Apr 25, 2009

Science: A new way to reason.

When we first started experimenting our science was primitive but very important to growing our brains. Throwing rocks, cooking food, or maybe just fermenting it, building, group hunts, fire control, group story telling, dyadic grooming, etc. all primitive science projects helped, or propelled our brains to grow and add fun new parts!

I don't think we understood the scientific method then, language being so primitive. I do think we experimented and made choices based on our observations. The science we conducted was more evolutionary than replicable until we developed memes to transmit the observations and techniques to one another. So once we learned, and taught each other to make fire we'd created a fire making meme. I think this is the essence of science and an incredibly sweet gift from our distant ancestors. 

(Any guesses on how long ago this period was in our development?) I'd love to hear you ideas on this.

Apr 14, 2009

Government: A gift from the founders to US.

I've said before, this simple sentence.

Government is good.

Many who know me as a longtime anarchist must be thinking what IS he talking about? Remember, anarchists believe that leaders are not needed. That people can organize themselves without leaders. This doesn't mean we don't need organization. This is where government can use its ability to create and enhance alignment of people. 

People have been self-organizing, aligning their interests for thousands of years. We'd have a hard time surviving an ice-age if we weren't organized. Our first governments seem to have arisen in the past 10,000 years. The Egyptians, Persians, Chinese, and Native Americans, and others show evidence of using governments for cultural, economic agricultural, and social tasks. These tasks often had a very overt power dimension. A leader would coerce with food, intimidate with fear, or cajole with hope. As specialization and scientific discovery grew our structures became more complicated and effective. As language developed we became better able to describe these structures in the abstract and in concrete terms. Writing it all down lead to books, like the Bible, the Communist Manifesto, Origin of Species, or Snowcrash.

Two hundred years ago, the pinnacle of self-organizing systems, was the representative democracy developed in North America based on a mix of Iroquois and Greek ideas (with a lot of other influences). The United States of America created a subtly simple alignment of our nation. We've been wrestling with the consequences ever since. While the United States of America is still strong and 'yeasty' in theory, the practice of our governance faced some real tests recently. 

A group of leaders, let's call them Republicans, has spent much of the past 28 years tearing down government and working to cut off its life blood, revenue. From Ronald Reagan's declaration in 1980 that "government is not the solution, government is the problem," to the starve the government drumbeat of no-tax pledges Republicans have argued for limited government. This while they were in power. Now, in the past few months, their hands no longer on the levers of power their tune has changed a bit but their key points remain the same. Govern on the basis of faith, opinion and fear instead of reason, facts, and shared interest. 

Our Government - given by our founders - is THE one enduring gift, the last vestige of a time before electricity, cars, the germ theory of disease, and evolutionary biology. It is still robust. But, if we let the gift sink us into another dark age of superstition, selfishness, and fear of facts,
we lose the vast power of an open, informed, democratic populace. The Enlightenment brought so much to society and culture. We must stand, honest, truthful, and free in the face of God, Allah, and fascists to avoid digressing and losing our way again. 

Not all states are as lucky as us but many have taken the lesson of our Revolution and built on it. Many governments are now made better by our example. We can't be so arrogant and blind to the advantages developed by others in imitation of our system. Americans are rightly proud of our institutions. This pride cannot be enhanced by starving our system just because we think our faith in the almighty tells us not to pay taxes. I believe the facts as observed. Do you?

Apr 1, 2009

Cooked food: The miracle science of energy!

Cooked food came along shortly after we learned to control fire. An ancient gift from real scientists! We used fire to slow cook, sear, roast, broil and bake. We tried new foods. If something made us sick we stopped eating it. The scientific method even before we knew what a method was.

Our diet changed. We spent less time looking for, killing, gathering, and cultivating food. Because cooked food releases much more energy from the starch, carbs, sugars, proteins and fats we had time for lots of other activities. 
Preparing food by cooking or by other methods such as fermenting, drying, sprouting, or soaking is a such an amazing advance I wonder how it came about. If you imagine the ancestors sitting around a fire with a haunch of mammoth or a dead bird you see how simple cooking might have com to be. 

I ate at my local pub the other night, I had a tempeh reuben. This is fermented soy bean cake with sour kraut, swiss cheese on dark rye bread with a side of horseradish and thousand island dressing. The magic of these high energy foods combined in this tasty gustatory treat was enough to make my mind spin. It was delicious. 

When ever you share an evening meal with family or friends, think back to the ancestors who developed cooking. Thank them for sharing.

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