[ssf] on the subject of altruism

h t adam at diamat.org.uk
Thu Oct 8 00:45:23 BST 2009

  he heard a chuckle
  and was on his feet

  there was no one in sight
  it didn't sound as if
  it had come from the car
  and it didn't sound like
  greg's voice anyway

  it had come from the barn though

  with his eyes
  he explored each pool of shadow

  there was a loft

  he raised the pistol
  towards the opening
  to the rear of the building
  and up

  he pointed it toward
  the dark oblong framed with straw

  "come down" he said

  there was no reply
  until he'd fired two shoots
  through the opening
  and then a "wait, i'm coming"
  was their echo

  the man who hurried down
  the crosswise slats
  was covered with dark hair
  and rags

  he was perhaps
  a foot shorter than tanner
  and he crouched
  with his back
  against the wall shaking

  "who are you"

  the man's eyes darted
  from the barrel
  of the gun to tanner's face
  several times

  "i said 'who are you mister'"

       said the man
       "geoffrey kanis"
       and his word were steady and loud
       "i'm not a scientist"
       he added

  "who the hell cares
   what were you doing up there
   besides watching me"

       "i came here
        when the rain started
        to get out of it"

  "what was so damned funny"

       "what do you mean"

  "why were you laughing"

        because you don't follow the rules
        of batesian mimicry
        and you should you know"

  "what're you talking about"

       "i'm not a scientist"

  "you said that already"

       the man giggle
       then recited:

       "it takes place
        in the same region
        and the same season
        according to bates
        and the mimicking species
        must not itself be protected
        according to bates
        and it must be rarer
        than the model
        bates says, that it must differ
        from its own species
        by external characteristics
        clearly visible
        and able to create
        an illusion
        bate's says that too
        and its mimicking characteristics
        should only be superficial
        and should produce no fundamental change
        in the species
        bate's noted
        he worked with butterflies
        you know"

  "are you nuts"

        "yes but i follow the rules"

  "move over to the light
   where i can see you better"

  the man did

  "yeah, you got that nutty look about you
   what's this bate's business"

       "it's a thing certain creatures do
        for purpose of self-protection:
         batesian mimicry
        they make themselves
        look like something they're not
        so nothing will bother them

        now, if you'd have been smart
        you'd have never grown that beard
        you'd wash your face
        and comb your hair
        you'd garb yourself
        in a dark suit
        and a white shirt
        and a necktie
        and you'd carry a briefcase
        you'd make yourself
        look like everyone else
        then nobody'd bother you
        then you could do
        whatever you wanted
        without molestation

        you'd resemble the protected species

        you wouldn't be forced
        into danger"

  "how do you know
   i've been forced into danger"

       "there is a look about you
        a smell
        a certain jumpiness ..."

  "and if i'd look square
   this wouldn't have happened"

        "probably not"

  "what's your excuse"

  the man laughed
  and seemed to relax

       "do you hate scientists"

  "no more than anyone else"

       "what if i was a scientist"


       "okay, i am scientist"

  "so what"

       "they lumped us all together"
        and i'm a biologist"

  "i don't get you"

       "it was the physicist
        who did this to us"
       -- he gestured upwards
        outwards --
        "and some of the chemists
         and mathematicians
         not the biologists"

  "you mean the war"

       "yes, no, i mean the world
        the way it is now"

  "i wasn't around when it happened
   so i don't really know or care ...

   what're you trying to say"

       "you shouldn't have blamed
        all the professors
        in all the disciplines
        for what happened"

  "i didn't, i don't
   i don't even know what happened
   not really ...

   what did happen ..."


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