1918: History, Medicine and Art

Below is an interesting film on the infamous 1918 flu pandemic.  Mrs. Gomez (Mama), of the first interview, is the matriarch of a clan with which the Cowboy has had a lifelong family friendship.  The Cowboy had the good fortune to be able to say hello to la Señora, as he always addresses her,  just before Christmas.  She is 100.  Like her daughters and grand-daughters, she is a strong, dynamic woman filled with energy and charm.

Her son-in-law, an opthalmic surgeon, was a huge positive influence on a young Cowboy, who spent many hours with him in operating rooms, both as a patient with a complex trauma-induced condition, and as a student standing beside him.  The Cowboy regularly followed him on Saturday mornings, beginning at 7 am, donning scrubs, and observing microsurgery performed by this artist of the medical arts – a good man, a dedicated teacher, and a strong father figure to his kids as well as the Cowboy.


Published in: on February 1, 2010 at 21:25  Leave a Comment  
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Legos And Logos*


Published in: on November 19, 2009 at 12:58  Leave a Comment  
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Batman, Higgs and Nuclear Terror: Dinner With Jim

The End of Dinner

Jules Alexandre Grün (1868-1938*), Fin de Souper, 1913.
Oil on Canvas, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Tourcoing, France

At a recent dinner discussing the prospect of nuclear terrorism, the Cowboy found himself contemplating that Batman of particle physics: the Higgs boson.  Why Batman?  Well, the Higgs boson is dark and elusive, and kind of like a cosmological super-hero.

First though, you are probably wondering whether the frighteningly-high probability of a horrific terrorist act decimating an otherwise lovely city makes for appropriate dinner conversation among polite company.  Hmmm…  Good question.  The topic sort of encompasses religion (nihilism, the afterlife, eschatology) and politics (mutually assured destruction, containment, non-proliferation), so ostensibly the answer would be “no”.  Well, it was stimulating and oddly entertaining nonetheless.



Happiness and success are intertwined, at least if you define success for yourself.  It is difficult to be happy without viewing yourself as successful.  As the Grant Study I mentioned yesterday demonstrates, happiness is just as difficult to predict as success.  Here’s a soundtrack for today’s post.  Click play and read on.


Published in: on May 13, 2009 at 20:08  Comments Off on Happiness  
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Joshua Wolf Shenk has an article in the June issue of The Atlantic (available online now) that provides an overview of the Grant Study, a project to determine success factors by following a group of the most promising young men researchers could find as they made their way through life.  The young men in question were Harvard students whom researchers identified as being the most likely to succeed in life based on conventional standards at the time.  The study has been proceeding for over 70 years.


Published in: on May 12, 2009 at 22:37  Comments Off on Success  
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A Jaunty Jackelope On The Trail

The Cowboy is a fan of Linux, and Ubuntu in particular.  It’s a great time to give it a try.


Published in: on April 23, 2009 at 12:41  Comments Off on A Jaunty Jackelope On The Trail  
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Ideas of Beauty

Today’s Nobel laureate is brought to you by the letters G and M, as in Murray Gell-Mann, last seen in this post.  Here is a terrific lecture he gave as part of the TED conference a couple of years ago.

If you are not familiar with the TED Talks, you should be.  The TED Conference, which stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design, is an annual conference of thinkers and leaders across a range of disciplines.  Attendees give short talks to the group, some of which are accessible to regular cowpokes on the net as TED Talks.  They are a fascinating series of lectures that can provide hours of entertainment and inspiration.  Since each one is only about 20 minutes, though, you can easily watch one while your horse is getting a drink from a stream.

In this lecture, Gell-Mann discusses the fact that in physics, there is an inherent beauty to the best of ideas.  As one who is astounded daily by the beauty of the universe around us, this not only makes sense to the Cowboy, it also adds to his sense of wonder.  Perhaps it will for you too.

Published in: on March 24, 2009 at 17:06  Comments Off on Ideas of Beauty  

Ceci N’est Pas Une Quark

The Cowboy is fascinated by the cross-disciplinary collaborations that have dotted history – those all-too-short periods of time when talented men and women have inspired and been inspired by each other, generating bursts of creative output.

As a sort of follow-up on a couple of recent posts, I would like to point out one of these cross-disciplinary collaborations of which you may not be aware.


Published in: on March 22, 2009 at 09:51  Comments Off on Ceci N’est Pas Une Quark  

Intuitive Plausibility

Numbers are dangerous.

Numbers are our friends.



Published in: on March 21, 2009 at 14:27  Comments Off on Intuitive Plausibility  

Wanted: Cats. Dead, Alive or Both.

The Cowboy loves quantum physics.  As a fan of perspective and changes thereof, it is hard to not be enraptured by a field of study of the natural world that takes one so completely down the proverbial rabbit hole, where nothing is as it should be.


Published in: on March 16, 2009 at 22:41  Comments Off on Wanted: Cats. Dead, Alive or Both.