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Design is an art form. Art imitates nature. In nature, form follows function. It is the mandate of the cosmos. Planets, stars, animals, plants, that pimple on your earlobe do not look like that simply for aesthetics. Their appearance has a purpose.

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Form follows Function. Let us not give hackneyed examples like web/graphic/industrial/product design, publishing, packaging, advertising, etc. Especially not advertising. I loathe it. I keep far from it as much as possible. You can’t even compare it to an ailing man. Most diseases can be cured. Advertising tries to cure you. Then, voila, you’re sick. But I digress.

Let us talk about the Form-Function relationship in terms of living things, like, umm… dogs.

About 30, 000 years ago, our ancestors have tamed wolves probably for the same reason as my aunt’s. Wolves, in turn, figured out that they have a better chance of survival — by being friendly to humans — than their more aggressive pack mates. It is easier to be fed than to hunt for your own food. Win-win. But over the centuries, we have bred our canine friends to become eye candy. We have rebelled against nature and created abominations.

Look at those pugs! You think they’re cute? I don’t think so. Our design has rendered them smaller and weaker to fend for themselves. In addition, pugs are brachycephalic, which means that they have high foreheads, shortened snouts, and enlarged eyes. However “adorbs” they appear to be, these features make it hard for them to regulate their body temperature and would also put them at risk of popping their eyes out. (Thank you, Emily Graslie of the Brainscoop, for teaching me this bit of info. Thank you, Internet.)

My aunt wants to keep dogs for household security. She’s not picky when it comes to dog breeds. An Askal (mongrel) would do as long as it is able to warn us of unwelcome visitors and intruders. And Askals (not the Football/Soccer team) aren’t picky when it comes to food and lodging. But as far as I can remember, all she did was scold or hit our dog whenever it barks. Why? Because, according to her ears, Mojo (our dog, not the monkey) was not barking the way he’s “supposed to.” Bitter-sweet laughter ensued… in my head. What she heard sounded more like a whimper, rather than a growl, because Mojo was not trying to warn her of impending danger. The poor dog was probably complaining about his sordid condition. Dog barks come in different forms according to their function.

And while we’re on the subject of pets, let’s include fish, birds, monitor lizards, iguanas and turtles.

The aquarium didn’t last long even if my father attended to it regularly. Maybe because it was not housed inside a Chinese restaurant (where fish are said to thrive). Sarcasm aside, the fish went, er… sleeping with the fishes.

We’ve had birds. Their life was grim to begin with — they were named after local celebrities. The first and second ones hit the bucket due to bad health; the last one, still due to bad health… and loneliness, I guess. Watching your comrades fall one after the other inside that stinky cage will break your fowl heart. It would be a consolation if you were free to find a new mate or circle of friends. But we know that pet birds aren’t free. Inside their cages, they only have their poop for company. Outside, there are hungry cats and kids with slingshots.

There was a monitor lizard, too. I forgot his name. He got fat thanks to an abundant supply of chicken innards. He couldn’t move around his cramped cage. You guessed it. He died a few months later.

My sister brought home an iguana one day and named her (or was it him) Taylor. It managed to slip out of its tether. I think it’s dead. With giant rats roaming under our house, there’s no way a puny lizard would have a chance of seeing the light of day. Still no sign of Taylor until now.

And finally, there’s Turtle. He doesn’t have a name. We just call him Turtle. He’s still alive. He even had a role in a short film about mental disorders. Turtle used to try to escape, as what other wild pets do. Sometimes he succeeded, but he never went far. Lately, he won’t open his eyes. His movements are slow as, er… a tortoise. “Duh, he’s a turtle”, you might say. Small freshwater turtles are fast, FYI. I think he’s dying.

(A moment of silence…)

Depressing events abound, but I am still unable to convince my family that we don’t need any more animals. We are incompetent in taking care of their needs and showing them affection. They’re not objects for amusement or utility. Their function is not to be in this sad, wretched form.

Life is [redacted] good design. We spoil it because we think we’re [redacted] better designers.