March 2005 Notebook Entries

Notebook entry, March 28th, 2005

I've begun filming my first video essay. It is a mild shock to see oneself on the other side of the camera. I am creating a sort of -- short essay as a response to a political group that sent me a thank you card for giving them, what they consider, an important book. Basically, I am showing them that producing short DVD video can enhance their cause, and can done at a minimum of cost. . I don't know if the video thank you will be placed on my web site or not, but it will remain in my archives. Stay tuned.

Notebook entry, March 18th, 2005

A really nice article in this month's April, 2005 edition of Scientific American from Frans B.M. de Waal, p. 73, titled: How Animal Do Business. The secondary line: "Humans and other animals share a heritage of economic tendencies -- including cooperation, repayment of favors and resentment at being shortchanged." I think the secondary line pretty much tells you about the article. The news rack come-on the front cover, top right, reads: Monkey Business: The Evolutionary Roots of Economic Behavior. I wonder if Milton Friedman will read the article?

Fran's de Waal is the director of the Living Links Center at Emory University's Yerkes National Primate Research Center. The link is:

Notebook entry, March 17th, 2005

I've finished my third home movie of my kids out in California as I continue to hone my skills at film editing and "burning" my own DVDs.. I have to admit, that I am pleased with the results. Skills include "ripping" music sound tracks from the internet (all free, of course) and from music CDs from the library or from the retail stores and "importing" them onto the film. Next up, I'll will be capturing video from TV shows on either VHS or DVD's and then transferring the video to the film tracks. I'm still a long way from creating and placing "video essays" up on the web site here, but I'm feeling confident enough to proceed without the depressing thought of immovable obstacles in my way. I have begun filming myself behind a lectern and testing for lighting, clothing combinations, and overall distancing from the camera.

Notebook entry, March 8th, 2005

Today is International Women's Day, and according to a missive from the UN's executive director for the program, "only 15 countries have reached the target of 30 per cent of women in parliaments." So that means that of the 135? countries on the planet only 15 have reached this elusive goal. It's pretty sad. World wide poverty abounds (see Time cover story March 14, 2005: How To End Poverty) and all the world leaders know that women with children bear the brunt of this plight.

It is time to end this tragedy. I will sit and muse the problem and see how I can fight this problem in my own way through the evolutionary perspective. Stay tuned.

Notebook entry, March 5, 2005

Some bad international news came in from Pakistan concerning Mukhtar Mai: To quote N.D. Kristof in The New York Times:

"As part of a village dispute in 2002, a tribal council decided to punish her family by sentencing her to be gang-raped. She begged and cried, but four of her neighbors immediately stripped her and carried out the sentence. Then her tormenters made her walk home naked while her father tried to shield her from the eyes of 300 villagers."

To make a long story short, she took them to court, she won, and the rapists went to jail. Then there was an appeal, and the higher courts reversed the decision, and the rapists were released back in the population. And once again, civilized and economically advanced countries are outraged.

The question needs to be asked, how come the 300 villagers that witnessed the return of this women did nothing to stop the outrage in the first place? One's mind seems to drift back to Nazi Germany and the treatment of the Jews while the majority of "good people" who witnessed such atrocities did nothing to stop them. The answer lies in dominate and submissives in the group dynamics of the hierarchies at those particular locations on the planet, and with the Germany analogy, this includes a specific time in our historical timeline.

Included with The Times article is a link to Mukhtar Mai's website. It is there that Mukhtar gives us the answer to this problem of women being humiliated:

"Worldwide development experience has proven that the best way to ensure higher incomes and living standards in future generations is to educate women and girls. Educated girls live fuller lives as they grow into adulthood and eventually become parents themselves. And educated mothers raise educated children, who will have better chances to earn more and live a higher quality of life. Most importantly to Mai, educated girls have the understanding to recognize their rights when that is necessary."

So here is the secret that must be developed in order to achieve world peace: develop international support groups for women by other women (with the help of supportive males, of course) into a coherent worldwide political force. It would be the exact opposite of males bonding together to achieve hierarchal status. From an evolutionary perspective, we know that males "act tough" and accumulate "stuff" in order to attract the best females, and unfortunately, it leads to males piloting airplanes into World Trade Center buildings, which in turn begs for "revenge" which leads to war, in which, valuable resources are lost because of passionate emotions. We must return to the first principle of evolutionary feminism. and understand the basics from an evolutionary perspective. Women need to support their gender more instead of turning their backs on them in order "to give the best to their children" and "depend" on males to do the providing. It is the toughest thing to recognize in evolutionary feminism.

A perfect example of "women helping women" would the Time magazine article in the March 7th issue, page 67, about Zainab Salbi, and her Women for Women Internation, which helps to provide

"hands-on aid and support via mail to women in war-torn regions. Outside Sarajevo, her staff helped set up a messenger system so that if a wife was being beaten by her husband, 40 women would converge to shout down the offender...The organization picks up where humanitarian aid leaves off. 'We work with women as they get out of the refugee tent -- out of the victim stage -- and help them become survivors and active citizens, Salbi says."

Here is a link to her organization, Women for Women International

Notebook entry, March 4, 2005

The following entry is brought to you by my wife, Diana, and without her devoted homage to my meeker efforts some of these notebook entries would not see the light of the internet.

It comes to us from Discover magazine, October 2004 issue, in their R&D Section, page 18. The aside is titled: GRANDMA'S CULTURAL KICK. The author is noted as Jocelyn Selim.

Basically, the short entry informs us that humans made sluggish progress in evolution until about 30,000 years ago when our species abruptly showed signs of an explosion of cultural ideas. Anthropologist Rachel Caspari of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor may have uncovered the cause: a dramatic increase in the number of old people.

"By examining teeth from 768 ancient skulls, Caspari and colleague Sang-Hee Lee of the University of California at Riverside were able to estimate the age distributions of various prehistoric populations. "What you see is a steady increase in the number of people living into their thirties -- and then there is an explosion."

The article continues to tell us that about 2 million years ago only 10% made it to twice the age of sexual maturity (around age 24- 35?) That number increased to about 1 in 5 some 130,000 to 30,000 years ago.

'Then around the 30,000 year have about two adults for every young adult.' "Caprari...suggests that the older faction, particularly postmenopausal revolution. Having enough elders around to help rear the young would have provided a survival advantage and allowed larger populations. Elders would have also been invaluable in cultural transmission, passing along ideas and traditions. Caspari's findings add to the growing support for the grandmother hypothesis, which suggests that human females (unlike those of most species) live far past their reproductive years because their presence aids their grandchildren. 'It offers a simple explanation, with concrete evidence, for a very puzzling cultural phenomenon,' Caspai says.'"

Being a grandfather for the first time, I also, would like to chip in my 2 cents worth of knowledge. I really believe that there are deep, innate mechanisms at work, not just for females, but for males as well, that incline us to help out our grandchildren as much as possible. It does seem to make biological sense.

It also should make us realize that in the political world in America of 2005, we should do everything we can to lift up our elders from poverty's floor; for to do so, that would mean benefiting our future generations of the many to benefit a few. And that means not messing with the Social Security system. "If it aint broke, don't fix it." I'm saying this as an educated man who cares about America's future, and not because I am approaching my "golden years."

Notebook Entry, March 3, 2005

Ok, this is weird. Below you will find an editorial from the Online edition of The New York Times that has to do with determining the varying personalities of chickadees. But that is not what the editorial is really about. It is saying, for all the world to listen to their call, that our human species is connected to the animal world even though most humans think that we are separated from them.

I really believe that it is an important moment in evolutionary history, and with all due respects to The New York Times, I have placed the entire editorial on this web site. Please respect their copyright, and please do visit and purchase many items from the Times.

Copyright, The New York Times, 2005

March 3, 2005
My Little Chickadee

Bird feeders across much of America are mobbed with black-capped chickadees at this time of year. Can you tell them apart, one by one? Probably not; it's hard enough to distinguish male from female in this species, let alone recognize individuals in a flock. But scientists are starting to suggest that if we look closely enough, we can distinguish birds of a single species by personality. A team of Dutch scientists, testing a European relative of the chickadee, has found that some birds are shy and others are bold, broad personality differences that have a genetic foundation. This finding doesn't erode the basic differences between Homo sapiens and Projectile atricapillus (the black-capped chickadee). But it substantially enlarges the similarities.

We take the range of personalities among individuals in our species for granted, yet it seems surprising to think of similar diversity in other species. Many people find the implications of that genuinely shocking. If bird personalities have a strong genetic and evolutionary basis, there is good reason to suspect that human personalities do, too.

Humans do not like to think of themselves as animals. Nor do they like to think that their behavior may have genetic or evolutionary roots. But the richer perspective - morally and intellectually - lies in examining and coming to terms with the kinship of all life. There's a certain tragic isolation in believing that humans stand apart in every way from the creatures that surround them, that the rest of creation was shaped exclusively for our use. The real fruit of that perspective is, in fact, tragic isolation on an earth that has been eroded by our moral assumptions. Science has something much wiser to tell us about who we are. So do the birds around us.

Copyright, The New York Times, 2005

Notebook entry, March 2, 2004

The latest edition of Time magazine arrived today. It is the March 7th,. 2005 issue and its cover story: The Math Myth, The real truth about WOMEN'S BRAINS and the gender gap in SCIENCE. On page 51, the title is "WHO SAYS A WOMAN CAN'T BE EINSTEIN? The inside lead in: "Yes, men's and women's brains are different. But new research upends with old myths about who's good at what. A tour of the every changing brain."

Of course, all of this excitement is due the pronouncement from Harvard University President Larry Summner's speech on gender disparities in the sciences last January.