Archive for the ‘random thoughts’ Category

Divine Intervention

October 20, 2009

I spent the end of last week moping about a quiz that I thought I did poorly on. When I  got it back this afternoon, I found that  I did quite well!  Must have been divine intervention.

divine intervention


Monty Python in 16th Century China

October 19, 2009

Like so many things, the Chinese  had Monty Python well before the West.  My wife was looking through a book on Ming Dynasty Chinese ceramics, and look what she found:

Ming Dynasty monty python

The resemblance of this 1620’s era dish to the Rabbit of Caerbannog is uncanny.  While I am not accusing the Pythons of plagiarism yet, I consider it fair warning to reveal that I am currently looking into rumers of a early Qing dynasty dead panda sketch.


August 16, 2008

Last night my parents took Petek and I to see “Big Top Chautauqua” outside of Bayfield, Wisconsin.  The show was about the history of Minnesota, and featured a whole bunch of black and white pictures of daily Minnesotan life from the late 19th and early 20th century.  There were a few historical events that I was surprised to have never heard of, and the live music was great, but my strongest impression was of the roughness of life during that period.  In the expressions of the people in the photographs, I was reminded of my days in the countryside of China.  After living in China for a while, I realized that people expected much less from the government.  They knew that if they got sick or hurt, there would be no government safety net to take care of them.  They knew that they had to make plans (children) so they would have means to get by in old age.  Often, I felt as though people were just trying to get by.  I imagine Minnesotan pioneers would have had a similar attitude.

Why They are so Cute

May 16, 2008

Cute, aren't they?

Mencius, a Chinese contemporary of Aristotle, was fond of the following parable: No matter how evil a person is, the sight of a baby about to fall into a well will distress him. Mencius’ anecdote is meant to show that human beings are innately good, but it works just as well as an illustration of Darwin’s theory of natural selection. If there are some people who find babies cute, lovable, and precious, and some other people who are indifferent to the wellbeing of babies, which group is more likely to have surviving descendants? After a few generations, there wouldn’t be any indifferent people left.

In Daniel Gilbert’s Stumbling on Happiness there is an anecdote about love for children. Although most parents believe that having children made them happier, studies which periodically question parents show that marital satisfaction suffers while children are being reared, only to return to premarital levels after children leave the household. Once again, people who believe that children make a person happy are more likely to have descendants, so this belief is ingrained in our genes and/or culture.

Don’t roll your eyes at your host’s decision to display a flower pot baby coffee table book. The decision was entirely genetic.

Do not ask for whom the blog was written…

May 12, 2008

While searching for some other demographic statistics, I was surprised to find:

1. World population reached 3 billion in 1961, and 6 billion in 1999. There were twice as many people in the world of my youth as that of my parents’ youth. (Does that mean my life is worth half as much as theirs, or has demand increased as well? 😛 )

2. In 1900 Africa had 133 million residents and Europe had 408 million residents. Today Africa is larger than Europe with a total population of 810 million to Europe’s 710 million.

3. Every day approximately 365,000 people are born and 152,000 people die. The number of deaths is about the same as the average number of WordPress blogs written per day.