Colon Chronometry

WARNING:

This post contains intentional puns, and fairly POO-er jokes of the immature variety.

You have been warned.

Starts with our mouth, and ends with ... the other mouth.

Inspiration comes at the most awkward times.

This morning, during my WALK, it came to me that how fast, and in what order, things go in one end of my GI tract may come out differently.

Yes.  Some things go in all at the same time, and may not come out when expected.

Who knew?

Everyone!

After all, everyone poops.

However, the rate our GI tract interacts with that matter, and the rate the colon finally does its job seems to vary.

Maybe it doesn’t for you.  I can only speak personally.

I can also speak for those old people I met during Dad’s illness.  They talk about this a lot.

Some foods, beans for example, have particular affects where a lot of gas is produced.  For some people, this gas is produced and detected by others almost immediately.

For me, well, it takes a bit longer.  Maybe my system works at higher pressures?

Anyway, this whole new field has to look at all these things: the kind of food we’re eating, the time we eat it, our microbiome composition, the time of day we ate, our activities, how we’re feeling, our age, our family, our genetics, and probably even more.

What fun!

This way, when we’re old and gray, instead of having to bore our kids and grandkids with long stories about sitting on the throne, we can have a great shorthand science as a reference.

Who knows?  There may even be a pill that sorts everything out for us.

Wait a minute.  Isn’t there already something like that?

It’s time.  Gotta go.

Resurrecting The Ancient Biome

I’m big on biomes.  It’s so cool to think that instead of my mouth feeding only me, I’m actually feeding a few TRILLION other little mouths.

It sounds rather creepy in fact, but it’s still cool.

However, the fact that each of us carries an entire ecosystem of other creatures explains so many crazy things.  Like why some people develop intolerance to certain substances.  Or why some people respond so much better to certain drugs than others.  Or why some people can eat and eat and eat and not gain weight.  And so many other crazy things.

We're spaceships filled with voyagers.

Now if we’re going to truly understand the affect our microbiome has upon us and our society, we’re going to have to try and figure out what the biome looked like for our ancestors.  For instance, what did the biome of the Romans and Ancient Greeks look like?  How did it differ from that of the Ancient Chinese?

My guess is that we’re going to have to take a page out of paleoclimatology.

It’s possible to figure out what the climate of the Earth was a thousand years ago through different techniques.  We can look at rocks,  We can look at trees.  We can measure the temperature of the ground deep down.

So, when it comes to our ancestors, we’re going to have to do much the same.  Of course, samples from the bodies themselves will be a good start.  But of course they’ve been sitting around in the dirt for some time.  So we’ll have to sample the current environment.  We’ll have to look for old organic samples to see what might have been living on those.  And we’re going to have to set up some kind of modern model that would allow us to reconstruct that old biome, just to try it on for size.

So the next time your friend says they are gluten intolerant, ask them what their ancestors had for their biome.  Were they gluten intolerant?

Someday we’ll have a way to find out.

Riots and Revolutions

Our art museum is putting on this excellent display of pre-romantic paintings that were used to record historical events.  Journalism in painting.

Painting is a story told visually, and because the artist is mostly in control, a lot of what they are thinking can come through.

When it’s historical in nature, we also get a glimpse into the big behavioral picture.

There’s this one painting showing a citadel in the background, and a riot going on in front of the locked gates.  (I can’t find it! When I do, I’ll include a link here.)

The caption beside the painting notes that during the years of 1634-35 there was a great famine, and the ruler allowed bread to be sold outside the citadel gates at fixed prices.  The hungry population was so angry that a riot ensued.  Because of the famine, almost 5% of the population perished.  That’s one person out of every twenty.

That was enough to cause the ruler to change the laws regarding land ownership, basically giving more power to the people.

Here’s what we can learn.

It took a great toll among the people before the ruling class decided they needed to shift the distribution of wealth.  Lots of people had to die miserable deaths before those in power would change the system.

Today, we also have increasing wealth inequalities.  How far will the current levels of pain go before our governments address the pain of the people?  History, at least this little oil-painted piece, suggests that about 5% of the population will have to perish first.

Is this the best way to figure this out?  Absolutely not.  But it’s a start.

And as far as wealth distribution is concerned, isn’t it better we start now?

Aren’t art museums fun?

Thanks for reading.

 

Measuring Civilization: Wheels on Meals

Image

Are you civilized?  Is your neighbor?  How about your President?

Trick question.

As far as I can tell, we don’t have a measure of “how” civilized we are.  Sure, an economist will point to GDP, a geographer could point to population, and a librarian could point to how many reference works exist.

But HOW civilized are we?

One measure put forward many years ago has to do with eating.

I love eating.  And I love studying behavior.  Let’s put the two together.

If I took your civilization and withheld the food supply so it was, say, 25% of normal, what would happen?

Would many people starve quietly, still obeying the rules of decency and law so that civilization continued peacefully?

Or would there be some sort of breakdown in the rules?  Would people become more like wild animals, stealing, robbing, murdering, even cannibalizing?

Let’s bring some rigor to the process.

Take any group of people, say the group you’re stuck in a meeting with today, and make them supreme.  By that I mean, make everyone else in the world go away.  They have the whole Earth to call their own.

How long can this group survive using the rules of society they grew up with?  Will they thrive and grow into a new society?  Or will they end up at each other’s throats?  Or, my favorite, will they run away from each other, dying alone?

Make the group your whole nation.  Or the whole Earth.  You choose the group.

Then restrict their food.  Give them only so many calories every quarter day.

Here’s where the fun starts.

I know that when I get hungry, I attack.  I attack the fridge.  MUST EAT screams my stomach.  The rest of the body follows.  When my stomach is full I go back to being all nice and civilized.

How many quarter days would I allow civilization to survive?  Maybe two.

How about you?

 

Today’s Most Influential Woman is …

It’s a few days before Easter, 2018, and as I realized who the most influential woman in the world is as of today.  She may have been influential for many days, but it’s even more so as of today.

#MeToo back in the Golden Age

Today is when a newly famous woman talks on big TV about an affair she had with this guy who is today’s President.  She’s NOT the Influential Woman.

There are lots of other women finally coming forward about what a sexual consumer and predator our president is ALLEGED to be.  None of them are the most Influential Women, either.  (Note, I believe all of them.  Why should they lie?  #MeToo)

No, the most Influential Woman today is…

… his wife, Melania.

I can’t feel totally sorry for her.  She put herself on exhibit, she “caught” him, she has her child, and she can live in her golden cage.

Yet I can notice certain great behavioral components.

Mr. President must be feeling pretty dry by now.  Let’s face it.  He’s pretty much living single, Melania isn’t going to be feeling much “in the mood,” and every move this guy makes is under a microscope.

So here’s what makes her influential.  You guessed it.  Sex.

All she has to do is say, “Do this, Darling, and you can have, this.”

Won’t work?  Check out this story involving pausing a war a few thousand years ago.  Or how about these stories much more recently, described along with a broadway musical about it.

More to the point of this site, we are doing the first extremely public experiment into the phenomenon of “What happens to Men when they get EXTREMELY sexually frustrated?”

I touched upon this a bit a long while ago in this post.  What makes today’s experiment so much more exciting is that we are all able to watch it, live.  Along the way we can have some fun.

How long has it been for Mr. President (no puns intended).

How much longer can he go without?

Can it be possible that he’s escaping to Florida and other places where he can get his “fix?”  If so, how long can that secret be kept?

I’m hopeful that Melania will keep him from getting his fix by being vigilant.  If she realizes she can be that much more powerful if he gets hungry, then that might encourage her.  Of course, the downside to this plan is that she has to, well, “feed” him on occasion, and that could interfere with anyone’s appetite.

Anyway, stay tuned, and enjoy the show.  It’s better than facing reality at the moment.