Days to Avoid Surgery

I learned the hard way to avoid Friday surgeries. It had nothing to do with mortality (obviously). It had everything to do with pain management. My post-surgical pain was intense (very, very intense), but I was unable to reach my surgeon on Saturday. For that reason alone (the unavailability of medical professionals on weekends), I will do my best to avoid having any surgery on a Friday. But there’s more. And the more is potentially far more serious. Continue reading

A Sleeping Giant?

It’s easy not to think about Africa. It’s not an economic, political, or military powerhouse. Yet it’s big. Very big. Here’s a reminder:

Two African countries have populations over 100 million: Nigeria, the largest, with more than 181 million, and Ethiopia with nearly 104 million.

From afar, it seems like tribalism, religion, and racism are holding it back, as well as corruption. But I’m far from an expert in such matters. I don’t pretend to understand deeply the issues faced by the continent and its individual countries and peoples.

What’s clear, however, is that the continent has abundant natural resources and many talented and highly capable people. It’s hard to imagine it’s future will not be bright.

Trumponomics

President Trump and his minions on the Hill gave a gigantic tax cut to rich people and corporations this year, which translated into a $1.5 billion tax cut (approx. ) for General Motors. Supposedly all of this was necessary to make America great again. And to win!

Today, GM announced it was shuttering two U.S. assembly plants and two U.S. propulsion plants. In addition to the U.S. workers at those four plants who will be losing their jobs, 15 percent of the salaried staff at GM will lose their jobs as well.

Here is what Wall Street thinks of the cuts. In short, Wall Street loves it. It realizes this means higher margins and more money for the investors. The fact that labor is once again getting kicked to the curb isn’t the concern of the owners.

Meanwhile, U.S. tax receipts are dropping like a rock, further inflating the country’s debt balloon. Consequently, the Government is having to incur huge amounts of debt that our kids and their kids will have to service in the years and decades to come.

Isn’t it great that U.S. citizens thought it was wise to elect the self-proclaimed King of Debt to the presidency?

All of this winning is exhausting.

 

Designer Humans

Scientists in China have been recruiting couples in an effort to create the first gene-edited babies according to this report in MIT Technology Review titled “EXCLUSIVE: Chinese scientists are creating CRISPR babies.”

I suppose it was inevitable. Nonetheless, it’s scary as hell. Where will it lead? Where will it end? Or is the concept of end obsolete? Or closer than ever?

Every technological advance carries with it both beneficial and harmful consequences. Or so it seems to me. It’s easy to posit the beneficial aspects of gene-editing. But the potential harmful effects aren’t so easy to imagine. Yet there are real. And potentially very scary.

I wonder what it will be like for parents when you’re at a child-bearing age, Vera. I suspect your experience will be very different from that of your mother and grandmothers. You may have choices that were beyond our imaginations.

In the meantime, humans must find a way to deal with the ethical issues posed by these new technological capabilities. Indeed, humans might need to find a way to preserve the species generally.

We are entering a new age. And there is much beyond the reach of our headlights.

Taking Stock as I Come Down the Homestretch

The year is coming to a close. Christmas is only a month away. It spurred me to revisit my New Year’s resolutions. Since I have only five weeks left.

Here are my resolutions and my status report:

  • Meditate daily – Tried but failed. Perhaps I didn’t try hard enough. Or perhaps I quit too soon. I may return to this when my mind is in a better place. At this point, however, suffice it to say I’m not in control of my thoughts.
  • Read at least one book per week – Not sure. I had started the year by keeping a list of all the books I was reading, but that became a chore so I stopped. I’ve read a lot. Whether it averages out to be one per week doesn’t seem important to me.
  • Volunteer and make new friends at the nursing home down the street – Done.
  • No alcohol from Monday through Thursday – Tried but failed until September. I came back from a long weekend in Cincy (to see my Pittsburgh Pirates play the Reds) and dumped most of my liquor down the drain. I decided it was unable to discipline myself when it was in the house. Since then I depleted the few items I couldn’t bring myself to discard (rye whiskey, Scotch, and a few beers). Now all I have in the house is wine for dinners. I intend to limit my consumption of spirits to restaurants, etc. In short, progress.
  • Avoid ice cream and candy and press my War on Sugar – OMG this is hard. Sometimes I do great; other times I fall off the wagon and stay off. The power of sugar is strong. Very strong. I shall continue to press my War on Sugar. I refuse to surrender. Yet I’m not certain I shall ever achieve complete victory. I do, however, need to lose weight. And I shall.
  • Exercise daily, with three or more intense workouts a week – Mixed success. I can’t say I never miss a day. I do. But I biked more this year (outside on my Scott) than I have in a couple of years, and I continue to ride the Peloton cycle in the basement and lift weights. I upgraded the exercise room. Trends are favorable.
  • Discover one or two great investment ideas – Not yet, but the year isn’t over. My biggest achievement of the year is having avoided some of the losses sustained by those who held FANG stocks or QQQ into the fall. I’ve had some nice winners but also some ugly losers. This is a game I’m still trying to master.
  • One silent solo retreat – Scheduled for January (a bit late but close enough). More to come on that.
  • Focus more on myself and the people and things that are important to me and over which I have some control or influence, and less on politics and society – I’m still working on this one. I’m hoping the retreat helps me get in touch with reality and less involved with the narratives and illusions that continue to dominate my thoughts.

Our Feelings Are Being Hacked

If you think you’re immune from being hacked (and, yes, I mean you, not your computer), then you’re probably not aware. And perhaps there is nothing as dangerous as lack of awareness.

Yuval Noah Harari outlines 21st-century hacking dangers in this Ted Talk and offers suggestions for resistance. It’s well worth watching. And, more importantly, it’s worth considering the risks and challenges to individuality. To independent thought. The risks to you. To me.

It’s also worth questioning whether we should be participating in certain internet platforms such as Facebook. Some time back I decided to drop out of FB and am convinced it was the right thing to do.

Last week I watched the Steelers-Panthers football game on Fox. It came with Amazon Prime. It’s the first I had watched commercial television in a while. OMG, the commercials. And the product placement in the announcer booth. The entire experience was commercialized and manipulative. It was a good reminder of the constant attacks on our independence. On independent thought.

Awareness. I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately. And realizing how unaware I still am.

Misogyny Turns Out to be a Turn Off for Certain Women

When you choose a misogynist bully to lead your party, as have the Republicans, it turns out certain people will be repelled by your values. Especially, certain women.

I remain perplexed by women who continue to support the misogynist-in-chief. But it is what it is. At least there will be fewer of them in Congress next year. And more women who find his crude, demeaning, predatory conduct to be repulsive and thoroughly unacceptable.