[Coral-List] Bill Pierce, Real Root Visionaries

Tom Williams ctwiliams at yahoo.com
Tue Sep 23 07:56:47 EDT 2008

Since my son is a cartoonist - wierd but with two PhDs for parents what could you expect and since I am still a very simple VERTEBRATE paleontologist - Go way back to POGO-possum and Albert the Alligator and follow the "green" cartoon series leading up to Albert's statement: "We have met the enemy and he is us!!"

I need not say more.
--- On Mon, 9/22/08, Gene Shinn <eshinn at marine.usf.edu> wrote:

> From: Gene Shinn <eshinn at marine.usf.edu>
> Subject: [Coral-List] Bill Pierce, Real Root Visionaries
> To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> Date: Monday, September 22, 2008, 7:41 AM
> I commend Bill Pierce for his philosophical approach to the
> root 
> causes of coral (and just about everything else) demise
> first brought 
> to our attention by Stephen Jameson.  In my simple-minded
> solution I 
> often resort to a line in Jimmy Buffet's Fruit Cakes
> song..." Humans 
> are flawed individuals, the Cosmic Baker took us out of the
> oven too 
> soon." But I do have a philosophical approach to human
> kind and the 
> strange things humans blindly believe in. Mine hinges on
> just two 
> kinds of people. And of course there are two kinds of
> people. Those 
> who will agree with my little essay and those who will not.
> Those who 
> disagree may still find some humor in the story and at the
> very least 
> I hope the "two kinds of people" will haunt them
> the way the old 
> man's statement has haunted me over the years.  So here
> goes. Enjoy, 
> or not enjoy. Gene
> How Would Jellyfish Think?
>      Back in my youth (when I was about 40), I was having
> dinner with an older gentleman at a meeting in DC when he leaned over
> and said, "You know, when you get down to it, there are only two
> kinds of people." I just nodded not knowing what to say. Now
> more than 30 years later, I remain haunted by his comment. It's
> taken all these years to decipher what seems to be the wisdom in the old
> man's words. 

> I have become increasingly aware as I get older that no
> matter the issue, some will agree and some will disagree. Disagreement
> today seems more rampant than in the past, but possibly I just
> was not paying attention. Nevertheless, it should come as no
> surprise when we consider our makeup. After all, we are bipedal with
> bilateral symmetry. Two legs, two arms, two eyes, and we have a left
> and a right brain. We describe and divide most everything into
> opposites. 

> Think, left/right, up/down, black/white, light and dark, in
> and out, forward and backward, push/pull, on and off, good/bad,
> sweet/sour, fast/slow, rich and poor, win or lose, and most basic of
> all, male/female. One can go on and on with many examples of
> two-sided opposition in our thinking. Even the computer on which this
> is written works on the binary on/off principle. It seems only
> logical then that, like the old man implied, we are simply
> preprogrammed at birth to think in a binary fashion. So, when people 
> clamor for a 
> third political party, as I have, I realize we just
> can't do that! 

> Both houses of Congress (why are there two?) are divided
> into two sides by an isle down the middle. Just like our brains. And
> the House and Senate often oppose each other on issues. We would have
> to reengineer the House and Senate to add a third party. Even 
> Parliamentary governments are divided. It's called
> bicameral government. Whether they are Whigs or Tories, liberals or 
> conservatives, they are always basically on opposite sides
> of the issues.

>      I felt vindicated and decided I need not disagree with
> the old man's comment after reading the 25 July 2008 issue of
> Science. On page 486, I read an article titled, "Voting: In Your
> Genes?" It said that over the past 2 decades, numerous researchers have
> determined that genes determine whether you are liberal or
> conservative on political issues. The proof comes from studies of 
> separated identical twins that share the same genes. Fraternal twins are
> similar in their views, but not nearly as much as identical twins. Well,
> that seems to settle it. For a while, I thought it came down to just
> being male or female, that is, givers and takers, or in tribal societies
> hunters and gathers, or hunters and cooks. Who can deny that males
> and females act and think differently no matter how society
> tries to force conformity? To me, it's amazing that humans can
> agree as much as we do. I suppose that's where our reasoning and
> upbringing tend to overcome preprogrammed instincts. Of course, there 
> are many shades of 
> grey in between, and luckily for us, overwhelming logic and
> facts 
> will often overrule our brain's binary software. But I
> tend to 
> maintain, like the old gentleman who brought this issue to
> my 
> attention, that underlying differences remain. One has to
> wonder if 
> when we are in the privacy of the voting booth just how
> often our 
> brain's preprogramming will override all the facts and
> figures. I 
> suspect that in many cases it does. We just can't help
> it if we are 
> indeed preprogrammed to be bimodal (sometimes bipolar?) in
> our thinking.

>      I can't help but wonder what the world be like if
> we had evolved bodies with radial symmetry such as that found in 
> jellyfish
> and starfish. How would we see the world? Sometimes I feel like
> a jellyfish. Maybe when we can't make up our minds,
> it's because there is still a little jellyfish in all of us?

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