Archive for August, 2007

aristocracy, abercrombie, and aryans

martha’s vineyard. the name of this island conjures up images of secret service agents, helicopters, and important world-changing decisions. i dont know what an image of such a decision would look like, but nonetheless, it makes perfect sense in my head.

on this island, you drive up to your summer home in your cleanly washed range rover or mercedez. out of the driveway, into the kitchen with sleek zinc fixtures, where you get a perrier out of your refrigerator and carelessly sip away.

on this island, you will get shunned and maybe lynched by your neighbors if the front of your home isn’t adorned with a american flag at least as big as jupiter. they will call you a communist and add a “-ovich” to your last name for good measure. you must own a medium sized dog that will fetch balls for you and you must name it “lucky.”

the only asians on the island are females that are romantically involved to tall guys who wear khakis, polo shirts, and have sweaters tied around their necks. the only blacks on the island stand behind counters, serving the white guys and their asian girlfriends at restaurants, shops, and hotels. there are no indians on the island because indians are smart and cant be bothered to go places where they know they wont fit in.

what a confusing weekend it was. i was simultaneously repulsed and attracted by the lifestyle i observed. the whole island is a shrine to aristocracy, abercrombie, and aryans. i hate how the elite in our society get tables quickly at restaurants while everybody else is left to queue up at the door. pretty white girls get bigger scoops of ice cream than short asian girls, to the dismay of my sister.

there is a burning curiosity in me when i see this happen. how did they get to be rich and important? do they have some u.s. president as their great great grandfather? were they born into money somehow? did they go to yale, get a degree, and work hard so they could buy their summer cottage? undoubtedly, families like these pick and choose their childrens’ marriages very carefully; my son will only marry a wife who will breed genetically superior children that can play rugby, polo, and fly fighter jets.

a small but potent part of me wishes that i could be part of all this heritage, money, and importance. i like fancy kitchens, dogs, asian girls, and ice cream. i dislike queues, losing in football, and near sightedness.

ive been taught to look towards the eternal, to lasting joy, and stuff that sounds metaphysical like that. but it is seriously difficult to do that at a place such as marthas vineyard. so from now on, i will only go on holiday to places where children eat old shovels for supper and the general populus is preoccupied with avoiding torture from their governments to talk about repainting their white picket fences.

malnourishment will be quite the handicap when they play me in football.

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August 26, 2007 at 9:08 pm Leave a comment

Metaphor

I recently talked to a good friend about what it means to reconcile a relationship. This question struck me as odd because I couldn’t quite put it into words. Anyway, I came up with the following.

Relational reconciliation is a balancing of two sides. When a relationship is reconciled, you and the other person have set a distance that will separate you from them, and reason why the distance was established as such is known to both people.

When you and your best mate have an argument over which is a better car, the Ferrari F430 or the Porsche 911 Turbo, reconciliation is pretty straight forward and easy: the Ferrari is better if you’re a drug dealer or a footballer, the 911 is better if you need a place to have a mid-life crisis. Both parties realize that the argument is a rather small gap to bridge and the distance between you and him remains small and doesn’t change much.

When you and your girl friend of a few years break up, a huge rift opens up. It is so large that you cannot see the other side and if you were to try to cross the chasm without some sort of bridge, you would impale yourself on the jagged rocks below. So reconciliation is deciding what sort of bridge will be built, how far it will span, and whether the chasm can be shortened.Just like building a bridge, this requires hard work, sweat, blood, and engineers. Because people are lazy and engineers in general have poor people skills and make poor company (just kidding guys, haha), reconciliation of this sort of more uncommon.

My metaphor only goes this far.

August 23, 2007 at 2:16 am Leave a comment

259.

And the streets of Philadelphia continue to run red with blood. Homicides 257, 258, and 259 were tacked onto this grisly year’s infamous statistic.

Last night, nearly a dozen people were shot and three were killed to death. Two women were killed in their homes and a teen was shot dead in a recreation center. In addition to these shooting, there were probably a few rapes, burglaries, and muggings.

Good news though! In a bid to increase school funding (and possibly keep our city’s murderers and rapists in classrooms instead of on the streets), parking rates are going up. So the city of Philadelphia is going to be saved from this endless violence by meter maids and parking tickets.

But wait, there’s more! If the School Reform Commission has its way, the Philadelphia School District will only have a deficit of $55.9 million.

Sorry, I’m at a lost for words…I seem to be choking on my government cheese.

August 16, 2007 at 4:16 pm 1 comment

david and goliath?

Pfizer is the world’s largest pharmaceutical company with a market cap of a bit over $166 billion. They have 11 drugs in Phase 3 trials, with that number estimated to triple by 2009, and 47 drugs in Phase 2 trials. Any one of these drugs, if accepted, will easily be a $1 billion per year drug.

Valderm is one of the smallest pharmaceutical companies in the world, with only 4 full time employees. They are located in Denmark, which has a GDP of $201 billion, which is only a bit over Pfizer’s market cap. Valderm has roughly one drug they are working on, a cream for psoriasis, and the entire market for psoriasis worldwide is about $0.5 billion.

It was interesting having both companies visit us this past week.

So after Pfizer showed us a fancy slide show with neat graphs and tables chock full of data about the products they wanted us to manufacture (I work at a contract pharmaceutical manufacturer), they spent an hour talking about pricing. Granted, we were talking to a bunch of whipper snapper consultants (wait, I think I am a whipper snapper also) that cared only about the bottom line but it was a little disheartening to see the world’s largest pharmaceutical company, with tons of resources that can change the quality of life for tons of people, talk about a few thousand dollars on some quote that was hastily drafted. Honestly, who really cares about nickel and dime stuff when you are developing cutting edge drugs with the potential to change peoples’ lives? I wanted to yell at Pfizer “Shame on you; your only concern should be getting these drugs to market as soon as possible.”

The Valderm visit was totally different. Ms. Arne Petersen found us just last Friday (probably on the interweb somewhere) and was able to fly out from Denmark into Pennsylvania on Tuesday. Talk about the cost of manufacturing her complex cream was barely mentioned, with most of the time devoted to talk about psoriasis patients and how she developed her cream.

Our world needs more Valderms and less Pfizers. Decisions at Pfizer are made by suits in the corporate office on Park Ave, NYC who never set food inside a manufacturing plant. Pfizer is a huge battleship, able to alter their course 1 degree every 50 nautical miles. Meanwhile, Valderm is a tiny boat, with a 10 horsepower outboard motor and crazed sailor with an Uzi at the helm, doing circles around everyone and kicking butt.

Valderm, I salute you!

August 10, 2007 at 9:08 pm Leave a comment

bread and fellowship

bread and fellowship are quite similar.

you can mix the flour, sugar, milk, butter, salt, and water together and knead it until your fingers fall off. you can even glaze the dough and bake it in the oven. but unless you have added yeast and let the bread rise once or twice, you will not end up with bread.

in the same way, you can take christians, organize them in some sort of way. maybe they have talents that are useful for building each other up and teaching each other. they might even get put through hardship and trials together.

but unless God is with them, being the catalyst for their actions, leading them in the same direction with His goal in mind, it will not be a fellowship.

so let us remember the yeast when we meet, constantly looking for signs of its presence, letting God change us and transform us into something we couldn’t be by ourselves.

Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. 16 How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?

exodus 33: 15-16

August 7, 2007 at 1:41 pm Leave a comment


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