Thursday, February 25, 2010
Me and Claire at the Top of Monarch Mountain
After Moab I drove down to Salida. Claire and Craig are staying at Claire’s parent’s condo in Salida until Claire moves to Alaska where she’ll be leading a small crew of trail builders. You can read her blog which will cover her AK adventures here. One thing that’s always great about hanging out with Claire and Craig is that I can ask Craig tons of questions about animals and evolutionary theory. This time we covered an animal we hadn’t talked about much in the past, homo sapiens sapiens. I was curious if there were any evolutionary trends we might be able to see in humans in very recent times. A couple thoughts came out. One was that we may have unintentionally created an extra-stong/health/extra-immune population of African-Americans in this country on the basis that the weak or sick died on their way to the US during the slave trade (remember that 50% died on the marches to the African coast and another 50% died on the boats to America). There was also an idea that westerners may have created a extra-weak/unhealthy/less-immune population. The reasoning is that we’ve got enough medicine, technology, social welfare, etc that almost everyone survives to mating age. There was another thought that we may be in the process of creating a significantly less “intelligent” (recognizing potential definition problems) population in the west. This would be because “intelligence” probably doesn’t have much correlation with mating success in the West. Craig also seemed to think that a nation like Brazil where you’ve got a lot of intermixing of various peoples from around the world is probably they type of population that would be best able to withstand future disease and achieve greater measures of success in other areas over the long-term.
Maybe Craig would dispute me here, but I definitely hear a bit of a “nature morality” in his tone (and I think I here this with most biologists). A biological nature morality would posit that evolution and reproductive success is natural and good. By this definition we in the west with our declining birth rates (remember that our population in this country only grows because of immigration and that the trend is even stronger in most of Europe) have tried to beat nature – and if you take your meaning from a biological standard (passing on your genes) or from the Catholic spin on the equation (being a good father/mother) – then “beating nature” isn’t such a good thing. But that’s precisely the problem . . . we’re humans, we actively create our own personal sense meaning. Its what we’ve always done, and its as natural to us as anything. We’ve got language and once you’ve got language you’ve got a potential for desire outside of sex and survival. It makes art, math, poetry, religion, and altruism all possible. Of course it also makes cruelty, genocide, racism, teasing, depression, and the economic injustices of capitalist accumulation possible. So proceed with caution . . . . but proceed anyways because there really isn’t any other choice.
The first day in Salida we went skiing. It was really fantastic. The snow was great and it was the least crowded ski mountain I’ve ever seen. Because there were so few people there was a lot of powder on some of the least used goomed runs. It’s pretty awesome to ski through, though I admit that I don’t very well in it at all (probably because I lack some technique knowledge.
The next day we went snow shoeing on a trail in a National Forest whose name I can’t remember. Craig’s dog Copper came along with us. Copper is a funny dog because despite being rather large he seems to think he can sneak around and get to places he isn’t supposed to go to. Unfortunately for Copper, its hard to be sneaky when you’re 75 lbs and you’ve got a tail that constantly bumps into things.
Coper and us snow shoeing
Later Claire’s friend Caitlin and her boyfriend Sean came to visit. We went to a hot springs at night which was really cool. The hot water boiled into a river and they owners had built up little rock coves that helped trap the hot water and keep the area warm. The next day they made green curry vegetables and rice which was pretty good.
Other events in Salida included drinking too much and eating too much food. Hooray!!!