Y?

Alas! My fears of the inevitable demise of maleness allayed. The Y chromosone is not fading away.

A recent study determined the Y chromosone, that bastion of evolution that rendomly determines maleness in the genetic reproductive process, has stablized. Twenty-nine million years ago.

Human knowledge. Design vs Chance. Love. Sex. We’ve got a novel here.

As much as I believe there is no evidence of a giant clock-maker lording over us, even as science explains the workings of the clock in ever-increasing detail, I do not think sceintific method will ever be the vehicle to close the clock-maker down.

X and Y chromosones swap genes before producing sperm and egg in a fantastic example of natural selection. This swapping insures variation and diversity within species, a necessary ingredient for health and survival. So far, so good. In any process involving chance, ‘mistakes’ will occur, mutations leading to dead-ends and hopefully more successful versions. At times when X and Y dropped off chunks of DNA to swap, portions would flip the wrong way when patching back in, such that the X, in this instance, could no longer attach to these portions. Over time, these unusable chunks formed a kind of protective fence around the male-determining genes.

When genes don’t get used, aren’t subject to the process of variation, they are eventually jettisoned. Thus the Y shrank from roughly equivalent in size (1000 or so genes) to the X to… 19, plus another 8 ‘maleness’ genes that leapt on board; 27 total, while X stablized at 790 or so.

Is Y shrinking to irrelevance? Here’s where science and the state of human knowledge apply. The study says Y stabilized 29 million years ago.

My male compatriots and I may be simpler, but we’re not going away. (Sounds familiar, but that’s a political discussion.)

Swapping genes could be the origin of Sex and Love. Natural attraction. The now well documented mechanics of docks and ports, if you will, allowing one gene, enzyme, virus, etc., to attach to another an analogy to male and femal sex organs. Little titillations repeated microscopically millions of times within us all, manifesting chemical and emotional behaviors, cultural responses, taboos, dating rituals, laws, prejudices, silliness; like being transfixed by smooth bronze skin as an accidental effect of skin protection.

Love. X and Y need each other (the possibility of x evolving some other mechanism for aquiring/applying maleness seems plausible, the reverse not so much.) It’s all an accident, chance, natural selection, another nail in the edifice of evolution.

Unless…. I just can’t get completely beyond, when I think about X and Y dropping selected chunks of DNA in cooperation with each other, patching back together, stabilizing (how long’s that gonna last. We’re going away or becoming something else at some point,) my mind thinks as if it’s not random (Kant.) All these mechanics could have evolved per chance, and science insists this is a better explanation than the clock-maker. Science’s method and success of the method insist on it, and I agree that’s the best way to function, recognizing Science’s built-in caveat of incompleteness. But my mind keeps thinking X and Y are behaving for a purpose- to reproduce and survive; the work ethic of nature.

Y do you do what you do?

As aside; there’s something about the inherent contradiction of genes making themselves un-usable for their designed purpose (ah, look at the language,) yet serving a positive function (dropping off, patching incorrectly, forming a fence to protect Y,) and then being jettisoned because they are not being swapped anymore, that mirrors the inherent contradictions that each of us humans are. (Humans are the alien beings. We constantly strive to circumvent living in nature, driven to live artificial lives.)

Love, sex, conflict, natural selection, and the clock-maker, evolving for survival.

Y?

Advertisements

Assassination

I understand the emotions evoked upon hearing that Osama Bin Laden has been killed. I understand the logical argument for justice. What is lost is any rational discussion of the fact that a government, a government that portrays itself as a moral beacon for humanity, sactions state-sponsored assassination. Anyway you frame it, the USA approves of assassination as a means to attaining state purposes: Bin Laden, Hussein, Al Qaeda leaders, taliban leaders, Gadaffi, etc. Assassination used to be illegal. It was a moral stance that meant ‘we know that real power lies in the moral worth of a people and have faith that moral power will bring justice to our lives.’
I am not advocating that force is never justified. But the policy of pre-emptive war is never justified- the war in Iraq was wrong and the war in Afghanistan, in its current form, is wrong.
Look at the Arab Spring. No amount of US armed intervention could accomplish what people power partnered with social media is accomplishing. Libya is at least a better model that Iraq.
The problems of apprehending Bin Laden, then figuring out how to try him safely, to bring real justice to our lives, are immense. I do not want to diminish these problems- most of which, we need to recognize, are problems of logistics, and not moral problems. We must not shirk the mirror here, if we believe in our own principles, that democracy is inherently superior to non-democratic forms of governemnt, means that we accept the that there are a lot of inconvenient consequences involved with living up to our principles: We choose to err on the side of presumed innocent until proven guilty so we won’t punish someone unfairly; we choose to give criminals another chance, knowing that most of them are extremely difficult to rehabilitate, because our humanity insists we try, insists we rehabilitate those that have the moral fortitude to take advantage of another chance; we choose to believe that human shortcomings can be overcome, that often unjust deeds are mistakes; we choose to not let our enemies drag us down to their simplistic level of what it means to be a human being, what it means to live in a civil society, messy as it might be.
This last point is what we really loose when our youth take to the street in celebration of a human death, because their intire life of political consciousness has spanned a time of war, a time of demnizing others, a time when our government is portrayed as the problem, instead of a vehicle for justice, a time when everyone’s memory is so short they forget that without our benevolent government we lynched human beings for the color of their skin, looked the other way when people were dispossessed and killed because of their religion, allowed robber barons to use workers like tools to be replaced when broken.
I am no longer living in the American that I grew up in, the America that progressed socially and politically, through the codification of human rights, the sanctioning of freedom, of behavior that didn’t conform to societal norms, that took the side of the underdog when it was just to do so, an American that recognized that the majority can easily become a tyranny.
In current discussions of our populations health, our environment’s health, our working conditions, I no longer hear the question: What is the right thing to do? All I hear is: Freedom must trump human rights, because the rich has a right to become richer the less fortunate must sacrifice their right to health care, to a home, to a decent living.
When one human life is de-valued, we are all lesser for it. There is a true sense in which today, Osama Bin Laden won.