How inequality of the sexes is deeply rooted in body language…

This thought occurred to me while discussing body language with a friend. Much of body language is about power plays, asserting yourself as the dominant party.

Watch two politicians shaking hands, they will hold each other’s elbows, try and flip their hand onto the top, and attempt to make the last bit of physical contact. It can be very amusing to watch the quite obvious battle while they are attempting to be polite and all smiles for the cameras.

Another place where you see these battles is when people reach and go through a door together. Clinton, Barak, and Arafat demonstrated this beautifully at Camp David in 2000. You see Arafat and Barak dancing around each other attempting to go through the door second. They care so much because the person to go through a door last supposedly has the most power, if I remember correctly it is something about the person in front not being able to see the person behind and having to look over their shoulder, putting them in a vulnerable position. Here is a link to the video of Camp David:

This all brings me round to my final point mentioned in the title. Is the idea of ladies first and holding doors for women really all about being polite and gentlemanly?

How many direct ancestors you have…

Have you ever pondered how many people have lived to allow you to be here today?

Not in terms of heroes that have defended ways of lives or saved you from certain death, but just the amount of people that have had kids to allow you to be born.

We have thousands of direct ancestors. You have two parents, four grandparents, eight great grandparents, and sixteen great great grandparents. That’s only going a far back as your grandmother’s grandmother, and already we have listed thirty people who you are directly descended from. Go back ten generations, which only spans a few hundred years and you are directly descended from two thousand and forty six people!

All these people, many, many more than have been listed, have passed on genes that have eventually led to you. If you think about it, this means that if any of these people had died, before having children, you wouldn’t be who you are today. The fact that any single one of us is exactly who we are, is the result of very, very long odds.

It should of course be noted that these calculations ignore any duplicate ancestors, ie where cousins have children (it used to be quite common), but it doesn’t change the fact we have a thousands of direct ancestors.

How strange the idea of race is…

I’m not talking about racism here, but instead the concept of race itself.

Race is an incredibly prevalent idea. People are divided by race, it is seen as a strong cultural marker by many people. When you apply for a job you are asked your race, the census questions you on it, and many people hold it as part of their identity. Some people believe that it marks people out as native or immigrant to a country, and I’m sure assimilation of an immigrant community is easier if they have the same skin colour as the majority of the destination nation.

The thing that we must remember, and the thing that makes the whole distinction unnatural is that race is a phenotypical, not genotypical distinction. Basically there is no significant genetic differences that allow us to identify different races, skin colour is just an out ward, visible distinction, like hair or eye colour. Skin colour is also hugely effected by environment, all skin colours darken when exposed to sunlight, so in this sense race could be considered similar to someone’s body fat percentage.

If you think about it like this racial distinctions become bizarre. We don’t divide “peoples” by height, or weight, or shoe size. Imagine a job application asking for your eye colour, or there being a National Blonde Police Association? Of course these anti-discrimination policies and support organisations for minorities are highly valuable, but they should be unnecessary.

We all need to wake up and realise that race is an unnatural, outdated, and frankly stupid concept.

How long a humans life is?

It strikes me as incredible to think just how much history a human life covers.

My gran was born in 1929, she is 83. Over the course of her life she has lived through incredible events.

She was 10 when WWII started, 16 when it finished, she lived through the start and end of the Cold War and everything in between. I extensively studied the Cuban Missile Crisis in the historical section of my university course, my Gran was in her thirties when it happened. She witnessed humans reaching space, and Celtic winning the European Cup, “one small step for man”, the fall of Hitler, and later the Berlin Wall, the British Empire collapsing, and China going from 3rd World to super power. This list only scratches the surface!

Technology is a whole new story. She’s seen science fiction become everyday norm. Mobile phones in everyone’s pockets, the internet with all the knowledge in the world a few clicks away, televisions starting to broadcast in colour! John Logie Baird only invented his TV four years before she was born. She was alive when electric kettles and irons were cutting edge.

It’s hard to get your head around.

The funny thing is though, despite all these incredible things she has seen, ask her about the past and she talks about playing in the woods as a kid, getting married, her first job, having her eight kids and raising them alone when her husband passed away. History is incredible, but to most people their individual history matters more.

That we’re part of something bigger

Just so we’re clear, I literally mean part of something bigger.

Writing about how we are mainly empty space, and thinking about how our atoms are arranged got me thinking. The way our electrons orbit protons is a bit like how planets orbit stars, and the space in between is just like the space in between our celestial bodies. This caused me to ponder (see what I did there?) that our planets could be part of a bigger organism. I’m not launching a crazy new scientific theory here, just pointing out how little we know about our universe.

We know very little about very big things, ie our universe, where it ends, if it ends, what’s in it. We also know very little about very small things, ie atoms, the things that make atoms up and the things that make up what makes up atoms, if you follow that… What I’m trying to say is that it is feasible that we, and our planet, and our sun, are part of a larger organism, we just don’t know it. We could be particles on the surface of an electron (our planet), orbiting a neutron (our sun).

I’m sure many scientists would quickly, swiftly and mercilessly cut down my little fantastical theory, but, despite how vital, valuable, and advanced science is, there are many things beyond its reaches.

Maybe we’re all playing a vital part in the structure of a giants little toe nail.

How ridiculous pandas are….

If you were making an animal optimised to survive would you include the following features:

Huge animal, but 99% of its diet is bamboo

Doesn’t like sex

Is fertile once a year

Has one cub at a time

If it happens to have two cubs it will often kill the second.

No of course you wouldn’t. Why does an animal that could rip your head off only eat bamboo! They are entirely ridiculous animals, they are a single handed argument against natural selection.

To be fair though, they are very cute.


That you’re mainly empty space…

Humans and all other matter is, in the vast majority, space.

We are all made of atoms, each atom containing a nucleus with electrons orbiting around it. Between the nucleus and the orbiting electrons it’s all just space, an empty vacuum. These atoms don’t overlap, so basically, in the main part, our total volume is made up of empty space.

So we’re all just empty really… Bizarre. You’d think we should all be see through..