Gwendoogle Part LXXVII – Civilization, Matches, and Other Burning Things

GwendoogleAnswer served with more magic than usual

IncyWincySpeeder searched: What’s your favorite mythical creature beginning with the letter U?
I have this feeling, that this question has a narrow aim for a specific target. However, I’m not sure if that target is unicorns or the undead.

But why would I pick a unicorn when I could choose the Uwan, Japanese disembodied voices that live in abandoned temples and homes, which spend their time shouting the linguistic equivalent of “Boo!” at anyone who steps inside?

Why would I pick the undead, when I could choose Alaska’s Urayuli, (“Hairy Men”), ten foot tall shaggy giants with knuckles that brush the ground, who scream like loons, but are otherwise quite friendly?

And why would I pick either, when I could choose the Uma-no-ashi, horse legs that grow on trees, hide in the leaves, and kick unsuspecting passersby?

Boomshadow searched: If you had to choose to give up one of your senses (smelling, hearing, etc.), in exchange for having another one super-enhanced, which sense would you give up and which would you boost?
If I had to, I can only think of three options:

1) I give up my sense of taste, because that lack seems the least like to impede my life from here on out. Then, I super-enhance my sense of smell, in the hopes that since scent and taste are so closely related, that that would balance things out and I would almost not notice anything had changed. I would have to run that by a doctor, biologist, and bio-engineer first, to make sure my logic was sound.

2) I give up my sense of taste, because hey, maybe that would cut down my dependency on chocolate. Then, I super-enhance my sight, because it would be nice not to have to wear glasses so that I can see details a foot in front of my face. Then, I would spend the rest of my life wondering if that was the correct choice, or if I really should have gone with super-enhanced hearing.

3) I give up my sense of taste, because – except for the stronger possibility of poisoning myself on sour milk – I really can’t find the downside to it. Then, I super-enhance my hearing so that I can play super-discreet-spy. Then, I would spend the rest of my life wondering if that was the correct choice, or if I really should have gone with super-enhanced sight.

Kate Kearney searched: Why can’t I have everything?
I was just asking myself the same question. In my case, I think it’s because my three options are mutually exclusive. I suspect you either have a time constraint, you’re not having much luck in negotiating with fate, or your options are, too.

Kate Kearney searched: What sorcery is this?
Mutual exclusivity? That’s not sorcery; it’s just logic.


Are you telling me that some warlock has shifted us all into an alternate universe, and cursed us with Mutual Exclusivity, an evil that should not exist?!

Apparently, we can’t have everything because we haven’t found that warlock yet.

Katie2aT searched: How fast can you say the alphabet?
Which one?

I’ve never timed myself on the English alphabet, but I can say the Greek alphabet three times in the time it takes a match to burn down, which has earned me the instant respect of several fraternity brothers. And they say no one is impressed by Classical Studies anymore…

Flip the Otter searched: What are the five most common accidents in a high school chemistry lab?
After spending some time researching this, I can only tell you three things with absolute certainty:

First, that high school students are very inventive.  Second, that high school students are not as easily led by a crowd as we might have thought, because each one makes their own unique mistakes. And third, that the list of five most common accidents looks something like this:

1. Experiment catches fire.
2. Equipment catches fire.
3. Student catches fire.
4. Student’s neighbor catches fire.
5. Student pours water on something already on fire, and it explodes.

The exact causes vary by the hour. The results are hot, loud, and strangely repetitive. Forget all roads lead to Rome. No. All roads lead to the Great Fire of Rome.

Reagan T. searched: Have you ever ridden a camel?
No, but if given the opportunity, I absolutely would.

Kate Kearney searched: What defines civilization?
Thank you for asking a question that has debilitated entire university classrooms, especially classrooms full of freshman, who in their youth still believe that a broad concept like the combined social and political construct of civilization can be given an exact definition. Gwendoogle is up to the challenge.

Civilization is generally accepted as a group of humans living together at a high population density. A civilization will generally have a food surplus, which is not to say that you might not have inhabitants going hungry, but that the food producers make more than they themselves need, thus allowing for other portions of the populations to adopt other professions. A civilization will generally have some sort of government employed. A civilization will generally have a stratified and interdependent class system. A civilization will generally have some form of taxes or coerced tribute. A civilization will generally have a body of accumulated learning, which might include trades, sciences, literature, morality, or philosophy.

Civilization may also include standing armies, frequent warfare, indentured or slave populations, and disease epidemics. This is the part of the definition where freshman’s heads begin to spin. This is the introduction to the idea that civilization is not the golden pinnacle of human existence that every society is reaching for as they might have previously been told, but just another state of human interaction that often follows the construction of larger cities, and, like all things, carries its full weight of pros and cons.

And like all complex discussions, the definition of a civilization is subject to the biases of the person constructing the definition. I myself wouldn’t call it civilization until there is a shower, bathtub, calm river, or really clean lake that I know how to get to, and that I know how to operate for scrubbing purposes. And robots.

HermioneGreater searched: Can you juggle?
I can juggle time, schedules, words, stories, theories, and ideas. I cannot juggle numbers. I cannot juggle more than one club, bean bag, baton, or globe. I absolutely cannot juggle baby geese.

Have a question for Gwendoogle? Leave it in comments below, and I’ll be back next week to answer it.

The question bucket currently has: 55 questions


2 thoughts on “Gwendoogle Part LXXVII – Civilization, Matches, and Other Burning Things

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