This is an Op-Ed piece I submitted to the New York Times:
I’ve always had a distaste for what I call “the griefarazzi”—people whose response to the death of a beloved public figure is inordinate and unseemly given that they never actually knew him or her. A feeling of loss or sadness over someone you admired? Fine. But this public rending of garments and heaping of ashes upon one’s head is so misdirected as to be cringe-worthy.
This was especially frustrating for me in the case of Steve Jobs, because my mother died of the same kind of cancer that he did, which has been mistakenly or inaccurately referred to by the media as “pancreatic cancer.” What he had was neuroendocrine tumors, or NET’s. It’s a specific, and poorly understood cancer, which is why there was no hope for my mother, and why I joined the board of the Caring for Carcinoid Foundation (www.caringforcarcinoid.org). Since 2005, we have funded cutting-edge research into NET’s at the nation’s top cancer hospitals—Dana-Farber, Sloan-Kettering, Johns Hopkins, etc.
The computer I’m using to write this letter is a Mac. I own a Mac laptop, an iPhone, an iPod, and other Apple products. Steve Jobs improved my life immeasurably, and I have nothing but sympathy for the people who knew and cared about him. His legacy, which I hope will include support for foundations like ours, puts him in a league with other great inventors like Edison, Graham Bell, and maybe even da Vinci.
But he was no finer or more important a human being than my mother, and I wish that the people who have mourned him so lavishly this week would spend a fraction of that effort doing something constructive about poorly understood diseases like NET’s, instead of leaving flowers outside of an Apple store or posting drivel on Facebook.
If they did, perhaps Mr. Jobs and my mother would still be alive.
This is a post I tried to get into the Huffington Post:
In all the noise that’s been made over Steve Jobs’ death, one salient point has been largely overlooked by the media and the public, who have persistently cited his cause of death as “pancreatic cancer.” What he actually died from was neuroendocine tumors, or NET’s, a highly specific and poorly understood form of cancer. This is important not only for the sake of accuracy, but because out of this misperception, many of his grieving admirers have made donations to charities completely unrelated to NET’s. I know this because I sit on the board of the Caring for Carcinoid Foundation (www.caringforcarcinoid.org
), an organization whose sole purpose is funding research into NET’s and related cancers. However, I’m writing this not to solicit donations. If that happens, we’ll welcome them. More importantly: If people’s intent is to honor his memory by making a philanthropic gesture toward fighting what actually killed him, they should first know what it is.
Neither ran, so I figured I post them here.
Raise your hand if you were a fan of the original Beverly Hills, 90210. Now raise your hand if your favorite character was Steve Sanders. I saw a few hands go down.
Well, I’m partial to muscle-y blondes, so Ian Ziering always did it for me, even if Dylan and Brandon set more adolescent hearts aflame. I had impure thoughts about the doltish surfer dude.
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Not long ago, I interviewed a biologist named Pat Spain, the host of the show “Beast Hunter” on the National Geographic channel. An avid naturalist, he mentioned that he also does a web-based program called “Nature Calls,” which includes cataloguing every snake in the state of Massachusetts.
I was doing the interview by phone from Martha’s Vineyard and said, “I know where you can find a black racer.” It’s a species that’s relatively common in the wetlands Up-island where I rent a summer house: a large but harmless black snake that can grow to five or six feet.
“Really?” he said. “That’s one I’ve been worried about finding.”
At this point, if you’re one of those people who are creeped out by snakes, you’re probably saying, “Why in Christ’s name would anyone go looking for one?” and you’ll probably stop reading right about here. For the other three of you, you may enjoy this. … read more