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Frame of Reference - Index

Vicesimus Tres Stele


1) The symbol of medicine in Western culture is the snake and staff of Asclepius.

The Greek hero god was taught healing by the Centaur Chiron, also his step-father. There are various stories of his ancestry, although most accounts have him as the son of Apollo with his death by lightning at the hands of a jealous Zeus. He was the best of the physicians and enough of a human to try to cancel death. He was more easily accessible to believers than Apollo who could proclaim lofty indifference towards man and his destiny. The temples to Asclepius were often sacred hospitals and nursing homes, but also constituted meeting places for local intellectuals and places of philosophical instruction after about 500 BC as the cult spread. Most temples were situated outside the town and often shared a site with oracular shrines where man could meet the divine directly. Proposed cures often came as a result of dreams. In most depictions Asclepius is standing with a snake coiled around his staff, sometimes protected by a dog. Medicine didn’t improve much until early in the 20th century.

2) “The first person to locate, on the basis of neuroanatomy, human intelligence in the head was Herophilus of Chalcedon, who flourished around 300 BC. He was also the first to distinguish the motor from the sensory nerves, and performed the most thorough study of the brain anatomy attempted until the Renaissance... Science is a way of thinking much more than it is a body of knowledge. Its goal is to find out how the world works, to seek what regularities there may be, to penetrate to the connections of things...” (Carl Sagan, Broca’s Brain, 1974) The technology of medicine advanced insufferably slow during the intervening years to the second half of the 20th century.

3) “In the year 1866, I discovered the Christ Science or divine laws of Life, Truth, and Love, and named my discovery Christian Science... [now] religion and medicine are inspired with a diviner nature and essence; fresh pinions are given to faith and understanding, and thoughts acquaint themselves intelligently with God.

“My discovery, that erring, mortal, misnamed mind produces all the organism and action of the mortal body, set my thoughts to work in new channels, and led up to my demonstration of the proposition that Mind is All and matter is naught as the leading factor in Mind-science... This great fact is not, however, seen to be supported by sensible evidence, until its divine Principle is demonstrated by healing the sick and thus proved absolute and divine. This proof once seen, no other conclusion can be reached.

“...The vital part, the heart and soul of Christian Science, is Love. Without this, the letter [the explanation] is but the dead body of Science -- pulseless, cold, inanimate... Health is not a condition of matter, but of Mind; nor can the material senses bear reliable testimony on the subject of health. The Science of Mind-healing shows it to be impossible for aught but Mind to testify truly or to exhibit the real status of man. Therefore the divine Principle of Science, reversing the testimony of the physical senses, reveals man as harmoniously existent in Truth, which is the only basis of health; and thus [Christian] Science denies all disease, heals the sick, overthrows false evidence, and refutes materialistic logic... Christian Science eschews what is called natural science, in so far as this is built on the false hypotheses that matter is its own lawgiver, that law is founded on material conditions, and that these are final and overrule the might of divine Mind. Good is natural and primitive. It is not miraculous to itself... Animal magnetism, hypnotism, spiritualism, theosophy, agnosticism, pantheism, and infidelity are antagonistic to true being and fatal to its demonstrations; and so are some other systems... We must abandon pharmaceutics, and take up ontology --`the science of real being’.” (Mary Baker Eddy nee Glover, Science and Health, 1875)

It is not hard to imagine, based on the state of medical science in 1866 and subsequent decades, that “Mind-Science” was often as effective at curing as was the practice of medicine, “pharmaceutics.”

Even today medicines that make it through `double blind’ testing are never foolproof and cures attributed to placebos happen at surprising rates. Saying that “man as harmoniously existent in Truth, which is the only basis of health...” is to say nothing.

4) For the Papuo-Melanesian tribes of Eastern New Guinea, the duality of natural and supernatural causes is divided by a thin line, decisive and well known to the people. Health to the Melanesians is a natural state of affairs and the human body will remain in perfect order, unless tampered with. They know about poisons, wounds, burns, falls--any of which can cause death in a natural way. They know about sorcery and that this can lead to death in the same way, but the emotional reaction to each kind of death is quite different. It is recognized that cold, heat, overstrain, too much sun, and overeating can all cause ailments which are treated by natural remedies such as massage, steaming, warming at a fire and certain potions. There is an enormous domain of sorcery and by far the most cases of illness and death are ascribed to this. The more closely a person is related to the injured party, or for oneself, the more likely it is that the cause of injury is ascribed to sorcery. Thus an old man’s pending death will be considered natural by the tribe while he will be afraid only of sorcery and never think of his natural fate.

5) In 1942, penicillin was only available from the US government. This is the miracle drug that stopped infections, a chemical released by a simple mold called Penicillium. One of the first public uses was after a fire at the Coconut Grove, Boston, Massachusetts. Along with the sulfadiazine and blood plasma therapy, many lives of burn victims were saved who otherwise would have died. Because it was still difficult to make, only small amounts of penicillin were available. The government released it to help treat the fire’s victims in what would become one of the drug’s most important clinical trials. This use of the drug made skin grafts more effective by reducing infections from Staphylococcus aureus a particularly troublesome bacteria.

The success of the skin grafts and Penicillin gave the government the impetus to increase the production of this wonder drug. Penicillin came to symbolize our ability to outwit and control the microbial world, even though it was only an auspicious beginning. By the mid-1950s you could get penicillin without a doctor’s prescription just like aspirin and cough drops. Alexander Fleming warned in 1945, that misuse of the drug would lead to the appearance of bacteria resistant to its effects. By 1946, 14% of the strains of Staphylococcus were resistant and by 1950, 59%. In the 1960s scientists found a way to alter penicillin chemically so that the protein produced by resistant strains no longer destroyed the penicillin. By 1973, nature had selected bacteria that were resistant even to this breakthrough anti-biotic.

6) Cosmetic Surgery is not new if you consider tattoos, bone deformations, circumcision, puberty rites, body piercing for jewelry, etc. and has become very popular in modern Western society for restructuring the human body. The latest rage is Liposuction, revolutionized by Dr. Jeffrey Klein in 1987 with the introduction of the tumescent technique. This surgery can be performed with local anesthetics, reducing blood loss and bruising. It is no wonder that Liposuction, removal of unwanted fatty tissue, is now the most frequently performed cosmetic surgery in the US.

7) The refrain “Save the Rain Forests” has been heard louder each year, but still needs to be sung. Rain forests have given us coffee, quinine, rubber, and the wild ancestor of rice. Forest plants contain chemical compounds that help them survive in a jungle of close-living neighbors. These compounds have enriched the world’s pharmacopoeia and support much of modern medicine. We owe the birth control pill to a wild yam in Guatemala, and we can now cure 99% of lymphocytic leukemia (a form of cancer most common among children) thanks to the rosy periwinkle of Madagascar. About 25% of modern medicine is directly or indirectly connected to raw material from tropical forests, including analgesics, antibiotics, diuretics, laxatives, tranquilizers, cough pastilles and numerous herbal medicines.

8) Dreams were thought to be one way in which the Almighty makes known His wishes - especially to the prophets--thus, the revelations to Joseph and Daniel, and the dreams Yahweh sent non-Jews: Pharaoh, in the Book of Genesis, and Balaam, in the Book of Numbers. Jews, traditionally, believed that the soul returns to God each night and is returned, by God’s blessing, upon awakening--the lovely prayer said upon awakening thanks the Lord “for returning my soul unto me.” The ancient Egyptians thought that dreams foretold the future. The Greeks held that dreams cured sickness. The Romans prayed to Mercury before retiring, asking the god to send them good visions. Natives of the Fiji Islands, like a thousand other groupings of mankind, believed that their souls leave their bodies in a dream. The Iroquois regarded dreams as supernatural commands, which had to be executed. (see Septimus Stele: Mathematics, verse 16)

9) “In a Yana (northern California) village in a normal day there would almost surely have been more women than men keeping to their beds. For six days each month -- the ritual if not the actual length of her period -- a woman was required to withdraw to a separate house and more or less stay on her bed; there was the length of a moon’s waxing and waning to be spent in retirement and rest following the birth of her baby, during which she was considered at most convalescent... The chief causes for men’s sickening in civilization...were the excessive amount of time men spend cooped up in automobiles, in offices and in their own houses. It is not a man’s nature to be too much indoors, and especially within his own house with women constantly about. The white man seemed to have become a victim to the ever present evil spirit, the Coyote doctor, as he called it. This could be due...to the white man’s carelessness in failing to protect himself from the unwilled malignity and danger of the sake mahale: The woman whose moon period is upon her. The touch, the mere presence in the family house, of a woman during those days is a peril to any man. A woman should have her own separate house for her periods. Any blood is suspect of evil, but a woman’s is positively known to bear a deadly power.

“All Indians know that it is not good to have a dead person’s body around, that it is contaminating and dangerous. The body is touched as little as possible after death, and whoever undertakes to dress and prepare it, is ritually decontaminated before he rejoins his family. To the Yahi especially, [sub-tribe of Yana] as to all Indians practicing cremation, the extended handling of the body and its continued presence among the living is perilous both to the living and to the dead. The flames of the funeral pyre, which accomplish cleanly the [disposal]...are also the beneficent flames which release the incorrupt and indestructible soul for its journey to the Land of the Dead.” (Theodora Kroeber, Ishi in Two Worlds, 1961)


21 “And upon a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat upon his throne, and made an oration unto them.
22 “And the people gave a shout, saying, it is the voice of a god, and not of a man.
23 “And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost. (The Bible, Acts 12:21-23)
Parasites make up the majority of species on Earth, more than 3 million separate classifications. They range in size from microscopic to the intestinal tapeworms that can stretch as long as 60 feet. Parasites have huge ecological impacts by shaping the structure of animal communities (probably the largest single cause of disease and death for humans over the centuries.) It is not uncommon for wild animals to be direct hosts for 20 or more species of parasites.

Parasites have been so neglected by science that no one has ever done even a basic inventory; talk about bio-diversity? Understanding them is a key to understanding the impact of man and his chemicals on his habitat and surrounding eco-systems. The decimation of frog populations in many locations is a global disaster. It looks as if, along with man-made pollution, parasites are at work as well. In North America, an epidemic scale increase in flukes that live in frog muscle has caused their hosts to grow extra legs. In Australia and Central America, a lethal fungus (which probably originated in the USA) that lives on the skin of frogs is driving entire species extinct. Parasites are `indicator species’ of a healthy ecology in some cases since pollution can destroy the delicate larvae of some parasites as they swim from host to host. Many parasites require intermediate hosts, and the absence of these will prevent the parasite from reproducing. If you’ve lost a parasite, strange as it may sound, you have lost something important to a given ecosystem. In the sense that humans are parasites on Earth, we need to learn how to survive from the masters, other parasites.

11) “Some members of the expedition would not swim at all because of the infestation of the river by crocodiles. But these were smaller than the man-eating monsters of Kenya and Uganda, and did not seem to be consuming any of the local Afar people, who were in and out of the water constantly. After a couple of weeks most of the scientists were bathing daily. Luckily, the flow of the river was rapid enough to eliminate the threat of bilharziasis, a debilitating disease carried by freshwater snails that afflicts thousands of people who wade or bathe in slack-water places like Lake Victoria.” (Donald C. Johanson and Maitland A. Edey, Lucy, 1981) Nature has many hazards for man, most are far more subtle, but no less lethal than swimming in contaminated water.

12) Human mental health is a too often neglected subject. Suicide is one of the blatant results of mental illness and depression. It is an aberration since man shares a compelling instinct to survive with the animal kingdom at large. We are built to survive, to dominate nature, to reproduce and thrive. What are the symptoms of such a silent disease when 30,000 Americans end their otherwise healthy lives each year? Make sure your loved ones know they are needed and appreciated, frequently.

13) There is no end to the evolution and resilience of disease organisms that affect humans. The recent outbreak of a strange virus originally identified in the West Nile area, illustrates this point. The West Nile Virus originally appeared in North America for the first time in the summer of 1999, killing seven people and causing 62 to suffer severe flu symptoms. West Nile is one of a family of 10 viruses that can be transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito and cause encephalitis, or brain swelling. The severity of the disease varies from transient headaches to paralysis and death. The encephalitis-causing viruses are carried by birds, and transferred to humans by mosquitoes that happen to enjoy a variety in their diet.

14) The story of fungi is complex and broad ranging. They are neither plants nor animals, but make up their own kingdom. They must live off plants (and debris) and animals because they cannot produce their own nutrition, but like plants they frequently produce spores sending them forth on the wind (causing an allergic reaction in some humans). Each year agricultural pests such as smuts and plant rusts do millions of dollars in damage to crops and turf areas worldwide.

In the mid-1800s a fungus turned Ireland’s potato crops into black gooey masses. About one million people died and more than a million emigrated to North America and other lands. Fungi also provide valuable medicines including penicillin as well as delectable cuisine, i.e. truffles.

New turfgrass varieties are being developed that include fungi endophytes.

The mycelia of the fungus grow throughout the tissue (colonizing in the seed) of host grasses causing the plant to produce alkaloids that inhibit the feeding of many damaging insects. This accounts for the historic success of the variety K-31 tall fescue that persists in spite of insect infestations on 30 million acres of grazing land in the Southeast USA. The alkaloids, however, are poisonous to livestock if ingested in large quantity, and have caused abortions (in horses), loss of extremities (in sheep) and liver damage, `fescue foot’ and `staggers’ (in cattle). The use of commercial fungicides is common, but in most cases we have learned to live with even poisonous and potentially harmful fungi.

15) People often take the abundance and prominence of reports on psychic healing, folk medicine cures and parapsychology to be evidence of validity. A common fallacy is to suggest, that where there’s so much smoke, there must be fire, or usefulness. In the nineteenth century there was an infatuation with phrenology. Pseudoscientific beliefs were not limited to the uneducated, illiterate masses, and belief that various psychological and mental attributes were discernible by examining the bumps and contours of one’s head was widespread. Employers used phrenologists to screen prospective employees and couples contemplating marriage sought the advice of practitioners before tying the knot. The renowned educator Horace Mann saw phrenology as “the guide to philosophy and the handmaiden of Christianity,” and Horace Greeley, journalist, advocated phrenology tests for all railroad engineers.

16) “To take advantage of the natural ups and downs of any disease (as well as of any placebo effect), it’s best to begin your worthless treatment when the patient is getting worse. In this way, anything that happens can more easily be attributed to your wonderful and probably expensive intervention. If the patient improves, you take credit; if he remains stable, your treatment stopped his downward course. On the other hand, if the patient worsens, the dosage or intensity of the treatment was not great enough; if he dies, he delayed too long in coming to you.” The few successes will be remembered, the majority of the failures forgotten. “Chance provides more than enough variation to account for the sprinkling of successes that will occur with almost any treatment; indeed, it would be a miracle if there weren’t any `miracle cures’.” (John Allen Paulos, Innumeracy, 1988)

17) “It seems plausible that many of our conventional ideas about heaven are derived from such near-death experiences, which must have been related regularly over the millennia... We know that similar experiences can be induced with fair regularity, cross-culturally, by psychedelic drugs. Out-of-body experiences are induced by dissociative anesthetics such as the ketamines... The illusion of flying is induced by atropine and other bellanonna alkaloids, and these molecules, obtained, for example from mandrake or jimson weed, have been used regularly by European witches and North American curanderos (healers) to experience, in the midst of religious ecstasy, soaring and glorious flight. MDA tends to induce age regression, an accessing of experiences from youth and infancy which we had thought entirely forgotten. DMT induces micropsia and macropsia, the sense of the world shrinking or expanding, respectively -- a little like what happens to Alice [in wonderland]... LSD induces a sense of union with the universe, as in the identification of Brahman with Atman in Hindu religious belief. [Numinous] (Carl Sagan, Broca’s Brain, 1974) The body creates hallucinations when feverish or under the stress of prolonged hunger and sleep deprivation. The fact that these abnormal events cause pictures in our brains, doesn’t imply any reality to them. It is mischief to develop religions based on such events.

18) In the old days, cold weather made the voluminous hair of primordial hominids bristle, providing natural insulation by creating pockets of warmer air trapped between the skin and the outside cold. This same reaction persists today in Man and is known as `goose bumps’ from the resemblance to the bumps naturally occurring on the skin of poultry that holds feathers. Shivering from cold and even fear, causes a constriction of tiny arrector pili muscles at the base of the hairs on our arms, legs and particularly on the backs of our necks. Technically known as piloerection, this is one of the adaptations that Man has preserved for millions of years, no doubt, and shares with many other species of mammals.

Some people believe that it will disappear over time, but why would Man breed away from such a character even if it is not so necessary today? Man has so many `vestigial’ characteristics, such as the tailbone, foreskin, earlobes and even toenails, but how could humanity select away from such characteristics without some deliberate choosing? Populations get taller, in part because of better nutrition, but possibly because more women are attracted to and select tall men, and angry short men go to war and die. Why would women select a mate that doesn’t display goose bumps? Not very probable since most women appreciate the emotional side of men.

19) Until recently it was impossible to clone a pig because quirks in their reproductive biology undermined techniques that have worked in other animals. In 1999, scientists at Japan’s National Institute of Animal Industry, Tsukuba, Japan, developed a different technique under the direction of Akira Onishi. The pig was named Xena, and may be the next link in the effort to create replacement organs to be used for human transplants.

Human donors are in short supply for livers, kidneys and hearts. Pig organs are about the right size but genes are different and these organs stimulate fatal immune responses in humans. Now scientists wish to combine all available technology, develop a genetically altered pig that has organs that won’t fail in a human body, and then clone these altered pigs in mass production to create a source of donor organs. This would leave the pork to be consumed in the normal way, presumably. Scientists at Edinburgh, Scotland, PPL Therapeutics, reported a different technique that led to five cloned piglets, so we are fast on our way to genetically altered, cloned pigs.

Using these and other cloning techniques, it may be possible to clone extinct animals. Scientists at, Advanced Cell Technology, Massachusetts, created Noah, a cloned baby gaur bull by fusing an adult gaur’s skin cell with a cow egg from which the nucleus had been removed. The resulting embryo was transferred to a domestic surrogate cow. The guar is an endangered ox native to India, Indochina and Southeast Asia. Many other endangered species or recently extinct species are on the list for genetic resurrection, including Bucardo mountain goat (Spain), Cheetah (India), Huia bird (New Zealand), Siberian mammoth (Russia), Tasmanian tiger (Australia). Just think, your pet cat or dog may be next. (www.popsci.com, January 2001)

20) Life extension is, not unreasonably, a quiet passion of mine. And so it was with great relief when I read in the news about the a new genetic breakthrough. Dr. Stephen Helfand of the University of Connecticut Health Center, disclosed that his research team has doubled the life-span of a fruit fly. A gene was modified on a single chromosome. Some flies lived 110 days, three times average.

The same long-life gene exists in humans and “...offers a target for future drug therapies aimed at extending life.”

The gene mutation appears to work by restricting calorie absorption on a cellular level -- in effect putting the cells on a diet. This raises the possibility of one day developing a pill that would both extend life and control weight. Not only did the fruit flies live longer, they also seemed to maintain a high quality of life. “It prolongs active adult life, and I think, delays the onset of aging.” according to Helfand. The gene is named “Indy” short for “I’m not dead yet.” Now we just have to figure out how to rewire human DNA and genetic code.

21) Epidemics have been prominent historic events that often are regarded as `an act of god.’ But modern science can now explain most of these events, for example, the bi-annual outbreak of cholera in Bangladesh. The predictable increase in cases brought to the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research station is now precisely correlated to the pattern of sea-surface temperature in the Bay of Bengal. These outbreaks are also associated with the time of phytoplankton blooms (not divine punishment). Warmer water encourages the growth of zooplankton, which carry the cholera bacteria, and phytoplankton on which these zooplankton feed. Monsoons drive the plankton-laden water into estuaries, where the bacteria contaminate local supplies of drinking water. When the bacteria count reaches one million per milliliter, the water becomes infectious. There isn’t enough wood for fuel to boil the water, so now aides are teaching women to cover water-collection jugs with a filter of sari fabric folded at least four times. (“National Geographic,” October 2000)

22) Diarrhea kills 2.5 million children each year--a symptom of disease that results in dehydration. Researchers have developed a potato-based vaccine against Norwalk Virus, a major cause of life-threatening diarrhea worldwide. The Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research in Ithaca, New York, spliced a section of the Norwalk Virus DNA into a bacteria that normally infects plants, and used the bacteria to shuttle the viral gene into the potato reproductive processes.

Researchers are also developing plant-based vaccines against Escherichia coli (E-coli) and hepatitis B which will be reproduced by Genetically Modified Organisms, plants that can be grown in the underdeveloped countries thus reducing the cost of medical care. We are on the threshold of a completely changed medical science.

23) How can the periodic eruptions of volcanoes be associated with medical consequences for humanity? It is possible that the major eruptions may have triggered the spread of catastrophic plagues, including the Black Death or Bubonic plague which originated in Mesopotamia in the 11th century AD. Richard Stothers, of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, has correlated the seven largest eruptions of the past 2,000 years with plague epidemic events. The volcanic activity spewed at least 100 megatons of sulfurous gasses into the stratosphere, where they combined with water vapor to create a sulfuric-acid called aerosols. The aerosols spreading around Earth cooled the temperate latitudes of Europe and the Middle East creating a more humid environment. This changed environment allowed Yersinia pestis, the plague bacillus, to thrive within five years of at least five eruptions. Y. pestis thrives during wet winters and springs because the rodent hosts also thrive. So much for this `act of god’ to punish his people. (Volcanoes were recorded in Eldgja, Iceland, 934 AD; El Chichon, Mexico, 1258 AD; Laki, Iceland, 1783 AD; and Tambora, Indonesia, 1815 AD.) Another unintended consequence of Nuclear winter?

24) How important is the mapping of the human genome? This is to medicine what gunpowder was to warfare, what Columbus was to the development of Western civilization in the American continents; let's hope it is not the moral equivalent of what Columbus was to the indigenous peoples.

Reading the human genome is (presumptuously) what reading Frame of Reference is to formulating an orderly society independent of religion. After 50 years of preparation (since before Watson) we now have the story of the entire genetic makeup of Homo sapiens. For example, in April 28, 2000 it was announced that gene therapy had been successful to cure three French infants born with Severe Combined Immune Deficiency (SCID). From this inaugural year of the millennium we will see medical progress in quantum leaps, cures numbering by the hundreds each year.

But, after the death of one of these infants, government agencies have announced that US federal monitors will oversee all gene therapy experiments to ensure that researchers are adhering to protocols outlined by the National Institutes of Health. Two more babies have been treated for SCID, and the prognosis is optimistic.

“Researchers at Stanford University and at Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia have also reported success in treating two patients with hemophilia B -- a blood-clotting disorder -- with gene therapy. While the results are preliminary, neither patient needs to inject himself with as much Factor IX, the protein necessary to induce clotting, indicating that their bodies are producing some of the protein.” (Popular Science, August 2000) Stay tuned for breakthroughs and news every month in the future.

25) “How much can the brain know? There are perhaps 100 billion neurons in the brain, the circuit elements and switches that are responsible in their electrical and chemical activity for the functioning of our minds. A typical brain neuron has perhaps a thousand little wires, called dendrites, which connect it with its fellows. If... every bit of information in the brain corresponds to one connection, the total number of things knowable by the brain is no more than 100 trillion. But this number is only one percent of the number of atoms in the average speck of salt.

“So in this sense the universe is intractable, astonishingly immune to any human attempt at full knowledge. We cannot on this level understand a grain of salt, much less the universe... But an absolutely pure crystal of salt could have the position of every atom specified by something like 10 bits of information. This would not strain the information-carrying capacity of the brain... The search for rules, the only possible way to understand such a vast and complex universe, is called science.” (Carl Sagan, Broca’s Brain, 1974)

26) Minicams have now been developed that can be ingested as pills to photograph the internal walls of the intestines. The 1.18 inch camera transmits two images each second to a receiver attached to the patients belt. This procedure may eliminate most of 8.2 million endoscopy procedures performed each year. It might be possible soon to have movies made of one’s own intestinal tract, and there will certainly be a market for this because the breadth and intensity of human curiosity seems to know no limits. How do you replace the flashbulbs in such a small camera?

27) Sleep has been the subject of research for many years. Recent information suggests that getting adequate sleep may be related to prevention of such diseases as diabetes, obesity and enhances longevity. It works like this: the stress hormone cortisol drops to low levels in the evening, adding to the effect of melatonin-induced drowsiness. During sleep the cortisol gradually increases and helps energize the body after a good night’s sleep. Too little sleep for as little as a week, can lead to low levels of cortisol, typical in elderly people. Growth hormone is secreted during `slow-wave’ deep sleep which alternates during the night. Lack of sleep at a young age can reduce the hormone levels and increase the proportion of fat in the body (leading to development of stomach fat). Another hormone, Leptin, is influenced by sleep levels, and insufficient sleep leads to a drop in Leptin and causes a craving of carbohydrates. Other studies suggest that lack of sleep results in decline in immunity against infections because of inadequate white blood cell counts and immune response modifiers. Another study yet, speculates that lack of darkness, sleep disrupted by late-night light, can contribute to the epidemic of breast cancer. Melatonin secreted at night is less and the levels of estrogen are correspondingly higher, a precursor to breast cancer for some. All tests suggest that eight hours sleep is the optimum, even for adults.

28) More on aging: The very process of cloning can determine the rate of aging according to recent results reported by researchers at Advanced Cell Technology, Worcester, Massachusetts. Six calves that they cloned appear biologically younger than their contemporaries because the cloned calves’ cells produce higher levels of a certain protein. Also, the cloned calves’ chromosome ends, called telomeres, are longer. Both of these biological characteristics are typical of younger animals. The ultimate proof, however, will take more than twenty-two years because that is the normal life expectancy of cows who’s lives are not preempted by slaughter.

“The cloning technique is slightly different than that used to create Dolly, the sheep who appears to be biologically older than her chronological age and was cloned from a mammary cell in 1997. Researchers forcibly stopped cell division in the DNA donor cell that created Dolly to induce a resting phase. By contrast, the DNA donor cells used to create the cloned calves were still actively dividing.” (“Popular Science”, August 2000) Impact: This discovery brings technology one step closer to cloning human organs from a person’s own cells to replace damaged or diseased body parts. Are we rapidly moving toward our own immortality?

29) If you have a penchant for searching religious scriptures and prophecies for clues about life in the 21st century, it might be useful to consider the research breakthroughs about cloning and restoring species from DNA fragments, as analogous to “Resurrection.” What are the other phenomena predicted by prophecy besides “Wars and rumors of wars?” Plagues -- AIDs, and what about a cure?

Is that part of the second coming (or first depending on your persuasion) of a Messiah? Is a society that tolerates freedom of religious expression and indeed encourages belief, analogous to the predicted “Millennium”? The improvements in public health, medicare and socialized medicine in many countries are among the kernels of truth for any holy order. “Physician heal thyself.” Can we make our own healthy Paradise here on Earth?

30) What are Man’s most fundamental needs. These can be broken into two broad categories, physiological needs and psychological needs.

Physiological needs include those basic biological issues of food and nutrition, clean air, defecation, sanitation and maintenance of body temperature. I believe a need for flat surfaces is also basic. (see Quintus Stele: Homo sapiens, verse 12) Many people feel that sex drives create needs, but others have found a virtue in denying or suppressing these, so the jury is out. Likewise avoiding pain for some is considered essential, but the threshold of pain is so subjective that it would be nearly impossible to create a consensus of what is painful and what isn’t, so let’s avoid that discussion. Protection from danger is easy to understand, except in those cases where people jump out of airplanes (skydivers) for the thrill (or go to war) and the adrenaline rush they get makes dangerous activity compelling and repetitive. Getting sleep is probably a biological necessity, although how much we each need is arguable. But understanding all these, and the role each plays in our lives is useful to understanding ourselves as unique individuals.

31) Psychological needs are just as compelling and make us more human than the aforementioned biological needs. The self-concept we develop, our self-esteem, is fundamentally what propels us into society and keeps us in the action of life.

This self-concept seems to involve many interrelated needs. Affection might conveniently be listed first, since that is basic to proper infant development. The need for the deep affection of at least one other person continues throughout life and contributes to our ental health. (The corollary to this is that we must make sure that we tell our loved ones how they meet that need for us, thus we are fulfilling their need at the same time.)

We have a need for Approval that runs a close second to affection. The infant recognizes the meaning of a smile very early in its role as a signal of approval.

Children who don’t get enough or proper attention from their parents may act out, misbehave, until they get some attention, even though this is punishment. The extreme case is the infamous criminal. Proper Approval early might prevent this.

On the positive side of that attention is Acceptance. Man is a social animal and being part of groups is compelling for most well adjusted people. Street gangs are a paradigm group that fulfills this need for some.

Autonomy is less important for children, but a mature adult will likely seek a unique identity. Those who excel at athletics very young or child proteges are often displaying this need for autonomy at an earlier age.

Less universal is a need for Achievement, winning. This is usually regarded as an inculturated need, clearly suppressed in ascetic cultures such as Hindu, although reaching nirvana would be winning big-time.

Prestige is a strong motivating factor, and need not be negative if obtained through socially rewarding activities. It is a constructive and inculturated response in a civilized community.

Conformity to one’s conscience or integrity of personality are often regarded as instinctual needs that eventually become manifest in humans in the form of religions or taboos. Once we are connected to a society, most of us feel well disposed to participate in it, extending our natural inclination to nurture our biological children into a social conscience to help others. This is circular and gives satisfaction that feeds a healthy self-concept, taking us back to the point of beginning.

Part of the art of life is balancing all these needs in positive and healthy ways. In a mature person the psychological needs assume greater importance, because we tend to take the easy to satisfy biological needs for granted. Those needs which are not or cannot be satisfied become sore points and create animosities toward those people who obstruct them, such as a feckless monarch. If you are put into the role of counseling a chagrined friend, reviewing this inventory of needs may provide a useful exercise that could help without requiring clinical attention or a degree in psychology.

32) There is an interesting field of study (something parallel to astrology) for the human body: Psycho-neuro-immunology. Practitioners of these theories suggest that physical manifestations occur because the body is the playing field of our emotions, and where our mind goes, our bodies follow. There is probably some truth to this, but it is always wise to take such advice with a grain of salt, that nutritional component will likely make any proffered cure more effective.

On to Vicesimus Quattuor Stele - Culture - Art
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