Monday, 30 January 2012

Street Level Zen: Specialisation

"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, coöperate, act alone, solve equations, analyse a new problem, pitch manure, programme a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialisation is for insects."

Lazarus Long (Robert A. Heinlein)


  1. A little species-if not taxonomical class-centric, but still a good quote.

  2. Could be worse. Heinlein's famous "Cool Green Hills of Earth", hymn and anthem of the spacefaring community, is rigorously male-only in all of its references. Still a masterpiece. (Interesting that a writer of such vision, who imagined a multi-planetary humankind, couldn't grok female spacefarers.)

  3. I love that "specialization is for insects"! I will use that when people ask how someone as good at so many things as I am, could be what society says is "somewhat unsuccessful" after all these years. They usually mean that they are jealous of all I can do for myself and others, but puzzled as to why I have not been able to parlay that into financial riches. I guess in the end most of us get what we desire, eh?

  4. Well Will, I'm entirely unsuccessful. But it's OK with me, I guess; I haven't seen much of society that I'd care to substitute for my own values. And in the last ten years it has plummeted dramatically in my esteem. So what the hey. If I had to do this forever I guess I'd be more concerned, but very soon now they'll blow the whistle and we'll all run around to new positions.


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