Bare Bones Biology 277 – Healthy Living

Ah such luxury! I had to make a quick run to Santa Fe, actually to pick up some pills – it’s a long story, but nothing out of ordinary – only one more example of our loss of what we claim to be our “inalienable individual rights,” “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness,” and right now I’m thinking more about the luxury of staying overnight in a reasonably healthy motel.

At dinner, the tables were crowded, and I ended up briefly sharing with a couple from the West Coast who live in what they call the “last of the old-timey seaside villages.” The very last? Surely I was raised in a similar place. But now the place of my raising is covered in asphalt, and I have retreated to a basically unhealthy shack in the canyon — in an effort to enjoy good health.

The young people from the West Coast found it hard to comprehend that feeling healthy can be more important than having neighbors — or that it has become necessary for some of us to choose between the two lifestyles.   They thought it was sad.

140920-sky-ASC_2518RLSsI guess it’s hard for most people to imagine that me feeling healthy, and their children BEING healthy is in conflict with their own desire to have the lifestyle they were raised to believe is — healthy.

I guess it’s the essence of being human, to be working together – as families and as human communities (ref community) to fulfill our common human potential. I remember that feeling. It explains why/how the “greatest generation” was great. Everyone working together toward a common goal. It explains why our leaders keep trying to make us believe we are in a war against one thing or another – to keep us fulfilled and working together under their control.

My father used to say, as often as possible, that our own “inalienable rights” end where the other fellows’ rights begin. But the results of his “Greatest Generation” reductionist ethic are sad, indeed. I am living in a canyon because I want to feel healthy; and our food, energy and communications have been taken over by the corposystem that is not primarily working together with us to fulfill our common human potential, but rather is teaching the youth to work for goals that are neither achievable nor sustainable. And the grandkids have not been taught to understand the difference between needs, wants, rights and the facts of life. And as a result it is now sadder than sad that we have reached the point where we must choose between our aspirations and the common welfare.

To be fair to the great-grandkids, my father didn’t see it either. He and others of the “Greatest Generation” worked very hard to bring the dream to all the people. A healthy lifestyle in which everyone has a right to basic medical maintenance resources and crisis treatment without discrimination. Everyone has a right to a source of healthy food to eat, healthy water to drink, and healthy air to breath. Everyone has the right to a healthy place to live and a healthy place to work, and a safe, warm and healthy place to spend the night. And “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness,” but in fact we have no right to these things unless we fulfill our obligation to them. I think most of our young people do know this. They just don’t understand how they are repeating and recycling the mistakes made by the Greatest Generation, and intensifying them by using the greater power of modern technologies.

In fact, our world now is far less healthy overall, in spite of all the work of my father’s generation, because we have been working for the common potential of humans — without regard to the needs of the greater community of the Biosystem that gives us our food, water, air and energy. What makes this a new problem is that we have now overtaxed the productivity of the Biosystem.

Until we understand this fact, all our efforts will make matters worse rather than better.

The couple I spoke with last evening do not have the healthy-living perks that my father’s generation tried so hard to give them, but they don’t know it yet, so maybe they are happy. The people on the internet who are screaming at the world because they can’t have whatever it is they want that someone else has – they do know something is wrong, but they believe it’s someone else’s fault and if they could only figure out who is to blame – what? They don’t even know what they want – they want someone else to give it to them, whatever it is.

140920-sky-ASC_2531RSRSsMany people see the selfishness and greed all around them and they believe that the failure of the dream is caused by a failure of compassion. I disagree. I believe the failure of compassion is just another symptom of the failure of our reductionist ethic that builds human power but ignores the needs of the whole. The greater community of the Biosystem of which we are apart – the Biosystem that we require for our most basic sustenance (ref).

If we want to get together to grow a healthy human culture, then it will be necessary to screw up our courage and address the deepest CAUSE of our malaise, which is the relationship between Biosystem productivity and human consumption of resources. We must ALL work for two things at the same time – first of course we should use our own skills as best we can for our own welfare and the welfare of our human communities. That innate capacity is the glory of our humanity. But as we have seen through all the generations, if we do this without regard to the needs of the Biosystem that gives us sustenance, we will fail. Again. To succeed it is essential that we reduce the human “footprint” on the Biosystem, using any available humane technologies.

Many people believe that Healthy Gardening may be one way to achieve that kind of lifestyle. I agree, but only if we use our healthy gardening technologies to grow our understanding of how the whole biological system functions to stay to stay healthy. Whatever technology we pursue, be it gardening or something else, we must dedicate ourselves to — my health, within my healthy community, within our healthy Biosystem.

If we truly want to succeed, we must be very careful not to cause more harm than good with our good efforts. We must ALL address BOTH – the common human welfare, and the common welfare of Life itself, the Biosystem. There is no longer any other humane, sustainable way to work together for the common human welfare.

And now I will enjoy the selfish luxury of a strong hot shower after a warm night in a reasonably healthy motel – I expect they would rather I call it a resort — using soap that is healthy for me and for the Biosystem, before heading back to the canyon to prepare my soil for next year’s healthy garden.

This is Bare Bones Biology, a production of FactFictionFancy and KEOS radio 89.1 in Bryan, Texas.

The short version of this podcast can be downloaded at:


Recommended References: On right side of page look under “chapter” and download the pdf…-127-community/…28-¬-community/…0-community-iv/

Hey Texas! Show Your Support for the Open Internet

The debate on Net Neutrality is coming to Texas — and this is your chance to speak out.

FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai is holding an open forum on Net Neutrality at Texas A&M University in College Station on Tues., Oct. 21. Don’t miss out on this chance to show a key decision maker that you support real Net Neutrality.
Here are the details:
What: Rally and Speakout for Net Neutrality
When: 9 a.m. on Tues., Oct. 21
Where: Outside Hagler Auditorium, Annenberg Presidential Conference Center, 4347 TAMU, 1002 George Bush Drive W, Texas A&M, College Station
Bring: Bring a sign expressing your support for Net Neutrality.
Note: Right after the rally we’ll head inside Hagler Auditorium at 10 a.m. for the commissioner’s forum.
Commissioners rarely leave Washington to meet with the public, and as of now this event is the only one of its kind on the calendar. But Pai’s hardly a Net Neutrality advocate — in fact, he’d be happy to let a few mammoth companies lock down the Internet and charge us more money.
That’s why we need you there on Oct. 21.
RSVP today to tell Commissioner Pai that you’ll stand for nothing less than real Net Neutrality.


Bare Bones Biology 226 – Garden Recycled

“Because if I know how it works, I don’t need to be someone else’s victim. I can take care of myself.”   That’s what I said in (Bare Bones Biology 224 and here is your example.

140930-canyon-asc_2120RLSs copy 2The most important things we need to know about how the Biosystem works are described in Bare Bones Biology 225 (, that summarizes the three rules of how life stays alive. Rule number one describes very briefly that the Biosystem recycles all the materials of life, everything except energy, and especially organic macromolecules, such as proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, nucleic acids, and related compounds that make up most of our bodies after water. Organic macromolecules are made by living organisms. That’s why they are called organic. They are recycled as food throughout the Biosystem.

Even more important, we need to understand that the Biosystem is not separate from us and we are not separate from it. In fact, we are a part of the Biosystem, and so are our gardens and other sorts of agriculture. All of our food, water, air and energy comes from the Biosystem. Healthy food comes from healthy gardens that are created using healthy organic materials, healthy water, and healthy air. And of course healthy seeds.

“So what;” you may say. “I just want healthy food, I don’t want to learn chemistry.” This is fine. I don’t blame you. I had to take the course three times before I figured out what they were talking about. But the bottom line is that most of our body (in addition to water) is made of organic macromolecules. Organic macromolecules are put together in cells of organisms using materials recycled from their food. Or they were, until humans learned how to make them.

140924-squash-ASC_1997RLSs copy 2Now humans can “make to order” organic molecules to do various functions outside the human body, and frankly, as a scientist, I doubt very much if most of these compounds are adequately tested to determine what harm they may do inside our bodies. If you don’t want to learn chemistry — then the next best way to protect yourself from unnatural molecules of any kind, is not to eat them. Or drink them. Or breath them. Or touch them.

We do know that most of our foods are treated with pesticides and fungicides and other chemical molecules. The suffix –cide means that it kills – pests, fungi, insects. If the pesticide molecule, or a fungicide, or an insecticide gets into the cells of a peach and you eat the peach, what happens to the molecule? How does the killing agent kill? Does it break down in your body? If the manufacturer of the pesticide tells you it is safe, why do you believe him? Why does it break down? How does it break down? What are the side effects and the waste products? What ends up inside the peach cells that you eat?

What about hormones? For example, the hormones and pesticides you put on your dog’s shoulders or feed to your dog every month. These hormones and poisons can enter into the cells and tissues of the dog. That’s why you put them there. Do you want them in your cells? Your child’s?   Who says they are safe? How do they know? What tests have been run? Are the tests valid?

As individuals, we don’t have any good way to find out the answers to most of these questions, but one thing we know for sure. These compounds are now released into the biosystem and they will continue to circulate in all parts of the Biosystem long into the future. They will eventually be broken down into their components, but it’s Rule Number One of Biosystem function: they will not go away.

The most straightforward way to make sure you have healthy plants to eat is to grow your own plants in healthy soil using healthy water and healthy air.

This is Bare Bones Biology, a production of FactFictionFancy and KEOS radio, 89.1, in Bryan, Texas.

The podcast of this blog can be downloaded at:

Bare Bones Biology 224

Bare Bones Biology 225




Net Neutrality in Bryan-College Station

Texas Forever: Stand Up for Net Neutrality in the Lone Star State

Clear eyes. Full heart. CAN’T LOSE.

That’s the attitude we’re taking in Texas, where FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai is holding an open forum on Net Neutrality at Texas A&M University on Oct. 21. Pai is hardly a Net Neutrality advocate — in fact, he’d be happy to let a few mammoth companies lock down the Internet and charge us more money.

That’s why Free Press is organizing a rally right outside the forum venue. This is our chance to show a key decision maker that we will speak out and speak out and speak out until the FCC does the right thing and protects real Net Neutrality.

Commissioners rarely leave Washington to meet with the public, and as of now this event is the only one of its kind on the calendar. For months now we’ve been pushing FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler to host public hearings on his terrible Internet rules, but so far he hasn’t budged.

We’re about to announce our own hearings in communities around the country — but right now we’re grabbing this opportunity on Oct. 21 to stand up for the Internet we love.

If you live in Texas or adore it enough to be there on Oct. 21, we need you to sign up. We’re going to hold a rally at 9 a.m. right before the event, and then we’ll head into the forum together. We’re offering free bus rides to people traveling from Austin, Houston and San Antonio and can also help folks set up carpools.

Here are the details:

What: Rally and Speakout for Net Neutrality
When: 9 a.m. on Tues., Oct. 21
Where: Outside Hagler Auditorium, Annenberg Presidential Conference Center, 4347 TAMU, 1002 George Bush Drive W, Texas A&M, College Station
RSVP: Sign up here.
Bring: A sign showing your support for Net Neutrality

We’ve already made amazing strides in the fight to protect the open Internet. Millions of people have spoken out against Wheeler’s plan to allow discrimination online, and many leaders in Congress have done the same. And just last night President Obama had this to say:

I am unequivocally committed to Net Neutrality. It is what has unleashed the power of the Internet, and we don’t want to lose that or clog up the pipes.

I know that one of the things people are most concerned about is paid prioritization, the notion that somehow some folks can pay a little more money and get better service, more exclusive access to customers through the Internet: That is something I’m opposed to.

My appointee, Tom Wheeler, knows my position. I can’t — now that he’s there — I can’t just call him up and tell him exactly what to do. But what I’ve been clear about, what the White House has been clear about, is that we expect that whatever final rules emerge, to make sure that we’re not creating two or three or four tiers of Internet. That ends up being a big priority of mine.

It’s a big priority of ours too. Sign up for our Net Neutrality rally on Oct. 21. If you can’t make it please help us spread the word about the event on Facebook and Twitter.

Texas has a reputation for going it alone, but we’re all in this fight together — and we won’t rest until we win.


Net Neutrality has a lot in common with Citizen’s United. Both have to do with equality of citizens’ rights. We were not paying attention to our monopoly laws that were on the books to protect our rights, and the corporations took over all the media except the net and they took over our citizens’ voting right to one vote for one person (and they evidently took over the supreme court that claims corporations are individual voting persons). Now they are trying for control of the internet on the basis of money, which is more or less along the same lines.   My blog, for example, will not be treated equally with the advertisements of those same corporations.

I suggest if we lose our right to speak out on the internet we might as well pack it up and stop pretending that we care about the principles on which this country was founded. I follow the issues that I believe are most important to the futures of our children. Not everything that’s wrong, but the three or four or five issues without which we cannot grow a decent future for the children.   If we make it past those major issues, I trust that everyone else will be working on the other problems that are also important. But of course if there is no future – NOBODY can work on the “lesser” issues.

Net neutrality is in the top three, about third on my list. If you want to hear the President’s statement on that issue got to and start listening at 1 hour 6 minutes when a blond woman asks a question about equal access. He sounds political of course, but he does have an opinion, which is refreshing.

Bare Bones Biology 225 – First Frost

And as I said — last time was it? ( If we know how a thing works we can make much better decisions about how to work it.

And now the garden is over for this year ( and we are thinking about how to grow healthy food next year. We are thinking about how Life works to make food.

141007-BackYard-ASC_2272RLSss copyFood is made first by plants and consists of materials that cells are made of, and the energy to do the work. Energy cannot be recycled, but the materials recycle all the time through the Biosystem. Through us. Through the pine tree out my window. How do you think it stands up there? It’s made of very strong macromolecules, and these materials have recycled on the living earth through all the Life of earth.

The first miracle of the whole living earth is that it can use the same materials – rather the subunits, assemble them, take them apart, re-assemble them, over and over and over again, maintaining the balance of all the parts of Life, so that whenever and wherever they are needed, all the basic materials to make a living organism are available in the environment.


Our garden is now ended for this year. And now the “organic matter,” that is, the living things that have died, will recycle their substance to grow another crop of living things next year. Our job is to help this process without causing harm, and to figure out why some gardens grow food that is more healthy than other gardens (that we’ll talk about next week).


Anyone can make a garden. Plant a seed and the garden makes itself. But for us to design a healthy garden in an age of toxic advertising, we do need to understand the very most basic concepts of how Life stays alive. It doesn’t take science to tell us the first miracle of life. That Life recycles the materials of which it is made. So our first question is: “What is Life made of?”


141007-leaves-ASC_2297RLSss copy copyLife on earth is made of cells. Cells are alive, but they are composed of molecules that are not living things. Mostly the molecules that make up cells are five types. Water is one. Without water, nothing would happen in cells, and our gardens would not grow, so water quality is important. The other major parts that cells are made of are macromolecules. Macromolecules are huge (well, huge for molecules) and they are made of smaller molecules that I refer to as micro-molecules. Cells are mostly made of four classes or types of macromolecules: carbohydrates, lipids, proteins and nucleic acids. Carbohydrates, lipids, proteins and nucleic acids are macromolecules that the cells make by stringing together micro-molecules. The micro-molecules are made of atoms, mostly carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen. Molecules and atoms are not living things; they are chemicals. All materials are made of atoms, but the macromolecules are made inside of cells and they are made by the cells. These are called “organic” molecules because they are made by organisms.


Every living thing makes it’s own macromolecules that it needs to be alive. Whenever it dies, what is left is a body that is mostly made of water plus organic macromolecules (proteins, carbohydrates, lipids and nucleic acids). These organic macromolecules are then taken apart by some other living thing until what remains is micro-molecules and water that can be put back together to make the macromolecules of another living thing.


When we eat a beet, for example, we digest the beet macromolecules into micro-molecules so that our bodies can put the micro-molecules back together again in the form of human macromolecules, to make more human cells.


The Life of Earth stays alive by using molecules and atoms and micro-molecules over and over and over again. That is why the first miracle of Life is Death, because without death our environment would run out of atoms and molecules that it needs to grow cells. There would be no gardens and no Life.


So, anyone can plant a seed and it will grow itself if it has enough water and micromolecules, but our question is how to understand recycling in a way that will make healthy life in our garden. Next week.


Bare Bones Biology is a production of FactFictionFancy and KEOS radio, 89.1 FM in Bryan, Texas. The podcast can be dowloaded at:


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