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Showing posts from February 12, 2012

The Law of Fish and Humans -- Writer's Poke #367

Neon Tetras are tiny little fish, but they add a colorful element to a freshwater tank.


We had a 75 gallon bow-front tank with around forty fish. Neon Tetras are cheap, and so we decided to add a dozen. This group of new inductees liked to keep together; all twelve collectively were about the size of one of our Angelfish, of which we had six.

At the fish store, fish are color-coded to let buyers know which fish get along well with each other. A green sticker means that “fish play well with others,” and all of the fish in our tank were of the green-sticker variety. So it was a great surprise to wake up the following morning to discover that six of the newly-added Neons had vanished.

Where had they gone? Did they somehow escape the tank, making their way for the Savannah River – ala the gang of highly intelligent escape artists in Finding Nemo? We scratched our heads about it, but assumed that they must just be very good at hiding.

The next day, however, we turned on the tank light on…

The Sin of Not Being Awake -- Writer's Poke #366

Dance Like a 4-Year Old -- Writer's Poke #365

The philosopher John Michael Montgomery once wrote, “Life’s a dance you learn as you go; sometimes you lead, sometimes you follow. Don’t worry about what you don’t know.”


I took my daughter to our first daddy-daughter dance this weekend; I think both of us were a little bit uncomfortable, because neither of us knows how to dance. Heading out to the dance floor is kind of like volunteering to be thrown into the deep end when you don’t know how to swim.

Perhaps the threat isn’t the same. That is, if you flop around on the dance floor, at least you aren’t going to drown. The best approach to dancing is probably just to go with the flow of the music. Yes, there are specific types of dances, such as the waltz, which have systematic, ordered steps. Even so, I assume the key even to those dances is to “feel” the music and let it run through your movements.

For a daddy-daughter type of dance, just ignoring everyone else made it a lot easier. We weren’t there for anyone else, anyway, but it…

Socially-transmitted Values -- Writer's Poke #364

Joseph Campbell’s insights are endlessly fascinating. He suggests that humans are different from animals; spiders, for example, innately knows how to spin a web from birth. Humans, on the other hand, have a pretty long learning curve. Just consider: how long did it take you to learn how to tie your shoes? Ride a bike?
Tying shoes and riding bikes aren’t normally considered to be cultural rituals, although at least in Western culture, it might be argued that both are milestones of sorts. More to Campbell’s point, however, is the idea that values are “socially transmitted,” and “myths are the mental supports of rites.”

What this means in the most basic sense is that we all learn what it means to be human. What it also indicates is that there is not one right way to be human. Just as different species of spiders might utilize different spider web patterns, humans utilize different myths. These myths may have different parts in common, but essentially we are defined by the myths our spec…