Eyes to the Wind (2014) – The War on Drugs

Three songs will appear here from the superb album – Lost in the Dream by The War on Drugs starting with today’s track Eyes to the Wind. This is an epic Americana folk-rock song and my favourite from the record. The production and meshing of sounds; the momentum it builds; and the lyrics conjure in my mind atmospheric Americana images of breezy air, terrain, culture and music history – all intertwined. It’s just an amazing musical accomplishment by this group and definitely a Desert Island keeper.

I was sailin’ down here on the wind
When I met you and I fell away again
Like a train in reverse down a dark road
Carrying the whole load just rattling the whole way home

Have you fixed your eyes to the wind?
Will you let it pull you in again on the way back in?
I’m a bit run down here at the moment
Let me think about it, babe
Let me hold you

The recording of this album Lost in The Dream took over 2 years, but this song was written by frontman Granduciel apparently in four minutes in his kitchen. According to wikipedia: Musically, the record was inspired by 1980s rock, as well as Americana, with influences including Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, Bob Dylan and Neil Young & Crazy Horse.
The album appeared in a number of best album lists in 2014 and received universal acclaim. Based on 139 year-end top ten lists compiled by Metacritic, Lost in the Dream was the most critically acclaimed album of 2014.

Amy Klein wrote in her article at talkhouse.com: My favourite song on the album, “Eyes to the Wind,” takes place in daylight, though. It’s the turning point, the moment on the album where the clouds lift, the atmosphere drops away and Granduciel speaks to us at his most direct. The vocals are perfectly clear, with no separation between intent and effect; the production cedes control to the songwriting, which is not literal but wide open — airy, free. Granduciel’s guitar recedes, making room for a pristine piano way up high in the mix. The part is simple but memorable; there are no extraneous notes. Only at the end does Granduciel allow himself a little solo, which quickly gives way to a sincere deployment of saxophone. It’s an exercise in maturity and restraint — at the end of ambition, a pale blue summer sky.

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Bobby Fischer Against The World (2011) – Liz Garbus (Friday’s Finest)

Here at Friday’s Finest I usually present movies, but today I would like to delve into one of, if not my favourite documentary – Bobby Fischer Against The World. I revisit it regularly, like I did just the other night and find it captivating and a rich learning experience each time. This is not the first time I have mentioned this film. I wrote an article on one of my most prized books in my small and modest collection (I’m not a book hoarder) – Bobby Fischer – My 60 Memorable Games (First printing 1969).

I wrote: ‘More than any other chess player I found Bobby Fisher the most compelling, not only because he revolutionized the game and won the USA it’s only world chess championship during the height of the cold war, but because his personal life and psychological state were so perplexing‘.

Bobby Fischer Against The World contains so much rare film archive of Bobby and interviews with his closest friends, associates and chess experts whom explore Bobby Fischer’s family and upbringing, his remarkable chess feats (including a breakdown of his World Championship win against Russian Boris Spassky), and eventually to his life as a fugitive on the run.

Each time I watch it, I am staggered by how he coped with the amount of political and peer pressure representing the US against the Russians during the Cold War. It’s one of the greatest achievements ever accomplished.. full-stop. It’s marvellous that Liz Garbus was able to capture all of this to make one feel like they were there at the time seeing this all play out.

Liz Garbus began her work on the film after Fischer’s death in 2008. She said of Fischer: “It’s hard to imagine that in 1972, all eyes were on a chess match, but it does, in fact, seem to be the case. Bobby Fischer was this self-taught Brooklyn boy who took the New York chess scene and then the national chess scene by storm. And the Russians had been dominating the sport for decades. … So for an American to have a real chance at beating that [Soviet] machine, this was big stuff. … The symbolism of the match was enormous.

Recalling the day Bobby Fischer died on January 17, 2008 Psychiatrist Dr Skulason stated, ‘Once, towards dawn, he woke up and said his feet ached and asked if I could massage them. I tried my best, and it was then that he said his last words to me and, as far as I know, to anybody. Responding to my hands on his feet he said, with a terrible gentleness, “Nothing is as healing as the human touch.”

One of the poignant You tube comments below (which features the entire documentary) I’d like to use to close this article:

His youth and upbringing were marred by a lack of love, direction, and identity. Combine these with genius and a extraordinary proficiency at applying that genius to chess and you have a recipe for pain, rejection, foolishness, and antagonism. Never underestimate the power of a good mother and father.

References:
1. Bobby Fischer Against the World – wikipedia
2. The End Game of Bobby Fischer – The Guardian

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Posted in Movies and TV

Everywhere (1987)- Fleetwood Mac

I remember when I first heard this song. I was in Year 10 at high school and about to see a theatre production near Sydney which my friend Gary was starring in. Oh that reminds me.. you can find a wicked cartoon he drew of my family here. Talented so and so…
Anyhow as we waited for the curtain to open, they played the intro to today’s song – Everywhere on loop. The teasing bass-line intro and its interludes are my preferred parts of this Fleetwood Mac track which sold 1.8 million copies in the UK.

Can you hear me calling
Out your name?

You know that I’m falling
And I don’t know what to say
I’ll speak a little louder
I’ll even shout
You know that I’m proud
And I can’t get the words out

I am not familiar with a lot of Fleetwood Mac‘s discography, but I like the little I have heard. Everywhere was written by Christine McVie, who also performed lead vocals. It was the fourth single from their record Tango in the Night.

Fleetwood Mac was formed in London way back in 1967. Original band member Peter Green named Fleetwood Mac as a combination of the surnames of two other members, Mick Fleetwood and John McVie. They were initially a British blues band and had some hit singles. It wasn’t until 1974 that Lindsay Buckingham and Stevie Nicks were recruited after being seen playing folk-rock in a studio in Los Angeles. Interesting Buckingham only agreed to join the band if Stevie Nicks could also join.

The addition of those two lasses gave the group a more pop-rock sound and the rest as they say is history. Their 1975 self-titled album, Fleetwood Mac, reached No. 1 in the United States and Rumours (1977), Fleetwood Macs second album after the arrival of Buckingham and Nicks, produced four U.S. Top 10 singles.

References:
1. Everywhere (Fleetwood Mac) – Wikipedia
2. Fleetwood Mac – Wikipedia

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Posted in Music

White Nights (1848) – Fyodor Dostoevsky

‘My God!
A Whole minute
of bliss! Is that
really so little for the whole of
a man’s life?’

I’m currently reading Fyodor Dostoevsky’s short story – White Nights written early in his career and published in 1848. Dostoevsky has featured prominently here at Wednesday’s literature quotes. While reading White Nights I was astounded by his level of maturity and perception as a writer at just 27 years of age. Some have remarked that it’s a great introduction to Dostoevsky and if you like White Nights you will like Fyodor, and if you don’t you won’t.

Just one year after this novella was published, Dostoevsky was sentenced to death by firing squad on the 23rd of December 1849. At the very moment before the point of execution a cart delivered a letter from the Tsar commuting the sentence. Dostoevsky later alluded to his experience of what he believed to be the last moments of his life in his 1868-1869 novel, The Idiot, where the main character tells the harrowing story of an execution by guillotine that he recently witnessed in France.

Goodreads story outline (White Nights):
Set in St. Petersburg, it is the story of a young man fighting his inner restlessness. A light and tender narrative, it delves into the torment and guilt of unrequited love. Both protagonists suffer from a deep sense of alienation that initially brings them together. A blend of romanticism and realism, the story appeals gently to the senses and feelings.

Just half way through the book his powerful prose has caused me a lot of profound introspection. The excerpt below is one such example I can relate to. It was like holding a mirror up to my soul.

To give you some background to the excerpt: the narrator is a young man living in Saint Petersburg who suffers from loneliness. He gets to know and falls in love with a young woman called Nastenka. On the second night of their liaison, the young man opens up to Nastenka about his need for companionship and remarkable observations of life.

So if you have the time why not turn on the kettle and get tucked in:

“Oh, Nastenka, Nastenka! Do you know how far you have reconciled me to myself? Do you know now that I shall not think so ill of myself, as I have at some moments? Do you know that, maybe, I shall leave off grieving over the crime and sin of my life? for such a life is a crime and a sin. And do not imagine that I have been exaggerating anything—for goodness’ sake don’t think that, Nastenka: for at times such misery comes over me, such misery…. Because it begins to seem to me at such times that I am incapable of beginning a life in real life, because it has seemed to me that I have lost all touch, all instinct for the actual, the real; because at last I have cursed myself; because after my fantastic nights I have moments of returning sobriety, which are awful! Meanwhile, you hear the whirl and roar of the crowd in the vortex of life around you; you hear, you see, men living in reality; you see that life for them is not forbidden, that their life does not float away like a dream, like a vision; that their life is being eternally renewed, eternally youthful, and not one hour of it is the same as another; while fancy is so spiritless, monotonous to vulgarity and easily scared, the slave of shadows, of the idea, the slave of the first cloud that shrouds the sun, and overcasts with depression the true Petersburg heart so devoted to the sun—and what is fancy in depression! One feels that this inexhaustible fancy is weary at last and worn out with continual exercise, because one is growing into manhood, outgrowing one’s old ideals: they are being shattered into fragments, into dust; if there is no other life one must build one up from the fragments. And meanwhile the soul longs and craves for something else! And in vain the dreamer rakes over his old dreams, as though seeking a spark among the embers, to fan them into flame, to warm his chilled heart by the rekindled fire, and to rouse up in it again all that was so sweet, that touched his heart, that set his blood boiling, drew tears from his eyes, and so luxuriously deceived him! Do you know, Nastenka, the point I have reached? Do you know that I am forced now to celebrate the anniversary of my own sensations, the anniversary of that which was once so sweet, which never existed in reality—for this anniversary is kept in memory of those same foolish, shadowy dreams—and to do this because those foolish dreams are no more, because I have nothing to earn them with; you know even dreams do not come for nothing! Do you know that I love now to recall and visit at certain dates the places where I was once happy in my own way? I love to build up my present in harmony with the irrevocable past, and I often wander like a shadow, aimless, sad and dejected, about the streets and crooked lanes of Petersburg. What memories they are! To remember, for instance, that here just a year ago, just at this time, at this hour, on this pavement, I wandered just as lonely, just as dejected as to-day. And one remembers that then one’s dreams were sad, and though the past was no better one feels as though it had somehow been better, and that life was more peaceful, that one was free from the black thoughts that haunt one now; that one was free from the gnawing of conscience—the gloomy, sullen gnawing which now gives me no rest by day or by night. And one asks oneself where are one’s dreams. And one shakes one’s head and says how rapidly the years fly by! And again one asks oneself what has one done with one’s years. Where have you buried your best days? Have you lived or not? Look, one says to oneself, look how cold the world is growing. Some more years will pass, and after them will come gloomy solitude; then will come old age trembling on its crutch, and after it misery and desolation. Your fantastic world will grow pale, your dreams will fade and die and will fall like the yellow leaves from the trees…. Oh, Nastenka! you know it will be sad to be left alone, utterly alone, and to have not even anything to regret—nothing, absolutely nothing … for all that you have lost, all that, all was nothing, stupid, simple nullity, there has been nothing but dreams!”

“Come, don’t work on my feelings any more,” said Nastenka, wiping away a tear which was trickling down her cheek. “Now it’s over! Now we shall be two together. Now, whatever happens to me, we will never part. Listen; I am a simple girl, I have not had much education, though grandmother did get a teacher for me, but truly I understand you, for all that you have described I have been through myself, when grandmother pinned me to her dress. Of course, I should not have described it so well as you have; I am not educated,” she added timidly, for she was still feeling a sort of respect for my pathetic eloquence and lofty style; “but I am very glad that you have been quite open with me. Now I know you thoroughly, all of you. And do you know what? I want to tell you my history too, all without concealment, and after that you must give me advice. You are a very clever man; will you promise to give me advice?”

“Ah, Nastenka,” I cried, “though I have never given advice, still less sensible advice, yet I see now that if we always go on like this that it will be very sensible, and that each of us will give the other a great deal of sensible advice! Well, my pretty Nastenka, what sort of advice do you want? Tell me frankly; at this moment I am so gay and happy, so bold and sensible, that it won’t be difficult for me to find words.”

“No, no!” Nastenka interrupted, laughing. “I don’t only want sensible advice, I want warm brotherly advice, as though you had been fond of me all your life!”

“Agreed, Nastenka, agreed!” I cried delighted; “and if I had been fond of you for twenty years, I couldn’t have been fonder of you than I am now.”

“Your hand,” said Nastenka.

Here it is,” said I, giving her my hand.

“And so let us begin my history!”

(The following chapter – Naztenka’s Story turns everything we thought of up to this point on its head)

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Everything I Own (1972) – Bread

Everything I Own is the second song to feature here from Bread and although I am not as taken with it as I was as a youngster, I still hold it close for nostalgic reasons. It is from their 1972 record Baby I’m a Want You. I have heard of bad record names before, but this one – Baby I’m a Want You is right up there. Everything I Own reached No 5 on the billboard charts.

You sheltered me from harm
Kept me warm, kept me warm
You gave my life to me
Set me free, set me free
The finest years I ever knew
Were all the years I had with you

And I would give anything I own
I’d give up my life, my heart, my home
I would give everything I own
Just to have you back again

I don’t think I have seen a longer list of artists who have covered a song such as Everything I Own; it includes Shirley Bassey, Olivia Newton-John and Rod Stewart.

According to wikpedia: Although initial listeners may have interpreted it as a song about a broken relationship, Gates revealed that it was written in memory of his father who died in 1963 before he achieved his success with Bread….’My success would have been so special to him as he was my greatest influence. So I decided to write and record ‘Everything I Own

Bread was an American soft-rock band from Los Angeles, California. Gates explained: A bread truck came along right at the time we were trying to think of a name. We had been saying, “How about bush, telephone pole? Ah, bread truck, bread.”
Baby I’m-a Want You, was their most successful album, peaking at No. 3.

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Posted in Music

10/01/22 – 16/01/22 Tim Buckley, Big Ben & It’s Time to Live.

news on the march

Welcome to Monday’s News on the March – The week that was in my digital world.

Tim Buckley by Tim Buckley
Article at Add Some Music To Your Day

I wrote to the author Mick Macve of this excellent article how I was big fan of Tim Buckley’s Song to the Siren and how it was used in the Australian movie Candy – which I wrote about here. He led me to a fascinating audio podcast in his post of Larry Beckett reading the first verse and discussing the composition of the song.

Tim Buckley grew up in Orange County, California, surrounded by members of The John Birch Society and other right wing zealots. Despite (or because of) the unpromising environment, within a few years, Steve Noonan, Jackson Browne and Tim Buckley all emerged from the area, playing a similar brand of folk-rock. Tim Buckley was a popular student at high school and amongst his close friends were Mary Guibert, Jim Fielder and Larry Beckett. On October 23rd 1965, Tim Buckley and Mary Guibert were married. They were both 18 years old. Just over a year later, Mary Guibert gave birth to Jeff Buckley’…. (Read entire article here)

Big Ben Takes a Big Stumble
Article at Sarah Angleton

I believe I encountered Sarah Angleton’s blog via Bruce Goodman’s blog at Weave a Web. Sarah writes the most curious posts like this one about one of (if not the first) biggest media hoaxes in history:

It has been nearly ninety-six years since that fateful Saturday night when a previously peaceful unemployment demonstration in London’s Trafalgar Square turned into a violent mob ransacking the National Gallery and the Houses of Parliament, and knocking down the clock tower containing the famous Big Ben.

A shock, for sure, the wireless report from the BBC may not have been entirely unexpected by a nation made nervous by the recent 1917 Russian revolution. England had elected its first Labour Government in 1922 and the country was in the grip social change….….’ (Read entire article here)

It’s Time To Live – Jordan Peterson
Video at Jordan B Peterson

I was surprised to see this timely video appear from Jordan and relieved that it’s not just me that thinks this. It seems after his long illness he’s finally seeing things the way they are.  I highlighted some of the same concerns about the new authoritarian state in my Opinion Piece – ‘We are now governed under Chinese-Rule.

‘It’s mid January, 2022. I wrote this column this week for one of Canada’s major newspapers, the National Post, and thought I’d read it for those of you who want to watch or listen’.

An excerpt from JP’s article in the National Post:

‘These systems are now shaking. We’re compromising them seriously with this unending and unpredictable stream of restrictions, lockdowns, regulations and curfews. We’re also undermining our entire monetary system, with the provision of unending largesse from government coffers, to ease the stress of the COVID response. We’re playing with fire. We’ve demolished two Christmas seasons in a row. Life is short. These are rare occasions. We’re stopping kids from attending school. We’re sowing mistrust in our institutions in a seriously dangerous manner. We’re frightening people to make them comply. We’re producing bureaucratic institutions that hypothetically hold public health in the highest regard, but subordinating all our properly political institutions to that end, because we lack leadership, and rely on ultimately unreliable opinion polls to govern broadscale political policy. I’ve never seen breakdown in institutional trust on this scale before in my lifetime..…..(Watch video clip here)

news on the march the end

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Posted in Music, News, politics

Everyday is like Sunday (1988) – Morrissey

I came to the Smiths and their lead singer Morrissey late in my musical journey. Their music runs rampant in my music project, so I’m surprised this is my first post by them or specifically Morrissey solo.

Tat on her birthday 2019

It was because of a dear local friend Tatiana (pictured left) who is all hip to punk and alternative-music especially European (hence Wenn Du Liebst feat by Clueso which headed my blog) that I revisited the Smiths and finally revelled in their music. Funnily, this post will appear on my birthday also!


Everyday Is Like Sunday” is the third track of Morrissey’s debut solo album, Viva Hate, and the second single to be released by the artist. There are two video versions I love of this song, so I will present both below, the original release and the modern live version. This song like most of Morrissey’s songs are besieged with tongue in cheek pessimistic rhetoric. I find them quite humorous when it’s all said and done. It’s great prose:

Trudging slowly over wet sand
Back to the bench where your clothes were stolen
This is the coastal town
That they forgot to close down
Armageddon, come Armageddon!
Come, Armageddon! Come!

Everyday is like Sunday
Everyday is silent and grey

This song reached Number 9 on the UK charts and as you can see in the live version below remains quite popular. What amazes me is how I didn’t follow the Smiths and Morrissey earlier growing up.

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This is Spinal Tap (1984) – Rob Reiner (Friday’s Finest)

This is Spinal Tap was Rob Reiner’s directorial debut and he hit a home-run with this mockumentary. Rob Reiner went on to direct The Princess Bride, A Few Good Men, and Misery amongst others. Not a bad movie resume that! Spinal Tap epitomised the 70’s glam-heavy rock scene which was just going out of vogue in the 80’s. Reiner appears as the interviewer Martin “Marty” Di Bergi who followed them on their American tour.

IMDB Storyline: In 1982, the legendary English heavy metal band Spinal Tap attempt an American comeback tour accompanied by a fan who is also a film-maker. The resulting documentary, interspersed with powerful performances of Tap’s pivotal music and profound lyrics, candidly follows a rock group heading towards crisis, culminating in the infamous affair of the eighteen-inch-high Stonehenge stage prop.

Dozens of hours were filmed for this since it was improvised and satirizes the behaviour and musical pretensions of rock bands and tendencies of rock documentaries to fawn without scepticism the allure of these groups. This is Spinal Tap’s early release achieved little commercial success, but after its VHS release it garnered popularity. It effectively launched a new genre – the mockumentary.
That reminds me of one of my favourite mockumentaries in recent memory People Like Us – a British radio and TV comedy programme, a spoof on-location documentary. If you like Spinal Tap then you will like this short episode from the program.

Wikipedia states about Spinal: The entire film was shot in Los Angeles County, over a period of about five weeks. The visit to Elvis Presley’s grave was filmed in a park in Altadena, with a mock-up of the grave site. The band sings “Heartbreak Hotel” because that was the only Elvis song for which producer Karen Murphy could obtain rights.
In the same vain as Curb Your Enthusiasm (in part a mockumentary style show): Actors were given outlines indicating where scenes would begin and end and character information necessary to avoid contradictions, but everything else came from the actors. As often as possible, the first take was used in the film, to capture natural reactions.

What really impressed me about Spinal Tap was how accomplished they were as musicians and singers. You could actually laugh and at the same time enjoy the music. The irony is after the film opened, several people told Rob Reiner that they loved the film but he should have chosen a more well-known band for a documentary!

For music and movie trivia buffs outs there: ‘Several rock stars have commented on what an uncannily accurate spoof of the rock and heavy metal world this film was. Ozzy Osbourne said when he first watched the film, he was the only person who wasn’t laughing; he thought it was a real documentary. U2 guitarist The Edge said, “I didn’t laugh, I wept. It was so close to the truth.” Marillion had five drummers in the space of a year between their first two albums, which guitarist Steve Rothery later admitted was “like Spinal Tap”.

Below is one of my favourite scenes from Spinal Tap, although there are many, when we need that extra push over the cliff…:

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Posted in Movies and TV

Everyday (1957) – Buddy Holly

I adored this song as a kid in the coming-of-age movie Stand By Me. It is one of the monumental tracks in the origin of Rock n Roll music. Buddy Holly influenced the cream of the crop in music who started out in the 60’s. His life was tragically cut short at the peak of his young career in an air-plane crash on February 3, 1959.

Something about him seemed permanent and he filled me with conviction,” Dylan said of seeing Holly on stage. “Then out of the blue, the most uncanny thing happened, he looked at me right straight there in the eye and he transmitted something, something I didn’t know what. It gave me the chills‘. – Bob Dylan, Nobel Lecture (2016)

Today’s song, Everyday was released as the B side of Peggy Sue. Buddy Holly released it with The Crickets, but they are not mentioned on the single. This is just a wonderful production with a celesta (bell piano) – similar to the sound of a xylophone used to amazing effect and who can forget Buddy Holly’s ‘A-hey, a-hey-hey‘!

Every day, it’s a-getting closer
Going faster than a rollercoaster
Love like yours will surely come my way
A-hey, a-hey-hey

Buddy was just 20 years old when he recorded this.
He was born in Texas to a musical family during the Great Depression and learned to play the guitar alongside his siblings. In 1955, after opening for Elvis Presley, he decided to pursue a career in music and soon after got a contract with Decca Records. In January 1958 he appeared for the second time on the Ed Sullivan show and soon after toured Australia and then the UK.

After a show in Clear Lake, Iowa, early 1959 he chartered an airplane to travel to his next show, in Moorhead, Minnesota. Soon after takeoff, the plane crashed, killing Holly, Ritchie Valens, The Big Bopper, and pilot Roger Peterson in a tragedy later referred to by Don McLean as “The Day the Music Died“. More music will appear here from Buddy.

References:
1. Everyday – wikpedia
2. Buddy Holly – wikipedia

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Posted in Music

The AnkiDroid Collection (Part 10) – Heuristics, Egalitarianism & Senescence

Ankidroid additions related to Science, History and Philosophy.

Heuristics

Any approach to problem solving that uses a practical method or various shortcuts to provide solutions that may not be optimal but are sufficient given a limited time-frame. Examples that employ heuristics include ‘using trial and error, a rule of thumb or an educated guess‘. Simple heuristics are often developed by professionals who have to function in high-stress, high-uncertainty environments (soldiers, firefighters, health care workers, etc.). Heuristics appear to be an evolutionary adaptation that simplifies problem-solving and makes it easier for us to navigate the world.
One commonly used heuristic from George Pólya’s 1945 book, How to Solve ItIf you are having difficulty understanding a problem, try drawing a picture.

Egalitarian

Based on the principle that all people are equal and deserve equal rights and opportunities.
This reminded me of Jordan Peterson’s comments in many interviews including this one – ‘The more egalitarian your state, the bigger the personality differences are between men and women‘. I always enjoy seeing interviewers reactions such as this one from 3:00 minutes.
You know the mainstream press is a bit cuckoo, when you need a PhD tenured professor to explain that women and men are different, and is still looked at like he’s crazy.

Senescence

Biological ageing or gradual deterioration with age. The loss of a cell’s power of division and growth. But it is also plays an important role during development and wound healing. I got this term from watching the Brett Weinstein podcast with his wife Heather. He studied it during his dissertation work. Here is a short video with more information about it from Brett.

George Williams (one of the most esteemed 20th century biologists) recognised that pleiotropic effects..where for any gene the benefit came early in life and the harm came later, selection would tend to favour the gene in spite of the harm. The reason for that is fairly simple, the late life effect of that gene will not be experienced by nearly as many individuals as the early life benefit of the gene because many individuals wont survive to experience it. So the later in life the negative effect happens, the less selection is capable of purging it from our genomes‘.

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Posted in Science