Godspeed, populists!

Leaving Babylon

The time has come, the walrus said, to reopen this blog. I promised a tribal post, but that will have to wait for final touches. Meanwhile, to go along with the current political frenzy (and yes, I am voting this time, in case you wondered), I offer you a timely post that emerged this afternoon from a discussion on the Small Farm Future blog, which itself was provoked by that blog’s response to JM Greer’s recent musings on liberalism.

First, I hastened to refresh my understanding of classical liberalism. I compiled this vignette from quickly perused sources.

Classical liberalism is a political philosophy and ideology in which primary emphasis is placed on securing the freedom of the individual by limiting the power of the government.

Main features: freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, and markets; rule of law and equality before the law; government by consent (constitution, checks…

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Bare Bones Biology 337 – The Song

161011-creation-asc_7028rss“And the spirit of God was brooding over the face of the waters.”(a)


Genesis contains one early telling of our age-old metaphor; and of course there are many others.(b) Each time we re-tell any of them from our current knowledge-base, our understanding of the metaphor falls more closely into line with the reality of the actual process of the Creation of the universe, because the new metaphor incorporates our greater knowledge about the reality of the universe. And with every new telling, the universe seems to grow, because it really is humongous. And the natural laws that generate, sustain and maintain the universe seem more awe-inspiring. Though the natural laws don’t change, we do. We never will know everything there is to know about the creation because we are the created, and not the creator.


So we have metaphors of several kinds; the good thing about scientific and mathematical metaphors is that there are ways to test them before we decide what to believe. And the good reason to do this is because we humans today have more power than we have knowledge or wisdom.


A new(h) version of our creation myth incorporates our new knowledge of the quantum level, and is explained for us by Dr. Seth Lloyd(c)(g)and previously by Nobel Prizewinner Dr. Murray Gell-Mann(f). It is in line with current cutting edge physics and biology, and is not out of line from previous metaphorical explanations of The Creation.


Each creation story, old and new, can be thought of as a “Song Flung up to Heaven,”(d) that we can use to help us know how to survive with poise, rather than bash our heads against a humanly indestructible universe.


The function and purpose of a human creation story is to generate human behaviors that are aligned with human survival within the reality that is what it is — because that simply is what it is (was). And that “was” makes it a historical fact that we cannot change and can only dimly perceive. Yet, through the ages and the people and their stories, we try always to better understand. Not to make ourselves rich and powerful – not if we are wise — but for our very survival as part of the whole of Life, for indeed we are dealing with an enemy to our survival.

The enemy is us. The Creation (including the Biosystem) is not our enemy – it is our current dominant ego-permeated world view that drives us to destroy, rather than nourish, our relationships with our biological environment.


We can’t win a war against the Biosystem because it is a war against ourselves; the Biosystem feeds us; it is the whole living earth, and it will do what it will do according to how it was created to function. So the more accurate our information about how it functions, the better our chances of survival, so long as we stop trying to fight against nature and natural law and use the power of our knowledge to align ourselves with it.


And life is ever-so-much easier in our chaotic culture, if we take the trouble to learn the rules, the laws of nature, as we are deciding what human metaphor to believe. Our proper place in the whole of Life is not bigger, more powerful, “richest” or “fittest” as that word us usually envisioned. Our best place would be wisely integrated.


We need an origin story that puts us in our proper human place relative to the Life of Earth.

We already learned these lessons. For just one beautiful example from Thich Nhat Hanh,(c) the so-called “emptiness” inherent in the “dependent arising of all sentient beings” represents reality in our world that is made of interconnected, interdependent, complex adaptive systems that evolved together – co-evolved — as a result of natural law.(b)(f)(g)

Drs. Murray Gell-Mann and Seth Lloyd (among other scientists whom they reference) have given us a creation hypothesis that does align with current scientific understanding of how the universe functions. I will try to paraphrase it for you next week. The required elements are natural law (I include natural selection) operating at the quantum level and above, on free energy, entropy and information.


(a) The Christian and Jewish Bible, Genesis 1:2

(b) Campbell, Joseph. 1976. The Masks of God. Viking Penguin

(c) Lloyd, Seth. 2006. Programming the Universe. Vintage Books.

(d) Angelou, Maya. 2002. A Song Flung up to Heaven.

(e) The concept of emptiness, wholely in line with modern thinking, but stated differently, can be found in: Thich Nhat Hahn IN: The Buddha and his Teachings, Chapter 25. 1993. Ed: Samuel Berchold and Sherab Chodzin Kohn. Barnes & Noble Books.

(f) Gell-Mann, Murray. 1994. The Quark and the Jaguar. W. H. Freeman & Co.

(g) Lloyd, Seth. 2016. Two recent video lectures at Santa Fe Institute.




This is Bare Bones Biology, a production of FactFictionFancy.Wordpress.com


A copy of the podcast can be downloaded at: http://traffic.libsyn.com/fff/Bare_Bones_Biology_337_-_The_Song.mp3


Bare Bones Biology 336 – Running Canaries

Bitsy and I are returning to the life of runners this winter. I just learned that a “runner” is the name for a canary who can’t stop moving, traveling, looking for a place where she can live without being made sick just from breathing the air, drinking the water and eating the food that have been polluted for profit by our dominant social system. We are lucky still to have a place to move to. (I think there is.) We are the “canaries in the coal mine” who suffer from MCS, multiple chemical sensitivities.



Now wait, suffering from a syndrome is how the corposystem likes to think of us – something wrong with us — a syndrome of abnormalities of which we should be ashamed. For the most part this is not true. Ours are mostly not abnormal responses to poisonous substances. They are, for the most part NORMAL reactions.


That’s what our bodies are for. To protect us from harmful aspects of our environment. Our bodies are SUPPOSED to react negatively to poisonous substances, just as they are supposed to hurt if we cut ourselves — so we won’t. And our bodies are doing a very good job of what living flesh was meant to do; that is, getting the poisons out of our systems, and telling us we should run away from them.


The problem is that our bodies are overworked, and the result is inflammations and reactions of various kinds that make us sick. Yes, we are more sensitive than you are, because the threshold of tolerance varies. Probably if anyone were to study it, chemical sensitivity is expressed in the population as a normal curve; that means it’s a multifactoral genetic response. But it’s very unlikely anyone funded by the corposystem will study it. They don’t want to know. Though there are some actions happening in Europe.


161013-color-asc_7211rssI can hear it now, some people out there thinking: “Survival of the Fittest, let them die, we have too many people anyhow.” (I remember that was also Hitler’s rationale, more or less, and look where it got him). But yes we do have too many people, and that is one cause of the pollution — but now we also have biological and psychological tools to reduce the population without killing people off if we ever really want to deal with our major problems.


And anyhow, evolution doesn’t work that way. Changing our genetic makeup takes many, many generations, and by that time it will be too late for you and your children.


MCS is rather like those thermometers people post during fund drives, with the red part indicating what percentage of a money-making goal has been reached. Regarding MCS, early on, just 5% of the most sensitive or heavily exposed people were affected, but as we add more and more toxins into the air, water and our food and homes, then more and more people are pushed over their personal thresholds. Think of a goldfish in a bowl to which we add every day just a wee bit more of, lets say, a modern detergent, or perfume, or gasoline? And we can’t clean it out. Where is there left to run to?


I have watched this happen during my lifetime, and my guess now is that at least 40% of people in the USA are affected. Most of them don’t know it, and boy will they be angry when they figure out it’s not just us canaries.


And then, as we continue to pour toxic substances into the environment that is already overloaded, eventually 100% of everyone will be suffering one form or another of MCS. They will think it’s “normal” to be sick; they already do think it’s normal. Well, I just said, in these circumstances, it is normal. But I don’t like being sick. So I run. It works. For now.


But why don’t we get ourselves fixed, you say?


Fix what? How? How can you “fix” normal? We do not have an incurable disease. That’s one of the definitions of MCS. Our suffering is cured when/if we can get away from the poisons.


Why don’t you stop making us sick?


If my system is normal and your system is normal, and your system is just a tad more efficient than mine – then my problem is your problem.


You just don’t know it yet.


This is Bare Bones Biology, a production of FactFictionFancy.Wordpress.com





The podcast can be downloaded at:  http://traffic.libsyn.com/fff/Bare_Bones_Biology_336_-_Running_Canaries.mp3_markers.xml




Healthy Living

Bare Bones Biology 334 – Religion as Metaphor

161002-fallcolor-asc_6646rs-copyJoseph Campbell*, our great student of comparative religion, said — it was probably before your time, but humans have changed very little in human time — he said: “The real horror today is what you see in Beirut, where you have the three great Western religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and because the three of them have three different names for the same Biblical God, they can’t get on together. They’re stuck with their metaphor and don’t realize its reference.”


Seth Lloyd**, a cutting-edge research physicist recently said: “Mathematics is a metaphor” that can be tested. Being able to test the result is good. More useful than poetry or visual imagery. (http://www.santafe.edu/news/item/ulam-lectures-lloyd-announce/)


A couple of weeks ago I mentioned my physics math lesson that describes speed (distance moved/time it takes), velocity (displacement/time) and acceleration (velocity/time). This is the mathematical metaphor — all very logical and testable until we get to acceleration, which requires us to divide velocity (displacement/time) by time (t), and the result unfortunately is a formula containing time (real linear time, like on a clock), squared. Clearly t2 is a metaphor for something, but what? Einstein’s formula at least makes sense, though its implications are far out. I have never gotten past t2.

Just memorize it you say? But why bother if it carries no information?



I want to talk about The Creation, and none of the above metaphors gives me a spark of clear understanding. I want my metaphor to push the right button of reality — to conform itself, and me along with it, to the true nature of reality; not to make technologies, but to a profound reverence for the miracle of Creation, as it is. Not as I wish it were.


But of course, no human can ever know exactly what it is. “Otherwise, what would be the value of faith?” Or reverence?


We can make scientific descriptions. We know the Creation of a human Life must begin with the necessary materials, and because these are supplied by Life


recycling itself, or by the sun, we don’t have to worry about it – energy to drive the work; an egg with food for the embryo; a spe

rm to complete the genetic code with instructions of how to grow; a mother to grow in; clean food, water and air for the mother and later the for the child; and a set of four-billion-year-old inherited instincts for both mother and child to be, grow, and do. The miracle of Life itself

All of this comes to the child from its historical environment (evolution) and from the now environment that generates and regenerates the air, water, and organic molecules it requires for its survival and for the materials of which it is constructed. And for the information that instructs it. Science? Or a miracle ?


Because of the environment, the human child is born with a specific environmental history, a brain that is ready and eager to eat up all possible information from the now environment so as to incorporate its own unique environmental experience with its own unique evolutionary history and its own unique quest — to fulfill its potential within the Life of Earth. A miracle indeed!


“The goal of the quest for yourself is to find that becoming point within yourself, which is fearless, and desire-less . . . This is the image of a plant growing; that’s the life force.”


“You don’t have to go out and die for anything, because it’s all right there.”

“When before a sunset or a mountain you pause and say ahh, that is a participation in divinity.”


This is Bare Bones Biology, a production of FactFictionFancy.Wordpress.com


The podcast can be downloaded at:http://traffic.libsyn.com/fff/Bare_Bones_Biology_335_-_Religion_as_Metaphor.mp3





*Quotations from – Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers. 1997. The Power of Myth. DVD, Public Affairs Television, Inc., available from Amazon. The wisdom becomes more precious with time.


**A wonderful overview of the science in Chapter Three, Programming the Universe, by Seth Lloyd. 2006. Vintage Books. Everyone should read this chapter (at least); it’s so hard to find authoritative summary mental images in our world that specializes in specialized reporting of the details – without their significant context.

Bare Bones Biology 334 – Cold


Speaking of facts, as we were last week, it’s a fact that it gets cold up here at 7000 feet altitude with one foot on each side of the continental divide. A fact that I need to deal with – I who am made sick by toxic air and combustion fumes.



Which is worse? Spending one’s evenings barfing in the bathroom from toxic fumes of burning gas, oil, coal or the like? Or freezing in the clear cold air of the unheated canyon? Electrical energy was useful in the good old days before they started using toxic paints on the space heaters.


Those are the unfortunate facts. Too many people, too much garbage in the air, water and soil, and all of those things recycle in our Biosystem – over and over and over again, changing form over time, more or less forever. And so the climate changes.


But that’s not what this blog is about. This time we are thinking about our personal survival as real people with physiological needs and limitations.


And I just glanced out the window as I was writing this, on September 24, to the first snow of the season, huge flakes flopping down on yellowing leaves and bending over the tall grasses before melting into the thin ice of our first hard freeze.   Last year I had more than four feet of snow on the roof. Someone said six inches a bit higher up.


160908-nance-asc_6172rlssFacts definitely are facts, and as I mentioned last week, we have basically three choices (minimum) with regard to any fact. First, pretend it isn’t so. This can be lethal. Suicidal I think was the word I used last week. Second, try to change the fact, but of course this cannot work if it is a real fact because facts – the word means the things we cannot change, and there is no way I can change what the weather chooses to do on any given day. Third is to change how we behave – to organize our behaviors to accommodate the facts, and today I want to tell you about the neat little house that one woman made for herself, by herself, of course with a little help from her friends and the community.


It begins with tried and true lessons learned in a community that knows how to live in a hard land. Note the steep angle of the roof that encourages the snow to leave, and the deep overhang to the north that piles the snow in a way that protects the house.


On the south side the house incorporates some more modern technology, a Trombe wall is what particularly interests me today.

“A Trombe wall is a passive solar building design where a wall is built on the winter sun side of a building with a glass external layer and a high heat capacity internal layer separated by a layer of air. Light (energy that is) close to UV in the electromagnetic spectrum passes through the glass almost unhindered, then is absorbed by the wall.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trombe_wall


The wall is made of any substance that absorbs a lot of heat and releases it slowly. So the UV light energy is changed to heat energy when it hits the rock or concrete or whatever the wall is made of. The heat energy cannot escape through the glass as easily as it came in, and so it heats up the wall and then, on the inside of the wall, it heats the house.

Yes, that does sound a lot like the cause of global warming. The physics is the same fact in both cases. Reminding us again that we can’t change the facts — it is how we use the known facts that makes all the difference to our survival.

The small roof overhanging the Trombe wall is designed so that the sun in winter hits the heat absorbing south wall of the house, but the wall is shaded from the summer sun to prevent overheating.


160908-nance-asc_6190rlssAdditionally of course, the modern tech touch includes a solar panel that provides electricity all year round. Solar is not very useful for heating or for cooking, because the gadgets used for those things need to plug in to a high energy source, so the wood stove makes up any unmet energy needs.


Some pictures are on the blog post. We only have about 600 words here, so if you have specific questions, you can leave them here.


This is Bare Bones Biology, a production of FactFictionFancy.com.


A copy of the podcast can be downloaded at. http://traffic.libsyn.com/fff/Bare_Bones_Biology_334_-_Cold.mp3





Bare Bones Biology 332 – Facts

I have finally conquered lecture one of Physics. It took about six weeks, but now I can spontaneously tell you that speed equals distance divided by time. For example, miles per hour. And velocity is displacement divided by time, which is not what I thought it was and explains some of my confusion about the facts that are described by the science of physics. Displacement is how far away you are from where you started – not how many miles you went to get there. Words, words, words, but their definitions are critically important if we want to understand the facts they describe.


Personally, I don’t much care, but I now have these mathematical definitions in my mind so I can go on to number two of the 60 lectures in the course. Probably take the rest of my life, but I want to know how the language of the math works, because our modern generations seem to understand that mathematical facts are facts – but not to understand ALL facts are facts.


Two plus two = four. Surely it does, and always it does, regardless how we name the numbers. Four, quatro160917-mountainmusic-asc_6264rss-copy, whatever the word, the fact remains a fact.


There was a time in human history when we did not have numbers to help us understand the facts of our universe. Understanding the numbers, the facts, gave us power. Power to align ourselves with the reality, or to fight against it, but not to change the facts — because facts do not change for us. By definition.   The word applies to things/realities/forces that humans cannot change. Regardless of how some authors mis-use the word to sell books.


Somehow in the past 50 years or so, the majority of people (voters/citizens) seem to have come to the idea that science changes facts. Science does not change facts. Neither does technology. Basic science seeks to understand the facts, and technology seeks to use the facts. What we use them for is basically up to the people, and that is where religion should come in, but instead we seem to have ditched it, or perhaps sidelined would be a better description; put our religions into separate little boxes that don’t directly relate to the realities of Life, and science off in some other separate box.

But the fact is that facts are facts – the same facts, if they are real, both in science and religion. Just as the word “two” means two, also the word “fact” means something that we cannot change, so once we know what the facts are, it makes no sense to try to fight against them. Cooperate, yes; align ourselves with reality, yes; fight against something that we cannot change? Stupid, really. Suicidal.


Where I sit now, in a cabin at 7000 plus feet altitude, a few steps from the US continental divide, I look out the window as the sun is rising, behind a thousand feet of cliff in my back yard, and skinny clouds form and slither and creep through the canyon with the fluid ease of misty, slowly swirling Gods, or maybe omnipotent, hungry dragons that swallow me up slicker than a snake swallows a rat, it’s easy enough to believe in facts. Maybe it’s not so easy, where you live, to believe in the omnipotence of reality, but the root facts are the same everywhere.


2 + 2 = 4.

Surely it does, and if we would rather believe that 2+2 = 5, then we are wrong, and when we get the facts wrong we get our answers wrong. Like Hitleresque bullies stumbling around in a continental divide midnight thunderstorm, trying to prove that we are bigger than the clouds – bigger even than the cliff.



We could tear it down with our machines, but that would not change the Facts of Life.


We can’t change gravity, how it works to bring the boulders crashing down the hill during a midnight thunderstorm. We can’t change systems, how they speak to each other in the language of information energy. We can’t change time or space and neither can our Einsteins.


Better to figure out how the facts work and how to use them properly — for the common good, for all sentient beings, for the glory of God and The Creation.   For the welfare of human kind.


Why else are we here?


This is Bare Bones Biology, a production of FactFictionFancy.com.


A copy of the podcast can be downloaded at:  http://traffic.libsyn.com/fff/Bare_Bones_Biology_332_-_Facts.mp3



Bare Bones Biology 331 – September Song

This is my September Song, written in on 9-1-1, 2007. Entitled Voldemort.


To me this date every year is a reminder of the kindness of Takahashi-sensei

On that morning when I woke to shocking images on television

Of an unbelievable call to realty

And arrived on his doorstep an hour early

For my Japanese lesson.



And very soon after that, George Bush and Osama bin Laden began their macho

Pax de deux.



On this date – today, in 2007 – the television greeted me with

A message even more shocking to me, if that were possible::



         “It doesn’t matter what we have done

It matters what we have become.”



What have we become?


We have become a people who no longer CARE what we have done.


And what has been done

In my name

by my country

curdles my insides.


Whatever we have become can never change what we have done


It matters:


It matters to the orphans; it matters to God’s Creation; and it matters to me.


We have broken our own laws;

We are terrorists, pretending to be heroes.

We have emasculated our constitution;

And desecrated our flag.

We have chosen to abuse the whole world,

Rather than nurture the Creation.


Pretending to be heroes.


“And what does your God require of you but to

love kindness

do justice

and walk humbly with him?”


And I’ll repeat this ending to the folk story told by Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers on their exceptional DVDs that can be obtained at


“And the man killed the bird

And with the bird he killed the song

And with the song – himself.”


This is Bare Bones Biology, a production of FactFictionFancy.Wordpress.com.


A copy of the podcast can be downloaded at:http://traffic.libsyn.com/fff/Bare_Bones_Biology_331_-_September_Song.mp3