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General DiscussionsCrazy Winter weather on the East Coast

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Charles Haacker
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Re: Crazy Winter weather on the East Coast

Post by Charles Haacker » Sun Jan 07, 2018 1:32 am

PietFrancke wrote:
Sat Jan 06, 2018 9:55 pm
Chuck, I think you are right about this all being an issue of morality. Whether individually, but also it must especially be there in our leadership. Technology can solve all our problems, but we have to figure out what we want. For example, do we double our world population again? Ultimately it is a matter of income redistribution, who gets what for doing what... One tiny bit of technology called bitcoin produced perhaps 200 Billionaires. Who has What and Why they have that What is changing...
Duck wrote:
Sat Jan 06, 2018 10:11 pm
I see the problems we face as collective. Individually we can not make any kind of significant dent in our situation. It's a bandaid on a severed limb. For example, what's a better solution; recycling those cheap grocery plastic bags that are polluting our oceans or just don't manufacture them any more? After all, there are so many better solutions already available, from compostable paper to reusable cloth bags. Common sense says one thing but corporate and economic politics and greed say another. My decision to "Go Green" does not change the fact that millions of plastic bags are still polluting our waters.
Piet wrote:...exactly right.. We (humans) are an eating machine that knows no bounds. Our number one goal individually or collectively is to collect and consume. We compete to gather it all up. If our goal does not change, then we will simply be parasites that eat the host until there is no host left to eat. We can be whatever we wish - I am fearful that we only wish to eat, eat, eat.

We have to figure out a way to reward a more proper behavior...
I went looking for the below because I knew I'd read it someplace:
It is common for animals (even those like hummingbirds that have high energy needs) to forage for food until satiated, and then spend most of their time doing nothing, or at least nothing in particular. They seek to "satisfice" their needs rather than obtaining an optimal diet or habitat. Even diurnal animals, which have a limited amount of daylight in which to accomplish their tasks, follow this pattern. Social activity comes in a distant third to eating and resting for foraging animals. When more time must be spent foraging, animals are more likely to sacrifice time spent on aggressive behavior than time spent resting. Extremely efficient predators have more free time and thus often appear more lazy than relatively inept predators that have little free time. Beetles likewise seem to forage lazily due to a lack of foraging competitors.
Joan M. Herbers (1981), Time Resources and Laziness in Animals, 49 (2), Oecologia, pp. 252–262

All living things grow and reproduce. To grow they must obtain nutrients. That's pretty much it. Joan Herbers study suggests that animals are lazy unless hungry. Humans are animals, therefore humans are lazy. We don't wanna work hard. If our bellies are full and we are comfy we are content to lie in the shade watching the prey at the watering hole. The prey are content as long as we are. When we get hungry we will chase something down and kill it. Maybe the problem is that we aren't "hungry" enough yet. We are happy with the lifestyle we have, that we are accustomed to, and we don't want change. When the rare leader tries to tell us we must deal with challenges now to head off worse in the future s/he is shouted down, especially by leaders who tell us what we prefer to hear: All is well, nothing to see here, keep calm and carry on. These green goofies are just trying to scare you. Fear not! We have the solution! Do nothing! IT IS ALL FAKE NEWS!! (See what I did there?)

The point I'm trying to make is that most of us, given a choice between paper and plastic, choose plastic. Easy! Convenient! Disposable cup? Easier than carrying a thermal cup everywhere. For most of 200,000 years we have been most interested in what made life easier and more convenient. I studied anthropology. We talked about wasteful hunting practices of early humans. They'd run a whole herd over a cliff, go down and butcher what they needed and let the rest rot. There is evidence that such waste may ultimately have led to mass local extinctions. We don't know for sure why, for example, there are no native North American camels or rhinos anymore, but there were, and one suspicion is that us silly, lazy humans ran enough of them over cliffs to reduce their populations to unsustainable levels so they went extinct. Nobody has ever seen any other apex predator adopting hunting practices that utterly extinct their own prey. I mean, why would they? That'd be dumb! There were no North American horses until the Spanish explorers brought them in, but there had been, as recently as ~12,000 years ago, well within the range of the Clovis people. But by the time the conquistadores arrived the natives had zero idea what a horse was, but also (curiously?) the natives proved to be literally born, natural riders. Hunh. Did the Clovis hunters systematically extinct the horse population? We don't know, but we have incontrovertible physical evidence that they successfully hunted horses, and about 12,000-ish years ago, whoops, no more horses. hmmm.

But racing up to modern times (last 500 years or so) Native American, native cultures in general seem to develop a kind of circular thinking, often called medicine wheel thinking, as opposed to western linear thinking. The fundamental principle is that all life is connected, the "circle of life" like the Lion King. The field of anthro has changed a lot since my day, but I've been hearing that some modern thinkers wonder if, for example, the natives of Contact had over great swaths of time changed their own thinking as a result of ruminating on the screwups in their own pasts. Go to any museum and listen when the docent discusses Indians and bison: what is the first, last, and always thing that is emphasized? "The natives used absolutely every single part of a buffalo; nothing [nothing!] was ever wasted!"

Are we talking about the same people that would stampede a whole herd over a cliff and waste what they couldn't butcher?

Maybe when the ancestors sat around the fires and lamented the loss of the horses and the camels and the rhinos, even the mastodons (although the evidence for a human element in mastodon extinction is sketchy), maybe they woke up and said to themselves, jeepers, we better be careful or we won't have anything to eat. Maybe we should consider a more frugal approach? Maybe we should regard the animal that dies to give us life as sacred and therefore too valuable to waste even, say, the hooves that make good glue and stuff?

It's just a thought, not well formed or well informed (too many years away from the classroom), but I am always struck by, "They used every part of the animal. Nothing was wasted."

We, especially in the West, are all about waste. We are appallingly wasteful of everything, especially resources, especially non-renewables. We stampede the herd over the cliff, butcher some, and leave the rest to rot. Got oil? Drill baby drill. Are we over Hubbert's Peak yet? Oh, there's more where that came from; the bleeding-heart snowflakes are just trying to scare ya. Pollution? Science will save us! (And THERE's a supreme irony for ya!) We will listen to the leader who assures us that we are just fine, we don't need to do anything, we can continue as we are, as we are, as we are, as w ....

I think what it may take to get Duck's collective going will be to have to deal with the challenges that will come when "there are no more buffalo." Humans do our best work during wartime. When Florida is totally flooded, when the Midwest cannot grow grain, when the Kalahari and Sahara turn green (they both once were, you know), when all the great ports are underwater and we have to roll our sleeves up and come out from under the shade trees, we will. I also strongly suspect there may be a lot fewer of us, and for those who lose loved ones it will be beyond painful, but unless we get smacked with an asteroid or the sun blows or the crazy fat kid and the dotard decide to really find out whose button is bigger I think we will survive and adapt. Current thinking is that there was a very near extinction of humanity some ~150,000 years ago, driving the survivors into small bands, but the operative word is survivors. Y'all know I am a card-carrying curmudgeon not especially given to optimism, but I think that so long as there is a breeding population humanity will survive, adapt, and eventually thrive. But the best hope is that those gathering around the fires will remember how close we came and never do that particular dumb thing again.

(He gets very philosophical when he's sick.) (I know.) (And wordy.) (I know.)
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Post by Duck » Sun Jan 07, 2018 4:51 am

This is what I think we are as humans... Yeah, not a happy thought but it makes sense based on human behavior.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IM1-DQ2Wo_w
"If you didn't learn something new today, you wasted a day."
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Post by St3v3M » Sun Jan 07, 2018 4:53 am

Duck wrote:
Sun Jan 07, 2018 4:51 am
This is what I think we are as humans... Yeah, not a happy thought but it makes sense based on human behavior.
I asked my biology teacher about this way back as we fit all the criteria. So much sadness, so much joy! S-
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Post by minniev » Sun Jan 07, 2018 2:48 pm

Duck wrote:
Sun Jan 07, 2018 4:51 am
This is what I think we are as humans... Yeah, not a happy thought but it makes sense based on human behavior.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IM1-DQ2Wo_w
My son insisted we were a virus long before Matrix came out. He thinks climate warming is the earth's fever, which will eventually burn off the offending organisms and let her get herself cleaned up and functioning properly again. We are like a bad case of flu, destructive parasitic organisms that mindlessly destroy their necessary host.
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Post by Charles Haacker » Sun Jan 07, 2018 7:39 pm

Hunh. Never saw The Matrix. That's bleak, even for me. I can't completely disagree. We are APEX-apex predators, supremely aggressive, supremely adaptable, supremely careless because "there's always more where that came from." We slaughter and rape and pillage and move on leaving nothing but smoking ruin and death (for the planet and everything on it) in our wake. So do viruses.

What makes me think there is hope for us is that we are not, in fact, viruses. Viruses can't even be classified as living. Bacteria (many that are as much or more lethal) are at least cellular organisms. A virus is just DNA or RNA, unable even to replicate unless inside a living cell. Neither viruses nor bacteria can or even would give a thought to the destruction in their wake (because thinking?)... But we can, and we do.

The mere fact that we, and millions of other humans are even discussing this is proof to me that we do not behave exactly as viruses. Humans are capable of cruelty so insanely destructive it surpasses any understanding, but we are also capable of celestial love and compassion and selflessness. Viruses are neither cruel nor compassionate because they are capable of neither. Viruses have only one driver: to replicate. Viruses have no evil; humans do. Viruses also have no good; humans do.

Sometimes we behave with breathtakingly selfish stupidity, but we know we do. I am as cynical a cuss as ever walked, and absolutely agree that we have and continue to behave atrociously, in a manner similar to viruses, invasive, cruel killers, but when we humans do it it is conscious, and because we have consciousness, self awareness, we can and do recognize the "evil that men do," and we can at least try to mitigate it. Duck, you remarked that the individual human can do little, which is true, but most of the damage done by humans is not done by individuals, but by individuals acting in concert; the damage can be reversed or at least mitigated by individuals acting in concert. The collective.

I may get myself in trouble here, but I should qualify what I think by explaining that I am not at all religious. I am an "agnostic atheist." I do not believe that there are any gods, but there is not incontrovertible evidence either way. I think the evidence against is overwhelming, but not definitive proof.

So I argue on behalf of humans not because I think we are creatures of a loving god, but because I think we are loving creatures. Viruses are not loving creatures. They are not even classifiable as living. We can think and reason and occasionally consider the consequences of our actions. Viruses cannot. We can even be so self aware as to realize that we sometimes behave like viruses and do tremendous damage. Viruses cannot. We can even be evil. Viruses cannot.

To the damage we have done to the planet, the planet will survive it. Often we hear of the "end of the world." If the asteroid smacks us before I type period to this sentence, oh wel... The earth was once hit by an object the size of Mars. Both were shattered. Some of the debris became our moon. It was the End of the World. The world coalesced and went placidly on in orbit, a little shook up, tilted, moon added, tides & so forth, but still there. We have evidence (!!) of 5 massive extinctions from whatever, up to 95% of everything living. We can honestly say we had nothing to do with it, and Mother does not care. The planet plods on in orbit and probably will for the foreseeable. Humans have thought through a number of scenarios for the actual End of the World, but what we really mean is the End of Us. It's really, really hard to contemplate our own death, much less our own extinction, but scientifically and statistically extinction is inevitable. The planet was here long before us and will be here long after. One could argue that Modern Humans being only about 200,000 years old, measured in seconds on a geologic time scale, we are infants! We just got here! Yes, we can do tremendous damage, especially to other living critters, and for that we bear great guilt, but damage the planet? Only in a sense. But one also does not need to be religious to acknowledge that, being self-aware, we assume a responsibility to be Good Stewards, but no matter how much damage we do to other critters and ourselves the world itself will plod on with or without us. If we choose we can make peace and keep on keepin' on. The curmudgeonly old cynic thinks we will manage somehow. The arc of the moral universe is long...
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Post by St3v3M » Mon Jan 08, 2018 1:00 am

Charles Haacker wrote:
Sun Jan 07, 2018 7:39 pm
... The curmudgeonly old cynic thinks we will manage somehow. The arc of the moral universe is long...
Let's pray! (see what I did there?) S-
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Post by PietFrancke » Mon Jan 08, 2018 1:35 am

The unpredictable Evil/Good - perhaps the very thing that distinguishes man from animals. I have seen good dogs, and dogs that are less than good, but never an evil dog - well, at least we can argue that a dog's behavior is fairly predictable. I think it takes man to be evil. We have unbelievable potential for good and evil, all our choice. I do not agree that extinction is inevitable - due to our ability to adapt. Not genetic adaption, but adaptation through technology (which I guess could include accelerated genetic change). Compare our last 500 years to the 199,500 (give our take a few years) before. A blink of the eye ago we flew to the moon for crying out loud! Think of the power of computers and automation - perhaps the first rudimentary children of the human race.

The science fiction theme of humanity as a virus waiting to invade the universe is not new. And speaking of God... we don't have to argue one way or the other, but my dog is convinced... We Are Gods! Technology is our magic, our miracles and with it, we will save ourselves, or we will destroy ourselves.

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Post by St3v3M » Mon Jan 08, 2018 1:42 am

PietFrancke wrote:
Mon Jan 08, 2018 1:35 am
...
The science fiction theme of humanity as a virus waiting to invade the universe is not new. And speaking of God... we don't have to argue one way or the other, but my dog is convinced... We Are Gods! Technology is our magic, our miracles and with it, we will save ourselves, or we will destroy ourselves.
Deep! S-
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Post by Charles Haacker » Mon Jan 08, 2018 2:25 am

St3v3M wrote:
Mon Jan 08, 2018 1:00 am
Charles Haacker wrote:
Sun Jan 07, 2018 7:39 pm
... The curmudgeonly old cynic thinks we will manage somehow. The arc of the moral universe is long...
Let's pray! (see what I did there?) S-
I'm hoping someone will take up a collection and pass it to me. :rofl:
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Post by Charles Haacker » Mon Jan 08, 2018 3:05 am

PietFrancke wrote:
Mon Jan 08, 2018 1:35 am
The unpredictable Evil/Good - perhaps the very thing that distinguishes man from animals. I have seen good dogs, and dogs that are less than good, but never an evil dog - well, at least we can argue that a dog's behavior is fairly predictable. I think it takes man to be evil. We have unbelievable potential for good and evil, all our choice. I do not agree that extinction is inevitable - due to our ability to adapt. Not genetic adaption, but adaptation through technology (which I guess could include accelerated genetic change). Compare our last 500 years to the 199,500 (give our take a few years) before. A blink of the eye ago we flew to the moon for crying out loud! Think of the power of computers and automation - perhaps the first rudimentary children of the human race.

The science fiction theme of humanity as a virus waiting to invade the universe is not new. And speaking of God... we don't have to argue one way or the other, but my dog is convinced... We Are Gods! Technology is our magic, our miracles and with it, we will save ourselves, or we will destroy ourselves.
Well said, Piet, and I completely agree with your entire statement. I should probably hedge that humans as we know us will probably go extinct from one cause or another, but something resembling us will very likely adapt and survive, maybe with robotics: bionics . Stephen Hawking and Neal deGrasse Tyson are just two of many far-thinkers arguing that the only way we can avoid extinction is to get off the planet and homestead elsewhere. There is an inevitability that sooner or later something large will collide with us. It actually happens rather often, just not big enough yet (think Tunguska, 1908, and the more recent Chelyabinsk, 2013).* The Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction of ~65 MYA that wiped out most of the dinosaurs (it's now widely accepted that birds were dinosaurs and jus' kep' on truckin') is thought to have been a combination of disasters that started with a big asteroid impact in the Yucatan. But science is already seeing worrying signs that a mass extinction has already started here in the Obscene (usually called the Holocene but potato/tomato). If linked to climate change then indeed we probably have something to do with it since despite the stable genius we are in fact a major driver of climate change (there I said it)! That 6 or 8 mile asteroid that started the "dinosaur extinction" didn't kill everything instantly except maybe for whatever had the good luck to be directly under it. It did cause a massive, nearly instantaneous climate change. The plants died for lack of light. The plant eaters died for lack of food. The predators died for lack of prey. The earth was probably nearly pitch dark around the clock for two years. It was a long starving, a terribly rough way to go. (I know everyone in this conversation already knows this but I have a fever, it's my excuse, and I'm stickin' to it.)

*The aliens keep hitting the Russians because they love the pronunciations. Chel-ya-binsk. Roll that around for awhile: is meaty, like sausage! Strong like bull! Smart like tractor! (Sorry, still feverish...)
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