Monday, May 15, 2017
On Casino Design and Compulsive Gambling: There's a unified purpose behind the lack of wall clocks and windows at casinos: confusion. That unique purpose only gets extended when you factor in the wacky carpets, hard-to-find bathrooms, and free drinks. What casino designers hope to achieve is a genuine lack of awareness among gamblers to the point where all they focus on is gambling. In effect, neither time nor basic human functions should matter when it comes to betting money. Yet if you do manage to find the bathrooms, casinos usually maintain top-notch facilities. Needless to say, compulsive gambling becomes a distinct psychological problem when considering the numerous factors working against the gambler. But aside from all of the casino's purposeful distractions, compulsive gamblers often go to extreme lengths just to recoup any kind of losses. Unfortunately, it tends to morph into a downward spiral that never ends well.
Saturday, April 15, 2017
On the Samaritan Woman at the Well: Not too many people today, at least in the First World, obtain their water from a well or a cistern. Two-thousand years ago, however, it was quite common. For the most part, people would go to the well at either sunrise or sunset. Yet in this Gospel of John story, Jesus encounters the Samaritan woman at the well around noon. This peculiar fact indicates that she may not have been a highly respected individual in Samaria. What's more is that she's said to have had five husbands. Perhaps it's this reason alone why the Samaritan woman has been shunned by the local community. Whatever the case may be, the idea that Jesus (a Jewish man) sought out this Samaritan woman for a spiritual conversation (involving water as a metaphor for eternal life) shows how diplomatic He could be. And diplomacy was always important between Judea and Samaria, especially since the Jews and Samaritans tended to view each other with disdain.
Wednesday, March 15, 2017
On the Prospects of Cancer Immunotherapy: Essentially, this therapy boils down to the use of a person's immune system to treat cancer. There are both active and passive forms of immunotherapy. Active immunotherapies mostly involve the extraction of immune cells from a patient's blood (or tumor) to be genetically modified, incubated, and returned to the patient with the intention of targeting a specific cancer. Unfortunately, many active immunotherapies are still in varying phases of development at a number biopharmaceutical companies around the world. In fact, one of the only FDA-approved active immunotherapies is a drug called Provenge, which targets prostate cancer. Regarding passive immunotherapies, however, the use of monoclonal antibodies (or MABs) are the main focus. And they are largely designed to supplement the body's response to the active immunotherapies.
Wednesday, February 15, 2017
On the Origins of Black History Month: Dating back to the 1920s, Black History Month originally began as "Negro History Week." Carter G. Woodson, a black historian who was only the 2nd African American to graduate with a Ph.D. from Harvard (after W. E. B. Du Bois), first proposed the idea to coincide with the birthdays of President Lincoln (February 12th) and Frederick Douglass (February 14th). And because Douglass was one of the first African Americans to visit the White House (with Lincoln in 1862), the concept of "Negro History Week" made a great deal of socio-cultural sense. Although "Negro History Week" did not officially become Black History Month until the 1970s, its primary purpose remained the same. And that was to teach history through biography. In other words, school children (of all backgrounds) ought to be made aware of the special contributions that black Americans have made to U.S. History.
Sunday, January 15, 2017
On Microagression Theory: Perhaps this psychological theory amounts to nothing more than self-victimization, or perhaps it reveals some deeper truths about the basic super-culture that drives modern, Western capitalism. Originating in the 1970s, which was a decade that saw the Post-WWII block of American hegemony start to fracture (think Vietnam), it's a theory that ultimately gave rise to major sociopolitical concepts of the 1980s like "political correctness" and "identity politics." Nevertheless, microagressions can assume a wide variety of forms, as they encapsulate everything from casual comments about race, class, age, ability, or sex/gender to unconscious actions indicating fear of "otherness." Examples of microagressions may include something like "what's up with your accent?" or "why are Asians such good students?" These statements can be collectively considered indications of a dominant culture acting against perceived threats to its power. Yet like any theory involving cultural psychology, if taken too far, pointing out microagressions can begin to limit free speech.