News From the Front

The Great Mouse War continues. We caught the stupid ones forthwith. As in, within minutes of setting out the traps. How dumb do you have to be? But the remaining mice are, to varying degrees, clever about avoiding traps. I’ve even seen some navigate around them like a lightning-paced dressage. We set them out with disposable gloves so they don’t smell human, and armed them with peanut butter. How do they know? Are the survivors spreading intel? Is my animal rights activist daughter sabotaging the traps while we sleep?

I’ve noticed a pattern with the clever ones. They’re quiet for a day or two but eventually venture out, I assume they get hungry. After enough venturing one or two ultimately get caught, then it’s quiet again. Each ‘wave’ is trickier than the last to dupe. One kitchen mouse in particular is proving quite shrewd, darting from island to cabinet to under the sink like a fearless laser beam.

Yesterday an epic battle took place that will be sung by bards for generations to come. My son- to help you envision this let me describe him- 6’2,” lanky, and the second or third nerdiest human being on the planet- caught sight of a mouse in the kitchen (no not ‘the’ kitchen mouse). He grabs the lid off my countertop roaster, slams it down on the mouse pinning it by the tail, and with his free hand grabs a glue trap and sticks it the beast. Humans, one, mice, zero!

When I picked up my daughters (not the animal rights one) from school I regaled them with the tale of how their brother caught a mouse with his bare hands. Well almost.

I will admit, they are cute. When they get ‘glued’ they make sweet, birdlike chirping sounds that are even cuter (I know they’re crying out in terror, I get it). But goddammit they are pooping all over my house and breeding like mormons.

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Zootopia Looks Like Staten Island

After all the hype, after my mother raved about it, after my children raved about it– including my 19 year old nerd son with ice in the veins– after my daughter put the dvd on view for her psych ward– I watched Zootopia once it was on netflix. I’ll reserve my observations for a future post, but I could not help but notice that the city of Zootopia greatly resembles Staten Island.

zoo1

zoo2

staten-island

I’ll note this: if having a tiny bunny on the police force is novel, how does Zootopia police its rodent population? That doesn’t make sense.

Why Geeks Are Shunned by Society

I’ve often wondered why nerds and geeks are shunned by society. After all, we as a human race depend on those nerds for better quality of life and sheer survival. Where would we humans be without things like running water, medicine, literacy, and our beloved computers?

Maybe social groups just don’t like smart people. An above-average intelligence is perceived as some kind of threat, or it’s just weird, or the person uses too many big words which makes life confusing. But there are plenty of well loved, and socially adept smart people out there, like Bill Clinton, or Benjamin Franklin (way back when).

My armchair theory is that highly intelligent people, i.e. nerds, are more likely to carry genes for autoimmune disorders, which create a weakened, sickly human body, and this is perceived as a threat to group survival on some very primal level. In her captivity narrative, Fanny Kelly describes how the Sioux Indians would promptly kill any baby born with a weakness or deformity. This could be why the Sioux tended to be extremely strong and in excellent health– genetic defects were culled through rudimentary and brutal means. She described women giving birth painlessly, and almost always without complication. The men were incredibly strong with tremendous physical endurance, and they rarely were sick (until exposed to European diseases).

Somewhere in our lizard brains, we as humans perceive physical weakness– which autoimmune diseases offer in great quantities– as a liability. It doesn’t matter how much we love computers; deep down, we hold in highest esteem the person who can endure the most physical hardship, because that is how we as humans got to this point after 200,000 years. It wasn’t until relatively recently in our history that technology grew sophisticated enough to protect us from harm.

I don’t know if IQ is indeed linked to autoimmune disease; I don’t even know if it’s been studied. On a side note, autistic individuals almost always have low muscle tone (hypotonia) which causes weakness and clumsiness. It’s the recent opinion of some scientists that autism, which in its high functioning variant is often linked to high IQ, may itself be an autoimmune disease.

A person would not have to actually have an autoimmune disease in order to be shunned by society; they would just be sensed as a carrier (much like women can detect DNA through smell) and instinctively ostracized as a result. Large cats like lions will shun lions born into their tribes with defects like bent tails. Perhaps small defects like this are linked to greater defects down the line and the cats instinctively sense it. For humans, a healthy individual acting “nerdy” or “awkward” could be cue enough that the person is a genetic threat so they are shunned by potential mates and by social groups.

Hopefully our society will one day grow sufficiently sophisticated to overcome our primal instincts, because smart people are one of our most valuable resources as we grow ever more technology-dependent.