If you're not knitting, the terrorists win

(My mostly on-topic ramblings about knitting. And life in general. My life in specific.)

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Location: Indiana, United States

I'm a middle aged mother of 2 grown children and wife to a man who doesn't seem to mind my almost heroin-like yarn addiction. I spend my time writing, knitting, and generally stressing out.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Animals, Cavemen, The Walking Dead, And Diet

As I get older, I worry about things no one else (probably) worries about as much. Like, losing my mind. I mean, I've already ruined the body, so the mind is really all I have left.

Anyway, I was watching this show on PBS (I mention that--not to be a hipster wannabe--but to add validity to the information.) about bird intelligence. The essence of the show was, basically, we think birds are stupid, but they are actually smart.

A lot of the show was devoted to the problem-solving abilities of ravens and crows. Complex problem solving. It was a little eerie (and yes, remember birds kind of creep me out anyway) the way these birds looked at the situation and then determined, "Okay. I need to fly up to this perch to get this short stick. Then I can use the short stick to push the rocks out of these little wooden cages. Then I can take the rocks and put them in this other box so the weight will open the trapdoor bottom and drop the long stick out. Then I can use the long stick to reach the bit of meat in the deeper wooden cage."

I must stress that the birds did not try to reach the meat with the short stick. Nor did they try to get the long stick without getting the rocks. They just took a few seconds to fly and hop around and look at the situation, then they took about 20 seconds to do all of that and get to the meat.

They did another experiement in which the bird had to unlock a series of latches to get at the meat. Ten seconds. In order to show the bird was thinking about this and not just going through a routine, they removed one of the series, making all the steps before that point superfluous. The birds imediately recognized that, and started working the problem after that step.

These are dinosaurs, people. This is what the dinosaurs turned into. And you were suprised those raptors in Jurassic Park could manage a doorknob? Puh-lease.

Right after the animal show, another progam came on. This one was about prehistoric man. And especially about the evolution of modern man's brain. I was in a brain kind of mood, so I watched it, too.

Basically, as hunter/gatherers, according to the show, man had to consume a lot of protein. A lot. It was apparently very hard not to starve to death. And it wasn't until fire that man was able to maximize the benefit of protein. After he learned to cook food, he was able to better process the food and get more nutrients out of it. More protein helped his brain to grow and evolve.

Still, researchers say he had to eat about 4 times as much protein as we do today, just because of all the physical activity his day to day life involved. And, because he lived in a very small society of 3-12 members, he had to know how to do everything. Anything he owned, he had to know how to make. Anything he ate, he had to know how to hunt it, where to find it, and how to cook it. Any situation he was in, he had to know how to treat it.

That's about 180 degrees from modern society, where, if we want something we can buy it. And if we want to eat something, we can just go buy that, too. And if something happens--someone gets sick or hurt, we need to move, or we need something we don't have--there are places and people to take care of that, too. We don't need to know everything. But our ancestors did. And their brains were bigger and more efficient because of that.

Of course, we have a much broader scope of thought in this modern day, albeit the sampler version. We all have some basic concept of science, art, music, medicine, literature, politics, etc. Our ancestors were concerned with day to day life, for the most part.

So that made me think of The Walking Dead. These folks are basically wandering around all over hell and creation, spending a lot of their time and effort trying to find food, shelter, medicine, etc. They don't have a whole lot of need to be thinking of astronomy or iambic pentameter. Just like cavemen. But they aren't eating like cavemen. They're eating old cans of creamed corn and the occasional squirrel. (They have established in the show that the walkers are eating animals, too. So there are not many animals around to eat. Not a lot of protein running around in this world.)

So how is it that Rick and Company can walk around all day on basically no protein? It's been five years since Z-Day. Why aren't they all skeletal-framed and rickety? Why haven't some of them starved to death? Why don't we see people who have starved to death in their failed societies? Why haven't the members of this group lost much of their ability to think logically? They have to be malnourished as hell, right?

For that matter, what is happening to our brains in this day and age? If we know that our brains have gotten smaller with the lack of use and the lack of protein, what happens if you are eating a low protein diet or if you are simply not eating a balanced diet?

Clearly we all function just fine with only 25% of the protein of our ancestors' diet. Our day to day life has changed, though. If we had to hunt/gather like cavemen, that diet would kill us. If something catastrophic happened, like a zombiepocalypse, where the need for more protein (because of a lifestyle change) became necessary, would our bodies make the adaptation right away? And if our bodies were able to somehow adapt, how soon would it take our brains to adapt, as well?

And... if we have the bigger brain of our ancestors and the broader knowledge of modern man, wouldn't that push us forward on the brain evolution track? So would a zombiepocalypse be necessarily bad?

Oh, of course it would be bad. I'm just trying to follow this train to the end of the line. Because, you know, I want to keep my brain active. Use it or lose it, people. Am I right?


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