Sequacious [Adj.]


Lacking independence or originality of thought.

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How the Churches Have Retarded Progress


‘You may think that I am going too far when I say that that[1] is still so. I do not think that I am. Take one fact. You will bear with me if I mention it. It is not a pleasant fact, but the churches compel one to mention facts that are not pleasant. Supposing that in this world that we live in today an inexperienced girl is married to a syphilitic man; in that case the Catholic Church says, “This is an indissoluble sacrament. You must endure celibacy or stay together. And if you stay together, you must not use birth control to prevent the birth of syphilitic children.” Nobody whose natural sympathies have not been warped by dogma, or whose moral nature was not absolutely dead to all sense of suffering, could maintain that it is right and proper that that state of things should continue.

That is only an example. There are a great many ways in which, at the present moment, the church, by its insistence upon what it chooses to call morality, inflicts upon all sorts of people undeserved and unnecessary suffering. And of course, as we know, it is in its major part an opponent still of progress and improvement in all the ways that diminish suffering in the world, because it has chosen to label as morality a certain narrow set of rules of conduct which have nothing to do with human happiness; and when you say that this or that ought to be done because it would make for human happiness, they think that has nothing to do with the matter at all. “What has human happiness to do with morals? The object of morals is not to make people happy.”‘

– Denonn. L.E., Egner. R.E. Ed. 1961. The Basic Writings of Bertrand Russell London, United Kingdom: George Allen & Unwin (1962) p. 596


[1] ‘I say quite deliberately that the Christian religion, as organized in its churches, has been and still is the principal enemy of moral progress in the world.’ p. 595

Bertrand Russell delivered the lecture Why I am not a Christian (of which this is an excerpt) on March 6, 1927 to the National Secular Society, South London Branch, at Battersea Town Hall.

Shooting In The Air


A typical 7.62mm round fired vertically normally climbs about 2,400 metres in 17 seconds, and then take another 40 seconds or so to return to the ground. It falls at a speed of about 70 metres per second (falling base first, because it’s more stable that way round).

The bullet velocity required for skin penetration is between 45 and 60 metres per second, but a blow to the head doesn’t need to penetrate the skin in order to be fatal, and this is the key: the reason fatalities are disproportionate is that any injuries which do occur are likely to be cranial. So while it’s less likely that you’ll be hit than if somebody is aiming at you, if you are hit it’s more likely to be fatal – about five times as likely as in normal firing.

“A lot of the people who keep a gun at home for safety are the same ones who refuse to wear a seat belt.” – George Carlin

Even if it’s launched vertically the bullet is likely to move sideways quite significantly – when it slows down towards its highest point it is particularly susceptible to sideways movement by the smallest gust of wind.

Experiments in Florida just after the First World War involved a machine gun set up on a ten-foot-square platform positioned over water so that the returning bullets could be seen to splash down. The gun was adjusted to centre the returning bullets onto the stage, but, of more than 500 bullets fired into the air, only four hit the stage at the end of their return journey. Unfortunately, the size of the stage is at present not known.

“You don’t need no gun control, you know what you need? We need some bullet control. Men, we need to control the bullets, that’s right. I think all bullets should cost five thousand dollars! Five thousand dollars per bullet! You know why? Because if a bullet cost five thousand dollars there would be no more innocent bystanders.” – Chris Rock

On Toughness


“To be gentle, tolerant, wise and reasonable requires a goodly portion of toughness.”

– Peter Ustinov

Stupidity and the Helmet Law


‘There are many things we can point to as proof that the human being is not smart. The helmet is my personal favourite. The fact that we had to invent the helmet: why did we invent the helmet? Well, because we were participating in many activities that were cracking our heads. We looked at the situation. We chose not to avoid these activities but to just make little plastic hats so that we can continue our head cracking lifestyles.

The only thing dumber than the helmet, is the helmet law, the point of which is to protect a brain that is functioning so poorly it’s not even trying to stop the cracking of the head that it’s in.’

Seinfeld, J. (1998). I’m Telling You For The Last Time. Broadhurst Theatre, New York: Universal Records.

Sugar Rush


Power to the brain

After the human line split from the chimp line, two genes mutated. SLC2A1 and SLC2A4 both build proteins that transport glucose in and out of cells. The tweaks may have taken glucose away from muscles and into the early hominins’ brains. The glucose would then have boosted the brains, allowing them to grow bigger.

See other: What Makes Humans Human?

Tiny Sperm


Mice have sperm that is twice as long as elephants’. The world’s longest sperm belongs to a fruit fly. And across the animal kingdom, sperm take on extremely odd and varied shapes and sizes. The tadpole shape we most associate with sperm is not at all common outside of mammals. Rat and mice sperm can have hook-like attachments on their heads.

Some species seem to allow sperm to connect by their heads and form so-called sperm trains, these groups of sperm seem to swim faster than individual sperm.

From an evolutionary perspective this raises an intriguing question: Why are sperm so varied among different species when they all have the exact same purpose — fertilizing eggs? It turns out, the larger the species, the smaller the sperm.

Why would evolution favour such a pattern? When in comes to sperm, size matters. Longer sperm has some advantages — they are better at elbowing aside the competition. But it also takes a lot of energy to make long sperm, which larger animals can’t afford. So it’s a trade-off:

If there were no constraints on sperm production and assuming that longer sperm are advantageous, each male would probably produce lots of impressively big sperm. But in nature there are always constraints because resources and energy are not unlimited. For a testis of a given size, producing bigger sperm thus means it cannot produce as many of them (producing big sperm takes more resources, energy and time).

So, whether investing more in sperm size or in sperm number to maximize sperm competitiveness really depends on the circumstances, for example the size of the female reproductive tract. In large species, the female reproductive tract is massive compared to the tiny sperm, so sperm can easily be lost or diluted in it. Males have to compensate by transferring more sperm. Simply making longer sperm really would not make a difference in an elephant. They would have to be incredibly large. So males are better off making lots of tiny sperm.

This inverse correlation between animal size and sperm size might be a consistent pattern across the animal kingdom. Almost all animals with sperm longer than a 10th of a millimetre, he explains, weigh less than one or two pounds.

The mammal with the longest sperm? It’s not the human. That distinction belongs to the honey possum, a very small (they grow to 3.5 inches long ) marsupial that lives in western Australia. They are adorable. Their sperm is 350 micrometers (.014 inches) long.