photos by E. Eugene Smith (1949)
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Well, this is interesting. In a report released two years ago but which apparently got very little media play, the British Medical Journal reported a survey of pregnancies in the US that indicated 1 in 200 such pregnancies were self-reported as occurring without sexual intercourse; in other words, human parthenogenesis.
Now…BIG caveat with this survey:
The women reporting are self-reporting; there is no objective way to verify their sexual activity or lack there of. Some of them may not have understood what was meant by sexual activity (for example, what we’d refer to as heavy petting over clothing), others may have been lying either consciously or unconsciously.
Any woman who had child that doesn’t match
the mother’s DNA exactly may be presumed
to have had some sort of sexual contact
But…at the very least this report would suggest that the idea of human parthenogenesis, long pooh-poohed by skeptics, may not be beyond the realm of possibility after all.
The Anti-Theist vs Young Earth Creationist hissy fit continues apace, with both sides screaming “Is not! / Is, too!” at each other ad infinitum.
The truth, as always, seems to elude both of them.
Latest clue to the puzzle points us back into the depths of interstellar space again.
“Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, which are important ingredients of life on Earth,” the study’s lead author, Arnaud Belloche, of the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy… The detection of a molecule with a branched carbon backbone in interstellar space, in a region where stars are being formed, is interesting because it shows that interstellar chemistry is indeed capable of producing molecules with such a complex, branched structure.”
So in other words, more evidence that life may have originated off of this planet instead of on it, and if it did originate on Earth then it may have still be significantly changed and irrevocably altered by extraterrestrial influence.
Bad news for the Anti-Theists:
Intelligent Design can’t be taken off the table since there is no way of determining where & how life originated.
Bad news for the Creationists:
Billions and billions of years, poindexters.
Good news for the rest of us:
Ain’t the universe wonderful?
“The zombie scenario goes as follows: imagine that you have a doppelgänger. This person physically resembles you in every respect, and behaves identically to you; he or she holds conversations, eats and sleeps, looks happy or anxious precisely as you do. The sole difference is that the doppelgänger has no consciousness; this – as opposed to a groaning, blood-spattered walking corpse from a movie – is what philosophers mean by a ‘zombie’.
“Such non-conscious humanoids don’t exist, of course. (Or perhaps it would be better to say that I know I’m not one, anyhow; I could never know for certain that you aren’t.) But the point is that, in principle, it feels as if they could. Evolution might have produced creatures that were atom-for-atom the same as humans, capable of everything humans can do, except with no spark of awareness inside. As Chalmers explained: “I’m talking to you now, and I can see how you’re behaving; I could do a brain scan, and find out exactly what’s going on in your brain – yet it seems it could be consistent with all that evidence that you have no consciousness at all.” If you were approached by me and my doppelgänger, not knowing which was which, not even the most powerful brain scanner in existence could tell us apart. And the fact that one can even imagine this scenario is sufficient to show that consciousness can’t just be made of ordinary physical atoms. So consciousness must, somehow, be something extra – an additional ingredient in nature.” – Oliver Burkeman, “Why can’t the world’s greatest minds solve the mystery of consciousness?”
“The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race. It would take off on its own, and re-design itself at an ever-increasing rate. Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn’t compete, and would be – wait, no, what am I saying? Nah, that could never happen. Forget I even brought it up. Say, how about them Kardashians, huh?”
out along the cygnus wall
where great star factories roam
a trillion miles from nowhere
is a place that we call home
and it’s not much to live on
but it’s mighty grand to see
a nice place to think about
but a nicer place to be
you’ll find worlds by the thousands
of every kind and size
kingdoms made of diamonds
bright heavens made of sighs
cold hells made of heartaches
colder hearts made of stone
find anything you want
when you call the wall your home
no one lives forever
yet no one really dies
when your heart’s in the heavens
of the grand cygnus skies
photo © Nick Pavelchak
text © Buzz Dixon
with a tip of the space helmet
to Robert Service
and Rudyard Kipling
I’ve been asked, “But what about adoption for unwanted children?”
To that I say:
and even more
That is the best, most humane solution to the problem of a woman’s unwanted pregnancy. It’s a perfect example of “pony up”. Give that child a stable, loving home. Raise it to its full potential. Personally assume that responsibility.
A blessing for the child
A blessing for the parent
A blessing for the society
GO FOR IT!
Cartoonist Lauren Weinstein was told that the child she was carrying had a high (1-in-4) chance of carrying the cystic fibrosis gene to such an extreme degree that it might require a lung transplant before age 5. Weinstein tells the story of her nerve-wracking three week wait to find out if this would be the case in her story “Carriers” (parts one / two / three / four / five).
It has a happy ending and
her daughter was born
Many reading her story will rejoice, but say to themselves,
“If it had been me, I would have never even thought of terminating my pregnancy.”
Good for you.
I mean that.
I want you to have a choice.
Just like I want Lauren to have a choice.
Just like I want billions of other women to have a choice.
Because nobody knows what is best for a woman and the pregnancy she is carrying other than that woman herself.
She gets to make her own decisions.
Just as you get to make your own decisions.
She’s certainly entitled to seek medical advice and/or moral support from others, but in the end, she is the one who has to either see it through to a live birth or terminate it.
It is, quite simply and quite literally,
And I drop the f-bomb very deliberately & in its sexual context to get the point across:
Not your uterus,
not your problem,
not your responsibility,
most certainly not your business,
If you’re serious about wanting to reduce the number of abortions in the world today, see to it that birth control is reliable, available, and inexpensive (free would be best; we can pay for it with the money we would otherwise spend incarcerating unwanted/abused/neglected children who grow up to be addicts and/or felons).
See to it that sex education is universal, pragmatic, sensible, and easy to understand. Wishful thinking, no matter how devoutly inspired, does not trump science or the realities of human nature. Be prepared for and compassionate to people who make messy mistakes; there but for the grace of God…
See to it that no mother ever has to worry about affording a safe place to raise her child, or how she will feed her child, or pay for her child’s health care, or her child’s education (you can slice a fraction off the defense budget for this; we can somehow squeak by with only 999 new jet fighters instead of 1,000).
…or shut up.
The Comics Reporter,
for the tip off