Voices of an Emerging Movement for Conscious Evolution
Celebrating Cosmic, Earth, Biological, and Human History as Sacred
Evolutionary Life is an e-magazine for those of us
inspired by sacred, meaningful understandings of the
evolutionary story of the universe --
especially those of us called to a more conscious role in the evolution of humanity and culture.
(For more, read here.)
Our Amazing World
Our Ever-Mysterious Cosmos
The Changing Story of Humanity's Past
The Evolving Field of Genetics
Humanity Faces Evolution Now
Varieties of Transformational Politics by Tom Atlee
Co-Evolving Our Story Field by Peggy Holman
Special 7-Article Section: Who are We Humans?
Other Fascinating Topics - Paleolithic Diet, How Baboons Think,
Does Time Exist?, Swarm Theory, and Fractal Evolution
Films and Videos
Visit with Michael Dowd
First Evolutionary Revival
New Great Story Materials
Evolutionary Evangelists' Itinerary
A Touch of Humor
OUR AMAZING WORLD
PLANTS CAN TELL WHO’S WHO
By Kerri Smith
Plants have a secret social life and can tell if the plant next to them is related or not. If it's not related, they energetically compete with it for resources.
FISH SURVIVES IN TREES
By David Derbyshire
It's one of the golden rules of the natural world -- birds live in trees, fish live in water. The trouble is, no one bothered to tell the mangrove killifish. (It also happens to be the only vertebrate to mate with itself!).
OUR EVER-MYSTERIOUS COSMOS
SCIENTISTS PUZZLE OVER ENORMOUS VOID
By Roger Highfield
Astronomers are scratching their heads over a puzzling non-discovery, an enormous hole in the universe measuring nearly a billion light-years across.
GAMMA RAY EXPLOSION IS A COSMIC MYSTERY
This 9.4 billion year old explosion, flashing in the middle of nowhere 89,000 light years from the closest neighborhood galaxy, is puzzling astronomers. Usually such explosions mark the death of giant stars born in dense clouds of gas and dust, which don't seem to be around this one….
FIND 28 NEW PLANETS BEYOND OUR SOLAR SYSTEM
By Alok Jha
The world's leading team of planet-hunters has announced the discovery of 28 new planets outside our solar system. They are among 37 objects outside our solar system found to orbit distant stars.
By Robert S Boyd
It's boom time for planet hunters. Astronomers are bagging new worlds at an average rate of more than two a month. This article explains how.
SATURN ADVENTURES 2007
by Carolyn Porco
Check out the Dec. 24, 2007 "Captain's Log" describing the remarkable discoveries and breathtaking photographs of Saturn, its rings, and its moons produced by the Cassini Project during 2007.
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THE CHANGING STORY OF HUMANITY'S PAST
FOSSIL FIND PUSHES HUMAN SPLIT BACK MILLIONS OF YEARS
Ten million-year-old fossils discovered in Ethiopia show that humans and apes probably split six or seven million years earlier than widely thought.
SHAKE UP FAMILY TREE
By John Noble Wilford
Two fossils found in Kenya have shaken the human family tree, possibly rearranging major branches thought to be in a straight ancestral line to Homo sapiens.
HUMAN BEHAVIOR UNCOVERED
A major question in evolutionary studies today is how early did humans begin to think and behave in ways we would see as fundamentally modern? One index of 'behavioral modernity' is in the appearance of objects used purely as decoration or ornaments. (Here's another good article on this.).
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THE EVOLVING FIELD OF GENETICS
COMPLETE PRIMATE GENE STUDY REPORTED
U.S. scientists have completed what's believed the most comprehensive assessment of gene copy number variations across human and non-human primate species.
TO GENE THEORY
By Denise Caruso
The $73.5 billion global biotech business may soon have to grapple with a discovery that calls into question the scientific principles on which it was founded.
FORMS OF LIFE RIGHT HERE AT HOME?
By Carl Zimmer
We know about "life as we know it." But what about life as we don't know it? What if other, completely distinct forms of biology also took root on the early Earth? Such radically different organisms might have their own biochemistry and a separate evolutionary history. Some scientists are looking for -- or trying to create -- alien microbes that live using RNA with no DNA. (Some are suggesting that our search for extraterrestrial life should include such "weird life".)
By Rick Weiss
It has been 50 years since scientists first created DNA in a test tube, stitching ordinary chemical ingredients together to make life's most extraordinary molecule. Now researchers are poised to cross a dramatic barrier: the creation of life forms driven by completely artificial DNA -- with daunting challenges for using this knowledge wisely...
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HUMANITY FACES EVOLUTION NOW
By Will Hutton
This article clearly points out China's growing role in climate change and claims that its primary failing is lack of democracy to promote answerability. These are valid factors but, as many people point out in comments below the article, there is more to it than that…
By Laura MacInnis
Infectious diseases are evolving more quickly and spreading faster around the globe than ever. This example of evolution happening in and around us demonstrates the need to be more collectively conscious about our role in such evolution …
EVOLUTION TO MAKE
Heroic or Horrific? This Discovery Channel program "The Real Superhumans and the Quest for the Future Fantastic" forecasts the next stage of human evolution. For more fascinating information click the "Extraordinary Human Capabilities" link at the bottom of the page.
By Ruth Gledhill
The Roman Catholic Church is at hand with a new line in "green confessions" to help eco-sinners to find forgiveness.
A team of Korean researchers has developed a cutting-edge solar cell that brings the cost of solar from $2.30/watt to 10 cents/watt, to be commercially available in 2012.
WARMING TO RESURRECT EIGHT MILLION YEAR OLD ORGANISM
By Catherine Brahic
An 8-million-year-old bacterium extracted from the oldest known ice on Earth is now growing in a laboratory, claim researchers. If confirmed, this means ancient bacteria and viruses will come back to life as ice melts due to global warming. This is nothing to worry about, say experts, because the process has been going on for billions of years and the bugs are unlikely to cause human disease. Is reassurance the wisest course here?
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VARIETIES OF TRANSFORMATIONAL POLITICS
By Tom Atlee
Efforts to transform politics can take many forms, from "throw the bums out" to "transform the systems that generate suffering and destruction". One of the most potent forms of systemic change is to use the power of conversation to temporarily raise people's consciousness, and then use that raised consciousness to create the societal changes we need and want.
** Evolutionary Process Arts Column **
CO-EVOLVING OUR STORY FIELD: EXPLORING CONDITIONS FOR LIVING A NEW STORY
By Peggy Holman
Late in August 2007 eighty-three very diverse people gathered for a week in the Colorado mountains to explore how to shift the mainstream cultural narrative toward greater Life. The gathering so thoroughly welcomed the uniqueness, gifts, visions, and passions of the participants that it changed many of their lives and generated an intense sense of community. How did it happen?
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SPECIAL SECTION: WHO ARE WE HUMANS?
THE DANCE OF EVOLUTION, or HOW ART GOT ITS START
By Natalie Angier
What might that deep-seated evolutionary logic of art-making be? Researcher Ellen Dissanayake notes that throughout most of human history, art has been a profoundly communal affair, of harvest dances, religious pageants, quilting bees, the passionate town rivalries that gave us the spires of Chartres, Reims and Amiens. And she says it all started with the genetically choreographed interactive dance between mothers and infants.
ON HUMAN NATURE IS A CAUSE FOR OPTIMISM
By Gary Olson
Recent neuroscience research reveals how humans are hard-wired for empathy -- the ability to "put oneself in another’s shoes" and then act on that perception. Culture and propaganda can override that or build on it. With basic morality as part of our evolutionary heritage, we should be able to consciously evolve increasingly moral cultures.
By Nicholas Wade
Social animals evolved certain instincts needed to override self-interest so they could gain the benefits of social living. The genes they've passed to us generate the "gut reactions" we feel -- our impulses to not harm, to be fair and loyal, to respect authority and spurn impurity. So evolution provided the impulses that underlie the world's diverse moral codes and cultures. These powerful body-based drives often trump reason, can manifest in many different forms (including liberal and conservative political perspectives), and can be channeled for good or ill by peers and powerholders. This is a new way to look at morals…
By Kenneth M Heilman and Russell S. Donda
The evolving and growing complexity of the human brain allowed our ancestors the ability to question, wonder, and consider new possibilities -- to be creative. Life altering advances were the result. Is unconditional adherence to dogma (whether religious or secular) at odds with this evolved capability and our full potential as creative beings? This fascinating article (followed by wildly diverse comments by readers) unfortunately focuses too much on religious fundamentalism and misses the point that collectively we need and use conservative minds as well as creative minds to make a healthy society. It is the healthy interaction between the two that makes the difference for us all.
NATURAL HISTORY OF PEACE
By Robert M Sapolsky
Humans like to think that they are unique, but the study of other primates has called into question the exceptionalism of our species. So what does primatology have to say about war and peace? Contrary to what was believed just a few decades ago, humans are not "killer apes" destined for violent conflict. We can make our own history, without war.
CONTROL VIA EVERYDAY SIGHTS AND SOUNDS
By Benedict Carey
Our "unconscious mind" makes us tidy up more thoroughly when there’s a faint tang of cleaning liquid in the air and become more competitive if there’s a briefcase in sight. How shall we use understandings like this?
WE WALK ON TWO LEGS
By Steve Connor
Walking on two legs uses up a quarter of the energy it takes to walk on all fours, according to a study that could explain why early human ancestors adopted bipedalism rather than the knuckle-walking of chimpanzees and gorillas.
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OTHER FASCINATING TOPICS
By Keith Heimpel
The first controlled study of a Paleolithic (stone age caveman) diet -- fruits, vegetables, root vegetables and nuts, lean meats, and fish -- and avoiding grains, dairy foods and salt -- shows it is the "best choice to control diabetes 2". But this diet is controversial -- e.g., here's one fascinating debate about diet and evolution.
By Nicholas Wade
"Monkey society is governed by the same two general rules that governed the behavior of women in so many 19th-century novels," researchers write. "Stay loyal to your relatives (though perhaps at a distance, if they are an impediment), but also try to ingratiate yourself with the members of high-ranking families." How researchers found this out makes fascinating reading…
By Tim Folger
The problem, in brief, is that time may not exist at all at the most fundamental level of physical reality. Consider the basic measurement known as the attosecond: It is TINY! 100 attoseconds is to one second as a second is to 300 million years. So picture the temporal realm called the Planck scale, where even attoseconds drag by like eons, where distances and intervals are so short that the very concepts of time and space start to break down. Planck time -- the smallest unit of time that has any physical meaning -- is less than a trillionth of a trillionth of an attosecond. Beyond that? Tempus incognito. So scientists have begun theorizing that time may be "an emergent phenomenon" that is most "real" at timescales like ours…
By Pete Miller
A single ant or bee isn't smart, but their colonies are. The study of swarm intelligence is providing insights that can help humans manage complex systems, from truck routing to military robots. (Note: Although the article misses the role of conversation in collective intelligence, there are intriguing innovations in human systems, like Open Space Technology, that synergize the powers of swarm intelligence and the collective intelligence of conversation.)
Nature has an impulse to generate fractals -- such that fractal patterns show up everywhere in land, plants, and animals. This article offers a description of this phenomenon and the provocative hypothesis that this fractal impulse plays an active role in evolution -- including a profound role in the evolution of consciousness starting from the earliest cells. Fractal geometry might provide one physical non-random source for the compelling presence of design in nature that inspires religious pseudo-sciences like Intelligent Design.
TWO POEMS by Tom Atlee
Sun Being Meditation
Awesome: virtually ALL life activities on Earth are moved by the sun...
Evolution doesn't make things new from scratch, it fiddles. And so do we…...
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FILMS AND VIDEOS
Pale Blue Dot... Carl Sagan's deeply beautiful, humbling and inspiring reminder of how small we are, and how great is our task to realize the one world we actually are. It's less than 4 minutes long. Watch it and share it. It goes well with Pangea day, below.
THE STORY OF
The Story of Stuff is an excellent 20-minute cartoon film about the many social and ecological problems with our throw-away society -- and a fabulous lesson in systems thinking and how to think about solutions. It is appropriate for a grade school audience but also detailed enough for graduate students. It is available for free download.
WHAT WOULD JESUS
This is a dramatic, funny anti-consumerist full-length film featuring the real-life adventures of Reverend Billy and his Church of Stop Shopping Gospel Choir as they invade malls and other gathering places of the worshippers of the Good Buy.
FLOCK OF DODOS
This documentary by American evolutionary biologist and filmmaker Randy Olson highlights the debate between proponents of the concept of Intelligent Design and the scientific establishment that supports evolution. The dodo is a bird that lived on the Island of Mauritius whose lack of fear of humans and inability to fly made it easy prey. It gained a reputation for stupidity, went extinct, and now is a symbol of failure to change with a changing environment. The film attempts to determine who the real "dodos" are in a constantly evolving world: the often arrogant scientists who are failing to promote evolution as a scientifically accepted fact, the friendly but misguided Intelligent Design advocates, or the American public who get fooled by the professional salesmanship of the Intelligent-Design-promoting Discovery Institute. While Randy Olson ultimately sides with the evolutionary scientists, he gives equal air time to both sides of the argument, including Intelligent Design proponent Michael Behe and several of his colleagues. Olson also covers the history of Intelligent Design thought starting with Plato, and intersperses his serious pieces with humorous cartoons of squawking dodos, commentaries by his wild mother, and many other hilarious touches and provocative forays reminiscent of Michael Moore's documentaries. Interesting and fun to watch, this video will be seen by many on both sides as controversial, making it even more fascinating.
AFTER HUMANITY IS GONE
The History Channel offers a 2-hour science-based TV documentary "Life after People" to be shown at 9pm Easter Sunday (interesting timing...). How would humanity vanish? What would happen next? This page give pictures of how quickly our civilization and all its records would crumble under the influence of weather, plants, and animals. We are the first-ever species to become collectively aware of our possible extinction. Conscious evolution suggests we might do something about that. First step: Realize that we have a choice to live into many futures and to co-create more positive visions than these, generated by initiatives like the ones below...
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PANGEA DAY PROJECT
Pangea Day is a project through which hundreds of millions of people will gather at local sites around the world on May 10, 2008 to watch (and watch each other watching) award-winning films created to help us see through each other's eyes. It was conceived by Jehane Noujaim, a 2006 TED prize winner <http://www.ted.com>, to use the power of film to promote better understanding of our common humanity. Any of us can participate in this global "happening" by promoting it or hosting a Pangea Day event on 5/10/08 or showing up at one. ("Pangea" is the name of the one-world supercontinent which existed over 200 million years ago before it progressively broke up into the continents we have today.)
FOR THE FUTURE
The Foundation for the Future conducts a broad range of programs and activities to promote an understanding of the factors in the social, genetic, biological, medical, psychological, physiological, cultural, technological, and ecological fields that may have an impact on human life during coming millennia. One way to encourage development of research and resources for positive evolution is to award those whose work helps us make meaning of our past and address our current and future challenges. The Foundation has created and conferred a number of awards for books, documentaries, teaching, and research which you can explore on their site.
BASIS OF INTER-RELIGIOUS DIALOGUE
This May 9-10, 2008 conference in Poland addresses this fascinating question: Is theological truth to be found within individual religions or through interaction between different points of view and shared inquiry into questions about God and his relations to the world? (We like this because it introduces the centrality of diversity, inquiry and conversation into the concept of truth, and suggests that truth evolves. This is another potential link between spiritual and scientific endeavors.)
EVOLUTION AND SOCIAL SYNERGY: TOWARD AN EVOLUTIONARY POLITICS
Barbara Marx Hubbard, Chair of Conscious Evolution at Wisdom University, and author of the original book CONSCIOUS EVOLUTION, was nominated for the office of Vice President at the Democratic Convention in 1984. She will convene a gathering of luminaries in the field of conscious evolution, transformational politics and social change in Oakland, CA, May 5 - 9 (9am-6pm) for this intensive participatory seminar on evolutionary politics, open to all registrants.
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HYPOTHESIS by Jonathan Haight
Connie Barlow says: "I just finished reading this book -- which I think is the best compendium on evolutionary psychology, anthropology, religion, and positive psychology -- and it's beautifully written. In fact, I loved it so much, Michael and I got the audio of it so he can listen while driving. It is deeply profound. Even though I had done a LOT of reading in these topical areas, Jonathan Haight put it all together in a way that kept 'AHAs' popping for me."
FROM THE HOLOCENE by Dorion Sagan
From Publishers Weekly
This casual and lively book deals with some of the most basic philosophical questions we have: why are we here? How did life arise from nonliving particles? What is the fate of the earth? Sagan (WHAT IS LIFE?), son of astronomer and science writer Carl Sagan, draws on, among others, science, philosophy and the speculations of science fiction in attempting to answer these questions. He begins with a quick introduction to James Lovelock's Gaia hypothesis, that the Earth is a living, self-regulating organism, and that life is not just a passenger on Earth but an integral part of the planet's systems.
DEEP ECONOMY: THE
WEALTH OF COMMUNITIES AND THE DURABALE FUTURE by Bill McKibben
Here's why a growth-oriented economy is no longer good for our planet. In this, his 10th book, McKibben offers an incisive critique of the unintended consequences of our oil-fueled, growth-oriented economy, and he calls for a new ecological paradigm.
ANNIVERSARY BOOK SECTION
2009 is a big year for Charles Darwin. A smash hit Darwin exhibit is touring museums. Construction of a full-size replica and plans to sail the path of the famous voyage of Darwin's research vessel, the Beagle, around the world are underway. Now a startling new cycle of books about Darwin's long ignored "love thy neighbor" theory of evolution is being published. The reason for an accelerating global focus on Darwin and evolution theory is the 200th Anniversary of his birth and the 150th Anniversary of the publication of Origin of Species. So Benjamin Franklin Press is publishing a new six-book Darwin Anniversary Book Cycle by evolutionary systems scientist David Loye.
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COSMIC ART BY DANA LYNNE ANDERSON
Take a look at these two slide shows of the remarkable, cosmic, fractal-spiritual paintings of evolutionary artist Dana Lynne Anderson -- The Song of Creation and Zeitgeist.
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A NEW WEBSITE ON NATURE-INTIMATE MORALITY
David Abrams acclaimed book THE SPELL OF THE SENSUOUS reveals our culture's distance from direct sacred experience of the natural world. His new site offers verbal and visual paths and doorways into a deeper, nature-infused sense of what is good and right. Connie Barlow says: "Both the content and style of David Abram’s new and totally fabulous website matches his commitment to orality and the slow pace of the wild."
A SERVICE FOR SCANNING THE HEAVENS FROM YOUR LAPTOP
After turning millions of Internet users into virtual explorers of the world with Google Earth, the Internet search giant is now hoping to turn many of them into virtual stargazers. Sky, a new service within Google Earth (for which you need to download software), allows users to view the skies as seen from Earth, flying around and zooming in on increasingly detailed imagery of some 100 million stars and 200 million galaxies.
The web is filling up with participatory sites, and now we see participatory science, in which millions of people participate in real scientific research. The Galaxy Zoo invites you to help classify galaxies...
: FROM THE BIGGEST TO THE SMALLEST THINGS
This fascinating website sponsored by Nikon compares the sizes of "everything" that exists or has existed in the world around us -- and in us -- from quarks to ants to tyrannosaurus rex to planets to nebulae -- all laid out in one moving, clickable logarithmic scale. You can grasp the overall idea in a few minutes, but it is actually a whole universe in which you can adventure for hours, clicking on objects for more info. The panorama rolls along on its own, but there's a good "Help" guide if you want to control how it unfolds. It is a great complement to the famous POWERS OF TEN book and website.
WORK NOW MORE AVAILABLE ONLINE
The Earth Community website presents the far-reaching vision of American writer Thomas Berry, a leading ecological and ethical thinker and one of the founders of Evolutionary Spirituality. Here Berry speaks compellingly -- in writing, audio, and video -- about the role of humanity within nature and about our relationship with the Earth and the Universe. For an introduction, take a few minutes to find out who humanity is and what our task is.
This site features articles about biological science, including many about evolution. Of particular interest are an intriguing selection of articles about evolution and the future.
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THE MILKY WAY AS YOU'VE NEVER SEEN IT!
An incredible panoramic photo taken in the desert...
FLOATING ABOVE THE EARTH
WOW! These fantastic NASA photos will thrill you even if you are not a space nut. You cannot believe how clear they are. The pictures are large: If they totally fill your screen, be sure to scroll sideways to get the full view…
GORGEOUS NATURE PHOTOS
A slide show of amazing nature pictures from the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Just keeping clicking "Next"…
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VISIT WITH MICHAEL DOWD
Visit Michael Dowd’s new website -- named for his new book, THANK GOD FOR EVOLUTION!, critically acclaimed by numerous Nobel Laureates, educators, scientists and religious leaders worldwide. For a limited time, you can download the book free of charge from the website, or purchase it hardbound at 34% off. (The "limited time" is because negotiations are underway for the book to be sold to a major publisher, so Michael may not be able to offer free downloads and special reduced prices for much longer.) The site contains information about the book and Michael and Connie Barlow’s efforts to spread the evolutionary story of Creation, including great news coverage. One of the most interesting aspects of the site is a series of ten video clips in which Michael discusses various topics included in his book. These are short, concise and very clear. They cover sin, beliefs, Christianity, God, end times and many other topics. And you can check out his current schedule to see when he will be in your area. You will also find his blog, where he shares his current news and ideas in a very engaging manner, including many web links to other efforts engaged in evolution and the Great Story work. You can sign up for mailings from Michael, and he describes how you can participate and help further this important work. And you can buy Great Story T-shirts, mugs, videos, and more, many with the now-famous Darwin fish and Jesus fish kissing each other -- "a marriage of science and religion"! With the news and blog sections being updated regularly, this site is one way you can stay in touch with this rapidly developing movement.
On February 15, 2008, Michael Dowd and Connie Barlow participated in the first evolutionary revival we've ever heard of, hosted by the First Unitarian Universalist Church of San Diego, and imagined into reality by UU member Keith Mesecher. About 150 people sang, danced, and celebrated the lively miracle of ancient, ongoing evolution. Among the unique features of this emerging form of worship were volunteers acting out a parable of the stars, belly dancers -- is this because atoms are born in the bellies of red giant stars? -- and original songs by Keith and his band, who are preparing a CD for use by other interested religious communities.
GREAT STORY MATERIALS
Connie Barlow maintains a very useful webpage of new materials that she, Michael, and others have developed for promoting and sharing the Great Story of evolution. You'll find a new DVD there, a companion to Michael's book THANK GOD FOR EVOLUTION! -- and a new song by Connie, compressing 14 billion years of evolution into a several-minute chant. You'll also find several news features, including photos of the first Evolutionary Revival, and a powerful new litany by Michael about why it matters what we think about evolution. Finally, a 12 to 15 session STUDY GUIDE is available for free download, designed for discussion groups utilizing both the book and the new DVD titled, "Thank God for Evolution!"
Michael and Connie are on the road constantly, often giving presentations, sermons, and workshops many times per week. They are currently on the West Coast -- California, Oregon, Washington -- and will soon be heading to the Midwest via Montana. You can check out their itinerary here. If they are in your area, come see them in action. You won't forget it! If you know people who live along their route, invite them to an event with Michael and Connie. These two folks are incredibly inspiring, no matter what your religious orientation.
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Six great quotes:
Hear from Salman Rushdie on controling our story, Barbara Marx Hubbard on conscious evolution, Dee Hock on culture shift, Abraham Maslow on self-actualizing people, Henry Miller on the order of the world, and James Martin on taking evolution into our own hands..
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A TOUCH OF HUMOR
GETTING SOME PERSPECTIVE #1
One day the zoo-keeper noticed that the orangutan was reading two books -- the Bible and Darwin's The Origin of Species. In surprise he asked the ape, "Why are you reading both those books?"
"Well," said the orangutan, "I just wanted to know if I was my brother's keeper or my keeper's brother."
GETTING SOME PERSPECTIVE #2
Q: What did one lab rat say to the other?
A: "I've got my scientist so well trained that every time I push the buzzer,
he brings me a snack.
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