The Graham Norton Show (BBC1 - 22 June 2012), with guests Rapper Will.I.Am, Miriam Margolyes and Greg Davies, was immensely entertaining, heartwarming and risque; I hooted with laughter. I became aware of Will.I.Am as a judge/coach on The Voice, later in his performance at the Jubilee and an Olympic torch bearer; however I had no idea of just how much he is using his music and celebrity to raise money and heighten scientific literacy skills in under privileged children in the UK and the USA. He has recently donated £500,000 to the Princes Trust and raised some $7 million to establish STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) schools. This he hopes encourage children, mainly girls, to become interested in and learn science subjects, so that the next generation will be literate in science and technology subjects.
As a scientist myself (PhD Molecular Biology) one of my most passionate rants is how illiterate the political, artistic and the general population is in scientific matters. How amazing to hear how a rapper from a Los Angeles California ghetto can be so proactive in helping to raise the interests and standards in scientific education.
Now, if only I could enlist the know-how of celebrities like Will.I.Am to raise money to fund a Natural World Health Organization to become a credible and powerful force for natural health treatment approaches to rival the pharmaceutical and drug-based corporate interests.
2011 was an annus horribilis for me. It all started at the surprise birthday thrown for me, with balloons, cards and all the usual paraphernalia informing me that I was 60 years old. For some inextricable reason unbeknown to me, I reacted very badly at this news, and felt very depressed and alienated for the entire year..
I seemed to wake up to the reality that I was now officially an OAP. How did it happen that I was now living in the UK after more than 20 years? The shock of losing the printed Positive Health magazine business in Sept 2008, along with the ill-judged and forced cliff-edge decision to sell my house in Portsmouth, not realizing that by the time my partner Mike and I moved to Ramsgate that we would no longer be considered credit worthy to obtain another mortgage - that all the rules of the game had changed.
Another strange feeling that came upon me was an increasing feeling of loss of any Jewishness around me. My partner isn't Jewish and there isn't a reasonable sized Jewish community in Thanet. What is worse, I didn't feel motivated enough about making the effort of going to Jewish functions on my own. Despite that fact that I am not observant, it appears that being Jewish is very important indeed, but beyond my means to hob-nob and meet like-minded people in Ramsgate.
Of course, being tied to the over-present obligations of Positive Health PH Online doesn't help with virtually no spare time, always the looming deadline and crushing workload.
Mike injured himself probably through over-stretching and had a hernia which was operated upon in Oct 2011. Far from being a day surgery easy event, he experienced almost immediate urological complications [I have written about these in great and gory details in my Editorials of Oct, Nov, Dec 2011 and Jan 2012], brought about by his enlarged prostate. When he presented with kidney failure and had to be admitted to A&E for 3-4 days, he then made the sorrowful acquaintance of a urinary catheter, until his second operation to reduce the size of his prostate in Dec. Only following the eventually successful outcome of this TURP surgery and the removal of the catheter at the very end of 2011, did life start to become better for Mike.
It has taken me months to overcome the trauma of this medical near-fiasco.
However, one good thing to report was that, having been tricked by my GP to be weighed, I was shocked into a disciplined program to lose weight from Oct 2011 and that I have lost at least 2 stone and dropped 2 trouser sizes.
To be continued.
I have now finished reading Martin Walker’s new book Dirty Medicine The Handbook and have discussed some of these comments in my latest Editorial on Positive Health PH Online. www.positivehealth.com/article/editorial/editorial-issue-185
It is fitting that I have been reading this book in parallel with revelations about the Rupert Murdoch News of the World / News International phone
voicemail interception / hacking scandal which has riveted much of the
UK, and to some extent the USA. The exposes have revealed murky, entangled webs
enveloping politics, print media, broadcasting and which has spread to
the police, involving corruption among many previously respected
professionals. The sums of money involved, the wining and dining, the
political patronage and how social networking sites can overturn super
injunctions protecting rich sportspeople and celebrities have all
created a firestorm revealing the public’s insatiable thirst for gossip
and the no-limit means to satisfy it used by journalists and
Talking about scandals, tangled webs,
political cronies and corporate funds to destroy – Dirty Medicine The Handbook is a similar
revelation of the nastiest suspicions that have never occurred to you.
As one of many victims of campaigns against complementary medicine by the Establishment, and having been fully
engaged with Natural Health and Medicine with Positive Health PH
Online, I have known and have seen attacks in the newspapers, broadcast
media and through the courts against a multitude of individual
practitioners, schools and organizations. You too will have witnessed
many a documentary against homeopathy, theta healing, nutrition for
cancer and observed reputations destroyed. However, until I read this
book, I did not know the identity nor power or influence of the many
individuals, organizations, website ranged and funded against natural
medicine. These are revealed explicitly with biography, details and numerous links to comrades in arm.
Martin Walker, in his latest book has forensically
researched, with voluminous footnotes, the individual Health
Corporatists as they are called, with an A to Z of names, with whom they
went to school, of which organizations and political parties they were
members, their corporate alliances and the funds of these organizations.
Be prepared for a complete alphabet soup of organization names – you
will be amazed at how many government, health and media names are
Not only are the individuals named – and these go far
beyond the most obvious individuals you might suspect, but also
organizations, groups and political organizations linked to government. A
bit like the Rupert Murdoch web discussed above, but also with funds
and monies paid to whom. Even more sinister are the attack websites set
up to target, harass and ultimately finish off individuals, therapies
and professions. We may have heard the term 'quackwatch', but Walker
presents an entire A-Z chapter, annotated with his comments of a myriad
of websites with a mission www.badscience.net http://holfordwatch.info/holford-myths www.ministryoftruth.me.uk
One of the most serious issues in Martin Walker’s book
concerns the frankly alarming situation of Homeopathy: the step-by-step
saga of how the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital (RLHH) was taken over
and engulfed by University College London Hospital (UCLH), and re-named
Royal London Hospital for Integrated Medicine (RLHIM), neatly removing
the word homeopathy.
And read Martin Walker’s analysis of how the
rational tactics of Dr Peter Fischer, who honestly believed that
presenting the medical professional establishment with the evidence
regarding the efficacy of homeopathy, would convince the skeptics proved
wrong. Other dramatic battles are also discussed, including
vaccinations, nutritional supplements, environmentally sensitive
individuals, cfs / me. Hear the flip side of everything that has been
published in PH Online, but from the other side.
I also sadly discovered in the reading of this book that
several stalwart fighters for natural medicine have since died,
including Isla Bourke (Bristol Cancer Help Centre), Dr Hulda Clarke and
I don't necessarily agree entirely with Martin Walker’s political
analysis as my left-wing political days are in the distant past; I spent
much of my professional career as a molecular biology scientist
attempting to belong to the organizations Walker describes. So in reading this book I found myself discovering that the very organizations I had aspired to belong to for many years appeared to be 'the enemy'. Perhaps I
now have a greater insight into why my work appears to have been
sidelined. And it clarified why so many hostile columns and documentaries toward homeopathy and nutrition have been published in The Guardian broadcast on Newsnight.
There are voluminous accounts about how campaigns have been mounted against individuals - ordinary parents and professional GPs - and how their responses to the attacks fared. In fact, Martin Walker devotes an entire chapter in the book to tips and advice about rebuttals and fighting back.
I have for many years suspected that well-funded corporate interests have been waiting to pounce on their chosen targets; however I never suspected that the web is as closed knit and widespread as revealed in Dirty Medicine The Handbook. Read it to find out for yourself.
It is probably inexcusable that it has been almost 3 months since I wrote my last entry. And it probably sounds pathetic that publishing Positive Health PH Online has wiped out virtually all my time. Is this the prelude to burnout, or have I been in that state where work overwhelms my life?
Don't know the answer, but undoubtedly will discover in due course. I have listened to interviews of several high profile editors and spoken with very well known publishers who have remarked that publishing has taken over their life or virtually bankrupted them, so I am familiar with that sentiment. Quite a number of individuals and organizations presently are teeter tottering along the plank to insolvency in various degrees. In fact just about the whole of the UK, Europe and perhaps the USA are in similar dire straits. Except of course for those rich with cash.
I have received copies of Martin Walker's latest epic Dirty Medicine The Handbook, which is the latest strand in a long line of titles dealing with the nefarious side of medicine and the pharmaceutical industry and its political connections and cliques. I was fairly centrally involved and featured in Martin Walker's first book in this area Dirty Medicine and in fact proof read the book at a time after the organic germanium tabloid debacle when it was banned on spurious grounds to prevent it being trialled for potential efficacy for HIV / AIDs. However now in the midst of reading this latest sequel of titles about medicine and its dark connections to politics, my jaw is continuously dropping and I feel sometimes a total ingenue in discovering exactly which powerful scientists, politicians and media celebrities have been involved with the financial support of organizations deliberately tasked with the suppression, defamation and indeed obliteration of complementary and alternative medicine.
Having been the Editor of Positive Health PH Online I have been observing and dealing with many of the central characters mentioned in Martin Walker's new book. And I have been reviewing numerous books detailing the dirty tricks and deliberate obfuscations of research funded and published by the pharmaceutical companies. Indeed I know first hand many of the individuals featured in the book and deal with many of the organizations cited.
One would have had to be blind and deaf not to have been aware of the huge scandals which form major threads in Martin Walker's book, including the trial of Dr Andrew Wakefield before the General Medical Council, the legal challenges by Dr Simon Singh against the British Chiropractic Association, nor the venomous campaigns against homeopathic medicines by all the Great and the Good.
Martin Walker terms the Alice through the Looking Glass phenomenon whereby everything you thought went one way was reported to be the opposite way as Truth Reversal - an excellent alternative term to the plain old lie.
I am only about halfway through this highly researched and technically very detailed book which gives the cvs of some of the most august members of the scientific, medical and political establishment, viewed through the prism of Martin Walker's highly politicized lens. As a PhD myself, I must say that I have spend much of my career striving to join and be accepted by these very people. Now I quite understand why rather than being embraced and acknowledged by them for the considerable achievements of Positive Health PH Online I, along with numerous other well-intentioned but perhaps politically naive individuals have been at best sidelined or ignored, at worst destroyed.
I will report back with further progress. Watch this space.
Having recently launched the newest in a long line of Positive Health PH Online websites over the past 16+ years, I can only attest to the melodrama, hard work, money and human emotional exertions entailed.
My partner Mike mainly has worked tirelessly over the past 6 months to build a website not only with the infrastructure of enabling the posting and promotion of courses, events, therapists and products internationally at the national and local levels, but also with the facilities for advertisers to post, edit and monitor the performance of their listings at will by themselves.
Working in collaboration with our web engineers in India, this has been no small task. However, having studiously researched a new hosting company who could support the fairly advanced programming language and signed up with them, we have encountered the website situation from hell. After 3-4 days of installation, the engineers discovered that the hosting company didn't offer a critical programme necessary, hence the rush move to a very large hosting company. However, after a flawless run in a preview mode on their servers and the transfer of the site to a new server with dedicated IP address, the performance problems began.
Arguments with the hosting company whereby they blamed the programming of the engineers, and the engineers blaming the server finally led to the migration of the site to another server. This although better, was also too slow when under strain from heavy traffic. This large successful hosting company had perhaps 1000 customers on a single server, so that when internet traffic increased, the site groaned.
So we arrive at the present where we are imminently moving to perhaps the smallest hosting company - a 1-2 man band of engineers - our local computer engineer with a brand new linux server.
We will be going live in the next 1-2 days. Watch the space. www.positivehealth.com
While reveling in the sheer joy of watching consummate musicians on Jools Holland New Year's Hootenany, and the extraordinary programme 100 Years at the London Palladium, I couldn't help but reflect on how music, singing and dancing work their magic across all social divides - completely universal.
I gave up my piano about 10 years ago, initially for financial reasons, but thereafter for space constraints due to the inordinate number of books in my book cases which fill up wherever I am living, until I have a major cull and donate them to a worthy college library. Since then my enjoyment in music has been restricted to listening on my ipod and watching good films, TV, etc. My desire to perform in another musical has not recently progressed beyond preliminary research, due to my inability to commit to the inevitable rehearsals, due to the demands of Positive Health PH Online.
This year 2011, when we finally achieve the international expansion which will enable more help for me, will hopefully enable me to resume my thespian and musical aspirations, despite my imminently becoming a pensioner! However definitely no X-factor shows.
Have toyed with the idea of acquiring a PR agent to boost my profile and that of PH Online. Then perhaps my exciting and lurid life story would be attractive as a book or movie, of course for an astonishing fee, very tempting in my present impecunious state.
This week's Woman Hour discussed how the medical profession, together with the media, have been conspiring to frighten women from having home births - quite tragic and scandalous. Positive Health PH Online Jan 2011 Issue 178 has just published two major features regarding Home births: one by a senior registered midwife and nurse who discusses the issues of home births, also mentioning the impossibility of independent midwives of obtaining insurance; www.positivehealth.com/article-view.php?articleid=2940
the second discussing safe and gentle techniques of birth induction:
If I were able to adequately promote this to the world, I would have spent some time on twitter, communicating this with Woman's Hour. However, time was spent in the last minute work of publishing the issue, and I guess the moment has passed.
New Year Resolutions - make more money, have a life and locate partners in different countries who want to run their business promoting complementary practitioners and their courses, services and products, as well as contribute to the growth of holistic practice.
I today have been reflecting upon the last two years which have been extremely tough - having to cease the print magazine for Positive Health, selling our house in Portsmouth and due to the time pressure of that transaction, deciding to rent and then move to Ramsgate. We are still renting, and hope that circumstances will improve and enable us to buy another house in the future.
The new year 2011 presents a most herculean challenge - expansion of PH Online from the UK to an international organization, forging partnerships with agents or agencies who will sell advertising to promote practitioners, courses, books, clinics and products in their individual countries. Before that can happen, a new-design website will be unveiled, enabling people to book, pay for and enter and edit their advertisements themselves.
My mother just had her 90th birthday. I for one only want to live into old age if I am reasonably fit and healthy and still have my marbles; otherwise I will be actively campaigning for euthanasia upon demand.
Am an indefatigable workaholic, but feel that PH Online is a precious and inspiring resource which will continue to help people seeking natural, non-drug approaches to health issues.
Look forward to finding new energy for 2011, and making some money. I never realized that publishing often saps the resources of the owners but that is what is proverbially termed the wisdom of increasing age.
We will be soon be publishing Positive Health PH Online Dec 2010 Issue 177; that is some 16 years after the start of PH magazine, except that PH is now online only. We ceased publishing the print magazine after Issue 150, in Autumn 2008, when the confluence of the economic meltdown occurred with the cessation of availability of our own funds and credit. This also occurred during the period when we were mired in the process of selling our house in Portsmouth, with the object of downsizing and moving to Kent, to be closer to my partner's children and grandchildren. Had we been able to move in the spring or summer of 2008, we would have paid off many of our debts and been able to move house.
However, the chain kept collapsing and the person whose home we had planned to buy went bankrupt, Northern Rock and Leymann Brothers went bust and we ceased the print magazine, moving to PH Online, which was owned by another company. We still had our debts; however the entire archive of PH from the past 15-16 years was online, so we set about to focus upon making PH Online more dynamic and capable of promoting courses, practitioners and products in more dynamic and animated formats than possible on the printed page.
At the end of 2008, our original purchaser had managed to sell her house and made another offer to buy our property, except for £30k less. Having only about 1 week to make a decision which epitomized the expression "between a rock and a hard place", we decided to sell, and because there was no time to arrange a mortgage and complete another sale, we decided to rent and then move, not realizing that not being the super-A credit worthy individual of the past, that with our remaining debts, we would not likely be able to buy another property for perhaps years, perhaps never.
In these days of deficits, budgetary restrictions, administration and bankruptcy, it is fascinating to hear and read about corporate giants with astronomical debts re-structuring their debts; for a tiny business like ours, banks don't even want to extend the overdraft by several thousand pounds. Large publishing empires of famous magazines such as Newsweek sell and merge for the price of $1 with owners of online news websites such as Dirty Beast. When I approached a well-known American author and publisher about our plans to expand into the USA, he told me that publishing his many magazines over decades had almost bankrupted him. He advised me to emulate websites which sell products.
PH Online has upgraded its website to enable advertisements to promote courses, practitioners and products in numerous countries to have their own platforms in their own country. The huge website is also in the process of a major re-design which will enable advertisers to place their own adverts and update their copy. All that has to occur now is to arrange partnerships in different countries to sell advertising and arrange the promotional editorial.
So to the ultimate test of the title of this blog - Do Thoughts Help to Create our Reality? My partner is very confident; however I am worried that our money (from the sale of our house) will run out and we will be left high and dry. We both work to make this a reality, but what part will our thoughts and core beliefs play in the outcome? Real life is scarier than fiction.
Further events occurred which propelled me toward the publishing world, including the publication of the erroneous research paper by Chilvers et al which alleged that women with cancer attending Bristol Cancer Help Centre (BCHC) were more likely to die than those receiving standard treatment. The prominence of this (it was the lead item on the evening news), followed by the tragic suicide by lead researcher, when the research was discovered to be flawed, led to BCHC’s determination to set out Bristol’s approach on a more scientific basis. A meeting of nutritional and clinical specialists was called at the then Bristol Cancer Help Centre (BCHC), which led to my authoring of the paper Nutritional and Lifestyle Guidelines for People with Cancer, published in J Nutr Med 4(2): 199-214. 1994.
Mike and I were having experiencing hard times and considering opening a sandwich bar. Upon hearing this, Pat Pilkington, the co-founder of BCHC, managed to organize and fund a project for me to set up a database of published research in Nutrition and Cancer. This involved setting up a database of some 5000 research papers from Medline in 1993. An invitation to contribute features to the then Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (JACM) led to 12 articles serialized for about 1 years, which led to my book Nutrition and Cancer: State-of-the-Art.
A chance remark by Mike Howell while in a café that this kind of research wasn’t generally available for health practitioners or general readers led to the launch of our new journal Health: State-of-the-Art, followed by Positive Health magazine the following year.
I had arrived back in the UK in 1989, having left in 1988 to pursue research in the USA and to fund a preliminary clinical trial regarding the potential efficacy of organic germanium with HIV sufferers. Having taken a course (DMA) which dealt with creating your own reality using the tension between what your current situation and your desired objectives, I ‘combined’ my work and life’s work, focused upon owning a property and set about going into a nutritional counselling practice in Bristol.
However, events conspired to set me on a different course which led me eventually into the publishing world, and becoming a co-owner of Positive Health magazine and PH Online. Firstly, I met, seemingly by complete coincidence, my current partner Mike Howell, at a Sherborne, Dorset coffee house. Because he desperately wanted to ‘get out of’ London, he decided to move one of his typesetting businesses to Bristol, which provided me the invaluable experience of producing books – typesetting, paste-up, camera work, proof reading and editing – much of which technology became supplanted by computers and latterly the internet during the 1990s and 2000s.
Mike sold his book typesetting business in the early 1990s; we were devoid of any work and were again adrift financially. Mike and I both trained and qualified as massage practitioners and were considering opening a clinic in Bristol when again fate seemed to intervene.
Throughout this week I have been visiting my elderly mother (aged 89) in Montreal. Believe it or not, she belongs to that stubborn minority of individuals who don't own a computer and are not interested in having one, nor accessing the internet. She also doesn't own a mobile phone and isn't interested in that either.
So you can imagine my frustration in not being able to view the masses of emails, with articles from authors, check my bank information, and generally being able to access everything on the internet.
There is and has been a silver lining, in that close to my mother's apartment there is a fantastic library with free wi-fi and internet access. So I have been a very happy visitor each day, keeping up with friends and family in the usual way.
I even discovered that for smart phones, in order to update emails, etc. you need to actually click onto the wi-fi network before you can obtain any emails, etc.
Upon my return next week, we will be publishing the Oct Issue 175 of PH Online with an array of high quality articles and research, letters, etc.
I need to go to visit my one remaining auntie - every other sibling from my mother's family has since died.
At the present, I am rushing to finalize as much as possible for the Oct
Issue 175 of PH, prior to travelling to Montreal, Canada to visit my
elderly mother, aunts and my brother, sister and large number of family
members in Canada. It is difficult at the best of times to squeeze all the work involved in each issue of PH into one month; imagine trying to do it in 3 weeks instead of 4.
Being an owner of a publication such as PH means that the buck stops with you. At this time of recession and belt tightening, credit has expired for owners who are digging into their own pockets, who are selling their assets to fund their businesses. This is difficult for non-entrepreneurs such as myself who have over time grown to become entrepreneurs by default.
What has happened to the supposed work-time balance for people with impossible deadlines, rigorous professional standards and diminishing financial rewards? This includes almost everybody I know and encounter in my capacity as Positive Health PH Online Editor and co-owner. Especially me. Not to rant, but it seems to me that just about everyone else has holidays and gets paid for their work.
One could ask "Why do you continue to work if it doesn't reward you adequately?" That is a fair question; however in the 17 years during the publication of PH, there have been many highs and lows, business-wise, and real potentially lucrative opportunities online internationally in the future.
Publishing PH is incredibly dramatic and exciting - we continue to strive to create the opportunity to manifest the long-term support to continue and expand this valuable online archive of research and clinical information about natural medicine approaches. Please get in touch if you think you have what it takes to continue PH Online for the next 20 years.
For me, the problem with being ill, depressed, having back pain, or even headaches, is that it becomes acutely embarrassing if you are a so-called expert who ought to know better.
About 25 years ago, when I was a complete novice to alternative / complementary / natural healthcare approaches, I suffered from pelvic inflammatory disease, which is acutely painful. At that period of my life, I was working for a multi-national corporation as a highly paid agricultural molecular biology / microbiology scientist. [Oh, how my pay scale has declined since then.]
Working in the USA and being covered by expensive health insurance, I was subjected to and succumbed to a multiplicity of tests, x-rays, procedures and eventually a laparoscopy in order to come to the diagnosis that I had been suffering from pelvic infections. The laparoscopy itself caused the most pain I have ever experienced, as I guess that inserting the laparoscope inflamed things even more so.
However the acute pain enabled me to ask for help from strangers, which, in a circuitous route, led to my introduction to Macrobiotics, NLP, Chiropractic, and Nutritional Supplements. I even took cooking classes from the renowned Macrobiotic author Annemarie Colbin. Several months following embracing Macrobiotics cold-turkey, practising self-help NLP techniques and a Bodywork and Nutritional supplements regime, the constant pains lessened and I was able to stop taking antibiotics.
For a person who had run the medical gamut of diagnostic testing, this was impressive.
Now, all these years on, when I have become highly knowledgeable and perhaps even an expert in the entire spectrum of alternative / complementary disciplines, it is difficult, because I "know" what I am supposed to do and what is supposed to work.
I, like so many professionals have suffered financially during the present financial crisis and find it difficult to embrace the techniques for healing of expressing gratitude, love, living in the present and so on.
So it is evident that so-called Experts are just as human and fallible as the rest. I don't however rush off to other Experts, as I already know what the options are. Just living through the experience and seeing what the end results in.
I am now in the last week prior to publishing the Aug 2010 Issue 173, which means intense activity to finalize the editorials, research updates, book reviews, short features and brief takes, as well as the advertising, which pays for everything these days.
Of course, it is always at the last minute that the most up-to-date material is finalized. Stressful or what?
Talk about priorities!! It is an impossibility to decide what to do first and next and after that. Just a question of keeping one's nose to the grindstone until the one moment of respite when the Issue is published and it all starts all over again.
As with the entire online universe, the exponential rise in emails and online information has rocketed steadily throughout the first decade of the 21st century. This has facilitated later deadlines and contributors and staff (and me) working from home; however there was probably a greater sense of cohesion and camaraderie when everyone worked in one office.
But it is impossible to go backwards regarding technology. Our workforce is totally and genuinely international: our web developers are in Inda, our designer lives in Somerset, our advertising sales person lives in Portsmouth. The authors for PH Online are, and have always been from every continent on the planet. And, with the wonders of Skype, broadband, even social networking sites, it is possible to stay in touch and publish 12 issues of PH Online.
Will I survive 17 years? Check this space!