Tag Archives: Apes

Madame Leota’s Crystal Ball Says. . .

We are all time travelers: moving into the future second by second.

Which does us absolutely no good at all as far as planning for the future goes because we can’t see the future until it’s the present and then it’s too late to change it into anything but the past.

Ugh. Time travel makes my head hurt.

Anyway, I was reminded about this issue recently when I was discussing with She Who Must Be Sleeping Because It’s Dark After All a course of action regarding our oldest dude.

The actual specifics of the discussion aren’t all that important (well, they’re important to us and certainly important to him. However, for the sake of this bit here, it’s more the results rather than the cause.), but I found myself thinking of Robert Frost.

One of my favorite poets, Robert Frost wrote about “The Road NotRobert Frost, one of America's best poets, extolled the virtue of taking the road less travelled. Taken.” In exactingly precise words of immeasurable beauty, Frost talked about how we often face choices in our lives and we can think of them as forks in the road.

We take one fork, make one choice, and that forever shapes all that is to come. Take the other fork, make the other choice, and that also forever shapes all that is to come.

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

So we sat discussing our course of action and because the substance of the discussion, the nature of the choice, was so important to Sarcasmo’s future, I’ve never wished more fervently to be able to see the future.

“Are we making the right choice? Will this work out in the long run? Will this be good for him or hurt him?”

This is something we parents have to think about every single day in almost every single decision. It’s not often such a stark choice, but it is there.

Do I make him eat those zucchini slices or not? If no, am I teaching him that he will get his way when he whines? If yes, will I be teaching him that bigger people can make smaller people do things?

The more I think about it, the more debilitating it becomes until I can enter into a state of analysis paralysis. For those of you not up on your rhyming aphorisms, analysis paralysis means you start thinking about something so much that you never make an actual decision. Which is, in effect, a decision. If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.

There’s an old saying in project management: There comes a time in the life of every project when you simply have to shoot the engineers and run with it.

Now, that’s not actually encouraging people to kill engineers. The issue is that engineers are never finished. They always see one more thing that can be improved upon. One more thing that needs just a little adjustment.

I like to think it’s something similar in parenting. We don’t know what we’re doing.

We don’t know how our actions today will affect the life of our child tomorrow.

All we can do is make what we think is the right decision and then work for the best outcome. Which is, in and of itself, a significantly frightening thought.

So, now that I’ve spent two days scaring the pants off you, I’ve only got one thing to say. . .

You’re not wearing any pants! Neener Neener Neener!

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Descent To An Alien World

I have one regret: That I will never be able to set foot on an alien world.

I will never walk under altered gravity, stars burning brightly colored pinpoints in a stygian black sky. I will never see the sun as a small bright spot in the sky.

If it’s possible to miss something you’ve never experienced, then I miss this. Which is why I’m always on the lookout for bits of video like this. It’s amazing is what it is, dudes. Simply amazing. A little background first.

Titan is a moon orbiting Saturn and it’s the cloudiest moon in our solar system. It is seriously strange. It’s large enough to have collected an atmosphere and the mix of chemicals is volatile enough that it causes a roiling cloud bank to form across the whole of the planet/moon. Of course, we hairy apes are curious.

There’s only one thing that will make us want something more than we already do: And that’s to have something blocking us from getting it.

We want to know what’s happening on the different planets and moons. With Titan’s cloud cover, that’s just not going to happen.

Or at least it wasn’t going to happen until the European Space Agency got into the act and decided to send the Cassini-Huygens spacecraft and probe out to the Saturn system to have a look around. Huygens  detached from the Cassini spacecraft in late 2004 and began its approach to the cloud-covered worldlet of Titan.

In 2005, Huygens arrived at Titan and immediately began its descent. One tiny probe, about the size of a truck tire, against an entire environment. Probe wins.

As Huygens began its descent, it took picture after picture and faithfully relayed the images to Cassini and, from there, on to earth. And then, and this is where I start liking this more and more, someone here on earth decided to get a little fancy with the pictures.

This unknown person stitched together all the still images and made an amazing time-lapse video of Titan. Huygens comes to rest on the surface of the moon in a dry, shallow sea bed and survived for approximately 90 minutes, all the while snapping pictures.

This, then, is the result. And it’s marvelous. It feels like your eyeballs are actually there. Now if only the rest of my body could follow along.

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Rescue Me

This is an amazing video, showing a dolphin approaching a group of divers off shore of Hawaii and pleading for help with an embedded fishhook and fishing line.

Seriously, dudes. Take a look at this.

Okay, sure, there are other ways this could be interoperated, but I feel the dolphin’s intent is quite clear. That dolphin is approaching those talking apes, currently trespassing underwater, and asking for help with something it can’t do for itself.

The interesting thing to me is not that the dolphin asked for help. We’ve seen numerous examples of animals seeking help from other animals, or even domesticated animals seeking help from humans. The thing I find interesting is that this dolphin approached the human divers, apparently expecting that they would feel empathy for the dolphin and experience a desire to help.

I don’t know if this shows that the dolphin is in tremendously dire straits that it would seek help from humans, or else it understands us better than we, perhaps, think.

We’ve long known that dolphins have a higher brain to body ratio than just about any other animal on the planet, with the exception of humans, but we’ve seen very little evidence of the sort of intelligence we prize. There are no dolphin cities. No dolphin tools. No dolphin language that we can translate, even though we think they’re communicating ideas in their “speech.”

And, yet. . . There are many examples of dolphins rescuing humans stranded in the ocean. Dolphins do perform tricks for people at amusement parks (although, I’m thinking that’s a mark against if anything).

Are dolphins intelligent, as we humans define it? I’m thinking probably not. However, it would seem as if certain things can cross the intelligence/species barrier. Things like empathy and a desire to help someone other than yourself.

You know what, dudes? I think that’s pretty awesome.

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