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Friday, June 1, 2007The Alpha Mother And Beta Mummys "New war"
Battle lines are being drawn between mums who hothouse children - and the Beta mums who don't. So whose side are you on?
A new Mummy War has broken out over the "best" way to bring up children - and it's causing a deep and rancorous gulf between two tribes of women who regard each other with disdain and dislike.
But this time the battle for school gate superiority has less to do with whether or not women work full-time or stay at home, and everything to do with time management versus tree climbing.
Step forward the Alpha and Beta mothers.
The Alpha mother has reigned supreme for more than a decade.
Held up as an aspirational role model for the rest of us, she never has a hair out of place and can be spotted tapping urgently into her Blackberry on the school run.
This sort of woman treats parenthood as a project to be managed down to the last second.
Fiercely organised, she's likely to be highpowered and well-educated. Aren't you feeling inferior already?
But there's more to an Alpha mum than that.
She treats her home life as an extension of her corporate one: family time is merely another slot in the bulging diary.
Her children are seamlessly ferried between extra curricular activities with little to no time to spare for relaxation or, God forbid, just thinking.
A few weeks ago I was walking down 31st Street near 8th Avenue and noticed a four-foot tall ledge protruding from a seemingly abandoned building.
The next logical step was to stage an Improv Everywhere Mission with a suicide jumper on the absurdly small ledge.
At around 3:30 in the afternoon, a somber man crawled up the far side of the ledge at the edge of the building and began carefully inching his way towards the center.
See pics and know the mystery:http://www.improveverywhere.com/2005/12/10/suicide-jumper/
Press LB to open trunk." That's what a pop-up command told Official Xbox Magazine as a Rockstar representative approached a vehicle from the rear while demoing the game.
It sounds like a great addition to the game, considering how useful car trunks have proven to be in the world of organized (and disorganized) crime. Bodies, drugs, weapons, bombs, etc. all fit quite nicely.
"GTA IV - What junk is in YOUR trunk?"
Great apes are facing an "inevitable crisis" arising from climate change, a leading conservationist has warned.
Dr Richard Leakey said that growing pressure to switch from fossil fuels to biofuels could result in further destruction of the animals' habitats.
The chair of WildlifeDirect called for immediate action and proposed financial incentives to save forests from destruction as one possible solution.
He said: "Climate change will undoubtedly impact everything we know."
The great apes - gorillas, chimps, bonobos and orangutans - are already under threat from habitat destruction, poaching, logging and disease.
The Great Apes Survival Project (Grasp), a United Nations Environment Programme (Unep) initiative, has warned that great apes are at risk of imminent extinction unless drastic action is taken.
In advance of a talk at the UK's Royal Geographical Society, Dr Leakey told journalists that climate threats now had to be added to the mix.
The former director of the Kenyan Wildlife Service said: "I am concerned about the pressures on the land as a result of changes to the climate, but also the pressures on the land in terms of people's reaction to climate change and the shift away from fossil fuels to biofuels.
Humanity's earliest ancestors did not drag their knuckles along the ground before mastering life on two feet, but learned to walk upright while still living in the trees, according to a team of British scientists. The claim challenges the belief that humans evolved from chimp-like creatures that descended from the trees to roam the savannahs of east Africa, using their knuckles for support, before slowly rising to the upright posture of more modern humans.
The theory marks a dramatic twist in evolutionary thinking that suggests some of our earliest ancestors may have begun walking on two legs up to 24m years ago, rather than shortly after the human lineage split from chimpanzees around 6m years ago. It suggests early humans adapted rapidly to open landscapes by honing the basic walking skills they developed to move around the forest canopy.
The team, led by Robin Crompton at Liverpool University and Susannah Thorpe at Birmingham University, claim our tree-dwelling ancestors learned to walk on two feet because it helped them edge along outer branches while having their hands free to grasp ripe fruit. The tactic also enabled them to clamber between neighbouring trees without having to descend to the forest floor.
The scientists reached their conclusions after spending a year observing the movements of orang-utans in Sumatra. The great apes of the region are the only species to spend their entire lives in the trees. Footage of nearly 3,000 movements showed the apes consistently walked on two legs to reach the outer branches of trees, using their arms primarily for balance. Unlike gorillas and chimps, which bend their knees to walk on the ground, the orang-utans straightened their legs to adopt a more human-like gait.
Professor Crompton said such skills would have benefited early human ancestors enormously between 24m and 5m years ago, when eastern and central Africa experienced dramatic climatic cycles and the forests first thickened and then died back. "As the forests became sparse, the strategy of our human ancestors was more or less to abandon the canopies and come down to the ground, where they could use this bipedalism immediately to get around," he said.
Writing in the US journal Science, the team describes how the ancestors of other great apes, such as gorillas and chimpanzees, may have continued living in the trees, but later evolved to walk on their knuckles, to help them move quickly between one tree and another on the forest floor. "While they were more innovative and developed this new way of moving, our ancestors were more conservative, using a form of walking that was already in their repertoire."
Carol Ward, a palaeoanthropologist at the University of Missouri-Columbia, said the study fundamentally altered our view of human ancestry.
"Our entire conception of human evolution has included us going through this chimp-like, knuckle-walking phase, but this is saying maybe the trajectory of changes that led to humans didn't look like that at all. It's profound," she said.
Other researchers were more sceptical. "The main evidence is that our closest living relatives are not orang-utans, they're chimps and gorillas, and since both climb trees and walk on their knuckles, it's most likely our ancestors did that too," said Brian Richmond, an anthropologist at George Washington University.
"One of the only anatomical features we share explicitly with chimps and gorillas is that we only have eight wrists bones, while almost all other primates have nine. In humans, chimps and gorillas, two bones have fused into one to stabilise the wrist, making it stronger for knuckle-walking. It's not a smoking gun, but it's the best evidence we have."
A 19-year-old virgin walks into a bar. He's got his lucky cross in his pocket and his best jersey on. Please God, he says to himself, let this be the night. He spies a girl sitting at a table—blonde, wholesome-looking, just his type. He sidles up closer to the girl, who is chatting with some friends. Over the din, he can make out snippets of her conversation: at Bible study the other night … Pastor Ted says … saving it for marriage. Discouraged, he walks away in search of a more promising target.
Did he make the correct decision? Or did he make a hasty judgment and miss a chance for a possible love connection? The answer to such a question can be found in Forbidden Fruit: Sex & Religion in the Lives of American Teenagers by Mark Regnerus, a professor of sociology at the University of Texas at Austin. The book is a serious work of sociology based on several comprehensive surveys of young adults, coupled with in-depth interviews. But it could also double as a guide for teenage boys on the prowl (who's easier, a Catholic girl or a Jew?) or for parents of teenage girls worrying about what will happen if their daughters keep skipping church.
Regnerus goes to some length to justify his unusual pairing of subjects. Most researchers of youth behavior tend to ignore the influence of religion, he argues, and instead focus on other factors—parental input, peer pressure, race, or socioeconomic status. But sex is one area where religion has a strong impact, at least on attitudes. When academics do consider religion, they tend to make lazy assumptions that religious communities are inherently conservative, universally condemn sex, and encourage abstinence. Regnerus complicates the picture by examining the varying attitudes of different religious communities. And while sex surveys are notoriously unreliable, his great innovation is to compare conservative attitudes with actual practice..
Which brings us back to Romeo at the bar. It turns out that the answer is: He has indeed made a hasty judgment, and a common one. The girl he had his eye on is speaking the modern idiom of evangelese, and Regnerus' most surprising findings are about her type, who make up about one-third of all teenagers, but who dominate the culture's notions about religion and sex. Teenagers who identify as "evangelical" or "born again" are highly likely to sound like the girl at the bar; 80 percent think sex should be saved for marriage. But thinking is not the same as doing. Evangelical teens are actually more likely to have lost their virginity than either mainline Protestants or Catholics. They tend to lose their virginity at a slightly younger age—16.3, compared with 16.7 for the other two faiths. And they are much more likely to have had three or more sexual partners by age 17: Regnerus reports that 13.7 percent of evangelicals have, compared with 8.9 percent for mainline Protestants.
How is that possible? What happened to all those happy, young Christian couples from the '90s swearing that True Love Waits? Partly, the problem lies in the definition of evangelical. Because of the explosion of megachurches, vast numbers of people who don't identify with mainstream denominations now call themselves evangelical. The demographic includes more teenagers of a lower socioeconomic class, who are more likely to have had sex at a younger age. It also includes African-American Protestant teenagers, who are vastly more likely to be sexually active.
But partly the problem lies in the temptation-rich life of an average American teenager. The fate of the True Love Waits movement, which began with the Southern Baptist Convention in the '90s, is a perfect example. Teenagers who signed the abstinence pledge belong to a subgroup of highly motivated virgins. But even they succumb. Follow-up surveys show that at best, pledges delayed premarital sex by 18 months—a success by statistical standards but a disaster for Southern Baptist pastors.
Evangelical teens today are much less sheltered than their parents were; they watch the same TV and listen to the same music as everyone else, which causes a "cultural collision," according to Regnerus. "Be in the world, but not of it," is the standard Christian formula for how to engage with mainstream culture. But in a world hypersaturated with information, this is difficult for tech-savvy teenagers to pull off. There are no specific instructions in the Bible on how to avoid a Beyoncé video or Scarlett Johansson's lips calling to you from YouTube, not to mention the ubiquitous porn sites. For evangelicals, sex is a "symbolic boundary" marking a good Christian from a bad one, but in reality, the kids are always "sneaking across enemy lines," Regnerus argues.
The results play out in the usual 19th-century way. When evangelical parents say they talk to their kids about sex, they mean the morals, not the mechanics.