People in the United States celebrate Thanksgiving Day on the fourth Thursday of November. It is a national holiday in the United States and people celebrate the day with religious fervor.
People get together with their loved ones, invariably devour large amounts of food centered around an enormous roasted turkey, and like angels and saints praise and thank God for all that they have.
Traditionally, the beginning of the Christmas shopping season starts in the United States on the following day, the Black Friday. Most major retailers open their sales outlets extremely early on Black Friday to kick off the holiday shopping season and offer promotional sales.
The name “Black Friday” originated before 1961 in Philadelphia, after the disruptive movement of pedestrians and heavy vehicle traffic on the day-after-Thanksgiving Day and used broadly in other regions around 1975. Later, a new explanation of the term started circulating: “Black Friday” indicates the point at which retailers begin to turn a profit and are back in the black.
Though Black Friday is not an official holiday, many non-retail employers give their employees the day off, thereby increasing the number of potential shoppers.
Earlier, retailers opened shop on Black Friday at 6 am. However, in the late 2000s, many retailers opened their retail outlets at 5 am, and some opened at 4 am. Big names including Target, Kohls, Macy’s, Best Buy, etc. open at midnight. Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, broke the Black Friday tradition in 2011 by opening its store on Thanksgiving evening.
Four years ago when I was in the United States, a week before Thanksgiving Day, a friend from India called me over the phone . He said that he had heard that on Black Friday electronic goods could be bought at bargain prices in the United States and requested me to buy a laptop for him. Little did he know about the madness that inundates the United Stupids of America (USA) on Black Friday.
On Black Friday, the American people unitedly become stupids by transmogrifying from angels to demons.
They stubbornly gather outside malls, some from midnight on chattering and shivering, undaunted by the bitter winter cold, and wait for the shops to open.
When the shops open their doors, the stampede begins.
They behave like crazed animals. They barge into the malls like raging bulls. They trample and maul one another to buy more stuff that they already have or absolutely do not need; just 24 hours after offering thanks for how much they already have.
That is Black Friday for you in the United States of America. No other country in the world can boast of such a frenzied day.
Here is a video clip depicting the madness of the United Stupids of America for you to decide whether you too want to join these berserk folks and avail bargains on Black Friday.
Donald Trump, the current nominee of the Republican Party for President of the United States in 2016 had thought of running for president in 1988, 2004, and 2012, and for Governor of New York in 2006 and 2014, but did not enter any of those races. In 1988, Trump was considered as a potential running mate for George H. W. Bush but lost out to Vice President Dan Quayle.
Trump, who wants to be the next president of the United States has voiced whatever caustic thoughts he has. To him, the Mexicans were “rapists” and “anchor babies“, he has used adjectives such as “bimbo” and “fat pig” to describe women. For months he has preoccupied himself with mocking Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the Democratic senator from Massachusetts, by calling her “the Indian” and “Pocahontas“, and insisted that she was a racist for having listed her heritage while on the faculty of Harvard Law School.
I was surprised when I was told that Donald Trump was invited to address a major gathering of the American Indian Nation. At the meeting, he spoke about his plans for increasing every Native American’s standard of living. Although Trump was vague about his plans, he spoke eloquently about helping his “Red sisters and brothers“.
When he concluded his speech, the Chiefs of the American Indian Tribes presented him with a plaque inscribed with his new Indian name, “Walking Eagle” which a proud Trump accepted pompously.
After he left the venue, a reporter asked the group of chiefs how they came to select the new name for Trump. They explained that “Walking Eagle” is the name given to a bird so full of shit it can no longerﬂy.
I received the following story titled “Funny side of Swami Vivekananda” through WhatsApp.
When Swami Vivekanand was studying law at the University College, London, a white professor, whose last name was Peters, disliked him intensely.
One day, Mr. Peters was having lunch at the dining room when Vivekananda came along with his tray and sat next to the professor.
The professor said, “Mr. Vivekanand, you do not understand. A pig and a bird do not sit together to eat.”
Vivekanandji looked at him as a parent would a rude child and calmly replied, “You do not worry professor. I’ll fly away,” and he went and sat at another table.
Mr. Peters, reddened with rage, decided to take revenge.
The next day in class he posed the following question: “Mr. Vivekanand, if you were walking down the street and found a package, and within was a bag of wisdom and another bag with money, which one would you take ?”
Without hesitating, Vivekanandji responded, “The one with the money, of course.”
Mr. Peters , smiling sarcastically said, “I, in your place, would have taken the wisdom.”
Swami Vivekanand shrugged and responded, “Each one takes what he doesn’t have.”
Mr. Peters, by this time, was fit to be tied. So great was his anger that he wrote on Swami Vivekanand’s exam sheet the word “idiot” and gave it to Swami Vivekanand.
Vivekanandji took the exam sheet and sat down at his desk trying very hard to remain calm while he contemplated his next move.
A few minutes later, Swami Vivekanand got up, went to the professor and told him in a dignified polite tone, “Mr. Peters, you signed the sheet, but you did not give me the grade.”
Moral: Don’t mess with intelligent people.
When I read this anecdote I smelled a rat.
Though Swami Vivekananda visited England twice, he never studied in London.
First of all, Narendranath Datta took the name “Swami Vivekananda” on Christmas Eve of 1886, when he and eight other disciples of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa took formal monastic vows and decided to live their lives as their master lived.
Then I checked the timeline of important events in the life of Swami Vivekananda.
Vivekananda (born Narendranath Datta), after passing the Matriculation Entrance examination in 1879, joined Presidency College in January 1880. He was the only student to receive first-division marks in the Presidency College entrance examination.
In 1881, he passed the FA examination (equivalent to the current Higher Secondary, Class XII) from the General Assembly’s Institution (now known as the Scottish Church College).
One day, Professor William Hastie explaining the word “trance” to his students suggested that they should visit Swami Ramakrishna Paramahamsa of Dakshineswar to understand the true meaning of trance. In November 1881, Vivekananda met Swami Ramakrishna Paramahamsa for the first time in Calcutta, at the residences of Surendranath Mitra.
In January 1884, Vivekananda passed Bachelor of Arts examination from the General Assembly’s Institution with philosophy and logic as subjects.
Vivekananda’s father died on February 25, 1884, and Ramakrishna Paramahamsa became his spiritual focus.
So, we find that Narendranath Datta never studied in London.
I remember coming across earlier the same turn of events mentioned above in an anonymous anecdote with M. K. Gandhi as the vanquisher of Professor Peters.
Here is the anonymous anecdote using Gandhi as the superstar published under the title “Did Gandhi trump Professor Peters in a number of interactions?” in the Skeptics Stack Exchange, a question and answer site for scientific skepticism.
When Gandhi was studying law at the University College of London, there was a professor, whose last name was Peters, who felt animosity for Gandhi, and because Gandhi never lowered his head towards him, their “arguments” were very common.
One day, Mr. Peters was having lunch at the dining room of the University and Gandhi came along with his tray and sat next to the professor. The professor, in his arrogance, said, “Mr Gandhi: you do not understand… a pig and a bird do not sit together to eat,” to which Gandhi replies, “You do not worry professor, I’ll fly away, ” and he went and sat at another table.
Mr. Peters, green of rage, decides to take revenge on the next test, but Gandhi responds brilliantly to all questions. Then, Mr. Peters asked him the following question, “Mr Gandhi, if you are walking down the street and find a package, and within it there is a bag of wisdom and another bag with a lot of money; which one will you take?”
Without hesitating, Gandhi responded, “the one with the money, of course.”
Mr. Peters, smiling, said, “I, in your place, would have taken the wisdom, don’t you think?”
“Each one takes what one doesn’t have,” responded Gandhi indifferently.
Mr. Peters, already hysteric, writes on the exam sheet the word “idiot” and gives it to Gandhi. Gandhi takes the exam sheet and sits down. A few minutes later, Gandhi goes to the professor and says, “Mr. Peters, you signed the sheet, but you did not give me the grade.”
I came across a comment that said: “Story is about Mr. Jinnah. Someone has switched the mainstay to Gandhi“.
So, if you are computer savvy, you can copy the above anecdote to notepad. Then press Ctrl-H.
In the resulting dialog box enter against “Find what:” Gandhi and against “Replace with:” Abdul Kalam. Next press button. In the blink of an eye, all instances of “Gandhi” will be transformed into “Abdul Kalam” and you would have created a new anecdote for Abdul Kalam.
Post the anecdote you created about Abdul Kalam on Facebook. Instantly you will get thousands of likes, and hundreds of witless idiots will blindly copy your post and propagate it on Facebook, WhatsApp, and other social media creating a new episode in the life of APJ Abdul Kalam.
Humayun Saqib Muazzam Khan (September 9, 1976 – June 8, 2004), a Muslim was an American citizen of Pakistani Decent. He was born in the United Arab Emirates, to Ghazala and Khizr Khan, of Pakistani heritage. The Khan family moved to the United States when Humayun was two years old, and he was raised in Silver Spring, Maryland.
As a young boy, Humayun Khan read extensively about Thomas Jefferson. In high school, he taught disabled children to swim. In 1996, he graduated from John F. Kennedy High School, and then joined the University of Virginia (U.Va. or UVA). He joined the university’s Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps.
Humayun Khan joined the United States Army Ordnance Corps and had planned on becoming a military lawyer. In the Army, Khan achieved the rank of captain.
On June 8, 2004, three to four months into his tour of duty in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom, while inspecting a guard post near Baqubah, Captain Khan saw a suspicious taxicab approaching fast. After ordering his subordinates to move away from the vehicle he ran forward and was killed when the car loaded with improvised explosives blew up before it could reach the gates of the nearby mess hall where hundreds of soldiers were having breakfast. The blast also killed the two occupants of the vehicle and two Iraqi bystanders.
Captain Khan was buried at Arlington National Cemetery on June 15, 2004.
Captain Humayun Saqib Muazzam Khan, the first UVA graduate to die in combat since the Vietnam War was honored by two university ceremonies. He was also posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal and the Purple Heart.
In December 2015, Hillary Clinton, a presidential candidate in the 2016 United States presidential election, spoke about Khan’s service, describing him as one of fourteen Muslim Americans who had died in the service of the United States since the September 11 attacks.
On July 28, 2016, Captain Humayun Khan’s parents appeared at the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. His 66-year-old father, Khizr Khan, an immigration lawyer from Charlottesville, Virginia, addressed the gathering. He began his 7-minute speech saying, “Tonight, we are honored to stand here as the parents of Capt. Humayun Khan, and as patriotic American Muslims with undivided loyalty to our country.”
He spoke of his dead son and rebuked Donald J. Trump the Republican Party nominee for President of the United States in the 2016 election. He said Trump “sacrificed nothing and no one”.
Donald Trump retaliated by criticizing the appearance of the parents of Captain Humayun Khan at the Democratic Convention and suggested that Khan’s mother may not have been allowed to speak.
On July 31, 2016, Ghazala Khan, mother of Captain Khan expressed her thoughts and said she had been too overcome by emotion at the convention to speak at the podium, “Donald Trump said I had nothing to say. I do. My son Humayun Khan, an Army captain, died 12 years ago in Iraq. He loved America…“
The attacks from the Republican presidential nominee on the parents of a soldier who died defending America have put new pressure on the leaders of the Republican Party, commonly referred to as the Grand Old Party (GOP) decide whether they will continue to stand by him. Some of the party’s leaders in the House and the Senate have distanced themselves from Trump’s remarks, and many other Republican figures are forcefully attacking their nominee.
Mr. Donald Trump’s son
Donald John “Don” Trump Jr (born December 31, 1977) is an American businessman. He is the first child of Donald J. Trump and the Czech model Ivana Trump. He currently works along with his sister Ivanka Trump and brother Eric Trump in the position of Executive Vice President at The Trump Organization.
There is nothing valorous to say about this eldest son of Trump, except that he along with his younger brother Eric Trump is a trophy hunter.
The above picture says a lot about him! Yes, that is an elephant’s tail.
A spokeswoman for PETA told the Daily News: “If the young Trumps are looking for a thrill, perhaps they should consider skydiving, bungee jumping, or even following in their anti-hunting father’s footsteps and taking down competing businesses—not wild animals,”
“Like all animals, elephants, buffalo, and crocodiles deserve better than to be killed and hacked apart for two young millionaires’ grisly photo opportunity. If the Trumps want to help villagers, they have plenty of resources at their disposal.”
Despite the negative comments, the Trumps, however, are standing their ground.
Donald Trump Jr responded to a flurry of anger messages that spurned him on Twitter: “I’m a hunter, for that, I make no apologies,” he wrote. “I can assure you it was not wasteful… The villagers were so happy for the meat which they don’t often get to eat.“
And Donald Trump Sr told TMZ, the celebrity news website, “My sons love hunting. They’re hunters and they’ve become good at it. I am not a believer in hunting and I’m surprised they like it.“
Today, I received a copy of a clipping of the poem titled “Human Anatomy” from my dear niece Fiona Devotta Vazirani.
I remember having first read this humoristic poem in the mid-1990s. Since then it had appeared in many newspapers and clippings – sometimes with long titles such as “Let’s call it, unsolved mysteries of anatomy” and at times without any title at all.
The author was William Rossa Cole.
Here is that poem appearing under the title “Foolish Questions” (adapted) from “Oh, Such Foolishness” (Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1978) as found in Kids Pick the Funniest Poems, edited by Bruce Lansky (Meadowbrook Press, 1991).
by William Cole
Where can a man buy a cap for his knee? Or a key for the lock of his hair?
And can his eyes be called a school? I would think there are pupils there!
What jewels are found in the crown of his head, And who walks on the bridge of his nose?
Can he use, in building the roof of his mouth, the nails on the ends of his toes?
Can the crook of his elbow be sent to jail? If it can, well, then, what did it do?
And how does he sharpen his shoulder blades? I’ll be hanged if I know – do you?
Can he sit in the shade of the palm of his hand, and beat time with the drum in his ear?
Can the calf of his leg eat the corn on his toe?
There’s somethin’ pretty strange around here!
William Rossa Cole, an American editor, anthologist, columnist, author, and writer of light verse was born on November 20, 1919, to William Harrison Cole and Margaret O’Donovan-Rossa of Staten Island, New York. He was the grandson of the Irish national hero, Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa.
William Cole served in the infantry in Europe in World War II, rising to sergeant and receiving the Purple Heart. After military service, he entered the publishing industry. He served as publicity director at Alfred A. Knopf, publicity director and editor at Simon & Schuster, and publisher of William Cole Books at Viking Press. He was a columnist for The Saturday Review, a vice president of PEN American Center and a member of the governing board of the Poetry Society of America and the executive board of Poets and Writers.
William Cole wrote children’s books and light verse. His whimsical poetry appeared often in Light Quarterly and was widely anthologized, He was an author, co-author, editor, and co-editor, of about 75 books of which 50 were anthologies. The American Library Association were honoured three of his books:
In 1958, “I Went to the Animal Fair: A Book of Animal Poems” which was on the List of Notable Children’s Books of 1940–1959.
In 1964, “Beastly Boys and Ghastly Girls: Poems“.
In 1965, “The Birds and Beasts Were There: Animal Poems” .
His marriage to Peggy Bennett in 1947 and his marriage to Galen Williams in 1967 both ended in divorce.
William Cole died on August 2, 2000, in his Manhattan home, aged 80.
Seamus Heaney, Member of the Royal Irish Academy and winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1995 memorialized William Cole in a poem.
If we want to invest in a good life and be happy and healthy as we grow old, how should we direct our time and energy? To answer these questions The Harvard Study of Adult Development at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston started a study of adult life in 1938 and continues it to this day.
If you think its fame and money that will bring you happiness and good health then you’re mistaken says Robert Waldinger, a Harvard psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, and Zen priest. As the fourth director of the 75-year-old study on adult development, he has unprecedented access to data on true happiness and satisfaction. Waldinger says that he had learned some surprising things about what the good life actually looks like.
In this 12-minutes short video of the talk he gave at a TEDx event, he offers the results of 77 years of studying happiness. He shares with us insights and three important lessons learned from the study, as well as some practical age old wisdom on how to build a fulfilling, long life.
In these 12 short minutes, he offers the results of 75 years of studying happiness. Yes, life can be summed up in a very short time.
In this video of the talk, he gave at a TEDx event he shares insights and three important lessons learned from the study as well as some practical, old-as-the-hills wisdom on how to build a fulfilling, long life.
Here is a transcript of the speech:
If you were going to invest now in your future best self, where would you put your time and your energy? There are lots of answers out there. We are bombarded with images of what’s most important in life. The media are filled with stories of people who are rich and famous and building empires at work. And we believe those stories.
There was a recent survey of millennials asking them what their most important life goals were, and over 80 percent said that a major life goal for them was to get rich. And another 50 percent of those same young adults said that another major life goal was to become famous.
And we’re constantly told to lean into work, to push harder and achieve more. We’re given the impression that these are the things that we need to go after in order to have a good life.
But is that true? Is that really what keeps people happy as they go through life?
Pictures of entire lives, of the choices that people make and how those choices work out for them, those pictures are almost impossible to get. Most of what we know about human life we know from asking people to remember the past, and as we know, hindsight is anything but 20/20. We forget vast amounts of what happens to us in life, and sometimes memory is downright creative.
Mark Twain understood this. He’s quoted as saying,
“Some of the worst things in my life never happened.”
And research shows us that we actually remember the past more positively as we get older.
I’m reminded of a bumper sticker that says,
“It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.“
But what if we could watch entire lives as they unfold through time? What if we could study people from the time that they were teenagers all the way into old age to see what really keeps people happy and healthy?
We did that.
The Harvard Study of Adult Development may be the longest study of adult life that’s ever been done. For 75 years, we’ve tracked the lives of 724 men, year after year, asking about their work, their home lives, their health, and of course asking all along the way without knowing how their life stories were going to turn out.
Studies like this are exceedingly rare.
Almost all projects of this kind fall apart within a decade because too many people drop out of the study, or funding for the research dries up, or the researchers get distracted, or they die, and nobody moves the ball further down the field. But through a combination of luck and the persistence of several generations of researchers, this study has survived. About 60 of our original 724 men are still alive, still participating in the study, most of them in their 90s. And we are now beginning to study the more than 2,000 children of these men. And I’m the fourth director of the study.
Since 1938, we’ve tracked the lives of two groups of men. The first group started in the study when they were sophomores at Harvard College. They were from what Tom Brokaw called “the greatest generation.” They all finished college during World War II, and then most went off to serve in the war. And the second group that we’ve followed was a group of boys from Boston’s poorest neighborhoods, boys who were chosen for the study specifically because they were from some of the most troubled and disadvantaged families in the Boston of the 1930s. Most lived in tenements, many without hot and cold running water.
When they entered the study, all of these teenagers were interviewed. They were given medical exams. We went to their homes and we interviewed their parents. And then these teenagers grew up into adults who entered all walks of life. They became factory workers and lawyers and bricklayers and doctors, one President of the United States. Some developed alcoholism. A few developed schizophrenia. Some climbed the social ladder from the bottom all the way to the very top, and some made that journey in the opposite direction.
The founders of this study would never in their wildest dreams have imagined that I would be standing here today, 75 years later, telling you that the study still continues. Every two years, our patient and dedicated research staff calls up our men and asks them if we can send them yet one more set of questions about their lives.
Many of the inner city Boston men ask us, “Why do you keep wanting to study me? My life just isn’t that interesting.” The Harvard men never ask that question.
To get the clearest picture of these lives, we don’t just send them questionnaires. We interview them in their living rooms. We get their medical records from their doctors. We draw their blood, we scan their brains, we talk to their children. We video tape them talking with their wives about their deepest concerns. And when, about a decade ago, we finally asked the wives if they would join us as members of the study, many of the women said, “You know, it’s about time.”
So what have we learned? What are the lessons that come from the tens of thousands of pages of information that we’ve generated on these lives?
Well, the lessons aren’t about wealth or fame or working harder and harder. The clearest message that we get from this 75-year study is this: Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period.
We’ve learned three big lessons about relationships. The first is that social connections are really good for us and that loneliness kills. It turns out that people who are more socially connected to family, to friends, to the community, are happier, they’re physically healthier, and they live longer than people who are less well connected. And the experience of loneliness turns out to be toxic. People who are more isolated than they want to be from others find that they are less happy, their health declines earlier in midlife, their brain functioning declines sooner and they live shorter lives than people who are not lonely. And the sad fact is that at any given time, more than one in five Americans will report that they’re lonely.
And we know that you can be lonely in a crowd and you can be lonely in a marriage, so the second big lesson that we learned is that it’s not just the number of friends you have, and it’s not whether or not you’re in a committed relationship, but it’s the quality of your close relationships that matters. It turns out that living in the midst of conflict is really bad for our health. High-conflict marriages, for example, without much affection, turn out to be very bad for our health, perhaps worse than getting divorced. And living in the midst of good, warm relationships is protective.
Once we had followed our men all the way into their 80s, we wanted to look back at them at midlife and to see if we could predict who was going to grow into a happy, healthy octogenarian and who wasn’t. And when we gathered together everything we knew about them at age 50, it wasn’t their middle age cholesterol levels that predicted how they were going to grow old. It was how satisfied they were in their relationships. The people who were the most satisfied in their relationships at age 50 were the healthiest at age 80. And good, close relationships seem to buffer us from some of the slings and arrows of getting old. Our most happily partnered men and women reported, in their 80s, that on the days when they had more physical pain, their mood stayed just as happy. But the people who were in unhappy relationships, on the days when they reported more physical pain, it was magnified by more emotional pain.
And the third big lesson that we learned about relationships and our health is that good relationships don’t just protect our bodies, they protect our brains.
It turns out that being in a securely attached relationship to another person in your 80s is protective, that the people who are in relationships where they really feel they can count on the other person in times of need, those people’s memories stay sharper longer. And the people in relationships where they feel they really can’t count on the other one, those are the people who experience earlier memory decline. And those good relationships, they don’t have to be smooth all the time. Some of our octogenarian couples could bicker with each other day in and day out, but as long as they felt that they could really count on the other when the going got tough, those arguments didn’t take a toll on their memories.
So this message, that good, close relationships are good for our health and well-being, this is wisdom that’s as old as the hills. It’s your grandmother’s advice, and your pastor’s,
Why is this so hard to get?
For example, with respect to wealth, we know that once our basic material needs are met, wealth doesn’t do it. If you go from making 75,000 dollars a year to 75 million, we know that your health and happiness will change very little, if at all.
When it comes to fame, the constant media intrusion and the lack of privacy make most famous people significantly less healthy. It certainly doesn’t keep them happier.
And as for working harder and harder, there is that truism that nobody on their death bed ever wished they had spent more time at the office.
Why is this so hard to get and so easy to ignore? Well, we’re human.
What we’d really like is a quick fix, something we can get that’ll make our lives good and keep them that way. Relationships are messy and they’re complicated and the hard work of tending to family and friends, it’s not sexy or glamorous. It’s also lifelong. It never ends.
The people in our 75-year study who were the happiest in retirement were the people who had actively worked to replace workmates with new playmates. Just like the millennials in that recent survey, many of our men when they were starting out as young adults really believed that fame and wealth and high achievement were what they needed to go after to have a good life. But over and over, over these 75 years, our study has shown that the people who fared the best were the people who leaned into relationships, with family, with friends, with the community.
So what about you? Let’s say you’re 25, or you’re 40, or you’re 60. What might leaning into relationships even look like?
Well, the possibilities are practically endless. It might be something as simple as replacing screen time with people time or livening up a stale relationship by doing something new together, long walks or date nights, or reaching out to that family member who you haven’t spoken to in years, because those all-too-common family feuds take a terrible toll on the people who hold the grudges.
I’d like to close with another quote from Mark Twain. More than a century ago, he was looking back on his life, and he wrote this:
“There isn’t time, so brief is life, for bickerings, apologies, heartburnings, callings to account. There is only time for loving, and but an instant, so to speak, for that.“
The good life is built with good relationships. And that’s an idea worth spreading.
“It seems like every time I study an illness and trace a path to the first cause, I find my way back to sugar.”
– Richard Johnson, nephrologist, University of Colorado Denver
The worst possible ingredient we consume daily could be sugar which everyone knows is detrimental to health and is the root cause of diseases, including diabetes and cancer, among many others.
Worldwide, people are consuming sugar equal to about 500 extra calories per day. That is just about what you would need to consume if you wanted to gain a pound a week. No wonder we have many obese men, women, and children around us.
Dietitians and nutritionists have established that four grams of white granulated sugar are equal to one teaspoon of sugar. In the United States, the American Heart Association recommends a daily allowance of no more than six teaspoons a day for the average woman and no more than nine teaspoons a day for the average male. However, an American consumes an average of 27 teaspoons of sugar per day.
Why do some people add sugar to almost everything they consume? Perhaps they think that the lack of sodium or fat in sugar makes it less harmful or harbor a false notion that the risk of excess sugar consumption is less than that of having too much saturated and trans fat, sodium or calories in their diet. Some even espouse the adage “what you don’t know won’t hurt you.”
Sugar specifically promotes obesity. In the past 30 years, obesity in children has doubled and the rate of adolescent obesity has tripled. The main factor is fat accumulation in the trunk of the body. One cause may be the wide consumption of fructose-laden beverages. In 2010, a study in children found that excess fructose intake (but not glucose intake) caused visceral fat cells to mature that set the stage for obesity at a young age leading to heart disease and diabetes.
In contrast, there are many who know that excessive sugar in the diet is not good for healthy living and consume it in recommended amounts and place it at the top of their list of “foods to avoid”. They know that sugar specifically promotes obesity.
A typical sugar packet in the United States contains two grams of sugar while all soft drinks have an excess amount of sugar with absolutely no nutritional advantage. For example, Coca-Cola contains 10.6 grams or five sachets of sugar per 100ml. So, a 250 ml can has 26.5 grams or 13 sachets of sugar and a 330 ml can has 31.8 grams or 16 sachets of sugar.
To curb rising obesity, some sectors want beverages having high sugar content taxed in the same way as cigarettes.
In the following video, Jeremy Paxman with his forthright and abrasive interviewing style speaks to James Quincey, president of Coca-Cola Europe about the sugar content in their regular Coke on BBC Two’s Newsnight.
Gallup Analytics, the publisher of the Gallup Poll, a widely recognized barometer of American opinion, provides market research and consulting services around the world. In July 2015, as part of its annual Consumption Habits poll, Gallup asked 1,009 Americans about the foods they try to include or avoid in their diet.
In her article “Coca-Cola says its drinks don’t cause obesity. Science says otherwise“, Marion Nestle says:
“Sales of sugar-sweetened and diet drinks have been falling for a decade in the United States, and a new Gallup Poll says 60% of Americans are trying to avoid drinking soda. In attempts to reverse these trends and deflect concerns about the health effects of sugary drinks, the soda industry invokes elements of the tobacco industry’s classic playbook: cast doubt on the science, discredit critics, invoke nanny statism and attribute obesity to personal irresponsibility.“
In late September 2015, the American Academy of Pediatrics ended its partnership with Coca-Cola after evidence emerged that the Coca-Cola company paid for research to downplay the role of Coke in obesity. The academy’s website, healthychildren.org was sponsored mainly by the Coca-Cola company. Of the $100 million the Coca-Cola company gives to various medical and health groups, the academy received $3 million.
Members of the American Academy of Pediatrics were upset after the New York Times looked at financial data that revealed the extent of the relationship between the Academy and the Coca-Cola company.
Many pediatricians aligned to the Academy who saw childhood health problems related to obesity on a daily basis, like type 2 diabetes and hypertension were surprised to find that their organization was aligned with Coke. New York Times reporter Anahad O’Connor said: “Some pediatricians said it was analogous to a major lung association group or university partnering with the tobacco industry.”
Recently I came across the following quote purported to be that of John D. Rockefeller:
Disgusting crap just like the idiots that drink it. More salt than a pizza. More sugar than a wedding cake to cover up the salt. Why salt? Cos it makes you thirsty and what do you do when you’re thirsty? Grab a Coke. The sugar makes you pile on the pounds. I hate this drink and all the other billion dollar fizzy brands that are filled with caffeine and other shit. Drink water for god sake. They did an experiment and took fizzy drink vending machines out of some school and guess what? The kids there were less fat than the ones that kept the vending machines. If you want to be fat, Coke is it! Just avoid it, guys… It’s what the Elites want us to do EAT & DRINK but not THINK.
It rained through the night in Chennai, Tamilnadu, India. The incessant rains that plagued us for the past three weeks did not seem to abate.
At 7.11 am, while I was still in bed my boarding and classmate Sunderaraj Kagoo, former Managing Partner of Star Brand Sweets, Colombo, had given me a call. I was not able to call him back since my cell’s battery had run down.
There was no way to charge my cell because we had no electricity supply.
Of all the rainy days that started in mid-November, 2015, today it rained heavily and forcefully.
Since the cable TV line was completely out and my 100 MB internet connection was dead, there was no way to know what was happening around us. We were not able to go out of our house to shop for essentials due to the torrent.
My second daughter Subodhra living in Palayamkottai, 620 km away from Chennai, phoned my wife. She said it did not rain there in Tirunelveli. She inquired how we were faring since she saw several news channels on TV covering the floods in Chennai. She said that Velachery, about 5 km from our house was flooded and that boats were being deployed to evacuate the marooned from their flooded houses to safety. My wife assured her that we were safe.
At 6:45 pm electricity came on.
At 6:48 pm my cousin Lawrence rang up inquired whether we were safe. He assured us that his house safe. I could hear children shouting and music in the background and immediately knew that the first birthday of his second grandson Tom Philip was being celebrated. I blessed the child over the phone and told Lawrence that even if they had invited us for the birthday party we would not have made it.
At 7:00 pm my wife, daughter Sujatha and I ran to the house on the first floor of the flat opposite our house to attend the first birthday party of a year-old toddler.
At 7:30 pm while the party was on, the electric power was cut off and we had the birthday dinner by candle light.
We returned home at 8:00 pm.
It poured heavily.
At 9:00 pm since we had no electricity, TV broadcast nor the internet, I tried to call my daughter Subodhra at Palayamkottai to know about the situation in Chennai that she would have seen on TV . Alas, to our bad luck the Vodafone network was out of service.
At 9:20 pm remembering the phone call from Sunderaraj Kagoo, I tried his number, but I was not able to get through. Then I noticed that my service provider Aircel too was out of service.
Since there was no electricity, we were not able to turn on the electric mosquito repellers and had to sleep at the mercy of the swarming mosquitoes.
After the inundation of the arterial Grand Southern Trunk (GST) Road south and north of Tambaram, all roads leading to Tambaram submerged at various stretches making Tambaram inaccessible to the rest of the city and for those heading towards Chennai city from Chengalpattu.
December 2, 2015:
It rained heavily in the morning.
I saw a few strangers in our neighbour Lokanayaki’s house. She told me that they were her relatives from nearby Pallikaranai and flood waters had entered their house up to their neck and so had come to her house for shelter.
Around 4:00 pm the rain ceased and there was only a pleasant drizzle. I took this opportunity to venture out on my two-wheeler to buy essential foods and medicines.
All the ATMs in our neighbourhood were out of service.
I went to one of the local medical shops. The proprietor was there and I asked him whether the card machine worked. The proprietor reluctantly said no. Then he asked how much my purchase would amount to. When I said more than ₹500, he said he would try to accommodate me since the backup battery had almost died out. He then took my order which amounted to ₹580 and switched on the card reader which came to life after a bit of coaxing. I thanked him for obliging and left the shop with the medicines.
The main road between Velachery and Tambaram is flooded in many places with hidden potholes lurking under the muddy waters. So, buses are not plying. I am not able to travel on my two-wheeler more than 100 metres either way from Pallikarani Oil Mill Stop.
I took the risk and waded through deep waters on my vehicle for about a kilometre and finally saw eggs stored on plastic trays at a shop. I bought a dozen eggs for ₹6 each.
On my way back home the engine of my two-wheeler stopped. I cranked the fuel tap to reserve and retraced my route. I found more than 50 people waiting in a queue to fill their motorcycles and cars at the petrol bunk. Finally, after waiting for about 30 minutes my turn came and after filling the tank with petrol and oil for ₹200, I returned home around 5:30 pm.
At 6:30 pm it was dark. I ventured out on my two-wheeler to buy a pair of batteries for my LCD torch. Almost all the shops were closed. Finally, I saw an electrical shop where an oil lamp lit the inside dimly. Luckily the batteries were available and I hurried home.
In the evening we heard that Chennai was officially declared a disaster area.
December 3, 2015:
Rains continued to plague Chennai.
Around 11:00 am we saw an army helicopter crossing far away from our house.
Around 1:30 pm we received electricity. We were able to see TV programmes.
We were made aware that the Chief Minister of Tamilnadu viewed the damages wrought by the incessant rains from the comfort of a helicopter. We also came to know that the Prime Minister who had come all the way from New Delhi too viewed the damages travelling on a separate helicopter.
At 6:30 pm some of our neighbours hurried towards the main road. My wife told me that the ATMs were working. I too took my debit card and ran to the main road. We were all disappointed for one ATM displayed the “Sorry. No money!” sign and the other two ATMs had shuttered down. It was a rumour.
Around 7:00 pm the electric supply was cut off and we were once again in the dark.
Around 7:30 pm my nephew Raphael Leo came home by motorbike to our house to inquire whether we and his mother-in-law who lives about 200 metres away from our house were safe. My son Subas Raj in Ellicott City, MD, USA had contacted him on WhatsApp and had asked him to check on us.
Though relief efforts were well underway across some of the flooded areas in Chennai, the lack of any coordinated relief response forced thousands of its residents to evacuate their houses on their own.
December 4, 2015:
From 5:00 am we had no rain and the sun shone through thick clouds. We were happy and thought the rains had finally ceased. With a letup in rainfall, floodwaters gradually began to recede in some areas in Chennai though 40 percent of the city remained submerged. Safe food and drinking water was in short supply.
Still no cell phone service. And there is no internet.
The electric supply comes in spurts. TV works intermittently even when electricity is available.
The internet was available from 1:45 pm today.
At 2:30 pm ominous dark clouds started gathering and it started to rain heavily.
Around 6:30 pm I saw the heart-wrenching news on TV channels about the loss of 18 patients who had died at the MIOT International Hospital in Manapakkam, Chennai, due to overflowing of flood waters from Adyar river that breached the hospital’s walls, damaging equipment in its path.
Two TV channels showed AIADMK Tamilnadu State Ministers Natham Viswanathan, Gokula Indra, and Selur Raju being chased away by the public when they visited the Chief Minister’s R.K. Nagar electorate. They had come to the CM’s electorate to meet the people in lieu of their head. The ministers arrived in a cortege of 18 cars, and without getting down from their vehicles, the ministers spoke to the people. This infuriated the people. They asked the ministers to get down from their vehicles and get their feet wet as they did. After an argument, the ministers with the protection and cordoning by the police escaped the fury of the mass.
Then we came across the shameful news that in some areas in Chennai the AIADMK hooligans are abrogating the work done by the charitable people and NGOs in Chennai by sticking stickers of JJ on the food parcels brought by them for distribution. If they could not help at least they should not steal the credits that are due to the helping people with their hard earned money and organizations who do not belong to their party. Instead, these shameless ruffians could have volunteered to work in the flood affected areas instead of stealing efforts made by others; or they could have pressured their higher-ups from the lowly municipal councilors to the Chief Minister to distribute free food from their “Amma Canteens” and distribute free “Amma Water” Bottles.
There seems to be a voltage drop and the electricity might be cut off at any moment.
For now, my family and I are safe. Please see the TV news channels for the overall situation now prevailing in Chennai.
Patti Frustaci, a 30-year-old English teacher at Rubidoux High School, in Riverside, California, and wife of 32-year-old Samuel Frustaci, an industrial equipment salesman for a Buena Park firm, had already conceived a child, a healthy toddler named Joseph.
Even though they already had a healthy child, Patti and Samuel opted for fertility treatment. From August to November of 1984, Dr. Jaroslav Marik, a pioneer in his field with a stellar reputation treated Patti Frustaci at Tyler Medical Clinics Inc., of West Los Angeles, where Marik was a part owner. He treated Patti with the drug Pergonal, a fertility drug used for fertility issues in women, especially women who are anovulatory and oligo ovular.
When ultrasound examinations performed during the following January revealed the presence of seven fetuses which meant that the fetuses had a slim chance of surviving until term. When Patti’s obstetrician warned of the possible outcome, and counseled her to have a selective abortion by which a doctor would remove several of the fetuses in order that the remaining unborn offsprings would have a better chance of survival. Being Mormons by faith, the Frustacis invoked God’s teaching and spurned abortion.
Patti Frustaci got admitted in St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, California on March 25, 1985.
A 38-member medical team was constituted at St. Joseph Hospital to assist Patti’s obstetrician, Dr. Martin Feldman, in what was to become the first largest multiple births in the medical history of the United States of America.
The average duration of a normal pregnancy is 280 days (40 weeks), calculated from the first day of the last menstrual period, with 85 to 95% babies born between the 266th and the 294th days. Common deviations thus range up to 14 days in either direction. However, in the Frustaci case, the medical team determined that the babies would have a better chance of survival if they completed 28 weeks of gestation in the mother’s womb before their birth.
Patti’s hypertension threatened to deprive the fetuses of nutrition. As a result of hypertension, the team of doctors scheduled the surgery after her condition declined from good to fair.
On May 21, 1985, Patti Frustaci was wheeled into the delivery room at St. Joseph Hospital.
Beginning at 8:19 am, the operation went smoothly without any hitch led by Dr. Martin Feldman. It took only three minutes for the caesarean section team to deliver the first septuplets in the United States, prematurely at 28 weeks. For Dr. Feldman, it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
The seventh-born septuplet, later named Christina Elizabeth, was stillborn, apparently died in the uterus several days before. The 32-year-old Samuel Frustaci, had a moment alone with the stillborn baby and held it as did his wife Patti after she came out of the general anesthesia.
The weights of the septuplets ranged from 15.5 ounces (439.42 grams) to 1 pound 13 ounces (822.14 grams).
About 10 minutes after delivery, to compensate for the immaturity of their lungs and immune systems, the six surviving Frustaci septuplets requiring a higher level of care were transferred to the adjacent CHOC Children’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at St. Joseph Hospital and placed on respirators and antibiotics.
At St. Joseph Hospital, where the babies were delivered and as Patti Frustaci remained in the intensive care unit, the switchboard was flooded with calls of well-wishers. Many of the calls were from new mothers offering support, prayers and outgrown baby clothes. Also, bouquets of flowers and huge baskets filled with stuffed toys arrived at the hospital.
On Thursday, May 23, 1985, the sixth-born septuplet, David Anthony, the tiniest of the six Frustaci septuplets who survived birth, nicknamed “Peanut,” went into “respiratory distress” around 7 pm. The doctors were able to resuscitate him. He died the following day, Friday, May 24, 1985, at 12:34 am.
Peanut was brought to Patti from CHOC after he died, and she held him for about an hour. According to Samuel Frustaci, the hardest thing for Patti is the fact that she never got the chance to see (Peanut) alive.
On Wednesday, May 29, 1985, around 12:30 pm, wearing a lavender robe and cradling a bouquet of roses, a joyous Patti Frustaci emerged from St. Joseph Hospital on a wheelchair to the cheers and applause of employees of the hospital. A jubilant Samuel Frustaci accompanied his wife Patti, passing a horde of reporters got into a waiting car en route to the home of Patti’s parents where she would continue recuperating while her five surviving septuplets remained behind at CHOC. A wagon full of stuffed animals attached to balloons followed her car.
The second-born septuplet, James Martin, who was in the most critical condition and had been given a 50-50 chance of survival died after 16 days on June 6, 1985.
Three days later, on Sunday, June 9, 1985, Bonnie Marie, the fourth-born septuplet, who for so long beat the odds against her survival, died at 12:25 pm. She lasted a week longer than they gave her.
All three infants succumbed to cardiopulmonary failure and arrest due to severe hyaline membrane disease, a disorder of the alveoli and respiratory passages that result in the inadequate expansion of the lungs.
The three surviving septuplets, two boys, and one girl: Steven Earl, Richard Charles and Patricia Ann, were on oxygen and medication to fight infection. Because of their traumatic birth, the doctors suspected that both boys may also have cerebral palsy. The Children’s Hospital of Orange County released them one at a time beginning in mid-August 1985 as they recovered from problems that afflict premature babies.
Extraordinary expenses such as the cost of their medical care amounted to more than $1 million, offset only partially by offers of free food, goods and services and an exclusive interview contract with People magazine. As the infants died, many withdrew their endorsements and many offers never materialized.
The first birthday for the three surviving Frustaci septuplets was marked by disclosures that the two boys have cerebral palsy and all three suffer from eye, hearing and breathing disorders. The two boys had hernia surgery and all the infants attached to monitors that sound a warning when breathing stops.
Initially, the Frustacis considered the births as a “blessing”” on their family, but grieved the loss of four children. Then the reality of caring for three premature infants quickly became an ordeal.
Since they followed the Mormon faith, it stands to reason that the outcome of the pregnancy was God’s will. But since they could not sue God, the Frustacis went after the next best candidates, the Taylor Clinic and Dr Jaroslav Marik.
On October 7, 1985, the Frustacis filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against Tyler Medical Clinics Inc. of West Los Angeles, the fertility clinic that treated Patti Frustaci, and her physician, Dr Jaroslav Marik who prescribed and injected Patti Frustaci with the fertility drug Pergonal.
The suit accused the clinic and the physician of failing to monitor fertility medication properly and to perform tests that could have indicated the potential for multiple births before conception. It blamed them for health and developmental disabilities of the surviving three babies afflicted with eye problems and considered developmentally retarded.
The suit also alleged medical malpractice, four wrongful deaths of their babies, loss of earnings and of earning capacity as a result of the overprescription of the fertility drugs. The Frustacis sought $1 million for current and future medical expenses, and $1.25 million for non-economic losses – $250,000 for each parent and for each of the three surviving infants.
The fertility clinic admitted no wrongdoing.
In July 1990, the Tyler Medical clinic agreed to pay $450,000 immediately and the three children would receive monthly payments for the rest of their lives. If the surviving three children live to a normal life expectancy, the award could total $6 million.
Dr Marik, the fertility specialist who treated Patti Frustaci, refused to participate in the agreement. The doctor said at a news conference that he was not to blame for the plight of the Frustaci septuplets because Mrs Frustaci was a patient who did not follow instructions and had a tendency to decide what she wanted to do.
On Monday, June 22, 1987, Patti Frustaci was driving from Las Vegas to Barstow on Interstate 15 with her three surviving septuplets. Her van got stuck in the sand in the middle of the highway when she tried to make a U-turn across the centre divider. California Highway Patrol officers arrested her on suspicion of drunken driving. She was released five hours later on her own recognizance and her 2-year-old infants were handed over to their father.
On December 21, 1990, Five and a half years after the birth of the septuplets, the 36-year-old Patti Frustaci treated with the same fertility drug, Pergonal at another clinic gave birth to healthy twins – a boy and a girl, at Loma Linda University Medical Center in Loma Linda, California. They named them Jordan Browne and Jaclyn Lee.
Pathetically, the family broke up. Samuel and Patti Frustaci divorced a few years later.