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Exploring Everyday Things with R and Ruby by Sau Sheong Chang

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Chapter 8. Money, Sex, and Evolution

When I was young I used to drive my father up the wall by bombarding him with exasperating questions like “Why am I here?”, “Why is the sky blue?”, “Why am I Chinese?”, and the classic “Are we there yet?” It was frustrating for him to come up with an answer that was simple enough for me to understand yet informative enough to be marginally educational.

Of course, the great wheel of karma turns, and inevitably it was my turn to try to answer my son’s similar questions.

What struck me as I deftly fielded my son’s constant barrage was the same question that I always asked and to which I never really got a good answer (except in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, but that’s another story): “What makes the world go round?”

Many attempted to answer this question. Charles Dickens said it’s love. According to Michael Jackson, it’s people. The 1960s musical Cabaret claimed it’s money. Plenty of songs say it’s music. The answer I like best, though, is from the 1963 Disney animated film, The Sword and the Stone:

You see, my boy, it’s nature’s way. Upon the weak the strong ones prey. The human life, it’s also true. The strong will try to conquer you. And that is what you must expect. Unless you use your intellect. Brains and brawn, weak and strong. That’s what makes the world go round.

As you might have guessed, this is the chapter where we will make our own attempt at answering it. When we left Chapter 7, we had a functioning simulation of a Boids clone, ...

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