ME and Ophelia

Monday, August 29, 2005

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Talk to the Animals

A friend and I exchange emails about questions of life, love, do we have a soul, etc. He does not believe in spirituality, believes we have a brain and mind, but not a soul. So, I have asked him to explain love. Ha!

Plants, animals and birds respond to loving care. So do dolphins and other underwater creatures. Whenever I watch my cat Ophelia outdoors, the moment she notices me, she immediately comes running at full speed, jumps up into the window and greets me affectionately and loud purring. Nothing to do with feeding time. Her bowl is nevery empty of special dried food. She can eat anytime and seldom sees me replenishing the food or refreshing her water bowl.

Ansel's post caught my eye. It features this excerpt from the New York Times Aug 26, 2005 by Bernd Heinrich, entitled Talk to the Animals:
Which brings me back to Mr. Freeman's use of the word "love" in the context of the penguin's behavior. The unspoken rule is that this four-letter word is to be applied only to one creature on earth, homo sapiens. But why? A look at the larger picture shows this presumption of exclusivity is utterly unproved. In a broad physiological sense, we are practically identical not only with other mammals but also with birds - muscle for muscle, eye for eye, nerve for nerve, lung for lung, brain for brain, hormone for hormone - except for differences in detail of particular design specifications.

Functionally, I suspect love is an often temporary chemical imbalance of the brain induced by sensory stimuli that causes us to maintain focus on something that carries an adaptive agenda. Love is an adaptive feeling or emotion - like hate, jealousy, hunger, thirst - necessary where rationality alone would not suffice to carry the day. Could rationality alone induce a penguin to trek 70 miles over the ice in order to mate and then balance an egg on his toes while fasting for four months in total darkness and enduring temperatures of minus-80 degrees Fahrenheit and gusts of up to 100 miles an hour? And bear in mind that this 5-year-old penguin has just returned to the place of its birth from the sea, and thus has never seen an egg in its life and could not possibly have any idea what it is or why it must be kept warm. Any rational penguin would eventually say, "To hell with this thing, I'm going back for a swim and to eat my fill of fish."
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Linked to here below is a BBC report that says in 2002, American illusionist James Randi offered $1m to anyone able to prove, under observed conditions in a laboratory, that homeopathic remedies can really cure people. To date, no-one has passed the preliminary tests.

Captain Marlow points out an article on more junk science debunked and another on a Swiss and British team analysing 110 clinical trials of homeopathic medicine: the team concludes the treatments offer no benefit over placebo and the Lancet says the time for more studies is over and doctors should be bold and honest with patients about homeopathy's lack of benefit.

Some people suffering from Myalgic Encephalomyelities (M.E.) spend a lot of time, energy and money on trying unproven treatments. Collectively, they must spend a fortune on chasing rainbows, believing something, somewhere must help. If each of them had donated to M.E. research the amount of money they spend on hocus pocus and snake oils, by now there might have been a diagonistic tool or some sort of effective treatment.

These days, lots of lay people override the medical profession and refuse to believe there are still some medical conditions for which there is no effective treatment or cure. Human nature I suppose. Having said that, there must be a lot more to discover about ancient herbal remedies and old wives' tales. There sure is something therapeutic about sipping hot home made chicken soup when suffering from a heavy cold or flu. It is so comforting, reaching parts where aspirin does not, you can't help wondering if it has magical properties, especially when made by a big warm hearted mama with Jewish ancestory who loves cooking (and to any Islamic radicals reading this: don't call me racist!)
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"I'm afraid this is the one we've dreaded. I don't think the scenario could be any worse for us."
ROBERT R. LATHAM JR., director of Emergency Management Operations for Mississippi.

Instapundit is tracking news and eyewitness accounts from American bloggers on the terrifying hurricane Katrina heading for New Orleans where a webcam is still working. Keep on scrolling at Instapundit's main page.

And visit Jeff Jarvis at BuzzMachine for updates on The storm.

UPDATE: AP report: "Katrina pounds New Orleans. Power outages widespread, including Superdome. At least 26,000 of the 100,000-plus New Orleans residents without cars fled to shelter in the Superdome on Sunday."

UPDATE: Josh in Baton Rouge blogs: "The lights just flickered for the first time. Blogging may be suspended indefinitely at any given moment. Wind still isn't terrible. Light rain.

It is now raining here and I just freaked myself out when I went outside to take some pictures because I went out and started taking pictures, then the wind kicked up and slammed the front door behind me (causing me to jump and get scared.:)

# posted by Ingrid J. Jones @ 8/29/2005
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