Well Tomorrow is Election Day. Win or lose, this will be the last time I write about Measure Z. Believe me, I’m as sick of it as you are. I cannot think of a single topic more boring than tax policy, or an activity more pointless than voting, but this blog remains the highest ranked Vote No on Measure Z page on the internet, so I have a job to do.
We’ve dropped a few places since I first reported this phenomena, but lygsbtd remains the only Vote No On Measure Z web site to show up on the first page of search results. However, if you do a google image search, you’ll discover that my Vote No on Measure Z memes dominate the image search results, with seven of the top ten images sourcing from this blog. In the image war, I am kicking their ass!
Unfortunately, this battle won’t be decided by a google image search. This battle will be won at the ballot box, so here I go again, trying to find an entertaining way to motivate you to go to the polls and VOTE NO ON MEASURE Z.
I don’t like telling you to vote. Usually I tell people that voting is for suckers, because voting is for suckers. It takes a special kind of stupidity to believe in democracy. Think about it. How many years did you stay up all night on Christmas Eve, before you realized that Santa Claus was a fraud? Now ask yourself: How long has it been since you’ve seen democracy actually solve a problem or prevent an expensive, pointless war? We have a word for that kind of stupidity. We call that kind of stupidity: “religion.”
Democracy is just the latest fraud religion. Like all fraud religions, it was concocted as a means of extracting money from your pocket, and putting it in someone else’. That’s exactly what Measure Z is all about. Humboldt’s greediest bloodsuckers are counting on Humboldt’s dumbest morons to help them pry more money out of your pocket.
They know that ALL of the greedy bloodsuckers in Humboldt County will vote for their regressive tax measure, because greedy bloodsuckers love to take advantage of people. Even the Libertarians around here (I’m looking at you Fred) can’t say NO to screwing poor people. So, they’ve got the bloodsucker vote wrapped up.
The big problem will be liberals and progressives. Liberals and progressives are the snake handlers and castration cults of the fraud religion known as democracy. They are the dumbest of the dumb. At least the bloodsuckers know that democracy is a game, and they play to win. Liberals and progressives think that democracy has magical powers to solve intractable social and environmental problems, something it has never, ever, done.
Liberals and progressives worship democracy and believe it has supernatural powers. They believe that if the government has more money, its magical powers to solve problems grow stronger. That’s why liberals and progressives like paying taxes. They like to think about all the cool things that government would do if it had more power. Like:
Solve global climate change with electric cars and solar powered bullet trains.
Find a cure for cancer, Ebola, muscular dystrophy and Parkinson’s disease.
End poverty and homelessness.
I’ve got news for you. Government is never going to do any of that stuff. In reality, democracy empowers bloodsuckers to rape the Earth, pollute the environment and take advantage of people, and democracy prevents the rest of us from interfering with it. That’s what democracy does now, and that’s what democracy has always done, but liberals and progressives look back at democracy’s almost 250 year history in the US, and they say, “It still looks good on paper. It really should work this time.”
No, it won’t work, not this time, not next time, not ever. Democracy will never work. Jesus is not coming back, and Santa Claus does not exist. I’m sorry to disappoint you, if I’m the one to break it to you, but professional wrestling is phony too. These are just the facts of life.
Still, these three great frauds, democracy, Christianity and consumerism continue to define our culture, and sometimes it’s just easier to just say “Merry Christmas” than to yell, “Santa is dead!” When someone says “bless you” after you sneeze, it’s not always helpful to say “Fuck you! Your religion is a fraud and you are an idiot!” By the same token, you can hold your nose, go to your polling place, and cast your ballot to stop this whole evil system from stealing even more of your life, even though you know the system is a complete fraud.
Go ahead. Get it over with. Vote NO on Measure Z.
Category Archives: Uncategorized
Oh God, is it Tuesday afternoon already? Like I told you last week I’ve been very busy with a couple of radio projects. I hope you listened to Living Earth Connection this past Sunday. If you haven’t heard it yet, you can download it or stream it by clicking the links below:
It’s a really good show. That John Hardin is a pretty bright guy, and he’s good at explaining stuff. You could easily find worse ways to spend an hour.
Coming up this Thursday, Sept. 4 at 5pm on KMUD you can hear the other radio project, the one that has kept me too busy to write this past week. Amy and I call this show Wildlife Matters. You might have read about it in The Redwood Times, The Independent, The Times Standard, The Mad River Union, or The Lumberjack. You might have seen it on facebook, or on my Youtube channel. If you missed that media buzz, hey at least I’m giving you a “heads up” 24 hours in advance right here at your favorite SoHum blog.
I fear, however, the show will come as a complete surprise to people who rely on KMUD for information about upcoming KMUD programming. Apparently, the nice promo I sent them, disappeared into a black hole and was never heard from again.
This happens pretty regularly, We have a great staff at KMUD, and some wonderful volunteers, but KMUD is a dynamic organism containing a high degree of internal chaos. I try not to take it too personally.
My partner Amy Gustin and I collaborated on this show, and it will replace, at least in terms of my commitment to it, the radio show I’ve produced for over four years, The SHARC (Southern Humboldt Amateur Radio Club) Report. After producing 53 half hour shows, at least tangentially related to Ham radio, I am out of ideas and ready for a new challenge.
I wanted to do a show that was a little more ambitious, in terms of production values, and I wanted to work collaboratively. I love working with Amy, and she pitched me a great idea for a show, so here we go. Amy loves wildlife, especially wild animals, and she likes to do research. I like writing, editing and producing. With Wildlife Matters, Amy gets to make a show about the topics she is interested in, and I get to make the kind of show I want to make.
We jumped into this project as soon as we finished last Sunday’s Living Earth Connection show. We recorded the interview with Monte Merrick in his office near Arcata a couple of weeks ago when we made a trip up North, to perform, on Theremin and didgeridoo, no less, at the Humboldt Maker’s Street Fair in Oldtown Eureka.
It was great to talk to Monte. Monte came to our attention a couple of years ago as “Bird Ally X,” the man who came to the rescue of hundreds of oiled, starving and injured pelicans all up and down the Lost Coast.
He became a musical inspiration when we heard him speak at Godwit Days, a birders event that happens every Spring in Arcata. At Godwit Days, Monte reported on this whole pelican disaster, and how they responded to it. To accompany this heartrending story, off-stage a lone banjo player picked out some of the slowest, saddest, dockside pelican conjuring banjo music I ever heard.Amy and I talked about that presentation a bit, and those talks eventually turned into The Big Picture.
Monte came to our attention again, recently, when he asked that the renewal of the County’s contract with Wildlife Services be removed from the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors’ “consent calendar.” In other words, Monte told the Board of Supes, “I know you’ve been paying this guy to kill animals for almost a hundred years, but maybe it’s not really such a good idea, and I think we deserve a chance to talk about it.” We talked about it. Unfortunately, the Supes renewed the contract anyway.
That’s what gave us the idea for the show. People don’t know enough about Wildlife Services, at least I didn’t, until Amy started filling me in about their history, their practices, and their political maneuverings.
We asked Monte Merrick for an interview because he obviously knows a lot about Wildlife Services, and, as co-director of Humboldt Wildlife Care Center, he knows a lot about humane alternatives to the trap-and-kill policy of Wildlife Services. He was kind enough to grant us an interview, at the office, on the weekend, and we very much appreciate the time he took with us.
While Amy reviewed the recording, I worked on the theme music and the promo. Amy identified the clips we wanted to use and developed the angle for the show, I worked out the show’s format. I wanted to produce a tight, scripted show with dialogue, that would also include unscripted interview excerpts, clips from speeches, sound samples etc.
We hammered out the dialogue together, one bit at a time, then rehearsed and recorded each bit individually, working them around the interview segments. Slowly, we assembled the show. I crafted the intro and ending with lots of animal noises, jungle sounds, and original theme music. Thanks to Patrick Rose for the djembe drum track. Just last night, we finished it, and it sounds pretty good.
This episode of Wildlife Matters looks at Wildlife Services, a shadowy branch of the USDA responsible for exterminating wolves in the early part of the 20th Century, and for killing millions of other animals every year, for over a century, using poisons and other indiscriminate methods. Wildlife Services amounts to subsidized pest control for farmers, ranchers, and rich people in their country estates, and to Wildlife Services, the life of the animal means nothing.
We contrast Wildlife Services with Humboldt Wildlife Care Center, who get no taxpayer funding, but handle the same kind of human/wildlife conflicts with an entirely different approach. We talk to Monte Merrick about the Humane Solutions movement, Humboldt Wildlife Care Center’s mission, and about his experiences with Wildlife Services.
So, that’s what the show is about, but I’m more excited about how it sounds. I hope you’ll tune in, just like you hope I’ll write something funny for next week.
Ok, I’ve had a lot of fun with the whole situation in Garberville, and I think the levity was completely in order, but a lot of people are very frustrated with the situation, and they want SOLUTIONS. So, I’m here to help, seriously, but we don’t get to solutions without doing some analysis first, and that includes taking responsibility for the disastrous consequences of our consumptive middle-class lifestyle, and it means taking responsibility for economic policies that have kept wages low, while housing, health-care, fuel and other costs soared. I don’t care whether you voted for Reagan or not, if you want solutions, take responsibility, otherwise we can just play the blame game till we’re blue in the face.
The middle-class really needs to get over their Boomer era Populuxe expectations, especially the expectation that they will be surrounded by only middle-class people. We can’t all be middle-class, and really, not that many of us should be middle-class, ecologically speaking. It takes a lot of working-class people to support a single middle-class person, so we should expect to have many more working-class people than middle-class people. Get used to it folks, there are a lot of poor people around.
On the other hand, it shouldn’t suck so much to be poor. Ever since Reagan, we’ve had this attitude that we should punish and humiliate the poor as much as possible, so that we might thereby motivate them to work harder to become middle-class. In reality, punishing the poor drives down wages and keeps housing prices high for everyone. Seeing desperately poor people on the street makes middle-class people feel less secure, and the super-rich exploit that insecurity.
This is why grown adults with full-time jobs need a roommate to afford an apartment. This is why so many salaried employees put in 60 hour weeks to meet their work load. This is why fewer Americans than ever can afford their own home. This is why so many healthy able-bodied adults have decided that the jobs they can get don’t pay enough to be worth their time. That’s how the super-rich uses the dirt poor against the middle-class.
Look at where punishing the poor has gotten us. Still we have plenty of resentment to go around. We punish the crazy, because we don’t want halfway houses in our neighborhoods. We don’t want to see them and we don’t want to pay for them. We punish the addicted for their weakness. We punish the young and adventurous because they remind us of our lost youth and we punish the lost and confused because we just don’t have time for other people. We punish them all because we see them as blemishes on our middle-class dreams, but the ones we resent the most don’t have any excuse, do they?
I’m talking about the healthy young people who have decided that the jobs they can get, don’t pay well enough to be worth their time, and that their time is better spent learning to live without a job and without a home. More and more people are making that decision, not because it looks like an attractive option, but because it looks like a better option than any of their alternatives. They would rather sleep outside in the rain and scrounge for food then work themselves to death, and kiss ass all day for a rented room, a TV and enough beer to ease the pain. These people have resentments too. Just sayin’
We all like having someone to punish. It makes us feel better about how much we punish ourselves in this stupid economy. We punish the poor, because we want poor people to suffer more than we do in our struggle to be middle-class. The struggle to be middle-class sucks so much because being middle-class is a totally unsustainable lifestyle. It has nothing to do with the poor, except that every person now struggling to be middle-class makes the whole world poorer, and helps the super-rich enslave us all. That’s what middle-class people do. It’s nothing to be proud of.
Thanks to three decades of trickle-down economics, welfare reform, and the Great Recession our population of punishable people mushroomed. Despite the economic pressure, despite the social stigma and open hostility, they have learned to live outside of mainstream society, and there are now enough of them that they have their own society. The more they talk to each other, the more they identify with each other. The more they identify with each other, the more they support each other, and the more they support each other, the more insulated from, and immune to the punishments of, the mainstream culture they become. So, we become like the Israelis and the Palestinians, or like Black and White America, two segregated societies that hate each other, living in the same place.
This problem is not going away, and it’s never going to get better without compromise, leadership, foresight and understanding. Knowing this community as I do, that means it ain’t gonna happen, and instead, things will go from bad to worse. The whole situation is very revealing. Poor people can’t afford to conceal their ugliness, and having ugly poor people around brings out the ugliness of the middle-class. We now see just how ugly and dysfunctional American society has become. The situation is so pathetic that probably the best that will come from it was the small amount of humor, and insightful analysis I was able to glean from it for this blog.
But just imagine for a moment… What if we had some thoughtful, enlightened, cultural creatives among our local gentry? What could they do to make the situation better for everyone, and to make Garberville a much better place to live?
Right now the number one need in this community is housing. We need housing more than we need ball fields, schools, parks, roads or anything else. By ignoring that need, in favor of perks for the middle-class, like ball fields, concert venues or the town square, we provide adequate reason for the homeless to despise the gentry. Everything we do to relieve that pressure, will also reduce that hostility, and pay off in better life for everyone in Garberville.
SoHum prides itself as the heart of the “back to the land” movement, where once upon a time, people bought cheap land, and built their own homes without permits. The Boomers now make sure that no one ever gets a deal on land like they got, but a lot of people would still like to build their own tiny cabin, somewhere where a landlord won’t evict them, and the cops will not come tear it down.
If you’ve been to Oregon Country Fair you’ve no doubt noticed how harmoniously hippie architecture can blend into a natural environment. It doesn’t happen by accident. OCF has volunteer building inspectors that look for genuinely dangerous or particularly ugly structures, and cites them, but mostly, people can build what they want. A lot of people would really appreciate an opportunity to build their own little home, and would have a lot of motivation to make it work. Half Habitat for Humanity, half Oregon Country Fair, part campground, part tree-fort residential subdivision, entirely innovative, entirely SoHum, we could make it happen if only someone with some land around here actually gave a fuck.
Even without building a single other structure, we could probably solve our housing problem another way.
Right now, about half of this county’s available residential housing has been converted to indoor marijuana farms. Why are half of our residential houses full of marijuana plants, while thousands of people sleep outside? That’s insane. Every grow house is a crime against humanity, and a crime against nature, and if there is any role for the cops it should be to bust every indoor grow scene in Humboldt County.
Frankly, I don’t think the cops will be much help. Cops aren’t going to solve this problem. This is a “crumbling society” problem, not a “law and order” problem. If our social problems could be solved by a pin-headed red-neck with a gun, they’d have all been solved a long time ago. These problems were created by pin-headed red-necks with guns. We need unarmed hippie solutions, the kind we used to have when pot was cheap and it all came from Mexico, before we got greedy and decided we wanted to be middle-class.
The pressure should come from the community. We should hear PSAs on KMUD about how to recognize a grow house, how much damage to the environment comes from growing marijuana indoors, and especially about how many families go homeless because greedy drug dealers have taken over our residential neighborhoods. Homes are for people! Get the pot farms out of our residential neighborhoods. This isn’t just common sense, it’s common decency.
Another common sense, absolute desperate necessity is a reasonably priced campground with bathrooms and a coin-operated shower. State campgrounds charge $35 a night for camping, which is highway robbery (Fuck You, State of California!). That’s why you only find rich retirees camping at them anymore. The county charges $15 dollars a night for their campgrounds. That’s closer to reasonable. Reasonable does not mean, “competitive,” reasonable means a price that people will actually pay, rather than take their chances finding a place where they can crash for free.
We get a lot of budget conscious tourists who are resourceful enough that they don’t ever have to pay tourist prices for camping. Currently, the only people who welcome them are the homeless. If the townsfolk welcomed them with the kinds of services they need at a price they’re willing to spend, these tourists would not so quickly identify with, and become a part of the local subculture, and local entrepreneurs would make money from them. Again, this is just common sense.
Here’s something a little more ambitious, but desperately needed, an affordable, cannabis-therapy-based treatment and recovery camp. We all know people who have beat serious addictions to alcohol, narcotics, tobacco,cocaine or speed, by using cannabis. Decades of prohibition have deeply enmeshed cannabis users and growers alike into the black-market drug trade. A large part of the money that comes into this county, comes from individuals and organizations that deal in other, more addictive substances, along with Humboldt’s finest cannabis.
Addiction is a huge problem both among SoHum’s housed community as well as the unhoused. A very rustic, drug-free, cult-like, cannabis intensive retreat, built around a culture of recovery, mutual support, mutual-sufficiency and community service has enormous potential around here. We have the rustic. We have the addicts. All we need is one good Pot Doc with cult-leader aspirations. At the very least, it would help a lot of people quit hard drugs, take a lot of pressure off of the community, and do a lot of research on cannabis and addiction.
And while we’re dreaming…. Here’s another good idea: Economic diversity, and by that I mean, make space for tiny businesses, and local artists. Support them. Celebrate them, don’t just exploit them, or force them out of town.
Eureka and Arcata both have rocking Arts Alive nights every month. Garberville could do it too, but it would take planning, and some commitment to make it happen.
Now, I expect most of the people who own land around here to think: “Why should I do anything for them?” Here’s why: Doing all of these things helps to shrink that “problem population,” and it creates the illusion that people actually give a fuck about their fellow human beings. That makes it harder for people like me to make fun of the situation, and it gives people more options, which makes it harder to take sides. In reality, it’s a diabolical strategy designed to subdue insurgents. They call it Psy-Ops.
Every time you put someone in a home, you cut the homeless population by one. Every time you get an addict off of drugs and into a cult, your problem shrinks. Every time a tourist sees an entrepreneur bending over backwards to accommodate them, the less likely it is that they will camp with the homeless, get to know them and and decide to stick around. And of course, every artist who can count on reliable local work because someone at the C of C makes Arts Alive a priority, means one sarcastic critic with a sharp pen, has something better to do.
This starfish wasting syndrome is not funny folks. In case you haven’t heard the story, an epidemic of disease among Pacific starfish, specifically pisaster ochraceous, or Ocher Starfish, the big orange “stars” of beaches and tidepools, is causing them to waste away, fall apart and die in alarming numbers.
Humans have adored these strangely beautiful creatures for eons, and their popularity hasn’t waned one bit, but within the tidal ecosystem, the ocher starfish is a feared predator, at least to the degree that a bivalve mollusk can experience fear.
Frightening or not, the ocher starfish plays the same role in the intertidal zone as lions do on the Serengeti, or that wolves do in Yellowstone National Park. The ocher starfish is the apex predator of Pacific tide-pools. In fact, scientists have learned a lot of what they know about apex predators, like lions and wolves, from studying ocher starfish.
Ecology, especially ecosystem ecology, is a very new field of scientific inquiry. It seems hard to believe today, but before World War II, nobody really gave a rats ass about how ecosystems worked. The story of civilization has been one of “plunder first, ask questions later,” and so it goes that the science of studying ecosystems didn’t get under way until well after most of the world’s ecosystems had been severely impacted by industrial exploitation. As a result, we may never know how a healthy ecosystem operates. In a sense, studying ecosystem ecology today, must be a lot like trying to learn about antebellum life and culture by observing a confederate field hospital towards the end of the Civil War.
Still the nascent field of ecosystem ecology can teach us a few things about what happens to an ecosystem when you remove a keystone species. In fact, one of the landmark studies in the field of ecosystem ecology looked at the effects of removing just this particular species, pisaster ochraceous from a tide-pool ecosystem.
The scientist in this study, Robert T. Paine, marked off two equal sized patches of tide-pool habitat. A couple of times a month, Robert would go to one of those marked off areas, and within it he would meticulously remove every single ocher starfish from that area, and hurl them, as far as he could, into the surf. In the other marked-off area, he did nothing but observe.
Every two weeks or so, for a year, Robert went down to his little marked-off areas and began chucking starfish. Doesn’t this make “ecosystem ecologist” sound like a pretty sweet job? Spend your days splashing around on the beach skipping starfish across the water. How do I sign up? I guess his hands got pretty torn-up from the abrasive skin of starfish, but it still sounds like a pretty good job to me.
Over the course of the year, Paine observed the results of his strange new obsession. In the area where Paine had removed all of the ocher starfish, the ecosystem collapsed. Initially Paine observed dozens of different species living together in that area. Within a year, half of those species had disappeared completely, and those that remained, did so only tenuously. Before long, all but one species completely vanished from the experimental area.
The only species left inhabiting the area, had completely taken over. Every square inch of the marked off area was covered with large mussels, mytilus californianus, the ocher starfish’s favorite prey. In absence of starfish, nothing could stop the mussels from squeezing everyone else out of the picture, leaving a desolate monoculture where there was once a thriving, diverse ecosystem.
Paine published the results of his experiment in 1966 in the scientific journal American Naturalist, and it has become a foundational work in this emerging new field. Paine’s experiment revealed that certain species, specifically predators, have a greater effect on their ecosystem than their numbers suggest.
Paine’s work with starfish eventually led to federal protection of keystone predators like the spotted owl, and to the reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone National Park. Paine had demonstrated that predators are critical to maintaining healthy ecosystems, and that without them, complex and diverse ecosystems quickly collapse into desolate wastelands overrun with pests.
Like I said, ecosystem ecology is a new field, and its progress has been greatly compromised by the impacts of industrial exploitation. As a science, ecosystem ecology remains in its infancy, especially regarding marine ecosystems, but when it comes to the question “What happens to intertidal ecosystems when ocher starfish disappear?” thanks to Robert T Paine, science can give us a pretty good answer. Unfortunately the answer itself is neither pretty nor good.
I was glad to learn that our local school bond, “Measure N” failed in our recent primary election. Schools seem like a lost cause to me. Really, why should taxpayers waste their money on subsidized daycare for the offspring of people who are too stupid and irresponsible to use birth control. With 7 billion+ people on the planet, I don’t think it makes sense to subsidize parenthood.
Seriously, what are the chances that anyone stupid enough to bring children into a grossly overpopulated world, in the midst of the greatest extinction event in 65 million years, at a time of unprecedented government surveillance and economic oppression, has enough brain power to participate in a meaningful way in their child’s education? No amount of school funding will ever help stupid, selfish, irresponsible people raise smart, generous pillars of the community. Besides, public school is what made their parents into the dimwitted monsters of capitalist conformity that they’ve become.
We should remember that, just like short people, who have kids solely to make themselves look taller, stupid people have kids specifically so that they will have someone dumber than them around, to make them feel smart. As long as we continue to subsidize moron and midget reproduction through taxpayer funded public schools, we’ll remain locked in a race to the bottom, both in altitude and intelligence.
What do we think we have to teach kids anyway? We should know by now that our way of life is destroying the planet, and that we have no freaking clue how to live sustainably. Children raised by wolves would have more survival skills than today’s high school graduates, but of course, there are no wolves around here anymore.
I think we should put a “wolf bond” on the ballot. If it passes, the school board will spend $10 million to reintroduce wolves into Humboldt County. Then parents could tie a pork chop around their kid’s neck, send him out to stand in the woods and tell them to wait for the school bus. Let the wolves decide who’s worth educating. Problem solved.
School bonds are such a ripoff anyway. It makes no sense to borrow money from a bank, and then have the taxpayers pay it back with interest. Taxpayers end up spending two, three or five times as much money as they get value, while bankers make a fortune from these low-risk investments.
It makes much more sense to pass a school levy. In a school levy, the taxpayers finance the schools directly and cut the bloodsucking banksters out of the equation, but thanks to Prop. 13, no one can muster the votes necessary to pass a school levy. Prop. 13 has turned California from the best state in the nation for public education into the worst.
Really, if you want decent public education, move to Mississippi or Alabama.
People come to California for the sunshine, the surf, the gay sex and the drugs, not because they want to get smarter. If we were smarter, we’d declare California an “Adults Only” state.
Think about it: Surfers don’t have the time, or sense of responsibility, to raise kids. Gay people have a foolproof method of birth control and drug addicts make terrible parents. In short, nobody in California should be having kids.
If we made California “Adults Only,” we’d never have to spend another dime on public schools. We’d never get stuck behind slow school buses that stop every 300 feet. They could sell cigarettes and candy from the same display rack, and put porno magazines out with the comic books. We could leave loaded guns, Draino and dangerous pesticides anywhere we felt like, and we wouldn’t continue to ignore homeless adults while we built more playgrounds and ball-fields for kids with no future.
Instead of listening to parents whine about their kid having to walk past a homeless adult, who might be smoking or drinking, homeless adults could report any children they see to the proper authorities, and a cop would pick up the kid and put him on a bus to Alabama. Pregnant women would still have a choice: abortion or deportation.
I am so sick of irresponsible parents thinking that they have a right to tell grown adults what they can and can’t do, because of how it will affect their children. The time to change the world is BEFORE you have kids, not after. If you didn’t want your kid to see a naked schizophrenic humping a stuffed giraffe on the sidewalk maybe you shouldn’t have gotten knocked-up in a world as crazy as this one.
If you can submit your kid to the horrors of this sick world, then your kid should also see what this sick world does to people. If you aren’t willing to do anything to make the world better for the people who are already here, then you shouldn’t bring any new people into the world, at least not until we pass the wolf bond.
As you may have guessed, I’m not a religious man. I think about religion the way I think about classical music, only more so. That is: I’ve heard it. I’ve played it. I know what it’s all about, but it’s been done to death. I know some people still love it, but to me it seems antiquated and irrelevant.
I don’t worship a God of any sort, but nor would I call myself an Atheist. Atheism is a reaction to religion. Atheists renounce religion, and with good reason, I think, but I’m not about to deny the existence of a force greater than myself in the Universe when science makes it so plainly evident.
Anyone who accepts Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity, buys the basic premise of Darwin’s Origin of Species, and can agree on a definition of “organism” would have a hard time arguing against the existence of, if not God, then at least something like God, or something that might have been called God for a very long time, for lack of a better word. I don’t have a better word either, but if you have a moment, and don’t mind stretching your mind a bit, I’ll introduce you, and you can decide for yourself what to call it.
We’ll start with the hardest thing to get your mind around: Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity. Everyone recognizes the formula E=MCsquared, and knows that atoms are packed with energy, and that’s why we can build nuclear bombs.
That’s not the really interesting thing about relativity. The really interesting thing about General Relativity is that it demonstrated that space and time only exist in relation to an observer.
Einstein wasn’t the first person to figure this out, by the way, the first physicist, perhaps, but not the first person. Immanuel Kant deduced the same thing, about 200yrs ago, logically, based on the a-priori nature of math and geometry. Einstein did the math and geometry and arrived at the same conclusion.
If you want to check Einstein’s math on this, you are welcome to do so. I know I’m not up to it, but I have read Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason, and it seems like an airtight case to me.
This is a very different way to think about space and time than we are used to. To us, space and time appear unified, inexorable and absolute. We think of ourselves as inhabiting space, and passing through time.
I live in Ettersburg, East of Shelter Cove, South of Eureka and West of Garberville, I’ve lived here since the turn of the 21st Century. That is how I would ordinarily orient myself in space and time. Abe Lincoln, on the other hand, lived in Washington, DC during the 1860′s. So, it appears as though Abe Lincoln and I are separated by space, some 3,000 miles, give or take, and by time, 150 years or so.
General Relativity tells us that we don’t inhabit space and time so much as space and time inhabit us. In other words, I live in a very special place called “here” at a time called “now”, and in my experience, Abe Lincoln is a character from the distant past. During his life, Abe Lincoln also lived in a place called “here” at a time called “now”, but in his experience, I did not exist at all.
Abe Lincoln and I both perceive space and time, as the central character in our own experience of here and now, but the idea of a larger space and time in which we both exist at different times, and in different places, is just that, an idea. Ideas, like space and time themselves, do not exist outside of our perception of them. That’s what Kant and Einstein told us.
Space and time only exist within observers. That’s not how the world looks to us, and we cannot even imagine what existence outside of space and time is like, but that’s how it is, and that’s where we live. Still don’t believe me, take it up with Einstein or Kant. I recommend Kant’s The Prolegamena to Any Future Metaphysics for a good first step. If you’re still with me, try to stretch your mind around that for a moment.
You can’t really comprehend anything outside of space and time, but that is where you live, weird as it seems. You secrete space and time in order to make sense of your experience, and you build a concept of the world based on what you experience. So, space and time, as well as a concept of the world, in which you, and every other creature on Earth, inhabit space and time, only exist in relation to the observer who experiences them, namely, you.
OK, that’s the hard part. Let’s take the definition of “organism” next:
An organism is a complex system of interdependent parts, such that the structure and function of each part is determined by it’s function within the whole, and the whole of an organism is always greater than the sum of its parts.
That seems pretty straight forward to me. A cell is made of many parts, but they all function together as one organism. Many cells can function together to form a larger organism, like a plant or an animal. Many organisms can function together to form a still larger organism, such as an ecosystem. Organisms are not objects, nor are they machines. Organisms are alive. Organisms live.
And finally, What’s the gist of Darwin’s Origin of Species?
In the tiniest nutshell, I would say that the crux of Darwin’s biscuit is that all of the organisms that have ever existed on Planet Earth, are related to each other. Does that sound right? There’s a lot more to biological evolution than that, but for our purposes, that’s enough.
Now, imagine all of the organisms that exist on Earth now, and have ever existed in all of history. Imagine the 7 Billion+ humans living now, plus every human who has ever lived, all of their pets, all of their livestock, all of their ancestors, all of the wild animals that have ever lived, all of the dinosaurs, every fish, bird, insect, plant, and mushroom, and don’t forget all of the tiny microscopic organisms like yeast, protozoa, and bacterium. Don’t leave anyone out.
All of those organisms, Darwin would expect us to believe, are related, by birth, to every other organism, including those of you now reading this essay. Now go ahead and throw in all of the organisms that will exist in the future, even though we have no idea what they will look like or how many of them to expect. We’re talking about a lot of organisms now.
What separates this collection of individual organisms from each other? The answer is space and time, of course. Some of these organisms come from the past, others from the present, still others from the future. Some come from Africa, others from Asia and still others from Australia, and so on. No two organisms can occupy the same space and time. This you remember from geometry, and it corresponds to your experience of space and time in the real world. So, all of these organisms, though related, remain separated by their positions in space and time.
What were we just saying about space and time? We went over how Einstein demonstrated that Kant was right when he deduced that space and time do not exist outside of the observer who perceives them. What does that mean for all of those organisms? It means that outside of our perceptions, all of those organisms are not separated. Outside of space and time, where perceiving organisms actually exist, all life on Earth remains undivided. In other words, every organism on Earth, past, present and future, are, in some incomprehensible, but very real way, parts of a single organism, that exists outside of space and time.
What did we just say about organisms? “An organism is a complex system of interdependent parts, such that the structure and function of each part is determined by it’s function within the whole, and the whole of an organism is always greater than the sum of its parts.”
So I ask you, “What would you call an organism made up of every single organism on Earth, such that the structure and function of every single organism on Earth was determined by it’s function within the whole, and the whole of that organism was even greater than the sum of its parts?”
Thanks to Kant, Darwin and Einstein, we know this organism exists. Without it, we wouldn’t exist. We know that we are a part of it, but what should we call it? Gaia?, The Big Organism?, God?, Bruce? Does it matter what we call it? You are never going to mistake it for anything else, and you’re never going to be able to talk about it any more coherently than this, so maybe it’s best not to call it anything. Still, I don’t think it makes sense to pretend that it doesn’t exist.
In fact, I don’t understand why we don’t teach this in schools. The Critique of Pure Reason has been around for over 200 years. General Relativity has been around for most of a century. We teach evolution, and we teach relativity, at least to the degree that most teachers understand it, but but they never quite put it together. Instead, they teach that civilization, the economy and the “rule of law” is what unites us …against the rest of nature.