I became insane with long intervals of horrible sanity.
Edgar Allen Poe
The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.
- H. L. Mencken
Many people would sooner die than think; In fact, they do so
What I have been telling you, from alpha to omega, what is the one great thing the sigil taught me — that everything in life is miraculous. For the sigil taught me that it rests within the power of each of us to awaken at will from a dragging nightmare of life made up of unimportant tasks and tedious useless little habits, to see life as it really is, and to rejoice in its exquisite wonderfulness. If the sigil were proved to be the top of a tomato-can, it would not alter that big fact, nor my fixed faith. No Harrowby, the common names we call things by do not matter — except to show how very dull we are ...
-James Branch Cabell
February 26, 2015 - 10:17 a.m.
Why didn't I get up earliar today so I could finish this before going out? I have to leave at 10:40. It is now 9:50 and I have to get dressed in layers. I will try and write very fast. I used to be able to write a blog in 20 minutes. of course I was happy writing only 400 words then.
The first part (oh god there are going to be parts and I want to write this in a half an hour or so?) is back to my adventures with health care. I forgot something important in my account of my doctor visit. I got vaccinated, three shots! Pneumonia, Influenza, and TDaP (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis). He asked me if I were left or right handed then made sure to give one of them, I think flu, in my left arm and the other two in my right. The theory is that one can be painful so they put it in your weak arm. I remember having this once before when I had just Pneumonia and Influenza and the wrong one hurt. Guess what, the wrong one hurt. I felt nothing when he gave the shots but that night I woke up with lots of pain in my right arm. It still hurts quite a bit but it's getting better. My body 8is weird.
Yesterday I trekked back up to 114th street for my blood tests. Remember how I raved over how good the receptionist at the doctor's office was? That's how bad the one in the lab was. He wouldn't make eye contact or say an unnecessary word to me. He wouldn't say a necessary word too. I go in and their was one person sitting down and he was pretty much doing nothing. He didn't greet me and ask what I wanted. I tried to talk to him about the furniture being rearranged since the day before and he wouldn't respond at all. I took out the sheet with the test orders and he asked me if I have my insurance card. I said no The said to fill in my address on it then he walked away. I took the form back and sat down and waited. And waited some more. Another person came in. She was taken before me. Finally the tech came out to see if there were any patients. He looked at me and still didn't say a word. Finally I asked if there was something wrong He then asked if I had my paperwork I said yes it's right here? He asked if I had my insurance card. I said, "We already went through that and I don't." He asked again if I had my insurance card. Yes he couldn't hold his attention long enough to hear me say more than yes or no. We finally worked it out and I had my blood drawn. He never apologized. I waited there 30 minutes when there was just one person in front of me..
They took six vials of blood. Perhaps they are really vampires. Drawing blood doesn't bother me in the least. I have very easy veins to access. They get me the first shot ever time.
When I go I exit the 115th street exit of the station and walk a block south. You can't enter there, you have to go in at 116th street right by the Columbia University entrance so I walked back through the campus. That's so much nicer. Then I went straight home. that was my day's excursion. So what's part two?
So you might hve noticed that it isn't the morning anymore. I went for my weekly meeting with Carolann. A lot has happened that I want to write about but I'm going to save that for tomorrow. Otherwise I'll have nothing to write about.
So back to part two. So you know how I always tell you how I love reading Terry Pratchett because he gets it? The Discworld books takes place in a nice sensible universe where the world sits on the backs of four giant elephant that stand on the world turtle, the Great A'Tuin.
I am getting the same feeling reading Dreams of a Final Theory: The Scientist's Search for the Ultimate Laws of Nature by Steven Weinberg. It's so nice to read somebody who put in words exactly how I feel. Oh and this is a science book, not science fiction, by a Nobel Prize winning physicists and one of my personal heroes, my favorite living scientist. Yes I have a favorite living scientist.
He does what great writers I connect with do, he puts things in words that I've always felt strongly but couldn't put my finger on. The big one is the unity of science. It all fits together. There are not facts out of left field. What he means by a "final theory" is one that could theoretically explain everything other than historical accidents, even if as a practical matter you can't do it. The best example is that we know that in theory we could derive all of chemistry from particle physics given enough computing power.
Things that are not part of the unity of science, that involve ad hoc natural laws unrelated to the others are suspect. He gives this example. What if there were a study of two treatments for scrofula, chicken soup and the touch of a king. A little background, it's a disease sometimes known as "King's Evil." It was once believed to be cured by the touch of a king. Now let's say studies were done and both treatments gave the same statistical significance. We'd still heavily favor the chicken soup as we can see how it's possible that the combination of the many good things in chicken soup could help fight a disease. That the touch of a king could defies the rest of science. How does the bacteria know he's a king?
In the same way he dismisses telekinesis and astrology. They'd have to work in ways totally outside of the rest of science. It's why everyone should be extremely skeptical of homeopathy and acupuncture. The theories behind them have no connection with established theory. They are totally ad hoc.
I have to debate these things with so many people and Weinberg expressed what my objections are better than I ever did. He showed that not only is there a unity in science but a unity in the objections to pseudoscience.
I was going to say that I learned something I didn't know about the history of physics but I didn't. I was right and Weinberg wrong! WooHoo I knew something a Nobel Prize winner got wrong. OK it wasn't actual physics. He said that Erwin Schroedinger was the one that showed the mathematical equivalence of his wave mechanics and the matrix mechanics of Werner Heisenberg. Notwithstanding Heisenberg I was certain it was John von Neumann. I was so certain I'd bet somebody's life on it. Not my life of course. But I don't just mean someone the world would be better without, like the leader of Boko Haram or Jackson Browne. No I'd bet the life of some random guy. I was that sure. And I just did some research and found I was right! You can read about it here, A brief history of the mathematical equivalence between the two quantum mechanics . You don't have to actually read that if you don't want to. I'm just trying to cite my sources.
I'm feeling very good now as I got some very good news today that I'm withholding till tomorrow. Yes this is a teaser. Details at 11.
I’m a total idiot. I forgot to post this. Now it's the next day. So that good news is coming whenever I finish my writing it.
Annoying People - September 03, 2016
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