The plural for goose is geese. But the plural for moose is not meese: it is just moose. Why is this the case? This is because English is formed from words of various origins, all following different rules.
Goose is an old word that derives from Old English with Germanic roots. Typically in Old English, words were pluralised (turned into plurals) by a process called mutation, where the vowel sounds are changed to an adjacent sound (e.g. “oo” to “ee”). This explains why goose becomes geese, foot becomes feet and tooth becomes teeth.
However, the word moose traces its roots back to a Northeastern Algonquian language – a subfamily of Native American languages. This means that it does not follow the Old English rules of mutation. Furthermore, because Algonquian languages do not pluralise, the plural for moose is just “moose”.
Generally speaking, we live our lives trying to avoid making a mistake. Perhaps it is because we were brought up to do everything as perfectly as possible. Perhaps it is because we fear the consequences. Perhaps it is because we refuse to accept that we are imperfect beings.
Regardless of the reason, we have a constant nagging voice in the back of our minds asking us: “Are you sure you want to do this? What if it’s all a big mistake?”.
This mentality affects our work, our financial decisions, our sense of adventure and even our relationships. Sometimes, we even go as far as not taking any action in fear of screwing it up. The fear of mistakes makes us take less risks and leaps of faith, hindering our ability to live a full life.
But to quote a great captain, Jean-Luc Picard:
“It is possible to commit no mistakes and still lose. That is not a weakness. That is life.”
Life is full of mistakes. No matter how hard we try to minimise risk, life will always find a way to trip you up. Because we are not a time-travelling supercomputer that can see and predict every variable, it is impossible to make no mistakes. Ergo, it is okay to make mistakes, because to err is to human.
In fact, mistakes are not always bad.
A “mistake” such as the singer’s voice cracking on a live performance may make it a more special performance, because it is a sign the singer poured all of their emotion and energy into the song, rather than playing it safe to avoid a mistake.
Columbus discovered the Caribbean because he mistakenly thought that he could reach Asia by sailing due west of Spain.
Everyone has a story of getting lost while travelling and stumbling onto an unforgettable experience that they could not have possibly planned for.
Sometimes, we will look back on our life and realise that what we thought was a mistake back then turned out to be a blessing in disguise, because each and every mistake we made led us to where we are now.
Of course, some mistakes carry irreversible, dire consequences, such as drinking and driving, or falling asleep while a nuclear reactor fails (Three Mile Island accident). But outside of these, most mistakes in life are something that you can learn something and move on from.
One of the most well-known philosophical questions is what came first: the chicken or the egg? A chicken is born from an egg, and an egg is birthed by a chicken. This means that the cause and effect are intertwined in a never-ending cycle. This kind of problem is known as circular cause and consequence or circular reference.
In some ways, this question is extremely easy to answer. In biology, many different creatures lay eggs to give birth to their young, but there are no examples of a chicken being born without an egg being involved. The chicken is most likely a product of a lineage of evolving species that ultimately resulted in the genetic makeup of a chicken. That “proto-chicken” would have laid an egg, which had enough mutations in its genome to be sufficiently different from the proto-chicken to be called a “chicken”. Therefore, the egg must have come before the chicken. Even if we use the strict rule of defining “egg” by as a “chicken egg”, the egg that birthed the first chicken contained the original genetic makeup for chickens; ergo the chicken egg came before the chicken.
Science and philosophy aside, a completely unrelated point about chickens and eggs is that there is a Japanese dish called oyakodon, which is made with chicken and egg over a bowl of rice and vegetables. The name comes from the Japanese for parent (“oya”, 親) and child (“ko”, 子), giving away the cruel nature of the relationship between the main ingredients in the dish.
People take interest in ants for many reasons. Some people are fascinated by how ants have achieved what they deem a perfect totalitarian system. In fact, if you observe it from the outside, an ant nest appears to be completely harmonious as everyone works the same, everyone focuses on the good of the whole and everyone is prepared to sacrifice themselves. But humanity has failed in every attempt at totalitarianism up until now. The Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Babylonians, Carthaginians, Persians, Chinese, French, British, Russians, Germans, Japanese and Americans all experienced an age of glory and appeared as if the world would be assimilated into them, but fortunately a tiny grain of sand would always fall and destroy their unified systems.
This is why there are people who try to imitate insects who live in hive societies (consider how Napoleon’s insignia was of a honeybee). If what unifies an ant nest’s thoughts into one is pheromones, then modern society’s worldwide media does the same function today. People always suggest something that they believe is good and expect others to follow it. They believe that this way, we will achieve a perfect human society one day. But this is not the way of the universe.
Nature, unlike what Darwin suggested, does not evolve so that the fittest survive and rule (and what standard could possible differentiate “fit” and “undesirable”?). Nature’s powers lie in variation. In nature, there are good, evil, insane, devastated, lively, ill, deformed, demented, happy, depressed, intelligent, foolish, selfish, generous people and big, small, black, yellow, red, white things etc. They must all exist. If there is one danger in nature, it is when one group is destroyed by another group.
If there is a field of corns and only the corns that have the “best” traits (i.e. require the least water, stand cold weather and produce juicy corn) are used to pollinate, then the entire crop can be wiped out by a single disease. Contrastingly, a wild crop with individual corns having unique traits with varied weaknesses and differences can survive diseases as the corns find a way to beat it among the many different traits.
Nature hates standardisation and loves diversity. It is through diversity that nature exerts its original abilities.
(from The Encyclopaedia of Relative and Absolute Knowledge by Bernard Werber)