Saturday, January 30, 2010

Snow! Etc.

So how many inches have you gotten? We have an average of 11 in our font yard; I know because I literally poked a yardstick into it to measure.

It's still coming down a little.

We've been good little children and have already shovelled paths from our front door to the driveway and from our back door to the (now outside) squirrel cage.

Squirrel cage is double-decker now. Very warm, quilted, multi-layered nest bag in the top half with a baby blanket in it to snuggle under. The top half of the cage has two coverings: an old sheet, to keep squirrels out of sight of overhead predators (hawks), and a clear plastic tarp to keep the rain and snow out. With a metal roof over all.

Last night, I dreamed I went to put new food in the cage and discovered that somehow, there were now SEVEN squirrels in the cage. The extras, seeking shelter, had found a way in. Problem was, there must also be a way out I must discover...but I woke up before I did.

We got our cars about halfway dug out before we had to come in. Demetrios is anemic and I don't like him exposed to cold for very long at all. (Yes, he has plenty of iron. He even has plenty of red blood cells. Problem is, they are very small; nobody knows why or how to cure the condition.)

I'm quite sure there is no way we are even going to try to make it to church in the morning.

People here are just sort of hunkered down and settled in for three or four days of being snowbound. They have brought in extra provisions against such exigencies as power failure. They have pots of chili, spaghetti sauce, stew, and the like simmering on their stoves. I had pot roast already cooked.

We spent the day knitting and reading and watching TV movies and talking and admiring the storm.

Demetrios is reading a book on the prefrontal cortex of the brain, and someday maybe I'll write a post about all the things he has found there that any child could tell you are nonsense. I'll have to wait and hunt up all the examples he read aloud to me.

There's a twofold problem in the biological sciences nowadays. One is that God is ruled out. Human souls (or just call them human PERSONS) are ruled out. Meaning is ruled out. (How can you even have proper science if you don't take the meanings of things into account?) Love is ruled out. None of these is scientific. Fine; they aren't. But the problem is, that doesn't mean they aren't real! It doesn't mean they don't exist. They still need to be taken into account somehow. But because they are ruled out prima facie - well, that's another way of stating prejudice, isn't it? We are not allowed to think in those terms. And what happens then, as evidenced by example after example that Demetrios read to me, is people end up not being able to think at all. Thus, for example, these writers were puzzled that even when a certain part of the prefrontal cortex has nothing wrong with it, the thing still doesn't work unless there is also intention and attention. And there, they run into a brick wall, because what or who provides those? (Persons, as autonomous beings, are ruled out, remember.) The end. No more thinking possible here.

The other problem is that everything HAS to be seen in terms of evolution. Now I have no personal opinion about evolution. Maybe God created things that way or maybe not. It frankly isn't high on the list of things I need to understand any time soon. But the trouble is, when you insist on cramming everything into that mold, again you rule out thinking. You come up with absurdities, such as when one neurologist opined that perhaps our inability to do more than one thing at a time was "adaptive".

What? First of all, we DO more than one thing at a time. Suppose the "one thing" is that some psychologist, testing us, instructs us to press the red button every time we see projected onto the screen an image of a red triangle. Well, that involves several different brain functions, in different areas of the brain. It involves short-term memory (to remember what we are supposed to do) and seeing (two different processes, one of acquiring the visual images and the other of interpreting them as red triangles or something else) and language (what does "red triangle" or "red button" mean?) and motor function to press the button, and so on and so forth. So we routinely DO a lot more than one thing at a time.

But even if it were true that we could only do one thing at a time, how in the world is that supposed to be adaptive? Wouldn't it be a LOT more adaptive if we could be highly successful at multi-tasking? If only I could read a book, figure out my shopping list, make the bed and rock my babies all at the same time!

Well there are tons more examples I'll try to fish out of that book some time. But the upshot of it is to make us marvel at what a serious, serious intellectual defect prejudice is.

Interestingly enough, the purpose of the book was to bring together multiple scientific disciplines to try to form a "coherent evolutionary understanding" of the prefrontal cortex, and the conclusion of the book is that the project so far has failed, but not to worry, we have promising new technologies we will keep pursuing.

P.S.) I can't get the pictures of it to download, woe is me! But a woman here in Richmond decided to use this snowy day to see if she could get the birds to eat out of her hand. She took a handful of mealworms out to the feeder and just stood here, palm outstretched. And she has photos of five different species of birds eating them right out of her hand! If you e-mail me at anastasiatheo001 AT comcast DOT net, I'll forward those photos to you, and maybe YOU can download them for all of us to see. (It turns out, upon closer inspection, to be 5 photos, but only 3 different species: Bluebirds, Goldfinches, and a Tufted Titmouse.)


margaret said...

I've dreamed about your squirrels. I dreamed there was a huge new tree in my garden and it was full of squirrels and in my dream I said to myself, "Oh, no, those are Anastasia's squirrels, how did they get here?"