Bare Bones Biology 322 – Wrong Answers – Politics

What Pres. Obama has done for us (or we could say what we did for ourselves by electing him) is to give us eight more years in which to deal with our biological problem and — though he stated clearly and at the first fairly frequently that he could not do what the public wanted without the backing of the public – nevertheless, when he needed support – what he got was a bunch of navel-gazing, whining children sucking at the teat of the corposystem (our corpo-political economic social system).


Just as happened after the Green Revolution. Abdication of responsibility by the people and for the people – but not by the President, who succeeded in holding back the tide of Hitlerism that is coming our way.  Why do I say it is coming our way? Because we are asking for it — dancing around our personal “maypoles,” spewing our wastes into the atmosphere and chanting: “There is nothing we can do, find someone else to do it for us.” (“So we may as well do nothing but dance and play and blame someone else, and pout because we can’t all have everything we want”).


And hundreds of similar excuses to do nothing — all corposystem approved – probably corposystem generated — each taking us closer to the tipping point of our biological problem.


Corposystem approved because: a) the excuse serves our level one system, ourselves – the individual humans who would rather dance than tend to our responsibilities to the future – and, b) it serves level two, the corposystem, by preventing others from generating a solution to the biological problem that is at the root of the disarray.


And what is The Problem? The corposystem itself, of course, is not sustainable. That means, sooner or later it will crash – not because IT WANTS TO CRASH. Far from it – The CS would rather grow forever richer — but because the people are too busy dancing to support or demand the changes that could convert the corposystem into a sustainable social system – beginning with enforced removal from all corporate charters of the “growth” requirement and continuing with provision of free international access to birth control (or the other way round). A sustainable system does not destroy the Biosystem that feeds it.


And those are only two of the things that we can do.


What will NOT work is to hire a President, require her to “fix” our problems, and then get “upset and disillusioned” because she can’t change the corposystem into a sustainable system at the same time that we the people continue to support the corposystem ethic of growth by domination to give us whatever we want.


Neither can we grow a sustainable social system by hiring a President who will reinforce the corposystem ethic of growth by domination for gain that is the cause of our biological problem in the first place.

But, you tell me: “The Problem is hopeless,” enabling its hopelessness by proclaiming its hopelessness, we undermine everything the President tries to do and we abdicate our responsibility — and in so doing we serve the wants of Level One (individual people) by enabling the victim status we prefer, and we serve the desires of level Two (growth by domination for riches) by NOT forcing it to change itself into a social system that is sustainable.


With the added perk that we can then blame the rich people when the problems get bigger.


The more we proclaim the hopelessness of The Problem – the more hopeless we cause it to be. And we can sit back and enjoy “Aint It Awful.” (Games People Play, Berne, 1996)


The next step in this predictable slide from grace is physical war, as we continue to choose the failed corposystem ethic (growth by domination for winning) over common sense and common courtesy. While we dance the dance of pretty fairy tales and blame someone else for the result.


And heaven forbid anyone would do anything that would make themselves or anyone else “feel uncomfortable”.


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Berne, Eric. 1996. Games People Play




Bare Bones Biology 165 – Power

OK, I have to talk fast today, and even so there is more on the blog page. In the last blog I got cranky, because nice speak doesn’t work in the face of factual problems, and people do need to understand what choices we are making as we each in our own way try to do what is best for ourselves, our communities, our countries and for Life itself.

The choices are difficult, but they are becoming more simple over time as the generations of humans have made bad decisions that leave us very few — in fact — one choice in this generation . Either we are committed to the survival of humans on this earth, or – we would rather do something else.

Life or death for humans depends upon the services provided by the Biosystem; therefore, if we want to work for the welfare of humans within the Biosystem, then we must ALSO work for the welfare of the Biosystem itself — as we know it. All of us. That’s not our choice. Just a basic fact. We can’t change the basic biological systems that function to maintain a balanced environment. If we want to support human life unto the seventh generation and beyond, then we must study these life support systems. And behave accordingly. If we were raised in the past 30 years or so, or if we assume without studying that we DO understand what the Biosystem needs, then our first obligation is to study, for example the old Curtis Biology textbook or an older Basic Biology text or minimally Bare Bones Ecology.

Either we learn what the Biosystem needs, and provide it, or we will fail to accomplish our chosen goal (aka mission) to support human life into the future. Either we study outside our personal and social world view — or we will be, unawares, working for the entrained goals of our culture of birth that is destroying our human participation within the Biosystem.

I suggest we also learn how to tell the difference between real facts and Corposystem propaganda or we will waste a lot of time being confused (

If we study wisely, t hen we can make wise choices that involve our own human behaviors. That’s a full-time job that can occupy anyone for a lifetime, and that too, as I see it, is oddly simple. It seems that most people in our culture understand one of two general life styles: 1) how to be a “winner” — or 2) how to get along without being a “winner.” One or the other, but not both. They are different skill sets. Winner power or loser power; war or peace; debate or discussion; male power or female power; powers of the strong or Powers of the Weak ( Whatever you want to call them. There seem to be two general approaches to obtaining our goals or pursuing our mission in life.

130810-Rodeo-ASC_5533RLSs copyThe powerful, dominant, macho people seem to believe that war (in it’s many manifestations, from passive-aggressive through competition, debate and physical combat) defines power. More usefully, I have observed that the powerful (dominant, macho) people usually do not understand any other form of power than the power of winning. That’s why they keep on losing, year after year, generation after generation, century after century, warriors ultimately lose their wars because they only understand one kind of power, and that is “winning.” So they can be relatively easily toppled by any number of other kinds of power.

Those people who actually achieve sustainable success of their goal (aka mission) are most often those who: a) study the facts, because basic facts don’t change; and b) who fit the solution to the challenge in such a way that the challengers don’t understand they are being manipulated (that’s easy, the only thing warriors seem to understand is winning) and don’t understand the goal/mission of the people who are manipulating them (also easy, because strong people generally only understand domination).

130811-Lumberton-ASC_5550RLSs copyAnd indeed right now we humans are losing our place in the body of Life on Earth because ALL the major players, good guys and bad guys, conform so resolutely to the macho Corposystem ethic that very few have time to research the problem factually and face the reality of our situation with an unshakeable commitment to our goal (aka mission) that is greater than our commitment to winning whatever we individually want to win. But anyone can work for the welfare of the Biosystem, any time, all the time. And make Life better, rather than worse for the privilege of being alive – if we are willing to really study what the Biosystem needs rather than what we think it should need.

Witness the T party that propounded so many really silly opinions that had nothing to do with real solutions — they could only make themselves foolish in the long run. They would have done better to analyze the problem than to expound their opinions without benefit of input. Because in the end they did more harm than good.

On the other side, many “progressive” activists today are in the very odd position of admiring the efforts of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Gandhi, whose efforts were NOT based in war but in resistance, while at the same time PROMOTING the methods of the Corposystem – which is all about war and winning at all levels from passive-aggressive, to competition to debate to active conflict. We don’t need “sides.” What we do need is well-informed communities that can discuss problems and reach rational conclusions.

How many scores or hundreds of times have I been told that I am “doing it wrong,” because I choose not to promote or collaborate with the modern Corposystem society whenever my participation would undermine the Biosystem. And yet, the only possible way that we can nurture the Biosystem is to NOT collude with the Corposystem methods of domination (war), but instead to resort to some combination of powers of the weak, beginning with a discussion of the problem and the parts of it that humans cannot change — because neither we nor the Corposystem can possibly dominate the Biosystem. The more we try, the more it will evolve to accommodate its own needs – not ours.

This is Bare Bones Biology, a production of and KEOS radio, 89.1 FM, Bryan, Texas. A podcast of this program is available at:

Communities and Evolution

Happy Days Folks,

This week I will refer you to a blog post from last year at about this time. It is even more relevant today.

Bare Bones Biology 088 – Evolution and Creation
KEOS FM 89.1, Bryan, Texas
Audio download is available at the below link.


Bare Bones Biology 109 – Communication

In the past two Bare Bones Biologies, that’s 107 and 108, we tackled one of the most complex of human topics, communication. There are people who specialize in this area, and I probably should consult such an expert, because I confuses me. We so seldom use communication to communicate our reality, and then we have to translate, or guess, what people mean by what they say, and I’m not a good guesser. I finally did figure out the reason people don’t listen to what I say – that’s one of my biggest complaints – is because they’re listening instead to what they would have meant if they had said it.

This is not necessary by the way. If we did understand each other it would eliminate a lot of confusion, and it would only require asking a few questions. But now I find a generation or two of people who are offended by questions, because they equate questioning their meaning with – “dissing” them. (To diss = to disrespect.)

I can understand this, because so many people in our culture are addicted to – or afraid of – power. So we often use words as we would money, or expertise, or machismo or whatever we have at hand to reinforce our own sense of dominance or of defence. The result is not very useful.

I remember a time when expertise was envisioned as useful, not because it gave us an individual edge in a world of fearful competition, but because our individual expertise, whatever it is, can be used to contribute to the welfare of the community. There still exist communities, and some new ones growing, in which each person within the community supports the efforts of the other (even if by support we mean pointing out the flaws so together we can grow a better effort).

Every effort has value, and the values among the many can be discussed. They have worth. None is perfect and none is expected to be perfect. But all together, if the information is made available for solving problems, the community is in a position to deal with the real problems as a group, and so the community has more power than the individual to build a better future for the whole.

Generally, in our culture, we tend to view these communities a primitive, but let’s face it, primitive peoples lived sustainably for thousands of years until we came along with the so-called advanced cultures that are not sustainable within the factual reality of the earth ecosystem. Loving the ecosystem will not change this fact. Neither will technology. Until the spiritualists and the technologists are willing to learn about limiting factors, our advanced human cultures are on a fast track to destruction. Because we do have responsibilities to the earth itself, and unless we know what they are, and fulfill them, well, then our spiritual and technological good intentions are, and I quote St Bernard of Clairveux: “the road to hell, paved with good intentions.”

In a society of competition, where everyone is afraid of everyone else, we cannot use our expertise compassionately to benefit the whole, because the whole is composed of other people, most of whom are more concerned with their own physical or emotional survival.

The result is useless and fruitless power struggles rather than a compassionate intention to address real problems. And in a society where people are hooked on feeling good, or aspiring to feel good, there can be very little compassion, because in a crisis situation, compassion most often does not feel good. Doing what’s best to benefit the whole, often does not feel good. But that is what compassion is – doing what is best for the long-term interests of the other and the whole.

When a solution to a problem is well documented in fact, then it is the responsibility of compassion to study these facts and use them to promote the overall welfare, that is the least suffering, of the whole. For that, we must learn to listen and to discuss. Without listening and discussion of the impact of the facts on all the levels of life, from the individual through the ecosystem, there can be no deep, sustainable, compassion.

Bare Bones Biology 108 – Communication
KEOS 89.1 FM
This program can be downloaded here
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Owl photo taken in New Mexico at
Discussion photo taken in California at the conference of:

Developing the Mind

I have developed my mind quite a lot (re. the video below) and I think it’s a good thing. My belief for a long time has been that the so-called “right brain” part of the mind contains the more basic inherited human characteristics. That means we can’t change them or lose them — they are built in to our bodies, and it’s better to use them well.

From what we know up to now, these basic qualities seem to be the emotional realities that have been so elegantly studied by Buddhism over the centuries, plus I think the stages of mourning and of meditation are inherent human qualities.

I learned long ago that any major culture shock requires at least (and about) a year to accomplish to the point of acceptance of the new reality, and I do believe that the stages of this accomplishment are those same stages that have been described for overcoming grief. The stages of grief (or other big change): Denial, bargaining (this is efforts at control), sorrow and grief, and finally acceptance.

The development of the “right brain,” that is discussed in the below post and elsewhere, I assume, means that there are ways to balance these inborn traits so that they serve us well, both at the individual level and at the population level of human reality.

Development of the “left-brain” traits – I’m more familiar with that. This aspect of our lives complements the “right” by making day-to-day sense of it until we grow it into our world view. Again, the survival value is that we are able to use and direct our experiences and learning to direct our behaviors toward greater good, both for the individual and for the community. Because there is a law of cause and effect in the universe to which we must adhere if we are to survive. The law of cause and effect is the root level of both evolution and sustainability.

Evolution and sustainability are intimately intertwined, so that any effort to generate a “shift” in our culture that is sustainable absolutely requires that we understand what (and why) certain behaviors are (or are not) culturally sustainable within life as it does function (not as we wish it functioned). We use our left-brain skills to understand how life does function so we can conform to its reality.

Remember, the left-brain skills are largely learned. If you are delving deep into the right brain to solve your problems, you are only using half your potential for good in the world of today. Because there is so much technology, if we want to generate love and compassion, it is essential that we learn to understand, on a left-brain level, what is likely to be the long term global result of our individual love and compassion (in action). Love is not enough.

We must understand how our love interacts with human need, for good or for ill. Or there can be no compassion, because compassion is the intersection of loving others and acting for the welfare of others.

Love is not enough. In fact, it’s the easy way out. We need to LEARN what the other requires, especially if the other does not have the same inborn instincts that we have, we must learn how it does function to be well and healthy. Otherwise, considering the level of human power on this earth today — our behaviors are likely to cause more harm than good.

Unfortunately we live in a culture that is stuck in denial and bargaining; rather than accepting reality, we are obsessive in our desire to control it. Humans can not control universal realities, but to the extent that the whole culture is based in denial of that reality — “everyone” is doing it, as a lifestyle, and so “no-one” can see that it is not reality. It feels normal.

It’s not normal for humans to stay stuck forever in denial of the reality of who we are and what we can’t have, combined with bargaining for the power to have it. That’s where we are today, and our power is enough to crash our culture and our ecosystem if we can’t see the reality of what the culture and the ecosystem need in order to be sustainable.

Left-brain skills are required. Right brain skills are also required. We will need our whole brain to grow out of the mess that we are in. Confining our development to one or the other and then working very hard, or very lovingly, to bring these to our culture. This behavior does not create love and compassion. It creates conflict, envy, competition, and deep, deep grief when we discover that our dreams were built on the sand of denial.

Bare Bones Biology 105 – Economics of Happiness II

Many of you watched the movie The Economics of Happiness that we showed in several venues locally. If you have not seen it, talk with Donna, she has a copy, or go to The Economics of Happiness web site (you should do that anyhow) and buy a copy for yourself that you can share with friends. Last week Bare Bones Biology aired the first part of an interview by Helena Norberg-Hodge, who produced that movie, and now you are about to hear the concluding part of her little interview, in which she gives us the Bare Bones version of a solution. I hope this energizes you, as it did me, to take advantage of her wisdom and experience, and fact check her suggestions and then participate in an effort to nonviolently dethrone the corposystem. Here is Helena:

“If we could just get the message out: wait a minute, we don’t need to continue deregulating. In order to produce food and feed people and to produce the building materials, and to produce all the needs that people have, we do not need to embark on continuing to deregulate, or globalize, economic activity. If we can get that message out, so that the call is from the occupy movement, the call is halt that deregulation. This is more strategic than focusing on finance reform or on personhood, because the action, where these companies have gained so much power, has been in these international trade agreements. That’s where they’ve been able to pressure governments to give them more power. They say: If you don’t give me lower labor prices, if you don’t give me lower regulations, I’ll go elsewhere. That mechanism has ended up ratcheting down everything we care about.

“That mechanism is how it is that governments are in debt to banks. And credit agencies are telling whole banks: Sorry, you can’t afford to look after your people, you must instead pay us a whole bunch of money. It’s a mad situation, and I really believe if we can understand the structural difference between globalizing and localizing, we will be creating an interlinked, global movement linking environmentalists with all those people concerned with unemployment and poverty, and then we’ll have a real powerful movement for change.”

I wish I could name for you the impressive list of people who spoke at The Economics of Happiness conference, that included for example Joanna Macey, Manish Jain, Carol Black, and so many others of equal caliber. In the cross disciplinary group were speakers on the subjects of: breaking down the old economy, from global to local, small scale to large scale, envisioning an economics of happiness, and local futures. And there were workshops around each subject. You know what I found the most exciting – nothing was finished and settled. There’s room for new ideas and new approaches to strengthen the mix, and I left just itching to tweak the educational ideas that were presented.

Mandana Shiva and Bill McKibben were present by video and one of those internet communication processes. The entertainment was – have you ever heard Scoop Lisker describe the evolution of life on earth? And a stunning final improvisational performance by Nina Wise. All in all, one of the best conferences I’ve ever attended.

Next week, I will bring you the keynote speaker, Richard Heinberg, from my other favorite web site, the Post-Carbon Institute, who gave an interview just for us.

That’s the end of the transcript. If any of you want a podcast of the complete interview without my commentary, I can make one for you.

Listening again to Helena Norberg-Hodge reminded me of the words of Arundhati Roy:
“The corporate revolution will collapse if we refuse to buy what they are selling – their ideas, their version of history, their wars, their weapons, their notion of inevitability. Remember this: We be many and they be few. They need us more than we need them.”

And then there is my view that arises out of my professional understanding of how the ecosystem functions to stay alive. The corporate revolution will collapse ANYWAY, because the corposystem is trying to harvest more food energy from the earth than the earth has to give (this is not sustainable), and in the process is killing off millions of different species whose function in living is to maintain the health of the living ecosystem (thus reducing resilience of the system). So, the corposystem is killing itself.

Our job is to reduce the suffering this causes – and more importantly, our job is to remove the root cause of the suffering, which is growth beyond the capacity of the ecosystem to support One cause of growth is described by Helena Norberg-Hodge above. That is deregulation. (I call it decriminalizion of the corposystem crimes against the ecosystem). And to find a way to infuse our technologies with wisdom so we can do this with compassion. The other major growth problem is in our human populations (that is all of us, not only some other place). I strongly suggest that you watch the movie Mother the Film, that describes this difficult reality in a kind and compassionate context.

There is a time when all opinions cause pain, and that is the time to stop drawing our lines in the sand and get together to find a way to reduce the overall pain – individual suffering, populational suffering, and suffering of the living ecosystem. As HH The Dalai Lama said: “Human use, population, and technology have reached that certain stage where mother Earth no longer accepts our presence with silence.”
(per Upaya newsletter)

Unnecessary suffering is foolish, and usually causes more harm than good.

Bare Bones Biology 105 – Economics of Happiness II
KEOS 89.1 FM, Bryan, Texas
An audio copy of the “transcript” portion of this
blog can be obtained at

Trackback and recommended references:

For the first part of Helena Norberg-Hodge’s interview see Bare Bones Biology 104:

Arundhati Roy. I strongly recommend her (March 22) interview on Democracy Now

Collapse by Jared Diamond
Or you can get Collapse as an audio book


Bare Bones Biology 098-Climate Change-What Can We Do?

The ecosystem is not a democracy. Neither is it a matter of opinion, nor can we match its power. Not in our wildest dreams. The ecosystem – whatever it is – it is a factual reality. Just look at the veins in your hand. Then look out the window. Then remember where your food, water and air are created – no, not in the supermarket – the ecosystem. It’s a fact that the ecosystem is constantly changing in response to its interactions among all the factors that make up its existence. My critics and their grandchildren will not be at all happy about our choice to continue destroying the climate that the ecosystem created, that has been our cornucopia of life.

So to round out this series on climate change, I want to play some quotes. Here is a short one from an activist at the climate talks that recently took place in Durban, South Africa. Amy Goodman is interviewing Kumi Naidoo on Democracy Now (the only good coverage of the talks that I know about, see dates 12/05/2011 and 12/06/2011 as part of the series).

“the problem is that the level of ambition and the level of urgency in these talks do not match what the science is telling us to do.” He means the science tells us the problem is urgent.

Climate change is just as real as overpopulation, and if you know a few facts (facts are realities that aren’t about people and people can’t change them, like gravity for example) if you know a few facts, then climate change will be as common-sense as my story about overpopulation. The one about putting a cow and a bull in a pasture with plenty of water, and never feeding them any hay and see if they eventually have a population problem. Or a resource problem, which is nearly the same thing. Common sense.

“The greatest challenge for Burma and the countries of the Arab Spring, as well as all peoples who hope to enjoy the flowers and fruits of their endeavors in 2012, will be to bring wisdom to bear on passion and power, and to create a blend of the two that is both effective and wholesome.” Aung San Suu Kyi

This is Harvard Professor E. O. Wilson on Earth/Sky

“Biology is going to be crucial also in feeding the world. We’re about to run out of water, and we’re running low on arable land. And we’re just now reaching 7 billion people on earth, and we’re not going to slow down or peak until somewhere in the vicinity of 10 billion, the most recent projections indicate. We don’t have enough water in enough countries to feed all those people and to restore soil to arable condition. And then there comes the matter of saving the rest of life, which is a major concern of mine. We’ll have to do a better job of exploring the natural world and figuring out how to carry it through what I like to call the bottleneck of the 21st century, when we go through the population crunch and use every bit of information – science based — that we can get, to make that journey through with the least amount of damage to the world.”

So what can we do to help? Number one, find a way to provide birth control for every person who wants it on earth. Number two, work to provide a reasonable standard of living for those who are living. This will require dethroning the corposystem and the growth ethic in favor of a sustainable economic system. Number three, join together with other countries of the world and let them help us do these things. How do we do those things? In any way we can, so long as what we do does not cause more long-term harm than help. That’s practical, self-serving compassion.

Bare Bones Biology 098 – Climate Change-What Can We Do?
KEOS FM 89.1, Bryan, Texas
Audio download available later this week
here and at

Trackbacks and Recommended References:
Bare Bones Biology Ecology Handbook downloadable on lower right of this blog.