Wednesday, October 31, 2007


I interviewed at Vanderbilt in Tennessee on Monday and I loved it. Pretty much everything about it was amazing. Here are the best things about Vanderbilt.

1. The students are happy. They are really happy. According the surveys, they are the happiest med students in the country. They have parties, they know each other and they even go line dancing together.

2. Extremely flexible program. Vanderbilt has this emphasis program that allows you to study what you want. I would probably look into Global Health or maybe healthcare administration (they have the #1 business school in this field).

3. Location. The South is amazing. Grits are amazing. Sweet potato pancakes are amazing. Sweet tea is amazing. Southerners are amazing (they talk to you and are friendly; I pulled out a map and it wasn't 3 seconds before someone asked if I needed help). Vanderbilt has about a billion trees, and they actually are changing colors! It is beautiful! Tennessee and Nashville are pretty cool too (though their roads are very poorly designed).

The interview itself went great. I just talked about FISH for an hour while the interviewer laughed and smiled. I felt very confident about it. It was a great first interview. I'll have something to cling to when I get torn apart by questions that actually are tough (beyond just "tell stories about FISH").

I've got another one at UCSF which should be much tougher. UCSF is very highly ranked among medical schools even though it doesn't have much reputation outside the medical community.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


I always thought the people at UCLA had a lot in common when it came to beliefs. Last Sunday I started thinking about exactly how much they had in common. It turned out to be a lot.


A new religion has emerged. Like other religions, it has its priests, dogmas, sacraments, and practices. Unlike other religions however, it does not itself claim to be a religion; its adherents simply believe it is the right the Way.

The focus and center of the religion is the self. That is not to say that the practicioners of this religion are necessarily selfish or at least any more selfish than any other parishioner, but rather that the religion is centered on the self. In a sense, the self is holy or set apart. Christians base their religion on what the Bible says. These people base their religion on themselves; the opinions and beliefs within them are, to them, Truth.

The religion has very much in common with Deism and can even be thought of as a variant of it. Because of its similarity, and because of the focus on the self, I have decided to call the religion “Meism,” and its parishioners “meists.”

Meism holds firmly that “truth is relative.” This statement encompasses certain things (particularly morality and theology), but not other things (e.g. scientific truths). This tenet gives them the ability to “doublethink,” that is, to think two contradictory thoughts and hold both to be true.

Meism has a strict moral code “Thou shalt not offend another person in any way.” This certainly includes all forms of violence, but also includes things like insults or proselytizing, as these are thought to offend the psyche of a person. They firmly and sometimes militantly believe that any moral dictate placed on them beyond this is itself a violation of the code.

The Good
Meists believe explicitly they must define their own purpose in life. Nevertheless, in reality they believe that environmentalism, medicine, multiculturalism, and altruism are all part of the Good. Environmentalism and medicine are probably valued because of their eschatology. Multiculturalism serves as a kind of evangelism, and is consistent with their moral maxim. Altruism is valued, though there seems to be no motivation from other doctrines; perhaps it is an emotional inheritance from Christianity.

Meists are physicalists and believe that the only existing thing is matter. They disbelieve in souls, and so strongly reject Dualism. Some Meists bend this doctrine to give God a non-material nature.

Meists do not seriously believe in any supernatural place for themselves. Their hope for themselves is as close to eternal life as they can get with medicine. Many will also try to do something “to be remembered” and so live on through that. The destiny of the race is thus also material, making the preservation of the earth and her species of utmost importance.

Rewards and Punishments
There is no clear sense of cosmic reward or judgement in Meism. In many Meists may believe in what they call “karma,” a sense of good things happening to good people. In many there is also an ill-defined sense of altruism being good, though with no philosophical support or adequate rewards system, it is rarely practiced.

Essentially Deist, Meism holds that a transcendent creator caused the Big Bang but then has remained uninvolved in it. Modernist views of evolutionary development have proceeded.

Meism believes in a powerful, intelligent and transcendent Force as its Deity. It claims that knowledge of God more specific that is not just unknown, but unknowable (i.e. it cannot be known if God is personal, immanent, etc.). Meists do not accept or consider evidence or argument that suggests more could be known of God.

The two things that are holy to Meism are Science and Self. Meists believe science it is set apart and unassailable by profane things. The Self, and specifically beliefs about Meism, are considered Most Holy. They cannot be challenged, even by Science. Challenges to Meism are avoided; Meists will doublethink that the challenge is actually not a challenge (e.g. if someone were to challenge with “Jesus is God” a Meist would reply “That’s true for you”).

Meists treat scientists as priests; their words are held as truth. In non-scientific realms (e.g. environmental policy, abortion legality), their opinions are extremely important, if not all-important.

Self Identification
Meism holds that it is a non-entity, that is, Meism does not believe there is any such thing as Meism. Meists hold that their doctrine is the Truth, and those that disagree with it are ‘close-minded.’

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


I'm back. After long abandonment of my poor blog, I have returned!

Perhaps this need for expression is overwhelming as I have not been able to talk (Doctor's orders: Laryngitis). Maybe it's because everyone's doing it. Maybe I've been inspired by someone's example. Maybe it's because I'm procrastinating right now.

Whatever the reason. Here is one post. In the next post, I will briefly reflect what I've learned from a day without talking:

Have you ever not talked for an entire day? I hadn't either before today. It's really hard. Really hard. I bought a mini white board and have been writing notes like "HIS NAME IS JOHN" or "3 item: orange chicken, black pepper chicken, kung Pao."

The main lesson I think God has been attempting to drive into my thick skull is that 1. SLOW DOWN. 2. I should listen more 3. I should talk to God more. 4. Don't waste words.

1. I have been going very fast and doing too much. I need to slow down, and not being able to talk has facilitated that. I can't do everything I planned to do, and I'm liking it. It's very peaceful.

2. Not being able to talk at all forces me to listen to people a lot more.

3. Out of a need to talk with someone, I have been forced to communicate with God, the only one who can actually hear my thoughts. It has been refreshing spending time with God. He always has to do things like that to me.

4. I waste a lot of words. There is so much stupid stuff I think about saying, but the investment of writing it down on a whiteboard really dissuades me from "saying" it. Pro 17:27a "He that hath knowledge spareth his words..." I must have tons of knowledge today! Although I have even resorted to wasting whiteboard words. And probably blog words. So much for knowledge...

Overall, Laryngitis has been a largely positive experience, though not one I'd like to share with my friends.