First fiction, then reality .. I wonder which one is harder to bear?

As the medical science and practice are advancing, transplanted organs work better in new bodies, making the need for organs more apparent; however, in economic terminology, supply is way behind the demand curve:

WaitForKidney“Organ transplants are one of the extraordinary developments of modern science. They began in 1954 with a kidney transplant performed at Brigham & Women’s hospital in Boston. But the practice only took off in the 1970s with the development of immunosuppressive drugs that could prevent the rejection of transplanted organs. Since then, the number of kidney and other organ transplants has grown rapidly, but not nearly as rapidly as the growth in the number of people with defective organs who need transplants. The result has been longer and longer delays to receive organs.” [1]

So, where do we get new organs, if there are not sufficiently many people willing to let go? Perhaps, science can help us here: what about growing organs in the lab?

Of course, as usual, fiction (or rather, science-fiction) has already offered several other alternatives, for example, cloning people in order to harvest their organs later on. You can read several science-fiction stories and watch movies with this theme; here two recent ones: Never Let Me Go (2010) and Moon (2009).

This is fiction, of course.

The reality is however is on its way; two economists: “Mr. Becker is a Nobel Prize-winning professor of economics at the University of Chicago and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. Mr. Elias is an economics professor at the Universidad del CEMA in Argentina,” offer the following solution: You can sell your organs.

Well, we spoke about suply/demand curve above, so economists feel qualified to chip in. They give analyses and examples on how and why this might work.

Who is “you” above? I could offer one interpretation: You is the one that “needs” the money, obviously, poor people. And, who might possibly “buy”. Well, rich people, of course! Poor selling their kidneys to the rich would be morally acceptable to some, since it is the capitalistic solution.

But what should the rich stop there? As, my friend Mark Gannon puts it “…because the next logical step for capitalism is for the poor basically to be kept around so their organs can be harvested for use by the rich. We all know only those who have money ought to be able to get organs for transplant!?”

Still, I would say Mark’s scenario is much more humane than the following: Sending mercenaries to harvest organs in other countries; armed with guns and scalpels. A new form colonialism, I suppose. Perhaps as the ships carried (almost) live bodies of slaves from Africa to Americas up to the 19th Century, our high-tech, refrigirated airplanes would be flying from all unfortunate places to the Elysium, filled with (almost) live organs.

It seems that while we ascend to other solar systems or perhaps to other galaxies on the wings of science, we also have the capacity to descend even deeper into the moral oblivion.

[1] Cash for Kidneys: The Case for a Market for Organs. The Wall Street Journal, January 18, 2014.

The City – Konstantinos Petrou Kavafis

The City

You said, “I will go to another place, to another shore.
Another city can be found that’s better than this.
All that I struggle for is doomed, condemned to failure;
and my heart is like a corpse interred.
How long will my mind stagger under this misery?
Wherever I turn, wherever I look
I see the blackened ruins of my life,
which for years on end I squandered and wrecked and ravaged”.

You will find no other place, no other shores.
This city will possess you, and you’ll wander the same
streets. In these same neighborhoods you’ll grow old;
in these same houses you’ll turn gray.
Always you’ll return to this city. Don’t even hope for another.
There’s no boat for you, there’s no other way out.
In the way you’ve destroyed your life here,
in this little corner, you’ve destroyed it everywhere else.

Konstantinos Petrou Kavafis


Translated by Stratis Haviaras
There are several English translations of this poem, and
I think this is the best.

My “new” Office …

While I was gone for a month, the unnamed Turkish university (where I was working) moved my books and things, and neatly organized my new office for me.
This is what I saw when I came there in the morning of September 15, 2012:
IMG_1620-1024x764 IMG_1621-1024x764  IMG_1622-1024x764 IMG_1623-1024x764

The State of the Turkish Educational System …

This street banner ad pretty much sums the state of the Turkish educational system.
A private school company advertisement says:

Nature College Children University Kindergartens!


This is a country where a significant percentage of parents are uneducated or practically illiterate, and they think that if they send their kid to “this school”, paying several thousand dollars, their kid will be studying at the College, the University, and the Kindergarten all at the same time!

Unscrupulous businessmen make ton of money preying on kids and their dimwitted parents by setting up such phony schools where the teachers are paid near minimum wage salaries.

It is very depressing.

Sonnet XVII – by Pablo Neruda

I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way

than this: where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.

in Spanish:

No te amo como si fueras rosa de sal, topacio
o flecha de claveles que propagan el fuego:
te amo como se aman ciertas cosas oscuras,
secretamente, entre la sombra y el alma.

Te amo como la planta que no florece y lleva
dentro de sí, escondida, la luz de aquellas flores,
y gracias a tu amor vive oscuro en mi cuerpo
el apretado aroma que ascendió de la tierra.

Te amo sin saber cómo, ni cuándo, ni de dónde,
te amo directamente sin problemas ni orgullo:
así te amo porque no sé amar de otra manera,

sino así de este modo en que no soy ni eres,
tan cerca que tu mano sobre mi pecho es mía,
tan cerca que se cierran tus ojos con mi sueño.

Total tyranny ..

“The National Security Agency’s capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter. There would be no place to hide. If a dictator ever took over, the N.S.A. could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back.”—Senator Frank Church (1975).

Quora question: Cryptography: Why does Blackerry Ltd (formerly R.I.M) hold most of the patents related to Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC)?

RIM purchased Certicom which was the company built purposely on a few ECC implementation patents by some Univ of Waterloo professors. Not only owning the patents by these people at Waterloo, Certicom stole every single idea by anyone who gave a seminar Waterloo as a graduate student, postdoc or just a visitor and patented it under Certicom’s name!!! [This is really true and I know at least one specific instance of it]