Showing posts from December, 2015

On the Mudflats

Written in June, 2004. I am sitting on a log on the beach. It is a beautiful, sunny day in June. The sand is warm on my feet. I often come here in the afternoon, to gaze at the view and think. To the north, across the bay, you can see over the flat expanse of Delta to the skyscrapers of Vancouver. Beyond them, the mountains rise out of the haze. They are blue at this distance, with a few patches of snow still clinging to their peaks. It is low tide. The beach is sandy, then pebbly, and then the mudflats begin. At low tide, they stretch into the bay for a mile or so. A heron is standing in a tidal pool not far away, looking at me with one eye. Let’s go out on the mudflats. The pebbles are painful to bare feet. But then the cool mud is soothing. This is an estuary into which several creeks deposit their loads of silt. To the north, the Fraser River sends a big curling plume of muddy water into the ocean. Some of that plume curls back and settles down here. In a thousa


Two days ago, Donald Trump called for a temporary shutdown of Muslims entering the US. Predictably, this caused a storm of protest from leftists, liberals and mainstream conservatives. Will it hurt Trump’s popularity with his base? Probably not. Will he win the Republican nomination? Probably. Will be become president? Maybe. I don’t agree with any of Trump’s off-the-cufflink proposals. I don’t think building a wall between the US and Mexico is necessary or practical as a way to stop illegal immigration. I don’t think that stopping all Muslims from entering the US is a practical way to deal with the problem of Islam. I don’t think that “parts of the internet should be closed off” (whatever that means). However, my views are not that different on the first two issues. In my opinion, the US should prevent illegal immigration and deport all illegal immigrants. The US should also drastically reduce legal immigration, and be more selective about it. So, although I don’t agree with T

God is a Telomeme

At the end of each DNA strand in your chromosomes, there is a sequence of base pairs that repeats over and over: TTAGGG. That sequence doesn’t code for a protein, but it has an important function. It causes the strand to fold on itself, which prevents it from unraveling. That sequence is the telomere. The concept of God has a similar function. It is not useful as a description of reality. It might appear to be simply memetic garbage, but it has an important function. It holds together a system of memes and prevents it from unraveling. Religion is a way of propagating knowledge down the generations. It is a package that holds accumulated knowledge, especially values. The symbols and rituals of religion are merely packaging for values and traditions that have important functions. Religion is an anchor for the values of an individual and the organizing principles of a society. It provides a foundation for thought and communication: an endpoint of reasoning and debate. It holds