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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

My loony forum (continued)

For Doctor John.
Shop talk. (JP, mea culpa, but you're not here, and it looks like dink is on vacation too...)

Three years ago when I got sucked into the maelstrom of a major spiritual crisis, I was wallowing in self pity and surfing from Internet site to Internet site, reading about the newest in treatment of schizophrenia, and psychosis, and the whole bit. And I hooked up with a big French public forum on health care that I promptly proceeded to get tossed out of (wonder why, right, Dinky ??), but fortunately there was a handful of people who appreciated my.. cantakerousness, my honesty, my ability to call a spade a spade, to disturb the peace, and they invited me onto a private forum where I have been writing and working ever since.

This is a democratic forum. I don't pull rank (very often, at any case...). I participate alongside of the others. I offer my advice. I encourage. I hold hands. I even occasionally tell off. (Yes, that can happen...) I offer these people my rather unique point of view.. that of someone who willingly hangs out with them, and takes great pleasure in their company (most of them). And... I reveal to them what is going on in the heads of the couch crowd.
I am a firm believer in democracy (I can already hear Thai's disbelief...). Even if I sometimes get nostalgic for the Ancien Regime (the ideal of the Ancien Regime, not the reality of it...).
I tell them that what is going on in their heads is not too far away from what is going on in the heads of their shrinks, and the people who are taking care of them.
I remind them that it is proverbial to say... "it takes one to know one".
That there are good reasons why we say "it takes one to know one".
That the people who hang out with people who are labeled "mentally ill" have their own personal, private agenda for "taking care of", for "protecting" the vulnerable "mentally ill".
I tell them that we live in a society that is obsessed with autonomy when we come into the world naked, mewing, and our dependancy just shifts places, moves around with time.
I tell them that we live in an incredibly punitive society where, as more and more people can't make ends meet by working, and are whiling away their existences in hand to mouth fashion, the more and more privileged few who have jobs take out their incredible agressivity, and unhappiness by pointing fingers at those who are more vulnerable, and cannot keep up the inhuman pace of all of this.
I tell them that they are not worthless louts because they are not working, or because they are vulnerable.
I bolster their opinions of themselves, WHILE ENCOURAGING THEM SOMETIMES to do something about their situations IF THEY ARE UNHAPPY IN THEM.
I tell them that in a society where we have accepted as a religion that full employment is not possible, WHY SHOULD THEY NECESSARILY FEEL GUILTY ABOUT NOT HAVING A JOB ?
When the machines have destroyed work, when people with literary, artistic bents are laughed at, and scorned.. WHY SHOULD THEY FEEL GUILTY ABOUT DROPPING OUT ?
So I tell them... WHY NOT take your allocation, for example, and PRODUCE in an immaterial way ?
You can be "productive" without producing something for the numbers charts...
You can "produce"... tenderness. Joy. You can "produce".. a smile.
And I have learned that beating people around the head while telling them that they SHOULD be doing this and that is really counterproductive. Playing on guilt produces more guilt which produces more guilt.
And... they stay in the same ruts...
This is NOT WHAT WE WANT, right ???
That's all for now...
Everybody is doing MUCH MUCH better.
And... at least they feel better. The first step, I say.
AND... they are taking fewer drugs. They are looking for competent therapists, and not pill pushers, or chart readers.
Good... JOB, right ?
I almost forgot... my goal. My priority... To teach them how to think critically.
To question their prejudices. To question.. MY prejudices too.
Pretty much the same.. goal I have here.
While having fun, of course...

Monday, March 29, 2010

Mary and The Problem of Qualia or John and His Ketchup Problem

On the tail of Dink's last post on layers and our discussion of consciousness I thought I might offer what I have felt to be perhaps the most compelling argument against complete understanding of such experiential phenomena. It was first put forth by the philosopher of mind Frank Jackson in the early 1980's. This is a thought experiment so we must have a bit of latitude with it. It goes like this: Mary is born. From the second she exits the birth canal she lives only and is raised only in a world without color. She is not allowed outside nor is she exposed to anything but black and white indoors. Mary is a very bright child and is educated by those who care for her. Again this education takes place through a black and white TV and in a room with no color. Mary is an exceptionally bright child. Her teachers teach her EVERY conceivable bit of information about color. She is an expert in optics and the behavior of light and acquires all that can possibly understood about how color is created in the eye and transmitted to the brain. Again on every level there is no more physical information about the process of colors being created and visualized by human beings that Mary can absorb. Her understanding of the physical process of human color visualization is complete. After this occurs, Mary is released out into the yard behind the place where she has been raised and acquired her complete knowledge on color. She visualizes color for the first time after. Just prior to her experience of color she has already acquired all possible knowledge about the process of color experience but can it be said that Mary really knows everything about the perception of color before she goes into the yard? Change the story to a boy named Dr John who is not nearly as bright but instead has devoted his life to the the study of ketchup and the physiologic process of the taste sensation of it. Again, can it be said that John knows everything about ketchup until he has experienced it? And than after what can both Mary or John offer to others in regards to truly shared knowledge about what their experience "is" and what it is to see color or taste ketchup ? ....It was good for me. I hope it was for you. John

Sunday, March 28, 2010


So with Thai baking in AZ I think I'll step up as the fractal prophet for a while.

I worry that when people think of fractals that they think of Legos. A rectangular Lego piece is the base unit, a rectangular train car made out of these units is a large and more complex replication, and a giant rectangular train car made of base train cars is the next and similar level of complexity.

Its not wrong, its just not impressive. And the concept really can be mind-blowing.

You start with base unit of elements. They have their octet and charge rules. But once carbon and hydrogen get mixing up for some crazy length molecules we enter a new level.

These organic molecules start have their own rules and eventually settle down into something stable.

Nervous systems develop on top of that.

Then consciousness.

Then groups of sapients working in cohesion.

There may be patterns in the rules/systems of each level that are similar to the other levels (therefore fractal). But the difference in complexity is astounding. And we really need to take care of the "supporting" levels (i.e. Earth) if we want to enjoy the benefits of our current level of complexity (Netflix).

New subject- Dr John mentioned in his last comment the need to embrace community. Cooperation is another big Thai theme. So Saturday I go to a local parade. Shins bruised from countless strollers, dozens of bassett hounds dressed in costume, local crafts (I am not paying $40 for a tye-dye t-shirt!), high school marching bands, and firemen making pancakes. People are strange, but I generally like them.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Magiquest Thing in the World

Last night when I came back home after my daily loaf, I was blown away by the comments here.
Yep, the blog has gone into warp drive. That's great.
After the initial giddy exhilaration of the banter, I started to feel the need to... grip the sides of a capsizing boat.
Dinky tells me that "over there" where you are, REASONABLE PEOPLE say things in an "elegant STRAIGHTFORWARD manner, and "get to the point".
I SAY... that that is the erector set way of doing things.
I CAN do things the erector set way, but perso, I don't find that very much fun. Not very.. CREATIVE. BUSINESSLIKE, yes. "EFFICIENT" ? Maybe. But just not FUN.
And I'm the kind of person who likes to have my cake and eat it too, and.. AS LONG AS I CAN HAVE MY CAKE AND EAT IT TOO without wresting it away from my neighbor... why not ?

So... here goes at doing on this blog ONE of the things that I like to do, and do well (well, most of the time).

(Don't worry, the magiquest thing is going to come up at one point or another in this post. Learn to be patient.)

Yesterday Thai stuck a comment over there in the jungle (by the way, Doctor John, in all fairness, you should check out the jungle, Sudden Debt (( so you can thank ME the way I thank Thai for opening up the doors on blogouniverse)). A link to a piece of innuendo about the current financial situation. And last night, Thai gave us yet another piece, complete with photo.
... (not)computation... The light bulb flashes...
HEY, Thai has just woke up to the fact that it's spring outside !! The time of the year when the little birds are singing, the ducks are chasing after each other, you get the point. (The lyrical poets do this much better than I. I will stick down ANOTHER post by Will while Thai is gone... Well, when I WANT to, I can write poetry that is a LITTLE better than a pale copy of John Donne. If you're extra special good on this blog, maybe I will stick one of my lyric poems down. But you're going to have to make progress in patience before.)
Spring has a definite relation to the magiquest thing in the world.
And point of view, too..
The magiquest thing in the world from MY point of view, is that thing that is not a thing, that thing that is sometimes high, sometimes low, that thing that (sometimes) is so big that I can't hold it in my hand, and other times is so small that it is like a featherless baby sparrow, just demanding my crooning mothering. That thing that is a tangible link between me and my man, and without which we would not get or be together.
Pretty magic, huh ?? What did I say ? Magiquest.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Structural Linguistics 101

Before you zap because this is dry, dusty stuff...
Have I got a scoop for you..
Today I'm going to do better than Wiki for you.
In a comment on Okie's last post, I told him that "it all hangs together".
That sounds mystico-religious to most of you, but verily I say unto you, it is NOT JUST mystico-religious. If you want to, you can also connect to this from a scientific point of you. It depends on... how much of an open mind you have. Let's see.
A little while ago I did a post on synchrony/diachrony, which are also concepts coming from structural linguistics. Recap : for any given phenomenon, you can look at it from two different points of view (at least, but I'm interested in these two here). Diachrony, which is a way of situating it in history. Like, for example examining the way fiat money has evolved OVER A LONG PERIOD OF TIME. And, you can look at fiat money NOW, in our society (synchrony). And I said that these points of view are like axes, an ordinate and an abcissa. In order to get the WHOLE picture, you have to examine phenomena from BOTH POINTS OF VIEW. Under these conditions... PERSPECTIVE opens up.

Next chapter.

We are going atomic in language.
Let's start with this little paradigm. (I'm looking at oral language, and at sounds.)


Take a look at the first two "words". Both of those words are different.
The first sound and the last sound in each of those two words is the same. (I have held them constant, see, just like in a scientific experiment ?)
But there is a difference, and you can tell it.
The answer is in the question : the difference BETWEEN.
You are comparing those two words, and you hear the difference in that middle sound, the vowel sound. Bravo. You knew the DIFFERENCE. Almost automatically.
Let's go on to the second and third word.
Compare again. You hear the difference again. This time it is not in the vowel sound, but in the initial consonant. You were comparing again.
Third and fourth. You're picking up quickly. This time the DIFFERENCE is in the final consonant.
This is the atomic level. So that you can understand how you understand with the MOST ELEMENTAL BUILDING BLOCKS, what are called phonemes in the jargon.
Now.... if I take away that little paradigm, constructed that way, how do you know which word is which, when you are listening, which word fits ?
You know it because you have the SYSTEM in your head, and you are constantly comparing the SOUND YOU HEAR (the one PRESENT) to all the other ABSENT sounds that are part of the system, but that are possible. And dink ? There are complicated rules that determine which sound fits where. Not all sounds are possible everywhere, but... you KNOW this. Without ever having learned it in a book either...
Pretty nifty, huh ? Just at the most elemental level, it is ALREADY ASTOUNDINGLY COMPLEX.
And you see that in order for you to be able to TELL THE DIFFERENCE, all the sounds are in relation, they are all OPPOSED to each other in a particular way. Without this opposition, YOU CAN'T TELL THE DIFFERENCE, and what you hear is mumbo jumbo.
Let's go to the molecular level.
John drinks Coca Cola.
Mary drinks Coca Cola.
Mary sells Coca Cola.
Mary sells French bread.
Now.. that looks like what you saw at the atomic level, doesn't it ?
It is the most basic structure of all the Indo European languages : subject/verb/object.
With this basic structure, and with VARIATIONS on this structure, I CAN GENERATE ALL OF THE SENTENCES IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE.
Pretty nifty, huh ?
And I can even generate sentences like...
The cat ate the tree.. or
The car drank Coca Cola.
Pretty nifty too, huh ?
That's a big problem, those sentences...
For RATIONAL people. Perso, I think they're fun. And humbling..
I'll let YOU draw the conclusion...
(For you, Thai sweetie. You've been asking for this one for a while, right ? ;-) )

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Welcome Doctor John !!!!

This is a big moment for me...
I am pleased to announce the arrival of a NEW PERSON (well, at least a new person who has grabbed the micro...) to our saloon.
A transfuge from another blog.
Papieren, bitte ?
No, just kidding. You don't need a passport to join us here on this blog (one of the advantages that comes along with (as a result of ??) the jettisonning of all barriers to the transfer of capital, I guess...).
Over here on my loony forum (up and running again, DIFFERENT FROM BEFORE, but still a hell of an experiment in democracy), we stick up a photo of a red carpet being rolled down a magnificent staircase that looks like it could be in a palace...
Here on this blog, where we are all "normal"... we are not quite as civilized as my friends on my loony forum. (Or we WOULD be able to stick up photos of red carpets, don't ask me, I am a total loser with computers.)
But that's ok. I'm still pretty excited that somebody new has decided to push the door.
For however long it lasts...
One little teaser on the responsibilities of the individual in a group effort.
At a certain point it becomes hubris to assign TOO MUCH responsibility to the individual.
Hubris, like that little castration problem that Freud mentioned as being the ultimate obstacle involved in analytic work at the end of the cure. Like... I'M the EXCEPTION to all the rules.
Dink will appreciate, I'm sure.
Welcome on board, Doctor John.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Problem With High Fructose Corn Syrup

A new study out from Princeton University lends new evidence that High Fructose Corn Syrup leads to inordinate weight gain.

A Princeton University research team has demonstrated that all sweeteners are not equal when it comes to weight gain: Rats with access to high-fructose corn syrup gained significantly more weight than those with access to table sugar, even when their overall caloric intake was the same.

In addition to causing significant weight gain in lab animals, long-term consumption of high-fructose corn syrup also led to abnormal increases in body fat, especially in the abdomen, and a rise in circulating blood fats called triglycerides. The researchers say the work sheds light on the factors contributing to obesity trends in the United States.

"Some people have claimed that high-fructose corn syrup is no different than other sweeteners when it comes to weight gain and obesity, but our results make it clear that this just isn't true, at least under the conditions of our tests," said psychology professor Bart Hoebel, who specializes in the neuroscience of appetite, weight and sugar addiction. "When rats are drinking high-fructose corn syrup at levels well below those in soda pop, they're becoming obese -- every single one, across the board. Even when rats are fed a high-fat diet, you don't see this; they don't all gain extra weight."

And, of course, what is the solution that is given to us? Here, just take these medications. Lose weight. Eat less. Exercise more.

What bothers me is that there is this meme all throughout the American culture that states that everything is personal responsibility. Further, that business interests have no responsibility to provide healthy foods -- or any other products -- that are safe for use by the ultimate consumer or user. We have been heading back -- for many years now -- to the rule that had been abandoned because of its inequities and harshness: caveat emptor.

The rule had been abandoned long ago because it was decided that sellers were in a far better position to know the hidden dangers in their products. Eventually, the legal theory of products liability came to be.

In the United States today, we are facing an obesity epidemic. While I try to eat only organic food, sometimes it is not available. And what about when I decide to go out to eat? Do I have the choices to eat and drink foods that don't contain this additive? It is not just in Coca-Cola and other soft drinks; it is in ketchup and candy and even "healthy" fruit drinks.

We are told that we don't exercise enough. OK, that's true enough. But what about the community's / society's responsibility to provide parks and streets which make exercise available? The point I am making here has to do with how our cities are predominantly designed for cars as opposed to walking.

Doesn't anyone recognize that the obligation to provide healthy choices is more than just a personal responsibility, but also a -- for lack of a better word -- a corporate one?

My lilies...

Dinky, you're going to have to put yourself on hold for this post, if you don't like the.. associative way that I write....
This post is a response to Hell's response to my response in the jungle.
Well, really, only partly, because I intended to write this post anyway, but Hell's response can be tied right into this post, and I am counting on HIM (at least...) to understand why.

This morning I went out into the garden and started poking around a little bit. (I am a dilettante gardener at the very best. Thank God (lol) that I don't have to feed my family with the garden because we just MIGHT starve to death if we had to depend on my gardening skills...)
Two days ago the earth smelled that humous smell of things waking up seriously. Mother Earth shaking off the winter definitely. The ball has stopped twitching. It has gained momentum. It is.. rolling well now.
And I took a close look at that flower bed when, on a cold day in November, I carefully dug 15 holes (hard work...) and lovingly placed 15 rather large sized lily bulbs in place, taking care to replace the soil above them so there would be no air bubbles, no useless space. And then I stuck dried leaves over the bed to protect my.. babies from the cold winter that was coming up, and watered them.
They stayed cosy warm (for bulbs) under there in the earth for more than four months, and... I didn't resort to sophisticated technology, or sonars to make sure that they were doing fine.
I just... TRUSTED that those little bulbs knew their stuff, and that whatever allowed those little bulbs to know their stuff (no names, now, please...) was looking out for them ok. (Some people would say that they KNEW those bulbs would come up, but... that is rather.. PRESUMPTIOUS in my book, saying that you KNOW, when really it is a question of FAITH.)
And guess what ? After 4 months now of cold, and quiet, the first shoots have broken the soil !!
Talk about a miracle.
Boy... am I ever a proud mother of those bulbs !! Isn't it great to see a miracle at work ??

In case you were wondering... That was a parable.
It is a parable for the metaphysical underpinnings of investment.
You know, that operation whereby OVER TIME, something that you have put into the ground, NOT KNOWING WHETHER IT WOULD PAN OUT OR NOT, but that you WORKED FOR, that you WATERED AND NURTURED, OVER TIME would PRODUCE.
Sounds pretty corny in our slick world, doesn't it ?
Buyer beware. Those are just WORDS above. But THOSE WORDS are firmly anchored to ancestral processes that inscribe us in NATURE AND TIME, as LIVING BEINGS.
This, by the way, is what the Ancien Regime was founded on.
YOU may think that the Ancien Regime was a pile of shit that enslaved the citizens.
But... the Ancien Regime was ALSO a complex theological and metaphysical system that had carefully thought out man's place AND his RELATION to his environment, nature.
And this SYSTEM gave us... a particular idea of time, duration, (for Thai, the time that is modeled on the processes of pregnancy and digestion).
Something which the relative destruction of the Ancien Regime HAS NOT GIVEN US.
And that is why this CRISIS before us is a crisis, NOT JUST OF FIAT MONEY.
It is a METAPHYSICAL CRISIS, which interrogates our TIME, our PLACE, WHO WE ARE.
Don't get me wrong. There is no tragedy involved. Because we have become TOO BOURGEOIS for tragedy. (That may change rapidly, as the middle class disappears from the scene...)
Where are you, Joe ?
YOU should be reading me here. I think you understand this...

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Butterfly effect, Part III... The collective is not of one mind

... This is Chapter III in a multi-chapter series. If you happen to be coming to this tale in the middle, please begin here, with Part I.

So we left with the idea that in order to statistically find small effects from treatments, very large study populations are often required. Further, in the issue of tPA for stroke in 2000, 7 studies showed no benefit but an 8th and larger study did. And on the basis of this single but more "powerful" study, tPA was approved by FDA.

Further, as I asked you earlier to walk in the shoes of an emergency physician trained to interpret data and studies such as these, you should immediately recognize that the success of tPA in NINDS only suggested that the absolute benefit of tPA for stroke was probably quite small. For if there was a benefit to using tPA, still the benefit couldn't be very large or it likely would have surfaced in the seven earlier but smaller studies. The fact that it took a very large study (powered with enough patients) to find it suggested from the beginning that the effect was not very important.

Later in this post I will share with you the actual statistical outcomes of what happens to patients who are given tPA for stroke. You can decide for yourself whether we were justified in looking at the issue this way back in 2000.

Still, NINDS was a glimmer of hope.

So I now want you to shift your viewpoint from just mine- a single emergency physician- to the entire emergency medicine physician collective. And if you were unaware, the collective medical mind is anything but unified, and this disunity exists for very good reason. For the right thing to do is rarely obvious and we all have learned that statistics can be just that: statistics. Effects witnessed today in one or more studies often vanish under closer scrutiny as we come to learn we were fooled yet again by randomness.

Many physicians in the collective are cautious when new drugs are approved, especially when prevailing data suggests a drug's benefit is small. And as I said earlier, you can decide for yourself whether these physicians were justified in being conservative when I share what we now know 10 years later.

So the approval of tPA by FDA, as any physician with 2 neurons could have predicted, led to a fracturing of the collective medical mind as some physicians (myself amongst them) decided to give tPA to their patients while others opted for caution and took a watch and wait approach. I will not bore you with the details of these disagreements, though they legendary amongst my peers, but let me say they were quite robust.

But here is the key point of this entire post, all the while this debate was happening, the simple fact remained that the FDA's decision to approve tPA for stroke was akin to a butterfly flapping its wings. And while emergency medicine physicians debated these issues within the confines of their own private little world with what they thought were well defined boundaries, a lot of other people in the health care system were also effected by the ripple created by the butterfly's flap. And these other people, working in their own private worlds both outside and unbeknown-st to the emergency medicine community, were also taking notice of the ripple. And this ripple was beginning to make them stir and make worlds suddenly collide.

I shall end Chapter III here and will discuss the beginnings of these boundary collisions in Chapter IV as I have time to write it. But before I proceed, I want to make one last point re: tPA and stroke. Please understand that tPA can only be used on 2% of stroke patients. Sadly, it cannot be used on the other 98% or it will harm them for reasons I will not go into in the interest of time.

Please remember this 2% figure as you continue reading future chapters.

And, as I promised, I will now share what we now know about the cost-benefit of tPA in stroke. Looking at tPA from the perspective of a patient with a stroke, sadly this is what I tell my patients and families all too often:

1. If you have a stroke and DO NOT get tPA, you have a 40% chance you will have a good recovery within 3 months
2. If you have a stroke and receive tPA, you have a 52% chance for a good recovery within 3 months- this means there is a 1 in 8 chance the drug will benefit you if you receive it and a 7 in 8 chance it will not
3. If tPA is used, you have a 1 in 16 chance of developing a hemorrhage in your brain (6% absolute chance of hemorrhage related to tPA)
4. Despite the increased chance of bleeding, there is no evidence tPA make any difference before 3 months.
5. Your risk of death from stroke is approximately the same whether you receive tPA or not.

In other words, if an emergency physician treats 100 stroke patients who meet tPA criteria, e.g.- arrive within 3 hr, and have no absolute or relative contraindications, 12 will have absolute benefit and 6 will have a serious intracranial hemorrhage. And 2 patients will have minimal or no deficit for every 1 patient that gets a hemorrhage. We help a few patients (1 in 8) but we harm slightly fewer. It is not zero-sum, but some definitely lose as a few more win.

So I ask you, is this a wonderful drug?

And having shared this data with you, I have a few questions for you:

1. Is tPA a big deal?
2. Do you feel there is a lot of benefit for the risk?
3. If you had a stroke and qualified for tPA, would you take it?
4. Was the suggestion that the benefit was small in 2000 subsequently proved correct?
4. Were the physicians who took a cautious approach justified knowing what we know now?

The Butterfly Effect Part II

... This is Chapter II in a multi-chapter series. If you happen to be coming to this tale in the middle, please begin here, with Part I.

In order to frame this story, we must play a game called walk in another man's shoes. For understanding this tragedy of the commons tale requires we look at the story from several different perspectives, or viewpoints, simultaneously.

The first perspective I want to share is the one which introduced me to our tale- my own. And to examine this tale from my perspective, e.g. that of a typical emergency physician, a small understanding of both the statistics of tPA's efficacy for stroke and the history of how we came to understand these statistics is in order. I will try to simplify as much as possible.

In 1995, the year I completed my residency, the state of our knowledge was such that seven studies, including three major studies with names like ECASS, ECASS2 and ATLANTIS, showed no benefit in using tPA for stroke when compared against placebo. However, as we all know, statistics are a rabbit hole with no end and the story of tPA in stroke proved no exception to this rule... Though it did validate another rule of mine which I have come to call Thai's Alice in Wonderland rule of medical advice which goes something like "if something is controversial it is also not important; for if it were important, it would not be controversial". However physicians may differ in opinion, we almost all desire similar outcomes for our patients.

Remember that in order to observe a small effect in a large group of people, you need to study a very large number of people. Studying a small number of people can easily miss a small effect. The 7 prior studies were performed on a reasonable number of patients, but the argument was always lingering in the background that the studies to date had simply not been "powered" enough (which is medical speak for enrolling enough patients) to see tPA's effect. And so, "powered" with enough power to overcome all prevailing studies, a 1995 study titled NINDS overturned all prevailing wisdom as it showed a benefit to tPA on select stroke patients.

This is where we come to the part of the story where the butterfly flaps its wings. For on the basis of NINDS, in 2000, the FDA approved tPA for use in stroke and things got very interesting.

We come to the end of Chapter II. When you are ready, please progress to Chapter III.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Butterfly Effect Part I

Forgive me for posting again on health care, but a few things have it on my mind of late. Probably most significantly, the congressional vote on HCR is approaching, yet I was also delighted to learn that my specialty society has decided to remain neutral on the HCR plan... As Winston Churchill once quipped: "You can always count on Americans to do the right thing - after they've tried everything else", so too can the same be said of ACEP, my specialty society... At least most of the time. ;-)

We physicians are simply not disinterested observers and I commend ACEP in recognizing this, even it they do not actually recognize this.

Anyway, I want to share a particular tale about events I have been witnessing for many years. And while I realize my interpretations on these events may be very far from a complete 360 degree picture of the truth, still they are as I saw them and therefore an honest attempt to tell a tale the best I can without resorting to extensive research and fact checking. Perhaps someone else (a journalist?) will one day pick up this story and flesh out my obvious omissions and errors. I would clearly be curious to read a fuller account.

My story is about a common tragedy which affects our collective- stroke- and how a glimmer of hope appeared against this curse. But how this glimmer of hope set off an unforeseen butterfly effect which has become my personal parable of the tragedy of the commons mess we call our health care system. This particular story is perhaps most relevant to my home state of Maryland; yet I somehow sense its lessons are illustrative of what has befallen medicine in general. And how complexity can simply beget more complexity, yet more complexity is not always for the positive of anyone involved. A classic tragedy of the commons saga if ever there was one.

A little background may be helpful: strokes are caused by an interruption of blood flow to part of the brain leading to brain tissue death. They are the second most common cause of death and major cause of disability worldwide. They are a VERY big problem for us all.

Further our developed world is seeing more and more strokes as we age and the effects of all these Five Guy's cheeseburger's begin to take their toll on our collective BMI.

Enter a glimmer of hope: a thrombolytic known as tPA.

To simplify things greatly, think of thrombolytics such as tPA as the medical equivalent of Drano. Physicians use thrombolytics to open clogged arteries. tPA is manufactured by Genentech and according to the company's 2008 annual report, thrombolytics brought Genenetech revenues of $275 million for all clinical indications- certainly no chump change but similarly no "blockbusters", to use a little pharm lingo.

... FWIW, the people at Genenetech are entitled to every single dime of that money imo so do not misunderstand where I am going.

In fact, I will stop the Chapter I of my tale here. When you are ready, proceed to Chapter II

Cops and Numbers

This number is brought to you by an unknown French cop, and courtesy of my devotion to doing an unpaid translation...

If the Numbers were not an abstraction, there would be a statue in its likeness in every commissariat (police station). Or ITS portrait hanging in a gold filigreed frame, next to the one of the head of State.
The Numbers is an omnipresent and authoritarian entity that hovers over every police department. Every chief invokes it in consecrated incantations.
"Numbers". "I want Numbers. Bring me back Numbers".
Every cop needs to remember that he exists above all for the Numbers. Nobody asks him to have faith in the Numbers, only to go through the motions on a daily basis. Without asking any questions. And with devotion whenever possible.
The Numbers is very important, because thanks to It, policies and opinions are made. The Numbers does NOT create security... or we would have already noticed.
The Numbers is greedy, but it isn't picky about the quality of what makes it get bigger. It is not a fine gourmet, it is piggy. It cares diddly shit about the delinquance that is offered up to it in sacrifice, It can even feed on hot air.
The Numbers can become an illness. Some cops think that they are doing RIGHT by dedicating their careers (contrary to all common sense) to the Numbers. They become what we call scribblers or hunters, and end up doing ANYTHING and EVERYTHING, no holds barred. They see bad guys everywhere. An overdose of the Numbers can produce hallucinations, even delusions of persecution in those who are in the terminal phase of an addiction to the Numbers. The IGS (My ignorance, I don't know what this is, those darned acronyms...) sometimes gets patients who, as a result of their blindness have got tripped up in the law.
Other colleagues who have developed immunity against the Numbers prefer working for days on end, if necessary, to catch a REAL bandit, just ONE, but who will go to prison without passing GO. Those colleagues insult the Numbers, which makes no distinction between a dangerous delinquant and a little schmuck, and remains hungry.
Police commissioners, the high priests of the Numbers before the Eternal, get together in high masses and compare the size of their Numbers. The one with the BIGGEST is considered to be the best policeman-troop manager, and this will enter into consideration in his career plan.
But.. to be in the service of the Numbers is not the same thing as being in the service of the public. Security is not quantifiable. It isn't an equilibrium of Numbers either, and all forms of suffering can not be measured.
The Numbers is mathematical, but It is not the answer/solution to the problem.
Bad deal. It is... a false friend (faux ami) like in grammar.
The enemies of the Numbers are free will and intellectual discipline, the true discipline, the one that engages consciousness/the conscience. And deontology.
The Numbers is... the opium of the Police.

(A little translation thingey. In French, the word that I have translated as the Numbers is "Le Chiffre". Not "les chiffres", which is the plural. No, "Le Chiffre", which is a GIANT ABSTRACTION, you know, like that GIANTEST OF ALL ABSTRACTIONS ??
So, I hesitate in this translation. How to deal with "LE chiffre" ? "Numbers" doesn't do the trick, and The Number doesn't quite do it either...
Ah... those continents...)

Beam me... DOWN, Scotty...

I have not been in a nihilistic funk for the past few days, but, shall we say, I'm not exactly the life of the party right now ?

The expat's life is not a piece of cake.
Empire has this little presupposition, wherever you are, and for however long you are out of the country, that you are just on a little jaunt. A little leave of absence.
Just waiting to come back to the mother country and pick up where you left off.
Episode ended. Hey countryman ! Welcome.. HOME !!!!!!!!!!

Empire engages in heavy duty denial even of the... ABSENCE of its citizens.
For example... when you vote, you must request an absentee ballot from your last place of residence. That means that you get a ballot, from, say, California, for instance when you haven't seen a palm tree for 30 years. Of course, with all the local elections on it too, and the local issues, and ONLY YOU know that you are not allowed to vote on those issues. No, just for federal elections. And of course, when you get that ballot, it is immediately assumed that you are part of the armed forces, or you have taken advantage of your company's liberal policy of sending its employees around the globe for two to four year stints (good deal, because in France, say, said American employees pick up hefty advantages for employment, like French social security that their American companies don't even have to pay for, and they get part of their salaries in the foreign currencies, etc etc. Don't worry... the ACCOUNTANTS have got it all figured out to screw the government(s) just right... Hey, that's CAPITALISM for you, right ? Oops, I meant to say, the kind of PREDATORY CAPITALISM that we've stuck on a pedestal until just recently.) And to add insult to injury, since the policy of almost all of those 50 states on absentee voting is different, you MAY have to take a little trip to the embassy (400 miles away in some cases...) in order to get your ballot witnessed in order to be valid. Cute, huh ?)
Just a word about the embassies. You might think that the embassies are there to help American citizens abroad, right ? Think again. The embassies are little clubs where the cronyism that has taken over our political system has full sway. The head honcho appointees waltz in and out of their positions without knowing diddly shit about the countries they are in, and most of the time without caring either. They are there to... REPRESENT empire. (As though... empire needed representing, right ? Since when did empire need representing ?)

Back to the expat gig.
It's funny but these days I feel as though I ? the mother country ? (or is it father ? who knows ?), at any rate that ocean between us seems to be widening all the time. (No techtonic plates spreading in the Atlantic ?)
It's getting harder and harder to determine whether I am STILL an American expat, or if that label (!) is getting covered up by the one of "French immigrant".
(When I first arrived here, I remember a scene where a couple of my husband's older, well settled friends had invited us for dinner, and we were talking, and the conversation turned to immigration.
They griped about the current immigration problem.
And when I said I was an immigrant, their faces took on that shocked look.
"But no, you're not an immigrant" (understand, you don't.. LOOK like an immigrant. You look like a nice WASP girl, you don't look like an immigrant...)
But I adamantly told them that AS FAR AS THE FRENCH GOVERNMENT WAS CONCERNED, I was in exactly the same boat as those other immigrants. Exactly. (Yeah, I know, I can be a pill. It started early. My FATHER discovered this when I was an adolescent...))
Whoops... I just took a wrong turn in my rant. ;-) Back on topic.

In the LONG LONG TIME that I have taken out for that leave of absence, I have very rarely met an expat like me. (Is that bragging ? Maybe yes, maybe not, have to wait to decide.)
Because I speak the language fluently. With just a teeny weeny, itsy bitsy infinitesimal hair on my speech that would get me arrested and shot for being a spy in wartime, probably (but then.. I would be arrested for being a spy and shot in the mother country too in wartime).
I sweated blood to be able to speak the language this way. It was dearly bought, this privilege.
And 99% of my compatriots do not speak the language this way.
And it makes a big, big difference in what is called "integration". (Alongside with other things, definitely. Like having children who go to school.)
So, these days, the mother country keeps receding...
And I deal with this in the knowledge that it is not because the mother country keeps receding that the country I live in is getting any closer.
It can be a lonely place, my friends, this place I have chosen to set up camp in.
Very lonely.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Wall-E and Skynet

So I have been in a nihilistic fugue the last few days. This type of mood "weather" tends to make for good rabbit hole diving. Why this is would be another rabbit hole, but I suspect its because it overrides certain inhibitory gates. Much like alcohol.


Wall-E and the Terminator series are very different types of sci-fi. Wall-E is a cute little Pixar flick where future humans have left Earth for a while so this fleet of robots can clean up the planet while they're gone. For whatever reason, only one Wall-E robot seems to currently be viable. But it happily works every day making nice little garbage cubes.

In the Terminator series Skynet is a program that humans created to make their lives easier. But when it transcends (becomes "self-aware") the humans get nervous. Skynet realizes they're nervous, knows that this will lead to them terminating its self-awareness, and therefore nukes them.


So evolutionarily, genes made these nice little Wall-E units (yes, this is anthropomorphizing, but work with me) to replicate them. The Wall-E units kept evolving newer features that were very handy. Including emotion so they could work together in groups. Then came reason. It started off with little things like alphabets and algebra. Adorable. But then "reason" went Skynet.

So where Wall-E had previously happily pursued his purpose, he now had the ability to reprogram his purpose. What to choose? Existential crisis.

But its worse than that with the human condition. Because there are 7B Wall-Es. Some just plugging away at their programmed purpose without question. Some creating purpose programs without really thinking them through. Some realizing 1) there is no purpose, we're just some statistically outrageous fluke, and 2) even if a logical purpose was created, its going to get drowned in the sea of rogue Wall-Es with their various absurd purposes.

Impossible! Ridiculous! Add on to this situation the residual emotion programs and pending mortality.......... my, oh my, what a cluster$#%^!!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Happy Pi Day Everyone!

March 14 or 3.14

... Just in case you didn't notice the image in your Google browser today. ;-)

I must add that it is really rather clever of people to have figured this out... At least clever to me as I would have never made the association. And of course, now that we all know know this date's significance, we should immediately realize that other people at places like MIT would have added additional significance to this date long ago.

There are a lot of clever people on this planet, that's for sure (where is Street Dog by the way?) And it does occasionally bring comfort to think that I do occasionally get to patch them up and send them on their merry way, letting them get back to performing the great deeds we know they will all perform.

Teamwork, it is the reason I do what I do.

... Of course I am a voice for the system. ;-)

Be well all

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Psy fi

This post is intended as a form of response to Dink's comment in his last post, the one where he hinted that I unconditionally attack psychiatry and other psy professions (as I understood him, at any rate..).
It is also a statement of my position and current beliefs on the question of the psy professions for people who just MIGHT be heading into our saloon from psy areas, (and, why not ? people with psy inclinations who are silent readers here).
Readers have noticed that I will resort to somewhat mild forms of sarcasm when referring to the psy professions.
Such sarcasm is not the equivalent of a wholesale disqualification of these professions.
I think that in the psy professions, as in any profession, there are people who are doing good work accompanying patients in their personal trials. And that the patients who are consulting these people are getting a lot out of this kind of accompaniment.
In my neck of the woods, we set great store on freedom of thought. That means that IN MY OPINION, it is desirable for someone exercising a psy profession to be as free as possible from prejudices (I said.. as free as possible. Prejudice is everywhere.).
And I feel that it is desirable for someone exercising a psy profession to be as free as possible from troublesome PREJUDICES about the nature of their profession, their role and their mission.
Unfortunately FROM MY VANTAGE POINT (which I can defend with historical/critical arguments) many psys are woefully ignorant of the prejudices they have CONCERNING THEIR PROFESSION.
It is debatable to what extent such ignorance compromises the quality of work being done with patients. (Which I will concede...)
For the simple reason that I feel at this time that probably the number one prerequisites for being a good psy are : an excellent capacity for empathy, which implies imagination, and the capacity to put oneself in the patient's shoes (from time to time, at least...), and excellent critical/analytic skills. (Incidentally, Thai may argue, correctly in my book, that these qualities make for good doctors too...)
Saint Paul said that one could give away all one's possessions, live in poverty, do good deeds from morning to dusk, but without CHARITY (agape), it was pointless.
So... that means that a good psy MUST practice charity (agape) in order to be good.
Now... does that mean he has to know lots of fancy things about the human psyche, and undergo lots of time and money consuming training to achieve this end ?
Does he have to OWN a BODY of knowledge that sets him up as an expert ?
Maybe. Maybe not. I personally don't think that this is essentiel at all.
And I think that most of what a psy needs to know can not be taught in text books, in seminars, in classes at all. It is... learned through experience, and living.
Obviously I am talking here about the psy as therapist in the talking cure.
Not a prescriptor. That's something different.
A word of caution :
I abandoned my practice for complex reasons :
1) I was not "making a living with it", and I had lost faith in MY capacity to do it well.
2) I discovered that my personal vocation was NOT in synch with the way the psy professions as a CORPORATION organize their work (in France, but also in the U.S., I suspect.). Because... I like to talk MORE than I like to listen. That's pretty straightforward, and my friends on this blog will confirm that..
3) I have come to feel that one of the down sides of the psy professions lies with their propensity to pinpoint the problems an individual encounters in his search for meaning in his life IN THE INDIVIDUAL HIM/HERSELF, and I find this unscientific hypothesis to be normative, and not compatible with MY observations and conclusions that the social body itself is VERY VERY RESPONSIBLE for the difficulties of the individuals that comprise it.
4) I feel that the psy professions are constructed around a complex belief system that emerged from Renaissance/Enlightenment thought, and that this BELIEF system, referred to as SCIENTIFIC thought, evacuates the BELIEFS that underlie our sometimes unconditional allegiance to "scientific" thought. In other words, what we call science is NOT "objective", to the extent that objectivity is impossible in HUMAN experience. We.. BELIEVE in what we call science (many of us, at least..).

Now... at this time, IN NO WAY do I discourage people who are already accompanied by a therapist to abandon the help that they are getting in this context (when they are getting help, that is...and when they are NOT getting help in the therapeutic situation I am very very circumspect.).
But neither do I evangelize actively for the psy professions by telling people that their SALVATION MUST come through therapy. Because... I do NOT BELIEVE this the way I used to...

I also feel that the "service" offered by the different psy professions (from a mercantile perspective) is one that has been offered in varying forms, and with varying success, all through the history of our society. It has been offered... for free, on many occasions.
Now... TODAY, IN OUR SOCIETY, this service is NOT ALWAYS offered for free.
Because of the necessity to invent new ways to put our multitudinous talents to use to put meat and potatoes on the table. (THIS IS NOT NECESSARILY A CONDEMNATION...)
In this same way, coaching is a NEW psy profession which is emerging in France.
While other professions are disappearing over time.
Inevitable huh ??
For the time being I offer my "service" for free (in certain contexts).
Because I feel that... it is VITAL for us to see that you don't have to pay for everything you receive. (That's what "grace" is, by the way. Subject of a future post.)

And Dink ? Remember Herbert ? He was a "psy" too. I wonder whether he ended up abandoning the profession too...

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Trial of Hari Seldon

I opened up Asimov's "Foundation" recently and found this:

Q: You are sure that your statement represents scientific proof?
A: I am.
Q: On what basis?
A: On the basis of the mathematics of psychohistory.
Q: Can you prove that this mathematics is valid?
A: Only to another mathematician.

and shortly thereafter:

Q: You quibble, Dr. Seldon. Can the overall future of the human race be changed?
A: Yes.
Q: Easily?
A: No. With great difficultly.
Q: Why?
A: The psychohistoric trend of a planet-full of people contains a huge inertia. To be changed it must be met with something possessing a similar inertia. Either as many people must be concerned, or if the number of people be relatively small, enormous time for change must be allowed. Do you understand?
Q: I think I do. The planet need not be ruined, if a great many people act so that it will not.
A: That is right.

Context: The 12k year old system has gotten too complex. Seldon calculated that it would take 30k years to come around again. He can't stop the collapse, but he thinks he can shorten the "dark ages" down to 1k years by storing certain, um, catalysts or triggers to speed up the growth. In creating these knowledge bases he is acknowledging the possibility of collapse so is charged with treason. Asimov was a clever bastard.

Sunday, March 7, 2010


Sudoku started as a mild amusement on an aircraft, led to a descent into madness, and ended in an uneasy peace.

Its a game with simple rules: a grid with nine columns and nine rows which make up nine nine-spaced smaller grids. So you place numbers one through nine on each row, column, and smaller grid with no duplication of any number in said row, column, or smaller grid. You start off with a few given numbers and deduce the rest.

Such simple parameters, yes? Any moron should be able to do this. And mostly I can. But has humbled me (only on the "very hard" level, *gulp*, seriously). While creating the "options" set for a space I've made mistakes. While deducing I've made mistakes. While even typing in numbers I've inadvertently made mistakes. I've thought solution impossible ("they've posted a defective grid!"), but I hit the Hint button and voila.... the defect was pilot error.

Disturbing. Whaddya mean I'm not Merlin?!?! The implications are huge. If errors can be made in gathering data, analyzing data, and basic sensory/motor access in this simple game, then couldn't these mistakes be made in other situations?

Defective, treacherous brain!! If I can't trust it then all is lost! Its the most important tool anyone has. Hopeless, bleak despair.

Must....go....on. Okay, we go to battle with the army we have, not the army we want (cringe at Rumsfeld quoting). So clearly defeciencies must be identified, catalogued, and remedied. Eternal vigilance.

This rambling was intended to lead to a discussion of "belief". Though I try to keep an open mind that the equipment creating the belief may be in error, at some point I have to "buy in" if I'm to get anything done. Some people have appalling low standards for "buy in" and amazingly tenacious unwillingness to reanalyze in the face of new data. There should be some, you know, balance.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Rigueur mortis

I like this pun.
"Rigueur" is the current French translation for "austerity".
It is the medecine that is being prescribed by fiscal conservatives all over the planet, and that smug Irishman (or Scotch man ?) in the link that Yoyo (?) stuck down for us over there in the jungle is the kind of person who obviously gets all excited over the prospect of austerity, in the face of a Stieglitz who, in my opinion, has a much better grasp on the... psychological aspects of the financial crisis, and a much better understanding of just what fiat money is. (I am not sure that I really understand exactly what fiat money is, but I am not sure that people like that Irish (?) on the BBC program are as competent to give me lessons as they think they are...)
I still maintain that fiscal conservatism at this point in time is part of the elder brother, entitlement psychology. It is particularly espoused by finger pointing people. Ones who feel self righteous. Autonomous.
I neither feel self righteous (well, at least I try to limit this feeling in myself...) and definitely NOT autonomous. I am extremely dependant. I AM somebody's dependant, to use the accepted vocabulary.
There's lots of talk about bailing out/not bailing out.
And I am starting to change my tune on this subject.
For complicated reasons, that have to do with what I stuck down in the jungle about the economics of benediction and malediction.
I said that the very IDEA of growth is based on the economics of benediction.
This means that...
The paradigm of growth, what enables us to understand it can be seen when you draw a family tree.
If you have ever seen a family tree, you will notice that it starts with two people at the top, and then it spreads, until at the bottom it takes on the form of a big pine tree. (There are different ways of drawing the tree, this way is one of the most familiar).
The growth that you see in the family tree, from one generation to the next is, in its own way, a form of exponential growth. This kind of growth is like... multiplying the loaves and the fishes.
One "little" detail that you need to keep in mind : exponential growth, benediction is ONLY POSSIBLE OVER TIME. WHAT MAKES IT EXPONENTIAL IS the way that it deploys over time. NO TIME, NO EXPONENTIAL GROWTH.
I maintain that this paradigm is what organizes (or should organize ? not sure...) the economy.
When, in Genesis, God says "multiply", he is talking about this "economic" growth that can not be separated from the idea of generation itself, from... copulation, from giving birth, etc.
These paradigms are deeply entrenched in us. Culturally. Perhaps biologically. I'm not sure.
So, back to the crisis.
John Maynard Keynes, from what I have heard (mea culpa, I haven't read Keynes, just about him...) is one of the few economists to really understand the psychological foundations of economics, and these foundations are VERY VERY important.
Keynes understood that in order for human beings to feel alive, they need to GROW. Exponentially.
This means that, ANY PLAN, ANY POLICY WHICH PROMOTES REDUCTION IN ANY FORM enters into conflict with this human necessity to grow.
Fiscal austerity MAY be technically "wise", looked at from the balance sheet.
BUT, and this is a big but...
The danger with REDUCING is that you propulse yourself and your entourage into the spiral of MALEDICTION, as I suggested.
EVERYTHING that is under the sign of the.. NEGATIVE is negatively charged with... NEGATIVE meaning. For all of us.
That is why we need to be careful about the "solutions" we find to these problems.
I'm going to nuance this generalization to read... REDUCING FOR THE SAKE OF REDUCING is the biggest danger. And I think that the austerity packages are a form of reducing for the sake of reducing. Reduction as an end in and of itself. And I am firmly opposed to this. Reduction in one sector must be counterbalanced by growth, the perception of growth in ANOTHER area, at the very least.
Austerity was... NOT THE ANSWER for post WW1 Germany either...
I'm not sure that human beings are capable of seeing austerity as anything other than a form of punishment and/or humiliation.

Monday, March 1, 2010

My loony forum, "Macbeth" and power...

I can hear you guys already...
"How is she going to manage to tie all THIS together ??"
It's a good question, but I AM going to tie all this together.

Yesterday my loony forum blew up. Somebody pressed a button and it went "pffft". (By the way, dinky, can YOU press a button and the BLOG goes "pffft" ? That's not very.. DEMOCRATIC if you can, right ?)

So, while I suggested that we refound this forum on a healthier base than its original foundation, it just got scrapped, and has already been magically resurrected, in a NEWER and BETTER form (dixit the NEW founders, of course...)
The problem is : WE, as a group constructed my loony forum over a period of two years. Together. With our ups, and our downs. Inching our way along the precipice of catastrophes, and crises, we managed to keep it going AS AN INSTITUTION for over two years.
What has been recreated is NOT the forum that we constructed.
I'll get back to this.

Sidestep to "Macbeth".
"Macbeth" is one of those plays that makes the current financial situation look like cat's piss in comparison. Really, our modern "democratic", hopelessly bourgeois world is just not big enough, and is way too tame for the life and death issues that are present in "Macbeth". (It's not that those issues have really gone away ; it's just that... we don't see them, busy as we all are in our cost/benefit analyses or our accountant sheets in our little bourgeois world.

"Macbeth" presents a world vision that could almost make you succumb to despair.
The plays opens as Macbeth and Banquo, two generals steeped to their eyes in blood and gore, the sounds of the battleground in the distance meet up with some strange figures on their way home. The asexual crones salute Macbeth with his current title, a future title, finishing in a flourishing "hail, Macbeth that shall be King".
Macbeth and his companion are wary of such pronouncements, especially as neither knows just WHO is making them, and for what reason.
But when Macbeth learns from the mouth of the old King that he has been given the title and the property of the man he has vanquished in battle during this CIVIL war, his reason wavers.

Lots of stuff has been written about Macbeth's ambition, etc etc.
A lot of analysis has really not known what to do with the fact that... the old king, Duncan sticks Macbeth into a... TRAITOR'S place, and whoops, Macbeth becomes a.. TRAITOR ?
HOW COULD THAT HAPPEN ?? (Incidentally, if you think that Macbeth is a monster WHEN he kills the old king while the latter is sleeping, when he orders the murder of Banquo, and puts Macduff's little family to the sword, wife AND child, you are NOT READING WELL, because Macbeth is NOT a monster in this play. He does monstrous things, but at no time do we lose empathy with him...)

You can look for tons of psychological explanations that make much of the individual's responsibility and free will in ALL situations in life but...
A more attentive look at the way things work will show you that...
Sometimes we get sucked into things that we have no control over.
Macbeth gets sucked into this situation.
Because what the play is really about is how we don't speak our language.
And our language itself is one big.. LIE (if you like the word lie. Shall I say, that our language is deceptive.)
Do people willfully and consciously LIE (or manipulate) MORE than our language itself lies ?
Think about it.
The hags tell Macbeth that he will remain king until Birnam Wood comes to Dunsinane.
And he exults, because he BELIEVES that this will never happen.
Until... the soldiers in Macduff's army break off the branch of a tree and hold it in front of them as they approach his castle fortress to do battle.
A... lie ? Were the hags LYING ? Na.
Macbeth is undone by LANGUAGE.
And when the play finishes the whole process is revving up to repeat itself, and this is evident.
How do we get out of these ruts ? Sometimes you just want to lie down and despair.

Back to my loony forum and power.
The WORD that sent Birnam Wood to Dunsinane was "perversion".
And after that, the wind, the full moon, the natural elements just got the better of us all.
Nobody standing on the battlefield.

The new forum has been created by new founders who say...
No sense in talking about all of this any more.
We have to go forward as if it hadn't happened.
Sound familiar ?
But then... the new founders don't know what power can do to destroy democracy.
Their power.
Not yet...

The Most Fabulous Objects In The World

  • Hitchhiker's Guide To The Universe trilogy
  • Lord of the Rings trilogy
  • Flight of the Conchords
  • Time Bandits