Facebook Notes 2018


Kage Baker wrote a series of stories where time travel and genetic manipulation were established, but available only to some. She explored what might be gained or lost, who might control these technologies and to what end, and whether that world might already be our own. Baker made no judgments about the human strains she depicted or the ethics of the resulting societies, and died before finishing her work.

We now have some of that ability.

Nature 530, 402–405 (25 February 2016)

Kage Baker: The Company.

Cordwainer Smith: The Ballad of Lost C'Mell.



About ten years ago I began to shuffle, my stride became increasingly shorter, my balance more precarious. My short term memory became shorter, so that walking into a room and then wondering why I was there became increasingly common. I acquired an “old man’s bladder: urinary frequency and urgency. I was getting old.

Then a friend suggested I look up Normal Pressure Hydrocephally. There I was.

So, after some exploration and inquiry I suggested the possibility to my new doctor, David Resneck-Sannes, and he confirmed that it was indeed possible, though he’d never had a self referral for NPH. A Neurosurgeon confirmed it and an MRI settled it. My brain was not getting rid of the cerebral-spinal fluid as quickly as it was making it, so my the cavities in my brain became larger and larger as the fluid built up, squeezing my brain and producing the symptoms above. So we scheduled a spinal tap, and then a lumbar puncture to see if either would provide the temporary relief confirming NPH. They did.

Two days ago I was admitted to Good Samaritan Hospital, in San Jose, and at 7:00 in the morning Dr. Ali Shirzadi opened up the back of my skull and place a shunt there, and another surgeon fed a tube from the shunt down my chest and into my stomach, in hopes of draining the excess fluid.

Now I can walk almost normally, though I’m quite weak from spending most of my time in bed or in a power chair for the last two years. My sense of humor is back, and getting to the bathroom in a timely manner is no longer a problem, even at 3:00 in the morning, in the dark. Colors are brighter, food tastes wonderful again. I’m still 78, but I’m slowly getting back to being an active 78, and being myself again. It’s good to be back.

Once again I’ll have to invent a new life for myself. I don’t know what the next decade will bring, but I’m very much looking forward to finding out. Camille and Altaira tell me they’re glad I’m living with them, and I’m glad, too. I love them both.

October, 2018, Santa Cruz, California.


What to do about racism?

There's a long list of Fragile-type avoidances, pretty much the same one's you find in any individual confrontation, no matter how mild.

For racism discovered in oneself there is the ongoing, lifelong work of recognition and acknowledgement, exploration and learning, and going on from there. As with everything else, I've found that any particular lesson or understanding must periodically be renewed (life does that without prompting) and learned once again.

Because we (Western whites) live in and are shaped by a society with a thoroughly established and ever renewing means of promoting racism while remaining ignorant of it and our support of it, the work is never-ending.

I'm reminded of the Quakers and others I've known who were always listening and always ready to learn, and to act, sometimes forcefully. Not all of them, but some. I would like to be like that.

The work is never done, and that's one of the things life is unavoidably about. Good luck to us all.

But to understand what racism is all about and why you (and I) are racists, you probably have to read the book.