THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 523 June 16 - 22, 2008
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June 16, 2008
This morning Larry came over with his corrections on Escape From Hell (Inferno II). We merged them with mine. When we were done it was time to go out to the doctors. I packed up the Mac Book Air and the Kindle so I wouldn't get bored, but in fact I didn't have time to take either out of the briefcase, either waiting for the doctor or waiting down in the X-ray lab for a chest X-ray.
I told the technician that after all the radiation therapy another dose was all I needed. She laughed and explained that what she used was trivial compared to what the therapy people did. I already knew that but I didn't tell her so. Like everyone at Kaiser, she was cheerful. If being nice to people will cure them, both the Sunset and Panorama City Kaiser facilities are in great shape. Then back to the doctor's office carrying my X-ray.
It isn't pneumonia. Bronchitis of some kind. I've got anti-biotics. I also want to sleep all the time, but I should get over that. In other words, something worse than a cold, exacerbated by the radiation sickness, and it will all pass, take my meds, get lots of rest, and keep a good attitude. Count my blessings. Which I knew, but renewing the lesson does no harm.
So, God willing and the creeks don't rise, I ought to be my old self in a week or so. I do hope the rest of you will have patience....
On the subject of creeks rising, the shots I saw of Iowa City were illuminating: when I went to the University of Iowa, no one in his right mind would build in the flood plain of the Iowa River. The riverbanks were for the fine undergraduate sport of "river banking", which in those days involved one boy, one girl, and a blanket, preferably a Hawkeye blanket. Since that time apparently people did build down by the river, and the predictable result followed. Now it's a disaster area and I suppose the people who survived Katrina will get to help pay to rebuild in the Iowa City flood plain.
Mind you all my inferences are from perhaps a minute of TV coverage of Iowa City, but it sure looked to me as if the places flooded out were in areas we used to go walking along the river bank; a flood plain.
When I was young, if you built in a flood plain, you built a place on stilts with the notion that sometime in your lifetime the water would rise. There were lots of Bayou houses in Louisiana. Having an unusable first story and an ugly house in stilts was what you paid for the cheap land with no flood insurance. Of course that's all changed now.
Anyway, I am back among the living. I made a number of adjustments in Escape from Hell, mostly because it read better with my changes. Niven approved them all, so my head isn't entirely unusable.
Tomorrow I'll have a whack on a column, or a mail bag, or both.
|This week:||Tuesday, June
Got up at 10, had breakfast, went back to bed. Up at noon. Antibiotics are taking effect. I feel better and while I don't have much energy, I feel as if I may get some.
An old friend has asked for advice on an upcoming speech (asked me and half a dozen others) and I've worked up a few points, which took care of the morning. Nice to see some people still pay attention to me.
Still not much energy, but by gollies I now think I will recover. I sure lost a couple of weeks in there, though.
For those who never saw these:
are worth your time.
June 18, 2008
Third day on antibiotics, and they are taking effect. I still went back to bed after getting up this morning, but I got up at 10, and I feel a lot better. I think by the end of the week I will be back in form, and meanwhile I seem to have enough energy to pay the bills and maybe to catch up with some mail.
With luck I'll soon be back...
Meanwhile, there's mail, and I'm at least up and about. Now for some exercise....
More Iron Law in action: California schools get more money than they did 5 years ago. They have fewer students. The remedy: raise taxes. This is the Iron Law with a vengeance.
June 19, 2008
I slept until Noon, but I feel pretty good. If it weren't so hot out I'd take a walk. When I woke up at 0800 I immediately went back to bed, but I feel like working now. Cheer!
A chap who believes it great fun to point out that I am an idiot sends (among other things) this:
We've already made new species
How about the dog itself? Or try maize. Both prehistoric, yes, but there's plenty of archaeological and paleontological evidence that we did it; and they are definitely new species.
To the best of my knowledge, dogs can interbreed with both wolves and coyotes. We can of course quibble over the definition of species, but it's pretty clear that natural selection refers to something other than selective breeding. Dogs, according to the latest evidence I have seen, tamed themselves; people allowed them to do it, and somewhere in the course of human evolution the entity 'villages with dogs' gained some superiority over the entity 'villages without dogs'. Human evolution seems to have proceeded by groups more than individuals. Was this intelligent design or natural selection?
One of my cocktail party theories -- that is, a theory I will vigorously defend in a cocktail party but have not tried to write up for a serious journal -- is that a long time ago humans made a pact with dogs. They retain a sense of smell. We use that part of our brain to get smart. The same forebrain areas seem to be used for both. Dogs stayed loyal to humans and allowed us to become humans with smarts. Thus we owe them, big time. A little like Robert Adams's pact between the Horse Clans and the big prairie cats.
But are we modern humans a different species from those descended from villages that didn't allow tame dogs amongst them? (Not sure we can find any, of course; but then it's hard to find humans that didn't find villages preferable to solitary life.) All this is worth discussion, I suppose, but first we need some definition of "new species."
One of the arguments used by Darwinists is that there are species of birds that differ in a spectrum. Any two birds close together on this spectrum can interbreed, but those from the far ends cannot. How does this fit into the notion of species? Wherever you divide this spectrum into two species, there will be elements of each that can interbreed with the other.
A major problem in trying to discuss these matters is political correctness. A Cocker Spaniel and an Australian Shepherd are clearly the same species. They can interbreed. (Clearly: about 50 years ago our Cocker Spaniel gave birth to a litter that included a pit bull and an Australian Shepherd. We kept the Aussie, and Rascal was a very interesting dog.) Their temperaments are quite different. We call those breeds of dog. We used to speak of the breeds of man, but that is now considered racist, as it is politically incorrect to speak of races of dogs or cats. The notion that people might have inbred temperamental differences isn't one that science can investigate now.
Perhaps we are learning. One of the astonishing things about DNA is just how much DNA we have in common with the chimpanzee, and how much both we and the chimpanzee have with an ear of corn. Perhaps a proper analysis of gene sequencing will get us past the whole tricky notion of Linnaean taxonomy, which was useful in its day but now seems to get in the way as much as it helps.
My point in my original statement was that we have not unambiguously observed the creation of a new species, but we have certainly shown how that might happen. It is also very clear that intelligent intervention -- on the part of, say, a sheep herder -- will move us toward new species of sheep faster than natural selection. It's fairly easy to observe evolution in action over long periods of time -- or at least we think it is. But the devil is in the details, and if we're not careful we resort to Just So stories to explain that last little jump.
Note that I am hardly arguing for either natural selection or intelligent design: we think we have seen both at work in historical times. I am arguing for rational discussion.
And we have mail here. I'll work on Chaos Manor Reviews later. I feel pretty good, if a bit weak.
The world is panicking over birthrates. Again.http://www.reason.com/news/show/126855.html
Behold the marching morons...
Comment from another discussion group:
When I was in school the US population was 140 million as I recall. I thought that a lot of people. In those days you could ride horses in the Great Smokey Mountains, and hunt in Mississippi canebreaks, and-- but that was in another country and besides the wench is dead.
I keep expecting to wake up normal, but I haven't been. Mostly I just want to sleep. This can't be good. I finished the antibiotics today. Now I should get back some appetite and energy, shouldn't I? This hasn't been a lot of fun this week. I keep hoping it's just funk and I can get past it with some will power.
|This week:||Saturday, June
Now I am discouraged. Last night at about 10 PM it was cool enough and Sable and I took a walk around the block. Maybe half a mile. Yesterday was my last antibiotic.
Today I am not doing well. I still mostly want to sleep. And sleep. And Sleep.
When do I get something like my appetite and energy back? I see the radiologist Tuesday. Perhaps he'll know something. Does recovery take this long? I was done with the radiation on first of May. That's quite a while ago.
I think my head is working, but I don't have any ambition or any reason to use it. Sigh.
I would like to have made it to the birthday party of the Brother Rutan out in Mojave, but that trip was a bit more than I could take, given that I had to put in an appearance at Larry Niven's birthday party out in the Valley. That one I got to.
I'd hoped to take Sable out for a walk tonight, but I don't really feel up to it.
I keep telling myself I'm getting better all the time. I'll know more Tuesday.
June 22, 2006
Not my best day. But tomorrow will be better.
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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