Thursday, May 24, 2007

Strange Questions from a Strange Mind

1. Why was I not named Rudyard?

2. How can I be sure that someone named “Fleming” living in Denmark isn’t really me?

3. If I could spend an hour seeing the world as a cat, how could I tell I’m not the cat?

4. Why are stock market predictions always wrong?

5. Why is the “news” always bad except when someone is rescued from something bad?

6. Why are humans sick so much more often than other animals?

7. Why are humans the only animals which routinely go insane?

8. As it’s no longer thought true that humans can be distinguised as “the tool using animal”, should humans be distinguished as “the crazy animal”?

9. If it’s such an advantage for humans to have all those unique facial muscles in order to communicate with facial expressions, how come my most articulate and amusing friends are people on the Internet I’ve never seen?

10.Why is the right side of most things in nature a duplicate of the left side?

11. Why is our Moon exactly the right size to cover the Sun in an eclipse?

12. Why do American politicians never do what they promise to do and yet get re-elected?

13. If smart people are possible, why are there so many stupid people?

14. Why are marriages less fun the further they get from the honeymoon instead of improving with practice?

15. If God is omniscient, why doesn't He/She/It know what we want without waiting for us to beg for it?

16. If there’s a creator God as described in the Old Testament, why didn’t He get it right?


  1. Fleming, I think you will find this oddly familiar....

    God : "I refuse to prove that I exist, for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing."

    Man : "But the Babelfish is a dead giveaway isn't it? It is so wonderful and could not have possibly evolved by chance so it proves that you exist."

    God : "Gee... I never thought of it that way." (and diappeared in a puff of logic...)

    Man : "Hey that was easy."

    And for an encore Man went on to prove that black is white and gets himself killed at the next zebra crossing.

  2. 5. Why is the “news” always bad except when someone is rescued from something bad?

    Definitely one of the reasons I haven't watched the news for months!

    Some great questions there! :)

  3. Hi Fleming!

    Elephants routinely go insane. It's been documented in particular with those in captivity. They're too smart, and have to be given puzzles to solve daily such as hidden food, to keep them occupied or they start rampaging.

    Pigs also go insane. I've seen it personally with a pair of pigs we had when I was a kid. Ever heard a pig scream? It never leaves me.

  4. Wombat, your Babelfish reference has inspired me to post a new piece, on the Tower of Babel.

    Even more important, it seems that you have identified Douglas Adams as God, for he is the creator of the Babelfish. A secondary proof of his status is that "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" is better written than the Bible.

    Thank you for the brilliant comment, illustrious Wombat.

  5. Amit, thank you. I stopped reading newspapers years ago and tolerate a little TV news only as a duty to my other blog. Each morning I watch the old man across the street trudge down his driveway to pick up his two newspapers and I think, "If you'd give up that poison you wouldn't need an emergency rescue team and a fire engine over there every couple of weeks to revive you."

  6. Yes, Shelley, there is a God. Look at Wombat's comment and my reply . . . not to mention my new post.

  7. Shelley, about elephants and pigs going insane, I was afraid somebody would come along and reveal my ignorance, and you haven't let me down.

    If I hadn't been trying to save words in that post, I was going to say that I was referring to animals in their natural state, and not to those driven nuts by humans. . . but you probably think I'm just making this up after the fact.

    I keep thinking that I read an article about pets developing the mental disorders of their owners, or something like that.

    Seriously, I would really like to know if there are statistics on psychosis in humans versus other animals.

  8. Canines go "insane" when infected with Rabies .. and "animals" can also behave peculiarly when, errm, inebriated. Apparently parrots do quite peculiar things after feasting on fermenting fruit.

    On language: When young, humans can quite easily learn and use multiple languages (though most of us don't bother) .. but if we can do that, how come we can't "talk to the animals"?

  9. Davo, that's a good question about talking with the animals. The more I watch them the more extensively I believe they communicate.

  10. i talk with animals all the time. i find them reasonable, consistant and fair.

    and all dogs bite......

    great questions.

    and douglas adams was a rare treasure.

    and the answer is 42.

  11. if a man is having a q and a with a disincarnate voice, he`s either psychologically insane or he has all the proof he needs.

    and faith is the religious bureaucrat`s way of keeping the stupid attending to his needs.

  12. Alistair, strange questions deserve strange comments!

    Really, I enjoyed your comments very much. I'd like for you to do some tranlsations from Feline for me if you have time, and a bit of Mocking Bird and Owl.

    I especially enjoy your observation about "faith". That sums up a lot about organized religions.

    Thanks, Dr. Alistair!

  13. Um, Fleming, that didn't start out to be a "trick" question, was thinking more along the lines of Dr. Dolittle "chatting" with the animals.

    Yes, "communicating" with non-human animals is a different, quite long and complex, subject. The thought has also just occurred to me that we find it much easier to communicate with mammals. Understanding the communication of reptiles and avians is a different school of fish :-).

  14. 4. it doesn`t matter whether stock market predictions are correct. they are the tools of investment bureacrats to keep the stupid attending to thier needs.

    9. interesting how we can draw pleasing inferences from postings where others are irritated beyond thier ability to contain thier hostility.

    12. promises are the tool of choice of the political bureaucrats designed to keep the stupid meeting thier needs.
    (do you see a pattern emerging?)

    14. neuro-transmitter washout.

    we can only respond to so much phenylethylamine and oxycotin.

    after that we need a hobby and seperate beds.

    15. (sigh.) logically speaking, there isn`t.

    16. in my view, the god of the old testament was a cranky old patriarch typical of um, king james......perfect for intimidating the stupid/faithful.

  15. .. am a long way past 42 (as is Fleming, methinks) .. does that make us smarter than Douglas Adams? Well, perhaps not in my case, too many Pan Galactic gargle Blasters .. heh.

  16. I've been reading alot on the Pagan religion, sites on the internet since now, thank God, their symbol can be placed on a believers tombstone in Arlington Cemetery. YaY. One thing I picked up which is very, very cool that all life lives on after the body or "form" dies, expires, all in this case includes all "life forms" humans too.

    Fun post Fleming, thanks.

  17. Davo, thanks. Dr. Dolittle was one of my favourite books. (Never mind how the filmmakers mangled it.) And I'm sure you're right about communicating best with mammals. Fish don't like me (maybe because I've eaten so many of them),and although I love birds I don't like them any closer to me than the nearest tree. My parakeet used to peck my pencil to bits when I was writing and also make my earlobe bleed. I tried to discuss those things with him many times, but there was absolutely no communication between us whatsoever.

    The same for the parrot in the neighbourhood of my youth. It squawked loudly most of each day for fifteen years and never said a think that I could understand. I went with a girl/woman (choose one) who took her parrot for rides on her Harley Davidson, little parrot face sticking out of her leather jacket, and I never could understand her or the parrot.

  18. P.S. to Davo: We can't be smarter than Douglas Adams. He is God, remember?

    So no reason to go easy on those Pan Galactic Gargle Blasters. They'll keep us going (or numb) until Douglas comes back for us.

    (He did promise to come back, didn't he?)

  19. Alistair, I really enjoyed your comment with the numbered lines. A welcome embellishment to my ravings.

  20. Zoey, thanks for the reminder that paganism is alive and well. There's still hope, then.

  21. I have no doubt whatsoever that the two animals (the four legged ones) who live at this address, have indeed developed the mental disorders of their human companions. Aside from that, it is important to state that these same two animals DO INDEED communicate clearly and well with us on a regular basis.

  22. Re: "Why are humans the only animals which routinely go insane?"

    Maybe the animals would like to define "insane" in their own terms. How could you know what an animal might define as insane?

    Even for humans, the definition of "insanity" is questionable.

  23. Anonymous, you commentators are too smart for my silly questions. Very good answer. The truth is I DON'T know what an animal might define as insane.

    Thank you for commenting.

  24. The stories in the 'Bible' are based on very old myths and only literalists believe that myths should be accepted as literal truth. No one expects that from folktales or fairytales but then they hold the 'Bible' to a different standard. Of course, this is the fault of the writers of the books that now have been collected in the form of a single 'word of God' text as well as religious leaders who want to convince people that 'every word' is directly from the Creator.
    God cannot be defined by ANY human being or limited to the restrictions of any human language. How any one can believe literally in myths that were borrowed from more ancient civilisations than the Hebrews is beyond my own (admittedly limited human) comprehension.

    The story of the Great Flood is based on the Sumerian tale of Gilgamesh which probably was based on even older oral accounts by storytellers. The Tower of Babel story is found in many different cultures and I think there is even an ancient Egyptian tale that mirrors it somewhat.

    Here is where the entire basis of the Jewish depiction of 'Jehovah' or 'Yahweh' breaks down into utter nonsense. Why would the real God choose any tribe or group as his 'chosen people'? The entire thread that runs through the 'Old Testament', purporting to give the Hebrews some special status and special dispensation to pillage, rape and even commit genocide is more than suspect.

    The creature depicted in many of the Jewish works that are incorporated in the 'Bible' is nothing more than a series of misrepresentations of God perpetrated by the Hebrews to attempt to justify their conquests of Canaan. God therefore cannot be held to account for lies and fictions created by those who purported to be his 'chosen people'. It is not God who is described by most of these tales. Yahweh probably is a misrepresentation of El in any case, so one
    wouldn't wish to throw out the baby with the bath water.

    Apart from this, however, the Bible contains some gems of real truth and wisdom. There are hymns of great beauty among the Psalms and philosophical declarations of wisdom by Solomon or Suleiman.

    The stories of the Creation, the Tower of Babel and the Great Flood are fantastic tales that should be enjoyed and appreciated as creative interpretations of mythic events.

    Unfortunately, as in the case of many religions, the 'fundamentalists' have placed an impossible burden of proof upon old myths. This does not in any way reflect upon God or the true nature of the Divine. It is human misrepresentation and that pernicious human need to control the universe that is at the root of the problem.

    'I speak for God' has to be one of the worst spiritual crimes that can be committed by any human being. That is not to say that human beings cannot be inspired by the Divine or even that the 'word of God' does not exist. Common sense, however, should be used to distinguish between truth and fiction.

    Those like Jesus and Muhammad who truly have spoken for God can be judged by the message: 'God is Love'. 'God is all Merciful, all Compassionate.' 'Your Lord is the Lord of all Mercy and Compassion.'
    This is the Word of God, not found in any declarations of special dispensation for crimes committed by Hebrew tribes.

    One last note: There is nothing 'inferior' or 'criminal' about fiction. It is one of the most wonderful gifts that the Divine has given humanity. On the other hand, people do need to be able to distinguish between fact and fiction.
    No one can dispute that the book of Genesis contains some beautiful poetry:

    'In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the Waters. And God said: Let there be Light. And there was Light. And God saw that the Light was good. And God separated the Light from the Darkness. God called the Light Day and the Darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day. ...
    And God said, 'Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.' And it was so. And God made the two great lights: the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night -- and the stars. And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. and there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day. And God said, 'Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens' So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird acorrding to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, 'Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas and let birds multiply on the earth.' And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.'

    This is poetry. It is not a literal account of 'creation'. Humanity ever has sought to describe the ordering of the universe and the way in which order emerges from chaos.

    In fact, another way in which creation is described in the Bible is through the declaration: 'In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.... Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.' (St. John)

    One of the oldest Creation myths found in written form is the Enuma Elish:

    'When in the height Heaven was not named,
    And the earth beneath did not yet bear a name,
    And the primeval Apsu who begat them,
    and Chaos, Tiamut, the mother of them both,
    Their waters were mingled together,
    And no field was formed, no marsh was to be seen;
    When of the gods none had been called into being,
    And none bore a name, and no destinies were ordained;
    Then were created the gods in the midst of heaven:
    Lahmu and Lahamu were called into being...'

    Essentially, these Creation accounts describe a fundamental operation of magic. By naming an object and thus defining it, one brings it into existence. God named the Light and thus created it. Order from chaos... this is what is described in every Creation tale.

    From ancient Sumer:

    'When Anu, Bel and Ea,
    The great gods, through their sure counsel
    Fixed the bounds of heaven and earth,
    And to the hands of the great gods entrusted
    The creation of the day and the renewal of the month which they might behold.
    And mankind beheld the Sun-god in the gate of his going forth,
    In the midst of heaven and earth they duly created him.

    In this context, the 'gods' are lesser beings called into being by the Divine.

    Yahweh or Jehovah or Allah: these are names for the same Divine Being.

    From Surah Al Baqarah: 'Behold! In the creation of the heavens and the earth, in the alternation of the Night and Day, in the sailing of the ships through the Ocean for the profit of mankind; in the rain which Allah sends down from the skies, and the life which He gives therewish to an earth that is dead; in the beasts of all kinds that He scatters through the earth; in the change of the winds and the clouds which they trail like their slaves between the sky and the earth: here indeed are Signs for those who are wise.'

    God is NOT Jewish. He cannot be restricted or limited by the claims of any tribe or ethnic group. To condemn him for the misrepresentations or false pretensions of any group would be wrong.

  25. Freyashawk, your comment is worthy of a post of its own, and so I am going to post it now on FLIGHTS OF PEGASUS.

    Thank you very much.

  26. 6. Why are humans sick so much more often than other animals?

    7. Why are humans the only animals which routinely go insane?

    Answer to 6. They aren't. The difference is that we are fluent in the languages in which they couch their complaints!

    Answer to 7. We aren't. Have you ever heard of a 'rogue elephant'?

  27. P.S. As far as insanity is concerned, let's not forget insects and documentation of their insanity. I was involved once in the publication of a book on the 'Sociology of Ants' and therefore read it when otherwise it might have escaped my interest. It was an academic publication and had chapters that dealt with every form of behaviour (including insanity) that human beings usually believe to belong exclusively to their species.

  28. Freyashawk, as two more cudgel blows fall upon my head because of my question, "Why are humans the only animals which routinely go insane?" I am ready to admit my error.

    Obviously -- as you and Shelley and others have pointed out -- we are surrounded by raving lunatics of all species and genera. I've lived for years in peaceful unawareness that the dog next door is being urged by the voice of God to kill all humans, that what appears to be an ordinary cat gazing into space is hallucinating, that the turtle sunning itself on a log is actually in clinical depression, that the pig who contributed to my hot dog probably imagined itself to be the Napoleon of porcines, that the snake crossing my path is fleeing from imagined persecutors, that the frenetic ant which seems a little confused is totally out of touch with reality . . . and that as far around the world as my imagination can take me a multitude of camels, hippos, tigers, pandas, beetles, kangaroos, fish, turtles, horses and -- yes -- even wombats are lucky if they're suffering from nothing worse than advanced obsessive-compulsive personality disorder.

    I hereby resign my position as research director of the Mickey Mouse Mental Health Institute, which I obtained under false pretenses, including a forged Ph.D. diploma in psychiatry rom the University of Sago Sago Island, and confess that my paper, "Only Humans Go Bonkers", was based on inadequate studies.

    Like Paul Wolfowitz at the World Bank, however, I shall make a condition of my resignation a statement from the Mickey Mouse Institute that my performance as reserach director was of the highest possible quality and that there exist no grounds whatsoever for my leaving the Institute other than my desire to further my career elsewhere.

  29. Speaking of dogs and commands to kill all humans, didn't a famous serial killer nicknamed 'Son of Sam' claim that God in the form of a canine indeed HAD ordered him to kill people?

    At this point, however, one might ask: Whoever determined that insanity was a bad thing? (That's an entirely different kettle of fish... oh dear, no one mentioned the aquatic world and the forays of its denizens into insanity).

  30. fleming : Just got back from the Annual Wombats Migration last week. Glad to hear that my reference to H2G2 inspired a posting of your own.

    Excuse me, while I go rest my paws.