Archive for the ‘Fine Feathers’ Category

My Scruffy But Noble Self

The purpose of grooming is partly to survive in one’s environment – as in a bird’s care of its flight feathers and an otter’s care of its pelt – but otherwise to demonstrate genetic health to the opposite sex. Health includes the surplus energy to attend to one’s fur and plumage. A scruffy animal, therefore, […]

Posted on May 3, 2011 at 10:17 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, Fine Feathers

The Biology Of Fashion

If sexual selection was merely about the first generation of mating, there would be more scope for a wide variety of sexual taste; a woman might consent to breed with a man whom no other women found attractive, if she were unable to pull the conventionally attractive. And similarly for men. But selection is not […]

Posted on May 4, 2011 at 09:01 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, Fine Feathers

The Drive For Extravagance

There used to be a debate among biologists as to whether sexual selection of males on the basis of apparently useless and even dangerous ornamentation had some rational basis or resulted from some runaway feedback process. In the latter case, it was said, there is no mechanism for stopping. Evolution is simply “whatever works, works”; […]

Posted on May 5, 2011 at 11:23 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, Fine Feathers

A Thousand Ways Of Doing It Wrong

People have wondered why the otherwise mostly naked apes retained so much hair on their heads; one common explanation is sunstroke prevention. This may be barking up the wrong savannah tree; we may possess a head of hair solely in order that we may demonstrate our biological superiority or inferiority by grooming it well or […]

Posted on May 6, 2011 at 10:51 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, Fine Feathers

Raybans As Animal Threat Display

I have seen both Latin American dictators and CIA spooks referred to as “the sort of people who wear sunglasses indoors”. Now, the social function of sunglasses allow us to see the other person’s eyes without their being able to see ours. In animal-threat terms this is a very powerful move. The question, then, is […]

Posted on May 7, 2011 at 11:27 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, Fine Feathers

Billowing Robes

Many young people thought that “Neo” was cool in his robe-like coat. I wonder how many of them reflected that in many cultures men originally wore robes, and that some of these cultures still survive. Trousers probably began as the only practical garment for people of either gender who rode horses. There seems to be […]

Posted on May 8, 2011 at 10:38 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, Fine Feathers

Casting A Glamour On The Kids

Glamour, to which almost the entire world now pays homage, was originally a Scots word for a very bad thing, namely a deceitful illusion. In the medieval romances, still with us in the guise of the sword & sorcery genre, the witch “casts a glamour” on the knight so that he thinks her a comely […]

Posted on May 9, 2011 at 11:01 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, Fine Feathers

Vogue On The Outside, Vague On The Inside

MRI scans of London cab-drivers who have mastered “The Knowledge” show that their brains have paid a price for this prodigious feat of memory; they are now less able to absorb new information. For all kinds of brainpower are a finite resource. It seems intuitively obvious, therefore, that people whose brains are maximised for the […]

Posted on May 10, 2011 at 14:45 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, Fine Feathers

Minos And The Bouncer

The Last Judgment is now playing every weekend in a club near you. The souls line up, and the Bouncer admits them to the joy of his lords and ladies, or tells them to depart into the outer darkness, where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth. Except that it is by no means certain […]

Posted on May 11, 2011 at 12:51 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, Fine Feathers

The Sartorial Muezzin

One fine Sunday morning in Frankfurt I was sitting in the shadow of Europe’s tallest buildings and listening to the loud and varied pealing of many Catholic churches. It occurred to me that the common comparison of cathedrals with skyscrapers (temples of Mammon and all that), while being quite accurate in some respects, fails altogether […]

Posted on May 12, 2011 at 10:47 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, Fine Feathers