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Messages - Elder Iptuous

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Or Kill Me / Re: Paradigm shift
« on: September 08, 2008, 11:38:34 pm »
I see.
I need a good trigger.  Is there anything that gets mentioned by unsuspecting new people frequently that hasn't been called dibs on?

Or Kill Me / Re: Use brain much
« on: September 08, 2008, 11:33:49 pm »
With a rcommendation like that, i'll definitely have to check it out.
Is the work you mentioned writing what i found when searching written by buddhist_monk_wannabe?
Oh, btw, i just noticed that the current issue of SciAm has an article about genetic switches in it.  I'll have to read that tonight.

Or Kill Me / Re: Paradigm shift
« on: September 08, 2008, 11:15:15 pm »
ECH, I'm reminded of the scene in Fear n' Loathing where Thompson refers to the fellow that he figures will 'forever be afraid of walking into bathrooms to find strange men getting kicks on things that he will never experience....' (not to say that i assume you have never experienced them, just what popped into my head)
yeah, maybe they're dirty hippies, and maybe they're deluding themselves is a sense, but so what, why the antagonism? It comes across as sour grapes.....  Did you have a negative experience, or lose a friend to hallucinogens?

Or Kill Me / Re: Use brain much
« on: September 08, 2008, 08:31:31 pm »
Okay, so I get a bit spiritual about biology. Its part of who I am. A really interesting book I'm reading right now is Reinventing the Sacred by Stuart Kauffman. Its essential thesis is the movement towards creative nature = God, and uses arguments of biology being emergent and irreducible to physics, as systems that are doings rather than happenings, with individuals that posses teleos (will). It also contains lots of interesting science tidbits with philosophical leanings, and I haven't found anything thus far that would turn me off, no new agishness, no buzzwords.

Maybe thats right up your alley.

I don't know if you will wade through the muck to see this reply, but i wanted to ask if you could expand on what Kauffman is talking about re: 'movement towards creative nature'.  That might be interesting.  that would imply a progress, though, no?
I recently read a book by Douglas Hoffstadter (sp?) (He's the fella that wrote "Godel, Escher, Bach" of my favorite authors)  titled "I am a Strange Loop" that explores consciousness in the context of a type of self reference he calls a 'strange loop'.  I think he goes a bit off the deep end in the second half of the book, but one of the concepts that he goes on about is the apparent 'top down causality' that can occur in complex systems with emergence.  I have thought about that and have a vague notion that it could be extrapolated generally to the universe at large, lending some sort of 'intelligence' that I am willing to think of as 'God'.  of course it could be a 'teleos' about as comprehensible to us as ours is to objects the scale of which we haven't drilled deep enough to label, though......

I, too, find the 'mundane' world around us to be spiritually interesting, without resorting to some 'otherness'.....

Or Kill Me / Re: Use brain much
« on: September 07, 2008, 04:43:27 pm »
Very good.
I have realized in thinking about this short conversation that, although i have heard and, in fact, used many of these arguments against ID proponents (who, btw, i will never forgive you for lumping me in with,GA  :wink:), that i have not really internalized the notion that it isn't progress due in no small part to the fact that i simply want it to be progress.  This is perhaps innevitable because of my engineering mindset that sees an iterative process that does not progress towards some ultimate goal (or, i guess, in the case of natural phenomena, along the direction of some motivating force) to be absurd, but that doesn't mean that it ain't so.....
I can perhaps assuage myself by focusing in on the definition that the goal of all life (as defined by myself) is "to live and reproduce as successfully as possible over an unbounded time frame and environment", on the key phrase "all life".  Would it be fair to say that life on this planet as a whole has been progressing (albeit with setbacks) towards this ultimate goal?

One last thread that i would like to snip is the genetic switch as mentioned.  In the analogy of the swiss army knife animal being more generally prepared for diverse environments, but not suited to outperform a specialist in a static environment, why would this apply to one whose genetic repetoire is not expressed in its form at any given time?  The only disadvantage that i can see to an animal having this hidden treasure box of features in waiting is that it would have more genetic material that something could go catastrophically wrong with, or that if it is a creature that does not breed/live in large numbers the possibility that features becoming expressed at innoportune times in a single individual would have a significant effect on the species as a population....  Perhaps you can think of another disadvantage that it would pose to justify it as not necessarily 'better prepared'. 
I guess the absurdly scifi 'ultimate creature' is imagining an organism with the features of a great deal of life as we know it in its genetics that are almost all not currently expressed.  It is currently of the form of a simple microorganism that is able to withstand the vacuum and radiative hazards of space, but upon landing upon a celestial body, a la panspermia thing, it would be able to develop the features that would allow it to thrive in whatever the habitat might be in relatively short time, without having to rely on random gene modification to reinvent the wheel.  sort of a genetically modular creature.....
Please do your best to cut that thread as it is unignorably tickling my brain...

Or Kill Me / Re: Use brain much
« on: September 07, 2008, 04:03:28 am »
Good response. thanks for taking the time.
You have mentioned that it is simply human nature to think of the process as a sort of progress even though it isn't.  You may very well be correct, but I'm having a hard time giving up on that idea, too.  (Again, not trying to simply be belligerent or closed minded)
Considering the notion of an 'ultimate form' that an organism might  progress towards, a  superficially obvious definition that occurs to me would be one that allows the creature to live and reproduce in any environment that might befall it.  You mentioned the extremophiles that we have cataloged but are these organisms able to exist in a broad range?  I guess the examples that pop into my mind are the sea vent creatures at very high temps.  I don't know, but i'm guessing they are not able to exist at temperatures much beyond that niche that they are in.  Would it not be 'progress' if they could withstand these temps and lower ones?  This would likely involve more complexity, though, right?  Would it be innacurate to say that there has been an increase in complexity of organisms over time?  And would this indicate that the higher levels of complexity are advantageous over a broader range of environment?
You mentioned the genetic switch that controls the wingedness of that insect.  I find that very interesting that a fully functional and complex feature can be coded in the genetic sequence of an organism with only a gene or two that allows/causes it to be expressed.  If a creature had a highly complicated genetic repetiore of features like this that allowed it to very quickly adapt to changing environments, it would seem reaaaaly hard for me to not think of it as 'more advanced' that a creature that didn't, and would be unable to adapt as quickly to a changing environment...

« on: September 06, 2008, 09:15:41 pm »
I've never printed out my own bumperstickers.  How does it look in the end? is it water proof?  or are you just talking about general sticker paper. (would not work well for bumperstickers.)

« on: September 06, 2008, 08:47:25 pm »
^^ Brilliant! is this a bumper sticker for sale somewhere? (so's i can put it on annoying neocon coworkers' cars)

Or Kill Me / Re: Use brain much
« on: September 06, 2008, 08:45:32 pm »
Perhaps this is what is confusing me....
Do use "evolve" : incorrect connotations but commonly used and understood, except by those that don't understand (fuckem)
Do never use "de-evolve" : incorrect but commonly used and understood, except by those that don't understand (fuckem)
Insist on "return to more ancestral body plan" : correct but not commonly used or convenient enough to ever likely gain common use.

Not trying to be confrontational, I'm just trying to appeal to your authority as a biology guy to understand the motivation behind the terminology.  Is there a movement in the biology field to replace the term 'evolution' because it has deeply ingrained connotations of progress towards some ultimate goal?

Also, can you point me at good reading material on debate over whether evolution is in fact progressing towards a goal? (perhaps of greater ability to live and reproduce in wider array of environments)


Or Kill Me / Re: Use brain much
« on: September 05, 2008, 11:29:33 pm »

Ok, well.  If a species, due to some environmental factor adapts with some feature, and then the environmental factor goes away, and the feature goes away too, then it would be convenient to have a label indicating that it evolved into a form that it previously had, right?  Why is Devolution a bad word to describe this?'s the band, isn't it?....
they fvcked it up for the whole log, didn't they?

(disclaimer: ianaeb)

Aneristic Illusions / Re: Indecision 08 Wingnut thread
« on: September 05, 2008, 05:29:45 pm »
I have been amazed at how well the neocon appologists that i have talked to either ignore or deflect the question of what constitutes 'winning'.  That question is invisible to them.  They often actually get angry at that question if you demand that they define it before continuing conversation, i have found.

Or Kill Me / Re: Use brain much
« on: September 05, 2008, 04:36:43 pm »

Literate Chaotic / Re: *cough*
« on: September 05, 2008, 03:52:30 pm »
Good looking site.  Heard about this on NPR the other day.  It seems to be not working right now....
cant wait till it is, because they seem to have a metric assload of torrents.
anybody have recommendations on particularly good textbooks that they have had the occasion to use?

« on: September 04, 2008, 01:32:10 am »
... All they need to do is keep track of a few integers and remember which ints correspond to which candidates votes.

Pffft.... The selection algorithm takes into account FAR more variables than just votes!  Besides, they need network connections to corroborate.

Think for Yourself, Schmuck! / Re: Discordia as a Religion?
« on: September 03, 2008, 11:44:26 pm »
It also seems to me that in the religious context it is more readily able to displace other ideas that are what we are trying to balance out.  The static dogmas and gray philosophies are pegs in a hole, and if we want to switch them out, we should carve our ideas into a similarly shaped peg. 
If anything, i would think more religious trappings would be better.  The rigid nature of the precepts of organized religions are what allow them to assemble the massive hierarchical infrastructure of their loftiness.  Why shouldn't we make a game of seeing how high we can build our tower with ideas that are the equivalent of silly putty and licorice sticks?

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