Bare Bones Biology 086 – What can we Do?

But then you keep asking, “What can we do?” And I keep telling you what not to do. That must be very frustrating, but how else can you be on your guard? You don’t want to waste your time, any more than I do. All humans want to contribute.

So, don’t let yourself get hooked into fake debates or any of the other corposystem games that I referred to in previous Fact Fiction Fancy podcasts. There isn’t any right answer to the games the corposystem puts up for us, whether it’s fake debates or aintitawful hand-wringing, or blame-placing something that has already happened and can’t be changed.

If I had my choice between blaming someone and fixing whatever the problem is, usually I’d rather fix, but that’s not the choice the corposystem models on their television. It’s always heads you lose or tails I win. Or some displacement activity. A displacement activity is something we do because we can’t imagine what we truly need to do. Like a tiger pacing in his cage because he can’t imagine how to get out of it. Like activists who get themselves involved with projects that are an expression of their beautiful human compassion, but their actions really make the problem worse, because they don’t understand what the ecosystem needs to be healthy.

So what can we do?

“What can we do to change how our life is now?”

That’s the real problem, isn’t it? We can not change how our life is now, because what it is now was caused by our actions in the past, and our ancestors’ actions too, and we cannot change the history. We can lie about it, but words aren’t real things, and we cannot change what real things were done. It’s the basic problem of the immutable law of cause and effect. We cannot change how our life is now because we can not go back in time.

So our real choices now are: to do something that will make the future better – or do something that will make the future worse – or not do anything. It’s easier to not do anything – nothing different from what we already are doing – but that’s how we got into this mess in the first place, isn’t it? I remember the time of the Green Revolution, what we did – what the Green Revolution did — instead of doing something that would make things better, we simply did the same thing we did before, we found just one more little technological scheme that would take us just a few more years before the shit hit the fan. Again. So, that’s what we humans have been doing, over and over again, throughout our past history. We have been challenging and overcoming “limiting factors” (that I discussed in BBB 035)

That’s why so many people believe that technologies can conquer the laws of nature. I’m sorry folks, but there are only so many limiting factors, and biologically and technologically we have hit the wall. We have hit the final limit to how many people this earth can feed without destroying itself or its ability to feed us. So doing nothing different is easy – but it’s not really that much fun, is it, or we wouldn’t have so many things to complain about. Doing something that will make the world worse in the future than it is now?

I don’t believe any of my listeners want to do that. Many people are doing it, but I don’t think it’s really what they want to do.

THE GREATEST GIFT that that we could give — we of this generation – would be to make the changes in our behaviors and our politics that will give the earth what it needs to stay healthy, so that our future generations can also stay healthy.

Bare Bones Biology 086 – What can we Do?
KEOS FM 89.1, Bryan, Texas
Audio download available later this week
here and at


de·moc·ra·cy n

“the control of an organization by its members, who have a free and equal right to participate in decision-making processes.” (Encarta® World English Dictionary © 1999 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. Developed for Microsoft by Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.)

If Mr. Flores would ask me to help prevent someone (anyone) from expressing his point of view in a “democratic” meeting, I would wonder what Mr. Flores was trying to hide. If Mr. Flores then pointed out several times that the police were there to keep order — and he posted a couple of bouncers near the person who wanted to speak (you can see their bottom halves in the second photo) – I would make a big effort to find out why Mr. Flores didn’t want this person to express his opinion. Knowledgeable honorable people who are looking for solutions to real problems – such people are not afraid of ideas.

What is a Town Hall Meeting?

“A town hall meeting is an informal public meeting which gives the members of a community an opportunity to get together to discuss emerging issues and to voice concerns and preferences for their community.”

Mr. Flores meeting, of course, was not a Town Hall Meeting. When a person talks for a couple of hours without discussing, that is not a town hall meeting.

“dis·cus·sion n
Talk or a talk between two or more people about a subject.”

When we the people go to a town hall meeting, we expect a discussion. What can we do in a supposedly democracy in a fake town hall meeting when we are not permitted to have a real discussion?

According to a recent publication of the TEA party: “I understand that the local and Brazos Progressives will be out in force preaching more class warfare.” It sounds to me like the TEA party leadership also does not want a discussion.

I can’t speak for the MoveOn Leadership in DC, because I walked out on about their fourth sentence, because up to then nearly every sentence contained the word “fight” two or three times. Well, yes – if you want to end up in a fight, then you should fight. However, fighting will only make our problems worse.

We have very serious problems that are out of control, and the only way to control them is to deal with their causes. Beating up on someone else (passive-aggressive or overt aggressive) never solved any real problem over the long term. Beating up on other people only makes more enemies. I think Jesus and Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. and the Buddha all agree on this point, and I believe they have accomplished more that is worth accomplishing than almost anyone else I know about. Winning doesn’t solve problems. It’s fun, but it only makes more enemies. If we really want to solve problems more than we want to have fun – well, our behavior labels us. Clearly we don’t.

And anyway, there is no way to win ourselves out of this particular problem in which we find ourselves. There is no way to solve it with fake town hall meetings that concentrate on economics in a fake democracy that does everything in it’s power to prevent us from understanding really what our problem is. So that we could actually get together and solve it. So, the meeting was all about economics, but – I’m not an economist, so here is the definition of economics.

“ec·o·nom·ics n
1. the study of the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services (takes a singular verb)”

So – economics studies the relationship between supply and demand. Nobody talked about that in the town hall meeting, even though the root cause of our very big problem is the relationship between supply (from this good green earth) of everything we need to stay alive — and demand (by humans).

The real problem is that we are running low on supply and our so-called economics is trying to solve that problem by selling more stuff. And borrowing money. Neither of which will solve the problem of a limited supply. Does it make sense to try to produce more when there are fewer resources? Not even to an economist, but if we only had those two choices in a condition of low supply – well, I wouldn’t do either of those solutions, I would tell the people what is the real root problem and ask them to help solve it. But as that solution seems not to be on the table, surely borrowing money can’t be nearly as toxic as trying to make more stuff when we are running a bit low on resources.

Even I know that outflows are only one side of the economics problem. And inflows do not come from people. They come from the green mother earth. If we want to try to fix our very big problem we can’t do it by focusing only on the outflows. We will have to think, talk and share ideas about the inflows, where they come from, and how we plan to get enough without destroying the green mother earth that produces them.

God made the world as he made it. God did not make supermarkets. He made the earth to be fruitful with carrots and potatoes and corn and wheat and apples. He did not make economics. He told us to be honest and kind and compassionate. He did not suggest that we use trickery and chicanery to get what we want by causing harm to others.

I say to MoveOn and the progressives and the TEA party that you are all fighting over ephemera, and if you don’t start looking for real, factual information about how God did make this world to operate – then you will all lose. And so will I.

I say to MoveOn and the Progressives and the TEA party, and especially Mr. Flores, you are all wrong when you fight over some “democracy” that is dead and gone and never was like you say it was. You should be working together to learn the real facts about how this good green earth nurtures and feeds us – learn where our real supplies really come from and how — so that you all can help to build a more bountiful life style for the future. Instead of just having a fun game of king of the hill.

If Mr. Flores were to ask me to help make sure that someone doesn’t have a chance to talk – that his ideas should not be heard, I would wonder what Mr. Flores is trying to hide. Here’s my first guess. I guess he’s afraid we folks in the audience will figure out how much he does NOT know about our world and our country and even our economy. And how much he does NOT know about what is needed to make our country honorable and fruitful once again.

So I think it would be better to ask. That guy who didn’t get to talk might have had a good idea.

Nothing is what it seems.

and everything is what it is (Yogi Berra).

That was NOT a town hall meeting.

People get to talk to each other in town hall meetings. That was a really, really, really long lecture.

Oh well, this blog started out as a study of different kinds of power.

Simple Math

Tell me if I’m wrong, but here is how it seems to me. Speaking of Religion.

All the one-God religions (I know nothing about the multi-God religions) the one-God religions all give us the hook of immortality if we will nurture our positive human values. And they threaten us with various punishments if we honor our more disagreeable human values.

Buddhism too.

The corpotechnosystem, on the other hand, offers us immortality if we will buy their stuff, including their “I win/you lose” ethic that serves their need to grow-grow-grow until everyone is fighting over the available resources.

Given the probabilities, you are not likely to win in spite of the most humongous lie of all.* So which sounds more like fun and the most useful ethic? Spending one’s whole life trying to not be a loser, and probably failing or at least feeling like a failure? Or spending one’s life working together with others to build a more humane culture? In case you are the rare person who doesn’t care about immortality, the math is the same, because the rewards and punishments are built in to each of these ethics, in this life, or that of your grandchildren. Oh. Maybe that is immortality? 🙂
*”Everyone is or can be a winner.” Good grief, even three-year-olds know better than that. In a win lose/culture NOBODY can be a winner unless a bunch of other people are losing. Bad odds.

Power Politics

This blog started out to discuss power — especially personal power and the many things I learned about personal power in my years of becoming a successful woman scientist.  I’m still talking about the power to accomplish long-term goals  !


Our book has been published and it is indeed a beautiful book, and that’s not even mentioning the important and well balanced content.  Or the number of disparate people who all had to do a great job together to accomplish the goal.

“The Colors of Mice”

But that is not what I want to say today.

What I want to say today is that nobody accomplishes any kind of significant goal without help, and if you aren’t bigger than everyone else on the playing field, then you must talk with everyone else on the playing field.  And only one person is bigger than everyone else on the playing field.

I would claim, and have often claimed, that “winners” never win anything long term.  Winners are the biggest jerks on the playing field because they only care about winning, not about the long-term goals that are good for all or most of the people.  The odd thing is that they also always believe they are aspiring to long-term positive goals.  I mean unless they are really just brutal dictators or something, and hardly anyone is that.  But the bottom line is that “winners” hurt so many people in the process of winning, and there are so many losers who know so much about the “Powers of the Weak” (they have read Janeway on the subject) that the losers go underground and talk to all the people and blossom out 20 years later to defeat the original winner.

It always happens.  Right now it’s taking the form of blame-placing.  We are having the biggest and most illogical blame-placing orgy in history (or at least it seems like it, I wasn’t here forever).  But it won’t do us any good.  I’ll tell you why tomorrow, but the bottom line is nobody ever won a long-term goal by blame-placing, either.  The only major result of that is to attribute to your enemy bigger powers than he actually has.

The bottom line is that the person with the most power to accomplish long-term goals is the one who is willing to talk to (preferably listen to) all the other people, and discuss the issues.  Everyone’s issues.

We All Need the Same Thing

Open Letter to Chet Edwards,

When people care about their own personal desire to win, more than they care about anyone else — often they try to get everyone arguing about something ELSE, and when nobody is looking at the REAL issue, they grab it.

090810_dsc2697sIf we fall for this scam — everyone loses because the important discussion about the difficult problem is never held. Up to now the ONLY things I have heard were answers to people who are screaming about things that are not relevant to the problem of the long-term welfare of the United States of America.

The bottom line is:

These people who make up things to fight about could very well tear this country apart, so I hope you do not “wait to hear what they say” before you decide how to vote. You have gotten lots of money and other perks for your good old boys, without regard to what is best for the whole country.

This time, the need of our country is more important than your good old boys, and frankly I don’t understand their logic, because if the country goes down the tubes they will go with it. I also don’t understand all this fighting, because everyone NEEDS the same thing if they are to get what they WANT, and that thing is a vibrant USA. That is the issue, and we should be discussing it among ourselves.

So I hope you have the guts to do what is best for the country without regard for whatever nonsense the idiots come up with to distract us from our most important goal.

College Station TEA Party

090415tea_dsc0391sThere was a TEA party at Veteran’s Park in College Station, Texas. I arrived about half an hour late, which was just when they were beginning, and left a couple of hours later. The crowd filled the venue. I don’t know how many that is, maybe about 300. People came and went. I heard speeches by a world war II veteran who talked about what it was like when he (and I) were growing up [God, abortion (he evidently doesn’t remember that part), marriage (required for women) and the right to bear arms, which prevented the Japanese from attacking us]. He also suggested they handled their depression better, and it was a better depression, with 25% unemployed, and we handled that fine. He and I both regret that the culture in which honor was one of the highest values, that is the culture he and I grew up in during and immediately following WWII has been lost to us.

Then we had a to-the-point talk from Rob Curnock, who “almost beat” Chet Edwards in the last election. Mr. Curnock suggested that Chet Edwards is a celebrity puppet of Nancy Pelosi. The most commonly used pejorative term that I heard was – “Nancy Pelosi.” He also said: “We are in the majority,” but I’m not sure which “we” he was referring to. There was not one person of color in the crowd, and it seems like there must be some colorful Republicans in this community. There were many happy, polite and well behaved children under high school age, their parents and grandparents, and a large group of boy scouts. Very few other young working men or women. Another speaker came on board and began by telling us of his service in a muslim country, which makes his qualifications with regard to muslims greater than those of Obama (didn’t Obama grow up in a Muslim country??). So it was pretty boring. No new thoughts or ideas. So I left.

090415tea_dsc0388sThe bottom line, it seems like what they want is things to be like they were 30 years ago. They don’t like Nancy Pelosi or her relationship with Chet Edwards or the bailout bill. They didn’t say what they do like except the freedom to express their opinions and the right to bear arms.

Guest Writer, Sociology Prof.

Around here, there are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of folks who, in good faith, and perhaps in honest naïvité, are doing all they can to safeguard the environment by buying electric cars and actively lobbying governments to pass legislation as well as actively trying to persuade car makers to make more fuel efficient cars. Also to equip their roofs at home with solar panels, etc. To advocate for wind generated electricity as well as by the action of ocean waves. And so it goes, on and on with good intentions. A lawyer and long time member of ACLU-SC is a strong advocate of legislation that allows corporations to do “carbon-trading,” that is to go ahead and continue their polluting operations by purchasing the unused rights of others to discharge a certain amount of pollutants into the environment.

All of that reminds of Albert Schweitzer on Naïvité:
“There are two kinds of naivité: one which is not yet aware of all the problems and has not yet knocked at all the doors of knowledge; and another, a higher kind, which is the result of philosophy having looked into all problems, having sought counsel in all the spheres of knowledge, and then having come to see that we cannot explain anything but have to follow convictions whose inherent value appeals to us in an irresistible way. (Christianity and the Religions of the World, p. 71f.)”

While some ordinary folks gamely try to do a little clean up, they seem totally unaware of the fact that there are both government and corporate giants who, seemingly unbeknownst to ordinary folks, massively obviate the miniscule results of painful conservation efforts by ordinary folks.

It appears to me that maybe, just maybe, the additive sum of all globally distributed do-it-yourself do-gooder efforts to save the earth by reducing their own personal carbon-foot print, put together, and multiplied ten fold, still are merely a puny sum in comparison to what powerful corporations and governments can do in a single day.

Take for example, as only just one example, what the government of Iceland and Alcoa corporation have been doing.

ALCOA is on track to build a massive heat-generating smelter on top of the polar ice cap ! ! !

It is undoubtedly a good idea to worry about our carbon foot print and to attempt to reduce that.

However, is that not simply a distraction from the profoundly serious effects of using massive amounts of electricity generated by perfectly green, non-carbon, means as the source of energy to power-up a massive heat generator that melts the polar ice cap, which raises ocean levels, floods major parts of the earth (Los Angeles included), and alters forever the nature of life on earth?

I have yet to meet a “green activist” who grasps the seriousness of what ALCOA and others are doing in perfect compliance with carbon-trading (the palliative that governments have ingeniously thrown at green activists). Even more distracted are Icelanders, who, with even more profound innocence, are concerned about the loss of beautiful vistas; not about the destruction of space-ship earth.

Check it out:

The Power of the Right Word

While most scientists struggle to find words that mean exactly what they want to say (and that’s not easy), we still have politicians struggling to find words that do not say what they mean.

I guess political people think they gain some kind of power by being deceptive? Or maybe it’s the difference between short-term power and “maybe we should think what we want written on our tombstone” kind of power.

When I’m trying to explain a scientific topic, I do not use metaphores. The minute you use a metaphor to explain anything, you are not talking science any more, because science is about facts. Yes, that is limiting, but the reality is that science is limited — limited to facts. Yes I know all the freshman biology textbooks thrive on metaphor, cutsey cartoons of objects unrelated to the topic under discussion, and ANYTHING to make us think it’s all a game. I know this because I remember when freshman science texts were about science; I have one yet on my bookshelf. I know it is possible to write about science, and be understood the better for it, without using metaphores — but of course not if the book is edited by people trained in the liberal arts, where metaphor is a valid tool of expression. Valid for their purposes.

I think it’s time we used our tools to aximum advantage.

Science is about facts — not about emotions or metaphores.
Facts and opinions are two different things.

When we get that sorted out in our minds, we will have the mental tools to solve most of our problems, without inventing words that don’t mean what we are saying to convince people that we aren’t doing what we are doing.

09021520sunrise_dsc8918sOf course we all know that all these biological problems are related to each other, just as every element of the ecosystem is related to every other in a network of interacting systems.  One of my goals is to connect the dots.  Yes indeed the understanding of evolution is important to the understanding of energy, gobal warming, and the importance of green plants.  ASAP I have some things to say about green plants, if I can cut myself free of this political game playing.