To try

25 05 2012

According to, the first two definitions for the word “try” are as follows:

verb (used with object)

1.  to attempt to do or accomplish

2.  to test the effect or result of (often followed by out)

We’re told when we’re learning about verbs and parts of the English language, that verbs are “action words”, and many, if not all of them, imply some sort of physical action.  To jump, to run, to hide, to phone, to scream.  You can see people doing these things.

The verb “try” is different in that it not only uses an object (since you can’t really picture someone “trying” on its own), but that, as I have recently dwelled upon, it is a verb that also implies a mental investment.

Trying is a physical act, like any of the other verbs.  For example, the phrase, “Sally tried to hug a panda” shows Sally attempting — and in all likelihood, failing — to embrace a panda bear.  But what is also there is that Sally is invested in hugging the bear.  Excluding the possibilty that she was drunk, stoned, or just not thinking clearly, her attempt shows she mentally wanted to do it, similar to the mens rea, in Law terminology.  Even if she failed in the physical act of trying to hug the panda, her mens rea, or dedication/investment to her hugging goal, still stands.  And coupled with her mental investment to the goal which is then manifested in the real world through the physical act itself, does it really matter if Sally failed?

Isn’t it enough that she simply tried?

Saturday Morning Documenty: BBC Natural World: Panda Makers

22 01 2011

Okay, so Panda Makers doesn’t sound as cool as Monkey-Eating Eagle but at least it lives up to its name.  And if you like pandas, there’s plenty of OMG-I’m-dying-from-cuteness! in this episode of Natural World.

Because of the endagerment of giant pandas, folks in a city in China started a breeding program consisting of raising 300 pandas in captivity and then releasing them into the wild in the hopes of increasing the population.  This, of course, is controversial because, as David Attenborough (YES!!!!) explains, many captivity breeding programs around the world have failed and some people are arguing that all the money and time being spent on the pandas could be used to protect or save a different species.  However, consider the alternative: doing nothing and letting the panda population slowly become overwhelmed by humans.  It’s worth a try, right?

The footage, as usual, is fantastic.  We get right up close to lots of pandas in the captivity as well as some in the wild.  There’s a tense scene with a female in a cage who is ready to mate but she, along with the male she is set up with, don’t seem to be able to get the hang of it and start to get frustrated, leading to some aggression.  At one point, there’s also footage of a live panda birth, which frankly surprised me as the baby panda suddenly popped out, slippery and squealing.  I didn’t know baby pandas slipped out so easily like that!

What I like best about this episode is, like Planet Earth, there is a gentle nudge of conservation and environmentalism — much more prevalent for obvious reasons in this episode.  Coupled with cute images of panda cubs, it’s impossible not to feel for the furry little creatures (and if you don’t, then hooray, you’ve successfully become an android!).

And last but not least, watching this reminded me of one of my sister’s cats named Panda, named so because of the two black circles around her eyes.  Panda panda!!!!  I miss that cat.

Pandas and workers

Panda cubs with workers at the centre