First Minutes

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Before each workout of a marathon training session, especially the hard ones, there is an internal debate. I consider skipping it and doing something else. Most of the time I say to heck with skipping and just go out anyway. Usually it’s hard, usually there is struggle. And usually there are nice moments of realization that the difficulty is what I was seeking all along.

Full Circle

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It is ironic that bacteria and even smaller viruses can appear, invade, replicate and spread. Not only spread in a body, but spread from one body to another. Spread from one location to another. Be carried from building to building. Town to town. Country to country. Become a global pandemic. A tiny virus so small a microscope cannot resolve it.

The invention of the electron microscopes gave us a view of these tiny objects. The smallness of viruses makes them more easily moved and harder to control. Polio, Ebola and Flu need a human body to replicate. They also need large populations to become an outbreak, epidemic or pandemic.

Viruses show us that efficiency and replication are a basic life force. And uncontrolled can damage or kill the host. Are we a virus on the planet? Probably. Will the host survive? Definitely yes. Will the host be disfigured and crippled? Also yes.

It’s a fact that humans in small numbers could exist on the planet without destroying it. It was probably the invention of industrial agriculture that has allowed unchecked human overpopulation. So it is farmers that should be blamed for the destruction of the planet’s eco system. (Sarcasm intended)

It sad to think that we destroy the very thing that gave us life. Interplanetary space travel would only spread the human race like a virus infecting another host.

Trillions and Trillions

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The human body is made up of trillions of cells. The DNA within those cells is a code of genetic information and makes up the chromosomes. The chromosomes are the replicable sets of genetic information in the nucleus of each cell. The DNA in the chromosomes is made up of even smaller units. Six smaller molecules. The arrangement and order of these molecules makes up DNA.

It’s complicated. But it works. It works inside us everyday. Life, living, thriving and reproducing, even evolving. From the super small to the planetary scale. And even though we find it hard to visualize a trillion of anything. Life has organized many trillions of cells to make up our bodies.

Billions and Billions

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There are 7.5 billion people on the planet.

Some estimate that the earth can sustain 1.5 billion.

By the end of the century the planet may have 10 billion people.

Some estimates show a leveling off or slowing growth in population because of resource scarcity.

Consumption of resources is highly variable. This makes estimates of maximum population also highly variable.

These are very big numbers. And in my mind estimates of this scale are subject to large scale inaccuracies. But one fact that is without doubt is the numbers are large and the problems will be large as well.

Millions and Millions

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One hundred years ago in 1918 and 1919 the Spanish Flu mortality was 10-20%. A third of the world population was infected. Influenza. Killed. 50-100 million. 3% of the world population died.

Blue lips. Blackened skin. Blood leaking from noses and mouths. Coughing fits so intense they ripped muscles. Crippling headaches and body pains that felt like torture. These were the symptoms of a disease that was first recorded in Haskell County, Kansas, one hundred years ago.

It killed healthy young people. Coming at the end of World War 1 US life expectancy dropped 12 years.

Terrible and terrifying don’t begin to describe the horrors of so many deaths. Flu!

Get your flu shots every year. I have for several years now after learning about Spanish Flu from an audio book.

Tulsa Bombed

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Perpetrators posed for postcards while standing over the charred remains of black bodies. Some say the city of Tulsa is culpable in the massacre because it deputized white citizens, armed them and then stood aside as black people were shot in cold blood. Their houses were leveled by turpentine bombs dropped from airplanes, making Tulsa the only U.S. city ever bombed by air.

Tulsa, Oklahoma on May 31 and June 1, 1921 (99 years ago)

Millions of Americans knew nothing of the massacre until the hit HBO series Watchmen re-created the horror in its first episode last year.

That’s what we call forgotten history. Too embarrassing to talk about. Hidden, ugly truth. Mass graves are not only in ‘other’ places.

Wake Up

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Barron’s caught up with Jeremy Grantham, 81, at the Cayman Alternative Investment Summit.

Mike Bloomberg was a classmate at business school, and Tom Steyer is a buddy and colleague in climate work. They’re both very, very good on climate. So either of them would do very nicely. I’m also a great fan of interfering with corporate power. I think corporate power is weakening the U.S. capitalist system in particular, as well as the democratic system. And the people who look at that as No. 1 on the agenda are, of course Bernie Sanders, Tom Steyer, and Elizabeth Warren. That for me is an important issue.

People listen but don’t really take it in. If that continues, climate change is going to trample through your portfolio and kick its ass. And you have to care about it, because it’s not just an issue for your miserable portfolio. It’s an issue for your grandchildren. Capitalism has a way of taking perfectly reasonable human beings who play at the weekend with their grandchildren, who are occasionally altruistic, and turning them during the workweek into Milton Friedman zombies working to maximize short-term profit. If you said, “My only objective as a human being is to maximize my own advantages,” that’s a workable definition of sociopath. And yet that is what the corporations do. And we treat them as damned human beings. It’s remarkable. So wake up.

Life and Health

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Lifespan is the average age at death. 79 is about the average in the US today.

Healthspan is the average age before serious illness. 63 is the average in the US today.

What is serious illness? It’s cancer, cardiovascular disease, arthritis, diabetes, dementia or Alzheimer’s. Eighty percent of Americans 65 and older have one of these. Fifty percent of Americans 65 and older have two of these.

It’s pretty grim out there. The last years are not necessarily golden for many. Is it our fate? Is this a foregone conclusion? It might be if we don’t think about it. It might happen to us if we don’t do something about it. What do we do?We need to protect what we have. Improve where we can. And use what we have. But how?

The statistics show that the standard practice, the standard lifestyle, the standard diet is killing us. The modern medicine and pharmaceutical industry is failing to keep us healthy.

As I get older these thoughts are not just some abstract ideas. These are realities. Gut punch. Face slap. Body slam. Heart wrenched. Family and friends going down and not coming back. Tears fall. No joke.

Healthspan is a serious way to look at life. I might think of something as hard, impossible, embarrassing, risky, weird, different and feel fear. But to avoid the standard outcome of chronic illness I read. I think. I listen. I move. I run. I act deliberately. I care.