Sunday, October 31, 2010

Zenophobia on the Waterway

St. Augustine FL
2010 10 31

Reading the title you will be forgiven for thinking this would be just another dissing of stupid powerboaters.  Not so.  Powerboaters ARE stupid.  And arrogant.  And undeserving useless twits with no function on god's planet save to waste precious fossil fuel and annoy decent folk on sailboats.  Like the guy who kept trying to tell me his boat and mine got the same mileage: he ran at 15 knots he explained and burned 15 gallons an hour while I ran at 6.5 knots and burned 1 gallon an hour.  "See" this guy told me on numerous occasions, "We get the same number of miles per gallon".

Right buddy.  Keep on breeding. 

But no, this is not such a document.

Neither does it contain a spelling error, as some discerning readers may suspect.  I speak not of Xenophobia: the irrational, deep-rooted fear of or antipathy towards foreigners or strangers.

No I speak of that plague ridden Greek Philosopher, Zeno of Elea.  Not to be confused with Zeno of Citium and no, not the brother of Zena the Warrior Princess.  This Zeno liked paradoxes and is most famous for his arguments against motion.  (I italicized this phrase so any powerboaters reading the blog can cut and paste it into Wikipaedia, the powerboaters undisputed Bible of all that is true and worthy of knowing).

Zeno worked out his arguments while trying to move his sailboat down the ICW.  Here are two of Zeno's hypotheses as reported by Aristotle:

The Dichotomy: There is no motion, because that which is moved must arrive at the middle before it arrives at the end, and so on ad infinitum.

So before your boat gets to the inlet it must go half of the distance to the inlet.  Before it can get to the halfway point your boat must go half of the distance to the halfway point or 1/4 of the distance.  Before your boat can go 1/4 of the distance it must go 1/8 of the distance.   This is an infinite series and so you cannot actually go anywhere.

The Achilles: The slower will never be overtaken by the quicker, for that which is pursuing must first reach the point from which that which is fleeing started, so that the slower must always be some distance ahead.

So you can never pass the ugly derelict hull in front of you and must follow it endlessly as it mucks up the aesthetics of paradise.

Any sailor travelling the ICW will tell you that Zeno is absolutely correct.

An historical footnote mentions that our only knowledge of Zeno's writings is from reports from  Aristotle.  All of Zeno's works were destroyed.

It is my belief that someone beat Zeno to death and burned everything he owned.

Justifiably in my view.

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