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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Martin Schafer's LiveJournal:

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Tuesday, August 30th, 2016
8:08 pm
My Angiogram
So, I had developed a set a symptoms that convinced me that there was a problem with my heart.  Sense of pressure in my chest.  Swollen feet and legs.  Getting more out breath than I have in the past after even trivial exertions.   Our medical system requires investigation of heart problems to start with an emergency room visit even if the symptoms are not acute.

I spent last Monday in the emergency and they determined I was not having a heart attack, which I knew.  There were some tests that they could not do becaus of my weight and said I needed to see a cardiologist within 72 hours.  So I did that on Wednesday.  They set up an appointment on Monday for an angiogram.

The good news is that my heart got a clean of health.  There is no blockage of any of the coronary arteries.  The bad news is that though they told me that after the initial pricks of the novacaine before cutting into the artery that this would be a painless procedure that turned out not to be the case.

I don't know what went wrong.  I doubt that they were just lieing.  This was in the wrist rather than the groin and also in the neck to take a pressure of the right ventricle.  The whole procedure was agonizing.  I did not feel sedated at all.  I was not quiet about it.  I announced several times that I did not feel sedated.  I yelled in pain repeatedly.  At one of the parts where my arm literally felt like it was on fire the doctor said that was the nitro.

My suspicions are that either the IV was not put properly so the sedative was not going into my blood or I had an idiosyncratic resistance to whatever sedative was being used.  I am upset that there was not a pause to try figure out why I was in so much pain.  I'm annoyed that I did not bring this issue up with the nurse practitioner when she was giving me the results.

I'm finding that my emotional reaction to this is getting stronger over time.
Tuesday, July 26th, 2016
6:42 pm
I achieve Onion level foresight
A few months ago I remarked to my family that one of the principles I use to understand politics is that whatever the Republicans are accusing the Democrats of is what the Republicans are actually doing.  As a joke I said that using this principle all the accusations of Obama being a Kenyan Muslim traitor must mean that Trump was a deep cover Russian agent ala the TV show "The Americans".

I need reality to understand that my JOKES are not intended as instructions.

This doesn't actually equal the Onion's "Our long national nightmare of peace and prosperity is now over" on the election of George Bush, but I don't want to even be in the same ballpark.
Wednesday, October 29th, 2014
11:24 pm
Sharing something I stumbled on
I found this Japanese music video musically and visually arresting.  When I was goping to try to describe it, Eileen suggested "a Japanese Steeleye Span" and that is at least off in the right direction.  The band is The Wagakikki Band and the song title is Senbonzakura, which apparently means "Thousands of Cherry Trees".  The lyrics that come up in google reference a different band so I don't know if there are multiple songs of that title or if this is this band's version of that.

Saturday, September 13th, 2014
9:20 pm
Nate update
Just got back from visiting Nate.  It was definitely not a heart attack.  There is no diagnosis at this point.  The muscle weakness and dizzyness are somewhat better than they were this morning.  His blood pressure is pretty high (190/130).  He seem to be himself and in good spirits.  He has eaten and eliminated.

Nate thinks he might come home tomorrow, but I'm not sure if that's realistic.  I will post again when I have any news.
2:21 pm
Nate news
This morning Nate fell in his room and was not able to get up.  Eileen called 911.  He was taken to the University East Bank hospital.  We know very little at this point.  They say no signs of stroke but he may have had a heart attack.  His vitals are better than when he first arrived.  Aliera was with him until recently.  None of us are currently there.  I'm sure he would appreciate visitors. 
Wednesday, January 15th, 2014
12:15 am
Erica memory
There was a time a long time ago when Erica and I were close.  We'd drifted apart before her disabilities began to limit how much she could get out and around so I'm another one who hadn't seen her for years.  She was a beautiful person and I admired the way her hardships never seemed to make her bitter.

I wanted to share a story from a long time ago working on Minicon.  Many of the details are fuzzy at this remove.

We had asked Erica to work with the hotel on disability issues.  She was going around the facility in her wheelchair testing accessibility with one of he hotel staff.  There was a problem with one of the doors and the hotel person called a maintenance person and said "I have an emergency I need to get this door open."  Erica said "Oh, this is not an emergency, I'm still breathing."  And of course, even then, she had had experience with those actual emergencies where she couldn't breath.

She was just really grounded on what was actually important in life.

I'll miss her being in the world and my best wishes to Peter.
Thursday, November 7th, 2013
3:11 pm
Dreaded for some time bad news
Eileen has lost her job.  Mine is still fine but insufficient to support the household.

She has series 6 and 63 licenses.  She has 15 plus years of experience with phone support for financial products.  If anyone knows about relevant openings we'd appreciate a note to eileenlufkin@gmail.com.

We appreciate everyone's kind thoughts.
Thursday, June 2nd, 2011
7:10 pm
Joel Rosenberg
Joel stopped breathing last night and was taken to HCMC by the paramedics.  He was anoxic for an extended period.  His breathing is restarted but he has not regained consciousness and remains in critical condition. I do not have any other details.

My best wishes and hopes for a miraculous recovery go out to him and his family Rachel, Judy and Felicia.
Monday, October 11th, 2010
2:39 pm
We will open the house (2609 3rd Ave S) at 10AM on 10/17.  Conjecture has kindly made a function space available to us from  1-2:30 PM.  They are at

Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites (formerly the Holiday Inn Select)
International Airport Hotel
3 Appletree Square (I-494 & 34th Avenue South)
Bloomington, MN

Most of us will arrive there at 1.  I will speak for a few minutes and other members of the family that want to will speak and there will be time for others to speak. 

We will return to the house by 3 PM and there will be someone here until at least 3 AM to complete the 17 hours.  There will be one or more points where we pause and give people an chance to say something to the group.

We intend to plant a tree for her that afternoon but details are still settling.


The best bequest you can make in Reen's honor is if you take the time to help next time you see a stranger in need that you would otherwise pass by.  If you want to give money in her memory Planned Parenthood or any of the drug legalization organizations would be the most appropriate.  Or whatever your favorite charity is would be good too.
Sunday, October 10th, 2010
11:11 am
Grief is exhausting
Corwin and Dee have made some real progress on gathering up stuff in Reen's room.  Steven is sleeping in there.  They brought down a basket of stuff and Toni immediately grabbed out a very nice pocket knife and told me that it was one of the things she won on the online contests and that she had been saving it for me the next time it was time for a present.  So my line about "never give me an unexpected little treat" is falsified.  I imagine that there will be things for years where they go more easily because she prepared the ground in some way I never knew.

The one thing that we are missing that is really upsetting is her rings.  She usually kept them on a cord around her neck but they weren't returned with the effects.  I expected to find them in her purse then, but they weren't there.  I don't think there was any of them that was worth more than a 100 and she had specific people that she wanted them to go to.  They were her only real "legacy" outside of who she was and what she did.  They may yet turn up, but if someone helped themselves on the way to the autopsy they are slime and I turn my face from them forever.

Nate came over and played everything that we needed him to.   "Shine on Everybody's Moon" affected me deeply.  I have spent more time feeling that "Kinda work on keeping things together while we figure what to do" was the motto of my life than any of the other competing phrases but now "dry up everybody's tear, you know no one else can and somebody ought to" is the that keeps running through my head and brings on the tears. ("It's a great life, if you don't weaken" and "'life is strange said Jeremy'.  'Compared to what said the spider'" have been the main other contenders.  Though "What a long strange trip it's been" has always worked too).

Sue Grandyss stopped in and that was good for me.  Steven playing Dream Cafe was perfect..

I don't want to wander too far into "each sandwich I bite" territory but I'm driven to this still.  I made contact with Sysliene and she sent me a lovely note.  I realize I haven't made sure Joel Halpern knows, he's web connected enough he ought to have seen something but he's a godfather so I need to be sure.

I really am ready for this to be over or at least for the intensity to drop off.  That's not really fair the intensity has dropped.  It just started so high it doesn't feel like it yet.  I've been able to do a little bit of distracting stuff without feeling sick with myself that I'm not concentrating on the critical things.  Unfortunately as the crying eases I'm moving more and more into "my stomach hurts" territory, which is almost worse.

In a bizarre way the last few days have been like a really intense convention.  These post con blues are going to kick even a wold con's ass.

I'm going to shut this down now and see if Toni can let me help with Chemistry.
Saturday, October 9th, 2010
6:18 pm
One more day
Got up and got ready for the cremation.  I put on the old silk shirt that Reen found for me dumpster diving behind a big and tall up in Northtown maybe 15 years ago.  Tom and Carolyn came to pick me up.  I realized at the last moment (while I was walking downstairs) that I needed Eileen with me.  So she scrambled into clothes and we went over.

On the drive Dee called and told us she wanted a lock of hair.The funeral people said they'd cut some  for us.

Reen looked like herself.  There was some bruising around the eyes that hadn't been there before but nothing major.  They had just her face visible in the sheets, presumable because of the autopsy (Tom's mom had been visible to the waist.  I don't think I've mentioned that Tom's mother died just a few weeks ago, so he and Carolyn were familiar with everything).

I stoked her forehead gave her a kiss and said goodbye.  They had us step out of the chamber, though we could see through window, while they cut off some hair.  We came back in and they raised the body up and put it in the chamber, sealed the door and hit the button.  The gas jets are quite loud.

We started to leave and I asked for the hair and they said they'd give it to us with the ashes.  They wanted to wash and brush it.  This bugged me and made me regret not taking some myself with my pocketknife scissors, but oh well.  I imagine it's some obscure dead body statute.

We dropped Eileen at home and Carolyn Tom and I went to Perkins.  I asked for us to go to NESOP.  Most of you won't know what that is.  The Franklin and 26th Perkins was SOP (standard operating Perkins) back in the day and the one at Count road D and 35 was north east standard operating Perkins.  That was the one Reen and I had most of our all night conversation at.

Tom and Carolyn thought they'd never been there until we arrived and Carolyn realized this was the Perkins that Reen always drove her to when Carolyn didn't specify where to go.  We had a good talk we came home had more good talk with Aliera, Toni and Jason.  Toni pointed out that Reen had been doing a lot to help John and we needed to plan on continuing to see he got what he needed.

Eileen and I gathered up a few bags of kitchen clutter that was there because Reen might want it.  Tossed that and went and got the ashes hair and effects (just a couple of barrettes and a lighter).

Aliera just called up and I'm going to head down again.
Friday, October 8th, 2010
10:25 pm
A short update
The Medical Examiner says the cause of death was congestive heart failure.  Her heart was twice normal size and there was major blockage.  I imagine the timing coincided with the extra stress from breathing problems but this was going to happen soon.

The fact that she was a smoker and had the COPD masked the symptoms of the heart problem.  All those long rests required after going up a few stairs were really driven by the heart problem.

The cremation will be tomorrow Tom, Carolyn and I will attend.  I want to because it feels like a last piece of physical contact and a last step in a certain duty.

Details will follow but the memorial will be 10/17.  Everyone had already cleared their schedules for that day because we were going to have a belated Birthday dinner for Eileen then.

We are having serious talks with Steven about him moving in here.  It will be wonderful if that works out.
1:03 pm
Reen's death
This is going to be pretty raw but if I don't just dump it out I can't actually get it out. Etiquette would suggest a cut tag here but I don't recall how to do them and don't want to relearn right now.  I'm sorry if all the first names are confusing that's how I had to write it.

Dear partner Reen

I'll miss you a lot.  We haven't spent so much time

interacting the way we used to recently.  There were

the rides to and from workeach day and "buffy night" every or nearly every Sunday evening and a few minutes here and there when you came up to talk about something or I stopped down but you have been a huge part of my life since college. That would be more than 30 years now.

All the rich tapestry of a life lived together where with a random word we both knew what events we were referring to and why our thoughts had lept there together.There are other people who've shared my life where I have these things, I've been blessed with more than the usual allotment of people.  But losing one really hurts.

I feel I let you down at the end here.  You had so many health problems and I became exhausted.  At a younger age I would have taken time off work to take you to the colonscopy last week that hurt you so much. I wouldn't have been in the room but I know about your enormous tolerance for pain drugs and maybe if I was there to ask I could have done something to make that easier.

Aliera took you to Mystic afterwards and you said you felt the world owed you something after that and you were so pleased when it delivered.  You won 200 off of a 5$ start and you were so happy that you didn't need to get your weekly money from me.

The GI group gave you a 5$ coupon for the hospital cafeteria. You said it was becaus they were sorry
about how bad your experience was.  You got a fruit and yogurt parfait that you thought I would like and I did.

You did not feel well over the weekend your bowels hadn't restarted and you had stomach pains and fever and chills. You were seeing the doctor anyway on Monday so after an abbreviated Buffy (actually angel at the moment I still can't find my season 6 box) you went to bed Sunday.

Monday you took Eileen and I to work. I can't remember what political outrage or family and house trivia we talked on the way in. You got yourself to the doctor though you felt terrible.  He told that there was no cancer in the polyps they'd removed and that he thought the ulcers in your colon where they'd scraped out the diseased flesh would heal up on their own but that you could no longer take ibuprofen.  He had no suggestion other than tylenol for a replacement so how you were going to manage your knee and neck was a mystery.  He also told you that you had bronchitis on top of your long standing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

You collapsed in his office and they put you on oxygen for awhile and offered to admit you but you hated hospitals.  You didn't feel up to waiting in line for your presciptions so you came home.  By the time Eileen and I got home the window at HCMC was closed.  Eileen picked those up for you on Tuesday.  Your GI tract did restart though it was diarhea.

I checked in with you each evening but you were too sick to want to sit up and talk much.  Frank had arranged for cable and got an extra box so you could have that and you were very pleased about that. The tv constantly on to something that was very important to you.

Wednesday evening about 6:30 was the last time I saw you.  You struggled up to sitting and I asked if there was anything I could get you. You said no.  I said I'd talk to Toni about getting a ride the next morning so you didn't have to worry about that.  You said that was a relief. I patted you and went upstairs and got on my computer game.

Frank came in about an hour later when he came home from work and you were much the same.  Mark heard you groaning around 10 and came in and helped you take your meds.

Toni got up and took Eileen and me into work.  You were already dead but we didn't know it yet.
We don't know exactly what killed you yet. The ME is doing an autopsy.  I hope there wasn't too much pain and fear at the end. I would have held you if I could though whether touch was comforting or a burden varied so much with you.

You talked about seeing a golden light when your father died and when we had to put Buddy down you said you had a vision of him leaping into your father's arms as he died.I hope that is what death was like for you.

Corwin found your body around Noon. 

I was just a couple calls into the second half of my morning having just had my coffee when I got a message from Toni that I must call.  From her voice I knew it was bad.  My first thoughts were "either she's wrecked the car or Reen's dead".  I called her back and she didn't want to tell what the problem just wanted me to come I made her tell me you had died.

I told work I had a death at home and had leave. I went over to Eileen asked her to mute her call and
told her. She said she'd come down after the call.  So I went downstairs to wait.  Corwin and Toni came in the car with your dogs.  I drove the four of us home.  Nobody official had been called yet.

I went up and saw your body.  I'm glad I did.  It's the closest I could come to being with you at the end.
You were stone cold so you'd been dead for hours. Your head was back a little and your mouth open.  I think you couldn't get enough air.  You'd talked about how you had tricks with your stomach muscles to clear your lungs and that the pain from the colonoscopy was interfering with that.

I wish I'd focused more on the trouble you were having these last few days.  But you never know what you'd actually change by doing something different.  Unless the ME says you had a heart attack I expect we could have gotten through this crisis.  But your health was so bad and declining.  You were in so much pain all the time and depressed and feeling that you were a burden.  I'm sure that you were mostly glad to go.

I know that you prefer this to a long drawn out hospital death.

I called 911.  The policeman showed up.  Aliera came up with me to talk to him. He took information called the ME and waited with the body. 

The rest of us gathered on the first floor. Steven showed up.  He had been a half hour south of
town driving in for John Shogren's wedding when Toni called him with the news.  I think you timed this about perfectly Reen.

When Carolyn came in her first words were "How did you get here so fast" to Steven (Pamela would later echo her.  Since the two of you are still technically married it was Steven's signature that they needed.  I felt a little odd about that since you were my responsibility but whatever.  We joked with him about "well here are dogs and here's your stuff".  Legally it's not a joke but none of us care.  Steven was surprised how much this affected him.

All the kids are hit hard by this. That was always going to be the case no matter when this came. They are old enough though that it's safe for you to go. They aren't in the position your mom left you in when she died.  You know I'll make sure they're ok.   I don't think I'm going to say much about their
reactions as they are all perfectly capable of writing about it if they want them immortalized.

I know that you always expected to die in you forties like your mother so these last years have been gravy.  You got to see two grandchildren born and one acquired and that was your greatest joy.  Miko and Meridel don't really understand what's happening.  I'm sure there are bits of who they and Anika become that are  becaus of you (over and above you making Corwin) but they are too young to retain any real memories of you actually anika isn't

Jason says that for now he will take care of seeing that the dogs get food and water and get outside.  I know you worry about them since unlike the people they were totally dependent on you.  Ginger may know what's happened since she went through it with Tamarra but Missy is just worried and wants to sit in my lap constantly.

Steven called the cremation society and told them to expect your body.  The ME will deliver it to them.  I was going up to get your ssn when he asked me what to tell them for occupation.  I said homemaker but then I ran back down stairs and told him to change that to Mystic or Shaman (shaman is definitely better) I don't know if he actually did.

Everybody from the house and family gathered on the first floor. Eric had to leave for work but he was
able to get out early. Frank was more broken up than I was expecting. It was good to have Mark and John. I know that you both really liked and were really amused to have the foursome back together here at the end.

I had my worst breakdown when I called my parents.  Switching roles opened up the flood gates for a moment.

I was worried that we would have trouble notifying your brother Will but Lynette his daughter is online and immediately contacted us and told him.  I haven't spoken with him and I don't know how much he will want to be involved.  Carolyn says she has Aunt Eileen's address and will write to her.  Of the god parents I still need to let Sysliene and Cindy know.  I'll be able to track Sysliene down but I'm not how to find Cindy.  Oh god I didn't call Bev.  I'm sure she heard through the grape vine but I need to make sure.

I am very grateful for the people who spontaneously came over during the day/evening.  Lots of people from the kids circles who I don't neccarily know so I won't try to name. DD-B, Pam, Lydy, Karen, Bruce, Barb, Nate, Thorin, Jillian, Mike.  I dithered about putting any names since I don't want anyone to feel bad if they weren't mentioned but oh well.

We told old stories and shared memories and sang songs. Mostly your favorites and the car songs.  Sugar Magnolia was the other time I really cried hard.

Today I woke up and brought Eileen into work. Then I sat down to write this. I've been crying pretty much non stop since I woke up.  It's not that I can't stop it's just that to stop I'd have to change my mental stance and why should I?  This is the time for this.

I think I'll have to wait to write another one of these letters about who you were and what you were like.  But I'll mention a recent accomplishment becausI always have trouble writing so the next thing may not happen.

Our objecting to our property evaluation this year led to the city paying extra attention to us and the fire department scheduled an inspection.  When they showed up you were the one who met them and explained that we really only rented out the first floor as a unit that this wasn't truly a four-plex even though it legally was.  And they went away becaus they don't do inspections when there are less than 4 units.  You were always so good at dealing with officials as people in your own idiosyncatic way (it worked better if I wasn't there it was so different from what I'd do that I couldn't stand to watch) and that's a real loss it was part of how you were still carrying your weight.

Carolyn called about 45 minutes ago and I told her I needed another hour alone but then I'd take her out somewhere so I should draw this to close.I wrote this as a letter to you becaus putting me more in touch with my emotions was always something you did and right now I want to connect with that as much as I
can. It was a big part of all our all night conversations back in the day.  I'd lost my patience to have those and I'm sorry.  If you want to do that again I think it should be at perkins.  My joints
won't take sitting under the bridge in the arb.  Though John Mark and I might make a trip down there to
toast you.

I remember once in the middle of a trip feeling myself float up toward heaven and wanting you to be with me but feeling you slip away as I ascended.  This is all turned around.You'll always be with me since I have 30 years of memories to chat with.  But they will get blurry around the edges and they never ever will surprise me. They won't make an unexpected little treat or go out to store for something.

I'm going down to the kids now.

Thank god I have Eileen, thank god I have family and
friends.  But god I'll miss you Reen.
Saturday, May 8th, 2010
10:14 am
International Boundary Commission
One of the things I've been listening to recently is the archive of This American Life www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/ I've been working my way backwards from the present and I'm in march of 2008 and I just listened to a piece called Audacity of Government www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/353/The-Audacity-of-Government about the Bush administration's drive to do whatever it liked, through the lens of stories about what should have been minor uncontroversial issues, where they refused to recognize any limit to their authority.

One of those stories was about The International Boundary Commission, which was set up in a treaty a century ago with one US and one Canadian commissioner to mark the border and to maintain an obstruction free zone 10 feet on either side of the border.

In 2007 the commission told a Washington couple that their 4 foot retaining wall was in that  zone and it had to be removed.  The couple sued with the help of the Pacific Legal Foundation a nonprofit focused on property rights cases.  The Bush justice department instructed the commissioner Dennis Schornack to settle.  He refused.  The administration told him he was fired and appointed a new commissioner.  Dennis sued stating that while the president appoints the commissioner, he has no right to fire him as this is an international body specifically set up to be free of political influence.  and that's where things were at the end of the show.  More details in this NY times piece www.nytimes.com/2007/07/22/opinion/22schiff.html

I was curious what had happened since and I thought that anyone else who had heard the episode might be too.  The 2008 IBC report  www.internationalboundarycommission.org/docs/IBC-2008-Report-eng.pdf lists the replacement as commissioner. Initially Dennis' suit was denied.  Jan 2009 the Department of Justice settled with the Washington couple saying their wall was not a problem community.pacificlegal.org/Document.Doc.  However the Ninth Court is now hearing Dennis' appeal of his firing. Arguments are scheduled this month plf.typepad.com/plf/2010/04/ninth-circuit-to-hear-the-case-of-the-little-garden-that-could-topple-a-federal-official.html

Sunday, February 7th, 2010
12:27 pm
Weird science article
So I stumbled on this fascinating article www.newscientist.com/article/mg20126911.300-our-world-may-be-a-giant-hologram.html.

I think the analogy to a hologram is a bad choice in trying to understand what's going on, though successful in garnering attention.

Essentially the article says we may have detected the granularity of space/time.and if so it is much grainier than we thought.  Scientists expected it to be at the Planck length which is 10 to the minus 35 meters.  Weird black hole physics imply that the information content of the universe needs to be encoded on its surface at the Planck granularity and thus the granularity of the contents is 10 to the minus 16 meters.  Noise in currently existing detectors trying to find gravitational waves fit with space/time having this level of granularity.

Obviously this is all very speculative at this point.  What I am particularly curious about, but have no idea how to figure out is whether this increased granularity as dimensions increase offers an explanation of why 3 spacial dimensions are privileged in our current universe.  If there were 4 or more would the granularity be so macroscopic as to disrupt normal physics?

If only I could pull out Stephen Hawking from behind the curtain.
Saturday, November 7th, 2009
7:32 pm
The extended wet weather and early snow had made me worry that we would wind up going through the winter with holes in the roof.  But the roofers have now completed work and the dumpster is gone.  When we originally talked with the guy he said they would be 2 days of work and they wound up taking 6.  It's odd to have people walk by your windows when you're on the third floor.


I've been reading and watching stuff from edge.org/archive.html lots of interesting things.  While reading an article on the death of newspapers I was led to wonder what the oldest newspaper still publishing was.
www.wan-press.org/article2823.html has that among other info.  A Swedish Newspaper Post- och Inrikes Tidningar has been publishing since 1645. 

They also have a list of the top 100 newspapers by circulation
.  I was surprised that 7 of the top 10 were Japanese.  75 of 100 are Asian.  South Korea has a paper with larger circulation than USA today, the top US paper.  Thailand and Taiwan each have 5 papers on the list, more than any western country other than US and UK.  I wonder why they are doing so well.

Monday, July 27th, 2009
8:53 pm
On line Lectures
One of the things I've been doing a lot the last year or so is listen to course lectures on line. Of the major universities I've checked on Berkeley has by far the largest selection at webcast.berkeley.edu/.

Recently I found Yale's offerings at oyc.yale.edu/courselist and I'm going to talk about that since it is fresher in my mind.  There are only a few courses but I've liked my choices so far.

I started listening to The Civil War and Reconstruction Era, 1845-1877 with Professor David Blight.  This was really, really good focusing particularly on the politics of the lead up to the war and aftermath.  I'm not that knowledgeable about the Civil War, and I've been focused on current political minutia for years so this was perfect for me.  The professor has a great delivery.  He kept reminding me of Garrison Keillor.

Next one was France Since 1871 with Professor John Merriman.   This was good but not as good as the previous.  It was nice to listen to listen to a sustained intellectual presentation from someone as far to the left as this guy. He takes a thematic rather than linear approach to the material and I'd recommend oyc.yale.edu/history/france-since-1871/content/sessions/session-8-dynamite-club-the-anarchists-1 if you were just going to dip in.

Thursday, December 25th, 2008
8:21 pm
Merry Christmas
We've had a pleasant Christmas.  Here are a couple of links I've enjoyed recently. 

The first is a speech by Obama's new science adviser giving the current state of climate disruption.  Hilzoy on Obsidian wings pointed this out.


The second is a funny and oh so true song by a friend of Michael Berube's called All My Internet Friends.

Sunday, December 14th, 2008
11:26 am
static electricity and folklore
I'm making one of my every few month attempts to start reading regularly.  I'll see how that goes,  anyway ...

With the coming of winter and static shocks becoming something that happens many times a day, I've been wondering what ordinary people thought about them in ancient or medieval times.  The knowledge that rubbing things could make them attract light objects is described by Thales of Miletus a pre-socratic greek philosopher. But I'm thinking more of the you touch something and it bites you phenomenon.

Of course modern things like central heating, carpets everywhere and lots of metal objects make it more frequent, but in low humidity areas like North Africa and the Middle East it must happen reasonably often. Is it the phenomena behind some of the stories about Djinn?  Does the Biblical prohibition about wearing clothes of different fibers have any connection?
Sunday, April 17th, 2005
5:56 pm
Classical texts recovered
From this article in The Independent


A horde of 400,000 scraps of papyrus found in the rubbish heaps of the ancient Egyptian city of Oxyrynchus during the nineteenth century and preserved at Oxford, have suddenly gone from illegible to legible. Scholars are recovering at least fragments of lost works by Sophocles, Euripedes, Hesiod, and other great classical authors. They estimate that this may increase the known body of Greek and Roman literature by 20%.
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