Corruption and Paradox:

-A Snake in Paradise?

-Or just a bug in the System?

Why do things Go Wrong?

Idealism and Corruption:

The road to Hell is paved with good intentions is a favourite saying that, in my experience, often proves to be true.

I believe the reason is that people often put too much emphasis on "Ends" (the desired results of a process) and not enough on the "Means" (the way those "ends" are to be achieved within a specific context).

Somehow, traditional western culture seems to believe that the world is essentially "linear" (i.e. changing something will always cause a predictable, proportional, reaction somewhere else).

For example: Turn up the gas supply to a boiler and the water inside will become warmer.

However, in practice, it seems that life (and nature) are Non-linear:

For example: In many cases turning up the gas supply will increase the temperature in a boiler.

However, in some cases, the boiler might explode, killing several people.

If that happens, then there will be many complex and unpredictable reactions -depending on the circumstances. Such as: How powerful are the people who's family members are killed? Who owns the boiler, who was responsible for the explosion, etc...

Additionally, again depending on circumstance, each death (or injury) involved will also set off a chain of actions and reactions. The death of a teacher will affect all their students. The death of a person with rare specialist knowledge or skills can effect a whole community, etc., etc...

The World is not Homogenous:

Western philosophy preaches Universal Truth:

i.e. That which is true in one place must always be true everywhere else. A good solution to a problem in one context should work equally well for all other similar problems in other contexts.

However, this too is not true.....

Living on a mountain top is different to living in a valley. Weather and climate will be different. Temperature, rain and sunshine patterns will also vary depending on where one lives.

In some places, there will be lots of rain, in others almost none. Rivers may be fast flowing and liable to unexpected flash floods, or they may be sluggish and reliable.

Some places may be full of trees, while in other places only rocks, or mud. So the readily available building materials will be different. Of course, this can be modified by importing other materials (as fashion or necessity dictates) from other places -but this too will be dependent on the internal and external socio-economic structures -and is likely to have an influence on how they both develop further.

Global Commercial Homogeneity may be encouraged or enforced by trade and/or military force -however, under the facade of similarity, the differences will almost always remain.

One can change local climate conditions  through the introduction of foreign materials and technology -but the cost/benefit ratio  will not be the same everywhere.

For example, the amount of energy required for heating or cooling in extreme areas will be different for those in more moderate areas. The cost of importing (certain types of) food into some areas will be different than in others. Production costs will affect wages and profit -which can affect investment in better materials and technology. Wages, profits and living conditions can vary depending on global currency exchange rates (set by the rich banking countries). The price of copper or rice may be low -but the cost of machinery to mine the copper or grow the rice may be high.

Under these conditions, it is difficult to see how solutions that are effective in one place will be equally effective in another place with totally different socio-economic or environmental conditions.

Fools rush in, where Angels fear to tread:

Of course, one cannot think of all the consequences of every action one takes -if one did then there would be no time left to actually do anything.

However,  when planning new projects, it might be a good idea to try to understand how the various components fit together -within the specific context of the intended action.

Perversion and Addiction:

Such things are usually seen in a moral context -but it is also to see such things from a more functional perspective.

Imagine one is on a journey to a certain place. One is heading in a certain direction and navigating by various objects visible in the landscape. Suddenly, one encounters a large rock. It is very difficult to climb -so one walks around it.

However, while navigating around the obstacle, one looses sight of some of the orientation points -and so one misjudges the new direction. One believes one is still heading towards the original destination -but because one is actually heading in a new direction -the original destination is getting farther and farther away, instead of getting nearer.

For example, Labour saving devices can sometimes be like the big rock: One thinks that one will save energy by using them -but in fact, they are so expensive to buy and to use, that one ends up working much harder than before, simply to buy the labour saving devices.....

One may think that smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol or taking drugs makes life easier and more enjoyable -but in the long run, they ruin ones health, cost a lot of money and energy  to obtain -and, in the long term, actually make life more difficult.

Accidental or Deliberate?

A focus on short term gains which ignores the long term effects may cause one to  fall into a trap of one's own making.

However, of course, it is possible that others have set a trap for you to fall into:

The Labour saving device salesperson may not worry about the fact that you have to work harder in order to buy these devices, as long as they can feed their family well on the proceeds of your foolishness.

They may just be happy simply to sell you the products you think that you want -but they may also have a friend working in the advertising industry who is working (more than) full time to persuade you to buy the things you don't need -just so they can feed their families at your cost.

Internal Paradox:

Once upon a time, I was told the tale of a drunken student. Apparently, he came home from a party late at night and discovered he had been locked out of his dormitory. Knowing that he lived in walled compound inside another walled area -he climbed over the outer wall and staggered around looking for the second wall.  At last he found it -and climbed over -only to discover that he was back on the street outside.....

Natural Disasters and Human Foolishness:

The last time I was contemplating the writing of this text, I was interrupted by a 7.2 magnitude earthquake. I was distracted for nearly two weeks, while my family and I wondered about aftershocks and safety -and wrestled with some of the resulting inconveniences.

Even if I had not been distracted by the earthquake, it would have been impossible to continue working: For several days afterwards we had no electricity (and no water) and it took even longer to get the internet connection back again.

However, I was inspired to add this section on "Natural Disasters"

Human foolishness?

Clearly, we are sometimes (or maybe always) faced by circumstances beyond our control.

The question is: How do we react to them:

If they can't be prevented, can they be avoided?
Can their effects be minimized?

Or should we be fatalistic and accept the consequences?

Do we understand enough about the world we live in to be able to make wise choices?

Do we have the intellectual skills required to analyze the risks and to take appropriate action?

Is it worth the bother -if one can never solve all the problems involved?

Dreams and Nightmares:

Are our dreams realistic and achievable -are they likely to turn into nightmares?

Or should our dreams serve merely as aspirations -never to be achieved, but merely inspiring us to look for better ways of living our normal daily lives?

Sometimes, perhaps, we prefer to keep our eyes closed -so we can dream -as an attempt to avoid the things we would see if fully awake.......

Before asking if it was better To Do or Not to Do
 -perhaps, we should ask ourselves if it is better To Know or Not to Know....

Think Tank

Trevor Batten
<trevor at tebatt dot net>
Baclayon 2012