Margaret the chef in 2013

Margaret the Chef

Margaret the Chef 2013

In 1993, Margaret and I traveled to India for a Tiger Safari

India has Cobras

India has Cobras

Taj Mahal India1993

Taj Mahal India1993

Shopping

Shopping

Indian bicycle taxi

Indian bicycle taxi

Jungle hotel by game reserve

Jungle hotel by game reserve

Jeep ride first

Getting ready for elephant ride

Getting ready for elephant ride

Kicking the tires

Kicking the tires

New friend

New friend

On the elephant

On the elephant

Mother tiger as seen from back of elephant

Mother

Baby tigers, only about 250Kg (approx 500 lb). Not quite ready to be on their own

Baby tigers, only about 250Kg (approx 500 lb). Not quite ready to be on their own”

Margaret 1950 to 2016

Margaret in the rain in Vancouver Jan2016

Margaret in Vancouver Jan2016. It was raining and we got this photo

Moon

3/4 moon  
I took this photo last March: 3/4 moon taken from the clear skies of western Nevada, using the telephoto lenses with my Nikon.

Trickle down economics

Trickle down economics:

Trickle down is an idea from classical economics, which some would argue went out of favor during the Great Depression.

Jean-Baptiste Say (Say’s Law) 1767 – 1832 can be considered the father of supply side economics, a made up theory from the Reagan administration.

Alfred Marshall 1842 – 1924 was probably the first, though worded differently – the rising tide floats all boats.

Arthur Laffer – the Laffer Curve. The curve was drawn by Laffer to show how cutting taxes for the rich would stimulate the economy and increase revenue. Laffer, who is still around, has disowned this, as a bad idea.

The marginal tax rate during WW II was 92 or 93%.

The Kennedy administration lowered the marginal rate to 63%, citing the rising tide floats all boats idea.

Ronald Reagan, who had at one time, been paying 93% marginal tax rate wanted a tax cut. This would pay back his rich backers as well. David Stockman, budget director, said that it would wreck the budget. Reagan, an actor, and his administration, invented supply side economics, which brought together Say’s Law, Marshall’s floating boats, and Laffer’s Curve to produce Supply Side economics. George Bush #41, with a degree in economics, described Supply Side Economics as ‘voodoo economics’. Reagan used Supply Side Economics, to sell the idea of large tax cuts to rich people, which led to massive deficits, which led to massive borrowing. Bush #43 used the same justifications for massive tax cuts, which led to even more borrowing.

Recently, Kansas governor R-Sam Brownback used the same justification for tax cuts in Kansas, which has led to large deficits. So, rather than roll back the tax cuts, the obvious solution, Brownback is raising the Kansas sales tax, which affects the poorest people the most, since they spend all the money they earn. And affects rich people the least, since they can save or invest, which isn’t affected by the sales tax. Brownback is also laying off teachers and sending out furlough notices to state workers. Trickle down lives on in Kansas.

Conservatives don’t learn from the present. Or maybe the money they get from rich people, affects their hearing.

The bottom line is that trickle down economics was used as justification for giving huge tax breaks to the rich people who bankrolled the politicians.

One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America by Kevin Kruse.

One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America by Kevin Kruse.
I have wondered for a number of years, why America is so religious, when most of the industrialized world has matured into secularism. I figured that it was because Americans had figured out how to make money from religion. This book traces the rise of religion in America, from the Great Depression to the present. Before that, America was maturing the same as Canada and Europe. I wasn’t able to find any faults or factual errors in his historical argument.

The basic story is that some people with money, were upset with the general impression that they had caused the Great Depression. So, they found some willing people to promote the idea that Christianity and Capitalism were the same thing; Jesus would have been a capitalist. And these capitalists were just being good Christians.

Keep in mind that the people with money during the Great Depression were old white men, old, Christian, white men to be precise. And there were men and women who were willing to make money on the gullibility of the American people.

So now, we are stuck with a population of evolution deniers who think the earth is 6,000 years old and that Global Climate Change is a hoax.

This is one of the best books I have read so far in 2015.

Did Jesus Exist update

The Christian Bible is historical fiction. How can you take it seriously? There is no evidence outside the fictional Christian Bible for a historical Jesus/Joshua ben Yusef. The closest is Joshua ben Ananas who was executed by the Romans around 66 CE as the leader of a Jewish revolt. Joshua was a rather common name at the time, like David or Soloman/Suleiman. The more I read, not just Richard Carrier, the less likely, it seems to me, that there was a historical Jesus. My current estimate is less than 5% probability that Joshua ben Yusuf existed – my Bayesian estimate. Also, it is unlikely there was a historical Moses/Moshe (40 years to walk 200 K!), there was no global deluge (give me a break). Jesus / Joshua is most likely euphemism from existing gods in the region, all now considered mythical. The closest one being the Egyptian god Horus, born Dec 25 of the virgin Isis, performed miracles, raised the dead (narrative very similar to Lazarus in one case. 2 Sisters etc.), executed by his enemies, rose from the dead after 3 days. That was a common motif in the region at that time. The Roman god Romulus follows much the same formula and there are more.

The literate Greek speaking writers of the Bible knew these stories, they were educated after all. How could they miss it? With many similar stories in the region at that time, why would I think that the Jesus story is true, while all the others are false? Especially when the other stories pre-dated the Christian story. It defies logic. For Romulus, you can read Plutarch’s Lives. The god Romulus gets an entire chapter. And Plutarch’s Lives is rather inexpensive. I think it was free on Kindle. Come to think of it, that is the same price I paid for several versions of the Christian Bible.

The difference, for me, is that I have been reading the history of the region at that time. I am not afraid of being wrong or learning new things. When I look at the Jesus story, I put it into the historical context, and decide that it is rather unlikely. The thing that interests me is the psychology behind believing things like that. And, what was the motivation of its promoters?

DaveN
Wandering in the desert. It won’t take 40 years!

Miracles, do they happen today.

The reason that miracles don’t happen today is the scientific method. Does intercessionary prayer work if the recipient doesn’t know that he/she is being prayed for – NO,

science:
the placebo effect
selection bias
confirmation bias
the compliance effect

religion:
it’s a miracle!

Hindu milk. For those of you who don’t know about Hindu milk ( more than 90% of Americans and Canadians), it refers to a miracle where a statue of Ganeesh was drinking milk in 1995 and 1996. A Hindu friend told me about this and asked what I thought of it. Many, many Indians thought it was a miracle. When you get a few more details, it isn’t quite as miraculous. If Ganeesh stood up and did the Mambo, that would be impressive. In this case, a human would hold up a small saucer of milk to the statue of Ganeesh. Ganeesh then proceeded to drink the milk. The statue is very porous. The milk is drawn into the porous statue, the same way that water is drawn into a plant by its roots. Not so miraculous. Drink enough and there is a puddle.

A few months ago, I read Babylon Confidential by Claudia Christian. She told about her alcoholism and her eventual treatment using Naltrexone. Then Dr. Hiten Sony MD posted on Facebook, the book, The Sober Truth: Debunking the Bad Science Behind the 12 Steps Program and the Rehab Industry by Lance Dodes MD and Zachary Dodes.

Alcoholics Anonymous is a modern day miracle. Almost no one questions it in the US, well except some scientists and medical doctors. It has a miraculous cure rate of as much as 85%. AA is largely a religious organization, based on the Oxford Groups religious system. The Dodes do a scientific analysis of the program and find that it isn’t so miraculous after all. If you want to see how science tackles miracles, I strongly recommend the book. It is well written. The heading science above, gives a list of the problems with AA. The actual cure rate is closer to 4% or 5%. I had thought it would be around 15%. The difference, I think, is the criteria used for evaluation. The studies are based on the idea of people who stay with the program, and then are available for follow-up evaluation. My 15% would be people who attended a few AA meetings, stopped drinking, and didn’t fall back. In that case, it wasn’t AA that cured them, but their own physiology. That is my analysis anyway, and hard to evaluate, since they didn’t stay with the program to be evaluated.

When you remove all the scientific errors in the AA miracle, you are left with a rather small number of people who are very enthusiastic and proselytize. It is very similar to religious miracles.

I have had some alcoholic friends over the years, and was frustrated that there didn’t seem to be anything to fix the problem.

DaveN
I have had some alcoholic friends over the years.

Trip West with RV Oct 2014

Copper Mountain, CO
Copper Mountain, CO  
I decided to travel, so I bought an RV to go along with my van. This is the rest stop just west of Copper Mountain, CO. Snow! The road was clear. Oct2014

I have a drinking problem

I have a drinking problem.

I don’t drink, but people around me do. My Grandfather, on my mother’s side died of DTs during prohibition. I never met him. I have known a fair number of people who were alcoholics, as well as other addicts. I never understood it, I just thought it was lack of willpower. Just don’t do it!

Recently, I read about Naltrexone, which was FDA approved in 1994 for the treatment of alcohol addiction. It works about 80% of the time, at the one year follow up. In this case, the criteria is to have drinking under control, some stop drinking altogether, others drink socially, without getting drunk.

Programs such as AA work about 15% of the time at one year follow up. AA is an abstinence program.

There are 3 drugs approved for the treatment of alcohol addiction:
Anatabuse – makes you sick when you drink alcohol.
Flagyl – makes you sick when you drink alcohol.
Getting sick can by avoided by not taking the drug for the 2 above.
Naltrexone and related drugs - you have to engage in the addiction for it to work. You take the Naltrexone an hour before drinking. it works as an opioid antagonist. In other words, it works on the endorphin system, blocking the pleasurable effect. Using it one hour before drinking, is called extinction. You don’t get the endorphin high from drinking, and you get the behavior under control. It takes 3 to 4 months to have it completely under control.

Most addicts fail in less than a year. The craving is too great. The craving is still there, unless you remove the craving.

I read a book by one of my favorite Science-fiction actors, Claudia Christian. She played Ivanova on Babylon 5. The book is Babylon Confidential: A Memoir of Love, Sex and Addiction. She is now a promoter of the use of Nalterexone and the related drugs. The book she is promoting is The Cure for Alcoholism: the Medically Proven Way to Eliminate Alcohol Addiction by Roy Eskapa.

If you have a drinking problem, I strongly recommend that you read this book. There may be benefit for other addictions as well, as long as it involves the endorphin system. Sorry, it doesn’t work with nicotine, which doesn’t use the endorphin system.

You need a prescription for Naltrexone. Buy the book and take it to your doctor when you visit, to get a prescription. It you already have cirrhosis of the liver, you need one of the other, related drugs such as Nalmefene, which are not metabolized by the liver.

One odd factoid. Danger! Danger! Don’t take Naltexone before engaging in the good addictions, such as jogging or bicycling, which also use the endorphin system. They recommend going a day without Naltrexone, before engaging in healthy addictions.

This is the first real treatment I have seen for alcohol addiction, besides will power. About 15% of people are able to stop by willpower alone. Now there is a drug to help the rest. The patent has expired on Naltrexone, so, don’t expect any American pharmaceutical company to promote it.

Methadone is used for heroin addiction. It is a replacement addiction. I saw it in use when I worked at St. Boniface Hospital in Winnipeg. Apparently, it does work as long as they take it. I wonder if Naltrexone would work for that?

You heard it here.

DaveN