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.


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

On Morality and Hitting Children With Cars

Honestly, after everything else, to see a photo of Pietro with his arm in cast and sling―

Transgender mother Bárbara Pastana, and her 2 year old son Pietro, were victims of a transphobic assault on Tuesday October 4th in Belém do Pará, Brazil. The attack occurred when she was taking her Pietro to the kindergarten by

“Every day I go out (in the Bengui neighborhood) and take my son to school by bicycle, in a front seat. Today, a car approached and followed me slowly. I kept pedaling but the driver sped up the car and hit on the bike, “she said.

Bárbara fell toward the sidewalk above her child and said that after the impact, her only concern was the health of the child. “I could not see anything, just saw my injured son. I do not know who did it, I can not imagine, “she said.


―is just too much. Today is one of those days.

Then again, today is one of those days insofar as I get to have such days. Brazil is a killing field for transgender, and I won’t tell anyone to feel thankful we Americans are merely fighting over restrooms, or anything like that. Still, though, I don’t know: Is there comfort that it’s not so bad up here, or are we just not there yet? And, you know, it never really helps to tell anyone to cheer up, at least they’re not running you down or … or … okay, at least they’re not doing all that stuff as much. Right. Never really helps.

I don’t know; this reminder that they would kill the children, too? Attacking children is hardly unique, but remember, these are the moralists.


Santos, Eduarda Alice. “Transgender mother and son victims of hit and run”. Planet Transgender. 1 November 2016.

A moment of stupid

Okay, just … just work with me here for a second.


Right. Whatever.

Why can’t children drive? That is, why is, say, a ten year old not allowed to get a driver’s license?

I know. It’s a stupid question, right? But if you stick around the internet long enough, you’ll come across it. Of course, sometimes that means admitting to reading some pretty strange stuff. I’d rather be caught, I suppose, looking at pornography.


Anyway, yes, something got me to thinking about the question, and such inquiries always annoy me. Yes, I understand, it seems obvious, and there are some things about which that ought to suffice, but of course it doesn’t. I mean, it will for now, but, really, it doesn’t.

There are all sorts of things you could say. Try setting a minimum qualification at all. Then apply it to every driver. Motor skills testing? Hey, if the kid can get the key into the ignition ....

Not only would it be an atrocious bureaucracy, but those who complain about the size and scope of the government should probably not throw their hats in with freeways full of children.

Which, in the end, is the most obvious point. Yes, we can posit some outcome of burdening the developing psyche with such sustained and repeated mortal responsibility. We can flip aimlessly through the pages of how much literature describing the attention spans of children, and just how hard and far we can tweak them before they break. At some point, it actually becomes a fascinating question, and damn it to Hell for that. But, when we arrange the factors, ponder their natures, and consider their magnitudes, one notion stands out so clearly among the rest―freeways full of children.

Driving cars. At eighty miles an hour.

Two words: Natural selection.

No, really. That’s your answer. If you’re ever actually there, in that moment, when someone says, “Well, like, why can’t―I don’t know―why can’t children drive?” You just look them square in the eye and say, “Natural selection.”

And if they don’t get it, so what? Fuck ’em. It’s a stupid question, anyway, and never actually seems to serve the rhetorical context in which it’s raised.

Memo to Karen M. Ignani (AHIP)

Karen Ignagni, AHIPRobert Pear brings us the latest grotesque scene from the health care battle:

Under pressure from the White House, health insurance companies said Tuesday that they would comply with rules to be issued soon by the Obama administration requiring them to cover children with pre-existing medical problems.

“Health plans recognize the significant hardship that a family faces when they are unable to obtain coverage for a child with a pre-existing condition,” said Karen M. Ignagni, president of America’s Health Insurance Plans, a trade group. Accordingly, she said, “we await and will fully comply with” the rules.

Ms. Ignagni made the commitment in a letter to Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services, who had said she feared that some insurers might exploit a possible ambiguity in the new health care law to deny coverage to some sick children.

So, a memo to Ms. Ignagni:

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