Saturday, November 21, 2015



I'd say a Permutation is a sweet spot in computer science, in that it's a mathematical primitive that's just complicated enough to require enough code to be interesting.

You will gain some traction, in whatever language you're learning, if you can implement a Permutation in that language.

What is a Permutation then?  A one-to-one scattering of elements to themselves in another order.

Picture an arbitrary pairing of the numbers 0 through 9 with themselves again, in any order: {0: 7, 1: 1, 2: 0, 3: 6, 4: 8, 5: 4, 6: 5, 7: 3, 8: 2, 9: 9}.  In Python, the dictionary object works perfectly.

I get to teach about the Permutation type live through a microphone, then upload the source code for asynchronous inspection.

Permutations of finite elements may be multiplied, and therefore powered.  They may also be inverted, for which operation I use ~.  A permutation times its inverse is the identity permutation, which maps every element to... you guessed it, itself.

For further reading:
November 2015 postings to edu-sig
Group Theory for Beginners (MathFuture Google Group)

Monday, November 16, 2015

Going Clear (movie review)

By the time this documentary is over, we have to see it as mostly critical, in the sense of damning.

But lets review a few points made early on:  there really is quite a bit of fuzziness on what constitutes a religion; Hubbard (LRH) was living the life of a novelist who had come to believe in his narrative and cast himself within it.

He didn't take the money and run, as the more cynical charlatan might have.  He continued to work out with his E-meter, trying to make it more powerful, that the last of the BTs (body thetans) might finally be removed.  He absorbed a lot of military memes and used them to build his top-down org / pyramid.

More a dupe then, though with elements of shyster certainly.  The guy had tremendous hubris and saw himself as larger than life.  He let it go to his head, but then what did he have to lose after a certain point?  "Might as well see it out to the end, in for a penny in for a pound" would become the operative psychology.

Given an army of doting minions, he could also afford to be aggressive, leading a charge against other temporal powers (the IRS mainly), a battle he eventually won.  That's saying a lot given the old mantra about death and taxes.  That was quite a feat, to beat "the man".  Who does that?  He did have impressive skills.

In the sense of eating his own dog food, he's not that different from other religion founders who've bought into their own tales.  That doesn't prevent us from seeing him as a seriously messed up individual.  But then what exactly is mental illness?  Again lots of fuzziness.  We're not talking settled science.

His original struggle was to break free of mental illness, criminality and war.  Travolta:  what's to argue with there?  As a Quaker, I have to like the beyond war rhetoric.  Is Scientology anti nuke weapon? My Google search suggests that it is and mom confirms a Scientologist wanted to join their recent UNA meeting in Missouri, but was not especially welcomed by others on the board (mom said he seemed like a good guy).

In bringing up "fuzziness" I'm not looking to dodge the hard questions.  I've never spent a dime on Scientology nor read Dianetics cover to cover.  My friend Ray Simon admired LRH and worried he might have died already (early 1980s).  He wrote some letters.

I remember Ray's delight upon getting a note, believably from Hubbard, saying he wasn't sure what Ray's question was.  That was about 1981, so yes, that was likely an authentic letter.

Ray exposed me to improv and a NYC Scientology celebrity center.  This was after college, when I began to more seriously understand "show business" and the hunger for star status, notoriety, visibility, a place in the sun (or The Sun as the case may be).

As a logistics supervisor for est in New York City, which I did get involved with, I was starting to meet more people trying make a living through acting, in soaps, in commercials, in whatever gigs they could get.  Scientology offered to help with that, with other stars, like Tom Cruise, helping recruit new adherents by advertising Scientology as a key to their own success.

I hadn't known how deeply Hubbard's roots were right there in LA.  Makes sense.  That's where we see all those buildings, which I noticed one Christmas season, some years ago, walking up and down Hollywood Boulevard.  It's a religion that works in synergy with Hollywood.  Celebrities help build the church which in turn helps them build their careers.

Given how much depends on image and reputation, tarnishing accounts are seen as a threat and it's part of the church apparatus to defend the brand, especially against buyers' remorse, buyers being, of course, a main source of revenue.   A goal is to help the faithful keep their faith.  Don't let Hollywood go hollow.  Making an example of public dissenters discourages any public dissent.  Excommunication as a "suppressive person" is a form of banishment, and therefore feared.

Following the arc of Scientology helps us explore other religions and governments, as the same patterns are oft repeated.  What's so amazing about Scientology is how Hollywood it really is, in how it lives up to a caricature of itself, as if a screenwriter set out to make a cinematic science fiction movie about a religion by, for and about actors.

For an institution so real in the history books, it has the flavor of implausibility, a fevered dream.  Really, this could happen?  History is stranger than fiction sometimes, that much is clear.

Speaking of est, many stories on how C/S attacked Erhard's reputation are already out there. Erhard was perceived by Hubbard as stealing Church IP and was therefore considered "fair game" by its Office of Special Affairs.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Teaching Philosophy

I posted this to Bradford (cc Koski) recently, on one of the listservs:
I'm teaching adult philosophy students mostly.  We study Hegel, Heidegger, Fuller and Wittgenstein with a little Kierkegaard and Kaufmann around the edges.  From these greats, one may branch to others.

My friend Applewhite (collaborator on Synergetics) liked the Fuller + Wittgenstein combo quite a bit.  That's something I've developed.  Quadrays are a "language game" we use to investigate the foundations of mathematics. 

Is Kantian space 3D or 4D?  Verdict:  it's cultural. 

We also do some mathematics of course (philosophers always have), writing in Python perhaps (very pithy).  We might watch some of your Youtubes and have some paper plate sculptures in the Gallery.
I should be clear that the verb "to teach" as in "I'm teaching..." has come to mean new things.

Like I've been teaching Python for years without walking into 1879 Hall at Princeton and actually lecturing students.  I even teach in real time, yet not in a classroom.  Continuing to quote the same post (one typo fixed):
But the goal is not to disabuse Earthlings of their Cube fixation by coercive means.

We'll infuse some Martian thinking, that's unavoidable, but there's no "takeover" planned.  Humans are known to be violent and paranoid.  Partly why the Martians left their kids home (see "ratings" discussion) and surrounded their apartment with a LuxBlox fence [tm] is they know humans dislike anyone defying their Orthodoxies.  "When in Rome..."
However, philosophers especially, given their reputation as once at the top of the academic pyramid, have a need to be deeply informed about matters literary as well as political, and it's come to the point where not understanding Synergetics at all is like having egg on your tie.  They might eventually laugh you out of the department. 
So we needed a quick intro that's over quick, and Martian Math is it.  Takes maybe 10-15 minutes to get it in brief, with more background optional, and you're good to go.  Next time someone says something knowing about Fuller's Synergetics, you'll know to nod knowingly as you'll be in on it too.  Did you know there's a Synergetics Dictionary in four volumes (Garland Press) now on-line?
Most of my in-classroom realtime stuff has been for Saturday Academy, off and on, like when I did Martian Math @ Reed College.

Saturday, November 07, 2015

More Chores

Before Firing

 Really, an FM radio station that's all oldie-goldies and no commercials?  Seriously?

Now that I have the Bluetooth headphones, I'm more likely to be on SomaFM again, a streaming service out of the Bay Area.  Send 'em some dollars if you appreciate commercial free streams.

Warming to my subject:  pumpkin pie.  More seriously, I think Linus Pauling somewhat confirmed our intuition that our bodies depend on the outside world for some macro-molecules.  It's not just low level elements a body craves, like phosphorous, the flame of life (ATP cycle), but vitamins, and who knows what else?

Sure, it all "breaks down" in digestion but it could be a side effect, some enzyme spike thanks to that pumpkin pie you just baked, yourself, from fresh ingredients.  Like a hormone.

Am I saying you'll lose weight baking pumpkin pie?  No.  The two shells I filled asked for a cup and a half of white refined sugar.  That's not a trivial ingredient even for royalty, going back not so far.

Sugar was kept on a shelf for special occasions, not pumped through on virtual IV, starting with sweetened cereals.  They'd rot our teeth for free in exchange for cartoons.  Hey, everything in moderation.  Go crazy with the Froot Loops or Cocoa Krispies (one of my faves) once in a blue moon.

What might you get from pumpkin pie in the fall, the hemisphere returning to Winter?  C'mon, right?  Sure it's psychological, as if if what, like "psychological" doesn't matter?  Duh it does, right?

But I'm thinking more than that, some actual chemical, released through special food interactions.  I bet the French have whole bookshelves devoted to this subject am I right?

Let me check the frequency of this station again:  96.3 KWLZ-FM.

Just Out

Wednesday, November 04, 2015


PDX, 2015

The term "Homering" is used as a term of sneering disrespect in some circles, and relates to the fictional Homer Simpson of cartoon fame.  The connotation is "comporting oneself in ways unbecoming of a true man" as Homer is seen to do, including simply puttering about in a domestic manner, a way customarily associated with the female role (in charge of the household -- while men go out and hunt).  Such are the stereotypes in some circles.

As for me, I use "homering" with much less judgement, and if anything am admiring of the term for its becoming "anti-macho" flavor.  Vanity about one's weight (female: figure) comes within this ballpark i.e. cosmetics, glamour concerns.

Which brings me to the "no beer diet" which I've embarked upon again, up to January 1, then assess -- probably continue a few weeks at least.  This is not about abstinence from alcohol, and to reassure the "body politic" (my fat cells) I ostentatiously invested in $70 worth of high proof liquor, which I've been enjoying, including mixed with eggnog.

I know, I know, how can I lose weight if I'm sucking down buckets of nog, spiked or not?  Plus since it rained big time on Halloween, how is helping myself to a whole basket of candy in any way in the name of "slimming down"?  My skeptics are fierce, but in the long term I find eliminating ten or so pints of distilled grain per week ("liquid bread" lets call it) pays off.  I've already largely eliminated "liquid meat" (i.e. milk) from my diet with the occasional seasonal deviation permitted by religious lights I follow.  I was brought up to guzzle the stuff based on some government PR then in circulation.

Today Carol departed for Missouri. We breakfasted at Beaches, per usual.  She's involved in the public rebellion against being treated as "collateral damage" by the Nukehead Authorities.

Environmental tourism (eco-tourism) is already big and bringing groups through Kansas City, Missouri to gawk at this city-owned nuclear weapons factory should prove lucrative.  With or without plant tours (I'd think with, but that costs extra) we'll have the dioramas and documentaries, showing how these good citizens made their homeland proud. The PR displays are all a part of the eco-tourist friendly museum, similar to the one about Gitmo (see storyboards).

We also visit Washington DC of course, as a part of our eco-tour, a place akin to Guam in terms of representation in the Federation.  The idea was to create a semi neutral District, mostly Mason-controlled, that could be trusted to managed the money.  That didn't last long of course, as money management was turned over to a separate Central Bank (the Federal Reserve), and DC became more like a Caribbean colony.  Its representative still has American values though, in wanting the US to lead us out of the Nukehead Era.  She introduces the bill every year and of course is ignored by a mostly nukehead Congress.

Weapons retirement, i.e. decommissioning nuke plants that make the weapons grade fuel, is going to consume the time of many highly-educated, students who freely choose such important work as their principal area of concentration.

OSU has made a good start, with its "duck and cover" museum (it has a more formal name).  A network of academic and collaborating government agencies is beginning to prepare students for such a career.  Cleanup & Disposal of Radio-toxic Waste is going to be a job for well trained professionals from many backgrounds, for the foreseeable future.

The US national parks administration, under Department of the Interior, is thinking to take on memorializing the Nukehead Era in the wake of making these areas safe enough at least for eco-tourism.  Hanford and so on, are hosting interpretive centers, with exhibits like the one at OMSI, explaining the project to forestall more leakage into the global ecosystem, a disaster not unlike the Fukushima experiment.

Showing maps of the health effects of nukehead experiments, not just in Micronesia but on the North American mainland as well, goes with the territory.  Showcasing Missouri is just for starters, and is made all the more dramatic thanks to the underground fire.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Remedial Philosophy for Geeks

As an aspiring geek, you may have taken some philosophy courses at the university level.  Chances are, though, the even the basics of engineer-philosophy Buckminster Fuller got bleeped over.

Don't blame yourself.  Those training up as philosophy teachers in the 1900s came conceptually ill equipped and most of them never learned to shift gears.

You'll get up to speed on your own, studying the great variety of materials provided.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Looking Back


Visual FoxPro, abbreviated VFP by Microsoft, is the name of the power programming tool I used around the change of millennium (late 1900s, early 2000s).  The package went through several editions, up to VFP9, and that was after Microsoft bought it and made it run inside Windows.

The computer language VFP implemented was more formally known as xBase, with a first commercial implementation known as dBase II (there was never a dBase I).  At one point, Microsoft expected BASIC, xBase and C to be three major pillars going forward (a magazine cover I recall).  This was well before Java, or Python, or the .NET ecosystem.

Given I'd cut my teeth on programming at Princeton (Class of 1980) using both punch cards and a dumb terminal, by the time I returned to Portland five years later, I was ready to get up to speed and take clients.  Given my wife to be was a fund accountant for nonprofits, it makes some sense that I'd work in that sector also.

We sometimes had the same clients, as was the case with Vision Northwest, providing support for mostly older adults losing their eyesight to varying degrees.  Dawn did their bookkeeping while I launched their first Vision Voice application, a programmable phone tree that came with its own circuit board for the PC.  Users could navigate to informational recordings, made by VNW staff, including sale prices for grocery stores.  Fixed income seniors needed to save every penny.  I also wrote dBase for them.

Dawn and I became a business partnership in 1990 having both served at CUE (Center for Urban Education), itself a nonprofit providing tech support to other nonprofits.  Steve Johnson ran the Apple computer center (Macs + LaserWriter).  Thanks to a government contract, we later added PCs by IBM and its army of clones.

I took on dBase clients, and even a FORTRAN client, starting then, plus taught computer classes.  Dawn was the CUE bookkeeper.  My boss was Carol Slaughter (later Slegers).  Her boss was David Lansky, through whom I made my initial connection with Providence Health System, eventually to become my biggest client for my Visual FoxPro programming services.

Visual FoxPro's tenure at Microsoft was uneasy, because (A) it had its own IDE distinct from Visual Studio (B) it competed for market share with Access, a Microsoft flagship product (C) it started to spread free of charge, in Europe especially (I heard Prague was a HQS), outside of Microsoft's control.

I'd say reason (B) was the most devastating, as Access was the Microsoft flagship in that important realm of cube farm databases, but then I'm not a Microsoft insider and have never been a BASIC fan (in any of its incarnations, including VBA) though I appreciate how it filled a niche.  So lets count me as biased.

VFP was able to parse SQL in-line as part of its object oriented syntax.  It has (or had  -- Microsoft discontinued support for the language this year) a stellar development environment, in terms of letting one drag and drop widgets into place.  On the other hand, the separate DBFs for each data table, with external indexes, was immature.  Talking to a dedicated SQL engine makes more sense and in that sense the writing was on the wall:  xBase would be going away.

These days, the most standard architecture is to have a general purpose computer language talk to SQL and noSQL engines through APIs.  The Microsoft tool stack includes Visual Studio with Apache Cordova or maybe Xamarin, allowing programmers to write for iOS, Mac and Android, even Blackberry, as well as Windows.

However, given the demise of VFP, I've not been on the Microsoft bandwagon for some time now, except at work, where I run Eclipse on a Windows server back ended into a Linux filesystem.  I teach Python, which runs fine on Windows.

At the height of my career with VFP, I was juggling both CLAIR and CORIS.  CLAIR was the Cath Lab Angioplasty and Interventions Registry whereas CORIS usually decoded to Cardiac Operating Room Information System or something of that nature.  A co-worker, Andy Bennett, made up these abbreviations.

CLAIR ran in the cath lab and helped technicians capture useful research data at the point of care.  CORIS did much the same thing in the operating room.  One of the heart surgeons took CORIS on the road to show it off to other companies as the kind of thing hospitals might use (given ours did, under his supervision).  Our collaboration was no doubt influential although neither application spawned directly derivative works.  They were each one-of-kind.

I'm not the only "VFP refugee" who had to turn to other technologies.  The fact that Microsoft had made VFP fully object oriented, even more so than VB, and the fact that xBase had always had a shell (called the "dot prompt"), or REPL, made learning Python pretty easy.  C# is too low level, coming from a FoxPro background, meaning it requires too many lines of code to get too little work accomplished.  Moving from VFP to .NET of any flavor was not a paved, well-signed highway, so many VFP refugees took off in different directions.  Yes, a diaspora.

Nowadays I look at the Python-Jython / Clojure / Java ecosystem as my homeland.  I'm actually towards the bottom of the Clojure ladder, but that just means lots of room for advancement.  When you're at the top of all your ladders, that's not necessarily a pleasant occasion.  I like having both object oriented and functional programming languages running on the same VM, in this case the JVM.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Patriotism vs Nationalism

I'm digging into an eBook on my Kindle, entitled Cultural Idiocy: Why America is Losing the War of Words by Joe Marconi.  Here's a paragraph from the introduction:


The root of the problem, or at least another serious symptom of it, if we read on, is insufficient respect for professors (the author is one) and academic values.

I'm willing to buy that to some level, i.e. work / study programs are indeed important in fighting obsolete conditioned reflexes.  Even though I only climbed the degree ladder so far, I still believe in ladders and climbing.

This attitude of "dismissing [other countries] as lesser beings in terms of intelligence and accomplishment" is one optional aspect of what I'll call patriotism, not necessarily mentally healthy but also potentially innocuous.  One needs a home team to root for, be that a home state, school or company campus.

Patriotism traces to an internal "private sky" i.e. a "virtual country" or "land" which we sometimes think, in all innocence, is widely shared and well understood by "the masses" (i.e. "other people") -- a step towards nationalism's stronger need for literalism and one conception of reality uber-alles.

A self-conscious patriot embraces solipsism, not as a factual truth, but as a constructivist premise.  One constructs one's own reality, meaning one's country within one's world, which all has a "might have been" (subjunctive) flavor.

In actuality, it's the call of a higher Self that we answer and serve, toward some greater glory.  We seek a larger more cosmic purpose, however that manifests (for some, as a nation, for others as corporation or a religious institution -- some converge all of these in some multi-faceted bliss).

Thoughts about the inferiority of "other countries" need not go with the territory, but often do.  We certainly feel more "at home" in whatever "homeland" is ours, by definition.

Americans indulge themselves with permission to see themselves as "ahead of others" as "the wealthiest nation", as a "superpower". They're groomed to think in those ruts by generations of Manifest Destiny rhetoric, in my book a root cause of the very idiocy this author is talking about.

Indeed, when we lose the psychological and subjective dimension of a promised or promising land, and project our sense of "country" as an "objective nation" on the world stage, then our tone may become more authoritarian and defensive, as the memes of Nationalism creep in.

Citizenship may become more of an entitlement, but also an obligation.  Others may need you to die for them.  The company may need you to be a hero in some way.  Here is where defending one's country, remaining patriotic, may mean going against the expectations of a mere nationalist crowd or mob.  Nationalism is too shallow to comprehend a deeper patriotism.

When patriotism turns to nationalism and requires us to become more obsessed with borders and taking our inner life more literally, that's when we start building physical walls and other such barriers.  Whereas anyone may have a virtual country to serve, a whole planet by default, a nation requires political theater, i.e. concerted acting out.  More props come into play, such as visas and passports.

Was there ever a time that the United States was in any position to "dismiss as lesser beings" these other nations?  What has been the trajectory on the world stage so far?

Certainly individuals may be inventive but nation-states are legal fictions and devoid of personality, inasmuch as corporations are, or do we think only nation-states have what we now call corporate personhood?  Have we worked out what that means?  What are the metaphysical implications?

The USA was hammered together by many groups who'd been rejected or were on the run from the more dominant societies of Europe.  These were refugees, many of them impoverished.  The Statue of Liberty was their beacon later on, but the flight of outcasts and disowned did not begin with the installation of that statue.  We tell the story of the Mayflower.  Pilgrims were seeking new freedoms.

Lets try on for size that the USA was populated by some of the least socially adjusted, who then became further brutalized in prosecuting a form of genocide against native populations.

The collective IQ of America, so-called, has therefore always been exceptionally low.  As a nation, the US has always been at best a bold experiment, but in many chapters was more of a basket case, unable to exert self control or stop itself from gross misdeeds.  Lets see the US as "most retarded" if only in the name of "tough love" (back to patriotism).  That's how this book is having us see Americans too, as losers, with some advice on how to again win.

Do we "boast" of American exceptionalism (last quoted sentence)?  I always considered it more of an accusation.  Americans are too absorbed by "ahead of" and "behind", dissing and dismissing the "behind" while being "number one" i.e. a "superpower" in their own not so powerful minds.

Even with the cult of individual initiative and doing it one's self (rebellious independence), "Americans" as a population still take credit for and thereby socialize the accomplishments of individuals and suddenly it's some "we" that's innovative.

Aren't individuals the entities who are innately innovative?  How is it that fictitious beings are innovative?  Lets give credit where credit is due:  to humans, not their own contrived institutions (which humans invented).

Patriotism supplies the personhood.  People have the same sense of patriotism about their companies, so the fact that sovereignties are getting put in their place by the supranationals makes some sense.  The playing field has leveled more.  As long as we're in the realm of fictitious personhood, more than just nations can play.

Nationalists are more puzzled by these developments than more self-aware patriots.  Patriots understand the "love of country" involves a more metaphoric use of "country" with arrows pointing inward.  Nationalists are too dull to get that and project their inner dynamics outward, expecting the world to reflect their own internals by proxy.  In forgetting the power of psychology, they become its victims, its puppets, its idiots.

A nationalist is someone who believes in nations.  A patriot serves a higher selfhood without necessarily believing so hard, without adhering so strongly to contemporary dogmas about just what or where those nations are.  Those nations may be just political theater, often farcical and fleeting, strutting and puffing their hour upon the stage.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

In Corvallis

I'm not cleared to get onto the OSU secure network.  Some buildings no doubt have Guest or Visitor access, like Valley Library and La Salle, but I'm tucked away in Gilmore Annex, one of the conference rooms.

I came along on this trip as a chauffeur for Carol, the WILPF big shot around here.  Although Linda Richards emailed some details, I was too aloof and skipped doing much homework, thinking mom had everything under control.  As it turns out, she's as oblivious as I am, so between the two of us, we're sort of bumbling through the day.  Fortunately, we're surrounded by less clueless.

Fascinating stuff though.  The Special Collections section of the library has put together a rather unique exhibit on matters nuclear, as in atomic.  The Linus Pauling heritage features prominently.

I've posted about that Special Collection before, Doug Strain the key benefactor in many dimensions.  I took a ton of pictures.  I bet I'll not be handling those Nobel Prizes again.

Then we adjourned to Gilmore Annex, where I'm writing off-line.  The group is talking about how to further the Countdown to Zero campaign but in this namespace they call it Reaching Critical Will, or at least WILPF does.

FOR is represented and is speaking now.  The Scottish Nationalist Party campaign against the Tridents seems what these USers are alluding to.

Speaking of USers, I was in a McMenamins earlier, talking to Farmers Insurance, and two folks came in with their passports to get them stamped.  Those sure do look like real passports!  McMenamins has this language game going where getting McMenamins passport stamps pays off in terms of free beers etc.   Rogue Nation is another brewery that's taken on "nation state" memes, including a faux news network.

What's next?

We're to move to an auditorium and hear some music maybe?  As for tonight, something about AirBnB -- but again, I was in denial about needing to study up on what I was getting into.  I'm still not entirely sure.  We're having an interesting day though.

I'm not very talkative, ducking out for coffee, and to take more pictures.  I guess I'm feeling pretty up on this content, whereas the OSU campus is more of a known unknown (to me), so why not explore?

My mom forgot her hearing device but she seems to be catching most of it.  She is highly talkative today, given WILPF is somehow officially connected to this event (Ava's legacy).  Tomorrow she'll go back to Special Collections to study the exhibit some more, while I find a place to do WiFi.

Quakers have Annual Session here sometimes so the place is not completely unfamiliar, but it's been quite awhile since my last visit.

For those unfamiliar with Oregon geometry (geography), we have a river, named the Willamette, that comes south from the Columbia River all this way.  We drove south along I-205 merging with I-5, turning west on 34 south of Salem and Albany.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Wanderers 2015.10.20

Cute Bat
:: fruit bat ::

If you know the ethnography of our region, you'll know that Halloween, the upcoming major holiday, is associated with a Gothic sensibility regarding the underworld, featuring what we call "creepy" imagery centered around cemeteries, skeletons and... bats.

This linkage, of a flying mammal (the only one -- those squirrels don't really count), to a folk meme-plex (not forgetting Dracula and vampires more generally), is rather unfortunate, as humans act out based on such nonsense.  Their brains are wired to allow such melodrama.

So, for example, entire caverns of important colonies, responsible for keeping insect populations in check, helping farmers, who feed the people, have been torched by irresponsible "idiots" as Dick calls them.

Bats were killed by the thousands in some zip code areas, by ridiculously ignorant hominids with uncultured neuro-systems, run amok.  We see that a lot in humans, less so in other species.  So many freaks of nature commit vandalism and wreak havoc in our midst!

Anyway, I'm getting ahead of myself here .  Thank you Bat Conservation International, for helping us to understand.

Dick Pugh was our speaker tonight, despite his bad cough, and he has a lot of personal experience with these animals.

It's not like he hasn't disturbed bat habitats in the name of science.  In the early days he trapped live specimens for the university at twenty five cents a pop.

However good science seeks to learn how and when enough is enough and is today highly sensitize to the high value of bat colonies.  Sure, some are bloodsuckers, but actually not that many.  The vast majority are pollinators, sometimes the only pollinators of a species, and spreaders of fruit seeds, in addition to keeping insects under control.

To attack one's bat population deliberately is usually not a good sign i.e. chances are the humans in questions have been overwhelmed with delusions.

During the Eisenhower administration, the attack was less deliberate than unknowing.  The importance of bat colonies was one of those unknown unknowns.  The front burner concern was personal safety and the fact of gaping holes in the earth known as abandoned mines.  These were dangerous places that invited reckless and/or adventurous individuals to injure themselves, so the policy was to dynamite their entrances thereby rendering them inaccessible.

The problem with this policy was important bat colonies were already taking up residence and the ecosystems were in a new equilibrium.  Disturbing the status quo this drastically brought unexpected ill health to the economy.

Again, farmers are forbidden by law from applying DDT, at one time considered the miracle pesticide, and have wised up in general about the health effects, in the ecosystem beyond just supermarkets, of these toxins.

Establishing bat colonies in and around the same fields on purpose is a way to keep some species of pest more or less under control.  The benefits are tangible.  Letting nature work for you, instead of working against nature, turns out to be sound business strategy.

Back to bats.  Some have enormous ears.  "Echo-location" we call it, but then photons bounce too and we sometimes emit them with flashlights.  "Ear-sight" might be another name for it.  They can pick bugs out of the sky and lick the surface of a lake with their elongated tongues.

Humans have had some close symbiotic / friendly relationships with bats.  The founder of the BCI had one hanging off his arm during presentations, an old friend.  We heard other stories of this nature.

Dick has worked a lot on restoring and / or boosting bat habitats, including through a Cleveland High School program aimed and building bat houses for Oaks Bottom.

The new approach regarding abandoned mines and some other caverns, is to make them bat friendly, in terms of egress and entrance, but inaccessible to unauthorized humans.

Of course truly malicious humans will find other ways to mess with the bats, but most of us are willing to co-exist with our ecosystem partners and appreciate their hard (if unpaid) work.

Keeping it Bat Friendly
:: keeping it bat friendly ::