Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Why I love amphibians, and hate the iPad

Obviously, I think amphibians are pretty frakkin' awesome.  If I didn't think thus, I wouldn't be doing the research I am.  What exactly do I find so cool about amphibians, you ask?  Well, quite a bit, really.  For one, the huge diversity of amphibians- morphology, ecology and behavior.  Tails, no tails; gastric brooding, dermal brooding, egg layers; vocalization for mating and social purposes; inhabiting rain forests, vernal pools, and deserts; the ability to distinguish kin, non-kin and other species, as well as recognize familiar and unfamiliar.  These little critters can do a lot. 

They also happen to be extremely basal vertebrates.  Some people might refer to them as "ancient", "lower", or "simple", while talking of mammals for instance as "advanced" or "higher" vertebrates.  This framing might work at a superficial level, but the connotations of these terms include a degree of judgment, that for some reason we mammals are better than our less derived vertebrate relatives.  It's not a coincidence, unfortunately.  Our western cultural history still bears the imprint of many centuries of Christian thought, and it was the teaching of the church for many of those years that there was a natural order, or hierarchy.  organisms were ordered from the lowliest of creatures to the most divine, and one of the early theories of evolution posited that evolution was this slow march replacing organisms with other organisms ever more closely resembling the Christian God.

We now know that that's not at all the case, but this idea that newer is better is pervasive.  In contrast, one could argue that the older less derived forms are actually better suited to competing for resources.  After all, if they weren't better, they wouldn't have exerted a competitive pressure that drove evolution of more complicated traits attempting to compete with older versions.  If amphibians had had no ability to compete with the supposedly vastly superior mammals that came later, then they would have ceased to exist long ago, to be replaced by these newer forms.  The identifying characteristics of the major groups of organisms can be thought of as the innovation(s) that allowed a group to successfully compete with the older, more tested organisms already in existence.

It's an important lesson, I think, that progress isn't better simply because it is new.  Technology for the sake of technology may be interesting from a theoretical approach, but practically speaking, unless it solves some problem or improves life, it's just someone's research.  Especially in our current ecological paradigm of a vast population growing even larger, and polluting in ever increasing quantities, I think it's important to consider practicality and functionality.  Technical obsolescence and style obsolescence may encourage the development and adoption of new technology, but is it always better technology?  The Apple iPad and its launch recently is what has made me consider this paradigm, because I have to ask, "What real purpose does this thing have?"  As far as I can tell, it does nothing new that can't be done using some other already-existing device.What does this product do other than pad Apple's coffers and our landfills?  I'm using this one example, but it's only one of many instances which I think maybe the older answer was just as good, and the newer version serves solely for profit and use of resources.  But then again, I'll also never give up my turntable.  Commence the cries of "Luddite!".

Sunday, March 28, 2010

More on boys

A while back, I wrote on gender equality in education from the mother-of-a-boy perspective, and today I wanted to continue in that vein of thought, but in regards to bodily integrity and medical autonomy.

For a while, female genital mutilation, or female circumcision gained a lot of attention as the human rights cause celebre.  Female circumcision has a number of variations, all including the removal of some part or all of the clitoral hood, and may also include removal of some part of the labia as well, and in extreme cases the suturing of the vaginal opening to a reduced size.  It is practiced mostly in African and Middle Eastern cultures, but also in parts of Asia and in immigrant communities in North America and Europe.  The reasoning for the outcry was that this was a cosmetic procedure with no medical benefit and the creation of medical risks, performed on an underage and often unwilling female in traditional societies.  There has since been some push-back, as women who chose to be circumcised have come forward asking that us nosy Westerners stay out of their cultural practices, and accusations of cultural imperialism.  It is important to note, however, that the acceptance of the practice and the reports of voluntary circumcision are by far the minority view in this matter.

Contrast this with the case of male circumcision: a practice that originated as a minority religious tradition, with questionable medical value, and also done on under age males, usually infants, but a practice that is unquestioned as "good" for the person to whom it is done.  Both circumcisions involve the removal of similar tissue- the foreskin removed by male circumcision is homologous to the clitoral hood removed in female circumcision, although it is common for female circumcision to go further that that, as I've stated.  Where the removal of tissue is concerned, the difference is mostly quantitative as opposed to qualitative, although the stitching of the vaginal opening is definitely a qualitative difference.  There have been some studies to show a decrease in the risk of AIDS and STD transmission with circumcision, but none of those studies to my knowledge have dealt with neonatal circumcision in Western societies, instead focusing on adult men in developing countries, so I question how well the results can be extrapolated from one paradigm to the other.

Essentially, my biggest problem is just what I stated at the beginning of this post- the issue of bodily autonomy.  Why is the usurpation of a male infant's bodily autonomy considered perfectly normal and natural and parents who choose not to do so are seen as "fringe" community members, while to do the same thing to a female is considered unthinkable and a human rights violation?  Granted, the bodily autonomy extends further than just this one example, and can favor either sex, but the stark differences in how the circumcision of males and females is treated really draws my ire.  Human rights are human rights, and if one sex has the right to choose whether or not they will have cosmetic surgery, then the other does as well, and no one else can take that right, least of all the parents.  We still have a long way to go on gender equality, I fear, and no one is a winner so long as there are losers in the world.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Responsibility and Right

Since the passage of the health care reform bill, I've heard lots of talk about personal freedoms and how they're being infringed, often with an admonishment that "This is America, you have to work for what you get!" which distinctly implies personal responsibility, in my opinion.  As the argument goes, the requirement to buy insurance or face financial consequences directly goes against one's personal freedom.  Most states also require the buying of auto insurance in order to legally drive, but no one claims that to be an abridging of personal freedom, at least no one that I know of in their right mind.  Left mind, maybe. 

This is an imperfect analogy, I realize, because driving a vehicle is not required to live.  It is, in itself, a right that is balanced with a responsibility, and that makes sense to most people in the US.  If you don't want to buy auto insurance, then don't drive.  Simple, in theory if not in practice in many parts of our country.  But I'm not writing this to discuss public transit, I'm writing about health care, so I digress.

What seems to be left out in the current discussion is the existence of EMTALA, the Emergency Medical Transportation and Active Labor Act.  This act requires a hospital to provide emergency and stabilizing care regardless of insurance or ability to pay.  If you present with an emergency situation, the hospital must stabilize you (and active labor is considered an emergency under this law) FIRST, then they can worry about how or if you are going to pay. 

What EMTALA does is give you the patient the right to prompt, life saving care, without the wait to check your financial or insurance status.  But this right is balanced by nothing on your part.  In my opinion, the health care reform law balances EMTALA by giving patients the responsibility to attempt to take care of themselves financially by having health insurance.  We do have the option of balancing the equation by taking away EMTALA, but I don't want to be the one to explain to a laboring woman or a man having a heart attack "Please wait here while we check if you have insurance or can otherwise pay for our services". 

Essentially, when faced with the choice between personal responsibility and social responsibility in the United States, we have chosen personal responsibility.  We provide *very* little social support system, on the basis of the Protestant Work Ethic where one works for what they have, and gets what they earn.  However, we require emergency medical care to be provided outside of this framework and without regard to payment ability.  If we put that responsibility onto hospitals, then we need to have patients bear some responsibility as well, and that responsibility on patients is health insurance.  No other profession is required to provide services in this manner. 

Aside from revoking EMTALA, the only other viable option we have is single-payer health care like most other developed nations.  Our choice really comes down to 1) do we want to be a civilized nation that values life, or 2) do we want everything including health care to be based upon the system of desert and assert ourselves finally and irrevocably as a country that values money.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Monday, March 22, 2010

Broader Reach

It has of late come to the forefront of my attention exactly how much our perception of one thing can influence our evaluation of something completely different.  I am as guilty of this as anyone, although I try my utmost to avoid this contamination of prejudice.  Kind of like an extended negative association.  Negative association is the psychological phenomenon that lead Watson to seriously damage little Albert by connecting in his mind negative consequences (in this case fear caused by a loud noise) with a benign object, in this case white fur.  The child was so traumatized that the child couldn't be approached by women in fur coats for years after the experiments, so the historical story goes.

Likewise, if you are highly opposed to supplements, then you may extrapolate that dislike to other things associated with supplements, even simply items in the same aisle of the grocer's as supplements- energy drinks, Ensure-like supplements, Emergen-C, air-sickness bands, or Ora-Gel for example.  There's nothing that inherently links these items other than there placement in a store, but that association with supplements creates a dislike towards the other items.  That's not to say there isn't a reason to dislike some of these things; supplements especially have questionable contents, little to no regulation and are far over-marketed.Our minds play funny tricks like that.  Similarly, a bad experience with Aunt Edna's* latest "low-fat, low-sugar, high-fiber" recipe may be so bad as to turn a person off any food that claims to be "healthier" or "natural". 

The worst thing that I can think about in regards to this scenario is when the phenomenon leads to discrimination against a group of people.  This week, it appears that our Congress will debate and possibly vote upon the biggest health care reform legislation since the creation of Medicare/Medicaid.  This possibility has created serious tensions and much backlash, especially from those in the Tea Party movement.  Reports in my state's capitol of Columbus this week included the heckling and harassment of a peaceful pro-health care reform protester who happened to also have a disability.  The Tea Partiers went so far as to throw money at this man, and proclaim such things as "I'll decide when you get money" and "There's no handouts here- you have to work for what you get."  These were not illiterate high school drop outs, either, but instead well-dressed, professional looking individuals.  In our country's capitol, there were ethnic, racial, and sexual orientation slurs thrown about, and spittle hurled at some of our members of Congress.

What madness has possessed people to sink to such blatant straw-man attacks rather than discuss the merits and drawbacks of the legislation at hand?  It hurts to see humanity sink to this level.  It hurts more to see this happen in my own country, and my own time.  This is not the Spanish inquisition.  This is not Selma, Alabama in the 1960's.  This is not the McCarthy hearings of the 1950's.  This is 2010, in the United States- a country founded by rational thinkers of the Enlightenment period. 

*For the record, I have no Aunt Edna of which I know.  There might be a great-aunt with that name somewhere, but no aunt, so I'm not actually libeling anyone.  :)

Sunday, March 21, 2010


A family member recently expressed concern about answers- mostly dismay at those who act like they have all the answers.  This is a family member that very vocally proclaims that Christianity is the correct religion and that Jesus Christ is the only path to eternal salvation.  This is also a family member whom I love and admire, and one of the few on my mother's side that I've felt a real connection to ever since I was a child.  The woman I remember from my childhood was much more accepting, or maybe I was more naive; in either case, it has only been in my adulthood, and fairly recently at that, that she and I have discovered our distinct differences of opinion.  Needless to say, she and I have of late had a few words that were not necessarily heated, but not very warm either.  Her comment stung, because framed by discussions we had previously had and other circumstances, it felt like the comment was targeting me. 

I'll be the first to admit that I don't have all the answers.  If asked a question, I'll either tell you the answer (if I know it) or say I don't know.  I don't like pretending.  I like to find answers to questions that I don't yet know the answer.  I also know that many of the big questions may have answers that vary based on the person.  Given ethical, moral, or philosophical questions, two people with similar knowledge of the situation may very well come to drastically different conclusions based on individual histories and experiences.  And I'm OK with that.  I'm also OK with staunchly defending the answer at which I have arrived on those big questions when the answer is one that suits me and someone tries to sway me a different direction.  I have a right to my answer, provided it does not infringe on anyone else' rights, just like others have a right to their answers, again provided they don't infringe on another person's rights.  That's one answer that I don't think is open to interpretation- that individuals can disagree, and so long as no one is harmed or rights are abridged, the disagreement does not need to be changed.  These varying answers add spice and variety to life.  They make it more interesting.

So please, unless the question is a subjective one, let our answers differ and our lives go on.  Until someone is actually affected by the difference of opinion, there's no harm and no foul, but we've both been exposed to a different view point and had our horizons broadened.  I say this as much for my own benefit and reminder as for anyone else.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Coming to the Table

A friend and I recently attended a meeting of the Kent City Schools Wellness Advisory Board.  By recently, I mean about a month ago or more, but it's taken awhile for me to sort this out and, well, life got in the way.  We went to that meeting planning on talking about how we wanted to see better food in the schools.  we wanted food not to be used as an incentive.  We value children' health and want to see obesity rates lowered.  We're afraid of the corn-flavored sodium pellets that is "industrial sized" cans of corn.  We are acutely aware that ketchup does not actually count as a vegetable.  In short, we came to the table to share my concern about they were feeding children, mine and others and talk about how to improve food choices.

Imagine my surprise when the teachers and school employees that were in attendance started expressing their concern over what parents were feeding children.  The teachers were frustrated that they could only control what food and nutrition messages children received at school.  They were afraid that children would come to school, learn good nutrition, and then go home and be fed nothing but Doritos and soda by parents.  In short, they came to the table to talk about how best to educate children.

Both of these things- good options and good education- are necessary to beat something like the childhood obesity epidemic.  Both sides were right in our concerns.  However, little was done at that meeting and I have little hope for things to change in the near-term future.  Granted, this was more of an organizational meeting than a planning meeting, but even for what it was, there was little really accomplished.

Part of the lack of any movement on the subject is the lack of trust that both parties exhibited and felt, I think.  I realize Ken doesn't have the normal "kid" diet.  He doesn't get high fructose corn syrup or artificial food coloring if he's at home.  This helps his diet as well as my sanity- you don't want to know what his reaction is to Red #40, it's not pretty.  He also gets the vast majority of his grains as whole grains.  We eat mostly organic.  No store-bought canned veggies; just fresh when they're in season, frozen, and home-canned from fresh.  He's mostly vegetarian, although we have been letting him try meat at home  lately, where we know what the animals have been fed and how they have been treated.  I don't fit the school's idea of their student's parents lack of education.

The school where the meeting was held also wasn't what I had envisioned.  At the high school, there were things that I would almost consider eating.  They have a salad bar and a burrito bar.  They have real food, by US standards.  The school cafeteria that I remembered from my childhood was only a small portion of the options that were present.  This cafeteria more resembled a mall food court than the cafeteria in which I grew up.  It didn't fit my preconception of the food choices available.  It was also not what the lower grades' cafeterias looked like and those are closer to my view of a cafeteria, I was told by one of the teachers.

In retrospect, we all would have done better to leave our preconceptions at the door before coming to the table.  We would have done better not to have pre-judged the other side.  We would have done better to think outside of the "us" and "them" style of combative mentality.  We would have done better to trust each other until proven otherwise.  I think these are good lessons for accomplishing goals in many more areas of life.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Plun Creek Park Revisited

It's been one winter and lots of work since I announced my excitement over the Plum Creek Park renovations, and I figured it's time to update.  I decided this because, well, we finally got out to the park the other day, and yowzers, have things changed there!  I know I didn't post "before" pictures, but I will be posting some "afters" marked up to point out the big changes.  We're really excited.  Plum Creek is a tributary of the Cuyahoga, which means Crooked River.  Plum Creek when we moved to Kent was less a crooked anything or a river, and more a stagnant, wide, shallow pond.  Capped by a crumbling dam near the bridge.  Not anymore!

Please excuse the crap photos- we didn't have time to go until right at sundown and it's my first shot at stitching photos to make a panorama.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Ken and I walked down to have some Chinese tonight because it has been a long couple of days and I needed a break.  I know, bad mama.  We've had some uncharacteristic-for-Ohio-warm-weather, and by uncharacteristic, I mean nearly 60 today.  Gorgeous.  I had gotten up early, finished stuff for my class and sent it off to students, had a celebratory breakfast coffee, delivered supplies to the classroom for another teacher, volunteered four hours at our local NPR station WKSU 89.7, had an eye appointment and did some grocery shopping.  All with boy in tow (well, except volunteering, but he'll be with me Thursday when I go in again).  At home, we cleaned up the yard some.  Melted snow had uncovered bits and pieces of trash in the yard, as well as the usual spring sticks and pine-cones, so we were off to collect those and put them in their proper place.  Under the guise of practicing for the upcoming egg-hunt.  I love my easily bribed child.

What does any of this do with frustration, you ask?  Wasn't Ken behaved like a model child?  Actually, for once, he was.  No complaints there.  I know- shock.

My frustration is with the lack of general respect.  I'm not sure if it's just a by-product of the winter's neglect now being exposed, or heightened sensitivity to it because of the stray human upstairs who lacks respect in spades, or just the spring winds.  We moved to the area in which we currently reside in part out of a feeling that you can not change something from the outside.  If you want to help people, you do it by becoming part of their community, full time, not just on organized work days or before going home for the night.  You help by getting in there and living among those you want to help.  And Dwight and I both have a streak of social justice, so we moved to the "poor" side of town in hopes of learning and helping while living a frugal life. 

And learn I have indeed.  I can't speak for Dwight because he does in fact have his own mind.  Again- shock, right?  I've learned that if people aren't shown respect in their society, they learn that they don't deserve respect.  If someone has no self-respect, respect for anyone or anything else- including the environment- is a lost hope.  That person then shows others no respect, and they in turn learn that they don't deserve respect, and a vicious cycle ensues.  This cycle is broken not by teaching each and every person that they do in fact have worth, but by teaching society as a whole that all people have worth.  We do it by rebuilding community from the inside out, a little at a time, slowly, and eventually life looks very different. 

So Ken and I started by demonstrating the respect for our community on our walk- we picked up some trash.  Really, quite a bit.  Not all, but a lot.  And we talked to our neighbors after our long winter's nap.  A couple of them even joined in the task.  We did something.  I know it's not a lot, but it's something that I hope to continue doing now that the weather is warming.  Even little mundane tasks like this can make a huge difference.  Hopefully, it's for the better.

As an aside, I'd like to point you to Time Banks.  We might be getting one in Kent, and it looks like another great way to help rebuild communities from the inside.  In fact, I think I may just go ahead and do it.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Happy Belated Pi Day!

To celebrate the event, I'm posting my dad's classic bad joke.  Really- it's bad.

A farmer and her husband work hard, live frugally, and save every penny they can so that when they're old enough, their children can go to college.  That day finally arrives, and they proudly send their first child off to school.  Upon returning home for winter break after his first semester, the boy is quizzed by his father, who was smart in the ways of the world, but uneducated in academic disciplines. 

"What'd they learn you at college?" asks the father, who had always admired education but accepted it as not his fate.

"Pi(r)2" responded the boy.

To which his father, incensed and red-faced, replied, "BOY!  You ain't learned NOTHIN'!  Pie are round; CORNBREAD are squared!"

Ba-dum-bum.  I told you it was bad.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Cognitive Dissonance Much?

I find myself in the peculiar position today of being a staunchly feminist woman advocating for boys rights.  I know- it sounds even odder on this side of the screen.  I'm doing this because really, I think for both genders, there are some serious human rights issues that don't get enough attention, and equality means just that- equality.  If persons of either gender suffer abuse, discrimination, or inaccessibility to services because of their gender, then that is not equality.  Yes, obviously there are some distinct biological differences between males and females, but a person's access to education really shouldn't be influenced by their biological sex.  And as I was informed yesterday by my son's pediatric provider that it most definitely was.  Apparently the current thinking is to wait until boys are almost or already six years old before starting them in kindergarten.  The reasoning that I was given is that boys can't be expected to sit still for classes before then, which strikes me as the typical "boys will be boys" excuse. 

What does this teach boys?  To tell children going into public education that boys can not, and thus should not be expected, to behave themselves in a classroom appropriate manner until later than girls?  To tell them that younger girls are behaviorally on par with their older boy class mates?  Doesn't this just set up lower expectations for boys?  Doesn't it just say "It's OK, we don't expect as much out of you as we do girls, you are a boy, after all.  It's not like you can control your own behavior."  Doesn't this just lay the foundation for later sexual harassment and possible abuse to be excused with an "It's not my fault; she wore a revealing outfit."  We've accepted the fact that when we set the bar lower for girls, we set them up for failure.  If we tell girls it's OK to be bad at math and science, then they are less likely to seriously try math and science.  Why can't we see that the same is true for boys? 

Public education is just that- open to the public.  Not the public of one gender.  If boys are not ready to sit still and learn at kindergarten age, then why is kindergarten structured in a way that favors girls, who supposedly are behaviorally ready?  I'll admit Ken is an active child; anyone who knows me has heard at least a tale or two of being lapped by a small child.  It happens frequently in our house.  I get that boys are active.  So are girls.  Frankly, I'm almost thirty and I have to get up and stretch and be active for a little bit every couple of hours or I go stir crazy.  I understand the need to be not looked into a desk all day.  Why do we expect children of any age to do what even adults have trouble doing?  Especially when we're facing an epidemic of childhood obesity, shouldn't we be encouraging all children, regardless of gender, to get up, move about, and exercise, and provide them ample opportunity to do so? 

I see similar differences in treatment when it comes to certain medical procedures, but that post will have to be written another time- I need to get out and run a bit. 

Monday, March 8, 2010

N-Dimensional Hyperspace

Let me preface by saying that for a number of years when I was younger, I had my mind dead-set that there was no way in atch-ee-double-hockey-stick that I was going to stay in Ohio.  I hated it here.  Well, not really here- I wasn't in Kent then- but in my hometown of Lima/Elida.  My how times have changed, and by "times" I mean my point of view.

In ecology, we have the concept of N-Dimensional Hyperspace, or niche.  Take a selection of measures, and the range across which an organism can survive each of those measures is it's niche.  That might include temperature, altitude, humidity, light:dark ratio, oxygen availability, nitrogen content- whatever.  An organism that can survive only a very limited range across one or more variables is called a specialist, while an organism that can survive a broad range is a generalist.  Ohio is most definitely a generalist.

I think most people dislike or even hate their home area, at least as young adults, and I know that's the paradigm for many young Ohioans.  Ohio really has a bad rap- Rustbelt, Bible-belt, rural, agricultural, parochial- we've been called many things with negative connotations.  We're told that Ohio isn't cool by most of the rest of the US, if not actively, at least passively by the lack of attention given to Ohio.  Not much happens here as far as the media is concerned, and what does happen is usually not good. 

But, dang it, we're the heart of it all.  We've been the site of tragedy and triumph.  We've been under a huge ocean and one of our children first set foot on the moon.  We house world renowned hospitals and world famous sports teams.  Sometimes they even do well

We have amazing zoos, museums, arts, music, colleges, and vacation spots.  We have the Northcoast, and even a few islands, not to mention refugial ecosystems.  We stopped the last glacier, and we started the Clean Water act.  We have the Amish and the Third Frontier.  We have agriculture and culture.  And, for the last fifty years, we've been the predictor of presidential winners- not to mention home to eight presidents

Ohio may not be New York or California, but we're not trying to be.  We're just a good, solid state that does a lot of things well.  We're a generalist.  By now you may very well be sick of my doting, but as a writer from the Mistake by the Lake currently, I think it's important to occasionally recognize the underdog.  Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that home can rock.  I have to respect that midwestern pragmatism, humility and utilitarian attitude that pervades my home state, but we could do better at tooting our own horn.  I could take a lesson as well.

Monday, March 1, 2010

To Leidy

Dwight, Kenny and I got some great news yesterday- one of our sponsored children, Leidy, will be graduating this summer!  I'm just as thrilled hearing this news as I am hearing of Ken's accomplishments at pre-school.  We've been amazingly proud of all three of our graduated children, cried when one child died from dysentery, and been sadly shaken when a field office that served our child closed.  They're not at all related to us, we haven't even met them, just letters exchanged and not enough of those to boot- but we love them and are proud to have them in our lives, however little that may be.

Now, before you start, I do understand the myth of direct giving.  Unlike Jack Nicholson in "About Schmidt", I realize that our checks do not go to Leidy and her family.  There is no bank account into which our deposits go that is just for our sponsored children and their families.  Our money simply goes into a pot, and from that pot there is work done to help children, families, and communities throughout the service area of Children International and Plan USA. 

Honestly, I realize all this, and yet I still believe in the myth of direct giving.  It has nothing to do with the administrative reality of direct giving, but everything to do with the relationship that it creates.  I know our sponsored children, I care for them, they are part of my life.  I hear about their families, I see their writing improve, I send them pictures of our little life when I remember.  Our family feels connected to them, and their societies by extension.  We have extended our family to India, Pakistan, Zimbabwe, Kenya, the Philippines, and Uruguay thanks to our sponsored children.  It's solidified our idea of our family as that of the global family. 

That's the beauty of humans, in my humble estimation.  We have the capacity for logic, and we have the capacity to utterly ignore logic when necessary.  Sometimes we ignore more logic than we need to, but we sometimes get it right, too.  The arts would not exist but for our ability to ignore logic, and what is compassion if not the art of loving?  It's this ability to put aside logic that makes my faith in humanity continue.  As an ecologist, I have a serious dislike (read- deep seated hatred) of invasive species, and humans are the most invasive species yet to evolve. 

This leaves me in quite a quandary.  I believe in diversity, but humans really don't contribute to biological diversity, and in fact destroy much of it.  Life on this planet would be better for so many organisms if humans were to disappear, but out disappearance would decrease biodiversity by a small degree, but cultural diversity by a vast magnitude.  So I fear, as much as I disagree typically with control, it is control or mitigation that must occur in the case of Homo sapiens instead of eradication.  We can not get rid of ourselves or all the beauty that we can create will be gone with us, but for the sake of all other life, it is our prerogative to lessen our impact as much as possible.

Now back to your regularly scheduled mental wanderings.