evolutionary constraint, or just indolence

2/21/10

It’s the 21st century, and we still don’t get flying cars, engines that get 500 mpg running on bottled cowfarts, or an adventure park on the Moon. They say man’s technology outpaces our maturity (which is why somebody will probably get nuked because of religion) but I say there’s an opposite and equal frustration: man’s imagination always outpaces our ability to do cool shit.

I suppose it’s not very gracious to downplay the elements of modern life that would have been considered “magical” a hundred years ago. My flight from LAX to Charlotte was 3 hours and 31 minutes last week. I video-chatted with Tessa in Denver five minutes ago. I have a pill that keeps my self-loathing set at “vaguely”.

But I’m dreamin’ bigger, dontchya know! In the ’70s, “The Bionic Man” (and the even better show “Bionic Woman”) taught us all body parts could get a hardware upgrade. In that light, here is my list of 5 Human Parts That Are Awaiting Version 2.0:

1. Sinuses. Those who went to med school will no doubt wince at my dime-store explanation, but apparently we have sinuses so that our heads can be large enough to carry around a giant brain; the air-filled sac reduces weight in the front. The problem is that everyone’s sinuses suck. They act like the petri dishes of a 4th grade science class biology experiment, collecting every virus and bacteria on earth – except you can’t throw this petri dish away.

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We would like Sinuses 2.0 to be coated with that anti-bacterial covering they use on new grocery carts, natural immunity to all plant life, and we humbly request an upper limit on congestion, so that some of us can fuckin’ breathe once in a while.

2. Knees. Yours truly has always had strong knees, but I have seen the greatest minds of the generation above mine felled completely by knee problems, and they’ve ruined a fur piece of my peer group as well. This has been a well-known design flaw from the get-go; you’ve got the entire weight of our bodies being supported by a few ligaments swimming in synovial fluid? Hell, a fruit juicer makes more design sense.

Studies show that arthroscopic knee surgery works as well as a placebo. Yes, you heard right – just making an incision in the knee and telling the patient he had surgery works just as well as the surgery itself. And our knee replacement devices are iffy at best, so let’s just start over with the next build, okay?

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3. Cornea/lens. Seriously, why do people have to be nearsighted or farsighted? Why can’t everyone just see with pinpoint clarity? Everyone being forced to hang plastic frames with concave-convex lenses on their faces… we’re lucky we have a nose that sticks out, or else we’d have nothing to put it on. Laser surgery, contact lenses and everything else – come on, let’s get this one fixed ASAP.

4. Pancreas. Median survival time for someone diagnosed with pancreatic cancer is 3-5 months. You see where we’re going with this here. Scrap the pancreas, and diversify: create four different organs in different places that do what the pancreas does (insulin, somatostatin, pancreatic juice, etc.) so that our lives aren’t so beholden to one link. Many of us have a separate cable for television, phone and internet so that one tree branch won’t shut down the entertainment – we’d like to see some of that thinking go into Pancreas Project 2.0.

5. Skin. We’ve got this stuff wrapped around us for our whole lives, and while some of us have exquisite epidermii (hi, my wife!) many others of us are prone to acne, sunburn, rash and scars. A lot of us would like to go out into the sun – you know, the star 93 million miles away that sustains life – without having to slather ourselves in sunblock. The teens of the world, billions strong going back in history, don’t understand why they are given cystic pustules of painful zits all over their bodies at the precise time they are least equipped to handle the pressure.

No, no – let’s get this updated. Obviously, we’d like to keep the endless variations of color and sensation, but ditch the melanoma, hives, pimples and August-ruiners like poison oak, and let’s get a cleaner, more durable version running by Q4 2015.

Sound good? Go 21st century! We can do it!

0 thoughts on “evolutionary constraint, or just indolence

  1. Josie

    OK, I’ll play! I am lucky to have good genes when it comes to teeth, but I could still benefit (and think there would be a lot less anxiety in the world about the dentist chair) if we could use that same shopping cart anti-bacterial coating on teeth….in a non-toxic variety at least.

    Reply
  2. Anne

    LOL — I had to laugh, because when I started reading your list I wondered: Will it occur to a man to include the whole vaginal-birth anatomy thing?
    Since you didn’t, I will propose that for the top 2 upgrades to human physiology. There MUST be an easier way for women to accomplish childbirth — less painful and dangerous for both mother and baby. It boggles my mind how crazy the delivery system is!
    Also, and this particularly affects women from middle age onward, the ol’ thyroid gland needs an upgrade so it’s resistant to Hashimoto’s and other diseases. Half my women friends (and me too) take Synthroid for hypothryoidism, and deal with infuriating fluctuations in energy levels, metabolism, anxiety, skin and hair health, etc.

    Reply
  3. dean

    HAIR.
    I am 40 years old now and I have hair sprouting on the edges of my ears, have to trim nose hair more than ever, but have less and less of it on my head. Plus, shaving my face every day got really old about 20 years ago.

    Reply
  4. GFWD

    Teeth. It’s kind of silly that we get our permanent teeth when we’re in elementary school. Let’s hold off on that until we’re in high school and then they’ll last a little longer past the days of cavities and irregular brushing.
    Anne, I’ve got no problem with child birthing. It’s like nature’s own Crock Pot. We men folk make a little deposit, return 9 months later and voila there’s a kid. Don’t go changing something that ain’t broke. [snarky smile]

    Reply
  5. Once a heel

    It wouldn’t shock me to see in our lifetime (optimistically let’s say 50 yrs) a “test-tube 2.0” baby – conceived and developed entirely outside the womb.
    Couple that with advances in stem cell and cloning tech and “mom and dad” as we know them today could be essentially be out of the picture altogether.

    Reply
  6. Anne

    Don’t get me wrong. I loved being pregnant, varicose veins and all, so a test-tube baby wouldn’t be my first choice. It’s just the part where you have to squeeze a bowling ball out of a paper-towel tube that bugged me. Some kind of hinged bone structure just for the “eject” part of having a baby would have been nice, O Great Designer.

    Reply
  7. Lee

    i like this game! How about period cramping? c’mon… I’m not even gonna go with my theories on that one.
    and why can’t we grow new teeth? what’s more barbaric than getting a crown. seriously.
    oops….gotta get back to work. but i’m on it.

    Reply
  8. Rebecca

    Let’s fix TMJ. My jaw has been hurting for absolutely no reason for 4 days. It pained me to chew grilled chicken. What the heck? These middle age ailments truly suck. And I’m not yet 40!

    Reply

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