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home : people : opinions June 25, 2016

4/18/2013 3:01:00 PM
Casual, Cursory, Candid, 'Casual, Cursory, Candid, Cobbled Comments'
By Cecil Acuff

Below, Gentle Journal Readers may find humor, sadness, pain, gain, change, and even sexism. Read on.

EXTINCT SPECIES. Jurassic Park is science, but people can bring extinct species back to life. National Geographic reports that "De-extinction" has progressed much further and more rapidly than expected. Harvard scientists are working to bring back the passenger pigeon. Russian researchers even plan to create a wooly mammoth from found DNA, though it may take decades. Advances in cloning technology have made it possible to bring back any species for which there there is a scrap of DNA. But most of the priority should be conserving living species: habitat loss, hunting, and climate change could cause the extinction of half of all species by 2100.

EVOLUTION OF ROADKILL. In Nebraska, the number of cliff swallows killed by vehicles has declined over the past 30 years. The surprising reason: the birds have evolved shorter wings, which allows them to pivot away faster from oncoming traffic. Researchers at The University of Nebraska noticed that fewer of the birds were becoming road-kill, even though traffic was heavier. A University of Tulsa biologist says evolution is an ongoing process and human creations as roads and vehicles exert selection pressures in a way not usually thought about.

A DEMENTIA EPIDEMIC. Alzheimers and other forms of dementia are affl icting far more Americans than ever. The Alzheimer's Association shows that one of every three seniors have dementia when they die. Deaths from the disease have increased nearly 70% between 2000 and 2010. There is no way to prevent, delay, or cure the disease. Alzheimer's rates have risen because people live longer. Some 5 million Americans have the disease or related dementia. And, as baby boomers age, that figure is expected to jump to nearly 14 million by 2050.

Staggering as these numbers are, people at the national Institutes of Health say research still lags far behind the billions allocated for Aids, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Researchers say many people don't realize that Alzheimer's devastates the body, including lowering a person's ability to fi ght infection, as well as the mind. This makes the disease not just disabling, but deadly.

HEALTH SCARE OF THE WEEK. Now for the sexist part. The men's room can be a dangerous place. Over the past decade, more than 17,500 Americans, surely all men, have sought emergency treatment after trapping their genitals in the teeth of their trouser zippers. It's a leadpipe cinch they wouldn't be singing Walt Disney's song, "Zip-A-Doo-Ah, What a wonderful World," right? A researcher at the University of California says, "this is a pain issue, it can completely ruin a night." That's the under statement of the year!

Occasionally, a zipper injury require surgery. More often, the biggest risk is infection. For those who get "Zipper-Caught," the key is not to panic. The U. of C. person says there's no standard medical procedure for freeing sufferers. Current methods employ everything from mineral oil to screwdrivers to wire cutters. Perhaps males should consider their options, briefs or boxers: which would minimize "zipper-catching?"

Obviously, these are grown men, in a hurry, just as when children; too busy to go to the bathroom. They should heed Orin L. Crane's advice. "Slow me down, Lord! Ease the pounding of my heart by the quieting of my mind. Steady my hurried pace, with a vision of the eternal reach of time. Give me, amidst the confusion of my day, the calmness of the everlasting hills. Break the tension of my nerves."

And, people everywhere should, "Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience." Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1803-1882.

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