Archive for March 7th, 2012

March 7, 2012

Fisherian Runaway

genetical theory of natural selection

Fisherian runaway is a model of sexual selection, first proposed by R.A. Fisher in 1915, and expanded upon in his 1930 book ‘The Genetical Theory of Natural Selection,’ that suggests an explanation for sexual selection of traits that do not obviously increase fitness of survival, based upon a positive feedback ‘runaway’ mechanism. Fisher’s explanation is that selection of such traits is a result of sexual preference; that members of the opposite sex find a trait desirable. This preference makes the trait advantageous, which in a circular fashion makes having a preference for the trait advantageous.

The process is termed ‘runaway’ because over time, it would facilitate the development of greater preference and more pronounced traits, until the costs of producing the trait balance the reproductive benefit of possessing it. By way of example, the peacock’s tail requires a great deal of energy to grow and maintain, it reduces the bird’s agility, and it may increase the animal’s visibility to predators. Yet it has evolved, indicating that birds with longer tails have some advantage.

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March 7, 2012

Court Jester Hypothesis

the fool by dmorte

The court jester hypothesis is a term coined by UC, Berkeley professor Anthony D. Barnosky in 1999, that describes the antithesis of the ‘Red Queen Hypothesis’ in evolutionary theory (the evolutionary ‘arms race’). It refers to the idea that abiotic forces including climate, rather than biotic competition between species, is a major driving force behind the processes in evolution that produce speciation.

Despite the fact that the court jester metaphor is coined in reference to the Red Queen hypothesis, the Jester reference, metaphorically, is not a direct reference to ‘Through The Looking Glass.’ Instead referencing Tarot, where the Jester or Fool is the symbol of death triumphing over all.

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March 7, 2012

Red Queen’s Hypothesis

red queen

The Red Queen is the name of an evolutionary theory of Leigh Van Valen and, later, a book by Matt Ridley. The term is taken from the Red Queen’s race in Lewis Carroll’s ‘Through the Looking-Glass.’ The Red Queen said, ‘It takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place.’ The Red Queen principle can be stated as follows: ‘For an evolutionary system, continuing development is needed just to maintain its fitness relative to the systems it is co-evolving with.’

The hypothesis is used to explain two different phenomena: the advantage of sexual reproduction at the level of individuals, and the constant evolutionary arms race between competing species. Ridley’s book takes Van Valen’s idea, which is about co-evolution, and extends it into a discussion about sexual selection in humans. It argues that few aspects of human nature can be understood apart from sex, since human nature is a product of evolution, and evolution in our case is driven by sexual selection. Its counterpart is the Court Jester Hypothesis, which proposes that evolution is driven mostly by abiotic environmental events and forces like climate.

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March 7, 2012

Evolutionary Arms Race

red queen by Pauline Semon


An evolutionary arms race is a struggle between competing sets of co-evolving genes that develop adaptations and counter-adaptations against each other, resembling an arms race, which are also examples of positive feedback (the effects of a small disturbance on a system include an increase in the magnitude of the disturbance). The co-evolving gene sets may be in different species, as in an evolutionary arms race between a predator species and its prey, or a parasite and its host.

Alternatively, the arms race may be between members of the same species, as in the manipulation/sales resistance model of communication or as in runaway evolution or Red Queen effects. One example of an evolutionary arms race is in sexual conflict between the sexes. Thierry Lodé emphasized the role of such antagonist interactions in evolution leading to character displacements and antagonist coevolution. The Escalation hypothesis put forward by Geerat Vermeij speaks of more general conflicts and was originally based on his work with marine gastropod fossils.

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March 7, 2012

Concealed Ovulation

Concealed ovulation or hidden estrus is the lack of distinctive signaling that the adult female of a species is ‘in heat’ and near ovulation. These signals may include swelling and redness of the genitalia in baboons and bonobos, pheromone release in the feline family, etc. By comparison, the females of humans and a few other species have few external signs of fecundity, making it difficult to tell, by means of external signs only, whether or not a female is near ovulation.

Several hypotheses regarding human evolution integrate the idea that human females increasingly required supplemental paternal investment in their offspring. This suggests human females concealed ovulation to obtain male aid in rearing offspring. If human females no longer signaled the time of ovulation, males would be unable to detect the exact period in which they were fecund. This led to a change in their mating strategy; rather than seeking multiple female partners and mating with them hoping they were fecund during that period, males instead chose to mate with a particular female multiple times throughout her menstrual cycle. A mating would be successful in resulting in conception when it occurred during ovulation, and thus, frequent matings, necessitated by the effects of concealed ovulation, would be most successful.

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March 7, 2012

Joseph Kony


Joseph Kony (b.1964) is a Ugandan guerrilla group leader, head of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a group engaged in a violent campaign to establish theocratic government based on the Ten Commandments throughout Uganda. The LRA say that spirits have been sent to communicate this mission directly to Kony. Directed by Kony, the LRA have also spread to parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan. It has abducted and forced an estimated 66,000 children to fight for them, and has also forced the internal displacement of over 2,000,000 people since its rebellion began in 1986.

Kony received a surge of attention in early March 2012 with the release of ‘Kony 2012,’ a thirty minute documentary, was made by filmaker Jason Russell for the campaign group Invisible Children Inc.

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March 7, 2012

Selvage Denim

Selvage denim [sel-vij] is a type of denim which forms a clean natural edge that does not unravel. It is commonly presented in the unwashed or raw state. Typically, the selvage edges will be located along the out-seam of the trousers, making it visible when cuffs are worn. The word ‘selvage’ comes from the phrase ‘self-edge,’ the natural edge of a roll of fabric. As applied to denim, it means that which is made on old-style shuttle looms.These looms weave fabric with one continuous cross thread (the weft) that is passed back and forth all the way down the length of the bolt. As the weft loops back into the edge of the denim it creates this ‘self-edge’ or selvage.

Selvage is desirable because the edge cannot fray like denim made on a projectile loom that has separate wefts, which leave an open edge that must be stitched. This advantage is only realized on one edge of the fabric, however, as the fabric has to be cut to shape and anywhere it is cut the self-edge is lost. Shuttle looms weave a narrower piece of fabric, and thus a longer piece of fabric is required to make a pair of jeans (approximately 3 yards). To maximize yield, traditional jean makers use the fabric all the way to the selvedge edge. When the cuff is turned up, the two selvedge edges (where the denim is sewn together) can be seen.

March 7, 2012

Milton Glaser

i heart ny


Milton Glaser (b.1929 is an American graphic designer, best known for the ‘I Love New York logo,’ his ‘Bob Dylan’ poster, the ‘DC bullet’ logo used by DC Comics from 1977 to 2005, and the ‘Brooklyn Brewery’ logo. He also founded ‘New York Magazine’ with Clay Felker in 1968. Glaser was born into a Hungarian Jewish family in New York. He was educated at Manhattan’s High School of Music & Art (now Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts), graduated from the Cooper Union in 1951 and later, via a Fulbright Scholarship, the Academy of Fine Arts in Bologna under Giorgio Morandi. He was greatly inspired by his sister’s partner, who had studied typography in great depth.

In 1954 Glaser was a founder, and president, of Push Pin Studios formed with several of his Cooper Union classmates. Glaser’s work is characterized by directness, simplicity and originality. He uses any medium or style to solve the problem at hand. His style ranges wildly from primitive to avant garde in his countless book jackets, album covers, advertisements and direct mail pieces and magazine illustrations. Milton Glaser, Inc. was established in 1974 in Manhattan, and is still producing work in a wide range of design disciplines, including: corporate identities, environmental and interior design, packaging, and product design.