Health&Science: Falling Into The Season Of Death
Published: Sunday, September 22, 2013
Updated: Sunday, September 22, 2013 23:09
You can call it fall if that’s what you please, but I say I like autumn.
This sing-song phrase from our most beloved of purple dinosaurs is part of a catchy tune designed to educate toddlers about the changes that occur during the season that some people call fall, but more intelligent people refer to as autumn (or at least that’s what they want you to think).
Yesterday marks the first official day of this season of death, when leaves die and start falling off of trees and animals begin to frantically horde food as they prepare to enter a three-month-long period of unconsciousness. To be sure, when the chlorophyll pool runs dry and leaves return to their “natural” colors, it can be quite a sight. And if you aren’t from around here, any native New Englander will be sure to let you know that they have the most beautiful leaves in all the land, an often unfounded statement based literally on the fact that they are from New England and therefore their deciduous forests must be the most deciduous of all.
Fall has other things to offer us too, like that range of temperatures that is cool enough to warrant wearing a light jacket but still warm enough to get away with wearing shorts. It seems that for every degree Fahrenheit the temperature drops, however, one more of those stickers is put up on a restroom mirror declaring the horrors that can befall you if you don’t continuously wash your hands with bleach for 30 minutes after using the bathroom. These same stickers also remind you not to touch your eyes, nose, or mouth unless you want to contract the Bubonic plague, and that if there is someone sitting next to you on the T coughing up blood, you should probably switch seats.
Why do they even bother putting these signs up in the first place if the advice on them seems so self-evident? Obviously if you wash your hands and avoid sick people then you are less likely to get sick. Why don’t these stickers provide useful advice on disease prevention, stuff we don’t already know, like a way to prevent contraction of the flu by eating with your eyes closed and only reading evenly-numbered pages of your assigned reading for class? The answer might be that this is the only advice they have to offer.
Unless the government is keeping some sort of health-related secret from us (which isn’t completely unlikely), then furiously chugging orange juice like a freshman chugging beer at a Mod party won’t prevent the onset of a cold any more than furiously chugging that Natty will (okay, maybe the orange juice is a little bit better for you). Even if you follow all the CDC guidelines on staying healthy, you probably won’t stay healthy. It seems like we are locked in a losing battle with our surroundings, which are pretty much either trying to leech off of our health until we die or trying to kill us outright, however slowly.
Well that doesn’t sound like very much fun. Americans hate losing, especially to communists and small organisms indiscernible to the human eye—in that order. Well, we beat the commies (for now), but our techniques on that front don’t necessarily translate into medical practice. Sounds like it’s time to “invest some money in science.” Which is what we hear a lot from politicians and those types of folk. But there is so much science and so many ways to invest our money, so where do we even start?
If we really wanted to invest then we could give money to teachers and schools to raise up a new generation of scientists. Or we could give money to current scientists so that maybe we can see results in our own lifetime. Or we could give a little but probably not enough money to both and hope that the situation somehow works itself out. To date, one of the greatest advances in modern medical technology might be that variation of Kleenex that have Vick’s lotion infused into the tissue, so maybe we should invest in some more of whatever funded that.
Where are the CSOM kids when you need them? Word on the street is that they know a thing or two about investments. But today’s investors are the CSOM kids of the past, tomorrow’s scientists are the A&S students of the present, and last I checked there’s no bug spray that wards off those 24-hour “bugs,” so I guess this fall I’ll just go buy some lotion-infused Kleenex and keep washing my hands until something changes.