Every year my dad taught summer school. He was an English teacher at a local high school, and I don't know how he did it. I was a science teacher, and when summer rolled around, I collapsed for the first three weeks! He would arrive home about one in the afternoon, and we would be chomping at the bit for his return. We waited with swimsuits on for the daily foray to the shore. On the short trip there, my sisters and I would call out the landmarks as we drew near.
Body ornamentation and modification is older than humankind. We were not the first to use it. So far, Neanderthals are the first that we know of. They used shell beads and feathers for self-decoration. When this may have started is controversial, but Neanderthals were around for at least 400,000 years. These discoveries carry very strong implications. One must have the consciousness of self. There is no need to enhance oneself unless you are self-conscious. Having an inward view is one of those prerequisites for being human, but Neanderthal had it. Early body enhancement was most likely used to differentiate among people. The more extensive reserved for the head of the group, certain marks to delineate a pair-bonded female, a little something for the healer and so on. Once body decoration began, it never stopped. You would be hard put to find a person today who does not wear make-up, has pierced ears, wears an attractive watch, has facial hair, or some form of decoration.
So much has been written about speech and language, someone could open a library with no other topic. Some will argue that speech is different from language, but here they will be treated as one and the same. So much has been written about the FOXP2 gene lately, but language concerns more than just one gene. Since we now have the Neanderthal genome to work with, we know they also had FOXP2. Molecular techniques show the gene is older than Neanderthal, going back to at least 400,000 years ago. Did Neanderthal have language? The proof is presumptive. They lived in groups, hunted in teams, probably buried their dead, and new research shows they also made cave paintings. It seems unreasonable they did these things in relative silence. Both Stephen Jay Gould, the evolutionary biologist, and Noam Chomsky, the language guru, believed language was a side effect of a bigger brain. They believe language was not selected for, in the traditional Darwinian way, but occurred because of its association with a non-language gene. It happens that the FOXP2 is not only related to speech, but also digestion. If that is the gene that allowed for speech, then speech may be a side effect of its digestive function. Another gene related to language is CNTNAP2. Disruption in this gene is associated with both Autism and specific language impairment. Neanderthal did not have this gene, which produces a neurexin-family neural growth factor. They have to do with carrying impulses in the brain across the synapse between neurons. Language may also have been a side effect of either brain development or reorganization. The ability to gather ancient DNA may, in the future, supply answers to these questions.
We are the only female primates that do not undergo estrus—a time when the anogenital areas turn red and swell signaling receptivity for sex. The obvious bright swellings also indicate the female is fertile. This is also referred to as sexual heat. Science is a male-dominated occupation, full of bias in assessing the role of women in evolution. Nowhere is this seen so acutely as it is in considering why human females do not undergo estrus. Many of my male counterparts see the loss of sexual heat as simply the evolution of continual receptivity that benefitted the males of our species., and others believe sexual heat still exists in more subtle ways. Some of the current thinking on the end of estrus can be summed up as follows:
There are many things Artificial Intelligence (AI) could do in medicine better than doctors. The biggest drawback is getting enough raw data to enable AI to determine a diagnosis. Medical records are not readily available to researchers. Massive amounts of medical data are required, but in most countries, access to medical records is severely restricted by privacy laws. Dexter Hadley, a physician and computational biologist in California has come up with a solution. He's developed a plan that could implement enough medical data for screening algorithms that do not violate privacy laws. The information would not only be secure, but people who opt to share their medical information would still be in control of it. Their method relies on blockchain technology. The very same tech that underlies bitcoin cryptocurrency. The project is set for May 2018 and will use 3- 5 million mammograms that will be used to train their AI algorithm in detecting breast cancer.
As of 2017, women make-up just over 50 percent of the population, and yet we still haven't reached equality in either pay rate or job status. Women earn 60 percent of all four-year college degrees and 60 percent of all Master's degrees. Law degrees? We earn 47 percent of MBA's and 48 percent of all medical degrees. and 47 percent of other specialized Master's. We comprise 47 percent of the general workforce and 49 percent of the college-educated workforce, yet we are poorly represented in the upper echelons of nearly every possible field. The massive progress of the last few decades of the 20th century has all but come to a standstill. As of 2011, we hold only nine percent of top management positions in S & P 1500 companies. As of 2016, women hold just 18 percent of S&P 1500 board seats.They are just 25 percent of executive and senior officials and managers, 9.5 percent of top earners, and 6 percent of CEOs in S&P 500 companies. Women don't fare better in law or medicine. Although females make up 45 percent of lawyers, we only make-up 22 percent of law firm partners. In medicine, we represent 37 percent of all physicians and surgeons, but only 16 percent of medical school deans. In television and film, the results are equally dismal. Women accounted for just 17 percent of all the directors, executive producers, producers, writers, cinematographers, and editors who worked on the top-grossing 250 domestic films of 2016. Many films are designed to get female viewers and yet they have only a small hand in creating them. Women were just 26 percent of all off-screen talent on broadcast networks, cable, and streaming programs during the 2015-16 season. Women of color were only 3.9 percent of the executive or senior-level officials and managers and 0.4 percent of CEOs in the companies that produce our entertainment. In 2017, after the departure of Ursula Burns as CEO of Xerox Corp., there were no African American women heading Fortune 500 companies. As recently as 2013, more than two-thirds of Fortune 500 companies had no women of color as board directors at all. So what can be done to eliminate the ceiling?