Riker's Mailbox

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


Wow, never has my behavior on this blog been so counter to typical. Usually I promise to keep writing regularly, then fall off the horse*. This time, I excuse myself from writing, and end up posting prolifically. I should learn my lesson and stop trying to predict my future contributory habits.

So, what was I going to talk about?

Oh yeah. PhysOrg. This is a great website that harvests online news items of a generally scientific nature and herds them into categories like space/earth science, technology, health/medicine, doomsday devices, and physics**.

Anyway, there was one article that was pretty interesting in and of itself: In a nutshell, it strives to explain how ancient humans, despite lacking massive muscles and fangs/claws, began to add meat to their diets long before the advent of hunting weapons. Essentially, it states that while humans aren't commonly thought of as athletic in the animal world, as compared to powerful gorillas or fast cheetas, for example, we are the best endurance runners on the planet. No other animal willfully runs extended distances like we do for sport or for exercise. While other animals can run much faster, they can only do so over short distances. Humans, however, have developed springy tendons to store rebound energy and also the ability to dump the massive amounts of heat generated during running by being relatively hairless, sweating profusely, and breathing through the mouth. We could run animals to the point of exhaustion/hyperthermia, and dispatch them easily after they collapsed.

Like I said, this was interesting in and of itself, but it's not why I wanted to share it today. This article also contained one of the most unabashedly boneheaded 'smart quotes' I've ever read:

"Humans are terrible athletes in terms of power and speed, but we’re phenomenal at slow and steady. We’re the tortoises of the animal kingdom," Lieberman said.



Maybe they're the leprechauns of the plant kingdom. That'd make a comparable amount of sense.

Few things are more entertaining to me than the intelligent person who gets distracted by elevated concepts to the point that he flies right over the basic ones (like context and literality; common sense fits in there too). Of course, I am as guilty as anyone, and I'm probably not that intelligent***.

(For the full text of the article: http://www.physorg.com/news95954919.html )

* - So this scriptwriting hiatus isn't exactly falling off the horse... but it's putting crisco on the saddle.
** - Chalk it up to faulty memory.
*** - but I sure keep myself entertained.

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