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The Passion of the Penguins, Part Deux

28 Sep, 2005 By: Holly J. Wagner

In last week's column I mentioned that the Religious Right has seized upon March of the Penguins as a tale of Christian values and evidence of intelligent design because of the penguins' altruistic behavior in taking care of their eggs and nurturing their young. That reminded me of something, so I went back to a college biology text to check, and sure enough there it is, right at the beginning of The Selfish Gene, a text that's still respected and used today:
    "Perhaps we can sympathize more directly with the reported cowardly behavior of emperor penguins in the Antarctic," wrote author Richard Dawkins. "They have been seen standing on the brink of the water, hesitating before diving in, because of the danger of being eaten by seals. If only one of them would dive in, the rest would know whether there was a seal there or not. Naturally nobody wants to be the guinea pig, so they wait, and sometimes even try to push each other in."
'nuff said.

Meanwhile, the big players in the video industry are acting like penguins. Movie Gallery is sitting on eggs that are starting to stink, Blockbuster is wandering off to forage after giving birth to its new initiatives and Netflix is the one that jumped off the iceberg five years ago and was swimming around eating all the fish by itself for most of that time.

True, Blockbuster finally realized it would starve or the seals would come on land to eat it if it didn't leap into the warm spot in a rapidly freezing video rental industry. But all of their fates are in doubt, along with the fate of rental.

As in nature, that which does not adapt will perish. And if business is any indicator, there is no intelligent design, only myopic greed and self-interest among CEOs and penguins.



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