Questions: How much does a single child-killing drone cost? How much do tanks and armored calls for small cities cost? Answer: a lot more than NSF grants to study Avian Reproduction—so let’s not start sensationally trivializing National Science Foundation Grants again, no more “Golden Fleece” Awards Please—


On Mar 26, 2013, at 4:25 PM, a dear friend of mine wrote:

My Sincere Answer:

         I think that anti-intellectual sensationalist articles like this are targeted at the 12 year old adolescent in all of us, ooo those old perverted Yale Scientists are studying duck dicks? That’s gross; can you believe they got government money for that?”  (Such expressions are often followed about 24 hours later with “Mom, Dad, can I go to a real Ivy League College?  I want to be a Biologist,” all the while hoping you’ve forgotten why he’d have that subject on her or his mind at all…)

         But studying animal reproduction is in fact the foundation of all biological science.  Carl von Linné’s (“Carolus Linnaeus'”, 1707-1778) great taxonomic classification system of all living creatures was originally called “obscene” because it focused precisely on the abilities and proclivities of animals in different populations to mate with each other and produce viable offspring as the boundaries between species.   For better or for worse, the morphological “fit” between zoological genitalia is an important aspect of Linnaean Systema Naturae analysis, and of every single study of every single species of living creature (or the functionally equivalent reproductive morphology of plants, fungi, bacteria, or even viruses).  

           Like many naturalists of the time, in particular Erasmus Darwin, Linnaeus attached great significance to plant sexual reproduction, which had only recently been rediscovered. Linnaeus drew some rather astonishing parallels between plant sexuality and human love: he wrote in 1729 how

The flowers’ leaves. . . serve as bridal beds which the Creator has so gloriously arranged, adorned with such noble bed curtains, and perfumed with so many soft scents that the bridegroom with his bride might there celebrate their nuptials with so much the greater solemnity. . .

             The sexual basis of Linnaeus’s plant classification was controversial in its day; although easy to learn and use, it clearly did not give good results in many cases. Some critics also attacked it for its sexually explicit nature: one opponent, botanist Johann Siegesbeck, called it “loathsome harlotry”. (Linnaeus had his revenge, however; he named a small, useless European weed Siegesbeckia.)  The Linnean system has endured nearly three centuries now in its method of hierarchical classification and custom of binomial nomenclature.

         And then now, after all, Sister Dear, the expression, “fuck a duck” has become a fairly important phrase in colloquial and vernacular English slang. 

          But seriously, the above-linked Fox News opinion is typical know-nothing NeoCon Distraction by Drivel technique and mere ignorant doggerel.   As the only recipient of a National Science Foundation graduate fellowship in archaeology for the year 1980, and as one who is not at all ashamed of his association with or involvement in some fairly obscure and easily misunderstood scientific projects, I can tell you that the National Science Foundation (NSF) was set up to sponsor academics on the cutting edge to expand the frontiers of science.  

          The competition for these NSF grants is ferocious and peer review by other academics is brutal.  Politicians looking for trivia to make headlines have, unfortunately, often taken aim at NSF and destroyed some valuable and worthwhile research programs.  

         One in particular that I knew about (when I had an NSF graduate fellowship in anthropology and archaeology) was “The Great Tzotzil Maya Dictionary of San Lorenzo Zinacantán in Chiapas.”  Senator William Proxmire gave this “the Golden Fleece” award and all-but-destroyed a very brilliant scholar’s life, a fine academic linguist’s career (that would Dr. Robert M. Laughlin, Chairman Emeritus of Anthropology at the Smithsonian)

          What is $300,000-$400,000 out of the US government budget.  

           Does that pay for one single drone to kill children in Afghanistan or Iraq, maybe to be brought back here and turned on us?  

            Does that pay for the mere transportation of a single tank or armored car to small towns and cities all over America?  

            How many hollow point bullets to point at Citizens who demand their constitutional rights can you buy for the cost of a potentially ground breaking study of avian reproduction?  (After all the article did say the grant funded studies of duck penises, “among other things.”  

            So all I can say is “fuck a duck,” I would rather see that money going to harmless studies of ornithological anatomy and science than to buy more hollow point bullets which may ultimately be aimed at and used for the purpose of ripping up my chest where high blood pressure, electromyocardial tachycardia and general heart disease has failed.  

          I think the Constitution can be fairly reasonably construed to authorize the government to promote the advancement of science and the useful arts.  

        Does the constitution authorize the President to decide that you and I and most of our Patriotic American friends are terrorists who need to be assassinated without trial? 

          Let’s focus on real problems for a change and, you know, “fuck a duck”:  if the government spends a tiny percentage of the fake money it creates to sponsor extremely obscure biological research into the mating habits of certain birds, let’s be thankful they didn’t spend those dollars on hollow point bullets or developing other new technologies to spy on us or control us, and so let it be. Ainsi soit il. 

Ich bin der Geist der Stehts Verneint und das mit Rech

Tierra Limpia/Deo Vindice

Matthew 10:34-39

Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.

He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.

John 12:23-27 

Verily, verily, I say unto you, Unless a grain of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.

He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.

            If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.

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