Monthly Archives: May 2008

Facial Hair

The word of the day today at AWAD is “sideburns”. In her intro, Anu mentions that “for some, beards are a serious business. There’s even a biannual championship event for the bearded.”

As a woman, it is baffling to me that men don’t see their facial hair only as an annoyance that must be dealt with. Most people consider facial hair on women unsightly, so why is it acceptable, even celebrated, on men? Some men will go so far as being willing to lose their job rather than shave. Yet some men prefer removing it altogether. I suppose going beardless also makes a statement.

And then, how much is too much? Is the type of beard — or the type of face– important? What does it say about a man if his beard is unkempt, or über-styled? Are you a different personality if you wear a full beard or a thin line of hair around the jaw? A chinstrap or a goatee? Does your beard style selection (or absence thereof) reflect who you are? With or without a moustache?

Heavy questions indeed.

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Vee haf vays to make you… sing

I’ve been doing research on parasites for a new story I’m planning and some of it is pretty gruesome. In some cases, parasites change their host’s behaviour, either by affecting its hormones or its brain, to make them more attractive to their natural predator, in which they will burrow as well. Sometimes that predator is their final destination, sometimes they will also affect that prey’s behaviour to lead them to the final host, by affecting that prey’s behaviour.

In a study on European starlings, researchers found that pollutants caused the birds to change their songs. World Science reports that the scientists found the birds developed more complex songs that were very appealing to females. Birdsong is one way for females to decide which of the males are prime and worth reproducing with. Problem is, it turns out those charming birds had a weakened immune system.

Although the article does not mention the consequences of this, it stands to reason that a weaker bird would also produce weaker babies, or babies genetically changed.

What is interesting in this story is that pollutants are acting in a similar way as parasites, weakening the host to make it more attractive, but that it serves no purpose. Pollutants do not have a lifecycle, they are not using a host to jump from one species to the other in order to grow and develop. Pollutants, in insidious but somehow dramatic ways (such as raising suicide and child abuse levels), change behaviours and the body’s chemical composition for the worst.

Another strong argument for the green movement.

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