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Welcome To Vilcabamba
"The Sacred Valley of Longevity"

This Is A Privately Circulated Blog, scribbled exclusively for Friends & Familiars, that peers into and pontificates about Expat life in the hinterlands of South America. If your eyesight is less than optimal (like mine), then just click the type size up a notch on your browser..

Here you will find a series of curmudgeonly commentaries that I've posted from atop my rickety old soapbox for the past few years. And yes, there are indeed political rantings, so place your seats in the upright position and fasten your seat belts .... it may be a bumpy ride.


US Healthcare Controversy

Let me say a few words about the pending US Healthcare legislation: it doesn't effect or interest me! That's it, folks. Those are my few words. But I realize that it is indeed important to you, my friends, familars and fortuitous readers. So I suppose a few more thoughts on the subject are in order.

Let me put it this way, in the past year and a half I have spent exactly $25.00 on what I used to call "doctor''s bills". That's what the one and only physician whom I've needed to consult during this period of time charged me for the HOUR that I spent in his treatment room. That is in contrast to the $125.00 I spent the last time I was in a doctor's office in Hawaii .... for 12 minutes! Granted, my US doctor had a lot of sick people to see, while the Ecuadorian physician had only a few healthy folks in his waiting room who momentarily needed some kind of help. So the local doctor figured that if one of his clients got "sick" it was because his preventative care did not work properly, and his service was charged accordingly.

Now, you might think that I'm heading toward a discussion about the differences in healthcare prices between the US and Latin America. I'm not.

What I'd like to take a moment or two to point out is that I simply DON'T have need of an insurance-oriented healthcare system. Why? Because of basic LIFESTYLE changes that I made at the ripe old age of 80. I'm now spending a fraction of the costs of my former medications for a few supplements, which is all I seem to require these days.

And it's not just what I'm saving in the way of healthcare costs, it is also the kind of savings that the entire United States could be enjoying with such a lifestyle change. Let me explain:

The BIG, HUGE elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about is the kind of self-inflicted illness that is now an epidemic in the whole world. The fastest growth of these illnesses is found in diabetes. Here's some data from my friend Jon Barron, at the Baseline For Health Foundation.

Just days ago, The Medical News published the latest analysis which showed that the cost of diabetes and pre-diabetes had reached $218 BILLION in 2007, with the exploding number of cases of type 2 diabetes responsible for the majority of these costs. And those numbers are three years old! Update them and over the next 10 years you're looking at an average of a quarter of a TRILLION dollars spent just in the United States alone. That, dear friends, is $2.5 trillion dollars unnecessarily spent on just one lifestyle-oriented disease alone. To put that into perspective, if the people of the US didn't give themselves diabetes through bad choices of diet and lifestyle, the savings alone would cover:

1. All costs associated with any healthcare bill that congress could conceivably pass, including covering all those not currently covered.
2. 100% of the disgraceful bankster bailout on Wall Street.
3. 100% of the stimulus handouts.

That's with no new taxes, and that is just one single disease.

Look, this ain't rocket science. The only way healthcare can survive is if YOU take back control of your own health and start doing those things that allow your body to stay healthy without the need of ILLNESS CARE! That's what it really is, not HEALTH care.

And by the way, remember my $25.00 visit to the doctor? Well, it was to get a laboratory Basic Chemistry work-up, just to make sure nothing was sneaking up on me. But as my friend and neighbor Mike Adams The Health Ranger points out, one's health is NOT defined by having blood tests return certain results within a specific range: That my LDL cholesterol needs to be between X and Y, for example, and my blood pressure needs to be lower than Z. That does not equate with the QUALITY OF LIFE HEALTHINESS that I'm interested in achieving and then maintaining.

To learn more about how I have taken responsibility and control of my own former type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure with a plant-based diet, you can check out:


GIGO (Garbage IN-Garbage OUT

This is a much longer post than most of my Epistles, but it's a VERY big subject. Here in Vilcabamba, we are in the epicenter of the 2012 "thingee". I've been reading all of the books and articles, listen to learned dispositions about why the world as we know it will be swept away on December 21, 2012. And, frankly, none of it "computes". When my neighbor lent me his DVD of the movie "2012" I found myself simply sinking into FEAR! That's not the way that I choose to live. So, what to think about it all?

Then I came across this article by a fellow named Ray Villard .... and he makes sense in a much more positive way than most of the doomsayers. So I present his thoughts to you herewith.


By Ray Villard who takes on some of the more popular doomsday theories, debunking each in turn.

A hypothetical planet called Nibiru -- or Planet X -- is often the root of many doosmday scenarios. In reality no such harbinger of doom exists.

In the early days of computers, when hard drives weighed as much as a piece of furniture, a popular phrase was "Garbage-in, Garbage-out" (GIGO). It meant that computers would unquestioningly process the most nonsensical of input data and produce nonsensical output.

"GIGO" describes the abysmal lack of intelligent thought and critical thinking on the Internet when it comes to all the hysteria about the end of the world coming on December 21, 2012 -- just in time to ruin Christmas.

I'm getting e-mail about this weekly and I expect the nonsense to ratchet up.

This latest installment in decades of flaky astronomical apocalypse predictions is loosely based on the Mayan calendar that marks the end of a 5,126-year era. Apparently the Mayans knew something about the heavens we don't, according to numerous hot-selling 2012 doomsday books on the market. Our multi-billion dollar telescopes, space probes, and 6,000 professional astronomers somehow just can't keep up with the mystic knowledge of an ancient superstitious culture.

With the much-ballyhooed release of the film "2012" opening on November 13, end of world chatter will be the topic from backyard cookouts, to bars, to wine and cheese parties.

I am listing the 10 most popular 2012 end-of-world scenarios and providing a quickie reference guide to use in politely dismissing any friends, relatives, or in-laws whose brains have turned into a pile of GIGO mush after being suckered by the End of Days hype.

The ten top 2012 doomsday scenarios, in reverse order:

10. Changes in the Sun's magnetic field will lead to powerful flares.

So what else is new under the sun? The sun goes though a well-documented 11-year sunspot cycle that is driven by its magnetic field entangling, reforming and flipping polarity. Yes, the peak of the next cycle is in 2012 (or 2013), and some predictions suggest it might be 30 to 50 percent stronger than the last peak.

But experts say it will certainly not be the biggest peak ever recorded.

The bottom line is that no dragon's breath of flame will stretch across 100 million miles of space and blowtorch Earth. The largest solar flare recorded to date, on Nov. 4, 2003, spewed several billions of tons of plasma in Earth's direction. The flare's X-ray radiation that impacted our protective atmosphere had the equivalent radiation of 5,000 suns.

We're still here.

9. The Earth's magnetic field will reverse.

Don't hold you breath. The last field reversal happened nearly 800,000 years ago. Fred Flintstone and our other ancestor cavemen survived. Geological evidence shows that the field has reversed its orientation tens of thousands of times over Earth history. Yet there is no definitive evidence that a magnetic field reversal has ever caused any mass extinction due to increased cosmic ray influx.

8. The Earth's rotation axis will tip.

This isn't nearly as easy as tipping cows. Unlike Mars, which does go though wide excursions in it axial tilt, Earth's tilt is kept steady by the gravitational influence of the moon. An object the size of Mars would have to hit Earth to transfer enough momentum to knock us out of kilter. But Mars-sized protoplanets were kicked into interstellar space over 4 billion years ago. The solar system doesn't make "planets-gone-wild" anymore.

7. A grand alignment of Jupiter and Saturn will gravitationally perturb Earth.

For the past several decades there have been doomsday claims that the combined gravity from grand planetary alignments will cause geologic and meteorological upheavals on Earth.

None are scheduled for 2012.

In 1962 an extremely rare grand conjunction of the classical naked-eye planets drove astrologers crazy. The conjunction happened on Feb. 4-5 and was accompanied by a solar eclipse! The most infamous grand conjunction was in 1982 and popularized in a book called "The Jupiter Effect," which predicted earthquakes and massive tides. Life went on as usual both years. The moon has a vastly greater gravitational influence on Earth than Jupiter. It's called location, location, location! At a whopping distance of 400 million miles from Earth, Jupiter's tug is pretty wimpy.

6. The Sun will align with the galactic equator on the winter solstice.

So what? These are simply coordinates in the sky. It has no physical reality any more than the intersection of Broadway and 7th Avenue at Times Square influences the geology of Manhattan Island. This is greatly confused with the fact that the sun's position actually oscillates up and down as it orbits the galaxy, like a horse on a carousel.

We pass through the galactic plane every 35 to 40 million years. It's possible that an increased number of comets might be hurled towards the Earth because of gravitational interaction with the densest parts of our galaxy during this passage. But we are talking about the consequences spanning many thousands of years, not crashing down on our heads in any one specific year.

5. The black hole in the galactic center will affect us.

The Milky Way's black hole has no influence on the galactic disk. The black hole is three million solar masses. The Milky Way is several trillion solar masses when we add the tug of dark matter. Any gravitational influence of the black hole over the galaxy would be like the tail wagging the dog. The Milky Way's collision with the Andromeda galaxy will dump gas into the black hole and it will blaze as a quasar. But that's several billion years away.

4. An asteroid will smash into Earth.

A threatening near-Earth asteroid that's gotten the most press is the 900-foot wide Apophis. But its chances of collision have been downgraded to 1 in 250,000 at its next close approach in 2029. In theory, an uncharted asteroid or comet could come out of the blue tomorrow. But if we don't know about it today, the Mayans certainly didn't know about it 1,200 years ago. Earth-killer impacts are tens of millions of years apart. So there's no reason to be a doomsday clock-watcher.

3. The rogue planet Nibiru will swing by Earth.

There isn't such a planet any more than the planet Naboo from the Star Wars trilogy is real. Purported Internet pictures of the interloper are photographic lens flares or hoaxes. Don't believe every dot you see photographed in the sky.

2. Supernovae or hypernovae will irradiate Earth.

There are no stars that are so close to Earth that radiation from their supernova demise would seriously affect us. The nearest candidate, the red giant Betelgeuse, is predicted to explode in the next 1,000 years. The monster star Eta Carinae is also on a short fuse. Neither doomed star has a spin axis precisely aimed at Earth, so we don't have to worry about being fried by a narrow beam of gamma rays ejected from the core's implosion. In fact the kinds of stars that shoot out these Death Star beams are uncommon in the Milky Way. Earth has a one percent chance of getting zapped over 10 billion years. Scratch gamma ray bursts off of your homeowner's insurance policy.

1. A cloud of negative energy engulfs the solar system.

Wow! A dark cloud with a bad attitude! This sound suspiciously like a Star Trek episode. Dark energy is all around us already, but it is not packaged into clouds. The same goes for dark matter.