Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Ring And The Finger - Any Old Finger

Most everyone knows the tradition of wearing an engagement ring or wedding ring on the left hand. As to which finger, we all know which finger. It's a matter of which finger we want to call it. For some, it is the fourth finger of the left hand, the ring finger. For those that have a penchant for accuracy (and perhaps hair-splitting) they say it is the third finger of the left hand. The thumb is not technically considered a finger, but a thumb. An opposing thumb, to be more exact. And we all know that a finger is not a thumb, and a thumb is not a finger.

Now that we've got that out of the way, there is a current trend for finger rings to be worn on any finger on either hand, not just the ring finger. Rings are even worn on toes, but those are not finger rings. They are toe rings, and are off the subject. So what is the subject? The symbolism that goes with a ring on a specific finger, that's what. I've read a lot about it, some of it interesting, some of it pretty far out there. So here's my tongue in cheek interpretations of wearing rings on specific fingers. Take it or leave it:

Thumb - Forget about the thumb technically not being a finger. For this discussion, it's a finger. The thumb is the finger of willpower, so some say. It is typically thought of as being separate from the fingers, (again with the hair-splitting!) thus is a sign of independence. It is also a finger of power. Thumbs up or thumbs down as an example. So a person wearing a ring on the thumb is independent, has strong willpower, is powerful, and is a hair splitter, best I can figure out.

Index Finger - First finger or second, as you like. The finger that is wagged and pointed. It literally reeks of authority. And also stubbornness, being bossy, being condescending, and the need to be in control. All positive attributes if you're trying to bully your way through life. A ring worn on this finger means you are an authority freak and want everyone to know it (as if they didn't already).

Middle Finger - or second finger, as you like. The finger of identity. It is the strongest finger of the hand, and can also represent a tremendously large ego. No wonder it is the finger used for the well-known obscene sign of defiance and disregard. A ring on this finger can mean a whole slew of different things, so the poobahs say. But my interpretation is that a ring worn on this finger reveals that the wearer is nothing more than a vulgar egomaniac.

Fourth Finger - Or third finger, or ring finger. The tradition of wearing an engagement ring and wedding ring on the ring finger of the left hand is not universal. Some cultures wear it on the right hand. in either case, the ring finger is a symbol of creativity. It is also the least independent of all the fingers. Because the vast majority of people that wear rings wear them on the fourth finger, there is no end to all of its positive attributes, and hardly any bad attributes associated with it. I wear a ring on the ring finger of each hand, so I agree.

Little Finger - Or fourth finger, or pinkie. The finger of relationships. It is farthest from the thumb, and we all know that the thumb is the 'hooray for me' finger. So the pinkie is opposite from meaning from the thumb. Despite its smaller size, it is a big symbol about anything the person wearing a ring on it wants to acknowledge, most of it flattering.

After all that, there remains but one more possibility, one more symbolic reason people wear a ring on a finger. This possibility applies to any finger of any hand. Perhaps, just maybe, despite all the new age malarkey and abba dabba silliness, people just like to wear rings. On any finger. Period.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

When Did Humans Start Wearing Clothes?

There are many schools of thought and belief about the origins of humans. Some purely religious, some purely scientific, some mix the two. Regardless of which school of thought, it seems obvious that the first humans on this earth lived in warm climates. I suppose there are those who will argue about this, but I am proceeding under the assumption that the first humans lived in a climate that was sufficiently warm to keep them alive without clothing.

Pursuing that thought can reveal possible reasons humans began to wear clothing. For warmth and protection, especially when humans begin migrating to colder climates. Further down the line of human progress, the naked body became taboo and modesty came into the picture. It's very easy to come up with some reasons for wearing clothes. But now ask the question, "When did humans begin wearing clothes?"

Not an earth-shattering question. Perhaps not a question many people would think very important (or possible) to get an answer to. But there are those who burn with the desire to get an answer to this question, believe it or not.

Groups of researchers have thought of possible ways to determine the approximate date of apparel wearing. One idea says this could be determined by analyzing the date of origin of human body lice. The reasoning is that since humans have sparse body hair, the only way human body lice could survive would be in clothing. Seems an awfully long stretch to me. What about lice jumping off an animal and chowing down on a human? But supposed serious research has been done under this premise.

So how to determine when body lice appeared on humans? Simple. Take a modern day louse and do a genetic analysis of it. One group has determined that the human body louse appeared roughly 107,000 years ago, thus humans began to wear clothing about the same time. But nothing is that simple, let alone the ancestral DNA of a louse, for yet another team of researchers did the same genetic analysis on the modern louse and determined that it appeared roughly 540,000 years ago. The two groups are still haggling about it.

This is all according to some articles I've read on the Internet. Of course, reading something on the Internet doesn't make it so. It is hard to believe that scientists would take the trouble to invest effort, time and money on such a project. And just think of how many innocent body lice had to be sacrificed.

While I can't verify all of this, as ludicrous as it seems it most certainly is possible that this research has happened. Especially if you consider these other areas of research, a mere handful of crazy research projects I found while surfing the 'net:
  • Arm pit odor research.
  • Research to determine the relationship between beards and hierarchy.
  • Research to prove that familiar children's nursery rhymes were written by aliens.
After reading those, the possibility of scientists hovering over a dead body louse and extracting its DNA to determine when humans began to wear clothing doesn't seem so far fetched. But if this research did take place, I don't mind saying I think it was a lousy idea.

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