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Re: [Channel-talkbio] Unit 11: Biology of Sex and Gender

From: Mary Johnston <mjohnston@haverhill-ps.org>
Date: Tue Mar 20 2007 - 14:49:06 EDT

Hi Karen and Ed,
  This was an interesting unit for me because I do not have much
experience with individuals who are confused with their gender and
sexual orientation. I totally agree with the statement in the online
text that "sex is biological and gender is subjective". I think there
are definitely people born with the physical attributes of one sex but
who for many different reasons just relate better to a different gender.
If that is how they feel, then I think nothing should stop them from
trying to become who they believe they should be. Identity is a truly
personal and emotional formative issue and it needs to handled with the
utmost dignity and understanding. I would have mixed feelings if my own
child were to express concern that she was not fitting with her gender,
but I would allow her to explore her options and at an appropriate age
make an informed decision about how she wanted to proceed. This is a
really difficult issue and I think it has to be handled on an individual
basis.
   One really interesting segment in the online text dealt with why
men's life spans are so much shorter on average than female life spans.
The text discussed some protective effects of estrogen, but now in 2007
hormone replacement therapy has been linked with breast and ovarian
cancer so it is not a viable option for many women. There was also
information about how testosterone, particularly in the teenage years
contributes to a surge in aggrression and behavior that leads in some
cases to premature death by homicide, suicide, and other accidents. It
has also been shown testosterone at any age increases LDL levels ( the
"bad" cholesterol) and decreases HDL ("good" cholesterol) thus
increasing the risk of heart attack, still the # 1 cause of death in the
U.S.
     The text also mentioned the protective effect in females of having
a second copy of the X chromosome, which can compensate for a mutation
on the first copy. Males don't have this "back-up" so they are more
likely to suffer from X-linked genetic diseases such as colorblindness
and hemophilia..
       Finally, the text mentioned that women tend to have a slower
metabolic rate that may lead to fewer "free radicals" and thus less
cellular damage that causes increased aging and may contribute to
premature death. On the other hand women are more susceptible to
automimmune diseases like lupus and when women engage in risky behavior
such as smoking, they have no increased life span over men.
        After reading all this, it seems inevitable to conclude that men
and women are fundamentally different on so many levels. The
differences do not make us unequal. They simply make us unique. I am
glad and proud to be a woman and I am so happy for the chance to be a
mother and give birth and care for a child. It is truly the most
fulfilling and challenging work I have ever done. Let me know how you
two feel.
Mary

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Sent: Tue 3/20/2007 12:00 PM
To: channel-talkbio@learner.org
Subject: Channel-talkbio Digest, Vol 7, Issue 6

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Today's Topics:

   1. Re: Unit 10 Neurobiology (Karen Blaustein)
   2. Re: Unit 10 Neurobiology (ed leitz)

----------------------------------------------------------------------

Message: 1
Date: Mon, 19 Mar 2007 14:28:04 -0400
From: "Karen Blaustein" <kblaustein@haverhill-ps.org>
Subject: Re: [Channel-talkbio] Unit 10 Neurobiology
To: "Discussion list for REDISCOVERING BIOLOGY"
        <channel-talkbio@learner.org>
Message-ID:
 
<69BB75AAB563AB418EEB93D45855D87D0196E2EC@hps-mail.haverhill-ps.org>

Hi Mary and Ed,
I also thought this unit was very interesting. I was glad to learn that
studies have shown that stimulating environments in the "golden years"
can increase neurogenesis and therefore increase quality of life. My
grandmother had dementia, but she lived into her 90's and I believe her
dementia started in her mid eighties. She was not very mentally active
during her lifetime, so there is still hope for me especially if it is
inherited! However, analyzing myself I must admit that I have a
horrible memory for names including movie and book titles. I am always
kidding with my husband that "Al" has the information. I recently
watched a program about memory contests. A man who was diagnosed with a
disease that eventually retards the memory decided to become active with
the contests in order to stimulate his memory. The contestants can
memorize the order of cards in a shuffled deck, 100 or more new names
with the associated faces, hundreds and thousands of numbers in a
sequential order. This is very impressive. The trick to doing this is
to associate what you are memorizing with objects or people that you are
familiar with. I think I will try to start working improving my own
memory by using this method.

As far as the other subject concerning the medical use of marijuana, I
can see both sides of the controversy. As we discussed in our weekly
meeting with Mary and Natalie, I believe we all decided that caffeine
and alcohol were the most detrimental to society. Both alcohol and
caffeine are legal and can be extremely addictive. As far as I know, I
don't believe marijuana is addictive or at least not as addictive as
either alcohol or caffeine. Alcohol and caffeine have extremely
negative affects on our health care system instigating an abundance of
illnesses that all of society has to pay for with increased medical
insurance and medical costs. Alcohol is also known to cause impairment
inducing violent behavior, breaking up families, and causing thousands
of alcohol related deaths due to car accidents. Marijuana is not know to
cause any of the forementioned problems. Should we ban the possible
medical benefits because of the unacceptable view of the drug in society
knowing that its affects are much less detrimental to society than drugs
that are legal? On the other hand, as Mary mentioned why should we
continue to "numb" our society more than it already is?

-Karen

________________________________

From: channel-talkbio-bounces@learner.org on behalf of Mary Johnston
Sent: Thu 3/15/2007 11:52 AM
To: channel-talkbio@learner.org
Subject: Re: [Channel-talkbio] Unit 10 Neurobiology

Hey Karen and Ed,
  I don't know about you two but I found this unit to be quite heavy in
a lot of material. I was really interested, however, in the
neurogenesis aspect of the unit. That old saying that "You can't teach
an old dog new tricks," turns out to be wrong because studies have shown
that stimulating environments result in the creation of neurons. Rats
given stimulating environments had 15% more neurons than rats kept on
boring ordinary lab situations. I think we have all experienced this in
our classrooms. On days, when we have a novel activity or lab or fun
video, the kids are much more receptive than on a day when we are doing
lecture notes. Of course, we need both activities to complete our
learning, but if we stagnate and always do the same thing, I think
students don't learn material as well. I think the same is true going
in the other direction. If you did a lab every day and never had an
opportunity for direct teaching students would probably miss out on some
vital pieces of information. I guess I am an advocate for trying to do
a little bit of everything each week to keep kids stimulated and keep
those neurons growing!
     Another aspect that I wanted to discuss was the medical use of
marijuana. I am against this. I was just watching on TV the other day
that students in California high schools where the medical use of
marijunana is legal are getting signed notes from doctors that say
things like stress should allow them to be able to smoke pot. Right on
school grounds kids are lighting up and fighting to get away with it.
Of course, marijuana is illegal on school grounds, but you can easily
see that this has opened the door to make getting high for non-medical
reasons a lot easier. Soon doctor's notes will be faked or sold and
people will abuse the system. Yes, there are a small amount of people
that marijunana might comfort or help out, but the vast majority of
people who smoke it are not doing so for medical reasons and it is they
who will try and take adavnatage of the system. Besides, there are so
many over-the counter and prescriptio analgesics as it is. Do we really
need to "numb" our society any more? Let me know what you think.
Mary Johnston

________________________________

From: channel-talkbio-bounces@learner.org on behalf of
channel-talkbio-request@learner.org

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Message: 2
Date: Tue, 20 Mar 2007 09:36:44 -0400
From: "ed leitz" <edleitz@hotmail.com>
Subject: Re: [Channel-talkbio] Unit 10 Neurobiology
To: channel-talkbio@learner.org
Message-ID: <BAY101-F35184BA5A8A39DE4A47FEDA0750@phx.gbl>
Content-Type: text/plain; format=flowed

Hi Karen and Mary

I agree with both of you in that it was a vrey interesting unit and also
full of very detailed information. I do believe that staying active is
a
very important role in maintaining good health and it is nice to see
reaserch to support it. I have always advicated that instead of all the
fad
diets, someone who wants to be health should simply become more active.
I
grew up on a farm in western PA and when I look around at all the "old"

farmers I see people who are extremely active their entire life. They
were
not on any special diet they were simply active. My grandmother lived
this
way for years and on her 90th birthday she traveled Australia and New
Zealand for a month. I'm a firm believer that hard work is better for
your
health than anything else.

Another aspect of this unit I found interesting was the neurological
side of
addictions. I believe that more and more people are finally realizing
that
addictions can be a medical problem and are not completely a lack of
will
power. If more of this research could be presented to the general
public
maybe we could work harder to support and try to cure those with
addictions.
  Having said that I still believe that those people who have addictions
must be willing to help themselves.

On the issue of medical marijuana, I am strongly against it being used
in
any aspect. I understand that may drugs are prescribed which are also
abused by the general public and that is why some medications have such
a
high street value. I also believe that so many people especially young
people already abuse marijuana that we will just be aiding their access
to
it. I also believe it will lead to more people breaking into and
robbing
pharmacies to get more of it. With caffine and nicotine I understand
the
affect they are having on out health care system however I still believe
that alcohol is the biggest problem. The affects of caffine and
nicotine
(especially now that smoking is banned in many public places) is more
centered on the person using it. Peope with a high nicotine level do
not
cause car accidents and take the lives of others. Also as Karen was
saying,
I don't believe nicotine and caffine break-up nearly as many families as
do
alcohol. Unfortunatley we can try education but that doesn't seem to
working to reduce alcohol consumption especially amoung teenagers and
the
only other option in our country has already been tried and proven to
not
work.

_________________________________________________________________
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Received on Tue Mar 20 14:51:20 2007

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