Collaboration

18 Sep

Hundreds if not thousands of public, private and corporate institutions are researching everything from the Ebola virus to breast cancer to the common cold.  The work goes on in laboratories around the world.  What is interesting is that for most public colleges and universities in the U.S. – which receive taxpayer funding – there is normally no requirement that they collaborate on research with other institutions.  In other words, two universities a few miles apart which are researching the same topic will do their own research independently.  And they will not collaborate on their mutual effort.  Most of these researchers would rather share their toothbrush than share their lab notes or research results. 

In corporate America, you can understand that when Pfizer spends hundreds of millions of dollars on research for a drug that will ramp down an illness or disease, they want to protect it.  With a patent.  And they deserve it.  And they deserve to recoup their costs to pay for their research.   That is what corporations do — and the results benefit everyone.  But when a university gets large sums of money from the public coffers for research, doesn’t it sound logical (not to mention efficient and more effective) that they and their researchers should be required to collaborate with other institutions which study the same subject?  After all, two heads – or ten heads – are normally better than one (except perhaps in Washington). 

So this Guy. . . .

14 Sep

So this guy is up delivering a speech to a large group of people. He begins to rant “All lawyers are jerks!”  [Or you may select your own epithet]

From the back of the room a guy raises his hand and yells “I really take offense at your words.”

The guy giving the speech asks “are you a lawyer?”

Absolutely not,” the guy says defensively. “I’m a jerk!”

Lawyers do get a bad rap from the public.  In a 2013 Pew research poll, lawyers ranked at the bottom of ten professions.  Only 18% of responders felt that lawyers contributed “a lot” to society’s well being.  And that’s down from 23% in 2009.  In a December 2013 Gallup poll on “Honesty/Ethics in Professions,” lawyers were at the bottom of the list — just above members of Congress, lobbyists and car salesmen.  While there are a lot of good lawyers, I tend to think that much of the criticism of lawyers is deserved.   We don’t police the profession as we might and. . . .  wait . . . shhhh. . . .sorry – gotta run!  I hear a siren. . . . .       

Lydia the Tattooed Lady

11 Sep

In 1939, Groucho Marx sang “Lydia the Tattooed Lady” in the classic Marx Brothers’ film “At the Circus” (enjoy http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n4zRe_wvJw8). In 1939 as well as in 1977 when the Muppet Show had Kermit singing the song to a bedecked Miss Piggy, tattoos were an exception rather than the rule. It violates the Torah (Leviticus 19:28) and the hadith in Islam where tattoos are haram (forbidden). Nonetheless, guys had the occasional anchor or “USMC” inked on their arm and a woman might have a small flower or family name.  But tattoos were modest – and tasteful. Tattooed ladies remain a part of “Freak Shows” at the circus (or reality shows) even now.   As recently as the 1960’s and 70’s tattoos were associated with bikers and criminals. In Japan, only the yakuza (the crime syndicate) has tattoos. In China, tattoos are taboo. In Europe, tattoos are still very unpopular. And then there’s America.                                                                                                                                                             

I got on the train yesterday and a young couple gets on and sits down. The guy’s wearing shorts and a t-shirt. Both arms and both hands were covered with tattoos and his legs were similarly adorned. Tattoos crept up the back of his neck and around toward his throat. Not sure how you view it but to me it’s pretty weird. But you see this new body decoration frequently. Walking freak shows (just like the circus I remember). Men with tattoos covering their arms, necks, torsos, legs. Even facial tattoos. And there are tattooed ladies. 

According to a recent article by Miriam Jordan in the Wall Street Journal (June 27, 2014), 71% of young people today are now ineligible to join the military (see http://online.wsj.com/articles/recruits-ineligibility-tests-the-military-1403909945). The reasons? Bad grades, obesity, criminal records, ADHD (and other issues), drug use, and now under a new regulation – excessive tattoos. Great. Makes you feel proud. And safe.

Life After High School

7 Sep

Social studies.  Reading Comprehension. English Literature. P.E. Chemistry. Trigonometry (did I spell that right?). These are all courses I took in high school. As I mentioned previously the best course I took in high school was typing. I can type flawlessly for about 60 words a minute. The other courses? Chemistry? What the heck is a “beaker”?

Okay okay.  These are all good courses – and worth taking. But for my money, I think high school students should all be required to take a course “Life After High School.” It would be a one year curriculum and involve seminars on balancing a check book; shopping; simple first aid; spending money wisely; relationships and respect; job interviews; nutrition; cooking simple meals; raising babies; investing; and so on.  Topics which help a young person acclimate and actually put to good use after high school.  Many kids will go to college.  Many will not.  But learning how to respect a spouse, show your best to a prospective employer, and deal intelligently with a screaming baby will benefit everyone. 

These are not topics that are  in conflict with parents so there should be no pushback.  And it might create a broader universe of students/grads who are more able to assimilate, interact and thrive. 

Did You Shave?

4 Sep

I golf once or twice a week.  If I get up early, I hop in the shower, dry off, and dress in the space of 7 or 8 minutes.  I normally don’t shave unless I have to “go somewhere.”  Last weekend, I went off to play golf.  Donna was up.  She gave me a quizzical look.  “Did you shave?” she asked.  “Nah.  I’m just playing golf.”  “Don’t you think you should shave?”  She asked.   “Nah.  Nobody notices,” I replied.  She gave me another “look” and I made a hasty exit. 

Now I have to say that I have never – never – said to Jim, Bill, Tim or Joe “Psssst . . . did you see Norm?  He didn’t shave this morning.”   I have never observed that one of my brethren had not taken Barbasol and Schick to face.  Frankly, I probably wouldn’t notice if a guy hadn’t shaved unless he started to look like one of the boys from ZZ Top.  “Hey Mike – did you shave this morning?”  “ScottI haven’t shave in six months.”  Gosh I never noticed.   I’m not sure what the big deal is about shaving.  But whenever we go anywhere, I inevitably get the question “did you shave?”  Most of the time, I come up with the right answer.       

In my house, I make all of the big important decisions. Donna makes all of the small, piddly ones. However Donna is the one who decides what’s “important” and what’s “piddly.”   Shaving, it seems, is one of those piddly ones. . . .

Evil

31 Aug

What is “evil”?  There are dictionary definitions (“morally reprehensible” “a complete absence of – or opposite of – good“).  There seems to be a general consensus on what is “good” and what is “evil.”  And this consensus crosses religious, ethnic, geographic, political and racial boundaries.  And yet there remains evil.  We read about it every day.    

In looking at our world today, most folks would agree that there are all too many organizations which fall under the definition of “evil.”  ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq & Syria); Boko Haram (the radical Muslims – Hausas – in Nigeria); Hamas in Gaza (especially the military wing); Al-Qaeda; Hezbollah; and so many others are veritable killing machines.   They are dedicated to (and often glorify) murder, kidnapping and torture.   They are dedicated to getting their own way.  Anyone who gets in their way is toast.  Interestingly most of the terrorist organizations today are Islamic.   And curiously many of these terror groups are at odds with each other (witness the vicious conflicts between Fatah, Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood and the 72 sects of Islam).   We also see the abyss of evil in places like North Korea and in things like crime and exploitation. 

It is instructive to note is that most purveyors of evil and their members avow that their task is holy.  Their goals are honorable.  Their objectives just.  Their enemies are evil.   And that’s the rub.  How does one deal with such logic?  How do you rationalize the recent comments of ISIS killers that they feel “closer to God” by brutally torturing enemies?  You can’t.   We can speak out (I wish moderate voices of Islam would object to the current strife).  We can react.  Respond.  But in the end, I think the answer is that every once in a while, there is a large international commode that is full – and needs flushing.

 

Leg Cramps (Part III)

28 Aug

In my posts of October 24 and 26, 2011, I went into concise detail on the causes of and treatments for leg cramps. Since that time, I have had zero leg cramps. Until last night. . . . .

Let’s set the stage.  It was Friday.  I took the day off.  To play in a 2 day golf tournament (my team won).   It was 90+ degrees.  100% humidity.  I poured sweat.   And drank bottle after bottle of water.  At the turn, when I normally make a pit stop, there was no reason to stop.  I just went on to the 10th tee.  And teed off.  More water.  And I continued to pour sweat.  We had dinner.  More water (no cabernet).  And when I got home, I was tired.  I went up.  Got in bed and started reading.  That’s when it happened.  The biceps femoris (the muscle behind my right knee) began cramping.  Ow ow ow ow.   I rubbed.   Drank some water.  And Donna sped off for some V-8 juice (potassium/sodium).  And she gave me two more things not mentioned in the earlier posts. 

Donna had read that magnesium can help stop muscle cramps.  So I popped a magnesium pill (Metagenics Mag Glycinate – 200 mg).  And she had bought a Health & Wisdom magnesium gel with aloe vera.   And she brought some ice.  Within 10 minutes, the cramp was history.  I went back to reading.  And slept like a baby.  Maybe it was the Dove bar that I tossed under the sheet . . . . *

*Ya gotta read 10/26/11 for context  

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