I’d rather be blasting homeopathy…

Although Austin has been doing such a great job in this area, and Cath’s defrocking of “horror-scopes” made a nice contribution, I would like to get my own claws on this matter. But alas, sadly, I have my own agenda that needs attention first. One day, perhaps, I will have the time to touch on homeopathy. And chess. And also challenge those who think they can “wipe the floor at scrabble”. Hope the letter tiles didn’t get dirty…

But for now, it’s another couple letters of complaint that I managed to throw together, in between what I’m actually supposed to be doing. The first letter is to an acronym-termed anonymous company that posted a $63 fine on my car windshield while my family and I were enjoying a phenomenal dance performance by the African-American group known as “Step Afrika”. The second letter is to my representative congressman, Mr. Terry Lee. All bets are off as to whether either letter will even be replied to.

Place your bets:
A) Replies to Letter 1 and Letter 2
B) Replies to Letter 1 and not Letter 2
C) Replies to Letter 2 and not Letter 1
D) No reply at all…
E) None of the above (just for good measure)

Letter 1:

Dear Payment Center – PRRS,

Last evening on Feb. 18 at approximately 7:35 p.m., my family and I arrived in downtown Omaha—specifically to the Holland Center, to watch the 8:00 p.m. “Step Afrika” dance performance. We have had season’s tickets to all dance performances for the past 4-5 years, and have been paying $8.00 for parking at the nearby outdoor lot.
First of all, in all these years, we have NEVER (I repeat, NEVER) been issued any receipt to place on the dashboard of the car. The system was managed exclusively by one manner: only paying customers were allowed to enter the lot. Our only instruction was to “park anywhere”.

My family, including a 9 year old boy and 12 year old girl, along with my wife and myself, were absolutely appalled to find that we had been accused of violating the law (and were ticketed with a $63 fine) when we arrived back in the parking lot after a wonderful and inspiring performance. We have raised our children to be honest, law abiding, and entirely truthful. My wife and I are both professors involved in biomedical research at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, and ethics in science are an integral part of our mentoring of graduate and medical students.

In this regard, I have three honest witnesses, who heard the conversation between my wife and myself about who would take the parking fee out of whose wallet to pay, and whether we should try to find exact change, or pay the $8.00 fee with a $10.00 bill—which is what we ultimately did.

The next inaccurate issue is that the ticket was issued for 2/18/2011 and the time listed was 19:04. This is the time that we left our West Omaha home for the ~30 minute drive out to the Holland Center downtown. We arrived approximately at 19:35, as noted above, which allowed us to enter the Holland Center at about 19:40, watch part of a high school step show and then find our way to our seats just before the performance. I myself did not arrive home from work in West Omaha until 18:30 p.m., when my family sat down for dinner, and as noted, we did not leave our home until about 19:00.

My family and I are very disturbed by this unjust citation, and we respectfully request that this fine be waived, as we have paid our dues to the yellow-jacketed parking attendants, and have done nothing wrong. We would like very much to prove to our children that there is justice in the American system, and that this dispute will meet with a fair reponse.

Respectfully,

Letter 2

As a citizen of the city of Omaha in Douglas County, a scientist, author and constituent, I strongly request that you vigorously oppose H.R.1, a continuing resolution (CR) for the remainder of FY2011, that includes steep cuts to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). These proposed cuts to the NIH budget will be a disaster for my laboratory and other the laboratories at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. The proposed budgetary cuts will not only have a very negative impact on jobs in Nebraska, they will slow the development of cures for many diseases, including cancer. Moreover, the loss of key personnel in my laboratory and others in the state resulting from these budget cuts will be harmful to the Nebraskan economy. Please understand that researchers such as myself come from institutions across the globe, and every laboratory built and stabilized in this state contributes in numerous ways to the growth of Nebraska: enhanced economy, jobs, spending and tax dollars, as well as bringing and maintaining more outstanding citizens to this state.

H.R.1 plans to fund the NIH at FY08 levels. If this CR is enacted, these drastic cuts will devastate biomedical research; cures will be delayed, jobs will be eliminated, and American leadership and innovation will be jeopardized. NIH is the primary federal agency responsible for conducting and supporting medical research, most of which is done at medical schools, hospitals, universities and research institutes distributed in every state in the country. NIH-funded research drives scientific innovation and develops new and better diagnostics, prevention strategies, and more effective treatments. NIH-funded research also contributes to the nation’s economic strength by creating skilled, high-paying jobs; new products and industries; and improved technologies.

Continued commitment to NIH is essential for securing a strong national economy and for maintaining our leadership as the global leader in research and development. Indeed, as President Obama stated in his 2011 State of the Union Address to Congress, “one key to future growth in the U.S. economy will be to encourage American innovation and job creation by investing in research and development—including biomedical research at the NIH.”

Investment in the NIH produces a steady stream of talented researchers who lead the way to treatments and cures for some of the world’s most devastating diseases. In fact, a report by Families USA estimated that in FY07, NIH awards to the states resulted in 351,000 jobs that paid an average annual wage of more than $52,000 and this resulted in $50.537 billion in increased output of goods and services to the U.S. The jobs, the spinoff industries, and the local development that are sustained by NIH awards will disappear or relocate to more competitive nations—such as China or India—without continued and stable funding for the NIH.

In addition, a cut of the magnitude proposed by H.R.1 will slow research progress and squander invaluable scientific opportunities, to the detriment of our nation’s health. As a result of recent investments, we have experienced extraordinary advances in biomedical research that have resulted in significant breakthroughs in many life-threatening diseases. Examples of these advances include a 60% reduction in death from coronary heart disease; a reduction in U.S. cancer death rates by 11.4% among women and almost 20% for men in the past 15 years; and indeed, because of NIH-funded research, a dramatic improvement in life expectancy overall. These advances did not happen overnight. It takes a sustained commitment of time and resources to realize these and many other medical breakthroughs.

I urge you to strongly oppose H.R.1 and support the NIH with sustained, dependable funding. We need to continue to work together to build an economy that promotes jobs and spurs scientific innovation. Science, research, discovery, and innovation are keys to a better future and are a strategic step forward in ensuring not only a strong economy but also a healthy nation.

Sincerely,

I KNOW WHAT I’M BETTING, AND IT’S NOT WHAT I’M HOPING...

About Steve Caplan

I am a Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, Nebraska where I mentor a group of about 10 students, postdoctoral fellows and researchers working on endocytic protein trafficking. My first lablit novel, "Matter Over Mind," is about a biomedical researcher seeking tenure and struggling to overcome the consequences of growing up with a parent suffering from bipolar disorder. Lablit novel #2, "Welcome Home, Sir," published by Anaphora Literary Press, deals with a hypochondriac principal investigator whose service in the army and post-traumatic stress disorder actually prepare him well for academic, but not personal success. Novel #3, "A Degree of Betrayal," is an academic murder mystery that is now in press! All views expressed are my own, of course--after all, I hate advertising. http://www.stevecaplan.net
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5 Responses to I’d rather be blasting homeopathy…

  1. cromercrox says:

    I’d go for option C.

  2. Tideliar says:

    Yeah, I’m with HG. I always get a reply, even if a form letter, from my Congresscritters… My Rep (Steve Cohen (D)), has written me a real reply once too, on his office letterhead.

  3. Good luck with both!

  4. Steve Caplan says:

    In the meantime, it looks like the good congressman voted FOR “H.R.1”. So I am doubtful that anyone will want to respond… There go my plans for a dozen new experiments…

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