Tuesday, October 20, 2020

What's So Great About Capitalism?

 There has been a lot of talk in recent times about how great socialism is and how evil capitalism is. In spite of the fact that at least hundred million people have died under socialist regimes trying to make this impossible economic model work, its proponents claim that it has never been tried and that it will work if done correctly. Capitalism, on the other hand, is viewed by many as a tool of exploitation following Marx's model of the oppressor and oppressed. In this worldview the oppressors are the bourgeoisie, the middle class that owns property, while the oppressed are the landless working class.

Marx actually had the concept partially right, but his solution was backwards. The goal for cultural and economic improvement among any class should not be to overthrow the property owners and construct a society without private property. Instead, the goal should be to make everyone an owner of private property. Here's how that works.

In the bad old days, when the years had only three digits instead of four, real estate property as well as wealth property (money and portable wealth) was in the hands of very few people. Everybody else worked the land as farmers or plowmen, or perhaps blacksmiths or servants to the rich, who were the owners of everything. The serfs, servants, tenants, and other workers had no power and no possessions.

Gradually, however, the tenants began to acquire property. Even a small amount of land allowed these former day laborers a place to put down roots, both literally and figuratively. Stability offered by land ownership allowed for the development of trade, economic systems, saving money, cultural development, banking (and therefore the ability to borrow money), and competition. Instead of the year after year cycle of growth of wheat harvest, wheat, and give it to the master, price and quality competition permitted improvements in various arenas. As trade developed, cultural advance resulted from the incorporation of better solutions to the problems of living. (For example, when Arabic numerals came into Europe, Roman numerals were shoved out the door and relegated to copyright notices on movies.)

In situations where government grew to be too big and too greedy these advances slowed, were limited, or were put out of existence.

The conclusion is that the quality and progress of a culture are determined by the ability of governments to guarantee the stability and continuity of private property rights. Societies are healthier when government encourages earning and saving money. The government which can secure people in their ownership and possession, a government which can encourage savings, wise investment, careful spending, and efficient competition, while protecting its citizens from crime, invaders, and other destabilizing factors is the government that will be the best for all people.

Friday, August 21, 2020

A Great Walking Aid: The VIVE Rollator Upright Walker

 

I have been thinking about getting a walker ever since I took a vacation to the Virgin Islands and had to stay on ship much of the time because my back started to hurt after I stood for five or six minutes.Then  just recently I saw a magazine ad for  the Perfect Walker (also an upright walker). I quickly called and was told that the cost was $695 plus shipping and sales tax, and it wasn't covered by Medicare. So I went to the Web and found  dozens of walkers. (If you want to do your own research, technically a walker has only two wheels and must be lifted and slid to move forward.  Walkers with all four wheels are called rollators. Rollators that allow you to stand upright when you walk are labeled upright rollators..)

Walkers are as cheap as $50. I've seen one at Harbor Freight  for $69. Lowe's and Home Depot also carry them, via mail order, I  believe.  However, if you need assistance  walking and need to sit frequently,   please consider an upright rollator.

After searching around, I discovered that rollators range in prce from about $200 to $1800. I found an adjustable  rollator called the Vive, for $200. It is nice and sturdy (for up to 300 pounds), has a deep automobile shiny paint (metallic) coat, and a carry bag and cane holder..

The Vive appeared to have the most features and the price was at the low end. I thought that for $200 I wouldn't get anything spectacular, especially compared with the $1800 models, but I thought I'd give it a try. Free shipping is always a major incentive. Anyway, my Vive upright walker arrived today and I must say I am truly impressed by the quality of design, the attractiveness of the parts (the oval uprights, for example) and the strength of  the overall product. In  fact, the walker seems to be more rugged than needed (and I'm a 200 pound man). I look forward to using this rollator very often. 


Thursday, August 13, 2020

 

God Uses the Five Love Languages

Gary Chapman’s bestselling book, The Five Love Languages discusses the five distinct ways we express and prefer to have expressed love for each other. This document shows that God uses all five of these languages in his relationship with us.

Words of Affirmation

 We all have a need for encouragement, validation, and approval. Words of affirmation from God sustain us through difficult times and help us to persevere.

 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. --Jeremiah 29:11 (ESV)

 His master said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.” --Matthew 25:21 (ESV)

 Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations. . . . --Deuteronomy 7:9 (ESV)

 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. --John 3:16-17 (ESV)

 You are my friends if you do what I command you.  No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.

--John 15:14-15 (ESV)

 

Quality Time

 God is open and available 24/7/365. God never closes. Need him? He’s there for you faster than any 911 call can bring help. He will stay with you as long as you want.

 Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. --Ex 20:8 (ESV)

 And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. --Matt 6:5-8 (ESV)

 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. --Rev 3:20 (ESV)

 

Receiving Gifts

And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. --Acts 2:38 (ESV)

 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,  and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. --Romans 3:23-25 (ESV)

 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. --Romans 6:23 (ESV)

 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. --James 1:17 (ESV)

 

Acts of Service

But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. --Isaiah 53:5 (ESV)

 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. --John 15:13 (ESV)

 You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them.  It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. --Matt 20:25-28 (ESV)

 And whoever in the name of a disciple gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you, he shall not lose his reward. —Matthew 10:42 (NASB)

 On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him. --John 2:1-11 (ESV)

 

Physical Touch

A gentle, affirming touch can be one of the most powerful demonstrations of care, affection, and support. A hand on the shoulder, a pat on the back, a brief caress—all these can say, “I love you,” or “I care about your happiness and success.”

 Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” And he laid his hands on them and went away. --Matt 19:13-15 (ESV)

 Now when the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to him, and he laid his hands on every one of them and healed them. --Luke 4:40 (ESV)

 When he came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him. And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.”And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. --Matt 8:1-3 (ESV)

 And as they went out of Jericho, a great crowd followed him. And behold, there were two blind men sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was passing by, they cried out, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” The crowd rebuked them, telling them to be silent, but they cried out all the more, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” And stopping, Jesus called them and said, “What do you want me to do for you?” They said to him, “Lord, let our eyes be opened.” And Jesus in pity touched their eyes, and immediately they recovered their sight and followed him. --Matt 20:29-34 (ESV)

 

 

Compiled by Robert Harris, 8-13-2020

Monday, August 10, 2020

COVID-19 Helpful Information

 

COVID-19 Virus Information

 

This information is drawn from several sources providing generally stated good practices.

 

Q1. How can we prevent being infected by the COVID-19 virus?

A1. It appears that there are two major pathways accounting for the vast majority of virus infections of all kinds, including COVID-19.

 

Method of Infection

Preventative Strategies

1. Inhalation of Airborne Water Droplets. The virus is transmitted by riding along tiny water droplets, expelled along with the air when an infected person breathes, talks, whispers, sings, coughs, yells, laughs, or sneezes.

 

1. Both the infected person and the uninfected person should wear masks.

2. If anyone is coughing or sneezing or even laughing, leave the room if possible because those actions spew the virus everywhere.

3. If you cannot leave, stay at least 10 feet away from anyone sneezing or coughing and 6 or more feet away from everyone else.

2. Contaminated Surface to Nose. Someone with the disease wipes his nose and then touches a doorknob or shakes hands with you. Instead of washing your contaminated hand thoroughly, you rub your eyes or pick your nose.

1. Wash your hands thoroughly both BEFORE and AFTER you pick your nose. It’s awkward to discuss, which is why most other information sheets on the virus safety say, “Don’t touch your face.” The virus can get into you when you rub your eyes with an infected finger, but probably the single most common route to infection is from finger to nose.

 

Q2. Can you get the virus by touching a physical object such as a package or other mail?

A2. Becoming infected by touching a box, package, or envelope, or an item such as cash or a credit card appears to be an unlikely but possible infection route. The table below shows how long the CORVID-19 virus can live after landing on an object.

 

Item

Longevity

Recommended Practices

Glass or metal surfaces

3 days

Wipe surfaces with 70% alcohol. (No weaker than 60% and no stronger than 80%)

Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling. (Rub your hands together and through your fingers for at least 20 seconds.)

Cardboard

1 day (24 hours)

Handle all packaging carefully. Discard it in the trash when you’re finished.

Fabric

2 days

Wash the item in hot water if the fabric type allows.

 

Q3. What should I do if I have to work outside the home with other people?

A3. Follow a careful routine:

1. Keep 6 to 10 feet away from others.

2 Wear an N95 mask.

3. Wipe down office equipment (keyboard, monitor, phone, desk) before you use them.

4. Wear nitrile gloves before you touch anything that someone else has handled (paper, packages, candy jars, coffee mugs, coffee pots, creamer, printed reports).

5. If possible, install either a portable or built-in air purification system.

6. When you get home for the day, change your clothes, wash the work clothes in hot water, and take a shower before sitting down, eating, or moving around.

 

Q4. What should I do if I have to drive through heavy traffic?

A4. Good advice is:

1. Wear your mask while you drive.

2. Keep your car’s vent system set to recirculation instead of flow through.

 

Q5. Is it safe to order fast food or other restaurant food?

A5. It is reasonably safe if you follow some precautions:

1. Wear gloves and mask.

2. Phone in your order and ask for free (or paid) delivery or curbside pickup so your credit card number is read over the phone and the delivery person won’t need to touch the card.

3. Put a box (plastic or cardboard) in your trunk for the restaurant to place your food in.

4. When you get home, use gloves if possible (or wash your hands afterwards) to tear off the outer packaging (box, bags, wrappers). Throw away the outer packaging, wash your hands thoroughly and enjoy your food.

 

 

Sunday, August 09, 2020

Fun With the Fallacy of Self-Refutation

You might be familiar with my three volumes of Glimmerings, mostly short comments on whatever I want to comment. Since it is unclear whether I will ever finish a fourth volume, I have decided to post what might be of some interest. If these posts produce sales for the three volumes (1001 comments per volume), then I might just be encouraged to keep posting and publishing. 

From Glimmerings IV, #3020. Examples of Self-Refutation (aka Self-Referential Absurdity)

A statement making a universal claim must itself be consistent with the claim. If the statement conflicts with the claim, the statement refutes the claim. For example, the statement, “All sentences are four words long,” is in conflict with the claim, since the sentence is six words long. Therefore, the statement itself refutes the claim, creating a self-refutation.

Note the examples and commentary here:

1. To find truth, we must begin without any a priori assumptions.

1a. This statement itself is an a priori assumption. Who says that we must have such an assumption or lack of assumptions before we can find truth?

2. Nothing must be admitted as true without empirical verification.

2a. Since the statement cannot be verified empirically, it must not be admitted as true. Note that very few philosophical claims are subject to empirical verification: there is no experiment you can do to prove them.

3. Nothing can be known with certainty.

3a. In that case, the correctness or error, the truth or the falseness of this statement cannot be known with certainty. Therefore, it might be still possible for something to be known with certainty.

4. All truth is subjective opinion.

4a. In that case that claim is subjective opinion and is not true in any absolute or universal sense.

5. There are no absolutes.

5a. In that case that statement is not absolutely true.

6. Truth does not exist.

6a. In that case this statement is not true. Or worse, the statement cannot be explicated, because without a referent (truth), there is no way to test the correspondence of the statement with the referent.

7. Everything should be questioned and doubted until it is proved.

7a. Okay, so then we will question and doubt that the statement is true until it is proved, which is impossible.

8. Everything I say is a lie.

8a. Is that really true? If it is really true, then the statement is false. Or if you are indeed lying, then not everything you say is a lie and the statement is false.

9. I believe in nothing.

9a. Do you really believe that?

10. Words convey no meaning—only deeds convey meaning.

10a. Um, exactly what do you mean?

11. Truth is merely a social construct.

11a. So then your claim is a social construct and is not true in any absolute sense. Or maybe it’s true for you but not for me.

12. All interpretation is misinterpretation.

12a. Then there is no accurate way to interpret the meaning or cogency of this statement.

13. There is no universal meaning.

13a. Then no one can know what that statement means.

  

Whither Wisdom?

 You can amuse yourself by searching for the complaints of writers who say there is no longer any respect for literature or philosophy or standards of art, and so on. I've seen complaints from 18th Century writers, and from writers lamenting (in the 1990s) that the 60s killed art, taste, value, objectivity, and so on.

If I were to add my lament to such a long list, I would have to agree on some things that have contributed and still contribute to the swill of the zeitgeist which we call modern (or is it postmodern) culture.

The old, gray-haired men (like me) have always complained about the young's values and behaviors, focusing on these areas:

1. The young show no respect for the old. Support for the old comes from  knowledge, tradition, thought--in a word, the result of long  years of study and analysis. The young's rebuttal is that what the old know is completely outdated, inapplicable, and irrelevant. Knowledge that matters has been in existence only for five minutes, and has only three minutes of life and relevance left. "The future was  yesterday," they tell us, with a smirk.

2. The old, especially those retired from academia, shake their  heads and complain that the young cannot write their way out of a paper bag. They cannot pronounce, spell, or define the words they would need to know in order to respond to an argument of any complexity. Their sentences are 12 or 15 words long, reflecting their limited ability to engage arguments, or even to produce coherent paragraphs. The first time one of these old, crotchety university professors asked a student to read something aloud, the prof thought the student was joking. "No wonder these students cannot follow a discussion or summarize an argument," they think. "They don't even notice the logical transitions that shape the movement of the discussion. 

3. The only  examples the young can bring into consideration to support or rebut an intellectual claim are examples from their own experience or that of their close friends. Such a solipsistic view of the world reflects the lack of reading, writing, and discussion that would have opened the vistas of their understanding.

4. A little investigation reveals that these students' inability to read, write, or think comes in large part from their K-12 schooling. Teachers at the K-12 level quickly discovered that there are ways to save grading work: Require less of assignments that need the teacher's attention (less reading, less writing), and require more "team assignments," where students work together and grade each other. Unoiversity faculty have adopted similar techniques to save work. Suppose you teach a class of 30 students in an introductory to philosophy class. A class that meets twice a week might have about 30 meetings on a semester-long, Tuesday/Thursday schedule. Can you see it? 30 meetings with 30 students? Assign each student an hour-long report, spread out over t he semester, and your course is virtually complete without any more work by  you.

Old  Joke:

"What shall we get Jane for her birthday?"

"How about a book?"

"No, she already has a book."


New Joke:

"What shall we get Jane for her birthday?"

"How about a book?"

"What's a book?"


Saturday, August 08, 2020

The Genes Don't Have the Last Word: Epigenetics Comes to Town

 

From DNA to Epigenetics

 For many years, scientists thought that the discovery of the DNA double helix provided the solution to the code of life. Whatever the DNA code says, the organism does, they said. But the thought occurred to many that every cell has the same DNA in it and yet cells in different locations know that they should turn into part of a fingernail or part of a kneecap, and not part of the spinal chord.

 These considerations led to the conclusion that DNA is only an instruction book, waiting for decoding and implementation on request. But how does this work? A different set of biological systems is necessary to read and act on the instructions in the DNA library. And here we enter the realm of epigenetics.

 Epigenetics refers to the change in gene functions not relating to changes in the gene sequencing or changes in the gene itself. Dictonary.com defines it more clearly: Epigenetics is “the study of changes in organisms caused by modification of gene expression rather than alteration of the genetic code itself” (Dictionary.com). In other words, the very same unmutated gene could cause the beaks of some birds to grow shorter and thicker during one year and then the next year cause the birds to grow longer and thinner beaks.

 (I’d like to know if anyone has investigated the Galapagos finch beak changes with this in mind. Is the birds’ DNA actually changed by mutation and selection as the traditional story goes, or are the different beaks simple different expressions of exactly the same DNA, influenced by external factors, such as rain, temperature, wind conditions, and so on?)

 

Example: Epigenetics and the environmental adaptability of a plant.

 One year my brother and I put up a hot house in the back yard for growing cactus. On a whim we planted some radish seeds, all from the same packet, inside on the dirt floor and a few outside on the ground. Same seed packet, same soil. All environmental variables were held the same, except for the temperature, and humidity (in the hot house, warmer temperature and high  humidity.

 In this case, there is no argument for a mutation causing larger leaves because of a warm, humid environment or smaller leaves because of a hot, sunny, low humidity environment: When the radishes grew, the seeds planted outside the hothouse produced leaves about two inches wide by six inches long. The radish plants inside the hot house grew leaves six inches wide and fourteen inches long.  The plant evidently possesses a built-in flexibility allowing it at each germination to respond to various environmental factors. Different environment, (such as  different climate) produces a different plant, no new DNA required. The plant cannot “pre-package” an environmental response in its DNA; it can only offer the instructions necessary to produce any of a range of expressions, each readily available as an immediate response to current environmental conditions.

 

Getting from Warm, Rainy Weather to Nice Big Radishes

Let’s think about this.

 Question 1: If the epigenetic process is to work, what is necessary in order for a radish seed and plant to respond to environmental factors such as those described above, so that the seed can alter its outputs, sometimes dramatically, after only  few day’s exposure to the surrounding climate?

 1. To respond to the environment accurately, the epigenetic process must rely on a  set of inputs about its surrounding climate. This suggests the need for a set of sensors that can detect and measure

·         air temperature, night and day

·      humidity
·      soil moisture
·         soil richness (a nutrient measure)
·         soil acidity (PH)
·         sunlight intensity and duration
·         and possibly
o    soil temperature

o   soil hardness

 2. A set of transducers to convert the information gathered by the sensors into useful input signals.

 3. A processing capability that can receive the data delivered by the transducers over a period of time, and by appropriate processing, predict what the environmental factors will be during the growth and reproductive cycle of the plant.

 4. An implementation mechanism that will apply the resulting answers to turning on and off certain genes to make the plant grow according to the analytical output of the processor.

 5. At the minimum, a series of logic gates that will allow the data to be applied to the various processes working on gene activation.

 6. But logic gates still leave open the questions of 

  • What mechanism or environmental event causes each sensor to be put online and sampled (trigger event)?

·         How often are the sensors sampled?
·         What mechanism selects, channels, interprets, and applies the data and processes it into information?
·         How is this information used to control the gene expressions?

·         What is the process or event  or turning the various genes off?

One known mechanism for turning a gene on off:

·         methyltransferases attach methyl groups to cytosine bases in DNA

·         protein complexes are “recruited” to methylated DNA, where they remove acetyl groups, thereby repressing transcription

 Questions:

1. What are these implementation mechanisms and what controls them? What are the algorithms that “run” their programs? For example, what is the process or mechanism that “recruits” protein complexes?

 2. How did this “detect and adjust” system come to be constructed in the first place? And if it evolved over time, how did an accumulation of random, non-guided, non-purposeful mutations produce such a system? And how did a similar adaptability system come to be in many if not most plants?

 3. Like a computer-controlled machine, a fully complete and operational system is needed:

Sensors, transducers, data transmission, data processors, implementation mechanisms.

 The Big Questions

In many plants and animals, a range of change is possible depending on the external, environmental influences acting on the life form. Fruit flies grow an extra pair of non-functional wings, house flies develop an immunity to DDT, the beaks of finches adapt to tougher seed pods. These events are usually all explained as evidence of “microevolution,” and held up as evidence for the correctness of the grand synthesis (neo-Darwinism).

A first rebuttal to the microevolution claim has been that the changes are temporary changes in gene frequency, which  disappear when the environmental influence disappears. For example, in a state of undisturbed nature, every population of house flies has a few members that are naturally resistant to DDT. When the population is sprayed with DDT,  most of the non-resistant flies die, and the resistant flies take over and reproduce. The flies are now said to have developed a resistance to  DDT. But what happened is merely that the non-resistant flies were eliminated and the resistant ones took over. Now, such a collection of events like this might be claimed to be a powerful example of “evolution in action,” when, in fact, this change in the percentage of flies with the resistant DNA is only temporary, and when the spraying of DDT is stopped, the population soon reverts to the previous state, with only a few flies resistant. From this it is argued that a built-in flexibility in the gene allows for a limited range of variance.

(An example of this limited range of variance comes from botany. A rose grower wanted to  develop some new styles and colors of roses, so he irradiated rose seeds.  He got red roses,  yellow  roses, white roses, roses without thorns, roses with big thorns, and so on, but he never got any hibiscus plants.)

 However, the “change in gene frequency,” or the “micromutation” idea might not be the  true answer. What appear to be examples of plants and animals reflecting a newly mutated gene might be only a built-in set of gene expressions, controlled by epigenetic mechanisms.  Thee genes themselves can remain exactly as they were.

 

 

 

An Analogy

 Here is a story intended to comment on race relations. Can you see the relevance? What other areas of human interaction might this story clarify?

 O

nce upon a time, a middle-aged couple went to a distant country for a vacation. Because they enjoyed hiking, they soon collected their gear and set out for a path to the peak of a high mountain.

“The path upward to the top is difficult,” said the couple’s driver as they rode to the base of the mountain. “Many who begin it lack the inner strength to persevere, and quit before they reach the summit. But those who are truly committed and can draw on spiritual as well as physical strength are wonderfully happy at the view from the top.

“We’ve hiked some rough trails,” said the husband. “And so far we have found that partnering enables us to survive a lot of problems.”

“We each supply the other’s weaknesses with our strengths,” said his wife.

The couple checked their supplies, grabbed their backpacks, water bottles, and hiking poles, and set out. The hike was indeed strenuous, but also refreshing and uneventful, until the husband slipped on a loose stone and fell into the freezing water of the stream they were crossing. The man’s wife helped him out of the water and, seeing a large rock nearby sat him down and helped him remove his backpack. Grabbing a towel she had been using to shade her neck, she did her best to dry her husband’s face and hands.

“I’m so sorry to be such a clumsy person,” the husband said.

“Nonsense,” replied his wife. “You just slipped on a defective rock. Could happen to anyone.”

Deciding that the best way to proceed was to continue the hike and let the man’s clothing dry as they walked, the couple soon resumed their journey. Unfortunately, they had barely taken two dozen steps from the large rock when the wife brushed against a stiff branch, which sprang back against her, knocking her down.

“Are you all right?” her husband asked, in a very concerned tone.

“My arm hurts,” the woman said. “I hope it isn’t broken.”

“Well, let’s check,” said her husband. “If it’s broken, we will head back to the starting point and radio for a pickup.” The man then gently helped his wife up and examined her arm. He discovered that she had only a mild sprain.

“I’m sorry to be so careless,” she said.

“You’re the most careful person I know,” he said.

A few days later, the couple reached the top edge of the extinct volcano they had been climbing. Unfortunately, they had only a few minutes to enjoy the beautiful vista. Then they heard loud, angry screaming and yelling coming from the meadow below. As they turned their attention to the noise, they heard a woman’s voice.

“I’m not going to help you out of this pit because you’re just a man. I hate men. Men are inferior, worms, slugs, horse manure.”

“And I’m not helping you out because you’re only a woman,” a man’s voice replied, with equal derision. “And besides, you’re ugly and worthless, just taking up space.”

“And you’re stupid,” the woman retorted. “Now get out of the way so I can use this rope to climb out. Jerk.”

“Sorry, stump face. This rope is to be used by men only.”

“That’s just what I’d expect a moron to say,” sneered the woman.

“What’s going on here?” the husband of the hiker pair asked,  as the couple reached the pit where the young man and woman were trapped.

“Just what we need, another disgusting man,” the woman in the pit scoffed, glaring up at him. “I thought things couldn’t get any worse than being trapped with this sub-human bozo here, and then I saw you. Can’t you drink some poison and improve the world?”

“Help me get away from this ugly witch here,” the young man in the pit demanded. “I’ve already endured three days of her pointless, offensive, zero-IQ, meaningless rant.”

Taking pity on the frenzied, angry young people, the wife helped the woman out of the pit and the husband helped the man out. The man and the woman sneered at each other and glared with looks of hatred on their faces. The hiking couple could not help but notice this.

“Why are you two so hostile toward each other?” the wife asked.

“Because women are dumb and ugly,” the man said in a  hateful tone. “And they are always in my face.”

“Because men are weak, defective, and brutish,” the woman said, hissing. “I never want to see another man as long as I live.”

“And I never want to see another woman forever,“ the young man said, through his teeth.

Half unconsciously, the husband and wife drew close to each other. The husband put his arm around his wife, protectively. Their reflexive affection was noticed by the young people. “Ugh,” they said together.

“You’re going to make me vomit,” the young woman said to the hikers.

“You are vomit,” replied the young man, emphatically.

“How can you stand to let that creature touch you?” demanded the young woman. “Doesn’t his stench just repel and nauseate you?”

“And why would you want to get close to a putrid female?” the young man said, staring hatefully at the young woman “She might bite you and give you some horrible disease.”

“You are a horrible disease,” the young woman shot back.

The husband and wife had listened to these diatribes with some concern. But they both were also somewhat amused, finding it difficult to believe that the young people could be serious. The wife was thinking about asking them if they were practicing for a scene in a rather bad play. The husband was thinking of satire, and of the phrases, “pompous posturing,” and “extreme exaggeration.” It was with this reaction that he spoke.

“Well, you know,” he said, taking a tone of mock authority and then glancing into his wife’s eyes and smiling, “once you get to know a woman—or two, or ten, some of them are not half bad.”

The hiker’s wife gave a fake cry of offense and playfully punched her husband in the arm. Then in deadpan, she said, “You know, honey, ‘till death us do part’ might be a lot sooner than you think.”

When the young people saw that the hikers were laughing together—and even enjoying each other—they waved their hands in dismissal and stormed off in opposite directions,  screaming most of those words you wish your children didn’t have to hear.

“I guess we blew that opportunity to counsel those young folks,” said the husband.

“Yes,” agreed his wife. “But it probably wouldn’t have made any difference. People who insist on putting others in little boxes and refuse to get to know those who aren’t like them can’t help but miss out on all the things and people who would offer the fullest, happiest, life.”

And don’t forget interesting and fun,” added her husband.

“Yes,” she said. “Sharing life with someone different is what gives us the knowledge we need to understand everyone and everything—including ourselves.”

“That’s well said, sweetheart,” said the husband. “And you’re right, too.”

“Well, of course I’m right,” said the wife, in a tone of mock seriousness. “Why wouldn’t I be?”

 


Monday, December 16, 2019

Doctor to Patient Resistance to Name Diagnosis Because of ICK Factor

I've had a patch of flaky skin on and in my ears for sometime now, but only recently did this "condition" spread to my eyelids. Doctors have all kinds of names for this condition, including psoriasis, dermatitis, seborrheic dermatitis, eczema,  dandruff, and, when it gets into the eye lashes, blepharitis.

The doctor may or may not tell you that the cause of these skin and eyebrow problems is often (1) a bacterial infection--because this makes us feel unclean and germy, or (2) an infection by Demodex folliculorum, a microscopic mite that lives in the hair follicles of the eyebrow and eats dead skin. The doctor hesitates to tell  you this because you might "creep out." Instead, he or she will tell you, "I'm going to prescribe an antibiotic for your infection."

Doctors might also hesitate to tell you (early on, at least) what your symptoms point to when they point to a rather drastic diagnosis. I remember early on, when I lost my sense of smell, the doctor prescribed an MRI to see if I had a brain tumor. The result was a "No. You just must be very smart," A visit to a neurologist to determine why I couldn't button my shirts anymore, resulted in, "The speed of electrical travel on the neural  pathways of you right arm is normal."  Then, I was referred to another neurologist and on the referral were the initials "PD" under "diagnosis." This neurologist eventually said, "You have the symptoms of Parkinson's Disease, or a Parkinson's-like disease." The doctors all thought I would freak out, I assume, so no one wanted to be the first to spell it out for me.

Even some of my adult  friends will say, "Uncle Joe is in a bad way. He has CA." Maybe they fear that if they name "cancer" instead of using the code CA, they will be safe from getting it.