Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Labor vs. leisure

Did I tell you my local neurologist was cool, or what? He responded to my email about the labor vs. leisure class distinction relating to the "extreme athlete" hunch regarding ALS causation. Most other doctors would merely sniff in a superior way and ignore patients' theories. Not mine. I have edited the emails only to leave out identifying information, and crude sexual jokes:

-----Original Message-----
Sent: Tuesday, September 14, 2004 4:37 PM
Subject: extreme athletes


Regarding the idea of extreme athlete water intake leading to an
accumulation of trace toxins in the motor nerves, you'd think it would
have shown up, historically, in a difference in ALS incidence between
labor classes and leisure classes. Hard labor, and slave labor, are
extreme sports.

From: doc
Date: September 15, 2004 7:58:11 AM PDT
To: brainhell
Subject: RE: extreme athletes

Maybe it did...then again, labor and slave classes probably didn't live
into their 40's, long enough to get the disease and it wasn't id'd til
the 1860's anyway.

From: brainhell
Date: September 15, 2004 9:07:05 AM PDT
To: doc
Subject: Re: extreme athletes

Good points. But in the post-Civil War era there was a long period of rather intense manual labor (without the benefit of strong trade unions), and a leisure class to compare too. It's true that people in those classes would tend to be overlooked, and not get the best medical care, or diagnosis. Probably these people would be called lazy, or lame. I had a gay friend who described working in a bakery with a bunch of other gay people, and how they used to make fun of this one guy for getting sick all the time, and saying he was tired. That was in the early-1980s. Later, my friend was mortified that they may have been picking on someone with an early case of AIDS.

The incidence of ALS is pretty low anyway, but there may have been some chance to observe a difference in leisure vs. labor classes. And in much of the world to this day there are people who are essentially coolies, working with their bodies all day. One would think it would show up.

After lunch we begin our road trip.

On the way back from dropping off my son at prechool this morning, I saw some bushes where someone (may I presume teenagers?) had stuffed a lot of trash, fast food wrappers, and beverage containers into the bushes on both sides of the sidewalk. This is between the high school and the middle school, a place where lots of kids pass very day.

I almost kept going, but then I turned back, and picked up all the trash. I walked home with ants crawling on my arms. I put the trash in our bin and washed my hands thoroughly.

My thinking was that, when those kids made a display of their littering, they were doubtless going to stroll by later the same day in order to enjoy it. My thinking was to deny them that pleasure, and maybe unsettle them a little bit. I don't imagine I could shame them, but just for a brief instance they might wonder why someone (some adult?) would so rapidly clean up the mess. It would perhaps give them the momentary impression that they do not understand the motives of all the actors in this world.

Or they might think there was some kind of city janitorial service that routinely cleans up litter. I was not a litterer when I was a kid (I was a smartass in lots of other ways), but that was my theory when I saw all the litter by our schools being cleaned up. It never once occurred to me that neighbors were gathering it.
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