Category Archives: Social issues ( be civil ! )

Quotas by any other name

I received the following from Drew Faust, president of Harvard University, 2 days ago.  My comments are at the end.  I’d be interested in what readers think about the issue. Click “Post a Comment” at the end to do so.

Harvard University - Office of the President

Dear Alumni and Friends,

In the weeks and months ahead, a lawsuit aimed to compromise Harvard’s ability to compose a diverse student body will move forward in the courts and in the media. As the case proceeds, an organization called Students for Fair Admissions—formed in part to oppose Harvard’s commitment to diversity—will seek to paint an unfamiliar and inaccurate image of our community and our admissions processes, including by raising allegations of discrimination against Asian-American applicants to Harvard College. These claims will rely on misleading, selectively presented data taken out of context. Their intent is to question the integrity of the undergraduate admissions process and to advance a divisive agenda. Please see here for more information about the case.

Year after year, Harvard brings together a community that is the most varied and diverse that any of us is likely ever to encounter. Harvard students benefit from working and living alongside people of different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives as they prepare for the complex world that awaits them and their considerable talents.

I have affirmed in the past, and do so again today, that Harvard will vigorously defend its longstanding values and the processes by which it seeks to create a diverse educational community. We will stand behind an approach that has been held up as legal and fair by the Supreme Court, one that relies on broad and extensive outreach to exceptional students in order to attract excellence from all backgrounds.

As this case generates widespread attention and comment, Harvard will react swiftly and thoughtfully to defend diversity as the source of our strength and our excellence—and to affirm the integrity of our admissions process. A diverse student body enables us to enrich, to educate, and to challenge one another. As a university community, we are bound across differences by a shared commitment to learning, to pursuing truth, and to embracing the rigor and respect of argument and evidence. We never give up on the promise of a world made better by an assumption revisited, an understanding expanded, or a truth questioned—again and again and again.

Last month, I presided over our Commencement Exercises for a final time and reveled in the accomplishments of our graduates and alumni, and in the joy and pride of the faculty who educated them, the staff who enabled their manifold successes, and the family members who helped nurture them and their aspirations. Tercentenary Theatre was filled with individuals from the widest range of backgrounds and life experiences. It was a powerful reminder that the heart of this extraordinary institution is its people.

Now, we have an opportunity to stand together and to defend the ideals and the people that make our community so extraordinary. I am committed to ensuring that veritaswill prevail.

Drew Faust 

© 2018 The President and Fellows of Harvard College |

Harvard University | Massachusetts Hall | Cambridge, MA 02138

Dr Faust:

You are not defending diversity — you are defending quotas against Asians as Harvard did against Jews years ago — and I’m not Asian

 M. S.  Chemistry 1962

Tom Wolfe R. I. P

Tom Wolfe has passed on.  It’s worth republishing an appreciation of him and how he changed writing in America. It contains links to a 3 part review of what was probably his last book “The Kingdom of Speech”

Tom Wolfe — an appreciation

Tom Wolfe’s writing style and the genre he created have been part of the intellectual wallpaper for so long, that it’s easy to forget how badly he was needed. The following is quite autobiographical, but it does put his emergence in context.

Intellectually isolated adolescents in the early 50s read books, lots of them (minimal TV of any intellectual content, no internet etc. etc.) I had plenty of time in high school, with two 16 mile rides on the school bus each day. So I managed to read a book a day my senior year in high school. I particularly loved Balzac and Dickens for the way they wrote about all levels of society.

So although I was fairly well read on entry into Princeton in the fall of 1956, I was a geographic naif, never really having travelled west of Philly. I was a social naif as well, with only 6/24 boys in my high school class going on to collage. The ones that didn’t went into the military, law enforcement or the trades. None of the 24 girls got further education, initially at least. This was not a high or wealthy social background. I was the first member of my family not to go to Rutgers (the state school of New Jersey).

The Princeton Triangle Club put on a rather sophomoric show each year which toured the east coast and midwest on Christmas break. Earlier famous members included Jimmy Stewart and Josh Logan. Later, after women were admitted, Brooke Shields. I was good enough to make pianist in the pit band for the show and did this for two years.  The incredibly creative guy writing the shows was Clark Gesner, who soon after wrote “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown” and essentially retired in his late 20s.

The class of 1959 was the first at Princeton to have more High School graduates than preppies. To the alums that put us up in their homes after the show, it was assumed that we were to the manor born (as many of them were).

Seeing upper class society was quite an education. After each show the performers (and band) were invited to debutante parties. I’d never seen anything like it, and none of the American novels I’d read dealt with it. The musicians in the band would listen to the society orchestras playing (Lester Lanin, Peter Duchin, Meyer Davis) and dance with the debs. In Chicago, I even was the male presenting one debutante, rather than a local — probably because she was Jewish and none of the locals would do it. In Grosse Point Michigan the following exchange occurred with a deb who seemed intelligent. Where do you go to school? Oh someplace back East. How do you like the party? Enough for me to decide not to attempt to become part of that world (not that it was ever possible).

Then in grad school at Harvard, I met extremely intelligent guys from the West Coast (Caltech, Berkeley, Brigham Young) who were reading “Road and Track” in all seriousness (camp hadn’t been invented yet). Road and track was for the guys back home who went to work in garages, and dragraced with each other.

No one in the 50s and early 60s was writing about this stuff — here’s a link to the best-sellers of the 50s —
if you don’t believe me. Some were good (To Kill a Mockingbird). A lot were by foreigners (Dr. Zhivago, Francois Sagan, Simone de Beauvoir).

We had this fascinating diverse society, and our literature wasn’t dealing with it — that is until Tom Wolfe came along. He wrote about car customizers, astronauts, high society, low society, enjoying it all. These weren’t thought to be the stuff of serious literature until then. Some of the best sellers back then bore the same relationship to reality (Marjorie Morningstar, Not as a Stranger) as the Doris Day Rock Hudson movies of the time bore to the sexual interactions of male and female.

So hats off to Tom Wolfe. He’s still writing — I recommend his latest – “The Kingdom of Speech” about which I wrote 3 posts. Although the book starts in Victorian England, it winds up in the USA with Chomsky and company and the social high jinks of the left, which Wolfe has been skewering for decades. Here’s a link to one of the posts —

Cultural appropriation, neuroscience division

If Deng Xiaoping can have Socialism with Chinese Characteristics, I can have a Chinese saying with neuroscientific characteristics — “The axon and the dendrite are long and the nucleus is far away” mimicking “The mountains are high and the Emperor is far away”. The professionally offended will react to the latest offense du jour — cultural appropriation  — of course.  But I’m entitled and I spoke to my Chinese daughter in law, and people over there found it flattering and admiring of Chinese culture that the girl in Utah wore a Chinese cheongsam dress to her prom.

Back to the quote.  “The axon and the dendrite are long and the nucleus is far away”.  Well, neuronal ends are far away from the cell body — the best example are axons from the sacral spinal cord which in an NBA player can be a yard long.  But forget that, lets talk about the ends of dendrites which are much closer to the cell body than that.

Presumably neurons have different types of dendrites so they can respond to different types of inputs. Why should dendrites respond identically if their inputs are different? They don’t.    A dendrite responding to acetyl choline will express neurotransmitter receptors distinct from another dendrite on the same neuron distinct from a dendrite responding to dopamine.  The protein cohorts of axons and dendrites are different.  How does this come about?  Because the untranslated part of mRNA on the 3′ end (3’UTR) contains a sequence called a zipcode which binds to specific proteins which then move the mRNA to a specific location in the neuron (axon or dendrite).  Presumably all dendrites initially had the same complement of mRNA.

So depending on what’s happening at a particular dendrite on a neuron, more or less of a given protein is made.   This is way too abstract.  Suppose you want to strengthen a synapse.  You’d make more of a neurotransmitter receptor or an ion channel for whatever transmitter that dendrite is getting.

It is well established that axons and dendrites store mRNAs and make proteins from them far from the nucleus (aka the emperor).  If you think about it, just how a receptor for dopamine gets to a dendrite receiving dopamine and not to a dendrite (on the same neuron) getting glutamic acid as a transmitter, is far from clear.  There are zipcodes distinguishing axons from dendrites, but I’m unaware that there are zipcodes for dopamine dendrites distinct from other types of dendrites.

If that weren’t enough consider [ Neuron vol. 98 pp. 495 – 511 ’18 ].  Even for an mRNA coding for the same protein (presumably transcribed from just one gene), there can be more than one type of 3’UTR (and this in the same cell).  Note also that 3’UTRs are longer in neurons than in other tissues.

So the authors looked at the mRNAs in dendrites — they did this by choosing a tissue (the hippocampus) where rows of cell bodies are well separated from their dendrites.  They found that for a given dendritic mRNA there was more than one 3’UTR, and that the mRNAs with longer 3’UTRs had longer halflives.  Even more exquisitly neuronal activity altered the proportion of the different 3’UTR isoforms. The phenomenon is quite general — over 50% of all genes and over 70% of genes enriched in neurons showed multiple 3′ UTRs.

So there is a whole control system built into the dendritic system, and it varies with what is happening locally.

The emperor emits directives (mRNAs) but what happens locally is anyone’s guess

A Touching Mother’s Day Story

Yes, a touching mother’s day story for you all. It was 51 years ago (yes over half a century ago ! ! ), and I was an intern at a big city hospital on rotation in their emergency room in a rough neighborhood. The ER entrance was half a block from an intersection with a bar on each corner. On a Saturday night, we knew better than to try to get some sleep before 2AM or until we’d put in 2 chest tubes (to drain blood from the lungs, which had been shot or stabbed). The bartenders were an intelligent lot — they had to be quick thinking to defuse situations, and we came to know them by name. So it was 3AM 51 years ago and Tyrone was trudging past on his way home, and I was just outside the ER getting some cool night air, things having quieted down.

“Happy Mother’s day, Tyrone” sayeth I

“Thanks Doc, but every day is Mother’s day with me”

“Why, Tyrone?”

“Because every day I get called a mother— “


Very sad — Nature vol. 557 p. 144 ’18 (10 May) “PNAS resignation On 1 May, Inder Verma, a cancer researcher at the Salk Institute for Biological Sciences in La Jolla, California, resigned as editor-in-chief of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The move comes after the publication of an investigation by Science, in which several female researchers who were either at the institute or had ties to it between 1976 and 2016 allege that Verma harassed them. Verma, who served on powerful committees at the institute, vehemently denied the allegations in a statement to Nature. The Salk Institute suspended him on 21 April while it investigates the claims.”

Why sad?  Because my late Princeton classmate and good friend Nick Cozzarelli edited PNAS for 10 years.  He died far too soon at 68 of Burkitt’s lymphoma after doing great work on DNA gyrase.  From the Wiki about him ” In 1995, Cozzarelli was invited to become the editor-in-chief of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. He took the position because felt that the journal had great unrealized potential as a scientific publication.[3] During his tenure, he expanded the editorial board from 26 to more than 140 and created a second track to allow scientists to submit manuscripts directly.”

Nick was credited for strongly increasing the quality and influence of PNAS.  This was recognized by the journal in the form of the Cozzarelli prizes established a year after his death.  There are 6 chosen from the more than 3,200 research articles appearing in the journal each year, representing the six broadly defined classes under which the National Academy of Sciences is organized.

A social note:  Although Princeton University was the home of many bluebloods in the late 50s, this was not true of all.  Nick went through Princeton on scholarship (waiting on tables in commons etc. etc.).  He was the son of an immigrant shoemaker from Jersey City.  Hopefully Princeton is still doing this.

Addendum 10 May — a friend said  ”

Your blog post seems to be one big non sequitur.
I doubt that harassment victims are “sad” that their complaints are finally getting heard and acted on. The fact that Verma’s behavior was allowed to continue all these years reflects poorly on the Salk Institute, but I don’t see how it reflects poorly on PNAS, where he was simply an editor and has now resigned. Essentially, Verma received PNAS submissions while sitting at his desk (at the Salk Institute) and declared “yes” or “no.”  I don’t see how your late friend Nick’s PNAS legacy has been sullied by any of that. “
To which I replied

No it’s sad because of what Verma’s behavior (at Salk and likely as PNAS editor) would have meant to Nick (and how he loved PNAS), given the type of guy Nick was.  My late father (an attorney) and uncle (a judge) took things the same way when a lawyer got disbarred for some malfeasance or other, e.g. as a reflection on the institution of the legal profession.   They took it personally as a reflection on them.  Perhaps illogically, but that’s the way they and Nick were. “

The bias of the unbiased

A hilarious paper from Stanford shows the bias of the unbiased [ Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. vol. 115 pp. E3635 – E3644 ’18 ].  No one wants to be considered biased or to use stereotypes, but this paper indicts all of us.  They use a technique called word embedding to look at a large body of printed material (Wikipedia, Google news articles etc. etc.) over the past 100 years, to look for word associations  -e.g. male trustworthy female submissive and the like. In word embedding models, each word in a given language is associated with a high dimensional vector (not clear to me how the dimensions are chosen) and the metric between the words is measured.  A metric is simply a mathematical device that takes two objects and associates a number with them.  The distance between cities is a good example.


The vector for France is close to vectors for Austria and Italy.  The difference between London and England (obtained by subtracting them) is parallel to the difference between to the difference between Paris and France.  This allows embeddings to capture analogy relationships such as London is to England as Paris is to France.

So word embeddings were used as a way to study gender and ethnic stereotypes in the 20th and 21st centuries in the USA.  Not only that but they plotted how the biases changed over time.

So in your mind the metric between bias == bad, stereotype == worse is clear

So just as women’s occupations have changed so have the descriptors of women.  Back in the day women, if they worked out of the home at all, were teachers or nurses.  A descendent of Jonathan Edwards was a grade school teacher in the town of my small rural high school.

As women moved into the wider workforce from them the descriptors of them changed.  The following is a pair of direct quotes from the article.”

“More importantly, these correlations are very similar over the decades, suggesting that the relationship between embedding bias score and “reality,” as measured by occupation participation, is consistent over time” ….”This consistency makes the interpretation of embedding bias more reliable; i.e., a given bias score corresponds to approximately the same percentage of the workforce in that occupation being women, regardless of the embedding decade.”

English translation:  As women’s percentage of workers in a given occupation changed the ‘bias score’ changed with it.

So what the authors describe and worse, define, as bias and stereotyping is actually an accurate perception of reality.  We’re all guilty.

The authors are following Humpty Dumpty in Alice in Wonderland  — ““When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.” “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.” “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.”

I find the paper hilarious and an example of the bias of the supposedly unbiased.

Where are the native Americans ?

When I practiced neurology in Montana in the 70’s and 80’s I would have received some very strange looks from my Crow or Cheyenne patients if I called them ‘native Americans’.  They called themselves Indians and everyone else did too.  Clearly the definition has changed, so it may be OK if I change it again to mean someone who was born in the USA rather than abroad (like my two grandchildren born in Hong Kong).

I sometimes eat breakfast with an electrical engineering prof at the local diner.  I was interested in whether applications to grad school had fallen off.  He said they had.  I assumed that the fall off  was from the middle east, but he said his students were mostly from China and India.  Then he went on and said that Americans (by which I mean native Americans) simply weren’t going for higher degrees in engineering. This was completely different (in Chemistry at least) back in the early 60s.  Our whole cohort was US born and bred, except for one Sikh.  The postDocs were from all over — Scotland, Japan, India (particularly Sikh’s).


Well nearly 60 years is a long time, so I asked a family member EE PhD about it.  Here’s what he said

“I don’t have statistics from Berkeley grad school 1975-80, when I was there, but it certainly seemed like U.S.-born grad students were a minority — and a small one — in the EECS department.

One of the issues here is that in many cultures around the world, especially in developing countries, engineers sit at or near the top of the socio-economic heap. So bright students outside the U.S. want to become engineers while bright U.S.-born students want to become medical doctors and lawyers. I’ve heard various comments about this over the years from my foreign colleagues. They find it amusing that medical doctors and lawyers are so venerated here in the U.S.”
It is remarkable that there had been such a change in 15 years.  Granted that the engineers were mostly at MIT, most of the people I knew there in the 60s were American born.
So yesterday at Harvard Graduate Alumni Day, I asked for the (rough) percentage of foreign born grad students (in everything) and was told it was about 1/3.  Also that their applications were up.
This is good for Harvard, but if what is going on at the local State University is typical of the rest of the country it does not bode well for us. Back in the day, a friend said that the universal scientific language was broken English.  Of the 7 Nobels of the Harvard Chemistry department since the 60s, three (Bloch, Hoffmann, Karplus) were born abroad and got out because they were Jewish.  One hid in an attic for 18 months as a child.

An unhappy anniversary

The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the xxxx’s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. At this late date nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate.

Pretty serious stuff.  Written 50 years ago, “The Population Bomb” by Paul Ehrlich had enormous impact.  However the xxxx elision concerned the 1970s.

4 years later The Club of Rome released the following broadside, “The Limits to Growth”Here is a direct quote from the jacket flap.

“Will this be the world that your grandchildren with thank you for? A world where industrial production has sunk to zero. Where population has suffered a catastrophic decline. Where the air, sea and land are polluted beyond redemption. Where civilization is a distant memory. This is the world that the computer forecasts. What is even more alarming, the collapse will not come gradually, but with awsome suddenness, with no way of stopping it”

This sort of stuff is why the elderly (such as myself who will turn 80 this month) gradually become more and more cynical.   Unfortunately, over half the people alive today have no memories of these two debacles.  If you want to read more on this buy a book by a Yale Professor, Paul Sabin called “The Bet” concerning the intellectual conflict between Paul Ehrlich — he of the population bomb and Julian Simon. Ehrlich said we’d run out of just about everything shortly (presumably because of too many people), so economist Simon bet him that we wouldn’t. The intellectual war began in earnest in the 80’s and dragged on for a decade or so. I recommend the book and I think it really does capture the flavor of the times and the debate.  In it you will find John Holdren, Obama’s science advisor, also a devout malthusian, although with a degree in physics.

The current barrage over global warming seems to be diminishing.  Particularly damning is the failure of the models to predict the absence of any change in global temperature for 17 years.  I tried not to be turned off by the similarly apocalyptic and Old Testament Prophetic tone of the proponents.  But any scientific theory to  be any good (aside from Evolution, and String theory) must make testable predictions, and those about climate have consistently failed for 20 years.

Res ipsa loquitur

I received the following Email from today.  It is such a parody of political correctness gone mad that it might be fake news.  If so I’ll retract it.

Here it is unedited.

THE COLLEGE’S policy to sanction members of unrecognized single-gender social organizations (USGSOs) won’t require that students make an oath-like affirmation that they don’t belong to such clubs. That controversial measure had originally been recommended in a March 2017 report to College dean Rakesh Khurana by a committee examining implementation. Dean of students Katie O’Dair, whose office is tasked with enforcing the policy, announced the implementation plan in an email to College students this morning; the Office of Student Life (OSL) has created a website with details.

The policy, as previously reported, prohibits students who have belonged to single-gender social organizations (including final clubs and Greek organizations) within the previous year from receiving College endorsement for fellowships, or holding leadership positions in recognized student organizations or athletic teams. It applies to students matriculating in the fall of 2017 (current freshmen) or later. The Harvard Corporation voted to retain the sanctions in December, after a year and a half of intense debate across the Harvard community that included concerns over gender equality, students’ freedom of association, and faculty governance of the College.

OSL appears to have created a less punitive plan than what was recommended by last year’s implementation committee, in response, presumably, to widespread criticism of the recommendation that students make an oath-like affirmation of their compliance with the policy. “We are approaching this with trust, honesty, and transparency,” O’Dair said in an interview. “What we did not accept is any pledge or affirmation by students.”

“We are not going to take any efforts to go find students” in violation of the policy, she added. Instead, it will be enforced similarly to other misconduct issues (such as the alcohol policy), which generally prompt a disciplinary process only when violations have escalated enough to be brought to the administration. The College also won’t accept anonymous reports of policy violations.

The policy will be added to the Handbook for Students, which means that it will have to come before the faculty for discussion and debate (prior ambiguity about whether the faculty could debate the language was a point of contention last year).

The sanctions will affect all fellowships administered by the Office of Undergraduate Research and Fellowships: not just top fellowships like the Rhodes and Marshall scholarships, but also Harvard-specific programs like the Harvard-Cambridge Scholarship. Student groups affected will include official student organizations, pre-orientation programs, Phillips Brooks House Association programs, and athletic teams. The policy won’t affect members of The Harvard Crimson or the Undergraduate Council (the implementation committee had recommended these organizations be included, which Khurana did not accept because of their independent nature).

OSL is working with some single-gender social groups, including male and female final clubs, to become gender-inclusive. Such groups are “on the path to compliance,” associate dean of student engagement Alexander Miller said, and membership in those entities will not be sanctioned. Throughout the spring and summer, OSL will develop criteria for such groups to be considered compliant with College regulations for recognized student organizations. (Last year’s implementation committee recommended, for example, that they be required to publicly list their demographic makeup). It’s still unclear what will be required, and depending on what the final plan looks like, members of a group that becomes co-ed but doesn’t want to become recognized by the College in any official capacity (for example, to avoid regulation) may still be subject to sanctions.

“We feel very positive about the impact of this policy on campus,” O’Dair said. “Certainly there will be groups that want to continue, as is their choice, to be single-gender-focused, and all we would ask is they inform their prospective members in their recruitment of the policy.”

OSL will also create a framework for governing social groups, envisioned as a new category of recognized student organizations. “When you bring to campus social organizations that are fully around the idea of socializing, there are things that I would have to think about from where I sit that I wouldn’t have to think about with the math club,” Miller explained. “There’s a lot of liability when you throw a bunch of College students in a room to socialize.”

Violations “will be reviewed via the College’s usual processes for addressing concerns about community standards,” the policy states. “As described in the Handbook, issues relating to social misconduct are reviewed by the Administrative Board, while concerns related to academic integrity and the Honor Code are reviewed by the Honor Council.” The expectation is that violations will be heard by the Ad Board (and not the Honor Council, which was created expressly to investigate violations of academic conduct); the dean of the College will determine the appropriate adjudicating organization if questions about jurisdiction arise.

Although the implementation committee recommended a five-year “bridge period” to give women’s organizations extra time to transition to gender-inclusive membership, OSL has not adopted that recommendation. Instead, OSL will provide “dedicated support” to women’s organizations that want to transition to gender-inclusive membership. “[W]e welcome all organizations, and especially those whose membership is currently restricted to women, to partner with us,” the policy states. “Heidi Wickersham, Program Manager at the Harvard College Women’s Center, and staff members in the Office of Student Life will jointly partner with groups wishing to transition from having a women’s exclusive membership while maintaining a women’s-focused mission.”  ”

The same issue (May June) has an article title “The Mirage of Knowledge” with subtitle “Tom Nichols dissects the dangerous antipathy to expertise”.  They actually wonder why. Harvard has harnessed its expertise to find the single perfect, true and good form of social organization and be damned if you don’t like it.

In a way Harvard is returning to their Puritan antecedents.  Look what they did to Roger Williams. Here’s a bit from the Wikipedia entry – — “Williams was expelled by the Puritan leaders from the Massachusetts Bay Colony for spreading “new and dangerous ideas”, and he began settling the Providence Plantations as a refuge offering what he called “liberty of conscience” in 1636. In 1638, he founded the First Baptist Church in America, also known as the First Baptist Church of Providence.”

The old social tropes keep coming back.  What else but the Salem witch trials could the treatment of the Amirault’s be? —

Hillary Clinton’s latest health event

On a recent trip to India Hillary clearly had difficulty placing her left foot and nearly fell down a set of stairs twice.  You can watch the video on the following website  Please ignore all the snarkiness of the commentary and just look at the video over and over.  She comes out of an old building and starts going down some worn stone steps linking her left arm into that of a large man.  Stop the video when she begins to fall and notice how she placed her left foot.  Fortunately you can go back and forth as many times as you wish.  It clearly wasn’t where it should have been. The same thing happened with her second near fall.  Then watch the way she places her left leg as she walks to the car.  It’s as though she doesn’t really know where it is.

This all fits with my opinion that she suffered a stroke in December of 2012.  The press bought what I thought was a rather hokey explanation that it was traumatic in origin.  At any rate we do know that she had a blood clot in a vein and had double vision lasting for several weeks.  You can read the reasoning behind this here —

Then during the campaign in 2016 at an event to commemorate 9/11 she fainted.  The press cast this as a stumble, but I don’t think it was. Once again you have a video of the event with a link to it in a post about the event —  As Richard Pryor famously said when his wife caught him with another woman. He denies anything is going on, and asks his wife, “Who you gonna believe, me or your lying eyes?”

So what does this retired neurologist and former board examiner think is going on?  Given the little released about her health there are many possibilities.  Statistically people who have had one stroke have around a 6% chance of another one in a given year (each and every year).  Given the way she didn’t seem to know where her left foot was, a stroke in the right parietal region is a possibility.

It is clear that the original area of neurologic deficit in 2012 – 13 was in the brainstem, as it affect the nerves to her eyes.  This is an area intimately involved in coordination, but (fortunately) not in thinking.  So she may have suffered a further stroke in this area.  We don’t know if she’s still taking a blood thinner.

She did look pretty frail, and it’s fortunate for her health that she doesn’t have the stresses of the presidency to deal with.

Addendum 14 March: Apparently she tripped/fell/passed out while on a tour in England breaking a toe 6 months ago

You don’t have to go to medical school or take a neurology residency to know that a 70 year old woman with 4 neurological events in the past 5 years and 3 months is not in good shape.

Addendum 15 March: Unfortunately she’s had another fall, resulting in a fractured wrist since the episode on the stairs. Here’s the report —

It all adds up to a significant neurological problem with balance.