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Profile Information

Name: Hunter
Gender: Male
Current location: California
Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 37,617

About Me

I'm a very dangerous fellow when I don't know what I'm doing.

Journal Archives

"Dead Baby Day"

Don't need to explain that.

A health care provider asking for a hug and a drink and a laugh when they get off work on a dead baby day isn't asking too much.

And yes, some sorts of health care professionals are simply assholes (the cold surgeon stereotype...) but maybe if they weren't thick-skinned assholes they wouldn't be able to do their jobs. I'd want a heart surgeon who is a good mechanic. His bedside manner wouldn't matter so much if it didn't interfere with his work.

On the other hand, I once had personal work experiences with a heart transplant surgeon who was such a humongous asshole it did interfere with his work because nobody wanted to work with him. He eventually got fired for his abusive behavior toward other hospital staff, especially women. My supervisor had us all documenting his bad behavior.

I used to work closely with transplant techs. OMG, in a relaxed break room setting they were a clique of Addams Family Gothic. Some of them even dressed the part in subtle ways. I think I understand... removing usable body parts from brain dead people who are still warm... I cannot imagine doing that. But that's what they do to save the lives of others who still have a chance of survival. Underneath the thick black body armor the transplant techs were among the kindest, most gentle, altruistic people I've ever met.

I'm not in the medical professions any more, maybe I'm too sensitive for that, but I have immediate family who still are. I prefer computers. If something goes horribly wrong you can halt the system and revert to previous images for as long as fixing the problem takes. Human beings, so far as we know, don't have backup copies.

Human languages such as English are a tool for telling stories and do not always reflect reality.

Too many people want language to be their reality.

Telling stories is so much easier for us than collecting the data and doing the math.

Storytelling languages often get confusing because words are often created and applied to natural phenomena and objects before they are understood.

An example would be the assertion that electrons have a "negative" charge. It doesn't matter much to the math, but the storytelling language implies that the common "ground" of one's automobile is a sink for electrons, not a source. Yet the "negative" ground is actually the electron "source" using hydraulic analogies of electric current, and these storytelling hydraulic analogies themselves have their own limitations. Comparing the electrons in a copper wire to water in a pipe introduces some very serious misconceptions about the nature of electromagnetism.

As a kid I built a relay computer, all "Direct Current," conceptually easy, right? DAMN that machine gave me some nasty shocks, as bad as anything I'd gotten playing with AC powered vacuum tube equipment.

How?, I wondered. With the relay machine disconnected I could touch both terminals of the DC power supply and feel nothing. But at finer levels of understanding one recognizes that all circuits are Alternating Current. In the case of an older flashlight, two "D" cells, a switch, and an incandescent bulb, the AC effects are negligible. As soon as a circuit gets more complicated, they are not.

The first transatlantic telephone cable was a horribly expensive failure because the "scientific" stories it's designers and financiers believed did not reflect reality.

In higher education undoing these misconceptions caused by rote memorization of "facts" expressed in the languages of storytelling is often more difficult than teaching a more accurate representation of reality in the languages of math and science.

If I was teaching astronomy to younger kids, I'd start with the visible planets, hopefully in a clear dark nighttime sky setting with a few planets visible. And then I'd build up from that observational foundation. A kid sitting in a classroom who has simply memorized the names of the "nine planets in our solar system" doesn't really know anything. It's just words.

Humans behave according to their instincts too.

The big difference between us and chimps is we tell very intricate stories about what we do. When we created oral history, stories passed down from generation to generation, maybe 50-100,000 years ago, human civilization began to evolve rapidly. And then, when we created writing, that's when the modern technological revolutions began. There's simply too much human history and technology now to hold it all inside the heads of our bards.

I don't know why we feel "alone" and wonder about intelligent life in outer space when we share this planet with a large variety of very intelligent beings similar to ourselves. A shocking majority haven't recognized these intelligent beings yet.

I think it's time we did.

Some animals are not so different than we were not long ago by nature's long measure of time, and it's not so clear yet that the developmental pathway we followed will assure a positive outcome. I suspect the human race will be remembered only as a freakish layer of trash in the geologic record.

For now we ought to be protecting the cultures of our intellectual kin on this planet, the great apes, the cetaceans, the elephants, many of the birds, etc., in much more sophisticated ways than we "humanely" treat other animals of lesser intellectual and cultural complexity.

A chimpanzee deserves to live as a chimpanzee, with many of the same rights of self-determination as we demand for our own selves. And an orca deserves to live as an orca, and an elephant as an elephant.

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