EVEN MORE ODDS & ENDS.
WHY DOES IT HURT WHEN ALUMINUM FOIL TOUCHES A FILLING?
Whenever two different metals are separated by a conducting liquid—such as your saIiva—voltage is created. Because a filling is grounded in a tooth, the current flows into the tooth, stimulating the nerve. The more dissimilar the metals in terms of electrical activity, the more pronounced the effect; those with gold fillings will feel more pain in this situation than those with silver-ased fillings, because silver is closer to aluminum than gold is. If the mouth were completely dry, there would be no conducting liquid and this painful reaction would not occur. The phenomenon of an electrical current stimulating a nerve was first demonstrate (though not fully understood) by the eighteenth-century physician Luigi Galvani. who made frog twitch by using brass hooks to connect them to an iron rail
For almost a decade February has been Afro-American (or Black History) Month, a showcase for African American achievements. but an increasing number ol artists and intellectuals are sitting it out, on the grounds that relegating African- American accomplishments to a single month amounts to tokenism and ghetto-iation.” Though these criticisms are not new, they are gathering force, with corp-orations as well as individual performers bowing out of the month’s observances. This February, for example, Arista Records will forgo its usual Afro-American Month promotions in favor of broader, ongoing out-reach programs: Home Box Office and Pepsi-Cola took similar actions last year. Supporters of the observance argue, often with regret, that a formal mean s for promoting awareness remains necessary nonetheless.
125 Years Ago.
Charles Dawson Shanly, writing in the February, 1870, issue of The Atlantic Monthly: ‘The peculiar cry of the New York milkman is the first that breaks the stillness of early morning. It has long been a puzzle . . . how this fiendish yell originated, and why that most innocuous and pacifying of marketables.... should be announced with a war-whoop to which that of the blanketed Arapahoe of the plains is but as the bleat of a spring lamb. The rural visitor who hears it for the first time in the rosy morn plunges out from his bedclothes and rushes to the window, expectant of one of those sanguinary hand-to-hand conflicts about which he has been so long reading in the New York papers. Instead of gore he sees milk; a long-handled ladle instead of a knife or pistol; and a taciturn man in rusty garments doling out that fluid with it to the sleepy-eyed Hëbë who clambers up from the basement with her jug, instead of scalping her of her chignon and adding it to the trophies at his belt.”
February 1995 - The ATLANTIC Monthly
I NNOCENCE LOST
W HO WAS EMMELINE?
According to local legend in tiny Fayette, Maine, she was a poor girl who, in a time of great hardship, was sent to make money in the cotton mills of Massachusetts. Innocent, friendless, and thirteen years old, she became pregnant, bore a child in secret, and went home; her shame unrevealed. Years later, when a young stranger came to town, she married him, only to discover that the young man she loved was her own son.
As EMMELINE lay in her coffin, her sister raised a hand to God and declared : “At last she has paid for her sins.” Readers of romance novels know this tale from Judith Rossner’s EMMELINE. Viewers of the PBS series The Amencan Experience have seen it dissected in a documentary called “Sins of Our Mothers,” which confirms that Emmeline existed and fills in much bleak social background, along with a lot of largely unverifiable oral history. In particular the filmmakers could turn up no hard evidence of incest, though to old-timers in Maine the fact is not in dispute. Now the composer Tobias Picker and the poet J. D. McClatchy have recast this sad New England horror story in the medium it cries out for . This summer The Santa Fe Opera presents the world premiere of EMMELINE the opera, and if the artists have done their work properly, audiences far from Fayette wil l believe and shudder (July 27 and 31 and August 9; (505-986-5900).
AUSTIN BAER is a writer based in Ndew York.
THE ECSTASY OF AGONY
“DON’T STOP, YOU’RE HURTING ME”
Almost everybody gets pleasure from some kind of pain. Some people like their food so hot it makes them sweat; others get off on the “burn” that comes from a hellaclous workout. Scientists, meanwhile, are hard at work figuring out why some things hurt so good.
Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital have discovered that the part of the brain called the nucleus accumbens, which lights up when people feel great pleasure, also does so when they feel pain. This, says David Borsook, one of the study’s authors, proves that there’s a bona fide intersection between pain and pleasure.
Your brain experiences pain in three ways: physically, emotionally, and as a perception of threat (that is, the fear associated with pain makes “alarm bells” go off in the mind). Previous research has already shown that all three sensations involve different circuitry in the brain. Borsoak is the first to pinpoint a key region in the emotional perception of pain, and the first to show that this perception is present in the same area that responds to pleasurable activities like eating, gambling, and recreational drugs.
The discovery will be particularly helpful in Borsook’s treatment of chronic pain sufferers. People with chronic pain have problems that have nothing to do with the sensory experience of pain, says Borsook. “Some have trouble getting pleasure out of normally pleasurable experiences. And some are prone to addiction. Now we have a better idea why.”
This is in reply to “Desperate in Ohio,” whose aunt used to recite a saying, but she could not remember the ending. My mother frequently quoted the verse to me when I was a child and wanted something. It went:
“If wishes were horses and beggars could ride,
If turnips were watches, I’d wear one by my side.
“If ‘ifs’ and ‘ands’ were pots and pans,
‘There would be no work for tinkers.”
— Neville E. Teague,
DEAR NEVILLE: Thank you for rushing to the rescue — as did thousands of other gallant readers. That question evoked some fascinating responses.
Perhaps this is an appropriate time to educate those readers who were born after the 1930s. A tinker was a craftsman who navigated city streets and country roads in a horse-drawn cart, offering his expert services to mend pots and pans — repairing broken handles, smoothing dents and, especially, repairing small holes.
The latter involved fashioning a moist clay dam around the hole; then as he blocked its interior with a thick pad of leather (or asbestos!), he would pour a small amount of solder into the dam. The solder cooled almost immediately, and the tinker would brush away the now worthless dam.
It was that elementary act that gave our language the expression, “It’s not worth a tinker’s dam,” or more simply, “It’s not worth a dam,” or even (Clark Gable to the contrary), “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a dam.”
And all these years we thought we were swearing.
— Gordon D. Rowe,
Chagrin Falls, Ohio
Return to the words of wisdom, Odds & Ends index..
Church of the Science of God
La Jolla, California 92038-3131
© Church of the Science of GOD, 1993