Diet and Aesthetics

October 26, 2008 | Leave a Comment

Category: Future, Ontogeny, Society

The economy is swooning. Assets are transforming into fertilizer, being plowed into the fields as we prepare for the next stage of our social evolution. The seeds are planted. What we’ll be eating will be different from what’s come before.

The age for the onset of puberty has plummeted. Diet has dramatically cut off cerebral neurological development by accelerating pubertal onset by four years or more. Early puberty testosterone surges in males and females has halted synapse production, curtailing abstract thinking, inhibiting the human, natural ability to make connections, to understand, to appreciate, to experience revelation.

This process will change with the radical diet changes coming in the near future. High-fat, high-carb, high-protein diets will be replaced by diets that our planet can support. Pubertal timing will adjust and our children will reach puberty later. As a species, there will be radical repercussions.

The hidden will become available. The subtle will become easily accessible. The obvious will become uninteresting.

Watch closely the trajectory of pubertal timing. After diet has changed and we are back on track toward achieving puberty around 16–18, we can estimate when this epoch of transition will be settling down.

Our brains developed as a mammoth appreciation …

It has been observed that a human baby displays many of the characteristics of an embryo in the womb. The infant is unable to slumber longer in the dark or he or she would not be able to depart. Their head would become bigger than the doorway. So, aspects of womb life are prolonged into infanthood. This process is neoteny in action. Earlier stages of ontogeny are prolonged into later stages over time.

We might consider where this process is headed.

The acceleration that we are in the midst of has most of us astonished by how fast things are changing. Little noticed is how we as a species are changing physically, dispositionally, integrally. Autism, an evolutionary condition, is blossoming across contemporary society. Social structure is radically adjusting to place woman in positions of authority, allowing them to choose their own mate, abort and compete with men. In just 100 years, we are taller, our brains are bigger (after a 25,000-year period of size decrease) and we as a species are becoming more gracile, fragile and vulnerable.

Infant features prolong into adulthood. Embryo features prolong into infanthood. With time, embryo features prolonged into infanthood themselves prolong into adulthood.

Features of …

For over 120 years, theorists have been aware of heterochronic principles in evolution. Stephen J. Gould has almost single-handedly kept the flame alive. Gould is dead. Evolutionists specializing in this area are relatively rare. As the bonfire of Neo-Darwinism continues to die down, perhaps we’ll see renewed attention offered to these alternative views. Evolutionary developmental biology is opening doors in this direction.

Humans have evolved as a result of neoteny. Neoteny is one of several heterochronic processes. Neoteny is that process by which the features of infants appear over time in the adults of descendants. Physical, behavioral and neurological features “prolong” over generations, manifesting later and later in ontogeny until specific characteristics of embryos, babies and toddlers emerge as full-blown adult characteristics.

Books discussing neoteny in detail, such as Gould’s Ontogeny and Phylogeny, concentrate on the physical features that transform when impacted by neoteny. Wesley Montague explored some of the emotional repercussions of bridging the child to the adult. Specifically, Montague noted the profound effect of carrying creativity and curiosity into the adult of our species, with the resulting societal repercussions.

Two additional features of the very young have been somehow absent from discussions of the influence of neoteny on …

Designing and building websites that seek to encourage social change is more than a little bit like designing playgrounds for children with slides, ladders, jungle gyms and swings.  A difference is that when I am designing web applications about social transformation, I pay close attention to the principles of change; I seed the software with features that play upon the nature of biological, social, ontological and personal evolution.

When I was maybe nine years old, I went with my youngest sister, Gale, to the playground at the corner of the block.  Gale was four years old and had pink glasses with bluebirds at the temple.  New playground features had been added to the park.  One of them was a hefty plastic animal with a sort of saddle, embedded in a large, powerful, grounded spring that allowed for slow rocking back and forth.  Gale said she wanted to show me something and had me straddle a hippopotamus while standing on my feet instead of sitting on the hippo.  She stood in front of me and then slowly drew the plastic hippo to the ground, yanking the wooden handle coming out of its head.  She managed to draw it all the way …

Play Threads

October 22, 2008 | Leave a Comment

Category: Art, Auto-Biography, Play

I like to play with my life.  This is not particularly obvious to some people that know me as they observe the enormous amount of time I spend indoors at my laptop conducting business, talking to clients on the phone, emailing activists around the country, talking to activists on the phone….  I spend a lot of time emailing, reading emails and talking and listening on the phone.

Play follows trails while allowing itself to be led.  Wondering into the forest of an interesting idea, I occasionally come to the end of a small dirt path and have to either backtrack or just stroll into the underbrush.  These daily essays feel like just such a stroll.  I can’t see my feet because of all the foliage, but I feel the ground is firm, so I keep on going.  After a bit, I realize there happens to be a footpath where I am walking.  It just wasn’t evident at first.

When I say I play with my life, I mean that I pay attention to what feels interesting, what I feel attracted to.  I explore what feels neat.  A neotenous aspect of my personality is that I reflexively like and trust people.  …

Deep and Long

October 21, 2008 | Leave a Comment

Category: Biology, Society

Evolution has been unfolding for billions of years.  In addition to length, evolution has depth.  Evolution is perhaps deeper than it is long.

In evolutionary theory, there are arguments focusing on the specific place in the hierarchy of scale that evolution actually occurs.  Richard Dawkins emphasizes the reductionist position that just above the molecular level, genes are the center of the evolution universe.  The late Stephen J. Gould had been an advocate for multilevel evolution with selective processes engaged in many levels whether they were gene, individual, species or larger groups.  The human genome has been mapped.  Conservative political reductionists such as David Brooks concede that the gene offers little depth of understanding without embracing the gene’s relationship with the environment.  The alliance between Neo-Darwinians and neo-conservatives is showing strain as a reductionist point of view, whether it is evolutionary theory or geo-political theory, gives way to an understanding that transformation is not about the individual, but about the whole.

This work examines four chords, symphonic sections or scales while exploring evolutionary process:  biology, society, ontogeny and individual experience.  Within each of these four sections are additional levels, nesting hierarchies not unlike different sections of an orchestra carrying a theme …

Leveraging Process

October 20, 2008 | Leave a Comment

Category: Uncategorized

It has been said that LBJ was a politician that loved legislative trench warfare, political struggle and the step-by-step combat that precedes the achievement of political goals.  There are those politicians that seem to love the fight.  Tom Delay was one that evidently relished vanquishing foes and dancing on their grave.  For these elected officials, it was not so much about the issues, but about the conflict.  Finding creative ways to work the rules and achieve goals seems to bring these (mostly men) satisfaction.

The more I read about Obama, the more I am concluding that this man is a politician, similar to LBJ, for whom issues are not the main event.  Yet, struggle is not Obama’s focus.  I suspect that for Obama, politics is about something different from what it was about for many movers and shakers of the past.  I’m thinking that for Obama, politics is about process.

There are implications.  Some of them are good.  One of the implications is that Obama is not an ideologue.  He’ll make decisions based upon the information available at the time and will be flexible to the process of give and take.  This characteristic makes him impressionable, and it forces the …

Barriers to Change

October 19, 2008 | 1 Comment

Category: Activism, Auto-Biography, Web

Earlier this year at the Green Convention where I was tabling/exhibiting, I made a pitch of our networking web application to Cynthia McKinney’s campaign manager.  She seemed to understand a little about what we had to offer and said I would have to talk to her web person.

Basically, I was telling a story, an abbreviated version.  The story focused on winning elections by empowering people, doing what Obama has learned to do.

McKinney’s web person was her web designer.  They had no one making web policy decisions other than the person actually designing her website/online communications system.  Not a good thing.

I talked to the web person.  Though seemingly impressed by what he described as our web 2.0, social networking political action integration, he said that personally he had been unable to convince Cynthia and her staff to move in that direction.  It seemed to me that a subtext of the conversation was that if he recommended to McKinney our application, he’d be recommending himself out of this area of his responsibilities.

This two-conversation communication is a microcosm of a difficulty of social change on a larger scale.  Good-intentioned people make decisions in their best interest, the kind of …

There is a five-step evolution continuum that begins with natural selection and then moves to the next step to where sexual selection, usually by the female, focuses on a specific pattern when they choose a mate. Step three transitions to human sexual selection, where adept practitioners of novel pattern creation (beginning with dance) are selected as procreation partners by mates with sensitivity to these nuances. The fourth step is taken when novelty itself becomes desirable outside the partner selection process, and society is compelled to embrace in its productions the infinite nuances of new. In the fifth stage, awareness of evolution’s stages attended by an awareness of the awareness that accompanies evolution provides an identification with the five-stage creation continuum.

The fifth stage loops around to stage one, what we think of as competitive evolution, accompanied by awareness.

1) natural selection
2) sexual selection (selecting for pattern when seeking a mate)
3) human sexual selection (selection for novel pattern when seeking a mate)
4) art (selecting for novel pattern outside of mate selection)
5) awareness of the selection or creative process

Story has structure. Lifted from the infinite associational matrix of experience, a story allows the traveler to follow a …

We don’t just think in stories, but in layers of stories, stories nested up and down a continuum of stories from the personal, familial, societal and even to the biological.

I had several favorite stories when I was a child. Yurtle the Turtle convinced his colleague turtles to allow him to achieve a greater and greater height by standing on the backs of his shelled associates. Disaster at the end. But not before the reader got a bird’s eye view of Turtleland. It reminds me of Newton’s suggestion that his accomplishments were achievable only because he was able to stand on the shoulders of his predecessors. In science, there are still moments of “all fall down.”

Our stories stack, back to back, not unlike an almost infinite pile of turtles. The philosopher Ken Wilber uses a stacking-turtle metaphor to describe how evolutionary scales nest and stack. There is a mirroring between the nested stages of social evolution and the stories that accompany those stages. The impact of competing societal stages can be experienced by stories that are told.

Perhaps the most classic tale of clashing societies is how the now lost stories, rituals and traditions of the prepatriarchal goddess cultures …

I almost graduated with a degree in psychology as I considered a profession as a therapist.  I couldn’t quite withdraw from that ambition as I took workshops and courses after graduating.  Neuro-Linguistic Programming, Ericksonian Hypnotherapy and neuropsychology were subjects that I paid to continue to explore.  Nevertheless, I’ve spent over 30 years of my life with three therapists, mostly in a group therapy format, plumbing my psyche and my soul.  This therapy has contributed to a process perspective when I am observing the words and behaviors of myself, my friends, my family and my colleagues.  Observing the patterns that emerge in myself over time and recognizing the nature of the internal sources that lead to those behaviors, I form hypotheses on what drives the behaviors of those around me.

The stories we tell ourselves have an enormous amount to do with how we experience our lives.  In the old half-full/half-empty aphorism, our attention is called to the effects of our stories upon our perception.  We live in a world of stories layered at several different scales, sometimes nesting comfortably, sometimes dissonant in their conclusions.  There are our personal stories, our family-of-origin tales, societal stories and stories that are grounded in …

Singing Hands

October 15, 2008 | Leave a Comment

Category: Art, Auto-Biography, lefthanded

I’ve started collecting gestural communications.  When a particularly adept practitioner of hand language appears before me, I take note and pay attention to what he or she is doing.  So far, most of those people have been left-handed and male.  There are exceptions.

In college, about midway through my sophomore year, I had a girlfriend for about ten days.  It so happened that we hooked up about three days before my mom came to visit.  I lived in a single in the men’s dorm.  Dorms had 32 units on two floors and didn’t exactly stay sexually segregated.  There was no monitoring, so by January there were a lot of girls living in boy’s dorms and vice versa.  It was 1972.

I’d achieved the golden ring of dorm living by happening upon the strategy of asking guys to be my roommate who were registering but knew they weren’t coming back the next term.  They’d not show, and the school would offer me a single.  When Mom came to visit, delighted I had a girlfriend (to her knowledge, the first girlfriend I’d ever had), Mom proposed she stay in my room during her visit and I live with Gaia in her girl’s …

PJEP Planting Seeds

October 14, 2008 | 2 Comments

Category: Activism, PJEP, Web

Laurel, Marcia and I continue to discuss the most effective way to build the PJEP 50-state network of networks.  There are about 15 of us working hard to research and facilitate the state networks as they go up.  At this point, almost 1,000 local organizations and chapters of national organizations are working through 33 states within 26 networks.  (There are several two-state networks and one three-state network.)

Visit PJEP.org to investigate the central site where state and local actions, calendar items and online campaigns (petitions, boycotts, eletters and fundraisers) are collected and collated so that grassroots activity across the country can be explored in detail.

Two logistical issues come up fairly frequently.  Programmer David fixes bugs and enhances features that already exist, or Dave creates new features.  David, Marcia, Laurel and I talk frequently about which of these three areas should be emphasized at any given time.  All three of us feel that for us to achieve our mission, it is vital to empower individuals and local organizations by providing them access to resources and connections to other individuals and organizations so that they are able to accomplish their social-change and political-change goals.  Decisions are made daily on whether bugs, …

Boundaries

October 13, 2008 | Leave a Comment

Category: Activism, Art, Auto-Biography, Play

As an activist with an evolutionary focus, there is a particular way I go about engaging in intervention.  Evolution is all about connection.  Experiencing unfolding at multiple levels (personally, societally, biologically), I don’t feel a compulsion to make something happen, to cause change, to struggle for an equality.  I am not wrestling with opponents.  What I feel is an attraction to contribute to those places where my efforts can have an effect.  I experience relationship in the places where I intervene.  Like engaging in art or writing, there is an experience that I’m part of a process larger than myself.  An idea, an action, a strategic arc with related tactics draws me in as if it were seeking my attention.  Just as there is that ongoing conversation between my conscious and unconscious mind, there is an identical conversation between my conscious/unconscious and my environment that murmurs to me, like an always present river, about what it would be fun to do.

I’ve spent much of my life unconsciously sensitizing myself to these river whisperings as I’ve sought ways to transcend conventional barriers.  If in college I could convince two professors to allow me to keep a journal as part of …

Creative Evolution

October 12, 2008 | Leave a Comment

Category: Art, Auto-Biography

All my life, I’ve doodled.  On Sundays, my dad would hand out pens and pencils to my sisters and me when we sat down to eat at our local Big Boy or other joint.  We’d draw stuff.  Terry ended up getting a degree in design; mine was in art.  Gale became a bookkeeper.  Maybe we should have given Gale crayons.

Through the 70s I collected a mounting accumulation of scribbles collected from waiter pads, late night stoned sessions, parties, placemats and napkins.  After graduating college and quitting the job working for my dad as the vice president in a girdle and bra factory, I took the money I’d saved and published ten of my illustrations as greeting cards.  I called the company Maplands.  Each card was an island metaphor with images (many former doodles) illustrating an idea.  Several cards explored models of psychological transformation, as if these personal evolutions were journeys through a mapable landscape.

I sold some.  I looked for patterns in what sold best.  Slowly, the themes and images of greeting cards I continued to release evolved toward those themes and images I sold the most.  In that first collection, there was one tiny heart in ten greeting …

Four-Car Journey

October 11, 2008 | Leave a Comment

Category: Auto-Biography

My wife, Marcia, has two daughters, and I have a son.  Blended family.  My first wife has a son, now 36 years old, who just had a daughter.  Katie, Marcia’s first daughter, is about to have a son.  Marcia is traveling down to St. Louis for the baby shower tomorrow.

I had my second root canal on Monday.  I called my dad and found out he’s had four.  My son just asked me if getting a root canal is related to how frequently he brushes his teeth.  I’ve noticed a pattern.  I ask my dad questions having to do with what I can expect in 25 years.  My son asks me questions about what he can expect when he’s my age.  I’m experiencing life as this little four-car train, with four generations connected, chugging along evolution’s pathway.

My father’s wife just died about a month ago.  I see his engine beginning to disappear into the tunnel.  It’s a saddening experience to watch that train car you’re directly connected to start to disappear.  I can feel the vanishing as if it’s happening to me.  And so it is.

Facing the other direction, babies are emerging from the other tunnel.  Still, the …

The relationship between politics and science has emerged as an issue in the news as it has become clear that scientific conclusions that don’t support the agenda of an elite money/social conservative/neo-conservative agenda can be pruned as much else is trimmed when a power is seeking to control society’s idea environment.

The American Right Wing has deliberately adjusted conventional reality.  A conscious, pre-Enlightenment, post-Zen position that reality is relative permits the Right Wing to say and do whatever seems useful.  Carl Rove’s childhood was characterized by an intimate, ongoing exposure to a morally ambiguous, boundaryless world.  Rove grew up interpreting that experience to mean that we live in a world with no ethical boundaries or constraints.  No morals can characterize spiritual experience.  No ethics is the mark of a sociopath.  Having confused the two, exclaiming they subscribe to both when they adhere to neither, the American Right has transversed a line crossed in Germany in 1939.  Noted, this is a line dance engaged in by governments across the world.  It is rare that this line is totally ignored.

Politics and science are closely allied in many ways, more connected than either science or politics would have us know.  Science would …

Male control of the female body is a hallmark of a patrifocal society, the Right Wing and hierarchical societies. It is no mistake that the contemporary Republican Party has its roots in the anti-abortion movement. Traditionally, in a patrifocal society such as China or the Yanomamo of South America, society seeks the death of girl infants. If a child is killed while still in the womb, there is no guarantee the male will survive.

In a highly patrifocal society, it is vital that the pool of potential wives be repressed. With few child-bearing females, only the males considered most ideal as husbands will be chosen by the fathers or families of the available woman. In a warrior society, or a very competitive, highly hierarchical society, the males that fail to perform will go mateless. Aggressive, competitive males will procreate and bring higher testosterone warriors into society.

The abortion battle is not over whether killing babies is moral. The abortion battle determines the social structure of society. If females can kill an unborn infant, then future mate selection also reverts to female choice. Females can choose to abort and they can choose their husband according to criteria that support her personal …

Exogamy

October 8, 2008 | Leave a Comment

Category: Social Structure, Society

In patrilineal societies, the males often stay close to home as the girls marry those relatively far away.  In matrilineal societies, the opposite is usually, but not always, true.  Primates other than humans establish patterns revealing that either the males or the females seek mates outside their little society of origin.  It would be interesting to observe the differences between Republican and Green Party, families with many left-handers and those with none, those that are wealthy and those in poverty and it would be interesting to look for different patterns based on ethnic origins.

I suspect that the societal subgroups that reveal clear patterns showing one sex traveling farther to achieve a mate will also reveal differences in testosterone levels with suggestions of matrifocal vs. patrifocal societies of origin.

Profoundly complicating the exploration is the acceleration of girls achieving college educations.  They often find mates while in college.  Both males and females often find mates in college and settle down far from home, making cross-society patterns harder to detect.  It would be interesting to note what percentage of males and females return from college to settle down near their original families and how that correlates with the other variables noted …

Hypothesizing that humans evolved in a meandering fashion oscillating between high testosterone (T) females and low T males in matrifocal societies and high T males and low T females in patrifocal societies we might estimate that the skeletons of our ancestors would reveal those tendencies with gracile (matrifocal) vs. robust (patrifocal) remains.

I’ve referred to the feedback loop. Mother’s testosterone level > maturation speed > social structure > mother’s testosterone level. The environment intervenes at all three levels of the loop, influencing maturation rates and timing, modifying the trajectory of human evolution, creating a pendulum that swings back and forth between the two social structure paradigms.

Females picking males most adept at dance select those males with the most neotenous characteristics. Particularly important are those males with big, neotenous brains. Just as a predator needs more synapses than its prey, a dancer that needs to capture a mate has no ceiling in the synapses required to manifest the most astonishing moves. Brains grew bigger exponentially to achieve mating opportunities while males were competing with other high-stepping, big-brained fellows.

Big brain growth was not a seamless, single line of exponential increase. Different ancestral species, such as Homo erectus, exhibited different speeds …

I agree with Gould that human evolution has been driven by the principles of heterochrony, specifically neoteny or changes in the rate or timing of maturation. Stephen J. Gould has been the contemporary advocate for this view. His 1977 Ontogeny and Phylogeny goes into detail. It’s one of those dozen books that I’ve read several times (along with books by Tolkien, Hesse, Castaneda, Bandler & Grinder, two Buddhist texts, and Gary Larson’s The Far Side).

Gould could have gone further, exploring the physical manifestations of neoteny in the human evolution fossil record. This quest perhaps reveals more riddles than answers, but I suggest that it’s a fruitful exploration nonetheless.

I hypothesize that the engine behind neoteny is social structure as testosterone levels rise and fall with an emphasis on either matrifocal or patrifocal societal orientations. Mother testosterone (T) levels are high in a matrifocal society. Here the females are commanding, autonomous and central to hunting/gathering societies. Mother testosterone levels are low in patrifocal society. Here the females cooperate with commanding, hierarchical, highly competitive males, and the females adjust to a male-centric point of view. It is the mother’s testosterone level that determines her children’s testosterone levels and maturation rates at …

A conundrum frequently reveals itself during my observations of left-handed people. An answer to this riddle seems to be connected to an understanding of how bridges, brain bridges, are made.

Lefties are often the most articulate folks I know. Many creative people, folks that drift toward the left end of this arc of maturational delay, are unusually articulate. These are the older-genotype, matrifocal-social-structure naturals, who are high testosterone females and low testosterone males. Obama and three of our last four presidents were left-handed. Bush W. is right handed. Articulateness seems to often accompany the left-handed.

There are major exceptions.

There are those that are left-handed because of trauma to the left hemisphere, which controls the right side of the body. I don’t know the studies that estimate the percentage of trauma-induced lefties, but a marker is if a left-handed person has no left-handers in the family, and another one is if the right hand is extremely nondextrous, in which case the likelihood increases. These folks don’t normally exhibit the skill/talent structures of the maturational delayed, which can include unusual verbal facility.

Then, there are those that are autistic.

The autistic are extremely maturational delayed, often left-handed, sometimes even ambidextrous and …

I study conditions characterized by maturational delay with the idea that those individuals represent an older matrifocal social-structure precursor to the patrifocal people around today.  Our time is an era of synthesis as a very ancient matrifocal and a 6,500-year-old patrifocal social structure merge.  This merger is the social equivalent of our two brain hemispheres becoming balanced, with the unconscious and the conscious becoming friends.  Imagine what life would be like if our unconscious didn’t feel that so much content needed to be hidden.  Imagine the resources that would be available if energies weren’t devoted to keeping up barriers between conscious and unconscious material.  Ways to cross the line to the unconscious is one of the specialties of the matrifocal-focused.  It is one of the gifts they bring to the integration.  These are the artists, dancers, musicians, gifted athletes and the autistic.

I make a number of predictions concerning autism.  Some have been supported by the literature, some have been ambiguously supported and some go unsupported where no studies have been done.  I propose that the following apply to autistics that come from families exhibiting maturational delay, such as left-handedness.  The specifics of how this model makes these predictions can …

Running a web development firm, growing a national organization that now has almost 1,000 participating organizations, involving myself in many local social-change (peace, environment, justice) organizations and making daily contributions to this blog, I’m not left with much time to study.  Having disappeared into the rabbit hole of academic benders several times in my life, I’m left at this point with examining my environment for patterns, reading the occasional book and referring to my several hundred pages of digital notes (mostly excerpts sorted by subject) and a database of mythological motifs.

During my last intellectual binge, I transcribed notes and abstracts from several hundred papers and almost two hundred books, sorting the notes by subject.  I was planning to go back to the notes while writing a book on the practical and philosophical applications of a new theory of biological evolution.  The start of that book is located at sexualselection.org.  Almost 200 pages into this blog for over six months, I’m concluding that this work is that book, having crossed a line from science into art.

A problem with an examination of my personal experiences is that once I form a hypothesis and seek support for that hypothesis with what …

Perhaps it does not feel intuitive that web and communications technologies are integral to the neoteny cascade that is becoming fully engaged, because technology is closely associated with large, highly hierarchical, government-funded or government-encouraged, corporate-based institutions.  Governments, universities and corporations have worked together to both personally empower the individual in numerous consumer and health related fashions while chaining people to the disempowering orientation that an individual, a single person, cannot make a difference.  Maybe an individual can become wealthy, but he or she cannot change the world.  Corporate media contribute mightily to this malaise.

The structure of the web is reflected in how it’s used.  Just as highly stratified, government/corporate programs both draw to them and encourage hierarchical, nondiverse, secretive solutions, the web compels diversity, transparency and horizontal answers to problems.

The neotenization of society also involves the neotenization of technology.  A single human, as he or she is characterized by that person’s natural integration within a single physical presence, is manifesting in the rapid integration of technology as a whole into a single, diverse, transparent and horizontal mass.  This manifestation is the equivalent of the features of our chimpanzee-like progenitor in infant form manifesting as the adult of today.  …