Two Mysteries

First – what happened to all that gas in the Monterey Shale? Most of my readers are pleased that the hype bubble was burst by the media. But let’s look a bit deeper into the question via a group that has been publishing straight and knowledgeable information for over a decade:

This is one of the very few organizations that I would suggest you support, becaquse it is reality based rather than relying on emotion and hype to feather its nest, and therefore is likely to do more good than harm for our future on this earth.

And the second mystery — I noticed as I was organizing one of my autographed mystery books — is:

The mystery of what happened to the Mystery Store in Chama?

And then there is the important question — what lies Outside the Circle?

140506-flowers-asc_8947RLSs copy

Bare Bones Biology 206 – How to LEARN What to Do

The scientist studies and studies to learn more and more about less and less until she knows everything about nothing. There is a core of important truth in that old joke.

Science began as the study of the facts of Life that we cannot change – how the whole system of Life functions to stay alive. Now the corposystem has converted – perverted the scientific method to the study of reductionist technologies in an effort to dominate and change the Laws of Nature. It won’t work. Science is the study of the facts of Life that we cannot change. Science is not the process of creating gadgets for the purpose of making power and money. That is technology.

I was a reluctant participant in the conversion of science into technology, as the corposystem sought to grow bigger and better weapons in its efforts to dominate the Biosystem. And now the corposystem is funding studies in the humanities in hopes of generating technologies to control we-the-people

140522-rainymorning-ASC_9164ELSss copyI also watched the rise of the “nonprofits,” and their incorporation into the corposystem, which is another long story, but briefly the general function of the nonprofits now is to wipe the behind of the corposystem. To clean up the messes that it makes, and in this way most of the nonprofits enable the abusive behaviors of the corposystem. Think about it. There isn’t time here to give examples, but almost every overworked, charismatic, nonprofit drama queen, along with her followers, is in the long term supporting the crimes against humanity that are being committed by the corposystem, because the nonprofits now are an integral part of the corposystem and are taking our money to accomplish chores that are the proper function of a government, while our tax dollars are largely used to make war.

Body and Mind. Biology and Humanity, Science and Religion. The corposystem seeks to control them all, and now the corposystem is poised to take final control over our last source of good information, the internet. These, my friends, are examples of ways that a system functions to maintain itself. In this case a social system.

So why not just let the corposystem take charge? Why do we need good information about how things work, when the solution to the evils of the corposystem is to simply stop doing the wrong thing and begin to do the right thing? Stop pollution; stop war; learn how to live a nonviolent life style; recycle; become better producers; stop over-consumption.

140526-SimpleLife-ASC_9202RLSss copyGood question. Good idea. I’m for it. But it won’t work. It’s not enough, because humans are not the center of the universe. We live in and on the Biosystem, and we must also serve the needs of the Biosystem or we cannot survive within the Biosystem. That is one of the bits of information that we need to internalize if we want to give forward to the future generations of humans, and it is one of the bits of information the corposystem is suppressing in its efforts to make us “happy” so we will not try to genuinely understand the real world outside the corposystem and will simply let the corposystem decide what is right and what is wrong (please read or reread the classic novel “1984” by George Orwell).

We need good information about how the Biosystem functions, in order to avoid being removed from the Biosystem by the natural results of our own behaviors. Even good behaviors can and do cause long-term harm.

We already know these things. They are in the sciences and the humanities. We know what is the “right thing,” the necessary thing to do for human survival, and that is to conform ourselves to the laws of nature, rather than continuing the effort to conform nature to our preferences. We have no choice in any case. The corposystem cannot dominate the power of the whole system of Life on Earth and neither can our preferences. The result of the effort will be a dreadful blowback upon our children and grandchildren. We know this. It has already begun.

And so why don’t we all get together and do something to prevent the blowback? We easily could, and that is why we need good information. As long as we the people don’t understand how the Biosystem functions. Or if we believe what the corposystem has taught us to believe, rather than making the effort to study and internalize the factual truths about the system of Life. As long as we don’t know how these things function, we cannot stop the dysunction.

No human can understand all the reductionist details about how Life functions, but anyone can understand the basic principles — and then expand that knowledge to apply to individual practical situations. It’s quite simple. Life is about balance among all the parts of the Biosystem. From the perspective of the Law of Life, we humans are only one of the parts, and we are not the part that creates fire, food, air, water, and the good earth.

Download the podcast at this address:

Meantime, Above 7000 Feet

I said:

I couldn’t imagine what the hummingbirds eat up here on the mountaintop, when they arrive in May when there is still danger of snow and there are very few flowers, excepting the ubiquitous little purple ones that are supposed to be edible (for people) but have very tiny flowers. Or so I thought. I know from last year that they will be eating thistles – but the thistles haven’t even begun to grow.

And then Larry said:

“Hummingbirds seem to be able to make use of surprisingly small flowers.

We have a “bee balm” native plant in the front garden with very small flowers — less than 1/8 inch I would guess — and the hummingbirds spend a surprising amount of time at each blossom.

Hummingbirds also eat a lot of insects, we’re told, and we recently saw slow-motion videos of them doing just that. They open their beaks very wide, and catch the flying insects way back toward the base of the beak. Looks pretty humorous, but it appears to work just fine.”

Now, I don’t know what these little purple flowers are, but I do know bee balm, and these are quite a lot smaller than bee balm, and yet the hummingbirds are definitely staking out territories. But what do you know if you open your eyes you see these perfect hummingbird flowers on bushes all over the place. It’s not my inattention – it’s my cataracts ☺ And now I’m trying to photograph all the flowers on my little hill and can’t begin to keep up with them all.

Then I sat in the front yard for a cup of coffee, my back to the sun in the crispy morning, when BZZZZZZ, and before me on the table lay the shadow of my head with our hummingbird hovering, first one side then the other. I could feel it probing at the red and pink of my stocking cap, and then zip – gone again. If it’s there, they will find it.

Bare Bones Biology 205 – Why?

Now at the end of a complicated series of blogs describing the Law of Life on Earth –Why do we care?

The whole blog series is a condensed outline, using mostly words that come from the mouth of a basic biological scientist, to explain how Life on earth functions to stay alive. But, I could just as well have paraphrased the same ideas using words from the Buddhist lexicon. In fact some of the ideas came to me from reading about Buddhist “science.” Or I could have used words from the old or new testament.

I don’t know very much about other religions, but if you want to read more widely, I recommend His Holiness the Dalai Lama, The Middle Way; Huston Smith, Why Religion Matters; Karen Armstrong, The Case for God; Paul and Anne Ehrlich, Betrayal of Science and Reason; and Bare Bones Ecology Energy Handbook free on my blog.

These are not new ideas. Humans have learned about greed and human ego, and their relationship to the higher Life forces, over and over and over, and just because Western science has given us more powerful ways to measure and define Life – that does not make our wisdom any better, or essentially different, from the wisdom that we have learned and relearned so many times in the history of human kind. We are, in fact, in many important ways more ignorant because of our dependence on the power of technology (I won’t call that science), and we are headed for the biggest fall in all of human history because we have built the biggest tower of greed and self aggrandizement in all of human history, and we have built it on the foundations of ignorance passing for wisdom.

So why do we care?

I asked the question of a few friends: “Why am I thinking about a LIFE FORM – an individual life form, with veins of running streams and lungs of ever-flowing air – that is composed of species rather than organs?”

Here is one answer: “My guess would be that it’s because you are in favor of survival of the ecosystems that we know and love (that include us, but I don’t think that’s your main point). And because the corposystem keeps doing the stupid thing, against survival. Surely you wonder what has happened to our human belief system that we do the suicidal thing. Guess that’s murder-suicide.”
Yes, that’s a good answer except for my main point. Do my lungs say to my body that survival of the lungs is more important than survival of the body? That survival of the body is not the main point? In fact, the welfare of humans IS MY MAIN POINT. My main point is that we are working for the welfare of humans ONLY or mostly. Can we possibly believe that survival of the body of Life, the whole of Life is not important? That survival of one of its species is the main point?

In fact, our ignorant effort to promote humans uber alles is causing enormous and unnecessary suffering of humans. (And BTW, the word ignorant does not mean stupid – it means uninformed or uneducated — and there is a solution to ignorance, which is to educate one’s self). The suffering of humans and all sentient beings IS MY MAIN POINT. If there were no humans I wouldn’t care about the ecosystem. As another friend has said: “The ecosystem can take care of itself.” And it can, and it does, using the Law of Life that we just finished discussing; and it will, and the suffering will be vast.

140518-SIMPLELIFE-ASC_9086RLSs copyAnd then she went out and picked several gallons of nettles. I went out and watched the moon set before me on this frosty morning as the sun rose at my back and the energy of Life flowed down the hill toward me. And the birds came to the melting water, and even the leaves, reached, ever so slightly, toward the light.
Why do I care?

Why keep on with this blog in the face of its obvious futility and the hostility — no that’s not the right word — the rock-solid disinterest of most family, friends and bystanders? First, because it keeps my mind off my own tiny ego-problems. We are killing the Earth that provides for us; we are destroying ourselves. We are spitting in the face of the Creator of Life. What can I do? I cannot “fix” other people. That’s not one of the available options, but that is not a reason to do nothing. As far as I know, and I have looked, I have three choices (we always have at least three). The first is to opt out and pretend it isn’t so, or even invent scenarios to “prove” it isn’t so; the second is to participate enthusiastically in whatever effort makes me feel good; the third is to study and carefully consider my own actions and behaviors, and not participate in any action that causes more harm than good to human-kind.

I choose not to participate in any campaign or action that causes more harm than good to human-kind, and I work to evaluate all campaigns and actions according to the reality of the Law of Life before deciding whether or not they will cause more harm than good to human-kind.

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

A podcast of this blog can be downloaded at:


The Dalai Lama. 2010. Toward a True Kinship of Faiths; how the world’s religions can come together. Doubleday.

Karen Armstrong. 2009. The Case for God. Alfred A. Knopf.

Huston Smith. 2001. Why Religion Matters; the fate of the human spirit in an age of disbelief. Harper One.

Paul R. Ehrlich and Anne H. Ehrlich. 1996. Betrayal of Science and Reason. Shearwater.

Bare Bones Ecology Energy Handbook. Right side of the page under Chapters. Free download.

Bare Bones Biology 204 – Gary’s Question #3, Evolution and Emergent Properties

Our goal is to build a human system (society) that is sustainable and reasonably comfortable within a healthy Biosystem. (Bare Bones Biology 195, That is reason enough to learn everything we can about the Law of Life (that is, the Law of Evolution and the many interacting processes involved with Evolution) Bare Bones Biology 197,

140513-canyon-ASC_9026RLSs copyThis series of podcasts, beginning with Bare Bones Biology 194 is meant to provide the most basic overview of the Law of Life, one of the laws of nature, along with the laws of thermodynamics, gravity, etc., that operate to maintain Life on Earth. That means Life itself. It does not mean human Life. Humans could not survive without the other parts of the system of Life on Earth. The earth will still be alive 50 years from now, but it is not clear that humans will continue to be a part of the Biosphere. It is the Law of Evolution that supports the positive biological systems and disposes of those that have negative impact upon the viability of the Biosystem (Bare Bones Biology 194,

Both the Biosystem and the human corposystem are systems. Systems are self-perpetuating, so long as they maintain their positive interactions with their environments, and each system grows around a set of core properties that together have a unique survival value within the Biosystem.

Six of the most basic requirements for Evolution to function positively are described in Bare Bones Biology 198 ( and Bare Bones Biology 199 (http://Fact/ They are:
1-Reproduction; 2-Death; 3-Inheritance of traits; 4-variability of traits; 5-transmission of traits to the following generation; 6-Interconnectedness of processes and “things,” or
objects. (Objects are organisms, cells, tissues — all the objects that are generated at all the levels of organization of Life and are maintained by the processes of the Life system). (Bare Bones Biology 199, Bones Biology 200,

140513-canyon-ASC_9028RLSs copyThere could be no Life without interconnectedness because there would be no way for the living objects to change in response to their environment. There could be no systems without interconnectedness because the function of a system is to maintain itself in the face of its changing environment. If the system cannot maintain itself as the environment changes, then it fails (dies), as our corposystem is now failing. It is the Law of Evolution that imposes the necessary balance between the need of a system to respond to its environment and the system’s necessary tendency to avoid change. (Bare Bones Biology 196m )

Response to environment in lower systems (individual cells or individual organisms) happens using physiology. This is the first function of the information encoded in the genes, or DNA ( ,Bare Bones Biology 201). Many or most genes that are doing this first function, regulate processes that generate a living thing thing or object, such as yourself, or a tree, or a cell, or a kidney, by responding to the environment
embryologically or physiologically.

Response to environment in the higher life forms (species; ecosystems; the Biosystem) happens using Evolution. The nature of Life (the living objects at all the levels of organization ( results from balancing the needs of all the interacting systems as they respond to their internal and external environments (Bare Bones Biology 200, http://Fact/ The function of Evolution is to maintain this balance.

Depending upon all the above factors, and more, the evolution of life forms responds to the environment in multiple ways, from very slow, step by step evolution to remarkably rapid jumps known as biological saltation or punctuated equilibrium (ref Wikipedia). This part of evolution is possible because of inheritance of traits that can be passed on to the next generation, and it is the second function of DNA — to make exact copies of itself (all the genes) to be passed on to the next generation in the sex cells and by fertillization (ref Wikipedia). The genes then use their first function in the new gamete by activating the processes that create new living “things” (cells, organisms, tissues, etc.). Evolution does not act directly upon the genes; Evolution acts upon the variable characteristics (phenotypes) of the things (organisms, tissues, cells, etc) that are created by the genes.

A small amount of genetic and phenotypic variation results from individual gene changes, or mutations. More results from many, many genetically controlled processes that work together. For example to make a jaw bone, or a tooth, tissues that interact with each other, requires many genes interacting with each other and with the embryonic environment in which the jaw is made. Variability of inheritable traits is necessary for Evolution, and the genes encode the traits. Therefore genetic variability is an important pre-requisite for phenotypic variability, and there are many processes that generate genetic variability, from meiosis of the sex cells in individuals to the maintenance of subtle genetic errors in the gene pools of species. We discussed these in (Bare Bones Biology 201 – Bones Biology 202 Bones Biology 203 –

In all the millions and millions and billions of recombination and mutation events of genes, very rarely, some call it a singularity event, a unique COMBINATION OF genes—that encodes a unique combination of processes—comes together to generate, suddenly (on a geological time scale), an emergent property – a new functional sustem that sustains a new emergent property that provides a new and different way to survive: eating, flying, swimming, growing, a new way that can populate a whole new niche in the environment. This is a big jump in evolution; certainly it happens, probably it is what we refer to as punctuated equilibrium or saltation — and then it is followed by adaptive radiation.

However, unless you intend to live to be a million years old or so I would not wait around for a singularity event to save us from our own hubris (Bare Bones Biology 195, So I would suggest – instead of playing human mind games — that you join in the reality-based effort to sustain a Biosystem humans can live in — by using your talents to dig as deeply as you can into understanding and teaching the real Facts of Life and helping to discover how we can learn to submit to them by living sustainably. Rather than try to negate the Facts of Life based on your personal opinions. If you were to succeed – then what? No life.

On the other hand, if we could learn to conform ourselves to reality, we could conceivably build a new human social system with a different set of core properties – combined to form a new emergent understanding of Life — that are sustainable and provide reasonably comfortable life style for humans on a viable, living earth.

Win or lose, that is the most important effort that any human person could make.

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

The podcast of this episode is available at:

Bare Bones Biology 203 – Gary’s Question #3, Genetics

The process of evolution results in a change in the gene pool over time so that each species separately and the entire ecosystem, if it can respond to its environment, can stay alive. The ability to respond to the internal and external environment is the definition of being alive and of being a Life form, whether a cell, or an individual organism or a species or the entire Biosystem. That the Biosystem is a life form is not an opinion; it is a fact, or if you prefer, a definition.

140506-flowers-asc_8951SsIt’s also true that inheritable mutations are not altogether random, but we are not talking about mutations here, we are taling about evolution, and as I tried to explain previously in this series (Bare Bones Biology 201 – Genotypes, Phenotypes and Evolution), evolution works on the phenotype, not the primarily the genotype. The genotype is all the genes in one individual organism: the phenotype is the sum of the physical characteristics of an individual organism: Evolution is a change in the gene pool of a species (not an individual, that is impossible) over generations of time: the gene pool is all the genes in all the individuals of the species or of the ecosystem.

The process of natural selection, which is part of evolution, selects FOR survival and reproduction of phenotypes that function well in the environment. If and only if that genotype is heritable, then the entire gene pool may be change to favor one gene or, much more likely, a combination of genes, that are best suited to whatever environment is operating at any given time.

It makes no difference to evolution whether or not mutations occur, what those mutations may be and whether or not mutations are random. Evolution does not select genes; evolution selects phenotypes that function well within the Biosystem at any given time and place.

The function of the genes has primarily to do with the survival of the individual and of the species, and it is two-fold. First, the genes turn on and off during growth, development and survival in response to cues from the environment. These actions are studied by cell biologists, physiologists, developmental biologists. This level of activity is what you referred to as epigenetics – that is how genes know what is happening in and around your body so they can activate the appropriate responses. This is how we stay alive, day to day. It does not change the genes; in fact the basic function of the genes is to not change but to provide the information necessary for the organism to respond to environment, and the second function of the genes is to pass on all of that information to the next generation without changing the genes but reorganizing them, so that each individual has a slightly different phenotype. The variability of the phenotype is the connection between the genes and the process of evolution.

The most common kind of genomic variability is recombination of genes. Recombination ensures that every individual organism in a species is slightly different from every other organism in that species. Another way that variability is generated is by mutation.

140506-flowers-asc_8953SsGiven that every cell in the body has a full set of genes, and all these genes are copied billions of times, it is not surprising that mistakes (mutations) occasionally occur. It would be surprising if they did not. Some of the mutations can be passed on to the next generation. Therefore every organism does have a small percentage of mutations and every species carries a large number of mutations in its gene pool; should any of these ever become useful to the survival phenotype of the species – evolution will select for those mutations.

This whole story of nested processes is the language of Life, as it has been created. Unlike the languages of man the Language of Life is completely honest, and yet it is far, far more mysterious and empowering and glorious than the concept of personhood, which places God and his works subordinate to the narrow mind of man.

To download the podcast of this blog:

This is not yet the end of the story. I’ll talk about punctuated equilibrium next week.

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

Bare Bones Biology 202 – Gary #1 – It’s a Natural Process and it Takes Time

Gary said:

“Lynn, when I took a class in evolution some fifty years ago the dogma of the day was that evolution was very slow and gradual and that change occurred due to random mutations. Random never made any sense to me at all, and now we have the new science of epigenetics, which, as far as I can see, gives the lie to random. The fossil record shows punctuated equilibrium, not slow and steady–and yet I believe these two “scientific” doctrines are still taught as gospel. Have any opinions on this?”

140424-SnowySunrise-asc_8884RLSs copyIn answer, Gary, you have presented two good ideas as though they were alternatives. They are not. For the first, aside from being a bit hokey, there is nothing wrong with Tyson’s account of dog evolution in his second Cosmos program ( I did not hear him say that slow and steady is the only kind of evolution, and of course it’s not.
For the second, punctuated equilibrium (biological saltation) is also a reasonably well established concept. For example, one fairly recent scientific publication in Nature – a high-level scientific journal:

(Nature 463, 349-352 (21 January 2010) | doi:10.1038/nature08630; Received 18 August 2009; Accepted 29 October 2009; Published online 9 December 2009. Phylogenies reveal new interpretation of speciation and the Red Queen).

Wikipedia is a source of facts about science and evolution, but it may not be very helpful in explaining why random mutation seems to be counter-intuitive, or how all these facts fit together into a description of how the Law of Evolution maintains Life on earth and why it’s important for us to understand.

Science is about facts; not dogma and not debate. Dogma and debate are human problems, and facts are not human. They just are. Basic science is a very effective method of finding out what they are. Basic biology wants to know the facts about how Life works/functions to stay alive. And basically Life works/functions according to very consistent, rigid, unemotional natural laws. The natural law of evolution uses interacting genotypes, phenotypes and processes to maintain Life (

Why doesn’t everyone understand how the facts fit together to describe the process of evolution? Mostly because, if we are scientists, we don’t know everything about all the steps in the processes we are studying. Or, if we are educators, we fail to explain steps in the process that seem to one person self-evident and to another person counter-intuitive. The third reason for our unquestioned dogmas is Corposystem de-education.

Basic science does not lend itself to soundbites or to linear thinking, nor does it function in outline format. Basic science asks how the Law of Evolution functions to make Life stay alive. The answer to that question is complicated; it is all interconnected – all about balance. It is the corposystem that promotes dogma, human opinions and debate. The corposystem does not teach about our biological context — and certainly not about facts. Nevertheless, facts are facts. Facts are not debatable; only our human opinions are debatable.

And if we ever want to use the real facts to do something more useful than debating soundbites out of context we must defy the corposystem, stop debating, and start studying and discussing the facts within the factual context of process. That’s including us good guys. Especially the good guys.

140424-SnowySunrise-asc_8867RLS copy 2I have been kindly advised many times in recent years — how to “do it right.” That is, how to modify the facts of Life (or at least the context) in my writing so that people will want to read what I write. That’s the corposystem model (fight, win, earn). It’s not the scientific model, but it is what most people do to win money, arguments, awards – or in the belief that simplified (reductionist; soundbite; devoid of its nonhuman, unemotional, factual, implacable context) information will provide a more useful education. What it really provides is confusion and division (divide and conquer the people). If we only listen with the ears trained by the corposystem, we cannot understand science no matter how it is presented, because it does not make sense within in the human corposystem belief system. If we cannot think of the corposystem as a nonessential component of the Biosystem, then we cannot understand science. Because science studies the far more powerful and implacable system of Life itself.

The power of good science for humans lies in our ability to build a human society that is sustainable and reasonably comfortable unto the seventh generation and beyond ( with Bill Moyers AccountabilityB.mp3)
To this end, human “female power” (“Powers of the Weak”, Elizabeth Janeway) tries to use science to align itself with the power of factual reality and thus to enhance its total power; human “male power,” on the other hand, tries to use science to dominate and win. Most of us today seem to prefer human baby power: if you cry hard enough someone will give you whatever you want.
Our corposystem – our culture — is based in the model of human male power feeding human baby power.

140423-canyon_DSC9815RLSs copyGod and His created Laws of Nature are not only for human males, not only for humans, but for Life itself. Life will survive; the corposystem probably will not make it to 2050 — humans perhaps a big longer — even though it only would take a little reverence, and a little humility and compliance, to embrace our place within His awesome works.

If we want to empower ourselves “unto the seventh generation” – or more. We need to study the biological facts that we already understand, and discuss how to use them for that purpose.

Oh well. I got distracted by the context again. Next time let’s discuss why nothing is perfect, and why random mutations are not counter-intuitive.

This is Bare Bones Biology, a production of FactFictionFancy and KEOS FM 98.1, Bryan, Texas. with Bill Moyers AccountabilityB.mp3

Nature 463, 349-352 (21 January 2010) | doi:10.1038/nature08630; Received 18 August 2009; Accepted 29 October 2009; Published online 9 December 2009. Phylogenies reveal new interpretation of speciation and the Red Queen. To get this reference you need a library.
Thom Hartmann, “Cracking the Code,” Berrett-Koehler Pub., Inc, San Francisco, 2007.
Elizabeth Janeway, “Powers of the Weak”