Saturday Nerdery: Games of Thrones in the evolution of menopause, and Doctor Who in minimalist shoes

Killer whales are one of the three known animals that experience menopause, with females ceasing reproduction in their 30s or 40s and living beyond that into their 90s. Some have said that evolution doesn't select for longevity because it only cases about you living long enough to reproduce. Nonsense. In species with complex social structures like ours and like the killer whales, every individual matters and the elders can play important social roles. In a new study of killer whales, scientists found young males were three times more likely to die the year after their mother’s death. Older males over thirty were eight times more likely to die if they lost their mother. Young females didn't seem to be less likely to survive after losing a mother, but older females were 2.7 more likely to die.

This doesn't surprise me. I couldn't help thinking of the Game of Thrones books, which are very roughly based on The War of the Roses, and the roles that women in those stories play in promoting the interests of their sons. Crafty Olenna Redwyne, Cersei Lannister, Lysa Aryyn, Catelyn Stark...all women of varying ages who go to great lengths to promote and protect their sons, with varying amounts of success. 

Like the world of the killer whales, the world in Game of Thrones is one of war, in which day to day life is a struggle for survival. Killer whales inhabit diverse habitats and have many different cultures known as clans. Relatively pacifistic resident killer whales are sometimes preyed on by the more martial transient whales, much as the Iron Islanders in Game of Thrones raid and kill.


Killer whales, like us, evolved hunting diverse difficult prey in order to fulfill our requirements for high-quality protein and fats that our large brains need. Humans hunting elephants and killer whales hunting sperm whales require cooperation and complex knowledge. It is not surprising that killer whales have been known to assist humans in hunting. Killer whales are also known to pass knowledge on to their kin. Perhaps this is behind the development of complex social systems in which elders play a vital role in passing down knowledge and promoting the interests of their offspring. Interestingly, killer whales, like humans, have been known to kill other animals for recreational, rather than survival, reasons. 


On reddit people were speculating about Rory's really really nice boots in the episode A Town Called Mercy:

They look fairly minimalist and flexible, as if they would allow the foot to move somewhat naturally, unlike many western-style boots which are built for riding, not walking and have a clunky stiff sole with a pronounced heel. Unfortunately, such boots seem to be hard to find. Seems like every boot has a cement block glued on to it as if you are going to be working on construction, not walking around. The Japanese, with their flexible split-toe tabi boots worn in construction, which they believe are MORE safe since they allow you to sense the ground, show that such boots are unnecessary even for that. 

the picture on the right is from a catalog that used real workers as models...they are so stylish!

I've blogged about some women's options, but I get inquiries about men's shoes too. Some options that remind me of Rory's boots include this Quoddy handmade in the US Grizzly boot. Expensive, but seems like it would last a long time and the company will repair it for you. 

I've blogged about Footskins before and they have a nice men's boot option. Also handmade in the US, you can also inquire in order to get a thinner sole or for them to be built without padding on the bottom.

The Ugg Rivingtons, Vivo Barefoot Gobi, Born Ryder, Converse Sprint, Tretorn Highlanders also seem similar.

I bought the Cushe boots, which have a thick, but flexible and zero-drop, Vibram sole, and most importantly for me in Chicago, are very water resistant. They have a nice men's option called the After Ride boot. For women who like Rory's style, the Blowfish Ryder and Hatfield boots are similar.

Any other similar options? Let me know in the comments!