Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Who are we, even in our 'advanced' state today?

It would seem hard to argue that we, as a people, are very nice, except maybe to our close friends and relatives.  Instead, aren't poverty, dishonesty, and inequity rife, not just in our own 'advanced' culture but globally?  Subtle dishonorable manipulation of the rules allow some to gain, in intricate or devious ways, while the majority do without.

This is nothing new, but even at our supposed reflective seasonal holiday of caring, it is to me stark how unseasonable is our behavior the rest of the time.  Maybe we need a Christmas to remind us, by contrast, of who we are (or aren't) the rest of the year; but when it becomes a time for getting things, decorating our homes to suggest to others how loving and giving we are (because, after all, we celebrate the holiday--as our yearly growing displays show, no?), this holiday comes to seem rather cynically self-serving.  Don't miss those last-minute sales!

There is nothing new in these sentiments, and perhaps there is nothing new in the hypocrisy of our annual festival of self-congratulation.

Sadly, to me, this nothing-newness is know-nothingness, because we can know otherwise.  Below are the two final pages of my marked-up copy of the great co-discoverer of evolution Alfred Wallace's The Malay Archipelago (1869), reporting his adventures in the Pacific islands during 1854 and 62:

I write this post as a kind of reminder, of who we are relative to who we fancy ourselves to be, relative to who we once were.  We are bid to be thoughtful of others at this time, to be caring and sharing, with the self-flattering notion that we'll actually carry that spirit throughout the year.  Will that ever be the general truth?

Friday, December 21, 2018

This year's Seasons, Greetings

As is my seasonal wont, herewith I will: this year's Christmas, Greetings. . . . . 
Have a great Holiday!

How do I lure thee? 23 the ways!
I lure thee to the depth and breadth and hype
My sales can reach, with feeling out of sight:
Fear the ends of being and ideas grim!
I lure thee to the level of every gene’s
Most coding dire: by spin and detail-light 
I lure not freely, as men strive for right: 
I lure thee puerilely, as thee turn to promise:
I lure thee with your passions put to use--
In thy old genes, and thus thy children’s fate.
I lure thee with a lust I scheme as love,
With my lost sense. I lure thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all thy life; and, if genes cause,
I shall but lose thy business after death.

(After Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-61), Sonnet 43)

Grants rush you money, Gentlemen,
Let nothing you dismay,
For Genes comprise our savior:
Omics have borne this Day!
To save poor souls from Teaching's power,
Which long time were grantless strays,
Which brings tidings of funding and joy--funding and joy!
Oh, tidings of funding and joy!

(From traditional carol God rest ye merry, gentlemen; source unknown)

Image result for christmas wreath

‘Omics, tada!  to me it’s been so wonderful
‘Omics, tada! to me it’s been so good.
No trick could be so subtle and unprovable,
‘Omics, tada! For my grants always good!

(After Eddie Fisher’s classic hit record Oh, my Papa)


Now surgeon’s cloak has covered all:
Searing the brain with traits so fell
Forget now the pledge we made in May
We were to win in safe CRISPR’s Way.
Oh what made allure
go astray:

We were to mend it on CRISPR's Day
Now the red blood has crossed our stars
Robbed our feeling of “Hip!”s and “Hurrah!”s
Let not your law turn wintery too
Icy as the seasons do
Now all the august b’liefs are shred
High hope's asleep in misled bed
Truth’s cold winds have blown my hypes away
And left me forlorn on sad CRISPR’s Day

(Modified from: see Amazing Blondel Evensong album, St Crispin's Day)