I recently visited the Fundació Joan Miró in Barcelona, a museum dedicated to the Spanish artist’s iconoclastic creations. For an academic on vacation, the scene was idyllic: an art-festooned courtyard; a fluttering white canopy filtering the Mediterranean sun; and an ice-cold Diet Coke. What more could one ask for?

In my case, it would have been the grant I was hoping to receive. As I sat and pondered the art I had just enjoyed, I foolishly checked my email to find a message asking me to downsize a large grant into a smaller project. Not exactly good news, but not altogether bad.

Several colleagues and I had proposed a project to study the legal rights of people with severe brain injury. Their plight is terrible: They are often dispatched from the hospitals where their lives had been saved to nursing homes where they receive what is euphemistically called custodial care rather than skilled medical care.

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