Sunday, October 31, 2004

Inventiveness

Sometimes, I'm amazed at the things people have discovered. Someone goes out to do one thing, finds something else and uses it. Sometimes the world changes because of it, other times it's just a better way to take care of the job at hand. Sometimes someone just finds an amazing way through a problem.

My son once was on a camping trip with a friend, and on the way back the fuel pump died. Twenty-five miles from home, secondary road. The friend had a gas can for the mower in the trunk, so my son a: disconnected the gas line at the pump and plugged it, b: pulled all the windshield washer lines and hooked them together, c: hooked them to the gas can and carburetor, d: held the gas can on the roof for a gravity-feed to the carb and drove home. Slowly, but drove home.

I would never in this world have thought of that. Not the only oddball way around a problem he's found. He's enrolled in auto mechanics classes, and eventually wants to do customizing work. Personally, I think he needs to get the engineering degree, I think he'd do well at it.

Odd discovery: the Kalahari Bushmen use a grub to poison their arrows. The grub is only found in certain kinds of places, about 2 or three feet underground. Roll the grub between fingers, then squeeze it's body juices onto the points; from what I've read, very lethal. Ok, someone had to a: find the grub, b: find out it was poison and could be used on arrowpoints. How the hell did someone come across it in the first place, and then how did they find out the damn thing was poisonous? But someone did.

I mentioned before the mix the Anglo-Saxons used to case-harden iron. Pigeon droppings, bone meal, leather scraps, various other things mixed into a paste. How did someone come to try any of these things, let alone work up the mix? And it works.

Our constitution says 'all men are created equal'. As history shows, that's created with equal chance to try; God knows in different ways, different people are far more capable than others.

Probably a damn good thing, too.

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