Monday, November 28, 2005

Hello, Hello

is the title of an album by Poe, 3 stars. In the chick pop category, I recently downloaded Frou Frou "Details", after hearing a track in "Garden State" (OK movie by the way). I thought it was Dido. Very nice tunes, very nice textures in the electronic backgrounds, 3 stars.

My 95 tracks of Fats Waller came in, most enjoyable. The 4 disk set came from Proper Records, and came with a very nice booklet, on the history of Fats and the sessions that the tracks came from.

Also got from a young coworker Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, eponymous. Very interesting, Radiohead plus David Byrne plus Velvet Underground? Makes me wish I had a 3.5 star rating in iTunes.

Read a short story collection by Charles Stross, "Toast". Very tasty, cute short stories. I remember reading the first one, "Antibodies" before. It contains that essential short story device, the last line kicker. It reminded me of when in college I wrote a literature paper on "Chun the Unavoidable" from Jack Vance's "The Dying Earth". Great last line kicker, I remember the professor hated it big time.

Following up on the theme that "Love makes the world go round", I also completed my Jared Diamond collection with "Why is Sex Fun? The Evolution of Human Sexuality". A lot of this is covered in "The Third Chimpanzee", but still a fun (and short, 146 pages) read. The explanatory power of evolution screams at you when you read something like this. I particularly liked the analysis of hidden ovulation in humans. There are two contradictory explanations:

  1. Confuse fatherhood to prevent infanticide; a new dominant male or mate won't necessarily kill a female's children if he is not sure they not his.
  2. Keep the father around to provide.
By looking at the evolutionary tree of the 68 primate species (11 monogamous, 23 harems, 34 promiscuous), Diamond is able to deduce that the common ancestor (9 million years ago) of humans (serially monogamous, with some harems), gorillas (harems) and chimps (promiscuous) used the harem model; that concealed ovulation evolved from this as part of the "confuse fatherhood to prevent infanticide" strategy, from which monogamy evolved to implement the "keep the father around" strategy.

Also an interesting chapter on male nursing. Seems that the hardware is pretty much there, and care of children by both human parents is shared enough that he thinks it may be an idea whose time is coming! Diamond's books are always a pleasure to read, very easy to understand, and always with a nice touch of humor.

I think, tho, that my evolutionary biology / cognitive science reading seems to have hit a wall. I guess it's time for "and now for something completely different" ...

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