Avoid squirrels

Watchu talking about, Willis?

Watchu talking about, Willis?

I have been curating news for an app/website — www.inside.com/science.  You can find the app on iTunes (please do, and recommend it, it’s great for news junkies).

Basically, I read articles and listen to podcasts about science and write about the pieces.  I end up reading a lot about, well, science stuff and learn something every time.  This is what I learned today…

Avoid squirrels.  They get a certain kind of boravirus that attacks the brain and causes it to swell.  They can now pass it to people.  Three died last week in Germany.  They’re cute but will kill you.

Avoid the University of Colorado at Boulder.  Apparently tranquilized bears are just falling out of the trees there.

Want to go to Mexico, Chile or Indonesia?  Don’t.  Massive volcanoes are erupting there.

Thinking about visiting Long Island?  You probably should avoid that place, too.  Not only are the beaches teeming with Portuguese Man-O’-Wars but dead whales keep washing ashore.

And if you think you can remember a hundred things at a time, you’re wrong.  You can blame your parents for your anxiety, it’s inherited.

If you think something is wrong with you because you can’t feel as much empathy as you’d like when you read about thousands of people dying, don’t be so hard on yourself.  It’s your biology. But if you are mean, be careful, you might be evil.

On the bright side, if you want to drop acid, a study in the medical journal, the Lancet, says that’s pretty safe so have at it.

And that’s some of what I learned today.

The art of the possible

Another broken record appeal

I complain about Washington, DC. The DC Metro sucks. The infrastructure is falling to pieces. The state of what we call political discourse makes me want to poke my own eyes out. Oh, and had to go to the CVS and some creepy, smelly guy stood way too close to me and was growling. Dude, can’t a girl get some space? Last point, we had a scary earthquake and now a crazy hurricane is coming our way. What next? Frogs? Locusts? Glenn Beck will hold another crazy fest on the mall and his minions will take over my favorite coffee place and I’ll have to get my caffeine at the totally ghetto Starbucks that frequently runs out of coffee?

Rant mode over.

And then, just when I think the best plan is to move to a farm in Wyoming, something spectacular happens; I look at the Capitol Building and all that negativity just vanishes. I remain in awe of the amazing thing we have created here. When we tear each other down by attacking each other’s patriotism or motives, we don’t just hurt our political opponents but we diminish our creation and ourselves.
My entree into this glorious world of campaigns and politics happened when I was eight. Funny story: I was at the Hawk n’ Dove waiting for a friend and the manager, Paul, asked me about this. I replied that I had started by volunteering to unseat the evil Conservative Party (not GOP, mind you, but Conservative) from the first district of New York — Bill Carney. The man next to me said, “That’s me.” — He proved it by showing me his Congressional ID. Open mouth, insert foot. We are now friends.

When I was eight, I canvassed, I handed out flyers, I stuffed envelopes. On election night as we watched the returns, the areas I canvassed had a higher turnout for our candidate, George Hochbrukner (a hard name to spell but a great one to remember!) than other areas and I was sure that was because of my hard work. He lost. He lost the next election and was elected to Congress only when Bill retired. He quit when he could no longer go for a beer and have a conversation with his opponent. It wasn’t fun anymore. He thinks civility in this business is a pipe dream.

I don’t believe that. When I worked in the Senate, I felt a bond with all over staffers. We all were there, working crazy hours for next to no pay because we believed we could make a difference. The real difference between the two parties is not that one is more patriotic than they other or believes more in God. We all want to get to the same place, we just have different paths to get there.

I read on Conservapedia that Jefferson Smith from “Mr. Smith goes to Washington” was a Democrat. They also see it as demonizing Republicans. I don’t believe that. I refuse to believe that this movie was a partisan statement. It was a call to remember that politics really is the art of the possible.