Illinois downgraded; state drops to worst in the nation

aand now we have chicago pols running the country; joe


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Brophy | Saturday 26 January 2013 - 7:44 pm | | Brophy Blog | No comments

how he predicted the 2012 election, gettting it 100% right


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Brophy | Saturday 26 January 2013 - 10:53 am | | Brophy Blog | No comments

How Close to Lincoln?


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Brophy | Saturday 26 January 2013 - 10:43 am | | Brophy Blog | No comments
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Obama’s Big and Quiet Transformation


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Brophy | Saturday 26 January 2013 - 10:30 am | | Brophy Blog | No comments



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Brophy | Sunday 20 January 2013 - 7:58 pm | | Brophy Blog | No comments

AWAKENING - a story about consciousness and the dangers of anesthesia

a scary story.  the bulk of this story appeared in 'The Atlantic,' jan/feb 2013.

i had my tonsils taken out at age 5, right across the street from our railroad flat apartment, 59 west 109th street, at a clinic on south side of 109th street between columbus and manhattan avenues, nyc.

i remember the event well.  i was given jello treats and tapioca treats and treated like a celebrity for about a week, what a joy!

but there was a darkside. i remember the smells which come back to throttle me from time to time. i remember three large bright light fixtures in the ceiling which must have run in a north south direction; considering the apartments being used were railroad flats. i remember the curtains (maybe color green) being closed around me as i lay on the gurney.   i remember the smell of ether; and i then remember awakening during the procedure.  i heard soft voices; everything seemedlike a  green fuzz; i felt strapped to the table and struggling.  i couldn't, move my arms or kick my legs; i was terrified.  i do not remember any pain. i remember crying and being consoled by the mother.  i do not remember complaining.  the event was over and forgotten.

years later, i became a dick tracey comic fan; one of the characters was "measles(?)" who wore a boler.  He was captured and his mouth was taped and his arms and legs were tied securley with ropes like a rolled up  carpet.  he was inserted in a drainage tube projecting from the side of a hill.  that comic event made me dizzy and very uncomfortable.  i had to  physcially shake the scene from my head.  if produced awful sensations in my  body like the "sickening vertigo feeling" when i look over the edge of a steep cliff, or see down, from a video clip of a view,  hovering over the empire state building or similar ediface.   I had difficultiy recently watching the movie "man on the ledge" when the camera zoomed directly down from the 20 story roosevelt hotel ledge in nyc at the gazing crowds; the scenes produced terrifying physical feelings in my body; feelings of electricity flowing, faintness and loss of balance.

the tonsils episode pops into my head from time to time by association with health issues,  operations, and anesthesias.  i have thought about it hundreds, maybe a thousand times during the past 75 years.  the thought pops into my head, and I push it out as quickly as possible.  i have told the story to many people over the years, particularly anesthesiologists about to practice their art on me, and i am sure i must have embellished the story over the years;  but the smell and green and the struggle i remember well.

after reading the frightening case study of a child in the article on "awakening," i thought for the first time that perhaps my neuroses are connected with my tonsil incident;  who knows? I will never know. 

But i am also very much into the study of consciousness and free will. l have read or watched most the the good stuff written or you-tubed during the past 10 years including authors like cairnes-smith, chalmers, kahnneman, campbell, garzanagga, koch, tononi, dennett, penrose, hameroff (and his microtubules which add a billion fold dimension to the brain's information processing circuits if true).  My most recent book study has been "How to Create a Mind" by Kurzweil (aka The Prophet), who is the ultimate reductionist, and in my opinion, nails many of the issues surrounding consciousness.  Since his previous book, "The Singularity," Kurzweil is often misunderstood as prophesizing the emergence of highly intelligent computers independent of human intelligence. Not the case.  Humans are tool builders and will subsume computer components like nanobot blood cells and neurobots to enchance human effectiveness. Kurzweil believes that earth's humans are the most advanced civilization because of his theory of "accelerating returns, and prophesizes the eventual development of "computronium," to enable humans to "manage the universe."  Kurzwiel is not a dreamer but perhaps one of the most pragmatic and accomplished inventors of the past 50 years - with "mind-like" hardware and AI inventions.

"Awakening" discusses many of the successes, failures and dangers surrounding  the application of anesthesia. The article continues on into the theory on consciousness and free will, including reflections on descartes, kant and chalmers and tononi. Overall, it is provocative and an excellent paper.  If you are going under the scalpel, you might want to read the following dissertation and discuss it with your anesthesiologist.  the chances are 1.5 per 1000 that you might suffer severe PSD. If your anesthesiologist dismisses the issue or denies that it applies to his/her practice, consider finding another anesthesiologist.

i do believe i have a good handle on consciousness and how to build a conscious computer, but certainly not to the level of detail described by Kurzweil.  Building a conscious computer, however, is much simpler than building a human brain. first, consciousness occurs at many levels and many degrees of awareness in the old brain and neocortex and in all living things, right down to white blood cells (neutrophil chemotaxis), and even down to polarized photons light years apart,  and even unique strings of fundamental matter that have attractive and repellent qualities or quales. i believe that consciousness is a fundamental property of the universe. [consider reading "the conscious universe," by kafatos or the "phenomenon of man" and the noosphere by teilhard de chardin SJ.]  But considering Chalmers and the "hard" problem of "me-ness" or "subjectivity," how will we ever know?  Surely, the first cojmputer to pass the Turing Test will admit to being conscious. 

I am not a dualist like kant or descartes.  but i do believe that self awareness in humans is a special emergent epiphenomenal property (yeah, a mouthful of words) that can leave memories and alter circuitry. tononi in his recent book "phi" attributed consciousness to "massive integration of information." i am suspicious of tononi.  his book is printed in high glossy paper with extradordinary illustrations that are intended (in my opinion) to impress the reader by association that his storied text is highly credible.  i am not sure.  

I believe that self-awareness is a result of highly recursive circuitry in the neocortex.  recursiveness is the key concept.  there are sparsely distributed cells, a bit larger and oval shapped with very long dendrites that is located on the outer neocortex that enables "awarenesss" to fold back on itself sufficiently to create our emergent noosphere of highly creative conscious thought.  It is my belief that this is what is happening;  speculation on my part;  maybe it is a miracle;  maybe it is xxxxxxxx. 

Let me explain it with my bagpipe story.

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Brophy | Friday 11 January 2013 - 10:33 pm | | Brophy Blog | No comments

About That Overpopulation Problem


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Brophy | Wednesday 09 January 2013 - 8:42 pm | | Brophy Blog | No comments

Mr. China Comes to America

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Brophy | Wednesday 02 January 2013 - 3:09 pm | | Brophy Blog | No comments

The Insourcing Boom

The Insourcing Boom

After years of offshore production, General Electric is moving much of its far-flung appliance-manufacturing operations back home. It is not alone. An exploration of the startling, sustainable, just-getting-started return of industry to the United States.

Thomas Porostocky

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Brophy | Wednesday 02 January 2013 - 3:02 pm | | Brophy Blog | No comments

Say Yes to the Mess

yes: good for america, miliitary, people, republicans; joe

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Brophy | Wednesday 02 January 2013 - 1:15 pm | | Brophy Blog | No comments