Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Unsubtle Chance

We remove chance until everything is certain. We use diagrams and science, computer models and simulations. We design planes, cars, and buildings accounting for every scenario. We build safety belts and traffic signs, speed regulators. Alcohol gels and antibiotics destroy bacteria, vaccines, viruses and therefore the sources and transmission of disease. Airbags surround everything. Children are tracked via electronic means. We take vitamins and have tests. Genetics, environmental controls, and statistics draw the length and arc of our lives as clearly as illustrations in a manual.

Then, all at once, unpredictable events happen. Coins always come up tails. Rain falls inside houses. Sacks of gold coins appear in a drawer one minute, only to be replaced with mice. All cars crash all at the same time. Everyone wins the lottery. Once sound buildings collapse. Lightning strikes five times in the same schoolyard.

We have removed too much chance, like sanitized hands where only the most resilient microbes remain. Things are violent and unsubtle. Black Swans drop from the sky like renegade angels only to be followed by blue skies and breezes. What's next? Who knows. What's certain? Nothing.

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