Category Archives: Evolution

An Orangutan with a Stradivarius?

I recall hearing the expression “An orangutan with a Stradivarius” when I was in college.  It meant that some crude underserving person had possession of some thing of great quality.  Likely, the fathers of girls I aspired to date in college had this thought about me and their daughters.

As it turns out, orangutans actually make crude musical instruments.  These instruments are not made for cultural reasons, but for the practical purpose of scaring predators.  Read more here.

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Filed under Evolution, Uncategorized

Woody Guthrie, “The Naked Ape,” and Swimming Pool Sex

Woody_Guthrie_NYWTS[1]The_naked_ape[1]There was a comedian (I think it was George Carlin) who said “If you nail two things together that have never been nailed together before, some schmuck, somewhere, will buy it.”  This hammering process, in the context of reminiscing, has been my “thread approach” this week.  I see no reason to change that now – this one is three things nailed together, that shouldn’t be, probably.  [And, by the way, Emily, you are not to read this post!  – I am sure that will stop her.]

In 1974, I think it was, there was a huge Rolling Stone article about Bob Dylan and his admiration of Woody Guthrie.  Dylan found Woody in a sanitorium in New York when the latter was dying from Huntington’s Chorea.  He would visit him daily, play his guitar and sing him songs.  This magazine (in those days it was more like a newspaper – remember that?) article was the inspiration for a road trip.  My best friend in College and I decided we were going to Okemah, Oklahoma that fateful July to find Woody Guthrie’s grave.  At the time, there was a news story about how the city of Okemah would not let a group of musicians (a large group of different acts who had produced two albums covering Guthrie’s music) build a library in honor of Guthrie.  For some reason, it sounded like a place we wanted to go to.

The semester before we went on our road trip, I had read a book by Desmond Morris called The Naked Ape: A Zoologist’s study of the Human Animal. Morris speculated in the book that the reason we humans were hairless (relatively speaking) apes was that we spent a large amount of time in water once we had climbed down from trees.  We evolved to make life in the water more efficient.  This digression becomes salient, later.

Getting to Okemah was not difficult.  We found a police officer sitting on a chair on the porch of the Police Station.  He told us where the cemetary was and where the former home of Woody Guthrie was.  We asked him why the people of Okemah did not want to have the Library built that was meant to honor Guthrie.  He said something to the effect of “We didn’t want any library honoring a shiftless and communist guitar picker built here.”  We said thank you, and quickly departed, before anyone could cue up banjo music or make requests of us to make animal sounds.

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Filed under Evolution, memories

Out Of Africa: Human DNA

dna_rgbDid anyone watch “The Human Family Tree” recently on the National Geographic channel? One of the most fascinating facts found out, after checking the DNA of 350,000 human beings from every corner of the planet, is we all come from the same area of Africa.

200,000 – 150,000 years ago: The genetic journey of everyone alive today began with one woman — “Scientific Eve” — who lived in Africa and passed along her DNA through special cell structures called mitochondria, which only women pass down to further generations. What that means is, we are all related: Black, White, Yellow, Brown . . . we’re all the same. Our DNA varies by 1/10 of 1%, and that small percentage is what gives us our individual identities.

The color of a humans skin comes not from DNA, but where our ancestors migrated to. European ancestors lived in cold climates, so skin pigmentation lightened over generations. Those living in warmer or hotter climates retained the darker characteristics. It makes it interesting, then, how much race (which actually doesn’t exist) plays the role it does in society.  I wonder how racists would actually feel if they knew they were hating their brothers and cousins?  My guess is they would not believe the evidence when presented to them. All one has to do is look to people like Linda Jenkins, Bill O’Reilly and their ilk to understand facts have little meaning to them.

So, readers, how do we change the minds of people bent on destroying race relations, when the evidence of DNA points to the non-existence of race? Is it even possible?



Filed under Celebration, Diversity, Evolution, hate groups, History, Life Lessons, racism, Research, Thinking/Considering

Why are So Few Women In the Infidelity Club?

Bill Clinton, David Vitter, Eliot Spitzer, John Ensign and Mark Sanford have all had affairs.

This Politico article examines the question of why so few women politicians have ever been caught for sexual indiscretions. 

One woman politician asked a variant of the question, “When would I have time for that?”  My ex-wife used to accuse me of infidelity all the time and the “when would I have time?” question was not an acceptable defense.  I thought I was appealing to rational reasoning ability – but that did not work.

Of the various reasons for the under-repesentation of women in this group, my favorite is this from the article:  “women are way more clever at covering [affairs] up.”

iggy donnelly


Filed under Elections, Evolution, Life Lessons, Media, Republicans, Woman Power


  Did you ever think it was silly when you hear people say, WE’RE WITNESSING HISTORY! My first thought was always, “GEE, isn’t every waking moment ‘witnessing history’?” I know, I’m just parsing words. What they surely mean is that we are witnessing milestones, tipping points if you will.

Remember the good ol’ days of the internet, say 8-10 years ago in ancient internet times? We had these quaint things called ‘chat rooms’ and ‘message boards’? I thought that was so cool. Leaving a message that somebody on another continent could read. Wow. Not quite what Kubrick envisioned in 2001 A Space Odyssey. But to me, very cool. My Aunt and Uncle were Kansas dairy farmers who just got electricity and plumbing in the mid 1950’s.

So what’s the big milestone? The Iranian (so-called) election, or rather the way it is being exposed! A phony rigged election in a theocracy, I have no doubt that will happen again. The milestone is that we have reached the age of super-connectivity. An exponential proliferation of connectivity, made possible by; Emails, Twitter, Facebook, StumbleUpon,, Digg this!, Linkedin, Reddit and RSS feeds.

Not to mention the old fashioned thing you’re reading now, a blog post. Many blogs are networked to ALL of these, making them accessible practically everywhere. And, here’s the Big Brother part, the proliferation of cheap mobile devices that access any or all of these in virtually real-time.

No longer can an oppressive nation publish strictly controlled press releases and suppress the truth for any period of time. Even though the Iranian govt has tried, the networks have just become overwhelming! Just as electrical grids are re-routed when one connection fails, modern networking has proved to resistant to attempts to block and disrupt the flow! I believe that the 2009 Iranian farce elections should be held as an epic moment, just as Tienamen Square is now.

The Iranian people were not allowed to be counted in their own country, dismissed as mere ‘motes of dust’. They will not be dust to the rest of the world. Their voices have become a swarm on every network possible. The age of governments hiding their deeds behind ‘iron curtains’ is over. We, the citizens of the world can be the antithesis of the Owellian Big Brother. Let North Korea’s people be heard next!



Okay, enough playing politics for NOW. For more about networks – Continue reading


Filed under Diplomacy, Diversity, Elections, Evolution, hate groups, History, Media, New Technology, Political Reform, Populists, Religion, Research, World Politics

Talking Mice? What Has Man Unleashed?

240px-Reepicheep_thumbResearchers at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (in Leipzeig, Germany – the German city that hosted the first psychology laboratory)  have inserted a human gene, FOXP2,  into mice.  This gene is thought to be one of the components that give humans the ability to speak.  The gene insertion has altered the way mice communicate – their utlrasonic whistles are lower in pitch now.

What are the implications?  What will this unleash?  As the novelist and screen writer Mark Leyner explains in this NY Times Op Ed piece,  “we’re talking about a rat that’ll be able to sit down, look you in the eye and talk about the Sotomayor nomination or the Lakers-Magic series.”

This tearing down of the inter-animal communication wall will have more implications than the changing of Disney movie themes.  My aggressively vegetarian daughter may win all of her arguments and I will have to start eating those things she prescribes.  Heaven forbid…

iggy donnelly


Filed under Evolution, Psychology Ramblings...

I Wish I Could Go Back Home… And Stay…

Phillip Brownlee

Phillip is one of the nicest people I have ever met.  I know his heart is in the right place, but I can’t understand the WE Blog’s current course.  It could be, that Phillip doesn’t understand it either.

Rhonda Holman

Rhonda Holman is a great writer.  She is one of the most impressive editorial writers I have ever met.  She is just brilliant.

I will never forget the night that TC’s son had to climb through a window to get Rhonda’s coat on a cold January night.

Back to the topic of this thread:  I’d like to go home, but I am thinking that such a journey is no longer possible for me…  I am sad, but accepting of this truth.

Iggy Donnelly


Filed under Diversity, Economics, Evolution, GLBT Rights, hate groups, Weird news

Empathy, the cooperative side of humanity

orangatangScientists think they’ve found the origins of human empathy in studying orang-utans.  They found that laughter is contagious and important for animals that live in groups. “Empathy helps one communicate with social partners … It helps form social bonds and it’s supportive in terms of cooperation.”

Another study examines our potential for violence and finds, “Contrary to popular belief, we are born violent. Until the age of three, our impulses run riot. There is no stopping the urges which come from the emotional centre in our brains.

But as we grow up, we start to develop the part of the brain that allows us to control our aggression – the pre-frontal cortex.

What causes some people to not control their tendency to be violent?  What allows others to remain passive, calm and peaceful?  What part does our culture and our experiences play?  We know laughter is contagious.  Is violence also?

When you read stories like those telling of the people gathering to protest at The University of Notre Dame tomorrow, you can’t ignore the mass hysteria, how much greater the threats of violence are because too often violence creates violence.  Does being a part of a group who are furious give permission to behave in ways we might find unacceptable as an individual?



Filed under Crimes, Evolution, hate groups, Obama, Uncategorized

The Advantages of Sharing Meat: No Pun Intended

Now I’m understanding why I take the sweety to the Red Rock Canyon Grill for those anniversary dinners.  Read about the evolutionary roots of this strategy.

Iggy Donnelly


Filed under Bartering, Evolution, Humor, Life Lessons