March 21st, 2020


Might and Right

Does might make right?

Might makes things happen.

It cannot make things morally good.

It cannot escape the natural consequences of things.

For example, in moral terms, indigenous people in the Amazon hold their land and murdering them is wrong.

Under might makes right, they are routinely forced off their land and murdered.  People know it's wrong.  They just want to take things, and they can, so they do.

Then the country has problems consequent to racism and genocide.  These don't go away, or at least, America has suffered them for ~400 years with only minimal improvement.

Furthermore, the people committing theft and genocide upon the indigenous people are also ripping out the planet's lungs, on which we all depend.  So this particular consequence is a threat to species survival and the integrity of the biosphere.

And that's why we have morals, to avoid the kind of problems caused by might makes right.  Just because you can  do something, doesn't necessarily mean you should.

Safe Haven Baby Boxes

India is one of several countries that allows women to relinquish unwanted infants safely and anonymously.  It would be ideal if all pregnancies were wanted ones, and if poor women had enough support to keep babies they wanted, and if aboveboard adoption were freely available to those who chose it.  Next, it would be preferable if women handed off their babies in person at a location such as a monastery or hospital.  Failing those, a Safe Haven Baby Box is greatly preferable to abandonment or infanticide, which are serious problems in places like India.  So fix what you can reach.

Would humans evolve again?

 ... if life were rewound?

Well, something  sapient emerges on any hospital world if it goes long enough without the biosphere getting bashed flat by volcanoes, comets, or other calamities.  Life tends toward complexity.

However, there's no guarantee it would be Homo sapiens.  It could as easily have been Neanderthals, Denisovans, that that other species we fucked that we don't even know the name of yet, or any of the many other branches on the primate tree.  Or some other other species altogether, such as mammoths or raccoons, ants or squid, or some of the smarter dinosaurs if it hadn't been for that untimely cataclysm. 

Wind it clear back to the Cambrian and you can see all kinds  of bizarre directions life might have gone.  Okay, the biosphere was frankly frobbing at that stage -- making everything imaginable and just letting the results duke it out to see which designs worked better.  Some clearly made more sense than others.  But a lot of what died or lived came down to random chance.

Never doubt the ability to life to find a way.  But don't expect the game to play the same way twice.


Could a creature evolve to breathe fire

Sure.  Lots of bored scientists and/or speculative fiction writers have described various ways to make it work.

But not all breath weapons are fire.  We have  a dragon and it has  a deadly weapon in its mouth.  The Komodo dragon's bite kills with a deadly bioweapon variously composed of teeth, toxins, and pathogens that develop with super-speed; and like mythical dragons, they're immune to their own weapons.  They are more than capable of killing a human; they can kill a water buffalo.  Really not far off the mark as monsters go.  Dragon = truth in advertising.

Community Building Tip: Get Lit

For my current set of tips, I'm using the list "101 Small Ways You Can Improve Your City.

16. Get lit. Sometimes it only takes a few spotlights to completely transform a city block. Casting light on a forgotten building can bring a renewed sense of appreciation and community. Boston’s new strategy to light its city hall has enlivened its famous adjacent plaza, even for those who hate the "Brutalist punching-bag" of a building.

Poem: Spring Haiku 3-18-20

This batch of poems is spillover from the March 17, 2020 Poetry Fishbowl. They were inspired and sponsored by Shirley Barrette -- whose response to receiving them was "My heart is singing." :D This batch is the first of five seasonal sets of haiku based on my favorite kigo page.  Continue with the summer and autumn batches.

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Dinosaur Name?

I need a hand from someone fluent in the Latin construction of binomial nomenclature.

The original is Oculudentavis khaungraae, the smallest dinosaur found.

With the same genus of Oculudentavis, I am creating a different species, so I believe that I need an adjectival form whose grammatical gender agrees with the generic name already established.  The components I've chosen are micro- (small) and phobos (fear/panic).  That is, "tiny and terrifying," which it is.  Looking up Latin declension, the closest I can get is Oculudentavis microphobis.  Is this correct, or should it be something else?



Cloning Monkeys

I stumbled across this reference to China cloning monkeys.  If they can clone monkeys, they can clone humans.

Researchers say they wouldn't do that on ethical grounds.  But China is organlegging, so their "ethical high ground" is so far down a mineshaft they need an elevator to find it.  :/  Which is to say, someone has probably already done it by now, and the rest of the world will find out after the fact. 

Consider also that China is in a severe population crunch that they foolishly started a few decades back, and now they're critically short of women in particular.  (I fucking told you so.)  If they thought cloning would get them out of this problem, I don't think they'd hesitate to do it.  And then, of course, they'd run into all the usual problems with cloned babies, such as poor health and the expense of finding someone to raise them.