Amoeba’s Lorica: Blue Zone Blues

Thanks to Mr. Gallup & Co. …

He: “So how come you’re not having trouble holding that down?”

She: “… what?”

He: “You heard me. You’re just sitting there with that piece of paper, calmly filling in the blanks and boxes, when you ought to be running around the room chasing it.”

She:What are you talking about?”

He: “That thing you’re working on. It’s a Gallup poll, amirite? Shouldn’t it be making you …?”

She: “Not. If it wants my attention, it’ll sit down and behave itself. Maybe you should take a hint from it. And it must want my attention pretty badly, because not only is it behaving itself, it sent me a dollar!”

He: “A whole dollar? Wouldn’t two pennies have worked as well?”

She: “Two pennies?”

He: “Yeah. They’re looking for your two cents’ worth, aren’t they?”

She:Inflation, dear. And besides, they asked for this …”

[Ahem] As Your Friendly Neighborhood Amoeba was writing: Thanks to Mr. Gallup & Co., YFNA learned that something called the “Blue Zones Project” is a thing. “Did you know about the Blue Zones Project?” Um, no …

Thirty seconds and a websearch later, Sergey, YFNA learned that the “Blue” in Blue Zones is an allusion to Blue Cross / Blue Shield, the health insurer and the largest such in the great state of Hawai‘i. And that the Project’s mission, in Hawai‘i and elsewhere, is “…a community-wide well-being improvement initiative to help make healthy choices easier.”

Oh goody! Yet another ploy by the profiteering health insurance industry to jack up premiums, shaft services, and blame all the problems on citizens! When are we …?!?

“Yo. OC.”

Whaddaya want, dude?

“One word.”

Yeah?

“Mickey D’s.”

That’s two.

“Ya dig what I mean, man. Sue me.”

I could delete you.

“Ain’t done it yet, haveya? An’ we’re damned near old ’nuff ta have grandkids by now.”

If you could get chicks.

“Shaddap. Go try ta scare off some otha figment a yer imagination, yeah?”

How the hell does a dude find a mirror small enough for an amoeba to look into and see himself in? Not to mention the rest of us. Oh OK, all right, let’s see what this Project’s got to say for itself.

Exercise. “Find ways to move more!” Yeah, that word’s gotten out. You can tell by the way peeps are exercising their feet on the gas pedal when they drive.

Eat more veggies. Stoked. Now, if these islands actually grew any. Climate change activists better not cut off the fuel for the planes flying carrots and spinach in from California anytime soon.

Relieve stress. Right. These islands survive on tourist services. You’ve heard try wait? Well, it ain’t the kama‘aina who are doing all the complaining about waiting around here. And all those industrialized relaxation and meditation packages you’re so fond of, because they lure you into thinking that you can replace actual vacations with 20 minutes a week of fancy spacing out? How is an amoeba supposed to survive the stress when he finds out how much these things cost?!?

Family first. “Invest time with family to add six years to your life”. In Hawai‘i, where everything’s about your ‘ohana? Got it covered. Folk are just thankful that most of the ‘ohana here no longer practice kapu. Because if they did, the question about whether time with family would add six minutes to your life could depend on how close you were to the nearest heiau, and whether you could run/swim there faster than anyone else. Don’t piss off the ali‘i nui, Vito.

Don’t continue eating until you’re full. Nah, bruh, folk don’t do dat. Folk eat ’til they tired, yeah? See ‘planes from California’, supra.

Enjoy wine with friends every day. Wait, what? Any of you peeps spent time on Facebook lately?

Have a mission. “Wake up with purpose each day and add up to seven years to your life.”

The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity

And those folks are going to live longer than the rest? Anybody out there know how YFNA can unread that??

Find the right tribe. You sure that’s not the “Right” tribe, health insurance company? “Surround yourself with people who support you and positive behaviors.” So find yourself an echo chamber, you’ll live longer? Longer to pay premiums, not demand services, and rail on anyone who actually does need services? Not to mention anyone who indulges in that life-shortening exercise known as critical thinking? To the gladdening of hearts of health industry executives and investors everywhere? Yes, dammit, YFNA knows the Dow is setting records. Again.

And who defines positive behaviors? Who else, my Lord?

Belong. “Participating in a faith-based community can add up to 14 years to your life.” Suicide bombers presumably excluded. Though YFNA reckons that this explains Pat “Methuselah” (or is that “Mephistopheles”) Robinson.

Thus do the actuary tables declare that it is better to be a member of Westboro Baptist Church, or the Ku Klux Klan, than a professor of natural sciences at a major American university. Because that professor indulges in (health risk!) critical, independent thinking, and may well be (major health risk!) among (OMG!) the atheists.

Atheists – who, for the cardinal sin of seeing preposterous supernatural tales for what they are, and for the fundamental character flaw of being unable to organize (even Richard Dawkins likened attempts to ‘herding cats’), earn the perpetual enmity of their fellow citizens. And now have to deal with the likelihood that their perfidy will be treated as a pre-existing condition, for which they will be denied insurance coverage. Which won’t do anything to help with what the insurance companies declare is their already-compromised life expectancy.

Murphy: “Well, Amoeba, they have brought this on themselves.”

What? How so?

Murphy: “Those preposterous supernatural tales you so glibly dismissed just now? They’re the glue that holds these tribes, which you also hate so much, together. Of course they won’t stand up to critical thinking. We hold these truths to be self-evident, which means they’re above scrutiny. By definition. By fiat. Divine fiat, no less. And you believe, and you follow, or you place yourself outside. And in the ancient world, banishment, being shoved outside, was just as sure a death as the axe or the sword.

“Because your God was your State, and your State your God. If you believed accordingly, then you got the material and spiritual support from those around you, and of course you were going to feel better and live longer. Not to mention be better able to fight off your enemies. If you believed anything else, that was treason, and was punished accordingly.

“Atheists – the loudest, most obnoxious ones, anyway – don’t get this. There is no evidence that gods exist, so away with gods. The statement might be accurate – but it is also incompetent, irrelevant, and immaterial. A supernatural being with the power generally attributed to it by humans can make us believe anything at any time, leaving no trace of what went before. So “evidence” tells us nothing. And the atheist generally has nothing but snide ridicule to offer against the concrete observation that belief systems persist and prosper despite the preposterousness of their stories, and are one hell of a lot better at organizing themselves to, say, win elections.

“Only the wealth of the modern world has allowed any progress towards independence of individual thought, towards communities with pluralistic religious structures, towards compassionate humanism as the prime mover of society. And in a world of increasing population, in which the resources are under increasing stress …”

So you like the Ku Klux Klan?

Murphy: “Are you and Kris related or something? I told him once, I’ll tell you. What damned good is my health, if I’m using it to abuse my neighbor?? We have to solve the problem of how to harness the benefits of social contracts without reliance on crazy fables and with rigorous, but not strangulatory, management on the “unusuals” in the group, as well as stiffer control on the would-be cheats, thieves, parasites, and dark siders. So that we can harness these health benefits to prosper our societies, not poise them for destruction like we’re doing now. Time, I reckon, is short. And no, I don’t.”

Moreover I saw under the sun that in the place of justice, wickedness was there, and in the place of righteousness, wickedness was there as well. … there are righteous people who perish in their righteousness, and there are wicked people who prolong their life in their evildoing. – Ecclesiastes 3:16; 7:15 (NRSV)

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