The Curious Case Of Buttoned-Down Politicians

Ed Raymond

When the world becomes predictable instead of it being a messy, marvelous, malevolent, and amazing place, I want to cash in my chips. First, the University of Minnesota has a reputation of being one of the best research schools in the country. One would think with all that brainpower harnessed to their economic, philosophy, and scientific departments, it could figure out how to make a profit on selling a 12-ounce cup of beer for $7.25 at a Gopher football game.
  When teaching 18-year-old seniors at Fargo Central High many years ago, I had seniors in class who consistently made a profit on keggers held in various “undisclosed” locations south of Fargo. Go figure. Well, actually, that’s what the university administration should have done. On the other hand, this is the same outfit that paid another university with a better football team $800,000 not to play the Gophers in football. These two actions may indicate a desperate need for educational reform in the state.

Can We De-Evolutionize?

   Second, several pesky scientists are coming close to proving there is such a thing as reversible evolution. This research team has collected 700 dust mite species from 19 countries, and, to cut a long story short, is well on its way to proving that free-living dust mites that evolved to become parasitic dust mites can evolve back to free-living dust mites. Dust mites are members of the “spider” family and cause many allergic problems in humans. Will this research alter any part of Darwin’s theory?
  There is evidence that televangelist Pat Robertson has finally decided science has won the battle on the age of the earth. In answering a question from a viewer who said one of her biggest fears was that her husband and children would not go to heaven because the Bible doesn’t answer the question about the existence of dinosaurs, Pat responded, according to a CNN story, “I know that people will try to lynch me when I say this. If you fight science, you are going to lose your children, and I believe in telling them the way it was. You go back in time, you’ve got radiocarbon dating. You’ve got the carcasses of dinosaurs frozen in time out in the Dakotas... So don’t try to cover up and make it like everything was 6,000 years [old]. That’s not the Bible.” Sixty-five million years ago, dinosaurs ruled our planet, but then something created a 112-mile crater in the Gulf of Mexico, changing our climate and killing off the dinosaurs and 70 percent of all species. Scientists have recently determined that a comet, not an asteroid, did in Ty Rex.
   Pat still hangs on to some of his old beliefs. He says we should pray over any thrift store clothing or items we buy because demons attach themselves to inanimate objects. I guess we can’t expect a total turn-around!
   Forty-six percent of Americans, mostly evangelical Republicans, believe that God created humans within the past 10,000 years. That’s the basis of creationism, which used to be called “intelligent design” before it was rejected as a course of study by federal courts. Robertson did not endear himself to many evangelicals when he said that Bishop James Ussher, who developed the belief that the earth was only 6,000 years old, “wasn’t inspired by the Lord when he said that it all took 6,000 years.” Ussher had come up with the claim that Earth was created on October 22, 4,004 B.C. by adding up the ages of people in the Bible. Another bishop came up with 9 a.m. as the starting time. He didn’t say if it was Pacific or Eastern.

The Love Of Guns And
The Right Amygdalas

    Third, physicists and other scientists claim a new age for the universe. It is 13.82 billion years old, about 80 million years older than previously determined. The new age for earth is 4.54 billion years, determined by the radiometric dating of meteorites.
  Perhaps you would be more interested in the evidence that our very close evolutionary cousins, the great apes, have mid-life crises around the same time as we do. After examining data on 508 great apes in zoos and research centers around the world, researchers say apes, chimps, and orangutans have the same low ebb in emotional well-being that we have in our 40’s. They say this discontent may have been passed on to us through evolution.
   Fourth, our present gun culture may be in a state of reversible evolution. Humans and the NRA seem to have forgotten that the authorities in Tombstone, Arizona, Dodge City, Kansas, and other towns with spas and spittooney saloons banned guns within the city limits. Guns had to be turned in at sheriff offices. In the old days, Wyatt Earp enforced these rules in Tombstone. The town did not have an OK Corral every day. Now we have thousands of John Waynes and a few Adam Lanzas in their camos carrying Bushmasters and Glocks, parading in the streets yelling, “Second Amendment! Second Amendment!” Do they anticipate there is a guy with an AK-47 and a Browning .45 hiding behind every water trough and church pew in town? What a way to live! They need to go in the woods, snoop and poop, and otherwise play soldier with their military look-a-likes with the 100-round drums. How many Newtowns is it going to take to bring back reality?
  According to brain research published by Hatemi et al conducted on 13,201 Australians, Democrats had larger anterior cingulate cortexes, which indicate a greater tolerance for uncertainty, and Republican conservatives have larger right amygdalas, which are associated with greater fear of the unknown. There’s your answer to the NRA’s gun culture.

Debating Nothingness
And Cloning A Frog
That Gives Birth
Through The Mouth

   Fifth, according to the Scientific American, five leading thinkers debated the nature of “nothing” at the 14th Asimov Memorial Debate. We forget when we are surrounded by nothing that nothing really contains something. There is the space between galaxies for the astronomers and the space between atoms and electrons. One physicist claimed that “nothing” was the most important part of the universe. Another said “nothing” was the color black. Another said there was a lot of “nothing” between universes. These guys may have good connections to another planet. I surrender.
   Sixth, scientists continue to amaze. Australian researchers are preparing to clone a Platypus frog that went extinct in 1983. They have reactivated the dead cells into living ones and have frozen cells to use in cloning experiments. This is an unusual frog in that the female swallows her eggs after fertilization by a male, then “broods” her young in her stomach, giving birth through her mouth.  The researchers call it The Lazarus Project. Ah, the wonders of evolutionary nature and Bible legend.

Bad Science Floating
Around On A Huge Boat

   Seventh (which is almost Biblical), right next to the Creation Museum in Kentucky where humans are depicted cuddling up to dinosaurs, good Biblical folks are building a replica of Noah’s ark. According to the book of Genesis, God was fed up with the deviancy and wickedness of man, so he instructed Noah to use his family to build an ark capable of taking all species and his family on the water for a year and six days. His instructions: “Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shall thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch. And this is how thou shalt make it: the length of the ark three hundred cubits, the breath of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits [a cubit is supposedly the length of a man’s forearm from his elbow to the tip of his middle finger]. A light shalt thou make to the ark, and to a cubit shalt thou finish it upward; and the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side thereof; with lower, second, and third stories shalt thou make it.” Pens and other living spaces were to be made for “every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort.”
   Bible experts estimate there were 2,000 to 4,000 original species led and carried on to the ark. All were fed pelletized food. God evidently kept the animals from eating each other. As an example, two lions would have to be kept full all the time to keep them from eating the two gazelles on board. Lions, unlike humans, do not kill maliciously if they are full. No one seems to want to tackle the problem of clean-up after thousands of animals and eight humans. Just two average elephants will eat about 1,500 tons of food and drink over 8,000 gallons of water during their stay on the ark. Shovels will have to take care of about 750 tons of elephant poop. It must have been a very busy time on the ark. The complete “skat” stats for the two Ty Rexes on board boggle the mind. When the ark is completed, a “Lifetime Charter Boarding Pass” will be available for $3,000 per family.
   Scientists have identified 1.2 million species on earth and estimate that there are about 7.5 million left to identify. These researchers predict there are about 7.7 million species of animals, 611,000 of fungi, 36,400 of protozoa, and 27,500 of algae and water molds. Two acres of the Amazon basin may have more than 100,000 species of insects. Other researchers estimate there are about 30 million species of insects and their relatives alone. And there are 500,000 different mushrooms in the world!

How Can Anyone Be So
Stupid As To Leave
A Gun Within Reach
Of A Child?

  I heard the other day that today’s iPad or iPhone has more computing power than all the computers on the first space shuttle. No surprise. There is an unwritten rule that computing power doubles every 18 months. Joe Nocera of the New York Times asked an important question in a recent article: “So why can’t we childproof guns?” Then he goes on to describe that the technology is available through a German company named Armartix and a number of other companies. They will soon market a pistol that uses radio frequencies to limit use to the owner only—the biometrics inserted in the gun will recognize only the hand of the owner. Such devices may even keep a gun from firing if it is dropped on the floor. People are killed and wounded each year by such “accidents.”
   The great scientists in the Republican Party, who say there is no global warming caused by humans even if 98 percent of the climate scientists in the world say there is, support the National Rifle Association in its effort to keep biometric weapons off the market. The NRA says such science is against the Second Amendment, so the Republicans just genuflect! Using biometrics to keep kids from blowing their heads off is “unconstitutional”?!! Please explain. Nocera writes that pro-gun bloggers exploded in anger when James Bond in the movie “Skyfall” used such a weapon. The bloggers wrote that Hollywood was trying to undermine the Second Amendment. The NRA and the bloggers must have extremely over-developed right amygdalas in order to harbor such irrational fears.

The Curious Case
Of Democratic And
Republican Politicians

   Minnesota’s own F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote a 25-page short story fantasy titled “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” about a man who ages in reverse, going through the years from new-born “old-fart” dementia to terminal infancy. Everything is in reverse. As the old man “ages” to babyhood, he loses the wisdom and intellect he had when he was born old. It was made into a pretty good movie starring Brad Pitt a few years ago. It was, in a sense, about reversible evolution. We have a lot of politicians in the Best Congress Money Can Buy who seem to be in reversible evolution and “dumbing down” mode. We have graduates from the best universities in the country in both parties who deny all science and logic for votes.
   This is no surprise. There are uneducated fools such as Governor “Good Hair” Rick Perry (a label hung on him by fellow Texan Mollie Ivins) in high office in practically every country and period of history. Look at our last president, who is now acclaimed as a great painter and the worst president in history. Too bad he had no idea how to govern the country.