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Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

Here is the test to find whether your mission on earth is finished. If you’re alive, it isn’t. ~Richard Bach

If you happen to run into me today, please give a kiss and a hug and congratulate me on not being dead yet.

It’s the 17th of May again, an anniversary I have, for 11 years, marked by not being dead. It was emergency bypass surgery that made the still alive thing keep happening, a holiday adventure in Singapore I’m not likely to forget, and although not high on the fun-and-games factor, it was one of the best trips I’ve ever made.

Being alive, I keep writing, and usually on the 17th of May I jot down pondererings on aspects of life I tend to take for granted much of the rest of the days I walk and breathe and watch a sunrise.

On the 16th of May, 1999, I was abruptly informed that I was somewhere between one and thirty days of a fatal heart attack … news that almost caused one right there and then. By the 17th I’d been sliced and diced and given a new lease, and although open-ended and loaded with get-out clauses for the lessor, I’m still not complaining.

Had I died back then I would have missed a lot. Some of it total shit, for sure, as at that time I was a reasonably content woman and had not buried any child of mine. I could have predicted little that has happened since, if anything, but I guess that’s a good thing.

Of course, Sam and Cj are bonuses beyond belief, and although they would have come into the world without me since I had nothing to do with their creation, missing out on being their mother would have been a real gyp.

I’d like to think that the end of me would have taken some residual good stuff with it; there would be a bit less music and much fewer words around, and maybe … just maybe … I’ve done some good for someone somewhere over these years of gravy that pay toward my price of admission.

Checking off another year prompts more than reflection, though, as each 17th of May I wonder about the 364 days until the next one and what they might bring. Sorry to say I don’t do this with as much joy and wonder as I should, but rather with no little fear that I might not be able to pull off another whole year.

That low-hanging sword serves to remind me life is a short option under any circumstance, and although I have little fear of being dead I can be terrified of potential alternatives.

This is the time of year I want to grab every bit of life I can by the collar, pull it close and squeeze as much out of it as I can. My patience grows thin now … not that it’s ever very thick … and a welling sense of panic creeps over me that too much is passing too quickly.

It’s not a case of feeling compelled to climb Everest or fling myself out of airplanes. No. My bucket list is pretty damned simple.

Item number one for the last some years was having all four of my kids under the same roof with me at the same time. That is no longer possible, but I do hope those of us still around share space someday.

I would like to feel safe and be happy for as long a time as possible, as that would be a whole new experience that would be nice to have for a while … just to check it out.

Watching mountain gorillas and seeing Venice … not at the same time, thankyouverymuch … are about as close to conventional if-I-can-before-I-croak dreams.

A sense of settled with some idea of what just might happen over the next month or two or six would be nice, too.

Perhaps all that will happen … maybe this year, even. Perhaps not. The point is, however, I am still along for the ride, and good, bad or indifferent, I’m bloody grateful to be here.

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During a long and pleasant conversation with Tom yesterday, we covered a bit of the territory involving the latest palaver over the … dumb da dumb doomend of the world, which according to some nut case in Oakland should be rolling around a week from Saturday.

May 21, 2011, is the latest attempt to get a jump on Judgment Day, courtesy of Oakland, Calif.-based Family Radio, a nonprofit evangelical Christian group.

Apparently, this particular flavor of nut has cracked before, but this time is really sure.

Family Radio, whose president, Harold Camping, predicted the End of Days before: Sept. 6, 1994. Camping had been “thrown off a correct calculation because of some verses in Matthew 24,” a company spokesman told ABC News this month.

The Christian radio broadcaster is apparently more confident this time around, spending big bucks on 5,000 billboards, posters, fliers and digital bus displays across the country.

And why not? Spend, spend and spend some more, I say, as what the hell else would one do on the last days?

Really. What?

Say the end really is nigh, there’s a week or a month or a year left before the planet explodes, implodes, offloads … whatever … and we somehow know this to be fact.

What?

What do we do differently?

Okay, we spend time with our loved ones, touch all the bases that need touching, convey all the emotions as best we can. Depending on the time allowed, perhaps we watch the sunset from a pyramid or ride to the top of the Eiffel Tower or swim the English Channel or otherwise check off bucket-list items.

Some might choose to get in all the get-backs they’ve been venomizing over for years. but the idea of taking an enemy out loses impact when we’re all in for it, dunnit? Why do some asshole the favor of an early checkout?

And there’s the point … we ARE all in for it. Sure, probably not at the same time under the same circumstances in the same conflagration or whatever, but the fact o’ the matter is, none of us get out of this alive so we might as well live as if we’ll die someday, somehow, somewhere.

That, of course, is hardly the point of the predictors of pending extinction, however, and maybe … just maybe … they’ve got the better handle on the big picture: End of the World = money in the bank.

Those who buy into the idea might very well run up their credit cards in what they are convinced is a “live for today” frenzy, but there’s hell to pay if they’ve been sold a bill of goods that doesn’t deliver.

For some, though, it delivers well enough …

Edgar Whisenant didn’t get it right the first time, either, when he predicted a mid-September 1988 Rapture, even publishing the books “88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988” and “On Borrowed Time.” No Apocalypse, no problem. The former NASA engineer simply pushed his predictions off to three subsequent years and wrote books along the way, none of which reportedly sold as well as the first two.

Interestingly, there’s no little advice on stuff you should have on hand to … and this I so don’t get … survive the end of the world.

Here’s just one list:

# Canned food something that does not need refrigeration
# Canned meats, spam , chicken, tuna etc you need at least 3 ounces of protein per person per day.
# Water can be stored in the 2 ½ gallon containers with the pour spout which are sturdy and easily stackable. Other sources of emergency water are discussed in the water section.
# Blankets should be available for all
# Water filter Brita or pump type
# Sugar cubes for energy, breakfast bars
# Small grill , propane barbeque or camping grill ( power is likely to be out)
# Cash for purchases if the power is out using small bills because change may not be possible.
# Parachute cord 100ft 550 pound test
# Duct tape one roll to seal around doors and window, tape bags together for emergency shelter or rain gear, and general mending.
# Needles and thread just sturdy thread clothes will need to be mended and occasionly a cut will need to be sewn shut as well
# Survival manual one that has a lot of pictures and information in it several are recommended on this site
# Plastic tarps with grommets at least 2 of 10 ft x 10ft each.
# Plastic coated playing cards
# Battery operated radio preferably crank type rechargeable and two changes of batteries
# Dishwashing soap and clean dish towels 2 or paper towels water can be scarce
# Manual can opener either the ecko hand crank type or the smaller survival type
# Trash bags 30 gallon or larger two for each person with twist ties. They can be used as emergency ponchos, trash bags, emergency toilets ( the plumbing may not work)
# Buy a 3 gallon paint bucket, one cheap toilet seat $5 and use the seat on the bucket and deodorise with aqua chem, an RV tank sanitizer to control the smell. Otherwise twist tie the bag closed it will smell bad in a confined area.
# Some sturdy dishes metal plates work fine and can be found at camping stores. A family sized mess kit will have pots plates and cups inside along with some silverware usually but check it.
# One or more really good flashlights. The new LED lights use a lot less power and last longer than regular bulbs.
# Bug repellent larger size since bugs will come in out of the rain as well
# General medications like aspirin ibuprophen, pepto bismol, mouthwash,
# Deodorant you may be living cramped for quite a while and a couple of washcloths and towels.
# Air matteresses are good but blankets and bedding are a must for sleeping.
# Candles the power is likely to be out a long time and it gets real dark without it.
# Box of wooden matches in plastic with the striker so they do not get wet
# Butane lighter at least one more is better one of the long ones to light the candles and stoves
# Coleman lantern and Coleman stove
# Two gallons of the liquid fuel they are interchangeable and it can be used to start a barbeque pit or wood fire later if the wood is wet.
# Prescription medications at least enough for two weeks lots of times you can get a 30 day supply for travel etc and just rotate it out to keep it fresh.
# Towels and wash cloths with a bar of soap
# Diapers and extra trash bags if you have infant children any lotions or powders you may need and dry or canned formula.
# Several changes of clothing which are comfortable and right for the season
# Tooth paste and brushes
# A portable toilet seat and extra 20 gallon size trash bags with wire ties for your shelter if indoors.
# Handy wipes or baby wipes, water may make cleaning up difficult.
# Sanitary napkins for any women likely.

Well, that could push the edges of the credit envelope, but if the 22 of May dawns there’s always next year … Yikes! 2012! … to fall back on if MasterCard comes a knocking.

Think I might just put together a series of eBooks on fun stuff to do in those last 48 hours of Earth …

Amorous Armageddon: End of the World Sex That’s Out of This World ($9.99)

Ashes, Ashes All Fall Down: Entertaining Kids In the Final Hours ($9.99)

Sudden Death: Fun Games for Judgment Day($9.99)

… and an iPhone app that will send and manage goodbyes, last wishes, apologies and excuses in 4,000 languages. ($1.99)

Better get on this before the world ends, or I do …

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cognition
kägˈni sh ən
noun
the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses.

It seems science is well on the way to proving that, yes indeed, thoughts actually are things, but not in ways many like to consider them to be. Creative visualization for example, the process of wishful thinking that is said to have the power to produce desired results, could now be touted as little more than a molecule doing the backstroke in chemical soup.

It’s this article titled “Evolution of cognition might be down to brain chemistry”, in New Scientist that’s stirring the chowder this morning:

“Brain metabolism probably played an important role in evolution of human cognition,” Khaitovich says, “and one of the potentially most important changes was in glutamate metabolism.”

Glutamate is the “brain’s main energy metabolite”, he says. “And as the main excitatory neurotransmitter it is responsible for virtually every possible cognitive task, including learning and memory.”

Apparently glutamate is not thought, but rather the chemical that “that energises brain cells and ferries messages between them” — the grease on the wheels, so to speak — but there’s no doubt a search is on for the chemical … a combo of chems, perhaps tweaked with a jolt of electro-juice? … that is ideas and concepts.

How much of who and what we are is simple biology — not “simple” in an it’s-easy-to-grasp way, but will someday be a cinch to quantify — is a question I ponder often these days.

David Kingsley of Stanford University in California was not involved in the study, but his team recently revealed genetic differences accounting for humans’ larger brains. “It’s clear that humans have accumulated some interesting differences in the thinking regions of the brain,” he says. “It will be interesting to see how such differences arise from changes in our genomes and those of our closest relatives.”

Are we nothing more than a link on an evolutionary chain with reactions dictated by a dollop of this and a drip of that? Do we fall in love because the smell of someone trips a switch that floods our brain with a feel-good bisque? Is art created out primal dictates to pass along DNA? Are dreams just random spurts in some electro-chemical tango that hears sleep as a beat? Is thirst for knowledge simply an inner empty road we’re primed to navigate for the heck of it?

If this is all we are, biological beings at the mercy of meat and related juice, then … well … the point would be … ?

As meat au jus with glutamate, and whatever else has yet to be identified … My Self Glutamate sounds tenderizing … perhaps all these thought things are merely distractions; jingling keys that draw attention away from the tedious process of living only to eat, shit and reproduce, the true mandates if there is nothing more to us.

What we are has longed seemed to me a waste of evolutionary energy, however. If a hummingbird developed speedy wings and a long beak to fit a niche … if mandrills grew glorious asses because dense jungle habitat favored those who could keep track of others … if hibernation preserved life in cold climates (and, yes, all that did happen) … then why, oh why, did humans become so over-engineered in the thoughts/dreams/creation department instead of growing thicker hair and perfecting the art of arboreal living?

Why must the chemicals in my head put words into verse? What is the evolutionary benefit in concertos and cubism? Where does a broken heart fit into the picture? And why is there any picture at all?

If all this thought stuff is just a series of shiny objects grabbing our attention for a while as we plod, perhaps they’re what keep us plodding. Maybe the chemical for ego is the difference between offing ourselves out of sheer boredom and sticking around long enough to eat, shit and reproduce.

Given the state of the world, however, that prospect seems an evolutionary shot that backfired since just about everything else on our planet would be better off were we not so wrapped up in what we think are our thoughts, and may very well result in us doing ourselves in.

Awash in MSG as I am at the moment, I can’t help but go back to the combo of chemicals that has me asking again:

And the point would be … ?

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A jar of miracle ... make do

“All the tales of miracles, with which the Old and New Testament are filled, are fit only for impostors to preach and fools to believe”
~ Thomas Paine

Growing up as I did with spells of Catholicism constantly cast in my general direction, the idea of miracle cures seemed … well … reasonable for a while. The film version of St. Bernadette’s escapades at Lourdes did much to solidify images of the manifestations made possible by just enough faith to draw the attention of the Man Upstairs toward the suffering of those who jumped through the right hoops and deserved to be healed.

I was probably about ten when it dawned that such concepts pretty much left anyone unhealed in the shit pile of undeserving, a concept contrary to all those warm fuzzies created through the magic of Hollywood and the smoke and mirrors of Rome, and although I will to this day still acknowledge occasional unexplainable restorations of health and the sometimes-effective wonders of modern medicine the idea of miraculous cures seem nothing but more marketing of snake oil in various flavors for the obvious benefit of those collecting the profits.

I do understand the motivation behind the desperately ill, the hopelessly condemned; when there’s nothing left to do but grasp at straws the option can seem sensible, but since none of us get out of this alive, perhaps more than a bit futile or at most a temporary reprieve.

When a miracle can be bought at a reasonable price … a trip to France, maybe, or some set amount of hours on the knees while fingering beads X number of times … it’s a viable option for passing the time. Waiting for the magic to happen isn’t a bad way to spend that eleventh-hour, unless by doing so those last bits of life are sacrificed in the process.

When, however, attempts at intervention come in a jar labeled “Utter bollox at great cost”, the evil of canned hope becomes apparent, as evidenced in this article:

A Tanzanian pastor has asked people to stop going to his remote home for a “miracle cure” after thousands flocked there, causing chaos in the surrounding area.

Rev Ambilikile “Babu” Mwasapile, 76, says he does not want any new arrivals until after Friday 1 April, to let the crowds die down.

Local media report that about 52 people have died while waiting to see him.

A BBC reporter says the queues to see him stretch for 26km (16 miles).

Belief in magic and the powers of traditional healers are widespread in Tanzania.

Some witchdoctors say that the body parts of people with albinism are effective when making magic charms, leading to the killing of dozens of albinos in recent years.

The retired Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania preacher is sick and tired of the crowds of people who are yanking loved ones out of hospitals and making the trek to his village … while dying both before and after spending time and money … as “medical experts” investigate and debate the intrinsic value of his snake oil.

Yeah, sure … this is Africa and such mumbo-jumbo is part of the culture in many areas, but it’s not the only place claptrap flies to the detriment of others.

Although Africa is presently one scene of devastation in the name of remedy, that’s only because one cornucopia of crap has been virtually wiped out in the parts of the world that insist there’s a cure in them thar hairs.

Rhino populations in Africa are facing the “worst poaching crisis for decades,” say conservationists.

Over the past three years, gangs are said to have killed more than 800 rhinos for their horns, which can fetch £22,000 per kilo on the black market.

Experts fear the rise in poaching could undermine recent efforts to stabilise black and white rhino populations.

… t is estimated that 333 rhinos were killed in South Africa alone last year, with a further 70 being shot dead so far this year.

Conservationists suspect that most of the illegally harvested rhino horn are destined for the traditional medicine markets of South-East Asia, and the growing demand and high prices are fuelling the sharp rise in poaching.

We’re not even talking hopeless desperation here, since murdering a magnificent animal seems a fair enough tradeoff for comfort:

Rhino horn is a time-honored component of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). For thousands of years, TCM has credited rhino horn with the potency to cure an unusually wide array of maladies, from headaches to pus-filled boils–and even devil possession.

… Rhino horn has been an essential ingredient in traditional chinese medicine for centuries. An unfortunate proximity to China explains why the combined total of the three Asian rhino species (Javan, Sumatran, and greater one-horned rhino) is still smaller than Africa’s critically endangered black rhino population.

Despite China being a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and banning trade in rhinoceros horn and its derivatives in 1993, current rhino poaching levels suggest that the use of rhino horn continues unabated in traditional medicine markets.

According to Bernard Read’s 1931 translation of Li Shih-chen’s 1597 materia medica Pen Ts’ ao Kang Mu, rhino horn was prescribed for nearly everything: “To cure devil possession and keep away all evil spirits and miasmas. For gelsemium poisoning. To remove hallucinations and bewitching nightmares. Continuous administration lightens the body and makes one very robust. For typhoid, headache and feverish colds. For carbuncles and boils full of pus. For intermittent fevers with delirium. To expel fear and anxiety, to calm the liver and clear the vision. It is a sedative to the viscera, a tonic, antipyretic. It dissolves phlegm. It is an antidote to the evil miasma of hill streams. For infantile convulsions and dysentery. Ashed and taken with water to treat violent vomiting, food poisoning, and overdosage of poisonous drugs. For arthritis, melancholia, loss of the voice.”

Since rhino horn is made of the same stuff as fingernails … agglutinated hair … hiring nail biters to spit shards into a collection plate would make as much medical sense and perhaps save a species.

Of course, it seems our species … we furless bipedal wimps that we are … calculates our worth in profit-per-head, and it matters little if it’s grinding up albinos, raping child virgins or ridding the world of rhinos … tigers, bears, whatever … that generates income as long as someone can make a buck and others are so easily convinced to hand over their money for snake oil.

Perhaps there’s a way to turn this inborn stupidity to the advantage, however …

How about we try pushing the notion that powdered brain of greedy people will make one rich?

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I'll haunt the fuck outta you.

“The tender word forgotten, The letter you did not write, The flower you might have sent, dear, Are your haunting ghosts tonight” ~ Margaret Elizabeth Sangster

This post is not about a plea for sympathy, stirring up pre-grief or needing any bolstering, so, please, don’t react to the read with anything but the humor I intend to provoke.

The fact of anyone’s matter is that life is short, and then you die, so getting shook up about being assured that IS the future seems a silly, silly thing to do. We’d all live better if we did it as though each was our last day … the reality being each could be … and we do ourselves a disservice when we force such thoughts from our minds.

Sure, it all gets a bit busy and complicated to spend much time contemplating checking out, but letting the idea of the party continuing on without us soak in isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it helps a lot in enjoying the one we’re dancing in right now.

My biology dictates my life will not be long. My genetic code has more dashes than dots, minuses that shave minutes and hours and days and weeks and years from my tree of life, and that’s a fact I learned long ago to accept. Being rather okay with the idea that I’ll someday be dead, I’m grateful for the time I have … however long that might be.

I’ve made some really crappy lifestyle choices, often don’t eat right or get a good cardio workout nearly often enough. I have vices, am not picky about organic or GM, and have been known to have sex without a condom.

The fact that happened with “committed” partners and didn’t always provide protection brings up the other shit that has and will take a toll on my span … the effect of stress brought on by letting shitty people have power.

From the incompetent, lying peeps who are supposed to provide Internet connectivity, to the lyin’, cheatin’ scoundrels who pledged much more than that, disappointing results create huge pressures. Those who believe karma is the tit-for-tat to be expected would suggest I’ve earned the grief, and if that is the case I’ve most certainly paid off much of what debt I incurred in previous lives. (I must have been a real peach to have earned such pits!)

Today being today, I’m rather liking the idea of that haunting thing (Thanks for that, Jules!), seeing my face, a la Jacob Marly, popping up on door knockers … or someone else’s knockers … with a “Hey, asshole! Boo, fuckin’ BOO!, invading dreams (Why should YOU get any sleep, Fuckwad?), ratting pots and pans, creating havoc, breaking guitar strings mid-song over and over and over again, cutting Skype connections, hiding cell phones, giving icy-cold pinches to warm body parts … ooooh, the list goes on and on.

I could be good at this, but in the meantime I’ll enjoy the sunshine, the sound of birds, conversations with great friends and all the joyful wonders I have, and wait for an Internet connection to happen that will allow me to post this blog.

Betelgeuse! Betelgeuse! Betelgeuse!

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… And so it was done, and greed and hypocrisy spread over the Earth as god’s people went forth and divided.

It’s this article winding the Saturday clock today, titled: What the Flap Over Health Care Tells Us About American Religion.

That interesting juxtaposition of words caught my eye since the fact that there is a flap never ceases to amaze me and I’m often curious about religion, American or otherwise. Not curious in a “What’s it all about?” sense as much as “How does such a load of bollocks manage to fly?”, but curious, nonetheless.

One reason it does fly, apparently, has much to do with that hypocrisy thing:

We begin with the teachings of Jesus, for his message was clear.

He told his followers to care for the poor. In fact, providing for those he called “the least of these” was perhaps his highest priority. He didn’t say how to get that job done. He just said, Do it.

But in this richest nation on earth, where 75 percent of its people claim to be Christian, the poor — even the working poor — routinely fall through the cracks. One would think that Christians in this country would utilize “any means necessary” to make sure that no one in this country is homeless or starving or naked or without basic healthcare.

Indeed, one would think that the 75 percent of the nation’s population that claims to follow Jesus would rejoice when the government creates a tool to provide healthcare for virtually all the nation’s poor. And one would think that those same Christians would rise up in furious protest and righteous indignation when some politicians attempt to sabotage that tool — and thereby sabotage the nation’s poor.

But that seldom happens. In fact, many Christians denounce the health care law as a tool of the devil and support its repeal.

How odd.

Or is it?

The guy writing the piece makes a living off religion as “Distinguished Professor of Religion and Director of the Sider Institute for Anabaptist, Pietist, and Wesleyan Studies at Messiah College” … Huh? … so must be well invested in the idea that there’s value in them thar holy hills and pointing out an obvious disconnect is worth the effort it takes to do that.

To me, however, it seems a gianormous waste of time akin to trying to get Sarah Palin to shutthefuckup with the stupid shit by publishing every stupid shit thing she says. Wouldn’t it be easier to just state once and flatly that Palin is a moron and religion is a load of crap, then drop both subjects?

Is it helpful in the least to mention Frederick Douglas and Martin Luther King, as this article does, and their ponderings on the false virtue of sanctimonious pretense as an attempt at finger-wagging when sanctimonious pretense is the name of the game?

In fact, when Christians read the Bible through the lens of American individualism, limited government, and free-market conservatism, there is no way they can acknowledge what the Bible teaches about social justice and compassion for the poor.

A man who responded to one of my editorials, for example, complained, “No where does the Lord, or his Son, Jesus Christ, say that government should take care of the poor and downtrodden.”

Yeah … like that guy will be shamed by a finger-wag in his direction. Not bloody likely. But he will most certainly be proud as all get-out of his adherence to Christianity, consider it some sort of personal moral victory, trot it out often, wave it around and try to shove it down the necks of others.

A handy thing, a defining title, a membership in a club that conveys some version of gravitas; to be able to say “I’m a Christian” and have that taken to mean something significant.

The only question is this: how will America’s Christians respond?

I’m guessing … with greed and hypocrisy, as always.

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Inventive women …

A question came across my desk this morning, and after yesterday’s post on how useless I am concerning the practical matter of fixing things I thought I’d give this a bit of a follow.

Q. What do bulletproof vests, fire escapes, windshield wipers and laser printers have in common?

A. All were invented by women.

Cool.

Sure, some things attributed to the ingenuity of women may seem a bit girly … chocolate chip cookies, disposable diapers, ironing boards and the rolling pin, for example … but many are pretty damned butch and far more useful than just making it easier to keep things tidy.

It was a woman, Tabitha Babbitt, who in 1812 invented the circular saw and Stephanie Kwolek who came up with Kevlar, the steel-like fiber used in radial tires, crash helmets, and bulletproof vests, in 1966.

Women also invented street-cleaners, lamps and telescopes for submarines, the rotary engine and the medical syringe; all handy items the world would be less without.

It comes as no surprise at all, when you think about it, that it took a woman to think of such things as mufflers for engines, as guys are happy enough with big noises that can be translated to mean “power”, or that electric hot water heaters came to mind, then fruition.

Unfortunately, it’s impossible to track the results of womens’ genius back very far. In the US, it wasn’t until the late 1800s that women were allowed to own a patent, so when they did produce strokes of brilliance the credit had to be given to some guy, often a husband, to get the whatever recognized, protected and produced.

We’ll probably never know how many women inventors there were. That’s because in the early years of the United States, a woman could not get a patent in her own name. A patent is considered a kind of property, and until the late 1800s laws forbade women in most states from owning property or entering into legal agreements in their own names. Instead, a woman’s property would be in the name of her father or husband.

For example, many people believe that Sybilla Masters was the first American woman inventor. In 1712 she developed a new corn mill, but was denied a patent because she was a woman. Three years later the patent was filed successfully in her husband’s name.

This brings to mind the perspective that still exists in far too many minds and cultures that the female gender is somehow less than, a weak and wobbly stance supported by statements that go something like:

So … if women are do damned clever and equal, why was all the great stuff in the world produced by men?

Double-barreled, that, as Virginia Woolf so elegantly pointed out in her essay, A Room of One’s Own where she brilliantly illuminated dark corners where women were relegated rarely allowing personal and financial freedom to create much of anything other than a slew of children.

Woolf’s ‘invention’ of Shakespeare’s sister rather shot the whole notion of women-as-inferior in the foot for the reasonable:

In one section, Woolf invented a fictional character, Judith, “Shakespeare’s sister,” to illustrate that a woman with Shakespeare’s gifts would have been denied the same opportunities to develop them because of the doors that were closed to women. Like Woolf, who stayed at home while her brothers went off to school, Judith stays at home while William goes off to school. Judith is trapped in the home: “She was as adventurous, as imaginative, as agog to see the world as he was. But she was not sent to school.” Woolf’s prose holds all the hopes of Judith Shakespeare against her brother’s hopes in the first sentence, then abruptly curtails Judith’s chances of fulfilling her promise with “but.” While William learns, Judith is chastised by her parents should she happen to pick up a book, as she is inevitably abandoning some household chore to which she could be attending. Judith is betrothed, and when she does not want to marry, she is beaten and then shamed into marriage by her father. While Shakespeare establishes himself, Judith is trapped by the confines of the expectations of women. Judith kills herself, and her genius goes unexpressed, while Shakespeare lives on and establishes his legacy. For Woolf, Judith Shakespeare is an exemplification of the danger and waste in denying women education and the means to determine the course of their lives.

“A Room of One’s Own” is, by the way, a book I buy for almost every young woman I know, as it’s required reading as far as I’m concerned. Aside from providing a great name for a Smith’s song and a band, the thoughts and words conveyed in go a long way toward giving girls some context and encouraging growth in quite a few generations already.

I should probably be sending as a companion edition some how-to-it manuals and tool kits …

So, maybe I can’t fix my door handle or re-electric the hoogygidgets that aren’t doing what they should, but this has no reflection on the capabilities of women in general … and me individually … to change more in the world than a light bulb.

Not that I’m not bloody grateful for the stuff in my house that now works better than it did a week ago, and I’m quite happy to give credit where credit is due.

(Thanks, David.)

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