Mother Nature is a hooligan with a strong grasp of game theory

If you want to see nature in action (aside from the stock market), take a beer and go and sit on the edge of the cliff here above the waterhole at twilight, just when the German tourists get loud. Sit on the rock on the edge, and stay still for an hour or so. First you notice that all the animals – baboons, other monkeys, warthogs, antelope – are at the water but no one will drink. On the far side, a crocodile grabs an unwary duck and all the birds in the neighbourhood say ‘crocodile, crocodile.’ Then they forget about it and get back into their arguments. Then a team of baboons comes down to the water and spreads the risk a little, and slowly everyone starts to drink.

Then the sun goes down and the scene turns into a radio play. The cicadas and frogs start up, the birds go to sleep, and somewhere across the waterhole someone else is getting eaten. Like a good researcher, I sit at the top of the cliff with my beer listening while below everyone fights it out to the death.

Now I’m back in my dormitory room, waiting to get up at 3am yet again and hopefully actually catch the bus this time. The dormitory is full of mosquitoes, so I sleep covered in deet (I figured one of Ghana’s best hotels would have fewer mosquitoes in the room, so I left my net behind). The deet has just melted the back of my computer onto my leg, and I’m off to try to separate them. Goodnight…

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