Friday, July 11, 2014

LeBron is gone, but it's OK Miami, I'm still here


 
Earlier in the week rumors spread about Beckham leaving Miami and going to Broward County to find a location for his soccer stadium. Today, LeBron James announced that he is going back to the Cleveland Cavaliers. I know you are all thinking that I’m next, that Miami does not measure up to the likes of Beckham, James, and Prilleltensky, the great three; but I want to reassure you that I have rejected offers to return to Argentina to head a paramilitary group to hunt down international creditors.

This is an opportunity for Miami to turn inwards, to resist the limelight, to become a more down to earth place; a place of contemplation and introspection. It’s time to look at our inner beauty. I know that deep down, below several inches of silicon, augmented breasts, and Brazilian butt lifts, we all want to lead a simple life, devoid of capricious celebrities without loyalty.

But it’s no time to be judgmental Miami. It’s time to be compassionate. After all, most of us came here from somewhere else. Many of us have experienced separations before, from a nasty divorce, bankruptcy, communism, death squads, or tax collectors up north. Of all people, Miamians should understand LeBron wanting to go home.  After all, we have here hundreds of thousands of people who want to return to their home.  

It’s no time to be angry Miami; it’s time to celebrate what we do have:

1.      We still have the most drivers with a disability tag who get out of their cars miraculously cured, with no apparent sign of physical handicaps. All you have to do in Miami to overcome a physical handicap is get one of those handicap tags from your uncle’s deceased neighbor in Little Havana. As soon as you put it into your car, you are cured. Try it. I have seen thousands of people in Miami park their cars in a handicapped spot and get out of the car walking like they’ve never had a disability in their lives.  

2.      We are still the most bureaucracy-free health care delivery system in the nation, otherwise known as America’s Medicare fraud capital.

3.      We are still the only major city in America without a prefrontal cortex. People here are devoid of inhibitions and accompanying neuroses. We are the least repressed city in the world, saving us millions of dollars in costly psychiatric and psychological treatments. Only here people continue to build near the shoreline as if climate change happens just in English-speaking parts of the country. Only a cortex free city does that.

4.      We still have the most creative drivers in America who stop their cars in the middle of the road for no apparent reason other than contemplate the beautiful surroundings or text their abuelita. To optimize brain flexibility, drivers here never signal, keeping you guessing and forcing you to perform maneuvers you only see in commercials displaying the disclaimer “professional driver featured.”

5.      We still have the most inflated real estate market in the universe, where the only people able to afford a condo live 7,500 miles away and pay with cash obtained under dubious circumstances.

6.      We still offer commuters an opportunity to get to know each other, otherwise known as the most inefficient public transportation system in the world.

7.      We are still the only major city where people are allowed to text and drive. Here you don’t have to pay attention to traffic rules. Here you are free of government intervention into your personal affairs. Only here you can decide when you want to seal a deal via text. Try texting and driving in other major cities in America and the police will get between you and your hard fought liberties.

8.      We are still the only city where taxpayers subsidy millionaire sport club owners. Beckham will still come back once the mayor and city commissioners return to their senses.

9.      We are still the only city in the world where 93% of the population says “pero” instead of “but”, enriching the cultural experience of visitors and residents alike.

10.   We are still the city with the most implanted silicon per anatomical square inch in the world. Try that Cleveland!

Keep your head up Miami. We have nothing to fear. I’m still here.

Travel Optimization


I recently flew from Manchester, England, to Philadelphia. As it was the port of entry into the US, all passengers had to go through customs. There were two lines, one for visitors and another one for US citizens and green card holders. The lines went from Philadelphia to Kansas City and back. It took me 78 minutes to get to the customs officer. There were 60 border patrol booths, 56 of which were totally empty, leaving just 4 officers to contend with tons of smelly, cranky, unkempt, constipated passengers. Thousands of people had to wait for over an hour while the entire process could have been done, seamlessly, ON THE PLANE, while passengers usually waste time, snore, fart, and make a total mess of the aircraft.

The flight from Manchester took approximately 7 hours. If we would have had 2 customs officers checking passports of 200 passengers at a rate of 2 minutes per passenger, in little over 3 hours we would have been done, giving customs officials enough time to enjoy re-runs of Parks and Recreation, not to mention the free pretzels and the opportunity to know some of the countries from which they incarcerate illegal aliens.  

If you assign a monetary value to the time wasted by thousands of people in the Philadelphia airport -- who could have been stimulating the economy by gorging on big Macs and buying laxatives -- plus the cost of Febreze to eliminate unwanted passenger odors, sending two officers on every plane coming from overseas more than pays for itself. I got the inspiration for this brilliant idea from none other than American Airlines, which is trying to be a model of efficiency and recycling.

Flying to New York with my wife to visit our son, I discovered, and this is true, that the airline uses coffee bags as air fresheners in toilets. At first I thought I was mistaken, so I went to a second toilet, and sure enough, there it was, sitting on the counter, next to the tiny lavatory, another coffee bag, the kind you put in airplane percolators. If you don’t believe me, have a look below at the picture I took. That was American Airlines.

I flew back from England with US Airways, now part of the “new American Airlines,” and what do you know, there it was, the coffee bag in the toilet. Thank God I don’t drink coffee, but I could not help thinking who was going to drink the half urinated coffee after the flight attendant recycled the coffee bag from the toilet. I’m sure flight attendants keep a list of difficult passengers. We need more companies like American Airlines that know how to recycle, how to be efficient, and how to punish difficult clients.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Unsubscribe


Big, it must be big, very big, and red, and round, like the “easy” button from Staples, and I want it on my desktop, flashing, with a big inscription, in neon letters: UNSUBSCRIBE. With all the latest technology and what not, I’m surprised that nobody has invented yet the UNSUBSCRIBE app. I want to be able to click on that icon and unsubscribe in one fell swoop from all the intrusive and irritating email lists that are making my life miserable. Until such invention comes along -- and I do want a commission for giving you all hackers the idea – I must go over thousands of emails manually to find the annoyingly small print where it says “unsubscribe,” which is usually buried deep in the body of the email, among a pile of legal junk.  

Not only is it difficult to find the stupid link, but once you click on it, you land on a page asking you three times to reconsider. This is especially true of political causes, where the politician in question, all the way from the President to the obscurest democratic candidate for school board in North Dakota, begs you to stay. For some reason, I never get emails from the Republican Party asking me for money, or from the National Rifle Association. They respect my privacy. I value that. The Democratic Party, in contrast, is way too promiscuous with emails. That’s it. I’m switching parties.   

I fantasize about having this big red icon on my desktop and being able to press it and all of sudden reduce the number of daily emails from unwanted sources from about 16,000 to 2. In fact, I will pay a handsome reward for the computer programmer able to devise the object of my fantasy. It must be big, and red, and require just one click. No questions asked, no options to reconsider, no text boxes explaining why you are leaving. Zero, zilch, good bye. That will constitute my liberation.

Until such time, I have to contend with emails from the likes of Cyagen Biosciences, which can’t distinguish between a Doctor in Psychology and one in Ratology. Word for word, here’s their latest email dated July 2nd, 2014, 10:49am:

Dear researcher,

Outsource your transgenic or knockout mouse projects to Cyagen this summer and pile on the savings! Invite your friends or colleagues to take advantage of our group buy on transgenic, knockout & knockin mice - get up to 20% off of multiple mouse lines when you or anyone in your group places an order:

                      10% off 1 mouse line

                      15% off 2 mouse lines

                      20% off 3 or more mouse lines

Cyagen’s animal model generation service gets you the knockout, knockin, or transgenic mice you need guaranteed, at the industry’s lowest price.

Hyperlink: >>>Learn about our animal model expertise

Hyperlink: >>>View our transgenics & gene targeting mouse offerings

Were you referred by one of our existing customers? Let us know through our Mouse Service Referral Program and enjoy an additional $500 discount or 5% off (whichever is greater)!

Cyagen’s mouse service team provides technical support throughout your project and was rated “very technically capable” by 9 out of 10 recent clients. Use our service to boost the impact of your basic research: Cyagen animal models have been published in top journals such as Nature and Cell. It’s easy to get started: just reply to this email or tell us about your research goals in the comments field of the groupbuy webform. You may also call us at 800-921-8930. Our mouse experts will be happy to discuss your research goals.

*All customer inquiries are strictly confidential.

Best regards,

Cyagen Client Relations Team

2255 Martin Avenue, Suite E

Santa Clara, CA 95050

Tel.: 800-921-8930

Transgenic? Knockin? Knockout? That sounds like a boxing match between sexually diverse genes.

I do have a PhD, and some psychologists do experiment with mice, but the only time I see rats is in nightmares, which have only increased since the Cyagen offers.  

Apparently somebody really wants me to switch careers. The following email, received from Dr. Sam Wang, on the same day, reads as follows:

Dear Dr. Isaac Prilleltensky,
Have you ever spent much time and energy to generate an antibody, which unfortunately fails to perform in your experiments? We understand your struggles very well, and would like to offer you a working alternative.
We believe for most proteins, there are a certain number of regions could be used as promising antigens to produce high-quality antibodies. To maximize the chance of success, we usually apply a number of antigens (up to 20 protein fragments and/or peptides) instead of just one or two; the diverse antigens could map all the best possible regions of the target protein.
Ordering is simple, just email me the target protein (accession number or sequence).We will provide a detailed evaluation and quote in two business days. If you have any question, please feel free to contact me.
Hundreds of scientists have published papers which cite the use of our custom monoclonal antibodies. Below are a few

Journal
Antigen
Description of the antigen
Application
SEAL service package
PLOS genetics
6,11
TnI
troponin I
IF
4 epitopes+1 protein
15 antibodies
Blood
117,7014-20
C/ebp Alpha
CCAAT/Enhancer Binding Protein Alpha
WB; IP
6 epitopes
15 antibodies
Nature
464,601-5
zf Raldh2
zebrafish Retinaldehyde dehydrogenase 2
IF
3 epitopes+ 1 protein
11 antibodies
Nature Genetics
41,228-33
U2HR
an inhibitory upstream open reading frame (ORF) in the human hairless gene (HR)
WB
8 epitopes
22 antibodies
PNAS
105,19211-6
Barkor;
Beclin 1
Barkor:Beclin 1-associated autophagy-related key regulator;
Beclin 1:Coiled-coil myosin-like BCL2-interacting protein
WB
5 epitopes
13 antibodies

You know what you can do with your monoclonal antibodies Dr. Wang? You can shove them up your epitopes, past your coiled-coil myosin, all the way to your autophagy. And if that doesn’t work, use the Enhancer Binding Protein Alpha and the related key regulator to push it upstream to the open reading frame. I can only hope that the Retinaldehyde of your eyes will look like zebrafish. If you get dehydrogenase in the process, make sure the human hairless gene does not fall off your head. For further instructions refer to table above, which you sent me.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Gossip - Miami Style


Working at a university, I have great access to unique resources. Using the latest software from our Center for Computational Time Wasting, I came to the conclusion that the average human being spends on average 7 million hours gossiping. This amounts to 8 hours a day. The average goes up considerably when the Miami Herald publishes speculations about Castro’s death, but using a smoothing function that controls for rumors about the premature death of Latin American dictators, we are pretty sure that 8 hours per day is about right.

Given that most people sleep for about 8 hours, watch TV for about 6 hours, and struggle with constipation in the toilet for about 2 hours, it is abundantly clear that ALL of their gossip is done at work, which explains why our economy is in such abysmal state and why GM had to recall 2.6 million cars.

Gossiping is such an epidemic that I decided to do some research on it. I, of course, never gossip, so I lacked any personal experience with the phenomenon. As a result, I had to rely on validated tools to collect data: random eavesdropping. I chose a representative sample of visitors to the broadwalk in Hollywood Beach, Florida (don’t even try to call it a boardwalk). The two and a half mile stretch by the ocean invites populations from all over the world to congregate for daily gossip conventions. I can detect what passersby are saying only in a few languages, but using the latest google glasses I surreptitiously record and translate what I do not get, which is usually in Russian and involves the words Absolut, Smirnoff, and vomit. 

The following is a list of the ten most frequent gossip statements emitted by broadwalk visitors:

1.       Pepe (not his real name, his real name is José) never pays child support

2.       Sofia’s plastic surgery came out awful (her real name, used with permission)

3.       Castro, Castro, Castro, Castro (real name, used without permission)

4.       Dovid is a putz

5.       Faigel (real name) is such an Alte Makhsheyfe (old witch, in Yiddish) (reproduced with permission from Faigel’s daughter in law)

6.       They don’t know how to make beer here (Quebecois visitor)

7.       They don’t know how to make vodka here (Russian couple)

8.       Victoria/Gabriela/Yolanda/Amanda cheats on him

9.       Dovid is going out with Victoria / Gabriela/ Yolanda / Amanda, and none of them are Jewish

10.   Faigel has no idea that Dovid (the putz), paid for Sofia’s plastic surgery, before going out with Victoria / Gabriela / Yolanda / Amanda, who now want him to pay for their plastic surgery too

Gossip serves many evolutionary functions such as self-protection. Talking garbage about someone else fills the air and prevents people from contemplating their own foibles. This is a well-known psychological defense mechanism characteristic of 3 year olds, Kim Kardashian, Silvio Berlusconi, Vladimir Putin, Dovid the putz, and mayoral candidates in Hialeah. Gossip is essential for procreation too. If people ever stopped gossiping and realized who they were procreating with, it would be the end of the human species, causing the demise of the diaper industry.

Gossip comes in several forms and levels of sophistication, from the pedestrian (Dovid is a putz) to the refined (Something has been on my mind lately. I wonder if you happen to know the whereabouts of the famous banker, Faigel’s former husband, Dovid the putz?).

My observations also revealed that Gossipers come in different personality types:

·  The diarrheic gossiper: Cannot contain herself. Gossip is a force of nature that needs to come out no matter what. Gossips without regard for personal credibility. Procreates a lot

·  The constipated gossiper: Really wants to gossip but cannot come out. Early trauma involved. Victorian upbringing. Sexually repressed. Has problems procreating

·  The closeted gossiper: “I’m going to tell you something that you cannot repeat to anybody.” Gossip usually involves self-aggrandizement and false humility

·  The obsessed gossiper: Focuses on a single subject: Kardashians (half of the US population), Obamacare (John Boehner), missing flights (CNN), catastrophes (Anderson Cooper), Castro (El Nuevo Herald)

·  The benign gossiper: Harmless. Gossips mostly about people you don’t know.

·  The toxic gossiper: You know who you are.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Prefrontal Phontex to Replace Prefrontal Cortex

A new region of the brain, called the Prefrontal Phontex, is poised to replace the Prefrontal Cortex in people who constantly use their phones to text. The startling discovery, published in the most recent issue of Unnatural History, reveals that the obsession with texting now has a physical representation.

The brain of compulsive texters now contains an android-like cellular mass, surrounded by flickering lights resembling iPhone apps. The Prefrontal Phontex sits between the Prefrontal Cortex and the skull. Researchers at the National Institute of Unnatural History found that the more you text, the larger the Phontex gets and the smaller your Cortex becomes. Scientists predict that avid users of text will lose their entire Prefrontal Cortex in six to seven years.

For those unfamiliar with the functions of the Prefrontal Cortex, it is a part of the brain involved in decision making, complex cognitive processes, planning, predicting outcomes, suppressing unacceptable behavior, and distinguishing between good and bad. While health professionals warn against the disastrous consequences of a Cortex-Free society, Dr. Tranquilo from the Miami Institute of Psychiatry thinks otherwise. He told me “that 80% of the people in the city already behave as if they had no Cortex whatsoever and we are all still here. It’s the way of the future. Miami is a harbinger for the entire country.”

The Chamber of Commerce of Miami Dade County sees this as a great opportunity to attract new businesses and research centers. “This development builds on our strengths,” said a spokesperson for the Chamber. “We have gotten so used to people without a Prefrontal Cortex that other cities can learn from us.” “Come to a World Like No Other. Visit Miami, City with no Prefrontal Cortex.”

Speaking anonymously, an executive with the telecommunication industry told the Associated Press that they are already saving money for the lawsuits. He told me that “texting will be nothing compared to selfies.” They have become so popular that selfie was named word of the year for 2013. “More and more people are selfying and driving.”

For their part, texters claim that the state is not doing enough to protect them from their devices. “They recently passed a law in Florida to prevent texting while driving that is totally unenforceable” told me a 26 year old while he was texting and driving on US 1. An investigation into the conviction rates under the new law shows that last year fewer people have gotten convicted than were able to access the Healthcare.gov website.

When I approached the Governor’s office about the dismal rate of convictions in Florida they referred me his spokeswoman.

Spokeswoman: “We have too many Medicare fraud and political corruption cases in Florida. There is only so much our jails can handle.”

Me: “Does it bother you that people are getting into accidents because they are distracted by their phones?”

Spokeswoman: “It’s a free society. We cannot interfere with their choices, but one solution that Governor Scot is exploring is to give every Floridian a Google car -- those that don’t require a driver.”

Me: “And how is he going to pay for that?”

Spokeswoman: “Google will give every Floridian a driverless car and will throw in a pair of Google glasses. In return, the Governor will give to Google all of Miami, present and future residents included, before the next gubernatorial election.” 

Lawyers show no interest in enforcing the law either, as they are now charging clients by words texted. “If our clients are in jail, they cannot text us because their phones are taken away, depriving us of a new source of revenue,” told me Mr. Suetime.  “It’s much better for us to keep our clients on the streets, where they can text and drive.” Law Schools also welcome a Cortex-Free society, especially at a time of declining enrollments.

When I interviewed several compulsive texters about their habits, they told me that they are afraid of FOMO: Fear of Missing Out. They are constantly texting and looking at their Facebook page because they want to be the first one to know that their best friend had diarrhea.
This column appeared in Miami Today, 5/21/2014

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Beckhamania

Published April 30, 2014 in Miami Today www.MiamiTodayNews.com

David Beckham wants to build a new soccer stadium near the Miami Port. I urge local politicians to seal the deal in a hurry. There are many reasons to do so:

Local economy: This is our chance to rent a piece of land that soon will be under water. Who else but a clueless foreigner would want to rent it? I say we give him huge tax breaks until the Miami Port and surrounding areas are under water, at which point the stadium becomes a water polo venue.  

Crime: This will give us an opportunity to do something that the British have known for a long time: It is easier to arrest hooligans and deport them when they are all in one place.

Community building: Next to Brazilian butt lifts and LeBron James, soccer is the only thing Miamians can agree on. If you don’t believe me, just watch the Beckhamania going on around town. Whether you come from Haiti, Argentina, Colombia, or Jamaica, we are all crazy about soccer. All of us from Latin America and the Caribbean islands love the beautiful game. If we watch American football it’s only because we are trying hard to acculturate. We want to be good sports. But truth be told, we are bored to tears with all the interruptions.

Health: Imagine, if we could all watch a game without breaks, there would be less time to go to the fridge, less drinking, and fewer cases of obesity, although getting up to go to the fridge is the most popular form of exercise in America.

Education: Beckham is the perfect role model for kids in Miami. He has a hot wife, plenty of tattoos, and his very own brand! He is also a model for his underwear line, something that many kids in Miami aspire to, after they get their Brazilian butt lift. Soccer lifted him from poverty to global fame. His dad was a plumber and his mom was a hairstylist, just like so many families in Miami. He has so much to share with our kids. He can convince them that education is a waste of time, freeing our schools from those who would rather be on the soccer field.  

Focus: I credit soccer with my own success in life. Take concentration for example. As a youngster, all I could talk about from the age of 8 to 16 was soccer. Every Sunday I would wake up early to watch little league soccer on TV, followed by a trip with my uncle Saul to the local stadium to watch our beloved Talleres de Cordoba lose. After watching back to back two live matches, I would go home to watch another 5 hours of soccer on TV. I’d take my transistor to bed to listen to the latest soccer commentary before falling asleep. I memorized the names of all players of all the teams of all major leagues around the world. This was very valuable information that resulted in my failing several courses in high school.  

Self-esteem: Playing soccer also helped my self-esteem, which academically was very low because of soccer. Above all, soccer helped me gain the respect of my son, who never cared about all my education, but was very impressed when I told him that I had a chance to play professionally when I was in university. I have to agree with my son that it was a stupid idea to go to graduate school instead. Today I could have been modeling my own line of underwear in billboards around the world.

Family relations: The opportunity for father-son bonding through soccer cannot be overstated. With nine out of ten fathers in Miami leaving their families for a younger Brazilian with you know what, we should seriously consider soccer as a family preservation strategy. A few years ago we were in Toronto for a wedding at the same time that the Argentinean Under-20 team was playing the world championship match against the Czech Republic. We managed to get a second mortgage on our house and buy some ridiculously overpriced tickets through an agency in Texas. We watched Argentina beat the Czech Republic 2-1 in a dramatic game, and for one fleeting moment, I was proud to share with my son my Argentinean roots.  

Despite all these compelling reasons, Marco Rubio, the senator from Florida, is rumored to oppose the deal on grounds that the British are having a very bad influence on America. “First we made the mistake of giving Piers Morgan a visa, and see what he is doing now. He is making the NRA look terrible. He has even written a book promoting gun control. If we allow Beckham to bring more soccer, he will soon be talking to us about the merit of socialized medicine” said Rubio. “This is a very slippery slope. We better stops the Brits right now.”

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Weight Control: Beware of Crotalaria

To lose weight you are going to have to change your behavior. I know it sucks, but I’m here to help you. Before we begin, let’s dispel a myth right now. Cold turkey strategies do not work. Let’s dispel a second myth: If you have enough willpower you can do anything. Seven millennia of evidence show that human beings do not have enough willpower to even reach for the remote and turn off the TV. The best we can do is to have a behavior change plan consisting of well-informed, achievable small goals that you can track and feel good about. The well-informed part is crucial, because so many people give up bread for salads but shower their vegetables with enough dressing to drown a prisoner in Guantanamo. Aim for slightly smaller portions. Find alternatives to lard that do not derive from animals fed toxins or exposed to environmental, bacterial, or fungal contaminants, mycotoxins, aflatoxins, ochratoxins, endophyte alkaloids (especially Neotyphodium coenophialum), phomopsin, sporidesmin, cyanogens (watch out for dhurrin and linamarin), gossypol (disclaimer: not a Gallup Poll subsidiary), and crotalaria (even animal scrotoplasty won’t help with this one).

I know this list contains many threats, but you don’t have to memorize it. You can cut and paste it into your smart phone’s notepad and every time you go shopping you can ask the guy lining up the tomatoes in the produce section to find organic foods free of environmental, bacterial, or fungal contaminants, mycotoxins, aflatoxins, ochratoxins, phomopsin, sporidesmin, and spermicides. He will be more than happy to escort you to the nearest sanatorium where you won’t have to worry about any of this.