Author Archives: acflory

About acflory

I am the kind of person who always has to know why things are the way they are so my interests range from genetics and biology to politics and what makes people tick. For fun I play online mmorpgs, read, listen to a music, dance when I get the chance and landscape my rather large block. Work is writing. When a story I am working on is going well I'm on cloud nine. On bad days I go out and dig big holes...

Why the vaccinated have to keep wearing masks

In the coming days, the leaked information from the CDC is going to be misrepresented by every anti-vaxxer, conspiracy theorist and general nutter in the world, so we will need facts to counter the inevitable surge of crazy. We will also need to understand the implications of this data for ourselves.

Point number 1.

We have to understand that all this data is about the Delta variant. Delta is a mutation of the original Covid19 virus and its an order of magnitude more infectious.

The graphic below [taken from the CDC powerpoint slides] compares various forms of infectious diseases. The higher up a disease is located on the graphic, the deadlier it is. The further to the right it is, the more infectious it is.

As you can see, Delta is not very high up on the graphic – i.e. it’s nowhere near as deadly as say Ebola – but it is a long way to the right. That means it is as infectious as chickenpox. And chickenpox is the second most infectious disease of all.

Point number 2.

All of the current, first generation of vaccines were developed in a mad rush…for the Alpha variant of Covid19 – i.e. the original version of the virus. We’re only now starting to get reliable data about how well these vaccines work against Delta.

Point number 3.

Emerging data shows that none of the current vaccines work as well against Delta as they do against the Alpha [original] variant. When it comes to reducing the severity of disease and the likelihood of death, however, they still work extremely well, with a few exceptions.

Point number 4.

The exceptions include people with compromised immune systems, and the elderly. For them, the vaccines do not work as well. The operative phrase here is ‘as well’. That means people with cancer who are on chemo, or those with autoimmune diseases being treated with immuno-suppressant drugs, or steroids or a whole range of other immune system related conditions, all of these people must continue to take extra precautions. These include the wearing of masks, social distancing, not congregating in crowds, hand hygiene etc.

Point number 5.

Apart from the immuno-compromised, the vaccines do NOT provide 100% protection against infection, even for normal, healthy people who are fully vaccinated.

According to the CDC, 35 thousand fully vaccinated people out of a total vaccinated population of 162 million are likely to get what’s called a breakthrough infection. This is when you become infected despite the vaccine. In percentage terms, this is 0.02% of fully vaccinated Americans spread throughout the US.

Point number 6.

Vaccinated people who get breakthrough infections are still far better off than those with no vaccination at all. The graphic below, also taken from the CDC powerpoint slides, shows a side-by-side comparison of vaccinated versus non-vaccinated people:

The green bars represent the unvaccinated population, and the levels of disease, hospitalization and death that they suffer from Delta.

The small blue bars represent the vaccinated population who experience disease, hospitalization and death as a result of breakthrough infection. It’s like comparing an ant to an elephant.

Point number 7.

In my last post I talked about Israeli data showing that Pfizer protection against transmission – i.e. the chance of infecting others even though you yourself are unaffected – drops to about 39% after four months. CDC data shows that if you are fully vaccinated and get breakthrough infection, you will be just as infectious as someone who has no vaccination at all.

This, more than anything else, is why both the US and the UK have mandated mask wearing again. To protect both the unvaccinated AND the vaccinated.

To put this transmission problem into context, we have to remember that these first generation vaccines were designed to reduce serious disease and death if you caught Covid. No one knew whether they would provide any protection against transmission at all.

Then we started getting data from Israel and other places that suggested that yes, not only did the vaccines protect against serious disease and death, they protected against transmission as well! Hooray.

Unfortunately, we did not have all the data back in January and February, 2021. Now in July, we know that the protection against transmission is temporary, at best.

Point number 8.

The implications of this new data are that we will have to continue all the OTHER pandemic precautions as well as getting vaccinated. That means wearing masks in public, social distancing, stringent hygiene, restrictions on congregating in crowds etc. Not the news any of us want to hear, but still miles better than dying.

There will be deaths though. Most will be amongst the anti-everything crowd who won’t get vaccinated, won’t wear masks, won’t accept lockdowns and other public health orders. Sadly there’s not much anyone can do to save those who refuse to be saved.

Our job is to protect ourselves and those we love by continuing to live cautiously until we see what effect booster shots have on Delta. With luck, the boosters will do the trick. If they don’t, we’ll have to live cautiously until the next generation of vaccines are ready.

We’ve been extraordinarily fortunate to get vaccines so quickly, even if they aren’t a magic bullet against Covid. Now we just need to be sensible…and patient. Covid is not finished with us yet. Stay safe. -hugs-

Meeks

References

For a full list of the powerpoint slides leaked from the CDC go to : https://context-cdn.washingtonpost.com/notes/prod/default/documents/54f57708-a529-4a33-9a44-b66d719070d9/note/753667d6-8c61-495f-b669-5308f2827155.#page=1

For Dr John Campbell’s explanation of the CDC powerpoint slides [this is where I based my own understanding of the data] go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XsRdICFRHcc


Vegetarian red sauce for pasta

I’m writing this recipe for myself as much as anyone because this is the first time I’ve managed to make a really great tasting, purely vegetarian red sauce. And I want to remember how I did it! lol

So, just had the sauce with pasta for dinner, and it was rich and delicious. Please note though, I called this a ‘vegetarian’ red sauce. Not vegan. The ingredients include a bit of butter and some cream cheese. That said, you could leave out those two ingredients and I think it would still taste as good, just perhaps not as ‘rich’.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 a brown onion, chopped fine
  • 1/3 of a red onion [leftover] chopped fine [the red onion adds a bit of sweetness but if you don’t have, simply add a bit more brown onion]
  • 1 medium tomato with seeds removed and chopped fine
  • 1/2 a sweet red capsicum [bell pepper?] chopped fine
  • 2 large cloves of garlic – minced [I do it with a knife rather than the squeezy gadget as you lose too much garlic otherwise]
  • 1 sachet of Leggo’s tomato paste [2 tablespoons]
  • 1 teaspoon of sweet paprika powder [the Hungarian one if you can manage it]
  • a pinch of chilli flakes [for just a little bit of ‘heat’. Substitute a small pinch of cayenne if you don’t have the flakes]
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 teaspoon of butter
  • 2 tablespoons of peanut oil [or olive if you prefer]
  • cream cheese [2 of the Philadelphia Snack tubs, 34gms each] or 2 tablespoons of either cream or sour cream

Method

  1. Place the oil in the frying pan with the butter [if using] and very gently cook the two kinds of onions and garlic until the onions are almost translucent. I used a heavy cast iron frying pan which gives a very even heat. If you don’t have one, turn the heat down as low as possible so the onions ‘sweat’ very gently. You do NOT want them to brown.
  2. Add the capsicum, chopped tomato, salt, black pepper and chilli flakes and keep cooking until the two vegetables have softened a little.
  3. Add the tomato paste and stir in.
  4. Add the paprika powder and stir in.
  5. Add about 1 tablespoon of water and stir in [just to stop the paprika from burning].
  6. Cover with a lid and cook for about 5 minutes.
  7. Check the sauce and add about 1/4 cup of water. Cover and cook while you boil the pasta.
  8. After the pasta has cooked [approx. 15 minutes], check the sauce. It should now be fairly thick. Taste and adjust the seasonings if necessary.
  9. Take the sauce off the heat and swirl in the cream cheese [or cream or sour cream].
  10. Drain the pasta, place in a large bowl and pour over the sauce. Toss and voila! Dinner is served.

I never seem to put enough salt into anything I cook so you will probably have to sprinkle some over the pasta after serving. From a health point of view, this is probably not such a bad thing as too much salt isn’t good for. 😉

And finally, you may have noticed… that there is no picture of the dish. That’s because we ate it all before I remembered that I needed one. Sorry.

cheers
Meeks


Delta – the virus bomb

On Saturday, July 24, 2021, roughly 3,000 men, women and children marched through my city, demanding ‘freedom’.

Freedom from what? From a lockdown designed to save the mostly unvaccinated population of Melbourne from the Delta variant of Covid19.

Virtually none of those selfish, stupid people were wearing a mask. None of them were ‘socially distancing’. And all of them thought there was ‘no danger’. No danger to them and no danger to the rest of us.

No danger from Delta… -grinds teeth-

I’m not going to rant about those people. Instead, I’m going to address the criminal misinformation they were fed about Covid19:

  1. The first thing to understand is that the virus infecting NSW, Victoria and South Australia now is not the same as the version we fought during the first wave, back in March 2020. It’s a mutation of the virus called ‘Delta’.
  2. Delta is miles more infectious than the original version of Covid because it incubates faster and has a hugely greater viral load.
  3. Delta’s incubation period – i.e. the time it takes for the virus to start infecting others – is roughly half of what happened with the original version. It’s now about 30 hours.
  4. Delta’s viral load – i.e. how much active virus is being manufactured by the body and shed outside the body – is 1260 times more than the original version. Just think about that number for a moment. 😦
  5. Delta can also infect via super fine aerosol spray [from just breathing], droplets [heavier drops from say sneezing] and contamination of surfaces [from droplets landing on surfaces and staying active].

Taken all together, this means that many of the things we thought we knew about Covid no longer apply.

We used to think that Covid only spread via droplets and surface contamination. We now know that Delta can and does spread via super fine aerosol spray. That’s how Delta has been escaping from hotel quarantine.

We used to think that children and the ‘young’ were pretty much safe from dying of Covid. Wrong. Recent data from Indonesia shows that children and the young are much more likely to become sick and die if they catch Delta.

We used to think that being outdoors, or in a properly ventilated area would protect us from Covid. We now know that Delta can and does spread outdoors. The spread from the MCG is proof of that. Air circulation does dilute the viral load, but wherever large groups of people come into close contact, spread does occur.

Imagine this, you’re walking along in a crowd of people, completely unaware that the person directly in front of you has Delta. Maybe they don’t know they have it either. As they breathe out and move on, you walk through the air that just came out of their mouths! If you breathe in at that moment, you’re breathing in the Delta virus.

3000 people in Melbourne may have done just that on Saturday, and not just for a few seconds, but for the entire time they marched through our streets. Some of those people are just plain nuts – you would not believe the conspiracy theories being bandied about. Most though, have probably been taken in by the misuse of statistics from overseas.

I saw one tweet on Twitter touting the fact that the percentage of people who died from Covid was tiny, so there was ‘no danger’. Those stats came from the CDC in the US and were totally misleading. The percentage of Covid deaths out of a population of 350,000,000 may be ‘a little number’, but that’s only because there are just 100 numbers in a percentage – from 1 to 100. The number of deaths, however, is huge – over 600,000. That’s over half a million people like you and me.

For those 600,000+ people in the US, the danger was very and very fatal.

The only thing that stops us from facing the same danger is luck. Or lockdowns. I may be a control freak, but know which I prefer.

Getting back to those 3000 people in Melbourne, many were saying they had been fully vaccinated and therefore should not be locked up with the rest of us. I sincerely hope they were vaccinated, because otherwise they could die if they catch Delta. The latest victim was a young woman in her 30s who had no underlying health problems.

But being vaccinated yourself does not mean you can’t be infected by Delta. And it definitely does not mean you can’t pass Delta on to those who are not vaccinated. Recent data coming out of Israel shows that whilst vaccines continue to stop people from becoming sick and needing to be ventilated, their ability to stop transmission of the virus reduces drastically with time.

How drastically? Down to about 39% after 4 months. Four months. That means anyone who is not fully vaccinated will be in danger…from those who are vaccinated…after just four months. And this is data about the Pfizer vaccine! The gold standard for protecting health and reducing transmission.

But the worst news is that Delta may not be the worst variant of Covid we have to face. In Peru, almost all of those with Covid have been infected by a variant called Lambda. And Lambda is spreading out of South America, with cases now found in Texas.

No one knows which variant will prove to be the winner in this war of the viruses, but being vaccinated is no longer the magic bullet we all hoped it would be. In a few years time, Generation XX of the vaccines may stop transmission as well as hospitalisations, but this first generation of vaccines can’t, or at least, it can’t stop transmission permanently.

What does this all mean for us? It means we need virtually 100% vaccination rates – across all age groups, including children. It also means boosters, boosters, and more boosters. And it may mean that wearing masks in certain settings becomes the norm rather than the exception.

But don’t take my word for it. Check out these videos from Dr John Campbell:

And re viral load:

As for the fools marching through our streets on Saturday…I really wish there were a vaccine for stupid. These people actually saw themselves as ‘heroes’ who would be applauded by the rest of us.

Well… 10,000 of the rest of us contacted Crime Stoppers about the protests. Surprise, surprise.

Meeks


Reviewing books by Joel Shepherd and Jonathan P. Brazee

I write reviews in the hope that others will discover new authors and new worlds into which they can escape. Military anything has never been my cup of tea, but over the last few years, I’ve discovered a number of authors who have made me change my mind about the genre: Elliot Kay, Chris James, D.Wallace Peach, and now Joel Shepherd and Jonathan P. Brazee.

I’m still a long way from being a military enthusiast, but a damn good story is a damn good story, no matter what genre it occupies.

The two books I’m reviewing today both fall into the ‘military’ category, and both feature a female protagonist, but otherwise they are quite different. Sasha, by Australian author Joel Shepherd, is what I would call a ‘military fantasy’ in that it is very low tech with cavalry charges and swords rather than guns and tanks etc. Fire Ant, on the other hand, is ‘military scifi’ with lots of space battles. I enjoyed them both, and I think you might too. 🙂

First up is my review of Sasha:

I came to Sasha from the author’s Spiral Wars science fiction series because science fiction is my passion, but…in Sasha I’ve found a story even /better/. And a world so rich with detail that it feels real.

One of the reasons the world building is so amazingly good is because, like Dune, it contains everything – politics, multiple cultures, religions, belief systems, and…languages. Not just a few silly words made up to make you feel as if the language is real, but enough detail to make it obvious that the author /created/ a language for the story.

Do any of these details hit you over the head, slowing down the story and boring the pants off those who only want to read about the battles?

No. Shepherd has woven the world building in to the action so you absorb it much like you would absorb the world building in a movie – naturally, a bit at a time.

That same mastery of story is evident in how the author builds the characters. They all have a past. They all have quirks. They all have virtues and faults, but again, discovering the characters is part of the story.

I am more impressed than I can say. More importantly, I LOVE this story, and I’m about to buy more of it.
Cannot recommend Sasha more highly.

The next review is of Fire Ant:

I didn’t know what to expect from Fire Ant, especially when I realised that the main character was a female…a female written by a male. Would she end up being a man disguised as a woman, as so many of these kinds of ‘kick arse’ characters are?

I’m pleased to report that the author, Jonathon P. Brazee, has created a female character who is kick arse but in a genuinely female way.

The story is pretty much a coming of age tale in space, but deep enough to make it enjoyable even for oldies long past that age. 🙂

I love it when I discover new authors. It’s like finding buried treasure!

Have a great weekend everyone,

cheers
Meeks


How to download… SAFELY

We’re all aware of the need to be careful when we download something from the internet, but how does ‘being careful’ actually work?

In this short post, I’ll show you how to enjoy the benefits of the internet as safely as possible. The screenshots in this how-to are all taken from Windows 7, so if you’re not running Windows 7 the details may be different, but the core principles will be the same. Onwards!

Step 1

Do not rely on your Windows firewall etc to keep your computer safe. Buy a good, reputable antivirus software and install it. I alternate between Kaspersky antivirus and BitDefender antivirus, which are both reputed to be the ‘best’ at the moment. From memory, both cost under $50 US for 12 months protection. That price includes both the software itself and the updates that keep it current with information about all the latest viruses. Antivirus without updates is like a car with all four tyres deflated.

Step 2

Install your antivirus and make sure it can access updates automatically. You may think you’ll do it every day, but the road to hell is paved with good intentions…right?

Step 3

Once your antivirus software is installed and updated, it will work quietly in the background, keeping your pc safe. BUT! You can also use it to ‘manually’ check every app you download from the internet.

This check should be carried out before you actually ‘run’ the app or install it. How? So glad you asked. 😀

Step 3a

Download the app and save it to a location on your computer. It should look something like this:

Step 3b

Once you download and save the app., use Windows Explorer to find it. My location will look different to yours. Don’t worry, just keep looking until you find the app on your computer.

Step 3c

Once you’ve found the app, right click on the thumbnail [picture] of it. This will open the right click menu as shown below:

Again, my computer will look different to yours, but every version of Windows I have ever used has a right click menu, and on it you will find the name of your antivirus software.

Step 3d

Click the name of your antivirus software and you should see a little sub-menu. On that little sub-menu you will find an option that allows you to scan the app. Click the scan option.

Most reputable apps will only take a short time to scan and the scan will come up as ‘clean’. When it does, you’re ready to use the app. If, however, the scan comes up with an error of some sort – DO NOT USE THE APP!!!! Delete it immediately because you’re better safe than sorry.

If the app is one you’ve paid good money for, contact the publisher and explain that your antivirus has found an error. A good publisher will thank you and send you a ‘clean’ version.

Okay, that’s it. Learn to love your right click menu. It really can save your bacon. 😉

cheers
Meeks


6 Ways Writers Protect Their Online Privacy – Virtual Book Blast For Laws of Nature & Guest Post by Jacqui Murray…

Excellent advice about online security from Jacqui Murray. We all use social media, especially during this pandemic, but the big tech giants make their money from selling our info to the ad networks. They’ve turned us into their ‘product’.
Jacqui Murray outlines some simple things you can do to protect your loved ones even if you don’t think you have ‘anything to hide’.

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

If we humans aren’t giving away our personal information (as we do on FB, Tiktok, Instagram, Twitter and every other social media outlet), we’re having it stolen without our permission and sold to those who mean us harm. This is a bigger deal for writers than most because:
1. we have copyrighted files that provide us an income
2. we provide access to our income streams on our digital devices. If we’re hacked, the bad guy can shut us out of those and divert the monies from them to himself.

Most of us have found our books being given away or sold on nefarious platforms that obtained them illegally and are now profiting from our labor. Because of this, I spend more time than most Normal People trying to secure my online environment.

Here are six easy steps everyone should implement. To keep this article as short as…

View original post 2,940 more words


Friendly Jordies – Blood water

This should be a must-watch video for every Australian because Australia is the driest continent on Earth, and water is life, our life:

Illegal harvesting of flood plain water in the northern part of the country is killing off the food production located in the south. And who benefits? A few very rich individuals and some multinationals that play with our water as if it were the stock market:

I knew some of this from the Four Corners report that aired in 2017:

https://www.abc.net.au/4corners/pumped/8727826

But Four Corners had to be a little…circumspect. The people in the Friendly Jordie documentary pull no punches. Our water is being stolen to enrich a few people and organisations. The theft of our water is being facilitated by politicians in the National Party, which is part of the Coalition currently in charge of politics at the national level.

Think this only affects a few small communities in the back of whoop whoop? Wrong. All of us city people will be affected too…when food becomes more and more expensive. By then though, it will be much too late.

Please! Watch this video and pass it on to others. The corruption has to be stopped, and we’re the only ones who can ultimately stop it.

My thanks to @RonniSalt from Twitter for pointing me at this Friendly Jordies video.

Cheers
Meeks


Right to Kill, by John Barlow

I just submitted a review of ‘Right to Kill’ on amazon.com. Simply put, I loved it. Read on for the full review:

I’ve been a fan of John Barlow since first reading ‘Hope Road’ quite a few years ago. So when I was asked to write a review of his latest story, I knew it would be good, I just never expected it to be /this/ good.

Like all three books in the Hope Road series, the characters in ‘Right to Kill’ all feel as if you’ve known them, or people like them, for ages. Some you would never include on your Christmas list, but others feel so real you want to hug them, laugh with them, cry with them.

The main character, Detective Sergeant Joe Romano feels utterly real too. He’s smart and principled, a /good/ man, but he’s also a little bit broken and a little bit lost. The pillars of his life have shifted and he’s treading water, going through the motions in the hope that he’ll rediscover some meaning to life.

When Craig Shaw is found burnt to a crisp in his Mum’s old Corolla, it’s Joe Romano’s colleagues in the Leeds police force who seem to be going through the motions. Why? Because Craig Shaw is a drug dealer and general low life, and the world is probably better off without him.

But does anyone really deserve to die?

As far as Joe Romano is concerned, the answer is no and he sets out to prove it.

How Joe proves it will keep you reading long past the point when you know you should turn out the light and go to sleep. I know it had that effect on me, and I can honestly say I did not see the ending coming. And yet, Barlow told this story so well that there was a huge sense of ‘oh, of course!’ once the identity of the killer is revealed.

That fulfilling sense of resolution is why I call this story the perfect thriller. We learn as Joe learns, clue by clue. We may not be as smart as Joe in putting the pieces of the jigsaw together, but once he does, we know it’s right. It could be no other way.

Telling enough but not telling too much is a tightrope without a safety net. Walking that tightrope is damn hard, but John Barlow makes it seem effortless.

This is a story I would recommend to anyone. I wish I could give it a 6 out of 5.

The link to ‘Right to Kill’ on amazon.com is below:

Have a great weekend everyone!

cheers
Meeks


“You are NOT a visual learner”

The take home message from this video is that there is no…noNO research that backs up the claims made for ‘learning styles’. Most people learn best when they are provided with a kind of multi-media presentation – visual, auditory, and reading. And, of course, in some subjects, kinetic [doing] is vital.

I’ve long been critical of education theories in general because they’re airy fairy at best and actually harmful at worst. Pigeon holing students as this type of learner or that, denies them the full range of information which might make something ‘click’.

As teachers, we are performers whose task it is to engage the audience. And students are that audience. Yes, it’s exhausting, but without that engagement there will be no learning.

I qualified as a secondary school teacher back in the 70’s so I have no idea what teacher training is like now, but if I had my way, I’d recruit teachers from amongst the acting community. From that base, I’d then teach them the other skills teachers need. And I’d recognize their unique skills and dedication by paying them what they’re worth. Only then will the best and brightest teach the movers and shakers of the future.

Not-so-humble
Meeks


Pleasure and Pain, the carrot and the stick

Philosophers have been talking about human motivation since the time of Aristotle. Are our actions motivated by reason or feelings? Logic or instinct?

As a writer and someone fascinated by biology, I’m hedging my bets a little. I think most of us are motivated by feelings, but I believe many of those feelings are learned responses and as such, can be influenced by reason. Furthermore, I believe all warm-blooded creatures on this planet ‘tick’ the same way. We are all driven to seek out those things that give us pleasure and learn to avoid those that give us pain.

That’s pretty basic. In humans, the fear response – i.e. I-must-avoid-xx-because-it-is-painful – is controlled by the amygdala, an incredibly powerful part of the brain. The amygdala only has to experience something painful once. After that, it will warn us with ‘fear’ whenever we are in danger of repeating that experience. This is a great survival trait in the wild, but not that great in an ordered, civilized [with a huge grain of salt] world. Just think about phobias about spiders or snakes etc.

On the other side of the equation, a newborn baby’s suckle response is instinctive, but most other pleasures are actually learned. What baby is born liking ice-cream? -cough- Or alcohol? And that is a nice segue into learning to like things that go against our survival instincts.

“I tender as my first item of evidence, your Honour, the human love affair with motorbikes, motorcars and other machines that go fast and are highly dangerous.”

You’ll notice that apart from alcohol, I haven’t talked about pleasures that are, or become, addictive. Addiction is, to a large extent, a physiological disorder rather than a ‘choice’ whereas driving fast cars is something we choose to do for a variety of reasons.

But learning to like things that may be bad for us is not restricted to humans. All warm-blooded species to it, even those so-called lower order animals that are said to function solely on instinct.

Having grown up with animals, I’ve never been comfortable with the idea of pure instinct – i.e. the mechanical performance of actions without any element of choice [my definition only]. Am I trying to say that my dog and cat use logic like we do? No. But the mere fact that both species share my home, and actually seem to seek out each other’s company, is a fair indication that something has overcome their instinctive fear of and aggression towards each other.

Taking personal experience one step further, all the birds in and around my garden know two things about me:

  1. I put tasty things out on the compost, and
  2. I would never harm them

One magpie has taken this trust a step further and will take scraps of meat from my hand. I should also add that none of my magpie neighbours dive bomb me during nesting season. They will dive on Golli and Mogi [cat and dog respectively], but never on me.

Yet this lack of aggression is far from normal. I still remember walking through a park when the Offspring was very little and being chased by a pair of very angry magpies. I suspect most Australians will have their own stories of magpie aggression, so the behaviour of ‘my’ magpies is not ‘normal’, instinctive behaviour.

One of the most extreme examples of such counter-instinct behaviour is the story of the lioness who adopted a baby oryx [a kind of deer or antelope]. The story has a sad ending, but not because she ate the baby:

Closer to home, here’s a video about a cat that adopts ducklings:

So if all these examples are neither pure instinct nor the result of reason, then what are they?

You might say that in these two cases of cross species adoption, mother ‘instinct’ becomes stronger than survival instinct – i.e. knowing what to kill in order to eat. I prefer to think that the pleasure of mothering over-rides the instinct to kill for food.

Does the lioness reason her way to action? I very much doubt it, but then how much reason do we use when we put our own lives at risk to rescue a child from a burning house, or to drag someone from shark infested waters, or any other act of heroism you care to name?

Frankly, if reason were our motivator, no child would ever be rescued, no hero would ever be presented with a medal. Reason would tell us ‘this is crazy, don’t do it’.

So does that mean reason has no part to play?

Personally, I believe that reason builds a habit of belief, and it’s that belief that over-rides pure instinct. What kind of belief? How about courage, or honour, or the distinction between right and wrong, good and bad?

When we uphold those beliefs, and survive the experience, we are rewarded by a sense of satisfaction or pride. That is a form of emotional pleasure. On the other hand, if we don’t uphold those beliefs, for whatever reason, we are haunted by feelings of guilt and shame, both of which are examples of emotional pain.

I suspect that logic and reason are like muscles, the more we use them, the stronger they become, allowing us to over-ride some of our instinctive reactions to pleasure and pain. But…however we may rationalise our actions after the fact, the driver of those actions is still going to be a feeling rather than logic.

I’ve been thinking a hell of a lot about motivation lately, but I know reality is far more complex than the ideas I’ve explored in this post. I’d love to hear what you think. Are we rational creatures or puppets driven by biology…or maybe something in between?

cheers
Meeks


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