Monday, March 14, 2011

Zeno's Drain

A question I had in high school: if water drains counterclockwise in the northern hemisphere and clockwise in the south, then what happens at the equator?  Is there some point where the water goes straight down?  Or is it a Zeno’s paradox of finer and finer distinctions between north and south?

And how does the Earth’s rotational wobble factor in?

Choices are rarely between two mutually exclusive options.  And in those rare cases where it truly appears to be a matter of either-or, the options are seldom commensurate: options that can be meaningfully contrasted by a list of pros and cons.  More frequently the comparison is apples to oranges—or apples to the Italian Renaissance. 

Any time a choice among a set number of options is offered, know that the situation has been artificially simplified in the service of someone’s agenda.  We are almost always free to choose from an infinite array of potential courses of action.  A choice between any two directions implies a third path in between, and a choice between that third path and one or the other of the original two implies yet another middle way.  There are 360 degrees of arc in a circle, and each degree can be further partitioned into minutes and seconds.  And our path is not restricted to a straight line.  We are free to sally one direction for a time and then alter our course yet again.

As long as the potential for a future is preserved—as individuals and as a species—its substance is open-ended.  

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