Watering Hole: Tuesday January 28, 2014 Open Thread – Longevity and the influences of culture, social networks and reclaiming personal fulfillment.

In my last job I was tasked with developing a wellness culture at a continuing care retirement community. The impetus actually came from my interview when I blindly asked if the organization was familiar with the work of Dan Buettner who orchestrated a vitality project in Albert Lea, Minnesota based up his work interpreting the longevity studies of the National Geographic Society. Geographers dubbed identified five longevity pockets around the world as ‘Blue Zones’, where places had centenarians at rates ten to thirty times the average US city. Interestingly, with the exception of one, these places had average monthly incomes of $500 to $800 USD. That lone exception was Loma Linda California. The other places identified were: Ikaria, Greece; Nicoya, Costa Rica ; Okinawa, Japan ; and  Sardinia, Italy . These five distinct cultures had commonalities that could be applied to longevity throughout the world. The top four are: Eat Wisely, Move (exert) Naturally (daily), Possess a daily Sense of Purpose, and Connect with your Community. Buettner eventually published a book, Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who’ve Lived the Longest. You can even guestimate your own longevity from his Vitality Compass on the Bluezones web site. And believe it or not, he is one of the few wellness gurus who is not trying to sell you something.

All of these were tied to culture in some way. The foods available to these folks were primarily beans, fresh vegetables, and fresh fruits. Meat was a rarity in most of these societies often used as a condiment as opposed to a primary protein source. Loma Linda made the list because of the predominance of Seventh Day Adventists (most of whom are exclusively vegetarian). Natural movement involves primarily employment, where folks in Sardinia were often shepherds, walking five or more miles a day to tend the flock. All the societies engaged in gardening or small plot farming. Dancing, swimming, and other physical rituals accounted for the ‘move naturally daily’ regimen. Outside of Loma Linda, there was no word for ‘retirement’ in these cultures. That meant occupation was a life-long experience, and hence a purpose on hand regardless of age. Connecting with community involved friend networks, checking up on others, and participating in religious or community activities.

Applying these concepts to our own lives here in the US has interesting complications. We are a society inundated with food choices (mostly bad), occupation is often viewed a necessary and not a choice of fulfillment or purpose, are overworked at desk jobs with little time or inclination for exercise, and live in a sprawling set of suburbs outside of large cities where neighbors hardly speak to each other. You actually have to make very conscious decisions to apply these longevity principals to your own life. Most people scantly give any of this any thought, hence the famous quote about most people living lives of quiet desperation.

Open Thread

Music Night: We no speak Americano

English is the global language of commerce these days, and has dominated cultures in this country and other parts of the world for quite some time. But music is a language without borders, and fighting to survive in places like the backwaters of Louisiana and Acadia in the Maritime Provinces. The theme tonight is music of other languages. Our first guest, Clifton Chenier.

Portland’s Pink Martini is a fabulous ensemble and China Forbes is a most talented songstress in many languages, including Portuguese, Neapolitan accented Italian, and this one in Spanish. You go girl.

Sunday Roast: How do conservatives and liberals see the world?

Bill Moyers has a fascinating conversation with social psychologist Jonathan Haidt, in which they talk about the different ways liberals and conservatives see the world.

We’re right, and they’re wrong.  Right?

Bill and social psychologist Jonathan Haidt talk about the psychological underpinnings of our contentious culture, why we can’t trust our own opinions, and the demonizing of our adversaries.

“When it gets so that your opponents are not just people you disagree with, but… the mental state in which I am fighting for good, and you are fighting for evil, it’s very difficult to compromise,” Haidt tells Moyers. “Compromise becomes a dirty word.”

Personally, I think the cons have made “compromise” into a dirty word, but that might qualify as “demonizing.”

You can test your moral foundations here, and take a comprehensive criminal justice survey here.

Watch the whole program, it’s well worth an hour of your time.  In the last ten minutes, Bill delivers a Moyers-style royal smackdown to Newt Gingrich, on his vicious demonization of Saul Alinsky.

This is our daily open thread — Discuss!

Watering Hole: Monday, December 12, 2011 – A Creation Story

The fundamentalist Christians want creationism taught in school.  Now, I don’t have a problem teaching their story of creation as long as it is not part of a science class because creationism isn’t science.  If creationism is part of a social studies curriculum along with other stories of creation, than I feel it is perfectly fine to teach it.  Most cultures have stories about how it all began.  Here’s one that I would like to share.

The Native Americans of the Northwest give power to animals, especially to Raven.  No, this is not our Raven but Raven who brought the sun, the stars, and the moon to our dark planet.

No one knows just how the story of Raven really begins, so each starts from the point where he does know it. Here it was always begun in this way. Raven was first called Kit-ka’ositiyi-qa-yit (“Son of Kit-ka’ositiyi-qa”). When his son was born, Kit-ka’ositiyi-qa tried to instruct him and train him in every way and, after he grew up, told him he would give him strength to make a world. After trying in all sorts of ways, Raven finally succeeded. Then there was no light in this world, but it was told him that far up the Nass was a large house in which some one kept light just for himself.

Raven thought over all kinds of plans for getting this light into the world and finally he hit on a good one. The rich man living there had a daughter, and he thought, “I will make myself very small and drop into the water in the form of a small piece of dirt.” The girl swallowed this dirt and became pregnant. When her time was completed, they made a hole for her, as was customary, in which she was to bring forth, and lined it with rich furs of all sorts. But the child did not wish to be born on those fine things. Then its grandfather felt sad and said, “What do you think it would be best to put into that hole? Shall we put in moss?” So they put moss inside and the baby was born on it. Its eyes were very bright and moved around rapidly.

What I find interesting in this story is the “virgin birth” of Raven.  The story goes on to tell how Raven, the beloved grandson cons the rich man into giving him the boxes that hold the sun, the stars and the moon.  Once Raven has possession of these boxes, he opens them and releases the light into the sky and our planet is no longer in darkness.  You can read the complete story here.

Sometimes Raven sounds like a scoundrel and at other times, he does what is needed to be done.  To the Tlingit, there is no good and there is no evil.  It is just the way it is.

This is our Open Thread.  Speak Up and tell it like it is.

Breaking News: New York State’s Marriage Equality Act – Almost There? PASSED!

Tonight, the New York State Senate passed the religious exemptions amendment to Governor Cuomo’s Marriage Equality Act, 36-26. This is an exciting and important step forward, bringing the MEA much closer to becoming a reality.

State Senator Steve Saland (R-Poughkeepsie) made the all-important move from undecided to ‘Yes’.

Watch the live feed from the New York State Senate here, as Senator Saland is going to speak shortly.

Also, Rachel Maddow is covering this live.

10:30pm UPDATE!!! By a vote of 33-29, the New York State Senate becomes the first Republican-controlled legislative body to pass a Marriage Equality Bill.

“Calloo, Callay, O Frabjous Day!

From the desk of Hoodathunk: Just Add Water

Story Time

Many years ago one had to put water in a pan, wait for it to boil and then add rolled oats.  After stirring for a bit (I’m not quite old enough to remember how long it took) you would get oatmeal.  Then Quaker came along with Quick Quaker Oats.  Essentially the same preliminaries, they just cooked in a couple of minutes.  Then, thanks to NASA, the microwave was born and

making oatmeal could be done in a single bowl in about two minutes.  And oatmeal is only the tip of the iceberg.  Since the 60’s the US has been hell bent on bringing K rations to the American table in the name of saving time.  It certainly can’t be because veterans so loved the things that they missed them.

Seriously, it was the birth of the movement to make Americans slaves to time.  They have slowly but surely sold the idea that we need to pack as much as we can into every waking moment, efficiently using every second to maximize our return on our time investment.  Work, where this greedy monster was born, obviously led the way.  We can thank ole Henry Ford for that one.  While this concept has some very valid and useful points, the problem came when it became the sole reason, the dictator of business operation — maximized throughout with the enhanced bottom line.  Yeah, baby, that will make your business thrive, providing management also takes into consideration the fact that the people who do the work are not just another piece of machinery.

That is the part that has been taken out of the equation over the past 30 years:  People are not machines.  Nor do machines totally run themselves.  Nor can machines do everything.  The respect for the efforts of labor has been degraded to the point where it is treated like a commodity.  If you don’t like working here, you can and will be replaced.  And with the population rising and the number of jobs falling it is true.  Someone can always be found who is so desperate for a job that they are willing to do just about anything to put food on the table. Continue reading