6. meanwhile

I really like Pandora radio, the music genome project. It is very adaptive in the same way that obedience and trust are adaptive. Back in the days of vinyl, when lp’s cost $3-5 on sale and weighed part of a pound, I used to go to the record department of a discount store and purchase two lp’s per paycheck. For less than $10 I could walk out of the mall with an old Fleetwood Mac and a Joni Mitchell album for $8.47 plus Virginia sales tax. The record’s dust sleeve usually had pictures and/or lyrics on it. What a tactile and three dimensional deal!! But do the poundage math– fifty albums with covers and sleeves would weigh 25 to 30 pounds and take up an entire storage crate. (Heavy lyrics in those days, think Bob Dylan and Neil Young.)  Double and triple that…then pack it all to take along to college with your bulky stereo component system. You needed to room with body builders or engineering nerds to avoid death by portage.

So digital music compressed onto an i-pod or available for free on your laptop is like dying in the sixties and waking up in music heaven. St. Peter shows you two mouse clicks to all the music you could possibly ever listen to in another lifetime. It’s highly efficient and adaptive… much more for much less. Do you know how many times I carried crates of my beloved albums up and down staircases, in and out of ratty apartments and rental houses? Did I have a dolly? Are you serious? I was not that far sighted. I own one now but lack the desire to move anything with it. I suppose that’s how the life of materialism goes: Those who have no longer use or want the crap they have acquired; meanwhile those who have not want what the have’s have but don’t really want anymore. Call it Groucho Marxism cuz it makes little sense. Buy crap to store your crap in and security systems and insurance policies to protect the crap that you don’t use or really want any more.

But how are obedience and trust adaptive and efficient like digital music? Well, if you get your puppy to obey at 6 months of age, and its life expectancy is 12.5 years, you gain 12 years of an obedient dog that does not eat through your trash can or beg beneath the dinner table or poop in the closet of your guest bedroom. 12 years of guests not asking, “What’s that?” 12 years of uninterrupted dinners without slimed hands. 12 years of unmolested trash in your kitchen. What would you do with all that saved time?  ‘Get another puppy’ is just a smart ass answer! Shame on you for uttering it!

And trust is super adaptive. I trust the coffee shop barristas with my very life twice a day. I trust that they don’t poison me or spit in my latte. I don’t have to have a cupbearer and food taster at the weekly Coffee Summit, thus cutting payroll expenses. When I go to the bank, I don’t have to check and recheck my balances or ask them to show me “my” money whenever fear rises up in me like Glenn Beck with meningitis. Trust is that comforting feeling that it’s okay. I dont’ need to check the locks or the electric meter or my car’s speedometer.  Without trust I’d spend 26 hours a day making sure that everything was tight, right, even, symmetric, just, fair, clean, pure, etc.  And, of course, I’d never be able to do anything but stay in that OCD loop of checking and rechecking, because my speedometer or electric meter might just be askew today even if it was precise yesterday. Wow, it’s tiring just to type out that example.

Remind me to tell you about the gas explosion in another installment.

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