Sep 25, 2009

Sex: The ultimate gift of cooperation

I heard a piece recently pointing out that sex is a counter-intuitive way to procreate if an individual can reproduce asexually. If you can clone yourself endlessly why bother mating? Look at how expensive it is to have two genders. Evolutionary science wonders why sex came about. Why two genders to reproduce the genes?

Simple answer: Gene mixing. Sharing. We grow as a culture as we mix & share.

I suggest today that sex is proof that Marx was right. Humans succeed because we are so good at cooperating, not because we are so good at competing. Sure, we can battle with the best. Look at what we did to the Neanderthal. Those people were bigger brained, stronger, better adapted to inclement weather, and likely better attuned to the environment than we were and still we took them out in short order. Why? Cooperation! We based our social structure on communication, shared work, social norm enforcement, and gender equity.

The research into the advantage sex brings to gene diversity is conclusive. Sex allows strong traits of both genders to move across time together. Females can carry a crucial trait thousands of years with no consequence to the fitness of men. Then a change in environment or behavior could give that trait new value to the male of a species. In one or two generations that trait can become widespread in both genders. And, there's a case to be made for the interaction, communication, and empathy necessary to create a really good child rearing bond with another individual. Children raised by two well linked parents have tremendous advantages as they age to adults.

So sex is not an evil to be reviled, not some chore for baby making & no more, sex is nature's magic mixer. Good sex is our ticket to ongoing life. After 500 years of advances in our knowledge, I marvel at the record of science -vs- faith. Skeptics were right on the "flat earth," they were right on solar centric system, right on gravity, right on prayer, right on medicine, right on democracy, right on evolution, right on slavery, right on war, now we see they're right on socialism too! It's a sad day for the faithful, religious, and other as they realize how many of their dearly held beliefs fail.

Sep 24, 2009

A Gift of Trains: 30+ Santas Visit Bud's Playground.

Sometimes the words have to give way for the pictures! Thanks Bud.

Sep 12, 2009

Performance: A gift from friends

My friends gave this great performance today at Kings Fair! What a treat! Thanks Josie, Thanks Mary Laurel!

Sep 2, 2009

Making & throwing stone weapons: The gift of handedness

Unlike crossing the Rubicon, crossing the corpus callosum is a two-way task. We can go back across the connection between the two hemispheres of the brain. However, too often we are lazy, we don't push the thought process to use both sides of our thinking. When we're in conversation and the language centers are humming we often allow our sensing side to languish. When we're working out or moving in performance we often get into a state of languagelessness - a place where we might say we're "in the zone." These are a result of the dualistic nature of our brains. While the motor cortex works, behind the scene, neatly controlling the left side of you body from the right side of your brain and vice versa, our limbic system which surrounds the core "brain stem is exempt from hemispheric dichotomy and the cortex, where our "conscious thoughts originate, is usually under the glamour of this cross brain odyssey. ( what the heck does that sentence mean?)

Here's my idea. Our cerebral cortex –the outer folds of our brains; the place where language, tool use, conscious thought, creative juices, style, advanced planning and many other human traits originate– is hobbled to some degree in most people's brains because of the difficulty of processing ideas, thoughts and nerve impulses across the corpus callosum. Meanwhile, down low, in the core of our brain the limbic system, a knot of brain structures we share with mammals and probably marsupials & monotremes, the crossing is less an issue. And, when we get to the R-complex, that brain stem at the top of our spinal cord, it becomes entirely about reaction.

When we learned by mimicry to fashion and throw tools, weapons and play things we used the same hands for the same tasks as the individual we were learning from. As these skills were passed along from generation to generation handedness, in most cases right-handedness, became the norm. But, even this long, long evolutionary tree can be reversed. We can become ambidextrous or, less dependent on our dominant hand by practice. I assert that by working to be more ambidextrous we can increase our brain's connection to the other side.

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