Category: Off Topic

Vietnam Encore

In September a Ken Burns 10-parter is going to make the US role in Vietnam an “issue” again for a little while. Pundits and politicians will  reflect, meaninglessly, “We never really had a national conversation about Vietnam.” Pot partisans will  repeat, single-mindedly, “If anybody deserves to use cannabis for PTSD, it’s Vietnam vets.” Interviewers will say to vets, obsequiously, “Thank you for your service.”  How come they don’t say that when they interview nurses?  Anyway, here’s some background on what that war was about. —FG 1. From Typee by Herman Melville It was in the summer of 1842 that we...

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Martin Gardner

by Fred Gardner When I worked at Scientific American in the 1960s, mail addressed to Martin Gardner (no relation) often wound up on my desk. The author of the widely read “Mathematical Games” column lived in Hastings-on-Hudson and never came into the office, which was in midtown Manhattan. On a few occasions I brought him his mail. He worked in the attic, which was lined with olive drab file cabinets containing 3”-by-5” index cards. This extensive filing system, he confided, was the key to his seemingly universal knowledge. “I don’t store much up here,” he said, touching his forehead,...

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The Speed-up of Radiology

 The “speed-up” is an age-old tactic by employers to get more production out of their workers (without raising wages). When and where unions had some power, speed-ups would generally be met with opposition and/or demands for more pay. Ah, but that was long ago… Here’s a  letter in JAMA by Joseph Henry Hise, MD, July 25, 2017:  I graduated from medical school in 1984 and entered a diagnostic radiology residency. No internship was required for radiology, so I began my medical training without a clinical year. This was long before the implementation of PACS (the picture archiving and computer system); therefore,...

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Russian Election Meddling Documented!

For months we have all been force-fed a story few of us can digest about the hacking of the Democratic Party’s email servers, presumably by Russians commanded by Vladimir Putin himself. It is unclear how the contents of the DNC emails were supposed to have swayed the US electorate. Was anyone shocked to learn that Mrs. Clinton’s campaign managers were manipulative creeps? The current brouhaha is utterly trivial compared to the extreme, direct interference by US campaign professionals in the election that solidified Oligarchy in the former Soviet Union. A team of US political consultants operating clandestinely in Moscow...

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‘Thinking the Unthinkable’

The headline on Thomas Schelling’s obit in the NY Times dubbed him “master theorist of nuclear strategy.”  Schelling proved to be far saner than the three ogres mentioned as his fellow theorists: “After spending a year studying nuclear weapons at the RAND Corporation in 1958 and writing ‘The Strategy of Conflict’ (1960), he took his place as a leading theorist of nuclear war and peace along with the RAND intellectuals Herman Kahn and Albert Wohlstetter, as well as Henry A. Kissinger, the director of the Defense Studies Center at Harvard.” The role of these experts in the 1950s was...

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