Just 59 days until Conan O’Brien returns to late night television where he belongs. Can’t wait to see the first episode! If I promised to dye my Asian tresses orange in honor of our favorite redhead, do you think Conan would give me tickets to his show…and maybe throw in some airfare?? Come on, Team Coco. Make it happen!
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
My sleep cycle is horrendous. These past few weeks, I can’t seem to fall asleep until it’s at least 4:00am. Doesn’t matter what time I start my day. Doesn’t matter if I nap or don’t nap.
I. CAN’T. SLEEP.
And now, even if I miraculously feel tired around 3:00am, I feel bad going to bed because my mom wakes up for work at 4:30am and likes it when I get the coffee started for her. 1.5 more hours of sleep OR help the person that gave birth to me. On her birthday, might I add. I think it’s the very least I can do.
There are some benefits to my recent insomnia though. For one thing, the infomercials on late-night television are definitely entertaining (and more convincing in the twilight hours…I already want an Oreck Air Purifier and a Brazil Butt Workout DVD). Plus, I’ve discovered some odd shows, diamonds in the rough if you will, like “Confessions: Animal Hoarding” on Animal Planet and “Hoarding: Buried Alive” on TLC (I guess hoarding is the new have-a-litter-of-children as your reality-show claim to fame?). But the best perk of my sleeplessness by far is how super-productive I’ve been when it comes to my job hunt. I need peace and quiet to look for openings, research companies, write cover letters, etc. and I realized that’s never going to happen while my family is awake, so the nocturnal life has become the life for me. My contacts don’t seem to mind getting e-mails at 5:00am so it’s a win-win situation.
I loved reading “My Sister’s Keeper” so I had to check out Jodi Picoult’s latest novel, “House Rules.” So far, it’s pretty solid. My only complaint is that there seems to be several similarities between this book and “My Sister’s Keeper,” almost a formula of sorts. First, the whole one sibling has an illness thing while the other suffers quietly because of it in a cycle of resentment and guilt. Second, the involvement of a lawyer who has a dog. Third, the self-deprecating mother who’s on the breaking point. Maybe these three elements lead to an instant New York Times Bestseller? I know your secret now, Ms. Picoult.
It’s always been one of my top bucket list goals to write a novel and see it being sold at a Barnes & Nobles (yes, that’s how I measure the success of a book) so I’ll have to remember to use this literary trifecta the next time I’m in the mood to write 🙂