Our last blog focused on the strength of the “weaker” sex – passion’s power to trick truth from a muddled man.

A Delilah or Mata Hari may inveigle even the stoic to expose what should be hidden (though I should hasten to add that in our modern age seduction is not an art always practiced by the female gender:  even a “cabana boy” may seduce an otherwise strong woman into dangerous indiscretions).

Dear reader, with a smile I’m sure you understand this is not the idea behind the aphorism: “Speak truth to power.”

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The last few blogs have been fairly light-hearted, dealing with issues like truth, corruption, professionalism, and scientific integrity.   So, in this missive instead I thought we might turn our collective attention to something truly important.

In The First Days of August, one of the book’s more nefarious characters, Dida Medicia, points out the potential influence of feminine wiles in the social fabric of modern society.   In bed with Steve August, the morning after the night before, Dida probes Steve for sensitive information, which he willingly reveals.  As this evolves, Dida makes a profound observation:  Wow, he’s spilling his guts.  Sex makes men so stupid!

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In 2010 the White House issued a memorandum entitled, “Scientific Integrity: Fueling Innovation, Building Public Trust.” In this memorandum John Holdren, Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, described minimum standards for government agencies crafting rules for scientific integrity, “…including a clear prohibition on political interference in scientific processes and expanded assurances of transparency.”  (see: https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/microsites/ostp/scientific-integrity-memo-12172010.pdf).

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In case you missed it, a recent pharmaceutical trial in France tested an experimental drug in 90 healthy people. The result left one man dead, while four others were hospitalized with likely permanent brain damage.

After weeks of investigation, the Paris-based newspaper Le Figaro revealed information that animal testing of the drug had left “a number” of tested canines dead and others with severe neurological damage, yet this did not stop testing of the drug in healthy human volunteers. Each volunteer participant, by the way, was paid 1900 Euros (around $2000) for the privilege.

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In case you missed it, my last blog pointed out that a passion for chocolate is bad for you, not to mention that an excess of chocolate won’t make you thin, nor make you rich.

On another level, a population’s chocolate passion may be perfect for a power-hungry regime, whether an organization, a large corporation, or an entire society.  At that level, it’s all about control.  

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“Never too thin; never too rich; never too much chocolate.”

Lifted from a Yuppie’s kitchen apron, this quip speaks to several matters within the novel The First Days of August.  

Of course, it’s meant as a joke, so it’s unfair to take it too seriously.  Part of the point is that the quip is so objectionable it’s funny, and in a backhanded sort of way it’s even laughing at itself.  But there’s a serious element; else it wouldn’t work.

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“We made a deal.  If she’d stop hooking, I’d stop shooting people.  Maybe we were both aiming high.”   

So ends the movie Payback, in which Mel Gibson (aka Porter) concludes with a pledge to lead a reformed life.  Few New Year’s resolutions reach such levels of lofty black.

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Science is a very human endeavor.

In the world in which we all live, we can easily forget this fact. Computers catalog more information than the most giant of encyclopedias. Cellphones provide instant contact anywhere on the planet. Satellites map our locations to within a foot. We even just found water on Mars. 

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“It’s difficult to get a man to understand something if his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”

Sinclair Lewis said that in 1935. And although we would like to think we’re much more sophisticated, and worldly, and socially aware than our ancestors of the early 20th century, the truth is that human nature has not changed all that much in the past 80 years.

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