Category Archives: Quotes
The everyday person has probably never heard of Henrietta Lacks. I know I sure haven’t. But she has effectively changed the face of science. And she didn’t even know it.
Henrietta Lacks was a black woman in the 1950s who had cervical cancer. Doctors took a sample of her tumor without telling her and these “HeLa” cells ended up becoming the first immortal human cells grown in culture. Researchers have used HeLa cells to develop the polio vaccine, study the atom bomb’s effects and work towards advances like cloning. In fact, even though Henrietta passed away decades ago, her HeLa cells are still being cultured, packaged and sold across the globe as part of a multi-billion dollar industry. Yet her family hasn’t made a dime and can’t even afford basic health insurance.
Now I’m not much of a science person, but this story is so intriguing. Author Rebecca Skloot not only provides Henrietta’s back story, but also touches upon the effects of racism which were still prevalent in Henrietta’s time and brings to light questions of medical ethics, often drawing comparisons to the Tuskegee syphilis experiment.
Consider This: “If you could pile all HeLa cells ever grown onto a scale, they’d weigh more than 50 million metric tons — as much as a hundred Empire State Buildings.”
“The world’s most powerful investment bank is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money”
– 2009 Rolling Stone article about Goldman Sachs
Forever 21 recently unveiled its new billboard in Times Square, and it’s already creating quite a buzz. That’s because this billboard is interactive. With the help of high-tech spy camera technology, the ad features a model that not only shows off Forever 21 apparel on a humongous screen, but appears to pluck people straight off the ground and kiss them or stow them away in her bag as she skips off. She also occasionally takes photos of the crowd and brandishes them on the billboard — giving even the common passerby his or her 15-seconds of fame.
The billboard software can even detect the specific trademark yellow of the Forever 21 bag — making loyal customers all the more likely to be noticed by the model in her pursuits.
And this is just the beginning. Billy Jurewicz, founder and CEO of Space150 — the company that created the billboard for Forever 21 — expects better, more interactive versions in the future. “The board now is like the iPod 1.0,” he said in an article for Fast Company. “We’re going to be updating this more and more.”
Spies? Living among us as everyday, humdrum suburbanites?
“They couldn’t have been spies. Look what she did with the hydrangeas.”
Yes, that is an actual quote from a neighbor of one of the spies. With that type of full-proof logic, it’s a wonder how we ever managed to catch these guys in the first place. (Hint: For all of you aspiring spies out there, get a green thumb first. They’ll never see you coming, apparently.)
But some things just don’t seem to add up. According to the FBI, the accused did not send any classified information back to Moscow. They aren’t even being charged with espionage. And all who knew the alleged spies have nothing bad to say about them. They were nothing short of upstanding people who made great parents and neighbors. That’s better than the average American can claim.
So why all the media attention? Maybe people just want to show off how many espionage references they can make in one sentence? I’ve heard everything from James Bond and Jason Bourne to crime novelist John Le Carre. Or maybe they want to take a break from all the BP bashing and focus on something new? I mean, Anna Chapman is much easier on the eyes than a flock of oil-covered pelicans.
Or maybe it’s just all a hyped-up promotion for the new upcoming movie, “Despicable Me”? I see some parallels…Russian accent, good dad, failed attempts at being a villain…lol
No matter how much you would like to believe that money is not all that important, it is. There’s no avoiding that fact. But you might be surprised by the lengths people will take just to strike a good deal while it’s hot.
Take the most recent issue of Time Magazine, for example. One of the articles discusses a phenomenon called “death elasticity,” where it has been found that death rates increase slightly among the wealthy when estate tax rates go down. Basically, this means that the filthy rich are more likely (and willing) to die during a period when estate tax rates are low so that their heirs can keep as much of their inheritances as possible. Talk about scrounging for every penny.
Currently, there is no federal estate tax and people are taking advantage of that fact before the rate spikes to 55 percent in 2011. By take advantage, I mean DYING. One NYC estate-planning attorney was even quoted in the article saying, “I’ve had clients tell me that if they were to get terminally ill this year, they would want to pull the plug instead of hanging on.”
Now the article assures that there won’t be a “death wave” over this issue, but the fact that there is empirical proof of a trend, however slight, is disconcerting to say the least. On the bright side, death elasticity goes both ways. In Australia, when the estate tax was eliminated, the death rate decreased with an estimated 50 extra people, who should have died otherwise, living through the week until the tax was abolished. Go figure.
“In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”
— Benjamin Franklin