Thursday, September 4, 2008

Now that Collin’s back in school and I’m able to get the library again, I’m back in the groove of devouring books. I read a fascinating book on human evolution (the title is eluding me at the moment). Since the sequencing of the human genome was completed five years ago they’re gaining all sorts of fascinating corroboration for such things as when we first left Africa, how many of us left (maybe just a single tribe of about 150),where we went from there, who various modern cultures descend from, when various groups split off from one another, and on and on. I loved that the book wasn’t afraid to imply there are racial differences even in such hot button issues as intelligence. Jews, for instance, are statistically more intelligent. The author believes this can likely be attributed to the fact that for 800 years in Europe Jews were forbidden from participating in certain occupations, such as agriculture, and largely worked in finance and trade. This required higher-level mental functioning and so they eventually evolved higher IQ’s. The author’s point was that evolution is ongoing in humans and happens with relative speed and results from our interactions with the unique environment we find ourselves in.

I’m starting another book, Traces of an Omnivore, by Paul Shepard. I read his book The Others not too long ago. I’ve just been skimming through this one a bit and found some interesting parts about the importance of place. I may have to do some deeper digging into his writings. According to the guy who wrote the intro, most of Paul Shepard’s works are out of print. (Why is it that these writers whose ideas feel so pertinent to me are always out of print?) Nobody talks about the importance of place these days.

I’ll write more about this over the weekend. It’s all stirring up a lot of thoughts, but I’ll be better able to write and reflect on it from home (I’m in a parking lot at the moment).

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