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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Incongruity and the Moment


Bloom County, by Berke Breathed. (n.d.)

The weather report for the next couple days is hardly catastrophic, but neither is it pleasant, and that in turn brings to mind talk of blustery, wet, generally unpleasant winter expected to be, overall, too mild to build significant snowpack in the Cascades, and while it is easy enough to hope such chatter is, well, merely chatter, it is also rather quite tempting to mutter something about, Damn it, Nature! stop wasting water like that!

Except, you know, we’re the human species, so the next thought to mind is also pretty obvious: Oh, right.

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Image note: I’m pretty sure I was playing around with the photocopy filter in GIMP. Never mind. It’s Bloom County, by the one and only Berke Breathed, and I’ve a date of 26 March 1982 for this particular episode.

On Death and Hairballs


Detail of FLCL episode 3, "Marquis de Carabas".

“If they really wanted to kill us, don’t you think it would have happened?”

Mikel Delgado

Look, I know it’s (ahem!) just a cat but, really, she’s nineteen years old, and do you think maybe, just maybe there might be a better time to talk about how her age peer’s health declined shortly before death, and how awful that other cat looked right before it died, and how we’re going to change the room we’re sitting in after the cat is dead than while you’re holding the cat in your lap?

Yeah, you know, it might be one of those stupidities of capitalist press, but I really did like the suggestion that cats want us dead. There are, after all, days when we shouldn’t wonder why.

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Image note: Meow ― Detail of frame from FLCL, episode 3, “Marquis de Carabas”.

Hanson, Hilary. “No, A Study Did NOT Find That Your Cat Wants To Kill You”. The Huffington Post. 5 November 2015.

On Science and Shame


Mao (left), and Suou react to July (not pictured) in Darker Than Black: Gemini of the Meteor, episode 9, 'They Met One Day Unexpectedly ...'.

Here’s a question: I wonder how many times humanity fails to pursue a particular scientific inquiry simply because, while the information might actually be useful, nobody would want to admit where they got the idea?

This inquiry, indeed, is an example. There are plenty of reasons one might wonder, but I can promise you really, really don’t want to know whence comes the question on this particular occasion.

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.

What He Said


Certes, ’tis true that I am not one who generally appreciates certain modern shorthand, such as ^ ^, +1, or, shudder m’soul, ditto. Then again, Ryan Grim made the point many felt viscerally as the news broke.

Still, though, it’s hard to not nod grimly (ha!) and think, “Yeah … what he said.”