Sunday, March 13, 2011

What do Tiger Woods, Charlie Sheen, and Moulay Ismail have in common?

(Charlie, Tiger, and Moulay would have a lot to discuss if they ever got together, and it wouldn't be about golf.)

The answer to the question in the title is SEX.   More specifically, they all have had sex with many different women during their lives.

We do not know the exact number, but it is probably safe to conclude from all reports that Tiger Woods and Charlie Sheen have had sex with dozens of women, both of whom still have a looooong way to go before they're finished with their sexual lives.  Certainly the number of sexual consorts they have had is greater than the number reached by most, or all, of you reading this essay.  But, in fact, that is exactly what a behavioral ecologist expects.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote an essay here posing why people become avid fans of sports teams.  My hypothesis was that those individuals who followed and proclaimed their allegiance to a football or baseball team were enhancing their status, at least a little.  And I recognized that this phenomenon of being a fan is more common in males than in females.  I should have written this essay first, and then that one, because that would seem to be the more logical order in which to present these ideas.  But I'm old, and this is my blog, and I can do anything I want here.

The idea here is that men seek as high a status as they can muster, and with that status, comes access to women.  And this has been going on for millions of years--in Homo sapiens, and in all the ancestral species before that.  Realize that men all over the world are seeking high status by trying to excel at whatever they do in life (e.g., whether being a surgeon, a golfer, an actor, a warrior in the Amazon, a politician, or an assembly line worker), because the payoff for millennia has been to leave more offspring than those who don't.  And, as we learned in that out-of-order blog of mine, men don't have to be conscious of all this evolutionary stuff; they do it because it feels good.

Of course, this would all work only if there is a correlation between the number of women with whom a man has sexual intercourse and the number of children he sires during his life.  But, you are saying, women can have all the sex they want and not get pregnant, because of their use of contraception.  But that is a relatively new development in the evolution of humans.  I have never thought that men seek women to have more children, but they seek out women because sex feels good.  It is the proximate goal to have sex that drives this system in the short term, not the ultimate outcome of leaving genes in more offspring.  Over our long history, however, more sex must have equated to having more children, on average.

By the way, one of my favorite activities is to google famous people, and then to read the Wikipedia account of their lives.  Usually those accounts contain a "Personal" section, which details the number of times the person has been married, the number of children they had with each wife, and maybe the number of non-wife lovers they had during their illustrious life.  Think of a few famous men you know, and do this little exercise.  I think you will then agree that they seem to have had a lot more "encounters" with females than you have, or than most of the men you know.  And those numbers reported there are just the official tally.

But how successful reproductively can one man be?  Let's introduce Moulay Isma├»l Ibn Sharif (the "Warrior King"), who ruled Morocco from 1672-1727.  Moulay ruled for a decade longer than even Qaddafi has ruled Libya.  Moulay Ismail was a particularly ruthless and bloodthirsty ruler, who used to kill his servants on a whim.  It is said that he once slit the throats of two servants just to try out a new blade he had been given.  But the Alaouite sultan's claim to fame for our purposes was that he is thought to have sired more than 1,000 children, the most in recorded history.  By 1703, he had 525 sons and 342 daughters; less than two decades later, he tallied his 700th son.  One biologist calculated that to produce this number of children from the vast harem of wives he amassed, Moulay would have had to copulate, on average, with 1.2 women every day over the course of 60 years.  Tiger and Charlie have some catching up to do if they want to capture that record.

Should we condemn these self-serving, sex-seeking males of our species for their dastardly way of life?  If we are going to assign some blame for this behavior, we need to look further than the males themselves.  Females share in the blame, for if they had not been attracted to high-status men for eons, this system would have broken down long ago.  Remember that for men, quantity is everything in sex, while for females, quality is paramount.

In addition, all this striving to be the best you can be has probably resulted in most of the accomplishments in art, music, architecture, medicine, sports, and science attributed to men.  Think for a moment how different history would have been if this biological relationship between status and reproductive success had been different from what it is.  That is one heck of an interesting mental exercise. If that doesn't give you something to think about when your electricity is out, go back to playing Scrabble by candlelight.

Article first published as What Do Tiger Woods, Charlie Sheen and Moulay Ismail Have in Common? on Technorati.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

What I learned on Facebook during the first week of March 2011!

(Some profound statements from my friends on Facebook this week.)

All quotes were copied and pasted from Facebook exactly as they were written.

Ryan A. asks “So... if one was trying to decide between a trip to Alaska (fly fishing, wildlife-viewing, hiking, camping, and maybe rafting) or Belize (tanning, snorkeling, fishing, wildlife-viewing, hiking, and umbrella drink drinking) in the next year or so, which should it be?”

Ryan A., I would split the difference, a compromise of sorts. I would go to Nebraska in August. You could eat corn, watch the Cornhuskers prepare for the coming football season, and visit Cabela’s main store in Sydney. They have cold beer in a can, but bring your own umbrellas.

Samantha D. startles us with “It's a very Sunday kind of Sunday :)”

And you know, tomorrow will be a very Monday kind of Monday, and the next day will probably be a very Tuesday kind of Tuesday. But I’m just guessing about all that.

Gus G. is curious if there “Was there a Rally to Save the American Dream yesterday in New Orleans?”

People from New Orleans have a dream. They simply hope that the city is not sitting permanently in 1-2 meters of ocean water by the end of the century. In the meantime, go to Mardi Gras, eat jambalaya, and burn lots of oil. If New Orleans is flooded, more people will go to Nebraska with Ryan A. for vacation.

Nancy S. instructs us “If you LOVE ME:) Comment this status* If I'M A GOOD FRIEND:) Like this! If you ever had a CRUSH on ME* POKE ME! If you HATE ME+ Message ME saying WHY? If your BRAVE POST this as your STATUS!!”

Well Nancy S., I guess I am just not that brave. I do love you, but this business of asking people to “poke” me, in public, on a social network is way too loose and liberal for me. I prefer the privacy of my own home.

Cynthia S. ask about how we feel with “Do you need to be rich and famous or would rich be enough for you ♥ Know what feels best for you. It's easier to receive when you know what you are looking for :)”

Is this some kind of trick question? Are you kidding me? I need to be rich AND famous. Why do you think I write these stupid blogs? I want people to click on the ads so I make money, and I want them to talk about the guy who wrote these hilarious quips so I become famous. Come on Cynthia S., don’t make me choose.

Marleen Ⓥ van B. implores us with “You will begin your journey on a new path with the willingness to step off a cliff into the unknown. You will bring little provisions with you, ready to create or find what you need along the way. The sun at your back, your dog to accompany you, Your carefree pose stands testament to this search for the new adventure, to the faith you have in yourself to forge a new path”

I think that young hiker did all of this a couple of years ago, the one who got trapped under a rock for days. They just released a movie about his real-life experience, where he had to cut off his arm with a pen knife. No Marleen van B., I’m going to step off a cliff in my living room in front of the tv, with a bag of taco chips, and a Bud Lite. But I’m going to “forge a new path” by trying a bag of those blue corn chips for the first time.

Jenny L. N. complains that “I don't mind living in a tiny house. In fact, I hear it's cool to live in a house that's way too small for you. I do mind living next door to a moron who apparently has a lot of time on his hands. I say the time he spends tearing up his yard racing radio-controlled trucks around could be better spent shoveling up the giant piles of dog crap that have been accumulating in his backyard for nearly two years.”

But Jenny L. N., you are missing the point entirely. Your neighbor is trying to perfect his skills with the radio-controlled truck by guiding it through his dog shit-strewn yard without hitting any of those piles. That’s way more fun than setting up Lego obstacles.

Lizzie D. tempts us with “Cooking black bean stew w Green chile roasted in New Mexico and spicy rice :)”

Lizzie D., are you married? I have two single sons who love spicy Mexican food.

Doc Karen P. L. admits “I'm hungry. Hmmmm. What to eat...what to eat....”

Doc Karen P. L., if you like blue taco chips, come on over to my house. If you want something more substantial, go to Lizzie D.’s.

Abbie H., Margaret H., Jenni S. and 56 others like this.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Why Muammar Qaddafi is only a Colonel

(Why he never promoted himself to General, I'll never know.)

Did you ever think about this?  Muammar Qaddafi has been the supreme ruler and dictator of Libya for more than 40 years.  He is the commander in chief of the armed forces, the high potentate, the big pooba, the cat's meow.  Officially, he is Brotherly Leader and Guide of the First of September Great Revolution of the Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.  The President of the United States doesn't have a title nearly that long, and look at what a big deal he is.

By contrast, in my house, I am officially the lowly Firewood Gatherer, Floor Cleaner, Wall Painter Second in Command to Blond Management Person, and I left the Army with the rank of Sergeant. Certainly, Qaddafi should be ranked as high as possible if he is leader and guide of a whole revolution.  I don't see why the guy isn't an 8-10 star General.

I have a couple of possible explanations why Qaddafi only holds the rank of Colonel in the Libyan military.  Maybe he is a shirker of sorts.  Being a General has lots of responsibilities.  You need to review the troops, sign many important papers, and salute thousands of soldiers of lesser rank.  You need to get up early in the morning to accomplish all these tasks, and the Colonel may have decided it is just not worth it.

Plus, being a General means you have really become entrenched in the establishment.  You are then part of the Board of Directors, so to speak, rather than an average Joe. You have to act more dignified.  You can't just hang with the boys, smoking a hookah and eating stuffed pigeons.  What's worse, Qaddafi might have to give up his voluptuous blond companion Galyna Kolotnytska, who is his Ukrainian "nurse".  (I'll take the disease he has, thank you.)  So the lifestyle change that comes with being a General just may not be viewed by Qaddafi as desirable.

Then again, maybe the guy is just a wimp.  After all, it is reported that he fears flying over water, prefers staying on the ground floor of hotels, and almost never travels.  That is, he is afraid of heights, water, and movement.  I suppose if I had been born in a Bedouin tent in a desert country, I would have no early experience with certain elements in the environment and that I might come to fear them later in life.  But I assume his birth tent had no voluptuous blond in it either, and he apparently adjusted to the trauma of being near one of those as an adult.  And how many Ferraris were parked outside that tent?  Nada.  But Qaddafi got over his potential fear of this vehicle enough to buy some, even though camels are more useful in that part of the world.  So his early experience can't be the reason he refuses the high rank.

So it is somewhat of a mystery why the man did not make himself the head of the General staff of the military.  Maybe the guy is much more modest and humble than the West thinks.  Maybe he believes in giving credit where credit is due, and he did not see himself worthy of the rank of General.  Maybe he failed the written exam a General needs to pass, so he decided he would study harder and try again later.  But it is probably none of those reasons.  After all, when you are surrounded by a bevy of international models, you own a bunch of Ferraris, you don't have to gather your own firewood (like some of us do), and you have a nurse who is built like a brick hammam (= Arabic word for bathroom), who cares what your rank is?

Rich Text Article first published as Why Muammar Qaddafi is Only a Colonel on Technorati.