Monday, December 10, 2007

Healing News

Early evening newscasts are painful to watch anymore, unless you enjoy holding out the remote and flipping channel-to-channel for 90 minutes, trying to glean morsels of information between the incessant ads. If you try turning the thing off when all stations are blaring ads at once, you'll find those ads still blaring, right where you left them, when you turn the thing back on five minutes later. You just missed your 60-second sound bite of News.

On to the computer, then...

But now...before lobbing any grenades at the TV, let's just look at those ads for a second. They're saying something, simply by their content. For instance, all of the dinnertime ads shout, "You are OLD, bucko. PANIC!!"

If it isn't Dr. Robert Jarvik with his d---d Lipitor (he even turned up full-page in The New Yorker last week...guy's loaded and annoying as the dickens), then it's Plavix, Vytorin or Centrum Cardio for that messed up cardiovascular system of yours. Then we've got the run of relief for bones that are disintegrating by the minute: Actonel, Boniva, even ThermaCare; and when in doubt just remember, while you crumble into rubble, that Bristol Myers-Squibb is there battling to save you 24/7.

We have AmbienCR for guilt and sleeplessness, Byetta and a host of others for the diabetes plague (if you don't have it, you'd better check to be SURE, because you probably DO have it), and Chantix for smokers who might enjoy hallucinating and shooting neighbors while they quit.

Amitiza's at your service for jammed plumbing, and PreparationH now includes cleansing wipes to be used before application, so relax, plug your nose, and enjoy. Nasal sprays and allergy meds come back-to-back in 30-second slots, so you'll never get bored with the same old sniff.

Most of all, if you've had only a routine breast exam...GET SCARED RIGHT NOW! There's a new, state-of-the-art screening that you have to have, pronto. Just look at all of those reallyreallysmart, sophisticated women in organic white flowing things, terrified not to have known! I mean, they usually know everything!

I'm old, sure...old enough to remember when drugs were taken seriously, not as fodder for The Market or even as Consumer Commodities. Your doctor didn't generally tell you something was wrong with you, unless it was. Now he's got a lot more at stake in your ill health than he once did, and the picture's changed a whole lot. So has TV, unfortunately.

Think I'll stick to Jim Lehrer and the BBC for healing, thanks anyway.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Creation vs. Evolution: Bunk

For any who missed it, NOVA's documentary last week--Judgement Day: Intelligent Design on Trial--has been reviled by Christians of many flavors for its evident bias toward Darwin's theory of evolution. (I thought that PBS was simply illustrating the reasons for Republican, Bush-appointed Judge John E. Jones III's difficult verdict, but I'm pretty gullible, that way.) Conversely, the Darwinists were furious with PBS in 2006, after it had aired a documentary on a book called The Privileged Planet, a book too supportive of Intelligent Design. The debate is both violent and ongoing, kind of like the species in question is. Poor PBS. You can't win, gentlemen.

It's quite a quandary, actually. Scientific sympathizers proselytizing that we're hairless, gentrified apes tend to be so insufferably passive-aggressive, despite the humility intrinsic to their theories. One resists an urge to punch their lights out just for the pleasure of it, from time to time. And they can be so depressing! Mercy! There are even some Darwinists on ethyl who have gone on to say that Extraterrestials aren't "extras" at all, but are actually "us" in an advanced form and dimension. They expound upon their findings in those terse, monotoned utterances that sound all sciency...

Yet those who insist that we magically appeared As Is, with the wave of a celestial wand, obviously have serious reality-check issues (not that we blame them). One yearns to coddle
the Faithful on a couch with a cozy book of Grimm's, offering comfort to those unfulfilled childhood cravings for magical, faraway wonders, where Good still glistens and Evil still looms darkly. Most of all, it has to be far away. Of course, Faithful schnozzes invite a bit of bashing too, once their eyes light up with that zealous fire of brittle, lecturn-thundering righteousness that inspires masses to commit acts both fine and--more often--unconscionable. We are an emotional species, needing sustenance and a sense of purpose. And we're often so famished that we'll ingest most anything that gratifies that hunger (and prevents us from committing suicide, as the Scientists would prefer).

Now, I realize that I am at risk of arousing not only the wrath of both constituents, but the enthusiasm of a few less-than-desirable animal-cultists as well, here. But allow me to offer an alternative to this very silly war.

I discovered it quite inadvertently the other day. It's right here, on p. 157 of Bodo W. Jaxtheimer's How to Paint and Draw (Thame
s & Hudson 1962), which has been sitting in my library ever since I plucked it from a sale table at B.Dalton's, back in 1975. Mr. Jaxtheimer is ostensibly just illustrating how to conceptualize the anatomies of various animals, of course, but the implications are entirely obvious. Only an artist could get to the bottom of things, in the end. But there it is. Our insatiable appetite for More & Bigger identifies us beyond refutation as immediate relatives of the creature that now runs around in such Lilliputian form, chastened once and forever by its glorious, gluttonous past.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Morrie Ferkel was a Genius

I know that the Science is all wrong because Morrie Ferkel said it was. Morrie Ferkel was one of the Five Geniuses who ruled over Honors Algebra the year that Kennedy was assassinated. It was a wretched class. It gave me nightmares. I was lucky to 'C' the thing. (I learned 25 years later that our Algebra teacher had 'D'd' math himself, all through college. His degree was in something else.)

But Morrie and the Five Geniuses had a leg up on everybody else. They'd been privileged to special summer courses in advanced math...therefore they ruled the roost. Morrie, whose dad was a physician, is now a successful doctor of internal medicine, himself. We had lunch together some years ago, and one tale that he told me has stuck in my craw ever since.

Morrie and his wife had two daughters in junior high, at the time. But as of fifth grade, the girls had been yanked from school by their father, and Mom had been homeschooling them ever since. The reason: The schools were teaching them math that was, in Morrie's words, "just WRONG. Its BASIS is wrong."

It was scary. It was scary because Morrie Ferkel the Math Genius is also the reverse of a rebel. If there had been any way for him to remain within the conventions of respectability without harming his daughters, Morrie Ferkel would have found it before anybody else could.

My own daughter Amy is another case in point. The child throve on the sciences in high school; and she opted to major in Anatomy once she got to college. Yet after her first year at university level, she switched to Psych. Why? Whenever I asked what was wrong with the Science program, she
would invariably retort, "Oh Momm, they're just so...atheist!" She didn't mean it in a religious sense. What she meant was that her profs and fellow science majors were about as warm and wonderful as cold spaghetti for breakfast. CLAMMY terrain for a vibrant human with red blood running through its very healthy veins.

And so the American science community lost yet another bright star because that community was too emotionally underdeveloped to support full-blown human specimens. (It was the larger community's g
ain in the end, as the little brat's degree got her a post doing what she loves most, as Director of Dance Programs for a large urban non-profit.)

There are too many bloodless little noodles steering what we call 'modern science,' folks. This is NOT a comforting prospect for the fate of Life on Earth. Therefore I shall commence today with a most excellent weblog, one whose sole purpose is to heal all persons struggling to cope with a world ruled by Wrong Science.