Archive for April, 2009

The Swine Flu and How To Keep Safe,

Posted in Natural Health on April 28, 2009 by chastoms
Are Masks And Washing Hands Enough?

Are Masks And Washing Hands Enough?

I have just sent a comment to Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s blog, Paging Dr. Gupta, with this comment on the Swine Flu.

“Hi Sanjay,

I am surprised by the fact that not one word has been mentioned about boosting the immune system by changing one’s diet, (ie. a more alkaline diet), cutting back on acid forming food,taking mega doses of vitamins and mineral supplements, especially vitamin C.

I don’t think washing one’s hands would be enough. It is also strange that people who are in the 20’s are the most affected in Mexico City. It could be probably be due to their lifestyles and diet, and also a generation of people who have been over exposed to antibiotics. Mexico City is also very polluted, with high levels of CO2. This may lead to a highly acidic blood, which may also lead to a weaker immune system.There are products in the market, like ‘Transfer Factor’ which may help boost the immune system. It is made from colostrum, which is safe and can be easily assimilated.

The way I see it, the over prescription of antibiotics, which are essentially toxic in nature, may have also been a contributing factor, that is, affecting the way our immune system behaves.

I live in Malaysia, where we were also exposed to the same problem, viz. The Nipah Virus. Thankfully we were lucky to contain it.

Be safe Sanjay!”

There is obviously a strong correlation between diet and the immune system. The more acidic the body is, the weaker your immune system becomes. The only remedy is to reduce acid forming food, and taking in a lot of green, leafy vegetables and fruits full of colour. I have an article called ‘Eat the Rainbow’ which would help explain a lot about our dietary habits. Of course food supplements such as multivitamins with minerals and  big doses of Vitamin C helps. Nobel Prize winner Dr. Linus Pauling recommends this. (Note that water soluble vitamins are safe, such as vitamin C, but you need to follow the recommended dosage for Vitamin A,D,E and K.) Colourful vegetables and fruits have a lot of anti-oxidants and bioflavonoids which will help reduce free radicals in our body, which are essentially acid forming. In short consume food which are alkaline in nature to neutralize the acids.

So eat right and stay healthy.

PS. I am providing a link to a site,’Natural News’, which provides information for ‘Transfer Factors’ and the benefits of Colostrum, which is used to boost the immune system.

http://www.naturalnews.com/009912.html

This is another article from the same site, about the over prescription of antibiotics and its consequences.

http://www.naturalnews.com/001670.html

Be safe everyone!

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Financial Intel

Posted in Financial Planning on April 18, 2009 by chastoms

Financial Intelnewsletter-volume-1-pg1_page_1newsletter-volume-1-pg2_page_2

(Please click on the Financial Intel link to download the PDF version of my newsletter from Rapidshare)

I published my Financial Planning newsletter, Financial Intel,back in June 2008, targeting anyone who is interested in saving and investing for a secure financial future, focusing on financial independence. I also wrote about the current financial crisis and what one should do to weather this storm.

My job now is to help people to be better prepared for retirement and financial crises, and show them ways they can reduce their expenses, increase their savings for investment, and to hedge against inflation. Basically helping people to leverage on their savings. Looking at the current financial scenario, banks are not able to give high interests on deposits. It now below 3%! The only way they could do it and in a safe way is to get a proper financial plan. Units trusts are deemed too risky because of the performance criteria place on the fund managers. Granted that their job is to maximize  returns, but they seem to disregard the risks. After all, it not their money! Their prime focus for them is also to get their ‘Awards’, which will help them get more investors. In Malaysia, a lot of people have had their fingers burnt, losing much of their hard earned savings to bad investment advice. Some of them have used their Employee Provident Fund (EPF) savings and have lost a bundle!

Investment Linked plans, or the Variable Life plans, as it is called in the US, is a much safer bet, because of the utilization of the ‘dollar cost averaging’ method. There is also a coverage, which is referred to as ‘insurance wrapping’, to help protect the investor. Banks and Unit Trust companies provide no such thing! Moreover, we help to spread the risk for the investor, and in the long run, the returns one will be getting will be a lot more than what one gets from the banks. Granted that the Unit Trust companies were able to give a bit more higher returns  when the market was bullish, but now, because of the global recession, the Unit Trust companies are doing badly.

As mentioned earlier, fund managers in these companies take a much higher risk on their investors monies, but when things take a bad turn, they fall down hard.There is nothing to cushion the fall. Currently, the scenario for the mutual fund market for Investment Linked plans is quite good because the share values of financially and fundamentally strong companies, especially in China, has been discounted up to 70%.Hence the rebound, which will be inevitable, based on the historical data form the past 70 odd years, will enable a lot of people to make a lot of money! As Billionaire Investor, Warren Buffet said, ‘We simply attempt to be fearful when others are greedy and to be greedy only when others are fearful’.

I have added in a link to my friend, mentor and associate, Dr. Jeffery Chiew, who is a financial planner par excellence. He financial planning enterprise is considered preeminent in the financial planning world, in Asia as well in America.  Dr Jeffrey is the Founder President of the Malaysian Association of Chartered Financial Consultants, President of the Chartered Financial Consultants Alumni, Asia Chairman of the International Association of Registered Financial Consultants, President of the Life Underwriting Sales Executive Board, and listed in the Who’s Who in Malaysia and the New Malaysian Who’s Who.

Dr. Jeffrey has just published a financial planning book,’The Millionaire Formula’, and it is currently the top selling book in MPH for over 4 months, in Malaysia. In it, he emphasized this fact that everyone needs to have at least a million is saving after retirement. Why? Because based on the current Fixed Deposit returns on savings, it is currently about 3% (at it will be going lower still!). This gives about 30K as interests earned annually, which works out to  $2500 per month. Enough for anyone to have a reasonably comfortable life after retirement, provided that inflation and life-style remains the same.

The link to his blog is:
http://themillionaireformula.blogspot.com/

The Case Against Capital Punishment

Posted in Generalist on April 18, 2009 by chastoms
Does the punishment justify the crime?

Does the punishment justify the crime?

There is nothing humane in capital punishment! In some countries, suicide is a crime, but when it comes to capital punishment these very countries have the power to take away a life through capital punishment.They say, on one hand, that suicide or even euthanasia is immoral and unethical but on the other hand,they are ‘baying for blood’ by enforcing capital punishment by calling it Justice. There is no ‘justice’ here. It is vengeance,’an eye for an eye’ pure and simple. For that matter, embryonic stem-cell research is also considered immoral and unethical in these very countries, but when capital punishment is called into question, the powers that be always turn a blind eye.

What the State is doing, be it communist or otherwise, is actually trying to usurp the power of God.They want the populace to toe the line, saying such measures will be a deterrent to crime, but there is no evidence to suggest that. There are no penological or sociological evidence to back it. Such crimes has been going on since time immemorial, and Man being Man has a propensity for crime.

Francis Bacon said,’every man is a potential murderer!‘. Man kills in so many different ways and society and the powers that be can deem it to be ethical or moral or even justifiable, like in the case of self-defence or during a war, which is becoming much more of a grey area than ever before. Demagogic tyrants, who call themselves politicians, who are drunk with power, that is power over life, who claim to supposedly  look out for the ‘greater good’, have agendas which are Machiavellian is nature.They are no better than the Roman rulers who decide whether the Gladiator in the Coliseum, lives or dies with a ‘thumbs up’ or ‘thumbs down’.

To call ourselves civilized now is to be a bit too premature in reality.We, as human beings still seem to carry the barbaric nature of the ancients, until and unless we truly see the truth about ourselves and the world at large. It seems to me that morality and ethics have taken a back seat to ‘justice’ in our present age!

Go Electric!

Posted in Technology on April 18, 2009 by chastoms

TESLA - The car and the man.For more than 20 years I have been ranting and raving about the electric car and the benefits it will bring to the world and the environment. Even in our own shores, PK Electronics managed to get into the Malaysian Book of Records with the fastest electric race car at that time. The story goes that PK Electronics tried to get a motor from Eastern Europe, I think it was Poland. The motor they wanted was actually meant for a torpedo, because it had low power consumption and high rev and torque. The electric car never took of even in the 70’s because the powers that be, that is the oil companies and governments with vested interests, would have none of it. Nicolai Tesla, a prodigious genius, was way ahead of his time but yet again the then US govt tried to stifle, or even steal his inventions. Even the FBI, the Feds and the whole shebang of govt baddies, tried to make him out as a crack pot. Tesla was an associate of Edison, and it was a known fact the Edison was extremely jealous of him. Westinghouse, GE and other power companies, tried to buy his ideas on the sole intention of burying it! Why you may ask? Because, what will happen to these mega companies if electricity was produced cheaply? That will be the death knell for oil and power companies. Anyway, without his ideas, there would not be radios, TVs, Florescent Tubes, AC electric transmissions and motors. And the list could go on and on!

I have my uncle’s 1956 Popular Mechanics magazine; there is a small solar powered transistor radio up for sale in it. Though, even at that time, solar power was in its infancy and it has been more that fifty years since that invention,  to date not much progress has been made to make it available cheaply. In countries like Malaysia, where the sun shines practically throughout the year; there is less use of that technology. In Klang, where I live, that technology is only seen on Parking Meters! In Sweden, where the sun does not shine as much, it is used throughout the country! Why you may ask again? Again, it’s because the mega oil corporations who are also major share holders in the power generation companies have a vested interests in such technologies. Solar cells, electric cars are a death knell to their businesses. Hence, oil companies such as BP, are already taking control of such solar power technologies. Why? Just to have a monopoly over power generation. But they claim that it is because of their concern for the environment. Hogwash! It is now high time for us consumers to make these things known for our future generation and for the future of our Planet!

Not Mere Ramblings

Posted in Generalist on April 18, 2009 by chastoms

The Face Of Hope?

The Face Of Hope?

Not Mere Ramblings

President Obama’s move to allow embryonic stem cell research, after 8 years of restriction on federal funding on such research by the Bush administration, could not have come at a more opportune time. This measure made on the part of President Obama in reversing his predecessors Neo-conservative policies was viewed as a stumbling block for the development of potentially lifesaving medical technologies. I cannot help but notice how odd the Republican Party’s stand on stem-cell research is. The party’s stand on such research as being unethical seems to be more politically motivated than being based on religious grounds. Could it also be because there is a sinister conspiracy within the pharmaceutical companies to stop such research work because there will be more to lose than to gain if such medical technologies were available, since there will be drop in demand for their drugs? Are the drug manufacturer’s lobbyists in the US Senate working hand in glove with the FDA to stop such research and the only weapon they have to stop such research is to use ethics, as a reason? Is the FDA’s top brass having vested interests in stem-cell research? All these questions come to mind because the whole scenario is becoming Machiavellian in nature, and this is the stuff of conspiracy theorists. It also seems odd that when the Bush administration was harping on its ethical stand on stem-cell research it was also condoning capital punishment in the US. Both stem-cell research and capital punishment questions the sanctity of life. The issue of when a human embryo really becomes a human being, that is, is it at time of conception or after a few weeks from conception, is yet to be fully answered. That question is still in a philosophical and theological wilderness, and the scientific and religious community is still deliberating on that matter. This brings us to the whole question of where America stands on the issue of Statehood, what the fundamental beliefs of Americans are as a whole, and how the US Constitution is being interpreted by Neo-conservatives, with regards to science and religious beliefs, in relation with the rest of the world and for the good of all.

If all life is sacred, the Bush administration should have put a ban on capital punishment as well, like most of Europe, and not hide behind the US Constitution and Federal laws. The state of Texas, in which George Bush was Governor, has one of the highest numbers of people on death-row. Bush was condoning capital punishment on one hand and demonising stem-cell research on the other, whereas most of Europe and in some parts of the world; which are not dictated by outmoded ideologies, have liberalized the research on embryonic stem-cell research, with some imposed restrictions, of course. What gives? If capital punishment is ‘justifiable’ and now ‘ethical’, because those people who are for capital punishment are now saying that there are more ‘humane’ ways to kill a person on death-row, such as with drugs, are more twisted than a pretzel! In the name of justice, ethics and morality have taken a back seat. The State has usurped the will of God, in a manner of speaking. Even in the case of euthanasia, the individual has no power over his own life, but the State has the power to take away a human life in the name of justice. This reeks of double standards.

It was the same sort of people, the narrow-minded Neo-conservatives – maybe they are the philosophical remnants of the Confederate States during the American Civil war; of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, with the Dixieland flag flying in the background, and their Anglo-Saxon Protestant beliefs –who have a twisted view of the world, which was succinctly epitomized by the Bush administration. The world was black and white to them. There were no shades of grey. Remember, ‘you are with us or against us’; and terrorists were referred to as ‘evil folks’ by Mr. Bush? There is no such thing as a truly good or truly evil person; that view is subjective and relative and has no logical basis. Even during the Revolutionary War for Independence, the British branded the American patriots as terrorists. One man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist. Singer, songwriter Sting wrote a song called Russians in which he wrote, ‘the Russians love their children too’. These people are a small minority who live in world of their own making, a planet called America. They are totally cut-off from reality, and are causing a lot of problems both inside and outside the US. Take the Iraq war for instance, which was totally unjustifiable. WMD indeed! I can still picture General Colin Powel holding a bottle of some white powder in the UN General Assembly, all for dramatic effect! To regain the respect of the world, the US should take stock on its foreign policies and begin by liberalizing its world vision and not be taken in by the ‘New World Order’ gobbledegook promulgated by George Bush Senior and the Neo-conservatives. Hillary, Madam Secretary of State, the world is watching you with weighted breath!

If the US wants to gain the respect from the world’s intelligentsia and socio-political observers in particular and the rest of us in general, it has to change it stance, or it will be left behind in the wake of China and India. To have an economically powerful China at this time may destabilize the geo-political situation in the world. India is a different matter altogether. It has its own demons to fend off. But it is good to note that until today, India has not invaded another sovereign nation. The world needs a more rational and strong America; economically, politically and technologically, and a country built on strong moral principles to reign in such states. One must still remember that China is still a Communist state, with an ideology which is becoming obsolete, and the powers that be are willing to go to great lengths to exert their influence over their people, not to mention their stranglehold on Tibet and Taiwan. China’s human rights record stinks to high heaven, Tiananmen Square and all that, and it has the highest cases of people being put to death by the State, and they are now flexing their military muscle. America seems to be closing one eye to all these issues, because of this axiom, ‘the business of America is business’; double standards yet again. Remember the Yahoo! issue? These things are happening right now in China, as I write. Mr. Obama has to take the Republican ‘bull-elephant’ by the tusks and overhaul America’s philosophical base, or the world would be in dire straits. The self-indulgent and instant gratification seeking generation of the baby boomers, the NRA card carrying members and the Unionists, have taken America for a ride and at great costs, to the detriment of honest and hardworking citizens, and apparently Rush Limbaugh, has now become the epitome of it!

The financial crisis was inevitable. That is the reality of economics cycles, from boom to bust. George Soros had the foresight to warn the US and the world of an imminent financial or credit crisis in his book ‘The Credit Crunch of 2008’. Americans are being paid too much for too little work and they are losing their jobs to India and China, simply because of lower costs and higher productivity. The US cannot hide behind NAFTA or other similar trade agreements and organizations like the WTO. America now needs to realign its business strategy to create more jobs, more value and be more innovative. It is a known fact that government cannot create jobs, it is just an illusion. Entrepreneurs create jobs. People like Steve Jobs create jobs! Granted, Mr. Obama is just using the same method utilized by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) during the Great Depression. The media, like FOX and CNBC failed to mention that and were somewhat critical of what Mr. Obama is initiating to revive the economy. The fact is, what the Obama administration is doing is exactly what Roosevelt had done for his New Deal; ‘a car in ever porch and chicken on every table’ promise. He initiated the public works projects to create more jobs, and he got his advice from the British Economist, John Maynard Keynes, to pull America out of the Depression by way of the ‘Multiplier Effect’. Simply put, spending on public utilities will help revive businesses. His radical idea that governments should spend money they don’t have may have saved America form total financial collapse then. Any Economist worth his salt would vouch for that, but there is also a saying that when 10 economists gather together, there would be 11 opinions! But then again, the Nobel Prize winner, Professor Paul A. Samuelson, a ‘generalist’ and an economist, may also concur, but I am equally surprised that no one seems seek his advice, granted that he is in his 90’s now.

What America really needs now is a confidence boost, which is what Mr. Obama is doing now. Roosevelt said, ‘there is nothing to fear but fear itself’, during his inaugural speech. This phrase was written by non other than Napoleon Hill, a famous writer and motivator, author of ‘The Laws of Success’ and ‘Think & Grow Rich’. Roosevelt knew that to get the people out of the quagmire of the Depression was to help his people to get out of their psychological funk. America is great because of the spirit of its people, not its military strength, its cities and Hollywood. It is the entrepreneurial spirit and innovations of people like Ford and Edison, Jobs and Gates, who helped build America, the way it is today. Now America has been given second wind somewhat, by way of Mr. Obama, to revive its economy, by investing in the green revolution, researching and investing on alternative energy sources, possibly through concepts created by the genius Nicolai Tesla; by utilizing wind, solar and water power resources, to be less dependent on Arab oil, which was the primary cause of all the Geo-political mess in the Middle-east.

President Obama’s ‘Yes We Can’ clarion call may be the right antidote for the current crisis; to get the American people out of their financial rut. Wall Street is recoiling now because of the crises of confidence, not because the fundamentals; the fundamentals are strong in America. Why not follow Warren Buffet’s investment criteria or advice, when he says, ‘We simply attempt to be fearful when others are greedy and to be greedy only when others are fearful’? To get back investor confidence and trust in funds and investment as a whole, there should be more transparency and regulations to keep Wall Street in check, so that people like Maddoff who made off with a lot of peoples hard earned cash with his Ponzi schemes will be put in their rightful place, in the pen. Another writer, Nassim Nicholas Taleb who wrote the book, ‘The Black Swan’ states that the lure of fast and easy money is caused by lazy investors, which is in fact axiomatic’! He also said, to quote, “ The Federal Reserve Bank protected them at our expense: when “conservative” bankers make profits, they get the benefits ; when they are hurt, we pay the costs.”

Probably the first stage for the recovery plan is to initiate the public works programs, building roads and bridges etc., to create jobs for the jobless, which was the Keynesian model used by Roosevelt in the first place. But during his time, the 2nd World War helped to spur the US Economy,  by helping to revive its steel and core manufacturing industries, needed for the building of planes and ships which requires a lot of manpower. Technology reached its zenith during this time; when the A-bomb was dropped in Japan, which was not a proud moment in human history.

There are a few hawkish Neo-conservative intellectuals in the US, ex-generals and military strategists, who believe that only a big war can revive the economy. One wonders whether the US military complex needs it more, or is it the country. The way things are going on in our planet, we do not need another war. The world does not need a belligerent America, but a more kindly and amiable friend, an ally.

The war on terror is a misnomer. Why, because unlike WW2, we knew who the enemy was, which were the Axis powers. Now, everyone who professes to be a Muslim is a potential enemy. All this thanks to Neo-conservatism. The war on cancer would have been a more rewarding endeavor. America need not go to war to revive its economy, or to get more oil to feed its addiction for fuel, or to help the fat cats maintain their lifestyles propped up by their lobbyists. It is time for America to start innovating again to revive its economy, investing in technologies which will help save the planets environment, new energy resources and strategies and less energy dependent technologies. Not creating more government agencies, that will eventually become self-serving, bloated and corrupt and obviously not more military machines.

American economist and sociologist, Thorstein Veblen, one of the most creative and influential minds in American social thought, coined the concept of ‘conspicuous consumption’. To take a quote from the website in his honor, The Veblenite, ‘he condemned the acquisitiveness and wastefulness of the newly wealthy “leisure class” ‘.Veblen, prophet like, foresaw what America, and also the developed and developing world are experiencing now. The need to have rather that the need to be has been the prime motivator of Americans in this generation since the baby boomers era. For the sake of the planets survival, and indeed humanity, this insanity has to stop.

I feel we are coming into a new Utopian age, an age where less is more and an age where all humanity have a common vision of brotherhood and goodwill, and a time where America can come of age and lead the way for the rest of the world. Let Dr. Martin Luther King’s speech, “I have a dream….” and the words of America’s founding fathers in the American Declaration of Independence, who wrote, “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness’”, be also applicable to all of humanity on this planet. When they wrote ‘all men’, they did not just mean Americans, but every living human being on this planet, regardless of colour, creed or affiliation. That is why America is admired, and like any human being she has her foibles but I say again America is coming of age now. To quote Paul Simon, in his song America, ‘They’ve all come to look for America.’ All is not lost. Pandora’s Box still has Hope in it! And the world is waiting for America to show the way out.