Looking at a bug

2.3 Looking at a bug

Let's take a moment to talk about a bug—not a software bug, but the other kind of bug.

A peculiar species of flying insect inhabits the area around Lake Victoria, a source of the Nile river. Spectacular video footage by the late explorer Jacques Cousteau shows this insect, known as a lake fly, congregating in thick, fog-like masses on the lake and in a nearby jungle. Similar to mosquitoes in size and appearance, they sometimes form such dense clouds over the lake that one could easily mistake them for waterspouts or small tornadoes.

Large flocks of birds often swoop down into these "bug-spouts" to feast on nature's abundance, consuming millions of insects in a single air raid. Despite the predatory onslaught, though, millions more insects persist, their shadowy swarms exhibiting few signs of attrition.

When Cousteau most closely examined the life cycle of these unusual insects, he discovered that the adults live for an exceedingly short period— about 6 to 12 hours. Even if they don't wind up as lunch for one of our feathered friends, their adult existence consists of little more than a brief flutter in the sunlight.

Just what does an insect that spends its entire adult life stage in a single day do with all that time? It attempts to propagate the species. It tries to squeeze what we human beings spend years doing into a few hours. Evidently it succeeds, for the species continues and in respectable numbers. If survival of the species is their goal, then these tiny winged nothings have set their priorities straight.

These flies have but one thing to do in life, and they do it well. Unix developers believe that software should do the same.



Linux and the Unix Philosophy
Linux and the Unix Philosophy
ISBN: 1555582737
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2005
Pages: 92
Authors: Mike Gancarz

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