On the Monotony of Monogamy: are humans built for it?

It’s no secret, the subject of fidelity in relationships is a hot-button topic. Just a mere mention of even a fictional couple’s relational woes can cause heated discussions and arguments amongst anyone within earshot. While some argue that humans are eventually supposed to settle down with one partner, others argue that monogamy is an outdated fallacy that has never worked to begin with. Indeed, everyone has an opinion on this topic…but who is right?!

Stop, you’re both right…

Humans are a complex species. We exist as one, but are divided into sections based on a plethora of innate factoids and information. Religiously speaking, most Western religions promote 2-parent families with an emphasis on monogamy and many have taken this to be the only ‘right’ way to live their lives. On the flip side, religions that stem from other cultures (as well as some fringe, Western-born religions) promote a varied subset of this notion; often allowing only one partner (typically the male) to partake in extramarital sex, or even going so far as to encourage multiple brides and/or grooms.

That being said, it’s not far-fetched to infer that perhaps there is no wrong or right way to live your life…as long as it’s honest. That is to say, if 2,3,4 or more adults agree to live and share their lives in an intimate way, none but the named parties can possibly decide whether or not this arrangement is right for them.   According to a recent study conducted on the monogamy (or lack there of) of multiple mammalian species, ‘”I’m far from convinced that humans are really monogamous,” said Tim Clutton-Brock, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Cambridge.’ ~CNN.com Furthermore, there seems to be no rhyme of reason to the collected data from these studies: “‘When we looked at the data, it has this very weird shape,’ Wlodarski told Live Science.’Rather than it being a whole gamut of mating strategies, there seems to be two potential phenotypes within males and within females.'” ~lifescience.com

Though there are still no conclusive studies on this subject, most studies show that monogamy is a recent human convention that may have stemmed from hunting & gathering, financial issues, and a number of other social constructs. Thus, it seems as though the institution of marriage and its associated definitions will continue to evolve with the times.

In Conclusion…

The prevailing opinion seems to be that it is immoral to engage in any relationship besides a committed one between one man and one woman. Those who dare veer outside of this ideal are typically met with fierce criticism and opposition. However, with the decline of marriage rates amongst heterosexuals and the inclusion of homosexuals in the so-called ‘sanctity of marriage’ shows us first hand that times can and will change. In the future it seems that #DTR (defining the relationship) will eventually, solely be left up to the parties involved. Indeed, though we as a society feel the need to convene with those with similar lifestyles in the name of uniformity, it is also time to admit that forcing beliefs on others is an archaic practice that typically ends in massive, outright rebellion.

Venus L

Sources:Ghose Tia. “Both Monogamy and Polygamy May Be Natural for Humans.”LiveScience. TechMedia Network, 03 Feb. 2015. Web. 09 Mar. 2015. Landau, Elizabeth. “Monogamy: Who Needs It? – CNN.com.” CNN. Cable News Network, 30 June 2013. Web. 09 Mar. 2015.

 

 

On the new Net Neutrality bill and why it’s Important

In case you missed it, the Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 to reclassify broadband Internet as a utility. This may not seem like a big deal to those who have not been keeping an eye on this issue. Nevertheless, I assure you this is a massive step in the correct direction…

What does it all mean??

Essentially, the bill will prevent providers from charging individual networks extra in order to operate at full speed. Unbeknownst to many, the bill passed in 2010 made it possible for Internet providers to essentially charge people whatever they choose for service; many have complained of price hikes since that bill was introduced. Perhaps more importantly, it prevents providers from blocking access to legal content, an issue that many free speech activists have been concerned about. In a nutshell, the bill states “that no one — whether government or corporate — should control free open access to the Internet.” –npr.org. This does not necessarily end all of the budding issues concerning free speech and Internet censorship. However, it seems the government has once again started to realize the importance of maintaining free speech and personal freedoms.

Overall…

As with most bills, there is room for interpretation and typically some wiggle room for companies to find a way to continue unfair and shady practices. It is our right to keep a close eye on this issue and make them all answerable for the promises they’ve made to the American people.

Venus L

Two Handfuls of Music Artists

If one pays attention to the narrow bandwidth of mainstream media, one would think only two handfuls of music artists are on the scene today. The constant churning of these same music artists in our auditory and visual presence creates the impression that only a few names really matter in contemporary music. Further, if your musical tastes do not sync with the tracks and images we are subliminally told we are supposed to like, then what does that say about our ability to fit in with the societal largess? Is something wrong with us if we tire of the same tracks on the radio, in television adverts, in retail stores, restaurants, and movies?

Most of us have probably turned against a track at some point. For example, a track that becomes a summer music blockbuster played everywhere. When you first hear the track, you fall under its spell, but by the end of summer you hate it. After hearing a song for the millionth time, you might begin to question your own sanity for liking the song in the first place. Few songs can escape the wrath of overexposure.

Few music artists successfully survive overexposure in the long run. The two handfuls of artists that take center stage must squirm sometimes about how their music is thrust upon us. Unfortunately, the nature of all encompassing capitalism requires squeezing every ounce from those who can make the most money for others.

Thank the Universe for the Internet. There is no need to search far to find fresh music artists, new sounds, and experimental concepts on the Interwebs. The multiple online music platforms provide a global, music array the mainstream media for the most part ignores. Unless an artist breaks through the mainstream membrane and can longer be ignored, we become suffocated by a few when there are so many who deserve recognition.

Fortunately, we can use the Internet to listen to an Italian band play Reggae, or a French DJ put new sample flavor into classic hits, or watch a video of an unknown R & B songstress or balladeer whose silky vocals put one at ease. Sites like Taliferro Music save a music lover’s soul from the bruises of bumping into mainstream blahs.

Bradford Nims

Street Fare

I think most people have a love-hate relationship with street festivals. They are fun, enjoyable and are a welcomed break from the repetition of life. However, they are also expensive, crowded, and cause traffic jams in normally sane parts of town. I tend to avoid street festivals because the activation energy to overcome the latter tends to outweigh the benefits of the former. It’s not to say that I don’t enjoy them – if I run across one by happenstance, I will generally spend some quality time at it and take pleasure in their surprises. So when I ran into three street festivals in three different cities in the same weekend, I knew that it would be hopeless to resist the urge to buy a deep-fried Twinkie.

The weekend started inauspiciously. I needed to go to work on a Saturday and I found that the road to the office was blocked off. The Armed Services Day parade wound through downtown and a large swath was transformed into a pedestrian-only haven. By the time I found parking, I had to walk over a mile to the office in the rain. And uphill. Both ways. (Which was technically true! The office is near the top of one hill and I parked on top of a different one.) When I got to the office, I realized that not only did I have a bird’s eye view overlooking the parade, but I also had undampened acoustics from the nearly twenty creatively off-key high school marching bands below. Drowning out the cacophony with Tristan und Isolda was largely unsuccessful, but John Cage would have been proud of the attempt.

Festivals, in general, are full of amusing juxtapositions. The St. Giles fair in Oxford was by far on one extreme, with a Ferris Wheel next to 16th century architecture, cotton candy sold next to a martyr’s monument and a ring toss next to a medieval graveyard. Sweden takes full advantage of a short summer season by cramming many festivals into their long summer days. Their Restaurant Festival featured the top cuisines from Sweden, Russia, China and the Middle East. The International Festival was catered by Russian, Chinese, Middle Eastern and Swedish restaurants. The Midsummer’s Party had booths from China, the Middle East, Sweden, and Russia while the American Festival had…well, you get the idea. Vikingfest in Poulsbo had a Lukefisk eating contest. What’s Vikingfest, where’s Poulsbo and what is Lukefisk, you may ask? All I will say is, “You’re not missing much.”

But I digress. The deep-fried Twinkie was quite good. It was of a limited-vintage strawberry-crème filling variety that has seasonal availability. It was gently battered and expertly fried, such that there was a crispy outside that complemented the moist cake and crème on the inside. A dusting of powdered sugar, a generous dollop of whipped cream and a drizzle of caramel enhanced the natural flavor of the Twinkie without over powering it. But as good as the deep-fried Twinkie was, it was completely left in the dust by the gooey goodness of the deep-fried peanut butter and jelly sandwich. That was simply heavenly.

S. J. Russell

Crowdsourced Funding: The Gift and the Curse

For those who are yet unfamiliar, crowdsourced funding is a growing trend that has revolutionized the way in which would-be entrepreneurs fund and kickstart new ideas and businesses. Of course, as with everything else, there is a large margin for conning and dishonesty when dealing with these sites. So before you donate…or start your own campaign, consider the following:

The Gift…

This should be fairly obvious. Rather than plunging deep into debt or pestering family and friends, people are now able to launch an online campaign and reach out to billions of people who may help donate to their cause. Furthermore, many of the causes go viral and end up accruing much more funds than originally intended. Which is certainly not a bad problem to have. On the flip side, though…

The Curse…

This may be equally obvious depending on your level of trust for humanity…but I’d be remiss if I didn’t point these things out. First of all, it suddenly seems like everyone has a business or idea they’re trying to get off of the ground. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, however, one has to wonder how many of these are legitimate and how many are not. What’s more, even if someone has a legitimate business idea or issue, there is no way to guarantee that the money goes towards said investment. Therefore, donating is an act of faith as much as it is an act of charity. Also, the website takes a small percentage of the proceeds, so some of your money won’t go where it’s intended from the very beginning. Last, there are reportedly some who have turned this into a full-time job by consistently proposing new start-ups and other initiatives, only to cash out and create another campaign when it’s over.

The Bottom Dollar…

Overall, crowdsourced funding is a necessary medium in this age. However, the system is abused by many and may result in fewer opportunities for those who are actually well-intentioned. Think of it this way, if you donate your hard-earned money to a few bad eggs, and never see any ideas come to fruition, you’ll be far less likely to jump out on that limb if someone approaches you with a similar notion in the future. Also, you may discourage others from donating as well, based on your own experiences. Give, only if you believe in the cause and trust that your money will be put to good use. Campaign, only if you truly intend to use the money for the cause that you initially stated. Crowdsourced funding: use it, don’t abuse it!

Venus L

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