Thought for the day

Each cell in the human body contains a strand of DNA that contains about three billion pairs of molecules organized into forty six chromosomes. Each molecule is around 0.000000002 meters in length. All this is bundled up in a twisted corkscrew of two strands entwining each other. If you could stretch out those two strands they would reach about two meters in length.

When you consider that there are about 10000000000000 cells in the human body, the length of these end to end would be about the same as the distance between the Earth and the sun, SEVENTY TIMES.

That’s a lot of information, and frankly an unimaginable distance.

There are some people who I could imagine testing this theory on experimentally…..


I really hate a monotonous ringing bell

I seem to remember a time where the Salvation Army used to stand around in the winter playing Christmas carols with a band. The band was always made up of strange looking people who you would never think would want to play any sort of instrument, let alone in public. Generally a mix of generations with a couple of really old people sitting down and a few middle aged people showing the effects of too much eating and not enough exercise, and always some skinny bloke in his early twenties with a haircut that showed he lived alone and cut his own hair in the mirror.

Their abilities were always a little suspect, but the pure effort they had obviously gone to made it something quite special. It was like we were seeing the people who were the stereotypes for dad’s army (a British (now cult) comedy about the people who helped protect the home front during World War II). Yes they sounded terrible. Often it seemed that they were all playing slightly different versions of the same music, some with different tempos, and most trying really hard to make at least a quarter of the notes either flat or in an entirely different octave.
But the result was good enough, festive enough and sweet enough that you felt obliged to throw a few coins in the bucket.

That world has sadly now gone! And has been replaced by a single person ringing a bell continuously. I think some people must have thought long and hard about the type of bell to use and the frequency of ringing. Because there is no way that purely by accident could they have worked out the most annoying tone and level of repetition?

Terrible does not even start to portray the sound that these people now make. I LONG for the days of the sally army quartets. In retrospect these were relatively beautiful.

I’m sure there collections have gone down, as the only donations that are now getting are from shop keepers trying to bribe them to move somewhere else.

I feel like going around to the sally army offices and just pressing their doorbell continuously, just to see how they like it.

Bah Humbug


A scientific explanation of religion

A question often asked is “can you prove the existence of non-existence of a deity or deities” and this question is often asked in the context of religion or belief.

While it’s hard to prove the non-existence of anything when we have knowledge of an infinite universe, the existence of religion can clearly be separated and considered.

Religion can be proven to be a useful mechanism for the creation of society, even in the absence of any deity.
Consider this scenario (which is in line with facts that can be seen from the human historical record).
Many thousands of years ago men were purely hunters and gathers, finding food in the same way as most other animal species on Earth. Over time in some places it became viable for Man to stay in one place and grow plants.

Over hundreds or even thousands of generations some of these Men worked out good processes and timing to maximize their food production. These processes (worked out through trial and error) worked out the right time to plant seeds, so that their leaves would just appear when the frost of the spring was receding and the sun’s energy was able to be consumed by photosynthesis. And they worked out the most effective time to harvest the crops before the seasons changed, allowing the plants to have absorbed as much energy as possible without decaying as would have happened if they would have been left in the ground or on the tree too long.

Even small improvements to this timing would have had a positive effect on the population, making them healthier than others around them.
Learning how to predict this timing was critical. As we know today the Earth rotates around the sun with a pretty precise period. And the earth wobbles on in axis over a cycle of several decades. And the Earth’s rotation around the Sun is not circular but elliptical meaning that the amount of energy the Earth receives in terms of sunlight varies on a rather complex but predicable cycle.

Early Man didn’t know the reasons why, but through careful observation he could predict much of the required data.

Making these predications would have taken many people working together a lot of time and effort, and required careful recording of the information in such a way that it could be considered over hundreds of years to work out the complete cycle.

These people performing this work would not have had the time to perform this function and feed themselves at the same time. So they needed to have a mechanism for barter, so they could sell the knowledge for food.

Also they would have needed to encode the information is such a way so that others could not have just taken if from them by force. And of course they would need to have a way of protecting themselves from others just taking this valuable information through torture.
So you can easily imagine the social, political and security requirements needed to have a society based on knowledge to function. And we can see these societies and how they formed through the archeological record.

The people collecting the critical information would be seen as elite, with a mystical ability to tell the future.

These people were considered special, and spend their lives learning and teaching, and they became powerful and wealthy.

Telling stories as a way of sharing information is core to all teaching, and it can be seen in the historical archeological records that that’s exactly what happened.

When you look at the observable records of stone circle development in Europe, the pyramid based cultures of north Africa and the tribal cultures of south America, it can be seen how critical information about the position of the earth and sun over time was collected from astronomical observations, and in each of these cases strong social infrastructures developed to secure and foster the core knowledge gathering and dissemination processes.

The human brain has a need to apply information to a situation to allow it to be stored. We learn by comparing what we observe to what we already know, this is how we learn. This is how from our very first moment we learn. We compare warm and dark to cold and light, quite to noise.
Information gets communicated through stories. If you want people to grow better crops you can tell them everything you know and then they will grow better crops, but they are less likely to come back to you next year and pay you for the information again. So you tell them a story about how the Sun god told you the information about what day to plant the seed in exchange for three chickens and your cute daughter. It’s not the priest who wants the chickens of course it’s the sun, and if you kill the priest the sun won’t tell you what you need to know.

In fact it would be best of all if you bow to the sun god when giving him your chickens and daughters and hope that that’s all that he wants, and in exchange he will grant you a good crop and the rest of your family won’t starve.

Of course farming is not the only attribute of society that can be improved by careful observation, record keeping and analysis. Everything from human health, engineering, architecture, military technology, social strategy and more benefit from having the time to think, consider, plan and control the distribution of effort. Society stems from a group of people who are able to stand back, look at facts and analyze them.

Religions at their very basis use the scientific method, but there is a need to keep control of a population and it’s easy to make up a bunch of mystical stories to push people down a specific path.

Knowledge is power. Every group throughout time has used mysticism to protect the keepers of knowledge, and the most successful of these became religions. And the most powerful religions taught conversion, and absolute adherence to their words.

The linkage between deities and religion is only in the words of the religion. There exists no observable proof outside of the dominance of the words onto the minds of the religions followers.

This doesn’t mean there is no deity, but it does mean that the observable impact of any deity is trending in that direction, in the same way that any number divided by infinity is tending towards zero.


Plausible Deniability

There is a very well understood concept used by politicians, secret services , business leaders and pretty much any organization that has ever wanted to create a barrier between leaders and illegal actions, this concept is plausible deniability.

When a leader creates a culture of “the result justifies the means”, and makes it clear that it’s okay to bully people or perform unethically or illegally as long as you are not caught then it should be expected that the people that follow this leader will perform unethically or illegally and know not to let the leader know of these actions.

A great example of this is the bully who runs the state of New Jersey. The governor is well know for verbally beating up those who he disagrees with, and often makes the case for pushing ahead with ideas that are unpopular with groups he personally does not respect.

He clearly is a person who believes that the ends justify the means, and is very clear in his words and actions that he is okay bullying people and walking over those who disagree with him.

In this climate, I would expect the people who work for him to show the same level if disrespect for others. And I see no reason why these people would feel the need to ask for approval for these types of actions.

When people who worked for the governor chose to create massive traffic issues at the bridge in Fort Lee, with the conscious reason being to annoy the mayor of that town. I would expect them to see this as business as usual.

I would not have expected them to feel the need to tell the governor, as this would have felt like a normal kind of bullying tactic that they use every single day.

The fact that this particular piece of power play actually was specifically illegal just didn’t occur to them. It was just part of business as usual.

Did the governor do anything or know anything specifically about the bridge? Probably not, and we will probably never know for sure. But we need to go with the evidence and say yep he wasn’t directly involved.

When you elect a bully for governor, who shows disrespect for those he disagrees with, shouts them down, and acts like the bully in the playground, you can expect the kids that hang around him to just act the same way.

The head bully may not be stupid, but the kids that hang around him may, and they are going to act like the bully.

It should be a requirement on everyone to act ethically and with respect for others at all times.

If you elect someone without these attributes overtly, then you get what you deserve.