Vague blog of the week

USM President Theo Kalikow has started a bi-weekly online blog that she has titled “Theo’s Rants” where she sounds off on a question that “I sense is out there,” as she states in the introduction to her first post from Feb. 26. The bravely worded first question? –– “What the hell is active learning and why should I care?” While I appreciate her outspoken presentation, it’s this quality about her that also occasionally gets her in trouble, very similar to how Governor Paul LePage operates. One of his biggest draws during his campaign for Governor was his plainspoken attitude, but it’s now one of his biggest issues. The problem I have is that even before the question is answered, she’s setting herself up for a very blithe response, in part, because of the title of the posts being “rants.” Do I have a problem with the language, though? Hell no.

To be quite honest, by the end of the post I only partially knew what active learning was, and I wanted a few more specifics detailing why it was so important. In fact, I got caught up in the third paragraph, where she states “We need to do more…more faculty across more disciplines, working with more students.” If by that she means ask an over-extended faculty to do more than they’re already doing, to work across more disciplines that we don’t have and admit more students that don’t want to come to USM because of its publicized debacles, then I totally understand. The rant lacks some specifics that would clear the air and make it more comprehensive. It is clear that at it’s core, though, President Kalikow does want what’s best for the university, but further information on active learning itself would be appreciated.

President Kalikow is “open to your thoughts and suggestions on how to move this forward,” and you can make signed or anonymous suggestions at

Incredible medical breakthrough of the week

The future is looking much, much brighter in the fight against the AIDS epidemic. Two years ago, an infant that was diagnosed with the virus that causes HIV was administered very high doses of antiretroviral drugs within the first 30 hours of her birth. The doctors had only known that the mother of the child was HIV positive for a very short time before delivery and took immediate action to give the infant the drugs in hopes of preventing the spread of the virus. After two years of monitoring the child’s health, there is no trace of the virus in her system. She is the first person to be what is called “functionally cured,” which means that the traces of the virus in her system are so small that it doesn’t require lifelong treatment. The mother of the child received no prenatal care, amplifying the incredible success of the treatment.
Why is this story so huge other than the fact that someone was cured of HIV? The biggest reason is that if you are HIV positive but don’t know it while you’re pregnant, something can now be done to prevent that child from having to live with HIV. The enormity of this discovery can’t be overstated, and is certainly the biggest medical discovery I’ve seen in my life thus far. Some skeptics think that two years isn’t enough to prove that the child has been successfully cured. In the end we’ll have to wait and see if the treatment hold up.


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