Mammoth Prevarication

Two day and back to gym. The lateness is due to the holy day yesterday which was a bit irritating: abuse of the meaning of the day with speeches appropriate for veterans’ day but NOT memorial day. And nary a mention of the Second American Revolution that motivated the holy day.

The podcasts today were scienceish and the one that caused the greatest irritation was an interview with some journalist who had written a book on de-extinctioning animals. I should comment that the author’s tone was actually quite practical if not quite direct enough for me. So pray do not take my comments as plagiarism.

The attraction of “de-extinctioning” animals, of bringing back extinct species, usually dinosaurs (Jurassic *.*) or woolly mammoths (cuddly plush toy) is a mixture of guilt (for vertically copulating the ecology,) romance (self explanatory,) and insecurity. It’s fundamentally a boggish thing and it is the deepest, most odoriferous, stercus tauri.

What can maybe be done is to grow one (or a few) almost/near animals based on modifying genetic material. But any animals produced from this are neither biologically nor ecologically those vanished animals. Genetically they are inexact and they will not be a species except as biological curiosities and P. T. Barnum exhibits. Take mammoths. They are herd animals. To bring them back we have to recreate their ecology (terraforming, in effect) and re-establish their herd social structure. Lots of animals, not just mammoths required. They have to be genetically mammoths, which they won’t be except approximately. And there won;t be enough genetic diversity for them to continue.

So all they’ll be is a continuation of a species going extinct. And when they go we’ll be even more depressed and guilty.

Better we figure out how to reverse out own headlong rave to extinction.

More than Memory

Mundane day. Also the holy day of Memorial. We are supposed to exalt the memory of those who have been slain in battle. At least the ones wearing uniforms. The non-soldiers are not relevant here. 

It’s a very misused holy day. As originally construed it was all about the second American revolution, the so-called American civil war. In those days everyone who served was either a volunteer (at least on the Confederate side) or accepted a bribe to substitute for someone who was being enslaved. That’s one of the contradictions of this war. The Union – Yankee – side had to compel some men to serve. And since the war is propagandized as being all about ending slavery in Amerika, forcing men to serve in the army – itself a form of slavery – is somehow compromising and contradictory. Of course there were also social compulsions on both sides, but supposedly – and we shall never know for sure otherwise – most of those who served were volunteers.

And honoring those who felt strongly enough to die in combat for their ideal – Nawth or Sowth – is laudable.

Perhaps it is. I can see two sides. Yes, organization has its benefits. Civilization and all that. And we’re going to die anyway so why not do so in a rush of endocrine secretions? Of course, one can ask why one should die for a parasite? That’s what organizations are. They take substance and put it to other uses. Including their own continuance. So there is an overhead. Thermodynamics applies.

The rationale for organization is that it benefits the members of the organizations. Is killing them a benefit? Maybe if they are discorporating of some horrible, painful disease, but does life qualify as such? So if organizations are beholding to us for their existence and are selfish in the process, just what and how much dedication do they deserve from us? 

I admire that those who died, at least purely idealistically, believed enough in their organization to discorporate for it. I am not sure about their rationality, however.

Sex and Marriage

No dihydrogen oxide falling. But I did oversleep a few minutes. Still got to gym on time if a bit frantic and the place was a bit crowded for a two day. As usual the podcasts were diverting but not memorable. Although the Guardian’s primary topic of the statistics of sexual activity was moderately illuminating. But, as always, failed to get to the real nature of humans. I suspect we prevaricate more on sex than anything else, especially to ourselves. Denial or insecurity I suppose.

Along that azimuth, I noted an article [Link] that talked about marriage by starting with a startle bit about the Southron Baptists advocating early marriage. Since Southron Baptists are among the most whackadoodle of the Southron theo-fascists my attention span was focused. The article claims that the church is pushing this because more young people are having congress prior to marriage. If we are to credit the latest English sex survey (covered in the Guardian podcast) the fraction is O(1.0). 

I should comment that I was raised in a Southron Baptist family and am the black sheep in part because I am not. Southron Baptist, that is. Or any other organized religion. 

When I was a kid, the Southron Baptists had pretty much abandoned their predestination origins. In fact, I didn’t find out about that until I studied American history after college. Instead, they were pretty much anti. They were against ethanol, drugs, sex, dancing, homosexuality, …. At least officially. It was also common among the members to indulge in at least one forbidden activity. 

My problem with the Southron Baptists, and almost all organized religion, is that they don’t want to have discussion. They don’t want to discuss, they just want to pronounce. A characteristic they share with the Muslims is an emphasis on – nay, demand for – obedience. And it has to be blind obedience. No asking the good questions like why is the deity so insecure that he wants prayer? At least the laudatory stuff that comes across as the most shameless suck-up. Baptists don’t discuss that stuff, at least with the outer circle and since I have never been part of the inner I don’t know if they do or not.

I have given up on testing. At least with religionists. They can’t handle it and are in adamantine denial. For the most part. But most go to the extreme of not discussing the fundamental questions that get paved over with the macadam of ‘holy scripture’. And without the freedom to discuss anything as rational adults, they don’t qualify. At least in my taxonomy. 

I am in favor of marriage. If it’s done right it’s a very constructive symbiosis. All the data indicate that the more mature the participants the higher the probability of success. And nothing is more wasteful than failed marriage except capitalists. 

And I don’t object to religion organizations having some role in formalizing the activity. That formality provides a much needed aspect of inertia, not that any religionist would likely use that idiom. But I do object to their autarchy and rule making. Marriage is hard enough without destructive constraints. Maybe the bogs need them. But I doubt it.

Real Right Stuff

Yesterday I received an eMail from a company called (named?) Huckberry to enroll in a contest whose first prize is primarily a ride in a “vomit comet” airplane to “Be An ASTRONAUT!”. [Link] Huckberry is a company that trades (preys?) on the individualism angst of their customers, mostly GEN Ys, by selling them ordinary things in a distancing frame,

I was a bit engaged by this contest. It brought back a flood of memory. Back when “We Seven” was published, I received a copy as a christmas present from a cousin. One of those name drawing things that organizations, groups, and extended families do to keep the nonsense and expense down. Evidently she thought that any boy – we were about that age – wanted to be an astronaut. I recall thinking what a horrible present it was to receive. But I read it anyway. I read any and every book in those days. Information deprivation; few books. Despite my parents being (sorta) readers.

I grew up in Huntsville. All of my primary and secondary schuling. Astronauts were a new thing and not uncommon in that town becoming a small city. NASA was in the news every night. They spent half their budget on publicity. 

And I was totally uninterested. My parents gave me a “jumpsuit” and a “space helmet” one other christmas. I wanted a chemistry set.

I can express my attitude. Consider John Glen. Trains for years. Sits in a rocket. Goes to orbit. Goes around the planet three (?) times. Lands.

Besides space travel is SLOW. How many days did it take to fly (?) to Luna? Three? 

This is not to say that I think manned space exploration and travel isn’t important. Eventually Tellus will get hit by a big space rock and we’ll go the way of the dinosaurs. And I have little desire to be a bird. Not sure if I care about my descendants that much but then this isn’t exactly free will. But until we get some propulsion other than rockets, and speeds at least two-nines of light, we’re just futzing about. 

Needless to say I didn’t enroll. Doing stuff is more fun than being an astronaut. Even a pretend one.

Cow Flops are Apathetic

Woden’s day. Calm. Maybe. Not having to motor to Nawth Alibam’s Shining City on the Hill. Too many medicalist engagements. Gym crowded but not harassing. Subdued. Podcast, an episode of the CBC’s “Quirks and Quarks” was a review of three books on nerdery and was not a total waste of time. Not that I plan to read any of them. Convinced of that. Bog books about science are nasty. They have no learning substance and they propagate “wrong” things. 

On which azimuth, one of my clipping services sent me a link [Link] to an article entitled “Social studies education facing ‘crisis’ as class time is slashed, departments closed”. Before we get too worried I should comment that this is about public secondary schules. It seems that social studies and science and such aren’t being taught in secondary schules because, surprise! surprise!, they aren’t covered on the standardized tests. And the world is coming to an end because of this.

What isn’t discussed is that this is fiscally motivated. The money the schule gets is directly proportional to the student scores on the tests so why teach something that isn’t going to pay? Good business thinking, isn’t it. Which indicates that the world isn’t coming to an end. It has already ended and the schules are zombies.

The implication is that the kids aren’t getting good education. IMHO this is a specious implication. When have the public schules ever provided good education. I refer again to Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s quote about good student learning in spite of bad teachers. An appendix to that is bad information. 

I have to ask myself what I learned in public schule:

  • Composition D-
  • Maths C– (exception rule applies)
  • Syntax D-
  • Spelling C-
  • Science C– (exception rule applies)
  • Social Studies F

so I am not all that upset at this teapot tempest. Now I did learn composition but not until I got to college and in practice, not until after. Maths and science I largely learned on my own. The only positive thing I can attribute to public schule is arithmetic drills – multiplication and addition memorization – that are anathema these days and indicative of how we have set ourselves up for failure as individuals and a nation. Spelling is called out because it is like arithmetic; it has to be memorized and at an early age. The mis-spellings I learnt then are still with me and I will carry unto death. It’s wired in us. 

I give social studies a failing grade because all it bothered to teach – in the main – was names (which I am terrible at,) dates (which are unanchored and thereby irrelevant,) and the propaganda ideas pushed by politics. What social studies I learned of value was either acquired in college or on my own. 

So if I got it in spite of the schule system, why should I worry? (Thank you Alfred!) Because those who are successful and learn in spite of the incompetency of the system are the minority. Sturgeon’s rule at least approximately applies, so 0.9 of all student cannot learn in spite of bad teachers and inaccurate, inadequate information. That’s why as a nation we are ignorant and deluded about birth control, evolution, climate, and almost any other aspect of reality. So we are doing ourselves in as individuals and a nation by feeding our kids mind stercus.

The only good thing is that it’s sparse. Which is the other damnation. So education is a farce and a prevarication. So it doesn’t matter what we do until we get fed up with failure and ignorance and stupidity and start all over. Which we won’t do.


For now.

Old Biology

This is going to be one of those extended weeks of rather intense medicalist entanglement so blogging will be a bit off. How much I say will depend on factors including exhaustion and discomfort (e,g,. PAIN!) 

Along that azimuth, I ran across this cartoon: [Link]

this weekend and immediately thought about how accurate the first part was – the avoidance of steps and such; going up is easier (!) than going down and it isn’t just seeing one’s feet in the bifocals – and clueless in the second part. Not about the young woman whose breeding fitness is demonstrated by ignoring old men – they seem to instinctively know the DNA rots after 40 – but the difference between geek and nerd. I am bemused by the religion aspect but that may be nothing more than common usage and/or audience demographics – lots of bogs. 

But there is a perception among many young women that geeks can be reformed but nerds cannot. Reformation in this case means reducing to bogdom and doing all of the husband things ala Wrangham. 

I decline to get into the arguments over sociability versus intellect as heritable characteristics.