Tuesday, July 23, 2013

LIVE YOUR LIFE & BE HAPPY !!! : Top five regrets of the dying

A nurse has recorded the most common regrets of the dying, and among the top ones is 'I wish I hadn't worked so hard'. 

What would your biggest regret be if this was your last day of life?

Wednesday 1 February 2012 06.49 EST

A palliative nurse has recorded the top five regrets of the dying. Photograph: Montgomery Martin/Alamy

There was no mention of more sex or bungee jumps. 

A palliative nurse who has counselled the dying in their last days has revealed the most common regrets we have at the end of our lives. And among the top, from men in particular, is 'I wish I hadn't worked so hard'.

Bronnie Ware is an Australian nurse who spent several years working in palliative care, caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives. 

She recorded their dying epiphanies in a blog called Inspiration and Chai, which gathered so much attention that she put her observations into a book called The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.

Ware writes of the phenomenal clarity of vision that people gain at the end of their lives, and how we might learn from their wisdom. "When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently," she says, "common themes surfaced again and again."

Here are the top five regrets of the dying, as witnessed by Ware:

1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

"This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it."

2. I wish I hadn't worked so hard.

"This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children's youth and their partner's companionship. Women also spoke of this regret, but as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence."

3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.

"Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result."

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

"Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying."

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

"This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called 'comfort' of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content, when deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again."

Cuba After Communism : The Economic Reforms That Are Transforming the Island

Julia E. Sweig and Michael J. Bustamante
July/August 2013
Article Summary and Author Biography

¡Adelante! A car for sale in Havana, February 2012 (Desmond Boy Lan / Courtesy Reuters)

At first glance, Cuba’s basic political and economic structures appear as durable as the mid-century American cars still roaming its streets. 

The Communist Party remains in power, the state dominates the economy, and murals depicting the face of the long-dead revolutionary Che Guevara still appear on city walls. 

Predictions that the island would undergo a rapid transformation in the manner of China or Vietnam, let alone the former Soviet bloc, have routinely proved to be bunk. 

But Cuba does look much different today than it did ten or 20 years ago, or even as recently as 2006, when severe illness compelled Fidel Castro, the country’s longtime president, to step aside. Far from treading water, Cuba has entered a new era, the features of which defy easy classification or comparison to transitions elsewhere.

Three years ago, Castro caused a media firestorm by quipping to an American journalist that “the Cuban model doesn’t even work for us anymore.” 

Tacitly embracing this assessment, Fidel’s brother Raúl Castro, the current president, is leading a gradual but, for Cuba, ultimately radical overhaul of the relationship between the state, the individual, and society, all without cutting the socialist umbilical cord. 

So far, this unsettled state of affairs lacks complete definition or a convincing label. “Actualization of the Cuban social and economic model,” the Communist Party’s preferred euphemism, oversells the degree of ideological cohesion while smoothing over the implications for society and politics. 

For now, the emerging Cuba might best be characterized as a public-private hybrid in which multiple forms of production, property ownership, and investment, in addition to a slimmer welfare state and greater personal freedom, will coexist with military-run state companies in strategic sectors of the economy and continued one-party rule.

Read entire article here:

The CIA Wants To Control The Weather Through 'Geoengineering'


The CIA will partially fund a $630,000 study by the National Academy of Sciences that will investigate how humans could influence the Earth's climate using 'geoengineering.'

According to Mother Jones' Dana Liebelson and Chris Mooney, the project will look into several techniques for altering the environment to prevent climate change.

The first, known as "solar radiation management," works by pumping chemicals into the atmosphere that reflect some of the sun's rays back into space in order to reduce the amount of heat retained due to greenhouse gases. 

The second method relies on removing greenhouse gases like carbon monoxide from the atmosphere to counteract the emissions from power plants and automobiles.

This technique has already been attempted on a small scale. Last year, an American entrepreneur named Russ George attempted to create an algae bloom that would theoretically suck CO2 out of the atmosphere by dumping iron filings into the Pacific Ocean. Much like fertilizer for plants, the filings provided vital nutrients to the algae and led to the formation of a large bloom.

The effectiveness of this method is still unclear. If the algae die and sink to the ocean floor, the CO2 they absorb is effectively sequestered. 

But if fish eat the algae before they can sink, their metabolism will re-emit those gases back into the atmosphere, cancelling out any environmental benefit. 

Many scientists assume that the latter is the more likely outcome, which is why the scientific community has for the most part condemned George's experiment.

As for why the CIA is involved with projects attempting to alter the Earth's climate, a spokesperson told Mother Jones, "It's natural that on a subject like climate change the Agency would work with scientists to better understand the phenomenon and its implications on national security."

Read more:


Holy Haitian Mango, Batman!

This entry is part 5 of 8 in the series 

Holy Haitian Mango, Batman!

Look what I found!!

 I tell you folks, these babies from Haiti were monstrous! 

 And not only that, the whole lot of them were beautiful, clean and undamaged. 

What a TREAT!

Haitian Mango. Madame Francis Mango. Francine Mango.

In an earlier post, I covered theAtaulfo mango, and I’ll give it to you – the Haitian mango looks an awful lot like an Ataulfo. But it isn’t.

The Haitian mango (also known as the Francine mango or the Madame Francis mango) is – as you can see- a fair degree heftier than its friend, the Ataulfo mango. 

They do share that wonderful, buttery smooth flesh with the Ataulfos, though, and that is why I’m a huge fan!!!!

The Haitian mangoes have just a six-to-eight week season, so you have to watch carefully for them in late spring. 

The mangoes I purchased were part of Whole Foods’ Fair Trade program. 

In the case of Haiti, Whole Foods is the sole buyer of Certified Organic mangoes from small Haitian growers – sometimes buying from individuals or families with just a single tree!

I’m guessing the Haitians were really thrilled to get some solid export dollars for their mangoes – and I for one, was happy to do my part as a consumer.

Hurray for Haitian mangoes!

Oh, and one more thing – when I brought my Haitian mangoes home, they were still greenish – yellow. 

I let them ripen in my pantry until they were bright yellow with little wrinkles. Bottom line, never be afraid to bring home a green mango!

World’s Best Restaurant: One-Year Wait, Dancing Ice Cream

By Richard Vines - Jul 22, 2013 7:00 PM ET

The day El Celler de Can Roca was named World’s Best Restaurant, its website got 12 million hits.

That’s according to Josep Roca, one of the three brothers who own the establishment in Girona, Spain

The waiting list for a table has grown to one year from 10 months before the award on April 29. 

There is a backlog of 3,000 requests.

Sourdough ice cream with cocoa pulp, fried lychee and sherry-vinegar meringue. The dessert is served atop a hole punched in sourdough and a concealed motor keeps it wobbling. Photographer: Richard Vines/Bloomberg

Joan, Jordi and Josep Roca stand outside El Celler de Can Roca in Girola, Spain. The three brothers run the restaurant together. Photographer: Richard Vines/ Bloomberg.

Caramelized olives, stuffed with anchovy, served on an olive tree at El Celler de Can Roca in Girona. It is only one of many visually striking dishes from the Roca brothers. Photographer: Richard Vines/Bloomberg

Across the road from the three-Michelin-star El Celler de Can Roca is the family's bar-restaurant. It's inexpensive and popular with locals. Photographer: Richard Vines/Bloomberg

“We have three employees whose only job is to say no,” Josep, 47, says in an interview -- via an interpreter -- beside the dining room in the unfancy suburb of Taiala-Germans Sabat.

Josep is in charge of front of house and the wines. He is flanked by his brothers Joan, 49, the head chef, and Jordi, 35, the patissier. A restaurant owned by their parents is just around the corner, and all three were born and bred in the neighborhood, where they still live.

There’s no sign that the title -- which followed the award of a third Michelin star in 2009 -- has gone to the heads of the siblings. They are softly spoken and shy, waiting their turn to speak and saying they always get on because they have to.

The restaurant is a beautiful and uncluttered place. There’s a small garden with natural light at the center of the room, which has wooden floors, large windows looking out onto a leafy street and small spotlights picking out the tables. It comfortably seats 50, with about 30 chefs in the kitchen.

There are two menus, with reasonable prices for this level of gastronomy: 140 euros ($184) or 175 euros. Matching wines are 55 euros or 85 euros. The wine list -- so large it arrives on its own piece of furniture -- is particularly good value.

Berlin Meal

I’ve met Joan twice previously, most recently three days before my meal. It was an event in Berlin where he was cooking with Ferran Adria of El Bulli, which won the World’s Best Restaurant title five times. (I head the U.K. and Ireland panel for those awards.) Joan worked at El Bulli in 1989. The friendship and mutual respect between the chefs is clear.

Adria’s influence can be seen in Joan’s food. Yet El Celler de Can Roca is not another El Bulli.

I ate at El Bulli twice, including a 48-course dinner in the weeks before it closed in July 2011. Adria pushes culinary boundaries. His cooking is about exploring the creative process: sometimes succeeding, sometimes failing, always experimenting.

Roca’s approach to avant-garde gastronomy is to couple his imagination with modern techniques to enhance Catalan gastronomy. His dishes build on expectations as much as they challenge them. He seeks to marry modernity with tradition.

Mexico, Morocco

A meal at El Celler de Can Roca may begin with five canapes representing Joan’s travels, including a ceviche broth for Peru; guacamole, tomato seed, tomato water and coriander for Mexico; and almond, rose, honey, saffron, ras el hanout spices, goat and yogurt for Morocco.

After that, candied olives stuffed with anchovy are served on a miniature olive tree, then crispy shrimp -- like a luxury prawn cracker -- followed by zucchini omelet and vermouth candy, then summer-truffle bonbon and brioche. Finish these nibbles, and you are ready for the actual meal.

The highlights include a signature dish called Mandala: Slivers of Iberian suckling pig with the crispiest skin are at the center of a plate with artichokes, artichoke flowers, orange, lemon and beetroot. 

It’s colorful, light and delicate, each flavor distinct and yet part of a harmonious mix.

Razor clams come with nine kinds of seaweed; grilled king prawn with seawater and a sponge cake of plankton; Amontillado-steamed langoustine with bisque veloute and Jerez caramel; lamb breast and sweetbreads with eggplant, coffee and licorice. Each dish is inventive and enjoyable.

Slow Disco

Just when you think nothing can surprise you more, the first of Jordi’s desserts shows up. This is ice cream with cocoa pulp, fried lychee and sherry-vinegar meringue. The flavor is complex but the most distinctive fact is that the ice cream dances like a slow-motion disco ball above a lump of what looks like sourdough, powered by a concealed motor.

I’ve had two of the most amazing meals of my life at El Bulli, and another two inventive and delightful ones at Noma, which won the World’s 50 Best title for three straight years. 

El Celler de Can Roca is a match for those two establishments.

Book now and you can look forward to one of the best meals of your life -- in July 2014.

The Bloomberg Questions

Cost? From about 200 euros a head.

Sound level? Hushed, below 70 decibels.

Inside tip? Be patient.

Special feature? World’s best restaurant.

Will I be back? Yes.

Date place? It’s a place to propose.

Rating? ****

El Celler de Can Roca, 48 Can Sunyer, Girona, 17007.

 Information: +34-972-222-157 


What the Stars Mean: 

**** Incomparable food, service, ambience. 

 *** First-class of its kind. 

 ** Good, reliable. 

 * Fair. 

 (No stars) Poor. 

Sound-Level Chart (in decibels):

 65-70: Office noise.

 70-75: Starbucks. 

75-80: London street.

 80-85: Alarm clock at closest range.

 85-90: Passing bus.

 85-95: Tube train.

(Richard Vines is the chief food critic for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. He is U.K. and Ireland chairman of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards. Opinions expressed are his own.)

Muse highlights include Manuela Hoelterhoff on opera, James Russell on architecture, Martin Gayford on European art and Hephzibah Anderson on books.

To contact the writer on the story: Richard Vines in London at or

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff

Recognizing the End of the Chinese Economic Miracle

Geopolitical Weekly

TUESDAY, JULY 23, 2013 - 04:08 


By George Friedman

Major shifts underway in the Chinese economy that Stratfor has forecast and discussed for years have now drawn the attention of the mainstream media. 

Many have asked when China would find itself in an economic crisis, to which we have answered that China has been there for awhile -- something not widely recognized outside China, and particularly not in the United States. 

A crisis can exist before it is recognized. 

The admission that a crisis exists is a critical moment, because this is when most others start to change their behavior in reaction to the crisis. 

The question we had been asking was when the Chinese economic crisis would finally become an accepted fact, thus changing the global dynamic.

Last week, the crisis was announced with a flourish. 

First, The New York Times columnist and Nobel Prize-recipient Paul Krugman penned a piece titled "Hitting China's Wall." 

He wrote, "The signs are now unmistakable: China is in big trouble. We're not talking about some minor setback along the way, but something more fundamental. The country's whole way of doing business, the economic system that has driven three decades of incredible growth, has reached its limits. You could say that the Chinese model is about to hit its Great Wall, and the only question now is just how bad the crash will be."

Later in the week, Ben Levisohn authored a column in Barron's called "Smoke Signals from China." 

He wrote, "In the classic disaster flick 'The Towering Inferno' partygoers ignored a fire in a storage room because they assumed it has been contained. Are investors making the same mistake with China?" 

He goes on to answer his question, saying, "Unlike three months ago, when investors were placing big bets that China's policymakers would pump cash into the economy to spur growth, the markets seem to have accepted the fact that sluggish growth for the world's second largest economy is its new normal."

Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs -- where in November 2001 Jim O'Neil coined the term BRICs and forecast that China might surpass the United States economically by 2028 -- cut its forecast of Chinese growth to 7.4 percent.

The New York Times, Barron's and Goldman Sachs are all both a seismograph of the conventional wisdom and the creators of the conventional wisdom. Therefore, when all three announce within a few weeks that China's economic condition ranges from disappointing to verging on a crash, it transforms the way people think of China. Now the conversation is moving from forecasts of how quickly China will overtake the United States to considerations of what the consequences of a Chinese crash would be. 

Doubting China

Suddenly finding Stratfor amid the conventional wisdom regarding China does feel odd, I must admit. 

Having first noted the underlying contradictions in China's economic growth years ago, when most viewed China as the miracle Japan wasn't, and having been scorned for not understanding the shift in global power underway, it is gratifying to now have a lot of company. 

Over the past couple of years, the ranks of the China doubters had grown. But the past few months have seen a sea change. We have gone from China the omnipotent, the belief that there was nothing the Chinese couldn't work out, to the realization that China no longer works.

It has not been working for some time. One of things masking China's weakening has been Chinese statistics, which Krugman referred to as "even more fictional than most." 

China is a vast country in territory and population. Gathering information on how it is doing would be a daunting task, even were China inclined to do so. Instead, China understands that in the West, there is an assumption that government statistics bear at least a limited relationship to truth. 

Beijing accordingly uses its numbers to shape perceptions inside and outside China of how it is doing. The Chinese release their annual gross domestic product numbers in the third week of January (and only revise them the following year). 

They can't possibly know how they did that fast, and they don't. 

But they do know what they want the world to believe about their growth, and the world has believed them -- hence, the fantastic tales of economic growth. 

China in fact has had an extraordinary period of growth. 

The last 30 years have been remarkable, marred only by the fact that the Chinese started at such a low point due to the policies of the Maoist period. 

Growth at first was relatively easy; it was hard for China to do worse. 

But make no mistake: China surged. 

Still, basing economic performance on consumption, Krugman notes that China is barely larger economically than Japan. 

Given the compounding effects of China's guesses at GDP, we would guess it remains behind Japan, but how can you tell? We can say without a doubt that China's economy has grown dramatically in the past 30 years but that it is no longer growing nearly as quickly as it once did.

China's growth surge was built on a very unglamorous fact: Chinese wages were far below Western wages, and therefore the Chinese were able to produce a certain class of products at lower cost than possible in the West. 

The Chinese built businesses around this, and Western companies built factories in China to take advantage of the differential. Since Chinese workers were unable to purchase many of the products they produced given their wages, China built its growth on exports

For this to continue, China had to maintain its wage differential indefinitely. 

But China had another essential policy: Beijing was terrified of unemployment and the social consequences that flow from it. This was a rational fear, but one that contradicted China's main strength, its wage advantage. 

Because the Chinese feared unemployment, Chinese policy, manifested in bank lending policies, stressed preventing unemployment by keeping businesses going even when they were inefficient. 

China also used bank lending to build massive infrastructure and commercial and residential property. 

Over time, this policy created huge inefficiencies in the Chinese economy. Without recessions, inefficiencies develop. Growing the economy is possible, but not growing profitability. Eventually, the economy will be dragged down by its inefficiency.

Inflation vs. Unemployment

As businesses become inefficient, production costs rise. And that leads to inflation. As money is lent to keep inefficient businesses going, inflation increases even more markedly. 

The increase in inefficiency is compounded by the growth of the money supply prompted by aggressive lending to keep the economy going. 

As this persisted over many years, the inefficiencies built into the Chinese economy have become staggering.

The second thing to bear in mind is the overwhelming poverty of China, where 900 million people have an annual per capita income around the same level as Guatemala, Georgia, Indonesia or Mongolia ($3,000-$3,500 a year), while around 500 million of those have an annual per capita income around the same level as India, Nicaragua, Ghana, Uzbekistan or Nigeria ($1,500-$1,700). 

China's overall per capita GDP is around the same level as the Dominican Republic, Serbia, Thailand or Jamaica. 

Stimulating an economy where more than a billion people live in deep poverty is impossible. 

Economic stimulus makes sense when products can be sold to the public. 

But the vast majority of Chinese cannot afford the products produced in China, and therefore, stimulus will not increase consumption of those products. As important, stimulating demand so that inefficient factories can sell products is not only inflationary, it is suicidal. The task is to increase consumption, not to subsidize inefficiency.

The Chinese are thus in a trap. 

If they continue aggressive lending to failing businesses, they get inflation. 

That increases costs and makes the Chinese less competitive in exports, which are also falling due to the recession in Europe and weakness in the United States. 

Allowing businesses to fail brings unemployment, a massive social and political problem. 

The Chinese have zigzagged from cracking down on lending by regulating informal lending and raising interbank rates to loosening restrictions on lending by removing the floor on the benchmark lending rate and by increasing lending to small- and medium-sized businesses. Both policies are problematic.

The Chinese have maintained a strategy of depending on exports without taking into account the operation of the business cycle in the West, which means that periodic and substantial contractions of demand will occur. 

China's industrial plant is geared to Western demand. 

When Western demand contracted, the result was the mess you see now.

The Chinese economy could perhaps be growing at 7.4 percent, but I doubt the number is anywhere near that. 

Some estimates place growth at closer to 5 percent. 

Regardless of growth, the ability to maintain profit margins is rarely considered. 

Producing and selling at or even below cost will boost GDP numbers but undermines the financial system. 

This happened to Japan in the early 1990s. And it is happening in China now.

The Chinese can prevent the kind of crash that struck East Asia in 1997. 

Their currency isn't convertible, so there can't be a run on it. 

They continue to have a command economy; they are still communist, after all. 

But they cannot avoid the consequences of their economic reality, and the longer they put off the day of reckoning, the harder it will become to recover from it. They have already postponed the reckoning far longer than they should have. They would postpone it further if they could by continuing to support failing businesses with loans. 

They can do that for a very long time -- provided they are prepared to emulate the Soviet model's demise. 

The Chinese don't want that, but what they do want is a miraculous resolution to their problem. There are no solutions that don't involve agony, so they put off the day of reckoning and slowly decline.

China's Transformation

The Chinese are not going to completely collapse economically any more than the Japanese or South Koreans did. 

What will happen is that China will behave differently than before. 

With no choices that don't frighten them, the Chinese will focus on containing the social and political fallout, both by trying to target benefits to politically sensitive groups and by using their excellent security apparatus to suppress and deter unrest. 

The Chinese economic performance will degrade, but crisis will be avoided and political interests protected. Since much of China never benefited from the boom, there is a massive force that has felt marginalized and victimized by coastal elites. That is not a bad foundation for the Communist Party to rely on.

The key is understanding that if China cannot solve its problems without unacceptable political consequences, it will try to stretch out the decline. Japan had a lost decade only in the minds of Western investors, who implicitly value aggregate GDP growth over other measures of success such as per capita GDP growth or full employment. China could very well face an extended period of intense inwardness and low economic performance. The past 30 years is a tough act to follow.

The obvious economic impact on the rest of the world will fall on the producers of industrial commodities such as iron ore. The extravagant expectations for Chinese growth will not be met, and therefore expectations for commodity prices won't be met. 

Since the Chinese economic failure has been underway for quite awhile, the degradation in prices has already happened. 

Australia in particular has been badly hit by the Chinese situation, just as it was by the Japanese situation a generation ago.

The Chinese are, of course, keeping a great deal of money in U.S. government instruments and other markets. Contrary to fears, that money will not be withdrawn. 

The Chinese problem isn't a lack of capital, and repatriating that money would simply increase inflation. 

Had the Chinese been able to put that money to good use, it would have never been invested in the United States in the first place. 

The outflow of money from China was a symptom of the disease: Lacking the structure to invest in China, the government and private funds went overseas. 

In so doing, Beijing sought to limit destabilization in China, while private Chinese funds looked for a haven against the storm that was already blowing. 

Rather than the feared repatriation of funds, the United States will continue to be the target of major Chinese cash inflows. 

In a world where Europe is still reeling, only the United States is both secure and large enough to contain Chinese appetites for safety. 

Just as Japanese investment in the 1990s represented capital flight rather than a healthy investment appetite, so the behavior we have seen from Chinese investors in recent years is capital flight: money searching for secure havens regardless of return. 

This money has underpinned American markets; it is not going away, and in fact more is on the way. 

The major shift in the international order will be the decline of China's role in the region. 

China's ability to project military power in Asia has been substantially overestimated. 

Its geography limits its ability to project power in Eurasia, an endeavor that would require logistics far beyond China's capacity. 

Its naval capacity is still limited compared with the United States. 

The idea that it will compensate for internal economic problems by genuine (as opposed to rhetorical) military action is therefore unlikely. 

China has a genuine internal security problem that will suck the military, which remains a domestic security force, into actions of little value. 

In our view, the most important shift will be the re-emergence of Japan as the dominant economic and political power in East Asia in a slow process neither will really want.

China will continue to be a major power, and it will continue to matter a great deal economically. 

Being troubled is not the same as ceasing to exist. 

China will always exist. 

It will, however, no longer be the low-wage, high-growth center of the world. Like Japan before it, it will play a different role.

In the global system, there are always low-wage, high-growth countries because the advanced industrial powers' consumers want to absorb goods at low wages. 

Becoming a supplier of those goods is a major opportunity for, and disruptor to, those countries. 

No one country can replace China, but China will be replaced. 

The next step in this process is identifying China's successors.