It’s Saturday morning, the first one of 2023, and hopefully all of my readers are reading this only after having slept late in a nice, warm, cuddly bed, preferably with loved ones‒a significant other, a spouse, dogs and/or cats, whatever‒nearby. If you drink coffee or tea, hopefully you’re having a warm cup as you read*, especially if you’re in a chillier clime than south Florida (though the current 60 degrees Fahrenheit feels slightly chilly here).
I had nearly five full hours of sleep last night, which compared to the previous three or four nights feels like an absolute surfeit of sleep, a veritable treasure trove of slumber. To be fair, I don’t really feel fully rested, but I feel so much closer to being rested that it’s worth paraphrasing Tolkien and saying that it’s reminiscent of the taste of a slice from a loaf of fine white bread to one who is literally starving.
It’s interesting how much our appreciation of things is dependent upon contrast. Stepping into a highly air-conditioned room feels terrific after you’ve been outside working on a very hot summer day. But after being in that room for an hour, you might start feeling uncomfortably cold. At that point, stepping back out into the heat can feel like a wonderful relief in its turn.
I suppose nervous systems really must be formed in such fashion, because they have to especially take note of those things that are outside the “norm” of a stable background input, as these are the sorts of things that have a higher chance of being relevant to the organism.
Although, to be fair, there are absolute levels of things that will always be unpleasant simply because of how extreme they are. I don’t think anyone would enjoy being shoved outside naked in an Antarctic winter for even a minute, though one’s discomfort would likely be short-lived…as would one, oneself in such a situation. Likewise, I don’t think most people would appreciate being plopped into the middle of Death Valley on a particularly hot summer day, without any water, and again, without any clothes.
I really need to stop doing things like that to people, especially when it’s just to demonstrate hypothetical points.
As you can no doubt tell‒or at least reasonably surmise, if you’ve been reading my blog for a while‒I am working today, so I am at the train station waiting for the first train of the day to arrive. As I said, it’s slightly cool for south Florida, but there’s little to no wind, and I have a nice hoody jacket to wear, so this is fine. At least I’m not sweaty and sticky.
I still haven’t discovered how to check the results (so far) of my poll, but to be honest, I haven’t really tried, either. I was so sleepy all day yesterday. I was also grumpy, and rather dopey, and a bit bashful, as always. I was definitely not happy, and not particularly sneezy, either. But I am, and always will be, Doc. And, appropriately enough, I just got on the train, so, Heigh-Ho Heigh-Ho, it’s off to work I go.
I was going to wonder how many of you have seen the movie to which I was making somewhat oblique references in that last paragraph, but it occurred to me that many of my readers are probably comparable in age to me, and so will have seen it. Youth these days will probably have been protected from viewing certain depictions of people and things in animated movie versions of fairy tales, just in case anyone is “offended”.
Meanwhile, of course, it’s perfectly okay to depict aliens as evil and dangerous, in movies like Independence Day and War of the Worlds, to say nothing of the eponymous Alien. I therefore share the sentiments of the 12th Doctor‒who is also an alien‒when he said, “There’s a horror movie called Alien? That’s really offensive, no wonder everyone keeps invading you.”
I’m being tongue in cheek, of course, and the Doctor was being deliberately curmudgeonly within the story, and of course, delivering a line written specifically for comic appeal when one looks at things from beyond the 4th wall. But it is a shame when people censor not just themselves but works of art from the past for fear that someone might be “offended”, when most people‒even those who could possibly find personal offense‒know enough not to take such things too seriously, and to avoid them if they’re bothered.
Only a small fraction of tantruming kids** make a lot of noise over such perceived slights. But they do make a lot of noise, and it’s easy for people who just want to go about their business to mistake that noise for a real signal, to use terminology from information theory and communications technology.
But of course, if you keep mistaking noise for signal, and jumping and fleeing at top speed in response to every rustle of wind as if it is a deadly predator, you’re going to exhaust yourself, and then you won’t have the wherewithal to detect an actual signal of danger when it comes…and soon the lion will have it’s jaws around your throat.
That’s a situation the lions would be quite happy to engender, since they can’t expect you to treat every signal as noise just from the get-go. (Please note, much of this is metaphor. I doubt there are many actual lions who spend much time contemplating information theory and signal to noise ratios as part of their strategy to bring down prey. Many lions have never even heard of Claude Shannon, and only too many of them aren’t well-versed in the technical aspects of wireless communication. Some lions don’t even have access to the internet, if you can believe it!)
Anyway, that’s enough for a Saturday morning. I don’t think I’ve successfully discussed any particular subject, nor achieved anything edifying or beneficial or probably even entertaining, despite having written over a thousand words.
Now that’s what I call a result.
*Though if you sweeten it, I recommend using a “non-caloric sweetener” rather than sugar or syrup or honey or any other similar, so-called natural sweetener. Remember, rattlesnake venom is natural, too. That doesn’t mean it’s good for you. Anyway, table sugar isn’t any more “natural” than refined petroleum products are natural.
**To again quote the 12th Doctor. He had some brilliant lines, which of course were particularly good because they were delivered by Peter Capaldi.