Sunday, January 13, 2013

Influenza, Nostalgia, Science, Ethics, and Me

(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, used w/o permission)
"A Weekly Influenza Surveillance Report Prepared by the Influenza Division"
(Week ending January 5, 2013)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) noted that we've now got a flu epidemic in America. I see that Canada has a similar problem:
I posted a short list of resources from the CDC and NIH yesterday, plus why it's okay to stay healthy:
Believing that being healthy, and trying to stay that way, is okay may seem obvious. Folks get odd ideas now and then, and I'll get back to that.

Nostalgia and Current Events

My guess is that a hundred years or so from now, some folks will yearn for 'those wonderful decades of the early 21st century.'

Comparing their current events to the best of this era, it may seem that in the 'good old days' of 2013 people were good; and kind; and devout; and all was right with the world.

That's not what I'm experiencing right now, but I'm living in this period: not looking back on it through rose colored glasses.

Science, Technology, Religion, and the 'Good Old Days'

It seems easy to look back at 'simpler' times, and forget unpleasant details. Here's part of why I don't miss the 'good old days:'
Loathing technology was fashionable recently. Maybe it was an overreaction to the earlier notion that science and technology will solve all our problems. I think both ideas are silly, but I can see how someone could believe either.

Today, most Americans have become accustomed to clean water and comparatively good health. Many of us also have to deal with smog, traffic jams, and daytime television programming.

Folks living in the 19th and early 20th centuries were becoming accustomed to a fairly steady stream of inventions, including:
  • 1801 to 1899
    • Anesthesia
    • Antiseptics
    • The Jacquard Loom
    • The McCormick reaper
    • Steam locomotives
    • The telegraph
    • A variety of electric lighting devices
      ( 1800s)
  • 1900 to 1950
    • Air conditioners
    • Kidney dialysis machines
    • Neon lights
    • Penicillin
    • Talking motion pictures
    • Radio transmitters and receivers
    • Zeppelins
      • Okay: so not all inventions caught on
      ( 1900s)
While this was going on, a remarkable number of loudly-religious folks were insisting that Earth was about 6,000 years old, and that science was evil.

Small wonder that some folks who preferred health to disease, and didn't fear learning more about this astounding universe, started wondering whether "religion" made sense.

I decided that God makes sense, and that religion isn't necessarily a psychiatric condition. I also became a Catholic.

Using Our Brains

Getting back to staying healthy, and odd ideas: I think health and life are precious. I also think that God gave each of us a brain, and expects us to use it.

Being able to do something doesn't necessarily mean it's okay, though: which reminds me of Marlowe's Faust, movies like "The Man With the X-Ray Eyes," and that's another topic. (November 28, 2011)

Our intentions, what we want to accomplish, matter, but 'doing evil that good may follow' isn't allowed. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1759)

Health and Ethics

Some folks are famous for letting themselves get sick, like Saint Damien of Molokai. Not that he tried to get sick, and that's almost another topic. (May 11, 2010)

Although risking life and health for the sake of others can be a good idea, the Catholic Church says that staying alive and healthy is also a good idea:
"Life and physical health are precious gifts entrusted to us by God. We must take reasonable care of them, taking into account the needs of others and the common good."
(Catechism, 2288)
On the other hand, obsession with health and fitness is a very bad idea. (Catechism, 2289)

More good ideas:
  • Scientific research
  • Organ transplants
    (Catechism, 2296)
Organ transplants are fine, but not killing someone and breaking down the body for parts: not even if someone else really needs a transplant. It's those pesky 'ethics' again. (Catechism, 2296)

Ethics and an Infected Tooth

On a more personal note, one of my teeth needs to be removed. A premolar that's been rebuilt twice finally got an infection around the root. I'm quite sure that trying to fix that tooth earlier, and removing it now, is taking "reasonable care" of my health.

By noon tomorrow, I'll have one less tooth. After that, the question is whether it makes sense to try replacing it: and if so, which of several methods to use.

If it was just a matter of having an attractive smile, I wouldn't bother with any sort of replacement. That premolar served a function, though: and leaving a gap might affect other teeth. It's hardly a 'life or death' decision, happily.

The sort of "vanity" involved here is more of the Eccliastes 1:2 preoccupation with worldly things, than being overly concerned about appearance: and that's - you guessed it - yet another topic. (November 6, 2010)

Somewhat-related posts:

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Marian Apparition: Champion, Wisconsin

Background:Posts in this blog: In the news:

What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.