Dentistry – dentinogeneris imperfecta

It’s bad enough having to look at the ravages of time each morning in the bathroom mirror. When your teeth start breaking, it might be time for you to don your best sealskin coat and boots and head outdoors towards an icy oblivion.

Luckily I am not an old-fashioned Inuit, so I do not feel compelled to remove my self from the family circle. Instead I will be sitting in my dentist’s waiting room hoping they can fit me in today to smooth the jagged stump.

tooth diagram

It’s a little embarrassing to find that  myageing parent.com is where my dental web surfing took me…

Broken Teeth
Decayed teeth, worn teeth and old fillings do break, often leaving sharp ends that the tongue plays with. This can result in tongue ulceration, which is very sore. Ideally, one should have a dentist smooth off the sharp piece as soon as possible. However, if this is not possible, usually within a couple of days, the tongue loses interest in the sharp object and the ulcer will heal.

Genes are largely responsible for the destruction in my mouth, and the Latin in this blog’s title. For those of a curious nature, here is a definition from  a Lithuanian dental site:

Genetic teeth disorders may be divided into two categories: the ones that cause dental abnormalities in babies (primary development) and the ones that impact adults (secondary development). Also, genetic diseases can affect the physical appearance of teeth.

The most common disorders are amelogenesis imperfecta, dentinogenesis imperfecta, dentin dysplasia, regional odontodysplasia, taurodontism, tricho – dento – osseous syndrome, oculodentodigital dysplasia, Hallermann-Streiff syndrome, Marfan syndrome, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and cleidocranial dysostosis.

Dentinogenesis imperfecta

It is another teeth development disorder. In this condition teeth are discoloured and transparent. They can be blue-grey or yellow–brown. Both primary and secondary teeth are damaged. They are weaker, easy to damage and prone to falling out. There are 3 types of osteogenesis imperfecta. In type 2 and 3 mutation of DSPP gene occurs (autosomal dominant trait). Type 1 is inherited in autosomal recessive way. This gene contains instructions for making two proteins which are necessary for normal teeth development.

I won’t be jumping on any flights to Lithuania just yet. In the UK we are very fortunate to have highly trained dentists still prepared to work for the NHS, despite the fact that there are much richer pickings in private practice.

Crowdfunded politics

Jo Cox

In the UK there is an organisation called MoreUnited founded by the former Liberal Democrat leader, Paddy Ashdown that is looking for contributions online. Their aim is to help get people elected who sign up for their core values.

Is this another way to boost votes for the Liberal Democrats or a genuine attempt to broker cross party support for key issues, such as the environment and climate change?

The name More United pays homage to a speech made by Jo Cox, the Labour MP in which she said that she found people in her constituency who were more united and “have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.”

 

Macron vs Gerontocracy

The French political system has been described as a gerontocracy, in other words a society ruled by old men. This description could equally apply to authoritarian governments around the world. The ‘old boy network’ helps to maintain the status quo, where privilege and wealth are tickets to political power.

Emmanuel Macron

Emmanuel Macron is a 39 year old, former Socialist,running for President in France. His style is similar to Obama’s.  En Marche! has the marketing appeal of ‘Yes we can’ with the additional excitement of an exclamation mark. Not only that, but En Marche! is the name of his focus group/party/think tank – delete as appropriate. His researchers widely canvassed the electorate to ask what works? and what doesn’t work? With that in mind, the party’s policies have been crafted for mass appeal.

He projects an image of anti-establishment, a man of the people, and is tetchy when quizzed about his privileged private education and investment banker past. His campaign aims to have broad appeal to disgruntled Socialists and those on the right. He is trying to appeal to business leaders with talk of relaxing employment legislation which could see an end to the 35 hour week.

Current Pesident, François Hollande, is encouraging voters to steer clear of Le Pen. Let’s hope they do!

Punk poetry

If you haven’t come across the punk poet, John Cooper Clark, you’re in for a treat. Here’s an example of his wit and verbal dexterity:

 I WROTE THE SONGS
I wrote the songs that nearly made
The bottom line of the hit parade
Almost anthems, shoulda been hits
Songs like… Puttin’ on the Ritz
Some enchanted afternoon
Twenty-four hours to Levenshulme
Dancin’ in the daylight, singin’ in the smog
You ain’t nothin’ but a hedgehog
So close and yet so far
Do you remember the way we are
I’d like to get you on a speedboat to China
From an idea by George Steiner
Ain’t no blag – uncle’s got a brand new jag
Ain’t no slouch – mama’s got a brand new couch
She ain’t heavy, she’s my sister
Not to leave out twist and whisper
Brand new leapardskin pillbox glove
Baby you and me we got a greasy kind of love

 

Back to Poetry

This blog wanders down many lanes that have nothing to do with poetry. Except that everything has to do with poetry. It is a concise way of holding up a mirror to the world, exploring ideas and playing with language.

Emotions are explored by neuroscientists, philosophers and poets because of their complexity and essential part of the human experience.

Martha Nussbaum, the philosopher, has some interesting thoughts about anger and society. This extract demonstrates one aspect of machismo that puts men to shame:

“Men in particular think that they have achieved something if they can make a woman mad, particularly if she is calm and intellectual. Often, they use the attempt to make you mad as a way of flirting, no doubt thinking that unlocking the pent-up emotions of such a woman is a sexual victory. (And note that they assume these emotions are pent up in general, not merely unavailable to them!) This exceedingly tedious exercise shows that they have few or no interesting resources for flirting (such as humor or imagination), and it really has the opposite effect from the one intended, boring the woman, who has certainly seen this before, and making them look very silly.”

Her book Anger and Forgiveness is now on my reading list.

Here is a poem that conveys the rage of anger:

Anger against Beasts by Wendell Berry

The hook of adrenalin shoves

into the blood. Man’s will,

long schooled to kill or have

its way, or kill the beast

against nature, transcend

the impossible in simple fury.

The blow falls like a dead seed.

It is defeat, for beasts

do not pardon, but heal or die

in the absence of the past.

The blow survives in the man.

His triumph is a wound. Spent,

He must wait the slow

unalterable forgiveness of time.

 

 

Visual Art

Having become a curmudgeon, it behoves me to criticise art exhibitions that get my goat. One such travesty was the Lost in Narration art exhibition at the MAC in Belfast. A slow motion film following a rhino called Sudan wandering about with its armed protectors in the wilds of Kenya is one way to feel time dragging you down. Projected with surround sound on a huge screen gave this work every opportunity to impress. Sadly it did not.

Sensational visual arts can grab the headlines. I remember seeing a film at the Tate in London in which the artist filmed his mother’s deathbed and her dying breaths. All very shocking, but is it art? There’s a question that has become a parody of what matters.

Tolstoy took a long while to formulate his thoughts on the matter and put them in writing in What is Art?. He came to the conclusion that art had a purpose and that the aim of art is to be uplifting. The relationship between art, artist and viewer should be a sincere endeavour to raise spirits and endorse high morality. Leo drifted off brief and did not so much give a definition of art, as see art for what it could do for society.

Art can be shocking, beautiful, gross, perplexing but boring? No. I do not need to be uplifted, although some aesthetic experiences have been awe inspiring in their beauty. I am not insistent that art conforms to standard ideas of beauty and craft, but I want to be engaged in sharing the conceptual space and not feel that it was a waste of time and effort on my part, or that the artist had no intention beyond self indulgence.

By the  way, the wee animals in the foyer of the MAC were gorgeous. The two kids in the bucket were my favourite.

Life

The taking of a human life can serve many purposes. Revenge is the most understandable. A victim’s nearest and dearest would probably want to see the life of their loved one’s killer ended. A life for a life. The state might endorse that sentiment, but dress it up in judicial terms to justify taking the life of a human being.

 

The sanctity of human life is defended by pro-life and anti-euthanasia campaigners. Would they be so keen to preserve the lives of child rapists and murderers, torturers and the perpetrators of crimes against humanity including genocide?

electric chair

 

There is an argument that whole life imprisonment is a greater punishment than the swift end to the murderer’s life. It certainly avoids the risk of executing the wrong person. Frequent appeals for death row prisoners can extend their imprisonment to decades.

In Arkansas they have seven such death row prisoners sentenced to die by lethal injection. One of the three injections necessary to kill the condemned is nearing its use by date and the pharmaceutical company that makes the drug refuses to provide further supplies on moral grounds. There have been reports of executions going badly wrong and prolonged tortuous suffering the result of the drugs not working as they should.

Execution should not hang over the condemned prisoner for decades and the killing should be swift and humanely carried out. That’s if you approve of capital punishment.

If it is your opinion that taking a life is wrong and is not a fitting punishment for murder, then you might argue that humanity is best served by life imprisonment. Murderers facing a death sentence have nothing to lose by taking more lives. A death sentence is not a deterrent for murder.

Humane justice comes at a price. Rapists and murderers have served their sentences, been released and carried out further rapes and murders. Execution would have prevented that possibility. There have also been prisoners sentenced for rapes and murders they did not commit. Their decades of detention at least made their exoneration possible and their release a possibility.

Some would judge society by the way we treat the worst offenders. Justice should not be an instrument of retribution, but the measured judgement of what is the right and appropriate punishment for wrongdoing.

We might find it easier to condemn war criminals and child murderers to death, But we have to weigh up the possibility of executing those wrongly accused with the permanent removal from society of its worst elements.

It is no surprise that the Turkish president with his newly extended powers is now calling for the reintroduction of capital punishment in Turkey. With the judiciary in his pocket and many of his political opponents in prison, the power to use state killing would not be in safe hands.