Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Just The Right Name

I'm (re-)reading Anne of Green Gables. It is such a unique, lovely book. One of the dialogs is about names and it has such a fresh perspective on it, suggesting that the right name for things is very important. Anne always goes around renaming things to reflect their inner qualities. It reminds me of the same idea from The Never Ending Story where a whole world would die unless someone will give the princess exactly the right name.
It's a lovely idea and I think it has a parallel in real life.. That identifying something truthfully, precisely and thoroughly gives it strength to survive and flourish (or in some other cases, the ability to destroy it, but good or bad idea, identifying it opens the door to action). If you can't identify something it may show up randomly and eventually shrivel away unnurtured.
Well here is the dialog from the book:
"My father's name was Walter Shirley, and he was a teacher in the Brolingbroke High School. My mother's name was Bertha Shirley. Aren't Walter and Bertha lovely names? I'm so glad my parents had nice names. It would be a real disgrace to have a father named - well, say Jedediah, wouldn't it?"
"I guess it doesn't matter what a person's name is as long as he behaves himself," said Marilla, feeling herself called upon to inculcate a good and useful moral.
"Well, I don't know." Anne looked thoughtful. "I read in a book once that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but I've never been able to believe it. I don't believe a rose WOULD be as nice if it was called a thristle or a skunk cabbage."

Saturday, August 20, 2016

The physical appearance of evolved species

Watching some sci-fi movies got me thinking about the idea of humanoids and different evolved, intelligent, self-aware species having different appearances and originating from different species, such as a crocodile-resembling humanoid, an ape-resembling humanoid (us), and so on.
But here's what I'm thinking... Are all those options equally plausible? I think not. Human beings evolved to have diminished predatory characteristic as well no distinguishable characteristics of prey.
I mean, we have the right teeth to chew meet, but we don't have a vicious mouth designed to kill an animal by chewing on its neck, and we don't have long ears and super strong legs like rabbits do so they can escape a predator. In fact we developed in a rather new direction and in a leisurely way. We developed more and more toward the ability to self regulate (this is an observation made by Harry Binswanger).
But here is the main point: Because we're intelligent we don't have an evolutionary pressure to develop either in the direction of prey OR predator. And the same thing will be true of EVERY evolved species, by which I mean mentally evolved.
The only way that will change is if somehow, a lot of only evolved species would exist and would have to kill one another to survive. But then let me ask you this: Have they all forgotten how to raise chickens??
Conclusion, such conditions will never be met for evolved species and therefore all of them will have a peaceful appearance, and not like a T-Rex's.
Sure, you can have an intelligent predator, more intelligent than the others, but once they cross a threshold and become intelligent enough to farm, they no longer have an evolutionary pressure to maintain their predatory qualities and those traits will disappear over time.
Also one last observation: It seems like there is a certain path evolution takes when there is abundance and low pressure to survive in a certain area; seems like species start to develop more toward appearance and sexual selection becomes a more dominant factor. That's how you get the bright colors and patterns of fish and corals you see in exotic climates (like the red sea). Right?
So it seems like, unless some disease or natural disaster will create a specific evolutionary pressure (like resistance to a certain virus), the most dominant factors for our survival and reproduction become things like: Our ability to think, to self-regulate, ability to get along with others, physical beauty and emotional well being.
For example if I try to think of a mutation that leads to something new, like say a few people start getting purple eyes, they might be more sexually sought after (similar to a colorful fish).. So basically one possible form evolution will take for humans is some kind of prettier human XD
I personally hope it won't involve any neon colors though, because I think that's just too much. It's one thing to look at it in an aquarium and a whole different thing to stare at it across the desk in business meetings every day.

Do trees know that they are in an urban area?

When I see trees decorating the streets and sides of the road I usually have this peculiar feeling or thought. I know that this tree I'm...