Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Trailer Porn III & the Evolution of Parents' Evening


Went to parents' evening at No.1 Son's school yesterday evening. One of his teachers had a bottle of purplish liquid at his side with which to wet his whistle. Not sure if my quip about me also being partial to a drop of meths occasionally to get me through the day went down too well. No.1 Son looked suitably embarrassed, as usual.

No.1 Son was mega-unimpressed with his AS Level mocks performance, but the teachers were all complimentary of his ability and said Cs at this stage can easily translate into As at the real exam time. Mock exams are apparently based on the full 1 year syllabus, which has not yet been completed in terms of teaching, so it's quite normal to get average scores in mocks.

Thought of a way I could cut the oil drums without any risk to life and limb (although after the bonfire incident, perhaps I need to take a rest from dangerous sports).

Take one oil drum, place it near the car (outside) and run a hosepipe from the car exhaust to the oil drum. Leave the car running for several minutes and, voila - drums are filled with inert carbon monoxide, rendering them completely safe for cutting with an angle grinder, or even an oxy-acetylene cutter (not that I have one, but that would be nice - although I'm sure Hay would object).

It would be just my luck to gas myself in the process.

Been reading Bryan Sykes' book, Blood of the Isles, which analyses the origins of the British and Irish through DNA analysis. It sparked a thought.

Now evolution is driven by DNA mutations (about one mutation occurs every 20,000 years, on average). Most mutations are totally useless and end up as junk DNA. A very small number are lethal, resulting in the death (or severe incapacity) of the recipient with the associated inability to pass the mutation on. An even smaller number are useful and are passed on to future generations. Evolution, therefore, is a double-edged sword, depending on those who are more susceptible to inheritable mutations, and by inference, lethal mutations.

Those who are not as susceptible to mutations (and there are people in the population whose DNA shows no mutation for many tens of thousands of years) are at less risk from lethal mutations, but are next to useless in terms of the evolution of the human race.

There are people who suggest we have stopped evolving because we are more in control of our environment, and hence natural selection doesn't operate, but that doesn't stop the mutations happening. Evolution, however, also depends on small populations and inbreeding (like in Norfolk, and Dursley), so that beneficial mutations get fixed into the cohort, but inbreeding presents its own problems (like in Norfolk and Dursley). In the modern era, access to transport means few people stay restricted to their birthplace (except in Norfolk and Dursley), so while the beneficial mutations may be spread wider, they get diluted.


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