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Jim Jaszewski ab975 at
Tue Jul 11 20:29:16 MDT 1995

> Only the pale people can digest lactose [milk sugar] as adults,
> european-origins all.  The rest of the world considers milk to be
> baby food,

	Basically what I said.

 although US aid to start up dairy farms in Viet Nam of all
> places is trying to change that - apparently ice cream is the latest,
> hottest little luxury food item being sold in the streets of Saigon.

	Anything for a buck, eh?

> So, this probably occurred after people were keeping large animals,
> and therefore probably within the last 10 to 15,000 years.  There was
> already genetic variation between individuals in the timing of
> turning off lactase production in the body, so that selection could
> easily occur.

	And that must be how it occurred...

  A great many people have herded and depended on animal
> products for a long time, across much of Africa and Asia, but they
> don't drink milk.  They make yogurt and cheese, cook the blood, etc.

	So bacterial culture transforms the lactose, right? I expect the
ratio of lactose in-/tolerance in each human culture should vary quite
closely with the 'traditional' methods of preparing milk -- though under
capitalism, all future bets are off...

> Loss of body hair is more likely to be related to thermoregulation,
> i.e. trying to get rid of excess body heat.  Through most of
> skeletally modern human time on earth, and earlier, hominids were not
> living in very wintry places at all.

	I would bet you are wrong there. Thermoregulation, yes, but if you
notice, animals of the savanna all have (short) fur coats. In case you've
never been to the desert, let me point out that while it may be bitchin'
hot during the day, the lack of humidity quickly bleeds the air of heat
after sundown. It's probably quite chilly at night in Tanzania... As for
that matter, why haven't the nordic races shown a general propensity
towards growing fur??

  Combined with the unusual
> presence of sweat glands all over the body, and the retention of hair
> on the head, our anatomy is suggestive of a long history of
> over-heating and trying to stay cool.

	I don't doubt that, but again, there's still the nighttime chill
factor to consider.

> I've heard people speculate before about how people today are drawn
> to fires, and stare into them.  True for some of us, but I don't
> think that or TV-trance is related to evolutionary effects of fire.

	I'm not just surmising about the 'moth to the flame' effect; I'm
considering the GLUE-LIKE effect of the WHOLE FAMILY sitting around the
tube IN THE EVENING. Makes you think hard...

> I mean, "selected" can mean that fire was often useful, so a general
> approach like 'look for what works and then do more of it whenever it
> helps' might cover it.  I don't see how that is a reason for any
> other special effects of fire (or TV) upon us, then or now.

	I think you HIGHLY underestimate the effects of our first and most
important tool on our psycho/physiology...

> Also there were many reasons for a family to stick together, no need
> for fire for that.  Other species have families all the time.  Also,
> hominids likely had families, as all apes do, long before we had
> fire.

	But they all had/have _HAIR_ -- and I'll bet ANY pre-paleolithic
hominid species suddenly transported into a behavioral laboratory (it's a
stretch; I know) would shrink howling from any open flame. As for families
-- I doubt they were much different in behavior from baboons or chimps and
would show this in that same 'lab'. Fire probably didn't CREATE the family
structure all by itself, but I bet it was a strong factor in reinforcing
the family rituals we are all _compelled_, subconsciously, into

  The shrinking of the jaw is mainly about shrinking teeth,
> which took place largely from 4 to 1 million years ago [mya] while
> fire came into use around 0.2 mya.

	.2??  I don't believe that figure.

	How teeth are related to fire is through the WONDER of cooked
food. Note how australopithecus(?) boisei had HUGE jaw muscles --
necessary to chew UNCOOKED tubers, etc...

> The gut prob. decreased in length (and teeth shrank) as hominids quit
> eating leaves and switched to "higher quality" diets, more easily
> digestible foods such as fruits and meat, which do not require
> lengthy fermentation within the gut.  This is from cutting edge work
> on hominid evolution just published this year, and thanks to someone
> on this list for pointing out this particular article to me.

	But hasn't changed all THAT much, as meat sits too long in it and
leads, apparently to many auto-immune diseases -- not to mention that
pesky appendix...

> Yes, I study "primitive communism", why leave anything unsaid?  I'm
> in "hunter-gatherer studies" according to some traditional anthro.
> classification schemes, but I never studied it in terms of primitive
> communism.  I have read enough of Marx to catch a few of his
> references to it, and I have read some Engels, and so far I'm not
> terribly impressed by their views of hunter-gatherers [same as
> 'foragers'].

	Just like I'm not necessarily impressed by the holding of PhD...

> I'd love to hear some explanation of what they were up to with that
> kind of talk, and how much it matters to the rest of their work, or
> what are the implications they drew from 'primitive communism', in
> your opinion.  Or anybody else, jump in.

	It means, for one thing, that people ACTUALLY LIVED IN COMMUNAL
GROUPS THROUGHOUT *MOST* OF HUMAN HISTORY. This *means* that capitalism is
DEFINITELY a phase we will pass through. If we had 'communistic' society
in the past, it means we CAN have it -- on a higher level -- in the


   Jim Jaszewski   <jjazz at>

   WWW homepage:   <>


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