Sunday, January 27, 2013

Mind-Body System


The ancient purpose of yoga was to prepare the body for meditation. Yoga conditioned the body to relax so that the mind did not trigger adrenaline. Yoga conditioned the mind to not trigger adrenaline when using muscles.

After practicing yoga, the ancient purpose of meditation was to practice techniques to (1) condition the mind to not trigger adrenaline caused by thoughts and (2) condition the body to relax so that the mind did not trigger adrenaline caused by physical sensations.

Meditation techniques include focusing on each breath, focusing on patterned breathing, counting breaths, speaking or thinking a mantra or chant and other mental concentration methods. Meditation can be done while sitting, walking, swimming, driving or doing many activities. Meditation is the practice of conditioning the mind to stay calm and not trigger adrenaline.

The mind-body system uses feedback loops. If we sense danger then our mind triggers adrenaline so we can run, or stay and fight (the fight or flight syndrome). This is a reinforcing feedback loop in the sense that continued stress over time continues to trigger adrenaline. However in our modern society, we can neither run nor fight when we encounter stressful situations at work or in relationships. Our mind triggers the adrenaline and our muscles respond. Our heart rate increases, our blood pressure goes up, our stomach stops processing, our immune system is suppressed and we have other body chemistry changes. But we can not run or fight.

When this happens over time, the balancing feedback loops in our brain begin to loose their reservoir of neurotransmitters to calm the mind and stop the adrenaline. We start having physical symptoms that appear to be a medical condition but really our mind is triggering adrenaline and stimulating our muscles.

When the mind-body system has a balancing feedback loop that is not working properly then we start having physical symptoms that our mind misunderstands and that triggers more adrenaline. This causes more physical symptoms and triggers more adrenaline. This downward spiral leads to what we call anxiety attacks and panic attacks. We experience moods that swing above and below what is therapeutic. Our behavior changes and we get angry more easily, we feel exhausted and another downward spiral starts to take place that can lead to depression.

Being aware of how our mind-body system uses feedback is the first step in transforming our dilemma. The second step is to take action to practice calming the mind and body. Yoga and mediation are two methods, and there are several techniques within each method, to condition the mind and body to not trigger adrenaline.

Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is a combination of yoga and meditation to calm the mind-body system. This method has been shown to reduce the sensation of pain in cancer patients, and improve physical and emotional well-being (1).

Serotonin and SSRIs

The neurotransmitter in the brain that is the key part of the balancing feedback loop is serotonin. About one millionth of the neurotransmitters in the brain are serotonin. This neurotransmitter supports a multi-billion dollar drug industry producing Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) commonly called antidepressants. The drug based therapy (for anxiety, panic attacks and depression) is to prescribe an SSRI drug. Over time, the SSRI drug increases the reservoir of serotonin in the brain by blocking the receptors that take serotonin out of circulation.

Serotonin is the key part of the feedback loop between the mind and the body because this is how information is passed between the brain and the spinal cord in the central nervous system. As stress over time causes the level of serotonin to fall below a threshold, the mind misunderstands the information about sensations coming through the spinal cord from the body. The brain triggers adrenaline and the body experiences sensations from the rush of adrenaline. The information, about these additional sensations, is misunderstood by the mind and the brain triggers more adrenaline. The balancing feedback loop has stopped working when serotonin falls below a threshold and the reinforcing feedback loop takes over causing a downward spiral in behavior and mental stability.

SSRI drugs increase the reservoir of serotonin in the brain so that the mind begins to understand the information from the body and not react with more adrenaline. However, without conditioning the mind and body to stay calm, the old habits will return when the patient stops taking the SSRI drug. This can cause a meta-cycle of taking an SSRI and then not taking the drug only to experience symptoms of depression and anxiety again, and returning to taking the SSRI. This causes problems because these are psychotropic drugs that have side effects when ramping up or getting off the drugs.
1. For more information on Mindfulness, go to Wikipedia ( ) and the Center for Mindfulness ( ).

Friday, January 25, 2013

Climate Change Double Bind

The Republicans are expert verbal communicators. If Democratic politicians propose economic, environmental or energy policies related to climate change then the Republicans say the policies will have disastrous impacts on our economic competitiveness. If Democratic politicians believe our government can not impact climate change and that China and India will not harm their economies then the consequences of climate change will have a disastrous impact on our economy.

Republicans verbally create double bind arguments to make the Democratic politicians appear to be wrong no matter what they say or do. The way to deal with this behavior is to first become aware of when they are constructing a double bind argument and make the construct visible to them and the general public. State that the Republicans are saying that no matter what government does, government is wrong. That no matter what the Democratic politicians do, they are wrong.

Do not argue with them. Do not debate with them over details. Do not negotiate with them. Do not get mad at them. Do get angry. Do not threaten them.

Second, to make positive statements like Senator John Kerry did in his confirmation hearings when he said: “You want to do business and do it well in America, we gotta get into the energy race. … I’ll be a passionate advocate, but not based on ideology, based on fact, based on science. This $6 trillion market is worth millions of American jobs and we better go get it.” (

Third, promote transformation of the dilemma to go beyond right and wrong to include other options, possibilities and opportunities. The assumptions behind the Republican dialogue are two fold. First, they assume they have the authority to decide what is right and wrong for the country. Second, they assume that loyalty to America is how to decide what is right and wrong, and any deal on climate change or global energy policy is being disloyal to America.

You have to take the verbal stick away from the Republicans. They are verbally hitting Democrats who are always wrong no matter what they say or do.  The way to deal with them is the three step process described above. Tell the public about the dilemma, make positive statements and transform the dilemma into actions with options, possibilities and opportunities.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Climate Change as Double Bind

A double bind is when you are wrong no matter what you do. As a learned behavior, the double bind is a common problem in families and politics.

If America shuts down the fossil fuel industry then the US economy is threatened with collapse.
If America does not shut down the fossil fuel industry then the consequences of Climate Change will cause the US economy to collapse.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Regulate Guns

On January 16, 2013, President Obama released 23 executive orders to reduce gun violence. The president has, under existing law, the authority to block the import of weapons that aren't "generally recognized as particularly suitable for, or readily adaptable to sporting purposes." He has not taken this action yet.

What seems clear is that their inherent dangerousness precludes the idea that guns cannot be subject to governmental control.

Guns are unacceptably risky to others. Gun owners should be held to a standard of strict liability for harm caused by the use of their guns. Gun owners should be required to purchase liability insurance to cover potential losses.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Depression, Anxiety and Adrenaline

1. Lorazepam taken daily will help condition your mind to not trigger adrenaline that is causing the physical and mental symptoms. 
2. Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitor (SSRI) like sertraline or escitalopram will increase serotonin so that your mind does not trigger the adrenaline.
3. Mindfulness is a non-drug method of using meditation to get your mind to not trigger the adrenaline.

Practicing meditation and using mindfulness can help lower blood pressure and bring the heart rate back to 60 beats per second. 

This is not a sprint, this is a marathon that will last the rest of our lives.

One of the key messages is "in the present moment" and this means every moment.

Meditation is active mental conditioning to live in the present moment and stop the mind from triggering adrenaline.

Practice the mental activities of mindfulness anywhere, anytime.
Driving in your car, count your breaths then start  expanding your focus to include your sense of touch, your sense of visual awareness of what is to the left and right of you ahead.
Practice counting breaths while walking to focus the mind.

The goal is to stop the adrenaline.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Borrow Money for Debt Ceiling Limit

My Tweets Today
January 11, 2013

“@Richard_Turnock: President #Obama has insisted he will no longer negotiate spending concessions in exchange for a higher #debtceiling Do NOT negotiate.”

“@Richard_Turnock: #Obama borrow exactly enough money to cover the difference between funds in the #Treasury and expenditures required by law #congress #Debt”

“@Richard_Turnock: #Congress leaves #Obama  no constitutional options, he must choose the least unconstitutional one - borrowing money beyond the #debtceiling”

Borrow money beyond the debt ceiling limit to continue to pay for expenditures already authorized by congress.

Serotonin in the Brain

Having enough serotonin is critical to life.

Serotonin interacts with every other neurotransmitter in the brain.  However only one millionth of all the neurotransmitters are serotonin.  Low serotonin is a medical condition not a diminished mental capacity.

"...serotonergic neurons project in rich profusion to every part of the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord), where they influence the activity of virtually every neuron. This widespread influence implies that the serotonergic neurons play a fundamental role in the integration of behavior. Our sense of well-being and our capacity to organize our lives and to relate to others depend profoundly on the functional integrity of the serotonergic system."

My Brain Notes on Serotonin

Thursday, January 10, 2013


Examples of Poor Leadership

  • Constant turnover of administrators.
  • A culture obsessed with compliance over quality.
  • Lack of institutional knowledge about best practices.
  • An organizational chart that looks like a bad cartoon.
  • People in various buildings working at odds with each other, with no coordination or vision.
  • Employees who lack credentials and professional development.
  • Little accountability for poor results.
  • Little or no alignment up and down the organization or across departments of goals, objectives and strategic direction.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Close Coal Plants Causing Climate Change Pollution

Over the next three to five years (2014 to 2016) total shutdowns of 241 coal generators in 30 states — more than 36,000 MW of electric generation or 11 percent of the U.S. coal fleet.

Read more:

Released November 13, 2012 by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), a report spotlighted 353 coal-fired generating units nationwide that are among the walking dead—plants which would be more expensive to upgrade with modern pollution control equipment than to simply close. Those plants produce 59 GW of electricity.

"... increasingly harder for the poor to breathe due to nearby coal plants, a study released this week states.  Low-income communities are disproportionately affected by health-threatening pollution from coal-fired power plants in Illinois and other Midwestern states, a report by the NAACP says.

Read more:

Climate Change

Notes after watching PBS “The Abolitionists” Part 1 of 3
January 8, 2012

The Abolitionists of today are the people advocating to change the economic and political institutions of America based on moral principals. In the same way that individual states banned slavery, today states are changing the economic and political institutions that support the fossil fuel industry. States are reducing CO2 emissions while the fossil fuel industry is advocating shipping coal to China and building a pipeline from Canada to the Gulf Coast to process oil.

After land, slaves were the greatest economic asset in the American economy in the early 1800s. Southern slave owners were the richest people on earth. Today, the fossil fuel industry provides the energy that fuels the American economy. The value of the known reserves in the ground are factored into the stock price of the companies. Rich people and powerful corporations have their wealth and income dependent on the value of the fossil fuel industry. They will fight to preserve that value.

Abolitionists and slave owners had different economic, political and moral beliefs. Today,  in the same way, people advocating stopping all CO2 emissions and the fossil fuel industry have different beliefs. The Climate Change advocates are taking a broad moral view that future generations must be protected. The American economy is threatened with a depression and significant unemployment if the fossil fuel industry is shutdown.

The same dilemma that exited prior to the Civil War, now exists on a global scale and within the United States. We will suffer the consequences no matter what we do. If we shutdown the fossil fuel industry the American and global economy will collapse. If we continue to rely on fossil fuels the American and global economy will collapse due to the consequences of climate change.  The longer America delays resolving this dilemma the greater the consequences.

The Abolitionist William Garrison said the American government was not legitimate because of the conflict in the constitution between the support for slavery, and the liberty and freedoms granted.  In the same way, today’s federal government is not legitimate because of the moral corruption caused by the support for the fossil fuel industry.

The Lockean Proviso states that by working on private property from nature, people can do so only " least where there is enough, and as good, left in common for others".  The fossil fuel industry maintains their private property rights but they are polluting the atmosphere so that future generations will not have enough, and as good, left in common.

A rogue nation, corporation or wealthy individual could implement geoengineering and America might respond with fighter jets being scrambled to take down tanker jets sent aloft to spray aerosols, or taking out balloons carrying up hoses to do the same thing. 

Today, there is no legitimate system of governance that would be able to make decisions about implementation of geoengineering to either reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere or reduce solar radiation penetrating past the stratosphere.  A new institution will be created on a global scale with the authority to protect the atmosphere for future generations.

Instead of being localized to America, like the collapse of the slave economy and the Civil War, the collapse of the fossil fuel industry and the consequences of climate change will be a global catastrophe. Both will happen at the same time.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Stress Makes People Sick

Anxiety is a type of classical conditioning or Pavlovian conditioning. Conditioning is a form of learning where one stimulus comes to signal the occurrence of a second stimulus. The mind sends a signal to the body in response to stress, the body responds and sends information back to the brain.  However, when there is insufficient serotonin in the brain, the feedback from the body is misinterpreted by the brain and triggers anxiety. 

There are two methods to deal with anxiety. Drugs and non-drug therapy. Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI) drugs increase the reservoir of Serotonin in the brain to improve the communication between the mind and body. Meditation slows or blocks the harmful feedback loops and reinforces the good feedback loops in the mind-body system.

The mind-body system uses hormones, such as adrenaline (Epinephrine), and steroid hormones, such as cortisol (hydrocortisone).  Adrenaline and cortisol are released in the body due to stress. 

Triggers to release adrenaline are stresses, such as physical threat, excitement, noise, bright lights, and high ambient temperature. All of these stimuli are processed in the central nervous system (CNS), made up of the brain and the spinal cord. The spinal cord functions primarily in the transmission of neural signals between the brain and the rest of the body. The spinal cord functions as a conduit for motor information, which travels down the spinal cord, and as a conduit for sensory information in the reverse direction.  When the brain is low on serotonin then the flow of information from the body is misunderstood and the brain sends signals to stimulate adrenaline and cortisol. People imagine they are having a heart attack or experiencing pain when in fact there is no detectable medical condition. Serotonin levels in the brain can not be measured directly yet.

An adrenaline junkie is somebody appearing to be addicted to endogenous epinephrine. The "high" is caused by self-inducing a fight-or-flight response by intentionally engaging in stressful or risky behavior, which causes a release of epinephrine by the adrenal gland.

Cortisol is released in response to stress: (1) making available glucose that can be used for the brain, (2) generating new energy from stored reserves, and (3) diverting energy away from low-priority activities (such as the immune system) in order to survive immediate threats or prepare for the exertion of rising to a new day. However, prolonged cortisol secretion results in significant physiological changes.

When there is no detectable medical condition, then behaviors are most likely due to low serotonin, such as: anger, anxiety, aggression, pain, headaches, depression, upset stomach, difficulty breathing, dehydration symptoms, fainting and many other unexplained symptoms.

Stress suppresses the immune system so that a person is vulnerable to viruses and infection. Cold sores on the lips or inside the mouth might appear. A person might get sick more frequently than others.

What To Do

First, see your doctor and ask about low serotonin. Be aware that the doctor is used to  relying on medical evidence for decisions but in this case they have no basis for prescribing drugs except what you tell them. Depending on how sever your symptoms, the doctor will prescribe a low or high dose of an appropriate drug.  There are drugs designed for long-term usage and drugs that are short acting for immediate relief.

Second, whether or not you take an SSRI, find a way to learn and practice forms of meditation. Once you are off the drug, you will need a way to avoid having problems again. Meditation is the way. Meditation conditions the mind-body system to not respond to stress in our daily life.

Mindfulness is a method of practicing meditation and conditioning the mind to deal with pain. Mindfulness is a method to condition the mind-body system to not respond to stress in our daily life.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Policy and System Dynamics

Policy(1) is neither a stock nor a flow.  Accumulations and flows of physical or abstract things, through operational thinking, are connected and modeled as stocks and flows in computer software. In addition, they are connected using information arrows indicating the direction of information.  When policies are operationalized in a model they are elements (variables) placed between the information arrows connecting the stocks and flows creating a feedback loop. So there are two types of connections, one is the physical or abstract flow of things and the other is the information arrow creating feedback loops.

Policies in the real world are operationalized using laws, regulations, rules and other procedures.  In an SD model, policies are operationalized using constants and variables input as elements between the arrows connecting the stocks and flows creating feedback loops.

Similar to human policies, the laws of physics are operationalized as equations in SD models to create feedback loops.  The sciences have laws or rules that can be operationalized in an SD model using feedback loops.

For example, a stock with an outflow has a material flow.  However if the level of the stock needs to regulate the rate of outflow then an information arrow connects the stock to the outflow so that level information is provided to the the outflow equation.  This is a feedback loop.  As the level of the stock changes the rate of the outflow changes causing the level of the stock to change, and the arrows make this connection continuous. In the real world this is called a bathtub with an open drain.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Stress Makes People Sick

Stress reduces serotonin in the brain and causes the mind-body system to not communicate well. Another way to say this is that over time, as we experience major and minor stressful events in our life, our serotonin level is reduced each time.  When the level goes below a threshold, our brain starts to imagine things that are not really happening. This triggers the fight or flight syndrome that causes our body to use a lot of adrenaline, suppress our immune system, move cortisol (a steroid) into the digestive system and prepare our muscles for action. When in fact in our modern society we can neither fight nor run from our work or home situations.  As a result, we experience symptoms as if we were sick due to some unknown illness or disease that our mind imagines we have.

Low serotonin is a medical condition that is only diagnosed when there is no other explanation for the symptoms a patient is experiencing.  Serotonin in the brain can not be measured directly and the indirect testing is expensive.  A typical patient will tell the doctor they feel like they are having a heart attack when tests show the person is in perfect condition. From experience, the doctor knows this means the person is having an anxiety attack.

The quickest way to increase serotonin is to use an SSRI drug like escitalopram. There are other SSRI drugs. There are non-drug therapy options such as Mindfulness and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

Using Mindfulness, the practice of bringing the mind back to the present moment and focusing on the inhale and exhale of breathing, we can learn to listen to our body’s real experiences. Practicing body scan and meditation are methods to train the mind-body system.  Various meditation practices include: sitting, yoga, walking, swimming, counting, chanting a mantra and other techniques.

The primary purpose of the drugs and non-drug therapy is to switch off the fight or flight syndrome while focusing the mind and body on the present moment. Instead of letting the mind wander and imagine things that send signals to the body to react, meditation is a way to calm the mind and relax the body. SSRI drugs do the same thing by increasing the amount of serotonin in the brain.

Climate Change and Geoengineering

There is no legitimate system of governance that would be able to make decisions about implementation of geoengineering to either reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere or reduce solar radiation penetrating past the stratosphere.

A rogue nation, corporation or wealthy individual could implement geoengineering and America might respond with fighter jets being scrambled to take down tanker jets sent aloft to spray aerosols, or taking out balloons carrying up hoses to do the same thing.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Climate Change and Intergenerational Evil

Climate Change

The world that has been created since World War Two is quickly coming to an end. This video pulls together information from different scientific sources, religion and ethics into a powerful statement.

Baby Boomers will pick up this moral principle and justify significant sacrifices, there will be Wars to be fought, evil and enemies, good and heroes, and just like we survived WWII, there will be many believing the end of the world will happen but humans will survive as a species.

The bad news is that over one billion people will die before the worst is over by 2028.The good news is that America will not be where very many people will die.