A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘human beings

[FORUM] What do you think of Michael Hobbes’ article “Together Alone”?

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This weekend, I’ve been thinking a lot about Michael Hobbes‘ very recent Huffington Post article “Together Alone: The Epidemic of Gay Loneliness”. I know I’m not alone in this, having seen this article shared by several other friends and in at least one other discussion group.

Hobbes’ question is simple: Why, despite significant legal progress in the past decades, are the lives of young gay men (probably generalizable to young queer men) still marked by so many signs of trauma?

[T]he rates of depression, loneliness and substance abuse in the gay community remain stuck in the same place they’ve been for decades. Gay people are now, depending on the study, between 2 and 10 times more likely than straight people to take their own lives. We’re twice as likely to have a major depressive episode. And just like the last epidemic we lived through, the trauma appears to be concentrated among men. In a survey of gay men who recently arrived in New York City, three-quarters suffered from anxiety or depression, abused drugs or alcohol or were having risky sex—or some combination of the three. Despite all the talk of our “chosen families,” gay men have fewer close friends than straight people or gay women. In a survey of care-providers at HIV clinics, one respondent told researchers: “It’s not a question of them not knowing how to save their lives. It’s a question of them knowing if their lives are worth saving.”

I’m not going to pretend to be objective about any of this. I’m a perpetually single gay guy who was raised in a bright blue city by PFLAG parents. I’ve never known anyone who died of AIDS, I’ve never experienced direct discrimination and I came out of the closet into a world where marriage, a picket fence and a golden retriever were not just feasible, but expected. I’ve also been in and out of therapy more times than I’ve downloaded and deleted Grindr.

“Marriage equality and the changes in legal status were an improvement for some gay men,” says Christopher Stults, a researcher at New York University who studies the differences in mental health between gay and straight men. “But for a lot of other people, it was a letdown. Like, we have this legal status, and yet there’s still something unfulfilled.”

This feeling of emptiness, it turns out, is not just an American phenomenon. In the Netherlands, where gay marriage has been legal since 2001, gay men remain three times more likely to suffer from a mood disorder than straight men, and 10 times more likely to engage in “suicidal self-harm.” In Sweden, which has had civil unions since 1995 and full marriage since 2009, men married to men have triple the suicide rate of men married to women.

All of these unbearable statistics lead to the same conclusion: It is still dangerously alienating to go through life as a man attracted to other men. The good news, though, is that epidemiologists and social scientists are closer than ever to understanding all the reasons why.

Hobbes’ answer, that young people are traumatized firstly by the stresses of growing up in the closet in often very difficult circumstances then by entering a gay community that insensitively allows the imposition of new restrictions and rules, all without much recognition of these psychological shocks never mind treatment of said, is one that convinces me. I have say that I think I recognize some of the symptoms in my own life, certainly in the sort of cultivation of emotional distance from any potential stressors Hobbes describes towards the end.

What do you think? Have you read this article? What are your opinions on the issues it describes?

Written by Randy McDonald

March 5, 2017 at 11:56 pm

[LINK] “Skulls found in China were part modern human, part Neanderthal — and could be a new species”

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The National Post carries Ben Guarino’s Washington Post article reporting on the exciting finds of mysterious hominid skulls in China. Could these actually be, as some speculate, remnants of the Denisovans, or of another still more obscure human population?

Modern humans outlasted the Neanderthals by about 40,000 years and counting. But don’t pat yourself on the back too firmly for outliving those troglodytes. Neanderthals crafted tools and tamed fire. They cared for their dead. Animal horns and blackened fire pits encircling the remains of a Neanderthal toddler suggest a 42,000-year-old funeral rite. If a Neanderthal indeed wore a talon necklace, as a collection of polished eagle claws indicate, they beat us to jewelry, too. Perhaps one of your ancient ancestors found the claw necklaces sexy: Some scientists theorize humans gave Neanderthals genital herpes and tapeworm parasites.

Their proportions, however, remained distinctly Neanderthal. Neanderthal bodies were shorter and stockier, more Gimli son of Gloin than Gigi Hadid. Their skulls were built differently, too, with a few features – like heavy brow ridges – particularly unlike ours.

Which makes a pair of newly-described skulls something of a wonder. The partial skulls have features up to this time unseen in the hominid fossil record, sharing both human and Neanderthal characteristics.

“It is a very exciting discovery,” as Katerina Harvati, an expert in Neanderthal evolution at the University of Tübingen in Germany who was not involved with the research, told The Washington Post. “Especially because the human fossil record from East Asia has been not only fragmentary but also difficult to date.”

Excavators dug up the skull cap fragments in 2007 and 2014, in Lingjing, located within China’s Henan province. The diggers discovered two partial skulls in a site thought to be inhabited 105,000 to 125,000 years ago, during an epoch called the Pleistocene. The owners of the skulls were good hunters, capable of fashioning stone blades from quartz. Ancient bones of horses and cattle, as well as extinct woolly rhinoceros and giant deer, were found strewn nearby the skull remains.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 5, 2017 at 9:15 pm

[BLOG] Some Sunday links

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  • Anthropology.net reports on the recent discovery in China of two skulls a hundred thousand years old, possible remnants of a hitherto-unknown hominid species.
  • blogTO reports on the boom in the Toronto tech community.
  • Language Log breaks down the linguistics, specifically word lengths, of audiobooks.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money reports on the difficult position of indigenous peoples in Nicaragua.
  • Marginal Revolution reports on the potential health benefits of substances in the blood of the Komodo dragon.
  • The NYRB Daily reports on the modernist photography of Berenice Abbott.
  • The Planetary Society Blog reports on the adventures of the Mars rovers.
  • Supernova Condensate takes a quick look at Jupiter’s moon, Io.
  • Window on Eurasia looks at a new Russian film that transposes the superhero genre with the Soviet era, and argues that Russia is acting these days not as a constructive power but as a spoiler.

[BLOG] Some Friday links

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  • Dangerous Minds suggests that T-shirts with wildly offensive phrases in English are common in Asia. Asian friends and readers, is this actually true?
  • The LRB Blog makes the point that immigration restrictionism is hardly a policy that will aid hard-pressed workers, that only broader reform will do this.
  • Marginal Revolution looks at how the state bureaucracy in India can hinder the implementation of reforms.
  • The NYRB Daily reviews a grim play, Wallace Shawn’s Evening at the Talk House, set in a near future where cruelty is normalized.
  • The Planetary Society Blog talks about the intricate maneuvers of the Dawn probe in Ceres orbit.
  • Personal Reflections’ Jim Belshaw links to photos of a stunning home in Catalonia built in a slightly refurbished industrial plant.
  • Peter Rukavina talks about how he built an app for Charlottetown’s City Cinema.
  • Seriously Science reports on a study suggesting that most people would not wish to know the future, even if it was a good future.
  • Strange Maps links to an online map tool comparing different countries.
  • Supernova Condensate shares a fantastic chart showing how much delta-v one would need to expend to reach different points in the solar system from Earth orbit.
  • Transit Toronto notes that the Sheppard subway line will be closed this weekend.
  • Linguist Arnold Zwicky links to and reflects on a recent article looking at how gendered language for different jobs can discourage, differently, male and female job-seekers.

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

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  • Antipope’s Charlie Stross wonders if the politics of Trump might mean an end to the British nuclear deterrent.
  • Centauri Dreams shares Andrew LePage’s evaluation of the TRAPPIST-1 system, where he concludes that there are in fact three plausible candidates for habitable status there.
  • Dangerous Minds shares the gender-bending photographs of Norwegian photographers Marie Høeg and Bolette Berg.
  • The Everyday Sociology Blog takes a look at the 1980s HIV/AIDS epidemic in the United States.
  • The Extremo Files looks at the human microbiome.
  • Language Hat links to an article on Dakhani, a south Indian Urdu dialect.
  • The LRB Blog looks at policing in London.
  • The Map Room Blog notes that 90% of the hundred thousand lakes of Manitoba are officially unnamed.
  • Marginal Revolution looks at the remarkable Akshardham Temple of New Delhi.
  • The Planetary Society Blog notes how citizen scientists detected changes in Rosetta’s comet.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer provides a visual guide for New Yorkers at the size of the proposed border wall.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog links to a paper taking a look at the history of abortion in 20th century France.
  • Torontoist looks at the 1840s influx of Irish refugees to Toronto.
  • Understanding Society takes a look at the research that went into the discovery of the nucleus of the atom.
  • Window on Eurasia reports on Belarus.
  • Arnold Zwicky shares photos and commentary on the stars and plot of Oscar-winning film Midnight.

[BLOG] Some Friday links

  • blogTO looks at deserted Mirvish Village.
  • Crooked Timber reenages with the Rachel Carson and DDT myth.
  • The Crux looks at the Mandela Effect, exploring false memories.
  • Dangerous Minds makes the case for the musical genius of Bobbie Gentry.
  • From the Heart of Europe’s Nicholas Whyte recounts his visit to Albania’s bunker museum.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes Brazil’s retirement of its only aircraft carrier.
  • The LRB Blog looks at the extent and speed of events in the Trump Administration.
  • Marginal Revolution engages with a book examining France’s carving out a “cultural exception” in international trade agreements.
  • Personal Reflections’ Jim Belshaw reports on the passing of rulership of the Australian micronation of Hutt River.
  • Peter Rukavina shares good advice for visiting museums: visit only what you can take in.
  • Window on Eurasia looks at Russian Orthodox Church opposition to a certain kind of Russian civic nationality, and argues Russia is losing even its regional superpower status.
  • Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell reports on how local councils in the United Kingdom are speculating on commercial property.

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

  • The Crux makes the case that, for too long, modern homo sapiens have underestimated the genius of the Neanderthals.
  • D-Brief looks at the efforts of some scientists to develop brewing standards for the Moon.
  • Language Hat examines different languages’ writing standards–Turkish, Greek, Armenian–in the late Ottoman Empire.
  • Language Log deconstructs claims that Japanese has no language for curses.
  • Marginal Revolution’s Tyler Cowen looks at the standards of truth by which Trump’s supporters are judging him.
  • The NYRB Daily looks at the hollow Styrofoam aesthetics of the Trump Administration.
  • Savage Minds considers the idea of personhood.
  • Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell considers key mechanics of populism.
  • Arnold Zwicky meditates, somewhat pornographically, on a porn star of the last decade and public sexuality.