The Value of Turmeric

The BBC continues to do its stuff.

Here they are testing whether turmeric has a positive effect on health:

Could Turmeric Really Boost Your Health?

Fortunately, they conclude that the answer is yes.

Turmeric (circumin) has received a lot of press in recent years as a cure against cancer and other diseases.

Hope the article is useful.




The Oil in the Machine

A long time ago in the early 1980s, I was studying at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton NB, Canada. The university is on top of a hill and I used to negotiate a wooden stairway from the road where I was living to get up the first part of the climb.

One day, some people were at the top of the stairway, so I waited patiently at the bottom to let them come down. They took their time and then walked past me calmly without the hint of a thank you.

I was flabbergasted.

“That would never happen in England,” I said to myself.

Chistmas 1982 found me in England, and guess what? Exactly the same thing happened to me.

I made a careful mental note then and there that I would never again assume that behaviour in the land of my birth was superior to or different from the country in which I happened to be while abroad. The last thing I wanted to be was an ex-patriate living in a dream of a country that never was.

I have now been living in Switzerland for thirty years.

In July, I went to England with my wife Brigitte to visit my mother who is the same age as the Queen.

One day we went to the beach at Holywell, Eastbourne. It was very pleasant indeed. A light breeze, a little cloud, a hint of sun, neither too hot nor too cold.

We’d been there a while when a number of children in school uniform started to arrive at the beach. Some of them went swimming. One even went into the water in her school uniform. Three boys, probably aged somewhere between ten and twelve started playing with a ball somewhere behind us up the beach.

Suddenly a tennis ball whizzed out of nowhere and hit my wife extremely hard in the back. She was both shocked and physically hurt. Understandably, she was angry, but the boy responsible ran away and the other two just laughed.

I suggested that we hang on to the ball until she got an apology. Sooner or later, someone would have to come and ask for the ball back, I reasoned.

Nothing happened.

Only when we got up to leave the beach did two adults come up to us. One was the father of one of the children, the other a teacher from the school.

We explained what had happened and that an apology was in order. The teacher tried to convince us that the boys didn’t know what they were doing and hadn’t hurt my wife deliberately. The father said that it was the last day of school and the children were just blowing off steam. At no point did either of the adults in charge show any sign that an apology was in order.

I said that we weren’t going to give the ball back until the boy who had thrown it gave my wife some sort of apology. A third adult came up and asked for the ball informing us that we couldn’t walk away with other people’s property.

I repeated what I’d said before.

The father eventually came up with the boy who simply said, ‘Sorry,’ without any grace or sincerity at all. I felt it was probably the best we could do and we gave the ball back.

I must admit that I was shocked by the attitude of the adults present and saddened to think that basic manners in England had sunk to such a low point.

Boy hits adult with ball on beach: apology. End of discussion.

Here, we had adults going to any length to justify the behaviour of children with no hint of an assumption of responsibility. We were the culprits because we were walking off the beach with the ball.

I would like to be able to say that this was an isolated incident, but in the last six months I have been in several situations where similar things have happened – and in different countries too.

There is a growing refusal on the part of parents generally to accept responsibility for the behaviour of their children in public or to admit that they might be at fault. Indeed, if you indicate in any way that the behaviour of their child is bothersome, the parents use emotional blackmail to give the impression that they are the victims and you the one at fault. They also become very aggressive, very quickly.

I do not think that parents who continually try to find excuses for their children are doing them any favours.

We live in a society that has become so ego-driven that even the golden rule of civilization has been eroded.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Or in other words, don’t do something to someone else that you wouldn’t want done to you.

Without this rule, there is no civilization.

Why is it so difficult for people these days to apologize?

They will go to any lengths to try and present the other person in a bad light and make a crisis out of something that would be forgotten almost instantaneously with a quick apology. They argue that black is white and that white is black. It is the world upside-down.

We’re talking basic politeness here.

It is my belief that politeness is the oil in the machine of human society. Without oil, what happens to a machine? After a while, it doesn’t work anymore.

And don’t make the mistake of thinking that ‘polite’ equals ‘weak.’ The very fact that you are capable of standing back from yourself long enough to think about somebody else indicates that you are far stronger than the many impolite people around you.

It’s simply a question of offering basic respect to other people.

It doesn’t cost anything.

It doesn’t take up a lot of time.

And it helps considerably to improve human relations in general.

Have a great week.




Vision Food

Hi there,

Just a heads up about an article on BBC News today which talks about food that can help improve your eyesight:

What is the food than can really improve your eyesight?

It’s encouraging that articles such as these are turning up on mainstream sources like the BBC.

Much more encouraging than the proposed merger between Bayer and Monsanto, for example. But I digress.

You can learn why the industrial chickens you buy have a yellow tinge to them….

The comment about carrots at the end of the article is interesting….

Hope you’re having a great week.



The Strange Evolution of Fear

When I was thirty, I was worried about my pension. I’d worked full-time for a couple of years, gone back to university, changed direction, changed direction again, wanted to change again. Not at all what a well brought-up middle class kid should do. I was sure the heavens would take their revenge later on.

At about this time, there was an advert in the papers by an insurance company. It showed a picture of a little wizened old man with a barrel organ and an equally wizened little monkey and suggested that this might be my future lot when I reached retirement if I didn’t have enough insurance set by. It made me laugh and afraid at the same time, because I was pretty sure I wouldn’t have enough to retire on if my life continued as it had.

I was sixty at the end of May of this year and now I know for certain that I don’t have enough to retire on, in spite of all the investments and experiences in between.

But the thing is, the thought of ending up in the street with a barrel organ and a small monkey no longer fills me with fear. I’ve got my music and a good singing voice and I think that if I had to, I could get by on the street. In fact, there’s a part of me that is even attracted by the idea.

Perhaps the things that fill us with fear are actually the things we could fall in love with. Is it true for people?

Have a great weekend.




P.S. This post originally appeared, with minor alterations, in my discontinued WordPress blog, ‘Jack-of-all-trades.’

Pull Ups Without A Bar

Just a heads-up about a rather amusing video from the Tapp Brothers:

In the video, one of their subscribers asks the question, “How can I do pull-ups if I don’t have a pull-up bar?”

Seems like a valid question to me. Not all of us are happy with a gym environment and not all of us have access to a bar.

So the brothers show a series of 5 basic ideas, and some variations, for doing pull-ups without a bar.

Some of the ideas are really simple and the presentation is a lot of fun.

The brothers are really Parkour adepts, but I love the way they come up with alternative solutions for exercising that are useful for anyone.

Why not take a look?

Hope you enjoy it.

Have a great weekend!




Danger Triangle

Been on holiday, which is why I haven’t written anything for a while.

Sorry, guys.

I thought this was an interesting video about nose hair from a site called ‘Business Insider’ of all things.

Who knew that plucking nose hair could be so dangerous!

Here’s the link:

Danger Triangle

Intriguing, huh?

Never underestimate the power of the human body…

Have a great week.





I thought I’d give my 5 euros worth on Britain’s decision to pull out of the EU.

I’ve got the BBC News app on my iPad, so I was checking the news early yesterday morning (Friday 24th June 2016). The full count hadn’t been made, but it was already clear what the result would be. And the strangest thing happened.

I’m a British citizen, grew up in England, but I’ve spent the last thirty years in Switzerland and I feel at home here. I didn’t think the decision would have much importance for me, to be honest. I really thought that Britain would stay in. But when I saw the news, I had a physical reaction. The kind of reaction you get when you personally receive bad news. That sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach.

I felt a tremor in the force.

I think it’s a mistake.

We have something called PPE here in Switzerland: ‘propriété par étages,’ which literally means ‘property by floors’. It’s a misnomer really, because people don’t necessarily own the whole floor of a building. Imagine a building with ten flats and you own one of them. PPE is a means of distributing the running and repair costs of the whole building between the different owners of the flats.

Let’s imagine you own a flat on the ground floor. The annual general meeting comes round and it’s necessary to repair the roof. You don’t feel concerned because you don’t live under the roof, so you ask, ‘Why should I pay for roof repairs?’

The EU is like a huge PPE. Every country has to pay for costs that they feel don’t necessarily apply to them, but sooner or later there will be costs that do apply to them. Complaining about this is like complaining about roof repairs on the building. Sure, when the rain starts getting in, you won’t be the first one affected, but sooner or later the deterioration of the building will trickle or crash down to you on the ground floor.

The point is that distributing the costs of the upkeep of the whole building benefits everybody in the long term. If people start saying that they don’t want to contribute to cleaning the stairs because they never use them, then the whole thing falls apart.

And this is what Britain has just decided. It doesn’t want to pay for roof repairs or cleaning the stairs. So now it will have to move out, buy another property and pay for the upkeep of the whole thing.

I can understand the attraction of going it alone. The problem with a 28 country EU is a lack of focus and identity. Where does Europe really begin and end? Does Turkey, for example, which is still trying to get in but hampered by its poor human rights record, belong in Europe?

Another Swiss example to illustrate.

Up until recently, the Canton of Vaud was composed of hundreds of communes, sometimes with only tens of inhabitants. It became financially and administratively unviable to continue like that, so in the early 2000s, communes started to band together.

Rossens VD, the village where I live has 42 inhabitants. There are many more cows than human beings. Up till 2006, the village had its own administration with a Syndic and Municipalité. In 2006, it banded together with 2 neighbouring villages, Villarzel and Sédeilles to become one commune called Villarzel. Total population, just over 400. The marriage was an organic one because there was a history of cooperation and interaction between the three villages already and the fusion has been a success.

On the other hand, another fusion project in the region called Valbroye involved the combining of fourteen different communes not all of which had an organic pre-existing connection and this has been much more delicate. In the end, only eight communes banded together.

Obviously, the more communes there are, the less organic the new commune becomes and the less likely that solutions will be a good fit for everybody.

The same thing applies to the EU. When the core EU countries banded together, the idea of a unified Europe was relatively clear. World War II was still a very recent memory and I suspect this helped everybody to focus. But when you have a Europe of 28 countries, how can it be organic and solutions satisfactory for all its members? Not possible. It all becomes an amorphous mass.

More is not necessarily better.

A club that lets everybody in isn’t a club. Or as the reverend in ‘A Passage to India’ put it, ‘We must exclude someone from our gathering or we shall be left with nothing.’

The concept of a unified Europe is no longer clear. It is threatened by the huge migrant problems facing the EU as a whole. The Euro is in trouble. And we live in narcissistic times. Community spirit seems to be largely absent. It isn’t fashionable to think in the long term. So perhaps the British decision has a certain logic in the circumstances.

One commentator suggested that it is important to maintain calm and wait until the dust has settled.

Or, we might also say, until the water from that unrepaired roof finally starts seeping through the ceiling.

Have a great weekend wherever you live.