Dogs live in the present – they just are! Dogs make the best of each moment uncluttered by the sorts of complex fears and feelings that we humans have. They don’t judge, they simply take the world around them at face value. Yet they have been part of man’s world for an unimaginable time, at least 30,000 years. That makes the domesticated dog the longest animal companion to man, by far!
As man’s companion, protector and helper, history suggests that dogs were critically important in man achieving success as a hunter-gatherer. Dogs ‘teaching’ man to be so successful a hunter enabled evolution, some 20,000 years later, to farming, thence the long journey to modern man. But in the last, say 100 years, that farming spirit has become corrupted to the point where we see the planet’s plant and mineral resources as infinite. Mankind is close to the edge of extinction, literally and spiritually.
Dogs know better, much better! Time again for man to learn from dogs!
Welcome to Learning from Dogs
The foundation of change.
Undoubtedly, those of you that watched the George Monbiot speech in yesterday’s post will have been struck by at least two key aspects. The first being the utter absurdity in the way that we are being governed (UK and the USA) and the second that change can only come from people bonding at a local level. For it is within local communities that groups of people share their ideas and develop a vision for change that they can stand behind in an open and demonstrable manner.
The history of mankind is inseparable from the history of living in communities. It’s only in recent times that so many have chosen to live in cities and towns. Dogs, of course, offer a brilliant and wonderful example of the benefits of community life.
(See more pictures at the African Wildlife Conservation Fund website.)
Back to George Monbiot. Here are some of Mr. Monbiot’s words towards the end of his speech. (My emphasis.)
As Lakoff has pointed out, these people are trying to do the right thing but they are completely failing to apply a frames analysis. A frame is a mental structure through which you understand an issue. Instead of framing the issue with our own values and describing and projecting our values – which is the only thing in the medium- to long-term that ever works – we are abandoning them and adopting instead the values of the people who are wrecking the environment. How could there be any long-term outcome other than more destruction?
There’s another way of looking at this, which says the same thing in different ways. All of us are somewhere along a spectrum between intrinsic values and extrinsic values. Extrinsic values are about reputation and image and money. They’re about driving down the street in your Ferrari and showing it to everyone. They are about requiring other people’s approbation for your own sense of well-being.
Intrinsic values are about being more comfortable with yourself and who you are. About being embedded in your family, your community, among your friends, and not needing to display to other people in order to demonstrate to yourself that you are worth something.
The desire for humans to belong to a community was highlighted in a recent article in Time Magazine under it’s Culture section (August 4th). The article was called Atheist “Churches” Gain Popularity—Even in the Bible Belt (again, my emphasis).
On a clear, Sunny July morning, as churchgoers all around Houston take to their pews, dozens of nonbelievers are finding seats inside a meeting room in a corporate conference center on the city’s west side to listen to a sermon about losing faith. But first there’s the weekly “community moment”–remarks on a chosen topic delivered by the group’s executive director, this time focused on how we’re hardwired to read sensationalized news–as well as announcements about an upcoming secular summer camp. In between, a musician sings softly of Albert Einstein.
The men speaking before the assembled gathering–executive director Mike Aus, who regularly leads the group, and Jerry DeWitt, a visitor who heads a similar gathering in Louisiana–are both deeply familiar with the idea of Sunday ritual.
Later in the article, Mike Aus (see picture above) goes on to say (once more, my emphasis):
There are a lot of people in the free-thought movement who say: Well, this is just mimicking church. But if we don’t offer regular human community and support for nonbelievers, it would be detrimental to the movement.
Whether we like it or not, change is being thrown at us by nature at an unprecedented scale; certainly unprecedented in the experience of homo sapiens. Our only hope is to turn away from the destructive agendas of our present governments all across the world and build change from the grassroots up.
It’s time to remember the value of communities.
I write because of you!
Over this day, the number of subscribers to Learning from Dogs has gone from 1,048 to 1,052!
Usually when a new person opts to follow these scribblings of mine, I have the opportunity to email them or go to their own blog and leave a note of grateful thanks.
But for reasons unknown, these recent new subscribers have signed up ‘anonymously’!
So whoever you are, I want you to know that readers and subscribers are the only reasons this blog has gone on for more than five years.
I write because of you!
Except this version isn’t funny!
I’m really showing my age and cultural upbringing through the choice of this title to today’s post.
For The Goon Show was an integral part of my ‘education’ during my formative years. Spike Milligan was an outstanding actor in The Goon Show, a comedy legend, along with Peter Sellers and Harry Secombe; not forgetting the narratives from Wallace Greenslade.
The Goon Show ran from 1951 to 1960 (I was born in 1944) broadcast by the BBC Home Service.
What’s this all leading up to?
Simply that a recent speech by George Monbiot reveals such utter madness in the upper echelons of the United Kingdom that only reflecting on The Goon Show offers any meaning to this old Brit. Not that the USA escapes Mr. Monbiot’s analysis.
Here’s how the speech opens:
The Pricing of Everything
Ladies and gentlemen, we are witnessing the death of both the theory and the practice of neoliberal capitalism. This is the doctrine which holds that the market can resolve almost all social, economic and political problems. It holds that people are best served, and their prosperity is best advanced, by the minimum of intervention and spending by the state. It contends that we can maximise the general social interest through the pursuit of self-interest.
To illustrate the spectacular crashing and burning of that doctrine, let me tell you the sad tale of a man called Matt Ridley. He was a columnist on the Daily Telegraph until he became – and I think this tells us something about the meritocratic pretensions of neoliberalism – the hereditary Chair of Northern Rock: a building society that became a bank. His father had been Chair of Northern Rock before him, which appears to have been his sole qualification.
While he was a columnist on the Telegraph he wrote the following:
The government “is a self-seeking flea on the backs of the more productive people of this world. … governments do not run countries, they parasitize them.”(1) He argued that taxes, bail-outs, regulations, subsidies, interventions of any kind are an unwarranted restraint on market freedom. When he became Chairman of Northern Rock, Mr Ridley was able to put some of these ideas into practice. You can see the results today on your bank statements.
In 2007 Matt Ridley had to go cap in hand to the self-seeking flea and beg it for what became £27 billion. This was rapidly followed by the first run on a British bank since 1878. The government had to guarantee all the deposits of the investors in the bank. Eventually it had to nationalise the bank, being the kind of parasitic self-seeking flea that it is, in order to prevent more or less the complete collapse of the banking system. (2)
You can read the full transcript and look up the references over on the George Monbiot website.
However, a real bonus is that his speech (delivered without notes!), his SPERI Annual Lecture, hosted by the Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Sheffield, was recorded on video.
Please set aside a quiet hour (and a tad) to listen to George Monbiot and wonder at the goon show that we are all acting out! In fact, watching his speech and his answers to a number of questions from the audience will give you something that the transcript just can’t convey. Watch it! You will be inspired!
(SPERI Annual Lecture by George Monbiot: “The Pricing of Everything” at the Octagon in Sheffield, UK, on 29th April 2014.)
Back to dear old Spike Milligan and to close with what seems like a very apt quote of his.
“All I ask is the chance to prove that money can’t make me happy.“
Yes, it’s a new word to me as well!
As I have been intimating previously, today is the start of my mother from London visiting us here in Oregon. Thus, as one would expect, time for blogging is going to be restricted. Then in a week’s time, we are also joined by my sister, Elizabeth, who lives in Tokyo. So, dear reader, you will understand if there is a deficit of creative writing, assuming you find some of it creative, why that is.
Does your dog pronk?
Alpacas, gazelles, some deer and baby lambs are all known to pronk. That is, they leap into the air as if leaping for joy, lifting all four feet off the ground at once. The fact that – in some species like sheep – young animals do it more than older ones does suggest playfulness. But, among wild animals, pronking may be a way of avoiding predators. It means something like, “Hey, I’m very fit so don’t bother chasing me.”
But how about dogs? I didn’t find much online discussion about true dog-pronking, although many of us, at one time or another, may have seen our dog leaping for joy. I recall my own dog Snoop (rest his soul) released from the car in a South Dakota meadow, leaping and running like crazy through the long grass for maybe 20 minutes, until we called him back. It was one of the most joyful things I’ve ever seen, and definitely one of my best memories of Snoop.
So enjoy the videos below. And, by the way, although it is a survival strategy for some, the very word pronk comes from an Afrikaans verb pronk-, which means show off or strut. It has the same linguistic derivation as our English verb prance.
“Pronking” seems to occur when an animal gets excited and jumps around his field, leaving the ground with all four feet simultaneousl, almost as though he had springs attached to his feet..Often these jumps can be high in the air.No-one really knows why llamas pronk. Certainly it is the response to some sort of excitement or disturbance. It is often infectious; sometimes my entire herd will take off. I am told that it isn’t only llamas but sheep and goats. Those of you old enough to remember BBC’s Magic Roundabout may well recall that Zebedee was a “pronker”. We never had a telly as kids, but I believe Zebedee was a dog (??).
Bottom line: Among wild animals, pronking seems to be a way of avoiding predators. But when you see an animal pronk, you can’t but think it’s leaping for joy.
So there you go. Don’t say that Learning from Dogs doesn’t teach you some new words from time to time!
Delighted to introduce a guest picture parade for this week.
As you are aware, a great aspect of this world of blogging are the connections we make. Thus it was that as a result of Kristin signing up to follow Learning from Dogs I was made aware that she is the author of an Australian blog Fluidicthought and describes herself:
I became interested in Photography whilst creating a business site blog for Point Plaza Apartments.
I simply enjoy capturing a scene that moves me.
Photographs capture that moment in time. Here we have pieces of time that I have captured and can share with others.
Copyright – Please ask permission before
reproducing my photography.
You are most welcome to use
information posted here. I
appreciate the link back or
© Kristin Jones
Her photographs were delightful and Kristin readily agreed for me to use them for today’s picture parade. A picture parade with a story.
WOODY POINT is a suburb on the western side of the Redcliffe Peninsula.
The first recorded English explorer to set foot on the Peninsula was Lt. Matthew Flinders, who landed near Woody Point on the 17th July 1799 while exploring Moreton Bay.
On 14th September 1824 the brig ‘Amity‘ brought a party of officials, soldiers, their wives and children, and 29 convicts. They landed on the beach near the mouth of Humpybong Creek to form a convict settlement.
Much of the peninsula was subdivided into farm lots in the early 1870s. The construction of the peninsula’s first significant jetty at Woody Point (1882) brought about some development. Visitors and holiday-makers came via a weekly ferry.
The post office directory of 1901 recorded the Great Western Hotel (1883), three boarding houses, a school, a butcher and a store at Woody Point. In 1925 there were also the Belvedere and Woody Point Hotels.
The Hornibrook Bridge was opened by Queensland Premier Arthur Edward Moore on 14 October 1935, connecting the Redcliffe district at Clontarf and Brisbane City at Brighton. The bridge had a length of 2.684 kilometres. The toll for cars was one shilling per vehicle.
The Hornibrook Bridge was one of three bridges that crossed Bramble Bay. The second is the Houghton Highway, which was built to accommodate rising traffic levels in the 1970s. The third is the Ted Smout Memorial Bridge, which opened to traffic in July 2010.
The Ted Smout Memorial Bridge and its twin, the Houghton Highway, were Australia’s longest bridges, (as of 27 March 2013.) It is the first bridge in Australia designed to withstand Hurricane Katrina-type storm events. Ted Smout was born in 1898, joining the Royal Australian Army Medical Corps aged 17 (lied about his age to get in). He was awarded France’s highest honour, being made a Chevalier (Knight) of the Legion d’Honneur in 1998 and also received the Medal of the Order of Australia for service to the community. He died 106 years old.
Woody Point’s Apex Park & Bicentennial Park were constructed by reclaiming land along the foreshore in the 1970s. A $9.5 million Woody Point Jetty and foreshore upgrade was completed in January 2009.
Woody Point’s current renovations include the construction of high-rise apartment buildings overlooking Bramble Bay, Moreton Bay, The Port of Brisbane and the Ted Smout Highway.
(Reference – Redcliffe Historical Society, Wikipedia and Queensland Places website)
Author – Kristin Jones
Hope you all enjoyed Kristin’s guest Picture Parade as I did.
Another guest post from her in a couple of week’s time.
But possibly not quite in the way you imagined I meant!
Yesterday, my post included a fascinating essay from Patrice Ayme, 40 Billion Earths? Yes & No.
Thus it was rather fun to come across, more or less by chance, an essay from the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics under the title of Is The Universe A Bubble? The essay describes how Perimeter Associate Faculty member Matthew Johnson and his colleagues are working to bring the multiverse hypothesis, which to some sounds like a fanciful tale, firmly into the realm of testable science. It opens:
Never mind the big bang; in the beginning was the vacuum. The vacuum simmered with energy (variously called dark energy, vacuum energy, the inflation field, or the Higgs field). Like water in a pot, this high energy began to evaporate – bubbles formed.
Each bubble contained another vacuum, whose energy was lower, but still not nothing. This energy drove the bubbles to expand. Inevitably, some bubbles bumped into each other. It’s possible some produced secondary bubbles. Maybe the bubbles were rare and far apart; maybe they were packed close as foam.
But here’s the thing: each of these bubbles was a universe. In this picture, our universe is one bubble in a frothy sea of bubble universes.
That’s the multiverse hypothesis in a bubbly nutshell.
It’s not a bad story. It is, as scientists say, physically motivated – not just made up, but rather arising from what we think we know about cosmic inflation.
Cosmic inflation isn’t universally accepted – most cyclical models of the universe reject the idea. Nevertheless, inflation is a leading theory of the universe’s very early development, and there is some observational evidence to support it.
It includes this interesting video:
and concludes, thus:
Meanwhile, the team is at work figuring out what other kinds of evidence a bubble collision might leave behind. It’s the first time, the team writes in their paper, that anyone has produced a direct quantitative set of predictions for the observable signatures of bubble collisions. And though none of those signatures has so far been found, some of them are possible to look for.
The real significance of this work is as a proof of principle: it shows that the multiverse can be testable. In other words, if we are living in a bubble universe, we might actually be able to tell.
– Erin Bow
So that’s blown the dust off your Saturday brains! You can go and hug your dog now! :-)
The second, and last, episode of the BBC Clouds Lab programme offers an intriguing message.
On Monday, I published a post under the title of The clouds above us. The second episode demonstrated that even in atmospheric conditions of near vacuum, intense cold and very low humidity, conditions that would kill a human in seconds, there was microscopic bacteriological material to be found.
Exploring the troposphere
The troposphere is a turbulent layer of air that begins at the Earth’s surface and ranges from 23,000-65,000 feet above sea level, depending on the latitude, season and the time of day. Its name originates from the Greek word tropos, meaning change. It’s now known that bacteria actually exists in clouds and scientists believe that it plays a significant part in the creation of rain but little is known about life higher up. Microbiologist Dr Chris Van Tulleken has discovered that living bacteria can exist well above 10,000ft in a hostile environment with low pressure, increased UV radiation, freezing temperatures, high winds and no oxygen or water.
There is an interesting set of clips to be watched on that BBC Cloud Lab website.
What I took away from watching the programme was that the minimum conditions necessary for living bacteria were far more harsh than one might expect. In other words, finding living bacteria in other solar systems might not be such a science-fiction idea.
With that in mind, I’m republishing an essay that Patrice Ayme wrote in 2013. I’m grateful for his permission to so do.
40 Billion Earths? Yes & No.
Up to twenty years ago, a reasonable opinion among scientists was that there might be just one solar system. Ours. Scientists like to project gravitas; having little green men all over didn’t look serious.
However, studying delicately the lights of stars, how they vary, how they doppler-shift, more than 1,000 planets have been found. Solar systems seem ubiquitous. Astronomers reported in 2013 that there could be as many as 40 billion habitable Earth-size planets in the galaxy. However, consider this:
Yes, that’s the center of a galaxy, and it has experienced a galactic size explosion from its central black hole.
One out of every five sun-like stars in our galaxy has a planet the size of Earth circling it in the Goldilocks zone, it seems — not too hot, not too cold — with surface temperatures compatible with liquid water. Yet, we have a monster black hole at the center of our giant galaxy, just like the one exploding above.
The Milky Way’s black hole is called Sagittarius A*. It exploded last two million years ago. Early Homo Erectus, down south, saw it. The furious lobes of the explosion are still spreading out, hundreds of thousands of light years away.
We are talking here about explosions potentially stronger than the strongest supernova by many orders of magnitude (depending upon the size of what’s falling into Sagittarius. By the way, a cloud is just heading that way).
Such galactic drama has a potential impact on the presence of advanced life. The richer the galaxy gets in various feature the situation looks, the harder it looks to compute the probability of advanced life.
The profusion of habitable planets is all the more remarkable, as the primitive methods used so far require the planet to pass between us and its star.
(The research, started on the ground in Europe, expanded with dedicated satellites, the French Corot and NASA’s Kepler spacecraft.). Sun-like stars are “yellow dwarves”. They live ten billion years.
From that, confusing “habitable” and “inhabitated”, the New York Times deduced: “The known odds of something — or someone — living far, far away from Earth improved beyond astronomers’ boldest dreams on Monday. “
However, it’s not that simple.
Primitive bacterial life is probably frequent. However advanced life (animals) is probably very rare, as many are the potential catastrophes. And one needs billions of years to go from primitive life to animals.
After life forms making oxygen on Earth appeared, the atmosphere went from reducing (full of strong greenhouse methane) to oxidizing (full of oxygen). As methane mostly disappeared, so did the greenhouse. Earth froze, all the way down to the equator:
Yet volcanoes kept on belching CO2 through the ice. That CO2 built up above the ice, caused a strong greenhouse, and the ice melted. Life had survived. Mighty volcanism has saved the Earth, just in time.
That “snowball Earth” catastrophe repeated a few times before the Earth oxygen based system became stable. Catastrophe had been engaged, several times, but the disappearance of oxygen creating life forms had been avoided, just barely.
Many are the other catastrophes we have become aware of, that could wipe out advanced life: proximal supernovas or gamma ray explosions.
Cataclysmic eruption of the central galactic black hole happen frequently. The lobes from the last one are still visible, perpendicularly high off the galactic plane. The radiation is still making the Magellanic Stream simmer, 200,000 light years away. Such explosions have got to have sterilized a good part of the galaxy.
In 2014 when part of the huge gas cloud known as G2 falls into Sagittarius A*, we will learn better how inhospitable the central galaxy is for advanced life.
Many of the star systems revealed out there have surprising feature: heavy planets (“super Jupiters“) grazing their own stars. It’s unlikely those giants were formed where they are. They probably swept their entire systems, destroying all the rocky planets in their giant way. We don’t understand these cataclysmic dynamics, but they seem frequent.
Solar energy received on Earth fluctuated and changed a lot, maybe from one (long ago) to four (now). But, as it turned out just so that Earthly life could survive. Also the inner nuclear reactor with its convective magma and tectonic plates was able to keep the carbon dioxide up in the air, just so.
The Goldilocks zones astronomers presently consider seem to be all too large to allow life to evolve over billions of years. They have to be much narrower and not just with red dwarves (the most frequent and long living stars).
One of our Goldilocks, Mars, started well, but lost its CO2 and became too cold. The other Goldilocks, Venus, suffered the opposite major technical malfunction: a runaway CO2 greenhouse.
Mars’ axis of rotation tilts on the solar system’s plane enormously: by 60 degrees, over millions of years. So Mars experiences considerable climatic variations over the eons, as it goes through slow super winters and super summers (it’s imaginable that, as the poles melt, Mars is much more habitable during super summers; thus life underground, hibernating is also imaginable there).
Earth’s Moon prevents this sort of crazy hyper seasons. While, differently from Venus, Earth rotates at reasonable clip, homogenizing the temperatures. Venus takes 243 days to rotate.
It is startling that, of the four inner and only rocky planets, just one, Earth has a rotation compatible with the long term evolution of advanced life.
Earth has also two striking characteristics: it has a very large moon that store much of the angular momentum of the Earth-Moon system. Without Moon, the Earth would rotate on itself once every 8 hours (after 5 billion years of braking by Solar tides).
The Moon used to hover at least ten times closer than now, when earth’s days were at most 6 hours long.
The tidal force is the difference between gravitational attraction in two closely separated places, so it’s the differential of said attraction (which is proportional to 1/dd; d being the distance). Hence the tidal force is inversely proportional to the cube of the distance.
Thus on early Earth tides a kilometer high were common, washing back and forth every three hours. a hyper super tsunami every three hours, going deep inside the continents. Not exactly conditions you expect all over the universe.
Hence biological material fabricated on the continental margins in shallow pools would get mixed with the oceans readily. That would guarantee accelerated launch of life (and indeed we know life started on Earth very fast).
The theory of formation of the Moon is wobbly (recent detailed computations of the simplest impact theory do not work). All we know for sure, thanks to the Moon rocks from Apollo, is that the Moon is made of Earth mantle materials.
Somehow the two planets split in two. (Fission. Get it? It maybe a hint.)
Another thing we know for sure is that Earth has, at its core, a giant nuclear fission reactor, keeping Earth’s core hotter than the surface of the sun. An unimaginable liquid ocean of liquid iron deep down inside below our feet undergoes iron weather. Hell itself, the old fashion way, pales in comparison.
Could the Moon and the giant nuclear reactor have the same origin? This is my provocative question of the day. The Moon, our life giver, could well have formed from giant nuclear explosions, of another of our life givers, what became the nuke at the core. I can already hear herds of ecologists yelp in the distance. I present the facts, you pseudo-ecologists don’t decide upon them. It’s clear that nuclear fission is not in Drake equation: if nothing else, it’s too politically incorrect.
All the preceding makes this clear:
Many are the inhabitable planets, yet few will be inhabitated by serious denizens.
This means that the cosmos is all for our taking. The only question is how to get there. The closest stars in the Proxima, Beta and Alpha Centauri system are not attainable, for a human crew, with existing technology.
However, if we mastered clean colossal energy production, of the order of the entire present energy production of humanity, we could get a colony there (only presently imaginable technology would be fusion).
Giordano Bruno, professor, astronomer, and priest suggested that there were many other inhabitated systems around the stars. That insult against Islam meant Christianity was punished the hard way: the Vatican, the famous terrorist organization of god crazies, put a device in Giordano’s mouth that pierced his palate, and having made sure that way that he could not tell the truth, the terrorists then burned him alive. After seven years of torture.
The horror of truth was unbearable to theo-plutocrats.
Now we face something even worse: everywhere out there is very primitive life. It is likely gracing 40 billion worlds. But, if one has to duplicate the succession of miracles and improbabilities that made Earth, to earn advanced life, it may be just here that civilization ever rose to contemplate them.
Congratulations to India for launching yesterday a mission to Mars ostensibly to find out if there is life there (by finding CH4; while life is presently unlikely, Mars has much to teach, including whether it started there). That’s the spirit!
The spirit is to have minds go where even imagination itself did not go before.
If we sit back, and look at the universe we have now, from Dark Matter, to Dark Energy, to Sagittarius, to the nuclear reactor below, to billions of Earths, to a strange Higgs, to Non Aristotelian logic, we see a wealth, an opulence of possibilities inconceivable twenty years ago.
Progress is not just about doing better what was done yesterday. It’s also about previously inconceivable blossoms of entirely new mental universes.
Maybe, we are not alone!