:::this is the way the world ends:::

Category: Science (Page 1 of 2)

Thanks, Shotts…

Every time I think of Coca-Cola, I think of The Blinks.

I'd Like to Buy the World...

Click on the image to go to the article.

I do find this article fascinating, however, and am reminded how surrounded we are my technological marvels.  Collective miracles, since no one person holds the key to delivering a can of Coke.  There’s also a part of me that wonders if all this effort is worth it, too.  And what pittance I pay for a Coke…it seems like it is “worth” more — even if I’ve come to expect it cheaper than water, in some cases.

Splendid Isolation

This summer, after being awarded a residency, I am going to be spending 19 days on Isle Royale National Park, on lake Superior. It is the location of the longest running study of a predatory mammal and its prey in the U.S. I will be on foot with no technology and likely will not be able to see the entire 46 mile island, but I hope to do some serious walking. Of course, I’m supposed to be making art as well.




Isle Royale

Amazon Kindle

Not Jeff's Kindle I got one. Anyone else? Care to muse and discuss? In this early stage with it, I’m finding the Kindle surprisingly readable and fun. In its way, it’s making reading "new." At the same time, I find myself gravitating toward nonfiction with it, rather than the more traditionally "literary" genres of fiction and (certainly) poetry. Maybe I’m used to seeking out information on a screen, and so nonfiction feels more comfortable in that format. In any case, it’s been an interesting Christmas gift…

A Brief History of Violence

Thanks Ned for posting the Story of Stuff. I think that it is largely preaching to the choir (with emphasis on “preach”) on this blog but still it is good to know that there are people out there fighting the good fight. I’ve been thinking about these issues over the last few days. I hope to post a more robust response later this week.

So since I took twenty minutes of my time I ask you to take twenty minutes of your time to review this TED talk on A Brief History of Violence by Harvard linguist, Steven Pinker. Shotts if you are looking for an “popularized” science book, you can’t go wrong with anything by Pinker though I have only read The Language Instinct.

Anyway, this is sort of an evidenced based “feel good” story about how the chances of human being killed by another human have consistently dropped throughout history. Pinker talks about why we may believe that the opposite is true and what we may have done right in the last 400 years or so to make this possible. Please take time to view this. I think it’s really important.


Reviving a Dead Horse and Kidder Quotes

With the HP fervor going around, perhaps there is no one out there to read this anyway. I have been haunted by a few things from a discussion we had on this blog months ago now, especially after reading Mountains Beyond Mountains. The first was Peters statement that everyting we do, we do to serve our own needs, and the second was Liz’s statement that we are basically selfish. In all fairness, I’m not exactly sure what Liz means with her statement. Finally, J.E.’s statement that genocide and benevolence are both evolutionary means to advance a group.

The thing that has made me uncomfortable about Peters statement is that it seems that every action can be defended as serving a need.

The thing that I have been wrestling over with Liz’s statement is that it can be taken to imply a sort of determinism that denies freewill, which I’m not sure I’m ready to give up yet.

J.E.’s statement may explain why I would make sacrifices for friends and family, but it explains nothing about a character such as Mother Teresa, Paul Farmer, or Simone Veil. I also think that IF genocide can be argued as an evolutionary process, I would in turn then suggest that evolutionary processes, at such times, should be resisted. This thinking is what led some of the Nazi ideas of Eugenics to take hold in the United States during the forties.

I want to make myself clear. This is in no way to be seen as an attempt to convince anyone of anything. It is merely my attempt to try to understand things more fully.

At any rate, I’ll be dipping into the Moral Animal after the Berger book. My sister Kathleen heard Dawkins speak at K.U. a while back and we had a good discussion about his book, I think it’s called The Selfish Gene. I have not read it, but may yet. Though admittedly, I have other things to do.

I feel that Paul Farmer has had thoughts about these kinds of things from quotes of his in the Kidder book. I originally said I wasn’t going to quote the blasted book, but who am I kidding. No one is planning on reading the book any time soon and no one responded to Farmer’s article I posted a link to a while back. So here’s the quotes.

“‘If you’re making sacrifices, unless you’re automatically following some rule, it stands to reason that you’re trying to lessen some psychic discomfort. So, for example, if I took steps to be a doctor for those who don’t have medical care, it could be regarded as a sacrifice, but it could also be regarded as a way to deal with ambivalence.’ He went on, and his voice changed a little. He didn’t bristle, but his tone had an edge: ‘I feel ambivalent about selling my services in a world where some can’t afford to buy them. You CAN feel ambivalent about that, because you should feel ambivalent. COMMA.’

This was for me one of the first of many encounters with Farmer’s use of the word COMMA, placed at the end of a sentence. It stood for the word that would follow the comma, which was asshole. I understood he wasn’t calling me one – he would never do that; he was almost invariably courteous. Comma was always directed at third parties, at those who felt comfortable with the current distrubution of money and medicine in the world. And the implication, of course, was that you weren’t one of those. Were you?”

And then this, perhaps most challenging from Farmer:

“‘When others write about people who live on the edge, who challenge their comfortable lives – as it has happened to me – they usually do it in a way that allows the reader a way out. You could render generosity into pathology, commitment into obsession.That’s all in the repertory of someone who wants to put the reader at ease rather than conveying the truth in a compelling manner.'”



I declare this the king of Goldberg machines:  http://baynhamtyers.com/contraptionII.html

Cocaine + Corn=

Our childhood dreams are a reality: http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/transportation/4217989.html

The little red spot: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/technology/technology.html?in_article_id=452130&in_page_id=1965

J.E.’s next clock: http://technabob.com/blog/2007/06/18/modern-flip-clock-updates-an-old-standard/

The new Transformers movie is already obsolete: http://slog.thestranger.com/2007/06/more_than_meets_the_eye

Nature already had it figured out: http://www.sycamorefan.com/fan/feature/features.html

Science Monday — Female killer chimps

From BBC News:

Female Chimps Can Become Killers221847.jpg

Scientists in Scotland have discovered that female chimpanzees can be just as violent as their male counterparts.

The St Andrews University psychologists found examples of female chimps killing the offspring of incoming mothers, previously regarded as a male trait.

The Fife team has been studying chimps in the Budongo Forest, Uganda.

The researchers said only three previous instances of lethal aggression in wild female chimps had been documented in the past 50 years.

The belief was that male and females differed greatly in nature but the psychologists found that if the chimps’ resources come under threat, the females could become just as aggressive as males. Continue reading

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