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05 May 2007

So caught up in “Princess Yuki Walking” that I slowed from forty miles an hour during the fast parts to fifteen when it slowed, without even realizing it.

The inheritance of whole systems at successive scales above the genetic; what would this look like? Whole systems stratified according to which characteristics? Their interactions with other systems?

Encountered a skunk tonight after reading about skunks in R.D. Lawrence’s “The Wildlife of Canada.” Didn’t feel scared -- retreated a few steps, he stopped, I stopped, he went on his way. In the night I could hear the sounds of urban life, but also skunk in the grass; the two are not exclusive.

Is a secular democracy the only form of democracy capable of protecting human rights? This seems to be the assumption -- that church and state must be separate -- but must they necessarily be?

Is it worse for, say, 1000 people to be forcibly deprived of their life and freedom, or for twice that number to be deprived of life and freedom, but by (avoidable) circumstance rather than active oppression?

Smells of conditions, such as bemusement or good fortune, the latter of which would have a rather different smell than success, and the former a hint of vanilla.

... the name of the sensation felt when disembarking a plane and walking up a ramp so gently sloping that it seems flat, and you’re not sure why your sluggish balance lists.

Could our paradoxical ability to feel more compassion for a suffering animal than a suffering person be rooted in our tendency as children to empathize more easily with animals, which are alternately examples of freedom or of comradeship in dependence, and generally less difficult to understand than distant and complicated people?

Something made me recall these things together: a New York Times story on the banking of stem cells for future repairs of athletes, the more vicious nature of contemporary hockey and a short story about a group of soldiers who find a dog. The soldiers live in a blasted-out chemical wasteland, genetically modified to metabolize dirt and stone, and after frequent battle -- or even self-mutilation, or violent play -- are treated with medical techniques that can regrow new limbs and fuse mangled bones. At first they don’t believe the dog is real, because nothing natural could live in such a toxic environment, but they are eventually won over by its toughness, and soon come to feel affection for it -- affection being a forgotten emotion. But the dog is too difficult to care for and finally they eat it. Is the relationship between the ability to treat injury and the inability to care causal? Of course not. But somehow these characteristics have flowed in opposite directions in hockey, where players then as now fought hand and foot, but were not in the past thoughtless.