40 years of faulty wiring

A Sure-Fire Way to Lose Weight and Feel Great when You Are Way Past 20…For Real

 

Since the 1960s there has been spectacular, golden advice on how to live a healthy, gorgeous life and not put on unnecessary pounds. It’s so Einstein it staggers the mind.  Drumroll please…...eat less, exercise more.  Ta-daaaaa. That’s it. That adage is still true today. You don’t need pills. You don’t need a personal trainer (unless that’s your thing and you just like having a trainer). britwb1You don’t need to buy manuals about “secrets” to a great body that you never knew before. You don’t need celebrity-endorsed b.s. about why they look so much better than you.  It’s all crap. Seriously. Those privileged (jerks – haha) people:

  1. get liposuction
  2. get tummy tucks
  3. use fat-deteriorating injections (no kidding – Britney Spears will always do it one more time)
  4. have enemas to empty their colons (ick – Marilyn Monroe was a fan of that one),
  5. take laxatives
  6. hire chefs who cook the most nutritional yet sinfully good-tasting meals
  7. have a whole team who work on keeping them fit and beautiful. They are an industry unto themselves especially if they want to keep getting movie roles. We just cannot hold up to that. Period.

Kevin Bacon of the infamous Bacon body once told an interviewer that he has to keep his body in superlative shape (those ncx7X8vweren’t his words, she was fawning over him…so shallow…I wouldn’t of course because I would have passed out cold already), because he has to be ready at any time to take on a role. His living depends upon it. That puts things into perspective I should think. That and a sense of humour. Bacon isn’t getting any younger either. He recently celebrated his 55th birthday. On Jimmy Kimmel Live he stated quite sincerely about the birthday celebration his family had for him, “my wife spent a lot of time in the kitchen looking for the caterer’s number.”

Having said that there are a few truisms that you have to accept about your life and your body if you are going to be happy:

  1. your body is not the same at 20 as it is at 50. That’s obvious. Your system changes. Your hormones do a double-loop when you hit menopause (if you’re a female, obviously). You may have sustained long-term injuries or developed an illness you didn’t have when you were young.
  2. the amount of food you ate at 20 is probably not going to cut it when you’re 50. It does for some people. I like to ignore those people. Either that or push them over a flight of stairs.
  3. the type of exercise you engage in may change radically over the years. Or not. It’s good to have change in my opinion. It keeps boredom at bay. It’s a learning experience. It’s fun. However, there’s nothing wrong with tried and true. Whatever has seen working for you for 20 years, God love ya. Keep at it.
  4. Swimming tends to be a great option for most people. It is injury-free. You cannot hurt yourself doing aquatic exercise. It’s a fact. Go ahead and try it. But it doesn’t count if you jump off a diving board into an empty pool. That’s cheating. And stupid.
  5. regular exercise and a regular, healthy diet are essential. You aren’t 20 anymore. There are no exceptions to this unless you’re in that 10% of people who can still eat whatever you want yet not gain weight or suffer from health defects. You’re in that percentage I want to push over a flight of stairs so watch your back. And your front.

forkfulHere are a few happy positives to reflect upon when you have nothing at all better to do (including reading this blog):

  1. you are at a stage in your life where your lifestyle change and body changes can be a thing of peace and beauty. No kidding. Accept that you are in a new zone and embrace it.
  2. the media is idiotic. You have my blessing to ignore it. I do and it seems to be working for me.
  3. embracing a healthy lifestyle means you’re worth it. You are worth those hours during the week that you spend time walking, biking, running, working with that snotty personal trainer. You are worth the hours you spend preparing healthy meals and snacks. You are worth it.
  4. You’re worth it.
  5. You’re worth it. Is that one sinking in yet?

I hate the expression that a woman or a man looks good “for a person their age.” What the hell does that mean? When a person looks good, that person looks good. For any age. Don’t demean yourself or anyone else with that expression. It’s rude and is in no way a compliment. Unless it’s said in this manner “my God! Did you see that 40-year-old woman with the kick-ass body? I should be so lucky! Even now at 20!” I can live with that type of mentality. That is a perfectly complimentary perspective. I am sure you hear that sort of thing all the time because you likely respect your body and live a good lifestyle. I know this because you are reading this blog (don’t you have anything better to do?).  Am I in the best shape of my life? Ah, I am not. Do I have the best body I’ve ever had? Not at the moment. My tummy sags too much. It needs work. Overall, I have been more toned, but I am thrilled when I see the results of my self-discipline with my food choices and not spending all my time lounging around like a lady of leisure. I’m not ever going to be perfect, but parts of me are pretty damned sweet. Besides, fitness isn’t reaching a goal. It is an ongoing process. And if it isn’t ongoing then that’s when you “fall off the wagon” as they say and put the weight back on.

Heidi-Montag-Bra-SizeThis isn’t to say that a little plastic surgery is a no-no. That’s your call. Your business. I don’t judge that (and who would care if I did?). If that makes you happy and takes a little stress out of your life, so be it. Sometimes there are conditions that won’t ever be improved through diet and exercise and if they bother a person, then do something about it. Here’s an interesting example (beginning at 14:44). I’m not talking Heidi Montag. I feel sorry for that girl. She cannot make up her mind for one thing. One minute she has “10 plastic surgeries” in one day. The next day, she regrets it. She even admitted her implants “hurt so bad I wanted to rip them off.”  That isn’t self-improvement. That’s a personality disorder. Personally I thought Montag was beautiful before the surgery. That’s how she looked on the right. Not too shabby.

I will add one tidbit (pun) to the adage eat less and exercise more. Eat well along with eating less. Don’t starve yourself yet eat junk and think this is what that expression means. Nuh-uh. In fact, don’t starve yourself at all. You are not an Eating Disorder waiting to happen. Nope, nope,  nope. You have too much sense and too much self-respect. After all, you’re older now than you were at 20. You have experience. You have common sense. And you have a love and acceptance for your body and your lifestyle. No one can take that away from you. Excuse me. A woman with a God-given body just walked by. I am certain she is at least my age or older than me. I have to follow her and look for a flight of stairs….

 

 

 

 

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June 23, 2014 Posted by | Bizarre yet True, Celebrity Chic, Human Biology, Human psychology | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Nature Vs Technological Nurture

That old science debate involving ethics and knowledge applies in this case. Just because we can do something should we do something that nature would otherwise not have allowed? Example. A famous story emerged this week about Dylan Benson, his infant son Iver, and his (now deceased) wife Robyn. Dylan put it into better words than I can: Iver is healthy and is the cutest and most precious person….it will still be a bumpy ride….as he continues to grow under the care of the wonderful staff at the hospital.” Therein lies the rub.

There are two issues here: Iver is healthy, and a bumpy ride ahead. How healthy is a baby who is born 28 weeks premature? That is the babyquivalent of 4 months, or half a pregnancy. Before we had the type of technology we now have (including life support equipment for Robyn), Iver would have most certainly died with his mother. 32-year-old Robyn suffered an irreparable cerebral hemorrhage that left her brain-dead. She was 22 weeks pregnant. 6 weeks later, doctors delivered Iver at the approximate age of 5 months. It’s rather freakish if you think about it. A comatose woman who, for all intents and purposes is dead, acts as an incubator for her fetus for several weeks until doctors remove him and place him in intensive care. Nature may or may not have meant for the baby to die with his mother but it certainly made its decision about Robyn Benson.

How does daddy know the infant is healthy? Infants born even one week premature can suffer consequences although probably have few or no truly long-term problems. Those who are very premature and who have a stormy start to life often suffer serious problems. I refuse to believe that a 28-week old infant is the picture of  health and I’ll tell you why. Regarding infants born at 33 weeks or less:

  • Hypothermia is a great risk. A premature baby is less able to shiver and to maintain homeostasis.
  • Maternal death, especially in teenage mothers, is a higher risk than in babies born at term.
  • Hypoglycaemia is also a risk. There may also be hypocalcaemia. Both can cause convulsions that may produce long-term brain damage.
  • The more premature the baby, the greater the risk of respiratory distress syndrome. Steroids before delivery may reduce the risk. If the baby requires oxygen it must be monitored very carefully as the premature baby is susceptible to retrolental fibroplasia and blindness.
  • Baby-Face-IIThe premature baby is more susceptible to neonatal jaundice and to kernicterus at a lower level of bilirubin than a more mature baby.
  • They are susceptible to infection and to necrotising enteritis.
  • They are susceptible to intraventricular brain haemorrhage with serious long-term effects.
  • Severe problems such as cerebral palsy, blindness and deafness may affect as many as 10 to 15% of significantly premature babies. There is some evidence that the incidence of cerebral palsy is falling in premature babies born between 28-31 weeks
  • About half of infants born at 24-28 weeks of gestation have a disability at 5 years.
  • In the infants born later (29-32 weeks’ gestation), about a third have a disability at 5 years.
  • Over 30% had developmental co-ordination disorder (DCD) compared with 6% of classmates.
  • Far more very premature children do poorly in school than their healthier peers.
  • The preterm children were significantly more likely be overactive, easily distractible, impulsive, disorganised and lacking in persistence. They also tended to overestimate their ability.

One important thing to keep in mind: although major disabilities have been reduced, the levels of disability tested in the quoted study did not seem lower than those found in children born 10 or 20 years earlier despite improvements in care of the newborn. I will allow for the fact that stats and percentages are generalities and not entirely precise. Still, I am grateful that my own child was born term and not at 28 weeks. Had she been that premature would I have wanted doctors to keep her alive? Absolutely. This is part of the dilemma of welcoming an extremely premature infant into one’s family. The love is there long before the birth. The problems are only just beginning. 

February 11, 2014 Posted by | Bizarre yet True, Human Biology, Human psychology | 2 Comments

Terrible Tips to Tame Hunger and Tip the Scales at 100 lbs Maximum

Okay I’m not a fan of eating disorders.  I swear.  In fact I don’t have one and this isn’t admirable at all. I don’t have the guts (pun) to purge when I eat.  I hate vomiting. I like the after effect in clearing out a nauseous stomach when I’m sick, but it’s the thin skinny woman 1getting there that I loathe. I hate that heaving and hurling and I cannot stand seeing my own bile.  I don’t champion eating disorders for so many reasons, but if memory doesn’t fail, I believe I have blogged about the pitiful mental state that leads one into anorexia,  bulimia, or a host or other illnesses. Oh, about that. Bulimia rarely results in long-term weight loss. Most bulimics’ weight fluctuates. Bulimia is also about control over the body as a means of controlling the environment around you, rather than weight loss or the influence of the media.

Having said that, I came across some of the weirdest tips imaginable if you are determined to pursue bulimia nervosa as your eating disorder of choice. Naturally, I am inclined to share them with you. Listen, this blog is entitled “faulty wiring” not “politically correct.” You don’t like? Don’t read. Move on.

  1. Don’t try to throw up heavy, doughy food such as bagels, untoasted bread, pancakes, perogies, and tortillas. Avoid peanut butter, cheese, chocolate candy, dried fruit or nuts, and pastries. These are difficult to get out of the digestive tract.  All that effort for no reason.  Use your common sense would ya? Try ice cream, small, overcooked pasta, soup, frozen waffles (not pancakes), milkshakes, cereal and milk, scrambled eggs, Kraft Dinner and Hamburger Helper. Gross.
  2. Begin your purging with a marker food – something bright and colorful so you know you have puked it all out.
  3. Water – Heavy, dense foods of any sort, including meat and dried fruit, are tough to clean out of one’s digestive tract, so the ideal way to know if you’ve succeeded is to drink plenty of water. When all that’s coming out anymore is clear liquid, you know it’s all outta there. n.b.  This one is especially dangerous. Practice with caution.
  4. Watch For the Love of Nancy it worked for a ninth-grader. – blogger Jessica (happens to be my daughter’s name, but no, she isn’t my daughter)

Here’s a Jessica quote about the Nancy movie:

nancyAround me, in the semi-darkness of the classroom all of the girls watched, rapt, as she demonstrated how important it was for her to be skinny and to feel in control of her weight. When the movie showed people reacting in horror to Tracy’s thin frame we surreptitiously poked at our own stomachs and were for the first time disturbed by what we found there.

On the one hand, I can comprehend the girls’ perspectives. Nancy becomes thinner and in her mind more victorious. It’s people around her who are critical and worried about her health. When the support group counselor asks Nancy what recovery means to her she blurts, “fat!” Ouch. On the other hand, this movie was so entirely heart-wrenching and darkly disturbing, I couldn’t in the slightest comprehend the girls’ perspectives. Bulimia and anorexia are such complicated illnesses.

On with the litany of gross ways to disappear into yourself:

1.      Wear baggy clothes so no one can see how thin you are and thereby railroad your attempt at weight loss.

2.       Exercise compulsively. Go, girl (to the point of exhaustion).

3.       Avoid social activities that include food.

4.       stitchLearn tricky ways to appear as though you are eating in front of others when you aren’t: push your food around on your plate; when someone is watching, scoop food onto your fork, bring it to your mouth, then put it down again when the nosy observer is distracted.

5.        Insist you’ve just eaten and are full when people try to feed you. Always have a menu in your head to be able to rattle off
when they demand “oh yeah? What did you eat?”Make sure the menu has an appetizer, an entrée, a side dish, and a dessert.

6.        Talk a lot while pretending to eat with others. Spend a lot of time rapidly cutting up all of your food, including weird stuff like french fries and cookies.

7.        Always carry a toothbrush in your purse in case you give into temptation and eat something.

8.        Eat lightly before every purge if you can….bulimics this advice isn’t for you. The idea with bulimia is to stuff yourself to the brim and then puke. Good times. n.b. triggering: (Watch the preceding video link and mute the sound).

9.        Take it from Matthew McConaughey as he starved himself for his most recent movie role: the first two weeks of starvation are the hardest. Then it gets easier. You can’t buy memories like that.

10.      Join the cult of the Breatharians. Those whack-jobs claim they neither eat nor drink for years on end yet they live healthy, long lives. If you consider 2 weeks to be a long life, then sure. Go for it.

Alright those are some general and hopefully helpful tips as you starve or puke yourself to death.  I would be remiss if i didn’t include some of the more severe consequences of any current, designer eating disorder.

1.      KellybeforeYour dental work will cost a fortune if you are a puker.  Your tooth enamel will erode. You will develop wicked chancres too and they will hurt.  Don’t forget gum disease.

2.       Have a friend who knows CPR on hand when you vomit in case your heart stops. No kidding. You get an electrolyte imbalance in your stomach from all the vomiting. It’s been known to happen.

3.       Invest in extensions or a wig. Your hair will eventually fall out in wads.

4.       Prepare for gastric anguish. Vomiting on a regular basis is somewhat hard on the stomach lining. All organs involved in the digestion of food will be damaged by your vomit.

5.       Prepare for major heartburn in the esophagus. Same reason as number 4. Your skin may also be damaged by acid in your vomit. Your face will also bloat. Pretty.

6.       You will become anxious, irritable and in general be a bi-atch. You will lose friends. Meh. Who needs em’? Prepare to become very depressed and experience mood swings. This isn’t that fun, you know. If you’re truly into it, you will become suicidal.

7.        Your grades will drop severely. Forget about applying for that scholarship.

8.        Learn to  habitually lie, cheat and sneak. Especially with people you love.

9.        Develop a lifelong guilt complex every time you put food in your mouth.

10.     Draft a living will in the event that you die. You probably will (pun). Don’t say I didn’t warn you in my caring, sarcastic way.

If you think I am trying to guilt trip you about your ED, you are right. I am trying to guilt trip you into getting help. Now. You’re worth it.

God bless and be well.

December 11, 2013 Posted by | Bizarre yet True, Health and Wellness, Human Biology, Human psychology | , , , , | 2 Comments

Weird, Whacky, Wondrous, Wombs and Woes

Human foetusRecently Yahoo ran an article about a woman, Zahra Aboutalib , who discovered she’d been pregnant for 46 years and was carrying a calcified or stone baby. I heard about that one years ago and I pitied her. Can you imagine carrying a large stone infant for 46 years?  And I complained about 9 months. What happened to  was that she had an ectopic pregnancy, meaning the fertilized egg didn’t travel to her womb. Instead it remained inside a fallopian tube. The dead foetus was too large to be re-absorbed by the mother’s body and it becomes a foreign body to the mother’s immune system. To protect itself from possible infection the mother’s body will encase the foetus in a calciferous substance as the tissues die and dehydrate. As the calciferous wall builds up, the foetus is gradually mummified becoming a lithopedion or stone baby. A stone baby is also known as a litheopideon baby. in 1955 in a small village just outside Casablanca, 26 year old Zahra Aboutalib is pregnant with her first child. She was looking forward to giving birth, but after 48 hours of painful labour, she was rushed to the local hospital. Doctors informed her that she would need a caesarean section. On the ward Zahra saw a woman in terrible pain die in child-birth. She fled the hospital fearing she would meet the same fate if she remained. In the days that followed, Zahra continued to suffer excruciating labour pains but the baby remained resolutely in her womb. After a few more days the pains ceased and the baby stopped moving.

 In Moroccan culture, it is believed that a baby can sleep inside the mother to protect her honour. Zahra believed this myth and put the pregnancy out of her mind. She adopted three children and in due course they made her a grandmother. Many years later when Zahra was 75 years old, the pains suddenly returned. Her son being concerned for his mother’s well-being wanted her to see a specialist. For this they had to travel to Rabat where they saw Professor Taibi Ouazzani. He suspected the protruding belly was being caused by an ovarian tumour and arranged for her to have an ultra-sound scan. This revealed a large mass that he could not identify. He referred Zahra to a specialist radiographer for a second opinion. He could see it was a calcified structure of some sort, but it took a detailed MRI scan to reveal that it was the baby Zahra had conceived 46 years earlier. That’s about as honorable as any mother can get.

Not to behuang outdone, Huang Yijun, age 92, (left) was found to be pregnant for 60 years since 1948!  Her baby had also calcified after it died in her womb. Normally a baby that died in the womb would decay but this one, like   , formed a protective calcium barrier around itself and, although dead, remained intact for 6 decades.  Huang knew that she was pregnant in 1948 with a dead infant, and when doctors demanded £100 to remove it, she walked away. She said: “It was a huge sum at the time – more than the whole family earned in several years so I did nothing and ignored it.” But the secret emerged when Huang hurt her stomach and went to hospital for a scan recently. Doctors are running tests to see if the elderly woman requires surgery to remove the infant. I’m not sure what the alternative would be; perhaps a medication that could slowly dissolve it, induced labour (not smart for a 92-year-old woman) or simple leave it. I doubt the latter will happen since Huang only went to doctors since her stomach finally hurt her. Indonesian surgeons delivered a 27-year-old baby from a middle-aged housewife who had carried the dead body inside her because she was too poor to have it removed. A team of 15 doctors operated for three hours to retrieve the 1,6kg petrified baby from the 54-year-old woman, identified as Taminah, at the Sutomo general hospital in the Java island city of Surabaya.This may be a world record. The woman has carried the dead but fully developed baby inside her for 27 years,” said Dr Urip Murtejo. Clithopedionbabylearly he hasn’t heard about Huang. He said the woman was otherwise healthy but had been referred to the hospital from her home of Bojenegoro, west of Surabaya, after complaining of occasional pains in her stomach. Taminah’s baby perished before birth in 1978 after it developed outside the womb. At the time, she could not afford the surgery to extract it, Murtejo said. The woman was recovering at the hospital and was said to be in good health after the operation. The body was taken for forensic study. They meant the baby. Not the mother.

And a British woman describes her ectopic  pregnancy, in which her baby developed outside the womb –a boy  who developed in her stomach lining and was delivered two months early,  survived as one of triplets — at odds of around 60 million to one.
Sanju_BhagatAn Indian man named Sanju Bhagath, 36 years of age carried his twin brother or a parasite fetus in his belly for 36 years! Sanju was always concerned about his big stomach but went on with life assuming that’s the way it is for him. He always had discomfort and pain, people would notice him every where he went because of his big, bloated stomach.He realised something is wrong when his stomach started growing bigger. One night when he felt excruciating pain and was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance, the Doctors diagnosed a tumor and prepared for an operation, they were all in for a big shock! Basically the tumor was so big that it was pressing on his diaphragm and that made Sanju very breathless. Dr.Ajay Mehta of Tata Memorial hospital in Mumbai who operated upon Sanju said ”because of the sheer size of the tumor, it makes it difficult to operate. We anticipated a lot of problems” He also said that he can usually spot a tumor just after he begins operation but while operating on Sanju Bhagat, Dr Mehta saw something he had never expected. As he cut open Sanju’s stomach to remove the tumor a lot of fluid spilled out ….and then something very weird happened Mehta said’ ”To my surprise and horror, I could shake hands with somebody inside, It was a bit shocking for me”.One of the Doctor involved in this operation said ” I just put my hand inside and felt there are lot of bones, first one limb came out, then some part of genitalia, then some part of hair, some limbs, jaws and hair” Dr Mehta said   The team of Doctors and I was confused, horrified and amazed. It looked as if Sanju Bhagat have given birth, what was removed from his stomach was actually the mutated body of his twin brother. Sanju had suffered the most strange medical condition fetus in fetu. Fetus in fetu–: It  may be a parasitic twin fetus growing within its twin host. Very early in a pregnancy, in which both fetuses share a common placenta, one fetus wraps around and envelopes the other. The enveloped twin becomes a parasite. Its survival depends on the survival of its twin host by drawing on the host twin’s body supply.
The normal twin has to feed the enveloped twin from the nutrients received over a single umbilical cord, it usually dies before birth but in Sanju Bhagat’s case it survived! Fetus in fetu can survive as a parasite after birth in rare cases until it starts growing and pose a great threat to the life of the host twin on whom its own life depends. Sanju Bhagat said he wa300-Pound-Tumour-Worlds-Biggest-Tumor-Removed-from-a-Human-Bodys very much relieved after the operation as his pain, discomfort and inability to breathe had completely disappeared. He did not want to know or see what the Doctor had removed from his stomach as it looked ghastly! All his life he was teased that he looked pregnant and due to his abnormal belly he suffered much shame and misery. Today Sanju Bhagat leads a normal life in good health but still people tease him saying, he went for an operation and had a baby!
Aramat
A similar situation happened to a 7-year-old Indian boy. Doctors thought they were removing an extremely large cyst from the child but soon discovered the “cyst” was actually the boy’s twin. It was difficult to remove since it was covered in veins. All of these veins connected to Alamjan’s arteries. The mass didn’t look like a foetus. It was deformed and misshapen. One doctor moved the hair around and found a face beneath it. He was too frightened to examine the face further. The doctors still weren’t sure what they’d found inside the boy. The mother was very shocked and doctors scolded her that she should prevent further incidents. A very sensible thing to do since clearly this was her fault. Alamjan’s mother observed the foetus but his father refused. She was horrified and burst into tears. Alamjan recovered and looks like a handsome, healthy boy. His mother, however, has been ostracized for having infected her son with this “thing.” That will teacher her not to have anymore twins.
10-year-old Mother
Another poor little child in an unusual medical situation is that of a 10-year-old girl who became pregnant. The little Mexican girl began menstruating very early, although younger girls have been discovered to be pregnant.The girl gave birth to a 6-pound baby and is healthy. A 5-year-old girl, Lina Marina, in Peru became pregnant in the 1930s . The child was removed by C-section. Her parents then raised the child as her sibling! Okay theres weird and there’s these people. The child of Lina’s father was 42. The small village insisted that they deal with him according to their culture. He was forced to leave the village and never return. Sounds pretty lenient to me. The 10-year-old Mexican girl and Lina Marina, had precocious puberty, meaning puberty that begins at a very early age. Less than 10% of girls have precocious pregnancy. I rather think of it as a precocious pregnancy. The child is involved in a statutory rape case. The age of consent in her state is a mere 12 years old, The age of the father wasn’t revealed. At first I thought it must be an adult. “castrate him,” I said to myself. It is possible however that the father is as young as 11! Even still, it is very worrisome to think that an 11-year-old boy (or perhaps it was the girl) was driven to pursue sex at such an early age. Clearly, one or both of these children are living in highly dysfunctional homes, That’s what happens when parents allow television to raise their children for them.

A 34-year-old woman had a 300 pound tumour removed from her body in surgery. The procedure took 6 hours. She had to lie on her side since lying on her back the tumour would crush her. The poor woman holds the world record for the largest tumour inside a human body. Doctors initially thought the tumour would have to be removed in pieces, however it remained intact and was easily removed from her body in one piece. When she was wheeled out of surgery, she was on one stretcher and the tumour was on another. She was given her life back that day. I don’t know how she carried on in her life with this growth. Happily the tumour was benign. This is a Guinness record although I have the feeling the woman would rather not have achieved that stat. God bless her.

Abigail and Brittany Hensel – Two Heads are Better than One Chang-eng-bunker-PDThe Hensel twins are an extremely rare form of conjoined twins. They possess what appears to be one body, but have two different heads From the navel down, they share one body with one set of internal organs. From the navel up, they have separate organs and of course, heads.. This condition is known as  dicephalic parapagus twins. I should think this must be one of the most challenging form of conjoined twins from a social perspective. Although all conjoined twins would cause people to look twice, the Hensel girls would garner more attention than that, being a two-headed person. There must be a lot of advantages to this condition. Consider;

  1. taking academic tests – if one twin is good at math and the other isn’t, guess who will write the exam?
  2. driving a car – no need to turn your head to look left and right
  3. you can always look over your shoulder whatever position you’re in
  4. two pairs of eyes are great for editing and proofreading
  5. you’ll never walk alone

did you know there are many types of conjoined twins?  Some of these are:

  1. Thoraco-omphalopagus (28% of cases):[Two bodies fused from the upper chest to the lower chest. These twins usually share a heart, and may also share the liver or part of the digestive system
  2. Thoracopagus (18.5%): Two bodies fused from the upper thorax to lower belly. The heart is always involved in these cases.
  3. Syncephalus: One head with a single face but four ears, and two bodies.
  4. Pygopagus (Iliopagus): Two bodies joined at the pelvis.

Thankfully, these conditions are all extremely rare. Life with such deformities would never be any enjoyable experience. Mind you, this is a world made for couples and in these cases, most of the conjoined twins don’t need dates. They also get discounts for a 2 for 1 movie ticket or some such thing.

September 18, 2013 Posted by | Bizarre yet True, Human Biology | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Living on Air and a Prayer

Marilyn Monroe said it best: gravity catches up with all of us. I don’t know about you, but I’ve morphed into and out of, all manner of body types. I know your basic body shape squeezes into one of four categories:  pear, apple, hourglass, rectangle, or some such ridiculous analysis. If I had to place myself in any one category alas, it would be that of apple.  When I am fit the fat disappears and you Marilyn-marilyn-monroe-979536_1025_768wouldn’t agree…but I know better. I’ve been obese (170 lbs), underweight (100 lbs), healthy and athletic, inert yet thin, and currently in my ideal weight range, however, at the perilously high-end. I’ve got a lot of toning to do to trim that saggy apple (ick). I can blame or credit these weight and body changes on any manner of variables: diet, exercise, age, thyroid, hypoglycemia. If I’m begin truly honest with myself, I know the bottom line is self-discipline. It’s all about me and my choices. Here’s a strange revelation: when I was overweight I had no clue that I was overweight!  I truly didn’t. Even though I avoided the mirror whenever I undressed, I dressed to flatter my shape, wore polished makeup and always wore a trendy haircut. I got many compliments during this time. Perhaps fat is also an attitude.

I’m not a dieter. Weight Watchers has been very effective. Jenny Craig has not. The only difference between them is that I chose to cartoonfollow WW program and I wasn’t ready for JC. It was all about choice (JC’s food by the way is awesome…worth the money if you are going to follow the program).  I’m not a calorie counter. I don’t own a scale or a tape measure. I have a full-length mirror and a gym membership at Curves that I use faithfully. I love that place. My eating habits have improved about 80% in the past 3 weeks. However I will never be anorexic or bulimic. Stop eating? Not me. Vomit or otherwise void my food? Never. I love food. I love eating. I hate being hungry.

I am slightly baffled by people who develop eating disorders…or at least those who do so for beauty’s sake. I know a lot about this sad phenomenon. I’ve researched it, blogged about it, created a PowerPoint and uploaded it onto AuthorStream entitled 14 eating disorders and facts you never knew. I learned some unexpected issues that factor into an eating disorder:

Jasmuheen2008These are very influential factors for women with a variety of eating disorders/problems. There are lots of disorders btw:

Strange stuff, huh? Actually, considering all the many different types of eating disorders and the many different means of developing them, it’s remarkable more women and men don’t have one. An obsession with food is a key eating_disordercharacteristic of people with eating disorders. Yet these people are still in the minority of the population. Treatments are intensive yet ambiguous, since the individual’s dedication to treatment programs determines the outcome. Unfortunately, the BBC documentary Living on Air, reveals that an experiment yielded the result that force feeding, the worst thing you can do to an anorexic, became a “solution” to eating disorders.

So far as living on air is concerned, (not the documentary), there is a bizarre cult called Breatharians who actually convince themselves that they do not require food or drink, except the occasional glass of fruit juice, to survive. Nope. All they need is love. And light nutrition (pardon the pun). Not lite nutrition. They believe breatharianismthat all they need is light and spirituality to survive. Wiley Brooks, a prominent Breatharian, even insists that Breatharianism would work on a brand new infant if the mother is herself a Breatharian. In the real world, that is known as child abuse and the mother does a long-term prison sentence when her infant dies of malnourishment. Further, these flakes insist a body won’t age when people stop eating. Yes, we have the power to live forever. Jasmuheen,  a spiritual leader of this worldwide cult, insists she doesn’t eat or drink. 60 Minutes Britain put her claims to the test by holing her up inside a hotel and filming her for 5 days…she only made it to 4 days when she began to experience kidney failure. She couldn’t continue the test. She blamed 60 Minutes for placing her near a highway, where she had to spend 2 days “fighting carbon monoxide poisoning.” She insists that 6,000 people worldwide live this lifestyle successfullyShe began to experience kidney failure and fearing that her kidneys would shut down, the television program cancelled the experiment. Jasmuheen’s teachings have been linked to the deaths of 3 of her followers. Naturally, she blames the people for having another motive besides spiritualty, that of weight loss. Further, she defends herself by insisting she doesn’t advocate fasting in order to remain in the Breatharian cult. When confronted by an interviewer that her publication of books such as Living on Light promotes the fasting lifestyle, she hesitates and replies she promotes self-discipline. So much for her dietary and spiritual claims, I strongly do not recommend joining this cult.

I also strongly recommend you tell someone if you are in the grip of an eating disorder or problem (eg, pica). I recommend you start with your family or a close friend. If you aren’t receiving sympathy and assistance in finding a support group, tell your doctor, tell your EAP counsellor, or your guidance counselor at school. Don’t be embarrassed. These people have heard this sad tales umpteen times. Know that you’re not alone. Tell someone. You’re worth saving. And even though you don’t believe it just now, you truly are beautiful exactly the way you are.

July 28, 2013 Posted by | Bizarre yet True, Crime and Punishment, Health and Wellness, Human Biology, Human psychology | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Elixir of Youth? Anti-oxidants Aren’t It

The BBC documentary, Don’t Grow Old, features several scientists who offer unique and intriguing theories about the molecular processes that age us, and possible ways to prevent them. There may never actually be an elixir of youth that comes in a bottle (darn), in spite of scientists’ efforts to package and sell it. In this documentary, a number of scientists claim they have done just that. There are a plethora of theories about what causes aging and what we can do to slow it down.

Resveritrol 
David Sinclair, a Harvard Medical School professor suggests an exciting possibility in the documentary: stay slim, age much more slowly, yet don’t cut calories. Sinclair began experiments ten years ago, using yeast and yeastcellsforwinemice. Yeast is a simple organism with 6,000 genes (about a 10th of ours). Almost all of these genes exist in human being. Even more intriguing, a set of genes were discovered in yeast that increase life longevity that greatly extends the life span of yeast. Adding one extra copy of the gene greatly expanded the lifespan of yeast: about 30%.  The chemical that acted like this set of genes, along with a molecule called resveritrol, were added to a control group of people’s diets, yielding the results he hoped for: high energy and a much more youthful appearance. Sinclair sold his drug for $720 million dollars. However before we get too excited. Resveritrol hasn’t been released onto the market, yet. It is till in its developmental stage. Interestingly, people in the documentary who look much younger than their actual age don’t appear to be taking any drugs: they eat very well and stay active. Rather than the old adage, eat less and exercise more, the new mantra should be eat well and exercise more. Your love affair with food may continue unabated, so long as your menu is a good one. Hooray. Moving right along….

Anti-oxidants
Across the continent Professor Arlin Richardson experimented with anti-oxidants. He set out to prove that the 1950s theory, (not his own), oxidative stress, was a leading cause of aging and premature death. The theory suggests that a faster heart rate while at rest causes the stress, however many scientists now believe that isn’t the case. Oxygen, however, remains a central part of the oxidative stress theory. Surprisingly, after antioxidantten years of experimentation with mice, Richardson discovered that anti-oxidents, the supposed cure-all against aging, wasn’t. Another research scientist has confirmed these results. Oxidative stress doesn’t make a difference in aging. Therefore, eating and using anti-oxidents aren’t the answer to slowing down the aging process. In fact, oxidative stress is probably a cause of the environment, including pollution, rather than a lack of anti-oxidants. It’s going to take a long time for anyone to buy into that one. Don’t let cosmetics companies in on that discovery either: they earn billions of dollars annually by claiming to package anti-oxidants into their products. Regardless, food agnostic that I am, I insist on seeking out skin care products with anti-oxidants, and eating foods that nutritionists claim to have loads of the stuff.  Just in case.

Telomes
Dr. Bill Andrews
believes there is a fundamental cause of aging: telomes. Every time our cells divide, the tips of the cells, called telomes, become shorter. Eventually they become short enough that our cells no longer divide. Since we can’t produce new cells, we age. Andrews insists there is nothing we can do about telomesl however, telomerase-copyhe discovered a natural enzyme in our bodies called telomerase.  He injected the enzymes into cells and it prevented the telomes from shortening. Andrews sought a drug that would transport telomarese into our cells and prevent aging; however another company, TA Science, beat him to it, developing the product TA65. Andrews began taking TA65. TA65 is on the market for $25,000.00 a year. Seriously. Another scientist argues that telomes are responsible for aging. He worked with children with progeria, a disease that causes extremely rapid aging, and discovered a mutation in a gene called lamin A. Lamin A causes the body to produce an abnormal protein within the children’s cells. The same protein is made at very low levels in healthy individuals who don’t have the mutation. Elderly people’s cells cannot cope with lamin A, which tries to do damage. So much for TA65.

How to Be Slim
Alongside anti-aging documentaries, the BBC documentary how to be slim is another interesting perspective on healthy lifestyle and attractive bodies.  Metabolism is in every fitness aficionado’s Have vocabulary, it slim to fatseems. Yet, none of us use it correctly. In the documentary, an overweight woman named Joan, claimed she ate half of what Becky, her skinny friend, ate, yet she remained fat and her friend remained skinny. An experiment revealed that  Joan actually ate 50% more than Becky.  Mindless snacking throughout the day added significant calories to her diet. Another big surprise (for all of us), Joan burned more calories while sitting down because her body had a faster metabolism than Becky.  What? Her body had a faster metabolism than Becky. Isn’t that contrary to everything you’ve ever learned about metabolism? Aren’t slimmer people supposed to have a higher metab?  Not so. The more Joan ate, the hungrier she got, the more she cranked up her metabolism, and the hungrier she got, and the vicious cycle kept repeating itself. Joan ate Generic illustration of a boy at increasing weights.more than she needed. Period. Extra calories are stored as fat. If this is you, your weight problem isn’t due to your metabolism at all. You eat too much! And you eat unhealthy, unfriendly food. Stop that!

There are hoards of BBC documentaries about healthy eating, slim living, and contrasts between healthy and unhealthy eating. They are informative and interesting. I suggest you check them out.

July 27, 2013 Posted by | Bizarre yet True, Health and Wellness, Human Biology | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Useless Organs like Your Appendix and Gallbladder

I was pondering my useless organs the other day. I was thinking about the digestive system and how many people do not know how it works.  I’ve learned we need to chew our food a lot more than we do – almost until its mush….gross!  That’s because there are more enzymes in your mouth to break down food than in your stomach or intestines.  Chunks of food in the stomach mean your stomach has to work a lot harder than it should…hence the reason some people get the shits and have a lot of abdominal pain.  I read this interesting article once where a couple were researching the way people eat and they observed them in cafes, restaurants, wherever.  The most bizarre sight was a thin little man who packed away a Big Mac in 3 bites. No doubt that little man is eating through a colostomy bag today.

I was under the uninformed impression that there were only 2 useless organs, being the aforementioned.  However this entertaining article has identified 5:

Male Nipples: Thiblon287ls one might surprise you. Men have nipples because early on in the womb, the gender of a fetus could go either way. Every fetus starts out female and androgens play an important role in “making” the fetus male. Actually I knew this one. No, really.

The Appendix: This small pouch no longer aids in digestion, and none of the 1 in 20 people who have one removed seems to miss it. In plant-eating vertebrates, it remains part of the digestive system. However as of late, scientists believe that the appendix is not a vestigial (useless).  It may serve as a safe house where good bacteria  lies in wait until needed to repopulate the gut after a nasty case of diarrhea. Even cooler still is that appendicitis  is not due to a faulty appendix, but rather to cultural changes associated with industrialized society and improved sanitation.  Improved sanitation confused me at first but I suppose if the appendix stores bacteria that isn’t needed any longer, it is expelled from the body. Who knew?

Tailbone – mine is rather prominent and when I am doing crunches on the floor it grinds into it and creates considerable anguish (a great excuse to avoid exercise).  At one time our ancestors had tails for balance but when they stood upright, tails weren’t necessary anymore.  Eesh. In rare cases congenital defect results in a short tail-like structure present at birth today. This is known as coccygeal retroposition. Twenty-three cases of human babies born with such a structure have been reported in the medical literature since 1884.  There are no adverse health effects of such a tail, unless perhaps the child was born in the Dark Ages. In that case, the child and the mother,wisdom-tooth-cartoon-cartoonstock-com now considered witches, would’ve been killed instantly, although possibly not in Japan.  A Japanese inventor created a mechanical tail that humans wear to indicate happiness.  Seriously. He is making a kit to sell in the states. I can hardly wait.

Wisdom Teeth: Little more than a pain in the mouth for many people, wisdom teeth once served a function, but the human jaw became smaller and wisdom teeth have nowhere to grow. Not so wise, it would seem. Dental hygiene is partly to blame. Before tooth brushing, a young adult would have lost many or most of the teeth, and the incoming wisdom teeth would have been timely.  Wow.  What a great alternative.  I’ll keep brushing my teeth, thanks.

Erector Pili and Body Hair: Goose bumps aren’t just to alert you of cold; in many creatures, fear and confrontation cause muscle fibers to activate, forcing hairs to stand up and making the animal appear larger and more threatening. That has been useful to your ancestors, but they don’t do much for us now.

Gallbvomit-cartoonladder – That was my call and I was very wrong on this one. The gallbladder aids in the digestion of fatty foods. However, I am half right: people who have their galls (stop that, you) removed function normally without it.  So there.

Brain – So many people function quite well without one.  Enough said.

May 3, 2013 Posted by | Bizarre yet True, Human Biology | , , , | Leave a comment

Not all of the Plague’s Outcomes were Deadly

The Black Plague, the Bubonic Plague, or the Black Death, was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history.  Historically, it has plagued humans 3 timeBubonic_Plague-2s; we are most familiar with the Medieval Era. The Black Death is thought to have started in China or central Asia. It reached the Crimea by 1346. From there, it was carried by Oriental rat fleas living on the black rats that were regular passengers on merchant ships.  Spreading throughout the Mediterranean and Europe, the Black is estimated to have killed 30 to 60 percent of Europe’s population.All in all, the plague reduced the world population from an estimated 450 million to a number between 350 and 375 million in the 14th century. Nasty. Gives new meaning to the phrase “I see dead people.”

SYMPTOMS

Symptoms begin with bubos, which are like gross boils, appear on the body as pink bumps and turn black within a day or so. Today they can be treated with antibiotics, although these are considered to be less effective than previously (yes, this plague is still around in third world countries).   Bubos generally appear in the groin area and arm pits where lymph nodes are located. Without treatment, the bubonic plague kills about two-thirds of infected humans within 4 days. Infection from the bubos went septic, meaning it quickly worked its way into the blood stream. As the bubos darkened, gangrene set in and people were literally eaten alive.  The Italian writer Boccaccio said its victims “ate lunch with their friends and dinner with their ancestors in paradise.”

EFFECTS ON THE SOCIAL STRUCTURE OF MEDIEVAL ENGLAND
Even when the worst was over, smaller outbreaks continued, not just for years, but for centuries. The survivors lived in constant fear of the plague’s return, and the disease did not disappear until the 1600s. Medieval society never recovered from the results of the plague.  The plague, along with the King Ricard I poll tax,  even led to a major revolt across Europe. After the pestilence, many buildings, great and small, fell into ruins in every city for lack of inhabitants, likewise many villages and hamlets became desolate, not a house being left in them, all having died who dwelt there; and it was probable that many such villages would never be inhabited. In the winter following there was such a want of servants in work of all kinds, that one would scarcely believe that in times past there had been such a lack. So many people died that there were labor shortages all over Europe, leadPlague_victiming workers to demand higher wages, but landlords refused.By the end of the 1300s, peasant revolts broke out in England, France, Belgium and Italy. The Peasants’ Revolt, Wat Tyler’s Rebellion, or the Great Rising of 1381 was one of a number of popular revolts in late medieval Europe and is a major event in the history of England.  As a result, the end of serfdom, the status of peasants under feudalism, was the next major English reform.

Serfdom was a condition of slavery. Serfs occupied a plot of land and were required to work for the Lord of the Manor who owned that land, and in return were entitled to protection, justice and the right to exploit certain fields within the manor to maintain their own subsistence. Having said that, this so-called exploitation was pitiful.  The serfs were poorly fed, lived in shacks with dirt floors, and had to work the land even during harsh, cold winters. Many children and infants died during this era, since two parents had to work the land together and they often left toddlers alone to watch over their infant siblings. A peasant who was a serf worked for the Lord often until death. Should the family debt to the Lord not have been repaid, his family were now indentured and had to continue working for the Lord. There were many illegitimate children throughout the Lord’s property, since he forced himself upon women whom he felt were under his”ownership.” Talk about exploitation.

PLAGUE DOCTORS
A plague doctor was a special medical physician who saw those who had the plague. They were hired by towns that had many plague victims in times of plague epidemics. Since the city was paying their salary, they treated everyone: both the rich and the poor.They were not professionalimagesCAGTT2J2ly trained experienced physicians or surgeons, and often were second-rate doctors not able to otherwise run a successful medical business. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, some doctors wore a beak-like mask which was filled with aromatic items. The masks were designed to protect them from putrid air, which was seen as the cause of infection.Being a plague doctor was unpleasant, dangerous and difficult. Their chances of survival in times of a plague epidemic were low. ague doctors could not generally interact with the general public because of the nature of their business and the possibility of spreading the disease; they could also be subject to quarantine.Plague doctors practiced bloodletting and other remedies such as putting frogs on the buboes to “rebalance the humors” as a normal routine. Humors were believed to comprise the human body with four distinct bodily fluids. The four humors of Hippocratic medicine were black bile, yellow bile, phlegm and blood, and each corresponds to one of the traditional four temperaments. A famous plague doctor who gave medical advice about preventive measures which could be taken against the plague was Nostradamus the Seer. Nostradamus’ advice was the removal of infected corpses, getting fresh air, drinking clean water, and drinking a juice preparation of “rose hips“. Nostradamus also recommended not to bleed the patient. I wonder if Nostradamus predicted the plague. If he didn’t then that was a bit of an oversight (pun).

PLAGUE IN THE 20TH CENTURY
On March 6, 1900, a city health officer autopsied a deceased Chinese man and found organisms in the body that looked like plague. In 1894, two research physicians had simultaneously and independently identified the bacillus that causes bubonic plague. In San Francisco, political issues vblack_deathied with scientific efforts. Anti-Chinese feeling ran strong in the city then, and the first step taken was to quarantine Chinatown. The Chinese objected, and so did the business community, not to protect the rights of the Chinese, but because the knowledge that the Plague was in the state was bad for business. The quarantine was lifted but health officials ran house-to-house inspections of Chinatown. People resisted, hiding their dead and locking their doors. More plague cases were found. In April 1901, a clean-up campaign of Chinatown was undertaken, scouring almost 1,200 houses and 14,000 rooms. On February 29, 1904, a woman in the town of Concord, California, died of plague, its last victim — for a while. There had been 121 cases in San Francisco and 5 outside, with 122 deaths. North America is the world’s largest reservoir for the plague. Every year people are infected a few die from it. The early signs of plague are easily mistaken for flu or other illnesses: fever, chills, and weakness to the point of severe prostration. Plague’s ability to masquerade as flu in the early stages is particularly unfortunate, since successful treatment depends on using the appropriate antibiotics within a narrow time frame.  Our main defence against the disease is hygiene. Our modern sewage systems and Public Health organisations keep this plague to a minimum.

MYTHS SURROUNDING THE BLACK PLAGUE

The Flanostgellant Brahren and their Atonement for Sin
Bands of hooded men, wearing white robes marked front and back with a red cross, are moving to and fro across Europe, attempting to atone for the ravages of the Black Death by whipping themselves in ritual public ceremonies. The Brethren mistakenly believed the plague was a punishment for human sin, and that by scourging themselves they showed mankind’s repentance. They travel in parties of anything from 50 to 500 men, and were high ly organized. They moved from town to town to perform their rituals. Singing hymns and sobbing, the men beat themselves with scourges studded with iron spikes. Blood gushes from their many wounds, and the spikes embed themselves in the torn flesh. The ritual was performed in public twice each day.

Astrology
The movement and position of the planets, suns, moons, and anything else in orbit you can think of, was also believed to be the culprit during the Medieval Era.  Ahem.

Bad Air
Many people closed their doors and windows, burning incense, in the mistaken belief that the plague was spread by bad air.  Villages set controlled fires in the streets. I’ve breathed some bad air before but it wasn’t from the plague.

Witchcraft
Poor witches.  It always comes to that, doesn’t it?  Many people were suspected of witchcraft and this, naturally, was the cause of the plague.  Many people were tortured and put to death for “consorting with the devil.”  What a terrible time to be alive.

The Disappearing Woman
This story has circulated for decades, originating in Paris, France, around the Victorian Era.  A woman and her mother were travelling through France together and checked into a hotel.  Later that night, the mother became very ill. After the hotel manager examined the woman, he sentdisappearing-woman the woman across town to visit a doctor for a medication.  The woman left but when she arrived at the doctor’s address, she discovered his house was shut down and he was away on vacation.  She returned to the hotel to report the matter but the hotel manager was confused.  He asked her why she had gone searching for a doctor.  Bewildered, the woman reported he had sent her to the very doctor he denied knowing, in order to treat her mother’s illness. The manager stated he was unaware of the woman’s mother accompanying her into the hotel and that she had checked in alone. She insisted on returning to her room, and was brought to the same room with a different number on the door.  When she entered she discovered the room was furnished in a completely different manner; even the wallpaper was different. Only her own possessions were there and none of her mother’s luggage.  There was no sign of her mother.  The woman contacted police, who visited the hotel.  The hotel staff insisted the woman had arrived alone and they had never seen her mother.  Eventually, the poor woman returned home without her mother and never discovered what became of her.  Speculation suggests that the woman’s mother had somehow contracted the Black Plague since they had recently travelled through India.  In order to prevent pandemonium in the city, police advised hotel staff not to admit the mother had ever been in the hotel. Whether or not this actually happened has never been verified.

February 11, 2013 Posted by | Bizarre yet True, Health and Wellness, Human Biology, Human psychology | , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Feral Boy Proves Pain, Fear are a Learned Myth

I wrote about feral children in an earlier blog.  Feral children are children who have been abandoned in a natural setting, usually a forest, who somehow manage to survive without adult protection, communication with human beings, or shelter. One of the children I researched was a little boy named Victor who spent the first 12 years of his life abandoned in a woods near Averyon in France. Victor was found wandering the woods near Saint-Sernin-sur-Rance, in 1797 and was captured but he managed to escape until January 8, 1800, when he simply left the woods and returned to the village. His lack of speech, as well as his food preferences and the numerous scars on his body, indicated he had been in the wild for the majority of his life. Of course the child soon became the subject of scientific interest: a philosophy during the Enlightenment Age was of the noble savage. Some believed a person, existing in nature, would be “gentle, innocent, a lover of solitude, ignorant of evil and incapable of causing intentional harm.” watch Victor of Aveyron

Victor didn’t display human emotion, nor did he seem inclined to socialize with anyone. He was unable to bond with other human beings and he appeared oblivious to this fact. While Victor did not learn to speak language, it seems that Victor did make progress in his behavior towards other people, demonstrating familiarity and some empathy. He was also accustomed to cold and when he went outside in the snow, Victor threw off his clothes, and started playing, rolling around in the snow, and running nude. Our perception of cold and warmth is mostly based on the experiences we have and the knowledge we are taught, so it seems that Victor was used to cold weather and spent his life outside.

 Another feral child, an Irish sheep-boy was discovered in 1672. He was described as a  youth of 16 years, who was brought up amongst wild sheep in Ireland. He was (according to “civilized standards“) rude, ignorant of fear, lacking softness and very fierce. He had firm flesh, scorched skin, rigid limbs, and bleated like a sheep. He chewed grass and hay. He lived on rough mountains and in desert places, and showed a preference for caves and dens. His appearance was of a wild beast and a long time passed before the boy began to behave in a more “civilizedmanner.
Caution, sensitivity to temperature, extreme pain, a need for nurturing, all of these behaviours are learned in human society; they are not innate and are not genetically inheritedLanguage, too, is a means of communication that must be taught during a child’s development or it can never be learned.Victor, the sheep-boy and many other feral children discovered in history were living proof that some of our basic human needs are not needs. They are wants, and they are learned wants. Of course needs and wants, as well as social behaviour, are vital to an advanced and intellectual civilization, thus the morality of teaching these experiences to ourselves and to our offspring is entirely justified. The lesson in the scientific research of feral children is a valuable one: just as we teach our children consciously to react to what we believe are adverse situations to ensure our survival, there is much that we assume needs to be learned.
Possibly, many of our “common sense” behaviours are unnecessary. The key words in describing the socialization of human beings is the aforementioned us of “common sense“. Feral children are living proof that the survival skills we acquire are not all vital. Rather, they are a reflection of the common society, a shared belief in the social mores and norms that define us as civilized beings, rather than fulfilling actual needs and offering us needed protection.

September 2, 2012 Posted by | Animal Kingdom, Bizarre yet True, Education, Human Biology, Human psychology | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Love Turned on a Light…and Nurtured a Life

I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.
John 8:12

Thomas Alva Edison, Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill, Alexander Graham Bell, Leonardo da Vinci, Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, John Lennon.  All of these remarkable people who have left their mark on the world and changed the way many of us view it, had one thing in common:  dyslexia. School was a nightmare for most of these men: students bullied them, teachers called them stupid, punishments were meted out for not understanding lessons. As children, a number of these boys even believed teachers and parents who told them they were stupid and wouldn’t succeed in life.  It wasn’t a pleasant educational journey.

As a partially deaf four-year old child, Edison came home from school with a note in his pocket from his teacher, “Your Tommy is too stupid to learn, get him out of school”. His mother read the note and answered, “My Tommy is not too stupid to learn, I will teach him myself”. Her belief in her son, and patience with his academic struggles probably accounts for the genius that was Thomas Edison. Edison eventually invented the light bulb, the phonograph, andthe motion picture camera. A man with only 3 months of formal schooling, Edison became the fourth most prolific inventor in history, holding 1,093 US patents in his name. He is credited with numerous inventions that contributed to mass communication and, in particular, telecommunications, including a battery for an electric car, electrical power, recorded music and motion pictures. Perhaps he and Alexander Graham Bell should have teamed up. So much for Tommy’s public school teacher.  The teacher should have been taken out of school.

What was it in Edison’s history that led to his historical successes? Certainly, his genius although this cannot entirely account for Edison’s work. Edison himself stated“genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.”  I believe Edison’s inspiration was his mother: her love, support, and the tutoring of her son at home. Had she also believed her son was “stupid” there may never have been an electric light bulb, a phonograph, or motion picture films (or at least, not during Edison’s era). The wait might for electricity and many other of Edison’s inventions may have been much longer. The world would have been poorer without his genius.

Where the world is concerned, love turned on a light.

August 24, 2012 Posted by | Bizarre yet True, Career, Celebrity Chic, Education, Human Biology, Human psychology, Pop Culture | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment