DEFICIT & FISCAL MANAGEMENT

September 30th, 2008

On a recent interview our esteemed Treasurer, Mr. Swan, appeared quite ludicrous in his
frantic attempts to avoid having to even say the word DEFICIT. Honestly you would think he was being asked to say something vile and obscene. The weak excuse given to the interviewer, Kerry O’Brien, was that even whispering the word could immediately drain out the “confidence” of business firms and the community in general. To be quite honest I was amazed and disgusted!

It would seem that our politicians have placed a complete ban on the writings about the Great Depression and what policy was finally put in place to get the countries working again. Quite simply it was putting in place responsible fiscal policy and the use of DEFICIT financing to pay for essential infrastructure. This was the brainchild of the brilliant economist John Maynard Keynes who put forward the notion that economies went through regular cycles of activity between highs of plentiful spending and full employment to the downs of “pulling in the belt” and large numbers of unemployed.

Keynes stated that in difficult times governments should immediately engage in deficit spending on essential, useful and needed infrastructure - namely roads, railways, schools, hospitals etc. This would provide the necessary boost in activity by businesses , give men and women back their dignity and instill a feeling of confidence and optimism within the whole community.

There was one important, essential proviso for this to work effectively over time, however, namely the necessity to gradually increase the levy of taxes on the whole community once the level of employment and business activity had reached fair and reasonable benchmarks. In this way monies would then be made available for a surplus in the government budgets to fund the next turn in the cycle of economic activity when it would again be necessary for the government to “prime the pump” so to speak.

This method of managing the economy did work reasonably effectively over time until such time as the the gambling mad “monetarists” got into power and persuaded the government to just use “interest rate changes” to control the economy. Monetary policy has proved about as effective in running the economy as using a sledge hammer to sculpt a statue in marble. However, it enabled the monetarists and their mates on the stock exchanges around the world to clean up a fortune for themselves and in the process cause misery to emerging economies as their currencies were made the “poker chips” for the Stock Exchange casinos.

I really look forward to that day when the mention of the possibility of the government deciding to engage on a short bout of deficit spending will bring a surge of hope and optimism to those folk who have been waiting ages to have that hospital built, that railway extended that new school started , the research into the causes and the new treatment of aids.

Special for October - save $101 on the basic Kneelsit.

September 30th, 2008

As our contribution to ease the burden on all those hard working people out there whose back’s are going to be burdened for many years with even heavier loads by being forced to “pick up the tab” for the mess left by the WSBs and WFCs - the Wall Street Burglars and the Washington Fat Cats - we have decided to reduce the price on our standard Kneelsit chair by $101.00 for the month of October.

So if your back has been giving you gyp lately, get on over to our website and give yourself a break!

How our Spine works.

September 7th, 2008

The main job the spine has to do is to act as a foundation or frame for the other parts of our body to hang from. Since we now walk upright our spine also has to carry a fair amount of weight. To enable movement joints are needed.

Our spine acts as a casing to enclose and protect the main communication lines from our brain - our spinal cord. Openings occur at intervals all down the length of our spine which contain nerves going to all other parts of the body.

In total there are 24 bony blocks or vertebrae. The five largest of these are at the base or lower back and carry most of the weigfht . Above these are the twelve which contain the chest and have our ribs attached. At the very top of the spinal column are the seven cervical or neck vertebrae. These blocks of bone or vertebrae gradually increase in size from the top down to the base - rather like a columnar pyramid but have
2 distinct curves when viewed from the side.

The shape of these curves is determined by the structure and shape of the joints between each vertebrae - the discs.

Projecting out from both sides of the spine at the rear of each vertebrae are two arms called pedicles which are joined to each other by laminae or plates of bone which form the back wall of the nerve trunk canal. Each vertebra is joined to the one above and the one below it by a joint called a disc. To keep the spine relatively stable there are two additional joints known as facet joints coming out from the back of the pedicles and laminae. These slide up and down against each other and determine the extent and direction of movement by their shape and angle. They allow us to bend our spine from front to back and side to side.

To move our spine requires muscles and these in turn need to be attached to something to provide leverage. We also need attachments for holding ligaments and limiting excessive movement. These attachments are known as spinous processes and spread out sideway and rearwards from the pedicles. The rearward facing process is actually the knobbly part our spine which can be felt from the outside. When standing up straight these can be felt as a more or less vertical line.

Thus some of the main functions of the spine are: an ability to carry weight, provision of stability to the body and to act as a protective covering for our main communication lines from our brain. In the next section of our blog we will deal with those most important parts of the spine which enable movement namely the discs.


Development of the Spine

July 31st, 2008

In the earliest stages of evolution within the oceans animals depended on organic nutrients and thus had to move around to find it. Muscles need a firm support to be attached to so a primitive spine developed. While animals remained in the water the spine consisted of hollow tube filled with a flexible material which would allow side to side as well as forward movement. As the animal evolved into a larger and more complex creature it needed a stronger spine. This was first made of cartilage and then bone. Since bone on its own is too rigid, cartilage segments give it a necessary flexibility as well as a useful jointing function.

Getting on to land and then off the ground required the fishy fins to be strengthened and filled out so these organs developed an internal bone structure. The frontal fins became detached from the head and were thus able to move independently. In the early stages both the spine and the rear fins worked together to allow locomotion. As these rear limbs became more adaptable they became stronger and longer and completely responsible for movement while the spine itself became shorter and stronger.

Our very earliest ancestors were possibly somewhat like a sloth but then gradually gained an ability to move more quickly along branches then to
grasp the branches as well to aid in locomotion so their trunks became shorter and their limbs became longer and stronger. Those animals that moved down to the ground to go further afield for food became at times two-legged and eventually adopted this method of movement more completely.

To stand easily on two legs requires several changes to occur. The pelvis that attaches our hips to the lower spine is needed to provide a floor for the stomach. At the same time being wider helps to give us a better base for balance. The hips, pelvis and knees needed to straighten out to allow the body to become completely upright but this was not easily accomplished so it became the task of the spine to be responsible for the rest of the straightening.

There are three main sections making up the spine. At the top is the neck or cervical region made up of seven blocks of bone or vertebrae, Below the neck in the middle is the chest or thoracic region which has twelve vertebrae and each of these bony blocks has curved ribs attached to them. Finally at the base is the lower back or lumbar region having 5 vertebrae. This lower section has a reverse curve which is allows for some straightening of the whole body. To assist in this straightening process the neck also has a reverse curve. These two curves allow us to stand upright with a reasonable degree of balance and most important enabling our head to face directly forward which is also an important determinant of good balance.

As you observe the spine from the top to the bottom you will notice that the vertebrae gradually become larger. This allows the spine to carry an
increasing amount of weight. As mentioned above both the lumbar and cervical regions are curved and bend backward. The curves help reduce the load on the lower region of the spine. In addition the backward bend at neck allows us to look straight ahead and so saves us from falling flat on our face - hopefully!

Trains & Trolley buses - Transport of the Future.

June 30th, 2008

Can we accept the message that Gaia is sending us about her state of health and what needs to be done if we ourselves are not to be shown as little more than a footnote in galactic archeology as the instigators of her death by poisoning and asphyxiation? Is this to be our legacy?

Last month I wrote about an optimistic project being carried out in the city of London England that can show the way to all other cities around the globe in the field of self sufficient energy production, small independent power/heat source production units scattered right through the city and eliminating altogether the need to be “hooked up to the grid”.

What I would like to talk about here in Australia is an urgent, critical need to start re-claiming all the neglected rail lines throughout our sprawling landscape to allow the freeways to gradually fall into neglect - except for those parts needed to carry future trolleybuses that must over time replace our cars and buses. One grand ambitious rail building project, completed just a few years ago, joined Adelaide to Darwin and is now forming an extremely important funnel for a large percentage of our exports and imports through the port of Darwin. Prior to this section of railway being completed there was nothing between the two cities except a military link of bitumen built by the Americans during WWII which actually finished at Alice Springs so that there were only dry desert tracks for several hundred kilometres till you reached Quorn (A small town just north of Adelaide) I well remember the trip I made on my trusty Triumph Thunderbird motorcycle in 1950. I completed the Darwin to Alice Springs leg of my journey of 1000 miles in exactly 13 hours - yes I was stupid young fool - I know.

Anyway enough of the reminiscing. I am convinced that the present oil shortage problem presents us all with some marvellous opportunities to start heading in the correct and most efficient direction as far as our transport situation is concerned. We must wean ourselves off oil as quickly and completely as is humanly possible if we are to save our planet from being choked to death. For our long distance haulage rail is the only sensible answer. Rail can also be used to help redistribute populations and industry more efficiently. For commuters in the cities light rail and trolley buses can greatly reduce our dependence on the car.

Reports in today’s press highlighted the lengthy delays encountered by commuters from the north west of Sydney - in some cases a one and one half hour trip from Castle Hill to Sydney centre which 4 years ago took only 45 minutes. A rail line linking Pennant Hills, Richmond, Penrith and
Liverpool could eliminate inefficiency of the a bove and induce commerce and industry to re-locate out in these areas where the working population is already concentrated. Such action, however, requires vision and foresight on the part of the present State government and this unfortunately is a quality which seems to be sadly lacking among our present political incumbents.

If you want to comment on this story please do so through the contact form of our website at www.kneelsit.com

Thank you
Greg Usher

Some Hope on Global Warming

May 31st, 2008

A fascinating news item in a specialist TV program on ABC TV last week held out a very pleasing prospect which could prove a major weapon in the world’s struggle to slow down the pace of global warming - or more particularly the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

In the City of London in England, one man has been given the task of helping reduce its carbon emissions and providing the necessary energy to allow the city to continue functioning while reducing its carbon emissions by 60% by the year 2025. This would seem an impossible task and yet engineer, Alan Jones has been given this task and has accepted it. His previous work on providing sustainable energy for the city of Woking gave him the necessary credentials to be saddled with this job.

At Woking Alan Jones arranged for the construction of 80 individual “in house” power stations which have made Woking independent of power from the national grid. Electric generators operate using natural gas and heat from this operation is piped underground to supply heating, hot water to nearby residences as well as the building itself. In addition the total roof area of the building is covered with the very latest in solar electric panels. So the whole building is Combined Heat and Power station - plus a large carpark.
In fact, however, generating electricity and heat together within the city is not new, Manhattan was set up with CHP (or combined heat and power) in the late 19th century, but when modern, centralised power stations were invented, CHP was quietly abandoned – and the city was linked to the grid.

In energy terms, though, massive centralised power stations are far less efficient.since more than two thirds of the energy produced is lost to the atmosphere as heat – with further losses over the grid. They just generate electricity, throw the heat away, and the gas companies and/or oil companies provide fuel for people’s boilers. So not only are they throwing energy away they’re using another lot of energy to do something that could have been done from the waste heat. It’s just a complete waste of energy and one of the primary causes of climate change.

The town of Woking is now producing 80% of its own energy. And in just 10 years it had dropped its CO2 emissions by a mind-boggling 77%

The goal for London’s climate change action plan is to take twenty five percent of its energy supply off the grid and onto decentralised energy by 2025, and more than fifty percent by 2050. A huge changeover to decentralised energy.
Planning permission now requires that all new developments in London have to include 20 %, decentralised, on site renewable power.
But London’s action plan also tackles retrofitting – which you need in a city that’s packed with historical treasures.

Of all the measures in the city of Londons’ climate action plan – transport, homes, new buildings - CHP generation of heat and power is the one that can actually deliver on the 60 - 80% carbon reductions required.
Its like an energy revolution. It’s almost like comparing the mobile phone to the landline.

Finally, as if the massive job of installing hundreds of CHP stations was not enough challenge, Allan Jones and his team identified through their climate change action plan that probably their largest renewable energy resource currently untapped is restaurant food and organic waste, vegetable peelings. If all the organic waste in London were converted to biogas and fed into the CHP units, there’s enough to power 2 million homes – that’s over half the homes in London. So waste disposal now becomes power generation.

It is hoped that London’s call to arms will go down in history as the thing that motivates the rest of the world into a wider survival reflex.

Allan Jones: “If the cities all do the same things as London, that’s how you could tackle climate change. While federal governments are still talking about it, cities can get on and do it.”

Please note: If you wish to make any comment you may address them to me through my
contact page

“Behind the Mask”

March 31st, 2008

Don’t be fooled by me , by the face I present
For I wear a mask from a large array.
A different mask for each new event,
Depending on whom I meet each day.

Mask number one is a favourite of mine -
Secure, confident, calm and contained;
Need no one, in command all the time.
Don’t believe me please its false and strained.

While my surface is smooth, confusion’s beneath
Fear and loneliness struggle with grief.
Quickly! My mask! I can’t let it show,
My weakness and fear no-one must know.

So with nonchalant mood, carefree I pose
To hide me away from the glance that knows.
That glance which could truly save me if only,
I’d break down the wall that imprisons the lonely
- - - - - - - - me.

But I keep on with the games, my pretences I flout
Scared child within, assured mask without.
My life is a front, an affront to truth,
As idly I chatter, suave and aloof,
of all about nothing, but nothing of all
that’s crying within behind my thick wall

I really do hate these false social rules
So when I start my charade just don’t be fooled,
But listen most carefully, listen please do,
To hear what it is I’m not saying to you.

Deep down I detest phony games, falsity,
I want to be genuine, childlike and me.
So please hold out your hand to me e’en when it seems,
The last thing I want is that you share my dreams.

****************************

Please note: If you wish to make any comment you may address them to me through my
contact page

Meditation & Invention

January 27th, 2008

Some time after completing the meditation course a low stool was constructed which incorporated these principles of weight distribution, balance and movement. Having completed the first model a number of others were constructed and sold. However, it was the realisation that the concept could be applied to full size seating at desks, tables etc. which occupied time, energy and funds over the next four years.
Meanwhile studies in anatomy, physiology and physiological psychology were undertaken to discover those scientific principles, and any research experiments which might help to explain the greater comfort experienced with the Kneelsit as compared with all other forms of seating. Lessons were also commenced in the Alexander Technique and’ closer observation was made of clients posture problems which he encountered in his counseling practice.
. -:
Further research into back problems and their possible origins brought an understanding that two common factors seemed to be relevant with those clients whom he counselled:-
a. Psychological problems, such as rigidly held attitudes, poor self image etc. and that feelings of strain, tension, balance awareness and poor posture were all inter-connected.

b. Persons engaged in sedentary occupations appeared to be more severely affected in many 6ases and a number of them consistently complained of poorly designed chairs at work.
Continuing investigations slowly made it clear that the proprioceptive sense was one which was little appreciated or understood by society in general, despite the important part it plays in our total feelings of well being. Secondly that it has been largely neglected and allowed to deteriorate through poor body use and the undue strain of badly designed seating.
During the development stages of the Kneelsit, checks were constantly made with volunteers of various heights and build to ensure that the angles, distances, height differentials etc, all felt comfortable for the people concerned. No special notice was taken of any ‘norm’ or ’standard’. (except for the standard or common desk height). The most important criteria was that the Kneelsit had to “feel right” for each person when it was adjusted for their particular body size. This is why people find that having taken the time to custom-fit the various adjustments to suit them they rarely have to change it again. However, a word of warning to the unwary. Do not under any circumstances change the settings without first having received permission from the owner.! You can read about further aspects of balance and movement at this page on the kneelsit website.

Note:- If you wish to make any comment on any part of my blog then please do so
through the contact us form on my website I will add it after checking.

Meditation & the birth of an invention. I

December 31st, 2007

HISTORY
In 1988 while carrying out research for a paper on meditation and health I
undertook a ten day course of meditation in a technique called Vipassana.

Research had already been made into Yoga, Zen and Transcendental Meditation; there
was, however, no scientific literature published on this particular technique - hence the
decision to engage in the course itself.
The main emphasis in the Vipassana technique is to train the student to fully focus
awareness on all the sensations occurring in the body. As the mind wandered it had to
be brought back to the main task of focusing on sensations. In essence it was a mental
discipline which sharpened and improved the proprioceptive sense. (as well as providing
other benefits)

The course involved sitting in silence for a total of fifteen hours a day apart from meal
breaks. As a result the aches and pains felt throughout the body were quite severe the
worst pains being in the back.
Various devices such as chairs, cushions, low stools etc. were tried and finally a small
stool with half round legs. Being above an exact balance or fulcrum point which
continually moved slightly made a significant difference and all back pain was eliminated.
The main problem remaining was the pain in the legs and knees. Recalling school days
and kneeling in church pews with buttocks resting against the edge of the seat, a padded
moving knee cushion was envisaged.

The mind being free to wander, I began to recall my days in the infantry
during the Korean Campaign. Very heavy loads were carried at that time, spare
clothing, bedroll, boots, rations, ammunition and weapon, probably between 40 to 50
kilograms, yet, no back pain was experienced. The load had been spread evenly
around the body. Heavy ammunition in front packs to balance the bulkier back pack
and all the time you kept moving. Balance and movement were the key features.
Korean porters carried even heavier loads of fuel and ammunition up steep slopes on’ A’
frames of their own design, always, however, their backs were straight but leaning
slightly forward and their knees flexed so that all the weight was carried over hips and
knee joints.

Nevertheless I am still amazed today, more than 50 years on, how they carried those
heavy loads day after day with no complaints.

(I will complete this in my next blog posting)

Meanderings.

October 31st, 2007

I was roused today - perceptions stirred,
By an old, black crow who greeted me
with sly chuckle and cheeky grin in his wide brown eye.
White plastic bag of treasure? clutched in his powerful beak.
“Something good?” I called.
Flapping off - “Worth a grab and a peek”.

A peek at tired grey fences - staggering,
Leaning exhausted in summer’s haze
Caught up idly by the spider of time
Weaving her web of rusty barb.
Criss-cross here, loop there , no pattern, no seeming design,
But serves to catch the human fly
Who dares to cross her boundary.

Females converse in a an ordered group.
Murmurs, comments but no complaints,
Patiently they wait in line.
Till one - a stranger to the group - inserts herself,
Loud bellows, shoves - she stands confused.
Then one with loving patience, generously allows her in.
They settle down again to wait,
To give again, as they have given all these years
Udders full, milk dripping from their teats
Outside the bails.

Dandelions in bloom
Spread golden butter thick across green fields
While Illawarra flame
Extends her jewelled arms in prayer,
Praising creation with her finery.

A rusty length of steel - discarded,
Twisted by fate into pretzel shape
Stands proudly in the ditch.
With silent grace she speaks
“I too am part of God and S/He of me.”

Kisses, quick greetings of three dear friends,
My spirits lift e’en higher still
Than I thought possible.
I tiptoe lightly on the wings of life
New-born, awakened.

Thus stirred today my senses glow
Roused from slumber by this old black crow.
T’was not his raucous call
But the baleful grin in his piercing eye
Which lifted the scales from clouded sight,
And gave fresh vision to glimpse the All
- - - for a time.

Strange thoughts now rise from hiden deeps,
Of Merlin, Beowulf, Odin, Thor,
Familiars, ravens, silent speech.
Child’s nonsense, Myths? Inflation? - - - OR?

Note: If you wish to make any comment please use the contact form on my website
Thankyou
Greg.