Sunday, May 7, 2023

Iron poor blood, geritol, snake oil, AI, and a thousand things not dreamed of

 I occasionally hear Springsteen's Dancin' in the Dark in my head:

Message keeps getting clearer radio's on and I'm moving 'round the place I check my look in the mirror I wanna change my clothes, my hair, my face Man I ain't getting nowhere I'm just living in a dump like this There's something happening somewhere baby I just know that there is...

In 1984 the song was on the radio all the time, somewhat of a backdrop to my chaotic life. I was working at a high level, making the transition to software engineer with a startup company (AMBI voice-data terminal, I talk about my work there at my old IT business site). My personal life was foolish, I still having the artist's love of love, allowing that drive, not simply for the natural physical drive of a man, but the need for the love of a good woman, one pleasing in spirit and form. It is always a mistake to desire anything to the point that you behave imprudently, dancing closer and closer to the edge of the cliff as it were. A woman I cared for used to joke that Dancin' in the Dark was my song...You can't start a fire without a spark...but people get burned by that fire more often than not (gold is tried in the fire, and acceptable men in the furnace of adversity, but some damage to the soul remains for a lifetime and beyond).

My own existence is further complicated by the cur factor, alluding to the inexplicable hate and fear of a certain class of mongrel for man. My own heels were constantly nipped at by bipeds of that ilk throughout my life, making it difficult for those who loved me to stay. As I have made clear to them, I have contempt for those who call themselves men but make their way with liberal use of their primary weapon, their slanderous tongue. David Buss, evolutionary psychologist, commented on the role of slander in “human” life in The Evolution of Happines: person's gain is often another person's loss...the most fundamental, most universal double standard is not male versus female but each individual human versus everyone else [Buss quoting Symons]. The profound implication of this analysis is that humans have evolved psychological mechanisms designed to inflict costs on others, to gain advantage at the expense of others, to delight in the downfall of others, and to envy those who are more successful at achieving the goals toward which they aspire....Men are no less vicious [than women] in their derogation tactics. The content of gossip, in short, is adaptively targeted and undoubtedly affects success in the mating market. It can simultaneously create psychological anguish and ruin the reputation of victims....As Gore Vidal noted, "It is not enough to succeed. Others must fail.."

St. Francis de Sales (1567 – 1622) rightly observed that slander is a kind of murder... causing civil death to the object of his slander (cf also the Book of James 3:8). Well, I apparently had/have an indomitable will to prevail, though I am a bit tired at this late date, grin. 

That segues nicely to my recall of Geritol ads on black and white television of the 1950's. Ironically, you have to be very careful with iron intake as you age, particularly if you have liver damage. The liver manufactures hepcidin, a protein that basically provides the only way for the body to limit accumulation of iron, which is a dangerously toxic element, despite being necessary for manufacture of hemoglobin, the oxygen transfer mettaloprotein present in red blood cells. Love is Like Oxygen, you get too much, you get too high...not enough and you're gonna die (1978 recording by Brit band Sweet). Seems there is always this dynamic between the pairs of opposites which characterize existence for conscious beings. 

Speaking of conscious beings, I am appalled (being a conscious being, for the most part, though perhaps the eternal flame burns less intensely with each passing day now) at the increasing focus on the "dangers of AI or artificial intelligence." As a mystic and engineer/citizen scientist, I can tell you that there is no artificial intelligence, only simple-minded computer programs that match strings of characters with other strings of characters in huge databases and AI hucksters who exhibit the Pygmalion myth gone wild. This would be a ludicrous fraud were it not that an increasingly stupid general population believes these claims. As I have said elsewhere on numerous occasions, you would indeed have to be an idiot to believe that a glorified search engine could safely operate an automobile in traffic. That the intent seems to be to give lethal drones at least partial operational control by such applications is legitimately a concern though, not because there is actually any artificial intelligence, but exactly because there is not. Someone at PBS (think it might have been Judy Woodruff) interviewed a Microsoft (I think) manager in their AI community a few months ago. He inadvertently let it slip that it was absurd to be so worried about evil AI coming after humanity because there is in fact only primitive computer programs trying to retrieve data in a useful way. I would post a link to the interview, but it was immediately cancelled from the internet memory, being insconsistent with the current dogma (the agenda of loosely coordinated academia/education and media to confuse and mislead the population into believing a man-as-animal world view) and I now cannot find it (and I am an experienced researcher, though I grant that the internet has deteriorated steadily over the last ten to fifteen years, becoming now less a means of retrieving documents relating to search query terms than a Family Feud match on the lowest common denominator, i.e., most popular current grunting among the masses--an example of "artificial intellgence" at work, grin).

I recall, wistfully, my memories of the High Flight Chapel c. 1965 at Ft. Campbell, Kentucky (or maybe it was Ft. Rucker, Alabama, now Ft. Novosel, history being rewritten to cancel out references to Confederate the way, I am really fed up with the portrayal of slavery as something done by white people to black people, my own people in Britain having been enslaved by the Romans in the early centuries of the first millenium anno Domini, fie on the "common era," and that was hardly a novel occurrence). The Magee poem of the same name was posted on the wall in the chapel as I recall:

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth and danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings; Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things You have not dreamed of..

I similarly found a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes as Joni Mitchell sang Summertime at the end of the Gershwin Prize show March 31 (Chris Richards at the Washington Post wrote about that performance). For me it was not only the experience of transcendent talent persisting into the last years of an artist, but a feeling of bittersweet sorrow and gratitude for this thing we call a human life, which for me and other baby boomers, is fast coming to an end. RIP (requiescat in pace) David Crosby, Gordon Lightfoot. As I said recently to my old rock colleague, Chas Thomas, it seems that every day another person, another treasured feature of my life, is buried one way or another...reminding me that this will soon be my own fate.

I was forced to move my websites to new hosting earlier this year (2023), not liking the attitude of my provider after their purchase by SquareSpace. Despite my frequent incapacitation from fatigue, I somehow retrieved my former web design expertise and learned a new framework (Bootstrap), while implementing the redesign (at my old IT business site and my music career site). I have little memory of the weeks that this required, but am grateful that someone, apparently me, accomplished this feat. As a bonus, the websites are now mobile-friendly, adapting for any screen size from phone to desktop pc.

Scraps of thought:

  • 1940 Hemmingway novel (and 1943 movie starring Gary Cooper and Ingrid Bergman) For whom the bell tolls: Roberto soliloquy at end. Has anyone noticed this is a parallel construction to Jesus' address to his disciples at the Last Supper?
  • Medicare and SSA pending insolvency: Why never a mention of the fact that for years congress has been raiding the funds payed in by the American citizens (and that, ahem, not-so-legitimate "citizens" have been draining the funds as well after illegally coming here)?
  • The clown caucus of Republicans demand control of spending, as well as cuts in existing programs, after they have increaed the national debt orders of magnitude in every administration with a Republican president by reducing the amount of taxes the superwealthy pay. The moron news media report only that Biden wants to raise taxes on the rich, with no mention of the fact that Republican president and WWII command Eisenhower warned that it was dangerous to reduce taxes on the wealthy, i.e., Biden increases do not come close to restoring the Eisenhower years proper tax brackets for high income. The media also rarely emphasizes that the pending (as of this writing May 6, 2023) debt default is about paying bills already incurred by the country over numerous previous administrations, Republican and Democratic, not about new spending.
  • In February 2023 DOE labs commented that COVID originated from lab leak in Wuhang province (China) with "evidence low grade." Many of us had noticed several years ago that the Wuhan CDC laboratory moved on 2nd December 2019 to a new location near the Huanan market where the first COVID cases appeared:

  • Ukraine must take the fight to Russia. You cannot survive a purely defensive total war in the long term, much less win it. Also, it must be obvious that the US will indeed fall away eventually in its support. Ukraine must make this a global conflict prior to that so as to prevent that from occuring. Won't that cause WWIII? WWIII has already begun, my friends.

Good night, and good luck.

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Hearts against the wind, dust in the wind, blah blah blah

 Well, I will try to write something quickly. A man can have no purpose except in the effect he has on others (unless you subscribe to the anthem of the young, i.e., the purpose of life is to live), but I have less and less capability to research and write and am loathe to spend any of my limited time up here. For one thing this blog is not publicized to the extent my websites are (publicized in the sense of being immediately located by a suitable keyword search) so it is unclear anyone reads it, though I do make the link available at my sites, directly or through intermediate links for those who want to learn more about me (that would be a selection filter beyond the general public). In any case, I am like the little Dutch boy trying to stop the collapse of the dyke, finger stuck in the hole and an immense ocean of evil distortion gathered inexorably on the other side.

As I write it is still dark out (0647 MT zulu - 7) and the wind blowing, gusts expected in 40-50 mph range. It will probably blow off and on for the next 4 months (hard to say anymore with global warming modifying all patterns). I recall the Eddy Duchin Story 1956  movie that had an unusual potency for me considering I was an infant at the time. As I recall when Duchin realized he was dying there was a storm and the wind was raging, while Chopin Nocturne in E flat major played in the background, that being a theme in the movie (perhaps because Duchin was a pianist). The Chopin was oddly familiar and remained permanently in my mind (I often played it during my rock guitar career in the 70's, off stage on a 6-string acoustic or working it into my lead solos when the band would leave the stage and break while I improvised for 10-15 minutes). Anyway, I put on a recording of Linda Ronstadt and J.D Souther singing  Hearts Against the Wind when I pulled my battered, worn body out of my rack this morning (no reason to put on Chopin, since he is part of my background classical selections that routinely accompany my work daily). Ruefully I grant that Kansas Dust in the Wind is probably more appropriate at this point. As Dillbert of Doyle's Dharma Deli fame used to yell in defiance, "Blow me!" (wonder if that fellow ever found a decent life, a story that won't be told here). As I increasingly confront the reality of death as my years increase I, despite a life's experience with paranormal occurrences and thinking about consciousness, usually view that death as simply going to sleep as usual (a long dreamless sleep, as my late father-in-law heart surgeon used to tell me), but not waking up. It is a sign of my ego defects that I view this as a terrible thing (I smile thinking of Nero's reported words as he committed suicide rather than be hacked to death by the Praetorian Guard, "what an artist the world has lost in me," reported by Suetonius in Lives of the Caesars), absent some continued existence more objectionable than the end of being.

With my central vision going and various pathologies eating my neural nets as fast as I can train new ones, it is extremely annoying to read text I have typed later and discover dyslexic-like transpositions of letters. I dislike running into typos in formal text I read and I assume most with a mind do also. I guess I could blame it on defective spell-checks, but I don't normally use them.

Speaking of defective software, it is increasingly impossible to accomplish search online, with stochastic parrots blasting proposed text like an idiot-child at every letter trying to predict at a Family Feud level what I am seeking As I have written previously, it is appalling that the general public is increasingly devoid of conscious or intelligent capability such that the primitive "artificial intelligence" garbage can be placed in their path at every juncture without complaint. I must admit that humans are so tribal and clique-motivated that I found a ChatGPT answer recently more rational than the defensive hostile covers by the bipeds at a forum (I was irritably complaining about the lack of a simple mechanism to request email notification on new activity of interest; I realized later they were using Microsoft software so probably had no way to add a feature not contemplated by the OCD-autocratic corporation).  Emily Bender's complains only that these "AI"s should be programmed to control language and history in the service of the Orwellian politically correct multicultural agenda. I would exclaim, "just shoot me," but that is probably a bad idea both in a personal context as well as the context of a secular society (no soul, no God, no foul) of decreasing intelligence (what? me worry?) and increasing armament (no talk of controlling access to military-grade weapons when white people see the country deteriorating into the usual third-world nightmare, and ironically being inclined to elect fascist clowns who will complete the process, albeit with a different skin complexion).

It has been embarrassing to witness the American government reaction to the Chinese spy balloon. Word of advice: stop talking so much and just shoot down anything that doesn't belong in our airspace. Anything more is simply evidence of weakness (of character if not military capability).

I planned to find someold Jerry Lewis movie footage illustrating spastic hand activity to accompany my continuing protest at the insistence by the media that such hand talking by people without any natural inclination for coordination somehow makes them interting and portrays personality. However, I find that I am too tired (and again the little Dutch boy with finger in the dyke, i.e., futility though the hero of Haarlem, no not that Harlem, was more successful).

You protest that I never have anything positive to say? I do commend Brandon Tsay for disarming the Monterey Park shooter at a dance hall in Alhambra, California in January (though I had to put up with the perverse American media instead trying to cast the shootings, which were by an Asian on Asians, as somehow related to purported racism by the hated Christian Anglo-Saxon culture against Asians). I say again that perhaps these mass shootings would decrease in frequency if the target crowd instantly cast all fear aside and attacked the assassin and tore him apart on the spot. 

In a less real setting, I admire Patrick Mahomes for his skill as a quarterback and his courage and motivation to take his team to a Super Bowl victory despite playing on an injured ankle for weeks. Admittedly football is an anachronism designed specifically to showcase capabilities that are now mostly irrelevant to the progress of civilization or the human species (to the extent such a species exists at this point). True physical strife between men has little to do with size or appearance in most cases. In war men do not strut this way and that on the front line and attempt to intimidate their foe flexing their biceps (not for very long anyway). Humans developed efficient killing tools thousands of years ago and excel at their use. What humans have not developed is a rational approach to society and reproduction. Behave like animals and expect to die like animals, whether the immediate vector of death is disease, starvation or direct in war.

When in Rome I guess...I enjoyed the Eblen vs Tokov mixed martial arts bout at Bellator 290 Feb. 4 right up to the point that Tokov abruptly put Eblen in a choke hold then inexplicably released him in the final seconds of the last round. I posted a question about it in a martial arts forum but could get no one interested in why that particular segment of the fight has been carefully screened online, i.e., can be found nowhere now (was still interesting to get some detail on proper grappling technique, I being more a standup fighter trained in kyokushin, though at my age and disability a fight might be more mutual assured destruction).

Tyre Nichols death at hands of Memphis police last month: Police reform? Really? Is America really ready to examine the culture that encourages police to believe they are demonstrating their masculinity rather than peforming a dangerous service for the community? When you create groups like the Scorpion squad you are creating a recipe for disaster. Police of any sex and physical capability, but with acceptable character, should be given weapons that can be progressively applied to gain control over an unruly suspect (think sedative darts or immobilizing sprays first) like Nichols (I can tell you that whatever your color, it you continue to refuse to comply with the instructions of an officer, it doesn't help you to continue to announce loudly that you are complying). The other necessary reform is to start educating all school children (particularly black) that an encounter with police is not man-to-man, but rather a transaction with a representative of the entire power of the state authorized in the pursuit of common order and law, i.e., you must comply with the instructions of a police officer (you can file a complaint later if that seems appropriate) and you must never attempt to evade arrest (unless you are ready to accept the adverse possible consequence which will include charges and possible physical injury up to and including death). I find it despicable to beat a man when he is down whatever the circumstances, but that entire episode (like most of these) was avoidable.

I feel sorry for President Biden, a man come to represent what has become mostly unruly children rather than the gentile America of history (history, not pc/multicultural revisionist garbage). If this population had hear Kennedy's 1962 "we choose to go to the moon" speech they would have been bitterly complaining within weeks that they still didn't see any people on the moon. There is apparently no place these days for a man who takes his responsibilities seriously and tries to do the right thing for God and country. America, perhaps you deserve Trump or some clown of similar nature. I do admit it is quite impossible to improve the lives of the general populace when you are afraid to disturb the perverted capitalism of this country (it is more similar to the economic structure of the National Socialism of Germany pre-WWII) that permits the entire wealth of the country to accumulate in the hands of a few (and the even more sensitive question of how to stop the lopsided reproduction of the less capable, i.e., you cannot have a true democracy unless it is populated by generally high intelligence folk of good character, and even then it is fragile), since any transfer of funds to the poor will be instantly harvested by the raising of prices on the things required for survival (think inflation).

Let me return to my work on the group theory of symmetric groups in the context of sampling strategies in randomization testing. At least I can find some peace and rationality there for a time.

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Whiskey for my men, drawing swords without cause, and other matters

Heard a country western song I hadn't encountered previously (at least I don't think I recent screen for Alzheimer's seems to indicate I was more or less ok...I forget, grin). Toby Keith was singing an apparent anthem in favor of vigilante justice, "Beer for My Horses." I agree there are "too many gangsters doing dirty deeds," but not being one to join a crowd (except in the unlikely event that it was enthusiastically pursuing some noble end) I am a little suspicious of a posse of buddies acting as judge, jury and executioner. Lord knows the Innocence Project (and other related work) have uncovered too many innocent men convicted and sentenced to death, and that was done by multiple levels of government rather than a hyped-up band of would-be Guardians (it is particularly heinous for the State to take life wrongly, for we of the governing society all share in the responsibility, the land as it were crying out for justice for the blood of the innocent). 

In any case, I am favorably disposed to whiskey for one's friends and I suppose beer for the horses. Reportedly my late uncle, who I note died at an age 15 years younger than my present age, once got a horse drunk and walked it upstairs to his apartment. I became instant friends with him in 1963 (my uncle, not the horse) much to my father's disgust.

I was surprised to find that some (Setterfield) have argued that the speed of light (a universal constant) has decreased over time, something convenient apparently if you are trying to patch up the inconsistency between literal Biblical chronology of the Earth and reality (whatever that is). I have personally observed some variation in the flow of time, having been involved around 1969 in an experiment with STP (a psychedelic much more potent than LSD). We had wondered if the chemical might increase remote viewing capability (clairvoyance really), something the government was interested in for obvious reasons (intelligence from any channel is useful; the early Christian church relied on paranormal warnings of pending arrest by the Romans provided in precognitive dreams by church members). 

As the mind-altering agent took effect I noticed billowing red and blue clouds of audio gas (this would be termed a form of synesthesia) from the stereo speakers in the observation room in the lab. The 60's band Steppenwolf  LP album"Monster" was playing. I then perceived a 3-dimensional vignette occupying maybe 8 cubic feet materialize above the audio system, containing a sinister-appearing choir of perhaps twenty dark-robed persons holding songbooks and singing the lyrics. Soon the vignette  faded into a purplish aura which in turn dissolved into the remains of the reality of the room. 

I hadn't realized I was standing until I fell backwards into a wall and slumped to the floor, surprised somewhat that I encountered resistance since the walls appeared to be breathing like bellows at times and looked like wet plaster covered with hieroglyphs on closer inspection. I tried to write notes using a pencil and notebook provided, but the characters and lines immediately levitated off the notebook pages and filled the surrounding air with geometric curves, making it impossible to write. I glanced at my left wrist to check my old Benrus analog watch (no digital watches a half century ago) and saw the minute hand revolving quickly around the face, the hour hand slowly advancing behind. I become a core of being which was experiencing the flood of altered perceptions, but was standing apart from them analogously as a large boulder around which white water races in rapids. I recall thinking that I was in a time-warp, i.e., that my consciousness had become disconnected from the normal space-time events as usually measured, as well as separating from the components of ego-in-the-world. 

I realized years later when studying the Upanishads that I had become the Witness, the Perceiver (Śvet. 6. 11 (line 11 of the Sixth Adhyāya, Śvetāśvatara Upanishad, [Brahma is] The one God, hidden in all beings . . .the witness, the perceiver ). I shut my eyes and began to fall though the darkness of interstellar space, Moiré patterns of cosmic phosphorescent webbing unfolding and spiraling about me (perhaps this NASA link is still good, appears similar if less spectacular Cosmic Web NASA). Although I responded appropriately to questions from observers without their having opened their mouths to speak (which did not seem unusual at the time), I did not find any improvement in remote viewing capability. That phenomenon usually occurred in the hypnagogic state between sleep and awake, but in later years I took medications to block it along with precognitive visions during sleep, as too disturbing. I had discovered that I was powerless to change a pending disastrous future (see Cassandra myth) and so preferred not to know. 

I recently heard a young woman on a public radio segment describing the prolonged death of another woman from cancer (I think), unclear the relationship. She said that the woman had towards the end found religion and that she supposed that was a delusion. I was immediately reminded of watching over a period of months while one of the New York city atheist/pc police whittled down the short story of an acquaintance of mine (a dilettante idle-rich writer wife of a former major ceo who had narrowly escaped the savings and loan collapse with a roof over his head, he having invested in a private bank at the time that went belly up). Her original original story was interesting and alive with a real human protagonist who ends up facing a near death experience while having lost everything else of her former life. 

By the time the New York editor got through with the tale, there was only a bumbling zombie-like character displaying little more than brief internal animal-like reactions. This intentional censoring of the true depth of human experience is, as I have written many times before, the agenda of something so evil that it raises my hackles and chills my bones to realize it now roams the world mostly unfettered and free, directing the hordes of confused bipeds to their fate. 

I have accepted that it is as impossible to implant truth in the soul of a man as it is give the power of seeing to a man born blind (Ernst Cassirer in his 1944 "An Essay On Man" paraphrasing Plato's Republic Book VII, "certain professors of education must be wrong when they say that they can put a knowledge into the soul which was not there before, like sight into blind eyes," Jowett 1871 translation), but continue to the extent I am able. 

The Vedanta tradition tell us that every soul makes its own way and seeks out new paths and knowledge on its own schedule. It is unclear to what degree a person may depart from the path of a particular life, much less to what degree in response to mere observations of an outsider. We nevertheless must not forsake right action, i.e., dharma, Sanskrit root dhr, “to hold,” as one may be constrained by truth, hence here to offer words believed to be true and beneficial is an act of devotion. It is clear though that there must be a conscious choice by a soul to advance (hence the title of the great spiritual anthology classic, "The Choice is Always Ours," by Phillips, Howes and Nixon).

This 2022 year coming to a close was the first year in a while that I didn't publish (make publicly available via various online venues) any academic-level papers. I am afraid I am winding down (time modifications notwithstanding). That being said, I am still working sporadically at a high level though and was pleased to communicate briefly with a quantum chemistry professor (in another country) who had developed a closed form significance level equation for a permutation analysis (writing it as an infinite series whose terms can be computed rapidly). I had been wondering why he quoted the 1935 result of the great R.A. Fisher (the zea Mays plant height analysis in which Fisher introduced the idea of randomization testing) differently. 

It turns out he had merely made an adjustment in the way the count of permuted test statistics that equaled the original test were used, something not uncommon when an analyst is looking for an exact test at the alpha level (0.05 level of significance for example). It had surprised me because I knew the Fisher study well and had in fact uncovered a small error in calculation by Fisher (he had no computer with which to process the 32768 sign alternations of the 15 plant height difference involved in creating the randomization distribution). I wrote the following R code to accomplish the Fisher analysis exactly:

one_sample_sign_alt_sum_Exact <- function(x){

n <- length(x)

tst <- sum(x)

z <- abs(x)

# borrow bincombinations() from e1071 package:

sign_alt_mtrx <- matrix(0, nrow = 2^n, ncol = n)

for (n2 in 1:n) {

    sign_alt_mtrx[, n2] <- rep(c(rep(0, (2^n/2^n2)), rep(1, (2^n/2^n2))), 

            length.out = 2^n)


sign_alt_mtrx <- 2*sign_alt_mtrx - 1

sign_alt_num_rows <- length(sign_alt_mtrx[,1])

null_dist_vec <- rep(0, sign_alt_num_rows)

for (i in 1:sign_alt_num_rows){

    null_dist_vec[i] <- sum( sign_alt_mtrx[i,]*z )


pUp <- sum( null_dist_vec >= tst) / sign_alt_num_rows

pDn <- sum( null_dist_vec <= tst) / sign_alt_num_rows

upperTailPval <- pUp

lowerTailPval <- pDn

res <- list( nulldist = null_dist_vec, teststat = tst, 

 lenx = n, lensigncombs = sign_alt_num_rows, lowTailP = lowerTailPval,  

  upTailP = upperTailPval)



(End R code)

In any case, the chemist was rather pleased that someone had finally commented on the paper, which he had written decades earlier. I was pleased to discover that he was also familiar with the writings of Augustine (Bishop of Hippo who witnessed the fall of the Roman Empire from Rome).

I turned on the FM radio again while having a coffee break last week or so and listened to some pod-caster trying to establish that the trend in fake music, i.e., recycled pieces of other's work (grooves) and white noise, electronic sounds repetitive droning, is not as stupid as it sounds. I recall (by way of contrast) the thousands of performances I gave on the guitar, all original improvisation, never the same twice. Came to my mind a time with gathered acquaintances outside for a smoke break at an electronics school in 1978, me on an old 6-string acoustic improvising around "Stairway to Heaven" by Led Zeppelin for 15 minutes or so. The little crowd had shaken their heads in disbelief at what they had heard (one granting that high praise, "that was better than the album").

Once I ran into an acquaintance who still recalled my impromptu performance of "Roundabout" by Yes, again on a 6-string alone, playing all the parts and improvising, as perhaps the best guitar solo he had every heard in the intervening 40 years or so. There was a memorable performance with one of the several rock bands I played lead with a half century ago in a downtown El Paso club with multiple levels, hundreds of people at tables with pitchers of beer. The crowd had been entranced by the music we were playing (there are some brief excerpts from some of my live work in early 70s here Dalton Live excerpts 1970s). The club owner complained to us at next band break that his customers thought it was a concert, but he wanted them to get up and dance so as to become thirsty and order more beer. They appeared to be enjoying our music using other intoxicants primarily and drinking pitchers of beer largely to counter the usual cotton-mouth.

Going back to the 19th century in the classical genre, there were the performances of the virtuoso violinist Niccolò Paganini, who hypnotized crowds with his improvisation and brilliance (the music he charted is still played today and variations composed based on their themes, e.g., "Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini," Op.43 by Sergei Rachmaninoff). Quoting from "A Popular History of the Art of Music," by W. S. B. Mathews,

It is impossible after this lapse of time to realize the sensation which Paganini's appearances made. His tall, emaciated figure and haggard face, his piercing black eyes and the furor of passion which characterized his playing, made him seem like one possessed, and many hearers were prepared to assert of their own knowledge that they had seen him assisted by the Evil Spirit. His caprices remain the sheet anchor of the would-be virtuoso. The entire art of violin playing rests upon two works—the Bach sonatas for violin solo, and the great Paganini caprices. Everything of which the violin is capable, or which any virtuoso has been able to find in it, is contained in these works.

To speak of adding electronic noise tracks or repetitive portions of a single instrument performance ad infinitum is then an obscene parody of real music and artistry. What is worse, the present deteriorating culture seems not to appreciate the difference between what is basically elevator music and the performance of music by an artist.

On the other hand, there is ample enthusiasm but little talent among found in current classical music (George Santayana said it well around 1913, though perhaps more generously than I, "artists have no less talent, their taste, their vision, their sentiment are often interesting; they are mighty in their independence and feeble only in their works"). You typically encounter alternating frenzied or painfully slow random strikes on an instrument, a squeaking, groaning cello with no hint of melody emerging among the cries of pain, frantic pluckings of stringed instruments with fingers moving at random, arms flailing, as might a comedian looking at the audience most seriously while playing the result of absurd spastic motions. attempting to relay the emotions or thoughts of the composer (more composeur), but with no observable talent in music, melody, or harmony. For an example of how a true composer can relay images when bringing musical talent to bear, see for example the 1914 "Lark Ascending," by Ralph Vaughan William. 

Online you frequently encounter people trying to find a formula for, say, the work of Mozart or Beethoven based in mathematics, probably the same class of individual who believes computers can generate music. This relates to my oft-expressed outrage/despair that the fraud of artificial intelligence is becoming so widely believed now. An entire generation has been conditioned by those in academia (the perverters of intelligence) into believing they themselves are biological automatons without consciousness, much less a soul (it is easier to believe a search engine is conscious if you repress experience that testifies to your own).

I was sad to hear of Christie McVie's death (at 79) in November 2022. The Rumors album 1977 had been a part of my musical lifetrack. I had always found Christie a lovely woman both in appearance and in spirit, so loving and alive. My late wife Cheri told me she used to crank up McVie singing her "river goes on and on and the sea that divides us is a temporary one, and the bridge will bring us back together" from The Dance tracks (live Fleetwood Mac 1997) whenever she saw the Anthony, NM exit coming up on her run from Albuquerque to stay with me on weekends at La Union, NM in 2010 prior to our marriage.

Seems to be a pattern here. As I wrote the other day in a medical forum (discussing research in geroscience, I noted that I didn't believe you could circumvent entropy, the natural progression of physical systems to more probable states, i.e., increasing disorder), I am like a senescent cell at this point (what are we given as men? three score and ten), worn out but resisting apoptosis (programmed cell death) and with my angry railings against the state of things on this planet, secreting inflammatory utterings as it were. I suppose that is the way of the old much of the time. But there is the underlying tendency of humans to believe that they individually understand and know the truth of matters while their fellows are deluded and wrong-headed.  

A Frontline report December 21 (2022) on General (retired) Mike Flynn illustrated this tendency. There are the odd trappings of a religious crusade grafted onto lies and generally non-spiritual (for those with no understanding of the term "spiritual,", see the Sermon on the Mount for an example) attitude and behavior. As Toby Keith sang about in "Beer for My Horses," i.e., we see humans readily coming together to view themselves as a like-minded, cohesive group ("the good people") taking on the people who are outside the group ("the evil people"). It is bizarre, to say the least, for a former soldier to even refer to the Constitution after putting aside his oath to defend it.

Typically the greater the certitude the less the actual spiritual or intellectual capacity of the human. Contrast such posturing of folks like Flynn with the courage and integrity of the Ukrainian people and the moving address of their president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, to the US Congress December 21 (2022). It is agreed that Flynn "got things done" during his time directing anti terrorist activities in Iraq, but this was apparently accomplished by putting aside normal prudence, i.e., by striking non-legitimate targets about half the time (obviously this didn't help with the whole "hearts and minds" campaign).

During the increasingly frequent periods I am unable to read and write, I seek out movies featuring people that I can admire, e.g., "The Pacific" series about the WWII pacific campaign ("Without a sign his sword the brave man draws, And asks no omen but his country’s cause", from Pope's translation of the Iliad of Homer, quoted by one of the Marines when asked why they fight), based on books authored by several Marine veterans.  I consider Medal of Honor winner John Basilone, an America lost, heroism of the legitimate sort, comparing to the fascist/authoritarian posturing of today's overgrown infants. I am grateful to have lived, but not pleased with my life's performance (I realize the life we are assigned is necessary, but still the errors and regrets are painful), nor with the state of the world. One can only hope that I am as deluded (and generally wrong) in my assessments as are the numberless hordes of narcissistic hominids who are inheriting what remains of the Earth.                                                                        

Monday, November 7, 2022

 I was drinking my first coffee of the day and switched my FM radio tuner from public radio (which was already annoying me with some politically correct or multicultural garbage that very few other than the liberal media academia axis wants to hear) to the 70's 80's pop channel. "Burning down the house" was on, which I hadn't thought of in a very long time. I recognized the song from the first few bars of instrumental and turned off the radio before the vocal began again, finding its tone a bit disruptive this early. 

The phrase evoked concern about the outcome of the pending US midterm elections (as I write November 6, 2022). A large percentage of Americans are indeed about ready to burn down the house as it were, i.e., toss the democratic Republic in favor of authoritarian cult-of-personality government where even the lip-service paid to the concept of the fair administration of justice would be dropped. 

Possibly that population segment believes (difficult to say given that they believe Trump is a legitimate businessman, apparently on the basis of his performance on the Apprentice reality [sic] tv show) that whatever the band of usual horror-show-clowns that infested the government under such circumstances, at least the borders would be secured, literally and figuratively. Unfortunately, it would no longer be America. Paraphrasing a line from Madmen, I don't know exactly how it will end, but I can tell you it ends badly.  

Meanwhile (November 6, 2022), Putin continues to evacuate Kherson (Ukraine) in the face of Ukrainian military advances in retaking territory initially seized by Russia. Speaking of ending badly, I see no reason for Putin to evacuate civilians (who he normally slaughters without much concern) unless he is planning to use a particularly nasty weapon there (it might be difficult even for an adept liar like Putin to claim that the defenders did this to their own people; he does have a habit of involuntarily smirking after a particularly satisfying prevarication, e.g., while advising to look for the recent pipeline saboteurs among those that might benefit from that). 

A modest proposal: Ukraine relinquished its nuclear arsenal years ago in return for guarantees of sovereignty. Under the circumstances, we should return equivalent nuclear weapons to Ukraine. Putin can then decide whether he wants mutual annihilation or a chance to continue as asshole-in-chief of Russia (i.e., get out of Ukraine).

At the risk of being labeled a nihilist or warmonger, if that little assbite in N. Korea continues to develop a nuclear arsenal (while also making daily threats to use them), we should arm S. Korea and Japan with nuclear weapons also. Something is going to step off eventually, so it seems reasonable to give our current friends a fighting chance and possibly deter a nuclear war in the long run. Israel is already ready to go as far as the goat-boys running Iran (just waiting for us to get out of the way). Guess as long as I am suggesting precipitous actions I should recommend similarly arming Taiwan, though they are so near their enemy (China) that they would probably have to use nuclear submarine platforms to preserve retaliatory capability.

I often feel like I am in some grotesque cartoon strip in whatever passes for an entertainment medium in an advanced civilization. The strip features a Petri dish (a shallow dish used to culture bacteria in a laboratory) labeled "Earth." Little dialogue balloons emerge from the overflowing dish (bacteria having overgrown the entire dish and now pushing the top off and oozing down the sides) with timely comments, e.g., "we really must recycle," "ban abortion, population control is wrong" etc.

I recently made my first intentional use of the insert/overwrite toggle setting on a computer keyboard. I have used computers (and primarily keyboard as input device) for almost half a century and up to now the overwrite mode only served to disrupt my work when accidentally toggled (I learned touch typing around 1971, on typewriters), as I always intend to insert new characters, not overwrite existing. However, I discovered it was convenient to use a previous data entry as a template within the field of a data structure (i.e., to copy and paste the structure then just type over the previous fields). Despite my seeming chronic irritable pessimism, I am always read to be pleasantly surprised (while I wait for my end or the end of the world, though as Schopenhauer observed, for every man death is the end of the world, the Day of Judgment, in a personal sense).

I was happy to see NASA successfully hit the DART asteroid twin. Perhaps we will be able to nudge an incoming killer asteroid off course enough that it will miss the Earth (and so remove that from the growing list of extinction scenarios applicable to our situation now).  I recall NASA experimenting with the technique a few years back when they crashed a probe into the planet Mars (1999 Mars probe crash). Just joking.

To the extent I am able, I have continued working with randomization of data (from observations) to synthesize a null distribution. As I mentioned previously, the idea, described by Ronald Fisher in 1935, is to use an appropriate scheme to randomize the data observed in order to get an idea of how rare the actually observed combination of experimental unit (say one a similarly placed pair of plants, each from a different genetic origin) and response (say the relative height of the pairs).

As is unfortunately common today, much of the original creativity in the subject has been obscured by verbal ornamentation (perhaps crudely analogous to John von Neumann warning of too much abstract inbreeding leading to mere baroque aesthetics in areas of mathematics that have traveled too great a distance from the original empirical origins; see his 1947 article, The Mathematician). In the early twentieth century Fisher (and Pitman shortly afterwards) never described the concept as a "permutation test," that being a time when educated people still attempted to use precise language, particularly with regards to mathematics. Nowadays, even an English grammar textbook author has to be apologetic in attempting to teach the student, asserting that "language runs its own course and previously discouraged usage can become normal," (from the 2011 Oxford Modern English Grammar by Bas Aarts) before suggesting delicately that "this does not mean that everything uttered by a speaker of English will be regarded as acceptable" (I note, dryly, that there would not be much point in offering a grammar textbook were it otherwise).

I don't know, perhaps human relations have always been more primate interaction than the work of the noble, rational, spiritual beings I see in the best of us (and certainly see as the appropriate model to the extent anyone feels the compulsion to better himself rather than to self-contentedly merely advocate his banality and mediocrity from whatever forum is available). Television dramas now advertise biographies for the characters portrayed by the actors. The one remaining television game show featuring real challenge to understanding and recall (Jeopardy, and no, an IBM glorified search engine could not have competed in a real game in my opinion)  now finds it necessary to offer another version of the show featuring celebrities and dumbed-down questions (I assume, since I am unable to stomach a look at the show). I realize this is partly a sign of the decreasing intelligence of the human populations (knives now often have product warnings that they are sharp, a local radio report of a helicopter crash notes that analysis of data indicated the chopper descended rapidly, etc.). If I understand the politically correct multicultural agenda, they want to stop all discrimination (negative or positive) by race, ethnicity or gender/sexual inclination among people and instead use the normal preferences of women, homosexuals or men who possess those preferences (most men probably), i.e., stock Jeopardy or any desirable employment generally with individuals judged attractive by that criteria primarily, hiring some competent people farther down the line to actually do the work (I'm not sure if they realize that becomes necessary, since most of the active proponents of this agenda work in fields where achievement is judged only by the opinions of the group rather than by scientific advance, engineering advance, true musical creativity, etc.).

Perhaps the ability to distinguish ability, integrity, and courage from innate primate physical attraction has always been more difficult to identify as one descends the ladder of intelligence and character among the variability found in the population. There was a close relationship between physical structure and capability and ability to survive in a world without advanced technology during our long evolutionary history, but the remnants of that past are a serious liability now when the crises facing humanity (mostly of our own making, e.g., overpopulation, global warming and the natural disease and wars that are developing) require decision-making by the best of us, not the most popular to the interconnected troop. As I have said previously, the ubiquity of social media like Facebook and Twitter have been a major factor in the etiology of the current plague of demagogues, instantaneous intercommunication (to the extent that images and dog whistles can be called "communication") having more or less the same effect on humans as would placing large mirrors around a baboon cage have on the occupants. I was kind of hoping Elon Musk would quietly get some smart people off planet some place where the race could just start over, knowing what went wrong previously (and watching remotely as Earth sterilized itself), but his preoccupation with Twitter makes him appear to be some kind of fool (so I am back to praying the Other Ones will take some interest in cultivating a small experimental colony somewhere; the experiment would be to determine if humans could evolve with some help).

Returning to my recent work with randomization and permutation, I was reminded that Wolfgang Pauli had in 1925 proposed that four quantum numbers were needed to characterize each atomic electron and that no two electrons in an atom have the same set of quantum numbers (from Concepts of Modern Physics, 6th Edition, Arthur Beiser ).  In autumn 1924 Pauli had proposed the new (fourth) quantum number as a "two-valuedness not described classically" (quoting from Paul's December 13, 1946 Nobel Prize Lecture). The 1925 proposal that no two electrons could share the same set of quantum numbers came to be known as the exclusion principle (a convenient property, since it keeps the atoms of our bodies from collapsing, along with planets and stars, though the latter may collapse when their hydrogen and secondary fusion fuels are exhausted, with a spectacular explosion observed as a supernova). The fourth quantum number came to be thought of as electron spin, though it is essentially a quantum-mechanical property of the electron (and other particles) and does not really correspond to spin of a particle (the electron, like other matter particles, is fundamentally an energy packet, or a field). If you have two electrons, you can describe their configuration space, i.e., their three coordinates in space and one coordinate in "two-valuedness" (electron spin if you prefer, though it is more a group theoretical property, e.g., you would have to walk twice around an electron or other spin 1/2 particles, which comprise matter, to return to the original starting point as it were). All particles of the same kind, e.g., electrons, are otherwise identical, so they can exchange configuration coordinates with one another arbitrarily, however, for fermions (the electron is a fermion, with spin 1/2) the wave function of the system changes sign by such an exchange (antisymmetric). Exchanging coordinates is a permutation of the space and spin coordinates (yes, I took a while to get to the connection to permutation).

Having established the context (or driven the reader elsewhere), I now mention the interesting paper I ran across, Pauli’s ideas on mind and matter in the context of contemporary science by Atmanspacher and Primas. Pauli apparently related to Laotse's (Lao-tzu, the legendary Chinese sage who wrote or propagated the Tao Te Ching several millennia ago) concept of having an indirect influence on others, the good ruler being one that is not consciously noticed (clearly I am more heavy-handed in my writing up here, but I do use the other approach in many other venues and have throughout my life). Privately Pauli expressed some interesting ideas about human existence and physics:

“It is true that [in a quantized field theory] future is not yet distinguished from past. From my point of view such a distinction should, however, not be introduced into quantum theory by an additional principle, but derives from the physical situation insofar as the result of a previous observation is usually assumed as known, and then one asks for the statistical distribution of results of later observations.” (1948 Letter from Pauli to Rivier).

Or, concerning symbols:

When the layman says ‘reality’, he usually thinks that he is talking about something evident and well-known; by contrast it seems to me that it is the most important and exceedingly difficult task of our time to work out a new idea of reality. . . . What I have in mind concerning such a new idea of reality, is – in provisional terms – the idea of the reality of the symbol. On the one hand, a symbol is a product of human effort, on the other hand it indicates an objective order in the cosmos of which humans areonly a part.” (Letter by Pauli to Fierz of August 12, 1948)

I myself wrote some thirty years ago that "we inhabit a world of our own making in many ways, man alone on Earth breathing life into the images of his mental world." I was surprised to find (in the Atmanspacher and Primas paper) that Cassirer had written in 1944 “No longer in a merely physical universe, man lives in a symbolic universe.” We are not talking about the signals used by animals for example. Those designate expected reactions in an animal (it concerns me that human discourse is becoming more merely this kind of animal signal in recent years). Animals which speak do not use words to express general ideas, as Leibniz wrote.

Human symbolic life, on the other hand might result in the construction of vehicles that leave the Earth, the transmission of information over radio waves, etc. This is a creative role of a qualitatively different sort compared to the constructions of animals, e.g., a twig broken by a chimpanzee to a convenient length by which to poke out a termite to eat; the chimp might have some image in mind beforehand after once seeing it done, or fumbling out the procedure the first time, but it is quite a leap to the manipulation of abstractions (with very little if any initial connection to entities already existing) and eventual realization of complex scientific and technological devices.

I don't mean to say that the path to the "joy of understanding" (reputedly Da Vinci called this the noblest pleasure and I am inclined to agree at this late date in my life, perhaps having forgotten most of the other pleasures as dimming visions of youth) does not require some meandering and effort, much less tidy than the published formal papers would imply. Pauli wrote in 1957 (see Atmanspacher and Primas paper):

“I hope that no one still maintains that theories are deduced by strict logical conclusions from laboratory-books, a view which was still quite fashionable in my student days. Theories are established through an understanding inspired by empirical material, an understanding which is best construed, following Plato, as an emerging correspondence of internal images and external objects and their behavior. The possibility of understanding demonstrates again the presence of typical dispositions regulating both inner and outer conditions of human beings.”

Jan P Vandenbroucke writes in Observational research, randomised trials and two views of medical science that

"... discovery and explanation cannot be defined equally directly. Aetiologic researchers have a duty to play around with low-probability hypotheses, because these may lead to new insights. Much good can come from going down the wrong alley and detecting why it is wrong, or from playing around with a seemingly useless hypothesis: the real breakthrough might come from that experience. What is lost if we go too far in the wrong direction is time and money for science. That is again inevitable: science makes progress “in a fitful and meandering way” as described by Stephen Jay Gould...all data analyses are interpretations in the light of particular hypotheses and a particular state of knowledge. All communication about data, like all data collection, is selective and interpretative. This inherent selection and interpretation may lead scientists to stray collectively too far in a wrong alley. Again this is inevitable, as data cannot be collected, nor analysed or communicated, without interpretation...

Well, I will stop this meandering for now and wish you and anyone else of good heart good fortune somehow.

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Dust bowls, passing of an era with Elizabeth II, watchtowers, permutations and other things dreamt of

On local oldies radio heard Jimi Hendrix playing his masterpiece, All Along the Watchtower, the other day. Dylan wrote the song 1967 or so, and Hendrix recorded it 1968. I recall at the time being mesmerized by completely unique electric guitar riffs and audio processing, Hendrix more or less creating the acid rock style that was soon taken up by other players for decades. The lyrics were another nod by Dylan to the Old Testament apparently, he probably being familiar with those verses (like many of us of past years, the words of the Bible are an eloquent underpinning to much of our thought, form and substance). Isaiah Chapter 21, verses 5–9 (KJV):

21:5-9 Prepare the table, watch in the watchtower, eat, drink: arise, ye princes... For thus hath the LORD said unto me, Go, set a watchman, let him declare what he seeth. And he saw a chariot with a couple of horsemen... and he hearkened diligently with much heed: And he cried, A lion: My lord, I stand continually upon the watchtower in the daytime, and I am set in my ward whole nights: And, behold, here cometh a chariot of men, with a couple of horsemen

I actually had tears in my eyes when I heard of Elizabeth II's passing and watched some of the many retrospectives on her. For me, aging and despairing at the course of humankind, it was more than simply the death of a good-hearted queen, monarch of a country which I still feel a great affinity for (as many of the original colonists and their kin). It was yet another loss of a type of nobility and integrity that is vanishing now. I mourn the death of both. It was telling to hear American news folks somewhat puzzled at the quiet reverence of thousands of Brits who gathered to see her off---the type of people who left Britain for the New World were definitely not the type who remained!

I watched a PBS special on the 1930's Dust Bowl climate disaster recently. I was fascinated with the reaction of the inhabitants of the Oklahoma/Texas areas affected, the denial and attempts to persist in their previous habits and life: 

This is of course highly relevant as I watch a global catastrophe occuring now, almost weekly damage and disruption of America from wildfires and vicious weather (well said by California governor Newsom to be "nature's fury"), flooding, destructive winds, rising sea levels inundating coastal areas, roasting humanity with unheard-of heat. A core of Americans react this time with the same denial, but with the added viciousness of the child of poor character encountering limits. And still we have the counterbalance of the perverse academia-media axis who "Who feel that life is but a joke" (from All Along the Watchtower).  Four horsemen are approaching, and the wind indeed has begun to howl!

I have spent recent weeks studying combinatorics, the related topic of permutation testing in statistics being as chaotic and imprecise as mud-wrassling a greased-hyper-pig, as we used to say in my hippie-dog days late 60's southwest Texas (well, as I would have said if I had been devoting much time to the problem then). Permutation is the process of producing new orderings of a sequence, think of quickly switching the order of three cups under which one hides a treat while trying to test your dog's intelligence (if that is still permitted, after all, the dog has its own cultural traditions). 

I ran a simulation of the random reordering of the differences in height of Zea mays plants grown by Darwin to test the superiority of cross-bred over self-fertilized (I have mixed feelings about the relative merits of both at this point in history, but that is another matter). This was suggested by Ronald Fisher in his 1935 Design of Experiments, thus initiating the subject of permutation testing, though, to my continuing irritation, subsequent practitioners tossed precise usage of mathematical terms out the window and loosely referred to any shuffling of data and labels as "permutations." 

The idea is that if you have a true experimental effect, in this context that a cross-bred plant will grow a bit higher (and attain a higher standard of living?) than its poor self-fertilized competitor, if you randomly change the signs (plus or minus) on the measured differences in height and count how many times the sum of the differences (one way to do it; there are other test statistics possible) is as extreme as that originally observed, then you can estimate the probability that you are seeing a random effect rather than a true experimental result. On the following plot I mark the observed original statistic with a vertical red line. The blue histogram plots the count frequency of randomly shuffled sums (sums of randomly alternated signed height differences), most being much lower, suggesting that our observation is unlikely to occur by chance:

To do the analysis and create the data used in my plot above, I pulled (extracted the computer code of interest and modified it to accomplish my limited goal apart from the original package) some Python code from a software package by Kellie Ottoboni (Ph.D. from Berkeley) and colleagues. The yellow curve plotted over the top of the blue histogram is a plot of a normal distribution with the mean and standard deviation of the histogram data, for comparison. By the Central Limit Theorem, if you take enough samples of a population, it eventually begins to look like the bell curve plotted, i.e., it converges to a normal distribution. Randomization techniques like "permutation testing" handle the case when the samples tested may not be normally distributed, i.e., they allow you to make inferences about the data without making any assumptions of normality (probably not a good idea to assume anything is normal these days, but that is another matter also).

I mention Kellie in particular because a paper she wrote with two collaborators, An Empirical Comparison of Parametric and Permutation Tests for Regression Analysis of Randomized Experiments, was very useful to me in bringing me up to speed on this subject. Coincidentally, one of her Ph.D. advisors (who also worked on the Python code cited earlier) at UC Berkeley, Philip Stark, had written and posted one of the first online courses taught at UC Berkeley, Introductory Statistics, which I had studied in February 2022. Stark writes well and has a good sense of humor, e.g., the epigraph for his online course is "statistics means never having to say you're certain."

I cringe everytime I hear a new announcement on public radio attributed to "new research" or "science" because it is inevitably some dubious or trivial result reflecting either an outright distortion or misuse of a very small statistical significance. In Practical Regression and Anova using R, Julian Faraway quoted St. Augustine (4th century):

The good Christian should beware of mathematicians and all those who make empty prophecies. The danger already exists that mathematicians have made a covenant with the devil to darken the spirit and confine man in the bonds of Hell. 
In Confessions and City of God (two major works by Augustine) I could not find this purported quotation, although it is more or less a good summary, in more metaphorical phrasing, of the many discussions Augustine did offer on the absurdity of astrology, which at the time the practitioners of which were labelled "mathematicians." 

Speaking of covenants with the devil, I feel sorry for Liz Cheney, who must now realize that all those years she believed she and her father naturally obtained roles as leaders because of their integrity and intelligence were years of delusion, illusion. In fact the population which had elected her (and now worships the antichrist and continuing polluter of the American Republic) is largely bestial and moves this way and that with no more higher thought than that of cattle in a herd. It is ironic, of course, that one of the few Republicans with balls, as it were, is a woman. I salute Liz and hope to see and hear more from her in the future (as I have said before, America is rotting in many respects and I would like to see that process reversed somehow, but I would hardly follow a parody of a man to accomplish that goal, so cannot support the last Trump).

And speaking of the herd aimlessly moving this way and that, a few weeks ago the major media all tried to shift from coverage of the courageous fight of the Ukrainians against the murderous, cowardly hordes of Putin, to the plight of the Afghan people under the Taliban. There was little mention of the twenty years, 3000 or so American lives, and trillions of American dollars spent giving those people every chance to achieve a democratic republic and dispose of the Taliban. Apparently we are somehow supposed to believe it is our fault. I suppose the the pc/multicultural/antiwhite/antiwestern axis is nervous that too much attention is devoted to the Christian, white, courageous Ukranians. In any case, that dog didn't hunt, as LBJ might have said, i.e., the media dropped most of that new focus as the public found it unappealing and unbelievable.

New product idea I am considering: Energy saver thermostats for home HVAC, simply adds a degree to any setting for cooling and subtracts a degree from any setting for heat. 

Well-done, Speaker Pelosi (another case of 'nads). You thoroughly annoyed the Chinese Totalitarian Club, but at least made it more likely that we would fight the Chinese if they attacked Taiwan. Why should we care? Aside from our word as a nation, you must judge from the lessons of history that totalist regimes never stop with their immediate neighbors. To that extent, better to help others fight than find ourselves isolated facing a fight for survival alone. Of course, with our population increasingly stupid and obese to a degree that our Armed Forces our having difficulty finding qualified recruits, any fight we get into is going to be a tough one now. We still have some technological superiority, but that won't last forever (American science is slipping, not surprisingly when concepts of excellence have been discarded in favor of diversity for its own sake and education has been made accessible to all and therefore of little worth). 

Good night, and good luck.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Adrift, but statistically aware

It seems like a long time since my previous post, but now see it was April 27, 2022, less than 2 months ago. I cannot decide whether I am deteriorating over the last year or so at an increasing rate. I seem to be battling chronic fatigue and brain fog more frequently. That, of course, degrades my ability to research and write. I had hoped that my new tactic of incidental tone checks, stretching and periodically getting out of the reclining work-bed where I spend my time would go unnoticed by my battered old body, and so I might avoid a CFS crash by not spending my available daily vitality ration in one session.

Perhaps I am simply suffering the general baby-boomers idiotic delusion that the less-pleasant aspects of life (e.g., aging) do not happen to those who lived during the bright, young, sunshiny days of the late 1960's. I am on my motorcyle on a summer morning 1968 and feel the caress of the sun, not unwelcome back then with reasonably cool air prior to the oppressive heat, fires and storms that are symptoms of a global fever of an Earth infected by bipeds today, and hear Spanky and Our Gang singing "Lazy Day" in my mind and wonder what happened to me, to us collectively.

I apologize to those who were snared by that southeast Asia meatgrinder, i.e., those who may have less than pleasant memories of the 1960's, early 1970's. I did know one fellow who frequented the local park where we all hung out who kept volunteering to return for another tour in the Nam, finding the entertainment there worth the risk. Ironically, he got shot at the park by a young redneck, after which he beat the hell out of the shooter. Don't know if he returned to Nam again, but I didn't see him again. I remember another acquaintance, Joe, a motorcycle club buddy. In 1968 we all used to pile into an old Plymouth after Billy, the lanky hillbilly owner, bolted on a four-barrel carburetor used only for expeditions, and cruise to Juarez, Mexico on Friday nights. Joe and I would sing Neil Diamond's Solitary Man and strum acoustic guitars wedged between seven or eight of us crammed into the old car, windows open and night air whipping us. He joined the Marines to get into the fight and came back with an edginess he formerly lacked. I heard he went into law enforcement. I hope he had a good life after that. 

At any rate, I am seized more and more by the feeling that I am adrift in time, geologic time. I glance out at the desert to the west and the volcano in the distance. That dead volcano (now surrounded by upscale homes on the south side) is typical of those appearing near a rift. In this case the rift is the Rio Grande Rift, which I theorize may have been induced to begin tearing apart by the Chicxulub asteroid strike 65 mya (see my article at Nonantipodal Chicxulub impact seismic wave). 

I try to put my limited existence in some kind of perspective ("the quest for meaning," think that was the subtitle of some psychology textbook I had), aware of the evolution of the universe and life on Earth over billions of years. It is difficult to comprehend. Well, more difficult if you have experienced phenomena that violate the assumptions of materialism and so cannot so easily accept the current concept of man as no more than animal. Otherwise I suppose I could adopt the apparent slightly depressed resignation of the younger generations, those without religion. Belief grounded in experience is not so easily discarded, however.

I smile regarding a conversation with a friend a quarter century ago or so, Susan responding to my discussion of reincarnation, eyes twinkling with high intelligence and humor, that "it would be better not to come back as pond-scum" (I agree). Obviously I have not reached the type of enlightenment which results in viewing any particular existence as acceptable ("or I may simply be a single drop of rain...but I will remain, I'll be back again", Johnny Cash singing with The Highwaymen). 

Sometimes I wonder if my complaints about the the state of the world are abhorrent to God. I recall  Isaiah 45:9 ( KJV) "Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou?" But, if I, a man, can envision a kingdom of god (i.e., a world with more good than evil, more intelligence than stupidity, more wise men than brute beasts and a small population united in a civilization dedicated to the development of individual capability, increase of happiness and knowledge rather than the insatiable urge for pointless and pernicious acquisition), how can there be instead only mindless predation, which with humans has been perfected in the expression of unlimited greed and narcissism, despoiling the gift of increased consciousness on the upper rungs of the evolutionary ladder?

It is not uncommon for the thinking man to be dismayed by the state of civilization. For example, one could read Albert Einstein's March 3, 1947 letter to his longtime friend, Max Born (in The Born-Einstein Letters, correspondence between Max and Hedwig Born and Albert Einstein 1916 - 1955, translated by Irene Born). Born, who received a Nobel Prize in Physics in 1954 for his work decades before in quantum mechanics, had frequent disagreements with Einstein about the validity of quantum mechanics, which was ironic, considering that Einstein, Planck and Bohr are considered to be the fathers of the quantum theory (see the largely scientific biography of Einstein, Subtle is the Lord, by Abraham Pais, a physicist who was a young colleague of Einstein's at the Institute for Advanced Study after 1947):

(Einstein writing here to Born)...I am quite convinced that someone will eventually come up with a theory whose objects, connected by laws, are not probabilities, but considered facts, as used to be taken for granted until quite recently [Einstein is talking about his objection to the statistical interpretation of quantum mechanics, for which Born finally received the Nobel Prize in 1954]...I am glad that your life and work are fruitful and satisfying. This helps one to bear the craziness of the people who determine the fate of homo sapiens (so-called) on the grand scale. Maybe it has never been any better, but one did not see it as clearly in all its wretchedness, nor were the consequences of the bungling quite as catastrophic as under present conditions.

I note that Abraham Pais, mentioned above, with Gell-Mann, in 1955 proposed that the heavy boson K⁰ (they referred to it then as θ⁰) and its antimatter partner anti-K⁰  can transform into one another, See Physical Review Volume 97, Number 5, March 1, 1955, Behavior of Neutral Particles under Charge Conjugation, or discussion in §4.11.1 of Perkins Introduction to High Energy Physics, or §11-5 Feynman Lectures on Physics, Volume III Quantum Mechanics.

Returning to comments regarding the status of civilization, more recently [c. 2017], Peter Woit (a mathematician and physicist at Columbia, talking with John Horgan at, said  

"I've always liked the Antonio Gramsci slogan [written by Gramsci, an Italian politician and philosopher, while he was in prison in 1927] 'pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will.' [However] As for the future of humanity, the collapse of any semblance of a healthy democracy in the US... with the advent and triumph of "post-truth" politics has for me (and I'm sure many others) made it much harder to be an optimist. The longer-term trend of increasing concentration of wealth and power in the hands of a minority seems unstoppable. The "disruptive innovation" of our new Silicon Valley overlords and brave new world of social media and omnipresent digital monitoring of our existence is starting to make some of the dystopias of science fiction look frighteningly plausible. I'm still waiting for the future of peace, love and understanding promised when I came of age during the late 1960s."

If you think you lack personal experience that opposes the idea that man is no more than animal, I will ask you to consider what some of the highest-level minds of the twentieth century said about mathematics and physics in that context. I would say though that every human does experience things inexplicable in terms of materialism, but most are too distracted to notice, or have been successfully indoctrinated (by the soul-hating academics in the educational institutions of the current age) to repress their memory of those types of occurrences. Grace, those gifts of inexplicable knowing in daily life which momentarily lift the veil on the supernatural ground underlying the material world which is the stage on which the great themes of our existences are performed, and sometimes include the explicit shaping of events at critical points, is sufficient to help us on our way in this existence---provided we cooperate with it---accordingly, we treat no event as intrinsically insignificant.  

Eugene Wigner (Nobel Prize in Physics 1963, for the discovery and application of fundamental mathematical symmetry principles contributing to the theory of the atomic nucleus and elementary particles in the 1930's, really the father of QFT, Quantum Field Theory, along with Pascual Jordan and P.A.M. Dirac; it should be note that Wigner told C. Yang, Nobel laureate 1957, that he had not dreamed the second quantized 𝜓 "could be used in real physics" until Enrico Fermi applied it in his 1934  𝛽-decay theory to "create an electron in the nucleus") wrote, in The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences (1960), that "the enormous usefulness of mathematics in the natural sciences is something bordering on the mysterious and...there is no rational explanation for that" and that the principal emphasis in mathematics is on the invention of concepts, which in the case of the more advanced concepts (e.g., the complex numbers which advanced the 19th century physics which had been built solely on real numbers) are not suggested by any entities directly encountered in the world (unlike Euclidean geometry, which was abstracted from relations visible in the world of experience, lines, circles, areas, etc.; for an easily understood discussion of the transition from geometry related to general experience to abstracted systems, see an expanded version of Einstein's January 27, 1921 Address to the Prussian Academy of Sciences, "Geometry and Experience" in "Sidelights on Relativity": EBook #7333 at 

Wigner went on to say that " is hard to believe that our reasoning power was brought, by Darwin's process of natural selection, to the perfection which it seems to possess" and " is not at all natural that 'laws of nature' exist, much less that man is able to discover them" (in a footnote Wigner adds that Erwin Schrödinger, Nobel Prize in Physics 1933 for developing wave mechanics, wrote that this miracle may be beyond human understanding).

I should acknowledge that those who adhere to the present world-view (see my discussion of mathematician Kurt Gödel's 1961 thinking on this Weltanschauungen in my October 13, 2021 post; at the age of 25 in 1931, Gödel completely changed the subject of logic with his incompleteness theorem, which put an end to David Hilbert's program to find a set of axioms sufficient for all mathematics, something I discussed in more detail in a 2019 post) of materialism would sneer at the suggestion of elevation of man as an animal on any ladder of evolution, much less claiming transcendant capabilities for man. For example, consider the following from the National Academies Press, In the Light of Evolution III: Two Centuries of Darwin, Chapter 14 Darwinian Revolution: Rethinking Its Meaning and Significance, by Michael Ruse:

"...debate over 'man's place in nature.' we would never dare to use that kind of language...At some level, the Darwinian revolution destroyed forever the old picture of humans as somehow miraculously special, symbolically and literally as touched by magic. Admittedly, to this day Christian fundamentalists (and those of other religions) refuse to accept this, but it is true [sic]. Even if you think that you can still be religious, a Christian even, you have to rethink dramatically, emotionally even more than intellectually, what it means to be a human....It is not just a question of who we are but also of how we should live our lives. Although it is hardly the only factor, Darwinian thinking is at the center of the move to modernism, in some broad sense. Are we still to be subject to the old ways (women inferior, gays persecuted, abortion banned) or are we to look forward to a truly post-Enlightenment world, with reason and evidence making the running in an entirely secular fashion?...Ultimately, natural selection is not a progress-producing mechanism. So we could say that the Darwinian revolution does prove the nonspecial status of humans, and finally today people recognize the fact [sic]. However, this may not be the entire truth. A case can be made for saying that still today the popular perception is of progress leading to humans." 

We must note that Darwin would not have agreed with Ruse's interpretation of man's place (as Ruse seems to admit later, but quickly dismisses), Darwin writing in Chapter XXI of his The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex (1871 first published, 1874 second edition):

"We have seen that man incessantly presents individual differences in all parts of his body and in his mental faculties. These differences or variations seem to be induced by the same general causes, and to obey the same laws as with the lower animals. In both cases similar laws of inheritance prevail. Man occasionally subjected to a severe struggle for existence, and natural selection will have effected whatever lies within its scope. A succession of strongly-marked variations of a similar nature is by no means requisite; slight fluctuating differences in the individual suffice for the work of natural selection; not that we have any reason to suppose that in the same species, all parts of the organisation tend to vary to the same degree.

The high standard of our intellectual powers and moral disposition is the greatest difficulty which presents itself, after we have been driven to this conclusion on the origin of man. But every one who admits the principle of evolution, must see that the mental powers of the higher animals, which are the same in kind with those of man, though so different in degree, are capable of advancement. Thus the interval between the mental powers of one of the higher apes and of a fish, or between those of an ant and scale-insect, is immense; yet their development does not offer any special difficulty; for with our domesticated animals, the mental faculties are certainly variable, and the variations are inherited. No one doubts that they are of the utmost importance to animals in a state of nature. Therefore the conditions are favourable for their development through natural selection. The same conclusion may be extended to man; the intellect must have been all-important to him, even at a very remote period, as enabling him to invent and use language, to make weapons, tools, traps, etc., whereby with the aid of his social habits, he long ago became the most dominant of all living creatures.

A great stride in the development of the intellect will have followed, as soon as the half-art and half-instinct of language came into use; for the continued use of language will have reacted on the brain and produced an inherited effect; and this again will have reacted on the improvement of language. As Mr. Chauncey Wright (1. ‘On the Limits of Natural Selection,’ in the ‘North American Review,’ Oct. 1870, p. 295.) has well remarked, the largeness of the brain in man relatively to his body, compared with the lower animals, may be attributed in chief part to the early use of some simple form of language,—that wonderful engine which affixes signs to all sorts of objects and qualities, and excites trains of thought which would never arise from the mere impression of the senses, or if they did arise could not be followed out. The higher intellectual powers of man, such as those of ratiocination, abstraction, self-consciousness, etc., probably follow from the continued improvement and exercise of the other mental faculties." 

[end Darwin quote] It appears to me that Consciousness (a superhuman version, God if you will; as I have hinted, my own life's experience persuades me that this God is not inactive in the lives of individuals) brought forth the Universe and that the physics (the natural laws and constants) of this universe leads inevitably to the emergence and progressive development of conscious beings. It is a tautology that any universe that is observed by conscious beings must necessarily be governed by laws of physics that permit the evolution of such observers, but I do not intend this in the anthropic principle sense where many random universes are postulated and we of course find ourselves in one of those few that supports our existence.     

We can literally see back in time (through, for example, light that was emitted a few hundred thousand years after the Big Bang) well enough to know that the Universe had a beginning. That beginning was the Big Bang around 13.75 Gyr, i.e., 13.75 billion years ago, quoting a 2011 cosmology review by Cervantes-Cota and Smoot, downloadable at, a repository for scientific papers in various fields, so pronounced "archive", and the Greek letter Χ, is pronounced with a hard k sound. It seems reasonable to expect that this beginning had a cause, a cause necessarily external to it, that is, not governed by physical law (because there was no physical law yet).   

To suggest that instead of a single Big Bang event,  there is merely an evergrowing nucleation of new universes in a multiverse froth (eternal inflation and Coleman de Luccia bubble nucleation) is not a scientific proposition, but merely a transparent attempt to avoid the implications of a beginning and to salvage the bizarrely impotent string theory. 

Without digressing too much, Peter Woit (degrees in physics from Harvard and Princeton and has taught mathematics at Columbia since 1989) says that string theorists don't actually have a theory, but rather an approximation to an unknown theory proposed to be valid within certain limits and a list of properties they would expect the unknown theory to possess. Accordingly, there is no way to tell if you have a solution to string theory (if you are on "dry land") or a non-solution to string theory (aptly, if ironically, termed "Swampland" by a string theorist). The Large Hadron Collider (which discovered the Higgs boson) found no evidence of extra dimensions or supersymmetry that would have been possibly consistent with string theory, i.e., string theory is unable to explain any known phenomena. Over the years, string theorists began to claim that their huge collection of unverifiable solutions to an unverifiable theory implied that there is a "Landscape" of bubble or local "pocket universes" (within a Multiverse), each conforming to one of these otherwise unseen string theory solutions for the vacuum (this also "explains" why the QFT estimate for the vacuum energy equivalent of the cosmological constant that characterizes the present accelerating expansion of our universe is 120 orders of magnitude too large, i.e., "we are just in an unusual pocket" of the Multiverse).     

But if there are non-material aspects of human consciousness, how does this soul get into a body? I don't know that it is necessary to have souls inserted into human zygotes (a zygote is the initial cell formed by the union of two gametes, the egg and sperm of mother and father respectively), as appears to be the Catholic position set out by John Paul II (1997) in "Pope’s message on evolution", The Quarterly Review of Biology, Vol. 72, No. 4 (Dec., 1997), pp. 381-383:

" is called to enter into a relationship...with God...which will find its complete fulfillment beyond time, in eternity...Pius XII stressed this essential point: if the human body takes its origin from pre-existent living matter, the spiritual soul is immediately created by God..Consequently, theories of evolution which...consider the mind as emerging from the forces of living matter, or as a mere epiphenomenon of this matter, are incompatible with the truth about man....With man, then, we find ourselves in the presence of an ontological difference, an ontological leap, one could say..."

John Donne described beautifully his interpretation of human procreation in this context, in his poem, The Ecstasy:                                             

...Our souls (which to advance their state

Were gone out) hung 'twixt her and me.

...Our bodies why do we forbear?

They'are ours, though they'are not we; we are

The intelligences, they the spheres.

So soul into the soul may flow,                                                                            

Though it to body first repair.

As our blood labors to beget

Spirits, as like souls as it can,

Because such fingers need to knit

That subtle knot which makes us man,

So must pure lovers' souls descend

We have some suggestion that beings other than ourselves have somehow transcended the barrier between the primitive and the advanced intelligence, childhood's end as it were (alluding to the title of one of the science fiction novels of Arthur C. Clarke that I read in my own childhood). The government has recently begun to acknowledge inexplicable aerial phenomena (aka UFOs) observed by the military, which now include video. It would be disappointing if those sightings represented merely advanced technology, but with the usual beast still at the wheel, as it were. The clever 2011 Italian science fiction film, Arrival of Wang, explored that possibility.

Returning to more terrestrial matters, I was pleased to hear that Christopher David Steele (the retired British intelligence officer who became infamous for having warned US agencies in 2016 that Trump appeared to have worrisome connections with Putin) has recently opined that Putin appears ill (as did I in a previous blog) and hopefully will not be around for many more months. 
I still am shaken from considering my own problems whenever I consider the terrible time the Ukrainians are having, the death and destruction at the hands of the clumsy but persistent Russian war machine. God bless those courageous people and give them  glory ("Slava Ukraini") in the end. As for Lavrov's recent comment to a UK interviewer that Russia "is not squeaky clean, but unashamed of who we are," the words from the Second Epistle of Peter, 2:12 seem apt, "But these, as natural brute beasts, [are] made to be taken and destroyed").

Perhaps the African peoples who are being starved because of the Russian blockade of Ukrainian grain and other foodstuffs should consider joining the fight in Ukraine. The United Nations is non-functional because of the presence of totalitarian regimes on the Security Council. The United Nations should be shut down and replaced by a frank world organization of peoples and countries dedicated to fight the agression of Russia and China or any other country or group that makes war on societies that are simply trying to live in peace. NATO is similarly polluted by Turkey, it seems to me.

The announcement recently that Ukraine would be accelerated on its EU (European Union) membership application was really pathetic. Analogously, if I am in a fight to the death with multiple attackers, and onlookers shout that I should not worry because they will soon give me a discount at the local restaurants, I would hardly consider this to be helpful or any indication of courage on the part of the inactive crowd.

I contrast the Ukrainian struggle with the complaints of Americans, who apparently would just as soon see the Republic destroyed and have a boot in their face, blaming President Biden for the inflation. Whether corporate mega-parasite or simply small businessman (or oil barons foreign or domestic), most humans cannot restrain their urge to try and grab any visible increase in low and middle income of their fellows by increasing the prices of their goods and services. The talk of supply problems, pandemic-related issues, Ukrainian war effects, etc. is simply a smoke-screen. If the President wants to put a stop to this, he should immediately mandate a price freeze on all goods and services.

While I am on the subject of watching America teeter on the edge of collapse, what is going on in the mind of US Attorney General Merrick Garland? What does he think will be the result of not prosecuting a former president who attempted to overthrow the government, by any number of illegal means which have been documented in detail at the recent congressional hearings? Many of the Capitol policemen, who on January 6, 2021 earned the right to speak if I have not, stated that it made no sense to prosecute the insurrectionists and not their leader. 

I feel like I am on the set for the Idiocracy (or am in a madhouse) every time I see more documentation of the criminal activity by Trump and hear the commentators anxiously advise that "it is hard to prove what was in his mind." Really? So a mobster who talks about "delivering a special gift" prior to an informant being blown to bits cannot be prosecuted because he didn't state clearly what he was doing? Or a psychopath cannot be prosecuted for butchering a string of victims because "he didn't believe what he was doing was wrong." Rubber-room time, to paraphrase Mike Pence's remark about Trump's representatives urging him to discard the results of the 2020 presidential election. 

Though I admire Pence for doing the right thing, he was a bit naive to opine that "violence never wins, freedom wins." Really? When has good ever triumphed over an attacker willing and able to use lethal force without defense in kind (non-violent movements presuppose an opposition with some constraint)? Did America come into being without revolution and war? Did the world escape Nazi domination in WWII by conducting peaceful protests? I doubt the Ukrainians are certain freedom will win, though they quite clearly are saying, as did our Patrick Henry in 1775, "give us liberty, or give us death." Without Capital police, Secret Service and eventually National Guard, freedom might have taken quite a beating, at minimum, on January 6, 2021, whatever the resolve of the Vice President.   

"Everybody Wants to Rule the World" was a song by English pop rock band Tears for Fears released in 1985. I can still hear it in my head, though it now has an annoying ring it to it, this being the age of the elevation of the crowd, the rejection of distinction and talent, the death throes of democracy. True it was said that when the blind lead the blind, they will all end up in the ditch (Gospel of Matthew, KJV, 15:14). The man (or Man) who said that was killed at the urging of a crowd, see, e.g., Gospel of Matthew, KJV, 27:1 - 27:26.

How many American soldiers have to die before the powers that be stop forcing them into that death-trap Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey? I can be motivated to fight against evil without concern for personal survival (or at least preferring death to dishonor), but I would have difficulty getting into an airplane that can't decide if it is a helicopter or an airplane, and falls out of the sky frequently. It takes a different kind of man to knowingly adhere to discipline when it is clear that the mission will needlessly waste lives. I feel that way about D-Day also, but Eisenhower was one smart, tough man, so I can only pray he knew what he was doing. I watched the movie Saving Private Ryan again the other day, and was appalled at the slaughter incurred by a beach assault on heavily fortified positions (I believe veterans of D-Day found that movie very accurate in its portrayal of the conditions). 

One must hope that the extent of the Uvalde, Texas massacre May 26, 2022 was related to following flawed orders rather than a failure of courage of all the officers on the scene. There is a continuing stream of lies and misinformation (presumably being fed to the media piecemeal to lessen the impact) to this day regarding what is a clear matter. The heavily armed police milled around outside for an hour while clearly audible gunfire representing executions of students continued inside and trapped students continued to call 911 begging for help. This situation appears as puzzling to law enforcement experts elsewhere as it does to me. Some of the the officers handcuffed parents who tried to go in and fight for their children's lives. Welcome to 21st century USA. When the people select leaders for anything other than intelligence and honor, this is the kind of thing you can expect to see more and more frequently. 

As an aside, I note that I don't quite understand Jon Stewart's statement recently when he was awarded the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor at the Kennedy Center, "We need leaders who lead differently." I mean, it is not the method that is the problem so much as the character of the individual wielding power. The Founding Fathers and the Framers of the Constitution did everything they could to constrain power inherent in government, but could only pray that the people would not elect someone without intelligence or honor.

But I try to focus my attention on academic pursuits most of the time (and avoid having my nose rubbed in the mess we are in as a species). I have been studying the statistics of contingency tables and logistic regression in the context of epidemiology since February 2022. I became interested in this area incidentally to looking at indices for analysis of co-occurrence and similarity. That interest was prompted by my initial conflating of the context of Simpson's Paradox with the Simpson association metric. Similarity indices come up for example, in the analysis of co-occurrence of species in particular regions in ecology. That led me naturally to examine more closely the mathematics underlying the presentation and analysis of contingency tables.                                    

Circling back to Simpson's Paradox in my study, I took hold  (like a dog with a bone, well, like an old, toothless dog with a bone, more accurately), of the 1972-1974 Whickham survey data, Tunbridge et al 1977, a one-in-six survey of the electoral roll in Whickham, a mixed urban and rural district near Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, conducted in 1972-1974 to study heart disease and thyroid disease. Specifically, I read the  Appleton, French and Vanderpump 1996, "Ignoring a covariate: an example of Simpson's paradox", American Statistician, 50(4):340-341 article. In this twenty year followup, a subset of the original survey sample, i.e., women who were classified as current smokers or as never having smoked, were determined to be alive or dead and statistical analysis soon revealed an association reversal (classic manifestation of Simpson's Paradox). That is, the 1996 Whickham subset in aggregate appeared to show less mortality among smokers, yet analysis of the individual age groups showed increased mortality among the smokers, as one might reasonably expect. 

I replicated the result (arrived at the same result using different code, but the same data) quoted by Appleton et al 1996. My Mantel-Haenszel test on the first six two-by-two age-band tables (e.g., 18-24, 25-34, 35-44, 45-54, 55-64, and 65-74 year-old groups pulled from a copy of the Whickham data, 1314 records consisting of a row number, e.g.,"1314", alive/dead status at twenty years post-survey, e.g.,"Alive", smoking status Yes/No, e.g.,"Yes", and 1974 age of respondent at initial survey, e.g., 41 meaning 41 years old) produced a common odds ratio of 1.522873 (smokers have 1.53 better odds of being dead at twenty-year followup across the six partial tables taken overall), χ-squared of 5.5449 on 1 degree of freedom, p-value= 0.01853, 95% confidence interval (1.072226, 2.162923), meaning 95 percent of the time we would expect samples from this population to yield increased mortality for smokers in the range 1.07 to 2.16 times greater than for non-smokers.  Compare Appleton et al 1996: "Woolf's test applied to the first six two-by-two tables gives an overall odds ratio of 1.53 with 95% confidence limits of 1.08 and 2.16." 

We note that in 1996 Appleton et al meant that they used the common odds ratio equations of what is now called the Woolf Test on Homogeneity of Odds Ratios (no 3-Way association) to obtain the common odds ratio. Nowadays, Woolf Test is used (along with the Breslow-Day test) to indicate whether odds ratios are about the same among the included partial tables (because the Mantel-Haenszel test assumes that is true and might be misleading otherwise). Before doing the Mantel-Haenszel calculation of the common odds ratio above, we therefore conducted a Woolf Test and could not reject the null hypothesis with p-value = 0.9848 (high p-value suggests not uncommon result). That is, our Woolf Test on the six age-band tables from the Whickham data suggested that we should not reject the null hypothesis that the partial age-band tables had more or less the same (homogeneous) odds ratios. Pardon the apparently convoluted reasoning ("yes, we have no bananas," as it were), but it is more correct to say that we don't have enough evidence to reject the hypothesis that the age-bands have about the same odds ratios, than that it is true. So the implicit alternative hypothesis, i.e., that the age-band tables do have significantly different odds ratios (whatever those might be) of mortality for smokers is not supported.

This being so, we are justified in using the Mantel-Haenszel test, which returned a common odds ratio of about 1.53 for the age-band tables with a p-value of 0.01853, i.e., would expect to see this odds ratio by chance only about 2% of the time. We therefore reject the null hypothesis of this test, which was that the common odds ratio of the age-band tables was no different than one. In the Whickham context, odds of simply one or 1:1 would mean smokers have no greater or lesser odds than non-smokers to die.

However, as we said earlier, if you simply add all the ages together and compare the proportion of smokers who died compared to those who lived, the odds of dying for smokers compared to non-smokers in the study is only 0.68 (as also noted by Appleton et al 1996):

> Whickham_2x2


smoker Alive Dead                                                            

   No    502  230

   Yes   443  139                                                                                                                                

> OddsRatio(Whickham_2x2)

[1] 0.6848366

> OddsRatio(Whickham_2x2, conf.level=0.95)                                                                                                                                                      

odds ratio 

 0.6848366  0.5353300  0.8760973 

I guess I should explain that by odds of a smoker being dead, I mean (refer to the numbers in the Whickham_2x2 table above) the number of smokers dead, 139, divided by the number of smokers alive, 443, or 0.3137698. The odds of non-smokers dead to alive is similarly, 230/502 or 0.4581673. The odds ratio is then the death/alive odds for smokers divided by the death/alive odds for non-smokers, 0.3137698/0.4581673  =  0.6848367. 

On the other hand, if we obtain the odds ratio for each of the separate tables using again the R package DescTools function OddsRatio we see the following individual odds ratios for each age band:

> apply(WhickamBound1rst6, 3, OddsRatio)

    A1824     A2534     A3544     A4554     A5564     A6574 

2.6792453 0.9344262 1.5639098 1.4951456 1.6051829 1.4323432 

Why this contradiction between the odds ratios from the total table (0.6848366 ) vs the sub-tables by age group (2.6792453, 0.9344262, 1.5639098 ...)? The Whickham data was the outcome of a so-called experiment of nature, i.e., an experiment where the epidemiologist merely observed the outcome (whether the survey subjects were dead or alive at 20 year followup) passively and then cross-classified the subjects into smoking and non-smoking groups. Because the age of subjects varied, if age influences the effect of smoking on mortality (which it does), then the outcome is said to be confounded by the effect of age mixing with the effect of smoking. 

Since this is not a controlled experiment, the ages of the subjects are not fixed, however, it is possible to stratify the data on the subjects by age as well as smoking status. In that manner the experiment is transformed more or less into a series of smaller experiments within which age is controlled. In other words, the data can be partitioned into tables of smoker and non-smokers at each age band and a comparison of the dead/alive ratio within each age-band made (the statistical comparison is then of odds of death conditional upon age). We gave you the odds ratios of those individual age-stratified tables above for the 18-24, 25-34, 35-44, 45-54, 55-64, and 65-74 year-old groups above.

If the assumption can be made that these comparisons are estimating the same factor within each age stratum (which was suggested by our Woolf Test result above finding no significant heterogeneity in the odds ratios of the age-band strata), i.e., the mortality odds ratio can be attributed to smoking status within each age-band, then methods like the Mantel-Haenszel test can be applied to combine the odds ratios from the separate age-band tables (as we did above) and obtain a useful estimate of the overall mortality odds ratio.

We used some plotting software (see A Fourfold Display for 2 by 2 by k Tables, Michael Friendly, Psychology Department, York University, January 24, 1995,Report Number: 217) now included in the R statistical program, R: A Language and Environment for Statistical Computing, (that we were using above, the OddsRatio function being part of the DescTools: Tools for Descriptive Statistics package available for R) to graphically display the odds ratio in aggregate:

In that figure above, you see the non-smokers displayed in the top row (the top half of the circle, label above "smoker: No"). The smokers are displayed in the bottom row (the bottom half circle, label "smoker: Yes"). The left half of both rows are the number of subjects still alive at 20 years, labeled on the left "outcome: Alive." So you see there are 502 non-smokers alive and 443 smokers alive, as we showed earlier in our aggregate 2 x 2 table (2 x 2 meaning there are two rows and two columns in the table). On the right, labeled "outcome: Dead", are shown the quadrants of the non-smoker (top row) and smoker (bottom row) subjects who are dead at twenty year followup. The relative size of the quadrants indicates the relative magnitude of the odds for that row. So you see the non-smokers, with 230 dead, have a dark blue quadrant that is larger than the 502 alive non-smoker quadrant in light blue next to it, while the smoker live quadrant, with 443 subjects in lower left dark blue, is larger than the smoker dead quadrant next to it with 139 dead smokers. This shows us graphically that the odds of non-smokers being dead is greater than the odds of smokers being dead, i.e., inverting that statement, the odds ratio of smokers mortality to non-smokers mortality is less than one, OR =  0.6848366, as we discussed above.

The fourfold plot of each of the six age-band tables shows the opposite relationship, (these plots illustrate graphically the individual table odds ratios we gave earlier for each of the age-bands):

Now we see, for example, that the 18-24 year-old group has a larger odds ratio of non-smokers alive vs smokers. The top left quadrant in the Strata: A1824 figure is large blue, alive non-smoker count 71, and its dead count of 1, to right of that quadrant, is light blue smaller. The bottom right quadrant of Strata: A1824, the dead smokers with count 2, is large blue compared with its live smoker light blue quadrant just to left with count 53. This relationship is repeated in all six of the figures in this graphic, except for the Strata: A2534 figure, which shows not much of a difference in the mortality odds for smoker vs non-smoker for this 25-34 year-old subject group (all the quadrants are about the same size in this particular group).

Appleton et al 1996 suggested that calculating a standardized mortality ratio or SMR for smokers and non-smokers would be another way to resolve the age confounding problem. The SMR is the ratio of observed to expected deaths in a population. 

In our context we are not trying to obtain an absolutely comparable SMR of smokers and non-smokers (one for each), but rather using indirect standardization to obtain a standard population rate (per age strata) by which the expected mortality rate of smokers and non-smokers can be calculated and their ratio taken as a proxy fox a common odds ratio as calculated by Mantel-Haenszel test or other means. If we wanted instead to have an idea of how the SMR of smokers and non-smokers compared to the general population mortality, because the length of time until followup is significant (twenty years), we would have to take account of the increasing age of the subjects during that time and promote the subject through the relevant age bands of standard mortality during the length of the followup.                                                                                                                                                         

Given that we will use identical standard mortality rates (per age group), for both smokers and non-smokers, and given that we establish that the observed odds ratios within each Whickham group, smokers and non-smokers separately, by age band or strata, are homogeneous (by Woolf Test), we will be justified in comparing the resulting SMR of smokers to the SMR of non-smokers, i.e., creating a common odds ratio that could be compared to the Mantel-Haenszel 1.53 result earlier. 

The technical requirements for using a ratio of two SMRs as an alternative estimate of the common odds ratio is discussed in Section 15.8 of Statistical Models in Epidemiology by David Clayton and Michael Hills (a 1994 textbook intended for use in a graduate course on the statstical basis of epidemiology). We believe we have by design satisfied these technical requirements (as we said above, we use identical standard rates for both groups and establish that the groups are internally homogenous by age-band regarding the effect of smoking on mortality), but note that the authors advise this practice should usually be avoided (because both sets of age-specific rates must be proportional to the reference rates, as we discussed).

We calculate standard annual mortality rates per 5-year age bands (because that was convenient given the UK data available) using population estimates and numbers of deaths from the Historic Mortality Data Files database published by the Office for National Statistics (United Kingdom). Section 6.5 of Statistical Models in Epidemiology by David Clayton and Michael Hills describes what we are doing here, i.e., "For example, the all-cause mortality rate for the age band 50-54 during 1983 is estimated by D/Y where D is the number of deaths during 1983 for which the subject's age at death was in the range 50-54, and Y is the person-time lived during 1983 by that part of the population whose ages were in the range 50-54 during 1983." For our purposes, Y is simply the population of females in the year of interest, in the particular age-band under consideration, which is available in the UK POPLNS.csv data file (see below).                                                                                          

We multiply the calculated UK annual standard mortality rates by 20 in our application since our Whickham study extends over 20 years. From that 20-year rate we calculate the number of deaths we should expect to observe given the number of subjects in the Whickham study. We then take the ratio of the observed number of Whickham deaths to our expected number of deaths to obtain an SMR for smokers and an SMR for non-smokers. We then compare the ratio of the two SMRs to our Mantel-Haenszel common adds ratio of 1.53.                                                                                                                                            

We obtained the Historic Mortality Data Files database published by the Office for National Statistics (United Kingdom) in 1997 under the title "Twentieth Century Mortality Files", i.e., the RG69-2 NDAD or CRDA/20/DS/2 dataset. We secured this copy at [UK National Archives], or in particular, [RG 69/2 1901-1995 Historic Mortality: 1901-1995 dataset].

RG69-2 consists of three types of tables: a Population table (POPLNS) covering the period 1901-1995; nine Historic Deaths tables (ICD1DTHS-1CD9DTHS) corresponding to the different revisions of the ICD which were implemented in England and Wales in 1911-1995; and nine ICD dictionary tables (ICD1DESC-1CD9DESC), which explain the codes used for causes of death in the Historic Deaths tables. We aggregated the deaths for the year we experimented with (1974 ), so were not interested in the ICD cause of death.

As we described above in general terms, the number of United Kingdom deaths from all causes (we aggregated the figures for different ICD causes of death) in 1974 for each 5-year age group, in data file ICD8DTHS, is then divided by the United Kingdom population total in 1974 (in data file POPLNS) for each of those 5-year age groups to obtain a standard mortality rate from all causes for each age-band.

We accomplished the above operations using a combination of Linux shell utilities, open source spreadsheet software and the R statistical package (we did not spend valuable time to be elegant about it). Once we had the rates, we could multiply the subject numbers in each age group in the Whickham data to obtain the expected number of deaths at 20 years in the smoker and non-smoker groups (again, using whatever software and techniques got the job done with minimum design time, primarily spreadsheet and R at this point). Taking the ratio of expected to observed in each we obtained the SMR for each and then compared the two SMRs. We calculated the SMRs manually in a spreadsheet and then separately using an R statistical package for epidemiology, epitools, specifically the epitools::ageadjust.indirect() function, obtaining identical results. 

We show you some of the R code to give you an idea what the numbers and code looked like (I plan to write up this study soon in formally typeset pdf so can write mathematics properly and accompany that file with all the data and code; I will add a link here to whatever repository I utilize, probably GitHub). First the Whickham age-bands subset we used here, non-smokers first (note that for convenience we begin at age 20 in this analysis, vs 18 in the Mantel-Haenszel analysis earlier; it does not make much difference in the result). By "case" we mean, "Dead at 20 year followup." By "population" we mean, "the number of Whickham subjects in this group initially surveyed in 1974:

> Whick_nosmoke_case_count


20-24     0

25-29     2

30-34     2                                                                                                                                       

35-39     4

40-44     3

45-49     7

50-54     5

55-59    20

60-64    21

65-69    51

70-74    50

> Whick_nosmoke_pop_by_age

      No smoker subjects

20-24                 53

25-29                 77

30-34                 79

35-39                 61

40-44                 50

45-49                 38

50-54                 40

55-59                 61

60-64                 61

65-69                 68

70-74                 61

> str(Whick_nosmoke_pop_by_age)

 num [1:11, 1] 53 77 79 61 50 38 40 61 61 68 ...

 - attr(*, "dimnames")=List of 2

  ..$ : chr [1:11] "20-24" "25-29" "30-34" "35-39" ...

  ..$ : chr "No smoker subjects"

> sum(Whick_nosmoke_pop_by_age)

[1] 649

Next we create similar data structures (in R) for the smokers:

> Whick_smoke_case_count <- c(2,1,2,3,7,15,13,21,31,13,18)

> Whick_smoke_case_count <-

+ matrix(Whick_smoke_case_count, 11, dimnames = list(c("20-24", "25-29", "30-34", "35-39", "40-44",

+ "45-49", "50-54","55-59","60-64","65-69","70-74"), c("Cases")))

> Whick_smoke_pop_by_age <- c(39,57,68,56,49,69,62,50,66,16,21)

> Whick_smoke_pop_by_age <- matrix(Whick_smoke_pop_by_age, 11, dimnames = list(c(

+ "20-24", "25-29", "30-34", "35-39", "40-44", "45-49",

+ "50-54","55-59","60-64","65-69","70-74"), c("smoker subjects")))

We won't try to show you the spreadsheet where we calculated the UK rates. Nor will we set out the various maneuvers we used to "wrangle" the large text file UK data to get just the age-bands and sex and aggregate death counts for 1974 which went into the spreadsheet. Hadley Whickham and Garrett Grolemund suggested the term "wrangling" for the usual fight of a data analyst to put the raw data into convenient form. Hadley's surname is an instance of synchronicity, i.e., that he is named for our survey data is a coincidence, as far as I know. Here are the standard mortality rates that we calculated, entered into R:

> UK_1974_fem_mort_rate  <- c(0.000407317506364, 0.000449187985443, 0.000643384822028,

+ 0.001124680488498, 0.00193578375286, 0.003400379249628, 0.005290760543073,

+ 0.0081181522061, 0.012307129555733, 0.019872025307355, 0.033956337906636)

And we added age-band labels to those numbers:

> UK_1974_fem_mort_rate <- matrix(UK_1974_fem_mort_rate, 11, dimnames = 

+ list(c("20-24", "25-29", "30-34", "35-39", "40-44", "45-49",

+ "50-54","55-59","60-64","65-69","70-74"),

+ c("UK 1974 fem mort rate")))

Then we get the SMR for non-smokers using that data:

> SMR_WhickNoSmokers_1974indirSt <- ageadjust.indirect( count = Whick_nosmoke_case_count, pop =

+ Whick_nosmoke_pop_by_age,

+ stdrate = UK_1974_fem_mort_rate * 20, stdcount = NULL, stdpop = NULL, conf.level = 0.95)

> SMR_WhickNoSmokers_1974indirSt$sir

  observed        exp        sir        lci        uci                                                                                              

165.000000 105.636375   1.561962   1.340925   1.819434 

The epitools::ageadjust.indirec return value $sir is Standardized Incidence Ratio and is the SMR or standardized mortality rate when the outcome of interest is a mortality rate. If you are interested in reading more about the subject, Boston University School of Public Health, has an excellent treatment, EP713_StandardizedRates. Notice that the NoSmokers sir value returned is observed deaths among non-smokers (165.0000) divided by exp (expected deaths among non-smokers using our UK standardized mortality rates) (105.636375), or non-smokers SMR =1.561962.

And the SMR for smokers using that data:                                                                                                 

> SMR_WhickSmokers_1974indirSt <- ageadjust.indirect( count = Whick_smoke_case_count, pop =

+ Whick_smoke_pop_by_age, stdrate = UK_1974_fem_mort_rate * 20, stdcount = NULL, stdpop = NULL, conf.level

+ = 0.95)

> SMR_WhickSmokers_1974indirSt$sir

  observed        exp        sir        lci        uci 

126.000000  61.098835   2.062232   1.731835   2.455662                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Notice that the Smokers sir (SMR, standardized mortality rate) is again observed deaths (126.00000) divided by exp (expected deaths) ( 61.098835) or SMR smokers = 2.0622).  Then we look at the ratio of the two SMR's:                                                                                                                                                     

> SMR_WhickSmokers_1974indirSt$sir[3] / SMR_WhickNoSmokers_1974indirSt$sir[3]




"sir" is the standardized index ratio, SMR in our context. So we just divided  2.062232 (sir from smokers above) by 1.561962 (sir from non-smokers above) to obtain an equivalent common odds ratio of  1.3202834, the odds of mortality for smokers vs non-smokers common across the "20-24", "25-29", "30-34", "35-39", "40-44", "45-49", "50-54","55-59","60-64","65-69","70-74" age-band tables. That compares to the common odds ratio of 1.522873 (roughly 1.53) obtained using Mantel-Haenszel test on about the same data, but partioned into only six tables, spanning ages 18 - 74 (recall we were using this partitioning and range in order to follow the result published by 1996 Appleton et al) rather than 20 - 74. We did check the Mantel-Haenszel result on the 11 table partition over 20 -74 also and obtained very little difference, common odds ratio 1.531171. So the SMR ratio of 1.32 proxy for common odds ratio is 16% lower than the Mantel-Haenszel odds ratio 1.53, not too much difference. 

We decided to see what a logistic regression on the 20 -74 Whickham data (flat, i.e., not partitioned into tables, but otherwise the same data used above) would tell us (using the 20-74 age range so could compare more closely to our SMR ratio work). Some of you may wonder why we included an explicit continuous variable for square of the age variable rather than simply specifify that in the R formula, e.g., I(age^2): This was merely convenient during model testing with various utilities. Some of the R code:        

# logistic fit on 20 - 74 Whickham data

> Whickham2074_glm_01b <- glm(outcome ~ age + ageSqrd + smoker, family = binomial, data =

+ d.Whickham2074w10cols)

We obtained:


              Estimate Std. Error z value Pr(>|z|)    

(Intercept) -4.7591905  1.2492421  -3.810 0.000139 ***

age          0.0110796  0.0509544   0.217 0.827864    

ageSqrd      0.0010282  0.0005002   2.056 0.039820 *  

smokerYes    0.3178833  0.1738435   1.829 0.067466 .  


Signif. codes:  0 ‘***’ 0.001 ‘**’ 0.01 ‘*’ 0.05 ‘.’ 0.1 ‘ ’ 1

The antilog of the regression coefficient smokerYes = 0.3178833:

> exp(0.3178833)

[1] 1.374216

That tells us that the logistic fit on the 20 - 74 year-old Whickham data can be charactized by a common odds ratio of 1.37 (mortality odds for smokers vs non-smokers), consistent with our SMR ratio calculation (almost identical) and Mantel-Haenszel results above (within 16%). A plot of that regression fit for smokers vs non-smokers shows the increasing effect of age combined with smoking status on the probability of being dead at twenty years for smokers vs non-smokers:

The vertical axis in the Logistic regression graph is the probability ("Pr(Dead)") of being dead. This was a logistic fit so the (natural) logarithm of the odds (probabilty dead / 1 - probability dead) is a linear function of the X variables (and is often called the log odds). This is also referred to as the logit transformation of the probability of success (success here is "Dead" since that is our target interest, albeit not the type of success one would normally wish for), probability Pr(Dead):                                                                                                                   

log{ probability(Dead) / [ 1 - probability(Dead) ] } = glm(outcome ~ age + ageSqrd + smoker)

where the equation above becomes:

log{ probability(Dead) / [ 1 - probability(Dead) ] } = beta_0 + beta_1 X_1 + beta_2 X_1^2 + beta_3 X_3

where the beta's and X's are, from our glm result from R earlier above:

beta_0 is coefficient (Intercept)=  -4.7591905

beta_1 is coefficient for age (age is X_1) =  0.0110796

beta_2 is coefficient for age^2 (age squared is X_1 * X_1) =  0.0010282

beta_3 is coefficient for smokerYes =  0.3178833

and the equation underlying the graphed lines is then:

log{ probability(Dead) / [ 1 - probability(Dead) ] } = -4.7591905+0.0110796(age)+0.0010282(age*age)+0.3178833(smokerYes=1/0)  

In other words, the graph line for the smokers in the graph uses the beta_3 coefficient =  0.3178833 in the equation (since it is multiplied by "1" for smoking status equal to "Yes") and the graph line for non-smokers in the graph does not use beta_3 coefficient =  0.3178833 (because it is multiplied by "0" for nonsmoker and so is zeroed out).                              

In making the graph, the R software calculated numbers for the rhs of the logit equation above, separately for smokers (with the beta_3 coefficient present) and non-smokers ( beta_3 coefficient not included) for ages from 20 to 74 (the x-axis of the graph). It then obtained the probability of death from those numbers by exp(logit) / [1+ exp(logit)] (this is obtained by some simple algebra using the above equation). In exp(logit) here, we mean "substitute logit the set of numerical values obtained evaluating the rhs (right hand side) of the equation above for each x-axis age."

So what do all those numbers tells us about the common odds ratio of dying for smokers vs nonsmokers for the women in the Whickham study?

Recall our Mantel-Haenszel test on the first six two-by-two age-band tables (e.g., 18-24,

25-34, 35-44, 45-54, 55-64, and 65-74 year-old groups ) common odds ratio 1.522873, 95% confidence interval (1.072226, 2.162923).                                                                                                            

The logistic fit on ages 20 - 74 Whickham data gave us an equivalent common odds ratio of 1.374216 with 95% confidence interval (0.9794831, 1.9376965). We obtained the confidence interval using the model object returned by glm() earlier, processing it with R function confint(), which uses a profile likelihood method to calculate those limits when it recognizes a glm object (we also calculated the limits manually using the normality assumption and obtained similar limits 0.9774091 to 1.932117).

The fact that those confidence intervals include "1" approximately means the common odds ratios results may not be significant (if your odds are 1:1 for mortality smoking vs non-smoking, there is no difference in mortality). However, we find the graph of the logistic regression fit for probability of death for smokers vs non-smokers fairly convincing that there is a reliable increase in the probability of being dead at twenty-year followup for smokers vs non-smokers, controlling for the confounding factor of age (which should come as no surprise, there having been numerous well-designed studies done on the subject of the health risk of smoking).