Saturday, August 20, 2005


By Elaine Meinel Supkis

I got up this morning and read a Tierney item in the New York Times that gave me an eerie feeling. Once upon a time, I got tired of Maureen Dowd's incessant Monica stories and decided to send her an email suggesting she talk about Cleopatra and Cathrine the Great and other famous women who sought power and sex simultaneously. She did exactly that a few days after getting my email. She even used the examples in the same order I listed them. No attribution, of course.

In Tierney's case, it is not so direct but still interesting. I have emailed him periodically when he irritates the hell out of me. He is very shallow and awfully predictible. So he knows my website.

So it is a pleasant surprise to see today's column--The Golf Gene:
The ideal is a vista from high ground overlooking open, rolling grassland dotted with low-branched trees and a body of water. It would have been a familiar and presumably pleasant view for ancient hunters: an open savanna where prey could be spotted as they grazed; a water hole to attract animals; trees offering safe hiding places for hunters.

The descendants of those hunters seem to have inherited their fascination with hitting targets, because today's men excel at tests asking them to predict the flights of projectiles. They also seem to get a special pleasure from watching such flights, both in video games and real life. No matter how many times male pilots have seen a plane land, they'll watch another one just for the satisfaction of seeing the trajectory meet the ground.
Now, I am not the only one to notice that golf represents the male form of Garden of Eden. If one Googles "Garden of Eden Golf" one gets a slew of golf course names across the planet. If the course isn't named Garden of Eden, it is situated in towns called Eden. So this feeling that it is the perfect home is quite strong in a Freudian way.

But if you Google these words plus evolution and a few other key scientific words, you get mostly my blog which has run several stories on this subject. Endless Summer and Planet of Humans. Talking about the vedt (which is German for "world") has been an obsession here like in these articles: Human Impact Statement and Desertfication.

It is amusing and rather wearily predictible that Tierney would use his powerful podium to explain why men love golf rather than why it is a disaster that we are turning the entire planet into one huge golf course. It is true, men prefer the golf actions more than women do but turning landscape into rolling parklands has little to do with golf and a lot to do with the eternal quest for our particular Garden of Eden.

The English landscapers, when they really got rolling, used the natural actions of sheep grazing to artificially produce land vistas that are not native to England at all but are savannahs with lots of rain. Back in the 1600s and on, the weavers of cloth in the Low Lands and France wanted fine wool and to compete with Spain, the British upper classes herded the peasants off the land which was mainly cultivated as farms with narrow lanes and many long furrows that had been farmed for centuries, they were sent off to America and other New Worlds and the vacated land turned into sheep grazing areas. This altered the countryside tremendously. Hedges were grown to hold the sheep into distinct territories unlike in Spain where the nobles evicted the farmers and simply let the sheep go whereever they wanted which is why much of Spain today is desert. The British model was for well spaced trees because the grass stays green this way. Instead of letting it grow long and scything it in the hot sun, the trick was to semi-shade it and let the sheep crop it nonstop. The grass doesn't turn brown but the trees have to be far apart so the grass gets the sun at least 75% of the time as the tree's shadows shift as the sun moves across the sky.

The new sheep owning nobility loved the new effects and extended them and this is now known as "English Landscaping" which runs alongside the female equivilent, the "Domestic Cottage Garden" which is semi-wild but with carefully cultivated and pampered weeds that we call "flowers" which decorate things where sheep can't graze. This anti-velt world is the other pole of our evolution. Namely, women for eons sought food not on the plains but on the edges of woodlands where grazing animals haven't stripped the plants down to the bare nubbins. Roots and tubers and leaves and seeds grow where there are no great herds moving restlessly back and forth.

When we colonized plants, farming them meant once again, making artificial veldts only no grazing animals. Herding societies hate this and they often attack the domestic farming communities and try to overturn them and revert the land to the vedt grazing model. The most shocking example of this were the Mongols who, due to a degradation in grazing potential in Mongolia, suddenly shot out and tried to remake the entire continent into a vast, empty except for herds of animals, primitive Garden of Eden. To do this, they butchered millions of people and decimated the cities and destroyed whole civilizations and then parked their herds on the now empty places and happily herded away.

The fact that the nobility of England, very pleased with eliminating the vast majority of peasants who used to farm peaceably, and shipping them away or killing them outright, they went on to invent the game of golf. It is no accident this game originated in Scotland right after the nobles emptied out the countryside and installed huge herds of sheep. No longer did the lasses tend their vegetable gardens and raise children and rose bushes around the doors and windowsills, the little stone huts were set afire, their roofs burned and the inhabitants whipped away to the sea shore to board ships or trudge off to the cities to become displaced workers seeking day labor while living in crowded slums.

Many Americans can trace their roots to this displaced population.

The lust for this environment has brutal consequences not only on fellow humans but on the entire ecosystem of this planet. Rapidly, humans are turning the great Brazilian jungles into savannah. This will gravely alter the entire climate of the planet for these jungles along with the rapidly disappearing jungles of Asia and Africa, are the lungs of the earth, producing oxygen and sponging up the moisture and then regenerating it as rain. Having rain come down in 10" cascades at wide intervals is very destructive. This is happening more and more even during my own lifetime. 40"+ rainfalls in single storms happen with depressing regularity now, at least twice a year. The recent monsoons hit India in this fashion, in just one day, over 30" in the Bombay region.

A side story that interested me was the one about how elephants and lions should be shipped from Africa and released here to reproduce the American landscape that existed when humans came here during the Ice Ages. From CNN:
The idea of transplanting African wildlife to this continent is being greeted with gasps and groans from other scientists and conservationists who recall previous efforts to relocate foreign species halfway around the world, often with disastrous results.

But the proposal's supporters say it could help save some species from extinction in Africa, where protection is spotty and habitats are vanishing. They say the relocated animals could also restore the biodiversity in North America to a condition closer to what it was before humans overran the landscape more than 10,000 years ago.
This is peculiarily funny because this won't reproduce the former landscape that existed on the edge of the great ice sheets back then but will import the Garden of Eden from Africa, our home base! The Ice Ages didn't change Africa's basic landscape except to reduce the jungles greatly. This expanded the savannah and we are the apes that were pushed out of the dying jungles and onto the hot plains. We evolved rapidly as the plains grew in size and power.

I am happy the NYT editorialist who has gotten many emails from me and is aware of my site, agrees with me about one matter, it is typical that he makes it a silly story that doesn't tie into the many grave issues that surround it. He just wants to explain why mainly men love golf.

I want to explain why this love is fatal to our entire planet.

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