Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

I wouldn't do this for anybody else . . .

But the Dharma Bums want me to accept infection by a "meme,"* specifically:

You are stuck inside Fahrenheit 451. Which book would you be?
[Note: In the novel - because books were burned -
to save the content of books, people memorized one in order to pass the content on to others.]

The Encyclopedia Britannica. At least I'd make a sincere effort, I'd probably start at "K" and work my way outward in both directions.

Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?

Technically yes, but it was a character I wrote myself.

What is the last book you bought?

How the Mind Works, by Stephen Pinker.

What are you currently reading?

This is what we call a stochastic variable. I'm not sure what conclusions anyone can draw from the answer since it will be different tomorrow. But the answer does happen to be somewhat interesting, it's "Basic Call to Consciousness," written and edited by representatives of the Ho De No Shau Nee, known to the European settlers as the Iroquois Confederation. (Ho De No Shau Nee, they tell us, means People who Build). Specifically the authors were residents of the St. Regis Mohawk reservation in New York and Canada, who at that time also produced a periodical called Akwesasne Notes. The book describes the actions and teachings of a man called The Peacemaker, until the writing of this book known only through oral tradition. His teachings combined metaphysical ideas about the human place in the universe, a principle-based ethical system, and a Confucian-like set of prescriptions for social order and harmony.

Five books for your desert island cruise package. this was in an earlier version just a deserted island. guess it evolved. take your pick.

The Penguin Complete Works of Shakespeare. (Maybe this is cheating but it is one book, it's all inside one set of covers.)

A calculus textbook. (I've always wanted to master calculus and what the hell, now I've got the time.)

The "Real Book" -- a jazz fakebook with 100s of what we call "charts" -- melodies and chord changes. I'm assuming I have my sax with me.

Moby Dick.

The Three Pillars of Zen by Phillip Kapleau Roshi.

Who are you going to pass this book meme baton to and why? (only three people)

That's a little tough since the Bums and I travel to a considerable extent in the same blog circles, and I don't want to impose on anyone. Any volunteers to take it from here?

"Examples of memes are tunes, ideas, catch-phrases, clothes fashions, ways of making pots or of building arches. Just as genes propagate themselves in the gene pool by leading from body to body via sperm or eggs, so memes propagate themselves in the meme pool by leaping from brain to brain via a process which, in the broad sense, can be called imitation. If a scientist hears, or reads about, a good idea, he passes it on to his colleagues and students. He mentions it in his articles and his lectures. If the idea catches on, it can be said to propagate itself, spreading from brain to brain.
Memes should be regarded as living structures, not just metaphorically but technically. When you plant a fertile meme in my mind, you literally parasitize my brain, turning it into a vehicle for the meme's propagation in just the way that a virus may parasitize the genetic mechanism of a host cell. And this isn't just a way of talking -- the meme for, say, 'belief in life after death' is actually realized physically, millions of times over, as a structure in the nervous systems of people all over the world."

-- Richard Dawkins (no, not the B-list British comic actor from Hogan's Heroes and later on one of those ultra-sleazy game shows)

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