My World of “Ought to Be”
by Timothy Wilken, MD

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Wednesday, April 07, 2004

The Theory of the Universe ...

Terence R. Wilken writes: Jack Henry WilkenMy 3-1/2 year old grandson came up with his theory of how the world works.  He informed his mother of his findings: During the day, all the stars come together to form the sun. During the evening they all break apart and become stars again. After this announcement, all other things became less important.  It takes children to put everything in perspective. Now it is time for some of those less important issues. ... Outsourcing has become the new buzzword to upset us.  It is the practice of sending our jobs overseas.  It has been primarily occurring in the tech industry.  It began with the call centers that were used to call you at dinner time to sell you a cheap tour or vacation trip.  This type of job did not take a lot of thought, and was easy to ship to the labor markets overseas.  With the proper set up, calling on the phone did not cost much, even if the calling party was in India or Korea.  The cost of using labor overseas could save a lot of money.  It worked so well, that with the proper training, they could even move the tech support jobs to the same locations.  Suddenly, Companies that were using this practice started making higher profits.  That is when the trouble began. Outsourcing has become anathema to the talking heads on our news programs.  Even Lou Dobbs joined in the fray.  We must stop all our Companies from sending our jobs overseas.  They are just too greedy to listen to reason, or to hire American workers to do the same job.  To some, these Companies cannot even be patriotic.  Where was our President when all this was going on?  Surely someone will put a stop to this practice! (04/07/04)


The Secret of “Enough”

Thom Hartmann writes: First, the truth. If you are naked, cold, and hungry, and somehow you get shelter, clothing, and food, you will feel better. Providing for these necessities creates a qualitative change in life, and could even be said to, in some ways, produce “happiness.” You feel comfortable and safe. Your internal state-your state of mind and emotional sense of well-being-has improved as a result of these external changes in the circumstances of your body, the result of your having acquired some stuff. Let’s refer to this as the “enough point.” It represents the point where a person has security, where their life and existence is not in danger.Now, the lie or myth. “If some stuff will make you happy, then twice as much stuff will make you twice as happy, ten times as much will make you ten times as happy, and so on into infinity.” By this logic, the fabulously rich such as Prince Charles or Donald Trump or King Fahd must live in a state of perpetual bliss. “Greed is good,” the oft-repeated mantra of the Reagan era, embodied the religious or moral way of expressing this myth. More is better. He who dies with the most toys wins. Many of those Americans who lived through the Great Depression discovered in that time that “more is better” is a myth. My wife’s grandmother, now in her nineties and still living frugally but comfortably, owned a family farm during that time, and was able to provide for nearly all her family’s needs by growing her own food, burning wood, and making their clothing. Recycling wasn’t a fad to save the environment, but a necessary part of staying alive and comfortable. Now in her old age, great-grandma has enough money in investments and from the sale of the farm to live a rather extravagant lifestyle, but she still buys her two dresses each year from the Sears catalog, collects rainwater to wash her beautiful long hair, writes poetry, and finds joy in preparing her own meals from scratch. She saw the myth for what it was, and continues to be unaffected by it. Some, of course, came through the Great Depression so scarred by the experience that they went in the opposite direction and totally embraced the myth. The excesses of Howard Hughes, for example, are legendary-as is the painful reality that virtually limitless resources never bought him happiness. Similarly, the myth has become a core belief in the cultures of America, much of Europe, and most of the developing world. Advertisers encourage children and adults to acquire products they don’t need, with the implicit message that that getting, having, and using things will produce happiness. Often the advertising message of “buy this and you will be happier” is so blatant as to be startling to a person sensitized to the myth. Forget about the “enough point,” these sellers say: this product or service will be the one that finally brings you fulfillment. (04/07/04)


Being your own Doctor?

Baby is healthyBBC Health -- A woman gave birth to a healthy baby boy after performing a Caesarean on herself with a kitchen knife. It is thought to be the first known case of a self-inflicted Caesarean in which both the mother and baby survived. The unidentified 40-year-old, lived in a rural area of Mexico without electricity or running water, and eight hours from the nearest hospital. The International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics reported the case. The woman performed the operation when she could not deliver the baby naturally, having lost a previous baby due to labour complications. Dr R Valle, of the Dr Manuel Velasco Suarez Hospital in San Pablo, Mexico, said: "She took three small glasses of hard liquor and, using a kitchen knife, sliced her abdomen in three attempts and delivered a male infant that breathed immediately and cried." Before losing consciousness, the woman told one of her children to call a local nurse for help. After the nurse stitched the wound with a sewing needle and cotton thread, the mother and baby were transferred and treated by Dr Valle and his colleagues at the nearest hospital. "This case represents an unusual and extraordinary decision by a woman in labour who, unable to deliver herself spontaneously, and with no medical help or resources, decided to perform a caesarean section upon herself," he said. He added that a mother's instinct to save her child can move a woman to perform extraordinary acts but said it would not have been necessary if adequate medical care had been available. Professor James Walker, professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at St James's University Hospital, Leeds, said the situation should never arise in the UK. (04/07/04)


Red Squirrels Face Extinction

Red squirrelBBC Environment -- A group of squirrels unique to Cumbria could become extinct in the next 20 years, a leading biologist has warned. Dr Peter Lurz, of Newcastle University, has identified a unique type of the species, different from any other in Britain or the Continent. There are less than 1,000 of the rare Cumbrian reds in the Lake District. The reds should be put into a captive breeding programme to ensure their survival and a cull of grey squirrels should be considered, Dr Lurz said. The biologist said the Cumbrian red squirrel was important because more genetically diverse species were less likely to die out. Cumbria, along with the North East of England and parts of Scotland, is one of the last strongholds of the red squirrel in the UK. Research has shown reds have coped better with man-made forests, such as Northumberland's Kielder Forest, whereas greys thrive in broad-leaf woods more often found in the Lakes. Dr Lurz said: "Although we applaud the current conservation efforts to build refuges for the red squirrels, we think these may not be enough. (04/07/04)


Learning from our Cousins

Our closest animal relativeBBC Nature -- If humans behaved more like their chimp relatives they might be better at communicating, say experts. Scientists at the Zoological Society of London are looking for volunteers to "talk chimp" in their everyday work and home life to test out the theory. One part of the survey recommends waving your arms, brandishing objects and making yourself appear large, to assert authority over others. Volunteers can also bond with their group by grooming each other. Chimps are our closest living relatives and share a variety of similarities, not only in genetic make-up but also in expression and behaviour, said ZSL. Animal behaviour experts want to see how "primate patter" can resolve workplace conflicts, express emotions and strengthen human bonds. Volunteers are expected to replace their usual human reactions with chimp behaviour, and report back on how it worked. Instead of bitching about your terrifying boss behind their back, try showing them your fear by baring your teeth and using submissive body language such as lowering your head and crouching. A simple hello when greeting friends should be replaced with an extended arm and throaty "huh huh huh" pant. The research, launched on Wednesday, coincides with the opening of ZSL's new chimp facility at Whipsnade Wild Animal Park. The charity is investigating these similarities so they can to communicate better with chimps and to see what can be learned about communication between humans. (04/07/04)


Best Views Ever of Titan

Titan, EsoBBC Science -- Astronomers at the Paranal Observatory in Chile have obtained the best images yet of Titan - Saturn's major moon. They show what may be clouds in its thick and hazy atmosphere of nitrogen, methane and oily hydrocarbons. The Chandra X-ray telescope in orbit also studied Titan's atmosphere as the moon passed in front of the glowing wreckage of an exploded star. In January 2005, we may find out more when the Huygens probe attempts a splashdown onto Titan's oily oceans. Although it was imaged in some detail by the Voyager missions of the 1970s there is much about Titan we do not know. Astronomers are aware that it is one of the most significant objects in the Solar System - the second largest moon and the only one with a thick atmosphere. It has a hazy atmosphere of nitrogen, methane and hydrocarbons, testimony to a world in which complex chemistry is taking place. It may even have oceans of methane or ethane beneath its clouds. Ground-based observations are essential to ensure the success of the Huygens entry probe that will plunge into Titan's atmosphere in January 2005. Using an adaptive optics package on the 8.2-metre 'Yepun' telescope at the Paranal Observatory astronomers have obtained the most detailed images yet of its clouds. The adaptive optics package uses a flexible mirror to adjust the optics of the telescope to compensate for the distortions in the image caused by the Earth's turbulent atmosphere, thereby obtaining sharper images. The extraordinary images show a formation near the moon's south pole, apparently a cloud feature of some sort. (04/07/04)


5:53:29 AM    

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