How Am I Doing? (12 Questions)

By Shlomo Maital

   Dr. Tyler J. VanderWeele is a Harvard epidemiologist and biostatistics professor.  He  has developed a simple questionnaire to help us evaluate a core question, highly relevant as we emerge from over a year of pandemic lockdown and isolation:

      How am I doing?

    We hear about loneliness, isolation, stress, depression, and, a relatively new concept, languishing – people who are not depressed but who are not flourishing. *

      So – how are you doing? Are you flourishing?  Try these questions.  They are scored 1-10,  but,  I prefer just to give the raw questions, as food for thought, without the need to score. You can look up the real thing on the Human Flourishing Program website.

https://hfh.fas.harvard.edu/measuring-flourishing

Domain 1: Happiness and Life Satisfaction.

1. Overall, how satisfied are you with life as a whole these days?

2. In general, how happy or unhappy do you usually feel?

Domain 2: Mental and Physical Health.

3. In general, how would you rate your physical health?

4. How would you rate your overall mental health?

Domain 3: Meaning and Purpose.

5. Overall, to what extent do you feel the things you do in your life are worthwhile?

6. I understand my purpose in life.

     Strongly agree? Strongly disagree?

Domain 4: Character and Virtue.

7. I always act to promote good in all circumstances, even in difficult and challenging situations.

    Always? Often? Rarely?

8. I am always able to give up some happiness now for greater happiness later.

     Always? Often? Rarely?

Domain 5: Close Social Relationships.

9. I am content with my friendships and relationships.

    Very?  Somewhat?  Hardly?

10. My relationships are as satisfying as I would want them to be.

Domain 6: Financial and Material Stability.

11. How often do you worry about being able to meet normal monthly living expenses?

12. How often do you worry about safety, food, or housing?

    A lot?  A little? 

  So in general, how are you doing?  Are you flourishing?   What in your life could you change, relatively quickly, that would give you stronger ‘flourishing’ answers? 

   Worth a shot?

  • Cited in Dani Blum’s NYT article, Friday May 7, p. 12,  “how to thrive on the other side”.

Premonition: How Dr. Charity Dean Saved Lives

By Shlomo Maital   

Dr. Charity Dean

     Michael Lewis has written several blockbuster investigative books.  His newest is The Premonition: A Pandemic Story.  And it has a hero:  Dr. Charity Dean.  Here is what Lewis told a CBS 60 Minutes interviewer named John Dickerson about an unsung hero, Dr. Charity Dean:   (I’ve kept this to 800 words…worth reading the whole transacript).

   “Lewis writes that at the beginning of the pandemic one of those people [who saw the pandemic unfolding, spreading, tragically] was Dr. Charity Dean, a disease control expert, and the assistant director of California’s Department of Public Health. In January of 2020, Dean was alarmed when she saw images circulating on social media that appeared to show Chinese authorities welding apartment doors shut to keep residents indoors. 

      Audio insert:  Dr. Charity Dean: And watching those videos on Twitter, ’cause I had no other source of information, I thought, ‘They know something we don’t and this is real.’

      “Dean’s hunch was that international travel into California’s major airports meant the virus was already circulating in her state. She guessed there might be 100 undetected cases of COVID-19. Dean did what she called “dirty math” on her whiteboard, plotting what the virus might do to California in the coming weeks.

      John Dickerson: So you’re doing the dirty math on the whiteboard and you step back and you think what?

Dr. Charity Dean: I thought, ‘Oh my God. I don’t believe this. It’s 20 million in May.’

   “Her projection of 20 million cases meant half of California’s population would be infected within four months unless officials intervened to slow the virus’s path.

       John Dickerson: What was the response when you told your bosses that?

     Dr. Charity Dean: Disbelief. Shock. And then irritation.

      John Dickerson: Why irritation?

    Dr. Charity Dean: Because I think it’s just really hard for the human brain to grasp the exponential growth of an existential threat.

      John Dickerson: They didn’t even let you use the word ‘pandemic’ when you wanted to, is that right?

     Dr. Charity Dean: I was asked to not say the word ‘pandemic’ because it might scare people. But I was scared.

   John Dickerson: And you thought people should be too? 

  Dr. Charity Dean: Absolutely.

     Michael Lewis: Charity, who thinks she’s all alone, all alone in the world, aware in January that this pandemic is gonna sweep through the United States and nobody’s doing anything about it, including her state government. And nobody will listen to her. And all of a sudden, she’s introduced to the Wolverines. When she finds these people, it’s, like, yeah, these are my people.

    John Dickerson: Who were the Wolverines?

     Michael Lewis: The Wolverines were a group of seven doctors, all of whom at one point or another had worked in the White House together, and who stayed in contact and kind of helped the country navigate various, various previous disease outbreaks. But they weren’t in the decision making apparatus in the U.S. government.

       John Dickerson: Why are they called the Wolverines?

   Michael Lewis: They’re called the Wolverines because a fellow White House employee dubbed them so. It had some obscure reference to the film “Red Dawn.”

     Michael Lewis: …where these group of high school kids named the Wolverines go up and try to defeat the invading Russians.

    John Dickerson: In other words, the Wolverines had to take things into their own hands ’cause there was nobody to stop the invading force.

Michael Lewis: That’s right. They were a guerilla disease fighting operation.

    John Dickerson: Because the people actually who were supposed to be fighting the disease weren’t doing it.

Michael Lewis: Weren’t doing it.

    President Trump on January 22, 2020: We have it under control. It’s going to be just fine.

    “In late January, as President Trump and the federal government publicly showed no urgency over the virus, Lewis writes that the Wolverines tried a work-around: getting the states to move. It’s why the Wolverines recruited Charity Dean, hoping if she could push California to act, the federal response might quicken.

    Michael Lewis: She asks one of them, ‘Who’s running the pandemic response?’ And one of them says, ‘Nobody’s running the pandemic response. But to the degree that anybody’s sort of running the pandemic response, we sort of are’

     John Dickerson: This is fantastical, I think, to most Americans. Which is, they think there is something called the Centers for Disease Control. And there are big buildings in Washington that have Health and Human Services. Why did the Wolverines have to do what there are huge institutions designed to do?

     Michael Lewis: That’s a great question (laughter). That’s a very good question, right?. In the first place, the Trump administration abdicated responsibility for running the for the federal government. He just walked away from that. He said, ‘Governors, you’re on your own.’

– – – – –

       Trump paid the price. He lost the election because of virus denial.  But so what!  590,000 people lost more than an election, they lost their lives.   When you politicize everything, including the Centers for Disease Control (CDC),  a public health agency, that’s what you end up with. 

        As Joan Baez sang:  When will we ever learn?

Populist Leaders Kill Their People – Beware!

By Shlomo Maital

    A Christian Science Monitor report, by Sarita Santoshini, Ana Ionova and Sara Miller Llana, confirms what I suspected:  Populist leaders, by ignoring the COVID-19 pandemic, kill their people.  Ironic, isn’t it… leaders who supposedly are ‘for the people’, which is what ‘populist’ is supposed to mean, actually kill people.   What if what the people want – no lockdown, no masks, no restrictions – is bad for them?  Do courageous leaders do what is best?  Or what gets them votes?

     Here is the evidence:  “The five countries at the top of the global COVID-19 mortality tables – the United States, Brazil, India, Mexico, and Britain – have something in common: All had populist leaders when the pandemic began.   Like Donald Trump, heads of the other four governments also played down the importance of the pandemic or moved slowly to deal with it. They shared some habits, too – oversimplifying the pandemic, dramatizing their own responses, asserting their own solutions, and forging divisions along the way.”

      Fareed Zakharia confirmed this, on his CNN program today as well. 

      The three Christian Science Monitor reporters continue: “Populist leaders swept to power in recent years on a wave of promises. But confronted by a public health emergency like COVID-19, they have performed significantly worse than traditional politicians.   The results were catastrophic, and that has had political repercussions, even though they tried to shift the blame onto others. Mr. Trump is widely thought to have lost the U.S. presidential election because of his mishandling of COVID-19; anger at Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is on the rise; in Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro’s popularity is plummeting.”

        Here are the sad statistics:  (the numbers for India are likely an underestimate):

                                                        Total deaths             Deaths per million population

                                               U.S.     590,000                        1,776

                                                India   216,003                        155

                                                Brazil  406,565                        1,901

                                                 Mexico    217,168                    1,670

                                                  UK           127,524                   1,870

        Next time you are tempted to vote for a populist leader —  remember these numbers, remember how they fared during the pandemic.  These five countries have paid a heavy price for their wacky leaders.

Biden as FDR: 100 Days

By Shlomo Maital

    President Biden has a plan.  It’s not new.  It was used by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt 90 years ago.  Here is how it works.

     Win election, by offering pragmatic solutions and proposals to an existential crisis (Depression, in 1932;   pandemic, in 2020).

      Begin by winning public trust.  FDR:  solved the bank crisis, by closing the banks and insuring deposits.  He did this first thing on election.   Biden:  reorganize the vaccination program, and vaccinate up to 4 million Americans daily;  132 million Americans got at least one shot, and 100 million have natural immunity; 80% of those over 65 have been vaccinated.

       Build on that trust to tackle other difficult issues.  Climate.   Jobs.  Education. Jobs.  Child care. Jobs.   Use language carefully – Jobs Program, American Jobs…Biden used ‘jobs’ many many times in his recent address to Congress.

        Be bold.  Think big.  Ignore the naysayers. (Republican Senator Tim Scott attacked Biden’s address, but offered not a single positive constructive suggestion.)    

         I recently took part in a webcast with two other forward-thinking economists, from the US and UK.  Both agreed —   the government must play a leading role, and spend hugely,  and then worry later about paying off the debt, in a systematic fashion. 

        This is what FDR did in 1932.  His New Deal did not end the Depression, but eased it for many.    Biden is following his model.  The Biden deal will make life better for many,  while at long last making corporations and billionaires pay taxes. 

         The daily relief of not seeing an evil man spewing bile on Twitter daily,  stirring up his racist supporters and spurring them to violence —  the relief is palpable.  In Yiddish, we call a good person a “mentsch” – a good human being.  We have a mentsch in the White House.  Man, what a relief.             

Once You Learn How to Die….

By Shlomo Maital

    Once, in my younger days,  I started writing a book, with the presumptuous title How to Live.  It soon occurred to me that – I really had no idea. 

    Recently my wife brought home Mitch Albom’s 1997 best-seller Tuesdays with Morrie, picked up from the library’s freebie give-away pile.  This book is about journalist Albom’s weekly visits with his former professor Morrie Schwartz, who was dying of amyotrophic lateral syndrome (ALS), or Gehrig’s Disease.  I randomly read the chapter titled: The Fourth Tuesday: We Talk About Death.

    The key message:  “The truth is, Mitch,”  Schwartz said, “once you learn how to die, you learn how to live”. 

      What???

       Here is Schwartz’s explanation.  “Because most of us walk around as if we’re sleepwalking. We really don’t experience the world fully, because we’re half asleep, doing things we automatically think we have to do.”

        And, facing death changes all that?  Albom asks.

       “Oh, yes. You strip away all that stuff and you focus on the essentials. When you realize you are going to die, you see everything much differently.   The things you spend so much time on –  all the work you do – might not seem as important. You might have to make room for some more spiritual things….. Mitch, the loving relationships we have, the universe around us, we take those things for granted.”

         When I teach “effective creativity”, I try to explain a tool developed by the world’s great management consultant Peter Drucker – abandonment.  To make room for new things, get rid of old baggage.  Or, in other words, subtraction.  Innovation starts not by adding new stuff, but by getting rid of old stuff, that creates no value.

         I read in the New York Times that young people, after a year of isolation and work-at-home, are pursuing Morrie’s idea.  They are no longer eager to return to the 24/7 frantic pace of pre-pandemic.  They have rediscovered their kids and spouses.  It took a global epidemic. 

          So – thanks Morrie, and thanks Mitch, for putting his wise words on paper.  There is indeed time to read old books.  There is time to practice subtraction – what am I doing that would make me and my loved ones better off if I could stop doing them?   And there is time to value every single day and make it count.   Because, if today was indeed our last on earth, and nobody really wants that —  well, it should count, right?

        I have a very close friend who has refocused his life, by …. Seeking and appreciating beauty.  Wherever it is.  The fruits of this small exercise are remarkable. 

How to Connect with Others

By Shlomo Maital

    “Don’t talk to strangers”.  I guess a generation of parents has taught this to their kids.  But according to Julie Lythcott-Haims, this is not good advice.  We want our kids to be good at making connections, at social skills… safely, of course.  Julie is a prize-winning author, and lately, her book Your Turn: How to Be an Adult  offers really good advice on just that – how to be an adult,  which is more than chronologically reaching, say, 21 and legally entering a bar. 

      Earlier, she counselled parents on how not to be ‘helicopter parents’, hovering over kids and overprotecting them (I was the son of a helicopter mom, but finally escaped and ran off to college).  As parents, we need to make our kids resilient, self-confident, self-reliant, able (as Julie says practically) to find shelter, look after their possessions, prepare food for themselves, and, yes, talk comfortably to others. 

      Lythcott-Haims has an interesting background.  She is the daughter of a prominent Black physician and British white mother.  She is a former Dean of Stanford freshmen, and for years, evaded her Black origins, finally embracing it.

       I want to focus mainly on one aspect of how to be an adult – connecting with others.  It took me a very long time to learn this skill, far too long.  The key is, truly caring about other people, respecting them, even loving them, and finding out, sometimes in advance, what really sparks their interest.  For my acquaintances, I pretty much now have a catalog of their interests.  This applies to those from ages four or five (we have grandchildren, lots of ‘em), to 95.   Our grandson Z. loves animals.  So we talk a lot about them.  E. likes science and stuff.  A close friend, elderly and ill, loves Broadway musicals – we talk about Sondheim and Rogers & Hammerstein.   It takes a while to make connections.  A good start is to ask some questions, avoid small talk, be genuinely interested, and when you see the light go on in their eyes,  go for it… follow up.   In part, this means that you yourself need to be interested in a lot of different things.  It helps a lot.

     We know for a fact that those with strong relationships live longer healthier lives.  So literally, learning to connect is indeed a matter of life and death.  And practice makes perfect.  So, yes, do talk to strangers.  After 10 minutes of zeroing in on their passion, they are no longer strangers.   And sometimes, one good question can get the ball rolling.

     Essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson hated small talk, and used to ask people, when he met them,  “what have you learned since we last met?”  I try this sometimes.   It’s a pretty hard question – but at least, it gets a smile, and sometimes ignites a great chat.

   Yes, this is a kind of self-help book – but one of the best ones, based on Julie’s long experience in counselling young people at the doorstep of adulthood.  Give her advice a try.

    I first learned of it on National Public Radio’s Fresh Air podcast, in a fine interview by Dave Davies, subbing for Terry Gross.

Don’t Diet, Just Eat Smaller Portions

By Shlomo  Maital

    Yesterday, I listened to the BBC World Service program The Food Chain.  It brought some very useful pragmatic advice:

   “Serving sizes have increased dramatically in recent decades. It’s happened so subtly that many of us simply don’t realize, but it’s having a serious impact on our health and our planet. So, how can we reverse it?”

     Fast food portions a la Big Mac, and enormous restaurant portions, have grown enormously, almost without our noticing it.  BBC journalist Emily Thomas reports on “how food manufacturers and clever marketers have nudged us into buying ever larger portions, leveraging ultracheap ingredients and our own psychology.” 

      And worse —  it has crept into our homes “…where many of us have lost any concept of what an appropriate portion is.”

       Later in the broadcast, an INSEAD marketing expert offered some cool simple advice.  He is Pierre Chandon, professor of marketing and director of the INSEAD Sorbonne University Behavioural Lab, Paris.   It is this:

       As economists explain, there is a law of diminishing marginal utility.  That first spoon of ice cream?  Wow.  The next.  Less wow.  The last, especially if the dish is enormous …well, ugh…I’m stuffed.  So in truth we really do not get much extra pleasure from the last bites of huge portions.

      So at home, make smaller portions.  A single scoop of ice cream, not two.  Notice how much less food you waste (studies show a third to a half of food consumed at home is just thrown away – perfectly edible stuff!  A Haifa U. researcher scrounged through garbage cans to prove it!). 

      And at restaurants?  Ask for half portions.  Order kids’ size.  And if this is impossible – do not shrink from leaving half the food on your plate. 

       Personally, I HATE hate hate to waste food.  But there may be no choice.  If it harms your health, and if it is not pleasurable …why succumb to the wiles and profit greed of businesses?   Why not fight back? 

        Dieting is tough and often doesn’t work.  So why do it?  Why not just consume less, without in any way impinging on our enjoyment of the meal, and maybe, increasing it.

          Thanks BBC.   Now – regulators,  are you listening?  Do you know how much those huge fast food portions and enormous drink sizes are costing society, in terms of healthcare costs?

Another Global Meltdown Close Call – While We Slept

By Shlomo Maital     

   In 2008 global capital markets were in meltdown, driven by Casino-like gambler behavior by principal actors, hidden behind a screen of subterfuge, misleading labels (credit default swaps, which weren’t swaps at all), bad regulation and greed.  

    Some said – it can happen again, And it will.

    And, while we slept, while we were preoccupied by the pandemic, it nearly did.  In fact, three times.  The fourth time may be the real thing.  Fasten your seat belts.

     Here is a timeline account of what happened. I will skip a lot of the technical stuff.  Warning:  This is long, about 800 words.

     Background:  Bill Hwang is a New York hedge fund manager, who ran Tiger Asia; he set up his own hedge fund and called it Archegos (which means “one who leads the way” in Greek – as you will see, highly ironic). 

      Wednesday March 24:   the media company ViacomCBS begins selling shares to raise money.  ViacomCBS employs some 22,000 people, has $25 b. in revenues, with about $2 b. in profits.  The day before, Viacom shares fell 9%, and was down 30% from its high on Monday, on Wednesday.  Why?  The capital markets expected Archegos to buy tons of Viacom shares; but Archegos did not.  (We will see why not, later).  That turned out to be Bill Hwang’s downfall. 

     Hwang had bought huge chunks of Viacom shares, but used a derivative (an asset derived from shares, not actually a share itelf) to hide what he bought, known as TRS total return swap.  His purchases were based on debt – “leveraged”.  Some 85% of the price he paid was borrowed from banks.  This made him wealthy, with assets of $20 b. at one point. But it was his downfall.  Because – the collateral (backing) for his loans was the shares he bought. But when the value of the collateral falls, as Viacom shares did, the banks call you and say, hey!  I need money, your collateral is too small.   And Hwang was strapped, because some of his other investments (in Asia) were doing poorly.   

     So the banks had to sell some of Hwang’s Viacom shares, at low low prices, to pay up these so-called ‘margin calls’.  This caused Viacom stock to drop even further. A doom loop.  Not unfamiliar, in financial meltdowns and bubble bursts.  The banks knew this was ‘doom’ – but it was a race to see who could pull out their money before bankruptcy.  The most alacritous banks succeeded; the slow banks lost heavily.

     Thursday March 25    Hwang tries to get the banks to hold off on their margin calls, and arranges a conference call with his creditors.  But Goldman Sachs refuses and sells off Viacom shares.  Credit Suisse, in contrast, favors holding off.

     Friday March 26.  Goldman Sachs sells $3 b. to $4 b. worth of Viacom stock held by Archegos, with Archegos’ agreement.  During the day Goldman sells of more than $10.5 b. worth of Viacom shares. Morgan Stanley unloads $8 b. worth.  Deutsche Bank follows suit.   Credit Suisse and Nomura, who lent scads of money to Hwang, are left holding the ball.

     Monday March 29.  Nomura reports a possible $2 b. loss.  Credit Suisse ‘flags’ a possible $1 b. to $4 b. loss. 

     Tuesday March 20.  Mitubishi UFJ Financial Group reports $300 m. in possible losses.  JP Morgan, unscathed, says Wall St. losses could total $10 b.   US regulators and UK regulators say they are “discussing the meltdown”.  (Wow – quick work, guys.  Forget to set your alarm clocks?)

     Wed. March 31:    Credit Suisse losses could total $5 b.  A senior credit manager loses her job.    US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen says she will revive a regulatory working group (disbanded under Trump) to examine the risk hedge funds pose to the financial system.

     Thursday April 1.   NOT April Fools.  The losses spread – Japanese firms report losses too.

    And today, as I write this:  Tuesday April 6.   It’s business as usual.  The S&P and Dow-Jones Industrial Indices are both at record highs. 

     Meltdown?  What meltdown? 

     The bottom line:  Hwang used a ‘leverage’ (debt) strategy, buying stocks on borrowed money, hidden, (because he bought on his own account, for a ‘family’ hedge fund, and did not technically have voting rights, requiring open reporting).  He ran up Viacom stocks, at one point was worth $20 b.  in just one year – and now, has probably lost all of it. 

     Does this sound similar to Sneaky Sam, Gamblin’ Man, who rolls the dice in Las Vegas, makes millions, and then on one roll of the dice – loses every penny,  and borrows $5 to hop a cab to his hotel room. 

     Except —  global capital markets are not supposed to be casinos.

     One day, maybe, we will find a way to turn global casinos into what they are meant to be:   Channelling money from those who have it to those who need it, in a transparent, open, orderly and bubble-free manner.

p.s. Mohammed El-Erian, formerly CEO of the huge bond trading fund PIMCO says we have had fully three near-meltdowns in recent weeks, and sums up, “this was an accident waiting to happen, and it happened.”[The previous two near-meltdowns were linked to the GameStop shares and Robinhood].

How to Grow Old – Wisdom from Bertrand Russell

By Shlomo Maital   

Bertrand Russell

    Bertrand Russell (18 May 1872 – 2 February 1970) was a British polymath, philosopher, logician, mathematician, historian, writer, social critic, political activist, and Nobel laureate (for literature).  He was a pacifist, and went to jail for his beliefs.  He lived a long and productive life, to the age of 97.

     By chance, I stumbled on his essay, “How to Grow Old”,  in an anthology, on the bookshelves of our son-in-law.  His advice is very wise.  And it contains a lovely metaphor – treat your life as a river, let it gradually widen from narrow banks into a great broad Mississippi, with broad interests and the goal of remaining relevant, and helping others. 

     Here are his words —  232 of them. 

  “Some old people are troubled by the fear of death.  In the young there is a justification for this feeling.  Young men who have reason to fear that they will be killed in battle may justifiably feel bitter in the thought that they have been cheated of the best things that life has to offer.  But in an old man who has known human joys and sorrows, and has done whatever work it was in him to do, the fear of death is somewhat ignoble. The best way to overcome it – so at least it seems to me – is to make your interests gradually wider and more impersonal, until bit by bit the walls of the ego recede, and your life becomes increasingly part of the universal life.  An individual human existence should be like a river, small at first, narrowly contained within its banks, and rushing passionately past rocks and over waterfalls.  Gradually the river grows wider, th banks recede, the waters flow more quietly, and in the end, without any visible break, they become part of the sea, and painlessly lose their individual being.  The man who, in old age, can see his life in this way, will not suffer from the fear of eath, since the things he cares for will continue.  And if, with the loss of vitality, weariness increases the thoughts of rest will not be unwelcome.”

In Praise of Chlorophyll

By Shlomo Maital   

    Among the many things we take for granted on our beautiful abused planet is …. Chlorophyll.  I became aware of chlorophyll because of COVID-19. As our synagogue practices cautious social distancing, some of us sit outside, in the corridor.  I get to sit next to leafy plants and a lovely geranium.  And that’s when I reflected on chlorophyll (as the Muppet’s and Kermit’s song goes, it’s not easy being green — ). *

    You and I are here on this planet because of chlorophyll.  ONLY because of it.  Why? Because chlorophyll is vital in photosynthesis. And photosynthesis creates oxygen.  And oxygen is what we breathe, and why living animals are alive.   We’ve known about chlorophyll since 1817 —  for 200 years!

    Here is a short primer. 

    What IS chlorophyll?  It’s simply green pigment.  Why green?  Because Chlorophyll absorbs light in the blue portion of the light spectrum as well as the red portion. But it is a poor absorber of green portions of the spectrum. Hence chlorophyll-containing tissues appear green because green light is less absorbed by plants and is reflected to our eyes. The plant uses the red and blue light. 

    What does chlorophyll do?  Chlorophyll is simply green pigment found in the bacteria and  and in algae and plants] Its name is derived from the Greek — (“pale green”) and   (“leaf”).   Chlorophyll is essential in photosynthesis, allowing plants to absorb energy from light and use it to create food.   

    But what IS photosynthesis?  Photosynthesis is the process by which plants and some microorganisms make substances like carbohydrates.    It takes in heat in a chemical process that uses sunlight to turn carbon dioxide into sugars. The sugars are used by the cell as energy, and to build other kinds of molecules. The formula is simple:  6 molecules of water, and 6 molecules of carbon dioxide, combine together, catalyzed by chlorophyll, and using sunlight as energy, plus chlorophyll as a catalyst, you get six molecules of C6H12O6 (sugar) and six molecules of oxygen!

      Why does Kermit think it’s not that easy being green? (see below).

     Well, Kermit the Frog IS green, but not because he does photosynthesis, it’s because he’s a frog, and frogs are green because evolution made them that way as camouflage.  But in a world where people cut down trees and destroy frogs’ habitats, NO, it Is NOT easy to be green.  You’re right, Kermit.

     But maybe if we understood green better,  understood chlorophyll and the miracle that it creates, we would be bigger fans of Green.  Maybe we would vote for Green Parties?

= = = = =

  •   As a public service, here are the lyrics:

         It’s not that easy being green;

Having to spend each day the color of the leaves.

       When I think it could be nicer being red, or yellow or gold-

      or something much more colorful like that.   It’s not easy being green.

      It seems you blend in with so many other ordinary things.

     And people tend to pass you over ’cause you’re not standing out like flashy sparkles in the water-

     or stars in the sky.  But green’s the color of Spring.

     And green can be cool and friendly-like.

Blog entries written by Prof. Shlomo Maital

Shlomo Maital

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