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On “Thursday Throughput for 8/22/19

Congratulations and immense thanks to the doctors, scientists, and technicians who made the Ebola treatment possible. Our thoughts and admiration go out, of course, to the patients who participated in the clinical trials; you are real heroes of humanity.
Interesting development history.

On “Daniel Pantaleo Has Been Fired

If you don’t do anything wrong, you shouldn’t lose your job.
If you do something wrong and it leads to a death, getting fired is a trivial sanction.
What conclusions should be drawn from this firing other than the people in charge are incompetent?

On “Ever Heard “Hey Joe?”

The Byrds recorded it in 1966. Their version is on Youtube, and it is KICKASS. I heard Stevie Van Zandt say that it inspired Hendrix. It is a great song in the woman killing tradition of folksongs that Dylan writes about in Tarantula. This subject is worthy of a full deep investigation. Some energetic person should get on it; this song, murder in folksongs, woman murder in folksongs, and sympathetic treatment of criminals in folksongs is a potential goldmine for commentary.

On “Gillette: The Best a Meme Can Get

Old man’s faulty recollections:
I have had facial hair for sixty years. Sixty years ago Gillette owned the market with Shick as a minor challenger. Gillette’s main marketing strategy was advertising, and they neglected technology and product development. About 55 years ago, a British company, Wilkerson, came along with stainless steel razor blades which were a lot sharper and lasted longer. Guys started bragging about how many shaves they got from one blade in the same tones as their brags about car horsepower. Cheap disposable razors were developed by BIC. Now, razors are a generic commodity, and I don’t have a brand preference.
If you have a market dominant product, spend as much energy developing the next generation of that product as on marketing. If you don’t, the other guy will.

On “So Close, Yet So Far…

My personal vision of the American dream has changed over time. When I was 16, I dreamt of going to California and becoming a surfer; I wanted to go to Surf City because it is two to one. I was living in a moderate sized Midwest town where 40% of workers were in UAW jobs. College made me think that I was sophisticated and I sensed that my hometown had peaked in some way, and I moved to the East Coast. I lived there for ten years. Most people I met in East Coast cities were non-natives. I met few natives of NYC, Boston, or Atlanta in my circles. The East Coast was fun and eye-opening in many ways, but I always felt like a stranger, like you feel as an incoming freshman the first day of high school. I couldn’t go to my hometown; the UAW plant was overseas, and the population was aging, shrinking, getting poorer. I did move West and had a good life. I am considering a move to a Sunbelt retirement town, but I feel too vigorous.
My American dream? I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.

On “Defending Skyler White

One of the functions of ancient drama was catharsis. We discharge our emotions by watching the protagonist suffer the inevitable consequences of his human shortcomings and reflect on our shortcomings. In order for this to work, we need to identify and sympathize with the protagonist. This literary device makes us sympathize with Milton’s Satan, Humbert Humbert, Tony Soprano, and Walter White. Walter White is an objectively evil man who profits from drugs and murders people. However, it is the genius of the show that we come to identify with him. Skyler is one of his victims. Unfortunately we admire the “strong” man and despise victims. We see very few dramas where the “hero” eschews violence and chooses peace, and perhaps this says something about us.

On “Journalism Woman, Mississippi Man

Mr. Foster is running as a Republican. The head of that party is Donald Trump. When it comes to sexual propriety, he strains at gnats but swallows camels.

On “Livable For Whom?

Objective parameters to measure livability that 85% of the population agree with could be established. These parameters would include things like crime rates, housing affordability, commuting times, etc. Someone could write up an index which would be imperfect but a decent rough guide. Of course, this would miss the realities of human life. When I was 22, I was dating a very beautiful woman who was manipulative; I was very unhappy, and my locale didn’t matter. When I was 29, I became a father, and the day I drove my wife and child home was the happiest day of my life, and again the city didn’t matter.

On “Manifestly American: FIFA Women’s World Cup Champions

My heartiest congratulations to the American squad. They are a great team. All of the participants in this tournament are dedicated athletes who deserve respect. I would like to single out the goalkeeper for the Netherlands who made some amazing saves. Rapinoe’s penalty shot goal was simply not humanly stoppable.
I hope that this will inspire some talented young American men to get into the sport. If the inspiration is not enough, google Lionel Messi income.

On “Lee Iacocca: The Car Guy Who Could Count Beans

Mr. Iacocca was an important leader in the automobile industry during the sunset of Detroit. When he started, Detroit was the world leader in car production. By the time he finished, it was clearly in decline. He tried to change things, but the tide ran the other way. Was he effective? He certainly enjoyed great personal success, but did his works benefit our nation ultimately? What is the proper role of the government in intervention of economic activity? There are complex questions to think about.

On “Heroes and Villains

Hasn’t the backstory been a prominent part of fictional characters for a long time? In addition to entertainment, fictions provided catharsis, and to get catharsis we had to identify with the protagonist. The backstory provided this. Oedipus has a backstory, MacBeth has a backstory, Hamlet spends a lot of time telling us his backstory. Even the Brothers Grimm tell us that the King should have invited the witch to the christening of the Princess. We have too many two dimensional characters without backstories in my view.

On “On Climate Change, DNC Decide There Is Nothing to Debate

There has been a lot of moisture in the Midwest this spring. As a result a lot of corn-growing land has not been planted and the flooding is stopping barge traffic on the Mississippi. Is this due to long term climate change? Are there measures that can be taken to ameliorate this flooding? We should study this problem and debate needed changes. Our politics is failing us by focusing on personalities and wedge issues.

On “Onward To Sobriety

Betty Ford was one of the first prominent women who was open about her breast cancer. Previously, this cancer like other cancers was kept hidden from the public; for instance, Grover Cleveland hid his illness. Her openness was instrumental in removing shame and stigma from this disease. She deserves to be remembered for that.


I am a drinker. Do what is right for you. You don’t owe an explanation to anyone.

On “Roundup, Pseudoscience and the Need for Villains

Did Monsanto/Bayer bring in an authority to give testimony? With the resources available to them they must have. Has anyone checked why the jury believed Dr. Nabhan rather than the testimony of the other side?

On “Oh, the Humanity

Jesse Owens commented that he was personally well treated in Berlin by random people in the street often better than random white people back home in Ohio treated him. Human beings are complex. We can emphasize with Germans dying in an aviation accident without supporting Nazism. I feel for German soldiers in the cold of Stalingrad, but I’m glad they lost. The US wars in the Levant are misbegotten, but I think most American soldier are gallant.
Morality means learning to make distinctions. It is improper to surprise a pretty girl with a kiss, but there are times when it is the best thing on earth.

On “Virtue Signaling the Civil War

One thing that I don’t get about the Civil War and lots of other wars is the motivation of the ordinary soldier. What did some guy making the charge alongside Pickett think? The political leaders threw out a bunch of slogans, but I don’t see how that would translate into personal benefit for Johnny Reb. “Here is my chance to get a limb amputated without anesthesia for the cause of states’ rights,” does not strike me as very motivational.

On “The Mirror We Refuse to Look In

Aren’t there studies looking at outcomes that show the VA doing as well or in some cases better than regular health care? When I worked in the VA, I was struck that, yes, it did not emphasize the speediness of throughput that the private system does, but its clientele tended toward lower socioeconomic strata which is why they sought out the VA in the first place. Also, slowness isn’t always bad. A friend had three back surgeries in the private system. Each time he was out the same day and given a referral to a physical therapy provider in a different site. His pain continued. He got into a VA program which sent him to a hospital far away specializing in back problems. He was there for six weeks with daily rehab. He is fine now. No private insurance in America gives six weeks of in-patient rehab.
Of course, there are issues, problems, and failures at the VA as in every other system. We should be vigilant for problems, but in fact the VA does pretty well for many.

On “Susannah The First

I graduated from medical school in 1970. My class was 5% female. No woman applying to med school in my time was told that women were unfit to be doctors, but somehow that was the ratio we had. The previous generation were explicitly told that women were categorically unsuitable. The first woman appointed to the Supreme Court was in 1981. In my youth, which wasn’t really that long ago, there was one woman in the US senate. Things have obviously changed. Activism had a role in producing these changes.

On “Cook County DA Drops the Ball- Or Greases the Wheel

No one has to actually do something overt in order for someone to get special treatment. The machinery of the law enforcement system is quite sensitive to the clout that some have. To pick an old example, Ted Kennedy drove a car off a bridge resulting in a fatality without being charged with anything, or we can make a similar case about Laura Bush. A black kid with some small amount of crack would probably fare worse than the high school principal in the posting.
I think that lessening the severity of punishment combined with more prosecutions might address these problems.

On “Mandatory Vaccines and Libertarianism

1974 was a long time ago. Routine vaccination in the US stopped in 1972.


I want to stop vaccination, and I know how to do it. At one time, governments the world over had a very vigorous policy of enforcing smallpox vaccinations which actually led to some deaths like Nikos Kazantzakis. As a result, smallpox has been eliminated, and no one (with the possible exception of certain biology researchers) gets vaccinated. We could do the same for polio, measles, rubella, and other diseases that do not have significant nonhuman reservoirs. Influenza won't be on that list since there are porcine and avian reservoirs, and the virus mutates rapidly.
Want to greatly decrease vaccinations? Get vaccinated, and get the government to make this generation get vaccinated. This works.

On “A lady, or subscribers?

It was possible in the 1960s. I graduated with no debt. Cost of college has rocketed upward.


I have trouble getting upset over this issue. USC like several other places has always been a preserve for the scions of the rich. The only kids from the lower income strata admitted on a regular basis are the O.J. Simpsons of the world. This family took some illegal shortcuts allegedly, but an arrest with a million dollar bond is a bit much. I am not a watcher of the kind of entertainment that Ms. Loughlin makes, but if I were this stuff would not stop me. The rich have an advantage over the not rich; what else is new?
BTW, the super-rich don’t bribe schools to get their kids in; they give endowments which is perfectly legal.
I come from a working class family. I had excellent SATs. I still could not afford prestige schools. I attended a state university, had scholarships, and worked in the kitchen at my dorm. Turned out o.k. No regrets, no resentment. In retirement am richer than many prestige school graduates.

On “The Right To Choose: Obria Competing With Planned Parenthood May Be A Game Changer For Politics.

Since the current system is resulting in an ever increasing decline in abortions, I don’t understand why antiabortion people want to change it. What’s wrong with success?
Also, why not do HIV testing? Diseases don’t disappear when you ignore them.

*Comment archive for non-registered commenters assembled by email address as provided.