“Now is not the time to talk about gun control!”

According to Maslow’s famous Hierarchy of  Needs, our basic physiological and safety concerns need to be met before we can self-actualize or become who it is we want to be.  He also talked about the need to create synergistic world in his article, “Synergy in the Society and in the Individual”.

How does this relate to guns?  We all want a safe society, that should be the default.  If ALL we want is safety, NOW is the time to talk about guns. If we want more, “Now is NOT the time to talk about gun control.”  Let me share some thoughts…

Now is not the time to talk about gun control!”  has been the stance of politics after each shooting tradgedy.  Could that be correct?  Of course easy access to guns is a problem, however only eliminating access to guns does not create what we want, a more caring society.  If don’t use guns, aren’t there other ways to cause destruction?

Might it be more helpful to focus on how to make this a more caring culture?  We are all in this together, nobody gets out of here alive, and we can’t take it with us.  We could be lifting others up, rather than pushing them down and upon reflection, lifting others is actually selfish.

Selfishness is probably the best way to be selfish.  Bill Clinton explains with Stephen Colbert.

Helping other people live and be better, acting “selfless”, enables a better world plus the helper gets the beneficence of knowing they are part of the solution, a selfish benefit.  This action then creates a better world, a selfish, selfless, synergistic benefit.

If we did enact stricter gun control, how would we know if it worked?  How would we know if it produced any benefits?  Proponents would suggest less mass shootings would indicate it is a good policy.  While less mass shootings is good, really all that means is we didn’t drop below the status quo, not that the world is better than it was before.

This way of measuring a benefit suggests if NOTHING bad happens, it is a successful program.  Nothing however is not a benefit, it is just a non problem.  Better would mean more nurturing caring relationships, increased well-being, improved social dynamics, and a kinder world.  That would benefit everyone and everything.

Nate Silver along with many others explains we live in an uncertain world. Almost nothing that deals with human behavior is certain.  As Nate Silver describes in “The Signal and the Noise: Why so many predictions fail  – but some don’t“, he explains why and how we live in a probabilistic world.  The best we can do is increase the probability of desired outcomes.

Its time to start talking about the Idealized Outcomes we want to create and taking action to make it happen.  What kind of world should we create? What are the characteristics of our idealized world?

The characteristics of that desired world are the precursors. Precursors such as caring, love, kindness, a helping nature, service, thriving, satisfaction and well-being.  The benefit of this approach is that even when less mass shootings occur, which is good or even if no mass shooting ever occurs, we still benefit.  Our actions will have created a better world for all.

If we take the traditional approach of limiting gun access, which is wise, it would likely limit mass shootings but the overall outcome is just less bad, not more good.  We must do what can and should be done to create more good, not JUST less bad.

We should develop processes to create those desired precursors of  an idealized world.  Taking actions to make the world better means our actions will have desirable consequences, even if bad does not happen.  Additionally, efforts to create the idealized world will decrease the probability of undesired outcomes such as a mass shooting.

In other words, we should work to generate comprehensive improvements by creating pervasive, reciprocal, selfish, selfless, synergistic interactions so everyone and everything benefits.

This can be done by using this 4 step Paneugenesis Process:

1. Operationalize an Idealized Outcome – make sure all involved parties know what is to be created and be sure that it is better than what can be now. The outcome should have pervasive and reciprocal effects that carry meaning and impact to and beyond the individual.

2. Discover Precursors – what must exist now to make the idealized outcome a reality. Discover what skills, abilities, traits, environments are necessary and or  must exist to realize the idealized outcome. These precursors are conditions that must be created and are not currently present.

3. Optimize the Process – what must be done to create those precursors that will enable the idealized outcome and precursors to be created and realized.  Go do that now! Do what must be done to create and put in place the necessary precursors discovered.

4. Plot Progress – find measures that document and demonstrate progress is being made toward the creation of discovered precursors and or idealized outcomes. Progress measures that indicate movement of actions taken in your process are being made toward the creation of the new, desired reality.  Documenting progress is necessary to give meaning and purpose to the process and to help participants maintain motivation.

For information on how the model can be applied to health promotion, see this article.  You can also see the video below:

I look forward to enjoying a better world that you help make happen.  Thank you, we all benefit from your efforts.

Be Well’r,
Craig Becker

Be selfish, selfless, & synergistic so everyone and everything benefits!


Perspective Helps Clarify Relative Importance

I find it important to make sure I have perspective. For me it is important or I miss the issue.  By perspective I mean a point of view or a particular attitude toward or way of regarding something. By definition perspective is a true understanding of the relative importance of things or a sense of proportion.

I often write about perspective, such as Perspective May Create and Frame How People View EventsEnlightening Evolutionary Perspective on Health, and others here and here.  I also recommend Gladwell’s Fascinating Revisionist History Podcasts which is great at providing perspective.  I read and often use the daily comics to gain perspective, such as:

 With regard to the Confederate Statue Debate, a foreigner John Oliver provides perspective in his show, Confederacy: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.  For me this clarified the issue, please share your thoughts…

Clean Energy Future Benefits Everyone & Everything!

Generating and using clean, renewable energy is a way to practice paneugenesis because doing so generates comprehensive improvements by creating interactions so everyone and everything benefits.   Using clean energy creates good jobs that create a positive ripple that will power our lives.

I am even more convinced of the need for clean energy from reading “Merchants of Doubt” which accompanies the documentary you can access here and in this post: Do Not Let Deniers Doubt Dissuade.  The book outlines the systematic way industry and government have attacked and discredited good science.

We can help this by urging Duke to move to clean energy.  Although it will require change, moving to clean energy would be a smart and profitable move for Duke.  To learn more you can read “A Pathway to a Cleaner Energy Future in North Carolina” and watch the video below.

Be Well’r,
Craig Becker

Be selfish, selfless, & synergistic so everyone and everything benefits!

Robots Will Empower Us, They Won’t Take Over

Will we invent a computer smart enough to replicate itself and take over?  I guess it is possible, however we can also use computers for good.  The computers of today can help us be better versions of ourselves.

Together we can do so much more. Together today means working with technology.  Thomas Friedman refers to it as “intelligent assistance”. We often believe we need to do things ourselves to get it done right, however together we can do so much more because computers can help us unlock our potential.

The possibility of good or bad outcomes are always possible.  Using computers has made it more likely we can generate improvements by creating interactions so everyone and everything benefits.  We also have seen the potential of the harm it can cause.

I am finding with my research, intelligent assistance can help students and schools perform better and that computers can help people increase engagement in health behaviors.  I am building and testing applications that provide ntelligent assistance.

Maurice Conti’s TED Presentation, “The Incredible Inventions of Intuitive AI” clarifies this concept.  It

I look forward to sharing results from my research with you soon, please share how you are using intelligent assistance to improve your lives.  Thank you.

Be Well’r,
Craig Becker

Be selfish, selfless, & synergistic so everyone and everything benefits!

Reducetarian: Great Info, Contradictory Title

Reducetarian Solution: How the Surprisingly Simple Act of Reducing the Amount of Meat in Your Diet Can Transform Your Health and the Planet

I previously posted about this book, The Reducetarian  in this post, Interesting Article – Thoughts?. Now I have read the book.  It is good book. It provides great overview of the many issues related to our food choices. After reading it is clear how making plant food choices help improve the environment, our health, the life of animals, the life of food workers and so much more.

The book contains over 60 short essays from experts, mostly authors of books, on many areas related to climate and food choices. My only concern is the name, “Reducetarian”. Committing to Reduce… infers giving up some things and that makes change difficult.

The issue of difficulty taking action when it is perceived as deprivation was even addressed in the essay by Bee Wilson, author of the book, “Consider the Fork”. In the essay, she explains that if a mindset of deprivation is created it may also to lead to anger and this makes change cumbersome.

The point of Bee Wilson’s essay, which I also promote, is we must recast the mindset toward seeing plant strong food choices for what they really are: better, more tasty, less expensive, and superior in many ways especially for how they promote personal and planetary well-being.  This means we must move away from the traditional mindset of deprivation or reducing, as promoted by meat and dairy industries.  This then is another example of what must be “Undone“.

Choosing plants more often for food helps people feel better.  Making plant food choices also contributes to a healthier planet and this means these choices provide an emotional gain, because we are contributing to a solution.  These actions, therefore, keep on giving.  

It must be understood, a plant strong diet is the best choice to make because it provides the most benefits. I encourage all to read and share your thoughts.  Make it. a great week.

Be Well’r,
Craig Becker

Be selfish, selfless, & synergistic so everyone and everything benefits!

The Impact of Choosing to be a Giver or a Taker…

In memory of the unconscionable event from September 11, reflection is good.  What does it all mean?  Why do these things happen? Meaning in life seems vital and some suggest it is predetermined.  For me that would be troubling because, as dramatist Israel Zangwill said:

   Take from me the hope that I can                     change the future and you will send me mad.”

— Israel Zangwill

Like most people, I want my actions to have a positive impact.  I therefore practice  and promote paneugenesis which is to generate comprehensive improvements by creating interactions s so everyone and everything benefits.

For me the practice of paneugenesis gives me meaning and purpose, and many agree.  I have posted some other thoughts about this, including that it is all meanlingless at Its All Meaningless! Here is How to Create Meaning!.  I also looked at our biologic basis in Biology & Evolution Make Us Selfish, Selfless, & Synergistic and discovered how people make meaning in the inspiring experience we had: Dad Our House is on Fire!…People are Amazing!.

Revisiting this issue, it appears all meaning is human created, but we do have a predetermined purpose.  It appears our shared predetermined purpose relates to our relationship with everyone and everything.  As Jane Benyus explained, life is about making life more livable (see We are Just Talking Apes).

In this view, the question we must ask ourselves is if we area giver or a taker.  Below is Adam Grant’s TED talk about the impact of this choice.  Enjoy & Make it a Great Week!


Healthy Fast Food? Will it work?


Will this be a trend?  Amy’s Drive Thru is offering local sourced healthy, organic fast food at a restaurant.  Many of you have probably already seen her products at your local grocer.  Here is the menu of the restaurant.  Below is the FastCompany article about this new restaurant.

If you have been to this restaurant or not, please share your thoughts about the experience and or idea.

America’s First Meat-Free Fast-Food Restaurant Is Getting Ready To Expand

Launched two years ago in a small town in Northern California, Amy’s Drive Thru has been a runaway success–much to the surprise of the owners, who now hope to take it nationwide.


Off Exit 484A on 101 North through Rohnert Park, California, you’ll find the usual roadside offerings: There’s a Burger King and a Taco Bell, and marginally more exciting, there’s a Chick-fil-A and an In-N-Out Burger. But right off the road that bisects the interstate, you’ll find a fast-food restaurant that’s like the others only in format. Amy’s Drive Thru is America’s first vegetarian, organic, gluten-free-optional fast-food restaurant, and much to the surprise of the owners, it’s doing more than holding its own against its greasy competitors in the Rohnert Park off-ramp complex.

Business has been so booming at Amy’s Drive Thru in its two years of operation that it’s beginning a franchise. A new location is slated to take over an abandoned Denny’s further south off the 101 in Corte Madera in 2018, with an eye to five more Northern California locations soon to follow. The ultimate goal, director of operations Paul Schiefer tells Fast Company, is to open Amy’s Drive Thrus all across the country.

[Photo: courtesy Amy’s Drive Thru]

A nationwide franchise of Amy’s outposts was far from inevitable when the company first began to mull the idea of a drive-through location a few years ago. For 29 years, the Petaluma, California-based Amy’s Kitchen has gained a cult following as a purveyor of family-style, vegetarian frozen meals, from macaroni and cheese to burritos, all handmade fresh in three operating facilities across California, Oregon, and Idaho, and shipped nationwide. The ingredients are sourced locally and organically, whenever possible, and the recipes are not put through the usual taste-test-and-tweak ringer; instead, they’re often sourced from employee’s family recipe books, and given a green light if a handful of Amy’s staff agrees that it tastes good. “There’s something about all culture’s home-cooked food that really speaks to everyone,” Amy’s food researcher Fred Scarpulla Jr., who started at the company in 1996, tells Fast Company. The go-with-your-gut, family-centric approach, Scarpulla says, makes Amy’s unique, but translating that ethos into a fast-food joint able to compete with the mass-produced likes of Burger King posed a challenge.The things that make franchises like Burger King and McDonald’s so ubiquitous are low costs and efficiency. Look at a menu in one of those restaurants, and you won’t see a lot of specialization: Sure, there’s a gluten-free option, but it’s a burger wrapped in a lettuce leaf, not in a gluten-free bun. And good luck finding anything vegetarian or vegan. They know their market, and they mass-produce to meet it accordingly, driving down costs in the process.

[Photo: courtesy Amy’s Drive Thru]

Amy’s, Scarpulla says, has never been about driving down costs, or ignoring more niche markets–instead, it’s prioritizing sustainability and quality as its core values. The drive-through is powered by solar panels, and the tableware is recyclable. Using mostly organic and local produce for ingredients is more expensive, but it’s what customers expect from the company, and while Scarpulla admits that Amy’s makes little to no profit on its gluten-free options like pizzas, the owners, he adds, “have always felt that there’s a service piece to our business, and that’s to serve people who don’t have other options.”Instead of a swift-moving, utilitarian kitchen, the culinary operation at Amy’s Drive Thru is necessarily divided into thirds, with vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options all prepared separately so as not to cross-contaminate. Whereas a standard fast-food restaurant has around 15 employees per outpost, Amy’s Drive Thru employs over 90 because it takes many more people to prepare the food. Even so, all are paid at above minimum wage, and with full benefits. And with a single-patty veggie cheeseburger clocking in at $3.99, just around a dollar more than the McDonald’s offering, Amy’s is not exactly pitching itself to a higher tax bracket.

[Photo: courtesy Amy’s Drive Thru]

With all those considerations–wanting to keep prices low, hold onto their values, and not cut production quality or staff–Amy’s Drive Thru, at the beginning, was just hoping to stay afloat and break even. “There were a number of us at the company who were involved in the planning, and before we opened the first location, we threw around a couple revenue numbers that we would have considered ‘a success,’” Scarpulla says. Though Amy’s does not release financials, Scarpulla says the company doubled or tripled those numbers in the first year alone, and have been breezing past them since. “It’s just been ridiculous for us,” he says.

When Scarpulla started at the company in 1996, this would not have been the case. But in recent years, he says, he and the staff at Amy’s have noticed an uptick in interest around plant-based foods, and an increased awareness of the harm meat does to the body and to the planet. While Amy’s has emphasized the home-cooked, family-style nature of its recipes over the fact that they are all vegetarian or vegan, Scarpulla has found that people lately have more naturally gravitated toward the health aspect of its offerings–a trend that has certainly carried through in the success of the drive thru; other healthy fast-casual ventures, like Everytable in Los Angeles, and this salad-based drive through in Arizona, have also benefited.

[Photo: courtesy Amy’s Drive Thru]

A true cross-country empire of Amy’s locations is still far off, but Scarpulla is optimistic that the company can make it happen. The company wants to expand slowly, to ensure that they can partner with local farmers and producers around each location (Scarpulla is particularly excited about indoor growing ventures for sourcing organic leafy greens), and to understand where the drive-throughs could have the greatest effect in breaking up health-food deserts. But the fact that the company is beginning to plan for this kind of expansion, he adds, is symbolic in and of itself. Drive-throughs are some of the most stereotypically American places to consume food, and right now, “when you think about drive-throughs, it’s all so focused on industrial meat, and one quick look at that industry is enough to tell you that it’s pretty nasty,” Scarpulla says. What if quality, local, meat-free fast-food could come to be seen as just as all-American as a Big Mac?



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