Genes

The Genetics of Race

The Genetics of Race 

Life on earth is a mysterious miracle. Fundamentalist Christian Creationists would like you to believe that God somehow played a hand in it. However, the origins of life are probably quite a bit more complicated possibly only the result of a series of giant accidental organic chemistry experiments that played themselves out on Earth over a period of billions of years.

Some of those more miraculous experiments were the organization of molecules into cells, the appearance of DNA, the ability of cells to grow and reproduce, accompanied by the appearance of aerobic metabolism.

Miraculous: yes. Driven by a supreme being who resembles a snow white haired old Protestant dressed in a flowing white robe: probably not.

Additionally, life itself would be nothing if not for the organized molecules that allow for procreation of a species by conjugal complementary reproduction; the genes.

Whatever the case may be, all living Animals and Plants are categorized by a taxonomy system that logically organizes them into groups and then ultimately labels them by Latin nomenclature.

Life: Domain: Kingdom: Phylum: Class: Order: Family: Genus: Species.

Individual animals as we know them have both Latin names as designated by their genus and species as well as by common names that are given to them by language vernaculars.

For example, the Horse is designated by the Latin: Equus caballus, ergo the Spanish term for cowboy being one who rides one: Caballero.

Although closely related, the far less intelligent Donkey is a separate species that is designated by the Latin Equus asinus, ergo the vernacular terminology designating a person who behaves stupidly as being an ass or as being asinine.

Members of the same species can successfully mate and reproduce, whereas members of different species cannot, with certain rare exceptions.

Bears (Genus: Ursus), which are commonly referred to as polar (white), brown (grizzly) and black are three separate species; respectively martimus, arctos, and americanus; none of which can interbreed one with the other. Nor do they have any desire to do so.

Interestingly, the Horse and the Donkey are closely enough related at both the genetic and the pheromone levels, interbreeding can actually occur, but within certain genetic proscriptions.

A male donkey, attracted by both the sight and smell, can mate with a female horse resulting in a hybrid offspring designated in the Latin as: Equus mulus, otherwise commonly known as the Mule. In fact, the Latin word for hybrid, the scientific designation for the offspring of two different species, is “mulus.”

However, because a Horse has 64 chromosomes and a Donkey has 63 chromosomes, the price to pay for this breeding is the fact a Mule being a sterile male with very little sex drive.

There is an upside to this procreation in that the mule is less distractible or irascible than a horse, which makes for a better pack animal; but with downside being that he cannot successfully mate another mule.

A serial rapist would be just as equanimous and far less dangerous if he too had his balls cut off. Most of them already seem to being lacking a sanity gene anyway.

Chromosomes happen to enjoy traveling in paired numbers and if not, then the result of breeding may either be a nonevent or an aberration.

In the extremely rare case of the above offspring between a male donkey and a Mare being a female, we then do not have a Mule, but rather a Molly.

Breeding between a male Horse and a female Donkey is rarely if ever successful and if so results in a hybrid known as a Hinny. Even rarer yet is the successful breeding between a male Horse and a Molly.

Confused?

In general, different species do not even attempt interbreeding and have no genetic programming that even allows for it to happen. At this level, animals are smart enough to know that if something simply does not smell right, or even if it did, would probably not go right, so they don’t even attempt it.

Maybe a “horse’s ass” then is nothing better than a deserving sobriquet applied to anyone attempting the impossible in a situation in which he should know better than to even try. And although a male dog humping on a human leg would equally apply as being completely asinine; it does support the fact that there is always an exception to most rules. This must discount bestiality; which is categorized as only being a sexual perversion.

As for these humans with far out sexual proclivities, and who rationally ignore both pheromones as well as biology as for example a woman who enjoys having sex with a horse, at least she has no need not worry about conception; although the mythological Satyr may be some ancient Greek’s imaginative rendition of what that genetically impossible offspring might indeed resemble. Unfortunately for me, this oddity then became attached to my sun sign, Sagittarius.

Then again, the human species may be the only one other than a sheep itself; in which a man might try to mount a sheep, while the domesticated male dog is often known to randomly attempt to mate with human legs.

The Latin scientific terminology designates all human beings as: Homo sapiens. Race is a scientific term applied to a finer tuning of species that only means that subspecies exist within a larger context. However, it is at this very level of sub-categorization where all the trouble begins. As a side bar, since Homo sapiens literally means “Wise man,” perhaps the subspecies should be expanded to include Homo stultus or “Stupid man.”

When speaking of genetics, it is useful to review a few technical definitions. Chromosomes carry all our genetic material in the form of DNA. All cells in any given species have identical chromosomes and the identical number of chromosomes; which occur in pairs. For human beings, the number of chromosomes is twenty-three pairs.

When mating occurs, each parent contributes half the complement of chromosomes in the germ cells, meaning each egg and each sperm cell carries only half of the twenty-three chromosomal alleles. Gender is determined by unique sex chromosomes originating in the sperm cells, such that a sperm cell can carry either a female X chromosome or a male Y chromosome.

All eggs are X, such that if an X sperm combines with the X egg the result is a girl XX and if a Y sperm combines with the X egg, the result is a boy XY.

Chromosomes contain DNA, the material that codes for protein production in the cell and that thus directs all genetic development of the individual person.

DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid) molecules are long helical double strands of organized molecules that consist of sugars and amino acids.

Each binary pair of necleo-peptides is known as a gene base pair.

dna

Every person’s DNA makeup is unique, which is why criminologists can do a molecular fingerprint on an individual accused of leaving some DNA behind at the scene of the crime, by subsequently matching it to that person.A gene is a hereditary unit of a sequence of DNA base pairs that can be of varying lengths along the DNA strand, although not all DNA sequences are active as genes.

gene

For example, human beings have 3 billion DNA base pairs, but only 30,000 genes, meaning that much of the genetic material does not actually express itself. This also means that individual genes can code for the synthesis of the several hundred thousand protein messengers that make up all our intrinsic biology.

Many hereditary diseases or for example, a predisposition for an individual to develop cancer, is rooted at the level of individual variations or defects in certain genes.

Stem cell research focuses on the ability to manipulate individual genes to eliminate these defects, or to supply an afflicted person with some otherwise missing ingredients.

Familial inbreeding or long term inbreeding of certain small clusters of species can often result in genetic catastrophes, because certain genetic defects tend to become unmasked if two closely related individuals both carry the same defect. Cystic fibrosis and hemophilia might qualify as examples.

This is also why having chromosomes lining up as pairs, with one originating from each parent, minimizes the risk of this happening in general. It is analogous to two genetic heads being better than one and may explain in part the beneficial advantage of the evolution of binary sex in the first place.

It would be a very dull world indeed if we could all reproduce ourselves agamously like budding yeast; although I have met a few individuals who are so egocentrically narcissistic, they would not at all mind being alone on this planet, or with a group of personal identical clones to serve as being their best and closest friends.

This would make for fabulous and stimulating dinner conversations:

  • Don’t you agree?
  • Yes, of course. You know I always agree with us.

Or with that ability to self reproduce we would then have a planet filled with only Adams and only Eves; or worse yet a planet filled only with XXYYs:

Not man. Not woman. But rather something in between, perhaps akin to that transgender entity, otherwise come to be known as: The Chick-With-A-Dick.

Ergo, proscriptions against consanguineous marriage, were not something made up by a bunch of ancient human moralists, but rather came about as the result of generations of empirical observations as to the disastrous outcomes of people breeding with their first-degree relatives. This is also from whence we come by those jokes about Hillbilly mating and the only good reason my Aunt Jean did not want me to become romantically involved with my cousin Beverly.

We already had enough idiots in our family.

Perhaps then Moses should have added a thirteenth Commandment:

  • Thou shalt not marry thy sister’s sister.

If someone had pointed this one out to some of the debauched, consanguineously oriented Roman Emperors,  enough familial dementia may have been prevented to save an entire empire.

However, this principle applies to all species, and provides the rationale explaining why there is rightfully so much concern about shrinking, limited gene pools existing for currently endangered animal species. The result of the contracted gene pool is too much inbreeding and subsequently too many genetically deficient and/or non-viable offspring.

In reference to humans, we are designated Genus: Homo. Species: sapiens

The human species also evolved along three or possibly four racial lines that for purposes of stupidly simplistic clarity can be called by the colors white, red, yellow and brown. For you purists out there Anthropologists designate us as Caucasian, Asian or Mongoloid, Negroid or Black and Australoid.

The essential point of the argument, however is that because we are all in the same species, we can and do successfully interbreed with each other, whatever personal bias one might have against mixed race marriage.

The human gene pool happens to be racially insensitive, is not biased and is thus why we generically tend to refer to all humans on the planet as being part of the “Human Race.”

At the genetic level, all human beings differ from one another by a total of 0.1% of their total DNA make up, meaning by only a total of 30 genes out of 3 billion DNA base pairs and 23,000 coding gene sequences. This variation expresses itself in minor racial differences such as skin color, epicanthic eye folds, hair color and texture, eye color and all the very few other superficial differences that ultimately lead us as racial subgroups to single these things out for targeted hatred.

We are all 99.9% purely the same.

Better than Ivory soap.

But it is that 0.1% which makes us a little different, one from the next, that is sadly, the only thing accounting for 100% of all cultural, religious,  and racial hatreds.

ivory-soap

If you hate a person you hate something in him that is a part of yourself.

What isn’t a part of ourselves does not disturb us.

(Hermann Hesse)

Ivory Soap http://www.pomexport.com
 Gene base pair and DNA gene sequence: Wikipedia
Human genome: Wikipedia
 

 

 

 

Darwinism and Human Legacy

Darwinism and Human Legacy

One of the great scientific debates of the last century had to do with the influence of genetics versus environment on shaping an individual’s characteristics. However, the debate has died down, as both proponents are correct on some level. This means that while genetics are set in stone, your legacy has a great deal to do with how you eventually turn out and how you happen to view the world. This was the big deck of legacy that stacked itself up against my gene pool.

On the Italian side:

We were Northern Papist Catholics who were blessed with:

  • A grandmother who made ravioli every year at Christmas in a black mourning dress.
  • A dominating matronly aunt of mediocre intelligence, who appointed herself the ‘head of the family’ and who always seemed to know what was best for everyone else.
  • A meek docile milquetoast aunt, married to the original wife abuser, who sold records for Columbia Corporation for a living, gambled his wages in the stock market, and had a Big Band as a sideline hobby.
  • An uncle, who married an Irish girl, then fled to another state so he would not have to face the family’s wrath, then worked in the chemical warfare division at the Pentagon making weapons of mass destruction.
  • Various functional or dysfunctional paisano Uncles by marriage, and their functional or dysfunctional offspring cousins.
  • And a father who became a dentist after he quit Forrest Ranger School.

On the Texan side we were Southern Baptists; crypto-Sephardic Jews who were blessed with:

  • A chain-smoking farmer turned grease monkey grandfather who blissfully ignored his harpy wife.
  • A disinherited obese grandmother, who decapitated chickens; constantly overate, and who always seemed to know what was best for everyone else.
  • A redneck Uncle, who riveted at the Navy yard, inhaled asbestos then as sideline jobs rode the rodeo and raised breeding bulls.
  • A redneck alcoholic Uncle who owned a bar in Dallas, knew jack Ruby, and commuted regularly to gamble his profits in Las Vegas casinos.
  • A gaggle of tee-totaling perfectionist, bigoted aunts who took all their cues from mamma.
  • A second Great-grandfather who killed two Highwaymen with a Colt .45 and a Great grandfather who was killed in a duel over water rights.
  • Various functional or dysfunctional redneck Aunts and Uncles by marriage and their functional or dysfunctional offspring cousins.
  • And a mother who was an LPN, when my dentist father found her on an Army base at Fort Bliss, Texas where they were both stationed during World War II.

The Way to  Woman’s Heart

My mother said that my father was leaned up against an army barrack porch, while she was standing on a step above him. He reached up backwards and grabbed her leg.

She screamed.

He told her:

  • Calm down. I just wanted to see if it was wooden.

That was their first date.

Merging their genes may have been closer to the top of the priority list. But somehow after that, I have a funny feeling they were not thinking too much about legacies or  Charles Darwin.

 

 

Mom and Dad Texas

Mom and Dad: Her right leg is the wooden one  

We must, however, acknowledge, as it seems to me, that man with all his noble qualities still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin: A hairy quadruped furnished with a tail and pointed ears, probably arboreal in its habits.

(Charles Darwin)

Part 1: Youth

 

Wednesday’s Child

 

Memoirs and Philosophy of a Contemporary American Physician

A Para-Biography

mayan

Copyright © 6/28/2009

Minor revisions through 1/14

Cover illustration: The Mayan Goddess Ix Chel

A talking god with many responsibilities: The patroness of medicine, healing, health, magic, weaving, creativity, sexuality, childbirth and water

Para- (prefix): A prefix with many meanings, including: alongside of, beside, near, resembling, beyond, apart from, or abnormal.

 This memoir is dedicated:

To every person whose influence has made a significant difference in my life and in doing so has subsequently changed it either for better or for worse.

I also stand in awe of the great poets, authors and songwriters whose lines or lyrics so succinctly summarize the tragic-comical human condition.

Finally then, I admire anyone else who advocates for: world peace, the brotherhood of man, the right of plants and animals to co-exist with humans. If nothing else I hold great esteem for individuals who are dedicated to preserving the beauty of nature for our children to enjoy in such a way that it may also permanently exist in every succeeding child’s future.

  

Precious Memories

As I travel down life’s pathway

Know not what the years may hold

As I ponder, hopes grow fonder

Precious memories flood my soul

Precious memories

How they linger

How they ever flood my soul

In the stillness, of the midnight

Precious memories sacred scenes unfold

Precious father, loving mother

Glide across the lonely years

And old home scenes from my childhood

In fond memories appears

Precious memories

How they linger

How they ever flood my soul

In the stillness, of the midnight

Precious memories sacred scenes unfold

(Protestant Hymn)

Introduction 

I decided to write a book.

It has been stated that one should only write about subjects of firsthand personal knowledge. Because I am a physician, at one point I struggled with an attempt to write a medical forensics mystery, or perhaps a brilliant Michael Crichton style science fiction story.

However, like visual slapstick comedy, most of it has already been done before and cannot be improved upon, other than to add modern graphics or special effects. After all, how many spy novels or forensics tales can one’s intellect really absorb before a completely stultifying ennui sets in and turns rational thought or imagination into solid concrete?

Because I had a good income, I became lazy about writing anything at all. Then at the age of 78, my mother developed Alzheimer’s disease. This unfortunate illness is one that takes away the mind while leaving muscle function intact. I also happened to have an uncle who died of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), a disease that ironically leaves the mind intact while it insidiously destroys skeletal muscle function.

At the end, when he was virtually unable to move his arms, his legs, his lungs or his tongue, and not against his will to live, but certainly because of his better judgment, he no longer believed the effort to be worth it, refused to be artificially ventilated, and then finally suffocated. I do not know if either method of death may be more or less desirable than the other, except to say that each is very slow, painfully lingering and very sad. But at least in the case of Alzheimer’s, the saving grace is that the victim has no conscious appreciation of his or her impending mortality.

Because of these scenarios and many others that played themselves out in one form or another during my professional career, the thought suddenly occurred that perhaps I could one day die in such condition, or any other incapacitating condition for that matter. As such before I took my final breath I might either be without any intact memories, or even worse, without the ability to even write them down or verbalize them if they were still embedded in my mind.

This venture then became a simple endeavor to remember. To remember anything I could about myself, but especially in the context of the universally tragic-comical and often extremely frail human condition.

It became a labor not necessarily of love, and was certainly not intended to be a literary work of art; but was intended only to be an attempt at putting a single human life on paper.

I call it a Para-biography because I use my own life only as an anchoring point of reference to the more general perspectives of learning, growing, living, and embracing life for all those sometimes beautiful, comical, or tragic things that it is or can become.

It is also a story purposefully intended to criticize parochial dogma or tautology and to ask people who read it to think a bit alternatively yet not completely “out of the box.” Equally important is a hope that people may rethink their ingrained social, political or religious opinions or bias. As such it is both realistic while at the same time inductively reasoned, intentionally irreverent, and purposefully iconoclastic. On that note, I also employ an unconventional system of utilizing quotes.

Hopefully, if nothing else, it might persuade some individuals to realize that there is nothing wrong or really painful about the cultivating an ability to laugh at oneself.

One day, when I went to the nursing home for a visit with my mother, only to realize that she had finally lost her mind, I became inspired to write this journal, then to highlight its vignettes with any one of the numerous illustrative lyrics or poetic lines that always seem to somehow crowd my thoughts, help me tune out stress, and as a result always seem to get me through the most difficult days.

In seeing my mother slowly gravitate to a progressively idiotic, irrevocably vegetative state, I suddenly realized that my own worst possible fate would be an inability to remember anything at all; or in my uncle’s case that the second worst possibility would be an inability to assist my own suicide.

Being a physician, it is certainly easy enough to hide enough Valium or Vicodin in a small death stash; but that kind of proactive planning fails if one cannot remember where the pills are, or is not facile enough to actually put them in your mouth and swallow them down all at once.

If nothing else, whether anyone who reads this work may happen to like it or not, perhaps my brother, my sister, my wife or my closer personal friends may at least find it to be somehow perversely amusing and hopefully at least, somewhat entertaining.

Here are my memories.  That is to say, they are to the best of my recollection.

 

If you lose your money,

Pray god you don’t lose your mind.

If you lose your money,

Pray god you don’t lose your mind.

And if you lose your woman,

Please don’t mess with mine

(Outside Woman Blues: Cream)

 

 

Youth is a blunder; Manhood a struggle; Old Age a regret

(Disraeli)

Part One: Youth

Wednesday’s Child

I was born in 1947, on a Wednesday at 8 a.m., the first of two siblings to follow. It was three days before the shortest day of the year, and eight days before Christmas. One of the worst blizzards of the year and possibly the worst blizzard of then recent memory occurred nine days after I was born; on Boxing Day.

For some reason, just after the storm, my mother took me outside for a photo shoot swaddled in blankets. Hopefully it was because the sun had finally come out to shed both light and warmth on the rotogravure.

I am convinced that these quasi-horoscope factors had an immediate as well as an indelible effect on shaping my persona; somewhat like a bad tattoo; or one that looks good when it goes on, but passively fades, wrinkles or becomes completely passé as time goes by.

For example: I have first child syndrome; the one expected to be the best, to seek perfection to bear the burden of both parent’s vicarious goals and expectations; all of which becomes an oxymoron at best. This also includes being the one to bear the burden of testing the parent’s boundaries, then softening up their rigid standards for those siblings who come behind.

I hate the Northern hemisphere’s frigid winter weather, yet paradoxically  love cold fresh air. Being stuck in the Northern latitudes after summer forces me to flee, hide or sometimes to even hibernate, both emotionally as well as physically. It makes me wish I could spend every wintry day in the balmy South, or perhaps the Caribbean.

It is because of this incurable addiction to fresh air that I crack a bedroom window open on winter nights,  then poke my head out of the covers to sniff the air like a long eared dog with its head hanging out the window of a speeding car. Squinting and happily drooling into the face of an artificial wind.

Conversely, because even on the hottest days of the year I seem to need the security of sleeping under heavy quilted blankets, I will turn a floor fan toward my face to generate a constant breeze, a habit that has the secondary benefit of preventing being parboiled in an artificially manufactured swaddling bed.

Then in order to maximize the time spent outside, I will tend to wake up with the sunrise only to then crumple into bed with the waning light of a setting sun.

Thus, I deplore the fact of the Earth being tilted 23 degrees on its axis, which produces the tiny wobble that dooms the planet to seasonal changes and is the root cause that makes those winter days consist of only dawn and dusk.

Enjoying excessive sleep during those winter months, I sometimes feel as though I should just nod off in November, then wake up in March like a fat salmon gorged  grizzly bear who crawls into a cave somewhere; then blissfully skips over the entire miserably dark, cold season. Sleeping; dreaming; snoring and shedding weight.

When THEY, whoever they are, set the clocks back an hour on October 31, I begin a countdown calendar that slurries its way to December 21, at which point I celebrate the winter solstice with numerous shots of Vodka, rejoicing in the fact that each new day will subsequently be a minute longer than the last. I call this period the D-Days: “50 Days of Desolate Doom.”

This frigid gloom leaves little to do but drink enough alcohol to quash the misery of waiting for the sun to re-ascend its summer arc, and often makes me imagine how an angst ridden elder Stonehenge Druid might feel as year after year he harbors a seasonal pathetic fallacy steeped in the dread that perhaps during the very next dreary winter the sun may arbitrarily or capriciously decide not to return at all. Not like me, however, this ancient soul probably said prayers or offered sacrifices to that effect; unless he might have only punted on the pleas to his gods and defaulted instead to the spirits in a handy bottle of mead to ward off his bone chilled fears.

This is but one reason I have come to believe that Daylight Savings Time should be permanent; a bias based on a paranoid conviction that Eastern Standard Time may be a political conspiracy intended to foster public apathy by imposing planetary darkness on both ends of the day.

Is tinkering with time a calculated plan designed to promote large scale SAD; Seasonal Affect Disorder? Who knows, except for the fact that mob psychology, having been anesthetized by perpetual darkness and an excessive reliance on the counterbalancing effects of booze or Prozac, is not likely to inspire any activist to summon the energy needed to rail against a King, a Dictator, the Congress or a President.

Some pundits postulate the rationale behind rearranging time is more simplistic, only being done so that school age children will not have to go to classes in the dark; or that farmers will have more daylight in the morning. For farming it doesn’t really matter, because time is only relative. The sun comes up and the farmer goes to work. When the sun goes down, he goes inside to eat. The farmer doesn’t have a clue as to what time it might be.

As for children; either start school an hour later or simply outfit the kids with little spot-light Coal Miner’s helmets to guide them on their daily scholastic treks to their big yellow buses.  After all, they are not the ones required to go to real jobs or to invariably end up needing anti-depressant medications to get them through the SAD season. Or better yet; simply shift the worlds’ time zones one notch to the left.

Another way to look at it is the paradox of “saving” extra daylight in the summer evening, when days are already at their longest only to take it back and make it worse in the winter when days are significantly shorter. At the Equator, day and night are equal; no matter the time; while at the poles days or night are 24 hours long; depending on the season. December in Nome Alaska is “daylight nothing time.” The point is that the sun doesn’t have a clue as to what time it is, either. The rest of us however, are slaves to sundials.

Although I have often been accused of having a cold affect, or worse cold blooded, aloof sang-froid, partially related to being a winter baby; this is only in reality a hardened well-practiced defensive shell that protects an otherwise warm and somewhat residually optimistic heart. Despite this, even though I tell myself to try harder, I somehow cannot help being introspective, cautiously realistic, and at times morose or decidedly sarcastic.

This is not equivalent to being misanthropic as rather I simply do not believe that any one person can universally be everyone else’s best friend; an ambition that would require far too much emotional output with predictably far too little return on the investment. Politicians skirt this issue with their usual disingenuous promises; making their constituents believe they really care; when in fact they only care about themselves. The worst kind of friend: the hypocrite who loves everyone.

Most people in fact tend to put themselves first, being interested only in how much they can get, while at the same time furtively planning or deviously calculating how little they then have to give back in return.

To put it another way, the world is divided into two camps: the Givers and the Takers, with the ratio clearly favoring the Takers. This is why there are so few anointed Saints, why the proof of Sainthood remains so elusively difficult, and becomes a conundrum of bedrock conniptions for pundits in the Vatican when they discuss a potential nominee’s relative merits on the living balance sheet of “naughty and nice.”

  • Well you know he really was a Saint in every way.
  • Yes, except for his hypocrisies, philandering, and occasional crass deceptions; along with the fact that as yet we have no definitive proof of his actual existence.
  • True. But even if he never lived, the very idea of him is completely divine.

When I enrolled in grammar school I was the runt of the litter. Anyone who was born in January was already a year older than I was, biologically making the other boys bigger and stronger. I am also a Sagittarian born on the cusp of Capricorn, which I suspect has literally and intrinsically made me half-man, half-assed, perpetually somewhat confused, and incurably inquisitive.

At some ill-defined point in time I became a “Minimalist.” This philosophy suggests that during his lifetime a person should undertake just enough in the way of tasks, jobs, activities, projects or relationships that will permit devoting enough time to doing all of them reasonably well. Minimalism does not imply nor does it condone the seventh deadly sin of Sloth. It also does not apply to the likes of professional athletes or Astrophysicists, who usually do only one thing to a maximally perfect degree; with gifts probably bestowed in their DNA.

In not holding any unrealistic expectations of any body or of any thing I therefore never risk much in the way of being disappointed. This was learned the hard way early in life as I became accustomed to having my “Birthday-Christmas” present combined into one gift and given at some arbitrary elusively defined point during that December week.

Even that does not bother me now as much as it did in my youth because I finally corrected the problem by celebrating my very-merry-half-un-birthday on June 17th, which has left me owning or possessing just about everything I need and sometimes even two or three of each. Drawers, closets and shelves full of reduplicated nonessential crap.

In fact, the best “Birthday-Christmas” present I ever received from my parents was a monolithic bottle of Vodka, which served me well in getting through the dreary mandatory personal responsibilities and social obligations attached to the so called “season to be jolly.”

After all, Jesus too, received his birthday presents on Christmas; yet always managed to somehow find a way to turn the other cheek in the face of any potential personal insult or slight. And, as everyone knows, except possibly for holy rolling Baptists, he never turned down a good glass of vintage Roman wine.

In finally paying for that state of grace however he was tortured and killed, a fate I eschew for obvious reasons, and therefore reminding me to always maintain the small remnant of a mean streak that will ensure my continued survival.

Sometimes this can result in the desired outcome, if after having been tested to the limit by some niggling personality, the pestilent adversary can be put off not by turning away but instead by facing him squarely and then revealing the contralateral “mean-streak-cheek;” otherwise known as, “Please just get the fuck away from me.”

Unfortunately for the Catholic Church, whose tautology was shoved down my youthful throat, I was born a natural scientist and as such never became very religious.  In never being able to buy into nor to comprehend the mystiques, veils, rituals, and hocus-pocus of organized religion, I eventually came to believe that everything we know, as well as that everything we do not know, is explainable by the physical and scientific laws of the Universe.

Perhaps I choose to call this my God. Also perhaps, as a trained scientist, I do not entirely discount the possibilities of miracles; but rather choose to look at that concept in the viewpoint of many so-called miracles simply being one of nature’s accidental and occasionally benevolent events. What some people fail to realize, however is that most of nature’s malevolent and destructive events are also miracles, too.

This does not mean there is no role for religion in our society. However, empirical observation has led me to the conclusion that most religions have so distanced themselves from, or have so obscured their original tenets, that they consistently seem to cause more harm than good when it comes to promoting world peace and brotherly love. Instead, they consistently leave in their wake; veils of tears, trails of death, torture, witch hunts, wars, destruction, misery, poverty, contention, bias, despair, greed, egotistical power mongering and at least a recent two thousand year legacy of failing to deliver on their promises.

In general, I believe that people waste a great portion of their lives pursuing both the wrong tangible as well as the intangible goals. These can include work, wealth, materialism, power or getting ahead, all usually occurring at the expense of pursuing good interpersonal relationships, friendships, healthy habits, and emotionally satisfying, fulfilling leisure time or recreational activity.

Most people also expend a great deal of emotional energy and anxiety over things that have not yet happened or what in fact may never happen, often trying too much to control what simply cannot ever be controlled. This is otherwise known as the personally incapacitating syndrome of ‘Nonspecific Angst.’ One inspirational speaker succinctly posited this in a different way by suggesting that; “Worry is interest paid in advance on a debt that never comes due.”

It is also my belief that mankind is hopelessly out of balance, harmony and synchrony with nature; that the world is uncontrollably overpopulated, and that as mankind in unrelenting zeal destroys the natural resources and habitats of the planet he lives upon; he also slowly and irrevocably destroys himself. The spread of humankind on this planet is like the scourge of marauding army ants in the jungle or locusts blighting a cornfield.

Everything occurs in cycles and everything is relative.

In some distant future, mankind will be little more than a pencil point footnote to the great saga that the Universe continuously, irrevocably and randomly writes for itself every single day as it chaotically and unpredictably expands itself into yet an even larger, even greater uncharted unknowable void.

Our Universe is a system we have only just begun to comprehend, but is also a system with an agenda entirely of its own; an agenda that is racing itself to an end-game that we shall never even remotely witness nor shall we ever remotely be able to control.

The universe is between 11 and 20 billion years old.

The earth is approximately 4.5 billion years old.

 Man has been on earth for a few hundred thousand years

The life of a single man is about 7 decades.

This life is a fractional blink of an eye on the scale of cosmic time.

This life is a uniquely precious gift.

In fact, all life is unique, precious and miraculous although “life” itself may only be a natural phenomenon resulting from nothing more than a quirky cosmic experiment of colliding, massed up molecules consolidated, clumped, and hiding inside a semi-permeable membrane; that for some unknown reason; decided at some point in time to begin reproducing itself.

John Lennon once said that:

  • Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.

A man who is lying on his deathbed should never have to look back and come to the sad realization that his own life was merely what happened to him while he was preoccupied with making plans for the future, worrying about everything that was beyond his control, desperately trying to get ahead of everybody else; or worst of all in that process only destroying his physical, family, emotional or occupational environments.

#1

Outside Grandma’s house after the Blizzard of December, 1947

Monday’s child is fair of face

Tuesday’s child is full of grace

Wednesday’s child is full of woe

Thursday’s child has far to go

Friday’s child is loving and giving

Saturday’s child works hard for a living

But Sunday’s child is fair and wise, and good and gay.

(Nursery Rhyme)

saggataruius

Perpetual woe may be a dicey karma at best, but compared to the one assigned to Sunday’s child; at least for now I think I’ll just stand pat.

Sagittarius © Rich Bichfield: Divine Astrology@ home.online.no/~stebi/startpag.htm