Posted in Philosophy


You are alone on an uninhabited island. Which mermaid would you choose as your companion? Classic mermaid – top-half woman, bottom-half fish – or inverted mermaid – top-half fish, bottom-half woman?


In 1934, abstract artist René Magritte painted Collective Invention – a play on the idea of a mermaid. This mermaid has the lower-body of a woman and the upper-body of a fish. Despite having beautiful, functional legs, the “mermaid” is gazing expressionless and lying on its side. You would think that a fish with legs would be using them, but clearly this creature is too foolish, or is possibly asphyxiating as its gills attempt to respire in vain. As opposed to the normal model of human-fish creatures, this one has gained the transportation and sex-organs that flummox the sea-faring men whom they tempt. What the creature lacks is the personality, and inner/outer beauty of the traditional sea-temptress. One misogynist, who clearly did not think the choice through, called this “a practical man’s mermaid”. 

Perhaps the question of the two mermaids is what part of a woman a man considers more important.

So which would you choose? Go.


Posted in Science & Nature


There is a bamboo forest on a desert island. How can you use these?

  • If you cut a section of bamboo so that one side is open, one side is closed, it becomes a cup.
  • If you cut a section of bamboo and split it lengthwise, it becomes a dish.
  • If you cut a section of bamboo and cut a wide hole in the side, it becomes a pot.
  • If you cut a section of bamboo and fit a large rock on one end, it becomes a hammer.
  • If you cut a branch of bamboo and craft it, it can be a spoon, fork or chopsticks.
  • If you take a stick of bamboo and tie a string and hook at the end, it becomes a fishing rod.
  • If you take a stick of bamboo and sharpen the end, it becomes a spear.
  • If you take many large bamboo and tie them together, you can make a house, a bed or a raft to escape in.

The most important rule of survival is application.

As an addendum, bamboo is a grass (the largest in the world), not a tree.
This is because its stalk has become hardened yet still hollow, making it look like a tree. However, it has segments, shallow roots and dies after flowering (which can take decades) that are features of grass.