Emptying out the mailbag and clearing the history #14

Posted on June 8, 2016

(Last Updated On: May 20, 2017)

Other mailbags can be found hereKeep in mind a lot of this is email conversations, comment replies, or some random interesting things I’ve found. By their nature they are not as thorough or complete as a post on one topic.

Here’s what’s covered in this installment:

Uhh, does Jeff Bezos read this site???

In Changing our energy situation starts with changing our behavior I wrote,

“We have been remarkably consistent increasing our energy use over time, at 2.9% per year, since 1650. Just leveling off some recently.

Even if a solar panel, breaking the laws of nature, was 100% efficient, in 345 years, every ounce of land would have to be covered with solar panels to meet our needs by that point!

And few countries live the way Americans do. There is plenty of room at the top. There is plenty of room for the rest of the population to expend as little energy as we do in favor of machines expending that energy.

In this Jeff Bezos interview he says,

“I think we want to continue to progress our civilization, and to do that, we need to continue to progress our energy usage. Take current energy usage planetwide. Compound it to 3 percent a year. And by the way, I think 3 percent could be low, because so many people are coming up out of poverty, which is a good thing. But as soon as they do that, the first thing that they want to do is use more energy. In just a handful of centuries, you will have to cover the entire Earth with solar cells, or at least all of the land mass of the Earth with solar cells.”

I got the solar thing from this physics professor’s site, so maybe Jeff got it there too. But then Jeff did the below interview and at the 7:20 mark goes,

“We’re also very power efficient. So AlphaGo, which is a really impressive achievement, beat the world’s best Go player as you guys undoubtedly know, but you know he’s operating on about 50 watts. If AlphaGo had to be limited to 50 watts he’d have creamed it.”

In Where AlphaGo and Boston Dynamics are still falling short (putting Lee Sedol’s loss in a different context) I wrote,

  • ” (1202 CPU * 145 watts per CPU) + (176 GPU * 1700 watts per GPU) = 473,490 watts

This matches up with a pioneer of AlphaGo’s technology and Google employee’s take, which is that AlphaGo was likely using “hundreds of kilowatts.” 473,490 watts => 473 kilowatts. We’re right there.

Alright, and what does the human brain get up to?

  • 20 watts”

(I think Jeff may have accidentally stated 50 instead of 20.)

I searched around a lot before writing that article to see if someone else already ran the numbers or wrote about the discrepancy between power efficiency of the brain vs the AlphaGo program, and did not find much. (Hence, the article.)

Soooo, hey Jeff?


Good artificial intelligence interview

With Pedro Domingos. Thought the interviewer did a nice job of pushing back and not just accepting some of the commonly said things about this topic.

“Sugar Shock: Insulin costs tipled in 10 years”

“In the time period studied, the total cost of insulin more than tripled, from $231 a year to $736 a year for each patient, in 2013 dollars. The cost per milliliter of insulin nearly tripled in that same time, from $4.34 to $12.92.

And in the same period, the average annual usage went from 171 mL to 206 mL, as prescribed doses went up. This likely happened due to increasing overweight and obesity, which increase the amount of insulin needed by a person, as well as new national recommendations that stress lower sugar levels for all people with diabetes.”

From Science Daily.

“The promise and peril of the genomic revolution”

The statement which stood out the most to me in this talk was how millions of dollars have been spent looking for an intelligence gene, and if you look at the most powerful one found so far, it gives…one point for IQ.

Russia’s efforts to pass drug testing at the last winter olympics

Charlie Francis said it 30 years ago and it still rings true today, the athletes will always be ahead of the testing.


Miscellaneous notes on meniscus subluxations and meniscus repairs


First, I wanted to thank you for your blog and the information you’ve provided to the general public.  I’ve found it to be very educational and more nuanced and accessible to the layman than other information out there.

I found your blog researching a chronic condition of mine that I’ve had since I was a teenager which results in locking of both knees when pressure is applied when either leg (it’s a bilateral problem, more left than right) is fully flexed and my foot is plantar flexed. Usually, in this position my knee will feel very unstable and will feel like it partially slides out of joint or subluxes causing it to lock up when pressure is applied to the side of my toes while my foot is plantar flexed (say, for example, when I’m sitting cross-legged). When this locking occurs, I can usually reduce whatever is out of place on my own to restore movement, and although there may be some lingering irritation in the joint, it would be as if nothing ever occurred.

I was never in a position to see a orthopedist about the problem, but through a long process of internet research, self-diagnosed it as ligamentous laxity and, first, a patella tracking issue, then later this year as either a tib/fib subluxation or meniscus subluxation.  This year, at age 40, I was finally able to see an orthopedist at Kerlan Jobe about it (I’m in OC), and after a somewhat brief superficial physical exam, he diagnosed it as maybe a slight ligament laxity with some possible patella issue.  I did a round of somewhat half-assed (in my opinion) general PT that mostly involved the usual glute med/abductor/theraband strengthening and some graston massage of my super-tight calves.

At first, I think that the PT thought I was just some super-active middle aged white guy professional who didn’t know how to allow for recovery time.  Then, one day during therapy while the PT was doing a assisted supine piriformis stretch to my left leg, the knee slid, I stopped him, and reduced myself.  The PT did some physical exam of the knee, said he had never seen anything like it, told me that there wasn’t really anything that could be done, and dismissed me from care the same day.

Two weeks ago during jiu jitsu class (my sport of choice), the slide occurred with a pop, except for this time, I was unable to reduce on my own.  To make a long story short, I sustained a bucket handle tear of the meniscus.  The same Kerlan Jobe ortho performed a arthroscopic meniscus repair last Tueday, and I write to you now hooked up to a passive motion machine on my fourth miserable day of recovery.  Reading your ACL/meniscus blog entries have been extremely beneficial in helping me deal with all of this.  Can’t wait to bend my damn leg again hopefully next Tuesday. So, if you don’t mind, some questions:

  • How’s your ACL/meniscus? Back to full activity?
  • Understanding that you can’t provide a diagnosis, have you ever heard of anything like my condition?  I feel like I’m going crazy.
  • Knowing that each individual is different, any insight on how your recovery would’ve differed if you only had the meniscus repair and did not sustain the ACL injury?
  • The Dr. has assured me that I’ll return to BJJ in no time, but based on the anecdotal accounts available on the internet, repairs to wrestlers/BJJ/Judo athletes usually only result in re-tear and eventual removal.  These sports simply involve too many unpredictable angles and wear and tear on the knees.  I don’t want to have to stop, but my knees are already wonky to begin with and I never want to go through this again.  Any thoughts?
  • Any experience or knowledge on Regenexx/PRP to aid in success/longevity of repairs or in general?
  • I read this article and found it fascinating. In the event that I’m going to have a “weak” meniscus and have these ongoing knee issues, any chance I’m just not cut out for BJJ?  If so, I’m in the search for alternative activities that would be suitable for me.  Any suggestions? Swimming, pilates, or something else super boring?

Thanks so much for your time and for humoring my lengthy email. Hope you have a great weekend.

Take care.




Hey Brad,

Nice to meet you and thanks for the nice words.

-While you may have seen in the one of the ACL posts I recommend not relying on other people’s experience too much, my knee is good. In the last ten days I hiked 6 miles, deadlifted heavily four times, played tennis once, basketball twice, and went for a mile run.

-I haven’t worked with someone but I’ve read in the literature about people who are able to dislocate their meniscus. There are MRI studies examining these people with the knee locked. Example- http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14551555

If it were your patella, you would probably know it, as the kneecap would be out of the groove. (Pretty obvious.)

-Meniscus repair only and recovery can be faster than having an ACL. Six months or so tends to be recommended with a mensicus repair while ACL is often minimum nine months.

-Meniscus repair failure rates are very high. ~20% (mine failed- the stitches tore apart). Only goes up the older you are. If you truly only tore it a couple weeks ago and had surgery that quickly, that’s a good factor though.

-As to what you want to expose your body to again, hard for me to give any advice there. Plus, it’s quite early to be worrying about that. You first need to get back to walking. Then e.g. running. Then e.g. changing direction. Then e.g. simulating BJJ by yourself. Then you can assess getting in there with someone else.

In general, the more one changes direction, the more intensely it’s done, the more risk on the knees. If your goal is to really mitigate any future injury to them, then one of the simpler methods here activity wise is to not do anything with change of directions.

You’ll have to see how things go. Trying to make this decision when you’re in the acute and miserable post-op phase isn’t worthwhile. Similar to people who in the midst of a hangover say they’re never drinking again. Sure they are. Once they feel better.

-PRP seems futile besides some individuals saying they got something out of it. I know there are nuances in the technique that I haven’t kept up with though. For instance, Kobe Bryant got a lot of notoriety for doing this and he thinking it was a miracle for his knees. However he 1) Had to go to Germany for it due to regulations here (ala some difference in technique) 2) Had to do it every year. There may be something different out there now, as of a few years ago, it wasn’t doing anything the way it was done in the States at least.


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