Children and cheer:
They continue to point out (Alison Abbott Urban Decay NATURE vol. 490 no. 7419 October 11, 2012 page 162) that living in a city predisposes people to psychosis.  The suspicion is that this is due to stress.

That’s a bit odd to me.  A city is one place where every detail has been arranged for the benefit of humans.  Dreadful things can happen of course.  Crime is more prevalent for one, but it’s rather rare.  If you are wandering though the woods and fall injuring yourself so that you cannot walk you have a serious problem to deal with.  You can expect to get help in a city, if not from the first hundred by passers at least a lot sooner than you could expect it in the wilderness. 

All right, I’ll admit I don’t much enjoy cities.  I enjoy having their resources around of course.  My mother once was in Baltimore and was looking for buttons.  She inquired in a shop and the clerk sent her on a short walk of a few blocks one direction and a few the other.  There the instructions ended.  She asked, which shop?  She got a blank look or a, “You’ll see.”  She followed the directions, and when she arrived there was an entire street with nothing but shops that sold nothing but buttons.  That, she explained, is the kind of thing you can find in a great city.  When I was about the same age as she had been it turned out I was living in Baltimore.  I had to get something done with an eight by ten condenser.  One moment. 

Back in the age of the dinosaurs we used a camera to take a picture, not a telephone.  The camera was a box with a hole (generally with a lens in it) you could open and close and an arrangement for holding a bit of film.  To record an image you opened the hole (or “tripped the shutter” as we used to say) and the light exposed the film. Subsequent chemical treatment of the film produced an image on the film that was color reversed or black and white reversed.  The bigger the film the more detail it could record and the better the final image.  Eight inch by ten inch was the largest readily available film for photography, although print paper came in larger sizes, as did x-ray film.   In order to get that final image you would take a contraption called an “enlarger” that consisted of a light source, a way to mount your film – now called a “negative” – and a place for the paper you would project the image upon, plus various light controls and focusing doodads and most expensively a “condenser lens.”  At one point you used your camera lens as your condenser lens, but it turned out that the optimal lens for one purpose was not optimal for the other.  Well the bigger the film format the more expensive the condenser lens.

So I had to have a copy of a large original oil painting by an excellent artist photographed, and it had to be in eight by ten format.

Yes, there was an eight by ten condenser available in Baltimore, one of two in the United States.  That’s what  you get with a great city. 

Stress?  Relax.  You can get anything in a city.  All right, the world is different, but a city is still an amazing resource. 


So they are looking for reasons that cities drive people insane.  Of course I can see two reasons.  If you live in a city it is quite likely that your parents were not cousins.  That means half your genes are trying to make one brain and the other half trying to make a different brain.  Forgive me for speaking without evidence, but I kind of think that could affect your thinking.  And of course the other issue is the lack of babies, or rather the disproportionately low number of babies.  I was not yet ten when I asked my father why there didn’t seem to be as many babies as there ought to be.  He told me to walk down town and count the bulges.  I didn’t say it, but I had, and there weren’t enough.  Even I could do that arithmetic.  If people lived to be seventy (yes, this was long ago) then in any one year one woman in thirty five needed to have a baby.  If she was going to be visibly pregnant for three months, then one out of every hundred women had to be visibly pregnant.  It wasn’t close to that.  It still isn’t.  It never is in a city.  Doom is constantly in your face.

I think it might depress people.  Of course current research will find something else because they simply are not considering consanguinity OR fertility as issues.  

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