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By: sp34n119w , 10:40 PM GMT on January 05, 2012

When I was in High School I was required to read short passages from Homer's Iliad and Odyssey. I don't remember much discussion about those passages, or even which bits we were to read, but I do remember being disappointed with the teacher's brief treatment. I read the Iliad and Odyssey in their entirety for my own sake, because I enjoyed myths and legends, and was glad I did. What I remember from those stories is the action scenes - monsters and gods and heroes – in part because they have been reinforced in the years since, through pop culture.

Several weeks ago, one of the catalogs I received from The Teaching Company featured deeply discounted lecture series on each of those tales and I couldn't resist. I bought them both and then realized that, after about thirty years, I didn't actually remember the details of those stories. So, off to gutenberg.org to find them. I had decided to start with the Odyssey even though that story takes place after the Iliad and, as it turned out, the wonderful volunteers for gutenberg.org have created an audiobook of Samuel Butler's translation of the Odyssey (not the best, maybe, but, it'll do). I listened to that first and then watched the lecture series.

Interestingly, as much as I again enjoyed the stories of derring-do, what struck me this time (and was completely ignored by my 15-year-old self) was the social interactions between Odysseus and those he encountered, along with the other characters, and the cultural norms that were illustrated by those interactions. They were odd, to say the least, and I thought them an invention, or an idealization, of Homer (whoever that was, or wasn't).

This is the value of experts. The lecturer, Professor Elizabeth Vandiver, has much more knowledge of the ancient Greek culture than I do, through the long study of other literature and art through the 20 or 30 centuries between Homer and me. She has context that I lack for interpreting the action in the Odyssey. Some of what I found strange and unlikely was, in fact, quite normal and natural for the people of the time, and made sense when considering the economic and political realities of small groups of people trying to function as a society, there at the beginning of civilization. In fact, I feel that this study provides insights into some current societies.

I'm thinking that middle age brings a different sensibility to these things.

Steeping myself in ancient Greek thought and mores has brought me back around to my general interest in ancient gods, myths, and legends, that never really goes away. This brings us to Janus, for whom the month of January is named.

Janus was Roman, of course, not Greek. So many of the Roman gods have analogs in Greek mythology (and there are analogs in cultures all around the Mediterranean Sea and beyond, of course, and most Greek gods are borrowed from previous or contemporaneous cultures ... I digress) that I assumed that Janus did, as well. That turns out not to be so. Though there are analogs for Janus in function, he seems to be a purely Roman construct, and likely predates even any concept of “Roman”, as we think of it. The two-faced god, god of doors and harbors and beginnings and endings, who sees the past and the future simultaneously, is truly ancient, yet lives in all times and all places …

OMFSM! Janus is The Doctor!!!


Swirl Dancing:

For the bigger picture, have a look at the NE Pac WVloop.

The Clouds of Janus:

It Will Rain It Will Rain It Will Rain:

The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

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A third party just exploited a loophole for web videos in the Warren-Scott deal. :^/

Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
LC - thanks for bringing that anlysis of the perils of electronic voting. I like the comparison to shopping online because I think many folks don't know how dangerous that really is. I will note that I do a lot of shopping online, anyway.

I saw Elizabeth Warren on tv a few days ago talking about the Citizens United decision and the possibility of an amendment to fix that. I guess the consensus is that that is the only way to do so and yet she seems reluctant to consider that option. Apparently, she and Scott Brown signed some sort of pledge to donate to charity some amount of money if outside interests spent ad money in their own favor, or something, and asked that interest groups not do that. She seems to think that politicians have control over that, individually, or can exert influence, and should. This is, of course, not true. The whole enterprise has taken on a life of its own - and there is a ton of money to be made.

It now occurs to me that we already have rapid response capabilities. We can call or email our elected officials at any time, on any matter.

Ylee - thanks! I'm feeling less idiotic today ;)
And thanks for chiming in!

Bogon - well, good! LOL
Stay ever vigilant - we are all depending on each other to do so. That's what kinda sucks about Democracy.

The weird thing is, it's difficult to catch election fraud even now. It's also hard to follow election fraud stories because they take so long to play out, and even reporters get tired of following them.
I was just searching for an old story of election problems here in my little town and found only one story from about halfway through the saga. It was years before that all ended (with a bit of a whimper, as it happens) though it was big news here while it was going on and people do remember.

The good news is, most of the folks in charge of vote-counting and other election-related work are just like the rest of us - good people who take their jobs seriously and work to do those jobs well.


I know. It's February. This blog is named for January. Tough! ;)

I've got warm days coming up and am trying to get caught up on inside work so I can play in the sun. Can you blame me?

Happy Wednesday!

Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Geez, you guys make me wonder how in the world we manage to stage a proper election now.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
55. Ylee
Hi, sp! I agree with LC. The stakes for secure voting are exponentially higher than banking. What if the elections were rigged, and stooges planted by the election manipulators won? A lot worse than someone emptying my bank account!

Idiot? Nah, you're no idiot! :)
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
IMHO the answer starts major with campaign finance reforms.

There it is. Truth.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
It is the last day of January! That means I have to change the blog, LOL
Where does the time go?
Don't answer that ;)


Karen - I definitely think that as long as sport is low-pressure it's really good for even little kids to get involved. They learn physical skills, improving strength and coordination, and also (hopefully) teamwork. Plus, it's fun! :)
I am concerned about summer, too. A winter like this could mean another cold and gray summer and much whining from this corner ;)

Bogon - Oh, now I get you, I think. You mean regular real-time polling of the populace. I don't like that idea at all, sorry to say. Popular polls don't tell us anything about the thinking in the general population (not saying that regular voting does, either, btw). Polls need to be random and controlled and statistically analyzed to be of any use, imo, and are suspect even so.

One would think that, if the poll goes out to everyone, you'd get a random response that would stand in for all, but I think that the results of popular polls are limited by who cares about the issue, who sees the poll, who is willing to answer a poll (many don't, on principle), whether they vote honestly or for the purpose of skewing the poll (there is a blogger who has been known to notify his readers of stupid polls for that express purpose), and whether it is worded in such a way that folks are all clear on its meaning (and get the same meaning), among other things. Way too much selection bias in those polls, along with great potential for misunderstandings.

Then, too, there is the issue of majority rule on issues that ought not be decided that way, as Booker points out in that video.

So, maybe we wouldn't put civil rights issues, or criminal issues, in such poll. What, then? Tax plans? Trade agreements? Military aid to Egypt? FDA regulations?

Representatives, in theory, have time to sort these things out - study details, consider consequences, consult experts, and so forth. That's their job. The rest of us have our own jobs to do which preclude acquiring deep understanding of most issues.

So, that's me riffing on your brainstorm, which generated many random thoughts to be put to pixels - most of which have been removed. How good am I? lol

Maybe I'm still not understanding - that would hardly be unusual! LOL
Do you have an example of what sorts of things should be put to a quick poll? And how that would help keep politicians honest?

And I would like to hear what others think!
Would Bogon's idea work and make a positive difference?


If anyone is interested enough to answer the questions or to comment on what an idiot I am ... or, you know, whatever ... I'll move them to the February blog. When I create a February blog, that is ;)

Guess I'm feeling the idiot, despite having been quite productive and unusually clever as I went about my business today and yesterday (if I do say so myself!).
Also, my nightmare did not come true, LOL

Oh, I know why, I guess. I went lurking about the wublogs this morning - very enjoyable, lots of laughs and thoughts, happiness for tod's pup - all that and more - and found I had nothing to contribute. So my idiocy is specific to wu. Ah, well. I made up for it here. In number of words, anyway :-/

Happy (late) Tuesday!


Okay I see LC has weighed in (about time, too, sez I) and I'll have to come back for that!
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
I think all here would like to see public officials more responsive to the public will. Rapid feedback by the voting public certainly has an effect. However

If I can shop and bank online, why can't I vote online?

David Jefferson
Computer Scientist, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Board Chairman, Verified Voting Foundation
Board of Directors, California Voter Foundation
.... computer and network security experts are virtually unanimous in pointing out that
online voting is an exceedingly dangerous threat to the integrity of U.S. elections. There is no way to
guarantee that the security, privacy, and transparency requirements for elections can all be met with
any practical technology in the foreseeable future. Anyone from a disaffected misfit individual to a
national intelligence agency can remotely attack an online election, modifying or filtering ballots in
ways that are undetectable and uncorrectable, or just disrupting the election and creating havoc.
There are a host of such attacks that can be used singly or in combination. In the cyber security
world today almost all of the advantages are with attackers, and any of these attacks can result in the
wrong persons being elected, or initiatives wrongly passed or rejected.
1. It is not actually "safe" to conduct ecommerce transactions online. It is in fact very risky, and
more so every day. Essentially all those risks apply equally to online voting transactions.

2. The technical security, privacy, and transparency requirements for voting are structurally
different from, and actually much more stringent than, those for ecommerce transactions. Even
if ecommerce transactions were safe, the security technology underpinning them would not
suffice for voting. In particular, the voting security and privacy requirements are unique and in
tension in a way that has no analog in the ecommerce world.
IMHO the answer starts with major campaign finance reforms.

Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
51. SBKaren
2:05 AM GMT on January 31, 2012
It did cool down today didn't it? This morning looked more promising than the afternoon turned out to be!

I hope the boys like basketball. I think it's a fun game, with non-stop action. They just need to be more familiar with it to truly enjoy it. They are in a rec league, so they are exposed to different sports about every 8 weeks. Never really enough time to get deep into the sport, but basically an introduction to see what might eventually appeal to them. I think they will eventually go with soccer, although they liked T-ball too.

Another warm up later this week. I am enjoying this weather, but like you, I know we need more rain. I don't know if I should be scared of our summer, or look forward to it, since it seems like we're getting it now!
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
50. Bogon
10:29 PM GMT on January 30, 2012
sp, the problems we've mentioned are serious, but depending on how we define the rules of the game, they need not be game stoppers.

In some situations there will be huge incentive for unscrupulous parties to subvert the voting process. That's true today, and it will be true in the future, regardless of the technology employed. Technically speaking, we can try to make election fraud difficult. We carefully identify each voter to determine that he is eligible to vote. We take pains to make sure that each legal vote gets counted and that illegal votes are never cast. The procedures and technology should be as simple, open and transparent as possible. Each stage of the process should be monitored by representatives of all interested parties. There should be redundant verification (which is the purpose of a paper trail). If the power goes off, it should still be possible to reconstruct the election results.

Well-designed encryption should guarantee that traffic on the internet is immune to tampering. Internet traffic consists of packets, and encrypted packets could be anything. There is nothing about them that says they are carrying votes. Only at the endpoints, the source and destination, are the packets readable. Thus we have to worry about physical security of the voter and at the places where the votes are collected and counted.

There are surely many ways to set up a system to tolerate service outages and to minimize the incentive to tamper with results. Our Congress has rules about what constitutes a quorum, and a quorum is necessary to pass a bill. You could have similar rules for on-line voting. If the whole system goes down, everybody would have to wait until it gets fixed or reverts to a backup system.

To me, the point of an on-line system would be to solicit rapid feedback from the electorate. Thus a poll would happen quickly. Everybody has a minute to press a button. In case of technical glitches it could be repeated just as quickly. The goal would not necessarily be to conduct a general election or poll every citizen, but only those citizens who are on-line and paying attention at any given time. It would operate 24/7. It would prevent a small group of people in a dark room from subverting the processes of government. It would act to keep politicians honest. It could break deadlocks. It would ensure that all points of view are considered. Hopefully it brings more eyes and more brains to bear in service of good governance.

I'm just brainstorming here. Probably somebody else's turn now. :o)
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
49. sp34n119w
8:28 PM GMT on January 30, 2012
Yesterday was a perfect spring day, LOL
Warm, sunny, and not so windy. So, I played :)
Today has lots of at-the-computer work so I'm not too bummed that the temp has dropped into the 60's (like that's cold in winter!). Supposed to warm up again in a few days.
I know - we need rain. I know, okay? But, I can't do anything about that, so I'm going to enjoy what is here as much as I can :)


Bogon - I guess I'm a bit of a Luddite, in this regard. I would worry about access; about mysteriously dropped service in, perhaps, certain areas only on voting day; and about general security. Even the on-site electronic voting machines have been unreliable and, with no paper trail, it's hard to prove what went wrong and who was responsible. Still, I'm willing to take your word for it that it can be done, as I don't have the technical knowledge that you have.

I read that Australia has mandatory voting and those who don't vote pay a (small) fine. Thus, they have a 98% turnout. I think we have, what, 40%? How can you have a government "by the people, for the people" when the people don't vote? But, Americans have been convinced (by politicians who don't want to be watched or managed, I'm thinking) that their vote doesn't count and government doesn't listen. Well, a vote doesn't count if it isn't cast and they can't hear the silent.

Haldeman's idea is a good one, with some refinements, I think. I could write a whole blog entry on that, LOL
I'd posted that before but it's been years. Glad I remembered as I thought you'd like it!

Basic literacy is required for voting in person, no less than mail-in, isn't it? The ballots are identical.

If people use the internet to monitor government, that's great. How many use it to monitor celebrities, instead? ;)

BC - Booker is a good guy, overall, for sure. Mayors and Governors have a lot more leeway in what they can say than national politicians.
I don't know why it has taken so long to frame Gay Rights as Civil Rights in public discourse. It is so obvious, and Booker does a great job there of drawing the parallels.


I had a nightmare of sorts last night. In real life, I have an important appointment this evening. In my nightmare it was 11PM Monday night before I realized that I'd missed the appointment entirely! Oh, it was awful. I felt so bad and was considering texting the person I'm meeting with, even that late, to apologize. I kind of woke up but thinking that it was Tuesday and that the dream was real. Eventually I realized, by a monumental effort to cut through early morning fuzzy-headedness, that today is Monday and I have not yet missed the appointment. Whew!
Why did I have this nightmare? Because I am not properly prepared for the meeting, that's why.

Bye! :)
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
48. Bogon
8:21 PM GMT on January 29, 2012
BriarCraft, one can argue that the requirement for literacy is a kind of poll tax. You have to be able to read to vote by mail.

Also, the internet system we have now is pay to play, but that need not be true for a public voting facility. For instance, we might follow United Nations guidance and declare that an internet connection is a fundamental human right, and that therefore some effort must be made to provide access for people who cannot afford it.

The internet makes possible continuous real-time public oversight of government. I think that is an idea worth pursuing.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
47. BriarCraft
7:39 PM GMT on January 29, 2012
I really enjoyed the Cory Booker video. I've been a Booker fan since the first time I saw him speak on TV (60 Minutes or something like that). The man is smart, loaded with common sense, and not afraid to tell it like he sees it. In that video, he had the best answer yet for the whole gay rights issue, along with a whole lot of other issues. He's removed it from religious argument and put it where it properly goes, into a civil rights matter and the 14th Amendment was made into law many years ago. So why are today's politicians and other nuts still arguing about it?

And "We, the People" story had a fun and interesting concept.

Side note on internet voting discussion. In Washington and Oregon, we all vote by mail. No one has to go to a polling place. We don't receive a ballot unless we're properly registered. We have at least two weeks to study the ballot issues/candidates. And no one needs to be tech savvy or connected. I submit that an internet connection requirement for voting would be a type of poll tax in that only those folks with the money to be connected get to vote. Pretty much everyone can afford a black ball point pen and a postage stamp. And there's always to option to drop off the completed ballot at the county auditor's office. Easier for everyone and saves tax dollars, too.

Have a great week and happy knitting!
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
46. Bogon
7:04 PM GMT on January 29, 2012
sp, I just read Haldeman's story. I liked it. What's not to like? :o)

The story illustrates that there is a continuum of possible choices, whereby the people of the United States cede more or less control of their government to intermediaries. Since voters are nominally in charge, they can presumably set things up however the majority wills.

I imagine that it would take time to work out a system that a majority could agree on. It might be that we would use the on-line system only for unofficial polls, a quick assessment of "the will of the people". We have that now, actually, but it's an informal ad hoc system. If we go farther -- if we actually pass laws, allocate budget etc. -- we might want to make rules about what constitutes a quorum (both geographically and as a percentage of total population), or whether we might be prepared to allow some questions to be decided by a small group of interested parties.

It may be that the practice of on-line voting will grow from the grassroots up. Certainly on the level of individual neighborhoods and towns, we are wired right now.

There's obviously a lot to think about on the social side. To the extent that I can claim any expertise, it's mostly on the technical side.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
45. Bogon
12:27 PM GMT on January 29, 2012
One technical note: the act of voting per se should not require a lot of bandwidth. Bandwidth might come in handy for purposes of staying informed, although there are other established media channels, e. g. broadcast and print, available even in rural areas.

Broadband internet connectivity has been slow to extend into rural areas, because we depend on commercial enterprises to provide the service, and providing rural service is not an attractive economic proposition. Cities get all the best service, because a company can enroll a lot of customers by installing a short line. People who live in remotest Alaska are not likely to get good (wired) internet service any time soon. For purposes of voting, however, broadcast (cell phone, wifi etc.) service would suffice.

It might be worthwhile to point out that universal suffrage is an ideal. We assume that many people will make an effort to get to the polls. Some people won't be able to make it. Some people will choose to stay home. That is the case now, with paper ballots or voting machines. In practice the electorate is self-selecting. It would continue to work that way with on-line voting. Some people would never install the app.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
44. sp34n119w
12:37 AM GMT on January 29, 2012
Oh you provided me a reason to wander the 'tubes, Bogon - thanks! :)
I had been curious about current info on internet accessibility, anyway, and the Prez' speech the other night, and now your comment, made me more curious, so I actually got around to looking it up.

The pfft of all knowledge says:
Based on a survey conducted by the United States Census Bureau in 2009 (N=50,000, unit: household), people with high incomes, those who are younger, more highly-educated, Asians and Whites, and the employed, have higher rates of broadband use at home. People with low incomes, minorities, seniors, the less-educated, and the non-employed tend to have lower rates of broadband use at home. Besides, there are rural/urban differences as well. People in rural areas are less likely to adopt the Internet.[12]
According to NTIA (2011),[13] almost one-third of American households still lack a broadband connection. “The rates for White (68%) and Asian non-Hispanics (69%) exceed those for Black non-Hispanics (50%) and Hispanics (45%) by 18 percentage points or more. Rural America lags behind urban areas by ten percentage points (60% versus 70%).”

So we aren't there, yet, and the perenially under-represented would be, still. In my wanderings I did see many proposals for universal access to broadband. I thought Obama was just being populist in his speech but, evidently, plans are afoot.

Personally, I like representative government. I don't have time or expertise to understand everything that requires some level of government approval.
There is the problem of "mob rule" in a straight democracy. Not really into that (ref. Mr. Booker, there).

Have you ever read the scifi (very) short story "We, The People" be Jack Haldeman? Things are more complicated than that but I like the idea in principle.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
43. Bogon
9:54 PM GMT on January 28, 2012
I'm talking about voting on-line. There are serious problems yet to be solved with that, such as identification and security, but the biggest problem, the basic hookup for two-way data, is already a done deal for many of us. I don't think the remaining problems are likely to prove insoluble, if we, as a society, decide this is something we ought to do.

Will ordinary citizens have enough free time and be sufficiently well informed and motivated to put politicians out of business? It may never happen, but, if it doesn't, it won't be for technical reasons. The technology is there, waiting to make our democracy increasingly participatory.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
42. sp34n119w
8:39 PM GMT on January 28, 2012
Oooooo it's wiiiiiindy!
Very loud night and still 65 degrees at 2 AM.
Crazy, man. Crazy.

calpoppy - yeah, a 2.8! I saw that on WU but didn't feel it. Neither did anyone else I know in SP. Seems to have been felt to the east of us. Weird, huh?
The wind gusts are shaking the house, though!

Bogon - maybe because it's Saturday, I'm not following - but I'd like to if you can elaborate!


Mayor Booker! Really clear argument here -

Too bad he's stuck in Newark ;)


Oh did you see that Epstein died? The actor who played Juan Epstein on "Welcome Back Kotter", that is. Only 60 years old :( He was my favorite sweathog.


I think I have figured out why knitters often have so many projects going at once. Sometimes it gets boring - like when you have 17 inches of stockinette to knit for the front of a sweater, and then there's going to be the back, and the sleeves ... kinda dull. So I went through the yarn I bought a couple months ago to try out and pulled out the cotton to make a dishcloth. A little something to break the monotony that is stockinette. I will finish the sweater, though. I'm not going to be one of those knitters!
Oh lordy I hope I'm not going to be one of those knitters!!!
I can't be. I don't have the storage space. I'd have to get rid of books and that ain't happenin'.
Somebody help!


Happy Saturday!
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
41. Bogon
6:19 AM GMT on January 28, 2012
Far be it from me to indict our system of representative democracy, but it seems to me that we are rapidly approaching a point when we will have the technology to cut out the middle men. We might see a time not too distant when you can sit in your living room and vote directly on a question of morality.

No politicians required.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
40. calpoppy
4:24 AM GMT on January 28, 2012
You had an earthquake!
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
39. sp34n119w
9:27 PM GMT on January 27, 2012
Bogon - well, you can never tell what is in someone's head and heart. We can only go by what they say and do, and whether those things sync up.

I've heard it said that the best predictor of future performance is past performance so, yeah, a voter can check voting records and other activities of any candidate, down to the local level, and see if those coincide with what the voter thinks is moral behavior. That might not be the be-all and end-all of the decision making process but it isn't a bad place to start, imo.


Very windy and dry and fairly warm today. Totally cloudy this morning but sunshine now. It's always weird when there are thick, high clouds going one way while the wind is going another.
Gusts to 38mph by the river and 27mph at the high school. Temps at 74 and 78 degrees, respectively.
Another couple of warm days over the weekend and then it cools back down to 'normal' on Monday. All good :)
As long as nobody starts a fire, of course.


Forgot to post this bit of random -
Why We Enjoy Experiences More Than Material Things


Somewhat relatedly, I've started reading a book titled, "Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture" by Ellen Ruppel Shell, and am finding it enlightening and frustrating. I wasn't going to read it but it was recommended by two people who know me well enough to know what I like and whose opinions I trust. Plus, one read to me from the book and it did sound like I'd get new info and insight. Such is the case so I'm passing it along.


Happy weekend :)
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
38. Bogon
5:38 AM GMT on January 27, 2012
To "vote on moral issues" sounds fine. The only difficulty is that you won't find moral issues listed on the ballot, only candidates. Thus the sole choice you face when voting is between this bastard and that bugger.

In theory it would be possible to track down, for each candidate, such data as his voting record and his personal performance with respect to various moral questions of interest. That turns out not to be a trivial exercise. When it comes to elections, the media are full of hype and image making. Those sorts of communication are worthless for ordinary purposes such as comparing apples to apples.

Unfortunately the most useful information one could have in hand as one enters the polling place, namely each candidate's future performance record, is universally unobtainable. For that we just have to wait and see what happens. Talk about random...
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
37. sp34n119w
4:13 AM GMT on January 27, 2012
Beautiful day today - very warm! Summer in winter for a few days :) The moon and Venus and Jupiter are brightbrightbright tonight!

gg - not only is that totally awesome - the tee and the story behind it - but it sent me off looking for it and I found other cool stuff, too!
I may have to buy one or two of those shirts for the radical militant librarians I know ;)

WTS - that made me laugh! Librarians can be a bit, um, militant about quiet, too.
Actually, at my public library, I often wish they were a little more "quiet and shoosh"!

I've got a good feeling about February rain ... not that that means anything, LOL

LC - nice find! Thanks for bringing it by. I am making an effort to keep my comments to myself at least until other folks get to watch it, if they want to. Aren't I good? LOL

Hey, I never saw a rain report from you! Join the fun of counting drops! ;)


So, interesting that LC brought that because it sort of relates to something I found at the site that sells those t-shirts that gg brought and that relates to something I'd considered blogging about, perhaps in a comment. So, here it will be.

I heard something on tv (I think it was tv because I only heard a snippet and that usually happens with tv as I'm walking through the room that has the tv on but I'm not sure - it may have been elsewhere) several days ago that got me thinking. Someone was saying (no, I really don't remember and it isn't important right now, okay?) that the word "moral" has been co-opted and narrowly redefined by one group of people who seem to have, over the decades, managed to get that definition to stick in the public's mind through constant repitition. Their definition includes only sexual morality and then only as they see it. This goes back to the "moral majority" (who were neither) folks in the 80's, of course.

But, that is not the sum total of morality, is it? I mean, there are other issues that have usually been included in discussions of morality, but, not with these folk and no longer in public discourse. So, I was going to write about that. Then, at the site that sells the t-shirts, I found this bumper sticker which says pretty much what I wanted to say in 13 words.
[WU knows I could never do that. I can't even point you to it without writing an essay. I have no future in writing bumper stickers.]

What would happen if people gave morality more thought? What if people talked about all moral issues? What would happen if people voted based on moral issues?
Well, that's what I've been thinking about ... not for the first time, you'll not be surprised to hear, but triggered by the way whoever that was said whatever he said, reinforced by the random find of that bumper sticker.


That's my rambling for tonight.
Thanks to BriarCraft and her blog buddies I've got a hankering to play a game so am off to find a challenger :)
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
36. LowerCal
11:14 PM GMT on January 26, 2012

Paul Zak: Trust, morality -- and oxytocin | Video on TED.com
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
35. WatchinTheSky
10:59 PM GMT on January 26, 2012
ooohhh - those librarians, being all quiet and shooossh!

I'm thinking this January weather we are enjoying will last through Feb - now we have a 'Fire Weather Warning' for even drier (can't be any sunnier) conditions. We have barely a third of normal rain for Jan with none on the horizon.

Shore's video was cool, the patience to do stop motion is amazing to me.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
34. GardenGrrl
3:01 AM GMT on January 25, 2012
Speaking of 4th Amendment

The latin saying translates; "We know what your reading and we aren't telling".

This shirt came about from an FBI memo that stated that the reason NY agents were not finding any terrorists was because all their efforts were being thwarted by "Radical Militant Librarians".

Apparently the librarians would not allow the FBI to access peoples library records without a warrant.
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33. sp34n119w
1:34 AM GMT on January 24, 2012
More rain. Some sun.
Pretty sky. I'm done.


I just watched a video, 30 Renowned Writers Speak About God, and found it interesting. So, I bring it here.
I've watched a few of that youtuber's other videos. He puts so much work into them. It's quite impressive.
Two things to note:
In this video, most of the writers are atheists/agnostics/humanists/[insert evil-person label here].
The video is a little long - 25:40 - but there are thirty of them, after all. Each is brief.

Oh, third thing - funnily enough, Iain Banks (mentioned in my comment above) is in there. Honest, just found the vid today, via a post at WEIT yesterday.

There is a list of the writers shown in the description.

There. Random. As it should be ;)
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32. sp34n119w
6:50 PM GMT on January 23, 2012
Hah! That's wonderful, shore!
******** saves the day!
(I don't want to spoil it either ;) )

What an interesting set-up, too. Kids these days have all the cool toys, lol


It's raining again. I'm not as excited as last time. Very wet outside. No sun.
Well, duh.

Less than half an inch so far and maybe more coming.


A rare unanimous decision by the SCOTUS and this one on privacy, GPS, and warrantless searches.
Go Fourth!

Law enforcement will find ways around that, or use the Patriot Act or the newer, broader, laws in the latest defense budget thingy. But, you know, it shows that even a politically divided court can agree on some portion of Constitution.
Perhaps they will serve as an example to Congress ... ? harhar


Happy Monday!
[hey i like mondays]
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31. shoreacres
4:22 AM GMT on January 23, 2012
There's a reason I brought this stop-animation done with a Nokia phone (!?!) over, but if I tell you it will spoil the surprise. It's just wonderful.

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30. sp34n119w
1:43 AM GMT on January 22, 2012
Hi Ylee! You're right - I went out to enjoy the sunshine and the sweater is still there ;) Good advice!
Are you going to make a pinhole camera? Glad you found the link. I have apod on my set of homepage tabs (whatever that's called) so I don't miss it.
I have become too good at ignoring my RSS feed, LOL!


I've spent the last little while wandering youtube.

I heard this song on the radio three times in the last week. I thought of posting a link to it at gg's but it's a very sad song.
This morning I was reading about the results of the elections in Egypt and the song started running through my mind. So, I'll post it here, and hope that'll get it out.

A comment on one of the versions of the tune said something like "You can't listen to this song without singing out ZO HOM BIE at least once" and it is hard not to, LOL

Happy Saturday night! :)
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29. Ylee
8:52 PM GMT on January 21, 2012
Hi, sp! I usually check out APOD via RSS at home, but I missed it this morning. How neat is that photo? Didn't know you could do that!

Glad you got some rain!

You know, that sweater ain't going nowhere.... :)
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28. sp34n119w
7:31 PM GMT on January 21, 2012
Eight tenths! Woohoo!
The sun is out and everything is shiny :)

Temperature stayed above 50 degrees overnight and it's nearly 60 now.
Some chance of rain for Sunday/Monday night, I guess.
Warm and dry by Wednesday!
Rocking horse rocks.


Today's apod is soooooo coooooooool.
I followed the link to the camera. I'm not sure I'd have the patience, LOL, but it's definitely easy!


I have no real plans today and thought I might work on the sweater. I don't know ... it's all sunny and pretty out there ... :)
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27. sp34n119w
7:47 AM GMT on January 21, 2012

Which is weird because there ain't nothin' on radar, and yet ...


'k. done sharing. nites.
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26. sp34n119w
2:29 AM GMT on January 20, 2012
Hey! We have a 100% chance of rain Saturday! That's pretty nice :)
You can see it starting up there around the Bay area and heading this way. One quarter to half an inch is all that's forecast for us. Just about perfect!


calpoppy - maybe the pattern change will bring Kodiak some relief. Then again, it IS Alaska ;)
Forget getting work done - your day trip looks like much more fun :)

BC - So, Pull then Push to open a friendship window? Okay ...
I have no idea what that means! LOL
Thanks for the laugh :)

Sorry about your headache :( I get those, too, usually with the first Santa Ana event of the year. Been pretty good this year, knock wood.
I hope the weather settles to normal so your sinuses can, too!


I accidentally ran across some good news today ... where was it ... oh, just this -

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled in Mims v. Arrow Financial Services that consumers injured by violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), which outlaws abusive telemarketing practices, may bring lawsuits in federal courts as well as state courts. Public Citizen represented Marcus Mims, the successful plaintiff in the case. The court’s opinion, written by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, accepts without reservation all of the arguments we made in support of his right to choose a federal court to assert his claims.

That links to the press release and it's brief and worth reading. I didn't even know that half the calls I get are illegal! I ought to go read that old law. Anyway, that's a pretty big win for consumers, to be able to argue in Federal court.


Probably going to avoid wu tonight and get some work done ... after being a wee little bit lazy today ... well, it's going to rain, see, and it was sunny this morning, you know, and sorta warm, um ... okay. A lot lazy ;)
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25. BriarCraft
5:50 PM GMT on January 19, 2012
Just a bit of useless trivia from Engrish Funny to add some silliness to your day. I've had a sinus headache for the past two days from the rapid weather changes in my neck of the woods, so I'm not capable of profound thought today. >8^] Where's Doctor Janus when you need him?

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24. calpoppy
1:21 PM GMT on January 19, 2012
Alaska keeps on getting more snow as Kodiak got another foot of snow. At least with all this ' nice' weather we have been getting we are getting alot of work done.

I hope your good week continues.

Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
23. sp34n119w
8:31 AM GMT on January 19, 2012
LC - hi there stranger!
I don't know if that line has been used. A lot gets stuck in my head without my knowing it, LOL
Now that I think on it, it sounds to me more like an original DW-type storyline than a new one.

Hey, LC and Bogon - I didn't say not to talk about that. I won't ask you to remove your comments since they could, technically, be in response to BC's question of some 10 days ago. I think it's funny that you two are talking about trolls in my blog when you both make good use of wumail and oh, yeah, have your own blogs to chat in. And I now respectfully and formally request that you and all others keep mention of the ever-so-dull blog warriors out of my blog from this point forward. I mean, I'm sure it was all really really, in fact earth-shatteringly, important to those involved, because nothing could be more so, and I'm sure it's still going on at some level and will go on as they always go on and on and on, but, honestly, it's been weeks, now, hasn't it?
Thank you for your consideration.


Been a very good week, so far! :)

Tonight I got back to listening to the Iliad and I'm confused, LOL I'm on Book 8 and the situation seems to have gone through a complete flip from Book 7. May need to re-listen to 7. Or, maybe it just doesn't make sense! I should try reading those two, I suppose, and shouldn't let so much time lapse.


I read "Consider Phlebas" by Iain M. Banks in the meantime. It was on the Nook and I was stuck waiting and started and decided to finish. Meh. I love a long series but now am wondering if I want to read the rest. Anybody read the Culture books?


I suppose everyone's seen daddy gorilla taking the family to the zoo? It's been around a lot.
I find that incredibly moving and terrifying. More, too, but words fail me (I know!).


Gosh, I had a ton of random to put here and just couldn't get it done ... oh! Here's another sort of tangent to the tribe thing and I did not read the article referred to, nor have I followed up on the research in the links, so do tell if you think that's worth doing and I'll make the effort :) I think the blog essay is interesting in itself, though.


Weather. We're supposed to get some! Rain for the weekend, most likely Saturday, anyway. Not a soaker, by any means, but we'll all take what we can get and hope it is another sign of that pattern change everyone's been looking for.
I know BC got snow (hurray!) and that's a good sign, too.

Oh I just yawned. I almost never actually yawn when I'm tired. That's a sure sign that my head's about to make a pattern change on my pillow.
Yikes that was bad ... sorry ... g'nite and
Happy Thursday! :)
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22. LowerCal
9:33 PM GMT on January 18, 2012
Warner Brothers has already trademarked the obvious abbreviation.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
21. Bogon
3:04 PM GMT on January 18, 2012
Here's a hint. It rhymes with "heather hunker".

You can google for FLdewey.

Add: I do not in any way endorse the site. I just believe in freedom of information. You can't make good decisions without good information.

Add too: It's not altogether impossible to make a good decision based on bad or missing information, but it would be a random thing, and it would happen for the wrong reasons.
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20. LowerCal
12:35 AM GMT on January 18, 2012
"OMFSM! Janus is The Doctor!!!"

I love that line. It should be in a future episode... or maybe it was already a past episode...

Re. the DOOMCON tribe's new name: It is auto-filtered [by WU] from blog entries, comments and WUmail as a response to their [*eather *unker's] quest to gain subscribers by relentless spamming and attempts to disaffect WU members.

[Modifications for clarity.]
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19. sp34n119w
10:29 PM GMT on January 17, 2012
Hey there. I was just looking for something on Wikipedia and I see that they will be shutting down for 24 hours in protest against SOPA and PIPA, two bits of legislation that encompass the everlasting idea that the freedom of the few to make maximum amounts of money overrides the need for unencumbered access to information and Freedom of Speech for all.
If you didn't know, you might like to, so, now you do.
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18. sp34n119w
8:54 PM GMT on January 14, 2012
From the discussion:
For tonight and through Monday...
It should
definitely feel more winter-like (at least by Southern California
standards) Sunday and Monday.
Tuesday through Thursday will be rather quiet days
with some weak offshore winds and gradually warming temperatures
(climbing to slightly above normal levels by thursday).
Further out into the weekend...models indicate the potential for
some measurable rainfall across most areas at various times.
Admittedly...nothing looks to be a potential soaking rain...but
at least it should be something in the buckets. Stay tuned as we
draw closer to next weekend for further details.
[oh sure. will do.]

Cloudy here but high 60's for temp and still low humidity of about 20%.
Kind of a nice change in skyscape.

Just wanted to note the weather here.

Happy Saturday :)

Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
17. sp34n119w
11:54 PM GMT on January 10, 2012
Hey! Super busy here - don't let my absence stop anyone from chatting, if you want to :)

Bogon - we are looking back in time and forward in time. We are as close to on topic as my blog has ever been this far in!

gg - Now I'm going to have nightmares about Daleks in pink bunny slippers, LOL! Thanks :)


Hope to be back soooooooooon .....
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16. GardenGrrl
5:25 AM GMT on January 10, 2012

From imgur.com
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15. Bogon
3:42 PM GMT on January 09, 2012
Good morning, SP. My Monday was made a little happier by reading the Icthyphobia article. Sort of reminded me of Frank Herbert's Dune.

Whoa, eighty thousand words? You could create, like, a whole new blog entry with that! I don't know whether to be flattered or flabbergasted.

You're right, of course. "Unnatural selection" surely includes activities beyond genetic engineering. There's a whole universe of dog breeds, not to mention cats, horses, cattle, sheep, goats and camels that never would have existed without human intervention. Each time we pick a mate for ourselves, we're doing that manual selection thing. Nothing 'natural' about it. :o)

One of the books I'm reading is about feudal Japan. In that society it was common for parents to select mates for their children in order to, for example, cement a political or business alliance. One wonders what effects that practice might have had on human evolution.

On the technological side, there's another angle I didn't mention: the man/machine interface. Future humans are apt to be cyborgs. We're already building some amazing prostheses, and we're imagining so much more.

I feel that I owe an apology for straying so far from Janus and The Doctor. I surveyed what Wikipedia had to say about Janus. Not quite what I expected. As for the latest incarnation of Doctor Who, I confess I have not been a steady viewer. (But then, I'm hardly a regular viewer of anything on TV.) Didn't the Daleks stem from a race somewhat like ours?
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14. sp34n119w
8:44 AM GMT on January 09, 2012
I just wrote, like, 80,000 words. I don't want to post 80,000 words. Among my 80,000 words were some that comprise a note to myself, as follows:
“I bet if I thought about that in the morning, I could write it in three sentences”
and, while I think that's overly optimistic, I would like to try to whittle a bit.
So, I will post these words, for now …

First, something shiny for my peeps - Why don't Navajos eat fish? - which is a blog on an old paper about ... the obvious. And linguistics. Just for fun :)
Oh, I've just realized - it's on topic! LOL Honestly, I came across it by accident.

BC - good guesses! I wouldn't have known either with just that to go on. I asked somebody what happened and got the scoop awhile back. As much as I cared to know, anyway.
It looks to me like you learned a lot. Just not what you were after! Never know when that'll come in handy.

Yup, modern-day gladiators have their own tribes built around the fight, and so do I - my entire family are fans, lol

calpoppy - I should read E. O. Wilson. He's very smart. He is also prone to play a bit fast and loose with the data in that particular area, which is not exactly his specialty. Still worth reading, from what I've seen about it, and your recommendation adds to that impression. Thanks!
I really want to read more of his stuff on ants. He knows a LOT about ants and I find his writing and speaking on that topic riveting.

Ron Paul often makes sense to me. Then he keeps talking and ruins it.
Mitt and the rest say what they need to say to get money, either from campaign supporters or from book sales.

There's nothing wrong with your having a tv. You just need to learn how to tune it ;)

Interesting that the evil erstwhile wuers have not just been perma-banned but are now Those Who Must Not Be Named. Good on WU.

Bogon - being a Steelers fan is required of me. If, as a child, I had shown any inclination to root for another NFL team, I suspect I'd've been taken on a nice car ride to the desert and unfortunately "lost" there. Luckily, the early indoctrination held, for a change.

Not surprisingly, your comment prompted the rest of the 80,000 words, lol

For now I will note that humans have been the subject of unnatural selection since we started using tools and, especially, making fire. Currently, there are billions of humans on the planet as a direct result of just several decades of things like vaccines, antibiotics, and large-scale agriculture, who would not be here otherwise, and would not be passing on their genes to the next generation. We have absolutely changed the evolutionary game for ourselves (and for most other life on the planet) through technology in a way that no other species (so far as we know) has ever done. Whatever happens when we start tinkering directly with dna may actually pale in comparison, from an evolutionary standpoint.


I'm going to bed now.
Happy Monday! :)

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13. Bogon
2:11 AM GMT on January 09, 2012
Well, the Wild Cards are shuffled, and Pittsburg is not among them. SP, were you a follower of the Steeler totem? I hope you are not too distraught.

With respect to human model numbers, my remarks assume that cultural evolution can happen much faster than genetic evolution. Thus over the last century or three we have seen radical progress in technology. We can point to some gains in overall social and political structure as well, though those lessons have been learned the hard way. We're apt to forget them, too, because each generation must be taught civilization anew. We can always revert to cavemen, both as individuals and collectively.

The good news, if you want to call it that, is that we are on the cusp of being able to reinvent ourselves, genetically as well as culturally. In other words, from now on we humans are likely to be the beneficiaries of unnatural selection. Will we still be human at the end of that process? The Mark LIV model might not be something we would recognize or approve. Depending on how things go, it might not even be able to whip Mark I in a fair fight. The conditions for which it will be designed will surely be altogether different from those in which we evolved.

Calpoppy , thanks for the book reference. It surely couldn't hurt to inject some of E. O. Wilson's wisdom into the conversation. Trouble is, I'm all backed up on books right now. There's one I've been reading before bed. I got one for Christmas. A couple of people have handed me paperbacks, saying, "Hey, you've gotta read this!" Okay, maybe by next year. I'm not a fast reader. 8oJ
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12. sp34n119w
1:35 AM GMT on January 09, 2012
Well, that wasn't so bad. I expected a blowout, especially after Hampton and Kiesel went down.
Still need some recovery time, lol - be back later
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11. calpoppy
9:22 PM GMT on January 08, 2012
That is so strange, when I typed in the name of the new WU wanta be, it cuts it out! LOL!
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10. calpoppy
9:20 PM GMT on January 08, 2012
Hi! Doomcon was a title of a blog on WU, and now they have formed their own WU of sorts called . They were banned on many occasions on WU so they broke away. They were bloggers that would make fun of other bloggers on the main.

SP, I haven't read all the worm/allergy story yet. I guess it is a bit repugnant to me, LOL!

I agree with everything you all have said in your above comments and I recommend a book by E.O. Wilson called 'Consilience'. E.O. Wilson is a sociobioligist that has some very interesting theories as to why humans are of a religious nature, tribal and many other things.

The GOP debate is causing my brain to malfunction! Did Mit really say nothing all that makes any sense and did Ron Paul actually say things that made sense!!! And was Santorum sorta backtracking on his statements on gays. And Huntsman who is the only one I thought wasn't part of the Republicans who try to out do each other in conservatism and religious beliefs totally blow it with speaking Chinese to an audience that hates the Chinese. Maybe TV wasn't such a good idea, ignorance was sorta nice :)

Enjoy your week, SP!

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9. BriarCraft
8:26 PM GMT on January 08, 2012
Okay, I tried but failed to learn something new. I give up. What is DOOMCON? I googled it, read press releases, zipped over to InvaderCON.com and read that. I got that it's for fans of a....cartoon??? that used to be on Nickelodeon. Must be something for now-grown-up kids that used to watch it. But still, basically, I'm clueless on that subject. Oh well. Not all things are meant to be understood by geezers -- meaning that the shoe is now on the other foot in terms of the Generation Gap -- which does make me feel old. So much more fun when I could think, "Stupid adults just don't get it!"

And now SP is tempting fate with a gladiatorial tribute? Ancient gladiators did have their own warrior-tribe ethos and fan following, at least those gladiators who survived their first few outings in the arena.

See, I told you this mashup would be interesting. Stay tuned...
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8. sp34n119w
8:10 PM GMT on January 08, 2012
It's windy again. Last night around 8 PM the temperature rose above the daytime high, to 67 degrees, with wind gusts to 40mph. Humidity is way down and we are under fire weather warning, along with most of western SoCal.


BC - I'm glad you stopped in, too :)
People do need to belong and there are many ways to satisfy that need. Personally, I favor your game nights :)
I don't do Facebook but see the value for keeping in touch with family and friends. So many people move around for jobs or whatever that it's hard to keep in touch. Still, it seems impersonal, to me. I have several friends who think that an update to their Facebook page is enough to maintain a friendship. So I get the occasional conversation like -
Me: Wait, what? When did you get a new job?
Them: About two months ago - didn't you see that on my Facebook page?
Me: Um, no, but I've spoken to you 3 times since then. Did you not think to tell me something that big?
Them: I did tell you - I told everybody on my Facebook page!
Me: Awriteythen. Byenow.

I've never used a dating site but know folks who've had good luck with Match.com and even craigslist for meeting someone special. Oh, meetup.com is a great and safe-ish way to find face-to-face friends, too, through common interests.
I think that's what people really want and, as awesome as wu is (and it has become very important to me), nothing feels better than seeing smiles and making eye contact, you know? Text does not convey full meaning, and I wonder if some people are actually isolating themselves by pretending that online relationships are enough. They seem easier but that isn't necessarily better.
Kind of going off-track there from where you were because it relates to a conversation I had with my niece and I'm still thinking about it. It seems like many folks are having a hard time in the Real World precisely because they can't relate in real-time. Anyway ...

Thanks for 'catching up' and for adding so much :)

Oh, and, the Church of the FSM offends me, LOL

Bogon - Mark I humans. Hmmm. If we look at our human ancestors, and present-day primates, we see a lot of variation in behavior and intelligence.

Improvement is relative. If murdering your neighbor and all his children improves your own children's chances for survival and reproduction, then that behavior will be selected for. If helping your neighbor feed his kids means that he and they will help you and yours, improving your own genes' chances of being passed on, then that behavior will be selected for. There is nothing in evolutionary theory that says things get "better" in terms of intelligence or what we call morality. Improvement, in this case, just means better chances to pass on genes.
Sharks have stayed about the same for millions of years (I don't remember how long, lol), being under little selection pressure to "improve".

It looks like there were a few humans who were skilled craftsmen and artists 30,000 years ago. Those abilities were lost and had to be reinvented by later iterations of the model. Why? Perhaps the folks who spent time honing their artistic skills were not prepared for changes in environment - like the invasion of other humans who were inclined to spend their time honing spearheads instead.

I'm wandering again and have my mind on other things (there's a playoff game today! lol) but I guess what I'm trying to get across is that I don't think we are Mark I - I think we are far beyond that. And what the future holds for our species will depend on our actions now. If cooperation and compassion on the part of the majority of individuals improves their reproductive chances (and that of their offspring) then that's where we're heading. If being selfish, hateful, and murderous accomplishes that purpose better, then that will win out for the species. Post-tribal or tribal. Who knows?

What's fascinating is that we, alone of all the animals (so far as we know), are capable of understanding our own evolution, our own biology, and of considering the future of our species and all other life on the planet. What's clear is, that makes absolutely no difference in how we act, LOL
Wish I could be around 500,000 years from now to see the Mark LIV ;)


I know that both those responses were all rambly. I'll try to collect my thoughts better next time and thank you both, most sincerely, for your contributions and for getting me thinking!


Now, off to check on the early game and get some stuff done before falling fully into game-day hyper-anxiety. I'd better eat now, too. It's like it matters, somehow, even though it doesn't. Stoopid animal brain ;)
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When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle. - Edmund Burke

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