Tuesday, October 30, 2018


THE WORLD IS TOO SMALL.  YOU GET OFF.  Make more room for me.

Though most of the killings and other deadly atrocities that crowd our newspapers and media posts daily are about shocking and personal events, the underlying problem is rarely addressed.  We are feeling crowded and our reaction is to eliminate people we don't like.  That's why so many of the killers are losers anyway -- they don't know how to be part of the world, to "have a place."  And they don't know what to do except to blame someone.  But also, some people offer to make a place "just their size" by killing themselves.

All the rest is a matter of deluded ideas about who should be sent off the planet.  Some think it is a matter of morality -- kill all the bad people.  Others feel that poverty can be solved if we would just get rid of all the poor people.  Or dark people.  Or people from some other place.  "Go back where you came from!" they say to the American indigenous people.

After all, that's the way we treat pet animals: if there are too many in the streets being a nuisance, we kill a lot of them.  Unwanted animals.  Even our kids become unwanted animals because so many people think their own survival depends on having a lot of money or status or property.  It doesn't occur to them that survival might be based on respect or helpfulness or even simple friendship, in spite of all the stories about how other people might be angels in disguise -- or just a pleasure to have around.

It's an animal thing.  When there are too many of some kind for the ecology they inhabit, either natural consequences knock the numbers back -- like the cat virus that infects the feral felines of Valier -- or fights to the death between males limit insemination to the rights of survivors.  Limiting females, like forced sterilization, is even more direct.  Humans are as animal as any others, but with added differences.  Most of the time.  Good and bad.

Even if there is plenty of space, as in Montana, too many people can amount to shortages.  Since our small towns are shrinking, this is hard to understand, because it means shrinking the supply lines for food and materials.  One bakery informed our mom-and-pop grocery store that they would no longer supply bread to Valier because there weren't enough sales to make the mileage pay off.  On a macro-scale, we're told that the rare elements that make smart phones work are running out and are not necessarily dug up in friendly territory.  So prices go up.  Small rivalries can end in shootings.  Large rivalries find that famine is more effective -- more deaths directly from less food.

A new way of looking at the situation is coming out of genomic research.  It hasn't become conscious yet though so many of us are pondering the collapse of former seemingly invulnerable empires (Rome) and hatred coalitions (KKK) we thought were gone.  But the truly salient ideas have nothing to do with any of that.  The ability of computers to accumulate and find patterns (algorithms) in huge amounts of data is combining with new access to fossil genomic information and mineral isotopes to make a guess at what gene (tiny bits of molecule) might add up to which hominins became humans, where and even, maybe, why.  Clearly, most hominins have the ability to compensate for climate differences or even food types, but some genes enable better survival at high altitudes, like Bolivians or people on Mt. Everest.  And so on.

Evolution is powered by mutation: constant changing.  Every slightly better advantage in ability to use oxygen, or digest milk or devise shelter can mean growth in the number of relatives.  We are stupid about this.

In fact, it turns out that genes can control or influence ability to speak, to reach out, or to develop empathy for people who are different.  Many people say THIS is where mutation is taking us in the future and its lack is killing us right now.  We are making sure there is a shortage of housing, too much cheap killer food, steady crime rates.  A recent analysis reveals that the trouble in the US is NOT due to overcrowding directly, but is the ability of international corporations to sequester their money away from taxation which is the lifeblood of social tissue: the source of our infrastructure, our health care, our homes and identities.  We didn't KNOW we were doing that, even though we were complicit in making the rules and pretending that a business could be a person.

But all this has to be governed by the mutating of the earth itself: the climate, the geological ferment, the atmospheric supply, the temperature.  So far, no one has done a genomic analysis of the people who died in the recent heat waves of India.  No one knows which genome will help people survive the murderous air in China.  But if we had the data we could find out.

We probably know most of the genomic elements of drug addiction right now.  Even obsessive gambling or excess anxiety can be detected chemically and treated with pills -- to some degree.  We can detect and eliminate before birth some deadly mutations, but people don't realize that all genes are interrelated and taking out one may enable others to become active.  Many are about timing -- "if/then" directions that we might not expect.

The purpose of death is to determine who will survive by demonstration.  Killing rivals may simply cause the likelihood of the death of the killer.  It is a deformation, unpredictable.  So are mutations.  Or they might not mean anything.

From:  https://phys.org/news/2018-10-earliest-hominin-migrations-arabian-peninsula.html  "The stable isotope data indicates that early dispersals of our archaic ancestors were part of a range expansion rather than a result of novel adaptations to new environmental contexts outside Africa."

"The paper, by scientists from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History and the University of Michigan suggests investigations into what it means to be human should shift from attempts to uncover the earliest material traces of 'art', 'language', or technological 'complexity' towards understanding what makes our species ecologically unique. In contrast to our ancestors and contemporary relatives, our species not only colonized a diversity of challenging environments, including deserts, tropical rainforests, high altitude settings, and the palaeoarctic, but also specialized in its adaptation to some of these extremes."

Destroying all competition can seem like survival, but in the long run, we are eliminating the evidence of what is human and how this last kind of hominin can persist.

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