23 March 2009

Lateral As in "Sidestep"

Back in WWII, the British Navy was concerned about its lack of aircraft carriers, those American and Japanese behemoths of the sea that allowed nifty fighter planes to launch and engage the enemy in new ways. Since building one (or a few) would take years and the German threat was literally days away, the British were brainstorming for ideas.

One did come up: Use icebergs. Drag one out of the North Sea, flatten the top to accommodate airstrips and several buildings and tow it into position. You'd have a massive unsinkable aircraft carrier in weeks rather than years and save tons of (British) pounds to boot.

Quoting the source I read this in: "The idea was too lateral for the British Navy to accept!"

We in Puerto Rico have lateral thinking. Tons of it. Megatons of it. I'm talking metric megatons of lateral thinking that We couldn't throw away if We ever set Our minds to it.

That is, We have all that if by lateral you mean "stepping to the side." Lateral as in "moving aside." Lateral as in "dodging or avoiding." And I might add "Like Satan flees from holy water." (I had an metaphor here about the Pope and his kidneys, but passed [water] on it...)

Yup, We sidestep thinking. Not all of Us, but almost all of the people who should be thinking, like legislators and business leaders and mayors and governor-plus-staff, etc. You see, to engage in lateral thinking you have to at least have some modest acquaintance with actual thinking, with peering deep into a problem and finding a reasonable solution. Once you can do that, then you can toss in some imagination and let your thoughts romp like fluffy lambs in fragrant clover and pretty soon, something new and clever will appear. Might not be reasonable, might not even work, really, but it will be different. And different--when things are looking damn bleak--is very good.

Instead, what We have leading the Charge of the Light(Weight) Brigands is a posse of flatliners with self-delusions of adequacy, burnt-out sparkplugs in an engine crusted through and through with decades of sludge. If these lead-heads had been faced with the British aircraft carrier problem, they could have never come up with an idea as quirkily brilliant as that of using icebergs. I'm not talking about lack of brainpower, in this case: what Our so-called leaders lack is the will to see beyond the obvious.

It takes a mature mind--or a child-like one--to blend imagnation and thought into a powerful process for creativity. We can blame the educational system for quashing creativity--for destroying that most powerful of tools--because creativity is hard to control and hard to control means threatening. So Our children are bashed over the head with "facts" that often resemble "crap" and when too many questions are asked (and one is often too many), the response is to stop that nonsense right now.

Then Our business environment takes the tone of "the boss knows best" when it is often patently evident that "the boss has no clue and given a map to a stapled clue on his right butt cheek, s/he couldn't find it in a month of Mondays."

And finally, Our political swamp has the heightened awareness of a dozing sloth clinging to a mossy rotted branch, and woe betide any upstart who deems to bring new ideas to the political swamp for s/he shall be drowned in mustiness and kicked over to dry land. 

No one needs to wonder why We are stuck where We are once boricua "lateral" thinking is explained. As Einstein is reputed have said: The significant problems we have cannot be solved at the same level of thinking with which we created them. If idiots created them--and they did--then idiots will never--never--be able to solve them.

Quoting the inimitable Linda Ellerbee: And so it goes.

The Jenius Has Spoken.


1 comment:

The Insider said...

The 2nd iteration (after using ice bergs) was an ice alternative, called Pykrete, specifically ice re-enforced with wood pulp fibers, with a density of near water but characteristics *similar* in some respects to concrete.

Video on research in WWII:

Info on Pykrete:

I don't know about the viability of something like this, but I can imagine the world wide media coverage Puerto Rico would get if they decided to build a ski hill using Pykrete in the mountains near San Juan. ;)