Not On Pomp and Circumstance But of the Rights of the People: The True Meaning of the 4th of July

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“When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

So, begins one of Western civilization’s most important documents, The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen United States of America for independence. Much has already been said about it in the last 242 years since it was written and I’m sure much more will be said today on this July 4th, 2018 especially on social media and Twitter in particular. You’ll hear how this is the work of a people seeking Freedom and Justice from an overbearing dictatorial monarchy, or of how this was the foundation upon which this Great Country was built on, or of how a bunch of privileged White Men got together and for their own purposes created such hypocrisy. You’ll hear all of this and maybe even a little about the history that led to that meeting on July in Philadelphia. Consider this my small contribution for I think it’s the next part of the document that I find relevant to our times and worth a look.

 “That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to affect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes”.

Here we have a group of people who came to the Americas seeking asylum from whatever affected them, war; famine; disease; religious and ethnic persecution and established a new home in a land controlled by a government distant not only geographically, but culturally and ideologically as well. King George III and Great Britain were involved in several conflicts mostly around the issue of trade and with France in opposition. At first, they couldn’t have cared less what a bunch of lower class migrants did if they could still be exploited. The government needed money to fight its wars and taxing the importation of goods was a good and quick way of getting it. The elitist aristocrats in England were not concerned with how this would affect the common people’s livelihood, they thought that the people in the Americas were too uneducated, too easily influenced by sedition, not worth the trouble if they remained loyal to the Monarchy.  But, if they did become rebellious, a swift and powerful show of force was necessary to put them back in line. This King George and Parliament did time and time again with some of its most lethal consequences in places like Boston and Charlestown, Massachusetts. Many people died in the streets, hills, and pastures trying to protest what they thought was an unfair, Godless, merciless dictatorship. And they were not all English for, as I pointed out above, many came from other countries, some willingly and others not so much, looking for the same thing, “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”. So, when the English government and its King refused to listen to their complaints they took the only option they thought was open to them, they assembled as representatives of the people of the thirteen United States of America and voted to reject that government through a formal Declaration of Independence. As you read it, and I encourage you to do so, you will find that it was not a declaration of armed conflict, no war between England and the Americas, but the last attempt to reach a compromise on a long list of grievances the government refused to address because it thought it as nothing more than the whining of a bunch of malcontents. Here are some of the highlights of those complaints against King George III and His Royalists Tory government:

– He (the King and his government) has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

-He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

-He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

-He has endeavored to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose, obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

-He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

-He has erected a multitude of New Offices and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

-For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world.

-For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent.

If all of this sounds familiar it’s only because those who govern now have forgotten, or more so forsaken, what this country was truly founded on, not Pomp and Circumstance but of the Rights of the People to Govern themselves and when their government opposes them, that government must Abdicate its Power.

“In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.”

Words to remember on July 4th, 2018 and, better yet, in November.

 

-A. M. Holmes

Natural Selection versus Genetic Drift in Single nucleotide polymorphisms, SNPs

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Research published from The University of Queensland indicates that natural selection plays a greater role than genetic drift in SNPs dealing with height, waist-to-hip ratio, BMI, and schizophrenia among European, African, and Asian populations (Does evolution make us or are we just drifting that way?). Led by Professor Jian Yang from UQ’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience and Queensland Brain Institute, the team used more than 400,000 genetic samples from African, East Asian and European populations to determine if the SNPs (pronounced as “snips”) showed a tendency towards randomness, implying genetic drift, or not, and thus natural selection.

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The results showed that for SNPs such as height, waist-to-hip, BMI, and schizophrenia, there was a greater frequency for height among Europeans; a greater BMI number for Africans with Europeans having greater than Asians; both Europeans and Africans falling out of the mean for schizophrenia. None of these traits showed the tendency towards a random distribution which indicates that for these SNPs natural selection plays a greater role than genetic drift. In other words, what this study says that rather than in the colloquial debate of Nature versus Nurture it’s more like Selection over Nature and Nurture not having a factor at all. This is important in that it gives hope for the potential to treat certain ailments, such as schizophrenia through treatments such as CRISPR. 

It has left me to wonder how much of natural selection over genetic drift influenced hominin traits? Eyebrows/brow ridges, robust/gracile, even “having a chin” how were these more a product of selectivity among groups than randomness among Neandertals, Denisovans, and modern humans? More intriguing, could this be applied to culture as well? 

-A. M. Holmes

 

 

Wow, and I thought I was a Progressive Thinker.

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This morning I got a Twitter notification from All Revolutions (@RevolutionsCen) about an article from The Atlantic by Ed Young (@edyong209 ) where, as he tells it in I Spent Two Years Trying to Fix the Gender Imbalance in My Stories , “I knew that I care about equality, so I deluded myself into thinking that I wasn’t part of the problem”.  He had seen how a lot of his articles reflected a gender bias he never intended to portray. Reading this opened my eyes to the fact that even though I claim to be “gender-blind” I wasn’t doing any better. Here I’m thinking I’m a progressive thinking person now to find out I’m as dirty as our misogynist President (I wasn’t aware of Emmanuelle Charpentier, Jennifer Doudna, and CRISPR). I was fooling myself completely. Now I begin to wonder where else has my supposed “blindness” toward gender, race, or ethnicity has misled me to promote instead the same prejudices I have always felt unjust?  The article is very enlightening. Also, it has good resource information at the end of it.

-A.M. Holmes

Streaming Review: ‘Babylon Berlin’

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The wonderful thing about Netflix is that every once in a while they present a gem of a series you would not have known about if they hadn’t carried it. ‘Babylon Berlin’ is one such jewel. It will draw you in and keep you interested with its engaging characters, intricate plot, and cinematographic style that captures the realism, and surrealism, of the period.

Set in 1929 Weimar Republic Germany it follows Cologne police Inspector Gereon Rath (played by Volker Bruch) as he and his Berlin counterpart, Detective Chief Inspector Bruno Wolter (Peter Kurth) investigate the Berlin vice underbelly of pornography, prostitution, and narcotics looking for a particular piece of politically damaging film. On the way, we run into Charlotte Fries (Liv Lisa Fries) a flapper and “It” girl from the impoverished slums of Wedding who will do most anything to support herself and her family including working as a part-time prostitute at the Moka Efti cabaret. But mostly, she works as a part-time office worker at the Berlin Police office where she dreams of someday becoming a detective herself. As Rath continues with his investigation of Berlin organized crime he eventually comes across Charlotte’s own amateur inquiries into the death of a railroad worker with ties to Russian Communist insurgents. Together they work to solve the mystery of a railroad car full of gold that seems to involve Stalinist secret police agents, organized criminals, corrupt politicians, and fascist thugs. The end will surprise you.

‘Babylon Berlin’ is based on Volker Kutscher’s novels adapted to television by Tom Tykwer (‘Sense8’), Achim von Borries, and Hendrik Handloegton and produced by Stefan Arndt (‘Cloud Atlas’), Uwe Schott, and Michael Polle of X Filme Creative Pool. There are 16 episodes, 45 minutes each and in German with English subtitles.  If you feel intimidated by the fact that it is in German with subtitles get over it -after following the plot and action you’ll be speaking Deutsch in no time.

I gave it a 5 out of 5 after binging it on Netflix and highly recommend it.

-A. M. Holmes     

‘The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat’ X-Files Season 11, Episode 4 Review

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I love the X-Files. I have been a fan of Chris Carter’s show since it first introduced us to Fox Mulder and Dana Scully back in the 90’s. So, when Carter decided to do a limited run I was more than enthusiastic about it. Now we’re into the second season of this limited run and I’ve yet to be disappointed. To me, some of best episodes are when the show doesn’t take itself seriously. ‘Jose Chung’s ‘From Outer Space’’, ‘The Post-Modern Prometheus’ and ‘Dreamland’ are my favorites because here is where you see Carter’s scriptwriting and direction of David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson at their best. ‘The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat’ X-Files Season 11, Episode 4 Review I think will join the ranks of Classic X-File Episode.

I won’t give up too much because it’s best when you don’t expect it. It starts with Mulder returning from a relaxing session of “Sasquatching” to find someone signaling him for a meeting a la Deepthroat. Mulder intrigued as to who would have signaled him this way meets Reggie Something in the FBI’s underground parking lot. Reggie then begins to explain that there is a conspiracy being perpetrated by the sinister “They” to erase objects and him from history. As proof, he asks Mulder about The Twilight Zone “Martian” episode. Reggie then approaches Scully with the same concern and citing a gelatin confection from her childhood as proof. What follows is an exposition involving the Mandela Effect (or is that the “Mengele Effect”?). On the way, we discover the origins of the X-Files, the possible existence of alternate universes (or not), who They are (actually more like ‘is’) and are given the definitive proof of extraterrestrial life (including the answers to everything) done in a way that comments on our society today.

There, I gave very little away. You can see it on Xfinity, YouTube or Hulu. Now, go watch before it disappears and all that remains is this review of what was actually a ‘Fringe’ episode.

-A. M. Holmes