Thursday, December 27, 2012

Past Performance Is Not A Guarantee Of Future Behavior ...

.., but it is the safe way to bet when politics are involved.

I think David Gregory, the not-quite-yet-late commentator for the NBC News organization, might want to give serious - and fairly immediate - thought to catching a flight back to 'ol Blighty in the very near future.  There's still plenty of room under the Obama bus, and him going to jail for embarrassing Obama and the Democrats violating DC gun laws on national TV could be usefully spun by his erstwhile colleagues into less politically damaging support for additional gun restrictions legislatively.

Food for thought.

Update (12/30/12):  And, of course, strategy works both ways.  :)

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Aging Strategy

Maria Konovalenko (whom I took mildly to task on a different issue here and this same issue here) has a recent post up on her blog about the relationship of human aging to disease and the research funding process effects on healthy lifespan extension and traditional disease treatment therapy research processes.

She writes:
Aging is not considered to be a disease at the moment. There is no such indication as aging, therefore one can’t register a geroprotector drug, the one that slows down aging. This is one of the major hurdles in aging research. Even though there are some substances that are proven to slow down aging and protect from diseases, researchers can’t make drugs from these substances. This has to be changed if we want to live longer and healthier.
A perfectly valid observation, marred by her curative prescription:
I think it’s horrible that the NIA people are propagating this idea that aging is not a disease. They are rejecting the opportunity with their own hands. If they fought for persuading the healthcare officials to accept aging as a disease, a lot of problems would be gone instantly.

Let's be blunt here; the people staffing the US NIA are perfectly ordinary Americans trying to perform their job duties as well as they can in the job environment they occupy.  I expect they by-and-large are well-meaning people who genuinely want to improve other people's lives medically (and I'm confident Maria herself would not disagree with this observation).  The problem being, the people staffing NIA aren't free to make funding grant decisions based solely upon science - they work for the US government and so are funded by the US legislative branch of government and directed by the US executive branch of government, both of which are frequently subject to pressures from conflicting points of view.

Basically, having the .gov fund your research virtually guarantees you won't have much say in the direction your research follows and you will always find your efforts being held up as example of how wrong-headed government funded research is (if only by someone whose pet project/topic of interest isn't getting funded as well as desired).  The problem isn't a lack of funding, it's the funding regulation process itself that's having such an inhibiting effect on aging treatment research.

In her comments I wrote (in part):
Relying for research (or any other, really) funds from people who are themselves reliant upon the common perception that their opponents can create about them to portray them in a negative light will always result in a tightly constrained and medically questionable (at best) research and development (or pretty much any other, I suggest) environment. Much better, I think, to develop a different model of research funding that minimizes individual influence and maximizes transparency of research process. Government would still have a desirable role in the production and distribution process of medical treatment after all.

My thinking here is influenced by my experience with Khan Academy.  Salman Khan began his education "business" as a series of YouTube videos to tutor his niece who lived in a different city here in the USA.  Serendipitously, he chose not to make the videos private, and others soon found them and began commenting positively about them.  Eventually, financial backing was arranged and Khan Academy became the non-profit education establishment it is still in the process of becoming.

Maria Konovalenko occupies a position from which she is uniquely able to replicate that experience - not for education as such, but for creating a healthy life extension non-profit to fund research into therapies as well as educating people around the world about healthy life extension.

This would not be a quick process (Sal Khan spent 6 years building his teaching model and portfolio to arrive at the formal organizing stage), but she has the credentials and access to the researchers to begin the development process that Sal Khan himself has demonstrated.  An open-ended series of instructional YouTube videos (in as many different languages as Maria can contrive to produce - I'm guessing she isn't the only multi-lingual hottee of her personal acquaintance - but at least in both Russian and English to begin with) that explain the various principles and research efforts, and maybe some interviews of researchers themselves when possible, would make a good beginning.  Once she has a program of research direction(s) defined "on tape", she begins the process to attract funding for a non-profit, non-governmental entity to fund research into age-related effects on disease and treatments for aging aspects of (ultimately any) disease or health condition, entirely independent of government or corporate investment in similar types of research.

Maria is quite correct that present research efforts are being artificially limited, both in scope as well as direction.  I hope my comment at her blog will lead her to this page and that she gives these ideas some consideration.  I'm not getting any younger myself, after all.  Yet ...

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Yesterday Was Proof Positive

Barack Obama and the Democratic Party really are the Masters of the Universe; even the End Of Time Apocalypse was a failed policy.

Alternatively, it was just one more iteration of one of the earliest known examples of the apparently-not-all-that-progressive practice of recycling.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Strategy Works Both Ways

Joe Huffman has a long (for the non-Kevin Baker at least) and well-thought out post on the present political landscape in the US and the likely strategy the anti-rights faction in this country seem poised to attempt (again).  Well worth your time reading.

I submit that we have ready to hand an effective counter to the hystericalhistorical claims and objectives these efforts have consistently used heretofore.

Weer'd Beard has an extensive listing of non-firearm related killings as well as the arguments and falsehoods deployed by those groups and individuals working to restrict or revoke our personal freedom of choice.

The US .gov helpfully publishes a listing of all firearms crimes that occur in the country, from which can be extracted those that have occurred in "Gun Free Zone" locations.

JayG provides an extensive (several hundred entries now) listing of individual self-defense shootings in his "Dead Goblin Count" labeled postings.

A campaign of 30 to 60 second audio/video segments that verbally recount the actual events of several criminal shootings in gun free zones, with an equal number of news stories about legitimate (ie: legal) self-defense shootings (with online links to all of them displayed on-screen) ought to be one effective counter to efforts to demonize firearms and private ownership of same.

A simultaneous a/v campaign listing the narratives anti-gun groups and individuals promulgate (Weer'd comes through again) with the actual facts won't be quite as effective, but should keep opposition efforts divided between two separate but complimentary counter messages.

If there is some actual money available for this, arrange to have as many of the real people involved read their pro-ownership self-defense story on camera.  Should s/he be visually non-threatening in appearance then this would be a plus.

A steady progression of new videos that don't repeat events, but pound home the same pro-rights/personal liberty message, shouldn't cost much money in this day and age (and should YouTube censor them, then there's your 1st Amendment law suit too, Mr. Gottlieb) and could be used to solicit financing to take the same campaign onto the broadcast airwaves as well.  Done as a 2 year campaign, the effect on both inhibiting near-term opportunistic political action, as well as the next federal election cycle, should make much of Joe Huffman's present concerns fade in intensity (there's always going to be somebody who sees personal advantage in stealing from you so we will never end these types of efforts entirely).

Worth doing?

Friday, December 14, 2012

I Don't Do Breaking News ...

... but this story makes it appear that Mom brought her family problems to work with her.

Not going to speculate further; my condolences to the families for their loss, and I think it worth noting that the reporter made a decent effort to avoid the inflammatory hoplophobic rhetoric.  A 20 years old young man has killed himself in an extremely brutal fashion; I await further information from the crime investigation already underway, as should we all.

ETA: I see Instapundit has a post up on this, but I linked to the report through Drudge - like I said, I don't do breaking news.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Will To Learn

So, as I was saying (2 months ago), I'm 59 now.  This was cause for some reflection and decision-making.  It has been apparent for quite some years now that the employment (and more generally, many aspects of the societal) model arising from the Industrial Revolution have begun to run their course.  What hasn't been (and to a worryingly large degree still isn't) clear is what and how an individual might go about preparing for the even greater changes that appear certain to feature in all our lives in the coming years.

I've decided to educate myself so as to develop the knowledge base necessary to master the skills that nanotechnology and cellular biology seem more and more likely to bring into the individuals grasp.  Additive manufacturing of both inanimate and biological materials to construct the material and devices I desire to accomplish the means of supporting my life without having to necessarily rely upon the whim of any other is a big example of the type of societal and technology change that seems to be in the early stages of development into technique and not just research experiment.

This won't happen next year, possibly not even this decade, but there will be a steady progression of development such that we will achieve a tipping point of change that drags all of human society out of what we now regard as "normal".  I envision this process as a wave breaking upon the shore.  We are only just now beginning to be able to see the start of the swell building; I want to be one of those furiously paddling away just as the first curl appears.  The technology (and other) changes I believe will occur in my lifetime may or may not be the equivalent of Mavericks, but I refuse to be one of those standing around whining in the impact zone as the future washes away the present.

Admittedly being a rather too casual student of classical strategy, I have given some thought to developing one.  What I've come up with likely won't meet many of the needs of others, but I hope will offer inspiration to begin the process of preparing to overcome the risk that is the necessary component of any opportunity.

I've begun by registering as a student at Khan Academy.  I chose this particular venue because of Salman Khan's concept of a transcript being structured as a resume as well as a repository for one's professional work and qualifications (the current examples are publications, software developed, apps, etc but certifications of a technical or trade nature seem a likely possibility also) and that the learning part of education should be free of charge (certification OTOH ...).  Beyond the embarrassingly simple aspiration to remain smarter than my grandson (he's 2 at the moment, but closing fast), I intend to spend the next several years learning math to at least the geometry to calculus level, at least one of the Romance languages other than English (and hopefully an eastern European language as well), and eventually achieve a PhD (or an equivalent certification) in history.  I think it unlikely that I will confine my online studies to only Khan Academy, indeed I think it virtually certain that I won't.

There's more.  I have an abiding interest in things martial.  Mostly this involves modern firearms and in recent years Krav Maga.  Thanks to Eric S. Raymond, I've discovered ARMA - The Association for Renaissance Martial Arts.  I have applied for membership and intend to structure my studies on the historical record of martial theory and philosophy from the Renaissance period onward.  My thought at this point is to connect the historical practice with modern technology and technique and see where that points the thesis further.

With all this decided, I have also decided that I'm going to retire from my present employment around the end of June 2014.  This won't provide me with a great deal of money, but will meet my most basic needs.  Assuming such a thing still exists in 2016 I intend to begin drawing social security at 62 (plus 8 months - 3 years earlier than I could begin drawing "full" benefits).  Fiscal cliffs and all that notwithstanding, actual societal collapse is a drawn out process and I decided the ability to concentrate my efforts for the mid- and late-term portion of my studies was sufficient to justify the longer term risk of retiring from employment at 60.

What makes this different from a complex way to occupy by dwindling twilight years of advancing decrepitude is my conviction that the healthy life extension research that has been underway for most of a decade now has begun (and will continue to) deliver cellular and genetic therapies for age-related diseases and deteriorating physical conditions.  Again, not next year or even this decade necessarily, but within the reasonable expectation of my lifetime without such therapies (the next 20 - 25 years basically).  There are already efforts in place to deliver stem cell type therapies via IV drip and direct injection as well as genetic therapies introduced via benign virus.  The ability to clone one's stem cells and map one's personal genetic code is already within the financial reach of most Americans (well, those of us who have jobs at least); it is only reasonable to believe that this price will continue to shrink over the course of this present decade.  I have begun looking into the procedure required to have both of these accomplished before I retire.  Just one more of those things I expect we will all have to adapt ourselves to if we want to stay out of that futuristic wave impact zone.

And that's pretty much it.  Along the way I will garner as many certifications as I can (I still hope to become formally certified as a Krav Maga instructor even though I don't intend to pursue teaching as regular employment; I'm just not rigorous or consistent enough to be good at instruction - though assisting or filling in temporarily for someone else would be good) with particular emphasis on those related to the creative application of computer technology.  Incorporating firearms and other weaponry into my studies isn't actually a given, more like the pivotal activity around which all else occurs, so I hope to obtain certifications as an RSO and instructor also.  I will have to place greater emphasis on physical fitness than I have (especially of late); it's all well and good to believe in the promise of healthy life extension, but you have to live long enough to have some sort of therapy to receive, don't you?

The blog and my presence online will remain pretty much unchanged for the moment I expect; I want to finish the life extension post series I started in October for only one topic.  I will say that having settled on a course of action to follow has created a sense of emotional as well as intellectual relief for me.  It all may well go straight into the crapper (again), but I feel invigorated and more confident (even if that is the porcelain spinning 'round me) and expect to have a more frequent urge to babble away here once again.