Elephant seals

by H. Millard © 2006

"Hey, man," said Homeless Jack, "I read this week that some scientist has recently discovered a new species of shark. There was also a news report about some others discovering many new species of animals and plants someplace else. And, so it goes. Hardly a day goes by that we don't hear of some new species being discovered. It's the spinning, man. The big turning and spinning and circling and spiraling keep on working. The shuffle never stops. Species come into existence and go out of existence all the time.

"You know, the definition of species needs work. The way we mostly use the word is to say that different animals are of the same species if they can breed and produce offspring. That definition isn't complete enough. We also need to factor in the morphological aspects of critters. I mean it's as though we've totally forgotten that if animals look alike, they often are alike. Not always, to be sure, but add that morphological stuff to the breeding stuff and you may have a better idea of what a species really is. I figure that if it doesn't look like you, man, it ain't you even if you can mate with it. And, don't forget there are many cases of supposed animals of different species producing offspring that can also produce offspring.

"The rise of new species--speciesization--among animals requires isolation between populations that can interbreed and produce viable offspring. The isolation can either be geographic or reproductive. What usually happens in nature is that some animals are cut off from other animals of their type--carried by the wind or ocean currents to remote islands, for example, or for some reason some animals "choose" not to mate with similar animals of their type even though they could produce viable offspring if they did mate. Then, throw in some mutations and adaptations and other stuff and you can see why new life forms are always being produced.

"We don't live in a static universe, man. The universe is full of moving streams and currents and everything is caught up in them and is moved along. If we do nothing, we may drift where we may not want to drift. Dashed on the rocks. Swamped and sunk. Who knows? I'm convinced that we're at the stage of our existence where we can and must start navigating the currents of existence, man. We need to navigate away from the shoals. We can't stand still. Our only hope is to start charting our course and navigating it as best we can, all the while keeping a strong hand on the rudder to make adjustments as we move along. We can do nothing or we can do something, but in either case we're moving. We're tiny boats on the water, man, and there are oceans and streams and rivers and currents all around us and there is no safe port that we can see with our eyes. That's why we need higher truths to give us guidance. This is our existence. It's time for us to start steering in the direction we want to go.

"Most people don't even see this stuff, man. They're just drifting blindly. Some others who do see some of it, but they have no rudders. Others have no oars. Some have the wrong maps.

"Look, each of us carries a genetic blueprint inside us for who we are. This is what makes us who and what we are. This is our essential self. But, there is not one iron-clad and rigid essential self. Our blueprint can change as conditions change and can lead to new improved models of ourselves just like boat manufacturers make new and improved models by making little changes here and there in their blueprints. Nature is constantly bringing in newer models. Some work and some don't. But, they keep coming and the ocean of existence remains.

"You know, we may even go through a major die-off of our type through blending and more direct forms of killing us. Then, maybe we'll bounce back and be better than ever as we arise anew from new Adams and Eves. I don't know about you, man, but I want to be one of those new Adams and I've navigating my little boat in the currents of existence in the best way I know to make this the case. I may not catch all the right currents and I may not be able to navigate around all the shoals, but I'm at least living intentionally and with purpose and I'm struggling in what I think are righteous ways for what is right. Beyond that, I can do no more.

"Speaking of this dying off stuff, I was reading that by the start of the 1900's, elephant seals along the Pacific coast had been hunted almost to extinction and that there were only about 20 elephant seals left. Then, the hunting ended and the elephant seal population started increasing. Now there are about 100,000 of the critters but they're all descended from those 20 that didn't die off. You know what? That means that those 20 that survived acted as the Adams and Eves of their kind and all elephant seals now living are related to those 20 and have their genes. That also means that there was a possible genetic turn taken by elephant seals as a result of hunting. This could be a good thing in the long run or it could be a bad thing. That's because the variability that was once found among elephant seals is now gone. They may all be too closely related. If they all catch some disease, their population may not have a genetic defense available that they would have had before when they weren't so closely related. Anyway, time will tell both for them and for us and for all other living things. But, remember, there's one little difference between us and elephant seals. We can think about these things and we can, hopefully, take steps to make sure we keep enough variability to help us survive, without giving us so much variability that we are no longer us.

"Live long and multiply right, man."

#  #  #


All three books are now listed on Amazon.com.
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Ourselves Alone & Homeless Jack's Religion  

Ourselves Alone & Homeless Jack's Religion
messages of ennui and meaning in post-american america by H. Millard

In Ourselves Alone and Homeless Jack's Religion, H. Millard, the hard to pigeonhole author of The Outsider and Roaming the Wastelands, has put together some of his category bending commentaries on post-American America. The commentaries deal with politics, philosophy, free speech, genocide, religion and other topics in Millard's edgy style and lead up to Homeless Jack's Religion, in which Homeless Jack lays out revelations he found in a dumpster on skid row. Browse Before You Buy ISBN: 0-595-32646-3

Roaming the Wastelands  

- (ISBN: 0-595-22811-9)
H. Millard’s latest sacred cow toppling book, is now
available at Amazon.com by clicking on this link

or by calling 1-877-823-9235.

“A fun–and sobering–thing to read” - Alamance Independent

The Outsider  

THE OUTSIDER - (ISBN: 0-595-19424-9)
H. Millard’s underground classic story of alienation is
available at Amazon.com by clicking on the this link
 or by calling 1-877-823-9235:

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