Recreating (and advancing) pk’s censored domains: Macroinformation.org &
Knatz.com / Teaching / Society & Its Pathologies / Social Survival / Evolution /
2008 06 10
Give me my robe, put on my crown; I have
Immortal longings in me: now no more
The juice of Egypt’s grape shall moist this lip.
Antony and Cleopatra
When I made beer my yeast would explode with new growth. Within a day you could hear the yeast population burgeoning: I mean literally, with your ears! The tub actually vibrated. Within a few days the yeast had gone through several generations. My beer wort had a thick sediment of dead yeast.
Children are still told that some insects only live a day. That isn’t true. The mayfly for example has already had a good long mayfly life in its nymph stage: mistaking is metamorphosis into its flight and mating stage is like mistaking the mated-out salmon dying in an upstream pool, its jaw all weird, with a normal salmon. Insects famous for “living only a day” typically live for several months: perhaps a year.
Some bacteria have very short lives; but bacteria have been living for billions of years. They may be “immortal”: so long as you ignore the individual bacterium.
In any case human society is full of people who think the mayfly lives a day and that God lives for ever.
God is also infinitely intelligent, infinitely wise, infinitely loving, infinitely old … (All these infinities are about as intelligent as the news that a may fly only lives a day.)
Never mind about God: I’m merely trying to establish a bald contrast between primitive human information about the longevity of this creature and that entity: human pronouncements on this and that is seldom borne out by scientific study. It is true though that, relatively, some individual organisms have short lives and some live much longer. The individual love bug lives for several months, the tortoise much longer, some trees, some plants, for thousands of years.
Thus we have real information about “life” spans: in the nano-second in physics, in the mere hours with some biota … to life spans of a thousand-plus years for this bush, that tree, and the other huge underground fungus.
Humans have a life expectancy that’s been changing. Without contemporary interference, a human seems to be built to last about forty-five years, functioning well for that span. In practice, life expectancy for a caveman may have been only about twenty, or twenty-four. But that was environment more than biology: the cave man who didn’t fall off a cliff or meet a big predator was likely to live around forty-five years. This or that individual might live to be fifty, or sixty, or seventy … but the mean, as said, would have been around forty-five.
Recently we’ve been living longer. I was just visiting with a ninety-five year old who still has her real teeth: and hair, and sight … can still walk and clean house. [2013 09 01 Ann lived till she was a few days shy of one hundred!] My best friend was ninety-six when she died: and she remained alert well into that ninety-sixth year when she got sick. [2013 09 01 I danced Wednesday evening with a ninety-year old who was showing lots of sass, and another grinning gal coming up on ninety fast.]
We all know all that. Here’s something you may not know: Many mammals live a certain rough number of heart beats! Some mammals have very high pulse rates: they live fast, intensely, but not long by our standards. Other mammals live on for years: but expire after the (roughly) same number of heart beats as the mouse, vole, or squirrel.
Now here’s the deal, here’s the basis for my point: human beings are the one mammal that lives way way longer than that normal number of heart beats. Your dog lives roughly the same number of heart beats as the mouse even though the dog is twelve and the mouse died at a much “younger” age. But not you and me.
OK: here’s my actual point. We naturally live way longer than other creatures of our sort: other mammals. We ought to be happy. We ought to be ecstatic.
No! We don’t compare ourselves to the mouse or to the dog; we compare ourselves to the God! We want our lives to be infinite. We want to be “immortal.”
I think it would serve us right if god took away our extra heart beats, and let us die at about the same age as our dog.
We didn’t appreciate what we had: why should a sentient deity permit us to keep what we’ve proved we don’t deserve?
I got the above heart-beat business from Isaac Asimov. It’s a long time now since I’ve seen the actual data Asimov offered as factual. So: I can’t readily account for some apparent exceptions. Elephants are mammals. They live on and on, no? So: take the above as relatively true, not absolutely true, no exceptions.
One of my Sex Stories, evaporated by Google years ago, not yet entirely resurrected (that’s apart from the K. resurrection I’m in the midst of) had comments on pussy as endless, as infinite. Apropos of the image above, I should find it, quote it.