“Why Do Men [and Women] Stupefy Themselves?” Substance Abuse and Addiction

Life is sweet; life is hard. How we handle the hard times is essential to our growth.
Friedrich Nietzsche, German philosopher, cultural critic, and poet, whose work has exerted a profound influence on Western philosophy and modern intellectual history, realized that difficulties of every sort were to be welcomed by those seeking fulfillment.

“Like his pastor father, Nietzsche had been committed to the task of consolation.  Like his father, he had wished to offer us paths to fulfillment.  But, he said, ‘The worst sickness of men has originated in the way they have combated their sicknesses.  What seemed a cure has in the long run produced something worse than what it was supposed to overcome.  the means which worked immediately, anaesthetizing, and intoxicating, the so-called consolations,were ignorantly supposed to be actual cures. . . . these instantaneous alleviations often had to be paid for with a general and profound worsening of the complaint'” (de Botton, The Consolations of Philosophy, p. 244).

Instead of facing their difficulties, many turn to drugs and alcohol to anaesthetize themselves.
According to a recent New York Times article:

AKRON, Ohio — Drug overdose deaths in 2016 most likely exceeded 59,000, the largest annual jump ever recorded in the United States, according to preliminary data compiled by The New York Times.

The death count is the latest consequence of an escalating public health crisis: opioid addiction, now made more deadly by an influx of illicitly manufactured fentanyl and similar drugs. Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death among Americans under 50.

Although the data is preliminary, the Times’s best estimate is that deaths rose 19 percent over the 52,404 recorded in 2015. And all evidence suggests the problem has continued to worsen in 2017.

Because drug deaths take a long time to certify, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will not be able to calculate final numbers until December. The Times compiled estimates for 2016 from hundreds of state health departments and county coroners and medical examiners. Together they represent data from states and counties that accounted for 76 percent of overdose deaths in 2015. They are a first look at the extent of the drug overdose epidemic last year, a detailed accounting of a modern plague.

The initial data points to large increases in drug overdose deaths in states along the East Coast, particularly Maryland, Florida, Pennsylvania and Maine. In Ohio, which filed a lawsuit last week accusing five drug companies of abetting the opioid epidemic, we estimate overdose deaths increased by more than 25 percent in 2016.

“Heroin is the devil’s drug, man. It is,” Cliff Parker said, sitting on a bench in Grace Park in Akron. Mr. Parker, 24, graduated from high school not too far from here, in nearby Copley, where he was a multisport athlete. In his senior year, he was a varsity wrestler and earned a scholarship to the University of Akron. Like his friends and teammates, he started using prescription painkillers at parties. It was fun, he said. By the time it stopped being fun, it was too late. Pills soon turned to heroin, and his life began slipping away from him.

Mr. Parker’s story is familiar in the Akron area. From a distance, it would be easy to paint Akron — “Rubber Capital of the World” — as a stereotypical example of Rust Belt decay. But that’s far from a complete picture. While manufacturing jobs have declined and the recovery from the 2008 recession has been slow, unemployment in Summit County, where Akron sits, is roughly in line with the United States as a whole. The Goodyear factories have been retooled into technology centers for research and polymer science. The city has begun to rebuild. But deaths from drug overdose here have skyrocketed. . .

From: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/06/05/upshot/opioid-epidemic-drug-overdose-deaths-are-rising-faster-than-ever.html?_r=0

 

There are many ways to anaesthetize yourself:  alcohol, smoking, over-eating. . . . Heck, you can be addicted to running or paddling (but then at least you will have a clear head).

Many years ago after being introduced in a terrific literature class to Leo Tolstoy’s novels War and Peace and Anna Karenina, my friend Melinda introduced me to some of Tolstoy’s non-fiction.  One convincing piece was Why Do Men Stupefy Themselves? 
Recently, I came across Maria Popova’s blog on Tolstoy’s “Stupefy” essay.  Tolstoy’s ideas still ring true today. 

“The seeing, spiritual being, whose manifestation we commonly call conscience, always points with one end towards right and with the other towards wrong, and we do not notice it while we follow the course it shows.”

“The people of the United States spend exactly as much money on booze alone as on the space program,” Isaac Asimov quipped in a witty and wise 1969 response to a reader who had berated him on the expense of space exploration. At no other time of the year are our cultural priorities more glaring than during our holiday merriment, which entails very little cosmos and very many Cosmos. Long before Asimov, another sage of the human spirit set out to unravel the mystery of why such substances appeal to us so: In 1890, a decade after his timelessly enlightening spiritual memoir and midway through his Calendar of Wisdom magnum opus, Leo Tolstoy penned an insightful essay titled “Why Do Men Stupefy Themselves?” as a preface to a book on “drunkenness” by a Russian physician named P. S. Alexeyev. Eventually included in the altogether excellent posthumous volume Recollections and Essays (public library; free ebook), Tolstoy’s inquiry peers into the deeper psychological layers and philosophical aspects of substance abuse and addiction.

 

Decades before the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous and nearly a century before alcohol abuse was recognized as a disease by the World Health Organization, Tolstoy writes:

What is the explanation of the fact that people use things that stupefy them: vodka, wine, beer, hashish, opium, tobacco, and other things less common: ether, morphia, fly-agaric [hallucinogenic mushrooms] etc.? Why did the practice begin? Why has it spread so rapidly, and why is it still spreading among all sorts of people, savage and civilized? How is it that where there is no vodka, wine or beer, we find opium, hashish, fly-agaric, and the like, and that tobacco is used everywhere?

Why do people wish to stupefy themselves?

Ask anyone why he began drinking wine and why he now drinks it. He will reply, “Oh, I like it, and everybody drinks,” and he may add, “it cheers me up.” Some those who have never once taken the trouble to consider whether they do well or ill to drink wine may add that wine is good for the health and adds to one’s strength; that is to say, will make a statement long since proved baseless.

Ask a smoker why he began to use tobacco and why he now smokes, and he also will reply: “To while away the time; everybody smokes.”

 

https://www.brainpickings.org/2014/12/30/why-do-men-stupefy-themselves-leo-tolstoy/

 

 

Mrs. Weidman’s 2nd graders in Effingham, IL want to know about Hawaii

One of the highlights of our recent U.S. road trip was stopping at my cousin Elaine’s in Effingham, IL.  Her grandson, Keegan, a 2nd grader, is in an elementary school that has  for the past 28 years been doing a unit on Hawaii.

Keegan-

Keegan in Casey, IL – “A Small Town with a Big Heart”

Since Barry and I were going to be in town, we were invited to answer their questions about our island home.

hawaiian-islands-in-the-Pacific

1) Since it is so far away from the rest of the United States, why is Hawaii a state?

Hawaii is far away from Mainland U.S. A. – that is true.

  • From California to Hawaii is 2,471 miles.
  • From Japan to Hawaii is 4,980 miles away.

Before it was a U.S. possession, Hawaii was an independent country.   However on Jan. 17, 1893, Hawaii’s monarchy was overthrown by a group of U.S. businessmen and sugar planters (who wanted to make more money).  With the help of U.S. military, the business people forced Queen Liliuokalani, the Queen of the Kingdom of Hawaii, to abdicate.  She give up her rights and kingdom although she was the rightful leader. She didn’t want her people killed.

Queen-Liliuokalani

Queen Liliuokalani

Two years later, Hawaii was annexed as a U.S. territory and eventual admitted in 1959 as the 50th state in the union.

2) What races live in Hawaii?

  • The state’s overall racial breakdown: white, 22.7%; black or African American, 1.5%; American Indian and Alaska Native, 0.2%; Asian, 37.7%; Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander, 9.4%. The Hispanic or Latino population, of any race, was 8.9%.
Hawaiian-ohana

Ohana – family in Hawaii

3) Have you seen a volcano erupt?

  • Yes, on the Big Island of Hawaii many years ago, Barry and I saw a volcano erupting!
  • Lava and steam have been coming up in various places on the Big Island for many years. Johnny and Sigrid were just there in February and were right by extremely hot, slowly flowing lava.
  • On Maui, we have two volcanoes – one extinct (dead) and one dormant (sleeping), so we don’t have lava flows now.
  • The Hawaiian islands were formed by volcanoes.
Types-of-lava-flows

Types of lava flows – from: <http://www.sandatlas.org/types-lava-flows/&gt;

Big Island Kilauea Volcano

Go to this link to see molten lava:

<https://www.theguardian.com/world/video/2015/aug/28/lava-hawaiis-kilauea-volcano-video?subject=Big Island Volcano>

4) What are the black sand beaches like?

  • Black sand is hot – very hot when the noon sun shines upon it.
  • The dark color absorbs the sunlight, so if your feet are bare, you have to run really quickly to get into the water.
  • That sand is black because it is fine particles of volcanic rock.
  • Most sand in Hawaii is silicon dioxide (quartz) that is white or whitish yellow; it has been broken down from rocks and minerals by wind, rain and freezing/thawing cycles into smaller grains. In a few places, the sand is red.
  • Also, sea creatures such as the parrot fish chew up minerals and leave sand behind.
green-sea-turtle

Green sea turtle – you can find them in shallow waters

5) What is the weather like?

  • Nice   – highs are around 87 degrees in June, July, and August and lows of about 64 degrees are in January and February.
  • Because temperatures drop about 3.2F (1.3C) every 1,000 feet (305m), the summit of Haleakala is roughly 32F (13C) cooler than the beaches.
  • Rainfall is low in Kihei (10 inches a year), but on the east of Maui, is Hana, a rain forest (400 inches a year).
  • Hawaii is called a “tropical paradise” because its climate makes people feel comfortable almost every day of the year.

6) Are there a lot of shark sightings?

  • No. Sharks do live in the ocean, but they aren’t often seen here in Hawaii.  One thousand miles south of the Hawaiian Islands, in the Palmyra Atoll, however, there are about 20 sharks every half mile.  So it depends where you are what sea life you’ll find.
  • About three shark attacks occur per year in Hawaii. Few shark attacks are fatal.  Sharks do not have very good eyesight, so it is best to stay out of the ocean at dawn, dusk, or at times when the water is murky.  Sharks are looking for turtles to eat – not humans.
  • The Hawaii shark attack rate is surprisingly low considering the thousands of people who swim, surf, and dive in Hawaiian waters every day.
  • The most frequently encountered Hawaiian reef sharks are the White Tipped Reef Shark, Scalloped Hammerhead Shark, Tiger Shark, Galapagos Shark, Gray Reef Shark, and the Sandbar Shark.

7) Do people really do the hula?

huladancers

lhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Xr1Wd17w-g

  • Yes, the men and women – and children – dance hula. The Hawaiians have a powerful dance, music, and chant culture!

8) How is Christmas celebrated in Hawaii?

  • Over half the people in Hawaii practice Christianity.
  • Of those, 18.74% are Catholic; 5.24% are LDS; 3.91% are another Christian faith; 0.06% in Hawaii are Jewish; 5.14% are an eastern faith; 0.05% Islam.
  • Barry and I have a Christmas tree, church services, and celebrations with our families.   Because the weather is warm, we take food and spend our Christmas Day at the beach with our friends and family.
  • Because we live in Hawaii, we get to enjoy and experience other cultures and religions that our friends and neighbors practice.

On Maui – Santa arrives by canoe

Christmas-santa

9) Are there any interesting animals on Maui?

  • Yes. Many – many – especially sea creatures.
  • My favorite one? Humpback whales that come to Hawaii from about December through February.
humpback-whale

Humpback Whale – breaching.  Scientists still have much to learn about whales.

Humpback Whale Facts:

  • Whales are mammals: breathe air, warm blooded, live birth, have hair, & mom’s produce milk.
  • Fifty-eight million years ago, whales were land animals.  But there was global warming and less land and food, so the whales evolved back into sea creatures.
  • Their trip from Alaska to Hawaii (and then back to Alaska) takes whales 5 to 7 weeks at 3 to 8 miles per hour – each way!  It’s about 3,000 miles they swim to give birth and mate in our shallow, sandy bottom, warm water.
  • A whale calf is 15 foot at birth and drinks about 120 pounds of milk per day.
  • Because their throats are about the size of a grapefruit, the Humpback whales don’t eat for about four months here because our fish are too big.  The whales have to wait until they get back to Alaska where there is krill,  small shrimp and other small cold water fish for them to eat!
  • All whales vocalize, but the males “sing.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xo2bVbDtiX8
  • Life span: 40-80 years
  • Length: 35-45 feet
  • Weight 35-45 tons ( 1 ton = 2,000 pounds)
  • Importance of whales to microscopic beings: Scientists report that when whales feed, often at great depths, and then return to the surface to breathe, they mix up the water column. That spreads nutrients and microorganisms through different marine zones, which can lead to feeding bonanzas for other creatures.
  • And the materials in whale urine and excrement, especially iron and nitrogen, serve as effective fertilizers for plankton.

Come visit us to see other animals, birds, and sea life.

10) Do you have turtles in Hawaii?

  • Two kinds you’ll find in Hawaii (among others) are the Green Sea turtle and the endangered Hawksbill.
  • At Ho’okipa Beach on Maui, you can sometimes see 25 or more turtles, big and small, basking – resting and warming up – on shore every afternoon.
  • Thirty years ago, basking seldom happened. But now, turtles are protected. It’s against the law to eat them.
big-turtle

Some turtles can weigh 300 pounds

 

hawksbill-2

Hawksbill

turtles-Ho'okipa

Basking turtles at Ho’okipa Beach Park

hawksbillexcavationwaiting

Waiting for the excavation of a Hawksbill turtle nest. Because the Hawksbills are very endangered, volunteers guard their nests from dogs, mongoose, other people . . . If the turtles don’t hatch in a timely way, scientists come to help them get out to the ocean.

hawksbill-babies

Hawksbill turtles emerging from their nest.  Each is about the size of a U.S. quarter.

We have other much more common animals:

lovebirds

Lovebirds come to our bird feeder every day.

mango-sarah

Mango is a myna bird that Johnny rescued when she fell from her nest.

11) What can you do for fun?

Windsurfing

Windsurf on Maui

H---jump

Watch what the locals do before you jump.

Ho'okipa

You can surf, kite sail, windsurf, swim, canoe, . . . in the Pacific Ocean.

waterfall

Hike to waterfalls

rainbow.gif

Watch for rainbows.  See the faint second one here?

flowers-orange

Look for beautiful plants and flowers

Maui-Sunflowers

See sunflowers growing on Maui – an experiment to see what can replace the sugar cane that has been growing here for about 140 years.

coconut-tree-copy

Learn how to climb a coconut tree – and make coconut milk and coconut cookies.

And of course, you must come paddle Hawaiian outrigger canoe with me.  Kihei Canoe Club has visitor paddle every Tuesday and Thursday.  Be on the beach by 7:15 am.  You will learn the basics of paddling, hear a bit of Hawaiian culture (especially if Uncle Kimokea is there), and get to be on the ocean with experienced paddlers.  We never know what we will see.   http://www.kiheicanoeclub.com/

Kihei-Canoe-Club-copy

As for our time in Effingham, Barry and I had a very good time meeting Keegan’s classmates and teachers – and answering their excellent questions.

Mrs-W's-class

Keegan’s classmates in Effingham, IL

Mrs

Cousin Elaine brought juice and made “Hawaiian” cookies with macadamia nuts and coconuts.  We all had a good time.

Of course, there is much more to say about the Hawaiian Islands.  Come visit and see for yourself.

Aloha, Renée

NaluKai

Nalu and Kailani looking for adventure. You come too.

kbs-aloha

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hawaii for Keegan417

 

 

 

Let’s Get Cooking: Coconut Milk

Coconuts are an almost perfect food: highly nutritious and rich in fiber, vitamins C, E, B1, B3, B5 and B6 and minerals including iron, selenium, sodium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorous. Unlike cow’s milk, coconut milk is lactose free so can be used as a milk substitute by  those with lactose intolerance as well as vegans says, https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/ingredient-focus-coconut-milk

Given proper care and growing conditions coconuts palms grow rapidly, can produce up to 100 coconuts a year, and live to be 100 years old!  So if you are lucky enough to have access to coconuts – and they are grown in more than 90 countries around the world, one delicious way to use them is to make your own coconut milk.

In the May/June 2017 issue of Maui Nō Ka ‘Oi magazine, “Cuckoo for Coconuts,” Ryan Burden shares his knowledge and passion for coconuts, including this recipe for coconut milk:

Coconut-Information-Ryan-Burden-copy

Ryan Burden, a young man from Hā’iku, Maui, on a mission to get more people to eat coconuts, niu in Hawaiian.

How to make homemade Coconut Milk:

Ingredients

  • One older, shaker coconut [almost fully mature, these coconuts have thick meat and are rich in coconut oil].
  • 1 or 2 rubber or spoonmeat coconuts [younger coconuts with jelly consistency meat]
Coconut-information-Milk-1-copy

You will need coconut meat

STEP 1

Split the coconut in half by tapping firmly around the circumference. Tip: You can use any hard surface, like the back of a machete, a cleaver, even a stone.

Scrape out the meat using a coconut tool or butter knife; cut into 2-inch pieces.

coconut milkINGREDIENTS
STEP 2

Fill a high-powered blender halfway with coconut pieces and top with water. Water from a sweet coconut is best, but you can use plain H20. If you do, add a teaspoon of honey and a pinch of salt.

Tip: Make sure the water is at least 73 degrees; otherwise, the oils won’t emerge.

Blend on high for 30 to 45 seconds. Tip: Coconut meat is tough. Gradually increasing the speed avoids overheating the blender.

STEP 3

Strain through a nutmilk bag or fine cheesecloth. Squeeze out every bit, and put into a jar.

Fill to the very top, leaving no air in the jar to spoil the water. Chill immediately.

After the jar is opened, milk will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator, but is best enjoyed within two days.

For the complete article including how to open a coconut, go to <https://mauimagazine.net/coconuts/

Have fun making – and drinking your homemade coconut milk.

Aloha, Renée

“Why You Will Marry the Wrong Person”

During a year of turmoil: Brexit,  U.S. elections, Flint, Michigan water, Columbia’s peace deal, Brazil and South Korea both impeaching their presidents, and more, the essay by philosopher and writer Alain de Botton  was the most widely read – by far – of any other New York Times article in 2016.  People seem most concerned about their own relationships.

In “Why You Will Marry the Wrong Person,” de Botton declares, “We don’t know ourselves and we have unrealistic ideas of what love is.  For many, love means no conflict.  The modern idea of love is not based on reality. ”

imgres

Alain de Botton

Alain de Botton explains, “Partly, it’s because we have a bewildering array of problems that emerge when we try to get close to others. We seem normal only to those who don’t know us very well. . . . Marriage ends up as a hopeful, generous, infinitely kind gamble taken by two people who don’t know yet who they are or who the other might be, binding themselves to a future they cannot conceive of and have carefully avoided investigating.”

He says we should be realistic: “We need to swap the Romantic view [of marriage] for a tragic (and at points comedic) awareness that every human will frustrate, anger, annoy, madden and disappoint us — and we will (without any malice) do the same to them.”

In his pessimistic/realistic view, de Botton says, “The person who is best suited to us is not the person who shares our every taste (he or she doesn’t exist), but the person who can negotiate differences in taste intelligently — the person who is good at disagreement. Rather than some notional idea of perfect complementarity, it is the capacity to tolerate differences with generosity that is the true marker of the ‘not overly wrong’ person. Compatibility is an achievement of love; it must not be its precondition.”. . .

At the end of his essay, de Botton notes, “Romanticism has been unhelpful to us; it is a harsh philosophy. It has made a lot of what we go through in marriage seem exceptional and appalling. We end up lonely and convinced that our union, with its imperfections, is not ‘normal.’  We should learn to accommodate ourselves to ‘wrongness,’ striving always to adopt a more forgiving, humorous and kindly perspective on its multiple examples in ourselves and in our partners.”

For the complete essay, go to –  https://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/29/opinion/sunday/why-you-will-marry-the-wrong-person.html

I learned of this Alain de Botton’s essay through On Being with Krista Tippett, a favorite podcast. When Krista interviewed de Botton in The True Hard Work of Love and Relationships, he expanded on his ideas in a less pessimistic tone than his article.  He emphasizes that love is work: “True love is rocky and bumpy,” but the more generous we can be, the more loving our relationships are likely to be.

“What if the first question we asked on a date was, ‘How are you crazy? I’m crazy like this.'”  Alain de Botton  says that we would be much saner and happier if we reexamined our very view of love. How might our relationships be different — and better — if we understood that the real work of love is not in the falling, but in what comes after.”

If you are counting on a “soul mate” to come along or grumble that your relationship isn’t like those in the movies, listen to Alain de Botton’s interview with Krista Tippett.

Go to – https://onbeing.org/programs/alain-de-botton-the-true-hard-work-of-love-and-relationships/

Although the world news swirls around you, what is really important says de Botton is to know yourself and be kind and realistic in building love in your relationships.

Aloha, Renée

Barry’s Gleanings: China -“A Job in Hand”

Based on the latest United Nations estimates, China has a total population of 1,387,380,040 (the U.S. 326,131,191) as of Wednesday, May 10, 2017.  Thus, China needs to deal with challenges such as employment for over a billion more people than we have in the U.S.

Chinese-college-students

Chinese college students

According to “A Job in Hand” in Beijing Review, Vol. 60, China continues measures to create employment throughout the country.

A Job in Hand
By Lan Xinzhen | NO. 17 APRIL 27, 2017

As China’s college graduates swarm to all kinds of employment fairs in this job-seeking season, the government is set to give them a leg up. A guideline on employment promotion recently released by the State Council, China’s cabinet, lays out measures for creating diversified job opportunities for college graduates. The document also details steps to be taken to boost job creation in all sectors of society.

Employment is vital to people’s livelihoods and forms the foundation for economic growth and social stability. Therefore, employment and unemployment rates are important indicators for gauging a country’s economy.

The unemployment rate in 31 major Chinese cities stands at the low level of around 5 percent, according to surveys of the National Bureau of Statistics. A review of statistics from 100 cities conducted by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security (MHRSS) shows the number of new jobs increased 7.8 percent and the number of applicants grew 2.1 percent in the first quarter over the same period last year. The figures show that China’s job market remained stable, as the increase of new positions surpassed the rise in applicants.

However, in spite of this stability, challenges are not to be underestimated. First, around 7.95 million college graduates will enter the job market this year, an increase of some 300,000 year on year. Ensuring employment for the record number of graduates is an issue the government faces [my emphasis].

Second, workers laid off from sectors with overcapacity—such as the iron, steel and coal industries—require resettlement. Last year, resettlement was carried out smoothly, with 726,000 workers from these industries being reemployed. The government faces daunting challenges this year, as more workers will have to find new jobs as a result of the furthering of supply-side reform, which focuses on cutting overcapacity, destocking, deleveraging, reducing corporate costs and improving weak links. Only when laid-off workers are properly resettled can this crucial reform be considered successful.

Another challenge is to guarantee employment for surplus labor from rural areas. In the past, surplus rural labor was primarily employed in export-oriented factories in the coastal areas of east and south China. However, many migrant workers lost their jobs as a large number of export-oriented enterprises closed down due to sluggish demand for exports in the wake of the global financial crisis in 2008.

The government has introduced a series of measures to meet these challenges and will continue to launch new initiatives to address the issues.

For instance, given that non-profit organizations are becoming increasingly attractive for college graduates, the government will grant them incentive policies equal to those enjoyed by enterprises, including tax reduction and exemption and social insurance subsidies. It also provides job-hunting allowances to college graduates from impoverished families. Where conditions permit, the government encourages the setting up of foundations, with the support of local government finance and private investors, to provide funding for college graduates seeking employment or starting their own businesses.

The government also subsidizes enterprises that resettle laid-off workers within their organization. It grants tax relief to enterprises that take on laid-off workers. Those who start their own businesses will be given priority to set up shop in business start-up incubators, where they will enjoy favorable tax and financing policies. Finally, as part of its public welfare program, the government will provide job opportunities to workers who have difficulty finding new work.

For surplus rural labor, the government encourages them to go back to their hometowns to make a new start. There have been many successful cases of migrant workers, having accumulated capital and acquired skills and knowledge in larger cities, returning to their hometowns to start their own businesses. In this year’s annual survey of 500 villages in China conducted by the MHRSS, the number of migrant workers working away from their hometowns was 279,000 at the end of the first quarter, down 2.1 percent year on year, while those employed in local non-agricultural sectors totaled 60,000, up 7.1 percent year on year.

These measures taken by the government conform to China’s national conditions and will have positive effects in promoting employment. With these measures in place, it is believed that China’s unemployment rate will continue to stay at a low level this year, in spite of mounting challenges.

Copyedited by Chris Surtees

Comments to lanxinzhen@bjreview.com 

http://www.bjreview.com/Opinion/201704/t20170424_800094497.html

chinese-college-students-job-fair-nanjing-1-copy

College job fair in Nanjing, China

Population figures: http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/china-population/

Aloha, Barry (& Renée)

 

 

 

Images: http://www.china-mike.com/facts-about-china/facts-chinese-education/

Thought for the Day: “The light”

“The light falls only on the stranger,” an ancient Arabic proverb declares.  This saying can mean that individuals are often not celebrated in their own countries – nor in their own families.  While familiarity may not mean contempt, it certainly lends itself to disregard.  However, one of the joys of traveling allows us to be the stranger – and to see others as strangers.

During these last two months, Barry and I drove from St. Louis, Missouri to as far south as Key West, Florida and as far north as Eau Claire, Wisconsin – visiting family, friends, meeting new people, and having new experiences.  We felt the special attention showered  upon wanderers.  And we were eager to see others.

united-states-map-with-cities2

The proverb points to another way travelers benefit in their wandering.  “The light falls only on the stranger” can also mean that the one who sees most clearly – what is special – is often by those who are seeing something for the first time.

It’s a challenge for us all – those at home and those on the road – to see the light that  is in each person and the light that surrounds us everywhere.  What can you see when you look carefully?

turtles-Ho'okipa

sunset2017

Aloha, Renée

Map from <http://www.freeworldmaps.net/download/maps/united-states/united-states-map.jpg

Let’s Get Cooking: Asparagus – Pistachio-Crusted with Feta Vinaigrette (vegan option)

Pistachio-Crusted Asparagus with Feta Vinaigrette

Recipe from Handmade Gatherings: Recipes & Crafts for Seasonal Celebrations & Potluck Parties (Roost Books).

asparagus-chef

Chef Ashley

Every spring, Ashley English, author and homesteader, uses asparagus fresh from her garden in Chandler, North Carolina.  She says, “When I notice that those first, tender, thin green spears have poked their sleepy heads from the soil, that’s my cue that spring has arrived.”  Here’s her favorite asparagus recipe.

Yield: 4-6 servings

2 pounds large asparagus

¼ cup olive oil

1 cup shelled pistachios

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons feta, crumbled (Look below for a vegan “feta” that is tasty – and 100% dairy free)

1 tablespoon parsley, chopped

asparagus-recipe

Vinaigrette

¼ cup olive oil

¼ cup feta, crumbled

2 teaspoons lemon juice

2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon honey

Several grinds of black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Rinse the asparagus, and cut about an inch off the stem ends. Pat to dry. Place the asparagus on a dry baking sheet, and cook it for three minutes to dry off any excess moisture. Remove the sheet from the oven and toss the asparagus on the sheet with the olive oil.

Crush the pistachios in a food processor (or under a towel with a kitchen mallet or hammer) for about 1 minute, until finely ground. Transfer the ground nuts to a small mixing bowl. Using a spoon or clean hands, mix the nuts with the salt. Lay the asparagus out evenly across the baking sheet. Sprinkle them with half of the ground pistachio and salt blend. Turn the spears over, then evenly sprinkle them with rest of the ground pistachios.

Cook 10 minutes, then remove from the oven, and carefully plate the spears onto a platter using tongs. Add all of the vinaigrette ingredients to a lidded container or a food processor. Shake or blend until smooth. Drizzle the plated asparagus with the vinaigrette. Top with the chopped parsley and feta. Serve at room temperature.

Seen in Spring 2017 edible ASHEVILLE, p. 42.

** For vegan feta, see this recipe from Nikki at EatingVibrantly.com for instant raw vegan feta: https://www.eatingvibrantly.com/instant-raw-vegan-feta-cheese/

Enjoy.  Happy Spring, Renée

Thought for the Day: Compassion +

“Compassion isn’t weakness.  Compassion is strength,” says John Lewis, M.B.A. CEO and founder of Bad Ass Vegan

From: Thrive Vegan Magazine: Plant-Based Culture, Food, Lifestyle, Athletes, Health, Issue 7, p. 46-47.

During a podcast with Rich Roll, John Lewis also said,

“No one is responsible for your well being . . . take control of your own health,” says John Lewis.

Rich Roll notes,

John Lewis wasn’t always the exemplary model of health and advocacy he is today. Tipping the scales at 315 pounds by his freshman year in high school, things could have easily gone sideways for this young man growing up in Ferguson, Missouri.

But instead of drugs and gangs, he turned to sports, finding solace and refuge in basketball and football. Honing his skills in both high school and college helped him ditch his fat kid image and triggered his life-long love for healthy living.

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John Lewis

Nonetheless, John began experiencing some serious, negative health issues despite maintaining an athletic nature post-college. He sought medical advice and was informed that excessive animal protein consumption just might be the culprit. That advice, combined with his mother’s colon cancer diagnosis, catalyzed an experiment with vegetarianism. Little did he know, that experiment would change his life.

In short shrift, ditching meat resolved his health issues. More importantly, the lifestyle aligned with his values. So it wasn’t long before John jettisoned all animal products from his plate and went entirely vegan.

Needless to say, this was an unlikely move for a football loving gym rat. His friends were not amused.

But John never felt better. The lights went on, opening him to an entirely new way of living and being that brought his life path into focus.”

Be compassionate.  Be healthy.  Aloha, Renée

From: http://www.richroll.com/podcast/john-lewis/

Image from: http://www.miaminewtimes.com/restaurants/bad-ass-vegan-hosting-free-vegan-smart-brunch-in-wynwood-7602956

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Thought for the Day: Humanity

“Humanity as a species and our planet can not and will not survive without love, kindness, and compassion,”

  • says Jona Weinhoffe, Metalcore Vegan Rocker in Thrive: Plant-based: Culture. Food. Lifestyle. Issue #7, p. 24
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Jona Weinhofen

Image from https://www.pinterest.com/pin/81698180713979521/

Let’s radiate love, kindness, and compassion to all sentient beings.  Aloha, Renée

In America: Guns & Violence

Barry and I are on the road again.

Barry-bikes

Barry loading up our bicycles in St. Louis

At the beginning of March, we flew from Maui to St. Louis, MO, where much of my family lives.  My nephew is getting married there in April, so we will join the family celebration.  Before that event, we are taking a road trip to visit friends, family, high school and college friends, Servas hosts, and a newly discovered first cousin who lives in Boyton Beach, Florida.  We are now in Plantation, Florida, visiting dear friends, Fran and Roy, whom we have known for many years.  On our way, we have visited – among others – a Green Party Servas family in Memphis, TN, a Mennonite Servas family in rural Macon, MS, my terrific brother and his wife in Gainesville, and  three of Barry’s high school friends from New York, who now live in Florida. . . .  We have more great encounters ahead.

One of our stops along the way was in Memphis at the Iron Works Museum.  What we learned there in the Guns, Violence, and Justice special exhibit – about guns and violence in the U.S. – shocked us.

gun-ownership

Guns and violence

Among many facts, we learned:

Percent of Americans who say they have a gun in their home in 2014:

By race –

White 41%, Hispanic 20%, Black 19%

By environment –

Rural 51%, Urban 36%, Suburban 25%

By ideology –

Conservative 41%, Moderate 36%, Liberal 26%

Number of guns per 100 people by country:

U.S. – 88.8

Yemen – 54.8  [this is a war-torn country so citizens are likely to have guns, but the U.S. has more]

Switzerland – 45.7

Finland 45.3

Serbia 37.8

Mass Shootings – since 1982 in the U.S. [when 4 or more people are killed in one incident]:

Total Mass Shootings – 84      Total Victims – 1,353

Type of Weapons Used in Mass Shootings:

Semi-automatic Handgun – 73

Rifle – 29

Revolver – 24

Shotgun – 23

Top Five Reasons Americans Own Guns:

60% – Personal Safety/Protection

36% – Hunting

13% – Recreation/Sport

8% – Target Practice

5% – Second Amendment rights

When I went to school in Southeast Missouri, a date could involve target practicing.  Now I’ve been in Hawaii for many years.  The low gun violence rate there is another reason to say, “MauiKa ʻOi” – Maui is the best.

guns-and-justice-poster

“This group exhibition features artists using guns and gun references in their artwork to address issues impacting our lives. The works in Guns, Violence and Justice explore concepts of militia consciousness, individual and national accumulations of weapons, protection and aggression, recreation and justice. Several artists are examining their personal relationships with guns while others are engaging in a cultural critique in response to the increasing gun violence across the country.

Participating artists: Boris Bally | David Hess | Darryl Lauster | Bill Price | Stephen Saracino | Victor Hugo Zayas”

Go to –https://www.metalmuseum.org/visit

Gun Deaths  – “33,636 people died from firearm related causes in the United States [in 2013].  63% of firearm related deaths were suicide [my emphasis]. 33.3% were homicide and 3.7% were unintentional, undetermined, legal interventions or war.

Of those gun deaths in 2013:                                    Male                       Female

Total White 25,044                                                    21,116                       3,928

Total Black  7,797                                                         7,016                          781

Total Hispanic  2,951                                                   2,595                          356

Total Asian or Pacific Islander 469                              381                           88

Total American Indian or Alaskan Native 326          281                           45

Many of these facts (with sources) surprised me by not fitting into  assumptions that I’ve made.

gun-tools

Guns converted into tools.

On the wall behind this artist’s piece of transformed guns: “In 1791, total estimated population of the U.S. – 3,929,214 at the same time total estimated firearms in U.S. – 118,629.  In 2016, total estimated population of the U.S.  325,025,419 and total estimated firearms in U.S. 357,000,000.”

There are more guns in the U.S. than there are people!  That’s ridiculous!  The current administration has passed a bill that allows people who have a history of mental problems to buy guns!!!  What’s wrong with us?

The exhibit presents gun facts and artists creations.

twisted-guns

Twisted guns

duck-gun

QUAAK (Quintessential Ugly Amphibious Attack Kraft), 2016 – Steel, pewter, brass, bronze, cherry – by Bill Price

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G-11-12GA GooseGun, 2016 – Steel, shotgun, brass, maple, mahogany, bumper guards – by Bill Price

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Museum viewers reaction to this exhibit – some more informed than others

Besides the special gun exhibit, the museum also has metal pieces of beauty, humor, and whimsy.

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Metal flowers

metal-fence-copy

Beautiful metal gate

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Metal bird

 

Banner image:  Loaded Menorah 2, 2016 – 925 silver, altered handguns, gun barrels and gun components (steel) (weapons courtesy of Goods for Guns Anti-Violence Coalition, City of Pittsburgh, PA – by Boris Bally

P.S.  More information: in  the Columbia, South Carolina April 2, 2017 paper, The State,  p. 9A article by Lisa Marie Pane, “Once-booming gun industry recalibrating under Trump,” notes: “President Donald Trump promised to revive manufacturing in the United States, but there’s one once-burgeoning sector poised to shrink under his watch: the gun industry.

Fears of government limits on guns – some real, some perceived – led to a surge in demand during President Barack Obama’s tenure and manufacturers leaped to keep up.  Over the decade ending in 2015, the number of U.S. companies licensed to make firearms jumped a whopping 362 percent.  But sales are down and the bubble appears to be bursting with a staunch advocate for gun rights in the White House and Republicans ruling Congress.”

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In this March 9, 2017, photo, a row of AR-15 style rifles manufactured by Daniel Defense sit in a vault at the company’s headquarters in Black Creek. Ga.

Image from: https://www.scribd.com/article/343693403/Once-Booming-Gun-Industry-Now-Recalibrating-Under-Trump

May all guns remain in their vaults.

Go to the Metal Museum when you are in Memphis.  And let’s put guns to good use: transform them into art.   Aloha, Renée

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