An uplifting news item, poem, thought or quotation each day.
Archive of past entries

22 May 2005

Something there is that is immortal, and I am part of it.

- Josh Mitteldorf A Imagined Near-Death Experience

21 May 2005

"Only universal cooperation under conditions of intellectual freedom and the lofty moral ideals of socialism and labor, accompanied by the elimination of dogmatism and pressure of the concealed interests of ruling classes, will preserve civilization."

-Andrei Sakharov, born this day in 1921

Living in a world that exercised thought control to an unprecedented degree, Andrei Sakharov was a man of fiercely independent thought. He became a national hero for developing the basic physics underlying the hydrogen bomb. But he used his position of influence to become a thorn in the side of the Kremlin, an advocate for peace, tolerance and human rights. He believed in the ideals of socialism, but spoke out against totalitarianism, militarism, and other abuses of the Soviet Regime.

From 1980-86, Sakharov lived in exile, forbidden to write, to travel, or communicate with the outside world. He died of a heart attack in 1989, having lived long enough to see the beginnings of perestroika, but not the full collapse of the Soviet regime (1990).

20 May 2005

Organ and tissue transplants are routine life-saving operations now for a great number of conditions, but there are two big problems: one is a shortage of donors, the other is that the recipientís immune system wants to reject tissue that comes from another person. One of the great hopes for stem cell research is that cells from human embryos can be coaxed to grow into any kind of tissue or organ that a patient needs. This would solve problem #1.  This week comes an announcement from a Korean laboratory of a new success in addressing problem #2:  Human DNA has been transplanted (from a few skin cells removed painlessly from a patient) into embryonic stem cells from an egg donor, and the cells were able to grow into therapeutic cells for the patient.

  • New nerves for people who have been paralyzed in spinal injuries
  • Insulin-producing pancreatic cells for diabetics
  • Brain cells for Parkinson patients

These are three areas of great promise for the technique. (This kind of research has been illegal in the United States for the last four years, but continues apace in Europe and Asia.)

Article in New ScientistArticle in ScienceNow.

19 May 2005

Tom Whittaker became the first amputee to climb Mount Everest (1998). He had lost one foot (and a kneecap) from injuries sustained in an almost-fatal auto accident in 1979, a head-on collision that left him permanently "disabled."

Why did this "disabled" man climb that mountain?

In Tom's own words, "beyond personal satisfaction and the allure of making history, there has to be the possibility, in some small way, to change the way people view disability. To say: disability is as much an attitude, as it is a condition."

18 May 2005

somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond
any experience,your eyes have their silence:
in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
or which i cannot touch because they are too near

your slightest look will easily unclose me
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skilfully,mysteriously)her first rose

e e cummings

17 May 2005

"What you are looking for is what is looking."

-St Francis of Assisi

16 May 2005

Before child labor laws, before working hours were regulated and occupational safety laws enacted, long before the 40-hour week, employment conditions at American textile mills stretched the limits of what humans could tolerate. In 1912, a brave group of women at factories in Lawrence organized, stopped work, and marched in the streets. They had the vision to demand not just a living wage, but a livable life. This was their song:

Bread and Roses

As we go marching, marching, in the beauty of the day,
A million darkened kitchens, a thousand mill lofts gray,
Are touched with all the radiance that a sudden sun discloses,
For the people hear us singing: Bread and Roses! Bread and Roses!

As we go marching, marching, we battle too for men,
For they are women's children, and we mother them again.
Our lives shall not be sweated from birth until life closes;
Hearts starve as well as bodies; give us bread, but give us roses.

As we go marching, marching, unnumbered women dead
Go crying through our singing their ancient call for bread.
Small art and love and beauty their drudging spirits knew.
Yes, it is bread we fight for, but we fight for roses too.

As we go marching, marching, we bring the greater days,
The rising of the women means the rising of the race.
No more the drudge and idler, ten that toil where one reposes,
But a sharing of life's glories: Bread and roses, bread and roses.

Our lives shall not be sweated from birth until life closes;
Hearts starve as well as bodies; bread and roses, bread and roses.

- James Oppenheim.   History link