Monday, August 31, 2015

I Don't Get Vaccinated in the iWorld!

As I drive up to the intersection, a sensor trips the light green and I sail through.   Perfect! I’ve entered the iWorld where I always go to the head of the line, noisy neighbors move away, and roads I want to drive on are never being repaired.
In the iWorld, everybody but me gets vaccinated.  I benefit from herd immunity because everyone else is vaccinated, yet I don’t risk any side effects from the procedure.  It’s only fair.           Wait a minute! What everyone reasoned like that? What about the seven billion other people in the world who are just as worthy as I am?  As Steven Pinker puts it, “I can’t act as if my interests are special just because I’m me and you’re not.”*
We can all win, just not all at the same time.  By waiting our turn we can all go through intersections.  By getting vaccinated we contribute to herd immunity and as a bonus, we’re protected from preventable diseases.  
*Pinker: The Better Angels of Our Nature  p 182

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Bigfoot is a GMO!

Bigfoot is a legendary giant humanoid living in the forest of the Pacific Northwest.  There’s no reliable evidence such as skeletal remains that Bigfoot actually exists, only sightings and footprints that could be faked.  Hence Bigfoot is probably a myth, but there’s no way to prove that something doesn’t exist.
I can’t prove Bigfoot doesn’t exist nor anyone can prove GMOs are safe for every individual under every conceivable circumstance.   Twenty years of uneventful GMO use should be sufficient evidence of their safety, but apparently not for some people.  
Maybe Bigfoot is a GMO himself?   Genetic modification with gorilla and Neanderthal genes would explain his great size and strength.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Class matters in Off Course by Michelle Huneven

UU World Summer 2015 says, “[Michelle Huneven] writes real literature about characters who believe that spirituality matters.”   Hoping to meet characters who exemplified UU spirituality, I borrowed Off Course from the library and found spirituality barely mentioned.  Instead, I found Cress Hartley the most amoral protagonist I’ve spent time with since mobster Tony Soprano, who was at least aware that he had moral failings.  Not only does Cress justify her affair with another woman’s husband, “Her sympathies were definitely with the mistress [in Fatal Attraction] who was up against the bland and blameless wife,” she’s lazy, she lies, she judges, she steals, and she’s a snob.
However, maybe Off Course was never meant to be about spirituality or morality at all.  On my second reading I saw the book in another light, namely, that the book can be interpreted as an allegory about class.   Cress, a graduate student, is slated to be an heiress.  In the mountain community where she is supposed to be writing her dissertation, she interacts with working people: waitresses, cleaners, as well as the married carpenter she has an affair with.  She faults his past participles, “Have you wrote much lately?” and sneers at his wife’s taste in decor. “As if [Cress would] sit on the cheap ugly couch with the ever-flowing mill wheel!”   Later, Cress’ perceptive best friend Tillie asks her, “Don’t you think its high time you ended your little love affair with the working class?”  By the end of the novel, our heroine gets back on course by marrying an internist turned hospital director and dedicating herself to environmentalism.