Priorities and Practicality


Detail of 'Relativity' by M.C. Escher, 1953.

Paula M. Fitzgibbons explains:

It’s possible my daughter’s condition is unavoidable—that she was born with a fear of death imprinted on her genes. There is plenty of precedent in my family, with an unbroken line of anxiety-ridden women stretching back to my great-great grandmother, who made a harrowing journey from Ireland to the United States. Researchers do believe there’s a genetic component to anxiety, but for a time, I believed my daughter was additionally cursed by epigenetics, or the idea that our experiences can write themselves into our children’s DNA. I’ve since abandoned the idea—the science of epigenetics is still sketchy, and I don’t have the time or mental energy to devote to an unproven concept when our problem is more immediate. My daughter’s anxiety is interrupting her daily life and nightly sleep.”

It seems almost petty to point out, but given the stakes I think it very important to acknowledge we witness, in this passage, the temptation of pseudoscience, and the practical gravity drawing one away from such shiny and dangerous notions. While the epigenetics of fear are, indeed, mind-boggling, the point is that virtually nothing about the concept is sound, yet. Or, as Lisa Simpson once said, “You don’t control the birds. You will, someday, but not now.” That mice verge on the Lamarckian when conditioned in a context of mortal fear and the torture to inspire it is a far cry from what’s going on with human beings; and while it’s true I haven’t followed this question so closely over the last few years, it’s also one of those subjects we would have heard something about if someone achieved any sort of definitive answer about anything. There are myriad reasons to be tempted by epigenetics in these aspects, but behavioral epigenetics does not at this time a sound science make.

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Fitzgibbons, Paula M. “Watching My Daughter Develop the Same Anxiety I Struggle With”. The Cut. 12 September 2017.

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Priorities: A Snapshot


As much as people complain about the media, it is occasionally worth attending the self-inflicted wounds. To wit, Huffington Post readers:

"Trending" sidebar widget noting popular articles at the Huffington Post, 17 March 2017.• “Pro Wrestler Comes Out As Bisexual After Video With Boyfriend Hits The Web”

• “7 Signs Of A Nervous Breakdown”

• “7 Reasons Your Pee Smells Weird”

• “‘Girls’ Is Now Officially Unwatchable”

• “These Will Be The Best Places To Live In America In 2100 A.D.”

So, yeah. Trending. According to HuffPo’s metrics, this is what people are reading and promoting.

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Image note: “Trending” sidebar widget noting popular articles at the Huffington Post, 17 March 2017.

Have to Face It … Or Maybe Not


Robin wards off a spell.  (Detail of Witch Hunter Robin, ep. 9, 'Sign of the Craft'.)

The point is to not notice that I have not noticed I am not noticing something that I would prefer to not notice in order that I might forget or, at the very least, not remember. Because it is possible, if one does not remember the process afoot, one might properly forget why the process should proceed, persist, or progress.

Nor can one be any more specific. After all, the point is to forget.

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Image note: Robin wards off a spell. (Detail of Witch Hunter Robin, ep. 9, “Sign of the Craft”.)

Can He Get a Witness?


Infinite nothingThe things we learn by watching. And sometimes all anyone needs is a witness.

Observations over the weekend:

(1) Adults talking about eating. One says he’s not hungry. The other tells him no, and proceeds to explain what he will eat and when.

(2) Someone announces his mobile phone is missing. The response is to remind him who he needs to call.

(3) A depressive explains a symptom of his malady; certain events can cause something very much akin to physical pain inside his skull—the signal to noise ratio is impossible. His own mother laughs.

What a world. What a world.

Yeah, I saw that. I heard that. And there is no fourth-frame smile. The punch line is sick.

On Christian Faith, American Politics, and Some Specific Human Conditions


It’s just one of those things: Can we laugh, now?

After all, some issues really are serious, and no matter how laughably absurd we might find a moment, well, it never is laughable if we find ourselves in the middle of it all.

Bryan FischerIn response to the influx of Central American children fleeing to the southern border of the U.S., the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer is repeating his belief that all national borders were determined by God and therefore anybody who crosses them without permission is directly offending the Creator.

In a column for BarbWire today, Fischer writes, “What we learn from the Bible is that borders are God’s idea, and that such borders are to be respected. They are not to be crossed without permission.”

(Blue)

To the one, come on, that’s absolutely laughable. To the other, it would not be a particularly reliable promise that laughing our way through the current refugee crisis at our southern border would be an exercise of any useful function.

Right Wing WatchTo a third, one might notice that Mr. Fischer is invoking God’s judgment for earthly authority; we might imagine that his explanation of “what would Jesus do?” would be rather quite interesting. Especially considering the fact that Fischer’s exception to the rule is war.

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Blue, Miranda. “Bryan Fischer: ‘Our Southern Border Is There By God’s Design'”. Right Wing Watch. 10 July 2014.

Just … I Don’t Know, Say It’s Missouri, and Just Move On?


What part of this would be believable if Quentin Tarantino tried it in a movie?

A Naylor man faces domestic assault charges after allegedly shooting his wife during an argument Saturday morning.

At least he had a reason.  Or ... er ... thought he did.Bobby S. Leonard, 59, was charged Saturday with first-degree domestic assault and armed criminal action or first-degree domestic assault ….

…. Ripley County Cpl. Earl Wheetley was sent to a home on H.E. White Drive in Naylor about 8:25 a.m. Saturday in reference to a “female being shot by her husband.”

Wheetley found a woman, Carolyn Leonard, “laying on the front porch covered in blood,” according to his probable-cause affidavit. A man, Wheetley said, was holding a towel on the victim’s right shoulder.

When Wheetley asked what had happened, “she stated her and her husband was arguing, and he shot her,” said Wheetley, who was told Bobby Leonard was inside the trailer.

Wheetley said he was telling emergency medical services personnel what had happened when a man came out onto the porch. When the man identified himself as Bobby Leonard, Wheetley handcuffed him.

“I asked him if he had any weapons on him, and he stated, ‘No, the gun is in the house on the counter,'” Wheetley said.

After being told of his rights and acknowledging he understood those rights, Leonard asked whether his wife was dead, Wheetley said.

“I asked Bobby what happened, and he stated: ‘I got tired of her and shot her,'” Wheetley said.

(Friedrich)

So … right. It’s a reminder that cheap punch lines, while certainly worth a chuckle, are sometimes best kept to oneself. No, really. I mean, take your pick, right? Sanctity of marriage? Middle America? Family values? Oh. Well, damn. Right. Anyway, you see what I mean.

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Friedrich, Michele. “Man admits to shooting wife because ‘I got tired of her'”. Southeast Missourian. 9 July 2014.

Must I Love ‘I (Effin’) Love Science’?


You know, it’s articles like this that make me wonder why the hell I have so many IFL Science links coming in via Facebook.IFLS Logo

Despite the many products that claim otherwise, using the term “chemical-free” is plain nonsense. Everything, including the air we breathe, the food we eat and the drinks we consume, is made of chemicals. It doesn’t matter if you live off the land, following entirely organic farming practises or are a city-dweller consuming just processed food, either way your surroundings and diet consists of nothing but chemicals.

(Lorch)

Obviously, I need new friends.

No, really. That’s the kind of half-witted, deceptive excrement I can get from the local news. Thanks, guys. I effin’ don’t love you.

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Lorch, Mark. “Five myths about the chemicals you breathe, eat and drink”. IFL Science. 26 June 2014.