On the efficacy of computer modeling in Mysticland without programming the people parameter.
As a foreigner in the wonderful country of, say, Mysticland, one of the phrases you most often hear when trying understand the intricacies of society, law or food is: "You're not Mystic, you can't understand"....
...or when explaining what sounds to you a perfectly good & logical plan, your local friends, smile, raise a glass & say: "It wouldn't work here, this is Mysticland".
I would like to say that no matter how much you immerse yourself in the Mystic culture you still find that you hear these phrases when expressing what seem like perfectly valid opinions, but I think it is also true to say that, once you are immersed then you learn to keep quiet & let the Mystics express their opinions and learn the ways of Mysticland.
To do otherwise results only in a hangover bought on by long & increasingly slurred circular arguments which always end with "You just do not, nor can you ever, understand because you're not Mystic".
As a foreigner somewhat immersed in say, Thailand, I know first hand the frustration of a circular argument and am still not yet immersed not to be a little offended when someone who knows my history here reminds me that "It wouldn't work, this is Thailand" when I come up with one of my earth shatteringly brilliant ideas to save the world.
With that frustration in mind, I try not to patronise others when they unveil their earth shatteringly brilliant ideas.
Instead, I thought I'd try an illustrate with one unsubstantiated rumour, one recent news story and an old quote from three mystical places. I'll start with the rumour first as it is always best to get the untruth out of the way in Mysticland.
Recently, in Sri Lanka a wild tusker died, the tusker had allegedly been harrying villages on the edge of his realm and the decision was taken to relocate him to, hopefully, deeper forest elsewhere. With this in mind he was sedated, herded onto a truck & driven off into the sunset (the wildlife vets etc. present prefer to travel at night as it is cooler). At some point the boards in the truck gave way causing him to fall through the floor and sustain injuries bad enough that, despite the best attentions of the vets and a decision that they were close enough to the forest to let him go there, he succumbed to his injuries & died.
So far no rumour, that's the true & verified (thanks to friend Mr Srilal Miththapala) part.
The rumour was picked up by a Sri Lankan Newspaper (& then quashed by Mr Srilal - who is a wild elephant advocate extraordinaire) and went a little like this (is it too late to warn you not to click the link? - the photos are graphic): The tusker, who had perhaps the grandest tusks of any wild elephant in Sri Lanka had been deliberately targeted for some form of execution by a politician, the politician in turn had ordered this elephant targeted on the advice of a soothsayer. The politician, it was rumoured, had gone to the soothsayer in order to turn around a run of bad luck and had been advised that the only, or perhaps the easiest, way to come back to sunny sailing in his life was to acquire a set of elephant tusks at least as tall as he was, the rumour then went that the only such beast left (except perhaps one other) in Sri Lanka was the majestic and ill-fated Parakrama.
As I said, after investigation by Srilal the rumour was deemed false, but my point is that it was a rumour plausible enough to make the papers.
The second case I'd like to bring was one from the annals of the United States border authority, but I don't yet count the States as part of Mysticland, the mystical bit came from Africa but was only stumbled upon by the uniformed officials, who, quite rightly, don't do mysteries.
The case in question is, a suitcase (sorry), which was found to contain five chicken feathers, two elephant tails, two dried chameleons, one genet skin, grass, pea and seed pods, tree bark chips, soil, a water jug containing soil, herbs, blood and sheets covered with blood from a sacrificed chicken. They were to be bought in to the U.S. for ceremonial purposes.
The third quote (& I apologise to the rest Mysticland for choosing a happy quote for Thailand and some less than happy ones for other Mystic provinces - regular readers (& visitors) will know that Thailand is just as mystical as the other provinces of Mysticland (less regular readers, come drink the snake whisky at the bar & I'll explain) comes from an old Bangkok Post article about the Khru Ba Yai, the mahout monks from Surin, the spiritual leaders of the people (whose name I'm not going to try to pronounce after an awful mistake at dinner last night, trying to speak Thai to someone whose English (& Thai) is far better than mine) from whom most of our mahouts come.
The quote is from the elder of the Khru Ba Yai, Khru Meu, one of the very few men alive in Thailand to have legally caught elephants using the ancient tradition of his people, back in the mists of time. He says: "We can't live without [domestic] elephants, without them, we can't be happy".
My point in bringing these stories to folks, at least those of you living in far off Logicalia, is not to say that your brilliant plan is impossible even though the computer model says otherwise, after all Mysticland has it's fair share of great universities, scientists and professors, nor to point out that Mysticland is somehow backward (you wouldn't catch me living anywhere in Logicalia) but that, as brilliant as the computer and dry statistics say your plan is there is always that unprogrammable parameter of people. A people quite often more in touch with their past and their traditions and quite often less connected to the modern world that we like to think we are. A people that sees more ghosts than we do (I wouldn't want to live in a country that doesn't see ghosts).
If you have a grand plan, please don't think we're being rude or difficult & turning down your help, in fact we know we need it, please bring your print outs & parameters, settle here awhile, enjoy the food, the weather, the people, the mysticism even. We all agree the future will be difficult for elephants and elephant people alike, let's work together on a solution that works for all concerned, something the computer might not completely understand (we'll still ask it's help for the scientific bits), something that might take awhile to design & even longer to implement, but something that might just work.