Posts Tagged ‘Science’

Lessons from Game Of Thrones – Geeks don’t get no respect

September 2, 2014

In the world of Game of Thrones where the sword is mightier than the pen, it comes as no surprise that geeks, dweebs, intellectuals of any stripe, get almost no respect.

Tales of the two biggest (and smallest) GOT geeks….

Samwell Tarly,  though high-born and bookish was neither brave nor athletic so his farther abandoned him to the Night’s Watch which was generally a dumping ground for bastards, rapists and murderers.  Actually  Samwell  was given a (cough…) choice, he could die in an “accident” in a hunt or he could take a life oath to serve in the night’s watch.  Ok that’s not a choice, but you get the picture.

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The business of medicine – and the band played on…

August 31, 2014

Its official, I am starting to be concerned about the spread of Ebola to the developed world.  Now, let me make this clear, I doubt we would have a major epidemic in a country like the US.  But with the sheer number of cases reported and the fact that the epidemic is gaining steam makes the possibility of cases developing in the developed  world more likely.  The WHO just released a very grim prognosis regarding the course of the epidemic in Africa and given the way things are going, I see why they are concerned.

Ebola outbreak spreading and showing no signs of peaking…

Yesterday, I  read an article in The Washington Post article about Ebola spreading to Senegal the following points were particularly worrying:

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The business of medicine…

August 24, 2014

In my previous blog I discussed the business of science  and why science itself is not,  and should never be, considered a business.  Today, as we see the widening Ebola epidemic spreading throughout West Africa I find myself thinking the same thing about medicine.

Medicine is not a business…

As in science,  there are businesses surrounding medicine.  Big pharma and biotech being far from the least among them.  As  I pointed out before, the science of pharma and biotech must not mix with the business unless you want to be buying hi-tech snake oil when you go to the pharmacy.

But there is another component here, often overlooked and currently underfunded even in developed nations:  the role of a strong public health program and the public funding for basic research.

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The business of science…

August 14, 2014

This blog is going to begin with a premise that I know will raise some eyebrows.  It is quite simply this:

Science is not a business…

To a scientist, this is obvious, but to business people I would expect howls of protest.  On the surface the  statement is counter-intuitive.   After all, entire industries are based on what science has discovered.  We have massive numbers of industrial laboratories that would indicate otherwise.  According to the WHO, the pharmaceutical industry is a $300 billion/year industry and growing rapidly.  So what do I mean by such a provocative  statement?

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Lessons From Game of Thrones: Invention & Innovation Requires Public Commitment

July 16, 2014

In the very first episode of a Game of Thrones,  10-year-old  Branden Stark had an unfortunate “accident”. He was pushed from a high window and nearly died. Although he survived, he was paralyzed from the waist down.  A few episodes later,  the decidedly book-smart and wealthy  Lord Tyrion Lannister offered Bran a gift.  He designed  a special saddle so Bran could ride horseback once again.

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Invention often happens that way.  Someone with the technological know-how and the money, sees a need and acts to fill that need.  This is but one of the more minor routes to discovery and invention.  It is simple, direct, but far from the most likely.  For the most part, big gains and earth changing discoveries are generally not sprints; they are marathons.

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STEM Career Viability – Where’s the Beef?

March 22, 2014

STEM education programs are hot…

OK, so we’ve woken up to the fact that we are falling behind in science and technology.  Almost everyone is making a massive fuss over STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education.  In higher education circles, it seems like everyone is climbing onto the STEM bandwagon.  It seems like almost everyday I hear about a new STEM program.  Some campuses are even building  STEM centers.

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The feasibility factor – when a wage-mismatch stifles STEM…

February 18, 2014

In a recent post, Jared Bernstein gave voice to an issue that I have long been concerned about:  the feasibility of many STEM career tracks.  With all the hand-wringing about STEM, the facts surrounding wage stagnation and even depression are being blithely ignored. Everyone is bemoaning the so-called “skills-mismatch” without considering whether the salaries being offered are commensurate or even doable given the required years and cost of training for these careers.  Education is expensive and the “numbers” have to work for people to even bother entering certain career tracks.

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When the wealth of a few jeopardizes the security of the many…

January 29, 2014

Raspberry & Mandarin cheesecakeThe President is making his State of the union address tonight. We have been told to look forward to a speech dominated by issue of “income inequality”.   A divisive issue – most certainly, but timely and long overdue as the centerpiece of  domestic policy.

In a recent column in the New York Times (The Inequality Problem)  David Brooks  indicated that targeting the obscene wealth of the top 1% might be a moot point since the wealth at the top, though massively higher than it was in the past, is not making the rest of the world poorer.  To that assumption, the most polite thing I can think to say is “horse hockey!”

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Consequences of the Sequester – an entire generation of American scientists could be lost…

September 8, 2013

Traditionally elections SHOULD have consequences, but in this case they did not. Obama’s strong victory in 2012 did nothing to stop  the draconian sequester cuts.   As far as the sequester goes, 2012 did nothing to stop the carnage.  But actions (or inaction in this case) always has consequences and we are seeing them now.

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The guest worker on an H1-B visa versus the US national with a STEM degree: Who wins? Who loses?

May 20, 2013

For the last several years there has been a massive amount of hand-wringing about how America is falling behind in the race to acquire the skills that the “haves” of the future will hold.  Most notably STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).  If we want to be a country of “have nots”, so the theory goes, we can continue on our present course of underachieving in these areas.  But if we want to regain our technological edge, and most importantly, bring down that stubbornly high unemployment rate, we have to put more American students on the STEM track.

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