The purple blob

Nelson Park, curving asphalt pathway joining city sidewalk, Vancouver

Sex between jellyfish is deeply peculiar, odd to the nth degree. There’s a mouth opening on their belly and the sperm gets shot out of this when the lady jellyfish is near. There’s two ways for the union of genes to happen: either she swims through the sperm, or the sperm come and get her. In other words, it’s the “subway technique” or the “Manhattan cabbie technique”.

The next growth is not significant, but it does happen. It’s enough to draw predators. If the jellyfish-kid is lucky, it moves on to the third stage, while anchored down stiffly.

For years the jellyfish is a plant at the bottom of the ocean.

A colony of Jellyfish in a silent G-note of music on the chord of Life

It eats food passively from surrounding areas. It must be hard to kill at this point, because it’s not hiding or anything. It’s just out there, standing as a stalk in the rippling currents of undersea motion.

Then an interesting thing happens. The stalk develops deep runways in its flesh. A separate organism arises. It floats off. This is the jellyfish that we know and love. It’s young, it’s unbalanced, it’s got a lot to learn about in the Oceanic University, but it’s floating on its way there.

Long streamers from the body of a swimming jellyfish can sting you. Depending on the power of the original jellyfish, it get turn your skin red and irritable — or it can kill you outright.

The cause is stingers on a very a small scale. They’re arrayed like a field of velcro hooks. Ready for action in the undersea coliseum. Each stinger may not make much difference, but like twigs tied together forming impressive strength, the thousands of stingers are enough to make you think twice about stepping on one in the nearby sands of the water.

The venom serves a dual purpose. When hunting, the jellyfish uses venom against prey. When retreating, the jellyfish spreads out a field of stingers in the trailing streamers. The Mayo Clinic defines a list of species and their typical symptoms, for instance:

Also called bluebottle jellyfish, Portuguese man-of-war jellyfish live mostly in warmer seas. This type has a blue or purplish gas-filled bubble that keeps it afloat on the water and acts as a sail.

Jellyfish have no brain, heart, bones or eyes. They are the ultimate empty canvas on which Nature has chosen to paint.

When you think “Jellyfish” I want you to imagine a colony-world surfing reality with other colony-worlds of the same species, both ignoring them and needful of them.

The jellyfish drifts as lazy beams of sunshine penetrate the surface of the ocean. Near the surface, the creature turns over, exposing its mouth in its lower part.

Cnidaria is the name of the phylum. Going back some 500-700 million years, Cnidaria hasn’t changed all that much. The dinosaurs changed a lot more. But the oceanic changes of climate warming have been warm and beneficial for its kind. Sailing through world-disasters, jellyfish have trailed tendrils on their way to a deeper sunset just over the horizon.

Bill Gates got his start by going into computer languages. There wasn’t a lot of money in that, but it was enough to keep a small office going.

Computer languages are the interface between the machine’s natural machine language world and the more natural English that is spoken around the real world. Because mathematics is the heart of the matter, the computer language is more tangled than RealSpeak — is to be, to allow loops, variables, and all the logical structures that are tight and sealed. Errors — or bugs — pop up all the time and get repaired out of existence.

Complex works of art-poetry with several million lines of code, the works of hundreds of programmers over decades, some of these are worthy of inclusion into technological museums. It is worthy a moment to pause and consider.

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