Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Revolution is lean...

Over 60% of Americans are overweight and 20% obese. Our pets have the same problem. They are getting obscenely large in all the wrong places for the same reasons humans are hefty: overeating and lack of exercise. These animals are now part of the cultural community and family of the human with all its residual ill effects.

Thanks to Ashley Porter for suggesting this site.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Militarized Dolphins

These are my field notes from an excellent essay on the strange history of military dolphin experiments.

Dolphins militarized

They could be very useful as antipersonnel self-directing weapons. They could do nocturnal harbor work, capture spies let out of submarines or dropped from airplanes, attacking silently and efficiently and bringing back information from such contacts. They could deliver atomic nuclear warheads and attach them to submarines or surface vessels and to torpedoes and missiles.

Dolphins and Other aliens:

dolphin laboratory could provide a model system for breaking through to a nonhuman mind. In the era of Sputnik this meant actual extraterrestrials, which may sound crazy now, but these issues lay on the cutting edge of national concern in those days: if we met the little green men (or, more likely, started receiving radio signals from deep space that looked to carry nonstochastic levels of information), what would we do?

One of these visionary Dolphins was a brilliant young Harvard astrophysicist named Carl Sagan, who made his way down to St. Thomas several times in these years to meet Lillys dolphins and muse about alternate forms of life in the cosmos.

If dolphins prove as intelligent as the initial studies suggest, then for a long time presumably they will be in the position of the Negro races in Africa who are attempting to become Westernized

see we shall not be moved blog entry.

Gregory Bateson visits Lilly:

Bateson laid out a sweeping theory of cross-species language development: human beings, in his view, possessed a language disproportionately preoccupied with stuff. This was our joy and our pain, since the evolution of such thing-centered linguistic abilities had gone hand in hand with the extraordinary material culture of Homo sapiens, from moldboard plows to supersonic cruise missiles. Yet in Batesons view this same evolution had left us with a grotesquely impoverished intelligence in the domain of social relations: those intersubjective complexities, he averred, are very poorly represented in language and consciousness. Homo faber was, in this sense, stunted, and the consequences, for Bateson, were clear: war, social conflict, pervasive psychological maladjustment.

Permit a human-sized intelligence to develop over millions of years in a highly social animal, whichon account of its aquatic evolutionpossessed no hands, and thus no real capacity to manipulate a material culture, and it was reasonable to hypothesize that the cognition of such a creature would be radically, fundamentally, pervasively social. Theirs would be a language not of things but of beings. As Bateson put it to Lilly, If I am right, and they are mainly sophisticated about the intricacies of interpersonal relationships, then of course (after training analysis) they will be ideal psychotherapists for us.

/See in ecology of mind chapter: Problems in Cetacean and Other Mammalian Communication.