April 24th, 2008

Gaia

There goes another pair

I came home from work and discovered that my trousers now have a small hole on the backside. It is a rather small hole, smaller than a coin but larger than a pencil. It is also pretty far out to the side, so that it as much on the hip as buttock really. Also the trousers are very pale and my boxers are white so the contrast would not draw attention from afar. But the trousers are visibly worn in various places, and a hole is still a hole. It was such a comfortable pair too. I am starting to get low on them now, since not all of my trousers are of the same size. (It depends on when I bought them - my size has varied over the years.)
At work, Self portrait

South of Eden

Khoisan separate from other humans for nearly 200 000 years (the Economist, of all places.)

The article also mentions in passing that black Africans arrived in parts of South Africa only a few hundred years ago, at the same time as the first whites settled by the coast. I read about this when I was younger, but it has evidently been politically incorrect for a long time now and I failed to find any mention of it for years. It is too bad the article is so brief on this topic, as well as the relationship between the Khoikhoi and the San people.

As upsetting as this may be to my black friends (I honestly don't know how many of you that is and that's OK) it is likely that the long period of South African "Apartheid" (racial segregation) is the reason there even exists a San people to study. The white South Africans deemed that the "bushmen" were a different race from the black Africans and should not mix with them or with whites. Given their small numbers, they would almost certainly have been absorbed completely in the rapidly swelling black population if not for the racist ideology of South Africa at the time. Not saying this means racial segregation is a Good Thing overall, just that there seems to be a silver lining for science at least.

In any case, this seems to be a big nail in the coffin of the theory that the ice age revolution 60-40 000 years ago was caused by a genetic mutation. The Khoisan peoples have a rich (albeit weird) tradition of religion and art, and a fully developed language (albeit using sounds utterly different from those used by all other humans). There is in fact no reason to think of them as living fossils any more than other stone age tribes: They have continued to evolve, only down a different lane.

On a related note, I hope the researchers also identified the genes for the San males' disproportionally long penis, so that these can be genetically engineered into all future generations of humans and bring an end to Internet spam.
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