February 2003 Notebook Entries

Notebook entry, February 20, 2003

A lesbian friend of mine emailed me this story from a web site in the U. K. It comes from Gay.com U. K., dated Feb.. 19, 474pm, ET.

SUMMARY: A psychologist claims that a group of lesbian monkeys in Japan shows that Darwin's theories of evolution are incorrect.

Paul Vasey, of the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada, has been studying the sex lives of Japanese macaques.

According to Darwin's theory of sexual selection, said Vasey, the male monkeys should compete amongst themselves for access to potential mates -- but the macaques don't follow that pattern.

A colony of 120 wild macaques in the mountains in Kyoto shows enormous sexual diversity, including female-female relationships. Females will reject the advances of a pursuing mate in favor of their existing female partner 92.5 percent of the time.

"If females are choosing female sexual partners over male reproductive partners," Vasey told the American Association for the Advancement of Science, "that suggest a pretty fundamental revision of sexual selection theory.

"We've got females that are competing for males with other females, we've got males that are being choosy, males that are sexually coercing females...we've got females sexually harassing males that don't want to copulate with them, we've got females that have sex with each other, we've got females that are competing with males for other females, we have females that are mounting males."

Vasey said it is clear the females are deriving sexual pleasure when they mount other females. In some positions, he said, a female will rub her clitoris against her partner's back, while in others, "it's common for females to masturbate with their tails" where there is no direct genital contact.

"The traditional evolutionary theory says you do things in order to reproduce." he said. "so why would you do all this non-reproductive sex? To me, that's a really compelling evolutionary puzzle."

Hmmmm....all that sexual "freedom of choice" that is going on as described above seems to describe human choice, doesn't it? All data is not available from all the macaque populations in Japan in this "paper,", so we can not compare this data from one colony with another macaques colonies. But I'll bet you a half-dozen stale Krispy Creme donuts that we would find different sexual activity in those other colonies. If that is the case, then what does this tell us class? That cultural choice in this particular macaque colony, at a particular longitude and latitude on planet Earth, creates the social norm for those activities that encourages the forces of natural selection to function.

There is a whole slew of other information that this "paper" does not give us, including available food in the area, normal macaque population average sizes for their colonies, etc. In terms of the average size....if the population (natural selection and sexual selection) have reached their peak population, then there may not be any "natural selection" pressure to add to the population.....and since the macaques do not have "reality TV" to watch, (just kidding of course) then the logical course might be that sex is an ideal boredom reliever.

Notebook entry, February 17, 2003

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Notebook entry, February 11, 2003

The following two articles are a bit long for the notebook, but I have not placed any limits on what I write here, so what the heck! If you have been a regular reader of this notebook section, then you know that since Sept 2002 I have stepped up my personal involvement in Local politics. The second article is about a local lesbian couple that have come to my attention due to this process. The 700 word article is designed for entry into The Denver Post's "Guest Commentary." I sent the two pieces to the paper on February 9, 2003 via email.. So far no response.
Cheryl and Leona:
An Almost Typical American Couple.

On February 5th, 2003, my two friends, Leona and Cheryl informed me that some obscure state House Committee had killed a bill that would allow civil unions for same sex couples. The bill was killed with a self righteous proclamation that it would dilute the prestige of marriage and undermine the institution of marriage.

Let me tell you folks something: Leona and Cheryl are a couple that have lived together for 23 committed years, and despite the fact that they are of the same sex, they are so institutionally American suburban middle-class that they almost bore you to tears. They are two well-adjusted, hard-working, tax-paying, law-abiding souls, who grind out their existence everyday like the rest of us.

Leona is an attractive woman, in her late forties, and epitomizes everything bubbly and perky about womanhood that we Americans seem to hold dear to our hearts; you'd want her on your sideline cheering for your football team and baking cookies for your church bazaar. Cheryl is a bit older, tall, statuesque, brown-haired beauty of a power matron-in-the-making; her very presence exudes professionalism, attention to detail, and acuteness.

And their home? They live in a well-taken care of suburban home which has a sun room, gourmet kitchen, dinning area, family room, modest bedroom layout, and a storage basement - all typically American. From the family room, one can look out at their backyard which has the landscaped-display of garden and trees. They also own two, over active, yet, very large dogs whose only fault is that they attempt to assassinate you with their tongues.

These women are a living institutional embodiment of a typical married couple in all aspects except they do not conform to the hair-splitting definition that controlling dominates of our society force upon others as qualifications for entry into their protected hierarchies.

My wife and I were invited over for brunch recently, as most suburban couples occasionally do as a social function with other couples. After feeding us a typical Sunday brunch, they invited us to their family room for conversation. We exchanged the usual tid-bits of information about each others lives and touched upon politics, both local and national. But, Cheryl and Leona also shared with us an intimate moment of emotion when Cheryl told us about when she was delirious from pain medication while in the hospital for several days with a clogged abdominal artery. The tears of recollection began to flow when Leona shared her angst about her inabilities in making medical decisions for her loving partner of 20 years.

It made me understand that only snobby, non-caring, self-serving groups would look down on people and deny them the right to even visit their partner in the hospital, or more importantly, make medical decisions on behalf of that partner is incapable of doing so themselves. What decent, moral institution would deny the right of someone to dispose of their committed partner's remains, or the right to donate their organs? Only self-righteous elitists would deny the right of a person to not be compelled to testify against a partner in a criminal proceeding, nor deny the right to sue someone for the wrongful death of that partner. Only a dominate group would deny the ability to subordinate group to collect Social Security survivor and retirement benefits upon the death of a partner. Only powerful elites would deny workmen's compensation, or Veteran benefits upon the death of a partner to those groups they considered inferior.

Those points that I have just listed are just the tip of the iceberg. There still are issues concerning income taxes, marital life estate trusts, family business partnerships, bankruptcies, health and car insurance coverage, alimonies, and tax free bequests to consider The underlying movement surrounding the February 5th killing of the civil union bill was not about preventing the dilution and destruction of a moral institution, but the sending of a message to those subordinates in our society that the elitist in our local environment who are in power do not have to give the time of day to, let alone show decency and respect to, couples like our friends Cheryl and Leona. That is wrong.

************************************ second piece*****************

H.R. 2459:
It's Time To Be Aggressive For Peace.

As I write this piece, the current administration of George W. Bush is aggressively seeking the removal of Saadam Hussein by force. The dreadful consequences of these circumstances have not escaped me, and it was the last straw in what I considered my agonizing inability to change major events.

The administration's new aggressive foreign policy is about to pass a line in the sand that was established for me in an elementary school history lesson in 1955. My teacher pulled out a dollar bill from her purse and proudly announced: "This is why America is great!" She asked us to focus our attention on the American bald eagle on the back of the bill. "Look what the eagle has in both of its claws," she said. "You will see an olive branch being held in the left claw, which represents peace, and in the right claw you will see a cluster of arrows which represents war." She then quietly, yet firmly added: "The head of the eagle is turned toward the tree branch of peace for a reason: We are a nation of peace and we do not start wars. We do believe in a strong national defense, however, because it is the best way to protect our American values." But it was her final remark that left the indelible impression in my young mind: "We believe that this restraint is the best lesson that our Democracy can give to the world."

On July 11, 2001 -- exactly 60 days before the events of September 11, 2001 - U.S. Representative Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, introduced H.R. 2459: An Act to establish a Department of Peace, a cabinet level department to be on equal footing with the Department of Defense, (or should we rename it again to the Department of War?).

The proposed legislation opened with its findings that over 100 million people have died in the 20th century conflicts alone, and that "...violence seems to be an overarching theme in the world, encompassing personal, group, national, and international conflict, extending the production of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons of mass destruction which have been developed for use on land, air, sea, and in space. Such conflict is often taken as a reflection of the human condition without questioning whether the structures of thought, word, and deed witch the people of the United States have inherited is any longer sufficient."

Powerful words, but yet, I found this passage to be the most important: "We are in a new millennium, and the time has come to review age-old challenges with new thinking wherein we can conceive of peace as not simply being the absence of violence, but the active presence of the capacity for a higher evolution of the human awareness."

I know that one of the first augments against the establishment of the Department of Peace would be that it would just create another complex, bungling bureaucratic agency and waste taxpayer's money. But, then I would counter this point that at least it would not waste taxpayer money on endless military systems that continue to perpetuate failed policies of attempting to prop up democratic puppets in the world.

This aggressive policy that we appear to be entering is not my America. My America is Mom, Pop, Apple pie, high school football rallies and proms; open town meetings, tolerance of other cultures and ideas, a free, multi-opinionated press, and most all, a genuine compassion and concern for the welfare of others. The "domination and control" philosophy of being an Alpha male, putting your foot on someone's neck, grinding their face into the ground to gain your objective only achieves minimal results. It will not gain the respect of children who will witness these abuses -- they will one day grow up -- and remember. It will be their history lesson of long ago.

I say we must begin to aggressively search for peace and call for the reintroduction and passage of H.R. 2459, an Act to establish a Department of Peace. It is time for our human species to evolve to a higher level with America leading the way -- as usual.

Notebook entry, February 1, 2003

The March issue of Discover magazine is out with its cover story: Can the Brain Conquer Fear? p. 33, Written by Steven Johnson, tilted, simply, FEAR. At its core, the article stresses the importance that the brain seems to be wired to prevent the deliberate overriding of fear responses. It seems that the emotion of fear is one of the deepest physical responses that all species process and there is no doubts that is because it was the major contributing factor in "survival of the fittest." It makes you stop and think that being a "wuz" (pussy -- weak female -- or the exact reverse of the "tough guy" behavior that seems to be currently fashionable. Here is a great quote from the last paragraph. on p. 39. There is great elegance in the way this system has evolved, with its complex mix of instinct and learning. Like all emotions, the fear circuitry steers the organism toward desirable states -- away from predators or other threats -- without knowing that much in advance about the world that the organism will actually inhabit. We are not slave to our emotions, but they are hardly at our beck and call either. They propel us in directions that our rational minds don't always understand -- fear most of all. The amygdala, like the heart in Pascal's famous phrase, has reasons of which reason knows nothing.

I also wanted to mention a previous Discover magazine article on emotion -- only this one is the fun one ---The Biology of Disgust, by Josie Glausiusz, p. 32, Discover December, 2002. Title: Oh, Yuck! Here's an excellent excerpt: "There had to be a reason why we were seeing this very clear pattern [of disgust coming up in every country studied]. Back in the Stone Age, the ancestors that successfully avoided disease-causing substances had more success passing on their genes to the next generation, Therefore, we're more likely to have the disgust emotion that they had."

When you get a chance, please visit my web site area on Emotions.

When you get a chance, please visitDiscover.com. It is an excellent source of science for the common person.