Freedom of Speech

I’ve commented before about how people don’t quite understand the First Amendment and the freedom of speech – see my post about Duck Dynasty from 2013.

Many thanks to my friend Colleen for posting this little graphic on Facebook the other day.  It boils it down fairly simply.


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Can’t say I’ve ever had a patient do this before… thank god…

Many thanks to BosGuy for this someecard

doctor balls hair someecards

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Remembering Oliver Sacks

Every so often, someone well known passes away and collectively we think “wow, the world lost a really important voice today.” The most recent losses that conjure that feeling, for me at least, were Robin Williams and Maya Angelou – Mr Williams for the way he made us feel when we watched him perform and Ms Angelou for the way she helped us all understand humanity.

Most people probably do not know who Dr Oliver Sacks was, but the famous neurologist and author touched the lives of countless individuals.  Thousands of scientifically and medically minded students undoubtedly read his book The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat during their college or graduate studies – it’s one of the few books from my undergraduate years that I still own.

Sacks is probably most well known for his 1973 memoir Awakenings.  The book chronicles his efforts to use the drug L-Dope to bring patients out of a persistent catatonic state – a drug that has become critically important in the fight against Parkinson’s Disease.  The book was turned into the well known movie by the same title that premiered in 1990 featuring Robert De Niro and yes… Robin Williams.

In his books, Sacks had an impeccable way of turning his patients and their conditions into eloquent (and sometimes humorous) stories, or as he liked to refer to his works as “pathographies”.  He managed to portray his case studies as characters who were able to transcend their conditions, conveying optimism even in the light of tragedy, and creating amazing stories despite the clinical and medical portrayal of “losses and deficits”.  Oliver Sacks afforded us a view of the human mind and brain in the same way that Angelou offered up the human soul.

But Sacks probably wrote it best about himself. In February of this year, Sacks wrote an Op-Ed for The New York Times titled “My Own Life“, written shortly after he learned of his terminal cancer diagnosis.  This man truly was a genius, and we were lucky to have him in our world for a little while.

I cannot pretend I am without fear. But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved; I have been given much and I have given something in return; I have read and traveled and thought and written. I have had an intercourse with the world, the special intercourse of writers and readers.

Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure.

Sacks died earlier today after a nine year battle with melanoma.  He is survived by his partner Bill Hayes.

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One day you’ve got this fully developed life, and the next day, nothing. You had to rethink everything about your existence. Our lives were ordered before. Then it was utter chaos. Trying to make sense of the chaos was comforting. Organizing things. A sense of order and dignity was important.

~Martha Murphy, former resident of DeLisle, Mississippi, reflecting on life immediately after Hurricane Katrina

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All I can say is that this is pretty much 100% true… with very few exceptions.

Substitute alcohol for coffee and this also applies.

never trust anyone who doesnt drink coffee

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Give me an Oscar or Golden Globe…

The opposite of “I speak my mind because it hurts to bite my tongue.”


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It’s a long article, but David Blight writes an interesting article about how 150 years later, America is still fighting a cultural war and grappling to learn the lessons of its own Civil War.  There are parts that I found difficult to follow, but the quote below is probably the best paragraph in the entire article.

American society seems to surge forward one moment, and then in the next sink back into polarization over race and ethnicity, over the advent of the nation’s first black president, over the rights of immigrants, over religious tolerance and birthright citizenship, over reproductive freedom, over the use of basic science to understand climate change, over the extent and protection of voting rights, over civil rights based on sexual preference, and over endless and incompatible claims of “liberty” about the possession and use of firearms, taxation, environmental protection, or the right to health insurance. Perhaps above all, America is a society riven by conflict over federalism, the never-ending debate over the proper relation of federal to state power, perhaps the most lasting a legacy of what many nineteenth century Americans called the “secession war” or simply “the rebellion.” In short, despite enormous changes of heart, head and law, Americans still struggle every day to discern and enact that society of equality that the Civil War at least made imaginable.

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