Some loosely coupled links for your morning:
An African lion (maybe?) is loose near the Reagan Presidential Library: Lion or tiger, not bear, oh my! And this is an interesting time for me to read that story, because I am just now in the midst of David Quammen’s excellent Monster of God: The Man-Eating Predator in the Jungles of History and the Mind.
In the book, Quammen speculates about what it means to be a large hominid near, but not quite at, the top of the food chain, contemplating the existence of various alpha predators (lions, tigers, leopards, crocodiles, grizzly and polar bears, a few sharks), all of whom share the tendency to occasionally have one of us for lunch.
Quammen is the author of the even-more-excellent The Song of the Dodo: Island Biogeography in an Age of Extinctions, so you can bet Monster of God deals with the consequences of our making it so those alpha predators disappear, and the tension between those who think such predators should be exterminated, and those who think they should be preserved.
But speaking of God and gods reminds me of a site I came across the other day by following the back link from a cherished lies.com commenter. You’ll recall that I previously linked to Jason Salavon, a digital artist who created averaged versions of each of four decades’ Playboy playmates. Now lies.com reader Larry Holdaway has done something similar with the faces of 295 porn stars and nude models, to produce Clotho, Lachesis & Atropos, that is, the three Fates. It’s pretty cool.
While checking that out, I noticed another interesting item from the God- (or gods-) obsessed Holdaway: God and the tool making apes, which links to a 1998 Douglas Adams speech, in which the late author said the following:
…early man has a moment to reflect and he thinks to himself, ‘well, this is an interesting world that I find myself in’ and then he asks himself a very treacherous question, a question which is totally meaningless and fallacious, but only comes about because of the nature of the sort of person he is, the sort of person he has evolved into and the sort of person who has thrived because he thinks this particular way. Man the maker looks at his world and says ‘So who made this then?’ Who made this? — you can see why it’s a treacherous question. Early man thinks, ‘Well, because there’s only one sort of being I know about who makes things, whoever made all this must therefore be a much bigger, much more powerful and necessarily invisible, one of me and because I tend to be the strong one who does all the stuff, he’s probably male’. And so we have the idea of a god. Then, because when we make things we do it with the intention of doing something with them, early man asks himself , ‘If he made it, what did he make it for?’ Now the real trap springs, because early man is thinking, ‘This world fits me very well. Here are all these things that support me and feed me and look after me; yes, this world fits me nicely’ and he reaches the inescapable conclusion that whoever made it, made it for him.
Okay. Enough rambling for one morning.