Bare Bones Biology 195 – What do we Want?


We want to build a human society (system) that is sustainable and reasonably comfortable for humans. That was the dream of the founding fathers; that was the dream of Martin Luther King Jr., and the reason we supported his dream; that was the dream of Jesus and Gandhi and Mandela and countless other dreamers you and I have never heard of. But we-the-people messed it up. So that is not what we have been building.

How did we mess it up? Maybe we didn’t clearly understand the dream in the first place, or maybe we learned too much (but not enough) about too many things in too short a time. Or maybe the power of our technologies and the hubris of our assumptions led us astray.

I had to look up the word hubris a while ago, and now I use it quite a lot because it means pride multiplied by conceit, audacity and self-importance, and that’s what we Americans are. But those were not our intentions, and that does not describe the likes of Jesus and Gandhi, et al. Stubborn they were, but not prideful in the sense of conceit on top of ignorance. Nevertheless, regardless of our intentions, hubris is what we have come to, simply because we are a part of the modern American corposystem, a system that functions out of the energy of hubris.

That is not what I want; my mission has always been to build a human system that is sustainable and reasonably comfortable within the nurturing environment of a healthy Biosystem. Because that is the only way humans can “give forward” toward a viable future.

It would be a lot of fun to go ahead as we are, King of the Hill with all our toys. But it doesn’t work; we are using our toys to destroy our own hill, and destruction does not lead to any of the good things that humans can achieve. I want to grow a joyful human future that is sustainable. I do not want to nurture the suffering generated by the violent blip in a universe of time that is our corposystem of today.

Every system grows or is created around a core characteristic that is “successful.” And it measures its own success in relation to the “ideal” embodied by its own core characteristic. I have said above that our current American corposystem is built around – one of the core characteristics is “hubris.” Because all systems are cyclic, that also means that the people with the most hubris become the most “successful,” or perhaps a better word would be most appreciated, within our existing corposystem. That is one of the ways that a system maintains itself. Of course there are good ways to build pride, but our system does not consider those ways successful. That’s why I use the word hubris.

Our corposystem hubris is built upon a dream of domination (power plus violence) that is maintained by growth based in greed. That is, growth for profit. Not a pretty story, and definitely not sustainable. Nothing in the entire universe, so far as we know, can grow forever. Certainly nothing that is part of the earth can grow forever, and besides that problem, we need all the other parts of the Earth system to make our air, water, and soil, and to capture our energy for us. That’s why the corposystem is already crashing, and the worst part is that it is ruining the Biosystem resources for any future humans.

I believe most of us would rather build a new human system on this earth that is sustainable within a nurturing Biosystem and is based on human values that we admire because we can proudly share them.

So — let’s do it.

This is Bare Bones Biology, a production of FactFictionFancy and KEOS radio, 89.1, Bryan Texas. The podcast can be downloaded here:

Outside the Circle

I had an insight this morning, when I woke up after a couple hours’ sleep, trying to finish my book 11. The insight was that an entire chapter is missing, so once again I will not have time to finish and who knows how many years will go by before I can find a few clear weeks once again to try to get the whole thing in my head at the same time.

And then I connected that up with our modern inability to see anything but the bits and pieces (reductionism) of our lives, and something I wrote about teaching people to think about one thing at a time. That memory was about a highly respected teacher of university level teachers, who told me I was doing bad teaching and “unfair” if I required a student to know more than one bit of information per test question. Astonished me speechless, because if I were to actually DO that, it would be impossible to teach biology. All emergent properties would fall apart if they only functioned one bit at a time. Everything is connected. If we can’t understand that —

Oh, yes, we haven’t taught biology for at least three generations. Well, now we know where that came from.

So it becomes impossible to see the big picture because we simply can’t think about a big picture one bit at a time. Climate change is one example. All the people who are trying to pretend it isn’t so (even though we could have saved ourselves if we had stopped pretending) they are all looking at one thing at a time, and so long as they can believe that thing is manageable, they are happy even as we drown.

Because that’s what I was doing. I was looking at one picture at a time, trying to make it perfect for the photo book, and forgot the book was missing an entire chapter. Without one of its chapters, it doesn’t matter if the pictures are perfect because there is no book.

Outside the Circle

I’m just finishing my new book, Outside the Circle. What a pain in the neck. I’ll be glad when it’s over and glad I wrote/photographed it. It’s about the facts of life.


Of course this particular picture I had very little work to do, only to see the shed by the railroad station, but I’m also very glad I took the picture, as they tore down the shed the next week, and I think this is an impressive work of art.