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.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Trolling the Blogs

I have been trying to sort out why I randomly surf the blogs. Often I am looking for specific information about a given subject like cataracts or virology or nutrition or chemistry or physics. Surfing the blogs is of no help in that regard. So the question of why I spend a few hours a week looking over chance blogs still remains unanswered, when I could be using search engines in a more focused and directed way.

I guess it has to be the novelty and element of occasional surprise. You just really never know where you are going to wind up. Yesterday I came upon a blog about spanking. Having been spanked frequently and very hard as a young child, it is not a subject which I take to with great enthusiasm. My sons got very few spankings. Even fewer were hard. And each of those give me lasting regret.

So it was a surprise to see this particular blog, which was extolling a variety of benefits to adults spanking adults. There wer a considerable number of pictures. There are even professional spankers who perform for a fee. Apparently there is a significant subculture who engage in the practice. Contrary to what I would have guessed, I don't recall more than a picture or two of women being the recipient. Most were of women administering the spanking to their spouse or boyfriend.

But I think what surprised me the most is how many comments were made on the postings, how favorable virtually all the posts were about the practice, and how basically happy the people involved were with the activity.

A few years ago I saw a movie which rather disturbed and impressed me. It was called "The Secretary" with Maggie Gyllenthaal and James Spader. When I rented the movie, it was on the basis of the stars, not the plot blurb. So I had no idea of the content having elements of sado-masochism. The oddest thing of all is that it was such a happy movie. I went from my initial reaction that this was a disturbed and troubling relationship, to what a happy couple.

Anyway, I thought I would get away from my practice of dealing with things like cataracts, which according to the experts will affect virtually all of us if we survive long enough, but about which practically none of us have any real interest. The same with prevention of viral infections, which affect almost everyone almost every year. Yet these and other scientific subjects of importance to our comfort and survival, do not inspire much interest in the general public.

The other day, one of my chess opponents said that he had taken a look at my blog. He said I talked about too many subjects and used too many words. I had to chuckle over that.

There is some validity to the using too many words criticism. Hemingway believed in brevity, and achieved it in spades with "The Old Man and the Sea." But as his career went on, he found such perfect brevity very elusive. I have a feeling that this might have played some part in his ultimate demise. Writers perhaps take their craft too seriously.

But the other thing that came to mind was what a regent once said to Mozart when straining to find some intelligent critical comment to Mozart about a piece of his music that had just been performed.

"Too many notes." he said.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Posted on Another Blog, "After Gutenberg"

I stumbled upon "After Gutenberg" this afternoon. I have so far found the various entries informative and thought provoking. This is my reaction to less than 1% of the blogs I view.

Focus is as important as creativity and imagination in the generation of new concepts and techniques in dealing with problems. My central focus at the moment is supposed to be on reversal of cataracts by the application of better surgical procedures, or by the prevention/reversal of cataracts by nonsurgical means. Instead, I found myself taking the tour of some of the wealth of ideas I found here in other areas.

But I noticed that some of the very same impediments to progress in solving many problems that I have seen described here, have some of the same characteristics that I have encountered in trying to gain the interest and attention of the central players in the eye-care industry, ophthalmologists.

Only a few years ago, I was lamenting the short sighted perspectives of the associated industries (big oil and big auto) in downplaying the complex problems of global warming, population pressure and uncoordinated, unsustainable water policies.

But it is clear that the special interests involved in slowing the potential progress that could be made, have not really made an intrinsic change in course. They have made virtually no actual changes in policy or emphasis. Only cosmetic ones designed to maintain the profit status quo in the present, lulling us into a sense of complacency, no matter what the consequences in the future.

Now, I must admit that I have not used "meta tags" and other means of attracting attention to eurekaideasunlimited.blogspot.com
I think in the past half year it has only received about 2000 hits. And from those hits, there has been a miniscule handful of thoughtful and relevant responses. I really did want to see that good ideas would provide their own attraction and it would be self-sustaining. Clearly that is not the case.

This blog, After Gutenberg, seems to be suffering from the same sort of problem, although clearly, it is polished, and uses skills and techniques which I have not yet employed, and has been around for a number of years.

In cataracts, the vested interests are different. They are the Ophthalmologists, the industry that produces the equipment and IOL's, and the medical installations that profit by the operations. They have considerable incentive to maintain the status quo, and to provide even more expensive services. (To use an accomodating multifocal lens will cost more than $2000 on top of the basic surgical fees.) There is no incentive for any ophthalmologist to buck this trend, particularly if the new innovation(s) delay surgery for an appreciable time, or even eliminate it entirely in many cases. The doctors are making too much money to rock the boat.

Now our corn farmers are very much in favor of producing ethanol. It makes the crop more valuable. But is it a wise course to be thinking of using the central staple grain in our food chain? The corn farmer thinks it's a wonderful idea. He is a special interest, and one who has sometimes gotten a raw deal in the marketplace.

But step back and see the bigger picture. With massive amounts of corn diverted to ethanol production, pet food, livestock feed, and the chickens, turkeys and beef and pork for which corn is an essential feed component,not to mention the ubiquitous corn sweetener business will also increase in product cost.

What is the solution? The truth is that cellulosic production of ethanol will work just fine. In otherwords, we need not depend on corn or any other food crop for energy production. We can use sawdust, plant stalks, lawn clippings, weeds and brush. Why on earth would we use food to make alcohol? It just makes no sense at all if you are not one of the vested interests for whom it affects the bottom line.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Getting Better

One of my friends supplied me with somelinks that in essence said I was barking up a wrong tree. The links were useful in a variety of ways and I appreciated them, but still had some caveats. This was my response:

Hello Bunnie, These links are interesting and useful. I notice, though that the first link only devotes a paragraph to the lens. The other major components of the eye get much more attention.

I think this is a significant indicator of the mindset that prevails in the cataract removal industry. And it is not just this link that does this. You can get a lot more detail about every other significant eye part, with a lot less hunting.

Could this be because it is the only "routine" for cataracts, to just "amputate" the lens and insert a prosthetic lens? If it is going to just be chopped out and replaced, there is little to be gained by knowing a lot about it's structure.

And one of the other links calls it a "myth" that interventions such as eyedrops or nutritional supplements or dietary changes, or for that matter, any intervention at all, short of surgery will do any good at all.

To me the word myth is quite a strong one. I do not think it applies when it simply has not been established that the variety of other interventions are of incontrovertable value.

Without opening another can of worms in another branch of surgical intervention, cardiology, findings were recently published that perhaps half of one variety of procedure were next to useless or completely useless. This procedure has been done hundreds of thousands of times every year in the Unites States alone. I doubt that refunds will be offerred.

Getting back to cataracts, a number of months ago, I was attempting to use some nonsurgical interventions to at least stabilize or perhaps reverse the effects of a cataract on vision. After several weeks, I couldn't see any obvious improvement. I was doing several different things at the same time. When I didn't see evidence of improvement over a period of a month or so, I became less and less interested in continuing. But in retrospect, I do not really think I gave the things I was doing enough of a trial.

The cataract took years and years to develop, without my even noticing it until it was pretty well advanced. So the deterioration from month to month was exceedingly subtle. Not only that, I had not calibrated a measurement system, with which I could make a baseline measurement which would later help me to assess changes. I set about doing that.

Furthermore, I wanted to produce a device with which I could assess some of the glare affects of the cataract on night vision with some precision. So I set about doing that as well. That is pretty technical and hard to discuss, so I will leave the glare issue aside.

So let us look at both clarity of vision and the ability to percieve different colors. I additionally decided that it was better to have a measurement that used images produced by emitted light rather than reflected light. So a TV screen or a computer screen were the obvious choices. But of course, one can't easily control what is going to occur on the TV screen and repeatability, to be able to replicate with great precision, the image that was going to be used for the testing purposes was absolutely essential.

So I began casting about for an image on the computer screen which I could reliably replicate at will, which would be absolutely replicatible down to the finest detail every time I wanted it, which also included a variety of colors and sizes of print, highly contrasting from the background.
When I first turn on the computer, I get a blue screen. It is replaced by the Windows XP symbol and lettering on a black screen which is too large for my purposes and quickly spontaneously disappears as the computer finishes booting up.

But later on, if I get distracted by anything, and do nothing with the computer or touch the mouse, a much smaller version of this logo becomes a screensaver, with three very different sizes of white lettering on a black background "Windows" the largest, with an orange XP; underneath that, "Home Edition" in medium print, and the smallest, above windows, "Microsoft."
Now I needed to make a precise distance measurement. One which would allow me to see the large and the medium copy pretty well, but would only allow me to nearly resolve the smallest word. Measuring from my forhead to the screen with a seven inch spacer, I was able to easily read Windows XP and Home Edition, but Microsoft was just a blur in which I could resove none of the letters clearly. The M looked to me more like a V. The ft at the other end, I could make out that they were taller letters than those of the interior of the word, but couldn't see what they were, and the short interior letters were just a line of fog. Perfect.

I didn't note the date, but it was right after my computer crash. Now it has been several weeks. Not a long time, but not a short time either. Only now, I am quite prepared to be more patient. I now have a pretty clear baseline measurement. It has already been demonstrably important.

You see, now when I put my face a measured seven inches from the screen, I can resolve the M clearly and the ft only slightly less clearly. Sorry to say that the interior of the word is still not legible to me, but this is progress over a very short timespan.
Now it is true, I have also been working on my blood pressure and the aftermath of my stroke, so I have been doing a great variety of things for my health. And although some of those things were specifically designed to deal with the cataract, there is no way I can isolate them out and say "these are the things that helped my eyes." So, from a medical or scientific point of view, this is just anecdotal nonsense.

Just as nonsensical I suppose as only respecting the results of "double blind" studies in which neither the doctors nor the subjects know during the study who is actually getting the study drug and who is getting the placebo. This is of statistical value, but your chance of getting better is cut to 50% even before the use of the study drug. All in the name of the great god science.

I think I will just settle for getting better.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

None So Blind As Those Who Will Not See

Alright, since I am entirely alone, and this is in effect a diary, I might as well knuckle down and try to sort out the mumbo jumbo of current ophthalmologic theory.

My focus is on cataracts. The reason for this is simple. A presumably “nuclear” cataract has seriously affected the vision of my right eye, and threatens to eventually do the same sort of thing with the left eye as well.
Having first gone to see an optometrist and shortly thereafter an ophthalmologic surgeon, I was left with considerably more questions than I was comfortable with, and the answers I did receive had to be extracted almost by force, and were simplistic and routinely condescending.

Throughout this whole time, I have sought real dialogue and counsel from people in the field. I have had no success in this regard at all. The closest I came was to finally have a ten minute follow-up conversation with the surgeon with whom I had scheduled the surgery. I achieved this small victory only by canceling the operation.

During that telephone conversation, the answers I got were vague, statistical, and dumbed-down to be suitably understood by someone of plebeian patient mentality. The doctor was clearly surprised that I did not just leave her to do what she does. There are protocols in place, presumably to assure that patients are given enough facts to be able to give “informed consent.”

You are told that more than 9 out of 10 cataract operations have a good result, meaning that there is some improvement or great improvement in the sight of the eye. In the remaining ten percent, there is a range of unfortunate outcomes from no appreciable improvement to various complications secondary to the surgery, to blindness.

What is glossed over with these simplistic statistics, and what you will not hear at all if you do not dig in and ask the doctor for some specifics about some of the complications by type, is that certain complications happen to the majority of those having cataract surgeries. There is a secondary cataract which develops, much more often than not in the capsular membrane, and which is corrected by subsequently burning a laser hole in the membrane. (This is an additional procedure, done at a later time and billed separately). There are also some post surgical problems of other sorts that relate to the kind of surgical procedure performed.

What I am saying is that much of what the doctor tells you to elicit your informed consent, amounts more to salesmanship in the guise of information. And the worst of it is, I do not believe the doctor even realizes it. It is simply an artifact of how the system has evolved. It is the “routine” way they have developed as an industry to sell to their customers.

Now I want to turn to another element of cataract treatment. From the perspective of the industry, the treatment of choice for the entire range of cataracts which interfere with vision is surgical. An extremely tiny segment of the medical community thinks that any other method of reversal or stabilization of a developing cataract is worth consideration.
Surgery is the gold standard, and it is worth many billions of dollars every year.

The consensus is, if you get old enough, you will get cataracts, and will require surgical intervention. The surgery is often less than an hour and can range in price from three to five thousand dollars.

Soon I will be talking about some of the elements of the evolution of cataract surgery over the past three or four decades, some things which may be serious blunder in the field, and some possibilities which have not yet been explored. I realize that my remarks are less and less diplomatic, and will find physicians even less receptive to a conversation on this subject.

But what about the rest of you? Are you really receptive to the notion that eventually you will have to make the same sorts of decisions with which I am faced now? One would think that some of you would be moved to comment or ask some hard questions.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Inner and Outer Space

The people who are capable of effectively navigating the bureaucratic red tape of writing grant requests and running the governmental gauntlet are not the ones who can best get to the bottom of the mysteries of discovery.

To even be able to conform to the pedestrian mentalities of the officials who make the ultimate decisions on the allocation of funds require skills that are the antithesis of those which best achieve true innovation and discovery.

Let us take our efforts in space. We accomplished great, even astonishing things in the space effort, which did not just propel us into space, but sharply changed our environment here on Earth. Many sciences were accelerated due to the space effort. But the disasters and blunders have also been great. Just to name a few, we put up a telescope which had a rudimentary mistake in its’ construction, wasting billions of dollars with a single measurement conversion error. Yet we went to fix it, at great additional cost, and Hubble went on to achieve many of the great things originally intended.

We even, against all odds, landed on the moon several times.
But after a few landings, we largely turned our backs on space. We dithered. Our great motivation and resolve dissolved.

Our leadership thought it was more important to stop the menace of monolithic communism taking over the world, by interfering in the civil war of a small agrarian culture, squandering our youth and treasure for a decade. This, and other misadventures in geopolitics became the obsession of our leadership. It was a disaster of great proportions. Today we are embarked on a path of folly that promises to go on longer and bring in its' wake even greater carnage and destruction

NASA, for whatever reasons, became less and less effective in setting appropriate goals. We should have found other solutions than using the Shuttle as long as we have, for example.

Our priorities still need quite a bit of fine tuning. The Mars Phoenix Program has a lot of merit, which is encouraging. We have had some serious setbacks in our efforts to advance on the Mars front. No sense casting blame or nitpicking. The likelihood of everything going smoothly in even the best designed program is not great. And our successes have been brilliant. So our Mars effort is not going to elicit any sour grapes from me. The mistakes and disasters which have happenned can help us if we learn from them. It is only when we stubbornly institutionalize them that they defeat us.

But let us turn to some of the more interesting features of our efforts with the moon, and make some comparisons to alternative goals we might pursue. But before I continue, I would like to open the floor to ideas and opinions from elsewhere. I have noticed that since this blog got started, not much dialogue has been generated on any subject. No curiosity. No opposition. No alternative possibilities presented. What an enigma to me.

There is room for a great diversity of ideas in the exploration of space. We should also be discussing our priorities with regard to how we divide our collective resources between this and our other critical opportunities like slowing the damage to our atmosphere and its weather systems and how to deal with our ocean resources without upsetting them to the point of total destruction.

These two areas are far too complex certainly to be left to our politicians, or for that matter, exclusively to our industrial interests either, given their unbroken record of rapacious profiteering. In truth, the problems cross all ideological divides. It matters little if we are looking at a capitalistic, communistic, socialistic, or other mixtures of systems. But I only digress to illustrate the scope of the problems we must address if we are to survive and thrive as a species, without taking the entire ecostructure to irrevocable ruin.

The central theme of this discussion, going to the moon and exploring the other space frontiers, should all be considered carefully before we consider our multibillion dollar moves.

Please, someone with talent, creativity, and fresh ideas, join in. Or, short of that, if you know someone who would be of value in such a roundtable discussion, let them know that we are here. Or, rather, at the moment, that I am here.

Have we collectively become such a species of spectators, that nothing can induce us to stop lurking, and rise out of our lethargy enough to do something? Surely, some of you know someone of remarkable and unspecialized talent. Please point that person in this direction. I sure get sick of talking to myself.

You need no credentials here except your carefully reasoned ideas, communicated with a certain amount of care.
The subject is Inner and Outer Space. Certainly, given the events of recent decades, it is interesting enough to gather a group of motivated people.

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