Wednesday, April 11, 2012


  1. Sid spends time discussing the evolution of the science and medicine related to cancer treatment, whether surgical or medical.

    1. Borrowing from Joel Mokyr, what propositional knowledge has been involved?

    1. What prescriptive knowledge?

i.         for cancer cure versus palliative

ii. What is an ethical goal: (1) minimize patient suffering; or (2) search for cure?

  1. With respect to research, what is importance of (i) access to knowledge; and (ii) space to work?

  1. What cancer related technologies were evolutionary versus “paradigm shifting”?

    1. Which technologies offered “elegant” solutions?

    1. Did “paradigm shifters” need to evade societal/medical norms?

  1. How do societal beliefs and expectations about nature infect scientific conceptualization of cancer therapies?

    1.  cancer research during “industrial phase” versus “bioscience phase”

    1. shift from “kill or cut” cells to therapies designed to interrupt mutant genes

  1. Discuss Mary Lasker’s obsession versus big tobacco’s obsession.

  1. Wouldn’t the Lunar Men have loved the role of industrial dyes?

  1. Did anyone learn anything about cancer?

  1. Discuss Sid’s use of language.

    1. Did you reread any paragraphs solely because the paragraph was well written?

    1. Discuss role of Sid’s insider perspective on writing.

  1. Discuss roles of government versus university research with respect to “war on cancer.”

  1. There are two recent inventions that are changing people’s lives: (1) da Vinci surgical instruments (minimally invasive robotic micro-surgery); and (2) directional drilling techniques (which accounts for steep decrease in price of certain energy and is revitalizing portions of rust belt).  Comments about relative value of each?

  1. Is study of retroviruses and oncogenes “loopy”?

  1. Genes versus silicon?

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Met Guy from Cancer Book

Sat next to V. Clifford Jordan on flight back from DC.  (p. 217).  He saw what I was reading and proceeded to tell me how it was a great book but that he was the real discoverer of Tamoxifen and not a follow on researcher as suggested.  He then inscribed my copy of the book at my request and we had a nice chat about what the author had gotten right and where he was a little out of his depth.  My only contribution was mentioning some of the antitrust litigation about efforts by the branded pharma companies to delay generic tamoxifen and related drugs from coming on the market.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Next book is The Emperor of all Maladies, A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee

Tuesday, January 10, 2012



July 12, 2004

1.  Why did Hamilton feel so strongly about promoting mercantilism
(e.g., Is it the "lever of the riches" or an emulation of England)?

2.  How would the government and business environment of the United
differ today if Hamilton had not caught Washington's attention in

3.   Other than the sawbuck, what is the most enduring monument to
Hamilton (e.g., the Fed, the political party, the army)?

4.  What defined Hamilton's consciousness (e.g., outsider who becomes
war hero, Fed Ex deliveryman, workaholic Wall Street lawyer) ?

5.  Was Hamilton the original Democrat or Republican (current parties)?
  Does either party label fit?  Would Dewey, James or Holmes think of
Hamilton as "like-minded"?

6.  Is Ron Chernow a good biographer, and if so what are his weaknesses?

7.  For extra credit, who is the man without qualities in this book?

8. Why was Hamilton silent during the Constitutional Convention
(after his "monarchy" speech)?

9. Why was Hamilton so eager to become Washington's number two
again during the Quasi War with France of 1799?

10. What were some of the principal reasons Hamilton's political
judgment became so poor/sour in his 40's?

11. Was the duel with Burr avoidable/inevitable?

12. Did Burr kill Hamilton on purpose and if so, why?

13. Did Hamilton and Angelica Church make love?  Is the proposition
that they did not because of the close relations among  Alexander, Angelica and
Eliza persuasive?

14.  Would Hamilton be considered one of the important founders based
largely on his role as the key cabinet member under Washington? Without
this role, would he make the cut based on his Revolutionary War exploits
and his role as prime mover of the Federalist Papers? Given Hamilton's
relatively detached involvement at the Constitutional Convention, and
the relatively limited direct impact of the Papers on the ratification
of the Constitution, do you question his achievement with the Papers
(apart from his ability to explain and promote the work of others)?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Discussion Outline for Final Hour by Martin Rees and Nonzero: The Logic of Human Destiny by Robert Wright

To:  Book Club
From:  Fred Snow
Re: Book Club-Final Hour by Martin Rees and Nonzero: The Logic of Human Destiny by Robert Wright
Date: July 21, 2003

1.  Rees discusses the necessity of  'going slow."  Wright discusses the need to tolerate a "seductive effect."  Joe Tainter, an archeologist, has proposes a model regarding the rise and fall of complex societies (i.e., they don't necessary collapse, such societies return to a "normal" period of less human complexity when investment in complex society reaches a point of declining marginal return).  Are we going there?

2.  Rees discusses the advisability of science policy based an a sort of Pascal model (i.e., even through the probability if the existence of a vengeful God is remote, the price of being wrong keeps us in line).  As a policy matter, should we try to restrict/slow down science even when there is no theory suggesting a catastrophe should occur?  Genetic engineering of food comes to mind as an example.

3.  One of Rees more interesting risks is the risk of becoming less human because we can change the chemistry of our minds?  Should we as a society try to restrict access to therapies which present such a risk?

4.  Rees identifies the risk of global warming as a grave (a combination of high probability mixed with a highly bad result).  Efforts to control global warming have largely failed.  What is the role on nonzero sumness to this risk,  Can society be influenced by nonzero sumness even when the result is unknowable?  Do we adequately evaluate the interests of "others" when we nonzero (e.g., unborn individuals, the environment, other societies).

5.  Is the difference between the Islamic terrorist and western man merely a timing difference (I know this is obscure, just think in terms of the here and now and the afterlife)?

6.  From a writing standpoint, did Rees hold your interest?

Monday, January 2, 2012

Lunar Men

Finally finished Lunar Men while on vacation. Can't imagine a less interesting book about some of the most interesting men.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

List of assigned books as of December 22, 2011 (with name of assignor)

Lunar Men-Uglow-Frank

Dark Wood Wondering-Hella Haasse-Paul

Final Hour- Martin Rees-Fred

Nonzero: The Logic of Human Destiny- Robert Wright-Fred

Federalist Papers-Alexander Hamilton, et al-David

Man Without Qualities Robert Musil-John

Metaphysical Club-Louis Menard-Spencer

From Soul to Mind-Read-Frank

The White Guard-Mikhail Bulgakov-Paul

Alexander Hamilton-Ron Chernow-Fred

Palladio Four Books on Architecture-David

Ten Books Architectura-Vitruvius-David

Open Society and Its Enemy-Karl Popper-John

Wittgenstein's Poker-John Eidinow-John

Swann's Way-Marcel Proust-Spencer

Kind of Blue Miles Davis-Ashley Kahn-Frank

Sound of Surprise- Whitney Balliett-Frank

The Good Soldier Svejk-Jaroslav Hasek-Paul

Gifts of Athena-Joel Merker-Fred

Within A Budding Grove-Marcel Proust-David

Team of Rivals-Doris Kearns Goodwin-John

Adventures of Augie March-Saul Bellow-Spencer

Jazz Modernism-Appel-Frank

Art-Clive Bell -Frank

Concerning the Spiritual in Art-Wassily Kandinsky-Frank

In Praise of Shadows-Jun'ichiro Tanizaki-Frank

Kite Runner-Khaled Hosseini-Paul

The Double Helix-James Watson-Fred

Walden and Civil Disobience-David Thoreau-David


Leaves of Grass-Walt Whitman-Spencer

Democracy in America-alexis deTocqueville -Frank

Faith and Treason, Gunpowder Plot-Antonia Fraser-Paul

Einstein: His Life and Universe-Walter Issacson-Fred

Einstein's Clocks, Poincare's Map: Empires of Time-Peter Louis Galison-Fred

Roughing It-Mark Twain-David

Pragmatism and The Meaning of Truth-William James-John

Selfish Gene-Richard Dawkins-Spencer

Origin of Species-Charles Darwin-Spencer


Witches and Jesuits: Shakespeare's Macbeth-Garry Wills-Frank

The Leopard-Giuseppe Di Lampedusa-Paul

Human, The Science Behind What Makes Us Unique-Michael Gazzaniga-Fred

India Unbound: The Social and Economic Revolution from Independence to the Global Information Age-Gurcharan Das-David

Magic Mountain-Thomas Mann-John

Watchmen- Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons-Spencer

Persepolis- Marjane Satrapi-Spencer

The Singularity Is Near-Ray Kurzwell-Frank

Seagull and Uncle Vanya-Anton Chekov-Paul

In the First Circle-Alexander Solzhenitsyn-Fred

Notes on State of Virginia-Thomas Jefferson-David

The Museum of Innocence-Orhan Pamuk-John

Jazz Modernism-Alfred Appel-Spencer

Crowds and Power-Elias Canetti-Frank

The Blue Mountain-Meir Shalev-Paul

Washington, A Life-Ron Chernow-Fred

Watership Dawn-Richard Adams-David

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban-Rowling-David

I Am A Strange Loop-Hofstadler-John

To The Lighthouse and Room of One’s Own-Virginia Woolfe-Spencer

Benjamin Franklin-Walter Issacson-Frank

The Razor’s Edge-W. Somerset Maugham