Bare Bones Biology 170 – Coming Home

Down here in the canyon the air is fresh (Bare Bones Biology 007B) and breathable. When I step outside and take that first deep morning breath, I can feel all the little alveoli in my lungs and all those sinus spaces in my head open up and ask for another hit. It used to be like that in Bryan, but now the air in Bryan challenges all the delicate membranes of the body, and they swell up and churn out mucus to protect themselves.

130918-Simple Life-ASC_6056RLSs copySo I’m still looking for a place to really live in, and I would invest in this place fully, as I did in Bryan, if I thought it would last. Even though it’s not easy.

Over most of last week I had no email communication, no way to drive out of the canyon three miles to a main road, and my cell phone only halfway works, so I got jammed up with messages that I couldn’t receive or answer. Or call anyone if there had been an emergency. The last time I drove out, the day was fine and clear but when I drove back in I could see a an oddly creative cloud in shades of gray, I said I wonder if that is over the canyon. I drove down through the first four water crossings, sun shining, I said I wonder where that thing was? And in the quarter mile to the next crossing the river had risen about 5 feet that no sensible person would cross. I stopped to rescue the neighbors’ dogs that had gotten themselves on the wrong side of the river, but when I came to the last two crossings with a half mile yet to go, I left the Big Red pickup on the road and hiked over the mountain, to stay on my side of the river so I could go home.

130919-Simple Life-ASC_6132RLSs copyIt turned out to be two mountains with a big ravine between. I don’t recommend the elk trails; they go straight up and down in the rain-slick clay. But we made it home, Bitsy and I, and we piled under layers of comforters, and slept for another really long night.

In the morning – there is nothing in our world to compare with that first breath of pure outdoor air. And another, and yet another. And with it God’s creation bestows the joy of living.

130918-Simple Life-ASC_6059RSs copyI have to wonder if most of my friends have ever experienced the sense of joy that comes from breathing fresh air. I remember when everyone had that opportunity. A friend who lives here reports that, when he visited relatives in Wash DC, what he mostly felt the whole time was an overpowering listlessness. Y E S. And then food cravings and once you get past that, if you are more than usually sensitive to chemical contamination, it becomes more violent upsets of the digestive system. And if our chemical atmosphere does that to us humans, plus asthma and mood disorders for the young, emphysema in midlife, and alzheimers at the end, it’s no wonder the whole biosystem is suffering, trying to change back to a healthy balanced Life system.

So here’s the bad news. Last time we made it to town, I learned that there was a big gathering of oil men in Chama, having lunch in a private room at High Country Café. And what I know is that this place too will be destroyed if all the people don’t care about the welfare of all the people enough to:

130902-SimpleLife-ASC_5828RLSs copy 2(a) if you are an oil man, take your leadership skills to the welfare of the community – and don’t fake it – study it:

(b) if you are not an oil man, insist that your communities uphold the spirit and rule of the laws of this country and the traditions of the reservations that are meant to benefit the welfare of our communities. Not the profits, not even the jobs, but the welfare of the future when all these resources are long gone and the oil men have left this town behind, soaking in pollution, and there are no profits and no more jobs for the children of today.

Our Choice, Al Gore – He’s got the biology right, and spells out the solutions

Bare Bones Biology 169 – Patterns of Life

Life is a chaotic, yet impeccably regulated river of processes flowing through time and space. Life is about patterns. Interacting patterns of millions of processes, turning on and off and cooperating with other processes as they cycle and recycle; always perpetuating themselves; always the same yet never identical. Like the clouds; first the corrugated overcast of a morning that coagulates by afternoon into snow-capped billows floating in an azure sky and by evening has faded to topaz, turquoise and royal blue, guided by – what? It’s all a repeating pattern of weather that responds to the cycles of the sun and earth and moon, of temperature and wind and the layers of air, and the breathe of the living earth as she circulates water, carbon, oxygen in and out of the life forms.

130902-SimpleLife-ASC_5828RLSs copy 2Under the clouds outside my window a hummingbird moth hovers over a purple blossom, its delicate proboscis as long as its body probing deep into one tiny floret after another, looking for all the world like the hummingbirds themselves that probed these same florets earlier in the season.

And on the back of my hand, a rather small fly and a rather large mosquito, nearly side by side, equally gathering food to energize the processes of Life that are guided by – what? The information that informs the repeating cycles of life is stored in the genes that are carried in the core of every living cell. All of Life is patterns of processes turning on and off, interconnecting and contradictory, patterns of process perpetuating themselves, always the same but never identical. Millions of coordinating processes making egg and sperm, intricately dividing and maturing cells to create the moth, or the bird, or the bug or the purple flower – and us — that gathers the energy to make more eggs and sperm, and then dies to make room for forever.

And who are we to change the cycles of the moon and the processes of evolution that give us life? We can’t change the patterns of sun and earth; they are too infinitely remote from our own ability to understand and evaluate. We can’t change the way the evolution of genetic information directs the present and therefore the future of the whole of the living earth Biosystem. Infinity and evolution are not human and do not have human values or human emotions. There is no point bloodying our fists against the wall of their omnipotence.

130727-bugs-ASC_4957RLSs copy 2But there is one thing we could be doing because we have one source of information that is not available either to the physical laws of nature or to the evolutionary law of life, and that is the human brain, composed of human instincts, human emotions, human values and the ability to understand and communicate ideas. We cannot change how the system functions, but we can understand patterns. We cannot change how the system functions, but we could change what we do to the system. We could build a new kind of human culture based on re-integrating ourselves into the ongoing schema of the river of Life. We could change ourselves. I see groups of people trying to do this, but without exception those I have tried to understand are not so much interested in how WE fit into the overall scheme of patterns, but are trying to fit the scheme of things into their own human emotions and value systems. It won’t work. That must be why all the religions warn against misuse of the human ego. It’s probably been tried throughout human history.

But what we could do, if we care more about growing the future than about our own individual glory stories, is too change ourselves. We could learn to understand the patterns of Life and find a way to use our own human emotions to change our uniquely human value systems in a way that will benefit all.

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

Chama River about Double Overnight

Now we need to get home. The first big test of the fire-engine red four-wheel-drive.

130822-LittleCreel-ASC_5604RLSs copy

Bare Bones Biology 168 – Who Will Speak?

Obviously our culture is built on a base of Ponzi economics. Look it up. Ponzi. Unless we change what we are doing, that means it will come to a giant crashing end. Quite soon. If we want to have a future for the youngsters of today, we need to change the corposystem to a different economy that does NOT use more resources than the earth can grow. There are many helpful references to guide us, but the change must be for the better, not for the worse, and as the trite old saying has it – it must begin in each of us. We must shift our attitudes from growing money to nurturing the Life of the Biosystem that feeds us. We must shift our approach from warrior soldier to grandmother earth. We must shift our lifestyle from predator to helpmate.

Hear the warrior song of King Gassar.

Our Earth is Wounded.
Her oceans and lakes are sick
Her rivers are like running sores
The air is filled with subtle poisons,
And the oily smoke of countless hellish fires
Blackens the sun.
Men and women, scattered from homeland, family, friends
Wander desolate and uncertain, scorched by a toxic sun.
In this desert of frightened, blind uncertainty,
Some take refuge in the pursuit of power.
Some become manipulators of illusion and deceit
If wisdom and harmony still dwell in this world
As other than a dream lost in an unopened book
They are hidden in our heartbeat
And it is from our hearts that we cry out
We cry out and our voices are the single voice of this wounded earth
Our cries are a great wind across the earth.

And now I’ll give you the short answer from Shodo Spring’s Compassionate Earth Walk (
Check it out; the long version is even better, and better yet is the feet on the ground.

“The Compassionate Earth Walk is a spiritual pilgrimage honoring our place within the community of life.
We walk as a blessing to the earth and to those we meet, and as a prayer for all earth’s children.”


Shodo is walking now.

And the final answer is this, written and read by Jennie Lawrence at the first “Healing the Earth” conference in 2004

Who speaks for the dream?
Written and read by Jennie Lawrence

Who speaks for the yellow-woods, the wild flowers?
Not I said I, numbed into silence by my fear of the human race.

Who speaks for the elephants, the tortoise and the butterfly?
Not I, said I, stunned into apathy by my fear of the human race.

Who speaks for the dolphins, the pansy-shell, the coral reef?
Blinded to the truth by my fear of the human race.

Curled up alone, under the darkness of the African sky,
I take refuge in the stars,
And I dream a dream.

Dawn breaks.
I hear the clarion call of the whales in the bay.
Greetings, say I from the shoreline.
Mountain lands bright with sunshine,
Blue-green glistening sea,
Shadowed only by the spector of looming danger.
Creeping closer, creeping closer.

Though changes come so fast,
Each day is an unwritten script.

I am now less afraid of human beings,
And draw closer to the eye of the storm.
As the paralysis melts,
And the heart beats,
And the eyes see,
And the ears hear.

I speak for the yellow-woods, for the rain forest.
I speak with our people; we create community.
Our human hurts, and wounded earth will heal,
And this shall be again our garden.

You should listen to this poem. Jennie Lawrence is wonderfully genuine reading her poem:

Bare Bones Biology 167 – Survival of the Systems

No it is not survival of the fittest, that’s a convenient human description of something we don’t very well understand, but the bottom line is that Life on earth is a system. The Biosystem. My definition of a system is a group of intricately interacting processes (not people) that functions – the whole group of processes functions to maintain the system. Most systems consist of subsystems that have the same definition as the system.

Systems evolve to be bigger and more complicated whenever the system is more efficient than no system. Sometimes processes that work together are more efficient than separately. Evolution will favor efficiency. That is rare, perhaps a so-called singularity, but when an efficient system occurs, evolution will favor it. If it later becomes inefficient, natural selection will reject it. Every system has a function. A function is a job that it does more or less efficiently (efficient means using the least amount of energy for the best result of that particular function).

130902-SimpleLife-ASC_5820RLSRLSs copyThe function of the whole earth Biosystem is to maintain Life on earth. On FactFictionFancy, I wrote a long and difficult (for me) outline of how evolution really works to do this. Evolution is not survival of the strongest, prettiest, etc., although these things happen. Overall, evolution is survival of the subsystems (species, organisms, organs, cells) that integrate themselves into the SYSTEM so effectively and efficiently that the Biosystem could not perform its function (of maintaining Life) as well without them as it can with them.

The Biosystem is a collection of systems that function together to maintain the whole system of life on earth.
bare-bones-bio…-community-iii/ To do this, the Biosystem generates and/or recycles everything that Life requires, using photosynthesis as the primary energy source and maintaining a viable balance among all the processes (of all the ecosystems and organisms) that cycle the earth, air, water and energy required by living things. Viable means suitable for Life.

The Corposystem is the corporate-political system that includes mostly humans and the things that humans use. The function of the Corposystem, is to make money by growing itself (notice, not balancing itself in a way that benefits either itself or the Biosystem, but by growing itself.) The most efficient way for the corposystem to do its function of making money is to steal resources that are made by the Biosystem – without recycling them for the next generation to use again. This is not viable over time.

The products of the Biosystem are used as resources for growth of the corposystem.
The corposystem sells these products to make money ( Money is not a resource or even a product that can be recycled to benefit the Biosystem. The corposystem is now so powerful that it is unbalancing the processes of Life by siphoning off the products of the earth and using them to make human growth and using the growth to make money.

That is why the climate is changing, as the Biosystem tries to find a new kind of balance that is more efficient in the circumstances. The Biosystem is not here to preserve us; we are all here to make the Biosystem efficient enough so that we can be here.

There is only one way that we humans can continue to survive in the Biosystem, and that is to help make the Biosystem more efficient, not less efficient. It is not possible to compete with the Biosystem and win, because we are part of the Biosystem. We are almost at the end of our choices, but three possibilities remain useful:

Some technologies are helpful, at least temporarily: Solar power might be helpful if combined with birth control. Otherwise, we are tinkering with a nearly perfect system that we do not understand.

Recycling is always good, that includes the many good gardening initiatives. But the mickey mouse way we are now doing is not enough. We must truly balance what we take, or even give back more.

The only sustainable way for humans to survive on this earth is to balance our population; that means reduce it. Unless we humans help to make the whole system more efficient for all sentient beings, the Biosystem will simply evolve itself into a more efficient system, and the result will be VERY MUCH more violent and undesirable than it would be if we were to address the problem ourselves, now, with realistic, wise compassion.

This is Bare Bones Biology, a production of FactFictionFancy and KEOS FM, 89.1, Bryan, Texas. A podcast of this broadcast can be obtained at: