Grandpa Tell Me

by Duane Bristow


In 2010 I reached the contemplative stage of life as my children matured and left the nest and I began to retire from the working or wealth accumulation stage. (See the stages of life.) I began to reflect on what I had learned and on my life experiences and to write about these reflections. Eventually I put into a directory on my computer called "All" everything that I was writing as well as other data not for public view. My writings included; not only reflections on science, history and philosophy; but also things I wrote for fun such as fantasy and erotic writings. Later I made a directory called "Show" which was the part of my writings I was willing to make public. Basically it did not include my writings for fun and other private data files in "All". Show is a subset of All.

My writings first included my legacy and my lifebook and a summary of my beliefs and an essay about the future of humans and writings about history and science and philosophy and a number of other essays and web pages and then evolved to "Brain Droppings". Now, in 2018, I am going to another stage in which I intend to summarize my writings in a format of answers to questions from a theoretical granddaughter. This is a fantasy, probably, of most grandparents; that their grand children would want to learn from the grandparent's experiences and then build their lives with that foundation. This is unlikely to happen because each person has to go through the stages of life on their own; first as a student and then as a parent and worker; before reaching their own contemplative stage of life. But it is possible that, during their student phase, some might want to learn from older people.

This fantasy grandchild, who I will call "Jane", is an eighteen year old girl who has learned the basics of life from her parents and her peers and her school but thinks that she might be able to get additional insight and a different point of view about the bigger questions of life from an older person who she has realized over the years of her young life has a different perspective on life than those of her or her parent's generations.

I expect that much of this endeavor will be a rehash and rewriting and, perhaps, direct copy or link to my previous writings but it may also include some new perspectives.

Duane Bristow
July 30, 2018


  1. Reality
  2. Our World
  3. Biological Imperative
  4. Purpose of Life - Maximize Happiness
  5. How to Live Life
  6. The Cultured Person
  7. Economics
  8. Our Political Environment
  9. Our Culture
  10. Our History
  11. The Arts and the Sciences
  12. Life Skills
  13. Grandpa's Lifebook
  14. Investing
  15. Wealth and Intelligence
  16. Humanism
  17. Sexual Harassment

"Grandpa, Is there an objective reality and what is Fake News?"

There is a story that as his life begins each person has a choice of taking a red pill or a blue pill. The red pill will enable the person to see life and the world as it really is. The blue pill will let the person see life and the world as he thinks it should be or would like it to be.

The problem is that everyone thinks they have taken the red pill and others have taken the blue pill when, in reality, all have taken the blue pill.

Humans, and maybe some other life forms, are unique in that, as their mind develops, they also develop a consciousness of the world around them and of themselves as separate from that world.

During a person's life his brain develops neural pathways which determine such things as his personality, his pattern recognition ability and other parameters of his intelligence. This development is very rapid at first beginning just three weeks after conception and then slows down with perhaps 50% of it done by age 3, 75% by age 10 or 12, 90% by age 20 and 95% by age 30. This is the period of his life when he develops beliefs about how to live his life to prevent things which might hurt him. He learns not to touch a hot stove, not to fall from high places, to swim or avoid water, to brush his teeth each day, to eat fruits and vegetables, to get exercise and how he prefers to get it and other physical things. He might also develop beliefs that he is a sinner and a fear of hell or that he is a Democrat or a Republican or a Catholic or a Jew or a Muslim. He may develop the belief that he should not step on a crack in the sidewalk or that strangers are out to harm him or that he will live longer if he visits a doctor regularly or if he eats an apple daily. He will also develop skills like how to drive a car or how to hit a baseball or how to type or how to cook or to clean or whatever. And he will develop preferences about what types of things he likes to do in life and those he dislikes and will settle in to a lifestyle and perhaps a job or profession and to types of social relationships.

Many habits he develops will not be the most efficient and many of his beliefs will not be based on fact but instead on a fantasy that he has learned from others. However, as he ages, these brain patterns will become hardened and will be increasingly hard to change even if he later learns that they are incorrect or that there are better ways of doing things or better ways to live his life. The world view that he develops will become very important to him as defining who he is and he will very vigorously resist any information which might get him to question or change his world view or his ingrained habits.

This development is influenced by the person's DNA, his environment and random occurrences that happen in his life.

As a child we develop a world view as our brains and personalities develop. This world view is based on influences from our physical and our economic environment and the social influences in our lives. This means we usually have a world view that is much like that of others around us and that we think of ourselves as part of a group such as a family or a community or a religion or a nation or combinations of these and other such groups.

It would seem to me that as we have aged enough and developed a world view which has began to harden in our minds, the test of the validity of such a world view would be its consistency. We know that our minds are capable of holding beliefs which contradict each other at the same time. However, I would think that the contradictions themselves would raise, at least some, doubts about their validity.

As for objective truth:
Objective truth is generally considered to be those things determined to have a high probability of truth by means of the scientific method. This basically means that a hypothesis is proven by experimentation and observation and deduction. Nothing can just be assumed to be true because it seems true or because most people seem to believe it or because someone famous said it. People once believed the earth was flat because it looked flat. At that time and place this was considered to be objective truth because it was based on observation and deduction. Later, more data collected, such as the observation that a ship sailing away seemed to drop out of sight as if the horizon was curved, led to the deduction that the earth might be round. Eventually as even more data seemed to confirm this hypothesis then the round earth theory was believed to be objective truth.

Now, as to what is now called fake news:
This term actually means that pretty much all the information which one learns in life is fake in that it is presented from the bias of its source. So history is fake and religion is fake and patriotism is fake. There is more to the way information is presented to you by others than whether the information is factual or partially factual or false. First of all, is the process of deciding what information of a wealth of possibilities is to be presented and what information is to be ignored or hidden. Second, is the information presented in perspective and in context so that the context is understood? Third, is the information actually significant to you or does the fact that it has been presented to you give it more significance than it actually deserves?

It is up to the deductive ability of the individual person to take information from various sources and evaluate it for consistency with his already developed world view and decide the truth of it and integrate it into his world view in light of what he determines to be its truth and its significance.

Teleological thinking involves ascribing intentions and purposes to features of the world that may not have any consciousness or desires at all. One example Dieguez gave is the thought that the sun rises to provide us light — when in reality the sun appears to rise in the sky because of the Earth's rotation in the solar system.

These patterns of thought are "part of children’s earliest intuitions about the world," the authors, led by Pascal Wagner-Egger, note in the paper.

"This type of thinking is anathema to scientific reasoning, and especially to evolutionary theory, and was famously mocked by Voltaire, whose character Pangloss believed that 'noses were made to wear spectacles.'" said Dieguez. "Yet it is very resilient in human cognition, and we show that it is linked not only to creationism, but also to conspiracism."

One way to detect teleological thinking in individuals if to find that they subscribe to views such as, "Nothing happens by accident" or "Everything happens for a reason." The researchers found that these types of views correspond closely with a propensity to believe conspiracy theories.

But this kind of thinking also bears a striking resemblance to creationism — the view that Darwinian evolution by natural selection didn't occur and that life on Earth was specifically designed (by God, it is usually assumed) with the diversity of species that we see today.

It's worth noting that this view itself may carry with it the corresponding belief that evolutionary views are themselves the result of a conspiracy to deceive the public about the origins of life.

In a series of surveys, Dieguez and other researchers found that teleological thinking, conspiracy theories, and creationism were correlated — albeit sometimes only "modestly" — with one another.

"By drawing attention to the analogy between creationism and conspiracism, we hope to highlight one of the major flaws of conspiracy theories and therefore help people detect it, namely that they rely on teleological reasoning by ascribing a final cause and overriding purpose to world events," Dieguez says. "We think the message that conspiracism is a type of creationism that deals with the social world can help clarify some of the most baffling features of our so-called 'post-truth era.'"

Understanding how these beliefs propagate and why they are so compelling to people — even when, as in the case of Q Anon, they are so obviously nonsense — is critically important to find a way to prevent their spread. The researchers hope their work can help educators and communicators better refute and undermine false theories and beliefs.

Statements which imply that nature has goals, for example where a species is said to do something "in order to" achieve survival, appear teleological, and therefore invalid.

A lot of people will say something like “giraffes evolved long necks in order to reach the leaves of tall trees,” or “bats evolved echolocation as a way of seeing in darkness.”

That makes sense to us. We see the problem and identify the solution. That way of putting it works for our innately goal-oriented minds. We can say this to children and have them immediately understand.

The problem is that it is implicitly ascribing intelligence to a non-intelligent process. When talking about evolution, we shouldn’t say “… evolved in order to…”, we should rephrase it as “… evolved in response to…” Biological structures and behaviours evolve in response to the pressures of the environment. Bat echolocation evolved because the random mutations that benefitted individuals in that environment were passed on, not because a consciousness (bat collective or deity) willed it that way.

Evolution is a natural process. It has no mind, no intent, no planning. It is just the continued expression of physics and chemistry. A ball rolling down a hill doesn’t ‘want’ to be at a low altitude. It’s not ‘trying’ to expel its potential energy. The ball is not thinking, and neither is there an intelligent agent deciding how the ball should move. It is simply obeying the laws of the universe, just like biology.

Discussing goals in evolution is focussing on the wrong thing. It’s backwards. That’s exactly like shooting an arrow blind and then painting a target around it after it landed. Giraffes didn’t ‘conspire’ to evolve long necks. Birds didn’t ‘choose’ to evolve wings. Long necks and wings is where they happened to end up after millions of years of subtle pressure from the environment.

When we say that organisms have the ‘goal’ of survival, we are anthropomorphising. We are lending agency to a process we know has no agency. It is understandable and our language even supports that view, but in the field of evolutionary biology, especially when it is being attacked by ideological agendas like Creationism that actually and aggressively asserts agency for our origins, there is no place for that kind of biased thinking.

It is the belief that what exists and what is happening does so for a purpose planned by some entity and this gives rise to creationism and conspiracy theories.


"Grandpa, Who are we and what is the nature of our world?"

We are organic beings which, through the providence of an infinite universe in which islands of order occasionally emerge from the chaos of continual creation and destruction, have evolved to a point of consciousness. This means that we have a perception of ourselves and a universe around us. Since this is what we perceive the question of its reality is a question with no meaning. Our purpose is to be aware of our own consciousness which is defined as an existence which can appreciate the universe. We should celebrate the fact that we exist as a part of the universe.

Our consciousness is the way in which the universe has become aware of itself.

To the extent that we appreciate and are aware of the rest of the universe around us, we fulfill our destiny.

Beyond the lives of our individual bodies, we want to preserve our specific DNA traits, our species, life on our planet and beyond that life in the universe.

We are aware that our physical bodies are limited in time, but how much more tragic would we feel our existence if we knew that we were the last of our race or our species or life on the earth or life in the universe.

We do not know that life such as us is the only way in which the universe is conscious. Perhaps Gaia is conscious or perhaps galaxy clusters are conscious or perhaps there is a type of consciousness at a quantum level.

But we feel that a universe without any consciousness to appreciate it would have no purpose and thus could not exist.

Death of the individual does not result in the death of the DNA if reproduction has occurred during life and death of the individual results in the same state of being as existed before birth.
As one of the Borg, I perceive myself as an individual which is a part of something larger, first in the long term existence of the strands of DNA which define me and also as a part of a social structure. My physical world of matter and energy, my biological existence as DNA and the social and cultural structures into which my individual being is interweaved will have an existence measured in time longer than my individual existence.

Man is a social animal and, as such, tends to thrive best as a member of and with the support of a social structure which exists to use the strengths of the strong to support the weak because the mind and the personality are of value more than physical, mental and economic strengths and skills.

The course of our lives is a result of somewhat random events over which we have little control. We are not watched over by angels or attacked by the forces of evil. We just are.

The purpose of life is to maximize happiness for oneself and for others. Life involves the daily facts of living, learning, loving, reproducing, socializing and coming to terms with the fact of one's own existence and the temporary nature of his life. The purpose of life is not to serve and/or worship gods or rulers or to dominate others or to amass vast quantities of material goods. To the extent one does these things, he has missed the point.

Ten thousand years ago, the mass, the weight, all of the humans on the earth, plus all our pets, plus all the livestock we keep to feed ourselves, was 0.1% of 1% – one tenth of one percent – of the mass, the weight, of all the mammals on the earth. The rest of the mammals – elephants and tigers and rhinos and whales and kangaroos etc – made up 99.9% of the mass of all the mammals on the earth.

By 200 years ago, humans, our pets and our livestock had increased from 0.1% to 10-12% of the mass of the mammals of the earth.

Now, we, our pets and our livestock make up 96% – 98% of the mass of the mammals of the earth. The poor old elephants and tigers and rhinos and whales and kangaroos and all the rest of the mammals have gone from 99.9% to just 2 – 4%.

· Since the Year 1500, around the world, more than 150 species of bird have become extinct. One in 8 species is now at risk of worldwide extinction, and 190 bird species are critically endangered. Of the common European birds, 45% are in decline, and 20 common North American species have halved in number in the past 40 years.

· One in two mammals are shrinking in number, and nearly one in four species is at risk of extinction. More than 3000 species are critically endangered, including land icons such as the African mountain gorilla and the Sumatran orangutan, and sea icons such as whales, dolphins and seals. Australia has 59 species – more than in one in five – threatened ; the mountain pygmy possum is down to 2000 and the Tasmanian Devil has suffered a 60% drop in numbers in a decade.

Reg Morrison put it like this: “the 300 million tonnes of humanity that the Earth currently supports has an appetite so voracious that the planet and its biota can meet our demands only by divesting itself of vast numbers of other energy consumers”.

The biologist Edward O. Wilson calculates that humans have presided over the extinction of between 10% and 20% of Earth’s prehistoric inventory of species.

The normal ‘background’ extinction rate is about one species per million species each year. Human activity has increased extinction between 100 and 1,000 times over this level in the rainforest by reduction in area alone.

According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation the earth is down to its last 5% of tropical forest cover, and is losing that at a rate of over 200,000 square kilometres a year, with the rate of loss increasing. The world has entered the twenty-first century with little more than 10% of its original forest cover intact. According to anthropologists Richard Leakey and Roger Lewis all the forest cover will be largely gone by 2050.


"Grandpa, What is our biological imperative and what is the nature of our body?"

The biological imperative is that we reproduce so that our DNA is passed on to the future. There is also a social imperative which is that we pass our culture or our memes on to future generations also. So we must, not only produce children, but also educate them so that our culture is not lost. These things we are compelled to do by the nature of our bodies as expressed by the codes contained in our DNA.

The 10 biological imperatives of life, including Homo sapiens
Posted by Martin A. Moe, Jr on September 7, 2016

1/ Oxygen (air). The element oxygen is imperative for almost all life on 
Earth. Our atmosphere is 21% oxygen with the rest made up almost entirely of 
nitrogen along with other gases at pretty much trace levels. Oxygen is the 
element in air that allows animals, including humans, to conduct the chemistry 
of life. The 21% is critical because below 17% not enough oxygen is present to 
allow for comfortable breathing and oxygen levels above 25% creates highly 
flammable environmental conditions. Without exposure to air that contains the 
proper oxygen level, animals die relatively quickly. Thus air (oxygen) is the 
most immediately critical imperative for human life. 

2/ Water. Water is a molecule composed of one atom of hydrogen and two atoms 
of oxygen. It has a liquid, vapor, and solid form, and as a liquid it is the 
ultimate solvent and is present and critical to the chemistry and conduct of 
the life of plants and animals. Life as we know it cannot exist without the 
presence of water. In one way or another all animals ingest and excrete water 
and without this compound, life ends. A human body is 60% water and needs 
about 2.5 quarts every day taken in as liquids and as content in food. Without 
water intake, the human body will die in three to five days when deprived of 
water. Thus availability of water is the second most critical imperative for 
human life. 

3/ Food. Human intake of food is highly variable, dependent on location, 
culture, economics, personal preference, and availability. Being biologically 
omnivorous, humans eat both plants and animals and can survive on many various 
diets, some healthy and some not healthy. Without available food suitable to 
the species (including in some instances a symbiotic association with plants), 
animals die. In a situation with total absence of food, most humans will 
starve to death within three to four weeks. The critical element in food is 
carbon. Life on Earth is based on carbon because it easily bonds with most 
other elements, especially oxygen, hydrogen, and nitrogen, and forms molecules 
of fats, proteins, hormones, DNA, sugars, is present in all body tissues, and 
is the critical player in the physiology of life. Actually carbon is food and 
humans consume carbon in every meal. Starvation is a highly variable process 
and depends greatly upon the condition and circumstance of the individual. 
However, life, including human life, requires frequent intake of nutrients 
suitable for fueling the physiology of the physical body, thus food is the 
third most critical imperative for human life. 

4/ Elimination. Elimination of urine and solid waste is usually overlooked 
when imperatives/requirements for life are discussed. After all, it does 
happen pretty much automatically and it is a biological corollary of ingestion 
and processing of water and nutrients by both plants and animals. With animals 
urine containing water and metabolic waste must be eliminated often, at least 
several times a day, and solid waste must be eliminated regularly every day or 
at least every few days and if elimination does not happen, life cannot 
continue for very long. Elimination is a critical imperative for life and 
ranks on the same level as water and food. 

5/ Sleep. Sleep is a complex essential behavior to animals with brains and it 
varies greatly in the animal kingdom. It is keyed to the circadian timer of 
the species and is also evolved to adapt to the environmental requirements of 
different species. For example some species sleep at night and some sleep 
during the day, some sleep for short periods, only 3 to 5 hours and some for 
long periods, 18 to 20 hours. Some species sleep with only parts of their 
brain at one time, for example dolphins have unihemispheric sleep, only one 
side of their brain sleeps at any one time while the side that is awake 
maintains movement and environmental awareness. Although the requirements and 
conduct of sleep may vary, sleep is essential to healthy brain activity and 
animal with brains require some form of sleep. Without sleep, perhaps a week 
or two, perhaps a few months at most, humans die.  Thus for animals with 
brains sleep is imperative for life. 

6/ Shelter. The need for shelter among animals is also greatly variable, as is 
the definition of shelter. Shelter is typically a place where it is safe to 
sleep, where the animal is protected from whatever there is in the environment 
that threatens life such as excessive, cold, heat, sun, water, wind, and 
predators. Seeking shelter may be an instinctive reaction or a thoughtful 
selection of a protected area, and usually both. It may be a particular place 
found or constructed such as a cave, a burrow, a nest, a cover of sand, a 
tree, a coral reef, a house, or an apartment in a city (humans, cockroaches, 
ants, and mice); or it may be just the shelter, sustenance, and safety 
provided by conspecifics such a huddle of penguins, a herd of buffalo, a 
school of fish, a clowder of cats, a pack of wolves, a colony of rats, a flock 
of birds, or a tower of giraffes. In all cases, shelter is recognition of, or 
manufacture of, an environmental niche that affords some degree of protection 
from the dangers inherent in the ecosystem that the species has evolved to 
inhabit. Some recognition or enhancement of an environment that provides 
protection to an animal species is imperative to the life of individuals of 
that species. Without the “shelter” that is required by the species, an 
individual has little chance of survival. The time frame of the life of an 
individual that cannot find safety and shelter is variable, but seldom long. 

7/ Conspecifics. Conspecifics are members of the same species. A species is 
more than a group of individual plants or animals that through their genetic 
sympatry have to the ability to reproduce with each other. In an ecological 
framework they are a family, flock, herd, gaggle, group, school, tribe, 
culture; a small, middling, or vast aggregation of individuals that form a 
gene pool. A gene pool is a body that is more than a random collection of 
individuals; it is a genetic entity that is in competition with other gene 
pools, and members of it’s own gene pool as well, for space and sustenance. 
This mix of competition and dependence drives its capability to evolve and 
adapt to changing environments. Every gene pool (species) is always dependent 
on other gene pools for its survival and evolution. All of humanity is 
conspecific; we are all part of the greater homo sapiens gene pool, and like 
all other species, we are dependent on our conspecifics for our individual and 
group survival. We are also dependent on the other species of plants and 
animals that occupy this Earth for our own survival. From birth to death, we 
receive life and give life to our conspecifics. We also, like many other 
species, often take life from our conspecifics in a competition for living 
space and sustenance, but to a greater extent, interaction with conspecifics, 
whether just for exchange of genes, or for cooperation in large or small 
groups, is usually  imperative for individual survival and always necessary 
for species survival. 

8/ Reproduction. Reproduction, particularly in the context of childbirth and 
family units, is imperative to survival of infants, children, family, tribe 
and immediate societal structures. Almost entirely, reproduction in animals 
and most plants is dependent on division of the individual genetic complement 
and joining of half the genetic code of each parent to create an individual 
with a unique genetic code. Male and female sexuality and most all other 
physical traits as well, is determined by the recombination of genetic 
information (DNA) from each parent in each individual offspring of those 
parents. Reproduction drives the life and behavior of all organisms and Homo 
sapiens is not an exception. Without successful individual reproduction, an 
individual human being can survive and live a natural life span, but the genes 
or that individual, including beneficial and harmful mutations and 
combinations that might have occurred and that that individual carries, will 
not survive and will not contribute to future generations. 

Reproduction is also dependent on sexual behavior, and sexual behavior varies 
greatly in presence, season, and intensity in diverse animal species. In 
humans, our sex drive, the sexual awareness and biological need that drives 
reproduction, is enormous and always present. Sexuality is somehow “under the 
covers” of pretty much every human endeavor. The demeanor and conduct of 
Interaction between individuals is greatly dependent upon the gender of the 
individuals. Gender affects the interactive behavior of individuals even when 
sexuality is apparently ignored.  Sexuality is always present in one way or 
another in human comportment from childhood to old age, and dominates our 
behavior, our physical structure, our cultures, our customs, the way we dress 
and present our appearance, and in all our interactions with other 
individuals. Although human gender is determined by our genes, our 
evolutionary past and our cultures have also inserted a greater lability into 
our sexual orientation and behavior than is found in most mammals. This 
variability in social sexual behavior may be of positive or negative survival 
value to individuals depending on cultural circumstances. But apparently, 
because of the lability of sexual orientation and behavior in all the various 
populations of the human species this trait was/is in some way advantageous to 
the survival of the human species. 

Like the oceans that cover most of our Earth, our sex drive can rage with the 
intensity of a hurricane and dominate and control all thoughts, behaviors, and 
actions; or it can rest uneasily under a calm social surface that hides the 
ceaseless swells and currents of sexual thoughts. Although behavior driven by   
sexual desires often break the surface of oceans of cultural correctness and 
proper asexual behavior in vague expressions, jokes, innuendoes, and even 
subtle looks and touches. With most other mammals sexuality is restricted by a 
biological imperative of season and sexual heat; whereas with humans, it is 
our cultures, that imperfectly control our sexuality and by definition, our 
reproduction. Thus the sexuality of reproduction is a biological imperative, 
not for survival of the individual human, but as it has evolved in a multitude 
of ways to provide for the survival of all species now in existence, it is 
also a behavioral imperative for survival of the human species, 

9/ Birth. Obviously the birth of a human being or other animal is the first 
individual essential for survival. It is a biological process that every 
living human has experienced. Most of us traveled through a birth canal, but 
now many are delivered by caesarean section, surgically opening the womb 
through the abdomen to remove the baby. Up to the mid 19th century this was a 
very small part of the human birth experience done only under extreme and 
life-threatening conditions where the mother seldom (never) survived. When 
antibiotics and sterile surgical techniques were developed, survival of the 
mother became common and it is now an important part of human survival during 
the critical birthing processes of humanity. This is a prime example of how 
modern medical technological development has altered the fundamental 
essentials of human life. Birth, the beginning of a new individual, is the 
biological culmination of the reproductive process, a process that is 
essential to survival of the human species, and all other multicellular 
species as well. 

10/ Death. One may not think that death is imperative to survival of the 
individual, and obviously it is not. Ever since the development of abstract 
thinking, humans have known death to be the end of biological life, but many 
(most) have and still do, consider death as an ending that is not necessarily 
the final ending that God(s) intend for human beings; and through an 
anticipated supernatural intervention, an ending that might not occur, or that 
could, would, and might even be rescinded. But biological death for 
individuals of basically every multicellular species is imperative in the same 
sense that reproduction is required, not for survival of the individual, but 
for survival of the species. 

Life spans are variable between species and within species.  Some species such 
as the mayfly have a life span measured in days, while others such as the 
Galapagos tortoise have life spans of up to about 200 years, and some greater 
than that. What would happen if aging and death were not part of the genetic 
inheritance of individuals that compose a species? And why is the life span 
and assured eventual death of an individual important in the evolution of all 

The life span of an individual organism is “written” into the genetic code 
that is common to the species, and this is so because without a biological 
balance between the life span of the individual and the reproductive rate of 
the species, as determined by the evolution of the species within the ecology 
of an ecosystem­­–the species will become extinct. Life spans of the 
individuals that compose a species are variable within a broad or narrow time 
range, and like other biological characteristics unique to that species, are 
subject to changes demanded by evolutionary biological change. Survival of a 
species within a natural ecosystem depends on the ability of the species to 
evolve.  Overproduction or underproduction of individuals (reproduction 
without death, or life without reproduction) would either drive the species to 
extinction or drive the ecology of the ecosystem into a new balance, which 
would effect change in all species that are part of that ecosystem. 

Thus death of the individual is a biological imperative for the life and 
vitality of the species. Individual death is biologically “prearranged” to 
meet the survival needs of the species within the ecosystem in which it lives. 
Humanity is at the very beginning of understanding and directing its own 
genetic codes, which could possibly extend individual life to unknown limits. 
However, if we succeed in developing this technology, it could have great 
unforeseen effects on our existence as a biological species and on the ecology 
on which we depend for the life of our species. A world without timely human 
death for all or even for just a few, would have huge social, cultural, 
economic, ecological, and biological ramifications that, if our species 
survives and adapts to great individual life spans, would greatly change who 
we are and what we are. As long as Homo sapiens is dependent for its existence 
on a healthy natural ecology on this planet, our allotted life spans and our 
populations must be in keeping with the biological imperatives of life on 

In closing: 

Homo sapiens, the gene pool that is currently humanity, evolved in a 
tropical/temperate terrestrial environment. We are ecologically adapted to 
that basic ecosystem and we can, and in small measure still do, survive quite 
well in small extended family and tribal cultures in natural environments 
without much contact and dependence on the mores and technology inherent in 
modern human cultures. However, technology has allowed us to also survive in 
environments totally inhospitable to human life, such as on the surface of 
oceans and lakes, at the bottom of deep and shallow seas, in caves and mines 
deep under the earth, in the extremes of Artic and Antarctic winters, and for 
years about 250 miles above the earth in the cold emptiness of open space, and 
even for a short visit to the surface of the moon. But we are still prisoners 
of the biological imperatives created when biological evolution formed our 

When we venture out of the ecosystems that gave us birth, we can only survive 
if we package our biological, physical, ecological, and cultural imperatives 
and take them with us. And our survival is measure by the length of time, 
minutes, hours, days, months, years, that we can maintain these biological 
imperatives in hostile environments. Human colonization of unknown and 
inhospitable environments is difficult and in order to survive in the most 
alien of environments, where the biological essentials are not naturally  
available, a lifeline of supply and care must be established and maintained 
from the mother civilization to the colony. The more alien the new environment 
the greater the need for close contact with the civilization that supplies the 
imperatives of human life. 

Over many thousands of years, our species, Homo sapiens, has made the Earth 
into what it is today, a plethora of interrelated ecosystems that are in 
danger of collapse from the weight of human use. Despite our wishful human 
imaginations, there will be no glorious supernatural ending to our world. The 
lion will not lay down with the lamb. The Earth is what it is, it is what we 
have made it to be, and survival of our species, the promise of what we can 
be, and the critical support for human life provided by the ecology and 
ecosystems of our Earth depends on what we humans do over the next few years, 
and on into the next 100 years. We can be the first of a great new human 
culture that supports the Earth as it supports us, or the last of a great, but 
fatally flawed, human exploration into a civilization based on science and 
technology, but ruled by economics and supernatural belief that ignores the 
necessity for ecological stability of life on our unique planet. Unless we 
learn self control from our flirtation with global civilization on this planet 
we will not survive to find another. Emigration and establishment of a self 
sustaining presence on another planet will not be as “simple” as an ocean 
voyage to a “new” world. 

Martin Moe

In a study of the human microbiome it was found that 90% of the cells in the human body are not human. This means that the human consciousness of a body actually refers to an entity that is made up of millions of specialized human cells and even more millions of cells of other species living mostly in a symbiotic relationship. This is not the impression most people have of their body. See I Am Not This Body.

"Grandpa, What is the purpose of our lives?"

Other than our biological purpose, which is to reproduce our DNA, the most logical purposes I can see would be for us, during our lives, to increase the net happiness and life satisfaction of ourselves and others or to create more complexity in the universe or to try to learn, as much as possible, the nature of ourselves and the world we live in.

Happiness vs. Life Satisfaction:

Happiness is moments of pleasure often attributed to hormones such as dopamine and endorphins and drugs such as Ativan, Valium, and Xanax and stimulants such as amphetamine, caffeine, cocaine, nicotine, Ritalin, Concerta and Adderall.

Life Satisfaction is the overall feeling of how satisfied one is with the way his life is going.

Happiness is an umbrella term that is divided into two different meanings. The first meaning is often referred to as the hedonic form of happiness. Hedonic happiness is brief and transitory, made up of emotions such as joy, amusement, or ecstasy. Drugs are good at achieving hedonic happiness. The second meaning is termed eudaimonic happiness. Eudaimonic happiness is lasting and sustainable, made up of feelings like inner-peace, contentment, and life satisfaction. Drugs are not so good at achieving eudaimonic happiness. Sustainable happiness is not a sum of simple pleasures; it is a cognitive construction in which we judge our life-as-a-whole favorably. Long-term, excessive substance use usually results in actions inconsistent with values. Actions inconsistent with values usually result in people judging their lives- as-a-whole unfavorably, thus impeding eudaimonic happiness.

Despite love’s prominent role in our lives, we tend to share some fundamental misconceptions about this powerful emotional state that extends from happiness. We tend to think that love is something we fall into, that it happens by accident and without effort. Erich Fromm, in his landmark work The Art of Loving, points out that most people see the problem of love primarily as that of being loved, rather than that of loving.

Some think that one's DNA and early brain development set a range of happiness one can experience and this means that with a high range one will be optimistic and generally overall happy while with a low range one will often be depressed or unhappy.

Research shows that one's happiness is not caused so much by the circumstances of one's life as by the reality of his life versus his expectations. In other words high expectations are more likely to lead to an unhappy life while low expectations will more likely agree with reality and lead to more happy periods.

Research has also shown that if you are poor an increase in income will increase happiness up to a limit which according to the study was about $75,000 per year. Increases in income above that level had very little effect on happiness.

Happiness is more likely if one accepts the world as it is than if one is continually striving for something better.

Fear of the future is one cause of unhappiness while just living in and appreciating the present is more likely to make one happier.

The major hormones that create happy feelings are (many of the ones below also act as neurotransmitters):

Natural pain killers

"Grandpa, How should we live our lives?"

See my essay on this subject.

People's occupations:

Those which often have a net negative effect on world conditions:

Politics, government, police, military.
Although presented as for the public good, people in these positions often see their job as controlling the public and diverting wealth and resources to a privileged class. It is thought that a fully transparent democracy can be a net benefit to the world but, if these exist at all, they are rare.
These people see their job as gaining control of people's minds to influence their world view to beliefs beneficial to religious leaders and to support the status quo. Many of the leaders, as in the case of the Catholic church, also exploit the children and adults of their flock for their own personal gratification.
Commercial products and services.
Especially under a system of capitalism, the goal is to supply goods and services to the public in return for a transfer of the vast portion of wealth and power to a ruling class. An economic system based on non-profit cooperatives supplying goods and services can have a net positive effect.

Those which usually have a positive effect on the humans in the world.

Discovery of the nature of the universe and use of this knowledge for the public good.
Creation of complexity and beauty and stimulation of human imagination. These are sometimes said to be the people who make life worth living.
Transfer of culture expressed as knowledge and skills to others, particularly to future generations of people. Education can also be a means of controlling minds and protecting the status quo.

Some people are racist, greedy, authoritarian, egotistical and arrogant.
Others have none of these characteristics.

"Grandpa, What is a Cultured Person?"

Perhaps my views are arrogant or old fashioned, but, this is my view of a cultured person. First, realize that culture is the beliefs and technologies that humanity has evolved since the "cognitive revolution".

As modern man evolved he developed a significant difference in his brain that gave him the ability to be self-aware of himself as distinct from his world and a consciousness of that world and that difference and to imagine things that do not exist and to engage in abstract thinking, developing languages and systems of mathematics and writing, and the ability to hold several systems of complex thought in the mind simultaneously. Some call this development in evolution the "cognitive revolution".

The world that modern man made due to his consciousness and imagination is called his culture. It includes technology and libraries and life styles and manners that help to enhance altruism and minimize conflict.

Cultured people are said to be those people who are most immersed in this culture as opposed to those who are mostly unaware of their culture or uninterested in adopting it. So a cultured person is one who has knowledge of and uses that knowledge of history and language and reading and writing and mathematics and science and art. A cultured person has respect for and cares for and is aware of his fellow man and the world around him. He practices what his society considers good manners in his relationships with others and this includes sincerity and empathy. He is clean and well-groomed and organized, neat and orderly in his daily life.

One way to understand the answer to your question is to contrast a refined and cultured person against another who is not so cultured by trying to list some of the characteristics of an uncultured lout.

An uncultured person may be rude, violent, untruthful, uneducated and untrusting of those of other cultures. He may live in a world which shows he does not respect his environment by mistreating it. He may be surrounded by trash and chaos. He may dump his garbage out of sight rather than disposing of it properly or not dispose of it at all. He may mistreat animals, family, and servants. He may not have a good knowledge of history and language and reading and writing and mathematics and science and art. He may be ragged and dirty and not well groomed in his personal appearance.

"Grandpa, Please explain Economics to me."


"Grandpa, Please explain Government and Politics to me."

Well, more than 10,000 years ago, about all humans lived in mostly nomadic bands hunting and foraging for the plants and animals they ate. These bands were small, generally probably no more than about 150 men, women, and children, and everyone knew everyone and they all cared for each other. Under these circumstances, one or a few people would emerge as leaders due to their skills or strength or personality or age and experience. These leaders would meet with and talk with the people and they would have a good sense of the consensus of the band as to how to lead them such as when and where to move the camp, how to share resources, how to protect themselves from the hazards of nature and the possible threats or trading overtures from other bands of men and how to make the rules needed for a civilized society.

After the neolithic revolution when people learned agriculture and began to live in cities with growing populations, it was no longer possible for everyone to know everyone and for government by consensus opinion. In many of these city-states one person or a small group of people came into power and ruled by decree. In Greece, and probably in other places too, it became the custom to have town meetings in which all the people could elect rulers by vote and perhaps also decide more weighty issues.

During the middle ages from about 400 AD until the enlightenment in the 18th century rule was over large areas often encompassing many cities and the surrounding countryside. Rule of these "countries" was by Kings who had obtained absolute power in various ways and whose rule was often thought to be by divine right or approved by God.

These Kings often exploited their subjects and their lands to enrich themselves and their families and their inner circles of friends and relatives and the leaders of various provinces thus producing a society of rulers and serfs and slaves. There was also a small middle class of craftsmen and artisans and clergymen.

Some of the thinkers of the enlightenment began to question this form of government in the 13th to the 18th century and by about 1770 in the new land of the American colonies the idea of overthrowing this established order and starting a new form of government arose.

There were thirteen English colonies on the eastern seaboard of North America at that time and each was ruled by an independent minister appointed by and subject to the King of England. All the people who lived in these colonies had lived all their lives as the subjects of Kings and they knew no other way. They also knew that they were working hard in a new land and much of the wealth that they produced was being shipped back to England to enrich the ruling class there. Many felt this system was unfair and that they could rule themselves without interference from the English government if they could just seize power.

Doing so was no small undertaking and it was only successful because the much larger and stronger English government was involved in wars and intrigues with other European governments and because the Americans were far away and too insignificant for England to waste military resources in overpowering them.

Once the King was overthrown the leaders of the rebellion were faced with the problem of forming a government to replace the English form of government. They had only the history of governments in Europe and the written thoughts about government by the thinkers of the enlightenment as a guide.

These "Founding Fathers" assembled to design such a government. They had to form a government that would not only be acceptable to the people but also to each of the colonies who, at that time, thought of themselves as independent states. That is why the country that became of this process was called The United States of America.

From the beginning there was the question of how much political power was to be given to the Federal government and how much was to be retained by each state. This question was not fully decided until the end of the American Civil War in 1865.

Due to the philosophies of the enlightenment, the Founding Fathers knew that they wanted to form a democracy. The belief was that no man had any right in nature to rule over another man without the consent of the man being ruled. But, since they believed that a government was necessary for the good of the populace, it was decided that consent did not mean consent of each individual but consent of the majority as decided by vote of citizens as had been done in ancient Greece. Of course town meetings of all the people as in Greek city-states was impractical because of the size of the country being formed. So they came up with the idea of a representative democracy in which the government would consist of representatives chosen by vote in local areas called districts and also by representatives chosen by each state. This became a bicameral legislature consisting of a House of Representatives and a Senate. The House of Representatives was patterned after the idea of the House of Commons in England and the Senate came from the idea of the House of Lords in England and was named for the Senate in ancient Rome which was similar.

The Founding Fathers also decided that the rules for government that they were making would be written in a document that they called the Constitution. Then they formed a judicial branch of government consisting of judges sitting in courts to adjudicate laws passed by the legislature as to their adherence to the constitution as well as to decide punishments for those who broke those laws. This judicial branch was to have several levels so that individual judges would not have absolute power but their decisions would be subject to appeals.

It was also obvious that, though the legislature could make laws, the day to day enforcement of the laws would require an executive functioning similar to the King to which they were accustomed. The problem was how to have an executive without him seizing the powers of a King and thus becoming the King they did not want. This was addressed by giving the executive a limited time in office making his tenure subject to approval by the voters every four years and by limiting his powers by a separation of powers between the executive and the legislative and the newly created judicial branches of government.

The executive elected in this form of government would be called the President, thus the government formed was a Presidential Representative Democracy. In the Presidential system the President is elected by an Electoral College, the members of which are chosen by each state and usually by the popular vote in each state. Later, when other countries developed democracies, they would use the parliamentary system in which the executive, called the Prime Minister, would be elected by the Legislature.

After the Constitution was written there were objections by many that the form of government created would lead to a tyranny of the majority and human rights of minorities in the populace would be ignored in laws approved by majorities. For this reason a Bill of Rights was added as the first ten amendments to the Constitution listing human rights which could not be taken away by a majority government.

This is the basic idea of the government formed for the United States. Other democratic governments formed since faced similar questions and usually agreed on somewhat similar answers with various degrees of success.

In the course of human history, about the time of the neolithic (agricultural) revolution, there arose the idea that the land and other natural resources of the world could become the property of or be owned by individual people instead of belonging to all or being community property. During the middle ages or the reign of kings it was thought that everything belonged to the King who was chosen to rule by God and that others had rights to property only as allowed by the King.

During the American revolution the idea was to throw off the yoke of Kings and form a government to protect the rights of property ownership by landed white men. That is why these were the only people allowed to vote to choose the government. The vote was not available to slaves or women or those who did not own property. That people could have any rights just by the fact of being human was an after thought added to the constitution as the Bill of Rights or the first ten amendments to the constitution.

During the first two hundred years of its existence the members of Congress thought of themselves as people elected to serve the people and protect the government of the United States. Generally most of their actions were oriented toward protecting property rights and only toward protecting human rights as a secondary objective. Some members felt that their job was to use their best judgement and others thought that they should, as best they could, try to ascertain the wishes of their constituents, and use that as a guide in legislating.

During the first part of the twentieth century a labor movement and the ideas of Socialism advocated changing the purpose of government to putting the rights and welfare of the common people ahead of the property rights of Capitalists. These ideas were a powerful influence on the US government from the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1930s until the presidency of Ronald Reagan beginning in 1980. After that point property was, once again, given precedence over human rights.

The privileged think they are entitled to their position and what they have and can get and are unaccountable for their excesses.

Politically in the United States the New Deal of compromise between the Democrats and the Republicans of help for the working and lower classes began to be unraveled by Nixon's southern strategy appealing to racial division and was further rolled back by the Reagan Administration.

The Republicans had never liked this arrangement forced on them by Roosevelt but did not have the power to begin to reverse it until 1980. In the 1990's, Tom Delay in the House of Representatives espoused a long range policy of retaining Republican control of Congress by a combination of gerrymandering voting districts and suppression of minority voting. Both of these required Republican control of a majority of state governments which Republicans got in the election of 2010 as a backlash against the election of the first black president, Barack Obama.

Also in the House of Representatives in the 1990's Newt Gingrich gained control of the body. His philosophy was that the goal of the party should not be to compromise and cooperate with the Democrats to pass legislation, but to resist all the other party's efforts to govern with the only goal complete Republican control of government. He limited the amount of time Republicans spent legislating to a three day work week with the idea that the Republican legislator's time was more effectively used raising funds for the next election to ensure that they remained in power rather than actually trying to run the government. This was the beginning of the divided government which plagued the nation then and into the new century.

The result of these beliefs and policies is to undermine democracy to combat the demographic changes which tended to give Democrats more power in elections and to, at all costs, retain political power for Republicans. Although most Democrats see government as protecting property, many of them also can conceive a government which protects rights and happiness of all people.

Republicans tend to use religion and patriotism and racism and fear to influence voters to support their party. They trade political influence for money to influence elections. They want elections to be based on fear and hate rather than important political issues. They do this, in part, by demonizing political opponents and stressing made up religious and racial issues rather than issues more important to the purposes of government.

As far as protection of the environment Republicans argue that it is too expensive to try to save our planet in the face of damages caused by humans and that to try to do so might cost the rich more than poorer people which, they think, would be unfair.

It seems that one of the ideas of the Founding Fathers was that, if people wanted a democracy, they would try to preserve it and that the votes of the populace in electing representatives and of the representatives in making laws would reflect this desire. They did not anticipate the rise of special interest groups and of political parties which would give precedence to their interests over preserving the democracy and the human rights of all. They also seemed to believe that, when interests conflicted among groups, those groups would be forced to compromise rather than digging in their heels and sacrificing any progress if they could not get their way.

Problems with democracy!

Two Party System - The Founding Fathers, it seems, did not anticipate the rise of political parties, in which people would form voting blocks to vote alike, or did not anticipate how large they would become or how powerful they would be. They probably did not imagine that most elections would only have two viable candidates because the electorate would basically organize into only two major political parties.

The largest obstacle facing third parties is the single member district plurality system, a winner-takes-all system in which the person with the most votes in an electorate wins the seat. This practice extends to the presidential race as well, with each state awarding all its electoral votes to the candidate who achieves a plurality in the state (except Maine and Nebraska). In such a situation, even if a third party statistically has support in the low double-digits percentage across the country, they are not going to win representation anywhere. It’s better to simply join with one of the two main parties or withdraw.

Gerrymandering - The boundaries of voting districts in which members of the House of Representatives are elected have to be determined every ten years when there is a national census. Logically these boundary lines would be drawn so that each district includes approximately the same number of people and so that the district is as compact as possible with a random proportion of voters of various political beliefs. Unfortunately these boundaries are drawn by politicians and they have discovered that they can design district boundary lines to favor their political party so that the party in power is almost assured that they will win the district. This enables political parties in power to win a majority of legislative seats even when they get an overall minority of the votes.

Vote suppression - Politicians have discovered that they can make laws about eligibility to vote and the rules of voting to make it much more difficult for certain populations who are mostly not of their party to cast their vote making the vote lopsided in favor of their party.

Vote buying - Politicians not only outright pay for votes which is, of course, illegal but the party with more money to spend on a race is able to advertise more and make efforts to get their voters to the polls while discouraging opposition voters. This makes the vote favor the party with more money rather than the party with better ideas.

Hidden Persuaders - Elections are usually run on competing for the emotions of voters rather than their intelligence. The general idea is to denigrate or raise fears about the other side rather than argue that your candidates have better ideas. Elections are often won based on bogus issues rather than the real issues that will affect the voters. Campaigns are often based on manipulation of the mass media and spreading of lies. Of course, there is a core of voters for each political party who have studied the issues and know why they are voting for their candidate. The problem is that most elections are decided by the independent or uncommitted or undecided voter and these are usually the voters who vote based on emotions and fake issues rather then the real issues that are significant in the election.

The Founding Fathers obviously thought that the vote would be widespread due to interest in sustaining a democratic goverment and that voters would study the issues for the same reason. They were wrong. There is usually low voter turnout and few are actually informed about the significant issues.

The original idea was that the voters would elect representatives from among themselves and those representatives would be much like the average voter. It turns out that we now have professional politicians who are much richer than the average voter and have little in common with him. The objective of the politician is usually to get re-elected, not to serve democracy.

Members of the US elite believe in the free enterprise system based on profits and private property, unequal and concentrated wealth distribution, and the sanctity of the economic realm. The primary business of government is creating a favorable business climate, with social and environmental concerns as afterthoughts. Though they may squabble over details, members of the elite maintain this basic overall worldview based on their common culture: They attend the same universities, join the same clubs, and participate in the same social activities.

This elite controls the basic choices and sets the political agenda. Professional politicians occupy a middle layer of power—colorful and bombastic but essentially squabbling over trifles and serving as a distraction. Below them is the public at large, who are either obsessed with the political circus and spend most of their time cheering on their chosen team or booing the opposition or who have largely lost interest in political participation. The direction of fundamental policy choices is out of the control of the people at large.

Sixty-five years ago, researchers began studying what voters know and how they think. The results are depressing. The median voter knows who the president is, but not much else. Voters don’t know which party controls Congress, who their representatives are, what new laws were passed, what the unemployment rate is or what’s happening to the economy. In the 2000 U.S. presidential election, while slightly more than half of voters knew that Al Gore was more liberal than George W. Bush, they did not seem to know what the word “liberal” means. Significantly less than half knew that Gore was more supportive of abortion rights, was more supportive of welfare-state programs, favored a higher degree of aid to blacks or was more supportive of environmental regulation.

High-information voters have systematically different policy preferences from low-information voters But the American voting public as a whole shares the preferences of low-information voters, simply because there are far more of them.

How the entire electorate votes does matter, but how individual voters votes does not. As a result, for most individual voters, the costs of acquiring political information exceed the expected benefits. It’s not that voters are stupid individually; it’s that they just don’t care. They respond rationally to the bad incentives democracy creates.

Three major political belief systems:



Social Democrats:

See also:

"Grandpa, What is our culture?"

There is a quantitative difference, if not a qualitative difference, in the brains of modern man, Homo sapiens, and those of other animals living on the Earth, probably including the several other species of humans who once lived before and with modern man and are now extinct. This difference has to do with the ability of modern man to imagine things that do not exist and to engage in abstract thinking. This includes the ability to develop languages and systems of mathematics and writing and the ability to hold several systems of complex thought in their minds simultaneously. There is also quite a bit of variability among individual humans in the expression of this trait.

Anthropologists differ on their ideas of the development of this difference, called by Yuval Noah Harari in his book, "Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind", the Cognitive Revolution. Some feel that it was a gradual change during the approximately 200,000 years that Homo Sapiens has existed and some think that this brain expansion developed rather suddenly in anthropological terms somewhere between 40,000 and 75,000 years ago.

This ability has many positive effects for man and some negative effects also. For instance it has enabled him to develop a culture of skills and technology and social structure which is not available to other species. On the other hand it has endowed him with fears of future events and the ability to change his world in ways that are often, in the long term, detrimental to his species and also to the more complex forms of life on Earth.

Due to the evolution of his species, including larger brains and the ability to stand upright on two legs, human babies are born before their brains are fully developed and are fragile, requiring years of care by adults before reaching maturity. This and his enhanced communication abilities mean that man can pass the things he has imagined and invented and learned down to future generations by teaching the young. This ability is very limited in other species and most changes are limited to evolving changes in DNA which is a relatively slow process. In contrast if modern man discovers a better method of doing something, he can almost immediately teach and tell others, both near and far, and also teach and tell younger generations. One analogy in other animals is the paths of bird migrations which are taught to the young as they fly with adults each year learning these paths. This means that, if all the adults were to die leaving only the very young, this knowledge would be lost. This is rare though in species other than humans and most of the ways that animals act, their culture, is inherited at birth through their DNA.

This ability gives man an advantage over other animals in that, among other things, he can coordinate actions among much larger groups of people. Where, in the past, maximum group size was limited to about 150 people, now thousands or even millions can act together because they have a common set of beliefs and knowledge. Some of the things that this brain development make possible are more complex languages, writing, math, and development of entities that do not exist in the real world. These include such things as:

This increased brain ability has resulted in wealth inequalities and social stratification, meaning that men think of themselves as belonging to various levels of worth due to being in a social class, and destruction of the environment on Earth that enables complex life to exist as man has invented technology to, in his perception, make life easier. There is some question as to whose life is made easier and whether the actual trade-off was human population growth in return for more suffering and unhappiness among humans.

Man has managed in about 200 years to take much of the carbon, that had been sequestered in the Earth by living things in the past 3 billion years, out of the Earth and emit it into the atmosphere where it is changing the climate in ways dangerous to life. He has managed after the advent of agriculture to transform the ecology of entire continents. Modern man's actions have already caused the extinction of well over half the genera of larger mammals that have existed on Earth during his tenure as well as unknown numbers of genera of less complex organisms.

Humans came to the Americas between 14,000 and 11,000 years ago. Soon after many genera of larger mammals became extinct.

Humans came to Australia about 45,000 years ago. Soon after many genera of larger mammals became extinct.

At the time of the cognitive revolution about 50,000 to 75,000 years ago there were about 200 genera of mammals weighing over 100 pounds. By the time of the neolithic revolution about 12,000 years ago only 100 genera of these mammals remained and several of them have become extinct since.

Modern man seems to have destroyed about half the genera of large mammals before the invention of the wheel, writing or iron tools.

The first wave of extinctions of large mammals was caused by foragers.
The second wave of extinctions of large mammals was caused by farmers.
The third wave of extinctions of large mammals occurred during and after the industrial revolution. It included not only land animals but also large sea creatures.

The agricultural revolution was a trap set and won by the DNA of humans, wheat and other cultivated crops and cattle and other domesticated animals. The price for population explosions of all these species was inhumane living conditions for the animals and for humans crowding, hard labor, weaker bodies, more disease, less leisure and the rise of privileged classes. Human birth rates became even higher than that needed to offset the higher rate of child mortality brought on by this change so that populations increased.

The pursuit of an easier life results in much hardship because more work results in a higher standard of living and more luxuries which soon become necessities requiring even more work.

Evolution depends on survival and reproduction. It does not depend on happiness and any suffering caused by increased survival and reproduction is disregarded.

Economic stratification is caused by the farmers need to plan for the future and thus to accumulate goods and surpluses (wealth) which can be taken by a thief (politician) or a con man (priest).

90% of people spend their time plowing and carrying water buckets so that the other 10% of people can live off them as politicians, priests, soldiers, artists, writers and thinkers. People cooperate in huge social, political and economic structures which support economic classes due to shared political and religious and economic myths (beliefs).

Culture is myths, skills, and technology passed from generation to generation.

An objective thing is something that exists in the real world such as a stone or water or a mountain. As far as things we might own, it includes our minimalist needs such as a bed and kitchen utensils and things of emotional value to us such as family pictures and documents and superfluous things such as home decor and any other things not needed or used on a regular basis.

A subjective thing exists only in the individual's imagination such as a child's imaginary friend or our beliefs or world view.

An inter-subjective thing exists in the imagination of many people such as the Catholic church or the United States of America or the local Lion's Club.

We are surrounded all our lives with evidence of the existence of such imaginary things. These include such things as flags and pledges of allegiance and churches and crosses and stars of David and swastikas. This is to prevent us realizing that these cultural constructs are not real and could be changed or destroyed if enough of us decided that it was in our best interest to do so.

Administration of city-states with increasing populations led to the need for number systems and data processing and this led to writing as an expression of language.

Looking at human culture at a perspective of millennia one can note a decrease in the number of religions, monetary systems, political entities and languages. This could indicate that the future may be an Earth with a world government with one form of money and one language and perhaps even one or no religion.

I have adopted minimalism and also rejected many social relationships but I have managed to get most or almost all the benefits of technology.

Our cabin.

Also see:
30+ Examples of Middle-to-Upper Class Privilege
by Sam Killermann

Following is a list of middle-to-upper class privileges. If you are a member of the middle class or upper class economic groups (or, in some cases, perceived to be) listed below are benefits that may be granted to you based on your group membership — benefits not granted to folks in the lower classes.

The goal of the list is to help folks who have access to these privileges be more cognizant of their privilege, encouraging better understanding of class- based difference in our society.

  1. Politicians pay attention to your class, and fight for your vote in election seasons.
  2. You can advocate for your class to politicians and not have to worry about being seen as looking for a handout.
  3. You can readily find accurate (or non-caricatured) examples of members your class depicted in films, television, and other media.
  4. New products are designed and marketed with your social class in mind.
  5. If you see something advertised that you really want, you will buy it.
  6. You can swear (or commit a crime) without people attributing it to the low morals of your class.
  7. If you find yourself in a legally perilous situation, you can hire an attorney to ensure your case is heard justly.
  8. You can talk with your mouth full and not have people attribute this to the uncivilized nature of your social class.
  9. You can attend a “fancy” dinner without apprehension of doing something wrong or embarrassing the hosts.
  10. You understand the difference between healthy and unhealthy food, and can choose to eat healthy food if you wish.
  11. You can walk around your neighborhood at night without legitimate concern for your safety.
  12. In the case of medical emergency, you won’t have to decide against visiting a doctor or the hospital due to economic reasons.
  13. You have visited a doctor for a “check-up.”
  14. Your eyesight, smile, and general health aren’t inhibited by your income.
  15. If you become sick, you can seek medical care immediately and not just “hope it goes away.”
  16. If you choose to wear hand-me-down or second-hand clothing, this won’t be attributed to your social class, and may actually be considered stylish.
  17. You can update your wardrobe with new clothes to match current styles and trends.
  18. As a kid, you were able to participate in sports and other extracurricular activities (field trips, clubs, etc.) with school friends.
  19. As a kid, your friends’ parents allowed your friends to play and sleep over at your house.
  20. You don’t have to worry that teachers or employers will treat you poorly or have negative expectations of you because of your class.
  21. The schools you went to as a kid had updated textbooks, computers, and a solid faculty.
  22. Growing up, college was an expectation of you (whether you chose to go or not), not a lofty dream.
  23. Your decision to go or not to go to college wasn’t based entirely on financial determinants.
  24. People aren’t surprised if they realize you are intelligent, hard-working, or honest.
  25. An annual raise in pay at your job is measured in dollars, not cents.
  26. You’ve likely never looked into a paycheck advance business (e.g., “Check Into Cash”), and have definitely never used one.
  27. You are never asked to speak for all members of your class.
  28. Whenever you’ve moved out of your home it has been voluntary, and you had another home to move into.
  29. It’s your choice to own a reliable car or to choose other means of transportation.
  30. Regardless of the season, you can count on being able to fall asleep in a room with a comfortable temperature.
  31. When you flip a light switch in your house, you don’t have to wonder if the light will come on (or if your utilities have been terminated).
  32. People don’t assume you’ve made an active choice to be in your social class, but instead assume you’re working to improve it.
  33. The “dream” of a house, a healthy family, and a solid career isn’t a dream at all, but simply a plan.
  34. People do not assume based on the dialect you grew up speaking that you are unintelligent or lazy.
  35. When you choose to use variants of language (e.g., slang terms) people chalk them up to plasticity in the language (rather than assuming your particular dialectical variants deserve ridicule and punishment).

"Grandpa, What is our history?"

Let's start with an illustration of Big History.

If 1 foot=30 years, let's start walking back in time at 3 feet per step.

3'=1 step = 90 years - Lindbergh flies the Atlantic.

66'=22 steps = 2,000 years - Roman Empire.

388'=129 steps = 11,640 years - The Holocene epoch began. It was the end of the Ice Age beginning an interglacial period during which the glaciers receded.

The Holocene has seen the growth and impacts of the human species worldwide, including all its written history, development of major civilizations, and overall significant transition toward urban living in the present. Human impacts on modern-era Earth and its ecosystems may be considered of global significance for future evolution of living species, including approximately synchronous lithospheric evidence, or more recently hydrospheric and atmospheric evidence of human impacts.

400'=133 steps = 12,000 years - Dawn of Agriculture

6,667'=1.27 miles = 200,000 years - age of modern man.

12.6 miles = 2000,000 years - evolution of Homo genus, first man.

16 miles or 2.588 million years ago the Pleistocene epoch began.

The Pleistocene lasted from about 2,588,000 to 11,700 years ago, spanning the world's most recent period of repeated glaciations. The end of the Pleistocene corresponds with the end of the last glacial period. This epoch is often referred to as the Ice Age.

145 miles or 23.03 million years ago the Neogene Period began.

During this period, mammals and birds continued to evolve into roughly modern forms, while other groups of life remained relatively unchanged. Early hominids, the ancestors of humans, appeared in Africa near the end of the period. Some continental movement took place, the most significant event being the connection of North and South America at the Isthmus of Panama, late in the Pliocene. This cut off the warm ocean currents from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean, leaving only the Gulf Stream to transfer heat to the Arctic Ocean. The global climate cooled considerably over the course of the Neogene, culminating in a series of continental glaciations in the Quaternary Period that follows.

417 miles or 66 million years ago the Paleogene Period began.

The Paleogene is most notable for being the time during which mammals diversified from relatively small, simple forms into a large group of diverse animals in the wake of the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event that ended the preceding Cretaceous Period.

The end of the Paleocene (55.5/54.8 Mya) was marked by the Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum, one of the most significant periods of global change during the Cenozoic, which upset oceanic and atmospheric circulation and led to the extinction of numerous deep-sea benthic foraminifera and on land, a major turnover in mammals.

915.4 miles or 145 million years ago the Cretaceous Period began.

The Cretaceous was a period with a relatively warm climate, resulting in high eustatic sea levels that created numerous shallow inland seas. These oceans and seas were populated with now-extinct marine reptiles, ammonites and rudists, while dinosaurs continued to dominate on land. During this time, new groups of mammals and birds, as well as flowering plants, appeared.

The Cretaceous (along with the Mesozoic) ended with the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event, a large mass extinction in which many groups, including non- avian dinosaurs, pterosaurs and large marine reptiles died out.

1,271 miles or 201.3 million years ago the Jurassic Period began.

The start of the period was marked by the major Triassic–Jurassic extinction event. Two other extinction events occurred during the period: the Pliensbachian/Toarcian event in the Early Jurassic, and the Tithonian event at the end.

By the beginning of the Jurassic, the supercontinent Pangaea had begun rifting into two landmasses: Laurasia to the north, and Gondwana to the south. This created more coastlines and shifted the continental climate from dry to humid, and many of the arid deserts of the Triassic were replaced by lush rainforests.

On land, the fauna transitioned from the Triassic fauna, dominated by both dinosauromorph and crocodylomorph archosaurs, to one dominated by dinosaurs alone. The first birds also appeared during the Jurassic, having evolved from a branch of theropod dinosaurs. Other major events include the appearance of the earliest lizards, and the evolution of therian mammals, including primitive placentals. Crocodilians made the transition from a terrestrial to an aquatic mode of life. The oceans were inhabited by marine reptiles such as ichthyosaurs and plesiosaurs, while pterosaurs were the dominant flying vertebrates.

1,590 miles or 251.9 million years ago the Triassic Period began.

The Triassic began in the wake of the Permian–Triassic extinction event, which left the earth's biosphere impoverished; it would take well into the middle of this period for life to recover its former diversity. Therapsids and archosaurs were the chief terrestrial vertebrates during this time. A specialized subgroup of archosaurs, called dinosaurs, first appeared in the Late Triassic but did not become dominant until the succeeding Jurassic Period.

The first true mammals, themselves a specialized subgroup of Therapsids, also evolved during this period, as well as the first flying vertebrates, the pterosaurs, who like the dinosaurs were a specialized subgroup of archosaurs. The vast supercontinent of Pangaea existed until the mid-Triassic, after which it began to gradually rift into two separate landmasses, Laurasia to the north and Gondwana to the south.

The global climate during the Triassic was mostly hot and dry, with deserts spanning much of Pangaea's interior. However, the climate shifted and became more humid as Pangaea began to drift apart. The end of the period was marked by yet another major mass extinction, the Triassic–Jurassic extinction event, that wiped out many groups and allowed dinosaurs to assume dominance in the Jurassic.

1,887 miles or 298.9 million years ago the Permian Period began.

The Permian witnessed the diversification of the early amniotes into the ancestral groups of the mammals, turtles, lepidosaurs, and archosaurs. The world at the time was dominated by two continents known as Pangaea and Siberia, surrounded by a global ocean called Panthalassa. The Carboniferous rainforest collapse left behind vast regions of desert within the continental interior.[6] Amniotes, who could better cope with these drier conditions, rose to dominance in place of their amphibian ancestors.

The Permian (along with the Paleozoic) ended with the Permian–Triassic extinction event, the largest mass extinction in Earth's history, in which nearly 90% of marine species and 70% of terrestrial species died out. It would take well into the Triassic for life to recover from this catastrophe. Recovery from the Permian–Triassic extinction event was protracted; on land, ecosystems took 30 million years to recover.

2,266 miles or 358.9 million years ago the Carboniferous Period began.

Terrestrial animal life was well established by the Carboniferous period. Amphibians were the dominant land vertebrates, of which one branch would eventually evolve into amniotes, the first solely terrestrial vertebrates.

Arthropods were also very common, and many (such as Meganeura) were much larger than those of today. Vast swaths of forest covered the land, which would eventually be laid down and become the coal beds characteristic of the Carboniferous stratigraphy evident today. The atmospheric content of oxygen also reached its highest levels in geological history during the period, 35% compared with 21% today, allowing terrestrial invertebrates to evolve to great size.

The later half of the period experienced glaciations, low sea level, and mountain building as the continents collided to form Pangaea. A major marine and terrestrial extinction event, the Carboniferous rainforest collapse, occurred at the end of the period, caused by climate change.

2,646 miles or 419.2 million years ago the Devonian Period began.

The first significant adaptive radiation of life on dry land occurred during the Devonian. Free-sporing vascular plants began to spread across dry land, forming extensive forests which covered the continents. By the middle of the Devonian, several groups of plants had evolved leaves and true roots, and by the end of the period the first seed-bearing plants appeared. Various terrestrial arthropods also became well-established.

Fish reached substantial diversity during this time, leading the Devonian to often be dubbed the "Age of Fish". The first ray-finned and lobe-finned bony fish appeared, while the placoderms began dominating almost every known aquatic environment. The ancestors of all four-limbed vertebrates (tetrapods) began adapting to walking on land, as their strong pectoral and pelvic fins gradually evolved into legs.[10] In the oceans, primitive sharks became more numerous than in the Silurian and Late Ordovician.

The first ammonites, species of molluscs, appeared. Trilobites, the mollusc- like brachiopods and the great coral reefs, were still common. The Late Devonian extinction which started about 375 million years ago[11] severely affected marine life, killing off all placodermi, and all trilobites, save for a few species of the order Proetida.

The palaeogeography was dominated by the supercontinent of Gondwana to the south, the continent of Siberia to the north, and the early formation of the small continent of Euramerica in between.

By 2,801 miles or 443.7 million years ago the Silurian period began. Glaciers melted, seas rose, the climate stablized. Coral reefs, fishes with jaws and freshwater fish. Life on land and fossils of vascular plants. Trilobites, mollusks in the sea. Fungi, arachnids, centipedes on land. Tropical and subtropical shallow seas.
445 million years ago the global temperature dropped about 5 degrees celsius and sea level dropped over 300 feet.

2,801 miles to 3,083 miles = Width of the United States = 443.7 million to 488.3 million years ago - Ordovician Period - cephalopods, Appalachian mountains formed - Gondwana super continents migrates to South Pole. A tropical world of many shallow seas. The Ordovician biodiversification event ending in a mass extinction event. 470 million years ago a space collision formed the asteriod belt and caused many meteors to hit earth. There was also a lot of volcanic activity during this period both this and meteor activity becoming less frequent near the end of the period.

3,409 miles = 540 million years - Cambrian life explosion.
(more oxygen in the atmosphere, maybe primal vision, burrowing, clear seas, trilobites)
3,655 miles = 579 million years - beginning of Ediacarin Period - almost inert fractal pseudo creatures.
4,000 miles = 635 million years - sponges - probably world's oldest animals. Before this the world's oceans probably contained a primordial microbial slime.
27,000 miles = 4.3 billion years - over once around the world - formation of Earth
88,000 miles or slightly over 1/3 the distance to the moon=14 billion years ago - Big Bang?

Also see:

"Grandpa, Please explain the Arts versus the Sciences."

Man evolved in a real world of animals and plants and micro-organisms and rocks and soil and water and energy and space.

About 40,000 to 70,000 years ago his brain evolved in ways unknown so that he was capable of abstract thought. That meant he could imagine things that did not exist. This gave him an advantage over other animals in that, among other things, he could coordinate actions among much larger groups of people. Where, in the past, maximum group size was limited to about 150 people, now thousands or even millions could act together because they had a common set of beliefs. Some of the things that this brain development made possible were more complex languages, writing, math, and development of entities that did not exist in the real world. These included such things as:

About 74,000 years ago Near-extinction!

Modern humans almost become extinct; as a result of extreme climate changes, the population may have been reduced to about 10,000 adults of reproductive age.

By 70,000 years ago Extinction!

Homo erectus becomes extinct!

By 60,000–40,000 years ago modern humans create permanent drawings.

According to proponents of the Toba catastrophe theory, the climate in non- tropical regions of the earth experienced a sudden freezing about 70,000 years ago, because of a huge explosion of the Toba volcano that filled the atmosphere with volcanic ash for several years. This reduced the human population to less than 10,000 breeding pairs in equatorial Africa, from which all modern humans are descended. Being unprepared for the sudden change in climate, the survivors were those intelligent enough to invent new tools and ways of keeping warm and finding new sources of food (for example, adapting to ocean fishing based on prior fishing skills used in lakes and streams that became frozen).

So man came to believe many things that were not true but were a product of his overworked imagination. During the Enlightenment beginning about 500 to 800 years ago, man developed the scientific method to test his beliefs for validity.

Science is a standard language. ... There are two paramount differences between art and science. The first is that art is subjective while science is objective. The second is that art expresses knowledge, most often in the form of subjective representation, while science is the system of acquiring knowledge.

In major ways science studies the nature of the real world while the Arts are ways of man expressing his imagination either in terms of creating things that have not existed before or in using the previous creations of his mind such as politics and economics or in using acquired knowledge, often acquired by scientific methods, to create new technology.

Theoretical scientists think about the state of scientific knowledge and develop new theories and hypotheses about the way things may be. These hypotheses must then be tested for indications of their truth by experimental scientists to slowly increase the sum of scientific knowledge about the nature of the world.

Experimental scientists are those who design and carry out experiments to test the validity of a hypothesis. By publishing the results of these experiments, so that they can be repeated and verified by others, data is collected which may eventually lead to a theory becoming accepted as a scientific law which is a descriptive generalization about how some aspect of the natural world behaves under stated circumstances.

Applied scientists use their imagination in the art of using the body of scientific knowledge to create new technology.

Click here for a video about the scientific method
Click here to see the same video on YouTube.
Click here for a series of videos about science on YouTube.

"Grandpa, What life skills should I have?"

An Educated Person Must Know:

Fundamental skills needed by a high school graduate

  1. Ability to think, learn, & communicate
  2. Cultural awareness
  3. Science skills
  4. Math skills
  5. Life skills
  6. Vocational skills

"Grandpa, Tell me about your life."

See my Lifebook.

"Grandpa, Tell me the secret to making money by investing."

"First you get some money to invest by working or creating and saving a part of your income. Then you look at opportunities to invest which will principally include land and improved real estate, stocks, bonds including treasury bonds, CDs, precious metals, gemstones and commodities. You may very well be presented with other investment opportunities but be very suspicious of these. Also, do your research and be sure that any third party with which you invest has a long history and a good reputation. If you are promised high returns greater than about 10 or 12% be skeptical and only invest money there if you are willing to lose your investment because you probably will. Remember, only CDs and treasury bonds can promise you any return. On other investments you may lose. For that reason, your returns may, very well, be higher on these other investments. In general, the higher the expected return on investment the greater the risk.

As far as investing in stocks the best safe investment is in index stocks with low service charges with investment cooperatives such as Vanguard or Credit Unions.

Look at investment as a long term game. Day trading and "Get Rich Quick" schemes are for fools. Turning over investments frequently increases costs and reduces returns due to service fees.

Other than these precautions the main thing you need to know to make money on investments is "Buy low, sell high!". This primarily means that you must be a contrarian. If someone says, "Invest in X, everyone is making a killing on it!" then stay away from X. The most likely killing people will make on it will be at your expense if you invest. So only invest in the stock market if it is falling consistently and then try to anticipate the bottom to invest then. For example, the stock market began falling steeply from a Dow Jones high over 14,000 in August 2008. I waited to invest until about December when the Dow was about $7,000. That was a little too early because it reached bottom about February 2009 between $6,000 and $7,000. I invested because I was sure the incoming Obama administration would turn the economy around. Others did not come to the conclusion I had until after February 2009, so the market continued to fall until then. I did not sell my investments until the election of the Trump administration 8 years later. I sold much of my stock holdings, but not all, when the Dow was between $19,000 and $26,000 in the first six months after Trump's election. I made over 10% annual returns during that time with returns some years running as high as 25% or 30%. A low point in the market does not mean a recent low. Don't invest unless the market is at least a one year low and hopefully lower. Then only invest if you have a pretty good idea why the market is low and if you can see reasonable hope for it improving soon.

The best investments are either on falling markets as described above or in new startups in which you have confidence of their future. These will be high risk because about 80% of new startups fail within the first year. Never invest money in these unless you are willing to lose your entire investment. And invest in them only if you have discovered the investment opportunity by your independent research. Do not invest because another person recommended them. In late 2016 I looked into alternative investments and decided that I was willing to take a chance on bitcoin, a high risk investment. I decided that I could afford to lose $16,000 and bought that much bitcoin. Within a few months I had made enough profit that I invested about $30,000 more in cryptocurrencies. By the end of November, 2017 my profit on cryptcurrencies was about $189,000. A couple of weeks later my profit was up to almost $300,000 and then prices began falling. By the end of 2017 I had made about $269,000 and two months later I decided, after bitcoin had fallen in price continuously, that it was time to take my profits. However, by the time I got my investment down to about $14,000, which was close to my original investment, my profit had fallen to about $172,000 which is a good return for about 20 months of investing but not near the $269,000 profit I would have had if I had sold at the end of 2017. Timing is everything, both in anticipating lows and highs.

If you cannot find the opportunities mentioned then keep your investing money in CDs and treasury bonds and bonds from well established entities such as local government bonds, particularly those with tax benefits, until you can find better investment opportunities."

An example investment strategy

Let's say that you have $200,000 to invest. Maybe you have worked for years and saved the money. Maybe a relative died and you inherited it. Maybe you found a rare stamp in your attic. Maybe you won the lottery.

You first open a bank account to deposit the money. Remember it is your money and the bank will be making money from investing it. The bank should be paying you interest for using your money, although probably a very low rate. Instead, they are likely to pay you no interest or try to charge you a number of bank fees for things like accounting or overdrafts or minimum balance or checking accounts or hard copies of statements or ATM use or lost cards or inactivity or account closing or lots of others. Be sure you ask about these and refuse to do business with them if you think you might be subject to some of their fees.

Next set a ROI (Return on Investment) goal such as getting 10% or $20,000 ROI in one year which is a fairly ambitious goal or 5% or $10,000 ROI per year which may be more realistic. A really good return on investment for an active investor is 15% annually. It's aggressive, but it's achievable if you put in time to look for bargains. You can double your buying power every six years if you make an average return on investment of 12% after taxes and inflation every year.

The S&P 500 gauges the performance of the stocks of the 500 largest, most stable companies in the New York Stock Exchange—it's often considered the most accurate measure of the stock market as a whole. The current average annual return from 1923 (the year of the S&P's inception) through 2016 is 12.25%.

The general rule is that the higher risk the investment the more return can be expected. Historical returns on safe investments tend to fall in the 3% to 5% range.


  1. There will be fees for investing with various middle-man firms. Be sure these are low and that you know how they are calculated. Don't let fees cut very deeply into your profits. Frequent trading such as day trading is a likely culprit.
  2. Diversify - Spread your investments among several options. Don't put all your eggs in one basket.
  3. To make money you must buy low and sell high.
  4. Do not invest money that is necessary for you to live.

Here is one way you could invest your $200k:

"Grandpa, are rich people smarter?"

90% of people are dumber than the other 10%.
90% of people are poorer than the other 10%.

Richer people believe that their 10% is richer because they are smarter. They are wrong in this belief. There are smart people scattered thoroughout the ranks of the poor. A person may become rich because he is smart. A person may also become rich because he is a crook or a con man or because he just happens to get lucky. Even if he is smart it does not necessarily follow that his children, who become rich by inheriting his wealth, will also be smart. They probably won't.

"Grandpa, are you a humanist?"

Humanists believe that there is something superior in the world about the species Homo sapiens. They also believe in something called human rights and in the sanctity of human life. They are wrong. Humans are not superior and there is nothing sanctified about human life. A study of the actions of humans toward each other throughout human history should be sufficient to prove both these points.

As for human rights; there are no human rights. But there are human not rights. I may not have a right to live in peace. But you, on the other hand, have no right to harm or kill or frighten me. I may not have a right to be wealthy. But you, on the other hand, have no right, just because you think you do, to have more wealth than me. I may have no right to be free. But you have no right to enslave or dominate me. I may have no right to be happy. But you have no right to sadden me.

Humanists also generally prefer critical thinking and evidence over dogma and superstition to understand the world. In this, I am in complete agreement with humanists.

"Grandpa, what are your thoughts about sexual harassment?"

I heard someone with the #metoo movement against sexual harassment say the other day that women don't want to and shouldn't be treated as sex objects.

This smacks to me as a modern day manifestation of the christian beliefs of my childhood that women were asexual. The truth is that man and woman are animals in spite of their continuing efforts to pretend that this is not true or that they are somehow above or superior to other animals. Life only exists because it can reproduce. Individual people can, of course, find other purposes for their life but mankind as a whole must reproduce to exist. Therefore we have all evolved to be sexual objects.

"Yes", you say, "but sex has no place in the workplace or in the school or anywhere that one person has power over the other."

Man, probably because our reproductive method is bisexual, is a social animal. That means we are compelled to congregate and form relationships with other people. Thus we must find other people and look for those who are most compatible mentally and/or physically with ourselves.

Now it is true that none of us should be compelled to engage in any sex act without our consent but there are various degrees of consent and various definitions of sex. When Bill Clinton said, "I did not have sex with that woman!", he meant that they had not engaged in any act that could have resulted in a pregnancy or that he had not penetrated her vagina with his penis. It turned out that what they did do was considered by many people to be a sex act. In any case it was agreed that the act was consensual.

If one person makes an approach to another as a prelude to getting acquainted that approach may be immediately rejected or it may be accepted. Then after one or several attempts to get acquainted the people may become closer or one may reject the other or it may be a mutual agreement that they are incompatible. Sexual harassment occurs when one party persists in approaching another after having been clearly rejected to the point that the second person is uncomfortable in the presence of the first person. It seems that some feel that the initial approach itself is sexual harassment. They say this is true especially if the person making the approach is in a position of power over the other.

I would think that sexual harassment cannot occur unless the second party has clearly rejected a relationship with the other. This cannot happen until the initial approach has been made to test the possibilities. (Yes, I do realize that a number of the romantic movies of my time were based on the idea that the girl initially rejects the man and he persists until by the end of the movie they marry and live happily ever after. I would simply say that, in these movies, sexual harassment paid off for the man and the woman, but it was still sexual harassment unless it was clear that the woman was never uncomfortable with the situation.)

As far as workplace relationships, our economic system often requires that people not only work long hours but, according to NPR, about one third of full time workers moonlight at a second job. Under these circumstances it can often be that pretty much the only persons one sees often enough to get acquainted are either coworkers or family members. Other possibilities include churches, the corner bar, social clubs, commercial relationships and online relationships but more time is often spent at work than at all these other places together. Therefore workplace relationships may be most likely.

The initial approach may range from the subtle, "Would you like to get a cup of coffee with me?" to the direct, "Would you like to sleep with me?"

Compatibility between two people may turn out to be physical, such as lust caused by phermones, or mental, such as interests in common which result in hours talking together about mutual interests, to both physical and mental compatibility which would probably be the basis for a marriage. Physical compatibility alone may result in a friendship with benefits. Mental compatibility alone may result in a platonic long term relationship.

Rape is, I think, the forcing of an unwanted sexual relationship either by use of physical force or by threats. Rape would also occur if the subordinate person either had not yet reached puberty or was mentally unable to consent due to lack of knowledge or of mental capacity.

In summary, I suspect that many of the sexual harassment claims so prevalent in the media today may not meet the definition that I have used here.

It may be that I am wrong because I am old fashioned and the young people of today want to live in a different world. In their grandmother's world, if a man made a favorable comment about her looks or her clothing or her hair or her makeup, she was generally flattered. It may be that the granddaughter will scream, "sexual harassment!"