The Kindness of People

On December 1st, 2019, FOCM recommended (see “Recommended Businesses” tab) Craig Childs of C & R Photography had his photo equipment gear stolen out of his vehicle while doing an outdoor photo shoot. Through social media and a pick-up by the local news, the kindness and support of strangers during the holiday season was magnificently demonstrated. Craig and his wife Rachel (also on my Recommended Businesses tab for keeping my hair looking good; exceptional hair stylist) gave me permission to share this story.

Craig was photographing families at Fort Fisher, NC and donating all the proceeds to “A Safe Place” which helps victims of human trafficking. While doing so, approximately $4,000 worth of equipment was taken from his Jeep. The thieves also stole his sister-in-law’s purse and keys from the front seat and then broke into her car, parked nearby.

Thankfully, the money (around $600) raised for “A Safe Place” was not stolen and he still had his camera and all his family photos. .

Social media shared the story and a local friend started a GoFundMe drive to help Craig replace his gear. In less than 48 hours, $4,000 was raised allowing Craig to replace his photography gear.

Craig was very stunned and appreciative and wrote this on his C&R Photography Facebook page.

Thank you everyone so much!
The go fund me account that my friend set up for me reached its goal within less than two days! I am so overwhelmed right now. Because of your generosity I’m going to be able to order equipment in place of equipment that I lost. Because of y’all I will be able to continue on with my business/passion that I love. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart to the people that felt compelled to donate, send prayers, everyone that shared my post, everyone that offered to let me borrow their equipment if I needed it, just all of The love and support and friends that called to talk to me to cheer me up, I just really appreciate it all. For people that are wondering if there’s money left over from ordering my gear I plan to donate it to a charity and help my sister-in-law pay for a new key fob for her car!

Additionally, to show his appreciation to the community, Craig gave away two free family photo sessions drawn from people who commented on his thank you post.

Humanity: kindness at work, it is innate – people helping others.

The Human Race

I was inspired to write this because of my dear friend from college, Arturo Coppola. He described someone as being “racist” because that individual said to an American of Latino descent to “speak English” instead of Spanish. That got me to doing research on “race”.

Wikipedia breaks the human race into three races: African, Oriental and Caucasian and acknowledges that there are multiple ethnicities. A mid 20th century American anthropologist, Carleton S. Coon made the case that there are 5 races:

  • Caucasoid (White) race.
  • Negroid (Black) race.
  • Capoid (Bushmen/Hottentots) race.
  • Mongoloid (Oriental/ Amerindian) race.
  • Australoid (Australian Aborigine and Papuan) race

Yet further research and information reveals that the categorization is rather arbitrary and essentially baseless. They call it a social construct. I had to look that up to see if its what I thought it meant and it does – something made up – social construct is an idea or notion that appears to be natural and obvious to people who accept it but may or may not represent reality, so it remains largely an invention or artifice of a given society

From Wikipedia (links to sources of info I used for this blog are at the bottom). A race is a grouping of humans based on shared physical or social qualities into categories generally viewed as distinct by society. The term was first used to refer to speakers of a common language and then to denote national affiliations. By the 17th century the term began to refer to physical (phenotypical) traits. Modern scholarship regards race as a social construct, an identity which is assigned based on rules made by society. While partially based on physical similarities within groups, race is not an inherent physical or biological quality.

Humans of the same sex are 99.9% genetically identical. Any ethnic group contains 85% of the human genetic diversity of the world. Genetic data shows that no matter how population groups are defined, two people from the same population group are about as different from each other as two people from any two different population groups.

Since the beginning time when humans appeared on Earth, we tend to feel more comfortable with those with whom we grew up, those similar to us. Long ago that meant your family, your group, your neighbors. Each of those groups felt more comfortable with those with who they had the most experience and interaction. Imagine a group/clan/tribe/community of brown hair, brown-eyed, brown skinned people one thousand years ago and in walks a blond-haired, blue-eyed person. Without any prior interactive experience, there would be suspicion, skepticism, and a certain wariness.

I grew up in Yuma, AZ, a very long way from Northeastern USA. I admit to a wariness about those people who exhibit the generalization about New Jersey people: talk loudly and sound angry. That comes across to me as unpredictable, so I am wary around that type of person, I do not need to take a Xanax (that would make me a Jerseyphobe) to be around them, but I’m somewhat uncomfortable.

When I grew up in Yuma (which by the way, produces 95% of America’s winter lettuce, so when you’re enjoying lettuce in the winter, say thanks to Yuma) the population was around 40% Hispanic at that time. Therefore that is what I am used to – I am certainly more comfortable with people of Hispanic origin than I am with loud people from New Jersey. (Note: Mike Burrows, you are not loud, this isn’t about you, Helmut knows who I am referencing.)

Among humans, race has no taxonomic (i honestly don’t know what this word means and don’t want to look it up – I think it might mean something like “categories?”) significance – all living humans belong to the same speciesHomo sapiens. The amount of melanin in our skin determines our skin and hair color. Where we grew up determines the language that we speak and the accent that we have. That is about it. Therefore, we are truly one race – the Human Race. So I suggest we stop using the word “racist” and use “bigot” or maybe “differentists” – those who through ignorance, lack of education, views passed along from their parents and grandparents fear people different from them, is the right word. Differentist doesn’t appear to mean this in online dictionaries, so perhaps “bigot” (suggested by Art Coppola as a better all-inclusive word) or “ethnicist: A person who believes a particular ethnicity is superior to others are more accurate terms. Xenophobia comes from the Greek word for stranger. So I suppose that is a good overall term for people with an overblown fear of strangers. There is not ethnicity, group, tribe, country’s citizens that are better than any other. All this hyper-exaggeration of our differences when boiled down seems like like being in high school with the various baseless cliques. Isn’t it time to grow up, move past the focus on superficial differences and see that we all belong to the same race?

Benefits of Capitalism in Drug Discovery

Nathan Yates has spinal muscular atrophy and is a professor or economics and finance. Here’s an excerpt of his article on the price of a new drug to treat his condition. The bold in the text below is mine. The

The full article is here:

As someone who has lived with spinal muscular atrophy for all 30 years of my life, I was perplexed and disappointed that the recent approval of Novartis’ gene therapy Zolgensma was immediately overshadowed by outrage over the drug’s price: $2.125 million.

The Food and Drug Administration’s decision was a pivotal day for those of us in the SMA community. Zolgensma, approved for children under 2, is the only one-dose treatment option for any category of SMA patients and has been highly effective in clinical testing so far.

Sure, it’s the world’s priciest drug. But instead of debating the level of financial profit that is appropriate for Novartis, let’s focus on the needs of patients. How are we going to get treatments for rare diseases if there’s not a financial incentive for doing it? Therapies are being developed because people think they can sell them for a profit. We don’t like to talk about it, but pharmaceutical companies exist to make money. Don’t we realize, though, that all of society profits from each disease we cure and each baby that is saved from SMA and other deadly diseases?

As a professor of economics and finance, I believe that the cost-related complaints being thrown around social media are short-sighted. Shortly after Zolgensma’s price was announced, I even told a friend, “This is a good problem to have.” Why? It’s a twofold answer:

  1. Competition – drives cost down
  2. Long term value – each successive drug that’s approved will be an improvement – whether that’s injected by IV once instead of into the spinal column every 4 months or made into a pill for once a day dosing. drug

Trends: Good and Bad

I saw a few statistics recently and think that in this current environment wherein politicians make exaggerated statements of the state of the world, they deserve to be noted.

These are from TIME Magazine earlier this year.

The share of the world living in extreme pottery has declined drastically:

  • in 1990, 36% of the world lived in extreme poverty
  • in 2015, it had fallen to 10%
  • in 2030, it is expected to be 6%.

According to Forbes magazine, there are twice as many people in the world who are obese as to those who are undernourished. And now back to TIME magazine reports:

  • in 2016 in the US, 40% of adults are obese
  • in 2030, is expected to be 50%.

In 2030, 25% of total travel on US roads will be done in self-driving vehicles.

Interesting items to think about.

Levi 501 Jeans

I recently read an article by Joseph Epstein ( about a new pair of slippers he bought.  Mr. Epstein being 81 years old realized that these slippers would be the last ones he would ever need to buy.  The phrase he used was, “these should see me out.”

I had the same realization recently in regards to a pair of Levi Original Shrink to Fit 501 jeans.  I bought a pair last year and realizing that I still wear a pair of black pre-shrunk 501’s which I first got in around 1993 (when the company I worked for had just started casual attire Fridays), this pair of jeans could be the last pair I need to buy.  These pants may see me out.

It might seem a bit morbid to think about that.  The more I think about it in my stream of consciousness blogging – Levi 501’s tell a part of my life story.  When I find something that works for me, I stick with it.  It makes decision making easier.  My youngest daughter when in elementary school put together a book entitled: “My Dad”.  One one page was a drawing of a man in blue pants with the sentence, “my dad’s favorite pants are jeans.”

Rachel, my hair cutting professional (her business is on the “recommended” tab at this web site), said that it’s a rather amazing thing that I can still fit into jeans that I have had for 25 years.  A few years ago I did have to go up an inch in the waist.  Growing up when there wasn’t pre-shrunk jeans, you came to know that Levi 501’s shrink 3 inches in the length and 1 inch in the waist.  So for a long time I bought 32 waist, 33 length.  So when pre-shrunk jeans came out, I knew I needed 31 waist, 30 length.  I just counted, I have 10 pair of jeans, three of them are probably 25-30 years old, two of them have ripped at the knee due to natural causes, not artificially done  to be stylistic.  I had to go up to 33 waist and then 34 waist, 33 length and have 3 pair at that size.  The last pair I bought were back down to 33 waist, 32 length (aging bones are reducing my height).  So as I type this, a few pair are bound to become unwearable and will be taken out of circulation (yes, I rotate my jeans, so they each get their turn) and discarded.  I don’t know if a pair can make it 40 years.  So I bet I will need to buy one more pair in 2020 and that pair will be the ones to see me out.

New 501s & 30 year old pair

A Look Back at Politics 1948

After my Mom’s passing in October 2017, we found letters she had written to her parents while she was away at college.  She spent one year attending Arizona State College at Tempe (now Arizona State University).  She was there in 1948, during the Presidential election between Thomas Dewey and Harry Truman.  It was interesting to read her comments and to find they don’t sound much different than today.

In late September of that year, she and her Aunt “went into Phoenix to hear Dewey”.  She wrote this: “Daddy, I’m sure you would have liked the part about free enterprise and little government regulation of business.”  (My grandfather worked automobile parts industry.)  Dewey was the Republican candidate.  To this day, Republican candidates still run on easing government regulation of business and letting free enterprise reward companies that make and deliver what people want while making a profit and weeding out those that don’t.

She also wrote, “He sounds as tho he’ll clean up Washington & make things efficient.”  We certainly hear this comment from Presidential candidates every four years.

Not much has changed.

The 5 Second Rule

Just watched a very good Ted talk by Mel Robbins and am sharing it with you at the link below.  Some practical things to do to make your life better and more fulfilling.  Some things to do are simple:

  • when your alarm goes off, GET UP!
  • if you have an urge to dance, DANCE!
  • if you have an urge to say something, SAY IT!

How to stop screwing yourself over

Mel Robbins Website


View on recent integrated company names

It seems a fairly uniform response from my friends that the recent new company names: IQVIA (Quintiles – IMS’ new name) and Syneos (INC – Inventiv’s new name) aren’t being received well.  They come across awkwardly and while I’ve not heard the rationale for Syneos (i imagine something to do with synergy), the IQVIA rationale has been explained.  Unfortunately, while most people understand the idea, the name and whether it’s pronounced IQ-veye-uh or IQ-vee-uh it still isn’t considered compelling.  And as we all know, some marketing ad agencies got a lot of money for these names.

So the other day, my domestic partner came up with these bad company names all based on trying to say: “we deliver on promises”:

What other names can we come up with?  I bet an FOCM e-brainstorming session could have done better.

How about a company name for “we tell the truth in advance” or “vaporware is our best seller”?

ProsLyse (prospective lying)

History does teach us

At the recommendation of Jack Minster (or maybe he actually ordered it for me), I read a book called Jerusalem by Simon Sebag Montefiore.  What an amazing history that town has seen.  The book covers the history of the town from roughly 2000 BC to current day.  I highly recommend it for any person who likes World history.

One thing stood out to me, in line with the subject of this blog – happened in 1855-1860.  An Italian man named Moses Montefiore, later knighted by Queen Victoria for his service as Sheriff of London and in recognition of his services to humanitarian causes on behalf of the Jewish people.  He followed the Jewish religion and after visiting Jersualem in 1827 he became a more devoted observer of his religion.

In 1854 his friend Judah Touro, a wealthy American Jew, died having bequeathed money to fund a Jewish residential settlement in Palestine. Montefiore was appointed executor of his will, and used the funds for a variety of projects aimed at encouraging the Jews to engage in productive labor. In 1855, he purchased an orchard on the outskirts of Jaffa that offered agricultural training people.

In 1860, he built the first Jewish residential settlement outside the walls of Jerusalem.  Living outside the city walls was dangerous at the time, due to lawlessness and bandits.  Montefiore offered financial inducement to encourage poor families to move there. Montefiore donated large sums of money to promote industry, education and health amongst the Jewish community in Palestine.  

His life’s mission of helping Jersualem’s Jewish people caused him to give so much money that many people became dependent on his charity and that was their sole means of support.  When he tried to wean them off of his handouts, they rioted in his camp.

This is certainly been repeated in countries around the world.  When people get used to receiving support with little or no contribution put forth to earn it, upon the support being reduced, the response too often is to scream and shout and demand it not stop.  This is becoming a problem in Saudi Arabia as unemployment is so high, it costs the government a lot to keep the people complacent by giving out so much money.

I think history shows that the best solution is democracy and capitalism where hard work and effort are rewarded.

Political Correctness Madness

it hit me today while talking to members of my family – just how crazily hypersensitive the world, or at least America is becoming over potential slights masquerading as extreme assaults.

While reviewing some to-do lists with my family, I said, “well thank goodness I’m here serving as task master – OOPS!! – I don’t think the word ‘master’ can be used any more because it conjures up the past when there were slaveholders, known as masters, and slaves.”

So I then said, “maybe I should be called the task manager”, OOPS!! i can’t say manager as that could be considered sexist, so perhaps we need a new word ‘personager’ to replace manager.  I guess i’m the taskminder, that seems to be a safe word and shouldn’t upset anyone, right? I sure hope that’s okay, but please tell me if that upsets someone.