Friday, February 22, 2013

Political update for February, 2013

Nate Silver had a good 2012 election. He's actually had two consecutive good ones.  Unfortunately for his critics he seems to have an uncanny ability to predict outcomes.  It is too early of course for him to make predictions for 2016. What he really does is track polling data from others giving each poll the weight he thinks it deserves. Therein lies his talent. 

Silver recently went through potential GOP candidates and rated them on their conservatism using three different systems and combining them into his own.  His chart for this is set below.  Chris Christie was the least conservative by far, although I do not think it is really accurate for him.  I doubt for example that Mitt Romney is 4xs more conservative than he is or Rand Paul 7xs more conservative. Nor would I say that Romney was less conservative than Reagan, who might be considered a RINO today, stripped of his legend. Consider the following: Reagan had his ambassador vote to condemn Israel in the U.N.  He instituted actual amnesty for immigrants.  He raised taxes (though he lowered them more, that would not fly in today's climate), increased spending, loved Hollywood and Rock n' Roll, did not retaliate when the Soviets blem up KAL 700, engaged in extra-congressional acts of war (Libya, Grenada - though both would be covered by war powers act) and hung out with lefty Tip O'Neill. Not only is he less conservative than Romney (or at least the Romney character created as a presidential candidate) he might in fact be almost shunned today.  Silver's chart also shows how much more conservative the party is today than in Reagan's era.

So it is no surprise that Silver is vague and his main conclusions are very non-predictive, given how early they come - "Thus, my contention that Mr. Rubio is a good representative of the Republican Party as it stands today" and "There are some viable candidates to Mr. Rubio’s right" are not exactly like saying Paul Ryan will be the next presidential candidate.

I really just want to borrow his list as a tool to discuss who will be running.  It is too early for anyone sane to make 2016 predictions, but I do not need to worry about my reputation because I don't have one.  That is liberating and I can freely do what I want without fear that being wrong might affect my non-existent career (not that any pundits seem to suffer from being almost incessantly wrong).  I can't begin to predict who might do an exploratory committee some day as that is the political equivalent of going on on a date as opposed to proposing marriage to someone, but I will try, years and years into the future, to predict who might actually go as far as seeing how they fair in the Iowa caucuses. If I'm wrong, I can rely on the ol' stand-by - well, no one can predict that far ahead. If I am right - then I am a political Nostradamus.  My record for this is pretty good if you go back as far as 2006, when I made predictions for 2008, though that was considerably closer to the coming election than now is to 2016. I also did well on the last election, when other than Newt Gingrich, I think I nailed everyone.  Admittedly, some people I was pretty vague about.  We don't even know for sure if all these people will be alive in 2016.
First, who will not be running.  Let's look at the governors first: Mitt Romney has shot his bolt.  At this point in America, you get one shot.  I suppose someone will change that someday, but not Romney. Scott Walker is often talked about but he is a conservative darling who is not much known outside of Wisconsin by the general public and has negative appeal thanks to his public union busting.  Chris Christie is harder to determine, but though you won't see it discussed in polite television discussions, I think it really depends on his weight. I do not believe an extra-large Christie will be a candidate. Just imagine the Saturday Night Live skits with him wolfing down McDonalds and eating off his opponents' plates.   He also would have a lot of difficulty in Republican primaries for having given Obama an emotional hug just before the election (for no reason - Obama had to help NJ in today's political climate after Hurricane Sandy), though a more slender Christie would do well in a general election. It does not appear to me he is controlling his weight, but a lot can change in a year, particularly with surgery available. Sarah Palin will tease again, but the desire for her even among conservatives has wained and she will not be serious for more than a news cycle or so. Rick Perry is  still governor in Texas, but he really took a beating last time despite huge expectations and I doubt will try again. He really performed badly, and if his excesses were not an act, then he should not be president anyway.  On the other hand,  Tim Pawlenty may throw his name out there again, just to see if anything has changed, but I think he and Republicans understand that he is just not the guy. He will not get the funding he needs and not even go as far as he did this time.  I also think Herman Cain has seen his best days.  Sex scandals can be come back from, but you need to admit it first.

Some from the last run will more likely try again. Like Perry, Jon Huntsman came in with a great deal of exaggerated momentum (he never had a chance for a second).  I believe that for most of his run, it was really about getting name recognition for 2016, and he might give it a go.  Depending on what happens with the Republican fiscal/cultural schism, he could do better, but only if he can last through the initial filtering in Iowa and I just don't think so. That is true of many people.  Like Christie, thanks to his low conservative ratings, Huntsman would actually do better in a general election than a more conservative nominee.
Rick Santorum has to be reckoned with. I think if he does try, he will be making a mistake. It is natural when someone does well at something, to think it is them and not the circumstances. But, in his case, it really was the circumstances.  After Gingrich self-destructed for the second time, there was no one else for the "anybody but Romney" crowd to go for.  In order to attract any attention he needed Perry and Gingrich and Bachmann and Cain to all come and go. Before that his polling numbers were abysmal.  If he runs this time, he will again be shunted to the side. Bachmann is hardest for me to predict.  Few really want her to run, but she and her family might decide she is needed somehow. Mistake. She will fare no better and probably worse this time. Run for Senator first if you ever want to get anywhere. Ron Paul is, of course, retired, and I suspect despite a draft effort by libertarians, he will stay that way. If he tried again, it would be getting in his own son's way.

There are the three young "stars" for lack of a better word, too.   Rubio, Nikki Haley and Bobby Jindal may all take a look at it and quite possibly will go through Iowa. They are all "ethnics"  that will help the GOP show it is not the party of mostly white men (snicker - come on - isn't it mostly?) although I have never understood why many Hispanics are not considered "white" or caucasian. Are they not in Europe?  Mixing a language group among ethnic groups just points out the idiocy of our demographic system.

Rubio seems almost certain to run. His appeal is obvious, if mundane - he's a Republican Hispanic, good looking and successful, having been a governor and senator. Silver points out something though that I do not think well recognized - he is very conservatism. I've already pointed out that the chart strikes me as erroneous in some aspects, but I think he is right that Rubio is more conservative than any Republican candidate since the gold standard for conservatism, Barry Goldwater, in 1964. You can listen to his speeches yourself but you will easily discern it in them. It is obvious why this would be beneficial in the primaries, but how it will sell in an increasingly liberal and minority empowered America is harder to say.  I do not know that this will benefit him. The hope would be, among the less conservative on the right, that his other qualities will count for more than his politics. There is certainly recent precedent. America is not as liberal as Barack Obama, but his story and his ethnicity and his other personal qualities, not to mention a very effective campaign organization and Republican campaign incompetence, have made up the difference in spades. I'm certainly not prepared to make predictions yet as to who the nominee will be, but if I was forced to,  it is hard to believe he would not be the early front runner.

Haley and Jindal are harder to read. I want to suggest that Jindal, despite his popularity among Republicans, is a bit of a Tim Pawlenty.  I have heard Haley speak too and seen her interviewed. She has a telegenic charisma that Jindal , Pawlenty and even Rubio, do not have. In fact, if it looks like Hillary Clinton will be the front-runner for the Democrats, Haley may seem like a good idea to many Republicans.  By the way, originally Sikh, she is now a Christian. Now why would someone do that? Hmmm.  Oh and Bobby Jindal - originally Hindu, now Catholic. Maybe I'm just cynical, the way I was when John McCain became a Baptist, but, lots of people change religions all the time, don't they? Sure, and so many politicians just happen to schedule vacations and talks in Iowa and New Hampshire too.
Speaking of Haley, I do not see former Mississippi governor, Haley Barbour running though he might actually make a good candidate.  He has been a very successful lobbyist (one of the biggest), RNC chairmen and generally popular governor, tarred by pardons at the end of his term and also the inevitable racial questions a white southern Republican governor would be expected to face.  He will not run.  Two other governors bear consideration though. Bob McDonnell of Virginia has done an outstanding job by almost all accounts as Virginia governor.  Like many Republicans, he will be tarred by his attitude towards gays, which he has never changed since winning the governorship in spite of criticism about it.  Possibly his first act as governor was to re-issue the state's executive order regarding discrimination. He made one change. He removed gays from protected status.  If you ask yours truly, the Republican position on gay marriage hurt them this last time around. It will more so in 2016. I don't know if it will disqualify McDonnell. Maybe not in the Republican Primary, but as we've seen, it is not the same as a general election.  He has made other statements that will not serve him well, though they will give him support among his base.  Another consideration is Rob Portman, also strongly considered for Romney's VP, who appears to me to have something solid about him that people respect. I think he is a possibility. On the other hand, I think he would have to be pushed to it and he has made no moves that would indicate that he is thinking about it.

It is also hard to completely discount Paul Ryan.  He is young and energetic and did well enough in the debates and on television to merit consideration.  I don't feel it with him though. There is a nerdish air about him that he may not even be aware of, even if he can run for miles and do a lot of push ups. I expect he will test the waters, but those who might have been attracted to him will more likely go for the other rising stars.
Rand Paul, Ron's son, is also trying to craft a public identity different from his father. He has gone to Israel as if on a pilgrimage, but it was obvious what he was trying to do.  If you are considered weak on Israel, you aren't going far in Republican circles. It was damage repair. The truth is, he is still a young man who is trying to figure out a way to remain true to libertarian principles while also figuring out how to appeal to conservatives that don't always see eye to eye with their uncomfortable partners. If you read conservative columnists, they are often extremely critical of libertarians, sometimes saying that they have no values.  He has a couple of years to craft. I do not rule him out.

Gingrich fooled me last time. I thought he was too smart to run, but he wasn't. He came in with a surge due to his glibness and willingness to be an attack dog, but make a mockery of himself. When Herman Cain snuffed out in his sex scandal, Gingrich seemed like the only possibility at the time (few were then taking Santorum seriously) and he had a second shot. Of course, he is Gingrich, and again tripped over himself.   There are many positive things to say about him, but one characteristic seems overwhelming. He cannot stifle his arrogance and need to promote himself.  Other politicians may be as arrogant.  But they hide it better.  He also talks faster than he thinks and frequently contradicts himself. He is opportunistic and will jump on any bandwagon he thinks may ride him to the front of the line. That includes going after Romney in a way that was very destructive to Republican opportunities in general.  He is immune, as we've seen, to common sense. He might run again despite all the signs he should not. But, once burned, I will simply wait and see this time. Unpredictable.
There is someone else who is not on Silver's list who I not only think might still be a possibility, but hope will run, as, right now, he would be the one I would most likely give my support too (as if that would do any candidate any good). That is former governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana. There are others out there who see something in him. He is a fiscal conservative who tries to stay away from the cultural issues. I suspect, like any Republican candidate I like even a little that has a possibility of success (so, no, not Gary Johnson) if he was going to seriously try, he'd have to make certain concessions to the right wing concerning religious or quasi-religious issues. But, he has already said that we need a hiatus (I forget the word he used) about cultural issues while we figure out economic problems.  That is what I want to hear.

Last time, he did not enter the lists because of family considerations. From what I understand, his wife left him for another man, but is now back again. There may be more to the story, but apparently his wife and daughters did not want him to run because of it. I can't say I blame them too much. Presidential politics is disgusting and there are people who would happily destroy your family to gain an advantage. But, I hope they change their minds and he gives it a whirl.
As I've written about before, on the right there is a growing schism between the fiscal and cultural conservatism. I don't know if they can find someone who will satisfy both ends of the party. Some obviously think Rubio is that guy.  I don't know. But if it can be said there is a front runner right now -- as silly as that sounds -- it is probably him.

As for the Democrats, Obama and Clinton have sucked the air out of the room for almost all other candidates. There is a strong impulse among many of them for "Hillary." Certainly it can no longer be said that she is just a former first lady, having been a senator and now a secretary of state.  If she stays in relative good health, is not further entwined in any more Benghazi drama, and if her husband can manage to avoid further scandal, she certainly would be the front runner.  Right now, I can only think of Joe Biden and John Kerry having the presumption to think they could beat her. Biden is a very unusual man, at once very likeable and capable and on the other hand appearing snide, arrogant and almost uncontrollable in his impulses - he is also one of those politicians who makes screws up by telling the truth. Kerry arrogance probably exceeds Gingrich's and that is really saying something.  He has managed to lose an election before, so I have trouble seeing him raising any money if he is interested.  But Biden has a lot of friends and pull.  Of course, there may be newcomers like Obama again.  Because they are in power, it is more difficult to think who among the Democrats might run. I will need a year or so more before I make even early predictions about them.

It's politics. I could change my mind tomorrow about the above predictions like I do each week as to what flavor cupcake I crave (I'm thinking some kind of apply thingee I've had before; have you experienced the explosion in cupcake cuisine the last two years?  It makes me so happy. Eating "healthy" be damned.)

Saturday, February 09, 2013


I've been working on a Thomas Jefferson post and it is taking more time than I thought. Plus, dammit, I have been so busy working.  So, yet another two weeks go by without a post.  I plan on working on TJ for another week or so and do one of my rare autobiographical pieces this week. This one is about - sleep. Or lack thereof.

I'm sure I've touched on this before but I am the man who does not sleep. At least I used to be.   I sleep some now since December, 2009 and not complaining. By many people's standards, my solid five hours a night, if I'm lucky, does not seem like much. But it is far more than I got most of my life.
I'll start from the beginning. I used to wake up a lot when I was little. They thought it was asthma that would keep me awake. I never believed it but never had a reason not to either. When I was old enough to understand it, what other people described as asthma did not seem to me to be what I had experienced, and it was gone by the time I was three.  I also had a lot of nightmares when I was young. No idea anymore how many but some of the most vivid I I can still recall. Have other people experienced that?  Anyway, I was awake a lot as a little kid, but it never occurred to me why.

As I got older, I didn't sleep much either. I remember always being tired my entire life. Always. I did wonder about it a bit, but not all that much or with any real analysis. When I was a teenager my mother said I must have permanent mononucleosis. Can't say I blame her as I never seemed like I was fully awake.  I would nap for a while every day after school, but not enough to make me wakeful. When I woke I would be sluggish the whole night until I went to bed and then I'd be awake most of the night. I'd think a lot. It made me philosophical.  Then, a teenager, I was old enough to sneak out of the house. I would wander about the streets and local park. A friend's sister noticed me a few times looking out her window and dubbed me "The Ghost."  The Ghost would have been kind of cool nickname if it stuck, but it didn't.
And, I was still tired. Ironically, I was in pretty good shape. I owe that to youth I suppose. I could run around Eisenhower Park (6.2 miles) without even breathing hard, but I remember thinking one day while I was doing it that if there were a couch on the side of the park, I would have been happy to jump on it and take a nap in a second.  Seems like an odd thought. I should have been pumped up. But, not really. I was exhausted. I think I have experienced what others call a runner's high as a youth, but not very often and certainly not since I became an adult. 

Some random thoughts: In home room in high school I would often lay on the radiator trying to sleep. I had no ambition whatsoever and little competitive drive, though I loved sports.  I might try to win, sometimes even very hard. Some people thought I was competitive. Basketball was a little more important to me and I was motivated to try harder in that.  In general though, I did not care all that much about winning.  I tried running track and early on it seemed like I might have potential, but I was still sleepy and something worse, during a race once I realized that everyone cared a lot how they did but me. There were some other factors involved not so important for this post, but I did not do especially well. My coaches were a little puzzled by me (many people were) and then just gave up. Why would I want to be good or the best at anything?  Even stuff I was good at through some luck or natural ability would never be worked on with any effort. I believed that if you practiced something or learned how to do it well, it was like cheating. Ridiculous, of course, but that is how I felt. I now realize it was probably exhaustion, or at least much of it was rationalizing my lack of ability to make an effort.

Often in school I would be overcome by sleep. When I could I would wear a parka, that is a great big winter coat with a hood. I would pull the hood over my head and try to sleep in class with my head down. It was easier to sleep sitting up than laying down. Still is. That's because my abnormally large uvula (I'll get to that) was not covering my tiny little breathing tube in my throat in that position.  I also could never breathe out of my nose, which seemed permanently clogged. Well, sometimes a little, one nostril at a time. It wasn't pretty, that's for sure. 

Sometimes when I was called on in class, although that was rare once the teacher got to know me, I would come out of a stupor and say something brilliant like "huh." I remember being in a French class, twelfth grade (could have been eleventh) and being called on I responded as usual. One of the girls in the class who I wasn't real fond of anyway said to the teacher, "Why does he always do that?" as if I was faking.  I don't blame her for not asking me directly. I was kind of (very) strange, painfully shy, and not that many people spoke to me anyway. Strange in high school gets multiplied by a factor of at least three. While they discussed me as if I wasn't there, I thought someday they'll find out there is something wrong with me which explains why I was so tired all the time.  There was no such thing as chronic fatigue syndrome yet - at least as far as I knew, but I've always doubted that was real anyway. But, the real answer to her question is is obvious now. I didn't sleep. 
Another time we were asked to write a poem in a creative writing class. I am a really bad poet. But, I wrote something called "The Steady Sleeper" that seemed a little inspired.  It was about someone who slept a lot, if you can't figure that out without help. Can't remember much else about it and I doubt there are any copies unless my teacher for some bizarre reason has one laying in a box in his attict with a million other student efforts. I knew it was about me, but I don't think anyone else in the class would have. Perhaps the lack of sleep also explains why my favorite fictional spy is Lawrence Block's Evan Michael Tanner - The Spy Who Never Slept.  They are great books worth reading by anyone who likes the genre, but, perhaps there is a connection at least to why I was attracted to it when I saw the title. I also got a kick out of the scene in the movie Elf where the lead character (Will Ferrell), a human raised as an elf in the North Pole (a great Christmas movie - don't listen to anyone), is asked if he had a good night sleep. "Yes," he says, "a full forty-five minutes." (and yes, I'm paraphrasing; leave me alone). Of course, the character was wide awake. I never was, but I identified with him completely. 

I know in high school that there were some who thought I was a drug addict. That explained my behavior to them. But I had never touched a drug. Others just thought I was strange and others, I guess (my sister says, anyway), depressed.  I actually enjoyed high school, or at least aspects of it (not the actual school part) though I know many people hated it who performed normally academically. I was just sleepy.
This did not change as I got older. I still don't know how I graduated high school. Oddly, Bear and I graduated ranked right next to each other exactly in the middle of the class. He had his own problems, but lack of sleep wasn't one of them. We laughed then that half the class was dumber than we were. It seemed amazing to us that they could do worse than us because we would do nothing at all to get good grades. Literally nothing.

In college I did better, though certainly not because I was awake, and good enough in law school. I found that doing the tiniest bit of reading was a great advantage because it seemed almost no one else (particularly in college) did any. When I became a lawyer I stopped being lazy to the extent that I was a bit of a workaholic.  For many years I worked 60-80 hours a week because I felt I needed to know everything about it. Being awake all night actually helped there as a boss of mine discovered when he came into the office at 3 a.m.  I would work holidays and weekends. Still sleepy though. Always sleepy.
Yet, I pretty much led a normal middle class life. Well, fairly normal. People still find me a little strange.  But, I worked, played, dated, skied, traveled, raised a kid, bought and sold a house, etc.  When I was still young I realized that lack of sleep did not kill you. At least quickly, it wouldn't.  I doubt very many people who don't read my blog or know me real well ever realized it. No telling what effect it has had on my life span, if any. 

There was a time period where I was addicted to coffee, which helped keep me from falling asleep while working or driving. If I didn't have a cup in my hand I could sip from I would start to drift to sleep from exhaustion during the day. I actually did fall asleep more than once when driving.  I won't even count the 24 straight hour trip to Florida when I started dozing while heading into Orlando, because that makes sense. But, I recall around the mid-90s once driving home from work -- a 45 minutes to an hour trip -- and I had no coffee with me. All of a sudden I knew I had to get off the Expressway.  I pulled into the service road, stopped the car in the lane I was in, put the car in park and fell asleep. I think it was just for seconds. It happened again to me just before I moved to Virginia when I was there on an apartment hunting trip. In desperation I exited the interstate, pulled into the first parking lot I saw, put the car in park and slept for somewhere between a few seconds and twenty minutes.

I notice in life that when you talk about your problems people assume you are complaining. But, I'm not complaining. We all have our crosses to bear and that isn't even my own worst physical problem.  Other people have far, far worse problems than I have had and some don't even get to live. I've always felt very lucky. Other than a striking lack of ambition, not sleeping really did not affect my life much. Maybe it even explains why I am attracted to some particulars philosophies to some degree and developed some life strategies that I feel have helped me, but that is not the type of thing we can ever really know for sure.  Actually, it helped me get quite a bit more reading in than most people have time to do and I sure like that. It certainly helped me at work to be able to prepare longer than other people. Who knows what life would have brought if it was different? Maybe I would have wakefully been bounding across a street somewhere and been run over by a truck. Perhaps I would have been more upset during life's little upheavals.
So, fairy tale ending here?  Somewhat. In 2008 I was in Va. just one week and was getting into bed (why bother, you ask? I don't know -- my bed was always layered with books and I'd mostly read or look at the clock every minute or so).  My phone rang around midnight. Not the best time to get a call. "This is the Clarke County Coroner's office." "I guess my brother is dead," I said.  He was. My 52 year old brother, Mark, had died in his sleep, his hands folded angel-like under his head (so they told me).  Sounded to me like that thing I kept hearing about on the radio -- apnea. I knew I had it because my gf told me that I snored like crazy and would often stop breathing. But, I never really paid attention until then.

So, I called an apnea clinic. Had a meeting. Got tested. I slept, they said, about one and a half hours  that night.  Seemed like a normal night to me.  I woke every minute and twenty seconds on the average once I "fell asleep," for lack of a better word. I tried the C-Pap machine. Couldn't use it at all. So, I went and saw a surgeon. He drew a picture for me so I could understand. You can't breathe out of your nose at all, you know (for that he did not need a medical degree)?  This is what you should be breathing out of in your throat -- imagine two quarters side by side. Here's what you are really breathing out of -- picture a dime. On top of that when you lay down, your abnorally large uvula covers your breathing tube. Abnormally large uvula? That is not every man's dream organ to be especially large. My entire life, most of the things that you read above, all flashed through my mind.  I had a real answer for the girl in my French class all those years ago. 
I had two surgeries in 2009. The first repaired my deviated septum and he also took out a couple of nasal thingees I didn't even know people had. Then, towards the end of the year, he cut up my throat, removing my tonsils and about half of my uvula (you get used to it, though I do choke on food more so than I used to - turns out I also had a high placed tongue, but there was nothing you can do about that. Who has a high placed tongue? Is there anyone reading this who even knew such a thing existed? What genes I inherited). They warned me it would be a spectacularly painful surgery, but I sneered at it - hah, I live with pain -- I  laugh at pain. Wrong. It was horrifying.  I tried -- and I'm not exaggerating this -- to convince myself I was a Nazi torturer, torturing myself, so that I'd be happy enough to sleep for a few seconds that first night at home.  I doubt I slept for more than a few minutes for three days after which I made them put me back in the hospital for a few hours by threatening to eat all my Oxycodone until I felt better. They gave me a shot and I was able to sleep perhaps two hours. Oh, and we forgot to give you this throat lubricant to help you through the worst week of your life. Really sorry.  Unfortunately, the painkillers, which were as powerful as they could give me,  also gave me some visitors in my head -- a really quarrelsome couple who just wouldn't stop arguing with each other or me. After my one week check up, I stopped taking the painkillers on my own except for the over the counter stuff. I preferred agony than continuously argue with those two.

My apnea went from a 40 on the scale to a 2. In other words, instead of starting to have heart attacks in a few years, which is what I was told would start occur if I didn't do something -- to no apnea at all.

And then, well, after a month or so recovery, I started to sleep.  Not 8 hours. I can't do that. But, four or five. If I wake up and it is 4 a.m. I am literally joyful, very happy.  I don't mean I spring out of bed, but I know it was a good night.  It's still not enough, of course, but I don't think you change a lifetime habit of not sleeping so easily. But, many people, particularly men I know, sleep as little or only a little bit more than I do now.  I don't think it is all that far off the average even if my own little insignificant other sleeps about 20-25 more hours a week than I do.
Going from an hour and a half to five hours is good stuff. It's great. Sometimes, maybe once a week I even take a nap for an hour or so. Seems to be all I need.  And, it has changed my life, even if subtly. I've written before about the weight loss that came along with being awake enough to deal with the hunger (10/2/11 Dieting -- the great adventure) and enabled me to work out much harder (though, still, I have to admit I hate every second, of every minute of every hour of that).  And, it's nice not to be always falling asleep when I am working, reading or studying.  Same work, same friends, same life philosophy. Same most stuff. But, I'm much more awake and that makes everything easier.

There's no punch line. Sleep is great. I like it. Once, in the depths of my sleeplessness in the 1990s I told some co-workers that sleep was better than sex. Everyone laughed. But, I could get sex (well, you know, sometimes). I couldn't get sleep. Try it some week on purpose and you will see what I mean. Someday, I hope to sleep 8 hours a night regularly. I doubt it will happen and I am fine if it never gets better than this. 

I know you are glad you now know more about my life. When my biography is published in 2026, and you need to go to sleep yourself but just can't put it down, at least you can skip this chapter. 

About Me

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I started this blog in September, 2006. Mostly, it is where I can talk about things that interest me, which I otherwise don't get to do all that much, about some remarkable people who should not be forgotten, philosophy and theories (like Don Foster's on who wrote A Visit From St. Nicholas and my own on whether Santa is mostly derived from a Norse god) and analysis of issues that concern me. Often it is about books. I try to quote accurately and to say when I am paraphrasing (more and more). Sometimes I blow the first name of even very famous people, often entertainers. I'm much better at history, but once in a while I see I have written something I later learned was not true. Sometimes I fix them, sometimes not. My worst mistake was writing that Beethoven went blind, when he actually went deaf. Feel free to point out an error. I either leave in the mistake, or, if I clean it up, the comment pointing it out. From time to time I do clean up grammar in old posts as, over time I have become more conventional in my grammar, and I very often write these when I am falling asleep and just make dumb mistakes. It be nice to have an editor, but . . . .