Dumb Luck

I was working as a pipe fitter’s helper in a shipyard the summer after graduation from Nicholls, trying to make a little money to go to law school – LSU. And got a call from my state senator who I had helped get elected to ask me if I would come to Baton Rouge and become his aid in the state Senate. I explained to him I couldn’t. I had just taken a job, and they had trained me, and I had bought some safety shoes, and I had an investment in this new job at the shipyard and couldn’t very well leave this early. And I remember getting off the phone and my dad said, “Who was that?” and I told him. And he said, “Well what did you tell the man?” And I said, “Well I told him I’d just taken a job in the shipyard. I couldn’t very well leave.” And he . . . So he walked me over to his bedroom where he had a full-length mirror. And he stood me up in front of the mirror and I was covered with grease and oil from working in that shipyard that day. And he said, “Does that look like a lawyer to you, kiddo?” And I said, “No sir.” And he said, “What are you gonna do?” I said, “I’m gonna call that fellow up.” (Laughter) I called the senator up and accepted his offer, and moved to Baton Rouge and started working in the state Senate as the one and only aid the state senator had in those days. And so doors . . . doors opened for me. And that’s, I guess, what happens in this country. Doors magically open for people of, you know, rather simple means and simple backgrounds. And suddenly you get a chance to do something extraordinary. And it began there. It began with that . . . that four year service as an aid in the state Senate, graduation from law school, and the determination that I wanted a career in politics, and the decision to run for the state House in 1971. Recorded on: 9/11/07

From pipe fitter's helper to CEO of PhRMA.

​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

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Scientists study tattooed corpses, find pigment in lymph nodes

It turns out, that tattoo ink can travel throughout your body and settle in lymph nodes.

17th August 1973: An American tattoo artist working on a client's shoulder. (Photo by F. Roy Kemp/BIPs/Getty Images)
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In the slightly macabre experiment to find out where tattoo ink travels to in the body, French and German researchers recently used synchrotron X-ray fluorescence in four "inked" human cadavers — as well as one without. The results of their 2017 study? Some of the tattoo ink apparently settled in lymph nodes.


Image from the study.

As the authors explain in the study — they hail from Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, and the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment — it would have been unethical to test this on live animals since those creatures would not be able to give permission to be tattooed.

Because of the prevalence of tattoos these days, the researchers wanted to find out if the ink could be harmful in some way.

"The increasing prevalence of tattoos provoked safety concerns with respect to particle distribution and effects inside the human body," they write.

It works like this: Since lymph nodes filter lymph, which is the fluid that carries white blood cells throughout the body in an effort to fight infections that are encountered, that is where some of the ink particles collect.

Image by authors of the study.

Titanium dioxide appears to be the thing that travels. It's a white tattoo ink pigment that's mixed with other colors all the time to control shades.

The study's authors will keep working on this in the meantime.

“In future experiments we will also look into the pigment and heavy metal burden of other, more distant internal organs and tissues in order to track any possible bio-distribution of tattoo ink ingredients throughout the body. The outcome of these investigations not only will be helpful in the assessment of the health risks associated with tattooing but also in the judgment of other exposures such as, e.g., the entrance of TiO2 nanoparticles present in cosmetics at the site of damaged skin."

Why are so many objects in space shaped like discs?

It's one of the most consistent patterns in the unviverse. What causes it?

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  • Spinning discs are everywhere – just look at our solar system, the rings of Saturn, and all the spiral galaxies in the universe.
  • Spinning discs are the result of two things: The force of gravity and a phenomenon in physics called the conservation of angular momentum.
  • Gravity brings matter together; the closer the matter gets, the more it accelerates – much like an ice skater who spins faster and faster the closer their arms get to their body. Then, this spinning cloud collapses due to up and down and diagonal collisions that cancel each other out until the only motion they have in common is the spin – and voila: A flat disc.