Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The National Curse of Not-So-Special Days: Stem Cells, Briskets, Fossils and Free Thought

One of the great abominations of our time -- at least in the view of this curmudgeonly writer -- is the nearly endless list of "special days" that seem to parade without stop throughout the year.

I take that back. The list is not nearly endless. A web site called Track Maven has counted something like 2,300 "special" or "national" days. And -- most importantly -- the list does not include today, Oct. 12, as Stem Cell Awareness Day.

This year, according to the quasi-official list, today, Oct. 12, is actually limited to marking the following occasions: National Free Thought Day, National Farmer’s Day, National Gumbo Day, National Fossil Day (Wednesday of second full week in October), National Emergency Nurse’s Day (second Wednesday in October),  National Bring-Your-Teddy Bear-to-Work/School Day (second Wednesday in October) and National Stop Bullying Day (second Wednesday in October).

Stem cells are quite clearly missing from the entire Track Maven list. There is a National Brisket Day (May 28), National Cabbage Day (Feb. 17),  National Public Sleeping Day (Feb. 28), National Absinthe Day (March 5) and National Get-Over-It Day (March 9). But definitely no stem cell day.

So why is the California Stem Cell Report writing about this when there are so many more important things to discuss? Because California's $3 billion stem cell agency conjured up its Stem Cell Awareness Day a few years back and can't seem to shake loose of the concept.

The reality of these not-so-special days is that they originate as a feeble tool of public relations practitioners to appear to gin up some attention for the clients and pad out an invoice. The most effective thing the special days do is fill the mail boxes of the running dogs of the media, who pitch them in the trash without even opening the envelope or the email.

That said, UC Davis stem cell researcher Paul Knoepfler bit on the ploy. He actually put together a useful overview on his blog of the state of the stem cell arena, albeit tilted toward the optimistic.

Meanwhile, today this curmudgeon is going to celebrate National Grouch Day, which is supposed to be on this Saturday but is going to be extended this year to a four-day holiday by unanimous consent.

(Late-breaking development: As per my usual practice with organizations, I notified Track Maven that it was mentioned in an item today on the California Stem Cell Report. Here is their response, and Stem Cell Awareness Day is now officially quasi-official: "Thanks for bringing National Stem Cell Awareness Day to our attention. You'll see I've updated our post to include it.  Appreciate the feedback.  Warmly, Kara") Sphere: Related Content

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