Sunday, December 30, 2007

My Workout Working!

Hi.  Just wanted to let you know that my promise to myself to start working out is really happening!  I have consistently worked out five to six times a week since that original blog post. 

I'm seeing the benefits too!  My waist has gone from 46" down to 40.25".  My goal is a long ways away, but I don't mind.  I have a great workout partner who holds my feet to the fire and I'm happy to be going on the right path again after soooooo long.

Is Globalization Working?

John Ralston Saul, a novelist from Canada, wrote an aggressive takedown of globalization in Harper's magazine several years ago that I've just gotten around to reading.

I've always been firmly behind globalization, but his article has caused me to rethink some of my most valued suppositions about it. Here is an interesting paragraph in his article:

This determinist approach toward agriculture as an industry rather than as a food source--toward the implications of everything from fertilizers, herbicides, and insecticides to genetics, hormones, antibiotics, labeling, and sourcing--became the flash point for a far broader concern among citizens. This was the context in which a growing percentage of people judged the handling of key issues as different as mad cow disease, the availability of pharmaceuticals in the developing world, and global warming. They were beginning to feel that what was presented as an argument of Globalism versus protectionism was often just a confused opposition of personal choice and abstract corporate interests. So Globalization, put forward as a metaphor for choice, was organizing itself around not consumers but corporate structures, structures that sought profits by limiting personal choice.
I've always known firsthand that corporations are more efficient than government departments.  As a computer consultant, I've seen the belly of both, and, while neither is pretty, corporations have the ability to get things done by at least a factor of twenty-to-one compared to government departments.

However, if a corporation takes over a function that a government department was once responsible for, and the corporation has a different (and wrong) goal, will it still be more efficient?  This is a point that Ralston Saul brings up that I stupidly hadn't considered before.

Ralston Saul says that in our efforts to globalize, we've paid attention (and measured) only the commercial aspects of things, ignoring the human and social aspects. This has caused us to be quite helpless when events that are economically insignificant but socially important occur, like the genocide in Rwanda.

Good God!  Will I turn into just another liberal big-government stooge?  I hope not.  This stuff is always more complex that I want to admit. But thanks anyway, John Ralston Saul, for making me think about my positions once again.

You can read much more from Ralston Saul, as well as see his collection of fiction and non-fiction writings, at his Website. I was first drawn to his work after hearing his lecture on the excellent podcast from TV Ontario called Big Ideas.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Sticking Your Kids With Your Debt

I typically have two big issues which I judge political candidates on: the environment and the national debt.

Almost every year, both issues have been completely overlooked in the election process by both parties. However, this year, the environment actually is being talked about and the Democrats seem to have some plans to improve things.

The national debt has had no discussion whatsoever. Have we forgotten that the yearly budget deficit, brought to zero under President Clinton, is now higher than it's ever been? President Bush and the Republican Congress ran up a massive amount of debt that we are going to have to pay back.

Correction - our children will be paying it. Which brings me to a point, brought up eloquently by Oliver "Buzz" Thomas, a minister, lawyer and author of the book "10 Things Your Minister Wants to Tell You (But Can't Because He Needs the Job)."

Thomas wrote a blog post for USA Today earlier this month about our penchant for debt. He feels that we are violating fundamental religious principles by running up this debt and putting in no effort to pay it back. Essentially, it is like building up a $30,000 credit card bill and then leaving it to your children.

Would you do that? Probably not. But, as Thomas points out, it is just easier when it is a distant, shapeless blob like the national debt. And our politicians, especially the spendy Republican President we have, don't help. Can't blame it on the war either. This administration has increased the national debt every year without even counting war expenses.

As Thomas puts it, "Whether you're Christian, Muslim, Jewish or Zoroastrian, your tradition has taught you at least this: a) Pay your bills and b) Provide for your children. Right now, we are doing neither.

So why aren't our politicians talking about it? Probably because it will be uncomfortable to pay back the debt. Services will have to be cut. Taxes will have to be raised (sorry W - your way ain't-a workin').

We have to re-insert this into our national discussion again. Do we need to resurrect Ross Perot to bring back the topic of paying the debt? I hope not.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

How to Be a Glam-Granola Girl

Glam-Granola Girl

What do you get when you cross a glamour queen with a granola girl? Wendy Roy, author of the new book "You Know You're a Glam-Granola Girl If..." says that is exactly what she is - A Glam-Granola Girl.

Wendy also feels that there are many others like herself. Women who delight in being beautiful, feeling sexy, and also have a deep respect for nature and the environment.

Wendy recently read my article on natural cosmetics, and we've had a number of chats through e-mail. She seems like a chronic overachiever - singer, composer, author, entrepreneur, instructor, you name it. She's even sung at Boston's Fenway Park regularly and composed a song that was sung on Idol, South Africa. Amazing woman!

But you might be most interested in her book. Published just in time for Christmas, her book "celebrates the glamourously earthy ladies of the world."

The book costs $14.95 and is available from Wendy's Website. Click here to order.

Here's a quote from Wendy on what a Glam-Granola Girl really is:

We are ultra-stylish in appearance, yet comfortable in our shoes, and our skin. We encourage ecological responsibility, and promote inner peace, as we understand that this is from where external peace grows. We are the ladies who break all molds, and feel elated by, and proud of it.

We are intelligent, we are women of substance, and we are quite extraordinary, actually.

We are Glam-Granola girls.

Wendy Roy