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Category: Humans

The Future of Hair
Have you ever noticed that, in the movies, humans from the future are depicted as hairless? It’s the same with most humanoid aliens. These super-human beings, it seems, have either shed their coats through natural selection, or they’re all deeply into electrolysis.

To a point, I agree with this vision of evolutionary destiny. I can’t imagine a good rationale for armpit or crotch hair, for instance; those sorry patches will surely be selected out of existence in due course. In fact, most hair from the neck down has no good reason to be there. Even the heaviest thickets of chest and back hair would be a poor defense against the cold if we were caught naked out in the wild. Indeed, they serve no purpose other than being the butts of cruel jokes. Good riddance, I say.

From the neck up, the value of hair becomes more debatable. I will assert straight off, however, that beards are destined for the evolutionary scrap heap. If you have a beard, you probably think you look good in it; dashing, even. I am sorry to report that you do not. There may even be some women in your life who tell you that they like it. The truth is that they are just trying to make you feel good. And if you’re sporting one of those five-day-growth stubbles now popular in Hollywood … well, let me just say that any woman who claims to admire this homeless bum look should not be entrusted with the keys to your Ferrari.

Beards, in my view, are admired mostly by their owners. The other functions of a beard — to intimidate animals or other men — are no longer called for in our world. The only other possible excuse for wearing one is that it makes a good mask. Weak chins, bad acne, and other forms of facial disfigurement can be effectively hidden with a beard (though only if it is thick enough to be opaque; wispy growth will only make matters worse). In any case, I don’t think evolution will keep beards around simply as a favor to the painfully shy among us.

The demise of the beard will also doom mustaches, mutton chops, soul patches, and all the other patently ridiculous subgroups of facial hair. Sideburns, which have a foot in two different hair universes, will no doubt be sorted out as they have already been with women.

It is here, just under the nose, where I depart from science fiction’s prediction of hairlessness for our descendants. From this point on up, in fact, hair becomes an indispensable factor in the survival of our species.

Take nostril hairs. These humble watchmen, along with their cousins stationed at the entrances to the ear canals, help fend off unwelcome intrusions by dust, insects, and airborne embers into our delicate inner regions. It is unglamorous work, to be sure, but it is enough to spare them from the evolutionary axe.

If it’s glamour you want, we have the eyelashes and eyebrows. Their usefulness in communication and their role in attracting mates mean that they too will be spared. As long as sex plays a part in reproduction, there will be hair around the eyes.

And then, there is the mane itself: the topknot, the crest, at once the most beautiful and the most ridiculous feature of our physical identity. This grand thatch — theoretically infinite in length and configuration — can do it all: attract mates, enhance lovemaking, provide warmth, even act as a raw material for clothing and fine household furnishings. Natural selection would not dare to strip us of such a wondrous growth. It might make for good science fiction, but we’ll never get to the future without our crowning glory.
An I.Q. of One
Lust: a powerful force indeed. It can sweep away family, career, reputation, and good sense. Ask General David Petraeus.

It takes two, as always, but I can’t help blaming you-know-who. That’s right, I’m talking about the most single-minded body part of all, the envied one, the King of Organs himself. He has always had his way, this mad tyrant, and I have no doubt he will continue to do so as long as sex remains popular.

The brain, to its credit, has always fought gamely against the tyrant, but the most it can ever hope to be is second banana. All the logic, faith, and force of will at its command are nothing against the raging biological imperative.

Even the most towering intellect is no match for an I.Q. of One, and even a five-star general must bow before the King.

Here and There
It is a place like no other. There are no worries there, no distractions, and no interruptions of your perfect experience. Actions need only be imagined, and they come to pass. There is no stress, no doubt, no calculation; only effortlessly being in the moment, in the happiest of happy places.

That place, of course, is The Zone. It is an enchanted latitude where we enjoy instantaneous access to all of our skills, where events flow freely, and where we can do no wrong.

Ah, but would you want to live there full time, forever present in the present?

It certainly sounds attractive. Many of the most enlightened among us have set that very state of being as their life’s goal. Follow their wisdom, and you would no doubt find fulfillment. Yes, very tempting, but you go ahead; I don’t think I’m ready for it. I just couldn’t handle All One all the time.

For one thing, you actually need to acquire skills before you can exercise them like a god. If you’ve never played ping-pong, for instance, you will still suck at it in The Zone. To be good there, you first have to learn what it means to be good here, in The unZone. There is no substitute, in other words, for doing the hard, repetitive labor of figuring out what works.

Even then, once you can pronounce yourself as “good” at something, wouldn’t you want to get even better? That means more grunt work picking up skills in this mundane, uncertain world. And if you ever hope to be really good, I think the fundamental breakthroughs such a jump would require could only come through trial-and-error struggles right here in The unZone.

I confess that I would also miss the long periods of random thought that are so common in this world. I know they don’t really count as meditation, and I can’t point to anything concrete that they are good for, but I’m quite sure I couldn’t live without them. In any case, I do like staring out the window.

Furthermore, there is something unhealthy about The Zone. I can’t put my finger on what it is, but it troubles me. That shutting out of everything but the task at hand seems a little selfish somehow, and sterile. There’s no room for chance or serendipity, and I just can’t trust an accomplishment that doesn’t involve struggle.

I like being in The Zone; I wish I could go there anytime I wanted. If I could buy a ticket, I would; but the thought of getting there and never coming back scares me. I see the All One as something to ponder, to strive for, but I wouldn’t be happy being there forever. I’d just end up missing my angst-ridden life here in The unZone. Besides, if I don’t feel lousy sometimes, how can I appreciate feeling good?

So punch my ticket to The Zone, by all means, but please ... make it round-trip.
What's So Funny?
Do you have a sense of humor? Of course, you answer ‘yes.’ We all would, even the poor devil who doesn’t have one. We have to think that; to believe otherwise would be to admit that you are not attractive, not lovable — that you are somehow less than human. But that’s certainly not you. I shouldn’t even suggest that it is. So let’s assume you have a ‘friend’ who doesn’t know when to laugh; how do you help your ‘friend?’

Let us be forthright: there is no cure for humorlessness. It is a lifelong affliction, like bad hair. There are, however, ways to cope. For bad hair, the solution is a hat. For the humorless, it is a lifetime of pretending you get it when you really don’t.

That said, one must always remember that the safest way to indicate amusement — at least until you’ve gained proficiency — is with a simple smile. No belly laughs for beginners, please. You’re blind to humor, remember? Let’s not start by running full tilt into the blackness. Just smile and try shaking your head. Not up and down, but side to side, as if you don’t believe what you just heard. Easy enough, right? Ah, but how will you know when to smile? Here are some simple guideposts.

B, as an example, is the funniest letter. I think that’s pretty generally accepted, except among P freaks. Boob, bustle, bozo, blimp, banjo, bupkis, boondoggle, even Beelzebub — the list is endless. If you hear a word with a prominent B or two, that is your cue to smile.

The funniest number is six. It’s also the most beautiful, but don’t let that throw you. It looks like a boob or a buttock, both of which can be lovely, but both of which are also hilarious (see the letter B, above). It also looks like a testicle. Ha ha.

The funniest color? Orange is not only clownish, but everyone looks bad wearing it. It’s almost as if they want you to laugh at them.

The dachshund is the funniest dog. “Wiener dog” says it all, I think. (There are no funny cats, by the way, unless you think tormenting them with a laser pointer is funny. And it isn’t; those YouTube clips are made by the humorless for the humorless.)

The funniest bird is the duck, with penguins coming in a close second. Daffy, Donald, Dirty, and (God, I miss him!) Duckman — there is no higher humor pantheon among all the animals. Ironically, neither ducks nor penguins do the single funniest thing that most birds do: that doofish head-bobbing walk. In truth, you can’t go wrong laughing at any bird, though I’d advise you not to get too cheeky with ostriches.

Vegetable? Beans, owing largely to their long association with farting, obviously take the top spot. Let’s be honest: even at your wittiest, you’ll never be as funny as flatulence. Childish, but true.

There is hope, then, for the humor-challenged. You can be assured that smiling at any of these cues is completely appropriate. After a while, after a lifetime of careful observation and practice, you’ll be able to add other cues to this list. Train yourself, like Pavlov’s wiener dog, to smile or laugh automatically at their mention, and you’ll finally become a functioning, lovable member of society. Fully human in every way.

That’s a joke, by the way.
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No "new normal" for me, this shit ain't normal.
~ MS, Truckee