Another false standard to make me feel inadquate.

Roaming around the internet with inspirational pictures of gardens and nature, all gauzy and pretty:

"I asked an elderly woman once what it was like to be old and to know that the majority of her life was now behind her.
She told me that she has been the same age her entire life. She said the voice inside of her head had never aged. She has always just been the same girl. Her mother's daughter. She had always wondered when she would grow up and be an old woman.
She said she watched her body age and her faculties dull but the person she is inside never got tired. She never aged. She never changed.
Remember, our spirits are eternal. Our souls are forever. The next time you encounter an elderly person, look at them and know they are still a child, just as you are still a child and children will always need love, attention and purpose."
~ Author Unknown

I'm as elderly as the next guy  (70) and this does not resonate with me at all. I think about myself at a young age, say, fifty, and I almost can't believe I'm that guy. I suppose my core neuroses are intact. I'm still easily embarrassed for example. But, I am completely different. Compared to me as a child, I'm barely the same species.

The person I am inside is definitely tired and the voice inside my head hasn't said, "let's get high for days" or "you're not the boss of me" or, even, "that's not fair" in a long, long time.

I agree that people need "love, attention and purpose" for sure and, it's not that there is no trace of my childhood. But, I read this and my first thought (because a certain kind of insecurity has made it though since then) was why can't I be like that, serene, connected to my past, expressing the innocence and creativity of my youth, eternally young inside.

And then I felt like I had to ask: Is this real? Or is this a media fiction like, I don't know, the media presentation of female beauty, a made up idea whose only connection to actual reality is the sadness it causes in people who can't live up to it?

So, I have to ask and I apologize, too. Does anyone believe this is real?

On Handwriting


When my children were young, my wife and I required them to learn to play a musical instrument. I believe the realized many benefits from enacting the physical connection of their minds, senses and bodies.

As a computer programmer, I am extremely adept with a keyboard but when laptops came along and I tried to use one for meeting notes, I found it infinitely inferior.

Having gone back to handwriting, I now understand that the integration of mind, body and senses during a meeting, or in many other intellectual activities, produces an entire different and richer understanding.

Were I the parent of young children now, I think I would insist on learning cursive writing as well as music.

Using AI "will become true human-machine artistic collaboration, and things should get really interesting"

Finally someone writes about the tech and society instead of reactionary fear. As you know, I've been so sickened by the dopey efforts to mischaracterize this new tech.

Since I subscribed (it's too slow when it's free), it has all but replaced google for me. I have used it to help me figure out all kinds of cool stuff. I had an especially good AI supported interaction with a person I know who insists that 'Jews for Jesus' is not offensive but I my most profound use has been as a coproducer when I am writing software.

This article's phrase, "will become true human-machine artistic collaboration, and things should get really interesting" is already being fulfilled in my life albeit, today, in a simple way. Often now, I ask GPT to "give me an html form with three fields, username, file path and action. Make the action a radio button set. Add a button that says 'send file' and give it an on-click handler that will post the data in the form to http://localhost/endpoint", or something like that (though that is a real example that gave me, amazingly, working code that I integrated into my project).

I am interested in the question of when, or whether, an AI will develop into some sort of competitor for people in a general sense. I know the OpenAI people are specifically building it with safeguards (unnecessary presently, they say) against it being able to seize resources and spread but I doubt that will be a problem. All the rest of the animals have being working to develop consciousness and creative initiative for three billion years and still, we are the only ones.

So cool. I am so grateful to be around for this breakthrough. I have often thought about how happy I am that I got to be here for the iPhone and the ability to access the world's knowledge from my pocket, wherever I am. Now to see the beginning of having an intelligent helper is just thrilling.

Everything is Quantum Foam in One Way or Another

I have known about quantum foam for some time, long enough to have factored it into my ideas about the universe.

When I first knew about the big bang, I imagined the universe oscillating. It expanded until the momentum of the initial explosion expended itself against gravity and then fell back, eventually into a big crunch which zeroed out entropy and banged again.

Now we know that the universe is not only expanding but accelerating in its expansion. This means no big crunch but it also means that the matter created in the big bang is being spread out across an increasing volume of space.

Even now they think that intergalactic space is bubbling with quantum foam albeit at a relatively low energy. I imagine that this might be because the absoluteness of the vacuum at the current level of expansion is still not very absolute.

I then imagine the future, say a trillion years from now, when the expansion has progress so far that everything is so far from everywhere else and the acceleration of expansion has made it so that intergalactic space never, ever gets any photons (the speed of expansion being greater than the speed of light), that we get to a time when there are places that go from our current vacuum density of an atom per cubic centimeter (I think I read this someplace) to an atom per cubic lightyear (or something).

Which is to say, really, really close to absolute vacuum and absolute zero.

This means that the random process of quantum mechanics now has a very extreme situation. I imagine that the bubbling of quantum foam is moderate energy because there is still plenty of matter and energy to compete with it. Then I imagine the difference in the results of the processes that create quantum foam in an extreme context a trillion years from now and guess that it would be less of a foam and more of an explosion. Something that creates a big bang.

This is a nice idea because it presents a continuous process to explain the evolution of the universe. We don't exactly have a singularity anymore than it is a singularity when a bubble bursts at the surface of boiling water. And, we don't have to worry about before and after because before there was quantum foam and after there is still quantum foam, just that the intensity has boiled away for a trillion years, or whatever, and will be back once the process continues.

It also gives some comfort to the idea of a multiverse, albeit a much less abstract one. In this incredibly tenuous future, there is no reason that two empty places have their quantum foam boil over into a big bang, could happen all the time. Even after a new universe pops up in one place, the expansion of the precursor universe would continue and one might expect new universes to explode out of the quantum foam all the time.

And it is nice because then, viewed on some ultimately grand cosmic scale, the universes themselves appear as bubbles in a new quantum foam and that makes for a nice, fractal consistency with what we see today at the microscopic, macroscopic and cosmic levels. It is all self-repeating organization and entropy, hard at work, annihilating and creating and doing it all again and again.


The Good Thing About Facebook

In the modern, mobile age, it's very difficult to know what is going on with certain categories of people, no matter how much affection or history we share. I feel a bond with you, as I do with a number of the children of my friends, that is not fulfilled by the rare occasions when I get news from your dad. To some extent, I was part of your parenting and you were a child of my extended family. I am interested in your life and keeping that bond alive.

In this mobile age, me in Minnesota, you in California, neither in our shared location of Illinois, you would be, practically speaking, lost to me forever. As bad as Facebook can be, it is a miracle for removing physical distance. It provides a fairly easy way to send news to us oldsters who care. (And the few youngsters who haven't entirely moved on to Insta and then Tik Tok, and god knows what next.)
Thanks for returning to Facebook. One of the main reasons I use the program is because it allows me to still know people that would otherwise be gone, and today, especially you.

TQ White II

"Things have moved backward in a terrifying way."

Us literate types have heard of Rouseau, the French philosopher who initiated Romanticism. As Bertie (I feel that Bertrand Russell and I are on a nickname basis at this point) puts it, Romanticism substitutes esthetics for utilitarianism as the ethical premise.

This means that Romantics judge the ethical value of a position based on a generally unquantifiable sense of how 'good' it is rather than how it affects others.

The idea is that we can never really 'know' anything, facts are illusory either in a Cartesian 'it could all be a dream' sense or that the world is so fluid that what we think we 'know' is constantly being invalidated by change. The solution is to rely on 'cogito', our internal values which are, in this view, the only thing we can be sure of. 

It is the kind of thinking that led, via Nietzsche and others, to the Third Reich. The idea there is that their national 'cogito' is the source of virtue based on the internal (non quantifiable) values of the citizens... without regard to the consequences to others. In this case, the rest of Europe and, of course, the Jews, etc, who were victims of the Holocaust.

We are entering a Romantic era in America. After several decades where the national ethos opposed racism because it resulted in more people being productive and happy (utilitarianism), and environmental activism (for the same reason) and tolerance (for the same reason), we have a new era where the country has decided that what the correct ethical evaluation is based on what we 'feel' is right. 

That feeling is, as it was in Rouseau's time, heavily influenced and supported by religion. "The reason my sense of right and wrong deserves prominence over the utilitarian support of society is that I believe in God and that makes my view Holy."

The people who ran the Inquisition had not heard of utilitarianism. For them, it was the only path. Once they conceived the idea and attributed it to God, they were doing people a favor by torturing them until they finally accepted Jesus and were thereby saved from an eternity of damnation. It was, to them, perfectly ethical.

Which is to say that the new Romanticism is very, very dangerous. It appeals to the same lump of brain matter that makes people love God and that is much, much more dangerous than the one that makes people love cocaine.

Our national 'cogito' has turned to intolerance and religion. Romanticism supports a ruthlessness that we liberals can never match.

We are in serious trouble.

On Women in the 1400's

I just read a book that is about the social history of the 1400's, the time leading up to this. I was astonished at the depth of misogyny it described. In law, custom and family, the idea of women as Eve's daughters, carrier of sin was very concretely real to our ancestors. This quote carries the idea accurately and the laws and customs in place to restrict women and prevent them from destroying (this does not overstate the dominant view then) society were just fucking nuts.

As bad as it is these days, the extremity of what people are willing to do to support their conservatism cannot be overstated.

(There were places in England in this era where a woman could be punished under law for being annoying, ie, confronting or shouting at a man or at a woman accompanied by a man. Punishment for the first offense, the dunking chair, second offense dunked twice, third time, drowned. This was law.)

On the Revision of Roald Dahl's Racist, Sexist Oeuvre

Concerning the controversy about the descendants of Roald Dahl revising his books to make them less creepy: I think it is fine. Good. Ok. No problem. (With my only reservation being that it does not sound like they are doing a good job.)

This reverence of the 'original' is stupid. It's a goddam set of children's books but, even if it was the Bible, the notion that artifacts have to be frozen in time is wrong.

(I make some concession for cases where the changes amount to historical revisionism. I sympathize with the reluctance over changes to Huckleberry Finn that make it seem like that era was egalitarian.)

I'd be mad if no library kept a copy of the earlier versions. I want to be able to look back and revel in the nastiness as much as the next guy but, nothing is or should be permanent. Least of all reprehensible expressions.

And, as long as we consider (wrongly) the idea of intellectual property as a thing, profiting from it is the point.

Says an interlocutor, finished art should be preserved accurately; we must retain it and its meaning forever.

I don't agree. Nothing is finished. Everything rusts, gets dusty, decays. Civilizations rise and fall. Change is everywhere and inevitable. Amazon's Glacier, archival digital storage, works really, really hard to preserve digital bits. Someday, Amazon is going to be a memory and those bits are going to be worn out. I have written many superb words, things I truly believe should be preserved. When Amazon goes, they will be gone, too.

I do not share your reverence for "finished art". I care about society, more accurately, I care about the people in society. If art is hurting people, fuck it to death. I have no loyalty to 'things'. I have loyalty to a good world. (Also, I want to say things about elitism and the idea that 'his' words are "finished art" and others are not but I don't want to make this note endless.)

I do not believe in censorship. I would be appalled if anyone said, "You cannot read Dahl in the original." I would be appalled if the Dahl estate endeavored to enforce the use of the new version. I would consider it harmful to the people in our society if they pretended that black people were not abused in the time of Huck Finn.

I would consider revising a painting to be problematic because that would deprive us of the original. I would not have problem with it being recreated, detail for detail except for the sexism, or whatever crime is troubling the children.

But, I am different than most. You might recall my lifelong opposition to copyright and intellectual property. I share belief with those people who opposed copyright in the seventeen hundreds. Creativity is not the virtue of the artist. He or she is a channel for something that is not theirs. 

Those folk thought it was god. I think it is a trick of genetics and upbringing. It is luck, sometimes an inability to work a real job, perhaps mental illness like Van Gogh. That their scribblings and sounds cause people pleasure is as much a consequence of the audience as the artist. If not for us, Yellow Brick Road would not been a cultural icon, it would be forgotten with the other songs we did not choose.

I think the idea of reverence, that "they" as in, "should be accepted", that there is a glorious 'it' different from other objects, is a fallacy. Art is human stuff and I have no more reverence for an old painting than I have for an old sword, which I would happily see hammered into a plowshare. Unless, of course, I happened to like it but, really, does my caprice really make it capital-I, Important?

As for losing the understanding, go find a copy of Dahl in the original and enjoy it. Study and write papers. I'll read them. I like to understand things, too. 

But, there is no value in children appreciating his vile ideas and there is value in the Dahl estate continuing to provide quality entertainment for them.

An Editorial Note: Facebook Seepage

I do much of my writing on Facebook for a small group of friends who seem to find it interesting. I really like some of the essays and have decided to preserve them here. Going forward, there will be posts that are not entirely well formed because they were written during a conversation there that is not entirely reproduced here. In the one that motivates this note, I am adding a brief, italicized summary of the idea that motivated the second section of the note. As time goes on, I will probably figure other ways to carry my Facebook work into this blog.

FLCCC, Ivermectin, Evil Fauci Beatdown

A sick friend received email from someone she knows advising her on how to get her health back. She's not a science person and asked me to evaluate the guy's advice. Bottom line, the guy's a horrible shithead offering terrible advice with Trumpster motivations.

But, my reply summarized the case against this misinformation and that seemed valuable to me. To wit:


"However, pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic studies suggest that achieving the plasma concentrations necessary for the antiviral efficacy detected in vitro would require administration of doses up to 100-fold higher than those approved for use in humans." [NIH]

IE, Forget about it. There is no conceivable benefit to even thinking about ivermectin. It was disproven during the pandemic. Now that we are vaccinated, it's even more pointless. None of the links in your email went anywhere so I can't offer you a point by point rebuttal but, forget about it.

The person who sent you this talked about using ivermectin to reverse the negative effects of the vaccine. Leaving aside the fact that there are no substantial negative side effects, ivermectin's only claim to fame is that it reduced the amount of virus in a lab experiment. The mRNA vaccine does not add any virus to your body. It's illogical and there is no evidence whatsoever that it is helpful. (But plenty that using ivermectin is dangerous.)

mRNA Vaccines

I have read extensively about mRNA. It's a fascinating subject and I could tell you an insane amount of detailed info about it. None would mean anything to you. I say this only to avoid the feeling that I, too, am just blowing it off without opening my mind. I have opened my mind. I have read a lot. I know this...

mRNA vaccines are AWESOME. As great as normal vaccines are (and the anti-vaxx types should be killed for their lies), mRNA is better. 

Vaccines operate as a sort of a 'learn by experience' sort of thing. It puts a bunch of processed virus into your body and your immune system figures out how to repel disease.

mRNA vaccines are more like a scientific training exercise. Instead of virus, it sends instructions about how to generate an immune response. It's a tiny fraction of the action, highly targeted. For covid, it tells the system to generate a protein that is metabolized almost immediately leaving behind only an immune response.

One Trumpster complaint is that it's not well tested. Insane in two ways. First, it was tested exactly the same as everything else except the stages were conducted in parallel, not in sequence. The other is, we are two and a half years and hundreds of millions of doses and nobody is suffering adverse effects.

(Eventually, all vaccines will be mRNA and there will be vaccines targeted for your specific body. It's completely possible that they will be able to biopsy a cancer and generate an mRNA vaccine that will instruct your body how to kill it.)

I took a look at that Robert Malone video. His opening premise is that "cannot underestimate the lack of any morality of the people [who are supporting mRNA vaccines]". Anyone that ascribes evil to *everyone* but him is probably projecting but it's certainly not right. The interviewer  starts the interview by asking for the key info that would lift the scales from the eyes of detractors. His answer, "The Fauci files". The very most important thing he thinks we should know is that Anthony Fauci is evil.

Anthony Fauci has dedicated his life to helping people. He was key in saving Americans from HIV. He was key in saving people from ebola. He was key to saving people around the world from AIDS. He was key to taking America from 5-10000 people dying every day from COVID to a few hundred. He is, to the contrary, one of the best people in human history.

And your friend uses the assertion that Fauci is evil as the key to his plan for you. Not good.

The FLCCC thing is a bunch of cranks. They have been saying irresponsible stuff since the middle of the pandemic. They want to sow distrust and collect donations so they are rich. I read their website. It basically says, "Everyone except us is lying. Use ivermectin." How on earth could it be that everyone, WHO, CDC, NIH, Britain's NHS, and everyone else, is lying? And, not that I'm a Fauci grade person, how could I read and read and never see anything persuasive to make me agree that there is a vast conspiracy. Ignore FLCCC with prejudice. Also, the guy who says you should do it.

You asked for my opinion. This is it: I looked at the FLCCC stuff. It's junk. Ivermectin has no reason to be discussed. mRNA has been used by hundreds of millions with no ill effects and lots of great ones. Anthony Fauci is not someone whom you "cannot underestimate the lack of any morality". Your friend, not to put too fine a point on it, is what I like to call a right-wing shithead. Don't listen to him. Don't take his advice. The things he says are nasty and dangerous. Take your vaccine and be glad you live in an age miracles and wonder.