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Saturday, May 31, 2014

First-quarter GDP beats most estimates, but in the wrong direction

Ben D. Kritz
Ben D. Kritz
Just days after a cringe-inducing exercise in self-aggrandizement at the World Economic Forum meeting by President B.S. Aquino 3rd and His Merry Men, the country’s first-quarter GDP growth figures beat every forecast, coming in at a disappointing 5.7 percent.
Prior to Thursday’s announcement by the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) a parade of Administration officials had reassured various media outlets the figure would be in the upper half of the government’s 6.5-percent to 7.5-percent target, while outside analysts’ estimates ranged from a low of about 6 percent by Barclay’s Bank and HSBC to a high of 6.7 percent by Moody’s Analytics; local banking giant Metrobank pegged the expected growth at 6.1 percent, while a poll of readers conducted by BusinessWorld resulted in an optimistic 6.55-percent estimate.
Before Sonny Coloma or Cesar Purisima steps forward to say something bizarre about the unexpectedly low Q1 result (which is probably too late at this point, since my columns are typically written a day or two before they appear), let me explain what the official Administration comment should be: While lower than anticipated, a 5.7-percent growth rate is still respectably strong, and the Philippines continues to outperform most of the region in this respect, having only been topped by China’s 7.4 percent first-quarter growth and a 6.2-percent expansion in Malaysia.
The Philippines’ first-quarter figures are also based on a fairly high benchmark, the 7.7-percent growth in Q1 2013; this was actually something HSBC considered in making its 6-percent forecast, which at the time (about two weeks ago) drew some snippy reactions from government economic planners for being pessimistically low. Therefore, “less than we hoped, but still very good” is probably the safest and most reasonably honest response the government could make.
Of course, as we have continually pointed out, just because GDP growth is the common denominator in comparing the performance of national economies, it is not necessarily the most comprehensive or realistic indicator of the true state of the economy. The paradox of strong GDP growth and downbeat real-world circumstances of persistently high unemployment, poverty, and income inequality rates has been discussed ad infinitum, and that conversation will continue until the two sets of indicators get at least a little closer to actually reflecting each other.
But even within its own, somewhat, narrow context, there are some worrying signs in the otherwise-adequate Q1 outcome:
• Government spending was stagnant: While much of the lower-than-expected output was attributed to the lingering impact of last year’s Typhoon Yolanda, the lack of effort to overcome those effects is reflected in the paltry 2-percent increase in government spending year-on-year, which, given the country’s continuing population increase of just under 2-percent annually, means that government spending was essentially flat. Two entire quarters—the fourth quarter of 2013 and the first quarter of 2014—have passed since Yolanda carved a path of destruction across the nation’s midsection, yet government economic activity appears to be geared toward carrying on as though nothing had happened.
• Fixed capital formation in construction retracted, again: Construction had double-digit growth for five straight quarters between Q2 2012 and Q2 2013 before tailing off to a more modest 3.9-percent growth in the third quarter of last year. Since then, however, construction has declined for two straight quarters, although Q1’s 0.9-percent drop was an improvement over the more than 4 percent decline in the fourth quarter of last year. Again, it should be noted (with stern disapproval) that these were the post-Yolanda quarters, in which a large section of the country presented a ready-made opportunity for a huge boost in construction numbers.
• Industry growth has been cut in half: Growth in the industrial sector in Q1 was actually a 6.8-percent decline from Q4 2013, but that is not actually outside the normal up-and-down, quarter-to-quarter pattern; it is, however, a somewhat larger gap than in the past couple of years. The difference was only 4.9 percent between the first quarter of 2013 and the last quarter of 2012, and 6.3 percent between Q1 2012 and Q4 2011. What is, perhaps, a reason for more concern is the 5.5 percent year-on-year growth in Q1 2014, which is less than half the 11.34-percent expansion recorded the previous year. To be fair to the NSCB, they did actually acknowledge this in so many words, but doing so after characterizing the overall 5.7-percent GDP growth as being “driven by” industry growth tends to be misleading about the implications of rapidly-slowing industrial expansion.
• Exports and imports are virtually equal components of the economy: Exports make up 38 percent of the economy, while imports have a 38.5-percent expenditure share. For a well-developed and diversified economy that would not be a bad situation, as it would represent only a relatively minor trade deficit that could easily be absorbed by other parts of the economy. For a developing economy like the Philippines, however, it is a sign that consumption is outrunning production, which is, in turn, a sign that the economy is not growing in a sustainable fashion. Government planners could argue that is also part of a typical up-and-down pattern to the economy, and in a certain sense they would be correct, but in another sense, the “up-and-down” pattern is exactly the problem. For all the spin about “inclusive growth” and “lasting gains,” the Aquino Administration has failed to produce anything even remotely resembling an identifiable positive trend, and seems fated to leave the economy in pretty much exactly the same way it found it: having some positive potential, but saddled with terminal issues the country or its leadership has yet to find the imagination to solve.

Remember Our Veterans

This Captain, an Army doctor, deserves a medal himself for putting this together. If you choose not to pass it on, fine; but I think you will want to after you read it.
Description:                                            CA7D6EA62CCE419FB1FD7E6AB16EC0B1@BettyPC

Description:                                           334653B63FB249FD8BEB47DDE14DE854@BettyPC
I am a doctor specializing in the Emergency Departments of the only two military LevelOne-Trauma Centers, both in San Antonio, TX; and they care for civilian emergencies as well as military personnel.  San Antonio has the largest military retiree population in the world living here. As a military doctor, I work long hours and the pay is less than glamorous.  One tends to become jaded by the long hours, lack of sleep, food, family contact, and the endless parade of human suffering passing before you.  The arrival of another ambulance does not mean more pay, only more work. Most often, it is a victim from a motor vehicle crash.
Description:                                           596613A816A84E72B01E94D79AD84150@BettyPC

Often it is a person of dubious character who has been shot or stabbed.  With our large military retiree population, it is often a nursing home patient.  Even with my enlisted service and minimal combat experience in Panama, I have caught myself groaning when the ambulance brings in yet another sick, elderly person from one of the local retirement centers that cater to military retirees.  I had not stopped to think of what citizens of this age group represented.
Description:                                           27B994CD0244492CB121807E69EE4E46@BettyPC
I saw 'Saving Private Ryan.' I was touched deeply. Not so much by the carnage but by the sacrifices of so many.  I was touched most by the scene of the elderly survivor at the graveside, asking his wife if he'd been a good man.  I realized that I had seen these same men and women coming through my Emergency Dept. and had not realized what magnificent sacrifices they had made. The things they did for me and everyone else that has lived on this planet since the end of that conflict are priceless.
Description:                                           593BD6B524144847A7463FBCC9F563D5@BettyPC

Situation permitting, I now try to ask my patients about their experiences.  They would never bring up the subject without my inquiry.  I have been privileged to hear an amazing array of experiences, recounted in the brief minutes allowed in an Emergency Dept. encounter.  These experiences have revealed the incredible individuals I have had the honor of serving in a medical capacity, many on their last admission to the hospital.
Description:                                              78D3714B11944A0DB4505A6BCF7A9F3C@BettyPC
There was a frail, elderly woman who reassured my young enlisted medic, trying to start an IV line in her arm.  She remained calm and poised, despite her illness and the multiple needle-sticks into her fragile veins.  She was what we call a 'hard stick.'  As the medic made another attempt, I noticed a number tattooed across her forearm. I touched it with one finger and looked into her eyes.  She simply said, ' Auschwitz .'  Many of later generations would have loudly and openly berated the young medic in his many attempts. How different was the response from this person who'd seen unspeakable suffering.
Description:                                              33072911C3D946A89C9CCACE6179AB98@BettyPC
Also, there was this long retired Colonel, who as a young officer had parachuted from his burning plane over a Pacific Island held by the Japanese. Now an octogenarian, he had a minor cut on his head from a fall at his home where he lived alone. His CT scan and suturing had been delayed until after midnight by the usual parade of high priority ambulance patients.  Still spry for his age, he asked to use the phone to call a taxi, to take him home, then he realized his ambulance had brought him without his wallet. He asked if he could use the phone to make a long distance call to his daughter who lived 7 miles away. With great pride we told him that he could not, as he'd done enough for his country and the least we could do was get him a taxi home, even if we had to pay for it ourselves.  My only regret was that my shift wouldn't end for several hours, and I couldn't drive him myself.
Description:                                           15114C11B17942FF8F4C39839410F3DC@BettyPC
I was there the night M/Sgt Roy Benavidez came through the Emergency Dept. for the last time.  He was very sick.  I was not the doctor taking care of him, but I walked to his bedside and took his hand.  I said nothing.  He was so sick he didn't know I was there.  I'd read his Congressional Medal of Honor citation and wanted to shake his hand.  He died a few days later.
Description:                                           71ABE67C9FCE4786B2A3056E51F9FB73@BettyPC
The gentleman who served with Merrill's Marauders,
Description:                                           2D30FF6D34B74D5CB2ADAF6894C6A164@BettyPC
the survivor of the Bataan Death March,
Description:                                             FFFA7609EDEC421A9FF17FBCC141304D@BettyPC
the survivor of Omaha Beach ,
Description:                                           20C13DFCFCAD4447BF073DD5311F2BA3@BettyPC
the 101 year old World War I veteran.
Description:                                           089A0EC3144A4892BD78A4DB1E97A038@BettyPC
The former POW held in frozen North Korea
Description:                                           7478710B8EDA487BAB240C1D85924FD9@BettyPC
The former Special Forces medic - now with non-operable liver cancer
Description:                                           5D3348884324471099D8B48B87EF382E@BettyPC
the former Viet Nam Corps Commander..
Description:                                            29B82C314AE340A38CCDFD3220CF7C6B@BettyPC
I may still groan when yet another ambulance comes in, but now I am much more aware of what an honor it is to serve these particular men and women.
Description:                                           2C41B734137042FDB94E0E0CBFEA93AB@BettyPC
I have seen a Congress who would turn their back on these individuals who've sacrificed so much to protect our liberty.  I see later generations that seem to be totally engrossed in abusing these same liberties, won with such sacrifice.
Description:                                           42186C244B554241B98A97091BD92464@BettyPC
It has become my personal endeavor to make the nurses and young enlisted medics aware of these amazing individuals when I encounter them in our Emergency Dept.  Their response to these particular citizens has made me think that perhaps all is not lost in the next generation.
Description:                                           121CCDACFAF64D2DB885087F94A4047B@BettyPC
My experiences have solidified my belief that we are losing an incredible generation, and this nation knows not what it is losing.  Our uncaring government and ungrateful civilian populace should all take note.  We should all remember that we must 'Earn this.'
Description:                                             75B13A0019EE404C8BE82A6A084EF6D0@BettyPC
Written By CAPT. Steven R. Ellison, M.D. US Army.
If it weren't for the United States Military, there'd be 'NO' United States of America !
Steven Ellison, MD
And now as you have finished reading this, our Congress that enjoys their free medical care are in the process of charging these people for their medical care and at the same time possibly reducing their retirement pay. A typical political "Thank you."  This should be required reading in every school and college in our country.  This Captain, an Army doctor, deserves a medal himself for putting this together.  If you choose not to pass it on, fine; but I think you will want to.
In God We Trust!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Back in the 1970s Swiss watchmakers were panicked silly by digital watches

May 30, 2014
by benign0
Smartwatches seem to be the next big thing techno investors and marketers are counting on to “disrupt” the market. But unlike the late Steve Jobs’ iPod, iPhone and iPad, and even his and Woz’s Apple II and the original smiling Macintosh computer, the smartwatch was something already dreamed up by Gene Roddenberry (creator of Star Trek) and Gerry Anderson (creator of Thunderbirds are Go!) way back in the 1960s.
'Someday, all watches will be made this way' - 1970s Seiko Quartz ad
‘Someday, all watches will be made this way’ – 1970s Seiko Quartz ad
If there is a common denominator to these biggest of success stories in techo land, it is that they involve products never foreseen before. The success of the microcomputer in the 1970s, for example, is framed by what Thomas Watson Senior, Chairman of the IBM corporation, said in the 1960s: “I think there is a world market for about five computers.” And we all know now that Facebook took the world by storm when all the Wall Street analysts were singing praises to the gods of “online retailing”.
Perhaps we haven’t learned from all those calculator watches and multi-button contraptions Casio, Seiko, and Citizen put on our wrists back in the 1970s. Even the Swiss watchmakers, panicked to a frenzy by the onslaught of “digital” back then, came up with their own me-too products. The man of the 70s back then thought having “dual time” (the other clock set to ‘Paris’) on his modern liquid crystal display quartz timepiece complemented the pack of Peter Stuyvesant cigarettes (“Your international passport to smoking pleasure”) he whips out while chatting up the stewardess pouring him a stiff drink in the smoking section of his Pan Am flight.
Fast forward to today.
Consider this latest news piece from Mashable. It makes wearing a heart rate monitor-equipped “smartwatch” sound so cool
The watch will reportedly have heart rate monitoring capabilities and a two-day battery life.
Citing “multiple sources with knowledge of the company’s plans,” Forbes reports the watch will rely on technology used by Xbox Kinect engineers to enable the watch to track its wearer’s heart rate at all times.
And here I was thinking that “millenials” are that new demographic-of-coolness marketers salivate over. I can’t really say, however, that I’ve ever come across a 20-something who’d even checked her pulse more than once every two years.
Perhaps the real market for these “wearables” is the vast army of baby boomers coming into their retirement years over the next couple decades. They are out there, wisened and aged and rarin’ to spend these millenials’ inheritances before they croak — the perfect people to be wired with body function telemetry technology that would make Formula One engineers drool!
Interesting times ahead.


benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.

Typhoon Haiyan victims to be showcased to European delegates as ‘poster children’ of ‘resilience’

May 30, 2014
by benign0
So now the disaster left by supertyphoon Haiyan (a.k.a. Yolanda) that struck central Philippines in November 2013 will serve as a platform to “showcase” Filipino “resilience” to European delegates visiting Manila next month. From the 4th through the 6th of June, the Philippines will be hosting the Asia Europe Meeting’s (ASEM) Manila Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM). The initiative, organised by the Philippine government, reportedly aims to “draw lessons from Super Typhoon Yolanda.”
The star of the show will, of course, be Filipinos exhibiting their world-renowned “resilience”…
“We are the poster child of resiliency and we have been cited for our resilience and other international conferences have referred to the Philippines because of our determination to rise up again and again,” Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Asec. Maria Zeneida Angara Collinson, chair of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Manila conference, said in a press conference Thursday.
I wonder what it is like being a victim of a supertyphoon like Haiyan and being spoken for by bozos like these — being made a “showcase” to a bunch of foreign delegates. Indeed, when citations are made by foreigners, Pinoy Pride quickly wells up. Indeed, it is true. Filipinos “rise up again and again” from disasters — because the same problems keep beating them down again and again.
The Philippines chronically lacks a domestic capability to help itself.
The Philippines chronically lacks a domestic capability to help itself.
One wonders what it is exactly Filipinos need to learn about disaster risk reduction management from all these foreign delegates when there are enough people on the ground who have had direct experience dealing with the aftermath of devastating typhoons. Indeed, a lack of will amongst the powers-that-be in Philippine government to listen to real experts was exhibited in full living colour to the world at the height of the Haiyan crisis when no less than Philippine President Benigno Simeon ‘BS’ Aquino III insisted on grossly underestimating the initial death toll estimates in the days following Haiyan’s exit…
According to President BS Aquino, the original estimated death toll of 10,000 “came from local officials who perhaps were ‘too close’ to the center of destruction to make an accurate guess.” That official, Elmer Soria, the chief superintendent for the central Philippines province of Leyte, was reportedly fired for “sharing the alarming estimate, which was quickly a focus of reports from the local news media and international news organizations.” The official explanation issued by the Philippine National Police (PNP) was that Soria was “relieved from his post” because “he might need to go through a stress debriefing.”
The Philippines isn’t lacking in experts in the field of managing the handling and processing of large numbers of dead bodies following a major calamity either. Yet, Filipino officials broke all the rules nonetheless. Many of these competent disaster management professionals, like Soria in the above example, were swamped by the triumph of all the wrong arguments and the views of the ill-informed.
President BS Aquino reportedly responded to criticism his office had been receiving regarding the snail-paced release of reports of the death toll with this doozy: “It’s because you have to make sure that there is the certification or a coroner’s report before it is made official,” apparently ignorant of the fact that there is no such thing as a Coroner’s Office in the Philippines. Noted forensic expert Dr Raquel Fortun cited this demonstration of the President’s astounding ignorance as just one among other appalling instances of the Philippine government’s ineptitude that left her feeling “burned” from the whole experience of trying to directly contribute to the relief effort.
Fortun and her group started on November 18 but had to pack their bags after five days. This was after the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) questioned their mode of identification.
NBI officer-in-charge Medardo de Lemos already apologized, noting it was only a misunderstanding between the two camps. Fortun was with experts from the Department of Health and World Health Organization, while the NBI sought the help of the Interpol.
And no amount of money and other resources thrown into the relief effort could beat the institutionalised thievery and renowned doctrine of incompetence-as-state-policy that characterises everything about the Philippines…
Official incompetence has also been painfully evident in this government’s phlegmatic response to super typhoon Yolanda and its disastrous aftermath. Slow and inefficient in bringing relief immediately after the storm, the government has also dragged its feet in rebuilding the typhoon-battered areas.
Today, seven months after the storm killed more than 6,000 people and rendered half a million more homeless in the Visayas, the administration has yet to come up with a master plan for the rehabilitation of the affected areas. And, despite the generous outpouring of aid from all over the world, the government has not spent a single centavo for temporary shelters needed in Tacloban City, which suffered the most from the typhoon. The ones that exist in the city today have all been built with privately donated funds.
The prospects for a full rehab of the areas devastated by Haiyan has long been recognised as being dim and much of the relief goods and funds donated all but going to waste. This is in considering the Philippines’ mediocre track record of taking full advantage of otherwise abundant resources at its disposal. Early reports on the snail-paced and disorganised disaster response mounted by the Philippines immediately following early revelations of the full extent of the devastation wrought by Haiyan were quite telling. Even as vast sums of money and resources came pouring in to aid the relief effort, the astounding inefficiency of the Philippine bureaucracy was all but fatal so much so as to bring to serious question the recovery prospects of Tacloban City and other affected areas.
To now organise and host — likely to the tune of millions of dollars — an international conference to “learn” from the Haiyan experience would have come across as laughable if it weren’t for the mind-numbing tragedy that frames it. An abundance of lessons and local expertise to champion these lessons are sitting right under Filipinos’ noses all but under-appreciated. And in this age of readily-accessible knowledge, flying in delegates from Europe for another talk-fest about Yolanda is just plain dumb.
[Photo courtesy International Business Times.]


benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.

The Philippines’ current situation: nakakapang-init ulo

May 29, 2014
by FallenAngel
As the rainy season draws near, it’s impossible to ignore the fact that the social, economic, and political scenes in the Philippines these past few months brought Filipinos face-to-face with very heated situations. The rise in temperature when talking about the weather in the Philippines is enough to cause one to blow his/her top.

We have a word for this in the vernacular: nakakapang-init ulo.
The situation with Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda? More than 6 months after the tragedy struck, progress on the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the affected areas has been reportedly moving at a glacial pace. And it seems that like a lot of other things in the Philippines, it has been bogged down by petty, unnecessary politics. Add to that the recent news about a fire razing a temporary shelter, which apparently, has hardly made top headline news among the local media outfits.
The public transport issue in the Metro, in particular with the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) is enough to make one’s blood boil. Daily commuters are forced to face very long queues, frequent breakdowns in service, the harrowing experience of being packed in a sardine can, and the long-standing lack of courtesy and discipline among the riders. There is no doubt that the MRT system needs to be upgraded; it just seems that the authorities have either been taking their sweet time with it, or telling the public to deal with it, or, unsurprisingly, involving themselves is questionable deals. The MRT-3 is a disaster waiting to happen, as has been pointed previously in the Philippine Star.
The pork barrel “scam” is getting out of hand. The focus now is on the several versions of “lists” that are out there. It’s become quite irritating, to say the least, that many still think that if the Senate investigates itself then something useful will come out of it. Another thing that has become quite annoying is that there are those who still insist that president Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino is still honest and not corrupt. As has been pointed out, the allocation of pork barrel has actually gotten bigger during his term. And even if he is not corrupt, the significance of it is negligible, because he has either done nothing to stop it or is just plain powerless in keeping those under him from doing so. It’s quite simple really; as has been pointed out many times, all BS Aquino had to do at the start of his term was tell Budget Secretary Butch Abad to get rid of the pork barrel allocations, yet he didn’t.
Somehow related to the rise in temperatures is the fact that there have long been warnings of both an electricity and water shortage in Metro Manila and other parts of the country. It is hard to get the impression that our government is doing something about this; they seem more concerned with preserving their own self-interests than they are making things more bearable for the people whom they swore to serve.
Granted, the weather is something we could do the least about; the soaring temperatures are best beaten by putting oneself near sources of air-conditioning. But all these other “problems” that the Philippines is currently facing – the aftermath of Haiyan, the MRT breakdown, the pork barrel scam, and the pending electricity and water crises – are things which we have more control over, and something we should have been prepared for before they became “emergencies”.
It is indeed a quintessential Filipino trait to ignore problems while they are small. When they finally become unmanageable we start crying about how we are victims of circumstance, about how we were cheated, about how we are being put through trials of faith. Filipinos also have short attention spans; it is easy to distract them from the pressing problems of their society by showing them showbiz news and feel good stories about Filipinos making it abroad which feed the Pinoy pride.
What’s one of the most irritating, gut-wrenching, and excruciating things about Filipinos? They just can’t seem to get angry enough, and they just can’t seem to learn from their mistakes. The reason that their governments keep screwing them over is because they know they can get away with it. Plus, they’ll be elected in the next cycle for another chance of screwing over to happen again.
Even the most sane and logical person would have his/her blood boil at the site of the Philippines neglecting its problems until it’s become one big pile of turd that can’t be ignored anymore.
Nakakapang-init ulo talaga.


Wer mit der Herde geht, kann nur den Ärschen folgen - whoever runs with the flock, can only follow ass.

On Grieving and Rejoicing

John 16:20-23a

Jesus said to his disciples: "Amen, amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices; you will grieve, but your grief will become joy. When a woman is in labor, she is in anguish because her hour has arrived; but when she has given birth to a child, she no longer remembers the pain because of her joy that a child has been born into the world. So you also are now in anguish. But I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you. Amen, amen, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you."

Introductory Prayer: Lord, as I begin this prayer I offer you my whole self: my thoughts, desires, decisions, actions, hopes, fears, weaknesses, failures and petty successes. I open my entire being to you, aware that you know everything already. I’m certain of your mercy and of the purifying power of your penetrating, loving gaze.

Petition: Lord, give me great peace and interior joy in the midst of life’s trials.

1. “You Will Weep”: Grief is not an agreeable experience in itself. Jesus doesn’t promise his disciples that by following him they will be shielded from the sorrow characteristic of any exile in a foreign land. A Christian’s value system is diametrically opposed to the worldly view. Be honest and the common opinion will consider you backward or naive. Be kind and you will be seen as gullible. Be faithful to the love of your spouse and you will be seen as having repressive tendencies. The list could go on and on. An authentic Christian stands out among the fingers of the world as truly the sorest thumb. Have I accepted this unpleasant and challenging element of Christianity?

2. “I Will See You Again”: “Your grief will become joy.” The disciples were surprised and discouraged by Jesus’ crucifixion, but Jesus’ death would not be the final scene in the play. After the dramatic events of Calvary came the joy of the Resurrection, a new and glorious life. How happy the disciples must have been to see Our Lord again! But even then Jesus seems to play “peek-a-boo” with his disciples. He walks through walls bringing them joy and then he just disappears again. We can have a similar experience in prayer. The alternation of dryness and consolation is an essential part of God’s pedagogy with us. Sometimes it seems that the Lord is right beside us and other times that he is on foreign business. Am I able to exercise my faith in the presence of the Lord beyond the state of my feelings at the moment?

3. “Your Hearts Will Rejoice”: Sometimes the charge is leveled against Christianity that its moral prohibitions are a source of sorrow and frustration. A closer look shows a different picture entirely. The closeness of the Lord, along with the recognition that the goods of this world are fundamentally good gifts lavished by the Father upon his children, brings profound joy. When we are able to distinguish the presence and action of the Lord in every created thing and through every circumstance, we experience a joy unknown to the world. “I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you.” Do I have this joy founded on my faith and the awareness of God’s immense personal love? Does my obedience to the moral law stem from a complete trust in God who desires my happiness?

Conversation with Christ: My Jesus, when you are near me I experience great joy. I know that you are always with me. Help me to exercise my faith and to be able to strengthen the faith of those of my brothers and sisters who need me to show them your love.

Resolution: I will offer up any difficulty that the Lord sends me today for those who do not yet have the joy of his friendship. 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Definitive Answer To 20 Of Your Biggest Health Questions

Does olive oil prevent heart disease?
Short answer: Yes
The health benefits of olive oil come from the presence of polyphenols, antioxidants
That reduce the risk of heart diseases and cancers.
But to get these healthy compounds, consumers should buy good-quality, fresh "extra-virgin" olive oil, which has the highest polyphenol content. Most commercially available olive oils have
low levels of polyphenols associated with poor harvesting methods, improper storage, and heavy processing.

Do cough syrups work?
Short answer: No
In 2006, the 
nation's chest physicians agreed that the majority of over-the-counter cough medicines don't actually work.
These colorful syrups typically contain doses of codeine and dextromethorphan that are too small to be effective.
Only cough suppressants that contain older antihistamines seem to relieve coughs.
That includes brompheniramine, an active ingredient in Dimetapp.
Do sugary soft drinks lead to diabetes? 
Short answer: Yes
The majority of health research is 
stacked against sugar-sweetened soda. A large 2004 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that women who drank one or more sugary drinks per day increased their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 83% compared to those who consumed less than one of these beverages per month.

Do I need sunscreen with more than 30 SPF?
Short answer: No
Sunscreens with an SPF (sun protection factor) of 30 block about 97% of ultraviolet rays,
While sunscreens with an SPF of higher than 30 block 97%-98%. 
It's more important that you choose "broad-spectrum" sunscreen, meaning it protects against both UVB and UVA rays.
Sunbathers also need to apply a generous amount of sunscreen in order to get the full benefit of the SPF.

Is the MSG in Chinese likely to give you a headache?

Short answer: No
A review of 40 years of clinical trials, published in the 
journal of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners in 2006,
Found that all previous research "failed to identify a consistent relationship between the consumption of MSG
And the constellation of symptoms that comprise the syndrome," including headaches and asthma attacks.
The misconception spawned from several poorly-done small studies in the 1960s that 
seemed to connect MSG with a variety of maladies that people experienced after eating at Chinese restaurants.

Do nuts make you fat?
Short answer: No
As much as 75% of a nut is fat. But eating fat doesn't necessarily make you fat.
The bigger factor leading to weight gain is portion-size.
Luckily, nuts are loaded with healthy fats that keep you full. They're also a good source of protein and fiber.
One study even found that 
whole almonds have 20% less calories than previously thought because
A lot of the fat is excreted from the body.

Is walking as effective as running? 
Short answer: Yes
Studies have shown that how long you exercise — and thus how many calories you burn — is more important
Than how hard you exercise. Running is a more efficient form of exercise, but not necessarily better for you.
A six-year 
study published in the journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology in April found that walking at a moderate pace and running produced similar health benefits, so long as the same amount of energy was expended.
Is drinking fruit juice as good for you as eating fruit?
Short answer: No
Calorie for calorie, whole fruit provides more nutritional benefits than drinking the pure juice of that fruit.
That's because when you liquefy fruit, stripping away the peel and dumping the pulp, many ingredients like
Fiber, calcium, vitamin C, and other antioxidants are lost.
For comparison, a five-ounce glass of orange juice that contains 69 calories has .3 grams of dietary fiber and 16 milligrams of calcium, whereas an orange with the same number of calories packs 3.1 grams of fiber and 60 milligrams of calcium.
Are all wheat breads better for you than white bread? 
Short answer: No
Not all wheat breads are created equal. Wheat breads that contain all parts of the grain kernel,
Including the nutrient-rich germ and fiber-dense bran, must be labeled "whole grain" or "whole wheat."
Some wheat breads are just white bread with a little bit of caramel coloring to make the bread appear healthier,
According to Reader's Digest.
Can a hot tub make me sick?
Short answer: Yes
Hot tubs — especially ones in spas, hotels, and gyms — are perfect breeding grounds for germs.
The water is not hot enough to kill bacteria, but is just the right temperature to make microbes grow even faster.
Even though hot tubs are treated with chlorine, the heat causes the disinfectant to break down faster
than it would in regular pools.
The most common hot tub infection is pseudomonas folliculitis, which causes red, itchy bumps.
A more dangerous side-effect of soaking in a dirty Jacuzzi is a form of pneumonia known as Legionnaire's disease.
This is what reportedly sickened more than 100 people at the Playboy Mansion back in 2011.
Does coffee cause cancer? 
Short answer: No
Coffee got a bad rap in the 1980s when a study 
linked drinking coffee to pancreatic cancer.
The preliminary report was later debunked.
More recently, health studies have swung in favor of the caffeinated beverage.
Coffee has been linked to a lower risk of type 2 diabetesParkinson's disease, liver cancer, and even suicide.
Do eggs raise cholesterol levels? 
Short answer: No
Although egg yolks are a major source of cholesterol — a waxy substance that resembles fat — researchers have learned that saturated fat has more of an impact on cholesterol in your blood than eating foods that contain cholesterol.
"Healthy individuals with normal blood cholesterol levels should now feel free to enjoy foods like eggs in their diet every day," the lead researcher from a 25-year 
University of Arizona study on cholesterol concluded.

Can you drink too much water?
Short answer: Yes
It is very rare for someone to die from drinking too much water, but it can happen.
Overhydrating is most common among elite athletes. Drinking an excess of water, called water intoxication, dilutes the concentration of sodium in the blood leading to a condition known as hyponatremia.
The symptoms of hyponatremia can range from nausea and confusion to seizures and even death in severe cases.
To avoid this, drink fluids with electrolytes during extreme exercise events.

Can yogurt ease digestive problems?
Short answer: Yes
Our digestive tract is filled with microorganisms — some good and some bad. 
Yogurt contains beneficial bacteria, generically called probiotics, that helps maintain a healthy balance.
Probiotics can relieve several gastrointestinal problems, including constipation and diarrhea. 
Certain brands of yogurts, like Activa by Dannon, are marketed exclusively to treat tummy issues.

Do whitening toothpastes whiten teeth more than regular toothpastes?
Short answer: No
Whitening toothpastes usually contain peroxides and other strong abrasives that might make
your teeth appear whiter by removing stains. Unlike at-home whitening strips and gels that contain bleach,
these toothpastes do not actually change the color of your teeth.

Is it safe to microwave food in plastic containers?
Short answer: Yes
But the plastic container should display the words "microwave safe." This means that the Food and Drug Administration has 
tested the container to make sure no chemicals used to make the plastic leech into foods during microwaving.
If chemicals do seep out into food, the amounts are tiny and not dangerous to our health.
As a general guideline, plastic grocery bags as well as most plastic tubs that hold margarine, yogurt, cream cheese,
and condiments are not microwave safe.

Can watching TV ruin your eyesight?
Short answer: No
Watching TV will not destroy your rods and cones as the outdated myth suggests. Before the 1950s,
TVs emitted radiation that could increase an individual's risk of eye problems after excessive TV viewing.
Modern TVs have special shielding that blocks these harmful emissions.

Is red wine better for you than white wine?
Short answer: Yes
Red wine contains much more resveratrol than white wine, an antioxidant found in the skin of grapes

Is bottled water better for you than tap water? 

Short answer: No 
Bottled water is no safer or purer than tap water, although it is substantially more expensive.
A recent study by Glasgow University in the U.K. found that bottled water is actually
more likely to be contaminated than water from your faucet because it is less well-regulated.
Bottled water and tap water typically come from the same sources — natural springs, lakes, and aquifers.
While public water supplies are tested for contaminants every day, makers of bottled water are only required
to test for specific contaminants every week, month, or year.