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Practically Idealistic blog
The title for this blog originated with use of the term “practical idealist” in this 1996 opinion piece, which asked: “To what kind of work should a practical idealist aspire?” A century and a half earlier, Emerson, in his 1841 essay Circles, wrote: “There are degrees in idealism.  We learn first to play with it academically. . . .  Then we see in the heyday of youth and poetry that it may be true, that it is true in gleams and fragments.  Then, its countenance waxes stern and grand, and we see that it must be true.  It now shows itself ethical and practical.”  John Dewey and Mahatma Gandhi embraced practical idealism in the 20th century, as did UN Secretary General U Thant.  Al Gore invoked it in a 1998 speech. In the context of this blog, the term is meant to convey idealism tempered but not overwhelmed by realism: a search for the ideal on a path guided by common sense.
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Saturday, April 25, 2015

Expanding the Pool of Blood Donors

A December 2014 Times article by Sabrina Tavernise reported the FDA’s easing of what (since 1983) had been a lifetime ban on blood donors who are gay or bisexual men.  However, many restrictions remain, including prohibition of donors who have traveled to malaria zones within the past 12 months.

That malaria provision kept me from donating for the past year, after a trip to India, until yesterday. 

Still, there are many opportunities for most people to give blood.

8:18 am edt 

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Grand Canyon, National Parks

National Park Week begins today and continues through April 26.

Coincidentally, my family just returned from our first trip to the Grand Canyon (its south rim, in our case).

This natural wonder is stunning, as expected.  It is also under threat

Last summer, Kevin Fedarko described this threat, prompting letters to the New York Times.

In recent days, we visited the Grand Canyon and then also Glen Canyon, the latter from below via a raft on the Colorado River.

Being at the Grand Canyon, after having read about the threats to it, inspired me to donate to the National Park Foundation.

Our parks and wilderness areas should be widely enjoyed and preserved by the people who together own these lands for future generations.  The National Park Service's website has a page in tribute to Theodore Roosevelt, who understood this.

8:06 am edt 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Academic, Athletic, and Financial Priorities

As the UConn women’s basketball team prepared to win its third straight NCAA title, I published an opinion piece on balancing sports, academics, and financial considerations. 

The essay appears in slightly different versions at Connecticut Viewpoints and on Medium.

8:27 pm edt 

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Benefits of Medical Marijuana

An April 2009 (April 2) post addressed “Decriminalizing Marijuana, and Its Medicinal Use”—and invoked a friend of mine who suffers severe digestive pain while enduring the effects of a spinal-cord injury. 

March 2013 post mentioned that same friend, a U.S. Army veteran in a quadriplegic condition.

When we visited yesterday, he was appreciating the benefits of a Connecticut license for medical marijuana that he recently received.  From marijuana cookies (a rare treat at an exorbitant $9 per cookie) to a vaporizer, he is finding some relief from this drug.

Currently Connecticut is considering lowering the age restriction of 18 to allow patients with Dravet’s syndrome, a type of childhood epilepsy, to use marijuana to counter seizures.

3:25 pm edt 

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