Bare Bones Biology 070 – Levels of Organization Again

I’ve done more radio spots on levels of organization than any other one thing, because I think it’s the most important and most neglected law of nature that we know about. The concept has two halves. The first half is that the higher levels of reality are made from combinations of simpler levels.

A simple example would be a pie, that is made of whatever pies are made of. Pie is pie. One level of reality. It is not even flour plus salt plus sugar plus – whatever. It’s made from all those things, but it is a unique and different entity from any one of them or all of them added up. That’s the first half of the concept.

The second half of the concept is that different levels have different characteristics, and also different needs. A mob of people has some characteristics that are different from all of the people in the mob, all added together, or any individual. The mob may have different emotions than its members would have individually. And it may have some different needs. I remember when I stood up for however long on the student side of an Aggie football game, and I’m very certain that group had different characteristics than I as an individual had. And different requirements.

Requirements for well-being are also different, one level to another, of living things. What is healthy for a parasite might not be healthy for the host that it’s living on or in. What makes people feel good might be bad news for the environment, but then the people require the environment for their own well- being. So the bottom line is we can’t have everything we want. If we do get what we want, the results may be a disaster for someone else. This gives rise to moral dilemmas of the tragic kind. What to do when all the options cause pain for someone else – whichever level we choose has tragic consequences for some other level. Or if we decide not to choose that also has its tragic results.

Sometimes I ponder these dilemmas while driving. The other week, while I was driving home from Dallas, I heard Diane Rehm interview Eric Felten about his new book called Loyalty, the Vexing Virtue. I haven’t read the book, but the interview was excellent and spot on. Nobody used the term levels, but that’s what they were talking about, even though Diane Rehm and Eric Felten used different levels from the examples I usually use. I usually talk about the individual, the population, the corposystem and the ecosystem. They talked about, in their discussion of the book, the individual, a friendship, a marriage, a family, an employer, a community, and a country. These are levels of organization, and the same sorts of difficult interactions occur.

Some of their examples, you can be loyal to your friendship, or to your friend, or to yourself, but not always to all three. David Kozinski’s brother had to choose between reporting his brother to the police or letting him continue to terrorize the community.

There is always tension among the levels of organization of living things. Eric Felten believes this is a “tragic flaw.” I think, on the contrary, the various kinds of tension within and between the levels of biological organization help to maintain the natural balance of life. Life might not be possible without this balanced disequilibrium. Levels are an essential element of the resilience that is necessary to the survival of all living things, individually and together.

Download audio at http://www.barebonesbiology.com

Bare Bones Biology 069 – What to Do 03

In this third episode I want to focus on local actions. Of primary importance, right now today, is to focus on preventing the corposystem from taking ownership over or destroying our major survival requirements. That’s our soil, good farming dirt, our food, our water, and our air. Because once they have finished, either damaging or taking ownership of these basic survival needs, we will not have anywhere near as many choices for building a better future as we do have, today.

Here in the Brazos Valley the smog is almost as bad as Los Angeles on some days, and the oil companies are coming in now to do heavy-duty fracking operations that will certainly affect our water supplies, because millions of gallons of water are made unusuable with each well that they frack. It will contribute tons of diesel fumes to our air, from all the trucks and equipment, and not to mention the fumes that come out of the wells.

Certainly it is possible to regulate these activities locally. It was done in Flower Mound, and anyone can make a local impact. It’s not like trying to deal with the Federal Government. I don’t know that anyone is, at this moment, making that effort.

Also in the Brazos Valley I think it’s important to understand what is happening relative to genetically modified foods, because the amount of Roundup©, which is a plant poison that is spread on genetically modified foods, increases every year, so that the air we breath is damaged, the soil is definitely damaged. Soil is an ecosystem of its own, and really good soils may have more than 50 percent of living organisms. Spreading poisons on the living organisms that make up the soil is not good for the soil any more than it’s good for our air. We’re just beginning to understand the harmful effects that this may have, and at the Peach Clubhouse we’re trying to tabulate that information now.

Another thing you can do is try your very best not to allow anyone to threaten you out of your rights. I’m thinking now mostly of people who do fracking. Sometimes we have to give in to intimidation, but before giving in, try to get help to discuss the issues. Or, if you have expertise in that area, help someone to find alternatives to whatever situation they are in.

If you’re good at assessing cost/benefit ratios, that would be another good thing you could do to contribute to the decisions we are making in the Brazos Valley. Use whatever is your best skill to put whatever pressure you can against the root problems. And of course recycle. Of course. Recycle. And if it’s at all possible you will want to provide for yourself a source of energy that is not controlled by the corposystem.

But the bottom-line understanding, while you’re doing all this, the most important bottom line understanding is that whatever you do must take into account the cause of all these myriad problems that we are facing. We will not succeed in making a better future, if we spend all of our time and energy dealing with the symptoms, while still ignoring the cause. The bottom line cause of those symptoms is our continuing growth on a Mother Earth that is already overgrazed, maxed out, and can not provide any more food energy for us to continue to grow.

Bare Bones Biology 069 – What to Do 03
KEOS radio 89.1 FM, Bryan, Texas
Transcript at FactFictionFancy.wordpress.com
Audio later this week at http://www.BareBonesBiology.com

Bare Bones Biology 068 – What to Do 02

Last time I outlined the basic requirements that I think are necessary if we are to build a better future for the children and grandchildren than what we’re building right now. This time I’ll give you a short list of general sort of activities that we can do or not do to head in that positive direction. Next time I have some specific suggestions for what to do at home.

Of the four points for today, the first is, as consumer citizens we need to stop fighting with each other over who is dominant. The questions of right/wrong, winners/losers, all of that dichotomous behavior, setting ourselves against each other to see who is king of the heap will not help us to address our situation with the real king of the heap, and that is the corposystem. We need to focus on our common goal, with whatever level of humility is necessary to go in that direction. And that direction is to grow a better future for the consumer citizens.

Alternatively, stop sitting back and waiting for someone else to solve the problem. Nobody can solve the problem because everyone is part of the cause. So instead of waiting for that to happen, do what you can to identify the root problem. Or just believe me when I tell you what the real root problem is that the mother earth can no longer provide enough food energy resources for all the growth that is happening on her body. And the secondary problem is that the corposystem instead of trying to cut back and reach a sustainable level that can be maintained over an indefinite period of time. Instead of doing that, is trying to promote more growth and yet more growth.

Now there is a good chance that quite a few people will disagree with me on this point. So in that case I will suggest that you do a good job of fact-checking and come back and let me know what you find out and I will give you as many of these Bare Bones Biology programs as you wish to explain it. That was number two. It was a kind of complicated number two.

Number three, refuse to participate in the corposystem’s promotion of growth, as far as that is possible. Unless of course the corposystem would actually re-define itself as having a goal of sustainability, I think we should avoid participating in its harmful activities. My suggestions for that is to pay off your debts so they don’t have control over you, cut up your credit cards, don’t vote for their candidates but do vote, even when you know you will lose. Don’t buy their stuff. You can shop at the Farmers’ Market, for example, and other local sources. Don’t let them take over the internet. Don’t watch their television.

We should learn every little bit that we can about the real true facts that relate to our goal. Our goal would be to understand more and more about, compassion, human rights, and the biological needs of the ecosystem. Everything we can learn that’s real and factual, because nobody knows everything, and the corposystem is projecting on the television and in their propaganda a fairytale life that is not sustainable.

Our job is to learn the facts and grow a sustainable culture. Live the sustainable life style now, that we need to grow a sustainable future; we who know what is happening will be the founders of our children’s future, carriers of the experience and the awareness and the wisdom and knowledge of reality that they will need. Human and economic growth on this planet can no longer be supported by the available resources. We each individually need to understand how the ecosystem functions. How it really functions, so we can prevent a few extremists from messing throwing wrenches into its functional works. But factual knowledge of our ecosystem is not enough.

Many people believe that a compassionate lifestyle will lead to a compassionate future, but compassion is not enough, because the ecosystem does not need compassion — and we can not survive without the ecosystem. What the ecosystem does require is balance, and we need to understand that WE do now know how to maintain that balance. We are not in charge of the ecosystem. As a biologist I assure you we don’t know enough about how it functions to micro-manage the ecosystem. But the ecosystem does work marvelously if we don’t mess it up. We must learn how to let it be, so that it can maintain it’s life and our lives.

I am guessing that most people believe human politics can resolve our problem, but politics is not enough, unless it is informed by an umbrella of compassion and factual knowledge of the ecosystem, and a useful rule of law. So the bottom line is that none of these three aspirations by itself can resolve our problem, but the three together, passed on from generation to generation, can grow a fine and modestly flourishing, sustainable future for human kind on this earth.

And in that light, the fourth suggestion is to learn how to tell the difference between hype and factual information. There is a lot of factual information available, thank goodness for the internet. Find the real information. Fact check. Check the logic. Check the sources. Check the qualifications of the sources. Find out if they are actually being paid by the corposystem to say whatever they are saying. Stop letting their propaganda into your head, no matter how nice it sounds. We can not grow the future on fairy tales, but we can grow a wonderful future based on honesty and real facts.

Bare Bones Biology 068 – What to Do 02
KEOS radio 89.1 FM, Bryan, Texas
Transcript at FactFictionFancy.wordpress.com
Audio later this week at http://www.BareBonesBiology.com

This is Here and Now

Keep a lookout for the reality while you are on your way to Lake Bryan for your recreation.

It’s actually NOT all in God’s hands. It is our behavior that is causing the great strain on the ecosystem’s ability to provide us with food. So the only way we can stop it is to change our behavior.

“Democracy”

de·moc·ra·cy n

“the control of an organization by its members, who have a free and equal right to participate in decision-making processes.” (Encarta® World English Dictionary © 1999 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. Developed for Microsoft by Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.)

If Mr. Flores would ask me to help prevent someone (anyone) from expressing his point of view in a “democratic” meeting, I would wonder what Mr. Flores was trying to hide. If Mr. Flores then pointed out several times that the police were there to keep order — and he posted a couple of bouncers near the person who wanted to speak (you can see their bottom halves in the second photo) – I would make a big effort to find out why Mr. Flores didn’t want this person to express his opinion. Knowledgeable honorable people who are looking for solutions to real problems – such people are not afraid of ideas.

What is a Town Hall Meeting?

“A town hall meeting is an informal public meeting which gives the members of a community an opportunity to get together to discuss emerging issues and to voice concerns and preferences for their community.”

Mr. Flores meeting, of course, was not a Town Hall Meeting. When a person talks for a couple of hours without discussing, that is not a town hall meeting.

“dis·cus·sion n
Talk or a talk between two or more people about a subject.”

When we the people go to a town hall meeting, we expect a discussion. What can we do in a supposedly democracy in a fake town hall meeting when we are not permitted to have a real discussion?

According to a recent publication of the TEA party: “I understand that the local MoveOn.org and Brazos Progressives will be out in force preaching more class warfare.” It sounds to me like the TEA party leadership also does not want a discussion.

I can’t speak for the MoveOn Leadership in DC, because I walked out on about their fourth sentence, because up to then nearly every sentence contained the word “fight” two or three times. Well, yes – if you want to end up in a fight, then you should fight. However, fighting will only make our problems worse.

We have very serious problems that are out of control, and the only way to control them is to deal with their causes. Beating up on someone else (passive-aggressive or overt aggressive) never solved any real problem over the long term. Beating up on other people only makes more enemies. I think Jesus and Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. and the Buddha all agree on this point, and I believe they have accomplished more that is worth accomplishing than almost anyone else I know about. Winning doesn’t solve problems. It’s fun, but it only makes more enemies. If we really want to solve problems more than we want to have fun – well, our behavior labels us. Clearly we don’t.

And anyway, there is no way to win ourselves out of this particular problem in which we find ourselves. There is no way to solve it with fake town hall meetings that concentrate on economics in a fake democracy that does everything in it’s power to prevent us from understanding really what our problem is. So that we could actually get together and solve it. So, the meeting was all about economics, but – I’m not an economist, so here is the definition of economics.

“ec·o·nom·ics n
1. the study of the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services (takes a singular verb)”

So – economics studies the relationship between supply and demand. Nobody talked about that in the town hall meeting, even though the root cause of our very big problem is the relationship between supply (from this good green earth) of everything we need to stay alive — and demand (by humans).

The real problem is that we are running low on supply and our so-called economics is trying to solve that problem by selling more stuff. And borrowing money. Neither of which will solve the problem of a limited supply. Does it make sense to try to produce more when there are fewer resources? Not even to an economist, but if we only had those two choices in a condition of low supply – well, I wouldn’t do either of those solutions, I would tell the people what is the real root problem and ask them to help solve it. But as that solution seems not to be on the table, surely borrowing money can’t be nearly as toxic as trying to make more stuff when we are running a bit low on resources.

Even I know that outflows are only one side of the economics problem. And inflows do not come from people. They come from the green mother earth. If we want to try to fix our very big problem we can’t do it by focusing only on the outflows. We will have to think, talk and share ideas about the inflows, where they come from, and how we plan to get enough without destroying the green mother earth that produces them.

God made the world as he made it. God did not make supermarkets. He made the earth to be fruitful with carrots and potatoes and corn and wheat and apples. He did not make economics. He told us to be honest and kind and compassionate. He did not suggest that we use trickery and chicanery to get what we want by causing harm to others.

I say to MoveOn and the progressives and the TEA party that you are all fighting over ephemera, and if you don’t start looking for real, factual information about how God did make this world to operate – then you will all lose. And so will I.

I say to MoveOn and the Progressives and the TEA party, and especially Mr. Flores, you are all wrong when you fight over some “democracy” that is dead and gone and never was like you say it was. You should be working together to learn the real facts about how this good green earth nurtures and feeds us – learn where our real supplies really come from and how — so that you all can help to build a more bountiful life style for the future. Instead of just having a fun game of king of the hill.

If Mr. Flores were to ask me to help make sure that someone doesn’t have a chance to talk – that his ideas should not be heard, I would wonder what Mr. Flores is trying to hide. Here’s my first guess. I guess he’s afraid we folks in the audience will figure out how much he does NOT know about our world and our country and even our economy. And how much he does NOT know about what is needed to make our country honorable and fruitful once again.

So I think it would be better to ask. That guy who didn’t get to talk might have had a good idea.

Nothing is what it seems.

and everything is what it is (Yogi Berra).

That was NOT a town hall meeting.

People get to talk to each other in town hall meetings. That was a really, really, really long lecture.

Oh well, this blog started out as a study of different kinds of power.

Peach Clubhouse Newsletter for August