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04/02/24 03:15 PM #460    


Bill Kelso

               What the Future Holds for California   

          In case you are interested in what is happening in California, I have posted a demographic study of California’s future population. The following article examined the US Census Bureau ‘s recent study of demographic changes in the country, including changes in the last three years of the state of California as well as an estimate of the state’s future population. As you can see the Census Bureau is projecting significant changes in the number of congressional seats that California will have by 2030.

 The Changing Population of the US. An Article from Website Real Clear Politics  

The U.S. Census Bureau recently released its population estimates for this decade and estimated its impact on the upcoming decennial reapportionment (yes, believe it or not, we are almost halfway through the 2020s).

The census is, at least in theory, a complete enumeration of the American population. It is the first and last word on who is living in the United States – and where – and on how all those people are translated into seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. In the interim, however, the Census Bureau conducts the American Community Survey, or ACS. This is an ongoing sample of the U.S. population, which contacts millions of people each year in an attempt to estimate the ever-changing demographics of American society.

The Future Makeup of Congress

In December, the Census Bureau releases population estimates for the 50 states. These give us an opportunity to form educated guesses about where reapportionment is headed. Based on this new data from 2023, if the reapportionment occurred today, California would lose two congressional seats, while Illinois, Minnesota and New York would each lose one. On the gains side, Arizona, Florida, and Idaho would each gain a seat, while Texas would gain two.

But these are the 2023 estimates; they reflect population growth for the first three years of the decade. What would things look like in 2030 if things proceeded apace?

If these trends continue at their current rates, the 2030 reapportionment would have some of the most dramatic district apportionment shifts in quite some time. Eighteen states would gain or lose districts. California would lose five seats in the House, while New York would lose three. Illinois would lose two, and Michigan, Minnesota, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin would all lose one.

At the same time, Texas and Florida would each gain four seats, while Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Utah would each gain one. Delaware would gain a second district for the first time since the early 1800s.


04/03/24 08:38 AM #461    


Carol (Kurli) Thompson (Mack)

Maybe the shift in population will turn these states purple.

04/05/24 08:55 AM #462    


Bill Kelso

                       What is our Historical Legacy?

           A Summing Up

Over the past year and a half I have tried to write a series of posts for our high school website about how the world had changed since we were young kids. However I quickly realized that I had posted so many notes that maybe it was hard  to remember all of the dramatic change we had witnessed in our lives.

To simplify and hopefully make more sense of these postings, I thought I would try to summarize in one article what has happened to our country during our lifetime. If you wanted to get a quick overview of how the world had evolved, this brief note would hopefully make it easier to remember the major events of the last 60 years. 

To achieve this goal, I have posted two distinct types of history on David’s website. 

Focusing on our High School Days

In the first type of history, I have tried to write about our teenager years during the 1960s. These posts have talked about our what life was like growing up in Sacramento as a teenager. Both Patrick Hassey and Kurli Thompson have provided the inspiration for this concern.  A while back Patrick mentioned that he wanted to talk to his son about growing up in the 1960s, and Kurli mentioned in one of her posts that she enjoyed discussing with her grandchildren her activities as a teenager. In remembering our teenage years we focused on the following six topics that shaped our high school experience:

1.   First, we were one of the first groups of young people who lost our ethnic identity because we lived in a Melting Pot City. Unlike individuals from enclave cities, members of our class who did not grow up in ethnic neighborhoods like Hell’s kitchen or Little Italy, were often unaware of their own ethnic heritage or even the meaning of their own surnames.

2.   Secondly were also part of the first major youth group to identity and subsequently think of themselves as teenagers with a separate culture.

3.   Thirdly, we likewise were the first generation to enjoy privacy in dating as the affluence of our parents enabled us to borrow the family car when seeing the opposite sex.

4.   Fourthly we were also part of that first generation that accepted and eagerly embraced the creation of an integrated racial society.

5.   Fifthly we were also part of that early generation of music lovers who played a major role in promoting novel forms of music today known as Rhythm and Blues and Rock and Roll.

6.   Finally, we were part of the first generation of Americans who enjoyed and popularized the idea of the Hamburger. Besides being part of the Rock and Roll Age, our McClatchy generation helped promote the development of the Hamburger age.

Focusing on our Post High School Days

Besides discussing primarily our high school experience during the 1960s, I also tried to write a second type of history that took a longer historical view. This perspective tried to analyze the social and economic changes that have occurred in American during our entire lifetime. 

Whereas the above posts about the 1960s focused on six or seven years in our earlier lives when we were teenagers, the numerous posts from the previous year focused on how the world we live in has changed since we graduated from high school. While the above posts were meant to help us to relive our lives as young teenagers, the posts of 2023 were meant to help us as senior citizens understand what kind of world we have left our children and grandchildren.

To amplify that point, the earliest articles focused on four developments that have transformed America over the past several decades. They include the topics of 1) Foreign Affairs, 2) Personal Ties, 3) Race Relations and 4) Economic Developments. Unfortunately, not all of these changes have been positive for the average individual nor for the country at large.

Foreign Policy

For example, the first dramatic change in our lives has been the fluctuating role America has played in foreign affairs. The US has evolved from being a 1) peripheral power prior to WWII to 2) being one of two superpowers after the war to 3) emerging as the world’s first superpower in the 1990s to 4) a period of decline in which today the US is merely one of several multi powers, challenged by China, Iran and Russia. That last point has been reinforced by the government’s inept use of “Coercive Diplomacy” to discourage our opponents in Syria, Russia and now China from taking coercive actions against our allies in the Middle East, Ukraine and Taiwan.

Personal and Political Ties

A second major change that affects us more personally has been a real deterioration in in our personal and political ties. If we review poling data from both the Pew Center and Gallup, we find that America has taken a turn for the worse in how we treat one another and view our own country. Among these developments we find that 1) Americans have fewer friends than 60 years ago, 2) that people are less considerate and civil when dealing with other people than in the past, 3) that the country is perhaps more polarized than at any time since the civil war, 4) that Americans, in the words of Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the famous Democratic senator from New York, are increasingly choosing to define deviancy downward, confusing many people as to what is ethical or proper behavior and 5) that our country has been transformed from a high trust to a low trust society in which most Americans no longer have much faith in the integrity or fairness of our major institutions, and 6) finally that increasingly many Americans say that no longer feel proud of their country or feel a patriotic sense of duty to defend it. On both a personal and political level America is going through a toxic rough patch that show no signs of dissipating any time soon.

As people become less civil and more prone to attack one another, it is easy to understand why people have fewer friends, as they become wary of long-term relationships that may be anything but stable, considerate or polite. 

Because the phrase “define deviance down” is probably new to most people, it is worth further discussion. The phrase merely means that behavior which was once considered harmful or criminal or unethical is now considered acceptable behavior. Surprising enough, California is a perfect example of Moynihan’s point. In 2014 California passed Proposition 47 which allowed people to steal up to 950 dollars of goods a day, and face little or no jail time as that offense was reclassified from a felony to a misdemeanor. Deviant behavior that was once condemned and faced severe penalties was defined downward to a minor offense that was rarely prosecuted.

Paralleling the doctrine of defining deviance downward was the doctrine of defining deviance upward. That situation would arise if a person from the 1960s who looked at California in 2014 and argued that the state had lost its moral compass on crime, soon found themselves under attacked as a bigoted individual because of their stance on shoplifting.

What is right and wrong sixty years ago has been turned upside down by 2020. Increasingly we live in a society where public norms about acceptable behavior are in doubt, creating a more unpleasant and uncertain world.

Changing Race Relations

As pessimistic as the above developments in personal ties has been, a positive note has occurred in race relations. A third major development in our American history has been the evolution of more tolerant race relations in the country. Within a year of our graduating from high school, the US government dismantled the Jim Crow laws that existed in the nation.

While in the 1960s America was basically a bi racial society in which 85% of the population was white and 10% of the population was African American, the US was slowly evolving into a Multi Racial Society by the end of the century.  Because of changing immigration laws and the rather rapid decline in the birth rate of whites in the world at large and in America in particular, the white population will probably decline to around 47% of the American population. In contrast, the Asians population will be likely 9%, African Americans will be 14% and Hispanics will constitute anywhere from 25 to 30% of the country’s population. Besides having a greater diversity of ethnic and racial groups, we are also like to see more mixed marriages in the country raising issues of how we racially classify people.

The Changing Economy I

Finally, the fourth major change we examined is how the US, which had been a major industrialized power up until the 1970s, went through several periods of economic deindustrialization. This decline in our country’s manufacturing base transformed the industrial Midwest or parts of the south into what is today called the Rust Belt. 

The people who were hurt the most in this process of deindustrialization were often the children of immigrants from the working class. After all industrialization had been the means by which many immigrant families had escaped the working class and enjoyed the prosperous lifestyle of a middle class family.

Their devastation is reflected in the changing class makeup of the US. While after WWI over 61% of the public was considered middle class, the number dropped to around 50% by the 21st century. While admittedly part of that changing class structure reflected more people moving into the upper class, it left over 29% or close to a third of all Americans in the lower class. Billie Joel captured the plight of the working in America in his famous ballad “Allentown.”

If the economic hardships were not enough, by the year 2005 the working class were also under political attack. Besides having lost well paying jobs, the working class were now often attacked as deplorables and depicted as the beneficiaries of some unspecified privileges. 

While in the 1970s many people had felt compassion for the workers of Allentown who saw globalization destroy their livelihood, by the year 2010 many of those same people dismissed the working class as threats to the well being of society. This startling change in their status in roughly 40 years only added to blue collar worker's sense of dismay and alienation from American society. In light of the fact that many working-class families were often looked down upon as living in fly over territory, they quickly realized that many in the political system no longer cared about their well being. In place of respect and concern, which many political elites once showed for the welfare of the working class, today they often choose to ignore the dire economic situation of the working class.

The Changing Economy II

But if I) deindustrialization and 2) the shrinking of the middle class and the growth of the lower class were the main economic stories of America from 1970 to the turn of the century, two very different changes have characterized the economy since 2020. 

While these new emergent trends have yet to fully run their course, they may very well signify a significant shift in the economic and political makeup of the country. The south which was once an minor player in America’s successful post war economy, may now become the economic power house which fuels further economic development in the country.

1)A Major Demographic Shift in the Nation’s Population. 

The first of these two changes which we just hinted at in the last post and will expand in the next post is a dramatic shift in the demographic makeup of the US. We are beginning to see a major shift in the country’s population from the west and east coast to the south. That demographic change may significantly alter the distribution of political power in Washington as both the west and east coast lose representation and the south gains more congressional seats

2) A Major Shift in the Economic Makeup of the Economy

The second major change is the significant change in the preferences of businesses for where they wish to run their operations. Increasingly we are seeing more and more companies choosing to leave states like California, Illinois and New York while shifting their plants to a variety of southern states.  In the same way that the demographic makeup of the country will likely change, it is possible that the makeup of the country’s economy will experience a parallel change, essentially altering the country’s political culture. 

To appreciate this development, we should realize that the shift in the location of American companies covers the gamut from firms specializing in computer software to movie houses producing films to financial industries investing people’s retirement funds. 

The major industries that have up to now defined California as well as New York may soon start departing for the more business friendly states in the south.  For instance, in a major blow to California’s silicon valley, we now see companies like Oracle and Hewlett and Packard moving much of their hardware and software design from California to Austin and Houston Texas. Likewise, in the film industry, we increasingly see Atlanta Georgia producing as many if not more movies than Hollywood in some years. Atlanta Georgia may soon come to rival Hollywood as the movie capitol of America. 

Finally, if we focus on the east coast rather than the west coast, we see Miami giving New York City a run for their money as the financial capitol of America. If you want an investment banker or a hedge fund to park your retirement funds, you may find that they are increasingly headquartered in Miami rather than New York city.  If these trends continue in the next decade or so we may find that part of the territory once called fly over territory or home to the deplorables has been transformed into fly to Territory.

While Silicon Valley and Hollywood once distinguished California while New York’s Financial district once set New York apart from the rest of the country, both areas run the risk of being eclipsed by a growing and increasingly prosperous south.

04/05/24 12:42 PM #463    


Bill Kelso


A Declining California & A Rising South

      The Changing American Economy


In the previous post, we tried to summarize most of the major changes that have occurred in American history during our lifetime. However, while we previously have examined how America’s economy changed from the 1970s to the 1990s, our present knowledge needs to be significantly updated. As is obviously the case, our understanding of the national financial situation is incomplete if we do not study how the economy has evolved over last two decades. 


The Rise of the South and the Fall of the West and East Coast


If deindustrialization and the changing makeup of the middle class were the key economic issues of past decades, today the major financial story is the demographic transformation occurring in the former states of the old confederacy. Our country’s economy is currently beginning yet another major geographical transformation that will dramatically alter the political and economic landscape of the country. On the one hand we are seeing the demographic and economic decline of both the west and east coast including California and at the same time we are seeing the emergence of the South as a major economic and political force in the country.


Because these changes have primarily occurred in the last decade, we have only recently become aware of how our economy is starting to develop. Fortunately, organizations like the Census Bureau as well as economists and reporters from a variety of institutions including Stanford, have started to gather enough data that we can finally draw a tentative picture of these newly emerging trends in America.


1)The Changing Demographic Makeup of America.


                           2020                   1960                   1910


Northeast            17.7%                 24.4%                 28%


Midwest             20.7%                 28.7%                 32%


West                   23.7%                 15.7%                 7.6%


South                  38.4%                 30.6%                 31%


For instance, if we look at the above chart, we see that the distribution of the nation’s population has changed over time, sometime dramatically. Over the past 200 years or so, the major changes in population have primarily concerned the Northeast and Midwest. But today the major shift in population involves both the east and west coast as well as the South.


But to provide some context for this discussion, first look at the declining share of the population located in the Northeast.  Over the last hundred years or so the number of individuals in the Northeast have declined from 28% to 17.7% of the American population while the population of the Midwest which was the heart of Industrial America has dropped from close to 29% of the country’s population to 20%. The result should not surprise us for as the US deindustrialized, many former blue collar workers moved from the Midwest to other states in search of work.


However, the most dramatically story of the post 1960s has been the growth of California. For about 50 years California was the Golden state, the land of opportunity that attracted millions of new residents. However, by 2000 the miracle of California began to fade, and its population growth began to stall out. In the last census of 2020 California failed to keep up with population increases in the South and actually lost one congressional seat. But the Census Bureau is now suggesting that the relative decline of California’s population has accelerated in the last couple of years and that California may now lose 5 congressional seats by 2030.


As California has declined the South has boomed. As the above chart indicates population growth in the South jumped from around 30% of the American population to 38% by 2020. The Census Bureau is now suggesting that the South’s share of the country’s population is rapidly growing and may be over 40% of the country’s total census by the end of the decade.


The most surprising development in this growth spurt in the South  is its popularity among African Americans. Starting in the late 1970s African Americans started moving out of New York and Illinois to the South and in the last two decades they have started moving out of California. Today roughly 60% of all African Americans have chosen to lives in the states of the south.


What is interesting is that the west coast seems to have little appeal to African Americans. Presently only 2% of people in Oregon,  4.6% of individuals in Washington State and 5% of Californians are black. In contrast, around 13% of Texas, 18% of Florida and 30% of Georgia are African American.


2)The Changing Economic Makeup of America


a.The Problems facing California.


If the shift in the country’s population is an interesting story, an even more dramatic change in our economy is the growing migration of American business firms out of states like California, Illinois and New York to the South.


In the case of California, the number of businesses moving out of the state covers the gamut including movie studies, manufacturing plants, computer software and hardware companies and financial firms.


Movie Studios

For instance, Atlanta is fast becoming the Hollywood of the South and in 2023 it made 390 productions with 31 studio films and 55 independent made films. In 206 it actually made more films than did Hollywood. Recently over 7 film studies have made their headquarters in Atlanta.


General Firms including Silicon Valley Companies

But the out migration is not limited to movie studies. In one of the oldest studies, the Relocation firm Spectrum Location Solutions claims that 10,000 business of all types either left or reduced their operations in the state between 2008 and 2015.


More recently economists at Stanford found that 352 California companies moved to other states in three years from 2018 to 2021. They also claimed that the data indicated that the outmigration from California was accelerating. Among the most notable companies to leave was Oracle, the third largest software company in the world by revenue which elected to move its Redwood City headquarters to Austin Texas.


That major loss was followed the following year by Hewlett Packard, one of the major firms that helped established Silicon valley which also decided to move its operations from San Jose to Houston Texas. 


Manufacturing Plants

In addition to computer firms, California has also lost significant manufacturing jobs. For example, from 2010 to 2021Tesla manufactured cars in Fremont California and employed over 20,000 workers. However, by the late 2020s Tesla, like an increasing number of California companies closed their operation in California and elected to build clectrical vehicles in Austin Texas.


Financial Companies

Besides losing general American companies, California as well as New York have lost many of its hedge funds and investment firms. As proof of that comment, six months ago Bloomberg financial news reported that since the year 2019, 158 financial companies that had responsibilities for investing and managing close to a trillion dollars had moved out of the state of California.


Retail Stores
Finally the state has lost a significant share of its retail business. In June of last year the San Francisco Standard, an on line newspapers reported that the number of retail stores in Union Square alone decreased from 207 to a mere 107. Among the stores closing were the Legos Store, Adidas, and Nordstrom. 


Things were so bad that the San Francisco Chronicle, normally a cheer leader for all of California’s public policies, even ran an editorial that asked “Is San Francisco a Failed State?” They also ran a whole series of articles about a doom loop in California as things deteriorate, more companies move out which only exacerbates the decline of the city.


b. The Rise of the South


While the outmigration of companies from states like California is dramatic it is only part of a larger story. And that story is the growing shift of economic power and companies to the states in the old confederacy. If present trends continue, we will probably see the south displace the west as the major source of economic growth in the country over the next couple of decades. That development is stunning.


During the 1940s the south was an incredibly poor part of the country troubled by the bigotry of Jim Crow. In fact the region was so poor, when the US had to fight Germany during WWII, most of the new army and marine bases were built in the South because the land was so cheap. The most famous of those bases is what use to be called Fort Bragg in North Carolina where our famous Delta Force is located which specializes in counter terrorism and hostage rescue.


But the rise of the South should not necessarily surprise us.  In our country, different regions have been the dominant force in our economy during different periods in our history. When we were first formed, the Northeast was the richest area in the country only to be displaced by the Midwest when America industrialized at the start of the 20thcentury.


Likewise the Golden Age of California, which lasted some 50 years from the 1950s to 2000, now seems to be coming to a close. But we should not be surprised by these results as California is well known for its hostility to business. In several surveys spanning numerous years California has consistently scored as either having the worse or second to worse climate for business out of all the 50 states. Those findings have had little impact on Sacramento. In the last two decades California’s legislature and governor has chosen to do very little to make their states more attractive to American companies.


Unfortunately the state of California also seems to be troubled by numerous social issues. In the 1960s when Lyndon Johnson set up a commission to study poverty in America, the poorest population in America were the Scotch Irish living in Appalachia.  However today 60 years later, California has displaced Appalachia as the region with the worst poverty rate in the country. Similarly, California is in the top three state for the most unequal distributions of income and it also has the largest homeless population in the nation.


Unanswered Questions


But this whole discussion of changing population and business patterns leaves one question unanswered. In reaction to the last post Kurli Thompson raised the perceptive question as to what does the out migration from states like California and New York mean politically? Will the out migration of people from California to states like Florida or Texas alter their more conservative political orientation and turn the state purple or even perhaps blue.


Because Kurli raises such an interesting question, we could try in another post to analyze the issue in more detail. But we have to realize that the question Kurli asks is an empirical issue and the only way to correctly answer it is to wait and see what the election data in the next few elections tells us. Thus the most definite answer to her query is that it is too early to tell.  However given our age, we may not be around to see what happens in future elections. We can thus use whatever data is currently available and speculate where we lack data. For instance, in the 2020 midterm elections Republicans in states like Florida, Texas and Georgia swept the election and, in the process, managed to control both branches of the legislature as well as all of the state wide elected office. That result suggest that the inmigration of people has had little impact on the electoral politics of the above states. But to know if this trend will continue, we again need data from several more elections. 


If we take Kurli’s question and broaden it, we can actually speculate about the future political direction of both California as well states like Florida. Besides asking if people moving from California to the South will turn these states purple, we can reverse the question and ask if people and businesses moving out of California and New York will turn these blue states more reddish.


If a state like California also has a high poverty rate, a large homeless population and numerous African Americans and American businesses abandoning the state, will people be willing to change their voting habits. Another possibility is that the out migration may embolden more moderate Democrats to try to wrestle power away from more Progressive Democrats. More moderate Democrats might be less hostile to business and more opposed to Progressive policies that define deviance down such as defunding the police or letting shop lifters walk scott-free.


Again, if we are willing to wait, we should know the answer some time in the next decade. But given our age, we probably won’t have the opportunity to see the results.  That leaves us with the option of just speculating about various scenarios. The process can be fun. But every possibility is just that a possibility. Unless we are incredibly long living members of the class of 1963, we will probably won’t be around to correctly answer Kurli’s interesting question.

04/06/24 06:36 PM #464    

Susie Weidman (Arnold)

Bill, thank you so much for your informative posts.  We are so fortunate to have our own in house professor.  Good to still be learning at our age, best to you, Susie 

04/06/24 08:49 PM #465    


Tim Kleeman

Hi Bill, I hope you realize that some of us that do not post-or even go online for that matter that often, really enjoy your insights. Please keep posting Bill. You're a good man and citizen! Thank you

04/07/24 04:41 AM #466    


Bill Kelso

Just want to thank Susie and Tim for their nice comments. Over the years I have exchanged many wonderful letters with Susie who is a dear friend. 


It was also nice to be back in touch with Tim again. I wanted to tell Tim how much I enjoyed his comments a year or two ago when our friend Bennie Sargis passed away. At that time we were discussing how Bennie had perfected his ability to break into California Jr. high, enabling our class to play basketball in the school’s gym during the weekends.


At that time I think everyone at Cal thought that Benny was probably the finest two story individual Cal had ever produced. Nobody else ever came close to having Benny’s B and E skills. 


Because Benny’s hijinks quickly become widely known, many members of our Jr. high class started showing up for the recurring basketball weekend games.  


When Tim mentioned that he had participated in those games, I distinctly remembered playing with him in those pickup games. As a result his comments brought back a lot of great memories about jr. high. 


At that time none of us had cell phones, video games or streaming, but who needed it. With Benny, we had the better option of playing in a posh junior high gymnasium protected from the outside elements.  In discussing our weekend basketball games at Cal, Tim recalled one of the most pleasant aspects of life in jr. high. 

04/11/24 07:56 AM #467    


Bill Kelso

                  A McClatchy Reunion Theme Song

When I opened the “In Memory” section the other day and saw Lynn Anderson’s name, I was really saddened. In my senior year I sat across from Lynn as well as 

Robert Moeckly in Mr. Lindberg’s science class and when I joined the website, I was hoping to contact Lynn. However, because she never joined the McClatchy website I had no way to get in touch with her.

When I looked at all the students who had died in just the first 3 ½ months of 2024 it was hard to be optimistic about the future. It seemed like we were losing a classmate every 3 weeks or so. 

Because the news was so depressing, I thought I would look for some positive news to offset the news about our classmates who were no longer with us.

To achieve that goal I started looking at videos of the TV show Glee which was about a bunch of high school students who sang and performed in their Glee club at their high school of McKinley high.

A Theme Song for our Reunion

Very quickly I found this song originally sung by Diana Ross but in this video performed by Amber Riley, one of the best young singers in America. It seemed to me to both a poignant as well as happy song about kids graduating from high school. It thus appeared to be a perfect theme song for a high school reunion.

Someday we will be together,vid:C1X0E4AiNZA,st:

It is also a wonderful video that illustrates the importance of high school friendships as well as the importance of staying in touch.

Because Amber Riley is such an impressive and powerful singer with incredible range, I added two other videos of her to this post. 

Maybe it is a stretch but they also illustrate problems we all have to face in attending high school.

The Importance of Being Resilient. 

For instance in the following song “I am Beautiful” which was written by Candice Glover tells the story of a young person who refuses to believe negative things thought about her. In the lyrics of the song, we are told that words will not bring us down, that in effect we will be resilient. The record is important because many think our generation was trained to be much more resilient than Millennials or Gen Z. Where as colleges today tell young  people today that they need safe spaces and should worry about Micro aggressions, Amber Riley expresses the need for young people to believe in themselves. Or to repeat the above point “What ever happens do not let word bring your down today.”

You are Beautiful. The Main Theme of the Show


The Importance of Treating others with Consideration

Finally a third Amber Riley’s recording you might like is her rendering of Otis Redding’s song “Try a Little Tenderness”. This song reflects probably both a short coming in our generation as well as that of young people. That is the tendency of people to show a lack of tenderness or concern for other people. In our very polarized and low trust world, it would be nice if people were more thoughtful of others.

Mercedes singing a song from Otis Redding

If you liked these videos of kids at McKinley they can perhaps be a model for our next reunion. Besides enjoying the company of our fellow classmates, we can also appreciate the need to be resilient as well as considerate of the people we grew up with.

If at the next class get together the reunion committee is going  to play any music, they may want to consider “Someday we will be together” as the theme of our high school reunion.  

04/14/24 07:55 PM #468    

Diane Hinesley (Malone)

Hi Bill, Thank you for your posts, they take me and perhaps others down memory lane.Hair styles, Lanz dresses, Vic's hot dog sandwiches, Glee Club, and friendships, many still contact today.
Like Tim I do not check our web site as often as I should. Do keep posting it helps in keeping we from the class of "63" in touch. Diane Hinesley Malone

05/03/24 06:26 AM #469    


Bill Kelso

                History of Dance in Popular American Music.

A while back Francis mentioned that he liked to talk to his son about growing up in the 1960s. One of the most unusual  occurrences during that time was the invention of the dance called the Twist and its many derivatives such as the Swim and the Locomotion. I recalled that period when Linda and I recently looked at pictures of our relatives dancing the Watusi and the Locomotion at the wedding of our nephew hosted by a DJ playing tunes from the1960s a few years back. We naturally laughed and thought the pictures were priceless.

Because we laughed so much it dawned on me that maybe our McClatchy class of 63 be might also be interested in understanding how our generation danced compared with people in the 20s, 40s, 70s, 80s, 90s as well as the 21st century. We also wanted to show that as music changed in America so did popular dance steps.

To put this discussion in some context and to connect it with previous posts, in the following links we tried to show how both singers of Rhythm and Blues and then secondly the public changed dance styles from one decade to the next.

1.The Various Types of Singer Song Dances

In looking at the dance moves of singers we have to recognize that this type of dance in America originated with the development of African American music. Unlike western music, African music has never made a distinction between music and dance. Thus in Africa when people sang they simultaneous danced.

However, when African Americans started to sing professionally in the United States, they followed the American tradition and initially just stood straight while belting out their songs. After all most African America rarely danced to Jazz or the Blues. But as Black music evolved from Jazz to Rhythm and Blues, many black recording artists started reverting back to their national heritage by dancing while singing. In the course of moving their bodies while singing, black artists came up with a variety of unique dance steps to enhance their particular sound.

In the follow video links we can see how Chuck Berry first revived traditional African dance by developing the duck walk. 

After Chuck Berry African American singers such as the Temptations to Michael Jackson devised a wide variety of dance styles.

A.The Song And Dance Routines of Black Artists. Notice how each singer has his own unique dance style. 

To appreciate the diversity of how singers sought to express themselves we can watch the following 1) videos of Chuck Berry as he developed his Duck Walk, 2) following by the Temptations, one of the most successful Motown groups, who are in turn are followed by 3) James Brown who was a sensation in his day, 4) followed by Michael Jackson who created the Moon Walkl and MC Hammer with his unique dance style.  5) To appreciate the above videos we need to also watch the dance moves of Elvis Presley, a white singer who also performed and danced like a black artist.  Finally to appreciate the differnce between white and black singers, we can  finish this segment with a 6) video  of Bobby Rydell singing Volare. While Bobby Rydell has great hand gestures and can swing his hips a little, he, like most white singers, is not much of a dancer. 

1)Chuck Berry as he experiments with the Duck Walk

Chuck Berry and the Duck Walk

The above video of Chuck Berry is worth viewing if you simultaneously want to see how our generation danced. Watch the guy in the white suit and the girl in the white skirt with black circles to the left of Chuck Berry. When you look at how our generation danced, it is hard to know whether we should be amazed or embarrassed. 

The only time I have danced like this in the last 40 years occurred at my nephew’s wedding I discussed above. Halfway through the dance, my many cousins asked me if I knew how to do the Swim or the Watusi. I said yes as I had been young once. Most of my younger relatives looked at me in disbelief as they insisted that I had always been at least 70 years old. To demonstrate that they were wrong, Linda and I got on the dance floor. But before we started to dance, we confiscated the phones of all of our relatives so that there is no permanent record us acting like teenagers from the 1960s.

2) Chuck Berry and Johnny B Good

3) Motown. The Temptations

Video of Motown swingers

4) James Brown

James Brown on the ED Sullivan Show

5) MC. Hammer

. MCHammer Singing and Dancing

6) Michael Jackson and the Moon Walk

Michael Jackson and the Moon Walk

7) Elvis Presley

Elvis and different types of Dances

8)Bobby Rydell singing



2. Popular Participatory Dances. How our generation was different from other generations.

The second form of dancing has generally involved couples dancing traditional moves like the waltz or the polka. In Africa, in contrast, dancing rarely involved couples. In place of two people dancing with one another, much dancing was either communal involving a whole line of people or else it was individualistic dancing in which one person shows off a whole array of moves. Because many of these individualistic dances involves a lot of pelvic activity, many westerns felt African dance steps were lascivious. However, Africans argued that since individuals danced by themselves and rarely touched someone from the other sex, their moves were more restrained than western dances.

Given our unique Western European as well as African American heritage it should not surprise us that in America the dance scene is very eclectic. Much of swing dancing from the 1940s involves couples and is very physical as the two dance partners end up twisting and rolling over one another. In contrast much of the dancing in the 1960s are variation on the twist. While nominally two people are dancing with one another, they in effect rarely touch one another as each individuals shakes and twists all by himself. 

If we look at the videos you will also see that the Charleston and Swing dance of the 1920s through the 1940s required the dancers to be fairly athletic. The same goes for Disco dancing in the 1970s with the advent of the Hustle. In contrast the dances of the 1960s, which many of our generation performed on shows like the Dick Clark Show, required little skill. If you review the dance steps of the last several decades it is fair to say that our generation will probably not be remembered for its dancing. The oppositive is probably true of the 1940s generation who popularized swing dancing.

To appreciate this variety of dance styles in America we will look at the seven main types of popular dance that have dominated the 20th and 21st century. They include: 1) The Charlestown Dance which is associated with early Jazz or Dixieland Jazz, 2) Swing Dance also called the Linde Hop or the Jitterbug, which is associated with the Big Band Era or Swing Jazz 3) the dances of the 1960s which are variations on the Twist and associated with Rhythm and Blues and Rock and Roll, 4) Country Dancing which is a retro form of dancing similar to swing dancing, and was popular from the 1920s to the present,  5) Disco dancing, which naturally reflect the development of the sub-genre of R and B called Disco music and was popular in the 1970s, 6) Break Dancing which is associated with the rise of Rap of Hip Hop Music in the 1980s and  1990s and finally the development of 7) Rave dancing which is connected to the development of Electronic Dance Music in the 21st century.

A. A quick summary of the dance types over the last 100 years.

1. Jazz. The Charleston: The Dance of the1920s

Dixieland Jazz.     The Dance of early Jazz or Dixieland Jazz is the Charleston.

2. Big Band JazzThe Swing Dance of the 1940s and the Big Band Era

The Dance of Big Band Jazz is called Swing Dance or the Linde Hop which is also known as the Jitterbug. In Europe Swing dance is also known as Boogie Woogie dance.

3. Rhythm and Blues and Rock and  Roll Music.  Its main dance is the twist but with time there are many variations on the Twist such as the Locomotion or Swim. These dances are popular from the 1950s to the early 1970s.

The Dance of R and B and Rock and Roll is the twist and its many variation such as the Swim or the Watusi.

4. Country Dancing As we shall see there are three main types of country dancing: Clogging, Line Dancing and Couples Dancing. These dance steps were popular from the 1920s to the Present.

Clogging, Line Dancing or Couple Dancing. Country Couple dancing has many similarities to Swing Dancing of the 1940s.

5. Disco Music. The Hustle: The Dance of the 1970s.

A sub genre of R and B is Disco music. Its main dance style is the Hustle. It stresses dancing more than traditional Rhythm and Blues.

6. Rap or Hip Hop Music. The Break Dance steps of the 1980s

The dance of Rap or Hip Hop is Break Dancing which is a form of entertainment dancing rathe than participatory dancing. 

7. Electronic Dance Music. The dance of Electronic Dance music is Rave Dance and it was popular during the 21st Century. 

B. Examples of the above Dance Types

1. Dixieland Jazz and its main dance the Charlestown. The 1920s

1) A Major Charleston Dance routine

Another Charleston Routine

2) Charleston Demonstration

2. Swing Jazz. The Dance Moves of the 1940s

Two videos. The European version of American Swing Music is called Boogie Woogie. 

Swing dancing which is also known as the Linda hop or Jitterbug is known for:

a. Aerials (lifting and throwing one’s partners over one’s back) called a roll over move. 

b. Abundant spins and swivels and 

c. Plenty of twists and turns and 

d. Pull throughs where the guy pulls his partner through his legs.

1)Swing Dance of young couples

Swing Dance with Young Couples

2)Swing Dances from the Movies

Swing dances from the Movies

3. Rhythm and Blues as well as Rock and Roll. Dances.  Popular from the 1950s to early 1970s.

Five Videos.  

1)The 1950s. At this point Jim Crow still exists in the US. But you can see teenagers begin to challenge segregation by adopting both Black music and dance. This clip is from the movie Hairspray.

Hair Spray. An Introduction

2)Tradition Dancers on Dick Clark in 1964 who were one year young than we were in 1964. We now see a change from the 1950s as Dick Clark has black dancers on the show. 

Also notice all of the women with a Bouffant Flip hair style. Even if you did not know the year this was filmed, all the bouffant flip hair styles would tell you it was sometime in the 60s. Among our classmates perhaps 30% of the women wore bouffant flips.  

3) Learn the dance steps of the 1960s

Dances of the 1960s

4) More Dance Examples from the 60s. Different Forms of the Twist

5)The Nitty Gritty

The Nitty Gritty of the 1960s

4. Disco Dancing. The Dance Moves of the 70s. This styles of dance is called the hustle. Two Videos

Several main steps including:

a.Finger pointing up 

b.Roll it up

c. Chicken Wing

d. Kick Ball Chain

1)Examples of Disco dancingExamples of Disco Dancing

2) The Main Steps of the Hustle, the main dance of disco

5.Country Music and the Rise of Country Dancing. 1920s to the present. There are three types of country dancing. 

Country dancing has been popular from the 1920s. It involves Clogging to Line Dancing which was popular in the 90s to Couple Dancing which has always been popular among country fans.


When the Scotch Irish came to America they revived the dance habits of their native country but they modified it and called it clogging. Clogging refers to the dancers being in synch with the beat of the song. Like people in Ireland the Scotch Irish were incredibly poor and lacked the instruments to have a full band. They compensated for their lack of instruments by using their feet to make music. 

Like Blacks who invented both tap dancing, as well as Doo Wop music which is acapella, the Irish used alternative measures such as using their feet to make up for their lack of musical instruments

If you watch these videos carefully you will also see that Irish dances have loud and elaborate rhythms. That is unusual because generally western music stresses melody and harmony and not rhythm. 

2) Country Line Dancing. This type of dancing was popular in the 1990s.

Wilson and country line dancing

3)Couples Country Dancing

V)deo of Country Dancing

6.Rap and Break Dancing. Popular form of dancing in the 1980s

Four key elements

a. First is the Top rock in which a dancer shows off his moves standing up.

b. Second is the down rock in which the dancer demonstrates his versatility while on the ground

c. Third is the power move as the dancer demonstrates his strength by standing on his hands

d. The fourth move is the freeze moves where his remains frozen for a minute or two.

Don’t try this dance if you are in your seventies..

1)Examples of Break Dancing

Rap or Break Dancing

7.Electro Music and Rave Dancing Popular in the 21st Century 

In the following video you have to turn on the sound.

1)Short Video of a Rave 

Video of a Rave dance

2) Various Dance Moves to use at a Rave Dance

The Moves of Rave Dance

3)Rave Dance in the Netherlands. A rather elevated and overblown view of the benefits of rave dancing. 

Rave dance in the netherlands




05/04/24 09:39 AM #470    

Allison Oakes (Sabraw)

Bill Kelso:

Wow oh wow - loved the music update !!!

I will lookforward to read again - THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME !  Allison

05/12/24 08:59 AM #471    


Bill Kelso

                  The Development of American Music

Because, one of my greatest joys was listening to music when I was younger, I thought about posting yet another note about music on the McClatchy website.  But I was not sure how many of our classmates either enjoy listening to music or are interested in the subject. 

However, I remembered from a recent post that our very nice and friendly classmate Barbara Alexander expressed an interest in music in an earlieer discussion of Rhythm and Blues. I likewise recalledl from several earlier exchange of letters with several other classmates that there are at least a handful of people who get a lot of enjoyment out of listening to music.

As I indicated above, that certainly included me. I know when I was in Cal Jr. High, my brother and I really enjoyed spending our Saturdays at Tower records listening to music and using our allowance to buy records. After pooling all of our money at the end of the seventh grade we were even eventually able to buy a record player which enabled us to listen to our collection of 45 records before falling asleep. 

Based on the above recollections, I decide to write a brief outline about one of the most important developments of music in American life which is the development of jazz.  I hope that at least some members of our class might enjoy listening as well as reading about the development of this unique form of music. While we have previously talked about how our generation of the 1960s helped create and sustain the two forms of music today known as Rhythm and Blues as well as Rock and Roll, hopefully our class may likewise find it also of interest to know what kind of music teenagers enjoyed in the decades before us.

To achieve that goal, I wrote a brief discussion of the various types of jazz music. In the 40 years from the middle of the 1920s to the 1960s jazz went through several major development and today there are basically four main types or genres of jazz music. 

While some of this music may be unfamiliar to many people. I tried to find links that would at least allow you to hear what the music was like. Hopefully after listening to different forms of jazz, you will come to enjoy this uniquely American form of music.




05/12/24 09:05 AM #472    


Bill Kelso

                       The Role of Popular Music in America

Today music is a major form of entertainment in America. For many people from all walks of life, music plays an important role in their lives. To help us understand why that is the case, we shall briefly look at two issues before studying in more detail jazz music. First we shall ask where much of popular American music originated.  We may be surprised that initially most of American popular music came from one particular region of the country. Not until the second half of the 20th century did the rest of the country get involved in developing new styles of music. 

Secondly, we shall examine why so many Americans have fond memories of listening to music. Surprisingly we shall find that beside providing tremendous personal satisfaction to individuals listing to their favorite artists, American music has also been a vehicle by which groups, especially minority and ethnic groups, have been able to achieve an identify that gives them some dignity or status in society. At the same time, we shall find that music has often become caught up in the political disagreements that affect our country. As the US has become more polarized, certain types of music including certain types of jazz have fallen either in or out of favor over time.

                                     The Origins of Popular Music in America

Presently, if you want to know the origins of much of American popular music, you just need to learn the names three cities: New Orleans, Nashville and Memphis.

To understand the significance of these streets we have to talk about the role the south has played in developing American popular culture. While today there is much news about how many companies like Hewlett Packard and Oracle have moved their operations to the south, these news announcements should not overshadow the role the south has played in developing American music. 

In the 20th century, the first sign that the south was finally starting to confront and eventually overcome its legacy of poverty and racial oppression was reflected in its development as a major center of musical creativity. Beginning around 100 years ago, in cities as disparate as New Orleans, Nashville and Memphis the south developed three unique forms of music which today we know as Jazz, Country Music and Rhythm and Blues. In addition, the south developed a fourth type of music, Black Gospel Music, which arose in a variety of churches in numerous cities in both the south and north. It was not until the later part of the 20th century that cities outside the south contributed to the evolution of the various forms of American music. However, in this post we will only look at the origins and development of jazz in the late 1920s, the major form of popular music in America before the rise of Rhythm and Blues.

                                        The Impact of the Germans 

Prior to this date, German Americans in particular and Europeans in general as well as the military had shaped American music. The Germans after all had dominated European music for three centuries, from the 17th to the 19th Century, as they had developed Baroque, Classical and Romantic Music.

                                       A New Musical Adventure.

However beginning by the 1920s, African Americans in the deep south as well as the Scotch Irish in Appalachia developed alternative musical traditions which soon began to rival and then helped transformed classical forms of music popular in major cities. The fact that two marginal ethnic groups in society, with limited power and influence, should be so successful was unexpected. As we mentioned before, the growth of a unique and large youth culture first in the 1920s and secondly in the 1960s partly explains this dramatic transformation in American musical tastes.

                                               The Rise of Jazz

Of the four types of major music developed in the south, jazz was one of the earliest forms of music to develop in the old confederacy, arising in the middle of the 1920s. Before jazz, blacks had achieved some fame with the growth of what is today called Rag Time. However with the invention of jazz black music achieved nationwide appeal. As we have seen many novelists and historians even named the decade of the 1920s in America as the Jazz age.  

And as everyone knows, the first form of jazz which is called Dixieland Jazz or Hot Jazz developed in New Orleans. The raises the obvious question as to why New Orleans was such a center of creativity? The answer is that unlike most areas in the South, New Orleans was a cosmopolitan town with a very diverse population. New Orleans, in the aftermath of WWI, also had had a large military brass band entertaining the public, thus exposing African Americans to a whole array of new instruments. Historically most African Americans had a musical tradition that relied on percussion instruments like drums as well as various string instruments. But in New Orleans, blacks could now try playing new instruments like the clarinet, trumpet, saxophone and tuba. 

Before you knew it the African American community had developed funeral bands as part of their native culture to honor member of their community who has passed away. However given the musical talent in the black community, many black artists started using their new brass instruments to entertain people as well as to honor the dead. Besides being part of funeral processions, jazz became a popular form of music in the black community because people could dance to it and entertain themselves.  Unfortunately, in light of the novelty of the music, and its secular nature, the earliest and most popular venues for playing jazz were in the Cat houses on the outskirts of town. 

The Rise of Dixieland or Hot Jazz.

In light of the harshness of Jim Crow laws and the difficulties of living in a highly segregated society, many black artists eventually decided to leave the south and move to the north, primarily Chicago and New York.  From its inception in 1927 Dixieland Jazz lasted until the middle of the 1930s enjoying roughly 8 years of popularity. In the north and south traditional Jazz was soon eclipsed by three new and very different forms of Jazz music.

Swing Jazz

The first major evolution occurred when white musicians heard their black counterparts play and decided to copy them. This process which led to the creation of the big bands developed a new form of jazz which is known as Swing Jazz. It lasted from roughly 1935 to 1945 or the end of World War II. 

Benny Goodman was a leader in creating this new form of music. Because Benny Goodman was Jewish and had unfortunately suffered from antisemitism, he went out of his way to treat his black counterparts with respect. He was the first big band leader to direct a partially integrated band, an incredibly rare event in the 1930s. Goodman’s success soon led other musicians like Glenn Miller and later Duke Ellington to follow suit.

But that raises an interesting question as to why Big Band Jazz or what is also called Swing Jazz soon became more popular than Dixieland Jazz and eventually lead to the latter’s decline in popularity. The answer is probably twofold. By the 1930s the US was in the middle of the Great Depression and people were frustrated by their economic situation. In this new depressing environment, people sought to escape from the misery of their lives by seeking to dance the night away. In pursuing entertainment, they sought to overcome their sense of anxiety by escaping into the make believe world of music, movies and entertainment. In particular they wanted to listen to music that was happy or uplifting, that diverted their attention from the privations of daily living. In light of the limited size of most Dixieland ensambles, people preferred to dance to the sound of larger and more polished bands.

In recognition of this desire bands became larger and created arrangements that would facilitate dancing.  But in the 1930s most hotels and school auditorium practiced Jim Crow and only white bands could rent dance halls to accommodate large number of people. While there were a few Black big bands, most notable that led by Duke Ellington, African American bands lacked the resources to compete with their white counterparts who sought to meet the public’s desire to be entertained.

With the rise in prices during WWII, the cost of maintaining the big bands became so expensive that they eventually disbanded when the war ended. When the big bands ceased to exist, jazz no longer dominated public music. As the bands became a thing of the past, individual crooners like Frank Sinatra, Perry Como or Nat King Cole came to dominate American music.

Bebop Jazz

By the 1940s many black musicians resented this situation.  Their displeasure was twofold and ambivalent in nature.  First they were naturally unhappy that their unique contribution to the American playlist had fallen out of disfavor. Secondly while regretting the demise of jazz, they were also unhappy that Swing had replaced Dixieland as the primary form of jazz played in this country. To show their displeasure with these two unfortunate events, they decided to create a third form of jazz which is today known as Bebop Jazz. While they realized that this new form of jazz would not have the popularity of the big bands, they pursued this new form of jazz as a means of preserving their cultural identity.

A select group of black musicians chose to create new genre of Jazz as a protest against what they felt were the efforts of the big bands to appropriate black music while minimizing the role of black musicians in their bands. In light of the racial divide in the country, many black musicians had become hostile to the displacement of Dixieland Jazz by the Swing Jazz of the big bands.  Many African American musicians felt that an art form they had developed, had been used to enhance the well-being of white musicians at the expense of black artists. 

In seeking to broaden its appeal, the big bands had tended to modify jazz so that it had fewer spontaneous moments or rough edges. But in modifying Dixieland music, Black artists thought that the big band sound had so diluted their musical art form, that they had compromised its authenticity. For many Black musicians jazz was not just a form of music to entertain people. On the contrary it was a form of music that gave Black America an identity that they could be proud of because of its unusual creativity and novel sense of music. 

As a response several black musicians, most notable Charlie Bird Parker and Dizzy Gillespie created a new more convoluted form of jazz known as Bebop.  This type of jazz was designed to be so complex that it would be difficult to play, listen to as well as impossible to dance to. Bebop was thus a form of rebellion by some black artists who hoped to make the music so complex that white artists would be unable to duplicate let alone copy it.

In many ways it was so frenetic and difficult, that it became a form of jazz that primarily appealed to musicians who wanted jazz to reflect Black culture. The music was so hyper charged, that one of the chief proponents of this new type of jazz, John Gillespie was even nicknamed Dizzy Gillespie.

Cool Jazz

In light of the frenetic and difficult nature of much Bebob music, many musicians eventually rebelled against it and created a fourth version of jazz which is today call Cool Jazz. It is much slower and mellow type of Jazz that became popular around the1950s. Cool Jazz, which deemphasized the politics of Bebop, created a new form of music which stressed a relaxed tempo and lighter tone than Bebop.  

While Bebop wanted to stress the racial or cultural nature of Jazz, most advocates of Cool Jazz wanted to emphasize just the nature of the music created by jazz musicians. The hostility that had been expressed towards the big bands had finally started to dissipate by the time Cool Jazz finally emerge in post war America. The key issues now were the quality of the music created rather than the color of the performing musician. 

 While Cool Jazz was radically different in style from Bebop, Cool Jazz, unlike Dixieland and Swing Jazz, was a similar to Bebop in that it was music that was designed to be listened to rather than danced to.

As Cool Jazz became more popular, more musicians began to practice it. The most famous practitioner of this new form of jazz was John Coltrane, who came quickly became one of the best known jazz artists in the country.  Besides Coltrane, Cool Jazz attracted numerous white musicians and this form of music was fairly multi racial in nature.  The most notable musicians of this new era were Dave Brubeck, Herb Alpert and Stan Getz who achieved fame with songs like “A Taste of Honey,” “This Guy is in Love with You” or “Take Five.”

With time, Cool Jazz became part of popular American culture. In many well received detective shows like the TV program Bosch, the detective becomes famous for always listening to John Coltrane music. The TV show wanted to contrast the violence of the streets and police work with the mellow atmosphere of Cool Jazz. 

Given its popularity in America the idea of Cool Jazz soon spread to other countries. In Brazil musicians created a form of Cool Jazz known as Bossa Nova which today is famous for its song “The Girl from Ipanema.” While Cool Jazz originated in America, this very American form of music has now spread around the world and has practitioners in Europe. Asia and Latin America.

The Revival of Dixieland Jazz

While Bebop and Cool Jazz had their fans after WWII, they primarily remained a niche form of entertainment in the US. By the 1950s Dixieland Jazz had even made a comeback, reviving in the process interest in the music of the 1920s. Many musical historians insist that the revival of Dixieland was in large part due to the likeable and charismatic personality of Louie Armstrong. While Armstrong had played a key role in the 1920s in helping to established jazz as a new form of American music, he simultaneous played an important part in reviving that earliest form of Jazz 40 years later.  He was helped along by Ed Sullivan and Johnny Carson who repeatedly book him on their programs.

In the 1960s, his song “Hello Dolly” became so popular that it was made into a Broadway play and later a movie music with Barbara Streisand. Despite his gravelly voice, Armstrong became the oldest singer at the age of 60 to produce a number one top hit on the musical charts.

While Armstrong worked the TV circuits, his hometown of New Orleans was reborn as the center of traditional jazz in America. In Bourbon Street in New Orleans, numerous entrepreneurs created jazz clubs to become the center of the jazz world. The city that was the birthplace of jazz, New Orleans, became so famous that Bourbon Street soon became the place where tourists flocked to listened to the first popular form of African American music.


The development of Jazz had thus come full circle. A musical form that originated in New Orleans as Dixieland Jazz had been transformed up north into first Swing jazz, then Bebop Jazz and finally Cool Jazz before it finally returned to its roots in the south. Today depending on your musical preferences, you can listen to four different version of jazz. While Rhythm and Blues as well as Rock and Roll and its various sub genres dominate the musical scene in America, jazz lives on with a small but devoted group of fans. In place of being the most popular form of music like Rhythm and Blues or Rock and Role, jazz occupies a limited but secure niche in America’s listening habits.




05/12/24 09:09 AM #473    


Bill Kelso

           The Evolution of American Popular Music

                                 A Quick Timeline

A. The Jazz Age

Main Period: 1927 to 1960

1. Dixieland Jazz 1927 to 1935

2. Swing Jazz 1935 to 1945

3. Bebop Jazz 1940s to 1950s

4. Cool Jazz 1960s

5. Revival of Dixieland Jazz with Louie Armstrong 1960s

B. The Age of the Crooner 

Main Period: 1940s to late 1950s

After the demise of jazz, American music was dominated by the Age of the solo Crooner. He or she mainly sang songs from the American play list composed by song writers associated with Tin Pan Alley and the Brill Group in New York City. They include the following singers. 

1. Tony Bennett,                         1. Dinah Shore

2. Nat King Cole                          2. Doris Day

3 Perry Como                               3. Rosemary Clooney

4. Frank Sinatra                           4. Peggy Lee

5. Andy Williams                          5. Patty Page

6. Bing Crosby                              6. Dinah Washington

7. Vic Damone

8. Dean Martin

9 Johnny Mathis

C. The Rhythm and Blues & Rock and Roll Age

Main Period: 1950s, 60s to the Present.

In the 1960s R & B and Rock and Roll replaced the more bland tones of the Crooner Age.

1.The Rise of Rhythm and Blues.  1950s to 1960s

2. The Rise of Rock and Roll. 1950s to Present

05/12/24 09:14 AM #474    


Bill Kelso

                                        The Evolution of Jazz

                                      How to View the Videos       

Because there are often  anywhere from two to seven videos of the different types of jazz, the best way to view this post and its accompanying videos may be in distinct viewing periods. Because several videos watched back to back may run 5 to 10 minutes, it might be best to watch them on sequential days if you are interested in this topic.

However if you are not all that interested in jazz, you might want to pick and choose which videos to watch. While many of the songs from the Big Band era may be unknown to you, you are probably going to be familiar with many of the videos from the Cool Jazz era especially those by Dave Brubeck, Stan Getz, and Herp Alpert. You should also listen to “The Girl from Ipanema” which is the most popular Jazz record ever recorded. Finally you might want to watch Louie Armstrong singing “Hello Dolly” which was a number one hit in the sixties. The video is part of a clip he made with Barbara Streisand in a movie with the same title.

But because much of Jazz lacks the pounding beat of Rock and Roll, you may find the music at first as being somewhat bland or boring. But if you give it a chance you may find the music soothing and refreshing. If you just want to relax, listening to Cool Jazz or the Big Band sound will put you in a mellow and contented frame of mind.

1. Videos of Dixieland Jazz

As mentioned previously, Dixieland Jazz is the earliest form of Jazz which was invented in New Orleans. To get a feel for that time period watch the impromptu jazz combo performing on the streets of New Orleans. In the 1920s this was a common occurrence in New Orleans. The only thing that is different is that these jazz musicians are white rather than African American.

1) This is an impromptu Jazz band in New Orleans

Video of street musicians playing Dixieland Jazz

Many of the early Dixieland songs had religious overtones That is reflected in the song “Swing Low Sweet Chariot” sung by a young girl on the Ed Sullivan show and Louie Armstrong’s rendition of “When the Saints go marching in.”

Swing Low Sweet Chariot refers to the belief that Heaven awaits you once you die. 

“When the Saints go Marching in” is also about a religious theme which hopes that the Angels will escort you through the pearly gates of Heaven. This song was often played at funerals in New Orleans. Because of the trumpet sound it may also indicate an impending end of the world as depicted in the Book of Revelation in the Old Testament. The sound of the trumpet in the bible often indicates an apocalyptic event, signaling the end times.

2) A very popular Dixieland Jazz song, Swing Low Sweet Chariot.

Popular Dixieland song Carry me Home

3) Louie Armstrong singing when the Saints go Marching In. As we shall see Louie Armstrong played an important role in the early establishment of Dixieland Jazz when he was a young man in the 1920s and 40 years later when he helped to revive Dixieland Jazz in the 1960s. This song takes a while to develop so be patient and I think you will be glad you saw the song to its grand finale. 

Louie Armstrong singing when the saints go marching in


2. Videos of Big Band Jazz which is also called Swing Jazz.

The Big Band Era was much bigger and much better organized than Dixieland bands with anywhere from 10 to 17 members. 

Even more importunately, they often relied on the device known as Call and Response among the sections of the band to distinguish their unique sound. For instance, in a band the reeds or the trumpets would play a statement and then another section of the band say the trombone section would respond. The interplay between the different sections of the band gave the band a unique musical signature. In playing their instruments the band members would point them in different direction as the band was involved in a kind of symbolic dance among its various sections.

As the end of the videos we also can see a unique form of Swing music that is known as Scat and was made popular by Ella Fitzgerald. Instead of singing words, the jazz vocalist sings the equivalent of musical sounds. Because many early jazz bands lacked instruments, some jazz singers began singing nonsense syllables to imitate the sounds of instruments. 

Below I listed 8 of the most famous big band sounds of the 1930s and 40s. Initially Benny Goodman was the most popular Big Band leader and is considered the King of Swing. But eventually Glenn Miller surpassed him in popularity as his music was smoother and more mellow than Goodman.

A. Two of Benny Goodman’s Two Hits. Benny Goodman is considered the King of Swing as his music was faster paced than Miller’s music.

1)Benny Goodman playing his famous hit Sing, Sing Sing with Gene KrupaBenny Goodman playing his major hit Sing Sing Sing

2)Benny Goodman and Peggy LeeWhy don't you do right with Benny Goodmzn and Peggy Lee

B. Many of Glenn Miller’s top Hits. He soon displaced Benny Goodman as the leader of the most popular Big Bands.

A Short note on Swing Jazz and Swing Dance

While Swing Dance is associated with Swing Jazz, it mainly applies to middle class and working-class people. When people get dressed up in Tuxedos and long dresses, they are unlikely to do the aerials of swing dance in which the women roll over the backs of their partner or later the dance movmens in which they get pulled through the legs of their male counterparts. The dancing in the following  video is a restrained and sedate version of swing dancing which accompanied most examples of Swing Jazz.

3)Glenn Miller playing in the mood

Glen Miller playing in the mood

4) Miller playing I got a Girl in Kalamazoo

Glenn Miller playing I got a girl

5)Linda Carter sings Chattanooga Cho Cho. This song takes a while to get going but Linda Carter’s singing  is worth the wait.

 Linda Carter singing Big Band Tune

6) Big Band Jazz putting on the Ritz. A Dance interpretation of Big Band Music.

Putting on the Rit

7) Miller playing Pennsylvania 6500

Example of the Big Band Sound

8) Miller playing Moonlight Serenade

Miller playing Moonlight Serenade

C. Ella Fitzgerald Singing Scat

11) Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington sing scat

Ella Fitzgerald singing Scat with the Duke

12) More Scat with Mel Tome and Ella Fitzgerald


3. Videos of Bebop Jazz

1)Charlie Parker playing Bebop which is a form of rebellion against the Big Band version of Swing Jazz. This form of jazz is not meant for dancing and it made difficult so white musicians will have a hard time copying it.

Charlie Parker Bebop Jazz

2) Dizzy Gillespie. A rather mild version of Bebop

Dizzy Gillespie playing Jazz


4. Videos of Cool Jazz

Below are some great classics of Cool Jazz. But the most popular Jazz song by sales  in the history of Jazz is the Girl from Ipanema

1)Herb Alpert sings Rise

Herbert Alpert sings rise a song of cool jazz

2)Herb Alpert

Alpert singing a touch of honey

3)Dave Brubeck and Cool Jazz

The Cool Jazz of Take Five

The Brazilian form of Cool Jazz which is known as Bossa Nova produced the following song, “The Girl from Ipanema.” The record is the story of an actual event.  Two Brazilian musicians actually watched for many weeks a beautiful girl walking past them on Ipanema beach which is an upscale neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro. When they wrote a song recounting their experience the woman on the beach became a famous celebrity in Brazil.  Today she is a grandmother with many grandchildren, but she is still celebrated in the Brazilian press as a symbol of Brazil’s romantic heritage. The song went on to record the most record sales or musical downloads of any song in the history of jazz.

4))The Girl from Ipanema

The girl from Ipanema

5)John Coltrane Playing

John Coltraine Playing Cool Jazz

6)Stan Getz playing MistyStan Getz polaying his hit cool jazz recording of Misty

7)Herb Alpert singing  “This guy is in love with you”

Alpert singing this guy is in Love with your


5. Video of the Revival of Dixieland Jazz

1)This is the most popular of Louie Armstrong’s Jazz hits

Louise Armstrong singing to Barbara Streisand

2) Example of Dixieland JazzThe Song Won’t You come HomeLouie Asrmstrong on Ed Sullivan

3)Louie Armstrong Up a Lazy River

In this song Louie Armstong also sings Scat rather than the lyrics of the song Up a Lazy River. Ella Fitzgerald was the most famous jazz singer that relied on Scat during her performances but Armstrong also employed this unique type of jazz singing too.

Louie Armstrong Up a Lazy River



06/05/24 06:01 AM #475    


Bill Kelso

            Jazz and Jazz Dancing   

After posting some videos of jazz music and the week before various forms of jazz dance, a classmate wrote that he found jazz music rather bland compared to rock and roll. I told him that in its day jazz was considered rather exciting and very novel. The more I thought about it, the more I became convinced that the short videos of jazz I had posted earlier were in large part responsible for Swing Jazz’s apparent lack of appeal. To alter his opinion, I consequently looked for videos especially of Benny Goodman’s “Sing, sing sing” that would explain why Goodman’s music was so popular in the 1940s. 

1) Why Benny Goodman is the King of Swing 

Overall I wanted to accomplish three goals in this post. First I hoped to show why Benny Goodman was considered the King of Swing. Hopefully these videos will do a better job than the earlier ones in showing how Goodman transformed American music and dance. His song “Sing, sing sing, was comparable in its day to Elvis Presley “You ain’t nothing but a Hound Dog” which instantly made Elvis a a musical celebrity and the King of Rock and Roll. “Sing sing sing” did the same thing for Goodman as it elevated him into the face of modern Swing Jazz. Hopefully if you watch all three videos you will see why Goodman was so popular and his music was considered so exciting and novel.

2) How to Recognize the Differnt Types of Dances

Secondly, I felt that the earlier discussion of various types of dances did not make it clear how one dance style differed from another. I think if you just saw a short video of the different dances popular in America, it might be difficult to automatically identified whether a dance was a Charleston or a Swing Dance of a Hustle Dance.

In trying to understand dance or music, like any other subject, the more experience you have in watching and studying a subject, the better you become at recognizing differences in the various dance styles.  In case you wanted to know more about popular American culture, I thought seeing more videos of different dance style might prove useful. Hopefully this video will supplement the earlier discussion about different dance styles in America.

(1)For instance while the first video with a bunch of young girls is an example of swing dance (also known as the jitterbug or the lindy hop) it might not appear so at first glance. After all Swing dance is primarily a couple’s dance and these young girls are thus unable to perform some of the key moves of Swing Dancing. For examples listed below are two moves couples do in swing dance that are missing in the first video.  They include:

1.Aerials.  They consisted of two difficult moves. First, they involve the guy throwing the women up in the air. Secondly, they also involve the guy enabling the women to roll over his back, a dance move obviously called the roll over.

2.Secondly, because these young girls lack dance partners, they obviously can’t perform the pull through movement where the male dancer pulls his female dance partner through his legs. But while dancing as a group the young girls do several other important Swing maneuvers. They include

1.Flips. Early on a young girl does a flip and they repeat the flips at the end of the song

2.Swivels.  This is the rotating of your waist  while moving your arms which enables the young girls to quickly catch your attention. 

3.Shim Sham. This is when the dancers start imitating tap dancing as the camera focus on individuals dancers doing complex routines.

 Video of young girls dancing to sing  sing Sing

(2) In the second video we have yet another group of people dancing to Benny Goodman’s main tune “Sing, sing, sing.” But to help you recognize different American and even foreign styles of dance, we can try to identify what moves belong to what dance styles. This video is a  good learning devise for recognizing different dance genres. For instance, the video starts out with young kids doing the Irish Jig, a dance that has nothing to do with Jazz. But that fact that Irish kids are dancing to Swing Jazz with their own dance show you how popular Swing Jazz became world wide. 

However, if you watch the video to the end, you secondly will also see individuals as well couples doing Swing dancing including aerials. Thirdly, you might even be able to recognize two young girls at the end of the video going beyond Shim Sham to actually engaging in tap dancing. Finally in an unexpected twist, towards the end of the video you will even see one dancer performing a fourth dance style as he exercises moves from break dancing. In this one video you can thus see individuals performing the Irish Jig, Tap Dancing, Break Dancing as well as Swing Dancing.

Young People dancing to Goodman's Sing Sing Sing

(3) Finally, in contrast to the first two videos, the third video posted below shows a group of older women dancing to Benny Goodman’s song “Sing sing, sing,” but they are dancing the Charleston dance, a dance that was popular in the 1920s when Dixieland Jazz rather than Swing dancing was in vogue. The women are also dressed like flappers, the name given to young women jazz dancers in the 20s with bob (short) haircuts.  Besides their dress, it is also easy to tell these women are not dancing the Jitterbug as they have no aerials, pull throughs, sensual swivels, flips or shim shams in their dance routine. However, these women are well versed and professional in looking like flappers completing the dance moves of the Charleston.

An Older Crowd Singing to Goodman's Sing Sing Sing

After watching these three videos you can see why Benny Goodman was considered the King of Swing.  The song was so popular you have people dancing swing dances, the Irish jig, tap dances, and even the Charleston to Goodman’s most popular song. While most people today are only familiar with R & B and Rock and Roll, if you watch enough of jazz music and dance it is easy to understand why jazz swept the world during the 1920s to the end of the 40s.

3) Finally a third goal in writing this post was to take a look at the Irish Jig

Now you may be wondering why I  choose to end this post by analyzing the Irish Jig. You are probably asking what the Irish Jig has to do with Jazz music and Jazz dancing. 

The answer is absolutely nothing. But it is often the case that to fully analyze and understand your own culture you have to look at how it differs from a completely different national tradition. In looking at how the history of a country like Ireland is dramatically different from that of America, we can see that American view of dancing is not a sentiment all other nations necessarily share. 

For instance, if you ask an America how important is dance in daily life, they would probably minimize its importance. After all dance fads in America never seem to last more than a decade or two. As one form of music fades and a new type of music appears in America, at the same time new dance styles happen to occur. For instance, as Dixieland Jazz gave way to Big Band Jazz, the Charleston was replaced by Swing dancing. In our generation as R&B and Rock and Roll became popular, displacing the Big Band sound, variations of the twist replaced the Lindy hop also known as the swing dances of the 1940s.

Most Americans would also probably say dancing is something you do when you are a teenager or young adult or it is an activity you engage in during important events like weddings or anniversaries. Otherwise it is a pleasant and entertaining pastime but of no larger significance.

                                                 How the Irish View Dancing

In contrast, the Irish have a radically different take on the importance of dancing. If you look at how the Irish see their national dance, the Jig, they do not view it as a merely pleasant pastime at all, but as an important symbol of their national identity. The Irish Jig is part of their national heritage that helps distinguish an Irishmen from an Englishman or even an American. The differences in attitudes toward dance raises the obvious question as to why there is there this big disconnect between Ireland and American attitudes towards something like dance.  

The answer is that for many centuries the English controlled Ireland and to enhance their occupation of the island they tried to suppress Irish culture, transforming all Irishmen into English citizens albeit second class citizens. When Ireland finally gained her political independence, the country also wanted to regain its cultural independence from Britain by reviving her traditional Gallic culture. 

One important part of that culture was to revive the Irish Jig which is also called Irish stepdance. To affirm their identity the Irish perform their dance the Jig at all major functions. Regardless of what kind of music they are listening to, whether Big Band Jazz, Rhythm and Blues or Rock and Roll, the Irish prefer their own intricate dance steps to the popular style of dances found in America. For the Irish dancing is not just a pleasant and entertaining pastime but a symbol of who they are as a people, an accomplishment that it took the Irish centuries to achieve.

The Ethnic Heritage of American Irish

Finally I secondly wanted to post some videos of Irish Jig dancing because of the numerous people in our class who have Irish surnames. And on top of that our very own high school McClatchy is named for an Irishman.  The name McClatchy is a quintessential Irish name that takes its place on the relatively long list of our classmates whose surname begin with the letter Mc. Surprisingly enough, even though most Irish live in states like Massachusetts and New York, two of the most popular high schools in Sacramento, McClatchy and Kennedy are named for Irishmen.

For the Irish individuals in our class who want to know more about their ethnic heritage or for anyone just curious about dance in particular I tried to find some videos of what life would have been like if our Irish named high school had actually been located in Ireland.

Irish High Schools

1)The first video show how young Irish kids at a relatively early age have mastered the intricate steps involved in Irish jig dancing. This video takes a while to get developed but it is a great view of what the life of a female high school student  in Ireland would be like.

  Irish Weddings

2)The second video is a video of an Irish wedding. While in America we might get a DJ to play 60s music and all the guests at the wedding would be doing the Twist, or Watusi or the Swim, in Ireland they would be doing the Jig.

The Irish Jig at a Wedding

Professional Irish Dancers

3) Finally if you want to see some of the best Irish dancers in the world you can watch professional Dance Group called Riverdance.


                                               Why the Irish Jig is so Different?

As a final note you may be wondering why the Irish dance in such an unusual way. That is why do they dance solo with a rigid upper torso. There are two parts to this answer. First the Irish like African Americans deemphasized couple dancing and generally relied on either communal or individual dancing.

As to why they have a rigid upper torso there is one possible answer that is popular today. The argument is that Irish dance reflected the puritanical nature of the Catholic Church in Ireland. In the early Church the Church fathers like St. Paul were opposed to people enjoying sex justfor its own pleasure. As part of this attitude the CatholicChurch insisted that people should only engage in sex if their goal was procreation.

To spread this view the priests in Ireland not only tried to forbid dancing all together but they also tried to dampen down any sensual encounters between the sexes.  However, because of the strong Celtic tradition of dance, the priests finally decided to allow dancing only if the partners kept. their hands off the opposite sex.

Whether this explanation is actually true is hard to say, as there is very little evidence about the origins of the Irish Jig.


Hopefully the above videos will make it easier to understand why jazz music in general and Benny Goodman in particular were so popular during the 1940s. After looking at more videos of people actually dancing, you should find it easier to identify the distinctive dance styles in America and even Ireland. Finally after the very brief look at the very different historical experiences of the Irish and the US you hopefully understand why the two countries have very different styles as well as outlooks on dance. You have to realize that the dance traditions of any nation reflect its unique historical experiences.




07/04/24 10:03 AM #476    


Bill Kelso


                      An Update on California and Silicon Valley

A while back we looked at data from the Census Bureau about how the population of California was shrinking. In their latest report the Census Bureau predicated that the state would lose 5 Congressional seats by 2030.

Just recently two other government agencies have also reported data about California that gives us a more complete and rounded picture of the changing economy in the state. They are the IRS which collects our taxes and the Bureau of Economic Analysis, which is an independent government agencies located in the Commerce Department  that collects data on the health of the US economy.

Finally complimenting the findings of the above two government agencies, the computer firm Apple has announced what their building plans were for the next couple of years. They provide some clue as to whether Silicon Valley is staying in California or perhaps moving to the South 

1)The IRS Data on Out Migration and how it impacts the GDP of States.

The first piece of information comes from the IRS which issued a study that tracks the migration of people in and out of various states. However, they have gone beyond the Census Bureau in that they also asked how the out or in migration of people from a state affects its GDP or Gross Domestic Product which measures the size of the state’s economy.

States whose GDP have Declined during the Year of 2023. The outmigration of people from the following states has negatively affected their economy by the following billions of dollars

California.                                     -$23.8 Billion 

California's GDP shrank by 23.8 billion dollars as people who left the state took their assets with them.

New York                                     -$14.2 Billion Dollars

Illinois                                           -$ 9.8 Billion Dollars

Conversely the following states have seen their economy expand by the in migration of people by the following amounts.

States whose GDP have Increased by the following billion of dollars during the year 2023.

Florida                                           +36 Billion Dollars

Florida's GDP expanded by 36 Billion dollars as individuals from the west and east coast brought their assets with them and invested it in the state..

Texas                                             +10 Billion Dollars

South Carolina                              +4.8 Billion Dollars    

If you add these two sums together they represent a significant and major shift of economic power away from the two coasts to the benefit of southern states.

2) The Bureau of Economic Analysis of Jobs Lost and Gained since the Pandemic and since last year.                      

Secondly, while the IRS looked at how the GDP of states had changed, the Bureau of Economic Analysis did a study which focused on how the pattern of employment had changed in key states over the last three years. For two years California did poorly but it seems to have recovered this past year. While California did better, the state still added fewer jobs than its southern counterparts despite have a  larger population and bigger economy.

States who lost workers and thus jobs in the post Pandemic era from 2020 to 2022

California                                      -400,557 workers and jobs

California was the leader in lost jobs in the post Pandemic Period.

States who gained workers in the post Pandemic Period 2020 to 2022

Florida                                           + 669,80 jobs workers and jobs

Jobs Gains in the last year: 2023.

Texas                                             +318,400 workers and jobs

Florida                                           +223,200 workers and jobs

California                                       +207,204 workers and jobs.

3) Is Silicon Valley Migrating to the South?

Finally a third topic that we previously looked at was the movement of companies out of California to the south. The big news was that Oracle and Hewlitt Packard had moved their headquarters to Texas and North Carolina.

But if you only look at where companies have their headquarters you may get only a partial view of what is happening in a state. A better indication of what a company is doing is to look at their expansion plans.

To do that we looked at the expansion of Apple outside of California

Where is Apple Expanding?

Apple is current building or completing a 1 billion dollar campus with 3 million square feet in Austin Texas. It has also erected another building where it is currently building the MacPro computer. Previously all of Apple's computers were made in China. But they are now making some of their computers in the US and they are building them in Texas where they are greatly expanding their footprint in the state.

At the same time Apple is constructing a a 450,000 office complex in Miami Florida. While Apple’s main offices remain in California they company seems to be processing much of their work in the states of Texas and Florida.


If the above process of out migration continues it will do real damage to the economy of California and raise serious questions about the future of the state. Given this grim news and the seriousness of the problem, it is surprisingly that California is not doing more to keep as many businesses in state as possible. 

07/09/24 06:58 AM #477    


Bill Kelso

                             The Development of Modern Man

As anyone who looks at the “In Memory’ section of the McClatchy website knows, the size of our 1963 graduating class is rapidly shrinking. Probably within the next 2 to 4 years, a majority of our class will no longer be with us. 

In light of this fact, I thought maybe people might want to know where we came from and where we may be going before we pass away. But in describing where we came from, I don’t want to look at short term issues such as where our relatives emigrated from or the difficulties they faced in adjusting to life in America. On the contrary I wanted to take a much longer look and ask the ultimate question about when the human race originated.  While this task may seem overly ambitious and impossible to accomplish, recent archaeological findings suggest that we be may finally be able to find satisfactory answers to the above questions.

When we were in school paleontologists and physical anthropologists had little knowledge of where, when and how humans first appeared on the planet.  But after years of major archaeological work in Africa, and important discoveries of fossils like the famous skeleton of Lucy in Ethiopia in 1974, paleontologists and physical anthropologists now have developed a rather good picture of the origins of early man. 

                                              Why Human Beings Arose 

The original Eden where man first emerged may be found in the broad plains that today make up the savannah of eastern Africa. Surprisingly enough, a major shift in the earth's geology may be responsible for the development of modern humans. We now know that around 5 to 6 million years ago, the growing Rift Valley in Africa had created a large mountain chain which blocked rainfall in eastern Africa. Land which had once been a tropical jungle, now began to dry up and become transformed into a semi dry savannah.

                                   The Rain Forest which dried up in East Africa

                                     (If you hit the link below it shows the Awash 

                                      Valley where the famous Lucy and other fossils 

                                      of early man have been found. It is possible 

                                      that the Awash valley is our original Eden 

                                      or one of the earliest sites where our ancestors 

                                      first emerged)

            Origins of Man: The Awash Valley

The rise of the Rift valley which dramatically changed the vegetation in eastern Africa eventually led to the creation of our earliest ancestors. Our former relatives who lived in the tropical forest of Africa, witnessed their environment changing before their eyes, forcing them out of the trees and onto the flat savannah of eastern Africa.  Geographical changes in the earth thus played a major role in creating us, modern day humans, who eventually became a new species on earth about 250,000 years ago.

                                   Pictures of the Savannah of East Africa

                        Today the Savannah is home to large groups of animals

Instead of humans living and sleeping in the canopy of a rain forest, primarily living off of the fruit from their tropical habitat, they now had to learn to survive living on the dry savannah. In place of the safety and abundant food supply of the forest, they now had to deal with predators as well as invent a new diet as the lack of rainfall limited their former food supply. In place of being fruit eaters, humans had to become omnivores who primarily relied on scavenging or hunting and gathering to feed themselves in a semi dry climate.

In the span of roughly 5 to 6 million years, we were transformed from being basically another primate who lived in the canopy of a topical forest into a kind of proto human who was forced to quickly evolve on a semi desert savannah surrounded by dangerous predators.  

                                     The Four Stages of Human Evolution

1)Ape Man or Ardipithecus. The Famous Ardi of Ethiopia

The Evolution of modern man went through four stages. In the first state which lasted from about 5 million until 4 million years ago, our ancestors were best called ape men or proto humans. Physical anthropologists technically call this early version of mankind Ardipithecus. It is named after a famous human fossil which has been called Ardi, one of our earliest ancestors. While this early human is related to apes and chimpanzees, it is still an open question as to whether our earliest ancestors actually evolved from them. An alternative possibility is that humans, include our Ardi, as well as the other primates including chimpanzees may have evolved from a common ancestor.

                                                 A Reconstruction of Ardi

2)Australopithecus. The Famous Lucy of Ethiopia

As momentous as this first major development was, around 4 million years ago to around 2 million ago, our early ancestors went through yet another major change. In technical terms, physical anthropologists call this new evolved species of a proto human an Australopithecus and the most famous member of this new species is the famous skeleton called Lucy, presently found in the National Museum in Ethiopia..

                                             A Reconstruction of what Lucy looked Like

3) Early Humans: From Homo Habilis to Neanderthal 

Thirdly after roughly 2 million years of natural selection, our proto human ancestors called Australopithecus and their famous representative Lucy were transformed into a version of early man which we can call humans. But in evolutionary terms we still had a ways to go before this early version of a human began to resemble a modern man.  Paleontologists have found that roughly 8 previous versions or species of this early human existed before they finally evolved into ourselves, modern day Homo Sapiens. Among our previous predecessors were species called Homo Habilis, as well as our more famous modern cousins Homo Heidelbergenesis who are more commonly called Neanderthals. For thousands of years modern humans shared the planet with these other species until eventually they all died out around 50,00y years ago. 

4) Finally The Rise of Modern Humans or Homo Sapiens

Finally in the fourth and last stage of human evolution, all of the above previous forms of early man were eventually replaced by the development of modern humans whom we call Homo Sapiens. This final version emerged around 250,000 to 200,000 years ago in Eastern Africa. Beginning around 70,000 years ago these modern human beings began to migrate to all of the remaining continents on the planet.

                                          A Reconstruction of Neanderthal

                                         A Brief Summary of our Evolution

5 million years ago              Rise of Man Apes or Ardipithecus

4 million years ago.             Rise of Australopithecus 

2 million years ago              Rise of Early Humans 

Eight species of early man arose before us including Neanderthals 

250,000 years ago                Modern Humans         (Homo Sapiens)

                                     The Climate of Early Humans

In studying the origins of man, it is also necessary to make a brief comment about the climate in which we developed. While today there is much talk about global warming, you have to realize that in the final third and fourth period of our evolution proto humans evolved during an Ice Age. At roughly the same time that early humans appear in archaeological record, the earth began a two million period of global cooling in which periods of extensive ice coverage alternative with periods of more moderate temperature. The actual end of the last major ice age ended roughly 10,000 years ago which led to the rise of agriculture and modern society. Over the roughly 6 million years of our evolution, humans have only been farming and living in complex modern societies for the last 10,00 years, a blink of an eye in terms of our total time on earth.

                                           Tracing Our Human Evolution

As fascinating as the history of our emergence in Africa several million years ago is, an even more intriguing story is how we humans have developed in the last 5 or 6 million years. In that extended period of time, we will see how our original ancestors were dramatically transformed both physically and mentally when they made the transition from the forest canopy to the open fields of east Africa. To achieve this goal, we shall first look at how our physical appearance changed as the rift valley changed our environment. 

A.Physical Changes 

1)First we shall look at how we modern day humans physically evolved from being a very small tree dweller who had trouble walking into a bi pedal individual who came to live and hunt on the dry savannas off eastern Africa. 

a. Initially we shall see that on the east African savannah we changed our feet, legs, arms and hands. 

b. After modifying our major limbs, we shall see how natural selection radically remade our faces and skin.

c. Finally we shall sese how our general physique, chest and even pelvis changed shape.

2) Secondly, we shall see how early humans began to evolve into separate races once humans became naked apes. We shall also try to explain how humans living close to the hot tropical equator initially evolved dark skins, while individuals who migrated north to higher latitude later developed much lighter skin tones, eventually evolving into today's modern races of Caucasians and Asians.

B. Behavioral Changes. 

After having examined how our descent from the tropical rain forest to the savannah plains dramatically changed our physical appearance, we shall then see how the above environmental changes also dramatically altered our behavior. 

We Became Smarter

1) First, we will analyze how humans, unlike all other animals on earth, eventually developed larger brains and became in the process of much smarter in coping with the wider world. When proto humans found themselves on the dry savannah, they were basically defenseless, and had few options for defending themselves against the many predators in their environment. As we shall they had to rely on brain power, and eventually tool making, rather than their brawn, or physical endowments, to protect themselves in a very hostile environment. 

We Created Two Parent Families

2) Secondly, we shall examine how humans developed distinctly different family arrangements from their hominid cousins the great apes and chimpanzees. Whereas apes live in harems and chimpanzees have a more promiscuous lifestyle, humans eventually adopted a two parent life style to raise their children. But before we created families our earliest ancestors like Lucy may have lived in harems. 

Generally when animals live in harems, the two sexes are dimorphic which means that they look very different. For instance, among Apes who live in harems, the males are much larger than the females. Males have evolved to be bigger than their consorts because they must fight off other males who may want to steal their females. Because today modern day human males are consistently larger than females, our differences in appearance may reflect our biological past. If Lucy and her relatives lived in harems, we need to look at the possible reasons why humans choose to live in single parent families rather than follow the practices of our primate cousins.

We Became Less Violent

3) Thirdly, in a much-desired change, we shall see how humans became less violent than their chimpanzee cousins. But despite this positive achievement in reducing violence within society, sociologists argue that humans have generally built up a society based on the idea of antagonistic cooperation. That means that while people will often cooperate and befriend one another, they often have conflicting objectives or interest which at times undermines their friendships and even their cooperative nature. Thus benign or considerate relationships may at time be fleeting in nature.

We Learned to Speak

4) Finally we shall try to understand when and how proto humans eventually learned to speak. In examining this topic, we shall see that music may have played an important role in eventually enabling humans to acquire the power of language. 

                                     How the Future May be Radically Different

When we have finished the above topics, we hopefully will have a good idea of where we have come from. But before our time is up, it might also be interesting to ask where we are going.  In many ways our generation may be living in what historians call a hinge period. By that we mean that humans may be beginning yet another period of evolution that will radically transform our present human makeup. They key difference is that in the future as opposed to the past, human evolution may be directed and controlled by humans themselves rather than by natural selection. Whereas paleontologists and physical anthropologists up to now have talked about how mutation and natural selection designed the human body, in the future they may also talk about how artificial intelligence, and human selection have also shaped human life.

                                             Cyborgs and  Transhumans

In place of Homo Sapiens we may start talking about cyborgs and trans humans who  may become a new and novel form of human life.

We are now living in an age in which people have artificial knees, shoulders and even hearts. But in the future, they may have even greater options to redesign themselves or their children. Those options include two different choices.

First humans in the next century may acquire the ability to undergo gene therapy in which they can design or acquire superior genes to make themselves or their offsprings stronger or faster or perhaps more intelligent. 

A second option, is that human may be able to install enhanced mechanical bones in their bodies to augment their physical attributes or computers chips in their brains to enhance their intellectual abilities. 

In these cases a human will be a hybrid person with a biological body shaped by mutation and natural selection. At the same time the human body will have been significantly transformed by doctors using genetic engineering to modify his DNA or by engineers installing man-made implants in his head and body.  The resulting hybrid person will thus be a product of both biological chance and human choice.



07/09/24 07:59 AM #478    


Bill Kelso


                       The Changing Appearance of Mankind I

When the ecology of Africa was disrupted by the emergence of the Rift Valley 6 million years ago, our ancestors, who had lived in the canopy of a tropical rain forest, now faced a serious crisis. The growth of a mountain chain associated with the rift valley created a rain shadow over much of eastern Africa, causing the decline of much of the tropical rain forest that once blanketed the area.

                                            Eastern Africa: The Origins of Mankind

(If you click on the above screen, and then place your mouse over Ethiopia which is the area next to the part of Arica that jets out to the right, you can see the Awash valley, probably the original Eden of mankind. The green area to the west is the tropical rain forest of Africa, an area we will discuss in more detail when we look at the emergence of different races. The various lakes in Eastern Africa are another geographical sign that the rift valley is slowly tearing the continent apart)

                                                Where shall We Live?

While early proto humans shared this environment with their close relatives, the gorillas and chimpanzees, all three hominids choose different responses to the rise of the Rift Valley. The great apes and chimpanzees, for instance, choose to move westward over the rift mountains in order to maintain their traditional lifestyle in the tropical rain forest. Our earlier ancestors, in contrast, chose instead to create a new life in the semi desert plains of the savannah.

Despite their distinctive reactions to a changing environment, we now know that earlier versions of ourselves, as well as our chimpanzee and great ape counterparts are closely related. Genetically we share 98% of our genes with great apes and 98.8% or roughly 99% of our genome with chimpanzees, who are our closest relatives. While biologically we and our early ancestors as well as other hominids in Africa share a similar genetic makeup, it remains an open question if we are likewise descendants of chimpanzees. While some paleontologists argue that we evolved from chimpanzees, others insist that chimpanzees and humans are more likely two offsprings who descended from a common ancestor who has since died out.

Another open question in paleontology has been the issue of how humans actually developed. Because modern man is known for his intelligence, paleontologists initially argued that the first way modern man evolved was to develop a much larger brain. To cope in a more dangerous environment, man had to become smarter. But as archaeologists discovered more and more fossils of early man, they found that an increase in the size of our brains and intelligence was a latter rather than an early change in the makeup of proto man.         


                                              Changes in our Lower Physiques

                                                       Feet, Legs and Thighs

The first challenge facing our ancestor in their new environment was learning to become a full time walker in an open savannah. In place of acquiring a bigger brain, the first major challenge facing early man concerned the makeup of his feet and legs. 

While the issue remains controversial it is unclear whether humans first learned to walk on two feet in the forest canopy or on the savannah plains. At present most now think humans develop their bipedal walking style in the rain forest.  It has been proposed that bipedalism was initially a feeding adaptation that only later became a locomotion adaptation. Proto humans may have at first learned to stand upright before awkwardly moving about to reach fruit in tropical trees. While today walking comes naturally to us, we may have first stood upright and walked on two feet to grab either high hanging or low hanging berries, or citrus.

While the above anatomical changes that developed in the tree canopy initially gave our ancestors some advantages when they had to start living permanently on the savannah floor, life was anything but easy.  As we shall soon see their feet and legs were not ideally suited for humans acquiring a smooth and efficient walking gait.

Learning to Walk. Changes to our Feet and Legs.

To find food early proto humans often had to walk significant distance between the rapidly declining groves of tropical trees, necessitating a rapid change in their lifestyle. 


Unfortunately, their legs and feet were not designed for prolong periods of walking. For instance, their big toes on their feet were like their opposable thumbs on their hands as they stuck out to the side of their feet and were used to grab on to branches. Rather than using their big toes to stabilize their walking, their large toe was primarily a grasping instrument that primates used to prevent themselves from falling out of trees.  As our ancestors began to permanently reside on the ground our bodies evolved to cope with our new environment. For instance, when Lucy’s ancestors descended to the ground, and started walking extended distances, their feet were transformed so that their regular toes became shortened and rigid and their big toes moved from the side of their feet to became aligned with their smaller toes. We needed shorter and rigid toes because we no longer used our feet to cling to branches. While we kept our opposable thumb on our hand in order to grasp items, we lost our opposable big toe. In the process our feet lost their ability to hold on to a limb but in the process, we acquired the ability to walk longer distances 

At the same time, proto humans started developed a hard heel which enabled them to walk with a more relaxed gait. Our foot also became arched which acted as a generalized shock absorber, redistributing the forces generated by walking or running. 

Legs. Longer Legs and Shorter Arms

If the change in our feet was notable, a more significant change was in the length of our legs. In contrast to proto humans who were bipedal, which means they walked on just two legs, chimpanzees and apes knuckled walked, which means they walked on both their legs and arms. When these primates thus move, they do not stand straight up but rather are bent over as they are walking on basically four appendages, two legs and two arms. For chimpanzees and apes, their arms are thus longer than their legs. Their arms are the main force that propels them forward.

Since our proto humans were bipedal rather than knuckle walkers, evolution eventually led proto humans to acquire longer legs. As Lucy and other Australopithecus evolved into humans, their short legs grew and become the long legs we presently rely on when walking or running. Unlike our primate cousins, human evolved so that we have the opposite physique from out hominids as our short arms and long legs replaced the long arms and short legs of our primate cousins.   

Because of this anatomical change, our ancestors began to grow in height. While Lucy and her relatives were around 3 to 31/2 feet tall, later descendants acquired much longer legs which increased their height to over four feet.

If you look at the following internet link, which we showed in the earlier post, you can visualize all of the features we have been talking about. Look at Ardi’s arms, and feet with the opposable toe.

                                                     A Reconstruction of Ardi

The Location of our Femur and Knees

However, despite the changes in their feet and legs, humans had to undergo one more dramatic anatomical change before they could fully master the art of bipedal walking. That is they had to alter the angle of their femur bone so that their knees were directly under their body. 

Why is that? The problem with walking upright, is that humans run the risk of constantly falling down. But the problem can be corrected if our center of gravity is directly beneath our torso. To achieve that goal, the human femur, which is the largest, strongest and heaviest bone in the human body is angled inward so that when we are standing our knees are directly below our chest.  

To appreciate the significance of this point remember that the femur is also called thigh bone or the large bone of your upper leg that connects the pelvis to you knee. It plays a crucial role in your ability to stand, walk or run as it stabilizes your gait.

We can demonstrate this point in two ways. First put on a pair of shorts, and look down at your feet and you will see that your knees are angled inward. If this anatomical tendency is too pronounced people suffer from the problem of knock knees.

If you cannot see the angle in your legs look at the following link in Wikipedia on the femur.

                                        The Inward Angle of the Femur

Because the two femur bones angle in, we are fortunatele that our center of gravity is consequently below our waist which facilitates our ability to stand, walk and run.


                                            Changes in our Upper Physiques

                                Learning to Use Tools. Changes to our Arms & Hands

If the rise of bipedalism, that is the ability of humans to walk on two feet, was unusual, and a rare occurrence in the animal world, it was even more atypical for a bipedal animal to have well developed and functioning arms with physically adroit hands.

Bipedal Animals that Retain the Use of the Arms and Hands.

If we first look at the case of bipedal animals, we find that humans are the only mammals that walk on two feet. As mentioned earlier, both chimpanzees and great apes knuckle walk which is a kind of quadruple walking. However, while today non mamal animals such as birds walk on two feet as well as some dinosaurs such as the fearsome Tyrannosaurs Rex, neither animals had anything comparable to our well-developed arms and hands.

Historically when animals such as those described above who had once walked on all four limbs became erect, their forelimbs or arms slowly atrophied or wasted away as they were no longer needed. Once kangaroos and birds and dinosaurs relied on their feet for mobility on the ground, their arms served no useful biological purpose and declined in significance.

Fortunately, as noted earlier, when our ancestors stood upright and began to walk on branches in the tropical forest, they used their hands to pick and carry fruit for their families. Of all the animals on the planet that became bipedal in nature, early humans were the only creatures that retained a functional use for their arms and hands. When we thus descended to the ground, an evolutionary change that had occurred in the rain forest, served us equally well on the dry savannah plains of eastern Africa. Because we are the only animals to have retained or developed arms and legs, we acquired the ability to make tools to defend ourselves and create a complex society.

The significance of this development cannot be over emphasized enough. If animals in life acquire superior intelligence, but lack arms and hands, their cognitive development and intellectual insights are wasted, accomplishing nothing. Regardless of how many new and innovative ideas a creature may have, if they lack arms and hands, they lack the ability to make tools or to build anything of significance. While today we believe that whales and elephants are incredibly smart, they lack the ability to build a complex society. Even more important, they lack the ability to pass on any cumulative gains in knowledge to their offsprings as they lack the ability to write down their thoughts. 

Of all the animals that have existed on this planet, we are unique in that we are both bipedal and possess arms and hands that can create weapons or other useful instruments. 

Why Humans are late in Developing Tools

Despite our unusual capabilities for making items, physical anthropologists were shocked to learn that our early ancestors appeared to be in no hurry making useful devices. They had always assumed that once our humans ancestors were on the ground, they would start using their hands immediately to make weapons and other devices. But when scientist looked at the fossil evidence, there was a huge gap between the time when humans descended to the floor of the savannah and evidence that they were making tools. While proto humans had descended from the tree around 5 million years ago, there was no evidence that humans were making stone tools until the rise of humans around 2 million years ago. 

Changes in our Hands.

The reason for the lag in time may be that human hands were initially poorly suited for tool making. Before humans could begin to become significantly tool makers, they  may have required significant modification in makeup of their hands. To appreciate the necessary changes, compare the hands of a chimpanzee and a human in the following internet link.

                                             Human hands and Chimp Hands

If you look at the above link you will see that human hands are very different from chimpanzee hands. In the hand of a chimpanzee the fingers are very long and the thumb is very short while in a human the fingers are much shorter and the thumb is larger. Now you might ask why is this anatomical difference important?

If you want to make tools, especially tools that can be used as weapons to defend yourself in the open savannah, you need to be able to make two kinds of grips, a precision grip and a power grip.

Precision Grip

In a precession grip you must have an opposable thumb that can reach across and touch all of its fingers. This connection between your separate thumb and fingers enable you to use your hand to engage in finely tuned activities. 

If you look at the above link again of a human and chimpanzee hand, you will notice that the size of a human thumb and it fingers enable humans to actually use their thumb to touch to top of all of their fingers thus creating a precision grip. It is this connection between your opposable thumb and the tops of your fingers that enables humans to build sophisticated tools that often requires tremendous finesse. But given the length of the fingers of a chimpanzee and the shortness of their thumbs, their ability to make comparable tools are beyond their capabilities. 

Power Grip

If Chimpanzees lack a precision grip, they also lack what is called a power grip. To understand this point, place your hand in front of your face and make a fist. If you carry out this exercise you will notice that your fist is angled rather than square. Why is this point important? When humans close their fist, their smallest fingers can tough the base of their thumb. It is this close connect between your fingers and thumb that gives you a clenched fist or power grip that enable you to hold a baseball bat, or use a hammer to construct a home.

Because Chimpanzees cannot make a close fist or power grip, they have trouble of using branches as clubs to ward off potentially danger predators. They also lack the physically ability to develop a whole array of power tools to create a complex civilization.


As hopefully the above post indicates, if our ancestors had not evolved the ability to walk upright and use their arms and hands to feed themselves, they would never have survived when they were forced  onto the savannah in Eastern Africa. But even with all of these advantages our ancestors only thrived and prospered because Darwinian evolution modified our legs, feet and hands. 

But as remarkable as these developments were, in the next post, we shall see even more dramatic changes in the makeup of our skin and the changing nature of our faces. In roughly 5 million years, the physical transformation of ancestors was extensive. While the remains of Lucy are clearly those of our early ancestors, our appearance has dramatically changed since we first appeared on earth some 5 million years ago.

07/10/24 12:43 PM #479    


Bill Kelso

                       The Changing Appearance of Mankind II

While evolutionary pressure forced changes in our legs, feet, arms and hands, natural selection also modified our skin and facial features.

                   Our Changing Skin. The Rise of the Naked Ape

Like our primate cousins, the great apes and chimpanzees, our early ancestors were covered in fur. But after spending a million years on the East African savannah, our ancestors became naked apes, losing all of their hair except for their heads, eyebrows, under arms and genital areas. 

The key questions is why did we become naked apes once we lived on the ground rather than in the canopy of the rain forest. The answer is tied up with our new lifestyle and eating habits. In the tropical forest, we were primarily fruit eaters, but once we relocated to the savannah we had to change our diet.

In place of being fruit eaters we had to become omnivores, eating anything we could find in the savannah. Initially proto humans probably began to rely on chewing rough tubers and plants as well as eating meat they scavenged from left over carcasses on the savannah plains.  Generally large predators only eat about half of their meat on the animals they prey on, leaving plenty of left overs for vultures, foxes and our early ancestors. 

But once humans began to develop tools for hunting such as spears and later bows and arrows, they started killing larger prey. Unfortunately, humans are not very fast. Potential prey such as zebras and antelopes can flee their predators at fifty to fifty five miles per hour. While cheetahs can run around 60 mile per hour and leopards 55 miles per hour the fastest human Usain Bolt can only averaged 28 miles per hour even when he is setting the world record in the one-hundred-meter dash.

To make up for our lack of speed, humans were blessed with incredible energy. While we could not outrun the animals we hunted, we could at least track them for long distances and eventually wear them down. But the trouble with adopting this new lifestyle is that our early ancestors faced the prospect of dying from heat stroke. While other predators such as lions or leopards retained their fur, they could still excel as hunters and not overheat because they usually killed their prey after short burst of speed.

Given our slowness of foot, that option was not open to us. But by shedding our fur and becoming naked apes, our hominid ancestors now acquired the ability to sweat. Whiles some animals like dogs pant to cool off, we humans acquired the more efficient method of cooling our bodies by perspiration which involves the body releasing liquid from its sweat glands. 

In light of this new method of cooling our bodies, humans could now continue their new lifestyle as hunters on the African savannah without worrying about dying of heat stroke. While their hunting methods certainly differed from that of the big cats in Africa who often ambushed their prey, humans still managed to become the top predator in Africa. 

                                          Why We Still Have Some Hair

While our human ancestors lost most of their hair, they retained it in three places. First we kept hair under our arms and on our genitalia. In both of those cases there would be friction from parts of bodies rubbing against one another. The hair helped cushion our bodies from possible rashes due to friction.

Secondly we keep hair over our eyes. We retained eyebrows because they serve the very useful function of keeping sweat or perspiration out of eyes when we actively hunting prey. 

Finally we retained hair on the top of our heads to protect our scalps from overheating in the tropics. When we later discuss the rise of different races among humans, we shall see that curly hair is a much better reflector of heat than straight hair. That is why Africans, who evolved around the warm equator, tend to have kinky hair which basically means curly hair. 

Once humans migrated out of Africa to more northern latitudes, humans likewise retained their scalp hair. But in the cooler climate of northern latitudes human wanted to retain rather than disperse heat hitting their head.  To solve this problem humans in northern latitudes like Asians and Caucasians evolved straight rather than curly hair. In the more frigid climate of northern latitudes straight black hair was more effective in retaining heat than curly hair.  Whether humans developed straight, or kinky hair depended in large part on whether they evolved in the hot tropics or the colder temperate regions of north of the equator.

                         Our Changing Face. How we acquired a prominent Nose

Finally if losing our fur dramatically changed our appearance, changes to the shape of our faces also dramatically altered the way we looked. In fact, for the average human the most important point about a person’s appearance is the overall shape and possible symmetrical nature of his or her face. When Lucy and her relatives descended to the ground, their faces had relatively long snouts as their jaws extended beyond their faces. Their faces were radically different from that of a modern human. Like chimpanzees, our early ancestors like Lucy also did not have a really pronounced nose. Their noses were basically flat  and essentially embedded in their faces.

To appreciate this difference first hit the link below of the profile of a chimpanzee. As you can see their lips and mouth extend way out beyond their face. In contrast if you now hit the link below for the profile of a human being, you will notice that their mouth has receded in size and their face has become much flatter.

                                            A side profile of a chimpanzee

                                           Profile off a Human Face

As the mouth of humans has declined in size and their face has become more vertical in nature, their nose which was embedded in their face began to project outward and become a prominent part of their appearance. From the two links listed above it is very clear that the shape of your mouth and the size as well as the shape of your nose are connected. When you alter the size of your mouth you are basically altering the overall look of your face.

                              Why our Faces Changed I: We Became Less Violent

The obvious question is why the facial appearance of early man changed so much over time. The answer appears to be two fold. 

First, as we shall see in a later post. as humans descended to the ground, they became less violent with one another. Chimpanzee society is a very contentious and often violent society. To intimidate their fellow chimpanzees, chimps will often flash their canine teeth, teeth we often call fangs, to frighten potential rivals or enemies in a troop of chimpanzees.

                                     The Large Canines of a Chimpanzee

With the passage of time human populations became less violent. Once humans began to cooperate more and intimidate their associates less frequently,  they began to lose the large canines possessed by their chimpanzees cousins. As their front teeth began to decline in size the mouth naturally began to shrink in size.

                       Why our Faces Changes II. We Started to Eat Cooked Meat.

If the decline in violence in human communities was one reason why some teeth became smaller, a much bigger reason was the change in our diet. When our early ancestor descended to the ground 5 million years ago they often ate very rough and hardy tubers, or nuts. If they were also able to scavenger some meat from a carcass, it was probably dried out and very tough and hard to chew. In light of this diet our early ancestors developed large molars and premolars and even large incisors to cut and grind down their meals. 

But once humans began to hunt and acquired the ability to use fire to cook their meat, their diet completely changed. As their food became softer and more tended, our human ancestors needed smaller teeth to process their meals. As our teeth became smaller, our faces became flatter, and our noses became more prominent.



07/10/24 12:50 PM #480    


Bill Kelso

                   The Changing Appearance of Mankind III

To see how natural selection altered our make up, we finally need to analyze how our torso and pelvis also changed once we began our new life on the savannah of eastern Africa. 

                       The Overall Dimensions of Mankind

One of the most striking differences between humans and great apes is their overall shape. While male great apes, who have large bellies, tend be heavy set and pudgy, homo sapiens have a much thinner and leaner profile. The obvious question is why the two hominids differ so much in their overall appearance. The answer has everything to do with their diets.

Once humans began to hunt game and acquired the ability to cook their meals, their digestive track began to change. When animals eat high quality foods, they can get by with relatively small digestive tracts. In contrast, when an animals such as a great ape eats low quality foods such as the leaves, twigs and fruit of a tropical plant, they have to developed much larger guts to properly digest their meals. 

As we shall explain in a later post, when humans shifted to a high quality high protein meat diet, their bodies no longer needed to devote so much of their caloric intake to creating a large and complicated digestive tract. As their bodies began to consumer high quality food, humans could divert their source of calories to enhance the size of other organs such as the growth of the brain. As our bodies became slimmer, our brains became larger, greatly increasing our level of intelligence. 

                                              The Growth of a Barrel Chest

At the same time as early humans acquired a slimed down digestive tract, they also acquired a much larger barrel chest. This development was a dramatic change from the anatomy of a chimpanzee. Chimpanzees have a conical shaped chest which is large at the base but narrows at the top.  Given the dimension of their checks, chimpanzees don’t really have a waist. 

Among humans, with our barrel more rounded chest, we have a clearly defined waist. But the key point to keep in mind is that our enlarged chest will play a key role when humans acquire the ability to talk and sing. With an enlarged chest we acquire larger lungs which enables humans to possess a greater source of air to use in producing sounds. Without the modification of our anatomy, we would lack the physical ability to produce the melodies and harmonies of music that enhance our lives today.

                                           The Development of a Short Pelvis.

The last major development of the human body is the growth of a short pelvis. The pelvis which consists of a round group of bones is the middle part of your body just below your abdomen that connects your torso to your legs. While chimpanzees have a tall pelvis it is much shorter among humans. Although this anatomical difference may seem like a minor change of limited significance, it constitutes a major development in enhancing the tool making and tool using ability of early humans. 

Because humans have a short rather than a tall pelvis they can more easily rotate they pelvis when they throw an object. This anatomical change thus enables early human to accurately throw objects at possible predators when they ventured on the African savannah.

To appreciate the significance of this development, pretend you are a pitcher for the San Francisco Giants. If you try to imitate a pitcher throwing a ball at a batter you will quickly see that when you bring your arm over your head to release the ball, you will end up rotating your pelvis and hips which in turn will rotate your leg and foot. The rotation of your pelvis which constitutes the follow through on your pitch enable you to throw the ball in an accurate fashion.

Because of their larger pelvis, chimpanzees cannot rotate their pelvis and hips and consequently cannot throw objects very accurately. As a consequence chimpanzees who have well developed arms, tend to throw objects in an underhand manner. The difference in their anatomy explains why humans can better defend themselves against preys than chimpanzees 


As the changing environment forced humans to live a different life style on the African savannah, it likewise modified their overall appearance. For example, as humans began to hunt and cook meat, their bodies became leaner, freeing up calories to build bigger brains rather than a larger and more complex digestive system. As their barrel chest replaced the conical chest of chimpanzees, they developed larger lungs which later facilitated their ability to speak and sing. Finally as their pelvis grew shorter, they developed the ability to rotate their hips which enhanced their ability to throw objects accurately, affording them protection against dangerous predators. Of course millions year later, our shorter pelvis also enabled the Dodgers to hire pitchers likely Sandy Kofax and Don Drysdale who managed to win many a baseball game with accurate pitching. An ancient evolutionary change greatly enhanced the joy of Dodge fans in the 1960s.

07/10/24 12:57 PM #481    


Bill Kelso

The Growth of Racial Differences

The subject of racial differences has always been a controversial issue in discussing the rise of humans. To hopefully shed some light on this topic this post will analyze both why racial differences arose in the first place and when they developed. 

To fully understand the rise of racial differences in the human population, we need to keep in mind two points. First, if we focus on the question of when human races initially arose, we must realize that the development of distinct racial groups is of recent origins. In our earlier discussion about the emergence of man 5 million years ago, we mentioned that proto humans had a light complexion that was covered by fur. When our early ancestors subsequently became naked apes, probably around 2 million years ago at roughly the same time that humans replaced Australopithecus on the savannah plains, the resultant new species of mankind had essentially a white or very light complexion. Given the vulnerability that the loss of fur posed for early man, our ancestors who were naked apes, quickly acquired distinctive racial profiles.

Secondly, we have to remember the rise of all three racial groups, Blacks, Asians and Caucasians are nothing more than biological adaptations to different types of environments. Just as the lower extremities of our bodies evolved different types of feet and legs when we chose to live on the African savannah, both our skin and our faces likewise evolved different colors and facial features as we began to live on the very sunny and hot plains of east Africa. 

                                   The Emergence of the Black Race

Of the three racial groups in the world today, blacks were probably the first to emerge. To understand why that is the case, we should understand what unusual environmental challenges early humans faced when they became hairless. More so than any other later racial grouping, the early humans living in Africa faced the danger of intense ultraviolent rays and the problem of overheating. 

                                  The Unusual Climate of the Equator

The reason for the danger is that the tropical equator of Africa, where early humans first evolved, faces much more heat and sunshine than other areas of the planet. First, given the curvature of the earth the sunlight that hits the equator strikes a relatively smaller source of area than it does at norther latitudes.  Because that region’s sunlight is more concentrated, the area around the tropical equator receives more sunshine and heat than areas north and south of the equator.

Secondly, because of the tilt of the earth, the equator faces the sun all year round whereas the more polar regions may face diminished sunlight for roughly half a year.

                                     The Equator’s Impact on the Black Race

Faced with the above environmental constraints, the problem for early man was that as soon as humans lost their hair, they ran the risk of being exposed to lethal amount of ultraviolet light and heat at the equator, two conditions which could lead to serious medical problems such as folate depletion and DNA damage. 

Ironically enough, if becoming a naked ape enabled early humans to solve the problem of overheating, it created yet another problem in that it exposed people to the danger of ultraviolet rays. The symptoms from exposure to high levels of solar light include fatigue, a sense of weakness, neurological problems such as spina bifida as well as serious pregnancy issues which may involve your newborn children having an incomplete brain or spinal cord.  

To protect themselves from these harmful rays, humans quickly developed dark skin pigmentation which protected them from the rays of the sun. As everyone knows if you go to the beach and sit in the sun for hours and you are white, your body will become heavily sun tanned to protect your skin from ultraviolet rays. But if you extend your time in the sun and actually live in a hot sunny climate, your body will adjust by acquiring a much darker and permanent change in your skin color. One of the first biological reactions of humans to becoming naked apes was the development of our first racial grouping, which was the creation of black human beings.   

If the black race first appeared roughly 2 million years ago in Africa, it soon spread to other parts of the world when our early ancestors began to migrate out of Africa. The earliest movement of our relatives out of Africa was eastward roughly paralleling the location of the equator. As Africans moved out of the horn of Africa they moved eastward, following the coastline of the Indian ocean settling in India, Papua New Guinea and finally Australia. In light of this pattern of migration, there was a belt of dark skin humans that stretched from Africa eastward to India and Australia.

                               The Rain Forest’s Impact on the Black Race

While the constant sunlight at the equator was the primary reason for the development of the black race, another factor that darkened the skin color of Africans was their changing environment.  

When the proto human population of Africa began to expand millions of years ago  in the search for food from east Africa to northern Africa, they initially found desirable living conditions in their new neighborhood. But before they knew it, a radically changing climate ended up transforming their new northern homeland into the Sahara Desert that presently still exists in northern Africa. 

As the climate changed, early man in northern Africa faced a loss of their habit, food supply and drinking water as their former home turned into a bleak waste land. In search better living conditions, early Africans began migrating south into the denser jungles that makeup the rain forest of equatorial Africa.

If you recall an earlier post, you may remember that the growth of the Rift valley millions of years ago transformed the tropical rainforest of east Africa into a semi dry savannah. But around 2 million years ago, a second and even more dramatic environmental change occurred, which we hinted to above, which also led to dramatic changes in the climate of the continent. But this time it was not the growth of another rift valley, but the growth of a new ice age that dramatically altered the environment of north Africa. At roughly the same time as our species of humans began to replace our earlier Australopithecus cousins, the earth began an ice age that lasted from 2 million years until 10,000 years ago.

As a result of the above climate changes, Africa evolved into a land with three distinct geographical regions. 1) First in the east, stretching from Ethiopia to South Africa is the savannah, where early man first arose, 2) secondly in the north is the Sahara Desert, which before the Ice Age was a habitable grassland once occupied by the growing African population that spilled out from the eastern Savannah until the climate turned cooler, and 3) thirdly below the Sahara Desert is the tropical rain forest where early Africans sought refuge from the desiccation of their northern homeland caused by the cooling of the earth. 

You can easily identify these three regions in the topographical map listed below. The brown areas on the far right are the African savannah and rift valley, the home of early man, while the white areas at the top of the African map are the former grasslands of Africa that the ice age converted into the Sahara desert and finally the green areas in the middle of the continent are the rain forest of west Africa.

                                                   Topographic Map of Africa

As many of the early humans in Africa began a new life in the jungles of the rain forest, their bodies began to racially adjust one more time. If the latitude of the tropics was the main reason why people initially became dark, the new home or environment for many Africans fleeing from the north was a second factor the led to changes in their skin tones. Because early men were basically hunter gathers, there were real advantages for black Africans to become even darker in their new environment. The more completely individuals blended into their environment, the more success they had in hunting down their prey.

                                       Racial Variations Within the Black Population

In light of the above environmental pressures, the African population evolved into roughly two separate populations with various shades of skin color. If we were to examine the African population after the advent of the ice age, we would have found identifiable racial differences differentiating Africans on the eastern savannah from African living in the western equatorial rain forest. To illustrate these differences, look at the following two hyperlinks. The first picture is that of a San Bushman, part of a population that may represent some of the earliest humans that originated in eastern Africa. While the individuals are black, these Africans are fairly lightly colored. In contrast, if your look at the pictures of Africans from West Africa, you can see that their bodies have a much darker tone

                                                         Pictures of Bushman

                                                        Pictures of West Africans

But these kinds of racial differences should not surprise us as they are true of all races. When we look at Caucasians, we shall see that there is a big difference between whites from Scandinavians countries who are often blond with blue eyes and fair skin and Caucasians from Arab countries who have black hair and brown eyes. Similar Asians from Southeast Asia are much darker than northern Asians from countries like Korea.

However, the differences in the appearance between east and west Africans did not last long. Several thousand years ago, individuals from west Africa began a major migration of out west Africa into eastern Africa. This famous migration, which is called the Bantu migration, a name which refers to many of the languages spoken in western Africa, eventual lead to a mixing of the two populations. While today it is still possible to make an intelligent guess as to whether somebody is from Ethiopia in east Africa or Nigeria in west Africa, the Bantu expansion has clearly made the process much harder 

                                           The Bantus migration from west to east Africa

                                   Tomorrow we will analyze the evolution of the Asian Race.



07/10/24 04:23 PM #482    


Bill Kelso

                         The Emergence of the Asian Race

If the rise of the black race occurred roughly 2 million years ago when we became the naked ape, the emergence of both Asians and Caucasians as separate races is an even more recent event. The fossil evidence indicates that the rise of Asians and Caucasian among modern Homo Sapiens may have occurred somewhere between 40 to 30 thousand years ago. Since modern Homo Sapiens evolved around 250,000 years ago, the rise of two new races is a fairly recent occurrence. 

                            How the Higher Latitudes Shaped the Asian Race

The incident that spurred the creation of two new races, Asians and Whites, was the decision by modern Homo Sapiens to leave the tropics and migrated to higher latitudes in Asia and Europe. As the population of early human in Africa began to increase, there was growing competing between different groups of early humans for better hunting grounds. To avoid conflict at home as the continent filled up with people, early humans decide to travel north in pursuit of better hunting and gathering opportunities. What seemed like a simple economic decision at the time, eventually radically altered the appearance of the human race.

Once again changes in the latitude and later the environment that early Africans migrated to and eventually colonized eventually led to the creation of multiple racial groups on the planet. While the origins and early presence of the black race was shaped by the climate of the equator, the origins of the two lighter color races, Asians and Caucasians, was shaped by the very different conditions at the higher latitudes. 

If the areas of the equator suffered from two much sunshine and heat, higher latitudes suffer from too little sunlight. As is obviously the case, the factors that explain why there is an excess of sunlight at the tropics, also explains why there is a deficiency of sunshine at higher latitudes.

For example, because of the curvature of the earth, sunlight is widely scattered over a large area of land, diminishing the intensity of sunshine in northern latitudes.  But even more importantly because of the tilt of the earth, northern areas of the planet will often only receive minimal sunshine or ultraviolet rays for many months of the year.

                                       The Danger of Too Little Sunshine

Just as dark skins provide an evolutionary advantage to Africans living next to the equator, lighter skin colors provided a similar biological advantage to individuals living north or south of the equator. While too much sun and exposure to ultraviolet rays may cause medical problems, exposure to too little sunshine can be equally harmful to the health of humans. When individuals live at high latitudes with minimal or mild sunlight, they are at risk of suffering from vitamin D deficiency. The medical problems caused by our body’s inability to produce vitamin D in low sunlight are numerous ranging from minor problems such as fatigue to more serious illness such as developing rickets, suffering from a variety of cancers, experiencing cognitive decline, having immune problems or plagued by cardiovascular disease.

Faced with the above medical problems, humans evolved much lighter skin coloring once they migrated north to overcome the problems of less sunshine. Because individuals with lighter skin tones have less melanin, they can absorb UV radiation, more efficiently which enables them to produce vitamin D more effectively. Because the further north individuals go, the less sunshine they encounter, the greater is the biological pressure on individuals to evolve whiter skin tones. 

While the concern of this post is with the evolution of humans it is interesting to note that the development of different races among humans is a trait that it shares with many other animals. For instance, in the southern part of the US, there are numerous bears that all have black fur. But if you travel north to Montana or even Alaska the black blacks have evolve into brown bears or grizzles. If you go further north to the arctic, grizzle bears have evolved once again into polar bears. As the above examples reveal evolution’s impact on our skin or fur covering is not just limited to our own species, but affect many other animals species as well. 

                                    Why Did Two Light Colored Races Appear

Because of the distinctive environmental pressures cited above it is easy to understand why humans all became distinctively lighter in color as they moved north. But the question that remains to be answered is why human created two new racial groups rather than just one.

Why don’t all humans in northern latitudes look alike? The answer is that when modern humans decided to migrate north, they left in two distinct waves. These two waves in turn followed very different migration paths which resulted in the separate groups living in very different environments.  To fully understand why Asians evolved differently from Caucasians we need to examine in more detail 1) the actual migration route Asians followed as well as 2) the climate of their final destination. As we shall see shortly many physical anthropologists think the physical makeup of Asians primarily reflects their settlement in a very cold climate.

                                The Migratory Path of the People who Became Asians.

The migration path of individuals who evolved into Asians has two separate parts. In their initial or first leg of their migration out of Africa, they primarily departed from either the horn of Africa through Saudi Arabia or from Egypt to the area east of the Caspian Sea. To quickly find this body of water, click the link below and place your mouse on the map, which will enlarge the lands masses and clearly make visible the Caspian Sea. If you are still uncertain of this location, it is the area just north of Iran which is colored green. From this area, the groups that in the future will become Asians will turn east and travel towards China.

                                                    Map of the Caspian Sea

Now that we know where the Caspian Sea is, we need to take a larger bird’s eye view of the world atlas and compare the different routes the two groups took out of Africa. While the group that became Caucasians took a turn left and migrated northwest into Europe, settling eventually in areas close to the Arctic Circle, such as northern Russia and Scandinavia, the individuals who would be Asians settled in at lower latitudes. The areas in the map  listed below which is colored blue will become the home of Caucasians and the grey area under the blue portion of the map will become the residence of Asians.

                                          Percentage of the population who are blond

Since the travelers who migrated towards Europe settled in area of much higher latitude than those living east of the Caspian Sea, they faced real risks of vitamin D deficiency. Given these medical threats, natural selection created individuals with very white skins, and even blond hair. 

Since those who became Asians settled in an area at a much lower latitude, they faced less danger than their European counterparts of experiencing little sunshine. As a result, the biological pressure to lighten their skin tones was less intense. In the above internet link, we see that all those who develop fair skins and even blond hair, are primarily from Scandinavia and northern Russia.  Because Asians occupied lower latitudes they retained their black hair and evolved generally darker skin tones than their Caucasian counterparts. 

                                            The Second Migratory Path of Asians.

As significant as the first part of their journey was, the second part of their trip by the people who became Asians was equally important. After they reached the areas east of the Caspian Sea, the future population of Asians began a 3000 march eastward through what is today called Siberia, a journey that probably took several thousands of years to complete. This was a long and dangerous migration during a hard and unforgiving ice age.  

Before examining this environment of Siberia, it is helpful to understand how Asians settled East Asia. While Europeans colonized their continent by traveling from the south to the north, Asians colonized their continent by traveling from the north to the south.

Dzungarian Pass

If we look at the following link, it becomes much clearer how the settlement of Asia differed from that of Europe.  As the future population of Asians migrated eastward, they followed the Tien Shan range of mountains until they came to one of the most important mountain passes in the world, which is called the Dzungarian Pass, a pass that separates the Tien Shan Mountains from the Altai Mountains. Once you hit the following link, scroll down and you will clearly see the pass separating the two red circles outlining the different mountain chains.

                                                      Map of Altai mountains,

Once we know where the Dzungarian pass is, we can take a larger view and see how the people who became Asian settled their continent. If you put your mouse over the light purple area in the following internet link, the country today called Kazakhstan ends where the Dzungarian pass begins. As Asians poured through this gap between the above two mountain chains, their group split with some traveling northward around Mongolia to become the future populations of Koreans and Japanese.

                                           Map of Europe and Asia and Route of Asians

Leaving aside the development of northern Asian populations, the remaining migrants went southward in what is today called China. If you look at the letter a in the name for Mongolia and scan downward in the following duplicate map of Asia, you will find the city Xian (pronounced Shian) which will become the first capital of the Chinese people. Over thousands of years, the Chinese will move southward, eventually conquering the whole country. In the process they will also spin off other Asian groups such as the people of Thailand and Cambodia who will all migrate from south China into Southeast Asia, becoming separate Asian ethnic groups. Asia is thus settled from the top down as opposed to Europe which early humans colonized from the bottom up.

                                         Map of Europe and Asia and Route of Asians

If you are wondering whether some people elected not to go through southward through the Dzungarian Pass you would be absolute right. Those individuals will eventually end up in Alaska and become the indigenous Indian population we find in north and south America today.

                                     The Impact of Climate on the Asian Population

Given both the length and time involved in their long and difficult route through Siberia, it should not surprise us that their journey had a profound impact on their racial identity. Leaving aside for the moment the fact that Asians and European initially elected to settle at different latitudes, their different routes out of Africa resulted in these two separate populations facing very different environmental and weather conditions. This latter situation may surprise you as both groups began their norther migration to Eurasia at the very same time as the earth was in the midst of a severe ice age. From 2 million years ago to 10,000 years ago temperatures on the planet dropped significantly.

Even though the world as a whole was in an ice age, the severity of that ice age varied from one region to the next. For example, in a planet as diverse as ours, there is a significant difference in the climate of a maritime as opposed to a continental land mass. While the overall planet was cooling, a maritime area like Europe which is surrounded by water on three sides was considerably less frigid compared to a continental land mass like Siberia which experienced the full force of the ice age. Since Siberia was distant from any bodies of water, she experienced a dry windy climate with incredibly low temperatures.

Why these two different land masses faced such different climates is a topic we will explore in the next section.  But the significance of these climate changes is that they equaled the impact of latitude in shaping the creation of two new races. As we saw earlier, the impact of latitude on the creation of Asians and Caucasians was primarily limited to the color on their skin. 

In this post, we want to show how the climate and environment of Siberia and Europe, in contrast, had a much larger impact in shaping their bodily and facial characteristics rather than their skin color. When blacks, Asians and Caucasians finally evolved, they all had slightly different types of scalp hair, facial hair, noses, and eys as well as skin color.

                          How a Cold Climate Affects our Facial and Bodily features.

Hopefully as the follow discussion will make clear, the distinctive appearance of Asians may reflect their development in a very cold climate. In the 19th century biologists formulated two separate rules suggesting how living in an intensely cold region will affect an individual’s anatomy including his race. 

Bergman’s Rule

While physical anthropologists have modified their findings, the first rule which is called Bergmann’s rule states that in colder climates individuals are likely to have more compact bodies than in warm areas. In a very cold climate, the last thing you want is to have a body that is tall, thin and lanky. The reason for this development is that individuals who have compact bodies have a lower surface area to volume ratio than in lanky body types and are thus less likely to lose heat to the environment.

Allen’s Rule

Complimenting Berman’ s Rule is Allen’s rule which argues that in cold climates individual will not want to have appendages such as large noses or ears that extend out from your body. The larger and more extended your facial features are, the more likely they will become frozen and cause bodily harm. As was true of your body the more compact and rounded your facial feature are the smaller the ratio of surface area to volume which conserves bodily heat.

                                     The Bodily and Facial Features of Asians

When we look at the anatomy and facial features of Asian, they seem to reflect the above two rules. For instance, today you find very few lanky Asians. When we look at the average height of someone from both Japan or China, we find that the average female is 5.2 feet tall and the average man is 5.7 in both countries.  Among Mongolians who are in the middle of Siberia, there is a slight decrease in height as men average 5.6 feet and women are even more diminutive at 5.1 inches.

Body Size

As further confirmation of the role climate may play in shaping your physical appearance, we can compare Asians to what Europeans called the elongated African of East Africa. In East Africa, which is a relatively hot and dry Savannah, we find many tribes such as the Somali, the Fulani, and the Tutsi who are thin and lanky and close to 6 feet tall. The Maasi who live in Kenya are the tallest of the East African tribes and average over 6 feet 2.5 inches tall.

Facial Features: Noses and Eyes

The facial features of Asians also lend evidence for Allen’s rule. In contrast to Caucasians who have the largest noses of all three races, Asians tend to have relatively small noses. If viewed from the side Asians tend to have a lower nasal bridge than Caucasians, and a rounder tip. A bridge of a nose is merely the boney upper portion of your nose that connects with lower portion forming the nostril of your nose.

If you compare the profiles of Caucasians and Asians, Asians will also have a flatter shaped face. These features are well suited for a group of individuals who spend thousands of years slowly traveling through a very frigid Siberia.

The same principles apply to the makeup of their eyes. While we will discuss this topic in more detail in the final section of this post, Asian eyes are less rounded than Caucasian eyes and have a special fold at the bottom of their eye which is called an epicanthic fold. Evidently all humans have the ability to produce their fold, but if you possess a large nose, as do Caucasians, the fold remains hidden. 

Once again, this unique anatomical feature benefitted Asians traveling through Siberia. Because the Siberia is landlock, Siberia was not covered with snow during the Great Ice Age. As a result the population that would became Asians had to deal with intense dry cold winds which created large dust storms in the center of Asia. These storms were especially dangerous for the eyes of people living or traveling through Siberia. By developing the epicanthic fold, Asians developed some protection for their eyes as the epicanthic fold shielded their cornea from potentially damaging  dust winds.

Facial Hair: Scalp Hair and Bearded Hair

Finally the scalp hair of Asians is well adapted for living a prolonged period in a cold climate. While Africans generally have very thick scalp hair that is kinky, which is just a synonym for curly hair, Asians tend to have straight hair of average thickness. Why the difference? In Africa individuals developed thick kinky hair because it is very effective in diffusing heat from your head, preventing people’s scalps from overheating in the tropics.

Since Asians were living in a very cold climate far from the equator, they evolved straight hair thet helped them retain rather than diffuse heat from their scalps. But like their African ancestors, they kept the black color of the Africans ancestors because the color black retains heat. 

Since the color of your hair is genetically related to the color of your skin, Africans could do very little about the color of their hair. But in light of the thick and curly nature of their scalp hair, dark hair has little negative effect on the health of Africans. But for Asians both the color and shape of their hair helped them adapt to their cooler climate.

When we look at facial rather than scalp hair, we also find that Asians are the racial group least likely to have beards. As we shall see when we discuss Caucasians, while a beard may provide some warmth for men in mildly cold climates. they can be downright painful in a very harsh and intensely cold climate. When it gets very cold, you facial hair will freeze causing incredible discomfort.

The Color of Your Skin

Finaly the harsh environment of Siberian even had an impact on the skin tones of Asians. As we discussed earlier, the latitude at which you live is the primary determinant of your skin color. But the environment may also influence the overall color of your skin. Just as the rain forest of Africa darkened the skin tones of Africans, the dry windy and very cold climate of Asia affected the appearance of people’s color in Siberia. 

With the absence of snowfall in Siberia the winds stirred up huge dust storms of soil called loess that was yellow in color. Since early humans were primarily hunter gathers, they naturally wanted to blend in with their environment to enhance their hunting skills. While their latitude gave future Asians an olive color to their skin, they evolved a slighter lighter and yellow skin color to reflect their environment.

                             Tomorrow we will look at the rise of the Caucasian Race.





07/11/24 04:02 AM #483    


Bill Kelso

                   The Emergence of the Caucasian Race

While the Asian race evolve around 40,000 to 30,000 years ago, Caucasians may have evolved a few thousand years later than their Asian counterparts. 

      The Impact of Latitude on the Racial Makeup of Europ

Based on the above accounts, we now know that the racial characteristics of Caucasians are a reflection of both the latitude as well as the particular environment in which they evolved. If we look at both of these factors in more detail, we can gain some insight as to why Caucasians have different racial characteristics than Asians.

For instance, when we look at the latitude of Europe, it is easy to see why Scandinavians have fair skin and perhaps even blond hair. While Asians occupied lands at mid latitude, Caucasians colonized land at some of the highest latitudes on the planet.

But if you look at the populations of many European countries, especially those in Western Europe, it appears that a large segments of Europe, besides Norway and Sweden, have light brown or blond hair with blue eyes. Given the wide dispersal of light skinned individuals it is difficult to believe that latitude completely explains why so many individuals are fair skinned. Many Europeans at lower latitudes have the skin color of Scandinavian who live at much higher latitudes.

                            Europe’s Bantus Migration. The Impact of the Vikings

The above racial patterns suggest how complex is Europe’s racial makeup. Just as Africa had a Bantu migration that affected the skin tones of people in east as well as west Africa, Europe has had a similar migration that affected that affected the color of northern as well as southern Europeans. But in Europe’s case the dispersion and mixture of skin color was a result of a violent Viking invasion of western Europe during the 8th century rather than a peaceful migration of European people. Furthermore whereas the Bantu migration lead to a darkening of the skin color of Eastern Africans, the European version of the Bantu migration lead to a lightening of the racial features of Southern Europeans.

                                  Percentage of the population who are blond

To prove this point hit the above link which we used before and you will notice that the countries that have the most blondes besides the three Scandinavians countries are Ireland, France and England and Estonia, all countries that the Vikings occupied during the 8th century. The Vikings attacked Europe in two waves, with the Norwegians and Danish conquering Ireland, France, England and much later Italy. In contrast, Sweden, which is east of Norway, attacked Eastern Europe and even conquered the early territory that later became Ukraine and Russia.

For instance, Ireland is listed in the above map as a country with a significantly blond population. But initially the Celtics were a population that migrated from Eastern Europe to the west coast include France and the British Isles. As I have mentioned before probably the classic appearance of an Irishman is Pierce Brosnan who had jet black hair, reflecting his ancestors from southeast Europe. In light of the lower latitude of southeast Europe, it is not surprising that immigrants from that part of Europe look nothing like Scandinavians. If you recall who had Irish surnames in our class, you will recall that perhaps as many as 30% of our classmates who are or were Irish had jet black hair. 

But after the Viking invasion and conquest of Ireland, Scandinavian genes were widely spread among the Irish population. As a result among our classmates with Irish ancestry, perhaps 70% look like me and hve light brown hair with blue eyes.

The same pattern is true of France. Just as Vikings occupied much of Ireland, they also conquered and occupied much of western France. If you have ever watched any movies about WWII you have probably heard about Normandy, the site where American landed when they invaded Europe during WWII. It turns out that Normandy stands for northern men or Vikings. The Vikings who controlled western France, also invaded England and later Ireland from their base in Normandy. 

Today, because France was once occupied by the Normans, you can find many French men with blond hair and blue eyes. However, the Vikings from France not only lightened the skin color of England but also of Ireland. After conquering England, the Normans also tried to subdue much of Ireland. As we discussed in an earlier post when looking at people surnames, Irish names like Fitzgerald, Barrett or Burke reflect their ancestral link to the blond Vikings from Normandy.

Finally even the Swedes played a part in shaping the racial makeup of Russia. Even the word Russian means a person who rows which essential means a Viking. In the same way that the Vikings played a major role in creating Ireland, they also played a key role in creating the countries of Ukraine and later Russia. The blond hair of Putin as well as that of many other Russians may reflect some genetic links with the early Vikings who helped settle their country. 

                        The impact of the Environment on Europe’s Racial Makeup

While the above examples show how latitude influenced the skin tones of Europeans, we now need to study how the environment of Europe also influenced their bodily and facial characteristics. 

                          The Important Role Water Played in Creating Caucasians.

However before beginning this discussion, it might be beneficial to know why a maritime climate is so much more mild than a continental climate. Because the word maritime refers to the presence of a sea, the answer must obviously lie with the unusual geography of Europe. Unlike Siberia and northern Asia, Europe is surrounded by a whole series of seas. In the north is the North and Baltic Sea, in the west is the Atlantic Ocean and in the south is the Mediterranean Sea.

Specific Heat

The presence of so much water surrounding Europe has a major impact on its climate for two reasons. First water has an unusual chemistry which makes its resistant to sudden temperature changes. That special property of water is known as its very high specific heat capacity. While this term may seem overly technical, specific capacity merely refers to the ability of water or any substance for matter to either absorb or lose heat energy without having its own temperature rise or fall.

While an increase or decrease in ambient temperature or climate of an area will quickly raise or lower the temperature of soil or sand of a continental land mass, a similar increase or decrease in climate will have minimal impact on a body of water. Obviously the reason why it is hard  to raise or lower the temperature of water is because water’s specific heat is twice to six times higher than the elements found in solid ground.  This means that it takes a much greater decline in temperature during an ice age to cool the oceans than it does to cool a land mass. 

This resistance to sudden temperature changes in water explain why land adjacent to large bodies of water tend to avoid the extremes of temperature found in isolated land masses. In a state like Florida with a long coastline, the areas adjacent to the seas are thus always more stable than the areas interior to the state which more quickly can become very hot or very cold.

The Interesting case of Ice Cubs.

The unusual heat capacity of water even explains why ice cubs are so effective is cooing our drinks. If water had the much lower specific heat of soil, as soon as you took an ice cube out of the freezer, it would quickly lose its shape and its cooling ability. Because as mentioned earlier water has a specific heat that varies from twice to six times that of soil, ice cubs retain for some time their ability to refresh and cool your drink. 

Water and its unusual heat capacity also acts as a conservative force in moderating the world’s climate. If it were not for the size of the oceans and the usually specific heat of water, the problem of global warming would be much serious than it is presently. When the atmosphere heats us, the oceans absorb much of that heat without increasing their own temperature, thus moderating temperature increase on the planet.

Balancing the Earth’s Heat Balance.

Besides the impact of its unique chemistry, water has a second and equally import role in moderating Europe climate by its ability to regulate the world’s heat balance. As we mentioned earlier, because of the curvature of the earth, the equator receives much more sunshine than the higher latitude of the planet. Whenever there is a disparity in the amount of heat or energy one part of the earth receives, ocean and wind currents act to redistribute and balance the excess heat of the tropics by transporting it northward. In the Atlantic Ocean the current that serve this function is called the Gulf Stream. It basically takes the excessive heat the tropics receive and transports it north to Europe. The following link clearly demonstrates how the oceans currents of the Atlantic Ocean play a major role in warming the peninsular of Europe.

                                     The northeast direction of the Gulf Stream

The interaction between these two properties of water dramatically altered the climate of Europe from Siberia and Asia. The warm water brough north by the Gulf Stream and the specific heat of the bodies or water surrounding Europe, tempered the climate of the area. When people subsequently migrated to Europe they encountered a very different environment from that facing the people traveling through Asia. 

One of the most striking differences between Europe and Asia was that the European peninsular was extensively covered by ice. Since Europe was surrounded by water, she was subject to considerable precipitation and heavy snowfall. While the population that became Asians faced bitter cold, harsh winds of loess soil and a dry climate in Siberia, the settler of Europe encountered a more placid, milder and wetter maritime environment.  In place of dealing with the arid and howling dust storms, of Eurasia, they faced the relative calm of a peninsula covered by snow.

                           The Bodily and Facials Features of Europe’s Caucasians.

The effects of this climate on the bodily and facial features were radically different than those facing Asians. Since the temperature in Europe never equally those found in Siberia, Bergman’s rule did not apply to the European immigrants. 

Body Size. 

Today in Europe man average around 5 feet 10 to 5 feet 11 inches in height while women average 5 feet 7 inches. Only the Massai men from eastern Africa who average 6 feet 2.5 are taller than the Europeans. While the intense cold of Siberia led to more compact body types in Asia, the more mild climate of Europe created taller, and lankier Europeans.

Facial Features: Noses and Eyes.

The facial features of Caucasians in Europe are also very different from those in Asia. Of the three main races, Caucasians tend to have the largest noses. They generally have a large bridge which is the bony part at the top of your nose. Because both Africans and Asians have a flatter bridge which is often called a low nasal bridge, their noses tend to be less prominent than those of white Europeans.

The reasons why Caucasians tend to have larger nose than other races are two fold. In the southern part of Europe or in northern part of the Arab world, the climate is often hot and dry and evolution favored the development of a larger nose which could moisturize the air before people inhaled it into their lungs.

At higher latitude many Scandinavians also evolved generally larger noses because a more prominent nose enabled them to warm the air in their nasal chamber before they inhaled it. A large nose for Caucasians helped shield their lungs from air that was either too dry or too cool, thus protecting their lung tissue.

While a very intense cold lead it to develop a rather diminutive and rounded nose among Asians, in the less severe cold of Europe it led it to enhance and enlarged the noses of Caucasians. The later adjustment enabled white Europeans to more easily modify the air they inhaled. While one kind of biological adjustment was optimal for an intensely cold Siberia, a different pattern of adjustment was more efficient in the moderate environment of Europe. 

In a similar manner, the differential adjustment of eye shapes  of Caucasians and Asians also differed from one region to the next. Because of minimal winds and cold in the small European peninsula, Caucasians evolved no special feature to protect their eyes from the elements.  Unlike Asians who faced harsh dry winds, and evolved eyes with a lower epicanthic fold to protect their corner from hard dry wind, Caucasians eyes faced few environmental challenges. As a result their eyes were generally round and unprotected.

Facial Hair: Scalp Hair and Bearded Hair. 

However, there were some biological similarities between the two races. Because Europeans like Asians were living in relatively cold areas, neither developed kinky hair. Instead both races developed straight hair which was more likely to retain than disperse heat from their scalps. But because of their high latitude, Caucasians evolved a range of colors for their scalp hair from black to brown.

Caucasians also were more likely to develop beards because in a mildly cold climate, a beard helped keep an individual warm. In contrast an Asian living in Siberia had to worry that a cold wind could freeze the hair on his face, making his life very uncomfortable.

The Color of Your Skin

Finally, as we have seen the latitude at which you live is the main determinant of your skin tone. But the surrounding environment can have a secondary effect on your racial appearance. Since early men were hunter gathers, they naturally wanted to blend in with their environment. For instance, if you had a white face in a dark tropical rain forest, your ability to be a successful hunter might be compromised. The subject of your hunt would quickly realize their precarious situation and seek to frustrate your effort to track them down. 

For the new arrivals in Europe, their environment was covered in snow. Given the constant moisture in a maritime climate surrounded by seas, early Europeans had to operate in a white environment that experienced numerous snowfalls. To blend in with their environment, having a white skin served a useful purpose Besides their high latitude, early Europeans were under biological pressure to evolve very light color skin tones in an environment covered in snow.


In the roughly 5 million that have elapsed since early proto man was forced by the rise of the Rift Valley to abandon his life in the trees for a life on the savannah of eastern Africa, humans have undergone tremendous evolutionary changes. The rise of 3 main separate races has been one of the most notable changes in the anatomy of early man.

While the subject of race has generated much controversy and debate in the history of the world, we have to realize that racial differences are of recent origins. Only blacks from Africa can trace their racial origins back any significant period of time. It is only when humans became the naked ape and lost most of their hair that people became black to shield themselves from the dangerous ultraviolet ray of the sun.

If humans had been content to remain in their original home close to the equator, we would have only had one race for all of mankind. But because human populations began to expand, individuals started to migrate out of Africa. When they went north the human need for sunshine to manufacture vitamin D led them to evolve much lighter skins. 

As a result, the development of the light skinned Asian and Caucasian race are fairly recent development. In a life span that reaches back close to 5 million years ago, early humans only became Asians or Caucasians some to 40 to 30 thousand years ago, an infinitesimal small time given the life of our species. We also have to keep in mind that the earliest ancestors of both Caucasians and Asians were Africans with dark skins.

While both Asians and Caucasians developed lighter skins as they migrated north, the environments they settled in were so different, that it is not surprising they evolved into two different races.

In case any of our classmates want to learn more about this subject, this topic is treated in books on physical anthropology and human paleontology the two social science disciplines that study the origins of man. 

Because this process was so complex it may be hard to keep all of the factors shaping our appearance clear. To simplify matters, I thought I would finish this post with a short outline that summarize the difference between the races.



07/11/24 04:10 AM #484    


Bill Kelso

        An Outline of the Development of Different Races

The Original Location of the Three Major Races


a. Latitude. The Equator at Zero Degree Latitude.

b. The Environment. The warm Savannah of Eastern Africa and later the very warm rain forest of Western Africa

2. Asians

a. Latitude: Mid latitude

b. The Environment. A continental climate consisting of dry, windy and harsh cold conditions in Siberia.

3. Caucasians

a. Latitude: High latitude fairly close to the Artic Circle

b. Environment. A maritime climate consisting of the semi cold snow-covered peninsula of Europe.

Racial Features

A.Skin Color

1.Blacks. The skin color is light black in east Africa as well as a darker black in west Africa.

2. Asians. An olive color skin tone. Their skin color may also reflect the yellow color of the loess soil of Siberia

3. Whites. They obviously are the color white, but Scandinavians are much fairer and more likely to be blond than other Europeans. As you move south towards Greece or Arab countries, individuals will have black hair and a darker white skin tone.

B. Body Shape

1. Blacks. The elongated Blacks of east Africa such as the Massai are the tallest and most lanky of all populations

2. Asians. They tend to have compact bodies. You find very few tall, thin and lanky Asians.

3. Whites. They cover the gamut of bodily types but next to east Africans their population include many individual with a lanky build.

C. Noses

In an earlier post we mentioned that until humans began to eat cooked meat, which shrank the size of their teeth, the nose of early man was buried in their face. It is only when early humans started eating softer foods that the shape of their face became flatter, prominently projecting their nose beyond their mouths. 

The link listed before shows the profiles of chimps and their extended snout which is called a prognathism. Once humans lost this prognathism and their snout declined in size, their noses projected outward, occupying a prominent position on their faces.

                           How the Jaw of Humans shrank creating Prominent noses

However, once humans began occupying different environments the early nose underwent significant modification. 

1.Blacks They also have a small bridge which is the upper boney part of their nose. In contrast, they often have large nostrils which are made up of cartilage and skin. Unlike Caucasians who needed a large prominent nose bridge in the Middle East that could moisturize the dry air they were breathing, Africans living in the rain forest of west Africa livid in a very humid and wet environment and thus had no need for a large nose. African blacks could thus directly inhale air from their surroundings without fear of harming their lungs.

2. Asians. Since they travel through and settled in a very cold climate, they evolved fairly small and rounded noses which did not extend very far from their face.

3. Caucasians. Because their environment was very different from the tropic rain forests of west Africa and the extreme cold of Siberia, they tend to have prominent bridges. These extended noses helped moisturize the air in the dry area of Arabia as well as warm the air in the more moderate cold climate of Scandinavia.

D. Eye Differences

1.Black eyes tend to be round and have an upper lid crease. Since their environment was radically different from that of Asians they also lack an epicanthic fold that protected the eyes of Asians.

2. Asians. Their eyes differ in two ways from that of Caucasians and Blacks. If you click on the following internet lick you will see that they have an epicanthic fold at the bottom of their eye and they also lack the upper lid crease at the top of their eye, two features common in black and white eyes. While the epicanthic fold provides protection from the wind at the bottom of their eyes, the top of their eye is smooth and lacks the extra fold common among whites. By having a smooth price of skin at the top of their eyes, Asians avoid collecting dirt that were all too common in the middle of Asian dust storms.

                     The Differences in the shape of eyes in Asians and Caucasians

3. Caucasians. They tend to have round eyes with double crease at the top and no epicanthic fold at the bottom of the eyelid.

E. Scalp Hair

1.Blacks have very thick and curly or kinky scalp hair. Because the thickness of their hair protects their scape form the heat of the sun and the kinky texture of the hair tends to dissipate heat away from the scalp , their scalp hair helped keep them reasonably cool in the hot tropics.

2. Asians. Because they evolved in a cold climate, they tend to have straight hair which is always black. Black hair unlike blond hair is likely to retain the heat and straight hair is less likely to dissipate heat from you scalp, keeping your warm in a very cold climate.

3. Caucasians. They also have straight hair but it is often brown or blond. Like Asians their hair is straight in order to retain heat. While the blond hair does not retain heat, the color of the hair reflect the overall color of their skin.

F. Facial Hair

1.Blacks. They have facial hair

2. Asians. They are the least likely of the three main racial groups to have beards. In a very cold climate facial hair might freeze making life for a person with a beard very uncomfortable.

3. Caucasians. In the semi cold climate of Europe, a beard might provide some degree of warms for people living in a snow covered environment. 

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