About Me

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Deep South, United States
Consultant, inventor, mentor, chess coach,. Current projects involve No Till Farming and staving off blindness due to cataracts among other projects. I also do confidential ghost writing (without taking any published credit. My current blindness makes me put this on hold for a while. I should have one eye working again in about four months. Fact, fiction, all subjects considered. I have heard My daughter Jennifer is alive. I would love it if she were to contact me here. I understand she would like to know me. I have sent a message by circuitous route. I can only hope. My posted Email works as well. We have four decades to catch up on.

This blog has been up for more than a year. The intent was to generate dialogues about serious problems and ideas. It has been almost exclusively a monologue. I have not been looking for large numbers of participants.

I would be quite happy with a few dozen imaginative, creative, thoughtful and inventive people who wish to address serious problems and issues. If anyone has any ideas about how to attract such a talented group I will certainly pay attention. I am not as computer conversant as I would wish. Anyone who could help in this regard would find me receptive to sharing my skills in other areas.

Monday, January 15, 2007

War, Chess, and Medicine

I am provocative in a variety of ways. We learn everything better when we are fully engaged. When I teach chess, 90% of it is by combat. I give very few tutorials to the group. Lectures are often dull, dry and lifeless. I pose questions and generate problems with a point. I challenge the group to think. My class is a participatory event. My private sessions are even more vigorous.

One thing I have noticed in my group classes, is that the thinking process of an opponent is clearly different than that of the spectators. The opponent is much more fully engaged, focused. The spectators, even though many of them are in the lineup, waiting for their turn at combat, often "zone out" or chat idly with one another.

I would characterize most of the people on the Internet in much the same way. Mostly they are just "goofing around." They rarely are diligently trying to accomplish something of any importance or value. Perhaps this comes from our experiences as passive members of the audience when we watch movies. And when we watch TV matters are even worse, since about a third of the time is spent wading through a cesspool of commercials. There is no better encouragement to tune out than hearing the same repetitive nonsense ad infinitum.

For me, it is particularly irritating, since I pay $130 a month for my cable service without even being provided with cable Internet. And the HDTV programming provided is not compelling and is replete with technical defects, continuously freeze framing, pixelating, losing audio, etc. often dozens of times per hour. What is worse, Sudden Link broadcasts frequent commercials lauding how great they are. And, speaking of commercials, we now get more per hour than ever before, even though we are paying so much for the service, instead of getting the programming for free, as was the case before the cable and satellite companies. The cable company also sells program length commercials called "paid programs." These paid programs often clutter the "premium channels" which we have paid extra to get.

Other SuddenLink customers or those with other cable providers who have similar issues are welcome to post their comments here. I will start a whole separate Rant section for them if necessary.

I got one of SuddenLink's "technicians" out to try to shape things up. When I told him of one of the defects; the fact that I often totally lose audio and don't get it back until I change the channel and then change back. What did he say? "Yup. Can't do anything about that. Everybody with an HD box is having the same problem." That was the entire extent of the service that this fellow provided. How are you people with satellite service doing? Let me know. I don't want to jump from the frying pan only to wind up in the fire.

Skin Cell Forum has been around for several years. I stumbled on it last year when I was having some problems with my skin. I found the forum quite helpful and showed my appreciation by becoming pretty fully engaged with them. I have made over 700 posts there, some of them whimsical or controversial, but usually just helping people deal with their problems.

But look at the rest of the membership. Of the more than 11,000 members, at least 75% have made 0 to 5 posts. They are lurking, glazed over, in a fog, Peeping Tom's. Now if we look at the number who actually post things, but do so in a slapdash fashion, without a scintilla of thought, or providing downright dangerous advice, the situation is even sadder. It is a very small handful of dedicated people who make that forum a worthwhile place. The others are just littering or pleading for the help of others while being unwilling to do much to help themselves.

But getting back to chess. It is not just a game. It is martial arts for the mind. As a symbolic analogue of combat, it has great value in getting the mind in better shape to do important things in virtually any field. And it is certainly better for this purpose than the usual fare of video war games.

I do not teach people how to do things if I can teach them how to discover how to do them when they have the felt need to do so. Our own assumptions and preconceptions about things often blind us to important things in the real world. Sometimes I have students who will get stuck on a "plateau" and are dismayed because they can't discern any real progress in their game. Why can't I just make them better and better little by little every week? That's NOT how it works. We all have times when progress is not apparent.

I have been teaching chess for fifty years now. I had a stroke almost a year and a half ago that initially cost me 25 to 40 IQ points. This had substantial impact on my chess. For a while, I was losing a lot of games to my most ruthless and skilled students. That helped me determine the extent, approximate location of the brain damage, and the probable best course of action in dealing with it. For their part, most of my best students were delighted with my sudden vulnerability. I did lose a few students who apparently came to the conclusion that because I was damaged, I was no longer worthy of being their teacher. Good riddance to them! I won't have them back at any price. One of them comes sniffing around now and then. Bah!

I don't make my students better. I only point the way, or better yet, challenge them to find the way for themselves. I entertain, I cajole, I challenge, I make lame-brained mistakes purposely on the board for them to discover. Then I point them out immediately when they are not seen. When they are found, I congratulate my opponent and fight hard to regain my lost Queen or scramble out of the mating net that I have gotten myself into. This teaches them not to give up, even after suffering a major setback. I have lost count of the games that were certain to be lost which were made into draws or wins. I take risks. And I lose some games. Also, I teach by analogy and relate strategy and tactics to philosophy, the sciences, and real life.

What I do NOT encourage is the memorization of various lines and Openings. There is nothing creative about remembering various strings of moves. The important thing is knowing WHY the moves are made.

My thoughts about the First and Second World Wars and all the other disastrous conflicts in recent history, tend to come down on the side of finding better ways of resolving our conflicts than war. That does not mean that I do not realize that war has also been the motivating force for great discoveries which have changed the course of human destiny. Certainly we should not lose sight of the fact that the trillions we have spent in raging hostilities during the twentieth century have also brought about innovation and invention beyond our capacity to comprehend. Certainly one could make the case that that we might not have landed on the moon. Our daily lives have been transformed with all of the wonders that have come out of the advances in all the sciences. These are not good enough reasons to fight modern wars.


Could we perhaps have done even better if we had been more cooperative with one another internationally along the way? Should we just be patting each other complacently on the back when we "win" an international conflict, idiotically applauding our success?

Our Alpha leader told us three weeks after our precipitous invasion of Iraq that we had won. A Pollyanna approach is not just dangerous, it is disaster. Leaving aside these deliberate fanatic insanities, pandemics, tsunamis, earthquakes, eruptions, hurricanes and cyclones will all continue to occur on an increasingly crowded planet which increasingly has dwindling resources to deal with them.

In my lifespan the human population has more than tripled. Our disaster systems are a disaster in themselves. They now fail in bigger ways than ever before and they fail more and more often. Should we not minimize our own production of disaster? And should we not divert our resources to more beneficial activities that salvage and repair rather than destroy?

By current reckoning, Americans are on the hook for almost half a trillion dollars for just this current imbecilic war. That's TRILLION. That is just what has been squandered so far. It does not account for the costs of caring for our permanently wounded.

The current administration now has a new generation of nuclear weapons in the works. I am steadfast in my resolve not to call our chief leaders idiots. Wouldn't be prudent. Particularly since habeas corpus is no longer currently a protection. Our leaders have shown that they can skillfully run our country into the ground with their eyes tightly closed. Leaving aside the monumental waste, widespread corruption, fraud and outright theft, what have we gotten in return? More stability in the Middle East? No, things in the region are more volatile and less predictable.

And yet throughout the world, in spite of what we should all have learned from history, there are virtually no major nations who do not spend more on preparations for war than they do on anything else. Considering all of our other problems, this "defense" spending is indefensible.

Okay, my blood pressure needs some attention. I am going to just change the subject for now.

Let me say a word about medicine and doctors. I am not sanguine about how they are doing. I am not alone in this perspective. Even so, looking through my previous posts on Skin Cell Forum,I notice I have encouraged people to be forthright with their doctors, to be as complete as possible in the information they give them. I have even suggested, now and then, that someone go to the doctor.

One of my sons, an extremely successful teacher in his own right, suggests that I am unduly focused on what doctors and politicians collectively do wrong. There is some merit in his perspective. But the fact is, the failings are much more important to talk about than the successes. Both doctors and politicians blow their own horns quite nicely without my additional help.

I have made some caustic remarks about the specific ACTIONS of two dentists, which I believe were designed to benefit them, to my great detriment. More specific details on this subject can be found on Skin Cell Forum in the General Health Section on the thread called Biting the Dentist.

In both cases, I said nothing about them that I would retract in their presence. Indeed, I have been circumspect. I am quite angry enough with them to post their names. I have not done so. Do they have the opportunity to defend themselves? The most recent one does. He knows the name Anthropositor. He knows that I participate in Skin Cell Forum. I taught him and some members of his staff how to prevent viral infection. I did so without charge I might add, in spite of the bald-faced profiteering of this particular dentist. I am prepared to debate the matter in any venue at any time.

There are important things wrong with many doctors and the way they practice medicine. Medical systems, hospitals, the pharmaceutical industry, the insurance industry/government subsidy systems are in many ways out of whack. We need them. We need to fix them. I for one, would be quite pleased if any doctor showed up here to share his wisdom with us. If a doctor showed up here, I would be of the opinion that he was a part of the solution, more than being a part of the problem. None ever do seem to show up in any of these venues. I think that is significant. They feel quite above it all. As time goes on I will be saying more about the devolution of medicine and the alternatives we have open to us if we are capable and have the courage to implement them.

Thanks to all the doctors who save lives and make the lives of their patients better. Thanks especially to the ones that retain their humanity along the way. And thanks most of all to the mavericks among you who think more of the patients than scientific dogma and dollars. No one is in a better position to make things better. I would be overjoyed if any of you came here to share your views. I'll help as best I can.

Thinking back, I realize that I have not been to an optometrist for fifty years or other doctor for twenty-five. Of course I do not advocate that kind of extended period for others. For me it has worked out to my entire satisfaction.

As to dentists, in the past ten years I have been to four dentists. One pleased me greatly with his services, his skills and his ethics. I believe I have recommended him to at least a hundred people. Another, I have no strong feelings about at all. The remaining two did me intrinsic injury. I have made my feelings known to them and to others. I will continue to do so, particularly with the most recent one.

Now I have a well-developed cataract in my right eye. I will need the services of a skilled ophthalmological surgeon. I will need to weigh the respective advantages of a polymethyl acrylate or a silicone replacement lens. I will need to consult on such matters as using a symmetrical lens (advantage: if it changes rotational position, there will be no effect on the vision that will need additional surgical intervention), or a bifocal implant (which would need some haptics to maintain it's orientation and might have some complications later). The most challenging prospect I have facing me right now is the selection of the appropriate surgeon. I will let you know if I am able to interview any candidates for even five minutes prior to committing myself to their services. It does not seem unreasonable to me to require this for something that is going to cost several thousands of dollars per hour of actual work


leorning_maeden said...

Mental martial arts--a good idea.

English majors don't get much mental exercise. We have a sort of mental athletics equivalent to a combination of throwing the shotput and wiffleball. The standard English major is taught to grab the hollowest ideas and hurl them as far as possible.

It's not very impressive.

I know one who does very well in English and failed an introductory logic course. Some would probably say, "Well, everyone has different strengths." Yes. But I can BS and I can use logic (or do both at the same time!). I don't mind those who can be logical but can't BS, but those who spew buzzwords and can't even, in the privacy of their own homes, figure out what they do and don't know...those make me edgy. And when they defend their ignorance, I want to go off to my own little cabin in the woods and live off possum.

They do defend it--it goes like this:
"That's the masculine way of thinking. The feminine way of thinking (and writing) is just as valid; in fact, it's better because it doesn't just lock you into narrow conclusions and linear arguments--you explore the relationships between things, and illustrate the subjectivity of the blah...blah...blah..."
First, I consider myself female, and I reject the use of that term as an antonym for 'logical,' regardless of what others may say. Second, I think lines are pretty darned cool. In fact, it seems rather like a relationship, at its foundation, is a line between two points. Great works of art are based on them and composed of them.

So, this rant is all to say: I am glad you share your keen insight and mental processes with your chess students and many others. You repair what much of the educational system tears down.

Also, have you read The Skeptical Environmentalist by Bjorn Lomborg? I've just begun it, but it looks already like it's worth a read. If it's propaganda, it's much more cleverly disguised than most.

madadam said...

Excellent blog. In particular, I found the prevention post informative -I'll try it out for myself. I'd like to be more informed about the world, specifically, politically. If you could point me in the direction of a reliable, quality source of news I would appreciate it.
Also, what happened in 1962 which brought the world near to destruction?
-adam from hastings.

anthropositor said...

Hello leorning maeden and madadam.

I haven't been ignoring you. Just out of state for a week and too busy to get back on. I am even busier now that I am back because I have decided to replace the cataract-clouded lens of my right eye and am now interviewing surgeons so that I can make a reasoned selection of the one who will do the procedure. This is rather difficult because they are so unused to my kind of selection process. Doctors generally prefer to be calling virtually all the shots. Patients who take an active part in what actually happens rather unnerve them.

Rest assured, as soon as I get caught up, I will address your comments more comprehensively.

anthropositor said...

I have not yet seen The Skeptical Environmentalist and the name Bjorn Lomborg does not strike a bell. I like the sound of the title though, and will be keeping an eye out for it.

A few words about propaganda. We tend to use the word pejoratively but it is not all bad. We often think so because the word is used much more often to describe the persuasive messages of those with whom we disagree. Persuasive comments we agree with tend to be called "truth."

I support certain doctrines or opinions over others. If I speak or write persuasively about my opinions and do not give fair representation of opposing views, I am acting as a propagandist, a biased advocate. There are often good reasons for doing this and one should make no apology for it. If opposing opinion is widespread it is certainly not my responsibility to voice the other side. Others are already doing that. Those in power are often demagogues who use persuasive techniques very affectively to achieve their ends.

When I am being an iconoclast, I will use these techniques. On the other hand, when I am breaking new ground, testing new ideas or discoveries, objectivity is in order.

anthropositor said...

Thank you for your comments and questions. The prevention of viral infection and the abatement of suffering from airborne allergens have been a key activity of mine for more than two decades. Statistically speaking, I have saved myself the suffering and cumulative damage of a probable seven bouts of influenza and perhaps sixty or more "colds."

Prior to the development of the preventive method, I averaged three colds a year and got flu every three years or so. Thousands of other people have had the same kinds of success in prevention. The critical factor is actually doing the procedure. In all these years, I have heard many people who did not actually do the procedure with regularity, express regret about not doing it on a habitual basis. I have never heard anyone who did it regularly who was unhappy for having done so.

As to news sources. There is no simple convenient formula that I know of to choose them. But perhaps I can point you in some good directions. Get diverse perspectives. That means getting a wide variety of reports from contrasting sources. It requires ongoing critical evaluation on your part. You should continue to hone your judgment on the whetstone of those you disagree with, and not simply confine yourself to the sources that you are most comfortable with. Many people do this. They are “true believers.” They populate most of the religions and political parties.

Most of our physicians are true believers in the principles of allopathic medicine, to the exclusion of many other disciplines in vogue in other times and places. Their thinking has the strength (and weaknesses) of a rigid and pretty inadaptable mindset. The physicians are also enmeshed in a whole variety of complex inter-relations with their medical associations, government agencies, insurance providers, and institutions like hospitals, clinics and diagnostic service providers of various sorts. The person with the least power in this equation is the patient. The patient is just the housing for the condition being treated.

What I am doing right now provides an illustrative example. Yesterday I sought a few brief minutes of telephone conversation with several different prospective ophthalmic surgeons for the purpose of determining their suitability for the work that I require. In one case, the gatekeeper took my number and said the doctor would get back to me. He never did. In the others I was advised that I needed to get an examination by an optometrist before I could talk for a few minutes with the doctor who will ultimately make several thousands of dollars for a procedure which may well not take an hour to perform. As an ophthalmic surgeon, he is certainly qualified to determine anything the optometrist could. Why should I be required to go to a subcontractor under these circumstances? I know with a high degree of certainty that I will need the cataract removed and a replacement lens put in. It is likely that the other eye will need the same sort of procedure in a year or so.

For my part, looking over all the questions I have, they are questions for the surgeon, not an optometrist. And the personal details about me which are pertinent to the operation, I prefer to impart directly to the doctor who is going to replace the lens. My questions have to do with materials, techniques, the outcomes I want to achieve, and particular things we can do to maximize the chances of achieving those results while minimizing the potential for untoward events.

What I have described here is standard and widespread. It is also an impediment to my receiving good care. An impediment which I may be powerless to do anything whatsoever about… but for now I will continue for a while to attempt to get an audience with a surgeon without recourse to an optometrist. A surgeon who will treat me and not just my eyeball. I will update here when I succeed or resign the effort and move in some other more fruitful direction.

Now as to the End of the World Crisis of 1962. It is more commonly referred to as the Cuban Missile Crisis. It is of concern to me that so few people today even know about it, let alone know how close it was to the end of the world. By any reasonable criterion that date was within a few years of the very first time in which human beings collectively had the physical capability of destroying the entire planet in a few short hours. The details are readily available to anyone who can use a search engine or a library. In the intervening time the danger has not abated by much, it has just changed in character and complexity. Certainly, total destruction of the sort that nearly occurred then seems somewhat less likely. The variety of other major disasters possible is way up. Let us know of your conclusions about the 1962 events.

txdave said...

Interesting reading, prose too gray, maybe some variety of font/format, some photos, see wht I mean:



good luck


anthropositor said...

Hello Dave,
I looked at your two blogs and find them relevant and meaningful, particularly for those who wish to enhance their assertiveness or alleviate skeletal difficulties.

You are welcome here.

My prose is deliberately gray here. For more whimsey, caustic remarks and a certain amount of entertainment mixed with my health advice, you might want to take a look at Skin Cell Forum where there are over 700 of my posts, written in considerably more colorful terms. That crowd is sometimes pedestrian in their abilities and talents and needs to be awakened sometimes, just to get them to pay thoughtful attention.

There is but a small handful of that forum with a membership of over 11,000, who make it a valuable place. People I have developed a high level of respect for, who I would be happy to see here. It was because of them that I stayed at it as long as I did. I still intend to drop in on them now and then.

There are some on that forum who have thought that I was excessively assertive, even cruel on occasion. Read the thread, Biting The Dentist in the General Health Section.

I have sued the IRS without a lawyer. That is an excess of assertiveness. I have told a presiding judge of a Federal Court that she was a liar in legal language in writing. That is an excess of assertiveness. In the course of my life I have routinely taken on larger opponents many times. And I am in the process of doing it again in spite of an ongoing recovery from a stroke and recent spiking blood pressure. That is an excess of assertiveness.

But this is an enclave of reason. Not only will I curb my natural tendencies, I will go out of my way to cultivate the cooperation and creativity of talented people. I don't even have to like them.

I will be putting relevant pictures on this blog as time goes on (and as soon as I learn how to do it). That's the key; relevance. Not Bells and Whistles.

What can you tell us Dave about the health of the spine, skull and skeletal system. I suspect you have worthwhile things to say on the subject. I look forward to hearing more of your perspectives. Thanks for coming.

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