Monday, December 16, 2013

Social Change as an example of Punctuated Equilibria

Five Germanys I Have Knownis partly written in response to the question of how the Nazi period came to be. The question lingers. Various factors are discussed. I wonder if it isn't useful in considering this issue to have lived inside a cultural shift; such a thing happened in the late 60's. There was the suppression of leftist viewpoints in the 50s, the discovery of the pill, the real price of the 'pay any price' anticommunism for a generation raised in part according to the doctrine of tell the child why. Suddenly there was a change; ultimately I think because the youth wanted to go there reorganizing the factors just mentioned. This was like a reorganization of chromosomes in a punctuated equilibrium. Ultimately I think German society wanted to go to the Nazi period out of previous factors in a similar way as a punctuated cultural equilibrium.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Oprah and criticism of the president

In a person's death, 'I will come as a thief in the night.' Fr. Denis Farkasfalvy pointed out 'for the skeptics' that Jesus must certainly have said that for none of his followers would have put those words in his mouth. 'Have you ever had a thief in your house?' Fr. Abbot said. 'It is a surprise, disruptive, and humiliating. The passage of time is the passage of opportunity and can you imagine the disruption, the humiliation of the thief death.' And I think in a roundabout way these thoughts explain Oprah Winfrey's assertion that criticism of the president is racist. Many back lives did not come to a full fruition but rather were taken, at least in part, by thieves. So, opportunity lost, Oprah sees her black president as not being able to come to fruition because of criticism; and it reminds her of those other losses, the racism in them. But sometimes, as the not so Catholic Sigmund Freud said, 'A cigar is just a cigar;' or criticism is just criticism, ordinary political competition.

Friday, November 08, 2013

Divide and Ruin

Been reading . Just read about 'Munich' regarding which the author, Fritz Stern, asserts that General Beck, then head of the German military, had prepared a coup should England have refused to give in to Hitler's demands. The first World War was in part occasioned by Britain's strategy of keeping down a strong power on the continent, which conflict Germany looked to win without German opposition. This apparently mirrored Britain's strategy in India where it sought to keep in conflict potentially rival factions so that it could rule. It is what Britain did in interwar Palestine promoting ant anti-Jewish mufti over other more natural or qualified rulers for the Arab side. It looks to be a policy that was 'too clever by half' as it impairs successful cultural or personal development.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Thursday, September 26, 2013

We have a Jesuit Pope

Oswald Sobrino has a link to Pope Francis' interview in the Jesuit magazine America. His answers have been celebrated; the interviewer and his questions were excellent in their own right.

Monday, September 23, 2013

'Anti-Psychotic' Drugs and Bipolar Disorder

A few words on the odd seeming fact that all of the drugs for schizophrenia, all of the 'anti-psychotic drugs,' have been found useful for bipolar disorder. Schizophrenia is a disorder characterized by loosening of ego boundaries. As a recent cartoon in the New Yorker captioned 'I can't tell if that is an internal thought or something I already said.' Viewed in a topographic sense, these drugs tighten up those boundaries. I can recall walking down the hall of the ward with the Vice Chief of Psychiatry at the VA and a patient walked up to us and indicated some way in which he had been hostilely treated by Dr. Charles. Dr. Charles would respond passively and entering the nurse's station would take the man's chart and write in the orders 'Mellaril 100 mg three times a day.' The patient had indicated a psychotic transference toward Dr. Charles. The Rx would help the man not project on to Dr. Charles his negative feelings about himself.

Now depression can often be seen as a narcissistic problem; you know a problem of self esteem. The standard mythological portrayal of Narcissus is of a young good looking man looking at his reflection in a lake in ancient times. One might speculate he is having trouble holding a positive view of himself internally. The 'anti-psychotic medication' helps pull the feeling of 'I am beautiful' back into the person. So an adolescent who is both angry that others aren't affirming him sufficiently and depressed that he can't see himself as beautiful might be able to pull his self regard back and not have the depression or anger. And it may be that the fact that bipolar spectrum disorder responds in adolescence much more favorably to anti-psychotic drugs than to other drugs used for bipolar in adults may indicate that the disorder at that developmental age is more basically a narcissistic problem.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

This weekend an APA task force released a report saying that 'antipsychotic drugs' are overused*. The comments at USAToday had a delighted group of psychiatry bashers. In reviewing the literature, I find that other adult bipolar drugs are just not found useful in Adolescents. Further, from a criticism standpoint, the spokesman, Joel Yager, MD is from the same Medical School that treated the man found armed to the hilt at the scene of the Aurora Colorado movie shooting. Presumably he has some prominence at the Medical School as well. Are we to be speculatively happy that the shooter wasn't about to develop diabetes from Risperdal? *

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Mass in the setting of Yom Kippur

After going to Yom Kippur Saturday, I heard Mass differently. The opening prayer, after greetings, in the Mass is:
Brethren (brothers and sisters), let us acknowledge our sins, and so prepare ourselves to celebrate the sacred mysteries. I confess to almighty God and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have greatly sinned, in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done and in what I have failed to do, through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault; therefore I ask blessed Mary ever-Virgin, all the Angels and Saints, and you, my brothers and sisters, to pray for me to the Lord our God
In the Jewish Prayers of the Day of Atonement, the Jews admit to sins and are forgiven by Adonai. Now the Mass talks loud in a polemical way at times, most notably in the Nicene Creed, but this struck me as a soft request for the Jewish mother Mary to do what you would expect her to do, to accept us and perhaps even his faults if he has them, and the subsequent beliefs may be part of that, to be loved, even in fault, and made whole by Adonai.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Gerald Ford said in his taking over the presidency from Nixon, 'Our long national nightmare is over;' rather the reverse happened when James Earl Ray killed Martin Luther King, Jr. As David Brooks said this week*:
The idea was to reduce ugliness in the world by reducing ugliness in yourself. King argued that “unearned suffering is redemptive.” It would uplift people involved in this kind of action. It would impose self-restraint. The strategy of renunciation and the absorbing of suffering was meant to guard against all that. In short, the method relied upon a very sophisticated set of paradoxes. It relied on leaders who had done a lot of deep theological and theoretical work before they took up the cause of public action. Nonviolent protest, King summarized, “rests upon two pillars. One, resistance, continuous military resistance. Second, it projects good will against ill will. In this way nonviolent resistance is a force against apathy in our own ranks.
With the death of King, the things his theological undertaking was meant to guard against developed. Again in David Brooks words:
The leaders understood that even people in the middle of just causes can be corrupted. They can become self-righteous, knowing their cause is right. They can become smug as they move forward, cruel as they organize into groups, simplistic as they rely on propaganda to mobilize the masses.
King's dream was no longer; a nightmare began. *

Saturday, August 31, 2013

'Boris' should get more respect. Brad DeLOng had a good day blogging. As I thought the other day 'Some element of surprise may be lost or ambiguity in what the military's action will be if there is a resolution (regarding US military action in Syria). On the other hand some general resolution affirmatively stating one of the purposes the president or Secretary of State has given for military action and authorizing it in Congress would desirably remove the penumbra of Obama as being imperator in the Roman sense.' So I am pleased at the president's request for congressional approval. I understand that 100 members of Congress had written a letter saying, Constitutionally, it was necessary.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Mohammed Athari, commenting in Megan's blog, provided a good Pb and behavior reference.

From an EPA reference ... Final volume, p. 6-45, "Cord blood Pb levels were not associated with the prevalence or nature of behavior problems reported by teachers." Though apparently a regression analysis did show a correlation between tooth Pb and the ACBP Total Problem Behavior Scores which assess both both "under- and overcontrol of behaviors. Only weak associations were seen between tooth Pb concentrations and the tendency to score in the clinically significant range on these scales." Earlier in the very extensive discussion, the reports suggests it is 'problematic' to make an association with behavior and what Pb levels we have had. OTOH, Pb seems to have affected visual-motor cortex preferentially in low doses and mildly impairs intelligence, may have been a mildly significant toxin during the early years of feminist, in pregnancy, smoking rebellion.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

I'm a little distant from my first Calculus class with Dr. Wall (at UT Austin). It started, as I recall, with going through the obvious in a slow walk of how one might calculate the area under the line 1/x. Taking the walk from where physics was before the paper of Oppenheimer and his student demonstrating the necessity for black holes would also seem to promise a transforming exercise in understanding physics. Freeman Dyson would seem to recommend Reappraising Oppenheimer: Centennial Studies and Reflections, edited by Cathryn Carson and David Hollinger which has a chapter on the paper.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013


Ron Rosenbaum said that in lieu of graduate school in English just subscribe to the London Review of Books. I enjoy their review of DSM-V which includes a nice review of the recent history of psychiatric diagnosis and the DSM iterations.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

An opinion on the Zimmerman trial

Appreciated the remarks of Charles Barkley. What has gone on in the public arena since the trial of George Zimmerman has a tribal Lord of the Flies 'Kill the Beast' quality to it. What the book lacked was a reason for the projection of evil which was to be projected into the other. In this case the violence of TM is ignored, his youthful homophobia and all fault is projected into George Zimmerman who came into his circle of consideration. So we have a completion of the 'Kill the Beast' orgiastic excitement. I am genuinely shocked at its primitiveness. The president's remarks are a minor help but certainly don't acknowledge my perception. The national shouting match continues.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Again Greg Mankiw has an article Defending the One Percent. On another topic, I think Obama's decision to extend air cover over a part of Syria is thoughtful. Also I have really been shocked by the fact that if it weren't for the Apaches and Comanches, much of the area north of Mexico would be or have been Spanish and then Mexican. This is part of the perspective of Empire of the Summer Moon.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Greg Mankiw referred to his comencement address the other day. He said in part:
It is an honor to be able to speak to you today. When Mr. Conrad invited me, he suggested that maybe, as a professional economist, I could talk with you about the future economy that you will soon be entering and in which you will be spending your lives. It is true that as an economist, I know precisely what the future holds. But union rules prevent me from sharing that knowledge with the general public. So we economists usually just make stuff up, and it often turns out to be wrong. I won’t burden you with those made-up stories today.
The whole thing can be found through this link and is excellent and perhaps a little sad as the opportunities for mixing in the right community may not be as available to most of us as it was to him but partly that also depends on the individual. His point that community is important is a good one. We should treasure them.

Friday, May 31, 2013

A Turkish man said something not politically correct enough in Turkey and was sentenced for insulting Mohammed and gave a dispassionate and informative critique of the founder of the religion at his 13 month sentencing.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Phonetic Alphabet

The 'names' for the letters. You know 'papa' for 'p,' 'Bravo' for 'b,' though a commenter says it used to be something else. It is more masculine to say 'b as in bravo' than 'b as in boy.' Anyway the military standards to specify the letters. Did you know that out word 'alphabet' comes from our names for the first two letters of the Greek alphabet, alpha and beta?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

I saw a lot of carping over at Brad DeLong's site about Memorial Day. I guess the implication might have been felt that those who didn't volunteer have to rescue a narcissistic deficiency on that day. My sister was saying recently that the happiest time in our parents lives was when my dad was in the Army. he worked at the Medical Nutrition Laboratory, return address MedNutlab, at Fitzsimmons in Denver. I recall looking up at the hospital from my bike while Ike was there with an MI. Anyway for those of us who want to look at the holiday critically I suppose there is always the song, The Streets of Laredo.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

The link for contributing to the burned city of West.

A lesson from the KGB

Yuri Andropov, KGB chief during the VN period, reportedly said their propaganda victory during the VN war was their greatest achievement. It was seamless in its strategy. On the one end, in VN toddlers would be set to walk to American soldiers with bombs set to detonate or women in distress apparently needing to give an infant with a timed explosive device to a new soldier. The infants might be shot and explode or thrown off a bridge and explode as the Americans defended themselves. This created a predicate for the charge that the soldiers were baby killers. As Andropov as General Secretary gave us Gorbachev who gave us the end of Russian communism, perhaps we could console ourselves and see VN as a Pyrrhic defeat leading to Russian hubris. This is not to say there were never crimes on our side, but this was part of the context, as a commenter noted, 'context' for a discussion on Bill Ayers.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

How Dallas Got Its Name

Repairing obscured history reminded me of the interactive map of the 1860 Census in the NY Times. One of the icons in the map shows that Dallas County, Alabama was a 77% slave county in 1860. The soil there is described as a rich, black soil, good for growing cotton. This band of soil extends to an area of Texas called Dallas. Dallas, Texas was the second biggest collection point for cotton in the world in the 1880s. The reason for calling the Texas city and county Dallas is obscure but perhaps it was originally to signal that it was a good place to have slaves and grow cotton. In a twist of fate or, more honestly, public relations, Dallas subsequently may have found other explanations for its name.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Brad DeLong's post on Cuba, a cry with me for Cuba piece, reminded me of Luis Garrigo, M.D., a refugee from the Revolution, who landed in Dallas for a while. He was a psychiatrist who seemed not at all distracted by his work or responsibiliies to being open to others. In regard to criticism of pre-revolutionary Cuba he might considerately respond yes but the present state was worse and, on other occasions but it would apply there too, with the Latin phrase, 'Festina lente,' which he would translate as 'Hurry slowly.'

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Just Finished

Not quite as intersting as Gregory Baum's Book (above) but very interesting and a better cover, Kandinsky. I've got an extra copy.

Friday, March 08, 2013

Hugo Chavez

I've been doing my own private mourning, thank you. I had heard the Hugo took property he wanted when the deed records weren't complete. Ahem, big deal of course. But Hugo insisted that deeds go back through 1821 through an interval where records for some reason were far from complete. Now I don't now about the oil development except to read from the Economist, and he seems to have shown the same interest in oil production at the state run oil company as the communists did on news gathering in their staffing of Isvestia and Pravda. As for stealing from the future, you do know that Argentina was the richest country in the world, per capita income wise, at the turn of the century. Puzzled? I guess, like me, you really don't remember 1900. No, what I am mourning about is that these largely Catholic countries can be such a mess while Israel with a little sand and Palestinian only buses can have such a dynamic economy. To his credit though, and clowns seem to be more in favor these day, Chavez didn't kill his opponents.

The Atlantic if I recall correctly had an interesting graphic a year ago. It showed that the Roman empire hit a nadir bushel of wheat earned per hour of labor in the middle of the third century. One of the error dynamics of the Roman derived states seems to be a struggle between syndicalism in control of property and redistribution on a base of static development of resources or TFP to coin a phrase.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Reflections on the Italian Election Debacle

You know there was that French sociologist who pointed out that French suicides went down during the Franco-Prussian war. 'We're all in this together' occurred anomie was relatively banished. Having a currency is something like that. 'Let a smile be my umbrella' the song goes, but we all know that is being a bit gay. It really is 'Let $3.98 be my umbrella.' When you have a little, you are part of the dollar society; you have choices. You belong. When Italy had the lira, similarly all Italians were 'in it together.' If the value of assets slid, they all slid together from the Mafiosi to the street cleaner. To reduce Italy's collective claim on the rest of the world and on each other is fractured more among asset classes when the government employee retains her Euro salary and the factory worker becomes unemployed and has to scuffle underground. - See more at:
That recent announcement of releasing the illegal immigrants set for deportation seems passive aggressive, Or is it not? Shall we expect more of the same?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Health Care and Cost, in McArdle's* comments

But who is doing your biding? When you go to work, you get paid so you do the 'bidding' of the employer. So, as in the example I give below, if a surgeon could certify that an assistant could do an operation, then presumably the surgeon can do it for less because he could be doing something else. If the state rules that he cannot, then the state is raising your costs. Or is it when the state mandates a 'maximum wage' for a pharmaceutical or a procedure that it is doing our bidding. A part of our cost structure is mandated basically quality controls which may or may not be excessive but they certainly are costs. Could states do those differently, thus lower costs while still allowing people to own their labor, selling it at a market price, and be doing your bidding?

It wouldn't be hard to cut spending by 30%. You could allow PA's or NPs to do surgeries if a board certified surgeon said they had done that surgery successfully 15 times (under their 'supervision') for instance. But you run into an interlocking set of desired quality controls and cost factors. Former president Clinton's statement that abortion should be 'safe, legal, and rare' is something of an allusion to that. It wasn't that people couldn't get abortions but the quality control was poor.


The end* of Richard III and the War of the Roses. *

Saturday, February 02, 2013

MosesZC in the second comment on this post has an interesting comment which makes the Chinese turn to successful production less mind bending.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

I've been dismayed by the number of incidents, the increased gun violence reported lately. It's not like guns have just been discovered here though. Ann Althouse points out the incivility of Senator Durbin's response to the NRA president. The Speaker of the House said that Obama's intent was to 'annihilate' the Republicans. That attitude does seem to be taken up by Mr. Coates at the Atlantic and has been commented on today in the Wall Street Journal. The idea of a 'gun free zone' might have originated in the regulation of bars where one might assume that people might act, 'liquored up,' more impulsively than they might otherwise. It seems like that statement though at a grade school is more a religious statement. It seems to say that guns kill people, and we don't want that. Why not just post 'Thou shall not kill?' Except for the separation of Church and state issue, it would seem to say the same thing. After all 'Thou shall not kill' expresses a rule and an ideal which might be broken but 'gun free zone' is equally easy to break. Perhaps the reason for the increase in violence is due to the national temper. Studying Hamlet, our teacher informed us of the medieval idea that the tone of a state flowed out from the king. If annihilating one's opponents is appropriate for the president then perhaps his 'subjects' are more inclined to annihilate their opponents.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

In re: Kevin Drum's hypothesis about lead and criminality, there were other things going on then of course. There was a nice article in the British Medical Journal on a critical period in brain development, the first two years of life. That period is 'critical' in that you have to have nutrition then for brain development; you can't make it up with a normal diet at some other 2 years of life. Our WIC (Womens Infant and Children) nutrition program started then. At least what I heard from Parkland in Dallas, pre-eclamsia which had maybe affected a third of pregnancies declined in incidence following WIC. And this hypertensive disorder in pregnancy may be associated with a doubling of the incidence* of ADHD which is in turn associated with later criminal behavior. *Zinc and childhood hyperactivity. Brophy MH. Biol Psychiatry. 1986 Jun;21(7):704-5. No abstract available. PMID: 3708042 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE