May 25, 2019

Game Of Thrones, Race, GRR Martin's Take On Mythology

This is my take on the poignant, social landmark of arts and entertainment in the 21st Century, that is Game Of Thrones. I discuss why it is good mythology and address the Identity Political/Representation issues raised by some about the lack of black people and why it is misplaced.

Hey there, beautiful fellow Human Being!

My name is Jessica Joseph and I am just one of many Game of Thrones geeks (and geek of all things sci-fi, fantasy, political science, philosophy, leading edge thinking and re-evolutionary) living in the Caribbean.

You can find more of my podcasts here:

I am a TEDx alum:

I’ve blogged on Huffington Post:

I’m the Co-Founder of Humanity L.A.B. which will take place in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2020:

I’m a member of the U-SOLVE School of Empathic Leadership & Entrepreneurship

 and part of its first Global Challenges cohort.

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December 15, 2017

Gay Lions And The "Sex For Procreation Only" Argument

Trevor Noah killed me DED with this one. Especially the tongue-tied Hakuna Matata bit (you'll see). 

All laughter aside, I’m embarrassed for Ezekiel Mutua’s ignorance. I’m fearful for any gay person in Kenya who will be subject to his authority over any policies that might affect them. If we’ve learned anything from past atrocities done to our fellow man, they start with absurd notions, like Mr. Mutua’s belief that you will become gay by associating with gays or that therapy can cure someone of being gay or that lions’ sexual behaviour is in any way motivated by or similar to the far more complex, psychosexual make-up of humans. While Trevor focuses on mocking (justifiably so) the absurd homophobia, I want to take the opportunity to educate. So I wrote this.

rocreation is not the only natural/valid function of or use of the sexual organs nor is it the only reason sexual activity happens in the animal kingdom, particularly among the more intelligent, more socially sophisticated of the mammalian species like great apes, great cats, dolphins, canines, and monkeys. These apex/higher mammals often intentionally give and receive sexual stimulation and do so with the same and opposite sex, completely outside the breeding season. Remember, these are the same mammals with enough sentience and intelligence to enjoy play, develop friendships within and outside their species, communicate in their own way, use tools, solve puzzles and even be trained perform tasks for us. Do you really think, they have not figured out (even if not cognitively so) that sexual stimulation feels good and benefits them individually and collectively too?

Viruses, bacteria or insects only need to exist just long enough to procreate and that is all there is to their species’ survival. Apex/higher mammals of higher intelligence who demonstrate more sophisticated social organisation and culture require much more than feeding and replication to be successful as a species. In fact, there are apex/higher mammals who exist in societies where not every member of group gets to procreate, because it is neither necessary nor advantageous to the group for every single sexually mature member to be breeding altogether, all at once. Wolves and wild dogs only allow one breeding pair per group, the alphas with the best genes. All the others contribute to the society in other ways like helping babysit, hunt and protect. This ensures there are always more guardians than infants.
Lots of babysitters to look after the cub.
The cooperation, inclusion, protection and mutually affectionate relationships with others in a society are equally if not more crucial to the survival of the new life born to a selected few. How to create such a community with minimum conflict and maximum cooperation? Well, it helps if there was something that encourages social bonding, improves mood and relieves stress. Something powerful and mutually pleasurable. Something instinctive and easy to give and receive. Something like, well, sexual pleasure. Best of all the benefits occur regardless of whether the stimulation is self-induced or with the same or opposite sex. Want some examples?

Bonobos (pigmy chimpanzees) are known for being the more peaceful cousin of the chimpanzee. One of their secrets is copious amounts of mutual sexual stimulation. While their chimp cousins go on murder sprees and are constantly fighting and squabbling, bonobos are enjoying all kinds of congress. Female bonobos are renown for using sex as a way to make-up after fight by rubbing vulvas together. They also use sex to peacefully settle arguments over food. 

Dolphins in the wild, move as one in almost seamless corporation and communication. They too are known for having sex recreationally regardless of gender. They have even learned to adapt certain sexual roles to ease cohesion. For example, weaned but still, juvenile male dolphins are emancipated by their mothers and driven out of the female pod and have to go in search of a bachelor pod. However, the older males in a bachelor pod can be very territorial, unwelcoming and aggressive to male newcomers. So, when the young male dolphin finds a bachelor pod, he instinctively starts acting like a female that wants to mate. He acts playful, coy and submissive and engages in mating behaviour which tricks the older males into welcoming him into their gang. Dolphins Spy In The Pod, BBC (Available on Netflix if you have it)

Dolphins have a clear distinction between sex for procreation and sex for pair-bonding and pleasure. Breeding females come and go but one's same-sex partners are for life! 

In fact, for many species of dolphin, their bros are their “ride or die” ocean homies, hunting, roaming, playing together for life. Whether in pairs, a trio or a pod, they cooperate with each other, even helping each other mate with any visiting females who are ovulating and in the mood, instead of violently competing over them. In fact, male pair bonding and cooperation instead of competing with each over the proverbial pussy is a major survival strategy for other apex/higher mammals too.
Nothing disturbs the peace of a group; causes mayhem, maiming, and murder quite like when males go crazy with testosterone in response to a female in heat. They get violent and fight for mating rights, dominance, often maiming and killing each other and anyone that gets in the middle of their melee. Violence between males competing over females often kills more of their own than external predators. Baby seals are often crushed in the violent conflict between male elephant seals. Male chimpanzees and lions fighting over females will even target the rival male’s cubs.

This brings us back to these “gay” Kenyan lions. There are incidents where two male lions instead of fighting over a pride of females can harmoniously live together
if one agrees to submit to the other male. This is often demonstrated by one male allowing the other to mount him. This often happens when two lion brothers run a pride together. Instead of fighting and killing each other and each other’s nephews, they can both live longer and contribute to the strength of the group. Now you have two males helping protect, babysit and hunt for the group. More cubs survive and if one male sibling dies, his brother is there as a back-up that shares familial/genetic ties and can protect the pride. Now outsider males who will certainly kill his brother’s cubs are kept at bay. Everyone wins!
These animals are far less intelligent, far less complex in their psychology and hierarchy of needs than humans are. Yet they have figured out how to utilize sexual pleasure, sexual roles and sexual behaviour for their benefit in ways that go beyond reproduction. Homo sapiens, the most intelligent, complex, creative and sophisticated ape on the planet is far too advanced to be having sex just/only for reproduction. In fact, our desire for intimacy and orgasm (alone or with another consenting adult Homo sapien) happens regardless of reproductive cycles, fertility or even desire to procreate. Sexual pleasure serves other functions in our lives. More importantly, look at where we fit into earth’s eco-system.

We are not bottom of the food chain (e.g. wilder beasts or krill) that needs to exist in mass numbers, mindlessly and collectively breeding en masse to feed apex predators. Millions of krill die to feed one whale and thousands of antelope die to support one lion pride. It takes trillions of other species both plant and animal to die to support 7 Billion + Homo sapiens (and rapidly growing despite the existence of and increased rights of LGBT people) especially if we live in an urban, developed society. WE ARE THE PLANET’S APEX PREDATOR.  This natural order means our numbers should never exceed what the planet can sustainably feed. We’ve long past the threshold our planet can support. So much so, it’s not just plants and animals dying to keep us alive but other human beings are dying as well, dying in destructive food chains of imperialism, war, consumerism and greed just to support a certain standard of living. We are at the point of cannibalizing ourselves. 

At this current juncture, our survival on this planet does not depend on increasing QUANTITY OF HUMAN LIVES to feed into this destructive food chain. Our focus should be on humanely and with ecological responsibility increasing QUALITY OF HUMAN LIFE for existing Homo Sapiens and the 360,000 new ones born every day. Yes, 360,000 new human beings were born today! Do you really think that number needs to go up or down? Well, ask yourself, of that number, how many were planned for, welcomed and born into a society where they have sufficient guardians putting their best interest at heart? How many will have all their human needs (food, shelter, clothing, education, health) met and experience peace, inclusion, safety, cooperation, contribution, affection within societies living in balance with their eco-system? This is where our obsession and vigilance should be directed. Not in the bedrooms of consenting adult humans or lions. 

December 06, 2017

Post Surgery Playlists Instead Of Painkillers

My troublesome and unnecessary uterus is finally gone! The surgeon also took the fallopian tubes as that's where ovarian cancer starts, so it's always good to remove them if the opportunity is there. My ovaries are still there and I look forward to my usual hormonal balance returning after three months of chemically induced menopause.

Part of being emotionally prepared for this hysterectomy was being grateful for it and looking forward to life after it. 
Hurray! No more crippling anemia, so bad that not even returning to a meat diet helped. No more violent expulsions of blood and golf ball-sized clots that thankfully, occurred mostly at home, except for those two embarrassing times in my boss' office. No more pain! Pain so intense you wanted to vomit. Every month, those two days, having to call in sick. Done! Finito! Since 
I never wanted kids, nor is motherhood right for me, I had no need to put up with a malfunctioning womb any longer.  The only two things that scared me the most was my post-surgery body and rumors of a hysterectomy belly bulge, a fear which some research and finding recommended exercises alleviated. The second fear was how to get through two months of sick leave. I'm a restless, person who does not do well having to sit or lay still or be bored.
Sick leave is only fun when you are just healthy enough to move around and do fun stuff. Which is why, like any Virgo control-freak, I drew up a post-surgery survival strategy for being genuinely hold up in bed, recovering from two back to back surgeries and not going insane. It was a strategy that involved among other things, an elaborate set of playlists of carefully selected music and movies designed to be my Healing Soundtrack. It’s a good thing I did as I underestimated just how debilitating it would be. Diversion from the pain and the general lameness of the situation was crucial as dwelling on it really takes you into a depression. Actually, my strategy to stay in as good a mood as much as possible was so successful that I did not have to utilize nearly as much of the opioid and anti-inflammatory painkillers prescribed to me. I have an entire box of it unopened. Now I'm wondering why did the doctor prescribe so much! There are constant reports on the opioid crisis in the USA being caused by doctors being far too cavalier about prescribing highly addictive painkillers. I wonder if these addictions start because of not being prepared for the emotional pain and effort involved in healing and self-medicating for it. Anyway, my paranoia about taking the full course of opioids was also another reason for my Healing Soundtrack.

Leaving in good spirits!
It started right after surgery, in the hospital, in fact. I began hearing the Flaming Lips “Do You Realize” while still in my anesthesia haze (my partner Nick was playing it for me, much to the confusion and bemusement of our doctor and the nurses as she later related it to me). I remember fully awakening from the first surgery to the sounds of “Empire Ants” by the Gorillaz featuring Little Dragon playing from the headphones in my ears. After I was released from the hospital, awaiting me at home, were all my pre-selected feel-good music and favorite films that I have not seen in years. I'm going to share my Healing Soundtrack with you. This is not so you copy it exactly as making your own will be a personal exercise. But who knows, you may find some new stuff in mine or remember some songs you have not heard in a while. This is also not an exhaustive list of everything I listened to or watched but just the stuff I really enjoyed or was really beneficial.

Some Of My Favorite Music Herb Alpert- Rise Spyro Gyra- Morning Dance Massive Attack- Mezzanine, Protection Thievery Corporation- Richest Man In Babylon, Saudade, Temple of I & I Radiohead- (Live From The Basement) In Rainbows, Hail To The Thief Gorillaz- Gorillaz, Demon Days, Humanz I was fortunate to find a Youtube upload as well of their live concert in Cologne which was just boss!
Angelique Kidjo- Greatest Hits Ravi Shankar- Greatest Hits Mungal Patassar- Assorted Hits. David Rudder- Greatest Hits
Kes (KTB)- Fallin, People, Incredible, Lion, Voice- Far From Finished Machel Montano- Assorted Songs but Leave Me Alone with Calypso Rose especially DJ Private Ryan Soca Mixes Fleetwood Mac- The Chain Red Hot Chili Peppers- Californication, By The Way, Stadium Arcadium and The Getaway Some Of My Favorite Video Channels It's Okay To Be Smart Kurzgesagt Trini Trent Wisecrack
Jubilee I've not even gotten to the writings, films, documentaries, and cartoons I gobbled up. I don't think I can, although I am doing a write up on one of them, which sparked some creative revelations for me. It was quite something just allowing so much positive media into my space. Wow. I really do recommend it. You don't have to buy into every aspect of holistic healing to know it is rational to believe that your mood plays a role in recovery. So, if you are going under the knife or are ailing, I say, surround yourself with glorious, energetic, joyful, pleasurable experiences as best you can. Unlike painkillers, it is a habit you can continue after you've healed.