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Boy summits Colorado parking ramp

Robert Valko
Dear Darwin
Vail, CO Colorado

As I walked from the Lionshead bus stop toward the parking structure stairs, a bicycling mother and her 6 or 7-year-old boy approached the Lifthouse Condo parking ramp.

On their approach, mom looked both ways and zipped down the ramp, saying something about going to Haagen Dazs, expecting that Speed Racer – however elated and rotund – would roll with her. Yeah right.

As Speed’s eyes met the ominous, double black-diamond descent ramp, his training-wheels locked and he came to a halt. Paralyzed with fear, he peered down from the top of one of Colorado’s steepest 14 inch-ers.



Beads of sweat forming on his brow as visions of double-chocolate swirl danced in his head, he pondered a quicker but less life-threatening path than mother took.

He exited his Haagen Dazs assault vehicle for a closer inspection. Surveying the boy-to-man challenge that lay before him, he removed his backpack and sorted through it –keeping one eye on the ominous precipice and one on his emergency animal crackers, pooh bear, and a ski hat that read “Li’l Champ.”



He eventually found his altimeter, took a reading, and looked at mom. She was waiting patiently at base-camp.

“Mom, I’m gonna walk down,” he said.

A Republican was born.



Well, maybe.

Actually, researchers have found that liberals and conservatives can be identified by behaviors that have nothing to do with politics.

For example, conservatives are more likely to be disgusted than liberals if they accidentally sip from a glass that’s not theirs. They’re also more likely to “perceive disgust” and know if something is contaminated.

“Don’t vote for Obama, honey, the tuna is bad,” one East Coast husband was overheard saying from his kitchen window.

They’re also less likely than liberals to slap their fathers in a comedy skit (even if given permission by their fathers). In the words of New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, “Conservatives are more often distressed by actions that seem disrespectful of authority.”

In attempting to get to the roots of human morality, thus our political bents, Kristof also states, “For liberals, morality derives mostly from fairness and prevention of harm,” while, for conservatives, “morality involves upholding authority and loyalty – and revulsion at disgust.”

Jonathon Haidt, a professor of psychology at the University of Virginia, is a bit more colorful: “Conservatism is a partially heritable personality trait that predisposes some people to be cognitively inflexible, fond of hierarchy and inordinately afraid of uncertainty, change and death. People vote Republican because Republicans offer ‘moral clarity’ -a simple vision of good and evil that activates deep-seated fears in much of the electorate. Democrats, in contrast, appeal to reason with their long-winded explorations of policy options for a complex world.”

Might nature program us to be either conservative or liberal – to have democratic or republican nervous systems?

If so, might there have been an evolutionary advantage to either one over the last few million years? Well, if there was a particularly redeeming quality on one side, the least advantageous camp should have been weeded out long ago by natural selection. Since both versions of our species are still going strong, the advantages must be equal.

Thus, let us author a new creed for mankind: There shall be no bad tuna casserole and it shall be divided equally. (Maybe that’s what should have gone on golden record on the Voyager, instead of that silly greeting by Jimmy Carter: voyager.jpl.nasa.gov/spacecraft/goldenrec.html).

Robert Valko is a graduate or Northwestern University. E-mail him with column ideas at vailko@yahoo.com.


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