Humans may not be the only social creatures on the planet, but it is our ability to cooperate flexibly in large numbers that gives us the edge, or dominance, over other lifeforms, including the likes of ants and bees who also organise themselves to varying degrees.
The real difference between us and other animals is on the collective level. Humans control the world because we are the only animal that can cooperate flexibly in large numbers. Ants and bees can also work together in large numbers, but they do so in a very rigid way. If a beehive is facing a new threat or a new opportunity, the bees cannot reinvent their social system overnight in order to cope better. They cannot, for example, execute the queen and establish a republic. Wolves and chimpanzees cooperate far more flexibly than ants, but they can do so only with small numbers of intimately known individuals. Among wolves and chimps, cooperation is based on personal acquaintance. If I am a chimp and I want to cooperate with you, I must know you personally: What kind of chimp are you? Are you a nice chimp? Are you an evil chimp? How can I cooperate with you if I don’t know you?
And then there is Route 50, a black ribbon that stretches from Ocean City, Maryland, to Sacramento. “For the unhurried, this little-known highway is the best national road across the middle of the United States,” wrote William Least Heat-Moon in Blue Highways, his classic 1982 account of driving the nation’s back roads in search of the nation’s heart. Fifteen years later, Time magazine called this same strip of pavement “The Backbone of America” in a cover story that was part travelogue, part sociopolitical pulse-taking. It is a long backbone, 3,007 miles in length, its vertebrae etched with names like Loogootee, Pruntytown, Poncha Springs and Majors Place.
There’s a 460 kilometre section of the highway, approximately between the borders of Utah and California, that has been dubbed the “Loneliest Road in America”… would that not be a journey to remember or what?
It happens to me all the time, especially on the freeway, I find myself stuck behind a large lumbering truck. Usually there’s the option of eventually overtaking it by moving into another lane going in the same direction.
But what about situations where there is only one lane available in your direction of travel, and an overtaking manoeuvre requires moving into the on-coming traffic lane?
A clear view of the road ahead, before attempting to move into the other lane, would be useful, to say the least, but sometimes such chances are far and few between. How about then attaching a widescreen monitor to the back of large vehicles, that projects an image of what lies ahead? Sounds like an idea worth looking into.
Let’s talk about tact: a noble virtue, a lost virtue, a very necessary virtue. Long gone, it seems, are the days when tact was common, or in which people behaved with thoughtfulness, discretion, and sensitivity. Long gone is the era wherein people generally minded their own goddamn business.
I sometimes find people who are tactless attempt to warn others of this by stating they are “opinionated”. They speak their mind, fair enough. Try giving an opinionated person a taste of their own medicine though. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander, right?
Don’t be so sure.
On the other hand, there are one or two people who struggle, or are, for whatever reasons reluctant, to express themselves in a direct fashion. Theirs is a world of silence and involuntary agreement. There has to be a happy balance between the two, right?
Propelled into marriage to a well meaning, though work focused doctor, Charles Bovary (Henry Lloyd-Hughes), Emma (Mia Wasikowska) soon tires of life in the quiet nineteenth century Normandy country town where they have settled, in Madame Bovary, trailer, the second feature of French-American filmmaker Sophie Barthes (“Cold Souls”).
In a bid to stave off boredom, the once virtuous convent student is soon fornicating with local men including Leon (Ezra Miller), and the Marquis of Andervilliers (Logan Marshall-Green), while racking up ever more debt with Monsieur Lheureux (Rhys Ifans), a manipulative merchant, who continues to extend credit to her and Charles.
Gustave Flaubert’s acclaimed 1856 novel of the same name saw the French writer charged with obscenity, such was the scandal it caused at the time. Barthes often lifeless adaptation however runs no risk of making waves. Its beautiful, and intricately fashioned, scenes will though be the envy of Instagrammers the world over.
Robots powered by artificial intelligence, and other similarly “smart” machines, stand to deprive many of us of jobs at some point in the future. The question for many then is, how long could I continue in my current line of work, before I need to re-skill?
Planet Money has put together a guide that estimates the likelihood of a particular role becoming automated over the next twenty years. Provided I continue working as a writer, there remains about a four percent chance that my job could be automated.