April 9, 2011
Let’s Learn Science! Happy Birthday, Dead Lady

Today is my birthday.  I’ve now officially outlived Jesus Christ, which I think makes me bigger than John Lennon.  One thing is certain.  I’m gonna be dead someday.  And in the grand scheme of things from an evolutionary perspective, that day is going to be SOON.

That may seem morbid, but for every silver lining, there’s a big old parade-ruining cloud, and I’ve been pretty clear about how I feel about parades (http://simianidiot.tumblr.com/post/3924080207/fuck-parades).  I love birthdays.  But every notch on my belt for another year well-lived is also a tick in the other direction, one less of my allotment, one year closer to farting in my Depends.  We deal with facts because they help us grow.

Last week I watched a documentary about human evolution.  A stack of petrified humanoid bones was identified as a primitive human, “Turkana Boy”.  Based on lots of Genuine Science, it was determined that Turkana Boy was 8 years old at the time of his death.  But the real revelation was that Turkana Boy, unlike most other specimens of his era, had the capacity to talk!

Think about that.  You’re an early man.  Language hasn’t developed yet.  Most of your colleagues just sit around mutely thumping their hairy chests and picking the fleas out of their floppy tits, gnawing on yak bones.  Can you imagine the frustration to be able to communicate in that social climate?  During the big hunt, you’d shout “Hey, there goes a very nice juicy looking bison right there!  The meat from that bison will certainly help our brains evolve into larger, more complex thinking organs!” and your brothers and sisters would fling feces at you in derision.  You’d be a lost man, alone in your own mind.  Who would Turkana Boy talk to?  What would Turkana Boy say?  I posed this very question to Sifu. 

"He’d say, ‘Holy shit, I’m Turkana Boy!’" replied Sifu. 

So we see that self-awareness was the key to Turkana Boy’s contribution to evolution.  That, and his femurs, which he is no longer using.

If we could time-travel to see Turkana Boy give words to the secrets of his primitive soul, it would do us well to keep our expectations low.  He’d be unlikely to try to sell you anything, though, or convert you, so you could do worse, conversationally-speaking.  It took many, many generations for humankind to voice anything of interest, and shortly thereafter we ran out, just in time for the Information Age.  But we are still evolving!  I maintain hope.

If Turkana Boy saw his descendants up close and personal, he’d beat us to death with rocks.  He’s never seen a Vibram Five Finger Running Shoe or Pia Zadora’s tits in sparkling hi-definition, but some primitive intuition would know the monstrosities we are capable of imagining, with our enormous, developed brains. 

I once worked with a woman in her late 80’s, who was horrible in every way.  She looked like Skeletor and she smelled like urine + antiseptic and she was nasty and unpleasant to everyone.  I was in my early 20’s at the time, and she told me that I ought to start thinking about Botox.  “But isn’t that Botulism?  Why would I put that in my face?” I asked her.

"It IS Botulism, and I get my shots every two weeks, which is why I look like this."

I see.

So, happy birthday to me.  Someday I’m gonna be dead and Future Man will stroke my sun-bleached skull in wonder and ponder my botulism pocked brow.  If he allows his Futuristic imagination to wander he will know all he needs to know about the values of my era.  “This female lived to be 100 years old, but her wrinkles were like those of an 87 year old,” he’ll say, before he straps on his rocket shoes and soars home to his floating space condo. 

You’re be dead eventually.  Might as well start injecting all kinds of shit into your face. 

You have learned Science.  Go in peace.

  1. simianidiot posted this
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