Prime AGE Defense Aims to Counter Effects of Aging

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I am one that is amazed by the way the body functions. Each system seeks a balance with all the other systems within the body. When one criteria changes in one system, whether it’s the concentration of an enzyme, the presence of a virus, or a slightly increased pH level, the system changes to adapt and thereby potentially affects other systems.

As someone with a chemical engineering background and one who has trained himself to analyze systems to determine the root causes of failures, I struggle to imagine the complexity of the biological systems that doctors and researchers study to determine root causes of health problems. As an aside, had I known of the existence of the kind of doctor that Dr. House is, a diagnostician, I may have chosen that as my career path instead of engineering.

Perhaps it’s my long-standing interest in medicine that has kept me in loose contact with the research breakthroughs and scientific accomplishments in the medical field. Whatever the reason, I was impressed with some of the latest evidence being discovered in the area of anti-aging.

Apparently there is something called Advanced Glycation End-products, or AGEs, that are being traced to a variety of health problems. Basically, the thought process goes something like this:
Aging is simply the accumulated change to the building blocks of life: proteins, carbohydrates, fats, even DNA. Our environment starts to make the changes to these building blocks as soon as we’re conceived, but the signs really present themselves after we reach puberty. After puberty, the aging discussion turns to biological age versus the chronological age. The two ages begin to differ based on thing like our diets (whether we eat whole foods, fiber, excess processed foods, the hormones and chemicals present in what we eat, and even the serving size) and our lifestyles (whether we smoke, drink, exercise, sleep, have excessive sun exposure, or are subject to chronic stress). Eat poorly and live hard, your biological age will be much greater than your chronological age. We know this empirically; just look around: chronic tanners’ skin turns rough, smokers’ skin loses its collagen, etc.

The questions up to now have been why and what can we do about it?

The answers up to now have been to eat and live well, and/or supplement with things like a strong anti-oxidant, multi-vitamin, and omega 3’s.

Eating well has become more difficult with all the hormones that are pumped into our foods these days. Even organic-corn-fed open-range-bred chicken gets old after a while.

It seems the more recent research would indicate that even the recommended supplementation regimens are addressing the wrong area of the body. As I mentioned earlier, if one system suffers, they all potentially suffer. Well, up to now, supplementation attempted to pull the affected system back to health by pulling the secondary systems back to health.

The new research on AGEs has identified many health problems to be related to the aging process. Things like diabetes and heart disease may be able to be addressed by attempting to support the endocrine system. At the same time, the loss of collagen may be prevented, keeping our appearance healthy as we age.

Such are the claims for a new product from Market America: Prime AGE Defense. The list of benefits is impressive. Anyone who knows someone concerned about the way they will age over the next few decades should certainly investigate this for themselves. I, for one, am eager to “recalibrate” my biological systems.

The Wealthy Need a New Venture: The Next Frontier

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Looking back on the history of the US, it’s clear that although typical pioneers led the way into new territories looking for opportunity, it wasn’t until people of independent means moved there that civilization was brought to an area.

It was people with money to invest that backed the first caravans, who bankrolled the laying of the transcontinental railroad, and in many cases were best prepared to take advantage of the best opportunities available at the time. They may not have panned for gold, but they probably backed the company that sold the pans and pickaxes.

What is there these days? There are no more geographical frontiers anywhere in plain sight. The poles? The rainforests? The deserts? The wildernesses of the world are either politically protected or are showing little interest in repeating the growth of the American West. Today we have only financial frontiers, resulting in money being placed in new untested investments: first, hedgefunds; second, real estate; third, securitized debt and other derivatives–all of which may yet prove to be lousy creations of the financial mind.

The rich need somewhere to put their money. They need new frontiers. They need boundaries to push and horizons to expand.

What it comes down to, is that there needs to be a reason for normal people to seek out the colonization of sea and space and that reason needs to be stronger than mere tourism. It needs to be attractive and attainable to the masses and seen as a means to a better life.

I predict that whoever can create the demand for human travel to either of these locations (they don’t even need to be the source of how we’d get there) will dwarf Bill Gates in the amount of money at his disposal.

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Nature Abhors Centralization

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It’s often said, especially in the context of quitting a habit, that nature abhors a vacuum. Meaning that when you cease doing something, your natural tendency will be to begin a new habit, good or bad.

There is something else that nature abhors and that is centralization and uniformity.

Consider crystals: a crystal will grow more quickly in the presence of foreign particles that are not built into the crystal latticework. When foreign particles are not present, the crystal grows as one large unit. With foreign particles, many different units grow and combine into one large crystal. If each of these forms of the same material are exposed to the same forces, the crystal with the single unit is more likely to fracture first. The crystal with many units will be able to distribute a larger amount of forces throughout the boundaries of the units, giving it greater strength. Not only is the more uniform crystal less likely to occur naturally, but it is weaker than the crystal that will grow under normal conditions.

Consider genetics: the millions of years that life has been on earth have shown an uncountable number of genetic mutations. Even members of the same species (excluding asexually reproductive ones) vary drastically in both physical appearance and internal chemical functionality, that some are more resistant to infection, others run faster, others are smarter, etc. In this way, the entire species is protected from annihilation. If every member of a species were identical, they could all be wiped into extinction with one strain of a germ.

Consider terrorist cells: defeating terrorism has proven difficult in part because there is no command control structure. Unlike a nation or a traditionally organized movement which can be brought down by cutting off the head of the snake, the decentralized cell structure used by international terrorists insulate different cells from infiltration.

Consider computer networks: the mainframe was once considered the standard system for all computer networks. Unfortunately, it had the side effect of bringing down the entire system when the mainframe had a problem. The solution was to decentralize computing power to each workstation and have only shared information on the server. With proper data backup, the system is sound.

Consider Cisco, GE, and other large organizations: Fast Company recently spotlighted Cisco for the way they are pushing decision making farther down the organizational structure. Mistakes made in one division now don’t get carried over to the next. Contrast this model with that used in Ford and GM, where decisions are passed down through the heirarchy. If those decisions are wrong (as they have been over and over…), the company struggles and nearly fails.

Consider the Founding Fathers’ vision of the United States: Rather than putting all the governmental power into the hands of the feds, law making authority was distributed largely to the states. There were rules that prevented government on the federal level from infringing on the responsibilities of the states while at the same time providing benefits to the states collectively that they could not acheive on their own, like Justice, Tranquility, common defence, general Welfare, and the blessings of Liberty. If the power had been centralized from the start, surely, we would not have survived past the war of 1812 when Washington, D.C. was attacked and the White House was burned to the ground.

Why then, if nature hates having uniformity and centralized information, are we allowing our federal government to acquire and store our medical information? Why are we allowing our federal government the opportunity to consolidate power into itself when the history of the existence of life on earth and of the earth itself is providing us the hint that doing so is not strengthing anything; it is, in fact, weakening us.

Darwin Turns 200

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That’s right, February 12th this year commemorates Darwin’s birth 200 years ago. This bit of information was brought to my attention as I read the latest issue of “Fast Company.”

One thing, the first thing really, that I thought was peculiar about their treatment of the event was whom they had selected as “scientists, thinkers, and leaders” to make a comment. They included the lead singer of Third Eye Blind, Stephen Jenkins, and Heroes creator Tim Kring. Others selected were representatives of naturalism, pharma companies, genome projects, etc. Overall, only nine were selected, and of them, one spoke of breaking the monopoly on God. Another bastardized the understanding of evolution through a TV show. Still others spoke about evolution as something to be adjusted with their company’s drugs.

The diversity of perspective with total lack of knowledge was what impressed me.

It shouldn’t surprise me, though, in a culture where children and adults alike believe that Christopher Columbus proved the Earth was round, it makes perfect sense that the common belief is that Darwin discovered evolution.

Columbus, by the way, was a very lucky man. Every educated person of the time knew the world was round; that knowledge had been around (probably) since the time of the ancient Greeks. Everyone expected him to fail because the world was too large. In his arrogance, he claimed to be able to cross the sea and, in his luck, found a land mass not even half way through the journey.

Similarly, Darwin did not discover evolution, rather, he theorized the method of evolution being a process he called “natural selection.” The notion of evolution was already considered, because it was observed how children had traits of both parents, how horses could be bred to be bigger and stronger, how crops were made heartier by planting the seeds of the heartiest plants from the previous season. What Darwin posited was that the fittest will survive and pass on the genes. If adaptation was possible, those able to adapt most effectively will survive and pass on the genes.

This brings me to my concern. The theory is being applied to social behaviors, companies, and even ideas. One bit about genetics and darwinian evolution is that it can be detrimental to a population if one person were allowed to spread his genetic code to a significant portion of that population. The reasons why I’ll probably have to put off until a later post as this is starting to run long, because my concern is more with the hypocracy of scientists in general when it comes to the survival of ideas.

Rather than conceding the defeat of one scientific theory a particular goup of scientists may be studying, financial backing and their fear of its loss keeps them asserting a failed theory so long as they can put a band-aid on discrepancies between data and theory that arise.

In this way, it is not the strength of the argument that detemines whether an idea survives, but the stubbornness of the arguer.

Why We’ll Never Have Another Great Depression

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The Big D-word is being thrown around more and more often lately with all the bad news about the economy coming out all the time. Indeed, if the economic slowdown continues through to the end of 2009, the shear length of the recession will lend credence to the depression classification. However, there are a number of reasons that whatever we decide to call it and however long it takes to get through it, the severity will not rival what the world saw in the 1930’s. The economy has changed so drastically and our values have shifted so much that we as a people, believe it or not, have a greater ability to become self-sufficient.

1. Accessibility to information: 80 years ago, by the time you read anything in the newspaper or heard something on the radio, it often had already been a few days since the even transpired. These days, as soon as anything happens, news of the event can spread at near light speeds to anyone plugged into the news. Just today, January 15th, there was a plane crash in the Hudson River in New York City. Within minutes, no fewer than 10 people that I follow on Twitter had posted information on the crash. Some of these people were in NYC to report on the details as they unfolded. Information is being decentralized more everyday, enabling everyone to benefit. What if the news had instead been economic in nature? Savvy investors might read into the news and make decisions in minutes that used to take hours.

2. Small businesses: 80 years ago, the vast number of people were still employed at a handful of large corporations. The business of running a business was very labor intensive, with rooms of people at typewriters and adding machines, generating correspondence and performing calculations necessary to monitor a successful enterprise. These days, so many of the back office operations of a business have been either moved online with computers or outsourced to experts in their fields. This transition helped break the hold larger corporations had on America and the world and allowed people with the drive to make something for themselves to do exactly that and contribute more to society.

3. 401(k)’s and the like: 80 years ago, you went to school and did as well as you could so you could get into a good college and do as well as you could so you could get a good job and do as well as you could and let the company take care of you. They would tend to your needs with a salary commensurate with your skills and experience as well as medical care. After serving the company for a number of years, you’d receive a pension. These days, we know how the system works. Go to school, get a job, work. Put in your time as long as you want and hope that the company doesn’t decide that it doesn’t need your position any more. While you’re working, you’ll receive medical insurance that you will help pay for. You’re expected to contribute to your own retirement plan that the company may or may not help you with, the value of which is not guaranteed. After serving the company for several years, you earn a send-off party and maybe a gold-plated watch. While this doesn’t sound appealing at all when presented this way, it has forced the work force to think more independently, training us to always act in our own best interest and to look out for ourselves because no one else will.

4. Franchising: 80 years ago, if you wanted to start a business, you were required to prepare a business model and acquire the start-up capital. The capital might come in the form of a loan, which would have required a sizable amount of collateral, or in the form of investors, which would require people with money to invest. At the time, people inclined to start businesses did not have the collateral necessary for a loan, and (partly because of ever-changing government policies) people with money did not wish to invest it. These days are much more forgiving to potential business owners in that business models are sold in the form of franchises and banks have shown an inclination to lend to these proven business models with relatively little collateral.

5. Multi-Level Marketing: 80 years ago, in order to start your own business, you had to spend a considerable amount of time watching the numbers and operating your enterprise very closely. It was near impossible to build a real business while holding down a full time job. These days, part time businesses are common. The number of MLM companies for a potential business owner to choose from grows regularly. They range across a variety of different product lines and industries, each having a different method of compensating their workers. Bottom line, with an investment so small to be inconcievable during the last depression, an individual can purchase a business plan that can be executed in his spare time.

6. Affiliate Marketing: 80 years ago, if you were a salesman for a company, you typically earned a small salary, health benefits, and pension in addition to a commission. These days, with the advent and popularity of the Internet, it is possible to earn a living promoting other people’s businesses. Several big name stores opperate affiliate programs: Target, Best Buy, Wal-Mart, etc. By placing special links around the Internet in forums and on blogs that allow it, portions of every sale that result from someone clicking on those links earns the person who placed it there a commission. With no business plan and no capital outlay, it is possible to make money online.

7. 1-To-1 Marketing: 80 years ago, there was no franchising, MLM, or affiliate marketing programs, so there was no way to tie them together. Because even modern day affiliate marketing is only slightly younger than the Internet, 1-to-1 marketing is phenomenally new. Through the franchising process, someone who wants to run his own business has the ability to market other company’s products to earn a commission while participating in a mult-level-marketing plan to maximize earnings. Never in the history of the free world has such empowering tools been brought together in a simple, easy-to-use system. Such a system is a depression killer.