Friday, July 8, 2011

The Tube

© MMXI v.1.1.0
by Morley Evans

My Motto is "If I can understand it, anyone can understand it." If they don't understand, I'll see what I can do to explain it better.

Mr. Harry Beck, who designed the schematic diagram of the London Underground may have had the same motto as me. Beck was a worker in the underground railway system who designed his masterpiece in his spare time. He was paid 5 guineas for his work in 1933 (less than $10). He was inspired by the underground sewer system. Hundreds of millions of travellers around the world have found Beck's way of seeing things very helpful. Topographic maps of the Tube have been used ever since and have been copied by systems around the world.

2011 Official Tube Map

Possibly millions of people are like Mr. Beck. They are history's unsung heroes. Unlike most of them, Mr. Beck got credit for his creation which hangs in a museum. The others to whom we owe a debt remain invisible.

Despite receiving the lion's share, giant organizations like universities, billion dollar corporations, government mega-projects and blue ribbon research agencies rarely discover much. Yet they claim problems today are too big for anyone small. Of course they claim that.

The Wright brothers (flight), Alexander Fleming (penicillin), Steve Jobs (personal computers) and Nicola Tesla (electricity) are perfect examples of individuals triumphing where giant organizations failed. Isaac Newton (physics), Copernicus (astronomy), and Marco Polo (exploration) were not members of leading organizations. Einstein did his best work in his spare time working as a clerk in the Swiss patent office.

Some people are greatly rewarded for their contributions, others are not. Position, wealth and power are won by those who are adept at acquiring them. Winning these (and fame too) requires skills which may not include virtue and intelligence, yet the young are taught that good ideas and good morals are most important if they want to succeed and become rich and famous. These are most important but they may not lead to "success".

It is always important to work at things that will lead to one's goals.

It is true that many, perhaps most, "leaders" are idiots. They succeed by acquiring and keeping power — which is the support of many, not by having the best ideas or being virtuous. Once, the best fighters in hand-to-hand combat became the leaders — exactly like lions. Today, advanced weapons level the field of combat and "politics" is what matters. Of course "politics" has been important for a long time, look at Alexander, Qin Shi Huang, Caesar, and Genghis Khan. 

The best ideas and the best people do not necessarily rise to the top. Some good things and some good people are stuffed down the tube.

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