November 1999 notebook entries

Notebook entry, November 27, 1999

Frans deWaal had an interesting essay in the latest The Chronicle of Higher Education, November 19, 1999 entitled "Apes with an Oeuvre."  In the article he attempts to answer some of the following questions: Why do people all over the world produce and enjoy art? What drives them to devote times and energy to an activity that earns only a few significant amount of money and fame? Is making art some kind of play? A form of exploration? A way of impressing others?  I did not have time to finish the whole article as I was short of time.   Sorry.

Notebook entry, November 24 1999

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving in America.  My wife and I don't have too much planned.  Just a small luncheon out and then to the movies to catch The Insider.

2nd item.  I should have entered this one several weeks ago, but I filed things by pile, and I just forgot that I had it.  It has to do with Katha Pollitt's column in The Nation, November 15, 1999 issue.  She brings to us the story of Jean Ruth Schroedel, associate professor of political science at Claremont Graduate University, whose findings test whether opposition to abortion in the United States is motivated by concern for children or by a desire to restrict and control women.  In Ms. Schroedel's forthcoming book, Is the Fetus a Person? A Comparison of Policies in the Fifty States, finds "...overwhelming data showing that anti-abortion states do not consistently value fetal life."   "...The evidence was quite clear cut.  The lower women's status -- as measured by education levels, ratio of female to male earnings, percentage of women in poverty, percentage of female legislators, and state mandates that insurers cover minimum hospital stays after childbirth -- the more stringent the abortion laws.  And what about kids? Schroedel found that anti-choice states are "far less likely than pro-choice states to provide support for the poorest and most needy children." One can almost see the dominant male's increased role in controlling the female reproductive choices through domination and control.  You also can begin to see that the farther south one travels into our United States, these males patrolling the borders of their territories for any "outsiders" coming in and disrupting the territory.  As for the work that Ms. Schroedel has uncovered --ain't empirical evidence grand? You did good girl.

Notebook entry, November 11, 1999

Egads!  I'm 54 today.  I don't feel 54 mentally, but physically, my job is starting to give me more aches and pains than I would like.  And the holiday season is yet to come!  Family treated me to a good dinner and movie out. Went to see American Beauty.  Now I understand why professors love to teach.   Naw, I'm just kidding.  It's the gift of giving knowledge that would drive my instructions.

Notebook entry, November 9. 1999

Holy Upper East-Side Batman! evolutionary psychology was mentioned in The New Yorker, November 15, 1999, p39, lead article in The Talk of The Town section!!!.  Of course Rebecca Mead was commenting on the news this past week of Naomi Wolf's advice to Vice-president Al Gore on being a Alpha man as compared to a Beta Male.  To quote the delightful Ms. Mead, "But now that the principles of evolutionary psychology have filtered into the mass consciousness...psychobabble has been eclipsed by biobabble." At least Ms. Mead sought the advice of Ms. Sarah Blaffer Hrdy, and quoted her here and there and also gave her new book a plug.  Despite the overall snippy attitude about evolutionary psychology, (treatment any newcomer or upstart would receive arriving in their territory), and the dismissive attitude toward Ms. Wolf helping the Vice-President, I for one welcome the exposure.  As Dolly Parton once quipped, "A bad reputation is better than none."    Thanks for  the exposure New Yorker!

Notebook entry, November 8, 1999

The Denver Post, November 8, 99, p. 9F has a story from the Los Angeles Times with a byline by Brian Lowry entitled: "TV voyeurs want their 15 minutes of fame, and then some."  The story is basically cynical of lowbrow daytime television in the genre of Jerry SpringerJenny Jones, Change of Heart, and Forgive and Forget where common people are willing to put themselves at risk by looking like fools in front of millions of viewers.  In the venue of "Love Connection," "The Dating Game," and "Studs," Lowry  writes about how "Change of Heart" finds a couple and then sends each of them on a date with someone else, the suspense being whether either party will choose to dump the other. "Most of the time, viewers end up simply fearing that either of them will live long enough to breed and pass on their genes."

Once again in the short span of a week, evolutionary psychology has dipped its toe into the mainstream of  cultural waters.  The Renaissance is coming.

Notebook entry, November 7, 1999

Well folks, evolutionary psychology is getting closer to the big time -- going mainstream---being the buzz.  Well, not really, but this past week biology and human behavior touched fingertips.  Time magazine, November 8th issue, with byline by Michael Duffy and Karen Tumulty,p34, reports on "Gore's Secret Guru."  It seems that the feminist, Naomi Wolf, has been hired to give the Vice-President the answer to his nagging question: "Why is it that a man who espouses all of Clinton's female-friendly policies, without carrying the Big Creep's personal baggage, has so consistently trailed George W. Bush among women voters?"  The implication of the article is that the "image" of the Vice-President is less than "leadership" attractive, and that Gore should be more aggressive in style and manner.  The article also tells us that: "Democratic Party sources say it's Wolf who, more than anyone else, has urged Gore to bare his teeth at the President he has served loyally for more than seven years.  Wolf has argued internally that Gore is a "Beta male" in the who needs to take on the "Alpha male" in the Oval Office before the public will see him as a top dog." Are we talking evolutionary perspective and human behavior, or what?

2nd item: Oliphant political cartoon in the Sunday Denver Post editorial section, November 7, 1999, p3h: a four panel cartoon, with a stiff-looking Gore asking Naomi Wolf what does she think can be done about waking up a sleeping dog with the label of "polls" on its side.  In panel two and three she yells and loudly whistles, and in the last panel, suggests "Kicking Him Might" (help).  Exit the little man that Oliphant is famous for to stage right by saying: "Never Kick a Beta Dog When he's Down."  Once again, we are talking evolutionary perspective in a popular medium found in most daily papers.   Get ready for the Renaissance.

Notebook entry, November 4, 1999

Time magazine, November 8, 1999 issue, p. 56, under the heading of ETHICS, gives us the story of fashion photographer and soft-core-porn videographer, Ron Harris debuting his web site call Ron's Angels in which he places up for bid the fertile eggs of "fashion models."  He charges $24.95 a month for full access to the website which includes his own personal "theories of beauty and biology."  He tempts us with his personal teaser in a quote from inside Time: "This is the first society to truly recognize how important beautiful genes are to our evolution. I have created a dialogue that will improve this society."

What can we expect.  It was bound to happen.  The only thing that did not surprise me was that People magazine, W magazine, or Ambercrombie and Finch did not think of it first.   (excuse me if I am wrong, but) Was it not the poet, Emerson who was quoted as replying to the fashion model's suggestion that they get married and have children because of his brains and her beauty: "But what happens if the child has my looks and your brains?"

People, people,'s what between the ears that is important, not the "sack filled with mostly water."  If this keeps up, eventually even the fashion models will look "ugly."  But Mr. Harris has done us a favor....we do need a larger debate on the subject, and perhaps this will get the ball rolling.