Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Democratic Failure

As in the NY TImes article re: Obama not being the voice and leader we hoped for ("What Happened to Obama's Passion?"), we have ourselves a leader who wants something but is perhaps too afraid politically, or so worried about his legacy and wanting to usher in a new era of government cooperation, that he ignores the situation and makeup of his political adversaries and does not forcibly defend one opinion, one goal, and the best way to get there. We had a chance. Democrats had the majority at first, but without the figurehead leader, even the rank-and-file congressmen began to distance themselves from, at the time, the singularly defining goal of the democratic party (Health Care Reform). And even with that majority, because Obama wanted to usher in a new era and pass legislation with approval from both sides, he didn't just force it through. And then we Americans got a whittled down health care reform and even his own party didn't believe in it enough to stand up for it enough to get re-elected. 

Then the Republicans took over, and by now we finally realized that we were screwed. Especially now with the economy. It took that long to figure out that the initial stimulus wouldn't be enough to escape possibly the worst recession since the Great Depression, and now without control of both houses, it was too late for Democrats to push through New Deal type legislation. Because the economy will be horrible still come re-election, one can only hope that luck yields back Congress to the democrats and retains Obama, and that the democrats will have learned their lesson, and that a second chance will allow us to pick ourselves back to our feet.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Which is more comforting: believing that God formed you how you are a beautiful creature but with any problems according to His plan, or that you are the product of billions of years and billions of iterations of beings before you, each of which theoretically more perfect than the last.

Well it's probably more comforting to believe in God because it doesn't matter how perfect you are, to have had billions of iterations and to have them in the future requires your death. Only in God's universe does that allow for a happy afterlife.

And even to the idea of perfection. Too bad that evolution is not a clockmaker but is instead the tinkerer, simply screwing with the design randomly, a wire here a connection there a hormone there And another hormone to modify that one etc., and actually making changes quite fast. And ever changing, thus we're not perfect for now we are perfect for yesterday.

Probably better to believe in both. I mean, surely you believe in the Fact of evolution, it is up to you to believe in the heart that may or may not point to God. And you probably feel something. After all, we evolved a belief in God so that with our enormous frontal cortices we wouldn't spend our lives ruminating on our deaths.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Day bin Laden Died

I cannot help but to feel a profound sense of sadness at the death of one of the worst killers in recent history. As I see the cries of jubilation outside of the White House and on Facebook, Twitter, and news feeds, I cannot help but think to myself just how awful this is.

I am not sad that Osama bin Laden is dead. I am glad my country's greatest enemy has been destroyed.

I am sad that in order to bring Peace into this world, there must be death. I am sad that any person's death is cause for celebration. I am sad that the world is still a place of dictators and warlords and countries that fight a war for ten years because the world is full of these people.

I have hope. One day, the killing will become unnecessary. There won't be a need for tat because there won't be a tit. Young boys just out of high school won't be killing younger boys still, when so much of who each of us are depends so much upon luck.

It is Chaos. I desperately hope for Peace.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Valentine's Day

Love is obviously important to a set of genes existing within us reproductive machines. Without the feeling, the genes can't be sure that they will exist. Actually, they don't give a damn, they're just chemicals. They just have to have coded for an organism that cares, or else they wouldn't exist. Get it?

Any genes that don't code for the perfect chemical balance that causes love, then sex and reproduction, do not survive because they don't get replicated. Culling the herd.

We humans also love those we don't have sex with. We are social creatures. Our evolution lead to a strategy of working together. As one, or even as small families, all we could do is hunt, gather, have sex, and exist. As part of a larger humming organism, each of us may specialize and produce much more on the whole. In order for this to work, we have to be social.

It also means that our mates aren't just quick lays. It means we love them forever. We work with them to raise our progeny and ensure the survival of our genes (if our ancestors hadn't, we wouldn't exist). In that same vein, we do better for ourselves if we work together.

So this Valentine's Day, go out there and love your closest companions, and your friends, and your family. They are what make you human and special. Don't lose them.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Sad State of News

How is it NEWS that the Republican House leader beliefs our president is a natural-born citizen?

That and half the news is violence.

Monday, January 17, 2011

More Chocolate

It’s okay to be disappointed by the chocolate. That’s the beauty of it. You never know what you’re going to get. You know what the soft centers look like. You know what the cream filled look like. Sometimes they look alike. If you knew exactly what you were going to get, though, would the good ones be so special? If you always had the good ones, would you know what good is?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Change the World

I want you to do something for me today, something awkward, something weird, something you don’t normally do. Every single one of us craves companionship. We crave social interaction. We need someone to love, someone to care for, and someone to love and care for us in return. We need someone to hang out with, someone to feel safe with, someone to feel reckless with, or someone that will take our secrets and keep them safe. We need friends. We need lovers. We need others.

            We are wired that way. Evolution’s solution to man is the social group, the family of brothers, some of whom aren’t genetic brothers even if they are true brothers. Without that raw connection, we are not human.

            Yet some people don’t have that connection. Some crave that which they are unable to take for themselves, be they shy or boisterous. Some lose their words, some are too fearful to mutter them at all. Some never had that connection, some want your connection.

            Here’s what I want you to do. Go to someone that isn’t part of your group. This could be someone who hangs around with your group but isn’t in your group, or it could be someone more removed. Go to this person, today, and say, “I want to be your friend.” 

            Just straight out, tell them how you feel. You will warm their hearts. They will know that you care for them. They will now have that social key that drives us. You will. I want millions of people, today, to make a new friend. Say this to someone you are close to, but not close enough. Say this to the little boy that has no friends. Say this to the most popular person you know. Say this to the band geek, the sports geek, the school geek, the TV geek, the computer geek, the Spanish geek, the punk geek. Say this. Say it. Don’t just think it. Share it. 

When all of you say this today, you will change the world. The world will become a closer place. You will truly meet someone. Someone will truly meet you. You will experience Life, as it was meant to be.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Life Without Death?

Without death there is no iteration. Without iteration there is no evolution. Without evolution we are just random chemicals and micelles and surely purposeless. Instead, we can tell ourselves we are more than random chemicals and thus may serve some purpose.

Plus, without death there is no chance for new beginning. Without new creation, what is life but some kind of animated rock? If new creation is allowed but death deterred, there is not room enough on this lonely planet.

Saturday, January 8, 2011


As the sun slowly set above the painted desert, in balance did the moon rise above the sun, signaling the change of shift between day and night. Below, the apes huddled together fearfully, knowing that with the coming of night came the dangers that accompanied the concealing darkness. They gathered near the mouth of a cave. One ape was missing, earlier taken by the local leopard, but the other apes did not register this fact. They had not yet learned to count.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Reproductive Machines

In life, evolution has molded us into reproductive machines. If we are here, it is because every single ancestor before us had sex. It is no coincidence that each direct ancestor has had sex for over five hundred million years.

For a machine to have sex, you need only program it to perform the action. For a biological organism shaped and affected by sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and thoughts, it is more complicated than simply programming the action to occur at some interval “x.” This is where a barrage of chemical signals come in and alter physiological and neuronal processes. But how to release these chemicals, these hormones that will drive our machine to its ultimate purpose?

Before we get to that, we need a set to create a direct sense of euphoria among our bag of neurons, and we need a set to release that first set. This euphoria must be associated with the contemplation and action of reproduction. Yes, that set of chemicals causing random neurons to light up could be randomly associated with “good” or with “bad.” But barring an error in development, any set of neurons that associated our supposed euphoric hormone with “bad” did not then command the body to have sex. And without sex, it did not replicate. And if it did not replicate, we do not exist. Therefore, throughout our 500 million year line of ancestry, our parent organisms felt euphoria during sex and during contemplation of sex.

Although recall of your previous sexual euphoria can drive you to have sex again, a far stronger evolutionary technique exists in order to make sure you have sex. Your body rewards you for thinking about having sex. For many, the thought of sex is more exciting than the sex itself. Merely contemplating sex makes you happy. This is important because you as a machine are not programmed to go have sex because once you start you realize how happy this makes you feel (and then you don’t stop until it kills you). A machine won’t be able to easily traverse the step from “starting” to “doing.” It only does. Thus, you must be rewarded just for thinking about sex. And this thought will then bring you to the action itself.


I am a learner.

One of my best strategies for learning is teaching. When I teach, I must synthesize my knowledge into a comprehensible form that others may understand, and it is through this synthesis that I truly begin to understand that which I am learning, as I organize my “knowledge” into chunks that make sense for others and for myself. Additionally, you ask questions, forcing me to really think about what it is I think I know. And when I come to something I don’t know that you asked about, I realize I should have already been asking your question, and I then look for the answer. I win no matter what.

In my posts, I will teach you what I know, tell you what I think I know and what I want to know, and ask you what I should know.

I warn you that my posts won’t necessarily be for the faint of heart (xkcd style). I will touch on subjects that include college-level science along with elementary-level philosophy. Nevertheless, I promise you that I will answer any of your questions as a response in future postings because I want you to understand the science, my thought process, or simply my use of grammar. Initial posts will probably assume a complete understanding of the subject matter, and when you seek clarification I will gladly make this structural foundation of my other post the new focus of my new post. Indeed, I seek this kind of feedback because it will also provide subjects for future postings and with luck, drive a “conversation” that leads us to a level of understanding we would have never reached alone. If I speak of some evolutionary adaptation and use the concept of natural selection to shape my thoughts and you don’t know about natural selection, your response will then allow me to focus my next post on natural selection. When I summon genetics to explain a concept of natural selection, your question regarding something about genetics will then allow me to focus my next post on probability, penetrance, Gregor Mendel, stem cells, Jurassic Park, biochemistry, or any number of subjects. In this way I will both enhance your understanding of the initial post, but I will also bring to light any number of amazing things underlying or standing beside that first thought. I will engage my mind and yours as we travel through the wonderful worlds of science, politics, philosophy, economics, and well, life.

Let us read, respond, debate, and discover all aspects of the world we live in.

Boxes of Chocolate

Life is like a box of chocolates. You know what you want. You have a good idea that what you are grabbing is what you want. But sometimes you are surprised by what you get.

Often, to be surprised is to be disappointed.
Sometimes, the surprise is greater than anything you could have anticipated. This is life, and this is why life is great.