Don’t It

Every picture tells a story and since creativity is better than copying Diogenes the Greek Cynic philosopher of Sinope said that one original thought is worth a thousand mindless quotes.  A picture is worth a thousand words is a way of saying that it is often easier to show something in a picture than it is to describe it with words, however there is a fundamental difference between looking at a picture and reading something.  Our visual system evolved to process images essentially in parallel, whereas when related to text, which only appeared a few thousand years ago, reading requires our visual system to scan individual characters, one at a time, recognize them, and piece them together into words, and then into sentences.

Since a pixel typically consists of 8 bits or one byte it is worth 1024 bits, thus its value can be anything between 0 to 255, therefore a picture with a lot of pixels could be worth thousands of bits.  A single ASCII character is 1 byte. So if you have a plain text file, the size of your file is equivalent to the number of characters, including spaces, line-breaks, tabs, and other “invisible” characters that are in your file.  In a plain text file, this is easy to add up as there is nothing going on behind the scenes to inflate your document, so you always have a pretty good idea of how large it is.  When you start considering a file produced by a word processor like Microsoft Word, all that goes out the window, because of the variations in paper size, font, line-spacing, and whether the text is dialogue-containing prose, poetry, text-heavy non-fiction, and even whether one or more characters happens to play a heavy roll in your writing.  There is no easy formula, but in general the longer and the more complicated the formatting of the text is, the larger it will be in bytes.

Does this mean that one Monet painting would be worth 1,000 Shakespeare plays, and if millions of virtual monkeys have already typed out the entire works of Shakespeare by bashing random keys on simulated typewriters, wouldn’t they be able to do the same thing and create a Monet?  The experiment is an imperfect reproduction of the infinite monkey theorem, because it saves correct sections of text while discarding wrong guesses.  According to Napoleon Bonaparte, a good sketch is better than a long speech.  A long speech might put you to sleep, where as sketching can help you to recall many things.

Teresa the Haunted Wordsmith posted a new Worth A Thousand Words #2 writing challenge that is associated with the above picture.  The first thing that I thought of was Dorothy being stuck in Oz and the wicked witch saying, “Now they will sleep, poppies will put them to sleep.”  The power of the poppy is well known and when there are many of these flowers together their odor is so powerful that anyone who breathes them will fall fast asleep, and if the sleeping person is not carried away from the scent of the flowers, he sleeps on and on forever.  Hamlet says, “To be or not to be” not being sure if it would be better for him to live or die.  Hamlet cannot decide if it is better to give up and die rather than facing his troubles, but he is frightened that he will dream when he is dead and never get any peace from his earthly troubles.  To sleep – perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub, for in this sleep of death what dreams may come.

Of course this field is not filled with poppies and you would be more likely to get stung by a bee if you ran through this field, than be put in a drug induced sleep.  For the last several years scientists have fretted over the future of bees, and although research has shed much light on the crisis, those in the bee business, from hive keepers to commercial farmers, all say the insects remain in deep trouble as their colonies continue to struggle because the use of pesticides is wiping them out.  Bees are so much more than a bunch of pesky stinging insects as they are great pollinators.  About 30% of everything that we eat requires insect pollination, and the vast majority of it is done by honey bees.  The Apis Mellifera, better known as the Western honeybee, should be thanked for 1 out of every 3 mouthfuls of food that you eat every day.  Queens are not laying as many eggs as they did just a few years ago, however honey bees aren’t going to disappear from the face of the Earth in the near future.

Around 2006, commercial beekeepers began noticing something disturbing, that their honeybees were disappearing. Beekeepers would open their hives and find them full of honeycomb, wax, even honey, but they were devoid of actual bees. As reports from worried beekeepers rolled in, scientists coined an appropriately apocalyptic term for the mystery malady, being colony-collapse disorder (CCD).  Besides pesticides, a big problem that bees face is the Varroa destructor, a parasitic mite that attaches to the bees and sucks out their equivalent of blood.  Varroa doesn’t kill bees outright, but it weakens them to the point that viruses, diseases and other pests are able to finish off the colony.  Another problem is honey bee nutrition, as farmers nowadays are planting fence row-to-fence row, so there are more commercial crops that don’t produce the pollen and nectar the bees need and fewer wild flowers that do.

According to all known laws of aviation, there is no way a bee should be able to fly.  Its wings are too small to get its fat little body off the ground.  The bee, of course, flies anyway, because bees don’t care what humans think is impossible.  Bees rarely fly in a straight line.  They hover and zigzag, with a purpose known only to the collective brain of the hive.

1,004 words

Written for Teresa the Haunted Wordsmith Worth A Thousand Words #2 writing challenge.

8 thoughts on “Don’t It

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