Tuesday, August 15, 2006
The Evolution Post.
Ok kids. It’s crackpot theory time. Webster’s Dictionary defines “crackpot theory” as a theory of no confirmed scientific merit, the proof of which has no bearing on the conviction of the theorist. Let’s begin.
I began thinking about this post a couple months ago in the midst of my 4 hours of post Lost Season finale online forum research, during which I was trying to sort out what the fuck had just happened on the show. (this post is not all about Lost, so bear with me non-watchers) One weird element of that finale was the mysterious appearance of a giant stone disembodied leg, which seemed to indicate that there had been a previous society living on this deserted island. However, the foot only had 4 toes. The show continued and there was no other reference or explanation of this 4 toed humanlike leg. That led one forum participant to suggest that it may be a reference to this book about
4 toed humans living in a dense hive future; the author of this post gives a synopsis of a work of science fiction by T.J. Bass, Half Past Human, which he describes as a:
"picture of human biological optimization in the face of exponential population growth … investigating consequences that spring from a combination of the medical technology that can both do away with most forms of "natural" death, such as hunger and disease, and the agricultural and bio- technology that will allow us to reshape our food chain and ourselves … "Half Past Human" takes a dark look at the human species "optimized" for ultra-density hive living in a world of several trillion Citizens. It stands on its head our Big Science wishfulness about what we will remake ourselves as, not in the image of something Higher, but of some utilitarian Lowerness that allows us to survive, but not grow or attain.
[In the book], Human science has created the four toed Nebish, a pallid, short lived and highly programmable humanoid who has had the elements that do not facilitate a Hive existence (aggression, curiosity, etc.) bred out of it. The five toed genotype is this world's dinosaur, a messy, dangerous animal that is marginalized, cast out, and hunted down to keep it from competing with its four toed brethern in the Hive cities …
[As a result of our exponential population growth], serious thought will be given to what can be done to us, how we can be made either easier to feed, more capable of being wedged into ever tighter living spaces, and more compliant to a system that will have a harder and harder time keeping us fed. We seem incapable of the simplest preventive solution, reducing our prodigious birth rate, so, if history has been any example, we will look for the after the fact technological solution.”
So, I ran out and bought the book … [dramatic pause] … just kidding. You know I don’t read books. Which is why I also didn’t read up on the Punctuated Equilibrium Theory, as VTK’s expert anthropological/archaeological consultant, Dearest Cupcake, recommended I do; nor did I read Mismeasure of Man by Gould or anything by Lamarck. Come to think of it, I don’t think I ever read Origin of the Species. But you see, none of that matters. Because this isn’t a précis for a well thought out piece of scholarly research; this is a crackpot theory. So all this procrastination on reading the required text on the subject was really unnecessary. Let’s proceed.
The 4 toed optimized hive being thing got me thinking about physical adaptations that make a person more fit to survive. And this got me thinking about my pinky finger. A year and ½ ago, I got into a bar fight (in which I was unquestionably morally justified) and ended up sustaining a compound fracture in my finger (and not from poking someone in the eye as some VTK readers have guessed). Let’s call it a broken finger for purposes of this post. Conventional (non-stupid-intelligent-design-subscribing) wisdom suggests that dominant or “alpha” males of a species get their choice of female mates, therefore the strong survive and those with desirable genes pass them on. Survival of the fittest, someone once called it. Well, this was clearly not in play on this particular night, since despite “kicking ass”, I ended up going home alone, as the girl that I was dating at the time literally ran away. (What happened to standing by your man? Remember, I was unquestionably morally justified in this altercation.) While the tough guys often “get the girl” in the human species, it is often the case in highly developed societies like Cambridge that it is other characteristics that the females look for in their mates, such as intelligence, wit, or talent of some sort. In some corners of the world, the tough male organism kills the beast and feeds his family with it. In this corner, the smart male organism works on computers and buys tuna steaks at Whole Foods. Perhaps this is why my organism of choice fled. Proving yourself capable of defending yourself in this realm is the equivalent of wearing a pocket protector in middle school in another realm. In this realm, the broken finger sustained in a fight is not a sign of a viable male, but rather of philistine incapable of working the type of specialized job that will pay the Cambridge rent and the $17.99 a pound that fresh tuna costs at Whole Foods. It certainly appeared that I had taken a step backwards in the race of evolution and no amount of unquestionable moral justification was going to catch me up to the others…
The interesting thing is that my broken finger is now actually more suited to typing since it is angled down towards the keypad. The rest of my fingers are still straight so I have to make the extra effort to angle them down towards the keys. As you probably know, that takes time. My broken pinky? Already there. Here, watch:
Know how long that took me? Not very long. Peter Piper picked a pack of Pittsfield peppers. I’m deleting, hitting enter, and using quotes like a motherfucker. I am now better suited for typing, writing, using a computer, interfacing with cyberspace, in short, dominating. A philistine occurrence like a bar fight has serendipitously advanced the intellectual evolution of my genes. Pugilism unwittingly (fittingly) advanced cerebralism. The question now is how can I use this information to help me reproduce? Remember: I’m the guy who invented not getting laid. The broken (angled) finger will eventually be a virile calling card like the peacock’s brightly colored feathers, but at this point, the females are probably not yet aware of this revolution in evolution and will instead read my broken finger as an indication of devolution. So you see, it’s tricky.
Now, I know what some of you are thinking: it’s a fallacy to think that my angled finger would be passed on to my children. My genes have not really been altered by the broken finger, so it’s not something that would be passed on to my offspring. I’d have to break their fingers when they are young to make sure that they are best prepared for the world. I can’t argue with your logic. It seems that the Nolans will be breaking fingers for a few generations. The people who really have it made are the mutants whose fingers are naturally aimed down. They’re breeding the alpha humans of the future. I’m about to get Artie the Aqua Boy up in this bitch. (ok, I read one book)
Of course, this conflicts a bit with my belief that I am lowering the value of my stock by continuing with this pointless drawing/painting obsession. Artistic talent in the form of drawing and painting was once one of those non-power talents that I mentioned that certain females find attractive. But this was before the advent of the computer age, in which mojo is measured by computer literacy. Consequently, the next few generations will be so computercentric that they will not spend much time with the old caveman scratching devices (the pen, the pencil, the paintbrush). They will not have good penmanship and they will lose their ability to doodle, draw, paint, etc. And since computer proficiency will be the most desirable trait, anyone that is proficient in these other spheres will be seen as irrelevant and unviable. When I’m 95, I could be one of the last proficient painters on the planet. Rather than this being a virile calling card, it would be seen as nondesirable trait. Which sucks, since that was when I was planning on planting my seeds.
That pretty much wraps up my crackpot theory for today. Draw your own conclusions (if you dare). Lastly on the broken finger tip, remember our old friend Bad News Hughes? Take a look at this recent photo diary from his Diary of the Indignities. He knows what time it is.