Wednesday, September 07, 2005

What is a human? 

Borrowed from Anarchangel:
"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects." -- Lazarus Long, Robert Heinlein, "Time Enough For Love"
So am I human?

* Change a diaper - yes
* Plan an invasion - only in role-playing
* Butcher a hog - no
* Conn a ship - just a canoe
* Design a building - no
* Write a sonnet - yes
* Balance accounts - yes
* Build a wall - no but I've mended them
* Set a bone - no
* Comfort the dying - yes
* Take orders - yes
* Give orders - yes
* Cooperate - yes
* Act alone - yes
* Solve equations - yes
* Analyze a new problem - yes
* Pitch manure - haven't, but I can't see why I couldn't
* Program a computer - yes
* Cook a tasty meal - yes
* Fight efficiently - yes
* Die gallantly - not yet

He notes that this list is remeniscent of Kim du Toit's list of things a man should do before he dies. I'm not a man, but I say any human should aspire to this list:

1. Shoot a gun larger than a .22 - yes
2. Teach a kid to shoot - only if I can define a kid like the Brady Campaign as anyone under 24
3. Cook a meal out in the open (and I don’t mean a backyard BBQ). - I've helped
4. Kill an animal which can kill you - no
5. Taste a good brandy (no French cognacs need apply) and a fine single malt Scotch - no, and no interest in doing so
6. Visit at least eight countries outside your own continent, none of which speak your home language - yes
7. Read any six Shakespeare plays - yes
8. Win a solo sporting competition—anything that involves physical exercise - yes
9. Be part of a winning sports team - yes, if you count pickup games
10. Make love with a woman in a forbidden place - ...define forbidden
11. Have a strange woman invite you home with her; and refuse her, because you’re married - not yet
12. Build something tangible—out of wood, steel, brick, whatever - yes
13. Sit up all night comforting a sick child - no
14. Tell the truth, where a lie would both be undiscoverable, and keep you out of trouble - yes
15. Watch at least one real virtuoso play a musical instrument—in any kind of music - yes
16. Perform on stage (music, theater, whatever), to a large (500+) audience - yes
17. Play at least one musical instrument competently - yes
18. Make love to a woman at least ten years older than you are - yes (a man, though)
19. Tell a government bureaucrat to fuck off - not in so many words
20. And finally: tell a true story to your grandchildren - not yet

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