There is a grandeur in this view of life...while this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a begining endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved
Charles Darwin
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Politics as if Evolution Mattered–Darwin, Ecology and Social Justice by Lorna Salzman

Lorna Salzman is a professional environmentalist who formerly has worked with Friends of the Earth and the New York City Department of Environmental Protection. In 2002, she was the Green Party’s candidate for President. In her svelte book, Politics as if Evolution Mattered, ATP charged, Hemingway simple prose, promotes the concept that Evolution is the foundation where, all 21 Century institutions and cultures super-structures of our society are built upon. She suggest, if properly interpreted and wielded, Evolutionary thought has the capacity of shaping public discourse in a rational, ethical beneficiary venue, more so, than the mass media, pop culture trends and political ideologies.

“The central dilemma of modern humanity is the failure to adapt our behaviors, institutions and objectives to certain realities which we ignore or defy through our faith in technology and religion. This defiance is at the root of our ecological crisis along with the delusion that the human species or society can be perfected”

She points an accusatory finger at four institutional perpetrators that rebuff juxtaposing ecological and evolutionary strategies for a safe, resource management: Intransigent ideology, technology, social justice and human ethics.

“Neither nature nor evolution can provide a moral guide for human behavior or technological and ethical choices. What they can provide is an impartial, scientific explanation of which choices are most likely to enhance welfare and survival, and which ones are more conducive to societal collapse or species extinction.”

It is no exaggeration to exclaim that the disciplines of biology, ecology, modern medicine and agriculture, etc., could not exist without Darwin. Without him, these would be forced to rely on random observations and anecdotal experience, mere trial and error, with all the inherent handicaps

The Facts of Life: Science and the Abortion Controversy

Harold Morowitz & James Trefil authored a book, The Facts of Life; Science and the Abortion Controversy, elucidating and simplifying an issue that has been marred and mutantized with the culture memes of conservative politics and religious dogma. The abortion debate ascended to its political apogee mayhem with the Supreme Court’s decision of Roe v Wade, 1973. Both authors are George Mason professors, the former, biology, the latter, physics, address this philosophical, politically charge topic with a respectful nod to surreal dogma, but frame their arbitrative-like solution to this vitriolic debate in the natural world by utilizing the metric tools of science. My essay, Zygote Personhood is an Embryonic Ersatz relied heavily on this text as a reference, which is posted on my website: roysreflection.throughroyslookingglass.com Personhood is recalculated within the metrics of survivability and humanism, not a single cell, the comingling genetic material zygote from amorous parents, and a dogmatic, purported ensoulment, which incidentally, is not substantiated in the bible, covered in another essay: Abortion Debate: Refuting the Biblical Authority. What makes us uniquely human to Morowitz and Trefil is an enlarge cerebral cortex and its synaptic connection, which incidentally, it maturation, is in sync with the physiological wall (~24 weeks) of survivability of the fetus: lungs and circulatory system are fragile, and there less than optimal function relegates the fetus outside the uterus poor prognosis. So, the evangelical arguments that abortion is an abomination and immoral fails the test(s) of scripture and biological sciences; this book persuasively drives the biological argument to counter centuries of dogma, politely…

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Zygote Personhood is an Embryonic Ersatz

The Supreme Court’s hypocenter decision in 1973 on Roe v. Wade has been the epicenter of political tsunamis with the deluging dour consequences of women’s rights and dialogues of reasoning morbidities. The evangelical’s political and religious denouncement of the Court’s decision to empower women rights of choice, conferred to the moral police a faux legitimate suspension of Christian ethics, which rationalizes the hypocritical, “the end justifies the means” strategy of duplicity and prevarication. The purported corroborative references inciting condemnation from the virtue protagonist are the Bible and allege conversations with their God. One is falsifiable, the other, not so much. Within the framing of the Enlightenment, the Age of Reason (1650-1700) with their prescient philosophers: Voltaire, Diderot, Spinoza, Locke, and Jefferson who extricated divine intervention as a tenable explanation for natural-world’s phenomena of cause and effect, and so too, I will honed my arguments. Basically, first, I will disqualify the non-falsifiable God conversation; and then, exercise an exegesis of pertinent scripture that would suggest their deity’s intent regarding ensoulment and preferential considerations between mother v. zygote/embryo/fetus: the trinity of the uterus. I will conclude with a scientific– biology solution to the abortion issue by reframing the question from life to humanism: when does humanism start?

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The Supreme Court’s hypocenter decision in 1973 on Roe v. Wade has been the epicenter of political tsunamis with the deluging dour consequences of women’s rights and dialogues of reasoning morbidities. The evangelical’s political and religious denouncement of the Court’s decision to empower women rights of choice, conferred to the moral police a faux legitimate suspension of Christian ethics, which rationalizes the hypocritical, “the end justifies the means” strategy of duplicity and prevarication.  The purported corroborative references inciting condemnation from the virtue protagonist are the Bible and allege conversations with their God. One is falsifiable, the other, not so much. Within the framing of the Enlightenment, the Age of Reason (1650-1700) with their prescient philosophers: Voltaire, Diderot, Spinoza, Locke, and Jefferson who extricated divine intervention as a tenable explanation for natural-world’s phenomena of cause and effect, and so too, I will honed my arguments. Basically, first, I will disqualify the non-falsifiable God conversation; and then, exercise an exegesis of pertinent scripture that would suggest their deity’s intent regarding ensoulment and preferential considerations between mother v. zygote/embryo/fetus: the trinity of the uterus. I will conclude with a scientific– biology solution to the abortion issue by reframing the question from life to humanism: when does humanism start?

In reading the Bible, I truly can appreciate how the scriptures could be easily misconstrued; it apparently, appears to be encapsulated in ancient jingoism and void of any science. You would of thought, the creator of the universe, The Omniscient, would have solicited an assiduous editor; say la vee.

The faithful hold great stock in ensoulment; but, there is a bit of a controversy on its inception. There is a camp of the obdurate pious, who assert that this spiritual imbuement is at conception, and coincidently, simultaneously so does life; a political placard mantra of the pro- life evangelicals.  This “doubled-muddled” polemical, unfortunately, has no scripture support; and besides, even their God, The Omniscient, is acutely aware of spontaneous abortions and identical twins, all crafted by Mister Big, himself, who, needless to say, realizes it would be a profligacy of souls by adorning each zygote with “it” for each and every conception. Adroitly, Mister Big exercises parsimony in doling out the souls, for he knows that ~ 50% of all zygotes are spontaneously aborted, and the splitting of the zygote, days after conception, in the rare case of identical twins, would be a soul short.   

So, what exactly does God say, regarding the instilling of a soul onto the vehicle corpus, Homo sapiens: Genesis 2:7 And Lord God formed man [completely developed; not a zygote, not an embryo, and not a fetus—man] of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils [this is the very moment, we have been searching for; the ensoulment] the breathe of life; and became a LIVING SOUL. To me, The Christian God makes it abundantly clear, that man is fully formed before becoming the recipient harbor of the sacrosanct soul; to repudiate this, is to, recant the word of their God.

The feckless pro-lifers attempt to confer personhood [a political ruse to deny women’s  right of choice implicit in the Supreme Court’s case Rove v. Wade] to the uterine trinity, is solely or should I say soully weighted on scripture, so they proclaim—but wait—the one parable that has pertinence to the preferential consideration, to chagrin of the bible thumpers, sides with the women, the mother: Exodus 22: 22-23: If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow[apparently, abortion is not considered mischief] : he shall be surely punished according as the woman’s husband [I can see why evangelicals are apathetic regarding  women equity with men and comfortable with women subjugation]   will lay upon him: and he shall pay as the judges determine  [the fine is comparable to a health insurance premium] .  23: And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life [God indubitably subscribes to the culture mandate that woman has been conferred personhood and entitled to all the rights and protections deemed to its citizens outline by the country’s laws— and, the uterine resident, not so much.]

The fanatical pro-lifers claim that scripture is, “the source of authority” that substantiates their intransigent position, which incidentally, exposes them to the deleterious consequences of committing a flagrant infraction of the penultimate commandment: Exodus 20:16 Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.”  Yet, they persist; when you dismiss the conversation, reason is a casualty. Not only does anti-abortionist’s cause run counter to divine dictate, but the country’s constitution stipulates that theological dogma cannot be the impetus of legislation; for one denomination cannot be officially preferred over another without running afoul of the state and federal constitutions.

So, there you have it, both the bible and the constitution does not support the delusional defenders of the ersatz citizen zygote.  Yet, there are a couple of more nails that need to be pounded in this coffin before entombing.  A biological reality needs to be anatomically defined and explicated to our illustrious pious prevaricators. 

Let us start with by defining the uterine trinity:

Zygote After a female egg is fertilized, the resulting one-celled organism becomes known as a zygote. Once the egg is fertilized, the zygote begins a two-week period of rapid cell division and will eventually become an embryo. The zygote divides through a process known as mitosis, in which each cell doubles by dividing into two cells. This two-week stage is known as the germinal period of development and covers the time of conception to the implantation of the embryo in the uterus

Embryo The fifth week of pregnancy, or the third week after conception, marks the beginning of the embryonic period. This is when the brain, spinal cord, heart and other organs begin to form. The embryo is now made of three layers. The top layer — the ectoderm — will give rise to outermost layer of skin, central and peripheral nervous systems, eyes, inner ear, and many connective tissues. The heart and a primitive circulatory system will form in the middle layer of cells — the mesoderm. This layer of cells will also serve as the foundation for bones, muscles, kidneys and much of the reproductive system. At the beginning of the 11th week of pregnancy, or the ninth week after conception, the head still makes up about half of its length. Now, is officially described as a fetus. This week eyes are widely separated, the eyelids fused and the ears low set. Red blood cells are beginning to form in the liver. By the end of this week, external genitalia will start developing into a penis or clitoris and labia majora. By now, it measures about 2 inches (50 millimeters) long from crown to rump and weigh almost 1/3 ounce (8 grams). The inner layer of cells — the endoderm — will become a simple tube lined with mucous membranes. The lungs, intestines and bladder will develop here.  

Fetus Analogous to constructing a home; the major organs have been 2×4 framed and sheet-rocked, but the intra-structure of plumbing, blood vessels, and wiring, nerve cells are being initiated and completed.  During this gestational period, the discerning structural property that delineates us from the rest of the mammalians is the sublime summit of the colossal complex cerebral cortex. It is not different from other animals, for even a fish has one; but, the convoluted, fissure cut organ has evolutionary bulked-upped, 70% of the total brain weight, and acquired new functions that are uniquely human.

Herein lays my cogent point. The conversation should not be when life begins but when humanism begins; the uterine trinity, zygote, embryo, less than 24 weeks gestational fetus are anatomically not equipped to be a sentient being.

The brain is compartmentalized into three, increasing in function capacities: hindbrain, located at the base of brain composed of the medulla, pons, and cerebellum, which control the basic body functions (without conscious thought) of breathing, blood pressure, intestinal peristaltic undulation, and posture is control; midbrain, visual and audible information is processed—collectively, hind &mid brain are referred to as the reptilian brain stem, the pedestal to the large, Hulking   forebrain, the residence of humanism; forebrain, the cerebrum,  which lords over the brain stem serfdom, complicated withanatomical bureaucracy and communicates via the venue of billions, rivaling in number the stars in our Milky Way Galaxy, of synaptic neurons that houses the incorporeal mind. The cerebrum’s wrinkled convoluted veneer— the cerebral cortex— what distinguishes us from other animals; humanizes, is the anatomical pantheon wherein speech, conscious movement, processor of visual, tastes, and sensory information, and choreographer of social interactions and intellectual endeavors are born. This is the vital real estate of the brain where the elusive mind- consciousness dwells, and if by chance, for any reason, it would sustain damage by disease or blunt trauma, it potentially could defrock the essence of humanism from the corporal:

Severe brain damage can reduce a person to a reflex machine that shows no sign of consciousness or mind. Damage limited only to the cerebral cortex, the highest region of the brain, appears to abolish completely all human characteristics, abilities and awareness. Thompson, R. F. 1975.  Introduction to Physiological Psychology.

Long winded point being, is until this vital tissues are constructed, cerebral cortex, and connected, synaptic neurons, which incidentally, comes on the gestational scene at 24 weeks, humanism is void.

This repudiates the alleged pious prevaricators claims of, “The Silent Scream”, of the aborted fetus agonizing in pain during the procedure, factually put, until the synapses are firing, the fetus is incapable of feeling or conscious of anything, specifically, pain!

Last but not least, coincidentally, survivability of the fetus outside the uterus is temporally limited due to the immaturity of the other organs, especially, the lungs. The 3rd trimester humanism and survivability synchronicity potentiates the reason for women’s choice prior to this gestational age for safe abortions: no soul, no conscious, no foul.   

Roe v Wade is good legislation imbued in sound reasoning, science and theology. 

The Hemlock Cup

Bettany Hughes a historian of considerable acclaim, who has presented multiple documentaries for BBC, PBS, the Discovery Channel, the History Channel and National Geographic—whose academic home base Oxford University, where she received a degree in ancient and medieval history has written an excellent bio on Socrates.

Socrates, a 25 century icon personality (fifth-century BC), whose unrelenting oratory exercise in exposing the truth set the bar for Western philosophy. Frustrating to lovers of the written word, the prolix peripatetic never transcribed anything; his apostles, Plato, being one, chronicled his events and rhetoric—for, the Greek philosopher felt that the written words themselves are not complete representation of knowledge, but rather words are to knowledge as pictures are to their subjects.

Hughes cyclically ebbs and floods from the fifth-century B.C. to the contemporary, referencing archaeological digs to project the massive marketplace, Agora, the cardiac muscle of Athens, where Socrates meandered the narrow corridors to engaged the populace in dialogue to purposefully exhume the enlightening gemstone of truth. We are guided to the battlefields where he risked life and limb, the lascivious red light districts and gymnasia; apparently, bisexuality was the norm, and the religious festivals he attended. We meet the women, few, as they were, who were core to his life: his wife, yes, I’m surprise too, didn’t realize the vagabond stood still long enough to get hitch, her name was Xanthippe, and his clandestine confidant, Aspasia. We tour his birth and self-induced death sentence sites.

Hughes not only depicts the birth of the father of philosophy; but, the ectopic pregnancy of democracy…

Abortion Debate: Refuting the Biblical Authority

The first stubborn fact is the word abortion does not reside in the sacrosanct tome of the bible: The sublime spiritual regal trinity, God the Father, Son, aka Jesus and the Holy Spirit are mute on the topic. One would assume that the collective omniscient/s, the purported creator/s of the universe, could muster up enough etymological omnipotence to conger The Word, abortion. The term has been mud-mired and stained in the swamp of legalese and religiosity creating a perceived odious monster, evoking recoiling gestures of eyes averting, nose pinching loathing and subsequent mind numbing, faith embracing, and ignorance of its implicit opprobrium. It’s indispensable that terms of a subject debate be clearly defined to preclude nebulous semantics and tortuous exaggerated interpretations: There are two types of abortions to be delineated. Spontaneous Abortions/miscarriage: a termination of pregnancy before viability that occurs naturally without medical intervention.
Therapeutic abortion: a termination of pregnancy via the intervention of a physician through surgery or the use of RU-486 or some other medication.

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The first stubborn fact is the word abortion does not reside in the sacrosanct tome of the bible: The sublime spiritual regal trinity, God the Father, Son, aka Jesus and the Holy Spirit are mute on the topic. One would assume that the collective omniscient/s, the purported creator/s of the universe, could muster up enough etymological omnipotence to conger The Word, abortion.

The term has been mud-mired and stained in the swamp of legalese and religiosity creating a perceived odious monster, evoking recoiling gestures of eyes averting, nose pinching loathing and subsequent mind numbing, faith embracing, and ignorance of its implicit opprobrium.

It’s indispensable that terms of a subject debate be clearly defined to preclude nebulous semantics and tortuous exaggerated interpretations: There are two types of abortions to be delineated.

  • Spontaneous Abortions/miscarriage: a termination of pregnancy before viability that occurs naturally without medical intervention.
  • Therapeutic abortion: a termination of pregnancy via the intervention of a physician through surgery or the use of RU-486 or some other medication.

I hope to convince the reader by referencing notable scriptures that the evangelicals’ has plied countless times before as passionate testimony of self-righteousness certitude fomenting that the Bible, God’s dictation, sanctimonious prose forbids abortion— does not exist, at least, not in my King James Version of the Bible. My critique of the scriptures I site will challenge the assertion that abortion is immoral and breaks a commandment; a conjecture that teeters on the moral fulcrum that God unambiguously stipulates in the Holy writ of the Bible not to perform abortions, and implicitly connotes the “sanctity of life” by the 6th commandment, if your Catholic, the 5th: Thy shalt not kill/murder.

Let me be abundantly clear; the scripture elucidates and exemplifies a continuum of gynecological stages in the format of antediluvian speak on conception, pregnancy, miscarriage, birth; and, scripted demonstrable terms on what constitutes murder.  Yet, the omniscient failed to take the home court advantage by instructing the Bible scribers to unequivocally condemn abortion as a sin, forbid it, or label it murder. One can brainstorm why God, who was prolix on countless topics, refuses to séance a clear counsel on this 21 century controversy.

 

  • Questions:
  1. What scripture/s indubitably states, in simple categorical declarative terms; commandment-like, thou shalt not commit an abortion?
  2. Why is it, if life is truly precious; you know, we have all heard the shrill mantra, “the sanctity of life”, advocated by the pro-life, pious, proselytizing evangelicals; which incidentally, contradicts their omnibenevolent Almighty, who with  impunity, commits and condones murders and genocide?

I will start off with a challenge to the reader to actually read and research the weighty tome of the bible and spy the elusive term abortion or, a succinct authoritative directive that abortion is wrong, where God or senile hoary, bearded patriarchs dogmatically dictates, “don’t do it!” Let us start scrolling through the scriptures…and, right out of the box is a passage the frenetic fanatics conveniently turn a blind eye to:

Numbers 5: 12-28: This scripture stipulates, if a man suspects his wife of a clandestine sexual liaison indiscretion and consequently heavy with fetus, he could promptly take her to a priest, aka the medicine man/shaman, where from his armamentarium of roots and eyes of newts prescribe to her “bitter water”, an abortifacient produced by combining pennyroyal with black cohosh, which would terminate the pregnancy. This is part of the LAW OF MOSES, general prescription of practice for God’s “Chosen People”. Sounds like a sanction abortion to me.

Exodus 21:22: If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follows: he shall be surely punished according as the woman’s husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine.

The first visceral response is, this is pure unadulterated anachronistic chauvinistic clap trap; but, aside from my 21st century tendentiousness, the weighted emphasis is on the women not the fetus, and yes, it was a miscarriage*, but none the less, the passage clearly promotes an accentuated preeminent priority “the woman”, trumping a competitive fetal consideration.

*The miscarriage, “the natural abortion” statistically occurring in 20% of all pregnancies and, with an addition of 20-30% more, jacking-up the total miscarriages closer to 50% (a veritable coin toss percentage) of women who are not cognizant of their pregnancy and assume the miscarriage is nothing more than a heavy menstrual period. Now, stick with me here, I am going to attempt to connect some dots of reasoning: If you are of the mindset that God is responsible for all that exist and a soul is awarded to a zygote at conception, miscarriage might be a conceptual conundrum. For if God has created all, to include, women’s anatomy and physiology; implicit is the engineering of the process of miscarriages, “natural abortion”, this would allegedly confer, not only does God nod with approbation, but liberally employ abortion. Ensouling a zygote is a muddled conversation, at best, but it does implore the obvious query of where does all the ensouled miscarriages go? We should probably direct that question to the Almighty. I will leave that to you, my direct line to the omnipotent has been disconnected.

Continuing with the scripture…

Psalm 139: 13-16: [13] For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb. [14] I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. [15] My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. [16] Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. 

This is David “rocking with the Lord”; lyrics to music praising God—yet, it’s simply an ancient appreciation for the embryo during gestational development, and stills falls short of marrying up the uterine hitchhiker with a soul: a missed opportunity. Why?

Jeremiah 1:5: Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.

The intransigent dogmatic are straining rationale in the context of abortion to imply anything before conception; are they referring to the sperm, egg, or the twinkle in the parents eyes. Actually, this is Jeremiah tooting his own horn that God knew of his calling as a prophet before he was born.

Psalm 127:3: Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.

Hells bells, yes, undeniably children are precious, but they are the product of planned and wanted pregnancies. The social worker’s docket is full of the domestic tragedies of unwanted children that are abused.

Isaiah 49:15: Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.

Again, another metaphor, that plays on the symbolic relationship between God and the people of Israel.

Luke 1: 30-41:  And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God [31] And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus…[41] And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost.

These passages are about an angel fluttering down, I assume, and saying, “psssst, yo Mary, you are pregnant with God”, and according to the paternity test, the Holy Ghost is the father—really, virgin birth and spirit sex? This has questionable applicability to the abortion issue?? I got nothing.

Genesis 9:6-7: Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man. [7] And you, be ye fruitful, and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth, and multiply therein. 

The “rabbit” contract to go forth and multiply, a dictum to Noah has been honored and fulfilled; currently, the population is 7 billion, by 2050, it will be 9 billion. It is time to invoke the Genesis 2:15 clause, which under the present circumstances supersedes the rabbit contract: And the Lord God took man, and put him into the Garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it; thus, we become the implied sapient stewards of the earth. One has to respectfully query the Almighty’s acumen when He/She lays at Noah’s, who is 500 young, door stoop the overwhelming responsibility to build a zoo-boat in preparation for the flood, too house two of every kind of animals, to exclude bacteria and viruses; apparently, God wasn’t privy to microorganisms or the microscope at this time; then, flood the planet to cleansed it of the unsavory, irreverent miscreants; to include, pregnant women and children. Forty days later, after the tides ebb, Noah, the hoary bearded patriarch and clan our tasked with setting the animals free and repopulating the planet. Noah lived to be 950 years young; God, obviously, must have had a different man model back then. God’s sacrosanct platitude of “sanctity of life” loses credibility in the flood that drowned the human race, save Noah, family and some critters. Genocide is genocide, regardless of the perpetrator.

Exodus 20:13: The Commandment, Thou shalt not kill

As one pages through the bible; more specifically, Old Testament, the blanket statement of the 6th commandment, thou shalt not kill/murder has many caveats. The Bible is abundantly clear on what are justifiable and criminal killings with appropriate metered penalties. Below are some cursory samples of justifiable (?) executions/killings/murders/genocides: Stoning was very popular; Deuteronomy 21, disobedient sons; 22, non-virgins and adultery. Once, the whole human race pissed God off and He/She drowned, saved Noah and family, them/us: Genesis 9. If a select nation, Canaan, for an example exhibited malfeasance to the fealty of God’s commandments, He/She would command the Israelites to decimate the offending agents: Deuteronomy 7: 1-5. If per chance, you find late term abortion a touch offensive; then— Hosea 13:16, Samaria shall become desolate; for she hath rebelled against her God: they shall fall by the sword: their infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their women with child shall be ripped up —might give you pause.

Intriguing is the fact, abortion was never addressed as a God offensive infraction regardless of all the Moses’ madness, minutia

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My King James Bible: closing the chapter on the abortion issue

mandates; and consequently did not warrant recognition by name with a punitive sentence.

I feel the two questions asked at the beginning of the essay have been unequivocally answered with a resolute NO; God of the Bible did not denounce abortion and the inferred, “life is sacrosanct” is true only when God capriciously wants it to be, for in the arsenal of an angry God are inundation and decimation: horrific genocide by any reasonable interpretation.

The political fight of abortion is a farce a falsehood; there is indubitable no supporting scripture condemning abortion. It has been a political ploy by the anachronistic evangelicals to sequester women’s rights to choose. This inane insanity needs to cease!

Chronicling The Legend Of Jackson Wood: Year One

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Precociously “taking the initiative”, JW arrived early, and continues to engage. Like all legends, there are surreal shadowy myths weaved into the perfunctory, blurring veracity—and, as Dave, my son in-law has counseled, truth shouldn’t obstruct a good story; and so, the saga of JW begins.

There is a hint of a parallel with Rudyard Kipling’s character Mowgli in the short story Rukh, which JW personifies. For those who are not familiar with the moral laden anthropomorphize Jungle Book of Kipling, where a child is lost, orphaned to  the Indian jungle during a tiger attack, and, fortuitously a wolf, Father Wolf, happens on the bedraggled, trepid man-cub and corralled him back to the den to be nurtured by mother, Raksha (protector) wolf. Father Wolf promptly and aptly assigned the moniker Mowgli, which translate to frog, because he was furless and in an incessant kinetic. Let me be unequivocally and litigiously clear, JW was not lost in the Blue Ridge Mountains; however, he has as his constant companion two dogs: a Golden retriever, Gatsby and a Labrador retriever, Lucy. This canine comradery will profoundly, in my, GOBY, humble opinion, influence his life’s filter of insights.   

Temporal progress of munchkins is assessed in terms of: modes of mobility, mastication and articulation. He did not conspicuously display any virtuosity in the categories of movement, eating, or talking; bidding his time, I presume. Chillin’ with normalcy, he cooed, cried, and dispensed excrements at will; and then, there was a sighting of purposeful movement: he willfully completed a spatula turn of supine to prone. His self-propelling progressed; where, in ten months he was crawling, and thirteen, walking. These triumphs of portability were accomplished in evolutionary increments. The maneuver of crawling, at its inception, he exhibited a faulty motor skill transmission; it was stuck in reverse, he would push himself backwards to get to his destination. He finally found forward and his acceleration speed tripled. Walking, a two-step stratagem; required that he implement the gravity defying feat to stand upright and balance; then, commandeer the assistance of his pudgy legs to take turns moving forward. The goal was not to stumble and fall: pain was a consequence and incentive. His initial gait emulated his Hominidae cousin, the chimpanzee, with their pendulous sway. His stumbling and chimpanzee sway were tweaked and corrected with repetitive excursions of bipedalism. 

Mastication is still in its infancy; progress is inextricably linchpin to dentition: The current count of teeth is six. He combines a gumming, teeth tearing employment to reduce morsels to a digestible aliquot to slide down his water-hose esophagus to preclude an obstructing choking episode. He has an inordinate fondness for chicken, smoked salmon, and strangely enough, cat food, to be followed by a beer chaser.  This implores a summoning from the deepest recesses of my hippocampus, the idiom “you are what you eat.” That reference is attributed to Antheleme Brillat-Savarin in Physiologie du Gout, ou Meditations de Gastronomie Transcendante, 1826:

“Dis-moi ce que tu manges, je te dirai ce que tu es.” [Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are].

What exactly can we adduce about JW from his eclectic eating proclivities? Possibly, a budding genius, yea, I’m going with that assertion; after all, he is my grandson.

His articulation, a confounding complexity of the anatomical communion of lung, vocal cords and articulators: tongue, palate, cheeks, and lips; which engender his nascent garrulous gibberish with the random recognizable word that has us squealing with exuberance, parroting the sacrosanct verbiage with a dog decibel pitch hopefully enticing an encore. His current exhaustive vocabulary is: Dada, Mama, Lucy, Gatsby, and debatable cat. Yea, I know what you are thinking, how do I explicate the precocious phonation of the dogs names? If you listen carefully, you will hear in the distant background a humming loom weaving the canine conundrum myth; the dog man rapport compact, a contractual pack that transpired, “came to light”, in the dark, dank caves of dawning Neanderthal: the answer lies there; the codified mystical incantations evoking permission to surpass the world’s natural laws of physics, chemistry and biology. The dogs, Gatsby and Lucy projecting the personification of father wolf and Raksha innately petition the ancient rituals of the esoteric covenant. Hence, in compliance with the antediluvian compact, JW adroitly enunciates the family’s dogs’ names.

Generally, all conversations regarding human ontogeny, usually, address the issue of the brain; which invariable splashes over into the intransigent debate of nature vs. nurture: the dichotomy construct that purportedly contributes to the IQ. I overtly dodge this contentious topic because, “it aint’ easy to assess” especially within the flippant format that I presently contrived here in this essay…a lot of authors use the expressed cop-out of, it, the subject that is cumbersome, is beyond the scope of the story line, and clumsily throw the reference grenade—I just pulled the pin. However, beyond the ravaging prickly thorns of the briar patch debate that assigns ownership to the agent of brain power potentiating reasoning, that is uniquely Hominid, exclaims another higher mental prowess that Homo sapiens possess: moral judgment. The source of this lofty gray-matter endowment is scaffold with hormones (oxytocin), and the plausible innate and heritable impulse to imitate empathetic behaviors. JW’s parents, Melissa and Justin, love animals and the altruistic, respectful kindness, which is demonstrable daily to the family pets has not escaped the scrutinizing attention of my grandson who precociously emulates. Empathy is inextricably implicit to moral judgment and watching my grandson gingerly pet our cat Copernicus suggest that were ever his brain’s epicenter of empathy resides, it most assuredly is hypertrophied.

The New Science of Evo Devo

Sean Carroll’s “THE NEW SCIENCE OF EVO DEVO” ENDLESS FORMS MOST BEAUTIFUL completes the one long argument of Evolution trilogy, starting with the iconic On the Origin of Species, 1859 (Charles Darwin) and the genetic base sequel, Evolution the Modern Synthesis, 1942 (Julian Huxley). The Origin describes evolution through a selective process of favorable traits endowing its possessor a reproductive advantage called natural selection; the Synthesis defines the favorable traits as genes, specifically, Deoxyribonucleic acid, DNA; and, EVO DEVO cogently explicates the molecular mechanics of evolution in terms of genetic tool kits and switches, the simple components imperative to build all organisms. Simply put, there is a tool kit of genes for appendages; the same gene that forms an arm for a human, a wing for a bird, a fin for a fish are one in the same. So, the philosophical question begs to be asked, if there is such simple genetic similarity between all organisms: the euglena and elephant, what evoked the immense diversity of critters. The Holy Grail lies within the switches, which lever the tool kit into operation on when and what to do: molding animal forms into size, shape and colors. ”The new understanding of tool kit genes and genetic switches explains how, from so simple a beginning, the endless forms of nature have evolved.”

Sweetness and Blood

Michael Scott Moore’s travel adventure, Sweetness and Blood: How Surfing Spread from Hawaii and California to the Rest of the World, with Some Unexpected Results. He paddles his way/through eight non-conventional surfing countries to explore the historical strand line to identify, who was the first “surfer” to catch a wave. In the historical strand line, he was exposed to eclectic shell shards of politics and local culture that typically would not be receptive to such a leisure activity.

Chicago’s Consummate Carnivores, Criminals, and Conflagration

Chicago
Mary on the patio of the Trump Tower

At first sniff, Chicago’s history is suggestive of a brewing caldron, wafting odiferous conflicting legends of the origin of its name, mystery of who and what started the great fire of 1871, and what was the meteorological source of the allege tree bowing wind. The etymology of Checagou [Chick-Ah-Goo-Ah], of the language of the Potawatomi tribe is loosely translated as “bad smell”, alluding to a pungent smelling and tasting plant of the Genus Alluim.  The debate is attributed to bad botanizing and misreading of the journals of Henri Joutel who assiduously describe the natural history of three species of plants of the same Genus prevalent of the Illinoisan landscape; they were: A. ceuum, A. canadense, and A. tricoccum.  A critical assessment of Joutel’s journals lays culpability to A. tricoccum, the wild garlic, as the eponymous plant for evoking the nose twitching repugnant reeking bouquet, not the wild onion implicated in the Chicagoan’s museum display cases.

I will continue to address the beguiling historical folklores of Chicago, as one would ply condiments to season their food; selectively interjecting the narrative with peppering hindsight critique—but, I should probably now disclose the impetus of this sojourn. It started with a phone call from our eldest daughter, the gametophyte, (see essay, New Mexico’s Mountain Sirens Entreat Antipodes, http://roysreflections.throughroyslookingglass.com/) she floated the whimsical ideal of flying out to Chicago for dinner—I’m not kidding, just, fly out to Chicago for dinner. Well, there you go, once that seed was planted; like the proverbial, pervasive weed, it would have taken legions of pesticides to evict and eradicate this seeded suggestion; and still, there would have been one lone evolutionary mutant individual that would have elude the barrage of toxic chemicals and survive. It was futile, she was going. I was later enlisted as an escort. Apparently, we are a package deal. The restaurant that siren beckon our gametophyte daughter was the renowned Alinea, that offers a 23 course meal, a fusion of modern art and exotic morsels, which blur the lines between an Art Museum and restaurant.   

One of the many talents Mary wields is that of a logistician: impeccable planner. Game on! Transportation, hotel reservations, funding, daily agenda; check, everything is a go. We were fortuitous, in that, a long lost, elusive relative, her brother Chris, a Chicago home-boy, was located and enlisted to take advantage of our impetuous dinning plans with a possible visit. Chris up the ante with the magnanimous offer to pick us up at the airport and taxi us around the city; to include, brunch, and a lunch at a local establishment Obama frequented (disappointed though, didn’t serve beer). We all indulge in an incredible Italian dinner, where our child of the currents was in attendance to share wine, beer and pasta. In the interim of the punctuated meals, we visited the historical benchmarks of Rockefeller Memorial Chapel at the University of Chicago and the site of the 1929 St Valentine’s Day Massacre, where the Moran gang was executed by machine gun happy associate of the Al Capone gang in a garage that is no longer there, only a weedy lot. We did a drive-by of Obama’s residence, which is an imperative must for staunch liberal democrats—and, obviously tuff to endure for a fiscally conservative republican, which Chris is. We leisurely strolled through the History Museum, which was satiated in Lincoln memorabilia, and chronicled the etiology of the blustering winds myth, “Wind City”, a derogatory moniker for blow-hard politicians soliciting favor to host the World’s Fair, not inclement weather. The saga of the culpability of the 1871 Chicago conflagration was expounded on, still smacking with reasonable doubt of whether Mrs. O’Leary’s bovine kick the lantern that started the fire that engulfed the city of Chicago leaving 100,000 homeless and 300 dead, or was the perpetrator Peg leg Sullivan. Like a batter who had just hit one over the fence, a home run, we circled the home of the Cub’s Wrigley Field baseball park. Chris exhibiting the attributes of any successful business manager took full advantage of car time as a multitasking opportunity to espouse a litany of recommendations to insure a meaningful visit to the “new” N.Y., the great city-state of Chicago; and finally, dropping us off at our hotel. Thank you Chris, and to reiterate our humble offer, we would love to extend you the same courtesy when you visit Charlottesville, the home of the Founding Fathers.

As a part of Mary’s package planning, her diligence to detail included a Starbucks directly across the street from our hotel; literally, minutes from our room. The next morning with Chris’s suggestions and my book, I drifted across the street to an already beehive of activity to order the routine Americano and strategize the day, beginning with my perfunctory hour of reading. In reality, my strategizing was to relegate/consult the master planer to direct our day’s activities. She did. The agenda was mapped out; times and places indelibly inscribed:  We were to initiate our carnival ride tour by starting 1000 feet up on the 94th floor of the Hancock Observatory Tower, descended to the subways tunneling to the Field Museum to pay respects to the consummate carnivore, Sue, Tyrannosaurs rex, and then, bread crumb retracing back down the anthropomorphic rabbit-hole to wash up on the strand line of the Chicago River Architectural tour, ascend again, the Donald Trump Terrace to drink-in another vantage point of the Chicago’s architecture and meet Heather and friends for libations. Then again, descend to our final destination and primary objective of this world wind trip: the restaurant, Alinea’s.

Starting at “Big” John’s observatory was a propitious initiation of the grand overview of the “City State” Chicago: it afforded us the opportunity of a turret 360 of the city, four states and over 80 miles, which was aided with a surrogate concierge multimedia system explicating what was observed through the staged  telescopes. As enthralling and stupendous the gravity defying towers were my attention kept drifting back to the natural landscape of the shimmering Lake Michigan; its vastness and perceived placidity was mystically alluring. Satiated with the enchanted bird’s eye view, we decided to descend our vantage point and immerse ourselves in Chicagoanness. We were off to see Sue.

Mary is enamored of city life and prides herself a quick study when it comes to mastering the catacomb transportation of the subways, which we availed ourselves to, making our way to the Field Museum. Natural History Museums are candy stores to me; banks of scientific curiosities, and Field, had an exceptional repository. It was well represented in the conventional disciplines of Anthropology, Botany, Geology, and Zoology and glitzed with manicured show cases and a towering fossil: Tyrannosaurs rex, a dinosaur 42 ft. long called Sue name after the paleontologist, Sue Hendrickson, who exhumed its skeletal remains. Time was of the essence and like a funneling wind in a corridor, we breezed through consecutive displays pausing at Sue and looking to the ceiling to appreciate in its entirety, the best preserved sample of an extinct ancient marvel—and yes, pictures were snapped. Reviewing the digital pics, it’s competitive on who had the biggest grin. The second pause was awarded to the insect displays.  I contrite an inordinate fondness for the invertebrates, specifically in this case, a mind numbing collection of Coleopteran, the beetle, whose elytra, front wings, of some of the species were metallic florescent green mimicking the attributes of a precious gem…we had to dash, and with hurried gait we descended to the city’s catacomb and were whisked-away by the train to another venue of transportation: a boat, that sluggishly navigated a one hour cruise of the historic, notoriously polluted, and now, engineered to a state of environmentally salubriousness , Chicago River.

Once the mooring lines were casted, and we, the tourist, seated in the uncomfortable little chairs, and I, had a firm grip on my bottle of beer, we were graciously greeted by the guide. She was well poised, articulate, and historically erudite we were soon to learn. There was a laminar confluence of her greeting with the spiel regarding the 40 plus landmarks of modern American architecture we were to view sauntering down the aortic waterway of Chicago: The cruise went down the main branch of the Chicago River, up the north branch to the East Bank Club, and then south. The charming guide called out the names of looming buildings abutting the shore bank that cast long shadows, and their renowned, talented architects; to include, Mies van der Rohe, Skidmore Owings & Merrill, and Helmut Jahn, whoever they were. The lecture had filler topics, such as, the Great Fire of 1871; which, like the mythical birth of the sphinx from fire, so to, did the modern architecture of Chicago. The boat ride was fun and entertaining and I am almost positive that the beer had no influence on that laudable critique. Once we disembark, we meander back to our room of slumber to rejuvenate and prep for the evening escapades.

We agreed to meet the instigator, our darling daughter, of this vortex sojourn at the Terrace at Trump, which the owner, it might be redundant to intimate, but still giggling fun to say, and yet, concomitantly scary considering how much money he has and its wielding influence; the eponymous owner is also recognize as the preeminent political birther, crazy bastard! On the sixteen floor patio of the silvery-blue skyscraper of Trump Tower, we met Heather and friends for libations. We were drinking, not only our beer in, but the sights: besiege by fingers of steel and concrete celestially pointing, and then, ratcheting our vision down to the horizon, the vista of Lake Michigan beckoned. I raised my beer in a deferential salute to the architectural panoramic grandeur. Drenched in wonderment, we parted to our final destination, the restaurant, Alinea. Mary, Heather and I crammed into a taxi.

The climax of the journey was upon us, we entered Alinea. The Restaurant is located in the Lincoln Park neighborhood, unmarked? Was this an air of humility or arrogance? There was a two door entrance; the first open to a long corridor, the second, to the restaurant, the surreal world of the owner and Chef, Grant Achatz, where conventional cooking is as extinct as the dinosaur, and food preparations are under the influence of the trilogy of art, gastronomy, and empiricism. Let us be clear on the impetus of this event: it was to commemorate the ritual bonding of mother and daughter. I played the dual role of chronicler and escort: my evaluated station was no more than a side dish or appetizer. We were seated and the exalted exhibit of the advertised 23 (it should be noted, that our menu had listed only 20 course) acts commenced; and, like any rehearsed play each course was punctiliously executed and delivered with a peroration from each server. I will let a food enthusiast qualify the size of each serving, “average bites per serving were 4.14 and total bites for the entire meal was 116”, which was published on an online food forum. This type of cuisine, molecular gastronomy, entreats eyes, nose, and tongue to collectively assess each morsel; relying heavily on retro-nasal olfaction: nose detects thousands of odors conversely the tongue is limited to five discerning tastes and the eyes are easily subjected to deception. I truly would be remiss, if I were not to comment in detail on the general presentation of the multiple courses of the meal. There were times the exposition of the course was so ostentatious the delectable morsel was hidden from sight; then, there were displays and foods indiscernible from each other and, we had to be counsel on what to eat; and, some arrangements had several skews piercing incongruent layers of something to something, which would lead one to deduce they had an acupuncturist on staff.  This chimera ambrosia seduced the taste buds to realms of delight and distraction; the complexities evoked confusion.  T. rex’s paragon status as the consummate carnivore was in jeopardy by a ritual bonding of mother and daughter at the mythical Alinea. I can say without reservation that Alinea is like no other restaurant, and in spite of my best effort to describe the unconventional uniqueness, one needs to experience it themselves; especial, if there is bonding involved.

With the Chicago winds to our back and a mother-daughter relationship sealed, we leisurely left the surreal city-state to board the rails of reality.   

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

 

An Old Man’s Opinion

I like this story—even though, at the end I, with an interrogative crescendo, head tilting Scooby doo rendition, articulated to myself the Freudian slip of where is Waldo, quickly recovering with the proper Pronoun of Mark?  I suspect my tendentiousness toward this story line is attributed to the evolutionary psychology theory of Patternicity, where there is a proclivity to find meaningful patterns in meaningless noise: you see animals silhouettes in the clouds, beatified countenances in pizza toppings, and hear voices in electronic equipment. The suspected proximate cause is the priming effect, in which our brains and senses are prepared to interpret stimuli according to an expected model: life experiences and genetics dictate: the synergistic forces of nature and nurture!

The cognitive perceived commonality, or affinity thread of types of story lines, that you write, which I luxuriate in reading are set in the corridors of academic institutions: UVA, and now, Ralph Waldo…was the omission a projected subliminal… ”Emerson” Elementary. ???

 

I think you should have follow through and not supplanted the name sake with Elementary for two reasons: 1) alliteration effect, you know how I enjoy my alliterations, and, 2) Ralphie Emerson was the patriarch of the transcendentalism; an implicit supernaturalism spin (philosophical religious dogma bickering with the Calvinist about self) in literature—and, the eu-mazing Mark is enigmatically shrouded and foments the air of the ‘spiritual’ transcendental.  You will probably retort that it was too obvious and trite—maybe…

Afflicted with patternicity, I envision a conspiratorial alliance of the janitor that has Willard-like mesmerizing control of small mammals with the precocious maze crafter and expositor, the a-mazing boy, Mark.  The conspiratorial fraternal kinship seed was sowed between boy and janitor with your emphatic fleshing out of the toilet cleaner’s exaggerated behavioral tics: At the waning of saga, I was expecting that Mrs. Hewitt and his dad would find Mark in the company of the janitor.  Unfortunately, there is no absurd or wacky detection network in the brain to discern true and false patterns. We have no error detection governor to modulate the pattern-recognition engine; hence, the use of the filtrating empirical science; therefore, natural selection will favor strategies that make many incorrect causal associations in order to establish those that are essential for survival:

a father’s endearing, unconditional love for his son regardless of the reasons he publicly sports purple hair horns and draws freaky mazes…    

One does wonder if there was purposeful subliminal projection of the schools name to evoke the Turrets syndrome –like outburst of, “where’s Waldo?” I like this story line it has all the potential of a stem cell…

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