Jimbits vol. 3

by James Somers, March 8, 2010

Another batch of mini-posts:

Sexual graphs

Maybe this is obvious, but I hadn’t really thought about it until recently: when a group of homosexuals hangs out, each member of the group could potentially hook up with every other member; in terms of sexual opportunities their graph is fully connected. This is decidedly not the case among heterosexuals, who form what’s called a “bipartite” graph.

Imagine how this must change the social dynamics!

Under the sea

In the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, we are told that humans are actually only the third most intelligent species on Earth, after lab rats (who have really been experimenting on us) and dolphins.

I find this hierarchy oddly plausible, with one exception: there should be a place up there for squid. Not those small idiot squid that live in the shallows, but their cousins, the massive mega-intelligent beasts that live far, far deeper—the giant geniuses who are, presumably, actually doing something useful with all that ink.

Reading pools

The idea here is to combine book clubs and gambling. Everyone who’d like to participate in a regular reading group first buys in for a certain nontrivial amount of money, say, $50. Anyone who quits before the end, or fails to attend enough meetings, or doesn’t read and actively contribute, forfeits their cash. Whatever is left in the pot at the end is divvied up among the remaining readers.

Sheer egoism

George Orwell cited “sheer egoism” as the number one reason he became an author (in “Why I Write”). I’m starting to think that this must be true of every writer. Why else would they bother? Ninety percent of what most writers end up writing has been written before, and written well. What original thoughts you might stumble on are most likely insignificant. And if you ever chance upon an insight that’s both original and important, what are the odds that you’ll express it correctly, that is, in a way that people will want to read? Or that whatever audience you do find will be worth anything in the long run?

I’m convinced, therefore, that the only way to gear yourself up to write with any passion is to be unusually wrapped up in yourself, or at least to have a kind of delusional faith in your own ideas.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.