In a post on The Value of Pain notes how it seems to be a necessity (beyond simply being Nature’s way of saying “No! Don’t do that!”) and how modern people, of the First World anyway, are ever more insulated from pain. This might not be as good a thing as might have once been imagined. As interesting as that is, what was striking was an exchange and explanation in the comments.
Margaret Ball started it off with:
Maybe we are becoming elves. A long time ago I figured that beings who could expect to live a very long time as long as nobody chopped them into tiny pieces would have an extraordinarily risk-averse culture.
And Sarah herself responded that she had had similar thoughts:
I’ve long wondered if time is circular and we are elves. Long lived. Few children, can do “magic” to medieval and earlier eyes…
Which led to Margaret’s question or quip:
When do we get the unearthly beauty part?
And then Dorothy Grant pointed out humans, at least of the First World, might already qualify:
You know, we’re kinda already there. I mean, how many faces at the grocery store do you see ravaged by smallpox, chicken pox, mumps, and measels? How many adults have a full set of teeth… or can afford dentures? How many elderly people aren’t blind with cataracts? How many people on the street have sun- and wind-ravaged skin, craggy and cracked? Where are our lepers, our amputees on their crutches begging for a crust of bread?
Heck, look around and realize that not only do we have easily a foot on average on the medieval lords, we’ve got all the plumpness that only the richest could afford… (Only a culture where famines never happen could value skinniness instead of plumpness as a standard of beauty.)
And when you look around the average collection of geek, you’ll find that we have the milk-white skin so prized as the most unattainable luxury by a culture that had to work under the sun all day just to not starve.
While I have met and worked with a couple amputees, they were notable for being that exceptional – and they both seemed to find that prosthetics didn’t help enough to be worthwhile for them. As for pock marks and such? Those are now largely teenage acne – and there are even remedies for that now, ranging from mild stuff available to anyone anytime, to serious prescription-only drugs. The modern food issue is either too much, too much of the wrong thing, or a matter of distribution. Starvation, where it occurs, is not a product of poor production, but of criminal governance.
Also, this makes those going on about how “evolution is no longer happening” look a bit silly. The humans are evolving themselves into elves of sorts (the pointy ear thing… mis-understood BlueTooth earpieces perhaps?), even if they are doing so without conscious intent. But that’s how evolution by natural selection works. If done with intent, it is called ‘breeding’ or even ‘eugenics’.
 Margaret Ball has some books that might be of interest. I am partway through the ‘Applied Topology’ series (Mathematics as ‘Magic’ – don’t panic! You do NOT need to be a mathematical type to be entertained.
 Sarah Hoyt has a number of books out in case, somehow, you hadn’t heard. I rather like her ‘Shifter’ books and the ‘Furniture Refinishing’ (‘light’ murder mystery, if such a thing can be said to exist) series. But don’t limit yourself. The Darkship stuff has won awards – and not Hugo or Nebula, but real awards that demand good story rather than narrative allegiance.
 Why, yes, Dorothy Grant also has some books that might interest you. I admit I cannot say anything as so far my reading has not gotten to that point in the ‘To Be Read’ stack.
 Emphasis mine.