Ontogeny Recapitulates Phylogeny
January 29, 2020
Daily Pnut typically gets completed in the very early morning hours. These morning hours usually result in several feelings: focused effort to ensure one can complete a quality product before giving into the beautiful and restorative act of sleep. And another mood of reflection given the quiet and loneliness of being awake at such a time. This edition resulted in feelings of the latter.
Growing up in Tallahassee as a teenager I (Daily Pnut’s Tim) often remember getting home from high school and falling asleep around 6pm from exhaustion after school which was followed by brain/trivia bowl practice followed by boxing practice (I still think of trivia bowl as one of the funnest and most fulfilling activities I ever participated in and is a major reason why I think learning and reading is a fun activity. And thank goodness I practiced boxing before going to West Point so I learned not to fear getting into a rink—elimination of fear like everything can be trained).
School is an exhausting experience. As a parent I only now appreciate how socially, physically, and mentally exhausting school is. Being around people all day is tiring. And I see how exhausted my young kids are after school (the first thing they need and want is food).
After getting home from high school I would sleep until midnight and then wake up to complete my high school homework. And what kept me company in the middle of the night was listening to BBC radio which my local radio station would switch to in the midnight hours hours (WFSU Tallahassee, 88.9 FM MHz) or my own rock music mix (which at the time was heavily grunge or The Cure).
I now thank my parents for my NPR and public radio listening habits. As a young kid I was essentially forced to listen to this while we were in the car as they controlled the radio dial. Today, I still listen to NPR and public radio when working in the middle of the night, albeit via the NPR One app (which I heavily recommend). Maybe because I’m reflecting on high school, midnight work, how I inherited listening habits from my parents, and how little has changed but not, the phrase that comes to mind is a term I had to study in high school biology (a topic I hated at the time because I was forced to learn it for the grade and I felt my teacher had it out for me, but it’s a topic I’m very much interested in these days and a subject I would love to learn simply for the love of learning about humanity): “ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny.”
Life is full of surprises. It’s now been almost 20 years since I graduated from high school (class of 2000). Little would I have thought that I would have served overseas in the same areas of the world that I listened to with BBC radio as a teenager or studied in world history class. Or travel around the world and the USA. And it would have been impossible and ludicrous to have predicted that I would still be working in the early morning hours to help complete homework — Daily Pnut.
“As our mother earth is a mere speck in the sunbeam in the illimitable universe, so man himself is but a tiny grain of protoplasm in the perishable framework of organic nature. [This] clearly indicates the true place of man in nature, but it dissipates the prevalent illusion of man’s supreme importance and the arrogance with which he sets himself apart from the illimitable universe and exalts himself to the position of its most valuable element.”
“An irrefutable proof that such single-celled primaeval animals really existed as the direct ancestors of Man, is furnished according to the fundamental law of biogeny by the fact that the human egg is nothing more than a simple cell.”
“Civilisation and the life of nations are governed by the same laws as prevail throughout nature and organic life.”
– Ernst Haeckel
Does The Middle East Plan Meet In The Middle Or Stray A Little East?
On Tuesday, as the impeachment trial droned on over at the Capitol Building, President Trump and Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu were in the East Room of the White House. The occasion was Trump’s announcement of his long-awaited Middle East peace plan. No one representing Palestine’s leadership was present.
Trump described the proposal as a “win-win” for both sides, and a “realistic” two state solution. Under the plan Israel would control a unified Jerusalem as its capital, and not have to uproot any of its settlements in the West Bank. Meanwhile Trump promised to provide $50 billion in international investment to build a new Palestinian entity — with limited sovereignty — and open an embassy in its new state. In his speech Trump insisted his plan would be good for Palestinians, calling on President Mahmoud Abbas to join in talks to advance the proposal.
Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner worked for the past three years on this latest US effort to settle the 70 -plus-year conflict between Israel and Palestine. But this proposal is a sharp departure from America’s past approaches, which supported only modest adjustments in Israeli borders drawn after the 1967 war, and kept alive the goal of granting Palestinians a full-fledged state. Now, the idea of leaving Jerusalem under Israeli control was, to Palestinian leaders, the final nail in the coffin. The plan was rejected shortly after it was announced.
Analysts described the 80-page, pro-Israel plan as a political document rather than a serious blueprint for peace — something useful for election campaigning by a president in the middle of an impeachment trial and a prime minister under criminal indictment.
- Trump’s Middle East peace plan: High stakes and low chances (BBC)
- How Trump’s Mideast Peace Plan Developed (WSJ, $)
Another Crash But One Overseas And Without a NBA Star
- The bodies of two US service members were recovered Tuesday from the site of an American surveillance plane that crashed Monday in Taliban-controlled territory in Afghanistan. The flight recorder was also retrieved. Several rescue attempts were thwarted Monday by bad weather, heavily-mined roads and attacks by the Taliban.
- One spokesman claimed insurgents had shot down the plane, but others said the plane “crashed.” Afghan forces and Taliban fighters clashed again Tuesday before US forces could reach the site of the wreckage.
- A statement from the US military said: “the remains were found near the crash site, treated with dignity and respect by the local Afghan community, in accordance with their culture.” The statement also said that while the cause of the crash is still under investigation, there’s no indication so far it was brought down by enemy fire. (WaPo)
Additional World News
- Is Singapore’s ‘perfect’ economy coming apart? (Nikkei)
- How Putin Controls Russia (New Yorker) & Russia Exerts Growing Influence in Africa, Worrying Many in the West (NYT, $)
- Africa is humanitarian ‘blind spot’: the world’s top 10 forgotten crises (Guardian)
- Kenya’s New Digital IDs May Exclude Millions of Minorities (NYT, $)
Leon Neal via Getty Images
No Spoilers Please
- Before President Trump’s impeachment trial started, Senate majority Leader Mitch McConnell made it clear he was working hand-in-glove with Trump’s legal defense team and Senate Republicans to quickly acquit the president. What he wasn’t told was that the White House had had a copy of former national security adviser John Bolton’s soon-to-be-published manuscript for nearly a month, and knew it contained explosive allegations about the president.
- So when it came to light Sunday night that Bolton claimed Trump told him directly that US security aid to Ukraine was conditioned on an investigation of the president’s political rivals, McConnell was caught flat-footed. As Bolton’s claim could effectively blow up Trump’s main defense, almost immediately the president’s supporters started accusing Bolton of the leak, and trashing his motivations and reputation.
- Then Monday night at an event in Florida, former White House chief of staff and retired Marine Corps general John Kelly said: “If John Bolton says that in the book I believe John Bolton.” Kelly said Bolton is a “man of integrity and great character” who “always gave the president the unvarnished truth.” (VanityFair, CNN)
Game Of Porcelain Thrones
- It may have escaped most Americans’ attention, but apparently foreigners want to know why people in the US are in love with bathrooms. Internet sites like Quora and Reddit have long threads in which users swap theories on “What’s the American obsession with bathrooms all about?” and “Why do houses in the US have so many bathrooms?”
- An Australian who edits opinion pieces for BuzzFeed News tweeted: “There are so many incredible America decadences that are mind boggling to foreigners when we first arrive here, and the sheer number of bathrooms in suburban houses is very high on the list.”
- An economist at Zillow says: “We went from two people per bathroom to one person per bathroom in the last 50 years,” meaning the number of bathrooms per person has doubled. He continues: “That’s amazing, because postwar America was already rich and booming, and we just, you know, kept building more bathrooms.”
- Apparently it’s not going to stop either, even as American families and households are getting smaller. Even in apartments and condos across the country, bathrooms continue to multiply. (Atlantic)
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