Woog's World / Evolution of the Westporter
Published 7:01 am, Thursday, February 9, 2012
As a longtime fan of the Darwin Awards, you can imagine how excited I was to read that the Southern Connecticut Darwin Day Committee will hold its fourth annual celebration tomorrow at the Inn at Longshore.
The Darwin Awards -- for those of you among the few human beings not paying attention to Facebook, YouTube, or anywhere else anecdotes like these get passed around -- honor folks who somehow manage to self-select themselves out of the gene pool by performing such spectacularly thoughtless, stupid or inane acts that they actually render themselves incapable of reproducing. Sometimes this happens when they make themselves sterile; other times it is because they actually cause their own demise.
Darwin Award winners include, for example, the three Palestinian terrorists blown up by their own bombs (they had thoughtlessly set the explosives on Palestinian Daylight Savings Time, one hour ahead of local time). I am also thinking of the guy who jumped out of a plane to film some skydivers, without wearing a parachute himself. Or the woman who fell asleep while smoking a cigarette (the blaze ignited her oxygen tank).
I was all set to attend tomorrow's celebration, and pat myself on the back for being so Darwinian that I myself would never win a Darwin Award, when I fully read -- rather than skimmed -- the news story. Turns out this is an actual, legit celebration of the birthday of the famed naturalist. (He would have been 203 on Sunday, which would truly exemplify "survival of the fittest.")
Tomorrow there will be cocktails, a full course dinner and a science quiz, for which each table will collaborate on the answers. Also a talk by Rene Almeling, assistant professor of sociology at Yale University. She will discuss her new book (and everyone's favorite dinner topic): "Sex Cells: The Medical Market for Eggs and Sperm."
It sounds like a wonderful event, all reproductive cell jokes aside, and it's sponsored by a Who's Who of People Who Actually Believe in The Importance of Education: the Unitarian Church in Westport; the Congregation for Humanistic Judaism of Fairfield County; the Wilton Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), and the Norwalk Public Schools Science Department.
Proceeds will be donated to the National Center for Science Education. It's a red state nightmare.
I won't be going, unfortunately, but that doesn't mean I can't honor the great Charles Darwin myself. I'll do it the best way I can: by presenting my own Darwin Awards.
Westporters are too intelligent to do anything that will remove us directly from the gene pool, but we do engage in a few natural selection processes that have implications for generations to come.
For instance, we have developed a new form of vision. It is much narrower than humans' in other places -- very direct. This allows us to focus intently on whatever lies ahead -- a parking spot, say, or our child's teacher we are conversing with. By clearing our heads of all distractions, we can achieve whatever aim or goal is right in front of us. The downside: We are completely unable to see the big picture.
We have also managed to grow some amazing tentacles. Defying all laws of gravity, we can now control our child's every action and movement , no matter how far he or she is from us. Some parents are said to have the ability to control their kids' thoughts and emotions too, though that evidence is inconclusive.
Westport brains are evolving rapidly as well, to the point where laughably contradictory thoughts now inhabit the same region. "I want the biggest house possible," for example, shares space with "I am very concerned about my carbon footprint." "I don't care where my child goes to college, so long as she is happy and healthy" burbles there, right next to "If she does not raise that A- to an A she will never get into Harvard."
Fortunately, a pair of very positive traits is evolving right here in Westport -- and the two are intimately connected. We are developing enlarged hearts, alongside a new ability to -- Albert Einstein would freak out -- inhabit more than two points in time simultaneously. Not all Westporters have evolved this way -- but a surprising number have. These folks' hearts are so big, they reach out to anyone who needs help. And they serve on so many boards and committees; plan so many events, and participate in so many charity auctions, walk-a-thons, spin-a-thons, swim-a-thons and thon-a-thons that they can actually be seen participating in several of them, at different spots in town, all at the same moment.
If those are traits that will be passed on to future generations, the future looks promising.
If not -- well, you can always light a match to check for a gas leak.