Saturday, July 29, 2017



I was thinking about hands, what marvellous pieces of engineering they are, how the fingers move according to what the mind directs, how the fingers moved independently of each other in all directions, the value of the opposable thumb. As with everything in our lives, taken for granted until lost.

Today’s post: Some Miscellany about hands. More in the future.

You know how your fingertips become wrinkled when you are in the bath? They still haven’t worked out exactly how that happens but it is known that it is controlled by nerves. When the nerve which supplies feeling to an area of skin on the palm is cut, that area of skin not only becomes numb, loses its ability to wrinkle when wet. It also loses the ability to sweat.

In 1988, Spy Magazine's Graydon Carter called Donald Trump a "short-fingered vulgarian." To this day, Carter gets envelopes from time to time with photos on which Trump has circled his hand. "See, not so short!" is usually written on the packages in gold Sharpie, according to Carter, who said he recently replied to one saying "Actually, quite short." The issue of hand size has dubbed Trump ever since, although (in the interests of setting the record straight) it has been clearly shown that Trump’s hands are of average size.

Trump’s hand size was revived during the Presidential race when US Senator Marco Rubio had a dig at Trump during a Fox News debate by stating "You know what they say about men with small hands, you can't trust 'em."

Trump felt the need to correct him on that point. "Look at those hands. Are these small hands? And … if they're small, something else must be small. I guarantee you there's no problem."

Marco Rubio and Donald Trump in debate.

It may be the first time that a Presidential candidate felt the need to reassure the electorate about the size of his penis.

Which leads me to the visit to the White House by British Prime Minister Therese May in January this year. The PM was the first leader to meet Trump at the White house after his shock win. She inspired Trump to speak of the “special relationship” that existed between the two countries, a point he emphasised by being photographed holding the PM’s hand as they walked the Colonnade. Still, I suppose it’s lucky that that is all he grabbed.

Protesters wearing masks depicting British Prime Minister Theresa May (left) and United States President Donald Trump holding hands. demonstrating in London, Britain, against the proposed state visit by Trump to the United Kingdom.

In fairness, it should be pointed out that according to government sources, Trump has a fear of slopes and stairs and this has been mooted as the reason he reached out for Theresa May's steadying grasp. The fear is a recognised condition called bathmophobia. It has also been suggested as the reason Trump reached for Melania’s hand at the top of the aircraft stairs When Air Force One landed in Rome in May and when she famously rebuffed him again.

PM May didn’t miss the opportunity to have her own little joke about the issue when she spoke at the Black and White Ball in February this year, saying:
"Thank you very much for that wonderful reception. I don't think I have received such a big hand since I walked down the colonnade at the White House."


Almost 90 per cent of women and 80 per cent of men in the age group 75-79 years have x-ray evidence of osteoarthritis in their hands.

Contrary to popular opinion, humans - homo sapiens - are not the only primates posessing opposable thumbs. Chimanzees and monkeys can oppose the thumb to the index digit. What makes the human hand unique in the animal kingdom is the ability of the small and ring fingers to rotate across the palm to meet the thumb, owing to a unique flexibility of the carpometacarpal joints of these fingers, down in the middle of the palm. This is referred to as "ulnar opposition" and adds unparalleled grip, grasp, and torque capability to the human hand. This feature developed after the time of Lucy, a direct human ancestor, who lived about 3.2 million years ago.

Lucy, a 3.18-million-year-old specimen of Australopithecus afarensis — or “southern ape of Afar” — is among the oldest, most complete skeletons of any adult, erect-walking human ancestor. Since her discovery in the Afar region of Ethiopia in 1974 by Arizona State University anthropologist Donald Johanson and graduate student Tom Gray,

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