Bare Bones Biology 223 – Why?

Sorry to be so late this week.  As you know, I got involved with quite a lot of photography related to the climate change march.  And today’s blog will talk (again) about the root cause of climate change.  If we ignore the root cause (of anything) it will just circle around and come back to bite us in a different form, so all you climate change marchers, you need to ALSO deal with the root cause or you cannot succeed in your projects unto the seventh generation (or even the third, that would be your grandchildren) and beyond.  Here is this week podcast transcription140920-ClimateMarc-ASC_1731RLRLSs

God did not design a world in which we can have everything we want. And what a good thing that is! We would have messed it up in short order. We are not God and we do not have the wisdom or the capacity, even with computers, to understand and keep track of and balance all the millions of interacting parts of a sustainable life form such as our Earth. And of course all of our food, water and air, that is our survival, comes from our living earth.

Instead, the miracle of this living earth is precisely that it is designed to sustain itself. If we don’t completely mess it up, we can be quite certain that there will be a future for us to live and strive for because the Life of Earth is sustainable. However, it does not operate solely to serve human desires, and as Chief Oren Lyons said to Amy Goodman on Democracy Now (DN130809). “The Laws of Nature are such that we will suffer in direct ratio to our transgressions. It’s as simple as that. People should understand this, there is no mercy in nature. None whatsoever. Only the Law. Only the rules. If you follow those laws and rules, you’ll have regeneration, again and again, and if you want to challenge those laws, then you suffer the consequence, and that’s where we are right now.”

That is a reason to be alive. For the future. That we should not create more suffering, now or in the future, because of us being a part of all Life.

I guarantee the reason for human existence is not profit — or fame. Probably, the purpose for our lives is that very sustainability — that very intricately balanced sustainability. Or maybe it is the search for deeper meaning, in fact to reach out for God, within the task of sustaining and growing His creation.

In any case, we all do have an obligation to the future, and one of the best expressions of this fact that I’ve heard are again in the words of native American Chief Oren Lyons, this time speaking to Bill Moyers   “We are now. Now is us. We’re the seventh generation. I’m sitting here as the seventh generation because seven generations ago there were people looking out for me. Seven generations from now someone will be there, I know. And so each generation makes sure that seven generations is coming, all the time. . . And that’s accountability. We’re accountable. We and you and I, we’re accountable, yes we are, and they are going to call us. They’re the ones who are going to say Why did you do this, or Why did you not do this?”

Indeed we could grow a sustainable future, with much resources for everyone, so long as we limit our numbers to what the earth has available to give, both to ourselves and to the other Earth species that are responsible for maintaining the viable conditions of air water and food energy, and at the same time every child could have at least the chance at life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, in other words, a rewarding life.

But not, as we are doing today, not if we continue to produce more children than we have resources to support. Sooner or later, regardless of our technological genius, a population that grows greater than the available resources, like any Ponzi scheme, falls down into a terrible morass of suffering.   And we will have nobody to blame but ourselves. Not the Bible, not God, not nature – because we know what we are doing to cause the suffering and we refuse to stop doing it.

Of course we do understand that overpopulation will end in disaster. Our problem is that, at the same time, we must all honor our humanity, and part of that human imperative is our built-in sense of compassion.

As an American Buddhist friend has said:

“About babies – totally agree there are too many. Governments need to stop subsidizing them. No tax deductions after the first birth. No fertility clinics – adopt, borrow, or put up with it. But I’m less hard-hearted about letting people die, though the logic hasn’t changed. Only because I was on a scary small plane ride with a young woman with a tiny baby, coming back from hospital birth. It would have been her second, but the first time the weather had stopped planes from flying so she couldn’t get to the hospital. Before that I would have said, this is normal and how it should be. Just like if it were my children and grandchildren getting ebola, I wouldn’t be able to say it’s normal, it cuts the population problem.“So if we’re going to protect individual lives, we really, really have to change our norms about having babies. Every child deserves full attention of at least five adults, that’s what I say.  I’d like to see a movement.”

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

A copy of the podcast is available at:

Democracy Now DN130809

Bill Moyers,







140922 – Diary – Climate March

140920-ClimateMarch-ASC_1781RLSs copySometimes I wonder. Actually most of the time I wonder why we-the-people try so hard to get someone else to take care of the problem that we haven’t tried to understand the cause of so we can take care of it ourselves. What is the point of begging our leaders to deal with climate change when we at the same time require our leaders to give us everything else that we want, and the other things we want always involve growth of the human “imprint” on the earth that unbalances the miracle of the Life that is our Earth.

140920-ClimateMarch-ASC_1790RLSsThe Law of Life is not only the Law of Life on Earth – it is also the real bottom line of human existence. Life must stay in balance to stay alive. If it can’t stay the way we like it — it will change so that it can stay in a different balance. It does this by several mechanisms that are biological. By flowing energy through the living system; by recycling the materials of which it is made, and by interacting with the environmental conditions of now. To do this job of staying alive, the Living Earth changes in response to WHAT WE DO TO IT NOW.

Fracking, for example, is largely illegal, and we do have laws of humans that were meant to protect us from ourselves, and we could be out there enforcing them, in addition to marching. And teaching ourselves how the laws of nature REALLY do function to maintain Life. How they really do function, not the fairy stories about cornucopias or survival of the fittest.

140920-ClimateMarch-ASC_1824RLSs copyAnd devising new ways to make laws for humans that will support the Law of Life.

Most of our leaders are a good bit more clueless than we are, so getting their attention may not help.

Oh, yes. That’s why we try so hard to get their attention.

Well, I would say the Climate March was a good try, and I wish it good luck.

140920-ClimateMarch-ASC_1857RLSsMuch rather I would like to see the people actually learn to understand the reality of the miracle that is the Biosystem so we can participate in it with love and joy, rather than duking it out with our leaders AND WITH THE BIOSYSTEM, trying to force them both to give us whatever we want without regard to the consequences to the Biosystem and therefore to ourselves.

140920-ClimateMarch-ASC_1860RLSsMuch rather I would like to see these marches also accessible to the poor people, many of whom may have no computers and no iThings and therefore don’t even hear about the march or can’t get there or are more worried about their own children than about ours. I wonder how many of the young people who participated in this march can even imagine such a thing as poor. The poor are after all in the trenches of the corposystem war against the Biosystem. Without them there would not be the success stories of Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.
that we try to emulate.

140920-ClimateMarch-ASC_1858RLSsThere are more poor on earth today than ever in the history of human kind and the only way to reverse that trend is to ALL cooperate with, rather than WAGE WAR against the efforts of our living earth as she tries to keep all her living parts functional and balanced in the way that WE want them to be balanced. We do not care to learn about her real need for balance, what Life on Earth requires to stay alive — and then we complain to our leaders for not giving us what we want, which mostly is more of everything.

More is not balance.

And I was very, very tired.

And I cannot stay in motels any more because they are using more and more of cleaning products and pesticides and chemicals that kill you sense of smell so you don’t realize you are being poisoned, as you sleep, by the cleaning products and pesticides. So I started on home, but about by the time I got to Abiquiu I was too tired to drive, and so I stopped at the Abiquiu Inn.

140920-ABQInn-ASC_1668RLSsI have told you about the Abiquiu Inn before, and I will tell you again because it is an oasis in a sea of toxic motels. It is a) quite lovely, b) clean, but cleaned with non-toxic products, c) pet friendly, d) people friendly, e) not over priced, on the low end, for an occasional treat, f) environmentally friendly, as best they can, which of course is not perfect, but I love that all the big beautiful old trees are helping to clean the air. Imagine all the motels in this country how many trees they wiped out in favor of ugly concrete. How much more sickness among the people who stay in toxic motels, and especially the people who work in those places, many of whom do not speak English. How much water and pesticides and toxic air and toxic cleaning compounds they altogether produce and imagine how much less they could be producing. Especially the chain motels that dictate the conditions according to their bottom line and without regard to the natural Law of Balance.

140921-ABQInn-asc_1862RsWell, so I thought I would tell you that again, because I don’t suppose the Abiquiu Inn was at the march, but they are nevertheless contributing every day to a better way of doing what they do. Continue reading

Bare Bones Biology 222F – What is Healthy?

In Bare Bones Biology 220 ( we all agreed with the dictionary that “health is the general condition of something in terms of soundness, vitality and proper functioning.” But that doesn’t exactly answer the question, does it, unless we know something about how we are supposed to function – our bodies, I mean – in order to be vital and sound, and there are millions of cells, connected by processes that need to work together to make our bodies function properly. And among all those millions of cells, every day vast numbers of new cells grow from the mature cells that are already there, and equally vast numbers of cells die, so that our bodies can maintain a healhy balance. Balance is the key to good health of all Life on earth. The dictionary didn’t mention that.

140723-morning-ASC_0416RLSss copyDoes that mean I need to memorize all those cells and where they came from and what they do in order to be sure I am functioning properly? You would think so from the hoohaha on the internet, but in fact nobody could memorize all that. Not even your doctor. She goes into the back room and checks the computer from time to time. The down and dirty from the drug companies. And even that is not about being healthy; it’s about being sick so they can sell you pills. Being healthy is about maintaining the natural balance of Life as it was created on this earth. Your doctor doesn’t know much more about that than you do, unless of course you have an out-of-balance body to begin with, and even then you can be aware of making it better or worse by healthy living.

So I think it’s very much more sensible to start from the top end. and recognize what Life needs to stay in balance, and then to think about what we might be doing to unbalance our lives so that they cannot keep healthy by themselves. And that story was written in the parables of humankind since the times before reading and writing. So it can’t be too difficult for us.

The body takes in food. Food is made of energy and molecules that your cells use to stay alive. When your body has separated what it needs from what it doesn’t need, it eliminates the waste materials. Your cells capture the energy and the molecules by burning the food in a very controlled and complicated set of processes that happen inside every cell. It requires oxygen to burn anything, so your body breathes in air. Your cells also require water of course because they are more or less 98 percent made of water, and the cells require molecules because the more or less 2 percent rest of themselves is mostly molecules.

140907-Monero-asc_1152RLSsIn all of our history, humans have known without being told, just as all organisms do: we require the earth to grow food, the air to breathe, the water to drink, and food energy. Earth, air, fire and water. Good food and clean water. These things are not made in supermarkets. They are made available to us by (and only by) the whole living body of the Biosystem,.

We use the molecules and energy from the food and discard the wastes. Energy does not recycle. It comes from the sun and gets changed into food energy by the plants. We only can use it once. Everything else that we need, water, oxygen, and other atoms and molecules do recycle through the entire living Biosystem; through all the plants and animals and the weather and the oceans and rivers and air.

The function of our cells and organ systems is to keep all those things – food, air and water in a healthy balance inside our cells and inside our whole body and inside the body of the whole living Biosystem, so that they will be available when they are needed. Earth, air, energy and water. Not too much oxygen, not too few cells, a good balance between eating and drinking and excretion. Everything in balance.

So what do we need to function properly?

Basically we need all those cells and organs to keep our bodies balanced, and we require good food, clean water and fresh, clear air to keep our cells and organs healthy so they can maintain the balance of our bodies.

Where do we get the food and water and air and energy?

The only plae we can get them is from a vital, sound and healthy Biosystem.

So there you are. Biology 101. Except for a few odd micro-organisms everything on earth, from the smallest bacterium to the one, unitary Life complex of the whole grand Earth, everything including us, functions to keep the whole enormous wheel of Life in balance. Healthy means everything is in balance; unhealthy is what happens when some part of it is not properly functioning in balance with the other parts of Life. Healthy cells, healthy body, healthy Biosystem.

It’s easier to learn the names of ten organs than to understand how they function, so most students would rather just learn the names. However, it’s very much easier to learn the basic principles of how a thing functions than to learn the names of millions of cells and organs, and once you know how it functions, you don’t need all those names to keep it healthy.

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

A copy of the podcast may be found at:

Meditation – 140911

It has been quite a long time since I felt even that it was possible to meditate, but here I am in the middle of the most non-threatening environment imaginable, at least in the daytime when one can look all around and see nothing moving but a few bugs and the peaceful bobbing of this or that leaf or branch, and so some time ago I started meditating again on a small but daily scale.

Then I learned a couple of things about myself. Things I have been afraid of and didn’t know it.

At one time in my life, long long ago, I read a little quote in a church bulletin. (Then I lost it. If anyone knows this quote, please, I lived by if for years and would like to stick it up on my wall properly attributed.) Anyhow, the third point was to the effect if you want to lose your fears, you have to do the things of which you are afraid.

So I did.

I actually never did lose any of my fears, but I became accustomed to ignoring them and did many things (with the help of my friends, especially Margie, who understood the importance and didn’t baby my panic but instead helped me pack for the trips) that turned out to be highlights of my memories. Thank you Margie, for some of the highlights of my life.

So I spent much of my life being afraid until I actually got used to and for the most part ignored the feeling. I didn’t know there were still hidden pockets hiding inside. No I won’t tell you, it’s personal.

What I do want to tell you is – I meditated myself into a frenzy. I finally realized the frenzy was just the same-old, same-old. One more thing to be afraid of, and it’s a LOT better to know it’s there than to go around not doing important things for fear of activating it. And then meditation became almost pleasant, probably until the next time, but for now, every morning with the sun at my back, just for short periods of time, it’s very nice.

In the past, if I meditate with dedication for about half an hour, I have learned to expect the “sign.” Someone told me it was a sign. I don’t know of what. When I see a star with concentric circles of purple and gold converging upon it. I like it, but lately I don’t meditate for half an hour, so I did not expect to see the sign again.

140912-lizard-asc_1302RSsWell, yesterday I did. It was very nice and peaceful, and the first time ever that I have been meditating and didn’t want to stop. But – you are supposed to set your time and stick with it, stopping neither too soon nor too late, so I stopped on time, surfacing reluctantly, and opened my eyes to see our lady lizard sitting on a rock next to my foot. When I moved, instead of dashing off, she cocked her head and looked back up at me, and there we both sat for another ten minutes or so.

No I didn’t have a camera with me at the time, but isn’t she beautiful?

How do you suppose those stripes and spots know where they are supposed to be?

Hello Lady Lizard ☺

(You should see her babies, they are adorable.)

Bare Bones Biology 221F – Watchtower

“Are you proselytizing?”

“Well, not really.”

Of course they were. The big man was hiding the Watchtower magazine behind his leg. And why else would he and his companion get all dressed up in city shoes, drive 3.5 miles into the wilderness and stop in my yard. The dictionary defines proselytizing as: “trying to convert someone to beliefs or opinions.”

Watchtower Christians are past masters of the conversational bait and switch, but I am no slouch at keeping my logic on target, and the subject of the month is Climate Change. Good bait; I’m very pleased that the Watchtower people care about climate change. They should learn all they can about it.

130626-red truck-ASC_6366RsThe visitor might have thought me a tree-hugger, way out here in the boonies; probably was not expecting an ecologist/geneticist. I said: “I do not argue with anyone about science unless and until they are willing to take the trouble to understand the science.” He said they weren’t “arguing.” She said they couldn’t be expected to be experts in science; I said: “I didn’t say expert, I have enough expertise for us all, but there is no point talking about science with people who don’t understand what the words mean and aren’t interested in finding out.” They didn’t argue.

I said I would read the watchtower, and I gave them the web address of my blog. I have a whole series on climate change, was it a couple of years ago already? that would be easy to find by plugging in the key words (“climate change”).

I read the Watchtower article on Climate Change, which is entitled “Will Man Ruin the Earth Beyond Repair?” This article expresses an apparently genuine concern about climate change and gives an accurate summary of the basics. There is a sidebar with references to popular, reputable and apparently accurate sources. I will definitely quote their description of the Zone of Life, including the closing sentence from Jeremiah 10:12 “the One who established the productive land by his wisdom.” It’s a little behind times. The “zone of life” is not as narrow as we used to believe, and continues deep within the earth, including the area that is being devastated by fracking, but that is another discussion. This is about the Watchtower article itself. What do I, as an expert scientist, think of the article?

In fact, I recommend this article to all climate change deniers, and I agree with its summary of climate change. I have only two negative reactions to this article. First, among the Bible references that are scattered through the article are none that place responsibility upon you or me or us to make the necessary effort to maintain the viable (living) balance of the “productive land” that the Bible says God created. Second, the Watchtower people clearly do not understand how the “productive land” stays alive so that it can provide for and support the people. In the modern age, we do know how Life maintains itself – at least we understand the basics of the System. It’s odd, in this crisis, that we are encouraged to sit back and wait for God to fix it for us.

140909-peablossom_dsc0003RSs copyThe Bible is not the only thing that God created. He also created the wild things, plant and animal, and the entire living unit of the Biosystem, and as Jesus said about prophets (Matthew 7:16) “Ye shall know them by their works.” If this is true of prophets, how much more it must be true of God.

I think sitting around waiting for God to fix the mess we created in His Biosystem, rather than take a few hours ourselves to understand the basic laws of God and nature that permit the living earth to survive – as they are demonstrably manifested in His creation – well, I don’t think that approach will solve the problem, and since He kicked us out of the Garden of Eden once already, I expect he is still waiting for us (including the “good guys”) to grow up and take responsibility for the demonstrable consequences of our own behaviors.

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

A copy of the podcast can be downloaded at:

Bare Bones Biology 220 – Healthy Living

Last evening, I was puttering around, thinking about healthy living. You know, the three of us have started a healthy living project ( The phone rang. It was my nearest neighbor. Her car stopped working, someone gave her a ride to the top of the canyon, and there she was, stuck and alone, three and a half miles away. Walking home for three miles in the deep, dark bottom of the canyon, with only half a moon rising and no defense bigger than a stick. It may not be unhealthy, but it feels like it. Being eaten by a bear, is that really what the word means? Unhealthy? Or is it just bad luck?

1408113-canyon_gardenASC_0821RLss copyThe Oxford American dictionary gives the definition of healthy as: “Having or showing or producing good health.” The thesaurus on my computer is a little more specific, and answers the necessary next question: “What is health?” by saying: “The general condition of something in terms of soundness, vitality and proper functioning.”

I like functional definitions, because they can usually be tested. For example, if your kidney is not functioning properly, that very fact suggests a method to determine the cause of the problem. But that would be unhealthy. You might know you are unhealthy because you feel bad. It’s not so easy to recognize how good a healthy person can feel, and use that good feeling to maintain vital, living health. Some people “feel bad” and don’t even know it. They think it is normal.

The problem of how to stay healthy has increased enormously in the past 20 or 30 years. The culture I was born into studied biology in hopes of improving the human condition. The so-called “greatest generation” genuinely cared about human welfare. On the contrary, the prime directive of the newly evolved corposystem is the bottom line, and so it uses the word healthy primarily to get us to buy stuff. Or to believe whatever it wants us to believe. So the words no longer mean what they mean. That’s why I’m taking all this time to define the words healthy and health before we continue with our Healthy Living project.

Health is the general condition of something in terms of soundness, vitality and proper functioning. Healthy refers to something that is sound, vital and functioning properly.

140904-canyon-ASC_1128RLSss copyIs that you? Is it me? Is it my sunflower that I planted earlier this year? The community that provides our sewage disposal and clean water and food? Is it the trees on the side of our mountain? Is it perhaps the entire mountain ecosystem? Is it the whole living earth? Is the earth functioning properly? Proper for what? For whom? Who says what is proper? Surely not the drug companies.

The dictionary says that healthy is lacking disease. Is that just me, living with the bears so that I can avoid the bad-air sickness that now covers most of our country, causing “epidemics” of asthma, alzheimers, cancers of various kinds? Does healthy only apply to humans? Or also to horses and dogs and cats and bears and trees and corn, and even kidneys and ecosystems and cells? I guess so. I guess anything that can die can be unhealthy. And we all know that disease is not the only cause of disease. For example, goiter can be caused by a mineral deficiency, and obesity is a proven cause of ill health because it unbalances so many interactions within our physiology that must function properly to continually balance our physiology at the point of health, as we meet the physical and emotional challenges of our environment.

So it’s not so simple to maintain health, is it? But I think we can agree about the definition, and I think we can use the definition, in coming weeks, to define the questions we need to think about if we want to be healthy. Healthy for whom, and why, and how?

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

A podcast of this blog can be downloaded at:

140825-sunrise-ASC_0993LSs copy