Posts Tagged ‘Foreign bodies’


Imagine for a moment a petri dish with agar.  That is one of those round clear dishes with a jelly like material that bacteria can use for food.  If you put a couple bacteria in the dish it will multiply until eventually it consumes all the agar.  Then, it dies and the dish can no longer support any bacteria at all.  This is not unlike a cancer that grows until it consumes its host.

The world is like that round petri dish.  The agar is like all its natural resources.  Humans are like the bacteria.  Eventually, if we don’t find a way to limit population and even reduce it, we will consume all its natural resources and like a cancer, both our host and the human race will die off.

Is this so hard to understand?  The world has a cancer and it is us.
How long will it take to either stop the cancer or be the end of Humans?  Maybe the host, earth, will solve the problem with dramatic climate change.  Maybe it will vomit out a super volcano and solve the problem.  Maybe humans will become sane and intervene before it is too late.  Today I would not bet on that solution.

Our culture is based on GROWTH. How much will the stock market grow?  How much can I own?  How can we grow our business?  How can we increase our memberships in our organizations; grow our budgets; pay bigger salaries to ourselves?  How can we grow up?  How much can we consume, eat, wear, etc.  Without growth, so our current “religion of capitalism” dictates, the world stagnates; our standard of living declines; the future is bleak.  We live in a culture where the blind lead the blind.

Since each of us is a short-timer in the history of this planet, we probably won’t suffer any catastrophic cataclysm.  So, we can just continue to ignore any responsibility we might have for the situation and leave it to some future generation to suffer the consequences of our lack of concern or action.  Like I say, “Its all about me.”  Its all about me, right now, who cares about the future that we won’t be around to see?

Body Building (wink)

Posted: January 30, 2012 in Science
Tags: ,

Body Building (wink)

O.K., it is a play on words. I am not really going to talk about how to build up your muscles so you can lift weights or exude a fabulous physique. I am thinking about bodies of people. O.K., that is not clear either. I am thinking about groups of people, a body of people. But there are analogies to the human body, so that is where the word play comes in.

In the last decade, there has been a growing interest in the “foreign” bodies that make up the body we as individuals live in. In the December, 2010 Science magazine, Elizabeth Pennisi points out that these “foreign” cellular bodies out number the cells that carry our unique DNA 9 to 1. That is, for every cell in our body that we can identify as us, there are 9 cells carrying DNA distinct from our own. They exist in our mouths, esophagus, skin, stomach, colon, etc. We tend to think that bacteria all belong to a class of harmful foreign bodies. However, research is discovering that the large majority of these “foreign” bodies contribute to our well being. I realized, reading this brief article that I had been seeing references to this in several places recently.

Personal experience tells me that the collection of bacteria in my gut and not the same ones that my wife has in her gut. We have both observed that food can affect us differently. A food that causes flatulence in one of us does not necessarily do the same for the other. It seems obvious that our guts are operating differently. The implication is that these gut “bugs” contribute or at least alter the digestive process in different ways. There is speculation that this significant colony of “foreign” bodies, existing in great variety among humans and most likely other animals as well, could explain a lot about how and why certain diseases affect some people but not others.

But, as I was reading this article, it occurred to me it was an example of community organizing. It takes a rather large collection of rather diverse cells to make a “me.” In fact, it is questionable whether or not a self reference ought to be “we” instead of “I”. We are a collection of many parts, not just organs, but organisms all working in relative harmony to make an “us” as opposed to a “me.” It seems to me that the “we” is a demonstrative example of an organized effort.

I/we would imagine that in the years to come, this study will become more robust and our perception of who “we” are will shift so that we see how we are each individual societies, living cooperatively, symbiotically, to create the unique individuals that we are. And, it might become an example of the importance of organized efforts of groups/bodies of people and a reduction in the idea that the individual is so valuable in isolation from other individuals in so far as making the society in which we live healthy. Only time will tell. I doubt I will live long enough to see the result.