Friday, December 23, 2016

Humanism and Cancer.


From a friend's facebook post:


I have enjoyed this medium for a long time. I love you all including the asses, but no longer want to socialize here. I'm going to stick with my kind as suggested. God help you in the future with this mess.

Build your silo and kick out the asses. It is a social media. Social groups have standards of membership or they can't survive. "They drew a circle that kept me out, Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout." (Edwin Markham) And I own that circle. They are not welcome. There are times when inclusiveness fails. I never liked the end of the complete quote, 

I am a radical humanist in that all people are initially included in the humanist circle. They can opt out if they wish by behavior incompatible with humanism. This does not mean they are not still human it just means that they may need to be controlled or eliminated humanely for the protection of humanism.

Humans and humanism are prone to cancerous growths. I did not hate the cancer that was destroying my vocal instrument. But it could not be allowed to do so. The only choice was to poison all rapidly dividing cells in my body, dangerous to be sure, and in fact nearly fatal, but it was a risk I had to take to continue to enjoy my instrument. 

The cancerous cells in humanism must be treated in the same way. Do what it takes to eliminate them even if it is dangerous. If they take over the body politic humanism will be dead anyway.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Stories and Tips about Traveling for a Living.

You know you travel too much when the receptionist at the airline club greets you at 6:30am with "I see it is Omaha this week," and hands you your boarding passes.  (Before TSA.) 

One thing I learned early on, was to stay at the same hotel chain and always ask for a right hand room.  That is the door is on the left and bed etc. on the right.  That way when you get up in the middle of the night to get rid of the used alcohol you know where the furnature is and don't run into it.  The other thing I learned was to unpack as soon as I got to the hotel, hide all the evidence that it is a hotel room, and turn it into home even if it is for one night. The familiar setup of the right hand room makes it easy to forget it is just another hotel room.

A fun NYC Blizzard memory was one I missed. I barely made a plane in Lincoln Nebraska when the gate agent asked if I wanted to spend the weekend in Lincoln or Chicago. I asked why and he said they have just shut down the entire East Coast. I called my favorite hotel at ORD and booked a room with key at Concierge Desk. They asked on Fri? Why. I told them EC shut down. Some shouting on the other end of the line. When I got to the concierge he said thanks to you we were able to keep the day shift on overtime, here is your key to the Luxury Suite as a reward. It was there I listened to Koch tell everybody to stay home and have a weekend party.

  

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Choral Fundamentals.



Choral singing whether 2 or a thousand if done beautifully demands brain synchronization on so many levels that a chorus is truly one voice.  This is certainly a genetic remnant from tribal societies or even before.  I am convinced that a good chorus hears the same music subconsciously moments before singing their part. Where this music comes from, the conductor, the lead singer, or the "ether" direct from the composer/arranger is at this point unknowable.  There are intelligent people that think that every thought or impulse from everyone living or dead is present in some space that is tuneable by the proper receiving brain, and music lends some credence to this for me, but I still don't believe it.  The music of the composer/arranger is somehow embedded in the score that the chorus can resonate with subconsciously as a group.  The melodies, the rhythms, the harmonies and the tempos are of course simply marks on some holder.  But when performed all come together to recreate the mind of the composer/arranger. 

To a lesser extent all music requires this synchronization but vocalization is so fundamental that it involves most of the brain.  All must be in sync with the composer/arranger   (Brava, Alice Parker) even if not physically present.  

Every good chorus I have sung with, and there have been many, has been an extremely tight social group where all members have liked and respected each other.  Years later they can reunite either individually or as a group and it as if no time has passed. The few outliers don't tend to last long no matter how well they sing.   

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Not Left Wing


http://fredrikdeboer.com/2015/05/18/the-not-left-wing-claim/

A decent and useful exposition of the traditional leftist positions. 

 

You don’t have to like me. You just have to believe I’m a human being.


http://www.theestablishment.co/2016/11/29/you-dont-have-to-like-me-you-just-have-to-believe-im-a-human-being/

The article above is an eloquent exposition of one the major tenets of humanism.  Once anyone, for any reason, becomes the enemy, the adversary, or in some sense other, and they forfeit humanity in the tribe or movement mores all hope for reconciliation is lost.  

You don't have to like herm or herm cause, but if you decide that hesh is less than human all that is left is hate.  And hate always leads to self-destructive actions.  You may oppose herm and resist as possible, or even ostracize herm if some reconciliation is impossible, but it is critical to remember that all are human, doing the best they can as they see it for humanity. 

It may be that another human or group of humans may opt out of the humanist circle by their behavior and it may be necessary to isolate them or eliminate them as humanely as possible, but they are and must remain human. 

Your enemy is never a villain in his own eyes.  Keep this in mind; it may offer a way to make him your friend.  If not you can kill him without hate -- and quickly.  Lazarus Long, Time Enough For Love, Robert A Heinlein, 1973. 

Identity Politics.


The problem with identity politics is not class but divisiveness. If Black Lives Matter were Marginalized Lives Matter they would have a much more saleable product. As soon as any group no matter how important their grievance is, puts that grievance against the rest of the world as special for their group the rest of the world will identify a similar grievance for a group and create an us vs. them situation. 

How about Victims of Law Enforcement Discrimination Matter Anyone jailed by a corrupt judge, stopped and frisked by a cop, was a victim of civil forfeiture, women stopped and propositioned by a cop, or a bunch of other things that disproportionately affect blacks and hispanics now have a common cause. Sure the most affected will lead the way but not draw attention to their group for discrimination.

Advocacy politics has a place but only when they make common cause with all in the same situation. If the Hispanic Caucus, and the Black Caucus and the poor feminists caucus were working with Warren, Sanders and others to break the banksters that prey on them all they would have a much stronger political story to tell. One of the reasons Black Lives do not matter is that for decades they have been redlined out of the middle class by the banksters. The enemy is not the white male supremacists or even the white supremacist cops, it is the banksters who kept blacks and to a lesser extent Hispanics and single women locked in the ghetto even when it is a nicer ghetto.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanksgiving Fables


As for the point in question here: yes, I know your dim memories of your 3rd grade history textbook is telling you that the first Thanksgiving was a happy union where the nasty Indians who had been capturing hapless Englishmen finally did something nice for once and helped the poor Pilgrims survive a harsh winter, but no, that didn't happen.

The actual history is that the first Thanksgiving feast was called by John Winthrop as a celebratory feast to welcome home the soldiers that had just massacred the entire Pequot tribe, who they'd declared war on because they wanted the land, and used as an excuse the fact that the Pequot had killed a slaver.

The original post on Facebook has been deleted. For the time being it will be unattributed.  But it is too good to pass up.

I learned a nicer version in my youth where the Pequots were not savages but recognized the plight of the innocent, distressed Pilgrims and set a feast before them.  Somehow Pocahantas was involved in the scene.  Not being a history buff by design especially in the third grade, the whitewash I learned remained as a nice fiction for the celebration. 


The family and friends dinner with thanksgivings common to all traditions became the focus of the holiday.  Almost as many thanksgiving fables were around the tables as there were people so the traditional ones were lost. 


Monday, November 14, 2016

The Jefferson Republic


The Unanimous Declaration of the States of the Jefferson Republic.

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all people are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these communities and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the party of the President  of the United States of America is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

They have limited the voting rights of all people by gerrymanders, voter ID laws, apportioning polling places to favored populations, and outright voter intimidation.

They have suppressed peaceful demonstrations of dissent with the improper use of military and police powers.

They have refused entry to the country based on religion and country of origin and have coerced legal immigrants to rescind their right of entry.  

They have abetted foreign interference in the election process of the country by foreign entities known to be enemies.  

They have given preference to nations in which the POTUS has existing business interests in violation of the emoluments clause of the Constitution.   

They have failed in their constitutional duties to fill vacancies in necessary judicial offices.

They have imposed religious law on secular citizens.

They have encouraged assault against women and minorities.

They have discriminated against minorities in law enforcement including but not limited to stop and frisk laws, escalating minor violations through unwarranted use of deadly force and draconian sentences to private prisons for minor infractions.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the Jefferson Republic as a result of an affirmative plebiscite by three fifths of all adult human residents of the individual states on the 18th, 19th, and 20th day of February in the year 2017 appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these States solemnly publish and declare, That these United States are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the Former United States of America and that all political connection between them and the Former United States of America, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

With Honor and respect to the Late Thomas Jefferson of the Virginia Colony.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pursuant to This Declaration

The Jefferson Republic will be governed according to the Constitution of the United States of America as interpreted by SCOTUS as of the 31st Day of August in the year 2005.  The Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission SCOTUS decision of the 21st day of January in the year 2010 is by this declaration null and void.  

All officials duly elected to State and Local offices shall continue in their duty to their constituents or resign their office.  Officials
duly elected to National offices of the United States of America will transfer their allegiance to the Jefferson Republic or resign as their conscience dictates. 

An election will be scheduled in the Jefferson Republic on November 11-12, 2017 with all human residents over the age of 18 years eligible to vote.  Voting will be preferential among all individual candidates for office.  Slates of officials pledged to specific candidates are specifically prohibited.  Election districts will be contiguous and boundaries will conform to natural geographic divisions and/or historical city and village boundaries.

Other states, and/or major metropolitan areas may elect to join the Jefferson Republic by an affirmative vote of three fifths of all residents over the age of 18 to abide by the currently existing laws of the Jefferson Republic at the time of the vote.     

 

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Solar Roof Tile Demonstration Project


Tesla has a perfect demonstration project for their cooperation with utilities right in their back yard.  There is a fallow suburban solar farm in West San Jose, Santa Clara, and Cupertino that is waiting to be developed.  

The area was developed as single family large homes in the 1950s and most of the homes are oriented east-west with large south facing pitched roofs many of which are in need of new roofing.  All are grid connected and there are several PG&E substations that can site industrial Powerpack load management systems to deal with the solar hockey stick in the evening.  

Tesla should combine with PG&E to offer free south roof replacement using the just announced attractive solar tiles.  Each roof would generate a large excess of peak power 263 (average per year) sunny days even if the homeowner is given free power in exchange for the roof easement.  Tesla and PG&E might also consider offering a Powerwall 2 to each homeowner to provide distributed management of the hockey stick peak reducing the distribution losses.  Off peak power and weather backup would still be provided by PG&E from current wind and conventional generation.  

The whole project could be phased in as tiles become available on a worst roof first basis, with early load managed installations heavily advertised by both Tesla and PG&E to build local and remote demand.  Note that as demand builds at any time the free could become reduced cost roofing replacement.

A suburban solar farm has none of the environmental, visual, and distribution issues of a remote solar installation, and the maintenance infrastructure is already in place.  

Update:  According to the recent pricing annoucement of $25-35K with powerwall storage and energy management system for a full roof solar system the system in West San Jose would not only provide free power for the life of the system but on sunny days would produce excess power in large quantities during the peak hours when commercial AC demand is highest.  Solar city could contract with the homeowner to purchase that excess power and resell it to PG&E providing another income stream for the homeowner.  Assuming the powerwall system could be managed to feed power into the system in the evening without jeopardizing night and rainy day reserves, still another revenue stream would be available to the homeowner through Solar City.  Elon Musk could now say "Not only will your roof look better, last longer, and power your house, it will also provide a revenue stream to help with other household expenses. Why would you choose any other replacement roofing?  In West San Jose the payback might be short enough that replacing a slightly worn roof might be an attractive investment.   

Disclaimer: I am a minor stockholder in Tesla and Solar City and am not a candidate for the program as I already have solar power. 

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Why Reading is Fundamental.

This post was stimulated by the following retweet.
Jonathan Korman
3 hrs · 

· 
Retweeted Naval Ravikant (@naval):
Text is precise, compact, indexable, transmissible, translatable, asynchronous & quick to absorb. Intelligent, busy people prefer text.
@naval is obviously talking about SMS text, but it is even more apt for extended texts. Please note the efficiency of a good tweet.  (If I had more time I might use Twitter.)
 


People have always asked me why I never got into movies, YouTube (except for music), or TV especially movies and TV shows based on books I have read and liked.
The most important reason is that I learned to read before I had even heard about movies and TV which hadn't become popular yet.  I read everything I could get my hands on. I once had a race down a school library book shelf with another reader friend of mine.  I had an adult library card at 8 yo. courtesy of my activist mother who went to bat for me at the local library which I used almost exclusively as the young adult section books were off limits to my elementary card.  I frequently strayed into the adult fiction section and found that I could learn about important social issues there more efficiently than in the news or the history sections.  A good fiction author must write believable stuff in order to sell no matter what the genre.

For me the most important advantage of text is that you must supply your own emotional context to text.  Visual and even aural media are designed to manipulate the emotional state of the consumer.  Humans are story driven, and the invention of writing gave readers much more control over the emotional impact of the story.  Not completely, of course, a good writer can influence the emotional content of his words, but the reader has a chance to process that emotional content at leisure if desired.

Another advantage of text is that it clearly indicates the intelligence, education, and sophistication of the writer by asynchronous textual analysis.  A speech or video may sound plausible, but analysis of the transcript is critical to evaluating the plausibility of the actor.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Stories as Dogma

The very best stories in the collected wisdom of the human race have several important things in common:
  • They always deal with important tribal mores, values and customs.
  • They are frequently told as "children's stories" although the target is the parents and mentors in the audience. 
  • Irony and frequently hyperbole are integral to the mnemonic.
The problem with these stories after they are collected into Holy Writ is that the irony and hyperbole is regarded as TRUTH™ and used by self-serving preachers to manipulate their followers in ways that would be abhorrent to the originators of the stories.   

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Symphonic Choruses

Community Chorus please, well all right, none of us are paid to sing with the SFCS, but amateur is the wrong description of the performers in the Chorus. 
It is a sad fact of life that symphonic choruses are a luxury that few symphonies can afford to support as fully paid performers.  They must be a large group to carry over the orchestration of most of the repertoire, and much of the repertoire including the Verdi Requiem is technically very difficult. Auditioned community choruses are the only way audiences can hear much of the repertoire and new symphonic works like last fall's Terra Nostra by Stacy Garrop,
Many of the singers are music graduates, and some are soloists in other settings particularly church choirs that have a professional quartet as the core. Hardly amateurs in the sense you beat us up with.  All are accomplished musicians able to work up a thrilling group sound that you and audiences can properly applaud on relatively few one day a week rehearsals.  We put in the time and usually money, because we think Symphonic Choral music deserves a place in the Classical music scene.  For the most part community choruses are the only way you will get it. 

Friday, August 19, 2016

The Future of Suburban Living

As the top 20% crowd into the cities, voluntarily as that is where all the good stuff is within walking distance including most of the jobs that support the top 20% what happens to the suburbs that they leave?  Property values crater, and it becomes reasonable for the bottom 80% to achieve the American Dream of suburban living.  Rents in the strip malls and local shopping centers crater along with the property values, and become affordable for bodegas, Dollar stores, and other services catering to the lower income groups.  Assuming existing transit is maintained, (roads don't matter) as travel outside the neighborhood is mainly for jobs serving the 20%.  The 20% will insure it is maintained as they don't use it anyway and they need the service people who are gentrified out of the city.  

The current suburban standard of 4-5 bedrooms and 2-3 baths will serve an extended family of many as well as it serves the current family of 3.  The family room or a big downstairs room will be turned into a dorm for the kids and the adults will occupy the 4-5 bedrooms.  The modern luxury kitchen will easily serve dozens as well or better than it serves 3.

One can expect the current suburban developments to become ethnic enclaves, since once the block is busted and prices crater further, friends and families will join the blockbuster and remake the development to serve their needs.  The fences will come down and the large backyards will connect to be a big playground for the neighborhood.

It is happening as we chat, many suburban neighborhoods and cities connected by transit to the urban core are now ethnic enclaves, and the white homeowners are taking the money and running while the money is still there.  The elderly to "Adult communities" and the working ethnics are blockbusting a new community for their ethnic group.  

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Illnesses of Older People.

I recently had to deal with a diagnosis of serious throat cancer.  The reflexive recommendation of the Tumor Board for cancer of this stage was Radiation Therapy and simultaneous Chemotherapy starting ASAP. Radiation Therapy for throat cancer has a known side effect of damage to the vocal chords, which as a lifelong singer with a concert coming up I could not allow. 

This dilemma caused me to pull together a lot of things that had been in the round tuit box for some time.  First and foremost get the Advanced Directive registered with my health provider.  Secondly figure out what my priorities for the rest of my life should be.  Cancer, like strokes, heart disease, and many other ailments are to old age what head and neck injuries, joint damage, and wounds are to younger people.  If it doesn't kill you, you have to decide what compromises you have to make to continue to live a meaningful life worth dying for.  In other words, get your living priorities articulated in a way that can be discussed with others that are significant in your life including your medical team.  

At 76 I am well aware that life is finite and death will come sooner or later, preferably much later but not at the cost of compromising those things that make life worthwhile.  While alive my priorities sorted out to be 
  1. Don't die.
  2. Live as you have enjoyed living most of your life, in my case keep singing among several other high priority activities that make up my daily life.  
  3. Deal with serious health issues in a way that keep the above in perspective.  
In my case once I convinced the tumor board that radiation was not an option, they recommended an accelerated and dangerous Chemo protocol that would allow me to sing the concert if it didn't kill me. Knowing the risks I elected the protocol which indeed almost killed me, but knowing the risks enabled good choices of emergency treatment which indeed enabled my singing the concert.       

And many more as it turned out the protocol worked beyond most medical expectations and at this point the tumor and metastases are gone according to the usual cancer scans.  There is nothing useful that medicine can do at this point but watch for a recurrence.