I live in a marvelous, and magical, age. I was alive when the first heart transplant was performed (December 3, 1967). In fact, I was just 4 years old when the first successful kidney transplant was performed. It was 16 more years before the first successful pancreas transplant took place. We now see face transplants; and re-attachments of severed limbs, hands, and fingers (even a penis!) have become commonplace.
My own father, at age 80, had a pacemaker implanted. These implants have become commonplace. I play golf with a gentleman of some years (83) just recently had a defibrillator implanted. It replaced his pacemaker and will do that job as well as get control of his heart if it goes into arrhythmia. Defibrillators were once large machines that were found only in hospitals. But, to date, we have no implantable artificial heart.
The next best thing may soon come to pass... a grow-your-own heart. No, you will not have to grow it yourself but biologists are working toward growing implantable organs from stem cells. Think of it. We already have tissue banks for some things... like corneas. But nothing for organs. At least, not yet. But that may come.
In the meantime, we have transplant lists. These have been in the news lately. And not enough people are listed as organ donors (I am... Florida permits us to notate this status in our driver license records).
And why am I delving into all this? Because of this article. This is not re-attachment, this is the transplanting of hands. And the transplanted hand will work, it will grasp, it will hold things, it may grasp a ball, a bat, a golf club! A child may have a chance at some semblance of a normal life. But, from what I gathered from the article, it will start with children who have lost both hands and, presumably, will only transplant one hand.
It may not be officially summer but Florida does not wait for such things. As I look at my little Weatherbug gadget on the right hand edge of my screen, I note it says it's 92oF. I have no idea what that is in Celsius but it wouldn't feel any cooler just because the number is lower. The "realfeel" number is 108. It is hot! It is miserably hot. And sweaty... very sweaty... dripping, sticky, itchy sweaty.
I played golf yesterday morning. I wilted in the heat. Normally, we tee off before 8 AM. This helps a little because we get done by 11 AM or a little after. Yesterday, we teed off at 8:30 and things went slowly. Very slowly. Hit the ball, head for shade, wait for the group ahead to clear the green, hit the ball again, head for shade.
Slowly, oh so slowly, we seemed to crawl around the course. It was a regulation round of 4 hours. But it seemed much longer.
As my picture shows, I sport a goatee. I have worn beards, with a few periods of not, since shortly after I left the Navy at age 23 (late 1969). I say shortly because beards were not permitted at the time I served. Moustaches had to be permitted after one requested one through a "chit." What a"chit" is is unimportant. I had grown a moustache during my last WesPac (trip to the Tonkin Gulf and other exotic places in the western Pacific) but shaved it off soon after arriving back in CONUS (Continental United States). I had to. The Marines at the gate would not let me pass because the mustache was not on my military ID card. I got around that a couple of times but decided it was not worth the effort or the hassle of getting a new ID card.
After I left the Navy, I was in the Los Angeles area and beards were common. So I let mine grow. It took a long time, it seemed. And it was sparse compared to some (most, actually) but it was what I wanted, what I thought was right. The hair was allowed to grow too. It saved money for barbers. And it was also common at the time for men to have long hair. I was less suspect as a "narc" when seeking drugs, too. Which was odd because undercover cops grew beards and long hair too, so beards and long hair actually meant nothing.
I shaved off the beard (but left the moustache) and got my hair cut shortly before I applied for employment with Southern Bell in Miami a few months into 1970. I didn't shave again after my first week on the job and I didn't get another haircut until 1974. I let the hair grow back until 1978 when I decided I was tired of washing it and taking care of it. Long hair requires a lot of effort to keep clean and under control. I trimmed my beard from time to time but did not shave it off again. I trimmed it into a goatee around 1989 and then again a few years ago.
Why am I babbling about my beard? Because I read this which burrowed into my brain and took up residence.
Why did I grow a beard? Unlike the author of that piece, I never met a woman who disliked beards. Even my mother liked it (unlike his). She never complained about it anyway. No one did, as I recall. I grew it for a simple reason: I am lazy. Shaving every day is a pain in the derriere. I shave my cheeks and neck maybe once every couple of days when the neck growth starts to itch too much. The cheek growth never seems to itch. My facial hair is soft, unlike some men with much more testosterone, I suppose. Perhaps that's why the women I dated and married never complained or maybe because the beard hid my weak chin.
There's another possible reason... beards, especially soft ones, can tickle... wherever, and whatever, they touch.
Are you concerned about the NSA getting the phone records of, basically, every phone call made in the United States?
I am just curious. It is being called "metadata". What is metadata? Well, Techterms.com defines it this way: Metadata describes other data. It provides information about a certain item's content. For example, an image may include metadata that describes how large the picture is, the color depth, the image resolution, when the image was created, and other data. A text document's metadata may contain information about how long the document is, who the author is, when the document was written, and a short summary of the document.
In the NSA case, this is phone numbers and more. The calling number, the called number, and the duration of the call. It might include the names of the owners of said phone numbers or it might not, that part is unclear at the moment. The NSA is not only gathering this data (and has been for quite some time) but it is storing it for future use. If they determine that a number belongs to a certain person of interest, they will be able to go back and search through this metadata for patterns of calls, presumably to build a case against that person (and others, I would guess, found to be involved in whatever activity that was of interest).
No big deal, right? What harm can come of this? After all, it is just phone numbers and call duration.
But who will get access to this data? Will it be restricted to the NSA and only sifted through by them to collect information about suspects involved in terror attacks? or will it, someday, be accessed by political operatives to gather information about those they see as political opponents?
Why... that's silly, you say, what can they possibly find out?
Calls to one's gynecologist. Calls to Planned Parenthood. Calls to an abortion clinic. Calls to a psychiatrist or psychologist. Calls to other political opponents. Calls to reporters. Calls to sex talk lines. Calls to escort services. Calls to girlfriends or boyfriends by married people. Calls to stockbrokers.
All of which include date, time of day, duration, and number of calls.
Quite a bit of this can lead to further investigation which might reveal information about people that could be used to control them.
I was reading a story in the NY Times (online) that suggests that a Brooklyn detective might have some problems with credibility in regard to confessions he elicited from suspects. Something about similar language.
I was whisked back to a couple of incidents in my own sordid past. One occurred when I was 17 [link] and the other occurred in 2004.
Let me recap the first incident (if you don't wish to read the linked post):
I was ticketed for running a stop sign. the ticketing officer lied about the event and the circumstances and I ended up being found "guilty."
The second incident happened while I was driving to work one night in West Palm Beach. It involved a car acciddent involving a sheriff's deputy and a civilian. I was merely a witness. A concerned citizen who stopped to render aid. The deputy's car spun out and came to a stop in the median. The civilian's car stopped a little further down the road on the right hand shoulder.
After ascertaining both drivers (there were no passengers in either vehicle) were not in need of medical help, I hung around to give a statement. My statement was clear: I saw the officer speed onto the interstate from an on-ramp with her light bar flashing. I saw her approach the cluster of cars a hundred or so yards ahead. I could not see beyond the tail lights of the cars closest to me as that section of the interstate is unlit. I saw the deputy's car move from the middle lane to the fast lane and then move quickly back. She then spun out and ended up in the median.
I was asked by the deputy when I first approached her car if I saw a white car jump in front of her. I told her no, that I could only see that row of tail lights closest to me. The deputy writing up the accident also asked me the same question and I answered in the same way. He had me sign the statement (which read exactly what I had said).
Before I moved to Sebring, I attended a deposition wherein I was shown a copy of my statement. It no longer reflected what I had stated but said I saw the white car pull into the lane just ahead of the deputy. It also had a signature which in no way, shape, or form resembled my own. I pointed these out to the attorneys.
Some months later, after I had moved to Sebring, I was called as a witness at a trial of a woman accused of driving that white car. I spent about 10 or 15 minutes on the stand while I was questioned about that accident. I repeated my original statement, not the one I saw at the deposition. The driver was cleared of all involvement.
To be honest, I have no idea if she pulled in front of that deputy's car and it's possible she had. But it would have been awfully dishonest of me to say she had. The moral to this story? Cops lie. Not all of them, of course, but one is enough and I found two.