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Progress, and yet

April 16, 2014

The season rolls on, happens every year, and we should count ourselves lucky in this respect. Those who are ready prosper, those who are unready may perish. I always wonder how many fledglings or baby lizards make it compared to those that don’t. And “making it” in the natural world means that you put offspring into the next generation, and then those offspring in turn contribute to the next generation. Actually, a very demanding measure. That is, one must have grandchildren in order to be evolutionarily “fit”.

Well, I ain’t here to talk about the natural world, but it is one of my favorite items of contemplation. Recently found some pithy quotes from one Herman Melville, who wrote other things besides Moby Dick (thank goodness).

“This made him very cross and irritable, as most librarians are.”

“…yet, somehow, the books that prove most agreeable, grateful, and companionable, are those we pick up by chance here and there; those which seem put into our hands by Providence; those which pretend to little, but abound in much.”

From the chapter “A Man-of-War Library” in White Jacket, H. Melville, 1850.

This volume, as well as Typee (1846, I think), was put into my hands by the little kiosk library in my neighborhood. Let’s hear it for browsing and unexpected finds and unbounded recreational reading.

Just an observation: Is it a function of “civilization” to make things more difficult, or should such organization make things simpler? I am in favor of the latter—but where does the preponderance of evidence lie? Just asking.

Hope your life is getting simpler, mliswilltravel.

Forgot: A fascinating blog post by mathematician Timothy Gowers on pricing of Elsevier journals and expenditures by public universities

And this person took the data and plotted it into graph format

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