From Fred Reed, at http://www.fredoneverything.net/Croaking.shtml:
"Among non-scientists there is a vague notion that a beneficent evolution moves us ineluctably toward ever higher intelligence and understanding, though in fact evolutionary theory does not say this—evolution has no direction and science promises only an eventual dull entropic boredom—but the onward-and-upward popular belief appears to satisfy the need for an overarching explanation of everything."You know, he's right. Evolution promises nothing. I doubt that mankind in general is any smarter now than, say, 200 years ago. @00 (that's a capitalized "200") years isn't much in evolutionary terms, but I do believe that on average we are already demonstrably more stupid. We know more "stuff", but we are in general, overall, less logical, less understanding, less interested in understanding, and less capable than we used to be. It's like thinking is evolving out of us. Like we don't need it any more.
(Keep in mind that incorrect conclusions are not necessarily due to faulty reasoning. Often it's due to faulty assumptions. So if great-great-grandfather had some nutty notions, it may have had less to do with his intellectual abilities than with the "facts" he started out with. Contrast that with today, when people are perfectly willing to start with "facts" that they already know, or should know, are false, and it doesn't seem to bother them in the least.)
Ever see "Idiocracy"? That's one way evolution could go, and I see no evidence that it's not.
This is fascinating!
"Ringing all 10 down in peal at Rochester Cathedral"
The first time I watched this I didn't have the title, so it wasn't until about the 3:40 mark that I noticed that the bells were no longer going to the balance point (straight up) and suddenly realized what they were doing. The title confirmed it. Cool.
I recently read that the viral "Gangnam style" dance video and its clones had surpassed all records for views on YouTube, probably because people were playing it over and over to learn the moves. (If you want to see what it's about, this is a better illustration of the dance: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&v=bjQKCLvtLN0&NR=1.)
Of course my immediate reaction was an annoyed "Why?" It's pretty stupid, and apparently the moves fit only with that particular music, so why would anyone want to work so hard to learn it?
Thinking about it a bit changed my opinion.
I grew up in the era of waltz, fox trot, 2-step, jitterbug, swing, twist, frug (my favorite, and ignore Wikipedia's opinion that Bob Fosse's Rich Man's Frug is "a perfect example" -it's not. In fact, I didn't even recognize it as the frug), and the group dances like the Madison and the stroll. I never really danced much anyway, because I'm so short and so couples dancing was awkward, and separately I kept getting smashed into on the dance floor. Along about the 1980s (my 30s into 40's), I was running with a much younger group, and was shocked to find that "dancing" had somehow devolved into simply jumping up and down in place. I was further shocked when, in the '90s, dancing became nothing more than simulated sex on the dance floor. Just rubbing body parts together.
At that point I stopped paying attention.
So if young folks are interested in something that moves to the beat, has actual "steps", and doesn't involve rubbing against relative strangers, well, maybe I should cheer.
The Nugget loves to dance. She has danced, bouncing on her bottom and swaying her upper body whenever she heard music, even before she was able to stand. Now she tucks a tiny African drum under her left arm and plays with her right while she dances and sings along with the music.
"Dancing" right now involves swinging her bottom left to right while she sways and takes big steps side to side or in a circle with her legs far apart. She's just now learning about jumping, so now she throws in a little hop here and there.
What's cutest about it is that she doesn't dance for approval or attention. She forgets you're there. She's completely focused on the music.
I'd been a little worried because at 18 months Nugget still was making no attempt to talk, beyond "mama" and "dada" and "ammah" (me), and even those words were rare. I hoped that it was because her mother had taught her sign language as an infant, so she felt no need to talk. It was obvious that she understood a lot of what was said to her, though, even rather complex statements, even with future tense. (Her mother had been speaking in grammatically correct three to four word sentences at 10 months, so that's what I was comparing to.)
This past month has been much more satisfying. It started with "Baaaaall!" She had to identify every ball for us. Even round buttons - "baaaaall!" Oranges - "Baaaaall!" As far as I know that's the only new word she says spontaneously, but she does repeat words to herself when we say them. "Do you want a cookie? Cookie?" Fierce nod, "Cooooogie!" Cats, however, are still "Eeeeow!" no matter what we call them.
Oh, almost forgot. "No!" has appeared. Spontaneously. Sharp, clear, and distressingly often.
I was just about to file this when, from my left, where the TV was nattering to itself, I heard a woman say something about 300 people in the room and "...not no one didn't see nothing".
My toes literally curled. I don't know what that means! Logically it means some one saw something. I think. If the Nugget ever says anything like that, so help me I will spank her!