...latest project

  • Posted: 4:09 PM
  • |
  • Author: Heather Bannister

Okay, so my new project is programming.  I am trying to learn just enough to be a hazard to myself and others.  I am beginning with a very simple book about the Python language called "Hello World."  It is a fairly bare bones beginners book because that is where I am at this point.  My ultimate goal is to know enough to create customized programs for myself if I can't find one that does what I want it to do pre-made.  Also, I wouldn't mind being able to develop apps for smart-phones as a potential side-income.  I will try to get back into blogging as my time allows seeing as I have been on a lengthy hiatus.  More to come....


mammon rising....

  • Posted: 8:04 PM
  • |
  • Author: Heather Bannister

       I have been wondering lately what the line is between providing a comfortable life for yourself or family, and greed.  I have been trying to pay more and more attention to this line in the last few months, hoping not to cross it.  When do we draw the line between only getting what we need and enjoying the fruits of our labors?  What is an appropiate amount of "enjoyment"?  Who decides?
        In the Bible, distinctions are made fairly clear, rich man does not enter heaven, or if he does....it's pretty hard.  So should we live poorly?  Many believe so, like so many monks who take vows of poverty in order to emulate Jesus, or some who are just ok doing without.  I wanted to post this almost more as a discussion piece than anything else, I want to hear what people think and feel about this.  I want to find out what "greedy" is to you.  Please comment with your own thoughts or definitions, but remember, a discussion forum is different than a debate forum.... no fighting, no foul language, and I reserve the right to delete anything I deem inappropriate.  If it is clean, friendly and topical, it will not be removed. Ok, now, ready.....set......GO!

cover up....

        I'm very curious when people moved from preventing problems to masking symptoms.  It seems like we've always been able to get "a pill for this or a cream for that."  But not many any more bother to ask why they need said pill or cream.  We have learned to just assume that whatever our bodies outward expression is, IS the problem.  Thinking this way, we fail to see the true problems, therefore leaving them untreated, sometimes to the point of hospitilization or even death.
         It has long been known that Prozac can alleviate depression.  But how?  Prozac selectively affects only serotonin which is why Prozac and other similar drugs are called selective serotonin

re-uptake inhibitors, or SSRIs.  After  a while, receiving brain cells become more sensitive to serotonin allowing it to be absorbed more freely, therefore, elevating one's mood.+  This has been the approach for fighting depression for quite sometime now, doctors...ahem....pharmaceutical companies research the workings of the brain to find out what causes a good mood (i.e. serotonin) and subsequently make a pill that makes your brain absorb more of it.  So there we have it right?  Hormone and neurons and receivers and such, that's how the brain works right?  While this is true, the biggest part of the brain has been conveniently overlooked....fat.  Thats right, fat, about two-thirds for your brain is composed completely of fat.*  Fat is required in your diet in order for your brain to function properly.  Funny how something as simple as looking into adding god fats to your diet or supplement regime has been overlooked or overshadowed by the medical community until 1993.  That was the year Stoll a psycho pharmacologist at Harvard's McLean Hospital, began looking into the effect of Omega - 3's on bi-polar disorder.#  Ever since the idea was introduced, study after study has shown that it works.  Despite the overwhelming evidence, pills remain to be the answer.  Despite the fact that Omega - 3's have been shown to alleviate depression, anxiety, eczema, bi-polar, ADD and many other chronic conditions$, it continues to get pushed to the wayside by a medical community who has forgotten an important part of the oath they all took.... "I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure," or, the original version "I will not give a lethal drug to anyone if I am asked."^  "Prozac, the only antidepressant certified as safe for children, may make kids more suicidal."@  Food for medication thought.....   Why not treat the PROBLEM...not just the symptoms?

+  -  http://www.brainphysics.com/howprozacworks.php
*  -  http://www.fi.edu/learn/brain/fats.html#fatsbuild
#  -  http://www.ahealthyme.com/topic/depfishoil
$  -  http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/omega-3-000316.htm
^  -  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hippocratic_Oath
@  -   http://www.antidepressantsfacts.com/2004-09-13-USAToday-prozac-suicide.htm


  • Posted: 8:48 PM
  • |
  • Author: Heather Bannister

              These videos are for everyone, of every tolerance level.  It doesn't matter if you "don't need to see/know this stuff" or not.  you do need to, you need to know what is going on and keep yourself informed.  This will be one of few blog posts that have any sort of military/political topics, sorry if you came for my usual topics, but I felt like getting this out.
               http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lR4z9ohRxEc&feature=related (this is a series of four, titled similarly, just look for the other three)

                What have we done?  Who are we that we could do the things we do?  We have lost our heart for our fellow man.  The things that go on in today's society are despicable.  I speak not of the horrid things that plaster our daily news briefs.  No, I am talking about the thing that the news won't, or isn't allowed to cover.
               When I started this blog, I promised myself that I wasn't going to dabble into politics and things, but rather stick with what I know.  However, I have begun to see, read and hear things that I cannot turn a blind eye to.  I recently discovered a few videos that pushed me beyond the point of holding back.  I sourced the videos above and would ask that you watch them before reading any further.  I will not describe them here because I want you to see with your own eyes just a small sampling of what our blind eye is turned to. 
               Now that you've seen them, how do you feel....  Still defending freedom are we?  Or are we rather enforcing tyranny in the form a police state.  Almost a decade we have spent over there.....still no freedom.  Sure, they can vote.  Women are still wearing burkahs, men still run everything.  Funny how a few hundred years ago when a group of people wanted to get out from under the thumb of another countries rule it took eight years.  Bear in mind, that was eight years of one of the smallest and most ill equipped armies in the world fighting the largest and most well equipped, not the other way around.  We are the most capable military in the world!  Yet we are being fought off by a group of insurgents from from a small, poor and almost inhospitable country.  Let's consider the terminology here for a minute.  "Insurgent" according to the dictionary definition is a person who engages in armed resistance to a government or to the execution of its laws ( http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/insurgent ).  So from the get go, we are, by definition, saying that these people are opposed to our mode of government.  In other words, they were happy the way it was, however bizarre that seems to us.  Now, it would seem to me that if these insurgents had remained a credible threat to the security of the country for this long, one has to wonder how long to keep fighting before you let them have their country back....
                We don't care though, we are on a mission.  We need an armed presence in as many countries as we can get.  We are one the few notions of the world that can boast that.  Some say "impressive", I say disgraceful.  Our presence is not needed the world over.  It is needed when there are CREDIBLE direct threats to our nation.  Not implied threats, we don't need "preemptive" attacks.  Where I'm headed, however roundabout a path I may have gone,  is that by keeping our soldiers in this environment, we increase the risk of their complete desensitization.  A certain level is required to be in the military, I will not deny that, but where do we draw the line?  Ask yourselves how far you are willing to go for a piece of dirt, or some goo from the ground.  How many lives will you risk, how many will you destroy?  We have lost our heart for humanity in the search for gold....
                  This is by no means a definitive article and I am by no means an expert.  This article is based on my own and a select few others research.  This is my own opinion, if your differs or this offends you, I do not apologize and I will take none of this back.  I have a right to my opinion, you don't have to agree, but please comment etc...  I would love to hear what you all have to say, if anything.

Digging a hole...

  • Posted: 6:02 PM
  • |
  • Author: Heather Bannister

            I'm very curious just how deep we as a society will dig before we start looking for a way out.  We need food, we go to the store because, to us anyway, that is where you get food.  We peruse the shelves, pick out what we want from a growing number (tens of thousands of new food like substances every year*) of food-ish looking boxes, the producers of which spend billions of dollars annualy+ to convince us that they are not only food, but that they are good for us.  How do they prove that they are good for us?  Food research of course.  Food research that is funded by these same companies that are selling us this food.  Sounds a little biased to me.  "But my Frito-Lay chips are heart healthy now!  It says so on the bag!"  If you think that is accurate, I have some land to sell you.... 

               Here's the actual claim in the fine print on the new "heart healthy" Frito-Lay chips:
   "Very limited and preliminary scientific evidence suggests that eating about one tablespoon (16 grams) of corn oil daily may reduce the risk of heart disease due to the unsaturated fat content in corn oil.
    The FDA concludes that there is little scientific evidence supporting this claim.
    To achieve this possible benefit, corn oil is to replace a similar amount of saturated fat and not increase the total number of calories you eat in a day."
                 As adequately compared in Michael Pollan's In Defense Of Food:
  "No doubt we can look forward to a qualified health claim for high-fructose corn syrup, a tablespoon of which probably does contribute to your health - as long as it replaces a comparable amount of, say, poison in your diet and doesn't increase the total number of calories you eat in a day."
             So, we buy food from manufacturers based on research funded or preformed by the companies selling the food.  Ironic as it may sound, research has proven that research funded by a company has results that favor the company#, so naturally food research will say the fiber in Froot Loops is just as good as the fiber in whole wheat bran.  Or, better yet, we buy it based on nothing more than the billions of dollars spent every year in advertising to convince us that it is food.  So what happened to the whole foods?  Well, they aren't fancy enough or cheap enough to fit in the shelves of brightly colored boxes and over-zealous packaging in the middle of the store.  They have no new health claims to advertise on TV because evryone already knows (deep down in that part of your conciense that sounds like your mom saying "Eat your vegetables!") that they are good for you, so there is no need for that.  That leaves the edges of the stores that people avoid.  They come into the store and sweep through them just for good measure, then on to the "good stuff" in the boxes.

            It would seem we are all waiting around for Taco Bell to start making health claims so we can justify eating there.....  Wait, they ARE!!  And they are just as convoluted as any FDA health claim you'll find in a store.  We go after these "new" health claims while walking right past foods that have been doing that already since the beginning of time.  Who would have thought that if you eat less than 1500 calories a day of tacos made with vegetables that you can lose weight?  That is basically what this "Drive Thru Diet" is, sounds to me like the older than dirt "caloric restriction" diet.  The point is Froot Loops don't have GOOD fiber in them and eating more Frito-Lays will NOT reduce your risk of heart disease.  Behind all of these claims is the subtext of "substituting this in place of  something that is worse for you, and not increasing your daily calorie intake".  That being said, pay attention to what you eat, only listen to qualified, independent food research and use common sense.  Remember, vote with your fork and as always, "Eat food.  Not too much.  Mostly plants."

* - http://www.ers.usda.gov/Briefing/FoodMarketingSystem/New_Product.htm
+ - http://www.upi.com/Health_News/2008/07/29/16-billion-spent-on-kid-food-marketing/UPI-39701217374497/
# - Several studies have found that when industry funds nutrition research, the conclusions as more likely to produce findings favorabler to that industry's products.  One such study published by the Public Library of Science, is "Relationships Between funding Source and Conclusion Among Nutrition-Related Scientific Articles," by David S. Ludwig.  See also Marion Nestle's Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health.  Revised editiong.  (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007).

Also cited:  In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto, by Michael Pollan, 2008

Something better...

  • Posted: 2:30 PM
  • |
  • Author: Heather Bannister

         "Always leave it better than you found it..."  That was something that my parents tried to push into my head over the course of my years at home, and even for a while after I left.  I have been to two parks in my town in the past two days to play with my children and have a little family picnic.  While I was there I couldn't help but notice the astounding amount of wrappers, cigarette butts and unidentifiable pieces of trash.  Not wanting my kids to pick any of these things up and possibly put them in their mouths, I spent a few minutes walking around picking up what I could find and depositing it into the trash receptacle....which was within a thirty foot radius of the farthest piece of trash I picked up.  This post follows in with an earlier one I wrote entitled "Steward..." if you would like to take a read at that one.  Anyway, my point is this, it doesn't take that much time out of your obviously unrealistically busy schedule to take ten extra steps to go to a trash can.  It says something about the type of people we are when we leave a place in worse condition than we found it.  Mom, Dad, I think I get it!  Not only does it say something about us, but it brings glory to God when we take care of the gift he gave us that is Earth, and the parks contained therein.  We cannot, CANNOT, go on disrespecting our home like this.  Eventually we will not have these parks anymore....because the plants will die, the swing sets will crumble, and all that will be left is a barren piece of land that can be put to no use but potentially a parking lot.  Also, while we may not live in these parks, there are animals that do.  Animals that are vital to that food chain I talked about last time and that eat the trash we leave behind.  Please, throw your trash away, if you see some, pick it up and throw it away.  It doesn't take that much time and it can make a world of difference.  That's all for now, remember to vote with your fork, and as always, "Eat FOOD.  Not too much. Mostly plants."


Never break the chain....

  • Posted: 3:01 PM
  • |
  • Author: Heather Bannister

        For most, that is nothing but a memorable song lyric.  As delightful a song as it may be, that phrase can and should mean much more than an antiquated love chain.  For us, humans, earth-dwellers and omnivores, it should mean something more along the lines of a food chain.  We all learned about these in school, this eats that which is then eaten by something else, and there we are on top, eating everything.  Which is true....we have completely dominated the global food chain.  This is not a bad thing at all, we are an intelligent, adaptive, omnivorous and societal species.  But, what we have lost track of is what our foods eat.

         When we go to the store, we don't think about what the cow that our ground beef came from ate, or whether it was on antibiotics or why.  We, again, only care that we don't pay too much for it.  We fail to take into consideration the fact that most of these animals are kept in dirty, cramped, cement feedlots where they are fed corn.  "Okay so they eat corn.  What's the big deal?"  Have you ever seen a cow in the wild eat corn?  If you can't remember, or don't know, I can tell you.  NO!!!  They eat grass.  Their digestive systems are speciffically designed for this purpose.  When they eat corn, they get sick because their systems are not made to process corn.  So, we give our cows corn, they get sick because they are made to eat grass.  What is the obvious solution?  If you thought "Feed them grass, duh."  you'd be wrong....at least according to the industrial food machine.  When cows (and any other feedlot animal for that matter) get sick, we don't look for the source of the problem, we pump them full of antibiotics, duh. 

        Now, that must be okay though because the FDA and USDA have tested all these antibiotics to make sure they are safe for human consumption right?   Weeeeelll....you'd think, but that is surprisingly not always the case.  Most of the time, the USDA/FDA work retrospectively, meaning, they wait til there IS a problem to deal with it rather than trying to avoid it in the first place.  Seems counterintuitive to me too.  ESPECIALLY when it comes to food that millions of people are eating.  The people they are supposed to be protecting from that kind of stuff.

        Back to corn.  Why would we use antibiotics to treat cows and other animals so that we can feed them what they're not supposed to eat?  Because we can grow more corn per acre than pasture.  We can subsidize corn farmers, and allow private corporations to control over 90% of the corn seed planted in the united states.  By the way, this particular corn seed is patented.  You heard right, PATENTED.  That mens that corn farmers cannot save their seeds to plant the next season like they used to....for thousands of years.  As a matter of fact, this is the first time that it has been more common for frmers as a whole to plant new seed every year than to keep their own, since the implementation of agriculture.  Doesn't seem right to me, I'll let you draw your own conclusions.

         Fortunately, recently there have been more and more pastured (or at least grass-fed) meat choices available in grocery stores.  This means that if you can't or don't want to go to your local farmer's market and get non-feedlot meat, you can still go to your regular store and help to stop the breakdown of the food chain.  And as always, vote with your fork and "Eat FOOD.  Not too much.  Mostly plants."