Daily Updates: Thursday, December 15th, 2016

12-15 - Bill of Rights Day

We have no Saints to honor today, but today is Bill of Rights Day, and today is the birthday of Jeanne, one of Richard’s grand-nieces, the granddaughter of his brother Slug in our town (1993).

The first ten amendments to the United States Constitution were introduced by James Madison to the First United States Congress in 1789 as a series of legislative articles, and came into effect as Constitutional Amendments on December 15th, 1791, through the process of ratification by three-fourths of the States.The Bill of Rights is a series of limitations on the power of the United States Federal government, protecting the natural rights of liberty and property including freedom of speech, a free press, free assembly, and free association. In federal criminal cases, it requires indictment by a grand jury for any capital or “infamous crime”, guarantees a speedy, public trial with an impartial jury composed of members of the state or judicial district in which the crime occurred, and prohibits double jeopardy. In addition, the Bill of Rights reserves for the people any rights not specifically mentioned in the Constitution and reserves all powers not specifically granted to the federal government to the people or the States. In 1941 President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared December 15th to be Bill of Rights Day, commemorating the 150th anniversary of the ratification of the Bill of Rights. The original document is on display at the National Archives and Records Administration, in the Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom in Washington, D.C. (I currently object to a large portion of public opinion which appears to have changed the wording of the Second Amendment to “Anyone and everyone can have guns, no matter who, no matter why, no matter what.” The Second Amendment actually states, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a Free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Since we no longer have a Militia, wherein each person would have to grab the long gun off from the pegs over the fireplace to serve when called (we now have what is called an Army for the Security of our Free State), I don’t see why the Second Amendment is still in operation. Each State should decide for itself if guns, and what kind of guns, should be legal.) And today is the birthday of Jeanne, one of Richard’s grand-nieces, the granddaughter of his brother Slug in our town (1993).

I woke up at 8:30 am, and posted to Facebook that today was Bill of Rights Day. I then did my Book Devotional Reading. I readdressed the Christmas card to Richard’s brother Butch in Baton Rouge, and when I put that out in the mail I also put out the flag. I then read the Thursday papers and ate my breakfast toast. (Our local paper had an item noting that “Semi-threatening call received at Wal-Mart”; Richard and I both wonder just what a semi-threatening call would be.) I then wrapped up the presents for Liz Ellen (more anon), and Richard took a nap at 12:00 pm.

At 12:45 pm I left the house on my own in the car. At McDonald’s I ate lunch and started reading the November 28th, 2016 issue of my Jesuit America magazine (it’s the first one after the election). I then went to Wal-Mart, where I got my salad supplies, Liz Ellen supplies for her visit (mostly yogurt and Pepsi), and some stocking stuffers. At the Corner Store (Valero) I gassed up my car, and got half of my Powerball and Louisiana Lotto lottery tickets for Saturday night’s drawing (only my Quick Picks tickets; for my regular numbers, the machine’s camera light was not working, and there was a long line of customers developing behind me). I then went to the Hit-n-Run, and got my usual Powerball and Louisiana Lottery lottery tickets for Saturday night’s drawing using my numbers. I then sent a text to Liz Ellen (she had sent me a text earlier today saying that their computers were down at work, so to text her) telling her that the guest room was ready, I had most of her stuff, and most of her presents were wrapped.

Arriving back home at 3:00 pm, I unloaded the car and put everything up, and got out the presents for Liz Ellen that I had accidently left in the trunk of the car when I got out her presents to wrap this morning. Richard woke up, and I wrapped those last presents for Liz Ellen and put them under the tree. Our mail brought us a Christmas newsletter from my cousin Susan in Pennsylvania (she said she is spending Christmas Eve with her sister and brother in western Pennsylvania; she has one sister and two brothers, but John is in Orlando, so I assume she means Tim.) I then made my lunch salads for tomorrow and Sunday (though, with Liz Ellen visiting, it might not be Sunday when I eat that particular salad). We watched Jeopardy!, then Richard and I lit the Advent Candles. And I am now finishing up today’s Daily Update. Our New Orleans Pelicans (8-18, 0-4) will be playing a home NBA game with the Indiana Pacers (13-12, 1-2) tonight; I will record the score of the game in Friday’s Daily Update.

We have no Saints to honor tomorrow, although tomorrow is an Ember Day, the second of three for this season of the year. Tomorrow is the last day of the first half of Advent, wherein the days were noted in relation to the First Sunday of Advent. And tomorrow is Las Posadas, a re-enactment celebrated in Mexico and some other Hispanic countries of the Holy Family’s attempt to find lodging at the inn before the birth of Christ; it is celebrated for nine evenings, beginning on the evening of December 16th. Richard and I will return to the casino for the start of our work week (a short work week for me, as I have Tuesday of next week off), and on my breaks I will start reading Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry via Overdrive on my Tablet. Meanwhile, unless I hear different, Liz Ellen and her younger cat Widget (Winger having been left at the vets for the holiday) will start their two days of driving towards SouthWestCentral Louisiana; her goal on Friday is to arrive in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. In the afternoon I will do some stuff that I haven’t had a chance to do this week (like clean our my purse). And our New Orleans Pelicans will play an Away NBA game with the Houston Rockets, in a game whose score I will note in my Saturday Daily Update.

Our Parting Quote on this Thursday afternoon comes to us from Donald Metcalf, Australian medical researcher. Born in 1929 in Mittagong, New South Wales, he was educated in various country schools. He graduated in medicine from Sydney University in 1953 after completing a BSc (Med) in virology. After an internship at The Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney, he joined the staff of The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne in 1954 as the Carden Fellow in Cancer Research. From 1965 to 1996, he was Head of the Cancer Research Unit and Assistant Director of The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, and in 1996 became Professor Emeritus of The University of Melbourne. His work at The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute was interspersed with sabbatical years as a Visiting Scientist at Harvard Medical School, Boston; the Roswell Park Memorial Institute, Buffalo; the Swiss Institute for Experimental Cancer Research, Lausanne; the Radiobiological Institute, Rijswijk, and the University of Cambridge. He was rightly called “the father of hematopoietic cytokines” for his pioneering work on the control of blood cell formation. In early studies, he discovered the function of the thymus gland in controlling the formation of lymphocytes, and beginning in 1965, co-developed a series of specialized culture techniques permitting the growth of the various types of blood cells. These cultures led him and his team to the discovery of the “colony-stimulating factors” (CSFs), hormones that control white blood cell formation and are, therefore, responsible for one’s resistance to infection. His work, with that of others, led to the successful cloning of the genes for all four mouse and human CSFs, and the mass production of these hormones by bacterial, yeast, and other cells. His work provided the pivotal demonstration that the CSFs, when injected into animals, stimulated the formation and regulated the activity of white blood cells. Exploiting this, his collaborators then documented the effectiveness of GM-CSF and G-CSF (two primary white blood cell regulators) when injected into patients. These blood cell regulators are now in extensive clinical use throughout the world as valuable drugs, which can accelerate the regrowth of blood cells following anti-cancer treatment and bone marrow or peripheral blood transplantation. The corpus of his fundamental and applied research was found in more than 400 peer-reviewed scientific papers, 200 other scientific papers, and seven books. Metcalf received some of the highest honors in the world of contemporary science. Among them, he was made a Companion of the Order of Australia; he was elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, a Fellow of the Royal Society, London; and a Foreign Associate of the National Academy of Sciences of the U.S. His prizes for research include the Wellcome Prize of the Royal Society (shared), the Bristol-Myers Award for Distinguished Achievement in Cancer Research, the Hammer Prize for Cancer, the Koch Prize of the Federal Republic of Germany, and a Gairdner Foundation International Award of Canada. In addition, Professor Metcalf shared the Alfred P. Sloan Prize of the General Motors Cancer Research Foundation; received the Bertner Foundation Award of the MD Anderson Cancer Center, and the Rabbi Shai Shacknai Prize of the Hadassah University, Jerusalem. He is also a recipient of the Albert Lasker Clinical Medical Research Award, the Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize of Columbia University, the Jessie Stevenson Kovalenko Medal of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, and was the inaugural recipient of the Kantor Family Prize for Cancer Research Excellence from the Hipple Cancer Research Center. In 1995 he received the Ernst Neumann Award, International Society for Experimental Hematology and the Royal Medal, Royal Society, London. In 1996 he shared the Amgen Australia Prize and The Warren Alpert Foundation Prize, Harvard Medical School. In 1998 he was made an Honorary Member of the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Society, U.S. and in 2000 he received the Chiron International Award, National Academy of Medicine, Italy. His retirement in 1996 only meant that he continued working at his laboratory bench; he only left the bench in 2014. His autobiography, Summon up the Blood: In Dogged Pursuit of the Blood Cell Regulators, was published in 2000 (died 2014): “You learn that most medical research will never have a direct application in clinical medicine. Everybody gets used to spending decades working at the bench in the knowledge that only a very exceptional body of research will lead to some change in treatment of actual patients. So you don’t see patients very often.”

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