Joe Barrera (
Thu, 28 Aug 1997 07:16:45 -0700

> [ Adam ]
> All I know is, ontology recapitulates phylogeny.

Ah, but everything you know is wrong. (*)

"'Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny' was Haeckel's answer -- the wrong
one -- to the most vexing question of nineteenth-century biology: what
is the relationship between individual development (ontogeny) and the
evolution of species and lineages (phylogeny)? In this, the first major
book on the subject in fifty years, Stephen Jay Gould documents the
history of the idea of recapitulation from its appearance among the
pre-Socratics to its demise in the early twentieth century.

"Turning to modern concepts, Gould demonstrates that, even through the
whole subject of parallels between ontogeny and phylogeny fell into
disrepute, it is still one of the great themes of evolutionary biology."

This is a cool book, a real joy to read. It's heavier reading than his
essay collections (Panda's Thumb, et. al.).

- Joe

(*) "Answer true or false," Firesign Theater says. "Dogs flew
spaceships. The Aztecs invented the vacation... If you answered 'false'
to any of these questions, then everything you know is wrong." -- quoted
in "MAKE MONEY, NOT WAR -- Time To Move Past The War Metaphors Of The
Industrial Age" (, a good
article about the misuse of war and sports analogies in computer
industry computing.

"So why should we concern ourselves with war metaphors, when we all know
we don't take them literally?

"Two reasons. First, we do take them literally. Maybe we don't kill each
other, but the sentiments are there, and they do have influences.
Second, war rarely yields positive sums, except for one side or another.
The economy the Internet induces is an explosion of positive sums that
accrue to many if not all participants. Doesn't it deserve a more
accurate metaphor?"

and finally from

"Yes, we have several blackened objects on our menu. The range-fed
object is very tasty, and the milk-fed object is quite tender. Those are
my personal favorites."

"Maybe I should have something a bit less meat-related."

(See, I *told* you everything was interconnected.)

Joseph S. Barrera III (
Phone, Office: (415) 778-8227; Cellular: (415) 601-3719; Home: (650)
The opinions expressed in this message are my own personal views and do
not reflect the official views of Microsoft Corporation.