Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Grandmother Hypothesis

A guest on the Colbert report, Michael Behe, commented that when Newton's discoveries were not the end of physics but were built upon by Einstein.

"So you're Darwin's Einstein?" Colbert said.

But seriously, doesn't Darwin need an Einstein?

Michael Behe's problem with Darwin is that he didn't have the knowledge base about cellular design and DNA. My problem is that the whole thing is based on survival as the ultimate rationale. According to what I as a non-scientist can discern, the theory of evolution says that the purpose of life is to perpetuate itself.

For example, take the "grandmother hypothesis." Scientists understand why men have long life span because men can beget children into old age. But evolutionary theory couldn't understand why women survived past childbearing age. Then somebody decided that it was because grandmothers could help the mothers so that more of the tribe would survive. Like the whole purpose is to produce more children? But stand it on its head for a minute. Maybe all humans are meant to go threescore and ten but the women who didn't go through menopause didn't survive. Maybe there is a greater purpose to life than survival, that elders-- both men and women-- contribute to.

Do you think science will discover some psycho-spiritual aspects to life or has the theory of evolution evolved as far as it can go?

P.S. I don't go from design to Creator though. It's a matter of faith.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Old Lady Back Attack

It's happened before and it happened again on Thursday. I threw my back out.

"Why did you throw it away, Grandma?" Joseph, age 4, asked when I told him.

"I hurt it," I explained, "looking for the carrot peeler."

In the past I've done it by reaching under the bed, putting on a boot, or brushing my teeth. You just feel it POP, with a pain so bad it makes you cry out loud. It happens to 60% of us, and it is excruciating--way past my normal fibromyalgia stuff. You get to know the spectrum from crippled in agony to bad pain to crippled uncomfortably. Keep thinking of those "faces of pain" charts you see in doctor's offices. :( :( :(

I know how to treat a back attack, with rest and muscle relaxants and controlled movement within hunched and creeping limits. The first day I couldn't lift the folded laundry off the bed. Yesterday I couldn't sit up in a chair as I'm doing now. I've been through this before.

Only, this time I notice I'm seeing everything through the prism of age. This can't just be a normal back attack; it's the beginning of life on the way to a nursing home. First, a wheelchair and turning the downstairs lav into a shower (because the stairs feel like Everest at the moment). Next, someone to come in and help me w/ ADL (activities of daily living). Oh, why not just smother me with a pillow.

That time may well come; but this prism of age colors every perception before its time. When younger, I'd do things. Now, when I do something I think, "How spry for an old lady." When I was young and tired I'd think, "I'm tired." Being old and tired, I think, "I'm feeling my age." The prism can be a realistic motivator, as realizing I don't have forever to accomplish a goal. But the colorings can also act as their own kind of crippler, as thinking, "What's the use, I'm too old to.. learn Chinese... improve my guitar... write a bestseller..."

Guess it's just part of growing older: the prism casts these shadows, and that's the way it is. Meanwhile, contrary to psychological effects, my body is showing some surprising resilience here. Otherwise I wouldn't be able to sit here and type. Yay. Good old horsey.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Let's talk about Polarizing

It's Super Tuesday and I voted already, in Massachusetts, for Hillary. Commentators condemn her by reflex and then they say it is her fault the Republicans are horrible. (See Frank Rich in NY Times last Sunday). She's a Karl Rove and will empower Karl Rove. She fights too much. What else? Oh she's Oldpolitick, and there really is a new Obamadawn breaking.

Obama's OK, he just hasn't done that much. The pristine reformer has taken big contributions from Exxon and he has fudged on his legislative record on mandated reporting of nuclear leakage. But let's not talk about facts; just consider being reviled and so forth.

Being hated might be part of the presidential job description. Abraham Lincoln was depicted as a hairy ape by political cartoonists. His life was considered in so much danger from his enemies that he disguised himself as a woman to take the train to his inauguration. In this century Republicans grew apoplectic at "that man in the White House," FDR. He started income tax and socialistic work programs, even for writers and artists. Our two greatest presidents were greatly hated.

Then there are the Kennedy brothers. In his lifetime JFK was said to be a tool of the "Kennedy machine" funded by his father's rum-running fortune. He may have owed his presidency to Chicago mayor Richard Daley's corruption of some voting results. He was hated for appointing his "ruthless" brother Bobby as Attorney General. At the time the press didn't report it, but he brought women-not-his-wife into the White House for sex. Then JFK presided over the Bay of Pigs fiasco and followed the advice of the "best and the brightest" to start us up in Vietnam. As for the youngest Kennedy brother, any mention of Teddy in the conservative media for years consisted of a noun a verb and Chappaquidick.

Lopsided reviling? For doing good or for omitting to do good? Take your partisan pick. That's what's going on with journalists and the Clintons and you know it. It's so easy, so fun.