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RE: Say Hello To Occam's Bulldozer



David:

The German words have been mutated through Yiddish, and then again
through Americanization.

The following are my definitions, as figured out by listening to my
parents:

Mensch = A real man, as a man should be/act/etc.  A noble, good, kind,
generous man.

Spiel = To play a game, or just to play (as in children playing).  

As to where the "schm-" prefix comes from, "phyla schmyla" - I think
that it is somewhat based on the word schmuck, which has been defined as
penis, or someone who acts like one.  By taking the first word and
moving the new prefix onto it, you are negating the word - as in who
needs (or cares about) phyla.

It's 2:30 AM here, and I'm sure that I've either over simplified, or
over complicated, or just plain screwed up the definitions, etc.  I'm
sure that someone else can correct me, or point us to website with
Yiddish definitions (or dig up a very rare book on tape: Harlan Ellison
reading his story "I'm Looking for Kadak", which includes many Yiddish
definitions_.

If anyone's counting, I think that sauropod tails are more likely to be
used as weapons - especially with the existence of _Shunosaurus_ with a
tail club. [Also, _Omeisaurus_ was supposed to have a tail club, but
that is mostly disputed].   I still like Myhrvold's idea of the sauropod
tails being used as a sonic weapon (cracking like a whip).  I'm sure
that some sauropod somewhere used its neck in self defense.  :-) 

Allan Edels 

-----Original Message-----
From: owner-dinosaur@usc.edu [mailto:owner-dinosaur@usc.edu] On Behalf
Of David Marjanovic
Sent: Friday, December 06, 2002 5:42 PM
To: dinosaur@usc.edu
Subject: Re: Say Hello To Occam's Bulldozer

Original Message by Stephan Pickering
Friday, 6. December 2002 13:30 

> [...] which survived the K/T extinction
> events (not event; the bollide impact did not "kill
> off" all of the dinosaurs).

But most of them. And lots of everything else.

> But...there is data from which one can
> make guesses (sauropods, like giraffe, probably used
> necks for both combat and mating rituals among females
> and males;

Not that I could in any way falsify this. But if the choice is between
using 
the neck or the tail for this, I'd prefer the latter.

BTW, Crichton only looked at diplodocids. Most other sauropods that are
known 
well enough have much shorter, lighter tails, irrespective of neck
length.

> For
> example, "natural selection" is scientifically
> meaningless: like Isaac Asimov's "hyperspace", it was
> a buzzword in the absence of evidence... i.e.,
> "natural selection" does not exist:

Firstly, I doubt the word hyperspace is Asimov's invention; anyway, it's
used 
a lot to refer to "spaces" with more than 3 dimensions or the
representations 
of mathematical models with more than 3 variables. (Such as ecospace, 
sometimes.)

Secondly, as I understand or perhaps misunderstand it, natural selection

cannot help but exist, because it's a tautology: Those that have more 
offspring have more offspring. Therefore the majority of the next
generation 
will have descended from those that had more offspring. Those that have,
for 
inheritable reasons, less offspring that survives into reproductive age
are, 
as the expression is, selected against.

> Kris, you are a mensch!

I do hope he's a human... er... nowadays lots of German words are
showing up, 
via Yiddish, in English, but with modified meanings that I usually don't

understand. What do you mean by Mensch?

(I think I've understood Spiel*, which means game in German, but in rare

cases also ballade or even (musical) play, because the verb, spielen,
means 
play, including to play a musical instrument... but that basically was
it. I 
have no idea where the schm- prefix comes from, "phyla schmyla", and so
on. 
Someone please help me.)

* Sp and st are in most cases pronounced shp and sht. Therefore various
sch 
creeping in.

> *******************************************************
>
> --- MariusRomanus@aol.com wrote:
> > I think the time is right to introduce all of you to
> > the concept of "Occam's Bulldozer"......

A very good idea. Your example is IMHO suboptimal, though. :-)

> > Yes... It does seem to be a really good idea
> > that simple feathers evolved first [...] However...
> > Homeotics don't play that type of game peoples.

Looks like they do, almost. That recent Nature paper by Yu et al. messed

around with gene expression to find out just that.

> > Evolutionary "stages" are not
> > viewing themselves as part of a series. They are
> > just looking for more immediate reproductive
> > success.

Of course, of course. Has been forgotten very often. Doesn't contradict
the 
above.

> > It is a fools game to play "Lets guess what
> > variations in homeotic gene expression can do!".

Fully correct. "Let's _try_ what variations in homeotic gene expression
can 
do!" is not, however. This is a scientist's game. (OK, OK. Not that
there 
weren't some foolish scientists. :-) )

> > If we think about skulls and trends... The number
> > one trend seems to have been a reduction in
> > complexity... Not an increase.

Yeah. And? Bad news for those who believed in progress in evolution and 
equated more skull bones with progress. I doubt anyone ever did both,
however.

:-)