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    Hello there, fellow Orthodox-ians!

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    Re: Hello there, fellow Orthodox-ians!

    Postby SandRider » 28 Jan 2011 17:34

    well, that wasn't a bad mid-week drunken post, but it was a little flat - too coherent, for one thing;
    you had several opportunities to veer off for awhile into some totally-unrelated subject and then try to
    bring it back and connect the points in a way that only made sense to you ... but that's close to an art form,
    in my opinion, something to be striven for but never quite achieved ...

    Frank began writing Dune at the beginning of the "manned spaceflight" era (more precisely, of course,
    the "manned high-orbital tossup-falldown monkey-in-a-can" era) and by the time of the publication of Children, there was
    ample reason to believe human society was on its way off-planet ... I've posted my drug-fueled insane rantings
    about this several times around here - as much as I loathe the military, it's clear now that Colonel Yeager
    and the Space Command @Edwards should have been tasked with establishing a moonbase by 1971 and damn
    what the Russians thought ... and I've told this story before, too, about another of the nails in the relationship
    coffin with my sons was that fucking "You Too Will Live in Space" book from about 73 or 74 that all three of them
    devoured when each of them started reading on their own ... that little purple book was more scotch tape than
    paper by the time the youngest one finally let it go ... they were the space-pioneer-kids generation, we built
    models of X-planes and shot Estes rockets off as quick as they could build them, the Johnson Space Center in
    Houston was always their #1 choice for vacation, in 78 when they toured the enterprise around on the back of
    the 747, I loaded them up and we saw it on the tarmac in Tulsa, at Johnson, at Huntsville, Alabama & Kennedy...
    they read Freeman Dyson's papers on the L5/L7 colonies ... (the Worm Turned when the middle child looked at
    me after the first launch and said "Hey, they're letting the external fuel tank burn up!", and I was already
    aware of the debate/bitch-slap fight @NASA between them & Dyson over the issue, but I did what I do best in
    dealing with my sons - I just lied) ....

    then the oldest started smoking dope and drinking beer and by his senior year in high school realized that space
    flight and such wasn't going to apply to 99.9% of the human population, and he'd already fucked his chances of
    the Air Force Academy and Test Pilot avenue and wasn't anywhere near smart enough to go the Scientist route,
    and did the logical thing, for my family, anyway, and blamed me for everything ... the youngest, God Bless'em,
    decided that the whole space thing was about military/government control and making rich men richer and, and
    he had one of the identical moments I had (and have been recently discussing) when he told me his conclusions
    and I agreed with him ... and he got pissed ... so you knew it was all about ABM Laser Satellites and
    the cocksuckers @Lockheed making profit, and you still helped me build that orbital colony model for
    Boy Scouts? Wow, you're an asshole ...
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    Re: Hello there, fellow Orthodox-ians!

    Postby Freakzilla » 31 Jan 2011 11:08

    You're way too hard on yourself about that, man.
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    Re: Hello there, fellow Orthodox-ians!

    Postby inhuien » 31 Jan 2011 13:01

    Freakzilla wrote:You're way too hard on yourself about that, man.

    Yeah, let it go. What's done is done. I'm certain my old man purposely fucked me up and never gave it a seconds thought.
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    Re: Hello there, fellow Orthodox-ians!

    Postby Shaitan » 09 Feb 2011 19:06

    Freakzilla wrote:
    grandmastercrafter wrote:
    Freakzilla wrote:
    inhuien wrote:So that's 11,000 of interstellar exploration, do we have a date for or historical reference of when that started?


    No, I guess it's a matter of when the beginning of mankind's movement through deep space is. We haven't begun to move through "deep space" yet but the first man in space was 1961. While FH was writing Dune.

    I assume that we can assume that FH had intended that our present day is roughly the 'start'... plus or minus a century or two... :think:


    I beleive Voyager is either in or about to pass into interstellar space. Do probes count?


    One of them has been beyond the Heliopause for several years now, IIRC, and the other just reached it in the past few months if memory serves.
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    Re: Hello there, fellow Orthodox-ians!

    Postby Shaitan » 09 Feb 2011 19:18

    Freakzilla wrote:Have we changed so much in 200,000 years? I don't think we'll be that different in 500,000.


    A salient point, but one which ignores the fact that we're already beginning to utilize the ability to modify our own genome. I spent a lot of time on this during my ruminations on details of what happens to Earth and humanity over the course of the series (End of the Multiverse) that I'm always babbling on about.

    Although I posit that a movement to preserve "natural humanity" and its natural course of evolution causes there to be some unaltered humans (though quite substantially evolved beyond our current state) on Earth for millions of years to come, most sentient life on earth in my series ends up unrecognizable long before 500,000 years pass.

    Also, even if evolution continued absent genetic engineering, the many factors affecting natural selection have changed drastically just in the past 100 years or so. One can only imagine that evolution will take a dramatically different course in the future because those factors will change much more rapidly than they ever did during the preceding millions of years.
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    Re: Hello there, fellow Orthodox-ians!

    Postby A Thing of Eternity » 10 Feb 2011 18:34

    One thing my girlfrien pointed out the other day is that whenever we talk about natural selection being "over" to a large extent in humans we're being very western-centric. The rest of the world still has people fighting for survival in extremely difficult circumstances, so natural selection is well at work there.

    For us in the west though it's true that we've removed most of natural selection (other than extreme defects, and even those survive much better than ever before, and in many cases go on to reproduce).

    If we survive a couple hundred years more as a species though it seems fairly likely that genetic engineering will get away from us at some point (unless we become radical religious types) and we'll diverge from human-basic pretty quickly.
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    Re: Hello there, fellow Orthodox-ians!

    Postby inhuien » 11 Feb 2011 06:06

    A Thing of Eternity wrote:If we survive a couple hundred years more as a species though it seems fairly likely that genetic engineering will get away from us at some point (unless we become radical religious types) and we'll diverge from human-basic pretty quickly.
    You think? In the timescale you're talking about gengineering will always be the reserve of the elite. Unless of course The Duke of Edinburgh gets his wish and is reincarnated as a a super virus killing 2/3 of the worlds population, consolidating the wealth and power of the monied elite and skull fucking us all.

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    Re: Hello there, fellow Orthodox-ians!

    Postby A Thing of Eternity » 11 Feb 2011 16:25

    inhuien wrote:
    A Thing of Eternity wrote:If we survive a couple hundred years more as a species though it seems fairly likely that genetic engineering will get away from us at some point (unless we become radical religious types) and we'll diverge from human-basic pretty quickly.
    You think? In the timescale you're talking about gengineering will always be the reserve of the elite. Unless of course The Duke of Edinburgh gets his wish and is reincarnated as a a super virus killing 2/3 of the worlds population, consolidating the wealth and power of the monied elite and skull fucking us all.


    Oh I agree, we'll probably end up with a super-human rich and reg-human poor in the beginning. Within a couple hundred years though the technology could become very cheap and be available to the masses.
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    Re: Hello there, fellow Orthodox-ians!

    Postby SandRider » 12 Feb 2011 13:43

    at what point is selective breeding considered "evolution" ?
    I'm thinking two things here, one with dogs - how much of a physical variation denotes a new "species" or whatever the designation is ?

    y'all know what I mean - the range of size and appearance of modern dogs thru selective breeding is astounding ...

    also then, not so much selective breeding maybe, and correct me if I'm wrong here, but I've been given to understand that
    nutrition and medical advancements would account for the average Northern European Male's height increase over the last
    150 years .... from uniform & clothing examples, and documentation, it seems the average height of a white man in 1862
    in America was 5'7" ... I think now it's like 5'10", eh?

    and full suits of plate armor from the 16th century average 5'5", if that fact I just pulled out of head is accurate ...

    seems like Henry VIII's armour, the one they had to hoist him onto his horse with a rope&pulley in, was 5'6", and he was a big man ...
    ................ I exist only to amuse myself ................
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    Re: Hello there, fellow Orthodox-ians!

    Postby TheDukester » 12 Feb 2011 13:51

    Same vein: hasn't there been a fair amount of findings recently showing that the "gigantic" Vikings of lore were pretty much 5-foot-8 or under?

    Which would make the terrified Saxons and others they were often invading even shorter. Interesting stuff ... :think:
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    Re: Hello there, fellow Orthodox-ians!

    Postby Hunchback Jack » 12 Feb 2011 14:19

    Yeah, good questions.

    Evolution just means change in the breeding gene pool, so selective breeding is evolution in that sense. Animals we've bred would continue to reproduce in the forms they're in now, at least in the short term. However, what people typically mean by evolution is the whole natural selection mechanism, and that gets tricky.

    Superficially, selective breeding is not natural selection, as *we* are selecting the traits that survive; it's not being done purposelessly (no disrespect to the Little Baby Jesus) by the environment. We are directing the selection, so it ain't natural. However, if you think about it, we are not outside the domain of the "natural", so you can argue that even selective breeding is natural selection, as we are just part of the dogs'/sheep's/goats'/whatever's environment. Those individuals that develop the traits that fit the environment (ie. our purpose) survive to have offspring, those that don't, don't.

    I tend to like the second idea, as it doesn't separate our actions what we define as "natural processes", and that's good. Some people don't like the idea of selective breeding being "natural", because if you extrapolate that to genetic engineering, you can justify human genetic experimentation, etc, they say. But that gets into a whole nuther area.

    (Dogs are all the same species, btw, negecting the, ah, physical logistics in having a Great Dane mate with a pekinese. Individuals are in the same species if they can breed, and their offspring is viable)

    The height question is also interesting. It's mostly due to medicine or nutrition, and that's definitely *not* evolution. It's purely environmental. What we eat, or the medicine we take, does not result in genetic changes we pass on to our kids. If you raised a kid born today in 18th century conditions, they'd live as long and be as tall as people were then (modulo any genetic variation they inherited from their parents). I'm neglecting how better the health of the baby might be when born today, due to the improved health of the parents, but you get the idea.

    There may be an additional evolutionary factor, though, in that if nutrition/medicine results in *some* genetically-disposed people become taller, that potential mates choose those people over shorter ones. That is, there's an initial genetic variance that results in a greater physical expression due to the environment, and thus results in a genetic selection of tall people. That's just speculation, though. Its pretty hard to actually measure that kind of thing.

    Besides which, plenty of short people get laid. ;)

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    Re: Hello there, fellow Orthodox-ians!

    Postby Hunchback Jack » 12 Feb 2011 15:45

    A Thing of Eternity wrote:One thing my girlfrien pointed out the other day is that whenever we talk about natural selection being "over" to a large extent in humans we're being very western-centric. The rest of the world still has people fighting for survival in extremely difficult circumstances, so natural selection is well at work there.


    Sorry for the double-post, but I wanted to respond to this while I think of it.

    Natural selection is not "over" for us. It's happening all the time. It may just be selecting all of us :).

    We may have changed our environment to suit us so well that we are not, on the whole, changing as a species. It's probably too early to tell if that's true - our population is so huge that any genetic advantage would take many generations to affect the whole species - but even is it is, it's nothing new. Many species exist for long periods of time without much genetic change if they are well suited to their environment. Selection is still going on, but the same genetic traits are selected in each generation.

    Even the fact that we've changed our environment to suit ourselves is nothing new, fundamentally; ants do that, too, when they build a nest.

    HBJ
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    Re: Hello there, fellow Orthodox-ians!

    Postby SandChigger » 12 Feb 2011 21:08

    Hunchback Jack wrote:Besides which, plenty of short people get laid. ;)

    :banana-dance: Oh yeah, baybeeeee! :banana-rock:
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    Re: Hello there, fellow Orthodox-ians!

    Postby A Thing of Eternity » 13 Feb 2011 17:31

    Hunchback Jack wrote:
    A Thing of Eternity wrote:One thing my girlfrien pointed out the other day is that whenever we talk about natural selection being "over" to a large extent in humans we're being very western-centric. The rest of the world still has people fighting for survival in extremely difficult circumstances, so natural selection is well at work there.


    Sorry for the double-post, but I wanted to respond to this while I think of it.

    Natural selection is not "over" for us. It's happening all the time. It may just be selecting all of us :).

    We may have changed our environment to suit us so well that we are not, on the whole, changing as a species. It's probably too early to tell if that's true - our population is so huge that any genetic advantage would take many generations to affect the whole species - but even is it is, it's nothing new. Many species exist for long periods of time without much genetic change if they are well suited to their environment. Selection is still going on, but the same genetic traits are selected in each generation.

    Even the fact that we've changed our environment to suit ourselves is nothing new, fundamentally; ants do that, too, when they build a nest.

    HBJ



    I agree totally, but we have removed (in the "west") a huge amount of nature's ability to select against or for traits. Whether a human being is any good at being a human being has very very little to do with whether they reproduce now, because very few things kill us off. For one of us to be removed from the breeding pool we pretty much have to have a disease that kills us before adolescence. This is the key factor in evolution, traits that make something weaker resulting in it's death, or in the opposite sex refusing to mate with it. Without that, evolution keeps going of course, nothing is stopping mutation and new combinations, but the "towards greater fitness" aspect of it is greatly diminished. Eventually we are going to HAVE to resort to genetic engineering or be faced with an insanely sickly population.

    In the rest of the world it continues as normal.

    To SR, I think the definition of new "species" is loose, but the main thing is the ability to have viable offspring with eachother. Dogs are all one species, as they can all crossbreed and their offspring are not infertile. Horses and Donkeys on the other hand are clse enough to cross, but their offspring can never reproduce with anything, even another cross of the same type.
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    Re: Hello there, fellow Orthodox-ians!

    Postby Shaitan » 15 Feb 2011 17:16

    Interesting.

    In my series as it is currently envisioned (very much subject to change, though I doubt these elements are likely to be drastically altered), the multiple world-altering events which occur in the years before and immediately following the series pilot (roughly 2125) have reset or changed many of the "realities of the world" in terms of a recognizable rarity-based economy or progressive technological change which is in the series largely replaced by a rapid series of "singularity" type super-high-tech introduction events accompanied by major revelations about the order of the larger universe (and indeed multiverse).

    I certainly don't posit that these eliminate elitism, fascism, politics, or the darker tendencies of human nature. But they do tend to change the pathways these shadows crystallize along.....and in particular, the ability for every human being on Earth to choose to accept pico/nanotechnology from a near-end-stage civilization into their bodies which can allow them instant and dynamically controlled enhancement of almost every aspect of their being from the purely mechanical and chemical to the genetic, neuroelectric, neurochemical and even quantum/energetic levels.

    If everyone on the planet were given this ability (and the option to decline it or only utilize it partially) on the same night, as I have envisioned, I think that might at least somewhat obviate the issue of only some people having access to the best health care, technology, nutrition, resources, information, education, etc....imagine if an essentially bandwidth-unlimited, direct peer-to-peer, untraceable, unblockable, un-tap-able telepathic Internet suddenly appeared in almost everyone's mind simultaneously along with essentially infinite quantum computing resources. That might level a lot of playing fields.

    It's one of several mechanisms in the plot that I thought out very carefully, because although I have a very particular tone that I want to strike with EOTM, I want there to be a lot of freedom for third party contributors to do their thing without me constantly looking over their shoulders. For that to work, I have to build a really strong framework for them to work within, so that we can avoid crapfests like a lot of Star Trek and certain other series that have gone on waaaay too long for their own good (cough McDune cough).
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    Re: Hello there, fellow Orthodox-ians!

    Postby Hunchback Jack » 18 Feb 2011 01:36

    A Thing of Eternity wrote:I agree totally, but we have removed (in the "west") a huge amount of nature's ability to select against or for traits. Whether a human being is any good at being a human being has very very little to do with whether they reproduce now, because very few things kill us off. For one of us to be removed from the breeding pool we pretty much have to have a disease that kills us before adolescence. This is the key factor in evolution, traits that make something weaker resulting in it's death, or in the opposite sex refusing to mate with it. Without that, evolution keeps going of course, nothing is stopping mutation and new combinations, but the "towards greater fitness" aspect of it is greatly diminished. Eventually we are going to HAVE to resort to genetic engineering or be faced with an insanely sickly population.


    I agree that we've pretty much protected ourselves from predation or "culling" by external factors. But I don't think that's the same as saying "Whether a human being is any good at being a human being has very very little to do with whether they reproduce now", or "nothing is stopping mutation and new combinations, but the "towards greater fitness" aspect of it is greatly diminished".

    Fitness does not mean strength or speed or any specific attribute when used in the context of evolution. Fitness only means "how well you survive in your environment". The fact that we've eliminated things that kill us from our environment does not mean we're any "less good at being human beings". Being strong, fast and fit was useful when we were hunter/gatherers being preyed on my carnivores, but there's no need for it in our current environment, so being weak fat and lazy is no disadvantage. In fact, if becoming strong, fast and fit requires additional effort, but gains you no survival advantage in your environment, then you're better off if you aren't.

    Of course, there's the whole aspect of sexual selection that I haven't touched on, in which appearing strong, fast and fit may convey a reproductive advantage because the opposite sex are attracted to that (for survival reasons that probably no longer apply).

    (Incidentally, I'm weak, fat and lazy, but I don't think this argument justifies my sloth. Nor do I expect attractive women to start preferring me to fitter men any time soon) :)

    Edited to add: I agree with what you said about the "sickly" aspect, though, and yes, I agree that our bodies may have its own ideas about what being "a good human being" entails. But that's not the effect of no natural selection, but a disparity between our bodies and our environment.

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    Re: Hello there, fellow Orthodox-ians!

    Postby SadisticCynic » 18 Feb 2011 05:23

    I'm guessing this is a fallacy since somebody must have thought of it before a 17-year-old studying biology did, but one thing that I never quite grasped
    was how a new species can arise within a breeding population. That is, if a particular member of a species is born with a new genetic arrangement that
    disallows it to produce viable offspring with another member of the breeding population then it is by definition a new species. However, unless another
    member of the population develops the same mutation (or whatever) and is of the opposite sex AND just happens to breed with this one, the new species
    will not even be transmitted one generation. According to this conception, the trouble won't neccesarily end after one generation as the argument can
    be extended to more generations.

    The other way, the name of which escapes me here, is that a geographically separated population may develop small changes over time that eventually
    prevent interbreeding. This solution involves splitting of the breeding population, but surely that can't be expected to occur at every divergence along
    the path of evolution.

    I'm assuming several things here including:

    1) That a change necessary to prevent breeding with the population can occur in one generation.
    2) That the changes necessary can even occur while leaving the new species member able to reproduce.
    3) That the mechanism of evolution, as usually presented, even works. :wink:

    There are probably many more. I don't think that the first assumption affects the argument too much though. Assumption 2) merely expresses the fact that,
    as far as I know, while we have applied heavy selection pressures on things like dogs, horses and even E. Coli, we have in fact not changed the
    species.
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    Re: Hello there, fellow Orthodox-ians!

    Postby Hunchback Jack » 18 Feb 2011 06:12

    SadisticCynic wrote:I'm guessing this is a fallacy since somebody must have thought of it before a 17-year-old studying biology did, but one thing that I never quite grasped
    was how a new species can arise within a breeding population. That is, if a particular member of a species is born with a new genetic arrangement that
    disallows it to produce viable offspring with another member of the breeding population then it is by definition a new species. However, unless another
    member of the population develops the same mutation (or whatever) and is of the opposite sex AND just happens to breed with this one, the new species
    will not even be transmitted one generation. According to this conception, the trouble won't neccesarily end after one generation as the argument can
    be extended to more generations.


    While not impossible - and not, in fact, unknown - this is *extremely* unlikely. Mutations are truly random; it is incredibly unlikely that the same mutation will occur in more than one individual of a breeding population in a short enough timeframe for them to breed.

    If a single individual carried a mutation that rendered it unable to breed with its community, that mutation would almost certainly die with the individual. That's not how speciation occurs.

    The other way, the name of which escapes me here, is that a geographically separated population may develop small changes over time that eventually
    prevent interbreeding. This solution involves splitting of the breeding population, but surely that can't be expected to occur at every divergence along
    the path of evolution.


    Yes, this seems to be the most likely cause for speciation. Note that geographical separation can take many forms: rivers changing course to form separate ponds, migration over mountains or valleys, the presence of predators, storms blowing birds off course, changes in warm or cold currents in the oceans, animals floating on logs to islands, etc. Even simple migration can spread a single species far enough that the "edges" don't interbreed, causing speciation over time.

    There's another way that species change that you're probably already aware of, and that is the change of an entire breeding population from one species to another over time. That doesn't create *more* species (without geographic separation, anyway), but it does result in a new species replacing an old one. The entire breeding population is always the same species at any given time, but individuals of the population today couldn't breed with the individuals from 10,000 (say) years ago.

    I'm assuming several things here including:

    1) That a change necessary to prevent breeding with the population can occur in one generation.
    2) That the changes necessary can even occur while leaving the new species member able to reproduce.
    3) That the mechanism of evolution, as usually presented, even works. :wink:


    Again, 1) is unlikely to occur (or, at least, is unlikely to result in species change).

    There are probably many more. I don't think that the first assumption affects the argument too much though. Assumption 2) merely expresses the fact that,
    as far as I know, while we have applied heavy selection pressures on things like dogs, horses and even E. Coli, we have in fact not changed the
    species.


    FWIW, we have caused new species of bacteria to evolve in experiments. Not even through selective breeding, either, but through gradual changes of their environment. Natural selection did the rest.

    A good book to read on evolution is Coyne's "Why Evolution is True".

    HBJ
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    Re: Hello there, fellow Orthodox-ians!

    Postby SadisticCynic » 18 Feb 2011 14:57

    There's another way that species change that you're probably already aware of, and that is the change of an entire breeding population from one species to another over time. That doesn't create *more* species (without geographic separation, anyway), but it does result in a new species replacing an old one. The entire breeding population is always the same species at any given time, but individuals of the population today couldn't breed with the individuals from 10,000 (say) years ago.



    :doh: I guess that should have been the most obvious one. I hate it when that happens.

    I might have a look at his book sometime; I did notice you were reading it awhile back in the reading thread.
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    Re: Hello there, fellow Orthodox-ians!

    Postby Hunchback Jack » 18 Feb 2011 17:33

    Yes, I highly recommend it if you have time, and an interest in the subject. Its an introductory book, but it's still fairly detailed and comprehensive. Probably the best "first book" you could pick up.

    Edit: I meant to add that that even if geographic isolation happens relatively infrequently, life has had a *very* long time to evolve. We rattle off numbers in the millions of years without really thinking about how long that really is. A million years - heck, 100,000 years - is a *really* long time.

    We also tend to think in terms of our own species (in which generations are at least 15-20 years apart), whereas most other species - even other mammals - have generational cycles that are *way* shorter. So when you do the math, you realize that even quite conservative mutational and selection rates can result in significant change over relatively (geologically) short periods of time.

    HBJ
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    Re: Hello there, fellow Orthodox-ians!

    Postby A Thing of Eternity » 21 Feb 2011 19:29

    I agree with all counter arguments and posts since my last one. :)
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    Re: Hello there, fellow Orthodox-ians!

    Postby Hunchback Jack » 26 Feb 2011 19:20

    Sorry if I got a bit strident or argumentative there, Thing. Meant nothing but respect to you, sir.

    As you can see I enjoy waxing loquacious on the subject - far more than people enjoy reading it, no doubt :).

    BTW, for those interested, I found a web page just the other day that talks about how gametes are produced. I found this fascinating, as (if I read this right) this is the key mechanism by which we get gene variation between generations in a species:

    http://www.in-gender.com/XYU/Conception ... tion2.aspx

    HBJ
    "The sky calls to us. If we do not destroy ourselves, we will one day venture to the stars."
    - Carl Sagan

    I'm still very proud of The Quarry but … let's face it; in the end the real best way to sign off would have been with a great big rollicking Culture novel.
    - Iain Banks
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    Re: Hello there, fellow Orthodox-ians!

    Postby SadisticCynic » 26 Feb 2011 19:38

    (Not argumentative, merely informative. :) )

    That's a nice summary actually; I'd forgotten some of those things about meiosis. Also the section headings entertain me:

    Ejaculation - Welcome to the Vagina


    Sounds like you're walking into an office building or something. :)
    Ah English, the language where pretty much any word can have any meaning! - A Thing of Eternity
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    Re: Hello there, fellow Orthodox-ians!

    Postby A Thing of Eternity » 28 Feb 2011 15:18

    Oh no, I had no issue at all with your comments!
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    Re: Hello there, fellow Orthodox-ians!

    Postby Shaitan » 12 Mar 2011 18:12

    Freakzilla wrote:You're way too hard on yourself about that, man.


    Speaking as a parent and someone who has trouble sometimes taking it easy on himself....I can see where he's coming from. Still, your point stands. Sounds like it's the fault of the BS world we live in infinitely more than anything he should feel personally bad about.
    "When the going gets weird, the Weird turn Pro." -Hunter S. Thompson
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