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Friday, March 26, 2010

Thought for the day


Thai said...

Everyone have a nice week while I am off in Sedona Arizona for spring break with the family.

Dr John said...

I barely have begun to know you Thai and I find myself disliking you already both for leaving after I just got here but mostly because you will be in Sedona and I will be in Ohio. Hug a tree for me and enjoy your family. John

Thai said...

I'll be back to stir up trouble soon enough.

Be well my friend

Dink said...

1)So I was pondering how we could let the newcomers understand that they truly could post whatever they want and not have to worry about looking "professional". And then Thai posts a double-entendre about the President's wang. Perfect. Exactly. Have a great time in AZ!

2) Deb-"Malleus Maleficarum" is "The Witch Hammer". This is the guidebook that the Inquisition used to identify and "solve" witches. So as a female living in a Christian European country it should displease you greatly.

3) Re: Dirac "The Strangest Man"- sounds curious! My favorite book(s)is written by Neal Stephenson. Its one huge story split in 3 or 6 books. He's a sci fi writer who decided to write about the Royal Society. Its fictional, but Newton/Hooke/Leibniz characters are spectacular. Really, you just get such an appreciation for how frustrating it must have been to not know things (why some frogs had too many legs, what are our lungs doing). And they're all maniacs. Hey Thai, maybe you should bring "Quicksilver" to AZ ;)

Dink said...

If you haven't left yet Thai, what was the name of that book you mentioned.... A murder mystery that has a lot of the beginnings of surgical practice in London...kinda around the 1600s. You know which one I'm talking about, yes?

Debra said...

Don't worry, Doctor John..
I will hold your hand while Thai is on vacation. ;-)
Wouldn't want you to go into withdrawal, or something nasty like that ?
My husband is in PRIVATE practice, and we take off for... 2 months in the summer.
Yeah, we're a.. SOCIALIST (ex)CATHOLIC country here, and NOT A PROTESTANT ONE.
Have fun, Thai and family.
Dink, I see no reason WHY the newcomers cannot look at our posts and understand that there is no worry about being professional.

Dr John said...

Wow a 2 month vacation. That's welfare in the states.ha ha. Well not anymore..As long as people harm no one and do not ask to do it on the backs of someone else and their efforts they should be free to do as they please. Dink, thanks for the book recommendation. It sounds very interesting although I admit I never read fiction anymore. I will spend some time coming up with some irreverent responses and a crude post. John

Thai said...

Nah, not gone yet, not till tomorrow morning.

Still procrastinating packing. I don't know why I dread packing so much but I simply do.

And that is one of my favorite books of all time, Iain Pears' An Instance of the Fingerpost. Events take place during same time period and similar characters- e.g. Boyle, etc...

It brings goosebumps thinking about it, so wonderful a surprise the book was when I opened it.

I also loved his Dream of Scipio which I suspect Deb would love as well.

Thai said...

Dr John

Re: "As long as people harm no one and do not ask to do it on the backs of someone else and their efforts they should be free to do as they please."


And as you are probably aware, economists call these issues externalitiesand we actually spend quite a bit of time discussing them on this blog as I'm sure you guessed with Okie's post (I love him AND we are often on opposite sides of the discussions).

The problem of course is that in a closed system, and planet earth is functionally a closed system, you have to admit that even breathing becomes an externality- e.g. we inhale plant O2 externalizations whilst they inhale our CO2 externalizations, and both compounds are simultaneously necessary or toxic depending on whose viewpoint you want to look at the issue from.

So we still always end up getting back to what externalities bother us individually and collectively the most and which do not. And these discussions always get back to our personal value systems, our culture, our morality, trust, faith cooperation- e.g. a lot of rabbit holes to go down.

And we have lots of fun discussing them. ;-)

PS- I voted for Obama so please don't read my poster the wrong way (if you did not vote for him that is absolutely fine as well as I can be quite conservative). I'm a little upset at him right now for almost solving the universal coverage issue by spending even more money, as I think we all have our collective heads in the sand feeding more fuel to the health care bubble when we are heading off a national solvency cliff with a national account deficit of 10% and increasing our borrowing for even more consumption.

... but I am a glass 1/2 empty kind of guy and as Deb always likes to remind me, my cynicism is not irrational. So who knows?

... OK, my wife is now officially pissed that I still have not packed (yuck!) so TTFN.

Thai said...

Sorry, my cynicism in not rational

OkieLawyer said...


Make sure you take one (or more) of the Pink Jeep tours.

You will also be close enough to several national parks that if you have enough time you should see them as well. Besides the south rim of the Grand Canyon, there is also Walnut Canyon, Sunset Crater Volcano, Wupatki (keep going after you see Sunset Crater to get to it), Tuzigoot and Montezuma Castle. They are all within about 2 hours drive time from Sedona.

Thai said...

Thanks for the info buddy. I just ran it by >1/2 and wifey says we (meaning she) already booked the Pink Jeep tour but we ;-) waited too long for the donky rides so no go there.

I'll look up the other places as well.

Be well my friend

Dr John said...

I voted for Bob Barr. I mean it when I say I am a card carrying libertarian. You are correct Thai in your description of externalities and a closed system and that it is almost impossible not to get down to value systems in the end. I would say an effective line in the sand for me is the concept of "reasonable avoidability". As you point out somethings others do under the guise of isolated acts are not so isolated after all. Polluting the air at times or playing music so loudly it can be heard a block away.Many like sexual behavior or substance use are not like this. Like JS Mill said, it is not I believe enough to just feel that something is good for someone to forcibly compel them to do it.We do this with disturbing frequency in this country. That is the greater evil than the act itself.My personal values are not enough.Most of what is currently and has been debated in regards to the Federal Govt. does not at all fall under this category of "acts I can just ignore".I am drawn in with no choice in the matter. We have gone so far beyond the founders concept of liberty in our interactions with the govt, what they extract from us in taxes, what they choose to do with it and as troubling, the mountain of crushing debt we are accumulating. Like Kant I believe a moral act cannot be a moral act unless done of free will. If I ask people if it is moral to enslave someone 5-6 months a year in order for you to force them to do what you may see as being a moral act(forced labor to build a bridge so people on the other side may access clean water) most people tell me no, slavery is a great moral wrong. Yet few seem to understand that using the Govt. to coerce money from people through excessive taxation regardless of how it is used is the same thing. People may feel removed from it and see it as different but it is the moral equivalent. This is just not about my feelings on excessive taxation. It is the federal govt's hand in almost every aspect of or lives. Govt. by its very nature is evil. Large social bodies allow for diffusion of personal responsibility and corruption. People see this with business but seem to be blinded by it in govt often.Washington is burning. We have had one Nero after another. Obama is just the newest in a long line of incarnations of King George the 3rd.It will not end until we are bankrupt. Pack lightly!

Thai said...

LOL!!! I have never even heard of Bob Barr till I looked him up.

Good for you. To quote old Mark Twain:

"Reader, suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself."

If we are getting metaphysical, I tend to really think there is only one system, but different ways of looking at the same thing. So no matter what we do, it will always be the same in the end.

To me, at some level everything is "energy" and it simply is a matter of how you want to look at the energy- e.g. as a wave (a collective property), or a particle (an individual). Either way, you are looking at the same thing but splitting the atom differently so to speak, which concurs with Deb's (and Chomsky's) notion that language is literally built into the very fabric of who and what we are.

For language is of course energy as well.

But whether you like what you see when you look out is entirely depends on your viewpoint and initial mental template you bring into the observation.

So as an example, and for reasons I won't go into (and I readily admit may be wrong), I tend to think of things such as life, consciousness, society, awareness, families, friendship, etc... as Boze-Einstein condensates. So in a classic case of self referential irony, a Bose Einstein condensate discovered itself. ;-)

But on a less metaphysical level but keeping in the same general fractal and scaling down a level to where my colleagues will not commit me to your place of business, I certainly too have strong libertarian tendencies as I'm sure anyone here will concur.

... Yet to be fair to people like Okie, I realize that even libertarians have their own systems of control or they too would see their world spiral into chaos- e.g. character, integrity, reputation, consequence, etc...

So in classic Tweedledee vs. Tweedledum fashion, it still gets into what system of control you like better. And these again of depend on what you think works best for you- e.g the endless self referential rabbit hole we were in when it was more metaphysical.

So I don't think you will find much disagreement on this blog... Though disagreement is fun! Indeed, Deb is an open anarchist who longs for monarchy and mysticism. ;-)

@JP (if you get this... maybe I should post on the other thread)- I skimmed your Spengler link and would love it if you would do us the honor of a post with your thoughts on it.

I think you know I tend to concur with the underlying construct inherent in these kinds of models, but I draw the line at actually using them to predict the future, which I am far more skeptical of our ability to do.

Having said that, if you are making money off them then good job. If you ever care to share just how I'm sure we would all appreciate (except Deb).

Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.

-- Soren Kierkegaard

or my old favorite...

"The past does not repeat itself, but it rhymes."

-- Mark Twain

Thai said...

Oh, and a thought on taxation

I'm increasingly beginning to disagree with those like Mankiw who say we will in fact face increased taxes, though it is obviously hard to say for sure.

And the reason I say this is an observation made by Keith Hennesy in the following post, namely:

"Since the end of World War II the federal government has, on average, spent a little more than 20% of GDP. Over the same time frame, it has financed this 20% by collecting a little more than 18% of GDP in taxes and borrowing the rest from future taxpayers, running an average deficit equal to about 2% of GDP."

I think this observation a very insightful one about the mindset of the American people as a collective and I somehow suspect there is a lot of cognitive dissonance this 20%/18%/2% "set point" encompasses.

We shall obviously see whether this holds true or not.

Thai said...

And one last thought on externalities and commonly held libertarian views such "... Many like sexual behavior or substance use are not like this."

Getting stoned and going back to work the following day (and not driving while stoned) is one thing. Becoming such a drug addict you need full assistance or you will die (or your kids will such as we witness with crack cocaine and black families) is entirely something else.

Similarly, sex itself might be no big deal, but things like pregnancy and STDs such as HIV are very real externalities.

To the extent a new child is brought into this world, or someone is looking for help to treat their HIV, there is most definitely a highly preventable externality from an otherwise simple, private innocuous act.

In my opinion, there is a very real evolutionary reason the big social taboos are big taboos. We may be able to come up with new rules around these issues, but at some level, inherent to the big taboos are some very significant externalities that cannot be made to go away.

I think Libertarians sometimes gloss these issues over.

... And I am not saying that government should try to solve the all as I do not think it always can. Just like all the drug laws in America have not be very successful.

Debra said...

Well, well, well.
Point of view, right ?
From my point of view y'all STILL look rather... repressive in your attitudes toward your... NEIGHBOR.
Finger pointing runs through the comments as a background noise. Not too strong that you can hear it on the same level with the music, of course.
But it's scratching away as background noise.
Doctor John, I keep harping away at Thai about the major problem of seeing things/stuff LIKE A PIE THAT HAS TO BE DIVIDED UP.
(HOW do you divide a pie up into UNEQUAL parts while using the mathematical operation of DIVISION, by the way ? If you use the mathematical operation of division, then you get ALL EQUAL PARTS.. Now.. some people will say that that is a FANTASTIC IDEAL, but.. I don't buy that reasoning. Not at all.)
Thai, the north rim of the Grand Canyon is quieter. You won't find a McDonald's on every corner.. But I guess you're gone now.
Doctor John, I couldn't access your link in the comment ?? (But I'm a computer dummy.)
I'm going to post while the going is good..

Dr John said...

I agree with Thai even though he has left, that even we libertarians need some means of control and choices have consequences. One thing I offer people as a psychiatrist is I tell them I have spent 20 years watching people who are fucking miserable and the lives they lead. They all have a commen thread. There is a right way to live! Moderation in all things. Fidelity. Having a sense of community and caring for others.Take care of your family and those around you but expect the same from others. Life to be of any value must be a life in service of others to some degree. I am agnostic but one thing I will say about most religious creeds is somewhere buried in them there is a few lines about doing unto others. This little experiment we have had with psychiatry which I also believe is reflected in the social welfare state and in the pts who cross my path in a med-surg hospital in a poor city promotes almost unfettered narcissism. Every psych pt I see is screaming "ME ME ME" For people to thrive they must have a strong sense of family and or social bonding. Bog brother govt. is not a substitute for this and in fact it undermines it. I do not live in some pie in the sky world without rules. My kids and friends know them: Take care of yourself. Do no harm to yourself or others by any act or even an act of omission. There is no perfect system of govt. Deb I do not think govt will ever perfect dividing up the pie. This does not occur much in nature and I do not think we humans have risen far above the rest of the beasts.In the end however I will always believe in the system that allows for the most freedoms for the individual. I will take the bad with the good. There will always be plenty of bad to go around. To paraphrase Churchill. "It's the worst form of govt there is...except for all the others". Thai thanks for the physics lesson. I love physics.Sorry to go so off topic. Shall I go back to Carlat yet? Deb, to read my paper just Google Skeptic Prognosis Negative and a link will come up that will allow you to access it.

Debra said...

I can see, Doctor John that I have major work on my hands CONVERTING you...
Oddly enough, the same kind of work that I am doing on my loony forum...
Can you believe it ?
Doesn't it get y'all A LITTLE WORRIED to realize how much you sound like "my" loonies ??
I am one of the few people I know who goes across party lines.
I hang out (not too much, bad for my (spiritual) health) with my "bougeois" neighbor (restricted definition of bourgeoisie, I mean people who "have" a comfortable amount of filthy lucre), but I feel much more AT HOME with my loonies.. who are poor.

Debra said...

Doctor John, I would like your professional opinion about Cymbalta...
A few comments over there in YOUR jungle lead me to believe that it is a nasty drug.
What do YOU think ?
One of my friends has just discovered it as a wonder drug...
I make it a practice of never bursting inflated balloons, nor saying untimely things to the believers (except here, you guys are not in the same boat...), but, I would like your opinion.. Thanks.

Thai said...

Re: externalities


I should have been more superstitious last night and not talked about them the day before I travel as I must have jinxed myself.

Just as we are heading out the door to the airport, the expedia text message alert calls my cell to let me know our flight is delayed 1.5 hours. Since we have a tight layover, we would get stuck in Charlotte.

Now I am on the phone trying to get anther flight... I had to take it away from my wife before she killed the airline phone operator after the operator told her we will just need to stay 24 hours in Charlotte to continue our trip; good service does seem so rare these days.

... There is always a bigger system outside the one we "think" we are playing in. And we tend to ignore until- with good reason in my opinion- until it proves we were always its prisoners as well and simply forgot.

... As Deb likes to say, out through front door but back in through the window.

Wish me luck. ;-)

Debra said...

I wish you luck, Thai.
We don't ignore... we just can't see.
My motto Doctor John ?
Live and let live. It takes all kinds to make a RICH, INTERESTING world.
Moderation ??
It would kill me..

Dr John said...

Deb, after reading your posts I still have no idea what you will be converting me to? As far as Cymbalta goes I have never actively written a prescription. To me it is one of those drugs that I do not clearly see needs to exist or performs some miraculous function that justifies its cost. The fact that I see so many Drs prescribing it, most of them in primary care tells me that most of these Drs must be getting their education from drug reps. The marketing for it is brilliant. Fuck yes depression hurts! Take away my pain dear Cymbalta. What crap. That being said, I do see the drug being used in doses that have no support.(120mg) It appears to have a significant withdrawal syndrome as Venlafaxine does. I think it has the capacity to do similar things.Maybe some good and some bad. I have afamily member with migraine who has been on lots of meds and swears 20mg of Cymbalta cured her. Given its cost I do not know why people prescribe it.

Debra said...

Doctor John, I am not a firm believer in inordinate masochism.
Have you ever gone through the kind of depression where you need someone to physically get you out of bed in the morning ?
It's a humbling experience.
I was happy to pop a little pill the last time for the first time !!! to make things a little better.
Not perfect. But just a little better.
Alongside of other "solutions" to make things better...
Wait and see how I'm converting.

Dr John said...

This is a Wittgenstein moment. I have no idea what anyone experiences that can not get them out of bed but me and you do not either. That is the problem with "depression" as a construct and even discussing it. I have no idea what you are talking about as it applies to you. I can tell you this I HAVE experienced mood states that I only have non-specific descriptive terms for. Dark and black and the like and I felt sucked dry of all pleasure. But you know what. Not getting out of bed has never been a cognitive option. I have 4 children and a family to take care of. Maybe what I have experienced is worse than others or not nearly as bad. Who knows not me or you or anyone else. I will also say that part of my libertarian belief system is I support anyone taking anything that they feel helps them in any way. That includes any anti-depressant ever. When I speak sarcastically of Cymbalta Debra it is not because I feel that there is a problem with people taking it anymore than there is if they have a cocktail or smoke some weed or have a cup of coffee. My problem is that medical psychiatry and drug companies have created a mass market by selling people the idea all of their suffering can be understood by simplistic silly psychiatric constructs. "we understand your pain and Cymbalta is for you" Its the salesmanship I disdain not the pill or the person taking it for goodness sake.

Debra said...

Oops... I forgot my quotation marks... ;-)
Usually I never say "depression". I say... spiritual crisis.
I like that... label better at this time.
But you may like to go back to my post where I mentioned Etty Hillesum and the fact that in Westerbork she said "there should be no more words like "God" or "camp" etc, (I forget). There should be no more words. We should be content to just be."
Dink didn't like that post Dr John..
I'll have to dig it out to give you the reference.

Debra said...

The post is "Letters from Westerbork". In February, I think.

Debra said...

(Gurgling sounds as the ship sinks...)

Dr John said...

What is "being addicted to erector sets"? Are you saying I am a science dork? A quasi materialist? I suspect it is not complimentary..

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