Bare Bones Biology 263F – The Problem Is

Right now it seems as though we (as humanity) are running panic stricken, in all directions at the same time without any sustainable paradigm to guide us, each person responding in knee-jerk fashion, mostly trying to “fix” our social collapse, each according to his own world view and without respect to getting rid of the cause of the affliction. This is why I have not enthusiastically focused my energy on any of these separating actions, though many will

 

150615-Flood-ASC_7400sI bless the culture shocks that saved me from myself. Wisdom is gained, according to the Dalai Lama (Becoming Enlightened) by “analyzing the facts and discerning the actual situation.” He should know – he’s had enough paradigm shifts in his life, and I’m quite sure we would agree that this kind of wisdom, based in factual reality and gained through deep study and empathic participation — combined with wise (altruistic) compassion — is essential to long-term, reasonably rewarding human lives.

 

Before that I actually believed that we had dealt with the problem in the 50’s and 60’s. I knew I had, and that’s another thing about one’s own paradigm. Unless we have an opportunity to experience the logic of another’s paradigm, we just naturally tend to believe that everyone else thinks like we do. They don’t. They don’t even want to. They like their own.

 

We need to begin rational fact-based discussion of issues and stop fighting irrational wars (debates).

 

I bless the culture shocks that saved me from myself. Wisdom is gained, according to the Dalai Lama (Becoming Enlightened) by “analyzing the facts and discerning the actual situation.” He should know – he’s had enough paradigm shifts in his life, and I’m quite sure we would agree that this kind of wisdom, based in factual reality and gained through deep study and empathic participation — combined with wise (altruistic) compassion — is essential to a long-term, reasonably rewarding human paradigm.

 

Is it possible, given the chaos we are now creating, that our response to our social and biological collapse is not so much about the actual cause of the problem as it is about the necessity of “getting together” in order to “analyze the facts and discern the actual situation” in an effort to grow some wisdom around the problem? Is it perhaps that our World Views are pushing us apart, preventing us from getting together even to discuss the real issues?

 

I think it’s important for us to understand that all world views are or were logical in the circumstances of their origin, and to understand that culture shock is one of those painful blessings with emphasis on blessing, and to understand that we always have choices. We can cling to the seeming security of what we already understand, or we can choose to become a part of change, for the benefit of the entire community.

 

150614-Cabin-ASC_7341RLSsThe natural biological response to stress is indeed to generate diversity, but I think the wise approach, in this case, would be to benefit all of us by sharing and evaluating the world views of all in our effort to understand why we don’t just admit to the real cause of our pain so we can remove it. And then proceed to develop a more sustainable world view of the whole. In other words, to discuss the issues among the disciplines.

 

There is always a starting point for discussion, because we all are looking at the same problem happening in the same Earth Biosystem. We are not experiencing a bunch of different problems. We are in fact, every one of us, experiencing one common experience, the death of our species.

 

I think that’s worth a little time spent in problem-solving with others of our kind.

 

I believe paradigm change is the only hope for human kind in this age, and it is clearly happening, but extremely inefficiently. We could do more. We could consciously use our unique mental equipment to grow a new world view that is aligned with our current factual reality, which is overproduction, overpopulation and overshoot.

 

My goal is to grow or create a new paradigm that will result in a sustainable, reasonably comfortable human presence on this earth. What is yours?

 

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

 

A copy of the podcast can be obtained at:  http://traffic.libsyn.com/fff/Bare_Bones_Biology_263_-_The_Problem_Is.mp3

 

References Cited:

Collapse, by Jared Diamond. Penguin Books, 2011.

Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot by Tom Butler and William N. Ryerson. Goff Books, 2015.

Becoming Enlightened, by His Holiness The Dalai Lama and Jeffrey Hopkins,  Atria Books, 2009.

https://factfictionfancy.wordpress.com/2015/06/17/

 

 

Bare Bones Biology 253 – Answer the Question

We have come to an age in my country, where almost everyone we talk to is afraid of questions. It astonishes me when someone responds to my questions by bursting into tears, becoming stiff and defensive or, worse, angry over I know not what.

150310-Bitsy-ASC_5542RLSsBut wait. Come to think of it, people also ask ME questions, and yes there are times I get just a wee bit huffy about it. It does depend what kind of mood I’m in, and how I feel about the other person, and also how many times they have asked me the same question. And most of all it depends on whether I think it’s a real question or just something meant to fill the empty space between us.

Sometimes I ask dumb questions for smart reasons or sometimes smart questions for dumb reasons, and most often I ask questions that nobody knows the answers to, but different people have different answers, and if we got them all together some really exciting answers might come out of it.

I am a naturally curious person, and perhaps entering my second childhood, and I like questions because I like to understand more and more about how the world works. So I ask my questions, and what do I get?

Too often, shunned, attacked, shocked responses – too often answers that are not useful, and more importantly the person on the other end of this exchange also gets nothing useful. Or maybe it is that people will only answer the right questions, or questions that are asked correctly or appropriately.

Then you may say, as most people do say about corposystem rituals: “You are doing it the wrong way.” They don’t say the ritual is negative and causes harm to both the asker and the answerer; they say it would all turn out OK if I would do the ritual correctly – that the ritual is the ultimate right and I am wrong. And then they offer to kindly teach me how to do it right — without asking whether or not I had considered and discarded their method before they were even born.

Teeny-boppers!!!!

My answer is: “So what do I care about the corposystem rituals? The corposystem loves to tell us that we are not OK unless we can become perfect at one thing or another. It’s a great technique because nobody can do it, and at the same time these rituals keep we the people occupied and focus our attention away from serious problems we are not supposed to talk about, such as overpopulation, for example, or the corposystem take-over of our political and educational systems.

Imagine raising children and they can’t ask questions. None of us ever stop learning, and in this age of incredibly rapid change, we need answers. If we can’t ask or answer questions – well then – we are stuck in our own history, and doomed to recycle that history. And that’s a really big problem that will not be solved by anyone being perfect or not perfect.

150409-Bitsy-ASC_6264RLSsSo, as for the questions, my goal is to find answers – not to practice someone else’s proscribed format until my performance is “perfect.” And in the long run, I will end up knowing more, and knowing more is both fun and useful.

We all are stuck with each other, so maybe it would be a good time to make do, swallow our fear or pride or that little tickle in the stomach that says: “I’m not good enough; I can’t handle this,” and just answer the questions. Or tell them it’s something you don’t want to talk about. Or ask a good, relevant question back. Because in any normal social situation, questions are not really a threat to anyone. And they can be incredibly useful to us all.

And anyhow, why this need to prove that you are better than everyone else? Questions are nothing more than children learning how the world really does work, and learning the answers is not an onerous task – it’s FUN! Not only fun, but good information increases your personal power in the world.

So why the angst?

Just answer the question.

This is bare bones biology, a production of FactFictionFancy.Wordpress.com and KEOS radio, 89.1 FM in Bryan, Texas. A copy of the podcast can be downloaded here:

Much better than starting wars or excluding others from important information. Or wasting our time on line trying to prove the un-provable — when we could be contributing information and attitudes that can benefit the future welfare of our communities.

Bare Bones Biology 248 – Instinct and Learning

“One essential step in learning to more genuinely see each other is to bother to look. . . if they don’t make much of an impression on us … it is all too easy to look right through them.” – Sharon Salzberg., “A More Complete Attention”

Bare Bones Biology 248 – Instinct and Learning

When you raise a child, you try to give it the knowledge that it needs to lead a successful and rewarding life.

150308-WinterP-ASC_3821RLSs copyIn the first stage of life, humans and also other higher animals learn about the world. All organisms have instincts that are in our genetic code. Higher mammals, such as ourselves, grow bigger brains, and as we grow up, our brains are able to merge the instincts that come from our genetic makeup and the experiences of our early days, to grow a worldview that will guide our successful and rewarding lives if the world stays pretty much the same as what we experienced growing up.

Our instincts and our experiences become entwined into our worldview, and we keep adding to this awareness throughout our lives. It is our world view that makes it possible for us to survive in the world, and by the time we are about ten or twelve years old we have an image of reality that will or will not help us to lead successful and rewarding lives – depending on whether or not our worldview matches the world we end up in.

We are barely aware of our worldview. It just feels to us as though it were reality – just what is now and always will be. But it’s not reality; it was our reality when we were growing up. But meantime the human world changes.

There are so many humans on earth today, with so many different worldviews, that we are causing the world to change so fast that nobody’s feet are firmly planted in reality, and the young people who are raised so carefully and conscientiously by their parents must go out into a world that does not match the world they grew up in.

I think you know all this; you are aware of a myriad of “different opinions” held by the people all around you, arising from what they believe to be reality, and because our parents wanted peace among all the people, most of us were taught that “everyone has a right to his own opinion.”

150320-Canyon-ASC_3953RLSsLike most sound bites, that one is not true, because some opinions are harmful, but it is true that everyone in modern times does have a somewhat different worldview, basically because we all were brought up in different realities. And pity the children who were raised in a television world that never was real and never can be.

Nobody knows everything about reality, and therefore everyone makes mistakes, and so people evolved to live in social groups, because a group of three people, for example, knows more about reality than one person alone. Each person of a group or a culture has a different skill-set and wisdom-set to offer the group, and the society is more or less successful according to how it takes advantage of the whole set, using that set to grow a successful and rewarding cultural worldview within the reality of Life of the time.

But no society understands all of the mind of God, or reality, or the Biosystem, because each of these entites is bigger than all our worldviews combined. That’s why societies make mistakes and fail in the same way that individuals do. And as an individual, when your social belief system – the worldview it has engrained into your brain so deeply that you believe it to be ultimate truth – when that turns out to be wrong – it feels like God died, and our first reaction is denial. Then we cling with all our might to our limited little window/view of God’s reality rather than deal directly and responsibly with what is happening. That seems to be just how it is – how human minds are made to operate.

Though if we think about it, we could probably do a little better.

A boddhisatva is a person who knows all this and nevertheless reaches out her hand to share in the world of the sinking ship.

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

A copy of this podcast is available at:

Bare Bones Biology 238 – Reflux

Congratulations to The Eagle and to Gunnar Schade for publishing an accurate, straightforward, and conservative op-ed describing facts and opinions related to fracking (posted below and at http://www.theeagle.com/opinion/columnists/cs-needs-proper-drilling-setbacks/article_5c06e1bc-abf2-5b67-87c8-9ae1fd6c5347.html )

Facts, by definition, are realities that we cannot change. Opinions, we can change. That means we cannot improve our lives by trying to change an unchangeable set of facts. It does not mean there is nothing we can do to improve our lives. It does mean we should study the facts and use the facts to help us decide what will work and what will not work to improve our lives, and then argue our opinions about the options that are actually available to us.

Bare Bones Biology http://FactFictionFancy.Wordpress.com was created for just this reason: to clarify relationships among facts about biology, and opinions about biology so that we can make the wisest possible short-term choices that cause the least possible long-term harm to ourselves.
141115-JourneyStories-ASC_2648RS2s
We cannot change facts, but we can change our opinions about how to deal with the facts. For example, we cannot change what fracking is doing to the air that everyone in the community must breath. That’s a fact of Life. We can change what we choose to do about fracking. That’s an available human choice.

In making that choice, another fact of Life should be considered. That is, what goes around, comes around. It is a fact that all the substances of Life (the atoms and molecules) recycle in the Biosystem. The fact is, if we put poisonous substances into the air, water and soil, then at least most of us must breathe, drink and/or eat poisonous substances.

We all know it’s true, what goes around comes around in the Biosystem. We don’t like to deal with it (http://www.celdf.org/), but that doesn’t change the fact. The modern “systems” expert Fritjof Capra (http://www.amazon.com/Systems-View-Life-Unifying-Vision/dp/1107011361/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1419440846&sr=1-1&keywords=capra) knows it is true, even though he may think of it more like a business plan than a law of nature. Hundreds of thousands of people during the green revolution came to understand how our earth system functions to provide for our needs, and they embraced the Ecosystem (note, system) as their family of origin. Farther back in time, earlier cultures understood the dangers of fouling our own nest; for example, lessons we have learned in Ladakh (http://www.theeconomicsofhappiness.org/) and other places are now being applied to problems in many modern communities, even Houston (www.transitionhouston.org/).

Do we need more examples? It’s a fact of life. In the real world, what goes around comes back around to affect our future welfare, the up side and the down side of our welfare, and we can’t change the facts of Life. What we can do is choose how we respond to them.

Of course, we also know that some people do not agree. For example the Eagle also published an opinion entitled: “Fracking Bans in Cities Hurt Everyone.” We know that is not a fact because I am someone and I have been very greatly harmed, physically, emotionally, financially, and permanently by oil and gas development in the Brazos Valley, as have many other people. So the idea that we all benefit from fracking is not a fact. It is an opinion. Furthermore, the author of that letter makes some rather extravagant claims that he does not support with data or references. In my opinion he cannot support some of these claims. So it seems that we have an argument between two sets of statements, each of which is supported by some facts and some opinions, with or without supporting evidence.

141104-FirstFriday-ASC_2633RSsIt seems to me foolish to argue opinions against facts. We can’t change the facts anyhow; it’s a non-discussable issue, a waste of our time that could be used to do something that actually would work to maintain or improve the common welfare. We do know that fracking is toxic to the “commons.” The commons is the air we all must breathe, the water we all must drink, and the soil in which our food grows. That’s a fact. The poisons we throw into the commons will go around and come back to bite us in the end.

If our real goal is to benefit everyone in our community, it should not be difficult to make a list of the most useful facts that limit our options. We could consult unaffiliated, well-informed experts. We then could post this list on the wall in city offices, and stop trying to change facts, admit to the reality of natural law, and begin to rationally discuss our opinions, considering both the up side and the down side of the options that remain to us, under three headings: 1) What is best for everyone now; 2) What is best for the welfare of the entire community. That would of course include people outside the cities who provide services of various kinds. 3) What is best for the future welfare of the children born into this community.

Obviously such a discussion is not an either/or debate that someone wins and someone else loses, and that’s a good thing, because either/or arguments do not lead to win-win solutions. Discussion is not the easiest answer to any problem because discussing real, fact-based issues is difficult. But such an effort, carried out with good will, could genuinely bring us one step closer, at least in BCS, to Peace on Earth and the welfare of all our citizens.

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

A copy of this podcast can be downloaded at:

 

References:
http://FactFictionFancy.Wordpress.com

http://www.theeagle.com/opinion/columnists/cs-needs-proper-drilling-setbacks/article_5c06e1bc-abf2-
5b67-87c8-9ae1fd6c5347.html

http://www.celdf.org/

http://www.theeconomicsofhappiness.org/

http://www.transitionhouston.org/

http://www.amazon.com/Systems-View-Life-Unifying-Vision/dp/1107011361/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1419440846&sr=1-1&keywords=capra

 

 

Copy of op-ed:

http://www.theeagle.com/opinion/columnists/cs-needs-proper-drilling-setbacks/article_5c06e1bc-abf2-5b67-87c8-9ae1fd6c5347.html

Posted: Saturday, December 20, 2014 12:00 am

By GUNNAR W. SCHADE

Special to The Eagle

While the shale boom is heralded as a new energy era and an economic windfall for all, the reality often looks much more mundane. Rarely in the mainstream news are there stories about the people directly affected by fracking operations near their homes, or the rapid degradation of air quality in those parts of the nation where fracking is dotting the landscape.

As geoscientists from across the world gathered two weeks ago in San Francisco for the annual American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, there were several sessions on the air quality impacts of oil and gas extraction, especially as related to the “boom.”

And the news is bleak: Ongoing air quality measurements have shown for several years now that numerous hydrocarbons attributable to oil and gas industry emissions are tens to thousands of times higher in shale areas than what is considered clean air. The widespread hydrocarbon pollution creates secondary ozone pollution, even in winter, thus affecting people far removed from extraction areas, possibly erasing two decades of ozone air quality improvements. Air toxics emissions include known and suspected carcinogens such as benzene and formaldehyde, and neurotoxins such as xylenes.

The industry’s large well numbers per area with onsite pipes, valves, tanks, compressors and other equipment, together leak an enormous amount of gas and vapors into the air. Nevertheless, regulators treat each well as a minor emitter, and permits to drill are obtained easily.

In addition, Texas regulators allow onsite gas flaring with little oversight, which together with flaring in the Bakken shale has catapulted the U.S. into the top five flaring nations in the world, wasting more than 240 billion cubic feet of natural gas per year, emitting yet unquantified amounts of soot and formaldehyde. Living downwind of one or more well sites, especially when flaring, thus means intermittent to constant nuisances from air pollutants. Associated public health effects are becoming better documented and are consistent in shale areas, including headaches, nose bleeds, and eye, skin and respiratory tract irritations.

Through front groups such as Energy in Depth, the industry is denying responsibility and shedding doubt on the health effects. But the air quality data show otherwise. At Texas Commission on Environmental Quality monitoring stations in the Barnett shale area and since 2013 also downwind of the Eagle Ford, the widespread hydrocarbon pollution is well documented. In addition, the commission’s data bases contain numerous incidences of individual measurements taken near industrial sites in the Eagle Ford showing outlandishly high pollutant concentrations.

We have analyzed the Floresville monitor (the only current air quality monitor in the Eagle Ford region) data in detail, showing on average roughly 10 times above “normal” levels of hydrocarbons many miles downwind the shale area, with regular pollution plumes at much higher levels. Tracing these plumes suggests that, at times, acutely toxic concentration levels can exist at fence-lines of individual facilities. Independent air quality measurements and the commission’s own data thus contradict repeated statements by its leadership that there are no air quality levels of concern in the shale areas.

Is it thus surprising that residents in Denton and other Texas cities are objecting to wells inside their city limits, in their neighborhoods?

As the city of College Station is pondering changes to its oil and gas ordinance, it needs to consider the impacts of air pollution on the health and welfare of its residents. Despite new federal regulations taking effect on Jan. 1, the industry as a whole has not operated responsibly in the past, and we should not expect that it will do better — especially in Texas, where lax enforcement of the rules and a lack of deterring fines are commonplace. It is up to local communities to put in place and enforce rules protective not only of the air we breathe, but the associated property values and quality of life.

As College Station is impacted ever more directly through fracking sites in the surrounding county — and soon inside the city limits — its leadership has the opportunity to pass a stronger ordinance that addresses various air quality and other environmental concerns, such as via appropriate setbacks, and continuous air quality monitoring paid by the operators, including public availability of the data. The latter falls under the widely accepted “polluter pays” principle and can instill best practices by the operator.

No clear scientific guidance exists yet for the former, i.e. the allowable proximity of a facility to a residence. Toxicological evaluations of existing air quality measurements in shale areas, however, suggest that people living within 2,600 feet of well sites have a significantly elevated risk of cancer and other ailments from their exposure.

Since there is also legal precedent in other Texas city ordinances, it would be prudent to select at least a 1,500 feet setback to limit resident exposure during the inevitable times of poor pollutant dilution under unfavorable wind conditions.

Such setbacks, alongside other rules the ordinance does contain, may allow for responsible oil and gas extraction inside city limits.
• Gunnar W. Schade lives in College Station. He receives funding from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s Air Quality Research Program, though unrelated to the topic of this column.

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 219 – Emptiness

Nobody knows what you are trying to say.

That’s why humans need art and spirituality to create and sustain community, or to reach out to each other across communal boundaries. Because the human words and contexts for these things are different in different communities.

Ki. I once wrote a whole big blog about ki. Ki is the beautiful stooping green tree outside the window of my Japanese teacher, in Bryan Texas. That’s what it is to me. I don’t know what it is to him. Maybe the masses of white cherry blossoms alongside a stream bed in Tokyo? For me, one of these is a tree – the other is ki. Now. Before I met my Japanese teacher they both were “trees.”

140221-flower-ASC_8082RLSssOutside of community (and that is the community within which you learned how to COMMUNicate without words) – without that, there is nobody to hear you. You are only a reflection of what they think you are. That is why divide and conquer works, even if it is as simple as changing the definitions of words between one generation and the next. Like Love, or war, or happiness, or emptiness, or the one that bugs me most “heart.” An essential bodily organ. Try to crack it open. It won’t crack. Cut it open and you die. Unless you are attached to a heart-lung machine at the time.

If anyone wants to talk to me about love and they want me to be listening (instead of wondering why the inside of their body is not sloshing all around with blood) they should not talk about hearts cracked wide open.

Something like about only about 60 years ago, I have been told, some English-speaking British Christian missionaries went to Tibet and translated the language into the same basic English words that you see today represented in the attempts of Americans and Tibetans to understand each other. Whatever the word is in Tibetan (or Sanskrit) I do not know, but I do not believe the religion of the Dalai Lama could conceivably be based in any concept so trivial as the American English meaning of the word “happiness.” And yet, that is how both Tibetans and Americans try to represent that essential Tibetan word in English.

The religion of the Dalai Lama is deep and penetrating and has meanings we cannot imagine. Like another word that has been (irrationally) translated as “emptiness.” I also blogged about this, quite recently. It is one of the most unifying concepts I have ever heard. The images it brings into my head are a combination of the “net of Indra,” which I think is originally neither Christian nor Buddhist, and the measurable facts of science, which are also neither of the above.

Emptiness, I say, is one of the most beautiful philosophical concepts I have ever encountered, but of course it is not real, and that’s not how anyone else describes it. Nobody else in the world could understand how I think of “emptiness,” (unless of course I am right in my interpretation), though possibly, perhaps, the Dalai Lama’s translator might, because I got the clue from something he wrote. But nobody else. Therefore, like spirituality and art, and love and compassion, emptiness cannot be explained because nobody is listening. They are too busy trying to explain it to me.

Human emotions are not real either, depending on your meaning of the word “real.” They are nothing more than electrical currents communicating among your cells. But we humans all do have the same sorts of electrical currents and the same sorts of cells so (unlike the words for them) we also have the same kinds of emotions and instincts.

Therefore we CAN (as do horses, cows and other communal animals) understand – within the herd – our emotions, but that does not mean emotions, thinking, belief systems, language, are “real” in the solid “thing” sense of the word – any more than words are real – no matter how real they feel. Even if it is a simple matter of changing the pictures that come into your head when a word is spoken, because the pictures in your head are also not “real.”

So it may be true that nobody knows what you are trying to say. Or maybe they DO know but you can’t understand their way of saying so, because fundamentally everyone does know how you feel.

The audio version of this blog can be downloaded at:

REFERENCES

Joseph Campbell
The Dalai Lama, The Middle Way

Bare Bones Biology 218 – Systems Evolution

Dear Friend —

Can you believe it? Here is a quote from a Taos (New Mexico) photographer, referring to the northern section of the Rio Grande river: “Watching visitors experience this sight is always entertaining. They seem to lose all sense of reality in the face of its grandeur.” Taos summer visitors guide 2014. This photographer, lives right in the middle of the grandeur, and he believes it to be – what? A movie prop?

But never mind our brainwashed young, today I absolutely planned to talk about my interaction with —let us call her Amanda—, but the following is what came out of my fingers when I sat down to type and three ideas came together in my inbox:

First – Your comment that most people cannot imagine a world without the energy of oil (see ref A below). This is true. And there are many other important things that most people can’t imagine. You can. That is why I picked your project to support, in my small way, out of the hundreds I have looked over in the past 15 years. —Amanda— can also imagine, though not yet as deeply, because she is much younger. So she is the other I support. I mean enough to stop what I’m doing and think about what y’all are doing. Of course, I have seen a number of other people with this kind of imagination, but without projects to which I could contribute usefully. Not unless they would ask the questions.

Second – I think the creation of a central dogma of imagination is one of the ways (maybe the major way) that our corposystem prevents discussion of critically important dissenting ideas (or any dissenting ideas, but now is critically important to our survival). It’s pretty much what “1984,” the book (B), is about. David, for example, used an elegant corposystem-imposed method very effectively to disempower discussion of biological reality.

I am not saying that David, or someone up there in the corposystem, is telling us not to talk or think about (something). Of course, they are to some extent, but more importantly I believe lock-step thinking is part of the biology of what maintains human systems, while outside-the-box thinking provides the variability necessary if change is to happen.

The Law of Life, generating novel systems by recombination, is how evolution brings about change, but once you get a viable combination of traits together in one system, and that system fills a niche it can feed upon, then that combination of traits is maintained essentially changeless until the system dies. To survive, the system must protect this unique combination of traits, so it does not change; rather, it becomes more and more of what it is. Whether the system be the longer and longer neck of a giraffe, or the growth fixation of the corposystem, the primary function of a system is to maintain itself.

I believe behaviors such as co-dependence are at root biological imperatives that serve similar social functions. Easier–to-recognize examples, such as the glass-half-full-syndrome

https://factfictionfancy.wordpress.com/2009/05/21/the-glass-half-full/
‎https://factfictionfancy.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=725&action=edit – post_name, https://factfictionfancy.wordpress.com/2013/11/07/
bare-bones-bio…a-quarter-full/,

and the nice-speak syndrome (https://factfictionfancy.wordpress.com/2013/06/25/bare-bones-bio…156-nice-speak/) (again, see “1984”), similarly protect human systems from outside ideas. Even ideas that would prevent massive human suffering but also would, inevitably, change the system. The corposystem is not only a business plan – it is an evolved biological system that operates just as evidently out of the Law of Evolution as do physical systems.

Third – I also believe there are physical reasons for our human disinclination to imagine or talk outside the model required by the system. Outside the box causes intrinsic biological pain to humans. http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20140514-how-extreme-isolation-warps-minds

In sum, the function of a system is to maintain itself, and that is also the simplest way to describe the Law of Evolution. I see it everywhere within our corposystem, equally as I see it in the tree of Life and the development of the whole universe. I think it is a natural law more basic than any other we have described so far.

So what do we do about this in a culture that defends itself by finding ways to not discuss the issues?

My answer is to speak as truthfully as possible (https://factfictionfancy.wordpress.com/2013/08/20/ factfictionfancy-130820/), trying to balance the long-term and short-term benefits to the individual, who is usually me; the culture, which is the corposystem; and the needs of the Biosystem, which we all require for our survival. At the same time I have usually tried to avoid being lynched (or crucified) for challenging the system at it’s weak links. The goal is to shake up the corposystem world view by challenging demonstrably false statements/world view (https://factfictionfancy.wordpress.com/2013/05/01/bare-bones-bio…3b-world-views/), so as to make it possible for people to think about the content rather than the package in which it is wrapped – to loosen a chink in our world views — while at the same time avoiding unnecessary unkindness and/or revolutionary violence, which is what will happen if the goal fails.

There is the very remote chance that humans can pull through this biological crisis because we have two unique advantages that no other species has ever had. 1) We can think, when we choose to do so. And (2) the information is available to us, whenever we decide to use it for the benefit of all sentient beings.

This is Bare Bones Biology, a production of FactFictionFancy.Wordpress.com and KEOS radio 89.1 in Bryan, Texas. The audio copy of this blog is available at:

I have nothing much to lose. So – that’s what I do. I have tried it both ways. To conform to the system merely empowers the system — without fundamentally changing it – because systems are flexible and can co-opt challenges, as ours has done with the charitable activities, to use the challenges to empower the system itself. Very clever. But I don’t want to empower our toxic system. As I have said from the beginning, my search is to find behaviors that will not make matters worse. And I believe that can be done only by not participating in it. That’s not possible, so one participates as little as is possible.

The greater good is compassionate honesty, with the goal in mind of reducing suffering of all sentient beings — not only us. And I think at least Tibetan Buddhism, at least the Dalai Lama, has made some fairly strong statements about wise compassion, and about education toward reality, that conform with this view. (Not the view about evolution, of course, I think he is unfortunately not well informed in this area, but about wise compassion. And he is clear that wise compassion requires education. And effort.) (D)

REFERENCES ‘
A) Kelly J. Ponte, PhD. “Retaining soil moisture in the American Southwest. Sunstone Press, Santa Fe NM. (p19) “Humans do not need oil to live. Oil makes our lives more convenient. Water makes our lives possible.” Let’s all try to imagine a world without water available to humans and how it is coming to be. The information is available and you can think.
B) George Orwell, “1984”
C) Links
https://factfictionfancy.wordpress.com/2013/08/20/factfictionfancy-130820/
https://factfictionfancy.wordpress.com/2009/05/21/the-glass-half-full/
https://factfictionfancy.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=725&action=edit – post_name
https://factfictionfancy.wordpress.com/2013/11/07/
bare-bones-bio…a-quarter-full/
and the nice-speak syndrome https://factfictionfancy.wordpress.com/2013/06/25/
D) – Bikkhu Bodhi, translator, “In the Buddha’s Words,” Wisdom Publications, Boston

Writing this blog has also moved a chink in my world view. I have been thinking in the back of my mind (corpo-think) that we could “move” the corposystem toward intelligent imagination by educating the masses to understand the implications of the Law of Life. Now I’m reading of the Buddha’s wisdom as translated by a Theravaden Buddhist, with a forward by The Tibetan Buddhist. Apparently, that was one of The Buddha’s insights – that we cannot educate the masses away from their world view (because of the many ways in which a social system protects itself from change, mentioned above but he didn’t know the Law of Life). He finally concluded that every person must address this responsibility for herself, and that seems to be most of what he talked about to householders. Well, looking at the imaginations of our recent generations of well educated young householders – and the fact that more children are born every year than we can possibly influence, and immediately indoctrinated into the corposystem world view – what do you think? That’s the problem with a system. It is more powerful than an individual, even if she is right.