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What Makes a Male and a Female

New Zealander, Laurel Hubbard

I was inspired to write about this subject by the first transgender competitor at the Olympic weight lifting event. At the time of conception, the sex of an individual is determined. Every cell in his or her body contains the code for maleness or femaleness. The X chromosome and the Y chromosome determine that.  The so-called sex hormones made by the testicles, adrenal glands, and ovaries, can be converted by the liver, with both sexes having the same hormones but in different proportions.

How the male hormone, testosterone, and the female hormone are made is a complex process that can be seen above.  But if you follow the red line it explains it a little simpler.  Basically, we eat cholesterol, such as eggs, or generate it, through a series of steps, testosterone is made, which is then converted to estrogen.  

Estrogen
Testosterone

You have to look carefully to tell them apart.

Testosterone has one double bond oxygen at its left border, while estrogen has an extra Hydrogen with the Oxygen. There is the difference, one Hydrogen atom!

But as the French say, “Long live the difference”!

X and Y Chromosome

It is one gene on the Y chromosome, the SRY gene, that changes the default development of the female anatomy into the male anatomy. We all have 23 pairs of chromosomes.  It is the XX configuration of one pair that makes the female and the XY configuration the male.  The X has 2000 genes, while the Y has only 100 genes.  What makes us male or female is not the amount of estrogen or testosterone we have (both male and female have both hormones but in different amounts). It is the XX or XY configuration in every one of our cells that make us who we are.

To think that we can make a female out of a male or vice versa is laughable.  We cannot change genetics.  Cutting off parts of the male and making a skin pouch in the perineum, suppressing testosterone, and feeding estrogen does not create a female.  It creates a male that no longer has a penis and has a skin pocket in their bottom.  Estrogen feeding will create larger breasts, just like smoking lots of Pot, but you still have a genetic male.  The genetic male will always be male at the cellular level, with the differences muted but not eliminated by a long shot.  That is why having transgender athletic competition is clearly unfair to the genetic female.  Women who have trained all their lives, given up aspects of their existence to become a better runner, swimmer, javelin thrower etc., will never attain the muscular strength of a male or a transgender who now identifies as female and trains as an athlete.  Genetic females cannot get a Y chromosome to save their soul, nor can males get that other X chromosome. We are not sophisticated enough to do that.

We have outwitted ourselves with the hubris of now believing our own incompetence.  We cannot, at least not yet, be able to change our genetic sex. The Olympic committee will eventually have to come to their senses.  The only fair way is to go by the genetic sex.  A separate category for transgender would also be fair, but not the way it is now having, a direct competition between genetic males and genetic females even if the males grow breasts.

If Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner would train, he/she would still likely defeat a genetic woman in the decathlon despite the age. We shall see what he/she does against Gavin Newsom, or is that mixing apples and oranges?

Life Lessons I Have Learned

Quote from Albert Einstein

As a little boy, my father took me on house calls.  He was a doctor in a small village in Austria.  In those days 70-80 years ago, doctors still made house calls.  I remember the exact moment when I decided that I, too, wanted to be a doctor.  I was around six years old.  My father had taken me to another house call—this time to an elderly woman who had severe headaches related to high blood pressure.  Not many effective treatments were available then.  One rather old treatment, that since then has been relegated to the dust bin of outmoded medical procedures, was removing some blood from the patient until the blood pressure went down. 

Bloodletting has been around for centuries dating back to ancient Egypt and Greece.  It is hardly ever used now except in some rare conditions where it still is the only thing that works. It is when the body manufactures too much blood, polycythemia rubra vera.  When I was a child I witnessed this procedure. I recall the patient’s face in anguish from pain, the white porcelain bowl to collect the blood, the tight rubber tourniquet around her arm, the insertion of a large-bore needle into the vein at the elbow, and the bell-like quality of the blood’s sound striking the porcelain.  I still remember the smell of the alcohol to cleanse the skin that, in my childhood understanding, was interpreted to be the smell of blood.  Mostly I recall her face becoming relaxed.   The furrow of the brow was less noticeable, and a subtle smile appeared, sort of like the smile of the Mona Lisa.  I knew then and there that I wanted to be a doctor and help people! It took twenty years, but that is what I did from then on.  Several lessons emanated from that event.  Keep your eye on the ball and do where it leads you to achieve your dreams.  Once you do what you love to do, you shall never have to work another day of your life!

I, too, wound up in a small town.  I always preferred being a large fish in a small pond rather than being a small fish in a large pond.  Santa Paula, California, provided this for me.  I became a Board-Certified General Surgeon! My skills ranged from removing deeply penetrating lemon tree thorns from lemon picker’s hands, to removing cancerous colons, breasts, thyroids, etc. that is what general surgeons do in a small town.  The town was located on a state highway Route 126, not much of a highway then, more like a two-lane country road.  As time went on, it became busier and busier with traffic, as it was the only connection between the Coast and the Central Valley without taking a detour through Los Angeles first.  The road was not built for that kind of traffic, too narrow, too many blind curves, too many unmarked side roads that had no stop signs, much less stoplights, too much farm traffic slowing things down for the impatient truckers that had things to do and places to go.  That road got the unofficial title of “Blood Alley” and with that honed my skills as a Trauma Surgeon.  For several years I was the only surgeon in town.

The growing trauma business created a lot of all-nighters for me.  One evening the Neurosurgeon in the next town had invited my wife and me out for dinner.  We had several dogs, and they all needed to be let out to pee before we left.  There was this little Chihuahua who was quite particular as to where she would leave her messages.  We were late, and I became impatient.  Finally, she found the right spot, and we were off.  Our house was off the aforementioned 126 State Highway.  As soon as we rounded our driveway onto 126, the car ahead of me seemed to explode and be thrown into the ditch next to the road.  The car’s lights went out, and I could smell gasoline.  I pulled over and ran to the car that was turned on its side.  I now understood the large bang and why the car left the road.  It was a head-on collision.  The other car had also left the road, and I did not notice any signs of life, which I confirmed quite quickly. Both the driver and the passenger were slumped over and were pulseless.   Now I looked into the other car.  The driver was alive but obviously in distress.  The passenger in the back was dead.  A girl in a bride’s dress in the front passenger side was wedged against the dashboard.  She could not breathe.  As much as I tried, I could not dislodge the seat to give her an airway, and she suffocated right in front of me.  The only live one left was the driver.  I could see that if he did not get to the hospital, he too would not make it.  There was no time to call an ambulance, and getting him out of the car with neck precautions was not possible.  I did what  I could, took him up to my hospital right into the operating room.  At surgery, I found that his liver had been completely torn off the Vena Cava, the main vein in the abdomen. I did a procedure that I had only read about but never done, bypassing the torn vein with a plastic tube from the heart to below the torn vein.   Unfortunately, there are more papers written about this procedure than survivors of it. So he, too, did not survive.  Tragically they were all going to their wedding rehearsal. The driver was the groom.  Had my Chihuahua found a spot to pee right away, that would have been my wife and me in that car. 

Again several life lessons: Life is fleeting, and you need to treat every day as if it is your last on this earth.  If some minor inconvenience interferes with your plans, do not fret, as this may prevent you from a much more serious consequence.  Whatever misfortune befalls you, accept it with grace, as you do not know what potentially worse scenario is waiting to strike you just around the corner.

That same road provided one other event which I will not forget any time soon.  Not far from my home was a blind curve.  An 18 wheeler decided he was going the wrong way.  Although the truck driver, being high in his cab, could see the oncoming traffic. The oncoming traffic did not see him.  He was halfway through his turn when five field workers came around the curve, and their car went right under the semi.  For reasons I cannot explain, the ambulance brought five heads up to the emergency room, and I was called,  a visual about which I still have nightmares.  That curve was now justifiably called “Dead Man’s Curve.”  So what to take away here: 1. Do not make U-turns in a curve even if you see the oncoming traffic.  2. Decapitation is not a surgical disease, but I already knew that from medical school.

My father stopped practicing medicine when he was 70 years old.  He wanted to stop earlier, but economics would not allow it.  When I was 70, I thought that I should do the same, and I did.  But an opportunity came along that I just could not pass up.  I had some experience teaching young doctors when I finished my surgery residency, and it was a rewarding experience, but it did not last long.  The County of Ventura that administered the County Hospital fired all-volunteer surgeons and replaced us with an all-new staff of surgeons that were dedicated to that one institution with no private practice. That ended my first teaching job. 

Just as I thought that I was going to retire, I was offered the job of Program Director of a brand new surgery residency.  To be Program Director and Professor of Surgery was a dream come true. For the next five years, I did what turned out to be the most rewarding time of my entire career.  The title “Doctor” comes from the Latin verb docēre “to teach.” The first doctorates were awarded at the Universities of Bologna and Paris in the 13th century.  It was a license to teach in theology, law, and medicine.   Later medicine became the standard for the common usage of Doctor (M.D., Doctor of Medicine). The others took on the title Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy), J.D. (Doctor of Jurisprudence), and D. D. (Doctor of Divinity).  I have always wanted to teach, and here was my opportunity.  For the next five years, I first founded a new surgical residency and built it from just one to a total of fifteen residents.  I got the program accredited with the ACGME (Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education).  Believe me, that was not an easy task, but one I am particularly proud of! Teaching is a task that allows the teacher to leave a bit of himself with his students, an opportunity to leave a legacy! 

Throughout my career in the health sciences, I have had several experiences when colleagues or even mentors reached an age where they started to show signs of “losing it.” One of the most horrifying of such events was when an elderly surgeon who failed to stop when he should have, became confused during a surgical procedure and had to be escorted away from the operating table.  When I took on my new job as a professor, I sought counsel from one of my former mentors and the Program Director of my surgery residency, who was already retired by then.  I asked him, “When should I quit?” I was hoping for a lucid and erudite answer.  Instead, he said, “You will know!” As it turned out, his answer was very erudite, and I did know.   The lesson I learned, “Listen to your good inner angel and your own body. They will tell you.” When your start having to look up answers to questions too often, which your students ask you, and when they are right more often. When you have trouble running up the stairs to cardiac arrest codes, when your Chief Resident calls you in the middle of the night to tell you the patient whom we had operated on that morning does not look all that good now, and you get heartburn, or is it chest pain? YOU KNOW!

We Are All Homo Sapiens! 2.0

BLM is a muddled concept, in a puzzling tribe, that puts into action another bewildering pseudo-intellectual notion, CRT.  Are there any lives that do not matter? Does using outdated Nietzschean philosophy (thinly veiled in CRT) fight racism? Someone should tell them that fighting fire with fire is, by in large, a failed metaphor that does not work most of the time; water usually works better! The actions of BLM have given the impression that Black Lives Matter believes that it has an entitlement that allows them special license to act out and not be held accountable for behavior to which the rest of us must conform. The justification for this is the presumed oppression the white supremacists have exerted for centuries. Is BLM superior to the rest of us? Are not all of us, at times, subject to discrimination for a variety of reasons? Jews, Catholics, Mormons, Asians, Mexicans, and many groups in the not too distant past have experienced it, like the Irish, the Italians, and more offensively the Krauts, the slant eyes, the Degos, the wetbacks, and I could go on forever with names and ethnic slurs that would stun you, some of which have been lobbed my way. And others, you would be surprised, never to have heard before. 

Individuals, too, have been singled out from English royalty to the homeless. Almost all of us are subject to discrimination of one kind or another. Most of us look at the source and suck it up. In past experiences, I have considered it below my dignity to respond. Responding seemed to me like giving them some legitimacy. Blacks are not the only group to feel that sting, and slavery is a bit too far away historically to dredge it up now. Besides, modern slavery needs to be addressed more urgently than ancient history. Hominids tend to separate themselves from other hominids based on their differences, appearance, belief systems, social status, wealth, religion, jobs, and a whole host of subtler divisions.  That is unlikely to ever change as long as there are differences, real or perceived.  Being white will not give me the standing to become the social equal of a Morgan Freeman, a black human, or a Bill Gates, a multi-billionaire human.  That too is discrimination, but it is not racism, and it is equitable because that is how it is among chimpanzee tribes, lion prides, Canadian geese, bees, and even humans. It is how nature is set up. It may not be fair and not right, but it is.  

Homo sapiens are hominids that migrated out of Africa some 200,000 years ago, and in that process, migrated north into Europe. In that sense, we are all African American, African Asian, and African Europen. We came into contact with the Hominids that preceded us in our migration, the Neanderthals, 40 to 80 thousand years ago, and inevitably crossbred with them. When exactly some of us lost the African pigment is not certain and NOT IMPORTANT, but the northern latitudes got less sun, and we needed more of those photons to convert 7-dehydro-cholesterol to pro-vitamin D3, which then isomerizes to active vitamin D3.  The pigment melanin absorbs light, preventing that step.  Those of us that make less melanin broke fewer bones, and Vitamin D3 makes our bones more fracture-resistant.  If a Neolithic man or woman broke a femur, they became sabertooth tiger food. According to Jane Goodal, civilization started when Homo was able to care for an individual that broke a femur.  It takes months for that bone to allow weight-bearing. It took compassion to provide the help and nurturing to enable a human to heal a femur.

It is the melanin content of our skin that assigns race to us rightly or wrongly.  There are other traits of homo sapiens that are different in our species. Some of us have lost muscles in our forearms that gave us better grasping abilities, muscles that control our ear to catch sound better, or digestive enzymes that can process cow’s milk. Why those criteria are not used to separate us instead of skin color remains an arbitrary conundrum. Skin color is a very superficial (as in skin deep) reason to separate races.  Black lives, as it turns out, are one genetic locus different from white lives! It comes down to the MC1R gene that provides the instructions for making the melanocortin 1 receptor.  That is not enough to separate us! Nor is it enough to cause a riot, loot, and burn down businesses in protest of a concept that is not based on any meaningful concept.  Those humans that self-identify as the oppressed blacks fail to consider the history and are just a touch too fragile. Yes, slavery existed and still does.  There are more human slaves now than there ever were in all of history. Some estimates put that number at 45,000,000.  They are of all colors and on all continents.  As many black slaves work in Africa’s diamond mines in abject horrifying conditions as do yellow slaves in Southeast Asia’s clothing industries and rice paddies, many of them children sold into slavery by their parents, as do white slaves sold by sex traffickers all over the world. The discrimination with which we deal, whether it is based on skin pigment or social status or level of education or income or religion or ethnicity or whatever in America is minuscule at this time compared to what Southeast Asian children suffer in sweatshops in which they are forced to work, or blacks in the DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo) diamond mines who live and die in squalor and desperation. WHERE ARE THE ANTI-RACISTS THAT SHOULD BE FIGHTING THAT INJUSTICE? It is a lot easier to buy another pair of Nikes or a De Beers blood diamond for their girlfriends.

Nevertheless, America is the most liberated of all countries in the world.  If you have the drive, the smarts, the persistence, you can achieve more in this country than in any other, regardless of color, ethnicity, or religion. That is why people risk their lives to come here. I came to this country (legally, I might add) with literally nothing to my or my family’s name.  Because of my parent’s drive to succeed and instilling this in me, I achieved whatever I wanted to achieve.  It cost sweat, some tears, and sacrifice, but it was worth it. If you do not have what you want, you need to look within yourself for the reasons and not blame society, the law, your skin color, the constitution, systemic racism, or whatever, for your self-perceived failures.

I recognize that some homo sapiens exist who consider themselves superior to others for a variety of reasons, including their skin pigmentation. You are not obligated to believe them! In fact there is no scientific or any other basis for their belief.  It is a mistake they make, just as the belief that their God is the right God, and everyone else’s God is the wrong God.  Not so long ago, we believed so strongly in the wrong ideology that we burned people alive because they claimed that we revolved around the sun.  It took science, education, patience, and the age of enlightenment to change that mistaken human belief, and it could not have been done any other way. It was not until 1983 that the Catholic church apologized for prosecuting Galileo for suggesting such blasphemy, even though he was right 350 years before.

Reasoning with people who have wrong concepts ingrained in their souls is almost impossible, but nevertheless needs to be pursued, even if they wind up carrying their belief to their grave.  That does not, however, mean the entire country is to blame for the minority that has mistaken ideas. Most of us have slowly evolved out of those ideas. Even Kamala Harris admitted that this is not a racist country (I have it on video)!  Our society does not allow those mistaken concepts to guide their behavior, and we have recourse against those Homo sapiens that use their mistaken ideas to harm us. We have come a long way from the Emancipation Proclamation! I do not deny that we need to continue to evolve and grow to become better Homo sapiens because there are things that could improve, be more enlightened, and just.  It will, however, not be achieved by burning down buildings, smashing windows, destroying public works, art, and history.  Those activities actually make things worse, reinforce and give strength and perhaps lend validation to the bigots and their mistaken ideas. It is Prophets like Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King who have hit upon the successful formula to reverse unjust history. We have established acceptable means to change those concepts that are mistakes and have civilized methods to right those wrongs, and most of us recognize that we have evolved into cultivated, thinking Homo sapiens. As long as there are people on earth, there will be societal problems and people who have mistaken beliefs. It is for that reason society needs to remind us that there is a right way and a wrong way to solve our problems.  These reminders are the laws and those that are charged to enforce those laws. Defunding the police is like taking the muzzle off the vicious dog. That just makes for more dog bites. In our case, more gunshot deaths. Unlike, as in arithmetic, two wrongs do not make a right!

Settled! Really? Part II

We must look at all our options and for us to depend on ending the use of fossil fuels as the only rodeo may be a bit too naïve.  It would be a Shakespearian Tragedy if we did all that AOC wants us to do and CO2 levels dropped, and nothing happened to global temperature.  A little foreshadowing that could give us a clue, during our Covid 19 shutdown, CO2 levels did drop by 17%, but shockingly no corresponding temperature drops occurred.  This, of course, is too short a time frame and not sufficient evidence, but it does raise a question, especially when CO2 was 25% lower in the 1930s when we had some of the highest temperatures recorded. With these paradoxes, we need real numbers rather than just computer models before we find out that some computer glitch occurred.  By the way, the climate models do not all agree. They vary by significantly different predictions.  What we are fed are the averages.  Sometimes the minority report has the real truth.  Keep in mind that predictions are not evidence.

Global warming has brought us some positive news. The earth is “greening”! Biomass is expanding all over the globe due to the warmer climates extending to latitudes further north. The growing seasons are also extended, and CO2 is actually a fertilizer that makes plants grow faster and bigger. Overall, cold kills more people than heat. In fact, all causes of death related to climate are shrinking over the last 100 years, as shown in Bjorn Lomborg’s book, False Alarm.

If indeed it turns out that CO2, and cow belching and farting, is the leading causes of global warming, turning all our vehicles into Teslas, killing all the cows, and becoming vegetarians, other than making Elon Musk even richer, is likely to be too much for our culture to achieve in the 12 years we have left. We must have other arrows in our quivers.

Renewable energy sources like wind, solar, and hydroelectric sources are nowhere near enough to fill the void that will be created by the elimination of carbon-based fuels.  Besides, they only make electricity when the wind blows, or the sun shines. Wind produces 8.4% of US energy, Solar comes in at the spectacularly low level of 2.3%, and Hydropower rivals wind at 7.3%.  Germany drank the Kool-Aid of renewable energy and abandoned Nuclear power for renewables.  They are at 52% of their energy supplied by renewables, despite tremendous costs to the government and the German people. Germans pay 37.5 cents per kilowatt-hour of electricity, compared to the 15 cents we pay. As a consequence, they use only a third of what we use. They do remain faithful to their dogma and use the other renewable, like wood, to make up much of the difference. Of course, they do not have enough of that either, so they buy it from us.  It is shipped to them in diesel-powered ships and trucked in from Bremerhafen to the rest of the country, also with diesel trucks.

 Someone should tell them that the pollution of carbon-based sources kills many more than nuclear energy ever has.  Nuclear turns out to be the safest source of energy.

That brings me to the question as to why our “environmental Nazis” shun nuclear so much? It is strange that the safest source of energy is so maligned. Hydrocarbons kill tens of thousands, from coal mining accidents to lung diseases. Wind machines are possibly the most environmentally unfriendly to birds, especially the larger variety such as falcons, eagles, egrets, and many others.  Perhaps Green Peace has not heard of that yet. The anti-nuclear crowd has some very questionable motivations for their position. Prominent California politicians have been caught leading anti-nuclear protests, which have benefited them from the takedown of coastal nuclear plants, as oil properties they own are more essential than ever. Now, with nuclear out of the way, they would become surprisingly more profitable. Has anyone mentioned “Conflict of interest?”

Nuclear energy solves so many issues, such as pollution, being energy dependent on other countries that are not necessarily our friends, pipelines that could cause environmental catastrophes and change the landscape, and of course, CO2 production. Very little is heard about Thorium that sidesteps many of the objections to Uranium and Plutonium.  It is safer, degrades faster, does not have run-away fission meltdowns, is plentiful, is difficult to weaponize, and harder to hide. It can burn up exhausted fuel rods that are an issue as to where to store them. Spent Thorium is less of a storage issue. This sounds like a much better option than all the other alternative sources of energy, and costs less than eliminating fossil fuels.

If CO2 is the primary problem, then other avenues of addressing CO2 production have been mostly ignored. Trees are wonderful CO2 converters.  Looking at atmospheric reflective formations such as clouds or substances, such as ice crystals, and some more intrusive chemicals like SO2, have been mentioned as means of reflecting the sun’s rays back into space (geoengineering).  Storing energy in more efficient batteries, or some other physical devices utilizing gravity, for example, that could release the energy later, have not been given a chance. The enormous energy of the moon reflected in the tides has hardly been exploited. 

Eliminating fossil fuels is a one-trick pony that does not give credit to the human ingenuity we possess. There are legitimate climate scientists questioning the urgency of this “Deal,” and there is certainly not 99% unanimity. We are delegating way too much that appears to be more political than science to a Brooklyn bartender and a defrocked ex-Vice President who jets around the globe, not giving a damn about his carbon footprint.

Settled! Really? – Part I

It is perhaps the wrong time to write an essay about global warming in the middle of a heatwave and drought.  The technical definition of a desert is 10 inches or less rainfall per year. We have hit that marker 60% of the time in the last 70 years in the Los Angeles Basin. In the distant past, droughts have lasted decades and even several hundreds of years. When you live in a desert or a near-desert, what do you expect? This is not a drought and not a heatwave. This is NORMAL for us!

There is little debate about the issue that the earth is getting warmer.  The “deniers” don’t argue that point.  They do, however, question the mechanisms of global warming and what we could, should, or should not do about it.  In the words of Al Gore, “The science is settled!”  If you really care, you need to read a book written by Steven E. Koonin, Unsettled ?.  He served as Undersecretary for Science, US Department of Energy under the Obama Administration. As a scientist and as a policymaker, he is in a good position to tell us the real deal. The book is full of graphs and charts that dispute the “settled” charge.  I admit it is not an easy read with much to digest. As to why the science is not settled takes Dr. Koonin 283 pages to explain and would be impossible to recount in this essay. But this is an issue that is a lot more complex than we were led to believe. Take my word for it or read the book, Unsettled?. The science is definitely not settled to a level where we have sufficient information to make irrevocable life-altering decisions that will transform not just energy but economics, construction, transportation, and agriculture. It will also require massive new taxes, retooling the labor market with deleting large swaths of the workforce and retraining millions for as yet undefined jobs. The point of all this is to lower human-generated atmospheric (anthropogenic)  CO2. Something that has not yet met the ultimate test. Does lowering anthropogenic atmospheric CO2 really lower the global temperature? That double-blind controlled test has not yet been done! The real fanatics don’t even consider climate the main goal. The primary push is to change the way we live, reverse the industrial revolution, gain control of how we work, play, travel, become educated, earn a living, and are governed. It is about globalization and control. Once WE have gained control changing the climate will be a snap. Never let a crisis go to waste! They say.

Half the world population believes that global warming will cause the extinction of humankind, and soon. Many of the media-driven alarms are, in fact, not true. Extreme weather is the same now as it was 100 years ago. The recent media loves to report the record highest temperature and the hottest summer, but when fact-checked, is not the highest or hottest. The recorded hottest temperature was in 1913 in the Mojave desert when it reached 134̊ F, when CO2 was 301 ppm. The hottest summer happened in the 1930s, coinciding with the dust bowls, when atmospheric CO2 levels were 310 ppm, 100 ppm lower than now. This poses the question, if atmospheric CO2 is the driver of global warming, how will lowering its level reduce those record high temperatures? All the accords,  so far, the Kyoto Protocol, the Copenhagen Accord,  the Durban Platform, and most recently the Paris Agreement have been jokes. No one has come anywhere close to cutting greenhouse gas emissions at the agreed-upon levels.

Fires have always existed and are no worse now than in the past, if in fact not better if you look at the numbers. In the 1920s, the US lost 40 – 50 million acres a year to fire.  In the last six decades, we have lost less than 10 million acres a year, 75% less because of better forestry management and better fire fighting equipment and techniques.

Climate change has many names that give it an urgency: climate crisis,  climate breakdown, climate catastrophe, climate emergency, global heating, and environmental destruction. This is media hype and not a fact if you study the actual numbers.

Droughts are cyclic. In one place on earth, they may be worse, but in others, there are fewer droughts. Looking at it globally, it is about the same. Cyclones, hurricanes, and tropical storms are not worse. They do cost more because there is more infrastructure for them to destroy now than there was in the past, but that is not a legitimate measure of worsening winds. In 1960 there were just 3 billion inhabitants on the earth.  Now we are almost 8 billion we have have built a lot more houses, skyscrapers, ice skating rinks, universities, and McDonalds. 

Sea levels have not changed nearly as much as Al Gore’s book, An Inconvenient Truth predicted, a 20 foot rise by now. At the beginning of industrialization in 1900, the rate of change in sea level was 1mm per year.  It rose to 3mm per year in 1940; then dipped back below 1mm per year in the 1950s and 1960s. It is back to 3mm per year now. Even if sea levels rose at ten times that level yearly, it would take 2,000 years to reach the level depicted by National Geographic, a bit of hysterical literary license that looks more like fear-mongering.

The arctic and antarctic ice cover tend to be opposite in receding and growing.  Currently, the south pole has had an overall positive trend in the last 40 years, while the north pole is losing ice. It was that way during the medieval warming about a thousand years ago when Greenland was actually green. Eric the Red (named for his red beard) established a settlement on the ice-free southwest coast of the island, and at least 5000 Vikings flourished there for about 400 years when the “Little Ice Age,” starting in 1300 and ending in 1850, drove them out.

The Green New Deal sets us on a path of spending trillions of dollars and will require us to change our life and lifestyle to accommodate the necessary alterations that are supposedly needed to bring down the CO2 levels that are said to be the main culprit causing global warming. Before embarking on this life-altering path, we need to know as much as possible about the what’s and wherefore’s of the science. Not only are the basics not settled, such as what really is going on, and what can we do about it, but also, is all doomed in 12 years or less, or is there much more time? What options do we have?   Are there other answers we need to research?  It reminds me of the joke of the guy who fell off the 1000 foot cliff but manages to catch a branch of a bush to which he is hanging on for dear life.  He calls for help from anyone up there to help him. Finally, he invokes the Almighty to save him. The clouds part, and a booming voice says, “You must have faith!”  “I do!” the hapless man screams.  “Then you must let go of the branch.” After a long pause, the man yells, “Is there anybody else up there?” 

SOCIALISM 2.0

I have written about this topic before.  I am fairly intellectual and have spent more than half my life learning stuff. I have reached what in Germany is the highest title one can reach in Academia, Herr Professor Doctor.  I also have experienced the scourges of Socialism, including the murder of some family members and the loss of assets that should have been mine.  Therefore I feel very qualified to write and express my opinion on the subject. I am disappointed, but not surprised, by the lack of response to my previous writings.  Nevertheless, I will try once more to explain the meaning of the word SOCIALISM. It amazes me how many people do not know what Socialism is and ignore people like me or the many that have escaped from Socialist countries and continue to believe the BIG LIE that the workers’ paradise proffers. The root of the word “social” comes from the Latin “socialis” which means “an ally,” and “sociare” which means “to share.”  Many words stem from these words: Society – an enduring group that works together, from a society of artists, doctors, athletes and goes up to a nation of relatively like-minded people. The root word gives the flavor of closeness but not necessarily, the entire meaning of the word. Social studies encompass the study of how society works, the history, government, and civics of a nation. A social worker is not a Communist worker but a person that helps underprivileged and maladjusted people. Social security is a government program that assures basic subsistence for the aged, the unemployed, and the widow or widower.
Social welfare is the public or private services that provide assistance to disadvantaged groups. Social diseases are diseases that are contracted through close contact, and you can’t get much closer.  So you see, the word “social” does relate to humans in close contact, but the final meaning can be as diverse as getting Syphilis to studying civics. Socialism does deal with doing things together but has an entirely different meaning from all those other words that have “social” in them.  Social Welfare was actually invented by the ultra-right-wing German Chancellor, Otto von Bismarck.  It is he who came up with Workman’s Compensation, Old age pension insurance, and health insurance.  He started this in 1881 to actually combat more radical Marxist proposals. If there ever was someone who did not have a socialist bone in his body, it was Otto von Bismarck. He wrote a letter to the Reichstag, the German Parliament, “…those who are disabled from work by age and invalidity have a well-grounded claim to care from the state.” Socialism is something quite different.  It is not Social Welfare; it is not Social Security; it is not Social Service or social diseases, even though I call Socialism a disease of society. The definition of Socialism, once and for all, is “when the state owns or controls the means of production and distribution of goods.” It is a philosophy that first was mentioned in a Parisian journal, Le Globe, in 1832 and followed shortly by Henri de Saint-Simon, who proposed the concept of shared ownership.   In 1867 Karl Marx published his first version of Das Kapital. Here he laid down the principles of state ownership and elimination of private property. And incidentally, Sweden, Denmark, and Norway are Democracies, and not Socialists or Democratic Socialists, if you look it up!  They gave that up thirty years ago, sold all their publicly owned businesses, and reverted to a market economy along with India, Israel, New Zealand, England, most of the ten USSR’s client states, and of course Russia itself.   Someone should clue in Bernie Sanders along with the Squad and any newly trained Marxists to stop holding them up as Socialist success examples.  They are successful but not Socialists! So often, I see people equating Socialism with Social Welfare, Medicare, and Social Security, and pretty much any government-funded program. Just because the word “social” appears or some benefit from public funds does not automatically make it Socialism.  Medicare and Social Security are in fact funded by us over our work life, and Social Welfare is by no means related to state ownership or control of production, distribution, and elimination of private property. I know many people think that any publicly funded program is Socialism, including some presidents of the United States, but that does not make it factually correct. What “they” say Socialism is, is not what it actually is. They are just plain mistaken. The Oxford Dictionary is still the principal historical dictionary of the English language, and Socialism is defined as already stated. To be precise, it is worth repeating, so I copied it directly from the Oxford website: “ A political and economic theory of social organization which advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.” The second definition is a bit more sinister, “a transitional social state between the overthrow of capitalism and the realization of Communism!” for those of you from Peoria. I have up close and personal experiences with the real deal of what Socialism is.  Both my parents had to run for their lives from a variety of forms of Socialism. My Uncle was shot in the head in the streets of Bucharest by Communist troops in the early 1940s for being “rich.” Needless to say, he did not make it. My Grandmother was imprisoned in a Siberian Gulag for ten years for political reasons.  She amazingly survived and was released in 1953 in her mid-seventies when Stalin died.  My parents lost all their possessions twice because of the miracles of Socialism, just like many Venezuelans or Cubans. If you render your opinions, you should at least have the basics down and not spread more ignorance. I see it as a duty and have an uncontrollable urge to set misguided people on the right track!

Quantum Physics for Dummies

The Greeks named “the atom” as that which cannot be divided further.  It is the smallest particle.  Democritus, Leucippus, and Epicurius proposed that dividing matter into ever smaller particles leads to particles that cannot be divided further, “the atom.”  The ancient Greek word, atom, means uncuttable.  But they were wrong! Ernest Rutherford came up with the idea of what an atom is made of and is what is now considered the Rutherford atomic model.  It is a dense central nucleus of protons and neutrons surrounded by a cloud of electrons that orbit around the nucleus. A lot of empty space exists beween the electron cloud and the nucleus. If you place a football at the 50-yard line representing the nucleus, the electron cloud is at the goalposts with nothing in-between. Quantum tunneling is the phenomenon where particles can go right through solid barriers like ghosts go through walls. Could all that empty space allow that to happen? The knife to cut the atom turns out to be quite elaborate, the LHC (Large Hadron Collider). Near Geneva, in Switzerland, is the largest, most powerful particle accelerator ever built.  It is a circular tunnel, 100 meters underground, 27 km in circumference, that propels particles at near the speed of light in two beams going in opposite directions, and then the particles are made to smash into each other.  It turs out, atoms are divisible! These particles are pieces of the atom called Bosons, Hadrons, and Fermions.  To date, the count of these particles is 59.

All these particles have a variety of qualities, from electric charge, to spin, and mass. The Higgs Boson (also called “the God Particle”) is what gives everything mass, and is one of the more recent discoveries.

Newton (1642 -1726) was the go-to guy for astronomy, physics, and mathematics for hundreds of years.  Then came  the Quantum boys and girl – (Madam Skłodowska aka Curie) in the early 1900s. The founding father was Max Planck, but others contributed, like Niels Bohr, Werner Heisenberg, Paul Dirac, Wolfgang Pauli, and Erwin Schödinger. Einstein was not a fan of Quantum Mechanics but still influenced its direction with his special and general theory of relativity. The central ideas of Quantum Physics are that the very small world has different rules than the world of Isaac Newton which we can see.

The Copenhagen Interpretation

The great minds of Quantum Mechanics came together in Copenhagen and came up with a loose set of temporary compromises, still being debated today called the Copenhagen Interpretation, which concluded, among other things, that a state does not exist until it is observed. The act of observation forces the particle to choose what it will be.  This also concerned Einstein.  His famous retort was that the moon was still there even if he didn’t look at it.

Very small particles can be both a particle and a wave.  It can even be at many places all at once. Identifying where a particle exists is not certain until it decides where to land. Particles can become “entangled” with each other through one of four mechanisms. Once they are so entangled, whatever happens to one will influence what happens to the other instantaneously, even if that particle is on the other side of the universe. This idea really rankled Einstein. He called it “Spukhafte Fernwirkung” spooky activity at a distance. One cannot know both, where a particle is, and at the same time how fast it is going (Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle). A particle could be in several places at once.  And two opposite states can simultaneously exist until they are observed (Quantum superposition).

  The act of observation forces which state exists. Schrödinger’s dead cat thought experiment has a cat in a box that is both alive and dead until it is observed to be one or the other.

Max Karl Ernst Ludwig Planck was a German theoretical physicist who was advised not to study physics since everything had already been discovered, he was told. His response was that he didn’t want to discover anything new, just to understand what had been discovered. He was a Professor at the Berlin University. In the early 1900s, he formulated his Quantum theories. He took a year’s sabbatical from the University to travel around Europe to explain his theory.  Despite his brilliant scientific mind, he could not drive a car.  He had to hire a driver.  When he returned to Berlin to give his last lecture, he had a severe cold and could not talk.  He decided to cancel.  His driver talked Planck into letting him give his talk which he by now had heard hundreds of times. Plank agreed, and it went as planned until, during the question period, a wizened old physicist asked a question that the driver had no idea how to answer. As Planck was sitting in the audience, the driver cleverly turned the tables on the smart-aleck questioner. “I can’t believe such a basic question would be asked in this sophisticated group, and to prove it, I will let my chauffeur answer that!”

I just barely got through college physics 101.  To get my experiments to come out correctly, I fudged some data, which the professor figured out faster than entanglement could. “There is something fishy here!” he exclaimed. Quantum mechanics is vastly more complicated. The concepts are admittedly difficult to understand, and even Einstein didn’t either.  How a particle can be in two places at once, how the cat is both alive and dead, how information can travel, from one end of the universe to the other instantaneously, when the speed of light is the fastest anything can travel are concepts that just fly in the face of what we know. You may wonder why I even bother to try to understand.  The problem is that these impossible concepts are why we can watch TV, why our GPS takes us to the right address every time, why atomic clocks keep perfect time, how superfast computers work, how the salmon return to their birth stream, how Magnetic Resonance Imaging takes pictures of our brain, and why we should not detonate even one Hydrogen bomb any time soon.

This is just the beginning of what is in store for us.  The idea of time travel sounds impossible, but the fact that time and space are called space-time because it is made of the same fabric suggests a possibility. Gravity slows down time, the stronger it is the more it slows time and even stops it inside a black hole.  Theoretically, we could just walk upstream  the time continuum to get to our past or downstream to get “Back to the Future” (?) If space can get a wrinkle in it, and a wormhole can drill through that carpet of space, we could travel to the end of the universe in no time at all(?) If we are all made of quanta, then a very sophisticated quantum computer could disassemble all the parts of our atoms, transmit their structure to entangled computers instantaneously to one of Alpha Centauri exoplanets and reassemble us there (?) Sounds crazy!

NEW BOOK IS OUT ON AMAZON – RACE, IS IT REAL?

A bit controversial but definitely worth your time at $16 from Amazon but much less ($1.99) as an e-book.

 Race has evolved into a divisive issue that faces our nation. I have written this monograph to clear up my own confusion and try to answer some of the questions that I have had. I hope to answer some of yours as well. I include the early origins of mankind, our evolution, and some of the controversies of race. I am not a geneticist, anthropologist, or paleontologist, even though much of this book expounds on those topics. I am, however, an applied scientist and am now a retired Professor of Surgery. I have practiced my profession for over half a century and have learned some things, and come to some conclusions, that I believe worthy of sharing with you. In my job, I have dealt with all races as patients, colleagues, allied health professionals, and students from college to graduate and professional school. Most recently, I have dealt with postgraduates in the profession of surgery, teaching the art and science of cutting on human beings to cure disease and alleviate suffering.

One thing that I will share with you now is that once you get below the skin, we all look the same! Race has become a more consuming topic. It has evolved from its first inception when described in the 1700s by Carl Linnaeus, a Swedish botanist, zoologist, and physician in his Magnus Opus, Systema Naturae. Since then, much has changed. Above all, we now have mapped the human genome, and guess what? There is no scientifically classifiable division of H. sapiens into various races. Race is supposed to be a grouping of humans based on shared physical characteristics. 99.9% of DNA is shared. There is only a 0.1%variablility. Besides being only a 0.1%variability, the shared physical characteristics blend, and blur across groups. There would be at least 300 groups that share many, but not all, characteristics to conform to the definition of a group with shared characteristics. We have trouble dealing with three to four racial groups. How would you like to deal with 300 racial groups? The first grouping, and still the most utilized, is skin pigmentation. I would expect this from the mindset of the 18th Century. Little did they know that skin color is the least significant in groupings of H. sapiens. Melanocytes are the cells that make melanin that gives us the pigment. All races have the same number of melanocytes. It is one locus on our DNA double helix, the MC1 R locus, that directs the melanocyte to make melanin. There are muscles that some of us have that others don’t. There are diseases that affect some of us and not others. There are some of us that can’t drink cow’s milk, which makes some of us deathly sick. Caucasians have more type A blood, while Asians have more type B blood, and the Blacks have both A and B. Eye shape is often the defining characteristic of Asians. IQ turns out not to be a very distinguishing characteristic. Too many social factors enter into it. Primary education, culture, and parental pressure factors more than race. Neil deGrasse Tyson, a black Astrophysicist, is said to have an IQ of 142. While Philip Emeagwali, a black computer scientist, is ranked at 190, 30 points higher than Einstein. There are studies dating back to World War II showing black troops from northern states outperforming white troops from the south on average. IQ matches better with social class than race in multiple studies. We are left with skin color, facial features, hair texture, and a few other physical traits that are basically meaningless. We are making much more of it than it deserves! My point is that race does not have meaningful characteristics to allow us to separate H. sapiens, and skin pigmentation is not enough. Nevertheless, the topic is timely and does deserve discussion.

The exact appearance of racial origin is not known. It is clearly environmental adaptation that gave rise to the most obvious trait, skin pigmentation. I delve into our evolution, from coming down from the trees, migrating across the savannahs of Africa, nearly becoming extinct with only a few hundred females with reproducing capabilities surviving during two separate natural disasters in our short 200,000 years of existence, outperforming and out surviving our competitor hominids, likely even eating some of them. I have compiled a series of thoughts, ideas, and musings on the subject of human origins, evolution, and race, based on my readings, my life experiences, and my own ideas. I have tried to be as factual as my study of the subject has allowed. These are my observations and interpretations as a pre-woke college graduate, to the best of my knowledge and abilities. My conclusion (spoiler alert!) is that we need to start acting like we believe our name, Homo sapiens (wise Human)!

The Vaccine

The Mona Lisa getting her COVID 19 shot

To be or not to be…? To be or not to be vaccinated, that is the question?  I am shocked by the number of people I consider intelligent human beings that are not going to get the vaccine. The number of people that are not going to get vaccinated will prevent the nation from attaining herd immunity! That is more than selfish! I have been a physician for over half a century, and I am convinced this vaccine is as safe as it can be. Having been in the military and traveling worldwide, I have been vaccinated for pretty much everything and am still alive. I was not affected by Mercury or Formaldehyde poisoning, and had just a little fever with some of them. I am sure that no government agency is tracking me either (unless, of course, I wear my aluminum foil helmet that transmits the signal to the secret location of the trackers –just kidding). The benefits outweigh the risks by a wide margin.  You are more likely to be killed by lightning (lifetime risk 1 in 15,000), or a drive to the corner grocery store (lifetime risk 1 in 100).  The most dangerous vaccine, Johnson and Johnson, has killed 1 in 3,500,000. Yet you are still at risk for getting the virus that has a mortality of 1% to 10% depending on where you live, how old you are, and what other co-morbidities you have. The overall mortality from COVID-19 in the US is currently 1.8%, which included one of my best friends while he was waiting his turn to be vaccinated. The anti-vaccers are opposed to any vaccine based on sparse or false evidence of the dangers of the vaccine.  The vaccine-hesitant are just not sure. There are two vaccine averse demographics that have very little in common except that they do not trust the government, the white Republican males, and the African Americans.  The latter bring up Tuskegee. The white male Republicans have a relentless distrust of government.

I do believe that anyone who does not want to be vaccinated should not be forced to be vaccinated. What should be injected into your body should remain your right to decide.  But at the same time, I believe that you have no right to subject others to the risk of getting infected by your virus. If you are not vaccinated, you have a higher risk of getting the virus and passing it on to others that have or have not been vaccinated.  I am not opposed to Vaccine Passports to prove that you have had the vaccine.  Those should not be government-mandated.  Various governmental agencies, including Dr. Fauci, have claimed that there will be no government-issued passport.  By the same token, I will not fly in an airplane full of unvaccinated people. I want all my fellow passengers to be as unlikely to infect others and me as possible.  Nor do I want to sit next to unvaccinated people in a restaurant, a theater, or a sporting event. These services have the responsibility to tell me if they do or do not require vaccination. Although it is still possible to be vaccinated and be a carrier, being vaccinated makes that very unlikely (kind of like Twilight Zone). I believe that private businesses have a right to demand that consumers of their products be unlikely to pass on their viruses.  By the same token, each business must decide whether to demand customers be vaccinated or not frequent their premises. But they have an obligation to let me know what they do. Businesses reserve the right to refuse service to anyone—no shirt, no service, or in this case, no passport, no pizza. I, the consumer, then can choose to frequent or avoid that business. The only way to implement this is to show your Vaccination Passport, which is far less intrusive than the scarlet letter “A” tattoo on the forehead (in this case, “V”). I do believe in rights, but I also have a right to be as safe as possible.

Typhoid was a major killer in the 1900s.  Public Health tracked down the source, Mary Mallon, a.k.a. “Typhoid Mary,” who spread the typhoid bacillus.  She had been imprisoned once before because she caused several deaths from Typhoid, and they warned her to stop being a cook, a waitress, a spreader of the disease, but she did not.  She went “underground,” moved, and changed her name. Finally, the only choice was to imprison her again.  She died in 1938, having been confined for a total of 26 years. The people that refuse to get vaccinated but still want to fly in airplanes, that want to go to restaurants, movies, and sporting events are like Typhoid Mary. Showing proof of vaccination is much less of an imposition than quarantine or imprisonment. But if it comes to that, there really are no other choices. And it should be ironclad so that you cannot get a forged passport on the “Black Market.” If you do, Typhoid Mary’s fate should be your fate because, like Mary, you show no regard for your fellow human, nor do you respect what the best current knowledge is. We are social beings and therefore have an obligation to do what is in the best interest of our fellow humans and not injure or infect them.  

Freedom is a constitutional right given to all of us, but it does not permit abandonment of your constitutional responsibility not to harm others.

Is Photo ID Now Also Racist?

Thirty-six out of fifty-two states require voter ID.  You need an ID to board a plane, to enter the country, to cash checks, to get a driver’s license, to open a bank account, to apply for food stamps, to apply for Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security, to apply for a job, to apply for a mortgage, to buy a house, to buy a car, to buy a gun, to get married, to adopt a pet, to get a hunting or fishing license, to donate blood, and many more.  Georgia just passed a law that requires voter ID, and it generated a major tantrum.  It is called racist, and the claim is that it is responding to the lie of voter fraud. Therefore it is fixing something that is not broken, etc. 

The majority wants fair elections, which requires knowing who is voting. An election must be spotless. If it is under suspicion, justified or not, it damages democracy and makes for a lot of unhappy people. Mayor Daily of Chicago was notoriously rumored to participate in voter fraud.  The favorite saying attributed to him was, “Vote early and vote often.” I lived in Chicago for several years. That issue was not disputed. It was taken as the truth that his operatives would round up all the street bums, and line them up at the poles early when they opened. In the afternoon, they would all get a new suit, get shaved and a haircut, and go back for the second round of voting.  

People that are not citizens, people that are dead, people that are not of legal age, people that have already voted, and people that are felons should not vote.  If it is racist requiring an ID to vote, then it is also racist to require an ID to board a plane, cash a check, get a fishing license, or adopt a dog, and then that makes the majority of States racist.

Multiple organizations have protested, led by Major League Baseball (MLB), which is boycotting Georgia by moving the All-Star Game to Colorado, said to cost Georgia $100,000,000.  Other companies have joined the protest: Delta, Twitter, Coca-Cola, UPS, Home Depot, Aflac, Apple, and more under pressure from the Woke Left. Even Stacy Abrams, minority leader of the Georgia House, walked back her demand for protest.  She did not think it would cost her state $100,000,000. In her words, “Leaving us will not help us.  Stay and fight!” But it is too late!  MLB cannot change now, and all the other protesting companies have gone public.

New polling shows that a large majority (75% of all voters, 69% of black voters, 60% of Democrats, and 89% of Republicans) supports photo ID laws.  It appears that a minority is opposed to photo ID, composed primarily of the radical left.  Voter ID is said to be a remnant of Jim Crow, according to Biden, equating voter ID with lynching, burning crosses, and the KKK, all of which was, by the way, primarily fueled by Democrats if you know history. Senator Robert C. Byrd, a good friend of Joe Biden and former Grand Wizard of the KKK was a staunch Democrat, and lest we forget, he filibustered against the 1964 Civil Rights Act. He died in office in 2010 and was eulogized by none other than Joe Biden. Statues of Columbus must come down for his treatment of the native population that supposedly happened. That was 500 years ago. But Joe’s racist behavior of 11 years ago will go unnoticed. Is that an example of hypocrisy or just stupidity?

Voter ID affects all races equally.  The black population should take the left’s position on voter ID as a major insult.  The patronizing left insinuates that African Americans are not able to get ID on their own.  They should not have to show ID because they are not capable of getting photo ID.  That, my friends, demonstrates how racist they really are!

All these companies that are protesting did not think this through. First of all, Atlanta’s African Americans are 51% of the population. Denver’s black population is 9.8%. Who exactly are the business geniuses of  Major League Baseball going to hurt with this boycott most? They should have asked me, and it does not take an Einstein to run the numbers. 74,000,000 voted for Trump, and Biden garnered 80,000,000. For those of you from Peoria, that is 48% for Trump and 52% for Biden. Organizations that want to serve the general public should stay out of politics, especially on issues where opinions are fairly evenly divided. Those companies have alienated 74,000,000 customers by becoming partisan.  There will be a response!  Granted, many people are not that political, but a lot are.  There will be a Boycott Backlash!  Coca-Cola will give up some of its business to Pepsi, which wisely remained non-partisan. Conversely, very few Pepsi drinkers will switch to Coca-Cola to reward them for their political stance. How many Republicans will fly Delta to the next Republican Convention said to be, of all places, in Atlanta, Georgia? It will likely not hurt Apple, they are just too big and just expand their already fastest-growing market in China. Tim Cook frankly does not care, but Aflac should have been smarter. UPS has a lot of competition, and FedEx may profit from the lack of political savvy of UPS. A few Redneck Baseball fans may just miss the All-Star Game.