September 2020

Who Cares

This may well determine who wins. Who actually cares about who wins the presidential race and who does not. You would think everyone cares, but after the debate on Tuesday night, does anyone?

Blood Sport

We are about to see the worst of humanity as well as the worst of the American political system following the untimely death of one of my personal heroines, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She was a pioneer for women and a Jewish woman who represented the best of America in every way.


I am not sure that there has ever been a figure on the U.S. political scene who has both embodied a cause and exemplified it at the same time more than Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. If there is someone else, it is Thurgood Marshall. This may be one of those times worth going back to Hollywood to grasp exactly what the people who stood for the cause actually went through to accomplish what they did. In both the films Marshall and On the Basis of Sex, Hollywoodization allows some degree of comprehension of what it must have been like to…

A Wristwatch

I remember the moment well. In the fall of 1992 upstart “Third Way” Democrat Bill Clinton had managed to get by all the bimbo accusations one candidate could muster (at least until Donald Trump) and was debating the incumbent President of the United States, George H. W. Bush.


The first is a lie. It’s the appearance or perception of something that is not. The second is a disappointment. You had expected one thing and got another, usually producing lesser joy. You were disillusioned. I have been thinking about both of these words a lot of late particularly as it applies to how I try to get at the truth.


Donald Trump is not the cause of the current state of American misery. Had Hillary Clinton won in 2016, we would still have the virus and that’s problem number one. We would still have the fires and climate change. That’s problem number two. The virus would still have caused the economic downturn, but I really doubt Hillary would have done any better although she might have been more honest about it.

Basic Clinical Research

In 1995, when I became the Associate VP for Clinical and Translational Research at MD Anderson, I was thoroughly unqualified for such a title. I was a bench scientist who had done very little translational research and no clinical research beyond being a fellow in the Medicine Branch of the National Cancer Institute doing the scut work associated with the clinical research of others. I knew how a clinical study was supposed to be run, but little else. I had a lot to learn and many patient faculty members who were kind enough to teach me.


Both of these opinion pieces from The Wall Street Journal on September 9 make the same point. President Trump is clearly behind in the polls and is behind due to his own behavior. Rather than recognize that he barely eked out a win in 2016 and thus needed to expand his support, he has chosen over the past four years to consolidate that support and alienate the many in the middle who may have voted for him reluctantly in 2016 and now would never do so. So what’s going on?

Law And Order And Age

Both of my sons get incessant joy teasing me about my addiction to Law and Order, the NBC TV show now in syndication on Sundance, Ion, and BBC America. Neither of my kids can understand how I watch the same episodes over and over again. It’s the predictable rhythm of great dialogue and great actors in a police procedural that never strays far from the station house or the courtroom. Like any addiction it satisfies an urge. The urge is for resolution even if not for justice because the good guys don’t always win. I think an addiction to Law and Order is a function of age. I believe it is those who watched it originally who watch it now and those people would be my age, over 70.

Empty Promises

I don’t hear well. I haven’t for a number of years. Many faculty members during my days as a vice president probably attributed this to my not understanding what they were saying, but I understand when I can hear. It got so bad that several years ago the BW had me go to MD Anderson and get my hearing tested. Anderson has a rather advanced Audiology Department with great personnel. Sure enough, it was not a lack of understanding that was my problem, but too many Jefferson Airplane concerts at the Fillmore East in my younger days. I had high frequency hearing loss and needed bilateral hearing aids. They are most helpful. I wished I had gotten them earlier. So do many faculty members, I suspect.