By Gus

Entanglement

MOON
EARTH

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is a concept so strange that Albert Einstein called it “Spukhafte Fernwirkung” in a letter to Max Born, one of the founders of Quantum Mechanics. This is roughly translated to “spooky action at a distance.”  He wasn’t sure if he really believed it, but all his calculations said that he should.  There was no proof of its existence, until now.  Einstein felt that this observation was evidence that the theory of Quantum Mechanics was incomplete. If you don’t understand it don’t feel bad, Einstein didn’t either.

 

So, what is entanglement, and why is it important?  Much modern technology depends on entanglement’s reality and existence. It allows for ultra-precise measurements. Sensors of various items such as chemicals or time intervals utilize entanglement technology, as does GPS, Television, atomic clocks, quantum computers, more accurate MRI machines, detectors of stealth aircraft, and many more technologies. Quantum computers use qubits as a unit of information instead of bits.  A bit is either a 1 or a 0.  It is either on or off, while a qubit is not 1 or 0; it is anywhere between those two numbers, in other words, an infinite number.  Secure communications, and thwarting hackers, will be another one of entanglement’s benefits, as an attempt to interfere with systems that use entanglement disrupts it immediately.

Entanglement on its surface seems impossible.  Two particles that are entangled can exchange information even though they are separated by a distance, even if they are at opposite ends of the universe!  If that seems impossible, wait until I tell you that this happens instantly.  This exchange of information happens faster than the speed of light, which, according to Einstein is the fastest anything can travel in the universe.  It breaks the speed limit of light! Another impossibility. 

The simplest explanation I have found that helps in partially understanding entanglement, is the spinning wheel that has two colors, for example, red and yellow.  As it spins, you do not know what color it will land on (Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle 1).  When it stops it is either red or yellow without a doubt (Schrödinger’s dead cat 2).  Now you happen to have another identical wheel on the moon that is entangled with your wheel on earth, which is also spinning.  If your wheel on earth comes up yellow the one on the moon will always come up red and vice versa.  There are no wires or radio waves or any connection between the wheels.  The potential uses of this method of instant transmission of information are enormous.  If we should find other intelligent life millions of light-years away, and we had entangled communicators, we could talk.

The trick is to get two particles to entangle. That, as it turns out, is not all that difficult. There are four ways:

  1.  Find particles that are already entangled.
  2.  Take two photons that are already entangled and shoot them into two separate atoms.  Now the atoms are also entangled.
  3.  Take atoms that emit photons and have beam splitters that separate them into two beams, horizontal and vertical polarized light.  If one is horizontal the other is vertical (anti-correlated), and that makes them entangled.
  4.  By exciting atoms into higher energy state (Rydberg state), you can create two atoms that are anti-correlated with each other, i.e. they are entangled.

The researchers have shown that they can shoot a particle by laser beam into outer space and keep a paired entangled particle in the lab.  The two particles exchange information with each other instantly.  As if that were not enough, the same experiment was done with two quasars 600 light-years away, and they were able to demonstrate communication between entangled particles from each quasar billions of miles apart.  Things are more connected than we realize.  Spukhaft indeed! And at quite a distance!

  1. Werner Heisenberg was a German theoretical physicist and Nobel Laureate, one of the pioneers of Quantum Mechanics.  His uncertainty principle states that it is not possible to know both pairs of complementary properties of an object at the same time.
  2. Erwin Schrödinger, also a Nobel Laureate, was an Austrian physicist who developed a thought experiment in which a cat is theoretically both dead and alive inside a box, but it requires an actual measurement to determine the outcome. In this case, the measurement is looking inside the box to see if the cat is dead or alive.

Doppelgänger

My last essay was on German compound words.  I forgot one of the better ones until my own Doppelgänger showed up to haunt me.  You may ask what a Doppelgänger is. It literally means “double goer,” in essence, one’s twin or double. It goes back to ancient Egypt.  Ka is a spirit double of you.  There are a series of apparitions in other cultures that are similar.  Euripides conjured up a look-alike Helen of Troy in his play Helen.  The look-alike manages to mislead Paris, Helen’s abductor, to end the Trojan war.  Göthe, the German poet and author, describes meeting himself on horseback on a dark and stormy night, riding in the opposite direction, in his work Dichtung und Wahrheit (Poetry and Truth). Izaak Walton writes what he swears is the truth that his contemporary author and friend, John Donne, met his wife’s double on the streets of Paris the night that she delivered their stillborn daughter.

The concept that we all have a Doppelgänger has been used often in literature.  George Gordon, Lord Byron used the idea to show the good and evil duality of our own personality.  The Russian author Fyodor Dostoyevsky wrote a whole novel, The Double, about a man whose Doppelgänger exploits the man’s character flaws to take over his life.  Steven King in The Outsider has his protagonist copy individuals’ DNA to become near perfect copies of them.  Even Disney films use the motif.  Donald Duck is imitated in “Donald’s Double Trouble” by a duck that has no “duck accent,” speaking perfect English and acting the perfect gentleman.  And even Madonna used the Doppelgänger theme in her music video “Die Another Day” where she battles her evil self in a duel.

I am not much of a believer in the occult phenomenon, but recently I experienced something that makes me wonder if I need to re-assess.

To comprehend the situation, you should know how I came by my first name, Gösta.  For reasons that are totally unknown to me, my mother gave me a Swedish first name.  I am not Swedish; no one in my family is or was Swedish.  The name originates with a Swedish author who wrote a novel, The Saga of Gösta Berling. It was made into a Hollywood blockbuster silent movie in 1924, starring Greta Garbo and Lars Hanson. My mother saw the film at the height of World War II right before I was born, in Hinterstoder, the town my father was assigned by the Nazi High Command to replace the doctor who was drafted into the Wehrmacht (but that is another story).  In the movie, Gösta was a defrocked vicar because of his alcoholism and womanizing, but eventually was redeemed by a woman’s love, played by Greta Garbo.  Why on earth, my dear mother would name me after an alcoholic skirt-chasing priest is above my paygrade to comprehend much less explain.

Back to my Doppelgänger. Two decades ago, I opened a brokerage account with Vanguard.  I signed up for the account with my full name, Gösta Iwasiuk, but Vanguard, for some reason, decided I should be G. Iwasiuk.  Perhaps the clerk that created the document thought the name was complicated enough, so he just put down the first initial and last name, thinking that would be adequate. They have faithfully sent me monthly statements for twenty years with that name.  (I might add that S&P 500 stocks have done quite well for me.)  I recently changed banks and needed to delete my old bank account and link my new bank account to Vanguard.  My new bank account was under my full name, Gösta Iwasiuk.  This is where my Doppelgänger, G. Iwasiuk, comes in.  Vanguard assumed that “Gösta” Iwasiuk, despite being the good twin, was attempting to usurp my evil twin, “George” Iwasiuk’s account and steal all his assets.   Another factor that made Vanguard doubt my identity was that I failed the secret identification question Vanguard had set up to positively identify me twenty years ago.  The secret question was, “What is your favorite hobby?”  I recounted my top five favorites, but none of them were the correct ones. In twenty years favorite hobbies do change.  But George would have known.  It became quite clear to me that George was a real person in their records, who happened to live at the same address as I, with the last four numbers of our social security card being the same.  They wanted a notarized statement that G. Iwasiuk and Gösta Iwasiuk were the same person.  I needed to find a document that showed G. Iwasiuk’s social security number was the same as Gösta Iwasiuk.  Of course, George had cleverly destroyed that document, and I was unable to prove my identity.  No notary would vouch for me.  My own bank also balked because I could not produce the proof that George was not a real person.  After a week of debate and exchange of various documents, I finally convinced them that George did not exist.

I almost blew it, though.  The Vanguard agent that had seen me through all this, as a parting gesture, asked me the obligatory question,  “Is there anything else I can do for you?”   I could not resist,  I said yes.  He said, “What?” I said, “I will need help in burying George’s body, because I had to murder him, to get rid of him!”  Silence at the other end of the line.  I broke the silence by saying, “ I am kidding!!
After a perfunctory faked laugh, he hung up.

The Magic of German Compound Words

                                                     SCHWEINEHUND

I was born in Linz Ober Donau, which was at that time of my birth annexed to Germany by the “Anschluss,” but now is Austria.  For you to understand the landscape, I need to go back over 100 years to 1918, the end of World War I.  Austro-Hungary was a kind of United States of Europe, sort of what the European Union is now, but much more organized and effectively one country.  Both my parents were proud citizens of Austro-Hungary from birth. In 1918 that ceased to be. Woodrow Wilson would not accept the reconstitution of the empire as part of his 14-point plan, and Austria became a minuscule shadow of its former self. Austro-Hungary was a mega-nation of 239,977 square miles and a population of 52,800,000.  The Versailles Treaty reduced it to 32,386 square miles, with a population of 6,478,000. To give you a comparison, New York City has a population of 8,622,698.   Austria, a once-proud world power, became a miserable dwarf country.  The Versailles Treaty did many other things that turned out to be colossal errors of historic proportions.  One of these allowed the emergence of a German leader (Führer) who got many things wrong, but he knew that the Versailles Treaty was a boneheaded mistake for Europe that would have devastating consequences.  His annexation (Anschluss) of Austria was one of those efforts to reverse Versailles. Woodrow Wilson, with the historic retrospect scope, was a dwarf thinker, not the brilliant peace-maker status he still is accorded by history today, despite his Johns Hopkins’ credentials and the Nobel Prize.  Were it not for him and the Versailles Treaty, Germany, its culture and language would have been much more influential in the current Weltanschauung, and would have made a much different world than we have now.

Speaking of Weltanschauung brings me back to my discussion of the German language.  German culture and language have many unusual aspects.  German has great literary giants, Wolfgang Göthe, Friedrich Schiller, Reiner Maria Rilke (not only a great poet but also friend and secretary to Auguste Rodin), Heinrich Heine, and Bertolt Brecht among many others who could match Shakespeare’s gift of gab. 

Because German is my first language, I am familiar with many exceptionally descriptive words, yet they cannot be adequately translated into English, which leaves a palpable void in my ability to express myself at times.  Weltanschauung is one of those words.  In one word, it conveys a comprehensive concept of the view an individual has of the world philosophy, culture, universe, and humanities relation to it. It takes at least one sentence to explain it in English, and it still is just an approximation of the full meaning.

Tor-Schluss-Panik is one of those words that, with one word, conveys a whole chapter of a gynecology textbook diagnosis.  When a  childless woman nears the age when she can no longer conceive, she often is overcome with a deep-seated fear that we would call “the biologic clock is ticking,” nothing as elegant as Tor-Schluss-Panic. If she does not conceive now, she will miss the chance to have a baby, the only opportunity to fulfill the universal human desire to multiply, and leave something of herself for the next generation.  Translated word for word it means “gate closing fear.”  You must admit “Tor-Schluss-Panik” even if you don’t speak German is so much more descriptive.

Fahrfergnügen is another one of those words that have no English equivalent.  It was used very effectively in a VW commercial that sold a lot of VW’s.  It means “the joy of driving.” 

Schlimbeßerung is a word that needs a paragraph to explain.  Schlim means worsening, and beßer means to make better.   If you are in a situation where things are good enough, but you want to make it better, but in the process of attempting to improve a situation you actually make it worse, that is schlimbeßerung.  Incidentally, the ß is an old German designated letter that stands for double s (ss).

  Handschuh is a hand shoe, thus “a glove.”  “Wanderlust” the enjoyment you get from wandering.  If you want to describe a sad or pitiful person, you would call him “ein Häufchen-Unglück” a “little heap of disaster.”

The absolutely worst insulting name you can call someone is “Ein Schweinehund” “a pigdog” ( see above picture). Zeitgeist is literally “time spirit” but means the general intellectual, moral and cultural climate of an era.  “Weltschmerz” –“the pain of the world” has been used by many authors such as Lord Byron, Oscar Wilde, Heinrich Heine, and the Marquis de Sade, which connotes deep sadness about the imperfection or inadequacy of the world.  A Fledermaus is a fluttering mouse, a bat.

But one of the better compound words is “Schadenfreude,”  “Schaden” is misfortune or damage, “Freude” is joy or glee.  It  is that feeling when you experience happiness at other’s misfortune, not exactly an uplifting or noble sentiment, except sometimes when you follow it with “I told you so!”

It was Richard Wagner who gave us the “Gesamt-Kunst-Werk.”  The word and concept that a musical composition in order to be complete must satisfy all the human senses (“a total work of art”). The sound has to be heroic and melodic, but the orchestra being on stage, as it used to be, is distracting.  It needs to be heard but not seen. The orchestra pit is his invention, which he incorporated at his Opera House in Bayreuth, and is now the standard.  Also, the house lights need to be turned off during the performance to focus on the action on the stage, something quite simple, but no one else had thought of before.  The drama has to be a literary work of emotional significance dealing with profound human challenges, and the stage scenery and costumes should be spectacular.  It is Wagner who added the horns to the Viking helmets, something he just made up.  The real Viking helmets never had horns.  It is now the symbol of German Opera. 

WATER

An old saying goes like this:  “Whiskey is for drinking, and water is something to fight over.”  In 1913 the Los Angeles Aqueduct started to divert the Owens River water to Los Angeles, and the Owens Valley that used to be called “The Switzerland of California” began to be transformed into a desert.  The man most responsible for this transition was William Mulholland.

In 1877 when Mulholland arrived, Los Angeles was all of 9000 inhabitants.  He was born in Belfast, Ireland, and ran away from home to join the British Merchant Navy at age 15.  He became a civil engineer, by mostly self-education, and worked for the LACWC (Los Angeles City Water Company, eventually to become the LADWP) of which he became superintendent.  Mulholland’s vision was to see a “megalopolis” in the desert climate of the Los Angeles basin.  What prevented LA’s growth was lack of water!

His famous line was, “If you don’t get the water, you will not need it!” He tried to get water from the Colorado River but was denied.  He then looked to the Sierra Nevada, and realized that he could get all the water he needed, by gravity feed, from the Owens Valley.  He promised the farmers that he would only take the excess water they would not use anyway, and then built the Los Angeles Aqueduct, a 233-mile system to move water from the Owns Valley to San Fernando just north of Los Angeles.  He deceived the farmers and actually took all of the runoff from the Sierra Nevada!  The Owens Valley dried up. 

The farmers took up arms and explosives and fought back violently, which became known as the “California Water Wars.”  The aqueduct was blown up with dynamite in several locations, and people went to prison.  But Mulholland prevailed, and commented it was too bad that all the trees in the Owen’s Valley died because there were not enough trees left to hang all the malcontents that opposed his grand design!

With more water, Los Angeles grew.  By 1920 the population was 576,673.  Another large reservoir was needed to store the water.  Mulholland picked a narrow canyon north of Los Angeles. The San Francisquito Canyon was ideal as it narrowed at a spot that would not require a very large dam.  What was not known then was that there was an ancient landslide that was the likely cause of the narrowing and contained rock, called Pelona Schist, that was soft, at the eastern abutment of the dam. This did not serve as a strong enough foothold and later would have devastating consequences. 

It took two years to build, and the  St. Francis Dam started taking water on March 12, 1926.  It took nearly two years to fill.  Almost immediately, cracks and leaks were noted.  On the morning of March 12, 1928, Tony Harnischfeger, the dam keeper, telephoned Mulholland that he noted a larger leak on the west abutment of the dam that was discharging dirty water.  This would indicate that the leak was eroding foundation cement.  Mulholland came out himself to inspect the dam by 10:30 AM.  For two hours he walked around and by 12:30 PM declared the dam was safe. Two minutes before midnight a brief flickering of the lights in Los Angeles marked the dam’s failure in a dramatic collapse of the right and left parts of the dam, leaving the center stand, later called the “tombstone” by the steady stream of spectators that came to see what was left of the dam.  A 10,000-ton piece of the dam was found a mile downstream,   and 12.4 billion gallons of water surged down the San Francisquito Canyon and then through the Santa Clara Valley on its 54-mile path to the Pacific Ocean that started as a 135-foot high water wall. The communities of Castaic, Piru, Fillmore, and Santa Paula were devastated. It barely took 70 minutes to empty the reservoir.  

Harnischfeger, who had misgivings for some time, had built a set of stairs to higher ground to give him and his six-year-old son an escape route should the dam break, which he never got to use.  He, along with his son, were the first victims.  Their bodies were never found.  Fourteen months after the tragedy, the dam claimed its last life.  An eighteen-year-old man climbed the remaining central monolith, by now, called the “tombstone” and fell to his death.  After that, the City of Los Angeles decided to demolish the remaining pieces to prevent any more accidents. Only the 1906 San Francisco earthquake caused more destruction and deaths in California.  The dam disaster cost at least 431 lives, bodies having been found as late as 1994! 1200 houses and 10 bridges were washed away.  An unknown toll of animals drowned.

We are always fascinated by the worst, the best, the first, etc. This was “the worst disaster” ever that was due to the failure of a human-built structure.  There is a sculpture near the Santa Paula train station memorializing the heroism of two motorcycle police officers, Stanley Baker and Thornton Edward, that at the risk of their own lives, rode ahead of the wall of water to wake people up and warn them to get to higher ground, saving hundreds of lives.

Mulholland took full responsibility for the dam’s failure.  His statement to the board of inquiry was telling, “The only ones that I envy about this whole thing are the ones that are dead!” He resigned as Supervisor of the LACWC in November 1928, and lived in relative seclusion, devastated by the disaster. He died in 1935. 

 The financial cost of the St. Francis Dam collapse was estimated at 13.5 million dollars ($196,281,000 in today’s money).  The coroner’s inquest declined to prosecute Mulholland criminally, but blamed him for poor construction.  His home was in Acton about 35 miles from the dam.  It was entirely constructed with massive amounts of concrete that, some say, was diverted from the dam. 

To demonstrate the difference between then and now, all the claims were settled out of court and not one lawsuit was filed.  Los Angeles became the second-largest city in the US by population (4,000,000), but the largest by square area (502.7 square miles). 

I owe a debt of thanks to John Nichols’ book,  St. Francis Dam Disaster, that served as a source for this essay.

Medicare For All

Medicare for All (MFA), a proposal for a single-payer system for universal health care without any premiums, along with no deductibles or co-pays, has been introduced by Bernie Sanders as well as Elizabeth Warren, two of the Democratic front runners for the 2020 presidential election.  The program would be fully funded through taxation of the citizens of the USA, as well as newly arrived (legal) immigrants who would also be eligible for coverage.  This would finally bring about the long fought for “single-payer system” that has been proposed by every left of center political organization from the Clintons on.  Hillary Care did not succeed because it was too much too fast and a very effective PR campaign, “Harry and Luise” that emphasized government control over all of health care. Obama Care (the ACA of 2010), although an attempt to cover more of the population, is a significantly watered-down version that still does not cover everyone and is funded by premiums paid by the enrollees, nowhere near what MFA (over) promises. 

What would such a system cost? And what would such a system look like? 

Taking cost first, let’s look at the Urban Institute, an organization founded by Lyndon B. Johnson, to be a “non-partisan” independent economic think tank that studies the economic problems of our society.  Their take on the cost of a single-payer system puts the increase in spending of MFA to between 32 and 40 trillion dollars over ten years, depending on if it included long term care.   The Federal government now spends 1.1 trillion a year for health care (22% of the total budget). So, over 10 years that comes to 11 trillion, now add another 39 trillion (my rounding the numbers) making it a grand total of 50 trillion (50,000,000,000,000).  If you stacked up $100 bills it would be a stack that would be 31,550 miles high, or nearly one and a quarter times around the circumference of our earth.  The US budget spends almost 5 trillion dollars a year. If nothing changed, the new health care spending would consume nearly all the budget just for health care of all the population,  nothing for debt reduction, military, social security, education, housing and urban development, infrastructure, etc.  From where would that money come?  The proponents of MFA claim that it would not be as much as the Urban Institute claims as through the economy of scale, comprehensive payment reform (translated into English- cutting reimbursement and services), bundled payments (which has not worked under ACA) and bargaining power from being a monopoly, which forces hospitals and providers to accept the only game in town payments, the cost would come down.  Of course, the filthy rich would be called upon to pay “their fair share” of taxes. The corporate tax rate would have to go back up to 35%, along with the marginal tax rate, as in England and the Scandinavian countries.  Sweden, for example, has a marginal tax rate of 70% for any income over $98,000, and an even higher rate for the millionaires.  This tends to discourage an income above that amount and encourages moving to countries that don’t soak the rich quite as much. Elizabeth has promised a new annual tax on future (unrealized) capital gains for assets you have not sold yet. The death taxes have crept up to $11,000,000 which are due to sunset in 2025, back to pre-2018 levels, another way to thwart small businesses and farms to pass on their assets to their offspring. We are better off having large impersonal corporations and mega-farms anyway!  They are much more empathetic to the working people, and if the evil corporations get fed up with the taxes they move to Ireland, Mexico, or some other places that want to attract companies that provide jobs for their citizens.

There is always the Weimar Republic’s answer to money problems, PRINT MORE OF IT!!  After World War I, Woodrow Wilson, Georges Clemenceau of France, David Lloyd George of the United Kingdom, and Victor Emanuele Orlando of Italy cleverly crafted the Versailles Treaty that decimated Germany and Austro-Hungary economically, which ultimately was responsible for the rise of Adolf Hitler according to many historians.  The French and English even sent in troops when Germany fell behind in the war reparations to force payment.  Hindenburg, the then German chancellor, ordered the printing of more money to pay off those debts.  I remember, as a child, those banknotes were still around even after World War II, used as play money by us children.  The banknotes were pretty and fun to play with, because it looked like real money because it used to be real money.  People used that money to wallpaper their houses and the price of a loaf of bread was 50 million marks.  Money became worthless.  People did not want to work for worthless paper, and didn’t accept it for goods, services, or food.  Printing more money, in the long run, does not pay off; additionally, you need a wheelbarrow to go shopping to replace your wallet. 

What about the structure of the new single-payer system as far as the impact on the consumer and providers of health care?  Hospitals run on a very tight budget because the profit margin is squeezed from all sides.  The average profit margin has reached 1.7% in 2018.  The payors are angling to pay hospitals less.  The workforce, nurses, physicians, respiratory therapists, etc. want a better salary. Vendors are looking to make a profit, and surgical equipment, CT scanners, even hospital beds are constantly costing more to buy.  The basic hospital bed now costs $50,000, more than most cars.  How the government is going to squeeze any more blood out of the proverbial turnip (hospitals) is still held a closely guarded secret by  Bernie and Elizabeth.

Physicians are also a target.  20% of health care costs go to physicians. Practice costs are on average half the physician’s gross income, and steadily growing with employees’ salaries, malpractice, rent, equipment, etc. all continually increasing. This does not even consider paying off student loans which are higher in the US, as schools are not tuition-free as in many European countries. The average medical school debt was $196,520 in 2018 according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. This is because the training period has grown to multiple years now: pre-med college is 4 years, medical school is 4 years, an internship has grown to 2 years in some states, and residency 3 to 6 years, and a fellowship 1 to 3 years. The individual cannot start paying their loan off sometimes for a decade, as the interest keeps accumulating at compound interest rates. Half of one’s earning life can be taken up by training.  A bright individual who can get into medical school will think twice before embarking on a long educational road with now increasingly questionable financial benefit.  He or she can do better, not only financially, but in lifestyle as well in other lesser demanding occupations that allow starting a family sooner, earning a living wage right away, no night call, and no constant legal, and governmental scrutiny.

The single-payer system would alter our economy.  Health care is currently one-fifth of our economy.  That would grow significantly.  If nothing changed in terms of taxes and spending, it would become 100% of the economy!  Obviously, that could not happen, but the economy would shift dramatically with health care occupying a larger slice of the pie and the increased taxes that would be necessary to cover the cost of all the non-discretionary spending the government is obligated to pay to keep the doors open.  Of course, military spending would be a logical place to “borrow” some of those funds that are spent in purchasing $500 hammers and such.  I am sure that ISIS, Boko Haram, and other terrorist organizations with less to fear from a weaker US force would take the opportunity and cut back their budgets accordingly; don’t you think!

Now, what about the consumers. Would there also be a shift in the quality of care? With less money going to hospitals and doctors on the horizon, the dictum of “You get what you pay for!” looms dangerously in the background. Other countries that have government-sponsored health care can be used as examples of what that could mean in terms of what is or is not covered, what you may or may not get for treatment of rare or not so rare diseases, and what surgical procedures are approved. Total joint prosthesis and artificial heart valves last way too long anyway.  It would be more economical to use the less expensive ones and just replace them if the individual lasts long enough to wear them out. There is a reason why every country in the world that has government-run health care uses rationing to control costs, as directly quoted from the Wall Street Journal Nov.3, 2019.  How expensive drugs would be paid for, and how long before you get your procedure, appointment, or test approved would you wait?  A friend of mine living in Canada developed headaches and wanted a brain CT scan.  He was put on the waiting list for a year.  He complained that if he had a brain tumor it would be too late in a year.  He was informed that in that case, he wouldn’t be needing the scan after all, and it would be canceled.  In England, for example, dialysis for kidney failure is not approved for the old.  And who are the old?  Anyone over 50 years of age.  It does remind you of the “Death Panels” that got Sarah Palin into such hot water.  Be careful what you wish for; you might just get it!  

The Naked Ape

They say that only one-third of Americans believe in Evolution, and two-thirds believe in Creationism, just the reverse of Europeans. So if you do not want to burn in hell, stop reading right now because you risk damnation.

Why do I believe in Evolution, and gamble on spending the rest of eternity surrounded by fire and brimstone?   I can’t ignore what I see that is so obviously obvious.  If you don’t see the resemblance, you must be blind-sighted or seriously brain laundered. But I will nevertheless forgive you.  There are plenty of very smart people that missed it too.  Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace stumbled upon Evolution just a bit over a hundred years ago, almost simultaneously.

What about Aristotle 2400 years ago? He founded logical thinking and was an observer of plants and animals.  He even classified 500 species of animals and arranged them in order, suggestive of evolution with man at the top.  Very close, but not the whole enchilada. He is considered to be one of the smarter humans that ever walked on earth, but he did not come up with the rather obvious resemblance of monkey to man.  

Archimedes, a math whiz with lots of bright ideas, whose comprehension was on an intellectual plane much more sophisticated than what Darwin had.  Aristarchus of Samos who figured out the sun was just another star that was the center of our solar system long before Copernicus and Galileo did. Eratosthenes, the chief librarian at the Library of Alexandria, calculated the circumference of the earth accurately, as well as the distance of the earth to the sun. Hero of Alexandria, who invented the steam engine, and  Hipparchus of Nicea who invented trigonometry, additionally the first analog computer, the Antikythera mechanism, and the Astrolabe that determined at what longitude a ship was located without which navigation would have been impossible. 

Some of us look more like them, or they like us, and others less, but in all of us, there is an unmistakable resemblance that we are at least cousins.

Then there was Isaac Newton, the author of Principia Mathematica, which set the foundation for physics for hundreds of years. Principia had decidedly more ingenious ideas than Darwin ever had.  Did I mention that Newton also invented calculus? Did those folks not look, did they not see that we very much resemble apes, and especially when looking at baby chimps or gorillas.  Galen, the Roman surgeon, had no excuses. He dissected monkeys to learn anatomy because he knew they had the same design as humans, since Lex Romana did not allow human dissection.  

A little more subtle are all the organs we share that have an almost identical appearance and function in us and the apes. But there are organs we share that are still present in us, but have lost their ability to function in us but not in them.  The hair follicles have tiny muscles attached to the follicle that can raise the hair (Arrector pili).  In us, it is just the goose-bump with one small hair sticking out on top of the bump, but we all have them.  It used to serve the function to puff us up and give us a more substantial, scarier appearance and to give us a layer of protection with the raised hair trapping air all around us to keep us warmer in the cold season.  So what would be the Creationist’s explanation of goosebumps? Or did the Creator get confused in what must have been a horrendously busy week of Creation, and give us some of the monkey skin as well? 


There are several other vestigial organs that still reside in our bodies that have no function in us, but we still have not evolved out of those organs.   The appendix may have some purpose in our immune system, especially in our embryonic stages, but in several species, such as rodents, the appendix serves to digest cellulose. We have lost that ability as cellulose is not a food for us, so the appendix serves primarily to give surgeons a means to make a living.  

The ear is a curious remnant of our distant past.  It serves to orient itself to the source of sound as to better catch the sound waves, especially if there is danger lurking nearby such as the stealthy tracks of a leopard or the slithering of a snake in the grass.  Unfortunately for most of us, the muscles that redirect the ear have atrophied to such an extent that they can’t move the ear anymore, except in a few very talented humans that can still wiggle their ears with the special muscles that still function in those lucky individuals.

The Mammary Ridge

Have you ever wondered why males have nipples? Well, both males and females develop them because we are mammals. All mammals feed their young with breast milk. Some women have more than two nipples along the mammary ridge, just like dogs and cats. These can also have accessory breast tissue along with the nipples. In my previous life as a surgeon, I was called upon more than once to remove those accessory breasts. Why do we have them? They are vestigial leftovers from our past. That is another tough one for Creationists to explain.

The palmaris longus muscle exists in the forearm of 90% of humans. The other 10% have lost that muscle along the evolutionary path.  Its function was to grip onto a branch for swinging from tree to tree, something we don’t have to do anymore.  The levator claviculae muscle is present in only 3% of humans.  Leonardo DaVinci’s drawings of the neck anatomy show it. The levator claviculae is present, however, in all apes.  Does that mean anything? Or is it just there to confuse us?

Not only can we have numerous breasts, but we also have a vestigial tail.  Most of us just have two or three extra vertebrae at the end of our sacrum, but the record holder had a tail that was nine inches long. Cool! Especially if you were naked wandering around the Garden of Eden to keep the flies off the anus.  Well, do you have a better explanation?

Every infant has a reflex called the “palmar grasp reflex.”  If you put something into an infant’s hand he/she will grasp on to it and not let go.  This happens in both the upper and lower extremities.  When the mother had to get out of a dangerous situation, she could not hold onto the baby.  The infant was on his own and grasped onto the mother’s hair.  That left the mother’s hands and feet free to get away from the danger.  We don’t have enough hair to grasp onto, but luckily our mothers don’t have to make a run for it like our ancestors did, but we nevertheless hold onto that grasping reflex.   

When we were still living in and swinging from trees, our diet had more fibrous plant content that needed to be ground up.  For that, we had three molar teeth in the back of the upper and lower jaw on each side.  As our diet shifted to more high-grade protein, we needed tearing and cutting teeth, the canines and incisors.  Now the third molars often need to be removed by your friendly neighborhood dentist because the third molars get impacted and are very prone to tooth decay. 

Not only do we have vestigial organs, but there are even vestigial genes in our DNA.   Most animals, but not humans, can make their own Vitamin C, the lack of which, in us, is lethal, as the sailors crossing the Atlantic at the time of Columbus found out.  There is a gene that makes the enzyme L-Gulonalactone Oxidase.  In us, this gene necessary to make Vitamin C, although present, just as the muscles that move the ear, was disabled by a previous mutation.  We have to depend on exogenous Vitamin C from citrus or other vegetables such as fermented cabbage (sauerkraut). The British Navy used to serve sauerkraut at least once a day on shipboard but later made every sailor eat a lime instead every day to prevent scurvy. Hence they (and by association all British people) are called “Limeys.”  The name “Krauts” is reserved for another nationality.

All the  vestigial organs within us that have no function:  the arm muscles that no longer are able to help us hold on to branches, and are missing in one of ten humans, the ear muscles that are no longer able to turn our ears to the source of sound, the molar teeth that no longer can grind plant fibers into food because they are overgrown with gingival tissue, the appendix that cannot digest cellulose, the goosebumps that have no useful function, the extra breasts in females that are there to feed the litter that never comes, the reflexes that are not needed for the infant to hold onto their mother, tail bones that are not long enough anymore to serve any function, and the genes that cannot manufacture Vitamin C are either mistakes, but I prefer  “evolution in progress” as the explanation.  Which will it be? Could the Creator really have made that many errors?

 The final icing on the cake is that we share 98.8% of our DNA with Chimpanzee DNA.  Does that happen by coincidence? Or could that be the ‘missing link” we have all been searching for, that gives us the evidence that we are indeed related!

ALFRED NOBEL (1833-1896)

I recently came upon an article by Dr. Don Nakayama, historian of the American College of Surgeons, that reminded me of Alfred Nobel’s clever ploy. 

Alfred Nobel is one of those iconic humans whose legacy is associated with the most significant achievements of our recent history.  His story is interesting because his main achievement is that of creating dynamite, a substance that killed and maimed thousands, if not more, humans through wars and accidents. Although Alfred Nobel was agnostic and later in his life an atheist, he worried about how he would be remembered by humanity. Alfred cleverly diverted the attention away from his homicidal reputation to one that associates the name “Nobel” with significant human accomplishments.  He bought a better legacy for himself.  It only cost him three BILLION dollars!

Alfred was a Swedish chemist who had a fascination with nitroglycerine,  which is an oil that was invented by an Italian, Ascani Sobrero.  Alfred and his family started a business in making this substance they called “blasting oil.” He had factories on both sides of the Atlantic.  Alfred, while experimenting with this dangerous oil, managed to blow up several houses, including one that had his younger brother Emil in it along with four other people.  After that the city of Stockholm no longer allowed him to experiment within the city limits.  He took his lab to a barge on a lake outside the city.  Nobel tried a variety of substances to mix with the nitroglycerine to make it more stable, and finally settled on diatomaceous earth that not only made it stable but allowed it to be molded into rods to which he attached a blasting cap to trigger it.  He invented dynamite! But he continued to create many other things, including synthetic rubber, leather, and silk.   By the time of his death, he had 355 patents to his name. 

In 1888 another of his brothers, Ludwig, died in Cannes, France, of natural causes. Alfred happened to read the French obituary that reported on the death of Ludwig, but they got the names wrong, and instead of Ludwig the newspaper reported that it was Alfred that had died, and wrote: “Le marchand de mort est mort” (the merchant of death is dead). They went on to say, “Dr. Alfred Nobel who became rich by finding ways to kill more people faster than ever before, died yesterday.” His portrayal as a murderer deeply wounded Alfred.  He made it the rest of his life’s task to change this, which he perceived to be, an unjust view of him. To add insult to injury, the French government convicted Alfred of high treason for selling explosives to Italy, and he had to move from Paris to Sanremo, Italy, in 1891.  By the time of his death in 1896, his amassed fortune was more than three billion (with a “B”) dollars.  He had never married and had no children, so he crafted a will that took 94% of his total worth and created the Nobel Foundation, which gave awards to the most deserving people in the fields of chemistry, physics, medicine and physiology, literature, economics, and peace.  Each person received approximately $1,000,000 along with the coveted 24-carat gold medal (which now is 18 carats with 24-carat gold plating). 

My interests in the Nobel prize involve the things that dealt with the sciences and especially as they affected my profession of medicine and surgery.   Every year in early October, the overlords of the Swedish Academy of Sciences, with input from the Karolinska Institute for physiology and medicine, announce the winners for that year’s Nobel Laureates. Many noteworthy prizes are milestones of human accomplishments. Those stories are interesting to me and are worthy of comment, because some have changed our lives while others are just curious, historical, or heroic. As is so often true, “Truth is stranger than fiction!”

On November 8, 1895, Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen exposed his wife’s left hand on a photographic plate, to a tube with very low pressure, through which he passed an electric current.  On the picture he produced, he could see the bones of her hand.  The first X-Ray was taken.  X-Rays revolutionized diagnosis and as a consequence, treatment of human disease processes.  In 1901 he received the Nobel Prize in Medicine for this discovery.

In 1903 Madam Curie was the first woman ever to receive the Nobel Prize, which she won for physics.  She was a Polish native sent by her government to study in Paris.  She and her husband, Pierre, came up with two new elements, Polonium and radium.  Polonium named for her native country. Unfortunately, he was no longer living, run over by a horse carriage on the Rue Dauphine during a heavy rain in Paris.  She won again in 1911 for chemistry.  These prizes came with a substantial sum of money.  Poland supported her through grants to pursue her studies in Paris.  She gave that all back and wound up giving most of the rest of it to found the Curie Institute in honor of her late husband for the research on radioactive materials, the words she actually coined. Albert Einstein said of her that she was the only human he knew that was not corrupted by money, fame, or glory. Ultimately, she gave it all, including her life, as the radioactivity destroyed her bone marrow without which she could not survive.  It was Madame Curie that originated the idea that radiation could kill bacteria to sterilize surgical instruments and cancer cells in humans.  During World War I she founded a brigade of trucks outfitted with X-ray machines that drove into the battlefield, risking her own life to pick up wounded soldiers.  Before bringing them to the surgeons, she would X-ray their wounds to see where the shrapnel was to make it easier for the surgeon to find.  Few people are more worthy of a Nobel Prize than she. 

Robert Koch, a surgeon during the Franco-Prussian War and a staunch ally of Louis Pasteur, fought for the acceptance of the germ theory of disease.  His four postulates of disease causation remain the standard to judge whether or not a particular agent is causative.

  1. The bacteria must be present in every case of the disease.
  2. The bacteria must be isolated from the host with the disease and grown in culture.
  3. The disease must be reproduced when the bacteria is inoculated into a susceptible host.
  4. The bacteria must be recovered from the infected host.

Robert Koch identified the causes of anthrax, cholera, and tuberculosis.  He developed the skin test for tuberculosis, the PPD that is still used.  He refused to patent it as he did not want to have financial reasons to hamper its use to save lives or prevent progress against the disease.  It was for his work in diagnosing and treating anthrax and tuberculosis that garnered him the Nobel Prize in 1905.

Theodor Emil Kocher was one of the early greats!  He came from a race of giants, Billroth, Virchow, Lister, and Langenbeck were his teachers. He, in turn, mentored, Harvey Cushing, William Halsted, and Fritz de Quervain.  He did over 5000 thyroidectomies and learned how to do them right.  From a mortality risk of 75%, he reduced it down to 0.5%.  The Russian ideologue, and eventual leader, Vladimir Lenin entrusted his wife to Kocher when she needed a thyroidectomy.  Kocher earned his Nobel Prize in 1909.

Robert Bárány was an Austro-Hungarian physician who served as a surgeon in World War I.  He discovered the physiology of the vestibular system of the inner ear while he was trying to treat symptoms of vertigo and nystagmus by intermittent injecting warm or cold water into the ear canal of the patient.  By circumstance, he had been turned down by Sigmund Freud for postgraduate training as Freud thought he was odd.  Despite this when Barany was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1914 but did not receive it until 1916 as he was a prisoner of war.  He immediately exercised his right as a laureate to nominate others for the Nobel awards.  Who would you think he chose?  None other than Sigmund Freud!

In the field of physics, one of the greater lapses of the Nobel Committee occurred.  In 1905, a minor functionary at the Bern office of patents in Switzerland, named Albert Einstein, worked in sorting and registering new inventions.  During his day job, he had time to work on his hobby, nuclear physics. He wrote two monumental papers that revolutionized physics, going back to Isaac Newton 200 years before, the Special Theory of Relativity and the General Theory of Relativity.  Special Relativity relates time and space as a single entity he called spacetime.  The faster you travel, the slower time passes.  Also, the closer you are to a large mass (i.e. gravitational force), the slower time passes.  The Special Theory further explains that mass and energy are interconvertible with the now-iconic formula E=mc2.  Ten years later the General Theory of Relativity explained gravity as the distortion of spacetime.

 In August of 1939, a letter drafted by Einstein and other physicists delivered to President Franklin Delano Rosevelt personally by Einstein, detailed the concern that Germany was developing a nuclear weapon.  This led FDR to approve the Manhattan project that evolved to the actualization of the theoretical E=mc2 formula resulting in the vaporizing of two Japanese cities, Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  This left only dust, ashes, and human agony as evidence that mass can be converted to pure energy, but did end World War II.  The theory for this was all laid out by Einstein by 1915, but the Nobel Committee chose to ignore it because one of the jurors deferred his support for several consecutive nominations of Einstein.  His reasoning was that he doubted Relativity would stand the test of time – so much for the wisdom of the committee.  Instead, they threw the man who gave us the nuclear age, a bone, by giving him the Nobel Prize in 1922 for the photoelectric effect, a comparatively minor discovery Einstein made that electrons are released by exposing metals to specific wavelengths of light.  The prize money was, however instrumental in Einstein being able to purchase a divorce from his first wife.  Einstein did nevertheless keep the gold medal. 

Speaking of medals, a curious story involved the medals of two laureates, Max von Laue (physics 1914), and James Franck (physics, 1925)).  Both medals were housed at the Neils Bohr Institute in Copenhagen.   When the German occupation posed a risk to the medals because both physicists were notoriously anti-Nazi, they were dissolved in acid and hidden from the Nazis.  After the war, it was simple chemical precipitation to recover the gold and re-mint the medals. Another brush with National Socialism came with laureate Gerhard Domagk, who was not allowed, on the personal order from Adolph Hitler, to attend the 1939 Nobel Prize ceremony for his contribution to the discovery of Sulfa drugs, the first antibiotics.  But Domagk did eventually get his award after Hitler bit the cyanide pill in his bunker in Berlin. 

Frederick Banting was educated as an orthopedic surgeon but practiced general medicine in rural Canada.  Because his practice was not very successful, he turned to academia at the University of Toronto.  He and a medical student, Charles Best, did experiments in isolating a pancreatic hormone, the lack of which they thought was the cause of diabetes.  They extracted this from specialized pancreatic cells found in the islets of Langerhans.  The department head J.J.R. Macleod provided the lab facility as well as Banting’s assistant, Best. Because of this, Macleod, not Best, got to share the 1923 Nobel Prize for medicine in the discovery of insulin.

Alexander Fleming was a Scottish physician and microbiologist, although he did serve as a captain in the Royal Army Medical Corps and did duty in field hospitals filled with injured soldiers that required a surgeon’s skills.  His talents, however, were along the lines of bacteriology.  In his own words, “One sometimes finds what one is not looking for… but I suppose that is exactly what I did.” Fleming noted that one of the bacterial plates he was studying had killed the bacteria through accidental mold contamination by Penicillium notatum. He was knighted for this achievement, the discovery of Penicillin, and received the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1945. 

Charles Huggins was a Canadian-American surgeon who noted that prostate cancer could be controlled by castration and estrogen hormone administration.  In 1966 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine.

Few surgeons garnered the Nobel Prize, but one Antonio Caetano de Abreu Freire Egas Moniz shared the 1949 prize with Walter Rudolf Hess.  Antonio devised an operation that is now abandoned in the historic wastebasket of discredited operations,  the frontal lobotomy.  When I was in high school, my father, who was a physician in a mega psychiatric institution of 7000 patients in central Illinois in the 50s, would take me to operations.  One of the very memorable ones was watching a neurosurgeon do a frontal lobotomy.  The extraordinarily violent patient was brought in leather restraints into the operating room, and strapped to the operating table.  Once the anesthetic was administered his restraints were taken off.  The surgeon drilled two holes in the front of the skull just behind the now clean-shaven hairline.  With a long electric cutting knife (Bovie) he made sweeping motions through both sides of the brain, disconnecting the front of the cortex from the rest of the brain.  The patient was awoken.

An amazing transformation had taken place.  He was a vegetable, didn’t talk, and made no intentional movement, but he would get up and walk when prompted.  One of the best Hollywood movies I have ever seen was “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” directed by Miloš Forman with Jack Nicholson in the lead role. It portrays realistically and graphically what frontal lobotomy is all about. It won all five major academy awards: best picture, best actor, best actress, best director, and best screenplay.  It is considered by many to be one of the best films ever made.  I sincerely believe it is a major factor that frontal lobotomy was abandoned, also calling the Nobel Committee’s decision to give Antonio a gold medal into question.

Other surgeons whose medals remain un-besmirched are: Alexis Carrel (1912) for inventing vascular surgery after being witness to the assassination of French President Marie François Said Carnot in the streets of Paris, who died of a laceration of the portal vein for which the surgeons of the time didn’t have the means or knowledge to repair. Werner Forssman and André Cournand for cardiac catheterization (1956) and Joseph Murray (1990) for the first kidney transplantation, who all need to be included.  

It is surprising how many great surgeons have been left out:  Alfred Blalock for his shunt that has saved thousands of infants’ lives, and C. Walton Lillehei, aptly named by his residents, the King of Hearts, for his work on correcting congenital heart disease. Also what about Michael DeBakey, who gave us coronary bypass, carotid endarterectomy, and ascending aortic dissecting aneurysm repair, not to mention his contributions to the Mobile Surgical Army Hospital (with the successful TV and movie versions of the MASH Unit). Furthermore, the first heart transplant was done by Christiaan Barnard, and Thomas Starzl did the first liver transplant. 

Often at the end of a challenging operation, while teaching young surgeons to operate, there is a less tense moment while placing the last few sutures in the skin when the surgeon in training can be quizzed on surgical trivia. I liked Dr. Nakayama’s suggestion of asking them who all the surgeons are that had received the Nobel Prize.  It is not a long list and, by rights, ought to be much longer. The Nobel Committee has its work cut out for them.  So many more years, and so many deserving surgeons.

#westandontheshouldersofgiants

 

The Green New Deal

Our teachers of history have seriously duped us.  How did I deduce this?  There is good evidence that there were several times in history when the earth was much warmer. Actually, it was much warmer than it is now during our own global warming crisis, which will destroy our way of life as we know it!  Two periods, first the Roman Climatic Optimum from 250 BC to 400 AD caused the retraction of Alpine glaciers that allowed Hannibal to cross the Alps with elephants. Furthermore,  Tacitus noted that it was so hot in Greece that none of the date trees could set fruit, which is also the case now during our current global temperature anomaly.  This is seen as strong evidence that the temperatures now and then were similar. Do you suppose that the Romans had gas-guzzling SUV’s just like us, or was it motorized chariots? Something our historians must have missed.

Second, there was the Medieval Climate Anomaly (MCA)  from 950 to 1250 AD, where the ocean temperatures exceeded today’s devastating sea temperatures that are melting the ice caps giving rise to sea levels that will soon inundate New York and San Francisco.  It allowed the Vikings to settle in Greenland, which actually was GREEN at that time, unlike now when it is completely covered by ice. Proof positive that it was hotter then. The Vikings actually landed on the North American continent way before Cristóbal Colón.  One more black mark against our history teachers. The north and south polar ice caps on our planet have occupied their places for only 20% of the existence of the earth, but 80% of the time the poles were totally ice-free, covered with megafauna and flora, as evidenced by geologic finds under the frozen arctic tundra of skeletal remains of rather large polar bears that surprisingly survived the ice cap’s melting, mammoths, sabre tooth tigers, and of course the legendary vast oil deposits that had to come from somewhere.

 AOC (Alexandra Ocasio Cortez), the former Bronx bartender and now the youngest member of Congress, but wise beyond her years, has introduced legislation to save us from ourselves, the “Green New Deal.”  She has concluded that we must radically change our wicked ways with fossil fuels to dramatically reverse the rapidly rising CO2 levels that will cause algae to bloom, reduce the oxygen in water, kill the fish and coral in the ocean. Furthermore, all the tropical diseases will migrate from the equatorial regions to infect us with malaria, elephantiasis, allow the Tsetse fly to move north and spread sleeping sickness, and a variety of other parasitic diseases that will significantly reduce our numbers. 

What must we do to survive? We must “de-carbonize” our environment by adopting the “Green New Deal.”

  1. 100% of our energy needs must come from renewable nonpolluting sources such as solar, wind, water, but heaven forbid not nuclear power. After all, the combined worldwide nuclear accidents have killed 42 people to date in the last 50 years.
  2. We must eliminate the use of fossil fuels for transportation, agriculture, construction, energy generation, and defense,  by 2030.
  3. We must eliminate the sources of greenhouse gases, CO2, and methane. This translates into making the internal combustion engine obsolete (most automobiles, airplanes – propeller-driven and jet, farm equipment, generators, Harley Davidsons, Vespas, golf carts, etc.). Mining and use of coal would be mothballed.   Eradicating livestock, especially farting cows who produce much of the methane is high on the list.  Faux beef would go a long way to reduce methane.
  4. Reforestation would provide a way for CO2 to be converted back into water, oxygen, and plant tissue that could be substituted for animal tissue for food.  An all-vegan diet for everyone would go a long way to rejuvenate the planet, not to mention the health benefits.
  5. The funding for this would come from taxing the overly rich and the evil corporations.  As it stands now, the top 50% pays 97% of taxes. The bottom 50% pays 3% of the collected taxes.  But if the marginal tax rate would go up to 70%, as AOC suggests, meaning that after some arbitrarily set amount, let’s say an income of $100,000 which ought to be plenty to live a good life, anything above that amount would be taxed at 70%. If that is not enough the Swedish or British tax model actually goes above 100% with incomes above $1,000,000. Then the leeches would finally pay 100% of the taxes as the left has always envisioned fairness. It is high time for these rich parasites to pay their equitable share.  Being forced to pay their fair share is why the Beetles moved away from England despite John Lennon’s lyrics:

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can

No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people sharing all the world
.” reminiscent of the lyrics written by that great song writing team, Marx and Engel.

Similarly, Gerard Depardieu left France because he was getting taxed at a 110% marginal tax rate.

Life would be simpler and healthier.  A meat-free diet would decrease cardiovascular diseases such as stroke and heart attack. More exercise by bicycling or walking instead of driving the SUV would reduce obesity. We would get more sleep as turning on electric lights after sunset would be a crime.  Going out to movies and stage shows that use up a lot of electricity would be a thing of the past, and people could get back to reading books by candlelight. Waterskiing would go the way of chariot racing unless you could get a super-strong crew team to pull you.   The jet-set would have to make do with a walk in the park rather than the circumnavigational jetliner vacation. Just like getting rid of guns would eliminate all the gun-related homicides, getting rid of tanks, bombers, rockets, and aircraft carriers would get rid of mass casualties of war.  Swords and the bow and arrow would be less lethal in conflict.

There are so many factors that affect the weather: El Niño, La Niña, Milankovitch cycles, volcanos, clouds, the sun being a pulsar star puts out variable energy, as represented by sunspots.  Other factors are distance from the sun, the jet stream, ocean currents, ocean temperatures, plate tectonics, planetary multi-decadal cycles of position in relation to earth, greenhouse gases (of which CO2 is the weakest, and water vapor is the strongest) and many more, all of which have variability that depends on a myriads of other factors impossible to predict.  What the weather will be tomorrow is a crapshoot, but knowing what the weather will be in 50 years is a certainty.  All the scientists agree! And science has never ever been wrong, just as Galileo was strongly advised to avoid being burned at the stake, and to accept the science of Aristotle and Ptolemy and forget heliocentrism.  It may already be too late unless we listen to the wisdom and warnings of AOC.

Explaining Trump and Why Impeachment is not Wise

2016 Presidential Election

Ever since the last election, Democrats have tried to find a reason to “dump Trump.”  The womanizing scandal, the Putin affair, the Mueller debacle, and now the Ukrainian intrigue. This is all in the face of a President who does not follow the rules: he tweets, he swears and is crude, he goes through aides like a mother changes diapers.  But America does not quite understand the Democratic game plan the way the Democratic leadership sees it now as the prior position of Nancy Pelosi demonstrated.  The people of the heartland are “Trumpists” through and through.  It is the left coast and the northeast coast, along with Illinois and Minnesota, that was anti-Trump in the last election, as you can see on the map. The heartland does not see why going after a politician and his son, who was getting $50,000 a month payment from Ukraine, are not fair game for corruption suspicion. Just that amount of money raises eyebrows. Even if that individual is a competitor, it does not exempt him from public scrutiny. Texans and other plain-spoken Americans do not think that being a political competitor is sufficient reason to ignore potential corruption.  Investigating potential crime does not equate to bringing charges of corruption, which if proven true, would make a difference to the stature, perception, and power of the United States of America, something not to be ignored! Pressuring foreign powers into US politics is another issue entirely, not without prior precedent by both Democrats and Republicans. However, does it reach the level of jeopardizing this country’s economy, with almost no chance of achieving a victory at trial?

Trump is perceived, rightly or wrongly, as a fighter for America and the common man, a champion for American goods, American labor, American intellectual property rights, and against countries that take advantage of the American business community, manipulate the global financial structure for their benefit, and want unfair financial aid and military dependence from the US to protect them.  This is something that other presidents, both Democrats, and Republicans, have ignored.  The unemployment rate is the lowest it has been at historic lows of 3.5% something for which the president is often given at least partial credit.  The African-American and Hispanic unemployment rates have superseded the lowest levels since records have been kept starting in 1972. 

If anything, the Democratic efforts for impeachment have been seen as harming the economy. The stock market, although up and down despite the China tariff threats, had reached record heights until the impeachment threat had deflated those heights, and is not supported by the majority of the country if we are to believe the polls.  

The Baby Boomers who are entering the golden years worry about their retirement nest egg.  Without question going through an impeachment trial would impact those retirement savings negatively.  This in the face of a Republican senate, the responsible body for prosecuting a president.  It is not likely the Republican senate would convict a Republican president if it came to trial.  It makes the entire impeachment effort appear to be a Quixotic show trial to influence the 2020 election, which may succeed but it also has an excellent chance of backfiring.  If the economy tanks because of insecurity related to uncertainty, the instigators of impeachment would get a large part of the blame, which would reflect negatively on the Democratic slate of candidates for president.

Trump would not be the first crude leader. America has had examples of crude leaders who have been excused precisely because of their perception of being fighters for the country.  General Ulysses S. Grant was a notorious drunk, and there were demands for his removal, yet Lincoln would not take him out of the command position in the Civil War.  Lincoln’s response to Grant’s detractors was “I want to know what brand of whiskey Grant consumes so that I can give a barrel of it to each of my generals!”    In 1869 Grant became the 18th president of the United States.  Similarly, General George Patten was a bad boy: rough, crude, eccentric, impolite, notoriously profane, and politically not correct. He made a point of being crude and always injected four-letter words into his speeches. He called it “elegant swearing”, but he won battles, including the decisive battle of World War II, the Battle of the Bulge. Near the end of the war, there was a strong movement to get him elected president against Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  Unfortunately, Patten died in a car accident, where there is good evidence that it was really an assassination perpetrated by the Russians who did not want him as president under any circumstance, as Patten was no friend of the Soviets. They apparently may have been messing with our elections for some time!

I hope that the more politically savvy segments of the leadership will resist pandering to the far left and recognize that they are playing with fire with explosive potential, and will steer the helm of the nation back into safer waters with less risk for the economy! And let the next election decide the merits.