Monday, October 24, 2016

The Geomagnetic Disturbances Of September 1941 - Will We Be Ready When It's Our Time?

The giant, complex sunspot group observed on Sept. 10, 1941.

In September, 1941, one of the most prominent geomagnetic storms in history was triggered by a  mammoth sunspot group of complex geometry. (See image) The monster group, first observed on Sept. 10, 1941,  occurring at low heliographic latitude and at the eastern limb of the Sun. As I noted in previous posts on such large spots, they form via the  gradual assembly of multiple, single flux tubes via convective downdrafts,   ultimately leading to the buoyant emergence of a concentrated magnetic field structure with distinct features (umbra, umbral dots, penumbra).

The multiple flux tube sunspot model was originally advanced by Eugene Parker (Astrophys. J, 1979) from the University of Chicago. A simple sketch showing the geometry of the model is illustrated below:

Where  v d   represents the downdraft velocity and 'x' is the Wilson depression, denoting the gap between the spot 'surface' and the field -free regions. Parker estimated this to be about 1150 km.  The downdraft velocity, meanwhile, he calculated to be roughly 2 km/sec.

In more detail, the concentration of hundreds of flux elements or tubes at the solar surface prevented the underlying hot solar plasma from reaching the surface.  This also accounted for why sunspots are darker than the surrounding photosphere, because they are some 1500 K cooler,

Observations made over the next week (Sept. 10- 17, 1941)  disclosed the spot group growing even as the solar rotation brought it near the center of the solar disk as seen from Earth. As we know today, this is also the configuration for meridian-centered  CME (coronal mass ejection).  By this stage, the sunspot group was large enough to be seen using the naked eye (using an appropriate filter, of course)

Then at 8h 38m Universal time on Sept. 17th, a spectrohelioscope at the Royal Greenwich Observatory recorded a solar flare above this sunspot group. The instrument detected emissions of ultraviolet and x-ray radiation which - within 8 minutes (the time taken for radiant energy to reach Earth) enhanced the ionization of the Earth's atmosphere causing a sharp perturbation known as a "crochet".

According to a subsequent paper published in The Astrophysical Journal  (July 1, 1958) this is a "relatively minor disturbance of Earth's magnetic field which occurs concurrently with certain flares".  It is associated with dayside perturbations of the geomagnetic field and affects high frequency radio communications. In this respect, it is analogous to a certain class of sudden ionospheric disturbances.

On the basis of daily sunspot numbers supplied by the U.S. Naval Observatory the Dept. of Terrestrial Magnetism at the Carnegie Institution of Washington formally issued a warning to radio operators to expect significant disturbances in ionosopheric and geomagnetic conditions. beginning on September 18th.   This prediction turned out to be accurate so that within 20 hours of the flare a magnetic storm began at 4h 2m UT on Sept. 18th with the arrival of a CME.  The latter abruptly compressed the magnetopause generating a magnetic impulse recorded by observatories around the world.

In addition, a magnetic "superstorm" followed which was intense and of long duration. To fix ideas and perspective at least one magnetic observatory (run by U.S. Coast and Geodetic survey) registered six separate magnetic storms with a "K index" of 9  the most  severe possible. Five occurred over a 24 hour period.

The more direct physical effects followed including spectacular auroral displays as far south as New Mexico with some citizens wondering if an anti-aircraft search battery had been triggered. (Bear in mind the nation was on edge and this was barely three months before Pearl Harbor).  Meanwhile, magnetic activity was found to abruptly increase by 19h 45 m on Sept. 18th and within 5 minutes the Pennsylvania Water and Power Company  recorded uncontrolled voltage variations in transmission lines beginning two hours after the  magnetic storm commenced.

By Sept. 18-19 widespread interference in radio transmission was reported around the world.

The events of September, 1941 are instructive in that they could occur again, say in the next solar cycle. Will we be ready?

At least at that time, as my mother noted (she was then attending  Wisconsin State Teachers' College) the newspapers regularly published brief scientific accounts such as that below *:

This appeared on Sept, 21st, days after the  geomagnetic events, and in The Milwaukee Sentinel.  Though mom was not big on physics or astronomy, she'd save these clippings to be able to use later on, perhaps even to show to her future kids - if she ever got married and had any. (Five years later, she would)  Happily, some ten years later I was the chief beneficiary. Those clippings, along with the associated material in The Book Of Knowledge, drove me to pursue astronomy as a hobby by age 11 and later,  a career in space and solar physics.

Because of these same information- bearing cartoons, citizens  of the 1940s and 50s were generally informed about natural events even if they lacked advanced degrees. Can the same be said of most citizens today? One wonders.

The more critical question is whether we will be prepared when the next severe geomagnetic disturbance and magnetic superstorms erupt.

*  Of course, in 1941 the basic model of the sunspot was of a magnetic "vortex" or "whirling magnet".  Even Harvard astronomer Donald Menzel in is wonderful monograph, ''Mathematical Physics' (1961, pp. 274-75) asserted: "Observations suggest sunspots are vortices. He then set out to try to quantify this vortex model as a spinning disk with n electrons per cm2  and which rotates with uniform angular velocity..

He obtained:

n =   2 H/   e v o

where v  is the tangential velocity at the periphery of the vortex-disk.. From these basics, Menzel computed:

n =  10 15 electrons / cm2

Menzel  then concluded that given the above, "an excess of protons would produce forces 6 x  10 15  as great"  and  "a sunspot with such an excess would break up with explosive violence".

He added:

"An excess of one proton per sixty square centimeters on the solar surface would produce sufficient positive potential just to overcome the solar attraction by electrostatic repulsion of an electron"
Thereby concluding "the Sun is practically neutral electrically"

What about the magnetic aspect?

"No alignment of the individual atom magnets could possibly be maintained in the presence of the turbulent motion and high temperatures existing on and in the Sun, The effect is undoubtedly electrical..."

One can only marvel at how our understanding of sunspots has progressed since Menzel's book.

See also:

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Are American Workaholics Better Off Than Europeans? Absolutely Not!

 Workaholic Americans could take a lesson or two from the Europeans who refuse to live to work, opting instead to do the reverse .  A new study has measured precisely how much more Americans work than Europeans, overall. The answer: The average person in Europe works 19 percent less than the average person in the U.S. That’s about 258 fewer hours per year, or about an hour less each weekday. Another way to look at it: U.S. workers put in almost 25 percent more hours than Europeans.

The study was done by economists Alexander Bick of Arizona State University, Bettina Bruggemann of McMaster University in Ontario, and Nicola Fuchs-Schundeln of Goethe University Frankfurt.  One of the more unusual findings was that Swiss work habits were most similar to Americans’, while Italians are the least likely to be at work, putting in 29 percent fewer hours per year than Americans do.  The Swiss finding really isn't that mysterious given that Geneva and Switzerland itself was the springboard for Calvinism and its rigid work ethic.  (Much of which was also transported to the U.S.)

Is it any wonder then that with all the overwork (even more than the Swiss) we have a nation featuring twenty percent of citizens with moderate to severe mental disorders, nearly half of those suffering from explosive reaction syndrome, and another 5 percent with borderline personality disorder or paranoid psychosis? The latter who, when pushed to the limit,  blow up, kill fellow workers, or go berserk in other ways. As reported in one 2014 SciAm piece, after a survey of American workers, "half of the surveyed workers  confessed that they were reaching a breaking point after which they would not be able to accommodate the deluge of data."

Well, how about taking a vacation? A holiday? Time away from the damned job?  I mean real time, with no company connections, no email checking. And we're talking here of white collar workers on their electronic tethers in assorted information fields. What about the havoc in the lives of the rest of the overworked citizenry? Well, start with drug, opioid and alcohol addiction, then move on to neuroses and psychoses driven by overwork (50-60 hrs./ week)  and also (often) trying to be caretakers at the same time they meet the bosses' demands.  How do we know Americans are overworked to mental oblivion, apart from the actual hours put in?

- Over  $150 b "left on the table" each year in terms of unused vacation days

- 577 million unused vacation days each year

- 55 percent of vacation days that are taken always occur with office work taken along

WHY are Americans risking their mental health for the capitalist 0.001 percent? So the high fliers can eat even more foie gras and enjoy 18 holes on St. Kitts every month, as their wives lavish in rose wine wraps every day?  Of course, most workers will cite "fear" as the prime reason, meaning that if they take those days then they may likely return to find themselves without a job, never mind they might get ill from the added stress.

The  new study was designed to make it easier to compare countries to each other, by capturing the overall hours per person, not just for people with jobs. That incorporates not just the length of the typical workweek but also retirement, vacation, unemployment, and other time spent out of the workforce.

We also know not all time spent at the office, shop, or factory is time well spent. Output is also critical to the productivity equation, but difficult to quantify. Besides, let's not mince words, once you are in the work place you are being monitored by cameras every second you are there, whether you are a postal worker or a paper pusher. (In the latter case, keystrokes may also be measured per hour).  So it's not like you can just take 'five' every ten minutes without the boss catching on to you. In other words, if you have any sense you better be 'on' every minute you're at work.

Nevertheless, it’s important to have a reliable calculation of hours worked per person to accurately measure productivity, the amount of economic value nations get out of each hour their citizens spend working. The study’s detailed data could help researchers figure out why Americans toil so much longer than Europeans and which factors most influence productivity.

One theory is that Americans work longer hours because their additional effort is more likely to pay off. People earn a wider range of incomes in the U.S., so “workers have an incentive to try harder to move up the job ladder because a promotion is worth more,” according to Dora Gicheva, an economist at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, citing a study that compared the U.S. with Germany.

But our long time German friends,  Reinhardt and Elli (see photo below), dispute that take.

Near Garmisch-Partenkirchen Germany in 2013.L-R: Me, Elli, Janice and Reinhardt

At the time we had discussions in May, 2013 with Reinhardt about the relative merits of the German and American work forces,  he'd been emphatic that the idea that promotions were "worth more" in the USA was nonsense. "Workers have just as great an incentive here in Germany", he said, because seniority is based on the quality of one's work and "that same seniority determines one's pension."  When I pressed him further he agreed that Germans aren't ruled 'by the buck' (or euro), "Jawohl, it is true that we do not consider the money to be the main determinant of our lives. We treasure time to be with family also to travel and see the world later on."

He did agree also that higher taxes are part of it and enable benefits like higher pensions, more widely distributed social insurance and child care provisions in Germany, as well as a less profit oriented healthcare system. He acknowledged that taxes in the U.S. are substantially lower than in Europe but made it clear that translated into more social benefits for Europeans. "It is interesting" he said, "but if Americans were willing to pay higher taxes they might have to pay less in healthcare costs because they could have a system more like ours, less based on profits!"

Too true!

Other studies have suggested that this higher tax burden reduces the incentive to earn more by putting in extra hours. According to Lee Ohanian, an economist at the University of California-Los Angeles.

Americans are indeed richer than Europeans, and one reason why is because of taxes that depress the incentives to work in Europe,”

But that depends on your definition of being "richer", i.e. whether in terms of time or money. Most of our European friends value wealth in time over money wealth. As our Czech friends Martin and Gabriella told us while we dined out in Prague: "You can't take the money with you. But time can provide you with the opportunity to make real social contacts and travel, enrich your family and your life."

Czech friends Martin and Gabrielle in Prague last summer. Each of them gets up to eight weeks off from their respective jobs.

Martin told us a large part of the more civilized holiday structure in Europe was due to the relatively stronger labor unions there, along with other worker protections.  As Gabrielle, Martin's gf,  put it: "Here in Europe the companies cannot work us to death or insanity like they do people in your country. That's why we can travel our continent for weeks at a time. Your countrymen would probably feel they have to check their cell phones or emails every day or twice or more a day!"

Their views appear to be supported. Economists at Harvard and Dartmouth concluded in a 2006 study that:

 “The data strongly suggest that labor regulation and unionization appear to be the dominant factors explaining the differences between the United States and Europe,”

Meanwhile our German friends Reinhardt and Elli both agreed that generous pensions in Europe are also a strong factor in discouraging older people from working. Compare Germany where very few citizens are still on the job to the U.S., with more people over 65 working than at any point in the past 50 years.

But don't ascribe that to a "desire" of elders to go out there and hoof it until their bones break. It's because Germans still retain a proper pension system, provided by their companies (like Reinhardt's architectural design firm - allowing him to leave work at 55). Meanwhile, U.S. companies have gone from the defined benefit plan to the 401k as an ostensible alternative. But this has always been absurd.

William Wolman and Anne Colamosca in their book 'The Great 401k Hoax', (2002),  assert that the 401k was never designed as an "investment" vehicle but as a purely savings medium. It was meant to salt your money away in safe, low risk abodes - while being matched by your company to some degree- and all the while sheltered from taxes. But almost from the start of the plan, named after the section in the tax code, workers were driven to put money into stocks, mainly equities, and other high risk instruments.  Little wonder, that small fry investors in 401ks have been fried and refried, over and over again. Under such conditions, the small investor risks his money and security.

Little wonder also, with this deplorable 'bait and switch' - elders have been forced to put the pedal to the metal longer and longer. (Which, btw, IS a bad thing because their  retention of jobs means less opportunity for younger workers.)  So make no mistake that the U.S.’s shift from traditional pensions to 401(k) plans made it harder for Americans to know when it was safe to retire. At the same time, the constant drumbeat of the financial media to "have at least $1 million" on hand, has postponed practical retirement for too many, which they could enjoy if they just had more realistic spending expectations. In Europe they do.

One thing is clear: The difference in hours worked between Americans and Europeans is more than a difference in cultures. As recently as the early 1970s, according to several studies, people in the U.S. and Western Europe worked about the same number of hours per week. So why the change in the U.S.?  Basically, because the twin phenomena of Neoliberalism and globalization in the U.S. eroded too much worker security.

Neoliberalism, arguing that citizens must not expect economic security (including from pensions and "entitlements") reared its ugly head in the 1980s. Most won't say it, but it was Neoliberal ideology that drove the impetus to withdraw the defined pension and offer the 401 k in its place. Enough of guaranteed retiree security at the hands of companies! Then in the 1990s the globalization aspect took hold with the signing of the NAFTA deal and we know where that's led. See e.g.

It is also the U.S. Neoliberal mind virus driving the demand to cut Social Security, just as it is Neoliberal economics which is using a false measure of inflation to cut retirees' Social Security COLAs - effectively translating into a significant Medicare premium hike for many. So no wonder many seniors have to go back to work.  But not Reinhardt! With his $8,000 euro/month pension he is free to pursue his many hobbies, including horticulture, as well as visit many different places with wife Elli.

Another American work aspect which galls both Martin and Reinhardt is the lack of off time for illness. In contrast to the European Union, which mandates 20 days of paid vacation (the Netherlands has 26), the U.S. has no federal laws guaranteeing paid time off, sick leave or even breaks for national holidays. This is disgusting! Or to use Reinhardt's phrase: "Shrecklich!"

Both were also nonplussed to learn that  a survey by Harris Interactive found that, at the end of 2012, Americans had an average of nine unused vacation days. And in several surveys Americans have admitted that they obsessively check and respond to e-mails from their colleagues or feel obliged to get some work done in between occasional swims, and going on a sightseeing junket.

Unfortunately, it is more likely most Americans will simply use the new study to justify their workaholism, as opposed to fighting it. While we need most average American workers putting their feet down and saying 'NO More!', the odds of that happening are about the same as Trump asserting he will accept the results of the election before Nov. 8th.  So we have to face the fact that most Americans would rather remain half-sick, mentally unstable worker drones than seize that precious commodity of time to anchor their lives and families. 

Alas, because of this misplaced value system, we can expect many more to come apart at the seams in the years ahead!

Time To Halt The Russian Hacking Hysteria - Fact: We Don't Know WHO Launched Yesterday's Cyber Attack

Almost like clockwork as news of the denial of service attack on the internet spread, out came media dunderheads and propagandists blaming it on the Russians.  But as I pointed out several months ago, in respect of the DNC hack (also blamed on the Russians) there isn't a scintilla of hard, incontrovertible evidence.

I cited tech sources that noted the sheer difficulty about actually positively identifying the source of the hack, indeed any hack. As one expert put it (on the site, : "Just because you find an AK -47 lying around doesn't mean a Russian was responsible". Same thing with a system hack bearing  "Russian Cyrillic letters in the code". Ever heard of spoofing a hack? When did we see this before? Well with the claimed Sony  hack by N. Korea three years earlier. (Which turned out to be due to a disaffected, former  Sony employee).

Worse, the cyber security firms (like 'CrowdStrike')  and resident "experts" that make these wild claims are often the beneficiaries of   "faith-based attribution"  whereby they skate and are never held accountable when they are wrong. SO pardon me if I didn't bite then about "the Russians and Putin doing it" and don't now with this massive hack attack yesterday. Indeed, too many Americans have the memories of gnats and appear to forget there is a perfectly capable group out there ("Anonymous")  that has done denial of service attacks before and isn't connected to any "Russians". See e.g.

As the line in the preceding paragraph points out (and I implore readers to read the entire account):

"It’s important to know that the process of attributing an attack by a cybersecurity company has nothing to do with the scientific method. Claims of attribution aren’t testable or repeatable because the hypothesis is never proven right or wrong. Neither are claims of attribution admissible in any criminal case, so those who make the claim don’t have to abide by any rules of evidence (i.e., hearsay, relevance, admissibility).

The closest analogy for a cybersecurity company’s assignment of attribution is an intelligence estimate, however intelligence analysts who write those estimates are held accountable for their hits and misses. If the miss is big enough (No WMDs in Iraq, missed India’s five nuclear bomb tests in ’98, missed Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990, etc.), there are consequences, and perhaps a Congressional investigation.

When it comes to cybersecurity estimates of attribution, no one holds the company that makes the claim accountable because there’s no way to prove whether the assignment of attribution is true or false unless (1) there is a criminal conviction, (2) the hacker is caught in the act, or (3) a government employee leaked the evidence."

The last paragraph is especially important about no one holding the cyber bunch making the original  claim to account because there's no way to prove the assignment of attribution is true. Thus, Crowdstrike and its sister corporate companies - even the FBI - can make all the rash claims they want about "the Russians" but no one will hold them to account given the lack of proof.

It's analogous to a rash physicist making a claim, say that heat generated in a one-off experiment arose from "cold fusion".  But he has no way to replicate it,  no way to prove it. He has succumbed to "faith based attribution".  But given with these recent hacks, rash claims against nation states put us in a geopolitical arena, it is reckless to assign blame without 100 % hard proof. This is given that any consequences could be severe.

For example, launching a U.S. cyber attack on Russia could provoke a full scale cyber war. Let us also, for reference, note that the Stuxnet worm that was released to attack Iranian centrifuges back in 2012  was known to have the potential to be "re-purposed" by just about any adept hacker. See, e.g.

In terms of faith -based attribution, recall James R. Clapper Jr. (the same character who lied before the Senate Intelligence Committee  denying the U.S. had  any mass surveillance of its citizens) recently said in a statement on Oct. 7 that "high-level Russian officials were trying to interfere with American elections."

But to refer back to the previous tech link again:

"the closest profession to the attribution estimate of a cyber intelligence analyst is that of a religious office like a priest or a minister, who simply asks their congregation to believe what they say on faith. The likelihood that a nation state will acknowledge that a cybersecurity company has correctly identified one of their operations is probably slightly less likely than God making an appearance at the venue where a theological debate is underway about whether God exists"

In other words, Clapper is more playing the role of a padre citing religious   dogma than a cyber intelligence analyst or authority. It simply doesn't hold water, it's merely faith based attribution that serves the purpose of spreading anti-Russian propaganda.

Perhaps the biggest slam on today's cyber companies hurling these attributions is that their methodology is largely passe. Thus:

"Many of the cyber intelligence analysts who work at companies like CrowdStrike, FireEye, and Mandiant have come out of the military or the Intelligence Community with prior analytic training."

The problem is these companies are still using unstructured analysis as opposed to structured. This difference was explained by Maj. Robert D. Folker, Jr. (USAF) in his January, 2000 paper “Intelligence Analysis In Theater Joint Intelligence Centers: An Experiment In Applying Structured Methods” published by the Joint Military Intelligence College. He believed that adding structure would vastly reduce the conjecture component and yield "superior results". It remains to be seen whether any of these cyber security outfits have upped their game, and until they do we simply can't accept their conclusions any more than a religious dogma.

Until real evidence manifests, citizens would be well advised not to jump to conclusions,  especially when assorted "authorities" insist they have identified  the culprits for the hack. No they have not. Again, read the full account in the "faith based attribution" link.

For the person grounded in deep politics, these unproven accusations from the Neoliberal and Neocon national security state fetishists are especially disturbing as we've seen this before. The spread of propaganda prior to an attack on the specified "enemy".  One can only hope this isn't leading up to a full scale cyber attack on the Russians, followed by the folly of trying to implement a "no fly zone" over Syria after HRC is elected. As one observer put it on Chris Hayes' All In several nights ago, that would be a harbinger of nuclear war.

Temperatures are soaring with this general election. It is important the nation and its people keep their cool and operate within the province of evidence and reason - not "faith" - when it is finished.

See also:


Friday, October 21, 2016

So I have "Aggressive Prostate Cancer" -- What Exactly Does That Mean?

Sample report for the Prolaris genetic test .

First, let's clear the air.

Why do I blog about my prostate  cancer and the assorted tests,  treatments? Well, let's start with the fact this is the second leading cancer killer of men, up to 30,000 a year. But that often takes no account at all of the hell many men endure in terms of the tests (like biopsies) as well as treatments - often described as more savage than the disease.  One can scan and google but unless one is actually a member of a prostate cancer survivor group (as I am) he or she will have scant idea of the pain and suffering aroused by this disease, including in spouses.

Thus, the point here is not anything to do with some narcissistic disease obsession but rather getting information out about how one might very well have to deal with this cancer - especially after recurrence. (More men than you think, in fact, kill themselves after undergoing treatment then having the cancer recur - on being plunged into deep depression).

The other aspect is to show not all cancer narratives are of the saccharine form, e.g.:  'I beat the cancer and it never came back! NO, that's a tall tale, one often peddled by a sappy PR-based media and lackeys that don't know any better, or have an agenda to avoid any negativity. But, they avoid mentioning that in nearly 1 of 3 instances prostate cancer returns, even for those who have radical prostatectomy.

Six days ago, the local urologist's office office phoned me to tell me the result of the Prolaris genetic test (of tissue extracted at my MRI fusion biopsy) was that the prostate adenocarcinoma was aggressive. To fix ideas, the sample shown on the image above yields a score of 3.0 and is in the "less aggressive" region.  This in concert with other  clinical-pathologic values enabled an estimate for a 10-year prostate cancer-specific mortality risk. This patient then has a 10-year prostate cancer specific mortality risk of 2%..

My score by comparison was 6.6, corresponding with a 12.5 % specific risk of mortality at ten years. That translates to a 1 in 8  probability of croaking from it if I decided to do nothing. While this sounds like a fair risk to take for many, it would be roughly analogous to walking through a South Side Chicago neighborhood at 3 a.m. and expecting to get back home in one piece. In other words, a no go. In addition, it leaves out all the nasty side effects you'd have to deal with if the cancer breaks out of the capsule (metastasis)  which it is now on the verge of doing given the "perineural invasion" cited in my recent post on the MRI fusion biopsy result, e.g.

It is via the nerve pathways by which the cancer escapes, gets into the bones (bone mets) as well as lungs, etc. The PET scan image below shows bone mets even in the spine. Each met is in reality a locus of prostate cancer.

The question for the medical assistant who phoned was: What is the risk of metastasis?  She gave me the five year risk of metastasis as 39.5% or nearly 1 in 5.  Again, if I chose to do nothing.

Since then, with further research, including gleaning insights from a prostate cancer survivors' group called Team Inspire, I have opted to do a salvage treatment known as focal cryotherapy. This will entail a 150 point 3D staged biopsy. Then that will be used as a guide to freeze the specific tumor regions in the gland. It is described as an "outpatient treatment" but done under general anesthesia, see e.g.

The plan is to have it done at the University of Colorado Anschutz Center, with focal cryotherapy  specialist Dr. E. David Crawford, e.g.

A phone consult with Dr. Crawford's medical assistant, after seeing the MRI fusion biopsy and Prolaris reports, indicated I had the leeway to wait into until the new year to get it done.  This meant not having to contend with any side effects, etc. during the holidays. In addition, Janice six days ago experienced a mini-stroke (TIA or transient ischemic attack) so that means she must also get much better before we can move forward . I suspect all the tension with Trump and this election played no small role in her attack.

Anyway, I will need to have a preliminary meeting with Dr. Crawford in November, at the Aurora UC center, then we will discuss when to have the biopsy and  the treatment.  The latter, I am informed, is usually done at least two months later to allow enough healing time after 150 sticks through the perineum.

By now most everyone has also seen or read of actor Ben Stiller's bout with prostate cancer, e.g.

But what they may have ignored is how the treatments and testing can often be worse than anything else - especially if one has a slow growing cancer. The risks of further tests, treatments include sexual impotence and incontinence  The latter means wearing diapers - as in Depends - permanently. This is also why Otis Brawley of the American Cancer Society, has warned that most men need to be very careful before stepping through that testing and treatment door.  Nine times out of ten the cancer will be so slowly growing that you can do 'watchful waiting' - especially for Gleason scores of 6 or less.

Once you go further - based on the PSA test-  be prepared for the biopsy which doesn't always treat a lot of men very well, not only the pain but possible sepsis, or other complications (e.g. incontinence). And if you decide to act on the biopsy results, be prepared for having to decide which treatment is best for you, realizing whichever you choose is a crap shot. As one member of Team Inspire put it (perhaps a tad hyberbolically):: "If there's even one cancer cell left it can grow back."

Well, if there is tissue left at the margins after a surgery, it certainly can!

See also:



Thursday, October 20, 2016

In His Third Chance To Show Presidential Potential Trump Instead Confirms He's A Clown

Trump Clinton
Trump and Clinton battle it out last night in Vegas.

"Surely, he's not about to stage a coup. But he threatens the very foundations of what this nation is about" -  Bob Schieffer, commenting on Trump's unwillingness to say he would accept the election results in last night's third presidential debate.

Does one need to watch an entire two hour verbal 'cage match'  to know at this point whom he or she will be voting for? Let me put it this way: (having already completed my Colorado mail ballot barely minutes ago), if I'd instead been in Vegas yesterday evening I'd have opted to play the slots at the Bellagio rather than attend the circus at UNLV.  To put it in concise perspective, it was nearly as big a farce as the last debate.  Oh, it was also more a snark fest than a "debate".

So, I've already voted, unlike the knuckle heads who still profess to be "undecided" - like one Univ. of Southern Nevada dope quoted this morning: "I dunno. I guess I should have been reading more and researching but I just wasn't up to it".  Then, do you admit you are a moron who shouldn't be casting a ballot, period? Probably not.

In my case, I knew what my votes would be across the Colo. ballot (including amendments) and so had no problem filling it out then sending it off. After which I could finish watching the Cubbies take out LA in the NLCS then go to the "debate" on the DVR list - only to see critical segments that defined it. All I could say in the aftermath of even those select views, is that anyone still undecided is a halfwit.

Not surprisingly,  there was no handshake between the combatants before or after the contest, but this was to have been expected given the lingering bad blood between both candidates. This has not been helped by some of their followers transgressing the boundaries of propriety.  For the Dems, there was the disreputable fire bombing of a Trump campaign HQ in NC mere days ago, clearly done by mentally deranged "despicables" .  For the Republicans and Trump, it was the death threats and hate messages sent to the editor and publisher of The Arizona Republic for endorsing Hillary Clinton.

C'mon people, we have to grow up and get beyond this infantile, peevish behavior. This was also  made worse, much worse, when Trump asserted last night his refusal to be willing to endorse the results of the election.  This is unheard of in American history, and as CBS commentator Bob Schieffer observed in the aftermath it "threatened the foundations of our democracy".  The implication being, ok you don't accept the voters' will, so what are you going to do about it?

 But maybe this ought to have been expected. When Fox-based moderator Chris Wallace pressed Trump on that position he barked: “I will look at it at the time,”  Adding,  "I will keep you in suspense.”     Trying to be coy, Trump ended up sounding crazy and like his brain had been infested by parasites.

John Dickerson (moderator of 'Face the Nation') made the most percipient observation on Trump's remarks this morning:

"There are irregularities in elections, sure. But Donald Trump is overstating the case to undermine the legitimacy of the election, either to get himself out of what might be a bad result or to whip up his supporters, saying: 'This election is being stolen from you, watch out!'

Can anyone say sore loser?

If we eliminate worm parasites in Trump's febrile brain  then one can only conclude the guy has the EQ (emotional quotient) of a 3-year old. He delivered the petulant response of a child who prefigures his displeasure if he might not like the outcome of a game. It's telegraphing also that he has no business in the competitive political arena if he refuses to even accept the outcome. As Steve Schmidt put it, Trump "disqualified himself as a serious candidate" right there and then, given he "attacked the very foundation of our Constitution and democracy". (Clinton described her rival’s refusal to accept the outcome of the election, which takes place in less than three weeks, as “horrifying")

Another commentator on MSNBC referenced "weaponizing the presidential election" which Trump already did by his incessant references to it being "rigged", or "stolen" as through "voter fraud".  But how is that happening if states control the electoral process and 31 of the 50 states are run by Republican governors. Is Trump saying that even the governors of his own party are rigging the election? John Kasich, of Ohio, dismissed that notion yesterday morning on CBS as total idiotic nonsense. (Though one must question what transpired in 2004 with all the Diebold voting machines evidently switching votes electronically from Kerry to Bush, as demonstrated in the documentary:  'As Ohio Goes So Goes the Nation'.)

Be that as it may, there are many millions of dumb clucks around this country who will believe Trump's specious charges, simply because Trump has repeated it so often. Well, he's following Hitler's old playbook as when the Fuhrer once said:

"If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed."

And the rigging of a general election in all the states is certainly an enormous lie. Also, Trump has certainly repeated it frequently enough in the past 10 days.

But perhaps we ought to have anticipated Trump's remarks given they capped a contentious, uncivil altercation in which he clashed with Clinton over abortion, gun rights, immigration and foreign policy.

Trump did manage to keep his composure for maybe 40 minutes, but as former Republican strategist Steve Schmidt put it, "the wheels came off" once Hillary began landing her blows - which actually more got under Trump's skin than bruising it. As for the actual bruising, Trump accomplished most of that himself.

Some commentators asserted the debate was "shockingly substantive" but I didn't find that at all. For example, in the interlude on abortion,  Trump - who previously was for abortion rights - parroted objections that came right from the anti-abortion manual. I.e. "willing to rip a child out of the womb after nine months". Bob Schieffer also picked up on that,  noting "No woman carries a fetus for eight and a half months then decides she wants to have an abortion."

On other issues like the economy,  Trump's responses were equally daft, rehearsed  and impractical, i.e. saving "entitlements" using gigantic tax cuts. All of this was recycled piffle not worth any intelligent person's investment of too much time or credence.

The best line of the night went to Hillary:   “Every time Donald thinks things are not going in his direction, he claims whatever it is,  is rigged against him.” Adding that he has, at various times in this election cycle, accused the FBI, Republican primary process and judicial system of being corrupt and cooperating to undermine him.

She followed that with another zinger:

There was even a time when he didn’t get an Emmy for his TV program three years in a row and he started tweeting that the Emmys were rigged.”

Should have gotten it!” Trump interjected, whereupon the audience erupted in laughter, most clearly thinking "Jeezus, this dope just proved her point!" Trump confirmed that take earlier today when he bloviated: "I will accept the results of the election....if I win."  Sorry, bozo, the whole premise of the democratic election process is to accept the results even if you don't win. The alternative is to embrace the "banana republic" model.

Clearly, the very concept of losing gracefully is beyond this carny barker's capacity. But given he has no moral capacity, it makes sense he'd never acknowledge losing - whether an Emmy or a presidential election.

The sooner we are done with 'the Donald' and his three ring freak show the better. We can only hope his voters acknowledge when they have lost and don't go batshit crazy when the results come in after two more weeks.  If they do riot, start trouble,  there are always those RF radiation "vomit" weapons to put them back in their places:

The best thing the Trumpies can do if the election doesn't go their way,  is to suck it up, take it like adults and move on. And don't even think of trying to delegitimize HRC via "impeachment"

Maybe they can even show their clown prince how to take a defeat when the people - the majority - have spoken!

See also:

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Trump's Seeds Of Hate Spill Into Schools

Image for the news result
Trump mocking a disabled reporter ten months ago in SC. Students have picked up on his antics and used them to bully minorities.

As millions of Americans wince and shudder at the prospect of the third presidential debate tonight we are informed (CBS Early Show) that Trump plans to go lower than ever.  His off the rails M.O.  will continue now directed at lowering turnout, especially on the D side. How does he plan to achieve this? According to two former campaign strategists interviewed on CBS, he will seek to impugn the entire election process as one giant "fraud". A "rigged election". He will, in addition, spill venom onto the HRC leaked emails. All this to try to entice prospective voters - who perhaps still haven't made up their minds - to avoid the polls.

At the same time, as this degenerate, misinforming fiasco unfolds (see link to another article about it at end of this post) millions of students will also be watching tonight, soaking it in. Many will be of high school age and again exposed to the sewer pit of American politics. Will they channel or act out what 'the Donald' spews out? We don't know but the signs are not  encouraging, as new surveys disclose the leakage of hatred into secondary students' brains.

It probably was inevitable that as the ignominy of the Trump campaign reached ever lower levels of the sewer, the sludge would begin to ooze out and contaminate more than our political landscape. Now, the evidence shows it has not only driven our national discourse to new lows but even insinuated itself into our students, educational system.

In a recent 'Intelligence Report', the Southern Poverty Law Center presented a survey showing that what it called “The Trump Effect” has infected ever younger minds. Specifically, it found that “students have been emboldened by the divisive, often juvenile rhetoric in the campaign. Teachers have noted an increase in bullying, harassment and intimidation of students whose races, religions or nationalities have been the verbal targets of candidates on the campaign trail.”

More than 67 percent of educators in the SPLC study said children of immigrants and other students of color had expressed concerns about what might happen to them or their families after the election. More than 40 percent of the teachers reported being hesitant about teaching about the election. The survey drew more than 5,000 comments from educators across the United States.

Here in Colorado, the Trump Effect and its hate spillover has focused the spotlight on a clique of  15-odd students at a Boulder High School (Boulder Preparatory High ) calling itself  the “Fourth Reich’s Official Group Chat”  on Facebook. Members talked about starting a movement to kill minorities including Mexicans, Jews and African-Americans as well as other groups targeted by Trump in his assorted outbursts, according to a Boulder police report.

Those like the SPLC who monitor hate groups, assert the Boulder incidents appeared to be much more than simple youthful rebellion, calling it "a product of a dangerously overheated political environment" that has also "seen an increase in bullying and intimidation of fellow students."

After the ring leader offed himself on September 21, to “show his allegiance to the Nazi party and the killing of Jewish people,” according to a police report, the other instigators have also received their comeuppance. Boulder Prep headmistress Lili Adeli said Monday one of the students is in the school’s restorative justice program and is in the process of being allowed back in the school. Another wants to be readmitted, while two others have declined to go back to the school and a fifth student is under a restraining order.

Adeli heself is convinced "mental problems" played a role in the FB hate fest, but that assumes over the top expressions of hate are mental issues. If so, one can rightly ask why Trump himself is walking around yapping in dog whistle form about "rigged elections" and "voter fraud" when he ought to be in a straight jacket at Bellevue.

Meanwhile, Becki Cohn-Vargas, director of the anti-hate organization Not In Our School, points to an April survey of 2,000 K-12 teachers who suggest the rhetoric from Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is inciting more anti-Muslim or anti-immigrant sentiment in classrooms.  It is clear from Cohn-Vargas survey that kids are picking up on what's happening in this vile campaign- the "worst in American history" according to CBS' Bob Schieffer.  They are especially seeing how Trump is able to get away with his bully boy antics and even outright admissions of assault on women with whom he comes into contact.  Since they observe no payback, naturally many kids who are from dysfunctional backgrounds will believe they can get away with this stuff too.

According to Cohn-Vargas, quoted in yesterday's Denver Post:

"The fact is with this type of election campaign, it’s given license to young people to do hateful things and to repeat those activities online and elsewhere. We’ve definitely seen in an uptick on those types of activities.”

She added that the surge of social media and a 24-hour news churn that recycles biased viewpoints only encourages kids and adults to "drag their already hateful thoughts into the open."  After all, they reason, if Trump can spew his hateful rot then why can't they?  As Cohn-Vargas put it (ibid.):

"It’s appealing for a young person who feels alienated to pick up on one of those groups and be a part of that,”

If this is so, it might also account for the  yen of too many young fools to want to join the ISIS bugs. Michael Langone,  counseling psychologist who tracks cult activity in the United States, said the same strain of alienation that attracts kids to Nazi ideals also leads to young adults signing up for the Islamic State terrorist group. All these kids - like Trump - are losers at heart and want to inflate their identities beyond loser status. The easiest way to do that is to pledge allegiance to the most psychotic nuts - which used to be the Nazis, but now replaced by ISIS.

Langone says:

"We’ve seen many young men who go over to fight for ISIS (the Islamic State) and they are not particularly religious and they were looking for something to make them feel more significant,”

He insists it's the "function of a cult" but I believe it's even more fundamental: it's actually the absence of any moral capacity, as defined by Ethicist Cheryl Mendelson.

See also:


"What’s worse than a political debate that fails to give voters the information they need? One that misinforms them, while at the same time demeaning the democratic process. The final 2016 presidential debate takes place Wednesday night, and expectations are low.
Donald Trump will undoubtedly disgorge more of his predictable and already tiresome tirades. Words will once again pour out in randomly shuffled stacks, like cards dealt by a drunken croupier. One imagines him under the hot lights, reeking of narcissism, Trump “Success” aftershave, and flop sweat."

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Trevor Bauer, Indians' Idiot Pitcher, May Have Cost Them A World Series Championship

Image result for trevor bauer

Indians' pitcher Trevor Bauer, wouldn't be able to pass a baseball version of the NFL's Wonderlic test.

Let's  agree that if your Major League Baseball team is in the American League Championship Series (ALCS) and you are a key pitcher in the rotation, you absolutely do not fart around with anything that might slice open a finger on your pitching hand. This stuff isn't rocket science, either - and I don't give a damn if you are supposedly a "mechanical engineer" (like the Indians' Trevor Bauer)  with a yen for drones. You wait until the season is over to indulge your hobby, you don't even try to put a freakin' new battery in it.

I  still recall a Mel Allen interview with Milwaukee Braves' right hander Lew Burdette, the Nitro, West Virginia ace who faced the NY Yankees in the 1957 World Series. Allen asked him about his whittling hobby and whether he was into it to ease the tension before the big game (Burdette won three games in that series as the Braves took it 4 games to 3.) Burdette said without a pause: "You think I'm some kind of dummy? The whittlin' can wait til the Series is over!"

Good point!

That's advice the Cleveland Indians' Trevor Bauer ought to have taken. He had cut his pitching pinkie finger on his stupid drone's propeller,  or so he claimed at a daffy news conference on Sunday. Bauer said:

"I plugged it in, like I've done thousands and thousands of times. ... This one spun up at max throttle. It never happened to me before. I have no idea why it happened, and my finger just happened to be in the way of the prop and it cut me."

Doesn't matter if it never happened, you do NOT fart around with a device with sharp blades when: 1) your team has gotten into the ALCS, 2) you are a key part of the rotation, and 3) you know the MLB rules disallow bandages or any other foreign substance on the pitching hand. 

Some have blogged that the "rule is stupid". No, the rule is not "stupid" and if you knew anything about baseball history and the tricks and tactics pitchers have used over the decades you wouldn't write such nonsense. What is stupid is a key rotation pitcher fucking around with a device that has sharp blades before the penultimate championship series commences.

Indians' manager Terry Francona (son of Indians' great Tito Francona) had to delay Bauer's entry until Game 3 (last night), thereby altering the rotation sequence. Fortunately, the versatile Josh Tomlin started in Bauer's place Saturday and did a superb job blanking out the Toronto Blue Jays for 5 1/3 innings.  Last night it was Bauer's turn, but he was bleeding like a stuck pig by the end of the first out in the 2nd inning.

As I watched him wiping his bloody finger on his uniform I couldn't help thinking "Jeezus, what a dumb  fuck! You really fucked things up for your team, Junior!"

When he walked Troy Tulowitzki with two outs in the 2nd I could see the writing on the wall for this doofus, and Francona did too, replacing him. The Indians needed 6 relief pitchers to finish the game that they could have used for later innings in coming games. Luckily,  they won, 4-2.

Francona also tried to make excuses for this bozo,  saying:

"He was messing around with his drone. He wasn't out in some alley at 3 in the morning and got cut on a beer can. It wasn't like he was waterskiing. He just cut his finger. It wasn't remotely malicious."

Sorry, but enough with the lamo excuses. Bauer didn't have to be "malicious" or reckless say "out in an alley at 3 a. m. or waterskiing". The fact is people cut themselves all the time simply doing prosaic tasks - like slicing tomatoes - with sharp knives. But if you are a key pitcher that's why you don't do it! You keep your mitts away from all such sharp objects - like Burdette did  - until the series is finished. (Of course, if Bauer was an outfielder it wouldn't have mattered, he could have put a bandage on and carried on. But a pitcher who needs that finger to secure the ball for the pitch? That's a different ball game, literally!)

In other sports losing a finger or damaging it isn't so critical, depending on position. Niners' corner Ronnie Lott broke his left pinkie finger and he just had the tip lopped off after the 1985 season so he could keep playing. No problemo. He could still play the positon. The NY Giants Jason Pierre-Paul,  in another example of lameness, blew off his right index finger in a dumb fireworks incident. Fortunately, he's still able to play on defense just by wrapping his hand up.

But in the case of Bauer, he knew the rules - or should have- and realized that he ought to have waited to mess around with his toy drone.  Bauer's injury was another setback for a Cleveland rotation that lost Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar toward the end of the regular season.

Read more here:

The funniest bit?  Bauer, claims to be a self-described "nerd". But no nerd I know would have been so damned foolish, given a key position in a baseball championship series, to fuck around with an object that has sharp blades.

Maybe Francona will be able to still steer the Indians to an ALCS win despite Bauer's stupidity. And, then a World Series championship against the Cubs or Dodgers. But I wouldn't put money on it in a Vegas' Sports Book. Especially in a long (7 game) series there's a limit to even the best bullpen's stamina.