Saturday, August 11, 2018

A Recipe to End Inequality

A ship quickly sank near a small, deserted island. The ten survivors’ names, by extremely odd coincidence, were One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, and Ten. In all the hubbub they managed to leave the ship with one gold coin each; except for Ten, who held nine gold coins.

No sooner had their clothing dried than they surveyed the island and discussed how to divide the land among them. Being believers in the free market, they agreed it was only fair to divide the land into parcels and to sell each parcel to the highest bidder in an auction to be held the next day.

As they lay down to sleep their first night on the island, most of the castaways had the same thought: since there were 18 gold coins among them, they would create 18 equal parcels and each of them would buy at least 1 parcel as their new homestead.

Had any of them stayed up late with insomnia, they might have noticed, by the light of the moon, Nine and Ten together in quiet conversation.

The auction began at the crack of dawn. The first to speak was Ten: “I bid 10 gold coins for the entire island”. When other castaways murmured ‘how could you have 10 coins this morning when last night you had 9?’, Ten said, “I don’t need to explain myself—I’ve got nothing to hide and have done nothing illegal. But if you must know, Nine has given me 1 gold coin and we have signed a contract. I will allow Nine to inhabit a tenth of my island, and Nine will protect my island from any intruders.”

Being law-abiding folk and having only 8 coins between them (which was not enough to outbid Ten's 10 coins for the entire island), everyone but Nine and Ten left the island to huddle in the shallow waters a few feet off shore.

After a few weeks of standing in the shallow water night and day, surviving on what few clams they could dig from the sand, their feet water-logged and prunish, their bodies shrinking and weak, their minds growing cloudy from lack of sleep and jealous from watching Nine and Ten build their huts and plant their gardens and sleep in hammocks between trees, the offshore-8 had become disgruntled. They decided they deserved more.

A motion was made to implement a 10% tax on everyone, and to use that 10% for the common good. Seven, who was good at math, pointed out that Ten would still have more money than all of the rest put together and so nothing would really change, and so Seven changed this motion to be a progressive tax: “Anyone owning more than 2 gold coins will be taxed at 80% to be shared with all for the common good.” Seven explained that this would leave everyone with about 2 gold coins, and they could all bid equally on equal parcels of land.

When the vote was held, only One, Three, Five, and Seven, voted for the progressive tax measure. Seven could not understand why the rest voted with the wealthy Ten, even though rejecting the tax meant a continued bare-existence standing in shallow water. Six explained it this way: “I know that through hard work and grit I’ll one day be wealthy, like Ten, and when that happens I won’t want all those hard-earned gold coins taken away from me.”

So, the situation returned to status quo. The offshore-8 grew skinnier, prunier, and more sleep deprived. Nine remained strong on a tenth of the islands resources—strong enough to protect Ten. And Ten grew fatter amongst his gardens and livestock. In hungry desperation, a few of the offshore-8 gave Ten their only gold coin in exchange for a meal, making Ten wealthier still.

Then one day something happened that changed everything. One day, Seven ate Nine.  (Seven. Ate. Nine. Who didn't see that coming?)

“How was it? What did it taste like? How do you feel?” they asked. “It was thrilling. Tasted like stringy chicken. I feel full,” Seven answered.

Moving as one the offshore castaways, too poor to own any land and too hungry to remember the importance of abiding by laws, turned toward shore and stepped onto the island for the first time since the auction. They continued walking toward Ten, from whom they tore snack-sized pieces as an appetizer, then cut steak-sized pieces for the barbecue.

And those who remained lived happily ever after.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Treatment/Side-Effect Recursion

Part I: My Bathroom Countertop

Eight weeks ago, there was nothing there except a toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss, a bar of soap, and a daily multivitamin.

Then this happened:

  foreach se in trt.getSideEffects()
    foreach t in se.getTreatments()

Part II: The Early Universe:

This is the Hubble Ultra-Deep Field image. It shows the universe as close to its beginning as we can see. What does this look like, if not a cosmic countertop filled with pills, gelcaps, and capsules?

In other words, the universe is a side effect of the original physician's first prescription:


From To be nurse, first be patient. Chapter 1.


Bonus: Every wonder what a person sounds like while they're sleeping 3-1/2 months after throat cancer treatment? Wonder no more. Here's almost 4 hours of it.