Space isn’t big enough for: 20%

There’s an ancient saying among managers: 80% of your problems will come from only 20% of the population.  It doesn’t matter if the population is springs that go boing, or people writing programs in your application department.

The further we look, the more galaxies we find.The latest FBI statistics I saw indicated that about 80% of the crimes were being committed by a regular 20% of the population.

In the movie Casablanca, the Chief of Police tells his captain to round up the usual suspects.  In truth, that’s not a bad strategy.  Those people might at least know something, even if not being guilty outright.

Here’s the deal.  Once you get enough people together, anywhere, there’s going to be a small number of “bad apples” who create a bunch of mischief for the “good apples.”

The key word here is — anywhere.

No matter what kind of great people we send to the moon, there will be a few who turn out to be troublemakers.  Why?  Because it’s human nature.

The problem is that the first moon colony isn’t going to have the resources to keep that person in line all the time.  There certainly won’t be someone free to watch them all the time, and if they do something naughty and have to be put away, where will that be?  There won’t be any room for a jail.

So what happens?

In short, there won’t be room for these people.  The early settlers are going to have to make some very tough choices.  Down here where the air is almost free and there’s room to spread out, the cost of taking care of a miscreant is relatively small.

But up there, where there is no air and you can hear every sound your neighbor makes in their sleep, the cost of keeping a nasty person in stir will be very high.

The solution?  Swift vigilante justice.  A community tribunal, and equally swift sentence.  The judge can say cuffs come off, rejoin your friends.  Or the judge can tell them to take a short walk outside the dome, without a suit.

Of course, after that short walk, someone will have to bring him back inside.  After all, in outer space, there isn’t going to be room for cemeteries either.  We’re going to need everybody for fertilizer.

After all, each body is about 80% water, and 20% fertilizer.



Dandelion Whine

Let’s play alien.

No, not the kind who crosses our border.  I mean the real, scary, futuristic space-ship kind.  The ones with no hair, all wearing the same clothes (or none at all!), and used to say “take me to your leader.”  They don’t say that anymore because we realized that if they’d come here from great distances they’d have to be pretty smart.  And even the dumbest human knows our leaders are useless.

The fun part of being a student of behavior is that we get to look at the most ordinary behaviors in fresh new ways.  A very fun way to do this is to pretend we’re not from here.  Where are we from?  Let’s say we’re from Rigel.

So we land in a typical urban suburb.  What do we see?  Many dwellings, nicely lined up.  Each has a bit of land between them, and often there’s some kind of thin divider as well.  What does all this mean?

We watch a while and realize the dwellings are where family units live.  The dividers keep the families apart, and the land is something the families spend much time on.  In fact, it appears that much attention is spent on the land, perhaps even more than the dwelling.

And if we watch for a longer while, we realize that our natives seem fascinated with keeping their land green.  Any other colors that intrude are immediately removed.  Yellow dandelions, purple violets, white mushrooms, even off-green clover is considered unclean.

The lengths to which our natives go to remove these colors is also extreme.  They intentionally poison the land in order to heighten the green and kill the other plants.  Yet that same poison means they have to tend the green even more (it grows faster) and they have to take extra precautions against the poison.  For instance, they can’t walk on their green soon after poisoning it.

Finally we look around and try to understand their economy.  Ahh, there it is.  A large industry exists to sell poison and keep the green, green.  It’s important to these creatures, and they have made it part of their society.  This will make for an interesting conversation around the sprooggle cooler back on Rigel.

And what a coincidence.  Can you guess the color of sprooggle?