Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Sociobiology of Boobage 101

You're at the old site, folks. For the properly formatted version of this post, click here. In 1983, Vincent Sarich taught a course at Berkeley called "The Evolution of Human Behavior." He let us know on the first day that the class was experimental. He had some rough ideas about course content -- some things he wanted to talk about, a handful of ideas he wanted to share. Sounded like good clean fun, and we really did have a blast, too. Professor Sarich (that grizzly teddy bear on the left) was good to his word. He talked, we listened -- and argued with him, of course. For a final exam, he asked us to write three short essays on topics of our own choosing. They had to be somewhat relevant to the course, but beyond that, we were on our own. My three topics: Genius, a maladaptive trait Why are hiccups contagious? The Road Warrior: a sociobiologic perspective I got an A+. Funny thing, though. I've only retained two things from that class. One is a concept: the Tragedy of the Commons (see the Wikipedia article here, or the original article here), which suggests that folks will always choose their own self interest over the common good, even to their ultimate detriment. If you're curious about this, I recommend you start with the Wiki article, since it is shorter than the original article and has considerably more perspective. The other thing I learned in Professor Sarich's class is why men love cleavage. "I want to talk about breasts today," he said, except that with his slight speech impediment it came out "breashts." "Why are they so appealing?" The traditional sociobiological interpretation is that large breasts are desirable because they translate to well fed babies. Sociobiology was big back then. Still is, for all I know. In case you're unfamiliar with it, here's the basic idea. Our behavior is ruled by our genes, and in particular, our genes' desire to pass on more of themselves to the next generation. "But," you argue, "genes are not sentient." Pshaw! Genes don't have to be sentient to find ways of furthering their own interests. Back to boobs. Professor Sarich contended that the sociobiologists were wrong. Men don't love breasts because they want well fed babies. Men crave hooters because of a cross-wiring problem. You see, men get boobs confused with butts:
Recalling that the missionary position is, anthropologically speaking, rare (and dreadfully European), this is the view most men have during sex. Butt cheeks. According to Prof. Sarich, guys crave cleavage because it reminds us of butt cheeks in general, sex in particular. When a woman shows us her décolletage, she's giving us an invitation to the dance. Theories like this are only useful if they can shed light on other inexplicable phenomena. For me, Sarich's idea worked because it explained why, when I was a kid, this old cover for Roald Dahl's James and the Giant Peach
always gave me wood. It's gotta be true. D.


Blogger Tarantula Lady said...

Ehhh, he never told me about this before we got married. Really, really, really.


8/10/2005 09:34:00 PM  
Blogger Douglas Hoffman said...

With that fat rump, those eight beautiful legs, and those nasty fangs, how could I complain?

8/10/2005 09:35:00 PM  
Blogger amanda m. said...


hey, you and i were in berkeley at the same time!
i was at berkeley high though...

8/11/2005 05:46:00 AM  
Blogger Douglas Hoffman said...

I was there '79 to '83. That means you and I know all the characters from that era -- like Willie the Polka Dot Man? Stoney Burke? Depends on how much time you spent hanging around on campus, I guess ;o)

8/11/2005 07:45:00 AM  
Blogger mm said...

Doug - where on earth did you dig up that picture of me in the black bra?

(I LOVE that one!)

8/11/2005 02:42:00 PM  
Blogger Douglas Hoffman said...

Maureen --

You should see the photo I have of you in the Fraulein Eva SS Punisher outfit. Youch! Now, that's hot.

8/11/2005 04:58:00 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

Dear Doug,

Your blog is fun and I would like to read it without fear. However, I am an arachnophobe. Please advise.


8/11/2005 06:59:00 PM  
Blogger mm said...

You're damn right it is. ;-)

8/11/2005 07:06:00 PM  
Blogger Douglas Hoffman said...


Thanks for the smoochies. That's the most extramarital action I've had in I don't know how long. I'd feel better about it if you didn't look three years old ;o)

Don't worry about the spiders. They'll never leap off the screen at ya.

Thanks for stopping by,


8/11/2005 07:07:00 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

Dear Doug,

Yes they will. Or okay, even if they don't, they still gimme the heebie-jeebies and I start getting all hyperventilatey. I like to make up words.

I know they're just pictures and it's irrational, but such is the nature of phobias. Therefore, I request that you not say anything interesting in inches 5-9 of your blog.

Thank You,
Beth "Demanding Reader" Kingston

PS: No offense to you, Tarantula Lady. I'm sure you're a very beautiful spider, if only I could bear to look long enough to appreciate your long legs and furry oh my god I have to throw up now

8/11/2005 07:19:00 PM  
Blogger Douglas Hoffman said...

Hi Beth,

I think desensitization therapy is called for here. Thus, to get you and all the other arachnophobes used to spiders, I'll start with something palatable and work my way up from there. In no time at all, you'll be letting 'em crawl up your arm.

Just remember: they're only dangerous to their mates ;o)

8/11/2005 07:48:00 PM  
Blogger Douglas Hoffman said...

PS Beth:

What's with this no blog thing ya got going?

I checked out your profile. I'm a big Cusack fan, too. Favorites: Say Anything and Grosse Point Blank. Especially Grosse Point Blank. A screenplay so good it makes me want to write screenplays.

8/11/2005 07:52:00 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

Dear Doug,

Let us dispense with this fake letter thing. My blog is here. It's not on my profile because of various Blog Dramatics Of The Soap Opera Variety Throughout the Years. Feel free to poke around. But not with pointy sticks. I have only recently discussed both boobage AND pirates AND why men don't read Romance. Clearly we were separated at birth. Kind of.

It is also home of the official Smart Bitches Day, every Monday. Open invitation to participate.

And forget that desensitizationizing crap because AAAHHHHHH.

In conclusion: The Sure Thing rounds that list out nicely, and I live in John Cusack's neighborhood, and one day he will see me and fall in love. With me, I mean. So there.

8/11/2005 08:08:00 PM  
Blogger Douglas Hoffman said...

Gotcha on my new pals list, Beth. Hope you don't mind.

8/11/2005 09:28:00 PM  
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