Ponders from a Teddy Bear’s Perspective

It’s A Bright World To Feel Lost In, by Mawson, is a whimsical gift book for grownups. It features teddy bears because these creatures all too often meet the fate of being lost. They can then only wait and hope to be found again. Mawson, a bear veteran of being left all alone, guides less experienced […]

via A whimsical gift book for grownups — Baffled Bear Books

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You Can’t Fight Terrorism with War

Modern warfare kills young and old, innocent and guilty. Bombing people who are already poor turns difficult lives, into endless nightmares and death. The relatives of those killed are more apt to become terrorists, not less.

The only way we could really fight terrorism, is to make lives better. Make sure everyone, everywhere has food, clothing, shelter, and gainful employment. If we did this overpopulation would not be an issue, because it takes care of itself once people have security in their old age, and access to family planning.

We have the technology to address world poverty now, but it isn’t possible in our greed driven world. We allow those who already have thousands of times their share of the wealth, continue to take advantage of people throughout the world, stealing their labor and their resources.

We need to shift the culture–reward kindness, not ruthlessness. If we cannot do this, there is not much hope for us.

the echo of an ancient god

I am the echo of an ancient god, my monuments long crushed to dust. But my followers thrived, for thousands of years, long before your calendars began. You know nothing of me, or my people–or so you think.

My followers spoke my many names, and brought me offerings of fruit and meat. They were good people, raising beautiful children in sunny valleys. Singing their stories in the night air, by the warmth of the fire.

In a way, you were there. You scurried and squeaked, and stole bites from the food on my alter. Even then, your kind sought the companionship of other species. Some of our children kept you, as cherished pets. You trilled when scratched behind the ears, and left gifts of dead dragonflies. You heard the stories of my people, but you did not understand.

I thought I was the strongest force of nature, but I was wrong. I could not save my people. When they perished, my body, too, eventually faded away to nothing. I miss it–my first, true body, in the form of my worshipers–my crown of feathers, and my massive tail.

I thought time itself would end, then. But it did not. My spirit, broken, wandered for what seemed like eternity. Slowly I started to notice, once again, the landscapes I passed by. The world would sometimes surge with life, other times be largely barren, and then it would all start again.

I started to accept the cycle of life. I started to care for these creatures, even though they were not my people, and I knew they would not last forever. Some had the beautiful feathers of my people, and lived in sunny valleys.

One day I looked a creature in the eye, a being that stood on 2 legs, as my people had long ago. I had never seen its like, and yet, there was something familiar.. And then I knew. The playmates of my children had become this. And, though you had not understood the stories of my people, you sang stories as well. Perhaps some impression still lingered, somehow, through the ages.

The more I listened, the more I cared. And, strangely, I started to feel the sun again. I became solid again, but I was no god. For a time this saddened me. But as the sometimes fearsome gods of your people started to rise, there were times I was thankful for my anonymity.

My form adjusted over the years, to change as your people changed. I have lived with you since, as one of you, except that I do not bear children, and I do not die. I do not know if there are others like me. I do not know if I will outlive you.

I only know that life is all around me, and I try to celebrate it all, past, present and future. I miss my people, but I try not to mourn too often or too long. Perhaps in some way, they have lived on, as well. I do not understand why I am here now, but I am thankful for each day.

I tell you these things knowing you will not find me, and you will not know my true name. But I am here, the echo of an ancient god.

Bill Cosby

I love Bill Cosby. He had a positive influence on my life. But it’s clear now that much of his image was a carefully constructed lie. Not only have 35 women told their stories, but a man who worked for Cosby said one of his jobs was to pay off women.

Some people say we shouldn’t accuse Cosby, because in our justice system, he’s innocent until proven guilty. Well, I say these 35 women are innocent. They are not liars. I am sick and tired of rape victims being treated like they’re the criminals. In our country the evidence must be weighed in a court of law for a conviction, and that’s a good thing. But that doesn’t stop me  from having an opinion.

Perhaps you are among those who say the women should have come forward at the time. Even though you don’t believe 35 adult women now, if one teenager had come forward at the height of Cosby’s popularity, you would have believed her and been supportive? I think that is unlikely. I think the people who believe Cosby is innocent now, would most likely have believed the same then. She would have been hated and vilified, receiving even more animosity than these women are today.

Some of the victims were as young as 16 when they were raped. I’m sure Cosby picked many young women who were insecure and far from home, lacking a good support network of friends and family, making it hard for them to deal with the trauma of rape. And, actually, not all of them were silent, although no charges were filed.

Not to mention that 16 is a very young age to have to give up your chosen profession, and to accept that the rest of your life will be difficult, no matter what the outcome. Anyone who had come forward at the time, would never have worked in Hollywood again as anything but a sad curiosity. You know what happens in a situation like this. They may get offers to be in Playboy, or worse. They’re never offered real roles again. If one of the young women had come forward, she probably would have fled the spotlight when it was over and still been badgered by people who blamed her, and called her a liar, even if Cosby was convicted.

The statute of limitations has run out on these cases, there will be no criminal trials. In 2006, Cosby settled a lawsuit from one victim for an undisclosed amount of money. There will be more lawsuits, from women who want the truth to come out. And we need to listen. Shouting them down won’t encourage future rape victims to report crimes. It adds insult to injury, and ensures that rape will continue to thrive in the shadows.

Happiness

Which would make you happier, winning the lottery, or becoming a paraplegic? The answer may surprise you. He isn’t the most charismatic speaker, but this is well worth a listen. It does get funny near the middle, lol.

This also reminds me of Spock’s words in Amok Time, “After a time, you may find that having is not so pleasing a thing after all as wanting. It is not logical, but it is often true.”

And then there’s what I always say, “The key to happiness is being easily amused.” :0)

Understanding Evolution

Evolution is simple, but often misunderstood.

First, a quick note about religion. Creationists have become a loud voice in social media and elsewhere. So much so, that some Christians assume their own denomination opposes evolution, even if it does not. “..of Americans in the 12 largest Christian denominations, 89.6% belong to churches that support evolution education”1 and yet some members of those faiths aren’t aware of this. Perhaps it’s because church leaders who support evolution don’t realize it’s unclear, and don’t think to inform their congregations about their views on science. Of course everyone has their personal view on the topic, but if the views of your church concern you and you have questions, talk to your minister. You may be surprised.

What is evolution? It is a natural consequence when organisms live in an environment. Individuals who do best at coping with their environment are more apt to reproduce, making the genes of those best at surviving more common. There is no goal to evolution. An individual may die before reproducing, due to poor adaptation or just chance, but statistically those who are better at surviving and reproducing will be more apt to pass on their genes. Over short periods of time, this can cause subtle changes in the population. Over extremely long periods of time, it can cause the entire variety of life we see on earth.

Long eared puppyPeople understand a dog breeder can breed hounds with long ears, until they get puppies with even longer ears. This is evolution through artificial selection, not unlike evolution through natural selection. But some people have more trouble picturing the evolutionary transition between species. One stumbling block is our conception of time. As an individual, we’re lucky if we live 100 years. So trying to comprehend over 3,000,000,000 years of evolution on our planet boggles the mind. Over that amount of time, organisms can develop massive changes, far more than a puppy with really long ears.

Another stumbling block is our concept of a species. As human language developed, we named organisms in our environment, particularly species there were helpful or harmful. When early man spoke of a bear, or an apple, he wanted his family to know what he meant. Each particular species seemed unchanging to them, and in many ways it still does to us. But upon further study, we find that populations flow and change, and defining a species is somewhat arbitrary. Some people believe evolution takes place only within a kind, not between different kinds–but the flow of genes is continuous. There’s no exact point where one kind ends and another begins, through time, or even in current populations.

In the June 2008 Scientific American article “What Is A Species?” 2 Carl Zimmer talks about how populations of gray wolves and red wolves have been collectively classified as one, two, three or more species. Some wolves are also interbreeding with coyotes, bringing their genes into the wolf population, as well. Using Latin taxonomic names like “Canis lupus” may make it seem species identification is set in stone, but even today, naming a particular population is still largely a matter of language and convenience. With the wolves, it became an issue because “endangered species” are protected under our laws. We’re just trying to define the species, so we can follow our own laws. Nature doesn’t recognize these species boundaries, they are artificial.

Manatee image from Kyle Kyle McBurnie, SD Expeditions http://sdexpeditions.com/

Manatee image by Kyle McBurnie,
SD Expeditions http://sdexpeditions.com/

Whether or not those wolves have evolved into different species, you may be thinking they are still all dogs, all one kind (not unlike our puppy with long ears). Perhaps it’s harder to see, for example, how manatees and elephants have a common ancestor. But is it really that hard? Their are toenails on a manatee’s flipper that look like the toenails of an elephant, and other morphological similarities. Their common ancestor probably looked something like the hippopotamus, which is semi-aquatic, although hippos are in a different genetic line.

But we don’t have to rely just on morphology, the fossil record, and speculation to determine how closely different species are related. Today we have the tools to map DNA. We use DNA evidence to solve crimes, to determine who fathered a baby, and to determine how closely different species are related. The more genes are shared, between individuals or between populations, the more closely they are related. All of the life on our planet is interwoven in this way, a diverse and wonderful mosaic.

1. National Center for Science Education: What do Christians REALLY Believe about Evolution?
2. What Is A Species?

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