Thinking about sex

Regarding Nurture/Nature debate over the causes of human sexual orientation...

If people are programmed genetically to have an orientation, this raises two questions. First, if orientation is set to an initial condition, why is it so changable thereafter? And second, what purpose - if any - might be served by genetic sexuality?

Sexuality is extremely susceptible to change, but the mechanisms and causes of this change are highly mysterious. We know that people develop new tastes and change old ones, but strangely, it seems impossible to deliberately create such a change. Contrast gay men who unexpectedly fall in love with a woman and start a family with the complete failure of the ex-gay movement.

If sexuality is preprogrammed, what is the point of it being randomly reprogrammable later? Conversely, if sexuality is fluid and constantly changing, what purpose is served by having several different initial position?

There may indeed be no panglossian purpose to genetic sexuality. Perhaps there was a purpose once, which is now out of date, but the structure remains. Or it may be some kind of by-product.

One possible solution is that sexuality is indeed preprogrammed, and it does serve a species-level purpose to have multiple sexual orientations in a society, including those which do not result in propagation. However, the 'glue' that binds a person to their programmed sexuality is weaker than would be ideal. This some people become detached, and float into a new orientation.

This reasoning requires that genetic adaptation (however imperfect) takes place in progeny with a view towards survival of the species, as opposed to the progeny of an individual. In other words, a simple 'selfish gene' model cannot be used. It may also require a notion of teleology to be reintroduced to evolution studies, which would be pseudoscientific.

Assuming variation in sexual orientation is not unique to humans, and assuming the purpose (whatever it is) of this variation is the same in humans as in nonhumans, they we have to ask: what is the point of a bisexual fruit fly? Let alone a gay banana?

Time for bed

I haven't slept for something like 30 hours, so now might be a good time to start.

I've got a cold and a sore throat, so couldn't record 'Phantom' in time for the songfight deadline. However, I've checked it with Andy Balham, and he's fine with using the backing for the next fight. I'll have to either create a new song for the new title, or tweak the existing lyrics. I think it'll be the latter - I'm far too lazy to write two songs in as many weeks.

Hopefully I'll be chatting with Nick on IRC around 2200 today (wednesday). It's been a while, and I'm looking forward to it.

I just had a very pleasant evening out with H. He says he rather liked the CD of my music I put together for him, especially the remix of Aaron Loveland's 'Think About It'. We don't know when we'll both be free again, but we'll arrange something soon. If a lover is someone you can't function for long without, a friend is someone you function better with. We are friends who don't have the energy to be lovers.

Slow beginning

Okay, it seems I can't sing at all tonight. I've got a day and a half to record the vocals, mix them and the music tracks, and submit the song. But there's other things to do as well.

I'm doing the Open University short course 'Maths for Science', in preparation for a full length level 1 science course in the new year. I've always had a blind spot for mathematics, and it's proving more difficult that I expected to grasp such notions as "1/(5^-3)". There's no magic to confidence and competence with numbers, and there's nothing mysterious about having or removing a blind spot there. Even so, I didn't expect the concept of "dividing negative exponants" to be such an obstacle.

Begin again

This week in songfight I'm in collaboration with Andy Balham of Masters of Grip. He's put together a backing track of overdriven guitars, and I've thrown together some lyrics. Here they are:

I don't have a razor, I can't use a gun
Counting down the painkillers hundered to one
Note left on the tabletop for when you get back
Watch the minute hand, fade to black

Ashes to acid, dust to rust
Zero to phantom, love to lust
Run to mother now, ape to man
Time to go now, if I can

There's no point in holding on, nothing will change
Where am I? Please tell me now. I'm feeling strange
Could that be your voice? I don't understand
Is that you holding my hand?

Ashes to acid, dust to rust
alpha to omega, love to mistrust
Run to daddy now, boy to man
Time to go now, if I can

Just don't ask me why
There is no reply
Look me in the eye
And tell me how to say goodbye

Ashes to acid, dust to rust
Zero to phantom, love to lust
Run to mother now, ape to man
Time to go now, if I can

It's 20:30, and I'm trying to record the vocal, without much success. Modulating my voice to sound like a teen skatepunk singer and cut through the guitars isn't so difficult, though I do keep slipping into a hybrid american drawl. The problem is keeping in tune - only odd syllables here and there slip out, but that's enough to ruin a take. And with my habit of tripple-tracking, that's a lot of takes.

I'm taking a break, letting my vocal cords recover, and pumping U96 into my ears.

Tomorrow I should be seeing H - going for a drink, a movie, and comparing complex lovelives. Last week I gave him a half-hour CD of my music - we'll see how diplomatic he is in his comments.

Philosophy 101

The question "Where does a person go when they die?" is analogous to "Where
does your fist go when you open your hand?"