Saturday, July 15, 2017

On Parochial Education

On Parochial Education: Perhaps the biggest actor in parochial (religious) education is the Catholic Church. As the largest operator of non-governmental (private) schools in the world, the Church seeks to evangelize its mission by incorporating religion as a core component of K-12 curricula. Following Martin Luther's "95 Theses" (1517) and Henry VIII's creation of the "Church of England" (1534), there was a strong drive among Counter-Reformationists like Ignatius of Loyola to establish Catholic schools. With Anti-Catholicism surging in Northern Europe during the 1500s, Catholic orders (such as the Jesuits) sought to preserve the Church's customs/rituals through education. Traditionally, Catholic schools operated as single-sex institutions, but a push toward co-education in recent decades has become the norm. And this push has ultimately kept many Catholic schools afloat, as the cost of (private) education continues to rise around the world.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

On the Gombe Chimpanzee War

On the Gombe Chimpanzee War: In the mid-1970s, an outbreak of war-like violence between two distinct communities (or groups) of chimpanzees occurred in the Gombe Stream National Park (GSNP). Located in Western Tanzania, along the shores of Lake Tanganyika, the GSNP covers only 20 square miles. Despite being the smallest national park in Tanzania, it's perhaps the most famous because of Jane Goodall's research efforts there. In total, she spent over 30 years conducting observations of chimp behavior in the GSNP. When Goodall's memoir emerged in 1990, it depicted the Gombe Chimpanzee War from a firsthand perspective. Critics of Goodall pounced on her insistence that the Gombe chimps actually had a "war." In fact, many of these critics believed she was anthropomorphizing the chimps to an extreme degree. How could chimpanzees have a human-like war? Did they use guns, planes, and tanks? No, but they did have sticks, fists, and rocks. Plus, many chimps were even known to use rape as a weapon of intimidation.

Monday, May 15, 2017

On Casino Design and Compulsive Gambling

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

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

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.