Friday, September 30, 2005

A Biochemically Better Gay

I had this crazy thought while sitting in Biochemistry class.

The teacher was doing an excellent job confusing me regarding Gibbs Free Energy and biological processes when I realized something. All processes that do not have input tend towards equilibrium. Let's take the example of a perfume bottle being opened in a room. All of the perfume is in the bottle, while none of it is in the room... and because of this difference, called a gradient, the perfume begins to spread.

Ok, well this isn't a new scientific concept; let's add another concept to it:

It takes more energy to make similar pairings than different pairings, as systems tend towards heterogeneity. This is related in part to the above concept, but it can best be shown with magnets or Adenosine Tri-Phosphate, called ATP.

ATP is a molecule that our bodies create to drive biological reactions. There are little magnetic phosphate groups that our body will force together, even though they have the natural inclination to fly apart. Imagine you placing two north ends of a magnets together. They fly away from eachother once you stop holding them together. If you want them to touch, it requires extra energy in the form of you physically pushing them next to one another.

A generously borrowed graph of ATP function

Our bodies stores energy by pushing these ATP 'magnets' together, then using the stored energy to make our bodies work. Life will go through great lengths to create these similar-magnet pairings... but only because they are very important.

Let's pull this to traits and populations. Given ideal settings, traits in a population will favor heterogenous, or non-similar, pairing as a function of statistics. It takes great energy or selective pressure to change this equilibrium.

Alright, throw in one more concept, and you'll see where I'm going.

Homosexual pairing, given ideal settings, is a trait that has 100% fatality. This trait ensures that our pairings will not produce offspring.

Without cause, a trait with this type of fatality tends towards equilibrium. Without cause, homosexuality wouldn't exist. It's just not physically possible to keep us around otherwise. Why spend all this energy to make similar pairings when the state with greatest free energy is heterogeneity?

Well, that's an interesting question. Why do homosexuals exist? Biology must have some damn good reason for creating us, since we require so much just to have around! It can't be unique to human interaction, since homosexuality is common in a huge number of animals. It has to be some basic function to the survival of the species.

Well, don't I feel special today?

Wednesday, September 28, 2005


It's an interesting word, and I must admit that I've never really known its definition. I know what it means, but that's something completely different.

I keep wondering what identity 'metrosexual' is based off. It's so nebulous. However, there are a few hints about The Metrosexual's identifying traits which may help us pin down a definition.

1. The Metrosexual is not gay.

I'm not sure why this is important, but it seems as though The Homosexual gets his own grouping. This is rather interesting, as it either says something about the assumptions we have about homosexuals


the metrosexual identity is actually based off of homosexual identity itself.

2. The Metrosexual is well spoken and usually very educated.

This is also usually coupled with liberal beliefs and, if not an open mind, then trying to seem like they are exposed to things-that-make-them-cool.

3. The Metrosexual is always in touch with the latest trends and fashion.

They will go to great lengths to look well-dressed and spend great resources on the same things-that-make-them-look-cool.

4. The Metrosexual has a softer side.

A major identifying factor, for me, if that metrosexuals never seem to have a need to establish their macho superiority over other people... unless it's about being the most fashionable or best dressed. Old gender norms seem to be more flexible for them, sometimes more so than compared to their homosexual brethren.

5. And yet, The Metrosexual is never a woman.

Official 'The Metrosexual' Logo

I see a trend here. Dress me in pink if I'm wrong...

Throughout history, those with privilege have had the greatest freedom in breaking gender norms. Being in a higher class than those around you allows you to take on feminine traits while not seeming weak. It's almost saying, "I have so much privilege, I don't even have to use my macho power to prove my superiority."

Metrosexual seems to be about class... and the stereotype that straight men are dirty while gay men are dapper and neat!

Don't get me wrong, The Metrosexual is usually a great ally for equal rights and an excellent individual at the same time, but I've always gotten that sense of careless displays of privilege from 'self-proclaimed' metrosexuals.

Perhaps I'm wrong. I guess you'll know if you ever see me in pink...

<like I'd be caught dead in pink, anyway>

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Here at the great University of Wisconsin at Madison, we seem to have developed two different campuses.

First, I have to describe the basic lay out of our university:
On the north side, we are bordered by a beautiful lake
To our south lays a corridor of dense off-campus housing

Naturally, our campus has developed in a very linear, east-west fashion. The East side of campus has our Humanities Building, Education, Business, and the Memorial Union. The West side of campus has the Biochemistry, Engineering, Genetics and Microbial Sciences. Let's not mention Union South... our union.

It might help to mention that Memorial Union is infinitely prettier and holds most of the campus' activism, while Union South has a study program and a lounge for reading textbooks... and in its current form, Union South seems to be made from one solid piece of poured concrete. Never say Madison doesn't have its communist side.

Needless to say, East is Humanities... West is Science.

So, as I strolled down the major streets in our university, I kept wondering why it had developed this polarized fashion... most likely because similar classes should be close to one another to reduce travel time. However, before I could complete my thoughts, something caught my eye.

It wasn't anything new to me, as I have grown accustomed to the three looming buildings that lay in the middle of our campus. Yet, suddenly, it all made sense. They stood there, like sentinels guarding the science-side of campus from the humanities.

Math, Physics, and Chemistry

How fitting, I couldn't help but think. That would certainly keep me out of the science side of campus... I wish I had thought of that BEFORE declaring my major!

I can't imagine three greater giants that could separate our two schools of thought.

That's such a better explanation for why UW developed the way it did. It's almost convincing enough to make me think that some city planning happened in Madison, even if it's obvious that previous city planning in this once-swampy strip of land is pretty improbable.

Heh, I love Madison.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

So, what is the difference between analysis and reflection anyway?

I've known people who are incredible analysts. They can look at any system or situation and gather impressive amounts of information. Their ability to remember relevant things is astounding and they invariably have the ability to recall incredible amounts of data. They wield equations as a martial artist would hold a sword.

I have great respect for analysis. My scientific background has trained me in a social philosophy geared towards coming closer to 'truth.' We know we'll never gain it, but we understand the basic human need to explore the world in a structured way. Science teaches one to share information with one another to push our human endeavor forward.

However, analysis alone does not create knowledge and information by itself is not power.

An obvious attempt to seem deep

I also have friends who contemplate the nature of the universe. They wander through life looking at flowers, trying to discern the Ultimate Truth from the color of their petals.

Which isn't as silly as it sounds.

I've often felt that if there is an underlying, governing force to the universe, that it will lay in waiting beneath every rock you turn and every rose you smell. The ability to derive meaning and interconnections from things fosters the expansion of the human mind. These friends are often wise and intuitive. I respect their reflections.

Yet, it is impossible to gain great wisdom from little experience. A reflection only appears when there is something before the mirror.

Another obvious attempt to seem deep

So, how does on get this elusive 'knowledge?' Where does it come from?

Well, my wise friends have it right, in my mind. You can see the universe in a grain of sand. Yet, I also believe that the search for information drives the human spirit to explore their world and gain the experience we need.

I've been thinking... wouldn't it be better to pursue the refinement of both these skills so we can fulfill both halves of this process? It seems like it's important to explore the world and be efficient in squeezing the most amount of information from our experiences, then stop and understand what it is that we have gotten. It requires the wisdom of a reflective mind to truly gain the most insight from what information we have.

Too bad wisdom conflicts with my science major and philosophy isn't conducive to gathering anything but debt. Oh well.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

In my opinion, spontaneous dance is the purest form of art.

Now, I'm not an artist by trade or formal education, but I think about this a great deal. Spontaneous dance exists only as long as you will it to exist... and it is truly transient. It is never reinterpreted and it never loses the matrix in which it was created.

The form of spontaneous dance is best understood when compared to painting. Don't get me wrong, it's not that I disrespect painting at all. In fact, I paint every once in a while... and while I am not the greatest painter, I enjoy it a great deal.

However, once something is painted, it becomes a permanent representation of something that is in a constant state of change. Whether the object of change is societal context of the painting or the actual subject itself, this representation must be reinterpreted right after the art is completed. Of course, this can be useful, but it creates a secondary variable to the artistic representation... reducing it from a primary expression from the artist to the viewer.

Let us also look at static dance, or dance that is predetermined. Though the two types of dance are similar, there is the problem of constraint. In static dance, the representations, or predetermined movements, are created... and from that point onward, there is a right and wrong way to represent that expression through movement. This constraint also creates a secondary variable in the artistic expression's conveyance.

A dancer looking into the purity of spontaneous dance
she observes grace of movement, creativity of expression...
and the polish of her fingernail

There is no such removal of context or constraint in spontaneous dance. This lack of constraint creates something entirely different in form and gives me a completely different feeling during its creation. I'm always amazed at how spontaneous dance can be simultaneously larger than the dancer, but at the command of her interpretation.

The dancer becomes immersed in a field of music that is grander than herself and is swept away as the music moves her body. However, by the very allowance of this action, she becomes the master of the music. She forms it and changes its interpretation, both in her own eyes and the eyes of the observer.

It almost reflects a very spiritual side to us in relation to the world. So, I guess the premise of the whole entry is how moving pure art can be...

pun intended, of course.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Don't drink copious amounts of alcohol when you're sick.

It may seem like a wise idea at the time... but it's not. Trust me.

A medical diagram of the effect of alcohol when you're already sick

Friday, September 09, 2005

I have been contemplating the nature of 'leadership' recently. This is mainly due to it being time to start planning our yearly gay leadership conference here at the University of Wisconsin - Madison. Last year's conference was an amazing event and I'm looking for an encore.

However, I've managed to deconstruct 'leadership' in my mind to the point that it would be hard to teach right now. So, I'm pouring through manuals and texts looking for a good way to teach a subject I'm having to relearn. Along the way, I've stumbled across some interesting things that I had never thought before.

Relearning something can bring new light in ways that simple forward motion can't illuminate.

One section of my book is talking about empowerment of group participants. A 'follower' or 'co-creator' of social change will generally stick around if they feel that they are being heard and appreciated by the leader. At the core of leadership is the fundamental belief that we, as social beings, can do better in collaboration than we can independently.

Still, there are people who chose to not be part of the civil system. Most people agree that multiple people are capable of much more than the individual, yet there exist segments of society that reject this premise altogether, often to the detriment of others.

There can be two solutions as to why this happens:

1. I am wrong in my assumption that people are capable of more in association than alone.


2. These people reject this idea because they feel that they can do better fending for themselves. Most likely, this is caused by the civic system not working for them, or actively making their lives worse. This would result in crime, disregard for others, and the breakdown of society at times.

So, my next question is, does everybody have the right to fend for themselves if society isn't working for them? Do we actually cause crime by tolerating injustice and pain?

I don't know the answer to these questions, but I can't help but wonder if society can ever progress so long as we leave people behind. I imagine a utopian society where we all look out for the welfare of each citizen as a fellow. This makes each of us responsible for the leadership process... and makes us the true foundations of civilization.

At the risk of sounding a bit less-libertarian than I'm comfortable with, how do we reach this happy medium between social progress and social progressivism?

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

New Orleans lay in ruins, while so many people go wanting. Looting and violence continue... times are hard. What is it that makes a tragedy in New Orleans unlike a tragedy anywhere else in the US?

A fellow leader once turned to me and mentioned that no true leadership has emerged to face the hard times brought on by wind and rain. I have this romantic image of humanity standing before a storm, enduring hardship. We are amazing in our form and association... yet all of that has been abandoned for looting and quick acquisition. Why forsake civility so soon?

Honestly, I think it's the long years of unending oppression thick in the Louisiana air. New Orleans has always been a symbol of poverty and hopelessness to me. The people of the area know they don't have an influence over their environment. Life is hard, and one has to face hardship alone in the end. This oppression can make one too weak to stand up against adversity, which is what happened in New Orleans. Living in the murder capital of the world can make you guarded after a fashion, and distrust of the person next to you makes it hard to be a citizen.

New Orleans has reminded me that lack of compassion kills. Should disaster strike me and those around me, I would like to think that I would not abide people to suffer. This need and faith that humanity deserves better lays at the foundation of civilization and leadership.

So, I ask you:

What are you doing to make your world better today?