The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“I’m back.” — Michael Jordan

GOD, THE JERK

Can anyone dispute it?

Case in point.

The guy who performed the world’s first successful organ transplant, Dr. Joseph E. Murray, has died. Officials at Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston announced his death yesterday.

Murray (center) Performing The First Successful Organ Transplant

Surgeons had been trying to transplant organs for decades before Murray hit upon transplanting the kidney of an identical twin into his brother in 1954. That was the key. All previously transplanted organs had been rejected by the receiving body. Murray was the guy over whose head the light bulb snapped on.

He figured it was genetics that caused all the rejections. If only, he concluded, you could transplant an organ from a donor whose DNA precisely matched the receiver. Ergo, twins.

It Just Might Work

After that, doctors all over the world quickly learned how to transplant other organs and how to swap parts between non-kin. Now, of course, organ transplant is routine.

Anyway, Murray told an interviewer once that he faced a lot of heat when he was doing his groundbreaking work. People called him Doctor Frankenstein, natch, and other shook their fingers — and their Bibles — at him.

Yup. The pious of this holy land warned Murray in no uncertain terms that god was steamed over his work. It was unnatural to take the kidney from one human and place it in another. It violated god’s law.

Teed Off — As Usual

I, for one, am thrilled that Murray ignored them. “We were just doing our work,” he said.

Since that time some 600,000 people have had their lives extended by organ transplants. The figure surprises me; I would have imagined many, many more folks would have received new kidneys and hearts and skin.

Here’s another thing I can’t quite grasp: As long as we as a species have decided to invent a god — that is, the creator of the Universe and the guy who has given us a guidebook for our behavior — why did we have to invent such a jerk?

I’M TIRED — ERGO, TERRIBLY ILL

Let’s stick with medicine. Only this has to do with how that particular science too often can become little more than a tawdry business.

I drove my sister up to Indy yesterday afternoon so she could catch her flight back home to Florida (where it was expected to be sunny and in the low 70s; I hate her.) By the way, The Loved One and I handled Thanksgiving weekend’s Glabbie Invasion fairly well. In fact, the whole gang seemed on reasonably good behavior: no blood or weapons were drawn and Gov. Daniels was able to demobilize the National Guard units he’d put on alert Wednesday night just in case.

It’s Okay, Boys, You Can Go Home Now

On the way back, I flipped through the channels and was able to pick up 670 The Score, one of the sports stations out of Chicago. A commercial came on for something called Nuvigil® which, technically, is the generic pharmaceutical compound, armodafinil, and is produced by Cephalon Inc.

Armodafinil is prescribed for people who suffer the dread disease, Shift Work Disorder.

Yes, the mad scientists and captains of industry who run Big Pharma have now transformed the yawn into an ailment.

Quick, Call An Ambulance!

Shift Work Disorder has become so ingrained in the doctor’s office culture that it’s referred to almost affectionately as SWD. You know as well as I do that whenever something becomes an acronym, it has become part of our human genome.

So now the fact that people who work overnights and have trouble getting enough sleep are viewed as suffering from a horrible malady and — whaddya know?! — need these new, miraculous little pills.

In fact, there’s a mysterious symptom of SWD that bedevils its sad victims. It’s called ES. Lord above, please don’t ever let me have to bear the horrors of ES. Scientists, chemists, and doctors must work around the clock to battle this scourge.

Somehow the heroic folks of Cephalon who put out the outfit’s website have mustered the courage to actually define ES. Yes, they have steeled themselves to type the words Excessive Sleepiness.

He Needs Pills, Stat!

The marvels of modern science! Who would have though that if you work nights and aren’t able to get enough sleep you’d become, well, sleepy?

Now, the sane among us agree that the optimal cure for SWD and its little brother, ES, is to look for a day job but, of course, that would preclude the need for Cephalon Inc.’s new, miraculous little pills.

It’s funny. There’s a group of people who have long had to work late into the night and have had trouble getting to sleep after their work shifts. They’re called musicians.

Musicians are notorious for having drug problems. Read any rock or pop or country star’s autobiography and nine times out of ten it’ll include several chapters on the author’s mighty battle with substances.

And just as invariably, they ascribe their early propensity to self-medicate to the twin needs of getting themselves up for their performances and then getting themselves down so they can sleep. They take speed or cocaine to prepare for the night’s gig and then they gulp downers or smoke pot or drink Southern Comfort (the foulest spirit ever distilled, BTW) to lull themselves into the arms of Morpheus.

Dr. Richards, I Presume

It’s an ugly vicious cycle, brought on by the performer’s need to make piles of cash in the short period that they may be popular and to provide ongoing employment for the dozens of people who depend on them. This kind of drug-taking is frowned upon.

Yet Nuvigil is advertised all day long and doctors prescribe it by the bushel-full.

Yet another thing I can’t figure.

GO AWAY, WOULDJA?

As long as I’m harping on the imponderables, how about this?

Who does Grover Norquist think he is and why in the world should we pay an iota of attention to such a grim-visaged, rigid, morally superior ideologue?

One thought on “The Pencil Today:

  1. bill says:

    It’s important to note your first foray into hosting the family’s formal T-day holiday gathering. I’m sure you carved with aplomb and put your own unique stamp on the day. Low key, low drama, serenity, Right? Mazel Tov! It’s a Mitzvah! w/ a side of Tsouris. The birth of an annual occasion!

    We only had to survive a three Glab onslaught here. They were enthused by the prospect of seeing Unca’ Mike in his natural habitat. I’d like to think their food induced docility took the edge off their usual Glabness. I know for sure that they ate for pleasure with you, not hunger. Someday there may be a gathering of the clans with Glabs and Lichs and Adams and Wilsons, in and out-laws, young and old alike. To me that sounds like a grand occasion. A logistical nightmare, but worth it, “for the children”.

    Moving on…

    Shift work is a genetic imperative for some of us. A practical necessity for some and pure torture for anyone not predisposed to it. On any given graveyard shift it’s easy to spot and classify the fit and misfit. In a sane world, shift work would be assigned to those best suited for it. It’s a qualification; as necessary as training and skill. The productivity impact of our bizarro world HR and management thinking that workers are doll house furniture will someday be recognized as an easily curable disorder that doesn’t require pharmaceuticals;
    just a well-placed slap upside the haid’ll do it.

    Which brings us to the Grover monster who needs to turn blue. Being absolutely wrong about absolutely everything for as long as Mr. Norquist can only be accommodated within strict confines It appears that.right wing politics and journalism are ideally suited to the trait.
    So much so that it attracts the absolute wrongest and heaps them with great riches. Maybe
    Cephalon Inc.can come up with a pill for that! I look forward to his being an ignominious footnote in our history books. Recognized as the side-show figure he really is.

    Peace-

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