Sonntag, 2. Oktober 2016

Intellect and Medicine

Some might have wondered why the older postings in this blog deal so much with intellect in general and so little with medicine in particular.

It is probably because medicine as a whole is so trivial, at least in my eyes. Sure, there are many unanswered questions, but little is done to explore them. Medical doctors primarily care about money, and they earn money by treating patients and prescribing drugs to them. It is not possible to work as a pure researcher if you want to make a living. Medicine only permits research in spare time while being employed as a physician.

The anti-intellectualism of our world, which is growing worse and worse due to immigration from anti-intellectual countries, is a big problem.

Konkurrenz

Erstaunlich: Ich habe diesen Blog ins Leben gerufen, um mit dem meistgelesenen Online-Tagebuch Österreichs, geschrieben von einem weltfremden, alten Mann, zu konkurrieren. Jetzt habe ich mir gedacht: Gut, ich könnte ein paar Themen aus seinem Blog kommentieren. Aber dann habe ich mir den Blog angesehen und kein Thema gefunden, das mich interessiert hätte.

Der Prozess von Graz? Uninteressant.
Das Staatsdefizit? Schon oft darüber geschrieben, alles klar, nichts geschehen.
Der amerikanische Präsidentschaftswahlkampf? Was interessiert es mich schon, welcher der beiden Kollektivisten es wird.

Und so weiter.

Man muss diesen Beitrag mit einem Augenzwinkern lesen. Offenbar liegt es mir fern, mit diesem alten Mann konkurrieren zu wollen, zumal unser beider Interessengebiete zu verschieden voneinander sind. Stellt sich nur die Frage, wie man erreichen könnte, dass dieser Blog zum meistgelesenen Blog Österreichs, wenn nicht gar der Welt, wird.

Cancer Immunotherapy

The media report much about the novel cancer immunotherapy, which is about supporting the patient's immune system to combat cancer. It is considered a breakthrough and the greatest revolution in cancer treatment since the introduction of chemotherapy in the 1940s.

At the same time it must be said that the idea of programming immune cells to "destroy and kill" cancer cells still follows the old paradigm. The new paradigm "modify and repair" is actually the far greater innovation. Soy isoflavones are supposed to trigger a humoral/genomic cascade that enables the transformation of undifferentiated, dysfunctional cancer cells to differentiated, functional tissue.

As everybody is so enthusiastic about immunotherapy, it will perhaps still take a couple of years or even a decade until the new paradigm will be applied on a large scale. At least I will then be able to say that I already knew the principle back in 2014.

Samstag, 1. Oktober 2016

This blog is back!

I decided that it would not do much harm to put the entire blog online again and not only the "best-of" collection that was online in the past two years. So I spent the entire day adding more than 300 blog postings manually. I would like to comment on them a bit. I will do this in German since most of the old postings are in German.

Ich habe viel über die Mitglieder des österreichischen Hochintelligenzvereins geschrieben. Eigentlich zu viel der Aufmerksamkeit. Das sind einfache Menschen, die bloß durch Zufall darauf gekommen sind, dass sie einen hohen Intelligenzquotienten haben. Das einfache Volk ist nicht so erzogen wie ich, immer Bücher zu lesen und nachzudenken. Ich sollte mich über diese Leute nicht wundern. So ist eben die Normalbevölkerung. Tatsache ist, dass ich mit Jahresende 2014 aus dem Verein ausgetreten bin. Er ist für mich entbehrlich geworden, eher eine Last als eine Bereicherung.

Die andere Sache, zu der ich mich äußern möchte, ist meine Kritik an der christdemokratischen Partei. Ich würde sie nicht mehr so hart formulieren wie in den vergangenen Beiträgen. Mag sein, dass diese Partei gewisse hässliche Seiten aufweist, aber sie hat auch ihr Gutes: Sie ist für Privateigentum, und wenn es sie nicht gäbe, wäre Österreich wahrscheinlich entweder ein sozialistisches oder ein national-faschistisches Land.

Sonntag, 4. September 2016

Basic and Pascal

When I grew up there was a rivalry between Basic and Pascal programmers. Most people who started programming in the 1990s either started with Basic or Pascal. Those who used Pascal often conceived themselves as being superior to Basic programmers. That was mainly because it was so easy to program in Basic. You did not even have to define variables. Thus you were not forced to keep the number of variables low and your program might become bloated - bad coding style. However, some of the resentments were based on misconceptions. For instance, Pascal programmers who had no experience with then modern Basic dialects thought Basic meant that you had to use line numbers and write spaghetti code. That was not the case with dialects such as Quick Basic - you did not have to use line numbers and there were control structures such as do/loop which made the usage of the goto statement obsolete.

I was one of those who started with Basic and I do not regret it. In fact I have decided that I will use Basic in my sparetime again since it is far easier to get something to work in Basic than in any other programming language. Professionally I use C#, and I like this language, but Basic by far beats it as regards to its easiness of use.

Freitag, 2. September 2016

The German PC Diskmag Scene

The Internet enables every user to express their views and ideas and get them published. In the years prior to the advent of Internet access for the general population, it was almost impossible to get heard unless you were a professional journalist. Diskmags were a way to get published - almost the only way. While nowadays this aspect of diskmags is obsolete, nothing beats the charm of a good diskmag. Yet nobody really cares about releasing new diskmags.

In the years 1992 to 1995, there were several diskmags for IBM-compatible PC that issued in the German language. Six of them were pretty good, the others are not worth mentioning. The six decent diskmags were: Blackmail, Platinum, Skyline, MicroCode, HotMag and Suicide. All of these mags ceased to issue in 1996 or 1997. In 1996, two new mags were founded, Hugi and Cream. Cream stopped issuing after two years and Hugi became an English-language magazine in 1998. After 1998, there were only two short-lived German diskmags, WildMag and Image.

I feel sad that there is nothing comparable to a good diskmag these days. The forums with their rude participants are not a decent substitute.

Freitag, 8. Juli 2016

Computers and the Demoscene

My interest in computers stems from my childhood fascination for computer games. I read computer gaming magazines and invented games of my own, drawing sketches using pen and paper. That was what ultimately made me start learning to program.

The demoscene is something I got into more or less by accident. I was making a diskmag about general topics and we had a reader who insisted that the demoscene was the real thing, nobody had better computer skills than demosceners. Soon after that the main editor of the other German language diskmag that was released in those days, Cream, expressed his fascination with the demoscene and announced that he was going to remodel his diskmag as a demoscene magazine. As a coincidence this was the time when I got Internet access and I used the Net primarily for chatting on IRC, where I was mostly using channels related to the demoscene. There I met the scener Salami who believed in Hugi's potential and suggested that I should make Hugi a demoscene-related magazine in the English language. This is how I eventually got involved in the demoscene.

My involvement with the demoscene was strongly connected with my activities regarding Hugi. In these days I spent almost all of my sparetime working on Hugi. So I did not have time even to think about pursuing another project, such as a demo or intro. This is why my involvement with the demoscene remained to fulfill the role of the diskmag editor.

When I was no longer spending so much time working on Hugi after enrolling at university, I sometimes might even have had time to start creating demos or intros myself. However, I realized I actually did not feel the urge to do so. I had no longing for expressing myself artistically. I realized that my original fascination for the demoscene was due to my admiration of these people's technical skills. As I had programming knowledge, I knew how difficult it was to implement fast graphics code. But the scene had changed. The scene focused on technical aspects until about the turn of the century. Then, with 3D accelerated hardware and strong processors, it gradually became an art scene and this wasn't what I was interested in. As a side project to making Hugi, I had been organizing size optimizing competitions for Assembler programmers for several years. This corresponded very much to my own interests regarding programming: how to implement programs in such a way that the resulting executable is as tiny as possible. Demos and intros were more of applied science. The focus was not on code optimizing skills but on using these skills to create something beautiful. I was more interested in the raw technology.

It may be awkward that I still check out demoscene websites every day, but for some reason I haven't found any community site that would catch my interest more. I coded two intros in my life as an adult, Indian Summer and Whirlsphere. I don't think I will ever start coding demos or intros on a regular basis. Some years ago I coded a couple of games and game coding appeals a bit more to me than demo coding since a game is not primarily about aesthetics but about function. In my computer science studies I was most fascinated by the theory of computation - topics such as automata theory, formal languages, complexity theory and the like caught my primary interest. I have a penchant for things that are difficult to understand, they make me use my brain and I will not stop until I have figured out everything in detail. But that's another topic.

Dienstag, 5. Juli 2016

Changing...

I read at the website of the Medical University of Vienna that there is now a mentoring program for alumni. This changes so much for me. It is hard to explain, but the way I perceive the world and myself is affected by this. I have always experienced the world as a place where you have to fight your way through. I was strong and altruistic, I helped others, but I have never expected to get any help when I was in need of it. The educational system here in Austria has always made me feel that a competition was going on in which only the best would prevail. Now the existence of a mentoring program for alumni is the first thing that seems like you can actually expect help from others. The feeling that you have a right to get help is overwhelming, it is a completely new experience for me. The idea that you do not have to fight alone for your well-being, that you do not have to hide insecurity and weakness is awesome. But it has even further consequences: Not considering taking aid a defeat makes me think of society in a less hierarchical manner. You need not earn a privilege and fight for your position incessantly. It makes me think that instead of who you are, what matters is what you do.