…and this is a story about political attitudes and behavior.
First, the bottom line from PalMD:

While many may cringe at the paternalistic nature of public health laws, few complain about the availability of clean water and the notable absence of open sewers.

I lived through the smoking ban enacted in bars and restaurants and I couldn’t be more delighted. Although I was never particularly bothered by the smoke, no more than most that is, I certainly noticed the lack after the bans went through. No more smelly hair and clothes. No more changing the pillowcases after a night out because the smoke smell went from hair to the pillow like clockwork.
Since I’m not a smoker there was no problem.
But oh, you should have heard the caterwauling. Personal liberty was being infringed! (Never mind the liberty of others to be free from annoyance of smoke, eh? Why do the libertarians always forget that?) Business will be AffEcTed! Bars will close. Nobody will buy alcohol anymore! Nobody will go out to dine.
Naturally this never came to pass in my region of the world. Nor did it in a myriad of other jurisdictions that passed smoking bans.
Including NYC.
And here is a tale from a bartender who was practically on the ramparts to oppose the smoking ban. Changing. His. Mind. Based on the results of the policy as he personally experienced it.

And it was at that moment, silently of course, that I grudgingly had to thank old Mayor Bloomberg. For regardless of what his motivation was and regardless of the fact that he did it with an iron fist, the son-of-a-gun when it’s all said and done was right. The good, as it all turns out, outweighs the bad. And not just because of the major things, of which we are all aware, but the minor things of which you’re about to read…

Test out a policy change, evaluate the outcome. If you are originally opposed to the policy….what do you do? Do you leave your ego at the door and really look at the data? Or do you stick to your guns no matter what the evidence?
Scribbler is a standup guy for admitting he was wrong. May we all be able to do the same when public policies have results that are demonstrably better than our initial preferences.

Random Walking

October 18, 2010


I wrote a lot of grants in my first 3 years as faculty. A LOT. Nearly 30. And so I’ve read a few reviews, and a few summaries of review panel discussions that took place over my grants. I take reviewing grants incredibly seriously because I know that more often than not, someone’s career is on the line. If I agreed to do the review then the applicant absolutely deserves the most careful review that I can possibly deliver.


I guess what they are all declaring is that a salacious story about a young superstar American icon will play really well with the American audience while a sordid story about an aging superstar American icon will just not play very well in most American households. The fact that the former is a colored man while the letter is a gray-haired white man has nothing to do at all with all of this, I’m sure.


From here on up, New Postdoc, you should know there will forever be far too much administrative crap all up in your science. What, nobody really warned you about this, you say?


So. One of the things I’m afraid of is not making a significant contribution to the world while I’m here. That’s why I like publishing. That’s why I want to win grants. I want to leave something behind. Something that mattered. Even a little bit.

The PalMD readers are kicking the DM readers behinds in the Donor’s Choose stakes. Every little bit counts. How’s about a little love for the schoolkids? $5? $10?


It sounds pretty great though, doesn’t it? In practice, I think it may have meant “count how many times a monkey craps in a day”, but at the time, I thought it was terribly glamorous.