Wednesday, February 17, 2021

RUSH LIMBAUGH Was a Radio Revolutionary

In the early 1980s, I did part-time political talk radio in Boston, as guided by the station pros. 

Their metric for success then was the number of calls one got. One temporarily successful show was that of a psychic, who did her thing with the callers. Eventually, someone realized this was too low even for talk radio: lots of callers, not much value, perhaps few listeners.

My political talk show (on WMEX-AM, then WITS-AM) was a rarity, being from the right, although Avi Nelson and David Brudnoy and Dan Rea were also of that persuasion. The pay rate was middle-class, but one hoped to be making a difference. 

What was hardest to do, and what Rush subsequently did so well, was talk without a guest and without callers, for long periods on his show, with ease, insight, humor, and courtesy. Furthermore, he later showed you could become rich from radio.

When Rush moved to New York and started his national show in 1988, I was among his first listeners, and I recognized his talent immediately, though I had no idea he would be so successful. He made what was hard look easy. 

Rush re-wrote the book on being a talk-show host, and we find most of his fellow hosts now following his lead. He showed how to make the talk genre thrive. It took courage to be different, and he flourished. 

I wish I could have known him personally. 

He is missed already.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

"What Would You Like to Watch?"

 "What would you like to watch?" I asked my quadriplegic, ventilator-dependent, beloved wife of 36 years, as I brought her in her wheelchair to our kitchen to spend an hour together watching TV, during her once-daily liberation from her bed.

I gave her a list of her usual preferences: Hallmark (romance), Food, Home & Garden. Usually, she chooses one and we hold hands and watch it. 

I have loved Tina Su since February 14, 1963. She can barely communicate now, her multiple sclerosis having attacked her once-brilliant brain, her breathing often too weak to produce audible speech, so we must read her lips.

What has not been destroyed is her loving concern for others, despite her plight. She often tells us, "I love you with all my heart." 

Usually, in response to my TV question, she chooses a channel and says little more, but this day she asked me, "What would you like to watch?"

Monday, February 8, 2021



Plausibly, the key metric is reduction in hospitalizations.

More likely, deaths will trump, partly because they are so final, partly because hospitalizations are still somewhat qualitative, but deaths are less ambiguous.

More complex measures, such as "quality-adjusted life-years of life expectancy" might make more sense but are less likely to get public acceptance.

REVIEW: Resurrected from Plato's Cave


Authors: Pete Delmonico & Virginia Nodhturft

Reviewer: Douglas Winslow Cooper, PhD


This memoir, ostensibly a novel, should be a movie, at least the first 100 pages of it. Triumph and tragedy, heartbreak and heroism, romance and rejection…it has all this and more.

The small-town son of an abusive, alcoholic father perseveres to make a success of his own life, even if he cannot save his whole family, especially his sorely abused mother.

Good looks and bad behavior add up to a father who cannot be trusted with drink, dough, or women, a man who terrorizes his family during an era of little recourse and few resources for those so badly treated.

Our hero, “Jack Long,” survives through intelligence, outstanding athletic talent, the help of a sympathetic coach, and, much later, the aid of a classmate with a big heart and extensive nursing expertise. He not only survives but eventually thrives, marrying his high-school crush, enjoying a fulfilling marriage and a successful career.

A happy ending? Not so fast. Jack’s wife has a stroke that incapacitates her, leading to her placement in a nursing home when Jack’s home-care efforts prove inadequate. For eight years he visits her twice a day, but her discouragement drags him down, and she becomes nearly suicidal.

Joel Osteen’s ministry connects with Jack, and with the encouragement of “Mary,” a former classmate shocked by what has happened to this once-healthy and once-prosperous friend, minister, ministry, friends, and faith pull Jack up from his depression and despair. A long struggle seems to raise his wife to acceptance of her situation, only to have her give up and soon after, die.

The narrative ends with Jack’s starting to contact more former friends and to ponder where he should live and with whom.

There are poems and lyrics written by the authors that address the emergence from “Plato’s cave,” where that philosopher imagined prisoners who could only see shadows rather than reality until they, like Jack, broke free to enter the world of the living.

The book ends with valuable lessons learned and other resources.

Any reader will be inspired by the examples of Jack and his friend Mary in overcoming the great difficulties that threatened to imprison Jack in Plato’s cave.


I have the good fortune of knowing one of the authors, Dr. Nodhturft, wife of my best friend, Phil Nodhturft, Jr. My congratulations go to her on the publication of her second book and on the success she has had in enriching, perhaps saving, the life of her co-author.  



Wednesday, February 3, 2021


TWO MASKS OR ONE? Douglas Winslow Cooper, Ph.D. 

To prevent hazardous particles from being inhaled, some people choose to use two face masks rather than one. This short article will examine that choice. 

Let Q be the total breathing rate for the person, as in liters/minute. It is the total of Q’ through the mask and Q” through the leaks in the seal to the face: 

Q = Q’ + Q”

Let p be the pressure difference between the space inside the mask and that outside of it. The flow for these two paths is proportional approximately to p: 

Q’ = k’ p 

Q” = k” p 

Q= (k’ + k”) p 

A simple case is two identical masks. The mask flow becomes about half that of a single mask, 

 Q’ = (k’/2) p 

 So, the total flow becomes 

 Q* = (k’/2 + k”) p*, 

a reduction versus one mask, unless the breather breathes harder and increases the difference in p between the outside and the inside of the mask 

To get the same flow as for a single mask, Q=Q*, 

 Q= (k’ + k”) p = (k’/2 + k”) p* 

The mask user will need to increase the inhalation pressure difference 

so (k’ + k”) p = (k’/2 + k”) p* 

p*/p = (k’ + k”) / (k’/2 + k”) 

 This increase in the pressure difference will increase the leakage through the seal to the face, a leakage that brings in unfiltered air. Less air will flow through the mask and be filtered, but filtered better. Whether this is a net gain depends on the details. 

Two limits are clear: 

1. A second mask that is almost perfectly filtering the air but is almost not allowing any air to go through it will lead to (unfiltered) leakage almost exclusively. 

In the limit, it blocks all flow except leakage, which is unfiltered, and it will accelerate fatigue of the breather. 

2. A second mask that filters well but supplies almost no resistance to flow will not increase fatigue, will not increase leakage, and will filter the air better than a single mask. If the mask is a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) mask, it will have near-perfect filtration singly, and little or no improvement would be expected from two of them, as raising the air flow resistance will cause more leakage at the seals.

Thus, using one HEPA mask seems optimal.