ST. PATRICK’S DAY EDITION
Welcome to the Monks Brunch on this St. Patrick’s Day, 2018. Here are a few Irish blessings to share with each other as you lift your glasses this day:
- Bless your little Irish heart and every other Irish part.
- May the Lord keep you in His hand and never close His fist too tight.
- May the Good Lord take a liking to you — but, not too soon.
- May your troubles be as few and as far apart as my dear Grandmother’s teeth.
- May you die in bed at ninety-five years, shot by a jealous husband.
- Here’s to your coffin!
– May your coffin have six handles of finest silver!
– May your coffin be carried by six fair young maids!
– And may your coffin be made of finest wood from a 100-year-old tree, that I’ll go plant tomorrow!
- As you slide down the banisters of life may the splinters never point the wrong way.
- May you live to be a hundred years, with one extra year to repent.
The blind have descended in droves on the Bisidimo Hospital in Eastern Ethiopia.
The Himalayan Cataract Project is hosting a mass cataract surgery campaign at the medical compound that used to be a leper colony. For one week a team from the nonprofit has set up seven operating tables in four operating rooms and they’re offering free cataract surgery to anyone who needs it.
On the first day of the campaign it’s clear that the need is great.
“We have like 700 or 800 patients already in the compound and many more appointed for tomorrow and the day after and the day after that,” says Teketel Mathiwos, the Ethiopian program coordinator for the Himalayan Cataract Project.
…The entire operation takes four minutes. Some more complicated cases take longer. It can be harder to work on a person with an extremely deep eye socket. Also if the patient has suffered from trachoma or some other eye disease in the past, the cataract surgery might take up to 20 minutes. But even then this is a relatively quick procedure.
“It doesn’t really cost very much money,” Oliva says, “and it’s insane that there’s so many people waiting around for cataract surgery, people that could have their sight restored by a simple and inexpensive operation.”
…As more and more bandages are peeled off, family members of the patients start singing and dancing in the courtyard. Several patients experiment with putting a hand over one eye, then the other, checking out their restored sight.
Oliva says the entire cost for this event — including paying staff, renting equipment, transporting patients back and forth to their villages — breaks down to just $75 per patient.
He calls cataract surgery the low-hanging fruit of international health. The Himalayan Cataract Project started working in Nepal in the 1990s and now hopes to tackle the leading cause of blindness in sub-Saharan Africa.
The HCP was a semi-finalist last year for the MacArthur Foundation’s 100&Change competition, a search to find a group delivering bold solutions to one of the world’d most critical problems. (The $100 million prize went to Sesame Workshop and the International Rescue Committee to educate displaced kids in the Middle East.)
The World Health Organization estimates that more than 2 million people in Africa have lost their sight due to cataracts.
Now, for your viewing pleasure, here are some of the notable entries in the 2018 Sony World Photography Awards. This year, the contest drew nearly 320,000 entries from more than 200 countries. Winners will be announced on April 19. Here are a few of them. Go to the site to see more.
Click on each picture to see a larger image.
Stephen W. Hawking, the Cambridge University physicist and best-selling author who roamed the cosmos from a wheelchair, pondering the nature of gravity and the origin of the universe and becoming an emblem of human determination and curiosity, died early Wednesday at his home in Cambridge, England. He was 76.
A university spokesman confirmed the death.
“Not since Albert Einstein has a scientist so captured the public imagination and endeared himself to tens of millions of people around the world,” Michio Kaku, a professor of theoretical physics at the City University of New York, said in an interview.
Dr. Hawking did that largely through his book “A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes,” published in 1988. It has sold more than 10 million copies….
On Scientific Discovery: “I wouldn’t compare it to sex, but it lasts longer.”
On His Life’s Work: “My goal is simple. It is a complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all.”
On Black Holes: “They’re named black holes because they are related to human fears of being destroyed or gobbled up. I don’t have fears of being thrown into them. I understand them. I feel in a sense that I am their master.”
On Depression: “Black holes ain’t as black as they are painted. They are not the eternal prisons they were once thought. Things can get out of a black hole both on the outside and possibly to another universe. So if you feel you are in a black hole, don’t give up — there’s a way out.”
On His Physical Limitations: “I want to show that people need not be limited by physical handicaps as long as they are not disabled in spirit.”
On God: “There is no god. I am an atheist.”
On Climate Change: “Climate change is one of the great dangers we face and it’s one we can prevent.”
On Knowledge: The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.”
One of Hawking’s long time collaborators paid tribute to him in these words:
What distinguished Stephen from the rest of our pack when I first met him, and ever since, was not his insane brilliance or his consummate knowledge of every last detail of Einstein’s theory of general relativity. It was his passion in the search for the truth. This helped keep him alive and in good spirits through unimaginable and unrelenting physical challenges. Einstein once said “Of all the communities available to us, there is not one I would want to devote myself to except for the society of the true seekers, which has very few living members at any one time.” Einstein would have counted Stephen as a member.
Speaking of scientific mysteries and discovery…
Astronaut Scott Kelly set a record for the longest single spaceflight in history and now NASA is saying the trip made him a “new man” as well. A study of Kelly and his identical twin brother found that spending nearly a year in space significantly changed the astronaut’s DNA.
Kelly spent 340 straight days aboard the International Space Station from 2015 to 2016. When the NASA veteran returned to Earth, researchers immediately noted that he had grown two inches in height. A new study comparing Scott to his identical twin, Mark — who is also a NASA astronaut and stayed on Earth during the 340-day trip — has revealed that long-term space travel alters more than just your height.
“Scott’s telomeres (endcaps of chromosomes that shorten as one ages) actually became significantly longer in space,” NASA researchers wrote in a statement. The space agency added that Kelly had hundreds of “space genes” activated by the year-long flight which reportedly altered the astronaut’s “immune system, DNA repair, bone formation networks, hypoxia, and hypercapnia.”
While Scott Kelly’s height and 93 percent of his DNA returned to normal after returning to Earth, NASA confirmed that seven percent of his genes have remained changed and may stay that way. “This is thought to be from the stresses of space travel, which can cause changes in a cell’s biological pathways and ejection of DNA and RNA,” researchers added.
But then, there is this clarification.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day, and be careful if you’re planning a wild night.