In 2018 you’ll see a new nutrient listed on your food label, the element potassium. Potassium is known to chemists by its symbol : K (not to be confused with Vitamin K which is something different.) Potassium is one of those weird elements with a symbol that doesn’t reflect its name in English. The name comes from the word potash because it is found in plant ashes. The Latin name for plant ashes is Kalium.
Before high-salt processed foods came about, getting more dietary potassium than sodium was easy. Potassium is an important mineral for plants. It is the K in the NPK ratio shown on fertilizer boxes. (The other letters are for nitrogen and phosphorus.) Plants need potassium and contain a lot of it. Therefore, a high plant diet provides enough potassium. Plants rich in potassium are found across the globe. You can find all sorts of lists of high potassium foods but here are some I’ll eat:
potatoes (K is much lower in potato chips by the way. Fries are a little better but oh, the grease and salt!)
seaweed (I admit–I don’t much like this.)
It should be easy to get potassium so what’s the problem?
First of all, we need a lot so if you skimp on the vegetables and fruit, you might be lacking.
Second, it’s water soluble and can be flushed out with too much liquid–particularly alcohol. There is a phrase among health care professionals–“with booze, you loose.”
I still remember the sensations–pounding heart, crushing headaches, confusion, and the deep dread when I put my hand on the door to the sick building I had to work in for nearly ten years. I’ve experienced high carbon dioxide levels. My body thought I was suffocating in my own exhale. This week, I find myself reliving those unpleasant times.
You see, I’m working on a sequel to Mixed In–Book Two in the Unstable States series. It’s set in the near future. When I saw this headline about record high levels of carbon dioxide, I thought, “Damn, I’m going to have to add increased carbon dioxide levels into this series.”
It’s true. There’s more carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere than ever before due to human activities such as burning fossil fuels for heating and cooling and travel and electricity, cutting down trees, pouring cement, and eating plenty of meat. This trend doesn’t look as if it’s changing anytime soon. And if, as a fiction writer, you create a future on earth, there are consequences for your characters.
It’s time to consider: what will humans on earth experience in a high carbon dioxide world?
Climate Impacts. This is the effect most people consider when they think of higher carbon dioxide levels. Carbon dioxide acts as a blanket and holds heat in. What will happen? Here is a detailed prediction based on each part of the globe. Coastal areas will be flooded. My series takes place in the Midwest. Displaced people might have to move here. I’m not sure Midwesterners will enjoy the crowds. Warmer temperatures could mean fewer blood clots in the elderly.
More rust. Yes, carbon dioxide plus water forms carbonic acid and this hastens corrosion.
More ocean acidity.All life depends on the proper pH balance to maintain itself. Carbon dioxide dissolves in water and when it does, it forms carbonic acid. This acid does bad things to ocean life such as dissolving shells and bleaching coral. Fish could have seizures or even lose their minds.
Mental challenges. Fish won’t be the only animals out of their minds. In humans, increased anxiety and depression are associated with increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Drowsiness and reduced reasoning ability also occur. This is why people should not take tests or make decisions in poorly ventilated rooms. Think about what life will be like if everywhere we go is poorly ventilated.
Other health implications. I worked in a building with high carbon dioxide levels due to poor ventilation and I can tell you, it’s no fun. Skin flushing, chest pains, confusion, muscle twitches, and crushing headaches can occur if carbon dioxide levels go above 1000 ppm*. If carbon dioxide levels increase at the current rate, this will be the outside atmospheric concentration in about 300 years. Human blood pH will go down–become more acidic–just as the ocean pH decreases with too much carbon dioxide. An affected person will breathe fast and deep which sounds kind of sexy but at high levels, the person might start flapping their hands and resemble someone out of a Vonnegut novel. To get rid of the extra acid, our kidneys will need to work harder in a high carbon dioxide world. Urine will be flowing! (As a side note, slurping carbonated drinks causes the same effect and irritates your bladder and promotes urination.)
Fewer mosquito bites If there is an upside, here it is. Mosquitos are attracted to the carbon dioxide in your exhaled breath. As background carbon dioxide levels rise, they have a harder time zeroing in on their prey.
Drowsy characters flapping their hands and going to the bathroom all the time–what am I going to do with that premise? And yet, this could be the future. Can technology save us? Yes, probably, but only if we invest in it and that’s not going to happen if we live in denial of the consequences. And will everyone have the technology or only a few? I’m sure you can answer that question in your next novel. I know I’m going to have to.
*Carbon dioxide levels are usually expressed as ppm or parts-per-million. When I was a kid, the level was around 300 ppm. When I was in college it was 320 ppm or so. Today, we have already shot past the 400 ppm level. It’s thought that once we get to 450 ppm, we will begin to see climate effects that will be difficult to reverse
I was working out the other day and I mentioned offhandedly that I was short so I needed to take care of my joints because short people have less cartilage in their joints and are more prone to arthritis. My tall companion was shocked by this. But it’s true. Short people are more likely to get arthritis than taller or average sized folks. The health woes of short folks doesn’t stop there.
People with short legs compared to their bodies also face an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease. The average leg to height ratio or inseam to height ratio is 45%. If your ratio is less than this, you will want to take extra care to avoid sweets and the subsequent heart inflammation they can cause. It’s believed that the substance that causes growth, IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor), acts as an anti-inflammatory. Less of that, more inflammation.
Short people are more prone to live longer due to genetics. They are more likely to have more children and maintain their fertility longer. And of course, a shortie can tuck into an airline seat with no problem. I even find it easy to sneak up on people. One time I was sitting and waiting for an appointment and the boss (former boss) ran out of his office ranting that he was going to kick various asses. Then he said in astonishment,”I didn’t see you there.” Hehe.
There are over 40 genes that regulate height. The ideal height and the health effects of height haven’t been studied much yet. Certainly we need to look into this more before we start editing our offspring to be tall. In fact, we need to consider that a preference for tallness in our society is prejudice, as Europeans are taller than people from other parts of the world. In any case, people of various heights can be aware of their health risks and take steps to keep healthy and to live long and prosper. And short people, We now know why you stay on the porch…wink, wink.
I don’t usually write about “authoring” because there are many more well-known authors who do this. However, the other day I went to an author book fair and I was complimented on my table. I thought I’d share what I did to get the flattery.
Here’s a photo of the table complete with a reader:
You can see that I kept it simple. No banners or anything hard to carry.–just the books, business cards, and some giveaways. The purpose of the giveaways is to get my name out there, inspire people to buy the ebook, and maybe bring people to this blog.
Here are the giveaways–one modern and one historical. Both were carried off with equal success. The idea to put a Qr code on the modern giveaway–a science notepad, came from author Em Shotwell. You can get a Qr code generator and reader many different places.
So, I didn’t have food or candy at my table, as I have in done in the past. I’ll never forget last year in Pella and those kids running all over a library with my GoldRush Gum giveaway while their mom ignored them. That being said, the fair last month was not well attended and I sold less than ten books. Since it cost $50 to register, there wasn’t much profit in the day. However, the best way to sell books is still word of mouth.
Along the lines of authoring, getting started isn’t cheap. You really have to have a patron or be rich yourself to be able to do it full-time. I am neither but still plug along. I have set up some marketing surveys designed as giveaways, If you are interested in what genres attract the most attention, take a look here and here.
Humans are co-operative breeders. This is one thing that sets us apart from apes. Helpless human babies can’t be raised alone. This leaves a woman without a stable, reliable partner or complete set of available allomothers vulnerable.
Having a baby can cause depression and so can abortion. However, if a woman chooses abortion, she may be a victim of bullying that will cause that depression. There will be a rush to make her feel shame even though it is natural for a human to not want a baby if a suitable partner is not there. Making a woman feel guilty about her choice, blocking her access to choice, is misogyny. I experienced that misogyny even though I was having the baby. (see previous post). The protesters didn’t like my choice of clinics which I made for 100% economic reasons. I was, after all, a poor graduate student and tax reform had taken a bite from my research stipend. And I was having issues with my health insurance even though I had bought an extra plan in case I got pregnant. Some things never change.
Polyandry, abortion, infanticide, and abandoning of offspring commonly occur across the animal kingdom when mothers are denied the resources and safety they need. An unprepared mother will not nurture her young. Hamsters on a high corn diet, for example, will suffer from vitamin B deficiency and eat their babies.When females don’t have the proper support systems, they naturally put their own health and the health of the children they already have first. That’s well known.
Legal abortions save lives. A woman dies from an illegal abortion once every 11 minutes. Countries with legal abortions do not see an increase in abortions. Where abortion is legal, about 34 out of 1000 women seek an abortion. In countries where it is illegal, 37 out of 1,000 women seek an abortion. (That information is from the Lancet by the way–a medical journal.) There have been several studies that have come to the same conclusion. Unsafe illegal abortions are deadly and pointless. Consequently, 60% of all countries in the world have legalized abortion.
For better or for worse, many women find they must use sex to get what they want. This can be anything from love to physical pleasure to social status, to a job, to emotional ties, to financial gain, or even help with the housework. Sometimes women are suffering from the old fashioned and false stereotype that you can make any man into a great partner. It’s unrealistic to think that chastity is an option. One of the stupidest phrases along these lines is that the only pill a woman needs is an aspirin between her knees.
Motherhood comes with a price beyond the $250 K price tag to raise a child For me, the price was taking a lower paying job with flexible hours. Fortunately, it was a job that I enjoyed although I will probably have to work until I drop to make up for the pay cut, especially now that my healthcare premiums are going up along with that deductible. It’s hard to imagine that health insurance has gotten even worse here in the US!
Despite the price tag, most people willingly pay the price. Ninety percent of parents are happy they had children. However, the US has a long way to go before I’ll believe its citizens care for life.
I’d like to thank my students for broaching this topic with me. It’s unfortunate that in this day of information, so few scientific voices are heard above the noise.
When I was a girl I loved reading the Des Moines Register and discussing current events with my parents. There was one thing I never asked them about. It was a steady drip of trouble that I didn’t understand. Women would be found dead, and they’d be pregnant, and although it appeared that a mass killer was on the loose, nobody ever went looking for him. Only later did I figure it out–these women had died from illegal or self-induced abortions or suicide.
During my first pregnancy, abortion was legal. I went to a woman’s clinic for prenatal care for the first few months. I had to walk through a sea of pro-life protestors to get there. Imagine walking through a crowd of bossy men and women making you feel guilty and telling you lies such as abortion causing breast cancer or that it is more dangerous than childbirth. It isn’t. Abortion is safer. I, however, wanted to have the baby.
Why isn’t every woman all about being a mom no matter what the circumstances? Why have women for centuries risked or ended their lives to end a pregnancy? The answer, of course, is that across the animal kingdom, pregnancy and childbirth are risky endeavors. The placenta and growing embryo compete with the mother for resources. The placenta has been called a parasitic organ that attacks the mother like cancer. Gestation is a tug of war between the mother and the fetus. When the mother is malnourished, young, has recently given birth, or is emotionally at risk, pregnancy can be a threat to both the mother and the embryo.
There seems to be a loose connection between pregnancy problems and bad relationships. If the woman is a victim of rape, she is more likely to have a pregnancy related problem such as pre-eclampsia.Pre-eclampsia is more common if the woman does not know the father of the baby well. The reason for this is not well-understood. If the mother experiences abuse before and during pregnancy, the baby is at increased risk of health problems such as autism.
Most women understand the seriousness of having a baby, the importance of pregnancy spacing, and understand the costs of raising a child. Women spend thirty years trying to NOT get pregnant. Yet, over such a wide span of time, accidents can happen even despite the problems with modern sperm. In the United States, “mis-timed” pregnancies are fairly common–more common than in many other places, although the rate has been going down thanks to increased access to contraception. Unintended pregnancies are most prevalent for women in poverty and those who live in the Southern United States. Of unintended pregnancies, approximately 40% end in abortion and the rest in birth. Women who have been abused are more likely to seek an abortion. Minors–adolescents–are also likely. Given that these women are in most danger, it is realistic.
Chemist and Shero Lisa P. Jackson followed her passion.
Lisa Perez Jackson was adopted as an infant and grew up in New Orleans’s Ninth Ward in the 1960s. The area was a vibrant center of African American culture with a high rate of home-ownership. Her father was a postman and Navy veteran who took great pride in serving his community and his dedication to the public good was passed on to his daughter. As a child in Louisiana, Lisa noticed that pollution deregulation helped the wealthy make more money but it was harsh for the poor who lived near waterways and canals fouled by the oil industry. She came to realize that environmentalism and equality were entwined and that people of color were most likely to bear the burden of environmental degradation. In her own words, “environmental challenges have the power to deny equality of opportunity and hold back the progress of communities.”
It makes sense though. If you see yourself as a whole, autonomous person with agency, you are more likely to see men as real people. You are less apt to stereotype them and more apt to like them and appreciate individual differences. You don’t see them as benevolent oppressors. You don’t see them all as boys who never grow up and can’t keep their evil urges under control. You expect that they are mature. You respect their intelligence and ability to be rational. You don’t see them as animals lurking to get women, animals that can’t even be left alone with a woman. You even know things such as only 6% of all men are rapists and that dressing provocatively doesn’t increase your chance of being raped. You know that men can and do control themselves. Just as women can be misogynists, men can speak and think ill of other men. Let’s not blame it on feminists. Even Shakespeare did it.
Traditionalists (the non-feminists) have more benevolent attitudes towards the opposite sex. However, we need to ask ourselves if that’s good. The anti-feminist women on Facebook said that they wanted “real men.” But what does that even mean? They were seeking some sort of stereotype, maybe a Ken or GI Joe doll. Benevolence comes with hidden sense of superiority and stereotypes. It often overly inflates the value of a partner based on looks or physical attributes. These women are more likely to be judgmental towards other women and towards men. They expect other women to always look young and keep a tidy house. They see men as sloppy, smelly brutes that need cleaning up after as if they were naughty children. In fact, in the aforementioned Facebook post, the women were saying things like “I love men, I want them to open doors for me. But their farts smell so terrible.” The truth is, women’s farts smell worse than men’s.
When you are young you might try on this benevolent sexism and the Mars vs Venus thing. However, it can be a terrible trap. If you like someone, they become more attractive to you. If you constantly see a battle of the sexes, you are missing an opportunity to know someone and see their attractiveness. All you need to do to realize it’s not an us vs them thing is to know some gay couples. They have the same problems! I will never forget a friend calling and complaining to me about his boyfriend and realizing that my husband and I were having an identical spat. In fact, feminists have long spoken out against this type of sexism, the idea that men and women live in two different worlds. How old is that plea to stop the gender wars? Over 100 years old.
All feminism is saying is that people have the right to chase their dreams and to be equal in they eyes of society. No matter what your sex, dream chasing is hard, so why make it tougher with false notions about each other?
When a young woman is burdened with a suckling infant and cannot fend for her family, she turns for support, not to her mate, but to a senior female relative — her mother, an aunt, an elder cousin. It is Grandma, or Grandma-proxy, who keeps the woman’s other children in baobab and berries, Grandma who keeps them alive. She is not a sentiment, she is a requirement. Kristen Hawkes, grandmother expert
My maternal Granny was the ultimate fountain of love and homemaking. She taught me to knit and crochet and bake from scratch. She loved to treat me with my favorite foods such as radish roses (just a regular radish wasn’t special enough) and cheesecake. She adopted puppies and kittens, fed the birds, and snuggled babies. My dad’s mother was adventurous and traveled and loved to learn new things. She had a supply of brain enhancing puzzles and toys and took me to museums and historical sites. She was quick to buy me things to expand my horizons such as lovely rocks (accompanied by a sheet of scientifically accurate information). Both lived long happy lives after their child raising years had ended and had a profound affect on me.
Many scientists have asked the question “Why do humans have menopause?” The very long postmenopausal lifetime is something unique to human females. In the plant and animal kingdoms, success is measured by how many offspring you can create so why do humans have a built in “stop” mechanism? Perhaps it’s because there’s more to life or at least to human life than just numbers. To love and to care and inspire is just as important.
Less is more. Less children of your own means a greater ability to take care of grandchildren and other youngsters you might love. Grandmothers allow their adult children to function and be better, less frazzled parents. There appears to be an advantage to having no young children when your own children begin to have children.
Chimps do not undergo early menopause and they have a survival rate to age 40 of just 7% in the wild! Not only do chimp babies have a poor survival rate, once childbearing is over adult chimps go down hill rather quickly. Compare this with humans who have a 70- 90% chance of surviving infancy no matter how harsh the conditions followed by an up to 40% chance of living to 90 after that!
Motherhood expert Sarah Hrdy noted that human babies require many calories, much attention, and a variety of caregivers. Mothers can’t do it alone—they need alloparents, including friends, aunts, teachers, and grandparents. Grandparents take better care of their grandchildren than the parents do. Kids who are cared for by grandparents have fewer injuries than kids cared for by parents. Children who have many “parents” also develop better empathy and the ability to see the world from multiple vantage points.
Historians looking at birth and death records from 1720-1874 found that having a living maternal grandmother halved the risk of dying as a baby back in the days before modern medicine. Studies of other cultures show that grandmas have very important roles in society: watching babies, guarding crops from predators, and carrying baskets and bundles. In fact old women appear to keep up with young women in tasks requiring physical activity.
Pressures of modern life can increase postnatal depression and grandmothers can help keep this away. New mothers feel a sudden loss of freedom and miss connections with friends and co-workers. Yet figuring out what to do with baby if mom needs to go out causes anxiety too. Even in the laboratory, if a mother rat feels she cannot control what happens to her babies she will become depressed! In the human world we have Grandma to the rescue. Parents can go out and leave baby with a known commodity. In fact, if your own mother can’t be with you after your baby is born, health care professionals now suggest hiring a post partum doula to act as a stand in mother to keep those baby blues away.
When I had my first child, I surprised myself. I left a high paying job for one with half the salary and moved across the country to be near my mother. Many times I’ve questioned my sanity about this decision. Now I understand that my actions were perfectly normal.
I’ll admit it, I’m mostly a scientist. But if you find your life missing kooky, nerdy female protagonists who like men and science, check out my books. They contain romance but focus on the protagonist and her society which makes them technically, not romances. Romances focus on the tension between two lovers and although this might be a sub-plot, it is not the whole plot for what I write. I write about society–past or future.
Click the link above and comment for a chance to win a Darwin bobblehead, Alice In Wonderland socks, a naked mole rat toy, and numerous buffalo themed items. This goes from now until Saturday night.
Sunday I’ll be at an author fair. Sometimes these are great and you meet new readers and other authors and sometimes you sit there awakwardly. But I’ll be there signing books–I hope. Fates willing, people will be interested. When I find the key to being a successful author, I’ll let you know. In the mean time, my day job is pretty fantastic. And thanks for visitng my blog!