Friday, November 27, 2015

3rd Installment of the Credo Poem

I've written seven more quatrains of my Credo poem. These can be seen below. I've also created a page that shows the entire work in progress, i.e. everything that I've written for it so far. I plan to update that page as I write more quatrains.

Scripture never mentions protons,
Plasma, X-rays, DNA.
Neither does it talk of photons,
Cells or nuclear decay.

No America or Britain
In the Bible or Koran.
Not a word in them was written
About China or Japan.

One could get a slight suspicion
That these books are not the works
Of an all-knowing magician
Or his honest, zealous clerks,

But are rather just collections
Of some ancient tribal lore -
Merely accurate reflections
Of the ignorance of yore.

*

Yet the men who bash religion
Are a bunch of clever fools.
There is much more than a smidgen
Of true wisdom in "Gods"' rules.

Atheism is self-defeating:
Godless people have few kids.
Deadly illnesses are eating
Those who do what "God" forbids.

Faith evolved through countless ages,
Growing in organic ways.
The advice on scripture's pages
Is still useful in our days.

The Credo Poem

I'm writing a long poem in which I'm trying to describe my political and philosophical outlook. So far I only have 25 quatrains, which you can see below. I will add new ones to this page as they come along.

                      1

Holy books are filled with fiction.
Wishful thinking, clumsy lies
And internal contradiction
Make their authors seem unwise.

Whether one God or eleven
Rule their model of the skies,
They treat fate, the Earth and heaven
As if they had ears and eyes.

As if they could understand us.
Answer pleas, forgive mistakes,
Pity, comfort and command us.
Mend our hearts and sooth our aches.

2

Our big brains evolved to give us
A leg up on other men,
So that they don't outlive us
And their genes don't spread again.

So we're good at understanding
Human minds and human acts,
But much worse at comprehending
Random chance and cold, hard facts.

When we scream at our devices,
Tell a keyboard to be damned
Or attribute human vices
To a printer that has jammed

We act much like those believers
Who beg heaven, earth and fate
To deliver them from fevers
Or to set their children straight.

3

Scripture never mentions protons,
Plasma, X-rays, DNA.
Neither does it talk of photons,
Cells or nuclear decay.

No America or Britain
In the Bible or Koran.
Not a word in them was written
About China or Japan.

One could get a slight suspicion
That these books are not the works
Of an all-knowing magician
Or his honest, zealous clerks,

But are rather just collections
Of some ancient tribal lore -
Merely accurate reflections
Of the ignorance of yore.

4

Yet the men who bash religion
Are a bunch of clever fools.
There is much more than a smidgen
Of true wisdom in "Gods"' rules.

Atheism is self-defeating:
Godless people have few kids.
Deadly illnesses are eating
Those who do what "God" forbids.

                     5

Faith evolved through countless ages,
Growing in organic ways.
The advice on scripture's pages
Is still useful in our days.

Every modern recreation
Of morality from scratch,
On a rational foundation,
Has some flaw, some fatal catch.

There are limits to our powers.
Anyone can quickly tell
Real plants from plastic flowers.
We don't copy nature well.

We cannot explain tradition
Any better than a spleen
Can expound upon its mission
Of maintaining our blood clean.

You don't have to understand it.
It's much deeper than one man.
Even though no mind has planned it,
It's worth more than any plan.

I wrote the following part first, but I want to put it close to the end of the finished poem, many pages after what you see above.

                     N

We could learn to live forever,
Reach the stars, begin afresh.
We could find a way to sever
Our connection to mere flesh.

We could some day figure out
All of Universe's laws.
And then briskly set about
Fixing its most glaring flaws.

We could master all the powers
Men have long ascribed to Gods.
We'll become Gods. Fate is ours!
We can start to set the odds.

                     N+1

Man is ruled by thieves and liars.
Parasites control his thought.
Mankind's future has no buyers.
All these dreams will come to nought.

Gullibility will never
Be from altruism detached.
Such rich pickings for the clever!
The divine is overmatched.

If the Earth's civilization
Ends up gnawed to death by pests,
Suffers early cancellation,
Fades away without bequests,

There may never be another.
Not just like it, but at all.
Space would be a barren mother
Stricken dumb by our great fall.

Last updated on 7/10/17.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Ukrainian Birth Statistics

How much has the Maidan coup and the subsequent war damaged Ukrainian society? The Ukraine's GDP has fallen off a cliff, but that could overstate the extent of the disaster. The Maidan elite is shadier than its predecessors and the amount of lawlessness has gone up under it, so the underground portion of the Ukrainian economy, the kind that's not reflected in most economic statistics, is likely to have grown at the expense of the legal one. 

I think that birth statistics are much more trustworthy than any kind of economic data. I'm sure that almost all births are still recorded in the Ukraine. Their number is sensitive to economic conditions. Births fell precipitously all over the non-Muslim parts of the former USSR in the 1990s. The current economic and political disaster in the Ukraine is similar to that of the 1990s in many ways. So I think that a look at current Ukrainian demographics can shed some light at the severity of the crisis. 

I found official Ukrainian demographic statistics here. They have data up to August of this year. In the table below I compared the number of births in August of 2013, 2014 and 2015 in all the regions of the Ukraine that the junta fully controls. They had data for the two war-torn regions too, but I removed it because it's unlikely to be complete.

Births by Region of the Ukraine

Region Aug 13 Aug 14 Aug 15 2 yr % change
Vinnitsa 1,559 1,414 1,405 -9.9
Volyn 1,412 1,195 1,184 -16.1
Dnepropetrovsk 3,157 3,174 2,792 -11.6
Zhitomir 1,338 1,248 1,138 -14.9
Zakarpatye 1,728 1,591 1,425 -17.5
Zaporozhye 1,677 1,668 1,356 -19.1
Ivano-Frankovsk 1,499 1,427 1,256 -16.2
Kiev (w/o the city) 1,872 1,834 1,714 -8.4
Kirovograd 981 930 781 -20.4
Lvov 2,790 2,630 2,379 -14.7
Nikolayev 1,236 1,209 1,000 -19.1
Odessa 2,723 2,586 2,391 -12.2
Poltava 1,344 1,250 1,177 -12.4
Rovno 1,628 1,501 1,373 -15.7
Sumy 909 914 859 -5.5
Ternopol 1,102 951 895 -18.8
Kharkov 2,412 2,388 2,074 -14.0
Kherson 1,082 1,034 943 -12.8
Khmelnitskiy 1,278 1,228 1,159 -9.3
Cherkasy 1,091 1,064 934 -14.4
Chernovtsy 1,064 1,066 924 -13.2
Chernigov 890 803 809 -9.1
City of Kiev 3,019 2,954 3,017 -0.1




Total: 37,791 36,059 32,985 -12.7

The decline is both broad and serious. 

Most of the children born in August of 2014 must have been conceived at the end of 2013, before the fateful coup. So why would there be fewer of them compared to the number born in August of 2013? Some of the mothers could have moved out of the country or had abortions once the economy tanked. One of the things we're looking at here is emigration. 

Why did births fall the least in Kiev? I'm guessing it's because a lot of the refugees from the war zone settled there. Most of the refugees went to Russia, but some went into the peaceful parts of the Ukraine. It seems plausible that aid to them would be more readily available in the capital. Why did the Sumy region suffer less than most? That I don't know.