The recent release of “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" reminded me of one of my favorite ape vs. man films – this 1932 video that shows a baby chimpanzee and a baby human undergoing the same basic psychological tests.
Its gets weirder – the human baby (Donald) and the chimpanzee baby (Gua) were both raised as humans by their biological/adopted father Winthrop Niles Kellogg. Kellogg was a comparative psychologist fascinated by the interplay between nature and nurture, and he devised a fascinating (and questionably ethical) experiment to study it:
Suppose an anthropoid were taken into a typical human family at the day of birth and reared as a child. Suppose he were fed upon a bottle, clothed, washed, bathed, fondled, and given a characteristically human environment; that he were spoken to like the human infant from the moment of parturition; that he had an adopted human mother and an adopted human father.
First, Kellogg had to convince his pregnant wife he wasn’t crazy:
…the enthusiasm of one of us met with so much resistance from the other that it appeared likely we could never come to an agreement upon whether or not we should even attempt such an undertaking.
She apparently gave in, because Donald and Gua were raised, for nine months, as brother and sister. Much like Caesar in the “Planet of the Apes” movies, Gua developed faster than her “brother,” and often outperformed him in tasks. But she soon hit a cognitive wall, and the experiment came to an end. (Probably for the best, as Donald had begun to speak chimpanzee.)
You can read more about Kellogg’s experiment, its legacy, and public reaction to it here.
So how do communities with limited electricity and running water in Ethiopia reduce infant mortality and dramatically improve newborn and maternal health?
With a system designed by Ethiopians for Ethiopia, and a lot of amazingly dedicated health extension workers and volunteers. (The tier system is explained in the first picture.) I’m obviously no expert, but from what I could tell the nonprofit funding worked precisely because it was helping people execute their vision, rather than trying to impose a strategy upon them.
Today, I visited a health center and then a health outpost, a small structure with no electricity serving a community of around 5,000. The Outpost (picture two) was staffed by two women who can do everything from treat malaria to deliver babies. They have a detailed and systematic approach (those files in picture three contain information about every family in their area), but they rely on the volunteer Women’s Health Care Army to provide education, prenatal care, and family planning assistance, among many other things, to every family in the area.
It was fascinating to start my journey at a facility that can do Caesarean sections and then follow the health care system into individual residences, where a woman can talk directly to someone she trusts about prenatal vitamins, contraception, and breastfeeding.
The health challenges here in Ethiopia are massive, obviously, but these volunteers are a big part of the reason that Ethiopia’s infant and maternal mortality rates are dropping so dramatically.
You’ll meet several of them in a forthcoming video, but I just wanted to share the amazingness of today’s experience.
Keep in mind, often the best charities or nonprofits or humanitarian help centers are the ones that hire locals and work with locals instead of dictating rules and strategies. People know what they need and there will never be one all encompassing plan that helps people everywhere.
"Just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas."
Rebecca Brink’s response to the ‘Women Against Feminism’ Tumblr is pure gold. See more.
"A great sorrow, and one that I am only beginning to understand: we don’t get to choose our own hearts. We can’t make ourselves want what’s good for us or what’s good for other people. We don’t get to choose the people we are."
Is Junk Food Really Cheaper?
The answer is NO.
The “fact” that junk food is cheaper than real food has become a reflexive part of how we explain why so many Americans are overweight, particularly those with lower incomes. I frequently read confident statements like, “when a bag of chips is cheaper than a head of broccoli …” or “it’s more affordable to feed a family of four at McDonald’s than to cook a healthy meal for them at home.”
this bullshit fills me with a very specific kind of rage. so, TIME TO DEBUNK!
- that meal from mcdonalds takes virtually no time to acquire AND is available almost anywhere.
- the second meal? that “salad” is lettuce … with nothing else, not even dressing unless its just olive oil or some milk i guess? gross.
- also thats the price of each serving, not an entire loaf of bread, a bottle of olive oil, etc. that stuff adds up which means you have to have a lot of money at one time to buy it all.
- that meal probably took an hour and a half to make, which is a long fucking time when you work multiple jobs or are caring for a lot of people or dont have help! seriously, if you are a single parent of three who works, is spending an hour and a half every night preparing a meal a likely option?
- same with beans and rice! also, you know whats a fucking bummer? eating beans and rice every night because you are poor. ask any person who has done it and they will tell you (you can start with me).
- there is a “nutrition” argument here that lacks a follow up: poor people are more likely to be doing physical labor and need more than 571 calories per meal.
- you know who is less likely to know how to bake or prepare a chicken? people without access to the internet, or libraries, or who werent taught how to by their parents because their parents worked all the time. access to healthy foods is a classist issue and classism is cyclical, you fucking morons.
- seriously, these sorts of infographics make me want to fucking flip tables. do you know why people don’t eat more fresh fruits and vegetables? because fresh fruits and vegetables are expensive, because they take a long time to prepare, because they dont live near a grocery store that has a decent produce section, because they dont have reliable transportation to get groceries to and from the grocery store, because they dont have the energy to plan all of the shit that is involved in making healthy, intentional, filling, balanced meals. basically: poor people get fucked, and then we get BLAMED for being lazy.
- eating “healthy”, aka access to fresh fruits and vegetables, is a privilege, first, foremost, always. so fuck you new york times and your ignorant goddamn infographic.
- there are SYSTEMATIC REASONS that we do not have equal access to fresh fruits and vegetables. they are very REAL problems. besides, you know, systematic poverty in america, the total mis-distribution of farm subsidies is a perfect place to start. read about that, then either get bent or start working on the actual problem.
Also a set of cookware and cooking utensils is a BIG up front cost, not to mention the actual cost of the electricity/gas used to make a meal