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A few ladies and lots of tigers
by Jan Sand
2007-01-21 10:50:33
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If you take a full bucket of water and poke a very small hole somewhere in the bottom, nobody will be surprised to see water leaking out of the hole. Nobody would assume that there is a marvelous intellect residing in water that is required to assiduously search over the very large surface of the interior of the bucket to discover precisely where the bucket has a very small hole where it can succeed in escaping.

Nature, in general, has all the intellectual resources of that water in the bucket. And those resources have performed marvelously to create dynamic systems of incredible sophistication which human intelligence has only begun to unravel and make useful within humanity’s capabilities.

Quite a few years ago, Frank Stockton wrote a short story about a guy who was put in a tough situation. He was shoved into an arena with two doors. If he opened one door a beautiful lady would step out as his prize. If he opened the other door a hungry tiger would spring out and chew him up. The story ended indecisively so the reader never knew which door he chose. Nature is a bit like that arena.

There was no possibility of opening the tiger door just a bit and a pussycat would stroll out or just peeking into the lady door that would have released a pleasant little girl. The consequences were total and striking for each choice.

Nature has its tipping points and mankind has been pulling on a tiger door for over a hundred years and tigers are scratching to get out.

Mankind has been exceedingly lucky in these last couple of centuries in its fund of curious and capable people who felt compelled to observe closely what went on openly around them and made incisive decisions about how the different parts of the world interacted. They have teased out seemingly minor forces and discovered how they could be re-enforced and coordinated with other forces to produce surprisingly powerful and very useful phenomena.

Much earlier in human development the obvious and terrifying tiger of fire that occurred naturally but irregularly was domesticated and harnessed for warmth, control of ceramics and metals, weaponry, and improvement of food. Nevertheless, this current pussycat demands strict supervision to prevent its natural tendency to run wild and destroy.

More recently, this original tiger has been taught to drive engines on land, at sea and in the air with the subtle but cumulative side effects of radically altering Earth’s relationships with the Sun. The tiger that we thought we had transformed into a lady is suddenly perceived to manifest stripes.

The electrical lady has shown her claws to kill a few careless people here and there and escorted a few criminals to hell but, on the whole, she has been well behaved. There is small chance electricity as courted by humans will ravage the countryside aside from a few regular zaps each year from Zeus

That atomic tiger that made its traumatic debut half a century ago by vaporizing a couple of cities has returned to its lair but the alert ear can discern regular growls shaking any calm on the scene. This beast whose very shit is deadly has a coterie of idiots who are eager to let it roam free. There is always a crowd eager to sell their souls to the devil without the foresight to realize where it could end.

That bucket keeps dribbling tigers behind tempting doors and those doorknobs keep shining in the sunlight.

Let’s hope the next one is a lady, but the odds are against us.

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