President Obama speaks regularly about how the United States government should encourage the development and deployment of clean technology to reduce our dependence on oil, especially the oil imported from countries that hate us. I couldn’t agree more. The problem is, though, that no matter who sits in the White House, there are thousands of nameless unaccountable career bureaucrats who arbitrarily stonewall the development of the very resources that the President himself is promoting. That stonewalling costs probably billions and kills off fledgling clean technology innovators. Read the rest of this entry

If you watch cooking shows, browse bookstores or stand in the checkout line at grocery stores, you most likely know of celebrity chef Paula Deen. Dubbed as “The Butter Queen,” Deen is known for her southern charm and her southern (high fat, high sugar) recipes; she has been a Food Network staple for nine years, starring in her own cooking show, “Paula’s Home Cooking,” showcasing stick-to-your-gullet, down home southern comfort recipes.
Deen has announced that she has had Type 2 Diabetes for three years. Normally, how a person deals with his or her health issues is a personal matter, but when the health issue involves a public figure whose empire was built on the very foods that factored into her illness, then it’s a different story. Her diabetes announcement coincided with another, even more surprising announcement: she will now be the official (paid) spokesperson for the diabetes medication Novo Nordisk.

Deen’s endorsement of a diabetes drug only reinforces the already-engrained American mindset that we can eat however we want – no matter how unhealthy and no matter how much – as long as there is a pill that we can take to alleviate some of the damage.

Why is it so hard to take a preemptive approach and simply employ common sense and moderation when it comes to our food lifestyle? Type 2 Diabetes is a chronic disease that can be avoided or at the very least managed with factors that are in our own (and not the pharmaceutical industry’s) hands. Although anyone can get Type 2 Diabetes, the first factor is most often listed as being overweight or obese.
 
In addition to promoting the diabetes drug, Deen is also promoting – on a new website entitled “diabetes in a new light”- southern style dishes that are on the “lighter” side, more exercise, less stress and more doctor/patient partnering to manage the disease.   The publicm and her fellow TV star-chefs, are not buying it.  The Huffington Post continues to publish stories about the continuing backlash: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/23/paula-deen-diabetes-announcement-celebrity-chefs-support_n_1224454.html

Although the media frenzy surrounding Deen’s declaration is focused on adults with the chronic disease, there is another disconcerting and alarming population that needs our attention: children.  Although just a few years ago it was rare to hear of a child with Type 2 Diabetes (formerly known as Adult Onset Diabetes,) those numbers along with our children’s average weight- are steadily increasing.  This is a very serious problem across the country, and especially so in Houston where it is estimated that 28% of fourth graders, 16.7% of adolescents, 15-18 years of age, and 29.1% of adults are obese. 

With this generation’s fast-paced lifestyle, families are eating out more and exercising less, paying more attention to the immediacy of food than to its present and future impact on health. Isn’t it about time we started?

What’s Really Wrong with the US Economy

Listening to the pundits and politicians, you would think that national debt and government spending were the real problem with our economy.  That’s actually not true.  What is true is that the US has been reducing its manufacturing capacity, thus jobs, for 5 decades, far before this latest financial meltdown, and before the President, who is being blamed, was even born.  Our GDP has moved from hard assets to financial services and non-manufacturing revenues, with disastrous results to jobs, wages, and the middle class.  Yesterday, The New York Times had two graphs that summarized our manufacturing decline, compared to China’s exponential growth in this sector.  Here they are:

New York Times

Finally Headed for Vermont

As many of you know, I’ve been working in the Denver area for the last year, requiring that I spend the vast majority of my time here.  Being away from our home in Vermont this week has been especially painful, as I have followed all the events in Woodstock by video and digital communication with Miss Gracie, who is marooned there with no water and spotty electricity.   Today, I’m finally headed to Vermont for a few days to see the damage for myself and lend a hand where I can.  Over the Labor Day weekend, I’ll be reporting on the progress of recovery from the damage caused by Irene in Woodstock and the surrounding area.  Read the rest of this entry

I spoke at the last Bioneers conference in New Bedford, Massachusetts, talking about the Deepwater Horizon blowout and the lessons we didn’t learn from that catastrophe.  The Marion Institute, which holds the conference, recently put up a video of an interview that I gave when I was there.  The subject is still timely, in my view.  Have a look:

 

 

Even though I’m currently stranded in Denver, I’ve been on Facetime with my wife, Gracie, who’s at our home in Woodstock, Vermont, riding out what’s left of Hurricane Irene as it continues its journey north through New England. While everyone down south is celebrating the lack of damage, New England is dealing with rainfall that it’s simply not equipped to handle.  Gracie has been sending me videos and pictures from our windows and nearby our house.

We have been watching flooding in houses built in the early 1800’s, which is tragic, but the scary thing has been the flooding of the local propane company facility, which has turned loose dozens of huge propane tanks, all floating down the river, releasing propane into the air as they float.  Read the rest of this entry

Are We The People Ready for Hurricane Irene?

At this hour, rain bands are coming ashore at Nags Head, North Carolina.  The main body of the storm is expected ashore between 2 and 6 am eastern time.  This massive storm is then forecast to run north up the East Coast of the US, crossing Washington, DC, Delaware, New York and Philadelphia, then up into New England and back into the Atlantic over the Maritime Provinces of Canada.  I’ve kept the television on all day with one eye on the the stock market and the other on hurricane coverage.  The weather coverage, at least on NBC, has been very good (compared to past storms) without most of the silly hyperbole and running around trying to find some wind to stand in for a breathless on-scene report.

My big concern, though, is, are we prepared for a storm that could disrupt the lives of some 65 million Americans?  Can we respond as a society to this kind of threat? Read the rest of this entry

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