"It was the winter of despair...."-Charles Dickens

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way....."
Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
It has been the winter of my despair for quite some time. Humanity has entered into a season of Darkness. Our science has brought us to great heights. Yesterday I heard the shuttle go up. I live about an hour north of the Cape. The ground shakes and vibrates in waves. I had forgotten that this was the last shuttle trip. I went outside to see the white plume trail. Ah, how many pounds of rocket fuel vented today. A respiratory therapist told her mother (a friend of mine) that after a shuttle launch, the ER has a significant rise in asthma attacks/breathing difficulties. Anecdotal information not worthy of serious consideration?
Will someone investigate it? Not when the job situation in this area is so bad, stop the space program-you have to be kidding!!! I see that white plume and remember the Challenger. I didn't go outside that day-babies napping. Just saw it replayed over and over again on TV-embedded in my brain like the 9-11 plane hitting the World Trade Center. Traumatized by those images, can't forget, never will forget. How the media impacts our lives....not the same as seeing it happen, yet emotionally I feel I was there. Lives lost. Why?
The pursuit of knowledge is the quest for truth. Truth is on who's side? Is there a side? Is the infant formula industry truthful? Are breastfeeding advocates truthful? Is truth relative? Is truth dependent on what side of the fence you live on? Is honesty ditched because your side is the right side? What is the right side? What is academic scholarship? What is intellectual honesty? Where be thee? Is publication a game of roulette? What does it mean, when publication becomes a means to an end, not pursuit of truth. How can we depend on publication, if it can be changed at the whim of the researcher/publisher/editor? I mull this over this morning, wondering if I will ever bother reading online journals again. Despite it being "the spring of hope," I feel winter has not left us.
Copyright 2010 Valerie W. McClain

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