THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 515 April 21 - 27, 2008
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April 21, 2008
0015: Still difficult to do anything. Bed time. With luck I'll wake up able to do something productive.
0910: This is the pits. I can hardly climb the stairs. Roberta is bullying me into going for a walk, which I suppose I need, but it's all sheer will power to do anything at all. Ye gods.
1250: After my walk, I crashed until noon, then had a light lunch. I think I'll go crash again. I don't seem to be able to do anything but lie down and try to sleep. This is the worst three days of the whole recuperation period. At some point it has to end and I'll be able to get back to work.
From a physician friend:
Still reading your stuff and thought I'd toss an encouraging word your way. Energy loss is a side effect of all of this.
The loss of energy comes from several normal processes, both physical and psychological.
First, any therapy, be it surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, or even something less invasive has a physical toll. This toll is far more profound that most people realize. For example, my knee replacement laid me low for 2.5 months, far longer than I'd expected.
Second, the psychological effects are profound as well. Lets take a healthy guy and say "oh, by the way, you have a mass in your head...we can't remove it and it needs radiation therapy which may or may not cure it...get on with your life in the meantime." Well that has some effect as well.
I would suggest that you get some things done if you haven't.
These include an EKG, a TSH, a cell count, and a comprehensive metabolic panel. I suspect this has all been done, but itís a quick, cheap, easy set of things to do to look for common causes of fatigue. Iím a cardiologist, so I will often get an echocardiogram, but your doctor can decide if that is needed or not.
I see Dr. Wang tomorrow and I'll suggest this. Thanks. I sure do miss my steroids...
Some readers seem to assume I want to argue in favor of intelligent design, and have sent me various arguments against the hypotheses. I can't imagine where they get the notion that I have any such need -- and in particular that I have any need of arguments that are made daily nearly everywhere. I'm familiar with them.
I have neither defended nor tried to refute the intelligent design hypothesis. What I have said is that if the intelligent design hypothesis generates falsifiable theorems then it is at least potentially useful. In particular, some intelligent design theorists have postulated that the Darwinians cannot explain how certain structures of "irreducible complexity" were able to evolve through natural selection: what were the steps, and how each step did not add a reproductive burden (and ideally would convey a reproductive advantage).
In some cases these challenges have resulted in rather detailed theories from the Darwinians. To the extent that these generate falsifiable hypotheses, this is all to the good, increasing our understanding of how natural selection works; and to the extent that these intelligent design assertions have shown the Darwinians that they don't understand how some features might evolve, that is all to the good as well. It never harms to know that there are limits to the utility of current theories.
Now I am aware that there are some "intelligent design theorists" who seem to be naive creationists incapable of following a scientific argument or appreciating evidence. What I don't know is how that is a refutation of intelligent design? I have heard high school physics teachers try to explain the basic quantum two-slit theory in terms that ought to have their students rolling on the floor. So what? Niven long ago observed that there is no cause so noble that it will not be espoused by fuggheads -- and that the fuggheads will often get all the press, making the cause look as if only fuggheads are in favor of it.
As to teaching "intelligent design" in schools, it doesn't happen often. The real question is who shall decide? Local school boards, or experts? And be very careful how you answer, because there are a number of propositions of far greater practical import, such as IQ, and phonics vs. "whole word" methods of teaching children to read English, and such like that have been imposed from above by the experts on the grounds that local bumpkins shouldn't have control since we, the experts, know what the right answers are; and we don't want public money wasted on teaching nonsense like phonics, and having children learn the addition and multiplication tables when every expert knows that The New Math, or Fuzzy Math, is a far, far better way to teach arithmetic... And that it is far more important to have diversity in history textbooks than to have very much about the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Etc.
So long as the idea of scientific method -- the generation and testing of falsifiable hypotheses -- is shown, I don't have any great worries that bright kids won't figure out their own answers to matters like intelligent design; and I don't really care if my auto mechanic believes in his heart of hearts that he was divinely created and endowed by his creators with certain inalienable rights as opposed to his having evolved from bonobos without attention from his creator. I do worry that he knows how to read the output of the computer test equipment, and that he can figure out what the funny squeak is.
And I think that is quite enough on this subject.
Now I think I'll go lie down again.
2025: Apparently I am not making myself clear. Given that I have spent most of the day lying down, that's hardly astonishing.
What I don't understand is the passion on suppressing intelligent design in the name of science. Some readers are convinced that the end of the Republic is at hand if one school district, anywhere, decides to mandate intelligent design as an alternative to Darwinian Evolution. Given that the entire state of California forbade the teaching of English as a phonetic language for more than a dozen years, and still has very few teachers who understand how to teach that, which is the greater danger?
Mandating the "correct" position and requiring local schools to adopt that is a more dangerous principle than teaching an alternative to Darwin, without regard to whether Darwin is "really true" and belief in Darwin is so fragile that teaching an alternative would undermine belief in Natural Selection. I am not convinced that there is a school district that would teach "flat earth" as an alternative to the conventional wisdom, but if there were, I do not think the republic would fall if that were allowed. There would be ridicule and merriment and mirth, but I doubt the consequences would be much greater than that.
I suspect that too many readers have far too much confidence in our ability to shape beliefs in the public schools -- and too little in the education bureaucracy's abilities to undermine all learning in those schools.
On the other hand, I don't have a great deal of confidence in my brains this evening.
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|This week:||Tuesday, April
Today we see Dr. Wang. This morning is better: I find that the Bell's Palsy is almost entirely gone. I can wink my right eye. I have a headache and my nose pump didn't entirely relieve it, but things are better there, too.
I think I have more energy this morning. We'll see. Have to get a wiggle on, the appointment is at 11:20 and we need to have our walk.
Dr. Wang was very encouraging. We did more lab tests -- they got another of my corpuscles -- and they will schedule an MRI.
The real point was that the fatigue and enervation is standard, and the only real remedy is to go to bed. Which I did when we got home, since I was exhausted. This means a lot less work will get done until this phase is over. I have no idea when that happens. And of course I wonder how much is real and how much is laziness. Me and fatigue. It don't hardly seem fair...
I spent most of the afternoon in bed. I didn't even get for dinner on time, but eventually I went down to dinner, then we watched NCIS. And now I am going to crash again. I hope a week of acting sick and going to bed does it.
I am actually down to just the one symptom: complete malaise, fatigue, inability to want to move or do anything. I don't hurt particularly. I don't feel bad. I just can't get up the ambition to do anything at all including go to dinner or the bathroom. Sheesh.
as Fred Reed explains:
"If something looks implausible, it probably is. Evolution writ large is the belief that a cloud of hydrogen will spontaneously invent extreme-ultraviolet lithography, perform Swan Lake, and write all the books in the British Museum."
April 23, 2008
0730: I went to bed early -- 2100 -- last night. It was a pretty rocky night, but I sure feel better for it. And I have this:
Thank goodness you are finally taking a break Jerry. I'm about worn out keeping up with you. Do the rest of us a favor and take a week off. We need it, and it wouldn't hurt you either.
Don't worry, I won't do anything silly while you are recuperating. Not lazy! Recuperating. The best way you can sing for your meal right now is to notice the rest at the end of this measure. You know opera - they don't sing all the time!
We will see what happens today. I have to get back to work. No one subscribes when I take the day off.
Last night I saw the humming bird feeder (actually the Oriole feeder: they are different in that orioles cannot hover and have to perch in order to eat) was empty. I brought it in to fill it, but that was all; not enough energy to finish the job. This morning I filled it first thing. Apparently I'm feeling better. But we will see.
0915: OK, all right already! I hear you. Take a few days off, you tell me. And I think that's good advice. It's against my temperament to do nothing, but that's very likely the right way to go. Get more rest, let my few remaining corpuscles deal with the mess, and just recuperate. But I do feel up to working on some essays, and I suppose I had better give the column a lick and a promise if nothing more.
Felt good on my walk, but now I'm sleepy. I think I will give in and lie down for an hour. I have a lot of ideas for things to do. Maybe an hour of rest will get the energy levels back up.
2307: I have spent much of the day in bed or watching TV. I am going to bed now. All right, you win: those who keep telling me, give in and get some rest. I am doing that. I don't seem to have a lot of choice.
On the good side, there were flashes of normality during the day. Just not very long.
April 24, 2998
0625: Not a good night's sleep, but not bad either. Michael is coming about 10:30 to help clean up this place. We'll see if I have the energy to do that. At least I have chores for him that don't take much initiative from me.
I continue to see how much rest I can manage. Aha. A blessing. The female oriole is at the feeder now. Glorious birds. And maybe I can get back to sleep if I try now? That would be useful.
Until recently the Maunder Minimum and the Little Ice Age were thought to have a connection. Apparently man made global warming is more important now. Hypothesis: if the sunspot minimum continues during 2008 then the Earth will be cooler in January 2009 than it is now. Second hypothesis: climate model builders will have a good explanation that shows the Earth is still warming, but we just don't see it yet.
0715: This is The Day After Earth Day. Fortunately for my disposition I didn't have enough energy to pay much attention to Earth Day. Again: there were some good notions, particularly technology demonstrations, but much of Earth Day was devoted to lobbying for more laws. See mail for more.
How's this for incentive. You take a few days and I'll go Platinum, better yet see how many people would sponsor you to take a bit of rest. Think of it like a walk-a-thon but in your case a rest-a-thon. Take a week off and see if you couldn't get 100 people to sponsor you for the week. I'm 1, just 99 more to go.
10:40 After my walk.
Michael is here and we'll throw stuff away. I can sit and point and work here when I feel like it. And sleep in my chair if I need to. All's well. And thanks to everyone, particularly those who subscribed to keep me in a rest-a-thon!
Newt Gingrich seems to have signed on to "doing the right thing" by preserving the environment, but no actual program to do anything that would make a difference as opposed to making Al Gore richer.
At the moment the entire Global Warming crisis seems largely intended to keep Al Gore rich. It may or may not do something else. It does seem to be good at creating famine.
We can't use nuclear and now Obama says we can't use coal. We can't drill offshore. There is no proof that Global Warming is real, lots of proof that we don't know enough and before we spend a lot on a "remedy" we need to get more data on what the problem is; and accepting Pelosi's premise that we need to be involved in this "debate" on "what to do about Global Warming" is already to concede that which ought not be conceded.
Apparently Newt has stopped reading me. I'll have to see if I can fix that.
We should not be spending a nickel on doing something about Global Warming. We should be spending a good bit on gathering data about just what is happening to the climate; and until we are certain what the problem is, "doing something" is silly.
God looks after fools, drunks, and the United States of America. If Global Cooling continues the sheer foolishness of the "scientists" who embraced the Global Warming Consensus, and Hansen who abandoned science to become an advocate, and Al Gore who has made millions on this, will be pretty obvious to everyone.
The resulting loss of confidence in science will not be good: but fortunately there will be some scientists and science writers who can show that they were not taken in by the "consensus" and the UN's terror campaign against dissent. Still, it may be difficult to get the general public to pay much attention to science again. Hmm. That needs to be factored into the book Niven and I are planning....
He included in that some items that perhaps did not belong there, but we need not argue over that; the book is well worth reading even now when its point has been made many times.
April 25, 2007
It reminded me that I need to get my Facebook Page up and running. It also told me things I'd rather not know. I hear about "Twitter" on Leo Laporte's weekend radio show, but since I listen to that as sort of background music while I try to get something done (and pay attention when something comes on that pricks my interest), I never thought much about it. Ye gods! Who cares what I am doing from one moment to another? And then I realize that much of what I have written in the past few weeks has been just that, a sort of emotional diary, and my state of shocked smugness vanishes...
Yes, I know. A medical diary isn't quite the same as simply assuming that the state of my digestion is of any interest to anyone but me.
Another story in this morning's times:
Carolyn See, who is generally thought of as a typical liberal intellectual writer but whom I have found charming in person, and often worth reading, talks about being in LA without wheels. It's an interesting aspect of getting older in LA. Carolyn See is about my age, and has had what is considered a fairly successful literary career. She's certainly better known than I am in intellectual circles. (She also has a really well designed web page; it's slick and professional and everything mine isn't, and probably sells a lot of books for her.)
But my first impression was to count my blessings. Ms. See lives in Santa Monica, which on her description is less like a village than Studio City. She lives alone, in a condo that makes it so inconvenient to get rid of the garbage that she doesn't dare bring home a roast chicken from Ralph's. She can't drive, so the errands of life that we manage with a car in four hours in one afternoon take several days of a couple of hours each. It's a bit of an eye opener.
And an opportunity to count my blessings. The top of the list is Roberta. I don't live alone. Secondly I had the good fortune to buy this house in 1968 for a ridiculously low price (didn't seem so low then!) and thanks to Proposition 13 the taxes haven't increased to the point that I can't afford to live here as they have in some states. Studio City has remained a village. I don't have any problems carrying out the garbage.
I also thought about some of her problems. Too many books, too much stuff. I have that problem too, but my problem is largely one of decisions. I have shelves and shelves of books that realistically I will never read again, but I have difficulty getting rid of them, even when I cannot find room for new books I am still reading. There's a lot of computer history in this place. A CP/M version of LISP on 8" floppy disks (they really were floppy!) which are probably unreadable. Stuff like that.
Books are the worst, though. Some of them are valuable in that they ought to be read: not by me, I've read them and they had their effect. But they should be read by others. And now what? I can't afford the time and energy to put them on eBay or even offer to give them away: I'd spend my life packing them up and shipping them off.
Roberta tells me the contractors are here to inspect the work they did on the back balcony drains. Owning a house has its costs in time and energy and attention. Fortunately R0berta took care of most of that while I was recuperating from the radiation therapy. And continues to do so, leaving me room to recover...
And this is necessarily incomplete. More later.
Has McCain lost his mind?
The arrogance of the Country Club Republicans apparently knows no bounds. Now he wants to dictate to the local party people. Of course McCain doesn't believe in parties. McCain-Feingold was supposed to eliminate parties by making fund raising more personal for candidates, and making it more difficult for parties to collect money. That has profound effect, and the whole concept needs discussion: the Framers didn't much like parties either, and there wasn't any such thing as a political party for the first couple of generations of this Republic. Instead there were loose federations of people with some common interests.
That failed early. There wasn't enough cohesion among the Federalists to give Adams a second term, nor to bring in the Federalist favorite Hamilton. The election went to the House, where Hamilton had no chance, and it came to a choice between Jefferson, definitely not a Federalist, and Burr, an adventurer with a vaguely Imperial view; to the extent that we know Burr's policies they were closer to Hamilton's than Jefferson's, but Hamilton didn't trust Burr and threw his support to Jefferson. Jefferson was duly elected, and Burr shot Hamilton dead in a duel.
And with all that, McCain at least does not stand for raising our taxes through the roof; while Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barrack Hussein Obama seem to be in a contest to see who can demand the highest tax increases and largest budget. If the Democrats win this one White House and all, we will all pay for it big time.
Of course we paid for it big time with the Republicans in office as soon as Newt Gingrich self destructed. They didn't raise taxes, but they might as well have: they spent like drunken sailors, expanded ear marks, and acted in general like Imperial Rulers of the sheep, entitled to what they could take and spend; ending with a bridge to nowhere. There was nothing so ridiculous that the Country Club Republicans would not finance it. This madness continued after we went into Iraq. The war guaranteed enormous deficits. The trade policies guaranteed trade deficits. The wild spending guaranteed more deficits. Those guarantees made inflation certain. Inflation is itself a tax increase; and the enormous deficits make some tax increases almost inevitable.
The top leadership of both parties has been overtaken by the Iron Law, and there seems little to be done about it.
And meanwhile the Democrats seem to be drifting toward the concept of prosecution of former office holders by criminalizing policy differences. That's a certain formula for civil war; perhaps not immediate, but inevitable. The absolute minimum requirement for democratic government is that the loser be willing to lose the election: that losing an election is not the loss of everything that matters. As soon as that assurance is gone, playing by the rules makes no sense at all. (Pinochet learned that lesson. Fortunately for Chile, he was old and was allowed to die in peace; the inevitable -- liberals can always find a good reason not to keep their word -- persecutions after he turned over power on the assurance that he would be allowed to retire in peace were not so severe that his adherents didn't take to their weapons.)
We live in interesting times. Be afraid.
It makes for very interesting times when McCain is the best hope we have of preserving something like a republic rather than a socialist state.
If that isn't enough to worry about, we have the climate taxes that enrich Gore and ruin the rest of us. And mandated use of ethanol combined with forbidding us to make the ethanol from sugar -- demonstrating that the real purpose of the mandate is to make ADM richer, not to do anything useful about Global Warming.
And consider this:
Climate from the WSJ:
Has the entire world gone mad?
Perhaps when Peggy Noonan talks about the screening process, something might change, don't you think :-)
Regards, Charles Adams, Bellevue, NE
I have always been an admirer of Peggy Noonan, but this essay is brilliant. And if the Republicans of Lubbock, Texas, have had it with George Bush and the Country Club Republicans, who is left to admire them?
Do go read Noonan's article. It's worth the time.
Equal humiliation of the laws... and we really do mean it.
My son Richard has recommended an important article worth your attention; it also generated a number of comments from me, many of which will be incorporated into my essay on education, which is going slowly because I have taken your advice and am seriously working on rest and recuperation. And my thanks to those who subscribed or renewed while urging me to do so.
The conclusions reached in the article are revealing in many ways. Begin with the assumption that the Old Republic was antiquated, and that national interest is no longer important; and changes in policies and political structure can easily fix things. Policy wonks seem to have an odd disconnect between analysis, which is often very good, and recommendations, which are rarely dynamic and always assume that good intentions are both necessary and sufficient to fix things.
I write this as I listen to speeches about how wonderful our freeways will be now that they are going to kick they hybrids and two passengers cars out of the car pool lanes, and substitute tolls. That will fix freeway traffic!!
Subject: Rest or not rest
By all means take a rest if you want to, BUT I don't think you should interpret the "take a rest" suggestions as an indication that your fans want you to take a rest. After all, writing is also therapeutic, and if you don't submit, then another group of fans will get worried!
All in all, I think you should ignore the "rest" and "don't rest" input and instead do exactly what you want to do!
And in fact I do, but lately I have been getting more rest, and I no longer feel guilty about that...
April 26, 2008
1445: A fairly good night's sleep, a good walk, followed by a full crash and long nap. When I get fresh 0ut of energy, I go to bed. I have stopped trying to bull through. Otherwise, I feel pretty good. I talk better. The Bell's Palsy is nearly gone. Going off the steroids has brought back fairly severe hip pains -- I now pretty well deserve the permanent disability tag my doctor ordered for me -- which are only partly compensated for by religious attention to stretching. And, alas, neck pains, which don't seem to respond to stretching and exercises but I keep trying new ones. The Nabumetone (for Relafen) NSAIDS help; I know when I don't take them. But they are sure not doing what the steroids did. I now really and truly appreciate those steroids.
My head continues to be full of mush -- at least it feels that way. Ears are full of mush. Tinnitus in right ear is bad. Every now and then there's a sort of click and I can hear in that ear fairly well. This isn't opening the Eustachian Tube. I have had voluntary control of those since I worked at learning it back when I first went into aviation physiology and had to do a lot of flying in unpressurized places like the bomb bay of a B-52. I don't know what the click is or does, but suddenly I can hear in that ear for a while. But it fades, not suddenly. I am presuming it's the mess in my head playing games around Broca's Area, but that's a wild guess based on almost no data.
For all that, I get some things done. I have the ambition to do more than I actually do, and my activities usually terminate when I discover that I don't have enough energy to stand up. But I do seem to have longer periods of work before I collapse. Deo gratia, that trend will continue...
Anyway, that's the current status. I have lots of mail and I need to sort out what goes up today and tomorrow, and what is important enough to hold over until Monday and the new cycle. And, I hope, I'll be able to generate a final April column over the weekend.
My thanks to all who have renewed and subscribed during this "rest-a-thon".
Crashed after dinner. I really just want to sleep. I'll see if I can manage some mail. It's sleepy in here!
I am told there are studies showing that the overall return on energy from ethanol is 1.67 to 1; presumably this is ethanol from corn, and includes all fertilizers. This also contradicts other information. I am no expert on these matters; I expect we'll find out more fairly soon. That's the way this place works.
I am not at all sure that 1.67 to 1 is a very high return compared to, say, drilling an oil well or building a nuclear power plant. I am fairly certain that subsidizing turning the corn crop into ethanol and ignoring the effect on the cost of maize as food has not been entirely thought through. It's time for a real discussion of this, I suppose, and we can start Monday with a private discussion I have been engaged in.
We'll start that Monday then.
April 27, 2008
What utter horse[manure].
Asked to explicate, he adds
If I assume that every one of Obama's tax and spending proposals are enacted, and if I use Wayne's Allard's estimate of their cost , Allard being a conservative Republican from Colorado, a rough guess would be that it would increase the Federal take by about 10%: from 20% of GDP to 22%. Allard claimed that those proposals would cost 1.4 trillion over five years. Since this year's budget is 3.1 trillion, the Feds are on course to spend 15.5 trillion over the next five years (assuming no spending increases under current or similar management - ha ha ha ha ha ha !). So more like a 9% increase in Federal spending. That also assumes that we don't leave Iraq, which would save ~150 billion a year.
For perspective, total US government spending (federal, state, and local) is about 32% of GDP: moving up to 34% is what we're talking about. Max.
For even more perspective, you might consider why Obama is getting more donations than anyone ever has: he has the hedge fund guys sending him the preponderance of their political donations, and that isn't because they think he's going to end capitalism. Of course they could be wrong. In fact, he's going to do without federal funding in the general campaign.
Those increases in taxes and spending might be a bad thing, but it wouldn't make us a socialist state: certainly less so than anywhere in western Europe.
He has a point; enough so that he causes me to wonder if my brain is working. ON reflection, I don't think so. We are very near a tipping point: states that go much further in this direction don't ever come back without a violent revolution.
Unfortunately, another tipping point is immigration. Ten Percent of all people born in Mexico live in the United States. There are now members of the Mexican congress who represent Mexicans in the United States. McCain wants "comprehensive reform" which means he isn't concerned. On the other hand, he has pledged to secure the border before proposing comprehensive reform. At least he is thinking about the subject, and if he is a man of his word he is the only one of the three candidates who will do anything to stop the bleeding.
For decades the US has spent more than it makes; for decades spending went up faster than income. We have built mountains of debt. Some of that was genuine investment; much of it was pure consumption. Of the candidates, which one is likely to find that disturbing? And which have significant obligations payable to our trade deficit partners? Does this matter?
I have never said that I find prospects for the next few years very encouraging. All of our elites are concerned only with the right hand side of the Bell Curve, and give no thought to what can or should happen to the left; they simply don't care, and none of the political rhetoric indicates any understanding of the major problem facing the republic: how to integrate all of our citizens into the economy so that they are, and know they are, valuable members of the community. If we can't do that, there is little hope for the republic, and the bread and circuses politics of Obama and the Clintons become fairly inevitable. Or so it seems to me.
I also wonder if my head isn't working. But working or not, I don't see a lot of cheerful news. Moore's Law will insure increases in productivity; but energy prices and stupid policies will eat that, inflation will eat meager savings, and the schools don't seem eager to be part of the solution to problems of the future. Now I think I'll go water my garden, which is on a par with my mental abilities today.
Symptoms: more joint pains from arthritis. Head full of fog. Absolutely no energy. Yet everyone tells me I look better, have better color, and in general look a lot healthier than in the past. There's hope that the junk in my head will clear away.
This is a day book. It's not all that well edited. I try to keep this up daily, but sometimes I can't. I'll keep trying. See also the weekly COMPUTING AT CHAOS MANOR column, 8,000 - 12,000 words, depending. (Older columns here.) For more on what this page is about, please go to the VIEW PAGE. If you have never read the explanatory material on that page, please do so. If you got here through a link that didn't take you to the front page of this site, click here for a better explanation of what we're trying to do here. This site is run on the "public radio" model; see below.
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