Saturday, December 31, 2005

Will Podcasting Destroy Radio?

I think it's possible that the podcasting phenomenon might damage or destroy the radio business. Radio will still exist, but in a crippled state.

When you think about it, radio is pretty crippled right now. It is in the last throes (thank you, Dick Cheney!) of a slow demise. The massive consolidation that has happened with Clear Channel, Cumulus and Infinity scooping up so many radio stations across the country and homogenizing them to the point of absurdity.

George Carlin put it best, when he said ---

  • "Please. Save me from people who've been told what to like and then like it. In my opinion, if you're over six years of age, and you're still getting your music from the radio, something is desperately wrong with you. I can only hope that somehow MP3 players and file sharing will destroy FM radio the way they're destroying record companies. Then, even though the air will probably never be safe to breathe again, maybe it will be safer to listen to."

Thursday, December 29, 2005

What is a Squidoo?

I've started a "Squidoo," a new type of Web page. Please visit my site and add your own, with your own expertise.

My Squidoo, of course, is the "Buyer's Guide to Holistic Healthcare."

Very Vegan

A great local vegan chef has started a blog - and he's giving out recipes! Check it out.

The Podcasting Advertising Model

Adam Curry gave us a sneak peak at the ideas that are being kicked around to change advertising in the same way he's reinvented radio.

Here are the highlights:
    Advertisers audition to be on a particular podcast. They "bid" to show that they are the most relevant, and willing to pay the most.
  • Not use the the CPM (cost per thousand) model used today by legacy radio stations.

  • User-created ads that the company pays for. For instance, a person who uses Apple laptops and loves them, creates an ad for Apple, the podcasters play this ad, and Apple pays each time it is used (assuming it approves of the content, of course).

  • The podcasters work more closely with the creative staff of ad agencies, rather than staying outside the process.

  • The relationship between the podcast and its highly-focused audiences is extremely valuable, and advertisers should pay for the level of focus as well as the number of listeners.

  • Anyone is able to advertise, big companies and small, on whatever podcasts make sense (are relevant), and pass the audition, of course. :-)

  • Podcasters and audiences decide which ads are most relevant, a process that slowly weed out the annoying ads, annoying because they don't fit the audience.

I think this is a great start. What innovative ideas! Keep it up, Adam. I'm ready to see what you're going to create.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Dream Journaling

I've begun journaling my dreams again. I've filled several books over the years, but I hadn't done it since the late 1990s.

I'm hoping that it leads me to some insights into my life. I'm also starting meditating. I guess it's the time for resolutions. Who'd a thought?

This is yet another result of reading the Edgar Cayce book. I'm up to the dream chapter.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

The Simplest Remedy for Insomnia

I have the feeling that a medical practitioner should prescribe things in order from the safest, cheapest effective remedy FIRST, then move on to the more expensive, more dangerous remedies later if the first ones don't work.

For instance, with insomnia, there is a great remedy that everyone should try first. It's free and requires no training, and is perfectly safe.

Read to them. Read a book to them while they are trying to fall asleep.

It's like when you were a kid and your mom read to you. Remember how comforting that was?

This is what I began doing for my wife, who had a habit of thinking too much just as she was trying to fall asleep. My reading, in a quiet, monotone voice, helped her to quell her thoughts and just listen to the story (or article or whatever) and it works every time.

The qualifications are that the person reading must have patience to keep reading until the sleeper gets to sleep. This might take 5 minutes or it might take an hour. But it will eventually work.

It doesn't matter what you read. I often read non-fiction books (like the Edgar Cayce book I mentioned), as well as fiction. The only factor is it can't be something that is antagonistic to her - like something that is too boring (financial reports, etc.).

That's my tip for today. Isn't it ironic that I'm writing this post at midnight? I just read my beautiful wife to sleep and now I can't sleep!

Oh well.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Edgar Cayce

I've been reading an old, old Edgar Cayce biography lately called "Edgar Cayce - Sleeping Prophet."

It's really good. I had known something about him, but not to this level of detail.

Edgar Cayce was born in Kentucky, USA. He grew up in a fairly poor family. Quite early in his life, he found out that he had a tremendous amount of knowledge that he could tap into by going into a trance-like sleep.

Soon, he became known as a "seer," and people from all over the country came to him for readings. His accuracy rate, especially for health problems, was very high. Also, all his readings were documented in extensive detail and are available today on the Web (available mostly for free).

Edgar Cayce is an interesting figure. I do not doubt that he was able to help people by diagnosing illnesses and prescribing cures. It seems he was tapping into the "universal knowledge" in his trances, which he says is available to us all.

Alternative for Toothpaste

I've been fretting about fluoride lately. We do what we can to take it out of our drinking water (yecch!) but I've still been using toothpaste with fluoride (Crest, Aquafresh, etc.).

Fluoride is a toxin, and my opinion is that it does not help tooth health, in fact, it may cause some damage to teeth.

Finally, I think I have an answer. A friend of mine sells this stuff called "Miracle 2." It is a bunch of products (yes, multi-level marketing) that are meant for cleaning your house and also to replace some bathroom products.

For toothpaste, you mix a couple of the things together and you get a nice toothpaste. I haven't done the exact math, but I think it's cheaper than toothpaste.

The nice thing is Miracle 2 is completely free of fluoride or other toxins. It's called a "neutralizer." It's meant to neutralize your system, to bring the pH level to normal if it's too acidic (most of us) or too akaline (rare).

So far, the taste is fine and it foams up very nicely. And it helps my breath. It is not minty or flavored with anything, but my teeth feel very clean afterward.

Here is my friend Steve's Website. Click on Products and then your country and then "New Customer. You won't have to enter any personal information to see the product list, it's just weird how the product list comes up.

You can buy the stuff online or just e-mail Steve.

NOTE: I do not make any money from you purchasing Miracle 2 products. I am not in the network for Miracle 2, and will benefit in no way from your transactions.

Hey, Hey - Look at Me! Businessweek Links to Holistic Economy

Big day for the Holistic Economy blog! Businessweek blogger Toddi Gutner, linked to my post about teaching your kids about financial responsibility.

I'm really happy that she decided to do that. Yes, it was just a post where I was quoting The Week magazine (one of my favs), and not one of my own overstuffed opinions, but still it was nice to get the traffic from such a prestigious source.

Plus, Toddi is hot! What man doesn't like a link from a beautiful woman? :-)

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Good Business Makes Bad Radio

Radio stations, especially as they've consolidated, have put a lot of science into the programming of their content.

"We need to focus on a specific demographic!"

"We must focus on the most appealing content for that demographic!"

This is excellent, excellent business advice. In fact, I try to impress the importance of focus on my students as often as possible.

However, with a radio station, this causes significant harm. Every radio station is trying to appeal to a specific demographic and trying to ONLY play the content that fits in the top level of being appealing to that demographic.

And the best demographic (apparently) for a radio station is the teenage girl demographic.

I'm guessing that because the majority of radio stations focus on this demographic because their music choices seem to be pointed that way.

As a business decision, it's flawless.

However, as a policy for a radio station, it's awful.

I can't stand listening to any radio stations in our area. They repeat songs endlessly, their DJs are reduced to innane chatter (Morning Zoo, anyone?), and the content is generally so bad I wait hopefully for a commercial break.

So, it seems that good business makes for bad radio.

As always happens, a better alternative to radio has appeared. It's called podcasting.

Podcasting provides a laser-sharp demographic focus, an opportunity for advertisers, and content that is useful, newsworthy and enjoyable.

Plus, all podcasting content can be "time shifted," meaning that you can listen to it whenever you want.

The equipment you need to listen to a podcast in your car is an iPod and a car iPod adapter.

What are you waiting for? Start listening to podcasts instead of the radio. Find specific programs on holistic health, renewable energy, German shepherds or whatever your passion. Or start your own podcast. It's easy enough that anyone can do it.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Peak Oil

World Watch magazine sent me a promotional copy of their bi-monthly paper publication. The January/February 2006 issue is devoted to the idea of "peak oil."

Peak oil is the term for the fact that the rate of extraction of oil is increasing more slowly each year, and that sometime between 2008 and 2020, the rate of oil production will begin decreasing, perhaps quite rapidly.

This sounds okay, until you begin to think that it will take us significant time to ramp up alternative energy sources to replace oil as production declines. If it declines too rapidly, we won't be ready. Government sources say that we need at least one decade lead-time to prepare for such a decline.

You know by now that I'm a big fan of renewable energy sources, like solar, wind, geothermal, hydrogen fuel cells, biodiesel and cold fusion. And the biggest source of "new energy" is our own conservation, which we can ramp up very quickly.

So, I'm not that worried (like the poor folks at World Watch!). However, I'd really like to see us beat a faster path towards renewable energy, and dramatically reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Politically, environmentally, budgetarily - it all makes sense.

Do we need the Bush Administration on board for this? It would be nice, but that will never happen. Yes, if the federal government declared a "Second Apollo Project" to reduce our dependence on foreign oil down to Zero, that would instantly energize the country and it would happen, much sooner than 2010 (I think).

However, innovation in everything comes from the private sector, never from the government. Even if George W. Bush never declares renewable energy a priority, and even if he is replaced by some idiot like Bill Frist who "stays the course" and stays cozy with Big Oil, we can do everything that we need in the private sector.

Help from the government would be nice, but leave it to us in the private sector. We'll make it so.

P.S. I am 100% behind the Apollo Alliance, I don't mean to belittle their efforts. Please get involved with their worthy effort if you can.

Friday, December 09, 2005


"Censorship is telling a man he can't have a steak just because a baby can't chew it."

Mark Twain

How To Help Your Kids Learn About Finances

The Week magazine had a good feature on how to help your children best learn about finances.

First, give them a head start by encouraging entrepreneurialism. Get them to start a business. My small contribution to this (I don't have kids) is to ask kids "What type of business do you think you'll start?" rather than "Why type of job do you think you'll get?"

Second, tell them (and show them) not to carry credit card balances. Ever. Lead by example.

Third, get them investing early. Teach them about IRAs, Roth IRAs, SEPs, etc.

Fourth, use a Qualified Personal Residence Trust to pass your house on to your children.

When Faith Itself is a Problem

A study published in the Journal of Religion and Society was done to prove or disprove the concept that "a religious society is a moral society."

Apparently, the opposite is true. Gregory S. Paul ranked 18 prosperous democracies according to their religious fervency, then correlated the results with quantifiable societal health factors.

The results were startling. The U.S., which is by far the most fervent advanced nation in the world, has the most social problems. We have the highest rates of abortion, murder, divorce and teen pregnancy. And the more religious the U.S. state (i.e. "red state") the more these problems exist.

The correlation is fairly clear in this study. But what does it mean?

Multi-Modality Clinics

"Many times the best (and most enduring) form of healing is not achieved with a single modality but with a combination of many approaches.

In the future, prototype holistic-healing centers will evolve a multidimensional approach to therapy which will utilize physical treatments, including spinal manipulation and proper nutrition; the use of various subtle energetic therapies; and psychotherapy to help the individual deal with maladaptive strategies that have been inappropriately used for copying with stress."

Richard Gerber, MD
Vibrational Medicine (Bear and Company, 2001)

I've Seen the Future of Bit Comedy

Recently, I found two video clips of comedy sketches. The difference between the two hit me square between the eyes.

One was incredibly funny, and one was not.

The first was something that was originally e-mailed to me as a video clip. Then, last week, I found it using Google's new video search engine.

It starts out as a DUI (driving while impaired) stop by the police. At first, you think this is a bit of "reality TV" but it quickly deteriorates into something else.

Click here to view the first video.

The second video was a sketch from Saturday Night Live that features a Steve Jobs look-alike talking about the new-new iPod mp3 player.

Click here to view the second video.

My impression was that the first was incredibly funny, well done and just a super piece of comedy. The second was a tired, ordinary piece of pablum from SNL that didn't make me laugh even once.

What happens from here? Do we all get our comedy from e-mailed videos, and none of it from TV old, tired shows? Probably not.

However, I think these amazing comedians who are producing bits like the DUI sketch are going to be taking over part of the comedy mindshare of all of us, and I encourage them and look forward to the results.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Channels for This Blog

Once again, here is what this blog is all about:

  • Holistic health

  • Economics

  • Renewable energy

  • Podcasting

  • Blogging

  • Open source software

  • Enterprise integration

  • Marketing

  • Copyleft

  • Podsafe music

More on these topics coming up!

Two Schools of Thought in Healthcare

It is my observation that there are two schools of thought in healthcare. You could call one "Western medicine" and the other "holistic healthcare" but it's more than that.

Here they are:

  1. Your body is a complex machine. Interlocking parts of this machine break down for no known reason, and when they do, they must be serviced by someone else.

  2. Your body is alive. It is an organism that has intelligence in every cell, and it gives you all the signs and signals you need to allow your body to heal itself. Everything in your body, including disease, happens for a reason.

I believe that each of us has the perspective at either extreme, or somewhere in the middle. For me, I'm on the extreme of number 2 - the holistic healthcare perspective. All the evidence I see points to our bodies being alive, being organisms. There is just nothing machine-like about my body. One has to examine specific body parts or even cells in total isolation to get the thought that the body is a machine. As soon as you factor in the mind-body connection, or the self-healing capability, the machine paradigm completely dissolves.

What do you think?

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Holistic Pet Care

Looking at the searches entered regarding "holistic" I found something that surprised me.

Many of the terms I was expecting were there - holistic medicine, holistic health, holistic doctor, etc. - but there were a bunch of terms that I did not expect.
  • holistic dog food

  • holistic veterinarian

  • holistic pet food

  • holistic pet care

  • etc.

All this stuff about pets! Amazing! Then I was forced to ask myself - Why? Why are so many people interested in helping their pets live the "holistic lifestyle." In fact, why are these search terms showing up at the top of the list of "most searched."

I think I have an answer.

I realized this when I saw my naturopath the last visit. She prescribed some very tough things for me to do in a period of three weeks. Cut out all dairy. Cut out sugar. No grains (just for 3 weeks). Exercise at least 5 times a week.

This is tough! Even to do this for 3 weeks is just murder. I'm happy to say I'm doing pretty good on this plan (2.5 weeks into it), except for the damn exercising. But that will come too.

Holistic healthcare is very difficult for the patient. It is constantly demanding lifestyle changes, and this is one of the hardest things to do. Breaking our stupid habits.

But, relating this back to pet care, I realized holistic healthcare becomes a whole lot easier when you just have to make someone else do it. You can just change your pet's food, and whether they like it or not, you've just done something holistic! Wasn't that easy?

Holistic healthcare is much easier to do to someone else than to do for yourself. I think that's why holistic pet care is just as popular as holistic human care.

Plus, we love our pets, as a man in a household with 3 cats (Teaser, Pixel and Ginkgo) can attest.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Why Do I Refuse to Watch TV Commercials?

This is a strange question for me. Why do I refuse to watch TV commercials. I say "TV" specifically, because it's not like I rip out the ads from a magazine when I reading it, or that I shield my eyes from billboards on the side of the road. But TV commercials just irk the heck out of me.

I mean, I'm a businessperson. I completely understand that these are just other businesspeople who want to communicate their products and services to me. I also understand very well that these ads are paying for the production of the TV shows that I love. I do love TV. I love a lot of TV shows, these come to mind:

  • Veronica Mars

  • Daily Show with Jon Stewart

  • South Park

  • Rome (series on HBO - no commercials!)

  • The Simpsons

  • Commander in Chief

  • The West Wing

I love these shows. I mean, really love them. So why won't I support them??

I have a TiVO connected to my DirecTV satellite dish. It allows me to record my programs and watch them whenever I want. I can pause live TV, and I can fast forward through commercials of recorded information.

When I'm watching live TV, I watch one channel until the commercials come on, then I pause that feed, flip to the other feed (my satellite can handle a maximum of two incoming feeds simultaneously) and watch that until the commercials come on, then flip back and fast forward the first feed through the now-recorded commercials.

I just friggin' hate them. Why? Don't I understand that they are just "to pay the bills?" My beloved shows would not exist without the commercials?

Maybe it's because commercials have become so poorly done. Loud music, fast voices, flashing images - it's really an awful combination. The most successful commercial this past year, or infomercial, I should say - is the Natural Cures infomercial with Kevin Trudeau. I've even watched parts of it.

But I must try to dig deeper to find out this aversion to commercials that I have. Even when my wife is watching TV in the other room and I'm in my office working, I'll yell out to her to fast-forward through the commercials (she always forgets). Why do I do that?

Just my thoughts.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

The Guy Who Really Increased Our Lifespans

Western medicine likes to take credit for increasing the lifespans of North Americans and Western Europeans in the past decade. It is true that our lifespans have increased greatly since the nineteenth century, when most of us only lived to be in our mid-forties or fifties. And that coincides with the widespread usage of pharmaceutical drugs and surgical techniques. There was also a noticeable decline in plagues during this time, which Western medicine also takes credit for.

Certainly, antibiotics were a miracle for many things (although we are paying a price for them now due to supergerms), but there was a man and an invention that paralleled Western medicine who really deserves the credit for increasing our lifespans and even reducing the plagues.

His name is Thomas Crapper. He is credited with inventing, or at least popularizing, the water closet, or flush toilet. The official Thomas Crapper Website says that Sir John Harington of England was the actual inventor in 1592. However, Crapper certainly played a big role in making it popular, and he did invent the modern bathroom showcase.

The widespread usage of flush toilets allowed Western Europeans and, later, North Americans, to maintain a safe distance from their own feces, which had a very beneficial effect on everyone's health. Many of the diseases suffered in the Third World are due to inadequate sanitation.

Here's another clue. In several Western countries, the death rates have decreased markedly during strikes held by medical doctors. What does this say?

I do believe that Western medicine (drugs, surgery) has it's place in our medical system. For myself and my wife, we consider it the last resort in healthcare. If our homeopathics, and changing our lifestyle/diet/exercise, and herbs and meditation don't help, then we should try drugs and surgery. But until then, we steer clear.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Arthur C. Clarke Funds a Magazine on Cold Fusion

Arthur C. Clarke, eminent science-fiction writer, has funded a new energy magazine, dedicated to new types of energy creation technologies, most prominently cold fusion.

The magazine, called Infinite Energy, is available through subscription at their Website.

It seems that cold fusion really does exist, we just need to put some oomph! behind it and develop it as an energy source. As I've said before, our energy future is going to depend on an "energy portfolio" combining wind, solar, geothermal, cold fusion, hydrogen, hydro and fossil fuels. The strength is in the combination, and relationships, between the various sources. There is no ONE right answer.

I can't help getting excited about reducing our dependency on foreign oil. Although I'm originally from Canada, who is the number 1 supplier of oil to America, I still want to see America get rid of this economic crutch that is holding it back in so many ways. Think about the huge cost of the Iraqi war that could have been avoided if we were already working smart toward energy independence. What is it now, over $100 Billion? Wow, that would have paid for half of the reconstruction of New Orleans right there.

Information Haves and Have Nots

Today, if you hear that someone has successfully conducted a physics experiment and discovered a new energy source (let's say, cold fusion), you can assume that person is a physicist by training.

However, I believe as the Internet continues to change our global society, that will change. People who are not physicists will make valuable contributions to physics. People who are not medical doctors will conduct medical research and discover new ways of healing.

The amount of information on any particular topic, especially the sciences, is so vast that someone could possibly (albeit not easily) educate themselves to the point where they can advance the level of that topic beyond what anyone had envisioned.

It is my understanding that MIT has decided to put all their class material on the Internet for free to anyone who wants it.

Can you imagine a kid in Thailand who reads and reads and reads and finally comes up with a new theory that can stop global warming in its tracks?

How can this be a bad thing? Of course, the people who were classically trained in the sciences will be horrified when this happens, but perhaps this also means that science will not have to advance "one funeral at a time," because it won't be necessary to put every new theory through the established channels of approval, and instead it will be something that many "unqualified people" dabble in.

The age of information "haves" and "have nots" will be over.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Who are the Bastards Making Money Off the Inflated Gasoline Prices?

Um, well, hmm. This is uncomfortable.

You see, ah, I'm making money off the inflated gasoline prices.

Here's why. No, I don't own an oil company.

My Renewable Energy Portfolio is Making Cash

Several years ago I decided to create an "renewable energy portfolio" of corporate stocks, because I absolutely knew that oil prices were headed skyward (we all knew this back in 1999, remember?) and decided that certain companies would greatly benefit from this. First, oil companies would benefit, as we've seen. But also, the renewable energy companies would benefit.

As Goes the Price of Oil, So Go the Prices of Renewable Stocks

The reason renewables benefit is because as the price of oil rises, it begins to overtake the costs of the renewables. For instance, using oil to fire power plants has always been cheaper than, say, wind turbine energy. But now, it's not. Oil is more expensive. So, companies that make wind turbines are making tons of money, because people are starting to turn to these alternatives, including companies like American Electric Power. They bought out Enron's entire wind farm collection in Texas in 2002, and having been on a buying streak in renewables ever since.

So, my renewable energy portfolio has been doing really well. In fact, my investments there far outpace what I pay extra in heating bills and to put gasoline in the tank of my car. So, overall, I'm making out like bandit.

Start Your Own Renewable Energy Portfolio Today!

So how do you fight high gasoline prices? Start your own renewable energy portfolio of stocks. Think wind, solar, geothermal, biodiesel, hydrogen and hybrid cars. You really can't go wrong. (Due diligence in picking good company stocks is still important, of course.) As much as my portfolio has increased in the past six years, it's nothing to what is coming as oil prices continue to rise worldwide.

Oh, why didn't I buy a renewable energy mutual fund? There weren't any good ones back then. I found one but it had performed so poorly that I could not stomach putting cash into it. I haven't checked to see how it's done since 2002, but I'll bet it's doing fine.

You know what? I just checked and it's still doing pretty poorly. It seems to be a very volatile fund, up like crazy one year, and down even more the next year. You might be better off on your own.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Podsafe Music Network - An Efficient Marketplace

I really like the Podsafe Music Network, and I now understand one major reason why.

Obviously, it's a great place to find new music, it's well organized and some of the songs are utterly fantastic.

It's an efficient marketplace.

The best artists, as rated by listeners and podcasters, rise to the top based solely on the quality of their songs. No major record promoters who are pitching sub-par material, pushing it to the top. Vanilla Ice, you know who I'm talking about.

As a result, it becomes easier and easier to find great music on this Website, because the rating system just takes over. Yes, I'm sure someone will try to hack the rating system, but the Web programmers of this site will undoubtedly overcome the hacks and keep it working.

An efficient marketplace. Isn't that cool?

The podcasts play the music for no cost, and then the listeners are driven to the musicians' Websites, where they can purchase the songs.

It's a start.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Ten Things I Love About America

Wholly inspired by Mike Adams NewsTarget article "Why America is Still a Great Place to Live," I'd like to give my loyal blog readers the top ten things I truly love about this country.

#10 - The Beauty of the Land

America, from sea to shining sea. What a place this is! The coasts are incredible, the plains are breathtaking in their expanse, the mountains are a natural wonder, the deserts are so beautiful. While travelling, I find myself again and again just wanting to explore North America, without even considering the possibilities of travelling to Europe, Asia, etc. Why? Am I some kind of paranoid isolationist? No, I don't think so. There is just so much to see here. Why not try to take it all in?

#9 - The Melting Pot
If you come to America, there is a lot that's expected of you. You don't necessarily have to learn English, but you are expected to behave in certain ways. Coming from Canada, as I did years ago, this is a breath of fresh air. In Canada, we consider our country a "mosaic." This means that every culture can fit in "as is" without having to change to meet the Canadian culture. This causes huge problems. I can remember one problem with Sikhs who had joined the police force in Canada, knowing full well that they needed to shave their beards and wear an RCMP uniform, suddenly complaining that they had to keep their beards and wanted to wear a special ceremonial dagger on their uniforms. In fact, they didn't even want to wear the RCMP uniform, they wanted to wear a special Sikh garment. Give me a break!

The melting pot is a better cultural norm. Stick with it, America.

#8 - Patriotism
Although this may make you cringe, given the knee-jerk reaction of Bushies to world events, it is very important that America retains its strong patriotism. In Canada, we just don't have that level of pride in our country.

America's patriotism bursts out often, at Independence Day celebrations, during wars, during elections. And patriotism is shown in so many ways. Waving flags, honoring veterans, and disagreeing with the government are very common ways of showing one's patriotism here. And all are well accepted.

#7 - The Founding Fathers
What an incredible beginning this country had! The Founding Fathers - George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, James Madison, and all - are such an incredible bunch of people, they've inspired all of us to this day with their ideas, their courage, their boldness. As you know, I'm reading a book about that era called "Burr" by Gore Vidal, and it is just showing me how these daring rebels formed the basis of a nation on rebellion. How this country can simultaneously be rebelling against itself and still be stable is a wonder. It also has shown me how the Founding Fathers really had many doubts themselves as to whether they could honestly create a new country all by themselves. But they did. And the spirit of the Founding Fathers lives on everytime someone tries to create something new here in America.

#6 - Convenience
Geez, I love convenience. The ability to shop on the Internet, get stuff delivered by Fedex, go to a mall where everything is just there - I really love the convenience. The level of convenience varies from place to place, even here in the U.S. I've found that Midwestern cities are more dedicated to convenience for people, whereas coastal cities seem to be less convenient. I remember working in San Francisco, and I suddenly realized that San Francisco was an expensive, inconvenient place, while my current home of Columbus, Ohio is inexpensive and convenient. But even S.F. is a whole lot easier to deal with than cities abroad.

#5 - The Political System
Again, with George W. Bush in office, it's hard to me to say how great the political system is, but you just have to compare it to the alternatives. Look at the British system of government, or Canadian, or even dictatorships in Asia or the Middle East. We got it good here.

The British parliamentary system (effectively copied in Canada), is horrendous ineffective. It just doesn't represent the people. In Canada, we always knew the results of the national elections before even one vote was counted from our home province of Alberta. It was disgusting. It was not equal, in the way guaranteed by the balance of the House of Representatives and the Senate here in the U.S. And in Canada, it's the usual thing for the Prime Minister and the majority in Parliament to be from the same party. That's how the system is rigged. When the Parliament has a majority for a particular party, that almost guarantees that the Prime Minister is going to be from the same party. Seeing how bad it is for America to have an all Republican government (like now) or an all Democratic government (like in the 70s), you can imagine what it's like to have that situation almost guaranteed by law. It just doesn't work.

#4 - A Culture of Innovation
America truly values innovation. Yes, the big companies try to beat it down when it arises, but it always arises anyway. Americans seem to assume that the big companies will get toppled over by the newcomer every few decades. The Microsoft's will beat the IBM's. The Southwest Airlines will kill the Delta Airlines. It's just going to happen.

What a great attitude. What an excellent environment for innovation.

#3 - People Who Care
Even though the political system here in the U.S. is meant to "preserve the power of the few," the little guys always seem to get through. I'm thinking particularly of a political movement I'm involved with right now in Ohio. It's an eye-opening experience to be part of this, much less leading it! And I'm learning so much about how it's very, very possible to change the political process with just a little bit of money and a few hundred supporters. It is possible, and it's not even that hard. You just gotta get up off your ass.

#2 - Outrage
Point #3 leads me to "outrage." I love the American capability to get outraged at things that aren't right. Look at the situation in New Orleans this month. Hurricane Katrina blew through and flooded New Orleans, and the federal and state governments were caught flat-footed. Then they started to lie to try to cover themselves, but everyone, I mean EVERYONE, caught them in the lie. I love it! I love the outrage, the calling authority figures to task. Let's see more of that, huh?

#1 - The Entrepreneurial Spirit
The most important reason for America's success, in my mind, is the capitalist economy. Nothing is more empowering, more wealth-creating, than the effective implementation of capitalism in a country. And that means that the overzealous government officials need to "let go" and let the economy work. That doesn't mean total hands-off, but it means the government refraining from offering hand-outs to corporations that give money to political campaigns. Get out of that business entirely, please! It slows down the innovation process, and it throws a wrench in our capitalist system. No friggin' hand-outs to businesses, please!

That's it for my Top Ten list. Let me know what you think, America.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

The Hydrogen Storage Solution

It seems as though scientists in Denmark have come up with a way to store large quantities of hydrogen gas formed into pellets, which can be handled without any loss of hydrogen.

They say the pellets can be made cheaply and that the hydrogen can be extracted quite easily.

Here's a photo of the pellets. They call it "handheld hydrogen." Cute, huh?

It bothers me a little that this discovery comes from Denmark. Is George Bush's ignorance of hydrogen and other renewables going to put the U.S. permanently behind in the race towards finding the best renewable energy sources? Hope not.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Why Do Doctors Test Holistic Remedies?

There have been many controlled studies on herbs and vitamin therapy lately. Many of them say that the products work, many say they don't work.

My contention is with the people doing the testing. They are medical doctors and medical scientists. Why?

These people don't know what these products do. They don't know how to administer them to patients, because they've never used them with patients before. As we saw with the echinacea study earlier this year, they often don't even know which part of the plant to use, and therefore come to incorrect conclusions about the herbal remedies.

Why don't the holistic practitioners do the testing? Those people use these therapies every day with patients, they know what side effects to look for, and how to counteract them. (Herbs really don't have many side effects, but it would still make sense to have a high-quality practitioner watching for them.)

Don't you think that's strange? How would a medical doctor view a study done of a pharmaceutical drug by a plumber?

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

United Healthcare's Star System Sounds Deeply Flawed to Me

United Healthcare (see previous post) has created a system of "stars" to show their clients who the "best" doctors are.

This makes a lot of sense. Who better than an insurance company to provide ratings to doctors so their clients have a better idea of which doctor to pick for their own healthcare?

Well, it sounds good anyway.

However, their star system is based on the following criteria:

  • How closely does the doctor follow scientifically valid treatments?

  • How much do the treatments that the doctor performs or recommends cost the insurance company?

  • How efficient is the doctor?

Does this sound like a complete mess?

You bet.

Doctors who shuffle patients in-and-out quickly, who recommend less expensive treatments even when more expensive tests might be helpful, and who "stick to the book" even when their own judgement tells them otherwise, these docs will do great.

But doctors who pay attention to the patients even if it takes a little longer, and who make quality judgements about the right tests and procedures for that particular patient is going to be punished in the star system.

Which doctor would you prefer?

These stars will likely tell which doctors are most profitable for United Healthcare, not which doctors are the best docs for the patient.

I hope United Healthcare patients understand that.

Health Savings Accounts (HSA) Getting Much More Popular

Now that Americans are learning more about Health Savings Accounts (HSA), they seem to like them.

United Healthcare, a major provider of health insurance and HSAs, noticed this week that they've sold more than 1 million HSAs nationally and over 47,000 in Ohio alone.

This is great news. Health Savings Accounts will dramatically reduce the amount of health insurance costs Americans suffer from today. They make sense for almost everyone in almost every situation.

Click here to read my many articles on HSAs.

Whether you get an HSA from United Healthcare or some other provider, get one now! They are available from most insurance agents, financial planners, even some banks.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Break Up the FDA!

Here's what I think the solution is to the problems of corruption in the FDA.

Break it up!

Put the Drug Administration into one corner, and clean up the corruption there separately.

Then put the Food Administration into another corner, and have them oversee food + vitamins + herbs. Then clean up this corruption separately.

Whaddya think?

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

In Search of the Holy Grail - Integrative Medicine

After publishing my list of the channels for this blog and the upcoming podcast, I will now explore each channel in detail.
The Holistic Health channel takes a look at my everyday focus - making holistic health the number one healthcare system in North America.
This might seem like an arduous goal, but to me it's a very worthy one. Hundreds of thousands of patients die every year at the hands of Western medical doctors, and we desperately need a better alternative.
Holistic health is that alternative.
Another word used in conjunction with holistic health is "integrative medicine." This newer term refers to the integration between modalities like Chinese medicine (acupuncture, etc.), herbs, yoga, massage therapy, etc. into the Western model.
I have seen clinics where there is a central practitioners, perhaps an MD, who sees patients coming in and treats them, as well as referring them to other practitioners, maybe massage therapists, nutrionists, yoga teachers, etc.
However, the central practitioner, or MD in this case, sees every problem through their "MD eyes" and usually will refer out whenever his MD model can't handle a patient's issues. So, in effect, its a situation where it's "Western medicine first, then others." However, Western medicine might not always be the first, best choice. Maybe the patient needs to start with a nutritionist, then do some bodywork, and proceed to the MD afterward.
This problem remains no matter who the central practitioner is - chiropractor, osteopath, acupuncturist, bodyworker, etc. They will always see each patient through the eyes of their own modality FIRST, then refer out whatever doesn't work.
An even more prevalent model is the landlord-tenant model. Here the practitioners simply share the rent and occasionally refer out to each other. The "integrativeness" is minimal in this situation.
So, we pursue the Holy Grail of Integrative Medicine. How can we achieve it? I don't exactly know yet, but I'm going to explore it in this blog and in the upcoming podcast.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Channels for this Blog and Podcast

Here are the channels for this blog and the upcoming podcast, all aspects of the holistic economy (according to me):

  • Holistic health
  • Economics
  • Renewable energy
  • Podcasting
  • Blogging
  • Open source software
  • Enterprise integration
  • Marketing
  • Copyleft
  • Podsafe music

I'll provide detailed explanations of each channel as we progress. These are all vitally interesting to me, and most of them have become part of my business in one form or another.

A New Way to Look at Codex - Holistic Health and Honda Cars

I've heard so much about Codex Alimentarius lately, I thought I should include an entry on it here on my blog.

Some Background
In case you haven't heard, the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC) is part of the United Nations and the World Trade Organization (WTO). They have been in place since 1963, but have come under intense scrutiny in the past 12 months due to their efforts to outlaw vitamins in the European Union.
They have been backed from the beginning by the pharmaceutical industry, and basically the commission members consider themselves to be the protectors of the pharmaceutical industry.
The holistic health community is very panicked about Codex. Indeed, these are some unprecedented steps towards making vitamin and herbal therapy illegal worldwide.
There are some very interesting details about Codex history here.

So why am I not worried?

Here's why.

Vitamin Busts - Video at 11
First, imagine what will happen the first time a "vitamin bust" gets caught on videotape. Already, a major holistic healthcare reporter is calling for videotapes of these vitamin busts, so he can publish them far and wide. He has offered to pay "a pretty penny" for videos like this.
The public outcry will be enormous. The politicians will look ridiculous, and the pharma companies will have to pull back...again.

A Pitiful Cry from a Dying Industry
Second, I see actions like Codex as a pitiful cry from a dying industry.
Huh? you say. Aren't pharma companies the most profitable industry in the world? Don't they have a more powerful lobby than anyone else?
All true.
But that's exactly when the fall comes. When an industry reaches the top, that's when they get shot down. It happens every time.

The Big 3 and Japanese Cars
Imagine being Honda Motors in 1972. They were a successful motorcycle company worldwide, and had good sales of cars within Japan. In 1972 they introduced the Honda Civic into the USA. Talk about David versus Goliath!
Honda was a very small company compared to the Big 3 American automakers - Chrysler, Ford and GM. Who did they think they were trying to sell their cars in the shadow of these behemoths?
But they did. They persisted. And within only 3-4 years, American experienced the oil shortage of the mid-1970s. Honda sales went nuts (as did Toyota and the other Japanese models).

Don't Buy Them Jap Cars, It's Unamerican!
By 1980, Honda threatened the Big 3 in some serious ways. Honda's cars were more fuel efficient, cheaper and incredibly reliable. They provided what Americans wanted at that time. So the Big 3 went to work. They tried to outlaw the Japanese imports. They tried to force trade restrictions. They told us to "Buy American," even when it meant buying a lower quality car at a higher price.
But nothing worked for the Big 3.
Honda's market share kept increasing, until today when the Honda Accord is the number one selling car in North America. I live in Columbus, Ohio and one of our major employers in this area is Honda of America. They run 3 major automotive plants within 30 miles of our city, providing tens of thousands of jobs. And the demand still outstrips their ability to produce cars.

Those Poor Goliaths!
And what's happened to the Big 3? They're sucking wind. GM is losing money almost every quarter. They are teetering on bankruptcy. Chrysler got bought out by Daimler Benz of Germany several years ago, of course. Now Daimler Benz fires their CEO and is going through major reconstruction again. And Ford is probably in the worst shape of them all. I've seen the inside of Ford as a consultant, and I can say that this company is a mess. They are running scared, and they're almost broke.

Rewind to 1972
Now, rewind back to 1972. Replace Honda with the holistic health industry. It is the newcomer, vulnerable and small. Replace the Big 3 automakers with Big Pharma. They're Number 1. They have all the money. They have the profits. They have the lobbyists.
The Big 3 lost. They lost in every measurable way. They've lost all their profits. They've lost their clout politically. They've lost jobs by the hundreds of thousands. They've lost market share.

The Japanese carmakers won everything.

Can you see the parallels. Big Pharma is dying. You can feel sorry for them, if you want, but don't fear them. Don't fear Codex or the other cries of a dying breed. Let's examine what the Japanese car companies did to survive and thrive.

Be Persistent
Even though Honda could have said at any time, "Oh well, it looks like Americans don't want us here. Let's go home." But they never did. When Americans whined about Honda taking away jobs to Japan, they built plants in America. When Americans said they wanted larger cars, not just econoboxes, Honda created Acura, a luxury version of their Honda products. Sales went off the charts. Lincoln and Cadillac never recovered.

Have Courage
Something else we can learn from Honda is courage. At no time did Honda pull back and say "I guess we'll never succeed against these monsters, they're just too big." They never pulled back and they never descended into a fear cycle. And, by the way, courage is defined as having fear, but overcoming it anyway. Just because you feel fear because of Codex doesn't mean that you don't have courage. But when you let that fear stop you from promoting holistic health and doing your work, that shows a lack of courage.

Don't Try to "Fit In"
The overwhelming message to the Japanese carmakers in the early 1970s was "make bigger cars." But they didn't do that right away. It's a good thing they didn't, because when the oil shortage hit a few years later, Honda was perfectly positioned in the marketplace to sell as many cars as they could manufacture, because everyone wanted a more fuel efficient car. The Big 3 reacted slowly, and didn't start producing fuel efficient cars until the oil shortage had come and gone.

Similarly, we shouldn't try to fit holistic healthcare into the Western medical model. Western medicine is headed for a meltdown, and we don't want to be part of that. We need to create our own model of healthcare that focuses on the future, not the short-term.
Western medicine needs to be a "piece of the puzzle" within holistic health. Powerful, dangerous drugs and surgery need to be a high-quality, last resort, with holistic cheaper, effective, safer options as our first line of defense.
We also need to create a healthcare model that exists largely outside of health insurance. The health insurance industry is tightly linked to the Western medical meltdown, except perhaps it is deteriorating even faster than medicine.

Please put some thought into how we can create this important new healthcare model. We all need to be thinking about how we will make this transition smoothly and effectively, because it will happen sooner than you think!

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Wanted: Holistic Patient Manager for Holistic Clinic

We need a new role in healthcare: The Holistic Patient Manager.

This topic takes be back several years to when my mother-in-law was very ill. She was a life-long smoker and so had lung cancer, liver problems, diabetes, ulcers and was on dialysis. We knew it was not long before she would be gone.

Katie spent much of her last two years of life in hospitals. The only problem was: Where should the hospital put her? In the "lung building?" Or maybe in the "dialysis ward?" She had every type of illness, it seemed.

My brother-in-law, a project manager himself, noticed that the "patient manager" role was sadly lacking. The "lung nurses" didn't know what the "kidney nurses" had done, so there were often medication mix-ups and major problems like that.

We responded by posting a family member at Katie's bedside 24 hours a day! Each and every day, one of our family would catch the nurses or doctors about to do something bad and we'd stop them! Too much medication, too little medication, not cleaning her properly after going to the bathroom, every problem you can think of.

As you can imagine, it was a difficult time. Compounding this was the fact that there was not one person who we could go to with our complaints. There was no "patient manager." As far as I know, no hospital has implemented this approach, but it is sorely necessary. The patient manager would not have to be trained as a doctor or nurse, just someone with a familiarity of healthcare and a good customer service attitude.

Move this perspective to the holistic center, and you can see even more need for a "holistic patient manager." In a Western medical hospital, everyone subscribes to the same healthcare philosophy - it's Western medicine.

But in a holistic clinic, everyone is coming from different camps. The ayurvedic doctor comes from ancient Indian philosophy, the TCM doctor comes from ancient Chinese ideas, the massage therapist thinks more of the physical muscles, the Bach Flower consultant thinks in terms of vibrations, etc.

Here we need a "patient manager" even more than in the Western medical model. Someone to guide the patient through the practices and plan a system of care for them.

Who does this today? No one. I've seen only one holistic healthcare center with such a person, and she is a valuable person indeed. But that is the only example I've ever seen or read about.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

"Holistic Economy" Podcasts Begin Next Month!

I'm happy to announce that I'll begin podcasting "The Holistic Economy" starting next month (September 2005).

I believe podcasting, a method of "audio blogging," is a tremendous new medium and I'm very eager to try it out. I believe it's mature enough now, being around a little more than 1 year, that I'll be able to do it quite easily, without a tremendous amount of technical tinkering. I like technical tinkering, but I just don't have much time for it these days.

Our first podcast will be titled "Alternative Medicine is Holistic, Western Medicine is Reductionist." It should be an interesting and provocative subject for all of us!

Stay tuned!

Monday, August 15, 2005

The Church of Coincidence

I realize that when someone talks to a "new age" person like me, they must get frustrated with my answers to the big questions.

"Why do bad things happen to good people?" they ask me.
"Because it's not about being good, it's about being better," I answer.

"Do we have free will or is God in control of everything?"
"Our lives are programmed, but we have the free will to jump to the next higher dimension anytime we want, by doing things that are positive and uncomfortable."

You can see what I mean. I'm a frustrating person to have these discussions with.

But even more frustrating is a discussion with a reductionist. I use the reductionist term to apply to someone who feels that science conquers all, that religion and spirituality will eventually be explained away using modern science.

Technically, a reductionist is someone who feels that anything can be explained by taking it apart. You can see how a machine works by taking it apart into its components and analyzing it, then putting it back together. (True.) You can see how the human body works by taking it apart and analyzing each component and system and then you'll understand it fully. (False.)

Reductionists were dealt a serious blow by the discovery of quantum mechanics in the early 1900s. I know several reductionists who still do not believe the well-known facts of quantum psychics to this day.

Let's play "Ask a reductionist:"

Question: "Why did I get cancer?"
Answer: "Because you smoked and the tar from the cigarettes caused a problem in the DNA of your lung cells which caused cancer."
Follow-up Question: "But why me?"
Answer: "Coincidence!"

Any line of questioning with a reductionist will eventually end here. Now, in medical science, we can add one more step before the "Coincidence!" line comes up. The reductionist will say "Genetics!" and then when you ask why you got these particular genes he'll be right back to "Coincidence!"

I heard Andrew Weil say he got into an argument with a reductionist medical doctor who said that he disliked holistic health because "It seems like it always comes done to the same advice --- Breathe!" (Which ain't a half-bad thing.)

For reductionists, though, it means worshipping at the church of Our Lady of Coincidence. No reductionist has an answer for "Why?" anything without using their favorite crutch --- "Coincidence!"

Friday, August 12, 2005

How the FDA Really Evaluates Drugs

I just realized something about how the FDA evaluates drugs.

Essentially, they look at two numbers.

A. How many people had their symptoms reduced with this drug?
B. And, how many people died or got sick/worse on this drug.

If A is a bigger number than B, they say it's a good drug. I oversimplify, of course, but that's about it.

In the case of Vioxx, there were over 55,000 deaths, right? But if there were at least 60,000 people who had relief from arthritic pain, the FDA thinks "Oh, that's okay then."

I realize that the numbers probably need to be a lot wider a margin than that for the FDA to okay a drug, but it's the underlying logic that I question.

Why do drugs need to kill people at all? If a drug kills even a few of its recipients, shouldn't we throw it out and try again?

But the FDA can't use this line of thinking, because that would throw out almost every drug in existence. They all kill people, to varying degrees. Even Tylenol and aspirin.

But then we'd all have to "make do" with herbs, vitamins and lifestyle changes. Too bad, huh?

Or, we could all just skip the whole "drugs killing people" part and move right on to the herbs, vitamins and lifestyle changes to stay healthy and to recover from illness.

Just a thought.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

If You Love to Write...Or Hate to Write - Read This!

By now you know that I love to write. Lots of people do, that's why there are so many blogs.

Do you love to write? I've met a good number of holistic practitioners who love to write, they talk of writing a book someday.

Often they do not know that their writing skill could be a perfect marketing tool if they used it in the right way.

Article writing is an incredible marketing tool. Writing a bunch of articles and then posting them everywhere on the Internet can lead an enormous amount of traffic back to your Website. (Hint: If you don't have a Website for your holistic practice, it's time to get one.)

Okay, so you can write a bunch of articles, but how do you do the second part? How do you get them spread all over the Internet?

Let do that for you. For free.

This amazing free service allows you to post articles on their Website, and then people from all over the Web use your articles as content for their Websites, e-mail newsletters, e-zines, etc.

They must attribute those articles back to you, which means they'll be including a link back to your holistic Website.

Imagine the traffic! There are several tricks to doing this properly:

  1. Always include a URL to your holistic Website in the author box at the end of the article.
  2. Write well. will not accept articles with poor English.
  3. Write lots of small articles. suggests that you try to write at least 20 articles, but that you shoot for 200 if you can possibly create that many. Each article can be as short as 300-500 words. is a free service to writers and to publishers. So, if you HATE TO WRITE, this is also the service for you. Just include other people's articles and wrap them up in an e-zine that you send to your customers through e-mail. Voila! You have a great newsletter and you didn't have to write anything!

Remember the three keys to a good holistic marketing strategy:

A. Speaking
B. Publishing
C. Networking

See you next time!

Sunday, August 07, 2005

There's Sugar in Everything

My mom recently commented how hard it is to find any type of food that doesn't have sugar in it. Most packaged meals have a big dose of the white poison, and of course any kind of dessert or snack is out of the question.

This morning, I linked the sugar omnipresence to that "sugar feeling" in other things.

My wife was watching "True Lies" on satellite TV, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Lee Curtis. I was trying to do some work, but I found my eyes drifting back to the TV screen again and again.

It felt like sugar! I'm trying to cut my own intake of sugar as much as possible, and I know what it feels like to NEED SUGAR. It's overwhelming. But once you stay away from it for a few weeks, it isn't so bad. I no longer need to pull over in a mad rush on State Street to get a chocolate chip-wich or milkshake. I don't eat cookies for the hell of it.

But this TV thing was a unique experience. I kept making excuses to come back to the room where the TV was on to see the show. (BTW, I've seen this damn movie probably 3 times already. Why??)

When a marketer finds a "sugar" in his product, something that people can't stay away from, they start to use it as often as possible. Sweet tastes, saltiness, exploding bombs in movies, sex scenes - these are all types of sugar. I know that sugar is bad for me, but is the rest of this stuff bad for me too? In a way, it is because it takes me away from whatever I was trying to accomplish. But I wonder what other health effects it has.

For now, I'll keep on rationing sugar and not worry about the TV type of sugar. But I really need to think about this.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Two Economies

I've been thinking recently how the Open Source Movement in software will affect the rest of the economy.

It has certainly made a huge difference within software. Linux open source Web servers outnumber Windows servers perhaps 10-t0-1. Almost all hosting companies offer Web hosting services on Linux boxes exclusively, or as an option.

The Firefox browser has been downloaded tens-of-millions of times, and it is gaining market share against Microsoft's Internet Explorer. On my Websites, I see Firefox at around 8-9% of all hits. This is up from 4-5% only six months ago.

But will the "open source phenomenon" carry over into road construction, haircuts, training, manufacturing and publishing?

I don't really think so. I think what will happen is that we'll essentially have a hybrid economy. We'll have the capitalist economy that has worked so well for so many years, and we'll have a second economy that is modeled after a socialist utopian economy, the Open Source Movement.

Please understand, I'm not using the words "socialist utopian" as denigrating to open source. I am a huge advocate of open source and I mean only that open source embodies what was always the good part of socialism. I would never expect a socialist or communist government to work in any country for any length of time. The only thing that has helped China progress in the past ten years has been their dramatic lurch towards capitalism and away from communism. "Communism in name only," as my Chinese friend says.

I think open source methods of doing things other than software will start springing up, but I don't think they will displace the existing capitalist supply chains. There will be a place for both. I believe that software, music and publishing will be most affected. Any industry where duplication can be digitized, and therefore one million copies of an item will cost no more than one copy.

America will be a country with two economies. Perhaps they will be tracked and measured separately, and certain people will be involved in only one, only the other or both.

For myself, I enjoy being involved in both.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Billy Tauzin - Poster Child for Political Corruption?

It looks like I'm way behind on the Billy Tauzin story.

Here's an interesting take on it.

Here is the data on pharma lobbying efforts.

And a copy of a New York Times article on corruption in the pharma industry, highlighting Tauzin.

Yeah, I'm really trailing on this story. But it's never too late to jump on the bandwagon, huh??

Public Citizen has published a Website and a book called "Worst Pills." They expose the pharmaceutical drugs that are most dangerous and list them for all to see.

I strongly urge any holistic practitioner to subscribe to their Website ($15/year) or buy the book. Don't buy the book at, the book being sold there is outdated. Buy it instead from their Website here.

Thanks, Public Citizen, for doing what our media is not able to do for us.

The Legend of Billy Tauzin

Somehow, I missed the story last December of Bill Tauzin.

This guy was a cantankerous Republican congressman from Louisiana who headed the House Commerce Committee until he stepped down last year.

This Committee oversaw the pharmaceutical industry as well as other industries. In fact, the pharmaceutical industry gave over $200,000 to Tauzin's campaign.

So what does a congressman do once he's retired? What could he do for employment?

No problem for Tauzin. He is now CEO of the pharmaceutical lobbying group Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA). This is the largest lobby group for big pharma.

I certainly didn't hear much about this last December, but it's only through my own ignorance. The press did report it, although not enthusiastically. There must have been a shark attack or sex scandal that was more pressing at the time.

The reason I found out about it today was that Tauzin was quoted in an article in Newsweek magazine on the problems with pharmaceutical drugs like Vioxx, Celebrex, etc. The quote came but the magazine only stated that Tauzin was with the lobby group, no mention of his former position in Congress. I thought I had heard that name before, so I looked it up, and WHAM-O, there he was - former Representative Tauzin.

Tauzin said upon taking the job that his first priority was to "restore credibility to the pharmaceutical industry." Huh? You're going to do that by taking a job with their lobbying group immediately after stepping down from the committee that oversaw them??

I must say that Tauzin had a good excuse for why he joined big PhRMA. He said that he had a battle with intestinal cancer himself and that it was pharmaceutical drugs that gave him his life back. Okay, I can understand that.

But I really remember Tauzin as a staunch defender of big PhRMA while he was Chairman of the Committee. And now he's on the payroll officially?

What kind of person would feel good about that? What kind of news media would not be pouncing all over a story like that, questioning his every move and asking why he would want to destroy his own credibility like that?

That is our news media, fellow Americans. That is why blogging has become so popular and so important. Because the news media like Newsweek magazine cannot report on the industries that they are part of. The magazine issued that I mentioned, except for the single story on Vioxx, was a tribute, a beautiful salute to the drug industry. Packed with ads from drug companies, and favorable stories, it was 90% favorable and only 10% questioning.

They simply can't do the job. They are now in that position and they can't get out. So we bloggers need to help. The point is not to blame Newsweek. They're stuck.

The reporters are not happy about this, I'm sure. They have to write this crap, they don't like it. They know they're destroying their own credibility. They hate that.

The magazines have got to keep the ad revenue moving, or they'll die. And you can't publish stories about your advertisers. And big Pharma is the biggest advertiser. Hell, for every full page ad a pharma company pays for, they have to pay for 2 more pages just to write all the fine print about the drug! Do you know how much it costs to run a full page ad (much less 3!) in Newsweek? Probably about $100,000 for one issue.

So, let's get blogging. If you don't blog yet, please start. We need to hear your take on things. We need you as a "citizen journalist." We need you putting the pieces together that Newsweek is not allowed to do.

Blogging is free. This service that I use,, is run by Google and there is no charge. It's a great service. Hell, you might even make a little money by running Google's AdSense ads on your blog. If you don't like writing or typing, start a Podcast instead. There are lots of good Podcast hosting companies like this one.

The only thing I'm asking you to donate is your time.

Please add your voice to the blogosphere.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Talks about Thimerosal on Comedy Central

Robert F. Kennedy was the guest on Jon Stewart's Daily Show last night. What a show! Kennedy, who is usually focused on environmental issues, talked the entire time about how thimerosal is solidly linked to a dramatic rise in autism in kids. He said that most vaccines don't use it anymore, which I was not aware of. I thought it was still everywhere. He said that the flu vaccines still have it.

They also chatted about a missed opportunity on ABC. Kennedy was supposed to appear on a news show there, but the "higher ups" pulled the show at the last minute. Then they got deluged with e-mail from mother's with autistic kids, so they ran a "cut-up version" of the show, which Kennedy said was basically a long ad for the drug companies. He said there were even ads from drug companies right before and after the show.

What a joke. Anyway, we can look to Comedy Central and Jon Stewart (love that guy) to bring out the actual truth that the networks are too afraid to air. Thanks, Jon. And thank you, Rolling Stone magazine, for publishing the original article by Kennedy that started all this. I had forgotten that magazine even existed until news of this article surfaced recently.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Fear is the Sin

I had been thinking for a long time that there is only one true sin, and that is the failure to life up to your own potential. I saw the major reasons that this happened as laziness and fear.

I finally watched the 1991 movie with Albert Brooks called "Defending Your Life" last weekend. It is great! In the afterlife, the movie shows how fear is the one really bad sin that will kick you back down to Earth again to learn through another lifetime. You keep getting smarter, using more of your brain, until you aren't paralyzed with fear anymore.

I see that has it available as a DVD. I'm thinking of buying it.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

The Holistic Educator

There is a big difference between being a Western medical doctor and being a holistic practitioner.

The doctor says "I'll do that for you. Take this pill."

The holistic practitioner says "You can heal yourself safely and effectively. Let me show you how."

This means that the holistic practitioner is not just in the "medical business" but also in the "education business." The nature of holistic health means that you, as a practitioner, need to understand and excel at both.

Education means just what you think it means. It means talking with your clients in the office, explaining how they can change their lifestyle choices day-to-day. It means encouraging them and coaching them. It also means writing articles, even books. And it means speaking in front of groups.

As it happens, these are incredibly good ways to do marketing too. Speaking and publishing are the top two ways to get trusted by potential clients enough so that they may visit your practice.

As a practitioner, you need to have a constant schedule of speaking and writing, speaking and writing.

Trouble is, many practitioners aren't too crazy about speaking. Or writing. Or both.

Speaking in front of groups is an anxiety-causing activity for many people.

Writing any length of articles (forget books!) is a huge challenge for many others.

What to do?

For speaking, there is one cure. Practice, practice, practice. Practice in non-threatening environments.

My suggestion for speaker-phobics? No matter where you live in the world, there is undoubtedly a Toastmasters chapter near you. Toastmasters is an incredibly wonderful organization that allows you to get practice speaking in front of small groups. It is a great confidence builder. Your self-esteem will rise with your speaking ability. The fees are something less than $50 U.S. per year, very affordable.

For writers? Well, I'd like to practice your own ability to write. But if that is not a possibility, if your heart just isn't in it, I urge you to use other people's material. No, this isn't stealing. Using the Internet, you have access to a wide range of articles on holistic health.

You can't use any articles without getting permission from the author. But there is one exception.

Article marketing Websites publish high-quality articles on many topics. The articles are "there for the taking."

That means you can copy them from the Website and use them in your own publications, e-mails, paper copies in your office --- whatever. You must keep the attribution to the original author, but you can use the article.

This is a reasonable substitute for people who cannot make the effort to write themselves.

The best article marketing Website is

You can see my articles on the Website here.

Monday, July 18, 2005

A Message of Holism From...Who Was That Guy??

Here's a message of "holism" from an unlikely source: the Chairman of GE Health.,,SB112112057892482677,00.html (requires subscription)

In this article, Sir William Castell says our progress of scientific medicine in the past one hundred years has been successful, even stunning in some cases.

But now it's time to do more, and this will mean we have to shake the paradigm of our current medical systems.

Our current model is to allow "ourselves, through lifestyle, environment, and latent genetic predisposition or simple ignorance, to develop serious disease. The more sophisticated the economy, the more you have access to costly resources to optimize your late-stage treatment, when options are narrower and success less likely. We need to challenge whether this narrow focus on "Late Disease" is the best way to help people preserve their greatest asset, their own health."

He goes on to say that we need to focus on "Early Health" rather than "Late Disease." He sees this as a tremendous business opportunity for those who jump on it. If you are a holistic practitioner, or someone who uses holistic services, you've already jumped! Congratulations!

If not, now is the time to switch. When the Chairman of GE Health is making statements like this in the Wall Street Journal, "alternative medicine" ain't alternative no more...

Sunday, July 17, 2005

A Health Machine

Let's say that Janice had created a machine that kept a person healthy and was able to bring a person back to health when they got sick. It took Janice 30 years to develop this machine and get it perfectly right, but now it works great.

Then let's say Marvin came along and said "Oh, fine, that health machine works for you and your patients, Janice, but I can't figure out how your machine works. So I'm going to build my own machine based on 'true science.'"

Then Marvin goes on to develop a machine that works not nearly as well, kills many of his patients (but helps some) and costs a lot more to operate. However, it does match his scientific calculations perfectly.

Now let's unmask the players. Janice is China, and Janice's machine is Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Marvin is the U.S., and his machine is Western medicine.

Western medicine kills over 100,000 people every year in the U.S. It is based on scientific principles, yes, but it has developed only over the last 100 years or less.

Chinese medicine has been improved over the past 3,000 years, and it works for billions of people. Why did we have to re-invent the wheel? Why do we continue to re-invent medicine? The Chinese and Indians (and Native Americans) had systems that worked well and that they continue to use.

Is it just the romantic notion that knowing the science behind a solution can solve all our health problems?

For me, I'm going to put my health into the hands of a practitioner with 3,000 years of experience behind him, rather than the newest, latest Vioxx to hit the shelfs.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Great Health Site

I found an excellent health articles Website called I has an astonishing number of articles about holistic healthcare, many of them written by the so-called Health Ranger, Mike Adams. I don't agree with everything said here, but I feel most of the information is sound.

Friday, July 15, 2005

What Did Our Founders Feel?

I'm reading a book by Gore Vidal called "Burr." It's the life of Aaron Burr, vice-president of the United States and well-known as the person who killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel.

The book is utterly excellent. The rich details of the American founders' characters and habits is a delight to read.

As I read what they went through in those years, I actually felt some kinship. Of course, the types of things I'm "founding" are infinitely less in magnitude, but still I feel many of the same feelings that Vidal attributes to them in those early years of America.

Starting my own company, founding a holistic practitioners' networking group, and a lobbying group all give me those feelings. Most of the time, I'm wondering if we're doing the right thing. I think of us as a rag-tag group of nobodies trying to pretend we're important. That's how the founders often felt too!

Vidal's chapter on the inauguration of Thomas Jefferson was illustrative. Nobody knew how to get started. Jefferson told Burr "You go first," and Burr said "I think you should start." (Ha! We've had meetings like that!) Finally, Jefferson made his speech, but no one could hear him. Jefferson hated speaking in front of crowds, so he just mumbled his way through. Only two people (Burr and the judge) heard Jefferson's eloquent inauguration speech, because they sat right beside him. Later, Jefferson flipped his speech notes all over the floor and nervously tried to gather them up again.

It's always the same when people are trying to start something new. You don't know what you're doing, and you feel stupid because you think you should know. But you don't. So you do it anyway.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

The China Price

Apparently there is one phrase that is more frightening to Wal-Mart's suppliers than any other. It's called "The China Price." This means that Wal-Mart is comparing prices between the product you sell and what they can get from China. China can produce finished, sellable products for an unbelievably cheap price to American retailers. And Wal-Mart has taken advantage of this. I've heard estimates that 80% of the durable goods in a Wal-Mart store are from China.

I witnessed this firsthand recently. The floor lamp here in my office became a strobe light last week because of an electrical short in the base. It was about twenty years old so I decided to replace it.

I visited several stores to compare styles and prices. Several stores featured a particular lamp that was quite stylish and bright. But I could not believe the price.

This was a six-foot tall floor lamp with six bulbs (not included). It looked excellent. The price? $19.99. I had expected to pay perhaps as much as $100 for a lamp like this. But twenty bucks?

Needless to say, I snapped it up. It was easy to put together, and the quality is top-notch. (So much for assuming lower quality from Chinese products.)

I'm sitting here wondering, "How could they even ship this thing from China for $20?" It's pretty heavy, since the base is weighted to keep it from falling over. I guess I have a lot to learn about the economies of scale in manufacturing and distribution. How much could a factory worker in China be paid to assemble a product like this? The materials must have cost at least $5. That leaves $15 for the worker, factory costs, shipping and the retailer.

This just doesn't add up in my head.

Anyway, China can produce these durable goods in tremendous quantities at good quality at excellent prices. That is an established fact.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Re-orienting to the Customer

Which of these scenarios would you prefer as a customer?

Scenario A
You go to a holistic health practitioner, let's say a nutritionist, from whom you seek help for a skin condition. She tells you to eat lots of this and stop eating that. It doesn't really work, so you decide to visit a chiropractor. He tells you its all due to a kink in your neck and once he fixes that (after a mere seven visits) you won't have the skin problem. It doesn't help. So then you seek an herbalist, who says take this herb and rub this salve on your arms. This works!

Scenario B
You look for someone who can help you with your skin problem. You see an ad in the new age journal that says "Holistic remedies for skin problems - call 999-999-9999."

You call and make an appointment. You find out that this person has trained as a nutritionist, bodyworker, herbalist and yoga teacher. She has found out the best ways to holistically treat skin problems. She sees people with skin problems all day long, and she has a passion for solving skin problems, since she once had a disfiguring skin problem that she healed herself with holistic means. She is able to help you with a set of nine visits.

So, which one would you prefer? Although it is the same number of visits and probably the same cost for both scenarios, the second one is preferable because you have someone who really understands your problem.

The feeling I sometimes get with holistic practitioners who are not customer-oriented (like Scenario B) is that they are always guessing. "I'm going to guess that my bodywork/energy/nutrition/exercise is going to help your condition x." That does not strike confidence in me.

Holistic health practitioners, listen up! Re-orient your practice towards a specific health issue that you can solve for your clients. We'll appreciate it very much!

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Distributed Energy Production

I think something that a lot of people don't realize is that as we move toward solar, wind, geothermal, biodiesel and other "green fuels" we are doing a lot more than just saving the environment and reducing our dependence on foreign oil.

As if that wasn't enough!!!!

Don't get me wrong, if that was all we accomplished, it would be plenty for me. But I think there's more to the package.

We are creating a distributed energy economy. By that, I mean that many of these energy-producing devices will be installed on people's homes and business offices, not in a central location. That means that me, sitting here in my home town, will have my own power and can do with it as I please. Just by virtue of installing the solar panels, or the wind turbine, I've made an initial investment, and now I'm "off the power grid." Or, more likely, I'm still connected to the grid as a backup, but when I produce more power than I can use and store, I pump that additional power back into the grid and the power company pays me for that. Basically, my meter begins to run backwards.

So, by distributing this energy production, we have the following benefits:

  1. No big power lines to devalue house prices and ugly-up the neighborhood.
  2. No massive power outages, or outages local to one house or office building.
  3. Power coming from multiple sources (solar and wind and geothermal, etc.), making it difficult for "solar barons" and "wind barons" to arise and create monopolies, because as soon as they raise prices on their energy or devices, the other sources become cheaper by comparison and take over.
  4. Much more difficult for terrorists to disrupt our power supplies.
  5. An additional way to add value to a residential house sale. "This house has solar panels, so you won't have to pay electric bills the whole time you're here."
  6. No fluctuation of energy prices to deal with. Energy production becomes just another function of your house, like insulation, storage, etc.

Maybe this will also lead us towards the community government idea of my previous post. If communities are more involved in producing their own energy, rather than buying it from large companies or government-owned utilities, they might be more likely to desire more autonomy.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Type A versus Type B Personalities

I read an article recently that stated that the evolution of open source computer programming was providing a way for Type B personalities to find creative outlets for their favorite type of work style - collaboration.

Type A personalities are competition-oriented, dog-eat-dog, etc.

Type B personalities are collaboration-oriented, and prefer to duck below the radar when Type A's are fighting it out.

It is very interesting to me that in the cyber-world of today, Type B's are collaborating to produce open source software, some of the finest, best quality software available, while the Type A's of the cyber-world can be found in a very different place - virus-writing. Hackers and crackers are prototypical Type A's, competing with each other to create the "best" virus, etc.

Isn't it interesting to see that the corporate ladder-climber has evolved into a common criminal, while the underachieving Type B thrives in a non-structured, non-corporate future?

Community Government

Everytime I fill out my taxes, I'm reminded how many levels of government we have, and what they want from me, as well as what I want from them.

It's a power struggle between city governments, state, county, federal, etc. They all feel that they have the right to collect the majority of the taxes and then redistribute it to the other levels of government.

Right now, the majority of my tax dollars go to the federal government. Then they redistribute it to the states, and the states give money to counties, cities, etc.

I think this is backwards. I think the major force of government should be at the community level. In a small town, it should be the town council. In a big city, it should be the neighborhood. Maximum of 1,000 people, let's say. The community government should collect all the taxes and then redistribute to the cities, counties, states and federal.

Here's why. Corruption in government always occurs, no matter what level. One look at the Bush administration and you can easily see this. However, it's easier to do corrupt things with people's money if you never have to see them face-to-face. Much, much more difficult.

In order to have a government where the citizens can easily see their government officials face-to-face, we need government at the level of 1,000 to 1 or less.

I also feel this helps with complexity problems. When problems are too big, one person cannot comprehend them in his or her brain. And it doesn't take much for a problem to be "too big to completely comprehend." All environmental problems, poverty, racism - these problems seem to be too complex for us to solve at our current level of thinking.

The Internet could serve as a useful tool to connect these many communities and share information.

Am I saying that we should disband the federal government in favor of community governments? No, I am not. But I think those lower levels should be the tax collectors and that the states and federal governments should be recipients of tax money from the communities, not vice-versa.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Backyard Manufacturing

An emerging technology called "3d fax" caught my eye a few years ago and I haven't been able to stop thinking about it.

A 3d fax machine would allow you to put an item into a box in Santa Fe and then be able to replicate that item into a different box here in Columbus, Ohio, using a normal fax line between the two boxes.

The idea is that you can scan the item from multiple perspectives in the first box, and then transmit those specifications as data to the Columbus fax machine, which casts the item out of plastic resin.

It's a pretty simple idea, as long as you keep the item to one physical piece and do not require assembly.

But soon enough, that will be possible too. Think how automated car assembly plants are getting. What's the next inevitable step there? Miniature the car plant down to something that can fit on a desk, of course. Now you've got a 3d fax machine that can build almost anything (as long as it's plastic).

My projection on top of this is that you could obvious take that datastream of specifications from anywhere, not just another 3d fax machine in Santa Fe. It could come from a computer program instead. So you could design something on your PC and then build it right there, more like a 3d printer.

If this became possible, I think there would be a new type of industry popping up which I'll call "backyard manufacturing." You could buy one of these boxes (different sizes depending on how big the stuff is you want to build) and then begin building whatever you want using computer models.

Think of the creativity that could be unleashed! And it would be cheap too!

Let's start with toys. Obviously, most toys are made entirely of plastic, so you could begin creating a whole range of toys yourself, using your own designs or designs you purchased from other people. I imagine that there will be a set of "open source toy designs" that people create as computer data, and then release to the world for free.

Then, I imagine that new companies would pop up who certify certain toy designs as being safe or unsafe for children.

If all this happened, all the toys that are being made in China today could be made in America again using the backyard manufacturing process. The all-plastic items would be the first to move "on-shore" and then maybe wooden, metal items later on.

Would China be in trouble? Probably not, they could do their own backyard manufacturing, but this inefficient process of sending specifications offshore to be manufacturered and then sending them back here again would slow down.

Something as complex as an internal combustion engine would be the last thing to be created with backyard manufacturing, but then I think about the new types of engines coming down the pike, like hydrogen and solar. These have far fewer moving parts and would be much easier (relatively!) than the ICE to create with manufacturing-in-a-box.

I think it's quite likely that Apollo Alliance will be successful in convincing American politicians to create a new Apollo project that provides us with energy independence from the Middle East. When this happens, we'll get cleaner, simpler engines and cars that are more compatible with backyard manufacturing. Not to mention the other new technologies, like brake-by-wire and steer-by-wire, featured prominently in General Motor's Autonomy concept car. Again, the trend is toward simpler designs, fewer moving parts, more electronics.

Currently, big companies have the advantage over smaller companies because of three things: manufacturing economies of scale, exising distribution networks and marketing.

The backyard manufacturing idea gives small companies a leg up on manufacturing. Distribution becomes a non-issue once you can distribute information-only and do the manufacturing locally. And the Internet obviously helps small company marketing look like big company marketing.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Unsolicited Health Advice

Have you ever complained to someone about a health condition that you wish would go away, only to receive an avalanche of health advice from them? How did you feel about that?

Some holistic practitioners seem to feel that they should go through life giving their free advice to people who haven't asked for it. I don't agree. I think it's annoying to the other person, and it makes your advice seem like it's worth what you're charging - nothing.

To all holistic practitioners - wait until you're asked for help before you offer it. This is the courteous, professional, profitable way to approach healthcare advice.


Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Marketing Quintiles

I'm just reading another book called The Next Economy by Elliott Ettenberg. I've been borrowing so many crappy marketing books from the library lately that I had almost given up.

Then this gem of a book shows up.

Ettenberg asks us to break up our existing customer list into quintiles (20% sections) based on how much they buy from us and how often. Then we look at the top three quintiles and focus all our marketing on them.

We actually ignore quintiles Q4 and Q5 because they cost us more money than they pay.

This may sound callous, or like we're wanting to ignore poor people. But there is no correlation between quintiles for a certain business and level of income or net worth of the customer.

I can see this in my own life. I am a regular customer at the Firestone car maintenance place here in my hometown. They have had my business for probably ten years. We do regular oil changes and then whenever they find some other problem, we ask them to fix that too. They never add on unnecessary stuff and they always let us look at the old parts to see what the problem was.

So, I am probably in their Q1. They should treat me like a king. (They do treat me pretty good, but not different from other people.)

I am also a regular shopper at Giant Eagle grocery store. They have my business every week. So I am their Q1 shopper.

Then, when I look at car dealers, I have no affinity. I am a terrible customer. First, I shop around for the cheapest deal. Second, I hardly ever buy new cars, I wait until they totally break down. My Monte Carlo is over 10 years old and running great. My Dodge Dakota is seven years old and also running fine.

I must be a Q5 customer for the car dealers where I've bought cars. They should be ignoring me or even discouraging me.

Same for clothes shopping. Meijers, Wal-Mart, who cares? Whatever's cheapest. Q5.

So, every one of us is simultaneously a Q1 and Q5 customer somewhere. There is no inherent prejudice against the poor with this model. And it allows the businessperson to focus their efforts on their best customers. You've already heard me talk about Attracting Perfect Customers (best, most holistic marketing book ever) on my previous blog, this is the same concept except extended to be a bit more scientific.