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U3A Writing: Intelligent Redesign

...How convenient it would be if a bloke could tuck his nose behind his ear like a pencil, until his missus had changed the baby's soiled nappy, or put his very ears in his pocket when his teenagers were into Rap, or the neighbours flinging crockery with wild abandon.

Merle Parkin has some suggestions for redesigning the human frame.

The other day I read about a clever architect who has designed a modular family home, to which extra rooms can just be clipped on as the family increases. They can as easily be removed when the fledglings have flown,. Later, if a granny flat becomes necessary for the failing mother-in-law, a room with shower, etc, could be installed out the back, with no connecting door! It would save a lot of moving into larger or smaller houses in changing circumstances.

Of course, the idea is just a variation of an old theme: witness the typical farmhouse, with annexes and built-in verandahs in the oddest directions. They built modules to stay put in those days. The aging
parents would solve the problem of too much room, by moving into the original corner, and closing the rest of the rambling place for the use of spiders and white ants.

The modern version - the wheel in/ lip on module - is quite a break-through. It strikes me that the concept could be put to use in many other ways.

I'm not about to get into any arguments about Intelligent Design or Mr Darwin's apes, but this tack-on thing would make sense in the design of human beings. How many times do we hear a young mother say: " 1 could use an extra pair of hands!"

Well, why not? If that slim, little blushing bride can sprout broader hips and well-developed mammary glands within a year, with a loud voice and eyes in the back of her head to follow when her first child toddles, why not an extra pair of hands? They could be taken off later, when she no longer needed them.

Though she may not wish to become an Olympic sprinter, longer legs and faster gearing would be handy when she spots the three-year-old down the yard tormenting a two-metre taipan, or glimpses the baby's nappy protruding from the surface of the swimming pool. She won't need this turn of speed as an octogenarian widow, so the extra leg modules ought to be detachable, and the gearbox adjustable too.

These days, breast-feeding seems to be the only acceptable option - woe to the poor mother who has no milk, or produces triplets at the first try! The kids will still get fed on something, but she's a pariah, wickedly subjecting her bottle-fed offspring to a life of failure. It's well known that an electrician, say, is a more thorough tradesman if he was breast-fed. One should check out these things before hiring a tradesman.

But I digress - let us consider the logistics of breast-feeding triplets, or heaven forbid, quadruplets. (Yes, there were such things before IVF, and no, the parents didn't choose a shortcut to the baby bonus.) However, with four babies and only two bowsers, as it were, one could easily forget which infant had been fed, with dire results. It would make the multiple-birth mother's task so much easier if she could just clip on a couple of extra modules round the rib-cage. Come to think of it, if all modules would disengage at a click, and hang above baby on a cup hook, Mother could take a shower or get the tea on while the children were getting their breast milk.

All sorts of benefits would accrue to various members of the family using the modular concept. What a boon, if fingers and toes would just screw on and off like spare spark plugs! Father could leave the gouty toe at home, while he went to work free of pain. A broken nail on the eve of some important social occasion wouldn't cause a ripple. Simply replace the finger, and repair the nail later. Now, wouldn't it be lovely if we could leave that tooth at the dental clinic, and pick it up when the root canal job was completed.

How convenient it would be if a bloke could tuck his nose behind his ear like a pencil, until his missus had changed the baby's soiled nappy, or put his very ears in his pocket when his teenagers were into Rap, or the neighbours flinging crockery with wild abandon. We humans could do with a bit of redesigning, don't you think?


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