Post for Oct 22-28 2017 (updated Nov 1)

Tan (update): While viewing Sir David Attenborough explain the rise of vertebrates, I pondered on an age-old question: Exactly how did animals evolved from one species to the next?  Please permit me to elaborate further.

For lack of personal and irrefutable evidence to the contrary, I will admit, for the sake of argument, that the chronological sequence of the appearance of the different species — from single-cells to the warm-bloods — established by conventional (mainstream) science is valid and accurate.  From this,my question now is still the same age-old one: Where are the (missing) links?

Where are the evidences that convincingly and irrefutably show that such and such a specie arose from such and such a predecessor?  A specific case in point would be: Exactly to which specie of dinosaur was the first “bird” — supposedly or allegedly — born to?  Since there were several innovations to transition from reptile to avian, permit me to elaborate and pose the following clarificatory questions:
[1] Did scales slowly narrow and lengthen — through several generations — to become feathers or did they just “magically” appeared in a single generation?  Apparently, all reptilian scales, bird feathers, and mammalian hair are built from a protein called keratin (at least from what I can gather from URL: http://www.lsu.edu/science/soar/files/animal_coverings.pdf).
[2] Did beaks and bills developed gradually — i.e., likewise over the span of several generations — so as to enable to creature to slowly adapt to new food sources?  If I understand it correctly, the material used for beaks and bills are very different from the jaws of reptiles.  It would be a nearer possibility for the gradual transition from reptile to mammalian jaws than to those of birds.
[3] How do you transition from cold-blooded to a warm-blooded and how about the “evolution” from three-chambered to four-chambered hearts — according to URL: http://www.ideacenter.org/contentmgr/showdetails.php/id/1113, it is not likely evolvable.  In fact, how does one imagine a single-chambered heart (in fish) to two-chambered (in amphibians) to three-chambered (in most reptiles) and finally to four-chambered hearts (in birds and mammals).  How do you imagine the sudden appearance of an additional chamber because there can be no such thing as a gradual emergence of another chamber — just like one is either pregnant or one is not, there is no such thing as somewhat or partially pregnant or a half-lighted room.

The “missing links” are still missing.  They simply are still no traces showing the gradual transition from reptiles to birds and mammals because it obviously cannot happen overnight as the reptile parents — because not all reptilian parents abandon their offspring upon birth or laying of the eggs — would not recognize and consequently accept the radically unfamiliar form of the offspring from themselves and how to feed them since the food requirement may most likely be substantially different.

I would like to posit where to look for the “missing links”.  Since most mammals are live-bearing — with exceptions to the monotremes, which are egg-layers (in which case, any of the predominant egg-laying reptiles could have given rise to them so we may have to search for physical near-similarities) — mammals would mostly like “descend” from reptiles that bear live young.  Egg-laying reptiles could not be candidates because then the transition from egg-laying to live-bearing would have to be abrupt.  There is no mid-way between egg-laying to live-bearing, at least not among land species — because egg-laying could transition to gel-coated before completely abandoning gel-coats altogether for aquatic and marine animals though the transition from eggshells to gel to none is still quite abrupt.  Moreover, among live-bearing reptiles, the eggshells are still present.  It is only that the eggs are kept in the body until they hatch before giving birth.

Think about it.

TaN (update): In today’s (October 26) hardcopy of The Philippine STAR, with the headline titled “‘I never ordered EJK‘” by a certain Alexis Romero and a Christina Mendez, one should not take the words literally.  Rather, it should be read as “How stupid do you think I am?!” — that I will formally order EJKs?  But then again, as a responsible reporter, one should not put words in other people’s mouths.  If that quote is what Mr Duterte said, then that is what must be reported.

Mr Duterte repeatedly says that he is but a humble and average person — with a mediocre passing grade throughout his school days as well as the bar examinations.  However, no matter how low his intelligence is as his critics and detractors may wont to think or believe, I doubt if there is anyone so stupid as to explicitly give such an order.

Critics and detractors — and human rights people — should, instead, focus on gathering actual provable evidence (and not just affidavits, I have never trusted them, especially nowadays when people will not even blink to declare falsehoods against others and justifying it to avoid a guilty conscience) that can really nail the coffin — assuming that Mr Duterte is really so “evil” as to wish the demise of people, even if they have committed atrocious and heinous crimes and acts of evil.  If they cannot, then they should just shut up and let Mr Duterte get on with his relentless campaign “in peace”.

The biggest stumbling block I can see is to get convincing and undeniable evidence of extrajudicial killings perpetrated due to orders — even by mere allusion just as long as it can be proven that there is intent, which is going to be a Herculean task given the notoriety of many Filipinos and lawyers at that for doublespeak and utterance with malicious undertones — directly from Mr Duterte and not from some lieutenant or underling or cohort.  Add to this a “slogan” intimated to me by a lawyer friend, “Even when caught red-handed, deny until death.”

TaN: It is both so lame and pitiful that there are so many people who mindlessly, narcissistically, and pitifully copy celebrity stunts and publicity gimmicks — for the sake of being trendy and to unwittingly show the world that they are attention-starved copycats.  A case in point are the sporadic nude pregnancy photographs that are posted in cyberspace and I feel sorry for quite a few of them, especially people of note or those who have friends of media people.

I understand that one is proud to be pregnant and it is a beautiful thing.  I even understand the desire to share it with the world.  But to have it splash on broadsheets or in broadcast (visual) media and top it off by baring too much skin — to the point of going naked?  This is going too far.  Well, as the saying goes, A man in love knows no fear; a woman in love knows no shame.

The absolute bottom is to earn from all of it.  In fact, there is so much emphasis on money that it is sickening and pitiful that celebrities — already awashed with money, at least as compared to the ordinary Joe — would still milk the whole incident to the very last cent.  Now that is really shameful.

To make it worse, the adoring public just keeps on lapping it up, hungry for every bit of gossip and dirt they can get, with media as the silver spoon and raking tons of cash for the publicity.

I guess the repetition of Sodom and Gomorrah is just inevitable and we simply refuse to learn from the past.  Man’s lack of shame appears to have no bounds.

TaN: DNA (deoxyribose nucleic acid) is only a fragment that make up man’s totality and does not explain or answer man’s entire being.  It only addresses or accounts for the chemical aspect but not the others, such as the physical (or morphic), behavioral, and spiritual.

DNA only deals with the chemical reactions and metabolic processes and no further.  They either respond to external (relative to the cell they are in but still internal as to the organism’s body) stimuli or to its internal circadian schedule (like when it is time for puberty or meno-/andropause or apoptosis).

It is therefore inaccurate — to point of being almost arguably entirely wrong — to say that we or our behavior is being dictated by our DNA, that our DNA determines our pathology or that it is all in the genes.  While it may be true that a significant portion of what we are is in our genes, it is incorrect to extend our DNA’s role as to encompass our entire being.

We are simply giving DNA way too much credit and it would likewise appear we are attempting to shift the guilt and blame — for any wrong or bad that we might do — to our DNA.  In fact, quite sometime ago, there was news in the United States of America (during the Obama administration) regarding plans or proposals to conduct research or studies to determine how to recognize and isolate people with evil tendencies and come up with ways to pre-empt felonies and criminal behavior and put them in prison.

It is as if evil is a physical entity — instead of a manifestation or result of a sin or misdeed — that can be identified and that there are people born with a predisposition to evil.  Should this be the case, for the sake of argument and not acceding to or agreeing with it, then people would be guiltless because we are only acting in accordance with our genes.  This would mean that evil and wrongdoing are not conscious acts but are involuntary and we are mere “victims”.

And, continuing with this line of argument, we should not be at fault but simply pawns to our genetic code and putting people in prison for crimes that they have no (voluntary) control over would be an injustice.  After all, blame the genes.

In conclusion and still following this line of argument, we should be able to isolate and “correct” these “evil” genes and create a perfect society.  And should there still be evil and crime after “successfully” doing away and correcting these wayward genes, it would only mean [1] the guy who “corrected” the “evil” genes botched it or [2] we identified the wrong genes and those previous “successes” were accidents or coincidences or [3] EVIL IS IN THE HEARTS OF MEN AND NOT IN OUR GENES.

TaN: The problem with statistics and statisticians is that they tend to trivialize things and treat people as inanimate items, especially when it comes to issues such as (children’s) health.  Ten children out of a million may be extremely insignificant — 0.001% — in terms of statistics but the whole perspective or appreciation changes dramatically when your child is one of the ten.

It seems that many people fail to understand that, when it comes to life, especially human life, a death is one death too many.  Such losses are not quantifiable.  There is no quantitative means of measuring or approximating the worth or value of a (human) life, otherwise we reduce lives into inanimate objects or (worse) mere numbers devoid of any intrinsic value.  It will be just like saying that the value of human life is simply the sum value of its chemical compounds and elements in the open market — more or less $1 at today’s prices (according to https://www.thoughtco.com/worth-of-your-elements-3976054).

Moreover, this is if we assume that we are detached or disinterested parties and cold-hearted automatons.  However, there is this thing called Ethics of Care which, in a nutshell, says that the existence of a relation — i.e., a sentimental or emotional bond or attachment, especially a close one — changes the whole ball game.  It tends to cloud judgment and, on many occasions, significantly influencing what should otherwise have been an objective (ethical) decision.

This is likewise the argument I posed with my economist friends — that economics is supposed to be a social science and yet the “social” aspect seems to have been abandoned or totally ignored nowadays, especially in the field of Economic Statistics.  People are reduced to mere numbers and figures in a chart or graph.

I guess this is what happens when we put money — profit and earnings — ahead of people.  Money becomes the (ultimate) bottom line and nothing else matters.  It would be (slightly) different if there are other considerations at the bottom line besides profit.

TaN: When government mandates something to be applied to the population and the mandate is to be sourced from a private business — thereby ensuring profit for the supplier — it is but ethical that mandate must be bought at cost by the government from the supplier (i.e., production cost).  The supplier must not “earn” from the compliance with the mandate.  Some cases in point are: identification cards, licenses (like professional and driver’s), vaccinations (loss or damage does not apply here), et al.

In the cases of identification cards and licenses and other similar items, only the initial issuance is to be made available for free.  In subsequent replacements due to loss or negligent damage, replacement charges may be imposed as the recipient had been remiss in the proper care and maintenance and therefore is responsible and accountable.  However, as in driver’s licenses when there are periodic renewals, the same at-cost for the government and no-charge for the individual should likewise be applied since it is a mandate and charging or profiting for subsequent mandated renewals is also construed as an attempt to profit from a mandate scheme, which is unethical.

In cases where there is a periodic renewal, like driver’s licenses, succeeding renewals should likewise still be free-of-charge.  Cost of re-issuance should apply to instances of negligence on the part of the issuee, as in loss or damage.  Since renewals are mandated, it is (still or likewise) unethical to put the burden on the individual unless it be construed that it is a money-making or income-generating scheme.

All in all, government mandates where it will involve cost on the part of the public should not be turned into a profit-making, income-generating scheme.  It must be remembered that government does not exist to profit from the people but rather to serve the people.  Its source of revenue to enable and ensure it can carry out its mandate should be from ethical sources, such as taxes, penalties and fines, and return on investments.

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