Saturday, September 4, 2010

Saturday Summary #16


186 elderly and middle-aged chimpanzees have been living on Alamagordo AF Base in New Mexico in geodesic domes in a tropic-like habitate for about 10 years. They were retired there after years as lab subjects. Now scientist want to put them back to work in new tests for a vaccine against hepatitis C. One observer said, "These chimps have given up their freedom, their bodies, their health and their children to research." It's not unlike recalling, again and again, national guardsmen for deployment to the Middle East.

Not only in the Middle East, with it's oil fields, but all over the world the total extent of oil pipe lines is over 136,000 miles -- long enough to circle the globe 14 times. Breaks and oil spills are so common they rarely make the news.

More or less in that part of the world, in Amritsar, India a Sikh temple runs a free food kitchen that serves up to 80,000 people A DAY and often twice as many each weekend day. All the labor is volunteer. They have a roti [flat bread] maker/baker device that is 20 feet long which begins by grinding the grain and eventually spits out fresh bread; it runs almost continuously. People are served a vegetarian plate with dal [lentils] and rice

Meanwhile back in the US: On average people get 1.5 hours less sleep a night than people did a century ago. 1 in 5 people claim to have insomnia. The NIH spends $260 million a year on sleep research, while Ambien and Lucasta each spend that much on TV advertising in one season. FFI [fatal familial insomnia] is one of the rarest diseases known; it affects only 46 families in the world -- usually in their 50s the affected people begin to be unable to sleep at all. They die within a year. Lab rats which are totally sleep deprived also die very quickly. Said Dr. Wm. Dement, a retired sleep researcher, "As far as I know, the only reason we sleep that is really, really solid is that we get sleepy." As a poet said, "the world is too much with us," -- when we're awake.

Sarcopenia is a disease in which strength of muscle declines, it is comparable to osteoporosis, loss of bone mass. Both are natural processes of aging. Thus a 60 year old man has 30% less muscle strength than he had at age 30. Women's strength declines even faster, at 60 they have 50% less strength than at 30. Both osteoporosis and sarcopenia can de delayed, although not entirely avoided, through diet and exercise.

The great majority of physical and mental research on which we base our perception of what is normal [and/or possible] for human beings is done by scientists in developed countries, essentially North American and Europe, their subjects are in those same countries -- thus most of what we presume to know about the mental and physical characteristics is based on only about 30% of the people in the world. This is somewhat analogous to the now much deplored [but not entirely reversed] practice of reaching scientific and medical conclusions based only on tests involving men and not women. It follows that how we define "normal" is skewed and, in fact, arrogantly First World-centric.
And a bit about a still remembered 97 pound weakling, once named Angelo Siciliano, who made himself into Charles Atlas. At the height of his celebrity he was invited to all sorts of events, including to a birthday party for FDA at the Waldorf Astoria hotel, and a party in Paris given by Elsa Schiaparelli [at which he stripped off his shirt to show his chest]. He was on radio with Fred Allen and Eddie Cantor, on TV with Bob Hope. Among people who purchased [and presumably used] is dynamic-tension body building program were Joe Dimaggio, Rocky Marciano, King George VI of England and Mohandas Gandhi! More recently the system has been endorsed by Arnold Schwartzenegger. The system which originally, in the '40s, sold for $29.95 has avoided inflationary pricing and today costs all of $49.95. Also, apparently, he was a really nice guy, a family man who lived a straight-arrow life, if he suffered sacropenia, it wasn't evident. Sometimes I like to end on a positive note.

2 comments:

FOLKWAYS NOTEBOOK said...

June -- Lots of good subjects to munch on in this post. The chimps should not be brought into the vaccine program. I am totally against animal testing -- rather barbaric I feel. -- barbara

June Calender said...

I agree about the chimps, they've been abused and deserve gentle treatment the rest of their lives.