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.”


“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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Amoeba’s Lorica: Administering Human Sexuality

“… a workshop on Administration of Human Sexuality …” Apparently this is a thing …

It is a poorly-lit, windowless, narrowly-rectangular meeting room in a drab, functional office building somewhere in the United States of America. It features a long, rectangular, cheap wood veneer table that fits with enough room left over for people to walk around it and the chairs lined up against it – just. The chairs are filled with around 20 nervous, fidgety ten-year-olds, a parent or guardian standing behind each one. There are manila folders on the table, one for each child. None have yet been disturbed. At the head of the table, opposite the room’s single door, sits a prim, uptight, European-descended pale-skinned woman of middle age, dressed in the olive-drab uniform of her agency, close-cropped mousy-brown hair all but invisible under her military-style cap, waiting for the clock on her phone to show the precise time for the start of the session. From her expression and obvious weariness, she has given too many of these sessions already today. As the clock digits fall into place, she raps twice on the table with her knuckles, gaining the attention of those around the table, and begins speaking, in a tired but nevertheless clipped-authoritative voice.

“Thank you all for being here today. Congratulations, young people, on having your tenth birthday this month, and therefore graduating to the next stage in the sexual identity which we, in keeping with our duties and responsibilities in your Administration of Human Sexuality, have assigned to you.

“In front of you is a folder. Please be sure that the one before you has your own name on it, and no other. If it is indeed yours, you may now pick it up.” A general motion of gathering, opening, and inspecting.

“In it, you will find a questionnaire, which we will ask you to fill out now. That questionnaire will help us determine how well we have administered human sexuality services to you over the past year, and allow us to take any corrective action.

“The rest of the packet contains information on the codes of dress, comportment, etiquette, and general behavior expected of your sex and your age, with some slight adjustments for your own personality – which is why you should be extra sure that the packet you have is your own. After you have completed the questionnaire, I will ask you to look over this information, and ask any questions you may have about it. Take your time, and read carefully, as what you see before you will be how we evaluate your progress, and ours, over the coming year.

“Oh … and the packet, of course, contains a pencil, with which you can complete the questionnaire. But before you begin that, a quick check: how many boys do we have here today?”

Four hands went up.

The woman’s head jerked up in an expression of serious displeasure. “Mabel?” A sharp, accusing tone directed at another uniformed woman at the other end of the room. “That’s one over quota. What is going on here?”

Mabel’s voice was matter of fact. “Captain McConnell, 2481 has persisted with male identity despite all training to this point in time.”

All eyes turned to 2481, a skinny, blonde, blue-eyed child seated near the middle of the table, with an equally skinny, blonde, blue-eyed male guardian behind him. A guardian with a haunted look in his gaunt and craggy face.

The child said, simply, “I am a boy.” And the guardian blurted out, “And what do you expect us to do …?”

Two menacing clicks! interrupted the guardian. The clicks of magazines being inserted into semi-automatic rifles, by the two armed guards that had entered the room, apparently in response to a silent signal from Captain McConnell. The guards positioned themselves on either side of 2481 and ‘his’ guardian, shoving children and adults brusquely aside in the process, and stood at attention, awaiting orders.

They were not long in coming. “Take them to detention”, McConnell barked. “I will not now take time from this meeting to determine whether these – people (she spit the word out in venomous distaste) have exhausted their indulgences, though at the age of 10 I don’t see how 2481 can have failed to do so. I will decide later. Go.” The guardian made some slight motion of resistance, and was immediately cold-cocked by one of the guards, rifle stock to the head. She then dragged him out of the room by the collar, while the other carried the catatonic 2481.

The three properly-assigned boys sat together on the opposite side of the table from where 2481 had been sitting. McConnell went to 2481’s spot and got their attention with a hard stare and brutal scowl. “Three boys out of 20 is far too many as it is, damn you!”, she snapped. “You already know why, unless your training has failed too, in which case somebody on the staff (she waved an angry hand at Mabel, who did not react) is going to feel the heat. Further evidence of your history of despicableness is in this year’s material. Learn it well and behave accordingly. Or you will learn early just how expendable you are. Our accountants like to limit expenses whenever possible.”

With a snort, she returned to the head of the table, sat down, and glared balefully at the children and their guardians, who eventually all broke eye contact and sat or stood, downcast, the children looking at the papers with their assigned status on them.

“Questionnaires,” Captain McConnell commanded. The children got the papers and pencils out of their packets, and began writing. In silence.

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Dude and Dude: Mmm Peachy



“Wonder how long it’ll take ‘fer Trump is impeached like ever’body’s callin’ fer.”

“Ain’t gonna happen, dude.”

“‘N why not?”

“Wrong color.”

“… whut?”

“C’mon, dude, y’wuz watchin’ tha same Youtube I wuz. Ya know what kinda makeup he wuz wearin’ durin’ tha election campaign! Would ya call that peach?

“Yeah-a-ummm, more like apricot. Kinda.”

“So how can he get impeached? If ennythin’, he’s gonna get imapricoted, amirite?”

“Dude …”

“‘Course he ain’t wearin’ it no more, guess he thinks it’s kinda funny-lookin’ on a Presadent a tha Untited States ‘r somethin’. But ya aks me, he should oughta be wearin’ it. When he don’t, he looks kinda washed out.”

“Don’tcha mean ‘washed up’??

“Ya wish, dude.”

“Dam straight. Any color ya like is jus’ peachy wit’ me, so long as it gets Trump’s donkey impeached!

“Hm. So when didya start followin’ tha alt-right crowd, huh dude?”

Whut?!? Where tha hell ya get that idea??”

“From them. An’ you! As if ya didn’t know whut they’ve been doin’ ever since 2008.”

“What wuz that? Provin’ that zombies ‘re real?”

“Yellin’ Impeach Obama! So now that tha shoe’s on tha otha foot … how’re we diff’rent from them, yeah?”

“B’cause they’re nuts an’ we ain’t?”

“Sez who?”

“Sez … Dammit, dude, d’ya havta be a jerk alla tha time? Ya gonna call out yer mom for hollerin’ Impeach Bush?

“‘R yers for screamin’ Impeach Clinton?”

“They DID impeach Clinton, dude!! An’ he earned it, too!”

“He balanced tha budget, dude.”

“On Lewinsky’s dress? Didn’t cut no more ice wit’ peeps than Nixon gettin’ China ta back off an’ start talkin’ wit’ us. He still messed ’round wit’ them water gates. Whatever they are.”

“Dammit, dude, don’tcha get what this means?!?

“A whole mess a peach cobbler?

Close, dude. Ya fruitcake! It means half a us has been, like, yellin’ at tha otha half a us ta impeach somebody all day ever’ day fer like tha last twenty-five years! An’ fer all I know, if’n I’d been ’round ta hear it, fer tha last forty-five!! Ain’t peeps, like, tired a all this by now?”

“Like, no.”

What ‘no’?”

“B’cause, this time it’s fer real, yeah?”

“Yeah right. Jus’ like tha last time, an’ tha time b’fore that, an’ tha time b’fore that, an’ yadayadayada. So tell me ya don’ r’member Ms Grubber.”

“‘I don’ r’member …’ no wait, yeah I do. Kindergarten, yeah? What she got ta do wit’ nothin’?”

“Only tha story she read ta us, over an’ over an’ over an’ …”

“Which one wuz that?

“‘Tha Boy What Cried Wolf!’ Dude.”



D’ya havta be a jerk alla tha time?!?

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