Innovation and creativity by the quotidian man


Innovation and creativity are two of America's greatest strengths. Unfortunately, much of what we read about in the national media involves the innovations of a small elite backed by the finance industry. It is very rare that the wall-street + media propaganda machine deigns to cover an ordinary act of creativity and it is even rarer that the result of this ingenuity is really exceptional.

That is what makes this front page story in New York all the more remarkable.  Three robbers using professionally sculpted masks to change their race as well as police uniforms stuck up a check cashing facility in Queens and escaped with $ 200,000. It was a complete success that apparently would have succeeded if it weren't for indiscrete comments in the aftermath (according to the article).

The particularly impressive parts about it were inspiration from the arts (apprently a film The Town), attention to detail, the willingness to make a large investment up front (the masks alone cost $2,000 apparently) and presumably execution of the plan over a long period of time.

While the creativity and inspiration are abundant in the US, the latter three are relatively hard to find outside of the elite. Particularly, the attention to detail, as we see in everything from the subway, to the city sidewalks, to the rural recycling centers or the clauses in contracts, is horrendous. I recently bought three 2 x 4s and a 6 x 6 tie from Home Depot in order to rebuild a garage beam and connect it to the studs. Well, as it turns out, the 2 x 4s here are not actually 2 x 4, but rather 1 and 3/4 x 3 and 1/2, but the tie is not commensurately adjusted to take this into account. Hello?! Are you serious?!

The willingness to make a large investment is statistically nearly impossible because we don't save, and spend recklessly on wasteful consumption. Finally, and this is a topic for another post, we have tremendous difficulty executing a plan over a long period of time. My theory is that this is partially connected to the English language, with its subject-verb-object or subject-predicate structure that provides all the information up front, i.e. in a short, immediate burst, which is exactly what I oberve: a short burst of energy on the back of a lot of inspiration/stimulus/excitement that eventually peters out and leads to either poor quality results or nothing at all. We see this from community gardens, to new initiatives, to conversation, everyday projects, relationships, dating, etc. They are all front-loaded, so to say.

These robbers did it all right, too bad they got caught.

by Henry Whittlesey

White and wrong by Selim Algar

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