Saturday, July 23, 2011

On the Propagation of Constraints

It is often amazing how propagation of constraints from one situation to another results in non obvious connections between various aspects of the human condition. A few minutes ago, and still now, my granddaughter Willow has been joyfully carrying around a little shopping bag in it with various items. She comes to me about once a minute to add or subtract something from her bag. She has discovered the utility of bags, and probably learned the concept from some older female in her family.

So, what has this to do with the propagation of constraints ? A woman depends, in part, upon her physical attractiveness to others for survival or simply to have a good life. That simple and controvertible fact leads to constraints on the clothes she wears. The clothes must be attractive and favorably display her figure. This leads to the subsequent constraint that women's clothes seldom have as many pockets as men's clothes. A notable example is that men's shirts usually have a breast pocket on the left side, usually absent on women's clothes.

Similarly pockets on women's skirts are usually inconveniently on the front instead of on the side where they would interfere with display of her womanly hips. The net result of this is that women carry purses for their item carrying needs. In men's clothes, the pockets are their "purses." A follow on example of the utility of carrying capacity is the ancient tradition of basket making especially used in hunter-gatherer societies.

And so it comes to pass that my female grandchild is having fun today having joyfully discovered the utility of carrying capacity of some sort, all constrained by her future need to be attractive with that need conveyed to her by the habits of some older woman.

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