Wednesday, January 28, 2009

On the importance of having a cape

Additional tests showed that the following end position occurred in 86 % of trials*:
Leading to the unbecoming and unprofessional conduct of certain researchers.

Sure, they may explain that it's just like toast landing butter&jam side down. But it's an affront to the dignity of rabbits everywhere to have their soft cottontails mocked in return for sacrificing themselves for the greater good and advancement of knowledge.
Which brings me to the theory that superhero capes are an adaptive response common in flying heros. The hero who controls his descent adroitly and lands lightly on his feet is far more likely to get the girl** than the hero who flies like a brick through the air and finishes button-nose to the ground.
With the cape thus lending a practical advantage to the landing hero, its use became established. This led to a secondary adaptive response: that of decorating one's cape. Looking good is a well-established critereon for proliferative advantage, and the cape providing such an obvious and observable surface for display it has naturally come to participate in this. Strategies for Looking Good may stress visibility and individuation (ex: Superman), understated but irresistible style (ex: Batman) and other variations.
For these reasons, and for the additional advantage procured through the reduced probability of getting mud on oneself, a superhero cape is being special-ordered for a second phase of experimentation.
* The remaining 14 % consisted of side-landings, evenly divided between the right and left side. No example of a correct, ears-up, landing was observed. Trials culminating in becoming stuck in tree branches were excluded from analysis.
** One may observe a more immediate utility in not be defeated by the bad guys, but that is only useful if followed by getting girls and the attendant reproductive opportunities. As we rabbits know, it is this ultimate, not the proximate, result that gives one an evolutionary advantage.

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