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Dean Ornish on healing | Video on TED.com

This session is on natural wonders and the bigger conference is on the pursuit of happiness. I want to try to combine them all, because to me, healing is really the ultimate natural wonder. Your body has a remarkable capacity to begin healing itself, and much more quickly than people had once realized, if you simply stop doing what’s causing the problem. And so, really, so much of what we do in medicine and life in general is focused on mopping up the floor without also turning off the faucet.

via www.ted.com

It's worth remembering that changing how we think is probably integral to most healing - and the crucial piece, motivation, is notoriously hard to affect. This talk is a fascinating discussion on the subject.

Summer Risks: Drowning

"Drowning doesn't look like drowning" and statistics that show more than 50% of children drown within 25 yards of a parent or guardian are very sobering statistics. So it is time to put some risk prevention in place - pull up a cup of coffee and read the attached article (investment: only 3 minutes).

I can illustrate this with a story from a friend. Five adults were by the pool where eight children were playing - only problem is that the adults were busy chatting. My friend's son was about six years old at the time and a competent swimmer, but he hit his head on the edge of the pool as he dived in, and although he wasn't knocked out he was shocked, and underwater. He took a big gulp of water and started to drown. The adults looked around to see him floating face down in the water. They scooped him, out tipped the water out, and performed the kiss of life while an ambulance was called - he started to breath and before he had completed the trip to hospital was asking for food.

Share the story with your kids as a reminder to keep an eye out for each other as well.

Cover Levels Aren't High Enough

Review the ISI statistics, look at the annual reviews, consider the average amounts of claims paid, and talk with reinsurers - everywhere you will find that cover levels of even the most basic and affordable cover are too low.

Discussions with insurers show that of their new business, only about 10% of benefits are greater than $500,000. A similar amount is is for $100,000 or less. Given average incomes for the average buyer of life insurance are about $45,000 per annum, and typically debt is $200,000 then the expected cover levels would be at the top end of the current spread. In fact, the cover levels most often chosen are either $200,000 or $300,000. Barely more than the debt levels of the clients - leaving almost nothing to replace income, even for a limited period, during which adjustments can be made.

While complicated calculation tools are loved by insurance companies and financial advisers alike they are not great ways to lift awareness - in such areas the message must be much simpler. More like the "Five plus a day" campaign for fruit and vegetables. Some industry commitment to promoting a benchmark level of cover might help considerably.

Take 2 and skip the Oncologist?

Insureblog has this on the latest news about Aspirin:

"For a while now, folks have been taking low doses of aspirin to lower the risk of heart disease, but who knew that the little pills might be a strong defense against cancer?"

I started taking a daily aspirin when I turned 40. Choose a generic that is enteric coated. 

Read the rest:

via Byline

Germany finds an extra 55bn euros

"Germany finds itself 55bn euros richer after discovering an accounting error at Hypo Real Estate, the bank it nationalised in 2000"

So Germany offers a lesson in why it is always important to check in the pockets of jackets you haven't worn for a while, and under the cushions on the couch:

via Byline
Just a shame that all Greece keeps finding is forgotten IOUs and things it thought it owned but turn out to be the property of old Girlfriends, mainly called Angela.

Would compulsory KiwiSaver help?

Labour has announced that they would make KiwiSaver compulsory, coupled with progressively increasing the contribution rate, and slowly shifting the age of retirement from 65 to 67. I am on record as opposing compulsion, and the increase in contribution rate is of a piece with compulsion.

These changes reduce individual budget flexibility, weigh on wage settlements, and there are some arguments that they drive savings into managed fund vehicles when they might be better allocated elsewhere, compulsion may is not clearly linked to increasing savings rates.

At the time KiwiSaver was launched my view was that it was a giant tax break offered in a form acceptable both to the Labour Party and the electorate. Those that can afford it and want it have taken it.

Perhaps in the medium term the right policy is to gradually increase use of KiwiSaver, but that is the medium term.

My biggest issue with these proposals is the effect they will have in the short-term. The New Zealand economy stands, perhaps, on a knife edge. Low confidence, battered by a long recession, the two earthquakes, and barely growing. Although the proposals have long, planned, timetables for implementation, there is nevertheless a signalling effect. This is deliberate. Supporters of the proposals say that this is about creating a savings culture. Even if we agree that it does that, increasing savings rates is perhaps not the best thing to do right now. Telling business that their KiwiSaver costs will add 5% to their wage bill is not such a good idea either. Telling people that they will have to work longer, or save more if they still wish to retire at 65, also adds another reason to save. Saving takes money out of the economy in the short term. Sure, in the medium term it should add productive capacity, but in the short term it subtracts from activity.

I think that the retirement age should go up and so should provision for retirement, and for being honest about those key issues I think Labour should be applauded - and I don't think National really believes that the retirement age can stay at 65 until as late as 2050. They merely calculate that they don't need to foist that change on the electorate today. In that, they are right: now is not the time for this signal, and the reasons for that are as much economic as they are political. Taking more money out of the economy is not a good idea in 2011 or 2012.