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, October 15, 2007

Dissection Notes - Eye #2

This eye, stored a day and a half longer than the first eye, had lost some interior pressure. Puzzling because it had been immersed in cool coconut oil and there was no sign of leakage into the oil that I could find.

This time I made an incision at the limb of the iris. Here too, I couldn't detect the capsular membrane of the lens. The lens was clear and had held it's shape. I suspended it in cool water for a couple of days.

After a day, it developed some filamentous appearing debris at the equator. Other than that, it was still clear. By the next day, it had clouded and developed a spontaneous fracture. I had expected it to swell during this time. It did not swell much but the opacity indicated two things. There had been water absorbed, and paradoxically this had apparently clouded the lens. This implied that the aqueous humour was buffered in some way or that the capsular membrane or some other mechanism prevented excess absorption of moisture while the eye was living.

I had something lined up for the aqueous and vitreous humours, but unexpected guests showed up. What is the opposite of serendipity?

Friday, October 12, 2007

Dissection notes - Eye #1

Upon dissection this eye had been immersed in coconut oil and brought to about 50F for a day. My objective was to examine the eye from the rear after quartering the retina into four quadrants and laying the flaps back to expose the interior. I used a standard scalpel with a #21 blade.

Prior to the incisions, the eyeball was still quite firm. There was no cloudiness in any portion of the interior. I laid back the flaps exposing the vitreous humour. I was holding the eyeball in a cutaway ping pong ball so that it would hold its' shape when the cuts were made. This worked very nicely.

The vitreous humour, the lens, and the aqueous humour were still quite crystal clear. However, there was a bit of leakage of black pigment smearing into the vitreous humour from the interior surface of the eyeball adjacent to the cuts I had made. I had not noticed this pigment in the eyes of other animals. Interesting, but not enough so that I was going to be distracted for long from the lens, my central interest.

I swabbed these darkenings away with some cotton swabs, trying not to disturb the integrity of the rest of the vitreous humour. It was about of the consistency of the stiffer portion of the white of a very fresh chicken egg. I lifted the eye out of the ping pong ball and examined the image that came through. It was not appreciably out of focus and would have probably cleared up entirely if I had smoothed the surface of the exposed vitreous humour with a microscope slide cover and then laid it on the surface, but I didn't have one handy.

Most of the structures of the eye are tougher and more durable than you would guess. Eventually I removed a large portion of the vitreous humor with a plastic spoon. It really held its' form pretty well, but probing and prodding caused some liquefaction due to the mechanical breakdown of some of the invisible microfibers within. I had expected the capsular membrane to be tougher than it was.

I was particularly interested in observing the interface between the zonules and the membrane of the lens capsule. No such luck. The membrane had apparently spontaneously ruptured. I did not think that I had done anything severe enough to cause that during the dissection. I can only guess that it must have occurred during the time that I was removing the eye from the skull, or at the rather traumatic moment of the death of the buck.

I was a bit disappointed about the membrane, but my central interest was the lens. In its' totally relaxed state, it was quite globular, slightly flatter on the posterior face, much thicker in cross section than one would imagine. It was closer to marble shaped than lens shaped. Clearly, without the influence of the zonules and capsular membrane, the lens was not really what we usually think of as lens shaped. I put it aside, immersed in some tepid coconut oil. I wanted to play with the iris, which was quite durable and resilient.

I should mention that the pupil opening is very round, but the periphery of the iris is oval. This is why you see no white of the eye even when the deer's eye is wide open.

The next thing I wanted to do was to try to drill a hole in the lens using a conventional drillbit (1/16") by hand. It went through the lens nicely but when I removed the drill, the hole filled in. Mechanically drilling a hole in a gel was a long-shot, but I still needed to give it a try. I then did some other destructive testing of the lens until there was little left to play with.

That's about it. I decided to think a while before doing the other eye. No sense in repeating the same procedures. Not much learning in that. More later.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Brief Notes On Eyeball Dissections

These are some notes on the dissection of a pair of fresh eyeballs removed under field conditions from a yearling buck which died in my front yard early yesterday morning.

The first step of course, was to remove the eyeballs from the skull. The objective was to get the eyeballs out of the orbits of the skull without doing damage to the integrity of the entire eyeball. I wanted the vitreous humour, the aquous humour and the lens, capsule, iris and zonules to remain intact and undisturbed.

It was quite dark so I was working with a headlamp and a flashlight. I wanted to work quite quickly because I live within the city limits technically and cars were going by now and then. I was in no mood for the local police to come out amid flashing blue lights and so on. I figured I had about a half hour to finish the task and move the deer to a more discreet location. I was working alone, my wife and my manservant Ichabod being sound asleep and pretty well useless for this kind of thing anyway. Ichabod particularly, has for several years had an extreme aversion to blood. Otherwise he could have been quite useful and I could have hung the deer over a branch by his hindquarters, gutted the animal and slit it's throat.

But that was lower priority than the eyes. I would salvage the rest of the deer after the sun came up. I also was not partial to the notion of having a big pile of organs and guts and puddles of thickening blood in the front yard anyway. My tool were few; My hunting knife, some spoons, some small paper cups of coconut oil, and a pair of pliers. I would let the local meat packer do the rest with the buck when they opened up later in the morning.

I poured some eyewash on the first eye, followed by a bit of coconut oil. I oiled up one of the spoons, slid it under the top lid of one of the eyes, forcing the conjunctiva back with the leading edge of the spoon until I could feel it hit the optic nerve bundle. If I had had some time, I would have simply sharpened the spoon edge with a file or a sharpening stone. I could then have simply slid the sharpened edge back and forth against the nerve bundle until it was severed. Then it would be a simple matter of slicing away the various rectus and oblique muscles to release the eyes from the sockets.

Now that the spoon tip was up against the nerve bundle, quite a tough rope-like nerve cluster of about 1/8 inch diameter, I needed to slide my knife behind the spoon to get the point to the nerve cluster. It is quite resistant to being cut, even though I keep my hunting knife pretty sharp. The cluster was pierced by the knife point perhaps eight times before I could get the pliers on the bundle and tear it loose. The eye now came out of the socket very nicely. I repeated the same procedure with the second eye. One interesting feature I noticed was that, unlike the human eye, these irises were not round. They were quite oval shaped.

I immersed each eye in its' own oil bath. I then dragged the buck onto my truck and parked it back by the barn and went to bed. Which is what I am going to do now. If anyone is interested, I will include notes on the further dissection of the eyes themselves tomorrow or the next day.

War & Conflict

This was something I said on Modern War and Conflict, a blog that I randomly fell into.

I am in substantial agreement with your comments. I am concerned that we look too hard for cyclic patterns in history though. It is of course very useful to examine patterns, in science, and in life and human affairs. But we should not lose sight of the fact that patterns stop.
The old popular notion of the dialectic nature of history led us in some very self-deluding directions. There was no protection back in 1962 in having a bomb shelter in the back yard, or a six month supply of water and dehydrated food.

We still came within a hair's breadth of destroying the planet and 99+% of all terrestrial life on it.

When that was avoided, we all heaved a sigh of relief. Or at least it seemed so. In truth though, the world stayed just as dangerous. And erroneous propaganda on all sides made matters much worse.

Otherwise intelligent people generated such notions as "duck and cover" to give our school children the feeling that they could defend themselves in some fashion against the nuclear war that seemed quite inevitable.

Nuclear war may indeed be inevitable, but it is unlikely to be of the same sort as we envisioned then. For example, we comfort ourselves that we have not had active use of nuclear weapons since Japan. Not exactly so. I am going to leave this one up in the air... What am I talking about? Any ideas?

We now concern ourselves with the emergency represented by global warming, the rather paradoxical possibilities of the North Atlantic Climate switch affecting the ocean currents, which are central to driving the global climate.

A variety of other systems are very much out of whack as well, causing an unparalleled global runaway extinction. These various influences are NOT cyclic in the sense we think we can see.

It is useful to see patterns when they are there. But it is very dangerous to imagine patterns to be there which are not. I will expand on this further if engaged.

Although I have some interest in tactics and strategy, my focus is on problem recognition and solution accross a wide spectrum of systems in the ecostructure.

The enemy is not opposing geopolitical views and interests. The enemy is ignorance masquerading as intelligence, dogma and fanaticism masquerading as truth.

My blog deals with ideas as diverse as influenza, cataracts, longevity, but more importantly, looking at the inter-relationships between problems which may not even seem to be related.

You are welcome to come over and see what you think. We can even talk about war or politics by other means if you want, but let's do our best not to get too carried away.

I have research and development going on a variety of different fronts, but I do look forward to looking through your archives as time permits. Perhaps you are a chess player?

Sunday, October 07, 2007


Innovation does not run smoothly. It is a jumpy, lurching kind of activity. What is more, success, continuously sought, is often the enemy. Let me see if I can demonstrate what I am saying.

Over the past couple of decades, great changes have occurred in surgical cataract correction. These changes have resulted in considerable improvement in outcomes. As a result, other options are not considered. If there are other reasonable means of stabilizing or reversing cataracts, they are not means that are attractive to eye surgeons.

An eye surgeon is not going to get wealthier by telling us that we should pay more attention to what we eat and drink, that more of what we drink should be water and less should be alcohol.

I am told that most of us are seriously sleep deprived, often getting hours less than we need. Sleep “medications” are ubiquitous, both over the counter and by prescription. Then, when we awaken, we use stimulants like coffee, tea, and energizing chemicals to get us through the day.

Even our children are in the same sort of mess. They are very often drugged for attention deficit and hyperactivity, or labeled autistic and put into special education programs. What are some of the results? We now have a whole class of new “patients.” The children who were given Ritalin (a cocaine-like stimulant) to help them behaviorally in school, have become ADHD adults, and the “medication” continues.

But let us return to the subject of eyes. About four decades ago, I invented a useful device to discover monocular visual behavior in young children in groups. In other words, you could screen a lot of children all at the same time. This seemed to me to be the most useful feature of the device.

Yet, when I presented it to a variety of optometrists, it was this element which was most troubling to them. They were set up in business to deal with one patient at a time. Of the several optometrists that I demonstrated the device to, none was enthusiastic about changing their niche of dealing with only one patient at a time.

As an inventor, I was mystified by this negative reaction, and eventually disgusted by the optometrists, at least by those I talked to. Of course, one can’t judge an entire profession by the responses of a random handful. Even so, they were exhibiting a very self-serving perspective.

The point is, the device worked very well. No one denied that. The problem was that no one was interested in screening groups of children. And of course other existing equipment was already on hand in the doctor’s office which could identify monocular traits one on one. And that is how the business of medicine has always been set up.

Problems with the outrageous costs of medical care, or services simply being unavailable for vast numbers of people, is not just confined to the United States. And it is not just the fault of the doctors. They just benefit much more visibly than the other complicit components in the system; hospitals, insurance companies and the pharmaceutical industry.

Maybe you are one of the many who feel that the health industry is honest and above-board. Perhaps you missed the story in the news just this past week , in which Bristol-Myers Squibb (a Fortune 500 company) was fined five hundred and fifteen million dollars for their misdeeds. More than a half BILLION dollars. As far as I can tell, none of this money is going back to any of the consumers who were damaged by the practices of the company. It is very hard to track what state and federal authorities are going to get this money and in what amounts, but the total amount that they have paid or agreed to pay in the past few years is actually more than 1.25 billion dollars. Surely some of that total amount has been restitution to stockholders and class action settlements. But a lot of this penalty had to do with unlawful marketing and pricing practices. Marketing practices in which large numbers of physicians played an active role, profiting substantially in a variety of ways.

It has been suggested that I have it in for doctors. Not true. But the conditioned reflexes that we have been programmed with; that we must go for a regular check-up every year, and that by the time we are fifty, we should have a doctor jam a camera up our rectum to see if everything is all right. Or that by the time women are fifty, they should already have had a couple of mammograms and several cervical smears. There is no argument. Lives are saved by these diagnostic procedures.

There is also no argument that lives are lost because these procedures are, one way or another, far more expensive than they need to be, making them financially impossible for many people who could benefit.

I went to a Health Fair a number of years ago. One of the services they provided was a comprehensive blood analysis for $10. Since I had not been to the doctor for two decades, I thought that was a good idea. I got the blood work. And although nothing was wrong, I was glad that I did it. But if I had gone to a private physician and been tested in the same fashion, the bill would have exceeded ten times that figure. What made the difference? Economies of scale and mass production techniques, and the fact that the Health Fair was designed to reach people who could not afford or were otherwise resistant to the extreme expense of conventional medical services.

Now, because my eyesight is going downhill, I have taken an interest in cataracts. Depending on whose figures you want to believe, the typical surgical intervention to deal with a cataract costs $3500 to $5000.

Now contrast this with the work of Dr. Sandik Ruit, an ophthalmologist from Nepal. A few years ago he went to North Korea and in the course of less than two weeks, performed in excess of a thousand cataract operations. He did it with a very small staff of helpers and trained some North Korean doctors while he was at it. The net cost for these operations even when the prorated cost of his portable medical equipment is taken into account, was well under $40 per eye. Now Dr. Ruit practices in the high countries like Nepal and Tibet and charges a sliding scale of $10 to $100 for the operation, depending on ability to pay. The point is, the actual cost for the operation and all materials needed is actually very, very low.

Okay, now compare: I went to an optometrist in Texas. He charged me and my insurance something in excess of two hundred dollars for his half hour of testing. Then I went to an ophthalmologist, whose staff did some additional testing. Her office workers took about forty minutes with me, screwing up a bit along the way. Then the ophthalmologist popped in and had a quick look, ignored some important details on my intake form, and scheduled me for cataract surgery.

The total cost for this one hour of services? Something over $400. And the operation itself? That will be another $3500+. Now I suspect that I would ultimately get a better lens, perhaps slightly better matched to my individual needs than those that the Korean patients got, but really, there is no way to check that. I will get the result that I get. I have about 19 chances out of 20 to have better eyesight without too many complications. But that means I have 1 chance in 20 of being blinder than I was, or even totally blind in that eye.

Meanwhile, the prevailing opinion among the ophthalmologists is that these odds are very good. I am inclined to agree, unless I am the one in twenty for whom things don’t work out.

It is claimed almost universally that only surgery can deal with cataracts. For me, the jury is still out on that. From my perspective, ophthalmologists have too much to gain and too little to lose, to consider the less invasive options. These would include changes in nutrition, changes in eye behavior (exercises), changes in hydration, changes in the amount of sleep we get, and other lifestyle considerations. From the physicians perspective, the patient can not really be trusted to do much to help himself. Otherwise he would have already done it.

We have only to look around us to find evidence that this is so. Obesity is of epidemic proportions. Alcohol and drug use is widespread. Tobacco addiction is not as universal as it once was, but it is still a very serious problem. Our food supply is far from healthful.

Just this week, an American meat packer recalled 22 million pounds of ground meat patties, then promptly went out of business. There were not enough assets to pay for the recall. So who pays? And what is the ultimate fate of over twenty million pounds of (possibly) tainted meat? It seems like only a month or so since there was a nationwide recall of American spinach greens.

Many of us have taken losses because of the Chinese adulteration of pet foods with a poisonous substance added to increase the protein content. Other Chinese products, like toothpaste adulterated with antifreeze, children’s toys painted with lead-based paint, cribs that have killed babies because of design and assembly defects, are probably the tip of the iceberg.

So what could possibly have caused this mess, in which we have somehow become so dependent on Chinese labor and products that we cannot do without them? In the course of my lifetime, we have gone from total isolationism, fear and hatred on both sides, to mutual economic exploitation in trade. But the fear and hatred are still right under the surface. At the moment, we are probably one of China’s biggest customers. This reverse in policy took only a few decades. Few of us even noticed it happening. All those years we were castigating the Chinese for rampant human rights abuses, we were consuming the cheap products that those abuses produced. With each passing year, we become more entangled in this international trade with partners we cannot trust, but can no longer do without.

We are really in the same situation with our medical-pharmaceutical-insurance industries as well, aren’t we? They are plundering us and have been for so long that most of us cannot even see that it is happenning. What is the solution? Perhaps there isn't a perfect solution. But perhaps it would be a start if we each took a whole lot more responsibility for understanding how our bodies work, and took a whole lot more responsibility for dealing with our own ailments, rather than putting ourselves so entirely in the hands of this group of self-proclaimed experts.

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