(See original article for pics or diagrams.)
It would seem that humans and brutes take in information and process it in ways that are very similar and at the same time very different (Personal Knowledge: 1974). In the end, the acquisition, processing, usage, and transfer, of information may explain why I think Bo-dog is ultimately happier than the president or any person in our country at this time.
First, let’s take a look at the way Bo (1) acquires information from what I’ll call his event world. Obviously, the dog intakes sense information much like the president. Bo can see, hear, taste, touch, and smell. Lo, while walking along Pennsylvania Avenue at the end of a retractable leash, Bo spies one of D.C.'s fire hydrants at a distance. This memory excites Bo. As he gets nearer, he smells urine. Bo-dog likes that smell.
(2) Processing is already kicking in. Bo decides the odor is similar to urine smelled elsewhere. It may or may not be his. Now (3) utilization perks him up. How will he use this information? Since there is nothing to fear, he will not pull away and run. Rather, the odor prods Bo to satisfy a mere instinctual desire to pee. He (4) transfers this desire to his four legs, lifts one of them high in the air, and pisses his heart out.
Afterward, he makes no real decision. A tug on his leash takes away any real choice Bo has to linger at the hydrant. He knows not where he goes—he simply follows. This routine is familiar to Bo. He has followed the same instinct a bazillion times. This is how he processes information. The furry beast does not seem sad in any way. On the contrary, Bo-dog appears to be happy, satisfied, and somewhat proud, walking from pole to pole, hydrant to hydrant, leaving a squirt behind whenever possible. Public urination does not intimidate him.
Now let’s look at his master, President Obama, sitting in the Oval Office. He (1) acquires information from his event world with his senses just like Bo-dog: seeing, hearing, tasting, touching, and smelling. But Obama has an additional sense—language. The president’s mental language is goading him to apply scientific methods to world politics. He must determine what to do with Afghanistan and ultimately Pakistan. The lives of many depend on his action/inaction.
At this time, he is having difficulty (2) processing his mental language for a correct hypothesis. Why? The language of Americans has turned sour against sending in more troops which will surely result in increased soldier deaths. Yet, the overwhelming language of Obama’s generals calls for large numbers of troops and equipment to defeat Al-Qaida. This insidious group hides in the barren mountainous terrain in both Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Should the United States categorically withdraw like in Vietnam? To bring troops home could have hideous consequences to the peoples of both regions. Should Obama “obey” his generals? To destroy or insulate the 9/11 enemy necessitates more American troops, supplies, at soaring costs.
Since the president thinks in language, not like Bo-dog by mere instinct, Obama is attempting to (3) use all the information presented him to satisfy his own personal intellectual passion for truth and honor in this precarious situation. In a very real sense, the world is waiting to see how the young president will (4) transfer into significant action, what will ultimately be his own subjective value judgment.
As a result, I think Bo is happier than his master at this time. Bo’s information transmission system may be simple, but without language, his “thinking” is instinctive and primitive. I would think Obama might be glad to forget world politics for a few minutes and content himself by walking to the nearest Whitehouse men’s room and taking a good, healthy, relaxing whiz!
[As an interesting aside, a professor of world history and world events recently told me that Pakistan has enough troops sitting on its Indian border to defeat Al-Qaida. But Pakistan is fearful of reassigning these troops for fear India will invade Pakistan.]