Alexis Allen

It's May 17th. The sky this morning was clear, but that was short-lived. Now it's draped in veils, some thick, some thin. The high is 65 degrees, the peas are starting to flower, the first roses have bloomed, and we are in phase one of reopening the economy.

On the radio, they're talking about the social contract. It makes me think: lord, that's a bit of a stretch, invoking the social contract, on the issue of wearing masks indoors?—'s not even a proper law passed by legislature, come now. I tsk: don't go Leviathan on me, Jay.

How many Americans share a common understanding of what the social contract entails? How many people know about de Groot, Hobbes, Rousseau, Locke? Or do most people just think about the preamble to the Declaration of Independence, the parts that specify what they are guaranteed, conveniently glossing over the corresponding duties and obligations? Is that part of a core curriculum somewhere? I only know what I know because I listen to lectures for fun.

I was telling my mother about what life was like in Washington state during the pandemic. I struggled to find the word. "Compliant," she offered. But no, not compliant. I'd say competent, but we have our second cousin Deplorables and block party Narcissists, just like everyone else. (Only a few, only a few.)

"We're tech workers and Navy people around here," I explained this morning, as though employment requires explanation, "I don't know anyone who's out of work, or sick, or picketing. I'm paying my salon as though she was working, as well as my mandolin instructor. If it wasn't for the radio, and the fact that I haven't been on a plane in two months... I assume we're on the long tail now, that they have it under control. People are driving less, and walking more. What else?"

"Why don't the gyms do their classes in the park?" I ask. "Wouldn't it be safe enough outdoors?" She doesn't know.

Human nature is constituted by two essential properties: the desire for self-preservation and the need for society (see DIP, Chap. 2, and DIB, Prol. §§6–7). These two properties temper and inform each other: the desire for self-preservation is limited by the social impulse, so that humans do not naturally seek to maintain and enhance their being at all costs; conversely, the need for the company of other humans is limited by the self-preservation drive, for individuals must naturally strive to secure the means for their well-being. Moreover, the self-preservation drive and the sociability impulse are both emotive and cognitive; they are both non-rational and rational, having the force of unreflective instinct as well as well-thought-out plans. Because we are essentially both social and self-preserving beings, it follows that two things are imperative for our successful existence. We ought to abstain from what belongs to other persons, and we ought to engage in the reasonable pursuit of what genuinely serves our interest. Accordingly, Grotius makes these the first two elements of natural law in the DIB (see Prol. §§8, 10); they form the core of the first four "laws" in the DIP (see Chap. II).

This year, I am attempting to propagate lavender, establish the foundation for a greenhouse, build up my dahlia practice, and grow corn. I've always taken as my standard what my teen self would think if she knew what I'd become, but it's time to decide what my today self would expect of me at retirement, and take advantage of the wisdom I didn't have last time. I wonder sometimes whether the Internet was a distraction from my calling, or whether my interest in horticulture is a penance for what we've done. I suppose I should be grateful; they both have much to teach. But I don't yet know the words and, in those moments when I am willing to be truthful, I think: my brain was molded for the humanities, not these.

Eukaryota > Opisthokonta > Metazoa > Eumetazoa > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata > Gnathostomata > Teleostomi > Euteleostomi > Sarcopterygii > Dipnotetrapodomorpha > Tetrapoda > Amniota > Mammalia > Theria > Eutheria > Boreoeutheria > Laurasiatheria > Carnivora > Feliformia > Felidae > Felinae > Felis

Patterns and processes, patterns and processes, macroevolution is the patterns and processes of evolution above the species level. Phylogeny is the evolutionary relationship between organisms. Taxonomists were grouping organisms into taxa based on what was seen as God's design long before Darwin, and affinities (or similarities) were seen as proof of a natural order before Darwin reinterpreted them as phylogenetic relationships.

The phylogeny of life is not known, and is only inferred based on available evidence, and therefore the branching of taxa is subject to scrutiny. Taxa are grouped according to criteria deemed to reflect relationship, and phylogeny comes from these groupings. For most of history, inference about relationships between organisms was obtained from as wide a net of evidence as was possible. This approach is called evolutionary systematics, because its focus is on drawing evolutionary conclusions based on the data obtained. In the 1950s, attempting to bring more standardization into the field, two new approaches were codified:

All three methods of classification remain in use, but cladistics is currently most favored.

There's a wonderful section on Linneaus in Bill Bryson's "A Short History of Nearly Everything."
This is the life of Alexis Allen. Hello. © 2020, please get your god damned hands off me.