This first half of this post is a big rant about Trump, Pence and Conway, the second part is a break from all of that. So if you’d like to skip the rant, scroll down until you see the words Jack Andraka in caps. You’re safe then.
I woke up this morning and decided that today I would not compose an angry political diatribe. But damn it, I turn on the news and there’s Kellyanne Conway gabbing away and I can’t ignore it.
Friends across the pond might not have heard of Ms Conway, she is Trump’s campaign manager and his substitute – she gives many interviews in his place because he can’t be trusted to not say something offensive/moronic etc.. To be fair, Conway is worth her weight in gold to Trump. During the campaign she steadfastly kept her cool, and answered every question about Trump with a reply that lambasted Clinton and in no way answered the actual question. Yep, Trump should be grateful for her skills and her freedom from a moral conscience, that made her feel it was okay to devote her all to getting a self-confessed sex molester and bigot elected president.
Anyhoo, today’s interview that made me break out the nicknames (yes you Kellyanne Conway, you are the maligning Amoral Mouthpiece of the malfeasant Molester McFascist) featured a question about Trump’s tweets (sounds like a piece of awful candy: ‘Try Trump’s Tweets for a taste of trash-talk and treason!’). Amoral Mouthpiece’s reply to what do you think of the tweets, did not address the content matter of his tweets. Instead she asked why does anyone care? Why can’t the president elect have a twitter account and run the country?
The reason why we should care, oh willful ignoramus, is that in his tweets Trump is criticizing his people’s right to free speech.
Demanding that the cast of Hamilton apologize for asking the VP who has been flagrantly prejudiced, to be the VP of the entire nation, is telling them that they were wrong to ask their vice president to be fair. (And if you’re thinking, “Well Mike Pence was on a pleasant evening out with his wife at the theatre, it’s really not the time or place to put him on the spot like that,” ask yourself, how can any time not be the right time to stand up for human rights that have been repeatedly threatened by the incoming government?)
When denouncing the largely peaceful, post-election protests as unfair, Trump is telling the protesters – many of whom were high school students unable to vote – that they are wrong to want to be able to voice their opinions, their fears. In his acceptance speech Trump said –going against all his campaign rhetoric – he was the president of all Americans, that he wanted to unite the country. His tweets show that this is another lie.
Really the TP team are missing a golden opportunity. Instead of lambasting people who speak of their fears, or saying “It’s not a big deal,” as Pence did, these two could be reassuring the protesters, and demonstrating that they are ready to listen to their nation. By not doing so the No-Way-but-My-Way Bros are simply confirming that we are right to be scared. Odd really , considering how at home they are with lying.
Then Conway follows Trump with a big bucket of whitewash, in the way that people follow their dogs with a plastic bag. I almost feel sorry for her… but then I remember every time she blithely ignored or even justified, Trump’s heinous words and deeds, and the pity goes away.
Actually if I feel sorry for anyone in Trump’s circle, it’s his youngest boy Barron. His mother has decided to stay in New York until next summer instead of moving into the White House so that Barron can finish his school year uninterrupted. I don’t have much bad stuff to say about Melania Trump. The plagiarism is embarrassing as hell for her, but it’s not indicative of an evil person. I couldn’t care less about photographs of her with her clothes off – we were all born naked, it shouldn’t even be news. Frankly I think this decision is the best thing she could do for her son, it’s a volatile time all around the USA, and kids his age have very strong feelings about the president elect. He needs to be in school with kids that know him for himself, not as Trump’s son. When/if he does attend school in DC, he will be surrounded by classmates whose parents voted for Clinton.
93% of the vote in DC went to Clinton, he’s not going to have the easiest time making friends.
Well, I said it wasn’t going to be all bad so now let’s talk about Jack Andraka.
I love this guy. Jack is 19 years old now, but when he was 15, his uncle died of pancreatic cancer. Jack did what some people do when they are grieving, he immersed himself in being productive. But instead of cleaning the house from top to bottom, or working overtime, or baking endless batches of brownies, or pulling up weeds from the pavement, he started researching pancreatic cancer. He looked into its causes and figured out an early stage test for it that would far exceed the reliability of the current test which has been used for sixty years.
Jack, being an optimistic and persistent teenager, managed to find a university lab that would permit a 15 year old to use their facilities to work on a new test for cancer and has now created a simple paper strip test that can be used to detect pancreatic cancer, and can also be adapted to test for a range of diseases beyond cancer.
It makes me so happy when I hear about people without a college education, without a designated field, who make such a huge impact on the world. We get told so much that we cannot succeed without an education that it actually limits what we attempt to do. There is a boldness in children that allows them to do things like set up their own business, invent never seen before machines, or – if they are Alexander, the son of Ancient King Phillip of Macedonia – take over a third of the world. The pressure to enroll in higher education and forge a career means that we narrow our interests, and also that we tell ourselves there are certain steps we have to follow before we can try to do something no one else has attempted before us. We must get our bachelors before we can compete with everyone else, we must get our masters before we can claim we are worthy, we must get our doctorate before we see ourselves as a person qualified to do venture into new territory.
Aside from Jack’s brilliant creation, he’s also an immensely likeable character. At 16 he’s the middle of the road teenager in high school, witty, approachable, obviously uses his brain, and he’s a little goofy – it’s endearing.
He gave a TED talk which I love watching so much that I included the link here so you could watch it too. It’s a funny tale charting his journey as a teen medical researcher/scientist, and he’s pretty good at explaining the complex biology stuff. Enjoy!Jack Andraka TED Talk