Book Review – Paleofantasy by Marlene Zuk

Introduction

In her book Paleofantasy, Marlene Zuk addresses multiple assumptions and misconceptions that people have regarding their Paleolithic ancestors. She addresses multiple aspects including sex, their ability to consume different kinds of food and how they lived as well. She essentially discusses evolution in terms of how fast it works, especially in the case of humans. The author provides information on many concepts of evolution, citing studies to explain different points. This paper provides a detailed review of the book.

Discussion

The book tackles common paleofantasies, including diet, reproduction, exercise, and love. The author uses the book as a starting point to start a different discussion regarding human evolution. some of the concepts explained in the book include gene flow, genetic drift, and natural selection. Through the entire book, Zuk critiques ideas that humans adapted well to a Paleolithic environment or that any rapid environmental changes would indicate a mismatch between our genes and the environment. She points out that there was never a time when humans complete adapted to their environment because evolution does not result in stasis (Zuk, 234). She compares a human adaptation to a broken zipper that works in some places and fails in others (Zuk, 8).

The author focuses on the last 10 thousand years, analyzing some of the latest work on human evolution. One hypothesis here is that most modern populations have greater chances of improved mutations. She critiques multiple paleo-lifestyle arguments, concluding by addressing claims of possible slowing human evolution. I agree and disagree with different parts of the book. The author is right in her analysis that the majority of young people with long-agricultural ancestry have a good adoption to extensive consumption of foods like rice and wheat (Rose, and Rutledge, 15). This could be due to the fact that natural selection is most powerful during the younger years, giving the individual sufficient time to adapt to certain kinds of foods. The author, however, fails to point out that the effects of natural forces of selection fade out during adult age. A long sustained selection probably builds an extensive adaption to nutrition and activity deep in the life history of the individual. Primates are most likely to have this kind of adaptation to a new source of food.

The author mentions that humans did not adapt fast enough to cope with modern life, which to some extent is true because our bodies are often ill-suited for modern activities like sitting at a computer all day (Zuk, 125). Although humans have to constantly face new environments, they have to do so shackled by genes from their ancestors. I agree that we live in an unquestionably different environment as compared to ancient humans. Aspects of disease, population size, density, lifespan, and many others show significant differences in how the two groups lived their lives (Zuk, 125). However, it would be untrue to state that we are completely not adapted to living the modern life. After all, there was never a time when humans were completely adapted to their environment.

Zuk initially shows some skepticism of the mismatch perspective because all species, including humans, adapted to their past environments and not the currents ones (Deaner, Robert, and Benjamin, 263). This aspect would indicate that no current populations or species are more mismatched in terms of adaptation than others. I think this is a false claim because different species could be mismatched at different levels. Even similar species in different geographical locations have different levels of adaptation to similar conditions.

The third chapter of the book shows the authors devotion to describing rapid adaptations highlighting her empirical critique of the mismatch perspective. Other chapters of the book explain how humans rapidly adapted to processing lactose, responding to various pathogens and living in high altitudes (Deaner, Robert, and Benjamin, 265). The chapters provide the notion that species can evolve rapidly, meaning that in case of any mismatch, they get over it after a while. It is, however, important to note that highlighting instances of rapid evolution without taking into account different cases of persistent mismatch is misleading. A good example is the case of flightless birds whose adaptations to different challenges and threats is still remarkably ineffective (Deaner, Robert, and Benjamin, 264). Humans also have various mismatched traits despite years of adaptation. A good example is the high rates of stroke and hypertension in Japan despite years of enjoying traditionally salty foods. I think the book is a reaction to the high levels of technology we live through. Many people struggle with something as simple as what to eat or how to move regularly. These struggles make the idea of returning to nature and our animalistic nature appealing.

Conclusion

The book is overall delightful, with consistent witty and engaging writing. The author uses multiple metaphors and analogies to explain different concepts of evolution and correct different misconceptions regarding evolution. Most importantly, Zuk illustrates that we still do not know enough and that we have a long way to go in fuguring out the best way to move our bodies, eat, and even be with each other.

Works Cited

Deaner, Robert O., and Benjamin M. Winegard. “Book Review: Throwing Out the Mismatch Baby with the Paleo-Bathwater.” Evolutionary Psychology, Jan. 2013, doi:10.1177/147470491301100123.

Rose, Michael, and Rutledge, Grant. Marlene Zuk’s Paleofantasy. Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology: University of California, 2013. http://sites.uci.edu/grantrutledge/files/2016/03/Review-of-paleofantasy.pdf

Zuk, Marlene. Paleofantasy: What Evolution Really Tells Us About Sex, Diet and How We Live. New York: W.W. Norton, 2013. Print.

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Politics of Justice, Difference, and Hate

Politics of Justice, Difference, and Hate

Inequalities and discrimination are practices that have consistently stirred concerns over time. Both governmental and non-governmental organizations have taken several measures to curtail inequalities and discrimination in different aspects. However, such attempts have deemed futile owing to the prevalence of such practices and the presence of dominant groups. The contemporary world incorporates inequalities in several aspects: ranging from racism, classism, heterosexism, ableism, and ethnocentrism among other factors. Such manifest in a wide array of contexts including the daily social interactions, magazines, the movies we watch and the books we read.

Sexism is one of the inequalities that occur in almost every aspect of life. It manifests in families, workplaces and residential places. Men have dominated in nearly every aspect of social spheres. The patriarchal dominance has taken deep roots in various contexts where men are perceived to be more dominant than their female counterparts have. For example, I have often seen men being granted the opportunity to be at the epicenter in decision-making processes. I once heard a man making discriminatory remarks when a fellow workmate, who is a woman, made comments about her rights to be heard. The man counter reacted to her plights that she had no moral grounds to be part of the decision-making process since men had better ideas than she could offer.

Sexism has also taken shape at different workplaces since women are perceived to belong to a particular cadre of jobs. Men have dominated well-paying jobs and positions of influence at workplaces. In my current place of work, there are less than four women employees in executive positions despite the considerable size of the company. That demonstrates that my company has primarily undermined the contribution of women in decision-making and management of resources. That further reflects in other positions since women occupy low paying jobs that are demeaning. For example, most of their jobs at my workstation include cleaning and kitchen duties.

The perpetuation of sexism advances into the familial set-ups, where a man dominates most of the decision-making processes. A woman is likely to concur with most decisions that her husband makes since she believes that the man has the sole mandate of the decision-making process. Journals, books and other scholarly materials have documented the prevalence of such patriarchal ideologies. I recently read an article that documented the African cultures. The reading portrayed women as lesser beings to men as they must be submissive. In most African cultures, men are the sole decision makers and more dominant compared to women. Women have the responsibility of fulfilling their gender roles such as taking care of children and attending to domestic chores. It is incredible how some communities in Africa subject women to taking care of the farms and fend for the family despite their physical limitations.

Additionally, contemporary societies enhance the perpetuation of sexism in several ways. In some instances, it takes place in several spectra, incorporating aspects of rape, workplace harassment, and slut shaming. However, it exists in some other subtle forms that may go unnoticed. The media takes the lead in perpetuating sexism through the perceptions they create within the society. I am among the persons that have practiced sexism through the influence of the media. For example, the media portrays some aspects as more feminine than masculine. They develop aspects associated with feminism as weak and embarrassing within a male-dominated society. The media through the society associate women with trivial things that relate to their power structure in the society. That includes stereotypical perceptions on the type of clothes women wear, the foods they consume and the places they shop from. I am a victim of such since I do not take the pumpkin spice latte since it is associated with women. The media and the society portray it as feminine since women are likely to be seen enjoying the drink.

Furthermore, I have a stereotypic perception of the type of clothes women should wear.

In most cases, I regard women who put on baggy shorts as masculine. I believe that women should be decent and wear clothes that complement their body sizes. However, that has been deemed inappropriate among my peers.

The book by Grusky & Szelenyi (2011) identifies that inequality in social class manifests in professions and the lifestyles that people live. That is propelled by a perceived perception of social superiority. The television shows such as ‘Keeping up with the Kardashians’ have shaped inequalities that exist in the society. It identifies a social class that individuals must identify within the contemporary world. The reality show defines social standards of life that are only achievable when one has money and influence. Most of the marriages in the show take place between celebrities since the Kardashian daughters have a perceived class and affluence that they have to maintain. For example, Kim is married to a rapper, Kanye West. Their daughter lives a lavish lifestyle that most people around the globe cannot maintain. Such aspects depict classism as a social issue in modern societies. The society has established cadres that define how people love and interact.

In most cases, the rich associate with people of their social class. The rich discriminate against the poor, who cannot maintain the social constructions of the standards of life that people have to maintain. Owing to my status at my current workplace, I have a preference for the type of people I associate with and the places I visit. That incorporates the places I buy my clothes and the hotels I consume my food. Such aspects deem me to be discriminative in terms of class and affluence despite my understanding of their implications and their meaning in a social set up.

Racism is another form of inequality that manifests in several aspects. Despite attempts to reduce racial discrimination in all social spheres, it has become a societal challenge that needs effective efficient and sustainable strategies of redress. Racism still prevails owing to individuals personal preferences, which bend towards favoring a specific group of people. According to Malett (2017), people tend to favor other groups of their race more than they do to people of other races. That manifests in the accrued advantages that such groups gain from being a member of the racially dominant groups. Racism affects most blacks since the whites are economically endowed more than their black counterparts are. The blacks perpetuate racism in a broader sense in regards to how they treat and regard whites. Blacks favor and address the whites in a manner that would easily suggest that they are more critical than their black counterparts. The perception that the media has created in most situations is that blacks are associated with ill characteristics such as crime. For example, racial discrimination is evident in most American schools hence the prevalence of the school-to-prison pipeline (Mallet, 2017).

I am a Palestinian who works in Israel. My work involves some aspect of socializing with the people. The working conditions in Israel have sometimes subjected me to racial discrimination since the Israeli governments have consistently discriminated against Palestinians. Racism is institutionalized owing to the existing laws that do not advocate for equality. Their ‘nation-state’ laws marginalize the Palestinians and grant rights and favors to the Israeli nationals. Such aspects have subjected me to constant discriminatory practices of racism. The laws deter non-Israelis from acquiring permanent residency in Israel. For example, Palestinians are not allowed to acquire permanent residency in some parts of Jerusalem. That made me face challenges when I had a commitment with an organization that required me to acquire permanent residency in Jerusalem. One of the officials at the immigration department referred to me a disgrace to loyalty hence could not be accorded such status owing to my place of birth.

Additionally, my family could not accompany me to Israel since the laws in place do not allow for the reunion of foreign families. The officials at the immigration department told me that we could pose a threat to the nation if they allowed Palestinians into the country without restrictions. Additionally, racial discrimination has always persisted at my places of work when the top management recognize that I am from Palestine. My workmates also enhance prejudice and racial discrimination. For instance, I am always assigned tasks that do not relate to my profession yet other people of Israeli origin are restricted to work within their specific line of profession. Promotions in such environments favor the locals more than people from other races. Israelis are likely to rise to high positions more than foreigners are.

The manifestation of the various aspects of inequality in social media, magazines, social institutions and organizations has primarily influenced my perceptions in different dimensions. I have largely engaged in several instances that promote inequality and discrimination against a particular gender, class, and race owing to the societal constructions that portray such factors as relevant and essential in some domains. I have developed a negative perception against the Israelis and would not be willing to be part of the community even if my work conditions would require me.

References

Grusky, D. B., & Szelenyi, S. (2011). The inequality reader: Contemporary and foundational readings in race, class, and gender. New Delhi: Rawat Booksellers.

Mallett, C. A. (2017). The school-to-prison pipeline: Disproportionate impact on vulnerable children and adolescents. Education and urban society49(6), 563-592.

Counter Terrorism

 

Counter Terrorism

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Counter Terrorism

As a permanent VETO member and a dominant superpower across the globe, the United States of America is no stranger in handling global issues. With the rise of Islamic radicalization and terrorist attacks across different parts of the world, more so in countries allied to the United States, the powerhouse has been a reckoning force to counter terrorism activity. Despite the massive media attention on Syria, Iraq, North Korea, Somali, Nigeria, Afghanistan, and other areas, as terrorist hotbeds, there’s much to be desired in counter terrorism efforts in Yemen. In that regard, the policy paper will highlight counter terrorism efforts in Yemen, highlighting the domestic and foreign issues in Yemen and the gains the previous U.S administration had achieved and how the current administration is handling the matter. Although the counter terrorism playbook implemented in Yemen intended to be successful, the bridge to success is slowly but steadily diminishing paving the way for a new chapter of failure.

The current humanitarian situation in Yemen that has witnessed deaths of thousands, over eight million people at risk of starvation and seventy-five percent of the population in desperate need of humanitarian assistance (BBC, 2018). However, the Gulf country is no stranger to conflict, and the majority of the country’s issues barely make headlines in western media, and it was only until the Arab spring and that issues escalated. Commentators on the Yemeni issue have attempted to portray the problems regarding religious conflicts, while others a Saudi Arabia and Iran power-struggle, however the countries complex history states otherwise. Yemen domestic political problems are a major contributor to the current problems. As a highly decentralized government with a fragile central government, the country only unified from North and South Yemen to Yemen in 1990 and already faces its third civil war.

As the most impoverished state in the Gulf, Yemen capital Sanaa, is expected to run out of essential services such as access to clean water and its such issues that prompt the countries exploitation by its neighbors. Furthermore, the sectarian premise of the Sunni-Shia issues is a crucial factor for problems coupled with longtime president, Ali Abdullah Saleh influence. Terrorism-related issues began during Saleh’s administration when the al-Qaeda became a global concern. In 2005, the Saudi’s defeated al-Qaeda and some of the operatives moved to Yemen where the government couldn’t deal with their threat. Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) was subsequently identified, and the United States decided to offer assistance to counter the terrorist threat (Rugh 2017). As a result, the U.S became the recipient of constant terrorist attacks across its embassy in Sanaa as well as other failed attempts. AQAP also claimed responsibility for the Charlie Hebdo attack in France, and al-Qaeda influence was visible.

The Saleh administration accepted the United States offers and allied their counterterrorism efforts, and drones strike intensified in the country. In 2014, the Obama administration stated that it had allocated $5 billion to the counterterrorism fund in a bid to support capacity building and resources for regional allies in the Gulf to confront terror networks. With the aim of countering Islamic extremism, and noting that it’s was and still is a Saudi-led coalition, the majority of the counterterrorism efforts by the U.S has been reduced to limited military assistance, regarding logistics, intelligence and aerial refueling (Rugh 2017). The U.S has also deployed warships situated at the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea to deter the Iranians from the war.

A narrow security approach is an epithet the security operations in Yemen has been labeled according to Bodine & Greenfield (2014). During the Obama administration, the Arab Spring saw the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham with violence reigning in Libya, and the subsequent exacerbation of violence and terrorist activity across the middle east. The AQAP became a recurrent face that caused havoc in Yemen, imitating heinous atrocities of ISIS inside Yemen territorial borders, such as public beheading. Fearsome attacks by the Houthi’s and the Zaydi Shia rebels towards Yemeni state-run institutions created the instability and security loopholes that AQAP were ready to exploit.

Notably, a report by Bodine & Greenfield (2014), from the Atlantic Council and Rafiki Hariri Center for the Middle East highlights the counterterrorism efforts the Obama administration undertook that show a failed outcome. The Yemen situation required an understanding of the interconnected nature poor governance, i.e., corruption, food insecurity, low economic levels, tribal conflicts and terrorist activity, factors which invariably lead to the forced handover by longtime president Saleh to his deputy and current president, Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi. The conflict began in 2014, when Houthi Shia rebels deemed Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, weak and took control of major areas, including the capital Sanaa, forcing Mr. Hadi into exile, prompting international efforts as the security forces in the country were overwhelmed.

As the conflict escalated dramatically in 2015, Saudi Arabia and eight other Sunni Muslim countries, backed by the United States, United Kingdom, and France led air strikes in Houthi rebel strongholds in a bid to restore president Hadi rule. The immediate Saudi-led response was intended to avoid an increased control by the Houthi rebels and the Shia Muslim majority state of Iran, which would mean giving Iran a stronghold in Yemen. Saudi Arabia subsequently accused Iran of supporting the Houthi rebels, charges the Iranians denied. The lethality of the terrorist activity in the region continued to grow, and the default counterterrorism efforts by the United States remained drone strikes and capacity building of counterterrorism units in the country (Hartig 2018).

Full control and counter-attacking the Islamic Terrorist threat requires a strong central government in Yemen. Otherwise, the international community would only spend more with limited results. Hartig (2017) articulates that Yemen must act as a Partner in its crisis and the U.S role is also limited since it closed its Embassy in Sanaa in March 2017. The current humanitarian crisis proves that the counterterrorism efforts are failing, and a political situation is needed. The visit by King Salman to Washington in September 2017, proved critical as the Obama administration persuaded him to do more to reduce the humanitarian crisis and allow international organizations to assist and action that proved positive to some extent.

In conclusion, peeling the cover of the US counterterrorism success in the Gulf region reveals a chilling cry over moral and legal concerns, especially in regards to air strikes. As the most preferred weapon, drone strikes have been reported to kill innocent civilians, since the rebels use civilians as cover while living in impoverished areas of the country causing more harm than good. With a history of political instability and sectarianism, the civil war in Yemen will require a politically viable solution that the Houthi’s and president Hadi government can agree with international assistance. Although the agreement might only last a few years, it would bring a needed peace in the area and reduce the terrorist activity in the area, although the U.S is certain to maintain its presence in the issue.

References

Bodine, K. B., & Greenfield, D. (2014). A Blueprint for a Comprehensive US Counterterrorism Strategy in Yemen. Atlantic Council. [PDF File]. Retrieved from https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/images/publications/Blueprint_for_CT_in_Yemen.pdf

BBC. (2018, June). Yemen conflict explained in 400 words. Available at https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-44466574

Hartig, L. (2018, December 7). Full Accounting Needed for US-UAE Counterterrorism Partnership in Yemen. Available at https://www.justsecurity.org/61761/full-accounting-needed-us-uae-counterterrorism-partnership-yemen/

Rugh, A. W. (2017). Problems in Yemen, Domestic and Foreign. Middle East Policy Council. https://www.mepc.org/journal/problems-yemen-domestic-and-foreign

Technology & Global Development

Introduction

The world is experiencing rapid technological developments. Among these developments is the emerging “wearable technology”. Technology is at its infant stage with full potential expected to be realized in the next few decades.  It revolves around developing smart technologies or devices with special capabilities. For instance, some of these devices are capable of monitoring the activities of a person. Others are capable of monitoring health conditions such as pulse rates and are of different types, including jewelry items, wristbands, glasses and watches. The number of devices and technologies are expected to increase in future. It is anticipated that in the next few decades, physicians will be remotely accessing and managing all patients’ health conditions and especially chronic ones. However, unlike computers, the devices have limited processing power and bandwidth. This limits the security features which can be incorporated in them, exposing them to security risks. This has made potential users reluctant to embrace them. Therefore, the design of wearable technology poses numerous security challenges/loopholes and this has reduced their adoption rate.

References

Ching, K & Singh, M. (2016).Wearable technology devices security and privcay vulnerability Analysis. International Journal of Network Security & Its Applications (IJNSA) 8(3), 20-30.

 

Technology & Global Development

Technology & Global Development

A vision in the world 2050

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Introduction

The world is experiencing rapid technological developments. Among these developments is the emerging “wearable technology”. Technology is at its infant stage with full potential expected to be realized in the next few decades.  It revolves around developing smart technologies or devices with special capabilities. For instance, some of these devices are capable of monitoring the activities of a person. Others are capable of monitoring health conditions such as pulse rates and are of different types, including jewelry items, wristbands, glasses and watches. The number of devices and technologies are expected to increase in future. It is anticipated that in the next few decades, physicians will be remotely accessing and managing all patients’ health conditions and especially chronic ones. However, unlike computers, the devices have limited processing power and bandwidth. This limits the security features which can be incorporated in them, exposing them to security risks. This has made potential users reluctant to embrace them. Therefore, the design of wearable technology poses numerous security challenges/loopholes and this has reduced their adoption rate.

References

Ching, K & Singh, M. (2016).Wearable technology devices security and privcay vulnerability Analysis. International Journal of Network Security & Its Applications (IJNSA) 8(3), 20-30.