Banner
    Vive La Différence?
    By Robert H Olley | September 28th 2013 11:04 AM | 18 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Robert H

    Until recently, I worked in the Polymer Physics Group of the Physics Department at the University of Reading.

    I would describe myself

    ...

    View Robert H's Profile
    Since I retired three years ago, I have been becoming almost as sessile as a sea squirt, sitting in front of my computer, reading not just news but comment and what people are thinking about things.  Among the ‘things’, women’s equality is very much to the front these days.

    Reading not just comment articles, but the comments to these, one gets the impression that a section of the population, making capital out of their own ignorance, are digging themselves ever deeper into the belief that oppression of women started among the Hebrews.  A modicum of knowledge of the civilizations of Eurasia, past and present, should be enough to show that is not the case.  But being a very modern man, I would like to share some of my ramblings on the subject of: “whither women’s equality?”  (Not “whether”, as first typed — see first comment.)

    Recently, in the Hindustan Times (Kolkata), there appeared an article featuring interviews with women lawyers.  Although each lawyer had her own priorities
    on the issue of women’s oppression, these women are mostly unanimous. “I don’t believe that oppression against women is something that has just started happening. It’s always been there, continues to remain and will probably be there in the future as well,” says another.
    Biologically there may well be a basis for that lawyer’s pessimism.  Near the end of 2001, I was watching a programme following a troupe of baboons whose environment had been struck by drought.  The two most dominant males had taken control of the one remaining water hole, and barred it to all others.  A female, desperate to obtain water for her baby, had sneaked in and got some water.  At this, the lead male flew into a rage, and stamped up and down destroying all access to water.  (At the end, only 6 of about 45 baboons remained, not including those two males, and the survivors dispersed to other troupes.)  Were are not the same species, but I could nevertheless only draw comparison with some present day societies.

    Fortunately, the outlook for females is not totally bleak: Girl Power In The Animal Kingdom: Females Can ‘Choose’ The Sex Of Offspring says another article.

    Back, though, to Homo self-styled sapiens.  At present India is very much focused on a case of a gang rape and murder.  Quoting from a recent article:
    The victim, a 23-year-old physiotherapy student, was attacked by five men and a juvenile on a bus they boarded on their way home from watching Life of Pi at a popular Delhi shopping mall on December 16th last year.

    She was abused by the men for being out at night with a boy, and then gang-raped and attacked with an iron rod. She died two weeks later in hospital.
    Four of the accused have been sentenced to death.  However, the defence lawyer for two of the convicts said:
    If my daughter was having premarital sex and moving around at night with her boyfriend, I would have burned her alive. I would not let this situation happen. All parents should adopt such an attitude.
    Besides the cruelty and ferocity of such a statement, there is one even deeper matter, an iniquity indeed, looking its etymology, from a Latin word meaning “unequalness, unevenness, injustice”,  from in- “not” + aequus “just, equal” .  What about the men?  As a young-ish man in the 1970s, I was already aware of the double standard, especially as it applied in societies which retained some semblance of morality. 

    And maybe it is among our Hebrew friends that the first recorded inklings of equality for women appeared.  For instance:
    “If a man is found lying with the wife of another man, both of them shall die, the man who lay with the woman, and the woman. So you shall purge the evil from Israel.” (Deuteronomy 22:22)
    Guys (in the traditional sense) — this applies to you also.

    But there are some pretty grim-looking things in the Old Testament.  One of the best known is the curse on Eve in Genesis 3:
    “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing
          in pain you shall bring forth children.
    Your desire shall be to* your husband,
          and he shall rule over you.”

    *this could be translated as “for” or “against”!
    But what were our Hebrew friends thinking?  What emerges to me is that they regarded male oppression as a curse, just as much as the pains of childbirth.  For example, what is one to make of the following
    she was normal for young British womanhood in precisely the same sense. Her dialectic between abject submission to a violent, jealous man on the one hand, and utter drunken sluttishness on the other, is characteristic of hundreds, if not thousands, of young women whom I have seen as patients over the years, and whose behaviour is to be witnessed in every British town and city at weekends.
     . . . . .
    Their girlfriends, of course, will have been [like her.  They] do not break with their criminal boyfriends because they are appalled by what they have done, or by the vileness of the acts they have committed, but because their men are absent in prison for prolonged periods, and they receive what they think are better offers elsewhere, usually from men of precisely the same type.
    (link to article)

    It is not only male criminals who seem to exert this power.  Some artists are notorious for their treatment of their women.  This is raised in this article about an exhibition of the work of Frida Kahlo, the Mexican painter.  It starts:
    There are many good reasons for not wanting to see an exhibition of Frida Kahlo’s work.
    Now I am not totally in agreement with this: I quite like her work.  But the article does make some interesting points about feminism, namely that Frida Kahlo herself would make an inappropriate feminist icon, seeing as how she went along with so much abuse from her painter husband Diego Rivera.

    And for another male artist who exerted such a hold, try Modigliani and His Models at the Royal Academy.  Upon his death, his mistress, eight months pregnant, jumped to her death from a window.

    So, there are many pitfalls in relations between the sexes, and because of this many people who think they are thinkers want to change everything.  As a retired prison doctor writes:
    The fact that some traditional two-parent families are joyless places is no reason to damn the institution wholesale - yet that is what much of bien-pensant opinion seeks to do.

    And some people seem to want to go further, and abolish sex (although not copulation) by removing the distinction between men and women altogether.  The Hebrews, as one might expect, were quite strong on the distinction:
    “A woman shall not wear a man’s garment, nor shall a man put on a woman’s cloak, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord your God.”  Deuteronomy 22:5
    though again note, what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

    Now these days we do realize, starting from the late 19th century, that not all people are constituted the same.  Not only are there those grouped together as LGBT, but there are those who are naturally camp.  Even so, should sexual difference be written out of our culture?  Last night on X-Factor USA, a young lady sang (and very nicely) the song The House of the Rising Sun.  According to the linked article, by changing the words, one can sing from either the male or the female point of view.  The best known version, from The Animals, is from the male point of view, and it was these words that the young lady sang.  This hit me with massive cognitive dissonance.

    So what would you like me to say?  Am I to deduce, that since from America has come the habit of using “guys” to refer, not only to mixed company, but even to groups of girls, that America is becoming sexless?

    But I always like to end on a cheerful note, so here’s a comment, last night, from Simon Cowell to five singers:  “I think you’d be a very good group — if none of you were in it”  But one second thoughts, not so cheerful.  Witty, certainly, but ...

    Comments

    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    But being a very modern man, I would like to share some of my ramblings on the subject of: “whether women’s equality?”
    'Whether women's equality' what Robert? A society that ensures equal rights and opportunities for everyone, regardless of sex, age, religion or race is all that I ask for. Why do you use the word whether?
    “I don’t believe that oppression against women is something that has just started happening. It’s always been there, continues to remain and will probably be there in the future as well,” says another
    Biologically there may well be a basis for that lawyer’s pessimism...A female, desperate to obtain water for her baby, had sneaked in and got some water.  At this, the lead male flew into a rage, and stamped up and down destroying all access to water.  
    (At the end, only 6 of about 45 baboons remained, not including those two males, and the survivors dispersed to other troupes.)  Were are not the same species, but I could nevertheless only draw comparison with some present day societies.


    Are you simply trying to point out that because a male baboon is physically stronger and more aggressive than a female baboon, we can then draw comparisons with human males that are also usually physically stronger and more aggressive than human females and therefore we should all be pessimistic about a future global society ever being able to provide equal rights and opportunities for everyone, including women? 

    Or are you saying that this baboon example is pessimistic for humans because some of the male humans who currently hold the majority of the power in the world, might well be just as stupid as these male baboons, that also held the majority of power and then subsequently ruined access to the important resources needed for life for everyone, including themselves? 

    You almost seem to be trying to confirm this pessimistic viewpoint by then giving evidence that as the Hebrews pointed out 'male oppression is a curse, just as much as the pains of childbirth' and giving further proof of the inevitable male domination and inequality of females in your examples of many male criminals and artists dominating their women and the women accepting and suffering that domination. No wonder Frida always looked so miserable in her portraits! She has a moustache but no power or ability to stop a bullying male partner!


    Are you also saying that the fight for female equality is hopeless? Does 'Vive la Difference' in your title mean that because inequality between the sexes currently exists physically, financially, religiously and psychologically with humans and baboons then the status quo should be encouraged to remain and that the future pursuit of a more equal society through legislation to provide equal opportunities and rights for everyone should be discouraged?
    My latest forum article 'Australian Researchers Discover Potential Blue Green Algae Cause & Treatment of Motor Neuron Disease (MND)&(ALS)' Parkinsons's and Alzheimer's can be found at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    rholley
    Excellent, Helen!

    First thing — you’ve picked up a spelling mistake!  I meant whither women’s equality.

    I will think carefully about the rest of the points in your comment, but it may take a day or so.

    (Dunce cap in the Victorian schoolroom at the Museum of Lincolnshire Life, Lincoln)




    Robert H. Olley / Quondam Physics Department / University of Reading / England
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    Ha ha Robert, 'whether women's equality' and 'whither  women's equality' have hugely different implications and all just caused by accidentally changing one letter in a typo! That dunce cap you posted is also a good example of the powerful effect that just one letter 'D' can have! 
    A dunce cap is typically made of paper and often marked with a D or the word "dunce", and given to schoolchildren to wear as punishment by public humiliation for misbehavior and, as the name implies, stupidity. Frequently the 'dunce' was made to stand in the corner, facing the wall as a result of some bad behavior (see time out for a similar method without the humiliation aspect). Depending on the teacher, they might have to stand for as long as half an hour. Examples of behavior which could warrant the dunce cap included throwing spitballs, passing notes, or pulling of hair. Class clowns were frequently admonished with the dunce cap.
    Although seemingly (and possibly initially) intended to punish the student with the lowest academic performance in the class (the "dunce"), such a use could hardly have been very successful, as pure punishment is incapable of increasing intelligence. It is likely it was used far more successfully to rein in rebellious or disrespectful students and unite the class against misbehavior by making an example of the offender and forcing them to endure the collective scorn of their classmates for a set period of time. Since no one wanted to be labeled the "dunce" in the class social hierarchy, even for only a short period of time, it served as an effective deterrent to acting out. 
    I'm glad we don't have a Science20 dunce cap that we could be made wear, or that could be substituted for our avatars! Anyway Robert, I'll look forward to reading your replies to my points after you have thought carefully about them, there's certainly no rush :D
    My latest forum article 'Australian Researchers Discover Potential Blue Green Algae Cause & Treatment of Motor Neuron Disease (MND)&(ALS)' Parkinsons's and Alzheimer's can be found at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    rholley
    (... Continued from above)

    For myself, I think the U.S. Declaration of Independence is quite a good jumping off point:
    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men (including women) are created equal,”

    Regarding the implied pessimism:

    Are you simply trying to point out that because a male baboon is physically stronger and more aggressive than a female baboon, we can then draw comparisons with human males that are also usually physically stronger and more aggressive than human females and therefore we should all be pessimistic about a future global society ever being able to provide equal rights and opportunities for everyone, including women? 

    It seems that you regard a global society as an ideal thing.  In the following snippet of Chesterton, you can take it as simply referring to the teleology (in the sense of the desired end) of each religion.  For the purposes of argument, it does no harm if you regard them in practice as being like the three main political parties in the UK, each one worse than the next. [1]
    It is obvious that there is a great deal of difference between being international and being cosmopolitan. All good men are international. Nearly all bad men are cosmopolitan. If we are to be international we must be national. And it is largely because those who call themselves the friends of peace have not dwelt sufficiently on this distinction that they do not impress the bulk of any of the nations to which they belong. International peace means a peace between nations, not a peace after the destruction of nations, like the Buddhist peace after the destruction of personality. The golden age of the good European is like the heaven of the Christian: it is a place where people will love each other; not like the heaven of the Hindu, a place where they will be each other.
    [1] If you think that sounds Irish, for one thing, I am from Belfast, and for another, consider the descending queue in this picture by Maurits Escher.

    Click the link below for a larger version

    http://uploads8.wikipaintings.org/images/m-c-escher/ascending-descending.jpg!HD.jpg


     * * * * * * * * *
    Or are you saying that this baboon example is pessimistic for humans because some of the male humans who currently hold the majority of the power in the world, might well be just as stupid as these male baboons, that also held the majority of power and then subsequently ruined access to the important resources needed for life for everyone, including themselves?

    If only they were AS stupid as the baboons.  In practice they are far more cunning than you or me or the smartest Chimpanzee (put in that order for the rhyme!)  Alas, when they get Utopian ideas, they can be even more destructive than the smartest super-ape.
    * * * * * * * * *

    You almost seem to be trying to confirm this pessimistic viewpoint by then giving evidence that as the Hebrews pointed out 'male oppression is a curse, just as much as the pains of childbirth' and giving further proof of the inevitable male domination and inequality of females in your examples of many male criminals and artists dominating their women and the women accepting and suffering that domination. No wonder Frida always looked so miserable in her portraits! She has a moustache but no power or ability to stop a bullying male partner!

    My impression is that the philosophers of the civilizations surrounding the Hebrews never (or hardly ever) challenged the status quo regarding slavery or the lack of status of women.  I am, though, open to correction here.  But the Hebrews seemed to, albeit in a very limited way, be moving away from that.  Even so, there were lots of reverses.  As the song goes
    Oh Solomon, he had a thousand wives …
    Regarding the artists, our intelligentsia seem much less indignant about their behaving that way than if they had been members of the establishment.
    * * * * * * * * *

    Are you also saying that the fight for female equality is hopeless? Does 'Vive la Difference' in your title mean that because inequality between the sexes currently exists physically, financially, religiously and psychologically with humans and baboons then the status quo should be encouraged to remain and that the future pursuit of a more equal society through legislation to provide equal opportunities and rights for everyone should be discouraged?

    Vive la Différence?
    — There is a question mark at the end!  And certainly I do not mean that one should put up with what has been endured for millennia.  But for the sake of equality, should one seek to ‘process out’ the differences between women and men altogether?  Are Eros and Venus to be exiled to the mountains of New Zealand, hanging around in the hope of getting a part in a possible sequel to the Lord of the Rings?

     

     

     

    Link on amazon.com


    Robert H. Olley / Quondam Physics Department / University of Reading / England
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    It seems that you regard a global society as an ideal thing.  In the following snippet of Chesterton, you can take it as simply referring to the teleology (in the sense of the desired end) of each religion.  For the purposes of argument, it does no harm if you regard them in practice as being like the three main political parties in the UK, each one worse than the next [1]. 
    No Robert, ideal or not, in case you hadn't noticed we live in a global society? A very unequal global society with thousands of factions often fighting against each other, regardless of 'whether' they be religious, political, philosophical, racial, sexual or financially warring factions, they are all living on the same planet destined to share that one planet's global fate together or 'whither' that may be.
    [1] If you think that sounds Irish, for one thing, I am from Belfast, and for another, consider the descending queue in this picture by Maurits Escher.
    It is obvious that there is a great deal of difference between being international and being cosmopolitan. All good men are international. Nearly all bad men are cosmopolitan. If we are to be international we must be national. And it is largely because those who call themselves the friends of peace have not dwelt sufficiently on this distinction that they do not impress the bulk of any of the nations to which they belong. International peace means a peace between nations, not a peace after the destruction of nations, like the Buddhist peace after the destruction of personality. The golden age of the good European is like the heaven of the Christian: it is a place where people will love each other; not like the heaven of the Hindu, a place where they will be each other.
    OK, so the most you can envisage is a national society, a British national society and yet you are Irish! I am sure that there are plenty of Irish people that would disagree with you on that! And that is the problem as I see it. We are all part of one global society and we can't see it. Ireland is part of Britain but many Irish can't see that. Northern and Southern Ireland are both part of one island called Ireland but not all Irish can see that and so on. Blinkered mentalities refusing to face their reality. You say that the best we can hope for in that scenario where everyone saw themselves as belonging to only a nation would be International peace. Oh well that sounds like a good starting point, better than what we have now.

    Just out of interest are Hindus allowed into the heaven of the Christians? If not then that also wouldn't be very fair or equal would it? Unless you imagine that every religion has its own heaven? Would that mean that every religion also has its own God or Gods and are some male and some female? If so would those Gods have equality? Whether God's equality and then whither God's equality? 

    At the end of the day there is no such thing as true equality, probably every atom is different in some way to the next one but what we can strive for is equal opportunity for everyone, regardless of sex, age, money, politics, religion, culture and race.  That requires legislation to create societies that supports this concept of equal opportunity for all. Legislation brings its own problems but that is also part and parcel of the global society that we live in and the problems it must overcome, unless we want to be just like the pathetic baboons at the water hole. 
    some of the male humans who currently hold the majority of the power in the world, might well be just as stupid as these male baboons, that also held the majority of power and then subsequently ruined access to the important resources needed for life for everyone, including themselves? 

    If only they were AS stupid as the baboons.  In practice they are far more cunning than you or me or the smartest Chimpanzee (put in that order for the rhyme!)  Alas, when they get Utopian ideas, they can be even more destructive than the smartest super-ape.
    Really Robert? Can you give some examples of world leaders with Utopian ideas that can be even more destructive than the smartest ape please? I don't understand why you included this male baboon destroying the water supply, themselves, their females and their own offspring analogy and thought it was relevant somehow to discussing 'whither women's equality'?
    Vive la Différence? — There is a question mark at the end!  And certainly I do not mean that one should put up with what has been endured for millennia.  But for the sake of equality, should one seek to ‘process out’ the differences between women and men altogether?  Are Eros and Venus to be exiled to the mountains of New Zealand, hanging around in the hope of getting a part in a possible sequel to the Lord of the Rings?
    Who is trying to process out the differences between women and men altogether? I certainly don't want to. They will always be unequal because they are different. That can never be changed and who would want to? I don't want a male appendage and I doubt if you want female appendages, why would we unless we were transexuals? Not all men are equal either, some are weak, some are strong, some are educated more than others or are more intelligent or richer. 

    'Wither women's equality?' All that many women want now and in the future is equal opportunity to global resources that can be shared for everyone's benefit, just as the female baboons probably wanted equal access to the water. I don't even want positive discrimination and never have, I think that just makes matters worse for everyone. If there were equal opportunities then the right people would gravitate towards the best positions for them that would best utilize their skills in our global society. That would be very good in my opinion.

    My latest forum article 'Australian Researchers Discover Potential Blue Green Algae Cause & Treatment of Motor Neuron Disease (MND)&(ALS)' Parkinsons's and Alzheimer's can be found at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    rholley
    Helen,

    A lot of the questions you have asked are bothering me.  But the one that stands out is:

    Just out of interest are Hindus allowed into the heaven of the Christians? If not then that also wouldn't be very fair or equal would it? Unless you imagine that every religion has its own heaven? Would that mean that every religion also has its own God or Gods and are some male and some female? If so would those Gods have equality? Whether God's equality and then whither God's equality? 

    I don’t even know where to begin with a question like that.  But one thing that came into my mind is that Jesus seems never to have answered speculative questions directly.  The one that stands out to me, and the way he dealt with it, is this:
    Someone asked him, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?”  He said to them, “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to.” (Luke 13:23–24)
    For myself, I feel somewhat gridlocked, so I’ll leave it there.
    Robert H. Olley / Quondam Physics Department / University of Reading / England
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    Just out of interest are Hindus allowed into the heaven of the Christians? If not then that also wouldn't be very fair or equal would it? Unless you imagine that every religion has its own heaven? Would that mean that every religion also has its own God or Gods and are some male and some female? If so would those Gods have equality? Whether God's equality and then whither God's equality? 
    I don’t even know where to begin with a question like that.  But one thing that came into my mind is that Jesus seems never to have answered speculative questions directly.  The one that stands out to me, and the way he dealt with it, is this:
    Robert, I once had a few dreams about Jesus, they all happened in the space of about a week. It was when I was at school and studying religious knowledge and the scriptures quite intensively just prior to getting confirmed. I was about 12 or 13 years old. 

    In my dreams Jesus was also quite obtuse and never answered any of my speculative questions directly. In my second dream I can remember I was walking along a beautiful sandy beach, as I do every day here in Byron Bay. Suddenly Jesus called out my name and I turned to look behind me on the beach but no one was there. Then he called again and I turned and saw him standing out on the ocean, bobbing up and down on the waves. He said 'come out here and walk with me' and I replied 'I can't walk on water Jesus' then he said 'yes you can just have faith in me'. So I walked out across the water and bobbed around precariously on the waves next to him for a while, it was great fun then we went for a walk to a nearby island that looked just like Julian Rocks which is a few kilometers off the beach here at Byron Bay and a popular snorkeling place for tourists!

     

    Maybe that dream was symbolic of my life at the time, I was very religious and about to get confirmed as proof of my faith in Jesus, which I did shortly afterwards. Then I was a server in church every week at holy communion for a couple of years. I enjoyed all the pomp and ceremony as I wore a long white veil and fetched and then poured the wine over the vicar's fingers into the Holy Chalice, while the vicar blessed the now holy wine as being the blood of Christ for the holy communion and then he blessed the bread and it became the flesh of Christ.



    Then one day I was at school listening to the Head Mistress ranting and raving about how when some culprit who had written something pretty harmless on the toilet walls was found, she would be punished and then expelled from the school and she was asking us all to dob her in. 

    The previous week a 14 year old girl had also been unceremoniously expelled from school in shame for getting pregnant. The Head Mistress then loudly lead the whole school through the Lord's Prayer, as we all mumbled along with her, as usual. The hypocricy was stunning! The next week I realized I had lost my faith and I told the vicar I couldn't continue to be a server in church any more. He told me he fully understood and that he had also lost his faith but don't tell anyone! That was a long time ago, hopefully he found it again and he won't mind me sharing this story here so many years later. I still have very fond memories of my Jesus dreams though, he was a very special man with amazing powers and a beautiful message that is often overlooked and forgotten even by supposedly religious people :)
    My latest forum article 'Australian Researchers Discover Potential Blue Green Algae Cause & Treatment of Motor Neuron Disease (MND)&(ALS)' Parkinsons's and Alzheimer's can be found at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    rholley
    Helen,

    That’s a lot of thoughts, and my brain is not nearly so nimble as yours.  Also, I am expecting friends later today, so it may be two or three days before I can answer your questions.

    In the meantime, though, here are some autumn flowers, a Michaelmas Daisy on the left and Sedum spectabile on the right.  Both very much bee flowers, and the Sedum especially a butterfly attractor.  (The picture screen display is scaled to 30%, if you would like to open it.)

    Robert H. Olley / Quondam Physics Department / University of Reading / England
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    Thanks for the flowers and there's no rush at all Robert, this is a nice and leisurely discussion :) 
    You said in your article 'since I retired three years ago, I have been becoming almost as sessile as a sea squirt, sitting in front of my computer, reading not just news but comment and what people are thinking about things.'  so hopefully you will now be very active with your friends. 
     


    I love your description, especially as sometimes I find sea squirts washed up on the beach where I walk with my dogs most days in Byron Bay, shown in the beautiful dawn picture above. They must have also had a night out on the town, actually storms and rough waves rip them away from their blogging I think. I usually throw them back into the ocean but that probably just prolongs their agony, poor things. I think they are one of the oldest forms of life aren't they? Must research them one day and take some photos.

    Unfortunately I don't often get to the beach in time to witness these beautiful dawns, as I too have sea squirt-like sessile tendencies  and I am putting on weight because of it and that's VERY SERIOUS! Never mind whither equality (sorry feminists), more importantly for me now its whither weight? Anyway, I look forward to your reply one day busy bee Robert :)
    My latest forum article 'Australian Researchers Discover Potential Blue Green Algae Cause & Treatment of Motor Neuron Disease (MND)&(ALS)' Parkinsons's and Alzheimer's can be found at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    rholley
    Helen,

    I never thought I would have to watch my diet, since I’ve never been able to put  on weight.  But since early this year I’ve found that too rapid a carbohydrate rush (high glycemic load) makes me itchy and spotty, probably something to do with the liver.

    Recently the Hairy Bikers, doing gourmet on a budget, used barley instead of rice in a paella, to reduce the cost.  Since barley has one-quarter the glycemic index of rice, I am going to try this with curries, etc.

    Robert H. Olley / Quondam Physics Department / University of Reading / England
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    I never thought I would have to watch my diet, since I’ve never been able to put  on weight.  But since early this year I’ve found that too rapid a carbohydrate rush (high glycemic load) makes me itchy and spotty, probably something to do with the liver.
    Glad to hear you've figured out what was causing your health problems Robert but don't expect me to have much sympathy for someone who has NEVER been able to put on any weight! I used to be like that until something changed in my metabolism, probably the Internet though I usually blame IVF. 

    We're all probably not doing enough exercise when we're on the Internet and maybe that's also part of your itchy spotty problem, too much unused potential energy for muscles in your blood, because as you pointed out we're being as sessile sea squirts but at least they squirt! Someone needs to market a foot or leg powered computer I reckon. 


    Imagine sitting at your computer and pedaling it like an old fashioned Singer sewing machine, that would burn a few calories wouldn't it and make us all a bit fitter and also more inclined to get off the computer and have a break? 

    The faster we pedal the quicker the advert could disappear maybe or the energy could simply help to power the computer and any spare energy could be stored in a battery for later. It would be a bit like a pedometer in that you could see at any time how much energy or calories you had generated over a chosen time period. Here is a Youtube of some guy bicycle pedal powering a pc but that looks a bit too strenuous to me. The Singer sewing machine type pedals look much easier and less intrusive.
    My latest forum article 'Australian Researchers Discover Potential Blue Green Algae Cause & Treatment of Motor Neuron Disease (MND)&(ALS)' Parkinsons's and Alzheimer's can be found at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    rholley
    I love the sewing machine idea!  It reminds me of Daedalus, a fictional inventor created by David E. H. Jones for his Ariadne column in the New Scientist and The Guardian, and which is currently featured in Nature.  I used to enjoy reading that column  in my younger days.

    My own take on this is that it is not enough to simply count the calories.  How fast the glucose gets into the blood stream may have quite a bearing on where they get laid down as fat, and how fast one starts craving more.

    Cupcake Bans At Elementary School Classroom Parties May Reduce Obesity
    ... classroom parties can contribute a substantial amount of caloric intake for children over the course of a school year. Restrictions on classroom celebrations have often been met with controversy and resistance from parents and the community, so changing norms will take time.
    Cupcakes, I think, are fast calories par excellence.

    Robert H. Olley / Quondam Physics Department / University of Reading / England
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    My own take on this is that it is not enough to simply count the calories.  How fast the glucose gets into the blood stream may have quite a bearing on where they get laid down as fat, and how fast one starts craving more.
    Yes, so supposedly that means you now need to mainly eat slow energy release foods doesn't it? High fibre, low sugar and glycaemic index, more wholesome, natural and less refined foods, so definitely not cupcakes! Too much white flour and sugar has been shown to be deadly to many indigenous people and even to many of us who are more culturally used to it, as we age. Diabetes is on the increase everywhere, maybe that's why?


    I loved the sewing machine song, we seem to have gone full circle regarding whither women's equality, we can see where inequality came from here! Also, she does repeatedly sing that the constant pedaling all day is exhausting doesn't she? So maybe it would still be a good idea for our computers to be just optionally pedal powered for when we want them to be?
    My latest forum article 'Australian Researchers Discover Potential Blue Green Algae Cause & Treatment of Motor Neuron Disease (MND)&(ALS)' Parkinsons's and Alzheimer's can be found at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    John Hasenkam
    How fast the glucose gets into the blood stream may have quite a bearing on where they get laid down as fat, and how fast one starts craving more.

    That's an important point because it takes some hours for insulin to be produced and bring sugar levels down. When indulging in the sweet stuff try to mix in with other foods to reduce the absorption rate. In the good old days it was dessert after a main meal, I wonder if the diabetes epidemic reflects not only too much sugar but also too much unbuffered sugar. Fruit juices are a disaster in that regard.

    Perhaps the most appropriate acronym in biomedicine is AGE products - advanced glycation end products, where glucose ends up attaching to various other molecules and generally not a good thing for a long life.
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    You make some interesting points here John. One thing I've noticed is that if I'm very hungry very sweet foods seem almost repulsive to me, I only really fancy them after a savoury meal. 

    Quite a few of my girlfriends seem to be able to eat large amounts of chocolate for example, on a completely empty stomach, when we are out together and they can't understand why I won't join in with them. They think I'm showing amazing will power but its quite the opposite, my body seems to know that it can't handle that much sugar on an empty stomach. My Uncle had diabetes so maybe I have a genetic predisposition to not be able to handle large amounts of sugar very well. I can eat chocolate or desserts as well as anyone after a main meal though :) 

    Robert, does your itchy, spotty skin problem still happen now that you are presumably buffering your sugar intake better?

    My latest forum article 'Australian Researchers Discover Potential Blue Green Algae Cause & Treatment of Motor Neuron Disease (MND)&(ALS)' Parkinsons's and Alzheimer's can be found at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    rholley
    Helen,
    Robert, does your itchy, spotty skin problem still happen now that you are presumably buffering your sugar intake better?
    The spots haven’t totally gone away, but they’re much reduced, only coming up for a few minutes at a time.

    You might be interested in this: The Case of the Vanishing Honeybees.

    Regarding the many things raised by this thread, it’s been overwhelming, the amount of stuff I’ve been reading concerning the position of women.  Some things are pretty consistent, such as the need for fair access to education in many parts of the world.

    Also, the distinction between being national and being a nationalist has been becoming clearer in my mind.

    Also, just now I was reading, and it was pointed out that in the account of the raising of Lazarus (John 11), both Martha and Mary said to Jesus “if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”  But Jesus gave a very different response to each one of them.

    Robert H. Olley / Quondam Physics Department / University of Reading / England
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    You might be interested in this: The Case of the Vanishing Honeybees.
    Thanks for the link Robert, that looks like a lovely children's book about beautiful bumble bees and the global problems the little darlings are facing. Last week this article described recent peer reviewed scientific research that showed quite conclusively that colony collapse disorder is brought about by chronic exposure to sublethal levels of neonicotinoid pesticides :-

    Scientists Link Pesticide-Related Stress to Bee Colony Collapse

    '(Beyond Pesticides, October 8, 2013) Stress brought about by chronic exposure to sublethal levels of neonicotinoid pesticides causes bee colony failure, according to a new study published in the journal Ecology LettersScientists at Royal Holloway University of London have determined that low-level exposure to the pesticide imidacloprid at levels bees encounter in the field causes subtle impacts on individual bees that eventually cause colonies to collapse. This breakthrough study underlines repeated U.S. beekeeper and environmental group calls for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to suspend the use of neonicotinoid pesticides, as theEuropean Commission recently decided this past April.'

    Bumblebee-2009-04-19-01'Since 2006, honey bees and other pollinators in the U.S. and throughout the world have incurred ongoing and rapid population declines from hive abandonment and bee die-off in a phenomenon known as colony collapse disorder (CCD). Studies continue to link a class of systemic pesticides called neonicotinoids to the CCD phenomenon and pollinator decline in general. While scientists have cited multiple chemical and other factors that contribute to degrading bee health, until now no study has shown the internal mechanism within bee colonies that causes collapse. By focusing on chronic sublethal stressors, Royal Holloway researchers have addressed the complexities that contribute to colony losses.'

    'In the study, scientists focus on colony level dynamics and the impact of pesticides on birth and death rates within bee colonies. Based on a biological phenomenon called the Allee effect, which attributes a positive correlation between population size or density and the mean individual fitness of a species or population, researchers found that two bee colonies exposed to the same stressors can have very different fates. In other words, a bee colony’s resiliency and survival can be significantly impacted by stressors at earlier points in the colony’s life cycle. Chronic stressors (over several weeks) such as pesticides, not excluding disease, parasites, and habitat loss, can result in feedback on the birth and death rates of the colony, and eventually cause collapse. Lead author John Bryden, Ph.D, explains, “Exposing bees to pesticides is a bit like adding more and more weight on someone’s shoulders. A person can keep walking normally under a bit of weight, but when it gets too much – they collapse. Similarly, bee colonies can keep growing when bees aren’t too stressed, but if stress levels get too high the colony will eventually fail.”

    'Numerous studies have examined the impacts of pesticides on bees at the colony level. A USDA funded study published in July 2013 found that exposure to the vast array of chemical combinations found in honey bee hives can weaken bee’s immune systems and make them more susceptible to parasites and other pathogens. Studies published in March 2013 found that neonicotinoid pesticides impact bee’s learning and memory, making it more difficult for bees to forage and find food. While it’s certain that numerous stressors are acting upon bees, as evidenced by a recent study linking exhaust fumes to impairment of bee’s ability to find food, the evidence continues to implicate pesticides as critical components of the CCD phenomenon. In fact, before the neonicotinoid pesticide clothianidin was allowed on to the market, an internal EPA document cited the agency’s honey bee colony level field study as inadequate. The agency registered the pesticide “conditionally,” despite concerns about its impact on domestic honey bees and other pollinators.'

    'In response, Beyond Pesticides has worked with allies, including beekeepers and environmental groups, to force EPA expedite a response to the pollinator crisis through legal petitions and declare the pesticide clothianidin an “imminent hazard” to honey bees. After EPA rebuffed the legal petition, the coalition filed a lawsuit in Federal District Court against the agency for its failure to adequately protect pollinators. The lawsuit seeks the suspension of the registrations of the neonicotiniods clothianidin and thiamethoxam, which have repeatedly been identified as highly toxic to honey bees, the clear cause of major bee kills, and a significant contributor to the devastating ongoing mortality of bees. The suit challenges EPA’s oversight of bee-killing pesticides, as well as the agency’s practice of “conditional registration” and labeling deficiencies.'

    'As co-author of the Royal Holloway study, Nigel Raine, Ph.D explains, “Pesticides can have a detrimental effect on bees at levels used in the field. Our research will provide important evidence for policymakers. The way we test pesticides, the way we assess their impact on bees, and the way we manage pesticides can all be improved.” With one in three bites of food reliant on bees and other beneficial species for pollination, the decline of pollinators requires swift action. In the absence long overdue protections, Beyond Pesticides is promoting a multi-faceted strategy that focuses on a precautionary approach to our pollinator crisis.'

    'Join Beyond Pesticides BEE Protective campaign:



    This multi-faceted strategy focusing on a precautionary approach to the pollinator crisis sounds like a very good idea, especially as one in every mouthful of our food is a direct result of bee pollination. As Einstein so famously said 'If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live'.

    My latest forum article 'Australian Researchers Discover Potential Blue Green Algae Cause & Treatment of Motor Neuron Disease (MND)&(ALS)' Parkinsons's and Alzheimer's can be found at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    rholley
    Last night on BBC1 there was a second part “Spring” of “The Great British Year”.

    Too early for honeybees, the pear orchards of Somerset are pollinated by solitary bees (two snaps below).  I don’t know which species these are, but the commonest of this type in Britain is the red mason bee Osmia rufa.




     
    Robert H. Olley / Quondam Physics Department / University of Reading / England