Thursday 28th of August 2014

life has no meaning, but we can choose our purpose...

butterfly

Whatever we do has no bearing on the status of the universe. Whatever we do has only an influence on the localised activity and reactivity of life on earth.

 

Through accidental evolution, we have become the only species with the ability to modify the planet on a large scale. By our reactivity to and by our activity within the environment, we have empirically constructed various senses of enlightenment with which we can decide what lives or what dies — and in which fashion. We have developed the tools to induce mass extinction as well as micro-modification. This evolution into a sapiens (animals that think) has become our biggest choice — we could define as a responsibility — that has no other purpose but our own decision to understand, or not to do so, what "the next" is, should we care. 

We do not have to care... But caring has become a strong element of human's constructed enlightenment. We care for a little dog. We care for sharing moments with our family. And yet from time to time we go in a rage or we are duplicitous or we are vengeful... We use animalistic aggression for a negative stylistic purpose. 

We also tend to complicate our caring with compromises that are often stupid, inefficient, decidedly wrong or idiotic. Some of us understand these manipulation of purpose for the benefit of most, including for other species. Some of us only choose manipulations of benefits for only a few. Dealing with other humans sensibilities are also often pushing us into making uncomfortable compromises.

 

Butterflies need plants to survive and breed. Specific plants. Often the plants they breed upon end up looking shabby or half dead. The caterpillars seem to destroy the leaves but rarely would the plant die. The butterfly cannot afford the plant species to die off though I believe the butterfly does not know that. It's only a simple biotic balance between the existence of the plant and that of the butterfly. Should we remove the species of plant, the butterfly species itself would die off. Extinct. 

In our expediency of improvement and instant gratification, we often loose sight of the present relationships that relatively feed the next. 

We could need to care more. By choice. Though on a universal level, whether we care or not has no influence. 

But I would say, we need to care because we can do so, whether there is a "pay off" or not...

animal rights...

 

Sam De Brito

...

We think we’d have the moral steel to be abolitionists or stand against Nazism, yet we’re often indulging in the “condescension of posterity” – overlaying modern enlightenment onto situations in which people had few means to know or act better.

While the majority of us reject the relatively recent beliefs that women or people of different races are inferior, it’s a reasoning most humans still embrace as “obvious” or “natural” when it comes to the rights of animals. We are their superiors; we can thus do with them what we like.

This is the core argument of the 2013 documentary Speciesism, a disturbing movie about the ethics of eating meat. Unlike most films of this genre, filmmaker Mark Devries does not just shock with undercover clips of animal cruelty.

Instead, he examines the logic of placing human pain and palates above those of animals, a concept popularised by Australian moral philosopher Peter Singer in his watershed 1975 book Animal Liberation.

Arguments that humans deserve better treatment because we “think for ourselves” and “know right from wrong” collapse when you accept we protect the welfare of infants or the profoundly disabled – who can do neither – above the welfare of animals. We know pigs and chickens feel pain and fear, yet we brutalise them in ways we’d never allow to happen to a newborn human – undoubtedly less aware than an adult cow.

A telling moment in the 2013 documentary is when a scientist observes “space is so much larger than even astronomers of a few generations ago could have dreamed of. Over and again, our intuition is wrong ... your ‘common sense’ has failed you.”

Devries then asks a haunting question: “What if [our assumption of superiority] really is just a prejudice? What if we’re … one species more powerful by luck, tyrannising over all the others and not stepping back to notice what we’ve been doing?”


Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/we-are-all-nazis-when-it-comes-to-animal-rights-20140423-zqy0b.html#ixzz302ESuEs0

 

trying to win at the divine game of marbles...

 

Here we go again... Someone is complaining that life for humans has been scrubbed of meaning by university teachings. One professor should come to Aussieland and see how such religious teachings are screwing up this country with politicians such as Abbott taking over...

 

This time it's a certain "Miroslav Volf" who could be a nom de plume (?) for Henry B. Wright Professor of Systematic Theology at Yale Divinity School, and founder and Executive Director of the Yale Center for Faith and Culture. Mr Wright is the author of A Public Faith and Allah: A Christian Response. He is currently teaching (with Ryan McAnnally-Linz) a course on "Life Worth Living" at Yale Divinity School.

 

I do not dispute the concept that "life is worth living". LIFE IS WORTH LIVING. There I said it.

 

But to even make it more worthwhile, I argue strongly that we do not need religious props... I argue strongly that religious concepts actually retard our ability to develop a sense of relative worth and discover that LIFE IS WORTH LIVING without a suspender belt.

 

It's a question of choosing and devising a strong life purpose using our natural and non-religious stylistic abilities, having some malleability to it, with one being in charge rather than being dictated to by silly concepts — while being mindful of others, including mindful of the planet on which we live. But at the beginning and at the end of it, religions don't want you to be a FREE AGENT FOR your own good self. Like any other modern business, they want to cash in and count you in their ledgers.

 

Religion is bathed in silly concepts... Come on: Adam and Eve? Pull the other leg... And please don't try to tell me this "Genesis" chapter is an "interpretation". It's CRAP... Why should someone called god give us the right of life or death over others, in a universe so big that it has no arse-end? In order to achieve this feat of implanting the CONTROL religious chip, religion uses grand subterfuges that have nothing in common with reality but all to do with exploiting our blank natural fear. The good books are full of stupid crap that is written in imaginative nonsensical glory that, when read cold and dissected properly, makes less sense than a forgotten compost bin. 

 

I hate it when religious people — glorified with important titles because they have studied religious crap in detail and with faith — tell us the why and the meaning of life...

 

I will argue till the end that there is NO MEANING TO LIFE... IT JUST HAPPENS. IT HAS EVOLVED from a stream of changes in which some living creatures thrived and some others died off. We're the thriving species for the moment. By whatever accidents of survival, this quite weak species, Homo sapiens sapiens, has survive and turned itself into a "superior" species. I would propose the non-scientifically verified version that it was because some of the individuals of the earliest forms of sapiens (including neanderthals) managed to create social bonds in which they could protect themselves from more aggressive and naturally superior species... These expanding social bonds also helped and interacted with the development of a growing individual memory bank through natural selection... in which the social memory became also part of the survival strategy — and of the relative need for greater individual expanded memory ability.

 

My beef here that humans developed an individual memory capacity larger than what is presently needed for survival. So these days we invent a lot of useless things and succumb to "entertainment"... It's okay... This was and is in step with the birth of stylistic imagination, of which religion is one result of. Anyone trying to push any of the three major religious beliefs from Christianity to Allahism should really study archaeology of Aboriginal beliefs. I am not saying that Aboriginal beliefs are (were) superior to other religions but they are more earthy. More in tune with the environment rather than with ignorance of it. 

 

 

"Mindful that at the heart of the Christian faith is an account of self, social relations, and the good, they should channel most of their energies into giving an account of a meaningful life and explicating how such a life looks in the context of multiple and ever new challenges of living in the contemporary world."

http://www.abc.net.au/religion/articles/2014/04/30/3994889.htm

 

 

This comclusion by Mr Wright (Volf) is meaningless goobledegook, akin to try playing marbles in heaven because there is nothing else to do — and wanking is not a good look. At the heart of the Christian faith, there is an old book full of excuses on how to live your life with 11 wives and 23 concubines... At the heart of the Christian faith, that book tells us how wars, punishment, victories and defeats come about in relation to god's will and how some women got turned into pillars of salt... Please... Already full to the top with pillars of religion...

 

This debate is closed.

 

I expect less lengthy excuses for "being alive" from the ABC than this annoying confused piece by Mr Wright... The diatribe is long in silly arguments and short in making any sense... I know, I am prejudiced against religious geezers who push religion and religious study from high pulpits, including university chairs...

See also: http://yalepress.yale.edu/yupbooks/book.asp?isbn=9780300122886

and all my articles on "faith" on this site.

hungry caterpillars...

caterpillars

See story at top... Picture by Gus Leonisky

a record we should not be proud of...

WASHINGTON (AP) — Species of plants and animals are becoming extinct at least 1,000 times faster than they did before humans arrived on the scene, and the world is on the brink of a sixth great extinction, a new study says.

The study looks at past and present rates of extinction and finds a lower rate in the past than scientists had thought. Species are now disappearing from Earth about 10 times faster than biologists had believed, said study lead author noted biologist Stuart Pimm of Duke University.

"We are on the verge of the sixth extinction," Pimm said from research at the Dry Tortugas. "Whether we avoid it or not will depend on our actions."

The work, published Thursday by the journal Science, was hailed as a landmark study by outside experts.

http://www.postbulletin.com/news/politics/study-species-disappearing-far-faster-than-before/article_deac8a71-da45-51a2-933e-cc634130dde9.html

richard says kids shouldn't believe in Santa...

 


'Let's foster scepticism' Richard Dawkins says kids shouldn't believe in Santa


CONTROVERSIAL scientist Richard Dawkins has questioned whether it is harmful to young children to let them believe in Father Christmas.


 

At Cheltenham Science Festival, the biologist and writer suggested it was "pernicious to instil in a child the view that the world is shaped by supernaturalism." 

Dawkins, 73, author of The God Delusion, also compared the use of religious threats to child abuse.

Referring to fairytales and stories about Santa Claus, he said: "Is it a good thing to go along with the fantasy of childhood? Or should we be fostering a spirit of scepticism?

"To call it testament to child abuse would be a bit strong, but when you tell a child to mind their Ps and Qs otherwise they'll roast in hell then that is tantamount to child abuse," 

Dawkins also spoke about his autobiography An Appetite For Wonder, which detailed his childhood growing up in Africa, and recounted an incident when a master at his school once put a hand down his shorts.

He said: "I got quite a bit of stick for saying that it did not have a big impact, but to say that it did would be an indecency to those people whose lives have been ruined by experiences that have been much worse."

He admitted that an early age he had a "flirtation" with religion, but added: "I grew up. I put away childish things.

"I think the scientific view is so marvellous that anything else is a second rate explanation of existence."

http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/480161/Richard-Dawkins-says-believing-in-Santa-could-be-bad-for-kids

 

see also: http://www.popmatters.com/column/117919-the-best-of-slugging-santas-and-fightin-father-christmases/

bad santa in futurama...

Gus: I am with Dawkins on this one though some people "need to believe" something fairy because reality is often bloody harsh. For many of us, atheists, it is still hard to be in the "relativity" camp, because let's face it, believing in a fanciful being who is watching over us keeping tally of our sins, though not making sense, is an easy option to mitigate our behaviour. Most religions reduce our capacity to be curious and instil a false sense of wonderment — all in order to collect cash, control us and send us to war or self-immolation... 

 

 

hedge blooms for US butterflies...

 

After bailing out automakers and Wall Street bankers, the U.S. government  has now rolled out a pair of programs to assist a more sympathetic recipient: insects. There’s finally a bailout for the bee and butterfly bankruptcy!

U.S. farmers have gotten better and better at controlling weeds in their fields, and that’s been a disaster for monarch butterflies. Monarchs rely on one specific field plant: milkweed. They can’t survive without it. The population of both milkweed and monarchs have taken a tumble with the rise of effective weed control, via the herbicide glyphosate and GMO crops that tolerate glyphosate.

At the same time, honey bees have been dying off because of the mysterious colony collapse disorder, and many native bee populations are foundering.

The White House just announced that it is creating a strategy to assist pollinators. The initial memo isn’t exactly revolutionary: It creates a task force and gives it six months to come up with a plan. There’s no new funding or regulation. So, okay, not the actual cash bailout that pollinators might have been hoping for.

But there’s some muscle in this memo: It directs the departments in the executive branch to start increasing pollinator habitat. If the Department of Transportation starts planting butterfly gardens along every highway and the Department of Defense does the same on military bases, that’s a lot of real estate. There’s even more real estate under the control of the Department of the Interior. And the Department of Agriculture is also supposed to help out, by planting native seed mixes after forest fires, and helping farmers and ranchers plant for pollinators in their extra space: Hedgerows and fencelines could bloom.

http://grist.org/food/bees-and-butterflies-get-a-boost-from-the-feds/

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Dear Turd-in-Chief... please pay attention to the first line at top:

After bailing out automakers and Wall Street bankers, the U.S. government  has now...

See image and story at top...

 

evolution in isolation in various environments...

The tiny marsupials who spend their nights digging for truffles on the forest floor could be holding together ecosystems in ways scientists are only beginning to understand.

TAKING AN EARLY MORNING walk through the scrubby forest in Tasmania's south-east, Professor Chris Johnson from the University of Tasmania can tell if the local bandicoots and bettongs have been hard at work the night before.

These little marsupials, looking a bit like kangaroos in miniature, spend all night digging for dinner on the forest floor. But it is not the foraging pits that these little diggers leave that gives them away, but a lack of crunching dead leaves underfoot.

Johnson, an ecologist with over 30 years experience studying mammals, says that these little critters are so prolific with their digging activities that they can bury large amounts of leaf litter in a single night.

And it is this influence on leaf litter loads that has him suspecting that bandicoots and bettongs, together with other mammals that dig for food or burrow for shelter, can influence how a bushfire burns through a landscape.

"Fires tend to start down on the ground in the dry litter and a fire will spread if the litter layer is continuous," Johnson says.

"These animals are in there digging holes and throwing soil up into heaps and that creates a lot of micro-firebreaks at a very, very small scale. This diminishes the likelihood that a small fire will spread and turn into a large intense fire."

While the actions of digging mammals would do little on those high fire-danger days when catastrophic, high-intensity fires can occur, Johnson believes that overall they can have a significant influence on the patterns of low-intensity fires.

http://www.abc.net.au/environment/articles/2014/06/30/4029166.htm

 

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This article goes parallel to my insistence on the protection of sub-species. Sub-species can tell us a lot about evolution in isolation in various environments...

greedy little bastards, aren't we?

 

Half the planet should be set aside solely for the protection of wildlife to prevent the “mass extinction” of species, according to one of the world’s leading biologists.

The radical conservation strategy proposed by Dr E.O. Wilson, the hugely-influential 85-year old Harvard University scientist, would see humans essentially withdraw from half of the Earth.

Dr Wilson, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, warned that we are facing a “biological holocaust” as devastating as the extinction of the dinosaurs unless humans agree to share land more equally with the planet’s 10 million other species.

Outlining his audacious “Half Earth” theory, he said: “It’s been in my mind for years that people haven’t been thinking big enough – even conservationists.

“I see a chain of uninterrupted corridors forming, with twists and turns, some of them opening up to become wide enough to accommodate national biodiversity parks, a new kind of park that won’t let species vanish,” he told the journal of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington.

Dr Wilson, who is considered the world’s preeminent advocate of biodiversity, wants to create a series of “Long Landscape” wildlife chains to help species to respond to the effects of climate change by moving around.

These “corridors” running vertically down continents will let species move north as temperatures rise, for example, while those going horizontally will enable species to move east as rainfall declines in the west, Dr Wilson said.

He pointed to the Yellowstone-to-Yukon conservation initiative running 2,000 miles from Wyoming in the mid-west of the US to the Yukon territories in the north west of Canada as a good example of the kind of protected area he would like to see become extremely widespread. The area encompasses and protects an entire mountain eco-system, giving species 502,000 square miles of uninterrupted land to roam.

Scale is important because “islandisation” can have a disastrous impact on wildlife, according to Dr Wilson, whose theory of island biogeography is regarded as the authoritative explanation for why confined landscapes inevitably lose species.

read more: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/pulitzerwinning-scientist-warns-wildlife-face-a-biological-holocaust-9689902.html

 

See toon at top and read rant at top...