False Pride, Foolish Lies & Mermaids Cries

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The endurance of the legend of mermaids (one of the earliest known reference to mermaids was recorded around 800 B.C. in Homer’s epic, the Odyssey) is perhaps the most apt analogy to human’s capacity to stubbornly maintain beliefs and claims that suit their fancy and purposes despite the overwhelming facts and evidence against them. While many of us may have thought of mermaids as merely a fanciful fairy tale to lull a child to sleep, history records a long-held belief of the actual existence of these beautiful, voluptuous maidens with their luminescent scales and tails like fish that frolic in the ocean depths and lure many an unwary sailor to his doom.

“The day before, when the Admiral was going to the Rio del Oro, he said he saw three mermaids who came quite high out of the water but were not as pretty as they are depicted, for somehow in the face they look like men. He said that he saw some in Guinea on the coast of Manegueta.”
– From Diary of Christopher Columbus, Jan. 9, 1493

Had Homer and Columbus been aware of the scientific truths which eliminate even the slightest chance of the possibility of an actual mermaid species, would that have altered their fears or observations? As I am not familiar enough with the personalities and character of these men, I cannot say for certain, yet based upon an abundance of sociological and psychological research by others more knowledgeable than I (such as this, that & this one) it is quite likely that one of those men would have clung to their claims for dear life.

I am not talking here about religious faith or about optimistic beliefs in the face of all odds, as those I believe are an entirely different animal altogether and as such, topics for separate discussion. No, what I am getting at here is my being confounded by those who take such extreme positions that are not merely in conflict with every known fact and scrap of evidence, but which are often about events or details that would otherwise have little consequence in the vast tapestry of their lives. What kind of ego consciously chooses to insist, with a poker face, on the veracity of their statements even after they’ve been laid bare before all as vicious twists and lies? Whom do such people expect to believe them and on what basis do they portend others should accept their precarious views as truth? I am completely befuddled by such people, as I can see no purpose to their madness. To me, it is like a drowning man who insists he stands on dry land and thus refuses to take the hand of one who would raise him from the ocean to relative safety. While G-d himself warned against the evil of false-pride over five-thousands years ago and while self-preservation may be considered the most basic instinct of all living creatures going at least as far back as the dinosaurs, the fact is that dinosaurs are extinct. Apparently, this is still a lesson some people never learn.

Me? I prefer to keep life simple. Thus, the tale of beautiful, graceful ladies of the sea keeping our lonely sailors company remains a delightful prelude to sleep.

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Desktop Aquarium with Mermaid -1920x1200

Desktop Aquarium with Mermaid -1920x1200

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“CSI – Mac” ?

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There are a number of old sayings that declare this trait or that is a sure-bet reflection of a person’s character. Variations on this theme include: “You can tell a lot about a person by the company they keep”, “The clothes make the man”, and “You can judge a person by their book covers”. Most of these adages are centuries, if not thousands of years old and most of us have heard them repeated since our earliest childhood. Whether or not such sentiments are a matter of training, self-fulfilling prophecy, or merely observation, I’ve no idea but while these clever little generalities are hardly fail-safe proof, there appears to be a universal tendency for people to unconsciously make snap judgments of others based on such accessible clues. Well, I’ve got new candidate to nominate as a suitable, superficial reflection of human personality in this first decade of the 21st Century: Computer Desktops!

Think about it. Or better yet, look around your office or dorm, classroom, or peep at the screen on the laptop of that guy sitting against the window next time you’re at Starbuck’s and tell me what you see. I believe you can learn a lot about a person’s temperament, dreams, priorities, habits, weaknesses, strengths, loves, and moods by (surreptitiously) checking in on the state of their desktop every once in a while. While I don’t advocate making snap judgments like this if you’re on a jury, are a cop, or parent of a teenager, or in any other situation that calls for more than speculation, still, developing the skill as a “Forensic Desktop Reader” could be the next big thing to show up as a TV series or be a great new career move. Whad’ya think?

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