Sapolsky's Baboons

Among the most important scientific findings of the 20th century were those of Dr. Robert Sapolsky. His work was becoming an interesting but fairly straightforward study, until a freak accident turned it into a human turning point. (Don’t stop listening half-way through or you’ll miss it!) Sapolsky’s findings show that the kind of progress we dream about is unquestionably possible. That puts the burden back on us, of course… and that scares a lot of people… but let there be no more question, we CAN step into a better age.


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Science Has Won: Might Is Obsolete

Since the Bronze Age, human societies have been arranged around brute force. Even now, governments are monopolies of violence. More than that, the very structure of government serves one primary end: to deliver violence. All else is supplemental.

This model has survived on the fear of the ruled. And fundamentally, that boiled down to a fear of insufficiency. Acute fears – monstrous foreign invaders and so on – have always played a role, to be sure, but the bedrock fear was a sense among the populace of being insufficient to deal with the world, even with the help of one’s family.

Humanity, from the Bronze Age onward, has believed itself insufficient and felt a need to join with a large, violent entity if they were to survive. That image, however, is so far past its expiration date that its mold and rot are starting to show.

Buckminster Fuller, who saw this coming, explained it this way in 1981:

We can now take care of everybody at a higher standard of living than anybody has ever known. It does not have to be “you or me,” so selfishness is unnecessary and war is obsolete.

The scientific revolution has had its effects, and a sufficient number of us have risen to the occasion. We’ve transcended scarcity. We grow more food than we can eat, we know quite well how to build enough structures, medical care isn’t really a problem, and we have tremendous distribution abilities.

What Is Forbidden to Us

What we lack are structures of cooperation that are up to the task.

If we consider that we know how to provide everyone with food, shelter, medicine, and transportation, and if we further consider that we have more than enough people who want to do these things and others who are glad to work for them, we run smack into the realization that poverty and privation persist.

Clearly, our means of cooperating with one another have failed((Certainly there are people who are poor because they refuse to work, are drug addicted, etc., but they form a minority. More than that, nearly all of these would work if their only choice was “work or starve.” And if we are honest about it, we have to concede that mankind’s central organ of cooperation is the state. And if we continue in honesty, we concede two further things:

  • The state has made itself lord of cooperation, exerting final say over all commerce in the territory it dominates and enforcing that final say through an array of force-backed or directly forcible mechanisms… everything from court orders to SWAT teams.
  • Any means of cooperation that bypasses the state is attacked, first with propaganda and then with violence. Cooperation via other means is forbidden.

Science has transcended scarcity, but the state refuses to surrender its dominance. That millions or billions will suffer – do presently suffer – doesn’t matter. The operators of states want power, and the populace still believes that they need the mighty state in order to survive. They will not let go.

This, however, is a strategy doomed to failure.

It’s Only a Matter of Time

One by one and two by two, people are seeing the facts, that science has made privation obsolete and that centralized, bronze-aged structures are the primary obstacle.

This is not to say that a decentralized world would be the end of human troubles; our troubles won’t end until we’re sufficiently upgraded on the inside. But the state stinks at that too.

Almost any honest way we look at things, decentralization comes out as functionally superior and morally superior. Save of course, if we want to project violence and skim from working people. In that case, the state is superior. It may trash quality of life for millions, but it keeps power-lusters satisfied.

In order for the nation-state to continue as it has been, then, its subjects must not realize what a rotten deal they are getting, and they must fear to think beyond their permissions.

I very much doubt whether the statists will be able to pull that off much longer. Humans may be hobbled by fear and inertia, but the persistence of facts brings them out of it eventually.

And so, the more that people see basic facts (like the fact that we know how to feed everyone on the planet times two), the more the intimidations of outdated systems will be cast off.

It may take years or even decades for humans to break out of their misplaced devotions, but mankind is not always blind.

So, either the truth will be forever suppressed, or state worship will end.

The way forward will not be smooth, nor will our better future be perfect. But we deserve to be unimpeded. We are not made better by fear and obligation. The mindset required of us by ruling institutions is retrograde.

Science has indeed won. Might is indeed obsolete. And as Bucky Fuller wrote in Cosmography: A Posthumous Scenario for the Future of Humanity,

Dear reader, traditional human power structures and their reign of darkness are about to be rendered obsolete.

It’s only a matter of time. Keep planting your seeds.


Paul Rosenberg

How Science Became an Idol


I do not oppose science. In fact I advocate for it. But it’s also clear to me that science has been turned into a social weapon. More than that, it has been turned into an idol, and today I’m going to explain (briefly) how that happened.

But before I do, I want you to understand what idolatry really is. Whenever you hold something above critique – above reality – you place it as your god. An idol is that which may not be questioned. Here are two important quotes on the subject, the first from Oliver Wendell Homes, Sr., and the second from Erich Fromm:

Men are idolaters, and want something to look at and kiss and hug, or throw themselves down before; they always did, they always will; and if you don’t make it of wood, you must make it of words….

The history of mankind up to the present time is primarily the history of idol worship, from primitive idols of clay and wood to the modern idols of the state, the leader, production and consumption – sanctified by the blessing of an idolized God.

An idolater craves an ultimate ruleset or pattern, something he or she can cling to, justify themselves by, and defend. That, however, lies well beyond our abilities. To claim a perfect ruleset is ludicrous for a human of our time. We’re not ready to imagine what perfection might look like, much less rules that will attain it.

How It Happened

Science was turned into an idol by a historically visible process. We covered this properly in FMP #90, but I’ll give you a few high points here.

The Enlightenment, while important for the rise of scientifically derived knowledge, also had a dark side, particularly after 1750. It was then that the Enlightenment turned from being for things, to merely being against things. This change imbued the Enlightenment with the darkness of writers like Thomas Hobbes. Here, for example, are two dark teachings from Baron d’Holbach:

We are all just cogs in a machine, doing what we were always meant to do, with no actual volition.

Religion has ever filled the mind of man with darkness, and kept him in ignorance of his real duties and true interests. It is only by dispelling the clouds and phantoms of Religion, that we shall discover Truth, Reason, and Morality. Religion diverts us from the causes of evils, and from the remedies which nature prescribes; far from curing, it only aggravates, multiplies, and perpetuates them.

This trend was noted by historian Margaret C. Jacob (as well as others):

The new direction taken by the philosophes and writers after 1750 might best be characterized as radical. They removed God and in his place inserted the blind forces of matter in motion.

Nowhere was this strain of philosophy more glaring than in the French Revolution, which was essentially the last stage of the Enlightenment. I’ll spare you examples, but it’s worth pointing out that movements built upon tearing things down are the ones that can spin out of control. As Eric Hoffer noted:

Mass movements can rise and spread without belief in a god, but never without belief in a devil.

What Science Really Is

Science is a process, not a database of approved knowledge. In particular, it is a process of finding errors. When some well-defined idea passes through this process without being shown false, we accept it as a valid theory, even though it will forever remain open to challenge or, more commonly, to revision.

But science, tremendously useful as it is, is incapable of conveying meaning. As Wernher von Braun once said,

Science does not have a moral dimension. It is like a knife. If you give it to a surgeon or a murderer, each will use it differently.

Science, then, is a tool and not a guide… and it is certainly not an idol to be held above all question.

Dogma Versus Dogma

It’s interesting to see the idolaters of science busy themselves attacking Christianity… turning the church from the moral seat of the culture into the “devil” of Eric Hoffer’s quote. To state it briefly, they’re fighting to replace the church with themselves. As a result, Western civilization has been functioning with no moral center for quite some time.

To improve or even to replace the moral center of the civilization would have been fine, but to leave it with a gaping void (again, science conveys no morality or meaning) has hobbled Western civilization badly.

The progress of idolatry over the past few centuries, then, has been to replace perfect divine rulesets with perfect scientific rulesets. And so Europeans had their moral core taken from them – not because they conceived of something better, but because they were continually bludgeoned by intellectuals seeking to tear down rather than build.

And as usual, these intellectuals wished to incorporate state violence, as Allan Bloom noted in The Closing of the American Mind:

Enlightenment was not only, or perhaps not even primarily, a scientific project but a political one. It began from the premise that the rulers could be educated, a premise not held by the Enlightenment’s ancient brethren.

The Solution

The solution to this situation is simply to get back to building and to get over the juvenile obsession of tearing things down. (And yes, to retain science as a tool.)

Most urgently, we need to restore our civilization’s moral core. I think Christianity and Judaism can be repaired and upgraded. But even if not, we must establish a clear and benevolent moral core and then start passing it down from generation to generation.

At one time the West did this. We need to start doing it again.

* * * * *

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  • I just finished reading The Breaking Dawn and found it to be one of the most thought-provoking, amazing books I have ever read… It will be hard to read another book now that I’ve read this book… I want everyone to read it.
  • Such a tour de force, so many ideas. And I am amazed at the courage to write such a book, that challenges so many people’s conceptions.
  • There were so many points where it was hard to read, I was so choked up.
  • Holy moly! I was familiar with most of the themes presented in A Lodging of Wayfaring Men, but I am still trying to wrap my head around the concepts you presented at the end of this one.

Get it at Amazon ($18.95) or on Kindle: ($5.99)


* * * * *

Paul Rosenberg

Entropy and Spontaneous Generation


When I wrote two weeks ago about spontaneous generation still being enthroned in science as the primordial soup (and it is), I wanted to avoid a long discussion on entropy. But since that’s the only option left open to die-hards, it became an issue.

So today I’ll explain entropy and how it ties into this discussion. Even if you’re not particularly interested in science, I think this will be of value to you. And I’ll keep it brief.

Carnot and His Perfect Machine

The study of entropy begins with a man named Nicolas Carnot (1796–1832), who worked on steam engines. Carnot wondered whether it was possible to build a perfect machine that, given an initial start, would keep going indefinitely. What he found was that it can’t be done. No matter how perfectly you might build the machine, some energy is disbursed as it runs. In other words, the machine keeps losing bits of energy to the surrounding environment. This loss of useful energy is called entropy.

In the years since Carnot, it has been discovered that entropy shows up in every process we can see, even in information theory. It’s now considered a bedrock of physics.

Now, let’s go back to Carnot’s perfect machine and explain the concept of a “closed system.”

No matter how perfectly Carnot might counter-balance everything, any machine he might make would slow down and eventually stop. He could build it and give it a push to start it, but it wouldn’t keep running without another push.

  • This machine on its own is called a closed system. In it, entropy cannot be overcome. The machine will eventually stop.

  • To overcome entropy, Carnot would have to reach in (one way or another) and give the thing a push… which would be a violation of the closed system. We could call this, including Carnot’s push from the outside, an open system.

There’s nothing more mysterious to this principle than that. (Applying it to things like atomic particles requires intricate work, but the principle’s the same.)

And note one other thing here: Just because a system isn’t fully closed doesn’t mean it will reverse entropy. Carnot’s machine wouldn’t keep moving just because it was hit by sunlight, or got cold, or if was put in a magnetic field, or if it slid sideways. Only a specific type of push would keep it going.

You Already Understand Entropy

Regardless of terminology, we already understand entropy; we’ve lived with it all our lives.

  • When we buy batteries at a store, we hope they haven’t been on the shelf too long, because if they’re old, they won’t last very long.

  • However hard you spin a top, it will eventually slow down and fall.

  • We don’t wait for a rotten piece of fruit to un-rot. The idea is preposterous, because entropy doesn’t just reverse itself.

  • We don’t wait for an old piece of equipment to become brand new again.

Entropy is the way the physical world works, and we’ve all known it since childhood. The battery has to be recharged or replaced. The watch must be wound.

So please remember that entropy is something you already know. If a discussion on entropy confuses you, the speaker is either poorly skilled or is using confusion as a tool.

Barbarians and Seekers

There are in general two types of motivations for studying science, and they define two types of students:

  • The first type I call “Seekers.” These are people who want to discover and to understand how the world works.

  • The second type is those who want science to provide them with the tools of dominance. These people, to use plain terms, are functioning as sophisticated barbarians.

In response to my initial piece on this subject, I had a very pleasant conversation with a man of the Seeker type. He disagreed with me, but he was polite and thoughtful. I wanted to use our conversations as an article by itself, but I had to give up the idea as it would have been too long.

As for the barbarians… well, these are the ones who jump into a discussion with the primary goal of winning. They weaponize terminology and love legalistic proclamations. Their goal is intellectual dominance. I suggest that you learn to recognize this type, learn not to be intimidated by them (that’s their primary weapon), and stay away from them.

Understand this, please: A mind of the first rank will speak to you with the goal of kindling understanding in you. He or she will treat you as valuable and capable and will avoid confusing or intimidating you. They won’t care about position or fame, and they would be happy for you to supersede them.

Back to the Swamp

Now we can deal with the primordial soup once more, with a bit of understanding. And again, I’ll be brief.

At the end of the line, experiment rules over theory. So, I think we should take Albert Einstein’s advice seriously, that “We should try to hold on to physical reality.” And the physical reality here is this: If a swamp could produce DNA in 500 million BC, it should produce DNA now too… and it doesn’t.

Lots of people try to get around this, and their big argument is, “But the conditions were different then.”

When you say, “Different in what way that would produce DNA?” the answer is, “We don’t know, but maybe we’ll discover it.” That’s not terribly convincing, and it sounds a lot like faith.

Furthermore, there are parts of Earth, right now, with more or less any condition that would have been available then (hot, cold, wet, dry, sulfur vents, seawater, etc.). DNA never spontaneously forms in any of them. I see this argument as a way to avoid physical reality.

Now, let me jump to the end: In order for the primordial soup to produce life, these things would have had to happen:

  • An exception to entropy would not only have had to exist, but it would have had to hold steady for an immense length of time. In my friend’s scenario that was 700 million years. Any break during that immense span would cause the DNA to break down again… and quickly.

  • All the right pieces would have had to be in place at the right times. And for DNA, that’s a lot of complex material that just happens to be sitting around. (And how did it get so complex?) The four critical amino acids (complex molecules all) would not only have to be present, but in the right configurations. These are all left-handed molecules, and even one right-hander could kill the whole deal.

  • Environmental conditions don’t reverse entropy. Hotter conditions on the early Earth (which seems to be the assumption) might be contra-effective for forming DNA, as heat tends to disperse things rather than congeal them.

  • All the cellular membranes, cytoplasm, vacuoles, plasmids, and so on that are required for this new string of DNA to endure and reproduce itself would have had to be present also. And even for a very primitive organism that’s a whole lot of stuff, all of which would have had to form contrary to entropy as well.

I could go on, but there’s no point. The odds against this are beyond astronomical.

Still, arguments can go on. One is the very faith-like, “But even astronomical odds are not zero!” Another is a verdict-like proclamation (very emphatic) that entropy exists only inside things like sealed boxes. Following that argument, however, batteries on an open shelf (or with their covers removed) wouldn’t lose their charge. And since a sea of neutrinos pours through every box (as do magnetic, electrical, gravitational, and Higgs fields), nothing could be deemed a closed system.

Beyond all these words, however, physical reality remains paramount, and DNA still doesn’t form spontaneously.

So my opinion stands: The primordial soup must go.

* * * * *

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  • I just finished reading The Breaking Dawn and found it to be one of the most thought-provoking, amazing books I have ever read… It will be hard to read another book now that I’ve read this book… I want everyone to read it.

  • Such a tour de force, so many ideas. And I am amazed at the courage to write such a book, that challenges so many people’s conceptions.

  • There were so many points where it was hard to read, I was so choked up.

  • Holy moly! I was familiar with most of the themes presented in A Lodging of Wayfaring Men, but I am still trying to wrap my head around the concepts you presented at the end of this one.

Get it at Amazon ($18.95) or on Kindle: ($5.99)


* * * * *

Paul Rosenberg

Spontaneous Generation Is Still Enthroned in Science


Spontaneous generation is a defunct theory text books use to illustrate the superiority of modern science. It was a medieval belief that things like rotting meat would spontaneously generate maggots, and so on. Our textbooks explain that this theory was abundantly disproven and that modern academics would never be suckered into that kind of silliness.

Hold on to that thought.

Breaking the Laws of Physics, Very, Very Slowly

Let’s start by saying that the laws of thermodynamics are as rock solid as anything in physics has ever been and as solid as anything is likely to be in the foreseeable future. They’ve been held up so many times by experiments and in everyday life that challenging them is generally taken as a sign of derangement.

The second of those laws says the entropy of a closed system can only increase. Entropy, as you may recall, is the tendency of matter to wind down and wear out. Entropy breaks up concentrations of things, spreading them out till all is a neutral, useless mass. Always.

And that brings us to something all of us learned about in grammar school: the primordial soup. That’s the story, I trust you will remember, that there was a mud puddle (or maybe a swamp), back a jillion years ago. And in that puddle, life created itself. A micro-glob of this connected to a micro-glob of that, and boom, life began. Teacher said so.

Except that this flatly violates the second law of thermodynamics. After all, the law says that things go from higher concentrations to lesser concentrations, from more order to less order. So, how can this puddle organize itself? And how are we to reconcile all of this with the fact that Teacher is never wrong?

Perhaps the second law of thermodynamics fell asleep for an eon or two, allowed the micro-globs to start life, and then came back? That would be quite a trick. I wonder how we’d run an experiment to check that.

Ah, but wait! Maybe it got struck with lightning! Well, that explains it. Lightning reverses the second law of thermodynamics, right? Only in Frankenstein movies.

“No, no,” Teacher says. “You don’t understand. It took a really, really long time. More time than you can imagine.”

Well, that changes everything, right? The second law functions only in the short term, yes? No, of course not. We don’t drop an egg on the sidewalk, wait a year, and expect it to come back together… that ain’t happening… and it wouldn’t happen if you waited a hundred billion years either. Entropy works in the other direction. After a week or two the pieces of egg would be scattered beyond recognition.

And by the way, have you ever examined the strings of DNA that are a central component of all living things? Even at their simplest, they are gigantic molecules that look like a twisted ladder, several million rungs long… a ladder that’s so perfectly designed that it zips and unzips itself right down the middle. And swamps produce these things all the time, do they?


Come to think of it, what we were taught in school sounds a lot like the old medieval idea… leave dead stuff laying around and life will pop out of it.

So, you see, people do still believe in spontaneous generation. They just cloak it in “billions of years.”

I think we can now say good-bye to the primordial soup… and to all the confused children it produced.

The Infallible Word of Darwin

There is, however, a problem here: The primordial soup is Darwin’s hook… it’s what evolution hooks up to at the end of the line((To be fair, not all Darwinists believe this.))! That point of origin can’t be changed… and it’s only questioned by religious nuts!

Still, that second law really is kind of important, isn’t it? Hmm…

Okay, let’s back up and be honest long enough to say two things about the work of Charles Darwin:

  1. Evolution does occur.
  2. Darwinism is a religion.

Evolution, meaning the changing of organisms over time, really does happen. It can be demonstrated in laboratories, among other things. So we can’t honestly ignore Darwin.

On the other hand, Darwinism really is a religion, and its adherents display the zeal of converts. And in fact most of them are converts. Mainly they’re people who are really pissed off at Christianity or Judaism and who use their Darwinism as a tool of revenge… to the point where they’ll ignore whatever stands in the way of their revenge… like that pesky second law.

Still, species do change over time. And so, I’d suggest to the Darwinists (not that they’d listen) that they should start with what they can prove by experiment and then try to get back to the primordial ooze in a strictly scientific way (piece by slowly established piece).

The magnificent irony here is that the Darwinists get back to their beginning with a very religious claim: “See, there’s a pattern!”

Patterns are fine for making guesses; they’re not fine for spawning dogmas.

I Could Go On…

I could go on, but the fact that spontaneous generation is still enthroned in the world of science is quite enough to bite off in one day.

* * * * *

A book that generates comments like these, from actual readers, might be worth your time:

  • I just finished reading The Breaking Dawn and found it to be one of the most thought-provoking, amazing books I have ever read… It will be hard to read another book now that I’ve read this book… I want everyone to read it.

  • Such a tour de force, so many ideas. And I am amazed at the courage to write such a book, that challenges so many people’s conceptions.

  • There were so many points where it was hard to read, I was so choked up.

  • Holy moly! I was familiar with most of the themes presented in A Lodging of Wayfaring Men, but I am still trying to wrap my head around the concepts you presented at the end of this one.

Get it at Amazon ($18.95) or on Kindle: ($5.99)


* * * * *

Paul Rosenberg

“Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence” Is Bullshit


Apologies to those who are bothered by strong words; I feel that science deserves an especially strong defense.

I think we’ve all heard the pseudo-scientific phrase, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” It’s the kind of thing people throw out at parties to make themselves sound smart.

Except that this slogan isn’t scientific at all; in fact, it’s a perversion of science. Here’s why:

Evidence Is Evidence

Science is a process of getting rid of bad ideas, of chopping them up. And just to be clear, science is not the formulaic list of steps you learned in school. Science is a careful examination of nature. It requires you to fully engage your mind and not to follow a pattern. Anyone’s pattern. As Richard Feynman used to say:

It doesn’t matter how beautiful your theory is. It doesn’t matter how smart you are… If it doesn’t agree with experiment, it’s wrong.

Neither does being respected and published make a theory any better… it makes no difference whatsoever.

Science starts with the smallest ideas and carefully compares them with the real world. Then, once they are very carefully checked, new things can be built on top of them. And even then, if new evidence contradicts the existing structure, you have to start over.

There is no second standard for “extraordinary claims.” Science is science, and the standard remains the same for everything. That’s the point!

Who Decides What’s Extraordinary?

Here’s where we find the hidden poison.

When a “respected professor” with a dozen initials after his name proclaims some new idea to be “an extraordinary claim,” why should we listen to him? Because he’s famous?

What the big man is doing is excluding the new idea from the scientific process – saying that on his word, this idea must be double-rejected and held to a near-impossible standard.

And yeah, that’s bullshit. No one gets to decide what’s “normal” and what’s “extraordinary.” Everything must stand or fall by the same process.

These “authorities” are going back to 1400 AD, when an accepted pattern was held above everything else and facts were filled in beneath it. So, let’s be very clear: Any pattern held above the raw scientific process is a perversion.

By holding to things they’re comfortable with and assigning “extraordinary claims” to vicious, mile-long gauntlets, these “authorized” and “respected” people are destroying science. And let’s be honest: They do this to protect their positions and their power.

Ignaz Semmelweis

I want you to see an example of how this affects the world. (We covered this story in detail in FMP #35, but I’ll give you a summary here.)

Ignaz Semmelweis was the man who discovered antiseptics, making him the savior of millions.

When Semmelweis was a young doctor specializing in obstetrics, he confronted the primary killer of young mothers at that time, childbed fever (more properly called “puerperal fever”). This condition was common in mid–19th-century hospitals and was often fatal.

Semmelweis discovered that the incidence of the fever could be drastically cut by the use of hand disinfection in obstetrical clinics, using carbolic soap.

But despite results showing that disinfection reduced mortality to below 0.2%, Semmelweis’s observations conflicted with “established” scientific opinions, and so were rejected. The high-and-mighties demanded that Semmelweis explain precisely how hand washing worked. But Semmelweis couldn’t explain it; he knew only that it did work. (Louis Pasteur and Joseph Lister would later discover the reason.) But that wasn’t enough for the lords of academia.

Semmelweis was excluded, persecuted, and finally condemned to an insane asylum. He died after being beaten by the guards and developing sepsis.


It wasn’t enough that Semmelweis provided conclusive evidence. No, the lords of academia said he needed extraordinary evidence. Proving that it worked by the scientific process wasn’t sufficient; he also had to convince them of precisely how it worked or he and his theory would be rejected.

As a result, not only did Semmelweis die, but thousands of young mothers, among perhaps millions of others, died unnecessarily.

But authority was upheld! The great men and institutions of academia retained their positions and their respect!

What we see, then, is that “exceptional claims require exceptional evidence” is worse than bullshit. It is, in fact, the agent of mass death.

Science does not have a second standard for things “authorities” don’t like.

* * * * *

A book that generates comments like these, from actual readers, might be worth your time:

  • I just finished reading The Breaking Dawn and found it to be one of the most thought-provoking, amazing books I have ever read… It will be hard to read another book now that I’ve read this book… I want everyone to read it.

  • Such a tour de force, so many ideas. And I am amazed at the courage to write such a book, that challenges so many people’s conceptions.

  • There were so many points where it was hard to read, I was so choked up.

  • Holy moly! I was familiar with most of the themes presented in A Lodging of Wayfaring Men, but I am still trying to wrap my head around the concepts you presented at the end of this one.

Get it at Amazon ($18.95) or on Kindle: ($5.99)


* * * * *

Paul Rosenberg