Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Three-armed baby proof that efficient keyboard usage is driving human evolution

We all knew this was going to happen sooner or later.

A baby named Jie-Jie was born at a small local hospital in China's Anhui Province, armed with, well...three arms. All of them functional to some degree.

Clearly this is a sign of human evolution and the 144-hour Creationists* need to just shut the fuck up right now. This mutated baby will grow up being able to type out his blog and sip his Starbucks... simultaneously! How genetically developed is that?! It's like when the first giraffe had a long neck or the first elephant developed a trunk long enough to scratch its private regions.

In true egalitarian, communist fashion, doctors at a medical center in Shanghai are plotting how to take one of these arms away from the infant. In all seriousness, I say let him keep them all — he's not a freak, he's the future: an ergonomic infant.

Besides, the poor kid is missing one kidney, so shouldn't the extra arm be left intact to make up for his renal deficiencies? Won't someone think of the children?

If Jie-Jie could talk, I'm sure he'd be saying:

What the hell is wrong with you people? I've got an extra arm...think of how many things I'll be able to do that others can't, from sports to cheating at poker to clerical duties to intimate activities with my wife and/or girlfriend. Leave my arm the fuck alone! Oh, and why did you give me a name that sounds like I'm a fucking panda?! Were you high or something? I should take my third arm and go Cultural Revolution on your asses!
Yes, I'm certain that's the way babies would talk if they could speak.

UPDATE:
Doctors did in fact go and remove one of Jie-Jie's two left arms. He is in stable condition and doctors expect a full recovery. They removed the arm closes to his chest, the one which could have been used to hide contraband.

SITEMETER UPDATE:
Thanks to Space Nakji's foray into discussion of gender re-assignment gone awry, someone linked to this post while searching for (and how could I make this up) ambiguous genitalia island. Just what this person was looking for, I have no idea. Dare I say I hope he/she found it?


*That's people who believe in a literal six-day creation. I myself am a hexa-eon creationist, which is pretty much the same as a theological evolutionist, and we kick ass.
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10 comments:

  1. Sonagi couldn't get in here because of the profanity filter at work, so she posted this in the "Ask Kushibo" comment section, where it doesn't belong. Since she hasn't done so in the five hours since I asked her to repost, I will do so here, so that I can answer here. If she chooses to come by and post a slightly altered messaged herself, I'll remove this one.

    Sonagi wrote:

    Kushibo,

    I have to post a comment about your Chinese baby entry here because the use of the f-word in the post trips a pornography filter on my computer at work.

    Although you were trying to be funny, you, in fact, make an interesting connection when you talk about how changes in a species may have been perceived the way we perceive the baby with three arms. Were blue eyes once a genetic defect? I did not think a baby missing a kidney was an appropriate target for your humor. Poke fun at your fellow bloggers, politicians, entertainers, or corporations, but don't make light of a tiny infant needing serious medical care.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Sonagi92 wrote:
    I have to post a comment about your Chinese baby entry here because the use of the f-word in the post trips a pornography filter on my computer at work.

    I'm sorry about triggering the profanity filter. Actually, the post was deliberately a bit crass, so I must say: the system works.

    Although you were trying to be funny,

    Actually, it didn't start out that way. I started out making two serious points (see below) and it morphed into a post where I was using certain devices in order to drive those points home.

    you, in fact, make an interesting connection when you talk about how changes in a species may have been perceived the way we perceive the baby with three arms.

    That was in fact one of my points. I was a biology major and frankly, this kind of thing popped into my head from time to time: Would our pre-homo sapien forebears have chosen to operate on a Baby Doe who was born with opposable thumbs just because he/she was different? Well, fortunately they couldn't have done so (because they themselves had no opposable thumbs).

    Were blue eyes once a genetic defect?

    As someone with blue eyes, I'd prefer to think it's the brown-eyed people who are freaks. And don't get me started on those green-eyed mutants!


    I did not think a baby missing a kidney was an appropriate target for your humor.

    But Sonagi, I wasn't making fun of him because he was missing a kidney (nor about the curvature of his back). And I barely even mentioned his kidney problems at all.

    Poke fun at your fellow bloggers, politicians, entertainers, or corporations,

    Frankly, my humor is hit-or-miss, you-can't-please-everybody-all-the-time sort of humor.

    To be honest, I thought that your type of response now was the kind of response I was going to get for this post (when someone describes what you've written as "disturbingly hilarious," it's a sure bet that someone else thought it was "disturbingly offensive). It's a yin-yang sort of thing, but if enough people I respect (that would include you, Sonagi) express opinions such as yours, I will remove the post.


    but don't make light of a tiny infant needing serious medical care.

    Okay, like I said, this post was meant to drive home a serious point. His renal condition aside (which I was not making fun of), is his arm situation really "needing serious medical care"?

    My second major point is that it's not. Read the article. The doctors are examining his two left arms — both of which he can feel and have some sort of function — and trying to figure out which one to remove. A Hobson's choice, to be sure, and one they themselves make clear they're not prepared for.

    It seems to me that by removing one of the arms they are creating the serious medical situation. He is fine as he is: his third arm does not in fact threaten his life in any way (from what I've read).

    When my family moved us from Compton to OC, I was in elementary school my parents forced me into little league (a nightmare in itself). I was on a team where one player had an arm that looked — and I'm not saying this to be funny but to give as accurate a visual description as I can — like the hook-like appendage that the Danny DeVito's Penguin character had in the Batman movies.

    He had no fingers on his stunted left arm, just two claw like outcroppings, which were useless. His arm served little functional use except that it could hold things that weren't too heavy close to his chest.

    When the ball was thrown to him, he caught it with his good arm (his right arm), then in one move he pulled the glove off his right arm, held it to his chest with his left arm, and then threw the ball.

    This guy was our first baseman, and we came in first place that year.

    I admired this kid. Not because I felt sorry for him, but because he was a far better ball player than I would ever be (he could hit, too). I was the shortest kid on the team, had never played catch with my dad (who was struggling to pay for the OC home), and was also undiagnosed near-sighted.

    This kid's handicap was no handicap. Although it was one of the first things people noticed about him, as a kid and as an adult, it neither defined him nor confined him.

    So why does Jie-Jie have to have his third arm removed? His third arm which can easily be hidden, if necessary.

    Why? For no good reason than it makes other people uncomfortable or feel sorry for him. And that is their problem, not his, and it shouldn't be enough to risk his life over.

    That was my point.

    Anyway, thanks for your opinion (really). It gave me a chance to show that I'm not just an asshole (I am so many other things in addition to that).

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  3. removing the arm will have no effect on the potential for any 'evolution'.

    i don't think that anyone with half a brain and some understanding of the are will argue that evolution is not possible, the argument is that the possibility of it happening are so small that it actually takes more faith to believe in evolution rather than creation, particuarly when you take into account the explanations put forward supporting creationism and the question of the age of the earth.

    not trying to troll, just thought it was worth mentioning after your comments.

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  4. I agree with you on this one. I don't understand why they're in such a rush to remove one of the arms, when they're not even sure which one they should be removing. Why not let the kid grow up first and see how his arms develop before they go hacking one off?

    There's a similar issue regarding babies born with ambiguous genitalia... doctors will usually just choose the baby's gender and operate accordingly. Heaven forbid anyone should not fit the standard mold.

    Ironically, I wasn't put off by the way you talked about the baby, but I was a bit put off by the "anti-communist" jokes...

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  5. Rowan wrote:
    removing the arm will have no effect on the potential for any 'evolution'.

    In the sense that his genes (if they in fact were responsible for his third arm) won't be altered even with the armectomy. That's what you mean, right?

    i don't think that anyone with half a brain and some understanding of the are will argue that evolution is not possible, the argument is that the possibility of it happening are so small that it actually takes more faith to believe in evolution rather than creation, particuarly when you take into account the explanations put forward supporting creationism and the question of the age of the earth.

    I used to attend two different Baptist churches that had their share of staunch Creationists (the girls there were hot!). Some of those folks expressed a belief in "localized evolution," just not that we all are the descendants of slime mold.

    Of course, the church had its share of evolutionary creationists (basically those that believe God himself would have employed evolutionary development in His creation), which made it easier for us all to study biology at UCI, UCLA, and Berkeley. Zot!

    not trying to troll, just thought it was worth mentioning after your comments.

    With all the barely-relevant or digressive comments I leave on other people's blogs, it's only fair that someone would come along and do the same here.

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  6. Space Nakji (SPAH-CHAY NAHK-YEE) wrote:
    I agree with you on this one. I don't understand why they're in such a rush to remove one of the arms, when they're not even sure which one they should be removing. Why not let the kid grow up first and see how his arms develop before they go hacking one off?

    Seriously, I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks this. I hope some people are bringing this line of thinking to the attention of the surgical team in Shanghai. Where are the China bloggers on this one?

    There's a similar issue regarding babies born with ambiguous genitalia... doctors will usually just choose the baby's gender and operate accordingly. Heaven forbid anyone should not fit the standard mold.

    Hmm... what an intriguing thought. I hadn't thought about that. If I remember correctly from my Psych 101 days (which was actually Psych 7, but nobody outside UCI would understand the reference), I remember reading about the issue in terms of how children reacted to the genitalia-ambiguous children depending on whether they were dressed as a boy or a girl.

    But how would it apply in this case? Are we talking about people with both sets of fully developed genitalia? Or are we talking about people with both sets, but under-developed genitalia? If it's a matter of making sure the child ends up with at least one working set, I'd be for it, but if both are working, hmm.... I don't know how I'd go. It'd definitely be a case by case situation, but if it were like Jie-Jie's, where the removal of one set would endanger his life, I'd be inclined to vote no. As you said, why does everyone have to fit the same mold? It's certainly not risking someone's life over.

    Ironically, I wasn't put off by the way you talked about the baby, but I was a bit put off by the "anti-communist" jokes...

    Damn, I just can't get a break today!

    Which "anti-communist" comment? About egalitarianism or about going Cultural Revolution on someone?

    I do like China as a country, I've been there many times, but I also see how communism has also stunted the potential of China both economically and culturally, and... Ah, who am I kidding, it was a cheap shot.

    (And those are the best kind. No one gets hurt when you make fun of communism.)

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  7. But how would it apply in this case? Are we talking about people with both sets of fully developed genitalia? Or are we talking about people with both sets, but under-developed genitalia?

    Well, I'm not sure how developed or underdeveloped they usually are, but I've heard of cases where, presented with two more or less apparent sets of parts, the doctors somewhat arbitrarily chose the baby's gender (they tend to pick female since it's "easier" to create female genitals). The person can then grow up, maybe not feeling quite at home in that gender, but oh well, the decision was made for them.

    I'm sure there are cases where the person is never the wiser and everything turns out fine. But imagine what it would be like for those who wind up disagreeing with the decision that was made.

    There was an interesting case about a "botched circumcision" where the doctor decided that rather than have the boy grow up without a penis, they would just perform sex reassignment surgery and raise the kid as a girl. The "girl" never felt like a girl, though, and after finding out about the surgery, he reverted to life as a male (with a very tragic ending).

    Now obviously, losing a third arm isn't as potentially life-altering as having your gender chosen for you and I don't mean to imply that they are parallel. But I was reminded of the story because of the sticky issue of consent and making life "easier" for the young'uns.

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  8. kushibo:
    In the sense that his genes (if they in fact were responsible for his third arm) won't be altered even with the armectomy. That's what you mean, right?

    yeh, thats the point i was trying to make, that the genes won't be altered.

    i am interested in what else would be responsible for the third arm (any suggestions), and if it wasn't genetic wouldn't that be a serious blow to and evolutionary evidence?

    Kushibo:
    I used to attend two different Baptist churches that had their share of staunch Creationists (the girls there were hot!). Some of those folks expressed a belief in "localized evolution," just not that we all are the descendants of slime mold.

    i don't think you will find many people who argue against micro-evolution, or localised evolution, that being change within a species. its the development of new species and what i consider to be very weak explanation for the fact that natural selection reduces the gene pool and evolution requires an expansion, among other things that most six day creationists have trouble with.

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  9. Thank you for going to the trouble of reposting the message, Kushibo. BTW, you might swing by CA and check out the latest messages on the 21st Century Japan thread.

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  10. you're an idiot. That isn't how evolution works. Lammark's theory has been out of style for quite some time... do you even know what you're proposing?

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