Despite the dire predictions saturating yesterday’s news, last night’s “supermoon” didn’t precipitate too many cosmic cataclysms or harmonic convergences here in Cottonmouth County. The toilets still flush clockwise and my internet connection remains intact. Sometimes intact internet connections bum me out, but today I was pleased to discover among the emails a communiqué from Athena Andreadis, molecular neurobiologist, author, and my new idol.
In her email Ms Andreadis expressed general solidarity, curled a lip at “the Tarzanism of the self-labeled progressive intellectuals” (the Dawkinses of which group I pooh-poohed in yesterday’s post), then turned me on to her blog, Astrogator’s Logs.
As superintendent of the Savage Death Island Spinstitute for No. 1 Science Information, I am delighted, in turn, to turn you on to her blog. Her essays have titles like “Girl Cooties Menace the Singularity!” and do not disappoint. Behold an excerpt from “Blastocysts Feel No Pain,” a recent piece bursting with No. 1 Science Information, on the misogyny of blastocyst-worship, the handiness of stem cells, the crappiness of the “Protect Life” Act, and the redoubtable power of politicians to enslave women as fetusbags.
Despite fulminations to the contrary, women never make reproductive decisions lightly since their repercussions are irreversible, life-long and often determine their fate. Becoming a human is a process that is incomplete even at birth, since most brain wiring happens postnatally. Demagoguery may be useful to lawyers, politicians and control-obsessed fanatics. But in the end, two things are true: actual humans are (should be) much more important than potential ones – and this includes women, not just the children they bear and rear; and embryonic stem cells, because of their unique properties, may be the only path to alleviating enormous amounts of suffering for actual humans.
Ms Andreadis avers that, loosely speaking, blastocyst : human :: acorn : oak. Imagine (and this lumpen speculation is purely my invention; don’t go blaming it on Athena) if the Oak People were as loony over acorns as godbag humans are over clumps of cells. My horses hang around under oak trees all day waiting for acorns to fall, so they can eat them with some fava beans and a nice chianti.* If they didn’t get eaten, the zillions of acorns that happened to land in hospitable spots would become irksome, ankle-shredding shrubs, eventually choking the life out of each other in a slo-mo battle royale over water, sun, and nutrients. Providing sustenance to furry woodland creatures is what the vast majority of acorns do. Everybody (except the people who have to rake them up) accepts the happy outcome of this reasonable arrangement with grace and dignity, which is why you won’t see gangs of sapped-up timber from the Society for Compulsory Arborosity running around like mad trying to force all these acorns into seedlings; this would kill the adult trees and starve the forest critters. Also, timber can’t run.
Nobody needs every flippin’ embryo to turn into a baby, either, but stem cells can actually improve the circumstances of persons who are already humans.
If you catch my drift.
* Yes, I am aware that acorns are toxic to horses. Fastidious raking keeps them (the horses) alive, but the equine aptitude for acorn-spotting is remarkable for animals with brains the size of plums.