Thursday, August 31, 2006

Remarkably Mark #19

#19: Gay Twins and Broken Levees

I talk about the fascinating 60 Minutes program studying whether gayness has anything to do with genetics. Gay Twins and the "brother" theory, which says that the more older brothers one has, the more chance a boy will be gay.

I also do a rundown of Project Runway and then talk about the Spike Lee film "When The Levees Broke: Requiem in 4 Acts", and the mess we have one year later.

Theme Music: "Viva Remarkably Mark!" by John Ong.

Voice Mail line: 1-646-797-3196
skype: remarkablepalate

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At 12:49 PM, Blogger Adam said...

Mark my issue though is with with framing of this research, or at least how the media framed the research. Human sexuality and human behavior are so fascinating and mysterious. The human brain holds so many secrets from development to how memories are stored to whether or not consciousness is something that exists physically within the brain or is our self and perception just a chemical reaction that is constantly fooling us into believing that we exist?

To me that is where the research lies and that is how this should have been presented in the news story rather than just "What makes us gay?" I want to know it all. What makes us straight? What makes certain people into feet? What makes people like to dress up like furry animals and have sex in costumes? Alas, I think the public at large needs to have questions like this cut up into small pieces for them by news corporations in the same way a mother must cut up her child's steak so that he may eat it himself.

If I have learned anything in my studies at university and in my time doing research, it's that the universe and, to be more specific to this conversation, biology are not black and white. It's all shades of grey. Although we may be made up of the same bits and pieces of matter and energy it is the combinations and permutations of those bits and pieces that are waiting to be discovered, therein lies the adventure in the quest for knowledge. Classification of these shades of grey into groups that are arbitrary relative to the true nature of the universe only serves to mask the truth about the physical world (I use world to mean the entire system of the universe) around us. Our constructs are our own and nature is ambivalent to our moires so we must communicate on nature's level and open our minds to endless possibilities and explain what we observe as it truly is and not limit our observations to our terrestrial and, more specifically, human sensibilities.

Jeffrey REEKS with insecurity it makes me so furious. Michael's design was so much more NOW. It was like he took inspiration from a Members Only jacket and made it over for 2006 whereas, like you said, Jeffrey just repeated a look that had already been done time and time again.

Blame the storm? Yikes. I dunno about that, they knew this was coming and they didn't take the appropriate measures to get people out and to get them to safety. We have weather prediction capabilities now so its not like, for example, in the 1800s when you just chalk it up to bad luck and say, "What a shame." When you know something is bad is coming you avoid it. I work with a Cuban woman and she told me last year when Katrina hit that even in Cuba they have a warning system, shelters on higher ground, and in the off season for hurricanes there are drills to evacuate the cities in the event of a hurricane. Basically they have a contingency plan because they understand that every year there will be hurricanes. Now why is it that a third world country and a government with far less sophisticated technology than ours is able to prepare for these disasters and our government isn't? Why is it that the people in Cuba understand what to do when there is an emergency and we don't? We have all these color coded systems and words like "Elevated" and "High Alert" but there is no meaning behind them. When the traffic light is green I know it means go, but what does it mean to be at level Orange or Yellow? As a nation we are so unprepared for disasters.

Wow what a comment huh? I love your podcast because it makes me think :) xoxox

At 12:50 PM, Anonymous Tony said...


I'd loved to have listened to this Podcast all the way through, but couldn't because the Jazz in the background was too distracting.

If you really must use background music (IMHO you don't, you're fabulous enough) can you pick something that's less dynamic?

Sorry to be a nag, I really enjoy your Podcast: thanks for doing it!

ciao for now

At 1:15 PM, Blogger ReMARKable Palate said...

Sorry Tony. The level sounded OK in my ears while I was recording, but upon listening, I realize that it was just a bit too loud. Sorry for that!

Adam, wow, what a comment, and I'm glad that you clarified your position. I agree with you in many ways, and my main point was that given our history, this approach AT LEAST represents a step forward into a desire to understand. Baby steps before leaps. It will set us up to have those conversations about the nuances of human behavior and the mind.

I'd love to have a dialogue about this on the podcast, Adam.

On the Katrina stuff, again, I tried to make it clear that plenty has been said about blame. EVERYONE agrees that the government screwed up. I was using it more to continue the conversation about the concept of personal responsibility in our culture. I believe that as a culture we have abandoned this ideal, both in individual matters and in larger government matters, and that the debacle is actuially a macro example of this at work. I would like to see us all take more responsibility in all aspects of our lives. One of my thoughts is that it's actually encouraging people to abdicate even what little personal responsibility that can get them in action to help themselves by rewarding a culture of victimhood. It's not a simple analysis, nor do I think that it means that we should ignore history and leave people to their own misery.

I'm glad that my late night ramblings at least came out half coherent...

At 11:53 PM, Blogger RambleRedhead said...

As usual another great show - so glad I know you and wish you all the best!

At 9:35 AM, Blogger Michael said...

Great show, Mark, and thanks for the shout-out.

I used to date a twin whose brother was uber-straight. Really, these two were as different as different could be in every way, shape, and form (aside from looking alike) - so I found that portion of the show quite interesting. I'm definitely going to try to track the program, or at least look for some of the reports that came out of it.

At 12:47 PM, Blogger said...

i have to agree with you about people's sense of entitlement in this country. i don't know when it started, but it seems that too many people think that they are "owed" something if they are the victims of a tragedy. (and sometimes not even then!) my comment here is not to address the topic of katrina or any other national tragedy, but to say that i, too have noticed this trend of "what are you going to give ME".
it just makes me think of people who have a terminal illness. i have found that most of the time these are the people who "deserve" the most, yet expect the least. in fact, they seem to be able to rise above their misfortunes and become an inspiration to others. perhaps there is a lesson to be learned about gratitude & grace and being thankful that we are merely alive.

i think that there are some people in this world that just don't get it. thank you so much for opening up this topic for discussion. you know how much i love you and your show!
xo diane

At 2:38 PM, Blogger ReMARKable Palate said...

Thanks for the comments Ramble, Michael and Diane.

Diane, I think you got exactly what I was talking about. I wasn't speaking so much about Katrina as for the trend in society as a whole. We saw alot of that in regard to 9/11 with the firefighters, but also with lawsuits against McDonalds for making people fat. It actually works against the goal of preventing these problems in the first place, and in holding people responsible who really are guilty of negligence or malfeasance.

Remember, the parchment says "Life, liberty, and the PURSUIT of happines", not the guarantee of happiness and that the government has to give you something if you are in a bad position.

If more of us were to realize that we're responsible for ourselves, and that we are truly blessed to be able to live on this planet (and especially those of us who have been born into a prosperous society), we would create an enormous source of power for solving so many problems. This energy would spill over and create the kind of goodwill and charity that people are expecting the government provide. It would also free up alot of resources that are being abused and misdirected, and we could use them to help the truly down and out, and get them to a point where they can take care of themselves.

At 7:49 PM, Blogger andrewf said...

Interesting remarks on gay twins. Did the show use identical twins or non-identical. I'm an identical twin and I'm gay and my brother is straight, so we're usually first on the list for the twins research institute here in Australia for studies. Add to that that we're 'mirror' twins - exact opposites i.e. I'm right handed, Matthew is left handed, personalities, the whole nine yards. So you can see where I would be sceptical about the older brother theory - there's only the two of us (I think Mum thought that was enough!)

Anyways, love the show and look out for mine as soon as I get some time to work it all out!

Cheers, Andrew (from the beautiful Blue Mountains, west of Sydney)

At 8:19 PM, Blogger ReMARKable Palate said...

Hi Andrew, welcome!

The 60 Minutes show had 2 sets of twins. The young children (about 7 or 8) were fraternal boys, one effeminate and the other more "boyish". The older set of twins were identical, one straight and one gay. (and super hotties, BTW)

The older brother theory is just that, a theory. They have observed an unusual number of gay men that had older brothers, and the more older brothers, the more likely. And they certainly did say that it was the only determining factor. (obviously, there are tons of gay guys that are only children, or have sisters, etc.) I just think that it's an intersting observation that may reveal some fascinating hormonal components.

If you're interested, there's an organization called John Ong spoke of it on his podcast in June, and I ran into them at gay Pride in NYC. They are doing a molecular genetic study of sexual orientation. In this case, they're taking blood samples from brothers who are BOTH gay, and doing a DNA study. It should be interesting (outside of any issues of DNA privacy).

Let us know when you get your podcast up and running. I love me some Ozzies!

At 8:21 PM, Blogger ReMARKable Palate said...

They did NOT say that it was the only determining factor. Sorry for the typo

At 12:47 AM, Anonymous DaveinVA said...

Most people in the Caribbean can't go anywhere in a hurricane and there are usually dealths that we don't track. There were countless screw ups with katrinia at all levels, but the Caribbean Islands are not better prepared. I lived in the US Virgin islands and even today there is a lot of left over destruction and abandoned buildings and homes from the last big hurricane and very little rebuilding. I think we have learned from Katrina and will never let that happen again.

I have several theories as to why NO is not progressing in the clean up but will save those for another post. The curent state on NO is shocking. Yet the Mississippi Coast has torn down and cleaned up and they are ready to build the future - difference in political power - might and management. 9trent Lott and Hayley Barbor are political power houses).


At 12:57 AM, Blogger ReMARKable Palate said...

Thanks Dave. I'm interested in hearing about what you have to say.

At 11:35 PM, Anonymous DaveinVA said...


I agree about our culture and the sense of entitlement. Part of the mentality may be derived from the taxes paid to the government. Many Americans believe that taxes are payments towards any help that may ever be needed by the government. Many politicians have fueled this sensation in campaign promises etc. The government does not adequately explain how tax dollars are spent, and too often they go into a general fund where over-spending is common. The US Government does not seem to have a limit on what it can spend. This is not the only reason many Americans feel entitled to government help, but it certainly contributes to the misperception.

At 12:15 AM, Blogger ReMARKable Palate said...

Wow Dave, that's very insightful. It's ironic, though, that the vast majority of taxpayers don't ever really get a direct personal benefit from the taxes they've paid, and often, the people who derive the most direct benefit don't pay much in the way of taxes (on the two extremes, both the super rich and the super poor)


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