerusalem, but the pious and modest Muslim women full of hatred and contempt for human life. It was also a Palestinian woman who shot and killed a German Lufthansa Airlines pilot Jürgen Schumann in 1977 in Mogadishu.

When other religious groups follow the suit and start to demand exemptions, the only people left for scrutiny will be the atheists. Justly so, as it is a well known fact that the angry atheists are responsible for most terror attacks all over the world!

We need to be sure that airlines are safe, but we must use common sense. In the politically correct America profiling is not an option. Besides, what would stop a terrorist from stuffing a baby with plastic explosives? Drug smugglers do. There are so many scenarios that the authorities are left with very few options. But why no one is consulting the Israelis who have probably the best airport security in the world? 

Israelis do not believe that the full body scanners really work and this is why they do not use them. Instead, they use a highly trained security personnel who engages passengers in a conversation before they even check in their luggage. The questions are simple, but a questionnaire is devised in such a way that it reveals insecurity, elevated stress levels and lies permitting the security agents to fish out the dubious characters for a more thorough screening. 

Technology alone will not solve the problem. It may function as an alibi to make people feel safe, but it does not address the ingenuity of the terrorists. Instead, it humiliates and angers innocent people who have little choice, but to subject themselves to this abuse of their dignity or, as the Secretary of National Security Janet Napolitano suggested, take a bus if they don't like it. 

By Dominique Allmon

Remember, Wednesday is a National Opt-Out Day! Consider this if you have to travel by air. The security check at the airports will take longer than usual as many people will choose the pat-down instead of the full body scan. But be warned! If you decide that you do not want to be checked in either way, you will be detained and fined $11,000! You cannot simply change your mind at the airport and go home.

P.S.

From the article published on Natural News:

The news about the potential health dangers of the TSA's naked body scanners just keeps getting worse. An increasing number of doctors and scientists are going public with their warnings about the health implications of subjecting yourself to naked body scanners. These include Dr Russell Blaylock as well as several professors from the University of California who are experts in X-ray imaging.

At the same time, some internet bloggers are insisting that the TSA's naked body scanners pose no health risks because air travelers are subjected to higher levels of radiation by simply enduring high-altitude flights where cosmic radiation isn't filtered out by the full thickness of the Earth's atmosphere. This comparison, however, is inaccurate: The TSA's body scanners focus radiation on the skin and organs near the skin whereas cosmic radiation during high-altitude flights is distributed across the entire mass of your body.

Image source here
Please, visit the 4th Amendment Wear website

Monday, November 22, 2010

Gratitude

 

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow. - Melody Beattie


         

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Freedom of Conscience

 

"Nothing is more seductive for man than his freedom of conscience. But nothing is a greater cause of suffering."- Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

      

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Two Traveling Monks

 

Can we put an end to our own suffering?

One of my favorite Zen parables wisely talks about letting go of things. For many of us this is a very difficult task. Our minds crave permanence and we try to hold on to things without even realizing that our attachments are the main cause of our suffering. We define ourselves through our experience and through our memories. Without them we feel invisible, insignificant. For as long as we can hold on to something we feel we exist. Even if it is pain of a past experience, a disease, or a loss of a loved one. We seem to know who we are and which way we are going, even if the pain is tearing us apart.

Two traveling monks reached a river where they met a young and very attractive woman. She was in despair. She had to cross the river, but was afraid to do so. The current was too strong and she was afraid of drowning. Without hesitation, the older monk picked her up onto his shoulders and carried her across the river. Arriving safely on the other bank he sat her down and bowed. She expressed her gratitude and departed. 

The monks continued their journey in silence. Unable to hold his silence any longer, the younger monk spoke with reproach "Master, of all people you should have known that our spiritual teaching forbids us contact with women, but you have picked that one and carried her on your shoulders! How can that be!?" 
"Brother," replied the master, "I set her down on the other side hours ago, but you are still carrying her."

Letting go of pain

This simple and amazing story describes the state of mind of most people. Long after the original experience, we are still carrying it around. This is especially true when the experience was painful. The First Noble Truth teaches us that there is suffering. The human existence in itself is painful and filled with suffering. We experience physical, emotional, and existential pain.

According to the Second Noble Truth, this pain is amplified by our own attitude towards our experience and our attachment to it. We "own" our experience. We "own" our pain. When pain becomes our identity, we are not willing to let go of it easily. We hold on to everything that was done to us. We hold on to every mistake we have made if only out of fear that we could make the same mistake again. We hold on to every false belief that only perpetuates our suffering because letting go of it feels like losing ourselves without a trace. Sometimes we would deny ourselves the right to joyful existence and chose to suffer holding on to the injuries of the past. We never forget. If the memories are not present in our conscious minds, they are deeply embedded in our subconscious.

Although the psychology of suffering is very complex, it is possible to break the attachment to pain. The Third Noble Truth postulates that it is possible to end suffering. Meditation calms the mind and allows profound introspection and self-analysis. In severe cases psychotherapy may be necessary. The success of any of these approaches lies in our ability to understand that the only way to end suffering is to detach ourselves from it. Letting go of pain takes courage, but it is absolutely necessary if we want to live happy, fearless, and fulfilled lives. Letting go of pain takes discipline. Only when we consciously focus our minds on the present, are we able to experience our lives to the full. 

The Fourth Noble Truth teaches us that there is a way to end suffering. There is no promise that we would never suffer again, but our existence in the present allows us to sort through our emotions in the instant, when they arise, and to acknowledge the situation for what it really is. We do not have to carry the experience around for the rest of our lives. We could leave it right there and move on. Detachment from pain is by no means a loss of identity. The memory of our experience does not go away. We do not deny its existence. It only assumes a different role in our personal history. We need courage and discipline to go through this process. We just have to convince ourselves that we are worth it and that there is a life after the pain is gone. Every single day new perspectives open before us. We just have to allow them in. And remember, we all have to cross a river, sometimes with a very heavy load. Do not forget to leave your load as soon as you crossed your river.

By Dominique Allmon 

Creative Commons License
Two Traveling Monks by Dominique Allmon is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.


Also of interest

         

Image source unknown but greatly appreciated

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Quote of the Day

 
 Patrick Henry's "Treason" speech before the House of Burgesses in an 1851 painting by Peter F. Rothermel

“The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government.” - Patrick Henry

In the Rothermel's painting, Patrick Henry delivers his famous "If this be treason, make the most of it!" speech, declaring his opposition to King George III's Stamp Act of 1765. A decade later, as revolutionary sentiments surged in America, Henry declared "Give me liberty or give me death!" to the Virginia Convention gathered at St. John's Episcopal Church in Richmond, Virginia.

To listen to Henry's speeches please visit Colonial Williamsburg

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Happy Veterans Day!

 
Joseph Ambrose, World War I veteran (86 years old in this photograph), attends the dedication day parade for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.  He is holding the flag that covered the casket of his son, who was killed in the Korean War.

I Honor Back

You have seen the truth
And held your brother’s hand
You bled your way through dust and wind
In some strange and foreign land

Miles in the darkness
With courage by your side
You brought the battle to them
So we can sleep at night

You honored me
With your strength
With your faith
With your fearlessness and grace
And through it all you held the flag
You honored me
Now I honor back

How can I repay a priceless sacrifice?
‘Cause some something short of everything
Just wouldn’t seem polite

You honored me
With your strength
With your faith
With your fearlessness and grace
And through it all you held the flag
You honored me
Now I honor back

With a song
And hope that it might make you feel right
When you feel wrong
‘Cause you’re a hero
Even if sometimes it feels as if you’re gone

You honored me
With your strength
With your faith
With your fearlessness and grace
And through it all you held the flag
You honored me
Now I honor back

With all my heart
With all my love
And pray that it might be enough
So you will know I understand
You honored me
Now I honor back
You honored me
I honor back

Lyrics by Jon David Kahn

Every year on November 11, Veterans Day is celebrated in the USA. This public holiday is dedicated to countless men who fought for America in wars all over the world. 

The origin of this holiday dates back to November 11, 1918, when an armistice between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect. This day was regarded as the end of "the war to end all wars".

In November 1919, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words: "To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…"

Veterans Day is a celebration to honor America's veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.

You cannot thank them enough. Make every day Veterans Day.

Dominique Allmon

To listen to the song please click here


Happy Birthday US Marine Corps!



235 Years of Honor, Courage, and Commitment

Today, on November 10, United States Marine Corps celebrates its 235th birthday. On that day, in 1775 in Philadelphia, Captain Samuel Nicholas formed two battalions of Continental Marines. These battalions fought the British in the American Revolutionary War and were disbanded when the war ended in 1783.

The institution, however, was resurrected in 1798 and assigned to fight in a conflict with France. Since then, the mission of the Marine Corps has evolved with the changing military doctrine and the trends in American foreign policy.

In 1883, the Marines adopted a Latin motto “Semper Fidelis,” which means “always faithful.” The Marine Corps motto is known by most people in its the shortened form “Semper Fi.”

The Marine Corps has served in every American armed conflict and attained prominence in the 20th century when its theories and practices of amphibious warfare proved prescient and ultimately formed the cornerstone of the Pacific campaign of World War II.

By the mid-20th century, the Marine Corps had become the dominant theorist and practitioner of amphibious warfare. Its ability to rapidly respond on short notice to expeditionary crises gives it a strong role in the implementation and execution of American foreign policy.

Each year, on November 10th, Marines all over the world celebrate the birth of the Corps. Marines and their wives go to balls, with a formal cake-cutting ceremony and a solemn reading of Gen. John A. Lejeune’s birthday message, summarizing the history, mission, and traditions of the Marine Corps. The country is reminded of the valor, pride, and honor of the United States Marines. 

Today, the Marine Corps' values of honor, courage, and commitment remain as strong as ever and Marines deployed all over the world uphold these values as they sacrifice their lives every day to defend the freedom and the Country. The few. The proud. They fight so that the rest of us can sleep in peace.

Happy Birthday Brave Men! And Women!

P.S.

This high name of distinction and soldierly repute we who are Marines today have received from those who preceded us in the corps. With it we have also received from them the eternal spirit which has animated our corps from generation to generation and has been the distinguishing mark of the Marines in every age. So long as that spirit continues to flourish Marines will be found equal to every emergency in the future as they have been in the past, and the men of our Nation will regard us as worthy successors to the long line of illustrious men who have served as "Soldiers of the Sea" since the founding of the Corps. JOHN A. LEJEUNE, Major General Commandant

For more information about the US Marine Corps please click here 


         

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Yes, We Can't!

 
Pointing a finger in the wrong direction

"A man can fail many times, but he isn't a failure until he begins to blame somebody else." - John Burroughs

Now, after the mid-term elections President Obama recognizes that "leadership is not just legislation," and that "it's a matter of persuading people. And giving them confidence and bringing them together. And setting a tone. And making an argument that people can understand." It is unbelievable! The President blames his failure on the intellectual shortcomings of the electorate. If only he had communicated his ideas in such a way that the morons could get it right away! Well, Mr. President, they've got it all right and that's why they voted for the Tea Party candidates or the Republicans.

By Dominique Allmon

Image source here 

Monday, November 8, 2010

Immigrants - Out of Time and Place


Turkish women in Germany

"States have the right to regulate migration flows and to defend their own frontiers, always guaranteeing the respect due to the dignity of each and every human person. Immigrants, moreover, have the duty to integrate into the host country, respecting its laws and its national identity". - Pope Benedict XVI in a message for the coming 97th World Day of Migrants and Refugees, to be observed on January 16th, 2011

The German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced recently that the multicultural experiment in the German society failed to succeed. 

Unlike the United States, European countries are not the functioning well as the melting pots. The cultural and historical identities are clearly delineated.

And while most European countries welcomed foreign immigrants and refugees from all over the world, great number of the non-European foreigners failed to integrate into the European societies. This gave rise to frustration and the growing nationalistic sentiment all over Europe.

Muslim immigrants seem to be more resistant to integration than any other ethnic group living in Europe.

No one in Europe wishes to be accused of racism and bigotry, but the growing tension in Europe is becoming more and more visible and calls for a solution.

The head of Germany's center-left Social Democratic Party, Sigmar Gabriel, has told the German publication SPIEGEL ONLINE that the country should get tough on immigrants who are unwilling to learn the language and integrate. He says they should be supported, but that the government and society should also make demands.

The Germans seem to be divided on the subject. A controversial new book by Thilo Sarazin who is a member of the German Central Bank, has, on the one hand, generated opprobrium from the political elite, on the other, a mass following in the German society. He even found supporters among the immigrants who see integration as vital not only for the German society, but also for the development and prosperity of the immigrants themselves. Sarazin's choice of language may seem most unfortunate if not horrifying when viewed in the context of the German past, but the problems underlined by the author are real. He described problems with integration, which are indeed deplorable, but he introduced an element of biological determinism bringing back the infamous racial theories that were propagated by the Nazis. Yet the question Sarazin is asking is not without ground. He climes that the Turkish and Arab integration is a failure. People who do not want to learn the German language and are not interested in the German culture contribute little to the modern German society. Immigrants from countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan take advantage of the generous social welfare system without giving anything in return.

Growing crime rate, violence, terror threat and a complete lack of integration are also visible in other European countries, most importantly in France, the Netherlands and Great  Britain. As former colonial powers these countries took large number of immigrants from the former colonies and managed to create eclectic societies. However, the influx of immigrants continues and the new immigrants do not show any signs of integration or even willingness to adopt the cultural standards of their new home countries. Instead, they demand concessions that make the natives uncomfortable or angry.

The problem in Europe is very complex and solution seems almost impossible. There is very little upward mobility among the immigrants. Many remain poor, forever dependent on the social welfare systems. The negative image of some ethnic groups makes them vulnerable to discrimination. Yet people cannot be forced to learn the language and without the language fluency their chances of success diminish. Without education better jobs will remain elusive and so will the prosperity.

By Dominique Allmon ©2010

Source of the quote here
Image source here

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Hereafter - Clint Eastwood's New Movie

 

The Eternally Boring Hereafter

By Michael Shermer

After a string of highly successful and critically acclaimed films by Clint Eastwood (Million Dollar Baby, Gran Torino, Invictus, Flags of Our Fathers, Letters from Iwo Jima), I fully expected his latest, Hereafter, to be so well written (screenplay by Peter Morgan) and so compelling that stories about near-death experiences would skyrocket and that I would be preoccupied for months dealing with media inquiries about “true stories” of the hereafter. Alas, and with some relief, this will not happen as Hereafter is possibly the worst film Eastwood has ever directed. 

If the hereafter is anything like its filmic namesake, then it will turn out to be glacially slow, eternally boring, and pointless, with seemingly random plot lines aimlessly wandering about the ethereal landscape. I wanted to like this film, despite my skepticism on its subject, because I like Clint Eastwood productions and I’m a sucker for a well-produced story, able and willing to suspend disbelief long enough to get emotionally involved. I tried but failed to do so with this film. It’s a bomb. Don’t bother to see it in the theaters, and don’t even waste a couple of bucks on a Netflix rental.  

The only redeeming part of the film was the striking opening scene of the tsunami in Southeast Asia that sets the background for the first plot line. An attractive French reporter leaves her lover in their hotel room to go shopping for his kids among the street vendors below. When he hears a disturbing sound and looks out the window he sees the ocean receding, followed by a massive body of water rushing back in to the shore and slamming into buildings and leveling everything in its path. From the woman’s street level view tucked in among buildings she can only see trees felling and chaos approaching with only enough time to realize that there is no time to do anything about it. She is swept up in the tsunami’s leading edge and slammed about cars, building debris, trees, and the like, until she is whacked on the head unconscious. Cut to minutes later when she is being given mouth-to-mouth resuscitation by rescuers, to no avail. They give up and move on to the next victim, whereupon she comes to life, after a brief encounter with the hereafter, which Eastwood portrays as a fuzzy, nebulous place with people walking about aimlessly. It’s a portent of things to come.

The second plot line is Matt Damon’s psychic character George, a former psychic who gave up fame and riches because his “gift” is also a curse. A cross between James Van Praagh and John Edward, George concedes to a reading for a client of his sleazy brother (Jay Mohr) and scores several hits. The brother encourages George to quit his job at a San Francisco dock and return to the psychic world, but he will have none of it as it’s just too emotionally traumatic to read people’s inner thoughts (that much I suspect is true, if any of it were true, which it isn’t). Matt Damon’s love interest is the beautiful Bryce Dallas Howard, whom he meets at a cooking class, but after nearly an hour’s worth of romantic buildup to some sort of coming together, she departs the film for good after George reads her and conveys the message that her deceased father is sorry for the naughty things he did to her as a young girl. 

The third plot line develops around 12-year old twins named Marcus and Jason, who live with their drug-addicted mother in London, England. Jason is hit by a car and killed, leaving Marcus to wander about the city in search of a psychic who can connect him to his brother. Here at least Eastwood had the good sense to depict what most psychics are like - scammers and flimflam artists conning their marks out of a few bucks by talking twaddle with the dead through standard cold-reading techniques. Marcus is dismayed by the idiocy of these pretenders and finally returns to the foster home where he struggles to keep his sanity.

For an hour and forty-five minutes all three of these plot lines run parallel, leaving audience members to wonder when - oh please when?! - will they finally be brought together. Finally, after what feels like an interminable marathon of tedium, George quits his job and takes a vacation in London to visit the home of his favorite author, Charles Dickens. While there he notices a flyer for a lecture about Dickens at a book fair in London, where, per chance, the French reporter is doing a signing for her new book on life after death, which she was inspired to write after an hour and a half of futzing around with her mundane reporter’s job distracted by her experience with the hereafter in the tsunami. By chance, little Marcus finds himself drawn to the book fair where he recognizes George from his web page photos, and begs him for a reading, which he finally gets. Naturally, George is better than those phony psychics, and Marcus encourages George to seek out the French woman so that they may all connect to the dead. George and Marie find a love connection as well and the story ends happily ever after.

Never have I been so relieved for a movie to end. There was one memorable moment, however, and that was the opening line of the opening trailer before Hereafter even started. The trailer was for a January 2011 release called The Rite, staring Anthony Hopkins as an American priest who travels to Italy to study at an exorcism school. (You can watch the trailer here). The line that rather caught my attention as I was settling into my seat, was, “You know the interesting thing about skeptics?” To which I blurted out “No, what?” The answer: “It’s that we’re always looking for proof. The question is, What on earth would we do with it if we found it?” I know what I do with proof when I find it. I publish it! Another character in the trailer then says “I believe people prefer to lie to themselves than face the truth.” 

Here, then, in this trailer is the message for belief in the hereafter. If there were proof of it, we would publish it to the high heavens. But, since there isn’t, most people prefer to lie to themselves about it rather than face the truth that it is what we do in this life that counts.

Article source here 
Image source unknown

Thursday, November 4, 2010

How To Prepare Your Immune System For The Winter

 

Foods and supplements to boost immune system

For those of us living in the northern latitudes winter may be a very challenging season. With lower outside temperatures we may experience colds and flu as well as other unpleasant illnesses and symptoms.

There is, however, a way to protect yourself from infections. You simply have to boost your immune system and implement a few simple strategies that will help you stay fit and healthy during the winter months.

By preparing your immune system for winter and strengthening your immune response, you will be able to pass through the cold season without an infection and if you catch a cold, your symptoms will be less severe and you will recover much faster.

Your immune system acts like a protective shield that thwarts harmful pathogens from attacking your organism. In contact with pathogens a series of reactions are taking place within your body. Cells, organs and tissues of your immune system are mobilized to disable the pathogens. The symptoms you may experience (fever, for instance), although very unpleasant, are the signs of a well functioning immune system. Using medication to suppress these symptoms will only weaken your immune system. Instead, you should support your immune system with herbs and natural remedies, get enough rest, and let your body recover from infection all by yourself. You may want to take natural supplements to ease your symptoms, but as the common wisdom goes, it takes a week to cure the cold with drugs, but only seven days to recover without them.

In order for your immune system to function properly, you need to support it with proper nutrition, nutritional supplements and herbs. It is important that you eat more fresh fruit and vegetables (preferably organic) that are rich in vitamins, esp. vitamin C, and minerals, esp. zinc. Zinc may be the most important micro nutrient for your immune system. It is needed for the stimulation of the white blood cells that are important elements of your defense system. People who are deficient in zinc are more susceptible to infections. Zinc works in synergy with vitamin C and in order to be effective in your body it must be taken with its co-factor amino acid Histidine. Taken alone, zinc may be ineffective as the foods you eat interfere with its absorption, especially when you are a vegetarian. The recommended dose is 15 mg per day with up to 1000 mg vitamin C and 100-500 mg Histidine. The other important vitamin for the immune system is the vitamin D3 which works in the body as a potent antibiotic. Vitamin D3 helps the body to increase the production of body's own antimicrobial peptides. The body uses these peptides to destroy pathogenic organisms, including the influenza virus. The suggested dose is 2,000 IU. Another very effective supplement is the polysaccharide beta glucan. The insoluble beta glucans 1,3 and 1,6 derived from medicinal mushrooms and from yeast are very effective immune system modulators and do not overstimulate the immune system. There is no established daily dose of beta glucan, but manufacturers suggest 500-1,000 mg as an effective dose for the enhancement of the immune system.

The Nature supplied us with very effective herbs and power foods that have the ability to boost the immune system and help us stay healthy during winter. They have unique immune enhancing properties and can be used in many different situations to support our overall immune response. They are time tested in many cultures and can be purchased in form of capsules, teas or tinctures in any health food store or pharmacy. Some can simply be used as foods and may be used to enhance your winter cooking.

Here is a list of my favorite winter remedies. You may already know most of them. Or maybe you wish to try something new this winter:
  • andrographis
  • astragalus
  • chamomile
  • colostrum
  • eleutherococus
  • elderberry
  • echinacea purpura
  • garlic
  • onions
  • ginger
  • hot peppers
  • honey
  • lime flowers
  • propolis
  • royal jelly
  • rose hips
  • seabuckthorn
  • medicinal mushrooms, such as reishi, maitake and shiitake
  • essential oils of cinnamon, thyme, mint and lavender
The list does not end here. These are, however, the best known and most widely used and time tested winter remedies. Some of them are to be taken as tinctures or infusions, as pills or capsules, others are simply added to your daily meals, or used in aromatherapy and for inhalations to clear the sinus congestion. They all have strong anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties and are known to activate and support the immune system. Chose the ones you feel comfortable with and take them systematically to build up your immune system.

If you catch your first cold, remember to never ever take antibiotics. Antibiotics are designed to kill bacteria not viruses, but common cold and flu are caused by viruses that are unresponsive to antibiotic treatment. There are about 200 different viruses that cause the flu symptoms!

Antibiotics will only weaken your immune system as they destroy the flora in the small intestine which is the seat of the immune system in the body. You will only end up in a vicious cycle. Instead, take a concentrated action to boost the activity of your immune system. Do not wait for the symptoms to fully develop to a flu. Take time to heal your infection, rest and relax as much as you can. Sleep is vital as our immune system recovers during the night.

In addition you may want to implement some lifestyle changes during the winter:
  • Wash your hands as often as you can, especially when you come home from work.
  • Avoid sick people.
  • Dress up for winter - keep you body warm, especially your hands and feet.
  • Keep your blood circulating! The idea of taking alternate warm and cold showers in the morning may sound outrageous, but you will soon notice that your body feels warm even in the coldest weather. Use ginger and hot peppers to spice your meals and drink spiced chai instead of ice tea.
  • Reduce the consumption of mucus producing foods such as diary and white bread.
  • Exercise moderately and spend some time outside.
  • Eat fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Supplement with best possible immune supporting products.
  • Take high quality multivitamin and bio-available minerals formula.
  • Rest, relax and pamper yourself.
  • Get enough sleep. Remember that your immune system recovers during the night.
  • Reduce your caffeine and alcohol consumption, and if you smoke, stop smoking as this habit deprives your body of the vitamin C which is so important to your immune system.
  • Take precautions not to pass your infection on to others.
Preparing your immune system for winter and implementing a few simple strategies will help you enjoy the beauty of this season and pass through it without infection.
 

Take time to relax and contemplate the changes in nature. And no matter how cold and dark it may be outside, always let the sun shine from the inside out.

By Dominique Allmon

*This information is for educational purpose only. It is not meant to diagnose or cure a disease.


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How to Prepare Your Immune System for the Winter by Dominique Allmon is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Republicans Take Control of the House of Representatives

 
 Tea Party's Marco Rubio wins in Florida

We, the people... 

What a night! Congratulations to all who won the race! But before the winners congratulate themselves on their victories, they should seriously reflect on the elections' results and why they were elected. Victory carries enormous responsibility. It is time to pull up the sleeves and start implementing what was promised during the electoral campaign. 

As predicted, the GOP will take the control of the House and John A. Boehner is most likely to become the next Speaker. Congratulations, John! 

Republicans gained sixty seats in the House of Representatives. That makes it the biggest upheaval in the House since 1948, exceeding even the Republican victory of 1994. 

Only few weeks earlier President Obama said: "We don't mind the Republicans joining us. They can come for the ride, but they gotta sit in back." What an irony, Mr. President.

Although the Republican party gained some seats in the Senate, it failed to secure majority. At the moment there are still some senatorial races to be decided. In Washington State Dino Rossi (R) and Patty Murray (D) stand at 50 percent each after about 65 percent votes have been counted. It may take few more days to count all the votes there.

In Alaska Lisa Murkowski is most likely to keep her seat, now as the independent candidate. John McCain won re-election in Arizona. Tea Party candidates did quite well: Rand Paul took Kentucky, Marco Rubio took Florida, Mike Lee won in Utah. They will be joining Jim DeMint who secured his victory in South Carolina. Pat Toomey won in Pennsylvania, but unfortunately, Sharron Angle lost in Nevada and Ken Buck in Colorado. The victory of the Democrat Chris Coons in Delaware was more than certain. Sorry, Miss O'Donnell.

Republicans won at least ten gubernatorial races. The most significant victory is probably that of John Kasich, who took Ohio from the Democrat Ted Strickland and could give the Republicans a 2012 campaigning advantage in this perennial swing state.

Susan Martinez won in New Mexico and became the first Hispanic female governor of her state. Jan Brewer was re-elected in Arizona. Meg Whitman who financed her campaign with $140 million of her own money, lost in California. In New York Palladino lost to Andrew Cuomo.

The results of the elections reflect the overall political mood of the electorate. The American people have decided. It is time for change. It is time for a genuine bi-partisanship. It is time to shrink the government and reduce the spending. It is time to reduce deficit. It is time to restructure the economy and restore America's standing as the most amazing country under the sun.

The President has no choice, but to work with the Republicans. He blames the Republicans for the disastrous state of the American economy forgetting that his Republican predecessor had to work with the Democrats and that his own policies aggravated the situation. He now finds himself with the Republican majority in the House, just like Bill Clinton in 1994. Clinton's success depended on the Republican majority. His approval ratings went up after the Republicans won the mid-term elections. He was re-elected to a second term partly because his opponent was too feeble, partly because the Republicans finally made the things work.

"We hope President Obama will now respect the will of the people, change course and commit to making changes that they are demanding. To the extent he is willing to do that, we're ready to work with him." - John A. Boehner

President Obama could learn something from Bill Clinton. Maybe now he begins to understand that the Republicans are not his enemies. They are concerned Americans willing to work hard for their country and the people who voted for them.

By Dominique Allmon

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

US Mid-Term Elections Today! Every Vote Counts!

 

Every country has the government it deserves.
Joseph de Maistre 

Today, on November 2, 2010, the American people will decide who is going to govern them for the next four years. All 435 seats in the House of Representatives and 37 out of 100 seats in the US Senate are being contested in this general election. In addition, 38 states will elect their governors to a four-year term.

The chances for the Republican takeover of Congress are growing with a dwindling support for President Obama and the Democratic Party. The American people have a chance to express their dissatisfaction with the Government. Growing unemployment, slow economic growth, exorbitant national debt, and the insecurity about the 2011 taxes, drive even those who voted for Obama into the opposite camp. 

After two years in Office, instead of acknowledging that the country is moving in the wrong direction and that his program failed, President Obama shows little leaderships and blames the Republicans for the current situation. He not only blames his Republican predecessor. He blames the Republican minority for obstructing his vision with their short-sightedness. 

President Obama who spent the last few weeks campaigning for the Democratic candidates in various states, now calls the opposition "our enemies". Such verbiage is rather shocking and quite unpresidential. And although he is not on the ballot, his agenda is.
Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word, equality. But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude.  - Alexis de Tocqueville
Exercise your right to vote today. Cast your vote wisely. Vote for America and the  American core values. And remember to remind your friends to vote. Best, take them with you. Every vote counts!

By Dominique Allmon 

“I probably should have used the word ‘opponents’ instead of ‘enemies’ to describe political adversaries” - President Obama, November 1st. 

"Probably" Mr. President?

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Joy Diet For the Winter



 Or How to Improve Your Mood With Nutrition

It usually begins in November when the days are getting shorter and seem to be filled only with work. By the time we finish our workday, the day is almost over. It is dark and cold outside and our moods may swing a bit. And while some people seem to be emotionally resistant to the changes in the outside world or even enjoy the season, others may get affected and feel sullen most of the time.

Winter depression, also known as the Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD, is a disorder that affects normally mentally healthy people during the winter months. It typically occurs in the Northern hemisphere and women are more often affected than men. The serious mood changes that set in with the change of seasons are recurrent and usually last from November until March or April. Most sufferers have a weakened immune system and are more susceptible to winter infections. The SAD symptoms include: 
  • mood swings
  • depressed mood
  • lack of energy
  • lethargy
  • decreased concentration and memory function
  • withdrawal
  • cravings for sweet and starchy foods that might eventually result in weight gain
  • increased need for sleep and difficulty to wake up in the morning and start the day
  • decreased libido
  • irritability
  • in some severe cases, suicidal tendencies. 
These symptoms are very much the same as the symptoms of clinical depression and some people with SAD may even require hospitalization.

Typical treatment of SAD normally includes bright light therapy, medication with antidepressants, supplementation with melatonin and Vitamin D, and behavioral therapy.

The reasons for SAD are still widely disputed. Some researchers postulate the serotonin connection. Serotonin which is considered to be the mood neurotransmitter, reaches its lowest levels in the brain during the winter months and women are more affected by its fluctuation than men. Serotonin affects sleep pattern, appetite, and metabolism. The imbalances of serotonin can be easily corrected with nutrition and nutritional supplements. Serotonin is synthesized in the body from the essential amino acid tryptophan. Diet rich in tryptophan helps to maintain high levels of serotonin. Protein-containing foods such as turkey, chicken, fish, cottage cheese, bananas and wheatgerm, are rich in tryptophan and should be consumed on daily basis. You can also supplement your diet with L-Tryptophan or 5-HTP which is a precursor to tryptophan. It is important to remember that 5-HTP should not be taken together with Vitamin B6 as it might convert into serotonin before it crosses the blood-brain barrier. There should be about six hours time interval between ingestion of these two supplements. 5-HTP is best taken on empty stomach about 30 minutes before bedtime.

The bright light therapy is successfully used in countries like Canada and Finland. Exposure to light activates the production of Vitamin D in the body. Research shows that there is a connection between depression and the levels of Vitamin D in patient's blood. Vitamin D may help alleviate depression not only in patients with the SAD, but those suffering from clinical depression as well. Vitamin D, best taken in form of cholecalciferol or Vitamin D3, can be used safely in higher doses. It is recommended to take 3,500 to 7,000 IU per day. Intensive exposure to sun during the summer months results in blood levels of Vitamin D equivalent to those produced by the daily supplementation with 10,000 IU. The dose of supplemental Vitamin D can be reduced if fatty salt water fish is consumed on regular bases. Cod liver oil is probably the richest source of Vitamin D. One hundred grams provide about 10,000 IU of Vitamin D. In addition, cod liver oil contains very high level of Vitamin A as well as omega-3 essential fatty acids. The idea of consuming large amounts of cod liver oil may not sound like much fun, but there are excellent supplements on the market made from high quality fermented cod liver oil. Lacto-fermentation makes the nutrients in cod liver oil more bio-available.

Oily salt water fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, and herring, is the best source of omega-3 essential fatty acids. It is proven that nutrition rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids effectively enhances mood and alleviates depression. People who are deficient in omega-3 essential fatty acids, especially EPA, are more likely to experience mood swings and depression. Eat fish three to four times a week or take 1000 to 2000mg omega-3 fish oil in a capsule form. Look for products of highest purity that are hexane-free.

We normally tend to eat more fruits and vegetables during summer, but there is no reason why you should not eat them during the winter. On the contrary. Putting more fresh raw fruits and vegetables on your plate will help you maintain high energy levels and deliver vitamins and minerals that your body need to function optimally. The cold season offers a multitude of colorful fruits and vegetables. Try beets, cabbages, pumpkin, pomegranate, persimmons, and citrus. Add nuts to your diet, especially walnuts and almonds. Supplement with high quality multivitamin to make sure that you are getting enough vitamins of the B group. Pantothenic acid (Vitamin B5), Pyridoxine (Vitamin B6), Cyanocobalamin (B12), and Folate (B9) are all very important when you want to enhance your mood. Additional supplementation with Vitamin C does not only strengthen the immune system, but it may also help balance the mood. Studies demonstrated that low levels of Vitamin C in the cerebrospinal fluid adversely affect brain function and mood.

Chocolate is considered to be a pleasure-giving food. It contains a compound called phenylethylamine (PEA). Phenylethylamine is chemically related to amphetamine. It tends to rise the blood pressure and increase the secretion of endorphins. This gives a feeling of alertness and contentment. Research demonstrated that phenylethylamine acts as fast as amphetamine. The dose, however, does not have to be increased continually as it does not produce tolerance. Phenylethylamine helps to elevate mood and brings relief to even very depressed people. Additionally, the pleasant smell, taste, and texture of chocolate may help release additional endorphins in the brain. When buying chocolate, choose the one with the highest level of cocoa and very little sugar. There are products on the market made of raw cocoa. Some may contain as much as 85 - 99 per cent cocoa. Remember that chocolate also contains the stimulating caffeine which may cause agitation.

If you suffer from SAD or mood swings, it is vital that you keep your blood sugar levels well balanced. Do not skip meals and avoid stimulants such as coffee and other caffeine containing drinks. Eliminate as much sugar from your diet as you possibly can. To curb the sugar craving take up to 600 µg chromium polynicotinate daily. This will help you feel more energetic.

Spend some active time outdoors and enjoy the occasional sunny day. Exercise regularly and take time to relax and pamper yourself. And no matter what, next Spring is only a few months away.

By Dominique Allmon

*This information is for educational purpose only and it is not meant to diagnose or cure a disease. Please, consult your health care provider before commencing self-medication.

    

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