It was announced today thatthe Henrietta Lacks Foundation has finally been approved by the IRS as a 501c3 tax exempt charity. This NY Times story gives overviews of what the foundation has already accomplished and what it plans to do in the future. Hopefully, this will allow the lighting of even more candles for the Lacks family, as well as other deserving grant-recipients.
While a portion of the royalties from one book will not right the wrongs of history, this is a commendable step by the author, Rebecca Skloot.
I like to think that some hazy day in the not-too distant future, I'll be reading the paper, web, (whatever comes next?) and suddenly realize that it is the 25th or 37th or 50th anniversary of Skloot's important book. I hope the article will be some lengthy feature on all the good the foundation has done. I hope there will be lists and lists of beneficiaries. I hope there will be stories of Lacks-family second-generation college students. And Lacks-family MDs. And Lacks-family public servants.
I hope Henrietta's family's literal and figurative fortune will multiply as rapidly as those revolutionary cells.
I'm mostly writing this post for catharsis. Not because it's necessary or interesting or enlightening...but just because I want to. I need to.
Today blew chunks.
My day included, but was not limited to:
Having to start at least 4 phone calls with the phrase "I'm so sorry that I haven't returned your email/call..." because I'm up to my ears in a seemingly endless project. Just when I think I can move on...NO. More to do.
Getting evacuated from my office in the midst of the aforementioned endless project due to a "suspicious package." (And yes, the phrase "suspicious package" makes me giggle, too.)
Coming back from the aforementioned evacuation to have a document from the aforementioned endless project completely seize up and die. When I tried to reopen it, I was told it was "contaminated" (or something), and I wasn't able to recover any of my work. So I had to start over. Which means I had to apologize to yet another person about not having something done when I said I would.
Reading that in Wisconsin...wait...never mind.
Losing a key. Not an important key, but a useful key nonetheless. Maybe I'll find it, eventually. But still...
Inadvertently hauling my gym bag up to my office this morning, in the midst of my pre-coffee fog. And then having to bring my work laptop home tonight. All of this in addition to hauling my home laptop and reams of output to work because I needed my data files for my dissertation meeting at 5pm. I needed a flipping Sherpa to get out of the office tonight.
Finding out, at the aforementioned dissertation meeting, that the scale I'm using for my dependent variable isn't working as well as I'd like. So I have to pull it apart and reassemble it as two dependent variables. And then re-run all of my analyses. These things won't really take all that long...but it was really disheartening. Especially after all of the aforementioned things.
Obviously, none of these things are life-threatening or remotely serious or anything that I need to carry around with me for very long. Obviously, I'm venting, and you can bet your bottom dollar that the sun will come out tomorrow.
AUGH. Today blew chunks.
But I should have seen it coming. Really. The signs were all there. The signals couldn't have been clearer.
(and I'm sorry about what comes next...)
Because this morning, when I pulled up to a stop light, right behind some guy in a big-old boat of a car, he opened up his door, leaned out, and puked all over the ground.
I guess I should have seen today coming. The signs were all right there...one car-length in front of me.
(There are about 472 F-bombs in this post. Some cleverly disguised with @s. Some without. So proceed with caution. Though if you're offended by F-bombs, then clearly we've never actually met...)
I'm not sure what the shelf-life of internet memes is these days, but I've decided I don't care. I put together the bones of this post two weeks ago, but never had time to flesh it out. And I still think it's worth a little e-ink, so I'm subjecting you to it now. Even though the immediacy of the stuff is over. Though, technically, it must still be relevant, since Colbert talked about it this very evening. (Clips: SC talks about the Tweets & the actual interview...also, I wrote this post before I watched the clips, just FYI)
So, as I'm sure you already know, Rahm Emanuel left Washington D.C. to run for mayor of Chicago. And, as I'm sure you already know, he won. While there was all sorts of excitement and political intrigue (Was Emanuel actually a resident? Could he be on the ballot? What will Chicago be like with this guy in charge?!?), the part that kept me riveted to my computer screen was the @MayorEmanuel Twitter Account.
Some guy, who was completely anonymous for the active life of the posting, started a series of Tweets documenting campaign activities of the (fake) mayoral candidate. Fake Rahm went to town hall meetings and listening sessions and court proceedings. Fake Rahm hung out with his intern, Carl, his brother, Ari, David Axelrod, and their duck, Quaxelrod. He shook hands and drank lots of coffee and met with Mayor Richard M. Daley. They drove around in Axelrod's Honda Civic from meeting to meeting. The account essentially documented all of the things real candidates might actually do (minus that duck, I suppose).
You know what else Fake Rahm did? He swore like a mother-f@cking sailor. The way Real Rahm supposedly does...though certainly not on his real Twitter Account. Every post had at least one conjugation of the F-bomb. F@ck. F@cking. Mother-f@cker. You name it, it was in there...whether it needed to be, or not. And he said whatever the f@ck he wanted. About whoever the f@ck he wanted to say it about. As you might imagine politicians often wish they could.
Oh, and if you crossed him? Well, that was your mistake. Especially if you somehow, inexplicably, missed the fact that Fake Rahm was...well...fake.
My favorite part was when he got in on the Great Southern Migration of 2011 (remember to start with the Tweets at the bottom and read your way to the top):
Click image for better/larger view.
For someone who loves--and uses--the F-bomb as much as I do, reading this stuff was right up my alley. While I had followed the Tweets sporadically throughout the later stages of the campaign, I really got into it the very last week of the campaign. This was, coincidentally, the same week when all of the protests and political drama in Madison were really ratcheting up to full tilt.
Quick sidebar: As you know, I love Wisconsin. And as you might imagine, I am heart-broken about what is going on in my home state. And when things were really getting going a couple weeks ago, with the discovery of all of the devastating items in the bill, with the massive protests, with the complete shock that something like this could happen in Wisconsin...I felt really leveled. Really so very, very sad. I would come home every night and sit glued to my laptop. Reading every story I could find. Following Twitter feeds. Reading friends' Facebook posts. Jay would ask if I was okay. I would respond, "I have malaise." It sort of started out as a joke...but really, it wasn't.
So after a week of really feeling sad and finding very little joy or humor in anything, I somehow decided I was going to start at the beginning and read my way through all of Fake Rahm's Tweets. All 1,850+ (at the time) of them. Because, you know, I have nothing else do to.
And suddenly, for the first time in about a week, I was laughing. Laughing so hard that my face hurt. Laughing so loud that Jay had to close the door between the living room and my desk. Laughing so fervently that I was shaking and tears were streaming down my face. Laughing. For the first time in a week.
God, that felt good.
To me, Fake Rahm's Twitter account warmed the world for a couple important reasons. First, the sharp, smart, vulgar humor helped me connect with and give voice to my own outrage about the situation in Wisconsin...without actually screaming irrationally or being (too) overtly negative. Throughout the whole "Crisis in the Dairyland" (as Jon Stewart calls it), I've tried not to resort to comparing anyone to Hitler or insulting anyone's manhood. I've tried to be as thoughtful and fair as I possibly can. I'll readily admit that I've only been moderately successful at this endeavor. (I tried. I really did.) But when I read those Tweets, holy f@ck did I feel fantastic! What a f@cking release that was. Exactly what I f@cking needed right that very f@cking moment!
You know why else I loved the whole Fake Rahm thing? Because it was a brilliant use of Twitter. Some of us (and I'm guilty as charged) just retweet the thoughts and news stories of others. Other folks (celebs?) use it to document their every thought waking moment. There is all sorts of junk on Twitter, no doubt about it.
But this? This was genius. It took a real, live person involved in a real, live series of events and gave us what felt like just-barely fiction. In 140 characters or less. We know this is a comedic caricaturization of Real Rahm...but it sort of seems like just barely doesn't it? Like you could almost imagine some of this actually happening. The creator of Fake Rahm told us a raucous, humorous story over the course of roughly five months. You came back each day for the next installment. And you laughed...and then laughed some more.
Like I said...genius.
Fake Rahm is gone now. He disappeared into a vortex the day after the election...which is sad...but probably for the best. The world can only handle one foul-mouthed mayor of Chicago.
I was perusing the interwebs while enjoying a decadent Friday lunch delivery from Erbert & Gerbert. (I haven't done this in forever and totally splurged today. It was awesome.)
Anyway, lunch at my desk was made even awesome-er when I stumbled across a new-to-me website/blog/collection-of-wonderfulness called Smith Magazine. They're real into storytelling and creative expression...especially in the form of the "six-word memoir."
Basically, they ask folks to encapsulate love, happiness, pain, food, America, motherhood, war...whatever ...in 6 words. (Side note to Kristendom...they even have a category for digital life!) The results are pretty amazing... all sorts of simple-yet-profound and pithy-yet-hilarious thoughts from all sorts of folks.
I hate to get all preachy about something that I really don't know
anything about, but I must say that sites like this are sparkling
exemplars of why the internet rocks. The community that is formed and the creativity that is fostered by a project like this? So fantastic! We get to hear from and connect with people we would never have met. We get to express ourselves to an audience we may not have been able to find (or form) on our own.
I hope you'll check the site out...I hope you'll add your own creative contributions. But before you venture off, I hope you'll share your own six-word memoir in the comment section below. Here's mine (in the mushy, gushy "Love" category):