July 20th, 2006

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Men are doomed?/Men aren't doomed?

I fell over something on page 15 of the Daedalus Books mail order catalogue yesterday that startled me: ad copy for a book by Bryan Sykes titled Adam's Curse: A Future Without Men, that went like this:

"The lowly Y chromosome, according to the geneticist author of The Seven Daughters of Eve, exists in a fragile state... While other chromosomes contain as many as 1,000 different genes, the Y chromosome, unable to exchange genetic material or repair itself, now contains no more than an (sic) few hundred genes -- and the prospects for a reversal of fortunes are bleak. ... ...Sykes covers a wealth of controversial topics, including... what, if anything, can be done to save men from extinction." [Projected time for extinction, more than 100,000 years from now. At least there's a grace period.]

Mercy.

This all seemed to me so unlikely that I went straight to Google this morning, hoping to discover that Bryan Sykes is known to be a lunatic-fringe crank. It didn't turn out that way, although I was reassured by H. Allen Orr's statement in "Vive la Difference!" (New York Review of Books for May 12, 2005) that "this is all just silly."

There's a short nontechnical review of the book at http://genealogy.about.com/cs/geneticgenealogy/fr/adams_curse.htm ; the piece that says it's all just silly, which is longer and more thorough and slightly technical, is at http://www.nybooks.com/articles/17973 .
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Emotional weather; final wrap-up

In "Emotional weather; part twelve," I made, blandly, the following statement:

"It seems to me that over the course of this discussion a consensus has been reached on at least these two propositions: 1. There is some kind of pervasive presence of very negative emotion all around us here in the U.S. Whether we perceive it as an emotional weather front or as an epidemic or as some other metaphor, it's there. 2. We don't really know what to do about it, or even if anything can be done about it."

Well. Pride goeth before a fall.

This morning I got an e-mail from someone whose name I don't have permission to reveal, and for whom I have great respect, suggesting that the only reason I'm perceiving a consensus is that only people who agree with me are participating in the discussion.

This seems to me to be a cue from Providence that it's time to wrap things up.

Thanks to all of you who did participate, and who have posted such carefully-written and interesting and helpful comments.

And thanks to those who responded to my later questions in "part thirteen" with information about a variety of Internet families/communities. I'm impressed by those descriptions, and am thinking -- tentatively -- that perhaps these new groups have a better chance to survive than the communes that so many of us saw fail in the 60s.
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Personal note....

It's getting close now to time for the trip to Conestoga, and as always that means that I have so much to do in preparation for going to the con that I don't have much time to do LJ posts.

Plus, I really need to spend some serious time responding to your comments -- I've fallen way behind. Ten days or so of erratic posting coming up, therefore....