Pine Nuts: Collective brains

McAvoy Layne
McAvoy Layne

The warring instinct is man’s worst impulse. We eat, drink, and copulate with discrimination, then make war with impunity. There’s a breed of ants that acts out in the same way, and because of their predatory foraging, they are appropriately called, “Army Ants.”

A single army ant is dumb as a doorknob, but a colony of army ants has a collective brain as large as some mammals. In studying army ants, we have come to find out there is such a thing as a collective brain, and guess who is in possession of the largest collective brain? Right.

However, this year, for perhaps the first time in recorded history, when a dictator called for conscription to go fight a war, the collective brain said, “What? Are you kidding?!” And individuals started heading for the door. Unless you’ve been vacationing in Mazatlán, known for its nightlife, you know we’re talking about Russia. The collective brain of Russia has said, “Nyet.” And the world is saying, “Bravo!”

When I was told, back in 1966, that America needed to fight the North Vietnamese to prevent a domino theory from toppling all of Southeast Asia to communism, well, my collective brain told me to enlist in the Marine Corps, and fight for democracy. As it turned out, we lost that war, along with some very good Americans, but are on friendly terms today with Vietnam.

I remember boating on beautiful Lake Tahoe one afternoon, when it was pointed out that the large lakefront home we were passing belonged to Adnan Khashoggi, a super wealthy arms dealer, and I remember thinking my car could fit comfortably inside his outdoor fireplace. It appears the only people not affected by the worldwide inflation we’re experiencing, are the arms dealers, and they now have drones with which to play.

Gone are the days when Mark Twain complained about the weapon of his choice. “I was armed to the teeth with a pitiful little Smith & Wesson’s seven-shooter, which carried a ball like a homeopathic pill, and it took the whole seven to make a dose for an adult. It had only one fault–you could not hit anything with it.”

In his book, Roughing It, Twain provides Mr. Bemis with a more formidable weapon…

“George Bemis wore in his belt an old original ‘Allen’ revolver. It was a cheerful weapon– Sometimes all six barrels would go off at once, and then there was no safe place in all the region, but behind it. She went after a deuce of spades nailed against a tree, once, and fetched a mule standing about thirty yards to the left of it. Bemis did not want the mule; but the owner came out with a double-barreled shotgun and persuaded him to buy it.”

Roughing It was published in 1872, and look how far we’ve come in 150 years. We must rid ourselves of nuclear weapons, before our collective brains do it for us, in one big bang…


Support Local Journalism


Support Local Journalism

Readers around Lake Tahoe, Truckee, and beyond make the Sierra Sun's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.