Post-Reason by Kartott

March 21st, 2009 | Posted by paul in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Post-Reason by Kartott)

Once every so often I discover a new voice and kindred spirit who shares my own perspective yet articulates it in new and refreshing ways.  Yesterday Kartott (I don’t know her real name) became known to me by following me on twitter. I followed her back and started reading her new blog.  It’s great stuff and features a lot of her artwork.

From her first entry:

What are we? How have we come to be here on this planet? Are we living a life as fully conscious beings? I suspect not. What are visions, dreams, things seen that ought not to be seen? Do we conjure such things as ghosts, aliens, fairies out of deep genetic memory? Or are they glimpses of a broader reality?


Of late, I have been exploring a number of alternate realties: ufos, ghosts, psychedelic phenomena. All seem to be pointing to some undercurrent of reality that we can barely tip our toe into. We mostly deny it, put it down to “imagination” or simple fantasy. We even deny our own directly experienced phenomena, shutting the door to a wider world. This seems driven by a larger culture intent on squashing all things mysterious, unknown or unknowable. We believe that because such experiences are beyond measure and simple human reasoning, they must therefore not real. Yet they all seem to point to a more fully realized consciousness, a kind of multi-dimensional existence. Our everyday brain seems divorced from this, almost as if there is a wall in place between our everyday functioning mind and our visioning, dreaming consciousness.

An interesting aspect to this (from my admittedly scant observation): people who traverse this consciousness divide seem to possess a high degree of creativity. A large proportion are artists, writers, musicians, or are generally creative in other aspects of their lives. Many express interest in spiritual or deep intuitive connections. Some meditate. Apart from the creative process itself (or perhaps as a part of it), I wonder if this points to a necessary admission of imagination as a fundamental key to the door in the wall. 
As neuroscientist Jill Bolte Taylor discussed beautifully in her 2008 TED Talk, the left and right hemispheres of our brain have very different ways of perceiving the universe.  Arguing which perspective is more correct, misses the more important point that both perceptions are filters our brains use to subtract out information from the larger unseen universe.  Believing that one is more correct than the other, or worse that our perceptions of the universe with all of our scientific and technological enhancements represents reality, is a very naive and deeply anthropocentric bias.”There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” – Hamlet, Shakespeare.

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A Story of Profound Personal Transformation

March 19th, 2009 | Posted by paul in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on A Story of Profound Personal Transformation)

It is not often I share a personal story on this blog.  In the last 8 years I have experienced a great deal of tragedy.  In this time I lost my house and all of my belongings to a house fire.  I lost my father two months later to a rapid onset of pancreatic cancer.  In 2006 I experienced a series of tragedies and unfortunate events.  As part of this ongoing stress I contracted a very painful, serious and for many months, undiagnosed illness, which among other things resulted in having my gallbladder being removed in December.  This didn’t fix the problem, but it was their best guess at the time. Did I mention pain?  Yes, chronic pain that completely debilitated me, resulting in a total loss of income, and a half-dozen visits to the emergency room bent over in total agony. I am only now recovering, thanks in part to adopting a very healthy diet and lifestyle, and a exercising a profound level of acceptance and love for myself and those around me.

The story below is for those who need to hear that profound personal transformation is possible for anyone, right now if you are willing to open your heart.

I came across this story a few weeks ago in a book I was reading while deeply detoxing in a far-infrared sauna at my local acupuncturist’s office.  It touched me so deeply, that I wept quietly but deeply amidst the profuse and cleansing sweat while in the sauna. The story is from The New Holistic Health Handbook, and it’s a passage from a chapter by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross titled, Death Does Not Exist.

Read More…

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Space Migration or Human Extinction?

March 18th, 2009 | Posted by paul in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Space Migration or Human Extinction?)

Like many people I believe the current crisis is a wake-up call for humanity.  However, unlike many of the voices dominating the discussion lately, I have come to some very different conclusions.

The dirty little secret behind many environmental movements and their followers is a deep wish to see large segments of the human population die off.  This way the the Earth can restore itself from the overpopulated human civilization that has drained it.  Ideally, these same loyal econauts see themselves as inheriting this New Earth paradise after all the unworthy people have died off.  If you think I’m making this up or exaggerating, just ask them. One prominent “visionary” (who shall go nameless) said if people don’t get with the program, they will be turned into mulch. Being an environmentalist myself, I’m not accusing all of them, just many of the louder voices currently dominating the conversation. You’ll hear all sorts of scenarios of doom, gloom, and even glee that when it’s all over, the Earth will have maybe at most a billion inhabitants left (if we’re lucky) by the end of the 21st Century.

They are right about one thing – given our current level of dirty technology, population growth and rates of resource extraction, the human game of continual growth and material abundance cannot continue much longer without a severe environmental backlash from simple resource constraints.  You can’t extract what’s no longer there.  In other words, unless we find a way to magically transform our society through advanced nanotechnology into one that is 100% regenerative, large segments of the population will die off from a lack of resources necessary to feed, house and clothe them.

The honest truth is advanced nano-enabled regenerative technology is still a distant dream, and until it’s realized, we can’t count on it.  Instead we must solve our problems now using tools already available or that can be built without requiring unforseen breakthroughs.

Clearly as long as we continue doing business within a fragile planetary ecosystem, pretty much everything we do needs to change, adapt, ephermalize, regenerate. I just hope that along with these changes, we don’t loose site of the bigger impetus which this all points – which is to continue onward, upward, outward off the planet and become a space faring species.

This is the first time in our planets evolution such a possibility is upon us. Given what’s at stake (massive ecological, economic and population collapse), it’s now or never that a strong push for space development must be made. Those talking about peak civilization and mandatory de-industrialization are a depressing, anti-evolutionary lot.

I think when real-world constraints start culling the population, radical evolutionary pressures upward will re-exert themselves. I’ve never known people to go quietly in the night, especially when bigger, better alternatives present themselves.

My fellow Lifeboat adviser Brian Wang is actively working on some very radical space propulsion designs which could reduce orbital launch costs to less than $1/Kg without the need for any new technological advances.

When billions of lives are at stake from a lack of biosphere support capacity, space migration is by far the saner choice, especially when many if not most industrial processes can be taken off world.

This way everyone wins.  The more radical elements in the environmental movement can celebrate as all the industrialized processes they hate so much move wholesale offworld.  The Earth, through tender stewardship by those choosing to stay behind, can be ushered back into a veritable garden of Eden without it requiring any devolution or death of the human species.

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Quote: Post-Technological Culture

March 16th, 2009 | Posted by paul in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

“Seemingly you move away from culture and technology and become a world-denying mystic…

…But in reality—in a spiral—you are coming back into the heart of the post-technological culture.”

William Irwin Thompson – 21.09.72

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One Hundred Billion Trillion Habitable Planets

February 23rd, 2009 | Posted by paul in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on One Hundred Billion Trillion Habitable Planets)

274_FirstSeasAccording to Alan Boss, speaking at the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s annual meeting in Chicago, there are one hundred billion trillion habitable planets in our visible portion of the universe. Put another way that’s 1020 habitable planets, or about 15 Billion habitable planets for each and every human being alive today. This single statement along the Kepler launch on March 5th, whose specific mission is to look for habitable planets, has pushed the search for earth like planets to the top of the news.

Alan Boss has written a new book The Crowded Universe which covers his premise. TheTelegraph quoted Boss on the matter in an early report on his presentation:

 “If you have a habitable world and let it evolve for a few billion years then inevitably some sort of life will form on it,” said Dr Boss.

“It is sort of running an experiment in your refrigerator – turn it off and something will grow in there.

“It would be impossible to stop life growing on these habitable planets.”

We shall soon find out about the likelihood of earth like planets over the next four years as Kepler scans a portion of space called the Cygnus-Lyra region (which contains 100,000 target stars). This will be the first time we will have the ability to detect earth-sized planets orbiting within their habitable zone, where liquid water can exist on it’s surface. This will be accomplished by using an extremely sensitive 95 megapixel array of charged coupled devices (CCD).

Below is the area of the ski Kepler will look at.

 

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Going All Electric

February 21st, 2009 | Posted by paul in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Going All Electric)

How far a car can drive based on either of the following forms of energy, each produced from 100m x 100m (2.5 acres) of land:

FuelEfficiency

Just so you know, the solar is based on only 10% efficient readily available solar cell technology, with 50% now being developed.

 

 

 

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Seawater Greenhouses

February 19th, 2009 | Posted by paul in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Seawater Greenhouses)

Unlimited energy. Fast-growing fruit. Free air-conditioning. John Pia Craven says we can have it all by tapping the icy waters of the deep. (See Wired Magazine Article).

SeaWaterGreenHouse1

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seawater_Greenhouse
http://www.seawatergreenhouse.com/

This particular technology will work well in arid locations by the ocean.  The technology is called Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC), and promoted in Marshall Savages, Millennial Project: Colonizing the Galaxy in Eight Easy Steps (See Millennial Project 2.0Living Universe Foundationand their blog).  It’s kind of the reverse of geothermal, using deep cold ocean water as the differential, rather than hot underground land water.  Combining the prospects of Deep Geothermal and OTEC could do a lot to bring the world vast amounts of clean energy and water, whether it’s along the Sahara coastline, or in central Iowa.

 

“Water Production and Water Savings

The Seawater Greenhouse converts sea water into fresh water, providing a unique local desalination capability. The water is condensed from water vapour in the air, in much the same way as dew. It is pure distilled water, produced without chemical treatment. The quantity produced depends on the climate – the hotter and sunnier, the more water.

The air entering the Greenhouse is both cooled and humidified. High humidity and low temperatures (the Greenhouse operates at approx. 90% relative humidity) reduces plant transpiration substantially, by up to 80%. This reduces irrigation requirements. The irrigation rate in Tenerife averaged 1.2 litre/day/m2 against 8 litres/day/m2 used by local farmers.

The impact of a new source of water on a local area can be highly beneficial. In Tenerife, a barren area ‘turned green’ as seepage from irrigation reversed saline intrusion and enabled new plant growth.

Of even greater importance is the effect the Seawater Greenhouse can have on reducing demand for mains water and reserves of ground water. Around 8-10 litres per m2 per day can be saved which, on a macro scale, will have an immense impact, freeing existing water supply for other uses.”

Construction and Materials –http://www.seawatergreenhouse.com/construction_and_materials.htm

The Seawater Greenhouse has a specific function – to produce fresh water and cool air while allowing maximum light penetration. The choice of materials is guided by the level of performance required – and cost. Various specifications of Seawater Greenhouse are available.

Low-cost solutions give excellent results. The design requires a light steel structure with polythene covering, cardboard evaporators and a plastic condenser. ABS and MDPE plastics are used for plumbing. Polythene films are cheap and effective. They are specially treated to incorporate ultraviolet-reflecting and infrared-absorbing properties and can be 100% recycled at the end of their useful life.

The cardboard evaporators are strengthened by a surprisingly effective process. They crystallise calcium carbonate from the sea water and harden like sea shells. The process is controllable and the results indicate that the life of the evaporators can be extended almost indefinitely.”

SeaWaterGreenHouse2

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Bye Bye Apocalypse: 5 Hopeful Trends

February 16th, 2009 | Posted by paul in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Bye Bye Apocalypse: 5 Hopeful Trends)

Ok, the future of doom and gloom is getting old fast. At this point, nobody can predict the future, not even Bruce Sterling, Dmitri Orlov or Warren Buffett. Even the billionaires are getting hosed by the economic downturn.  But what this really proves is we have entered a new era where the old rules no longer apply.  That prospect scares a lot of people, especially the ones who’ve gained the most money and power by maintaining the status quo.  The elite have become naive enough to think they can continue getting away with theft and cronyism without any consequences (i.e. mob revolt), but this time they’re wrong. Asynchronous power is getting stronger all the time, which is why the worlds most powerful military is loosing to a small number of decentralized insurgents. I predicted the current economic crisis back in 2002, in my post Capital, Power and Ecology, simply because business as usual is not sustainable.  It was destined to collapse, and my best guess at the time was that it would happen sometime within the next decade or so.

There is nothing like a crisis to spur rapid evolutionary growth. We are witnessing a level of creative destruction that is unprecedented both globally and historically. Yet solutions for every problem we face are already available right now. We have all the information we need. In fact we are drowning in it.

The current economic collapse, rather than being a indicator of worse things to come, is instead a wake-up call to re-engineer our society from the bottom-up to become more resilient, capable of withstanding unexpected change and upheaval. A resilient economy is also one that is more sustainable and integrated with the planetary ecology, and more responsive to the needs of all of its citizens. Economic growth can and will accelerate, but not by converting precious resources into cheap disposable products, but by making more intelligent use of the materials we already have! There is no reason why this intelligent growth (getting more from less) can’t increase indefinitely, or at least until we’re ready to leave the planet. This is what is called a regenerative economy, or what Bucky Fuller called, ephermalization, which is the idea of progressively doing more with less.

What most doomsayers like Dmitri Orlov don’t get is the process of ephermalization.  His prediction is that our only solution is to accept that we’re all going to be a lot poorer, and we should just get used to it. This is just nonsense, and he’s not helping the situation any. I suppose if wealth is defined as having tons of disposable material goods, then yes our wealth will diminish.  But is that what we really want?  Having an economy that depends on cheap imported products from China, using up more non-renewable resources powered by coal-fired plants polluting the atmosphere while inducing severe climate change, is just plain stupid.  So yes Dmitri is right, we are going to become a lot poorer in terms of Stupid Wealth, but a lot richer in terms of Smart Wealth (Please read the Smart Growth Manifesto for a great explanation of this idea).

The answers to future growth and wealth production are decentralization via localization, regeneration, remediation, renewables, and cybernation all of which results in greaterresiliency.  If we can achieve both local and global resiliency we can grow out of our technological adolescence and become a type 1 civilization.  This means the odds of our species surviving this century increases dramatically, and we can go on to become a space faring immortal civilization should that be our wish.

Here are details for the five trends I listed, and how each can change the world for the better:

Decentralization

This applies across the board.  Anytime critical needs are centralized the resources for those needs are subject to attack and failure.  If one power plant fails a domino effect can take place, knocking more power plants offline. The solution to creating a resilient energy supply that is resistant to overloads or sabotage is to localize power production through locally available renewable resources like solar, wind, and geothermal.  If every community had at least one power generator for every thousand people in combination with more renewable energy being generated on local rooftops, there is nothing short of a nuclear blast that could shut it all down. The more decentralized, localized and miniaturized the power generation, the more resilient and reliable it becomes.  In an ideal world all the power would be generated by the house or building itself.  This applies equally to food production, means of exchange (localized currency), manufacturing and defense. For an interesting read on localized defense, read John Barr’s Power To The People. The topics John covers are both frightening and reassuring. But here is a good excerpt:

A newly vigilant and networked public will push for much greater levels of transparency in government and corporate operations, using the Internet to expose, publish, and patch potential security flaws. Over time, this new transparency, and the wider participation it entails, will lead to radical improvements in government and corporate efficiency.

On the national level, we’ll see a withering of the security apparatus, but quite possibly a flowering in other areas. Energy independence and the obsolescence of conventional war with other countries will reduce tensions between the United States and the rest of the world. The end of oil will also force corrupt states, now propped up by energy income, to make the reforms they need to be accepted internationally, improving life for their people.

Perhaps the most important global shift will be the rise of grassroots action and cross-connected communities. Like the Internet, these new networks will develop slowly at first. After a period of exponential growth, however, they will quickly become all but ubiquitous–and astonishingly powerful, perhaps as powerful as the networks arrayed against us.

Localization

This is really the same thing as decentralization.  The localization movement is definitely picking up steam, as more people are beginning to realize that governments don’t work very well, and needs are best met locally.  The aftermath of Katrina is a classic case of government gone wrong. There is a great book called The Transition Handbook: From Oil Dependency to Local Resilience, which is a users manual for transitioning your community from one dependent on centralized sources of food, energy, and currency to a localized one.  A localized resilient community would be one that generates all of its own food, energy and many or most of its products. Desktop manufacturing will do a lot to bring the power of production down to the local level, reducing the current expensive and polluting means of transporting products from one corner of the globe to another. A product designed in Malaysia can then be sent online to you in Kansas, where it can be manufactured locally. A resilient community would also have a robust locally issued currency that is immune from government issued fiat currency that is fixed and manipulated by the most powerful for their benefit at the expense of everyone else.(See the video Money is Debt, for a fantastic explanation of the evils of corporate banking and government issued fiat currency). Localized currency is the way to go, and their many thriving examples, including the Totnes Pound in the UK, and the Berkshares in Western Massachusetts.  At last count there are over 1200 local currencies in the US alone. The Totnes Pound was the brainchild of the author who wrote The Transition Handbook.  He’s created a network of towns in the UK that are all making the transition to local resilience.

Another great idea is a Time Bank, where you deposit time by doing tasks for other members, who in turn get paid for your services with time they deposited. Time Banks are now operating in 22 countries and growing.  Here’s a good quote from a guy who has combined the two concepts of local currency and time into what he calls Ithaca hours, in Ithaca New York.

We printed our own money because we watched Federal dollars come to town, shake a few hands, then leave to buy rainforest lumber and fight wars. Ithaca’s HOURS, by contrast, stay in our region to help us hire each other. While dollars make us increasingly dependent on transnational corporations and bankers, HOURS reinforce community trading and expand commerce which is more accountable to our concerns for ecology and social justice.”

Regeneration

Regeneration is the ultimate endpoint of comprehensive recycling.  To accomplish this will require two primary fronts of advancement.  The first is new, efficient and cost-effective means to recycle materials we’ve already created, and the second is transitioning more of our products to using materials that can be recycled.  Advances on both fronts will result in a middle ground combination of materials that are biodegradable, low or negative carbon footprint specific, and/or easily recycled non-biodegradable stock.  Advances are happening on all these fronts, and those companies willing to spend money on research and development stand to reap huge financial rewards from innovation in recyclable materials and processes.

In the meantime, there are huge tracts of land that have been destroyed by pollution or non-sustainable agricultural processes.  The solution is to engage in aggressive bioremediation efforts to regenerate the soil, clean up the toxic waste and polluted water stores.  Solutions for this are already here, including nanofilters for cleaning water, microbes for cleaning and rendering harmless toxic waste, and advanced permaculture methods for bringing dead land back to life. John Todd developed what are called Living Machines, that can turn waste water back into drinkable water.  With Todd’s help the Tennessee Valley Authority has already done this with their water supply, and has cleaned up their polluted river in the process. There are many good sources for information on how to  do this for yourself. Some good starter books include Introduction to PermacultureFrom Eco-Cities To Living Machines,  Edible Forest Gardens, and Mycelium Runnng (which shows how to remediate dead soil using mushrooms).

Renewables

This is a no-brainer.  If your energy supply is produced locally from readily available sources such as wind, solar and geothermal, there is no dependence on outsiders, whether it be large energy corporations or foreign states for supple of your energy needs.  The added bonus is the energy is clean, green and non-polluting, which in turn eliminates the expenses added by pollution, including health costs and remediation of polluted lands.

Cybernation

This involves both the continuing transformation of more of our world into bits, which can be transported and replicated at next to no cost, and the increasing intelligent automation of more of what makes our world run.  If more of our services and products are conducted and generated online, it reduces the need for material and energy costs of doing the same thing in the analog world.  Just imagine how much energy costs will be reduced by reducing dramatically the need for transportation of goods, when they can be made locally by the advancement of desktop manufacturing technologies.

Then there is the continuing network effect ov more people get online, more high quality information becoming available, and connections to people and resources becoming more relevant through semantic intelligence, peer-to-peer knowledge exchange and better social networking services.  And with Moore’s Law of accelerating returns we’ll continue to get computer power for less and less money.  Advances in all the areas mentioned above will become accelerated too, as everyone can connect with the right people at the right time, spreading knowledge, know-how and creative solutions more rapidly than ever before.

Resiliency & Anti-Fragility and Thrivability

So what’s the result of all this?  Our quality of life will improve dramatically because we’ll all be wealthier, healthier, and safer from smart growth.  This will produce cost savings in the trillions per year, reductions in pollution and far greater resiliency for our world.  Imagine the incredible reduction in cost when all of the materials that are currently being chewed up by mining, the cutting down of rain forests, and the pollution of lands and waters, are no longer needed.  Imagine if you can get almost everything you need within 5 miles of your home.  Imagine the cost reductions when food, energy and materials are all available locally through permaculture, biointensive gardening, local aquaculture, living machines, abundant clean energy and desktop manufacturing.  It’s a future worth working on, and we can start building it today.

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Sonic Shower

February 15th, 2009 | Posted by paul in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Sonic Shower)

I first heard a rumor of that something like this that was done in the 1960’s by General Electric.  The rumor goes that in it’s test market the housewives were having spontaneous orgasms while using it. So they pulled the plug.

From Pink Tentacle:

ultrasonic_bath_4

At the 1970 World Expo in Osaka, consumer electronics maker Sanyo demonstrated their vision for the future by showcasing a series of appliances they thought would populate the home of tomorrow. Included was the Ultrasonic Bath, a pod-like human washing machine that cleans, massages and dries the user in a fully automated 15-minute process.

Using a ladder, the bather climbs in through an opening on top of the machine, which stands about 2 meters (6 ft) tall. Once the desired water temperature is set and the main switch is activated, the pre-rinse cycle starts, spraying the user with jets of hot water for 5 minutes.

Next, the chamber fills up with hot water for a 3-minute massage bath. High-pressure jets create a powerful whirlpool, and scores of knobby, golf ball-sized “massage balls” suspended in the water pelt the body, delivering a vigorous massage intended to stimulate blood circulation. An ultrasonic wave generator creates a ticklish cloud of tiny air bubbles that lift dirt from the skin.

ultrasonic_bath_1

The bath is then followed by a 2-minute hot rinse cycle. Finally, a 5-minute dry cycle blasts the user with warm air, while a flood of infrared and ultraviolet light destroys any lingering germs.

Developed as a concept model, the Ultrasonic Bath never made it into our homes. Several years ago, however, Sanyo unveiled the $50,000 HIRB (”Human In Roll-lo Bathing”) system, a compact version designed for use in elderly homes.

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Survival of the Weakest

February 14th, 2009 | Posted by paul in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Survival of the Weakest)

Although the article does not explain precisely why the weakest of three species in a cyclical hierarchy, it is an interesting read nevertheless.  It compares the process to the rock, paper, scissors game where each species has at least one advantage over the other.

LMU researchers have now simulated the progression of a cyclic competition of three species. It means that each participant is superior to one other species, but will be beaten by a third interaction partner. “In this kind of cyclical concurrence, the weakest species proves the winner almost without exception,” reports Professor Erwin Frey, who headed the study. “The two stronger species, on the other hand, die out, as experiments with bacteria have already shown. Our results are not only a big surprise, they are important to our understanding of evolution of ecosystems and the development of new strategies for the protection of species.”

“Such cyclical interaction is also familiarly termed “rock-paper-scissors” interaction. This is where the rock blunts the scissors, which cut the paper, which in turn wraps around the rock. Together, these non-hierarchical relationships form a cyclical motion. “The game can help describe the diversity of species,” explains Frey. “The background is a branch of mathematics called game theory, and in this case evolutionary game theory. It helps analyze systems that involve multiple actors whose interactions are similar to those in parlor games.”

“This “law of the weakest” even held true when the difference between the competing species was slight. “This result was just as unexpected for us,” reports Frey. “But it shows once more that chance plays a big part in the dynamics of an ecosystem. Incidentally, in experiments that were conducted a couple of years ago on bacterial colonies, in order to study cyclical competition, there was one clear result: The weakest of the three species emerged victorious from the competition.

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