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Monday, March 19, 2007

This and That

Auckland Praying Mantis

I'm receiving an endless stream of job offers (and related inquiries) due to my Netflix post. Too bad I'm not looking for a job. I wonder what would bring as many dating inquiries?

I've been busy with this and that, and something else too. (But not the Netflix stuff.) I'll be more specific eventually. Maybe.

In the meantime, some random, unrelated quotes, email snippets, and article excerpts from the last few weeks:

"At the time, H was Sr. VP at the company she was working at. When we moved up here, I got a real job, made nice income, she quit her job, we got married, and she became the stereo-typical stay-at-home mom of the 50's. AND SHE LOVED IT!"

It just occurred to me that there's a nice analogy between idea synthesis and sex. Things like the academic path is very nearly asexual reproduction: Grad students typically go in and learn an existing body of knowledge and then work on refining/evolving it. Sexual reproduction is the far more rare event where two teams or individuals who have been working completely separately pair up (or at least seriously trade ideas). It happens a lot too, of course, but not nearly as much as the other; and don't confuse publication with trading: most publications are written for and read by like-audiences--i.e., masturbation by analogy. (Huh!)

I read meanderings like hers, and what I picture is someone encountering me as I walk from home to the store. They've come from the side, and greet me and we soon find we are neighbors, and are both looking for the store. They tell me tales of search and strife, risking their life, swimming rivers and lakes, exploring forests, and they think they have found the way, or at least they are pretty sure. They want to share knowledge with me to help us both find the store sooner.

I turn and look back accross the street at my house, and then at their house, and then I turn around and look at the store, which is accross the street from our houses, and then I turn and look at them, and then at the store...

And, you know, it's not really about the store (or truth, or god, or morality or any actual end goal), it's that these people decided early on in life (before they were conscious individuals) that life is about searching. And so, search on they shall, until they die.

And I nod and smile, and bid them farewell and good luck on their journey, and then finish my walk to the store, where I have been a hundred times before, and buy my organic milk and some pears and walnuts and then I walk home and eat them.

And that's how I feel when I meet most people.

I think when evaluating any system of ethics, one should treat human stupidity as a law of physics (which it ultimately is).

"Using their hands and teeth, the chimpanzees were repeatedly seen tearing the side branches off long, straight sticks, peeling back the bark and sharpening one end. Then, grasping the weapons in a "power grip," they jabbed them into tree-branch hollows where bush babies -- small, monkeylike mammals -- sleep during the day."

"In only one of the 22 observations did a chimp get a bush baby. But that is reasonably efficient, Pruetz said, compared with standard chimpanzee hunting, which involves chasing a monkey or other prey, grabbing it by the tail and slamming its head against the ground."

From here.

New Zealand Cicada
(Not all cicadas are ugly as sin.)

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Simon Funk / simonfunk@gmail.com