Posts Tagged ‘humanist’

The Post – The Rare Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus, Part II

February 6, 2011

The site that started it all is:

http://zapatopi.net/treeoctopus/

and includes these “photos.”

https://i1.wp.com/zapatopi.net/treeoctopus/treeocto.jpg

https://i2.wp.com/zapatopi.net/treeoctopus/sighting-galen_leeds-hawktopus.jpg

The Wikipedia entry for Pacific Northwest tree octopus,

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pacific_Northwest_tree_octopus, adds that the site was set up in 1998 by Lyle Zapato. Even though he included a number of falsehoods on the site, such as “its affiliation with People for the Ethical Treatment of Pumpkins (P.E.T.PU.)” most students who read the site believed it.

Two sources were listed at the Wikipedia entry that give the actual research study information should you want to read those studies:

  1. ^ Beth Krane (November 13, 2006). “Researchers find kids need better online academic skills”. UComm Advance (University of Connecticut) 25 (12). http://advance.uconn.edu/2006/061113/06111308.htm. Retrieved 2008-01-11. “Don Leu, Chair in Literacy and Technology at UConn, “… anyone can publish anything on the Internet, and today’s students are not prepared to critically evaluate the information they find there.””.
  2. ^ Matthew Bettelheim (March 14, 2007). “Tentacled Tree Hugger Disarms Seventh Graders”. Inkling. http://www.inklingmagazine.com/articles/tentacled-tree-hugger-gets-legs-up-on-twelve-year-olds/. “Of the 25 seventh-graders identified as their schools’ best online readers, 24 recommended this bogus website to another class that Leu had told them was also researching endangered species.”.

Given this, even though the site was not intended for use as such, it is often used in Internet Literacy classes. Internet Literacy, as defined by the American Library Association and quoted on on Wikipedia’s entry for this, is: “To be information literate, a person must be able to recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information.”

The article at Wikipedia goes to note that Terry Pratchett even referred to the tree octopus in his novel, Nation:

“The concept of “nation” can be extended to embrace all of humanity, anchoring Nation in the philosophy of humanism as an answer to the question of “what is the role of the individual in society?” As with the Tiffany Aching series, Nation contains an undercurrent of passive faith transforming into active scientific enquiry, without losing moral dimensions in the process. Pratchett reinforces this theme with an offhand reference to outspoken atheist and humanist Richard Dawkins as “that nice Professor Dawkins” who was bitten by a tree-climbing octopus).”

Anyways, just a really entertaining and interesting example……

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The Post – Nursery Update, Ethics, Parenthood, Friendship, and Just Being a Mere Mortal

February 25, 2008

Just a quick note this morning as I’m on the run. The next installment of my author journey is partially written. Those take me a bit more time. Pondering, reflecting, remembering. Lots to sift through. So those will resume this week.

For now, just to update – Scarlett O’Hara is still alive in the new tank – the “nursery.” Frankly, I was worried. I’d have felt better if I’d set that tank up last week and it had a week to run and settle out. I just hadn’t come to the point of “embracing” trying to raise larval crabs and when I did finally decide this weekend to try, it seemed like birth was imminent. Kind of a go/no-go response needed to be made ASAP.

Last night she just wouldn’t settle down in the new tank. Kept running back and forth, kept trying to climb the sides of the tank. Was there something wrong with the water that was hurting her? All the parameters looked great, in fact the water in the new tank was better than the original – that one’s overdue for a water exchange and the nitrites and nitrates in that tank are rising. So this one is actually healthier. However, certainly there’s other parameters I can’t measure. So my worry was that I’d put her in something I thought was better for her, but maybe I was killing her and couldn’t tell?

I wondered if she was just disoriented and couldn’t find a place to climb out of the water to get air. I noticed air bubbles escaping from her mouth at one point and was afraid she would “drown.” She has this lovely live rock with all kinds of crevices she could hide in, better than her old live rock, AND it’s much bigger so she can climb on top of it, but I thought that maybe in her stress she couldn’t find it. So I scooped extra gravel out of the original tank and put it in the new one and built her two gravel hills so she could walk up the hill and be partly out of water. She found them, but that didn’t seem to be the problem. She just kept running back and forth and climbing the walls.

My husband wondered if she simply couldn’t understand why the sides of this tank were so clean and where was all the microscopic algae she likes to eat? The other tank, though the glass sides look clear, apparently have microscopic algae on them because the crabs are always “picking stuff off” the sides and eating it.

Or maybe she was just so stressed out, she couldn’t relax and would kill herself with exhaustion?

I also noted last night that the formerly clear water in the new tank was now cloudy. I was convinced something awful was taking hold and maybe the live rock had something bad in it. If so, you would expect the nitrites to be rising. I repeated all parameters last night and the water looked good.

So by this point, who is more stressed? Her or me?

My husband said little, just said “It’ll be what it’ll be. You’ve done all you can.” I told him it’s not easy being “God.” He patted my back and said “At least not a God who cares.”

Anyway, I struggled with “should I just bag this whole thing and put her back in the original tank?” I decided not to add any more stress to her by moving her back. One of those – just let it go and see what happens, moments.

This morning the tank looks less cloudy. My husband said he came down and she was sitting quietly in the water, “tending” to her egg mass – ie – giving it pushes and pokes, as if turning them. When I came down, she had found her way to the top of the live rock and was just sitting there on top of her world, soaking up heat from the lights and appearing totally relaxed. (Or is she dead? Should I poke her? 🙂 Just kidding).

All joking aside about my being so worried, I guess I felt guilty. As I said to my husband – Did I put her at risk of dying because I so wanted to try and raise the babies? Did my ego cause harm in this and should I have just left it all alone?

The ethical questions are never clear or easily answered. It’s like being a parent. You try your best, knowing that even when you do, you don’t know if you’ve made the right choices. And in your less than perfect moments, and we all have them, you wonder, will they be okay? Why does God entrust such a big job to mere mortals?

I think Lee Woodruff’s final comments in her book, In An Instant, apply here, at least for being parents, maybe not for being God to fiddler crabs. She worried about how her kids were affected by all the turmoil and intensity when her reporter husband, Bob, was in the hospital with a head injury. She had to be away for long periods to be with him. Things were in an upheaval even though family and friends were looking after things. I so loved her observations, because they are the truth. In thanking her kids she added:

“May you always remember that there are no perfect parents, just mothers and fathers doing the very best they can. And there are no perfect spouses either, just those who love each other enough to stand by “for better or worse.” Don’t be fooled: that kind of endurance is, perhaps, the greatest expression of love.”

I think she could only come to that lesson because of the messiness of life. I think it’s the messy low moments that teach us the most about being human, and about understanding the “human moments” in others. Those times teach us about being compassionate to ourselves and to others, especially when life is at its least pretty. We all want to look like we’ve got it together. Sometimes we do. Sometimes we don’t. Life gets messy. Thomas Moore, a former Catholic monk, in his book, Care of the Soul, I book I read, reread, dog-ear, highlight…in three different colors, quotes something from the Renaissance humanist Erasmus, that applies. Erasmus wrote in his book, The Praise of Folly, that “people are joined in friendship through their foolishness. Community cannot be sustained at too high a level. It thrives in the valleys of the soul rather than in the heights of spirit.”

So, from one very imperfect human, friend, wife, mother, fiddler crab God, go gently into your Monday. It’s really okay, no matter how it goes.